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Yesterday brought us two very moving and heartfelt diaries on the subject of coming out of the closet. I noticed and acknowledged both of those diaries but I think there is a further point to be made on the subject.

I began this as a comment on one of those diaries but it seemed to me that perhaps it might be better to address as a separate post...beyond the fold.

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I started writing this as a C&J comment but it seems long enough to form its own diary.

Mobile County Alabama Probate Judge Don Davis is trying to get all of the current federal marriage equality cases affecting the state (and not so incidentally, him both as regards his position AND personally) placed on hold pending the Supreme Court's eventual June ruling on the Sixth Circuit cases. Plaintiffs in one of those cases, Strawser vs Strange, who remarkably initially won a favorable ruling in their own case even though they represented themselves (they were simply too poor to afford counsel) are now being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (disclaimer: I have several friends who work for NCLR). Counsel has now filed a brief opposing Davis's request that is rather monumental in destroying all of Davis's arguments while simultaneously, if only indirectly, schooling the Alabama Supreme Court. One of Davis's problems is that the federal court has issued a (non-stayed even by the US Supreme Court) decision enjoining him from enforcing Alabama's ban on marriage equality while the state Supreme Court has issued a ruling requiring him and other probate judges to continue enforcing the law. The short version of plaintiffs' brief? "Sucks to be you, Judge Davis." Federal court rulings cannot be overturned by state court rulings and once a law is found to be facially unconstitutional that finding applies not just to the plaintiffs but to all who are similarly situated and there isn't even any debate on the matter.

The brief is terrific. It's not very long and is well worth reading.

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Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 03:54 PM PDT

A Strange Thing Happened When I Retired

by sfbob

I retired just over a couple of months ago, right at the beginning of the year. In the run-up to that much-anticipated date I figured I'd be posting more diaries and commenting here more often. But for some reason that has not been the case; in fact it has to some extent gone in the other direction. I hope nobody here will assume I'm about to launch into a rant about the Great Orange Satan. That's not going to happen; in fact I still like it here just fine.

(EDIT #2: The basis for this diary is a comment I posted in Cheers and Jeers a few days back in which I noted my somewhat diminished participation here of late.)

I'm going to go directly over the break for a quick meditation on unanticipated consequences.

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Mon Jan 05, 2015 at 04:40 PM PST

RIP Bess Myerson

by sfbob

The first and thus far only Jewish Miss America has passed away at the age of 90. Not incidentally she grew up in the same neighborhood as my mother did; she was a year older than my mom and two years younger than my aunt, both of whom knew Myerson slightly when they were kids. I remember my mom speaking quite highly of her when I was young since she insisted on not changing her name to something "less Jewish-sounding" in order to advance her career.

Not a lightweight by any means, she used her award money to study music at Julliard and at Columbia. She was a well-known game-show contestant and was active in Democratic politics in New York, once running unsuccessfully for the Senate and later on holding cultural affairs positions in the administration of mayor Ed Koch. Apparently during her time in the latter position she was embroiled in some sort of scandal which pretty much ended her political career.

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Hat tip to our own Scottie Thomaston, pasting posting at Equality on Trial.

The Supreme Court has just REJECTED Florida's request for a stay on a federal district court ruling overturning that state's marriage equality ban.

The link was slow to load but here it is!!!!

Quick background. District Court ruled in one of multiple challenges to the Florida's marriage equality ban that the state's ban was unconstitutional. A temporary stay was issued which expires at 1/5/15 at midnight. State AG Pam Bondi requested an extension from the Eleventh Circuit. She was turned down. She requested one from Supreme Court Justice Thomas who referred it to the full court. The court (with Thomas and Scalia dissenting) declined to extend the stay.

Not only do we have a good idea as to how the Eleventh Circuit will ultimately rule, we also have a pretty good idea as to how the Supreme Court will rule when they eventually--but hopefully soon--hear a marriage equality case.

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Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 08:52 AM PST

World AIDS Day 2014

by sfbob

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. I first joined Daily Kos in 2006. At first I posted only comments but on December 1 of that year I posted my first diary using World AIDS Day as a topic. Since then I have tried, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to continue the practice of posting a WAD diary; I believe I missed only one year.

Like most of my previous efforts this one will mainly be a personal one rather than a global, political or statistical survey though trust me there will be some of that as well. I started this diary without having any clear idea of how I would conclude but as I put the finishing touches on it (it's just before 9 a.m. Pacific Time on Monday morning now), I will note that I have already answered one question: why do I continue to write these diaries. As of a couple of moments ago I didn't see any others on the topic; so it's down to me for one simple reason: Silence equals death.

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What will you do to observe World AIDS Day?

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As is generally the case with "breaking" stuff, this diary will be brief. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has just just released an opinion upholding marriage equality bans in four states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

I will give you one quote from the opinion, which I haven't yet read.

What remains is a debate about whether to allow the democratic processes begun in the States to continue in the four States of the Sixth Circuit or to end them now by requiring all States in the Circuit to extend the definition of marriage to encompass gay couples. Process and structure matter greatly in American government. Indeed, they may be the most reliable, liberty-assuring guarantees of our system of government, requiring us to take seriously the route the United States Constitution contemplates for making such a fundamental change to such a fundamental social institution.
My prediction is that the plaintiffs in these cases will IMMEDIATELY petition the Supreme Court for certiorari. Doing so would essentially guarantee a court ruling during the 2014-2015 term since it represents the circuit court split Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said was needed for the Court to take any further action.

As an aside, if the above represents the majority's view on equality, their views are contemptible. The decision was made on a 2-1 basis. As a further aside, the fact that this opinion was released two days after Election Day shouldn't be viewed as a coincidence.

UPDATE: The attorneys in DeBoer vs Snyder have already announced that they will go directly to the Supreme Court. It appears that Michigan AG Bill Schuette is actually in favor of that move.

Attorney General Bill Schuette defended the ban in Friedman’s court. He’s all for the Supreme Court settling the issue – “for Michigan and the country.”
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LGBT Literature is a Readers and Book Lovers series dedicated to discussing books that have made an impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. From fiction to contemporary nonfiction to history and everything in between, any book that touches on LGBT themes is welcome in this series. LGBT Literature posts on the last Sunday of every month at 7:30 PM EST. If you are interested in writing for the series, please send a Kosmail to Chrislove.
This review will (I hope) be part of the Readers and Book Lovers series and in particular the sub-portion of that series devoted to LGBT-themed literature.

Let me get the important stuff out of the way first: The book is so good it is almost scary. I first read it a couple of months ago and subsequently recommended it to my local book group. And then I asked to contribute this piece as part of the LGBT literature stream within Readers and Book Lovers. It's not that unusual for me to reread a book I've enjoyed. I cannot tell you how many times I've read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series over the years. Still I'd typically consider a second reading of a book  so soon after my initial reading as sort of a slog. But not in this instance.

Continue beyond the Fleur-de-Kos for some background and discussion.

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Sat Oct 25, 2014 at 09:51 AM PDT

RIP Jack Bruce

by sfbob

Just happened to hear this reported on the local news here in SF and confirmed with the first news site I could think of (not my favorite but it was handy), bassist Jack Bruce, one of my musical heroes, has passed away at the age of 71.

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About an hour ago, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued a statement saying he would not request a stay of the yesterday's federal district court decision striking down the state's marriage equality ban. Horne ordered county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples immediately.

The first couple has now gotten married and the reach of equality has been expanded a bit more.

UPDATE: The Supreme Court has denied Alaska's request for an extension of the 9th Circuit's stay on a pro-equality ruling from earlier this week and marriage equality is now the law there as well.

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Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 12:59 PM PDT

The Hatch Act...

by sfbob

...and what it means for how I function here.

The Hatch Act, originally passed in 1939 and updated periodically, defines what political activities a federal employee may and may not engage in. I've been a civil servant for a long, long time and I always figured I knew all about it. Today I received a brief refresher; you never know what you don't know.

I always knew I couldn't run for office in a partisan election, can't use my job to promote a party or partisan candidate, can't wear a campaign button for a partisan election at work, can't use my position to influence co-workers or clients with respect to partisan elections. I can't make political donations during the work day, even if I'm using my personal smart phone and even if I'm working from home. I CAN make donations after hours. I also can't do phonebanking even off-hours because that implicitly includes soliciting support and possibly donations and that is always forbidden, even if I'm not using my title or agency affiliation.

The rules are less strict for non-partisan elections as long as there is no endorsement or funding from a political party. (So in an area like San Francisco, even the supposedly non-partisan local positions are probably off limits because the Democratic Party endorses candidates all the time and you really can't win without that endorsement.) Ballot measures are okay since they are issue-based rather than partisan. And some of the rules are relaxed a bit more in Washington, DC and some surrounding communities, presumably based on the assumption that to do otherwise would unduly limit opportunities for elected office in areas where large segments of the public work for the federal government. Some political appointees have additional restrictions that apply them, while still others are permitted to engage in activities that most other government employees may not.

I have no problem with any of the above, in fact I appreciate it, because it means that my supervisors and colleagues may not attempt to influence my vote either. It creates a list of topics which is pretty much off-limits in the workplace and I'm good with that.

Some of the rules are amusing. I can have a coffee mug with a picture of the President on it at my desk, because the President is not running for re-election and cannot do so in the future. On the other hand, in the unlikely event I were so inclined, I could NOT have a similar mug on my desk indicating support for a former Republican candidate, based on the assumption that that person might run again in the future.

I try to be a good employee. Still, it is interesting to find out that I cannot "Like" Facebook posts for specific candidates or parties, whether I'm at work or not. I would assume this means I cannot tip or recommend posts here relating to specific candidates or parties. I assume I can comment. So if you don't see me tipping or rec'ing those posts, it's not because I've changed my views.

In 86 days I will be a retired federal employee and, as far as I know, none of the above restrictions will apply to me any longer.

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In this morning's entry at EqualityOnTrial.com, I found this link.

One state legislator is already thinking about making a distinction between same-sex marriages and other marriages in adoption cases. Rep. Kraig Powell Monday raised the question of the parental rights of a biological father when the mother is in a same-sex marriage, and he brought up the term "pairage" as a possible way to distinguish between the same-sex and opposite-sex marriage.
I really don't know what Mr. Powell is thinking. Having disposed of civil unions and domestic partnerships, not to mention "separate but equal" in terms of access to education, does he think this will lead to anything other than a new and successful legal challenge? Republicans are supposed to be the party of fiscal responsibility--or at least that's what I thought. How does guaranteeing a long and expensive court battle over an issue that has already been settled possibly comport with that?
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