The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on the Marriage Discrimination Amendment

Courtesy of, I enjoyed this editorial from the The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on the plans to re-introduce SJR-7 – the marriage discrimination amendment – into the short legislative session this year (when, of course, there are much more pressing issues like property tax reform that need to be addressed.)

There is no reason for it to pass this year or any year. Indiana has a law that prohibits same-sex marriage. The language of the proposed amendment is murky at best and would create more legal questions than it would answer.

Meanwhile, other states are quietly going the opposite direction from Indiana. Instead of adopting measures that take rights away from citizens, they are expanding rights. In 2007, New Hampshire joined Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey in offering civil unions. And Washington State and Oregon approved domestic-partnership laws to ensure legal rights for same-sex couples. Maine, California and Hawaii already have such laws.

Colorado, Iowa, Oregon and Vermont all banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, bringing to 12 the number of states with such anti-discrimination laws on the books. Nearly half of the U.S. population now resides in states that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to, an authoritative Web site that reports involving issues with state governments across the nation.

It is foolish for Indiana, still lagging other states in economic recovery, to consider a measure that would alienate any potential investor. It’s even more foolish to consider such a measure when elected officials should be focused on tax restructuring.

Continue ReadingThe Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on the Marriage Discrimination Amendment

Julia Carson’s replacement should be LGBT Friendly

This is really disturbing – one of the names being discussed as a possibility for Julia Carson’s office by the Democrats is Indiana State Representative Carolene Mays, who voted in favor of SJR-7, the amendment to ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. More from Jerame Davis on Bilerico:

The passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson has left a gaping hole in Indiana political life. Julia Carson was a great leader and a strong progressive voice. As we consider her replacement, we should not forget the legacy Julia left and who can best live up to the service she provided and the strong support she gave to the LGBT community.

The winner of the special election to fill her remaining term will likely win the seat in the November general election and go on to serve a full term in Congress. This is not a decision to take lightly. Of the names coming forward as likely replacements, one in particular should infuriate LGBT voters in the 7th District.

Carolene Mays is no Julia Carson. She doesn’t even deserve the honor of being named among the possibilities to replace her and it is a disgrace to think she could live up to the job.

On paper, Carolene Mays looks like the perfect replacement for Julia. Mays is the president and publisher of the Indianapolis Recorder, the paper of record for the African-American community in Indianapolis. She is a 3 term Indiana State Representative. She serves (or has served) on numerous non-profit and foundation boards. She’s won numerous awards for service and she’s even a member of the same church Julia attended.

The area she falls most short of Julia is her support of LGBT Hoosiers. As a State Representative, Carolene Mays voted in favor of SJR-7, the Indiana Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Mays has never disavowed her support of the marriage amendment – an amendment Julia spoke against often – and she has shown no indication she would change her vote if it came before her again.

Carolene Mays is no Julia Carson. Either she’s a shameful political opportunist, who worried more about her political skin than the rights of LGBT citizens or she is a true believer in discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. Either way, she pales in comparison to the Julia I knew.

We could count on Julia to stand up for us; there was no question. She was a regular presence at our Pride festivals. She’s been lionized by the Stonewall Democrats. She was instrumental in helping Indianapolis move forward with an inclusive human rights law. She voted against DOMA. She supported ENDA.

We cannot count on Carolene Mays for any of these things.

Julia was usually right and stood up for her beliefs. She voted against the war and spoke against both the war and George W. Bush long before it was popular to do so. Her funeral was a panoply of leaders and dignitaries who spoke of the fire and determination Julia had for her issues and her constituents.

If Carolene Mays will kowtow to the religious right over something as non-critical as gay marriage, how can we count on her to make the right decisions when it comes to war and peace or life and death?

Continue ReadingJulia Carson’s replacement should be LGBT Friendly

Gender Identity Things

A couple of posts down, I answered a meme wherein I mentioned that I “have some gender identity things I don’t talk about much.” To that post, one of my former co-workers added a comment.

When I initially read it, I deleted the comment. It’s been a very draining weekend, and I thought the post was antagonistic, and I really didn’t want to deal with it. I also didn’t want to let it stand, because I have a site comment policy that I enforce.

But it was also unfair enough, and full of so many unjust assumptions that I changed my mind and decided I’d better address it, for better or worse.

The text of the comment:

Gender Identity issues??? Well no Duh!

