A federal judge ruled late this evening that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
The decision by US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen makes Virginia the second state in the South to have a ban on same-sex marriage overturned.
U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s decision makes Virginia the second state in the South to have a ban on gay marriages overturned. Her ruling comes the day after a judge in Kentucky ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
In her decision, Judge Allen writes that “The Court finds Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A, Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3, and any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia’s recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. These laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Judge Allen has issued a stay on her decision pending appeal, therefore same-sex couples may not yet marry in Virginia. Attorney General Mark Herring previously announced he would not uphold the state’s ban on gay marriage.
Interestingly, Virginia becomes the 9th of the original 13 colonies to allow marriage equality.
Michael Sam’s recent admission that he’s an openly gay football player has certainly causes quite a stir in the sports world. The public reaction, naturally, has been a mixed bag of support and ridicule (if you think we’ve conquered homophobia and discrimination in the United States, you’re clearly living under a rock). There have been some very interesting discussions from current coaches and players about Michael Sam’s prospects for the NFL draft as well – I’m still a big fan of Donte Stallworth’s tweet as well as John Stewart’s humerous take on the matter, but Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen’s tirade was particularly poignant.
But then I read this blog post by John Loos of The Second City Network, and I nearly peed my pants. Loos sarcastically and adeptly provides a humerous and simultaneously down to earth “guide” for NFL stars on how to behave in a locker room where a gay man may be present. Check it out below.
Step 1: Acknowledge your gay teammate
Say hello. Say “nice game.” Perhaps give him a compliment on a tackle, or a catch, or a great run. Maybe throw in a high-five or, if that is too uncomfortable for you (it shouldn’t be), give any another indication that you’re happy he’s on your team, even if he plays for a different team off the field.
Step 2: Acknowledge that he’s human
Ask a question about his life. How’s his family? His partner? Talk about shared interests (Yes! You likely have shared interests with this homosexual human!) If you don’t know what this person likes, ask. Or talk about the weather! Or Beyoncé! Not because he’s gay, but because everyone, gay straight, male or female, Madagascan village elders or Inuit whale hunters, has something to say about Beyoncé. She’s the universal conversation starter.
Step 3: Get undressed
Because you just spent two hours playing in the mud and dirt, and it’s a locker room and you’re an adult — and get over yourself and seriously — you have to change out of your uniform. You smell like shit.
Step 4: Realize at this point, you’re looking at your gay teammate more than he’s looking at you
Why is he not looking at you? You’re attractive! You work out! Are you not his type? Maybe he’s only into punters. Oh my God, it’s almost as if your teammate is concentrating on getting cleaned up and getting home to his life, just like you were supposed to be before you got preoccupied with checking him out to see if he’s checking you out.
Step 5: Do your usual stealth glances of other naked teammates
Because straight men size each other up all the time in locker rooms. But it’s from a place of competition, which is far more acceptable for some reason. Bros bein’ bros, etc.
Step 6: Realize at this point, you’re being paid millions of dollars to exist on this team with this gay person, so you’ll survive somehow
At the absolute worst, this teammate finds you attractive and has a moment of weakness and lets one little glance slip that you catch, and you notice because you’re (of course) already staring at him. Now you know how the thousands upon thousands of breasts you’ve stared at slack-jawed in your lifetime feel. Congratulations, Margaret, you’ve just become a woman!
Step 7: Count the number of half-naked teammates around you and divide by 10
That’s how many actually are gay, whether they’ve stated it publicly or not. And they’ve been there all along, since you started playing football in high school, and somehow you’re still alive and unscathed and making millions of dollars.
Step 8: Shower
Because, again, you smell. If your gay teammate is showering at the same time, kudos to you for noticing he walked into the showers. Why are you watching him so closely, anyway? Seriously, are you cruising him?
Step 9: Dress, go home
And play with the piles of money you’ve earned from somehow being brave and manly enough to put on skin-tight capri pants, a jock strap and give other grown men really aggressive hugs and wrestle them to the ground.
Well, the folks at the Washington Post are at it again. In advance of Valentine’s Day, Will Feltus and Mike Shannon published a piece regarding the correlation between candy consumption and politics. You may recall that the Post recently described the correlation between alcohol brand and politics.
The authors admit that there doesn’t seem to be too much correlation or an obvious connection between candy types and partisanship. Maybe because candy brands aren’t seen as an expression of values, unlike a car (think hybrids vs gas guzzler) or a fast food chain (Cracker Barrel or Chick-Fil-a). There were some differences though. Democrats tend to prefer their candy be filled with extras like almonds, raisins and rice, while Republicans are more likely to favor peanuts, creamy fillings and darker chocolate.
