Tuesday, June 28, 2005

No Child Abuse at Love In Action

I haven't said much about this Love In Action ordeal because everyone else has been all over it, and I wasn't really sure what to think.

The state of Tennessee was investigating an Exodus member ministry for alleged child abuse. Luckily, the state decided there was no child abuse going on (good news for sure). The allegations somehow came along when a 16 year old boy was sent to the Love In Action outpatient treatment center to cure him of his gayness against his will. You can read Ex-Gay Watch coverage here and here. There is more coverage there too.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I was over at the Exodus blog and read that these charges of child abuse had been declared unfounded. Of course, being that Love In Action is a member ministry, it makes sense that the blog picked up this story. What struck me as odd, though, was that the blog didn't pick up the earlier story about Zack or the initial announcement by the Tennessee CPS that they were investigating Love In Action (this was caught by the AP wire and some mainstream press outlets, and was all over the gay press). It seems a little weird to come out and declare that all charges had been found unsubstantiated when (presumably) their readers didn't even know there had been allegations at all. I wonder if they would have reported on the story if the Love In Action investigation had gone further.

Of course, all of this is aside from the fact that Exodus claims only to take voluntary individuals into their organizations.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ben Fires Back

I'm not sure I want to continue writing about Scattered Words, but I haven't made up my mind yet. I definitely do want to write about Ben's latest post and comments because they were fairly directly pointed at me.

I'll respond to the post first:

"First, is that you're not the first. You're one of a few dozen who's waltzed onto this site thinking you know what I believe and why and that you can proceed to tell me all about it. You think you've got my number and that you're imparting some great, academic revelation to me."
-I don't claim to, and never have claimed to, know what you believe. I don't think I am imparting any type of academic revelation to you. I'm simply speaking my mind on the subject, just as you are. Are you trying to impart some great academic revelation to me?

"You don't and you're not. I've devoted myself to the Bible. I've memorized entire books of it and studied its ancient languages. I've disected it, I've engaged in thorough exegesis of almost every part of it. "
-I applaud you for that. I certainly cannot say the same for myself. There are plenty of others that have, though, and some do disagree with you on many areas of it, even still.

"I find it hard to believe that you'd question the guidance and knowledge of a doctor or a lawyer or someone similarily trained in-depth in a certain field, as I am in the Bible."
-I was unaware that you had a PhD in Biblical Studies. Even still, people seek second opinions from lawyers and Dr.'s all of the time.

"There's very little in the Christian life that's open to interpretation. "
-I'll call the dozens of different dissenting Christian Churches and let them know. I'd offer that there is lots more open to interpretation than most will admit, just look around.

"And while I'm on the subject, stop holding me accountable for every imperfection you can find in the church. I'm not the church, I'm me. "
-I hold you accountable for your own views, and the church for theirs. But, if the Church is going to choose to let some sins be deemed "ok" and others are going to cause the "moral destruction of the world," then I think it is fair to point that out. There is pretty obviously a bias.

"And when I tell you you don't understand -- maybe instead of going of in a huff you should stop and think about what part of puzzle you're missing."
-Trust me, I do. I hope you would do the same instead of so often claiming the glory and rightness of your own words. Even the most knowing pastors and men of God have been wrong, and admit that they might be wrong sometimes. Don't think you are wrong on this? Fine. But, claiming to be right in all things, always doesn't seem to be a good message.

"You fail to understand the signification of being created in the image of God and the significance of bodies transformed into temples -- "
-What were you saying about me thinking I knew you?

"If the church devotes more attention to it than other issues, it's because the church understands what's at stake."
-One of my examples was sexual sin vs. sexual sin. Treated very differently.

" I frankly don't care how happy you are that you've rationalized your faith away so you can believe God is happy to leave you an incomplete, broken shell -- never realizing the full potential of life and love and service he created you for. "
-Fine, but some people do care about the happiness of others. And some, maybe even most gay people are happy, and people should know that. And, I think I am realizing the full potential of God's love just as I am. You can call me deceived if you want, but I have my own relationship with God. I've never questioned yours (I've only ever questioned how you portray gays and respond to those who disagree with you), so please don't question mine.

And, from the comments:

"And for extraneous commenters who fear my response but throw stones from the safety of their own sites -- when I start claiming my sin is ordained by God as most gays do -- then you've got reason to worry. "
-I certainly don't fear your responses. I left your blog after you specifically asked me to. As for claiming your sin is ordained by God, I think in your focus on not being gay, you may have missed some of the many others. But, I don't have a PhD in Biblical Literature like you.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Real Pride

Aaron has a great post over at his blog that is getting really good comments. The premise is that gay pride is this weekend. That is great and all, but what REALLY makes you proud? You don't have to be gay to participate in this kind of pride.

Stephen has joined in too, and I like his answer (why didn't Aaron answer, I wonder).

Here is my comment at Aaron's blog:
When I finally came out to my mom, I was a mess. It was probably the first time I had cried in around 5 years. As I choked the words out, she said, "Oh
honey, I don't care about that. That doesn't change anything for me." I needed to hear those words, but I was so worked up I couldn't say much more, so we hung up the phone. Her call back to me (I did this on the phone since we live in different cities) was what really made it all better. She called 5 minutes after we hung up the phone just to make sure I was ok and to try to make me laugh.

Now, on the life-achievements side of things, I'm proud that after saving a lot since I started being part of the real world (and getting a good job) I was able to buy a new house at 25. I have been working for quite some time for that.

So, what are you proud of?

Ben's Back At it

Ben over at Scattered Words is back at it again. Now, I'd first like to point out that recently I have been impressed with his blog. The entries themselves have moved back to his own feelings, experiences, etc., and away from absurd stereotypes, and bickering with Ex-Gay Watch.

However, his latest string of comments with a new commenter is what caused me to write this entry.

This poster writes to tell Ben basically that he disagrees with his interpretation of scripture. Yes, the poster is telling Ben that he disagrees with his views. However, he does it in a pretty nice, understanding type of attitude. He never uses harsh words or calls names. He seems to be more pointing out how he sees the issue than telling Ben he is wrong. If you are going to disagree with someone, this is the way to do it. And, if someone were going to disagree with me, I think I'd want this guy to do it given his apparent compassion.

Now, obviously Ben is sick of people coming on his blog and giving the pro-gay side of the story. Fine enough, I guess, but I'm kind of surprised that he doesn't expect it. And, if he gets this riled up with someone that is so nice and calm, I'd hate to see how he gets when some more forceful commenters come to town.

Ben ends this exchange (for now) by outright telling this guy that he is wrong. He says 6 times, just to be sure, so I guess he means it. I've said this before about Ben, but I think homosexuality is not the only sinful nature he needs to work on. Sure, Ben may think this guy is wrong, and he may be wrong. But, is telling him 6 times really worth it? In fact, whenever anyone slightly disagrees with Ben, he is quick (really quick) to prove them wrong, at any expense. He even told this poster that he didn't care what Merriam Webster's dictionary said about the definition of orthodoxy (because Ben knew better). I guess the fact that the definition of some words change over centuries away from their latin/greek roots doesn't mean much.

To end this, Ben claims that this commenter is twisting scripture for his own gain. David Morrison, and lots of other people use the same argument. The tactic is simple- they're trying to make the person on the other side look like he is not Christian. Even more than that, they're trying to make them look anti-Christian. Twisting Scripture is a big statement. True or not, its a big statement. I'm not sure why Protestants allowing divorce and remarriage in almost any case is not twisting Scripture (to David's credit- he thinks it is). I'm not sure why the Pastor of my childhood church living in a $1 million + house and driving a Mercedes and giving both of his teenage daugthers brand new cars is not twisting scripture. The list could go on. I just have trouble believing while all of these other "disagreements" among Christians are disagreements, being gay is all about twisting Scripture.

Sure, gay Christians could be wrong. But, so could divorced Christians and many others. I personally think "Scripture twisting" happens a lot from anti-gay Christians and even many on the religious right. So, if we are going to use the term, let's at least use it with everyone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Point of Order

As a point of order, I would like to announce that I am sick of pissing contests. Debate and dialogue are certainly welcome here. And, I will only delete comments that are just crazy and completely off topic (someone wrote in about some sort of alien religion coming to get us all earlier, and I deleted it).

However, in the blogs I read, often there is no debate, just pissing contests. I'd like to refrain from that here. I have my own toilet at home. This blog is not a competition nor a way to prove anyone's betterness than another. As I have seen, recently, there are lots of other blogs for that.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Which is Worse?

Recently, a commenter named Timothy over at Ex-Gay Watch posed a question to ex-gay pastor D.L. Foster (if he is not ex-gay himself, he is in the industry) that I have frequently posed myself.

Here is the question:
Is it morally worse to:
a) live in the "homosexual lifestyle", or
b) tell half-truths, spread unconfirmed "facts", repeat stories you know not to be true, and even lie?

D.L.'s response was that both were morally repugnant in God's eyes. That answer, of course, is a cop out. Timothy rebuked Foster's brush off and followed up with a very on topic statement by saying:

"According to your above statement, God will judge you no less harshly for allowing lies, distortions, and half-truths to be spread than if you had stayed in the "homosexual lifestyle".
Just a little thought for you when it comes time to claim "gays die sooner", "gays want to destroy the fabric of America", or any of Paul Cameron's lies. You have an obligation to dispute the lies or suffer God's judgement."

D.L. and others work so hard trying to get people to turn around from the sin of homosexuality, but they just let lies and distortions fly about. Surely someone in the anti-gay right should have the moral fortitude to come forward and say, "you know what, I disagree with being gay, but I also will not stand by and let these lies, stereotypes, exaggerations, distortions, and false information about gays go forward.

I've said this so many times. If being gay is a sin, tell people it is a sin. Why make up (or allow others to get away with making up) false information to make gays seem like some sort of terrible plague?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Senate Lynching Apology

As you may or may not know, the US Senate has passed a bill formally apologizing for their failure to pass legislation addressing the horrendous practice of lynching in the US.

The good news is that 84 Senators (as of the last count I saw) not only supported, but co-sponsered the bill. The vote was done as a voice vote, so if a Senator did not co-sponsor the bill, he/she did not take an official stand.

The bad news is that John Cornyn, one of the Senators from my state of Texas, did not co-sponsor the bill. What he is thinking I have no idea. Maybe I'll call and at least let them pretend to tell me what is up.

I'm waiting for just one person to give a logical reason why any Senator would not support this bill. Rush Limbaugh tried yesterday but did a very poor job. Saying that this bill wasn't enough because it did not admit that the Southern Democrats led the filibusters against anti-lynching laws in the past is not a real argument. Saying that the filibuster is still being used today to halt democracy is not enough.

Give me one good reason why a Senator will not acknowledge publicly that lynchings happened and some people in our government let them happen, and we are sorry.

Maybe this is why Cornyn is one of the most unpopular Senators up in D.C.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Rush Limbaugh calls for a Truce

Rush cleverly said on his radio show today that he was calling for a truce for Iraq. Then, of course, he clarified that he wasn't talking about a cease fire for our military, but for the anti-Iraqi war folks here in the U.S.

He listed out those that he was talking to/about. Democratic Senators, Weak-willed Republicans, The NYT, the Los Angeles Times, all of the media.

He then rather ironically said that he knew a truce wouldn't happen because "the left" hated Christians more than they hated terrorists.

I nearly choked. He calls for a truce from all democrats and liberals in the country (really from all non conservatives) and then closes this call for a truce with a chep shot at them? Maybe he should be a part of the truce too.

Paul Cameron is Back

Meet Paul Cameron. Professional quack, liar, and gay hater. I said in the comments of another blog that every gay person and gay ally should get to know this guy. He goes out of his way to lie, distort facts and basically make up studies to prove how terrible gays are. And for those that may be wondering- I don't dislike him because he thinks being gay is immoral, I dislike him because he spreads lies about gay people to try to prove how immoral they really are.

Cameron's take on gays can be pretty much summed up in this press release where he says, "Their results cast serious doubt on the claim of the gay rights movement that, except for their sexual proclivities, homosexuals are the same as heterosexuals." Obviously Cameron thinks gays are some sort of social misfits not worthy of anything.

To take this a bit further though, let's look at his track record (I took this from the link above and from a couple of other cites to back it up):

-Licensed Psychologist, but license has been inactive in Nebraska since 1995.
-Dropped from membership from the American Pshychological Institute in late 1983. (Let's be clear that this is very hard to do. There are plenty of anti-gay psychologists in the APA. It took bad science and faulty research in numerous studies to get himself kicked out).
-In 1984 the Nebraska Pyschological Association wrote a formal resolution disassociating itself from Cameron or any of his work.
-In 1986 the American Sociological Association did just about the same thing. Their resolution said that Paul Cameron was not a sociologist.
-In 1985 he was reprimanded in open court for being the only witness in the trial that was completely unbelievable.

-Lastly- he is chairman of the Family Research Institute, a so called Christian organization. To me it seems pretty hard to be a Christian organization and be led by a guy who has been denounced by so many different groups- the largest psychological and sociological groups in the nation. It's not that his views are unpopular, it is that he lies about his findings.

Again, let me be clear that Cameron was not dropped for his beliefs. These guys went out of their way to distance themselves from Cameron not because of what he was saying, but because his conclusions were not backed by evidence or fact, and were often made with complete disregard for the facts.

Cameron likes to post his "studies" in a magazine called Psychological Reports. He and his group claim that this is a scientific journal, but it really isn't. First, the magazine will publish almost anything for a fee (almost all professional journals do not charge a fee). And second, no peer review is required of any of the studies published here. There isn't any peer review of Cameron's studies because they are so faulty.

Ok, so now that that is all said and done, I'd like to go into why I am writing this. Yeah, Paul Cameron is a bad guy, but who cares? In his book, Anything But Straight, Wayne Besen says Paul Cameron is so far out of the mainstream (and so discredited) that no ex-gay or anti-gay groups will use his stuff anymore (they're too smart for that). But, it turns out that recently Cameron's completely discredited studies have come up recently from some pretty mainstream sources.

According to Pink Dome, the Christian Wire Service printed a Paul Cameron press release recently and then points out that more and more Christians are looking to Christian media for news over traditional media. Funny how if they print Cameron material, the Christian media might be less honest...

The Pink Dome also reported that along side my Governor, Rick Perry, a Christian Pastor spouted various discredited Cameron statistics (un-cited though) right before Perry signed two Texas bills.

Ex-Gay Watch has done a decent job of keeping up with Paul Cameron, and recently they have cited his works coming up here (by the conservative group The Christian Coalition--non-cited again) and here.

Even the Exodus blog cites an article regurgitating Cameron chicanery here. I know the blog says Exodus doesn't endorse any of the articles it links, but shouldn't the individuals picking these articles do at least SOME research before linking to material that has been published by a completely defrocked researcher? Isn't knowingly rehashing lies, lying?

I also recall seeing Cameron numbers come up in the State Senate debates over gay marriage from a handfull of ill-informed (or maybe just immoral) state senators, but I don't have those on hand now.

This is possibly the longest post I have made here.

I'm writing it, though, not specifically about Cameron (although I wanted to show how manipulative and dishonest he is), but about the Christian organizations and just regular old people that have no idea who he is. I'm going to give most of them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they don't know the story behind Cameron and his debunked studies. I'll certainly fault any religious leaders and public officials for publicly citing Cameron without doing their own research, but I will assume that it was a mistake and not intentional lying. But, I know in my heart that even if some of these people knew about Cameron, they still wouldn't care. They'd point out this stuff anyway, just to show (like Cameron) how terrible gay people are. To hell with the truth, I guess.

Hopefully at least a few gays, gay supporters, and even non-gay supporters will read this, learn about Cameron and at least know this vile isn't true. I hope the leaders out there will stop their misinformation campaign sometime too. But, sometimes the end seems to justify the means, no matter how immoral or wrong the means is or how many people get hurt in the process. Disagree with being gay all you want, but why lie about it? In the end I think misinforming millions of people intentionally is probably not going to sit too well with God. Probably less well than a gay person that was wrong about being gay, but tried to do the right thing in his/her life.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Is Being Gay Just About Sex?

In my opinion, of course it isn't. There is way more going on when a person is gay than just sex. But, David Morrison over at Sed Contra says (in the comments section) that the gay community and being gay is just that, all about sex.

He says the gay media and the mainstream media both continuously depict gay life being about sex. My response first is that believing the mainstream media on matters such as this is a bit silly. Most of the "religious right" doesn't give the mainstream any weight at all do to their "left-leaning bias." That is of course, unless the media happens to agree with them in that point in time. I'm not writing this to talk about the alleged liberal medial. But surely anyone can see that the mainstream media is sensationalistic to the extreme. And what is the most sensationalistic part about the gay community? You guessed it, the sex. David also didn't care to mention the mainstream media's almost constant portrayal of teenagers as sex crazed, alcohol and drug using hedonists. I'd hate to suggest that because the mainstream media portrays them like this, this is what they are all about (or only about for that matter).

As for the gay media. I'll admit, the only piece of gay media I read is The Advocate online. And, while I admit some of the stories and ads center around sex, the majority surely do not. Then again, most of the magazines and press centered around older teens (and hey, even some younger teens) also tend to revolve around sex. But again, we can just use common sense and realize that this does not mean that all teens fall into that category.

I have a few friends (believe it or not). One of them has been one of my closest friends since high school. To this day, he is one of only a few gay guys I am close to. He has not had sex of any type for nearly 3 years now. Yet, he is still gay. He is still attracted to guys and one day he wants to find a guy to spend his life with. I wonder what David Morrison would have to say about people like him, or people like me for that matter. As much as David wants to paint the picture of the immoral gay sex fiend (to my extreme disappoinment), I wish that he would spend more time admitting that there are plenty of gay people out there that don't fall into his immoral little box than trying to demonize the group as a whole.

Sex plays a very minor part in my life. Ask my friends or my boyfriend. I'm not together with him for the sex, and as much as some gay guys have sex, I wish David would get out a bit more and realize that sex is not ALL that the gay community is or not all that all gay guys think about.

I have to agree with Joe Perez, who commented in the thread on David's blog that I linked above. I wish David would spend a bit less time demonizing gays from his moral soap box, and a bit more time doing what I suspect the Catholics he met that turned him into a Catholic did--counsel, love, steer towards God. Why would I ever want to go towards a religion that was constantly telling me how evil and terrible my friends and I are?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Moderates Have No Morals or Values

Or so said Rush Limbaugh on his show today. As a moderate myself, I take exception to this absurd statement. He added that liberals have values, they are just mostly directly opposed to those values on which our country was founded. I'm sure liberals would have something to say about that.

The irony here is that Rush Limbaugh would probably be considered a moderate by 1900's or even 1950's standards, so obviously this idea of "rock solid" values and morals that don't change doesn't really exist in the grand scheme of things. And, as much as Rush wants you to believe that everything is black and white, it pretty obviously isn't. He got mad because the DA where he lives was trying to charge him with the almost never used offense of Dr. shopping. But, his getting mad goes into the gray area. Black and white means he should have admitted he was wrong, taken his punishment (or fought it based solely on evidence, not the fact that few others are charged with this type of law), and been done with it.

As much as he hates Howard Dean, the two of them sure have a lot of stuff in common. Saying things just to get reactions being the main common trait.

I obviously disagree often with Rush. He almost never has guests on the show because, by his own claims, he makes the case for conservative and liberal better than anyone else could. Of course the first problem is the absurd conceit in that statement. But the second is that he doesn't make the liberal case well. He sets up straw men arguments and then hacks them down. Anyone that can't see straight through his tripe has got some issues of their own, whether conservative or liberal.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My Governor Doesn't Like Veterans (if they are gay that is)

Ok, so maybe the headline of this post is a little bit extreme, but as much as most Republicans and Conservatives talk about how much they love our troops ad nauseum, Perry sure doesn't go out of his way to talk about how much he appreciates the service of gay servicemen and women in his state. (Note: Don't get me wrong, our troops deserve all of the praise in the world, but I feel like some conservative pundits and hosts give the praise to make a point, and for the image, not necessarily because they are being genuine).

Anyway, the quote from Perry really was gem. Perry said "Texans have made a decision about marriage and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas then maybe that's a better place for them to live." I got that from a Dallas/FW news station's web site. Thanks to the Pink Dome for turning me on to the quote.

Yikes! Not even an attempt to pretend that they can still have their relationships personally, religiously, just not governmentally? And notice how he says, "if there is some other state." Obviously these states do exist, so why the big ole "if" clause? The implication is almost a "too bad so sad" scenario.

I really don't want to even get into the fact that he signed this bill even though it didn't need to be signed or that he signed it in a church and made numerous religious references and shared the podium with several pastors, but I'll at least mention it. You know what, I have no problem with our governor being Christian. I am Christian and I tell anyone that asks (and lots that don't). I don't have a problem at all with him going to church or mentioning God in his speeches. But, signing a bill at a church? Doesn't that even kind of sound weird?" Would the conservatives out there think it was ok if a governor went into a mosque surrounded by Muslim leaders who said prayers and talked about Muslim values and how the state should and does represent them?

One day we will look back at this charade and laugh at how silly this absurd pandering to a voter block really was. I can't wait for that day.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

An Exodus Letter to the Editor

I was over at Randy's blog today, and he had a letter to the editor from Exodus, his current employer (I am sure they are more than an employer to him, but I am not sure how else to say that).

Honestly, the letter sounds more like a press release than a letter to the editor (the firt time I posted this, I accidentally called it a press release. Anyway, it doesn't do much more than give a quick criticism of the article and then go on to talk about what Exodus does and how they can help gays. The opening of the letter says that Orlando marketing gurus have reduced gays and lesbians to mere commodities. This was in response to a local newspaper article that said that local businesses were becoming more tolerant to gays and were trying to market to them to attract them to the area.

I was a bit confused by the letter. Were Exodus and the Pastors that signed off upset that businesses were accepting of gays coming into their businesses? I'm not sure how that could be a bad thing. Or were they mad that the advertisers and marketers were actively trying to bring gays to the area? On this note, they said that the advertisers were reducing gays and lesbians to commodities. But, isn't that what advertisers and marketers do for a living? Are these Pastors sending out similar press releases or letters for ads geared at blacks? What about teens? Christians? Bar Hoppers? I know Exodus' goal is to deal with gays, but surely these Pastors realize that advertisers advertise to EVERYONE and newspapers write about this type of target marketing all of the time too. Saying these guys were reducing gays to commodities seems like a cheap shot to me.

The letter goes on to say that the people that signed it "consistently see men and women in [their] offices who embraced gay life...and found it empty and unfulfilling." It goes on to say that the idyllic picture of gay life was (is I guess) deceptively portrayed by the media.

I will fully admit that there are some people out there that are not happy being gay for a variety of reasons. To be honest, that was something I struggled with for many many years before I came out. I saw gays as femimine, promiscuous, shallow hairdressers because that is what I saw in the media. I thought that I would never be accepted if I was gay. But, after coming out I realized my unhappiness with being gay was based in my own ignorance and irrationality, not in some deep seated unhappiness with being attracted to other guys.

Ok, so all of this is on a tangent. My point here is that I think it is obscuring the whole picture some to say that the media is deceiving the public and gays by depicting this idea of an idyllic gay life. From where I see things, gay life is just as idyllic as any other life (straight or otherwise). While some people aren't happy being gay, many more, many many more, are. And let's face it, people aren't happy with a lot of things in their lives. Maybe Exodus should come out in their statements and actually admit that some people are happy being gay, but they are there for those that aren't. If I listened to just Exodus, I would think that all gays were lying in a pool of self hate or despair. But, then again, I think that is what they want me to believe.

I'll be awaiting another letter from these Pastors accusing Orlando marketers of reducing all people to commodities with money to spend. It would only be fair.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Texas Gay Foster Ban Gets the Axe

I know this is going to get some of the super conservatives mad, but it seems that the clearer heads prevailed in the Texas State Senate. Yes, gays will still be able to be foster parents. Thousands of kids will be able to go to stable homes rather than staying in group homes or jumping from house to house.

I know some people think not having a family at all is better than having a gay family, but I beg to differ.

I'm glad this is gone, as you can imagine. Even more glad that Rep. Talton's absurd addition to a bill that was only meant to reform CPS's inadequacies got stripped. Talton tried before to keep gays from being foster parents with a stand alone bill. It lost then too. 0-2, sir. Here is the story from my hometown paper.