Archive for the ‘GLBT’ Category

Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional!

February 7, 2012

From Reuters:

The U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco Tuesday upheld a lower court decision, which had declared unconstitutional California’s controversial Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage.

The matter is now expected to travel to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling, made by judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and Randy Smith — appointed by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush respectively — ruled on both the constitutionality of Prop 8 and whether the judge who struck down Prop 8 should have recused because he is gay.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

They heard oral arguments on the constitutionality question more than a year ago, and the recusal matter in December.

California voters agreed to Prop 8 — also known as the California Marriage Protection Act — in November 2008 by a 52 to 47 percent margin (approximately 13 million voters took part). That vote inserted language in the state constitution expressly allowing marriage only between a man and a woman.

Two same-sex couples challenged the vote, and in 2010 retired U.S. Federal Court Judge Vaughn Walker declared the proposition unconstitutional because it denied equal protection under the law. However, Prop 8 supporters argue that because Walker later acknowledged that he is gay, it was improper for him to rule on the matter.

The California Supreme Court upheld the validity of the voter initiative, and a stay has been in place on Prop 8 pending appeals.

On to the US Supreme Court! This could have huge implications for other discriminatory state constitutional amendements that would define marriage as one man to one woman. I’m looking at you, my Minnesota.

Image Source

I Don’t Want To Vote On Marriage Law

January 15, 2012

I have a problem with the majority voting on the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of the minority. It doesn’t matter which groups we are discussing when we say the “majority” and “minority”; what we have are two sets of people – human beings – that are different in some way.

Legislation can be introduced to help define and clarify, to put in black and white, what we hold to be universal human rights, but even without these laws in place, they are called universal human rights because we know that these are so basic, so beyond reproach or question that laws are almost superfluous. Almost. The majority can become blind to the minority. This can lead to a belief that the differences that define the the minority are somehow a threat to that which defines the majority, or that the differences of the minority are undesirable because they’re not shared by most people. And so laws can act as a safeguard for the rights of the minority for cases in which their voices cannot be heard over the crowd.

I think it is horrific that we allow any human being to have their rights curtailed by the whimsy of popular opinion. That is one of the reasons I am angry about this November’s ballot initiative in Minnesota, which leaves it up to us, the voters, to amend the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Other reasons that I’m angry about the proposal include the traditional objections to polluting our constitution with language that would bar citizens from their rights, because I support human happiness and this amendment would hurt gay human beings, and because I detest the political drama and fear-mongering that is caused by this American Idol-esque “let the people have a say” and “down with activist judges” posturing.

So why are we voting on whether Bob and Steve should be allowed to get married? Well, because bigoted, sex-obsessed, fearful, religious zealot nutjobs…oh, we’ll skip that for now. Let’s just go with this:

Some people (see past sentence) want to amend the constitution to “protect” heterosexual marriage from gay people, and they think the best way to do this is to amend the constitution. Per Article IX of the MN Constitution we, the voters, must approve any changes to the constitution. That’s why we’re voting on Bob and Steve’s rights this November.

But why do the bigoted, sex-obsessed, oops some people want to amend the constitution? Why is the law in the Minnesota Statutes not enough? Judges refer to the Constitution to make decisions and rulings. Right now, judges in Minnesota can point to the constitution and say that nowhere in our Constitution does it explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. This amendment would put language in place that would explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. Several states have already used the lack of this language in their constitutions to overturn statutes that ban gay marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in those states. Some people in Minnesota are trying to prevent that from happening in this state.

This is marriage law that we’re discussing, not theology. Churches can be as restrictive as they want about marriage within the confines of their religion, but every resident of Minnesota should have the right to be treated as equal to every other resident of Minnesota under Minnesota law.

So no, I don’t want to vote on the proposed amendment that would make it very difficult for gay residents to marry in Minnesota. And I don’t want you to be able to either.

But if it is there when I step into the voting booth in Novemeber, I will be voting NO, the Minnesota Constitution SHALL NOT be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.

….

And in light all of that, this is a heartening development from Friday:

From The Colu.mn:

Legislators Propose Repeal of Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

DFL legislators in the Minnesota House introduced a bill during the legislative recess on Friday to repeal a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from the 2012 ballot. The bill faces high hurdles as the Republicans still control the House.

Here’s text of the bill:

H.F. No. 1885, as introduced – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012) Posted on Jan 13, 2012

A bill for an act relating to marriage; repealing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution recognizing marriage as only a union between one man and one woman;repealing Laws 2011, chapter 88.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. REPEALER.

Laws 2011, chapter 88, is repealed.

Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.
Section 1 is effective the day following final enactment.

The bill was submitted by Karen Clark of Minneapolis, Leon Lillie of North St. Paul, Kate Knuth of New Brighton, Rena Moran of St. Paul ; Marion Greene of Minneapolis, John Lesch of St. Paul, Mindy Greiling of Roseville, Carolyn Laine of Columbia Heights, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, Alice Hausman of St. Paul, Linda Slocum of Minneapolis, Joe Mullery of Minneapolis, Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis, Dianne Loeffler of Minneapolis, Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, Bill Hilty of Finlayson and Kathy Brynaert of Mankato

Props for the effort, but as the article points out, this is likely not going to get anywhere since the Republicans control the House, and the seated Republicans are fairly united in their support of the amendment:

Those in red boxes are Republican legislators. Source

 

Gay is the new black…or isn’t it?

January 11, 2012

One of my friends posted a YouTube video on his Facebook wall, and I thought it was interesting enough to listen to the entire 11:34 piece (woah, attention span…where did you come from? You usually take off once I sit down at the interwebs).

The author of the video is speaking in response to the rallying cry “Gay is the new black”, and specifically to this article published in the Huffington Post at the end of December.

Image source: Fox News

Monique Ruffin’s Huffpo article is an interesting piece on how the “Black Church” is supporting oppression of gays. She calls out black Christians who would deny civil rights to gay people. She is also wondering how some black people in general would bemoan the phrase “Gay is the new black”, and asks them to see the similarities between the black struggle and the gay struggle, not just the differences between the two.

For me, the sufferings of a person or a group of people at the hands of other humans are frightening and heartbreaking. Instinctually, I feel that if any group can be oppressed, then I can be oppressed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made this very point when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is why I’m always flabbergasted when I see some black Christians fighting against the civil rights of gays. We know firsthand the impact and dehumanization of discrimination.

Melvin too calls for blacks and gays to see the similarities of their struggles, but he lists 5 reasons why gay is not the new black.

1.You can’t compare oppressions. If I understand Melvin’s point, he’s calling out those who oversimplify the fight for civil rights undertaken by blacks and by gays and lumping them together in the phrase “Gay is the new black.” Like Ruffin, he asks us to avoid trying to say that one is more of a struggle than the other, but urges us to recognize that each had and has its unique challenges and battles; they are not the same. I liked this section:

Who the hell cares? Who the hell cares? Inequality and oppression are evil, regardless of the form they take. By comparing your oppression to someone else’s, you’re trivializing that person’s struggle and creating a hierarchy, which prevents you from seeing how the two struggles are related and building alliances.

2. Black is still black. “We can’t just hone in on homophobia and ignore other systems of inequality.” Here he describes how the struggle for black equality is not over, and those who lobby for gay rights under the banner of “black rights were then, gay rights are now” are blind to the the ongoing battles still being waged for black rights.

3.  _____ is the new black. I found this argument to be very similar to number two. Again, Melvin is pointing out that discrimination comes from all corners, and chastises people who are so proud to support gay or black rights and forget the Latina, the person with a disability, the woman, the muslim. The take away from this is we can’t just focus on homophobia and forget the other injustices being fought.

When I hear someone say that gay is the new black, and that gay rights are the new civil rights issue of our time, it makes me think they’re pretty ignorant. It makes me think, you know, that person just doesn’t really give a damn about people of color, women, people with disabilities, transgender people, or any other group facing discrimination these days.

4. Gay is not the new anything. Here Melvin gives props to the gay community. Gay is not new, gay oppression is not new, the gay struggle is not new. Gay people have been fighting their fight for over a century. He’s saying gays don’t need to tie onto the black struggle to get their message across because the gay community has been holding its own.

5. So, transgender is the new gay – not. This is a different presentation of 2 and 3: There are other marginalized groups out there, not just the gay community. He is specifically speaking about the transgender community here. Melvin makes an argument that the GLB community has for the most part largely ignored issues facing transgendered people.

In closing, Melvin tells us that we can’t compare gay oppression and the black oppression, but we can learn from the movements of both groups and the ways they have each organized.

So, is gay the new black?

In Ruffin’s Huffpo article she is using the phrase “Gay is the new black” to hit black Christians who discriminate against gays over the head. She is not breaking down the phrase to ask if it is a perfect metaphor, she is using it to remind black Christians that gays are being discriminated against, as they were once were (not in the same way, but nevertheless, they both have been are being oppressed). Melvin is more concerned with the actual metaphor and is asking us to stop using it.

Every activist group needs a battle cry, but is this the right one for the GLBT community? Does it simplify and trivialize other types of discrimination?

It is a frustrating situation; when it comes to civil rights, why is there any other distinction that “human”?

Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned

December 3, 2011

This is going around teh Facebooks today. Here are seven ridiculous arguments for banning homosexuality (as if that were possible!) and seven snarky tongue-in-cheek responses.

I think this is a good follow-up to the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson explaining to us why people like him are fighting for traditional marriage (hint: it’s not because they’re homophobic or that they just hates homosexuals.)

