Thursday, February 28, 2013

Amicus Briefs from NEA and Labor

Just received this as a member of The National Education Association's Committee on Sexual Orientation and Sexual Identity.  Hot off the presses:

    Attached (see below) are the final versions of the amicus briefs that we are filing with the Supreme Court later today and tomorrow in the gay marriage cases – the Perry case, which raises the question of whether a state may amend its constitution to define marriage as an institution reserved solely to different sex couples, and the Windsor case, which raises the question of whether the federal government may define marriage for purposes of federal law as reserved solely to different sex couples.  The briefs – in brief – are as follows:   

                In the Perry case, we filed a brief in partnership with CTA detailing why Proposition 8 will not alter the public school curriculum in California in the manner its proponents have urged.  Instead, we point out that the only educational impact of Proposition 8 is to further isolate and subject to bullying the children of same sex couples and LGBT students.  Hat tips to Cyndi Prince in Research and Paul Sathrum in HCR for their able research assistance and to Law Fellow Zac Ista for his work on the brief.  

                In the Windsor case, we filed a brief in partnership with the rest of organized labor (the AFL and Change to Win) detailing the economic costs that DOMA inflicts on lesbian and gay married couples.  By virtue of the fact that DOMA defines marriage as solely the union of a woman and a man for all purposes under federal law, DOMA places off limits to same sex couples a myriad of economic benefits provided to different sex couples ranging from spousal health coverage, to spousal social security benefits, to Family & Medical Leave, to COBRA and HIPAA protections, to tax incentives to private employers for family health care coverage, to the full spectrum of benefits provided to spouses of federal employees.  The brief details at length how DOMA, by intention and design, ensures that workers with same-sex spouses earn less money, pay higher taxes on their wages and benefits, and have available to them fewer valuable benefits including immigration rights than their counterparts with different sex spouses.  These costs are significant and striking.  For example, in the worst case scenario, a same sex couple partnered for 46 years can expect to expend an additional $211,993 to obtain health care coverage due to DOMA.   On an annual basis, the health care costs inflicted by DOMA on federal employees can add up to $3,000 per year.  Similarly, in terms of retirement, DOMA operates to deprive same sex retired couples approximately $5,700 a year in Social Security benefits.  Hat tip to Jason Walta for his work on the brief.

                The briefs will be filed later today and tomorrow.  Argument in the cases is scheduled for March 27th, with decisions not expected until the end of this Court’s term.

Contact me via comments below or on Facebook with an email address if you wish a full copy of the brief. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013


So here they all are.  My predictions for SHOULD WIN, COULD WIN, and WILL WIN are color coded as noted.

AND Now as the show begins I will  highlight the winners...  Stay with me!

     Best Picture

    Best Director

    Best Actor
    Best Actress
    Best Supporting Actress
   Best Supporting Actor

   Best Original Screenplay
   Best Adapted Screenplay
Cinematography -                  Life of Pi
Visual Effects -                      Life of Pi
Costumes -                            Anna Karinina
Make Up -                             Les Miserábles 
Documentary Feature -         Searching for Sugar Man.
Foriegn Language Film -      Amour
Sound Mixing -                     Les Miserábles
Sound Editing -                     Zero Dark Thirty
Editing -                                Argo
 Production Design -             Lincoln
Best Musical Score -             Life of Pi
Best Original Song -             Skyfall

OSCAR Red Carpet (continued)

Anne Hathaway - I have tried and tried to like this dress, but it's all wrong.
It's an apron with all sorts of unneeded and horrible additions.

George Clooney's beard has the stunning dress of the night.

I am in love with Charlize Theron. Perfect.
Sorry, Sally Fields.  I still love you, but that dress is too bright and looks like a Cypress Garden Southern Belle lost her hoops.

Kerry Washington.  Fun. Not red carpet. lose the bow.
Amanda Seyfried - too heavy.  Not her! The dress.... never mind. Just saw it full length.
Melissa McCarthy.. how a full-figured woman SHOULD NOT dress.   Is that grey jersey? Yards a nd yards of it.  

Octavia Spencer.  Beautiful!  A full-figured woman that knows how to work it.
Reese Louis Vuitton.  Black and Blue.  Love it.

Amy Adams.  Not so much.  bad boob fit.
Reese Witherspoon has great hair.

Jessica Chastain.  Monotone that woks.  Looks like a bronze with crystal beading. Fit is perfect. Elegant.
Amani Prive.

I reallllllly, reallllly want Hugh Jackman to win.  If there is only one upset, let it be Wolverine.

6:09 PM
Eddie Redmayne got his hair caught in something.  Still love him.

OSCAR Red Carpet Live Blog

Oscar 2013

1:53  PM

Not even 2 PM and E! has the red carpet countdown.  SHOES! ... and Kyle is off buying snacks.  Jimmy Chu was mentioned.  Christmas Eve 2011 at the cathedral in Atlanta, Kyle spotted Jimmy Choo shoes.  Seriously?  You can llok at shoe and know?  That's Kyle!


Boob tricks.  The side boobs held in place by double sided tape... and specially designed boob stickers.  TMI.  (FYI: Google search for "side boob" yields some really tasteless stuff.)

 Listening to Adele, who will perform tonight AND win an Oscar for "Skyfall."

BARBRA!  Tonight for the first time since 1977 Barbra Streisand will sing onstage. According to Perez Hilton (Eeewwww, I looked at that page) she will sing, Memories.  Don't you mean "The Way We Were?" Wow.  I hope she has updated her fashion choice.


Sissy + archery = Arrowtini.  Seriously.


Life of Pi trained tiger demo.  Almost went bad.  What fun! ?


E!'s filling until 5:30 when their official red carpet ... some interesting flashbacks to previous risk that paid off.  My favorite, Halle Berry in Ellie Saab (2002)

Kyle is all about Cate Blanchett in Givenchy Haute Couture

George Papadalapolous (or something like) that picked Michelle Williams in 2006 wear a yellow/saffron vintage inspired dress by Vera Wang.

Now my best friend and I settle in for the red carpet...

Now onto part 2.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

OSCAR Tomorrow - My Best Picture Pick+

Best Picture: here they are again:
    My predictions:
SHOULD WIN: Silver Linings Playbook

So here they all are.  Tomorrow I will live blog and update with winners.  For now my predictions for SHOULD WIN, COULD WIN, and WILL WIN are color coded as noted.

     Best Picture

    Best Director

    Best Actor
    Best Actress
    Best Supporting Actress
   Best Supporting Actor

   Best Original Screenplay
   Best Adapted Screenplay

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Friend, The President

In case you haven't been paying attention the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on two cases affect the rights of Gay Men and Lesbians in March.  One deal with Proposition 8 and I have been writing about that.  The other seeks to overturn DOMA, the poorly named "Defense of Marriage Act," which does nothing but strip me of any federal rights and responsibilities shared by couples in opposite sex marriages.

The administration which actually supports my rights under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution to Due Process and Equal Protection.  In order to qualify the court must establish that LGBT people are a protected class due higher scrutiny.  Protected Class means that the court must determine that a group has been subjected to discrimination due to be a member of that group.  In the Prop 8 case the AFER group is following through with defending this.

However the congress, or t least the Republicans  in Congress, which created DOMA is not happy that the President is refusing to defend DOMA.  So the Republicans, as only Republicans can, created their own bipartisan group.  It of course is not bipartisan, but it sounds good, so BLAG (The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group with our tax dollars, to argue that the court should not overturn, indeed refuse to rule, on DOMA.

This of course put the the President in the position of having to tell the court why they should consider the 14th Amendment and even if the don't they should strike down DOMA on its merits, or lack thereof.
Edith Windsor Image by Richard Drew / AP

The case was brought by 83 year old widow Edith Windsor, who though legally married was forced to pay federal inheritance tax that other widows would not have had to pay.  Windsor's wife, Thea Spencer died in 2009. They were married in 2007 after a "40 year engagement" according to the New York Times. 

The Administration has filed and amicus brief asking the court to rule in favor of Windsor and declare DOMA unconstitutional.

Read about the brief here.

Read more about Edith Windsor here.

OSCAR in 2 Days - Best Picture

Going to drag this one out and share some thoughts today.  Predictions tomorrow. 

