August 11, 2007

GLBT People Are Not Issues, They Are Human Beings

That's the point eloquently stated by Joan Garry, the former long-time director of GLAAD, in this column on the Huffington Post.

It's unusual when a line from a play or film sticks with you but I think we all carry a handful of them around with us. I've been thinking about one in particular recently -- from the Bernard Pomerance play, The Elephant Man. In a painful wail, John Merrick begs for those around him to see, understand and accept his humanity. "I am not an animal -- I am a human being."

Throughout this presidential nominations process, I have come to see that I too have something to wail. "I am not an issue -- I am a human being.

The leading Democratic candidates know the drill too. They've got an entire inventory of 'real moments' and use them often to emphasize their policy point. There are names, there are faces. But gay and lesbian Americans do not have names or faces in stump speeches, debates or interviews. We are referenced only in the abstract.

Have you ever heard Hillary, Barack or John mention a name of anyone they know or have met who is gay or lesbian? Has John Edwards ever used his "Two Americas" paradigm to assess gay vs. straight America? Has Barack ever told a story about meeting with a lesbian couple (using real names) who want the right to marry and then make a direct correlation with his own parents' struggle as an interracial couple? Has Hillary ever talked about how she would feel if Chelsea's significant other was not Mark but Martha?

OK, I know. For these candidates, I am seen as a hot potato. I am a political football. I am a vote the Democrats can take for granted. I am a wedge. I am a potential liability. And I am not naïve. I understand the nature of politics and the realities of the political landscape. I recognize that I am all of the things listed above.

But I am not abstract -- I am real. For decades, the gay rights movement has worked to be visible, to be out, to be real -- recognizing that the opposition's strategy is all about abstraction. It's troubling to see our own candidates feeding right into that.

GLBT advocacy is the most effective when the issues are represented by a human face. Until our political leaders take that approach, GLBT equality in the laws of our nation will continue to be an uphill struggle won in small increments.

August 10, 2007

Welcome to the 14th Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities

I am pleased and honored to host the 14th Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities.

We are ALL living with HIV/AIDS. This is a carnival about living with HIV/AIDS and how HIV/AIDS has affected your life. This site assumes that HIV/AIDS is caused by a variety of HIV viruses, either wild strains or those generated from drug resistance, and is not a forum for those who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS. Your stories of life with HIV/AIDS, including your survival strategies, your medication issues, your friends or loved ones with HIV/AIDS, your efforts for the cause, in fact, anything to do with how you live positively will be accepted.

Here at Straight, Not Narrow, I write about issues that affect the GLBT community. As you can probably tell from the title of this blog, I am not gay myself, but my wife Pastor Brenda and I are deeply involved in mistering to GLBT people at our church, Believers Covenant Fellowship.
Brenda has been at it for about 20 years and introduced me to that ministry in 2004. We also work together on an Internet ministry project called the Affirming Christian Network, where we are gathering together different voices to speak to the GLBT community, both Christians and those who are seeking.

I ran across Ron Hudson's blog last year and, from that, learned about the ICP. We began corresponding on a regular basis, then I contacted him a while back asking for the opportunity to host an edition, which he was kind enough to allow me to do. I wanted to do this as a natural extension of a key princple of this blog--education. I believe many people who support homophobic practices in society and their churches do so more because of what they don't understand than because of what they think they do know. Education is one of the primary weapons against homophobia as it is against HIV/AIDS.

As you will see from the contributions to this, the 14th Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities, HIV/AIDS is a major global problem. There are numerous entries describing the horrible crisis over in Africa. Although the efforts of medical aid and prevention are still woefully short of where they need to be, there are still stories of hope and success on that continent, and you'll see some of those right here.

As is appropriate for such a far-reaching disease, the entries to the ICP come from people in different nations with different backgrounds that represent the diversity of the population affected by HIV/AIDS. I learned a lot about the world-wide impact of this disease from reading and watching the various contributions as I posted them here, and I'm sure you will too.

I would like to dedicate this edition of the ICP to the memories of those we know who succumbed to the disease and to the hope of those who currently deal with it every day of their lives.

The 15th Edition of the ICP will be hosted by Living Mindfully With HIV on September 10, 2007. You can visit the ICP homepage to see the schedule and hosts of future ICPs.

Karen Halls presents Alcoholism Signs - 15 Telltale Symptoms You Need to Know posted at Addiction Recovery Blog.

There are some very important and commonly occurring alcoholism signs that you should be well aware of if you think you or someone near to you might be having a problem with alcohol. Keep in mind that even if one of these alcoholism signs is present only one you or someone you love may be afflicted with and suffering from the disease of alcoholism.

Sokari presents thoughts that stop you from sleeping posted at Black Looks.

On Friday morning I received an email from a friend in Joburg – since I had left at the end of April she had lost three members of her family to AIDS. AIDs is another form of violence. 58% of people living with HIV in SA are women. Many of these women are positive because they were raped or because they had no power to refuse to have sex without a condom. They had no power to refuse their husbands or partners – refusing could lead to further violence – a kick, a punch, a stab, or a bunch or kicks, punches and stabs and being permanently disfigured, maimed or dead.

Dragonette presents The revolution will not be televised posted at NotPerfectAtAll.

Instead of focusing on isolating HIV people and insinuating our seperation from society, in a way that no other - infectious or not - sickness was isolated in the modern era, we should be getting a narrative that emphasizes that we are the very fabric of society, and we are not going anywhere because a virus has entered our bloodstream, whether it happened in a mass orgy or in a blood transfusion is completely irrelevant, what is insanely relevant is the enforcement of abstinence, the lack of affordable medication and treatment, and the lack of acceptance of the fact that poz people are part of society, just like people with cancer, Parkinson's or gingivitis are.

Dragonnette also presents No one........ posted at NotPerfectAtAll.

I am alone in a hospital bed in a dark room on the second floor of a huge hospital, I have HIV, the sun is shining outside, people are crowding the streets, and my life is gone, I am nothing, I disappear into a dot, I might even fall asleep, and then my dad enters. He opens the curtain and bends over and hugs me while I am curled in that bed, I cannot remember my dad hugging me in a bed, not even when I was little, I cannot remember my dad hugging me while I cried. One second I am a woman, going about my business in the big wide world, the next I am this, I have slipped back to a time I can't even remember.I am so thankful he is there.

Joe of Joe.My.God presents 20 Years Of ACT-UP In Photos posted at Joe. My. God.

A photographic retrospective of the work of Chuck Stollard covering the 20 years of ACT-UP's Los Angeles chapter will run June 16th -July 21st at LA's Drkrm Gallery:

Brian D. Morgan presents video from his presentation at the SC STD/HIV 2007 Convention posted at Brian "A little guy with a BIG heart!".

Jeannette Clariond presents Demarcation: Welcoming Guest Poet Jeannette Clariond of Mexico posted at 2sides2ron.

Jeannette L. Clariond is a poet and translator from Chihuahua, México. She holds a degree in Philosophy, and Masters Degrees in Spanish Literature, Methodology of Science and Master of Arts. When I thanked her for this contribution to the International Carnival of Pozitivities, Ms. Clariond wrote,"...poetry lives because it believes in suffering with others."

Farid de la Ossa presents Guest Artist: Farid de la Ossa of Colombia posted at 2sides2ron.

My name is Farid De La Ossa. I am a 31 year old Colombian artist living in the US who was diagnosed with HIV 4 months ago. The name of this piece is "Pansexuality" and it is based on the opportunity I have had to get to know transgenders and people dealing with different kinds of gender combinations of relationships in my stay in San Francisco (US).

Philip Javellana presents The NPF Newsbag: We're Going to Sydney! posted at The NPF Newsbag.

From July 17-25, NPF staff will be in Sydney, Australia conducting a training session for 50 international journalists on how to cover HIV/AIDS. We're working in collaboration with the International AIDS Society's 4th International Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.

Philip Javellana also presents Sydney 2007 Day 1: Living with HIV/AIDS posted at The NPF Newsbag.

For a look at the human side of the HIV epidemic, we worked with a local group, People Living with HIV/AIDS New South Wales, to bring in two men who have been living with the virus for the past 20 plus years. Peter Schlosser (left) and Tim Alderton are two Sydney natives who have lived through the history of the epidemic since the beginning. They shared their stories with us and took questions from the journalists.

Brian Finch presents July 13/07 How do I tell a thousand stories in one post? posted at

With Frank translating I had a great conversation with these women. Let me put this into context, all of these women have been shunned in their communities, some have been living on the streets and had only street side vendors to make a few scraps of money. They feel rejected and only just begun to find each other for a source of support. Also, anti-retrovirals have only been widely available for three years.
For them it is amazing to talk to both of us openly. As we spoke about our lives these women completely opened up. We shared what it was like in Canada and in Rwanda the experiences of people living with HIV, being single and having the right to be in relationships and be married if we want to.

ACT UP Paris presents Act Up-Paris Abbott Blockade against Thailand : people with HIV/AIDS invite CEO to crisis resolution meeting posted at ACT UP Paris.

Today July 13 2007, The Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS and Act Up-Paris have invited Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White to a conciliation meeting with a representative of the Thai government, during the International AIDS Conference in Sydney, on July 23 2007. This meeting aims to offer the drug company an opportunity to get out of the crisis in which it has dug itself since announcing a blockade of lifesaving medicines against the Thais, followed by a lawsuit against people with HIV for organizing an internet protest.

Page Bomar and Dr. Dave Wessner presents Microbicides: Empowering women posted at The AIDS Pandemic.

Current global AIDS statistics are staggering, to say the least. Approximately 40 million people worldwide are living with the disease, while 14,000 new infections occur each day. Women make up almost 50% of adult infections, but this figure is higher in sub-Saharan Africa, where women are 30% more likely to be HIV-positive than men.

Brian at Blogswana presents Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongwe posted at Blogswana.

Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongwe A person becomes human through his or her interaction with other people. In this month’s Vanity Fair Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains this same concept which he refers to as ubuntu.
Ubuntu is the essence of being human. And in our language a person is ubuntu, and ubuntu is a noun to speak about what it means to be human. We say a person is a person through other persons. You can’t be human in isolation. You are human only in relationships.

James Wortz presents Mindful Eating posted at LIVING MINDFULLY WITH HIV.

When we are mindful, we recognize what we are picking up. When we put it into our mouth, we know what we are putting into our mouth. When we chew it, we know what we are chewing. It's very simple.
Some of us, while looking at a piece of carrot, can see the whole cosmos in it, can see the sunshine in it, can see the earth in it. It has come from the whole cosmos for our nourishment.
You may like to smile to it before you put it in your mouth. When you chew it, you are aware that you are chewing a piece of carrot. Don't put anything else into your mouth, like your projects, your worries, your fear, just put the carrot in.
And when you chew, chew only the carrot, not your projects or your ideas. You are capable of living in the present moment, in the here and the now. It is simple, but you need some training to just enjoy the piece of carrot. This is a miracle.

Lorenzo presents barebacking is for haters? posted at god is brown.

As a (not so young anymore) Queer Xicano I have spent the last 10 years looking for my ancestors, many lost because of HIV/AIDS. I have dedicated myself professionally, artistically, academically and personally to supporting a movement to create a world free from such atrocities. Not a day goes by that I do not remember that through my veins flows the same virus that flowed through the veins of my ancestors. I must confess, however, that I am disappointed and saddened by some of the ways that we’re going about things.

Melody and Martha present Keeping medical records is the responsibility of the patient posted at The Nata village blog.

Gloria's record reflects her commitment to her treatment. Shehas pasted information about how AIDS can be transmitted and the importance of using a condom. This is just another way in which Gloria lives openly with this disease and at the same time educates others.

Giles Crouch presents Polygamy; Best Friend of HIV posted at Slimconomy.

