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Many, Many Points
for Us

Many, Many Points
for Us


It was a good week for gays in the news as Ellen and Portia marry, Rachel Maddow gets her own TV show, even Karl Rove says same-sex marriage is no longer a wedge issue, and Esquire asks the question, "What makes a lesbian top?"

It's a major moment when the most mainstream of celebrity mags, People, devotes its cover and many pages inside to the highest-profile gay wedding of our time, that of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. It helps that the pair are supremely telegenic and Ellen has gone from showbiz pariah to media darling, but the accomplishment is no less astounding when you consider that we are just a few months from one of the most important elections of our time and shamelessly flirting with an issue that helped sink the Dems just four years ago.

Mark Pasetsky's Cover Awards calls the moment "historic." He writes, "When you see this cover of People magazine hitting newsstands on Wed, take a second to let it sink in. It's Ellen DeGeneres getting married to Portia de Rossi on the cover of People. Who would have ever thought that we would see this day? For all the lesbian and gay partners in the United States, this is more than a magazine cover. It's another sign that this country is finally getting its act together and treating all people as equal." He ends his piece by praising People editor Larry Hackett.

DeGeneres's marriage wasn't the only hallmark event in gay and lesbian news making the papers. The California supreme court is seemingly unstoppable, issuing another historic ruling this week. Weighing in on a case against conservative Christian doctors who used the First Amendment as a cloak, the court ruled that doctors can't refuse treatment based on religious grounds. In the original case, the doctors (giving all Christians a bad name everywhere) refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian, ostensibly because she was unmarried. This story was carried by many major outlets, including, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times.

Guadalupe T. Benitez of Oceanside sued the doctors when they refused to perform the insemination. She lives with her partner. The Los Angeles Times reported that Christine Brody, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, refused Benitez's request because "her religious views prevented her from providing the procedure to a lesbian."

Benitez told the Times, "This isn't just a win for me personally and for other lesbian women. "It's a win for everyone because everyone could be the next target if doctors choose their patients based on religious views about other groups of people."

A Times report from three years ago says Brody and fellow doctor Douglas Fenton refused to perform the procedure because Benitez was single, not because she was gay: "The physicians asserted that they would refuse to artificially inseminate any unmarried woman, regardless of her sexual orientation."

The Times continued its run of great GLBT coverage with a piece about gay marriage and the black vote and a new ad that is indirectly about the forthcoming vote on Proposition 8 -- which aims to ban gay marriage again in the state. In Timothy Stewart-Winter's op-ed piece about the black vote he ponders Barack Obama's black supporters coming face-to-face with the gay marriage question. Stewart-Winter thinks all this fretting might be much ado about nothing. He posits, "When constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage were on 11 state ballots in November 2004, blacks in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio and Oklahoma were at least one percentage point less likely than whites to vote for them, according to CNN exit polls. Only in Georgia were blacks slightly more likely to vote for the amendment. (The remaining four states had too few blacks to make a meaningful comparison.)"

He also cites a study by Gregory B. Lewis of Georgia State University that concluded "blacks appear to be more likely than whites both to see homosexuality as wrong and to favor gay-rights laws."

The story about the anti-Prop. 8 advertisement running on TV in California -- which depicts a man and a woman meeting a million and one physical obstacles at the altar before ending by asking the question, "What if you couldn't marry the person you love?" -- addresses whether the advert violates federal laws restricting campaign ads by tax-exempt organizations. Produced by Let California Ring, the ad has no mention of Prop. 8, but Frank Schubert, leader of the pro-Prop. 8 effort, quipped, ""It ain't for wedding gowns. Of course it is a campaign ad."

Gay congressional candidate Jared Polis, who bankrolled his own campaign, won his primary in Colorado. The New York Times noted that if he's elected in November, he'll be one of only three openly gay or lesbian members of Congress. The Times quotes Polis as saying, ''I think this sends a signal to young gays and lesbians across the country that they can consider a career in public service and they shouldn't be scared away from that merely because of their sexual orientation." The article also noted that Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis, celebrated together at the victory party.

On America's Next Top Model, the first transgender contestant, Isis, has been grabbing headlines in her hometown of Washington D.C., telling The Washington Post, "My cards were dealt differently."

In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed two bill backed by Equality Maryland, giving same-sex partners property and medical decision-making rights. Notes the Post: "Montgomery County lawmakers posted the highest pro-gay rights scores."

In New York's Newsday columnist Saul Friedman has a piece lauding AARP, in part for its sponsorship of the fourth annual SAGE National Conference on Aging Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders, with the theme, "It's About Time -- LGBT Aging in a Changing World," to be held in October in New York City. The article notes that in the next 25 years, the proportion of seniors in the U.S. population will grow from 12% to 20% and that most LGBT elders "will face the older years alone; many will have no partner, family or children to help care for them."

Out TV and radio commentator Rachel Maddow made headlines by getting her own prime-time television show. This news prompted no less than an effusive meltdown from Salon's Rebecca Traister. Headline: "It's a Maddow Maddow Maddow Maddow World!" Subhead: "Rachel gets her own show! "Rachel gets her own show! Rachel gets her own show!" OK, we get it, you really, really like her. Traister writes, "Think about it: In the United States, in 2008, brains and liberalism (in a woman, no less!) have just been rewarded. Promoted. Given their own show."

In less harmonious celesbian news, the entertainment gossip website (for which I am a contributor), points out the not-fun side of gay relationships and equality: money. It cites a National Enquirer piece about the split between Jodie Foster and Cydney Bernard (her partner of 14 years), possibly costing Foster up to $25 million.

In the heartland, the residents of Milwaukee and its suburb of Waukesha will be treated to a new ad campaign featuring pictures of gay citizens, with the goal of educating people about gays and challenging negative stereotypes. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Tim Clark, president of the Cream City Foundation, sponsor of the Gay Neighbor initiative, who called the campaign "a historic event for our city." (It's worth noting that Wisconsin had the nation's first gay rights law, enacted in 1982.)

Mum's the word: that is, if you are conservative and the issue of gays in the military arises. Human Events Online notes that "conservatives have essentially abandoned the public debate on gays in the military, leaving an uncontested field to liberal activists who have seen national poll numbers rise in favor of letting professed homosexuals wear the uniform."

The piece quotes conservative activist Robert Knight as saying, "I don't think it's too late for conservatives to rally behind the military and support the ban." However, the recently introduced legislation to repeal the ban is supported by the Democratic majorities in Congress and, according to polls, by a majority of the general public.

The Los Angeles Times asked the Mind of Evil himself, Karl Rove, whether gay marriage will have the same effect in this presidential election as it did last time. Rove said, nope this time won't be the same. Rove told the paper, "The bigger issues will be the economy, terrorism, healthcare, energy."

He even denies that he orchestrated the anti-gay-rights campaign to coincide with Bush's reelection effort. Times blogger Dan Morain writes, "For many voters, it's an article of faith that political consultant Karl Rove orchestrated the 2004 ballot fight over same-sex marriage to help push conservatives to the polls. In the process, the theory goes, those voters helped George W. Bush win reelection.

Rove takes a somewhat different view. He says backers of same-sex marriage started the fight by filing suits and winning a supreme court decision in Massachusetts."

An addendum to the Larry King tragedy: The parents of the 15-year-old cross-dressing, possibly transgender teen who was murdered last year are suing the school for not enforcing the dress code. The AP story was picked up by some outlets, including CBS, Denver's Rocky Mountain News, and the Tucson Citizen, but got less play than expected, considering the story was recently a cover piece in Newsweekand The Advocate.

On a lighter note: Jason Steele of the Chicago Tribune's Red Eye pub poses the question, "How far would you go for a straight friend? Bachelor bash invite gives gays pause." He writes that while he's never been to a bachelor party, for all the awkward reasons (doesn't really like breasts, isn't straight, etc.), "I'll admit, however, that it might be interesting to see how straight guys behave in that element. My guess is that it's the same way gay men behave in a similar element (albeit male strippers instead of female): loud, obnoxious, drunk and handsy. Boys will be boys."

The September issue of Esquire has an unintentionally hilarious yet earnest piece in its sex section by Stacey Grenrock Woods that poses the question, "In lesbian relationships, is one partner typically dominant in bed?" For the answers Esquire turns to sex-toy store owner Claire Cavanah of Babeland and Felice Newman, author of The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, who go over butch/femme 101 for the straights. This sentence (from Newman) actually appears in print in a mainstream mag: "If I'm a top, and I walk into a bar or a local women's center or the Smith College student union and I want to pick up a bottom, I walk in exuding my top energy. I might have a bit of a swagger."

(Sadly, it's not online.)

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Tricia Romano