Thursday, February 28, 2013

Obama Urges Court to Strike Down Prop 8

Just in case anyone hasn't read it yet, the Obama administration released a brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. The argument is that Prop 8 violates Constitutionally protected legal equality because though California allows same-sex couples many of the same rights as heterosexual couples, it does not allow them to get married. If the Court follows the same line of reasoning, gay marriage would become legal in the 8 states that currently allow civil unions (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island), but the remainder of states would be unaffected. You can read about the brief at:

Obviously, this is a huge step for the administration and the US government in general. Nonetheless, I am disappointed that Obama was unwilling to challenge states' rights to decide on gay marriage. I doubt the Court will be affected by Obama's opinion, so his statements are only important for their political and societal consequences. Given that it is his second term, I am hoping that Obama will become increasingly bold in his leadership and not so frustratingly willing to compromise. Qualifying his support of gay marriage like this seems so disgustingly political--why not go all the way and call for complete marriage equality? Let me know what you guys think!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adoption by Gay Parents

I stumbled upon this brief clip on adoption by gay parents in Germany and thought it provided another perspective to what we discussed in class today. I enjoyed how this discussed impacts on children, especially the difference between adopted and biological children, and how this affected the potential for families.

After watching the clip, I was curious as to the history of adoptions by gay couples in the US and found this article by the NYTimes from about two years.  It discusses the state of gay adoptions in 2011 and mentions how it parallels and diverges from discussions over gay marriage.

Looking into the future, I wonder how legalized gay marriage in certain states and the pending Supreme Court decision will further affect these trends.  I'm not sure if we'll have a chance to discuss this in class so I thought I'd throw these ideas out on the blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Current Events: Republicans Sign Brief In Support of Gay Marriage

This article was published in today's New York TimesRepublicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage

It is interesting to observe how the Republicans are currently so divided on these types of social issues, and also to watch as some become more progressive. The article mentions Jon Hunstman, who has always been more moderate, but had officially opposed gay marriage during the 2012 campaign in favor of civil unions. (Kudos to CMC for getting him to speak!) I believe this is the direction the Republicans are (hopefully) heading in. I believe the entrenched conservatism in the Republican party can be traced back to previous generations in which these types of issues seem especially provocative (ie. our class discussion about putting our grandparent's more conservative political views into historical and social context).

Monday, February 25, 2013

"I support queer rights" Signs at CMC

In a continuation of our discussion of CMC as a LGBT-friendly campus, I thought it would be good to look at this. As a response to the Forum article, many CMCers are going to be putting up "I support queer rights" signs on their doors.

So far the Facebook event has 140 students (that's more than one tenth of our entire student body not even accounting for roommates or students who are abroad). The comments are all supportive and seem to be coming from a wide range of students. It may be in reaction to our campus's perceived and real homophobia, but I think this is definitely a good thing.

Post- Oscars: A Commentary on the Hollywood Closet

After having watched the Oscars yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to just make a comment on the nature of what I will refer to as the "Hollywood Closet". There are many actors/actresses out there that people suspect are homosexual, but that apparently refuse to come out. Some examples that come to mind include Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Queen Latifah. Last night one of my friends even mentioned that she heard from a friend of a friend of a friend who owns a house near Clooney's in Italy that it is "common knowledge" that Clooney has many gay lovers, and that it is something that is known but not spoken about. First of all, these actors/actresses sexuality in none of our business. Whenever the Hollywood Closet conversation comes up, I always wonder to myself, "who cares?" If they're gay, they're gay, and that shouldn't change our viewing experience.

However, I've been starting to realize that my, "who cares?" attitude is actually not necessarily the best way to approach the Hollywood Closet conundrum. First of all, it does matter. These actors are some of the most prominent and influential in Hollywood. If they came out, perhaps this would help to strengthen the presence of the homosexual community in TV and film and make it less stigmatized. For example, people were pretty outraged by how long it took Anderson Cooper to come out. He was by no means in the closet; it was relatively well known by the public that he had a long time male partner. However, he did not speak of it publicly. His reluctance to be open about his sexuality led people to believe that he was ashamed. Whether or not he was afraid or ashamed to come out to his fan base, Anderson Cooper was still unintentionally leading the public to believe that he did not want to be associated with the LGBT community.

A similar phenomenon is (maybe) going on in Hollywood. These actors/actresses are worried that the careers they have worked so hard to establish will be in jeopardy if they come out as gay. They are worried that their fans will turn against them. For the sex symbols in this questionable list, they are worried that are perhaps worried that they will become less attractive and lust worthy. If George Clooney came out as gay, that would not make him any less of a sex symbol in my eyes, but I suppose I cannot say the same for others. If anything, Clooney and others would be even more attractive to another demographic.

I wonder how the entertainment industry got this way. I wonder what Hollywood and the public can do to change this. Just some things I was mulling over while watching the Oscars and reading for this class!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Queer Fear" in the CMC Forum

I thought this article, "Queer Fear at CMC: On an Incident in Stark Hall" that just published on the CMC Forum might tie nicely with some of our ethnographies of Claremont Colleges.  The article labeled CMC as "particularly deficient in LGBT support." Do other CMC students or other 5C students think of CMC as the least LGBT friendly of the Claremont Colleges? Do you think perception or stereotypes match reality?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Youth Equality Act

Today in California, State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced new legislation that would remove a state tax exemption for any youth group, including the Boy Scouts, that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to this press release.

LGBT DREAMers Share Their Stories

This website features stories of young LGBT undocumented immigrants who are applying for work permits under the new DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).  They are known as DREAMers since the proposed federal DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship.

Associated Press and Marriage Equality

The AP recently issued an internal memo that journalists should not refer to members of a gay marriage as "husbands" or "wives" unless as part of a quotation. Considering the fact that the AP influences journalistic style worldwide and is supposed to represent complete objectivity, this has some pretty significant ramifications for the way that our society conceptualizes gay marriage. Not surprisingly, there has been quite an uproar over the matter. You can read about it on the Huff Post website.

Monday, February 18, 2013

LGBT Gallup Map

I saw this the other day and thought it was interesting. It's a graphic display of Gallup's recent poll breaking down LGBT populations at the state level. Discounting the usual problems with response bias with these types of polls, it seems fairly useful. The disparity of LGBT populations is interesting. The article briefly discusses possible reasons for these geographic differences, including pressure to stay closeted and the migration of LGBT persons to friendlier cities/states. Although just a guess, those social acceptance reasons do seem to make sense intuitively.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Leaving the USA for Love

I just read this interesting article on the NY Times about LGBT couples leaving the United States after their foreign partners were unable to receive green cards. American men and women are usually able to get their opposite-sex spouses green cards with ease. But LGBT Americans cannot. This is creating a significant American gay and lesbian diaspora.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Transgender Health Care Coverage at Universities

Today the New York Times posted an article about how certain colleges and universities are covering sex-change surgery on the college health insurance plan. The article explains that Brown has recently become the 36th college/university to cover such surgery. Additionally, about 20 more universities do not cover surgery, but do cover hormone therapy. Sadly, the universities participating are the most elite institutions with large endowments. There are thousands of universities that still lack transgender health coverage. Insurance companies, including university-sponsored insurances, are not required to cover such procedures, though many larger insurance carriers have recently taken the stance that these treatments could be considered medically necessary. While trans* students still face many biases and micro-agressions at colleges and universities across the country, this can still be seen as a positive advance towards creating a more inclusive and friendly college environment to people of all genders and sexualities.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Same-Sex Couples and Immigration Reform

The White House recently released a set of proposals for immigration reform that would grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual spouses. According to the fact sheet, the proposal "treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner."  For more on these developments, see the letter from Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights explaining why "comprehensive immigration reform is a LGBT issue."  The national organization Immigration Equality works for LGBT equality in U.S. immigration law.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Benefits Extended for Same-Sex Military Spouses

Today, about three years after the repeal of DADT same-sex military souses and partners are finally getting some of the benefits heterosexual spouses receive. The 14 benefits identified for members to designate whomever they wish as beneficiaries are: -- Service Members Group Life Insurance beneficiary; -- Post Vietnam-era Veterans Assistance Program beneficiary; -- All-volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program – Active Duty Death Benefit beneficiary; -- Death Gratuity beneficiary; -- Final Settlement of Accounts; -- Wounded Warrior Designated Caregiver; -- Thrift Savings Plan beneficiary; -- Survivor Benefit for retirees; -- Casualty Notification; -- Escorts for Dependents of Deceased or Missing; -- Designation of Persons Having Interest in Status of a Missing Member; -- Veterans’ Group Life Insurance beneficiary; -- Person Eligible to Receive Effects of Deceased Persons; and -- Travel and Transportation Allowance: attendance at Yellow Ribbon Reintegration events. While this is a step in the right direction and a big win for equality, until DOMA is repealed our LGBT family in the army will continue to be denied the rights they deserve. For the full article please visit For the official announcement from The Department of Defense please visit

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Marriage Fight Is Setting Us Back

The Marriage Fight is Setting Us Back

This article by John D'Emilio was published by the Gay and Lesbian Review in winter 2006. It ties in nicely with our last discussion and one question in particular that was raised at the very end of the session: What would D'Emilio's presumable attitude towards same-sex marriage be? How would he evaluate its significance and the struggle for it?

D'Emilio contends that over the course of the past decades the legal fight for same-sex marriage has unfolded a highly destructive potential with regard to the creation of "a vast body of new anti-gay law." He not only criticizes the defenders' tactical weaknesses, but also argues that "the campaign for marriage equality runs against history." According to his elaborations, the call for same-sex marriage is counterproductive to cultural change and needs rethinking and reorientation.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Murray Dray at the Ath: Same Sex Marriage and the Constitution

I just attended Murry Dray's lecture on the upcoming Supreme Court cases dealing with gay marriage and DOMA (Perry v. Brown and US v. Windsor).  Admittedly, most of the lexicon pertaining to judicial review and arguments likely to be taken in these upcoming cases was way over my head.

I was able to glean a general sense, though, that these cases are much more complicated than the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed the right to marry under federal law.  Despite how any of us feels about marriage equality, depending on the courts to somehow supersede popular sentiment or legal statutes is, though not unprecedented, rather a tall order.

Dray predicts/argues in the end that the Court should reverse the Prop 8 decision in California while also striking down DOMA (if anybody else was at the lecture and has a different understanding, please correct me).  If the cases play out as such, this will make for a prolonged state-by-state process for the furthering of marriage equality.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Boy Scouts Consider Lifting Ban on Gays

As you may have heard, the Boy Scouts of America recently announced that it was considering ending its nationwide ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders and letting local chapters set their own policy.  This news inspired commentary and criticism from various sides: Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, for instance, asserted that the Scouts should continue to exclude gay members, while Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, argued that the new policy was "not good enough" because it would allow troops to set their own discriminatory bans against gay members.  Today, in response to these debates, the Boy Scouts announced that it would postpone a decision.

What have you heard about this proposed change?  Please comment on these events and post links that you find as this story continues.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Le Mariage Pour Tous

A proposed law in France would allow gay couples to marry and adopt children.  The measure is generating much discussion and debate, according to this article from the New York Times.

Openly Gay, and Openly Welcomed in Congress

The 113th Congress includes six openly gay or bisexual members in the House and the first lesbian in the Senate.  Take a look at this article from the New York Times.