One think that was crystal clear? There was one brand that seemed to have something for everyone in the political spectrum: M&Ms.
Check out the graph below and see where your candy preferences put you. I have to say that I don’t necessarily agree with this one as much. But at least we can all agree on M&Ms of some variety.
Late night host John Stewart took some time on his show Monday night to discuss the public “coming out” of former Missouri defensive line player Michael Sam. You can refer to my tweet of the week with Donte Stallworth with his reaction to reports that teams may find drafting Michael Sam to be “too distracting.” The ever brilliant John Stewart put another spin on it, by highlighting some of the controversies that other NFL players have brought to their teams.
Okay I get that. No pro team wants the type of controversy that having a gay player is going to cause. If he had just been convicted of DUI vehicular manslaughter, or obstruction of justice in connection with a murder, or had been accused of sexual assault, or screamed the N-word at a concert, or killed a bunch of dogs and buried them in his f***ing backyard. You know, NFL material.
The awesome tweet of the week goes to retired NFL receiver Donte Stallworth, who responded to a hypothetical question about recently out former Missouri defensive linemanplayer Michael Sam, who if drafted would become the first openly gay NFL football player.
Former coach Herm Edwards asked, “Can the players handle the media attention they are going to get when they get the question asked, ‘Are you okay with a gay teammate?’” in an ESPN interview Sunday night, claiming that intense media scrutiny might discourage a team from drafting Sam.
If any NFL team can’t “handle the media coverage” of drafting Sam, then your team is already a loser on the field… let me tell you why…
— Donte’ Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) February 10, 2014
Stallworth goes on to talk about how any team who can’t handle the media scrutiny of an event they can actually get a jump on will definitely not be able to handle the media scrutiny of unplanned occurrences throughout the year. Furthermore, with the number of arrests and court appearances that players make in any given year (hint… Aaron Hernandez) should be the real media spectacle.
Seriously considering filling my pockets with glitter, and whenever someone near me says something really stupid or rude, I’ll just reach into my pocket with a dead expression, release the glitter into the sky above their head, and watch it shower over them like a baptism of stupid.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
~Mary Anne Radmacher
CVS stunned both the business and public health communities yesterday when it announced that it was ceasing the sale of tobacco products at all of its locations starting in October of this year.
According to the company, tobacco and associated purchases make up a small portion ($2 billion) of their annual revenue. Given the increasing role that CVS has been playing in health care with its Minute Clinics, the company decided that continuing to sell tobacco products didn’t fit with its overall role in health and wellness as a pharmacy. CVS also recognized that the revenue lost from tobacco sales would likely be recouped in the growth of its pharmaceutical products and clinic services, as well as increased payments from insurers for helping customers quit smoking. The move was applauded by medical and public health advocates as a major step forward in reducing tobacco consumption and improving the nation’s health.
But the CVS decision raises many important questions. Is CVS underestimating the impact that the decision will have on its bottom line? Will CVS start selling e-cigarettes? Will other pharmacy chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid follow suit? If CVS is trying to become a “wellness company”, should it be selling soda, candy, and snacks that are linked with increasing obesity rates? And does the CVS decision really matter to tobacco companies?
As it turns out, the bulk of tobacco sales come not from pharmacy chains but convenience stores like 7-Eleven, gas stations, and discount chains like Family Dollar (and no, the irony is not lost on me there). Drug stores account for only about 4% of tobacco sales. While decreasing the availability of tobacco products is important for reducing consumption, the CVS decision will hardly make a dent in overall tobacco sales. If anything, the average person will find another place to buy them. That said, the CVS move is a great step forward in the fight against tobacco use related illnesses. Strong work CVS.
well – there already is a justgngr…
Gingers are all the craze these days. I’m telling you, if I created a site called JustGinger.com I’d be rich.
yes… guilty. it was me.
thank you for being as judgmental as me. it really is one of the strong points of our relationship.
I posted an article to Twitter recently about how United was planning to shut down its hub at Cleveland Hopkins. I wasn’t planning to blog about it – after all, it’s not exactly health care or public health related – but an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about how Pittsburgh can sympathize with Cleveland caught my attention. The article reports that a group of prominent business organizations were touting the United magazine spread about their wonderful city as a hub for the airline – two days before United announced that it would be slashing flights. Yes, Pittsburgh went through a similar disappointment and betrayal by USAirways, but after reading the article, I couldnt help but wonder if perhaps Cleveland was being a little too smug?
