Pumped-up Equality Forum

May 2nd, 2012 No comments

Here it comes again — Equality Forum, Philadelphia’s internationally known and always interesting cavalcade of events that celebrates, informs and provokes on all (or many, anyway) things LGBT. I’ve been blogging the event for the past three years (here’s a compilation of my entries), and am delighted to be doing so again this year.

If you’re coming to this site for EF updates each year, you might be surprised to see that there aren’t already entries for this year’s event. That’s because the format’s been compressed, squeezed from its traditional, week-long schedule down to four days. It kicks off tonight with a big welcoming party, and then jumps into high gear for a bunch of panels tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday.

This new format makes sense. It’s more attuned to people’s busy schedules — especially the many people who come (many of them, for years now) for the entire event. But it does make life tougher for a blogger, becauseĀ  the highlighted panels for Thursday and Friday run concurrently. I’ll do some combination of running back and forth and simply choosing between the two panels for each session. I might not have any less blogging to do, but I’ll be doing it on overdrive. Highlights from each post will appear here, with links to the full story over at my cyber home-away-from-home, The New Civil Rights Movement. (You should check that site out anyway — it’s packed with information and opinion on LGBT issues. Site master David Badash is nothing if not relentless!)

You can get the full panel schedule here. (All of the Thursday and Saturday national panels are at the Doubletree Hotel.) It’s hard to choose highlights from among so many star-studded panels, but I’m especially looking forward to a few of them, viz.:

  • Tomorrow (5/3), at 7 pm is the National Transgender Panel. It features quite a diverse line-up of subjects of interest to the trans-community, judging from the panelists chosen. In my experience, the TG panels have been among the most reliably interesting, perhaps because, as a community, trans-people have been compelled to think about issues on a level of depth that is not always matched by the rest of our community. (There! I’ve said it.)
  • Also tomorrow, at 8:30, is the Featured Nation: Israel Panel. It features actual Israelis(!), including a city council member and a couple of LGBT tourism promoters. It’s moderated by Mazzoni Center Executive Director, Nurit Shein, who I’ll bet is more qualified than you to be on the panel — she was a career officer in the Israeli Army!
  • Friday at 4 pm, at the National Constitution Center, is the National Legal Panel. Get out of work early and go! Don’t make me repeat myself. They’ll be talking about Prop 8, DOMA, and (apparently) other issues of legal discrimination affecting our community. (I wish they would talk about civil unions, but that’s my axe to grind — and I ground it here.) The panelists are all good — a mix of litigators, policy-makers, and academics — but Bill Eskridge is especially worth the price of admission. He’s really good at explaining legal arcana to those who didn’t invest in a law degree.
  • Right after the legal eagles soar, the National Politics Panel takes the same stage (at 5:30 pm) to talk about the upcoming election and the political landscape. Will appeal to all political junkies of every party (all two of them here in the U.S.).
  • The full Saturday schedule is here. It’s chock-a-block, in part because that’s the day featuring collaborative panels with local organizations and interest groups. Based on my experience, it’s well worth poring over the local options, because you’re likely going to find something of major interest to you — almost every conceivable topic of interest to our community (broadly defined) is represented. There are also great national panels at 1 pm and 2:30 — again, two at each time, so you’ll have to choose (assuming you haven’t already picked a local panel!). Sports, Same-sex Marriage, Military — it’s all here. But perhaps most interesting will be the James Wheeler National Youth Panel, featuring a couple of young men who captured the popular imagination: Chris Armstrong, a U of Michigan student who was harassed by the creepy assistant AG of the state (but who fought back with a lawsuit that resulted in the firing of the jerk) and, most compelling, Zack Wahls. I could go on and on about him, but this will suffice:

There’s also a pretty good play, and more parties than you can shake a groove thing at! (Where…did…I…put…that…groove…thing?) Get busy!

Senior Moment

April 20th, 2012 No comments

In this post over at the New Civil Rights Movement, I take a critical look at a new affordable housing development for LGBT seniors for Philadelphia. It’s slated for move-in by late next year.

My brain is having fun thinking of the various senior activities such a place will host…any thoughts?

Christie, Civil Unions, and the Direct Democracy Fallacy (It Didn’t Work for Women’s Suffrage, Either)

February 20th, 2012 No comments

It’s all here! At the New Civil Rights Movement, a few hours ago.

Categories: civil unions Tags:

Analysis of Today’s Prop 8 Decision

February 7th, 2012 No comments

It’s over at the New Civil Rights Movement. Seems like the court, in its 2-1 decision, was trying to whisper directly into Justice Kennedy’s ear. Let’s see if it works.

Me and Socarides

January 22nd, 2012 1 comment

I know it should be “Socarides and I,” but the post title is catchier. Anyway, I will be on NPR’s Radio Times tomorrow at 10 am. (Here’s the link; you can listen then, or later via podcast. On radio it’s 90.9 WHYY in Philadelphia. I think it’s also on satellite radio but I don’t know the time.) We’re discussing DOMA, Prop 8, Obama and marriage equality, maybe civil unions (I hope).

Richard Socarides, if you don’t know, was a high-level Clinton advisor and is currently a hugely important figure in struggle for LGBT legal equality. What you’re even less likely to know is that his father, Charles Socarides, was an infamous homophobe who for years fought back (unsuccessfully) against the decision by the American Psychiatric Association to delist homosexuality as a mental disorder. I’m guessing there were some interesting dinner conversations….(or maybe not!)

New York Times “Room for Debate” Post

January 20th, 2012 No comments

I was just plain delighted to have been invited to participate in one of the “Room for Debate” forums with the New York Times. The question we were asked to address:

“If more couples considered monogamy optional, would divorce and cheating be less common, and unmarried cohabitation less attractive?”

Here’s a link to the front page; here, you can find my individual entry, which looks at alternative forms of relationship recognition (such as civil unions) as a way to refresh the debate about expectations within relationships. But the whole debate is fascinating.

The Homophobe Arena

January 16th, 2012 No comments

As the Australian Open gets underway, my thoughts naturally turn to…the Margaret Court homophobia controversy??

Yes. Would that it were not so, with so many interesting plot lines developing in the actual tennis itself. But a brightly colored group of gay fans (and their straight allies) have made their presence known at Margaret Court Arena, protesting Court’s recent, mean-spirited comments about LGBT people. I wrote about it for The New Civil Rights Movement.

And then the latest British hope (and therefore likely doomed never to win a major tournament), Laura Robson, stepped onto court wearing this:

Rainbow hair elastic ... Laura Robson caused a stir.

Patti Lupone Show Missing Only One Thing…

January 13th, 2012 No comments

…Patti Lupone.

So you think they’d have canceled the show when the star couldn’t/wouldn’t take the stage. No. Instead, Mandy Patinkin, taking the maxim “the show must go on” too much to heart, decided to mount a one-man show, moving from behind the piano to center stage. The result couldn’t have been worse had the blue haired dowagers in the audience (that is, most of the audience excluding the gay men) joined in.

But let’s talk about who did join in: Patinkin’s no-name son (well, his name is Gideon, but you get the point), whose slapdash appearance called out “Old Navy, 2007.” Gideon was the “surprise” that Patinkin promised at some point early in the show, doubtless hoping to keep some of us in our seats in the hope that someone more noteworthy (say, Joanne Worley) would bound onto the stage and launch into a show-stopper from “Gypsy!” Gideon was game, but…well, I don’t want to dump on him for trying to help his dad. (But bait me a bit and I will.)

And if there’s one thing this show needed (OK, there were many things), it was stopping. Patinkin routinely forgot lyrics, stopped songs in midstream, and dismissed the audience with statements like “I don’t give a shit.” At least he tried to make up for it with his appearance — an all-black ensemble that called to mind a central-casting cat burglar who’d just straggled in after an unsuccessful night.

After about an hour of this crap (which included a reading of the Gettysburg Address, punctured and deflated by musical interludes at several points), we’d had enough and demanded a refund. The theater manager, besieged by three fur-clad women on one side and my withering diatribe on the other, only offered token resistance. Less the Ticketron and other ridiculous charges, we got our money back.

But the show should just have been canceled. By the time we found out what was going on, it was curtain time and too late to seek a substitute. The theater obviously decided that they’d try to hold on to at least some of the audience with this Patinkin stunt, which amounted to little more than a sloppy rehearsal for a show you’d pay not to see. For this, we gave up a chance to see “The Book of Mormon.”

“Rick Santorum, Meet the Gallaghers”

January 3rd, 2012 No comments

In this piece just posted to The New Civil Rights Movement, I use a superficially silly comparison to the Showtime hit “Shameless” to make a broader point: Santorum’s positions are loco.

Opposite-Sex Couples Just Saying “No” to Marriage

January 3rd, 2012 No comments

My latest piece for Slate, just posted, is called “No to Nuptials” (I actually came up with the headline; blame me if you don’t love it. But of course you will.)

I interviewed some folks in Illinois who have just taken advantage of the nation’s first-ever civil union for opposite-sex couples law; their reasons for choosing civil unions over marriage are fascinating.

Please read, like, and…comment over at Slate.