Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

May 1 2015 4:01 PM

More Republicans Support Same-Sex Marriage Than You Think

There may be no pizza at the reception, but according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Wednesday, a majority of American Republicans would attend a same-sex wedding for someone they love.

According to the poll, 56 percent of Republicans, if invited, would attend a same-sex ceremony of a loved one. The percentage compares to 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Independents that would attend. Although only 68 percent of Americans overall would attend same-sex nuptials, the findings within their own party suggest that GOP White House contenders who publicly oppose same-sex marriage might face political risk.


Of the current crop of presidential hopefuls, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum have said they would not attend a gay wedding, while other contenders have expressed openness to the idea. Indeed, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker admitted he attended a wedding reception of a same-sex couple, although he still defines marriage between a man and a woman. Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, said that he opposes same-sex marriage, but would attend a wedding if he were to be invited by a loved one. Meanwhile, other GOP figures, like Governor Rick Perry of Texas, has hedged on the question.

When asked by Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, if he would attend a same-sex wedding, Perry said: “I probably would, but I think the real issue here is that’s the ‘gotcha’ question that the left tries to get out there.”

Although the same-sex wedding litmus test has been criticized by pundits on the left and right, it “forces candidates into a position of either callous honesty or brazen hypocrisy,” according to Outward’s Mark Joseph Stern:

What the gay wedding question really illustrates, then, is the totally untenability of the current moderate Republican line of same-sex marriage: We “respect” your marriages, even as we strive to invalidate them. That position is pure nonsense, a façade of tolerance barely concealing a core of cold-hearted animus. The gay wedding question might sound silly on the surface, but it efficiently cuts through the GOP’s posturing and dissembling and forces them to lay bare the illogic of their position. It’s a question we should ask, and keep asking, until we get an honest answer from every candidate. Only then will we know the answer to the much more important question that no Republican will answer honestly: Just how much do you hate gay people?

With the Supreme Court seemingly divided on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the right to such unions has become a polarizing issue for the 2016 elections. These results suggest that the same-sex marriage question, especially when phrased so personally, could have a significant impact on a GOP nominee’s chances as the race continues.

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May 1 2015 10:51 AM

British Rabbis Play Matchmaker for LGBTQ Jews

JDate. JMeet. JWed. JMatch. JSingles. JZoog. JPeopleMeet. JSwipe. SawYouAtSinai. Supertova. Jewcier. JewishMatch. JewishCafe.

Evidently, the private sector has noticed that some Jewish people wish to date inside the community. But according to Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, all these dating websites have one major flaw.

“With JDate and other services, the assumption is that the people using it are primarily heterosexual, and everyone else is a kind of ‘plus,’ ” Janner-Klausner, the senior rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism in the United Kingdom, told me over the phone recently. These sites are open to gay and lesbian Jews, but in Janner-Klausner’s eyes, queer Jews are an afterthought for the entrepreneurs behind these endeavors, one category on a drop-down menu.

This is just one of the reasons why the British Reform movement has decided to launch a new service in which rabbis and cantors will act as matchmakers for same-sex, as well as opposite-sex, couples. “What’s different is that this will be a gender-neutral space where we start with a value system that believes in the complete equality of all sexualities and of all people,” Janner-Klausner said.

April 30 2015 5:17 PM

The Many Surprises of Bruce Jenner’s Interview

Bruce Jenner’s televised coming out as a transgender woman last Friday was one of the most surprising non-surprises in recent memory. The Diane Sawyer 20/20 special had been teased for months (Jenner’s “revelation” all but promised), and his gender identity had been the subject of speculation—oftentimes prurient and transphobic—in the tabloids and mainstream media for much longer. (Jenner has requested the continued use of male pronouns until a future annoucement.) So when Jenner sat on the cream-colored couch, let his hair down, and told Sawyer “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” it wasn’t much of a shock. The surprises only came later.

April 30 2015 1:00 PM

Courting Queens: A Look at Boys Who Chase Gurls

It’s a conundrum familiar to every drag queen, even if she doesn’t talk about it publicly: How should one feel about Chasers, the men who aggressively pursue drag performers? To be clear, I’m not talking about so-called “tranny chasers,” the admirers who harass transgender people, described in a recent Outward article by Christin Scarlett Milloy. I’m talking about the men who will do whatever it takes to get lucky with queens like me—despite the fact that we queens are no more than grease-paint illusions.

Chasers can be found wherever drag queens gather. In my experience, there’s at least one at every show. They stand along the walls of clubs, or post up at bars, watching and waiting to introduce themselves. Ask any queen, and she’ll tell you that Chasers are handsy headaches who turn our work life into a tiring game of cat and mouse. But not every queen will admit the other side of the story, which is that some of us depend on them.

April 30 2015 11:59 AM

The FDA Should Follow Europe’s Lead and Create Blood Donor Policies Based on Evidence

Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, issued a judgment yesterday requiring nations to base their blood donation policies on the latest scientific evidence, not potentially biased assumptions. The ruling made clear that singling out a particular demographic group as unable to donate blood should be the approach of last resort, used only if no other reliable means of screening blood exists. As the United States Food and Drug Administration prepares to modify its own policy for screening out HIV-positive individuals from donating blood, it should adopt a similar, evidence-based protocol that does not unfairly stigmatize gay and bisexual men.

April 29 2015 1:17 PM

History Matters in the Marriage Equality Case—So Why Are Some Justices Ignoring It?

Jon Stewart recently mocked Congress for congratulating itself for passing a law—that is, for doing its job. I thought of this quip as oral arguments got under way yesterday for the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality cases. Why, several justices wanted to know right off the bat, should we declare a right for gay couples to wed when we’ve never done so before. “This definition,” said Justice Kennedy, speaking of straight-only marriage, “has been with us for millennia. And it­ it’s very difficult for the Court to say, ‘oh, well, we know better.’”

Indeed the justices dwelled inordinately yesterday on the role of tradition, religion and the “democratic process,” lofty concepts that have a place—but a limited one—in modern jurisprudence. “Every definition that I looked up prior to about a dozen years ago,” fretted Chief Justice Roberts, “defined marriage as unity between a man and a woman.” If the plaintiffs were to win, that definition, he claimed, would die. Justice Alito pointed out that even homosexuality-tolerant ancient Greece did not let gays get hitched, suggesting that anti-gay prejudice could not be the basis for banning gay marriage. Justice Breyer, a reliable liberal vote, picked up on the idea, putting Kennedy’s question about millennia of straight-only marriage even more starkly:

The opposite view [that marriage is heterosexual only] has been the law everywhere for thousands of years among people who were not discriminating even against gay people, and suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require States that don't want to do it to change what marriage is to include gay people. Why cannot those States at least wait and see whether in fact doing so in the other States is or is not harmful to marriage?

Justice Scalia raised a related issue, saying the real question was not “whether there should be same­-sex marriage, but who should decide the point. And you're asking us to ­decide it for this society when no other society until 2001 ever had it.”

April 29 2015 12:07 PM

Uh-Oh, Marriage Equality Isn’t Looking as Certain as We’d Thought

After Tuesday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, those who were confidently predicting victory for marriage equality are—if we’re being honest—trembling a bit. Based on the questions the justices asked, the outcome appears to be very much in doubt. And if the court were to decide that states aren’t constitutionally required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the result will be chaos. Marriages in many states could be legally unraveled, leading to consequences that would be sure to tie up couples and courts for years to come.

Before Tuesday, some observers had speculated that Chief Justice Roberts’ vote might be up for grabs, but his questioning left only a little of that hope alive. It seemsJeffrey Rosen was right in arguing, as he did a couple of weeks ago, that Roberts would remain committed to allowing the democratic process to play out in the states.

