C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Memoriam: Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn received a ticker-tape parade in New York City
after his stunning triumph in the 1958 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.

My late husband was a highly trained classical musician and a great admirer of fellow Texan Van Cliburn, who died today at his home Fort Worth, aged 78. A tribute from the PBS Newshour:

See the full interview with Cliburn here.

The New York Times for some reason seems a bit reluctant to say so, but Cliburn is survived by a partner, Thomas Smith.

In 2011, President Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts upon Cliburn
in a ceremony at the White House.

Update: The New York Times has now posted a more extensive obituary of Cliburn, with some further details about his sexuality - about which, like most gay men of his generation, he was always very discreet to the end of his life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 2/25/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: A Streetcar Named Desire

Steve Hayes dishes up another classic film:
Marlon Brando gives an iconic performance while Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden walk off with the Oscars in Elia Kazan's version of Tennessee Williams' volcanic "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951). Shot in beautiful black and white with a haunting jazz score by Alex North, this is the ultimate version of a Williams play, directed by the man and most of the cast that had done it on Broadway. Vivien Leigh is fragile and unforgettable, and Brando's explosive talent and raw sexuality was like nothing the movie public had ever experienced. It's the perfect companion for the Oscars.

Full summary of all tonight's Oscar winners here, in case you missed it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Perfect at the Beach

Whoa. Is this really being shown on TV in these United States? How nice if it is.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gay Wedding Sparks Outrage in Mississippi

Much to your Head Trucker's astonishment and delight, the hard rock of homophobia is nowadays slowly being chipped away, even in the most surprising places - like small towns in the Deep South.

Two gals got hitched over in Laurel, Mississippi, a couple of weeks ago, complete with bridal gown, wedding cake, and an exchange of vows in front of family and friends. Of course, this kind of commitment ceremony - completely unrecognized by state law - has happened thousands of times all across the nation and the South in the last forty years, and maybe you've even attended some of them. But this time something was different: the local paper printed the story on the front page, along with a big picture of the happy couple, and a bolded quote that "love is love, it knows no gender."

Hoo-wee, did that stir up a wasp's nest of angry calls to the editor of the Laurel Leader-Call, who responded this week with an editorial justifying the paper's decision to run the story. Excerpt:
We knew going in that the gay wedding story was going to ruffle some feathers. We were well aware that the majority of people in Jones County are not in favor of gay marriage. However, any decent newspaper with a backbone can not base decisions on whether to cover a story based on whether the story will make people angry.

The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn't take place or ignoring it because it will upset people. No, our job is to inform readers what is going on in our town and let them make their own judgements. That is exactly what we did with the wedding story. Our reporter heard about the wedding, attended it, interviewed some of the participants and wrote a news story. If there had been protestors at the wedding, we would have covered that the exact same way . . . but there weren't any. We never said it was a good thing or a bad thing, we simply did our job by telling people what took place. . . .

We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying "I don't need my children reading this." Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children.

Read the full editorial here.

Kudos to the courageous editor. And I hope the women and their daughter stay safe.

PS - In your Head Trucker's view, the editor's only mistake was running the story under a huge, all-caps headline. It's not like commitment ceremonies have never happened in Mississippi before (and probably even in Laurel).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It Gets Better: Bishop Mark Hanson, ELCA

Ya know, guys, I'm very distressed with some of the well-known bloggers and other supposed representatives of the "gay community" whom I've noticed over the last several years have fallen into a pattern of bad-mouthing all Christians and all religion, often in highly profane and digusting ways. They do not speak for me, and I hope not for you.

By broadly lumping all believers into one class, without discriminating between the fantatics and the reasonable people of faith, these purported representatives of our cause are making themselves morally no better than the wild-eyed demagogues and bigots of the opposing side. They show themselves to be just as bigoted and just as tyrannical as their opponents, which disgusts me. The long, tragic history of humankind has shown times without number that it is but one small step from being oppressed to being an oppressor.

Religion is a human institution of many forms and varieties; and like all things human, is a mixture of good and evil. So are you and I, my friends. That is the human condition. It is up to us, individually and collectively, to discern the difference and to keep choosing the good whenever we can. Religion is and has been a great help to many, many millions of people in that way. Religion can also be misused as a weapon of oppression and ignorance, and should rightly be rebuked and condemned when it is; but the fanatical commenters amongst us do a great wrong when they ignore the power of faith to make people better human beings.

