Saturday, July 23, 2011

Boehner - "DOMA Is Law Of The Land, and Should Remain Law"

In a press conference on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) indicated that he would not bring up the Respect For Marriage Act up for a vote in the House of Representatives. After being asked by a reporter from the Washington Blade about whether he would bring the issue before the House for a vote, Boehner replied,
"Congress has acted on this issue some number of years ago, and I think that the Congress acted on [it] in a bi-partisan way. It is the law of the land and should remain the law of the land."
The Respect For Marriage Act would repeal the current federal Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA does not allow the federal government to acknowledge the legal same-sex marriages from the seven jurisdictions that perform them in the United States (Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., and tomorrow, New York) . This lack of recognition has many consequences for same-sex couples including, but not limited too, rights afforded to heterosexual couples in the areas of inheritance, taxes, federal benefits, and immigration.

The Defense Of Marriage Act has been under judicial scrutiny since last year, when Massachusetts Judge Joseph Tauro ruled against the law, saying that it violated the 14th and 10th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. It has since been deemed unconstitutional by the Obama administration, which has refused to defend the law in federal court, as well as several courts around the nation.

The Respect For Marriage Act received its first public hearing on Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Democratic Senators Feinstein (CA), Leahy (VT), and Franken (MN) strongly expressing their distaste for the current law and the necessity of its repeal.

Texas Governor Rick Perry Supports Gay Marriage - In The 10th Amendment Kind Of Way

Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered a speech Friday that is sure to be praised by Tea Party activists while at the same time derided by social conservative groups. Speaking to a group of Republican donors at the Aspen Institute in Colorado, Perry expressed his lack of opposition to the marriage equality bill passed in New York last month.

Though he still styles himself a staunch social conservative, Perry says that he recognizes the role and importance of the 10th Amendment in American politics.
"Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me...If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."
This position sets Governor Perry apart from most of the other Republican candidates, who, during a debate in New Hampshire last month, expressed support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning gay marriage. Most notable (and derided) were the comments of Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN); for though she supports New York’s decision to legalize gay marriage, and would not interfere in the states’ ability to make decisions like these, she would support an amendment which would overturn state marriage laws.

Other Republican candidates have differing views on the issue. Ron Paul (R-TX), though personally believing that marriage is between one-man and one-woman, feels that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson both believe in civil unions, and would not back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  

Perry is already drawing reactions from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party, with Christian  Broadcasting New’s Chief Political Correspondant David Brody, writing on his blog, stating,
I'm sure the majority of conservative evangelicals are big believers in the 10th amendment but the fundamental question seems to be this: When does a federal constitutional amendment trump the 10th amendment? What issue qualifies? Isn't marriage one of those issues? Perry is basically saying anything goes for each state. His take seems to be if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t move to New York. We have amendments to our constitution abolishing slavery, giving women the right to vote, etc. Wouldn't protecting traditional marriage qualify? 
Rick Santorum also took a swipe at the Governor of Texas, tweeting late Friday night,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Iowa Republican Strongly Rebukes Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats

In a sharply worded email, Iowa House Republican Speaker Pro-Tempore Jeff Kaufmann strongly rebuked former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, asserting that he quickly losing political credibility .

Bob Vander Plaats' organization The Family Leader - of which he is the CEO - has come under criticism recently for its "Marriage Vow" pledge; a pledge which not only implied that African-American children were better off being in slavery, but also that homosexuality is a choice and that pornography should be outlawed. Though most of the Republican candidates quickly distanced themselves from the Family Leader and Bob Vander Plaats, presidential contenders Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum quickly signed the pledge, even defending their signatures as the controversy regarding the pledge escalated. 

Kauffman, a former employee and organizer of Vander Plaats' failed gubernatorial campaign, stated in an interview with the Des Moines Register
“I’ve had it with their veiled threats toward people that won’t sign their pledges and do not vote the way they say,” Kaufmann said to The Register. “I think Bob Vander Plaats is more about Bob Vander Plaats than pushing any kind of selfless agenda.”
Kauffman is not the only Iowa Republican that has distanced himself from The Family Leader's pledge.  Republican Governor Terry Branstad, in an interview with Politico last Friday, called it "over the top" and that it contained "too much and too detailed and inappropriate language". 