This is the best response I could find for Buster:

Mr. Wilson, this bull thinks you’re full of bull.

High School GLBT WIN!

January 31, 2011

High school sucks for a LOT of people. The tiniest, silliest differences can be called out and used as an excuse to ostracize kids and egg on bullies. Being gay or transgender is a seen as a pretty big difference and many GLBT students suffer isolation and harrassment in school.

Most of you are aware of the rash of suicides by GLBT youth that occurred across the country last year; Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota suffered THREE suicides by gay students in 2010. And here’s a heaping of extra salt in the wound: An anti-gay group consisting of anonymous members and calling themselves the Parents Action League sprouted up last July to insist that sexual orientation not be taught as part of sexual education in Anoka-Hennepin High Schools. Although their website currently appears tame, claiming only to support a “focus on core academics” and leaving the teaching of sexual orientation to “individual family homes, churches or community organizations”, the Minnesota Independent reported last August that the website promoted distinctly anti-gay messages:

It wants the district to “respect traditional family values” and to “provide valid resources for students (and their families) struggling with sexual identity and/or same-sex attraction.” It seeks to “ensure that all health curriculum teach healthy sexuality and promote abstinence until marriage.” The group also wants the district to “promote the Day of Truth” each year.

The Day of Truth is an event organized by Exodus International, a group that says it can turn gay people straight through Christian prayer.

Blech. So being gay in the Anoka-Hennepin school district probably sucked extra hard last year.

But 2011 is starting out differently, with a big, gay, FABULOUS win!

Champlin Park High School Snow Days is an annual celebration and it has a royal court – 24 students chosen by the student body become the Snow Days court.  This year both women of a lesbian couple were chosen to represent the senior class, and were excited to walk together during the coronation ceremony.  The school administration was less excited for them and enacted a decision to separate the court members so that they would file in individually with an adult chaperone.  Speedy movement by civil and GLBT rights groups and a lawsuit filed on behalf of the couple led to a change of heart by the school, and this year the tradition of students walking in as couples will continue at the Champlin Park Snow Days celebration.

Congratulations to Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom on their victory, and thanks to them for standing up for their rights. Kudos also to the students who were interviewed by the Star Tribune who stood up for their classmates.  Students everywhere, take note – Champlin Park High, you’re doin’ it right.

DADT Repeal Signing Ceremony

December 22, 2010

And just in case you missed the title up there:

DADT REPEAL SIGNING CEREMONY!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd31FVdv93g

I listened to part of President Obama’s speech on NPR today while I was driving back from Qdoba.  You guys, I had tears in my eyes by the time I pulled into the parking lot.  Today an injustice was addressed.  I am so, so overjoyed that the gay men and women in this country who are putting their lives on the line to protect me and you and that jerk dinkus Fred Phelps will get to serve with honor and honesty.  That their partners will be able to be kept up to date on the status of the enlisted person when they are in combat.

Damn.  Tearing up again.

Of course, there is still work to do, and DADT is still in effect until the Defense Department and others have announced that they are able and ready to implement repeal of DADT, and then there is a 60-day waiting period after that

It will be interesting to see how the partners of gay and lesbian military personnel will be recognized.  Will they receive the same sort of benefits as heterosexual couples?  Does repealing DADT offer any sort of protection other than simply allow openly gay servicemembers to serve? 

Next stop:  Overturning the stupid rule that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood.  Oh, you thought I was going to say marriage.  Sillies!  Gay marriage is a political-cultural war.  We can do it, but you know what’s even easier?  Convincing the FDA that scientific evidence  shows that specific, sensitive HIV-tests are currently on the market (p24, NAT, RNA viral load), and that the risk of false-negatives could be very, very low if we chose to use these as standard screening.  And if that don’t stop ‘em, convincing them that healthy gay men who don’t participate in country-hopping, needle-swapping, prostitution should be allowed to give every ounce as much as straight men.  Aaaaand barring that, to apply the same 12-month restriction on donation that straight men who engage in unprotected anal sex with a prostitute are under. 

Ugh!  I just went googled “Why can’t gay men” and this is what autofill popped up.  See?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Let’s GO, FDA!

Humanist reflections

November 16, 2010

These videos have made me feel all sentimental, inspired, and humanist-y.

Resistance to allowing gay service members to serve openly is one of those things that I just cannot wrap my head around.  Jeff Shang’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell exhibit contains photographs of closeted men and women who are serving in the military under DADT.  The photos and the subjects are beautiful, heartbreaking and haunting.

I followed that up with Science Saved My Soul by philhellenes, which I found over at Attempts at Rational Behavior.  The beginning of this video will take your breath away; the images of the night sky and the universe, the well-delivered script describing the beauty, the horror and the immense magnitude of the universe, and the music are all beautiful.

