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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gay Oregon Judge acknowledges validity of 1972 "Baker" gay marriage case by ruling it obsolete

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. At the time, gay marriage was not forbidden by Minnesota law and no court has ever ordered their legally performed marriage be revoked -- they are still legally and happily married today. (See previous posts Life Magazine gay marriage 1971 (11/20/08) and Gay marriage pioneer Jack Baker starts blog (confirmed) (4/4/12))

Arthur S. Leonard, a professor at New York Law School since 1982 and author of a book on gay law, wrote about Oregon's latest gay marriage court battle in his blog post by Art Leonard, "National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Asks Supreme Court to Block Oregon Marriages," posted May 28, 2014.

Leonard's blog post, similar to his book on gay law, summarizes the history and meaning of a one-sentence boilerplate decision, which was commonly used by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972, for the "Baker" gay marriage case that in-effect said gay marriages are defined by state laws and not Federal law.

I find it ironic that an anti-gay marriage group is now arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court's 1972 "Baker" decision is a binding precedent that state laws define marriage, while a pro-gay marriage Federal Judge in Oregon tacitly acknowledged their point by ruling the "Baker" decision has been rendered obsolete by later court rulings!

Many early gay activists openly criticized law student Jack Baker for bringing his gay marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court because they feared it would set a negative precedent, which would be hard to overcome when fighting for the equal protection of gay people in the workplace against discrimination.

In the early days of gay liberation after the Stonewall riots in 1969, most gay activists wanted to fight for sexual freedom and they dismissed marriage as being an obsolete and sexist institution created by men to oppress women. They joined forces with many heterosexuals who were also fighting for sexual liberation and freedom from the restrictive blue laws that made all premarital sex illegal.

It is especially sad that the founder of the Human rights Campaign, Steven Endean, who was a gay activist at the same time as Jack Baker in Minnesota during the 1970's, became a loud critic of the political strategy of using gay marriage to make a point. Instead, Endean wanted to politically fight for gay liberation and sexual freedom by working to overturn the old blue laws against gay sex that were regularly used to justify discrimination against homosexuals.

Tragically, Endean died of AIDS shortly after the previously unknown AIDS virus surfaced in the 1980's. On a happier note, Jack Baker and his husband Michael McConnell are still happily married and legally so because no court has ever ordered that their legally performed marriage be revoked (Minnesota law did not specify gender at the time their marriage was legally performed).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Associated Press Stylebook helped change language for gay and black people

The AP Stylebook, which defines various editorial guidelines for news stories written for the Associated Press, are religiously followed by some newspapers, but largely ignored by many others, according to a combined Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald Sunday newspaper commentary by Steve Lundeberg, Democrat-Herald, "Rebellion under way," Sunday Gazette-Times, printed May 18, 2014, p. A6. Below is my letter to the editor in reply:

Albany Democrat-Herald editorial page editor Steve Lundeberg last Sunday humorously questioned his onetime desire to follow the editorial conventions of the AP Stylebook by asking, "who really cares?"

Historically, both racists and social justice scholars have either blamed or credited the Associated Press Stylebook for fueling the transition of newspaper editors from commonly using the terms "colored people" or "Negroes" to "black people."

Similarly, in 2000, the AP Stylebook amended its online entry for "gay" to specifically discourage references to a "gay lifestyle" because during the AIDS crisis anti-gay politicians used it.

Similar to Lundeberg, when I questioned my college journalism professor about the illogic of his editorial rules, he advised me to become an engineer!

I took his advice and only after decades of watching editors move from editorial conventions, such as insisting that the acronym for alternating current be abbreviated with lowercase letters separated by periods, to the modern practice of just "AC" (all capital letters with no spaces or periods), did I realize that English rules and stylebooks only document the current fashion of an "in crowd" of editors.

Lundeberg has clearly outgrown his adolescent need to be part of the in crowd.