The full text of Kauffman's email reads, 
 Bob, Danny, and Chuck:
Just when I thought Bob’s fibs on WHO wasn’t enough then your pledge and its ridiculous implications. Guys your integrity is in question and your political credibility is waning to the point of no impact. I suggest you take a page out of your speeches and reflect. I personally will be sharing my opinion with many. As for the House Republican caucus…keep your primary threats to yourself…you have to have respect to carry out a threat in this great state.
Disappointed and sad,
Jeff Kaufmann
Speaker Pro Tem, Iowa House

Joy Behar Interviews "Former" Homosexual

In an astounding interview, Joy Behar asks self described "former homosexual" Steven Bennett, to explain how he came out of the "homosexual lifestyle". Though Bennett recognizes that being gay is "not a choice", he states that he made a "choice to come out of the gay lifestyle" equating it with making a choice to come out of drug and alcohol addiction. 

Stating that his homosexuality was a caused by a lack of a father figure, he also associates his former homosexuality with the negative influences of alcohol, bulimia, and drug addiction. Never-mind that all reputable scientific and medical organizations reject such a claim of "parental influence" over a child's sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, states that such a view is based upon "misinformation and prejudice".

He claims, with his wife sitting next to him, that it should be ok for a homosexual man to try to like women "like 97% of the men in this entire world".  He currently runs a ministry dedicated to providing 'biblical and practical support and resources for men and women looking to overcome their unwanted same-sex attraction." One must only ask why individuals have unwanted "same-sex attraction"; could it be because society and religious organizations vilify and demean LGBT people, causing them to feel unloved and hated? One must also recognize that his "ministry" to those who are struggling with being gay is based upon the premise that being gay is abnormal and sinful, not a healthy biological variant of the human species (the latter a position which all scientific organizations take). As his website, Steven Bennett Ministries, states
According to God’s infallible Word, everyone is created male or female. We are created in His image.  Sexual relations are only to be between one man and one woman – a husband and wife – within the grounds and confines of biblical marriage, for life. Anything outside of this – fornication, adultery, pornography or anything else – is considered impure, immoral and sin according to God’s Word. Biblical abstinence is to be adhered to until a man or woman enter the biblical covenant of marriage with a person of the opposite sex, as husband and wife. Biblical sexual purity is the ministry’s overriding and uncompromising message.
Though his "ministry" itself does not practice reparative therapy (a therapy that attempts to turn gay people straight), his website does give links to reparative therapy organizations like Exodus International and NARTH. 

I am in no position to question his own life journey and the choices that he himself has made regarding  his sexual orientation. But I can say from personal experience that the therapy and the position that he advocates has direct societal and psychological impacts on LGBT people all over the world. Additionally, though "ex-gay's" might feel "vilified" by the LGBT community, it is not based upon any hatred for these individuals, but instead because we recognize the harm that their ideology has on LGBT youth and adults, as well as the cover it gives to religious right organizations who attempt to use the "gays can change" mantra to deny us civil rights. It is for that reason why the "ex-gay" movement is so dangerous and must be called out for what it is - a movement not based upon science, but instead having roots in societal and religious stigma.


Durham N.C. City Council Opposes Proposed Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

On Thursday, the Durham, N.C. City Council passed a resolution stating its opposition to a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The resolution, sponsored by Councilman Mike Woodward, was passed unanimously by the seven member council.

Because of its location in the North Carolina Research Triangle, Durham has been attempting to market itself as a prime location for gay and lesbian couples to live and raise a family. Not only did the city pass a resolution in 2009 expressing its support for marriage equality, but it is also one of three cities in North Carolina - the others being Chapel Hill and Carrboro - which extend domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples. 

