Saturday, April 07, 2012

More Saturday Male Beauty

Mormons Working to Overturn Maryland Gay Marriage Law

Like the Catholic bishops, many in the Mormon Church hold contempt for the concept of religious liberty for others. They - like the child rapist protecting bishops - are only happy when they are forcing others to live their lives in accordance with Mormon religious beliefs. Now, as the Washington Blade reports, the members of the Mormon Church are seeking to mobilize Mormons in Maryland to push to overturn the recently enacted same sex marriage laws in that state. One can only wish we could start a referendum to wipe out the civil rights of Mormons to let them experience the type of bigotry they so willingly inflict on others. I hope that this effort to write religion into Maryland's laws will remind voters that Mitt Romney is a loyal Mormon who gave $10,000 to take away the rights of same sex couples in California. Here are highlights from the Blade story:

Members of the Mormon Church in Maryland are working to overturn the state’s recently passed marriage equality law, according to an email obtained by the Washington Blade. In the message dated March 29 sent to D.C. and Southern Maryland-area church members, the writer states that a coalition of inter-denominational Maryland churches has joined to place a referendum before voters in November on the marriage law before it goes into effect.

“We need to collect approximately 200,000 signatures by the end of May,” the email states. “We are looking for people to gather signatures within the LDS community.” LDS refers to the church’s formal name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those involved with the effort have told the Blade the message isn’t an official message from church leadership either at the local level or from its headquarters in Salt Lake City, but is rather part of a local ad hoc effort to challenge Maryland’s marriage law.

An informed source said the email was sent to the entire congregation in D.C. and Southern Maryland, which consists of between 500 and 1,500 church members and former members. According to the source, the author is Wallace, one of the named organizers in the email and wife of one of the junior pastors of the congregation.

The LDS member named in the email as leading the effort, Schaerr, who failed in her bid to win a seat in 2010 on the Montgomery County School Board, isn’t a stranger to anti-gay activism. In 2007, Schaerr was reportedly a board member of the Fairfax, Va.-based Family Leader Network, an organization that — along with Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays — led the effort against a Montgomery County law instituting lessons for 8th through 10th grade students on safe-sex practices that included gays.

Wallace, the other named person in the email, was also involved in the fight against the curriculum. According to an LDS publication called Meridian Magazine, Wallace objected to the gay-inclusive Montgomery County sex ed curriculum, and attended a school board meeting while holding a sign expressing her opinion. The article is no longer on the magazine’s website, but has been reposted on a Mormon online forum.

The Mormon Church is disavowing any involvement in the organizational effort proposed in the email. Dale Jones, an LDS spokesperson, said the church has no direct involvement in the effort to overturn the marriage law in Maryland.

Note the wording of the denial: "No direct involvement." Does that mean the Mormon Church supports the effort but is merely denying support with a wink and a nod to Mormon Church members?

Former Altar Boy Details Sexual Abuse in Philadelphia Priests' Trial

Even as the Catholic bishops continue their war on women and gays - even going so far as to cut off funding for small, local, and critical non-profit organizations that help minorities and the poor, if they demonstrate support for gay marriage, or any other issue the Catholic Church deems offensive (see The New Civil Rights Movement) - the true cesspool nature of the Church hierarchy continues to unfold in the ongoing trial of Monsignor Lynn and predator priests in Philadelphia. Personally, I don't understand how anyone can listen to the disingenuous and falsely pious statements from the bishops, a number of whom ought to be behind bars for their rolls in protecting sexual predators. Here are highlights from the Philadelphia Inquirer on the latest trial developments:

During three hours of emotional and sometimes contentious testimony, a former Bucks County altar boy Wednesday described how a priest in the landmark child-sex abuse and conspiracy trial molested him during an overnight visit when he was 14.

The man, now 30, broke down several times recounting the alleged 1996 assault by the Rev. James J. Brennan that he said plunged him into a spiral of drugs and crime and still haunts him.

He said Brennan, his onetime parish priest and a longtime family friend, showed him online sex-chat rooms, proposed they masturbate, then ordered him into a bed where, clad in plaid boxer shorts, the cleric pulled him close and pressed his private parts against the boy.

The developments were the most dramatic - and likely the most significant - since the trial began last week for Brennan and Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

A nearly packed courtroom listened as the man outlined the details of an alleged assault that he said pushed him to the brink of suicide, and then watched as the lawyers parsed his words, drew anatomical sketches for jurors, and quibbled over the definition of spooning in bed.

The jury had already heard from four other alleged abuse victims, but each had described being molested decades ago by priests who have been defrocked, died or are not charged in the case. Unlike those claims, the Bucks County man's allegation fell within a newly amended criminal statute of limitations for child-sex crimes and became a cornerstone of the February 2011 grand jury report that led to the trial against Lynn and Brennan.

Prosecutors say Lynn, as the official who recommended archdiocesan priests' assignments and investigated their misconduct, enabled or covered up abuse by failing to act against priests suspected or known to abuse children. One such priest, they say, was Brennan, who has been on restricted ministry since the accusation emerged in 2006.

Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford, Florida

While pundits on the right have jumped to the defense of George Zimmerman - the shooter in the Trayvon Martin killing - some of their extreme political have gone even further. Now armed members of National Socialist Movement have fielded armed members to patrol in Sanford, Florida, to "protect white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety"- even as the conservative pundits and NRA supporters say that its blacks and liberals who are blowing the shooting of Martin out of proportion. Here's what the Southern Poverty Law Center says in part about the National Socialist Movement:

NSM ideology mirrors that of the original American Nazi Party. The group openly idolizes Adolf Hitler, described in NSM propaganda as, “Our Fuhrer, the beloved Holy Father of our age … a visionary in every respect.” NSM says only heterosexual “pure-blood whites” should be allowed U.S. citizenship and that all nonwhites should be deported, regardless of legal status. As Schoep put it: “The Constitution was written by white men alone. Therefore, it was intended for whites alone.”

One cannot help but ask WTF is going on in Sanford. Here are highlights from the Miami New Times on the activities of these self-avowed racists in Sanford (something makes me suspect these folks are exactly gay friendly either):

Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are "prepared" for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect "white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety" in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. "We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it," he says. "We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over."

Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community. Schoep, whose neo-Nazi group is based in Detroit, tells Riptide the patrols are a response to white residents' fears of a race riot.

The patrols are comprised of between 10 and 20 locals and "volunteers" from across the state, including some from Miami, he added. He couldn't go into specifics on what kind of firepower, exactly, the patrols had with them. . . . Asked if the patrols wouldn't just make things worse -- spark a race riot, for instance -- Schoep insisted they were simply a "show of solidarity with the white community down there" and "wouldn't intimidate anybody."

To some, sending in the storm troops seems like a sure way to incite -- not prevent -- a race riot. But Schoep says that's way off base.

"We don't wish for things like that," he says. "But there have been race riots in Detroit and L.A... So we know those types of things happen." "You can either be prepared or you can be blindsided," he adds. "This way, if something were to touch off a race riot, we'd already be in the area."

Ironically, Schoep cites actions by Al Sharpton, but I don't recall ever seeing Sharpton and those at rallies with him carrying automatic assault rifles. True, there are extremists on the left, but these folks are truly scary and in my opinion a strong argument for strict gun control laws. No one needs to be walking around with automatic assault rifles.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

A National Review Writer's Racist Screed

UPDATED: While some argue that Derbyshire's post was done in jest, perhaps it wasn't. This from Rich Lowry at National Review:

Needless to say, no one at National Review shares Derb’s appalling view of what parents supposedly should tell their kids about blacks in this instantly notorious piece here.

I have often felt that today's Republican Party is increasingly racist and that often one sees GOP candidates using coded messages to win the votes of racists. Some of Newt Gingrich's batshitery is a prime example. Now, in a wildly racist screed, John Derbyshire (pictured at left) of the National Review has thrown this often denied racism out in the bright light of day. It's beyond shocking, but I suspect his views are held by many in the GOP base who hold contempt - or worse - for all but those who are white, heterosexual conservative Christians. Think Progress looks at this wildly racist rant. Here are highlights:

Popular conservative columnist and National Review writer John Derbyshire topped all of his previous racistscreeds (and sexist rants) today by posting a long breakdown of all of the important lessons he has taught his children about race — and he’s outdone his own racism with this one.

Derbyshire wrote the column in the third person, as a list of lessons to his kids about race. . . . he cuts to the heart of his lessons for his children:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”

We need to thank Derbyshire for being honest enough to openly state what so many of his conservative cohorts are thinking.

Is Homophobia Actually Self-Phobia?

I've often noted that the extreme homophobia displayed by some of the leading anti-gay Christianists - and I'd include GOP presidential want to be Rick Santorum in this group - suggests to me that these individuals doth protest too much. Now, a new study from the University of Rochester tends to support the premise that the loudest homophobes hysteria really comes from their own deeply repressed homoerotic feelings. These findings are in line with past findings that homophobic men were most aroused by watching gay porn. As I suggested to Robert Knight years ago, perhaps he simply needs to hire a hot gay escort and face reality. Needless to say, he wasn't amused. But seriously, Knight, Tony Perkins, Matt Barber, Peter Sprigg, Bryan Fischer, and a number of others need to focus on their own screwed up psyches rather than attacking others who are merely living their lives as these men apparently only fantasize about. First some highlights from USA Today on the study:

A new study suggests intense hostility toward homosexuals may be linked to a repressed same-sex attraction, combined with an authoritarian upbringing.

Though such factors are not the only cause of homophobia, the findings suggest those "who have a discrepancy within themselves about their expressed vs. unconscious sexual attraction find gay and lesbian people more threatening and are more likely to express prejudice and discrimination toward them," says University of Rochester psychology professor Richard Ryan, co-author of the study, which is published in the April Journalof Personality and Social Psychology. Also an author is Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex, England.

The blocking of unconscious desires by adopting an opposite view is a well-known psychoanalytic concept, suggested by Freud and others. The new study uses "modern methods that allow us to more reliably peer into these less explicitly available parts of peoples' psyches and see what's arising," Ryan says.

The findings suggest participants with accepting parents were more in touch with their innate sexual orientation. But, Ryan says, "if you come from a controlling home where your parents do have negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians, you're even more likely to suppress same-sex attraction and more likely to have this discrepancy that leads to having homophobia and feeling threatened."

Ryan says the study may help explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and sheds light on high-profile cases in which public figures who have expressed anti-gay views have been caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts. "Some people who are threatened by gays and lesbians and are most vociferous in their opposition to them are suffering internally themselves," he says.

More details on the study findings are available at Here are a few more details:

Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.

The study is the first to document the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies.

“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author.

“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research.

People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets threaten and bring this internal conflict to the forefront, the authors write.

“In a predominately heterosexual society, ‘know thyself’ can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying,” explains Weinstein. These individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress that part of themselves, she said.

In addition, participants who reported themselves to be more heterosexual than their performance on the reaction time task indicated were most likely to react with hostility to gay others, the studies showed. That incongruence between implicit and explicit measures of sexual orientation predicted a variety of homophobic behaviors, . . . .

Bottom line, the next time you hear a professional Christian engaged in a homophobic rant, we all will know what is likely really going on. I just wished they would focus their self-hate on themselves and leave the rest of us alone.

