Friday, April 24, 2015

Nuns walk out

In Marin County CA, nuns who teach in a Catholic high school walked out, because they were offended that students were handing out flyers about GLSEN's Day of Silence. For those who don't know, this is a nationwide day of protest against bullying, where students who support LGBT rights simply say.... nothing. The nuns, however, feel that it is offensive and anti-Catholic. That is, that standing up in silence somehow is offensive to the nuns.
When some Marin Catholic High students began handing out Day of Silence-related stickers and flyers on campus Friday morning, the five nuns felt “felt compromised, offended and uncomfortable,” Sister Clare Marie, one of the teachers, later wrote in a lengthy e-mail to her students.

She said the sisters “do not support bigotry or any kind of prejudice,” but that they were compelled to act out against an event promoted by a group that “believes actively in promoting homosexuality in all classrooms, K-12.”

Her e-mail also accused the group’s members of speaking out “against Christians who do not share their views” and handing out materials that “say that any church which teaches homosexuality is sinful is an 'oppressor’ and should be opposed.”
 Okay, first of all, this is not about recruiting kids to be gay.  They are, or they aren't.  It's standing up to bullying, like the anti-gay flannel shirt bullies in the school in Pennsylvania.
The next day, a group of students walked the halls at McGuffey High raising awareness of what they unimaginatively dubbed “Anti Gay Day.” Some had “anti-gay” scrawled on their hands and a Christian cross etched on their flesh with a black marker to show how committed they were to being Jesus’ truest disciples.

Others let their freaky flannel fly on social media, where they “tagged” known and suspected LGBT students at their school with homophobic insults and Bible verses. A few GSA-affiliated students found pithy, but hateful, flyers saying “ANTI-GAY” stuck to their lockers....

.... What had a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person ever done to them except get out of the way whenever these boys strutted en masse down the hall?
 But more than that, the sisters personify something identified by Irish equality campaigner and drag queen, Panti Bliss:
So now ... gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by our betters.

.... And a jumped-up queer like me should know that the word “homophobia” is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia – homophobes are.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Same sex marriage actually a win for traditionalists

Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic:
Gay marriage has been successful in the courts precisely because, given both the actual behavior of married Americans and the prevailing legal logic of many decades, it was impossible to maintain the fiction that civil marriage remained an inherently procreative institution, even if sacramental marriage in some faiths remains so. It took the arrival of gay marriage to wake some traditionalists up to the fact that that religious and secular notions of what marriage is had long since parted ways. But the logic of same-sex marriage requires no leaps beyond what heterosexuals had already made. It fits within the Enlightenment model of civil marriage as a contract. For traditionalists, its logic is such that nothing new is lost....
Why? Because if civil unions/domestic partnerships had been the norm, straights would have wanted access to them too, precisely because they weren't marriage. That's what happened in France, for example.
Instead, a culturally influential minority is now included in marriage, so it remains the default way that couples join; religious people are as free as ever to marry in a fully traditional sense; and secular straights retain more traditional aspects and attitudes than they would if they'd switched over to a new paradigm of coupledom.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The upcoming SCOTUS decision

Three lessons emerge from this brief history of same-sex marriage litigation in the United States. First, the evolution of constitutional law has more to do with changing social and political mores than with traditional sources of constitutional law such as text, original understanding, and precedent. Same-sex marriage has advanced from an absurd constitutional argument to a compelling one – at least in the mind of five Justices – because public attitudes regarding sexual orientation have been transformed over the last half-century.

To a greater extent than most people probably are aware, other landmark Court rulings on issues of social reform were similarly inconceivable only a decade or two before they happened. ... 
Second, Court decisions on issues of social reform that advance far beyond public opinion often generate potent political backlashes. Brown, Roe v. Wade, and Furman v. Georgia all had such an effect. ... 
Third, the factors that predict political backlash – which include public opinion on the underlying issue, the relative intensity of preference on the two sides of the issue, and the ease with which a particular Court ruling can be circumvented or defied – suggest that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in 2015 will produce only minimal political backlash.

Polls show that fifty-five to sixty percent of Americans support same-sex marriage today—perhaps triple the percentage of twenty-five years ago. Moreover, as recently as ten years ago, opponents of same-sex marriage had much more intense feelings on the issue than did supporters. According to polls taken then, only six percent of same-sex-marriage supporters said they would be unwilling to support a political candidate with whom they disagreed on the issue, while thirty-four percent of opponents said they were willing to make same-sex marriage a voting issue. Among evangelical Christians, that number rose to fifty-five percent. That large disparity in intensity of preference between the two sides of the same-sex marriage issue no longer exists today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poll: Americans reject RFRA laws

From the HRC
According to MSNBC, the NBC News poll “found that 63% of Americans say business owners should be required to provide products or services to individuals who are gay or lesbian, while 37% say the business owner should be allowed to refuse if homosexuality is against their religious beliefs… Across all ages and races, Americans say a business must serve gays and lesbians no matter the owner’s religious beliefs.”

This is the second poll released this week showing strong support for LGBT Americans to be protected against discrimination. Earlier this week, a poll released by Reuters/Ipsos showed similarly showed, that voters are rejecting so-called Indiana-style “Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) bills that allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT citizens.
So, why is one of the major parties so out of line with what Americans want, and why aren't they being called on that?

Speaking of polls, did anyone notice NOM's amicus brief to the Supreme Court? It was all about trying to argue that all the polls supporting marriage equality are somehow wrong.  But, NOM, even if you were right (and you're not) it doesn't matter.  Perhaps you missed the part about the SCOTUS not caring about public opinion, but about law....

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Faith for marriage in Ireland: Video Sunday

The Republic of Ireland is voting on marriage equality in may. here's a statement from people of faith supporting equality.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Indiana steps in it

So, Govenor Mike Pence signed a "religious freedom" act, in a room where he was surrounded by religious in habits and notorious anti-gay campaigners.  And now he's having to defend this mess against a righteous backlash.

Indiana's law goes farther than any other law for several reasons.  First, most such acts reflect acts of government that impinge on an individuals exercise of religion.  And they do not superseded existing anti-discrimination protections.

Indiana's law applies not just to individuals, but to for-profit companies, and not just to government interactions, but to interactions between citizens.  It is broad and sweeping.

Ed Kilgore writes,
So Indiana is trying to create a genuinely plenary zone of sanctioned discrimination, including every kind of entity and protecting discriminators from legal action from any direction. The first point carries it beyond SCOTUS interpretation of the federal RFRA in the Hobby Lobby case as covering "closely held" corporations, but not all for-profits. And the second means Indiana isn't just protecting religious folk against the all-powerful government, but against the very targets of their discrimination.
He adds,
If Pence was more adept as a communicator, he might have tried the "grand bargain" defense: "religious liberty" protections are in effect a surrender by cultural conservatives who will stop trying to ban things they don't like in exchange for an assurance they can quietly live their lives according to their faith. But Indiana's example is actually blowing up that argument as well. The more they talk about it, advocates of broad-based "religious liberty" laws sound like those conservatives back in the day who offered to accept the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if the public accommodations section was removed.
In 1964, a South Carolina Barbeque owner named Maurice Bessinger argued that his religious beliefs meant that he did not have to serve blacks in his restaurants (and he also felt slavery was religiously justified.  The federal court found that religious beliefs did not justify discriminatory behavior in public accommodation.  Why is this different?

Oh, yeah.  Teh Gayz.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Presbyterians threatened by equality opponents (Voices of Faith)

Click image for more
Voices of Faith
While we are seeing "license to discriminate" laws around the south and midwest, purporting that religious freedom demands the right to discriminate against LGBT people, i want to remind you about our allies. For example the Presbyterian Church, one of the biggest mainline protestant denominations, recently came out for marriage equality and as our allies, they are now sharing the risk.

From Missouri:

Someone upset by the recent decision by Presbyterian Church (USA) to allow pastors to perform same-sex marriages has sent threatening letters to at least four churches in Missouri. 
The anonymous letters cite Scripture and prophesied that the churches would burn and that pastors would be fired because of the recent amendment to the constitution of Presbyterian Church (USA). 
“I was grieved and fearful for our pastors and churches,” said Anita Hendrix, leader of the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, the denomination’s governing body that has jurisdiction over churches in the region....

Speaking about the letters, Hendrix said: “I just ask for people to pray for our churches and pray for the person who sent these letters that God might work in his or her life.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Resources to counter anti-gay "Christians"

If you look at the tabs at the top of this blog, there's one that says "Re: Theology".  It's a permanent page on this site with links to helpful resources to counter those who claim that Christianity has to be anti-gay.

The text of this blog post recapitulates that current page, as it stands today.  If you have additional resources, put them in the comments.  I will update the Theology page accordingly.

Here is a direct link to the theology page for future reference:

Tired of getting hammered by anti-gay "Christians"?  First, remember, the majority of Christians are actually pro-equality (despite what the Evangelical right or Roman Catholic bishops claim). And the Bible doesn't address our modern understanding of homosexuality.  (It's not so great on astronomy or medicine either!)  Here are some tools to fight back.

Theological resources for fighting the anti-gay Christians
1) From the Episcopal Church, "Doing the Theology":
2) Dealing with the Bible arguments:
3) The book, Reasonable and Holy: engaging same sexuality, by the Rev. Tobias Haller, BSG

4) The workbook, Reconciling Journey: a devotional workbook for gay Christians

5)  Journey towards acceptance: theologians and same sex love (PDF) by  Savitri Hensman is an overview of theological discussion and debate from the last 60 years.

6) God Believes in Love: Straight talk about gay marriage , book by Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson

Testimony from gay Christians.
1) Books
2) Films

Lots more resources on this Daily Kos diary from 2008
Also see the series of posts here on Voices of Faith Speak Out

Friday, March 13, 2015

European Parliament: same sex marriage a civil and human right

The European Parliament on Thursday called on EU member states to recognise civil unions and same-sex marriage as a civil and human right and urged governments and EU institutions to contribute to further discussion in this area....  [The European Parliament] acknowledged "the legalisation of marriage and civil unions between same-sex couples in a growing number of countries around the world, currently 17" and encouraged "the EU institutions and member states to further contribute towards reflection on the recognition of marriage or civil unions between people of the same sex as a political and social issue and a matter of civil and human rights". 
My emphasis.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Own the discrimination

In Oklahoma, the extremist legislature is working to pass a bill that would allow any discrimination as long as it's religious in  motivation.  Basically, if you claim religion, you get to be exempt from laws.  An amendment to the legislation has been proposed that would require you to post explicitly what minority groups you choose to discriminate against.

Dislike Jews?  How about blacks?  Women a problem?  What about gays and lesbians?  And of course, the group everyone opposes, the transgendered.

I say, yes.  Make them post a sign.  Make them own their bigotry:  No fags allowed. Let them be proud of it. 

The amendment to HB1371....would require religious businesses to come out of the closet.

“Any person not wanting to participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites,” the amendment states.

“The notice may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race.”
Ryan Kiesel, director of ACLU of Oklahoma, also praised the amendment, saying that it “very pointedly exposes the absurdity of creating a new era of legalized segregation.”

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's not the finish line

Frank Bruni writes how, even as marriage advances, it still is a statement to be out.  THere's still an "ick" to overcome.
One especially interesting discovery in the Glaad poll was how much unease lingered even in respondents who formally approved of gay marriage or of civil unions with full benefits. Twenty percent of these people said they’d nonetheless feel uncomfortable attending a same-sex wedding.
for example,
About 30 percent of the respondents who didn’t identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender said that it would unsettle them to learn that their physician or child’s teacher did.

Close to 45 percent said that they would be uneasy about bringing a child to a same-sex wedding. Thirty-six percent feel uncomfortable when they see a same-sex couple hold hands.
He concludes,
I never lose sight of how far this country has come. My relief usually eclipses my rancor. But to celebrate or to slide into complacency is grossly premature, and it’s wrong, because I have every right to walk the streets of my neighborhood fearlessly, no matter whose fingers are interlaced with my own. Our clutch isn’t a taunt or provocation. It’s just an expression of tenderness — of basic humanity. In a world altered and advanced enough, it would be an innocuous, unnoticed part of the scenery.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Amici briefs

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on marriage equality on April 28th. Friends of the court (amici) are filing briefs to support one or the other side.

Our side has  379 major companies, ranging from Alcoa to Apple Computer to American Airlines-- and that's just a few of the A's.
Exactly 379 corporations and employer organizations urged the Supreme Court to strike down state bans on gay marriage, according to a friend-of-the-court brief obtained by The Huffington Post. The document was expected to be filed late Thursday morning.
“Employers are better served by a uniform marriage rule that gives equal dignity to employee relationships,” reads the brief, filed by global law firm Morgan Lewis. “Allowing same-sex couples to marry improves employee morale and productivity, reduces uncertainty, and removes the wasteful administrative burdens imposed by the current disparity of state law treatment.”
And over 300 national Republicans.
More than 300 veteran Republican lawmakers, operatives and consultants have filed a friend of the court brief at the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage late Thursday.

The amicus brief, organized by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, was filed for the four same-sex marriage cases the Court will hear on April 28 that could legalize the unions nationwide. In 2013, Mehlman marshaled a similar effort for the case that overturned California’s Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex marriage in the state.....

The brief makes a conservative case for the court to strike down same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, arguing they are “inconsistent with amici’s understanding of the properly limited role of government.”

“Although amici hold a broad spectrum of socially and politically conservative, moderate, and libertarian views, amici share the view that laws that bar same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage, with all its attendant profoundly important rights and responsibilities, are inconsistent with the United States Constitution’s dual promises of equal protection and due process,” the brief states.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Views of marriage by state

From the Public Religion Research Institute

Alabama fights

There's a phenomenon called "last place aversion" which basically says that people need someone to look down upon, and the closer they are to the bottom themselves, the more desperately they need to do so.

This explains a lot of the festering racism in this country, and I think also explains a lot of animosity against LGBT people.

THOSE people.  The ones not like us. Someone to look down upon.

What else to say about the "Christians" in Alabama who are resisting federal court orders regarding marriage equality?  Now the Alabama Supreme Court  has stepped in with lots of scare-quotes about marriage, and essentially said the federal court has no jurisdiction.
Because there is no ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether bans on same-sex couples’ marriages are constitutional, the Alabama Supreme Court stated that it is free to reach its own conclusion about the constitutionality of Alabama’s bans.
What is it about the South?  Last place aversion, indeed.