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And Yet, Here You Stand

3 May

A little over a week ago, Jack Reese, an Ogden, Utah high school student committed suicide. He was gay and a victim of homophobic harassment. But if you read about him, he was just a regular teenager – he liked to draw, was interested in Japan, had a boyfriend, and liked to play XBox. Because his sexuality was different from others’, did that justify harassment, assault, or battery that was so pervasive that it drove him to hurt himself? 

In a great editorial, the Salt Lake City Tribune wrote that people’s attitudes about LGBT youth need to change for this harassment – and its sometimes tragic results – to stop. But that’s not all – 

They learn from legislators who refuse to extend civil rights to gays and lesbians that “those people” are not as valuable as straight people.

The country is beginning to come to terms with the notion that homosexual Americans are still Americans, regardless of their sexual identity. Their rights aren’t diminished or ended based on whom they love. It doesn’t matter, frankly, whether you know that homosexuality is hard-wired in the brain, or you still think it’s a “choice” – no one should be discriminated against or harassed to the point of suicide. 

The Tribune’s editorial cartoonist, Pat Bagley, created this, which perfectly encapsulates the way humanity typically demonizes things that are “different” before acceptance sets in.  Sometimes, it’s a change that takes millenia. Homophobia is among the last forms of hate and discrimination that is acceptable to large swaths of the American population.  It’s changing, but not quickly enough. 

Conservative “Humor”

27 Apr

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Monica Crowley is a Fox News “analyst”, whatever that means.

Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified to Congress some weeks ago about the importance and cost of contraceptive coverage for women in insurance plans. Not just for contraceptive uses, but also for medical uses involving, e.g., ovarian cysts. Because Fluke stood up for herself, for women, for her beliefs, she has been the target of a blistering, hateful series of attacks from such conservative philosophers as Rush Limbaugh

Yesterday, news broke that Fluke had become engaged to be married.  If you Google the exact term Crowley used in her Tweet, the Daily Beast article using that headline reveals that Fluke is engaged to her longtime boyfriend

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[blackbirdpie url=”!/MonicaCrowley/status/195569989875531776″%5D

Ah,  but she was insinuating something.  As I pointed out above, the articles announcing Fluke’s engagement noted to whom she was to be married.  On top of that, it’s an old stereotype that feminist women who, for instance, don’t share the Nordic looks of most females on Fox News must all be lesbians. “Feminazis”, I think Limbaugh calls them.

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Wait – first Crowley pleads seriousness – she claims it was a “straightforward question” to which she had received “no answer yet”. But now it was humor? What, exactly was the joke? 

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[blackbirdpie url=”!/MonicaCrowley/status/195589182385700864″%5D

Yes, shock horror – who would think that a Fox News “analyst” who made a homophobic quip against a heterosexual woman who was just engaged to be married would have a problem with lesbianism? 

To her credit, Fluke responded thusly

“I’m not going to let this kind of thing get to me personally,” Fluke said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” “What really bothers me about it [is] the blatant homophobia in the comment, and the idea that that is an acceptable thing to say publicly.”

“I don’t want an apology from anyone personally,” Fluke said. “I think it is possible she owes an apology to the LGBTQ community, because I am not offended to be asked whether or not I’m with a woman. It’s not offensive to me to be gay, but it was clearly meant as an insult.”

Conservatism has been reduced to this. It isn’t about proposing policy solutions to economic, social, and international problems – it’s just about hatred and prejudice. You see it in the Trayvon Martin case. You see it in the way in which conservatives argue about Obama’s policies. You see it in the way they treat anyone who dares to move the country’s policies and consciousness into the 21st century. 

Mitt Romney is likely to lose in November, and when he does, the clamor from the right wing of the Republican Party is going to be deafening. They’re going to double down on the notion that Romney wasn’t conservative enough, and next time they’ll probably convince themselves to nominate someone like Santorum – or worse.

Then that person will be defeated worse than Romney. Because general election voters aren’t going to buy in to whatever a Santorum type is selling. Calling Sandra Fluke a whore may play great with the reactionary types who self-identify as tea partiers, but it doesn’t go over well with middle-of-the-road casual voters. 

It’ll be at least a few more election cycles before Republicans start to look at less insane candidates for office. It took Democrats Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis before they settled on Clinton, and then we had to go through Kerry before we settled on someone new and inspiring. 

In the meantime, let’s make fun of the strong woman with a short haircut, and call her a “lesbian”. 

I don’t get the joke. 

Hate Teach-in

5 Apr

An assembly was held at a Minneapolis area Catholic School recently – it was mandatory for seniors and was on the subject of marriage.  It started out well, but suddenly veered into ugly territory

“The first three-quarters of the presentation were really good,” said Bliss. “They talked about what is marriage and how marriage helps us as a society. Then it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn’t directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a ‘normal’ family is the best family.”

“When they finally got to gay marriage, [students] were really upset,” said Bliss. “You could look around the room and feel the anger. My friend who is a lesbian started crying, and people were crying in the bathroom.”

The diocese won’t talk, and the school won’t say who gave the speech. The kids – to their credit – challenged the speaker on these points, as well as his opinions on same sex marriage

The kicker is that Minnesota will be holding a referendum on same-sex marriage, and these high school seniors will be eligible to vote right around the time it’s held. This was an attempt by the diocese – which is obviously vehemently opposed to the measure – to persuade or intimidate a captive audience into backing its political agenda. 

A priest and a volunteer couple presented the information. When someone asked a question about two men being able to have a quality, committed relationship, the couple compared their love to bestiality, Bliss said.

“Most people got really upset,” said Bliss. “And comments about adopted kids, I found those to be really offensive. There were at least four kids there who are adopted.”

Hannah, who is adopted, said one of the presenters said that adopted kids were “sociologically unstable.” She called the comments “hurtful” and comparisons between gay love and bestiality upsetting.

“My friend said, ‘You didn’t just compare people to animals, did you?'” said Hannah. “I think everyone has a right to their opinion, and I don’t judge them on it. But we don’t force people to sit down so we can tell them their opinion is wrong.”


It’s an interesting conundrum – the Church opposes contraception, opposes abortion, and – evidently – has some problems with adoption, as well. That sort of narrows a couple’s options, doesn’t it? The school should be ashamed of permitting this hate speech to be presented by clergy to a captive audience.

The diocese – well, with the Church’s permissive nature ranging to the downright enabling of child abuse by a multitude of priests throughout the world, I’m not surprised by its chutzpah or hubris at trying to persuade young minds to become hateful. 

I generally don’t take advice from people who have no experience in the matter being advised. I also think that it runs counter to Jesus’ teachings to preach hatred – to compare loving couples who aren’t bothering anyone to animals, or to suggest that adopted children are socially defective. 

You don’t have to support same sex marriage or adoption, you don’t even have to like it or tolerate it. What you shouldn’t do is go in front of a group of young adults – some of whom are gay and adopted – and tell them that they’re less than human; that they are broken or need fixing. 

That sort of thinking and dogma never, ever ends well. 

The Face of Evil in America

15 Mar

There are no words to describe my rage at hearing this yesterday (interestingly enough, it was played & discussed on the Howard Stern Show).  In this video, demonic professional panhandler Pat Robertson tells a woman that it’s better to create a rift in her family than to attend her sister’s marriage to another woman. 

A glimpse into Santorum’s America: 


Prop 8 Unconstitutional

8 Feb

Yesterday, the 9th Circuit (Federal) Court of Appeals ruled that California’s Proposition 8, which re-prohibited same sex marriage in that state, is unconstitutional.

What people forget is that a lawsuit filed in San Francisco led to the California Supreme Court ruling that the state’s prohibition against same-sex marriage was unconstitutional (based on the California state constitution).

Secondly, California’s highest court determined that reserving the term “marriage” only for heterosexual couples was violative of that state’s equal protection clause.

Two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in California counties brought a federal action, a 12-day bench trial was held, and the Federal District Court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional – that there was no rational basis or compelling state interest for the state to withhold the term “marriage” from same-sex couples.

Because Proposition 8 did nothing to substantively alter the underlying relationship or domestic partnerships into which California same-sex couples had committed themselves. Instead, it simply took from them the word “marriage”. But the court didn’t point this out to diminish the matter, but to highlight it. “A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not. The word ‘marriage’ is singular in connoting ‘ a harmony in living,’ ‘a bilateral loyalty,’ and ‘a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.'”, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 1965’s Griswold v. Connecticut, which declared the existence of a federal right to privacy and struck down prohibitions against contraception.

In the end, the court found that constitutional jurisprudence does not permit the people to “enact laws” that “single out a certain class of citizens for disfavored legal status” thus raising “the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.” The purpose of such a law isn’t to promote some “legitimate legislative end”, but “to make them unequal to everyone else.”

In order for a law like Prop 8 to stand, with all of its “meaningful harm to gays and lesbians”, some “legitimate state interest” must justify it. More specifically, “it” isn’t whether the legal state extant post-Prop 8 was constitutional or not – the question is whether the change that Proposition 8 made in the law could be justified, in and of itself.

The U.S. Supreme Court had decided cases going back to the 60s forbidding states from a “targeted exclusion of a group of citizens from a right or benefit that they had enjoyed on equal terms with all other citizens.” A right conveyed cannot later be withdrawn without a legitimate state justification.

The court analyzed the purported “justifications” for Prop 8 and found them illegitimate. For instance, Prop 8 proponents claimed that only heterosexual marriage was good for childrearing, but the law didn’t substantively affect same-sex couples’ right to have or adopt children. The court also went out of its way to destroy the Prop 8 proponents’ arguments that taking away the use of the term “marriage” from same-sex couples will promote responsible procreation by heterosexual couples.

The court found that Prop 8 existed as “nothing more or less than a judgment about the worth and dignity of gays and lesbians as a class.” Indeed, the court found that Prop 8 was born and promoted from a fundamental disapproval of homosexuals and from homophobia – that same-sex couples are inferior, and that their relationships are undesirable. The 9th Circuit concluded saying that the people of California violated the Equal Protection Clause by using their initiative power to target a minority group and illegitimately withdrawing a right that they possessed.

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