Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Nation of Murderers

"The last time a Republican thought I had rights, I was a fetus."

So goes a bumper sticker for left wingers' Priuses. But it rings true, so true, on a day when a doctor was gunned down at his church because of his weekday job as an abortion provider. Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, met an assassin's bullet this morning while attending Sunday services at his local church. Sadly, pro-lifers are split on what is clearly a right-or-wrong issue - check out the report at

What's even more sad is that this incident shows how America has lost sight of the sanctity of human life. Dr. Tiller did not deserve to die, but he also worked with the full protection of the law and was allowed to perform late-term abortions. So what about the countless children that didn't get to see life at the hands of Dr. Tiller? We live in a society that condones this sort of violence and brands it as a "choice," and then we save our shock and dismay for times when the same level of callous violence is perpetrated on adults or anyone who can "live on their own," to borrow a page from pro-choice dogma. We're also a country that executes criminals, is engaged in a dubious war with a country that posed no threat to us and turns the page every time another school shooting is sprawled across our newspapers. We're all callous and we've all shrugged off any culpability for the direction that America is going in.

This isn't a Democrat/Republican problem, it's a problem with the values that inform our humanity. We haven't evolved to the point where we truly consider all murder to be wrong. That's why there's war, abortion, get it. So, shame on all of us.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear Senator Sessions, There's Nothing Troubling About Sonia Sotomayor

Taking a cue from Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter, Senator Jeff Sessions, the Alabama republican who is going to lead the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor, declared that comments made by nominee about race are "troubling."

No, they're not. Let me explain.

In 2001, Sotomayor spoke about discrimination cases at an event sponsored by La Raza at UC Berkeley's School of Law. It was a largely innocuous speech about her Latina roots, her childhood, rice, beans and pork intestines. Kid you not - read the speech here. So what was her troubling remark?

Her speech went on to address the need for diversity in our country's judicial system. I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of the speech was this: if there are more and more people of color in this country, why are they not represented in our courts? Can justice be doled out if, for whatever reason, different experiences and points of view are hindered from joining the upper ranks of our legal system?

Sototmayor went on to talk about conversations she'd had with another judge, Miriam Cederbaum , who didn't believe that women and other minorities made much of an impact on cases that impact these groups. Here's what the nominee said about those conversations:

In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

This was followed by her now infamous remark:

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

So, if we're talking about the need for a judicial system that is more representative of our nation's diversity, why is it racist to say that someone who understands the complexities of race and gender issues, and whose group has been largely left of out the legal system, would make a more informed decision than the cookie-cutter judge who has never lived any of these issues?

Sotomayor did not call for a purge of the legal system or cite a need for quotas to ensure there are more colored people on the bench. She just said it might make sense to get more points of view and a diversity of backgrounds on the bench - how is that racist?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Race-Baiting is as American as Apple Pie

The American Dream is thus: anyone can go from hardscrabble luck to self-made success. We all love that story.

Well, in America, nothing is more hardscrabble than being a person of color in a disadvantaged neighborhood. So when somoene like Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee for Supreme Court justice, steps into the spotlight, it's a wonderful moment for our nation. Yes, because the nominee is a Latina from the Bronx.

Am I wrong for assuming that anyone who gets this sort of endorsement from the president is mostly qualified for the job? Or should I be happy that the president, who has access to the most brilliant minds in the country, has chosen someone that a growing percentage of the population can relate to? If America is the model of representative government, why can't this Latino be proud that he's represented in the Supreme Court? Notice how I didn't say "finally represented" in that last sentence - it's not like I believe that just because there are millions of Latinos in this country that we have to put one of our own on the bench; but I do think it's great that a person of color - who would never have had a shot at this appointment 50 years ago - is in the running.

What's wrong with that? Don't Republicans play the race card when they prop up Louisiana governor Bobby Jindhal as the GOP's answer to Obama? Don't Republicans race bait when they run Spanish-language ads in Miami comparing Democrats to Communists? Let us have our moment, please - besides, there's no proof that Obama's pick is some left-of-center radical. In fact, if Judge Sotomayor grew up in a household like mine, she's probably as conservative as any other Republican - so give the woman a chance, Newt Gingrich.

Anyway, the issue here isn't whether Sonia Sotomayor is an unhinged liberal or a conservative blowhard. The issue here is that if Barack Obama were to come out and say "today is Thursday," Ann Coulter and the like would have to argue, for the sake of book deals and appearances on the Fox News Channel, that it's 9 hours since Wednesday but that's what happens when you elect a black president: he tries to dictate the movement of the cosmos. While I don't think our president has that super power (yet!) he certainly has the power to make bold statements with his nominee for our nation's highest court. He's made a terrific choice, one that is a major overture to Latinos who were on the fence about his own candidacy for the White House last year, and one that brings a significant percentage of our population into the political process.

Well done, Mr. President.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They're Coming After Civil Unions Too

The consensus among the well-heeled and educated gays I know is that the California Supreme Court decision to uphold (the discriminatory,hateful) Prop 8 is not worth getting angry about. So, no need to riot or march, just focus on the more progressive states that are doing right by their citizens. Fine, I'm happy to postpone activism for one more cocktail.

