Good Christian belle

Gay ally Kristin Chenoweth talks about her new country music CD (she adores Dolly!), queers … and the right way to be a Christian

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO KRISTIN | The performer has conquered stage, recording, TV … and uniting gay rights with her faith.

Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t get miffed very easily. But when she does, watch out. Last year, after Newsweek published a commentary on the inability of gay actors to play straight roles, she wrote an extensive letter to the magazine, calling the article “horrendously homophobic.”

But Chenoweth’s allegiance to the gay community goes back to growing up in Oklahoma — a place she returned to for her latest album, Some Lessons Learned, the first of four where the opera-trainer singer fully embraces her country roots.

We had lots to talk about when we caught up with Chenoweth, on a dinner break from shooting her upcoming series, Good Christian Belles. She discussed her history of dating gay men, her opinion on Michele Bachmann’s support of gay conversion clinics … and being a little bit wicked.

— Chris Azzopardi

………………………..

Dallas Voice: Your character’s name on Good Christian Belles is Cockburn — Carlene Cockburn. Chenoweth: I can’t wait for my family to hear that one. Are you kidding? I was like, “Wait a minute…!” But I just think the most important thing for me as an actress, because of the lines that come out of my mouth, is to just have to speak them and keep going, because they’re so funny and her name is so funny and the whole thing is just so great. I love it.

Does your character have anything in common with April Rhodes, who you play on Glee? Probably not on paper, but they’re both pretty outlandish people. Carlene, though, is the antithesis of April.

You grew up in Oklahoma, so country music is your roots. How is your new album a reflection of that? It’s so funny, because I get asked, “Why a country album now?” But that’s how it all began for me. Of course, why would anyone know that? It’s not something I’ve been talking about a lot, but it’s the music I grew up listening to. One of my biggest influences is Dolly Parton, and when you look at the history of songs in musical theater and in country, they’re both usually great storytellers.

I know just how lucky I am to do this kind of music. Getting to go to Nashville and sing this music that feels like home to me was a real gift, and one that I don’t take lightly.

The song “What Would Dolly Do?” reminds me a lot of Dolly herself. I co-wrote that. [Producer] Bob Ezrin asked, “Who’s had the biggest influence on you country music-wise?” I said, “Dolly, without question.” And he said, “How would she approach it? Let’s think: What would Dolly do?” I said, “Bob, why aren’t we writing that song?”

There’s something about her that I feel very attuned to. There’s only one Dolly. I’m not comparing myself, but I’m just saying her spirit and the way she looks at life is pretty similar to me. And the cover I did of hers [“Change”] is actually a very emotional thing and it reminded me — of course, how could I ever forget? — what an amazing songwriter she is. You know, I didn’t do a lot of covers. I did two covers, one of Carrie [Underwood] and one of Dolly’s, and I just love both of them. I love their music, I love their spirit — everything they stand for.

It makes total sense, because, to me, both you and Dolly epitomize happiness. Oh my god, thank you. That’s the biggest compliment you could give me.

So, being so happy… what pisses you off? Oh, gosh! I don’t really get mad that often. But I’m not going to lie: When I do, there’s a quiet that comes over me that is a little like whoa, and that happens when I don’t feel other people are prepared or doing their job or pulling their weight. I come from a family where my dad came from nothing and worked hard to get where he is, and he said, “Work hard, play hard, Kris,” and I guess that’s kind of been my motto in life. So when I see people squandering opportunities or having a sense of entitlement, that really makes me crazy. Because I don’t understand it. It’s not a world I get.

One thing that does make you upset is homophobic people. I don’t like that, you’re right.

Your letter in response to that Newsweek column said it all. Why was it important to address your feelings on that issue? To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen. I was on Broadway doing Promises, Promises, and I read the article and I actually thought it was pretty irresponsible. I’m not even talking about whether a person agrees with being gay or not, I’m talking about artistry and gay

actors trying to play straight. It just made me mad, because I thought, “Well, I’ve played a prostitute, does that mean I am one? No.” I just thought it was a little bit of a bullying thing, and I honestly prayed about it — no kidding, I prayed about it.

And by the way, I’m a big fan of the magazine, which is why I was so bummed. But I think that they felt bad and hopefully there’s been some discussion about it and some learning, because that’s what we’re here to do on this Earth, to learn our purpose. Well, one of my purposes in this life — since I’m a believer and a Christian — is to help people realize that not every Christian thinks that being gay is a sin.

