Category Archives: gay rights
Justice Samuel Alito:
Same-sex marriage is very new. It may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing.
If the standard is that marriage always has to be “a good thing,” would heterosexuals pass?
Charles Cooper, the lawyer arguing against marriage equality:
Marriage should be reserved for those who procreate.
Justice Elena Kagan in ironic response:
Should couples over the age of 55 be refused marriage licenses, then?
NYTimes Columnist, Maureen Dowd on the pro-creation status of Supreme Court Justices, et al:
Sonia Sotomayor was married and didn’t have kids.
Clarence and Ginny Thomas did not have kids.
Chief Justice Roberts’ two kids are adopted.
George and Martha Washington? They only procreated a country.
In light of this insanity one of my blog posts from a while back has suddenly resurged in popularity and so I am reposting it in homage to our unenlightened Supreme Court:
If Gays Can Marry Can I Marry My Dog?
When will people understand that tradition is just a stumbling block in the pursuit of progressive thinking? My dog and I are very much in love. She has been my friend, protector and lover for eight years. I firmly believe that we are both deserving of a legal domestic partnership, too. If the gay/lesbian community can be granted such a thing, then why can’t we? Heck, I’d be willing to bet that there would be less uproar over me kissing my dog on the front page.
This was an actual letter written by Joe Freeman and published in the San Jose Mercury News on May 21, 2008, on the cusp of gay marriage becoming legal in California, and amidst visions of husbands kissing husbands and wives kissing wives.
While some fear immanent bestiality, others worry that if gays can marry, next thing you know, adults will be marrying kids. It’s all the same, right?
At the very least, what about consent?
An adult man can give consent to marry another man. An adult woman can give consent to marry another woman. But children are too young to fully understand what they would be getting into by agreeing to marriage — if they were asked their opinion at all. Children cannot give consent. Neither can dogs or cats or birds or lizards or cows… Bestiality and child marriage are nothing like gay marriage. Funny that ol’ Joe couldn’t make the distinction.
Joe is also worried about going beyond tradition, or traditional morality that is based in religion. But after all the atrocities committed in the name of religion, whether the Crusades or 9/11 or cutting women’s genitals from their bodies (female genital mutilation), I don’t find religion to be the best guide to ethics.
So religious morality can seem hardly moral at all, and too often the opposite.
Better to base morality on whether someone is being harmed.
I can see how homophobia hurts people. Gay bashing harms victims. Homophobia inflicts emotional suffering, sometimes so severe that gays and lesbians take their lives. At the least self-worth can greatly suffer. But those who bash also lose their humanity.
When parents can’t marry, children may not be able to visit a sick parent in the hospital, they may lose out on social security or inheritance if a parent dies, they aren’t guaranteed child support if parents separate. These kids miss out on the support and stability that other kids take for granted.
On the other hand, I don’t see how gay marriage harms anyone. And no one seems to be able to figure that one out.
We would all be better off extending love instead of hate and contempt.
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I recently wrote about religious men seeking therapy to overcome same-sex attraction. But the “therapy,” itself, seemed evil as men were shocked, given drugs to create nausea, told to strip naked and touch themselves in front of a counselor, or were forced to beat their mothers’ effigies.
Not long ago an Irish woman died because her doctors would not perform an abortion:
Despite her rising pain, doctors refused her request for an abortion for three days because the fetus had a heartbeat. She died in the hospital from blood poisoning three days after the fetus died and was surgically removed.
Her husband was left asking,
When they knew the baby was not going to survive, why not think about the bigger life which was the mother, my wife Savita? And they didn’t.
In the not-so-distant past some devout Irish doctors broke their patients’ pelvises to prevent miscarriage. The painful operation often caused chronic back pain, incontinence, and crippling. As one woman explained,
It ruined my life. I have two titanium knees, a bad back and I think about it every day. It was 53 years ago… They were torturers. They didn’t care. I was a thing.
Another described the procedure:
I saw the hacksaw. He started cutting my bone and my blood spurted up like a fountain. [She remembers the doctor looking annoyed that he had gotten her blood on his glasses]. You’ll never get rid of [the pain] until you’re not living anymore.
Not long ago a Polish woman named Edyta died because each doctor she approached refused to treat her colon condition, fearing an operation might lead to miscarriage or abortion. She could have expected refusals had she lived in Italy, Hungary, or Croatia, too, because in each of these places doctors may refuse treatment on moral grounds. Apparently, letting a woman die is not a part of the moral compass. The fetus died, anyway.
In North African countries the clitoris or vulvas of young girls are routinely cut with dirty razors and parts are removed to deaden sexual sensitivity, “making them pure.” Some die of infection, many are crippled, and most live in pain.
In other places brothers kill sisters over any “sexual impropriety,” including marrying who you want, being alone with a boy, looking at a boy, or rape.
In Saudi Arabia girls in night clothes were once forced back into a burning building to die so as to protect men from their immodesty.
The religious Taliban ordered a girl’s nose and ears cut off when she ran away from her abusive in-laws.
And don’t forget the Inquisition, the Crusades and the witch hunts.
I could go on.
Really, how callus can your religious beliefs make you?
The Golden Rule must be hiding around here somewhere.
Psychologist Douglas Haldeman says early treatments of the 1960s and 70s included:
Aversion therapy, such as shocking patients on the hands and/or genitals, or giving them nausea-inducing drugs while showing them same-sex erotica. In electroconvulsive therapy an electric shock was used to induce a seizure, with side effects such as memory loss.
Reparative therapy tells gay men to behave in ways that limit a full life, cutting off the feminine side that all of us possess. For instance, avoid art museums, opera, symphonies… and women, except for romantic purposes.
A group called Jonah has used techniques like having gay men strip naked in front of a counselor or having them beat up mother effigies. Now they’re facing a lawsuit for emotional damage and deceptive practices. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Co-founder, Arthur Goldberg once went to prison for financial fraud, and neither he nor “counselor” and co-founding partner, Alan Downing, are licensed therapists.
Former client, Michael Ferguson is now 30 and working toward a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Utah. He came to Jonah because his Mormon faith taught him that heterosexual marriage was a prerequisite for exaltation. When Jonah didn’t work, his counselors blamed him instead of their program, all of which lead to depression. He now says,
It becomes fraudulent, even cruel to say that if you really want to change you could — that’s an awful thing to tell somebody.
In “therapy” he was also required to beat an effigy of his mother, as his councilors claimed that homosexuality arises when “normal masculine development” is repressed by “distant fathers” and “overbearing mothers.”
I was encouraged to develop anger and rage toward my parents. The notion that your parents caused this is a horrible lie. They ask you to blame your mother for being loving and wonderful.
Another client, Chaim Levin, 23, was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community where being gay was “unthinkable,” he said.
Chaim attended $650 weekend retreats for a year and a half. He finally quit when his counselor told him to remove his clothes and touch himself so that he could, “reconnect with his masculinity.” (One wonders if his coach is a closeted gay homophobe getting his kicks.) Mr. Levin felt degraded, humiliated, and still gay.
The American Psychiatric Association says this “therapy” can cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” while reinforcing “self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” That’s just what happened to Michael and Chaim.
Thousands of men have spent heaps of money seeking to please God or family, but without results. The only thing gay “conversion therapy” demonstrates is that sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice.
The young men seek to avoid evil, yet a “therapy” that resembles gay bashing can only be called evil. Being gay is not.
There is plenty of bad news on the gay/lesbian front. Suicides, gay-bashing. At one point a gubernatorial candidate maintained that “homosexuality is not an equally valid option” but felt women having sex with horses was hot. Historically, men have been more homophobic than women. But why?
It’s common to think of gay men as woman-like. Some act feminine, feminine stereotypes abound, and gay men do often perform sexually like women.
The very idea that men might be like, or act like, women is pretty threatening to manly men. But even more so when manhood feels insecure.
Men acting anywhere in the realm of womanhood collapses the great divide between male and female. Seeming more the same, male dominance and status are at risk.
Further, if gays and lesbians couple together no one can be the male head of home. Another blockage to male dominance.
But in the last four years the level of homophobia among men has dropped drastically, according to a more recent Gallup poll. Today men are no more homophobic than women. What happened?
Importantly, women’s status has risen. If women and men are equal, then men acting like women isn’t the big threat it had once been.
But women and men haven’t achieved full equality yet. So what else is going on?
New York Times columnist, Charles Blow called a couple of experts to get insight into the change in men’s attitudes. He talked with sociologist, Michael Kimmel, who studies men, and Ritch Savin-Williams, Cornell’s Chair of Human Development and an expert on same-sex attraction.
Dr. Kimmel explains that,
Men have gotten increasingly comfortable with the relative equality of ‘the other.’ The dire predictions for diversity have not only not come true, they’ve been proved to be other way.
Additionally, as gays and lesbians come out of the closet people come to see that they are like the rest of us: our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers, our friends and coworkers. Who knew they were real people?
Most interestingly, “virulent homophobes are increasingly being exposed for engaging in homosexuality,” as Blow put it. Evangelical Ted Haggard and George Rekers of the Family Research Council have both been outed. A while back, anti-gay megachurch pastor Eddie Long was accused of coercing young men into sex. Some are starting to see that spouting homophobia can be a front for the gay man inside. (Is homophobia acting to decrease claims of homophobia?)
Despite continued gay bashing, things are looking up.
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Obama and Romney both have grandparents who practiced polygamy, yet both have said (and one’s still saying) that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Some think it odd that they both reject the practice when they’ve each got a family history. But I, too, have grandparents who practiced polygamy yet I don’t like the practice, either. This brings me to the concern that marriage equality is a slippery slope to polygamy.
If you hold marriage to “two consenting adults” the problem goes away.
At the same time, while I have a personal distaste for polygamy, I’m not sure that decriminalization would be a bad thing.
First, the problems with the practice.
Gender inequality can be created by simple supply and demand, with “the one” having more power, whether polygyny (one man, many wives) or polyandry (one wife, many husbands). In the polyandrous Lahaul Valley of the Himalayas women have great say over matters. As one young man in this community explained, “The wife’s voice is the dominant voice in the household.”
Typically, polygamy is practiced under patriarchy (as polygyny) so the power of “the one” man becomes intensified. As one New York Times letter writer observed in response to Jonathan Turley’s insistence that polygamous families should be free to live their religion and values:
(In highly patriarchal families) this is not ‘the right to live your life.’ The men have rights, but not the girls (who are) brainwashed, uneducated and mothers while in their teens.
In polygyny it can seem that women make all the sacrifices so that men may take unlimited pleasure. A Sufi who agreed to be a third wife of her teacher (the article title “My Husband, My Teacher” suggests additional inequality of relationship) described her experience this way:
I went through, as did the other wives, all of the usual feelings of jealousy, fear, and insecurity.
She had to learn to let go of attachment, or seeing her spouse as property. Yet her husband didn’t need to learn any of these lessons, enjoying greater freedom and sexual variety than any of his wives ever will.
The addition of a new wife may even be used as a threat in polygamous cultures. Not surprisingly, 86 percent of Afghani women are against the practice.
Moving to larger societal problems, at marriageable age women and men are in equal number so girls in polygamous communities must be married at younger and younger ages, and are often forced into marriage. Their youth further disempowers them. Meanwhile, teenaged boys may be thrown out of these communities via trivial charges like watching “inappropriate” movies.
Joseph Henrich, a University of British Columbia professor whose expertise lies in psychology, anthropology and economics says higher levels of polygamy are tied to higher crime rates, lower GDP per capita, and worse outcomes for children.
And, fewer available women may mean more frustrated bachelors who support the sex trafficking of girls and women. These young men are also vulnerable to recruitment by extremists in some parts of the world.
There is plenty that is not pretty. So why legalize polygamy?
When the practice is illegal and stigmatized, those who live it end up isolated from the rest of society. That means its practitioners hear few alternate voices, and are less aware of the possibility of living differently. Or, choices become limited as others ostracize them and reject their friendship. In other words, they’re more stuck.
Oddly, adherence to “plural marriage” might actually decrease if it were made legal and destigmatized.
I don’t know if legalization will ever destigmatize polygamy, which is an important step in freeing people to hear different voices and to help them to have more options.
Regardless, I doubt legalization will bring people flocking to the practice. The notion of sharing your husband or wife while being forced to be monogamous, yourself, just isn’t that appealing to most people. In the U.S. polygamy is pretty much only practiced for religious reasons, so it’s not likely to catch on. And where it does, it would be more likely voluntary and not coerced.
If you fear gay marriage because polygamy might come next, I doubt there’s really much to worry about.
With apologies to Glinda, I only changed one word to make a point. I’m sure she won’t mind because she’s an ally who supports equality and justice for all, gay, straight, or otherwise.
Whereas Glinda had asked the little Munchkins to come out of hiding, I ask that all future LGBT folk come out, too. Not from hiding in the bushes like the Munchkins were, but hiding from their true selves — or even from themselves.
Today more non-LGBT allies are championing us and lighting the way (thank you Lady Gaga) and we have more opportunity to express ourselves than in other times and places.
Which reminds me, a while back the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was asked how gay people in his country were treated. His response? “There are no gay people in Iran.” To which I retorted (yelling at the TV), “Yeah, as soon as they come out, they’ll either be arrested or killed!”
In the good ol’ U.S. gays are not threatened with execution, but we may be bashed, bullied and lashed with barbed tongues yelling “Faggot!” The original meaning of faggot was a stick of tinder used to light a fire, which conjures images of kindling for a good witch burning. (The term may actually have come from old women who were once called faggots from their job of gathering wood which later translated, oh so graciously, to the effeminate stereotype of gay men.)
Funny how old, fearful sensibilities hold on. We are still fighting to break “codes” and “ranking” systems along with the notion that sex is only for procreation and not something to be shared and enjoyed… or even discussed.
If people are taught to fear gays (or ethnic minorities or anyone else) they will most likely hate. Period.
No wonder so many still fear coming out of the closet.
But even if we don’t come out we will still be harmed. Psychologist, Carl Rogers, tells us that the further our real self strays from our ideal self the more anxiety we will feel. This gap also lowers self-esteem and inspires jealousy of those who lead authentic lives. No wonder closeted gays are so often huge homophobes. That gap between real and ideal may then lead to aggression or even violence against ourselves or others. And who wants that?
Staying in the closet keeps us shameful and keeps us feeling we have something to hide.
By bringing our ideals closer to reality we can become more content and happier from living in a state of harmony.
And so I say to one and all, come out into the clear light of day and be proud of who you are.
This was written by one of my students, who gave permission to post it.
October is LGBT Month.
U.S. Nuns are grappling over a response to Vatican concern with their doctrinal loyalty. Church leadership wants them denouncing abortion and gays more than saving the lives of women and children, and affirming God’s love for all of humanity.
One sister explains:
We have a differing perspective on obedience. Our understanding is that we need to continue to respond to the signs of the times, and the new questions and issues that arise in the complexities of modern life are not something we see as a threat.
The sisters are in line with Bible heroes.
When Jacob wrestled with God he received a new name, Israel, meaning “He struggles with God.” At the end of the tussle God “blessed him there.”
God blesses one who struggles with Him?
Or, Job questioned why God made him suffer. His companions admonished him, demanding he accept God’s judgment.
Yet God did not think highly of the friends who spewed standard lines about submitting to divine will, repenting and being humble. God said, “You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
And then Job conversed with God, proclaiming, “I knew of you with the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes have seen you.” He got to know God, and this would never have happened had he taken the standard “counsels of piety” and played the submissive, unquestioning part his friends advised. It was only by being authentic in his doubts and questions that he could bring enough of himself to have a chance to get to know God.
These Bible stories speak well to the nuns’ intentions.
Go get ‘em girls!
A North Carolina pastor sternly warned against the danger of “butch” daughters, while advising dads to beat the gay out of their sons, literally:
The second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up! Give him a good punch.
Another pastor from the same state who, “Ain’t gonna vote for no homosexual-lover” (Obama?) has a plan to put queer folk behind an electric fence until they die out — all to keep them from reproducing any more gays and lesbians.
Hmmmm, aren’t gays and lesbians usually born to hetero parents?
Meanwhile, a toddler sings, “Ain’t No Homo Gonna Make It To Heaven” to wild applause from his Indiana congregation.
No surprise, then, that gays are persistently tormented and too often commit suicide. In fact, suicide rates are highest in conservative “values voters” states where hatred is preached over the bully pulpit.
What other source of homophobia is there but six verses in the Bible? When Bible literalists preach that LGBT people are going to hell they become Christian terrorists. They use fear as their weapon, like all terrorists.
Against this, the story of the Good Samaritan rings ironic.
The parable tells of a man who is beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Religious leaders pass him by, but finally a Samaritan comes to his aid.
The moral is generally said to be “aid one another” or “judge people by their hearts and works, not by their religious rank.”
But why would a Master Teacher like Jesus construct a story relaying the obvious?
Jesus’ parables more often shocked audiences into thinking in entirely new ways. Keep in mind that Jesus constantly urged his hearers to see the worth and dignity of all, no matter how loathed — including Samaritans, who were despised. So consider this perspective which I’ve altered from a blog post written by a pro-gay rights Mormon (!!)
Imagine Jesus telling a story that forces you to think the unthinkable — to string together words that simply do not belong together: “good” and “[insert epithet of choice].” If we want to understand how Jesus’ words invaded and overthrew the pious and staid beliefs of his hearers, we might imagine him telling a Christian congregation in North Carolina or Indiana the parable of the Good Gay Man who stopped to help a victim near death after a Catholic Bishop, a Rabbi, and a Christian Pastor first passed him by.
The moral of the Good Samaritan? Love gays, and anyone else whose humanity is not fully appreciated.
Raping children is better than using contraception? Raping children is better than ordaining women priests? Raping children is better than using fertility treatments? Raping children is better than aborting a child to save a woman’s life? And priests raping boys is better than homosexuality and gay marriage?
It appears the Vatican thinks so, raising a furor over everything but child rape. That’s right, a nun was excommunicated for saving a woman’s life by allowing an abortion while pedophile priests were simply transferred to new parishes to abuse new children or were, at best, defrocked. Pretty sad when Vatican officials, including the future Pope Benedict, failed to defrock a priest who had molested a couple hundred deaf boys.
When the crimes of pedophile priests are investigated a nation may be rebuked for stifling church autonomy, as happened in Belgium. Or church leaders become defensive, as when Cardinal Timothy Dolan begrudged a global shaming, since only a few priests were involved in the scandal.
Most recently the Vatican admonished nuns for spending too much time caring for the poor, supporting health care reform, confronting bishops and questioning teachings on male-only priesthood — and not spending enough time fighting abortion and homosexuality.
Interesting that, as the Times’ Maureen Dowd put it, “Church leadership never recoiled in horror from pedophilia, yet it recoils in horror from outspoken nuns.”
Most anyone would find the moral priorities outrageous. Nonsensical even.
Yet one thing makes sense of it all (logically, not morally) and that is patriarchy: rule of the fathers, or here, church fathers.
In its earliest manifestation patriarchy meant the rule of old men over young men, boys, girls and women. This is the world that now stands behind Vatican walls. Old men do as they please and young boys take what they get. Old men who know little of the lives and hearts of women allow them no power over parishes, their bodies, or even their own lives should they become threatened by pregnancy. Anything that imperils the patriarchy must be battled. Anything that sustains the patriarchy is just fine.
Old men control all. And in a manner that is not very Christ-like.
By Sherrill Lawrence
The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
- William Shakespeare from The Merchant of Venice.
I am annoyed by people who comb the bible for scriptural passages that support their personal prejudices — in this case, homophobia.
Two of their favorites are found in the laws of Leviticus (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 17:1-24). Leviticus instructs on the proper way to make burnt offerings, lists animals we may or may not eat; instructs on how long a woman is “unclean” after giving birth; tells men how to trim their beards, plant crops, breed cattle, and so on.
I find it interesting that “Christians” pick two verses out of a couple hundred to justify their hatred. I say, if that one “law” is as legitimate now as it was then, then they all are. Not only should decent God-fearing people hate homosexuals, they should stone fortune tellers, adulterers, and children who swear at their parents — that is after trimming their beards just so and smashing the crockery that a lizard fell into.
And by the way, Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because they broke the laws of hospitality. The ancient Hebrews were supposed to feed, shelter, and protect strangers, even if they were of a different religion, and even if they were an enemy. The men of Sodom violated that law when they demanded that Lot send out his guests to be raped. Of course, it didn’t help Sodom any that Lot’s guests were angels.
Why do “Christians” root around in the Hebrew bible — aka the Old Testament — for rules of behavior anyway? The title Christian means “a follower of Christ’s teachings.”
In Matthew, Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Luke, a lawyer, looking for a loophole asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. Since Samaritans were the (insert favorite ethnic slur here) of His day, the story clearly means everyone is our neighbor whether we like them or not.
“Christians” looking for loopholes quote portions of three letters from Paul – yes, Paul — who never met Jesus or heard him speak and began his career hunting down early Christians, and who (among other questionable statements) said long hair is a disgrace to a man. Hear that Jesus? Get a haircut.
If you want Jesus’ opinion on the subject of homosexuality, read the Gospels. Jesus said “love” and “forgive” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Nowhere did he say, “Go beat a dyke to death.”
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