Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Oh, New Jersey!

I have been unusually quiet for a while, and I do apologize for that. Today, though, something happened on which I must comment. New Jersey's Supreme Court handed down its decision in Lewis v. Harris, the NJ marriage case.

The key portion of this ruling is the holding:

HELD: Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

This ruling mimics the Vermont decision of 1999 which held that Vermont could not treat same sex and heterosexual couples differently. There was no justifiable reason to gives rights and priviledges to one group and deny them to least not under the state constitution. New Jersey has said the same thing.

The NJ Supreme Court has told NJ that its domestic partnership law is not enough. NJ must treat its gay and straight couples them the same rights, privledges, and responsibilities as straight couples in marriage. However, it didn't need to be called marriage if that was what the legislature wanted, but the effect had to be the same. NJ could either amend its marriage statute to allow same sex marriage or it could create an equal institution that was marriage in everything but name. The legislature has 6 months to comply.

Generally, this is good news. However, I wish that the NJ court had just held off a couple of more weeks until the elections were over. Another two weeks would have killed nobody, and it wouldn't have given the damn Republicans something to latch onto as they drown in their own incompetence.

You can be rest assured that the GOP will now gleefully ressurect the gay boogeyman of 2004 where they gave middle America the image of flaming homosexuals banging down their front doors and forcing them to marry people of the same sex, whether they wanted to or not. Or that gay marriage would end our civilization or that little Johnny would see two men married, and even though he preferred women, would decide to marry a man. And the only way to stop this scourage of raging homos is to vote GOP!

I don't know how the Mark Foley scandal will affect this message, but you can be rest assured that Karl Rove will use this to try to keep the Congress. It will certainly affect the NJ Senate race, but how is uncertain. It seems Menendez is crooked, and Kean has his head so far up Bush's ass that he take a dump without the White House knowing first.

It's too important that GOP control of our country is broken this election. We can't wait another two years and hope things will get better. If anything, a GOP win this year will mean they will get MORE arrogant and wreckless, not less. I fear, though, that this decision will help the GOP staunch the bleeding and potentially keep Congress.

Why couldn't the NJ Supremes have just waited another two weeks to rule that gay people should enjoy ALL the same rights as straight people???

Thursday, October 19, 2006

HHS Screws Over Afghan Maternity/OB Hospital

This morning, a colleague of mine sent an email detailing an HHS decision to not support a maternity/OB hospital in Afghanistan that had been supported through a 5 year cooperative agreement. The details should not surprise anyone familiar with the Bush administration. Such is support for the "culture of life".

The email states:
I wanted to let you know about a health program in Afghanistan that is in need of some urgent help. CDC’s reproductive health program has been supporting a maternity and obstetrics hospital in Kabul which provides critical health services for the past four years. These are services that many women and their babies will not receive otherwise. Our colleagues in reproductive health were informed at the last minute that HHS could not fund the 5th year of the project. Renee Brown-Bryant, and others in the reproductive health program, are actively looking for solutions.

However there is an immediate and urgent need at hand. There are 5 women that work for the project, whose salaries need to be paid. They cannot do that through any of their existing mechanisms. As we can all understand, not having a salary can have a devastating impact on these women, their families, and ultimately the program. The CDC Foundation can and will help support this need. However, our colleagues in reproductive health need to quickly raise the additional funds (approx $ 4,000) needed.

Renee will come to Mo’s (Pizza joint at Briarcliff and Clairmont in Atlanta) tonight at 5:30 and is really welcoming an opportunity to share information on their project. I know this is the kind of program that many of us feel is important to support.

If you are free, please join us at Mo’s tonight to hear more and consider a contribution. If you are not free, but are interested in supporting this cause please let me know. I would be happy to collect contributions to the CDC foundation on their behalf.

