Thinky Thoughts from Elsewhere on the Internet, Pt. 1

30 06 2008

I’ve had quite a few things starred in my Google Bookmarks to share with you, and they’re still piling up.  I’ll start with this video calling for the repeal of Section 377 in Singapore.  Section 377 is the name of a law that exists in many former British colonies, though the UK has long since repealed it.  Section 377 is a sodomy law, and Section 377A, a counterpart that exists in many countries, is an associated law that punishes other “lewd” acts.  These laws are frequently used to target gays and lesbians for reasons that have nothing to do with sodomy itself, and their very existence is a threat to the comfort and dignity of LGBT people around the world.  Ironically, many foreign leaders claim that the gay movement is a colonizing influence that must be stopped, when in fact the laws punishing sodomy are the colonial relic in societies that in many cases accepted or ignored sodomy before Westerners arrived.

Does anyone know what happened with this?  I saw a few articles about Patterson planning to allow recognition of marriages performed in other states and countries in New York, and then the newsbyte just disappeared.  If the rule is in effect, it would be huge, both in its practical effect for bicoastal couples and New Yorkers who want to marry in Massachusetts and in the symbolic effect.  Any step in this direction is a good thing for the national consciousness.  

Another thoughtful post about rape convictions in the US

Facts on the clitoris and a helpful diagram

 

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What my mom said when I told her I was going into law

28 06 2008

I don’t know why this never struck me as strange before, but really now that I think about it, it’s quite amusing.  Most smart girls’ mothers want them to be President when they grow up; my mother wants me to take the President to the Hague for war crimes when I grow up.

(I wish.)





Self-promotion

27 06 2008

My first two articles are up at Suite101!

The articles are Macintosh OS X Leopard for Beginners, a Windows user’s guide to a few of the most useful, and possibly most confusing, Apple features, and Discrimination Against LGBT People, an explanation of the argument that discrimination against gays and lesbians is also sex discrimination.

If you’re interested in reading my articles, consider subscribing to the RSS feed by going to my writer profile and clicking “How to subscribe to Judith Faucette’s RSS feed.”  I’ll also link articles that are particularly relevant here.





My views on monogamy

27 06 2008

I wouldn’t say they’ve come entirely full circle, but they’re definitely not what they once were.  When I was a kid, I fully bought into the whole hearts and flowers romance thing, in the traditional sense of two people, committed to each other.  I’m strongly opposed to cheating and honest to a fault.  I still feel that way – if I have an understanding with someone that our relationship is monogamous, I won’t cheat and I don’t want them to.  I’d rather be completely honest – if you’re considering cheating, then let’s talk about it and evaluate what this means for our relationship.

But aside from that, I’ve started thinking more and more about the poly option.  I’ve had poly friends since I was 18 or so, and while respecting that choice, I’ve never identified as poly.  After all, I know that I can do monogamy, and I don’t have a need to have multiple relationships or an open relationship.  But as I get older and become more and more sure of who I am and what I want, I know that my idea of a relationship does not match that of most people.  I’m very unlikely to have a live-in situation, and a relationship is unlikely to be the number one priority in my life.  Sure, it could be up there, but other things are at least equally as important.  Someone I’m with has to be okay with the fact that I could move thousands of miles away, or get wrapped up in a project, and for most people that isn’t “fair” in a traditional sort of relationship.

So, for those reasons, I’ve been thinking about other options.  Part of why I’ve been so happily single for the past few years is that I feel perfectly fulfilled by my friendships, whatever romantic encounters do come along, and my interests.  And I also am starting to realise that “relationship” is just a word we use.  Saying you’re someone’s girlfriend has different values for different people, but for me a lot of it is about rules and presentation to the rest of the world.  I may like to be in a relationship if I were to find someone compatible, but I’m very picky.  I don’t have a problem with keeping the labels and definitions away from my love life.  I also for these reasons can now see myself in a poly relationship – I would have no problem being with someone in a long-distance relationship, for example, who lives with someone else.  I don’t have a problem with relating with people as friends but feeling more romantic about them sometimes.  Maybe I’m an odd duck, but I’m starting to think that my sort of relationship philosophy may not, in many cases, be compatible with monogamy.





Another reason to celebrate today!

26 06 2008

This really excites me.  I’ve been interested in Maori culture for a while, and thought about maybe working with Maoris on land rights until I decided that I definitely did not want to practice law.  I’d still love to do cultural preservation work of some sort there.  If you don’t read French, the jist is that the New Zealand government has finally agreed to some compensation for Maori land.  It may be too little too late, but still, this is huge.





Happy Sodomy Day!

26 06 2008

That’s right, today is the five-year anniversary of the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision, which declared sodomy laws in the United States unconstitutional.  I remember when the decision came down – I was eighteen at the time, and several of my gay male friends had AIM away messages up that said “CELEBRATING.”

Now that I’m a crusty old law student, I’ve studied the case, and I have two major thoughts about it.  One, as usual, America is too damned slow on the uptake – before this case, if you plotted the countries with sodomy laws still existing on a map, you’d see countries Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Asia… and us.  Now I’m certainly not suggesting that developing nations should be behind the US, or that we’re somehow morally superior – quite the opposite.  Those who think that we’re Nation Numero Uno, ready to depart on a civilising mission to “fix” the rest of the world – uh.  Uh.  Uhhhhh…  No.  We criticise the human rights records of developing nations while at the same time being by far the worst nation in the “Western world” on human rights and international law.  If you aren’t familiar with this stuff, take a look at the major international human rights treaties and see how many the US has signed.  You’d be surprised.  So no, I don’t think it’s at all strange that it took us this long to strike down sodomy laws, more than twenty years after the European Court of Human Rights said that sodomy laws violate an individual’s right to privacy.

My second thought, however, is optimistic.  Justice Kennedy clearly made quite an effort to avoid talking about level of scrutiny or fundamental rights or suspect class or really anything that would give lower courts a clear cue.  But what did he do?  Well, he cited international authority with approval for the first time in a majority opinion, for one.  He also, despite the dicta that this wasn’t to affect laws on marriage, opened up a can of worms.  Maybe LGBT folks don’t explicitly form a suspect class yet.  Maybe they don’t fall explicitly within the fundamental right to marriage that straight people most certainly enjoy.  But there’s an opportunity.  We can say that the Court did take a step in that direction, and if LGBT people have the same rights to conduct their intimate affairs in their bedroom that straight people do, then it’s not much of a leap to say that they also have the same intimate sorts of relationships that straight people do, which often culminate (for them) in marriage.  By being rather vague in terms of legal principles but at the same time making it clear that he was considering both practices and identity of LGBT people in that case, I think Kennedy did something revolutionary, something even (gasp!) rather European – he acknowledged, in some small way, a positive right to autonomy, the right to live one’s life and conduct one’s intimate affairs as the individual sees fit.  By putting these two aspects together he acknowledged that queer people should be protected both in terms of what they do and who they are – that the two are inextricably linked.  He could have simply focused on practices, on sodomy itself, but he didn’t.  He made it bigger than that.  It’s about the real people, in real relationships, who were being hurt by an arcane, stigmatising law.  So good job, JK.  I don’t always agree with you, but I think you took a leap of courage this time.





Lesbian Book Club

26 06 2008

I’ve decided to go ahead with the lesbian book club idea.  For our first book, we’ll be reading Stir Fry, by Emma Donoghue.  This book should (I hope!) be at your local library, and if not it’s also available in paperback.  You can also sign up at BookMooch and see if anyone’s giving away a copy.  I will post here each time we’re reading a new book in hopes that new people will find us, but if you’re interested in reading with us now or in the future, please e-mail me at judithavory@gmail.com and I’ll put you on the list for book club news.  Signing up to get e-mails is not a commitment of any kind, just showing that you’re interested and want to be updated.  Keep in mind:

  • This is a no-guilt book club.  If you don’t want to read a certain book, can’t find it at your library, don’t have time, or try to start and don’t finish, that’s fine!  Anyone who does finish a book, or even reads part of it (and doesn’t mind being spoiled) can join in the discussion (message board or chat, I haven’t decided that part yet).  Anyone else is welcome to “lurk.”
  • I want to give everyone time to read, so we’ll be operating on a two month schedule at first (that may be tweaked if necessary).  We’ll start discussing this book in late August
  • Please feel free to link this post with friends who might be interested or on your blog.  Everyone is welcome!