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10/09/2013

Richard Socarides On Justice Scalia's NY Mag Interview And The Progress of LGBT Rights

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As we reported earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sat down with New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior recently for a wide-ranging interview that was filled with, well, exactly what you'd expect from a man known for his fiery dissents and come-at-me public persona.

Aside from a somewhat baffling and wild exchange about the devil (he's out there, according to Scalia, and he's decided to take on a lower profile compared to those stories you've read about in the Bible as a tactic), the justice raised some eyebrows when he told Senior that he doesn't know anybody who's openly gay.  "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," he admitted to her. "Everybody does."

Scalia--as his New York Magazine interview makes patently clear, is a devout Catholic.  But as LGBT rights advocate Richard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, points out, that very faith is currently experiencing a self-evaluation of its approach towards sexual orientation in the highest echelons of its power structure:

The most breathtaking development since the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage rights, three and a half months ago, and the one with obvious global impact, was Pope Francis’ basic acceptance of gay people within the context of Roman Catholic theology—“Who am I to judge?”—signaling a turning point of historic proportions. A Quinnipiac poll late last week showed that American Catholics approve of the Pope’s new approach by a margin of sixty-eight per cent to twenty-three per cent. No doubt the dramatic progress we have seen in the U.S. impacted the Pope’s thinking.

Shortly after the Pope said that it was time to end the church’s focus on demonizing gay people (and its “obsession” with issues like abortion and contraception), Andrew Solomon, a longtime gay-rights advocate and the author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” told me in an e-mail, “The primary obstacle to gay rights—and indeed to various forms of human rights—is prejudice and bigotry that have been encoded in religion.” Solomon believes, as many do, that “the Catholic Church was long set up as our most vigorous enemy, and it’s to be hoped, very profoundly, that this change in position will filter down through the Catholic hierarchy and make religion once more the champion of loving-kindness, and no longer the instrument of oppression.”

Even Scalia felt the effect, though he argued that it was a matter of emphasis, not doctrinal change: “He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope.”

Socarides points out the significance of such a shift--even if it is only in the tone of the church's position--and underscores its ability to have a lasting impact. Earlier this year, the association of American bishops wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples "would compromise the ability of states to accommodate religious and moral objections to homosexual conduct on the part of employers and individuals." As Socarides pithily puts it, "So much for that."

Senior's interview with Justice Scalia reveals a man happily inhabiting a island of conservative thought that seems far removed from today's reality--it's incredible that he could live in our nation's capital in 2013 and know zero gay people personally.  But Socarides's point is a good one: as Scalia stands firm, history--and the very institution responsible in many ways for his opinions about LGBT people--continues to shift around him.

(photo courtesy of Platon for New York Magazine)

Posted Oct. 9,2013 at 4:31 PM EST by in Antonin Scalia, Pope Francis, Richard Socarides, Supreme Court, Washington DC | Permalink | Comments (38)


'Hunger Games' Star And LGBT Ally Josh Hutcherson: 'I Would Probably List Myself As Mostly Straight'

In a new interview with Out Magazine, Josh Hutcherson, who stars as Peeta in The Hunger Games, made an interesting claim about his sexuality. Instead of opting for a definitive statement of heterosexuality, the handsome twenty-one year old came out with something a little more nuanced.  

JoshyOut Magazine reports:

We’ve barely started lunch, and I’m nowhere near my usual open-ended sexuality question, when Josh Hutcherson offers this: “I would probably list myself as mostly straight.”

That “mostly” is what makes Hutcherson winningly uninhibited, but also typical of his generation. New research published in The New York Times in 2010 shows that an increasing number of guys his age identify as “mostly straight,” and Hutcherson’s ease in embracing ambiguity over neat and secure boxes speaks to his self-assurance.

“Maybe I could say right now I’m 100% straight,” he says. “But who knows? In a fucking year, I could meet a guy and be like, Whoa, I’m attracted to this person.

Hutcherson grew up in Union, Ky., a small town close to the Ohio border, and his slouchy, chill California vibe is still tinged with a soft Southern accent. Everything he says sounds easygoing. “I’ve met guys all the time that I’m like, Damn, that’s a good-looking guy, you know?” he says. “I’ve never been, like, Oh, I want to kiss that guy. I really love women. But I think defining yourself as 100% anything is kind of near-sighted and close-minded.”

Of course, Hutcherson is also an ally to the LGBT community and has been for some time. He co-founded the Straight but Not Narrow campaign which encourages other heterosexual youngsters to stand up in support of their gay peers. It is certainly nice to have a youthful Hollywood star in our court--perhaps one day he'll even play for our team.

Read all about Josh's Hunger Games role, his family's gay legacy, and more about Straight but Not Narrow at out.com.

(Photo by Nino Muñoz for Out)

Posted Oct. 9,2013 at 3:27 PM EST by in Gay Quotes, Josh Hutcherson, News | Permalink | Comments (46)


Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Shirtless Return To TV

FreddieThough absent from our screens both big and small for some time, Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar is making his return to TV this month on Lifetime's The Witches of East End, according to E! Online. And, apparently, Prinze Jr. decided not to leave his shirt at home:

"He'll reportedly be playing Leo Wingate, "a gallant and sweetly shy entomologist who falls head over heels for Wendy Beauchamp (Madchen Amick)," according to EW. "The scholar is said to specialize in rare and exotic insects, and he soon begins to wonder whether Wendy is more interested in his body or his bugs. He is set to guest star in the fourth episode, with more episodes possible."

Prinze Jr.'s last stint on TV was as Cole Ortiz on 24. The episode of East End featuring Prinze Jr. will air October 27. He's also slated to guest star on the season premiere Bones. Whether or not he will be equally undressed on that show is anyone's guess. Will you be tuning in to welcome Freddie back to TV land?

Posted Oct. 9,2013 at 3:10 PM EST by in Film and TV, News | Permalink | Comments (45)


NEWS: Pope Francis, Glee, Marriage Equality, Leotards

RoadPope Francis calls 'Extraordinary Synod' on family and marriage: "For Francis, issues of family and marriage are the ones that require deeper interpretation given the signs of the times, and dedicating a synod to the topic suggests he wants to unify church teaching about them. When local church offices around the world make their own decisions about marriage and family—especially about serving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics—the global church as whole becomes divided."

RoadPippa Middleton flies afoul of animal rights activists.

RoadThe most adorable cat of the day. So far at least.

RoadTom Hanks reveals he has Type 2 diabetes. Once known for parts that saw him gain and lose a considerable amount of weight, Hanks told the BBC he no longer considers roles that require extreme weight gain out of concern for his health.

RoadRicky Martin and his boys look darling in Darling Harbor, Australia.

CoryRoadLeading up to Thursday's episode of Glee remembering Corey Monteith, the show has released full versions of the songs being performed which includes "Seasons of Love" from Rent, "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry and "I'll Stand By You" which Monteith himself performed in the show's first season.

RoadMale Model Fix: Francisco Lachowski

RoadFreedom to Marry offers up an excellent chart showing the 19 states where couples are suing for marriage equality.

RoadLeotard fashion update from the 2013 World Gymnastics Championships. And some nice biceps.

RoadDespite claiming to be "shell-shocked" after being trounced by President Obama, the Romney campaign's own internal polls showed Romney would lose, giving him only an 18% chance of winning.

RoadMonday Night's Dancing With The Stars saw a lot of male shirtlessness.

RoadMiss Piggy takes on Miley Cyrus and "Wrecking Ball." 

RoadLightCompared to adults in other developed countries, Americans are lagging behind according to a new study: "The study, perhaps the most detailed of its kind, shows that the well-documented pattern of several other countries surging past the United States in students’ test scores and young people’s college graduation rates corresponds to a skills gap, extending far beyond school. In the United States, young adults in particular fare poorly compared with their international competitors of the same ages — not just in math and technology, but also in literacy."

RoadThe Light Princess, a new musical with music and lyrics by Tori Amos, is now in previews at London's National Theater.

RoadIs the beard back?

Posted Oct. 9,2013 at 12:41 PM EST by in Cory Monteith, Gay Marriage, Mitt Romney, Pope Francis, Ricky Martin, Tom Hanks | Permalink | Comments (8)


Supreme Court Lets Stand Firing of University HR Administrator Who Said Gays 'Violate God's Divine Order'

Back in 2008, Andy posted about Crystal Dixon, the then University of Toledo associate vice president of human resources who was fired after writing an article in the Toledo Free Press in which she said gays "violate God's divine order," and later told reporters at her church that she had a divine mandate to write the column.

DixonSaid Dixon, in part, "As a Black woman...I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. Daily thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle."

Dixon filed suit as a result of the firing, saying the administrators violated her First Amendment rights by retaliating against her for her speech and also violated her 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. Late last year, a federal appeals court upheld her firing, saying that her column "contradicted the very policies she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing," and cannot be excused as merely a statement of her own views as a private citizen.

Now, on the first day of its 2014 term, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the appeals court ruling, meaning that Dixon's accusation that the university violated her constitutional rights appears unwarranted. 

Posted Oct. 9,2013 at 12:00 PM EST by in Education, News, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (51)


Anti-Gay San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan Resigns, Announces Bid For State Senate

Elisa Chan

Elisa Chan, the San Antonio Councilwoman who made headlines back in August for her recorded anti-gay comments in which she called gays 'disgusting' and unfit to be parents, submitted her letter of resignation Monday in order to seek higher office. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Her last day as District 9 councilwoman is Oct. 18, said her campaign spokesman, Craig Murphy. State law requires that she resign from council in order to file as a state candidate, and the filing period for candidates is Nov. 9-Dec. 9.

Last month, Chan, 47, said she would challenge incumbent tea party Republican Donna Campbell to represent Senate District 25.

In a letter to Mayor Julián Castro and council members, Chan said she was proud of San Antonio and "what we have accomplished." She reflected on her five years on council, saying:

"I have done my best to represent the conservative values of these fine people. The people of this district take an active role in deciding policy, giving their input, volunteering their time and listening to the views of their neighbors," she wrote.

 Gay neighbors excluded of course. 

Posted Oct. 9,2013 at 11:37 AM EST by in Elisa Chan, News, San Antonio, Texas | Permalink | Comments (25)



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