To reinforce your point, you made out with your Promises, Promises co-star Sean Hayes at the Tonys last year. It might’ve been a little jibe. It might’ve been a little one! Ha!

What was it like to make out with a gay man? Was that your first time? Well, let’s face it, my high school boyfriend is gay, so I don’t think it’s my first time making out with gay men! I bet a lot of women don’t even know they’ve done it! And Sean Hayes is just a darn good kisser, what can I say?

Wait, so you dated a gay man in high school? Yeah, and I’m like, “Well, that’s why we were such a great couple!” He didn’t pleasure me in any way but he helped me pick out my prom dress!

Was he one of the first gay people you knew in Oklahoma? Yeah. I want to tell you something I know about myself: When I was in the second or third grade, I first heard the word “dyke,” and it was in reference to a girl in our school who was very, very tomboyish. I didn’t really understand what the word was, but I knew I didn’t like the way it was said. And for some reason I’ve always been drawn to the person that was alone, and I don’t mean to make me sound like I’m Mother Teresa, because I’m not. But I’ve always been drawn to people who felt left out or different, and maybe it’s because, I too, felt different and unique. People would not think this of me, because there’s this perception of me that, “Oh, life’s been perfect and things have come so easily.”

But let’s face it: My speaking voice is very interesting. Yes, I was a cheerleader but I also wanted to do all the plays, I was in renaissance choir, and, I too, felt a little bit like an outsider. I was always drawn to people who felt that way, too. And sure, some of them were gay and I never did understand — I guess the word is fear.

God made us all equal. He made me short, he made someone gay, he made someone tall — whatever it is, it’s not a sin; it’s how we’re made. And that’s the way I feel about it. It flies in the face of a lot of what Christians believe, but as I’m finding out there’s a lot of Christian people who think the same as me. So that’s my deal, and I think we should not be careful of the unknown but rather accepting and loving of it.

As someone who’s Christian and supports the gay community, how do you feel about the pray-away-the-gay program that Michele Bachmann supports? [Long pause] You know what, you can have your opinion. One of the great things about being in this country is we get to freely say what we believe. I just don’t happen to agree with that. Though I like the “pray” part!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FLASHBACK… Newsweek says Obama doesn’t have to defend unjust laws

Newsweek was writing about the administration’s defense of DADT, but the arguments from various legal scholars are general, and apply to the defense of DOMA as well. It’s worth a re-read for anyone asking whether the administration HAS to defend bigoted laws.

There are two different arguments for why Obama could choose not to enforce the law. The first one: he could say it was unconstitutional.

Obama’s other option: simply using his executive power to decide how the laws will be, or won’t be, executed. So Obama could simply order the military to stop applying the law, or to use it much more narrowly and infrequently. “There are a lot of laws on the books he doesn’t rigorously enforce,” notes Geoffrey Corn, a military law expert who teaches at South Texas College of Law. “The courts have recognized that while Congress has full authority to pass laws, the president has authority over when to enforce laws,” says Turley. Many criminal statutes, for example, are often unenforced and prosecutors have a lot of discretion on when to bring charges and what sentence to seek.

Some experts wonder why the administration even chose to defend the law in the first place. Turley maintains that they didn’t have to: “The president has a duty to separate his administration from an unconstitutional statute. If a statute required racial discrimination, would the president seriously be arguing that he and his administration would have to defend the statute all the way to the Supreme Court?” Many liberals feel betrayed by a president who they see as having chosen to enforce and defend a discriminatory law.

As Joe has noted before, the White House outright refuses to answer the question of whether President Obama believes DADT and DOMA are constitutional. More White House obfuscation here.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Newsweek on GetEQUAL and the quest for LGBT civil rights

Great article from Newsweek’s Eve Conant looking at GetEQUAL and the fight for LGBT equality. GetEQUAL’s first meeting was held at the same place where Rosa Parks “studied” non-violent civil disobedience. Not everyone agrees with the use of the civil rights terminology. But, if people in this country aren’t equal, civil rights are at stake:

As the fight over same-sex marriage and “don’t ask, don’t tell” rages in the courts, Congress, and the media, gay activists and their allies are invoking the language and imagery of the civil-rights battles of a half century ago. And their efforts are changing the tenor of the debate. Sen. Joe Lieberman, calling for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” told a Connecticut reporter earlier this month that the fight for gay rights is the new “front lines” of the civil-rights movement. When President Obama included protections for gays and lesbians in federal hate-crime legislation earlier this year, the Associated Press called it “the biggest expansion of the civil-rights-era law in decades.” And at last week’s federal appellate-court hearing in San Francisco on same-sex marriage, one of the judges pointedly asked whether California voters, whose 2008 passage of Proposition 8 stripped gays of the right to marry, were entitled to reinstate school segregation. “How is this different?” Judge Michael Daly Hawkins asked the attorney defending the measure. Legal heavyweights Ted Olson and David Boies, representing the pro-gay-marriage side, wrote in their plaintiffs’ brief that the case tests the proposition whether gays and lesbians “should be counted as ‘persons’ under the 14th Amendment or whether they constitute a permanent underclass ineligible for protection under that cornerstone of our Constitution.” The 14th Amendment removed the clause once embedded in the Constitution that slaves equaled three fifths of a person.

The rhetoric has inspired gays and lesbians. But it has also galvanized their opponents, who say homosexuals are fighting for “special rights,” not civil rights.

Conant talked to a number of homophobes. I’m not going to include their quotes. You’ve heard it all before.

The organization is combining smart politics with its activism:

Working with recognized figures in the gay-rights fight like Dan Choi, a former Army lieutenant who was discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the members of GetEQUAL can often be found at the Washington, D.C., home of political strategist Paul Yandura, strategizing sit-ins and other nonviolent protests. Before their first “action” in March, when Choi and a fellow ousted soldier handcuffed themselves to the White House gates, the protesters were busy writing phone numbers on their arms and stomachs so they would have them at the ready for their designated phone call once arrested. In jail, Choi and the fellow discharged soldier recited passages from King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” to keep each other inspired.

Even as they invoke the civil-rights struggle, GetEQUAL’s members are trying to be politic. Philanthropist Jonathan Lewis and his family, who have funneled a half-million dollars to create and support GetEQUAL’s efforts, says gays and lesbians are absorbing lessons and inspiration from the civil-rights movement, not taking away its importance. “Our movement is not the same,” he says. “Yes, it’s not life or death every day like the civil-rights movement was,” says Michelle Wright, who is African-American and became involved in GetEQUAL after coming out last year. “But it’s still discrimination, and therefore it’s wrong.” Now she and her fellow activists just need to get the rest of America to see it that way. So they will continue searching, however long it takes, for their movement’s own lunch-counter image.

I do think GetEQUAL has already changed the debate about LGBT equality. The photos of protesters on the White House fence have become iconic. And, those who purport to be our allies know we’re words and party invitations aren’t enough.

For the record, the “fellow ousted soldier” arrested with Dan Choi in March is our friend, Capt. Jim Pietrangelo.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Newsweek on Obama’s ‘moral cowardice’; NYT on House Dems running scared

The headline of Jacob Weisberg’s column continues: “The president needs to find his principles.”

It is one of the more scathic indictments of the Obama administration — and the President himself that I’ve seen in a while. It touches on many issues, including immigration and marriage equality.

Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.

With the Proposition 8 fight, Obama has fallen short in a different way, by his reluctance to join an emerging social consensus. Obama had previously criticized California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, as “divisive.” But his official position-which no one believes he actually holds-is that he is against legalizing gay marriage. Americans are changing their views on this issue with inspiring rapidity. Judge Vaughn Walker’s moving opinion provided an occasion for Obama to embrace the extension of equal rights to gay people. Instead, he slunk mumbling in the other direction. How dismal that America’s first black president will be remembered as shirking the last great civil-rights struggle.

Few would argue that defending liberal principle serves Obama’s short-term interests. Americans oppose the mosque 61 percent to 26 percent, according to one recent poll, and support the Arizona law by an even wider margin. But even if some people don’t like Islam, or illegal immigrants, or gay weddings, they may respond to admonitions that our society is built around freedom of conscience and equal treatment under law. If he applied his oratorical gifts to these principles, Obama could remind a grumbling nation what it liked about him in the first place.

Weisberg may be overly optimistic about how responsive some Americans to logic or appeal to equal treatment under the law. It didn’t help with Prop 8. And I really doubt that appeal with work for immigration. The nativism awakened with that and the “9/11 Mosque” shows just how much our nation is in moral distress.