Thomas Kraemer,
(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Columnist opts out of the 'in crowd,'" Albany Democrat-Herald Gazette-Times Sunday edition, May 25, 3014, p. A9)

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The same editor of the Albany newspaper also recently wrote a strangely personal piece recounting his adolescent experience with jockstraps: Steve Lundeberg, "Support from mom makes memories that endure," Albany Democrat-Herald and Gazette-Times, Sunday, Apr. 11, 2014 - he says, "I try to phone at least once a week and Mom . . . What follows is a traumatic and humiliating story . . autumn 1975, I was a 12-year-old seventh-grader . . the locker room where he kept his socks, shoes, shirt, shorts and jock . . Happy Mother's Day" -- I let the readers of this blog do the Freudian analysis of this story!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oregon gay marriage legal again after banned by Constitutional Amendment

PHOTO: local newspaper coverage of a decision to approve same-sex marriage by a gay Federal U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in a Eugene, Oregon courtroom. The Judge ruled that an Oregon State Constitutional Amendment, which was passed by voters in 2004 as part of a Republican campaign to reelect President Bush and to also redefine marriage in Oregon as between a man and a woman only, was unconstitutional under the Federal U.S. U.S. Constitution that overrules any State Constitutional Amendment. (Clockwise, from the top left: "Same-sex marriage comes to Oregon," Portland, Oregon Oregonian, Tue. May 20, 2014, p. A1 posted online May 19 as "Oregon gay marriage ban struck down by federal judge; same-sex marriages begin" (See for Oregonian's complete coverage), Jonathan J. Cooper and Brady McCombs, Associated Press and Gazette-Times staff reports, "Benton (County, Oregon) prepares for same-sex marriages," Corvallis, Oregon Gazette-Times, Tue. May 20, 2014, p. A1, Tori Hittner, "Oregon's gay marriage ban overturned, 7 same-sex couples in county apply Monday as community celebrates, readies for interested couples to apply for marriage certificates" Oregon State University The Daily Barometer, Tue. May 20, 2014, p. 1 and Editorial Board, "Marriage for all, all for marriage," Oregon State University 'The Daily Barometer,' Tue. May 20, 2014, p. 7) See previous post Oregon same-sex marriage vote and Pope resigns hits front page (2/21/13)

UPDATE 5/23/14: Read legal analysis by the gay marriage legal expert, law Professor Art Leonard, "Federal Court Enjoins Oregon from Banning or Refusing to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages," posted May 19, 2014, who says, "Finding that the state has no rational basis for refusing to allow same-sex couples to marry or for refusing to recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued a permanent injunction on May 19 barring the operation of the state’s marriage amendment and its statutory ban on same-sex marriage."

UPDATE (6/4/14): a longtime Supreme Court reporter summarized the SCOTUS decision that let Oregon same-sex marriages continue -- Lyle Denniston, "Court won’t block Oregon same-sex marriages," sponsored by Bloomberg Law, posted Jun. 4, 2014

Photo of story about gay women on page 7 of Jan. 9, 1976 Corvallis Gazette-Times.

PHOTO: Jan. 9, 1976 feature article by Anne Wood, "Gay women: Coming out of the closet in Corvallis, 'Now I want to marry this woman,'" on p. 7-8 of Corvallis Gazette-Times. One of the women profiled in the article came out in a letter to the editor of her student newspaper and she was active in early gay women's groups at Oregon State University. This article generated numerous angry letters to the editor, including some that threatened to cancel their newspaper subscription. (See previous post Gay 1976 newspaper controversy (5/3/06) and Jo Becker's gay marriage history mentions 1972 Baker case once (5/3/14) for more on the gay marriage pioneer, Jack Baker and links to my previous posts)

PHOTO: The local CBS Network affiliate KVAL TV Chanel 13 Eugene, Oregon reporter Chris Liedle stands outside the Eugene Federal Courthouse and interviews Stephanie and Amy about their reaction the pro-gay marriage decision that was made just after Noon Pacific Time when the decision was handed out by the Judge. They were elated that the state would now recognize their 45-year marriage, especially after having had Oregon briefly recognize same-sex marriages in 2004 until the fall elections when voters barely passed an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Constitution, which had been put on the ballot as a political trick and a strategy by Republicans to help get President Bush reelected.

