It may not be a high profile marriage case, but to those 2,000-plus same-sex couples who’ve registered in Wisconsin, Appling v. Walker is a case that’s poised to have a tremendous impact on their lives.
LGBT leaders are fond of declaring marriage equality the “civil rights issue of our time.”
This is rather arrogant, because it ignores a number of ongoing struggles for freedom that are equally compelling and involve the fates of millions of people. Because October is Disability Awareness Month, I will address that struggle. It is really “our” struggle because any of us — due to injury, illness or quirky chromosomes — can develop a disability at any time.
One of the key questions that plagues the LGBT equality movement in Wisconsin and beyond is the question about whether it is better to be “grassroots” or an “a Capitol insider” playing the game of politics.
In my opinion, playing one strategy off the other is a red herring that undermines our collective ability to move forward.
In 1973, 10 years before employment rights for LGBTs were adopted by the state, a Dane County judge upheld the firing of Paul D. Safransky by Southern Colony, an institution for children with disabilities, due to Safransky’s homosexuality. Safransky was not accused of any misconduct, yet the judge declared: “We do not think that the institution has to wait for something bad to happen when an employee such as plaintiff flaunts his unorthodox conduct and there is even a hint that he might go farther than talk about it.”
“Valentine Road,” a heartbreaking and disturbing documentary screened at the Milwaukee Film Fest, explores eighth-grader Brandon McInerney’s 2008 slaying of fellow classmate Letisha King at EO Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif.
Still exploring her sexuality and her gender at the age of 14, Letisha hadn’t openly identified as transgender at the time of her death. The filmmaker, interviewees and the media continue to refer to her as Larry King and use male pronouns, but I am going to refer to her as she requested in her last days.
Perhaps the most under-worked journalists at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics were those tasked with spotting any protests by athletes. Since Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and their fellow, far less famous Olympians didn't yell "Free political prisoners!" or wave Tibetan flags, the reporters had little or no meat for stories.
Next February at the Sochi Games, protest-watch reporters should be free to hit the bars early, too. As in Beijing in 2008, chances are slim-to-nil that significant numbers of winter Olympians will kick up a big fuss against Russia's assaults on gays and their freedoms.
American culture is schizophrenic about sex: promiscuous and repressed; kinky and coy; salacious, insecure, hypocritical, clueless. We live in a sex-drenched culture that, paradoxically, is sex-stupid. No wonder everybody’s in a muddle.
You’d think the proliferation of sex manuals, sex therapists, sex videos, sex clubs, sex products, sex surrogates, sex drugs, phone and online sex, sex research and sex education would make us more informed and satisfied. A number of studies suggest that it just makes us more anxious and confused: Am I getting too little? Am I doing it too much? How can I tell her/him what I want? Am I too vanilla? Too kinky? What’s wrong with me?!
When Chelsea Manning came out to the world as transgender this past week, the jokes started almost immediately. As Bradley Manning, she had become famous for her involvement with WikiLeaks, for which she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. With the jokes came the confusion, the doubts and the suspicions. Even within the community, people wondered if she was only coming out as transgender to avoid the prison at Leavenworth. People wondered if she is “really” transgender, or just pretending to be in order to avoid the kind of punishment she would receive as a man.
Two elected leaders, two different political backgrounds, one common goal – to build an inclusive community for LGBT people.
Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna, a self-proclaimed “fiscally and socially responsible” leader whose endorsement is often sought from GOP candidates, successfully introduced domestic partner benefits for city employees in 2011. Two years later, Outagamie County Executive Thomas Nelson is leading a similar effort at the county level.