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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 3/31/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Drive: Brokeback Mountain Suite

Specially commissioned by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, seen here performing in 2012.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gay Weddings Begin in England and Wales

Last July, Parliament passed a law authorizing same-sex couples to wed in England and Wales.  The first weddings occurred just after midnight last night.

In a special column written for Pink News, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said:
The introduction of same-sex civil marriage says something about the sort of country we are. It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth. It also sends a powerful message to young people growing up who are uncertain about their sexuality. It clearly says ‘you are equal’ whether straight or gay. That is so important in trying to create an environment where people are no longer bullied because of their sexuality – and where they can realise their potential, whether as a great mathematician like Alan Turing, a star of stage and screen like Sir Ian McKellen or a wonderful journalist and presenter like Clare Balding. . . .

Together we should be proud to live in a country judged to be the best place to live in Europe if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. But we should equally be far from complacent about the challenges that remain – and I am just as committed as ever to working with you to challenge attitudes and stamp-out homophobic bullying and hate crimes.

We are a nation that is growing stronger economically because of our long term economic plan. But I hope we can also be a country that is growing stronger socially because we value love and commitment equally. Let us raise a toast to that – and all those getting married this weekend.

Guest Post: Córdoba

Contributed by my truckbuddy Tim from England, now resident in Spain:

Tim’s Take on Spain
Córdoba – Public Treasures, Private Passions?

I do like a nice coccyx, and that one is certainly exceptional. It’s a complex confluence of overlaying muscles that sometimes magically combine to create a wonderfully corrugated set of curves and channels at the base of the spine. I suppose Russ will tell me it’s more properly called the sacrum, but coccyx is the most commonly used term for this part of the torso and it’s such a playful word, why waste it?

Sadly, the coccyx is often overlooked, or hidden, compared to its more well known and up-front counterpart, the abdominal muscles. We all like the look of a six-pack, even if most of us have drunk ours by now! Every model worth his salt must be able to display at least a four-pack; some even have eight, goddammit! Nowadays I manage with just the one and cherish the memories of plurality!

Córdoba is a bit like a coccyx, when compared to the more well known abdominals of Granada. The beautiful red sandstone Alhambra Palace and terraced water gardens of the Generalife are justifiably considered some of the most beautiful monuments in the world, and put Granada at the top of the tourist trail in Spain. The small provincial city of Córdoba, however, stands somewhat in the shadow of its more illustrious cousin, yet the magnificent Moorish mosque, La Mezquita, and the tranquil pools and ponds of the Alcázar gardens are, to my mind, equally deserving of exploration and admiration, just like this coccyx!

When I started Tim’s Take at Russ’ behest, I decided straight away that I didn’t want to write about the ‘touristy’ side of Spain. It’s so much more than beaches and bullfights, flamenco and fiestas. Plenty of travel writers have been before me and done that. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles got a lot closer than most, so I’m in illustrious company!

For me it’s quite simple; in order to get to know Spain, you first have to understand its people, not its cultural symbols. And to get to know the Spanish people, you have to understand their passions: their extraordinary passion for life, death, and everything in between. This is the key to understanding the never-ending illogical actions, the seemingly endless contradictions that even everyday life throws up. It’s taken me almost ten years to appreciate this, slowly at first, but I now believe I’ve found that holy grail, the unifying theory that explains everything! It didn’t help being British; we are more used to keeping our emotions under control and our passions secret.

In Spain the view is just the opposite. How can you keep quiet about something you love? If you feel it, show it! But whilst Spanish emotions are always on display, their passions are harder to discern: you have to learn what to look for, and where to look for it. Not everything in Spain is obvious – to a foreigner’s eye. So in this post I want to make a contrast between some of the very public treasures on view, and the more private passions hidden behind some of Spain’s cultural icons, just like comparing the abdominals to the coccyx. And obviously I am going to talk about bullfighting and flamenco – see, that’s Spanish logic!