I could go on at some length here, but I think this video made by Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America makes the point - for those who have ears to hear.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tutu Speaks Truth to Power

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times:
I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion in “A Court to Vet Kill Lists” (news analysis, front page, Feb. 9) that possible judicial review of President Obama’s decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens.

Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

Aboard MV Explorer, near Hong Kong
Feb. 11, 2013

The writer, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town.

See also this article in the New Yorker, "Torture and Obama's Drone Program":
Nick Gillespie suggested that liberals’ lesser outrage at Obama’s drones than Bush’s “enhanced interrogations” amounted to a kind of intellectual corruption. “This isn’t ultimately about ideological hypocrisy—of liberals changing their tune once their guy is in office—but something much more basic and much more disturbing. It reveals that for all their crowing about being watchdogs of all that is good and decent in society, when push comes to shove, too many journalists are ready and willing handmaidens to power—including the power to kill.”

And this article in the Miami Herald, "On Use of Drones, Obama Overreaches":
But in its memo, which surfaces as the Senate ponders confirming John Brennan as director of the CIA, the Justice Department says its definition of “imminent threat” doesn’t require “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

In other words, “imminent” doesn’t mean “imminent.” And if U.S. intelligence — which we all know is infallible, right? — determines you to be a member of al Qaida, that determination, absent any evidence of a planned attack, gives the government the legal pretext to vaporize you. Worse, the government contends this may be done without oversight, judicial or otherwise. The president becomes, quite literally, your judge, jury and executioner.

Cf. Targeted killing - and for a further thrill, National security letter.

And this chart. And this quote.

There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
--Ecclesiastes 7:20

Honk to Mimi, who first posted Tutu's letter on her blog.

Sunday Drive: Handel, Comfort Ye My People

from Psalm 73:
So then, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase their wealth.
In vain have I kept my heart clean,
and washed my hands in innocence.
I have been afflicted all day long,
and punished every morning.
Had I gone on speaking this way,
I should have betrayed the generation of your children.
When I tried to understand these things,
it was too hard for me;
Until I entered the sanctuary of God
and discerned the end of the wicked.
Surely, you set them in slippery places;
you cast them down in ruin.
Oh, how suddenly do they come to destruction,
come to an end, and perish from terror!
Like a dream when one awakens, O Lord,
when you arise you will make their image vanish.
When my mind became embittered,
I was sorely wounded in my heart.
I was stupid and had no understanding;
I was like a brute beast in your presence.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me by your counsel,
and afterwards receive me with glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
and having you I desire nothing upon earth.
Though my flesh and my heart should waste away,
God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Brideshead Revisited, Again

Charles and Sebastian nod off in a gondola during a sun-kissed trip to Venice.

This week I was looking around on Netflix for something nice to watch in the evenings while getting ready for bed, and I rediscovered the original 1981 version of Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh's story of love, sex, guilt, religion, and redemption in the golden years of prewar Britain - and like a fine bottle of wine, this portrayal by a superb cast has only improved with age since I last saw it years ago. M.P. and I saw the 2008 film version with Emma Thompson as the iron-lady matriarch when that came out, and it is very good too - but the original TV series is done across eleven episodes, allowing much more time to savor the atmosphere and absorb all the nuances of character development.

Much of the series was filmed at the magnificent Castle Howard in Yorkshire.

Anthony Andrews is charming as the haunted Lord Sebastian, and Jeremy Irons is touchingly naive as his admiring middle-class lover. Nor must I omit to mention the late, great Sir Laurence Olivier as the middle-aged but still quite studly paterfamilias in exile. And many more fine characterizations by a first-rate ensemble. If you've never seen it before, I highly recommend you pour yourself a nice glass of wine, cuddle your teddy bear, and settle in for a delicious treat. If you don't have Netflix, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube - here's a teaser with some skin to entice you, from Episode 2:

PS - I see from googling around that some reviewers are still debating whether these boys had a homosexual relationship, or were just "good friends." OMG. What do you say, fellas?

Aloysius joins the boys in a dapper pose beside the fountain at Brideshead.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Be My Valentine

Couples from the past, about whom we know nothing. But we can guess . . . .

Bonus: Texas legislator files Freedom to Marry bill on Valentine's Day.

