Saturday, July 30, 2011

GOProud Banned From Participation in CPAC

The American Conservative Union, the organization that organizes  CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), has informed the gay republican organization GOProud that they will not be invited to participate in the 2012 Conference. GOProud had been a participant in CPAC for the past two years, even being a co-sponsor of the 2011 conference, a move which sparked massive boycotts of the event from social conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation, the American Family Association, and the Family Research Council. 

In a letter addressed to Jimmy LaSalvia, the executive director of GOProud, ACU Director Gregg Keller informed the organization that they would not be invited to participate formally in the conference, but that individuals from the organization could still attend.

GOProud released a statement on Saturday condemning the ACU's decision to effectively bar the gay group from any formal role in CPAC, saying,
“We are deeply disappointed at the decision of the American Conservative Union to bar GOProud from participating in CPAC. They are well within their right to do so, but a decision like this will have consequences.
“For the last two years, GOProud has sought to support CPAC and keep the conservative movement united. Unfortunately, elements inside and outside of ACU have pushed their own narrow, divisive and sometimes personal agenda. They have done so at the expense of the conservative movement."
GOProud has been at the center of controversy over the past few weeks for the organizations defense of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Chris Barron, chairman of GOProud, even went so far as saying in an interview on CNN that the controversy over Bachmann's anti-gay beliefs was a "sideshow" issue, and that the economy and defeating President Obama were more important issues to focus on.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Marriage Equality Poll Shows Stark Divisions

New York's new marriage equality law has had its first "national" test. In a Washington Post - ABC News poll released on Friday, it was found that there exists stark divisions in American feelings regarding New York's recent passage of marriage equality, with 50% of respondents reporting that they believe that the move was a positive development, and 46% responding that they viewed it as a negative development. 

The poll, conducted between July 14-17, asked 1,001 adults the following question,
New York recently passed a law that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry. Do you think this is a positive or negative development? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
Respondents overwhelmingly had strong feelings about the issue, with 32% of respondents strongly saying that New York's passage of marriage equality was a positive development, while 36% strongly saying that it was a negative development. Contrast this with 18% saying that it was a somewhat positive development and 10% saying it was somewhat negative. 

According to the Washington Post, the strong negative feelings towards New York's marriage equality law is heavily influenced by ones religious views. They point out, 
Church attendance is a deep fault line in reactions to the gay marriage law among all Americans, regardless of their particular affiliation. Fully two-thirds of adults who attend worship services at least once a week say the law is a negative development, while 73 percent of those who never attend church react positively to the legislation. Americans who attend church less regularly offer a tepid support; 54 percent react positively, 42 percent negatively.
This should come as no surprise to LGBT individuals, many of us who have grown up in religious households. Though there are some individuals, such as Kathy Baldock, who are attempting to work inside religious organizations to change their views regarding marriage equality and LGBT people; there are still many within religious organizations who cling to and perpetuate hateful stereotypes about gays and lesbians. Though we may soon have legal equality - as this poll is just another confirmation in the growing support for LGBT rights - the final frontier of full equality is in our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques.

Additionally, these trends regarding religious sentiment about marriage equality are very beneficial for the LGBT community to look at; as it allows us to focus our arguments on the specific issues that the public might have on marriage equality. This poll, for example, shows us that we need to make the distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage more clear. Civil marriage includes governmental benefits, such as hospital visitation rights, tax credits, etc. Religious marriage on the other hand, is left to the individual religious organizations to perform. My synagogue, for example, will gladly perform a religious same-sex marriage, yet the Catholic church down the street would not, as they only feel that religious marriage is between a man and a woman. 

This is why polls are beneficial and must be utilized effectively. The LGBT community must not sit back (not saying that we are) and congratulate ourselves on a "job well done" with getting 50% positive support for the marriage equality bill in New York. Instead, we must recognize where the main opponents of marriage equality are, and tailor our arguments to reach their hearts and minds. That is the REAL way that we will win true equality. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New York Joins Massachusetts In Challenging DOMA

After legalizing same-sex marriages last month, New York State now has joined Massachusetts in challenging the federal governments Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). On Tuesday, the Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman, filed a brief in support of Edith Windsor, a woman who was legally married to another woman in Canada. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, upon the death of her spouse Thea Spyer, Mrs. Windsor was required to pay a $363,053 tax bill - a bill that any heterosexual married couple would have been exempted from.

