Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Male Beauty

Biblical Bludgeoning

One aspect of coming out for those brought up in non-gay friendly religious traditions that I have talked about before is the need to educate one's self on the fact that there are other traditions that are gay affirming if not out right fully accepting of gays. If the religion of your birth is toxic to your mental well being, LEAVE it and find a different one that allows you to embrace spirituality without the poisonous side effects of self-hate and frustration of not being able to buy into the "change myth" so prevalent still in many denominations. I've recommended books before and the Washington Blade has a story on a book, “Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality,” that looks like it might be useful too. (The boyfriend has me headed to Barnes and Noble today to pick up books for him, so I will look for it). Here are some highlights from the Blade story:
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Jack Rogers, a theology professor and nearly lifelong Presbyterian, didn’t want to get involved with the issue of homosexuality. He’d been opposed to the ordination of gays within his denomination, but was implored by a friend in 1993 to sit on a task force at California’s Pasadena Presbyterian Church to study the issue thoroughly.
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“It was just not a problem I wanted to take on,” Rogers writes in his book “Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality,” re-released this week in a revised and expanded edition by Westminster John Knox Press. Rogers, who’s straight, has become an advocate of full inclusion of gays in both the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Christian church in general.
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“I want you to know that I believe the Bible, properly understood, looking at it through the lens of Jesus’ redemptive life and ministry, is very positive toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Rogers says during a Blade phone interview. “There are a lot of people who are eager to hear that message.”
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In the book, Rogers traces how his denomination previously used scripture to justify slavery, policies that prevented women from being ordained and divorced and remarried Christians from fully participating in the church. Rogers argues that the scriptures that are used against gays (he calls them the “seven or eight clobber texts”), are no different than those used in previous church disagreements.
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“A literal, proof-texting way of reading the Bible is wrong,” he says. “You’re going to come to wrong conclusions. You have to read it as a whole. It’s a book with a long history and at the center of it is Jesus … who was not the kind of person to knock people down and exclude them. Yes, Jesus sets ideals, but he also picks people up and gives them a second chance.”
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He says conservative Christians and fundamentalists who argue that the Bible is free of error and should be taken literally, do their own selecting and interpreting. So if the mainline denominations have sound answers to this and other issues, why are they dwindling while independent evangelical churches such as those led by Joel Osteen and Rick Warren are thriving? Rogers says it’s because those pastors give people “what they want to hear.”
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“It’s all about wearing your Hawaiian shirt to church and taking your coffee in with you,” he says. “And then preaching a feel-good, prosperity gospel and appealing to the current prejudice. It’s pure cultural mish-mash in my judgment. The way you grow in the culture is to adopt the cultural attitudes. There’s not a lot of orthodoxy when you look at (these megachurches). It’s more, ‘Hey folks, we’re going to give you what you want to hear.’”
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Rogers is hopeful about the future of gays in the church. “I know the church as an institution cannot change in a major way unless people feel that the Bible, which is their primary source of authority, permits it ... I’m presenting a biblical case. I’m saying if you go to the Bible with scholarship that looks at it in depth, it is not anti-gay.”

Iraqi Cleric Orders Gays Eradicated

In yet another example of the toxicity of fundamentalist religion of all stripes, Moqtada Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric in Iraq, has ordered that the "depravity" of homosexuality must be "eradicated." Out of the other side of his mouth, of course, he calls for a cessation of the murder and torture of gays - no doubt to avoid even more outspoken condemnation by international groups - as if somehow gays will quietly vanish on their own. Or perhaps he believes the "choice myth" so popular with the Christo-fascists in the USA. Meanwhile, I can't helping thinking that since many of the loudest homophobes in the is country always seem to be the ones hankering for some secret gay sex themselves, what does that say about Sadr? Personally, he looks like a pretty nasty piece of work to me. Here are some highlights from Pink News:
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Moqtada Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric in Iraq, has ordered that the "depravity" of homosexuality must be eradicated . . . . His spokesman Sheikh Wadea al-Atab said today that a series of meetings are being held with clerics, tribal leaders and police to tackle the "phenomenon". According to AFP, Atabi said: "The purpose of the meetings is to fight the depravity and to urge the community to reject this phenomenon. The only remedy to stop it is through preaching and guidance. There is no other way to put an end to it."
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Following reports of the [recent] murders [of gays], Amnesty International took the unusual step of writing to Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki to demand "urgent and concerted action" by his government to stop the killings of gay men in the country. The letter suggested that evidence shows police are encouraged to target gay men and calls for officers who incite homophobic attacks to be "held to account and either prosecuted or disciplined and removed from office".
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"The western invasion of Iraq in 2003 ended the tyrannical Baathist dictatorship. But it also destroyed a secular state, created chaos and lawlessness and allowed the flourishing of religious fundamentalism. The result has been an Islamist-inspired homophobic terror campaign against LGBT Iraqis."
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"Queers are being shot dead in their homes, streets and workplaces, . . . . "Even suspected gay children are being murdered. They killers claim to be doing these assassinations at the behest of the 'democratic' Iraqi government, in order to eradicate what they see as immoral, un-Islamic behaviour."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama Can’t Remember His Promises

Even if Barack Obama can no longer remember his campign promises to LGBT Americans, we still do and we are waiting for action, not just talk.

