Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Religious Violence of "Defending Marriage"

A friend who is a retired professor formerly at a large ELCA seminary and who is very supportive of gay equality recently forwarded me a column written by Dr. Jon Pahl, Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. The column was published in Sightings, an electronic journal of the University of Chicago Divinity School. Interestingly, Pahl calls anti-gay marriage laws a form of religious violence. I agree with his verdict completely and I have often advocated to members of my own ELCA parish that anything less of full acceptance of LGBT individuals works spiritual violence against those who are born LGBT through no choice of their own. Would that more Christians would adopt Pahl's perspective. Sadly, many never will because their own severely screwed up psychological issues pertaining to their own sexuality and others because they see anti-gay jihad as a lucrative money maker. Here are some highlights from Pahl's column:
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A recent article in The Atlantic and recently released Lutheran documents give good reasons to revisit the status of gays and lesbians across American society. Unfortunately, few commentators to date have addressed the most troubling development of the past few years: the growth of DOMA Laws, or "Defense of Marriage Acts." These laws are forms of religious violence.
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The rationales for such defensive laws are often couched in neutral, "secular", or "naturalist" language. But the move to establish such laws came from religious groups, notably conservative Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons. And the logic and appeal of these laws also originates in religion, and functions as a form of violence. Six theses can clarify the contours of the religious violence embedded in these laws.
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1) DOMA Laws violate sacred texts. Many of the arguments against gay and lesbian civil unions or marriage appeal to biblical texts from Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, or I Corinthians. But such arguments impose upon the texts a twentieth century understanding of sexual identity alien to the Jewish or Hellenistic cultures in which these texts arose.
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2) DOMA Laws elevate heterosexual marriage to idolatrous status. In some communities of faith, defending "marriage" has become all but an item of confessional status (it is absent from any historic Christian Confessions). This arrogates to a majority – heterosexuals – special privileges (economic, social, and spiritual) not available to sexual minorities.
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3) DOMA Laws scapegoat gays and lesbians. As Rene Girard argues, scapegoating is a chief manifestation of religious violence. It is difficult to see what real threat is posed to heterosexual intimacy, much less to civil society, by the desire of homosexuals for similar rights. It is easy to see how DOMA laws organize consent over and against a relatively voiceless and powerless group.
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4) DOMA Laws sacrifice homosexual rights, and damage civil society, in the interest of religious purity. One measure of the justice in any society is how well it cares for vulnerable members. Sexual difference marks individuals as both vulnerable and "dangerous." And as Mary Douglass showed, any "danger" against which a law must defend is invariably constructed around some purity interest. DOMA Laws require gays and lesbians to sacrifice rights others take for granted, and render them subject to legalized forms of exclusion and discrimination. They damage the deep trust that is the most important social practice in civil society.
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5) DOMA Laws confuse legislation with religion, and violate the First Amendment, as Ann Pellegrini and Janet Jakobsen have argued. It is entirely permissible (although ethically subject to scrutiny) for private communities to shape the boundaries of association in whatever ways members agree upon. It is a violation of the First Amendment's protection of free association to inhibit by law some forms of association that pose no harm to the common good, and a violation of the freedom from an established religion when religiously-inspired exclusions are written into law.
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6) DOMA Laws perpetuate an association of sex with power, and thereby do damage to any sacramental sensibility that might remain in association with even heterosexual marriage. As Hendrik Hartog and other historians have shown, marriages have shifted in the modern era from patriarchal patterns of coverture to social contracts in which couples seek mutual fulfillment. Such contracts might be compatible with a sacramental sensibility, since they entail pledges of sexual fidelity and commitments to share social resources and responsibilities, along with (one might argue) other gifts of God. DOMA Laws associate sexual fidelity with legislated forms of coercive power, and inhibit the deep trust and mutuality intrinsic to modern (and sacramental) marriage. They establish hierarchies of relationships, and associate heterosexual unions (and sexual practices) with dominance.
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Such laws point, unfortunately, to a deep tendency of religions to consolidate power through exclusion, as Miroslav Volf has so cogently shown; these laws have no rationale for their existence apart from that exclusion. People who wish to "defend" corrosive influences on marriage – and I count myself as one – might actually find allies among gays and lesbians who desire public recognition for their pledges of fidelity and their commitments to share resources and responsibilities with one another. A true defense of marriage would not involve mean-spirited exclusions, but would embrace practical policies that strengthen deep trust and support families facing economic challenges.

More Saturday Male Beauty

“As the World Turns” Showcases Anti-Gay Discrimination

“As the World Turns” on CBS continues to keep LGBT issues in front of daytime television viewers through the story line of Luke and Noah, the young gay couple on the show. This time the show hit an issue that is all to real in many areas of the country - the lack of anti-discrimination laws in the area of housing. In states like Virginia, it is fully legal to refuse to rent to LGBT citizens. One can only hope that as time goes by more of the public will wake up to the fact that anti-gay discrimination in housing, employment and other areas is wide spread and legal in far more places that I suspect most people realize. Anti-discrimination laws are very greatly needed.

video

Here's what Greg In Hollywood had to say about the episode:

Things can move fast - or very slowly - on As the World Turns in the lives of our favorite young gay couple Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann). They’re together, they’re apart, they’re kissing then they’re not then they are again. They’re not sleeping together more than a year into the relationship then suddenly do. Now, Luke is sobered up, Noah doesn’t want to join the Army or marry an Iraqi woman so they decide to move in together!

Noah finds the perfect place and all seems well until a homophobic landlord lies and tells them it is rented! Noah wants to just move on to another place but not feisty Luke: “We can’t let this landlord get away with breaking the law!” Luke’s mom Lily comes up with the idea of staging a protest and making it a part of Luke’s foundation which has been lacking a focus.

I must say, it is so refreshing to see ATWT writers give the boys this kind of storyline - reflecting real life - instead of cooking up some stupid murder plot we don’t care about.

Mormongate.com - Mormon Church Political Subtrafuse

Californians Against Hate have set up a new blog, Mormongate.com, which is focusing on the activities of the Mormon Church to (1) establish National Organization for Marriage as a largely Mormon front organization, and (2) hide the true magnitude of the Mormon Church's efforts to get Proposition 8 on the ballot and the true amount of the Mormon Church's political spending. I truly hope that more investigation into these activities will take place and that there will be renewed calls to have the IRS investigate revoking tax-exempt status for the Mormon Church. The facts reveal that the Mormon Church leadership has nothing but contempt for the religious freedoms of others and that the insidious under the radar efforts extend even to states where there are few Mormons. Here are some highlights:
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) has been leading the national crusade against same-sex marriage since President Gordon B. Hinckley issued such a proclamation in 1988. The Church showed just how effective it could be beginning in Hawaii in the mid-nineties all the way through to California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. They were involved to some degree with all 30 state elections outlawing same-sex marriage.
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The purpose of Mormongate.com is to tell the real truth about the Mormon Church’s massive involvement and cover-up of this issue. Nearly all of their activities are intended to be highly secretive. This strategy has served them well over the past 20 years; however, we have recently received documentation of just how they operate.
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The Mormon Church appears to have created the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in the summer of 2007 to qualify California’s Proposition 8 for the November 2008 ballot. They set it up as a Mormon front group, exactly as they did with a very similar organization called Hawaii’s Future Today (HFT) in that state in 1995. HFT was established to pass a constitutional amendment in Hawaii to ban same-sex marriage. Sound familiar? They have now expanded NOM into seven more states, specifically to fight same-sex marriage in those states.
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If the Mormon Church wants to operate a political operation they should have to do so without the benefit of tax-exempt status. Write your representatives in Congress and demand that they work to have the IRS investigate the Mormon Church.

Empty Gestures Are Not Enough

I've been pretty hard on President Obama's gestures legitimizing borderline Christian hate groups like Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America by inviting them to the White House and having anti-gay blowhards like Rick Warren (at left) give inaugural invocations. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has done NOTHING substantive for the millions of LGBT Americans who supported his candidacy. While I applaud Obama decision to sign the U. N. non-binding resolution for the decriminalizing homosexuality - at least it's nice to see the USA separating itself from Islamic extremists nations - the resolution does NOTHING substantive for LGBT Americans. If anything, the resolution only goes to show the hypocrisy of the Obama administration because the resolution condemns the legal discrimination against gays, yet DOMA, DADT and the legality of anti-gay discrimination in so much of the USA goes unchanged. In effect, by signing on to the U.N. resolution, the Obama administration is condemning anti-gay discrimination overseas while allowing it to continue at home. Via Gay Agenda, I found an opinion piece by Steve Tabarez at Keeping It Real, a new blog, that shows the hollowness of Obama's action and how easily satisfied so many gay rights organizations are with gestures that do nothing to improve the lives of LGBT Americans. Here are some highlights from Steve's column:
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The HRC exclaimed:" good news from new leadership in the Obama Administration and the State Department... the U.S. will sign the U.N. General Assembly declaration supporting LGBT rights! New leadership at State clearly understands the importance of these issues. . . . And I think: Are we so accustomed to empty gestures?
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Have we set our expectations so low that we embrace such acts as progress from our "closeted", "down low" supposed supporter, President Barack Obama? Never mind the resolution is nothing else than that. It has no binding ramifications. Nor, did I hear from the Obama administration that the resolution would be a centerpiece, demonstrated policy of the State Department, that will dictate and drive who, and which countries would get most favorable status based on this UN Resolution.
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And, more, my LGBTI commnunity members, the whole hypocritical stance of this signing, is glaring: our principled-pragmatist-in-chief, has remained the gutless wonder in regard to pursuing anything remotely close to his supposed support of our rights! In these waning, "FIRST 100 DAYS", no movement has been made on ENDA, DOMA, DADT, HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION, GAY TAX POLICY, ADOPTION RIGHTS...the list goes on. . . . . He has remained silent about anything remotely connected to LGBTQI RIGHTS.
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For the LGBTQI communities to glorify such a hollow, pandering, platitude, as the signing of the UN RESOLUTION, just shows how "easy" we are. The problem is not Obama, here, he is known for backpedalling on our issues if it means losing the white, middle-class conservative voters, the problem is with US! We should EXPECT more. DEMAND more, and begin setting timetables for action on our issues.
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The time has come to hold OBAMA accountable to his word. To label him a hypocrite, or a liar if necessary, to villify him, and call him a traitor if necessary, and withhold money, and votes, and protest on Washington DC, and threaten to withhold votes on every democratic candidate that runs for anything.
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It is time we made him stop hiding. It is time to call him out, and bring him out of the LGBTQI RIGHTS CLOSET!!!!!
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In my view, Steve is totally correct. We are American citizens and we deserve - no, we DEMAND equal rights NOW. If we allow ourselves to sit waiting for equality to be given to us, it will never happen. LGBT Americans need to make it totally clear to Obama that our patience is just about out. Do something REAL or our votes and money will sit out elections. In close elections, LGBT voters can literally decide who wins and who loses. Obama and the Congressional Democrats need to be given a loud wake up call.

Limbaugh the Hut Addresses CPAC

John Aravosis had this over at AmericaBlog and it was just too good to pass up. Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday Male Beauty

Many in Africa Reject Pope's Anti-Condom Message

Many have slammed the Nazi Pope Benedict XVI for his delusional statements that condoms increase HIV/AIDS infections and his condemnation of condom distributions in Africa. Fortunately, many within the Catholic Church even in Africa seems to recognize that Benedict XVI is an ignorant, senile old man who is a sick representation of the larger problem of a corrupt and delusional Church hierarchy. Some are even speaking out publicly. As I have said before, I believe what Benedict really wants is rapid growth of Church membership in Africa to help hide the fact that the Church and Vatican authority are in severe decline in educated parts of the world. Thus, the more unwanted pregnancies among African Catholics, the more it helps bolster membership numbers. Sadly, Africa with its often low levels of education and vulnerable populace is still fertile ground for the Church's antiquated and unscientific message. I find Benedict's behavior indeed nearly criminal and it underscores how little the Church leadership cares about the lives of individual Catholics. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post about those opposing Benedict's irresponsible message:
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[S]ince stepping off the papal plane Tuesday, attention has focused on the pope's statements rejecting condoms as a way to stop the spread of HIV in Africa. . . . Luzia Gaspar, a Catholic nurse who trains midwives outside Luanda, prays the pope will reconsider. "It's very dangerous. If we do not counsel people to use condoms we are condemning them to almost certain death," she said.
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This dissident view is held among Catholics throughout Africa, including in the church hierarchy. Some say how the debate is resolved could be the key to controlling AIDS in Africa, and to the continued credibility of the church. To protest the ban on condoms, 14 South African nuns who work with AIDS victims formed Sisters for Justice. And the bishops of southern Africa years ago declared condoms should be used by married couples if one spouse is HIV positive.
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South African Bishop Kevin Dowling, who says he is heartbroken by the sight of dying women with emaciated babies among the victims, says people at risk of spreading HIV "should use a condom in order to prevent the transmission of potential death to another."
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Some Catholic priests in Africa also ignore the church requirement that they take a vow of celibacy. "Priests having affairs is rampant in the church" in South Africa, said Velesiwe Mkwanazi, a former Catholic lay leader who co-founded Women Ordination South Africa and says she knows two priests with children.
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The Rev. Simangaliso Mkhatshwa, a priest who is also a leading member of South Africa's governing African National Congress, said the church needs to have an open discussion about celibacy.
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In Cameroon on Wednesday, Benedict also urged the nation's bishops to defend the traditional African family from the dangers of modernity and secularization. But Mkhatshwa, the South African priest, is more concerned about the pope addressing "training the clergy to minister to the people of today ... to really be getting actively involved in issues of poverty, unemployment, disease, economic and political justice."
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Hopefully, more voices of common sense and enlightenment will flourish and add to those who seek to reject the 12th century mentality that now so heavily prevails throughout the out of touch and corrupt Church hierarchy. Like Christianists in the USA, Benedict helps make the religion a force for evil rather than a force for good.

Corona Del Mar High Sued for Homophobia

I recently looked at the turmoil at Corona Del Mar High School where the production of "Rent" had been cancelled due to the gay content. While the principal subsequently backtracked and allowed the play to be performed, it seems that the anti-gay mentality evidenced by that principal's initial action was just the tip of the iceberg as to what sounds to be rampant homophobia at the school. Sadly, it's a mentality all too typical in schools across the country from California to Granby High School in Norfolk where the production of a student written play with a gay theme had to be performed off-site from the school campus. I blame alleged Christians, Mormons and others who constantly denigrate gays and depict us as a threat to "the family" and other such lies for the poisonous atmosphere that prevails across so much of the country. The brazenness, however, of some of the open homophobia at Carona Del Mar is a bit shocking. Here are some highlights from KABC-TV in Los Angeles:
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CORONA DEL MAR, Calif. (KABC) -- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Corona Del Mar High School officials for allegedly fostering what it calls a "sexist" and "homophobic" atmosphere. . . . A culture of sexist hostilities is alleged by a Corona Del Mar High School student, a female homosexual. The ACLU gives her the pseudonym "Mary" in the 36-page complaint. The suit describes the discovery "Mary" made on the on the social network Facebook. Three football players appear in a 17-minute video. A copy is now in the hands of the Newport Beach Police Department.
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ACLU attorney Hector Villagra has seen it too. "The deal itself contains a string of homophobic slurs," said Villagra. "We have talked to students who say that homophobic slurs are heard routinely in classrooms and school hallways within earshot of teachers and nothing happens. We have heard from students that some of the school's coaches routinely use homophobic slurs in an attempt to berate and motivate student athletes."
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There is a threat that one boy wants "deliberately kill her," and another speaks of raping her. More disturbing than the words, says the attorney, is the boys' demeanor. "The fact that these boys would publish or broadcast their homophobia, they said they knew everyone was going to see it," said Villagra. "They were happy about it. They were giggling about it."
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The Newport-Mesa Unified School District released a statement: "These allegations are very serious and the District will utilize its best efforts to ascertain the truth of these matters, as well as to be sure there are procedures in place to allow prompt resolution of any and all disputes regarding discrimination and harassment."
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"Mary" has decided that this area, this place, this school, was too scary for her. She's afraid of running into some of those boys so she has arranged for independent study and now is only on campus for eight hours a week.
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No student should have to live in fear or suffer abusive behavior, yet situations like this one are one of the fruits of the Christianist anti-gay jihad. I hope James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Peter LaBarbera, Don Wildmon and other such "Christians" are pleased with their hate-filled handiwork. I find them evil and disgusting.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Male Beauty

Washington Post Blasts Pope

As God's Rottweiler continues his tour of parts of Africa spreading idiocy and delivering an anti-condom message with apparently no thought or care whatsoever to the lives he is endangering, the Washington Post got it right and blasted Benedict XVI for his almost criminal behavior. Here are some highlight:
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THE LATE New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts." This holds true even for the pope.
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Are condoms foolproof protection against infection by HIV, which causes AIDS? No. Sometimes they break, and sometimes people put them on incorrectly. Still, doctors on the front lines of the fight against the AIDS epidemic established long ago that the use of condoms greatly diminishes the transmission of HIV, the cause of a disease that has no cure. That the pope chose to question the value of condoms in fighting the nearly 28-year-old scourge while heading to the continent whose people are most affected by it is troubling. According to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, sub-Saharan Africa is the epidemic's center, with 67 percent of the world's 32.9 million people with HIV and with 75 percent of all AIDS deaths. Heterosexual intercourse is the "driving force" of the epidemic.
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The pope's comment was so alarming that a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said, "We consider that these statements endanger public health policies and the imperative to protect human life." . . . To halt the march of HIV/AIDS, those who have the infection must be treated. Those who do not have it need all the information and tools possible to remain HIV-negative. The pope's denunciation of condoms is of no help.
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As on Nigerian blogger correctly noted, why does anyone listen to Benedict XVI:
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What does the Pope know about condom? Scratch that! What does the Pope Know about marriage? What does the Pope know about sex? One hundred years from now, the people who will inhabit this earth will read our stories of today and laugh at our stupidity. They will wonder how millions of people with brain cells in their heads chose to listen to a man who never married and never had sex teach them about marriage and sex. They will wonder, “What the hell was wrong with our foreparents?”
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The Pope is irresponsible, many now say in the wake of this new controversy. But I think the Pope’s stance on many social issues is criminal. . . . Since the 80s when AIDS was first diagnosed, 25 million people have died. Many more were saved due to prevention methods like the promotion of condom use. If the Pope will not keep his religion, he should be ready to have the blood of these brainwashed followers on his head.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Thursday Male Beauty

The Policy That Dares Not Speak

I am a constant critic of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" a failed policy that serves no purpose other than to stigmatize gays and further the Bible beaters' agenda of keeping LGBT Americans second class citizens. I have also mentioned Nathaniel Frank's book, “Unfriendly Fire,” before (Frank is pictured at left). Now the New York Times has a review of the book that also brings out just how insidious the policy is and how members of the military can have their careers more or less ruined based on rumor and innuendo. I have personally had clients who have never done anything improper yet they have been forced from the military not even knowing the identity of their accusers. The policy needs to go and needs to go now. If Obama the Democrat Congressional leadership had some guts and backbone, repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell would be a fast track agenda item. Here are some highlights from the Times review:
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The core message of Nathaniel Frank’s book about the American military’s ban on being openly gay can be summed up in a single slogan: “ ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Don’t Work.” . . . to categorize him that way [as a dry professorial writer] would be using the type of specious reasoning on which, according to his book, American military policy about gay personnel is based.
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This is the same logic that allowed a Marine Corps corporal’s buying of
Anne Rice novels to be used as admissible evidence of homosexuality at the man’s discharge investigation. And that example is real, not hypothetical. Mr. Frank didn’t have to make it up. Many Americans may not understand what the military’s 15-year-old “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy about gay personnel actually means. If sounds laissez-faire, it is anything but.
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[T]his expedient-sounding political compromise, sanctioned by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and then voted into law by Congress, has created legal means of terminating the careers of longtime and, Mr. Frank would argue, valuable members of our military. No explicitly sexual act is necessary to bring on accusations. The soldier who receives a warmly affectionate letter from a same-sex correspondent is in jeopardy of being booted out of the service.
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“Unfriendly Fire” offers a sharp, vigorously framed analysis of this state of affairs. Mr. Frank begins by assailing the assumption that a gay person in the military is someone who has chosen to break the military’s rules; that person, he says, violates the current code simply by existing.
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In the course of its intensive scrutiny of Senate hearings on the subject, the book finds similarities between that era’s rhetoric about homosexuality as a threat to unit cohesion and the same arguments, used four decades previously, to resist racial integration.
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“Unfriendly Fire” goes on to measure the gay ban’s cost and consequences. Mr. Frank does not do this casually; he is armed with budget, recruitment and expulsion statistics. Disturbing as they are to begin with, these figures become even more so when linked to the influx of ex-convicts and other problem recruits to replace those who have been dismissed. The single most alarming statement, in a book that bristles with them, is this one about the military’s moral waivers program to admit convicted felons: “Allowable offenses under the program include murder, kidnapping and ‘making terrorist threats.’ ”

Christianist Bite Obama's Extended Hand

Earlier in the week President Obama - in my view stupidly - extended an invitation to representatives of the Family Research Council and and some of the men at Concerned Women for America to come to a White House meeting. As expected this organizations continue to smear Obama on their websites and FRC has condemned the Obama administration for endorsing the United Nations resolution supporting the decriminalization of homosexuality. The are many that could have told Obama that these folks would bite his extended hand seeking to work collaboratively. Truth be told both organizations and those allied with them are religious extremist organizations and only the re-criminalization of homosexuality and the utter degradation of LGBT Americans will satisfy their hate filled souls. Hopefully, Obama is learning that the best approach to these groups is to freeze them out and do nothing to lend them legitimacy so that in time they will be increasingly marginalized. Here are some highlights from what FRC had to say about Obama's endorsement of the U. N. resolution:
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Adding to the long list of Bush positions that are now history, the Associated Press reports that the Obama administration will reverse Bush's policy and endorse a nonbinding U.N. declaration to "protect" homosexuals.
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However, "decriminalization" is only one of 13 principles articulated in the French-sponsored declaration. It also affirms the "principle of non-discrimination," which the U.S. and most states have declined to write into their civil rights laws, and it extends this not only on the basis of "sexual orientation" but "gender identity" (i.e., cross-dressing and sex changes) as well. It condemns not only "violence" and "harassment," but also "stigmatization and prejudice," terms which some would apply to any disapproval of homosexual conduct, no matter how peaceful and loving.
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I have been monitoring FRC for over 8 years and in that time I have yet to see a single "loving" statement towards gays. Rather, gays are depicted as diseased, threats to the family, threats to civilization, predators who prey on children. The libelous statements about LGBT citizens is nearly endless on the FRC website. Tony Perkins and his minions really stop the pretense and admit what they are all about - it's not a pretty or Christian picture. The often anti-Catholic Southern Baptisit Convention had to say on this issue:
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In a Dec. 18 written statement, the Vatican said it opposes criminal penalties for homosexuality and violence against homosexuals. The declaration, however, "goes well beyond" those issues, it said. The classifications of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" used in the document "find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law," the Vatican said. In addition to France, the supporters of the declaration in December included the other 26 members of the European Union, as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan and Mexico, according to news reports.

Christian Law Group Loses Fight For Law School Funding

Like proverbial pigs at the trough, self-styled "Christian" organizations at colleges and universities often seek funding from the educational institutions where they are based even though the organizations discriminate as to who can join the organization. In my view it is all too typical of the Christianist mindset to think they are special and should not operate by the same rules as other organizations that receive funding from the educational institution - namely that they must accept any student seeking to join. Fortunately, the courts are increasingly giving these "Christian" groups a much needed smack down and upholding the right of educational institutions to refuse funding to discriminatory student organizations. The latest such case involves the University of California Hastings Law School which refused funding to a Christian student group because it excludes gays, lesbians and non-Christians. Leading the charge for the wingnuts was the always litigious Christianist Alliance Defense Fund. Naturally, the disingenuous Christianists claim they are being discriminated against. That line is a lie: they can set whatever criteria they want for members, just do not expect public funds form the educational institution to fund it. Here are some highlights from the San Francisco Chronicle on the court's smack down:
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UC Hastings College of the Law can deny recognition and funding to a Christian student group because it excludes gays, lesbians and non-Christians, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The San Francisco law school is entitled to require official student organizations to "accept all comers as members, even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group," the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled. It said the school's policy is "viewpoint-neutral" and does not violate the rights of theChristian Legal Society.
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The brief ruling cited the court's decision last year allowing a Washington state high school to deny recognition to a student Bible club that required members to endorse its religious creed. Last week, the club asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review that case.
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Ethan Schulman, a lawyer for UC Hastings, said Tuesday's ruling allows the school to apply its nondiscrimination policy to any group seeking recognition and a share of the funding that goes to organizations from mandatory student fees. The Christian Legal Society's arguments "would carve a gaping loophole in those nondiscrimination policies" and "force the law school to subsidize discriminatory groups," Schulman said.
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The Hastings chapter, Hastings Christian Fellowship, was initially open to all students and was eligible for funding, office space and inclusion in official publications. Starting in 2004, however, the chapter - apparently following a new national policy - required members to endorse a "statement of faith" and barred anyone who engaged in "unrepentant homosexual conduct."

Thursday Male Beauty

Dedicated to the good "reverend."

Wingnut Erruption

From time to time I get some rather nasty e-mails and/or comments from elements of the knuckle dragging, flat earth, Christianist set who in my view have a tenuous grasp on reality in general and who certainly have no concept of what freedom of religion means. They are truly the Christian version of the Taliban and I cannot help but wonder what psychological issues haunt them that they feel so threatened by anything that threatens their fragile house of cards like religious belief constructs. The latest deranged missive comes from a local wingnut who based on his comment - which I rejected out of hand - indeed makes Pat Robertson look relatively sane. Apparently my post about the wrongful firing of a high school teacher in Oklahoma because she showed the Laramie Project got his panties in a total bunch and set him to foaming at the mouth.
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This individual -who claims to be a "reverend" - stated among other things:
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"She needed to be fired. Pushing sex perversion on normal children is child abuse. Matthew Shepard? How many straight children have been molested and murdered by homosexuals? A lot. How many Christians have been assaulted by homosexuals because they didn't like the way they voted? A lot. How many Christian churches have been burned down by homosexuals because you disagree with the Holy Bible? A lot. Whatever you think, you will not be able to change God's Word and will one day have to pay the price for not believing what God has written."
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Funny that I haven't heard of all these crimes allegedly committed by gays. Instead it seems that it's the gays who are being attacked and killed by "godly Christians" like the good reverend. As for child abuse, no good sir, child abuse would be raising children a warped and hate filled religious context like that which you promote. And please spare me your recitals of antiquated, modern knowledge lacking lines from the holiness code of Leviticus from which people like you selectively pick and choose in order to condemn others. The palpable hate that you seem to hold for others be they gays or pro-choice advocates is the antithesis of Christ's gospel message.
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Oh, and as for the prayer you recommend that I recite - I think it would be better utilized if you said it yourself while looking at yourself in a mirror. Were Christ to return today, I suspect that he'd definitely not call himself a Christian if you are the face of what being a Christian means.
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One last question: why were you on a gay blog? Savoring the male beauty photos? It'd be all too typical of a self-hating closet case who projects his self hate onto other gays.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Wednesday Male Beauty

