Columns > HappytownHappytown
Oh, that wacky Brian Feldman. He eats, and calls it art. He jumps, and calls it art. He reads this paper, and calls it art. (He’s dead-on about that one, BTW.) There’s so much “art” in Orlando with Feldman’s name attached to it that we’ve almost stopped paying attention.
Almost. Because he’s outdone himself this time. Yes, he has. This time, Feldman is promising to legally marry any woman (sorry, guys, gay marriage is illegal in Florida) who shows up at the Orange County Courthouse marriage license office at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8. Are you paying attention, ladies? Here is your chance to rope a hunky performance artist! Mom wanted you to marry a doctor or a lawyer? Next best thing!
Feldman says the offer is his way of protesting the fact that gays are not allowed to marry. Where’s the justice in allowing two random people to marry just because they happen to be a man and a woman, yet denying the same right to same-sex couples who have been committed to one another for years? Where indeed.
“It seems like something worth doing,” he says. “I’m not big on activism; I’m not big on standing out on the sidewalk with a sign.”
If you’re interested in becoming Mrs. Feldman, there are a couple of restrictions: You must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen (sorry, green-card seekers); you can’t have any “legal liabilities,” however that is defined; and you have to be willing to show up at the courthouse again Feb. 12, because in Florida there is a three-day waiting period between the time you apply for a marriage license and the time you actually tie the knot. Also, if more than one woman shows up to claim Feldman, there will be a test involving the Aquafina vending machine across the hall to determine which bride is more worthy. No, he wouldn’t elaborate.
Spectators are welcome at the courthouse, he says. In lieu of wedding gifts, Feldman asks that you make a donation to the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), a group that works for equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered. HRC has nothing to do with Feldman’s impending nuptials, however.
If this sounds crazy to you, and you’re a woman, perhaps you need to be at the courthouse promptly at 3 p.m. Feb. 8. “Maybe I will meet my soul mate after all,” Feldman says.
Speaking of gay causes, if ever there were a week to renounce your procreativity and dye your hair all of the colors of the rainbow while waving a handbag in the air, this was it!
On a national level, the gays got their predicted name check during getting-gayer Obama’s Jan. 20 State of the Union address, even though it was – cynically speaking – in the context of being allowed to get killed in defense of domestic straight freedoms. Also, we’ve heard the whole Don’t Ask Don’t Tell promise before; we asked, he told us no.
Closer to home, though, the proverbial walls could be heard tumbling down. First there was another gay adoption in the Sunshine State, our third! And we all know that in addition to being both company and a crowd, three’s a trend. Come and knock on our door!
Early last month, Miami-Dade circuit judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia put another kick in the Anita Bryant door when she ruled in favor of lesbian couple Vanessa Alenier and Melanie Leon and the 1-year-old family member in their custody, saying, “There is no rational connection between sexual orientation and what is or is not in the best interest of a child.” The ruling follows an August 2008 Key West court ruling in favor of foster parent Wayne LaRue Smith, and the ruling in favor of Martin Gill in Miami-Dade a month later (see “Horrible reality,” Dec. 30). The latter is still being appealed.
The crazies may not let this one lie, though. The Department of Children and Families told the Miami Herald that they’re still reviewing whether they will appeal Sampedro-Iglesia’s decision within the allotted 30-day-window, and Liberty Counsel wingnut Mat Staver burped something about “judicial activism.”
Key to the story is that none of the affected adoption-seekers have even tried to lie about their sexuality, a fact that one of Alenier’s attorneys made all the more poignant in a statement to the Herald: “I have had clients say they didn’t want the first lesson [they] taught [the child] to be that it’s OK to lie.”
Meanwhile, over on the gay marriage front, Florida’s various gay groups spent last week making the case for civil unions at the legislature’s final public hearings prior to the March session. Although actual gay marriage may be a constitutional crime punishable by castration thanks to Amendment 2, fairness is a flower that grows in every garden. Gay advocates are pushing for just the simplest of kindnesses: notification of death, hospital visitation and funeral arrangements (sad!). Also, they make the point that all of this would cost the state nothing, so there goes that fiscal argument, moral majority. Anyway, gay!
And now it’s time for another edition of What’s Up With Alan?™, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando’s favorite congressman, Alan Grayson!
This week, “attempt” is the right word, indeed, as Master Grayson is spitting out legislation faster than the Tea Party spits out candidates that spit chewing tobacco.
The recent Supreme Court ruling that recast corporations as living, breathing things that should have as much say in politics as you do – in reality, they’d have way more – sees Grayson (re)growing a goatee of rhetorical fire, funking up the House of Representatives with the stench of charismatic righteousness. Either that, or that’s just how he sneezes.
On Jan. 26, Grayson lobbed two more bills into his “Save Our Democracy” platform, taking direct aim at smug old Justices Alito and Roberts. The first, HR 4510, is playfully titled the “America Is for Americans Act” and is not, surprisingly, a newly turned leaf of xenophobia for the socially awkward Grayson. “Foreigners cannot vote in our elections, so they should not be allowed to spend unlimited money to buy votes either,” he fumed in a press release. “If we do not limit foreign influence, we will soon have ‘the Distinguished Member from Russia’ or ‘the Esteemed Senator from Saudi Arabia.’”
On the same day, he followed with HR 4511, the “Pick Your Poison Act,” which is not a reference to the ill-advised mixing of beer and liquor at a Tea Party event.
“Companies cannot have it both ways.” (Grayson does not drink enough.) “They already have too much influence on the way our democracy operates. If they want to use hired guns to influence lawmakers, they need to stay out of the election process.”
These bits of common sense join the ranks of five others in his platform – including the “Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act” and the “Ending Corporate Collusion Act” – in showing just how serious Grayson is about exploding on the House floor in a fantastic display of democratic fireworks. In doing just what the president is asking lawmakers to do right now to fight off the pouting court justices, we can safely assume that Alan Grayson will someday be our president, which is simultaneously awesome and scary.