Tuesday’s marriage equality arguments at the Supreme Court confirmed many things: Yes, Justice Anthony Kennedy is still concerned about gay couple’s “dignity”; yes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still a fierce defender of constitutional equality; no, Justice Samuel Alito hasn’t stopped spouting nasty nonsense about gay people. But the arguments ended without a clear view into the mind of Chief Justice John Roberts. In recent months, Roberts has been lobbied by the left to support marriage equality—and bullied by the right to oppose it. On top of that, many commentators (myself included) have speculated that Roberts might swing to the side of equality this time around.
On Tuesday, however, the Chief Justice’s views remained opaque. Although he pummeled pro-gay attorneys with tough questions, Roberts also engaged with attorneys representing anti-gay states, treating several of their claims with evident skepticism. At the end of the morning, it appeared Roberts had three options open to him if he decides to cast his vote in favor of equality.
What happened to all the twinks? I’m not referring to the beautiful, jacked-up 20 year-old boys who make their livings dancing half naked on podiums and posing in their underwear. I’m referring to the skinny boys in midriffs, covered in glitter who weren’t afraid to express their femininity. Ever since bigger became better and masculinity in the gay community became the norm for what is considered attractive, the image of the effeminate young gay guy who likes show tunes and tight fitting clothing has disappeared from public view. In his place are perfectly sculptured bodies of bros who dress like dudes who try to pass as jocks. With the onslaught of regularly updated images of ‘masc’ gay guys that fill our feeds and our minds and our fantasies, we have subconsciously been persuaded to value masculinity as desirable in a mate. As such, the colourful assortment of gay men that used to make up the spectrum of homosexuality has dwindled down to just a few archetypes that now form the basis of our aspirations.
For Kai Brothers, 1981 marked the beginning and the end of a golden era. That was the year he turned 19, moved to San Francisco to join one of the world’s largest gay communities, and met his first boyfriend. “We could walk down the street holding hands and kissing somebody in public. It really was a magical time,” Brothers says. But it was short-lived. “Right after I moved here, we started hearing about people dying.”
Brothers, 52, is sitting in his San Francisco living room with his cat on his lap. A computer technician, he has peppery hair and a carefully trimmed beard. The lines in his face are a reminder of the years that have passed, but he looks healthy.
In the 1980s, Brothers had been donating his blood to a San Francisco blood bank, and sometime in 1986, he recalls, it sent him a piece of certified mail that requested he come in for a test. The blood bank had discovered the human immunodeficiency virus in its stock, and wanted to make sure Brothers didn’t have it. He didn’t go in for the test. “It was the classic state of denial,” he says. “I couldn’t manage it.” Brothers interpreted the letter as confirmation that he was HIV positive.
The anxiety of living in doubt took a toll on Brothers, and in 1989 he went in for an HIV test. It was positive. He believes he contracted the virus from his first boyfriend, who developed AIDS in 1991, and died two years later. That was the darkest period in Brothers’ life. He emptied his 401K, thinking that he wouldn’t live long enough to use it.
Surprisingly, though, Brothers never developed any of the symptoms associated with HIV infection. He continued to play softball, act in local plays, and go to work everyday in a bank. “I’m defying the odds here,” Brothers remembers thinking. “There must be something my body is able to do that is keeping me healthy.”
You probably haven’t heard of the queer Austrian men’s magazine Vangardist, which is distributed exclusively in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. You’ll probably be hearing about it a little bit in the coming weeks, as the magazine has printed an entire issue in ink that was infused with HIV-positive infused blood. This was more than a stunt, though: it’s meant to bring awareness to the increasingly prevalent stigma associated with HIV.
Lyle Shelton isn’t one of those religious fundamentalists you see standing at the pulpit, his hands clenched in fists of rage, spewing invective about how we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.
Sitting with BuzzFeed News in a busy Sydney café on a sunny afternoon, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby is simply preaching a message of love, tolerance, and respect. He’s not a hater, he insists, just a good Christian and a voice for the voiceless.
His critics, however, say his message is one of intolerance and bigotry, which does untold damage to young LGBT Australians.
One thing that’s not in dispute is that Lyle Shelton is widely considered one of the biggest roadblocks to marriage equality in Australia.
How has this small-time politician from country Queensland stopped a social movement that has become unstoppable in every other English-speaking nation in the world?
As Labor steps up its internal debate on whether its MPs should be "bound” on a vote for marriage equality, Tony Abbott’s gay sister Christine Forster believes that would “certainly improve the numbers” to pass the reform.
By now, Bruce Jenner has revealed his struggle with gender dysphoria. I never would have dared to speak on this issue before he was comfortable enough to do so first. It is, after all, his truth, so I knew he should be afforded the dignity to reveal that truth on his own time and in the way he sees fit.
