Archive for the ‘GLBT’ Category

Victory for CA Families – Prop 8 Overturned (for now)

February 7, 2012

This afternoon, a federal appeals court found that Proposition 8 – the 2002 voter-approved ban on same sex marriage in California – is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.  The 2-1 ruling will have  little bearing on the struggle for same-sex equality in other states, however, because the ruling was based on the fact the freedom to marry a same-sex partner was – at one time – granted to Californians. The decision states:

“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

And further:

Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.” [Em. mine]

It’s been a long road for California on this issue, and no one believes that this ruling is the end of the line. In fact, yet another “stay” is expected to be placed on the ruling – preventing same-sex marriage while a third such ruling is appealed.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) condemns the ruling and doggedly vows to take the matter to the Supreme Court. Interestingly, NOM’s The Threat to Marriage page conatins absolutely no explanation of how same-sex marriage threatens marriage. Go figure.

Op-ed columnist Frank Bruni had a piece in the NY Times yesterday that gives a good perspecitive on this. He points to the policies of forward-thinking companies as an augur of times to come:

…same-sex marriage, enacted in New York last June and now under serious consideration in Maryland, Maine and New Jersey. It’s the future. And the response of corporate behemoths based in the state of Washington reflects that.

In addition to Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon spoke up for same-sex marriage. All have surely taken note of several polls over the last year suggesting — for the first time — that a slight majority of Americans supports it. All have no doubt taken even greater note of a generational divide. In a Gallup poll, 70 percent of people in the 18-to-34 age range favored same-sex marriage…

More so than politicians, corporations play the long game, trying to engender loyalty for decades to come, and they’re famously fixated on consumers in their 20s and 30s.

Further info:

Prop 8 Trial Tracker – a project of the Courage Campaign Institute

Prop 8: The Musical – The 2009 classic. Still funny & compelling.


THIS Ad Was Too “Controversial” to Run During the Superbowl?!

February 2, 2009

The NFL and NBC rejected the following pro-gay marriage ad by the California organization Get to Know Us First. The group planned to target counties that most heavily supported Prop 8 by running their 30-second PSA on the Los Angeles station KNBC, however were prevented from doing so when the spot was rejected by the legal department at the NFL, which asserted that it was banning all advocacy spots for the entire day of programming on Superbowl Sunday. This, however, wasn’t true because yesterday ads for the anti-smoking group and the anti steroids group ran twice each.

When pushed for further explanation, NBC fobbed the question off on the NFL, which failed to provide any concrete reason, vaguely siting “certain restrictions in [their] network television contracts.” The NFL then tried to toss the issue back to NBC, who so far has declined comment.

Earlier this year Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC rejected ads by Get to Know Us First during the Presidential Inauguration deeming them “too controversial” to run when families were likely to be watching. It can only be assumed – since they won’t explicate – that similar reasoning went behind  the NFL’s/NBC’s decision. (It similarly rejected a pro-life ad, also telling that it was banning all advocacy commercials.)

Let’s go over this again… THIS ad was unsuitable for family viewing:

Yet this ad (Voted a Superbowl 2009 “Winner” from NBC’s L.A. affiliate KNBC) was perfectly suitable for families:

I’m not making a comment on ads targeted to a largely rowdy male, beer swilling, sports loving demographic. I’m making a comment on organizations that block PSAs for certain causes without having the balls to say why.

Didn’t want any “downers”? Wanted humor/sex/sports related ads to fill the entire day? Don’t want to be “political?” Believe that gays shouldn’t have the right to marry?” One way or ther other just say it NBC/NFL, because your excuses are insulting.

Helping Individuals is Good, Changing Society is Better – On Chicago’s Proposed Gay-Friendly High School

October 13, 2008

NPR just did a piece on the Social Justice High School Pride Campus – a proposed high school specifically for LGBT & allied students in Chicago. The website explains its objective as, in part:

The Greater Lawndale Little Village School for Social Justice believes that, to further the mission and vision of the school, it should replicate the successful components of the Social Justice High School and create a new high school campus to address the needs of the underserved population of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and their allies (LGBTQA youth). Research shows that there are low attendance rates and high drop-out rates among LGBTQA youth, and they struggle with harassment, depression, poor academic achievement, and suicide. Our goal is to provide a school with a safe, affirming, and supportive environment where every student — particularly LGBTQA youth — would develop the knowledge and skills needed to create better lives for themselves and their families and to succeed in their post-secondary pursuits.

My problem with this is that we should be working to make all schools “safe, affirming, and supportive environment(s) where every student…would develop the knowledge and skills needed to create better lives for themselves.” Why is bullying and harassment against LGBT (and questioning youth and allies…) accepted as so inevitable that the best recourse is to remove kids from “mixed” schools? “Separate but equal” springs to mind, although I realize no one would be forced to attend Pride Campus.

The idea of a temporary “safe haven” just doesn’t make sense to me. We obviously still live in a world where these teenagers are treated with intolerance and bigotry – so how are we best serving them by sheltering them from this conflict, when upon graduation they will only be returned to it?

Efforts should be directed at the climate of hatred and intolerance that prevents these schools from being safe and supportive for everyone. If you have a certain population that skips classes and drops out because of the aggression of another population – the answer cannot be to reward that aggression by removing the persecuted kids from the school!

A message needs to be sent that the problem is NOT LGBT teenagers, but the bullies who abuse them. If the very people in the public school system who support LGBT teens won’t hold the student aggressors accountable, who will?

CNN reports a study released Wednesday by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN):

The national study, which the group says is the most comprehensive report ever on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students nationwide, found that 86.2 percent of those students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1 percent physically harassed and 22.1 percent physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

Hey kids! Adults! LGBT’s are a part of your community – YOU, whoever you are. So take the stick out of your ass and get used to it! What are we still in the days of Brown v The Board of Education?

Instead of segregation, I’d rather see heightened awareness and support programs along with higher discipline for harassers. I’d rather see a community, a school system that says “We don’t accept this behavior. We don’t want our children mired in the hatred of an entire group of people. This is NOT okay!”

New York City expanded its partnership with GLSEN last month in a training initiative called “Respect for All.” According to press release on GLSEN’s site:

Having already trained more than 1,000 New York City educators, the Respect for All Initiative will now include additional interventions to reduce bullying and harassment of students in city schools. The program began last school year training school staff to identify and address bias-related bullying and harassment, including bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

New components of this year’s program include the designation of a Respect for All liaison in every school and the school-wide distribution and posting of Respect for All materials, mandatory incident reporting and a requirement that every principal have a plan for the full implementation of the Chancellor’s Regulation and the Respect for All initiative.

A liasion is a fantastic idea – especially since students aren’t the only ones that mishandle themselves when it comes to the treatment of and attitudes toward LGBT’s.

This is a hard issue. If I was a LGBT high schooler afraid to attend classes, I’d be pretty happy about the Pride Campus. But as someone who expects more from society, I just can’t help but see it as a step backward.

Then again, there’s the Harvey Milk School in Manhattan (named for New York native and California’s first openly gay politician), which admits only LGBT teens who are at risk of dropping out. Their graduation rate is 95%, much higher than the state average of 58% (in 2003). More striking is the fact that the majority of HMHS students are black or Latino, and graduation rates for this demographic average 35.5% in New York State. Whatever else I feel about the concept of separate schools as a solution, HMHS takes near high-school drop outs poised to fall through the cracks and helps them transform into 60%+ college students!

I think my reaction comes down to this – I appreciate that these teenagers are being given a resource that will help them live the kind of lives they deserve, but I don’t like the fact that it’s being done in a way that allows a hate-filled segment of society to carry on as usual. Helping individuals is good, changing a society is better.

On Reproductive Rights, McCain Looks to Coburn – So Who is He?

March 25, 2008

It’s one thing to have staunch beliefs about sex, contraception, Christianity, abortion, and the global AIDS crisis. It’s quite another to be a prominent U.S. Presidential candidate, for the second time in your life, and have given little thought to your stance on policies regarding these issues.

Evidence of the dearth of consideration McCain expends on global HIV and family planning surfaced last March when a New York Times reporter stumped the candidate with questions about basic reproductive rights and the restrictions of the global gag rule.

Here’s the transcript from a NY Times Caucus post on the incident.

(Weaver is John Weaver, his senior adviser, and Brian is Mr. Jones, his press secretary):

Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”

Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”

(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)

Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

This went on for a few more moments until a reporter from the Chicago Tribune broke in and asked Mr. McCain about the weight of a pig that he saw at the Iowa State Fair last year.

I haven’t thought about it. I’ve never gotten into these issues before. I’m not informed enough about it. I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it in the past. I have to find out what that position was.

And the kicker? The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn.

Let’s forgo the obvious critique of “I need to look up what I once told people I believe in because I can’t think this through for myself and don’t generally concern myself with these things.” Any ignorance or ill-preparedness or plain poor memory to be analyzed from the exchange pales in comparison to what a little bit of research revealed.

Let’s take a look at the revered Dr. Coburn.

Tom Coburn is a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, and he’s not a subtle guy. During more than three years in the Senate he has spoken out against both sex education and contraception (which didn’t prevent Bush from appointing him co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS). A 2007 article on his government-sponsored website likens sex ed to pornography.

He is a self-proclaimed unwavering defender of the sanctity of “life”. That being said, he believes unequivocally that anyone performing an abortion should be put to death by the state.

Coburn’s Chief of Staff is Michael Schwartz. During the 2007 conference entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” Schwartz distinguished himself with a speech in which he advocated

“the mass impeachment of judges” and denounced the Supreme Court for giving Americans “the right to commit buggery.”

In the 80’s Schwartz was a founding member of Operation Rescue, the vigilante “pro-life” group that has advocated militant tactics. In 1993 the group distributed “wanted” posters for abortion provider Dr. David Gunn. Later that year an Operation Rescue member shot and killed Dr. Gunn during a protest. The group has been implicated in various acts of violence over the years from vandalism and arson, to stalking, assault, and bombings. Although the violence has quieted since the turn of the millennium, it’s worthwhile to note that in 1999 the Catholic pro-life organization American Life League created the Pro-Life Proclamation Against Violence. Operation Rescue was one of the few anti-abortion groups to refuse to sign it.


“Should I deny my head, my heart, and my soul?” – Transgender Commentary in the Media

March 16, 2008

Art from TransThriveIn the New York Times Magazine today I found a surprisingly sympathetic story about a transmale college student struggling to find his place on campus and in life. Alissa Quart, author of Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers, and Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child, follows Rey, a female-to-male transgender youth as he struggles to fit in at his all-female college.

At first I was puzzled why someone identifying as male would choose all-female Smith University. The article explains

On the face of it, it’s not surprising that students like Rey would choose to attend a women’s college. Same-sex colleges have always been test beds for transformations among American women. Set up as places where women could flourish without men, colleges like Barnard, Wellesley, Smith and Mount Holyoke have always had dual personalities, serving both as finishing schools and as incubators of American feminism…

The schools that decided to remain single-sex in the 1970s, when many colleges around the country went coed, represented a significant and even controversial challenge to liberal ideas about gender equality. And in refashioning their identities for the time, many became loci for the interrogation of gender roles. It was, after all, at all-female schools that many young women first began to question the very notion of femininity.


Indeed, as one transmale student I spoke to at Wellesley pointed out, women’s colleges are uniquely suited to transgender students. “There’s no safer place for transmen to be than a women’s college because there’s no actual physical threat to us,” he told me, adding, “I have more in common with women because of that shared experience than I do with men.”

Yet, things didn’t go smoothly for Rey in ways I didn’t expect. In his first semester, Rey’s two straight female roommates didn’t feel comfortable rooming with someone identifying as male.

At Mount Holyoke College two alumni wrote an angry letter about their own school’s admission of transmales. In their opinion:

Trans students were simply “men seeking to take advantage of Mount Holyoke’s liberal and accepting atmosphere.”

Simply men? Really? Not diseased females? Not sick human beings? Not unnatural, or ungodly, or just plain weird? Surprisingly (to me, anyway), the mainstream media is addressing the issue for what it is and recognizing that a person’s identity, not their anatomy, defines that person’s gender. It is, as far as this article is concerned, unquestioned.

Am I too used to the uproars about transkids and bathroom usage? Or the righteous denial of rights to the transgender community in last year’s Employment Non-Discrimination Act? Or are we simply looking at a very liberal sub-sect and angry comments and letters will pour into the Times tomorrow?

It would be heartening if female-only schools admitted transfemales, but the article (which strangely neglects to so much as mention male-to-female transitions) suggests this is not the case by stating Smith’s policy to accept “legal” females only.

Quart is careful to widen the accepted “born in wrong body” lens and look at transgender issues more broadly. Each person is unique and how and why someone transitions involves a range of personal and complex choices, the reactions to which vary even within the trans community.

