Marriage bill clears Washington Senate

House vote expected as early as next week, but referendum looms

WAVES OF JOY | Openly gay Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, from left, and his partner Michael Shiosaka wave at spectators in the upper gallery after the Senate voted for a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage Wednesday evening, Feb. 1 in Olympia, Wash. (Associated Press)

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

Washington State is well-poised to become the seventh state — and the second-largest — where same-sex marriage is legal.

The Washington State bill for marriage equality cleared a crucial hurdle Wednesday night, Feb. 1, passing the state Senate on a vote of 28-21 after senators first shot down an attempt to put the issue on the ballot in November — even though a public vote is still likely through a referendum. Four Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the marriage equality bill, while three Democrats voted against it.

The bill now goes to the full House, where headcounts gives it a clear margin for victory. Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of groups working for passage of the legislation, said the vote in the House could come as early as next week.

“The overwhelming support we’re seeing from businesses, labor, faith communities and people all across the state is a testament to the momentum of this movement and sensibilities of Washingtonians,” Lacey All, chair of Washington United for Marriage, said in a statement shortly after Wednesday’s vote. “Volunteers from every part of the state have contributed thousands of hours of their time to make today possible, and we thank them for their commitment to this issue.”

The Senate dealt quickly Wednesday night with 11 amendments, most dealing with proposed religious exemptions. It adopted seven of the amendments but, on a 26-23 vote, rejected an attempt to put the issue before voters in November.

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Olympia, who proposed the referendum, announced before the debate that he would vote in favor of the marriage equality bill. But during debate, he warned his colleagues that groups opposed to same-sex marriage are already preparing to gather signatures to force a referendum on the measure this November. Such opponents will likely have until early June to collect more than 120,000 signatures.

Sen. Edward Murray, an openly gay Democrat  from Seattle and a 15-year veteran of the Legislature, sponsored the bill. It calls for “ending discrimination in marriage based on gender and sexual orientation to ensure that all persons in this state may enjoy the freedom to marry on equal terms, while also respecting the religious freedom of clergy and religious institutions to determine for whom to perform marriage ceremonies and to determine which marriages to recognize for religious purposes.”

CHEERS AND TEARS | Members of the gallery look down and applaud as the Senate passes the bill. (Associated Press)

Murray said on the floor prior to the vote that those who voted against the bill, “are not, nor should they be accused of bigotry.”

“Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused of, undermining family life or religious freedom,” Murray  added. “Marriage is how society says you are a family.”

Murray said he and his partner of more than 20 years — Michael Shiosaki — plan to marry and added that “regardless of how you vote on this bill, an invitation will be in the mail” to their wedding.

The religious protection language in the bill stipulates that “no official of a religious denomination or non-profit institution … may be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by the Washington state Constitution.” It also enables religious institutions to bar use of their facilities to same-sex couples for marriage ceremonies.

Many of the amendments approved Wednesday night sought to add to the religious exemptions. One particularly ominous amendment sought to add that no state or local government can “base a decision” to do business with “any religious organization” based on the organization’s refusal to accommodate same-sex marriage ceremonies. That amendment failed.

The Senate also rejected, by 27-22, an attempt to enable individual judges, justices and commissioners to refuse to solemnize a same-sex ceremony due to their personal religious beliefs. And it rejected an amendment seeking to allow individuals and businesses — including wedding planners, photographers and florists — to refuse to provide services and accommodations for same-sex ceremonies.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat and longtime supporter of rights for same-sex couples but not always a strong supporter of marriage equality, announced Jan. 4 that she would support the bill. Local news media reported that the governor was in the Senate for the debate and she issued a statement immediately after the vote.

“Tonight the Washington State Senate stood up for what is right and told all families in our state that they are equal and that the state cannot be in the business of discrimination,” said Gregoire. “I believe that this decision should be made by our state Legislature, and I’m proud our elected leaders recognized that responsibility.”

Gregoire thanked Murray for his leadership on the bill.

Murray has been a key mover behind much of Washington State’s legislation to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people. He led the successful effort in 2006 to pass a statewide non-discrimination law to protect LGBT people and, in 2007, led the fight for passage of a domestic partnership law. In 2009, he sought passage of the state’s “Everything but Marriage” bill.

Lambda Legal National Marriage Project Director Camilla Taylor issued a statement saying same-sex couples in Washington State are now “one step closer to enjoying the freedom to marry, thanks to the impressive efforts of Washington United for Marriage, and the bravery of supporters of equality in the State Senate.”

Washington State, which has 6.8 million residents, would become the second-largest state behind New York where same-sex marriage is legal.

If the bill is signed by Gregoire and opponents are unable to gather the necessary signatures for a referendum, same-sex couples could wed as early as June. However, if the opposition does force a referendum, marriages would have to wait until after the November election.

© 2012 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

2011 Year in Review: Music

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST | Chillwave specialist Ernest Greene of Washed Out turned ‘Within and Without’ into 2011’s best album — no matter what Adele thinks.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

You could say 2011 was the year of the superstar. Already-superstars Gaga, Beyonce and Britney dropped new albums confirming their status, while Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry became ones following the continued successes of 2010 discs. Kanye and Jay-Z teamed up to watch the throne and beardos Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver followed up their debuts with dreamy, though sometimes confusing releases.

Ultimately, it was Adele who ruled, leaving all others in the dust with an exercise in modern torch songs and declarative hits — so much so, she and 2011 are now practically synonymous.

But not exclusively. A few others made an impression on smaller fronts — and big ones, too. Each of the following resonated either through a chill groove or a strong beat, and ultimately made 2011 easy on the ears.

1. Washed Out, Within and Without What Ernest Greene does with this chillwave release is somewhere between a dream and astral projection. Each track floats in your ears as wonderful bubbles of music that are airy and delicate, but their impression is far more lasting. This isn’t just an album, but a luxury bath for the ears and soul, which made for practically infinite repeat plays. Key tracks: “Amor Fati,” “Eyes Be Closed.”

2. Caveman, CoCo Beware — In just two years, these Brooklyn indie rockers debuted their album with confidence to spare. Giving alt-rock sensibilities to Simon and Garfunkel folkisms, Caveman fits in the Grizzly Bear–Band of Horses vein and yet they still create a sound that will grow into their own. Those drums are to die for as is singer Matthew Iwanusa smooth tenor. Caveman’s release is more like a gift. Key tracks: “Decide,” “December 28th.”

3. Death Cab for Cutie, Keys and Codes Remix EP — By nature, most remixes are agony resulting in a soulless version of the original. That didn’t happen here in DCFC’s redux on their already- impressive Codes and Keys from earlier in the year. At times, the EP is even better than the original, with charged up versions of seven songs. Yeasayer, The 2 Bears and Cut Copy are among the remixers who don’t take away from DCFC’s spirit, but spike it huge with major beats. Key tracks: “Underneath the Sycamore,” “Some Boys.”

4. Adele, 21 This is very likely the album of the year for the entire world — and deservedly so. Adele channeled all the emotion of being done wrong by her man into a solid display of music. At times, she gets a little too sappy, but the strength of 21 isn’t just in Adele’s soulful voice, it’s also in her heart that is both pained and strengthened here. Plus, 21 pretty much just says “fuck you” to the ex the way we all wish we could. Key tracks: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Don’t You Remember.”

5. Adam Tyler, Shattered Ice — In his debut, Tyler broke through pop/dance music apathy to create a refreshing album of solid tunes. He recalls glorious pop of two and three decades ago but updates it with sexy lyrics and dynamic hooks. Tyler wrote all 11 songs and more than half of those are ready for the radio. Hopefully, someone will take notice, because Ice is too spectacular to be overlooked. Key tracks: “Pull the Trigger,” “I Won’t Let You Go.”

6. Real Estate, Days — Less is more with this complete package by the indie folk rockers from New Jersey. They smoothed out from their 2009 debut and bring a minimalist, but hardly simple approach to Days that shows off the band’s talents modestly, but considerably effectively with lush cascades of music. Days is a facile listen that may sound like background music, but you won’t forget it. Key tracks: “It’s Real,” “Younger than Yesterday.”

7. Beyonce, 4 — The diva missed out on big radio hits with this album, but she channeled her inner ‘80s-and-‘90s adult contemporaries and created a helluva fascinating album. Sidestepping the obvious, B dabbled in sophistication over aggression and came up with retro vibes without losing her style. She totally didn’t give up her skills trying for a big hit with “Rule the World (Girls)” but missed. That’s forgivable considering the brilliance of the rest. Key tracks: “Rather Die Young,” “I Care.”

8. CSS, La Liberacion — These Brazilian party rockers matured beautifully in their third album. For having a reputation of delivering queer-centric dance rock, earlier releases were a tad unfocused. CSS kept the same amped-up energy, but their songwriting and musicianship has grown into smart and sublime. From irreverence to slightly political, CSS looks like they have finally found their place. Key tracks: “City Grrrl,” “I Love You.”

9. Me’Shell Ndegéocello, Weather — Ndegéocello continues to bring the cool, and does so with the ultra-slick Weather. Her neo-soul chops have not been lost over the course of her almost two-decade career. Instead, she adds a layer of maturity with each new album and this year practically cultivated it into hip, soulful perfection. And that bass playing is so sexy, it’s borderline (but gloriously) obscene. Key tracks: “Chance,” “Dirty World.”

10. Emmeline, Someone to Be Coming in under the wire, Dallas singer Emmeline recently dropped off her disc personally to the Dallas Voice asking for a listen. Good thing she did, as she lies somewhere between Sarah MacLachlan and Regina Spektor. With earnest keyboards and charming vocals, she churned out one of the more delightful packages of tunes with a sugary edge that sticks just right and is wonderfully addictive. Key tracks: “Someone to Be,” “Dallas.”

…………………………

2011’s top LGBT releases

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Queer music was in full bloom over the last 12 months, with a wide range of LGBT artists — from veterans to newbies — strongly delivering great music. Here are some of the highlights that stuck out for us.
R.E.M, Collapse Into Now. Soon after this March release, the band announced they were breaking up after 30 years — with the appropriate greatest hits release in November.
Deborah Vial, Stages and Stones. The former Dallas gal showed off her chops from Hawaii in her soulful new album.

K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang, Sing it Loud. Lang crooned, but also rocked gently with her new band.
Ariel Aparicio, Aerials. OutMusic Award winner Aparicio hit a strong note with his alt-rock album from August, fusing it with Latin flair.

Garrin Benfield, The Wave Organ Song. This scruffy folk-country artist relaxed into his fifth disc with a languid and poetic song cycle.

Girl in a Coma, Exits and All the Rest (pictured). The San Antonio rock trio made waves in 2011, landing on several year-end lists.

Brandon Hilton, Nocturnal. Hilton worked the web to his advantage to get his album on people’s radar and it worked both ways.

The Sounds, Something to Die For. The relentless alt-pop from these Swedes was one of the best music addictions of the year. And bi singer Maja Ivarsson sold it perfectly.

— R.L.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

My way or the highway: Gay etiquette book trades on stereotypes and typos

The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, by Corey Rosenberg. (2011, Chelsea Station Editions) $15. 120 pp.

Oscar Wilde, as usual, said it best: “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.”

Corey Rosenberg’s current-day homage to homosexual decorum, The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, deftly seizes upon Wilde’s Victorian-era kernel of truth and expands it into a post-modern banquet of American gay, fast-food sensibilities.

More pamphlet, unfortunately, than book, Rosenberg’s opus would have benefited greatly from decent editing: Wise amelioration would certainly have gone a long way toward persuading Rosenberg’s readers to trust his voice. When he refers to himself in the preface as, “the consummate host,” the reader is absolutely ready to follow him down the path of how to do the right and proper thing; sadly, when he goes on to own up nobly to some “shear [sic] and vile behavior,” the reader is caught flat-footed by poor editing.

Unacceptable typos aside — even in a book professing to divulge proper gay etiquette — Chapter 1’s title alone, “The truth about ‘pleases’ & thank you’s’” is too littered with grammatical heresies for any person (say nothing of whether they’re gay) interested in learning proper behavior to take cues from this puffery of sheer syntax laziness; that said, Rosenberg is spot-on regarding why one should never forget to say “please” or “thank you.”

How this common-sense wisdom applies to gay men exclusively is not elucidated upon, except the dismissive assertion that, “attitudes of entitlement are a commonality in the gay community.” Bullfeathers! This reviewer, as a card-carrying member of the club himself, has a very difficult time accepting the cliché of all gay men being self-centered prima donnas.

The book is a puzzling

parade of mixed-message brevity. Chapter 3’s full 110 words, entitled “The Gym,” rather preciously proclaim, “Please remember that the only person you are meant to compete with at the gym is yourself;” yet, Chapter 13’s subject, “Being Attired Properly and Appropriately,” states, “A respectable gay man never wears a skimpy Speedo unless his stomach is tight, his skin is a few shades darker than a wintry shade of pale and he is under the age of 50.” Which is it: Are gay men only complete with themselves when they’re young and physically attractive to others; or are they only complete with themselves once they’re too old to pass for under-50?

At worst, Rosenberg’s guide to gay propriety is an innocuous piece of fluff, like bellybutton lint illuminated by a reflected disco ball’s ray upon your trick’s glistening, shirtless torso.

Rosenberg does offer useful visuals on how to loop a genteel bow tie knot, even if he doesn’t tackle acknowledging the difference between modern life and yesteryear: As he attests in Chapter 18, “Social climbing is a sleazy act of using people to quickly achieve higher rank or status within the community. A proper young man knows the difference between innocent social networking and skipping lines and climbing ladders.”

Here’s to all “proper” young men, then — past, present and future.

— Howard Lewis Russell

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

—  Michael Stephens

Backtracking

THE U WORD | Texan Camila Grey, left, teamed with ‘L Word’ star Leisha Hailey to form indie duo Uh Huh Her.

As they make their way to SXSW, queer duo Uh Huh Her scales back for sophomore release

The dream of most bands might be to find a label and release a well-produced debut album. Hustling to keep it afloat? Not so much. Job security is still a nice thing, even in the music industry.