As usual, then, it is Justice Kennedy’s vote that matters—and even that vote, one previously perceived as likely, now appears uncertain. His questions in a case challenging California’s Proposition 8 a few years ago suggested a tension in his thinking. On the one hand, he was concerned about gay and lesbian couples and their children, expressing the view that denying them the right to marry would both demean them and “humiliate” their children. On the other hand, he worried that allowing such unions would be akin to jumping off a cliff, given the unknown consequences of doing so.

April 29 2015 10:00 AM

Three Ways John Roberts Could Uphold Marriage Equality

Tuesday’s marriage equality arguments at the Supreme Court confirmed many things: Yes, Justice Anthony Kennedy is still concerned about gay couple’s “dignity”; yes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still a fierce defender of constitutional equality; no, Justice Samuel Alito hasn’t stopped spouting nasty nonsense about gay people. But the arguments ended without a clear view into the mind of Chief Justice John Roberts. In recent months, Roberts haslobbied by the left to support marriage equality—and bullied by the right to oppose it. On top of that, many commentators (myself included) have speculated that Roberts might swing to the side of equality this time around.

On Tuesday, however, the Chief Justice’s views remained opaque. Although he pummeled pro-gay attorneys with tough questions, Roberts also engaged with attorneys representing anti-gay states, treating several of their claims with evident skepticism. At the end of the morning, it appeared Roberts had three options open to him if he decides to cast his vote in favor of equality.

April 29 2015 8:48 AM

If SCOTUS Decides in Favor of Marriage Equality, Thank Solicitor General Don Verrilli

In the months leading up to Tuesday’s marriage equality arguments before the Supreme Court, gay rights groups tied themselves in knots over which attorney would represent the cause in front of the justices. The agonizing turned out to be all for naught. Although Mary Bonauto, the anointed advocate for equality, held her own on Tuesday, she failed to point the justices toward a single, unifying argument that would tie together complex legal doctrines and simple human compassion. By the time she sat down, the case for marriage equality had been drowned out by conservative justices’ endless questions about the ancient roots of opposite-sex marriage.

Then two things happened. First, a protestor arose and shouted “Homosexuality is an abomination!” and “You’ll all burn in hell!” Then, seconds after he was escorted from the courtroom, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli approached the bench. As the protestor was dragged down the hall, Verrilli began to defend same-sex marriage on behalf of the United States. Shouts of “abomination” and “hell” echoed into the courtroom as Verrilli began to speak. But he forged ahead anyway—and what he said over the next fifteen minutes masterfully established the burning importance and obvious correctness of marriage equality.

April 28 2015 4:10 PM

The Many Mistakes of Reisner and Weiderpass

In the era of discriminatory “religious liberty” legislation and the so-called “wedding cake wars,” news of protests against LGBT-excluding businesses like pizza parlors and auto-repair shops is not unexpected. But on Monday night in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, protestors demonstrated against an unlikely targetThe Out NYC, a gay-oriented hotel residing in the heart of one of Manhattan’s gayest enclaves. How did this happen? It starts with one of the worst dinner party guest lists of all time.

Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, former life partners who’ve maintained a business relationship, are the duo behind The Out NYC and the connected XL Nightclub. Their hotel and party space has been the setting for all manner of benefits and performances catering to a gay audience and supporting various LGBTQ causes. Reisner expanded his portfolio in January by acquiring, as part of a larger investment partnership, every restaurant and bar in Fire Island Pines, a popular gay beach resort 50 miles east of Manhattan. With their shared Central Park South duplex and lavish lifestyle, Reisner and Weiderpass are A-list gays who are making the most of the freedoms and cache recently afforded to upwardly mobile homosexuals living in the right zip codes. The pair is as hard-living as they are hard-charging: Last May, Reisner crashed his car and was arrested in the Hamptons for “driving while impaired.” And in October, a 23-year-old bartender died of a drug overdose in their apartment. These events have raised eyebrows; but their most recent crash—this one of a political nature—has raised fists.