California Dreamin’

15 12 2008

I didn’t want to say anything until it was official because I’m superstitious about some things, but I’ve booked my ticket and hotel room so I think I can announce it.  I’ll be presenting a paper in March at the Global Arc of Justice: Sexual Orientation Law Around the World conference, hosted by the Williams Institute of UCLA law school and the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association, in Los Angeles!  I’ve known that I was probably going for a month, but now that funding for 3/4 of the trip came through and I was able to book the flight, I have an ear-splitting grin on my face.  It will be amazing academically, with several of my favorite scholars, and professionally, with several people from the NGOs at which I’d most like to work in attendance, and also I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to be in West Hollywood for three nights.  I’ve never been a big LA person, though I went to San Francisco once when I was 14 and loved it, but I keep thinking about the L-Word and laughing to myself.  It’s like a fantasy trip.  If anyone reading has academic experience, I would love some advice.  I know nothing about presenting a paper: for example, do you tend to stick with laying out the paper’s argument or do you extrapolate and give interesting facts with just your core argument as a teaser for people to read the paper?  I don’t know if/when this will be published, so a teaser seems a bit silly, though maybe this will be a jumping-off point to publication.  Also, PowerPoint or index cards?  Any other tips?  I’d love to hear them.

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Heads up on an interesting discussion on gay marriage

10 12 2008

If you haven’t yet seen it, Jon Stewart makes some really thoughtful arguments in a discussion with Mike Huckabee about gay marriage.  One of my favourite points: “Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality.”  You can get it online at thedailyshow.com, just click full episodes and select Tuesday’s night’s show. The discussion is right after the last little black commercial break bar at the bottom of your screen.





Marriage equality in Iowa? Say it’ll be so!

10 12 2008

I was pretty bummed after months of planning to go to the oral arguments in the Varnum v. Brien case today that my ride decided that it wasn’t likely enough that we would get a seat in the courthouse and changed his mind, but I understood and due to the freezing rain it was probably a smart call anyway.  Instead, I watched the arguments at a OneIowa viewing party here in Iowa City.  These are my thoughts.

Good:

  • The lawyer for the defense, a Mr. Cool, was disrespectful to the court, bumbling, and just not all that great.  He barely answered a question, he stumbled a lot, he ran himself around in circles, he contradicted himself, he often told a justice that he didn’t want to answer a question or that the question wasn’t good, and twice he reminded the court that his time had run out.  He held his folders in his hand at one point and looked like he just wanted to get the hell back to his chair.  This isn’t substantive, but I hope it will make the court look less kindly on his arguments.
  • The defense presented a lot of weak arguments that haven’t worked well in other states.  The focus was heavy on procreation, and the justices all hammered the attorney on that point, wanting to know what heterosexual marriage has to do with raising a healthy family.  You could tell that the attorney knew he was backing himself into a corner and he never really made his way out.
  • He also relied pretty heavily on the rational basis test, which the court very well may use, the but the court repeatedly asked him about strict or heightened scrutiny and he couldn’t answer.  Probably because if they apply strict scrutiny, he’s screwed.

Bad:

  • The court mentioned a very recent Iowa case called Mitchell that I don’t know but apparently it requires the plaintiff when arguing no rational basis not only to argue that the government has no rational state interest but also to provide specific evidence to back it up.  The problem is that our side has the burden if the court picks rational basis, and the court basically said that neither side has any decent social science evidence despite thousands of pages submitted.
  • It seems at least possible that they’re going to reverse the District Court on the affidavits that it refused to accept, affidavits from experts including religion professors and a history professors about heterosexual marriage being traditional, etc. etc.  The reason for not accepting those affidavits is that they were personal opinion rather than actual expert testimony, but there was a whole run-around about legislative vs. adjudicative facts and one justice asked whether the case should be remanded or decided if it didn’t agree on that point.
  • One that had the law students in the room kind of gritting our teeth and holding our breath was a question about polygamy.  The defense focused a lot on the “four thousand years” of marriage and tradition and the danger of marriage being eroded in a generation domino effect blah blah blah.  The court then asked the attorney for the plaintiffs what the line is for the definition of marriage, i.e., if we’re allowing gay marriage why aren’t we allowing polygamy?  That was a tough question, though I do think he managed to squeak out of it with an explanation that polygamy changes the actual structure of marriage while same sex marriage only changes the people who can enter into that structure.  Granted, I don’t really have a big problem with polygamy myself, but I think he handled it pretty well.




Call in Gay Day: Tomorrow!

9 12 2008

Just a reminder for those of you in work or school tomorrow, December 10th, that’s it’s the day to call in day.  People around the country, including LGBT people and their allies, will be calling in queer to work to demonstrate how important our presence is.  I, unfortunately, cannot participate, for the simple reason that I have nothing to do tomorrow but study hard for finals, and I can’t afford to blow that off to go volunteer, but if you do decide to call in gay, spend the day volunteering for your favourite queer (or otherwise) organization!





Like Tomboy, Like Lesbian?

8 12 2008

I was just in the shower, thinking (like you do) about lesbian stereotypes.  I think that there’s at least some assumption that if you’re a gay girl, you might have been a tomboy growing up, or you really get along with “the guys.”  And for some lesbians, I know this is true, but I never fit into that mold.  I didn’t have any really close guy friends as a kid – sure, I had a few male friends, but I never connected with them in any significant way.  I had fairly “girly” interests, and I’ve always been touchy feely and liked long conversations.  Not that there aren’t men like that, but not so many in elementary and middle school.  My best friends were always girls, and I got along well with girls.  But when I young and assumed that I was straight, and when I was a bit older and identified as bisexual, I always figured that once I was in a serious relationship with a guy, he would be my best friend.  That was what I was looking for, and it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t just… happen.

Now I know there are exceptions, and there are plenty of lesbians who relate well with men but prefer women romantically, and plenty of straight women who don’t have any men friends but connect with their romantic partner.  However, the example that comes to mind is my parents, who indeed were best friends throughout thirteen years of marriage and fifteen years and counting of divorce.  My mom has always been heterosexual and she’s always had close male friends.  It didn’t occur to me that the same wouldn’t happen for me, but in my only serious relationship with a man, it really was a “Men are from Mars” situation.  We were just speaking different languages.

Since then, I’ve always thought that women are preferable as romantic partners because you can fall in love with your best friend.  And I think there’s something to that – if your best friend is always a certain gender, and you’ve never been particularly close to the other gender, you’re probably at least somewhat unlikely to suddenly become best friends with someone of the other gender because you get into a romantic relationship with them.  So maybe it’s not that unusual when a girly girl becomes a lesbian.  After all, doesn’t it make a certain amount of sense?

Lesbian book club reminder: the poll is up now for round three and will be open until Sunday afternoon.  Please vote!  Also, feel free to start discussing for round two if you read the book.





File this under “no such thing as bad publicity”

11 07 2008

I wrote a very brief article today on Obama and McCain’s stances on LGBT issues, just a quick highlight of their positions on a few of the major questions.  It’s easily my quickest-to-gain-popularity article on Suite101, but the funny thing is that I’m getting several people coming from a website called savecalifornia.com, which is apparently a site in favor of the marriage amendment there.  A link to my article is prominently placed in the center of the page, labelled “Their positions on the ‘LGBT’ agenda.”  Wow, I never thought I’d get scare quoted!  What an honor!





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