In Memoriam: Natasha Richardson

Natasha's untimely death should remind all of us of the need to live more in the moment and grasp some happiness each day - and to love others each day - since we truly do not know when some freak accident could change everything in literally hours. As someone who grew up snow skiing, her accident and death sends shivers down my spine. My thoughts go out to her children and family.
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On Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009, she had attended an amfAR gala to kick off fashion week and to raise money for AIDS research. Richardson was also on the board of the charity amfAR, The Foundation for Aids Research. According to the Guardian, this statement was issued by amfAR:
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"Natasha's passion for the cause and tireless efforts gave hope and inspiration to the scientists and healthcare workers on the front lines of this deadly epidemic, as well as to the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. "The board of trustees and staff of amfAR are deeply saddened by this loss."

Anonymous E-mail Accuses Diversity Program of Promoting "Gay Agenda"

In a move that I suspect violates school/student privacy laws, someone describing them self as a "concerned parent" sent out an e-mail blast to thousands of parents of students at Castro Valley High School in California ranting that the school's diversity program was promoting a "gay agenda." The rant was typical of the Christianist/Mormon mindset which is all about that individual and to Hell with the rights of anyone or the concept that all students/citizens should have a safe school atmosphere. If one needed an argument for why diversity programs are needed, this e-mail and the mindset of its author are exhibit no. 1. As the Advocate reports, the school administration is unsure how someone accessed parent e-mail addresses (I suspect that it was a member of the school staff or someone working with a staff member):
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Officials are unclear how the sender obtained the e-mail addresses of parents, many of whom expressed disgust with the antigay sentiments. . . . The high school near San Francisco is the alma mater of lesbian MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
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A full text of the e-mail is captured at the Contra Costa Times and it sounds like something drafted by Don Wildmon, Peter LaBarbera, Tony Perkins, or one of the delusional men at Concerned Women for America would have authored. Here are some highlights:
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Now I find out that the influence of the gay agenda at CVHS is much worse than I had been led to believe. I already knew that most of my child’s teachers were gay. So what else is new? The hysteria over Proposition 8 has gone so far past tolerance now that outright brainwashing is the new new plan to influence future voters. As a lifelong bay area resident I have become accustomed to the constant barrage in all media about gay parade this and gay everything that.
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This slide show presentation in math class today was over the top. The kids were given step by step instructions on how to become gay and transsexual. They were given a list of websites to visit some of which were so disgusting that they should be labeled porn sites. How many other classes has this occurred in? How long has this been going on? Where is the oversight?
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I do not know about all of you parents but this is not the Continued Excellence as we were promised in the last election just four months ago. Something needs to be changed!

Impeach the Pope

Robert S. McElvaine is a Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College and in the Washington Post he has a great guest column that looks at the nasty record of Nazi Pope, Benedict XVI - and the larger Church as well - and makes a good case for why God's Rottweiler and much of the hierarchy need to be turned out of their positions. McElvaine holds no punches as he conducts an "Emperor's New Clothes" examination of the rot and perversion of the Gospel message that Benedict XVI and those like him within the Church should be held accountable. Regular readers of this blog know that I utterly disgusted with the fact that those responsible within the hierarchy for the cover up of the sexual abuse of minors have not been held the least bit accountable - and that includes the less than saintly John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself. Oh yes, Benedict XVI has feigned expressions of sorrow for the scandal, but meanwhile he and his minions continue to fight tooth and claw to avoid paying settlements to victims who can never be made truly whole. I do not know how people remain Catholic under this Pope - I would literally feel dirty if I had remained in the Catholic Church. Here are some column highlights:
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Amid all the justified outrage we all feel at Bernie Madoff and the AIG bandits, let us save some intense outrage for Pope Benedict XVI. After insulting Muslims by declaring in 2006 that Muhammad had brought "things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," after reiterating (through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) in 2008 that the subject of the ordination of women is not even open for discussion and declaring that anyone involved with the ordination of women will be automatically excommunicated, after lifting in January of this year the excommunication of Holocaust-denier Richard Williamson, now Benedict XVI opens a visit to Africa by telling the people of a continent decimated by AIDS that the distribution of condoms "increases the problem" of the spread of AIDS.
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I am a Catholic and the idea that such a man is God's spokesperson on earth is absurd to me. There are, of course, no provisions in the hierarchical institution set up, not by Jesus but by men who hijacked his name and in many cases perverted his teachings, for impeaching a pope and removing him from office. But there ought to be.
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As I detail in my latest book, "Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America" (Crown), the cardinal sin of the Catholic Church -- a literally deadly sin, if ever there was one -- is its opposition to birth control.
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Why does the Church persist in such a manifestly immoral doctrine? One suspects that it must be the usual twisted thinking about sex and women. The Church's opposition to birth control is largely an outgrowth of its all-male composition and those males' attempts to degrade women's physical powers by asserting that women and the intercourse into which they supposedly tempt men are necessary evils ("It is well for a man not to touch a woman," Paul instructed the Christians of Corinth), the only purpose of which is procreation.
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And now for the pope to go so far as to indicate that condom use worsens the spread of AIDS -- there's an outrage that tops Madoff and AIG! Let's start a movement within the Catholic Church to impeach Pope Benedict XVI and remove him from office. While we're at it, let's replace him with a woman.