He also takes the position is that the President’s inability to weigh in with sufficient fervor has allowed the right wing noise machine to flourish – and put the WH on the defensive. After all, look at how it drops everything (including political common sense) to respond to Glenn Beck when he opens his mouth. The response is to ensure America that the President prays every day and is a good Christian.

This is a WH that chooses to be weak and respond with political pablum to challenges. That was not the Barack Obama that was on the campaign trail, and certainly not the same man who asked to be challenged if he was dropping the ball. There in lies the problem when you have a WH and President beholden to the charges of the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the “papers, please” supporters, rather than the people who put in money, time and votes to get him into office.

***

Meanwhile, take a look at this NYT article – Democrats Plan Political Triage to Retain House. The meat of the story here is the begging for $$$ — watch for more ploys to tap the gAyTM touting that long list of padded “accomplishments” as the desperation mounts. What it boils down to is “it’s the economy, stupid.” The jobs have no materialized in some of the hardest-hit areas of the nation. People are angry, and sadly, only a couple of years after over a decade or GOP economics, some are ready to revisit that disaster again.

“We are going to have to win these races one by one,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceding that the party would ultimately cut loose members who had not gained ground.

… A sputtering economy and discontent with Washington have created a high sense of voter unease that has also put control of the Senate in question.

To hold the line against Republicans, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued an urgent plea for members in safe districts to help their endangered colleagues by contributing money. She called out Democrats who were delinquent on paying their party dues and instructed members with no re-election worries to tap into a combined 8 million from their campaign accounts to help save their majority.

“We need to know your commitment,” Ms. Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter, demanding that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help. She added, “The day after the election, we do not want to have any regrets.”

As always, give time, effort and money to the individual pols who support issues important to you. No DINOs. No homophobes. No self-loathing closet cases. No more.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Newsweek on ‘Obama’s Moral Cowardice’

Jacob Weisberg thinks Obama “needs to find his principles”:

Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.

This is Weisberg’s take on Obama’s and Prop. 8:

With the Proposition 8 fight, Obama has fallen short in a different way, by his reluctance to join an emerging social consensus. Obama had previously criticized California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, as “divisive.” But his official position—which no one believes he actually holds—is that he is against legalizing gay marriage. Americans are changing their views on this issue with inspiring rapidity. Judge Vaughn Walker’s moving opinion provided an occasion for Obama to embrace the extension of equal rights to gay people. Instead, he slunk mumbling in the other direction. How dismal that America’s first black president will be remembered as shirking the last great civil-rights struggle.

The White House hears these criticisms all the time. Apparently, they’re ignored. What do the rest of us know? As we’ve learned, Team Obama has the smartest political and communications people in the world. That’s why they’re doing so well in the polls. Takes real geniuses to destroy the vaunted Obama “brand” and to bring him from 70% approval to the low 40s.

H/T Steve H.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Barista Alvin Cited By Newsweek

Call our very smart Barista Alvin a full-fledged pudit now, as his Pam’s House Blend diary Dear Proposition 8 supporters – You lost because you lied was quoted on Newsweek‘s California Judge Overturns Prop 8:

Jubilant

Don’t take this as gloating, gay blogger Alvin McEwen writes, but it’s pretty clear that Prop 8 was overturned because the claims of supporters, though effective in scaring paranoid voters, simply don’t withstand the scrutiny of the judicial system.

Alvin McEwen:

“In the courts, you must defend your position … Your leaders spun false images of avenging hordes for their reluctance to be questioned in the courts about the unprovoked lies they said in pulpits, in speeches, and on commercials. This time, it didn’t work. The court saw through the phony claims and realized something, which I hope that many of you now do-you have no logical reason to either deny us the right to love or to deny us the ability to protect the ones whom we love.”

Alvin McEwen, Pam’s House Blend

Alvin’s quote was immediately followed by a Maggie Gallagher — of the National Organization For Marriage (NOM) — quote:

Furious

Maggie Gallagher:

Not only was Judge Walker needlessly inflammatory for imputing bigotry to opponents of gay marriage, his opinion was wrong and will be overturned, says Maggie Gallagher, head of the activist group the National Organization for Marriage. She rehashes the arguments NOM has made all along and vows to continue the fight.