Partner and I act as key holders for some of our absent neighbours, looking after their gardens, letting tradesmen in, etc. This brings in some useful pocket money that Partner likes to spend on our garden, new plants, fertiliser for the lawn, and such. Last year we made a decent surplus, and he suggested we take a short break in Córdoba during October. Now I’m not usually one for cities, but Córdoba is quite small and has many wonderful historical monuments, a rich local cuisine, and hotels that accept dogs. We tacked on a few days in Zuheros after Córdoba, so I could get my fix of the countryside, and set off for the Hotel Selou, located right in the middle of the city and next to some parks, very useful when you have a dog in tow!

Córdoba lies in the north of Andalucia, about two and a half hours’ drive away. It sits on the right bank of the broad and fast-flowing Rio Guadalquivir, still crossed by one of the original Roman bridges.

Continued after the jump . . . 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Big Delivery Wagon

Sometimes a pickle is just a pickle. 
--Sigmund Freud.

A fascinating look at the ways and means of food distribution in 1951, courtesy of the H. J. Heinz Company.  Funny thing, apart from ketchup, vinegar, pickles, and the eponymous steak sauce, I can hardly think of any of the other 57 varieties that are sold in stores now - I'm not sure I even remember seeing much else as a kid in the 1960's.  I wonder why that is.

Healthcare? You'll Have to Ask Your Boss

A message from the good folks at Hobby Lobby, praise the Lord:

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which you should take a great interest in, no matter your age, race, orientation, or sex. Hobby Lobby (which takes in over $2 billion a year and employs 22,000 workers) is headquartered in Oklahoma City and owned by the family of founder David Green (net worth $5 billion), who has donated millions to the likes of Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts.

Green and company are asking the Supreme Court, in effect, to declare that corporations - under the legal fiction of corporate personhood - are entitled to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, just like any natural person is. And that would mean that under Obamacare, Green or any other employer in America would not have to pay to cover your contraception expenses, or any other medical treatment that God doesn't approve of - according to their sacred, heartfelt beliefs.

Don't shrug this case off just because you're gay and never get even close to a vajayjay. Think about it, guys - some churches don't approve of vaccinations, psychological therapy, blood transfusions, or even of medical science in general (can you say faith healing?) - so if the Supremes buy Hobby Lobby's argument that they shouldn't have to pay for health insurance that covers anything they have a religious objection to, well, millions of people could be totally out of luck next time they need a doctor's care, or a medicine or procedure that offends somebody's notion of what God Almighty is all about.

This is part of the Republicans' war on women, but the implications extend much further, to men as well as children.  And the votes on the Court look to be evenly spread, with only Justice Kennedy between you and the blessings of theocracy. You really want the likes of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry deciding what your doctor can or can't do for you? Why is no one marching in the streets about this? Why are we even having this discussion in 2014? If you haven't paid attention to this case until now - better get up to speed, because it just might hit you right between the eyes, come the high court's ruling in June.

Scotusblog has numerous articles outlining and analyzing the issues. If you don't have time to read all that, at least watch what Rachel has to say about it - your health and maybe even your life depend on on what's going down at the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 3/24/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Way to Go, Joe!

The Veep gave a rousing speech in favor of gay rights last night, well worth your time to listen to. From the YouTube intro:
Vice President Joe Biden spoke to over 1,000 LGBT rights supporters at the Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles gala on March 22, 2014. Vice President Biden's inspiring remarks in support of global LGBT equality represent the latest step from a White House that has made fairness and dignity for LGBT people one of its top priorities.

Highlight, found at 12:00-14:00 in the clip below:
My grandkids, my children, and their kids are going to be shocked, it shocks the conscience, that this very moment in American history, in some states, an employer can fire you just because of who you are, or who you love. It’s close to barbaric. I mean think about this, no I really mean this. Imagine, imagine, twenty years from now, as Americans look back and say how in the hell could that have ever been allowed? The country’s moved on. The American people have moved on. It’s time for the Congress to move on and pass ENDA. Pass ENDA now! Not tomorrow, now!

