Tag Archives: Lawrence v Texas

Marriage Equality Not the Cure All…

29 Jun

marriage equalityWhile I am absolutely elated and ecstatic about the SCOTUS ruling for both healthcare and marriage equality — for I never thought in my lifetime I would see marriage equality in the United States — I am also reflecting on how complicated the institution of marriage is, with its deep roots of misogyny and racism. I am also grateful that I benefit from marriage and happy that the SCOTUS decision was on the anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, and US v. Windsor.  

There remain many problems around marriage equality. Marriage equality hardly signals the eradication of homophobia, racism, or misogyny. In twenty-nine states, it is still legal to discriminate against the LGBT community in employment, housing, and education. In fact, fourteen of the states that already offered marriage equality simultaneously refuse to provide these basic protections (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming). This is a horrible disconnect. In practice it means that a couple who celebrate a happy, significant occasion are in fact opening themselves up to more discrimination, perhaps even the loss of their homes or livelihoods.

I also want to address why the conversation has to address more than just marriage equality. I hope we will devote our collective energy in eradicating white supremacy, in solidarity around trans rights, in supporting undocumented people, and dismantling poverty.

I am also exceedingly sad about the legacy of hate, bigotry, homophobia, and racism that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia (and Scalia’s minions) are leaving.  Talk about being on the wrong side of history. Scalia is now a parody of himself, with his dissenting commenting, “jiggery pokery.”  Here we have two of the most powerful men in the world, using their power to undermine civil rights. Something to think about as we look at a presidential race in the United States that will be appointing new justices.Demons

While I am happy to celebrate marriage equality, I hope we take a call to action individually and collectively to address all of the intersections of racism, homophobia, misogyny, ableism, and poverty.

National Coming Out Day: Visibility

11 Oct
National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day.  For those of you who had any questions regarding my sexual orientation, allow me to put all questions to rest.  I’m a very proud gay man.  One might ask, so what? Why announce it? Why do I insist on being so visible? Why do we need a National Coming Out Day?

I cannot underscore enough the importance of being out and visible.  The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to marginalize us and treat us as sub-human, or second class citizens, denied over 1,300 rights that our heterosexual brothers and sisters are granted just for being heterosexual.

Currently there are 29 states — over half of the US — where it is still legal to actively discriminate against LGBT folk.  Yes, in 29 states one can be fired for being gay. Not a big surprise that no state in the South has the slightest protection for the LGBT community. (There do exist individual cities that provide limited protection.)  I guess that wacky Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision from 2003 meant nothing.  Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is trying to reinstate the sodomy laws their, so as to protect the United States from gay sex.  Poor Cuccinelli seems to be unaware that sodomy laws have just as big of an impact on heterosexual sex as they do “gay” sex. Again, it seems odd to me  when people  are so focused on gay sex. One might wonder what is hiding in Ken Cuccinelli’s closet. Click here to see if the state you live in can legally fire a human being for being gay.  Obviously, this puts people who are gender non-conforming at higher risk, not to mention the greater risk for LGBT folk of color being targeted.

I hope that today there will be much celebrating as people find the courage to use their voices individually and collectively to be Out and Proud as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender person.  Living one’s life authentically allows for great freedom and of course supports the (tongue in cheek) Big Gay Agenda.

LGBT History Month: Why We Need to Celebrate

3 Jun

Happy_Gay_Pride_MonthJune is recognized as LGBT History Month, a time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community to come together and celebrate who we are and stand in solidarity with each other.  We celebrate in June because it was June of 1969 that jump-started the Gay Liberation Movement in our country’s history with the Stonewall Riots.

In 1969 it was illegal in the United States to be gay and we were targeted by police for raids and put in jail.  Sadly, the LGBT community is still policed disproportionately and there are still 14 states where it is still illegal to be gay, most of those states are in the South, despite Lawrence v. Texas. Yes, most states in the South have zero protections for LGBT folk, so one can be denied employment, denied housing, and denied healthcare just for their sexual orientation.

As much as we think It Gets Better, we still have a long way to go.  One wonders why we don’t have a better campaign that says; Make It Get Better, and put the onus on the dominant culture.  We know from the 2010 National Health Report that harassment and violence against the LGBT community have increased by 20% and the increase of violence is even greater for LGBT folks of color.

