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Friday, May 24, 2013

OSU students discuss ethics of blackface, drag and definition of trans-asterisk

OSU student paper headlines ethic of drag and definition of drag Barometer May 23-24, 2013 p. 3

PHOTO: Oregon State University student newspaper discusses the ethics of drag and the definition of trans* in opinion pieces by Thomas McElhinny, "The ethics behind perpetuating stereotypes for profit," posted May 24, 2013, p. 3 and the idea that sexual orientation and gender identity are not independent or discrete binary functions discussed in opinion column by Irene Drage, "Talking Rans*: The Meaning behind the asterisk," posted Thursday, May 23, 2013, p. 3. For other background, see Irene Drage, "OSU Spring Drag Show," posted May 9, 2013 and Erin Rook, "Race drag: Debate continues over booking of blackface performer," April/May 2013 posted May 16, 2013 (a long update about the drag artist Shirley Q. Liquor newspaper story by Erin Hook, "Booking of blackface drag performer sparks concerns about racism," PQ Monthly February-March 2013, p. 6). Three months ago, North Portland leather bar The Eagle publicized an upcoming performance by blackface drag queen Shirley Q. Liquor, an "ignunt" Southern Black mother on welfare portrayed by Chuck Knipp. Accusations of racism quickly followed.

As part of my ethnographic research on humans with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, I have learned how throughout human history the popularly used cultural definitions for LGBT people has drifted over time due to the natural tension between what sexual minorities want to ne called versus the derogatory terms used by a bully or other uneducated person. This has led to accusations by the majority that they are being forced to use "politically correct" terminology that they resent. In fact, academics are often guilty of being overly pedagogic on such matters. (Note: see the pedagogical goal of OSU administrators in list below, which amusingly I stumbled on after writing this paragraph, which of course, cemented my opinion!)

For example, during the 20th Century women's liberation and gay liberation movement a big sensitivity was over the misogynistic norm of society that assumed all gay men were "sissies or effeminate queens" and therefore similar to women who society had cast in the second-class role of being stay-at-home mothers too dumb to work in a "man's world." This is why both gay women (who used that term at the time) and gay men initially had a common goal, which was to fight discrimination against females. However, as women raised their consciousness and suffered the misogyny that even gay men were guilty of exhibiting, the reason for this coalition drifted and many women split from the gay liberation movement, insisting on being called lesbians, a historically older and more traditional identity. During the 1980s AIDS tragedy that decimated many gay male leaders, gay women successfully took the dominant role in LGBT activism for the next decade and led LGBT issues into the mainstream of society.

As a reaction to societal and misogynistic stereotypes, the early male gay rights advocates worked hard to distance themselves from what they had sadly internalized as the "offensive stereotype of effeminacy," which unfortunately was just as offensive to women, but their work did help to open minds about gay people. Unfortunately, by rejecting effeminacy they also hurt the many gay men who are actually effeminate. It has taken decades for many in society to learn that humans' sexual orientation and gender identity are not binary functions, but are both multivariate discrete and continuous functions with multiple axes (e.g. asexual, bisexual, gay, straight on one axis and the range of feminine to masculine on the other axis). I am not sure that most so-called "sissy" gay men, who are effeminate, are proud of it today judging from counting the personal ads where everyone claims to be straight-acting and masculine, but they are looking for a good top male. (The top vs. bottom dynamic has been discussed for decades and it would make a good topic for a future post.)

In my opinion, drag and blackface are culturally insensitive to some people, but I agree it is wrong to blindly react by censoring artistic performances that use either one, even if used for a profit. I also agree that being culturally insensitive just to bully or hurt others is ethically wrong, but in my experience there is no dogmatic rule that can be used in all situations to decide where the line should be drawn, especially as cultural norms drift and change over time. (see background stories by Irene Drage, "OSU Spring Drag Show," posted May 9, 2013 and Erin Rook, "Race drag: Debate continues over booking of blackface performer," April/May 2013 posted May 16, 2013)

While I praise the student writers Thomas McElhinny and Irene Drage for making many of these points, I would caution both of them to remain open-minded about how their current thinking reflects contemporary cultural norms and that these cultural norms will likely be different in the future. They will learn with experience that the difference between intelligent thinkers and really great minds is that great minds are able to anticipate and lead these norms and cultural changes rather than just understand and report them to other people.

