For Tommy, Bobby, and all the many others.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
It is important for us to be aware that our religious faith needs to grow up and mature, just as we grow up and mature in all other aspects of our lives. This is a process that continues until we die. There are aspects of our faith that are healthy and favorable to growth; there are other aspects that are neurotic and destructive. We are all called on to be aware of the state of our faith, to strengthen what is healthy in it and to diminish what is sick and neurotic. . . .
Today we gay people have a desperate need for a healthy and adult faith; a faith built directly on our own experience; a faith that can lead us to reach out in love to each other; rather than selfishly seek our own security; a faith strong enough to overcome all fears, especially fear of death. . . .
The threat of AIDS can cause us to fall back into immature, neurotic faith. Neurotic faith is based in fear and a spirit of cowardice. In the chapters that follow I will attempt to spell out many of the forms that neurotic faith can take and what we must do to live out our lives as gay people with a healthy commitment to life and to each other. . .
The supreme gift of God is love. To experience genuine human love, to be part of a community of love is to experience the presence of God. However; love is paradoxical. It is absolutely necessary for a happy, fulfilled human life. And it is absolutely impossible by human means alone. That is why John could write, "Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8). . . .
Love is always a miracle; always God's gift of self; always an experience of the divine. In the community of love to which we belong, we daily experience the presence of God. This is an experience we freely receive, and one that we can, if we wish, out of gratitude freely give to others in return.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Though many are questioning why Oklahoma is shifting to the right, I believe the answer is simple.
The state is becoming more conservative because it has politicized Christianity and turned liberalism into a sin.
Oklahomans are proud of the fact that their state is most conservative in the nation, despite the fact that it contains more registered Democrats than Republicans.
They view it as a final safe haven for Christians, morals and families and have no desire to “conform” to the idea that America can endure what they perceive to be dangerous change. . . .
It breaks my heart that, outside campus, I cannot discuss politics in my home state without my faith being questioned.
It breaks my heart that, in this state, there is little room for the middle ground. A person has to agree with everything — or nothing — a party stands for. . . .
Christians are called to love. When did so many forget that?
Too many Republicans — though definitely not all — in this state are benefiting from stirring hatred that should not be there in the first place and fueling it by saying it is the Christian thing to do. . . .
If things do not change here, I cannot see myself staying.
And that breaks my heart.
What Branson says about Oklahoma is also true of rural Texas, where I live. A very ugly state of mind that is closed to any deviation from the norm: religious, political, sexual, or otherwise.
But at least Texas did have some "blue counties" where the majority voted for Obama; Oklahoma had none of its 77 counties go Democratic.
In my home county here, 3 out of 4 of my neighbors voted for McCain. Ugh.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Bush continues his mistakes. The White House sent out a Happy Hanukkah card with a "Christmas Tree" on it. Can't you just hear him say to Laura, "You mean they don't celebrate Christmas???" The Republicans must be wondering, "where's Joe Lieberman when you need him?"
In his Thanksgiving address to the nation, Mr. Obama acknowledged the tough times we face now and spoke of a new beginning for our nation:
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
I foresee, now that the holidays are upon us, all this Prop 8 energy is going to dissipate - there are all those fabulous parties to plan and attend, of course, and then everybody's jetting off back home or on vacation, of course . . . and then oooh, the weather's much too cold to be doing street activities, you know . . . so it will be rather like spring semester back in college. A slow, sobering-up start; a now-what-were-we-doing hazy recollection of the fall enthusiasms; then finally a little progress as springtime warmth and color return to the earth. Oooh, but then there's spring break, you know, and exams, and job interviews, and oooh my sister's getting married, or my boyfriend's got a new job, or we planned this great vacation and the tickets are already bought . . . . Been there, heard that.
So it remains to be seen whether this recent burst of activism will really bear any substantial fruit in the new year. Seems to me a leaderless, unfocused mass movement is unlikely to sustain itself, despite all the rah-rah talk about Stonewall 2.0. I do hope I'm wrong. But we need to remember what Mike says here about having to work for our civil rights; nobody's going to hand them to us, easily and effortlessly.
And so this movie was really about two gay men and the journey between them. The two gay men are Harvey Milk and Dan White. The two gay men are Barney Frank and Ted Haggard. The two gay men are Tony Kushner and Larry Craig. The two gay men are Frank Kameny and Roy Cohn. And as the years have passed by and HIV churned the gay world as powerfully as plagues and wars often do, these polarities were complemented by any number of variations in between.
What I've tried to express in my life is that there is a part of both these traditions within me and within most gay people. I can no more stop loving my church than I can stop laughing with drag queens. I can no more abandon my political conservatism than I can my cultural liberalism. I can no more disown my own Catholic family than I can my dead gay friends. And the struggle of these years has been the insistence that all of this is true and none of it should be denied. Because we are human before we are gay; and humans are complicated, fascinating, vulnerable creatures. We are all virtually normal. The goal of the movement Milk helped propel is not to allow everyone the freedom to be gay so much as it is to allow everyone the freedom to be themselves. . . .
The movie's brilliance is not that it begins and ends with his death as a reflection on the first and last things; it is that it begins and ends with Milk's love for another human being as well. This reach for intimacy - always vulnerable, always intimate, never safe - endures past movements and rallies and elections. These manifestations of the political are the means to that merely human end.
Which is why, in so many ways, the gay movement, at its very best, is something holy.
Roger Ebert makes these observations on the soul-warping power of the closet and the ennobling power of individual courage in his review of the film:
[Milk's] most fateful relationship was with Dan White, a seemingly straight member of the Board of Supervisors, a Catholic who said homosexuality was a sin and campaigned with his wife, kids and the American flag. An awkward alliance formed between Milk and White, who was probably gay and used their areas of political agreement as a beard. "I think he's one of us," Milk confided. The only gay supervisor, Milk was the only supervisor invited to the baptism of White's new baby. White was an alcoholic who all but revealed his sexuality to Milk during a drunken tirade, became unbalanced, resigned his position and on Nov. 27, 1978, walked into City Hall and assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone. . . .
"Milk" tells Harvey Milk's story as one of a transformed life, a victory for individual freedom over state persecution, and a political and social cause. There is a remarkable shot near the end, showing a candlelight march reaching as far as the eyes can see. This is actual footage. It is emotionally devastating. And it comes as the result of one man's decisions in life.
Sean Penn never tries to show Harvey Milk as a hero, and never needs to. He shows him as an ordinary man, kind, funny, flawed, shrewd, idealistic, yearning for a better world. He shows what such an ordinary man can achieve. Milk was the right person in the right place at the right time, and he rose to the occasion. So was Rosa Parks. Sometimes, at a precise moment in history, all it takes is for one person to stand up. Or sit down.
The real Harvey Milk giving his Hope speech in 1978, from Wikipedia
From Good As You via Marriage Equality News:
- A minority community is upset with the Mormon church.
- The Mormon Church "severely opposes" one certain kind of marriage.
- The Mormon church fails to see why people are upset with them.
- Despite their clearly unfair actions, the Mormon church denies any bias
That is the simplified story of 2008's gay-Mormon debate. As you will see from this AP report, these exact same bullet points were also in play way back in 1969 (click to enlarge):
I'm in favor of religious tolerance and a decent respect for others' beliefs. But frankly, the Mormon history of blatant, "divinely authorized" racism makes me want to throw up. Here's a link to the very well-documented Wikipedia article on "Blacks and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" for those of you who want to get the scoop on this. It ought to be required reading at this time of Prop 8 protests.
I also realize the parallels that could be made with other Christian churches on the issue of civil rights, slavery, and other racial beliefs like the Curse of Cain and the Curse of Ham, which I remember hearing freely and zealously preached as the God-given justification for the separation of the races - and the subjugation of the black race, in particular - during my childhood in the segregated South. It's God's will!
Which is why I am so sick of hearing, "The Bible says . . . ". So much of that Bible talk is just the wish-fulfillment of straight white men holding on to power and domination - and, let the truth be said, of straight white women who like it that way. Men talking, not God. See Richard Rodriguez' comments on the "male God of the desert religions" in an earlier post here.
The Mormon leadership got zapped by a revelation direct from God himself on June 1, 1978, saying blacks were just OK with Him. How nice of God to phone in like that. I wonder when the LDS Church will get another convenient "revelation," this time about the gays, hmm?
Among the major changes, the reforms allow homosexuals family benefits under the state-run health care program, and to leave their retirement benefits to their partners if they die. They also confer parental rights on gay and lesbian couples with children. The legislation now goes to House of Representatives where it is expected to pass.
While the laws give same-sex partners many of the same rights and protections as married couples, they stop short of allowing gays and lesbians to wed under the Marriage Act, which was redrawn by the last Conservative government to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
When the ruling Labor Party won election in 2007, it did so in part on a promise to end discrimination against gays and lesbians. But party leaders have said that pledge does not include same-sex marriages.
“It won’t be part of this government’s agenda,” Attorney-General Robert McClelland said Tuesday. “The Labor Party policy is firm that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Only a handful of countries around the world recognize same-sex marriages, including Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and Spain. Around 20 other countries recognize some form of civil union for same-sex partners. In Australia, civil unions are only recognized in two states — Victoria and Tasmania — and the Australian Capital Territory.
The bills were guided through the Senate by the first Asian to hold a cabinet position, climate and water minster Penny Wong, who is also the first openly gay cabinet minister.
Once the final version of the legislation passes the lower house of Parliament and is given Royal Assent by the Governor-General it will become law, making good on the Labor Party's "election commitment to act on the recommendations of a landmark 2007 report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission," according to the Canberra Times.
But more work is needed in Australia. According to Wikipedia,
De facto couples, for example in Tasmania since 2004, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria since 2008, have access to many rights and can easily prove that a relationship exists through a registry or formal agreement. However in New South Wales, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, same-sex and de facto couples often must go to court to prove a relationship exists, even though there is de-facto recognition called unregistered co-habitation. The inability of same sex couples to have conclusive evidence of their relationships can make it difficult for them to access rights accorded to them under the law.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The classic song of wistful departure and the promise of return. For all of you skying out today, traveling to or from the one you love.