For many people gender is found somewhere along a male-female continuum and without the black and white clarity of a “check-M/check-F” decision. Quart examines the personal and unique nature of a trans-person’s choice to use hormones, seek top and/or bottom surgery, renounce his or her pre-transition identity…or not to do so. Different actions apply to different people. Rey, for example, embraces his former female self. For him, who he was is an important part of who he is and who he will become. Rey used hormone therapy and eventually had top surgery, however he found bottom surgery unnecessary. Others elect to have no surgery at all and simply use manner and style to project their gender identity. Still others reject the need to specify a gender at all, eschewing labels and brandishing individuality in their stead.

…[T]oday many students who identify as trans are seeking not simply to change their sex but to create an identity outside or between established genders — they may refuse to use any gender pronouns whatsoever or take a gender-neutral name but never modify their bodies chemically or surgically. These students are also considered part of the trans community, though they are known as either gender nonconforming or genderqueer rather than transmen or transmale.

To discover if my surprise at the nature of this piece was warranted, or if I’ve just had my head in highly prejudiced circles lately, I poked around the web a bit. I discovered that in April 20/20 did a pretty extensive piece on transgender kids, including a six-year old boy who firmly, and with the support of doctors and parents, identifies as female. The comment board for the online article of this piece displays an astonishing 239 posts of (mostly) supportive and compassionate voices.

In 2005, the Sundance Channel (not exactly a conservative haven, sure) broadcast a 7-part documentary series on trans-teens called Transgeneration, which unfortunately I totally missed. I also realized something I’d taken for granted. High schools and colleges that had gay and lesbian student unions a decade ago now have, seemingly without exception, LGBT organizations.

Even Christianity Today, “a magazine of evangelical conviction,” recently published an almost (but not quite) balanced article on transgender issues. Early in the piece it tells the story of a Baptist minister who, in mid-life, realized he was transgender and made the operative switch to male. He explains

Should I deny my head, heart, and soul to live according to what others think of my body? I cannot do that and live a life of Christian integrity…This is something that’s in you from the womb.

The article points to the recent calls for expanded civil rights for transgenders in the face of both discrimination and violence. It also cites Jimmy Creech, executive director of Faith in America, an organization whose mission includes, “the emancipation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from bigotry disguised as religious truth.”

Religion has been used in history to discriminate against various groups of people by justifying slavery, denying women the right to vote, and persecuting religious minorities. Today it is being used to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.

Yet, it follows up with a full page on the views of Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who believes

Whether mentioned in Scripture or not, the transgender movement clashes with traditional Christian theology that teaches the only God-given expression of human sexuality is between a man and woman who are married.

And, sadly yet predictably

Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth, even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.

The article then relates the tale of a post-op woman who was graciously accepted by Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida – pointedly adding that the church even allowed the woman to do volunteer maintenance work. After an unspecified amount of time the unnamed woman came to a church official in tears. After religious counseling she “eventually realized that God didn’t make creative mistakes and […] resumed a male identity.”

Unfortunately, although it does touch upon one more successful transition, the rest of the piece veers sharply toward the right with quotes from the Family Research Council,

The pressure for acceptance is ultimately a challenge to the authority of Scripture and a violation of natural law.

And Concerned Women for America:

The transgender lobby is following the example of the homosexual lobby in that they are co-opting the language of the civil rights movement in order to push their own radical and wacky agenda.

It ends with Jerry Leach, director of Reality Resources, an organization in Kentucky that describes itself as, “an international ministry to those afflicted with gender identity confusion, homosexuality, and sexual addiction.”

At one time Leach, hours before his reassignment surgery, (the desire for which he attributes to his mother forcing him to wear dresses as a child) heard God telling him to “stop his covert, double life.”

“God planned for me to be a man before I had ever been created. There was not a woman inside my body longing to be expressed.”

The author of the article, John W. Kennedy, expresses an opinion in the final paragraph of the five-page piece. He concludes:

The challenge before conservative evangelicals is persuading transgendered people, their families, and faith-based advocates that gender identity disorder is not beyond the reach of God’s grace, compassionate church-based care, and professional help.

The entire thing is worth a read. It’s eerily fascinating how even those condemning transgender issues as unnatural and sinful try very hard to regard the poor trannie souls with compassion. Love the sinner hate the sin… They see transgenders as sick, lost lambs needing those who know better to do God’s work and return them to the fold.

So, was I right to be surprised at the tone and scope of the Times article? Well, yes. Other than what I’ve described, I found very little mainstream coverage of these issues. However, I also didn’t find nearly as much ignorance and hate as I’d expected. What I did find was an amazing number of local and national organizations, support groups, and advocacy efforts.

Such as…


Human Rights Watch: Offers resources dealing with legislation, coming out, and employer information.

The Transgender Law and Policy Institute: Litigation, discrimination and hate crime laws, and university & employer policies.

Transkids Purple Rainbow: Dedicated to funding research and education about transgender issues to build a brighter future for all TransKids.”

Family Equality Council: Blog. “love. justice. family. equality.”

Gay & Lesbian task Force – Transgender Issues: A lot of great activism including the civil rights, homelessness, and pending legislation. Check out its chart documenting the time between the passage of legislation based on sexual orientation and the passage of identical laws based on gender expression. (Hint: It ain’t quick.)

“Anti-gay amendments are the Happy Meal toy of Republican politics.” – A Meandering Post on Gay & Women’s Rights

December 14, 2007

F4m_2 “Anti-gay amendments are the Happy Meal toy of Republican politics.” So says Chris Kelly, who has a good piece in Huffington today about Florida introducing a new Marriage Protection Amendment on the 2008 ballot. Forgive the dripping sarcasm, he makes a good point.

So come on down! And while you’re in there, marking the magic X that proves you’re not a homo — and that your life wasn’t a squalid waste of everyone’s time, because at least you got yerself hitched — why not also vote for a Republican president?

Something for you. Something for the GOP. It’s a get-out-the-vote win/win.

The amendment is being pushed by John Stemberger head of Florida4Marriage, which according to Kelly is

a Republican front group, run by a personal injury lawyer, to lure gay-hating boobs into the voting booths next November.

Although the the Federal “Defense” of Marriage Act applies to Florida, this push for a change to the state constitution is a “just in case” measure to firm up wording that clever homosexuals may, at some point in the future, use to challenge the definition of marriage and ultimately subject children to the “vast, untested social experiment” that is same sex marriage.

They get much of their support material from “Focus on the Family” who, when not embroiled against the ignoble war on Christmas, is propagating the gay-is-evil Christian world view with gems like these

  • No society needs homosexual coupling. In fact, too much of it would be harmful to society and that is why natural marriage and same-sex coupling cannot be considered socially equal.
  • It is an affront to African-Americans to say having past generations being prevented from taking a drink from a public water fountain or being sprayed down by fire hoses in a public park was on par to laws preventing a man from marrying another man. The comparison is shameful.
  • Supporters of the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) did not just dream up the need for such an amendment. We have been forced into this battle because a very small few want to constitutionally redefine marriage for all of us. Same-sex activists brought this fight to all of us. (Er…”very small few?”)

A little more digging at, and I discovered the predictably misogynistic take on heterosexual marriage. The best bits are “What I Didn’t Know About Men – Seven Revelations“. These include – men need respect, men are providers, men want more sex, and…

Men care about appearance.
What that means in practice: You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making the effort to take care of yourself — and he will take on significant cost or inconvenience in order to support you.

There’s plenty more, of course, including a the follow-up section “You Are Her Prince Charming“, but you can check it out yourself, if you’re so inclined.

What’s Uncle Sam Doing in My Marriage?

November 26, 2007

Art from NYTimes

Great op-ed in the Times this week examining “WHY do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry?” Columnist Stephanie Coontz notes:

For 16 centuries, Christianity…defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows…the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.

In 1215, the church decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church. But people who married illictly had the same rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate; the wife had the same inheritance rights; the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce.

Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.

Fast-forward to the early part of the 20th century and the US state legislature begins making it illegal for whites to marry blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos.

Twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict or a “mental defect.” Eighteen states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.

In the mid-20th century, governments began to get out of the business of deciding which couples were “fit” to marry. Courts invalidated laws against interracial marriage, struck down other barriers and even extended marriage rights to prisoners.

She points out that being unmarried does little to absolve one from responsibility toward a partner or your children, but it does deny one the rights granted only by a government-sanctioned union.

Remind me again, whose rights are defended in the Defense of Marriage Act, and why is the government involved at all?

The American Anthropological Association release this statement on marriage in 2004 in response to Bush’s introduction of the D of M Act:

Statement on Marriage and the Family from the American Anthropological Association

Arlington, Virginia; The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, the world’s largest organization of anthropologists, the people who study culture, releases the following statement in response to President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a threat to civilization.

“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that other civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

The Executive Board of the American anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”

Media may contact either of the names below: To discuss the AAA Statement please contact: Elizabeth M. Brumfiel, AAA President (847) 491-4564, office. To discuss anthropological research on marriage and family please contact: Roger Lancaster, Anthropologist, author, The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture , 2003 (202) 285-4241 cellular. [Emphasis original, links mine]

060607_bi_gaypanicex_2 Also check out Jacob Weisburg on SLATE in 2006, writing about the GOP’s “Gay Panic Button“. And the history of marriage on wiki.

Ruling for Transgender Rights in MD – Christian Conservatives Seriously Freaking Out

November 17, 2007

TgLegislation passed in Montgomery County Maryland this week that protected transgender rights “when it comes to housing, employment, accommodation, and taxi service”. As you might guess, an uproar quickly ensued. Much indignation seemed to be about (well, on top of the fact that transgender individuals deserve rights in the first place) the issue that transgenders have legal access to the restroom of their choice. From here, it was a short step to “Co-Ed Locker Rooms in Our Schools!” Co-ed? They’re um, missing the point…

Given that transgenders got shafted in last week’s proposal of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, this is somewhat heartening.

And even better, watching conservative groups go apeshit. Ooh, the outrage!

“Let Me Live Free While You Live Like I Tell You” – The Misplaced Morals of the Christian “Libertarian”

November 9, 2007

Statue_of_liberty_800_2Thanks to Suricou Raven at Moronality, I came across Vox Day’s blog, Vox Popoli, by way of his pro-Coulter post “Ann Is Crystal Clear”, which contends that


…women’s suffrage is completely incompatible with human liberty…

Vox backs this with the vague reasoning that “emotion” always leads to fear, which always leads to heightened preoccupation with homeland security. At least I think that’s what he means from the single sentence he devotes to the point:

“One cannot defend freedom on the basis of emotion, as fear always runs to promises of security, however nebulous.”

He slams-home his point of women-wreck-democracy-with-their-emotional-voting with the astute realization that

“…no bald politician has been elected in either the United States or the UK with the exception of Eisenhower and Churchill.”

I guess he means elected since women’s suffrage. I’m also guessing that baldness is preferable because less hair means more brains (which would actually give most women an advantage) – or it could be because the youngish Vox is, in fact, ah-hem...balding? – (and oh the irony that Vox’s email is “Vday“)
But this is so ridiculous, it hardly merits mention. What I want to speak about is this emerging trend, apparently known as Christian Libertarianism. Vox’s site has the brash sub-head of “Live Free or Die!” Denying half the population the right to vote is certainly on the right track.

True Libertarianism holds the noble principals of individual freedom and self responsibility. It advocates individuals making and accepting responsibility for their own social and economic decisions.In other words, you’re free to life your life the way you want as long as doing so doesn’t impinge on the rights of others to do the same…even when they do things you personally find depraved, dishonorable, or just plain dumb. And here’s the problem. I’m not saying you can’t be a Christian and a Libertarian, of course you can. But the moment you attempt to force others to live by the principals outlined by your religion, you are a Libertarian no longer.

In Steven Yate’s lengthy essay “How I Became A Christian Libertarian” he chronicles his intellectual journey and attempts to rationally synthesize the two disciplines.

Although Yate’s admits that “Libertarianism is rooted in a philosophy of natural rights that inhere in individuals, not groups,” and goes on to say the tenets of Christianity are not the opinions of a group but rather… well, simple truth. So it’s okay.

As far as I can tell, most Christian Libertarians explain their stance by first quoting scripture illustrating that god approves of a hands-off government and then point to a handful of bible stories that may be viewed as representing individual freedom and culpability. Right about now doubts will be cast as to whether non-Christian individuals can possibly handle this type of freedom without an overriding moral compass to keep our “appetites” in check. Instead of the government, which in the least usually forms laws based on consensus and is morphable over time, we instead have the vastly superior authority of Christ dictating allowable and prohibited behaviors. Great.

So while Christian Libertarians believe in liberty and that we all should be free to make our own choices, women should be denied reproductive rights, sex education is for the (preferably married) 21+ crowd only, and the deviancy of homosexuality should not be recognized, condoned or rewarded by the state. The fact that homeowners and straight married couples are rewarded by the government, while not exactly libertarian, is not so much of an issue.

To be fair, I did find one somewhat moderate stance. Michael Bindner, author of the site “The Christian Libertarian Party Manifesto” makes the astonishing realization that

“As Libertarians, criminalizing abortion is forever off the table.”Weigheddown

Hey, does this guy actually understand and embrace the principals of liberty? Well, no but he at least sees the hypocrisy so many others of his kind piously discount. Bindner basically says that abortion is morally wrong and we must work to stop it, but instead of outlawing the practice he wants to incentivize child-bearing and give special sliding-scale tax breaks based on the number of children in one’s family. Unfortunately, this too goes against the foundation of Libertarianism by putting the government in the role of encouraging a large-family lifestyle and once again we have the government enacting procedures that effect all of its citizens based on the views of a particular group.

He also has the idea that businesses should be forced to advance and reward women who take a year off to have a baby in the same way they would for someone who worked that year. How this could ever be measured or implemented is unclear, and if it’s good or not is not the point. This move makes him more Democrat or Socialist than anything else. The point is – it’s not Libertarian!

Like I said, this is the”moderate” CL view on non-Christian-friendly social issues.

The more common stance? Vox himself wrote an article for the Christian Conservative World Daily News in 2003, in which he explains

“The basic principle of Libertarianism is not anarchic. There are real limits. My free will ends where yours begins. Neither the community nor I have any claim whatsoever on your property or your life, and a libertarian legal system would be structured around that principle.”

So far so good. And then…

“Do not be misled by the false “pro-choice” rhetoric of the infanticidal abortionettes; when one individual decides the fate of another, it is nothing more than the ancient law of tooth and claw. Still, their very terminology is the homage vice pays to virtue.”

All the more disturbing because I basically agree with the first two-thirds of his article, which talks accurately about Libertarianism. And then he wallops you with this craziness at the end.

For some real self-contradiction and clumsy scramble of logic, check out Bindner’s section on gay rights, where he tries to find cohesion with “everyone should have personal liberty” and “but gays are abhorrent and really shouldn’t do those things.”

Why did they even come into the Libertarian camp at all?

This is my point. “Yes, freedom. Freedom, except…” We all have our personal exceptions, and they are all different. If you allow any one person’s, or group of people’s exception to form a law restricting others, you are not for true freedom and liberty.

Okay, assault, theft, murder, fraud, personal violation, all these are punishable because they intrude upon the liberty of another. However, whether I wear a seatbelt in my car, or someone says fuck on the radio, or two women marry and raise children, or whether my doctor and I (or my clergy and I, or my boyfriend and I, or just me alone) decide that I don’t want to continue my pregnancy… The Libertarian stance firmly holds that none of it should be in the hands of a government that can take your money and/or lock you up not living the way it decrees.

Allowing Jesus to dictate the “exceptions” to liberty does not make the exceptions inherently okay. Your god is not my god so keep him out of my life!

So, Christian Libertarians, find a new term, you’re corrupting what was once a perfectly legitimate political stance and sullying it with god. Damn it.

One more guy – I can’t resist…

Okay, this guy is a nut-job, although reasonable enough to admit he doesn’t speak for every Christian or every Christian Libertarian.

The self-delusion goes so far that The Fountain of Truth founder Doug Newman will talk all about liberty and individual freedom, and then detail all the ways that Bush has been too lenient on abortion and homosexuals. In fact, he seems to think Libertarianism means not wanting to pay your taxes and the “the government screws everything up.” Inexplicably, though wanting to outlaw abortion and gay marriage, he seems to think the Branch Davidians should have been left alone

In the midst of a nauseating number of pages of essays, quotes, and personal rants, I found this lovely poem called “The Old Paths” (anon), with stanzas such as:

I liked the old paths, when
Moms were at home.
Dads were at work.

Brothers went into the army.
And sisters got married BEFORE having

Moms could cook;
Dads would work;
would behave..

Women wore the jewelry;
and Men
wore the pants.

Women looked like ladies;
Men looked like gentlemen;

and children looked decent.

Cursing was wicked;
Drinking was evil;
divorce was unthinkable

The flag was honored;
America was
and God was welcome!

We read the Bible in public;

Prayed in school;
And preached from house to house
To be
called an American was worth dying for;
To be called a Christian was worth
living for;
To be called a traitor was a shame!

Sex was a
personal word.
Homosexual was an unheard of word,
and abortion was
an illegal word.

Laws were based on the Bible;
Homes read the
and churches taught the Bible.

If you believe no one should tell you how to live but others should be made to live the way you do – you’re NOT Libertarian! YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALIST WHO DOESN’T WANT TO PAY TAXES!

Stop using liberty as your premise, and make up a new damn term for your political leanings.

Why Ron Paul is Not a Libertarian

November 2, 2007


Question: How can you be a libertarian in favor of the defense of marriage act and overturning roe v wade?
Answer: You can’t.

If you feel the government should control some of the most intimate aspects of its citizens’ lives, you are not a libertarian. Libertarians believe in liberty. Personal, social, economic freedom. The government stays out of your life. This means more than lower taxes and privatization. If this is as far as your liberties go, you are not libertarian, you are a republican. The misuse of this word by a candidate who’s erroneously trying to distinguish himself from the pack is particularly vexing because this is the first time that the principals of libertarianism are even part of the mainstream presidential campaign – and they’re being misconstrued.

Want to know where you stand? Take this quiz. Or this one. Or this.

Click the box to the right for my results on the Politopia Quiz. (I’m the red star.)

Paul’s site divides the issues into categories such as “personal liberty” and “life and liberty”. A quick look makes it clear that on certain issues, Paul needs a dictionary, because like too many others, Paul defines liberty as the freedom to live your life the way he thinks you should live it.

Here’s the libertarian stance from the party site (these are just excepts of issues relevant to this election):

On Sexuality and Gender Issues:

Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships. Sexuality or gender should have no impact on the rights of individuals.

Recommended actions…

♦ Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state laws and amendments
defining marriage.

♦ Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships.

♦ Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration.

♦ End the Defense Department practice of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation.

On Reproductive Rights:

The tragedies caused by unplanned, unwanted pregnancies are aggravated and sometimes created by government policies of censorship, restriction, regulation and prohibition. Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on both sides, we
believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

  • We oppose government laws and policies that restrict the opportunity to choose alternatives to abortion.
  • We support an end to all subsidies for childbearing or child prevention built into our present laws.

Paul is a self-described “unshakable foe” of abortion rights and in 2005 he introduced “the sanctity of life act” that would legally declare that life begins at conception. He is for overturning roe v wade and putting abortion laws in the hands of the states, and a proponent of a federal ban on late-term abortion.

He is for the Defense of Marriage Act, against adoption by gay couples, and thinks the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” is “a decent policy.”

This is yet another case where someone will fervently believe in the virtues of freedom…except in the few cases where they personally feel people are doing something that needs to be controlled….

So stop using the word libertarian!

Military Inadvertently Recruits Gays

October 18, 2007

This is too good. According to the USA Today article Military Inadvertently Recruits Gays, the US military bought ad space aimed at new recruits on, a networking site for “Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone Else.” Dealing with GLEE’s parent company, Community Connect, and working through private ad agencies, the military purchased a “diversity and inclusion” placement package that targeted “special interest” web communities such as Latino, Asian-American, and gays.

Steve Ralls of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay advocacy group, commented:

“The majority of GLEE’s members would not be allowed to be as open in the military as they are online…[gays] have been drummed out of the armed forces simply for using sites like GLEE.”

Despite General Schwartzkopf’s long-standing claim that “the presence of open homosexuality would have an unacceptable detrimental and disruptive impact on the cohesion, morale and esprit of the Armed Forces,” the Guardian reports a different outcome for British Forces. It’s Official: gays do not harm forces relates the state of British Military ten months following a reversal of the ban on gays in 2000. An unidentified British military a paratrooper is quoted:

Our key priority is recruiting tough, fit, team players. We need as many as possible. This sex thing has nothing whatsoever to do with their ability as soldiers. It appears to be an obsession of armchair warriors.

Although a recent article in the British conservative Daily Mail describes a “spate of resignations in protest” by members of the British Armed Forces in 2000, “American scholars” dissect and debunk the claims here.

A 2007 CNN poll reveals evolving attitudes toward homosexuality, including growing acceptance that it is genetic and unchangeable. The poll also found that 79% of Americans believe that openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military.

Changing attitudes on the right can also be seen in the June 2007 Fabriozio/MaLaughlin poll:
The Elephant Looks In the Mirror Ten Year Later