Of course, it has no chance of passage this year. But one day, another will.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union, 2013

The President's State of the Union Address to Congress last night was a fine performance, and contained two shout-outs for the gays - I'm not sure, but maybe we got mentioned for the first time in any SOTU address? First, this:
It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country - the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love.
And later, this:
We'll invest in new capabilities, even as we reduce waste and wartime spending. We will ensure equal treatment for all servicemembers, and equal benefits for their families - gay and straight. (Applause.)
In case you missed it, here's the enhanced video from the White House, with various charts and graphics appearing in a sidebar during the course of the speech. Full text here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Queering the South for Equal Marriage

There's a movement now afoot to raise awareness and promote marriage equality all over the Southland by sending couples to apply for marriage licenses in places where there's just no possibility of getting them - yet. Take a look at these two boys applying to get hitched at the courthouse in Morristown, Tennesseee, population 29,000, way to hell and gone up in the Smoky Mountains. And have a kleenex handy.

My stars, fellas, I remember a time when it would have been worth your life, just about, to pull something like that in a small-town Southern courthouse. But wasn't the clerk lovely about it? Not everybody would be, even now, but the times they are a-changing even in the land of cotton. An overview of what's happening across Dixie:

Read more about the We Do campaign and find out how you can help at the Campaign for Southern Equality. Or check out more videos like these at their YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, Matt Baume of AFER updates us on marriage progress in the rest of the nation this week:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Newsbites, 2/11/13

A scattering of good news from around the world today.

Rome:  Pope Benedict Resigns.

Washington:  Panetta Extends Military Benefits to Gay Spouses.

Denver:  Colorado Senate Passes Civil Unions Bill.

Texas:  The Pork Boys Do Mardi Gras.

This past weekend, with soupe a l'oignon, Porkchops Jambalaya, fried biscuits, King Cake, and quite a few other delectable delights. Now that M.P. has had his computer overhauled and added several terrabites of memory, I hope he'll be able to send me a pic or two of the beautifully set Mardi Gras table he laid, and I'll post those along with a complete menu later in the week.

For those of you unlucky enough, alas, to have no Cajun friends who know how to party: How to make perfect Shrove Tuesday pancakes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Marriage Equality Advances in Britain and France

Demonstrators led by longtime gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell (center) rallied outside Parliament last night as the historic vote was taken on same-sex marriage.

Last night, the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Britain passed its second reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 400-175, making it a near certainty that the bill - after being fine-tuned by a Commons committee and passing review by the House of Lords before returning to the lower house for a final vote - will become law before the end of this year.  The Telegraph reports:

Channel 4 News gives a brief history of changing attitudes in Britain since the 1950's:

And last Saturday, the lower house of the French Parliament likewise passed the key section of an equal-marriage bill by 249-97; further debate will take place this week before the bill is sent on to the Senate.

As in Britain, political observers expect that France will also have legalized same-sex marriage before year's end. Kudos to Prime Minister Cameron and to President Hollande, who have both taken a bold stand for equality in the face of the usual bigoted opposition and vituperation from the reactionary elements in their respective countries.

Meanwhile, Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights gives an update on progress in this country:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Fables of Florian

The despairing grasshopper.

I'm still blah and not in much of a talking mood - but here's a few thoughts for today.

While reading this news story about the late reclusive heiress Huguette Clark and an impending battle over her princely estate - which is fascinating reading in itself - I was struck by the quotation from an author I'd never heard of, one Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-1794):

It was a fable in verse called “Le Petit Grillon” — “The Little Cricket” — by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian, a French writer of the 1700s.

The fable tells the story of a cricket hidden in the grass who admires a beautiful butterfly. The showy butterfly draws the attention of children. They chase it, catch it and, in their eagerness, tear the butterfly apart.

Oh! says the little cricket
I no longer regret
My obscure condition
It costs too much to shine
in this world.

The doctor realized that the copper heiress — who had once been a reluctant butterfly of society herself — was summing up her life.

How I will love
My sweet and peaceful retreat
True happiness
Is found more easily
In modest circumstances.

Or, as the moral of the fable has been summed up in other translations:

To live happy, live hidden.

So I went looking for the full poem and found it, under the title of "True Happiness," in this 1888 translation, which contains many other witty, incisive fables - and how true they all are, very true. Here is an excerpt from one entitled "The Grasshopper," who is very discontented with the world but is reproved by a friend:

     Let the world go,
     And all its woe.
What is't to you, I'd like to know?
'Tis bad and always will be so.
You cannot shape it to your view
By all that you may say and do.
Besides, my friend, where can you find
A world more suited to your mind?

Good advice for a blogger like me, I think, who remembers too much and feels too much. I recommend all of these fables for your consideration - make of them what you will.

For readers perspicacious
They may prove efficacious.

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