Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

Jan. 27 2015 1:18 PM

Ireland Is Having a Gay Moment

“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

This is the proposal Ireland’s voters will be considering in a May referendum on same-sex marriage. Recent weeks have seen an increasingly positive light being shone on LGBTQ life in the Catholic nation. Last week, Health Minister Leo Varadkar, one of Ireland’s most prominent politicians, came out, making him the country’s first openly gay Cabinet minister. And only days before him, Gaelic football legend Valerie Mulcahy did the same, becoming the first big-name female Gaelic Athletic Association player to come out publicly. Varadkar and Mulcahy hope to build support for Ireland’s LGBTQ citizens ahead of the vote.

If the referendum passes, marriage equality would be a historic step for Ireland, which until very recently was one of Europe’s most socially illiberal countries. It wasn’t until 2011 that same-sex couples could enter into civil partnerships or until 1993 that homosexual relations were decriminalized. This was largely because Roman Catholic leaders, who wield an arguably outsized influence over policies and practices in Ireland, have been vocal in their opposition to LGBTQ rights. However, in recent years a series of scandals have eroded public trust in the church, reducing the scale of one of the most significant obstacles in Ireland’s ongoing quest for equality.

 

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Jan. 27 2015 9:30 AM

A Few Words With Kevin Daniels, the Actor Behind One of TV’s Best Gay Characters

Sirens, which returns to USA for its second season Tuesday at 10 p.m., is a buddy comedy set in the world of EMTs. Hank, his best friend Johnny (Michael Mosley), and Brian the rookie (Kevin Bigley) drive around Chicago providing urgent relief to the sick—and since the U.S. version of the show comes from the creative team of Denis Leary and Bob Fisher (Wedding CrashersWe’re the Millers), some of the afflicted are really sick.

Sirens also features one of the most interesting gay characters on television: There’s nothing generically gay about Hank, played by Kevin Daniels. As he tells a woman looking for a gay best friend early in the new season, “I’m not that type of gay. … I do not go dancing. I do not go shopping. I do not watchDance Moms and make bitchy comments.” 

Jan. 27 2015 7:30 AM

The Barely Remembered Gay Victims of the Nazi Concentration Camps

When the world gathers at Auschwitz and other places across Europe and the United States on Tuesday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Dayand the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp, there will be a void. On June 24, 2012, Gad Beck, the man believed to be the last gay survivor of the Holocaust, died six days before his 89th birthday. He was the last living witness to and representative of a period of unparalleled persecution and suffering that cost the lives of thousands of gay men and destroyed thousands more.

It is estimated that between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were detained in concentration camps under the Nazi regime, persecuted under Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code, which proscribed sexual acts between men. (In total, between 1933 and 1945, around 100,000 men were arrested under Paragraph 175, half of whom were sentenced.) While the Gestapo directive expanding incarceration beyond regular prisons was issued on April 4, 1938, gay men were among the first victims of the Holocaust to be rounded up and interned in concentration camps starting in 1933.

Jan. 26 2015 3:30 PM

Saks Relents, Reverses Its Claim That It Can Legally Discriminate Against Trans Employees

On Monday, Saks announced that it would withdraw its claim to have a legal right to discriminate against trans employees. The company had asserted this right in a recent motion to dismiss a discrimination case brought by a former employee. This employee, a trans woman named Leyth O. Jamal, claimed she faced discrimination and harassment at Saks due to her trans status. In response, Saks declared that it didn’t matter whether the allegations were true, because trans employees aren’t protected from workplace discrimination under federal law.

Saks’ willingness to reconsider its hardline claim against trans people is encouraging, although the company did not immediately see the error of its ways. Still, Saks’ conduct has been so disturbing throughout the case that LGBTQ customers may want to think twice before shopping at the store. In Saks’ legal filings, the company repeatedly referred to Jamal—a self-identified woman—as he. When quoting Jamal’s own filings, Saks added a “[sic]” after every reference to heras female, as if to assert that her identification as a woman was factually incorrect. Admittedly, it was Saks’ attorneys, not its CEO, who drafted these briefs. But even after they were made public, Saks refused to apologize for this nasty misgendering. (In fact, the company has yet to apologize for it.)

Jan. 26 2015 2:46 PM

The Unapologetic Gender Trouble of Flame Monroe

If Marcus Parker gets his reality show—and based on the sizzle reel he and his wife posted on Facebook last week, I expect TLC is already on the phone—you can expect a rash of tortured articles not seen since the My Husband’s Not Gay mini-boom of early 2015. Parker, perhaps better known by his drag persona Flame Monroe, is a bisexual, self-identified transgender person who has had surgical interventions to create breasts and other feminine characteristics but who currently lives as a man when he’s at home with his three children and lesbian wife. He’s also a conservative Christian who doesn’t support full marriage equality.

Jan. 26 2015 1:19 PM

No Justice, Liberal or Conservative, Should Be Recused From the Gay Marriage Cases

Shortly after the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case that could legalize marriage equality across the country, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association—a certified hate group—made an announcement. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan must recuse themselves from the upcoming case, Fischer claimed, because they have both performed same-sex marriage ceremonies. These recusals would strip the liberal bloc of two key votes, likely guaranteeing a 4-to-3 vote against marriage equality.

The recusal game is a dangerous one to play, and liberals soon struck back with a pointed rejoinder. During this year’s anti-abortion “March for Life” rally Robert P. George and Ryan T. Anderson met with Justice Clarence Thomas, and Thomas complimented Anderson on his “Choose Life” tie. In case you’ve forgotten, George and Anderson are co-authors of the kinkiest, freakiest anti-gay marriage treatise ever penned. George is also the co-founder of the viciously homophobic National Organization for Marriage, while Anderson currently serves as a Heritage Foundation staffer. By palling around with these activists, liberals argued, Thomas has conceded his impartiality in the gay marriage cases and should recuse himself.

Jan. 26 2015 9:56 AM

The Funeral of David Kato: How Uganda’s Leading Gay Activist Was Laid to Rest

On Jan. 28, 2011, two days after he was murdered, mourners arrived for a burial service in the remote village of Nakawala. Down a long dirt road, a hand-painted sign read “Death of David Kato” with an arrow pointing toward a house where the funeral would begin at 2 p.m. Cars and buses lined the road. So, too, did armed policemen.

A bus from the capital had brought his closest friends, each wearing a black T-shirt with David’s face on the front, a rainbow flag on the right sleeve, and the phrase “Aluta continua” (“the struggle continues”) on the back. As they walked into the yard they made a striking appearance in their identical shirts, but with so many people showing up at once, few of the locals paid the group much attention. Indeed, they were just another curiosity among a swelling crowd that included, impressively, reporters and cameramen from international news agencies, representatives from human rights organizations, embassies, and NGOs, and a host of white, unfamiliar faces the likes of which had never been seen in this typical Ugandan village.

Jan. 23 2015 11:57 AM

I Am Ready to Declare a Truce in the Gay Cake Wars

The gay cake wars are, by a long shot, the stupidest thing I have ever covered. They are so inane that they make me want to quit my job and become a bricklayer in a faraway country with no Internet connection. I, along with the rest of America, would surely be much happier, healthier, and more fulfilled if we never had to contemplate the gay cake wars again. In light of this exhaustion, I am offering a truce.

Here is the latest skirmish in these wars, which, again, are astonishingly dumb. Bill Jack, a Christian customer at a gay-friendly cake store in Colorado,recently asked a baker to craft a cake depicting a gay couple holding hands—with a large “X” over them, along with the words “God hates gays.” The baker refused, citing her personal beliefs. Now the customer has complained to state officials, claiming he was subject to religious discrimination.

Jan. 22 2015 3:28 PM

Mike Huckabee Just Can’t Stop Sounding Like Segregationist Orval Faubus

For a man with presidential ambitions, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a strange habit of sounding a lot like one of the most bigoted, contemptible, despised politicians in all of American history. The trouble started last May, when Huckabee called for the impeachment of an Arkansas state judge who ruled in favor of marriage equality—echoing another Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus, who famously resisted integration and called for the impeachment of any judge who enforced it.

Now Huckabee has taken a new tack in his quest to demean gay Americans. In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Huckabee insisted that states can ignore any future Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional—and continue to enforce their own bans—because “one branch of government does not overrule the other two”:

One thing I am angry about ... is this notion of judicial supremacy, where if the court makes a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say, “Well that's settled, it's the law of the land.” No, it's not the law of the land.
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What Huckabee is really disputing here is the validity of Cooper v. Aaron—and, in turn, the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. Cooper arose in 1958 after the school board in Little Rock, Arkansas, refused to enact an integration plan as required by the court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Faubus, then governor of Arkansas, declared that his state wasn’t bound by Brown and could shrug off the ruling. The Supreme Court disagreed, unanimously ruling that, thanks to the supremacy clause, states (and state officials) are bound by the court’s interpretation of the federal Constitution.

Faubus, of course, disagreed. According to his constitutional interpretation, a “Supreme Court decision is not the law of the land.” Faubus is also reported to have informed white schoolchildren that “the Supreme Court is not the law of the land and [you don’t] have to obey it.”

Sound familiar? If so, that’s because this is almost exactly what Huckabee said about a hypothetical gay marriage ruling. This similarity is not particularly surprising: Conservatives tend to get quite gung-ho about nullification where the equal protection clause is involved. But it is a bit odd to see an allegedly savvy politician repeat, nearly verbatim, the words of one of America’s most vicious racists. Perhaps Huckabee looks to his gubernatorial predecessor as a role model; perhaps he’s just utterly clueless. Either way, I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense to adopt the philosophies of a segregationist when you’re championing a form of segregation yourself. 

Want to hang out with Outward? If you’ll be in or near New York City on Feb. 3, join June Thomas, J. Bryan Lowder, and Mark Joseph Stern—and special guest Lea DeLaria ofOrange Is the New Black fame!for a queer kiki at the first ever Outward LIVE show, hosted by City Winery. Details and tickets can be found here.

Jan. 22 2015 3:20 PM

Jeopardy! Sends Up the Silliness of Civil Unions

You might not typically think of Jeopardy! as a source of opinion on the hot-button political issues of the day, but on the Jan. 21 edition of the game show, a saucy clue challenged that perception. Under a category called “Civil” the $800 clue read as follows: “Some opponents of same-sex marriage say, hey gay folks, how about these? Wouldn't these be good enough?”

The correct answer, of course, is “What are civil unions?”

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The clue writers’ flippant tone in the rhetoric attributed to gay marriage opponents is clear evidence of how they—like most gay people—feel about civil unions as an alternative to full marriage equality: They are a weak attempt at placation that suggests second-class citizenship, if not a kind of segregation.

This is not the first time Jeopardy! has given a nod to gays: Last year, the typically reserved show included “shade” among its clues, spurring much consternation over the mainstreaming of gay (and African American) slang. But there should be no such hand-wringing over the civil unions clue. With marriage equality poised to become the law of the land this year, Jeopardy! is wagering on the right side of history.

Want to hang out with Outward? If you’ll be in or near New York City on Feb. 3, join June Thomas, J. Bryan Lowder, and Mark Joseph Stern—and special guest Lea DeLaria ofOrange Is the New Black fame!for a queer kiki at the first ever Outward LIVE show, hosted by City Winery. Details and tickets can be found here.

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