If you think about it, it's outrageous we're even debating this subject. I really mean it. It's almost beyond belief that today, in 2014, I could say to you, you're an employee in so many states, and you're fired? Because of who you love? I mean, think about that. It is bizarre. No, no, no, it really is. I don't even think most Americans even know that employers can do that.

Later in his speech, at the 19:30 mark, Biden said:
The single most basic of all human rights is the right to decide who you love. It's the single basic building block, it is. It's the single most important human right that exists. And hate can never be defended because it's a so-called "cultural norm." I've had it up to here with cultural norms. I really mean it.

Sunday Drive: Take It Easy

Hard to believe this was more than forty years ago now - where does the time go?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Newsbites, 3/22/14

Just getting caught up with the news here after being out of town for a few days.

Clarissa Dickson Wright, fondly remembered as one of the Two Fat Ladies, has died at age 66.   May she rest in well-buttered peace.

Bigot died, age 84.  Not worth remembering.  Come to find out, Time magazine wrote about him as a busybody college student in 1951.  Apparently he was always morbidly obsessed with religion and other's people's sex lives.

The hits just keep on coming:  yesterday afternoon, federal district judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, approved by voters in 2004, as an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Judge Friedman brought down the ban with a ringing salvo of the heavy artillery:
The Court is not aware of any legal authority that entitles a ballot-approved measure to special deference in the event it raises a constitutional question. On the contrary, the Supreme Court has clearly stated that if . . . an enactment violates the U.S. Constitution - whether passed by the people or their representatives - judicial review is necessary to preserve the rule of law . . . [t]he electorate cannot order a violation of the Due Process or Equal Protection Clauses by referendum or otherwise, just as the state may not avoid their application by deferring to the wishes or objections of its citizens. . . .

In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” Tr. 2/25/14 p. 40, state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples. It is the Court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.

Read the full decision here. Unlike other judges who have recently issued similar rulings in several states, Judge Friedman did not issue a stay of his order, so this morning at least four county clerks in Michigan opened their offices to issue marriage licenses and perform wedding ceremonies. Hooray for all the happy couples.

BTW, Judge Friedman, a Reagan appointee, also torpedoed that fatally flawed anti-gay "study" by Mark Regnerus, concluding:
The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. . . . While Regnerus maintained that the funding source [i.e., the Republican Heritage Foundation] did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged.

And finally, in overseas news:

U.S. Freezes Putin's Netflix Account

CNN Apologizes for Briefly Airing Non-Flight 370 Story

Update, 5:25 p.m.: At the request of Michigan's attorney general, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this afternoon issued a stay of the district court ruling, but not before dozens of couples had obtained marriage licenses and married at several county courthouses across the state.  The circuit court will hear arguments on Tuesday.

And Rachel Maddow serves up some reflections on the life and death of a hate-filled bigot - worth watching for some truly laugh-out-loud counterprotesters' signs.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 3/17/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Drive: You've Got a Friend

Carole King, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain:

Watch the entire concert, also featuring Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey, here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Les Beaux Frères: Serviette

Les Beaux Frères studied at circus schools in Quebec and Montreal, and have performed with Cirque du Soleil and other such companies.  They did this wonderful towel dance on stage in Paris last month.

How It's Unmade: Oreos

In this educational video, all you friends of the earth can watch the complex process required to recycle Oreo-style cookies down to their constituent elements.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How It's Made: Croissants

In yesterday's post about our Mardi Gras dinner, I forgot to mention that M.P. also made from scratch two batches of the most marvelous croissants, perfectly tender and flaky, with a mouthwatering buttery taste. Don't have any pictures to show you, but as a substitute take a look at this amazing video about the making of commercial croissants - 50,000 an hour, can you believe?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Pork Boys Do Mardi Gras 2014

Last week, M.P. and I celebrated Mardi Gras - and his long-awaited retirement from a very stressful job - with a truckload of good food, good drink, and good cheer.  Here are some pics I took that he just forwarded to me, showing what we had for dinner over several evenings, and as you can see, did we have fun - boy howdy!