Sadly, this trend is international and shows no sign of abating. Look at the spike in protesting and violence in France that started as marriage equality began to work its way through the legislative process. Look at the violence in Russia and the Ukraine and the official indifference — or outright support — it receives. Nigeria just passed “All Gays to Be Jailed” law. Closer to home, look at the TEN anti-gay hate crimes in New York City in just the past month: bashings, beatings, assaults, and at least one murder. The closer we get to equal, the angrier — and more aggressive — our foes become.

Granted, our heterosexual brothers and sisters do have to live in fear of the Gay Agenda, but when are we going to have actual movement towards civil rights?  Will the Supreme Court do the right thing and send the message by overturning DOMA that we must treat all of our citizens equally and equitably? Will the Boy Scouts’ lame half-measure finally break them as the California legislature plans to strip them of any non-profit privileges for their incessant discrimination?

LGBT History Month provides a time and place for the community to celebrate and come together in “numbers too big to be ignored” (you I love me some Helen Reddy).  I ask all of our heterosexual brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity and support all LGBT folk in the many colors and lives we represent.

The Death of John Lawrence: The Policing of LGBT People

27 Dec

Thank you, John Lawrence

Thank you to my friend Jennifer Lockett for inspiring me to write this article. Just a week ago, John Lawrence passed away at the young age of 68.  Lawrence became famous for standing up to the criminal system in Texas in Lawrence v. Texas, the now famous court case that ended sodomy laws in the United States.

Of course, sodomy laws have been used to police and discriminate against gay men since the 16th century here in the United States, thus marginalizing a certain population and publicly vilifying gay men. More pathetically, these sodomy laws were used to support and reinforce the existing horrifically inequitable race, class, and gender power structures.  Yes, sodomy laws were enforced to ensure the stability of a white heterosexual power system.

The victory that was Lawrence v. Texas for the LGBT community was monumental, but we must not delude ourselves into thinking that striking down sodomy laws was going to end homophobia or institutionalized and systematic and systemic discrimination against LGBT people–lest we forget the intersections of oppression and how violence and discrimination are disproportionately applied to LGBT people of color–all to support a milleniums-old white heterosexual male power structure, or white I like to call WHMP.  Before many of you get offended by the word “wimp,” I would point out that I am reclaiming it for the Queer community and using it as a pejorative for white heterosexual males who abuse their power to sustain their own.  We have to look no further than the current pledge by the Republican presidential candidates to see the limited impact of Lawrence v. Texas.

By no means do I want to minimize John Lawrence or the courage he displayed in taking injustice to the US Supreme Court.  Lawrence’s courage did manage to stop making it a crime for gay men to have consensual sex at home.  Just a very important side note here: sodomy is not gay sex!  While sodomy has been used for centuries to depict and vilify gays, the actual sex act of anal sex is just as prevalent among heterosexuals.  In fact, there was an exponential rise in heterosexual sodomy during the Bush (W) administration; the rationale was that anal sex still allowed young women to retain their virginity for the Lord.

As humans we owe a great debt of gratitude to John Lawrence and his legacy for civil rights for the LGBT community.  Even the very homophobic and misogynistic Justice Scalia admitted in his dissent of Lawrence v. Texas (yes, Scalia would like to retain the sodomy laws–big surprise): “The logic of the Lawrence decision supported a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

TSM will be publishing many more stories on the intersections of oppression and the policing of gay sex, as it is used to embolden and secure white heterosexual male dominance.

Policing Gays

Click here to see the full NYT article on John Lawrence.

Good Morning President Perry (A Not So Fairy Tale)

25 Sep

Pacifica: The Lavender Scare

This short story (fiction) I have started is my creative attempt at participating in Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. It is still a work in progress. I hope to have a new installment weekly. Please do let me know what you think. Copyright 2011, Michael Hulshof-Schmidt.  Feel free to share with attribution.

The morning after the 2012 Presidential Inauguration in the Oval Office

 President Rick Perry: Well, we did it, Michele. We showed them sons of bitches the law of the land and the path to righteousness.