United Airlines decision to abandon Continental’s old hub at Cleveland shouldn’t have surprised anyone. United claims the hub is a money losing operation; no doubt the hub was a money-loser under Continental, and the city of Cleveland’s fortunes haven’t exactly been stellar in recent years. But further more, Cleveland should have looked at the writing on the wall. If recent history serves us right, the airline industry is rife with examples of medium sized cities in the nation’s heartland being stripped of their hub status. St Louis lost hub status after American took over bankrupt TWA, Pittsburgh (a mere two hour drive from Cleveland) saw enormous reductions and loss of hub status shortly after USAirways merged with America West, and Delta just dumped Memphis this past summer having gained the Tennessee hub from its 2008 merger with Northwest.
Promises from the airline industry that mergers would bring “additions, not subtractions” have thus far largely been untrue – one only need look at St Louis, Pittsburgh, and Memphis as prime examples. Even Delta’s Cincinnati hub has seen dramatic cutbacks from it’s hub heyday under Northwest The only bright spot for some of these cities has been the addition of “low-cost carriers” like Southwest, JetBlue, and Spirit. But with the impending merger of American and USAirways, certainly other hub cities should be nervous. After all, upper management at the new combined airline will be largely spearheaded by USAirways executives – the very executives who slashes Pittsburgh and quietly let go of Las Vegas as hubs when USAirways and America West joined forces. Additionally, many of the American and USAirways hubs are located relatively close to one another – potentially putting a number of them on the chopping block. Certainly the new airline will not want to maintain expensive hub operations at close geographic cities like New York/Philadelphia and Phoenix/Los Angeles. And while Charlotte and Miami may not be geographically close, they play a similar role for both airlines in feeding an extensive Caribbean network. Phoenix, however, may have the most to worry about – geographically, it’s between American’s home airport of Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles, a huge market where American is now the largest airline.
Much like health care, the airline industry is again consolidating – a move that only produces winners and losers. Some of these cities (Phoenix, Charlotte) were winners in the last wave of mergers, and may soon find themselves losers in the airline wars. Time will only tell if new airlines will sprout up to fill in the gaps lefts by the legacy carriers and what role the “low cost” behemoths Southwest and JetBlue will play.
For years, regulation has been the strong armed tool of the government with regard to ensuring the public’s health. In their viewpoint piece in the September issue of JAMA, Dave Chokshi and Nicholas Stein lament the inherently politically charged nature of public health policy. This should come as no surprise. One only need recall the New York City “soda ban” debacle, with New Yorkers charging that Mayor Bloomberg was treating them like children. President Obama’s Prevention and Public Health Fund has been derided as a “liberal slush fund” by conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act. The authors note that “public health regulation is often falsely portrayed as a choice between responsibility (of individuals) vs restriction (of freedom).” Certainly, public health regulation has often been seen as a form of “nanny state” control by the general population, but proponents argue that the government needs to play a central role in public health, citing to the progress made by regulations for tobacco control and nutritional interventions with regards to increased life expectancy.
Part of the problem is that public health interventions go largely unnoticed by the general public, and most individuals receive little direct benefit from most public health programs. Small, vocal groups and the occasional large powerful corporate interest tend to dominate the headlines in many public health debates. The failure of the New York City “soda ban” could easily fall under that category of discourse. The authors suggest that perhaps it’s time to reshape the politics surrounding public health.
One approach is to change the conversation. Rather than view public health regulation as the choice between individual responsibility versus restriction of freedom, public health advocates should sharpen their focus and argue that inaction is inherently a regulatory action, with the resulting public health outcomes as a direct consequence of that inaction. The authors cite the absence of workplace smoking bans as an active policy decision to expose employees carcinogens, thus increasing their risk for heart disease and lung cancer. Instead of constantly championing the liberal left, public health advocates should embrace common sense approaches from moderates and conservatives that may offer more broad appeal. Similarly, moderates and conservatives are much more likely to respond to appeals that are low cost or even revenue generating. As an example, Mayor Bloomberg may have had far greater success at taxing sugary beverages rather than imposing a ban on sodas. As revenue generating policies, taxation regulations on “unhealthy behaviors” often carry broad political appeal as a source of deficit reduction while simultaneously encouraging individuals to make healthier choices. These same policies can appeal to consumers who are increasingly indirectly paying for one another’s health choices, as taxing sugary beverages shifts the burden of payment onto those who continue to consume them.
Certainly, there is an important and legitimate debate about the role of the government and regulation in public health. That debate will continue ad nauseum, with an appropriate system of checks and balances both within government and the great public. But indeed the time has come to move that conversation away from individual responsibility and “nanny state” paranoia, from liberal versus conservative, toward a conversation about the consequences of inaction and the legitimate costs and benefits of any particular regulatory action.