April 2011

No Defense for DOMA

If you're not sure what the Defense of Marriage Act is, read What is DOMA?.

On February 23 of this year, we have United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sending a letter to Congress stating that the Justice Department has changed its position on DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. The Justice department will take the position in court, and more specifically in two pending cases, that the Defense of Marriage Act should be struck down as a violation of same-sex couples' rights to equal protection under the law. The objections of the Justice Department are that, first, section 3 of DOMA violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment with respect to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law.

In response, House Speaker John Boehner and

What is DOMA?

Everything you wanted to know, but didn't know to ask

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C is a United States federal law regarding the definition of marriage and asserting that states without same-sex marriage are not required to acknowledge the validity of same-sex marriages granted in other states. DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. DOMA was at least partially inspired by the actions of Hawaii, among other states, that at the time was about to pass a law legalizing same-sex marriage. Groups on either side of the same-sex marriage debate were concerned about the effect legal same-sex marriage in one state, on other states. Legal same-sex marriage in one state could conceivably require other states to recognize that validity of that marriage under Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Article IV Section 1 asserts that any state has to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state."

Renaissance attitudes towards cross-dressing women


The attitude towards cross-dressing people in the modern days seems to include two ideas: one, that it is performance—individuals cross-dress temporarily to express some of the other gender for a limited time; or two, cross-dressers are illustrating their wish to be the other gender outwardly, specifically to act out their homosexual desires.  These days, outside of drag queens dressed like Babs or Cher, cross-dressing is rarely viewed as a desirable phenomenon.

Equal Marriage or None At All

Kentucky church won't sign another marriage license until gay marriage is legal in the US

Here’s a vote of solidarity in a state where you might not expect it. The Douglass Boulevard Christian Church will no longer be signing marriage licenses for straight couples until they can also sign them for gay folks. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the church has made a bold statement in favor of marriage equality. 

Good on Douglass Boulevard for literally practicing what they preach. They’re a self-declared “Open and Affirming” community of faith, committed to fully accepting everybody, and they are actually making steps against discriminatory practices.  They will still perform religious ceremonies for heterosexual couples but are exempting themselves from signing legal marriage licenses. 

Tennessee Teachers Can't Say "Gay"

New bill prohibits classroom discussions of homosexuality

The Tennessee state Senate committee has approved a bill that would ban the use of the word “gay” in elementary school classrooms.

The bill, dubbed the “don't say gay” bill, is intended to prevent teachers from discussing homosexuality with students who have not yet entered the ninth grade. Sorry, gay middle school kids—according to Tennessee, you don't exist.

This kind of erasure comes at a nasty time. Many of the gay youths who took their own lives over the past year had not yet entered the ninth grade. Now, lawmakers are trying to deepen their invisibility by making their identity a sexual slur.

I love my publisher!

Peachpit/Pearson on It Gets Better

Peachpit has been one of my favorite publishers for, well, a very long time, because they publish the Visual QuickStart Guides. I've used these to teach myself, (see for instance the excellent JavaScript and Ajax for the Web by Negrino and Smith. I've also used Peachpit books from several series to teach with. Consequently, I was delighted to be one of the co-authors for the Peachpit iPad Project Book. But then yesterday, I found this video from Peachpit and their parent company, Peason.

"Third gender" is more acceptable and visible outside of western eyes


Westerners often think the distinction between men and women, male and female, is written in stone, as easy as Adam and Eve.  This is a myth. Not too long ago, pink used to be a color for baby boys; blue, light and soothing, was used for girls. Qualifications of what it means to be a woman or man based on biological sex, too, isn’t more reliable; Oprah’s been telling us for years.


But outside of the western hemisphere, distinctions between men and women can become a bit more fluid. In Thailand, Albania, Serbia, and Indonesia, individuals of a “third gender,” or people with gender identities or biology outside of either distinctly “male” or “female,” play prominent and often well-accepted roles in society.