But here's the thing kids: the conservative right doesn't care about gay marriage. What they want is the complete anhilation of gay life in this country. Don't believe me? Think I'm being melodramatic? Check out the comment thread on Michelle Malkin's blog post about this latest development on Prop 8. Now that gay marriage has been dashed in the Golden State the hate mongers behind this legislation are gunning to undo civil unions - so what's next?

If you weren't mad before, start re-thinking that:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Will Marriage Make Gay Communities Stronger?

In spite of beauty queens and gossip queens, the slow clip toward marriage equality for gays and lesbians remains steady. In the debate over this issue, supporters of gay marriage claim that communities are strengthened by stable, legally recognized unions. Thanks, Meghan McCain, for saying that. The comment got me to thinking, will gay marriage strengthen the gay community?

As is bound to happen with any group of people, personalities will clash and not everyone, in spite of shared experience and purpose, will get along. Throw in a penchant for doling out cutting one-liners and a me-first-cuz-I've-always-been-a-victim mentality and you've got the current gay conundrum: why do we want civil rights when we can't even be civil with one another?

True and true, I live in New York and I work in media - in other words, I'm not destined to know from nice. From gay OR straight people. But on the premise of shared experience and purpose, I would expect for us gays to, at the very least, be supportive of each other. To root for each other if only to see one of our own forge ahead. But that isn't always the case. If you're a twenty-something year old gay like me, at the crossroads of the Stonewall Riots and Prop 8, a space occupied by the Real World, Gossip Girl and Logo, you don't need a community, you don't need a secret society of other marginalized gays, you're out, loud and proud - the world, miss thang, is your oyster. The only problem with that is that you have a whole generation of gay men who get riled up for a rally or a cause celebre, but who couldn't care less about each other as people. And I'm not pointing fingers here, I'll be the first to tell you that more often than not, I find myself disliking most gay people I meet. It's the Blair Waldorf in me.

So, in the spirit of unity and equality, hours before California Supreme Court decides what to do about the Prop 8 mess, I'm promising to change my hatin' ways and inspire other gays to do the same.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Morocho Takes his Coffee with Legs

I'm finally home after two weeks of cris-crossing through South America for work and play. I'm gayed out, having escorted one very lively group of journalists on a gay scavenger hunt through Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina and then meeting up with my cousins in Cali, Colombia, to explain that yep, much like last year, I'm still gay and quite happy about it.

So, some highlights from this last visit to some of my favorite places in the world:

In Santiago, which is as smoggy, sprawling and devoid of personality as Los Angeles I found that a morning jolt of caffeine need not come from a PhD candidate in a green apron, but rather, a damsel in a g-string and body paint. Blame the trauma of a repressive dictatorship for the phenomenon that is "cafe con piernas," or, coffee with legs. You just rock up to a little cafe in downtown Santiago - there are lots of places like this in the area - and order up your latte or espresso from a busty waitress who, for 1,000 pesos (about $2) will pose for a picture with you (like my friend did here). No one touches anyone and no liquor is served, it's just coffee. With legs. And g-strings. And boobs.

In Buenos Aires, where dark good looks like mine get you called "morocho" (affectionately, of course) I shopped cuz that's what one does when the exchange rate is at a very favorable 4 pesos to the dollar. But the highlight of the trip, which included the sexy Rojo Tango show at the Faena Hotel+Universe, was the Evita suite at the Legado Mitico hotel in the Palermo district. Shopping and gaudy first ladies - this is my kind of town. The highlight of the trip was meeting my new friend Fabian, the tour guide to the stars and the gays, who got me hip to the camp yummyness that is Lia Crucet. See for yourself why I'm obsessed:

And in Cali, Colombia, where I spent many a summer as a kid, I ended a weekend of morning prayers and sing-alongs with cocktails at the Chipichape mall, known to the locals as Chipi-gay cuz it's where the gays go to buy Diesel jeans and cruise. Now, I don't make it a custom to frequent malls when I'm on the road, but you do what you have to for a cocktail in a town where people take their liquor straight up. After two days of pleasantries, it was nice to finally be real with my cousins who said "next time we'll take you on the gay circuit, there are tons of clubs and bars in town." Why no one thought to offer on this trip yo no se, but it was nice of them to think of hooking me up just the same.

And now, back to work...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Quick check in from MIA

Hi kids - I'm the worst blogger ever. On those days when I look out on Times Square from my office, wondering why Rachel Maddow hasn't invited me to guest host for her, I should look back on my carelessness and say, "GCL, you done did this to yourself by neglecting your blog like a cheap trick."

But (I think) I have an excuse. I've been traveling over the past two weeks for work, hitting Chile, Argentina, now Miami, and am off to recoup in Colombia with my fam.

I couldn't even tell you what's happening here in the States unless you care to know about my own life, and let me tell you, this American is not very happy these days. Man problems, y'all. Man problems. That's all I'm gonna say.

But as of Tuesday, May 12th, I promise to bring back the same salty, biting commentary that has endeared this blog to the two of you who still read it. Loves you, kids- and stay tuned for some serious posts.

And if you care to learn a little about where I'm off to, watch this: