Washington, D.C.�While the U.S. Senate was voting against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, the House Judiciary Committee voted on an extraordinary measure to strip federal courts� jurisdiction over the federal Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996.
The bill, called the �Marriage Protection Act,� was introduced by Rep. John Hostettler, R-Indiana, on October 16. The version passed by the committee July 14 was amended by the Subcommittee on the Constitution, which is chaired by Cincinnati Republican Steve Chabot.
The bill passed 21-13, with all Republicans and one Democrat, Rick Boucher of Virginia, voting for it. It is scheduled for a full House vote July 22, and is expected to pass, since Republicans dominate the chamber with 228 Representatives. Democrats have 205 members in the House, and there is one independent.
�Stripper� bills remove federal courts� jurisdiction to hear challenges to federal laws under a provision in the Constitution that gives Congress sole power to create lower courts and decide what they have jurisdiction over.
Such measures are rare, and typically used to create courts with special jurisdictions in order to improve access. Bankruptcy courts and special federal administrative courts were created in this fashion.
�Stripper� language is also occasionally inserted into sections of bills to limit judicial review of sections of laws considered settled, or as was used for the sake of expediency in some provisions in the controversial USA PATRIOT(Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act.
The current application is unique in that it seeks to stop courts from hearing challenges to a law passed eight years ago. The Defense of Marriage Act defined marriage as an opposite-sex institution for the purposes of federal law, and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The MPA is written to also prohibit the Supreme Court from hearing challenges to the federal DOMA, though, as witnesses testified, the principle of separation of powers might require that the high court hear challenges as original actions without appeal.
Bringing an original action in the high court is expensive and requires specialized legal expertise.
Proponents say this bypass of normal judicial process is necessary to ensure that courts cannot rule the DOMA unconstitutional in light of the failed constitutional amendment.
Spokesperson Brian Griffith said Chabot does not always believe that it is necessary to keep laws out of courts in order to preserve their presumed constitutionality, but in this case, �there is a chance of seeing DOMA overturned. This is an immediate step we can take� to see that it doesn�t happen.
Opponents say this use of jurisdictional stripping undermines the fundamental system of checks and balances.
The subcommittee heard testimony on the bill June 24. Joining the subcommittee was lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.
�We have always been aware that they might try statutory maneuvers to do what they couldn�t do by constitutional amendment, but the sudden vote on this caught most members by surprise,� said Baldwin.
Baldwin and Democrats Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas and Robert Scott of Virginia attempted to amend the bill to include an exemption allowing DOMA challenges to be brought under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Republicans voted them down.
�Gay marriage does not threaten the future of this country,� said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, at the opening of the hearing. �The evisceration of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights does.�
Nadler said that judicial stripping provisions could cause the Bill of Rights to be �undone by a simple refusal of congress to allow the courts jurisdiction to enforce any particular one of the Bill of Rights.�
Nadler said the committee spent �more time with same-sex marriage than with the means by which we might preserve our democratic form of government if terrorists wiped out our government.�
�One would think of the possibility that somewhere a gay or lesbian couple might live out their years peacefully and happily was a greater threat to the United States than is Al Qaeda,� said Nadler.
Four witnesses testified, three called by Republicans, one by the Democrats.
Republican witnesses were Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the anti-gay Eagle Forum, whose son John is gay; former House member William Dannemeyer, who, as a member of congress said �AIDS is God�s judgement� and attempted to have the six Supreme Court justices who ruled for LGBT equality in the 1997 Romer v. Evans case impeached; and Northwest University law professor Martin H. Redish.
Democrats called William and Mary law professor Michael J. Gerhardt.
�Activist judges will probably declare federal and state DOMAs unconstitutional,� Schlafly said. �We won�t stand for such judicial arrogance. The American people expect Congress to use every constitutional weapon at its disposal to protect marriage from attack.�
�There is an intense cultural war raging in this nation over values. And the issue for the political leadership of this country is whether you, the elected members of Congress, will have the courage to affirm that God exists. That�s the issue,� Dannemeyer said. �The issue of how we define marriage is an important aspect of this cultural war.�
The law professors agreed that it was constitutional to strip jurisdiction from lower courts. Redish believes the attempt to strip jurisdiction from the Supreme Court is also constitutional. Gerhardt disagrees.
However, both professors cautioned the legislators against stripping the courts� jurisdiction in cases such as this.
�[Court-stripping] is the equivalent of nuclear war,� said Redish, �and it�s highly unwise to exercise it.�
�I also firmly believe that were Congress to take such action, it would risk public faith in both Congress and the federal courts,� said Redish.
Gerhardt said that it would be a violation of separation of powers for Congress to pass a law that keeps federal lower courts from invalidating an unconstitutional law and that for Congress to consider it is �playing with fire.�
Gerhardt said Congress has shown �admirable restraint� when using such laws in the past, adding in response to Schlafly, �Distrust of unelected judges does not qualify as a legitimate basis, much less a compelling justification, for congressional action.���
by Eric Resnick
Columbus�There will be eleven openly gay and lesbian Ohio delegates and one alternate at the Democratic National Convention when it opens in Boston July 26.
The twelve were selected in accordance with the party�s affirmative action plan, established in 1999 to make sure that groups historically under-represented have adequate representation.
Ohio will have 159 delegates and 24 alternates at the convention, which has 4,353 delegates overall. The convention will also have 236 LGBT delegates in total, a record number according to the Democratic National Committee. Out lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin is the vice-chair of the convention.
In the selection of at-large delegates, the Ohio Democratic Party gives priority to African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, lesbians and gay men, and women.
The openly gay and lesbian at-large delegates from Ohio are Toledo city council president Louis Escobar, former Dayton city commissioner Mary Wiseman, Joe Lacey of Dayton, Sean Grayson of Galena, Sue Doerfer of Cleveland Heights, Stonewall Columbus executive director Kate Anderson of Powell, and Brian Shinn, Mary Jo Hudson and Beth Buchenroth of Columbus.
John Kolesar of Chagrin Falls was elected to represent the 14th congressional district. The 17th district elected Glorianne Leck of Youngstown as a delegate and Tristan Hand of Warren as an alternate.
Escobar is identified as Hispanic. The rest are Caucasian. Hand and Grayson are also veterans.
All delegates will work on the party�s national platform, which has historically included planks promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
In 2000, the platform called for passage of the lesbian and gay Employment Non-Discrimination Act and an end to discrimination in the military. It also encouraged �full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of the nation� with �an equitable alignment of benefits.�
The number of openly gay and lesbian Ohio delegates this year has increased from five in 2000 under a similar affirmative action plan. Escobar, Shinn and Grayson were delegates to the convention four years agoin Los Angeles.
Ohio�s affirmative action plan was spearheaded by Lynn Greer of Columbus, the only openly gay delegate from Ohio in 1996.
The Ohio Republican Party considers race, gender, and ethnicity when choosing convention delegates, but does not recognize gays and lesbians as a minority group nor ask the sexual orientation of its delegates.
Grayson, Shinn, Hudson, and Buchenroth are committed to John Edwards. The rest are committed to John Kerry. Since Kerry chose Edwards as his vice president after delegates were selected, Edwards� delegates are released to vote for the ticket.����
Warren�City council on July 14 unanimously approved a resolution condemning police profiling, a measure that includes sexual orientation in the definition.
At-large council member Robert Dean Jr. introduced the measure to head off criticism that an upcoming police initiative targets certain communities unfairly.
�We expect in the next two weeks or so there will be increased police activity in designated areas. We don�t want that to be misunderstood,� the African American councilman told WYTV. �There is an element that we plan to root out and introduce them to the criminal justice system.�
Prior to consideration of the resolution, Fourth Ward councilman Robert Holmes III amended it to include sexual orientation in the definition of profiling.
The resolution refers to �the selection of individuals for police activity based upon irrational considerations of race, ethnicity, national original or sexual orientation,� calling it �contrary to the public good, unjust and unacceptable.�
�I believe in diversity,� Holmes said, explaining why he added sexual orientation to the resolution. �I don�t care if you�re talking James Beard or Matthew Shepard, everyone is equal.�
Holmes praised Dean for his sense of justice, noting that he has spent many hours on ride-alongs with Warren police officers to assure the citizens of the city that the police department was acting properly.