Friday Male Beauty

Obama Censoring Abuse Photos

In yet another disappointment the Obama administration is continuing to censor photos of the misdeeds done under the torture regime of the Chimperator and Emperor Palpatine Cheney. The pretense according to Obama is:
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"The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals," the president said at a White House briefing.
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I disagree. Far too many citizens in the USA are still in denial as to the horrors done under the Bush/Cheney regime and nothing less than repeated exposure to graphic photos will make most of them wake up. Do we really want to be like the "good Germans" under the Nazi regime who merely chose not to admit the evils that were occurring? Unless and until Bush, Cheney and others who authorized torture are held to account, the message to future leaders and military operatives is that one can engage in torture and get away with it. Here are some highlights from the Telegraph on this issue:
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Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged. At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.
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The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published. Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.
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In April, Mr Obama’s administration said the photographs would be released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.
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Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”
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Bush, Cheney and their minions are war criminals and truly need to be tried and punished. Anything less will leave the USA as a nation of hypocrites. I am truly ashamed to be an American when I read stuff like this and see our president trying to cover it up.

Tortured and Killed in Iraq for Being Gay

We've done posts on this issue before, yet the murders of gays in Iraq continue and worse yet the USA which continues to bankroll the current Iraqi puppet government seems to be totally indifferent to the ongoing deaths. The so-called "Golden Rule" of he who has the money sets the rules obviously is not being applied by the Obama administration. Amnesty International and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs are on top of the issue, but the USA is missing in action - yet again - offering more proof that LGBT lives mean little to the current administration other than opportunities fro flowery rhetoric not backed by action. Here are some highlights from ABC News:
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Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, and police confirmed they found the bodies of four more men, all killed during a 10-day period after an unknown Shiite militia group urged a crackdown on homosexuals in the country.
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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs believes as many as 30 people have been killed during the last three months because they were -- or were perceived to be -- gay. In a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the human rights group Amnesty International called for "urgent and concerted action" to end the violence against the gay community, the group reported on its Web site.
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Homosexuality is prohibited almost everywhere in the Middle East, but conditions have become especially dangerous in recent years for gays and lesbians, as religious militias have become more powerful since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. . . . "Two young men were killed Thursday. They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor," an Iraqi army member who did not want to give his name told ABC News.
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Two gay men were found elsewhere in Sadr City, alive but bearing the scars of severe torture. They were beaten, their chests showed signs of cigarette burns, and when police found them they were rushed to the hospital. They had been sodomized with iron bars, sources said. Other men said they had had their chests slashed and their nipples cut off.
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The irony is that such murders were much more rare under the overthrown regime of Saddam Hussein. Welcome to Iraqi democracy US style. Oh, and as for fundamentalist religion - both Islamic and Christian - it continues to be one of the greatest force for evil in the world. How many lives would not have been needlessly lost over the centuries but for religious based hate and evil?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Thursday Male Beauty

Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center Blasts Obama

I have been on Barack Obama's case a number of times due to his failure to take steps to deliver on any of his campaign promises to LGBT Americans. In fact, to date Obama's lack of honesty is on a par with the Chimperator's promise of "compassionate conservatism." Hence my new photo for Obama at left which shows him beginning to morph into the Chimperator. Now it seems others are about out of patience with Obama as well for his disingenuous lies. A case in point is the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center which blasted Obama in a it sent to Obama yesterday. Here is the text of the letter via America Blog (the emphasis is mine):
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Dear President Obama:
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Welcome to California, Mr. President.
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I welcome you with a heavy heart because of the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Prop. 8, relegating same-sex couples to second class status and denying us that most noble promise of America, “liberty and justice for all.”
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You are arriving in Los Angeles on the heels of emotional demonstrations throughout California and our nation and your silence at such a time speaks volumes. LGBT people and our allies have the ‘audacity to hope” for a country that treats us fairly and equally and for a President with the will to stand up for those ideals. From you we expect nothing less.
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We know the country faces many serious challenges and we have strived to be patient. We’ve waited for the slightest sign you would live up to your promise to be a “fierce advocate” for our equal rights while watching gay and lesbian members of the armed forces, who have never been more needed, get discharged from the military. And so far you have done nothing. No stop loss order. No call to cease such foolish and discriminatory actions that make our nation less safe.
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You pledged to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Mr. President. You promised to support a “complete repeal” of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and pledged to advocate for legislation that would give same-sex couples the 1,100+ federal rights and benefits we are denied, including the same rights to social security benefits. You said “Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples.” What of those promises, Mr. President?
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Your commitment to repeal DOMA has been removed from the White House website. Your promise to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was removed and then replaced with a watered-down version. And in the aftermath of yesterday’s California Supreme Court ruling, you have remained silent while your press secretary summarily dismisses questions about the issue.
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We not only need to hear from our President, we need his action. And we need it now. We need your words, Mr. President. But we also need your deeds. We expect you to fulfill the promises you made to us. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Do not delay, Mr. President. The time for action is now.
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Sincerely,
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Lorri L. Jean
Chief Executive Officer
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
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Unfortunately, I expect Obama to utterly ignore this letter and other calls for action. Obama is a slick politician and apparently doesn't mean anything he says. I regret that I fell for his BS and do not intend to be duped again by him. He has lost my support unless and until he stops the fiddling while Rome burns and delivers on his campaign promises.