Michele Bachmann: Mr. President, what are we going to do about the gay issue? We have to keep to our campaign promises.

Perry: You are the god damn Vice-President, Michele. What the hell do you want to do?

Chief of Staff: Um, Mr. President, I would suggest to both you and Madame Vice-President that you immediately re-instate Executive Order 10450 as well as find a way to overturn Lawrence v. Texas.  

Perry: By God, Rove, you are brilliant! This is why I have you as my Chief of Staff. But don’t think I don’t know all the god damn bullshit you said about me before the election. Let’s face it, Rove, we are both doing God’s work.

Karl Rove: Yes, well, at any rate Mr. President I would call Justice Scalia and see what he can do to help overturn Lawrence v. Texas.  

 Some days later at an undiclosed location

 Justice Scalia: Paul, Tony here.  I know you are starting your own firm since leaving King and Spalding.  How would like to land some government contracts?

Paul Clement: What do you have in mind?  Boehner still owes me $350,000 for billable hours just defending DOMA.

Scalia: I need you to figure out a way for us to overturn Lawrence v. Texas.  Dig up a case, or do what you need to do to bring this to the Supreme Court.

Clement: It will be tricky, but I think I can do it. After all, these evil decisions that voided all the sodomy laws have violated the religious freedoms of the Christian community. I think I have a very dear friend in Colorado who could get legal standing to petition a case.

Scalia (rubbing his paws together): Excellent…

The wheels of injustice turn quickly when greased with corruption and shared bigotry.

October 11, 2012: The New York Times runs the headline Supreme Court Overturns Lawrence v. Texas: 5 to 4.  Photos show an exultant Justice Scalia brandishing his majority opinion standing next to a frail James Dobson, weeping with joy.

October 31, 2012: White House Press Secretary Rick Santorum, frothing at the mouth, holds a press conference announcing the redrafting of Executive Order 10450.

Michael on the phone with his brother Brad: Did you see the NYT article about Lawrence v. Texas?  Is the American public really so stupid that they don’t know heterosexuals violate the sodomy laws all the time?  Brad, you need to get out of Georgia. Do you want to stay with us?

Brad: Michael it is happening all over the country.  Why would I be any safer in Oregon?

Michael: Brad its not just Lawrence v. Texas, Perry is reinstating 10450 and there is talk about having all Americans sign something called a LoyalTea Pledge to prove their patriotism.

Michael to his husband:  Brad just told me he was fired from his job with the state of Georgia for “unpatriotic behavior” under 10450.  He is refusing to sign the LoyalTea Pledge.  Shawn said he and Todd are moving back to California, but who knows how quickly all of the states will start to enforce 10450 and require us to sign the LoyalTea Pledge.

By November 15, all of the Southern States, Ohio, Missouri, South Dakota, and Kansas had agreed to enforce the LoyalTea contract. In a very back door way, LePage got Maine to also enforce the LoyalTea contract.  The Great Exodus of the LGBT community had now officially started.  What happens now to the over 35 million LGBT people? November 15, also marked the day when the states that quickly adopted the LoyalTea contract for America managed to overturn Roe v. Wade without exception. The country is experiencing a 21st century Manifest Destiny.  Rumors are flying that Governors Brown, Kitzhaber, and Gregoire are meeting to talk about secession and forming a new country called Pacifica.

Happy Birthday, Harvey Milk

22 May

As an openly gay man, I have a debt of gratitude to those LGBT people who lived their lives honestly and openly during times when people could serve prison time for being gay.  Up until 2003 (Lawrence v Texas), it was still legal for gays to be imprisoned in many states.  In fact, because of the virulent anti-gay laws passed in 2004 in Georgia, my husband and I decided to move to Oregon, where we have much greater legal protection. Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected and serve in public office.

Milk was not in office for a full year before he was assassinated in 1978, but he did manage to pass a gay rights ordinance for the city of San Francisco and increased visibility for all LGBT people.  My hope is that with the way in which I live my life and through this blog, I might make it easier for generations of LGBT youth that follow me.  We plant trees from which we will not enjoy their shade.  Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects … I hope that every professional gay will say ‘enough’, come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help.

Harvey Milk

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