December 24 – 31, 1999
Hooray for the Green Mountain Boys!
Well it ain’t the right to wed, but it’s getting there. The Vermont Supreme Court gave gay men and women cause to celebrate this week when it ruled that homosexual couples have been denied their state constitutional rights and must be granted the same protections offered to people in traditional marriages. The unanimous ruling, which stopped short of actually legalizing gay marriage, commanded the Vermont legislature to find a way to extend the legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.
Gay communities see this as a significant step toward official recognition of same-sex unions. “The ruling makes clear, and it’s unmistakable, that singling out gay and lesbian couples and our families and denying us and only us the rights and benefits that every other legally married couple in this country enjoys is simply wrong,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights. Meanwhile, conservative groups continue to scramble to pre-empt the legalization of same-sex unions with ballot measures like California’s Prop 22, which says simply that marriage is legal only between a man and a woman.
Putting the Lay in Layover
The mile-high club may keep the antsy traveler well-occupied, but what happens between flights, when passengers lounge around in layover land? Potentially a lot, if that passenger happens to be stranded in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
A chain of Dutch brothels has announced plans to open a branch in the airport next year to cater to weary travelers. The Yab Yum Caviar Club, according to spokesman Theo Heuft, would provide champagne and caviar and “a relaxing massage” to stressed business travelers with a little time to kill. In a Reuters report, Mr. Heuft elaborated: “They could pop in before going home to the lady wife.”
In, Out. In, Out — It Keeps Coming Back!
In a report of apparent significance to somebody somewhere, sex researchers announced this week that the penis assumes the shape of a boomerang during missionary sex. This revelation puts to rest the reigning conventional wisdom that the penis remained straight or formed an “s” shape in the vagina.
Of much more interest than the results of the study was the process by which those results were attained. Eight Dutch couples recruited by invitation and via a television program were scanned while having sex inside an MRI . Perhaps due to the close quarters (not to mention the pressure of performing under scientific scrutiny), only one of the couples was able to complete coitus without the aid of Viagra. The scientists proclaimed the drug “a godsend.” And who would argue?
Okay, here’s something to do the next time you’re writhing in pain in the dentist’s chair: Think about sex. That may be hard to do with your dentist’s pores looming large before you, but a new report suggests that positive thoughts in particular, sexual ones can play a significant role in reducing physical pain. “It is pretty remarkable how effective this is,” Dr. Peter Staats, study leader, told Reuters. “The emotions are like a magnifying glass and can magnify the experience of pain or minimize it.” Staats and his colleagues at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital asked 40 college students to plunge their hands into buckets of ice water until the pain became unbearable (someone should tell those cash-poor kids about sperm donation). Some of the students were told to think positive thoughts about sex, while others were asked to think negative or neutral thoughts, either about bad sex (no doubt a challenging concept for most nineteen-year-olds) or about something else entirely, like, say, baseball. According to Staats’ report, the subjects who thought about good sex were able to keep their hands in the water twice as long as the others. Staats said the phenomenon is thought to be due to the fact that emotions and pain perception are processed in the same part of the brain.
Quote of the Week
“I was gay last year, I’m gay this year, I’ll be gay next year and I just can’t be bothered to go on about it all the time.”