Father Cutie Is Leaving the Roman Catholic Church

I recently did a post concerning Rev. Alberto CutiƩ, a Catholic priest from a Miami Beach parish, who was video taped on a beach with what appeared to be a girlfriend, and how the celibacy requirement of the Catholic Church needs to be thrown on the dung heap of history. The celibacy requirement instituted in the 1100's began - as so much does in the Catholic Church - as an issue of money: unmarried, childless priests cost far less to support and maintain. Being "married to the Church" was merely the blather formulated to try to turn a pigs ear into a silk purse.
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Now it seems that the talented Rev. Cutie is leaving the Roman Catholic Church and joining the Episcopal Church which allows married clergy. Hopefully, he will now use his charisma and talents to attract Hispanic Catholics to the Episcopal Church most will find is not so different from the Catholic Church with the exception of not having a corrupt, fossilized hierarchy. Here are some highlights from MSNBC on Fr. Cutie's departure from the Catholic Church:
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MIAMI - A popular Miami priest and media personality known as "Father Oprah" has left the Catholic Church to become an Anglican after he was photographed cavorting on the beach with his girlfriend. The Rev. Alberto CutiƩ was removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month.
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He was received into the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, in a ceremony Thursday at Trinity Cathedral and may later announce he will marry his girlfriend, which is allowed in that denomination. He must complete other requirements before serving as an Episcopal priest.
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The Cuban-American priest was born in Puerto Rico and previously hosted shows on the Spanish-language channel Telemundo. He is also a syndicated Spanish-language columnist and author of the book "Real Life, Real Love: 7 Paths to a Strong, Lasting Relationship." He headed the archdiocese's Radio Paz and Radio Peace broadcasts, heard throughout the Americas and in Spain, and earned the nickname "Father Oprah" — as in talk show host Oprah Winfrey — for his relationship advice.

Thursday Male Beauty


Fairfax High's Prom Queen is a Guy

In a move that will no doubt drive the Christianists at Liberty University and similar covens of insanity completely crazy, Fairfax High School (in California, not Virginia) - in a move similar to George Mason University's election of a drag queen as homecoming queen - has elected a guy as Prom Queen. As in the George Mason situation, Sergio Garcia's candidacy began as a bit of a stunt but later took on a life of its own and according to a Los Angeles Times story, helped generate a discussion of gender roles - something obviously that is heresy to the Christianist crowd. Personally, I continue to be baffled by why the Christianists are so afraid of gays and any departure from what they consider the norm - I attribute it to an actual LACK of faith and a belief system that is so fragile that anything different causes it to collapse. To me, if one has faith, then there needs to be a willingness to concede that one does NOT have all the answers on a simple check list. Here are some story highlights:
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Sergio Garcia stood in the gymnasium and told the senior class at Fairfax High School not to worry: If he was elected, he wouldn't wear a dress."I will be wearing a suit," Garcia said, "but don't be fooled, deep down inside, I am a queen!"
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Garcia, 18, spent most of his years at Fairfax openly gay and wanted to be part of the Los Angeles school's prom court -- but not as prom king. He felt that vying for prom queen would better suit his personality, so he decided to seek that crown, running against a handful of female classmates. He said it started out as a bit of a stunt and challenge -- he wasn't sure the school would allow it. But his campaign for queen ended up being serious and sparking dialogue about gender roles on campus.
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A few days before the dance and election, the contenders gave short speeches on why they deserved the crown. "At one time, prom may have been a big popularity contest where the best-looking guy or girl were crowned king and queen. Things have changed and it's no longer just about who has the most friends or who wears the coolest clothes," Garcia told the crowd of seniors. "Sure, I'm not your typical prom queen candidate. There's more to me than meets the eye."The audience erupted in applause after his speech, and a group of his female friends spent the rest of the week wearing pink crowns and campaigning for him.
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On Saturday night at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, wearing a charcoal-gray tuxedo and a black bow tie, he was named prom queen.
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"It just shows how open-minded our class is," said Vanessa Lo, 18, the school's senior class president. Lo said that she, like many students, had initially been against the idea of Garcia running for prom queen. But she said he "spoke with complete confidence" and carried himself in a way that made students believe he was serious, not a class clown or joker just trying to get attention. "His speech was great," recalled Unique Payne, 17, a senior who said she voted for Garcia. "I did it because I support the gay community," she said.
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Fairfax High, which is near West Hollywood at the intersection of Melrose and Fairfax avenues, has often been at the forefront of the gay rights struggle. It has a Gay-Straight Alliance student group on campus, and Project 10, an on-site support program for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, was started there in 1984 after a social worker wanted to help a gay student who was being harassed by his peers. The program has since been expanded to encompass the entire Los Angeles Unified School District.
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As I noted last night in a post about my younger daughter, the youth of the nation "get it" in terms of accepting gays as people and as being fully human. Would that their elders were as enlightened.

This Is Liberty?

While many others have already commented on the bigotry that is alive and well at the dead Jerry Falwell's Liberty University most recently evidenced by the university's decision to ban the college Democrat club from the list of allowed student organizations, I decided to throw in my two cents nonetheless. Why? Because the lunacy at Liberty University and other Christianists confabs in Virginia (e.g., Regent University, The Arlington Group, The Family Foundation) is a blight on the Commonwealth and represents the forces that keep Virginia from reaching its full potential as they struggle to keep the state in firmly the 19th century. True, there are some rational people at such universities, but increasingly they are the America equivalent of the Islamic madrases in the Middle East where religious extremism and the hatred of other citizens is instilled. They are the antithesis of the enlightenment of Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers from Virginia. Here are some highlights from a Washington Post editorial:
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YOU CAN be a Democrat at Liberty University as long as you don't support Barack Obama. Or Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello. Or any other candidate who so much as hints at supporting abortion rights or same-sex marriage. That, at least, seems to be the message Liberty University sent when it withdrew its recognition of the campus Democratic group as an official club. The students' offense was not that they spoke out in favor of abortion or gay marriage but that they supported candidates who do.
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Mathew D. Staver, dean of the university's school of law, [said] "they did not live up to their statements." Mr. Staver acknowledged to us that club members never vocalized support for abortion or gay rights. Rather, he said, they were "advocating positions for individual candidates that clearly promoted abortion." Mr. Staver emphasized that campus Democrats won't face sanctions and will still be able to meet on campus; they just won't be able to use the university's name or receive school funds.
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Student Brian Diaz, president of the campus Democrats, counters that the club's constitution, which he says was approved by the university, gave members the latitude to endorse candidates. (The campus Republicans also make endorsements.) . . . . Why recognize a club for campus Democrats but not allow it to actually support Democrats, including the president of the United States? Universities should facilitate healthy exchanges of ideas, not fear them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Wednesday Male Beauty

From a "Hot" Farmer Calendar in Switzerland

Obama Falls Further Behind on Gay Marriage

I'll be honest, my exasperation with Barack Obama's spinelessness when it comes to gay rights issues continues to grow. His pronouncements on his personal beliefs on gay marriage give aid and comfort to extreme Christianists and now former far right figures are becoming more progressive on gay rights issues than Obama who gave gave great lip service to supporting gay rights during the campaign. As John Aravosis notes at America Blog, Obama's failure to support gay rights and to deliver on his campaign promises is becoming almost down right painful and - to me at least - suggests that he never meant his glowing rhetoric during the campaign. Here are John's words on this issue in the context of Ted Olson's (the Chimperator's former Solicitor General) representation of clients suing in Federal Court to overturn Proposition 8:
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As I mentioned last night, it's hard to overplay the significance of this. Olson may very well be the man singlehandedly responsible for putting George Bush in the White House these past eight years. He is a conservative. He was a member of the board of the American Spectator, the magazine that investigated Bill Clinton in the early 90s, and got that entire ball of wax rolling. Olson was the guy who was so conservative that Harry Reid torpedoed Bush's desire to make Olson Attorney General after Gonzales. Olson is so conservative that Bob Novak (aka Novakula) called him "highly esteemed."
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It is as significant in conservative circles, I believe, as former McCain strategist Steve Schmidt, now supporting gay marriage. Moderates in the Republican party - or perhaps more accurately, conservatives - are suddenly speaking out with more moderate views. The irony is that we always wanted moderate/liberal Republicans to stand up and denounce the culture wars. To take their party back. But instead, we have a growing number of conservatives who are washing their hands of the religious right and its phobias.
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If Ted Olson can say that about gay marriage, then all bets are off in terms of what we should expect from Democratic politicians. . . . We were willing to cut Obama some slack on gay marriage because we understood that America wasn't there yet, and it was difficult for a Democratic politician to openly support gay marriage and not lose his career. No more. Times have changed. We have conservative Republican leaders like Steve Schmidt and Ted Olson openly endorsing gay marriage while our Democratic president and far too many of his administration are treating gays and their civil rights like some kind of crazy Aunt you don't talk about in polite company because she's just so embarrassing.
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Well, perhaps it's time we started quoting pro-gay marriage conservatives like Steve Schmidt and Ted Olson, and asking the White House why Barack Obama seems to have a bigger hang up with our civil rights - hell, with us (do you see anyone openly gay in the Cabinet?) - than two of the most conservative Republicans in Washington.
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It truly is pathetic when you have people like Ted Olson who are now more positive on gay marriage and gay rights than a Democratic president who campaigned on a mantra of change which was alleged to include equality for LGBT Americans. As for Olson's lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, here are some highlights from the Los Angeles Times:
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Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who represented then-Vice President Al Gore in the contested election, have joined forces to tackle the same-sex marriage issue, which has deeply divided Californians and left 18,000 gay couples married last year in legal isolation.
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In a project of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Olson and Boies have united to represent two same-sex couples filing suit after being denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8. Their suit, to be filed in U.S. District Court in California, calls for an injunction against the proposition, allowing immediate reinstatement of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

My Pride and Joy - Part II

The other day I did a post in tribute to my younger daughter who has been an amazing support and ally to me in the difficult coming out process and horrific divorce wars that followed. She's never given up on me and she likely has no idea how much that continues to mean to me. Last night she left a comment on this blog which touched my heart deeply. I decided not to publish the entire comment, but I do want to share some of it with readers - especially those still in the closet and debating what to do in terms of whether or not they should come out or not. I believe that her comments suggest your children often understand far more than we give them credit for and that they hold more wisdom than we know. Here are some highlights from the comment my daughter posted:
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You were very obviously unhappy and angry, although for a long time we had no idea why, and I think that you being honest with yourself has been beneficial to our whole family. I don't think mom was being selfish in that situation either though because, . . . I cant even imagine how hearing that news from your husband of 24 years must have been like.
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I think that neither of you will ever be able to understand because you have never been in the other one's position. I am not going to comment or get involved with any of the court bullshit because that has just gotten ridiculous.
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I hope everyday that we can put all of this behind us so that in one way or another we can all be like family again. Whether or not that will happen, who knows. . . . . I say this to mom, and I'm going to say this to you too: try to imagine, though you'll never be able to comprehend, how the other half of this situation must have felt and what they must have been struggling with.
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And now I am done. I just kinda needed to get that off my chest haha. I hope it all makes sense. I love you Dad.
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I for one have NEVER, EVER wanted the divorce to be as mean and vicious as it has become through none of my doing. As for my younger daughter, I consider her - along with my two other children - my greatest achievement in life I love her dearly. I hope that any closeted readers take away the message that they should not automatically assume the worse in terms of their children's reactions should they decide to "come out." They might be greatly surprised by the wisdom of their children which can often exceed the wisdom of supposedly more mature adults.

Our Christian Allies - Part II

The other day I did a post on the baptism I went to over the weekend at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America parish and the welcoming atmosphere the boy friend and I and my paralegal and his boyfriend experienced. It's easy to forget that not all Christians are anti-gay. A reminder of that reality is that in the wake of the Proposition 8 ruling yesterday, Lutherans Concerned issued the following statement:
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The California Supreme Court ruling is unfortunate. But, it is on a narrow legal issue regarding the scope of the change to the constitution of California created by Proposition 8, not the Court's previous ruling that LGBT people must be treated equally under the law.
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The effect of this ruling is to temporarily encourage those who believe that the rights of a minority can be taken away. Ultimately, that notion is doomed to fail: inequality cannot be dressed up to look like equality, injustice like justice, discrimination like welcome. Our prayers and our efforts are gathered toward helping the Lutheran church shine the bright > light of equal treatment, full inclusion, on the life of the church this August when it meets in assembly. That light may help the voters of California see the error of their ways.
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I hope that the ELCA Church wide Assembly upholds partnered gay clergy and sends a message that not all Christians are bigots like those among the professional Christian set.

Wednesday Male Beauty

East Coast Marriage Lunacy

Meanwhile, on the east coast in Maine, the fundies are seeking to push for a Prop 8 type rescission of Maine's recent gay marriage laws. As is always the case with these folk, truth is never an obstacle to their disingenuous rants, one of which is that same sex marriage will encourage adultery among heterosexual marriages - something that is beyond ludicrous since evangelical Christians already have the highest divorce and remarriage rate of any religious group. Moreover, the Christo-fascists claim that monogamy is not considered important by gay couples. Tell that to the boyfriend or 99.99% of the gay couples I know and you'll get a smack down. But again, with the Christianists truth never matters. Here's a highlight from the bullshit being disseminated by the Maine Marriage Alliance:
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How does your neighbor’s same-sex marriage undermine your marriage?
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Traditional societies depend on shared morals. Unfortunately, in modern times, democracies have traded absolute truths and collective morality for personal freedom.
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Legal recognition for openly non-monogamous gay unions would effectively destroy the taboo on adultery. The result is a continual downfall of families and society.
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Stanley Kurtz, a research fellow at Stanford University explains: “What we need to understand — but do not — is that gay marriage will undermine the structure of taboos that continue to protect heterosexual marriage — and will do so far more profoundly than either the elimination of sodomy laws, or the general sexual loosening of the past thirty years. Above all, marriage is protected by the ethos of monogamy — and by the associated taboo against adultery. The real danger of gay marriage is that it will undermine the taboo on adultery, thereby destroying the final bastion protecting marriage: the ethos of monogamy.”
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Remember, Stanley Kurtz has authored other bogus studies that manipulate the data to achieve the result that he seeks - precisely the type of "study" that the Christianists prefer. I'd also note that if what my boyfriend and I do or don't do in terms of monogamy threatens your marriage, I'd say your marriage is already pretty f*cked up to start.

Reactions to Prop 8 Ruling

Like many, I am greatly disturbed by the California Supreme Court's ruling yesterday to uphold Proposition 8 and can't help but wonder whether or not the justices were more concerned about avoiding threatened recall efforts than they were about upholding the promise of equality under the law under the California Constitution. Indeed, the ruling sets the stage where a group of citizens not specifically protected under the U.S. Constitution (which would trump California law) - say blonds or redheads - could be singled out for more limited legal protections than the rest of the state's citizenry if a majority of voters felt so inclined. Obviously, it is a terrible precedent and the continued fact that LGBT citizens are allowed to be treated as less than full citizens fuels the bigotry of homophobes like the judges I've had to face in my divorce case and the post divorce nightmare.
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While I have not yet read the full 135 page opinion which can be found here via Andrew Sullivan's blog, the silver lining in the ruling is that the 18,000+ marriage performed before the passage of proposition 8 will remain valid - I suspect because even the spineless justices knew that to rule otherwise would run head long into the U.S. Constitution's prohibition of ex-post facto laws. As some have noted, the continued existence of these marriages over time will hopefully demonstrate to all by the extreme Christianists that "gay marriage" is no threat whatsoever to heterosexual marriage notwithstanding the bleating of Maggie Gallagher and those like here who make a living off of sowing hatred towards others.
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The other positive in yesterday's ruling is that it appears that this decision can possibly be construed as restricting the effect of Prop 8 to the effect of removing the designation of gay civil unions as "marriage," but otherwise upholding all equal rights previously declared by the California Supreme Court even it leaves a "separate but equal" defect in California law. The ruling also appears to mean that if the opponents of gay rights should seek to restrict equal civil union rights for gays by constitutional change, any such change would be an "amendment" rather than a revision and thus would be procedurally much more difficult to accomplish since it would require action by the California Legislature.
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In short, the forces of bigotry won yesterday, but not on as large a scale as they will no doubt claim in their typically disingenuous statements to their ignorant, close-minded sheep like followers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Male Beauty

Obama's Good Intentions Are Not Enough

As the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Thus, Barack Obama may have the best of intentions towards eventually pushing through the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but in the meanwhile careers and lives of LGBT members of the military continue to be ruined. Meanwhile, Obama fiddles like Nero as Rome figuratively burns. Again, living in this area with a huge military personnel presence and knowing many gays who are in the military, this issue resonates loudly with me and underscores the idiocy of a policy that does NOTHING except enshrine religious based discrimination within the U.S. military - something that is unconstitutional on its face. Aubrey Sarvis has a column in the Huffington Post which looks at the damage being done while Obama dithers with his good intentions:
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Sunday morning on ABC's This Week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told George Stephanopoulos that they'd been talking about "don't ask, don't tell" in the Pentagon. Admiral Mullen said, "The President has made his strategic intent very clear. . . . I've had discussions with the Joint Chiefs about this. I've done certainly a lot of internal, immediate staff discussions about what the issues would be and . . . ." Sounds like a plan? No, it doesn't, and without a strong push from the White House, it won't be.
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And Chairman Mullen did make it clear on This Week that he knew what the President wanted to accomplish with respect to repealing DADT. "The President has made his strategic intent very clear," he said. "That it's his intent at some point in time to ask Congress to change the law."
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"At some point in time . . . " Now what do you suppose that means? Time is a pretty nebulous notion, and there are an infinite number of points in it. I'd like to know what particular point in time Admiral Mullen and the other deciders at the Pentagon have in mind. This month? This year? Next year? This term? Next term? Somehow, Admiral Mullen didn't convey a sense of urgency to it.
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I'm all for a "measured, deliberate" path, as Admiral Mullen put it, but at some point the White House has to have a plan to get repeal through this Congress. We have to get beyond mere intent. "Intent" is not a plan and it isn't action and so far President Obama hasn't asked Congress to change the law. The President sent his Defense Department budget up to Congress a couple weeks ago and there was no repeal language in it. That budget will be working its way through Congress over the next several months. There's still time to fix it.
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What we don't need is yet another study or national commission to look at repeal. We all know those commissions involve delay and more delay and "kicking it down the road" more that a little bit. I say, put together a working group within 30 days. Have them focus on implementing open service and charge them to report back to the President within 90 days with a detailed plan and a timeline and how to get it done in this Congress.
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Good intentions and warm handwritten notes from the President will not carry the day. They certainly did not save the career of Lieutenant Sandy Tsao who was scheduled for discharge last week. The Arabic speaking Lieutenant Dan Choi is now at risk of being discharged. Sign his petition. Urge Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley to allow Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach to keep flying. Sign the petition here. Hundreds more service members will be discharged over the next few months unless Congress and the President, and, yes, the Pentagon act.
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Good intentions are no substitute for the change our service members are counting on, especially those who might like to be relieved from a third or fourth or fifth tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. They really don't care much if the person who relieves them is gay. Would you?
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Do I prefer an Obama administration over a McCain/Palin administration? Most definitely. Do I still have respect for Obama rather than seeing him as a cynical liar who used LGBT Americans? No I do not, nor will I believe Obama in the future when he makes nice sounding pro-gay statements. The ONLY way he can regain my respect and trust is to DELIVER on his campaign promises.

My Pride and Joy

I often refer to my children as my greatest accomplishment in life and I continue to see them that way even as the former wife does her utmost to try to alienate them from me. Of all the difficulties involved with coming out in mid-life, the hardest perhaps is seeing your children less often and worrying about how your own trying to find self-acceptance of who you are will impact those you love. I'd be lying if I said it didn't cut my heart like a knife when the former wife succeeds to varying degrees in causing discord between my children and me. In fact, it's thought of having perhaps lost them that is one of the principal triggers for thoughts of suicide in me. A sense of hopelessness in the face of persecution by homophobic judges combines with that sadness to push e to the limits
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Amazingly, through it all my youngest child (pictured above) has seemed the most able to see what is really happening and has remained the most constantly true to me. I suspect that she has no idea how important she has been and always will be to me. Indeed, at times it's often only been my concern over how my death would impact her which has enabled me to push back suicidal thoughts to date. Because of her love and loyalty I wanted to post this special thank you to her. She is a true sweetheart and I love her so much - more that I suspect she will ever know.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More Memorial Day Male Beauty

Bill O'Reilly to "Pro-Marriage" Crowd: You've Lost

Although I cannot stand the man and find him to usually be an pompous, arrogant buffoon, it is nonetheless interesting that Bill O'Reilly has a message for Maggie Gallagher and similar homo-haters: they've lost the "war for marriage." While I disagree with his reasoning in significant part, it is noteworthy that a prominent member of the Faux News corps has conceded this defeat. Here are some highlights from O'Reilly's op-ed piece in the Boston Herald:
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Here’s the thing about homosexual marriage in the United States: It is going to be legal in about half the states. There is no stopping the gay nuptials now, even though most Americans say they are opposed to extending marital law to same-sex couples.
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Right now, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and Maine allow gays to marry. New Hampshire seems likely to join them soon. Once the legislatures of New York and New Jersey get finished taxing the life out of their citizens, they, too, will most likely pass gay marriage. And even though the folks in California voted down gay nuptials, the Supreme Court there is desperately trying to find a way to nullify the vote.
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Your humble correspondent doesn’t really care much about gay marriage because I believe it is no danger to the republic and the deity can sort all this stuff out after we’re dead. I take a libertarian position on issues such as gay marriage because I want all Americans to be able to pursue happiness equally.
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The truth is that pro-gay marriage forces have succeeded in their bigot-branding campaign . . . . So the gay marriage debate is just about over. Conservative states won’t pass it, but liberal states will. There was a time when we truly were united states. No longer.
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No doubt Ms. Gallagher and other professional Christians will beat the gay marriage horse for as long as possible since once they lose that cash cow they may - God forbid - have to seek out real jobs.

Job Losses Push Safer Mortgages to Foreclosure

There has been a lot of talk blaming the collapse of the real estate market on risky sub-prime loans that should never have been made. While there is truth to that story line, what is troubling is that now foreclosure risks are spreading to those who have lost jobs or those whose incomes have declined as small business revenues have plummeted due to the severe recession - a fact lost on those like my former wife and judges who have never practiced a day in private practice. Increasingly I am receiving calls from homeowners who never dreamed that they would ever be facing foreclosure who are desperate to find ways to get their loans restructured or work out some sort of forbearance agreement. The reality is that one cannot get blood out of a stone and more and more homeowners are finding that their homes no longer appraise at values like they once did. The New York Times has a story today that looks at this too often ignored reality. Here are some highlights:
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As job losses rise, growing numbers of American homeowners with once solid credit are falling behind on their mortgages, amplifying a wave of foreclosures. In the latest phase of the nation’s real estate disaster, the locus of trouble has shifted from subprime loans — those extended to home buyers with troubled credit — to the far more numerous prime loans issued to those with decent financial histories.
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With many economists anticipating that the unemployment rate will rise into the double digits from its current 8.9 percent, foreclosures are expected to accelerate. That could exacerbate bank losses, adding pressure to the financial system and the broader economy.
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“We’re about to have a big problem,” said Morris A. Davis, a real estate expert at the University of Wisconsin. “Foreclosures were bad last year? It’s going to get worse.” Economists refer to the current surge of foreclosures as the third wave, distinct from the initial spike when speculators gave up property because of plunging real estate prices, and the secondary shock, when borrowers’ introductory interest rates expired and were reset higher.
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Over all, more than four million loans worth $717 billion were in the three distressed categories in February, a jump of more than 60 percent in dollar terms compared with a year earlier. “I don’t think there’s any chance of government measures making more than a small dent,” said Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist at RBS Greenwich Capital.
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Even states seemingly removed from the real estate bubble are seeing foreclosures accelerate as the recession grinds on. In Minnesota, three of every five people seeking foreclosure counseling now have a prime loan, according to the nonprofit Minnesota Home Ownership Center.
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The picture is bleak and to date, the much vaunted programs put in place by the Obama administration have done little to stop the trend. The programs are chaotic and getting anyone who can determine whether a homeowner qualifies for a plan can take virtually hours on the phone - assuming you ever do reach a decision maker.

Memorial Day Male Beauty

Former Jacksonville Pastor Pleads Guilty in Sex Case

The Southern Baptist Convention and many other Baptist churches are not only hysterically anti-gay but would also have the world believe that gays are the biggest threat for child molestation. Of course this is untrue and represents one of the most disgusting parts of the anti-gay propaganda spin machine. Thus, I think it only fair to highlight from time to time the huge problem of predatory clergy in Baptist churches. A case in point involves Rev. Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church (which is a very large church), who faces three years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a teenage girl from his Jacksonville church and sending lewd messages to another. (Joe By God has a weekly compilation each Monday of clergy transgressions which makes for interesting reading). Here are some highlights from the Florida Times-Union on the Rev. Gilyard:
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The Rev. Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, also will be required to register as a sex offender under terms of his plea agreement. His prison sentence will be followed by three years of sex-offender probation, limiting his contact with children and where he can live and work.“You taught us the truth ... but you lived a lie,” one victim’s mother told Gilyard, 47, in court. She said she’d continue praying for him.
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Gilyard and his attorney, Hank Coxe, left court out a back door to avoid reporters. Later, Gilyard told the Times-Union he recognizes he is not yet in a position to ask for forgiveness.
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Gilyard was arrested 16 months ago. He had been charged with two counts of lewd conduct involving sexually explicit text messages sent to teenage girls and one count of lewd molestation for fondling a teenage girl whose parents brought her to him for counseling. The girls were 14 and 15 at the time.
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A Palatka native, Gilyard rose quickly to prominence after seminary. While still in his 20s, he pastored Victory Baptist Church in Texas, one of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing congregations. He was mentored by the Rev. Jerry Vines, pastor of Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, both former Southern Baptist Convention presidents.
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Gilyard left Victory amid accusations of sexual impropriety and came to Shiloh in 1993. Court records indicate the West Beaver Street church quietly settled a sexual misconduct allegation against him in 1996.Last month Gilyard and the church settled another lawsuit filed by a woman who said he raped and impregnated her during a 2004 counseling session. Terms were confidential, and no criminal charges were filed. A judge has ordered him to undergo a paternity test.
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While on probation after he leaves prison, Gilyard won’t be able to live within 1,000 feet or work at a school or other place where children regularly gather. He can have no unsupervised contact with children without court permission, must undergo psychosexual counseling and will be subject to electronic monitoring.
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I have said before, as long as the anti-gay Christianists continue to tell lies about LGBT Americans, I will endeavor to spread the truth about them.

A Fiancee Left in Limbo

Back in 2006 when The Family Foundation (James Dobson's Virginia affiliate) vigorously pushed for passage of the so-called Marshall-Newman Amendment to "ban same sex marriage" in Virginia, one important aspect of the discrimination being written into Virginia's Constitution was deliberately down played: the amendment would not only strip same sex couples of all marital like rights, but it would do the same for non-legally married heterosexual couples.
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Today many straight couples who have co-habitated in some instances for many, many years still do not realize that should either one of them die, thanks to the Christianists, they will have ABSOLUTELY ZERO rights to their partners assets, retirement, etc., unless they have proper wills in place and held title to assets as joint tenants with right of survivorship. This result is part of the larger Christianist goal to legally punish all those who do not marry or otherwise live their lives according to Christianist religious beliefs. A story from the Washington Post about the fiancee of a member of the U.S. military hopefully will wake some people up to this reality:
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So much now depends on the ring. For Kyle Harper, there are few other signs remaining of the life she should have had with her fiance. For the longest time, she kept the diamond engagement ring on her finger. It proved what the world at times refused to acknowledge: that she had mattered to Sgt. Michael Hullender.
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When Michael was killed on a dusty road in Iraq, Kyle, now 27, got her first inkling from a roommate who told her Michael's parents had called. There was no knock on the door, no official phone call or notification. Later, when she tried to obtain the things he left behind -- an old T-shirt, his dog tags, little mementos from his quarters -- she found herself floating in legal limbo, with no rights to his effects or his name.
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[O]nly the marriage certificate counts. As a result, the military had to treat Kyle the way it does all fiancees -- as though she had no relationship with Michael. All the Army could offer were condolences. There would be no grief counseling, no casualty pay, no say in his burial. Those rights fell to his next of kin. And even there, after his death, a few in his family sided with the military. After all, they pointed out, they had known Michael his whole life. She had met him only in his last years. Rifts formed. Words were exchanged.
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[A]n obscure 2004 survey by a West Point researcher estimating that 25 percent of soldiers in Iraq have "significant others" who are not spouses. The stories behind those numbers vary along with each couple's reasons for not tying the knot. Some simply aren't ready; others don't believe in the institution.
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When someone is killed like that, she said, a strange impulse creeps up among the survivors to rank their pain against one another's: father, best friend, sister, fiancee. It's a pointless exercise, though. In the end, everyone loses.
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It is a sad story made even sadder by the fact that proper legal documentation could have insured that Kyle would not have treated as a total legal stranger to Michael.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Sunday Male Beauty

Who Is the More Selfish?

I get attacked frequently - usually by someone "anonymous," but not always - who accuse me of having been "selfish" for coming out of the closet and thereby causing upheaval to my former wife and family. According to these folks, I - and by analogy all gays and lesbians who married in a desperate effort to be what family, society, and our respective religious traditions told us we had to be - should forever remain in the closet and embrace a life sentence of unhappiness and no chance of finding self acceptance. In short, for the benefit of others we should accept a life time of unhappiness and it is not selfish of our families to want to condemn us to such a life.
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In some ways I'm not surprised by such comments since I suspect than most are made by Christianists who really care nothing about whether or not LGBT Americans are happy in their lives - and who, in fact, probably would like to see us all dead or at least invisible. But then there are others who make the same kind of comments even as they claim to allegedly care about me/us. They would condemn us to the same life sentence of unhappiness.
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If deciding to come out is "selfish," isn't even more selfish for a straight spouse - such as my former wife - to demand that a gay spouse should go back in the closet and never, ever come out (I can still picture where we were standing when this demand was made) so that the straight spouse's world remains undisturbed? Frankly, in my view such a demand shows that the straight spouse in reality cares nothing about the gay spouse - and likely never did in truth. Instead, the straight spouse's comfort, life style, and avoidance of perceived social embarrassment are more important that whether the gay spouse is condemned to a life of living Hell. In my own case, when I did not agree to that demand, I was then told to move out. Then when I did so, I was subsequently accused of "walking away from my family." Even though I drove myself into bankruptcy trying to continue to take care of them.
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Again, which is more selfish action: (1) to come out and try to accept one's sexual orientation and refuse to continue to live a lie, or (2) demand that someone live a lie for the rest of their life, knowing that to do so will cause them unhappiness and self-hate - just so the straight spouse/children's comfortable lifestyle isn't disturbed? It's an issue that I have thought about alot of late as the post-divorce nastiness and attacks have reached incendiary levels. Should I have sold my soul and remained an unhappy person so that others could avoid disruptions in their lives? To date, the former wife and the homophobic judges I've faced have resoundingly viewed me as the selfish one and done all in their power to punish me. As for my children, other than in the case of my youngest child, the verdict seems to still be out and fluctuates.
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I'd like to know what others think. Did I do something horrible in coming out? Or did others demand something even more horrible in demanding that I live a life of inner turmoild and self-hate? Who is the more selfish?

Welcoming Christians

I talk a great deal about the less than Christian "godly Christians" who make the dissemination of anti-gay hatred and lies the lynch pin of their alleged Christian faith. In addition to gays, many of these churches and professional Christian organizations like Focus on the Family (and its Virginia affiliate, The Family Foundation), Family Research Council, American Family Association, and Concerned Women for America, hate many more people and groups besides just gays. Blacks, Hispanics, non-Christians, and immigrants are also on the roster of classes of people these un-godly folk would just as soon see disappear from the American landscape. In short, the version of Christianity that they peddle is a strong indictment against anyone wanting to be called a Christian.
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Often lost in all of this hate filled noise is the fact that there ARE churches and denominations which are welcoming to all. I was reminded of this today when the boyfriend and I attended the baptism of my office manager's young daughters at a small Evangelical Lutheran Church of America parish. Performing the baptisms was the Bishop of Virginia's assistant, a full ordained pastor in her own right, and also in attendance were my young paralegal and his boyfriend and the secretary for the Bishop's office (which sub-lets space from me) and her husband and family. The church is much smaller than my ELCA parish in the Ghent area of Norfolk, but there was the same feeling that all were welcomed. Indeed, we two gay couples were warmly embraced and not a soul flinched when the four of us, each with our respective partner, went up to the communion rail were we received communion from the Bishop's assistant. This is the face of true Christian conduct and what - at least in my view - all Christian denominations should be like.
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As retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong has written often, the ultra- conservative, anti-gay Christians over the long term are killing Christianity. With increased medical and mental health knowledge about sexual orientation and ever expanding scientific knowledge on a host of issues, at some point either the rigid Bible beating form of Christianity must adapt to the modern, educated world, or else it will eventual die as it becomes ever more irrelevant and looks increasingly as nothing more than ancient superstitious belief used as an excuse for bigotry. In short, some of those who most loudly proclaim that they love their faith - and it's usually the far right element that do this - are the ones making the strongest argument for Christianity's demise due to their hatred of so many people and intolerance for anyone not precisely like themselves.