This is my 200th post. Been an interesting experience, this blogging thing. I started it on the spur of the moment, with no particular plan of what to do with it. Hell, I still don't have a particular plan. It's just kinda fun. And saves me deluging my friends and family with tons of emails on various subjects; now I just tell them, go see what I posted on my blog today.
If you like what I'm doing here, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I appreciate the emails and comments I've gotten from you Truckers already.
Here's wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
This just in from the Miami Herald:
A Miami-Dade circuit judge Tuesday declared Florida's 30-year-old ban on gay adoption unconstitutional, allowing a North Miami man to adopt two foster kids he has raised since 2004.
In a 53-page order that sets the stage for what could become a constitutional showdown, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman permitted 47-year-old Frank Gill to adopt the 4- and 8-year-old boys he and his partner have raised since just before Christmas four years ago. A child abuse investigator had asked Gill to care for the boys temporarily; they were never able to return to their birth parents.
''This is the forum where we try to heal children, find permanent families for them so they can get another chance at what every child should know and feel from birth, and go on to lead productive lives,'' Lederman said in court before releasing the order. ``We pray for them to thrive, but that is a word we rarely hear in dependency court.''
''These children are thriving; it is uncontroverted,'' the judge added. . . .
In a ruling that, at times, reads more like a social science research paper, Lederman dissected 30 years worth of psychological and sociological research, concluding that studies overwhelmingly have shown that gay people can parent every bit as effectively as straight people and do no harm to their children.
''Based on the evidence presented from experts from all over this country and abroad,'' Lederman wrote, ``it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent. Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic.
''The most important factor in ensuring a well-adjusted child is the quality of parenting,'' Lederman wrote.
Attorneys for the State of Florida are appealing today's order to a higher court.
Florida is the only state in the union with statutory language explicitly banning all "homosexuals," individuals or couples, from adopting children. (Other states, like Utah and Mississippi, achieve the same result by forbidding same-sex couples or anyone not legally married to adopt.)
The Florida law was enacted in 1977 after a strident campaign against all gay-rights laws by Anita Bryant, former Miss Oklahoma and TV pitchwoman for the citrus industry.
Since then the Florida Department of Children and Families, whose attorneys argued in favor of upholding the anti-gay ban, has used many gay men and women as foster parents or permanent guardians to relieve its bulging caseload . . . but not as adoptive parents.
Which is why the DCF attorneys' argument fell flat on its face when they tried to claim that gay people are inherently unfit parents. More stupid-shit bald-faced-lie hypocrisy based ultimately on a narrow-minded religious belief. The state's star expert witness was a psychologist who is also a Southern Baptist minister; the judge found his testimony to be warped by his theological convictions.
Suck it, Anita.
Monday, November 24, 2008
[W]hen courts usurp the role of the people, they inject cynicism and bitterness into America's body politic. In his dissent in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992), Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia put it this way: "[B]y foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue [legalized abortion] arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish."
Plainly this is what we have seen with abortion. With the latest intervention by the California Supreme Court, it is beginning to look the same for same-sex marriage. How much healthier our politics would be if those so convinced of the rightness of their views would have equal faith in the decency of their fellow Americans -- and their openness to being persuaded by clear, fair and honest argument.
What I say: I don't know whether the California Supremes will go for the legal arguments now being made to overturn Prop 8 on constitutional grounds. But I do think if the court overrides the election results, our opponents will feel deeply upset, cheated, as if we have pulled a fast one on them.
In the long run, it would be much better for all concerned if we won our equality and civil rights in a fair fight at the ballot box. I'm not saying the courts should never be involved, they certainly should when appropriate. But right now in California, I think we should plan for 2010 and do the hard work necessary to win the votes of the people.
We'd expect the other side to do the same, wouldn't we? So what are we afraid of?
[T]he real challenge to the family right now is male irresponsibility and misbehavior toward women. If the Hispanic Catholic and evangelical churches really wanted to protect the family, they should address the issue of wife beating in Hispanic families and the misbehaviors of the father against the mother. But no, they go after gay marriage. It doesn't take any brilliance to notice that this is hypocrisy of such magnitude that you blame the gay couple living next door for the fact that you've just beaten your wife. . . .
Religions have the capacity for being noble and ennobling but they are also the expression of some of the darkest impulses in us -- to go after the "other." For Christians, if the other isn't the Muslim, it's the homosexual. That is the most discouraging part. . . .
Now these churches [Mormon, Catholic, evangelical] are going after homosexuals as a way of insisting on their own propriety. They are insisting that they have a role to play in the general society as moral guardians, when what we have seen in the recent past is just the opposite. I mean, it's one thing for the churches to insist on their right to define the sacrament of marriage for their own members. But it's quite another for them to insist that they have a right to define the relationships of people outside their communities. That's really what's most troubling about Proposition 8. It was a deliberate civic intrusion by the churches. . . .
I think gay activists should be very careful with this issue. We should not present ourselves as enemies of religion. I am not prepared to leave the Roman Catholic Church over this issue. The Catholic Church is my church. I was a little concerned about the recent protests outside the Los Angeles Mormon temple. I've seen this sort of demonstration escalate into a sort of deliberate exercise of blasphemy.
