Tag Archives: bigotry

Trump Supporters: This guy is walking away with love

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I’ve spent the day alone reflecting and emoting and trying to work through my bitterness about this historically stupid election. While I think it is important to be humble and gracious in defeat, this one is a little different. We could say that the “people have spoken” and in a sense, they have. Donald Trump won the electoral college. He lost the popular vote by a narrow margin. So… it is arguable exactly how the people have spoken. Regardless, the fact remains that half of America voted for a man who is unbelievably discriminatory and the ramifications of his victory will likely have significant effects for decades.

I won’t speculate on his economic, environmental, and foreign policies (The proof will be in the proverbial pudding on those, and we will now see, once again, what effect unintelligent policy will have in those areas)… Instead, I will focus on why this loss has devastated me personally, and what I intend to do with it…

My entire life I have watched and listened as my rights as a gay American citizen have been flippantly bandied about, as though my rights, my opportunities, my protections under the law are somehow secondary in importance to others. I have smiled uncomfortably during casual conversations wherein members of my own family laughed and gloated about the fact that they started a bar fight by randomly calling fellow patrons “faggots.” I have been gracious and laughed ala courtesy as off-color, unfunny jokes were made that are reductive and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. I have tried tirelessly to be likable and agreeable, often being overly kind, so as to win love and approval, and aspects of that I will never change.

You see, while it may be surprising to some, there is nothing inherently different about me. I like to think I am strong, but if you cause harm it will hurt. I like to think I am confident in my abilities, but my self-doubt and insecurity is oftentimes crippling. I go through life searching for happiness and fulfillment with my own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and adversities, and I do the best I can with it. Just like everyone does. And I’ve had some pretty awesome victories, some pretty devastating defeats, and I’ve done the only thing I know to do throughout it all: The best I possibly can. Does this sound familiar? It should. It should sound familiar to every single person who will ever read this, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, political affiliation, etc. This is part of the elusive human condition that we are all trying to understand.

One thing, however, that will always separate me from others is when I see them engage in bigotry, violence, and destruction. Supporting a candidate who has made endless statements that are undeniably hateful, homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, xenophobic, cacomorphobic, is exactly that – bigoted, violent, and destructive. And I will no longer surround myself with those who find any of these things justifiable. Instead, I will be out in the world, offering as much love and support as I can, trying to make a good life for myself, and paying more taxes than Donald Trump.

I want to offer my sincerest condolences to all of those who were directly impacted by this mistake of an election, specifically my LGBTQIA family. Just remember, we are strong and we will get through this and make things right with love, not with fear. When they go low, we go high.

Wish List for 2014

Oscar_Wilde_portraitI’ll be honest. I wish Ellen Page didn’t have to come out. (Even though I totally called that one way back in 2007, when Juno was released.)

Frankly, I wish nobody cared.

I wish that Michael Sam’s announcement this week was met with the same ambivalence that we treat most celebrity news, that a player’s sexual orientation wasn’t a factor in whether or not he can play professional sports, and that a Dallas sportscaster’s well-articulated defense of gay players (and criticism of blatant hypocrisy) in the NFL would have been completely unnecessary.

I wish that transwomen like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock were interviewed about something other than that they were “born a boy,” or a woman.

I wish that we weren’t making a big deal over Catholic leaders like the Archbishop of Dublin saying that their Church shouldn’t hate gay and lesbian people—especially considering that “love one another” is supposedly one of their central teachings.

I wish that people weren’t going on news shows to debate whether Johnny Weir has a responsibility as a gay celebrity to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

I wish that there weren’t “gay” celebrities. Just how I wish there weren’t “gay” people.

Just people.

But that’s not the world we live in yet.

My friend John Becker, an LGBT activist and writer, responded earlier to a comment I made along these lines, that coming out shouldn’t matter: “That would only be the case if we lived in a world where LGBT people didn’t face pervasive and systemic oppression and discrimination – where being LGBT was just as much a non-issue as being brown-eyed or left-handed.”

Here in the United States, with recent victories for LGBT rights (most recently in Virginia), we’re in danger of being lulled into a false sense of security over having won the equality fight. Let’s not forget that the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act in June essentially left the question of equality to individual states. So if you live in a state like Kansas, where its House of Representatives is considering a bill that would essentially allow for legal segregation against gay couples under the auspices of “religious liberty,” tough luck.

Because here are the facts:

  • In twenty-nine states, a person can still be fired simply for being gay—and in thirty-four, merely for being trans.
  • In twenty-nine states, a person can be denied housing for being LGBT.
  • In twenty-three states, a same-sex partner can be refused hospital visitation rights, particularly in privately-run hospitals that don’t participate in Medicare of Medicaid programs.
  • Twenty states have no laws specifically addressing hate crimes against LGBT people.
  • Twenty states have no laws or policies that include same-sex couples in adoption, and eight states have specific legal obstacles for gay couples to adopt.

(Source: HRC, “Maps of State Laws & Policies”)

That’s just the United States. In eighty-three countries around the world, it’s still illegal to be gay.

So as much as I wish Ellen Page and Michael Sam didn’t have to come out, cheers to them for bravely doing so in a world where our right to live openly and freely is still under debate.

Because until we get to the point where it doesn’t matter who someone loves, it matters a lot.

Pluto dethroned and marriage equality denialism

Marriage equality opponentsTwo years ago, at the ninth annual Amaz!ng Meeting in 2011, astrophysicist and all-around cool guy Neil deGrasse Tyson shared a story about a girl who wrote to plead with him to reinstate Pluto as a planet:

Dear Scientest,

What do you call Pluto if its not a planet anymore? If you make it a planet agian all the science books will be right! Do poeple live on Pluto? If there are poeple who live there they won’t exist. Why can’t Pluto be a planet? If it’s small doesn’t that mean it doen’t have to be a planet anymore. Some people like Pluto. If it doen’t exist then they don’t have a favorite planet. Please write back, but not in cursive because I can’t read in cursive.

The full story:

Aside from being screamingly adorable, this letter tells us a lot about how some people deal (or don’t deal) with reality.

I live in the great state of Minnesota, where a marriage equality bill (with the very sexy title of SF925) was introduced this past February. Authored by four Democrats and one Republican, the short description is “Marriage between two persons authorization.” The long title is a bit more… wordy.

Relating to marriage; providing for marriage between two persons (same sex); expanding exemptions based on religious association, religious corporation or religious society; providing for gender neutral marriage laws; clarifying and modifying certain provisions relating to civil contracts, prohibited marriages, and marriage license application forms; authorizing refusal to solemnize and providing for protection of religious doctrine; providing for relationship to other rules of construction; expanding dissolution of marriage proceedings for certain nonresidents.

This bill has been making its way through committees and legislative bodies, and last night it cleared a huge hurdle with the House Ways and Means Committee, which reviews and makes recommendations for government budgets (Wikipedia), meaning it can now go to a full vote in the legislature. The vote has been scheduled for Thursday (two days from now), and if it passes, and if Delaware passes their equality bill tomorrow, Minnesota will be the twelfth state to recognize same-sex marriages.

In the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune yesterday, writer Baird Helgeson posted on the politics blog that a report found “Same-sex marriage will cost Minnesota $678,000 a year.” The article appeared before the bill cleared the Ways and Means Committee, but it was a clear attempt to throw a wrench into equality efforts. Helgeson wrote: “The main sponsor of the measure, Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, sits on the committee”, as if she were somehow using her influence to unfairly strong-arm the bill’s approval.

Aside from lacking in objectivity, Helgeson failed to mention how much is currently spent to provide benefits to partners opposite-sex state employees. I’m not sure what the number is, but $678,000 is probably a fraction. (According to OutFront Minnesota, “Minnesota local governments such as cities, counties and school districts are [currently] prevented from offering domestic partner benefits to their employees.”) A friend of mine who has been lobbying for the bill informs me that the state expects 114 same-sex couples to be added should the bill pass on Thursday, and that providing insurance benefits to partners costs the state approximately $6,000 per (state) employee.

What this gets at is that Republicans are grasping for any excuse they can find to delay marriage equality. “It’ll be expensive to revise the law books!” they cry. “Court costs will be astronomical!” Reminds me of what the little girl wrote to Tyson:

“If there are people who live [on Pluto], they won’t exist!”

Yesterday, I got a frantic email from Minnesota for Marriage (the group that attempted to push the Minnesota Marriage Amendment through last November), claiming SF925 is full of lies and hidden legislation that will target Christians who oppose marriage equality — that religious liberty will be threatened, children will no longer be safe from the (ambiguous) “homosexual agenda,” that “natural law” will be overturned, and distinctions between “mother” and “father” will be erased.

The hidden truth is that research shows that it [marriage equality] is not in the best interest of children: “Which parent do I not need my mother or my father?”  Eleven-year-old Grace Evans testifying before the House Civil Law committee hearing on same-sex marriage.

And, “Our house was full of unclosed scars. I had no father and this crushed my soul.” – Professor Robert Oscar Lopez, bisexual man who was raised by two lesbians.

I love that they refer to “research,” and then quote an eleven-year-old girl (Evans) who was clearly coached by her father (in the YouTube link above you can see his lips moving, like a bad ventriloquist) and a sexually confused Californian “children’s activist” (Lopez) who believes the “homosexual lifestyle” is hazardous because he fell “into a life of drugs and promiscuity as a young gay man.”

Hopefully everyone who reads this blog has already spotted the logical fallacies, here and in all anti-gay rallying against marriage equality — or anything that goes against so-called Biblical morality (women’s reproductive rights, not teaching Creationism in schools, sex education). Their arguments invariably conclude with: If we don’t draw the line here, where will we stop? As if allowing gays to marry means we’ll no longer be able to tell the difference between men and women, that Christians will be thrown in jail for calling homosexuality “sinful,” or that children will become gay simply by learning that homosexuals exist.

This is denialism, same as with climate change, evolution, the Holocaust, or HIV/AIDS. Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet because it hasn’t cleared its orbital path, and the reality is that since 2012, four states have passed marriage equality, with three more (including Minnesota) poised to join them. A recent Pew research study found “seven in 10 Americans born after 1980 believe gay men and lesbians should be able to marry legally.” Not that a majority should dictate morality, but it’s simply untrue that most Americans don’t want marriage equality or believe it’s harmful.

These are just the facts — inconvenient truths.

Evolve already! The long, slow death of religious conservatism

Too late to evolve?It took some time for President Obama’s views on marriage equality to evolve. Now Newt Gingrich, champion of the Defense of Marriage Act himself, has done a political triple Salchow and publicly come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Or at least that he’s accepted its inevitability.

After puffing that he “probably would have done better against Obama” than Romney, Gingrich told the Huffington Post that “the momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period.”

Who cares?

On December 8, Maureen Dowd wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that the world is coming to an end in 2012 — at least as “the G.O.P. universe of arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys” is concerned.

She failed to mention “heterosexual” in that laundry list of adjectives.

Gingrich is correct. The momentum is clearly moving in the direction of marriage equality in the United States. Four key wins in November spelled four crushing defeats for the party that for the last few decades has been doing everything it can to halt progress, and not even Karl Rove with his special math can ignore the proverbial handwriting on the wall.

So the question is — who cares?

Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin

ThingThat phrase, “writing on the wall,” is particularly appropriate. It comes from the Hebrew book of Daniel, in a scene where the Babylonian King Belshazzar is having a drunken party with the holy golden and silver vessels taken from the Jewish temple. In the midst of the orgy, a disembodied hand appears and writes the above words on the palace wall. Daniel interprets their meaning for Belshazzar:

And this is the writing that was inscribed: mina, mina, shekel, half-mina. This is the interpretation of the matter: mina, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; shekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; half-mina, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
— Daniel 5:25-28

Dowd wrote in her article: “Outside the Republican walled kingdom of denial and delusion, everyone else could see that the once clever and ruthless party was behaving in an obtuse and outmoded way that spelled doom.” So it’s hard not to see this move as a last gasp from the political party that brought us Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, the two Ricks (Perry and Santorum), Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Sarah Palin and Richard Mourrdok — to name just a few.

End of an era

Things have not been going well for the Republican Party since we started realizing that maybe electing George W. Bush for a second term was the equivalent of having your ex-boyfriend’s name tattooed in large letters on your arm. Sure, there was the upset in the 2010 election that gave them the 193/242 majority in the House of Representatives, but one mishap and misstatement after another has induced enough eye-rolling to bring on a bout of vertigo. Between comments about “legitimate rape,” obstinate G.O.P. lockstep opposition to marriage equality, healthcare reform and immigration, and refusing to budge on taxes, it’s incredible that the American people didn’t oust them all out of office this year.

Traditionally, the Republican Party has had the solid support of conservative, evangelical (Caucasian) Christians. And if we look at the numbers from the Pew Forum from this election, it appears that held true again. Fifty-seven percent of Protestants voted for Romney, as supposed to forty-two percent who voted for Obama. The Catholic vote was close (50/48), but it was the non-Christians who voted overwhelmingly Democratic this year. It’s the religiously unaffiliated “nones” (which includes atheists and agnostics) who are the fastest growing “religious” group in the United States.

So what does this mean? It means that the support base the Republican Party has relied upon for decades to get their candidates elected is eroding — and quickly.

Evolve… or die

As Bob Dylan crooned in 1964, “the times, they are a-changin’.” The voting demographic is getting progressively younger as more conservative Baby Boomers age, retire and start to die off. This generation doesn’t have the same moral qualms about marriage equality that their elders do. And Republicans know that. As R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, was quoted in the New York Times last month:

Republicans in Congress “will tell me behind closed doors that this is the direction we need to go as a party . . . but publicly they’re not doing that.”

So what are we to make of Newt’s evolution on marriage equality? Is it anything more than a desperate attempt to seem less out of touch with reality? And will we gradually see more Republicans “evolve” on this issue between now and 2014 to avoid being seen as arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys? Maybe, but probably not in droves. The sway of the conservative Evangelical lobby still holds strong in the G.O.P.

As gay atheists, we need to flex our powers of critical thinking now more than ever. There may be a few Republican politicians who don’t agree with their party’s stance on marriage equality who will be emboldened to speak up in support of LGBT Americans. However, we only have to look at public statements and voting records to see if the move is a genuine one. These are crocodile tears shed by a species facing its now-inevitable demise due to its failure to truly evolve.

Poll Shows Religious Opposed to Gay Marriage on Both Sides of the Aisle

A recent Washington Post poll seems to provide more evidence for the link between religious identity and opposition to gay marriage (as if we needed more). Republicans in general of course take the cake with Tea Party affiliates off the charts in opposition to gay marriage, as expected, along with Republican Pro-government Conservatives and Republican Religious Values Voters. But it is interesting to note that religion likely also twists the arms of Democrats when it comes to bigoted views on social issues: “God and Government” Democrats are much more opposed to gay marriage than their “Agnostic” and “Urban” counterparts.

And if you’re wondering what a “D.I.Y.” Democrat is, here’s a nice summary of all the classifications used in the poll.

Q: Do you think it should be LEGAL or ILLEGAL for gay and lesbian couples to get married?

The Ethics of Belief: Epistemic Negligence

Opposition to homosexuality stems from religious conditioning and negligence in belief. Harm caused to gay people — physical or emotional or through the spreading of hate — as justified through belief or bias against homosexuality can be classified as a moral crime on the grounds of being baseless.

Read this detailed post by Alonzon Fyfe outlining the ethics of belief and the accountability one must take for epistemic negligence and recklessness.

by ALONZON FYFE | ATHEIST ETHICIST BLOG

Negligence in belief (aka, epistemic negligence) – and its big brother, epistemic recklessnes — are moral crimes that exist where a person cares so little about the interests of others that he or she forms beliefs – beliefs that, when acted on, have a potential to harm others – without a proper regard to making sure that those beliefs are well founded.

Like traditional negligence, epistemic negligence does not apply where there is little or no risk of harm. The belief that the universe was created by an intelligent entity, for example, would not qualify as negligence for the simple reason that this belief, by itself, does not put others at risk. However, a belief that the widower down the street is a witch and witches must be put to death are beliefs that create a risk for others. Because the agent cannot deny knowing that there is a potential for harm, a careless belief of this type counts as recklessness.

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Eagle Scout Steven Colella Rescinds Status over Gay Members Policy

By SUZANNE KENNEDY – ABC 7 – WJLA

Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy task, and a rare one at that. Only about 4 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the high status.

In response the organization’s controversial stance on allowing gay people to serve as leaders or join the group, though, some of these high-ranking members are giving up their status.

Becoming an Eagle Scout was one of the happiest days of Steven Colella’s life. Since he was 5 years old, he wanted to be one. Now, though, as a gay man, he made the difficult decision to give back a medal he worked most of his life for.

In response to the Boy Scouts’ reaffirmation to ban openly gay members, the 23-year-old Frederick resident decided to relinquish his status.

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