Too crazy not to share

A lady in Lincoln, Nebraska, shares views on gay rights that are, I suspect, very much her own.

Watch the people seated behind the speaker, especially the young guy on the left.

New Jersey’s still a step or two ahead of Texas

Of course the legislative victories in favor of same-sex marriage in Washington, New Jersey, and Maryland are extremely encouraging. However, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has already vetoed his state’s legislation, stating his wish for a referendum on same-sex marriage. The voters of the state of Maryland may also have to weigh in before marriage equality becomes law.

Andrew Sullivan, noting that the goalposts have been moved, rightly objects:

I am not afraid of referendums in New Jersey or Maryland. Let’s do all we can to win them. The polls are now increasingly on our side. But the way in which a tiny 2- 3 percent minority seeking basic civil equality has been forced now to be subject to state referendums, even after winning legislative victories, strikes me as revealing. It’s basically an attack on representative government, a resort to the forms of decision-making which maximize the potential for anonymous bigotry and minimize the importance of representative government, a core achievement of Anglo-American democracy, that can help enhance reason of the accountable against the sometimes raw prejudice of the majority.

In Texas, not only does legislation specifically prohibit the recognition of any same-sex union, but Texas later added a measure to its constitution reaffirming the prohibition, presumably as a bulwark against the judiciary doing its job. Amendments to the Texas constitution are voted on in statewide general elections, so a similar election would be required to repeal the anti-equality amendment. So whatever setbacks may occur in New Jersey or Maryland, those states are at worst a step ahead of where Texas will be for the foreseeable future.

February 19, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Open letter to Facebook

Dear Facebook,

This story from The Atlantic reports that you have required (indeed, forced) the author Salman Rushdie to use the name Ahmed on his profile page rather than the name Salman just because it appears first on his passport.

Is this for real?

My parents, husband, friends, relatives, business associates, and everyone else who knows me even slightly have never called me anything but Bill; I give out my first name only as a concession to bureaucracy.

I hope you won’t be propagating this first-name-only rule, if it’s a real thing and not a stupid error on the part of your internal name police, because such a rule would only confuse many millions of friends of millions of Facebook users around the world whose parents, long ago, chose to call their children by their middle names for aesthetic or other reasons, which are, in any case, none of your damn business.


Bill Detty

November 14, 2011Permalink 1 Comment

On the average, American adults think 25 percent of Americans are gay

Well, this is amazing. Not to mention crazy: Towleroad cites a Gallup poll showing that “over half of Americans (52%) estimate that at least one in five Americans are gay or lesbian, including 35% who estimate that more than one in four are.”

Really. It’s hard to get reliable data, but my understanding is that the best current estimates of the prevalence of homosexuality is likely to be 5% or less. (Kinsey’s famous 10% figure included anyone who’d ever had a sexual experience with another of the same sex.)

UPDATE: It crosses my mind that one of the things this poll may measure, indirectly, is how many Americans can’t conceptualize percentages accurately. Who knows what they’d say if the question avoided percentages in favor of expressions such as one out of five, one out of ten, and so forth?

If I believe X, must I believe Y?

In a long post on Slacktivist, Fred Clark objects to irrelevant litmus tests on faith:

Yet the fact remains that Jim Wallis’ position on both abortion and homosexuality is such that he has remained in good standing as a mostly accepted member of the American evangelical community. His views on poverty, racial justice, peace and the environment may put him at odds with the gatekeepers of that community, who often characterize him as a dangerous radical, but in the final analysis they also regard him as One Of Us because, after all, he opposes abortion and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.

Now, it’s tragic and probably heretical that this is how the American evangelical community decides who is and who is not an acceptable and recognized member of the community. Wallis’ long demonstration of a passionate faith doesn’t count in this calculus. Nor does his personal testimony, his church membership of his long track record as a Bible-soaked preacher of God’s Word. All that really matters is opposition to those two things: Abortion and homosexuality.

Meanwhile, at Queerty, John Gallagher does a lengthy piece on a press conference for a Tea Party convention to be held in the fall, featuring this quote:

“If you tell me where you’re at, say on the sanctity of marriage or on some core value issues,” said Bob Vander Plaats, who ran a failing campaign for the GOP nomination for Iowa governor last year. “I’ll tell you where you’re at on economic policy.”

Really? I’m pretty sure it’s possible to not object to marriage equality, to understand that it’s possible that some instance might occur where abortion is a proper course of action, and still be a fiscal conservative. Or, for that matter, a Christian. (I’ve even heard that there are some Christians who don’t insist on espousing fiscal conservatism.)

Vander Plaats’ thinking also leads to a place that I find uncomfortable: if he thinks his own social and religious beliefs are bound up with political positions, might he think that the same goes for other people? I don’t know for sure that that kind of thinking would lead to stereotyping of the most obnoxious, all-of-them-are-like-that stripe–but it sure seems to lead that way. If true, that might go a long way toward explaining why some people are so resistant to the idea, for instance, that Muslims don’t all want to destroy America.

Another organizer, William Clark, proposes that a proper quid pro quo for raising the debt limit would be the reinstatement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Those are both important, but are they really equivalent?

Sad news: The Bronx is closing

The Bronx, for several years our default date restaurant and the place where, in 1995, we first exchanged rings, is closing.

Last year, we went there to celebrate the anniversary of the day we met; the experience was comfortingly familiar. It’s possible the place, the service, and the food were a bit frayed around the edges, but then, so are we.

(Via Dallas Voice.)

For you Warner Bros. cartoon soundtrack fanciers…

Via Mark Evanier, an entertaining performance of Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse.”

January 12, 2011Permalink Leave a comment

Muslim youth retreat in Hunt draws suspicion from some Christian conservatives here

Today’s Daily Times features a story (behind their paywall) about a local Christian group’s e-mail campaign against a retreat for Muslim youth to be held later this month at the Mo-Ranch camp/conference center in Hunt, which is an affiliate of the Synod of the Sun of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Randy Simmons, speaking for the Hill Country Oak Initiative, acknowledges that he expects no terrorist acts in the county, nor does he believe the youth group are terrorists, but he wants the organization to know that the community doesn’t trust them.

“What I do feel like the potential threat is if there is no resistance shown,” Simmons said. “We in the community are awake and we know who you are and what you are about. They’ve been operating under cover for a long time, and I don’t want to wake up one day and the next thing you know, we have a mosque and an Islamic settlement right here in Kerr County.”

Simmons calls on members of the Oak Initiative not to protest at Mo-Ranch, but he praises with faint damnation: “Truthfully, I can see some benefit in (protesting), but I have told (David Jordan, president of Mo-Ranch) that we are not going to do it, and I intend to honor that,” Simmons said. “But I can see some other people doing it.”

As the story makes clear, the Islamist Society of North America (which sponsors this conference through its youth arm, Muslim Youth of North America) specifically repudiates terrorism. The Department of Justice has identified ISNA as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development’s federal prosecution for illegally funneling millions of dollars to Hamas, but ISNA describes this designation as “a legal tactic to permit the government to seek the admission of evidence that would otherwise be excluded,” and is seeking to have their name removed from the list of co-conspirators.

The Hill Country Oak Initiative’s web site is pretty bare-bones and uninformative, but the parent organization’s site includes videos with titles like “Prophetic Perspective on Current Events” and “Marxism in America” that give some idea of their general viewpoint.

December 16, 2010Permalink Leave a comment

Prop 8 appeal oral arguments heard

A panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments yesterday in the appeal of a lower court’s ruling that California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, resulting from the voter initiative Proposition 8, unfairly revoked constitutional equal-protection and due-process rights from gay couples.

NYTimes article here; Towleroad analysis here.

What I’m getting out of these articles are three main points:

First, that the proponents of Prop 8—the appellants—are relying on the same arguments that Judge Vaughn Walker found wanting in the lower court case.

Second, that the appellants may not have suffered harm, in the legal sense, under the lower court’s ruling and thus may not even have standing to appeal—and California state officials up to the governor and attorney general have declined to appeal.

Third, that the court wishes to tailor its ruling as narrowly as possible (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers high-school civics) and that attorneys for the two couples who brought suit to overturn Prop 8 are playing to this by stating that Judge Walker’s ruling applies only to the counties the two couples reside in, Los Angeles and Alameda. (Presumably residents of other counties could sue to have the ruling apply in their cases as well; in the meantime a narrow ruling might be less vulnerable on further appeal.)

I’m tentatively optimistic; probably we’ll know more in a month or two.

December 7, 2010Permalink Leave a comment

Guests in YLT Hanukkah show include Tweedy, Burma, others

Stereogum has the scoop:

Yo La Tengo kicked off their week of Hanukkah shows on December 1. M. Ward, Mission Of Burma, and the Parting Gives have already stopped by the Maxwell’s shows. And on the third night Jeff Tweedy stopped by for an acoustic set of Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Yo La Tengo songs, and covers, including a cover of Gary U.S. Bonds’ ‘Seven Day Weekend,’ (changed to ‘Eight Day Weekend’ to fit the holiday).

December 6, 2010Permalink Leave a comment