For example, in the most severe years of the AIDS epidemic, activists from ACT UP went into St. Patrick's Cathedral, took the communion wafer and threw it on the ground. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. One should be respectful of the religious impulse in the world. If we decide to make ourselves anti-religious, we will only lose. . . .
The desert religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- are male religions. Their perception is that God is a male god and Allah is a male god. If the male is allowed to hold onto the power of God, then I think we are in terrible shape. I think what's coming out of Colorado Springs right now, with people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is either the last or continuing gasp of a male hierarchy in religion. That's what's at stake. And women have a determining role to play. Are they going to go along with this, or are they going to challenge the order? . . .
I don't see women challenging the male order of things in every case. Wives tolerate all kinds of behavior of fathers toward their children. But I do think it's important that some woman are starting to challenge that. The divorce rate suggests that women are not happy with the relationship they have with men. And whatever that unhappiness is, I would like people to know that, as a gay man, I'm not responsible for what's wrong with heterosexual marriage. On the other hand, whatever is wrong with the heterosexual marriage does have some implication for the world I live in. Women are redefining sexuality in a way that's going to make it easier for me to be a gay man.
LBJ's daughter Luci reflects on the legacy of her father's work for civil rights, in an essay on the CNN website. Here's an excerpt:
My father's dream was to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans regardless of the color of their skin or the quantity of their pocketbook.
On November 4, Barack Obama made good on those dreams. He walked through the doors of opportunity -- flung open by Lyndon Baines Johnson, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of men and women who supported the Great Society -- and succeeded because of the "content of his character, not the color of his skin."
When Daddy signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he said he feared he was handing his beloved South over to the Republican Party for a generation, but if that was the price he had to pay for social justice he gladly did it. Sadly it's been more than a generation since he said those prophetic words.
I never got the chance to vote for my father. But when I cast my vote for Barack Obama, I was casting a vote to support the same causes of social justice and equal opportunity to quality education, decent health care and a clean environment for all Americans that Daddy and the supporters of the "Great Society" worked so hard on and achieved so much for. . . .
I thank God for all who helped Daddy's dreams for social justice become law. I thank the millions of Americans who helped President-elect Obama make those dreams come true.
And I pray that Americans will continue to stand together with our new president as he wrestles with the greatest problems of our time so he can make the dreams of a new generation come true too.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Happened to run across this one from Brazil and thought I'd share it with you Blue Truckers as the weekend draws to a quiet close. I don't understand the words . . . but love is beautiful in any language. Enjoy.
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
Then suddenly all was changed: a blank screen and the CBS logo; the ominous words, We interrupt this program . . . ; shots fired in Dallas at the Presidential motorcade; President Kennedy taken to a hospital; confusion on the streets and in the broadcast studio. I ran to tell my mother to come see. "Oh honey, don't joke about a thing like that." "No, Mommy, it's true, Walter Cronkite said . . . ."
And then the long, sad weekend, no cartoons on Saturday, no programs at all but news coverage and documentaries about the President's life. Not even any commercials for three days. We kids bemoaned the fact that there was nothing else to watch on TV; but young as we were, we were unwillingly fascinated by all that was happening, just like the grownups. And all the unforgettable images that have been replayed and repeated so many times across the years since then.
Well, I don't want to dwell today on the details of JFK's death, the poignant tableau of his widow and young children, the grief of a whole nation united in shock and sadness. Instead, I want to put a reminder here of who Kennedy was and why he inspired the nation and the world: the legacy of hope, the vision of all that America could be and should be to the world.
The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high--to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.
The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises--it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook--it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.
It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric--and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me, regardless of party.
But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age--to all who respond to the Scriptural call: "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed."
Over on Pam's House Blend, where I occasionally leave a comment, someone who's now visiting in The Netherlands blasted the U.S., her native country, as "the Land of Hate." I felt a need to make a little response to that, which I'm reposting here:
I know the hurt, I know the feeling. I'm a native Southerner, a Texan, I've lived in the Bible belt all my life. And in important ways, my life has been very seriously derailed and damaged by all the homophobia - and utter hypocrisy - I've had to deal with, as I've written about in my blog. It's easy to get very bitter, very angry about all that. Sometimes I find it difficult to keep a civil tongue in my head when discussing these issues with older relatives whose minds are stuck in 1950.
But the homophobes, the haters, and the just plain ignorant are not all there is to America, and I have to keep reminding myself of that fact. Like Mr. O. has said so eloquently, the glory of America is that it can change, that we can keep on perfecting our union. And when I step outside my little box of hurt and resentment, I see the bigger picture: the steady progress down the years towards liberty and justice for all, though sometimes it's one step forward and two steps back.
Still, it's wrong, very wrong, to call America the Land of Hate. There are some haters, yes; but they are not the sum total of America. And I think there's actually more fear than hate, and even more ignorance than fear. Fear and ignorance we can work on, we can change. And we will.
