Thursday, December 11, 2014

Talking to a gay person can change minds

Why we have to keep coming out and telling our stories.
Some anti-gay voters in California changed their minds five time faster than their neighbors on gay rights, according to the new study. The secret? Openly gay activists went door to door, engaging these conservative opponents in “heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations” about what marriage meant to them, according to a press release about the study. The activists didn’t just push gay marriage, they made a point of listening to their opponents' concerns and experiences, the release said.

 The other thing is, the effect lasted.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Religious Freedom redux

 Last week Michigan's legislature passed a sweeping "religious freedom" bill that allows one to refuse service on religious grounds to Teh Gay:
While Bolger insists the bill is meant to protect, say, the Muslim butcher who wants to prepare food in line with halal practices, or the Jewish mother who doesn’t want an autopsy performed on her son, civil liberties advocates warn it could be used as a defense for the landlord who wants to evict a gay tenant, or the pharmacist who doesn’t want to provide birth control, all because of sincerely held religious beliefs. 
This emboldened Kansas to revive its own bill:

Last session’s religious freedom bill extended to public employees, meaning that county clerks, for example, could refuse to serve same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses. Some attorneys read the bill as being broad enough that it would have extended to all public employees, including police officers, who could theoretically refuse to help a same-sex married couple based on their religious beliefs.

Read more here:
As one person commented,
“Take out the word ‘gay’ and put any other word in there and is it acceptable? Put ‘Muslim,’ put ‘African American,’ put an ‘interracial couple’… does it sound better? Does it sound worse?” she said. “We’re not talking about churches. We’re not talking about forcing a minister to marry someone in a church. That’s protected.”
 Everyone who supports this so-called "freedom" which is really religious privilege, should be forced to put a sign in their window:  We don't Serve Fags.  I wonder how good their business would be if they had to own their bigotry.

Read more here:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

No marriages in Mississippi yet

I know, Mississippi, right? 

The Federal District Court over turned the MS anti-equality law on the 25th, but today the 5th circuit denied the effort to combine this with the TX and LA cases scheduled to be heard in January, although they fast-tracked the schedule  They also stayed the marriages.

But these words from the opinion are great:
In reviewing the arguments of the parties and conducting its own research, the court determined that an objective person must answer affirmatively to the following questions:
  • Can gay and lesbian citizens love?
  • Can gay and lesbian citizens have long-lasting and committed relationships?
  • Can gay and lesbian citizens love and care for children?
  • Can gay and lesbian citizens provide what is best for their children?
  • Can gay and lesbian citizens help make their children good and productive citizens?
  • Without the right to marry, are gay and lesbian citizens subjected to humiliation and indignity?
  • Without the right to marry, are gay and lesbian citizens subjected to state-sanctioned prejudice?

Answering “Yes” to each of these questions leads the court to the inescapable conclusion that same-sex couples should be allowed to share in the benefits, and burdens, for better or for worse, of marriage.
ThinkProgress also notes the poor argument that equality should be left up to the democratic process :
[Judge] Reeves was not compelled by the idea that the law should wait for people to come around, citing a 2011 survey that found that nearly half of Mississippi Republicans still oppose interracial marriage. “If the passage of 50 years has had such negligible impact on the public’s opinion of interracial marriage in the Deep South,” he wrote, “it is difficult to see how gay and lesbian Mississippians can depend on the political process to provide them any timely relief.” 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Get married, get fired?

From Al Jazeera (BTW, I really like their reporting)
[T]he dilemma now facing a growing number of gay couples: They can legally marry, but they may also be fired from their jobs, thrown out of their apartments and denied service at businesses because of their sexual orientation. Many say the increased visibility of same-sex partners, even in small towns in conservative states, will lead to greater acceptance of gays. But particularly in the short to medium term, it could prompt more instances of discrimination.

“I didn’t expect marriage equality to happen so quickly — and it’s a good thing. I’m not complaining,” says Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, an LGBT advocacy group. “But because you don’t have civil rights protections in place, someone even talking about their marriage could be used as grounds to terminate someone.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

You can't be "nice" and deny equality

As we move into the end game of the marriage equality issue, our opponents are trying to figure out how to live with us married LGBT folk.  (Mostly, they are trying not to , on the basis of religious freedom).

Some of them are trying to tell us there's nothing personal, that they may oppose our marriages but hey, they aren't anti-gay bigots.

Here's an oldie but a goodie, on how you can't be "nice" while denying equality. 

First, the author begins with a discussion of a writer named Halee Gray Scott , who wants to separate her anti-marriage equality views from that of a more openly homophobic man, Charles Worley.
Worley wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality because he hates them. Scott wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality for other reasons.

See? See how very different they are? Same result. Same vote. Same fundamental discrimination enshrined in law. But Worley is mean. Scott is nice.
That sort of assumption — lumping her in with people like Charles Worley just because she wants the same legal outcome as they do — is hurtful. It wounds her feelings. Being compared to people like that is not nice.

And people should be nice to her, just as she’s being so nice to all the LGBT citizens whose legal equality she wants to nicely deny.

“I’m not asking for anyone to approve or accept my views,” Scott writes, magnanimously.

And it’s true. She doesn’t want anyone else to approve or accept her religious perspective. All she asks is that they allow her to write it into law....
Yeah, that's the part they miss.

But the argument is that you can't be NICE and still treat people badly.
Look, here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a nice person. And it doesn’t matter if your tone, attitude, sentiments and facial expressions are all very sweet, kindly and sympathetic-seeming. If you’re opposing legal equality, then you don’t get to be nice. Opposing legal equality is not nice and it cannot be done nicely.


It’d be terrific if Scott’s heartfelt plea for “a hermeneutic of grace” toward Christians who oppose legal equality had also thought to include such a presumption of grace toward the human beings whose legal equality those Christians continue to deny.

Scott wants to carve out a space in which she can be unfair, but still kind. Such a space does not exist and cannot exist.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kansas and South Carolina

We added Kansas and South Carolina this least, technically, although they are still kicking and screaming.  Here's the map from ThinkProgress.

So, who's left?

A Federal Judge in Mississippi heard a case this week.

The 5th Circuit (TX, MS and LA) and 11th circuit (FL, AL, GA) have cases moving up from the states. Cases are pending in SD, ND, and NE and AR;  these haven't had federal rulings yet or circuit decisions.  MO is (like KS and SC) trying to resist the circuit ruling that applies.  In  Puerto Rico  the case  may be moving up to the 1st circuit.  (All the states in the 1st have already got marriage equality.)

I will bet that we will have 50-state marriage equality by the summer of 2016.  I think it is possible that the Supremes will hold off on a case this year.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

6th circuit signs date with SCOTUS

The Supreme Court has been silent on the subject of marriage equality, tacitly approving it by ignoring appeals requests. Since all the circuit courts thus far have found for equality, there's been no conflict for the Supremes. This has led to a huge expansion of equality to 32 states.

But today, the conservative 6th circuit broke the streak, and issued a ruling finding that marriage discrimination is okay. For some reason, the bulk of their argument is that the people should be able to decide. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote,
When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

The problem is this. The Constitution exists in part to protect the rights of unpopular minorities from the tyranny of the majority. We do not put basic rights to the ballot. If we had, schools in the South would still be segregated, inter-racial marriage would still be illegal, and husbands could control a woman's property.

This was called out in a brilliant dissent by Judge Martha Daughtrey.
The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy,” Daughtrey wrote in her dissent. “But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal: whether a state’s constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage violates equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it.
This makes for a "circuit split" and the appeal to the Supremes is on its way. And then Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy must decide what they want their legacies to be.

Monday, November 3, 2014

If I have gay children .... (Voices of Faith)

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Voices of Faith
From a pastor, a promise to his children:

As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now… 
1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. 
My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret. 
..... Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.....
2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them. 
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal. 
I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. .... 
3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them. 
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love. ....
If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them. 
4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children. 
If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are. 
God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. .....
And then he goes on to take on his fellow "Christians" who are angry or offended.

This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you. 
You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions. 
You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything. 
And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Video Sunday: The Body of Christ

Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber asked her LGBT congregants to speak on being part of the body of Christ.  From her Facebook page:

I was asked to make a 5 minute video for an Evangelical on-line church leadership conference called The Nines The conference is centered on "culture clash" - including what is called "the issue of homosexuality". I conceded my time to a bunch of queer folks at church. Here is the result.
 You'll have to click through to watch this one. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Voices of Faith: The toll of "Christian" love on LGBTs

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Voices of Faith
From the Huff Po, a writer calls out "Christians" for the damage that they do.
Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their devastating stories of exclusion and isolation, of unanswered prayers to change, of destructive conversion therapies, of repeated suicide attempts, and of being actively and passively driven from faith by people of faith. 
Church, this is the reality of our theology on homosexuality. 
This is the cost of our religion to the LGBT community. More accurately, it's the cost of our religion to LGBT human beings. This is the painful collateral damage that comes when we see principles and ignore people; when we refuse to give them the dignity they deserve. 
Apparently love does hurt -- really, really badly. 
The most common defense I've heard over the past 14 days from Christians who believe that being gay is both chosen and sinful has been some variation of the supposedly well-meaning "Well, we're just loving people by being honest with them by giving them the truth. Telling people the truth is loving them." 
I have a crammed, bursting inbox of "truth" for you if you're interested in reading, Church. 
It's full of vile profanity, and utter contempt, and crude jokes, and physical violence, and white-hot fear. It's packed with school-hallway harassment, and city-street beatdowns, and church shunning, and workplace hazing, and brutal self-harm, and all sorts of perpetual, personal terrorism. 
And none of it looks a thing like love to me.
He goes on,
However we want to frame it or justify it, the net result of our religion to so many gay people is that entire families are being torn apart, sent to the shadows, and horribly mistreated in the name of Jesus. Real flesh-and-blood people are going through uninvited, individual Hell every day at the hands of people who claim Christ. The church's treatment of the LGBT community people has been downright sinful, and it's killing our testimony to the world. 
We're making it virtually impossible for gay people to exist in our churches, and then feeling justified in damning them for walking away from God when they leave. The truth is that so often they aren't turning away from God; they're just removing themselves from harm's way. 
We are losing credibility to those outside organized Christianity, not because we're "condoning sin" but because when the rubber meets the road, we really don't know how to "love the sinner" in any way that remotely resembles Jesus, and our "God is love" platitudes ring hollow. 
Church, this is our legacy that we are building in these days to the LGBT community and those who love them, and I assure you it's not a legacy of love. 
I don't know what the answer is for you, and I can't tell you how your theology gets expressed in the trenches of real people's lives. I only know that we as Christ's church can do better, regardless of our theological stance. We have to do better. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why tell the truth when the lies are so compelling?

You may have heard that there's a suit filed in Idaho by a wedding chapel who claims they are being threatened by the city over their refusal to marry same sex couples.  Not true.      It's a PR stunt by the right.

Mike Huckabee tells the lie:
"Remember when same-sex marriage activists used to claim that it would never infringe on other people’s religious beliefs? Well, that was a lie....Donald and Evelyn Knapp own a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, called The Hitching Post. They’re both ordained ministers and devoutly religious, so they declined to perform a same-sex wedding."
Facts are so inconvenient:
"The city of Coeur d’Alene has been contacted by a huge volume of people inquiring about our anti-discrimination ordinance, passed in 2013 by the City Council. These contacts have been a reaction to a lawsuit filed by the owners of a local marriage chapel, the Hitching Post, which claims the city has taken inappropriate action against their business for their decision to not perform same-sex marriages. In fact, the city has received no complaints about the Hitching Post and we have never threatened them. If we did get a complaint we would investigate it like any other complaint to determine if there is a legitimate violation of a city code. If we investigate it and determine that they fall within our exemption for religious corporations, we would not pursue it further because they would be exempt."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Young Catholics overwhelmingly pro-gay marriage

From Pew Research, even more evidence that the Catholic PEOPLE are gay friendly even if the Catholic BISHOPS are not.

Notice that even Catholics in their 50s show a majority in favor of marriage.