Women's Issues - Republicans Just Don’t Get It

As the Republicans stridently deny that they are waging a war on women I cannot help but be reminded of a parallel: the horrifically anti-gay Christianists who claim to "love" gays even as they "hate the sin." As if depicting gays as diseased vermin out to molest children and destroy western civilization are stellar examples of who one displays love. So it is with the GOP and women. As a piece in Salon by Joan Walsh asks "when Republicans are repealing equal pay laws and proposing federal budgets that disproportionately hurt women, as well as restricting funding for contraception, who’s playing politics with women’s issues?" Like the Christianists, the Republicans (perhaps the two are now synonymous?) think they can lie with abandon and everyone - especially women - are too stupid to figure out the truth. Here are more details from Salon on Republican actions compared to GOP claims that the "war on women" is a fabrication created by Democrats:

Just as Mitt Romney was making the case to Newsmax, that paragon of journalistic integrity, that the so-called Republican war on women is entirely concocted by Democrats, Republican Scott Walker was quietly signing a law that repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement law, which made it easier for women to seek damages in discrimination cases. Driven by state business lobbies, the repeal passed the GOP-dominated Legislature on a strict party line vote, and Walker signed it, with no comment, Thursday afternoon.

President Obama, meanwhile, was hosting a White House summit on women and the economy Thursday. Predictably, Republicans howled that the president is merely courting another “interest group” and playing politics.

When GOP poster boy Scott Walker is repealing equal-pay protections for women, why shouldn’t Obama remind us that he signed the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act? Since the Ryan budget repeals “Obamacare” and slashes Medicaid and Medicare – both of which disproportionately serve women — is it unfair to talk about how the Affordable Care Act provides cost-free contraception, preventive care like mammograms and Pap smears, and outlaws charging women more for insurance?

I continue to find it hilarious that Republicans insist that their troubles with women are the fault of nasty Democrats. Contraception aside, they’re the ones cutting programs for women and repealing equal pay protection. . . . Democrats didn’t crusade to defund Planned Parenthood. Democrats didn’t introduce personhood legislation that would outlaw certain types of contraception. They didn’t propose the Blunt amendment that would have allowed employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception as well as any health care treatment they don’t approve of.

[A] recent USA Today poll found that women in swing states say their number one issue is women’s health care (men say deficits and the economy), and that makes an interesting point: Women see contraception as an integral part of their overall health care – as it is. We know that most women who use the pill, for instance, use it for a health reason other than contraception only. Republicans are the ones fetishizing birth control and putting it outside the boundaries of women’s health care.

Mitt Romney and the GOP just don’t get it. Everything about the way they’re approaching these issues is backfiring.

The Republicans are reaping what they have sown and it's wonderful to see that women aren't falling for the disingenuous lies that there's not a war on women.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Conservatives Against North Carolina Amendment 1

Click image to enlarge.

These arguments set out above speak for themselves. It's time to get religious extremism out of the civil laws - and state constitutions.

Navy Jet Crashes into Apartment Complex in Virginia Beach

In this area of heavy military presence seeing both Navy jets on the southside and Air Force jets on the Peninsula is a common occurence and in some areas the roar of jet noise is so frequent that it almost goes unnoticed. Today, that changed for many in Virginia Beach where a Navy F/A-18 Hornet experienced trouble on take off and slammed into an apartment complex on Fleming Circle at Birdneck Road. Information on casualties is still uncertain. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot available so far:

Two pilots ejected from a Navy F/A-18 Hornet this afternoon shortly before the plane apparently slammed into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex on Fleming Circle at Birdneck Road. A witness said half the building appeared to be missing. Cmdr. Phil Rosi, a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic, said both aviators safely ejected from the plane, which appeared to encounter difficulties shortly after takeoff. The jet, a two-seater, belongs to VFA (Strike Fighter Squadron) 106, a training squadron for student pilots.

The fire was mostly under control, but had not been declared out. Two buildings were on fire after the crash at 12:05 p.m., but several more were affected, Riley said. Virginia State Police have shut down Interstate 264 in both directions at Laskin Road, said spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Anaya.

Hopefully, no one was in the apartment building that suffered a direct hit and which was apparently largely destroyed.

More Friday Male Beauty

UK Gays Have Lower Divorce Rates Than Straights

Statistics out of the UK will likely cause some exploding heads amongst the Christofacists set and likely make Maggie Gallagher wet herself. Using the same time frame and tracking the dissolution of civil partnerships versus civil marriages in the UK, gay male couples have a split rate less than half that of straight couples. It would seem that gays - especially gay males - honor the sanctity of marriage more than heterosexuals. But then again, I guess that should be no surprise: evangelical Christians in the Bible Belt have the highest divorce rate. Andrew Sullivan has the details that confirm that gays have a lower divorce rate:

In Britain, they do, by quite a margin. There's some fascinating and counter-intuitive data that back it up (it's not apples to apples since civil partnerships do not carry the social status of civil marriages, but it's not far off, since British CPs are identical in rights to CMs.) But this is a striking result:

The most recent evidence from the UK Office of National Statistics finds that homosexual couples that joined in 2005 were significantly less likely to have filed for dissolution four years later than heterosexual couples were to have filed for divorce: 2.5% compared to 5.5%. As Hattersley points out, however, male couples were much less likely to dissolve their relationship than were female couples: By the end of 2010, 1.6 % of male civil partnerships had ended in dissolution compared to 3.3 % of female partnerships.

This data may shift again over time. But who predicted that gay marriages would have lower divorce rates than straight marriages? Not me. And who predicted that gay men would last longer in marriage than lesbians? No one. So the one thing Jesus insisted on in marriage - no divorce - is now best upheld by gay male marriages. (Cut to Gary Bauer's head exploding)

Is It Too Late for Mitt Romney and Republicans?