You want to talk about a Land of Hate, just go look at the map of homosexuality laws of the world on Wikipedia. There are still plenty of countries where being gay will get you a long stay in prison, or even the death penalty. Government leaders, bishops and imams, major newspapers openly call for the death, imprisonment, and persecution of gays. We aren't even close to all that in America, not by a long shot.
So I have to remind myself, no matter how frustrated and upset I get over the progress of equality here, it's still an awfully damn good place to live. And now with Obama's election, all kinds of new changes can and will happen for the better - for everyone. It's a new day, a new world here. America is the land of hope and change now.
I hope you can see that too.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The tipping point is not simply about a new era of activism, if indeed such an era is beginning. It is about the discouraging state of formal GLBT leadership, specifically the leadership of the Human Rights Campaign. If our community is indeed rising up, let us rise up not only for marriage rights, but for courage and competence at the helm of our largest civil rights organizations, and eloquence from our main voice in national politics.I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me precisely how a hate-crimes law will benefit anyone in the gay community. What exactly is the good that it will do for us?
For God’s sake, if we can bring courage, competence and eloquence to the Oval Office, we can find a way to bring it to the executive offices of a lobbying group. . . .
Hate crimes are despicable. But legislation won’t end them. Hate crime penalties are rarely enforced or charged where applicable. And when they are, it’s often in a case that is so violent, the charge itself carries massive punishment to begin with. A federal hate crime law is also the least controversial of any gay rights proposal now pending before Congress and it is HRC’s top priority for the sole reason of feasibility. A hate crime law will be the easiest, and one of the least useful, pieces of federal legislation that we can pass. HRC has never passed a gay rights bill through Congress and they are dying to do so now. . . .
You know what? A federal hate crime law is not our top priority as a community. And I am not appointing myself Director of the Gay Agenda, I am stating a fact. Yet HRC continues to plod away on yesterday’s bills, hate crimes and the watered down trans-less Employment Nondiscrimination Act, without the slightest sense of where the rest of us want to be led. And the problem is that we only have so much political capital. We cannot afford to spend it on hate crimes or the wreck of an ENDA bill that we’ve been hawking for a couple decades. . . .
What are we arguing for now? “Oh! Please Mister. Don’t let them kill me because I’m gay!” “Oh! Please Ma’am. Don’t let them fire me because I’m a lesbian!” “Oh Please Voter. Don’t discriminate against poor little me!” Aren’t we tired of being victims on our knees? Isn’t it time to stand up and say, “Look, I’m not scary. I’m not a pervert. I’m a regular American like you, and I’d like to serve my country, raise my children, and weave my relationship into the social fabric of this country just like you.”
And isn’t this the time to start changing our carefully nuanced message and start saying what we believe, which ironically is exactly what America is waiting hear from us. Because if we can’t bring ourselves to ask our fellow citizens to treat us as equals, why the hell should they? We’re not acting like equals!
Friday, November 21, 2008
We got gorgeous weather here in Texas, sunny and cool. But I wouldn't mind some of the precip in this video, which features one of my all-time fave dance tunes. Try to keep your eyes on the road, and have a good one y'all.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.Insensitive? Me? Say it ain't so, Joe.
And screw you if you don't like it.
Update: The folks at GenderAnalyzer are 75 percent certain I'm a man. Well that's reassuring. But guess I need to work on that one sentence out of four that's girly.
(Honk to Blue Truck reader Reporter-Cub for the link.)
We are not out to change any church's, any individual's definition of "holy matrimony"; they can keep their beliefs on that subject intact. But we are all equal when it comes to secular matters; civil marriage is the goal, and it is our right as Americans.
Andrew's new essay, "Modernity, Faith, and Marriage," covers a lot of philosophical ground on the gulf between the old white-hetero-male-centric world my generation was born into and the new world of freedom and diversity now dawning. A few choice excerpts relating to the gay marriage issue:
The reason the marriage debate is so intense is because neither side seems able to accept that the word "marriage" requires a certain looseness of meaning if it is to remain as a universal, civil institution. This is not that new. Catholics, for example, accept the word marriage to describe civil marriages that are second marriages, even though their own faith teaches them that those marriages don't actually exist as such. But most Catholics are able to set theological beliefs to one side and accept a theological untruth as a civil fact. After all, a core, undebatable Catholic doctrine is that marriage is for life. Divorce is not the end of that marriage in the eyes of God. And yet Catholics can tolerate fellow citizens who are not Catholic calling their non-marriages marriages - because Catholics have already accepted a civil-religious distinction. They can wear both hats in the public square. . . .
The idea that gay people somehow want to persecute these churches, that we're out to get you, and hurt you and punish you is preposterous. The notion that there are rampaging mobs of gay people beating up on Christians is also unhinged. To take one flash-point between a radical Dominionist group deliberately trying to rub salt in the wounds of Castro Street bar patrons after closing hours - in which no one was hurt - as the harbinger of some kind of mass gay pogrom against Christians is daffy. To equate a few drunk gays with Bull Connor is deranged and offensive. There are elements on both sides who do not represent the core. That core can coexist with mutual respect in the context of legal and civil equality.
