Thursday, March 30, 2006

Soulforce comes to Texas A&M

Soulforce is having an "Equality Ride" currently where 32 young gay adults are going around the country in a bus to several Christian colleges and military universities that ban admission to gay students. The goal, of course, is to open a dialogue with the students and admimistrators on the campuses.

The riders have been denied official recognition from some schools, been jailed for trespassing at others, and had their bus vandalized at still others. For anyone that thinks it's all peaches and cream for young gay people these days, think again (but that's a separate point).

While I've been following this ride on and off so far, I'm posting about it this time because the bus has come to Texas A&M University, a school located just an hour and a half from me and one that I root for in sports every year as a result of family allegiance. Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets is one of the largest group of military students in the nation, which is why the bus is stopping there. However, I have been unable to confirm that their program specifically prohibits gay people.

Well, welcome to Texas, Soulforce! I'm glad (excited even) to report that the students and faculty of Texas A&M have welcomed the bus openly (Abilene Christian University in North Texas, and current school of my boyfriend's sister, was equally as generous). The riders were treated to lunch in the dining hall and were offered time for open discussion with the students. While it looks like not all of the cadets had their views changed, I'm glad to see that they were adult about this and offered the riders the opportunity to discuss. At the very least, I'm sure some mutual understanding was reached. Maybe some of the "Christian" schools on the trip could learn a thing or two from those Aggies.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Joshua Bolten Isn't Married

I heard on Good Morning America this morning that the President's new Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten has never been married, but he does live with his current girlfriend and her two children. Talk about destroying marriage. Ok, I'm being sarcastic with that, but still.

I couldn't find an online link to anyone else mentioning that, so I guess those on the "religious right" are ok with this. I can't imagine they'd be ok if he was gay.

See, this is what I am talking about, they let this sexual sin slide but focus on gays, and this type of arrangement seems much more likely to weaken the stability of marriage than a few loving gay people actually getting married.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Protecting Marriage" Allows Domestic Violence

The "Defense of Marriage Act" passed in Ohio as a desperate attempt to outlaw gay marriage (and more importantly rally conservative voters) has opened the door to exempting live-in couples that aren't married from being charged with domestic violence laws.

The anti gay marriage law says that only married couples will get the benefits and rights of marriage. One of those benefits is being protected by domestic violence laws if they are abused by their spouse. So now live in boyfriends can freely abuse their girlfriends and only be charged with simple assault.

Then again, domestic violence is a sort of "hate crimes" law anyway, so we probably don't even need it anyway.

Maybe people should have thought this through a little more before being so adamant to vote against the evil gays. I'm also awaiting the voiding of all common-law marriages here in Texas. It shouldn't take long for that to come to court too.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's Illegal to Be Drunk In Texas

It's Friday, and I'm heading up to the good 'ole state capitol this weekend to visit friends and family. But, I wanted to post about some really strange goings on in my state.

Around the state, Texas has been conducting sting operations to arrest people that are drunk in bars. Apparently it falls in the public drunkenness category. Even worse is that they are using undercover cops to do the arresting, not uniformed ones, so you better watch out.

The news story I watched last night mentioned that the undercover officers would be looking for patrons that had slurred speech, were fumbling with money, or not walking straight to determine who is drunk. If you have a ride home other than your own car you get a $500 fine for being drunk, but if you drove there, you get a free ride to jail.

Honestly, this is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard of. We aren't talking about people being disruptive or disorderly, we are simply talking about people that have just had too much to drink, even if their friends are there to take care of them.

I guess prohibition is the next step.

Ok, I know prohibition isn't coming next, but shouldn't our cops be doing things like stopping the rising crime rate going on here in Houston? And, if this "sting operation" is equally applied, I can't even imagine how many thousands of people would be getting tickets or going to jail each weekend. Maybe this is a state fundraiser of sorts.

I realize that drinking and driving are lethal combinations, but if that is the case, stand these undercover cops at the door of the bar and force patrons to show them a sober driver. Just having a few too many (and from what I can tell that is what we are talking about, not just the people that are completely smashed) shouldn't warrant jail time. How this is about safety of others is beyond me.

Here's more from CNN.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Voice of Gay Youth

You know, I often wish I had come out as gay earlier in life. I didn't come out officially until I was 22, after graduating from college, and even then it was a big ordeal for me. I'm not really that old now, but when I was in high school, the climate surrounding gay kids just wasn't the same.

I didn't know a single openly gay student before I graduated in 1997, and nationwide, there were only abou 100 GSA clubs in high schools nationwide compared to nearly 3,000 today (my high school was not one of them).

I wish I would have had been given both the environment and the courage to come out back then. That and the understanding that I have now, I guess. I was in speech and debate in high school, and I know I would have been a good advocate for the cause. My personality and demeanor today really make people question their stereotypes of what a gay person is "supposed" to be, so I know it would have done the same back then.

Plus, I think my emotional life would have been a lot more "normal" if I had come out, but that's a different issue altogether.

Anyway, I'm writing all of this because I was reminded of how powerful the voice of gay youth really can be. This article/speech is written by a gay 16 year old about his interaction with a Virgina Senator in a local townhall-style meeting. It is well thought out and seems to have been a very powerful speech. It's great to see. Maybe it will even give me the motivation to get more politically active now that I am out of high school, who knows.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Is This Hate Speech?

I read over at Ex-Gay Watch that Google has declared the site "Alain's Newsletter" hate speech. The site seems to be a bit perturbed by the Google decision, so I decided to look around a bit and see what I could find.

I went over to the first gay-related article I could find, and I did start to get an idea as to how Google made it's decision, but I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's hate speech or not. The article is about "gay propaganda," so I had an idea as to where it was going. But, there is surely a difference between believing in "gay propaganda" and hate speech.

Ok, here goes. It starts out relatively banal and gets a bit more angry from there:

"Being gay is most certainly NOT good, except to those people who've been conditioned by propaganda to believe otherwise."

"Homosexuality is an undesirable condition (i.e., a psychosexual pathology) that is characterized by compulsive, or obligatory, unnatural sexual behavior. This behavior is often grossly unhygienic and physically traumatizing. Same-sex sex facilitates the transmission of devastating, often fatal diseases."

"Alexander the Great (who I submit wasn't so Great if he was in fact gay). "

After recalling a list of great gay people this world has seen, the author counters with a similar list of terrible (allegedly) gay people including Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Adolf Hitler and several others.

The author closes by talking about his implied amusement when he overhears the word gay used derrogatorily in conversation.

I don't know about you, but listing society's worst killers as a counter to the argument that some gay people are actually heroes is pretty despicable. Hate speech? You call it, but I can certainly see why Google would want to stay clear of a site like this one. It's too bad, as Ex-Gay Watch mentions, that Exodus doesn't seem to want to keep similar distance.

Randy made a post about this today and was nice enough to link back here. In the post, he not only distanced himself from Alain's Newsletter, but he asked his blogger buddy that links there directly to do the same. So, the last sentence of my main post has been answered, very kindly, by Randy. Much appreciated.

Friday, March 17, 2006

That Darned Slippery Slope

There's a new article out in Newsweek about the dreaded slippery slope theory that conservatives have been bringing up about gays and gay marriage for the last several years.

There's a post up about the slippery slope and how the sky really is falling over at the Exodus Blog.

I'd like to make a few quick points.

First, don't be deceived, slippery slopes are a fallacy. One could attach a "slippery slope" argument into nearly any debate. The problem is that it doesn't need proof and the "proof" that is often cited to show it's happening may appear to be on message, but it is usually the result of arm-chair quarterbacking and the misunderstanding (intentionally or unitentionally) of information.

Second, the slippery slope argument is nothing new. Rest assured that it was used in the case of racial segregation, interracial marriage, nearly every religious debate ever discussed, etc. The sky didn't fall then, and it won't now.

Third, the slippery slope that supposedly links gay marriage and gay rights with polygamy is backwards. In the case of polygamy, polygamists have been fighting for marriage rights and recognition for hundreds, if not thousands of years (and it Biblical times, they had full marriage rights in many cases), way before gay rights was even thought of. So to now say that gay rights are creating a slippery slope that leads into polygamy is absurd and backwards. You could just as easily say that the popularity of polygamy in the last 2 decades (yes, it was getting press in the 80's and 90's too, without gay marriage) has led to the gay rights struggle. Either way, you'd be wrong because they are two different issues.

Progress is progress. It doesn't happen because of some elusive slippery slope but because people begin to realize what is right. Refusing to make it legal to let people discriminate against gay people in housing, employment, and other areas isn't creating a slippery slope, it's doing the right thing.

Here's the point. Slippery slope arguments are distractions. Just because HBO made a movie about polygamists doesn't mean gay marriage caused it anymore than interracial marriage caused it or inter-religious marriage caused it. Don't fall for it, just do what is right. And, making discrimination legal isn't right, no matter what your justification may be.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Michael Bailey Bad, Paul Cameron Good

Over at the Exodus Blog, Randy Thomas has a post linking to an article that questions 60 Minutes' use of research from Michael Bailey. Apparently Bailey's research and research methods have been in question lately and he's received sanctions causing him to resign a high-level post.

I was glad to see the information since I hadn't heard it before.

I thought it was odd, though, that Randy Thomas was so quick to point this researcher's problems when he has ignored the enormous problems of Paul Cameron, who has been sanctioned or kicked out of numerous professional organizations in his field (nearly every one, actually).

So, why would Randy care? Well, the Agape Press, Focus on the Family, the FRC, and even Randy's own employer, Exodus International still cite Paul Cameron's studies to this day, even though his credentials are highly suspect and his studies are completely invalid.

I was glad to see Randy bring up the Michael Bailey saga. I hope he urges his organization and its associates to denounce Paul Cameron as well, for truth's sake.

New AP Style

I used to use the AP handbook constantly in high school and college. So, I was glad to read that it has updated its terminology on gays and lesbians in its 2006 edition. Among the rules now are avoiding using the terms "homosexual" and "sexual preference."

For those of you that aren't gay, the term homosexual has a pretty negative connotation. Many anti-gay folks use it even though they know of the negative connotation. Now they can be called out on it pretty easily without hiding behind ignorance of the term. Sexual preference implies choice, so I'll be happy to see it gone.

Chalk that up as one more step forward.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Exodus Blog- No Dissenting Opinions Allowed

Possibly against my better judgement, I decided to post a comment over at the new Exodus Blog. I posted a comment in response to Alan Chambers' most recent post and the first comment made about it.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to save the comment, but I can assure you that it was not mean-spirited in the slightest. I responded (very kindly) that while I didn't necessarily agree with the Boise Idaho protest's tactics, I also wanted to point out that it is currently legal in many states to deny employment, housing and other actual rights to gays just because of their sexual orientation, so the protest was not just about "the sanctity of marriage" as the first commenter stated.

I went on to say that I was glad that Alan Chambers' gay friend was so successful in life, but I wanted to point out that surely not all gays were that successful, and even if some people in a population were successful, it still does not justify discriminating against that population as a whole.

Well, three days later my comment never made it up. Is it honest of Exodus to put one-sided posts out there for their target market (I'd assume struggling gay people that want to be ex-gay) and then not allow completely professional, fair, opposing views. Yes, I realize that they have freedom of speech and can post or not post whatever they want, but is it fair to their readership? Is it an honest tactic to completely disallow opposing views, no matter how accurate or well-stated? If they wanted to defend, they certainly could have, but they chose censorship instead.

Strangely enough, after my comment didn't make the cut, Mike Ensley added an additional comment to the post. His comment hinted on my rebuttal that all or most gays being well-off financially. I'm not sure if he was responding to my comment-that-never-was or not, but he sure did follow right up on the point I was making with his own opposing argument.

He links to a study about the financial success of gays as a group. The study is written by Tony Marco, the co-author of John-Paulk's auto-biography, and an author often cited by NARTH because of his numerous anti-gay and ex-gay writings. The study also refers to a quote from Peter LaBarbera and refers to him as a researcher without mentioning his right-wing and anti-gay agenda in the slightest.

The study is fairly obviously right-wing and anti-gay. I think anyone reading it openly would see the bias instantly and would notice words such as "gay militants" used repeatedly. He refers to homosexuality as a fantasy and a behavior, but never an attraction or love, and compares it to sadomasochism and cannibalism. I wonder if Mike Ensley agrees with such comparisons. He also at one point says that gays are, "embarrassingly more advantaged than true minorities in the job market."

It's funny that Marco uses the words "embarrasingly more advantaged." It's quite hard to put a negative spin on success, but Marco makes sure to do it. Anti-gay and right-wing folks work hard to depict gays as living unhappy, depressed, and immoral lives, so a study depicting their financial success in the world goes against their whole base argument. Marco is careful to frame his negatively so as not to disrupt the dominant theme of the unhappy and unsuccesful lives of gays. Words such as "gay militants," "cannibalism," and "embarrasingly more advantaged," help accomplish his goal.

But really, what's the point of the study? Is the point to say that it is ok to discriminate against gays in employment, housing, and other areas simply because as a group they seem to be more prosperous than other groups? Would it be fair to discriminate against any groups simply based on their group's success in society?

That really does seem to be the point to me. I'd hate to think that Mike Ensley agrees with that idea. But, I've never really seen anyone claiming gays are as a group financially downtrodden, just that gays are discriminated against. It's interesting, and very telling, that this study looks at financial success rather than actual discrimination, hate crimes, etc. to prove it's point. Gays are discrimated against, as are many groups, and our society should work to end discrimination, but Marco seems to think that this discrimination is justified in any area of society because gays as a group are successful. Rather than saying that laws aren't the way to go about ending discrimination, he pretty obviously thinks discrimiation against an individual is acceptable if that group is successful. This is especially apparent considering Marco himself used this study to argue against employment protection for gays in Colorado in the 1990's.

Once again, I have to ask the question. Is Exodus a group that is attempting to minister to gays and show them salvation through Christ? You would think these people could use their experience as former gays to empathize on a corporate and personal level with gay people. However, more and more they seem to be interested in painting a picture of gays that falls all too conveniently in line with the far right--that gays (implying all gays) live unhappy lives, that they are immoral, that society SHOULD be allowed to discriminate against them as they please, and that they can change if they just try hard enough. Why would I look towards an organization that tells me how terrible I am and wants to allow society to discriminate against me for salvation? I wonder if they ever even consider that question.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Amazing Day

I just wanted to post to say what an amazingly beautiful day it is outside today. I'm here in the office, but it is enough to just look out the window.

It's days like these that I wish I could win the lottery or become independently wealthy some other way (I'm not a big fan of the whole "working for a living" thing). One day...

What a great day for an anniversary. My boyfriend and I are celebrating our 7th year together today! Who would have thought two little closeted 19 year olds could make it work and stay together? Pretty amazing if you ask me.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

New Exodus Ex-Gay Blog

Exodus has a new blog. This one will actually be commentary, unlike their current blog, which just posts links to media articles. Randy Thomas will be a contributor there. It should be interesting.

One recent post highlights a USA Today article that talks about Brokeback Mountain, praising the religious right for mostly ignoring the movie. Man, I must have been in a different country, because I'm still hearing commentary from conservative radio hosts, and far right Christians have been all over the movie since it came out. What movie is this article talking about? Surely not Brokeback. End of the Spear, maybe?

It Wasn't "Bosom Buddies" After All

Three teenagers have been arrested in the Alabama church fire case. I can't imagine what a relief this is for the people in that area. But guess what. They weren't gays or liberals (as far as I can tell).

Isn't there some sort of saying about what happens when you ASS U ME things? Somebody should call Chris Matthews.

On a side note, I wonder if Alabama has a hate crimes bill? This looks to me like it should qualify.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Something to Consider

If there is no Constitutional right to be gay, can we write laws to prevent gay people from driving cars? What about blogging?

I know what the Supreme Court would say now after Lawrence, but what would the far right say? If they say there is no protection for being gay, why stop at love, sex, or marriage?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Presbyterian Minister Acquitted

So here is some good news:

The Presbyterian Minister in California that was being tried for performing same-sex marriages was acquitted of charges of violating her denomination's rule banning same-sex marriages.

The religious court found that the rules surrounding marriage were a definition, not a directive, and noted the minister was acting in accordance with the standars of the region. This ruling presumably opens the door for other ministers in the area to start preforming gay weddings without facing a trial of their own. One step forward if you ask me.

Gay Prevention Program Harm Teens

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a report recently accusing Exodus International and other ex-gay groups of harming teens in their increasing attempt to target their groups and therapies to them.

The report is asking state and local authorities to require these therapy groups to live up to the same licensing requirements that other treatment centers follow, which I agree with. Alan Chambers was forced to admit that only 30% of Exodus' ministries have onsite professionals. But, since Exodus' mission is not to minister to gay people, I guess there is no need to have professionals onsite anyway. Maybe Alan should have made that distiniction to the AP.

In his statement, Alan Chambers also mentions the success of ex-gay ministries and conferences, while the report accuses the ministries of attracting confused and scared friends and family members of gay people, not gays themselves in most cases.

I think that is a good point. Families hearing the stereotypes about gay people, and often not knowing much about what it means for someone to be gay, are intrigued by the offering of changing their gay family member. For some reason, they believe what ex-gay groups have to tell them (without proof) and disbelieve the heartfelt testimony of their own family members. How unfortunate.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Will Lawrence v. Texas be overturned

Not that I'm a big proponent of abortion or that I think abortion rights and gay rights are directly related, but, with all of these states working so furiously to outlaw abortion and get a ruling from the new Supreme Court (here's one example), is Texas or some other state going to try to overturn Lawrence too?

At least if that happened all of these Conservatives would have to admit that they were against equality altogether, not just the idea that the Supreme Court made the decision. Can we say cop out?

Anyway, I thought the Supreme Court was supposed to be immune from all of this political nonsense. Is our country really that divided these days that everytime a member of the Supreme Court retires (or dies or gets really sick as Jerry Falwell has predicted), we go back and challenge every controversial ruling they've ever made. How is that progress?

Our founding fathers must be so proud.

Luckily the Constitution doesn't say anything about email, so I am going to write my legislators about banning the elderly from emailing, just because I know they don't have any protection since Constitutional interpretation isn't allowed. Sorry Granma.

Ex-Gay Parody Suit

I read over at Ex-Gay Watch that the Liberty Counsel and Exodus International are sending letters out to websites asking them to stop disseminating a parody of an Exodus Billboard. You can click on the link to see the actual parody and original billboard, but the original one says, "Gay. Unhappy?" and then gives Exodus' web address. The parody says, "Straight. Unhappy?" And then gives a gay web address. Funny stuff I guess, considering it was made in response to the Love Won Out conference last weekend.

It makes sense that Exodus is mad about the parody. Nobody likes to get mocked or made fun of, so I get that.

The problem is that this cease and desist letter is a bully tactic, nothing more. Believe it or not, parody is one of the most protected types of speech in the country. We can thank such political icons as 2 Live Crew for that. Apparently we love some comedy at the expense of others.

I was a Communication (mostly media studies) major in college, what can I say. I'm no expert, but I eat this stuff up, seriously.

So, this letter is absurd. Exodus and Liberty know it. Too bad they'd stoop to this level.