Showing posts with label GLBTQ Equality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GLBTQ Equality. Show all posts

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day Of Silence

To mark this Day of Silence,  Cyndi Lauper's anthem True Colors

True Colors

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh, I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
Are beautiful like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy
Can't remember when
I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
Your true colors
Are beautiful like a rainbow

(Can't remember when I last saw you laughing)

If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
True colors are shining through

I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
Are beautiful like a rainbow

Songwriters: Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Time For Marriage Equality

photo courtesy of Becky Kirkland Kremkau

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments today and tomorrow which could have a decisive impact upon federal law regarding marriage equality. I'm traveling this week, so I'll drop off a roundup of good articles on the topic. This post will be updated later today.

History in Real Times, Charles M. Blow, New York Times, March 27, 2013.

Will we move into the future guided by ancient religious texts or current scientific ones? Will we follow the dictates of supposed deities or the prescript of universal dignity?
This is not to begrudge anyone their faith — whatever gets you through the night, brothers and sisters. Rather, it is to say that you should be free to have your faith govern your life but not to extend it to the governance of others’ lives.
I strongly believe in the sovereignty of self — the idea that you are the sole dictate of your own body and your own life as long as no one else is unwittingly or willingly negatively influenced by your choices.

The last, worst argument against gay marriage, Alex Pareene, Salon, March 26, 2013.
In other words, gay marriage is banned because the purpose of marriage, and the reason the state has an interest in involving itself with marriage, is to help ensure that as many children as possible are raised by their biological parents...But if the argument is that we have to go back to the day when marriage was effectively something society forced couples to do in order to make sure their children had stable homes, that argument should be made more plainly. Don’t just protect Traditional Marriage, Supreme Court: Ban divorce!

Gay Marriage Arguments: Cell Phones, The Internet and Fertility After 55, Liz Halloran, NPR It's All Politics, March 26, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard lively arguments Tuesday in a challenge to California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages.
And, as many learned painfully after last year's court decision to uphold Obamacare, it is risky business to predict how justices will rule later based on questions raised in arguments.
So we won't.
Instead, here are five areas of discussion we found interesting, even if they may not prove predictive of the outcome.

Human Rights Campaign Red Marriage Equality Sign Goes Viral, Nolan Kraszkiewicz, policymic, March 26, 2013.

You might have woken up this morning to find your Facebook or Twitter news feed covered in a pink and red equal sign and been curious as to the image's origin. Well, here are the details...

A Decision That Could Change America, Bill Mears and Michael Pearson, CNN, March 26, 2013.
As partisans argued pointedly over same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, justices inside hinted at their disparate views on the hot-button issue -- with some of them questioning whether they should consider the case at all.
What's at stake, potentially, is whether the court extends a sweeping constitutional right for gays and lesbians to wed in all 50 states...

At Supreme Court, Marriage Equality Foes' Best Argument Is That They're Losing, Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, March 26, 2013.
Perhaps mindful of history, the conservative justices mostly argued that marriage was really old and shouldn't be messed with. Same-sex marriage is younger than "cell phones or the Internet," Justice Samuel Alito noted. Chief Justice John Roberts worried about change to an "institution that's been around since time immemorial." Later, Roberts suggested that since children of same-sex couples are doing okay there's no need to recognize their parents' relationships as marriages—an obvious catch-22, since if research showed children in families headed by same-sex partners doing poorly opponents of same-sex marriage would use that research to argue against allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Marriage Equality vs. Supreme Court: Our View, The Editorial Board, USA Today, March 26, 2013.
When the court issues its rulings, likely in June, the best outcome would be a guarantee of equal rights that leaves room for states to decide the means.
If that's not possible, public opinion and civil rights history both suggest the court's choice could be less whether to endorse gay marriage than when and how.