I sure the Bible beater and Tea Party factions in the GOP base will be none too happy with Meghan McCain's latest column at The Daily Beast which reflects on the Republican Party's seemingly lack luster prospects in 2012. What I like best about her piece is that she recognizes that instead of moderating the GOP agenda and appealing to a broader base of voters, the GOP has raced to the far right and pandered to not only a nasty group of voters, but a party base that reject modernity, rejects religious freedom for all but themselves, rejects science, and who represent a dwindling group of semi-racist (if not out right racist) who want a patriarchy run by white males (straight ones, of course) and who thankfully will have died off within a couple more election cycles. Here are some column highlights (I love her evaluation of Santorum):

Right now, I’m in the middle of a 2012 election hangover, where I wonder what exactly has happened to make this election cycle seem like a long journey of lambs to the slaughter. Somewhere between the frighteningly delusional Santorum campaign and Mitt Romney’s incapability of doing anything spontaneous, we are actually having a debate about if birth control should be banned or if women that use birth control are “sluts.” I’ve hit my limit here.

What happened after we lost in 2008—and why are we worse off now? It’s like the Republican Party decided to ignore calls from moderates for a more open-minded party and we’re going, full-steam ahead, in the opposite direction. For electing the next president of the United States, these are my options:

(1) Santorum, who is a lunatic, right-wing fringe candidate that is hanging on to his candidacy for no other reason than, once this election cycle is over, he knows no one will ever listen to him again. I half expect Santorum to start throwing a tantrum on stage after he loses yet another primary and scream: “If I’m not going to be the nominee, no one is!”

(2) Then, there is Newt Gingrich, the over-blown relic of the 90s, with so much baggage and anger that he really should move to a country where he can
be dictator.

(3) Finally, there’s my boy Mitt—whom, yes, I support and no matter what, will vote for but…as his wife has even admitted “needs to unzip.”

As I sit on my couch watching the commentators night after night, I am overwhelmed by a sense of panic that this election is quite possibly already over. . . . Why do Republicans continue to value “purification” and bloodletting over winning elections? What the hell is wrong with the Republican Party?!?

The right-wing conservatives are so entitled in their snobbery that no one is ever good enough for them, so the rest of us, especially moderates, must suffer. Apparently, we would still rather have a Democrat in office than a moderate Republican. We’ve botched this election cycle so badly, I’m scared it might be too late.

The GOP's real problem is that it sold its soul to the Christianist extremist and those who openly embrace ignorance years ago and the long term cost is coming home to roost. Meanwhile I and many former Republicans can only shake our heads in dismay.

A Much Needed Message to Christianists

This church sign truly says it all. The "godly Christian" crowd and professional Christians like Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and a host of others have made Christianity into something foul and ugly. It's a message these self-congratulatory modern day Pharisees need to hear - not that they will heed the message. Meanwhile, if Christ were to return, he'd be hanging out with those scorned by the pious ones - just as he did in so many passages in the Bible. Hatred and contempt towards others are not Christ like values.

WIll North Carolina Sully Its Constitution?

The Virginian Pilot is not always overly friendly to LGBT issues - perhaps because some in the Batten family that control the newspaper are big supporters of what I in my opinion are Christianist organizations. Therefore, it's a pleasant surprise to see the today's main editorial in the Virginian Pilot (the papers area of circulation includes a piece of northeastern North Carolina) slam the Amendment 1 effort in North Carolina which seeks to write the same anti-gay bigotry into that state's constitution as was done in Virginia in 2006. For those who don't know, in Virginia household pets have higher standing under the law than LGBT Virginians who are open game for all kinds of discrimination be it in employment, housing, benefits, and of course in terms of absolutely zero recognition of of committed live relationships. True to form, the haters in North Carolina are seeking to dress Amendment 1 up as a protection of religious freedom rather than the embedding of special rights for Christians in the state's Constitution. Here are excerpts from the editorial:

Some things simply shouldn't be subject to a popular vote. Many have forgotten - including several current members of the U.S. Supreme Court - but the Constitution exists to protect the minority from the tyranny of majorities.

It often takes too long for society to realize how far the Constitution's principles extend. In its application, the Constitution protects women from discrimination based on gender. It protects everyone from segregation based on race. It protects people from being persecuted based on who they are.

Sadly, society has been far too slow in extending such obvious protections to homosexuals. Instead, politicians have left basic civil rights for gay Americans to the will of the heterosexual majority.

In some cases, that devolution has been for nakedly partisan reasons - to ensure electoral turnout. In some cases, the decision was left to voters because cowardice prevents lawmakers from doing what's right, what America's founding principles demand.

So Virginia, in 2006, sullied its own state constitution with a reprehensible bit of incoherent disenfranchisement. . . . That constitutional abomination remains largely untested, but even a plain reading should set off warnings about its impact on contracts, insurance policies and criminal justice, to say nothing of civil law. Yet Virginia voters approved it anyway, subjecting the fate of a minority of gay Virginians to the will of everyone else.

North Carolina gets its turn in May. Tellingly, it's the only state in the South without a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage. But now that Republicans are in control of the state Senate, an amendment that had repeatedly died in committee will get its spot on the May 8 ballot . . .

To say North Carolina's marriage amendment is better than Virginia's is no praise. It directly addresses one of the major shortcomings in Virginia's version by explicitly preserving the rights of gay people to enter into contracts. But it still leaves the fundamental rights of a minority subject to the patience and good will of a majority. And that is wrong.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Did Jesus Really Exist?

I've noted a number of times the ongoing gyrations amongst the far right Christianists in response to the fact that human genome research has proven that the Adam and Eve of the Bible did not exist. That's right, they were not historic individuals who really existed. The implications for the Christian storyline are earth shattering: no Adam and Eve, no fall, no need for a resurrected Messiah. A new cat fight among biblical scholars involves the question of whether or not Jesus really existed. In "Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth," New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman - I've read a number of his books - comes to the conclusion that there was a historical Jesus. Beyond his historical existence, however, the rest of the Christian story line - that Jesus was the son of God or divine in any way, was born of a virgin or resurrected, or is the way to salvation - remains unconfirmed and open to debate. At least from a hard, factual historical basis. Here are highlights from Huffington Post on Ehrman's book and the debate:

For years, nonbelievers rejoiced at the publication of a new book by New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, relishing the professor's pugnacious attacks on the cherished beliefs of evangelical Christians.

But in his latest offering, the University of North Carolina historian and author of such provocative titles as "Misquoting Jesus," "Forged," and "Jesus Interrupted," targets the very crowd that formed the bulk of his audience.

In "Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth," Ehrman soundly refutes the arguments -- sometimes made by atheists, agnostics and humanists -- that early storytellers invented Jesus.

Ehrman, an agnostic, convincingly demonstrates in clear, forceful prose that there was a historical Jesus, a Jewish teacher of the first century who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.

The fact that Ehrman is siding with Christians on the historical truth of Jesus does not indicate a change of heart, much less a conversion. Instead, he said, it's an attempt to say, "history matters."

Ehrman points out that only about 3 percent of Jews in Jesus' time were literate, and Romans never kept detailed records. (Decades after Jesus' crucifixion, three Roman writers mention Jesus in passing, as does the Jewish historian Josephus.) Though the Gospel accounts are biased, they cannot be discounted as non-historical. As for Jesus being a Jewish version of the pagan dying and rising god, Ehrman shows that there is no evidence the Jews of Jesus' day worshipped pagan gods. If anything, Jesus was deeply rooted in Jewish, rather than Roman, traditions.

While the Jewish tradition of the 1st century did not worship pagan gods, the traditions of death and resurrection gods and goddesses long predated the time of Jesus and included among others the cult of Isis and Osiris, Mithras and others. Indeed, the cult of Mithras was extremely popular among the ranks of the Roman legions during the time of Christ. I don't deny that Christ existed. I do question as to what the truth is about his ministry and his death and resurrection. Given that the Bible is 100% wrong on the issue of Adam and Eve and the leadership of the Catholic Church has shown its willingness to rewrite history to suit its agenda, I often believe that we will never know the real truth.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

More Bad News for the GOP: 59% of Latinos Support Gay Marriage

This blog often notes to apparent long term suicide plan of the Republican Party. Why else would the GOP go out of its way to embrace policies that drive away younger voters, Hispanic voters, women voters and pretty much every minority group that cannot be described as elder, white and far right Christian? Politico is reporting on a new poll of Hispanic voters that holds no good news for the GOP or the folks at the National Organization for Marriage which wants to dupe Hispanics - who the lily white leadership at NOM despises - into carrying NOM's anti-gay message. Its refreshing that Hispanic voters seem to understand that NOM and its allies make tawdry prostitutes look virtuous. Here are some story highlights:

Latinos are more likely than other Americans to say they’re liberal, according to a poll out Wednesday. Three out of 10 Latino adults say they consider themselves liberal compared to 21 percent of the general U.S. public, the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2011 National Survey of Latinos poll found. And more native-born Hispanics than immigrant Hispanics say they are “very liberal” or “liberal,” 34 percent to 27 percent.

On social issues, Hispanics hold more conservative views on abortion than does the general U.S. public, but they share similar opinions on accepting homosexuality in society.

On the issue of whether homosexuality should be accepted by society, a majority — 59 percent — say that it should. Just 30 percent told pollsters it should be discouraged. Those numbers line up with the general U.S. public, with 58 percent saying homosexuality should be accepted, and 33 percent saying it should be discouraged. Again, there is a slight difference by immigrant generation: 53 percent of immigrant Hispanics say it should be accepted, and it jumps to 68 percent among second-generation Hispanics. Like the general public, more Hispanics who are younger say homosexuality should be accepted, with 69 percent of 18- to-29-year-olds and 60 percent of 30- to-49-year-olds telling pollsters that society should not discourage it.

Somehow, I cannot find it in my heart to shed any tears over the long term suicide plan of the GOP. One can only hope that as the GOP dies the foul political influence of the Christianists will die with it. With luck, the death rattles will start with the 2012 elections.

Chile Passes Gay Discrimination Protections Following Daniel Zamudio's Death

It's sad that sometimes it takes a horrific tragedy to prompt legislation that should have been passed years ago. It's also sad that the USA id falling further and further behind other nations in granting all of its citizens non-discrimination protections. What am I talking about? Chile has passed laws enacting LGBT non-discrimination protections in the wake of the horrible death of Daniel Zamudio (pictured above) who was beaten by Neo-Nazis because of his sexual orientation. Meanwhile, LGBT citizens in the USA still have zero federal level protections of this type (here in Virginia, we have none at the state level either). The Washington Post has coverage on this progress in Chile. Here are highlights:

Chile’s Congress passed an anti-discrimination law Wednesday following the killing of a gay man whose attackers beat him and carved swastikas into his body. The House of Deputies approved the law in a close 58-56 vote, seven years after it was first proposed. The Senate passed the law in November.

President Sebastian Pinera had urged lawmakers to accelerate approval of the law after 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio died March 27. Zamudio’s death came more than three weeks after he was attacked, and his case set off a national debate about hate crimes in Chile.

Four suspects have been jailed, some of whom already have criminal records for attacks on gays. Prosecutors have asked for murder charges in the case.

Zamudio, a clothing store salesman, was attacked in a park in Santiago on March 3. The suspects allegedly beat him for an hour, burning him with cigarettes and carving Nazi symbols into his body. After Zamudio died last week, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for Chile to pass new laws against hate crimes and discrimination.

Some Protestant churches had opposed the anti-discrimination law, saying it could be a first step toward gay marriage, which Chile forbids and which is not explicitly included in the measure. The Roman Catholic Church also expressed some concerns about the law.

The law describes as illegal discrimination “any distinction, exclusion or restriction that lacks reasonable justification, committed by agents of the state or individuals, and that causes the deprivation, disturbance or threatens the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights.”

Note that the Catholic Church and other "godly Christian" types opposed the legislation. Once again, we see Christianity as a foul and toxic force in favor of discrimination and bigotry and the mistreatment of others. WWJD?

U.S. A. Ranks Last In Preventable Death Rankings

I know I seem to be beating a dead horse at times, but the obscene hypocrisy of the Republican Party - that wraps itself in religiosity time and time again - in the context of opposing health care reform is more than I can stand at times. A new study that compares the number of preventable deaths - i.e., deaths that could have been avoided - had preventive health care services been available ranks the USA dead last out of 19 industrial nations. Which country comes in first? France, the country the GOP and the Christianist Kool-Aid drinkers in the GOP base love to malign and denigrate. According to the study, the USA experiences over 100,000 avoidable deaths every year because of the broken health care system that treats citizens as disposable trash. The figures are an indictment of the GOP and the conservative Christians who back its foul policies. I cannot help but think that from the GOP perspective since many of those dying needlessly are poor and/or minorities, the deaths simply do not matter. Just like LGBT lives don't matter to this modern day Pharisees. Here are highlights from Reuters:

France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.

If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tracked deaths that they deemed could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care, and ranked nations on how they did. They called such deaths an important way to gauge the performance of a country's health care system.

In establishing their rankings, the researchers considered deaths before age 75 from numerous causes, including heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, certain bacterial infections and complications of common surgical procedures.Such deaths accounted for 23 percent of overall deaths in men and 32 percent of deaths in women, the researchers said.

France did best -- with 64.8 deaths deemed preventable by timely and effective health care per 100,000 people, . . . . The United States had 109.7 such deaths per 100,000 people, the researchers said.

After the top three, Spain was fourth best, followed in order by Italy, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Austria, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Britain, Ireland and Portugal, with the United States last.

The GOP and its Christianist base love to bloviate about the USA being a "Christian nation" - not according to these results. Rather than emulating the Good Samaritan, the Christianists act like the priest and Levite in the Gospel parable. If these folks are "Christians," then I want nothing to do with that moniker.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Christianists Weigh Santorum's Chances as Polls Show Romney Ahead in Pennsylvania

The Christianist base of the GOP has largely at this point put all its eggs in the Rick Santorum basket and, thankfully, it appears that this will have been a big mistake as Frothy Mix's chances of winning the GOP nomination seem to wither more by the day. Adding to this feeling of doom are poll results that suggest Rick "Man on Dog: Santorum will not even be able to win in his home state. All of this is a good thing over all because it may weaken the Christianist grasp on the GOP, even though more of Santorum's batshitery might have force Romney into more gaffes and pandering to the Kool-Aid drinking crowd. A piece in Politico looks at the Christianist bind. Here are highlights:

For Rick Santorum’s most ardent admirers, the most difficult part of the 2012 campaign has officially begun. With the Republican establishment swinging hard behind Mitt Romney, the delegate math looking grim and his own funds running low, Santorum must now rely more than ever on the loyalty of his Christian conservative base to carry him through a set of primaries that could be fatal to his campaign.

Following a bad primary night in Wisconsin and other states, there are signs that Santorum’s backers, who are as supportive of his cause as ever, are beginning to feel that the race has slipped away. With an array of voices arguing that the general election campaign has begun, there’s a sense that the cost of actively boosting Santorum’s campaign may soon become prohibitive.

The evangelical and anti-abortion activists, donors and groups that have helped power Santorum’s underdog effort so far have not yet begun to break ranks with his campaign. In theory, their unified support could allow him to come back from the political dead and start winning primaries again in May, when more conservative states begin to vote again.

Other prominent social conservatives who are sympathetic to Santorum have gone further. Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said it is now overwhelmingly unlikely that Santorum will end up as the party’s nominee. “It becomes very, very difficult to see a pathway for him to reach the nomination,” said Land, who has praised Santorum repeatedly but has not endorsed a GOP candidate.

While a certain sense of gloom set in across much of Santorum’s political coalition, a number of his supporters sounded a defiant note post-primary, rejecting the argument from political elites that Romney is becoming unstoppable.

As long as Santorum can claim to speak for a powerful Republican bloc — social conservatives in general and evangelicals in particular — it may be difficult for GOP bigwigs to muscle him out of the race. Romney has made strides in winning over voters who self-identify as “very conservative,” according to exit polls, but has yet to clock a win in a strongly religious, evangelical state.

That will probably not stop Romney from claiming the nomination. It could, however, give Santorum a plausible explanation for pressing on, much as Mike Huckabee did in 2008, as the spokesman for a constituency under-served by the likely nominee.

Perhaps the clearest sign Wednesday that the sun is setting on Santorum’s campaign came in the form of a column from Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, the foreign policy-oriented conservative who has argued repeatedly that the GOP should give Santorum a chance and not rush to crown Romney.

Anchorage Voters Reject Gay Rights Protections

In yet another example of the constant message of inferiority and bigotry that LGBT citizens still receive across much of the country on a daily basis, voters in the City of Anchorage, Alaska, have kicked LGBT residents to the curb and voted down measure that that would have extended basic civil rights protections to gays. We hear constantly about anti-gay bullying in schools, but that pales in comparison to this type of message - or that being spewed by GOP presidential candidates. And we wonder why gay youth have such a disproportionately high suicide rate? And it should come as no surprise that those who opposed the measure were those self-congratulatory hate merchants of the "godly Christian" set. It's enough to make one want to vomit. Here are highlights from the New York Times:

On Tuesday, supporters of gay rights in the city [of Anchorage], Alaska’s largest, took the issue out of the mayor’s hands — but the end result was the same. In a citywide ballot measure, voters overwhelmingly rejected language, known as Proposition 5, that would have added protections for people regardless of “sexual orientation or transgender identity” to the city’s civil rights laws.

The vote followed an unusually loud and expensive campaign for a city ballot measure in Anchorage. The organizers of Proposition 5, a group called One Anchorage, included prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle (Alaska’s United States senators, Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Mark Begich, a Democrat, both said they supported it), and the group outspent the opposition more than 4 to 1.

Opposition was led by conservative religious leaders in Alaska, including within the Roman Catholic Church, and was financed largely by one source, the Anchorage Baptist Temple and its leader, the Rev. Jerry Prevo.

Opponents ran ads suggesting various situations a new law would create, including one in which a church would not be able to prevent a cross-dresser from working in its day care center.

“It’s basically just a way to still be homophobic but just use different language,” Julia O’Malley, a columnist for The Anchorage Daily News, said in an interview. “That’s really what this debate is about. It hasn’t changed.”

Once again, the promise of freedom of religion for all and equal protection under the law in America is shown to be an utter lie and farce. There are days that this country utterly disgusts me.

To My Unborn Child, If You're a 'Fag', I'll Kill You

The hatred towards gays held by many in the far right and especially among the professional Christian set and "family values" leaders is palpable. As yesterday's post on "I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay" underscored, the pain and misery that is inflicted on gay youths (actually, gays of all ages) is horrific. Especially since the Christianist views contradict not only modern medical and mental health knowledge about sexual orientation, but also I would argue Christ's Gospel message. To bring attention to the abject foulness of anti-gay hatred, a couple and their friends created a new PSA that follows up on the Twitter phenomenon of "tomyunbornchild" that afforded some the platform to say truly hate filled things about gays. Andy Towle has this:

Charlotte Moore, the creator of this new PSA, writes:

In early March, the hashtag "#tomyunbornchild" became a worldwide trend on Twitter. By and large, these tweets were loving, hopeful messages to the next generation -- but many people saw it as an opportunity to express hate speech towards LGBT children.

Reading their bile, the only thing I could think was: how would we feel if we heard actual parents saying this to actual children? I got the idea on a Thursday. By Sunday, we -- me, my boyfriend, and whatever friends we could find to help us -- had it filmed.

It's easy to dehumanize hate speech online because we've gotten so used to seeing it. We tell ourselves that it's the product of trolls, of random, anonymous strangers. Except they're not. They're real people. Many of them will be parents. And some of their children will be gay. But what can we DO about it? I don't think there are any easy answers.

Whenever you believe life begins, I hope we can all agree: life is essential, and rare, and precious. We can't stop anyone from having kids. But we can resolve to stop this toxic cycle. We can wish better for our own children. And we can support the kids who weren't so lucky.

Here's the PSA:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

GOP Congressman King - We Need DADT in the Workplace

While LGBT citizens in states like Virginia live in fear of losing their jobs if their sexual orientation is discovered, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) argues that gays, not their bigoted and homophobic employers - are at fault for their own firings. According to King (pictured at left) its LGBT employees making their sexual orientation publicly known that's the cause of their firing. Never mind that many employees don't out themselves and it still doesn't protect them. Think Progress has coverage on King's batshitery which is so much the norm among Republicans - especially those in Virginia who constantly prostitute themselves to the insidious Christianist organization, The Family Foundation, in Richmond. Here are highlights:

To Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the problem is not that it’s legal for employers to fire an employee for being gay. It’s that the employee made his sexual orientation publicly known in the first place.

Think Progress spoke with the Iowa congressman Monday about whether it should be legal for businesses to discriminate in their hiring and firing decisions. King said that “they shouldn’t be able to do that [to] a private business” because “they need to have freedom to operate.”

We asked if this meant that he opposed the idea of forbidding businesses from firing an employee because of her sexual orientation. “How do you know someone’s sexual orientation?” he countered, before proposing an idea similar to the recently repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military. “I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it’s not anybody’s business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire.”

Nobody should have to hide who they are for fear of losing their job. Gay and lesbian people, like everyone, ought to be able to be themselves and be free from employment discrimination. Unfortunately, in King’s world, it’s an either-or proposition.

A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay

I write frequently about anti-gay bullying and the fact that it is typically your "godly Christians" who are the principal opponents to any form of meaningful anti-gay bullying legislation. And sadly, it is often "Christian" parents who throw their children out of their homes when they discover that their child is LGBT. But sometimes, even Christian parents can wake up to the error of their ways and their error in embracing anti-gay bigotry. Once such positive story of parental enlightenment can be found in a post entitled "A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay." Here are some highlights (read the entire post) that may bring tears to your eyes:

Hello Mr. Pearce, I am the Christian mother of a 15 year old teenage boy and about a month ago he came home from school with a copy of your article “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay”. The teacher gave his class a homework assignment to read it and write a 500 word essay about “what it meant to them”.

I got madder and madder as I read it as I felt like it was a direct attack against our beliefs and our Christian religion and that it was promoting homosexuality, a practice that around here is a huge “sin”. I gave my son an earful about homosexuality and God and told him that he could tell his teacher that he would not be participating and if she had a problem, she could come talk to me and then I threw the article in the trash. My son didn’t say anything just walked into his room and shut the door.

My anger got a little out of control and while I was sitting there fuming and planning what to do, I got another text from my son that said “Just emailed it. Love, Jacob.” My son’s name is not Jacob, and it took me a minute to realize that he was talking about your friend Jacob in your article. And when I realized that I suddenly started shaking in fear and anger at what he might be telling me. . . . After a long time I finally got the courage to go look at my email and see what he had sent. And this is what he wrote:

I am gay and only my one friend knows so far. My mom doesn’t know yet. My dad doesn’t know yet. You didn’t know it when you gave us this homework. I am only 15 years old and I have never felt so alone. My mom and dad always are being angry about gay people and talking about how they are bad and going to hell and they also always talk about how all the gays should be shipped off to their own private island or something so that the rest of us could live God’s commandments in peace.

I have been so scared of them finding out that I’m gay because I know that they would hate me and would want me out of their life and at the same time I can’t keep this secret anymore because it is not something I asked for, never in a million years would I ask to be gay in a town like this where everybody would hate me.

I don’t see why I don’t deserve love just like everyone else. I see some crazy stuff that so many people do and people still love them but for some reason everybody around here thinks its ok to hate gays and stuff. And I don’t know really I think I just realize that I don’t want to be Jacob in ten years and still live my life in secret and scared of being hated.

And I don’t know what will happen but I am done playing like I’m something I’m not and if my parents don’t love me anymore because of this then I realize that’s not my problem and it will hurt but not as much as the way I hurt right now. I feel like if my mom and dad would just think about things they’d realize that what they always say and how they always hate gays is not what Jesus would do and maybe there is a chance that they will some day love me like Jesus would. I am their kid afterall.

Tonight I am going to send this to my mom and see what she says I guess. I don’t know what will happen but I know that I deserve to be loved just like everybody else does I just hope she thinks so too.

I texted my son back that I loved him and left it at that. He came home that night and didn’t try to talk to me about it, I just told him I loved him at least ten times that night and made sure not to talk about anything else. My love for him was the only thing I wanted him to feel and I knew he’d talk to me about it when he was ready.

That was a month ago and in the last month my son and I (his dad lives three states away and still doesn’t know) have grown much closer than we ever were before. We have both stood up against hate several times when we hear it coming from the people around us. You see, where we live people really do have problems “being Christian unless…” But no longer in this home.

The post has almost 2500 comments so far. Yes, some are the standard hate-filled knuckle dragger "godly Christian" stuff. But others get the message that this boy's mother finally understood. Why is it that the supposed followers of a religion that is supposed to be based on a love of others is nowadays best defined by its hatred towards others - be they gay, black, Hispanic, immigrants, or non-Christians?

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Jesse Scaccia - Op-Ed: 8 Ways to Make Norfolk More GLBT-Friendly

I have frequently noted that the City of Norfolk is not what I would generally call gay friendly. Yes, things are better than they once were and last year for the first time Hampton Roads Pride's annual pride event ceased being relegated to less than prime time locations. But there is much to still be done. And with City Council elections next month, there are some candidates who believe that much more should be done. One such candidate is Jesse Scaccia, running for Super Ward 6 against incumbent Barclay Winn. To help showcase Jesse's ideas, the following is an op-ed that he wrote (other candidates will also be submitting op-eds for publication on this blog):

The City of Norfolk took a grand step forward last year when it permitted Hampton Roads Pride to hold Out in the Park in Town Point Park. On that gorgeous June day our world got smaller, yet with more friends in it. As someone who worked behind the scenes to get the City's approval--and then on Pride's volunteer and marketing committees--it was one of my most proud moments as a Norfolkian.

But there's plenty more work to be done. For the local LGBT community to thrive as it should, there will need to be a strong institutional push as well. If I'm elected to Norfolk City Council, here are some items that will be high on my agenda:

1. Broaden our anti-discrimination policy

Currently it is perfectly legal in Norfolk to refuse to rent to a person because they are gay. Let's add sexual orientation to Sec. 45.1-2. (Unlawful discriminatory housing practices—Unlawful practices by persons selling, leasing, etc., dwellings) of the city code.

There are other places where the anti-discrimination policy should be expanded to include sexual orientation, including Sec. 33.1-53, which handles employment discrimination by contractors.

Virginia Beach has shown real leadership in attempting to get discrimination laws expanded at the state level. Norfolk should be right there with them.

2. Create a task force dedicated to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs

The quality of life of our LGBT residents needs to be an active part of the City's consciousness. Plus, DC has one. Populated by volunteers and one paid city staff member, this is a low cost way to send the very clear message that yes, Norfolk is LGBT friendly.

3. Start a 'Norfolk Comes in Colors' / 'I (rainbow) Norfolk' campaign

It's a simple sticker--produced by the City or in partnership with a private organization--offered to all Norfolk businesses. Incorporate a rainbow, the word Norfolk, and hand them out: immediately every business who has one in the window becomes a safe place for those in the LGBT community.

4. Allow for a gay pride parade associated with Out in the Park

Norfolk is the cultural capital for a region of 1.7 million people, making us the 36th largest metro in the country. While a gay pride festival is great, traditionally is the parade--a literal march and celebration through the streets--that holds the greater cultural significance. Make the offer to Pride before they even ask.

And, c'mon, even Salt Lake (freaking) City has a gay pride parade. We can do this--even if it's just a few blocks from the federal courthouse to the park.

5. Celebrate the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads in Park Place.

We all know it's there. But was the mayor there for the grand opening? Did the mayor mention the opening of the center in his State of the City speech? No, of course not. But it's not too late to recognize this wonderful beacon for the LGBT community.

6. Officially recognize National Coming Out Day

As readers of this blog know, National Coming Out Day is October 11. When a city's leadership recognizes this kind of thing, they normalize it. And any way that coming out can be normalized, our city should support.

7. Visit Norfolk should reach out to GLBT visitors

I'd like to see the Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau make a strong pitch to LGBT visitors, similar to what I've seen a number of other organizations of that type do in other metro areas, such as Philly.

8. Encourage the formation of GSAs at local high schools

GLBT young people are more likely to commit suicide than straight young people. Young people--especially when they feel marginalized--desperately need a sense of community. Gay-Straight Alliances provide that safe place. Plus, GSAs improve the learning environment for GLBT students.

Most of these ideas wouldn't cost the City a dime, yet they'd improve quality of life for thousands of our residents. These are the kinds of things I will push for if elected to the Norfolk City Council. Along with a community more active in the schools, more government transparency, civic engagement, and a celebration of multiple forms of transportation, Norfolk can get even better, just by changing the way it looks at things.