Like all gay things over 22, the Broadway Grill would like to announce its death:
With great sadness, The Walsh Creative Group, the current owners of the iconic 22 year old Capitol Hill bar, restaurant and show venue, The Grill on Broadway will close its doors this Sunday night, April 28, 2013 and cease business operations. Despite a recent upturn in business and community awareness, due to improved food, service and entertainment options, severe financial obligations imposed by previously un-discovered mechanical, structural and operational issues associated with the business, prior to The Walsh Creative Group's takeover in 2010, have resulted in additional, unforeseen expenses that have totaled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Broadway Grill—later renamed the Grill on Broadway—was a shamelessly proud anchor for Seattle's gay culture in the 1990s. It had a racy menu of grilled chicken with whipped yams, a glass chandelier that looked like Carmen Miranda's headgear on steroids, and a plastic clientele that looked like Carmen Miranda's backup dancers on Social Security. It played that role when gay people needed a safe place for a date, when flamin' waiters needed a place to be flamin', and when drunk homos needed eggs at 2 a.m. But the Broadway Grill seemed stuck in a time warp years after the Seattle scene needed a designated safe LGBT space. Us fags could date anywhere, work anywhere, live anywhere, and meet online. The place had become a relic of gay culture. Also, ordering at the Broadway Grill for a couple years there felt like playing Wheel of Fortune and hoping it didn't land on salmonella.
But the Grill was unmatched in Seattle in its day—and for that many of us fags are grateful. Thanks for all the super fun, super faggy times, Broadway Grill. And thanks to Matthew Walsh, who owned it and ran it well through in its last incarnation. See y'all for one last drink there this Sunday night. We should pack the place.
Today the Eastern Washington couple is following through with a threat they made last week to a florist who cited her "relationship with Jesus" as reason to refuse service to their same-sex wedding. Freed and Ingersoll had given an ultimatum to Baronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers & Gifts, that said she could settle the issue by apologizing in the local newspaper, promising to never discriminate again, and paying $5,000 to an LGBT youth center (in lieu of attorney's fees). But Stutzman's deadline passed yesterday—and she'd said nothing—so they are suing her this morning in Benton County Superior Court.
(I've posted a copy of the lawsuit here.)
Stutzman violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits businesses from denying goods or services on the basis of sexual orientation, and the Consumer Protection Act, says the suit, filed with the backing of cooperating lawyers at the ACLU of Washington. The couple is asking a judge to bar Stutzman from future acts of discrimination, paying for unspecified damages, and covering their attorney’s fees.
It’s not a decision they came to lightly.
I spoke to Freed and Ingersoll on the phone last night to discuss plans for a case that has already become national news and what is quickly becoming the country’s highest-profile clash between gay rights and religious liberty. (The case escalated after the State of Washington took the unusual step of filing a consumer protection lawsuit against Stutzman, as The Stranger first reported.)
“We’re on the sofa with three dogs, so if you hear someone moaning, it’s not us,” joked Freed on speaker phone. He explained that since Stutzman refused to sell flowers in early March, “We were asked questions about why we hadn’t done something sooner.”
“We did a lot of soul-searching through the process,” Freed continued. “It wasn’t arrived at without a lot of internal questions. When it comes down to it, we deeply feel that she has done to us is wrong, and we don’t want it to happen to other people." The couple explained that they volunteer for the Vista Youth Center, an LGBT community organization that helps at-risk kids, and they said thinking of those kids motivated them to file the lawsuit. As an established couple (Freed, 43, is a faculty member at Columbia Basin College, and Ingersoll, 42, is a manager at Goodwill), they felt securely positioned enough to take on a legal battle for all the people who couldn't. “Thinking about those kids who live a fragile life… something like this happening to them might question whether they should continue to live. We hate to think about a situation like this happening to them. If they have new fruitful love, they get engaged, and then have these doors close on them, it just seems really unfair.”
Naturally, Stutzman is the one who thinks this is a really unfair.
When asked for her reaction earlier this week, Stutzman told me she was feeling "peachy keen," but she deferred to her legal team for comments on the lawsuit.
Snohomish County lawyer JD Bristol is leading a dozen attorneys and six organizations to represent Stutzman (which may include the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Policy Institute of Washington). Reached Tuesday, Bristol said he plans to litigate against the state's lawsuit and is prepared to fight the couple in court, calling their settlement offer "extortion." Bristol insisted the flower shop "loves their gay customers," as proven by the fact that they served the couple before the wedding, and "now it's the homosexual groups forcing their values on others."
As I've written in the past, employees of religious institutions in Washington state and elsewhere are often exempt from state and federal anti-discrimination laws, which means they can be fired at will for things like getting pregnant or contracting HIV.
Or, as Slog tipper Stephen points out, for mentioning their same-sex partner in an obituary:
Students and others are rallying behind a teacher who they say was fired from a Catholic school in Clintonville after listing her female partner’s name in her mother’s obituary.
A petition posted yesterday on change.org seeks the reinstatement of Bishop Watterson High School physical-education teacher Carla Hale. It has gained about 2,600 signatures.
... According to a contract between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.” Messages left for a diocese spokesman were not immediately returned this morning.
Lindsey Perkins of Dublin, a 2001 Watterson graduate, said Hale is a family friend who taught at the school for 19 years and was fired after a parent complained to the diocese about the obit, which was published in The Dispatch.
Following up on The Dispatch's reporting, I tried calling Bishop Watterson High School and the diocese to confirm Hale's termination and get their official explanation for why the 19-year veteran teacher was fired, but was shuffled off to voicemail in both instances. I'll update the post if I hear anything back.
You can sign the change.org petition—which now has over 4,000 supporters, for what it's worth—or feel free to send your own polite inquiries about Hale's reported termination to Bishop Watterson High School administration right here.
I was prepared for religious conservatives to start thrashing back when Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday against a florist who refused to sell a gay couple flowers for their wedding. Right on cue, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) tried to canonize Baronelle Stutzman, who owns Arlene's Flowers & Gifts in Richland, Washington, by saying she's "being forced out of the public square." Then the Family Policy Institute of Washington jumped in to decry the state's anti-discrimination law, which is used as the basis for the lawsuit and was passed in 2006, as "bad then... bad now." The group, naturally, is trying to help Stutzman's legal defense.
I also expected a backlash against Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who were turned away on March 1 due to Stutzman's "relationship with Jesus," for threatening to file their own lawsuit. Ingersoll and Freed announced Wednesday that Stutzman must choose between apologizing, promising to never discriminate again, and paying $5,000 to an LGBT youth center or facing a civil rights lawsuit. As the ACLU, the state's attorney general, and lots of other lawyers have argued, the couple is entitled to bring an anti-discrimination case for being denied service based on their sexual orientation in a place of public accommodation (the same way a business can't deny service based on a client's race, religion, or gender). But NOM cited one of my recent posts about the couple's potential suit to make the point "whenever marriage is redefined, it’s the end of full religious liberty."
Because, you know, any shopkeeper in America should be able to use the Bible as their sole justification for turning away gays. That's the same way they tried to use the Bible to bar women from voting booths and mixed-race couples from wedding chapels. Even though they lost those fights, this—flowers for gay people—this is the end of all religious liberty.
I'm used to this brand of crazy.
But I wasn't expecting so many murmurs from other people—gay people and liberal people—who are tsk-tsking Attorney General Ferguson and the couple. These critics are prolific in social media and comment threads saying that legal action against Stutzman will just fulfill the bigots' prophesies, or that gay-rights activists are playing into NOM's hand by making Stutzman a martyr. They say this is the wrong lawsuit over a non-essential transaction. They say it's a mistake.
"This is just becoming the stupidest thing ever," one commenter writes on Slog. "Why couldn't they just go to another florist and give the rest of us a heads up to boycott this joint? You want a written apology? Really? Instead this crap is going to be dragged to the courts, and get all the other anti-gay nut jobs all worked up about the threat we pose to their freedom of blah blah blah."
And another one wrote: "If this plays out poorly—and let's face it, how else is forcing a poor grandma to violate her church instead of buying flowers from the shop next door going to play out?—then we'll set back the culture war at least ten years."
As a friend of mine also wrote to me about the couple's lawsuit, "Let's not pretend this is in the same ball park as a segregated lunch counter. This is just piling it on, perpetuating the 'Christian victim' meme."
Then there's another person who said that even though the "florist is a bigot," the strategy should be to "Embarrass her. Boycott her. Vote with your wallet. But speaking only for myself, I'd rather we save the legal, financial, and cultural resources that we've amassed for bigger battles than this. I'd rather we sue the bastards who fire us for being gay."
I'm sorry, but mal-fucking-arkey.
The Christian right may have set up that stupid political framing—"We'll be denied our precious right to discriminate!!"—but it doesn't mean they actually get to discriminate. It also doesn't mean progressives should roll out the red carpet the first time some hateful Bible thumper turns away gay customers. Activists and lawmakers hustled their butts for over a decade to include sexual orientation in our state's anti-discrimination statute. We went to the mat to pass gay marriage. What's the point of those victories if we're willing to give up what we've just won? Who are those laws for if we turn our backs on the people being refused service? We didn't pass those laws as feelgood keepsakes for gay-ol' Seattle, where we don't need 'em. Those laws are essential for the gays toughing it out in the hateful hinterlands. Failing to sue would set a precedent that the anti-discrimination law—which Senator Cal Anderson fought his entire career to pass, it bears mentioning—isn't worth shit because the gays are too fucking cowardly to enforce it.
Still, some fags are mewling that lawsuits aren't the the way to win the war of public opinion, that we should be fighting bigger battles. One of my friends said we should consider public accommodations to be necessities, like hospital visitation or lunch, but not flowers.
But this isn't about flowers.
Jonathan Eig, one of the best sportswriters out there, did today what he does best: reframe the question.
The ongoing controversy over whether Manti Te'o is gay, homophobic comments by NFL players, and so on, along with the release of 42, the new movie about Jack Robinson and Branch Rickey integrating MLB, led Eig to ask a new question: not, When will some gay athlete come out while still playing professionally? No, he asks:
What if [some team owners] made it a mission to discover and sign the first openly gay player? What if an owner told his scouting department to find such an athlete, and made it clear to the athlete that he was committed to his success on and off the field, as Rickey did for Robinson?
Would it matter if the owner were motivated in part by the desire to make money? Would it matter if he were trying to broaden his team’s fan base? Would it matter if he were responding to political pressure?
The Seattle Seahwawks reached a deal with Brady Quinn yesterday to serve as their new backup quarterback, just two weeks after Seawhawks defensive end Chris Clemons made headlines for saying gay players should stay in the closet. What's Quinn's history with the gays? Let's look to this mention from 2008 in The Plain Dealer:
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn was part of a group of men shouting insults at gay passers-by outside a Columbus bar early on New Year's Day, according to a 9-1-1 call made to police. ... On the 9-1-1 call, Harris said that "Brady Quinn from the Browns" was "trying to cause a fight." Harris told the operator, "I just walked outside and he exchanged many profanities with me and called me a faggot, of course."
Quinn, who is sure to find a buddy in Clemons, also stumped for John McCain when he ran for president.
Welcome to town, bro!
After five weeks of biting their tongues, a gay couple in Richland, Washington, is making a loaded offer to a florist who refused to sell them flowers based her biblical belief that "marriage is between a man and a woman."
Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed's lawyers, working with the legal powerhouse at the ACLU of Washington, sent a letter today to Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman saying she has two options: (1) She can vow to never again discriminate in her services for gay people, write an apology letter to be published in the Tri-City Herald, and contribute $5,000 to a local LGBT youth center, or (2) she can get sued for violating the Washington State Civil Rights Act.
That's some offer.
This would be the second lawsuit against Stutzman, who was sued by the state yesterday in Benton County Superior Court for discrimination under the consumer protection act. And given Stutzman's stubbornness thus far, these two cases may be on track to become the country's biggest gay-rights-versus-religious-liberty battle to date.
"Your refusal to sell flowers to Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed for their wedding has hurt them very deeply. It is a disturbing reminder of the history of discrimination and disparate treatment that they and other gay men and women have experienced over the years," write the couple's lawyers at the firm Hillis, Clark, Martin, and Petersen, who then add more sharply, "More to the point of this letter, your conduct was a violation of Washington law."
The legislature prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2006, and the lawyers say that "any person injured by an act in violation of the Washington Civil Rights Law is entitled to bring legal action."
But by all apparent signs, Stutzman will refuse to budge.
Any lawsuit against Stutzman will be met with "an immediate challenge in federal court," according to a letter her lawyers sent to the state's attorney general Monday. Stutzman's lawyers—who indicate thay want to make this a major test of moral conscience legal defenses—contend that she is entitled to exercise her religious convictions and that arranging flowers is an act of personal expression; any demands or limitations on those expressive flower arrangements is a violation of right to free speech.
Ingersoll and Freed's counsel appears to address that argument today, writing in the letter—a powerful letter that I uploaded here and you should read—that "we respect your beliefs and your right to religious freedom. However, we live in a diverse country, and religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, may not be used to justify discrimination in the public spheres of commerce and governance. Instances of institutions and individuals claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion are not new. Religious beliefs have been invoked to justify denying women the right to vote; to prohibit men and women of different races from getting married; and to support segregation in schools, businesses, and other public places. Just as courts have held that those forms of discrimination are not permitted, even on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs, so is discrimination based on sexual orientation unlawful."
Stutzman could stop this action if she wants, but it seems unlikely she'll comply by an April 17 deadline. She refused to take up Attorney General Bob Ferguson on a far less onerous option yesterday (just promise to never discriminate again). So at this rate, it appears Stutzman will be facing two lawsuits: One from the state as a consumer protection suit and this one by the aggrieved party, represented by lawyers working with the ACLU of Washington, which, it bears mentioning, is very good at winning.
In an unusual legal maneuver, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit today against a florist in Richland, Washington, who last month refused to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding because of her "relationship with Jesus."
As The Stranger reported at the time, Arlene's Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman told Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed that she refused to do business with them—or "participate in the wedding," as she called it—because she believed as a Christian "that marriage is between a man and a woman."
Filed in Benton County Superior Court, the lawsuit (.pdf) alleges that when Stutzman refused to provide goods or services on the basis of sexual orientation in a place of public accommodation, she was violating the state's anti-discrimination law and was, therefore, also violating laws designed to protect consumers. As a business that sells wedding flowers to opposite-sex couples, the AG's office argues, it must provide the same wedding services to gay couples.
The case is set to emerge as the first major test of anti-discrimination protections since Washington State voters legalized same-sex marriage last fall. It is also a rare—if not unprecedented—instance of the government initiating a discrimination suit. With the florist's lawyers apparently itching for a fight, the case seems poised to reach the state supreme court, or even federal courts, as a test of conservative legal defenses in the name of religious liberty and moral conscience.
Ferguson acknowledged in an interview with The Stranger today that filing the lawsuit this way is unprecedented; anti-discrimination suits must be brought by the Washington State Human Rights Commission or the aggrieved party. But as of this week, neither had taken action. Ferguson says he has legal authority to file the suit as a consumer protection case because the alleged discrimination occurred "in a consumer setting."
"Right now she's getting away with it, and that sends the wrong message to all the businesses around the state," said Ferguson.
The AG's office had offered to avoid a lawsuit by giving Stutzman an opportunity to sign a contract that, in essence, would agree to "not engage" in the discriminatory practice in the future, according to a letter sent on March 21 (.pdf).
But instead of agreeing to the terms, attorneys for Stutzman fired back their own missive (.pdf) to state lawyers yesterday that appeared to lay out the crux of their legal defense. Stutzman claimed that "discrimination is not the issue," but rather that she is entitled to exercise her religious conscience and that arranging flowers is an act of personal expression, and as such, any restriction on how and where she sells flowers arrangements infringes on her First Amendment right to free speech.
'Mo-Wave is a queer punk music and art festival organized by Seattle's dirtiest and most discerning culture curators, and if you weren't at Velocity Dancer Center on Sunday for Deviance in Motion, a showcase curated by Pacific Northwest Ballet's Andrew Bartee, you've already missed some of it. Among the deviant delights that were on display: Cherdonna and Lou playing with knives, Matt Drews and Ariana Bird romping around topless and in fishnets, an incesty female duo involving corn syrup, a captivating solo by Velocity star Kate Wallich, and two men calling themselves Salami Bros. in a "slowest naked" contest. (Neither of them had eaten in 24 hours, and under the rules of the performance, they had to be in the act of continuously removing their clothing, the loser being the one who was fully naked first, the winner getting a slice of pizza.)
The rest of 'Mo-Wave is this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Stranger music editor Emily Nokes sat down with festival organizers and got a hilarious earful about how crappy most queer festivals are, and what sets 'Mo-Wave apart. Representative quote: "Mainstream gay pride parties pretty much offend every sense and sensibility I have." That piece is in tomorrow's paper, but we've published it a day early on our website so you can start planning your weekend.
Oh yeah, and 'Mo-Wave's official schedule is right here. Go!
We are disappointed by the recent comments posted on Twitter by the Seattle Seahawks' defensive end Chris Clemons regarding the prospect of an active NFL player coming out as gay. Clemons's characterization of the act of coming out as "selfish" and of a player's sexual orientation as being something that "should be left at home" is out of step with the diverse community of fans throughout the Pacific Northwest who support the Seattle Seahawks franchise. While Clemons is entitled to express his views, we call on him to reexamine his remarks, particularly in light of the offense they have caused.
We also call on the Seahawks to maintain a strong and visible stance in favor of equality and inclusion in the workplace.
We were encouraged on August 11, 2011 when the Seahawks issued a joint press release with the Seattle Storm, Seattle Sounders FC, and the Seattle Mariners announcing the creation of an “It Gets Better” video by members of each team. The press release declared that inclusiveness, fair play, and diversity are core values shared by each of our city’s pro sports teams, with Peter McLoughlin, president of both the Seahawks and the Sounders, stating that “We believe our role in the community is very important. This video provided an opportunity for all the professional teams to come together and offer a message of hope and encouragement to our young fans.”
Especially after their participation in the It Gets Better Project, we are disappointed that the Seattle Seahawks organization did not act more quickly to distance itself from Clemons' remarks, and to reinforce its commitment as a Washington state employer to providing a workplace that welcomes and supports diversity for its players and other employees. We are pleased by the Seahawks' subsequent statement that they would welcome an openly gay player to the team. We hope they will continue to consistently offer a message of hope, fairness, and inclusion to their fans, players, and other employees beyond a simple online video.
We all know there are gay players in the NFL. The fact that no active NFL player has ever come out is directly related to concerns about how teammates, fans, and team owners will react. Every franchise needs to lead by example and make it clear that openly gay players are welcome and that anti-gay discrimination will not be tolerated.
We are proud that Washington state has some of the strongest workplace protection laws for its LGBT citizens. That said, more needs to be done to educate people about the importance of an inclusive workplace. We were encouraged by the strong support from the business community for Referendum 74, where businesses large and small publicly declared the value of a work environment accepting of all employees regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Seahawks—and any other sports team, business, organization or group—to start a meaningful dialog and education regarding workplace equality.
Slog Tipper Oliver just sent us this post from the Dallas Observer about Texas A&M—a university the post's author, Patrick Williams, calls "the intellectual center of bubbadom." Take it away, Williams:
One week—one!—after the U.S. Supreme Court heard hopeful, moving arguments in cases that could advance gay and lesbian people one step closer to full personhood under law, the university's student senate is poised to take a symbolic leap backward in bigotry with a bill that would allow students with religious objections to opt out of paying the share of their student fees that fund the school's GLBT Resource Center.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the student bill was originally called "The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill," but was rewritten a bit (after an outcry) to the "Religious Funding Exemption Bill.” The school's student senate finance chairman, Fernando Sosa, says that since after the rewrite, it "doesn’t target any specific group... I now support it" because "students should be able to decide where their money goes." Brilliant logic, my friend! Student fees should be completely à la carte. For example, if I were a Texas A&M student, I'd definitely want to make sure none of my student fees funded Mr. Sosa's work with the school senate, since I have a religious opposition to bigotry. Actually, I have a religious opposition to the systematic underfunding of our education system that makes school fees and tuition so high in the first place, so I'd like an exemption to paying for any of it in the first place, thanks so much.
Thankfully, if the student bill passes, it looks like it won't actually be mandatory for the school's administration to enforce it—it's more of a recommendation from the student senate. Unfortunately, a Republican state representative wants to take the issue to the state level. From that Chronicle story:
Zedler, a Republican from Arlington, filed an amendment to the state’s general appropriations bill, SB 1, that would prohibit public colleges and universities from using state funds to fund “Gender and Sexuality Centers”. Zedler’s bill alleges these campus resource centers “support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, Hepatitis B or any other sexually transmitted disease.”
Zedler’s office did not return call for comment. Zedler first gained notoriety for leading a grassroots blockade against a Hooters restaurant set to open near his neighborhood in Arlington and was subsequently elected to the Texas House in 2003.
So, I was alerted to the fact that some Chicago Bears memorabilia—a signed Brian Urlacher jersey and a signed Walter Payton photo—will be featured in a raffle being held at one of the NOM offshoot bigotry franchises.
I wrote the following to the Bears. Waiting to hear their answer; also writing to various sports columnists in the Chicago media to see if I can stir something up.
Dear Bears Management:
I am writing regarding the news I recently received that some Chicago Bears memorabilia has been donated to an organization that promotes bigotry and intolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
Can you tell me if the Chicago Bears donated this memorabilia for their raffle? If so, can you possibly explain the justification? I understand that anyone can donate an autographed jersey, and it's not clear if the Bears are directly involved, but the conference organizers are claiming that you are.
Given the recent brouhaha over homophobic comments made by a Seattle Seahawks player, I would appreciate having this issue clarified.
Did Bears management donate this material? Does Bears management support the bigoted message of this organization?
If so, why?
UPDATE: The Chicago Bears have responded.
Update at 7:25 p.m.: After a day dodging questions, plus hearing an outcry from fans, the Seahawks are finally distancing themselves from a player's anti-gay remarks and saying an openly gay player is welcome on their team. See below for details.
Original post begins at 12:45 p.m.: It's been a week since Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons blew up sports pages and gay blogs when he said a gay player coming out of the closet would be a "selfish act" that will "divide the team." His point was clear: The gay player rumored to be coming out soon should stay in the closet. Seattle Seahawks management has been silent. I called and e-mailed their communications office about a dozen times to ask if the team believes it would be a selfish, divisive act for a player to come out. Do they think gay people ought to stay in the closet? Or just gay football players?
I finally heard back this morning.
"We're not going to comment," said Seahawks spokeswoman Suzanne Lavender. "You know, it's just his personal view."
The Seahawks are dodging the issue—the opposite of what the San Francisco 49ers did when they encountered a similar problem in January. When Chris Culliver, a cornerback on the 49ers, said gay players weren't welcome on the team, the 49ers management came out the next day with a full-throated denouncement: "The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday," they said in a statement released in January. "There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.”
Why won't the Seattle Seahawks take a position on Chris Clemons's anti-gay comments?
"We haven't gotten that many fan comments so we are not going to make public comment," Lavender explained. But she refused to provide a phone number or an e-mail for the fans to comment. So apparently this is how it works: The team gauges whether it needs to make a statement based on how many fans comment, but—pysch—there's no way for fans to comment.
The team—and its fans—wouldn't stand for a Seattle Seahawk saying that a black, Asian, Jewish, Native American, or Mormon player would "divide the team." If Clemons can make this argument about his NFL team, with the implicit support of the Seahawks, then high school and college players can make the same argument about their team. Players at the UW could say Huskies need to stay in the closet or students at Garfield High School could say Bulldogs need to stay in the closet.
Just like the 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks play ball in a very gay-friendly town—a gay friendly town that voted to provide public financing for their $430 million stadium (and a chunk of that money is coming from gay taxpayers)—so why can't the team's spokespeople muster the courage to denounce Clemons' bigoted statement? Or, at the very least, publicly disagree with Clemons? Right now we have one statement from the Seahawks about openly gay players: "Not welcome in Seattle."
I know, some fans will downplay Clemons' comments, they'll say it's not the team's problem, they'll say that in football the rules of HR are sent to the sidelines and players need to shut their yaps. Sorry, haters. Gay people deserve the same rights to be honest about their relationships as straight people, no matter their profession. Gay people in football or any other job shouldn't have to live in silence and fear. Clemons was trying to bully a player from coming out. Again, unacceptable.
And the Seattle Seahawks are being complicit by being silent.
So long as the Seahawks let Clemons's anti-gay comments stand unchallenged, the team is condoning his bullying and giving its implicit blessing to treating gay people as second class workers. But they don't have to. The NFL recently recognized players—the former NFL commissioner gave an actual award—to players who have come out in favor of LGBT rights. NFL star Chris Kluwe has been aggressively supportive of gay rights, and in this guest piece on CNN yesterday he called bullshit on the idea that gay players create a distraction.
The Seattle Seahawks represents our city—and Clemons is representing their position. We shouldn't stand for this bigotry. But before the Seahawks will speak out against anti-gay comments from one our players, according to Lavender, they need to hear from us. Since they wouldn't give me a number, you can call them on the same communication office phone lines I called them on. (Again, those numbers here.) You can also tweet at the Seawhawks here.
Be polite, be firm, and ask them to stand up for LGBT civil rights and LGBT players.
UPDATE at 1:35 PM: No big surprise, but the Seahawks apparently took down the contact page for their communications staff (it's not loading any more). But I took a screen shot of it ahead of time—because I figured they'd do this. So here it is: [Update at 7:25 p.m.: Now that the Seahawks have answered, I've pulled down their contact info.]
UPDATE at 2 PM: The Seahawks head coach Pete Carrol announced, coincidentally before I posted all this, that he's taking questions on Twitter. Many praises to Carlos d'Avis, who pointed out this tweet:
UPDATE at 5:47 PM: Lavender just called to express her disappointment in this post, saying it mischaracterized their position, but she couldn't articulate the problem with it. I pointed out that the Seahawks have never disapproved of anything Clemons said or staked out a different position. "Wow. Bless your heart," she repeated four times. So I asked again if the team had a different position from Clemons—does the Seahawks management want any gay players on the team to remain closeted?—and she agreed to e-mail me a statement. I hoped the statement would make Seahawks management's position clear. It does not:
The Seahawks organization is guided by overall principles of acceptance and understanding that help us create a culture of respect, equality and inclusiveness both on and off the field. It is our goal to use these core principles and our commitment to passion, character and excellence to empower change within our community. We, as an organization and as individuals, represent and respect a wide range of human differences, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds. We have already begun to follow-up with every fan that contacted us earlier today.
The Seahawks are still avoiding the issue.
They're saying, essentially, that the Seahawks respect everyone and people can disagree. I can't imagine the Seahawks would say the same if a player said something anti-Semitic or racist. But since it's gay people and players we're talking about, the best the Seahawks can do is a mealy-mouthed statement that doesn't answer the obvious questions. Here they are again:
1. Do the team's coaches, managers, and owners want any gay players who might be on the Seahawks to remain closeted?
2. Would the team's coaches, managers, and owners regard a gay player's coming out as a "selfish act"?
3. Would the team's coaches, managers, and owners think a gay player's coming out as "divisive"?
Basically, all of the questions boil down to this: Does the team agree with Clemons or not?
We're still waiting for some clarity from Ms. Lavender on that. Bless her heart.
UPDATE at 7:25 p.m.: Ms. Lavender replied to my questions (the third time I've asked), saying that "we don’t agree with what he said." When I asked by e-mail again if they would welcome an openly gay player on the team, she said unequivocally, "Yes."
Good job, Seahawks!
Hey, everyone. Fuck-up time. In today's Stranger Suggest, I recommend going to Julia's on Broadway to watch Jinkx Monsoon watching herself on RuPaul's Drag Race. This weekly viewing party is hosted by BenDeLaCreme, who spends commercial breaks asking Jinkx hilarious and gossipy questions. I've been before and it's fun and you should go. But! You should know that, if you go tonight, Jinkx Monsoon will not be there, alas, as she is in Chicago this week.
Should you still go? Absolutely. BenDeLaCreme will be there, hosting and performing and being hilarious and looking great, and an extra-special guest drag queen will be there too: Major Scales, the drag persona of Richard Andriessen. As you know if you are in the know, Major Scales and Jinkx Monsoon are real-life roommates, so expect some really juicy gossip about dishes and laundry and who takes longer showers. According to a source, Julia's is working on getting the technology to work to Skype Jinkx into the viewing party tonight, but that is not guaranteed.
May I recommend one more time to get there early? Get there early. It gets crowded fast.
It turns out that Seattle Seahawks defensive end Christopher Clemons thinks gay people ought to live in a locked closet. Clemons took to Twitter this week, as Towleroad and others have reported, to preemptively denounce the NFL player rumored to be coming out of the closet. Here's his Twitter feed:
So Clemons may not be a homophobe, exactly, but Clemons is a certifiable anti-gay bigot. He thinks that gay people need to live-a second class life and have second-class careers, one where they don't have relationships in public. He's also arguing that integrating teams would be so, so bad for American sports. Because as we know, dividing a team and creating a controversy is obviously the worst thing that can happen in sports—remember when Jackie Robinson divided his team and ruined baseball?
If you were to ask me, THIS is the frickin' headline of the day:
Son of Westboro Baptist Church leader attacked on live TV by naked 500 lb man who burst out of bathroom, sat on him and shouted: 'Who's your daddy now?'
And who was this 500 lb. naked man? Seattle's Billy The Fridge, of course. See more of his NSFW exploits here.
Then read the whole article about the Westboro stunt, a SFW article on the dailymail.co.uk. It includes a really bizarre addendum to the story:
Robert Garrison, described as 'a 30-year-old sado-masochist from Florida', will be hammered onto a giant wooden cross behind a glass window in view of passersby at Battlecam TV's headquarters in Los Angeles...
...Mr Garrison [a gay man] will be left impaled by 12 inch nails for several hours while users of Battlecam TV's social networking website are invited to comment.
Watch the video after the jump. The naked Billy fun starts at the 1:33 mark.
The whole world has gone mad.
Ezra Klein elegantly knocks down Justice Antonin Scalia's suggestion on Tuesday that gay marriage will harm children:
According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, 400,00 children are living in the United States without permanent families — or, as they’re more commonly called by the children, “forever homes,” a term that breaks my heart every time I hear it.
More than 100,000 of these children are, right now, eligible for adoption, which means they can’t go back to their biological families. On average, these children will be in foster care for three years before being adopted. Twenty percent will be in foster care for more than five years.
Foster parents are, in most cases, genuine heroes. But being in the foster-care system is not easy for children, or good for them. A world in which more of these children can go to loving, stable forever homes faster is a better world.
The idea that there is something so wrong with same-sex households that it would be preferable for these children to go two or four or six years without permanent parents — an idea, again, that has little to no evidence behind it, and that is in fact contradicted by most of the evidence — bespeaks a homophobia so deep that it is hard for me to believe it could persist long among people who actually know any children in the foster system, and who actually know many gay couples.
You gotta read the whole thing.
• "I don't see why he doesn't have the courage of his convictions," Chief Justice John Roberts said this morning, referring to President Obama. This statement came early in today's oral arguments over the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as solely between one man and one woman. In fact, it came before the merits of the constitutional question were even discussed. It came during briefing and argument on the first of two procedural questions—whether the Obama Administration's enforce-but-not-defend policy regarding DOMA Section 3 left this case without the requisite features of an Article III case or controversy. Some of the justices, including Chief Justice Roberts, seemed particularly troubled by the Obama Administration's decision to enforce DOMA while refusing to defend the law's constitutionality in court. Here is a fuller version of Chief Justice Roberts' comment: "…[T]he Executive's obligation to execute the law includes the obligation to execute the law consistent with the Constitution. And if [the President] has made a determination that executing the law by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don't see why he doesn't have the courage of his convictions and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, 'Oh, we'll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.'"
• Justice Breyer suggested, in response, that the president's policy might be based on a sound reading of the Take Care Clause, which says that the president shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. In other words, according to Justice Breyer, the president's thinking may be that "because I have this obligation... I will continue to execute this law. I will continue to execute it though I disagree with it. And I execute it until I have an authoritative determination not to."
• Other Justices wondered whether this type of policy would undermine congress's assurance that its laws would be properly defended in court. Chief Justice Roberts asked, "What is the test for when you think your obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed means you'll follow your view about whether it's constitutional or not or you won't follow your view?" Justice Scalia took a similar tack when he asked, "So when Congress enacts a statute... it has no assurance that that statute will be defended in court, if the Solicitor General in his view thinks it's unconstitutional?" These justices were seemingly not persuaded by the similarities between this case and prior cases in which previous presidential administrations have also refused to defend laws they believed violated the Constitution. Chief Justice Roberts distinguished those prior cases on their facts, which for him meant that this case was "totally unprecedented. You're asking us to do something we have never done before to reach the issue" of whether DOMA is constitutional. When the government's lawyer responded that "it's unusual, but not at all surprising," Chief Justice Roberts reiterated, "No, it's not just—it's not just unusual, it's totally unprecedented."
• On the question of DOMA's constitutionality, Justice Kennedy quickly cited DOMA's massive impact on married same-sex couples. In an exchange with Paul Clement, the attorney representing the House Republicans who stepped in to defend DOMA's constitutionality when the Obama Administration refused, Justice Kennedy pointed out that Section 3 of DOMA "applies to over, what, 1,100 federal laws." Given the number of federal benefits predicated on marriage, it "means that the federal government is intertwined with the citizens' day-to-day life," putting the federal government "at real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody." For Justice Kennedy, that seemed to mean that while DOMA may undermine equal protection principles by denying important benefits to couples with valid marriages, it may also suffer from the fact that it intrudes into the prerogative of the states to set the terms of their own marriage laws.
• Clement tried to argue that DOMA was motivated not by animus, but rather a mere desire for a uniform definition of marriage in the face of state experimentation, but Justice Kagan pushed Clement on his claim to an animus-free rationale. She noted that "for the most part and historically, the only uniformity that the federal government has pursued is that it's uniformly recognized the marriages that are recognized by the state. So, this was a real difference in the uniformity that the federal government was pursuing. And it suggests that maybe something—maybe Congress had something different in mind than uniformity. [W]e have a whole series of cases which suggest . . . that when Congress targets a group that is not everybody's favorite group in the world, that we look at those cases with some—even if they're not suspect—with some rigor to say, 'Do we really think that Congress was doing this for uniformity reasons, or do we think that Congress's judgment was infected by dislike, by fear, by animus, and so forth?' I guess the question that this statute raises, this statute that does something that's really never been done before, is whether that sends up a pretty good red flag that that's what was going on."
• Justice Ginsburg did not seem persuaded, either. DOMA "touch[es] every aspect of life. Your partner is sick. Social Security. I mean, it's pervasive. It's not as though, well, there's this little federal sphere and it's only a tax question. It's—it's—as Justice Kennedy said, 1100 statutes, and it affects every area of life." Once a state recognizes the freedom of gay and lesbian couples to marry, "for the federal government then to come in to say no joint return, no marital deduction, no Social Security benefits; your spouse is very sick but you can't get leave . . . one might well ask, what kind of marriage is this?"
Joseph Landau, a former assistant managing editor at The New Republic, is an associate professor at Fordham Law School. He's been covering oral arguments at the Supreme Court for The Stranger this week. His summary of yesterday's arguments about Prop. 8 can be found here.
The Wall Street Journal is liveblogging oral arguments this morning. So is the New York Times. You can also follow along with the SCOTUSblog Twitter account here, although there's not much up there right now. Law professor and Stranger correspondent Joseph Landau is there at the Supreme Court and will have a recap and some analysis of today's arguments later today on Slog.
Joseph Landau, a former assistant managing editor at The New Republic, is an associate professor at Fordham Law School. He's covering oral arguments at the Supreme Court for The Stranger this week.
Today the court heard arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which addresses whether California’s Proposition 8—a ballot initiative amending the state constitution to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman—violated the U.S. Constitution. As you probably know, a federal trial court struck down Prop. 8 as violating the guarantees of due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. The state decided not to appeal the decision, and a group of private defenders stepped in to champion Prop. 8 and come to its defense.
The court spent considerable time on whether Prop. 8's private defenders have the requisite “standing” to appeal the decision. It then moved on to the constitutionality of Prop. 8 itself. It is never a good idea to make predictions about a case based on what one hears during the arguments, so I'm not going to do that. But there were some fascinating exchanges, and perhaps a few surprises, that I highlight below:
• The Justices seemed surprisingly cold to two distinctive middle-ground alternatives that the plaintiffs, several amici, and the U.S. government championed. The first of these arguments, often called the "one state" or "California only" solution, focuses on the Prop. 8's unique effect within the State of California—specifically, that it took away the right of same-sex couples to marry after the California Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution guaranteed them that right. (Eighteen thousand same-sex couples were married during that period, and those marriages remain in effect today.) The Ninth Circuit adopted this very rationale—perhaps in the hopes of appealing to Justice Kennedy. The second, slightly broader argument is that the nine states that currently provide comprehensive domestic partnerships or civil unions to same-sex couples—i.e., all the benefits of marriage without including those same-sex couples within the actual definition of "marriage"—place a badge of inferiority on them by excluding them from that critical institution. As Ted Olson, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, put it during oral argument, "It is like you were to say you can vote, you can travel, but you may not be a citizen. There are certain labels in this country that are very, very critical."
• Neither Justice Kennedy nor the other justices appeared to be persuaded by Olson's argument for a middle-ground solution. Instead, several of the justices seemed uncomfortable with a ruling that, on the one hand, states making some progress on gay rights (by providing domestic partnerships) would have to go all the way, while those providing no benefits get off scot-free. As Justice Kennedy put it, the Ninth Circuit "basically said that California, which has been more generous, more open to protecting same-sex couples than almost any state in the union, just didn't go far enough, and it's being penalized for not going far enough. That's a very odd rationale on which to sustain this opinion."
• Justice Kennedy asked whether the prohibition on same-sex marriage could "be treated as a gender-based classification," adding, "It's a difficult question that I've been trying to wrestle with." This is a meaningful question because it revives an issue that featured in the trial court's opinion but not in the Ninth Circuit's ruling. The argument, which gay-rights advocates have made for years, is that the exclusion of gay and lesbians from the institution of marriage imposes a kind of sex-based discrimination by prohibiting men from doing something that women are allowed to do (that is, marry a man), and prohibiting women from doing something that men are allowed to do (that is, marry a woman). Some LGBT advocates find the argument unsatisfying because it downplays the extent to which prohibitions on same-sex marriage are really about sexual orientation discrimination, yet the argument could have appeal because it builds on a body of Supreme Court cases that have held gender-based classifications to exacting scrutiny. Interestingly, the justices spent very little time asking questions regarding whether the Court should apply that same standard—known as "heightened scrutiny"—to sexual-orientation-based classifications, despite the fact that this argument has been championed by both the plaintiff couples and the federal government, both as an amicus in this case, and as a party in tomorrow's case, Windsor v. United States.
• Justice Kennedy asked about the children of same-sex couples.
Slog tipper Blake knows what's good. On the Lord's day, he writes to us about gaywithoutgod.com, "a newly founded, locally operated, international, grassroots resource for gay atheists who see religion as a destructive force in the world." Take it away, Blake:
In short, gaywithoutgod.com is not only (but perhaps most importantly) a refuge for gays who have been discriminated against by religion but is also a place generally for gay atheists to rally together and bond over a shared vision of of the world: namely one comprised of a society that is secular, rational, and rooted in a science-based view of the world.
Gay w/o God was founded in Seattle about six months ago and is operated and contributed to not only by (but perhaps most importantly) local gay atheists but also contributors across the US and UK. The website is growing quickly with members across the globe, but most of the members reside in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. It is our vision to grow into a vocal force, grouping together with other like-minded organizations in fighting religious bigotry and intolerance.
For your interest, this is a recent post by Seattle local Jay Gillman: "Finding the holy faggot atheist within"
We thought your readership (who happen to be our peers) would be interested in knowing about and supporting this homegrown, grassroots community.
Thanks for your interest,
The gay rights movement has worked hard to recruit religious leaders and congregations in order to inoculate itself against the Christian right. And that's all well and good—it's smart politics. But I suspect that a lot of gays like me—gays who were raised super duper Catholic or under another superstitious order—would rather not pretend that our moral high ground comes from snuggling up to Sky Daddy. So why not? Why not band together as gaytheists who believe in gaytheism? Why not kneel at the altar of science and critical thinking? Lord knows we like to kneel... so you can join 'em.
If it's too much to dismiss an almighty altogether, the website explains, "The hostility of Christianity and other religions towards homosexuality is not a reason to shed one’s belief in God."
What do we call those people? Fagnostics.
“Proponents of same-sex marriage have done a fantastic job of telling the story of same-sex marriage through music and television and film,” said Eric Teetsel, 29, the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, which describes itself as a movement of Christians for life, marriage and religious freedom. “I think it’s really a case where once they hear the other side of the issue, and really think about it deeply, we’re going to win a lot of those folks back.”
Uh huh. Really, it's a case of Mr. Teetsel and his group having just given America a perfect new name for a gay bar: The Manhattan Declaration.
Why you shouldn't go to her upcoming Seattle concert right here. Funny how she's for the Occupy Movement, but is now aligning herself with these frickin' numbnuts. Enjoy your Bitch Burger, Michelle. Eat it up, yum!
Every Jinkx Monsoon fan needs to see this week's Untucked (the half-hour behind-the-scenes sideshow that accompanies RuPaul's Drag Race). Especially anyone who cares about the relationship between adversity and art, between the forces that shape an artist and the artist's work. Jerick Hoffer has said that Jinkx Monsoon is based on his mother, but he hasn't talked about his mother very sincerely, at least this publicly, until this week. It's prompted in this Untucked by all the queens seeing pictures of each other as toddlers. Skip ahead to 12:14 if you're in a hurry.
This is difficult stuff to discuss among friends, to say nothing of discussing it among strangers ON TELEVISION. Over e-mail, I asked Hoffer what it was like watching himself this week. Here's what he had to say:
When I finished filming Drag Race, I was worried how this could affect my mother. Eventually they had her sign a confidentiality form so that I could talk to her and get her consent to be a part of the show... and it kinda made us face a conversation that we had been ignoring for a long time. A lot of healing has happened since I got back from filming.
I was still quite nervous to see the end result, post editing and all that, but I think it was handled with tact and grace.
The moment Untucked was done airing I got on my phone to text my mom "I love you," only to see she had beat me to the punch. I had a text message from my mom stating her love and her apologies, but also how proud she is of me, to say nationally that I forgave her for the hard times and am more focussed on my future than my past.
It was a doozy of an evening. Honestly, there were moments that were hard, but since the episode, the cries of support and the messages that have come my way from people who have similar life stories... that has made it all worth it.
The thing is, my mom and I have a great relationship today. Maybe not always traditional mother and son dynamics, but it works for us.