Below is the student newspaper opinion columnist's discussion of my question on the ethics of exploiting stereotypes (I noticed the student copy editor failed to correct a major typo of mine, but I think it is still understandable):

Dear Ask an Ethicist,
Every year, OSU LGBT student organizers of the Pride Week drag show, which they successfully use to raise money from both gay and straight students, believe it is necessary to educate people on the history of drag apparently to indirectly answer the question, "Is it ethical to make money by exploiting culturally insensitive stereotypes?"

For example, "Amos 'n' Andy" is a 1950s sitcom performed by white actors in black makeup, or "blackface." Similar to drag queen artists, blackface has a rich history and is also considered an art form by many. However, companies essentially stopped selling "Amos 'n' Andy" after the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr., raised sensitivities to racial stereotypes.

Would blackface performances be OK if done by black actors? Similarly, are drag performances OK only if they are done by gay men or women?

-Thomas Kraemer
OSU Class of 1977

Thank you for your question, Thomas Kraemer. I think that you've raised an interesting set of issues here.

Before getting into your question, I would like to point out that the OSU drag show, which occurred on May 10, was a free event and one of the highlights of Pride Week. Of course, exposure, celebration and some education was carried on in the back of the drag show. Drag, or the purposeful wearing of clothing typically worn by the opposite gender, is not like blackface. Whereas performing in drag is practiced by folks of all genders and sexual orientations, black face is historically worn by white men as a privileged group acting out a set of negative stereotypes.

Drag is a subversive performance where "playing with gender" is often meant to highlight perceived differences and expectations of folks who identify as a certain gender.

Blackface perpetuates negative stereotypes of a historically and institutionally oppressed group.

Drag teases apart socially constructed gender roles. Blackface reinforces harmful racial attitudes, which result in material inequalities unbecoming of a civilized nation.

Blackface characters like Thomas D. Rice's Jim Crow, which the set of anti-racist laws following reconstruction were named after, was harmful not simply because it was played by a white man. The very perpetuation of the idea that black folks are bumbling, clumsy fools is harmful in itself.

While I could imagine an ironic portrayal of blackface, where the joke is on either people who believe in the stereotypes or that it points out how ridiculous and ignorant blackface players are, might work. The humor would be a tenuous line for anyone to try and walk, no matter their skin color.

As to your question, "Is it ethical to make money by exploiting culturally insensitive stereotypes?" In this case, through performance of one kind or another, the answer is most likely no.

Surely, one could set up a condition where there was some enormous amount of money going to an ideally good cause, however, the heart of the matter is that this good is undercut by reinforcing negative stereotypes, which dehumanize members of our community.

Thomas McElhinny is a master's student of applied ethics. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. McElhinny's "Ask an ethicist" column will run weekly, every Friday. He can be reached and questions can be submitted at

(Quoted from Thomas McElhinny, "The ethics behind perpetuating stereotypes for profit," posted may 24, 2013, p. 3)

Some interesting loosely related links:

Oregon State University Cultural Resource Centers :

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oregon Obama-Care health insurance rates are designed-by-committee Dilbert cartoon

PHOTO: See Google Search for dilbert design by committee for an endless supply of images on the theme that describes the way Obama-Care was designed.

Something any designer learns early on, whether they are an artist, writer, architect or engineer, is that good design always requires a lead designer with a vision and the knowledge needed to coordinate and manage any help required to implement the design. As a result, skilled designers never want to be part of any "design committee" because they know it will lead to compromises that don't make sense and they will be forced to substitute the best design features for the lowest common denominator that might not satisfy anybody. (Of course bad designers often use this idea as an excuse to ignore all client or user input, which is a topic for a different post.) It is clear that Obama-care has been designed by a committee of Congress and private companies. Below is the letter to the editor I wrote describing the local situation now that I seen the proposed rates and process:

On May 9 the Obamacare health insurance premium costs, proposed for Benton County residents in 2014, became available for review from the State of Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Insurance Division's home page and their Web page that say rate decisions will be made by July for individuals, who are now required by law to buy private health insurance that will be available on the Web site.

