The meteorologists were as nutty and as hard to predict as the weather in 2013.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
On New Year's Day Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair made an historic moment by being the first gay couple to wed atop a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Spectators cheered, providing a mass affirmation for the couple, but not everyone present shared the crowd's enthusiasm and support.
Specifically, several TV stations filming the parade cut away from the float, and they weren't small stations either. NBC, ABC, and HGTV all cut away, while radio station KLTA went to silence during the AHF float, but allegedly "effused" over the eHarmony float.
The Navajo Nation may soon see a review of its tribal ban on gay marriage, spurred on by the Coalition for Navajo Equality. The original legislation, which banned same-sex marriages in 2005, likely passed in part because of the climate of the federal government at the time, and limited state support for same-sex couples; now, many Navajo people would like to see that law overturned, following in the footsteps of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma.
Al Jazeera reports:
Alray Nelson, founder of the Coalition for Navajo Equality, says he wants the Navajo Nation (flag at right) to respect same-sex relationships, just like two of the states that surround its territory — New Mexico, where gay marriage was legalized this month, and Utah, where it was recently ruled legal but faces a mounting appeal.
“There’s no organized faction against this, like in the fight (for) Proposition 8 in California,” said Nelson, 27, whose organization is seeking to make tribal legislators review a 2005 tribal ban on gay marriage early next year.
Opposition to the review may not be organized, but it exists.
Deswood Tome, a special adviser to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, told Al Jazeera that although Navajo respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Navajo, marriage is traditionally between a man and woman.
Tome referred to a traditional phrase in the Navajo language that “means that ‘a man and woman come together.’ That's our core belief as Navajo people ... I’ve never heard of a man and man.”
President Shelly (right), it turns out, both agreed and disagreed with Tome's interpretation. While the tradition has been marriage between one man and one woman, Shelly stated that his personal belief is one of equal opportunity for marriage, gay or straight. Other tribal nations agree and fear that state and federal influences (such as George W. Bush's 2004 defense of DOMA) have caused dissent within their tribes.
In October two gay men became the third same-sex couple to be officially married by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Their territory is surrounded by Oklahoma, where gay marriage remains illegal and faces much opposition.
After their marriage, a high-level official called a tribal meeting to discuss measures to block such unions, said Cheyenne and Arapaho Lt. Gov. Amber Bighorse-Suitor.
“I was surprised when this broke that there was any opposition in the tribe. The attitude in Oklahoma seems to have infiltrated some of our tribal attitudes,” she said.
The same-sex marriage debate seems to represent just one facet of an ever-shifting dynamic between states, tribal nations, and the federal government. Influences both positive (Utah and New Mexico's marriage decisions) and negative (Oklahoma's largely anti-gay stance) have traversed national borders.
Hopefully the Navajo Nation will review the 2005 ban and decide, like the other tribal governments, to allow same-sex marriage. Good luck to the Coalition for Navajo Equality!
The Minnesota Vikings announced today that it had hired attorneys to lead an investigation into claims by former punter Chris Kluwe, who said in an article published on Deadspin that he was released from the team because of his gay activism.
It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter.
Kluwe also claimed that Priefer unleashed a homophobic rant in his presence, saying, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
Wrote the Vikings in today's press release:
Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.
“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf.
Magnuson, who is currently a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. and teaches at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is highly-regarded in Minnesota and throughout the country. He has more than 35 years of practice, including over two years (2008-10) as the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Madel is the Chair of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P.’s Government and Internal Investigations Group, and has led numerous high-profile investigations, including the extensively publicized internal investigation of the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Madel has also been selected as the Minnesota Lawyer’s “Attorney of the Year” for 2011, 2012, and 2013, and is the first attorney to win the award for three consecutive years.
“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” said Vikings Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren. “Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”
Interviews have reportedly begun, according to the organization.
Trestin Meacham, A Utah man opposed to same-sex marriage, has been on a hunger strike for 12 days to persuade the state to exercise the option of "nullifaction", ABC 4 Utah reports:
According to his interpretation of states’ rights, Utah can nullify the recent federal court ruling by simply choosing not to follow it.
"Jefferson made clear that the courts are not the supreme arbitrators of what is and what is not constitutional. The states also have power," said Meacham.
But that's not the interpretation of attorney Greg Skordas. "If people want to change that they have to go through the appropriate processes," said Skordas. Skordas said nullification doesn't work with Utah’s case. When the federal government grants someone a constitutional right, states must recognize it. "When individual personal liberties are at stake the state can't infringe on that, even if it's the will of the people," said Skordas.
Watch an interview with Meacham, AFTER THE JUMP...
Meacham has lost 25 pounds so far. He writes, on his website:
I began a fast on Saturday the 21st of December; and will continue the fast until the State of Utah exercises its right of nullification. I will go without food or drink, but will continue to drink water, and take weekly vitamin supplements.
On Friday the 20th of December, a federal judge overturned the State Constitution of Utah and ruled against and its restriction against same sex marriage. In so doing, Article 1 Section 8 and the 10th Amendment of the U.S Constitution were violated. Even worse a law voted on by a strong majority of the people of Utah was rescinded, thus robbing the people of their voice in government. And if this law remains, the natural rights of free speech and religious freedom, vouched safe by the first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, will be violated.
This has nothing to do with hatred of a group of people. I have friends and relatives who practice a homosexual lifestyle and I treat them with the same respect and kindness that I would anyone. This is about religious freedom, and an out of control federal government.
Watch an interview with Meacham, AFTER THE JUMP...
The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot, but what does that really mean? Welcome to Gay Iconography, a new feature where we present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts.
I started thinking about this feature back in June last year when I first read that Cher would be headlining New York City's Pride Dance On the Pier. Now, while of course I appreciated Cher and could easily sing along to many of her hits, I didn't really consider myself a "Cher person," per se. I didn't own any albums, I couldn't recite her IMDB page from memory and I can barely do a decent approximation of that thing she does with her tongue.
Still, Cher performing on the pier called to me like a big, gay siren song. I couldn't resist the urge to buy tickets. Of course I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to see an icon, especially surrounded by my people.
That's what got me thinking. What is it about these (mostly straight, mostly white) female figures that resonates so strongly with gay men? It's obvious why we would laud figures like Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin; it's less immediately clear why we gravitate toward the likes of Cher, Bette and Barbra. Then there's a whole slew of people who don't necessarily fit the same Judy/Liza/Cher mold, but are adored by the gay community anyway. Who gets to decide the definition of gay icon?
Well, we do. After all, our interest in these people says just as much (if not more) about us than it does about them. These are conversation starters, and it's been amazing to see some really interesting discussion take place in the comments.
So, in that spirit, let's start the new year talking about the one who first inspired this feature, someone that Liza Minnelli once said was a bigger icon than Barbra Streisand and herself. Let's talk about Cher.
Get in the spirit with just a few Cher clips, AFTER THE JUMP ...
One attribute regularly associated with gay icons is an outsider status. Cher's hit "Half-Breed" tells one such story of a girl shunned by both her white and Native American heritages. In the clip above she performs the song on a 1973 episode of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.
In addition to television and music, Cher is also an accomplished film actress. She's appeared in Mermaids, The Witches of Eastwick and Burlesque. (She also played a lesbian character opposite the legendary Meryl Streep in Silkwood.) However, it was her turn in Moonstruck that won Cher an Academy Award for her performance.
Cher is one of the top-selling artists of all time. Her No. 1 hits span six consecutive decades and include classics like "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves," "Dark Lady" and the unforgettable "If I Could Turn Back Time." Her transition to dance music in the late '90s pioneered the use of auto-tune and continued her success with subsequent hits "Strong Enough," "Song For the Lonely" and last year's "Woman's World."
Cher made not one, but two appearances on (the divisive) sitcom Will & Grace. In the clip above, Jack is too busy obsessing over his Cher doll to realize that it's the real deal (and not a drag queen) right behind him.
Cher's son, Chaz Bono, legally changed his name and gender in 2010, becoming an outspoken and prominent transgender activist. While appearing on David Letterman in 2010, Cher discussed Chaz's transition. Sure her pronouns aren't perfect, but she demystified the experience to a broad audience (and displayed some of her signature Cher attitude toward Bill Maher at the end).
Yes, Cher is a gay icon (maybe even the gay icon), but why? What about her story appeals to you? Does she feel as relevant today? Tell us in the comments.