You know what they say Steph; those who protest the loudest have the most to hide and you aren’t any different. You treated me with complete disrespect and rejection when I transitioned at work 4 cubes away from you for over a year. At a time when I needed friends and support, you wouldn’t even talk to me, not a kind or supportive word EVER. You could have been a huge help and a valuable ally, but obviously you were hiding behind your own issues and didn’t want to muddy your internal gender puddle.

You know what? I get it, I understand. I wish I would have made the connection then instead of catching it in a brief comment on your blog which I read occasional. (It is one of the better Hoosier-made blogs, so kudos to you.) Had I known, or had I been in a position to get outside my own issues at the time, at least it would have dulled the feeling of rejection I felt.

I doubt you will, but should you want an ear for those gender identity issues, I’m here and more than willing to listen.


I’m not sure where to start, but let me dive in.

1. My own gender identity.

LET ME BE REALLY CLEAR because I’ve been through this discussion before, and had people try to tell me I don’t know my own mind. And anyone who reads my writing knows that’s the one thing that sends me into a blind, frothing rage. I hate it when people try to tell me what I think. I’m the most introspective person you or I know, and no one has examined what I think more carefully than me.

I am not interested in transitioning to a man. I’m happy with my body in it’s current configuration. I’ve been openly gay for over 20 years, and if I were interested in being a man, I would have arrived there 15 years ago.

What I’m not comfortable with is society’s expectations and prescribed role for me – primarily involving (but not exclusive to) clothing that is traditionally considered women’s clothing.

I don’t like dresses on me, and will not wear one. I’m not comfortable in a dress or a skirt and don’t like the way they look on me. I hate the way women’s shoes look and feel on my feet. I don’t like purses. I don’t like the colors, styles or cuts of women’s blouses or tops on me. I like to wear clothes that are comfortable to me. I like to wear men’s clothes. I like to wear men’s shoes.

I also have issues with what society expects from women when it come to occupations, behaviors and attitudes.

When I said my “gender identity things” I definitely DID NOT MEAN that I’m confused or have doubts about who I am or how I feel. The “issue” I have is with society, not with myself.

And I AM NOT ALONE in how I feel. There are LOTS of lesbians in the same shoes I am in – breaking gender lines without being trans. Wanting to change what women can do and be without transitioning into men.

This is wholly and completely different from the feelings and desires of female to male trans men, and the distinction is at the heart of some extremely emotional and very hostile clashes between the lesbian and trans communities.

These hostile clashes are one of the reasons I’m not comfortable bringing up gender identity on this blog – because one of the people I like and admire – my friend Marti Abernathey – is a a trans advocate, and I really like her, and don’t want to have difficult discussions with her. I’d much rather avoid the conversation, because there are things I disagree with in some of her positions, and I value her friendship and don’t want to argue when there’s so much we do agree on.

The other reason is because I don’t want to have this sort of conversation in front of my mother, whom I love very much, but who is, I’m sure, very uncomfortable at this topic right now, because she reads my blog regularly. My mom has come a very long way since I came out 20 years ago, but there are still areas where we have things to talk about, and I’d prefer do that in person with her and not here, because she deserves that respect.

2. My experience with trans people.

I have a friend who transitioned from male to female in college, (circa 1987) amidst great hostility and at a time when people REALLY didn’t know or understand much about gender identity issues. I listened to Rachel’s explanations about how she felt, sympathized with her in the fear she felt at the hostility she went through, tried not to add anything to the burden that got heaped on her, and actively defended her to other people as she gradually changed into the person she really felt she was.

I think she’s an amazing, strong and expressive person. We haven’t always agreed over the years because we have very different personalities, but I like her, and admire her for surviving all the crap she had to deal with in order to find her true self. I still see her a couple of times a year, usually at the holidays, and it seems she’s become a happy and truly joyful woman, and I can’t picture her as anything else.

Over the years I’ve become friends with several other trans people and also have the privilege of working with trans advocates on political issues and efforts.

I have also had numerous conversations with trans people and with lesbians and gay men about gender issues, and especially have had some difficult conversations with a few trans people who seem to believe that all “butch” lesbians have just not discovered their inner man and who are convinced I’m going to transition at some future date that I just haven’t realized. I’m not sure why a few people are so rigid in the other direction than societal norms in their beliefs, but those people exist and can be very vocal.

I don’t know if that’s what you’re saying, Janie, but it sure seems that you comment is making that assumption.

3. My workplace.

Before Janie came along, there were two other people who transitioned from one sex to another in our workplace. As far as I know, they both did so without problems, and were treated with respect and consideration. I wasn’t close friends with either of them, but in the few conversations we had, they said that their transition was supported by active participation from human resources. I never heard them complain about how other people in the company treated them, and I never heard anything against them from anyone else. Now that’s not to say things didn’t happen – just that I never heard about it. But I’ve always been openly gay at work, so it’s possible that people made sure nothing came to my ears.

When it comes to my own experiences with being openly gay at my current workplace, I’ve always felt supported. Hell, I CAME to the company in 1994 specifically because they had sexual orientation and gender identity in the EEOC clauses, and other gay people advertised it as a welcoming place to apply. After being fired from a job for being openly gay and dealing with another that was hostile to gay people, working at a welcoming workplace was a priority for me.

3. My experiences with Janie.

First of all, Janie… I regularly, openly defended your transition and challenged people’s beliefs about gender identity when you came up in conversation. I did this partly because you came up quite a bit, and partly because I was approached by human resources and asked to speak out on your behalf if I heard people making inappropriate or discriminatory remarks, and to let them know if I thought there was a problem.

In my discussions with co-workers, the issue wasn’t specifically your transition – it was other personality issues that got packaged with you transition, and I strove to separate those and point out that if someone had a problem with you, they should address the problem and not take cheap shots at your transition. All of the people I talked to were able to sort that out in their minds. Some took longer to get there.

About you and me personally – Not one kind word? What? I had conversations with you, Janie. I spoke to you, said hi to you, I wasn’t in anyway disrespectful or unkind.

On the other hand – bluntly – I just don’t like you. I’m sorry, but there it is. There were things you did and said that bothered me, and it had nothing to do with you transition, or my feelings about my gender or yours. It was just you. So yes, there were times when I wasn’t warm or welcoming. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to go into specifics on my issues with you here or anywhere else.

I did and do have an obligation to defend your status in a minority group – one that I took up unhesitatingly. But the reality is that we just don’t have to be BFF with everyone just because we’re in minority groups that deal with the same issues. Some people just have different personalities, and you and I are two of those people.

Continue ReadingGender Identity Things

for the BIBLE tell me so

Via Shakespeare’s Sister:
for the BIBLE tell me so is an award-winning documentary that looks into scripture and “in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible.” Check here for a listing of current screening locations.

Continue Readingfor the BIBLE tell me so

Happy 20th Annual National Coming Out Day

Last year, I recounted the story of what I was doing on the original National Coming Out Day 20 years ago… so I’ve already blown that anecdote. You’ll have to go read it; it was good. October 11th, 1987 was a great day for me.

So officially, I quit lying about my sexual orientation over 20 years ago, and I’ve been an “out” proud, happy, gay person for more of my life than I was “in the closet.”

So happy National Coming Out Day! (Hurry up and get out of the closet, all you self-loathing, lying bastards!).

Oh, sorry. Ahem. Welcome, newly openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people!

National Coming Out Day
Continue ReadingHappy 20th Annual National Coming Out Day

America’s Toe-Tapping Menace

From the opinion page of the New York Times, a piece by Laura M. MacDonald:

WHAT is shocking about Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom arrest is not what he may have been doing tapping his shoe in that stall, but that Minnesotans are still paying policemen to tap back. For almost 40 years most police departments have been aware of something that still escapes the general public: men who troll for sex in public places, gay or “not gay,” are, for the most part, upstanding citizens. Arresting them costs a lot and accomplishes little.
In 1970, Laud Humphreys published the groundbreaking dissertation he wrote as a doctoral candidate at Washington University called “Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places.” Because of his unorthodox methods — he did not get his subjects’ consent, he tracked down names and addresses through license plate numbers, he interviewed the men in their homes in disguise and under false pretenses — “Tearoom Trade” is now taught as a primary example of unethical social research.
That said, what results! In minute, choreographic detail, Mr. Humphreys (who died in 1988) illustrated that various signals — the foot tapping, the hand waving and the body positioning — are all parts of a delicate ritual of call and answer, an elaborate series of codes that require the proper response for the initiator to continue. Put simply, a straight man would be left alone after that first tap or cough or look went unanswered.
Why? The initiator does not want to be beaten up or arrested or chased by teenagers, so he engages in safeguards to ensure that any physical advance will be reciprocated. As Mr. Humphreys put it, “because of cautions built into the strategies of these encounters, no man need fear being molested in such facilities.”
Mr. Humphreys’s aim was not just academic: he was trying to illustrate to the public and the police that straight men would not be harassed in these bathrooms. His findings would seem to suggest the implausibility not only of Senator Craig’s denial — that it was all a misunderstanding — but also of the policeman’s assertion that he was a passive participant. If the code was being followed, it is likely that both men would have to have been acting consciously for the signals to continue.
Mr. Humphreys broke down these transactions into phases, which are remarkably similar to the description of Senator Craig’s behavior given by the police. First is the approach: Mr. Craig allegedly peeks into the stall. Then comes positioning: he takes the stall next to the policeman. Signaling: Senator Craig allegedly taps his foot and touches it to the officer’s shoe, which was positioned close to the divider, then slides his hand along the bottom of the stall. There are more phases in Mr. Humphreys’s full lexicon — maneuvering, contracting, foreplay and payoff — but Mr. Craig was arrested after the officer presumed he had “signaled.”
Clearly, whatever Mr. Craig’s intentions, the police entrapped him. If the police officer hadn’t met his stare, answered that tap or done something overt, there would be no news story. On this point, Mr. Humphreys was adamant and explicit: “On the basis of extensive and systematic observation, I doubt the veracity of any person (detective or otherwise) who claims to have been ‘molested’ in such a setting without first having ‘given his consent.’ ”
As for those who feel that a family man and a conservative senator would be unlikely to engage in such acts, Mr. Humphreys’s research says otherwise. As a former Episcopal priest and closeted gay man himself, he was surprised when he interviewed his subjects to learn that most of them were married; their houses were just a little bit nicer than most, their yards better kept. They were well educated, worked longer hours, tended to be active in the church and the community but, unexpectedly, were usually politically and socially conservative, and quite vocal about it.
In other words, not only did these men have nice families, they had nice families who seemed to believe what the fathers loudly preached about the sanctity of marriage. Mr. Humphreys called this paradox “the breastplate of righteousness.” The more a man had to lose by having a secret life, the more he acquired the trappings of respectability: “His armor has a particularly shiny quality, a refulgence, which tends to blind the audience to certain of his practices. To others in his everyday world, he is not only normal but righteous — an exemplar of good behavior and right thinking.”
Mr. Humphreys even anticipated the vehement denials of men who are outed: “The secret offender may well believe he is more righteous than the next man, hence his shock and outrage, his disbelieving indignation, when he is discovered and discredited.”
This last sentence brings to mind the hollow refutations of figures at the center of many recent public sex scandals, heterosexual and homosexual, notably Representative Mark Foley, the Rev. Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter and now Senator Craig. The difference is that Larry Craig was arrested.
Public sex is certainly a public nuisance, but criminalizing consensual acts does not help. “The only harmful effects of these encounters, either direct or indirect, result from police activity,” Mr. Humphreys wrote. “Blackmail, payoffs, the destruction of reputations and families, all result from police intervention in the tearoom scene.” What community can afford to lose good citizens?
And for our part, let’s stop being so surprised when we discover that our public figures have their own complex sex lives, and start being more suspicious when they self-righteously denounce the sex lives of others.

Continue ReadingAmerica’s Toe-Tapping Menace

On the “down low”

Over at the Pandagon blog, Pam Spaulding has a really interesting blog post commenting on a recent New Yorker article on married men who cheat on their wives with other men.
I especially liked the response of one of her readers to the article and to her thoughts.

This article underscores several facts: First, that masquerading as heterosexual, not marrying a same-gender partner, is what demeans traditional marriage. Second, that masquerading as heterosexual demeans Gay identity and distorts society’s perception of it. Third, that masquerading as heterosexual is an ultimately selfish act that can conceal contempt and hostility toward heterosexual spouses. Fourth, that masquerading as heterosexual reinforces heterosexism as a societal norm. Fifth, that Gay activists are crazy if they see someone’s “right” to be closeted as compatible with equality goals. The closet symbolizes deception, shame and fear, and none of those words are synonymous with pride.

Continue ReadingOn the “down low”

OMFG – I’m on Joe.My.God.

This tabloid magazine photo I snapped on a knee-jerk reaction and then blogged about has been making the rounds of the internets; I swore I wasn’t going to do a “oooh, look how popular I am! I’m famous!” post, because that’s so lame. Plus, I’ve had other things to worry about.

But today it’s on Joe.My.God., which is really all “oooh, look how popular I am! I’m famous!”

I'm on

Continue ReadingOMFG – I’m on Joe.My.God.

Facebook kills Arab LBTG group to appease mideast govs

Boing Boing has the story.
UPDATE: Turns out this may have been a hoax – the administrator of the Arab LBGT group was contacted by someone representing themselves as being from Facebook in order to close the group. Facebook actually supports the existence of the group on their site.

Continue ReadingFacebook kills Arab LBTG group to appease mideast govs