Enough is Enough – The Fallout From The Gay Marriage Vote

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Nov 172008

Maybe, finally gay people have decided that enough is enough when it comes to having second-class citizenship foisted upon us by krazy kristian kooks. Across the country Saturday were a series of rallies decrying the enactment of three marriage amendments on election day which enshrine discrimination in the Constitutions of Florida, Arizona and California. As angry as we may all be, we should not be surprised at the outcome. There is no leadership within the gay community, and practically no community left anyways. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has become a parody, and while I respect the work done by Equality Florida, they too have been totally ineffective.

Let’s take a look at some of what happened on election day. There are a number of factors that lead to the passage of these amendments. None of it should have come as a surprise, and some of it ain’t pretty.

The Mormon Church
The Mormon Church has become very much a focal point for the anger of the gay community, and they don’t like it. It’s been estimated that nearly $20m in funding for the Yes on 8 campaign in California came from people affiliated with the Mormon Church. It also appears the Church itself, in violation of a number of election laws, may have provided in-kind services such as phone banks and material support. Make no mistake, the LDS Church was a big part of the campaign to pass Proposition 8.

They have previously been active in campaigns to institutionalize the same kind of hate in Hawaii. I find it intriguing that a Church which used to (and to some extent still does) condone Polygamy, used to exclude African-Americans from membership, and were themselves persecuted, have now taken it on themselves to support bigotry and hatred around marriage rites.

“Everyone in the United States has a legal right to protest, which we support fully,” said Waterford Clayton, president of the Newport Beach stake LDS. “This is not about sexual preference. This is about the moral standing of marriage.” (Get it, the Mormons, of all people, are lecturing the rest of us on the “moral standing of marriage.”)

Something went wrong this time though. In an internal church document ([download#1]), the church made it clear they were pleased that the leaders of the Hawaii initiative were not being associated with the Church. This time though, the word of their unprecedented sponsorship did not go unnoticed, and now the LDS has the gall to whine and complain about being called out for it. Sorry guys, but that’s how that messy old thing called Free Speech works. I may not like your message, but I defend your right to say it, but it also means you have to make room for my speech as well, even if you don’t like the content. The Mormon Church has every right to take a stand against Gay Marriage, but Gay people then have a right to take a stand against any institution that supports hatred.

When people are angry, they need a focal point for their anger. There are lots of reasons and people and groups responsible for the outcomes on election day, but the Mormon Church is serving as a good focal point for the anger, and I’m OK with that for now, but at some point we will need to move beyond blame.  Continue reading »

Courage In The Face of Hate

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Oct 062008

Here in Florida there is a ballot iniative to enshrine bigotry in the State Constitution by adding a ban on gay marriage (already illegal here). This is, of course, being spearheaded by an Orlando attorney who most likely has political aspirations, and thinks he’ll gain some points with the Rethuglicans by having this on the ballot, to hopefully turn out the good ole boys down here to vote for McCain. Right now it appears to be a toss up.

A similar measure is on the ballot in California, but unlike in Florida, it is now legal for gay people to marry. Once in a rare while, in the political discourse of this country, there is a flash of courage and clarity of thinking. One such flash has happened in California. Father Geoffrey Farrow of the Saint Paul Newman Center on the campus of the University of California (Fresno) is a courageous cleric. Here is a man who has spoken truth to power, and perhaps ended his career. Below is the entirity of his Homily from this past Sunday.

As most of you know, I was appointed pastor here at the Newman Center on April 15th of this year. When I arrived, I set out to address a series of various projects to repair our facilities. To date, most of these deferred maintenance items have been addressed. In the middle of dealing with contractors, the parish finance committee, the building department of the diocese, neighbors, etc., I received a FAX from the bishop’s office on the 30th of June. It was the bishop’s pastoral letter for the month of July.

This single FAX threw my whole summer, and in fact, my whole life into a turmoil. Recently, I was speaking with some of our parishioners who advocate for the ordination of women. In the course of our conversation, a question arose which has haunted me: “At what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice?” By asking all of the pastors of the Diocese of Fresno to promote Catholics to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the bishop has placed me in a moral predicament.

In his “Pastoral,” the bishop states: “Marriage is much more than simply two persons loving each other. Marriage is naturally, socially, and biologically, directed to bringing forth life.”

Actually, there are TWO ends to marriage: 1) Unitive and 2) Procreative. The unitive end of marriage is simply a union of love and life. The Procreative end is, of course, to create new life. It is important to understand that the unitive end of marriage is sufficient for a valid marriage. The Church sanctions, and considers a sacrament, the marriage of elderly heterosexual couples who are biologically incapable of reproduction. So, if two people of different genders who are incapable of reproduction can enter into a valid marriage, then why is that two people of the same gender, who are incapable of reproduction, cannot enter into a valid marriage.

The objections which are raised at this point are taken from Sacred Scripture. Scripture scholars reveal the problematic nature of attempting to use passages from the Hebrew Scriptures as an argument against same gender relationships. Essentially, these scriptures are addressing the cultic practices in which sex with temple prostitutes was part of an act of worshiping Pagan gods. With regard to the Pauline epistles, John J. McNeill, in his book: “The Church and the Homosexual,” makes the following point: “The persons referred to in Romans 1:26 are probably not homosexuals that is, those who are psychologically inclined toward their own sex-since they are portrayed as ‘abandoning their natural customs.'” The Pauline epistles do not explicitly treat the question of homosexual activity between two persons who share a homosexual orientation, and as such cannot be read as explicitly condemning such behavior. Therefore, same gender sex by two individuals with same sex orientation is not “abandoning their natural custom.”

In 1973, as a result of a greater understanding of human psychology, the American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Church’s watchdog for orthodoxy) produced a document entitled: “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics.” In this document, they made the most remarkable statement. They stated that there are “homosexuals who are such because of some kind of innate instinct.” While these statements are hardly glowing affirmations of gay and lesbian persons, they represent a watershed in human perception and understanding of gay and lesbian people.

These new insights have occurred as a result of the birth and development of the science of psychology and understanding of brain development in the 19th and 20th centuries. The California Supreme Court cited and quoted an amicus brief filed by the APA in the Court’s opinion issued on May 15, 2008 that struck down California’s ban on same sex marriage. Specifically, the court relied on the APA’s brief in concluding that the very nature of sexual orientation is related to the gender of partners to whom one is attracted, so that prohibiting same sex marriage discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, rather than just imposing disparate burdens on gay people.

In directing the faithful to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the California Bishops are not merely entering the political arena, they are ignoring the advances and insights of neurology, psychology and the very statements made by the Church itself that homosexuality is innate (i.e. orientation). In doing this, they are making a statement which has a direct, and damaging, effect on some of the people who may be sitting in the pews next to you today. The statement made by the bishop reaffirms the feelings of exclusion and alienation that are suffered by individuals and their loved ones who have left the Church over this very issue. Imagine what hearing such damaging words at Mass does to an adolescent who has just discovered that he/she is gay/lesbian? What is the hierarchy saying to him/her? What are they demanding from that individual? What would it have meant to you personally to hear from the pulpit at church that you could never date? Never fall in love, never kiss or hold hands with another person? Never be able to marry? How would you view yourself? How would others hearing those same words be directed to view you? How would you view your life and your future? How would you feel when you saw a car with a “Yes on 8” bumper sticker? When you overheard someone in a public place use the word “faggot?” Continue reading »

The Day After – Gay Marriage

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Jun 192008

Well, it’s the day after the first full day that gay marriage was legal in California, and gosh darn it, the sun came up, birds still sang, children were born, people died, there were even some heterosexual marriages, and I still had to go to work. In other words, if God is mad about it, he sure missed that wrath thing by taking it out on the mid-west. 

We’ve seen the pictures of the two lesbians in San Francisco being one of the first couples married after being a couple for over 50 years. We’ve also seen the completely idiotic protestors. Always with the god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Please, hire a gay man and get a little creative.

So what’s next for California? It is possible this could all be short lived as there is a ballot measure to be voted on in November that could write discrimination into their state constitution. No one is sure exactly what that would mean for the marriages already performed, as this was obviously not anticipated by the proponents of the amendment since no language was included that would officially address the current situation. For my part, I don’t see how the state could undo something that was fully legal at the time it was done. Let’s say murder was not illegal (insert O.J. joke here), so I killed someone. Then next year they make it illegal. I don’t think it would be legal or right to then charge me for a crime.

As for the amendment itself, I see two possibilities. The marriages will have been going on for nearly six months. So long as there is no major earthquake in California between now and November (for Pat Robertson to use as evidence of God’s displeasure), I think the dust will have settled, and a lot of people will see that it just really hasn’t made any difference. I mean, come on, this argument that somehow straight people will suddenly decide they’re not getting married because Adam and Steve are is just utter bullshit. That’s the best case. The concern is that straight people who are in favor of equal rights, and even gay people will relax a little too much in the afterglow, and let their guard down. Unfortunately, in California only a simple majority is required to pass a constitutional amendment…a foolish thing if you ask me.

VoteNo Does it make a difference here in Florida? There are two things to think about. The most obvious is what impact it might have on our anti-gay marriage amendment. I’ve written briefly about this before. The concern I have is that this does play into the primary argument that marriage opponents always stress…that “activist judges” will overturn the existing state laws against gay marriage, so it has to be put into the Constitution. There are a lot of places in Florida where that argument sells, and it could spark a few people to show up who might not otherwise vote.  Continue reading »

A Rambling Blog

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Jun 142008

I don’t get a ton of traffic on this site, and have always been disappointed with the lack of comments. I get a few, but I know I have opinionated friends, and would expect a little more from them. I suspect one of the reasons is that this blog is so far ranging in the topics I write about.