We live in a new world, and we can and should create meaning where we can, in civil society, in private, through free expression and self-empowerment. But we cannot enforce that old meaning on others by law. And we certainly cannot do so arbitrarily, to the sole detriment of only one group in society - homosexuals. . . . My advice to the theocons: by picking solely on homosexuals to force back the sexual and spiritual freedom of modernity, you look awful, you are losing the next generation and you are buttressing cruelty and pain. In your heart of hearts, you don't want to do that.
So listen to your heart. Accept civil equality not as a defeat but as an opportunity: to persuade and evangelize for something beyond the civil that still respects the integrity of the civil. That's what America's founders intended. It is part of their genius that today's fundamentalists simply do not understand.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The truth is that the great majority of Prop. 8 advocates are not bigots or hatemongers. They are American citizens who are following 5,000 years of human history and the belief of every major people and religion: Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. Their pro-Prop. 8 votes weren't intended to deprive any group of its rights; they were safeguarding their honest convictions regarding the boundaries of marriage.
Norris has become a popular columnist on right-wing sites such as Townhall and WingNutDaily. For those keeping track of those so in love with "traditional marriage", Norris is twice-married with five kids, including a bastard child from an adulterous affair. His present wife, 28 years younger than Norris, is also younger than two of his children.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Fellowship Church pastor Rev. Ed Young preaches a sermon dealing with sex while sitting on a bed at the Grapevine church. Rev. Young is issuing a challenge this Sunday [Nov. 16] for married couples to have sex on seven straight days.But, um, suppose you are a married couple . . . of the same gender?
"God says sex should be between a married man and a woman. And do it," he says.Right. I get the picture, preacher.
See the full list of names here.
We – the undersigned -- respectfully call for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Those of us endorsing this letter have dedicated our lives to defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish. Scholarly data shows there are approximately one million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States today as well as 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in our armed forces. They have served our nation honorably.
We support the recent comments of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General John Shalikashvili, who has concluded that repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would not harm and would indeed help our armed forces. As is the case with Great Britain, Israel, and other nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality. Such collaboration reflects the strength and the best traditions of our democracy.
According to the Associated Press,
The list of 104 former officers who signed the statement appears to signal growing support for resolving the status of gays in the military. Last year, 28 former generals and admirals signed a similar statement.
[Retired Admiral Charles] Larson, who has a gay daughter he says has broadened his thinking on the subject, believes a generational shift in attitudes toward homosexuality has created a climate where a repeal is not only workable, but also an important step for keeping talented personnel in the military.
"I know a lot of young people now — even people in the area of having commands of ships and squadrons — and they are much more tolerant, and they believe, as I do, that we have enough regulations on the books to enforce proper standards of human behavior," Larson said.
The officers' statement points to data showing there are about 1 million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States, and about 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in the military.
The military discharged about 12,340 people between 1994 and 2007 for violating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a military watchdog group. The number peaked in 2001 at 1,273, but began dropping off sharply after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Last year, 627 military personnel were discharged under the policy.
It doesn't take a Doris Kearns Goodwin to see that Barack Obama can go down in history as the president who brought gay rights to this country. He is in a position to pass ENDA and hate crime legislation, repeal DOMA, repeal DADT, and establish federal rights for our unions.
In summary, Barack Obama has the potential to be the Abraham Lincoln for gay people. Just as Lincoln freed the slaves, Obama (more or less a beneficiary of Lincoln's actions) is in the unique position to become known as the president who freed the gays.
As I've said before, nonviolence is the only way to go here, folks. Let's get smart, not stupid. Remember: we are the 5 percent, straights are the great big 95 percent. It's a new day in America, but even so, violence and vandalism on our part won't get us what we want.
I well recall growing up in the segregated South of the 1960's, and the reactions of my parents and their friends to the riots and violence of those times: "You see how the n*ggers are when you let them get out of line . . . " they would say. They ignored all the good arguments in favor of civil rights and focused only on the looting, burning, and spilled blood.
And in fact, the grown-ups of my childhood never were persuaded by even the nonviolent civil rights leaders; they simply acquiesced, eventually, in the face of the new civil rights laws and court orders. Of course, the anarchy and race war they feared would follow all that never came to pass; but fear is a powerful, dangerous thing. We need to lessen people's fears about gay people, not increase them.
I do pray the hotheads among us simmer down and listen to reason. Rex Wockner celebrates what he terms Activism 4.0:
We have now indeed entered Activism 4.0 or whatever the hell you want to call it. Our "leaders" let us down and you -- you, the average gay or lesbian citizen who just wants to have equal rights and maybe even get married -- you have seized power by using Facebook and your blogs, e-mail and Twitter, MySpace and text-messages to launch a new gay movement . . . . You don't have to listen to the gay "leaders" who failed you anymore, you don't have to give them any more money, you just have to figure out what you want to do next with the power that now is yours -- to get what you want: Full equality.
Will all this grassroots energy coalesce into an effective, enduring force for change, or just peter out after the Next Big Groovy Thing comes along? I think some leadership is needed, and the national orgs are probably doing some much-needed reassessing of themselves right now. Sort of like the Republican party, you know?
Joe Jervis has a great post on the piggish Newt Gingrich, who is very sure of where this is all going:
I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion.