PHOTO: The Oregon Lewis and Clark Law Professor Jim Oleske is interviewed about his knowledge of same-sex marriage law in Oregon just 6-hours before the Oregon Judge decides on gay marriage by TV news anchor Natalie Marnie from 6:37AM to 6:41 AM, May 19, 2014 on a major Portland, Oregon ABC affiliate KATU TV Channel 2 in Portland, Oregon. This anchor is part of a station owned by a devout Catholic family that has donated to anti-gay marriage politicians and political campaigns in the past, therefore it is significant that they spent five minutes during the prime going-to-work time timeslot of their morning newscast because they never give that much time to any news story unless it is some major breaking news, weather or traffic disaster that might affect commuters. Likewise, the next morning at the same time, five more minutes were spent on the story.

Oregon has reputation for being liberal (although this is only true for the major cities that represent only about 50 percent of the voters) and as a small state, its citizens are used to being overlooked by what locals call "the back East media," which is why it was no surprise that both national new media reporters and legal scholars, who specialize in reporting on gay marriage law, largely ignored the recent pro-gay marriage decision, even given that the decision was made by a gay judge in Eugene, Oregon.

Even the liberal MSNBC lesbian anchor Rachel Maddow ignored it and spent the first part of her show talking about an Oregon millionaire, who invented the plethysmograph to measure erectile dysfunction, but Maddow did mention the Oregon gay marriage story at the end of her broadcast, despite the fact that it was hours after the decision was made.

The next morning, I noticed a few more mentions on the national news, but it still seems to be a non-news event from the national perspective. This is amazing to watch after having seen all of the emotion and political maneuvering since I first started to support the gay marriage activism of the University of Minnesota Law Student Jack Backer in 1972 when he brought his gay marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a one sentence ruling that left it up to the State of Minnesota law. Baker and Michael McConnell were legally married under Minnesota law, which did not specify sex at the time in 1970, and they have remained legally married ever since because no court has ever ordered their legal marriage dissolved.

By a strange coincidence the following story also appeared in the local newspaper and also the college paper: Bennett Hall, "TV's Ellen plans OSU tweetfest Wednesday," Gazette-Time, May 20, 2014, p. A1

Saturday, May 10, 2014

OSU Dr. Sex on APA decision, Pride Week and my letter in response

Pride Editorial and Dr. Sex on APA decision OSU Barometer, May 7, 2014, p. 7

PHOTO: The official OSU student newspaper's Editorial Board, "Editorial: Proud to be this far in the future," OSU Barometer, May 7, 2014, p. 7 said, "It's hump day of LGBTQ Pride Week here at Oregon State University. Pride Week is presented by Rainbow Continuum, and its tagline this year is 'Queer we go again.' If you don't now have Demi Lovato, Paramore, Kelly Rowland or OK Go singing in your head, you're either luckier than we are or too young to be in college." I must be too old to understand this musical reference. Also on the same editorial page was a reference to the 1973 APA decision to remove homosexuality from the official list of mental disorders in the excellent weekly column by the popular sex education instructor at Oregon State University: Dr. Kathy Greaves, "Dr. Sex answers questions related to homosexuality," OSU Barometer, May 7, 2014, p. 7-8. My letter in response was published as follows in the May 9th student newspaper:

A minor note of correction -- homosexuality was removed in 1973 from the official list of mental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association, and not the similarly named "American Psychological Association" as cited by Kathy Greaves in her, otherwise accurate, May 7 column, "Dr. Sex answers questions related to homosexuality," and several previous columns.

Mainstream psychiatrists, who are medical doctors with an M.D. degree, previously blamed domineering mothers and weak fathers for making their sons gay and believed homosexuality could be cured with Freudian psychoanalysis.

The "Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders" (a.k.a. DSM) was commendably created to improve academic medical research and treatments, but its listing of homosexuality was misused to deny government security clearances and exclude gay men from the military, except during the Vietnam War, when openly gay men were involuntarily drafted to serve in the military.

Today, the DSM diagnostic codes are also routinely used by medical insurance providers to decide what is covered, which is why so-called "gender identity disorders" were left in place so that hormone therapies and surgical treatments would be available to intersex and transgendered individuals who have treatable medical conditions that are often confused with sexual orientation.