I have respectfully kept his secrets private and would have taken his confidences to my grave had he not spoken out.
But now, many years into his remarkable life, he has spoken out. His legacy will likely be sprinkled with references like "Olympian," "decathlon gold medalist," "world's greatest athlete," "son," "brother," "husband," "father," "grandfather," "friend," and, hopefully, "pioneer" and "trailblazer for the civil rights of the transgender community."
So as much as this is about Bruce, it's not all about him. The sharing of my experience is meant to enlighten and inform -- to lend a modicum of comfort and support for all those disenfranchised, struggling, discriminated-against, searching souls.
Bruce's story and his struggle are uniquely his; my experiences with Bruce are commensurately uniquely my own.
Following is a brief history of my time with Bruce -- a life experience that shaped my existence immeasurably.
West Australian researchers have uncovered a process found to effectively control HIV that could lead to a cure for the deadly disease.
Martyn French, who led the team based at Royal Perth Hospital, said when the particular antibody, named by the group as plasmacytoid dendritic cell-reactive opsonophagocytic antibody, was bound to the virus, it stimulated other cells in the immune system to kill the virus.
Tanya Plibersek should be commended for her work to progress marriage equality in the Australian Labor Party including her current push for a binding vote. Dean Smith should be commended for his work within the Liberal Party towards achieving a free vote on marriage equality.
The parties operate with different caucus rules so a Coalition free vote and Labor binding vote are not mutually exclusive. All should be focused on working together towards a result and not be distracted by the others internal party manoeuvres.
Anthony M. Kennedy was a 44-year-old appeals court judge in Sacramento — a Republican appointee and happily-married Catholic — when he first confronted the question of whether the Constitution protected the rights of gays and lesbians.
His answer in 1980 did not make him a gay rights hero. Kennedy upheld the Navy’s decision to discharge three service members for “homosexual acts.”
But less noticed in that somewhat reluctant opinion — unusual for its time, just two weeks before Ronald Reagan was elected president — were the doubts Kennedy raised about the constitutionality of laws criminalizing gay sex.
Tuesday afternoon, after their lawyers made arguments for marriage equality and marriage recognition, the same-sex couples who are the plaintiffs in the big Supreme Court cases streamed out of the building’s grand front doors and marched down the steps to a cacophony coming from loudspeakers at dueling rallies on the sidewalk.
As the plaintiffs were greeted like celebrities outside the court — from shouting fans to eager reporters — their attention was already turning to the coming wait. The justices are not expected to hand down a decision in the cases until late June.
“It’s going to be a long two months,” Sophy Jesty told BuzzFeed News.
Many of the Supreme Court justices came to the arguments on same-sex marriage Tuesday armed with a slew of colorful, wild and sometimes wildly implausible examples and counter-examples intended to elucidate different points in the gay-marriage debate. They grilled lawyers for both sides, including gay-marriage advocate Mary Banauto and former Washington state solicitor-general Douglas Hallward-Driemeier for the various plantiffs; former Michigan solicitor-general John Brusch for several states on the opposing side; and U.S. Solicitor-General Donald Verrilli to represent the federal government.
Here’s POLITICO’s look at some of the most enlightening and entertaining exchanges during the two-and-a-half hour showdown over marriage ...
Gay London faces total annihilation. The shock closure of legendary London queer bar the Black Cap last week has stunned the city’s queer community. Another jewel has fallen from a once glittering tiara.
In the last five years more than a dozen of London’s most iconic LGBT venues have closed. Many more are under threat, threatening the city’s place among the world’s great gay communities. Dan Glass, 31, was one of the regulars who fought desperately to save another gay bar, the Joiners Arms. “It was one of the very rare places where I could feel, totally and utterly liberated,” he told The Daily Beast.
Some argue that legislative equality and growing acceptance of gay culture in Britain mean there’s no longer any need for dedicated LGBT spaces. They say the closures are simply a result of supply and demand, changing tastes, and a move away from ghettoization. Tell that to Glass, a mainstay of the London gay scene. “To be able to expose my vulnerabilities, my desires and passions within four walls as a queer man, was absolutely necessary, essential in fact, to breathe,” he said.
Psychiatry has not always been kind to people whose sexuality veers from the societal norm. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness in many countries as late as the mid-20th century—if it was not classified as an outright crime. Even Sweden, that Scandinavian bastion of openness and equality, identified being gay as a disorder as late as 1979.
That year, a group of Swedes took advantage of the legal framework that made being gay an illness and called in sick to work, claiming their homosexuality as the reason. One woman, from the southern province of Smålandeven, managed to get Social Security benefits for calling in gay.
The rapid expansion of gay rights and LGBT acceptance in the United States is a remarkable story, and one that's still unfolding. If you think you know how it ends, you don't. As federal courts and state and local governments have opened the door to same-sex marriage, for example, state legislatures in Republican-controlled capitals have been responding with measures to limit gay rights, quash same-sex marriage, and take away local control over LGBT anti-discrimination policies.
The "religious freedom" laws in Indiana and Arkansas are the most famous of the recent state measures to curb gay rights. But Indianapolis and Little Rock are hardly alone. In Texas, for example, Republican state legislators have introduced at least 20 anti-LGBT bills in the current session — more than any other state, according to The Texas Observer.
As gay rights march forward in America, religious conservatives are taking a stand (principled or bigoted, depending on your point of view). Big Business, a second pillar of the Republican coalition, is taking a stand, too, however, and that's where things get interesting.
To be a homophobe in 2014 is, increasingly, to find oneself on the fast track to social scorn. In an environment of growing acceptance, we condemn homophobic feelings, particularly in men, because we think they come from inside the individual and are thus his full responsibility. A man who says hateful things about gays is “backward.” He’s protecting his social status, or maybe he’s secretly gay himself. He needs to grow up or come out already.
However, the continued existence of homophobia—despite the obvious downsides—raises questions about its basic nature: Do psychological theories like those above really explain why gayness, specifically, evokes such fear, the kind that can sometimes even lead to violent speech and action? Do they account for why homophobia is such an easy bulwark against masculine insecurity? Why does coming out seem so impossible to some men? The only way to answer these questions is to stop thinking of homophobia as a personal choice and understand it as the inevitable and deliberate result of the culture in which American men are raised.
Kate Reese, a 13-year-old living in Reno, Nevada, used to think there was something wrong with her.
“I began realizing I wasn’t necessarily straight when I was around 5 or 6,” Reese said. “I saw girls holding hands and thought, I could go for that. Girls were just more interesting.”
Reese may have gone quite a few more years thinking that the innocent schoolyard crushes she harbored were indications of her deviance. But she was able to seek the language to describe herself, and assuage her worries, in a way older LGBT people never could — she had the internet.
“Now I understand what ‘queer’ means, because all of the information is online,” said Reese, who privately started identifying herself as queer sometime in the fourth grade. “Now I understand LGBT terms, and that it’s not a choice. I thought something was wrong with me until I saw all this research. Now I know people like me are out there.”
After Tuesday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, those who were confidently predicting victory for marriage equality are—if we’re being honest—trembling a bit. Based on the questions the justices asked, the outcome appears to be very much in doubt. And if the court were to decide that states aren’t constitutionally required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the result will be chaos. Marriages in many states could be legally unraveled, leading to consequences that would be sure to tie up couples and courts for years to come.
Eleven years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry, the Supreme Court on April 28 will hear arguments about whether to extend that right nationwide. The case comes amid a wave of gay marriage legalization: 28 states since 2013, and 36 overall. Such widespread acceptance in a short amount of time isn't a phenomenon unique to gay marriage. Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event—often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity—triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.
We looked at six big issues—interracial marriage, prohibition, women’s suffrage, abortion, same-sex marriage, and recreational marijuana — to show how this has happened in the past, and may again in the very near future.
There was a shocking, ugly moment during the argument of Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Right after Mary Bonauto, the lawyer challenging marriage bans in several states, completed her argument, a spectator rose from a back row and started screaming, “If you support gay marriage, you will burn in Hell!” As the man yelled, “It’s an abomination!,” guards carried him from the courtroom.
That wasn’t the ugly part, though. In the quiet moment after the man was removed, as his shouts vanished into the hallway, Justice Antonin Scalia filled the silence with a quip. “It was rather refreshing, actually,” he said.
It may have been just a joke from the senior Associate Justice on the Court, but what kind of joke—or was it really a joke at all?
The U.S. Supreme Court is holding oral arguments Tuesday for Obergefell v. Hodges, an amalgamation of four cases that may decide the fate of national marriage equality as early as June of this year.
Two issues are debated: whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether states without marriage equality should recognize unions performed in areas of the country where it is legal.
Listen to the oral arguments and read the transcript of Obergefell v. Hodges ...
At Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments over same-sex couples’ marriage rights, the majority of the court appeared to be comfortable with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s understanding of human dignity as including gay people’s equal treatment under the law.
While Kennedy, who is considered the key vote in the case, did not make any unambiguous statement about the end result of the case, he harshly questioned the state of Michigan’s argument that it should be allowed to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.
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