My Blade column this week looks at the upcoming British referendum on exiting the European Union, and finds lessons for the Colonies.
DC nightlife is being targeted as a handful of people persist in demanding that a thriving urban center be turned into a quiet suburb. Abigail Nichols and Mark Lee face off! (Though, alas, not directly.) WUSA9 reports.
As we wrote in GLAA's 2015 policy brief:
The planned soccer stadium at Buzzard Point will likely displace a gay-related establishment, Ziegfeld's/Secrets at 1824 Half Street SW, which features adult entertainment and faces virtual impossibility in relocating without action by the Council and Mayor. We ruefully recall the club relocation bill of 2007, whose passage occasioned a round of mutual congratulations on the Council dais after it was amended into virtual uselessness. We hope that a suitable cosmopolitanism will overcome NIMBYism in that body, and that a solution may be found to serve the gay market and prevent the extinction of this legitimate class of entertainment.
To be clear, it is not the stadium itself, but related development, that will displace Ziegfeld's/Secrets. When Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro asked me if the District should help the club relocate, I replied, "The District should help. It is ridiculous and sad that a cosmopolitan city like DC should face the loss of its adult entertainment because of hysterical bluenoses who cannot stop minding other people’s business."
Lou Chibbaro reports for the Blade on the push to decriminalize sex work, or at least to de-prioritize enforcement of anti-prostitution laws, an effort which many LGBT groups including GLAA have supported because so many already marginalized LGBT youth and trans women end up in the criminal justice system due to their having to rely on survival sex. Here is an excerpt that mentions GLAA and quotes me:
In D.C., the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance has been calling for decriminalization of sex work since 2008. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large), a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, said at the time of the Amnesty International declaration last August that he was considering introducing legislation to decriminalize prostitution in D.C.
But Grosso has since said he’s uncertain about whether such a bill would have any chance of passing at this time and he was reconsidering his plans for the legislation.
At a news conference on Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced plans for a cooperative D.C.-federal government effort to crack down on human trafficking, including trafficking of sex workers. When asked by a Blade reporter what they thought about calls by some LGBT organizations to decriminalize prostitution, Bowser and Maria Odom, the head of a Department of Homeland Security project to combat trafficking stopped short of backing decriminalization.
The president soared last night, a fact that was all the more clear as Republicans, trapped in their refusal to give him credit or respect for anything ever, sat on their hands. He outclassed his detractors by so far it was embarrassing, and showed he was the grownup in the room. Here are excerpts.
"Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?"
"Some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber."
"Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did."
"Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon."
Lovely ad from Nordstrom featuring a gay couple.
Mark Lee weighs in against the pending D.C. bill to guarantee 16 weeks of universal paid leave. Zack Ford of ThinkProgress objects to the Blade having run the piece at all. My reply is below.
This self-satisfied young man needs to be on the lookout for falling pianos, speeding buses, and elevator cars that are not there. Somewhere, one of them has his name on it.
This cheeky commercial will upset the likes of Matt Staver and Tony Perkins. It was directed by Mark Nickelsburg, who is quoted about it here.
Lisa Rein at WaPo looks at the fallout for federal employees who turn up on the customer list:
Now that the Ashley Madison hack has outed as many as 15,000 federal employees and active duty military, government agencies say they’re combing through the e-mail addresses of possible adulterers to see if their extramarital activity on work time amounts to anything punishable.
The question for me is not whether government employees should be logging onto an adultery site on the job. The question is what kind of society we want, and how much further we are going to replace the walls and curtains of privacy with the electronic equivalent of glass and floodlights. It is easy to say "improve security," but there will always be a hacker somewhere with no compunction who can punch through the next layer you build.
It is easy to make light of social standards and boundaries when we are not the ones affected. With Ashley Madison, one boundary buster has its own boundaries busted. So we mock the religious hypocrites who turn up on the list. Then we find out that some people's lives are now in danger, such as gay men from anti-gay countries. And we are starting to hear about suicides. Most of us have done things that it would be mortifying to see splayed across TV screens. If we only respect the privacy of people whose behavior and beliefs and politics meets with our approval, we have already lost.
Thanks to Councilmember Grosso.
GLAA discusses the issue in our latest policy brief.
The recent Washington Post commentary misses a key point. Keeping commercial sex on the black market makes sex workers less safe. Legalization does not solve everything, but it would help with that. Regulation and inspection are also needed. And of course alternatives are crucial, otherwise consent is illusory. Consent implies choices, which are all too often absent for (say) trans women of color who were driven into sex work because of transphobia and discrimination.
The arrests currently being boasted of by MPD generate criminal records, which only make it harder for the sex workers to get better and safer work. Imperfect solutions may still improve things for the marginalized populations that are most at risk. Equating all sex work with human trafficking is false and counterproductive. Disapproval of commercial sex does not make it the same as kidnapping and slavery. If we cannot make these distinctions, we are doing no favors to the ladies on the stroll who are there to avoid starvation and who are kept there by public policy.