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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Lazy Days of Summer Were Anything But

In 1963 the immortal Nat King Cole sang of "Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer." You know, the days of "soda and pretzels and beer." It was a simpler, more idyllic time then. We were in the midst of Camelot. Life was so different then; it is unimaginable. No cell phones, much less smart phones, iPods, Internet, or cable TV were around. The Cold War was still cold although a little skirmish in Southeast Asia was beginning to fester. Stonewall was still 6 years away.

We assume the summer months, the dog days of summer —when school is out, people take their annual vacations, the heat suffocates—are a time when things just decelerate or come to a stop. Yet, the 99 or so days between Memorial Day and Labor Day always seem to be the fastest moving portion of any year's calendar.

As we head to the Labor Day weekend, we can reflect back to the summer of 2010 and characterize how blazing it really has been. Sure, the heat was record-breaking. Everything slows down to a crawl. Dogs are chasing cats while both are walking.

From the BP Oil Spill to the carnage on the streets of Baltimore, this summer has had enough events to fill a highlight—or lowlight—reel. Tempers have been flaring. We witnessed the mosque at Ground Zero controversy, Conservatives begrudging the First Family's taking a vacation, jobs still hemorrhaging, American Idol judges fleeing. And that's before the hotly-contested political season really starts to boil.

For the LGBT community, the summer started off in usual fashion. We experienced a fun-filled Pride weekend that overcame the oppressive heat and humidity. Most folks seemed to be in a good mood as the lgbt community came together for this annual event. Successful Pride celebrations also took place in D.C., Harrisburg, PA and Edgewater, MD throughout the summer.

The dog days took over on cue. As temperatures soared, many flocked to the beach—Rehomo Beach as some call it. Hopefully, they had been enjoying the latest edition of Baltimore OUTloud while sipping a brew or eye-balling those lotioned-up bodies lying under the rainbow umbrellas at Poodle Beach. House parties, dinner parties, block parties, white parties—summer is our time.

Our local lgbt candidates for elected office have braved the heat, humidity and thunderstorms to knock on doors, meet and greet potential voters in a quest to serve their districts. Certainly the lazy days of summer don't apply to them.

But it still seemed like a typical summer around here.

Then the controversy over Target and Best Buy's donations to a group representing Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer hit the fan. The group Emmer is associating with is not only anti-gay but very anti-gay.

“When lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers … used to think about Target and Best Buy, we saw two shining examples of corporations that respected the equality and dignity of every American,” the Human Rights Campaign stated in an open letter to the companies. “Now, Americans are questioning their loyalty to your brands with word of significant contributions to the political action committee MN Forward that hopes to install one of the most strident opponents of equality in the Minnesota Governor’s mansion,” HRC added.

They as well as other organizations such as MoveOn.org called for a boycott. Imagine lgbt people boycotting Target (also dubbed Tar-Gay) and Best Buy? That's akin to children boycotting ice cream. This is the summer of 2010 so the unexpected can be expected.

Then a ray of sunlight broke through the hazy skies of summer when federal judge Vaughn Walker struck down the nefarious Proposition 8 as unconstitutional in California. Although same-sex marriages in the Golden State are on hold at least until December thanks to a stay issued by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the decision was monumental.

Another piece of good news about the lower court's ruling is that it exposed the incredibly weak secular arguments against marriage equality put forth by opponents. Two pathetic witnesses argued for Prop. 8. On the other hand, we had Theodore Olson and David Boies—polar opposites on the political spectrum—presenting an iron-clad case for marriage equality. The decision was a slam dunk.

Failing to muster any kind of legitimate substantive counter-attack concerning the ruling, religious conservative groups reverted to a comfortable place for them: the lowest level. They simply attacked Judge Walker not only for the decision itself but the fact he is gay. By being gay, they concluded he is biased by wanting Prop. 8 nullified. He would not be impartial and should have recused himself from the case.

What they chose not to acknowledge, however, is that a straight judge may also be biased, and therefore, would be prone to uphold the referendum. Ah, those pesky little points! Hopefully, the same compelling arguments against the constitutionality of depriving same-sex couples the right to marry will be eloquently presented to the Supreme Court, which seems inevitable.

As kids begin to buy school supplies or older ones pack up for college, we know that summertime will be transforming rather quickly into fall. While the thermometers may record lower readings, we expect the temperature to rise dramatically during the climax of the 2010 election campaigns—nationally and locally.

Summer of 2010 will soon be in our rear view mirror, but it certainly was not equated with the lazy days of summer of years past nostalgically depicted in song.


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