03/05/2015

Supreme Court Sets April 28 for Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

Scotus

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four same-sex marriage cases challenging bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio,, and Tennessee on April 28.

Announcement here.

The court announced they would take up the cases in January:

The cases are consolidated and the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted limited to the following questions:

1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

A total of ninety minutes is allotted for oral argument on Question 1. A total of one hour is allotted for oral argument on Question 2. The parties are limited to filing briefs on the merits and presenting oral argument on the questions presented in their respective petitions. The briefs of petitioners are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, February 27, 2015. The briefs of respondents are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2015. The reply briefs are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2015.

Read our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman's series of pieces leading up to the arguments. His first was an early analysis, his second about framing the case through the questions presented, and his third on the cases themselves.

Posted Mar. 5,2015 at 10:39 AM EST by in Gay Marriage, News, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (9)


Billionaire GOP Donor David Koch Files Amicus Brief Asking SCOTUS to Strike Down Gay Marriage Bans

Koch

Billionaire GOP megadonor David Koch is signing on to an Supreme Court amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage, The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Koch, the vice president of Koch Industries and the world’s sixth wealthiest person, is a deep-pocketed donor to Republican and conservative groups.

Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden confirmed on Tuesday that Koch will sign his name to the brief. Holden said he did so in his personal capacity.

“I believe in gay marriage,” he told Politico in 2012. A former vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket, Koch is in line with that movement’s thinking on the issue, despite his support for a party that frequently opposes gay marriage.

“I think the Republican Party has a great chance of being successful and that’s why I support it … but I believe in the libertarian principles,” he told Politico.

In his interview with Barbara Walters for her "10 Most Fascinating People of 2014" special back in December, Koch was asked why he backs anti-gay candidates despite his personal support for marriage equality. His reply? "That's their problem."

Posted Mar. 5,2015 at 10:20 AM EST by in Gay Marriage, Koch Brothers, Republican Party, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (26)


Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced for Best LGBTQ Books: Read the FULL LIST + Our Reviews

Books

The 27th Annual Lambda Literary Award finalists were announced yesterday in 24 categories. The organization received a record-breaking 818 submissions from 407 publishers.

Read the full list, AFTER THE JUMP...

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on June 1.

Said Lambda Literary Board President, S. Chris Shirley in a press release: "Each year, the Lammys bring national attention to the best LGBTQ books, which are often overlooked by the mainstream media and might otherwise be forgotten. This critical program of Lambda Literary not only recognizes the outstanding work of these talented authors, but also underscores the importance of LGBTQ stories, which are fundamental to the preservation of our culture."

We also like to bring attention to LGBT books here at Towleroad and our book reviewer Garth Greenwell turned in reviews last year for 8 of the books that are among the nominees. We would like to highlight some of those reviews here.

 

For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu (nominated in Best Transgender Fiction). Fu

From Garth's review:

"Structured in short, intense fragments and poetic scenes, Kim Fu’s novel follows Peter’s life over three decades, and one of its strengths is that Peter’s coming of age doesn’t fit into any easy narrative of liberation. Even when he does fall in with a group of young people who seem entirely comfortable with their queer identities, with rich lives and loving relationships, Peter’s response, at least at first, is to feel less relieved than enraged...For Today I Am a Boy is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel, and Fu is a thrilling new voice. She’s at once compassionate toward her characters and uncompromising in her refusal of the usual novelistic resolutions of questions that remain intractable in lived experience. Lyrical, sometimes brutal, always beautiful, this is a brilliant book."

 

2_brabnerSecond Avenue Caper, Joyce Brabner (nominated in Best LGBT Graphic Novels)

From Garth's review:

"Joyce Brabner’s nonfiction graphic novel recounts the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a tight-knit circle of “gay artists, writers, actors, musicians, dyke activists, drag queens,” who respond to the devastation of the disease with acts of remarkable daring and generosity...These early pages of the book are exuberantly joyful, as Ray’s apartment is packed with friends eating and drinking and smoking together, playing games and singing songs, throwing out ideas for plays and musicals, and above all gossiping, cattily and lovingly. Mark Zingarelli’s direct and emotive illustrations capture beautifully the intimacy and trust between these queer outsiders, who create a rich and sustaining family for themselves."

New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, Shelly Oria (Nominated in Best Lesbian Fiction) Ny1

From Garth's review:

"Disorientation afflicts nearly all of the characters in Shelly Oria’s nimble and disarmingly moving debut collection of stories. Many of them are (like Oria herself) Israeli immigrants in New York City, navigating multiple cultures and languages; others find themselves in worlds where the usual rules (of weather, say, or time) break down; all of them are bewildered by desire...Oria’s characters are often stripped of the usual, prefabricated categories of identity: “I think, Who is this person?” the narrator of the title story wonders, “That me who isn’t Israeli and isn’t American, isn’t gay and isn’t straight--who is she?” This disorientation makes them profoundly vulnerable, able to ask with a sometimes devastating bluntness the most dangerous questions: “I think: This is what there is, this is my life. I think: Do I want it or not?” In Oria's excellent collection, these questions result in stories that are heartbreaking, inventive, and almost miraculously alive to the subtleties of feeling."

 

Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones (Nominated in Best Gay Poetry) Jones

From Garth's review:

Saeed Jones begins this electrifying book—one of the most exciting debut collections I’ve read in years—with a quotation from Kafka’s notebooks: 'The man in ecstasy and the man drowning—both throw up their arms.'... These poems bear witness to the fact that to be black and gay in America—and especially in the American South—is to be confronted with violence from every side: on the street and in the home; from strangers and friends alike; most painfully, from within the self...Like the great poets his lines recall—Whitman, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, James Baldwin, to name just a few of the voices that inform this book—Jones makes a music that feels adequate to rage and grief on both a personal and a national scale. Prelude to Bruise is more than a promising debut; it’s the rare book of poetry that urgently speaks—and will continue to speak, I suspect, for a long time—to the intractable griefs of our present moment."

 

CarrollLittle Reef and Other Stories, Michael Carroll (Nominated in Best Gay General Fiction)

From Garth's review:

"The unpredictable drift of southern conversation may lie behind the unconventional shape of many of these stories. In an interview with the writer Andrew Holleran, Carroll speaks about his desire to break free of the traditional structure of the short story, in which rising action leads to climax, resolution, and epiphany or realization. Instead, he allows his stories to find their way in a looser, less predetermined way, allowing for sudden juxtapositions and unexpected turns and constant, vivifying surprise...It also allows for the emergence of what may be Carroll’s greatest strength, his ability to inhabit the deep consciousness of his characters. “What was writing except a direct line into someone’s head,” the wife in “Referred Pain” muses, and what makes Carroll’s characters so vivid is the access we’re given to their experience of their own lives."

 

ProseLovers At The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Francine Prose (Nominated in Best Lesbian General Fiction)

From Garth's review:

"Francine Prose’s engrossing, virtuosic new novel uses a fictional version of Brassaï’s photograph to create a moving narrative of a group of friends and associates over two decades, as Paris devolves from the 1920s bohemian paradise of expatriate artists to the nightmare of rising fascism and Nazi occupation. In Prose’s version, the suited woman of the photograph is Lou Villars, a desperately unhappy former athlete who will become, thanks to the people she meets over the course of the novel, a nightclub performer, a racecar driver, a Nazi spy, a torturer. More than anything, she will be a tool, forever shaping herself to what she thinks are others’ wishes, manipulated in ways she never fully sees....This ambitious novel paints a wide canvas, and doesn’t shy away from the familiar figures and events of the Second World War—there’s even a wonderful scene, at once chilling and ridiculous, with Hitler himself, who infects Lou with his crazed messianic fervor. But the real achievement of the book is that the intimate dramas of its characters’ lives remain our chief concern, the medium through which we understand the horrors of war."

 

BitterBitter Eden, Tatamkhulu Afrika (Nominated in Best Gay General Fiction)

From Garth's review:

"On the first page of Tatamkhulu Afrika’s intense and passionate novel, the narrator, Tom Smith, receives a package from a man he hasn’t seen in half a century. What it contains will send him back to the years he spent in Italian and German POW camps during the Second World War, camps that, for all their horror, Tom remembers as a “Bitter Eden.” Bitter EdenThe book’s depiction of the day-to-day life in those camps is extraordinary. Captured in Northern Africa, Tom finds himself in a desperate world of starvation and ingenuity, of lice and cigarette economies and amateur entertainments. It’s “a place where anything unclaimed is everyone’s prey,” and where in their hunger men become nothing more than “meat wanting more meat so that it can go on being meat.” It is a brutal place, and yet it allows for intimacies and affections the broader world prohibits."

 

WhiteInside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, Edmund White (Nominated in Best Gay Memoir/Biography)

From Garth's review:

"Reading Edmund White’s fascinating, vital new memoir, which covers the fifteen years he spent in France in the 1980s and 90s, feels a little like attending the world’s most fabulous cocktail party. The pages are filled with impossibly glamorous people doing impossibly glamorous things, from literary lights like Susan Sontag and Julian Barnes and Alan Hollinghurst, to celebrities of a different stratosphere, like Lauren Bacall and Tina Turner and Yves Saint Laurent. At the center of it all is White, who for four decades has been, in both fiction and nonfiction, our preeminent chronicler of gay life. When the period covered by Inside a Pearl begins, in 1983, White has just published his classic novel A Boy’s Own Story, and he arrives in Paris armed with that success, as well as high school French and sixteen thousand dollars from a Guggenheim Fellowship...Inside a Pearl is a beautiful, hugely endearing, often brilliant book, a worthy record of White’s attempt to be true to what he sees as the several purposes of his life: 'to teach, to trick, to write, to memorialize, to be a faithful scribe, to record the loss of my dead.'"

 

READ THE FULL LIST OF LAMBDA LITERARY AWARDS FINALISTS, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced for Best LGBTQ Books: Read the FULL LIST + Our Reviews"

Posted Mar. 5,2015 at 9:55 AM EST by in Awards, Books, Garth Greenwell, Lambda Literary Foundation, News | Permalink | Comments (5)


George Takei Tells People to Give Alabama the 'Wedding Finger' After State Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriage

Takei
(Facebook)

George Takei and husband Brad Altman are venting their frustration with the Alabama State Supreme Court in a creative way after the court ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier this week.

Wrote Takei on Facebook:

Alabama just gave SCOTUS the finger by halting marriage equality there despite federal orders. Couples, let's respond! Whether gay or straight, post a photo on FB or Twitter giving AL the "wedding finger" and tagging ‪#‎LuvUAlabama‬. Tag your state (e.g. ‪#‎NY‬) to join our nationwide map!

Among the faces joining Takei's campaign is Randy Thomas, the former Executive Vice President of (now-defunct) "ex-gay" group Exodus International, who came out as gay back in January. 

 

 

Posted Mar. 5,2015 at 9:30 AM EST by in Alabama, Gay Marriage, George Takei, News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Out Former MLB Player Billy Bean Responds to NY Mets' Daniel Murphy's Disagreement With His 'Gay Lifestyle'

Bean
(screenshot)

Yesterday, we reported New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy's anti-gay comments regarding openly gay former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean.

Said Murphy:

Murphy"I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent…

"Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven't been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That's the way I would describe it for me. It's the same way that there are aspects of my life that I'm trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There's a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn't mean I'm just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That's not love. That's not love at all."

Bean, who recently became MLB's first Ambassador for Inclusion, responded to Murphy's comments in a post over at MLB.com.

Wrote Bean, in part:

When I took this job at MLB, I knew it was going to take time for many to embrace my message of inclusion. Expecting everyone to be supportive right away is simply not realistic. If you asked anyone who has competed in high-level men's professional sports, I believe they would agree with me. This doesn't change the way I go about my business, or my belief in what I am doing, but it's reality.

After reading his comments, I appreciate that Daniel spoke his truth. I really do. I was visiting his team, and a reporter asked his opinion about me. He was brave to share his feelings, and it made me want to work harder and be a better example that someday might allow him to view things from my perspective, if only for just a moment.

I respect him, and I want everyone to know that he was respectful of me. We have baseball in common, and for now, that might be the only thing. But it's a start.

The silver lining in his comments are that he would be open to investing in a relationship with a teammate, even if he "disagrees" with the lifestyle. It may not be perfect, but I do see him making an effort to reconcile his religious beliefs with his interpretation of the word lifestyle. It took me 32 years to fully accept my sexual orientation, so it would be hypocritical of me to not be patient with others.

Inclusion means everyone, plain and simple. Daniel is part of that group. A Major League clubhouse is now one of the most diverse places in sports. It wasn't always that way, but we can thank No. 42 for that. So in his honor, with a little patience, compassion and hard work, we'll get there.

Posted Mar. 5,2015 at 9:05 AM EST by in Baseball, Billy Bean, Sports | Permalink | Comments (31)


North Carolina Transgender Teen's Suicide Mirrors Death Of Leelah Alcorn: VIDEO

Ashlyn Haffner

A North Carolina mother believes that bullying led to her teen transgender son’s suicide, reports WSOCTV.

Alcorn16-year-old Ashlyn Haffner died close to his family’s Indian Trail home late last month. According to an accident report Ashlyn - who went by the name Ash - stepped into the path of an oncoming vehicle, the same way Ohio transgender teen Leelah Alcorn (right) died in December of last year.

Ash’s mother April Quick said the bullying started when Ash decided he wanted to transition from female to male.

Quick found a suicide note on Ash’s iPad that read in part:

“Please be WHO YOU ARE... Do it for yourself. Do it for your happiness. That's what matters in YOUR life.  You don't need approval on who you are.  Don't let people or society change who you are just because they're not satisfied with your image."

At a memorial service outside Porter Ridge High School, where Ash was a student, family and friends lit candles, shared memories of the teen and pleaded for acceptance of all people. The school’s principal said the district is fully cooperating with investigators as they dig deeper into Ash’s death.  

Watch a Fox News report, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: autoplay)

Continue reading "North Carolina Transgender Teen's Suicide Mirrors Death Of Leelah Alcorn: VIDEO"

Posted Mar. 5,2015 at 8:40 AM EST by in Deaths, Gay Youth, Leelah Alcorn, North Carolina, Transgender, Video | Permalink | Comments (16)


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