Councilman Eugene Brown, in expressing why he voted for the resolution, stated, 
"We have got more important issues to deal with in this state," City Council member Eugene Brown said after the vote. "Secondly I have just enough of a libertarian streak in me to say keep the government out of our bedrooms," unless it relates to practices such as sex with minors
Durham elected officials also expressed fears that if the proposed Constitutional Amendment passes, it could be used to invalidate the cities domestic partnership law, and embroil Durham in an expensive legal battle. The text of the proposed Constitutional Amendment seems to give this fear legitimacy as it states,
"Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State" 
The proposed amendment must pass with three-fifths support in both chambers of the North Carolina Legislature before it can go to the people for a vote. Currently, both chambers are controlled by the Republican party, which has been pushing for the ban as a way to bring voters out to the polls. In March, a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that the majority of North Carolina residents support some form of recognition of same-sex couples, whether it be in the form of marriage rights or civil unions. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Miami-Dade School District Adds Gender Identity Protections

The Miami-Dade school district -the fourth largest in the nation - today joined other districts across the state of Florida in protecting students from bullying based upon gender identity or sexual orientation.

The move by the Miami-Dade school board to add gender identity to its anti-discrimination and harassment policy was greeted with praise by both Equality Florida and the Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition who have been working diligently for years to pass such protections. Equality Florida, in a statement on its website, recognized that their victory was not just based upon lobbying the school board, but also because of grassroots activism. Saying, 
In addition to working closely with the 30+ organizations that make up our Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition, Equality Florida has also been on the ground in Miami-Dade schools, training students to lead Gay Straight Alliances (GSA’s) and training their adult GSA advisors. Currently, nearly 40 Miami-Dade GSAs are part of our Florida GSA Network, one of the fastest growing state networks in the nation.
But Equality Florida, noting that this move only covers 1.55 million of the states schoolchildren (60%), recognizes that more work needs to be done on the issue of LGBT bullying and harassment. Equality Florida Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer reiterated this point when he said, 
 "This is a tipping point for the state but our work continues until every school district large and small provides these vital protections."

Ghanaian Regional Minister Orders Witch Hunt Of Homosexuals

Though LGBT people are already deemed criminals in the West African nation of Ghana, it seems that persecution of gays and lesbians is only slated to get worse. Western Region Minister, Paul Evans Aidoo MP, has reportedly ordered police services in the western portion of the nation to round up all suspected homosexuals. 

According to the Sydney Star Observer
Aidooo has tasked Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations and security forces to round up the country’s gay population and has called on landlords and tenants to inform on people they suspect of being homosexuals.“All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society,” he said.
This move comes only three days after a press conference by the Christian Council Of Ghana regarding homosexuality and homosexual conduct. According to the Council's General Secretary, Reverend Dr. Fred Deegbe, homosexuality is a "an abomination in the eyes of God and also contributes to the growing rate of sexually transmitted diseases" and that Christians should not vote for any political candidate that supports LGBT rights because, "this detestable and abominable act, if passed into law in Ghana, will bring the wrath of God upon the nation and the consequences will be unbearable,”

According to Deegbe
 "We Ghanaians and for that matter Africans cherish our rich and strong values on issues such as homosexuality and we must not allow anyone or group of people to impose what is acceptable in their culture on us in the name of human rights" 
Under current Ghanaian law, homosexual sex is still a punishable offense. The prohibition is contained in Ghana's Criminal Code, Chapter 6- Sexual Offenses Article 105 - which states,
Whoever is guilty of unnatural carnal knowledge— (a) of any person without his consent, is guilty of first degree felony; (b) of any person with his consent, or of any animal, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

And This Is What The Greek REALLY Means

As most readers of mine know, I like to bring a bit of levity to this blog on occasion. Today is one of those days. Thank you to my friend Sten-Erik for allowing me to post this drawing of his...I had a nice chuckle when I saw it.

Anti-Gay Marriage Group Sets Up "Courage Fund"

