Category: LGBTQ

SCOTUS Rules for Marriage Equality

Posted by – June 26, 2015

SCOTUS SAME SEX marriage ruling 2015

Magnum Umbrella

Posted by – June 10, 2015

Hot.

Cover of “Umbrella” by Mechanical Bride.

Ireland Votes for Marriage

Posted by – May 23, 2015

Here’s a great story about some of the Irish expats who went home to vote, as it was up by referendum. It’s the first country to do so my popular vote.

Here’s another about #hometovote.

More lovely photos.

Northern Ireland is the only place left in that neck of the woods that doesn’t do or recognize same sex marriage, but that’s expected to change.

Cheated.

Posted by – May 4, 2015

My wife and I were lucky enough to score tickets to see The Replacements this past weekend in Milwaukee; neither of us had ever seen them back in the day and both of us were fans. And they were, as expected, amazing; Paul Westerburg’s voice still sounds incredible and the band was tight.

But today, while doing an interview – I’ll post info about it when it turns up – I realized something about even going to concerts that sucks these days: my wife can’t sing to me when we’re in public and use her full range; instead, it makes me nervous when she drops below a certain register instead of it making me happy. We can’t hold each other or kiss, much less make out, for fear of our own safety. I worry that she doesn’t have much of a spideysense for that too-drunk dude next to her who has started to stare at her or me or worse still, us, in that disconcerting too-drunk dude sort of way.

Mostly, though, what upsets me is the thinking about it. Yes, we both want to say to hell with all of it so she can sing anyway and we can make out where we want to and ignore too-drunk dudes because they are idiots. We want to be awesomely brave, progressive, proud queers who don’t give a shit.

But we’re not.

And we know straight people don’t entirely get it; as I’ve said many times, I thought, as an LGBTQ ally, that I understood, but I didn’t. Yet a lot of same sex couples don’t get it either because they haven’t lived on the heteronormative side of the fence or haven’t for a very long time. Our heterosexual past, as it were, is always present; that guy I met, our ability to make out in public, it all happened, and with each other, and not very long ago. So we find ourselves between the demanding ethics of LGBTQ* politics and well-intentioned but clueless straight people.

What I resent, mostly, is that a simple urge to kiss my partner because she is smiling so hugely because oh wow we’re watching the goddamned Replacements, I wind up in my head thinking about what to do or how to do it and then getting angry that I have to think about it at all, feeling guilty, talking myself out of feeling guilty, coming up with another (non verbal) way to tell her I’m happy she’s happy, and by then I’m noticing too-drunk dude who is listing creepily in our direction and the whole thing starts all over again.

Mostly we both feel cheated of our lives, of the life we had together, and even though it’s no one’s fault. there it is.

Justice Alito’s Wrong

Posted by – April 30, 2015

A reporter just called me and asked me to respond to this quote:

JUSTICE ALITO: Well, how do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex? Now, can we infer from that that those nations and those cultures all thought that there was some rational, practical purpose for defining marriage in that way or is it your argument that they were all operating independently based solely on irrational stereotypes and prejudice?

Silly, silly man. Of course there have been, both nations and cultures, who have married people of the same sex. Some of those people weren’t of the same gender, but that’s not what he said now, is it? I expect SCOTUS justices to be exacting in their language, and if doesn’t know the difference between sex and gender, he has no business making such blanket statements.

I’ll let you know if the article comes out.

IN Just Made Bigotry Legal

Posted by – March 24, 2015

from Lambda Legal, via Jillian Weiss:

Today, the Indiana House of Representatives, with a vote of 63-31, passed a bill designed to allow private businesses, individuals and organizations to discriminate against anyone in Indiana on religious grounds. Lambda Legal condemns SB 101’s passage, which Governor Pence has vowed to sign into Indiana law.

We are extremely disappointed that Indiana’s House, despite knowing the vast implications for all Hoosiers, voted to facilitate religious discrimination in many areas of life for Indiana’s families, workers and others. Once the governor signs this bill into law, women, racial minorities, religious minorities, people living with HIV and many others will be much more vulnerable to the whims of any individual or business owner who refuses services to particular groups of people based on religious objections to who those people are.

We urge members of the LGBT community to alert Lambda Legal if they experience discrimination explained as due to religious beliefs about gay or transgender people. If you have questions or feel that you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status, please contact our Legal Help Desk http://www.lambdalegal.org/help.

How Marriage Changed

Posted by – March 4, 2015

I did this talk back in November for Lawrence. It’s a basic overview of the changes in marriage, focusing specifically on same sex marriage and how, and why, things seemed to change so quickly.

So this is what I do these days.

#LeelahsLaw Against Reparative Therapy

Posted by – January 2, 2015

Go, sign it.

California was the first state to make it illegal. Let’s get the rest to do as well.

Leslie Feinberg, Hero, Has Died

Posted by – November 17, 2014

It doesn’t matter if you know it’s coming – the death of someone you admire is never, ever expected.

I can’t begin to say how much I admired Feinberg. One of the best things to have happen to me, like ever, was having Feinberg tell me they liked my work. That’s the kind of thing that still sustains me, to this day.

Oh, to all of you trans elders and butches and femmes who loved Leslie as a friend or lover, my heart goes to you, and especially to Minnie Bruce Pratt.

I’m pretty sure ze didn’t believe in heaven, but everything ze ever did here on earth made this place a little more in its image.

What a remarkable, heartfelt, compassionate, dedicated, consistent life of activism, writing, and speaking.

We will miss you more than anyone can say or anyone even realizes.

Lunch @ Lawrence

Posted by – November 17, 2014

I am not sure exactly how this happened, but on Friday I’ll be speaking at a lunch at Lawrence as part of a series called Lunch at Lawrence, and I’ll be talking about same sex marriage – focusing primarily on how quickly it all happened, explaining what key rulings and cultural shifts were in place to allow it to happen, and generally demonstrating what kind of thing we do in Gender Studies in general.

Here’s the blurb:

“How Marriage Changed: Gay Rights and Same Sex Marriage”
In the summer of 2014, Wisconsin’s Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional, such as with many other DOMAs across the U.S. The ruling reflects a change in both the culture and definition of marriage. Helen Boyd Kramer will explore how and why the gay rights movement “chose” marriage as a key civil right and how the changes in marriage set the stage for this significant shift.

You do have to register for the event.

HB in Pittsburgh

Posted by – October 26, 2014

Here’s a live podcast/radio show I did with Lynn Cullen while in Pittsburgh on Friday. She had just read the NYT article on trans people in women’s colleges, so I was explaining some of the language, for starters. But I found her description at YouTube cool, too:

Helen Boyd, author of “My Husband Betty” and gender studies lecturer extraordinaire for Lawrence University joins Lynn to discuss gender and trans issues. What began as a search for community has lend her to a path as a trans ally. Hopefully the world will follow her example.

Mind you, I hadn’t actually read the article before this, so I was only going on the snippets she read me.

Death of a Child

Posted by – September 3, 2014

Don’t look away and don’t stop reading.

Another child this year has been abused and ultimately killed for being himself. His parents thought he was gay. He did play with dolls. So his parents beat him to death and tortured him for a long while before that.

Before 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was allegedly beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend, they doused him with pepper spray, forced him to eat his own vomit and locked him in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to court records made public Monday. . .  Fernandez and Aguirre deliberately tortured the boy to death, hiding their tracks with forged doctor’s notes and lies to authorities, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonathan Hatami told the grand jury. “For eight straight months, he was abused, beaten and tortured more severely than many prisoners of war,” Hatami said. The abuse worsened in the months leading up to Gabriel’s death, according to testimony from two of his siblings, both of whom are minors. They said Gabriel was forced to eat cat feces, rotten spinach and his own vomit. He slept in a locked cabinet and wasn’t let out to go to the bathroom. Fernandez and Aguirre called Gabriel gay, punished him when he played with dolls and forced him to wear girls’ clothes to school, the siblings said.

Doused him with pepper spray.

Forced him to eat his own vomit.

These aren’t sane people. But the horrifying thing to me is that since I have been paying attention, which is now more than a decade, there has been at least one story like this a year, if not more than one. That is, Gabriel’s story is not an anomaly. It’s a fact — a fact of a homophobic, transphobic culture. In the ellipses above, here’s the text that originally appeared:

Sworn grand jury testimony provided a graphic examination of the abuse that the Antelope Valley boy allegedly suffered before his death in May of 2013. The incident prompted calls for sweeping reforms to the troubled Los Angeles County foster-care system because child welfare workers failed to remove the boy. Officials have taken steps to fire two social workers and two supervisors, while others involved in the case received letters of warning or reprimand.

And yes, people should be fired for failing to save this child, and the parents should be punished for first-degree murder — no one can argue that their intentions weren’t obvious, planned, and carried through — but in the meantime, how do we save a culture that is this depraved, this homophobic, this transphobic?

We saw a young man get beaten on video by his family last week – and while that story has had a good turn, and I’m happy to see it – the violence and hatred expressed by his family is exactly the same hatred that killed this child.

So what’s to be done? I actually worried about putting up the video link last week, knowing how many of my friends and readers have had to face these kinds of responses from parents and friends and family. For some it never becomes physically violence, but the outright rejection and hatred can be just as intense.

I don’t really know what the solution is, but here’s one thing I’m going to say: this is where all the sentimental grandstanding about how much some people SAY they love the children and care for children and want the best for children find themselves coughing up their sleeves. Maybe spend a few minutes less worried about gay marriage and much, much more about sickening child abuse. And every time you hear a joke about someone not being man enough? Remember this child, and  that he maybe wouldn’t be dead if someone who knew his parents had argued with them more about their bullshit.

Judge Richard Posner

Posted by – August 27, 2014

Really, you have to hear some of these exchanges between 7th Circuit Court judge Richard Posner and the two lawyers arguing for keeping the ban on same sex marriages in Indiana and Wisconsin. Really, listen. The guy just won’t let up, and keeps asking for evidence for what or whom same sex marriage harms, and he gets a whole lot of nothing as answers.

Amazing stuff. Tradition isn’t a good enough reason, of course, and that argument was defeated both by Loving v. Virginia and in the Goodridge decision.

And honestly, they don’t seem to have any evidence whatsoever that Posner thinks offsets the harm done to the children of same sex couples.

Mindblowing.

This is, by the way, the same court that shot down WI’s attempt to deny transgender inmates medically prescribed treatments by way of hormones, and the appeal for this case was turned down later by SCOTUS.

LGBT Community Letter on Mike Brown

Posted by – August 18, 2014

When communities experience fear, harassment and brutality simply because of who they are or how they look, we are failing as a nation. In light of the recent events in Missouri, it is clearer than ever that there is something profoundly wrong in our country.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community cannot be silent at this moment, because LGBT people come from all races, creeds, faiths and backgrounds, and because all movements of equality are deeply connected. We are all part of the fabric of this nation and the promise of liberty and justice for all is yet to be fulfilled. The LGBT community stands with the family of Michael Brown, who was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. We stand with the mothers and fathers of young Black men and women who fear for the safety of their children each time they leave their homes. We call on the national and local media to be responsible and steadfast in their coverage of this story and others like it–racialized killings that have marred this nation since the beginning of its history. We call on policy makers on all levels of American government not to shrink from action, and we are deeply grateful to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice for their immediate commitment to a thorough investigation.

At this moment, we are inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies … but the silence of our friends.”

You can see the full list of the signatories at the site.

WI’s Attorney General Needs to Hear from You

Posted by – August 11, 2014

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Van Hollen is against same sex marriage. He was the one who put a halt to the marriages that were taking after a WI court declared WI’s super DOMA unconstitutional, and he has vowed to keep same sex couples from marrying no matter what the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules.

That is, he insists on defending a marriage ban that was already struck down by a WI court, and he can, because he’s Attorney General.

Wisconsin Unites for Marriage has a petition up which will let him know that same sex couples should be able to marry.

WI Unites for Marriage

Posted by – August 7, 2014



Sign the pledge
if you think same sex couples deserve marriage in Wisconsin.

Find out more about this campaign from Our Lives and the Wisconsin Gazette. Keep up via FB or Twitter.

Obama Adds Protections

Posted by – July 18, 2014

President Obama will sign executive orders to grant employees working for federal contractors and federal workers freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

That is, he’s doing what Congress – the House, specifically – has not done by not yet having passed ENDA.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, praised Obama for “showing strong leadership taking this historic action to advance equality in our country.”