But what is relevant to HIV is the concept of Polygamy. I've spoken of the cultural issues in South Africa, and many other parts of Africa related to men who have a wife and one or more mistresses, even a male partner in another Township nearby. In Western Africa however, it is more Polygamy, driven largely by the mix of Christianity and Animism in this part of the country. In Northern and Northeastern Africa, Islam has taken hold, which does not permit Polygamy. As a result, we do see somewhat less HIV/AIDS in this region, and much more in Western Africa

Jill Kingslea presents YouTube - Grassroots responses to HIV/AIDS, Swaziland posted at YouTube.

In Southern Africa, Swaziland is a nation of one million people. It is also home to the highest rates of HIV in the world. More than 42% of pregnant women test positive for the disease.

Warrior Scout presents dance hall days posted at kickin tina.

This passage defines precisely the message i hope to begin to leave as a gift for the gay men to follow me. come out- be who you are- but before you start the party and celebrate your sexuality and freedom, take the time to heal the wounds and scars you bring from all those years of deception, lies, and character assassinations. shine a light on them. don't hide them. this will hopefully help you lead a healthier and happier life.

therapydoc presents Can You Cry Too Many Tears? posted at Everyone Needs Therapy.

Sometimes it helps to look over your life and find the things that you forgot to cry for or weren't mature enough to cry for or had been taught that you shouldn't cry for, but you should have cried for when they happened. You should have cried at the time but you didn't.

Rich Ferguson presents YouTube - With This Kiss posted at YouTube. You can also check out Rich's home page.

With this kiss
There are revelations tattooed upon our lips
Revelations more easily read
On account of this silent pact with recognition
Where I'm beginning to see that we are slowly becoming healed

And this is not some medicine show down by the river
I'm not faking it, mistaking it, trying to rake in the bucks
From selling you some snake-oil of unfortified conviction

Just listen

Kh. Zahir Hossain presents Facing the Challenges of HIV/AIDS posted at 2sides2ron.

AIDS is no longer a problem of medication. It is a problem of development. It is not just an individual hardship. It also threatens to decimate the future prospects of poor countries, wiping away years of hard-won improvements in development indicators. As a result of the disease, many poor countries are witnessing a worsening in child survival rates, reduced life expectancy, crumbling and over-burdened health care systems, the breakdown of family structures and the decimation of a generation in the prime of their working lives.

Eric Seiwald presents Caring For the Whole Person posted at Fight AIDS. You can also check out his other site, Stop World Aids.

If you could go back in time to 1995, snatch a person with HIV or AIDS off the street and fast-foward him/her to 2007, he/she would be absolutely astonished at the changes that have taken place.

There's one thing our visitor form 1995 would recognize: most people with HIV focus on the virus as if it were the only health issue they need to care about. It's time for that to change! It's time for people with HIV to realize that the virus is only one part of their total health picture. It's time for people with HIV to start caring for the whole person.

Warrior Scout presents your gift is my song posted at kickin tina.

i have been working as a client advocate for persons living with hiv for two years now. it has been an eye-opening experience to say the least. more importantly is the heart opening that has been taking place in me the last two years as well. i have become aware of so many issues and details and circumstances in peoples lives that i previously was completely blind to. this is my song. and my song is knowing you.

Ron Hudson presents Your old prescription glasses are needed posted at 2sides2ron.

I found this heartbreaking post on the Nata Village Blog of Botswana recently and contacted Melody Jenkins of the group that publishes the blog. She and I discussed the need for prescription glasses (including sunglasses) for the elderly in her village and I decided to send out an appeal to you to donate any old prescription glasses that you might have around your home for these beautiful people.

Dianne M. Buxton presents Healthy Office Space Workouts posted at manifestingsuccess.

Highlighting the need for physical exercise as part of the holistic approach to healing, especially for long term survivors who tend to become sedentary and have need for muscle tone.

ANT presents CARE4U posted at The ANT Colony.

This pretty much sums it up. A little eye candy and some education. At the party Robert Gant, Thea Gill, Michele Clunie, Wilson Cruz, Daryl Stephens, and a ton of other stars. (That's Thea Gill and Michele Clunie from Queer as Folk who run up to me on the dance floor!)

August 09, 2007

Thoughts on the HRC/LOGO Democratic Presidential Debate

You can watch replays of each candidate's appearance right here.

I loved the idea of the candidates appearing one at a time. These “debates,” especially the ones with several candidates, often turn into free-for-alls where people are talking over one another. This format gives each candidate an opportunity to state their case, eloquently or not, without having to fight for time against other candidates.

Obama proposed a robust civil union concept, but really didn’t explain why a different title was needed. Despite his protests to the contrary, it still came across as “separate but equal,” particularly ironic for an African-American to propose.

He did a good job of putting homophobia in the black community in perspective, pointing out much more serious issues they needed to worry about.

He slipped the question of comparing the 1960’s civil rights struggle to the current GLBT civil rights issues.

Overall: I went into this thinking that Obama was a good person but lacked enough depth and experience to be an effective, and nothing he said here changed my mind.

Edwards was very strong on equal coverage in health insurance, same-sex couple adoption, employment non-discrimination laws, don’t ask, don’t tell, and DOMA.

I personally enjoyed how he took out Ann Coulter, saying she plays to “the lowest common denominator” of people.

He said candidates should “speak out with strength and passion, not quietly and carefully.” Oh, if only someone would.

He backtracked somewhat on his anti-same-sex marriage comments, saying “I shouldn’t have said that,” but would not answer Joe Solmonese’s questions about what in his faith had him stop short of endorsing it.

Overall: Edwards came out strong in almost all areas of GLBT equality, much stronger than Obama, but still won’t budge on same-sex marriage. His views would be a huge step forward toward equality, but would stop short.

Kucinich gets perfect marks for his views on GLBT equality. He implied that he was a member of the HRC.

Melissa Etheridge fawned over him, pointing out how our nation needed a leader who would take a stand on issues just because it was right thing to do. She’s absolutely correct, but I feel compelled to point out that it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re polling around 1% of the vote. There’s not a lot to lose at that point.

Overall: Kucinich said, and I suspect truly believes, all the right things for his audience. Nice to hear, but ultimately irrelevant. At 1%, he can't make enough noise to force the leading candidates to respond to his lead.

Ravel has been playing somewhat of the curmudgeon role in previous debates and started out by pointing out that he had originally been left out of this debate until pressure was put on the HRC to allow him in, especially since he directly supports same-sex marriage.

He complained that the GLBT community is not supporting himself or Kucinich since they are the two candidates most strongly supporting their issues. Seems like a cheap shot to me since neither one of them have any chance of being elected, and most GLBT voters realize that.

Pastor Brenda points out that “in this country, you can’t be president unless you can play politics, and these guys (Kucinich and Ravel) would get eaten alive.”

He wants us to have drugs. Sounds like we could turn prisons into rehab facilities if he had his way.

Overall: Are you kidding? This guy makes Kucinich look like a front runner.

Richardson started out with “The nation is on a path toward full equality. It is the responsibility of a president to lead that effort.” He then talked up civil unions instead of marriage.

He is the first candidate to bring up hate crimes. How did we go over an hour into a presidential Q & A without that coming up?

He has had to spend some time on the defensive, the first candidate so far that had to do so. He tried to divert attention onto larger international issues and his recent track record as New Mexico governor, but he still sounded very defensive.

He whiffed badly on the question of whether he would sign a bill for same-sex marriage as governor, saying domestic partnerships are the same thing. Governor Richardson, they are NOT the same thing.

The camera showed some VERY negative body language from Melissa Etheridge and some glares from the studio audience.

He instinctively answered Ethridge’s question “do you think homosexuality is a choice or are you born that way?” with “a choice.” When she restated the question, he bobbed and weaved away from answering it.

Overall: Richardson would have fared better if he had stayed home. This was painful to watch.

I wasn’t impressed with Clinton’s answer about why she didn’t introduce legislation to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Although correct in saying they could not have gotten it through a Republican congress, I thought she spent too much time justifying her husband’s support of the law when it was first passed. Mike Rogers said it best in a column on The Huffington Post:
Lip service is good, but until one of the sitting US Senators running for president actually introduces a bill to repeal DADT I don't really want to hear it from them.

I’m glad that Solmonese followed up on her “leave it up to the states” line. She spoke strongly and eloquently against the Marriage Protection Act, but kept getting bogged down in policy detail. I also don’t feel that she made a good case for the old state’s rights line. I doubt she reduced Solmonese’s frustration about it, and I know she didn’t diminish mine.

Kudos to Melissa Ethridge for saying during the Clinton administration “our hearts were broken after all the promises made.” Senator Clinton was gracious in how she responded, but didn’t offer much of substance.

She did a good job in explaining her mistake in initially waffling on the question of the immorality after the bigoted remarks made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She also made one definitive statement when asked “would you put someone on the bench who was anti-gay?” Her response was an emphatic, unqualified “No!” She also said during her closing remarks that she would fight for hate crimes legislation.

Overall: Senator Clinton showed again that she is a polished politician and very much middle-of-the-road regarding GLBT rights. Don’t expect rapid movement toward GLBT equality from a Clinton presidency. Instead, there would be the potential of slow, gradual progress.


I doubt anything here moved the needle much one way for another, except maybe to hurt Richardson. Despite that, I believe this event lived up to the hype. Despite some fawning over the candidates for merely showing up, there were some hard hitting questions and positions were communicated more clearly than they normally are in the more standard form debate. I’m glad they had this event, and I’m glad they watched it.

I won’t hold my breath for the Republican party to follow suit.

Larry King Devoting Show to Transgenders

On Friday's Larry King Show (9 PM Eastern time), the topic will be transgenders:

Men who go under the knife to become women, women who become men. Inside the world of transgender people.

If you click here to go to the show's webpage, you'll find a link where you can e-mail in a question for Larry to ask his guests.

August 07, 2007

Impact of LOGO Debate--Bigger Than One Might Think?

That's the opinion of John D'Emilio, a historian of gay history and professor at the University of Illinios. He was interviewed by MSNBC in their leadup to the debate:

Q: Only about four percent of the voting population is gay. Is the focus of a “gay debate” too narrow?

A: Well, four percent self-identified as gay or lesbian or bisexual. There are two points to make about that. First, there are still people who won’t self-identify, so the figure is probably a little bigger—maybe six percent. And we know that the six percent is not equally distributed around the country. Urban areas are more likely to have a higher percentage than rural ones. You’re going to have larger populations in the state of Massachusetts than you’re going to have in North Dakota. So in some states this forum might make a bigger difference than in others.

But second, I think same-sex marriage these days, and AIDS earlier in the ‘80s and ‘90s, demonstrated that lots of people have really strong feelings about gay issues. When you’re having a debate where the candidates are addressing these issues, there’s this four or five percent that are really concerned about it, but there’s also the larger population that finds it relevant. Some are concerned about it because they have family members who are gay; some are concerned because they’re religious and their religions say it’s wrong. I have no idea what the TV audience will be for this. The audience might not be large, but once it starts to circulate online and in the media, people will hear what the candidates were saying, and it will be relevant to a lot of people.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

While I'm not going to do a play by play on the debate, I do plan to have some comments posted shortly after its over Thursday night.

Another Self-Loathing Gay Politican

Florida state representative Bob Allen has been charged with soliciting a male undercover policeman and lamely claims it happened because he was scared.

In a taped statement and other documents released last week, Allen, 48, told police that he was intimidated into offering sex.

"I certainly wasn't there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn't there to exchange money for it," the Sentinel quoted him as saying.

Rather, he said, "this was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park," Allen said. He said he feared he "was about to be a statistic."

Titusville police told the Sentinel that they were investigating a nearby condo burglary when they saw a disheveled, unshaved man enter and leave the park restroom three times. They decided to send in Officer Danny Kavanaugh.