The anti-marriage equality group, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms, has established what they are calling "The Courage Fund", a fund to support any individual (such as municipal clerks) who have to choose between their job and their "religious beliefs" on marriage. According to their website, 
 The Courage Fund has been established to assist courageous municipal clerks and other people of conscience in New York State who oppose same-sex “marriage” from harassment, denial of rightful promotion, or unfair termination for invoking New York State law protecting their sincerely-held religious beliefs.
Though the application of the New York State law, which supposedly "protects" these individuals religious beliefs, is rather dubious in this particular case and will most likely have to be hammered out by the Courts, that is not really the issue that I find to be of importance. Instead, in his discussion of former Barker Town Clerk Laura Fotusky, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms Executive Director Reverend Jason J. McGuire makes the following point,
“Imagine the power of 25,000 Christians from all across the nation sending one dollar to let Laura know that she is not alone. That would be a message of Christian testimony the culture could not ignore. Now imagine if every Christian from all across America did whatever they could, $10, $100 or $1000 to fight for marriage in the Empire State. We could turn back the tide in New York and send a message that resounds across the nation,”
No Reverend McGuire, do you know what would be a message of Christian testimony and compassion? Instead of giving money to an individual who chose to lose her job, wouldn't it be a better testimony if 25,000 Christians sent one dollar to those who are in actual need? Those children who are homeless and on the streets, the single mother trying to make ends meet, or the young woman who cannot afford a college education? Giving to those in actual need would send the message that Christians care about others, not give to someone is manufactured "need". But instead, those in true need are not worth the time or energy, because it is always easier to collect money for someone who has been "persecuted" against because of their beliefs.

Minnesota Students Sue Over School Districts Neutrality Policy On Sexual Orientation

The Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minneapolis - the largest school district in Minnesota - is being taken to Federal Court by five of its gay and lesbian students over its policy regarding the teaching and discussion of sexual orientation in the classroom. Currently, the districts policy, as revised in 2009, states,
"Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.   Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student led discussions.  If and when staff address sexual orientation, it is important that staff do so in a respectful manner that is age-appropriate, factual, and pertinent to the relevant curriculum." 
The five plaintiffs in the suit - a mixture of current and former students of the District -  filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota with the assistance of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Minneapolis based law firm Faegre & Benson. The suit alleges that the district's current policy on neutrality regarding sexual orientation amounts to nothing less than a "gag rule", and effectively constrains teachers from dealing with the harassment and bullying of the district's LGBT students.  According to Kate Kendall, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the district's policy amounts to an "epidemic" which is "plainly fueled by the district’s shameful and illegal policy singling out LGBT people and LGBT people alone for total exclusion from acknowledgement within the classroom."

The Anoka-Hennepin district continues to assert that it has done nothing wrong, and that its policy regarding teacher neutrality in discussions of sexual orientation does not violate any non-discrimination laws or constrain teachers from dealing with harassment and bullyingSuperintendent Dennis Carlsonas quoted by Minnesota Public Radio, denies any validity of the suits allegations saying that the school district addresses issues of bullying and harassment if such issues come to their attention. He stated,   
"If there's something they know that we don't know, we'd like to know what it is...and as soon as we know it, we'll take appropriate action."
But Sam Wolfe, an attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Center, disagrees. He asserts that the district knows full well the harm that the current neutrality policy has on LGBT students,
"We are disappointed that the district fails to see the serious harm this policy is causing its students...School and district officials who are entrusted with the safety and education of all students continue to ignore, minimize, dismiss, and even blame victims for the abusive behavior of other students."
Recall that over the past two years in the Anoka-Hennepin school district alone, there have been seven student suicides, one of which was the suicide of 15-year old Justin Aaberg. In at least four of those cases, sexual orientation (or perceived sexual orientation) was an issue, with family and friends of two of the four, claiming that the children were the victims of bullying. Additionally, as CNN reported today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights are looking into the district after being informed of its "hostile environment toward gay and lesbian students".

The fight over whether teachers should be neutral in discussions of sexual orientation in the classroom is not a new one, with the original Anoka-Hennepin policy dating all the way back to 1995. As of today, ten states (Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah) have "neutrality" laws similar to the policy of Anoka-Hennepin. The issue has also be garnering national attention with the "Don't Say Gay" bill currently under legislative discussion in Tennessee as well as the FAIR Act, recently signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Focus On The Family Defend Their Misrepresentation Of Study During DOMA Hearing