But, Baldwin emphasized, Congress still must act. “The fight to pass on to the next generation an America that is more equal not less does not end with the president’s signature,” she said. “We have more work to do. Every American deserves the freedom to work free from discrimination and last year the Senate found common ground, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support. I will continue to call on the House to put progress ahead of politics and give the Senate-passed ENDA an up or down vote because this legislation provides workplace protections that millions more Americans need and deserve today.”

I’m not convinced Congress will act, however, so at least there’s something in place now.

“Just Like That” (Those Oprah Guests)

Posted by – July 15, 2014

Oh, Oprah. She did one of her “Where Are They Now?” editions and it turns out Christine, a woman who had been in a marriage in which both husband and wife would come out as a gay, later met a woman named Jacki.

Jacki and Christine fell in love. Awesome.

Jacki transitioned to male. Also awesome.

But while being interviewed on the show they said that Jacki transitioned in order to marry Christine, and so they “looked into transgender” and found out that “just like that” their marriage would guarantee that Christine would receive Jacki’s pension and social security.

Just like that.

M guess is that the story is being wildly misrepresented: that in fact Jacki already had some gender stuff going on, a latent or not so latent need to transition, and in these days of defeated DOMAs and lifted bans and stays on ceremonies and the murky, uneven status of same sex marriages, they thought transiton + marriage would guarantee them certain rights they could not be as sure of as a same sex couple.

The first red flag for me: Did anyone notice that Christine says Jacki is “the most authentic person I know”? I mean, is that not in the “things cis people say about trans people” list?

Which maybe it will, for them. I hope it provides them the stability and recognition of their relationship everyone deserves.

What bothers me, of course, is the way it’s been framed as the “shocking steps” one couple took. Not shocking. When people try to gain the legal rights afforded others, it’s not shocking at all. It’s entirely normal and should be totally expected. And if transition itself is still shocking to anyone — holy crap, come out from under your rock.

The problem is that many, many trans people have found their marriages declared legally null over the years – and it is far more likely for a marriage like theirs, in which both people’s sex declared at birth is the same. The status of my own marriage — which is the type that is legally upheld by the courts because we had different sexes listed on our birth certificates and got married long before my wife took the legal or medical or even social steps to transition — still makes me nervous precisely because of all of the legal details of the status of some marriages in this country.

What I suspect – and what I don’t know for sure – is that Jacki is one of very many people whose gender was already masculine of center, before meeting Christine, and whose life as a masculine woman often brought a ton of bullshit – barred entry to the ladies’ room, issues with clothes shopping, misgendering, etc. Dealing with that, plus his love for Christine maybe encouraged him to legally change his gender precisely because living with a non normative gender can be such a pain in the ass legally and otherwise. That is, there are plenty of people for whom a legal transition to male is not a huge undertaking because they are already men in so many ways. My wife’s legal transition was definitely influenced by the fact that it was getting more and more difficult for her to deal with TSA and other boneheads who had the right to judge whether or not her gender on her ID sufficiently matched her gender in person. So despite leaving for years as a woman with a male ID, we went through the legal hullabaloo to get hers changed.

The way they are presenting their story reminds me of the woman who claimed being stung by a bee caused her to transition (and who, in all fairness, said the anaphylactic shock set off a hormonal reaction, etc. etc.).

You don’t need a reason, folks. You’re trans and transition because you are.

You’re in love and want to be married because you are and you do.

Let’s please stop making excuses for gaining recognition for our lives, identities, relationships and families.

ENDA Support Pulled by LGBTQ+ Groups

Posted by – July 9, 2014

Yes, you read that right. Numerous LGBTQ+ groups have pulled their support for ENDA due to the pending legislation’s religious exemption. Those exemptions have always been a source of discord, but in s post Hobby Lobby world, it’s easy to see why many are concerned.

Celebrate Appleton’s NDO!

Posted by – July 8, 2014

As I’ve already mentioned here, Appleton passed a gender identity & expression non-discrimination ordinance a few weeks ago, very much thanks to the awesome work of Fair Wisconsin. As I didn’t do any fundraising for June, I would love to congratulate and thank FW for their efforts.

Please, if you would, join me in donating to the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund, which is the board I serve on.

(And yes, it’s tax deductible!)