Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Religious Right Freaks Out Over Washington Disclosure Case

Religious Right groups, from Protect Marriage Washington to Focus On The Families Citizen Link, are having a conniption fit over the fact that Judge Settle ordered the release of the 137,500 names that Protect Marriage Washington gathered to oppose the expansion of domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples in Washington State.

Citizen Link, in fact, has gone off the deep end; saying that those who value "traditional marriage" do not have the "right to privacy - even in the face of harassment and intimidation of homosexual activists". Additionally, they assert that the homosexual lobby has done "horrible" things to people and businesses that have opposed equality for LGBT people. My favorite of these "horrible"  things was that, "Business owners were affected as well, with boycotts of establishments where owners or employees had donated money to the cause." Additionally, they assert that there are serious chances of death threats and that this ruling has put "traditional marriage" supporters "at risk". 

Now, if anyone actually read the ruling (which I, as a law nerd actually did) you will notice that Judge Settle meticulously went through the claims of harassment and harm that proponents of Referendum 71 put forth. In each and every case, the judge showed that the "threats" and "harassment" that were claimed by supporters of Referendum 71 were either speculative, made up, or not even related to the Ref. 71 campaign. Some cases which might be labeled "harassment", such as verbal debate on the referendum, were in all cases viewed by those who claimed "intimidation" as a non-issue. 

This once again shows the lack of honesty of our opponents. Instead of actually addressing the issues that Judge Settle raised in his decision, organizations like Citizen Link make blatant accusations not rooted in evidence. 

Additionally, it seems as though the Religious Right has raised the bar for something to be considered "harassment". Instead of recognizing, for example, the right of citizens to vote with their dollars and decide which business to support; that has been elevated to "harassment". So now, it must be asked, is me having the freedom to decide who I wish to purchase from harassment? Does Focus On The Family want to have corporations and businesses not be accountable for any of their actions that affect society? How does this jive with Christian boycotts of places like Disney and Home Depot because of their pro-gay policies? Are Christians, through those boycotts, now harassing the LGBT community?

These are questions that need to be answered by the Religious Right. Why does harassment only go one way? Why is it that LGBT people are singled out for "harassing" those on the Religious Right, yet those same people who claim harassment, are the ones who are actually doing the harassing? 

In my opinion, they are the ones who are knowingly telling lies about our community, who are turning their LGBT sons and daughters into the cold because of who they are, and who are ones who are the ones directly causing the suicides of America's youth because of their religious based oppression and bullying. They are the true harassers, they are the ones who have the "majority", and we are the persecuted minority. They are the ones who, instead of recognizing that they are the ones who have caused pain and suffering in our community, have claimed for themselves the mantle of "victim". 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mid-South Pride - An Awesome Day To Be Gay

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the city of Memphis, Tennessee; the sky was blue, the clouds were sparse, and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day for the annual Mid-South Pride parade, where LGBT people from all over West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas, North Mississippi, and Southeast Missouri came to be open and honest with who they are and celebrate their love and families.
For a bit of Pride, Nathan and I helped volunteer at the Tennessee Equality Project booth, our states  LGBT lobbying group. Members of our equality posse dressed up as zombies who were in search of the brains of pro-equality government officials. It was awesome, I can say, dumping fake blood on our pro-equality zombies, and see them staggering down Beale street. 
Though Pride was a great experience, and one which has received mostly positive feedback from the Memphis community, it showed me something which I have always known, yet been very hesitant to voice. In some estimates given, there were thousands of LGBT people and straight allies at this event; yet does this "pride" in our community spill over into the ballot box? We can have floats and paraders galore, but how many of these people who put time and energy into building a float, put the same time and energy in advocating for our legal and social equality? Why does our community come out in droves for events such as Pride, but yet when we have the option to elect pro-equality members of our city government, no one shows up? 

Though there are many dedicated individuals, whether they be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or a straight ally, who are fighting the good fight of equality against the hateful masses in Tennessee; it is an understatement to say that we are not exerting the full pressure that our community could exert. Instead of our whole community standing for our rights, we expect others to do it for us. We go about our day to day lives existing in a society that asserts that we are inferior, yet many of us take that inferiority sitting down. Instead of "occupying" the statehouse, or even the mayors office; we go to work and then we go home. When is our community (ALL of our community, not just the subset that we see now) going to demand our equality? When are we going to become a force to be reckoned with in the South? When will we get as many people in a protest in front of the mayors office, as we do at Pride? I for one, hope that we can take the pride that we had yesterday in this city, and exude it to our government and society. 

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