If you are interested in helping out, you can contact Julie Jenks at and she'll give you details. It's a shame that such emails even have to go out, but such is the GOP world we live in.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Poisonous Closet

The proverbial closet is a very dangerous place, as most recently shown by GOP Rep. Mark Foley of Florida. Shaw's behavior toward pages was digusting. House pages are usually 16 years old when they serve, and for any congressman to make suggestive remarks or even physical moves toward these teenagers is nothing short of pedophilia. I do not care if 16 is the age of consent in many states. An adult in his 30s or 40s who propositions teenagers sexually has issues and should not be in positions of authority over children. Even if a page willingly participates in sexual innuendo or activities with a congressman, the power differential alone makes the relationship inappropriate and, by definition, sexual harassment. There is no way you can give valid consent when the power differential is that large.

The GOP, typically, is focusing on Foley's sexuality. That Foley was a closet case was well known, especially after his aborted run for the US Senate where he refused to discuss his sexuality. Newt Gingrich said over the weekend that one reason the GOP leadership didn't make a "big deal" about Foley's behavior (they've known about it for over a year) was that they didn't want to be accused of gay bashing.

EXCUSE ME?!? The GOP is concerned about looking anti-gay? Since when?!? The whole basis for the 2004 election was the GOP promise to middle america to protect them from the homos and their desire for marriage. They've tried repeatedly to amend the Constitution itself to ban recognition of gay relationships! This is not a party concerned about charges of gay bashing. The statement by Newt also indicates an assumption that pedophilic behavior is typical of a gay person. That alone speaks volumes about the GOP attitude toward gay people. They buy into the notion that gay people are perverts who want to molest children.

The Log Cabin apologists for the GOP have been silent so far about Foley and the scandal. They should at least be taking leadership to task for not intervening with Foley immediately, and for their insulting assumption that gay people are all pedophiles. My guess is that they will find a way to excuse the inaction by GOP leadership when they first discovered Foley was behaving badly with pages.

The GOP is also trying to throw Democratic pecodillos back in the limelight. I've heard several cries of "Monica Lewinsky" as a response to GOP inaction. First, Monica Lewinsky was no teenager. She was an adult when she and Clinton had their affair. That affair was wrong, and the power differential definitely smacked of sexual harassment, but pedophilia it was not. Another gem is bringing up the 1983 page scandal with Gerry Studds of Massachusetts as well as Barney Frank's affair with a male hustler that led to a prostitution ring being led out of his home in DC. Gerry Studds was censored for his affair with a male page (he defended it on the grounds that the boy was past the age of consent, an argument I reject) along with another GOP representative who had an affair with a female page. Studds was reelected to his seat until he retired in 1996, but as far as I know, there was no cover-up by Democratic leadership of Studds' affair, and he certainly was not put in charge (or left in charge) of a missing and exploited children caucus like Foley was. The illegal actions by Barney Frank's male hustler showed extremely poor judgement, but the voters of Massachusetts have forgiven him, and he was punished at the time of the scandal. Again, no real cover-up by the Democratic leadreship.

What all these men have in common is the closet. Until the scandals erupted, Frank, Studds, and Foley were all in the closet. The same is true of Gov. McGreevy of NJ who resigned over his appointment of his lover in a state job. All these men lived lives of shame and secrecy. They worked to cover up their identies as gay men to preserve political careers, but they couldn't reign in their desires. The closet made them feel and behave like perverts. Once Studds and Frank were outed, they didn't make the same mistakes. They had age-appropriate relationships, and I firmly believe it was because they no longer had to hide their secret. They could pursue romantic relationships in the open, so there was no temptation to find other closet cases or inappropriate people. Even McGreevy has now found himself a partner and is touring the country selling his book on how bad the closet was for him.

Maybe Mark Foley will find the same release. The irony of him being the point person for the GOP on missing and exploited children is the penultimate example of GOP hypocrisy on just one of many issues. It may be late in life, but hopefully Foley will accept the fact that he is a gay man and will make peace with that. And when he does, hopefully he will never look at another teenager with lustful intentions again.