The Weight of History: Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court, John Becker, Huffington Post, March 26, 2013.
No one knows for certain how the arguments today or tomorrow will go, nor do we know how the Supreme Court will rule in June. But we do know that the day will soon come when LGBT individuals, couples, and families are equally protected under the law. We know it won't be long until we are fully and wholly included in the lofty American ideals of liberty and justice for all. And we know that we will win this fight.
The full weight of our history has come to bear today, and I know it will ultimately tip the scales toward justice, toward love.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Marriage Equality and the Supreme Court, Georgia Logothetis, DailyKos, March 26, 2013.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Inspiration - Same Love

On Thursday, a federal appeals court in New York struck down DOMA on Constitutional grounds:

The 2-to-1 ruling, by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, came as the panel struck down the federal law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage. It is the first time that a federal appeals court has applied this level of constitutional protection — known as heightened scrutiny — to those unions. The case is now considered by some legal scholars to be the leading candidate for a Supreme Court review of the same-sex marriage issue. John Schwartz, New York Times, October 18, 2012.

As the paragraph above indicates, the fight may now go to the Supreme Court. People who are fighting for marriage equality know this battle is not over yet, but the enlightened northeast is leading the charge on social justice again. I think this calls for a musical celebration!

I believe I am the last person on the planet to have caught this video but what the hell...

Same Love, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis via Ryan Lewis

Music and Message gets the Nifty Seal of Approval!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ThorsdayTonics - This Remarkable Thing

Yet another achingly beautiful video about the awesome possibilities in the universe by Philhellenes.  A dose of tonic for the human spirit on a Tuesday morning. Soak it in and be recharged!

Because I am still on family vacation, I'm going to link to several excellent blog posts and articles this morning. These writers have said what I have been thinking about this week, but generally much better!

First, it looks like the ironically-named Illinois Family Institute is targeting Hemant Mehta again for some of its weapons grade bigotry and stupidity. IFI's Laurie Higgins seems to have a particular agenda of hatred against Hemant which she made very personal and very political a couple of years ago when she tried to use her influence to get him fired from his job as a high school math teacher because he is an atheist. Now, Higgins and her execrable organization are back to their campaign of hateful bigotry, urging parents to attack school teachers directly if they attempt to make their classrooms safe places for GLBTQ kids, because individual teachers make a much softer target than state and federal laws.

IFI issues ridiculous back-to-school warnings. Friendly Atheist, August 7, 2012

IFI is upset that people are mocking them. Friendly Atheist, August 9, 2012.

Not to be outdone by a mere state "family" association, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer likens children to same-sex couples to slaves who ought to be kidnapped and removed from the protection of their families by "underground railroads" of Christian haters.  Seriously.

Bryan FIscher: Children of Same-Sex Couples Must Be Saved Through "Underground Railroad" Kidnapping Zack Ford, ThinkProgress, August 8, 2012.

This next story opens up the very real possibility that not only has Mitt Romney avoided paying his fair share of taxes for many years, but that he may also have participated in tax avoidance activities on a corporate level that could not only affect his candidacy, but could actually land him in legal hot water:

Did Romney Enable Company's Abusive Tax Shelter? Peter C. Canellos and Edward D. Kleinbard, CNN special report, August 8, 2012.

Follow up on the LCWR Nuns on the Bus post:  We're With You Sisters., August 9,2012.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

If the Right Wing Doesn't Speak For You, Who Does?

The inanity of evil: it's only chicken, right? 

Something I've been hearing a lot during the recent chicken flap has been, "But not all Christians are like that! They don't speak for me!" and that kind of makes me wonder: If the Christian right does not speak for you, who does?

I've noticed that most of the people who spoke up passionately about the recent disturbing mob powerplay tended to be people within the LGBTQ community or non-religious people. The moderate Christians who claim to stand independent of the Christian right were conspicuously silent - as they have been on virtually every important social justice fight for the past 30 years. Among their closest non-religious friends, they will preach to the choir, but neither individuals nor church congregations who claim to have progressive views, seem to speak up strongly when the going is tough for marginalized people.

The chicken flap was a chance for people to stand up for justice, but it seems like the moderates just sat down again.

The modern medium of Facebook was the scene yesterday of the following dance, played out on home page after home page of moderate, progressive Christians. It went something like this:

-Moderate Christian posts a mild statement of disappointment in the chicken chain

-A few fellow moderate Christians "like" the post and perhaps add a word or two of cautious agreement. Perhaps a tepid WWJD reference is made. Several non-religious friends add enthusiastic agreement.

-A more orthodox Christian (who is often in the same church with the OP)  fires a warning shot across the OP's bow - comments something like, "I am so surprised to see you posting such an anti-Christian status."

-The moderate Christian at first tries to defend the status pointing to Jesus as the defense (WWJD?!), but the Orthodox Christian watchdog does not accept it, expresses "disappointment" in the moderate Christian and wonders out loud if the moderate Christian is, indeed, a "real" Christian anymore...?

-An awkward but meaningful moment of silence ensues during which a quiet ultimatum is apparently communicated.

-The moderate Christian backs away from his original status, either completely negating it (often deleting it) or performing verbal gymnastics to make it acceptable to the Orthodox watchdog ie. no longer supportive of anything but the moderate Christian's desire not to be shunned by the church community. It's only chicken, after all...what is the big deal, amirite?

The thing is, it is not just chicken. This company spends millions supporting certified hate groups which actively work to oppress and dehumanize LGBTQ people. They spend millions to lobby legislatures to deny LGBTQ people equal rights. They use their power and financial clout against a marginalized and much weaker minority group. They even use their power and money to support overseas efforts to enact legislation to make being gay a capital crime punishable by death. Chick Fil A's legions of supporters have tried to paint this as a question of innocently differing opinions but there is a world of difference between "not agreeing with gay marriage" and actively funding hate groups which literally harm people.

Christians bring in the big guns and the big money.
That disingenuous framing of the situation was taken to a new low when powerful fundamentalists around the country began the campaign to send a warning to the LGBTQ community and to anyone daring to stand with them. The August 1 spectacle was a chilling orgy of hate:  a deadly serious yet exhilarating chance for Christians to make a special point -  to broadcast their bigotry in a big, well-advertized, well-funded and well-attended almost military operation. The Christians were giddy with excitement and power; thrilled that the public message of intimidation - tyranny of the majority - would be thoroughly understood...

If you say the socially conservative right wing does not speak for you, it means nothing unless you speak up for yourself and stand up for the values you claim to hold.  It means nothing to claim that there are millions of progressive Christians out there who want justice for LGBTQ people, for women or for other marginalized people unless those millions speak up for themselves as an important segment of society and stand up in defense of the values they claim to hold. Where are the strong moderate voices challenging and countering the radical right wing voices?  Where are the prominent progressive church leaders speaking out and challenging the hate and bigotry coming from the right wing leadership? Where are they?

The Christian right is doing real harm, ever day, to millions of people in this country. Christians number hundreds of millions of people, control billions in tax-free wealth, are hugely powerful in media and government - and yet, incredibly, the right wing is spinning this as a case of supporters of LGBTQ people bullying Christian supporters of Chick-Fil-A's anti-LGBTQ agenda because they are urging people to boycott the fast food chain." Moderates - who claim that the right wing is only a radical fringe of their religion - have the numbers, the financial clout and the political power to make a difference in this terribly uneven fight - if they truly want to make a difference.

The question is: do moderate Christians really want to see social justice?  Or does the conservative right wing actually, in fact, speak for you?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - There Is Hope For Christians, After All!

Col. Timothy Wagoner : "He embodies the best of the chaplain corps." 

Slowly, but surely, decent Christians everywhere are beginning to step back and take a good hard look at what has been happening to their religion.  Slowly, but surely, decent people are gathering the strength to brave the inevitable backlash in order to speak out against the evil that is being said and done in the name of their religion.

A long-serving military chaplain, Col. Timothy Wagoner, has parted ways with the Southern Baptist Convention after being publicly admonished over his attendance at the first gay marriage in the military. He will remain as a chaplain in the military, affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which holds more moderate views than the SBC.

“I find very little that is more important and nothing that is more exhilarating than providing for the religious freedoms and spiritual care of all service members and their families — and will joyfully continue to do so,” Wagoner said Friday in an e-mail to The Associated Press. (Military Times story here).

Col. Wagoner joins a whisper-thin but steady drizzle of believers who are trickling out of the fold of the most extreme conservative churches, as they realize that the political agendas of these churches have little to do with the teachings of Jesus and everything to do with political power and social control. They join a steadier, but still thin, stream of moderate Christians from putatively moderate churches whose individual congregations claim to be more tolerant and accepting than the parent denomination, but who nevertheless contribute to the continued rightward lurch of Christianity through financial support of conservative parent hierarchies.

This is the ugly underbelly of religion.
The silent support of the moderate majority has
 allowed it to flourish but finally, good people of faith
are finding the courage within themselves to speak out.
Maybe it is only a trickle now, but I am hopeful that it will soon become a torrent.

More and more religious people are realizing that their beloved faith has been hijacked by the extreme right wing and more and more of them are taking the incredibly courageous step of walking away - not from their belief in God, but from the pernicious influence of the destructive conservative religious juggernaut and its powerful religious institutions.

And it does take courage to walk away from one's church.

The term "social animals"  does not mean that we merely enjoy spending time with kith and kin. Being social animals means that our connection to, and reliance upon, our social groups is vital to our physical and psychological health. People rarely rebel against social norms -  we rarely challenge the will of the dominant social group (often a large powerful religion) - because we know on a deeply visceral level that to do so could have dangerous consequences.

Society threatens apostates with total ostracism. We know what can happen if we criticize our social/religious group. Friends turn away, families are torn apart, careers are destroyed and lives are even threatened or lost in the vicious backlash that an outspoken member of a religious identity group experiences. We all know this is true. The fear of losing everything we know and love - especially our sense of belonging within the security of a large, powerful, familiar group identity - is what keeps people silent. It is what keeps people uneasily trying to perform a balancing act between what we know is morally right and what our churches say we must say and do.

I am inspired this Sunday morning by Col. Timothy Wagoner.  He is both courageous and righteous.  I hope this story goes viral. I hope it will encourage others to follow his example.

From Justin Griffith, via Rock Beyond Belief: Air Force chaplain quits Southern Baptist Convention over gay wedding.

Update: Ed Brayton (Dispatches From the Culture Wars) added to the hopeful news out of the military last night by posting a young soldier's re-enlistment speech.  Honest, unpolished and sincere, a chaplain's assistant named Nick spoke movingly and courageously about bigotry and homophobia both within the military and out in civilian society.  I could not find a YouTube link for the speech, but I hope this speech also goes viral. You'll find it in Ed's blog at this link.
The look of love: Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali wed civilian Will Behrens on June 23, 2012 in New Jersey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

RIP Sally Ride

Sally Ride, the first woman in space and an inspiration to girls everywhere, has died. Dr. Ride passed away earlier today due to complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old.

"... when I wasn't working,
I was usually at a window
looking down at earth."
Sally Ride, first woman in space, dies at 61,  USA Today.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies,  CNN.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, is dead, NPR.

"(In space) The stars don't look bigger, but they do look brighter...The view of earth is spectacular."

Dr. Ride inspired an entire generation of women scientists who watched her break the gender barrier in a new frontier and realised that they, too, could one day see that view of the earth and stars from space. 

Later, Sally broke through another social barrier. She was an out lesbian who shared her life proudly with the woman she loved.

I would like to send my sincere sympathy to Dr. Ride's life partner of 27 years, Dr. Tam E. O'Shaughnessy.

RIP, Dr. Sally Ride, American Hero - May 26, 1951 - July 23, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - The New Normal

via NBC

Oh, this looks so good.  I may have to throw a party for the premiere episode in September!

Quote for the win:

"A family is a family...and love is love."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Next Thing You Know, They'll Want Man-Mouse Marriage!

Fun and Family-Friendly!

Just in case anyone is still clinging to the false notion that aggressive Christianity is a non-issue in countries other than the Jesus-soaked USA, consider a recent situation in Japan.

A lesbian couple approached the Tokyo Disneyland to request permission to hold a ceremony to mark their union as a couple. Japan does not allow same-sex marriage, so it could only be an unofficial "wedding".  Happily, Tokyo Disney agreed to the request. Chalk one up for Tokyo Disney!  However, the couple were barred from exchanging any vows because of "Christian teachings". Wait, what? Christian teachings? Wasn't there a lot of talk recently about how religion for the Japanese, if they had any at all, was some form of vague, spiritual Shintoism? What is that I hear people saying about Japan's enviable secular society? No, it's not. (Cue the "but this is an isolated incident" prevarication).

Warning: Christians, shield your
eyes from this terrifying image!
Anyway, after a brief kerfuffle over "an employee's" dictate that the ceremony must have one participant dressed in groom attire and one dressed in bride attire so as not to "offend" park visitors (an outcry on Twitter and other social media brought about a hasty retraction from Disney, thankfully), the theme park seems to have embraced a position of acceptance, setting the stage for future ceremonies so that same-sex couples can celebrate their union there with family and friends. Considering the cultural pressure against it - not to mention the powerful worldwide Christian lobby - my hat is off to Tokyo Disney for doing the right thing.

In the larger Japanese society, however, same-sex marriage continues to be the same thorny subject that it is in the USA:

"There needs to be more pressure for legal unions between gay people in Japan," said Taiga Ishikawa, one of only a handful of openly gay politicians in the country. "This is only a guess, but I'd say there are more people now who are in long-term relationships and want that to be recognized in the form of a civil partnership."

And of course, there are the usual homophobic and hateful tropes raised by prominent public figures equating marriage between two loving human beings to bestiality, pedophilia and general immorality. In this case, a film celebrity:

Commenting on TV on President Barack Obama's recent declaration of support for gay marriages in the US, the film director and comedian Takeshi Kitano told a fellow guest: "Obama supports gay marriage. You would support marriage between humanoid and animals eventually, then," before questioning the ability of gay couples to raise children.

These vicious and hateful slurs questioning the humanity and morality of GLBT people are one of the most repugnant weapons that Christians use in their bigoted campaign to marginalize and oppress. The "slippery slope" trope is particularly ironic coming from a group constantly balancing on the edge of a slimy slope of their own.  David Barton, Christian apologist and professional liar demonstrates (If you prefer text, read this transcript of a right-wing radio talk show interview with Barton for an even clearer insight into the way these people think, and to understand what they would gladly do once they have the power to do it):

"I don't care what the Supreme Court says". Yes, that's right. He is saying that Christians are above the law.

Christians are adamant in their "righteous" zeal and open about their intention to force everyone in this country to submit to Biblical law and, in due course, to force every country in the world to convert and/or submit to the brand of Christianity that they are aggressively spreading via the modern Christian "missions" movement. Anderson Cooper's interview (CNN) of a defender of the pastor whose horrific anti-gay rant I linked here underlines just where that slimy slope would dump us.