Joe also has a long quote by ex-gay preacher James Hartline, who raises the anarchy warning in this newsflash from Heaven:
Each time homosexual activists attempt to force their agenda on California, there have been raging, massive, incinerating fires sweeping across the California landscape.
Today, people are running for their lives as 800 California homes have burned down and the firestorm is spreading like a nuclear holocaust. Yet, the radical homosexual anarchists rampage upon the streets of this state demanding the destruction of marriage and family, and the establishment of their socialistic dark vision for society.
You see, the problem is this: God has plans for California in the near days ahead. Thus, these attempts to force an ungodly tyranny on this state are being met blow with blow by God. God is saying, "California shall be a refuge for America when the catastrophes come. California belongs to Me, not the advocates of sexual anarchy."
Yeah, he's an idiot. But people listen to preachers like this, and believe them. They won't turn the channel and listen to us, especially if we are being ugly and violent. They will remember that one image to the exclusion of all others. Let's not give them the ammo to shoot us down with.
On AOL's Political Machine, blogger Liza Porteus Viana asks, "Is Anarchy the Answer in Proposition 8 Protests?" I'm not sure why she calls a handful of asshole incidents "anarchy" but I think the choice of words is telling: people's deepest fears are being stoked now. Liza says,
Yes, there's frustration, but funneling that frustration into more productive, effective methods of pushing your cause will do a lot more good than just further alienating those whose support you could use. If the idea is to encourage others to be more open-minded and accepting of those different from them, beating them into submission (metaphorically speaking, hopefully) might not be the best route.
Angiebaby: How is vigilante violence going to effect this cause? beating people, vandalizing churches and racial persecution never have, and never will, bring a positive solution to any problem.
reidgator: To the supporters of gay rights: be very careful. Your use of violence may incite others who disagree with other outcomes of this election. Can those who disagree with Obama as president use violence? Some of them may be declraing "We should fight!" Hw about por-life supporters? Can they use violence?
BH: The cause? What is the cause? Is it to turn our civilization into a dmonic III world country? God has set up laws and iit's time our country began to inforce the laws. Marriage has always been recoginized to be between a man and woman. Your cause is evil and children are watching. But more important, God is watching!. Turn from you sin and turn to God and He will deliver you and set you free.
Truth Man: Marriage is between one man and one woman. Thomas Jefferson never envisioned a bunch of queers demanding we change the definition of marriage.
BH, again: Enough is enough, if you want to live in sin in the privacy of your own house, so be it, but don't try to force it on our children, which you are doing in the schools now, and on decent human beings. There is good and evil even though the liberals are doing everything they can to turn our nation into something evil. The blood of the unborn is on your hands and God hears that blood crying out to Him for vengeance. Yes, he is a God of love,but He also is a God of judment. Americans need to rise up and stop this before it's too late.
me: am not gay but voted yes on Prop 8. Violent protestings will not gain a thing. They will only confirm what many already believe. You're going to screw things up for yourselves.
So guys, please stop and think about what you're doing when you get loud and rowdy. Don't louse this moment up for all of us.
You want this to be a free country? Act like it. You want your rights, you better respect the other guy's, too. I'll close with an excerpt from a San Jose Mercury editorial:
Anger is not a strategy. Harassment will not change minds and can cause a wider backlash. Stifling others' rights of expression is destructive to the cause of a minority.
One ugly case was the boisterous protest by dozens of gay marriage supporters outside a small Los Angeles restaurant where the owner's daughter had contributed $100 to Proposition 8. The loss of customers threatened the livelihoods of employees, some of whom were gay and opposed the initiative.
Economic actions dating back to the Montgomery bus boycott are staples of any civil rights struggle. Gay marriage supporters are posting the identities of Proposition 8 donors, and people certainly are free to not patronize businesses owned by those who disagree with them. But the selective boycotts of small donors clearly is meant to send a message of intimidation and suppress the First Amendment right of expression. That is not just self-defeating but dangerous.
Supporters of equal rights would be wiser to focus on persuading others of the justice of their cause, which will only grow clearer over time.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Gay people and our allies are compassionate, sensitive, caring, mobilized, and programmed for success. A day without gays would be tragic because it would be a day without love.
On December 10, 2008 the gay community will take a historic stance against hatred by donating love to a variety of different causes.
On December 10, you are encouraged not to call in sick to work. You are encouraged to call in "gay"--and donate your time to service!
Joe Jervis says:
Over the weekend the story got major play on right-wing and Christianist blogs as another example (like in Palm Springs) of how inherently violent and intolerant gay people supposedly are. I'm not at ALL buying that things went like the Justice House people claim, but these confrontations are definitely escalating. Ugly and uglier.Andrew Sullivan says:
I'm really worried about where this is heading. Somebody is going to get killed and we're all going to lose. I'm pissed, we're all fucking pissed, but this is going to a bad place. And I say that knowing that if I had been in the Castro on Friday night, I probably would have been right there in it. We've got the moral upper hand in this fight and every day more and more people see that. But we have GOT to keep these things peaceful. Yell, fuck yeah, YELL. But don't touch. Don't hit. Don't throw. Please.
