Sunday, March 25, 2007

Attending a Gay Wedding

I just read a post over at Pam's House Blend that I found interesting. The post links to a story about a commenter over at FreeRepublic that is asking for advice as to whether or not he should attend the gay wedding of a cousin he is very close to.

Given that I just had a wedding of my own a few months back and that most of my extended family did not attend because of religious or social objections, this post hit home for me. Although some of the responses in the post were ignorant and mean-spirited, many of them were very well thought out and nice, even often conceding that even if they didn't agree with gay marriage, family should trump a political issue like this. Good for them.

So, if you're anti-gay or anti-gay marriage, what would you do if someone close to you invited you to a gay wedding?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Problem I Have with Exodus (and other ex-gay groups)

Actually, after I wrote this I realized I have more than just one problem with ex-gay groups like Exodus. I actually have two. The first problem is their political activism fighting against what I see as anything that might be construed as pro-gay (from gay marriage to partner benefits to anti-discrimination laws). If you want to help turn gay people straight (or at least to stop being gay), I'd think you would want to stay out of the political warfare that easily angers so many people. But, that's not the issue I want to talk about now.

The problem that compelled me to write this post is that organizations like Exodus and others provide fuel for many anti-gay or even just non-pro-gay people (gay indifferent?) to tell gay people that they can change (and many in non-ex-gay circles will even say gays can change easily). Yes, Exodus will say that they're being used out of context, but in reality, Exodus is the one that needs to be clear to everyone out there that they are being used incorrectly. The problem is, they continue to disseminate information that reinforces these notions that gays should "just go get fixed."

Let me be clear that I am fully supportive of someone that wants to try to be ex-gay or non-gay or even gay and celibate provided they are fully informed of everything that comes along with that (i.e. the low success rates for people that do change, the intense struggle it may be, the possibility of increased self-loathing reported by some individuals as a result of trying to change, etc.). The problem for me is that I believe organizations such as Exodus, in their zeal to get the word out to gay people, don't make these notions clear enough in their sound bytes, advertisements, and even online material what "change" actually entails or even means (because it doesn't necessarily mean changing from gay to straight, even though that is clearly what the public at large is understanding in the message).

I got to thinking about this issue after reading a letter from a church Pastor posted on Good As You. In the letter, the Pastor thanks his county for denying pension benefits to a county employee's same-sex partner, but he concludes the letter by saying that his church and others can free people from homosexuality and then compares being gay to other sexual sins. It's a sad two-sentence statement that gives the impression that not being gay is easy for gay people, just as easy as not being promiscuous or not looking at porn. Sadly, people like my dad and other parents of gay people out there believe this pipe dream of easy change and can continue to see gay people as the evil "other" that just won't try hard enough to change and be straight rather than looking at them as people that have the exact same attractions, love, interests, etc., but in a different form. Being gay isn't just some other sin or some other sexual issue, but that message is too hard to swallow in a marketing campaign, so they leave it out.

I'll admit that Exodus occasionally these days will concede that change is very hard to obtain and is not attainable for all people, but this admission comes often very deep into a conversation on the subject. Yes, people like me see these admissions, but I follow gay and ex-gay issues as a hobby. My dad sure didn't understand the challenge when his local pastor referred him (and me indirectly) to an Exodus ministry. The Pastor's remarks were simply that the good news was that there was hope of change, and he told my dad where to go find help. He didn't say that change might not mean being straight, he didn't say that change wasn't even the goal, he just said that I could change if I talked to the folks over at Exodus.

So, as much as Exodus quietly will admit that not everyone will change, lets not forget their "Change is Possible, Discover How" ad campaign. Let's not forget the "Freedom is Possible" slogan right on the front of their web page. Let's not forget the endorsements page Exodus puts on their website that has endorsements about their conferences using both the words change and liberate or the press releases that specifically say that change can happen but don't really mention the struggle that will take place or what change might mean.

The bites themselves are pretty clear to someone of the anti-gay persuasion that gays can just go out and change like it's no big deal, and until Exodus fixes that, their work is going to be misused and co-opted by culture war. The question is whether they want to work to stop that from happening.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just a Reminder that Gay Rights are Not Special Rights

For those of you that are still confused, here is a brief example that gay rights are not special rights:

The State Senate in Arkansas has moved a bill to the floor for a full vote. The bill would ban gay parents from fostering or adopting a child, even if the child is a family member or a godchild.

Basically, this would mean that if my family lived in Arkansas and my parents died, J and I would not be able to care for my 12 year old sister, even though one of my brothers still lives at home and doesn't have a job and the other one is about to go back to school full time and will also not be employed until he is done. Logically, J and I would be the best situated to care for my sister given that we own a home and both have good, stable jobs. Apparently those types of things don't matter in Arkansas, though. It's also interesting that no matter how good or moral we might be, as long as we are gay, we aren't eligible.

So, next time you here the good old claim that gays are asking for special rights, just remember it's not true.

Check out Pam's post on the issue too to see how studies are showing that kids raised by gay parents are just as well off as other children.

Just an FYI- if you listen closely to the anti-gay reasoning as to why gays shouldn't raise kids, you'll hear them say that studies show that kids are better off with a mother and a father. The problem with those studies is they are looking at kids being raised in a one-parent household and comparing them to kids being raised in a two-parent household. The studies have nothing to do with gay parents and were never meant to. Pretty tricky, huh?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Immorality of Homosexuality

Homosexuality, or for those that are more precise, homosexual acts, are immoral. Yes, I know. I've heard this or been told this thousands of times. I don't agree with it, but I understand the message loud and clear.

The problem is that lots of stuff in this world is immoral. And, in a society like ours, the alleged or believed immorality of something simply isn't reason enough to form public policy, laws, or rules. I'm sure there are people out there that think that morality alone should be the deciding factor when we make laws and form our government's policies, but if you think about it, it just doesn't make sense.

I got to thinking about this when the military's top General said he supported "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because he believed homosexual acts were immoral and we should not support or condone immorality.

Let's set aside my disagreement with what I view as his fairly narrow-minded understanding of homosexuality and extend the argument to it's logical conclusion--that if homosexuality should be banned in the military because it is immoral, then all things immoral should be banned in the military.

Some simple acts of immorality come to mind for me, but I'd like to start with the one immoral thing that is the reason we don't mix our government with religion. For Christians, simply not being a Christian is immoral and will lead to an eternity without God faster than anything else. It's really that simple--if you are not Christian--if you are worshipping another God or no God at all, you are committing an immoral act.

I'm not saying we should ban all Christians from the military, but being a good person isn't enough to get a person in to heaven--believing in Jesus Christ is. I just feel that when so many people are up in arms about the terrible immorality of being gay, they should really try to be more reasonable and "big picture" about their issues. Depending on who you ask 3-10% of the population is gay and are supposedly immoral. Trust me that way more than that number are non-Christians. Yes, I realize Christians worry about that side of the coin too, but if they weren't so worried about the boogieman of gays, I bet they'd be able to do a lot more to help the faith spread.

Back to the General's comments about supporting DADT because homosexuality is immoral. For some more immoral actions, try bigotry, lying, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, coveting, greed, pride, not helping the poor or disabled, not tithing to the Church (this is debatable, I'm sure, but that's kind of the point). Anyway, the list can go on. We don't keep the people committing these immoral acts from being the in military. If the people doing these things are qualified to be in the military, they get in. The same should go for gays.

I've heard arguments in favor of DADT citing unit cohesion and other ideas related to how straight soldiers would feel. I think the reasons are misguided, but at least they are trying to make an independent point rather than singling out one act of immorality as if to pretend the others don't exist. Being against being gay is one thing, but letting skewed and narrow views of what constitutes morality shape a national policy is quite another. If we are going to judge things based on immorality, we should at least be consistent.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Racism at Work

I don't write about work much on here, but this one couldn't get left out:

I work for a company that takes thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of calls a day from the general public. Today someone called in and asked to speak to a person that was white and did not speak with any kind of foreign accent. The receptionist that took the call was black and understandably upset. She handled the caller very graciously but had to take a break after it was over. Remind me again what year this is. I can't believe this type of thinking is still acceptable anywhere, but apparently it is.

I've always said that when you deal with the general public in mass like I do (I don't answer the phones, but I've met thousands of people in interviews for work over the last several years), you come to realize how unintelligent people are. Pessimistic, I know, but it's true and pretty amazing, really.

I guess you get to see how bigoted people can be too.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tomorrow's My Anniversary!

Tomorrow will be my 8th (yes 8th!) anniversary with J. You guys probably know already that we had our wedding back in late July, so this anniversary is actually the anniversary of us as a couple. Eight years is a long time.

We met and started dating way back in college. And I must admit that I thought he was very cute from the first time I saw him freshman year, even though I only knew him then as my friend's suitemate that I rarely saw (and barely ever spoke to). It took us a couple of years to work out any chemistry. The closet is a tough place for relationships, trust me.

We're kind of not sure what to do with this anniversary now since we have the big one in July, so we're going to keep it simple. No gifts, no trips, no fancy restaurants. Tonight we're going to a moderately priced restaurant that we've never tried before, so it'll be new and fun, but it won't break the bank (I hope).

Then tomorrow it's up at 5am to finish out our first week of boot camp. So, it'll be an early night for sure. Yes, we're insane for that boot camp idea, I know. Have a good night, everyone!

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Rash of Hate Crimes

Maybe it's just me, but has anyone else noticed a rash of anti-gay hate crimes lately? Here're the stories I've read about in just the last week or so:

A 21-year-old male in New Jersey was beaten up for "wearing pink pants." The police believe it was an anti-gay assault.

A 72-year-old man was beaten by another man who yelled anti-gay slurs at the openly gay victim. The victim later died from his injuries (this occured about 2 weeks ago).

Police arrested a 24-year-old UMass student for assaulting a gay peer while yelling homophobic remarks at him.

In Santa Cruz, CA, a man was beaten by 3 men that yelled homophobic remarks at him during the assault. The attackers first became upset when the gay man inadvertantly cut them off in traffic.

An employee of Mercedes Benz and AutoNation allegedly attacked a man at the dealership and used discriminatory language about his sexual orientation during the assualt.

Ok, so that's all in just the week or two. Pretty amazing, isn't it?

I got to thinking about this topic because the other day, I read this post from Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin. Jim attended Love Won Out, an ex-gay conference put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus. During one of the meetings an Exodus staffer, Mike Haley, told the crowd that Christians should be the first to stand up and speak out when tragedies like what happened to Matthew Sheppard occur. But, here we are with 5 incidents in the last 2 weeks, and Exodus, Focus on the Family, and others have remained silent. As Jim points out, their words seem a little hollow given the current silence during a period when there seems to be such good opportunity to speak out against anti-gay violence. I guess politics ends up winning over promises and what's right in this case.