I’ve read some good articles lately on blogging, and most say to narrow the focus of your blog. The people writing these articles do have very widely read blogs, so one must give them their props. I can’t say I disagree with them, but one of the things I notice is that most of them maintain multiple blogs, and each blog is for a different topic. So, like me, they write on a wide range of topics, but do so on a multitude of blogs.     Continue reading »

Gay Marriage in California

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May 162008

Certainly there is a reason to celebrate the ruling by the California Supreme Court on Gay Marriage. Apparently four of the seven justices recognized that gender and sexual orientation, just like race, can not be grounds to deny rights to individuals.

However, there is a downside to this. The Gay Marriage Amendment people in Florida will be banging this drum all the way through to November. The only argument they’ve been able to offer for the amendment is not that it benefits society, but that it prevents “activist judges” from overturning the state laws prohibiting gay marriage. Continue reading »

May 122008

A while back John Stemberger, leader of the Anti-Gay Amendment 2 group here in Florida, was quoted in an Orlando Sentinal article discussing those opposed to Amendment 2 saying, “We’re going to confront deception and we’re going to expose them wherever they are.” Strong words, until one has to eat them.

It seems Stemberger’s been going around the state debating opponents of Amendment 2, and stating it is absolutely false that there is any intent to take away domestic partner benefits. You can listen to the dishonest claims here.

So what makes his claims dishonest? Continue reading »

Apr 302008
This entry is part 1 of 35 in the series Gay Marriage

This is the final in the series analyzing the debate between John Stemberger and Nadine Smith at the Orlando Tiger Bay club luncheon. This debate was held on March 27, 2008. This will analyze the Question and Answer section, and the closing comments by Smith and Stemberger.

As noted in a comment on a previous article in the series, “Studies of places that have a high “creativity quotient, which attract talented young people to move to these places, show that acceptance of LGBT folks is high on the list of criteria that these young folks look for, when they consider moving.” In light of that, the first question from the audience concerns the fact that fully one-half of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits. The questioner points out that they probably don’t do this to pay more for insurance, but to attract talent. His question is, won’t this make it more difficult for Florida to attract talented people? Continue reading »

Apr 262008
This entry is part 2 of 35 in the series Gay Marriage

In this post, we’ll review the moderated part of the debate between Nadine Smith of Fairness for All Families and John Stemberger of the Krazy Kristian Kooks of Florida. They were debating the Florida Constitutional Amendment 2 at the Tiger Bay Club of Orlando. This is part of a series on Florida’s Amendment 2.

The first question goes to Stemberger, and it is the heart of the matter. The moderator notes that it’s already illegal for gay people to marry here in Florida, so why do we need an amendment. As expected, Stemberger gets on the activist judge bandwagon and talks about Massachusetts, and how they needed an amendment. Since they didn’t have one, the activists judges up there decided to be social change agents. This argument works with stupid people, and Lord knows there are plenty of those, but I was once told by a Judge that the definition of activists judges are judges that rule against you. Continue reading »

Florida Amendment 2 – The Great Debate Part II

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Apr 232008
This entry is part 3 of 35 in the series Gay Marriage

Nadine Smith is a long time LBGT activist here in Florida. She’s part of a coalition of nearly 200 organizations that have banded to oppose Amendment 2 as the Fairness for All Families Coalition. This is the second installment in my review of a recent debate between her and John Stemberger at the Orlando Tiger Bay Club.

In opening statement she makes the point that the Amendment language does not codify the current language making gay marriage illegal, but “takes away legal protections from unmarried couples gay or straight.” Nadine cites census bureau information saying there are 360,000 unmarried couples in Florida with only 40,000 of them being gay couples and senior couples are disproportionately impacted.  Continue reading »

Florida Amendment 2-The Great Debate Part 1

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Apr 182008
This entry is part 4 of 35 in the series Gay Marriage

At the end of March, Nadine Smith, Co-Chair of Fairness for All Families, took on John Stemberger of Florida Family Council at the Orlando Tiger Bay Club for debate on the Amendment 2, the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment. Basically, he got his ass handed to him by Ms. Smith, but I don’t think she was aggressive enough.

The event was videotaped, and posted on Youtube in four parts. There are other versions of the debate as well, including one between Mr. Stemberger and the other heterosexual Co-Chair of Fairness for All Families at the Tallahassee Tiger Bay Club. The two sets are essentially the same. I’m going to use the Orlando recording and provide a separate commentary on each of four videos.  Continue reading »

The Battle in Florida is Joined-Amendment #2

 Featured, Gay Issues, Legislature, Places, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society, Tampa  Comments Off on The Battle in Florida is Joined-Amendment #2
Mar 312008

This will be the first in what I expect will evolve into a series of articles related to the upcoming election and the vote on Constitutional Amendment #2. This is the krazy kristian kooks attempt to have a large conservative turnout in Florida, so instead of fielding a worthy candidate, they go for the divisive issue. Amendment #2 is, of course, a “marriage protection” amendment for the Florida Constitution.

Continue reading »