New York Gay Marriage: Diane Savino's excellent testimony

 Gay Issues, Legislature, Politics, Society  Comments Off on New York Gay Marriage: Diane Savino's excellent testimony
Dec 042009
 

Although defeated because of eight regressive Democrats in the New York State Senate, straight Senator Diane Savino gives one of the finest floor speeches I’ve ever heard, and does an outstanding job of making the case for the importance of  equality for all. This is a must watch.

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Paul And Jeanette – A couple more Mainers who get it

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Oct 282009
 

Paul explains he’s a bear protecting his cubs as he talks about his two daughers, one of which is gay. He talks about being a Catholic family, and how they love both their daughters equally. Paul talks about his service in Vietnam, and how if people don’t think equal rights are important, they should have some of their’s taken away sometime. He goes on to say:

“Some feel that same sex marriage is like a prize, ya know. You can take it away or give it you know, it’s no, it’s a right. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right. Right’s belong to everybody. Doesn’t matter about your sexual preference, your color, creed, all that stuff….”

When we all get to where this family has gotten, the world will be better for everyone.

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Jun 152009
 

It is time again for a letter. This time to the President. Printed on letterhead, signed with ink, and sent via the U.S. Postal Service.

June 15, 2009

Barack H. Obama, President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Recognizing you have a challenging workload, I will get straight to my point. As a gay man and a life-long and active progressive Democrat I could not be more disappointed with you and your administration, nor could I be any more ashamed of the positions you have recently taken.

I voted for you expecting an about face from the medieval policies of the Bush-Cheney Administration on the “unitary executive” and “war powers” theories. I expected new government respect for Constitutional protections concerning privacy and domestic surveillance. I expected a return to accountability for government officials and corporations when they violated the laws of our Country, and I expected your government to respect the right to habeas corpus for the people we imprison. I expected war criminals and those who ordered torture to be called to account. You promised to be a fierce advocate for Gay and Lesbian equal rights, and you and your team has cleared the agenda of any mention of those issues. (DOMA, DADT, ENDA, Hate Crimes)

Not only have you failed to deliver on these promises, you have sought to defend and continue many of the policies of your predecessor. You have provided little in the way of “change I can believe in.”

But I was finally prompted to write you after reviewing the Motion and Brief submitted by W. Scott Simpson, Chief Trial Counsel of your Department of Justice in the case of Smelt and Hammer v. United States.

First is the claim by The White House and DOJ spokespeople that the DOJ is required to defend all laws that are “on the books.” While not entirely true (your oath is defend the Constitution…not specific laws), let’s assume there is a legitimate need for the DOJ to enter this case. That does not mean the Government (my government, the one I help pay for) is required to sink to hateful and demeaning rhetoric, and trot out patently ridiculous arguments. I’m no attorney, but even a layman can determine bigoted and hateful reasoning when it rears its head. If this constitutes “fierce advocacy” for Gay Rights, please just stop.

The claim from line 32 of the brief is the most absurd of all. “DOMA does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits.” This is a frequent claim made by religious fanatics in respect to all sorts of laws restricting gay rights based on a claim that all these laws, including DOMA, don’t discriminate against gays and lesbians because they are free to marry people of the opposite sex. No “homosexual” is denied marriage so homosexuals qua homosexuals suffer no hardship. Gay man? Marry a woman, says the DOJ. This is the same formulation used to argue for upholding the Texas homosexual-only sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas: a law banning only gay sex doesn’t discriminate against gays because it equally forbids homosexuals and heterosexuals to have homosexual sex and because it equally allows homosexuals and heterosexuals to have heterosexual sex.

Your DOJ goes on to compare, as the religious right so often does, gay marriages to incest and pedophilia. It is gratuitously insulting to lesbians and gay men, referring (unnecessarily) to same-sex marriage as a “form” of marriage, and arguing (with a straight face, I can only assume) that discrimination against same-sex couples is rational because it saves the federal government money. These arguments go beyond absurd, and merely prove the discriminatory and unfair nature of the law on its face. Really, your administration is determining whether or not to support civil rights based on whether or not those rights might have a financial cost? Seriously?

Your government (because it’s obviously no longer my government) continues to send me a tax bill every year to help pay for the benefits of married people. May I get a free pass from taxes?

Thinking, intelligent people just roll their eyes and laugh at such reasoning. I would laugh too, were this not my life you were talking about in such language. Do you believe that Loving v. Virginia should have been decided differently because it increased the burden on taxpayers to provide benefits to the spouse and family of mixed race couples?

