Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Politicizing Gays and Gay Marriage

I hear all of the time from conservative and right wing groups that this whole gay marriage issue isn't something they are creating or politicizing just to stir up their base. They say this is a really important issue for them. Some will go as far to say the future of our society depends on preserving marriage (and thus outlawing gay marriage and any type of gay coupling at all). This article really made me doubt this claim more than ever.

This is a story I had heard about a few weeks (months?) ago, so forgive my tardiness in writing about it. However, I was thinking about it more today, and it really got me irritated. The article describes a political ad run by the conservative group USA Next against the big evil liberal group, The AARP. Yeah, I was as shocked as you are to learn that the AARP was a bastion of liberalism. The ad has a picture of an American troop with a big "X" through it set next to a gay couple kissing after their wedding. The implication here, obviously, is that the AARP is anti-US troops and pro-gay marriage.

The article I linked to mentions that the AARP has no official stance on gay marriage, for or against. A few local branches had lobbied against a "Marriage Ammendment" because it outlawed any legal recognition of any relationship that might mirror any benefits of marriage. That is a lot of "any's," but it is necessary. The ban would arguably outlaw an older, non-married couple from having power of attorney over each other, hospital visitations, etc. So of course, the AARP thought the ban was too broad.

So, one local chapter was against one specific, overly broad ammendment. But, the USA Next group put out a national campaign against the national AARP group making it look like the AARP was spending money on pro-gay marriage initiatives and against the troops. Neither, of course, is true. The real reason for this ad was to create the impression of this idea. The group was more interested in getting money, votes and support. The AARP had nothing to do with gay marriage, but the group new gay marriage was a hot-button issue that would rally their conservative base, so they went with it.

I guess the truth isn't what matters here. What really matter is winning elections, even if it means ostracizing gays. Par for the course in their minds. This is really sickening to me, and it is why partisan politics really angers me, yet again.

On a side note on the ad, just to show more dishonesty from the group, the gay couple sued the company for illegal use of the picture. They never gave their permission to have their picture used for such an ad, of course. USA Next initially claimed that they had purchased the picture (knowing that legally they needed to do this to use it, I am sure), but later admitted they had not. A judge in the case already inacted a restraining order to halt the use of the photo until he hears the particulars. This is not a good news for the USA Next folks. I bet they lose big on this one. Shouldn't other conservatives hold this group to the "moral standards" they claim are so important to them? I hope the AARP sues too for misrepresentation (yeah, I know, nearly impossible to win, but some retailliation should be in the works).

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Change- Some Personal Stuff

The first several entries have been political, religious, gay, etc. type posts. I think this is a good venue for me to get out my feelings on these types of issues. However, work has been pretty busy lately. and I haven't been able to keep up with the latest goings on recently.

So, in an effort to keep writing, I thought I would write a little bit about my life and the weekend. Don't get your hopes up, it is not going to get that personal.

This weekend I went to visit my parents out of town. My dad invited me to his house, but it was my little 9 year old sister's birthday and my dad invited me but not my boyfriend of 6 years. So, I went to my mom's house. It was fun. Low-key, but fun.

Sunday when we got back I went to a concert for my now second favorite band- Catch22. We got there early because I thought they were going to be on first, but they were actually on last, and only one of the opening bands was any good. Woops. They were good, but they have a bad habit of playing their older songs really fast. My new favorite band (Catch22 was my favorite band for quite a while) is a band called Streetlight Manifesto. It was started by the original lead singer of Catch22. He is amazingly talented. It blows my mind.

And now on a parting note- a thought about alleged "photographic memories." Does such a thing really exist? I think I have a pretty good memory, but I would never call it photographic. So, do photographic memories really exist, or are these people just people with really good memories and an ego problem?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Liberal Media and the Cultural Elite

You know, I have always had a problem with this idea of the "liberal media." Basically, many right wing folks claim the entire news media that is not Fox News or conservative talk radio suffers from a liberal bias. Now, it may sound like I'm exaggerating this, but I'm really not. I challenge anyone to listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, or any of the others and tell me that they think any media besides the ones I listed are not suffering from a liberal bias.

I used to be active on a message board where one of the other members claimed that the "liberal media" idea got old when it started back in the 1970's. Of course, I wasn't alive back then, so I don't know how long this idea has been around, but even in the few years I have followed this stuff, it has been old since the first time I got it.

News flash, folks-- the media is sensationalistic, not liberal. Unfortunately, our society is very money driven, even with regards to the news media. They will cover what ever news story bring ratings (basically, whatever pays the bills). If the media was so liberal, why do anti-gay pastors, ex-gays, etc. get so much airtime in a POLITICAL debate over marriage? What does someone's religious views on gay marriage have to do with someone being gay? Al Franken's book, Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them has a lot to say about this. He went through and studied the pro-Bush vs. pro-Gore news stories and the anti-Bush vs. anti-Gore stories in the 2000 elections. Amazingly, the pro-Bush stories outnumbered the pro-Gore ones and the anti-Gore stories outnumbered the anti-Bush ones. Somehow the "new media" as Rush so humbly calls it, doesn't tell you this.

Another example is the outrage over the Bush judicial apointees. Rush and his crew talk all over the place about the lack of coverage from the news media. He doesn't mention that conservative (Republican) judges now outnumber the liberals (Democrats), a shift that has occurred only since Bush has been in power. He doesn't point out that there are now more Republican judges in the Federal system then there ever were democratic ones under Clinton. He also fails to mention the judges who were rejected during the Clinton administration and never voted on. Actually, if you look at the numbers, Bush's judges have had an easier time getting passed than Clinton's did, even if some (about 10 of 250) are not getting voted on currently. Of course, the regular news media didn't tell you this under Clinton, and they don't talk much about it now. Why? Because this type of stuff really doesn't offer mass appeal. Terry Schiavo, Elizabeth Smart, a war, this is all what offers the real mass appeal.

As for the "Cultural Elite" idea, this is something that the right has lovingly coined recently. It's just another way to demonize one group. I said on another blog that I really don't see how Rush can call anyone elitist. Listen to his show. He constantly calls liberals stupid and dumb, constantly wrong. He even lets his own listeners know how much smarter he is than they are on a regular basis. There are elitists on both sides. In my view, most politicians have trouble not reaching that "elite" mentality. Most famous folks do. But, it is certainly not something that only happens among liberals.

One day I'll discuss my issues with the polarization that both the far right and far left cause to our country. It is a sad state of affairs, and with the strong rhetoric from folks like Rush, it is only getting worse.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Anti-Gay, In a Nice Way

As much as possible, I am going to try to post after work, rather than during the few minute breaks I am able to squeeze in at work. I guess we will see how that goes.

On another note, I have been watching more of the Terry Schaivo case, and I have made up my mind that she should live. As I said, the husband has moved on, and her family obviously is in severe pain (Terry pretty obviously doesn't have enough cognition to be in pain), so why not let her live?

Now on to the topic at hand. I was on the Exodus Blog again, and I came across this article. I read the article the other day, and I have had some time to think about it.

When I first read the story and saw that the Pastor of this church had sent out over 40,000 mailings to advertise his sermon, I really started to question the event as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Add to that that Stephen Bennet, an ex-gay that I adamantly disagree with (while he claims to love gays, his website and stories about gays offer mostly negative portrayals of gays), and I was even more skeptical.

Then I read the story, and I admit that I was happy to see how the pastor handled the issue. Keeping things kind, loving, etc. I thought to myself that this was the Christianity that I had grown up in and loved. It is this type of attitude that really does help bring people to the religion and show them the love of God. From what I saw, the pastor did a great job of handling his views on the issue in a loving way. I still hold that opinion of the events.

However, the message of "man and woman being made for one another" still seems a bit off point to me. Sure, if you tell a group of straight people that man and woman are made for each other, most of them are going to agree. How can they not? But, where does that leave a gay person? Where does that leave a person that is only attracted to the same sex?

Personally, someone can tell me all day that men should only love and marry women. But, when I look at my own life, my own attractions, the people that I fall in love with, women do not come in to play, and since puberty they never really have. With this sermon in mind, then, where does that leave me? I have heard about how sinful gay activity is (although not from this sermon), I have heard how God made man for woman in his plan, but I haven't really heard where that leaves someone that does not have the attractions that are assumed to be so normal and God-ordained by many people.

Actually, I take that back. I have heard from groups like Exodus where that leaves a gay person. The answer primarily is change. Stephen Bennett says "complete change is completely possible," and I assume that is why he was invited to speak. Ok, so let's assume that some people can and do change. That is great for them. But what about the majority of people that try to change but can't? What is the option then? From what I have read from many others, the option is celibacy.

This is where the problem lies for me. Now the message turns from one of a loving, "God wants men to be with women," to one of, "if you are straight, you are allowed to fall in love, start a family, spend your life with your soulmate, etc. But, if you are gay, you must be celibate, never allowed to fall in love, romantically hug, cuddle, or kiss anyone that you are attracted to, never find that soulmate for life, etc." Basically, you are asked to be alone. I'm sure some more skeptical folks will say that gays are allowed to do all that straights can do, as long as they do it with the opposite sex. Of course, I'd like to point out that this is a pretty absurd request for most gays, and this is supported by the research and a few studies done on whether gays can become straight.

Moving from that point, my message has all along been that most straight people (especially the anti-gay folks) don't really put themselves in the shoes of a gay person like me. I wonder if this pastor has put himself in my shoes. Has he really thought to himself and wondered what his life would be without his wife? Has my dad ever wondered what he would do if he fell in love with my step-mom, only to be told that he had to deny this. That he could never make a life with her, hug her and kiss her?

As well-intentioned and well-handled as this sermon was, I wonder if the pastor has ever considered these thoughts. I know he was looking for love, acceptance and forgiveness, but I wonder if he has ever sat down with a gay person and actually listened and understood the feelings that come with being told that you can never have a romantic or love life, a sould mate, etc. for the rest of your life. I also wonder if he has ever tried to even consider putting himself in that position. You know what would be a great "bridging" experience? To have someone that "disagrees" with homosexuality to step out and say, "you know what, I think being gay is wrong, but I realize you didn't choose this, and I realize we are asking a lot from you. Since you are unable to make these types of relationships, I too will forego having a family, a wife, etc. as a symbollic gesture to you." That would be really nice to see. Yes, I realize priests and some others do become celibate. But here I am talking about Protestants, pastors, youth directors, someone that is not actually becoming celibate as part of a "religious career path."

On a last note, the pastor brought on Stephen Bennett as a speaker. I still have great pause for this, because I assume the message was that gays can change. I wonder if the pastor did his research and found that most gays that try to change are unable to. I wonder if they told the congregation that even though Stephen and some others have changed, most are unable to. In the spirit of honesty, I would hope that this message would have been told to the congregation, lest someone think that choosing to be straight is a quick option, or even a possible one for everyone.

Terry Schiavo

Well, I figure since I have been hearing a lot about the Terry Schiavo case on the news, on blogs, and on talk radio, I should give my own opinion on the case. I definitely have one, but I am not sure it offers a clean-cut solution. Contrary to what Rush Limbaugh says, things are not always black and white.

Ok, first of all I would like to point out that there is way too much name calling, rhetoric, exaggerating, etc. going on in this case. For whatever reason, when politics gets involved in situations like this, the truth gets flung out the window in a hurry. The term "activist judges" is out again. This term really angers me. Basically, any judge that makes a ruling that the "right" doesn't agree with gets labelled this, regardless of political affiliation, prior rulings, etc. Basically, if you are a judge and rule against the "right" or their opinions, you are an activist, no matter what the facts in the case are.

Secondly, I think it is interesting that this case has gotten SO MUCH national attention. I mean, the Congress and Senate passed a new bill to help this one person. As of today, the appeals court refused to hear the case, so it looks like the process was to no avail. Two people were taken off of life support in similar situations in Texas recently because a bill signed by then Governer Bush allows hospitals to make the call when people are in vegatative states. The families of these two wanted their family members kept alive. Bush now says we should err on the side of life. Why didn't he say that then?

As for my feelings on Terry Schiavo:

I do believe she is in a chronic vegetative state. People in her same situation have life support withdrawn all of the time. This is definitely not "killing" Terry as many would have you believe.

This "feeding tube" is not just putting food in her stomach. This is not comparable to a person that just cannot eat. She is having liquid nutrients (not food) pumped into her body because her body is incapable of processing normal food.

This is not a coma or brain damage situation. Sadly, Terry's brain is not repairable. On that note, in spite of what many protesters with signs claim in front of the hospital where she stays, Terry cannot and has not spoken any words.

From the videos, it does appear to me that Terry has some sort of idea of what is going on around her. Doctors have said otherwise (she smiles and makes sounds randomly, whether or not someone is in the room), but to me it does appear that she has some sort of understanding (even if it is very limited).

The courts have decided 22 times now from 16 judges that Terry's husband should have the say on her welfare. Even if we don't agree with that, obviously they are seeing something in the law there. Calling basically the entire Florida and now part of the Federal judiciary activist judges is really just silly.

In my opinion, Michael Schiavo has moved on with his life. He has a new family and has been living with them for about a decade. No matter what his feelings for Terry are/were, he has obviously moved on with his life. He should allow Terry's parents and family to do the same. I am surprised that the courts have not addressed his guardianship and how he has moved on with his life. Is he not committing adultery by being married to Terry but having relations with another woman? Is that not grounds for someone to divorce him on Terry's behalf?

Ok, so those are my points in a nutshell. I think that Michael has moved on with his life, and the courts should recognize that and give guardianship to the parents. However, I do not think that removing life support would be killing Terry, and I am insulted at the level of rhetoric this case has drummed up from "kind and caring" politicians. A right wing radio guy in my home town called Michael Schiavo a "dirt bag" and an Exodus employee called compared him to the murderer Scott Peterson. Come on guys, he is trying to let his wife pass on peacefully as she asked him to do (so he says-- sure we haven't proven that, but we haven't proven otherwise, and calling him a murderer without proof that Terry didn't say that is a bit much).

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Blogs I read

In my first post I mentioned I would list some of the blogs that I read. I'll leave off the blogs of my real-life friends and keep it to ones that I have found in my web surfing.

Keep in mind that I don't know any of these people personally. These help me pass the time and keep me informed (to some minimal degree-- at the very least they keep my analytical skills fresh).

These are listed in no particular order. Actually, I'll put the ones I have already talked about first:

Ex-Gay Watch- Good discussion of the goings-on in ex-gay world, from a mostly critical perspective

Scattered Words- What once seemed to be a young guy dealing with being gay and the struggles that he faced has now turned into a more political type of thing. Unfortunately the blog now frustrates me more than anything. I think I said earlier that the author of this site has more to deal with than the "sin" of homosexuality.

Burnt Orange Report- Blog from my home state. Even though these guys are from UT (all of my family went to rival Texas A&M). This blog has a bit too much local and even school politics in it from me, but the writers are very knowledgeable and talented, and their national analysis is good (even if it is a bit too liberal for my tastes).

Randy Thomas- A pretty prominent figure for Exodus International. I greatly disagree with him on most political, and especially gay, issues. But, my interactions with him have been good. He seems to be a very nice, well-meaning guy. His blog is fairly interesting too.

Aaron- I am not even sure how I came across this blog. I think he commented somewhere else and I followed the link.

Boys Don't Cry- I got to this one from Aaron's blog. Not sure why I stopped, but his posts have made me laugh. I think I envy his being young and open about his sexuality. I never had that.

Sed Contra- Author David Morrison's blog. This is a celibate same sex attracted man that lives with his former gay partner. They are now both celibate, but still have a close relationship. I highly disagree with a lot of David's takes on gay issues, but the blog has a good stream of comments for discussion, and David is very open about his struggle with same sex attractions.

Nick- Struggling again with being gay, Nick is back and forth a lot, but I have always enjoyed his open heart and very friendly nature.

Ok, that is it for now. When work gets busy, I just realized that it may affect my posting. I don't like blogs that are never updated, though, so I will try to keep this one going as frequently as possible.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Before Bed, One more

So, one more post before I go to bed. Ben at Scattered Words has a bit to say about celibacy. It confused me, though.

In his post, he says, "True, there are some for whom God has chosen celibacy. But for those he's called, he's uniquely gifted them to handle that call (Romans 8). With that in mind, do I believe its reasonable to assume that celibacy is a good option for the homosexual seeking change? No."

Now, I would really like to know what he believes the option is for people that
try to change but cannot. While no studies show clearly what the success rates of ex-gay rates are, it is fair to say that thousands, if not tens of thousands of gays try to change, only to never experience the change they are striving for. Even Exodus claims (if you really look hard in their FAQ's) that the end goal is not change, but a closer relationship with God.

So, in this whole post, Ben says that celibacy is not the goal (and actually attacks Mike at Ex-gay Watch for saying it should be a goal), but he never really says where this leaves the many many gays that try to change through ex-gay therapy, that think being gay is sinful, but never change. So, where does this type of advice leave these folks? In gay limbo, I guess.

22 Year Old Resources- Would You Use One?

So, I was reading the Exodus Blog today, and I found a link to this dandy article http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_7257.shtml.
The opening line of the article is this "Webster's Ninth New Collegiate dictionary defines marriage as 'the mutual relation of husband and wife' and 'the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.'"

So, I wanted to see if this was true, of course. And, I noticed that Webster's current college dictionary is on its 11th edition. Digging further, I found that the dictionary referenced in this article was published in 1983.

Are you kidding me? 1983? It always astounds me how often people on the "right" really have no qualms about bending the truth. The article made no mention of the age of the dictionary, and I would venture to guess most readers would assume, as I did, that this was a new publication. Shouldn't the author steer us right? Did the author really have to go back to a dictionary that old to prove his point? Why not at least be up front about it. I know if I used a source that old in a paper without pointing it out and giving a reason, I would have been panned for it.

Oh, on a side note, the Exodus Blog (http://exodus.blogs.com/) is a great source for links about how terrible gay people are. If you are looking for great info. to fill the stereotypes of gays, it is the place to go. I still can't figure out why they claim to love the sinner, hate the sin. Their blog sure does a good job of hating "gays" as a group. If you ever see a positive post there about well-adjusted gays, let me know. On that note, what is the point of the blog, if not to "enlighten" people to how terrible gays are?

First Blog Comment

Ok, so I read two blogs fairly regularly. One is http://scatteredwords.com and the other is http://www.exgaywatch.com. I learned of Scattered Words from reading Ex-gay Watch. At first I enjoyed the blog. The author appeared to be going through some of the issues I was dealing with-- faith and being gay, pressures from society, the Church, his own feelings, etc. He wrote about his struggles a whole lot, and I admired that.

However, the blog soon turned away from being a regular "journey" type blog, and into one that seemed more politically motivated than anything else. There are lots of stereotypes about gays being thrown around, lots of news about how bad gays are, and lots of attacking any dissenting opinions (no matter how politely stated or well-intentioned). I soon decided to stop commenting on the blog. I realized that the author has a lot more to deal with than the "sin" of being gay. The way he treats almost all gay-positive posters really gets to me.

The other blog, Ex-gay Watch is one I like. It comments about Ex-gay groups (the ones that try to turn gays straight). I will admit, it is usually very critical of these groups. Some of the comments cross the line imo, but anything super-negative is often rounded out by open, polite discussion from both sides.

In his new "political" style blog, Ben at Scattered Words has decided to attack Ex-gay Watch as much as possible. About a post or link a week or every other week is devoted to the site. Below is the latest from here http://scatteredwords.com/d/2005/03/will_exgay_watc.php#449. Since Ben critiqued Ex-gay Watch, I figured I would offer my own critique of his analyis.

From Ben:
"Exgay Watch set out a list of criterion for which an exgay ministry must adhere to before the site's author will respect/support it. Hmmm. Unless you believe just like I do -- then, I think you're evil. Where have I heard that before?"
I am not sure where he has heard that before. But, I've heard it from him a few times. The religious right seems to say similar things a lot too. Later Ben accuses Mike of ignoring the plank in his own eye. I'd encourage Ben to follow his own advice.

"They say "emphasize celibacy" -- sadly, this isn't always an option. Simply trying to control your behavior is the path that leads most gays toward destruction when attempt change. Emphasizing behavior control over God-formed changed is in my opinion, the most dangerous thing you can do to a person."
--I'm not sure what Ben wants the advice to be. If people are trying to change, but they aren't able to quite yet (even some ex-gays admit the change took decades), shouldn't the message be, 'if change takes a while, you should remain celibate still?' What is wrong with that message? I guess that would be admitting that the "change" isn't as easy or quick as many would like to believe.

"They say "provide truth-in-advertising regarding the poor prospects for significant change in sexual attraction" -- Mike, there are quiet individuals out there whom you'll never meet who've experienced change in Jesus Christ beyond your wildest dreams. Nothing's impossible with God."
--I agree with Ben here, God can change lots of things. God cures incurable cancer, for example. But, when we tell someone that they have cancer (or even start a diet for that matter) we tell these people what the chances of a cure or success are. But, why not tell people in ex-gay ministries that? It is disingenuous to give someone a false sense of security that they will change. This is how people are really harmed by ex-gay ministries-- they go in thinking they are going to change, and when the try really hard, pray, etc. for months, years, and decades not experiencing change, they feel like failures. Why not let people know that "change" won't happen for everyone, or even most?

"They say "repent of personal grudges, prejudices, and sinful passions, rather than projecting them onto innocent gay people" -- change that to exgay rather than gay, apply it to yourself and then we'll talk about it."
--So, if Mike (the Ex-gay Watch author) is guilty of these things, then it is ok for ex-gay groups to be too? I have to comment here that this issue is one of the bigger ones I have with ex-gay groups. The "demonization" of gays by many ex-gay groups and even right wingers is pretty rampant. Faulty studies released by right wing groups and some ex-gay groups talking about how promiscuous gay people are, how drug addicted, etc. aren't doing anyone any good. And what does that say to the gay person that isn't promiscuous, doesn't use drugs, etc.? One of the reasons ex-gay groups lost appeal to me is that all of the members I saw talked about living a terrible life of drugs, sex, and scandal. Their lives were down the tubes. Mine has never been, and has actually gotten better since I came out. It really made me think...

They say "refuse to "advance" ... by attacking and harming the rights and integrity of others" -- you're never going to see eye-to-eye on this, because what you falsely label "attacking and harming" is one of the very things Christians in this world are called to do -- preserver morality..."
--I am sorry Ben has this attitude. I know many Christians that disagree with homosexuality but do not have to attack the INTEGRITY of others. Rights aside. Ben just said that attacking the INTEGRITY of others is ok and what Christians are called to do. Christians are called to preserve the world by showing everyone the GLORY of GOD, not by forcing people into some sort of religious bondage- that's what makes people resent religion in the first place.

This last quote really confused me, "It seems that Mike does a lot of the same things he complains Exodus and other groups and Christians do. But then, I've been saying that for how long now?"
--Mike, for the most part, has been critical but fair of ex-gay groups. Here he outlines his "beef" with some of these groups, and Ben criticizes him for it. I'm not really sure why asking ex-gay groups to be honest about change rates is a bad thing.

The funny thing in all of this is that Mike started his blog "relationship" with Ben at Scattered Words with a positive post and link to his site. But, as I mentioned earlier, as Ben's blog moved from a personal blog of struggles to one of attacks and stereotypes on gays, Mike's opinion changed.

Ok, this was a long first post. Off we go...

Day 1

Ok, so I just set this up out of boredom and an increasing interest in the blogs of others. My goal, I think, is to write down what I am thinking. It will be a good place for me to vent or comment about things that I read on other blogs, what's going on in politics, and maybe a little bit about my own life (although I think that may be limited).

Politically, gay rights stuff has a lot of my attention lately, and many of the blogs I read are gay and ex-gay blogs, so I bet that is going to be what I talk about a lot. I'll probably be doing a lot of writing about what I read on some of the ex-gay blogs because that stuff can tend to get me riled up.

I'll make a list of blogs I read soon.

I guess that is all for now. More to come later, hopefully.