Thomas Kraemer
Founder, OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund
(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letters to the Editor, Regarding Dr. Sex's My 7 column, Correcting an error," Barometer, May 9, 2014, p. 7)

Also enjoyed reading the Pride Week coverage, in the same issue, by Kaitlyn Kohlenberg, "Pride Week events invite all. Week ends with Queernival, slumber party in MU quad," OSU Barometer, May 9, 104, p. 1, 4. -- after reading this article, I recalled how it used to be that the Frat boys held the best parties on campus, but now I think they are facing some competition from queer students!

See my previous posts:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jo Becker's gay marriage history mentions 1972 Baker case once

PHOTO: Many gay marriage supporters have been criticizing Jo Becker's new book about the history of gay marriage because it ignores most everything but the work of a few. In fact, the result of a Google search inside the book for the history of gay marriage by Jo Becker, "Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality," Penguin, 2014, p. 59 finds only one mention of the first U.S. Supreme Court case on gay marriage brought in 1972 by law student Jack Baker, and it is only because an anti-gay marriage attorney incorrectly cited it as meaning the U.S. Supreme Court had already definitively decided that states could refuse to grant gay marriage licenses. The book fails to note that the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage was brought by the University of Minnesota law student Jack Baker and he is still legally married to Michael McConnell because no court has ever ordered their legally obtained marriage license revoked, although the court decision left it up to state laws, which did not explicitly forbid same-sex marriages at the time. Baker's marriage is the first known legally documented "gay marriage." It is a shame that Jo Becker and others seem to be ignoring this fact, but perhaps it is due to the fact that the founder of the national Human Rights Campaign Steve Endean, who was a gay activist at the same time as Baker in Minnesota, was anti-gay marriage and along with other national gay rights leaders viciously criticized Baker's activism as being counterproductive to their agenda of sexual freedom, repealing sodomy laws, and passing anti-discrimination laws.

"[anti-gay marriage attorney] Cooper had begged Judge Walker to throw out Olsen's lawsuit, arguing the Supreme Court had already had the final say on same-sex marriage when in 1972 it declined to review a lower court's finding that Minnesota could rightfully deny gay couples marriage licenses in a [U.S. Supreme Court Case] called Baker V. Nelson. Instead, Walker set a fast-track schedule that had Cooper scrambling to find experts willing to testify at a three-week trial set to begin on Jan. 11, 2010, only months away."

(Quoted from Jo Becker, "Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality," Penguin, 2014, p. 59)

The self-described gay conservative blogger and gay marriage activist Andrew Sullivan is one of those grumbling about Jo Becker's book (See Andrew Sullivan, "Jo Becker's Troubling Travesty Of Gay History," posted Apr. 16, 2014), perhaps because he became famous a decade ago by making the conservative argument for gay marriage, which led him to publishing a book and later paperback: Andrew SullicanAndrew Sullivan, "Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con," Random House, 2009. Sullivan says, "The intellectual foundation of the movement is also non-existent in Becker's book - before, wait for it!, Ken Mehlman and Ted Olson brought Republican credibility to the movement. Yes, that's her claim. My own work - penning the first cover-story on the conservative case for marriage equality in 1989, a subsequent landmark re-imagining of the gay rights movement in 1993, and a best-selling book, Virtually Normal in 1995 - is entirely omitted from the book, along with the critical contributions from other conservatives and libertarians, . . More staggeringly, the critical, indispensable role of Evan Wolfson in pioneering this cause is actually treated with active contempt in the book."

Being blind and unable to read books not available in a computer digital accessible form (without copy protection) I have been unable to actually read the book yet, but hope to have a friendly grad student read it to me. I will reserve comment, but here is what others are saying about the book on the history of gay marriage by Jo Becker, "Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality," Penguin, 2014, p. 59:

  • Michelangelo Signorile, "The Worst Problem With Jo Becker's Book on 'The Fight for Marriage Equality,'" posted Apr. 21, 2014 -- a liberal contemporary of Andrew Sullivan, said, "Andrew Sullivan took the first shot on those omissions. I completely agree with him that the book is 'access journalism' by a reporter who embedded herself with insiders in return for telling the story they wanted to be told, though Sullivan, as usual, engages in his own revisionism -- a fantasy in which he and a few other gay conservatives were the only writers spearheading the marriage movement."
  • "Jo Becker's 'Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,'" posted Apr. 27, 2014 - a blog post by the gay legal scholar Arthur Leonard, who has written a book explaining gay law to laymen. Leonard said, "Jo Becker's book about the Proposition 8 lawsuit that restored same-sex marriage to California was released this week to near-unanimous condemnation from gay bloggers and critics. I am providing a partial dissent here, having just finished reading the book. I think at least some of the criticism misses the mark, because it faults the book for not being the book that the bloggers and critics wanted. Part of the fault belongs with Becker and her publisher for the way the book was titled, introduced and promoted. The title suggests that the book is an inside look at the struggle for marriage equality, an effort stretching back several decades and ongoing as I write this, when actually it is nothing of the sort and not really intended as such by the author. Instead, this book is a journalist's account of the lawsuit conceived initially in 2008 by Chad Griffin, then a Los Angeles-based publicist and media consultant and now the Executive Director of Human Rights Campaign, intended to reverse the verdict of California voters and get Proposition 8, an anti-same-sex-marriage constitutional amendment, quashed while achieving marriage equality nationwide through a Supreme Court ruling."
  • Duncan Osborne, "A Contested Account of the Marriage Spring," Apr. 30, 104 says, "Beginning in 2009, Becker enjoyed extraordinary access to the two couples who were the plaintiffs in the case, their attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, and Chad Griffin and other AFER staff, with the sole restriction being that she could not report what she observed until after the proceedings were done. Becker sought, but was not given, similar access to Charles Cooper, the attorney who represented the pro-Prop 8 side, and his colleagues and clients."
  • Michael Petrelis, "Who Got More Ford Fdtn Money, NYT's Jo Becker or Evan Wolfson?," posted April 29, 2014 - the famous San Francisco AIDS activist and long-term survivor of HIV Mike Petrelis said, "It's stirred up a few hornets' nests of controversy from many LGBT writers and advocates about her very narrow focus on Chad Griffin, David Boies and Ted Olson, and various omissions and distortions about the long fight for gay marriages in America. . . So Wolfson received more money from the foundation than Becker and I sure would love to be the fly on the wall if they are ever brought together at the foundation to discuss her book and his advocacy."
  • George T. Nicola, Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN), Special to PQ Monthly, "A brief history of Oregon's freedom to marry movement," posted Apr. 17, 2014 - Nicola said, "I came out in 1970 through the Portland Gay Liberation Front (GLF), Oregon's first politically-oriented LGBTQ organization. At that time, we were so demonized that we were largely in survival mode. Before a criminal code revision became effective in 1972, almost any homosexual conduct was a crime. Our major goals in the early 1970s were to eliminate anti-gay bigotry and job discrimination, and to help those whose self-esteems were devastated by homophobia. But even then, things were happening in Portland that created families headed by same-sex couples. Pioneering lesbian attorney Cindy Cumfer recollects details of Portland's primarily lesbian "women's community" that congealed starting in 1970: 'These women began creating some of the first lesbian families with children from heterosexual unions, donor insemination, or in later years formal adoption. It was definitely a genesis of the modern gay family/gay marriage movement.' As time went on, many in our community sought to share in a formal structure that sealed their commitments and aided their need for mutual care. Portland GLF cofounder John Wilkinson later moved to Seattle where in 1995, he and his partner Dave Davenport cofounded Washington State's marriage equality movement. That goal was successful in late 2012 and they married soon after. . . In 1991, five lesbian couples filed for marriage licenses with Multnomah County. Their requests were denied. . . In early 2004, Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. . . Oregon United for Marriage is holding onto their initiative signatures, pending the outcome of the court decision."
  • Jeff, Mapes, "Will Oregon Same-Sex Marriage be a Slam Dunk?" Sunday Oregonian, April 20, 2014, p. A1, A12 posted online Apr. 17, 2014 as "Gay marriage: Openly gay judge, Michael McShane, in spotlight overseeing Oregon case"
  • Editorial Board, "Oregon’s unconstitutional marriage ban case hits NOM snag," Barometer Apr. 28, 2014, p. 7

See my previous posts: