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Breaking: Old White Guy From Louisiana Rules Against Marriage Equality (While Wearing A Dress)

Martin FeldmanIn Louisiana, Martin Feldman has become the first federal judge to rule against LGBT marriage equality since last year’s twin Supreme Court decisions overturning California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

You might’ve missed that, though, because when news outlets heard the details, most just shrugged.

That’s because an old, white, male, Reagan-appointee in the Deep South ruling in favor of bigotry is not news.

Despite the dozens of court victories we’ve had at the federal and state level since (and even before) Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, Feldman chose to break ranks with his estimable, equality-minded peers. Not only that, he did it in the most bigoted way possible: in his decision, he called homosexuality a “lifestyle choice”; he compared same-sex marriage to incest; he insisted that marriage is all about procreation (thus assuming that gays and lesbians can’t procreate); and he said that states have the right to discriminate on the grounds of “any conceivable basis”.

Really, Mr. Feldman? Any basis?

What’s more, Feldman went over and above the call of duty.  The case before him only involved the recognition of same-sex marriages conducted outside Louisiana. But Feldman expanded his ruling to affirm Louisiana’s sovereign right to prevent same-sex marriages from happening on its own turf. You know, just for kicks.

My opinion? Look, I’ve said before that I’m not a perfectionist. I’m not a detail person. I prefer working with chainsaws, not mitre saws. To keep the construction metaphor going: I’m like the guy who gets all the right permits from the city and bulldozes the condemned house. I’ll let detail-oriented folks come in and put up the new building.

Which is to say: it would’ve been nice to have a perfect record for LGBT rights in federal court as marriage equality cases work their way through appeals, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But even with Feldman’s misguided, off-tone, antiquated ruling, we’re still batting pretty near 1,000. I’m fine with that.

My only regret is that I’m not a fly. If I were — well, I probably wouldn’t live long enough to see the inevitable SCOTUS ruling, but on the off-chance I did, I’d love to perch on the wall of Feldman’s office as his decision is being overturned. I might even smile a fly smile as he sighs, realizing that times have changed, and he hasn’t adapted, and like a good loser in the Darwinian struggle to evolve, he should just give up. And then, he dies, with only his gay legal clerk for company.

P.S. I love the law, but I’m not trained in it. For a more detailed analysis of Feldman’s George Wallace-esque ruling, check out Ari Waldman’s take.

David Sedaris Confesses That He’s Sex-Phobic, Doesn’t Understand HIV Or AIDS

David SedarisI used to love David Sedaris. I mean that as literally as anyone who’s never met the man can mean it.

A decade ago, I even wrote an erotic short story about an orgy in which Sedaris played a central role. (Edmund White, Tony Kushner, and Langston Hughes were there, too. It was like the answer to a college admission essay question no college would ever ask: “If you could nail four gay authors from any time and place…?”)

Sadly, it’s now clear that Sedaris wasn’t suited for such fan fiction, because he recently told the world that he’s a bitter, jealous, sex-phobic prude.

In an article published by The Guardian, Sedaris recounts a recent conversation with his partner of 23 years, Hugh. He asks how many people Hugh had sex with before they were together.

Sedaris tops out around 28 or 30. Which I find a little surprising because even in Mississippi, I’d fooled around with that many people by the time I graduated college (if not before). Maybe Sedaris isn’t a very sexual person, but I’d think that he might’ve been a little more adventurous before he hit his mid-30s, met Hugh, and took himself off the market.

After Sedaris tallies the notches in his bedpost, he watches Hugh count higher and higher. As though that’s surprising. As though having sex is a bad thing. As though it’s a moral failing.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sedaris is a comic writer. It’s clearly meant to be humorous.” I agree, except the way it’s written, we’re meant to be on Sedaris’ side, not Hugh’s.

That’s driven home when he gets to the really offensive part, the part about HIV and AIDS.

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Truvada: Another Pill For Sluts

Here’s a little something I wrote for the relaunched Nightcharm.com.

It’s kind of weird to see today’s critics of Truvada making the same arguments as critics of The Pill in the 1960s. Or even foes of the more recent HPV vaccine. Then again, there’s something timeless about being a prudish, judgy, short-sighted asshole.


