Not a Parody?

At Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the “Open House” residence is:

a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities.

I am shocked that they have invisibilized and excluded Two Spirit (TS) Native Americans, as well as the entire Intersex (I) community from their acronym. (And no, adding on “gender dissident communities” as a generality does not appease us. We demand full acronym inclusion, Now!

More. No, this is not a parody. It’s a link from the official Wesleyan Program Housing page. It is conceivable that the denizens of Open House themselves are having some fun, but given the general humorlessness of LGBT political correctness that would truly mark them as outliers.

Breaking Ranks on the Right

Jonathan Rauch and others across the liberal/conservative spectrum ask Can Gay Wedlock Break Political Gridlock?: Some excerpts from their manifesto:

Suddenly, it’s in both parties’ interests to fight the broader decline of marriage. Here’s the case for a “marriage opportunity” agenda. …

But now, particularly as the legal and social barriers to gay marriage come down, we have reached a moment when we may finally be able to change course. Today we have a remarkable and perhaps even unique opportunity to think anew about the meaning and role of marriage and to come together as a nation to address the growing class divide in American marriage. …

Conservatives fighting for social stability and stronger families can now, based on the logic of their deepest values, recognize gays and lesbians who seek the same family values.

As I’ve said before, you won’t convert the hardcore traditionalist religious right, but other conservatives are starting to break ranks (witness the number of GOP governors in states where courts have ordered equal access to marriage, who have stated that same-sex marriage is now the law and it’s time to move on).

Other examples in today’s news: In New Hampshire “Dan Innis, the married gay man who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in New Hampshire, was confirmed to be a member of the state Republican Party’s leadership,” reports BuzzFeed. And Politico reports “The head of the Log Cabin Republicans has been invited to speak on a panel at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, the pro-gay rights group announced Monday.” (The Washington Blade’s coverage is here.)

Small moves, perhaps, but signs of the times.

More. Via the Wall Street Journal:

After a court struck down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage last month, [Jeb] Bush called for “respect for the rule of law.” The softer tone from Mr. Bush contrasts with the positions of other Republicans weighing presidential campaigns. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee recently said that expecting Christians to accept gay marriage is like “asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.” Other likely GOP candidates have taken stances akin to Mr. Bush’s. …

While socially conservative voters, who typically dominate several of the earliest presidential nominating contests, tend to oppose gay marriage, other Republicans see it as a wedge issue that would inhibit the nominee’s appeal in the general election. “I don’t know how you can be a conservative and want less government and yet want government to tell you what to do in your personal life,” said Julie Finley, who co-hosted a northern Virginia fundraiser for Mr. Bush earlier this month.

Furthermore. I didn’t intend for this to be a post about Jeb Bush, but here’s BuzzFeed on how things are changing in the GOP, which is the point of the original post:

When Bush officially launches his presidential bid later this year, he will likely do so with a campaign manager who has urged the Republican Party to adopt a pro-gay agenda; a chief strategist who signed a Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for marriage equality in California; a longtime adviser who once encouraged her minister to stick to his guns in preaching equality for same-sex couples; and a communications director who is openly gay.

Social conservative Rod Dreher laments:

To an extent that would have been unthinkable in past elections, one of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination has stocked his inner circle with advisers who are vocal proponents of gay rights. … [Bush’s actions] ought to bring home to social conservatives how profoundly we have lost this thing. … Besides, we all know that the Supreme Court is going to constitutionalize same-sex marriage later this year, so there’s a political advantage to getting on the SSM bandwagon before SCOTUS leaves socially conservative Republicans behind.

Final word. Yes, Bush also says, when asked, “I believe in traditional marriage.” As do the GOP governors that are now enforcing marriage equality because it’s the law in their states. This, too, is politics, and there will still be attempts to placate the social conservative faction of the Republican base. But pretending that nothing is changing in the GOP is partisan hackery.

At CPAC, Ted Cruz was noticeably an outlier. That, too, is a sign of change.

Discrimination and Choice

The case of the Michigan pediatrician who declined to take as a patient the newborn child of two lesbians moms, instead referring the family to another doctor in her practice, is being raised as a picture perfect example of why anti-discrimination laws are needed. As Dr. Vesna Roi explained in her letter to Jami and Krista Contreras, “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients. I felt that was not fair to the two of you or to Bay [the baby]. I felt that you deserved that type of relationship and I know you could get that with Dr. Karam.”

This is a grayer area than forcing bakers, caterers and photographers to provide expressive/artistic services in celebration of same-sex weddings. Access to medical care strikes deep chords. In a better world, Dr. Roi wouldn’t have felt this way. But with an anti-discrimination statute, would the Conteras and their baby be better off with a surly and resentful pediatrician? But what about families who don’t have medical options?

More. In the end, medical care should not be denied on the basis of minority status. Whether this requires government intervention is quite another matter, and there is a convincing case that the better response is censure by the American Medical Association, which holds that:

“A physician may decline to undertake the care of a patient whose medical condition is not within the physician’s current competence. However, physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept patients because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other basis that would constitute invidious discrimination.”

That said, in a non-emergency situation where there are choices, why would you want the doctor who doesn’t want you?

Added: Censure by a licensing organization brings social stigma and can limit practice opportunities. To some, apparently, that’s insufficient and the power of the state must be brought in through anti-discrimination statutes to impose confiscatory financial penalties (which if unpaid lead to the threat of incarceration). Sorry, I don’t feel that the iron fist of the state is necessary in this and similar situations.

Added: For the record, the health practitioners’ credentials at Eastlake Pediatrics include Vesna L. Roi, D.O, and Melinda E. Karam, M.D. So Dr. Roi is not a medical doctor but Dr. Karam is. This makes the demand that Dr. Roi be the primary pediatrician—in lieu of an actual M.D.—seem even more strained.

(And if that is not the objective of the lesbian moms, as some responded indignantly, then what is—that Dr. Roi not be able not to take their child as a patient, which is somehow different from insisting that Dr. Roi be their child’s doctor?)

A further note: The American Osteopathic Association covers sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination provisions, but Dr. Roi does not list the AOA among her associations. She does list the American Academy of Pediatrics, which also prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in its ethics code. I’m betting Dr. Roi wishes she had just said she was too busy to take on new patients.

The Bisexual Governor Story

Democrat Kate Brown was newly sworn in as Oregon governor after the incumbent resigned in yet another green energy/government corruption scandal. As the New York Times reports, Brown:

is also bisexual, having come out in an essay on a website about elected officials who are “out,” and is being recognized by gay rights groups as the first openly bisexual governor in the nation.

Also widely noted, Brown has been married to Dan Little, who has worked for the U.S. Forest Service, since October 1997.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Ms. Brown, 54, who lives in Portland with her husband of 15 years Dan Little and two stepchildren, has been open about her sexuality throughout her long political career….

While gay rights have been expanding at the national and state level, bisexual people—the “B” in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community—have had particular challenges. Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), says bisexuals may in some respects face greater challenges than gays and lesbians.

In terms of behavior, however, Brown might, in fact, seem more akin to an ex-LGBT living a heterosexual lifestyle who acknowledges same-sex attraction, unless (and this isn’t clear from the coverage, which seems adamantly not to want to go there) she has an open marriage. But if you’re going to make a celebration of bisexual identity your story, you’d think clearing up that matter would, well, matter. Whatever.

As a liberal in a very progressive state, the Times observes:

her sexual orientation is unlikely to raise much of a fuss, and in some areas, it could probably be a plus. “I just learned that she’s bisexual,” said Jared Dahle, 28, who works as a window cleaner and in a bar in Portland. “That’s cool.”

Polls and Predictions

New 2016 primary polls by NBC News/Marist College have a surprising finding, reports the Washington Post. The findings show that about half of likely GOP caucus and primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina said they find opposition to gay marriage either “mostly” or “totally” unacceptable in a candidate. Fifty-two percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina said opposing gay marriage is either mostly or totally unacceptable, while 47 percent of likely Iowa caucus voters agree.

The findings, however, have some caveats. For instance:

There’s also the possibility that the poll question confused some people. Asking people about gay marriage opposition rather than support for it brings double-negatives into the picture, possibly confusing some poll respondents. And people are more apt to respond in the negative when in doubt. …

You also have to wonder just how much of a deal-breaker gay marriage support is. The poll asked about opposition to gay marriage—not support—so it’s a little harder to suss out just how many people would vote against a candidate who supports gay marriage. We’re guessing it’s still more of a voting issue for those who oppose gay marriage than those who support it— at least on the GOP side.

I think these poll results need to be taken with a grain of salt. But if not now, then sooner than many expect, support for marriage inclusive of same-sex couples will be an accepted conservative stance, as it is in Britain and, albeit to a lesser extent (for now) in Canada, although a religious-traditionalist bloc within the party will remain opposed.

Too Much, Too Soon, For Some

While I disagree with forcing private citizens in business to provide services to same-sex weddings in violation of their religious beliefs, I believe that local government officials whose job is to perform civil weddings should not be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples, or to refuse to marry all couples, as some judges in Alabama are doing. Still, as this Washington Post story makes clear, some of these officials are people struggling with deeply felt religious convictions:

Bobby Martin had always found comfort in his job as a judge, the way it felt like a neat intersection of legality and morality, but last week it seemed to him like those two virtues had diverged. As the probate judge of Chilton County, Martin, 69, was in charge of issuing marriage licenses, and he’d done so for 26 years, in a courthouse next to the Baptist church he’d attended for decades, in the town he’d lived in since birth, to any heterosexual couple who came through the doors. This place of churches and farmland had always made sense to him, but now he’d been told he would need to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples, and he didn’t know what to do..…

He could agree to marry everyone, gay and straight, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized it wasn’t an option, not with what he’d been taught to believe about homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage. If it came down to that, he’d just resign, he decided. Retire early, rather than risk moral compromise.

All of these officials do not fit the “bigot” caricature through which they are often viewed by secular liberals (although, admittedly, Alabama’s chief justice Roy Moore does pretty much seem to). Nevertheless, those with government authority are required to treat all citizens as equal under the law. They are public servants, not private citizens. And if they can’t do so, they should move on.

Obama’s Canard

At this delicate moment in the fight for the freedom to marry, the revelation that President Obama was not telling the truth while running for office and during his first years in the presidency, when he claimed he personally opposed same-sex marriage because he felt “marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman,” is not helpful.

Yes, many assumed Obama’s position was taken for political expediency, but being cleverly disingenuous doesn’t make the side fighting for marriage equality look good; it makes us look deceitful. The story of Obama having “evolved” on this issue was a better model of how we hoped others would shift their views.

Opponents of marriage equality will present this, with some justification, as an act to manipulate the stupid yokels (who cling to their guns and religion). This is not the way to win hearts and minds of those who view marriage equality with suspicion.

More. Obama has denied lying about his views on gay marriage, saying that Axelrod confused the president’s personal views with his policy position, and that his policy position evolved. That’s pretty good spin, even if it doesn’t quite address Obama’s campaign statements that clearly sounded as if he personally opposed same-sex marriage because of the “sanctity” issue.

The truth is surely that if the polls had shown a majority of Americans continuing to oppose gay marriage, Obama would have remained in opposition as well.

Furthermore. Kerry Eleveld writes in Politico:

But the candidate voters witnessed never seemed particularly tortured by his stance. Between 2004 and 2008, Obama stated his opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for one man-one woman marriage repeatedly, robotically, and without flinching on numerous occasions. Few of those pronouncements were quite as spectacular as the one he made in 2008 on Rick Warren’s stage at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” he told Warren’s flock of Evangelicals. “Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

The implication was that, in his view, same-sex unions were not holy enough to count as marriages. It wasn’t the statement of a candidate who was squeamish about the consequences of his comments. Rather, it revealed a candidate who was perfectly willing to leverage religious homophobia in his quest for the presidency. In fact, the only hesitation Obama experienced in that moment came from an interruption of excited applause from the crowd.

The president’s loyal LGBT base seems split between two responses: (1) Obama was struggling with the issue for many years and eventually thought it through to the correct conclusion, and (2) Obama, being a smart politician, had to say he opposed same-sex marriage in order to get elected and (eventually) support marriage equality. And the correct answer is (3) Obama followed the polling.

Final word? Via Reason:

It’s not difficult to imagine a pro-choice candidate winning the presidency. But imagine, if you can, a president whose position on abortion “evolves” after the election. Imagine this president advocating that all innocent human life is worth protecting. Imagine that she appoints judges to solidify her new pro-life attitude. And then imagine that the president’s top adviser informs us that the president was a pro-lifer all along. I imagine that would be a pretty big story.

I’m glad Obama has appointed pro-gay-marriage judges. But I can also see why his being duplicitous is so unsettling. It’s reflected in other campaign deceits aimed at wooing the center, including his promises to bridge the partisan divide and to cut the budget deficit by half (a pretense with immense consequences).

Alabama’s End Game

It’s not surprising that Alabama would put up a fight against equal rights to marriage under the law, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to grant a stay to a federal district court’s ruling upholding the freedom to marry, despite Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore instructing probate judges to continue refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, signals the end game. What’s surprising is that things haven’t become even uglier in the Deep South. One can only hope that live and let live with equality under the law is soon seen as the right thing to do by all sides.