Uh Huh Her sees things differently. You might even think they just took two steps back after a major leap forward.

“Yeah, we are weirdly going the other way,” laughs Camila Grey, half of the  indie duo. “Our success was immediate: We got picked up by a label right away and had this glossy pop album under our belts.” But despite that welcome mat, Grey and her music-making partner, Leisha Hailey, wanted to work for their success. So they did what any new band starting out would do. They dumped their label.

Uh Huh Her’s 2008 debut, Common Reaction, was a stellar disc of well-constructed songs that hinted at ’80s New Wave with alt-rock sensibilities. Recalling the likes of Ladytron and Le Tigre, UHH was poised to become the Next Big Indie Thing. They were far from hurt by the built-in audience brought in by Hailey, star of the lesbian drama The L Word.

“That was our core fan base because the audience did follow her,” Grey says. “That was also part of the immediate success. But we’ve been able to grow it from there. Now our audience is all over the place, from straight couples to gay kids. And it’s just widening.”

Having been off the radar for most of the past year, UHH is set to release their second full-length album, Nocturnes, later this spring. Grey promises a grittier, edgier, more personal sound.

“The beauty of this album is we did it all on our own,” she says. “I produced and we recorded it in our own studios. I think it’s bringing us back to our roots. We want to focus on this again and give it another go.”

With a liberated approach, Grey didn’t feel the pressures to sound a specific way as “encouraged” by her label.

“We have lives aside from the band and the realistic situation was knowing we can do this on our own terms,” she says.

Grey and Hailey produced an EP at breakneck speed and took it on the road. Six tracks made up Black and Blue, recorded and packaged in less than two weeks to use as a promotional tool for the tour. They have taken their musical destiny into their own hands.

“We work really well under pressure,” Grey laughs. “The whole thing has been labor of love and we put more care into these two things. There’s no pressure from The Man anymore.”

UHH is on the road now, and will play in Dallas after coming off gigs at Austin’s South By Southwest Festival, where they could easily be cited as the next It band if the right people see, blog and tweet them well. But Grey isn’t concerned about being that band; she’s a musician at heart and creating music is her primary goal.

UHH played SXSW two years ago, but Grey is throwing expectations out the window to just have fun. They have four days of gigs lined up before heading to Dallas, where she was born (she grew up in Austin). What surprises her most is the Dallas audience.

“Texas always gives us more love,” she says. “It’s so weird the markets that we’re popular in are more conservative ones. We’ve always had a packed audience with great energy in Dallas. Houston’s the same. You’d think that would be more so in a city like Austin.”

Guess Austin hasn’t cornered the market on knowing good music after all.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Movie Monday: Oscar nominated ‘The Illusionist’ at the Angelika

Slight, off-hand: Oscar-nominated ‘The Illusionist’ aims for twee more than wow

The French filmmaker Jacques Tati was a latter-day Chaplin with Gallic sensibilities. In just a handful of nearly silent films in the 1950s — 30 years before the Griswolds — his guileless M. Hulot got embroiled in a cascade of fiascos that delighted audiences at the time, and some film enthusiasts since.

That was half a century and a full continent ago, and closer in time to when he wrote The Illusionist than when animator Sylvain Chomet adapted it to the current feature-length cartoon, just nominated for an Oscar. You can see why it was nominated: The faded, painterly images evoke the best of 1960s Disney animation, like 101 Dalmatians: Hand-drawn art, not computer-generated commerce.

But just being old school doesn’t quite get you there, entertainment-wise. The Illusionist is sentimental and twee, with a melancholy tone that feels less earned than foisted upon audiences.

Two and a half stars. Read the entire review here.

DEETS: The Illusionist. Rated PG. 80 minutes. Now showing at the Angelika Film Center, Mockingbird Station.

—  Rich Lopez

Gay film director James Ivory at SMU for screenings of his works this week

James Ivory

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Ivory will not be in attendance for the Q&A sessions tonight and tomorrow. Those will be hosted by Sean Griffin. Ivory will be doing his master class today. I regret the error.

James Ivory, who with his collaborator and partner Ismail Merchant made some of the best period dramas of the last 30 years, is coming to Dallas for a series organized by the SMU Division of Cinema-Television’s gay chair, Sean Griffin.

Ivory’s best-known films as a director, which netted him three Oscar nominations, include A Room with a View, Howards End and The Remains of the Day, but his output also includes the gay coming-of-age romance Maurice, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge and his last film with Merchant (who died in 2005), The White Countess.

Ivory, who despite his European/colonial sensibilities is American, will participate in a series of master classes and presentations of three films (followed by Q&As) on consecutive days this week: Heat and Dust on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Surviving Picasso on Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.; and The Remains of the Day on Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. (two Merchant-directed films will also be screened). All showings take place inside the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art. For tickets, go here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones