February 24, 2006

"Faith-Based" Federal Funding

Fellow blogger "A Typical Joe" gave me a heads up on this post at Daily Kos regarding the Bush administration's policy of releasing funds, including a new $500 million pot, to "faith-based" organizations. This latest grant, according to the story, is target toward "strengthening marriages."

By marriages, of course, they mean "traditional marriage" between a man and a woman. Don't even think about using any of it to support same-sex marriage. Also, the history of previous "faith-based" grants has gone almost exclusively to Christian groups and excluded other non-christian religions.

Folks, this is another step toward a Federal theocracy, and GLBT people are NOT welcome to participate. This article suggests, and "A Typical Joe" concurrs, that other Christian groups should try to get a piece of this pie and attempt to level the playing field. There is certainly solid logic behind that approach, but I strongly disagree with it.

One of my recurring themes on this blog has been, "If it's wrong for the opposition to do something, it doesn't become right when my side does it." I feel the suggestion of going after this federal money would go against that philosophy. If you really believe in the separation of church and state, you need to carry that thought through regarding this issue.

I don't believe churches have ANY right to take taxpayer money for anyting. I could bend that rule to allow a church-sponsored operation, like a day-care center, to accept federal funding, but only if they were subject to the same anti-discriminatory policies that every other organization must follow.

Remember, churches already have an advantage in that they generally don't have to pay federal taxes. Given the political activism of some church organizations, that really grinds my cookies. There are laws limiting the level of political activism churches can have, but they are clearly not being stringently enforced. That's bad enough, but giving some "fundamentalist" group part of my tax money to spread the message of hate and exculsion--NO WAY!

Rather than try to put their hands in the till, I feel the better course of action is to lobby for the abolition of "faith-based" funding altogether. Let churches help people with money they generate, and let the federal government spend my tax money.

February 22, 2006

Bikers Stand Up to Funeral Protesters

I've had to restart this post several times, because it has been very difficult for me to express myself without appearing very judgemental. If it's not right for those I disagree with, then it's not right for me either.

I'm referring to "Rev." Fred Phelps and the members (mostly extended family members according to the AP) who are travelling around the nation acting out at funerals of servicemen killed in duty over in Iraq. They have been active since the 1990's, getting their start at funerals of people who died from aids. Their purpose is to spread their belief that American deaths in Iraq are devine punishment to the United States for harboring homosexuals. That's right, GLBT people, Rev. Phelps blames you for over 1,000 deaths in Iraq. Don't worry, it's not supposed to make sense.

Unfortunately, Phelps and his traveling troupe of protesters, aren't quiet about it. They like to shout out "God Hates Fags," and other messages of encouragement bereaved people just love to hear while mourning their loved one. Apparently their pain is acceptable collateral damage in the group's war against gays.

Another group called the Patriot Guard riders has banded together in an attempt to offset the pain Phelps' followers inflict on others, meeting them at funerals to shout patriotic chants and wave flags. That's still a lot of commotion at a funeral, but at least they're offering a balance.

Here's the thoughts of Phelps' daughter regarding their actions; "The scriptures are crystal clear that when God sets out to punish a nation, it is with the sword. An IED is just a broken-up sword," Phelps-Roper said. "Since that is his weapon of choice, our forum of choice has got to be a dead soldier's funeral."

Conversely, here are comments from Don Woodrick, the Kentucky captain of the Patriot Guard Riders; "The most important thing we can do is let families know that the nation cares."

Which one sounds more God-like to you?

February 20, 2006

Rally in Maryland Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, I participated in my first political rally at the Maryland State House in Annapolis. I was part of a group of at least several hundred people who rallied against the proposed state constitutional amendment that would make same-sex marriage illegal. Here is the summary from the Washington Blade:


It was a wonderful experience being part of this group. I benefited from the opportunity to join members of my district in discusbsing the issue with our delegates and state senator. It was a very cordial meeting since all of the representatives are strongly opposed to this amendment, but it was still good to be part of the process.

The most interesting part to me was afterwards while I was waiting for the shuttle to go back to my car. I struck up a conversation with several gay men who participated in my district meeting. We just stood outside and discussed our different perspectives on issues that affected the GLBT community.

We should do that more often. We all would learn something.