Best Picture
  • Amour – Margaret MenegozStefan ArndtVeit Heiduschka, and Michael Katz
    • Way too slow, too esoteric.  Not a chance to win.  Foreign Language for sure.
  • Argo – Grant HeslovBen Affleck, and George Clooney
    • This was a great movie.  My only complaint was the edge of your seat ending felt contrived.  (As I was writing an MSNBC story confirms that this is CONTRIVED.) That seems to be an issue with me in my dotage. I had the same issue with The Impossible. However this was a wonderful film.  Foriegn intrigue, a Hollywood connection and the inside working of a true story of national interest.  Can the snubbing of Affleck give this film a boost? 
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, and Michael Gottwald
    • Sorry, regardless of my education on the value of the film, its complexity and symbolism I just did not like it.  For me it was with Winter's Bone in the genre of Hollywood living in luxury and making what one commentator called Poverty Porn.  Child abuse, people reveling in their poverty and refusing help just makes me feel  hopeless.
  • Django Unchained – Stacey SherReginald Hudlin, and Pilar Savone
    • I'd like to speculate on which films would not have made the cut under the old system of 5 nominees.  I am afraid this still would be in the list, but not for me.  Tarantino's "I'm hip and you're not" attitude does not contribute to society let alone film making.  If I could shake off that prejudice and just see this film as Mel Brooks with gratuitous gore I might be able to like it.  That aside it was still about an hour too long.  More of Tarrantino basking in his own glow.
  • Les Misérables – Tim BevanEric FellnerDebra Hayward, and Cameron Mackintosh
    • I have been waiting and waiting for this film and the build up could only lead to disappointment.  But while others found lots of fault and it generated a plethora of Russell Crowing "signing" jokes I loved it. I tried to suspend comparison to the Broadway show, but in the end the comparison is what made me appreciate the show.  The film uses the big screen to make the experience more intimate.  Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" is the most celebrated example, but there are many more.  Eddie Redmayne delivered fine singing and a very personal "Empty Chairs."  Hugh Jackman's amazingly diverse ability was brought to a wider audience. Sorry to dis my secret boyfriend, but I find his singing to nasal to "enjoy," but his performance here and on Broadway make that objection melt away.  Russel Crow's thin voice added a level of dissonance which is a key part of Javert.  The story was skillfully edited to trim the music and fill in details from Hugo.  I found it a fresh look a theatrical masterpiece.
  • Life of Pi – Gil Netter, Ang Lee, and David Womark
    • Probably one of the few people that went into this not know the ending, I was swept away with the hero.  The 3D visuals were truly amazing and Ang Lee's masterful hand was certainly evident.  The awards for visual effects and sound editing are sure to go to this film  It was the veritable visual feast.
  • Lincoln – Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy
    • A great movie educates as well as entertains and enriches.  This movie does that with finess.  It is rampant with all the trappings of an amazing period piece.  The acting is superb.  All this transports the audience to the 1860s.  I do quibble with with the gaggle of African-American fans and some editing choices but I loved it.
    • Now I know my faithful readers want to know about the Capitol dome's  state of completion.  The current dome was constructed from 1855 to 1866.  So either Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Lincoln could be historically accurate, the former showing it under construction and the later show it to appear completed.  Although still under construction at Lincoln's death the exterior was most likely done.  I am laying my faith with Spielberg, since the research on the film was extensive.     
  • Silver Linings Playbook – Donna GigliottiBruce Cohen, and Jonathan Gordon
    • OK kids, this once again was far and away the most thoroughly engaging and entertaining experience of the year.  I was either smiling or laughing or crying from start to finish.  I never lost interest, not for one second.  Cooper and Lawrence played off of each other amazingly, both delivering very complex and balanced performances in a parts that could have easily been annoying and played over the top.That supported by Weaver and De Niro in a script that flowed as uninterrupted as my emotions and interest.
  • Zero Dark Thirty – Mark BoalKathryn Bigelow, and Megan Ellison
    • You have heard about the horrifying torture scenes in this movie.  Forget it.  It's a disgusting topic but it was not sensationalized. It was straight-forward and matter of fact, which made it more disturbing and Jessica Chastain's character reacts in ways that help reinforce that.  She is superb. The movie takes an unemotional look at recent historical events.  That is not to say that the characters don't respond with appropriate emotion -- or not respond -- it is just that the director and writers POV are not evident.  The audience is respected enough to react with the rage, sorrow, elation or disappointment that each person will.  There is also ambiguity where it is needed.  The ending of movie perfectly encapsulates this most dispassionate wild ride..  
    My predictions, tomorrow.