Archive | May, 2012

Who Would Jesus Hate?

31 May

Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this story.  Can you imagine being suspended from high school for wearing a shirt that basically says Jesus was not a hater?  Well, such was the case in Ohio. Yes, the state that produced such homophobic, misogynistic bigots like John Boehner.  Maverick Couch, 16-year-old junior at Waynesville High School was told by his principal (not a principal that should be in any school) that if Couch continued to wear the shirt he would face suspension.

Fortunately, on May 21, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett ordered school officials to allow Maverick to wear the T-shirt to school whenever he chooses. He also ordered the school district to pay $20,000 in damages and court costs to the teen.  Principal Randy Gebhardt cost the school district money and showed poor leadership with no integrity.


Real Leadership Pays Real Dividends

30 May

It has been nearly a month since President Obama announced his support for marriage equality but the ripples are still being felt. Opposition to civil equality for LGBT Americans has hit an all-time low, with 53% supporting marriage and only 39% opposing it. Even with the extraordinary exposure that this supposedly controversial topic has received, people are moving in the direction of fairness.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the African American community, as shown in recent polls. Nationally, their support of equality jumped from 41% to 59%. In Maryland, where voters will be asked to weigh in on a marriage referendum in November, numbers look good. This is largely because of a complete swing in African American support, going from 36% to 55% in the past month. Even in North Carolina, where marriage equality was just defeated, black opposition dropped eleven points since the President’s announcement.

The recent burst of support from African American leaders and celebrities on the heels of the President clearly has had an beneficial impact. The NAACP, Julian Bond, Colin Powell, Jay-Z, and Chris Rock all announced their support. This visible shift in the black community has made it easier for voters to be comfortable with expressing support. Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in California, says blacks are more likely to confront the issue simply because of the esteem they hold for Obama.

It says, “If Obama can be for gay marriage, I can be for it too.” It’s now a safer position to vocalize. We would hypothesize that it would increase support because now the environment has changed.

That’s what leadership can do. As this article points out, Obama has in fact been more supportive of the LGBT community than any prior President. As frustrating as his occasional reticence can be, his actions speak loudly. When his words join those actions, the nation follows.

Fox Nooz Learned Me This Smartful

29 May

Just about this balanced…

Poor ol’ Faux News just can’t get no respect. Yet another study proves that people who rely on the propaganda network for their information actually know LESS than people who don’t get news from anywhere.

Respondents to the survey were able to answer correctly an average of 1.8 of 4 questions about international news and 1.6 out of 5 questions about domestic affairs. “Based on these results, people who don’t watch any news at all are expected to answer correctly on average 1.22 of the questions about domestic politics, just by guessing or relying on existing basic knowledge,” said Dan Cassino, the poll’s analyst.

People who rely solely on Fox barely got one question right — domestic or international — far below the average and even below random chance. That’s right, a monkey throwing darts at a list of answers would be more likely to be right than a Foxwatcher.

Of course, relying on a single source of news is a poor strategy in general, but for those who do, the best informed are those who rely on NPR. It’s also pretty sad that the average results had people getting fewer than half the questions right. We’re not exactly an informed nation, are we?

Given the history of inaccuracies, bias, and outright lies that Fox spouts, this isn’t a big surprise. Consider the company’s CEO, Roger Ailes, who called reporters for the New York Times “lying scum” at a speech to Ohio University’s journalism students. He also asserted “One thing that qualifies me to run a journalism organization is the fact that I don’t have a journalism degree.” Well that pretty much sums up how Fox works, doesn’t it?

Memorial Day and Remembering Whose Land We Are On…

28 May

I hope this post accomplishes at least two goals.  I worry we do not do nearly enough to support our brothers and sisters returning from duty; let us not forget that it was George W and the Republicans that wanted to cut funding for their benefits.  Secondly, I wanted to make it clear that this holiday is far more complex when you think about colonization and the Native American Holocaust.   I think the picture I have included says more than I could ever say, and it says it far more eloquently!

Star Wars, 35th Anniversary: How Did I Get This Old?