For the first time, rates between plans can be compared because the benefit levels (e.g. Bronze, Gold, Silver, etc.) are standardized.

For example, proposed "Bronze Plans" in Benton County will cost non-insured early retirees approximately 400 to 800 dollars per month in premiums to cover 60 percent of their expected total medical costs of more than $600 dollars per month.

Fiscally responsible early retirees are now barred by law from buying high deductible catastrophic health insurance for less than $100 per month, which had insured them against losing their home and IRA savings.

I am trying to stay open-minded, but the literally designed-by-committee federal Affordable Care Act only makes sense as a Dilbert cartoon.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Obamacare's local impact 'only makes sense as a Dilbert cartoon'," Gazette-Times, posted May 22, 2013)

I first found out that Oregon had posted the proposed Obama-Care health insurance rates thanks to a post by John Aravosis, "Oregon Insurers vying to lower premiums because of Obamacare," posted May 10, 2013. Although he posted only a link to the rate sheet for Portland, I was able to quickly find the information for Benton County, which was included in the Eugene region chart. (See Eugene Area Proposed Rate Examples Benton, Lane, and Linn counties posted May 9, 2013 (PDF) and Portland sample Obama Care Health Insurance rates (PDF) that were linked to by a newspaper article by Nick Budnick, The Oregonian, "Two Oregon insurers rethink 2014 premiums as state posts first-ever rate comparison," posted May 09, 2013 )

Below I've listed some key links for Oregon Obama-Care health insurance plans:

The idea that wellness programs encouraged by Obama-Care will save money is questioned in the article by John Tozzi, "The Doctor Will See You Now," Business Week, May 20-26, 2013, p. 27-28.

Ironically, The state of Oregon is committed to providing Web Accessibility (according to this link on their pages), but their new Cover Oregon site is very hard to read for low vision people like me because it has colored text on a colored background, which violates the State's own design guideline for accessibility. On a loosely related note, I now understand how health care dollars are being spent on the helicopter noise flying over my house on its final approach and landing at the hospital (See article by , "REACH medical helicopter service extends capabilities," posted May 6, 2013).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Arthur Leonard on Oregon Marriage Ban and Minnesota passes gay marriage

May 18, 1970 Michael McConnell and Jack Baker married by Hennepin County Minnesota Justice of the Peace

PHOTO: May 18, 1970 Michael McConnell and Jack Baker were married by Hennepin County Minnesota Justice of the Peace. (See Ken Bronson, A Quest for Full Equality (2004), available online from Quatrefoil Library -- this was originally on a now dead Web site by Ken Bronson, "A Quest for Full Equality," self-published May 18, 2004, p. 6-7, 48 (PDF). (See my previous posts Gay marriage pioneer Jack Baker starts blog (confirmed) (4/4/12) and Life Magazine gay marriage 1971 (11/20/08))

Reverend Troy Perry of the Metropolitan Community Church conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony. Life Magazine Dec. 31, 1971, p. 70. PHOTO: Reverend Troy Perry of the Metropolitan Community Church conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony in 1971. Google photo collection from article "Homosexuals in revolt: The year that one liberation movement turned militant," Life Magazine, Dec. 31, 1971, p. 70. (See my previous posts Gay marriage pioneer Jack Baker starts blog (confirmed) (4/4/12), Life Magazine gay marriage 1971 (11/20/08))

The law school Professor Arthur Leonard is a nationally recognized expert on gay law. Here are some interesting things he recently wrote about Oregon's gay marriage ban and DOMA law:

In an April 24 decision, Judge Harry Pregerson, ruling on a claim brought by attorney Alison Clark, found that Oregon's Measure 36, the 2004 ballot initiative that bans recognition of same-sex marriages in that state, violates the 14th Amendment, and he made a similar finding regarding the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act's bar on federal recognition of such unions.

The federal government, Pregerson ruled, must recognize Clark's same-sex marriage, even though she and her spouse live in a state where that marriage might not be recognized.

Ninth Circuit judge's opinion found federal recognition must apply to married couples nationwide

A few weeks after Clark's marriage to Anna Campbell in British Columbia last June, she applied for spousal benefits. The Administrative Office of the Federal Courts rejected the application, citing DOMA, and also finding that the Clark-Campbell marriage is not valid in their home state of Oregon.

Clark filed a grievance, arguing that the federal benefit plan lists sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination and that her the Fifth Amendment equal protection and due process rights were also violated. Clark's complaint ended up before a committee Pregerson chairs, and his opinion is consistent with rulings in two prior Ninth Circuit cases presenting similar facts - though regarding 2008 California marriages and not ones from Canada.

"The only reason Clark was unable to make her spouse a beneficiary under the FEHB program was that, as a homosexual, she had a same-sex spouse," Pregerson wrote, in finding that the denial of benefits was sexual orientation discrimination at odds with the plan's provisions.

The judge next considered whether Oregon could refuse to recognize the marriage. Before Measure 36 was passed, he observed, "Oregon law did not expressly limit marriage as between a man and a woman," though state courts construed that limitation as existing. Measure 36 made the limitation explicit, and though Pregerson felt the amendment should be subjected to the most rigorous form of judicial scrutiny, he concluded that it would not even stand up to the most deferential form of review.

He noted that the 1996 Supreme Court ruling that struck down Colorado's Amendment 2, which barred jurisdictions there from enacting gay rights protections, found that "a classification treating homosexual individuals differently from heterosexual individuals cannot rationally be justified by the government's animus towards homosexuality... Here, Oregon does not state any reason for preventing same-sex couples from marrying." None of the purported state interests were "rationally related to prohibiting same-sex marriages," Pregerson found.

The judge made short work of arguments based on the need to encourage "responsible procreation" by heterosexuals, the superiority of opposite-sex couples in creating "stable and enduring families for raising children," and the wisdom of "proceeding with caution in changing a basic social institution."

Pregerson concluded, "I can see no objective that is rationally related to banning same-sex marriages, other than the objective of denigrating homosexual relationships" - something not permitted under the high court's 1996 Colorado ruling. The implication, though not explicitly stated by the judge, is that Clark and Campbell's marriage would be entitled to recognition in Oregon as a matter of equal protection.

Analyzing Clark's alternative due process claim, Pregerson applied strict judicial scrutiny to the Oregon Amendment since Supreme Court precedents hold that the right to marry is fundamental. Here again, though, he concluded that Measure 36 flunks even the more lenient rational basis test.

Based on his conclusion that Clark and Campbell have a valid marriage, Pregerson then found that the federal government cannot constitutionally deny Clark's application for spousal benefits.

None of the "three rationales" for DOMA's section 3 - the provision denying federal recognition - identified by Pregerson from the law's House legislative history provided sufficient justification, in his view. For example, regarding the argument that DOMA preserves scarce government resources, the judge noted that the Congressional Budget Office concluded the 1996 law does not save the federal government money. Government cost savings from recognizing same-sex families, the CBO found, outweigh possible tax revenue losses.

Even if there were a fiscal benefit from DOMA, he wrote, "there is no rational basis for distinguishing between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples if the government's objective is to cut costs." He concludes that Section 3 is unconstitutional under both the equal protection and due process requirements of the Fifth Amendment.

Despite the Obama administration's conclusion in early 2011 that Section 3 is unconstitutional, it will continue to enforce DOMA until it is repealed or definitively overturned by the courts. Pregerson is not inclined to wait for such a clear-cut resolution. Instead, he ordered the government to submit Clark's benefits application to "the appropriate health insurance carrier." In addition, he would require the Administrative Office of the Federal Courts to process future applications "without regard to (1) the sex of a listed spouse and (2) whether a validly executed same-sex marriage is recognized by a state."

If the federal Office of Personnel Management "blocks this relief," Pregerson would alternatively order monetary relief for Clark - a solution that would prove more costly to the government.

Though Pregerson's ruling is only binding on the parties to this case, it tackles a question left hanging during the Supreme oral argument in New Yorker Edie Windsor's challenge to DOMA - whether the US Constitution would require the federal government to recognize legally-contracted marriages, regardless of where the married couple resides. This is a significant question because state marriage laws generally do not have residency requirements so many same-sex couples who live in states that do not authorize or recognize same-sex marriages have gone to other states - or Canada and elsewhere - to get married. Windsor's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, when asked about such a situation, responded her client was only asking for federal recognition in states that recognize the marriages. It is difficult, however, to see how a federal constitutional right could be "cabined" in this way, and it would be unfortunate if the Supreme Court were to strike down DOMA's Section 3 without addressing this question of broader application.

(Quoted from Arthur S. Leonard, "Fed Employee Grievance Ruling Dings DOMA, Oregon Marriage Ban," posted May 9, 2013)

Below are listed some more related links including some on the passage of gay marriage in the U.S. State of Minnesota that has special meaning for me because Minnesota was where Jack Baker was legally married in 1970 when the State law didn't specify gender, something which did not get specified until after he took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost in 1972. I was at the University of Minnesota when Professor Allan Spear was still closeted, before he came out as gay and became a political leader. It is sad that Rachel Maddow on MSNBC has spent much air time talking about Allan Spear, but she has neglected mentioning much of anything about the Baker V. Nelson U.S. Supreme Court case that inspired the gay marriage movement.

I have previously written about my early contact with the gay activists Jack Baker and Allan Spear. Jack Baker's theatrical and uncompromising gay rights demands for gay marriage were strongly opposed by Allan Spear and Steve Endean who worked together in the Minnesota legislature to pass gay rights laws. (See previous posts Steve Endean vs. Jack Baker political methods (8/6/09), Life Magazine gay marriage 1971 (11/20/08) and Allan Spear, Minnesota Senator dies (10/17/08))

Allan Spear Minnesota Senator and gay activist circa 1996 PHOTO: Allan H. Spear Minnesota Senator and gay activist shown circa 1996. See previous posts Steve Endean vs. Jack Baker political methods (8/6/09) and Allan Spear, Minnesota Senator dies (10/17/08)

My strongest memory of Allan was when I became the student editor of a university engineering magazine that included him on the faculty board of directors. I was unprepared for Allan's tirade after I innocently proposed changing the ratio of advertising to editorial matter. Despite being a Minnesota academic, he yelled at me like the quintessential New York Jewish businessman who was bartering for more money. It certainly prepared me for the real business world.

See my previous posts:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

OSU alum on CBS 'Face the Nation,' Jason Collins comes out, and Boy Scouts in local paper

Jason Collins comes out on May, 2013 cover of Sports Illustrated

PHOTO: professional NBA player comes out on May, 2013 cover of Sports Illustrated: Jason Collins, telling Sports Illustrated, "I'm a 34-year-old center. I'm black. And I'm gay." The story was saturation covered by the media, including a phone call from the President of the United States and a mention of it in his press conference in the Oval Office.

George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) football team as pictured in 'The 1912 Orange' yearbook, p. 159.

PHOTO: (above) George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 football team at Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) as pictured in "The 1912 Orange" yearbook, p. 159. See previous posts OSU gay football player 1908 (6/19/08) and Oregonian on 1912 gay panic arrests (4/25/10)

Esera Tuaolo on cover of The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover headline reads 'Gay in the NFL, A football star for nine years, former Vikings lineman Esera Tuaolo reveals the truth about homophobia in the locker room and the dangers of the pro sports closet. PLUS: His boyfriend tells his side of their romance' Esera Tuaolo is probably the most famous openly gay graduate of Oregon State University. Esera Tuaolo came out on the cover of The Advocate. ("Tackling football's closet," By Bruce C. Steele, The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover story, pp. 3, 30-39) He continues to be in the news today. See previous post OSU Esera Tuaolo gay football star (8/12/06)

The coming out story of professional basketball player Jason Collins has created much buzz. Here is my letter to the editor about the local Oregon State University angle to the story:

I never thought I would live to see every major news outlet cover America's first black President, Barack Obama, telephoning the first active professional NBA player to come out as gay, Jason Collins.

Less than a decade ago, former Oregon State University Beaver football player Esera Tuaolo told students he had felt it was too unsafe for him to come out until after retiring from his professional NFL football career.

A century ago, sensationalistic headlines in Portland newspapers reported a vice scandal involving the arrest of men for homosexual behavior that were associated with an OSU Beaver football player in the 1910 and 1912 seasons.

I now hope to see marriage equality in Oregon.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Recent news has sparked hope of marriage equality in Oregon," posted May 7, 3013)

I also watched the Sunday morning political affairs show Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer on (See "Face the Nation transcripts May 5, 2013: Benghazi and gay athletes - Issa, Rogers, Ruppersberger," accessed May 5, 2013 1:32PM) This show did a bang up job discussing gay Boy Scouts policy changes, Jason Collins coming out and the panel included two former NFL players including the OSU alum Esera Tuaolo.

At the same time I was watching Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer on CBS TV, I was also reading about local Boy Scouts policy on gays, which is very liberal as would be expected in a college town:

Bennett Hall, "A new course for Scouts?" Gazette-Times, Sunday, May 5, 2013, p. A1, A3

I had already sent my above letter to the editor before reading this story, but here is the letter I would have sent after reading it:

I painfully recall being excluded by a Boy Scouts troop due my family's religion and so it was heartening to read Bennett Hall's excellent Sunday, May 5, story, "A new course for Scouts?" The quotes from Nick Fowler, the Benton District chairman, diplomatically acknowledged the different opinions locally versus nationally.

Coincidentally, while I was reading it Bob Schieffer on "CBS Face the Nation" was also discussing the Scouts' acceptance of gay youths with his guests, including former Oregon State University alum Esera Tuaolo, and the related topic of NBA basketball player Jason Collins coming out as gay. Tuaolo said he did not come out during his career because he didn't feel safe a decade ago.

Schieffer's guests were uncomfortable discussing the race issues raised by Obama, as America's first black President, when he supported the Scouts' decision and concurrently called Jason Collins. I agree with Schieffer's opinion that younger people seem less concerned about race and sexual orientation.

These seemingly dramatic changes in public opinion have given me hope that I will also live to see marriage equality in Oregon.

See other links:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Arthur Leonard New York Law School blog has new address

Baker et al. v. Nelson, United States Reports, Volume 409, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, October Term, 1972, Oct. 10, 1972 'dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.'

PHOTO: the first court case on same-sex marriage was initiated by University of Minnesota law student Jack Baker in 1970: Baker et al. v. Nelson, Oct. 10, 1972, "United States Reports, Volume 409, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, October Term, 1972," U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974, p. 810. The Appeal was "dismissed for want of a substantial federal question." Notice how this same phrase was used to dismiss scads of other cases. The court seemed to be using it as shorthand to say a case was a matter of state law and not federal law. For more analysis on this case see the article by Arthur S. Leonard, "Obama Administration Versus Candidate Obama," Gay City News, Jun. 18, 2009. Also see previous posts Baker v. Nelson 1972 Supreme Court order on gay marriage (7/22/09), and Arthur S. Leonard on Baker v Nelson gay marriage case (7/28/09).

To learn more about the legal cases of gay and lesbian law I have been a regular reader of the blog by the New York Law School Professor Arthur S. Leonard, until it seemed to disappear recently, and then just when I was wondering where it had gone, he posted the following on his old blog: ALeonard, "This blog is no longer live - see my new blog address below," posted Apr. 27, 2013:

Arthur S. Leonard Blog at - RSS feed

The new blog says, "Arthur S. Leonard, a professor at New York Law School since 1982, edits the monthly newsletter Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, and is co-author of Sexuality Law (Carolina Academic Press) and AIDS Law in a Nutshell (West Publishing Co.). He writes on legal issues for Gay City News (New York), and serves as a trustee of the Jewish Board of Family & Children's Services of New York."

I have also followed his articles published as Arthur Leonard Website - RSS feed.

There is always something going in the courts relative to gay, lesbian and transgender law, but I am especially looking forward to reading Art Leonard's analysis on the most important two same-sex marriage test cases that are commonly referred to as the California Prop 8 decision and the DOMA or Defense of Marriage case. The CA Prop 8 case tests the ability of a state to decide marriage law on its own and the DOMA case looks at the right for all legal marriages to be recognized nationwide, even if some states don't allow the marriage to be performed in their state. This concept came up years ago when some states outlawed interracial marriage and would refuse to recognize such marriages legally performed in state where it was legal. It has always been true that individual states have had the right to define the specific requirements to get married in the state. For example, the age one can marry legally varies from state to state. Note that Leonard's blog also includes his posts his other passions, such as music.