�He�s a good man,� Holmes said.
While Holmes did not expect Dean to oppose the addition of sexual orientation to the resolution, he was startled by the lack of opposition to the expansion.
�Nobody even batted an eye, which surprised me,� he said. �It should be a new beginning for Warren. Hopefully, it will open the doors.�
�We applaud Councilman Dean for bringing this resolution to the floor,�
said Tristan Hand, local activist and president of the
Hand ran against Holmes for the Ward Four council seat and lost. However, the two have since forged a formidable alliance. Both have expressed an interest in pushing council for a gay-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.
�I would like to see it,� Holmes said. �I�m sure there would be a lot more opposition to that.�
�It could very well end my future on council, but I�ve done stranger things,� he concluded. �I�m praying on it.��
Presidential election may hinge
With 4% of the vote,
this bloc may be enough to
More than 4.2 million voters�4% of the total�were willing to identify as gay or lesbian as they left the polls during the 2000 presidential election. Their votes were enough in some states to make a difference in whether Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore won those electoral votes.
In the pivotal state of Florida, with 25 electoral votes, 44,723 gay-identified voters supported Bush, giving him the state, which he won by only 537 votes, sending him to the White House. Similarly, Gore won Wisconsin by a margin of only 5,708 votes, and exit polls showed that 36,380 gay-identified voters supported Gore there, giving him that state�s 11 electoral votes.
Both Florida and Wisconsin are up for grabs again this year, along with 14 other states�including Ohio�that are considered �toss-ups� due to the close margins of victory in 2000 and the close polling data coming in now on the race between the incumbent President Bush and the 2004 Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry.
The 4-million-strong gay voting bloc is large enough, once again, to make a difference in a razor-close race. But so are the votes of other constituencies. Jewish voters made up four percent of the electorate in 2000, and 79 percent voted for Gore. Hispanics made up seven percent, and 69 percent voted for Gore. Seven percent of voters said they were �very worried about the stock market,� and 53 percent of this group voted for Gore. Five percent of voters said they live in �small towns��and 59 percent supported Bush.
Interestingly, White House political strategist Karl Rove has said there are 4 million votes to be had among white adults who identify as evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals or fundamentalists but who did not vote in 2000.
With the latest statewide polls showing Bush and Kerry in a dead heat in Florida and New Hampshire and only one to four points apart in most of the toss-up states, constituencies the size of the gay vote could have important consequences for the presidential outcome.
One key question about the gay voting bloc in the toss-up states are: Will one in four gay voters continue to support President Bush this year, as they did in 2000?
Will the gay vote unify?
After Bush announced his explicit support this year for the Federal Marriage Amendment, some gay Republicans who supported him got mad.
Washington, D.C. Councilman David Catania, who told some reporters he had raised as much as $75,000 for Bush and was headed to the Republican National Convention to support him, was furious. He said he would no longer support the Bush re-election effort.
John Farina, a lifelong Republican activist and HIV lobbyist in Cleveland, was so angry at Bush�s support for the constitutional amendment that he quit the party and registered as a Democrat.
Christopher Barron, political director for the Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay Republican group, said Bush�s support for the constitutional amendment could mean a loss of gay votes for Bush.
�There�s no way to dance around the fact that the president has not only jeopardized Log Cabin�s endorsement but the votes of the one million openly gay and lesbian folks who voted [for him] in 2000,� said Barron.
An informal survey of Log Cabin chapters around the country supported the notion that gay Republicans are angry at Bush for his support of the FMA. Surprisingly, very few vocalized any likelihood that they would abandon Bush over the issue and unify the gay vote behind Kerry.
�We support the president, we�ll stand behind him without fail, and we�ll be voting for the president wholeheartedly,� predicted Maurice Bonamigo about the Palm Beach, Florida chapter of Log Cabin. Bonamigo said he�s met the president several times and finds him �very accepting, not judgmental.�
�He accepts people for who they are,� said Bonamigo, who said he has contributed money to the Bush campaign and helped raise �an awful lot of money� for him.