Some people hate Truvada. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, famously dismissed it as “a party drug,” as if that’s inherently a bad thing. (Then again, I think of champagne as a party drug, so what do I know?) But neither Weinstein nor his fellow critics can deny the science behind Truvada, and that science now says that the drug is virtually 100 percent effective at stopping HIV.

Instead, Weinstein et al. make moral arguments against Truvada — the same moral arguments used 50 years ago to prevent women from taking control of their own bodies and sexual lives. Those arguments were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.

The truly moral thing to do is to remember the millions of people who would never have suffered, never have died, if they’d had the chance to take Truvada. The truly moral thing to do is to get the drug into the hands of the still-living and still-HIV-negative.

Let me repeat: Truvada is the most effective HIV-prevention tool on the planet. As with any other tool, users have to follow instructions, but if you’re able to do that, Truvada is Plan A for guarding against HIV. Condoms, serosorting, and all the other good and not-so-good strategies people use, those are Plan B….

[Continued at Nightcharm.com, which is far more safe-for-work than it used to be]

The Only Other Man I Know Who Idolized John Chancellor

John ChancellorWhen I was young — and maybe when you were young, too — there was a newscaster named John Chancellor.

I loved him.

Of course, I didn’t think of it as love. (That came later, when I first saw Al Parker.)  But there was something about John Chancellor that I found comforting and reassuring. He was manly, but not in the usual, Mississippi way I knew, which was related to fishing and spark plugs and ogling women. He was manly simply because he was a man — a confident, intelligent, articulate, handsome man.

Also, he looked a lot like my dad, but he was a version that I could’ve gotten along with — unlike my actual dad. (Footnote: we’ve since become good friends, dad and me.)

And he had great glasses. The first pair of eyeglasses I ever bought were horn-rimmed numbers like the ones he often wore. They looked terrible on me, but I loved them anyway.

John Chancellor died in 1996, when he was just 68 years old. Even though he hosted the evening news on NBC for more than a decade — back when NBC, ABC, and CBS were America’s only options for TV news — he never achieved the kind of superstardom that, say, Walter Cronkite or Tom Brokaw or David Brinkley earned during their careers. Chancellor was a news anchor, not a personality. In some way, I guess that made him interchangeable with all the other news anchors on television: replaceable.

I feel as though he’s been forgotten. As though I might’ve dreamed him up. (Google isn’t helping: I tried to find a decent-sized image of the man and discovered that the pickings are oddly slim.) But then I stumbled across this tiny paragraph in a years-old profile of one of my other quiet crushes, Zach Galifianakis, and I thought: I’m not the only one.

“My husband and I had no doubt Zach would go wherever his dream would take him…When he was three or four years old, he named his stuffed Easter bunny John Newman for John Chancellor and [Edwin] Newman, NBC [Nightly] News co-anchors. Around the same time, he pointed to the TV screen and asked, ‘How do I get in there?’ I guess we always knew he would eventually figure that out.”

— Zack Galifianakis’ mother in Paste magazine

Bad Optics & A Lack Of Compelling Visual Imagery: This Is Why Marriage Equality Opponents Are Experiencing An Epic Fail

NOM's 2014 March for MarriageLast week, the National Organization for Marriage hosted its annual March for Marriage. I didn’t go, but as I understand it, there wasn’t much marching. However, there was lots of talk about marriage — what it is and what it allegedly isn’t — so they got it half right.

Unfortunately, that’s about all they got.

They didn’t get the “tens of thousands” of supporters they’d hoped for — maybe a thousand, if you count the speakers.

They didn’t get coverage in the news — except from LGBT sites, which tended to write about the small crowd and the wackjobs at the podium.

And most importantly, those wackjobs made it clear that they didn’t get the nuances of marriage equality and how it’s different from other social issues. The best example came from NOM’s Brian Brown, who compared the fight against same-sex marriage to the fight against abortion.

Those are two very different battles, with two very different sets of tools for activists. The differences perfectly — and literally — illustrate why conservatives have been able to win a little ground on the abortion front but have made absolutely zero progress in their fight against marriage equality.

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