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March 26, 2015

Quick backlash to reckless Indiana 'religious freedom' law enactment

Advocate reports on the quick and harsh reactions to Indiana Governor Pence signing what is in fact a religious supremacy bill, not a religious freedom bill--unless you mean the freedom to discriminate and split apart our diverse society.

My God is not a bully. I will not worship a god who is a bully. I will not obey a bullying god. I will not attend a bullying church. I will not respect bullying clergy. I will not remain silent as religious bullies seek to impose their beliefs on others in the guise of "religious freedom" bills. I live in a religiously and culturally diverse society, where faith-based discrimination in the public square undermines the civic order and social cohesion. I will fight the bullies. I will demand that editors and reporters call religious supremacy what it is, and not let them swallow the right-wing spin about religious freedom. Please join me in this recognition and this fight to uphold secular American values.

Indiana governor signs religious supremacy bill

Mike_Pence_insert_public_domain

Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples.

We have a lot of fighting ahead. It is not religious freedom our opponents want, but religious supremacy. And we've got to say so. We've got to challenge editors and headline writers to stop swallowing the right wing spin. I don't mean to pick on the Blade, where I am a columnist. Almost everyone is making this mistake. We have to stop parroting this false framing of the issue. The public desperately needs to be better educated on what is truly at stake.

Norman Scribner dies at 79

Norman_Scribner

WaPo reports:

Norman O. Scribner, founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, one of the region’s preeminent symphonic choirs, died March 22 at his home in the District. He was 79.

The cause was a heart attack, said a son, Matthew Scribner.

The late Washington Post music critic Paul Hume once called Mr. Scribner “one of Washington’s finest musicians and one of the most gifted choral conductors in the country.”

Rest in peace, Norman. I sang under him for a while in the 1980s, which enabled me to experience some great music and musicians from the stage. At one point we were doing a Russian piece, possibly Boris Godunov (Washington's symphonic choruses sang many Russian pieces during Mstislav Rostropovich's tenure at the National Symphony), and they had scores in Cyrillic for the purists, one of whom was a ferocious Zionist who told me that Democracy was inimical to Israel's interests. I haven't seen Binyamin since then (I'm kidding, Bibi Netanyahu as far as I know never sang with Choral Arts). Anyway, Norman was a big guy and could be intimidating, but was a pleasure to work with.

In 1986, when I was promoting the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's first concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (featuring guest soloist Maureen Forrester in the Brahms Alto Rhapsody), Norman graciously lent us the Choral Arts Society's mailing list. I remember him telling me that the flyer we mailed "struck all the grace notes."

Once in the 1990s, the Gay Men's Chorus sang Norman's setting of the "Ode to St. Cecilia," the patron saint of vocal music. Jim Holloway, GMCW's director at the time, was often a rehearsal accompanist for Norman, and they struck up a musical friendship. So after several weeks of rehearsing, Norman joined us at the dress rehearsal for a run-through. He was delightful as always. But I remember teasing him during a break by saying that a line from the text, which (regarding St. Cecilia) mentioned "her sacred organ's praise" (meaning she sang), came out "her sacred organ sprays" if we didn't enunciate clearly. He reacted with mock horror. Choristers find ways of amusing themselves during long rehearsals.

(Postscript: the ferocious Zionist I mentioned might have been from what was then called the Oratorio Society, which I also sang with in the 80s. It's hard to keep my symphonic choruses straight, especially since they joined forces for large works. The guy was bearded, and had the look of a deranged prophet. He was a good singer.)

(Photo by Neshan Naltchayan/Courtesy of Choral Arts Society of Washington)

Go to a revolution and cure your writer's block

Salman Rushdie delightfully recounts how he cured his writer's block in 1986 by going to a revolution. The punchline is great even though you can see it coming a mile off.

March 24, 2015

Ghosts in the Courtroom

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(Frank Kameny; Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

My column this week examines the Mattachine Society of Washington's amicus brief in the marriage cases before SCOTUS--featuring newly unearthed original documents that show decades of anti-gay animus in the federal government--animus dismissed in 2013 by Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent in Windsor as "snippets of legislative history."

Cropping up again and again is Frank Kameny, original MSW founder, whose fearlessness, brilliance, and doggedness was a continued thorn in the side of those persecuting us. Bravo to Charles Francis and Pate Felts for their sleuthing, and to McDermott Will & Emery as counsel of record.

Here is the lede:

The late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny's exhortations ring in my ears as I anticipate arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license same-sex marriages.

Read the whole thing here.

The questionable ethics of #Corizon

GLAA's concerns about Corizon are stated here.

Trump brings 'birther' charge against Cruz

Ilya Shapiro at Cato Institute explains why Cruz is eligible to run. It has to do with the Nationality Act of 1940.

Phase 1 reopening postponed

Phase1

Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports:

The Capitol Hill lesbian bar Phase 1, which has been closed for renovation since early January was scheduled to reopen last Friday, March 20, according to an ad that the club placed in the Jan. 19 issue of Metro Weekly.

But customers attempting to go to Phase 1 on Friday night discovered that the door was locked and noticed through a window on the door that the bar was dark and empty, adding to the mystery surrounding its future.

Apparently, posting a note on the door was too much trouble for the owner.

March 23, 2015

Media flap over Aaron Schock

Schock

Blade editor Kevin Naff has an excellent takedown of the absurd attack on gay media by WaPo's Steven Petrow over the fall of Rep. Aaron Schock. Naff writes:

The LGBT media outlets speculating about Schock are doing so because we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. Ask David Dreier, Mark Foley or Larry Craig, to name a few. Schock invites this speculation with the obnoxious, preening persona that he’s cultivated via Instagram, Twitter and Men’s Fitness photo shoots. He has spent more time developing a social media following than on crafting legislation in Congress.

Naff has much more, all of it spot-on. If Aaron Schock is a victim, I am a power forward for the Blue Devils. For some reason, the Post has become a throwback to an earlier time when "gay" meant "icky" and the Establishment wagons were circled as in 1942 with Sen. David Walsh. 73 years later, some things haven't changed.

A Cruz I'd rather look at

Starbucks ends #RaceTogether initiative

Hardly shocking news, given the mockery Starbucks brought upon itself with this ill-thought-out initiative.

One further thought: The racial oppression in the history of the coffee trade is hardly redeemed by Starbucks hiring lots of black baristas.

Indiana House passes bill to grant faith-based exemption to laws

This new trend in statehouses is as radical as it is popular. It is not about religious freedom, but about religious supremacy. It is an assault on the secular sphere where citizens of many backgrounds and faiths encounter one another. Such laws would undermine any civil society in which everyone is not the same. What other reckless measures will the far right think up?

Jon Stewart on Schock, Netanyahu, and Hart

In case you missed it.

Marriage News Watch: Texas

Pope Francis Dines With LGBT Inmates In An Italian Prison

I remain skeptical of his intentions regarding policy, and I am a policy man; but this pope's pastoral instincts are flawless. Thank you, @Pontifex.

Last Week Tonight on ALEC

Imagine Ted Cruz winning

'Religious Freedom' Bills Fail, As More People See What They’re Really About

Interesting read from The Daily Beast on the backlash to the anti-gay backlash.

(Hat tip: Robert Naylor, Jr.)

Gay Iraq war vet: from homeless to activist

Puerto Rico drops defense of same-sex marriage ban