Patrick Killen, president of Log Cabin New Mexico, said he�ll vote for Bush again, too.
�Clearly, a great majority of members are very upset with the president�s advocacy of the Federal Marriage Amendment. There are some members who are so upset . . .that they are not supporting him,� said Killen. �There are other members, like me, who will continue to support President Bush on other conservative issues while strongly disagreeing with his position on the amendment.�
Killen, a college student, has given money to the Bush campaign, will be an alternate from New Mexico to the convention, and has met Bush three times. He and others credit Bush with increased funding for AIDS. John Partain, president of the Philadelphia Log Cabin chapter, said his group took a straw poll in late June and found its members split for and against Bush. He said his chapter members would most likely follow whatever the national Log Cabin board decides in regards to an endorsement.
Log Cabin political director Barron said the organization�s 25-member national board will vote following the Republican National Convention on whether to endorse Bush. He said the board would be consulting with Log Cabin chapters and membership around the country before making its decision and watching the Republican convention very carefully �to see how it unfolds.�
�What happens in New York,� he said, �the tone, the speeches, the platform�are all important. We�ll take everything into consideration and then make an informed decision.�
Crossing the red-blue line
But even if some gay Republicans decide they cannot vote for Bush this year, there is little talk of throwing their vote to the Democrat.
�I�ve been a Republican all my life,� said St. Louis chapter president Rogers. �I just don�t feel comfortable with Kerry.�
Partain of Philadelphia said when his group took its straw poll recently, �nobody said they were for Kerry.�
�The vote was either for or against Bush,� he said.
The gay vote for Bush had impact in only one state in 2000�Florida (25 electoral votes) where approximately 45,000 gay-identified votes supported the Republican�s 537-vote win over the Democrat. Republicans have an interest in keeping gay voters for Bush motivated to go to the polls in Florida. The Republicans may need the gay votes they won in 2000 to secure several other toss-up states this year.
The only other toss-up state where gay voters for Bush in 2000 are strong enough in numbers to make a difference based on the most recent polls is New Hampshire, where the latest poll also shows the candidates in a dead heat. In 2000, gay voters gave Bush about 1,400 votes in New Hampshire.
The gay vote for Democrats is a different story. In 2000, the number of gay-identified voters who supported Gore was large enough to give Gore the margin of victory in at least four toss-up states: Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. Should that turn-out stand firm behind Kerry this year, it would�according to the latest polling�be large enough to give Kerry a victory in four states: Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Washington.
In Michigan, the candidates are two percent apart, which represents about 86,500 voters; gay voters for Gore in 2000 numbered 118,500. In Washington state, Bush and Kerry are one point apart, and the gay vote for Gore in 2000 easily covered that spread. One point in Washington equals almost 25,000 votes, and 52,000 gay voters supported Gore.
So far, there has been little evidence to suggest that gay voters who supported Gore in 2000 are prepared to abandon Kerry this year. Despite his opposition to allowing gay couples to obtain marriage licenses and his words of support for a Massachusetts legislative proposal to amend that state�s constitution to ban same-sex marriages, Kerry is seen by most gays as a much stronger supporter of equal rights for gay people than Bush.
Also, as in the past, longtime gay Democratic activists are already busy raising money in the community to support Kerry. At a political fundraising dinner in New York June 25, gay Democratic Party activists raised $1.8 million for Kerry and the Democratic National Committee, according to the New York Times. Gay Democratic activist David Mixner said that take was �an all time record� for a one night political event in the gay community. Mixner said the collective efforts of gay Democratic activists have raised $2.5 million in just two weeks of June. He said he and others will now be turning their efforts toward a �Ripple of Hope� web site that raised $100,000 by the end of June. He said rock singer Melissa Etheridge would be sending out an e-mail plea to over 50,000 names, soliciting donations to the site.
And last month, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation�s largest gay political organization, endorsed Kerry.