In his legal brief supporting Mrs. Windsor, Schneiderman asserts that the Defense of Marriage Act is unacceptable because,
By refusing to recognize for federal purposes marriages that are valid under state law, DOMA intrudes on matters historically within the control of the States, and undermines and denigrates New York’s law designed to ensure equality of same-sex and different-sex married couples.  Thus DOMA threatens basic principles of federalism.  Moreover, it classifies and determines access to rights, benefits, and protections based on sexual orientation, and also based on sex.   
Schneiderman not only argues that DOMA should fail based upon sexual orientation and gender discrimination, but also because it violates one of the key principles of Federalism contained in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution - that is, that the powers not delegated to the federal government, in this case marriage, should be, and have historically been, left to the individual states. This 10th Amendment rational was also one of the key reasons that Massachusetts judge Joseph Tauro deemed DOMA unconstitutional.

Additionally, Schneiderman asserts in his brief that DOMA does not allow the State of New York to fully realize equality in its marriage laws saying,
Because New York has consistently expressed and implemented its commitment to equal treatment for same-sex couples, New York  has a strong interest in ensuring that the “protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits,”, accorded to them under federal law by virtue of marriage are equal to those accorded to different-sex married couples.  Without such equal treatment by the federal government, New York’s statutory commitment to marriage equality for all married couples will be substantially unrealized.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Chasm Of Inequality Has Been Bridged

At midnight, on the 24th of July, 2011, the chasm of LGBT inequality that made its way between Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada and Niagara Falls, New York was bridged. Rainbows lit up the Falls, welcoming the arrival of equality to the Empire State. And at the stroke of midnight, the first legal same-sex marriage in the state of New York between Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd was performed by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Former Love In Action Director Responds To "The Pain Of Reparative Therapy"

To those who recall, about a month ago, I wrote my story about my experience in the ex-gay reparative therapy program Love In Action. I receive alot of feedback on my story, one of which was from my friend Liz Dyer, who asked if she would be able to post my story on her blog. I gave her permission, and pretty soon, my story had been read by the former director of the Love In Action program John J. Smid. His apology was quite touching.


First of all, I have always felt a love for you and really enjoyed seeing you each time we talked. My compassion for you was genuine and stemmed from a real desire to be supportive of you in your life while you were with Love In Action. I am in a position of evaluating what has happened to many people from my 22 years involved in Exodus and Love In Action. Please allow me to share some of my thoughts.
Kyle, I am very sorry for being part of a system that didn’t validate your experiences with homosexuality. I am sorry for being a part of a system that didn’t understand the difference between addiction and sexual orientation. I am sorry for not knowing what you really needed and for not being part of a system that would validate your true life experiences.
I am sorry for the role I played in causing you to feel ashamed, unimportant, insignificant, and devalued. I am sorry for the ways I was involved in a counseling program that brought you such confusion, especially as a young man who really didn’t know how to differentiate for yourself.
Kyle, being in the position of an authority over a program that utilized tools designed for helping people with addiction to erroneously respond to a homosexual orientation causes me great grief today.
I desire more than anything that you would know you are deeply loved by God and that He sees you, your heart, and your homosexuality and does not condemn you. 
There are many more things I could say but will remain brief. If you are open, I would welcome a personal dialogue.
Will you forgive me, Kyle?
John J. Smid

As Westboro Protests - Same-Sex Couples Are Resilient

About a dozen protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas gathered outside of Manhattan Clerks office this morning to protest the legalization of marriage equality in New York State. Carrying signs ranging from statements such as "F-gs can't get married" to their most well known sign "God hates F-gs", the protesters were only met with joy from the dozens of couples waiting to tie the knot in front of the clerks office. DNAinfo news reporter Nicole Bode interviewed one of the couples in line, 
"We can thank them for attending our wedding," said Kawane Harris, who was standing in line to get married alongside her bride, Jeanette Coleman. 
"Yes, those are the only words I have for them," Coleman added. "Protesters are present at occasions that matter. So the more, the merrier. You can't ruin my day today. What they're doing is not stopping what's happening here."
Westboros' Protests are not the only ones slated for today. The National Organization For Marriage, along with Senator Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), have organized rally's across the state with the theme "Let The People Vote". In an interview with Christian Post, NOM president Brian Brown expects there to be over 5,000 people at the rallies today, 
“It’s hard to tell but the response has been amazing,” said Brown, “I think they’ll be 5,000 or possibly more at all of the rallies.”
Senator Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, in a statement issued on Tuesday, put a religious spin on the protests, 
 “Having had this bad law passed, we should not retreat in fear the way the Apostles did in the days after the crucifixion and before the resurrected Christ came to reveal himself. Instead, we need to maintain the same drive that the Apostles had after the resurrected Lord filled them with the Spirit,” 
Counter protests are being planned by LGBT groups across the state of New York in anticipation of these rallies, with one protest's (Manhattan) facebook page saying, 
The National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT hate group, is organising a rally outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office on Sunday, to protest the first day that same-sex couples can legally marry each other in New York state. We need to present our side of marriage equality to the public and press, who will be there to witness NOM's hate rally. Join us in denouncing NOM.
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