In a statement Kavanaugh said he was drying his hands in a stall when Allen peered—twice—over the stall door, then joined Kavanaugh inside.

"This is kind of a public place, isn't it?" Kavanaugh quoted Allen as saying, according to the Sentinel. Allen then suggested "going across the bridge; it's quieter over there."

Yeah, that's just what I would do. If I was intimidated because I was surrounded by large African-American men, the first thing I would do is offer to have sex with them. What straight man wouldn't do that?

It's one thing for someone to do something stupid, but it's even worse when he comes up with some pitiful excuse and insults everyone's intelligence in the process.

Of course, it goes without saying that he had a strong anti-gay record in the Florida legislature.

I pity someone like Rep. Allen who apparently can't be honest about, or with, themselves, but I feel even sorrier for the people he is supposed to represent.

Especially if they happen to be gay.

August 06, 2007

The Winner in Thursday Night's Debate? The GLBT Community

This article on The Huffington Post points out that what is said during Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate on the LOGO network is not nearly as important as the fact that all the candidates will be there saying it.

What's important about the Human Rights Campaign-sponsored debate is its mere occurrence. If the Dems are confident enough to tackle gay issues head-on for a full hour, it means they're no longer worried that the Republicans will throw it back in their faces. They're not afraid, and more importantly, they're betting voters aren't afraid either.

During the 2004 presidential elections George Bush was able to make a lot of headway by scaring moderate voters with the twin specters of activist judges and the impending doom of traditional marriage. The Massachusetts Supreme Court gay marriage ruling had just been handed down, and Bush, eyeing re-election, called it "arbitrary" and "undermining" to families. Nobody knew what might happen if gay partnerships were made legal -- and Republicans worked to make this unknown quantity as frightening as possible.

As real-life experiments with equal gay rights are carried out federally and locally all over the world, the GOP can no longer count on the issue to scare voters to the ballot box. It may be that the long-term results in those places are not what gay activists would hope for, but in the short term, growing familiarity with the issue is working in their favor. The Democratic presidential candidates, sensing this change, have come out of their shells to talk about the issue openly and comfortably. It will no longer be an ignored plank in their broad platforms, as it was in 2004 when John Kerry rarely addressed his support of civil unions until after Bush suggested a federal amendment banning same sex marriage.

This time around, the Democratic candidates have already been more vocal about their positions. During Thursday's HRC debate, nobody is likely to say anything shocking or new. But for supporters of gay rights and marriage equality, merely having a debate says it all.

Even four years ago, having this debate would have seemed farfetched. For people waiting year after year to gain equal rights, I understand why that may not seem like a big deal, but it is.

August 05, 2007

Verbally Abusing Gay People Un-American

If that sounds a bit extreme, check out this excerpt from an op-ed in the Kansas City Star:

People who direct this word disparagingly at someone else do so because they feel superior to that person. Whether it comes from their sense of morality, masculinity or some other reason, those who call other people “fags” feel justified because they believe their rights outweigh those of their victims.

We weren’t causing a disturbance. We weren’t breaking any laws. We were simply waiting to cross a street. Still, this stranger felt it was OK to verbally abuse us.

This smug supremacy over other people’s rights is evident in more than just calling someone a name. It’s noticeable in ongoing efforts to prevent gender and sexual orientation from being added as covered categories in the federal hate-crimes law, in discussions over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt and raise children, in limiting marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, and in allowing workplaces to dismiss employees because of their sexual orientation.

When America allows someone’s personal beliefs to reign over another’s, we have handcuffed our nation’s ability to grant freedoms.

Instead, we’re limiting them. Whether it’s the freedom to walk a sidewalk without fear of ridicule or the freedom to have you and your partner’s love legally recognized, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we as a nation must live up to the pledge to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as written in our Constitution.

So the next time you consider the use of the three-letter f-word, remember that it’s more than just a word. It’s a reminder that some people think their rights cancel out someone else’s.

Thanks to PageOneQ for the tip.