Bible-based law in action.
Christians want the US Constitution subordinated to or replaced by "Yahweh's Law". They are proud about this - don't forget: they truly believe that they are doing what is best for all of us, even if they have to lie, cheat and trick the rest of us to achieve their goal - and they are actively, tirelessly working to bring it about. This Christian version of sharia would reduce women to the status of domestic animals or chattel, would criminalize inborn human sexual orientations and would demand the death penalty for dozens of offenses which our modern morality recognizes are not only not capital offenses but in many cases are not offenses at all. But true Bible-believers honestly believe that is what God wants for us, though we may not understand and resist. Just as they see indoctrinating children with fear of hell before children are old enough to defend themselves against the often permanent psychological impact, they see it as their job to lead those who disagree with them out of "sin" by forcing their religious belief system on them "for their own good".

So, following the logic of Christian antagonists - who hate and revile GLBT people so much they call for their punishment, persecution and even deaths - we should take a closer look at their proposed "improvements" of current laws; laws agreed upon by elected human beings to whom they already believe they are not answerable.  Citizens who value the rule of law which protects our secular society for all citizens need to pay attention to what these Christians say and believe. They believe that their god's law supercedes the rule of civil law - including the Constitution of the United States and the Constitutions of all countries. When pressed on the question of who gets to say what "god's law" actually is, Christians point to the Bible as the final and inerrant authority.

This reality, following the Christians' own logic, begs the question of just where following "Yahweh's Law" will lead us. Conservative Christians have already succeeded in gaining enough power to roll back secular law to deprive women of most of their hard-won reproductive and equal pay rights. Christians have succeeded in denying GLBT people of the right to marry, their right to protection from bullying and a host of other forms of discrimination. Christians have succeeded in circumventing the legal separation of church and state in so many ways that their religion, their calendar and their privileges have become ubiquitous in the culture, and their power continues to grow.

If and when they succeed in changing enough laws that their continued power is assured, what then will stop Christians from imposing every jot and tittle of the Biblical laws upon all people? They already treat women and LGBT people as less than fully human. How soon before they will return us to the Biblical days of stonings for adultery and theft?  Forget "training up a child"; the Bible is clear that a rebellious child must be stoned to death.  What will stop the Christian majority from imposing these and similarly horrific laws on us?

"I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Matthew:5:18 (NIV)

Christians insist that the Bible is literally, unerringly the word of God.  Those of us who have been avoiding the issue - telling ourselves that Christians just mean some of the Bible is to be followed to the letter, or only the New Testament or only the "red text" of Jesus' words - need to start paying closer attention. There is no way around the fact that the entire Bible is sacred truth to Christians and, in the New Testament, Jesus himself affirmed that the Mosaic laws must not be discarded.

Any doubts people might have about the determination of Christians to enshrine Biblical "truth" into this culture while they push out secular knowledge which threatens their religious beliefs - or threatens the justification of Biblical foundations for their ascension to authoritarian power - must be dispelled. This belief in absolute Biblical "truth" is the foundation of their efforts to force educators to teach Biblical creationism as science. This determination is the source of their push to deny global climate change. It is the impetus behind their efforts to undermine scientific research, to defund public education and to gut the public social safety net.

The Christian accusations against GLBT people have no foundation in fact, unlike my concerns about the slippery slope from Christian influence on secular laws to a return to the brutality and conservatism of a Bible-based legal structure.  There is ample evidence which unequivocally proves that the homophobic Christian hypotheses about the people they hate and fear are false, while there is no evidence that Christians would not persecute non-Christians, LGBTs and women should they gain enough power to do so, and plenty of evidence that they have begun to do exactly that. Indeed, we have a long history that shows just how viciously oppressive, immoral and evil unfettered Christian power can be.

Here is the true slippery slope: If Christians manage to impose any more "Bible-based" law onto the citizens of the United States (and in Canada, and in the UK, and in continental Europe, and in Australia, and in ...), it will only be a matter of time before women lose what remaining human rights they have not yet lost to religious conservatism (including the right to vote), children will be abused and even killed if they do not conform to Biblical strictures, and our dreams of a secular, free and open society of peaceful coexistence will be shattered for generations to come.

It has happened before. I hope we are wise enough to recognise that it could happen again, if we do not take steps to defend our freedom from religion.