February 17, 2007

The 8th Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitives

This from Ron Hudson, who writes the 2sides2ron blog:

The ICP is a blog carnival for people who are vitally interested in HIV/AIDS, either because they are infected or they are at risk of infection and they want to learn more about the impact of the disease on individuals or society. Others might visit this carnival because they are allies, friends, family, co-workers or caregivers of people living with the disease. In my opinion, this includes all people living on Earth today.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to read the work of the contributors of this edition and that their efforts will encourage you to speak out about HIV/AIDS in your sphere of influence. Stigma about HIV/AIDS is one of the most detrimental issues facing all of us. By making our voices heard, and by speaking frankly about this disease, we can raise awareness and help to demystify the illness.

It's worth your time to check it out.

February 16, 2007

Democrats Pledge to Push Bills That Help Gays

This from the Washington Blade:

Democratic leaders are pledging to push at least two bills this year in Congress that would enact new civil rights and protections for gays.

During the Democratic National Committee’s annual winter meeting Feb. 2 in Washington, party officials said congressional leaders will act this spring to pass a federal hate crimes bill that includes crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

A trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is expected to follow this fall, officials said.

This article also includes comments from party chairman Howard Dean, who has received mixed reviews from the GLBT community. He is showing signs that he wants to change that.

If the Democrats can effect positive change for GLBT people, they will earn a reward at the polls in 2008. It wouldn't be a bad idea to remind your local congressman about how that works.

February 15, 2007

Retired NBA Star "Hates Gay People"

When former NBA player John Amaechi announced he was gay, it was only a matter of time before someone connected with pro basketball said something monumentally stupid.

Tim Hardaway, come on down!

In a radio interview, when asked what he would think of having a gay teammate, former NBA star Tim Hardaway included this in his response:

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

It is hardly shocking that a former pro basketball player is homophobic, but I link that story here to bring the league's response to your attention.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, upon learning of the remarks Wednesday, removed Hardaway from subsequent league-related appearances. "It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," Stern said in a statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Hardaway has been taking part in NBA festivities ahead of Sunday's All-Star Game in Las Vegas and attended an NBA Cares outreach event at a city YMCA with Knicks forward Jerome Williams on Tuesday.

Amaechi responded:

"I will say this about the Tim Hardaway comments and the comments of people like him ... these are the loud comments that pollute the air," Amaechi said. "These are the comments that create the atmosphere that allow some of the tragic incidents of homophobia that we've seen. This is what makes the lives of gay and lesbian young people in schools miserable. It's what stops gay and lesbian people in the workplace from coming out as well as the fact they can be fined in 33 states for being gay. These are part of the problem."

Interestingly, there was quite a bit of discussion on sports talk radio today about homosexuality. While most of the hosts I heard were waaaaaay out of their depth, they were nonetheless making a sincere effort to be understanding and accepting while working over Tim Hardaway for his hateful comments.

This is progress, folks. Before we get too giddy, though, reviewing some of the comments posted on the ESPN story I linked illustrate that there is a long way to go. At least people in the final frontier for GLBT acceptance, men's sports, are talking about it.

February 14, 2007

Understand the Opposition

That is some very sage advice offered in a column in The Minnesota Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Minnesota (the U for those in the Twin Cities).

Progress cannot be made until people are willing to listen to each other. For this year's National Freedom to Marry Day you are all encouraged to divorce your emotions regarding this extraordinarily divisive issue in order to understand the perceived "opposition." For those who support marriage rights for all consenting individuals, try to understand the foundations of the convictions of those who disagree with you and learn how you might dispel those predispositions. For those who would seek to strictly define the legality and the validity of a couple in the name of God or for the sake of "family values," question your convictions and test your faith.

Your values as a spiritual person can only become stronger by testing what you believe. All you need to do is sit down and ask yourself how you can truly serve God and what in your life is truly at risk.

I believe it is a good thing to engage people in discussion who might not agree with your views. Many opponents of GLBT equality do all they can to stiffle such discussion. The only time I'm not comfortable discussing an issue with someone is if I'm not confident that my views will really hold up under scrutiny.

So what are many right-wingers afraid of? In my opinion, they fear being proven wrong, something the GLBT community and its allies are gradually accomplishing.

February 13, 2007

A Different Approach to the Marriage Issue in Washington State

There is a group in the state of Washington that is taking a unique approach to flushing out the reasons people truly oppose same-sex marriage. Since one of the common arguements is that those unions are incapable of naturally producing children, the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance is working to get Initiative 957 on the ballot for the next election.

Initiative 957 would:

o add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
o require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
o require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized;”
o establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
o make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits

Sound extreme? Of course. There is a method to their maddness which is detailed in this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

February 12, 2007

"Toward Gay Marriage"

That's the title of an op-ed piece in the Rutland (VT) Herald. Here are a couple of highlights:

Freedom-to-marry advocates have launched an effort to persuade the Vermont Legislature to approve a bill allowing for gay marriage. Passage of a gay marriage bill will not happen overnight, but it is a cause worth supporting.

Action on the issue is not compelled this time by a court decision, and it does not need to begin tomorrow. Rather, action is compelled by our understanding of the meaning of equality. It is time to take another look at the issue.

It's that kind of balanced, well reasoned approach that just drives opponents of equality crazy.


February 11, 2007

Gay Recruiting?

This came from an article written by Sarah Posner for the American Prospect:

Last fall, while doing some reporting in northeastern Kentucky, I was talking to two local activists (registered Democrats, no less!) about why they were trying to shut down anti-bullying training at the public high school. Their gripe? By teaching that homosexuality is normal, and that students shouldn't harass their classmates because they’re gay, the training sought to recruit students into being gay. "You know," said one of the activists, "homosexuality cannot be reproduced, because two homosexuals can’t bear children. So they have to recruit people into their organizations."

The writer points out that it is this type of mentality that allows people to believe the recent declaration that Ted Haggard is now "completely heterosexual." There are those that want to believe that Haggard and others can be enticed into the "homosexual lifestyle" by gay men that are apparently lurking around street corners (or churches) seeking out straight men to convert them.

It's hard to describe how stupid and far from reality that thought process is, but a section of society historically will do anything to justify the separation and condemnation of people who are different than they are.

Again using history as a guide, this will NEVER be completely eliminated. That's why it is encumbent on those of us who aren't afraid of people who are different and who obey God's most important commandment, to love, to step up and work on opening minds and hearts toward acceptance of GLBT people as our brothers and sisters.