Citizen Link just posted their "analysis" of the DOMA hearing today. Naturally they are whining about how they feel that Tom Minnery from Focus On The Family was cornered by the Senators while giving his testimony on marriage. But, in regards to the situation with Minnesota Senator Al Franken calling Minnery out for misrepresenting data, Minnery attempts to defend himself. Citizen Link says,
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., focused on Minnery’s written testimony, targeting one of more than 60 academic citations concerning the positive impact when children have a married mother and father in the home.  Franken said he interprets one study’s definition of “nuclear family” as one that would include same-sex married couples with children.
Minnery replied after the hearing, “A careful reading of the study gives no indication that same-sex couples were included; it’s simply silent on the subject.  Based on the actual text of the report, a realistic assessment is that silence means absence.  This study is one small part the mountain of solid data that demonstrates kids do best with a married mother and father.” because the study is silent on the subject that automatically means that same-sex couples were not included? I would think that if the Department of Health and Human services had not had any same-sex couples in the survey, they themselves would have said "husband and wife" in their definition of a nuclear family. But that's just my take on it. And as for Minnery's "mountain of solid data", Alvin McEwen points out that it is far from a mountain, in fact, it actually looks more like a molehill. 

Senator Diaz Releases New Radio Invite For Marriage Equality Protest.

Senator Diaz has released an advertisement - sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage - regarding the upcoming "Let The People Vote" rallies to be held on July 24th. Though it is a radio add, NOM has put together a video montage for it as well.

It says, among other things, that "Governor Cuomo and 33 state Senators made a horribly flawed decision affecting millions of New Yorkers". Senator Diaz, if someones marriage is affected by gay and lesbian couples getting married to begin with - it was probably because a person with a homosexual orientation had been lying to their heterosexual spouse; no other affects comes to my mind. .

He continues to say that "they imposed homosexual marriage without giving the people the opportunity to decide". Oh yes, the elected (by the people at that) state Senate "imposed" something upon the electorate. Isn't that technically their job? Don't they "impose" things all the time by passing laws? But still, I don't see how anyone imposed marriage equality on heterosexuals; what are they going to do, rush to get gay married?

Then, with images of light streaming down from heaven, and an American flag in the background, Diaz invites all people to a rally asking for a referendum on the marriage issue. Nice way of melding God and Government Senator.

Imagine That - Focus On The Family Called Out For Misrepresenting Evidence

In today's U.S. Senate hearing regarding the Respect For Marriage Act (a Senate bill that would repeal the so called "Defense of Marriage Act"), Minnesota Senator Al Franken called out Focus On The Families Tom Minnery - the head of their public policy organization Citizen Link - for his deliberate misrepresentation of social science data. As one who has followed religious right organizations, I am not surprised at their misrepresentation of evidence to fit their preconceived ideology regarding gay families; but I am gleeful that they were called out for it on the national stage. Great job Senator Franken! H/T to ThinkProgress for the video.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Southern Baptists - Homosexual Orientation Itself Is Sinful.

Traditionally, religious leaders have publicly stated that homosexual action is sinful, but have stopped short of saying that an individual with a homosexual orientation is disordered. But in an article that should surprise no one who follows the Southern Baptist denomination, Albert Mohler now claims that though secular "reparative therapy" may not work, the homosexual orientation is in itself sinful, and only through a full submission to Jesus Christ can an individual realign themselves with their normal God-given heterosexual orientation.  He states, 
The New Testament reveals that a homosexual sexual orientation, whatever its shape or causation, is essentially wrong, contrary to the Creator’s purpose, and deeply sinful. Everyone, whatever his or her sexual orientation, is a sinner in need of redemption. Every sinner who comes by faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved knows the need for the redemption of our bodies — including our sexual selves. But those whose sexual orientation is homosexual face the fact that they also need a fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions. About this, the Bible is clear. At this point, once again, the essential contradiction between the Christian worldview and the modern secular worldview is clear. (emphasis added)
      Did you hear that? The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (one of the largest denominations in the U.S.) just stated that according to the Bible,  the very being of a gay or lesbian individual is abnormal and flawed. It is not only the actions that are sinful and wrong, but it is the people themselves who need a "fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions". We have wanted them to come out and say this for some time now. It never has been about the dangers of gay marriage, but instead, it has always been about the illegitimacy of LGBT individuals.  He then continues further into the article,  
In other words, a biblical Christian will have no fundamental confidence in any secular therapy’s ability to change a sinner’s fundamental disposition and heart, and this includes every aspect of the sinner’s life, including sexuality.
       This passage alone shows that Dr. Mohler does not understand what reparative therapy is to begin with. Why was the practice developed? Most, but not all, reparative therapy organizations are inherently religious in nature - it is not a "secular therapy" as he asserts. Many of the organizations (Exodus, Evergreen, Jonah, etc.) that practice the therapy hold to the position that one can only "change" their orientation if the clients sexuality is given fully to a deity - exactly what Mohler is advocating. Such a "submission" ideology has the exact same negative impacts upon LGBT people as reparative therapy does. As I point out in my experience in this therapy, one can only be told that they are abnormal so much till they internalize it and begin to believe it. 

      Though he couches his words in the "love" language of Christianity - full with references to Jesus, sanctification, all of us are sinners, and obedience - his message is not one of hope, love, or freedom. Instead, his words reaffirm to individuals in his denomination and other like minded religious groups, that it is ok to force individuals into therapy for orientation realignment. For Jesus allows all to come to him for salvation; but only if your straight. I would recommend all to read the article in its entirety, for it is quite disturbing. 

GOProud and the "Average Gay Family"

Chris Barron of the gay republican organization GOProud was on CNN this morning with Ali Velshi, defending his organizations attempt to reach out to the Bachmann campaign. The video of the exchange is below - h/t to Towleroad.

     This interview troubles me, for not only do they take the partisan route of asserting that ANY republican is better than Obama, but also because of Barrons lack of knowledge about the inequality that exists in the United States.

      Barron asserts that GOProud would be behind ANY Republican candidate that received the parties nomination, in order to ensure that President Obama would not be re-elected in 2012. Thus, following Barrons words to their logical end, if Michele Bachmann (known for her extreme anti-gay views) received the GOP nomination, GOProud would endorse her for the presidency. Barron attempts to qualify this statement by asserting that there are many issues that have direct impact on LGBT people that "go beyond marriage", all the while inferring that issues like hate crimes legislation, immigration equality, and marriage don't impact the "average gay family" in the United States. Because of the supposed "greater importance" of fiscal issues vs. social issues to gay families, it is completely appropriate, in Barrons mind, for the organization to support individuals like Bachmann, who are strong fiscal conservatives, yet are anti "gay rights".

      It may be true that Barron and his husband talk about taxes rather than hate crimes legislation around the dinner table; and if that is so, he is privileged to do that. He lives in a city - D.C. - which allowed him and his partner to marry, his husband is an American, and he works for an LGBT organization and therefore has no fear of being discriminated against in employment. It would be only natural then, to assert that taxes and other fiscal issues like the FAIR act are more important to an "average gay family".  Yet he does not realize that thousands of families and individuals across the United States are not as lucky as he is. They do not live in states with marriage equality, they are forced to live apart from their spouses  - or in exile - because of the inequality in immigration laws, and they are discriminated against in employment and housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The fact that he does not recognize this, and would assert that it is appropriate for GOProud to support a candidate such as Bachmann - versus them abstaining - shows a great lack of realization of the impact that legal inequality has on the "average" gay couple.

      Barron then asserts that the issue of Marcus Bachmann and his dabbling in "exgay" therapy is a "sideshow" issue. Yes, Mr. Barron - the fact that the Bachmann's believe that you are "sick" and can be healed from your sickness is just a "sideshow" issue. I think that it is far from being irrelevant to this campaign, for it shows the character of Mrs. Bachmann and her feelings regarding the LGBT community. It shows that no matter how hard we as a community attempt to reach out to her, she will always view us as "sick" and thus not deserving of any recognition. If elected, I can assure you that she would use her position to ensure that LGBT people were marginalized and condemned; and that includes ALL LGBT people - even those in republican organizations like GOProud. For a gay person is a gay person, and no matter where they are on the political spectrum, they are still "sick". Such a view, Mr. Barron, has direct impact on this campaign, and your place in American society.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shocking Comments From Townhall Columnist Regarding Transgender Individual

Not in any way surprised by this, as it comes from the less than stellar on LGBT issues, but this was just downright offensive and hateful. In an article entitled "Steers Queers and Social Engineers" columnist Mike Adams writes about University of South Florida student Taylor McCue; a transgender student who was verbally harassed and made fun of. But Mike Adams goes beyond just describing the situation and offering his opinion on it. Instead, he goes off on a transphobic and hate-filled rant about transgender individuals and their supposed "confusion". Saying things like, 
 A transgender student at University of South Florida (USF) has now conclusively shown that once people become sufficiently open-minded their brains are likely to fall out and hit the ground. Frustrated and confused with his sexuality, Taylor McCue wanted to force USF to join colleges like Rutgers and Harvard, which are now offering students the option to live with anyone of any gender. And the USF administration has caved. Sissies!
....Taylor McCue has also complained that he has suffered from both "misogyny and homophobia," which is tough to accept given that Taylor McCue is a male. Having his penis surgically removed will not make him a female any more than having it re-attached to his nose will make him an elephant. But there’s no use telling him that. It might start a stampede – all in the name of tolerance, of course. Taylor McCue further claims that he hadn't begun taking female hormones yet when guys (real guys, not cross-dressers) on the floor of his dorm started asking about his sexuality, cracking jokes, and calling names. 
 Others around the Conservative blogosphere have picked up on this story, and have treated it the same way - with derision and condensation. Our favorite TeaPartyNation blogger - of LGBT bullying fame - Dr. Rich Swier said
It appears that Mr. McCue had great difficulty filling out a USF housing form that asks if he is male or female. Holy Batman - cognitive dissonance is alive in Taylor! This should not have been a problem because he has decided to be a woman. Or has he, or she, or whatever. Now even I am confused.
 Sometimes I feel sorry for such people as Mr. Adams and Dr. Swier, because of their obvious lack of self-worth (their articles are quintessential projection); but more often than not, I feel only pain for our transgender brothers and sisters who must, day in and day out, encounter such ridicule. 

Herman Cain: Jews and Christians Should Not Have Religious Freedom

     Oh that's not what he said? Oh yea, instead he said on Fox News that Muslims should not have freedom of religion because Islam is not protected in the First Amendment. This is because, in his mind, Islam melds together "church and state" with its application of Sharia law, something that our Constitution does not allow. 

     Robert Stacey McCain has an exclusive video of Herman Cain elaborating on his Fox News comments, video which can be found below or at -  Video: Herman Cain Talks Mosques, Sharia, and the Muslim Brotherhood

     These comments by Herman Cain demonstrate not only an ignorance regarding Sharia law and the proper reach and role of the First Amendment, but also sets a very dangerous precedent for those who come from minority religions (like myself). The latter precedent is actually why I titled my post the way that I did, because a restriction upon Judaism and Christianity is completely justified using Cain's logic. Why? Because both of these religions have their own legal and political codes contained in their respective religious practices. Judaism has halacha law and its own rabbinical court system - known as a beth din. Christianity has movements within it, such as the Seven Mountains movement and Christian Dominionism, both of which assert that the United States must be under the rule of Christians who rule using Biblical law rather than the Constitution. Many Christian denominations also have Church Courts which can exercise power regarding religious matters. 

     Why are these examples from Judaism and Christianity relevant? Many will say that most individuals who ascribe to Dominion theology or halacha law do so only to order their personal religious life - not to subvert the U.S. Constitution. Quite true, and this is where Cain's fundamental misunderstanding of Sharia law comes from. Sharia is not a "monolithic" legal system, there are varying interpretations of such law - ranging from moderate personal religious observances (such as fasting, who and who you cannot marry) to the rigid system used by the Taliban (death penalty for homosexuality and adultery). For Cain to assert that "Sharia Law" as a whole is a danger to the American way of life is as ridiculous as attempting to show that the Rabbinical Laws of Judaism are a danger to the United States (Interesting side note, the beth dins of Judaism to enjoy legal standing in U.S. Courts when it comes to religious matters). Sharia law, when used in the ordering of ones personal and religious life, is completely compatible with American values, just like Christian and Rabbinical religious laws. Additionally, it is just as appropriate for the American legal system to give leniency to decisions made in Islamic religious courts (just like they do with Christian and Jewish ones, as long as those practices do not violate established U.S. law.)

     In the end, Sharia law is not the threat to American values or democracy. The real threat is individuals, such as Mr. Cain, who use those who are different - like Muslims - to further their own political agenda. Demonizing an unfamiliar group does not allow for mutual respect or understanding, and only inflames the passions of an emotional populous. We can only look to historical examples - such as the Holocaust and the Japanese Interments of WW2- to understand where such demonizing ends. 

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