Maggie Gallagher, San Francisco Chronicle

Being cited in an Newsweek article ahead of Maggie…just priceless!

So, so seriously, congrats to Alvin on being a PHB pundit of Newsweek notability!

But more importantly than that, congrats to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; congrats for the values of human rights, freedom, equality, and justice!
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Newsweek Sells For $1

The Washington Post has sold Newsweek to electronics billionaire Sidney Harman for in return for his pledge to assume the struggling title’s liabilities and retain most of its staff.

Newsweek has struggled through the recession more than most weekly news magazines, losing nearly million last year alone. It was earning that much a year as recently as 2007. And the longer it remained on the market, the less tenable its financial situation became. It has been an expensive product for the Post Company to produce, with its various international editions and separate back-office positions that were specific to the magazine. Instead of sharing a general counsel and accounting staff with the Post Company, for example, Newsweek has its own employees in those positions. The magazine’s top editors and managers redesigned it last year in hopes of attracting more readers and advertisers. But the updated magazine, which contained more commentary and analysis on the news of the week, failed to catch on.

Harman, who is 91, is married to Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA).

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Tony Awards recap

Sean Hayes both hosted the Tony Awards Sunday night and was a nominee for his performance in “Promises, Promises,” but he also was a sassy lightning rod for politics. Hayes made the least news ever last March when, just before his Broadway debut opened, he officially came out as gay. (In other news, the sun set last night.)

Hayes was then the target of a weird thinkpiece in Newsweek (by a gay author, no less!) who claimed that when gay actors come out, they ruin the illusion that they could be straight for audiences; Hayes was singled out as not convincingly playing a hetero man in the musical. His co-star, Kristin Chenoweth — who also has appeared on “Glee,” another target of the article — was vocal in her disdain for the piece.

Without addressing the article directly, Hayes began his hosting duties with a Tipper-and-Al-style prolonged lip-lock with Chenoweth that seemed to establish, for home audiences, that kisses look real when the actors are good. Despite my criticism of the cast recording, these actors are good.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

'This guy needs to come out'

DOM_4_26_10_jpg_800x1000_q100

Newsweek, whose current issue is shown above, just posted a message on Twitter asking, “In six words, what are your thoughts on Texas Gov. Rick Perry?” I haven’t read the Newsweek story yet, but my six words are the headline to this post. What are yours? Says you can e-mail them to sixwords@newsweek.com.

—  John Wright

Newsweek on how it ain't easy for gay couples to become ex's in Texas — or anywhere else

Angelique Naylor was recently granted a divorce from her wife in Austin. But she fears Attorney General Greg Abbott will appeal the decision.
Angelique Naylor was recently granted a divorce from her wife in Austin. But she fears Attorney General Greg Abbott will appeal the decision.

Last week I got wind that an unnamed major media outlet was looking for a same-sex couple trying to get a divorce. Coincidentally, when I heard this, I had just gotten off the phone with Jennifer Cochran, the attorney for Angelique Naylor, a woman who was recently granted a divorce from her wife in Austin. I sent Cochran’s e-mail address to my contact, and just like that a week later, we have this article from Newsweek. The article uses the Austin case to illustrate the tremendous difficulties faced by same-sex couples who want to divorce, but the reporter also talked to Pete Schulte, one of the attorneys in a gay divorce case in Dallas. In fact, as the article points out, it was the Dallas case that inspired the Austin couple to seek a divorce after they unsuccessfully sought to settle their affairs through other legal means. And it’s the Dallas case, in which oral arguments are set for April 21 before the 5th District Court of Appeals, that some believe may reach the U.S. Supreme Court:

As for Angelique Naylor, she and her lawyer, Jennifer Cochran, are counting down the days until the 30-day window expires for the Texas attorney general to appeal her divorce. Cochran also worries that a negative decision in the Dallas case could potentially overturn Naylor’s divorce. “These couples are already going through three times the expense and headaches,” she says. More gay couples are likely to move to Texas, she adds, and Austin has become a popular destination for all Americans: “This is an issue that is not going to go away.” Naylor, however, expects the attorney general to intervene. “It’s an election year, and apparently attacking gay people is a good thing to throw resources at. But in my heart and mind I’m divorced, no matter what. I’ve closed that chapter of my life.”

—  John Wright