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Thom Watson
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Magazine editor in chief. Gamer. Reader. Writer. Civil rights activist. Atheist. Gay. Dance/musical theater fan. Married to Jeff Tabaco.
Magazine editor in chief. Gamer. Reader. Writer. Civil rights activist. Atheist. Gay. Dance/musical theater fan. Married to Jeff Tabaco.

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On to happier and more exciting news... this coming Monday I start a brand-new chapter in my professional life, as I take on the managing editor role at Dance Studio Life Magazine, a print publication aimed at dance education and dance educators.

At first reading that may seem a bit out of left field, especially for those who only know me casually or through my advocacy or information technology work, but it's actually not as much of a stretch as it might sound. Before I entered IT, after all, I was a researcher, writer, and editor, and throughout my career even afterwards I tended to take positions at the intersection of communications and technology, leaning more towards the former as much as possible (the exceptions, when I was purely a technical manager, in fact, I found least fulfilling). And even then I kept writing and publishing, albeit online more often than in print.

When I left my last professional position in order to devote myself full-time for a while to volunteerism and advocacy, I came to realize that it was the communications work that most drove me, and that the technology for me had only ever been just been a platform and a means for doing that other work.

I also realized -- leading up to deciding to resign from that position, and in the ongoing self-evaluation that followed -- that life was too short to do things that didn't inspire me to be a better person or to make the world a better, or at least a more bearable, place. I promised myself that when I took another professional job, it would be only in one of the following fields, those that I particularly (but not exclusively) consider meaningful to those ends: advocacy (especially but not limited to civil liberties), science, arts, or education, and with bonus points for an opportunity that would allow me to work for or with kids, who are, to pardon the platitude, our future.

Honestly, I never imagined that would bring me to working on a dance education magazine, but after I was first asked if it were something I might consider, and I thought about it just a little while, it came to feel perfectly opportune and appropriate. It combines at a minimum arts and education, after all, and it gets the bonus points as well; one could even argue that there's an element of advocacy involved, in encouraging both kids and adults to pursue dance as either vocation or avocation, but I don't need to push the point too far. Moreover, dance is a shared passion for Jeff and me. We're both longtime San Francisco Ballet subscribers and aficionados, he takes ballet classes and tweets regularly about dance, and I was an avid folk dancer (mostly contra dancing and modern Western square dancing, the latter to the Challenge-2 level) for many years. 

I may not have the specific dance-related training or knowledge of the other staff at the magazine, but in exchange I hope to bring a fresh perspective along with my managerial experience. I'm looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to keep learning.

After 38 straight wins at the federal level, a federal judge today broke the streak, finding Louisiana's marriage ban to be constitutional. The opinion is not only outside the mainstream of both jurisprudence and public opinion, it's an ugly example of anti-gay bigotry in an of itself, and betrays a horrifying ignorance of the actual text of the Constitution, by a federal judge.

The judge refers to homosexuality as one of several "lifestyle choices"; intuits a slippery slope to legalized incestuous marriages and polygamy; and opines that gay people can be barred from marriage because it's important for the state to link kids to both biological parents in an intact family structure (even though the state of Lousiana doesn't 1) require couples who have children together to marry; 2) ban those parents from divorcing; or 3) ban non-biological parents from adopting).

The judge also bases his legal arguments largely on the dissenting opinions in other cases. The dissenting opinions are from the side that lost; to cite those arguments, and to ignore the majority opinions, which are the actual precedents that should be applied, suggests that his reasoning is not based in sound jurisprudence, but in personal animus.

The judge also betrays that he doesn't even know the language of the 14th amendment, or misunderstands the meaning of the word "expressly," writing that "Heightened scrutiny was warranted in Loving because the Fourteenth Amendment expressly condemns racial discrimination as a constitutional evil; in short, the Constitution specifically bans differentiation based on race." 

In fact, "race" is not expressly mentioned in the 14th Amendment. This is what the 14th Amendment actually says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". Note the words used: "all persons," "citizens of the United States," "any person," "equal protection." (One could argue that the 14th Amendment was "implicitly" about race, though clearly not "expressly," and in any case it has routinely been used by the Supreme Court to address all sorts of equal protection issues, not just those involving racial discrimination.)

To this judge, then, LGBT people and same-sex couples essentially are non-people and non-citizens.

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When the governor signs the bill, California will become the first state to impose a ban on the so-called "gay panic" defense that has allowed more lenient sentencing or even acquittal when the defendant has claimed that a crime was committed against an LGBT person because of the "panic" that the defendant felt about his or her victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yes, this is a real thing. People actually have received reduced sentences, have had their pleas reduced (e.g., from murder to manslaughter), or have been acquitted even after murdering a gay or transgender person, using the defense that they panicked over the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity or because they felt that the LGBT person had made an unwanted pass at them. 

The American Bar Association last year passed a resolution calling for such bans on "gay panic" defenses, but so far only California has followed through.

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Was it just me, or did Travis Wall's gorgeous and moving opening number for So You Think You Can Dance feel like a tribute to marriage equality?

Group Performance: Top 4 Perform | SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE | FOX BROADCASTING

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Somehow I missed this story earlier this week. Thanks to John Becker for drawing my attention to it. In a nutshell, an IU study purports to show that straight people don't think that same-sex couples are as much "in love" as they believe similarly situated opposite-sex couples are; moreover, they believe that the more "in love" a couple is, the more rights they merit, including the right to marry.

"Researchers have found one more incomplete and unsatisfying explanation for why LGBT people don’t have equal rights: Non-LGBT people just don’t think same-sex couples are 'as in love' as heterosexual ones. A study out of Indiana University found that sexual orientation weighs heavily on how loving couples are perceived to be by other people, who tend to place opposite-sex partnerships on a pedestal. This perception, in turn, affects how many formal and informal rights LGBT couples 'deserve' as far as the general public is concerned, according to study author Long Doan.

"...The researchers found that respondents reacted quite differently to each type of couple: Participants essentially ranked the amount of love partners had for one another hierarchically by sexual orientation, with opposite-sex couples being perceived as 'most in love,' followed by same-sex female couples and then same-sex male couples.

"Interestingly — and perhaps most upsettingly — participants noted that couples who were believed to be most in love deserved more rights than others, from the right to hold hands in public to the right to marry. ..."

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/18/more_love_more_rights/

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"Also opening is Love Is Strange. There is no nudity. There are no sexual situations. The drug or alcohol material mostly consists of adults having wine with dinner, or cocktails at a bar. There is no violence or gore. There are several scenes of men kissing, and two scenes of a gay couple sleeping together, fully clothed, in bed. It is rated R.

"...Not only is there nothing violent in Love Is Strange, there's not even anything explicit. It is about as mild and mainstream a portrayal of gay life as you can imagine. Ben, played by John Lithgow, is a 71-year-old retiree. George, played by Alfred Molina, is a music teacher at a Catholic school. In the film, they have been together for nearly 40 years (until, in a unfair and sudden reversal of fortune, they lose their apartment).

"It's a simple human story. And it is very hard to imagine that — if it starred, say, Robert Duvall and Jane Fonda as a similar long-time couple suddenly facing homelessness — it would be lumped in with movies crammed full of queasily stylish sexism and sickening torture porn.

"...This is a gentle, if often heartbreaking story about two loving men in a long-time committed relationship. What on earth is in it that so horrifies the MPAA?

"I'm sorry. I think I just answered my own question."

http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/08/why_the_mpaa_thinks_all_gay_people_should_be_rated_r.html

Sadly, though not unexpectedly, the Supreme Court has granted a stay in the Virginia marriage equality case, so marriages will not begin tomorrow as had been hoped. The stay will be in effect until either the Supreme Court denies a writ of certiorari in the case (i.e., officially decides not to hear the case), or until it issues a ruling in the case if it grants certiorari. So it's likely that marriages will not begin in Virginia until next June at the earliest, assuming the Court takes this or another marriage equality case this fall.

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ARMAGAYDDON: Witty Irish marriage equality video inspired by zombie films.

"The weddings were... unbelievable. I felt just completely underdressed." "And the cakes were... they were..." "Amazing."

LGBT Noise March for Marriage - 24th August 2014

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See equality's brand-new home! Marriage Equality USA unveils its newly redesigned, state-of-the-art website, featuring new and expanded features for our members, the media, and the public. 

http://marriageequality.org
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