M.P. is as good an artist as he is a cook - he always sets a beautiful table, and made these fabulous masks just for our Mardi Gras dinner.

The festivities began with our favorite deviled eggs - notice the two at the 9 o'clock position - they came from an egg with two yolks, believe it or not, so each half got two twirls of goo.

And then M.P. served up a platter of sweet, succulent coconut shrimp, tenderized by his own secret process, with spiced pineapple and apple dip.

Naturellement, with the shrimp we just had to have some homemade fried onion rings, done to a turn, and so light and crispy as M.P. knows how to make them. Awfully good with homemade Thousand Island dip, as shown.

Tea candles always add a lovely glow to a special dinner.

Another specialty of M.P.'s is 7-Layer Dip, a southwestern favorite:  for you Yankee boys who have never tasted this crowd-pleasing Tex-Mex dish, you lay hamburger browned with taco seasoning in the bottom of a dish, and top successively with refried beans, fresh guacamole salad you made yourself that day, sour cream mixed some more of the taco seasoning, shredded cheese of your choice, pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos), more shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and decorate with some tortilla crisps to give it flair.  I know that doesn't add up to 7 layers, but who's counting?  Just shut up and eat - you ain't never had nothin' this good in your mouth.  I tell you what.

M.P.'s mouthwatering, OMG-I-can't-stop-eating, homemade Cajun jambalaya.  Which is nothing like the nasty, vinegary, inedible crap you get in restaurants, even in New Orleans.

M.P.'s signature variation on the traditional meal is Porkchops Jambalaya - here instead of whole chops, he's cut some pork loin in small pieces and cooked them in a special sauce nice and slow.  So damn good, it will make you want to slap somebody, boys, I guaran-damn-tee it.

Although M.P. is a lapsed Catholic and your Head Trucker is an Episcopalian-on-hold, we decided just for the sake of tradition to observe the first Friday of Lent with a fish dinner. From about 8 o'clock, going clockwise, you see M.P.'s wonderful breaded tilapia, moist, flaky, and done to a turn, all crisp and crunchy on the outside; also M.P.'s incredibly tender and yummy french fries, carefully deep fried; baked beans, the canned variety - my humble contribution - and fresh young asparagus with M.P.'s divine Hollandaise sauce.  
If you don't think this was some sure-nuff good eatin', boys, you ain't never had any.
It wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a King Cake, you know.  M.P. made one from scrach, bien sûr. Lovely.

Of course we washed all the good food down with a celebratory bottle of champagne, as well as our favorite White Zin, and also beer, Diet Coke, and cowboy coffee with our dessert - sugared strawberries over shortcake with vanilla ice cream and a dollop of Cool Whip too - what the hell, you only live once, right fellas?  And as M.P. says, the presentation and decoration of the table is nearly as important as the food - certainly it makes the meal memorable and twice as nice.  So all in all, we had a great time - sorry you boys couldn't be there, you would have enjoyed it too.

P.S. - Be sure to check out M.P.'s latest post on foods and cookery for the season of Lent, over on Phood Filosophie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 3/10/14

Delayed a day because Matt spoke at SXSW in Austin yesterday.

And here's the link to the Washington Post/ABC News poll Matt mentioned.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Jump-start for Spring

A charming little segment from yesterday's CBS Sunday Morning show, featuring cardinals and woodpeckers in York County, Pennsylvania.  I hope they succeed - I'm really tired of the cold weather now.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fired for Being Gay

One day closeted gay Utahn Justin Utley got word at work that his partner had died. The next day, his boss, who had been monitoring his emails, fired him for being gay - which is perfectly legal in that state.

Last month, Justin and other LGBT Utahns got to share their stories with state legislators in an historic committee meeting at the state capitol. Here's Justin pleading for equal rights for gay and transgender people in the Beehive State:

Sunday Drive: Heart Still/Beating

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Poster for the Krewe of Petronius, founded 1961,
the oldest gay krewe in town - or in the world, for that matter.

Boys, you just haven't lived till you've been to New Orleans. I tell you what.

An excerpt from a National Geographic special on Fat Tuesday in the Crescent City:

And here's an excerpt from another film - pay attention to the priest in this one. He's got the true N'awlins accent, which is not at all like what you Yankee boys think a Southern accent is - much more similar to a Brooklyn accent.

And this excerpt from The Sons of Tennessee Williams gives you an idea of how gay krewes got started, and were part of the nascent gay rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s.  The whole documentary is available on Netflix.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 3/3/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

And via Equality on Trial, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll of 1,644 adults finds a majority in favor of marriage equality, 56-39:

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

First U.S. Military Drag Show a Big Hit

Can you fucking believe this?

Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the United States Armed Forces, reports:
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Since the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, U.S. military bases have hosted gay marriage ceremonies and potluck gatherings. But on Saturday, servicemembers here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

Drag queens and drag kings, to be precise. Six servicemembers — gay, lesbian and straight — donned heavy makeup to dance and lip sync songs such as “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for a raucous capacity crowd at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base. The event was a fundraiser for the recently formed Okinawa chapter of OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest nonprofit advocate for the military’s LGBT community.

“We didn’t think there was much of a desire for an event like this on the island but it has actually blown up,” said Navy Lt. Marissa Greene, co-chapter leader of OutServe Okinawa.

Greene said she had hoped to sell about 75 tickets to fund some future support activities for the group, which was formed last summer and still “starting from scratch.” The event was approved as a “variety show” by Kadena’s 18th Wing through the same process as other on-base fundraisers. But an initial 200 tickets were plucked up almost immediately, so they issued another 200. “We ended up selling 400 tickets in 10 days,” she said. . . .

It is also a sign of the times within the military; just a few years ago, gay and lesbian drag performances on a military base would have been unthinkable and potentially a cause for dismissal from the service. . . .

The advocacy group agreed to avoid using the term “drag show” as part of its on-base fundraiser effort. Tech. Sgt. Kristen Baker, who was among the crowd, said the show got a warm reception and would leave a mark for civil rights.

“Everything is just accepted. It makes me really proud to watch it,” Baker said. In the military, “we are all brothers and sisters no matter what.”

It wasn't very long ago you could get beaten to death by your military comrades if they thought you were gay.  My God, how times have changed.

Actually, I should rework my title: this is simply the first drag show with openly gay and lesbian entertainers. Drag shows are nothing new in the U.S. military, as witness this pic, and a film from a 1941 show at Fort Slocum, New York:

Sunday Drive: Mary Chapin Carpenter, I'll Never Fall in Love Again

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dallas Men Plan Wedding after 53 Years Together

Newlyweds Jack Evans and George Harris
As conservative and homophobic as Texas is and has been, the fact of the matter is that we gays are all over the Lone Star state, everywhere you go from big cities to suburbs to tiny hamlets in the middle of nowhere, ranches, farms, bars, churches, schools, stores, and everywhere in between.

From Dallas comes this remarkable story of a couple who have been going strong since 1961;  and today, Jack Evans and George Harris are finally getting the church wedding they've always wanted.  It won't be legal in Texas until the Supreme Court says so, but after 53 years together, they can't wait any longer.

Jack and George are the founders of The Dallas Way, a group devoted to collecting and preserving the historical record of the LGBT community in North Texas. Here, the couple participate in "Outrageous Oral," an ongoing oral history project:

Another video of Jack and George telling their fascinating stories:

Their story is a tribute to the enduring power of love. All good wishes to the happy couple.

Update: Dallas station WFAA reports on the wedding, with video:

The Dallas Morning News reported the story too, highlighting the challenge to Methodist doctrine that "homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture." Nevertheless, hundreds of guests attended, along with a dozen Methodist ministers from around the state.

What you Yankee boys and other furriners need to understand is that here in Texas, the Methodist Church is the natural choice for the better-educated and semi-liberal folks; compared to the Southern Baptists, the Methodists are almost like freethinkers. So this gay wedding - even though it couldn't be held on Methodist property - is really a sign of significant change.

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