27 May

35th Anniversary

This weekend marks the 35th Anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars.  I was relaying this fact to some friends at my internship and realized that none of them were even alive when the movie was released.  Oy!  A moment in time that does not seem too distant suddenly made me feel ready for the old Jedi home–I think I’m starting to look like Yoda.

While the story of good v. evil is eternal, Star Wars provided a futuristic back drop the likes of which we had never seen before.  Space creatures, “light speed”, and Darth Vader were so incredibly captivating and seemed so real.

This was a time when movies used to stay at theaters for months at a time, even in some cases years.  Star Wars was one of those movies that stayed in the theater for well over a year and my brothers and I probably saw it at least 30 times, when movies cost .75 to see.

Looking back 35 years ago, I also reflect that “Gee, I think I must have been gay,” for I had a kind of crush on Mark Hamill and was fascinated by Princess Leia with the bagels attached to her head.  I also reflect back and think about Star Wars as somewhat of a feminist film.  Princess Leia was a strong and independent woman who controlled her own destiny.

Star Wars also changed the world of special effects forever more, much as the world we live in has changed so dramatically since the Carter administration.  Star Wars was made toward the end of the Second Wave Women’s Movement and when American politicians were working toward peace, such as President Carter working with Prime Minister Menahem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt to sign a Peace Accord.

The 35th Anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars has also made me reflect on politics and how far backward we seem to have gone in many ways.  The Reagan/Bush years coupled with the W.Bush years have been far more damaging than most of us would like to think.

I shall conclude this post with an encouragement to review history and learn from our mistakes, especially as we move closer to election time.  Do we want a person that takes a strong stand for civil rights and has earned the respect of global leaders to lead the United States, or do we want someone from a dynasty of wealth and power that explicitly says he will work against civil rights and has a tarnished reputation around the world?

California Judge Moves DOMA One Step Closer to Extinction

27 May

Judge Claudia Wilken

Claudia Wilken, U.S. District Judge for Northern California, struck another blow against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on May 23. The case centered on benefits offered by CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. The system has refused to let gay spouses enroll in its federally approved insurance program on the grounds that they were excluded by DOMA. This practice is common in most states.

Judge Wilken ruled that the relevant provisions of DOMA violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment, writing that there was no proof the DOMA provision was “rationally related to a legitimate government interest.” She also struck down a U.S. Internal Revenue Service law to the extent that it bars domestic partners from enrolling in the long-term care insurance plan offered by CalPERS. She ordered CalPERS to begin allowing gay and lesbian spouses and partners to enroll in the plan.The full order (PDF) is available here.

This is the second ruling against DOMA’s constitutionality in recent months. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco issued a similar ruling in February in a lawsuit filed by Karen Golinski, a federal appeals court staff attorney who wants to enroll her wife in the court’s employee health plan. An appeal of White’s decision by a Republican-led Congressional group is slated to be heard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in September.

The group, known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, is made up of the five top leaders of the House of Representatives. It stepped into both the cases before White and Wilken after the Obama Administration said last year it will no longer defend DOMA. Reflecting current House composition, the group has three Republicans and two Democrats. Both decisions to intercede were made by a three-two partisan vote. Judge Wilken indicated that she will suspend her order if the Group refers her decision to the 9th Circuit as they are likely to do.

DOMA is at risk on several fronts. Besides the two California cases and the Obama decision not to defend, there are two bills in Congress to repeal the law. This Respect for Marriage Act has good support in the Democrat-controlled Senate but no traction in the Republican-led House. Another ruling against DOMA in Massachusetts is currently before a federal appeals court.

The recent attention on marriage equality has actually increased approval in polls. Strong statements from the NAACP and black leaders dramatically increased approval in the African American community. Even Republican strategists have begun admitting that some of the rationale for DOMA is deeply flawed. Even if Congress can’t agree to act, the days of this discriminatory law may be numbered.

We Will Prevail

26 May

Today’s article was written by TSM contributor James Queale.

This week, like many weeks, was filled with bitter homophobes who said and did outrageous things. Like the North Carolina pastor who advocated putting gays and lesbians into separate pens so that we can die off; or the mindless cluster fuck known as “One Million Moms” and their never-ending complaints about homosexuals indoctrinating children through media.