Mr. President, I voted for you with high expectations that your administration would return this country to the principles of fairness, respect, and government of, by and for the people as set forth so eloquently by our founding fathers. The previous administration had created a credible and very real threat to this Republic, and you made a promise during the campaign to restore those founding ideals. During your inauguration, you took a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution. I have to admit that I am, thus far, gravely disappointed in the actions of your administration, and now…I’m just hurt and insulted.

I go about my life trying to earn a living, trying to respect my neighbors, adhering to spiritual and social principles of Methodism, my chosen religion. I work to maintain a home, and help my “significant other” (since I can’t call him my husband lest I offend your Justice Department and place an undue burden on us taxpayers) advance his education.

I expect that same respect from this government, and your administration has failed to provide that basic level of respect. I now ask and expect you to do better.

Sincerely yours

Miss California Boob Job

 Gay Issues, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Miss California Boob Job
May 042009
 

I have held off posting on this whole Miss USA conflagration. I thought it mostly much ado about nothing, but now everyone seems to be jumping into the act. Not suprisingly, the krazy kristian kooks are trying to martyr Miss Jugs for Jesus.

Beauty pageants have just never been my thing, so I didn’t watch. I did see the video of Miss California’s answer to the question, and I saw the nasty response video from Perez Hilton. For the record, Hilton’s response was ridiculous, over the top, and uncalled for…and he does not represent most gay people (thank goodness). Get a life for Christ’s sake.

Carrie Prejean’s answer to her pageant question was nearly incoherent. For a minute there, I thought maybe she was channeling Bush. She is entitled to her opinion, and I defend her right to have one. However, I don’t have to respect it (bigotry is wrong, and no amount of silicon and lipstick can make it right), and when you get on a national stage, and can’t put together a coherent thought, when that’s the whole point of the question segment, then it’s also OK to make fun of you.

I have two main problems with this whole thing. First is this attempt by the whole group of professional christians to try to make a martyr of Prejean by implying that somehow she lost the pageant because of her honest answer. Well, bullshit to that. Turns out she was behind in points coming into the question, and even if she said she would be my maid of honor, unless she said it “more gooder” than she did her own answer, she didn’t deserve to win.

It is also an insult to Miss North Carolina, as the flip side of their inference is that Miss North Carolina somehow didn’t deserve to win, and I believe they all owe her an apology for their misguided implication.

I am also tired of this bullshit coming from the professional christians about how oppressed they are. Today, for the most part, it is just not socially acceptable to express racist tendencies in polite company. Does that mean that racists are oppressed? Well, by the definition of the professional christians it means exactly that. They do have a right to say whatever vile and hateful things they want to say, but that does not have to mean that society finds it acceptable to say it or act on it. And it means I can call you out on it. The times they are a changin’, and these people just don’t get it.

Distribution of major religious beliefsIt really is time for them to stop with the “oh we’re so oppressed” drama. Their very claim is that homosexuals shouldn’t have the same rights the straights do since they are the majority, but they sure do assign a lot of power to homosexuals. I just don’t get it, and why in the world the news media plays along I’ll never understand.

So it’s really time for this to be over. Miss Jugs for Jesus has had her 15 minutes, and all the straight boys can drool all over her bathing suit picture. nowwe need to move along to something that is actually important.

Apr 102009
 

It took no time at all for the religious fundies to go ape-shit over Iowa and Vermont’s decisions to allow Gay Marriage.

The Iowa situation is the result of a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court. It’s important to note that the Chief Justice is a very conservative Republican, but sometimes the law and the Constitution just override personal convictions, as it should be in a country of laws. Justice Cady wrote an outstanding decision, and you can download the PDF and read the complete decision from here.

While the fundies are decrying the destruction of our society, and even our democracy, Justice Cady reminds us eloquently:

It is also well established that courts must, under all circumstances, protect the supremacy of the constitution as a means of protecting our republican form of government and our freedoms. As was observed by Justice Robert H. Jackson decades ago in reference to the United States Constitution, the very purpose of limiting the power of the elected branches of government by constitutional provisions like the Equal Protection Clause is “to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638, 63 S. Ct. 1178, 1185, 87 L. Ed. 1628, 1638 (1943).

Cady goes on to remind us that, in a republic such as ours, the three equal branches of government are instituted to prevent the tyranny of the majority from circumventing the rights of the minority…something our krazy kristian kooks continuously forget:

Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” and as our constitution “endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom” and equality. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 578–79, 123 S. Ct. 2472, 2484, 156 L. Ed. 2d 508, 526 (2003) (acknowledging intent of framers of Federal Constitution that Constitution endure and be interpreted by future generations); Callender v. Skiles, 591 N.W.2d 182, 190 (Iowa 1999) (“Our constitution is not merely tied to tradition, but recognizes the changing nature of society.”).

So of course the fundies got right out with the “activist judges” rant.

Pastor Eric Schumacher of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, IA had this meltdown claiming that equal rights was a worse disaster for Iowa than a 500 year flood:

It is not hyperbole to say that this ruling has the potential to be the worst disaster to strike the state of Iowa. Flood waters destroy houses, ruin offices buildings and displace families. Yet, recovery happens. Houses are rebuilt. Businesses relocate. Families eventually find housing.

Legalized “homosexual marriage,” on the other hand, does far more pervasive and irrecoverable damage. Civilization itself is eroded as marriage, the central building block of culture and society, is redefined. Soon, our sons and daughters are confused about what it means to be male and female, as “homosexual marriage” gains both legal status and visibility in neighborhoods and the classroom…

…Flood waters erode the soil. “Gay marriage” erodes the soul. A flood impacts for a decade. “Same-sex marriage” destroys generations…

I guess all that methanol coming from Iowa affects hormone production or something…so everyone will suddenly be confused about whether they are male or female, just because gay people get equal treatment under the law. Who would have thought it.

Then some sand got thrown in the gearbox a few days later though when gay people in Vermont were given equal rights, not by judicial fiat, but by a democratic legislative process. It took the fundies an extra nearly to come up with some bullshit talking points to address that one. So now, their claim is that, somehow…democratically elected officials, acting in a democratic process, are bringing fascism and destroying democracy. Wow…that reasoning would cause any one’s head to explode.

So they quickly came with a “brilliant” ad campaign to try to scare the bejeebus out of the Christians (all the rest of us good amurikans).    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 »

Fox News Pundit Says McCain Has to Bash Gays to Win

 Election, Gay Issues, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Fox News Pundit Says McCain Has to Bash Gays to Win
Jul 072008
 

From the “comes as no surprise” category, Fox News Pundit Fred Barnes said Sunday that McCain would have to run a center/right (not sure what that actually looks like myself) in order to win the election. This would mean appealing to the far right wingnuts of the party by using the “gays in the military” and “gay marriage” issues. Barnes explicitly cites these issues.

First, on a point of clarification, Barnes is wrong is when he says about gays in the military, “This is not a popular issue.” A recent CNN poll finds that 79% of Americans believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly, and Zogby poll from 2006 finds that 73% of service members are comfortable with gays and lesbians. (These and other related poll results here.)

The left side of the blogosphere is all in an uproar over the comments. I don’t like that this happens to be a true statement, but it is true that McCain will win friends from the krazy kristian kooks by bashing gays. This has been a winning issue for Republicans for a while now (there’s yet no real price to pay for homophobia), and the recent California ruling can certainly be used to inflame that important Republican base. So the fact is, (while I don’t like it) it’s going to happen, and it’s just a matter of time.

On the other hand, Juan Williams makes a good point as he keeps asking, “who else are they going to vote for?” The fact is, McCain doesn’t have to play the GLBT card, as the krazy kristians certainly are not going to vote for Obama, and unlike what Barnes says, they are not going to sit home and allow a black man to move into the White House. They will come out and vote for McCain just because he’s already said once that he supports Arizona anti-gay marriage amendment…that’s all it takes.

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 »

May 272008
 

In the past couple of weeks, Ellen DeGeneres had John McCain on her show, and they discussed same-sex marriage. I’ve come realize that Ellen is a very smart person, capable of putting forth a very rational argument in a very concise way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gckHb2zbp1M

The good folks at Box Turtle Bulletin have made the transcript available here.

While I’m sure the krazy kristian kooks are reveling in the golden egg handed them by the California Supreme Court (“see, it’s just a matter of time before these ‘activists’ judges makes us let the queers here in Florida get married, and then all the heterosexual marriages will be destroyed”), here’s a little tidbit for them to get worried about.

For some years Gallup has polled Americans about what is moral. Since 2001 homosexuality has been on the list, and it seems that in this year’s poll in May things evened out. 48% of Americans believe homosexuality is immoral, but the same percentage say it’s not.

Gallop Poll ResultsUnfortunately, this means that the Republicans have lost the threat of communism, and now are losing the threat of faggots as a tool for their political gain. I think that’s why they’ve been trying make immigrants the next target of hate, but that isn’t catching on so well.

Rest assured though, they will milk the grave threats of the homosexual agenda for all they can.

Gay Marriage in California

 Featured, Gay Issues, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Gay Marriage in California
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 »

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 »