Tag Archives: Boy Scouts

45 Fatigue: The Struggle Is Real

30 Jul

Somehow I thought for sure this alone would have prevented 45 from moving forward, that his mocking a person with a disability would have been enough. Then I thought his bragging about “grabbing a woman by the pussy” would have been enough to stop him. Sadly, this is who we are stuck with currently and who is destroying Democracy on a daily basis. I do wonder how on earth are people able to live with themselves for voting for such a monster.

As I mentioned in my last article, I believe most of the nation is currently experiencing some serious 45 Fatigue — most of us in the nation are currently on edge, pugnacious, unsettled, anxious, depressed, angry, or any combination of the above. And it is not just those of us who identify as progressives who are feeling the pain. I am experiencing people all over the political spectrum who are struggling — as Ru Paul’s Kennedy Davenport said: “The struggle is real.”

I have some friends/family in Georgia who have been lifelong Republicans who are feeling the pain and disappointment. I suspect many Republicans are in mourning, for they are now realizing the party they believed in has been obliterated by 45, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell.

One can’t even keep up with the daily barrage of bizarre goings on and the continued human rights violations that we are kept abreast of via Twitter, because that is now the way the President of the United States communicates with us. First, 45 and his administration came for our Muslim friends and family, then they came for the Latino community, then 45 came after the journalists, and scientists, then he came after the poor and tried to strip away health care for millions, then he came after all of us in the LGBT community. I hardly know how to cope. What’s more, I have daily reminders that my family members who supported and still support 45 are responsible for this destruction.

Apparently, there is and will always be approximately 25% of the population that will always support 45 regardles. This population is implacable and also sadly misinformed and guided by fear, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.  Sadly, 45 and his followers have only proven they are, in fact, deplorable. Of course, this hurts my heart more than I can express. It hurts my heart that the behavior we witness daily could be acceptable to anyone. 45’s appointment of Scaramucci is nothing less than appalling and only helps to normalize a vulgar society. I’m sure Scaramucci is only too happy to be 45’s work wife, or is he the Mini-Me for 45?

As I said, I can’t even recount all of what has happened in just the past week. Do I start with his inappropriate behavior with his speech to the Boy Scouts, whom he apparently thought were his Trumpenjugend? Do I address the transphobia? Do I focus on his encouraging police to increase brutality? How about bullying his loyal attack dog, Jeff Sessions or firing Reince Priebus? Blindsiding military commanders in hateful tweets that led them to believe we might be headed for war? I am having difficulty coping, as I know the rest of the 75% of the nation is right now. It is clear Scaramucci is an echo chamber for 45 and is helping to normalize vulgarity, as though this were some how Presidential? Yes, national television and radio are broadcasting Scaramucci’s speeches: “What I want to do is fucking kill all of the leakers…I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”  This from the new Director of Communications, sanctioned by 45. Wow! I have no words.

What is helping me endure this nightmare is watching television shows like: The Good Fight, Daytime Divas, Ru Paul’s Dragrace, and Samantha Bee. What are you doing to cope? How can we support each other? How can we be loving of ourselves, and of each other? I am going to work hard to invite joy into my life. I hope all of you find ways of creating and sustaining joy. Peace, Michael.

Bigot of the Week Award: May 24, E.W. Jackson

24 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Congratulations Virginia Republicans! Your nominee for Governor, current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is a pretty nasty piece of work in his own right (aggressively anti-choice, virulently homophobic, suing to destroy the Affordable Care Act, trying to gut the EPA’s powers…) Somehow, you managed to find a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who is at least as horrifying.

Minister-turned-politician E.W. Jackson is charm free and worse. After decades as a Democrat, he made headlines a few years ago with a very public refutation of the party and a baffling insistence that the GOP was “better for the black community.” (Bonus facts: he called support of Democrats “slavish devotion” and predicted a black landslide for Romney — what a madcap!) A Baptist bishop and founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, Jackson turned to politics and founded the creepily-named S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True To America’s National Destiny — he and Michele Bachmann must be close friends with the way they re-write history). He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012; last week the state GOP convention gave him the nod for Virginia’s second-in-command.

Jackson has a rabidly homophobic history — that obsession makes you wonder what’s in his closet behind those well-pressed bishop’s robes; could it be Marcus Bachmann? Just a couple of choice quotes:

Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.

Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.

He has also repeatedly compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK. He calls the national Democratic platform “worthy of the Antichrist” and calls Democratic leaders “slave masters” for assuming that African Americans might actually vote in their own best interests. (Another fun fact: Jackson defends the 3/5 black citizenship clause in the original U.S. Constitution as “anti-slavery.” Isn’t he witty?) Sadly, he reminds me of Clarence Thomas.  The lateral oppression be bears down on the black community is nothing less than shameful!  Am I the only one that sees his internalized racism?   Does it feel as though the GOP is tokenizing Jackson?  Just asking.

Virginia is a reddish state, but in statewide elections the Democrats have been trending. (Obama took the commonwealth in 2012.) Let’s hope reason prevails and the Cuccinelli-Jackson 19th Century Hate Parade fails to launch.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to those scamps at the Boy Scouts of America. They surely hoped to get some better press yesterday when they voted not to consider gay scouts completely disgusting. Unfortunately, by saying vaguely that they won’t deny membership “on the basis of sexual orientation alone” they give local troops plenty of leeway to oust gay scouts for any number of imagined transgressions. More significantly, by refusing to even consider allowing LGBT adults to serve in any leadership capacity, the Scouts play into the disgusting gay=pedophile myth. Rather than embrace equality, they cowardly BSA has created a confusing mishmash worthy of DADT, set up gay scouts to fail, and embraced ignorance and prejudice. That’s quite the achievement — is there a badge for that?

Bigot of the Week Award: May 10, Texas Gov. Rick Perry

10 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

As the date draws near for the Boy Scouts of America to take their next vote on just how icky the gays are, the hypothetically Christian far right is mounting its vocal protests of any change in Scout policy. There are plenty of BWA nominees in the making, but my friend Jennifer Carey sent me the clear winner this week.

The Family Research Council hosted its bigotastic “Stand With Scouts Sunday” last weekend. Hosted by the ever nefarious Tony Perkins, it was a festival of hate disguised as religious freedom and family values. One of the virtual guests at the Jamboree of Hate was Texas Governor Rick Perry. Somehow his inability to form a cohesive sentence qualifies him as an FRC guest spokesman.

Perry calls civil rights for gay scouts and leaders the “flavor of the month” and mere “pop culture.” He then manages to toss a bit of Texas Pride into his babblings, invoking the spectre of Sam Houston. He refers to Houston’s opposition to slavery and secession as the kind of principled stand the Scouts would be taking by NOT changing their homophobic practices.

MEMO TO PERRY: Houston’s actions were principled because they represented ADVOCACY of human rights. That’s really not what you’re talking about here…

Dishonorable mention this week goes to wrestler Jay Briscoe. The Ring of Honor Champion displays some real dishonor in his response to the creation of marriage equality in Delaware this week. He tweeted a congratulatory message “if that makes you happy,” then added a truly disturbing follow-up.

… try and teach my kids that there’s nothing wrong with that and I’ll f**king shoot you!

Wow! Briscoe manages to oppose education, trivialize equal rights under the law, and make a strong argument for gun control all in one tweet.

Bigot of the Week Award: April 26, Steve Kush

26 Apr
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

I get many nominations for Bigot of the Week and have grown accustomed to the ugliness that is included in the stories I read. This week’s winner — courtesy of my friend Jennifer Carey — was so odious, however, that I had to stop reading until I could contain my rage.

Steve Kush executive director of the Bernalillo County Republican Party in New Mexico showed his true colors after a public hearing on raising the minimum wage in the county. When a 19-year-old woman representing Working America testified in favor of the higher wage, Kush tweeted

Nice hat Working America chick but damn you are a radical bitch.

Really?! Where do I even start to unpack all the hate, misogyny (a very big word for our Steve), classism, and ageism? Simply stating her concern for those barely earning a living wage at a public hearing makes her a radical? Using the word “chick” (not to mention his other language)?  Are we back in the 1950s?  Clearly, Kush attended the Clarence Thomas School Charm School, or would that be Charm Free School? As of April 26, Kush has offered no apology and remains isolated in his white, heterosexist, male, privilege — further pulling the GOP down into an abysmal time machine of shame.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to the Boy Scouts of America for adding “clueless” to “homophobic” on their list of Demerit Badges.

no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

This plan would retain the ban on gay adults serving in any capacity. That means gay youth are being told they’ll be tolerated as long as it’s just a phase. If they don’t grow out of it, out the door they go. The word “alone” at the end of this tepid mini-reversal is also troubling. It would clearly allow individual troops to punish out scouts for “being disruptive” simply for being who they are. In an attempt to look accepting (are they using the GOP’s rebranding experts?), the BSA has crafted a meaningless compromise that makes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell look like civil rights genius. I do wonder when all of these straight scouts, both adult and youth, made the decision to be straight?

Hero of the Week Award: March 8, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

8 Mar
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week the NCAA provided much-needed leadership in the treatment of LGBT people in college athletic programs. Recognizing the rapid change in LGBT acceptance in all aspects of college life, the NCAA sought to provide a single, comprehensive resource for campuses. The elegantly titled Champions of Respect: Inclusion of LGBTQ Student-Athletes and Staff in NCAA Programs is a welcome guide. It provides Best Practices, Policicies, and Legal Resources along with sample discussions, resources for allies, and more detailed recommendations for all aspects of the recruitment-to-graduation process.

The guide’s introduction sets the stage clearly:

Athletics departments have a responsibility to ensure that all student-athletes have an opportunity to participate in a safe, inclusive and respectful climate where they are valued for their contributions as team members and for their individual commitment and character, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Given the increasing focus on LGBT issues in professional and collegiate athletics, this single resource is very welcome indeed. Thank you, NCAA, for taking this important step. (The guide is available free of charge on the NCAA website.)

It’s been a good week for social justice, giving us two solid honorable mentions. The first goes to some performers who backed out of the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. Citing the Boy Scouts of America’s rabidly homophobic membership policy, pop-rockers Train derailed their participation on Monday. The very next day, singer Carly Rae Jepsen told the Scouts “Call me? No way.”

As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer.

Big thanks to GLAAD and Eagle Scout Derek Nance for bringing the Scouts’ practices to the attention of these performers.

Finally, some good news on a not-so-super situation at DC Comics. For a new digital-to-print series featuring Superman, the publisher contracted with crazed homophobe Orson Scott Card to write the first issue. Many comic shops have refused to order the issue and the push-back against DC has been strong, so far to no avail. Enter artist Chris Sprouse. Slated to pencil the Card story, Sprouse announced this week that he was not willing to be associated with the writer. The timing of his decision has forced DC to back-burner the story and rush out later issues to fill the gap. Hopefully Sprouse’s ethical stand will help the publisher to rethink their whole arrangement with Card.

Hooray for the Boy Scouts? Not so fast…

30 Jan
Too good to be true?

Too good to be true?

Less than six months after the Boy Scouts of America aggressively reiterated their anti-gay membership policy, the organization seems to have had a change of heart, or heart facsimile. In a media statement quietly linked from the homepage of their website, the Scouts present a brief statement about their membership policy. On the surface, it seems like a strong step forward.

Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.

That vague promise — pending a closed-door conversation like the one that reaffirmed the gay ban in July — has the media all a-tremble. Even major LGBT advocacy organizations are treating this statement like a major change in policy.

Sadly, I am skeptical. Beyond the less than emphatic phrase  “discussing potentially,” the whole thing feels like a desperate media grab rather than a sincere change of heart. Let’s look at another important part of the statement.

This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

“The best needs of their families?” Can you smell the hypocrisy? For decades the Scouts have bullied any local chapter that tried to be fully inclusive into toeing the national line. Suddenly, a patchwork of gay-might-be-okay troops that makes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell look like sound policy is perfectly acceptable. Rather than take a clear, inclusive stand, the so-called leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are lapsing into a laissez-faire confusion, or worse yet a “separate but equal policy”. It’s pretty clear that the motivation is greed.

Even before last July’s shocking affirmation of bigotry, the Scouts were bleeding money and support. Many companies were refusing to fund a blatantly bigoted group, and many local governments were voiding contracts with the Scouts as violations of non-discrimination policies. Feeling the financial pinch, the BSA is looking at their policy afresh. Rather than say that discrimination is wrong, however, they are afraid of the many conservative — often church-affiliated — groups that run local chapters. Fearing a reverse backlash, they hope to have their gays and hate them too.

Don’t get me wrong, progress is welcome. But after so many years of telling gay boys and leaders that they are unwelcome and unfit, trying to strike a muddled balance just won’t cut it. Forcing parents, scouts, local supporters, and sponsors to navigate a gay-might-be-okay morass doesn’t fit well with scout law.

A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent.

None of those adjectives reconcile with this clearly self-serving discussion of potentially reversing some policies. As long as there are other options available, parents who truly want their children to learn, share, and grow should continue to steer clear of the Boy Scouts of America.

Hero of the Week Award: January 18, Todd Schweikert and the Brooklyn Scouts

18 Jan
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Brooklyn dad and Eagle Scout Todd Schweikert absolutely believes in the motto “be prepared.” He felt like he gained a lot from his time as a Boy Scout and wanted his seven-year-old son to have the same benefits. What he didn’t want was to provide any support to the Boy Scouts of America, rejecting their homophobia and hyper-religious approach to values. So he did what any resourceful person would do: he created his own troop.

Rather than support an organization that teaches false values and marginalizes people, Schweikert founded the 5th Brooklyn Scouts. This new troop emphasizes engagement with the outdoors, social values, inclusion, responsibility, and service. It is open to any children of the appropriate age (5 to 17), regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Says Schweikert,

Any form of discrimination, no matter how small, is never ok and not something I can endorse and wish to teach to my children.

How wonderful to see someone take something they value and elevate it to its better form rather than trying to live with a truly broken and damaging framework. The troop is associated with the Baden-Powell Service Association — named for scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell — an alternative organization that supports the founding principles of scouting without the narrow BSA structures. Schweikert has over 40 kids already interested in his troop, proving that a good idea will bring its own rewards.

Honorable mention this week goes (believe it or not) to the U.S. Marine Corps. Responding to the many changes needed in the dismantling of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Marines became the first branch of the military to officially recognize the importance supporting military spouses. As a result, the  Marine Corps legal office has mandated that all military spouses clubs admit gay husbands and wives if they want to continue operating on-base. Rightly calling a refusal to recognize a same-sex spouse federally prohibited sexual discrimination, the USMC has set a strong precedent that should serve as a model for all military services for same-sex families.

Number 4 Bigot of the Year 2012: The Catholic Church

28 Dec
Number 4 Bigot of 2012

Number 4 Bigot of 2012

Regular TSM readers know that I have real suspicion of organized religion and its role in privileging dominant forces in the power structure, thus sustaining a white, heteronormative discourse. While some denominations have inched toward inclusion and social justice, the Catholic church leadership of the 21st Century has abandoned its traditions of caring in favor of narrow political dogma and oppression–completely abandoning any dedication to social justice. This year, the hate filled voices of Pope Benedict XVI and his bishops have proved that more loudly than ever.

Not content to stick with centuries old traditions of misogyny and homophobia, the bishops danced a cruel jig across the lines of church and state, issuing proclamations about candidates and electoral issues willy nilly. Some, like Newark Archbishop John Myers, went so far as to suggest that priests refuse communion to parishioners who support marriage equality, reproductive choice, or progressive candidates–my, Who Would Jesus Hate?

The church spent the year emptying its venomous purse as well. The single largest contributor to anti-equality campaigns in the four states that voted on marriage equality this fall was the Catholic Church. It spent over $2 MILLION fighting fairness. When added to money contributed by the Catholic group Knights of Columbus and the National Organization for Marriage, a church ally that uses local congregations to raise funds, Catholic contributions exceeded $6 million. How much poverty could that fight? How many lives could have been saved instead of harmed?

Just to add insult to injury, the Pope used his biggest speech of the year, the Christmas Message, to spew a little more homophobia and transphobia.

There is no denying the crisis that threatens it (the family) to its foundations — especially in the Western world. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child — essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

Again I ask, who would Jesus hate?  I don’t want to dismiss the progressive Catholics that exist, but I feel it necessary to remind everyone that every time you tithe, a portion of that tithe goes to Rome and the Pope.

Sadly, there are a number of homophobia dishonorable mentions this year. High on the list, nearly taking the crown from Benedict’s head, is the Boy Scouts of America, which pretended to consider its anti-gay policies and then doubled down on them. Fake researcher Mark Regnerus and his “gay families are harmful” study funded by NOM and its Catholic allies wraps up this unholy trinity in a foul shroud.

Additional dishonorable mention goes to NOM itself and to the ironically named Family Research Council. Both spent huge amounts of time and energy spewing homophobia and pretending to offer “balanced” views to common sense positions of equality. Happily, they lost just about every issue they supported.  So much fear, misogyny, and homophobia.  I guess it is true, the squeaky wheel (Pope Benny the Rat) wants the grease.

Hero of the Week Award: December 14, the Merck Foundation

14 Dec
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week another organization adds itself resoundingly to the chorus opposing the Boy Scouts of America’s discrimination and bigotry. Thank you to my friend and fighter for social justice, Ani Allison for inspiring me to write this weeks’ HWA. The Merck Company Foundation has a long history of giving and philanthropy. It has also been a major supporter of the Scouts, recognizing “the fine work that the BSA has done in communities throughout the country.”

As they reviewed giving for 2013, however, they realized that core BSA values are inconsistent with Foundation principles. As a result, they are suspending all funding and related activities.

The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions…We cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs.

Emphasizing the importance of this decision, the Foundation made it clear that it is withholding more than dollars:

The decision to suspend support applies to direct funding from the Merck Foundation, the matching of gifts from Merck employees, and paid time off for volunteering.

Officials tied the decision directly to the Scouts’ reiteration of its homophobic antigay stand earlier this year. Other major funders like Intel and United Parcel Service have already withdrawn at least direct financial support.

As a side note, official hate group the Family Research Council have severed their ties with UPS over the BSA decision just as holiday shipping time got underway. As you make your shipping decisions, remember to support equality and thank UPS with your business.

Honorable mention goes to Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Rice has served the country ably and well. She was on President Obama’s short list to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State. Sadly, a group of angry Republican obstructionists led by John McCain (R – Get Off My Lawn) vowed to fight her nomination. Yes, McCain is such a good judge of what is good for the country–Sarah Palin–enough said.  As a result, Rice has put country ahead of self — again — and withdrawn from consideration, writing to the President

If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly—to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. […] That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country.

What a loss for America, once again thanks to the Pseudopatriot Senator. Does McCain have no sense of decency?

REMINDER: Hero of the Year nominations are still coming in. Please submit your suggestions by December 23 so we can celebrate the finest five heroes!

Hero of the Week Award: November 16, United Parcel Service (UPS)

16 Nov

Hero of the Week

It’s a delight to honor another company doing the right thing and standing up for equality. This week United Parcel Service — the carrier known as UPS — ended all corporate funding of the Boy Scouts of America. The reason? The Boy Scouts’ steadfast refusal to stop discriminating against the LGBT community. This announcement appeared on the company’s website on Monday.

The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.

UPS has been one of the top ten donors to the Scouts in the past. This action is in direct response to a campaign by Zach Wahls and GLAAD to put pressure on the Scouts to change their ways. Intel, the largest donor in 2010, agreed earlier this year to withdraw their support.

Both Intel and UPS score well in the updated Corporate Equality Index just released by the Human Rights Campaign. Intel scores a 96 (lacking some peripheral benefits for domestic partners) and UPS a 90 (losing points for a lack of fully transgender inclusive health insurance). The Index this year includes a record 688 companies. An amazing 252 of those score a perfect 100, up significantly from last year’s 189. Businesses are increasingly aware of the need to be responsible stewards and friendly workplaces.

It is nice to see progress being made towards inclusivity and fighting marginalization, unless you are a Boy Scout or Republican.

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