Let’s forget about those people today and take a look at a recent video that shows yet again that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is dead.

Videos and pictures like this have been becoming commonplace these days. It is videos and pictures like this that give me hope and make me remember that we are winning this fight. Anti-gay groups are getting louder because they are losing and deep down they know it. I really feel like they are on their last hurrah. If you look closely, people are evolving all over the place and there appears to be a recent surge thanks to Obama.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Nicholas Klein or Gandhi (Disputed)

Hero of the Week Award: May 25, Max Hirsh and the Southern Poverty Law Center

25 May

Hero of the Week

When you go to a professional for care, it’s very hard to deal with a betrayal, much less demand that the professional be held accountable. This week’s hero stood up for himself and found an organization committed to helping him.

Max Hirsh of Eugene, OR, went to a psychiatrist to get help with his depression and his ability to form romantic relationships. He told the doctor that he was gay (he’s 22 and has been out since he was 19) at the beginning of therapy. Over the course of the first few sessions, however, the doctor kept pushing issues like Hirsh’s athletic abilities, his teenage relationships with girls, and how many positive male role models he had in his life. These seemed like distractions to Hirsh, who was stunned when the doctor finally told him, “But you’re heterosexual.”

Realizing that the doctor’s strategy was to change his sexual orientation, a practice known as conversion therapy, Hirsh terminated therapy. After a few weeks of family pressure to continue working on his depression, he returned to the doctor, however, who assured him that he was “fine” with Hirsh being gay. Nevertheless, the stealth conversion therapy continued. Hirsh terminated again and has filed a complaint with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Oregon Psychiatric Association. Helping him with the complaint is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has taken a strong stand against anti-gay activity in recent years.

Because the complaint is still under investigation, the doctor’s name has not been disclosed. The APA has stated, however, that they take such charges seriously. Not only would this behavior violate informed consent, the APA came out clearly against conversion therapy in 2009. Christine Sun, deputy legal director at SPLC, wants them to be even firmer, stating,

Our immediate goal is for the APA to take these allegations seriously and ultimately ban conversion therapy by its members.

That’s a goal worth fighting for.  I hope to eventually be able to publish the name of the psychiatrist because he is a danger to the LGBT community.

Bigot of the Week Award: May 25, Pastor Charles Worley and his Congregation

25 May

Bigot of the Week

Thank you to my friend Brad Fairchild for inspiring me to write this article.

This week’s bigot is a fine, upstanding example of what christian charity does NOT look like. Pastor Charles Worley of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC, went on a rant in his sermon on May 13. Blasting President Obama for his support of marriage equality (I wonder how he voted on Amendment One…), Worley went one toxic step further.

I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there… Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out… And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die.

Setting aside both compassion and logic, Worley ignores the scientific fact that people are born gay and the practical fact that HETEROSEXUALS keep on popping them out. Not satisfied with calling for a death camp, Worley went on to call the President a “baby killer” and “homosexual lover.” He wrapped up his sermon (which you can see here if you can stomach it) with

God have mercy. It makes me pukin’ sick to think about — I don’t even know whether or not to say this in the pulpit — can you imagine kissing some man?

REALLY? How loving and KKKristian of you. Just how often DO you imagine kissing some man, Pastor? It turns out that Worley has been preaching this way for decades, including a recently surfaced sermon from 1978 in which he advocates lynching for gays and lesbians. Sadly, his congregation peppered his hate speech with “amens.” When interviewed by a local news station, many of them supported his words as “God’s Love.”  While I’m always hesitant to compare folk to Nazis, Pastor Worley is clearly a Nazi with his proposal to set up a death camp for the LGBT community.  I feel very sorry for Worley and his followers–that is some serious bad karma! Is anyone else singing this tune?

Colin Powell: More Support For Marriage Equality

24 May

More Support for Marriage Equality

In a wonderful surprise yesterday, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he does support Marriage Equality.  Powell now joins a series of African-American leaders who very vocally support marriage equality, including Russell Simmons, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Jay-Z.

Support for Marriage Equality from the African-American community is now at an all time high of 59% according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

It looks as though Republicans are on the WRONG side of history.

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