Some of the fringe elements in the gay community risk undoing the massive, positive wave of peaceful protest this weekend with intolerance and even violence. Cut it out, morons. It's sickening. Christians - even Christianists, who seek to impose their religious convictions into laws that would actively punish gay couples - nonetheless have First Amendment rights that must be respected at all times.
What I say: Ditto to all the above. Look guys, it's a symbolic battle we're fighting here, not a physical one. I'm mad as hell too, but I know lashing out physically will only hurt us, not help us. It's not cool. It sucks. So DON'T DO IT. Use your big head, sober up, and channel that energy into what will help us and all Americans in the struggle for equality. Be men, not ugly babies.
Yeah, our rights are delayed, and most unjustly. But you ain't hurting that much, to get violent over it. We are all still going to our jobs every day, paying the bills, lounging on the sofa and watching TV at night, hanging with our friends, all the comfortable routines of modern life.
Meanwhile, FIVE MILLION people have died over in the Congo, and more every day, in a brutal decade of genocide. Do you know about that? Do you care? In a situation like that, retaliatory violence for self-defense might be justified. But that's not what's happening here, not by a long shot.
So let's put things in perspective, folks. Peaceful, nonviolent protests are fine. Anything more is just plain stupid. Period.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
In every era, there's somebody or something that we just have to demonize. One hundred years ago, it was alcohol, Demon Rum. Our great-grandparents were so het up about the evils of drink that they kept on and kept on until they finally changed the Constitution of the United States to make the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol illegal everywhere in the country.
Now we look back and smugly smile at how silly they were. Yes, we know alcohol causes lots of serious problems, physical, mental, social, etc. But how many people are demanding the total eradication of alcohol from the landscape? Do you turn up your nose and make a sneering comment every time a friend of yours pops open a beer? Is anyone proposing to shut down all the bars and liquor stores "to protect our children"?
Actually, there are still some dry counties out here in rural Texas, a legacy of that hundred-year-old campaign against alcohol; but we all know the dry-county routine is just an exercise in hypocrisy, don't we?
Furthermore, a big influential group of college presidents - yeah - is now advocating lowering, not raising the drinking age. I thought we had that debate and settled it back in the 70's; lower drinking age = more auto accidents and deaths, no?
And of course, it's entirely likely that sometime in the next 10 years, certainly the next 20, we will see marijuana legalized all over the country, even here in Bible-believing Texas.
So if we get out of the self-righteous, I'm-so-pure, Health Nazi mode, we see that our own attitudes are likely very inconsistent. Hypocritical. Intolerant.
Except when it comes down to what we like. The fashionable vices. Oh then it's just okay - pot, beer, booze, you name it. Not a problem. "Leave me alone. It's my body. My sacred choice."
Yeah, well, think about that in terms of the tobacco thing, guys. Is it really necessary, especially out in the open air, or indoors where adults congregate, with big machines to sweep the air clean? Or does it just make you feel all warm and Sunday-school-righteous inside to kick somebody else's freedom into the gutter?
Is the other guy's health the real motive here? Or is it something else? I ask you.
Local journalist Steve Friess caught an audio interview with Sykes immediately after her speech, which you can hear on his blog, Vegas Happens Here. In the interview,
Sykes also disputed the much-reported claim that 70 percent of black voters in California voted to ban gay marriage. Several prominent writers, including Dan Savage here, have railed against homophobic blacks. Wanda said the exit polls were wrong and admonished me, "Please stop spreading that 70 percent of African-Americans voted Yes on Prop 8 because it’s just not true."
By comparison, the same CNN poll also purports that 82 percent of Republicans voted Yes on 8; so did 81 percent of white evangelicals; 64 percent of Catholics; 61 percent of mothers with children at home; 59 percent of suburban residents; and 54 percent of heterosexuals.
And of course, nobody is required to answer an exit poll; so even though I'm not a statistician, I realize these numbers reflect voters who selected themselves for the exit poll to some degree.
So does it make any sense to single out one particular group as the scapegoat for Prop 8's passage? Should we villify all Republicans, Catholics, mothers, and burb dwellers? Hell no, of course not. To do so would be to estrange the many people in those groups who did vote for equal marriage. Veteran gay-rights activist David Mixner has this to say about the subject:
Now in relationship to the African-American community, much has been made of a CNN exit poll that show 70% of that community voting "Yes On Eight". Dr. Fernando Guerra of Loyola's Levy Center for the Study of Los Angeles did a far more extensive poll than CNN and found that the 70% figure was way too high. The figure is closer to 57% (still not acceptable) but a long way from the 70%. Other models that I have been running in an attempt to get the facts and not the emotions show the latter a more likely figure.
The other data that appears to be emerging (BUT yet to be totally verified) is that African-Americans who early voted (which was a huge number) voted YES while those on election day voted NO. Remember we did not do extensive campaigning in many of the African-American precincts until the final week or so which was long after tens of thousands had already voted. Our campaign was slow to use Obama's opposition to Proposition Eight which he gave the day after the initiative qualified five months before the election.
Yes. We. Will.
P.S. - California is still counting absentee and provisional ballots; final results will be released on December 9.