More. A statement from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says that while he is disappointed the U.S. Supreme court did not stay the district court ruling, he will not take action against probate judges:

“This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue.

“We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”

The statement is vague, but the Washington Post reports that it means Bentley won’t take action against probate judges who do or do not issue marriage licenses.

Yes, it’s about over. And Judge Moore’s stance, invoking memories of opposition to federal court rulings on desegregation, seems to have backfired. Changing times, indeed.

Parsing Bruni

Liberal, openly gay columnist Frank Bruni makes some worthwhile observations about anti-gay prejudice and intransigence among GOP cultural conservatives, but felt the need to score added partisan points by ignoring the Democrats’ own failings. He writes:

…most states have never enacted laws protecting gay people from employment discrimination.

Federal legislation to that effect finally passed the Senate at the end of 2013, when the chamber was controlled by Democrats, but the Republican-led House never bothered to vote on the bill. And there’s no way that the current Congress will send something like it to President Obama for his signature.

OK, but you wouldn’t know from his accusation that the Democrats controlled both House and Senate from 2008-10, and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act never made it out of committee because, well, the Democratic-led House (and Senate) never bothered to vote on the bill.

Meanwhile, the first law the Democratic Congress enacted was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, supported by feminist groups.

There are interesting conclusions that could be drawn about the Democratic leadership’s decision not to spend political capital to pass ENDA despite having the votes, and why LGBT political lobbies didn’t push harder for it. But you can’t get there if you’re just interested in lambasting the GOP.

More. The argument that the GOP would have used Democratic votes for ENDA as a campaign issue so Democrats were forced into inaction is specious. ENDA enjoyed some GOP support, after all, and an anti-discrimination measure was supported by most Americans. Republican opposition didn’t derail Lilly Ledbetter (a bill that did far more for trial lawyers than working women, who already had statutory rights to equal pay for equal work).

Moreover, the claim that ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a better priority isn’t supported by the facts; the Democratic leadership was uninterested in moving on either ENDA or DADT repeal. The latter happened only at the end of 2010, when there was an eruption by LGBT bloggers and some activists not beholden to the Human Rights Campaign, as it became apparent Harry Reid was blocking a clean vote that could pass (with more GOP support than Democrats predicted). It was this upsurge of anger from the LGBT community, plus the vital intervention of Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Joe Lieberman, that finally pushed the vote to the Senate floor.

Sometime during the previous two years ENDA could have been moved, but the strategy was (as with immigration reform) not to pass a bill, but to keep the hope of future passage alive as a campaign issue that would help mobilize targeted voting blocs in the next election cycle.

Changing Times

The New York Times reports:

Speaker John A. Boehner said on Thursday that he expected House Republicans to accept the decision on same-sex marriage that the Supreme Court is scheduled to issue later this year.

“I don’t expect that we’re going to weigh in on this,” Mr. Boehner said. “The court will make its decision, and that’s why they’re there, to be the highest court in the land.”

The statement comes as a bit of a surprise, given the House Republicans’ expensive defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

A commenter posted on an earlier item that he was afraid predicting that once the freedom to marry was secured, “rich gay men” would “vote their wallets.” To which I can only say, I hope so. Not because greed is good, but because a prosperous, growing economy that creates real jobs relies on private sector investment and modest, targeted regulation, not higher taxes on investments with ever-expanding regulatory burdens, uncertainties and liabilities.

More. The progressives sound worried. Jonathan Capehart writes:

Finally, the LGBT community must do a better job of making common cause with others seeking equality and freedom from discrimination. Where is the community on immigration? On economic inequality? On racial justice? …

There are poor LGBT Americans. There are millions of people who would benefit from an increase in the national minimum wage who are also LGBT.

By the way, the next time you’re faced with self-checkout at the grocery or drugstore, or an automatic parking garage, or, increasingly, automated self-ordering at fast food restaurants, you can thank those increases in the minimum wage intended to help lower-income Americans but which often end up cutting back their hours and opportunities—or eliminating their employment prospects altogether, especially for the young seeking entry into the workforce.

Furthermore. It’s not just LGBT voters who are feeling more at ease with the GOP. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are being wooed by Republicans with increasing success, for example. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

Republicans, after musing about the possibility for more than a decade, have finally found a footing in Silicon Valley, ingratiating themselves with tech entrepreneurs who had long eschewed politics in general, conservative politics in particular.

Democrats haven’t yet lost their advantage, but Bay Area techies are writing increasingly sizable checks to GOP candidates and causes.

You betcha that the waning of the marriage issue is making this much easier for them.