Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Best. Mother. Ever. (Aside from my own.)

Mother of gay son berates Irish minister over civil partnerships - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News

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Read a letter sent by the mother of a gay son in Ireland, after they passed recent legislation extending certain benefits to same-sex couples. My favorite line:
"You will not tell my sons that they are not equal to their brothers, friends and the rest of society."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Straight makes claim for homophobic abuse.

Straight teacher makes claim for homophobic abuse - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News

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I couldn't make up my mind about what I thought about this, so I thought I'd throw it out there. I was going to write something about discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientiation or gender identity. And yes harrassment is harrassment. But is this guy going too far? I'm admittedly confused.

Please comment.

The harm in blatant discrimination.

Court throws out ban on exposing children to gays |

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I'm glad there's a court out there that recognizes what the real priorities are.
The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday threw out a judge’s order that prohibited children in a divorce case from having any contact with their father’s gay and lesbian friends.
The ruling was hailed by gay rights groups who said the decision focuses on the needs of children instead of perpetuating a stigma on the basis of sexual orientation.
The state high court’s decision overturned Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards’ blanket prohibition against exposing the children to their father’s gay partners and friends.
“Such an arbitrary classification based on sexual orientation flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children,” Justice Robert Benham wrote.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We are not godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers.

The Barna Group - Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults Provides Surprising Insights

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“People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts,” declared the best-selling author of numerous books about faith and culture. “A substantial majority of gays cite their faith as a central facet of their life, consider themselves to be Christian, and claim to have some type of meaningful personal commitment to Jesus Christ active in their life today.

“The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians. Gay adults clearly have a different way of interpreting the Bible on a number of central theological matters, such as perspectives about God. Homosexuals appreciate their faith but they do not prioritize it, and they tend to consider faith to be individual and private rather than communal.

“It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles. Although there are clearly some substantial differences in the religious beliefs and practices of the straight and gay populations, there may be less of a spiritual gap between straights and gays than many Americans would assume.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Human rights to sport?

Sarkozy accused of abandoning human rights after Yade is moved to sport - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News

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Bad news.
Ms Yade, 32, had been outspoken in her support of gay rights. She took the lead at the United Nations calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. France submitted a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly in December. 66 countries supported it.

Color me queer.

We've Trained the Media to Think We're Rich and White. That's a Problem / Queerty

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Queerty raises an interesting and important point of discussion about the [lack of] representation of queers of color in the media.

Anyone want to collaborate on an inclusive, alternative PRIDE publication?

On a related topic . . . I was at the New York City Heritage of Pride Parade yesterday. I couldn't catch all of it, but from what I did see, there were some disparities, mainly along racial and ethnic lines. It wasn't hard to see that the major groups where severly lacking in diversity, but so were the groups whose missions were outreach to LGBT persons of color. I can't help but think these groups undermine their causes by not reaching out and gathering support from all sectors of the LGBT community.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marriage isn't the only issue.

New Protections for Transgender Federal Workers -

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John Berry, the director of the federal agency in charge of such workplace issues, the Office of Personnel Management, said in an interview on Tuesday that the administration was not trying to hide its work on the new provisions. Mr. Berry noted that he had mentioned them last week at a news briefing about the president’s same-sex benefits plan, though it came up only briefly in a discussion that mostly focused on the complaints.
Ok, so the same-sex benefits plan doesn't include health care or retirement benefits. And there was the motion to dimiss the DOMA case. Surely there's a lot to complain about. But there's still a lot more headway to be made in terms of other LGBT human rights issues, especially in terms of transgender issues. It's just sad to see that this news item got lost under all the complaints. It's still a long road to same-sex marriage across all 50 states, and I think we can make even more progress on other issues. And while I wish that there was more press coverage of the legislation guaranteeting protection, I can appreciate President Obama sneaking it through. He's making steps, albeit little, towards full-equality for LGBT persons. We'll see if this strategy works.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Times of Harvey Milk

"It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions." Harvey Milk

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Subtle significance.

The Advocate Refers to Trans Woman as a Gay Man

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"The Advocate referred to this historic story as "New York's first legal same-sex marriage" but the problem is that neither Kimah nor Jason identify as gay. Jason identifies as straight and Kimah is a trans woman. Kimah hopes to undergo sex re-assignment surgery in the future, but regardless of her current status as pre, post or non-op we must be sensitive to the gender pronouns she chooses for herself."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Facebook is. | Choose One

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"Because of its ubiquity among our generation, Facebook plays as important a role in shaping cultural norms and expectations as it does in reflecting them. Facebook has done much to revolutionize the way we present ourselves and communicate with one another, but it could be even more revolutionary if it were to embrace the diversity of its user base."
Often times in discussions about human rights as a way of life with the Executive Director of PDHRE, the word 'choice' comes up. Facebook's current policy allows for users to simply opt out of choosing 'male' or 'female'. While it's great that they recognize the users to might not fall into the gender binary system, it still doesn't make sense to remove the choices all together--that, in and of itself, is not a choice.

If we live in a world that embraces the dignity of every human being, while dismantling patriarchies and vertical systems, we'd all begin to live on the horizontal with more freedom, more choices--allowing us to live and move about freely (in the cabin).

Caring for health.

American Civil Liberties Union: Fresno Hospital Discrimination - Case Profile

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"Discrimination in healthcare settings is still far too common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Jason Schneider, MD, President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA). "No one is served when partners are barred from visitation and kept from participating in conversations about their loved one's care. It's bad for doctors who are kept from potentially life threatening information, it's bad for partners who are left waiting hopelessly in the waiting rooms and it's especially traumatic for patients who need the love and support that only their partners can provide to help them through health care emergencies."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

ENDA and leadership.

Frank to introduce ENDA next week

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Some news anchor on some cable news channel said something along these lines: "Obama is a leader, not the leader. Legislators and activists across the country must also realize that they're leaders."

Kudos to Frank and the bipartisan support for ENDA, and more importantly for changing it to a transgender-inclusive bill from a "gay only" bill. Dulce.

Way to go, Geno.

Bride ban: Gay bar says 'I don't' to bachelorettes --

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I'm not going to spend too much effort on this one, except to say that no matter how you cut it, discrimination is discrimination. Epic fail, Geno.


The White House - Press Office - Fact Sheet Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non Discrimination

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"The Memorandum follows a review by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of State regarding what benefits may be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees in the civil service and the foreign service within the confines of existing federal laws and statutes."
The memo is full of language that just irks me. And I go back and forth between whether or not what President Obama did today was good, bad, or neutral. I'm hoping he's just a sly fellow and that by taking action one step and at a time, he's slowly revealing the intricate flaws and consequences in existing laws.

There's more to the report.

Group: Gay bias killings highest since 1999 - Las Vegas Sun (via AP)

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Upon initial inspection, the article is simply about the rise in bias crimes. But if you dig deeper, the following just gives another reason for why there's a need for expanded federal hate-crime legislation, and that law enforcement officials could probably use more training on LGBT human rights issues.
Coalition officials say their figures are more accurate than those from law enforcement agencies. As an example, they say, the FBI doesn't record bias crimes against transgender people because gender identity isn't covered by federal hate-crime law.

Also, victims sometimes are reluctant to report bias incidents to police because they don't want to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and/or they fear bias from police, officials said.

Reports of physical abuse by police increased to 25 incidents last year from 10 in 2007, the report said.

[ . . . ]

Officials weren't sure whether reported increases were attributable to more people reporting incidents or an actual rise.

Why now?

The tardiness of this just infuriates me. For a community that demands inclusion, its leadership often does a crap job of being inclusive.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The roots.

The talk of the town is grassroots campaigns versus the 'big guys'. I think the photo at left demonstrates the impact of grassroots-level action. I'm not referring to the big banner that reads, "Yes we can. No you can't." (I'll get into that discussion later . . .) Rather, I'm focussing on the sign just above that reads, "California, we feel your pain." I think solidarity is good, but only when it leads to further action, especially in one's own community.

The new wave of change happening across the country in localities everywhere is evidence of people feeling inspired to make change in their own surroundings. They see what's [not] possible in one place 3,000 miles away, they look at the rules and regulations affecting their own lives, and they fight for what's right.

(protest photo by Andy Towle at Towleroad)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A nation of laws, not of men.

Obama on DOMA: He IS Keeping A Promise

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Amid all the furor, admittedly I'm feeling distressed. However, in reading the above, I think I've found a bit of calm.
The point is: The man I voted for told me he would return us to a nation of laws, not of men. That means we follow (and apply, and defend--or else it means nothing) the law. Regardless of the whims or policy desires of the man in the chair. Because he is bound by the law, too.
It's definitely worth the entire read (not long). In the meantime, I'm in search of more understanding of why the DOJ and Obama administration took such action. If you happen to come across anything, go ahead and post a comment or share, please.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dismissed and dissed.

The Department of Justice just filed yesterday for a motion to dismiss a Federal same-sex marriage case. While a simple motion to dismiss doesn't sound like a big deal, wait until you read the document.

Analysis at AMERICAblog:

Obama defends DOMA in federal court. Says banning gay marriage is good for the federal budget. Invokes incest and marrying children.

Just a few thoughts on the matter, related to the argument below:
DOMA ensures that evolving understandings of the institution of marriage at the State level do not place greater financial and administrative obligations on federal and state benefits programs. Preserving scarce government resources — and deciding to extend benefits incrementally — are well-recognized legitimate interests under rational-basis review.
Here's the thing about human rights in relation to this topic. After the UDHR was signed in 1948, they were then divided into two groups, or as they're called, "Covenants." One contains political and civil rights, and the other economic, social and cultural rights. It's easy the State to ratify the political and civil covenant, as it doesn't require them to spend any money. All they have to do to implement the treaty is to ensure that laws and policies upholding political and civil rights are in their constitutions. However, States are hesitant to ratify the conventions that derive from the economic, social and cultural covenant, because implementation and upholding those rights requires governments to create social programs (unemployment, social security, health care, etc.). Civil marriage, and all the rights that come with it, unfortunately falls under this category.

A point of reference: The Yogyakarta Principles: The Application of Intl. Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (link at right)

PRINCIPLE 24. The Right to Found a Family: Everyone has the right to found a family, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Families exist in different forms. No family may be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity of any of its members.

States shall:
[a . . . d]
e) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure that in States that recognise same-sex marriages or registered partnerships, any entitlement, privilege, obligation or benefit available to different-sex married or registered partners is equally available to same-sex married or registered partners;
f) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure that any obligation, entitlement, privilege or benefit available to different-sex unmarried partners is equally available to same-sex unmarried partners;
g) Ensure that marriages and other legally-recognised partnerships may be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses or partners.

Language, people, language.

Emotional testimony on both sides gay rights amendment - | Alaska's news and information source |

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In Anchorage, hundreds of people are voicing their opinions on a proposed amendment to an ordinance, making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

I would love to read the transcript of the testimonies, but all I've got to go on are some quotations from KTUU's article, and the video they posted alongside it.

Props to Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson who, in the spirit of honest public service, said: "I've had a lot of threatening e-mails saying if I voted yes they wouldn't vote for me," Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson said:
"And what I have to say to that is if because I believe in equal rights for everyone in this community -- everyone -- if my voters decide if they don't want to vote for me come April 2011, I'm fine with that."
From an opponent of the ordinance:
"This ordinance crosses the boundaries of any human rights. Please carefully read the small print and realize that this ordinance is just not right."
Never mind her terrible sentence construction, but did she really just invoke human rights in such a way? Does she even know what human rights are? Human rights are interconnected, indivisible, interdependent, and above all--universal. The only boundary that exists (if you can call it a boundary), is that no one human right can violate another.
"No special rights!"
This is what the opposition crowd was chanting outside the chamber. While I won't state the obvious counter-argument, I will move the conversation further and go on to say that I think there needs to be a discussion about the language activists and organizations use. Lately, I've seen more people writing, talking, and chanting about civil rights, more so than gay rights or equal rights. Even though my own personal preference is to use human rights language (as in the human right to marry), I think this is a good step, and it helps the other side to understand what it is we're yelling about.

When I took some Queer Studies courses in college, the overarching discussion was about what it means to be queer, more specifically if we're truly the same as heterosexuals. The answer was always 'no'. We're different, and we should embrace it. We're not normal--there's trouble with being normal. However, what queers and straight people certainly do have in common is their humanity.

Along the same lines of this discussion was whether it was the obligation or duty of a straight person, or any privileged person of a majority group, to "grant" or "give" rights to a minority group. The conclusion was always 'no'. It's the duty of the State to protect the rights of the minority. We shouldn't reduce ourselves to kneeling and begging for our rights, nor are they to be won. These are human rights we're talking about. They aren't special to one group or another. We're born with them, and no one can deny them from us, because they're

Our challenge as activists is to get people on the other side of the debate to realize what their human rights are, and more than that, that they belong to everyone. They'd find that it's about acknowledging each other's dignity--their "human right to be human."

A tiny bit more discourse on "the words you use" over at Queerty:
What if We Asked Voters to 'Not Prohibit' instead of 'Permit' Marriage?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NYT Editorial: The Ban on Gays in the Military

The New York Times Editorial today on repealing DADT.
"How much better to use the power to prevent the loss of gay service members eager to keep serving."

Same-sex couple, kids denied family rate at pool

This place is so behind the times. The whole notion of trying to define what a family is, is just absurd. They're going to go nowhere with that argument.

By the way . . . I recall going to the YMCA in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with my roommate and friend Jarred, and getting a family membership. There was no line of questioning about our relationship to each other. We certainly don't look related. They just wanted to know that we lived under the same roof, and who would be responsible for membership dues. Kudos to the YMCA. By any measure, Jarred can be counted as my family more than some of my
actual family members, who happen to live 3,000 miles away.

Note: I'm not ignoring the fact that it was financially advantageous for the two of us to apply as a family (we were, and still are, poor twenty-somethings in NYC). I'm just happy to know that even if Jarred and I were married or had children, that we (1) wouldn't be questioned, and (2) wouldn't be denied.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

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