After giving the viewer a few seconds to catch his/her breath, the next ten minutes are devoted to a eloquent argument against organized religion, to being open to finding God without religion.  As philhellenes writes in the description for the video “I’m not against the Creator(s), if they exist, if they ever existed. I’m not against the search for the Creator(s). What blows MY mind is that people think religion has anything to do with it at all.”

Congrats, Dan Choi!

October 20, 2010

Dan Choi is a former infantry officer in the United States Army.  He’s a West Point graduate, he served in combat in Iraq (2006-2007), he’s fluent in Arabic and has a degree in environmental engineering.

Oh yeah, and he’s gay.  He was discharged from the Army in 2009 for violating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

DADT is very, very close to being repealed and we as a nation are very, very, very close to allowing openly gay men and women to enlist and serve in the United States military.

From Adam Levine, CNN
October 19, 2010 4:05 p.m. EDT

Washington (CNN) — The Pentagon has advised recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates, given the recent federal court decision that bars the military from expelling openly gay service members, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The guidance from the Personnel and Readiness office was sent to recruiting commands on Friday, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

The recruiters were told that if a candidate admits he or she is openly gay, and qualify under normal recruiting guidelines, their application can be processed. Recruiters are not allowed to ask candidates if they are gay as part of the application process.

The notice also reminded recruiters that they have to “manage expectations” of applicants by informing them that a reversal of the court decision might occur, whereby the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy could be reinstated, Smith said.

Later Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips in California denied the government’s request for an emergency stay of her order barring the military from enforcing its ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly. The government is now expected to go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Groups representing gays and lesbians have warned against coming out to the military because the policy is still being appealed in courts.

Today, Dan Choi re-enlisted in the Army.

This is a well-editted video of Dan Choi’s experience down at the recruiting office in NY Times Square (it’s only 4:10 vs. the 8:44 that is going around). It’s over at the Maddow Blog – clicking on the image below will take you to the original blog post and video.

Congratulations, Dan Choi!  I’m glad to have you back, and grateful for your activism that has helped bring us to this point.

Is everyone on FB right now, or what?

October 16, 2010

Seriously, stop with all the awesome, I’m trying to work!

I love that the people shown here didn’t get mad and seemed to genuinely think about the question and the implications of the answer.

And this one is just good fun.

You go, Mister President, Sir.  You smoke that cigarette!

 

Flash Mob: Homophobia Kills Die-In

October 11, 2010

Act on Principles is a group promoting “Full LGBT civil rights now. No delay. No excuses.” The group is currently attempting to get the American Equality Bill (AEB) filed in the Senate.  The AEB would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as federally protected statuses. 

Queer SOS is an activist project of the Act on Principles group that is focusing their attention on Senator Gillibrand of New York.  Queer SOS wants Sen. Gillibrand to file the proposed American Equality Bill.  Last Friday Queer SOS hosted “Flash Mob: Homophobia Kills Die-In” in Grand Central Station:

Aside from hosting energizing flash mob art-performances-with-a-message, Queer SOS is demonstrating daily outside of Sen. Gillibrand’s offices.  This is part of the the communication that the AEB Project sent to Sen. Gillibrand on 9/17/10 (bolding is original):

Dear Senator Gillibrand,

I’m writing to request again that you commit to and file a Civil Rights bill for our community immediately.

As you know, it is the prime duty of Government to protect its citizens from discrimination and Congress has failed over 30 million LGBTQ people in this regard.

We can not wait any longer for action to redress this.

To press this issue, activists will be launching a daily, friendly vigil outside your campaign offices starting Sept. 27th until the American Equality Bill (AEB) is filed.   If no bill is filed as of October 11th we plan to go 24/7, and then on Nov. 2nd to begin group fasting. 

This is a very serious matter as people will be risking their health standing outside and fasting for basic human justice.  We should not have to take these steps, but talking about this has failed and there is no other option.

We will broadcast our work daily, seek as much media attention as possible, and try to join you at other public campaign appearances.

Please know that this is not an opposition action in any way and that we are very happy your campaign is doing so well! But we NEED YOUR HELP now! We need this bill to organize around and there is no excuse for not filing it immediately.

rest of letter omitted

I support public demonstrations that do not harm or unduly inconvenience the audience to the point where they are coerced into taking action.  Get out there, make your message known, go first amendment-protected speech! 

But group fasting?

It appears to me that threatening a fast is a coercive action – Hey Senator, I’m going to hurt myself unless you do what I want you to do.  I support the goals of this group and I want to support the group itself, but I have reservations about fasting as a political statement.  I know that hunger strikes aren’t new, but why are they okay?  Why is holding one’s health hostage an acceptable means of political pressure?  Can anyone tell me why hunger strikes are appropriate, or give me arguments about why they are not?


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