Saturday, May 21, 2011

Minnesota House Approves Marriage Amendment - Our Community Again To Be Scrutinized

     It is way to late to be posting anything, but I am just finishing up a long night of watching the debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives over the gay marriage amendment. Those who may not know, the Minnesota House passed it 70-62, with all but two DFL members voting against the amendment, and four brave Republicans voting against it as well.

     In the hours that the bill was being debated, I could count on one hand the number of Republicans that spoke. The silence from their side was astounding; you could tell they just wanted to get the vote over and done with quietly. They didn't want to hear the reality that the DFL members were stating; that it was not only about letting other people vote on another persons ability to get civilly married, but that having this discussion in the public sphere will cause the worst to come out of people. We will surly see our friends at the National Organization for Marriage air adds attacking gays and lesbian families and appealing to the base emotions of Minnesota citizens. This will not only cause division in the community - as the DFL members accurately pointed out - but it will also have long term effects on the LGBT community, who will once again be coming under societies scrutiny and be subject to ridicule and hatred.

     I am confident that the people of Minnesota will vote this amendment down, and will make it known that they approve of all types of families; but the harm that will come to our community from this discussion will be hard to overcome. Good luck to all of my fellow fighters in Minnesota, you have your work cut out for you. Stand firm in the truth, and we will defeat this attack on our families.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tennessee Senate Passes Reworked "Don't Say Gay" Bill

     The Tennessee State Senate passed a reworked version of the "Don't Say Gay" bill this morning 20-10. Though it is too late in the legislative season to pass it through the House, it will be introduced in that body in next years legislative season. The Tennessee Equality Project has been doing an excellent job at keeping voters and citizens informed about this bill, the potential effects on students, and what it means for the state, as well as what we can do as individual citizens to lobby for the bills death.

     The bill that passed in the Senate today was a more watered down version of the legislation. Instead of blatantly stating that homosexuality could not be discussed in any way shape or form in grades K-8, the bill now only says that homosexuality cannot be a part of the "official curriculum" of the state. Though this is a tad bit better than the original legislations - as it allows students to ask about sexual orientation and get answers from teachers - in my opinion it still has the same effect.

     As I have said previously in my discussions on this legislation, it is a backhanded approach to placating the social conservative element of the Republican party. It effectively singles out homosexuality as something that absolutely cannot be discussed, thus giving it a sense of "abnormality". Instead of showing that homosexuality is something that exists in almost all animal species and that there are family structures that are equally as valid as the "traditional" one, it idolizes one family structure and orientation over the others; effectively establishing a hierarchical ladder of values. It is interesting to note that the social conservatives have no problem elevating their own values above everyone else's -  what this bill in effect does - but yet when the LGBT community just wants their values placed on an equal playing field as the social cons, the social cons cry indoctrination and a "gay agenda".  I for one will never understand their hypocrisy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Signorile's Analysis of GOProud - Off Base Much?

         Today I came across talk show host Michelangelo Signorile an article about GOProud and their leader Chris Barron in the Advocate. Though I do not necessarily agree with everything that GOProud states or does, I have always felt that the furor that many on the left throw at them has been unfounded. This has once again happened in Signorile's piece; for instead of actually addressing the issues that GOProud stands for and why they stand for them, he instead attacks Chris Barron and extrapolates those personal attacks as an attack on the organization as a whole. Not only is Signorile's piece an overall "ad hominem" logical fallacy, but it does nothing to constructively discuss matters of policy with gays and lesbians who lean to the Right. 

    Though Signorile states many things in the article, a few stand out to me. He first says that GOProud has, "a selfish devotion to Republican “fiscal” policies over civil rights" Though this analysis of GOProud might be accurate, it is not necessarily negative. For to members of GOProud, and many of their supporters, being gay does not define who you are as a person, so therefore LGBT issues are not the main compass for which party you support. You could, for example, be a small business owner and a gay man. Both issues are equally important to you, and therefore you might support the Republicans because you like their position on small business issues. That does not mean that you are "self-loathing" like Signorile states; instead it means that your sexuality is not the lens by which you view your politics, instead your view is based upon a much larger and multi-faceted lens. Some LGBT advocates will view this as denying who you are, and they are free to hold those views, but I personally do not wish to be pigeonholed into a certain ideological view and party because of a physical characteristic that I might have. 

    Then Signorile goes on to state, in so many words, that GOProud does not have an appropriate position on any of the important issues that should matter to LGBT individuals, such as Employment protections, gay marriage, hate crimes laws, etc. But does Signorile give us any of the reasons why GOProud feels these ways? Not at all; instead he states that GOProud takes these positions so that they can pander to the Republican base - a statement that could not be any farther from the truth! If Signorile did any sort of analysis on the positions that GOProud has, he would realize that their positions are actually quite principled, and not for political pandering purposes.  

     Lastly, Signorile goes on to say that GOProud is an organization that provides cover for those who are “anti-gay” in the Republican party, because they can point to these gay republicans and say “see we don’t hate gay people”. Thus, he says, we should all go running to the Democratic party.  Though I see where Signorile is going with this, I don’t buy the logic or the effectiveness of that tactic. Personally, I think that it is better to go into the “lions den” of the Republican party and change it from the inside, a change that we can actually see happening in the party today, instead of fleeing to the supposed safety of the Democratic caucus. That is what real change looks like, the change that actually gets results. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should Subsidies to Canadian Federal Parties Be Cut?

     On of the issues that Harper campaigned on in the last election was the elimination of the $2 subsidy that the Canadian Government gives to registered parties every three months. This subsidy has been on the Conservative chopping block for years, but because of their minority government status, they were not able to cut it. Now, as they have recently gained a majority in the House of Commons, it is against an issue that has resurfaced, with the typical responses of the Liberal and NDP parties to keep the subsidy. Personally, through my research, I feel that the Conservative government is heading in the right direction with the elimination of this subsidy. The subsidy not only has negative effects, but it also weakens the democratic process.

     One criticism that has come from the Liberal, NDP, Bloc, and Green parties, has been that the elimination of the subsidy benefits the Conservative party and harms the other parties, because the Conservative party has a larger fundraising network. Though this might be the case, and Elections Canada data does show that the Conservatives have many more individual contributors, this is not a reason to fight against the elimination of these subsidies. In fact, the exact opposite is true. This shows that the other parties are out of touch with actual Canadians. If Canadians care about the political process or desire that they elect a government that represents their view, they should want to donate to the party themselves; the most energetic and devoted party followers are those who are directly tied to the party itself - mostly through direct financial contributions. Maybe that is one of the reasons why the CPC has a majority government, because they are directly tied financially and ideologically to those who have elected them.

     One of the negative effects of the party subsidy flows out of this concept of weakening the democratic process. When a party does not have an incentive to reach out to the voters themselves and plead with them for donations, they become less likely to care about what their voters care about politically. They can make their platform without reaching out and seeing what their electoral base wants or desires. These party subsidies increase the divide between the party and their followers, by not making the party directly dependent upon the followers themselves.

Domestic Partnership Registry Under Attack - Does the LGBT Community Have Anything To Complain About?

      Today Scott Walker,the governor of Wisconsin, has issued a brief asking to be dropped from the defense of Wisconsin's domestic partnership law because he believes that it is unconstitutional. It is claimed by Walker that the voter approved amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution bans both gay marriage and any relationship recognition similar to that institution. Naturally, the gay community is crying foul at such a flex of executive power, because it eliminates some key benefits offered by the state - such as hospital visitation rights

      But does the LGBT community really have an legitimacy to complain about this situation. Yes, they may have some legitimacy in decrying the fact that Governor Walker does not understand LGBT issues, or that he does not appreciate the trials that the gay community goes through. That being said, it does not have the high ground to complain about Walker using his executive prerogative to not defend a law. You see, the LGBT community cheered as California Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown  did not defend Proposition 8 in Court; they cheered when the Obama administration refused to defend DOMA in federal court.  Governor Walker is doing the exact same thing as the previous two, only in this case the table of who benefits are turned.

     Thats why the discussion of executive prerogative in defending laws has always been a very delicate issue for me. I see both sides, and I find myself agreeing with both sides. The side that claims you don't have to defend laws appropriately points out that these agents of the state are still enforcing the law. The other side makes a great point in stating that if we allow executive agents to selectively defend laws that it personally agrees with, the rule of law itself is threatened.

       What do you all think? Is the Wisconsin case somehow different than the California and DOMA cases? If so, how?

        In a similar vein, its interesting to note that social conservatives  have not freaked out on Governor Walker, since they were the first ones to cry foul when it came to Prop 8 and DOMA. Hypocrisy anyone?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gay Marriage will lead to Death Panels

This was a sign held by some of the people at the Ruben Diaz pro-"traditional marriage" rally today in the Bronx. Personally, I'm not tracking with the signs logic....but is logic really necessary? Same sex marriage = bestiality = abortion and death panels. Oh the Slippery Slope we find ourselves on.

"Christian Victimhood" And The Benefit It Brings

    We are at war!! Well, that is,  if you listen to the New York Family Research Council - an ultra conservative evangelical Christian organization whose mission is  "to motivate the Church to live up to its calling as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16) and be the voice that declares “Thus saith the Lord” concerning the vital moral issues of our day." As OnTopMag reported, this organization has released a minute or so long radio advertisement (below) dedicated to telling people - using the imagery of war - that marriage is under attack and must be defended. 

     This advertisement, my friends, is very underhanded in its approach. For it reinforces, without deliberately saying so, a concept that I like to call "Christian victimhood". With this view, Christians are the ones who are being attacked and who are on the defensive.  They did nothing to deserve this war, and have only been defending the castle of religion against the persistent onslaught of secularism and values that are opposed to Biblical ones.

    The concept of Christian victimhood works well within the confines of the Religious Right and their loyal "sheep-like" followers, but it is increasingly having little impact on the real world. And this is cause for the LGBT community to have hope. It is becoming apparent that it is actually the Religious Right that has declared war upon the LGBT community for all we want is to live in peace and be treated like everyone else, while they are attempting to force us to live a certain way.  Because the rest of the world is waking up to this persecution, we are starting to see more and more organizations and religious bodies - like the PCUSA - are moving towards an acceptance of all human beings. 

    The Religious Right will complain that there is an anti-Christian bias in government and society, like they always do when things don't go their way, but it will start to fall on deaf ears.  As the LGBT movement continues to grow strong, as more people come out of the closet, and as more and more states give equal rights to all of its citizens, the Religious Right will become nothing more than a fringe movement like other social conservative movements before it. And that should give us hope and joy for our future. 

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