Merriam-Webster Changes Definition of Marriage.

Can you imagine the foaming at the mouth that will occur when the wingnuts get wind of this? The spittle will be flying everywhere. No doubt loony Don Wildmon and American Family Association will launch a boycott of Merriam-Webster dictionaries.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Gay-themed Film Costs Oklahoma Teacher Her Job

As if any further proof was needed that homophobia is alive and well in Sally Kern's toxic state of Oklahoma, USA Today has reported that a rural Oklahoma high school teacher has lost her job because she showed The Laramie Project, a 2002 film based on the play of the same name, about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The Bible beaters simply cannot tolerate any acknowledgement that LGBT Americans exist or any exposure of the murderous consequences of the constant anti-gay mantra that they disseminate. God forbid that they might be disturbed in the course of their self-congratulatory pats on their own backs. It's a disgusting situation and I hope this and other acts of bigoted discrimination get wide publicity so that companies will think twice before relocating to backwards states like Oklahoma - and Virginia for that matter. As for the school division's excuse for the firing, from my years as an education activist, public school administrators are only slightly less dishonest than your hard core Christianists. If their lips are moving in a situation like this, they are generally lying. Here are some story highlights:
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Gay rights groups are complaining about the firing of a rural Oklahoma high school teacher who lost her job last week after assigning a play about the 1998 death of a gay college student. But the tiny school district says the move came after the teacher held a mock "funeral" for a canceled film production of the play.
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Taylor, 50, knew the project was controversial with strong language, but got her principal's permission. A few weeks into it, the principal told her to stop production. After students protested, she held a 20-minute ceremony in a nearby park in which students wrote their thoughts and rolled them into helium balloons, then released them.
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The next day, Taylor says, Superintendent Ed Turlington canceled the class. After she complained to a school board member, Turlington put her on paid leave and recommended that she be fired. The school board approved her resignation Friday.
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Taylor says she was let go for complaining to the board member, but others say it was a result of the play's subject: homophobia. "They don't want something like this addressed in our community," says senior Matt Ebner, one of Taylor's former students.
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Coincidentally, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church had been scheduled to protest at the school later this week. In any event, the bigots at Grandfield High School can be reached at (580) 479-3140. The Mailing Address is P.O. Box 639, Grandfield, OK 73546

AIG Arrogance

One has to wonder how some can be so greedy and utterly out of touch with public relations realities. Personally, I think the Obama administration needs to pull the plug on AIG.

USA to Sign UN Gay Rights Declaration

The Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration has signaled that will endorse a United Nations declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that the Chimperator had refused to sign last year. While this is certainly a welcome development, it seems inconsistent with Obama's love fests with Christianist preachers and the White House's meeting invitation to two Christianist organizations that are border line anti-hate hate groups (both groups supported maintaining the sodomy statues). One reader suggested that perhaps Obama likes to "keep his enemies close," but even if such is the case it could be done in a manner that would be less insulting to LGBT allies of the Obama administration. I would also note that some of the language in the U.N. resolution is broad enough to suggest that DADT and anti-gay marriage amendments are contrary to the spirit of the resolution. That being the case, when is Obama going to take concrete steps within the USA to bring the country into full compliance with the spirit of the U.N. resolution? Here are some highlights from the AP story:
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.
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U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration's French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.
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The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress was still being notified of the decision. They said the administration had decided to sign the declaration to demonstrate that the United States supports human rights for all.
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"The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world," said one official. "As such, we join with the other supporters of this statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora," the official said.
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The official added that the United States was concerned about "violence and human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual individuals" and was also "troubled by the criminalization of sexual orientation in many countries."
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"In the words of the United States Supreme Court, the right to be free from criminalization on the basis of sexual orientation 'has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom'," the official said.
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According to negotiators, the Bush team had concerns that those parts could commit the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In some states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military. It was not immediately clear on Tuesday how the Obama administration had come to a different conclusion.
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70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality — and in several, homosexual acts can be punished by execution. More than 50 nations, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, opposed the declaration. . . . The declaration was also opposed by the Vatican.
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Again, I applaud this development and the fine words stated by administration officials. My question remains, however, as to when Obama intends to take steps to make the legal reality for gays within many parts of the USA consistent with the spirit of the U.N. resolution. At the moment, in Virginia I do not even have any assurance that I can get fair treatment in court hearings because of my sexual orientation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

West Point Grads Form Gay Support Group

One of the arguments that Christianists disingenuously put forth to support "Don't Ask Don't Tell" ("DADT"), is that having gay and lesbian service members would impair unit morale and military readiness. The illustration at left is typical of the lies told by our enemies in this regard. The real fallacy, of course, is that there ARE many, many gays and lesbians serving with distinction in all branches of the military. They are certainly all over the greater Norfolk area and can be found in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, all of which have bases or units in the area. I have a significant number, in fact, who are clients, so I do know of what I speak. But then, the real reason for DADT has nothing to do with unit morale or military readiness. Rather, it is based on the Christianist agenda of maintaining laws that make LGBT Americans less than full citizens which can then be cited as evidence of gay inferiority and unworthiness.
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Apparently, 38 graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point decided that they would do their part to expose the lies upon which DADT was constructed and has been maintained to date. As the Navy Times is reporting, these Military Academy graduates came out of the closet Monday with an offer to help their alma mater educate future Army leaders on the need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops. Here are some story highlights:
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“Knights Out” wants to serve as a connection between gay troops and Army administrators, particularly at West Point, to provide an “open forum” for communication between gay West Point graduates and their fellow alumni and to serve in an advisory role for West Point leaders in the eventuality — which the group believes is both “imminent and inevitable” — that the law and policy collectively known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” are repealed by Congress.
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“We’re publicly announcing our sexuality, our orientation,” said 1st Lt. Dan Choi, a National Guardsman with the 1st Bn., 69th Infantry, based in Manhattan. “It’s just one part of who we are in saying that we are standing to be counted.”
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In forming
Knights Out, its 38 members are following the example of similar support and education groups formed by graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy, known respectively as USNA Out and Blue Alliance. Most if not all of these groups’ members also belong to the Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Alumni social network, a group that Knights Out claims includes some active-duty commanders serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Choi, a Korean by descent, is a combat veteran of Iraq who graduated from West Point in 2003 with a degree in Arabic language. He said his unit is aware that he’s a homosexual and added, “I’m very comfortable with all the repercussions right now. To me, it’s about doing the right thing, not about trying to fit into the process that gets you the rank or prevents you from getting a discharge. “If that’s the repercussion, I’m ready to take it,” he said. “I think it’s more important that I let everybody know that … it is a wrong policy.”
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Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., recently introduced legislation in Congress that would repeal the law. . . . Another Democrat, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, has asked the military for a monthly report on don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. Moran announced Monday that the Army discharged 11 gay soldiers in January.
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“At a time when our military’s readiness is strained to the breaking point from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the armed forces continue to discharge vital service members under the outdated, outmoded don’t ask, don’t tell policy,” Moran said. “Our allies have overcome this issue, facing no adverse consequences from lifting bans focused on soldiers’ sexual orientation. . . Moran, a long-time opponent of the military gay ban, is a co-sponsor of Tauscher’s Military Readiness Enhancement Act (HR 1283).
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Again, DADT has nothing to do with unit readiness or morale. Rather it's all about appeasing the hate-based agenda of delusional Christianists like Elaine Donnelly (who has ZERO military experience herself). DADT needs to be repealed and one can only hope that Obama will stop kissing Christianist asses, grow a backbone and start making good on his campaign rhetoric.

More Tueday Male Beauty

Obama’s Preacher Complex

Speaking of evil religious influences, Wayne Besen has a column that follows a New York Times article that looks at the circle of five (5) preachers with whom Barack Obama has surrounded himself. Most of them are toxic anti-gay ministers and Obama's action in selecting this circle of religious counselors again begs the question as to whether or not Obama's pro-gay campaign rhetoric was anything more than a cynical effort to secure gay votes and money. There are plenty of gay accepting clergy and religious denominations that are far more gay friendly than those from which Obama scooped up this crowd. Yet Obama has selected these people almost as another deliberate slight to the LGBT Americans who helped him win the presidency. Personally, I've had enough and have unsubscribed from every group and organization promoting Obama and his agenda. If and when he pushes through the repeal of DADT or secures passage of gay rights legislation, I will bite my tongue and stand corrected. For now, however, I'm tired of having Obama flip the bird at LGBT Americans. Here are some highlights from Wayne's column:
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The New York Times reports that the president has surrounded himself with a cadre of clerical crackpots known as the “Circle of Five.” These holy men are: Rev. Joel Hunter, former head of the Christian Coalition; anti-gay Bishop T.D. Jakes; the ex-gay loving Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell; and Jim “waffling” Wallis, a protean progressive. The only Obama shaman who isn’t shameless is the civil rights era preacher Rev. Otis Moss Jr.
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“Whoa, OK, so let’s assume [the Obama Administration decides to release] a mealy mouthed message like ‘the President does not believe in ex-gay therapy’ or some such nonsense,” wrote blogger Pam Spaulding. “If he doesn’t, then what is he doing talking to Caldwell when there are plenty of other prominent pastors he could choose to break bread with who don’t subscribe to that view?”
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By embracing these conservative clerics, Obama is also setting a wretched example overseas. Last month, the State Department released a report to Congress that documents “an unfortunate crisis in human rights abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide.” Much of this violence was the result of brutal religious oppression. Yet, Obama pals around with reprehensible reverends, thus undermining his own administration’s call for moderate religious leadership abroad.
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It is time Obama stops searching for Daddy and becomes the man of the (White) house, by picking preachers who are not at irreconcilable odds with his human rights policies.
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Obama arranges a White House meeting with representatives of Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America and surrounds himself with anti-gay preachers all the while ignoring the plight of LGBT Americans who often face daily discrimination in their lives because of the likes of those with whom Obama is brown nosing. Here in Virginia, the reality is that gay citizens frequently cannot even secure legal counsel since many members of the Virginia Bar will not represent gays either out of their own religious based bigotry or out of fear of upsetting their Christianist clients. I'm not making this up and I received one such call today from a gay man who could not find representation due to his sexual orientation. While I managed to find him counsel since his legal needs were outside my areas of expertise, it is indeed a sick situation and Obama's fraternizing with anti-gay religious bigots does NOTHING to improve the situation.