Similarly, there has been no evidence to suggest gay voters who supported independent candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 will vote differently this year. About four percent of the gay-identified voters at the exit polls in 2000 voted for Nader. In 2000, the Florida gay voters for Nader numbered more than 7,100�enough to change the outcome had Nader not been in the race.
Clearly, as history dramatically illustrated in the 2000 election, in a close race every vote counts.
Lisa Keen is the co-author of Strangers
to the Law: Gay People on Trial and has
Campaign to defeat marriage ban amendment renamed
Columbus�The campaign to stop the Ohio constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships will focus on protecting the state constitution, according to the leaders of the newly named Ohioans Protecting the Constitution.
OPC is an arm of Ohioans for Growth and Equality, which hired staff and began raising funds as soon as the proposed amendment was announced last April.
�Proponents want to stand the Constitution on its head,� said campaign manager Alan Melamed at a July 18 statehouse press conference, �[changing it] from a shield to protect families to a weapon used against them.�
�The point of this campaign is, this is not the way we�re going to protect the state of Ohio,� Melamed continued.
The campaign also announced the hiring of a finance director, Ariana Adams of Columbus. Previously of New York, Adams raised funds for non-profit organizations helping chemically-dependent women.
The campaign will focus on educating the public to fight amending the Constitution, instead of making the case in favor of marriage equality.
�Political campaigns are designed to address what�s on the ballot,� said Melamed, �and this is a political campaign.�
�And our objective is to get people to say no to the constitutional amendment in a truthful and honest way and by showing how the amendment impacts all Ohioans.�
He said the campaign would �embrace politicans with [Democratic presidential candidate] John Kerry�s view on marriage,� as well as those with views more favorable to full same-sex marriage.
Kerry opposes same-sex marriage but favors civil unions.
Melamed said the campaign would embrace the June 23 statement by �defense of marriage act� sponsor Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati in opposition to the amendment in which Seitz said he opposes the amendment because it is �poorly written.�
Statements by Gov. Bob Taft will also be used by the campaign. Taft told the Columbus Dispatch in a June 25 story, �I think the [DOMA] law is sufficient. I believe we�ve addressed the issue and don�t need a constitutional amendment.�
A week later, Taft�s spokesperson Orest Holubec told the Gay People�s Chronicle that the governor does not oppose the measure.
�The governor has no opposition to amending the constitution, though he thinks it�s unnecessary,� Holubec said July 1.
Melamed said the campaign will have enough money to challenge the petition forms submitted in each county in an attempt to keep the amendment off the ballot, though he added, �The possibility of doing that is not that great.�
Estimates by Ohioans for Growth and Equality put the needed amount around $250,000. Amendment proponents need to collect 322,899 signatures of registered voters in 44 of Ohio�s 88 counties by August 4.
Phil Burress, who heads the proponent group Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, said his group expects to turn in 500,000 signatures on August 4. The group has extended its internal collection deadline from July 21 to July 31.
His group, based in Cincinnati, has been collecting signatures in churches and through gathering efforts utilizing lists of names submitted by national anti-gay groups, including the American Family Association in Tupelo, Mississippi and Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Burress said he expects 20 to 40 percent of the signatures will be rejected.
�That�s normal for a petition campaign,� said Burress. �Forty percent is the worst case scenario.�
In the event of a shortfall, petitioners will have an additional ten days to collect the rest.
Burress categorically rejected claims made in a flyer being distributed by signature gatherers directing people to his organization�s website and that of www.citizenlink.org, a Focus on the Family project.
The flyer suggests that same-sex marriage will lead to �group marriage, or marriage between cousins, or marriage between daddies and little girls.�
For more information on the efforts to defeat the constitutional amendment,
Cincinnati�With the repeal of the City Charter�s Article 12 headed to the ballot November 2, Citizens to Restore Fairness met with Rev. Steven Baines of People For the American Way and members of the Disciples of Christ to help plan special outreach to churches.
Baines is the senior organizer for religious affairs with PFAW in Washington, D.C., a national civil rights and constitutional liberties group that has vigorously opposed discrimination against lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS.
Baines and Ron Warns of the Queen City Careers Association spoke about the repeal efforts under a dozen stained glass windows and two rainbows in the church�s sanctuary.
Article 12 forbids city council to pass laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation. It excludes gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from rights afforded other citizens, including the right to petition Cincinnati for protection from discrimination.
Baines offered hope for gays and non-gay supporters in the campaign to
The cause of the 1993 passage of Article 12 is �one dirty, four-letter word,� said the Rev. Baines. �It is fear. Fear is what keeps Article 12 on the books. Fear drives those who don�t want repeal, but our love casts out fear as fear casts out love. Each of us has a choice in which of these realities we will live in. I choose the reality of loving, not fear.�
�I believe that on November 2 we will end the rejection of God�s people. Give God your love,� concluded Rev. Baines, �and this church your hand.��
Out and excellent
LGBT music awards reveal a new depth and maturity
The fourth annual OutMusic Awards ceremony, held in New York City on June 13, conferred awards on twelve different musicians and groups. Listening to the well-deserved honorees, it�s clear that LGBT music has entered a new era of artistic maturity. Rather than reinforcing the mistaken notion that �indie artist� is a euphemism for mediocre ability, the award recipients have created deeply thought out, well-produced efforts that consistently demonstrate a level of artistic excellence absent from much of the commercial pop market.
Ten of the twelve recipients were chosen by industry professionals and music critics. The remaining two, OutSong of the Year and OutMusician of the Year, were chosen by OutMusic.com members.
Outstanding New Recording, Female
From her first lines, �Jersey troopers take a walk/high paid lawyers bargain talk/of the poison in the system,� Pamela Means comes armed with more than an acoustic guitar. A self-described Boston-based �Out (spoken), Biracial indie folk artist [with a] �kamikaze guitar style,� � Means wastes no time taking on everything from Halliburton�s Dick Cheney to racial profiling. She also writes a number of deep love songs, all sung in her half-spoken, deceptively little-girl voice. This may not be the happiest of albums, but its eye-opening reality reminds us how lucky we are to be alive as others serve as fodder for the empire.
Outstanding New Recording, Male
No one but a fag would pose in an ill-fitting suit of shining armor big enough to cover a man and a half. Our prince may not have the voice of the century, but his first track, which takes on a mixed up world in which straight men read fashion magazines, immediately lets us know which side he carries his sword on.
This major studio effort is distinguished by lavish orchestral arrangements, in part created by Wainwright himself. Although I must confess a nagging suspicion that if OutMusic judges had not been asked to rate discs on the basis of Performance, Production, and Overall Impression, a disc with less emphasis on production values might have won, there are a lot of those here. The musical quotation from Ravel�s Bolero on �O What a World� is a trip.
Outstanding New Recording, Debut Female
It may not seem like deep criticism to declare �what a great voice,� but there�s something so right, so central about Foster�s freshwoman rock effort that makes it irresistible. Her diction is perfect, her songs about relationship universal in their relevance, and the arrangements great. Foster has assembled a great (male) band, who do full justice to songs such as �She� that won first prize in the Great American Songwriting contest�s Pop division. Sometimes lyrics and music don�t fit together, but Foster�s music is all of a piece. A great album.
Outstanding New Recording, Debut Male
The good news is that Jim Verraros and singer/songwriter/producer Gabe Lopez are currently re-recording and remixing this winner for a major label debut on Koch Records. Rather than review the issue that won an award, I note that Jim was an American Idol Top 10 finalist in 2002 and can be heard on the Bi the People CD compilation. His indie flick Eating Out has played to sold out audiences in New York, London and Toronto. You can get a nice taste of his music at his web site, but his forthcoming professional remix is the way to hear him.
Outstanding New Recording, Duo or Group
I confess. I love Girlyman. The three artists, one of whom is male, reject traditional gender roles while performing mostly original folk/rock tunes that have a sweet, retro feel to them. Their uncomplicated melodies � there�s even a cha-cha � are delivered with a lightness of voice and acoustic instrument that all but heavy metal die-hards will find a delight. Most of the cuts � some dealing with heavy stuff � are about love and relationship, mixing nostalgia and sadness with a perfect blend of light voices. Their cover of George Harrison�s �My Sweet Lord� induces smiling flashbacks. Given a song such as �Amaze Me� that addresses the chemical water of New York�s dirty harbor and the possibility of ecological Armageddon, reincarnating in the past seems a great way to go.
Outstanding New Recording, Band
This woman gets down. From tackling prostitution to spiritual transcendence, there�s a profound sadness to Lo Presti�s powerful voice that speaks of a life fully lived and loved. Her lyrics unflinchingly tackle light and dark, allied to music powerful and biting. Lo Presti commands respect with her consistent depth of observation and great voice. If the American masses could face the issues at hand with the same technical and musical proficiency of this band, we�d be in a very different place. Anyone with the strength to title their first CD Dear Mr. Penis Head deserves an award. Great music.
Outstanding New Recording, Chorus or Choir
Discovering that most nominees in this category address either Christ or Christmas can cause a reviewer to take pause, but hearing this astounding transgender gospel choir sing with a fervor and spirit that declare Jesus as real as the gender they�ve embraced, one can�t help but feel the spirit. This is as good as gospel gets. With diversity-affirming sermons by the extraordinary Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, and some tracks recorded live, this Bay Area-based ensemble transcends oppression with a faith and love that make you rejoice in being alive and gay. Prepare to stand up and shout; you�ll be playing this disc over and over.
Outstanding New Recording, Instrumental
Although the Jewish word klezmer literally translates as �vessel of song,� the term has come to signify the Jewish dance music played at weddings, parties and festivals. Thus it comes as a surprise to discover this marvelously produced disc alternating between the exuberantly upbeat and slower, far more introverted selections. The 20 tracks include songs drawn from historic Yiddish film, scratchy 80-year-old 78s of theater music, the musical Oliver, and tape recordings of vocalist Deborah Karpel�s grandfather Phillip. Sometimes introduced by excerpts from the original material, the impeccably performed selections are graced by a love and reverence that make listening a spiritual experience.
Exactly what makes Jinx Titanic a better producer than anyone else is not clear from Vol II. Regardless, his frequently nasty, cum-stained vocals prove that not all bad boys are straight. Beneath the cigar-breath lyrics are automatic rifle riffs of raucous electric guitar, drums and bass guaranteed to kill your house plants. If you like someone who talks dirty, rubs your face in raw queerness, and has a good time in the process, by all means shoot your load on Jinx Titanic.
The songs on Michael Holland�s fourth disc, all written, produced, and arranged by him, span an impressively diverse range of styles and feelings. Taken as a whole, they bespeak pop brilliance. Melodies are attractive and in the groove, arrangements superb, and lyrics the kind that make you want to listen. From the lightness of �Boys Say Go� (�Miss Thing will hit the streets tonight�) to the darkness of �If She Really Loved You,� there�s a depth here well worth exploring.
OutSong of the Year
�Honest World� brought me close to tears. Written in 2002, this previously unreleased song addresses the pernicious affect of so-called born-again Christianity and societal oppression on LGBT love. One of twelve cuts on Curtis� Acoustic Valentine assemblage of original love songs penned between 1988 and 2002, the song�s final kicker, �Some day I trust love will make an honest world of us� says it all. To this recently married critic, the �Honest World� section about lesbian and gay marriage seems prescient of the present turn of events. Curtis� fine voice and superb diction are wedded to a clear vision of what our community needs. You really must hear this song. Brava!
OutMusician of the Year
Guitar-wielding, spoken word folk poet Alix Olson receives this honor as much for her artistry as for what she has done with it. The woman tells it like it is on two CDs, as well as in performances around the county. With backing from such acoustic musicians as OutMusic Award recipient Pamela Means, Olson�s breathy recitations lay bare the underbelly of American life. As a veritable model for queer youth, Olson has graced the cover of Ms. magazine and received the �Visionary Award� from the D.C. Rape Crisis Center for her �exceptional commitment to the promotion of social justice.� Thank you, Alix.