What’s Brewing: Civil unions in Hawaii; drug bust aboard world’s largest gay cruise; Lady Gaga

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Hawaii is set to become the seventh state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, after the House passed the measure Friday. The civil unions bill now returns to the Senate, which has already passed it once and could send it to Gov. Neil Abercrombie as early as this week. Abercrombie’s predecessor, Linda Lingle, vetoed similar legislation last year. But Abercrombie supports the bill.

2. Authorities arrested a suspected drug dealer aboard the Atlantis ship that’s been billed as the world’s largest gay cruise, during a stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Steven Barry Krumholz, 51, of West Hollywood, Calif., was arrested after authorities searched his cabin and found more than 142 ecstasy pills, nearly 3 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of ketamine and about $51,000 in cash.

3. In case you missed it, Lady Gaga (above) was hatched out of an egg at the beginning of her performance of “Born This Way” on Sunday night at the Grammy Awards. (Video of the performance, at least until it gets pulled, is below.)  For a full list of Grammy winners in major categories, go here.


—  John Wright

New Mexico may recognize same-sex marriage

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says same-sex marriages performed elsewhere may be valid in his state.

“A comprehensive legal analysis by my office concludes that valid same-sex marriages in other states would likely be valid in New Mexico,” King said.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the opinion hasn’t been tested in court. However, an attorney general’s opinion carries quite a bit of weight.

New Mexico’s new governor, Susana Martinez, opposes same-sex marriage. Her predecessor, Bill Richardson, was unsuccessful getting a marriage-equality bill through the legislature.

Maryland’s attorney general has issued a similar ruling. New York and Rhode Island both recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

—  David Taffet

DADT repeal was a birthday gift for SLDN co-founder, Fort Worth native Dixon Osburn

Dixon Osburn

As a co-founder and former executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Fort Worth native Dixon Osburn says Saturday’s Senate vote to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a huge moment for him.

It was even bigger still because Saturday also happened to be Osburn’s 46th birthday.

“It was a pinch-me moment,” Osburn told Instant Tea earlier today. “It’s been a long hard fight, and watching the votes take place, I was shaking and crying and smiling and cheering all at once. I thought it would take us 20 years, and it took 17. It’s a great birthday present, and it shows that Texans are helping carve paths for equality.”

Osburn graduated from Trinity Valley School before obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Stanford and his law degree from Georgetown. He launched SLDN with former Army captain Michelle Benecke in 1993, the same year he says President Bill Clinton “capitulated” to DADT.

Osburn, who’d volunteered at SLDN’s predecessor, the Campaign for Military Service, launched the new group because he felt DADT was a defining moment in the history of gay rights — the first time our lives had been discussed on a federal level.

Osburn spent 14 years as SLDN’s executive director before stepping down in 2007. He worked as a consultant and wrote a book before recently joining Human Rights First as director of law and security.

“My focus is on the intersection of national security policy and human rights … trying to ensure we don’t return to a regime of torture, trying to ensure that those suspected of terror receive fair trials,” Osburn said. “All the years of work with generals and admirals with SLDN, is what I’m doing now on these sets of issues.”

Below is Osburn’s full, official statement on Saturday’s vote:

“Today is my birthday, and this is the best birthday present I could have asked for. The real gift, though, is to our nation, which believes in our national security and equality. This victory is a tribute to the 60,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual troops serving our nation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe. It is a tribute to the one million LGBT veterans who have been willing to shed blood for out country in defense of our freedom and liberty; they now have been accorded theirs. The repeal of DADT and implementation of non-discrimination policies by the Pentagon will be judged among the pantheon of civil rights advances in our country. Today, no state government, local government or private business can substantiate discrimination when our military does not. Diversity is strength.

“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for leading. I want to also acknowledge the many advocates both individual and organizational that have helped this moment arrive. From Baron von Steuben, likely a gay man who helped organize the colonists during the American Revolution to the gay WWII vets who formed vibrant LGBT communities in NYC and San Francisco after the war, to Frank Kameny who protested the ban in the 1960s and 1970s in front of the Pentagon to Brigadier General Keith Kerr, Brigadier General Virgil Richards and Rear Admiral Alan Steinman, who came out as gay on the 10th anniversary of DA DT, to so many more who have fought for what is right for our nation and our armed forces. We owe you a debt of gratitude. December 18th is a great day.”

—  John Wright

Belmont Predecessor Run by Lesbians?

LISA HOWE X390 (BELMONTBRUINS.COM) | ADVOCATE.COMBelmont University may have fired a women’s soccer coach because she is a lesbian, but records indicate that the school’s predecessor might have been run by lesbians.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

‘He could have actually chartered a very different course than his predecessor and he hasn’t’

Strong words from Eliot Spitzer:

KEVIN SESSUMS: On another legal matter, do you agree with Obama that he had no choice as president defending the law of Congress to appeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ruling that said it was unconstitutional? Or do you agree with Ted Olson that he did not have to.

ELIOT SPITZER: He didn’t have to. He should have gotten rid of it with an executive order. He is the president! He is the commander in chief!

SESSUMS: Is he a coward about this issue?

SPITZER: I don’t want to call the president of the United States a coward.

SESSUMS: I will. On this issue, he’s a coward. He is playing politics with people’s lives. It’s cowardly.

SPITZER: Let me put it this way. From the very beginning, I have been very disappointed in his positions on a lot of civil-rights issues, on a lot of state-secrecy issues, a lot of judicial moments when he could have actually chartered a very different course than his predecessor and he hasn’t. And certainly Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is one of them.

SESSUMS: And on gay marriage, he is to the right of Dick Cheney and Ken Mehlman and Ted Olson. It would be almost poetic if it weren’t so sad and disheartening that on the civil-rights issue of our time, our first African-American president will be seen on the wrong side of history. Again, for political reasons he’s playing with people’s lives.

SPITZER: It dismays me, too. It’s dismaying. I am proud to say that I was the first governor in America to propose that same-sex marriage be legal and it still appalls me where we are on this issue in this country. Appalls me.

*FULL INTERVIEW: Eliot Comes Clean [Daily Beast]

(H/t:
Towle)

Beyond being dismaying (which it is): It’s also just plain bizarre. One thing that concerned some people about Candidate Obama was his tendency to come across as arrogant (“you’re likable enough, Hillary”) when he really wanted to be straightforward. To come across as too passionate to ever survive in the pragmatic world of politics. To seem like his admirable principles could actually endanger the progress if not finely tuned to the pulse of America. And we still see this willingness to go there from time to time, like when he talked about the Bush era Republicans having driven the car in the ditch. That sort of thing can be risky — but it comes from feeling so real it can’t be muted or faked.

But on LGBT issues, it’s been all compromise all the time! The principled push forward, a subjective path that those who value equality for all citizens have chosen to take without hesitancy Obama-backor qualifiers, is typically presented by this administration as a two-footed, equally-merited, completely objective march. There’s been little danger in the bold leadership seeming too tough, except with the far-right social conservatives who think watching “Modern Family” without fast forwarding through the Cam/Mitchell scenes is too pro-gay. The promises have been there. The speeches and proclamations have been inclusive, which does make a statement and should not be denied. But the White House has expended shockingly minimal capital on true change for LGBT rights, during a time when they should’ve realized that the window was always destined to close. In turn, the people who’ve become much more disenchanted, alienated, and/or confused are the ones who put so much hope in a president who they expected to take real world risks to accomplish what’s long overdue and undeniably right.

The mere fact that we LGBT people still have to discuss our basic humanity here in 2010 is appalling: That’s a truism that expands well beyond the presidency or even politics. However, there is no person in the world — NOT. ONE. PERSON. — who is in a more powerful chair in terms of changing civil rights history. It’s past time President Obama risk seeming arrogant on these core values issues, lest he risk seeming worthy of primary challenge in 2012.

And that’s not a threat from a detractor, either. It’s a real concern from a frequent defender who still wants to believe.




Good As You

—  admin