July 11, 2008

Wayne Besen on "The 'Pro-Family' Scam"

It's one thing to call out a group as hypocrites. It's another to support it with facts. In his most recent column, Wayne Besen does both as he skewers the "Pro-Family" (read: anti-gay) lobby:

The last few weeks have shown that so-called pro-family organizations are some of the most useless, money-sucking scams in the world. With real families suffering from economic hardship in America, a declining birthrate in Europe and Google doubling the price of daycare for employees, the only thing right wing family groups want to discuss is their bizarre and all-encompassing fagela fetish.

Recently, The Brooklyn Paper, had a huge headline, "SPLITSVILLE: Brooklyn divorces up 30%." The article cited a number of reasons including, "when the economy tanks, so do many marriages."

One would think this would alarm so-called pro-family organizations and they would be out in force repairing marriages -- or at least looking for economic solutions to take the stress off couples. Unfortunately, as I walked around my Brooklyn neighborhood, I saw not one representative from the American Family Association.

Well, I take that back. I did encounter one of the group's representatives on CNN Headline News as we debated a Heinz mayonnaise ad in the United Kingdom that featured two men kissing. I'm sure the children of these broken marriages in Brooklyn will feel much better knowing Heinz pulled the ad and they can have gay-free mayonnaise at both mommy and daddy's separate houses.

A new study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University showed that in 2006, for the first time in U.S. history, a majority of births to women under 30 -- 50.4 percent -- were out of wedlock. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert points out that, "By comparison, when John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, just 6 percent of all births were to unmarried women under 30.

One imagines that this report might have startled "pro-family" organizations and they would have put their millions of dollars towards stopping this trend. No such luck. Instead, they are investing huge piles of money and manpower to pass anti-gay marriage amendments in Florida, Arizona and California. The upshot for "pro-family" groups is that if heterosexuals keep screwing up marriage, by the time gay people finally win the right nationally, we won't want to use it.

If a landlord was spending all of his time and money in court protecting his building from destruction while it fell into disrepair and threatened to fall down on its own, I think most rational people would realize how foolish that approach would be.

Instead of fighting to keep GLBT people out of the institution of marriage, perhaps these anti-gay groups should instead focus their efforts on repairing the part that is already legal.

Click here to read the rest of Wayne Besen's column.

Link of the Day: GPAC-Gender Public Advocacy Coalition


The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed - whether or not they meet expectations for masculinity and femininity.

As a human rights organization, GenderPAC also promotes an understanding of the connection between discrimination based on gender stereotypes and sex, sexual orientation, age, race, and class.

July 10, 2008

MySpace Friend of the Day: Heart of Hope LGBT-Friendly Worship


Formerly MCC of the Hudson Valley, this ministry meets in downtown Albany, NY

Heart of Hope embraces the diversity of God's creationby celebrating our unity in Christ. We value a religious fellowship that is open to all, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sex, class, physical ability, socioeconomic status, family status, HIV status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Friends, partners, families, and those wishing to explore their own spiritual journeys are always welcome.

Calling for a Truce in the Culture War

From the Washington Post's "On Faith" section:

Dear Senators McCain and Obama:

For our entire lives, America has been polarized by an angry culture war over such divisive issues as abortion and gay rights. It has been a fight marked by sincere passion and principles on the one hand, but also by stridency, vituperation, and lack of respect for the opposing sides’ motives and beliefs on the other.

We write to you from two traditionally warring camps, one evangelical and one progressive, joined in one voice and one vision, to offer an olive branch to end the culture wars. This olive branch is not a surrender, but a new approach that allows each of you to maintain your core principles, just as we have maintained ours, and heal a nation that is tired of the fight. This approach is based on common ground and common values.

In the 35-year fight since Roe v. Wade, it seems there are few common values to be found between our opposing sides. But it turns out that nearly all of us agree on the common value that we should reduce the need for abortions in America.

Supporting that common value is the common ground of dramatically reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in this country that lead to abortions. It means together supporting sex education programs that include accurate information about contraception and the importance of abstinence so that fewer unintended pregnancies occur. It means together supporting programs that teach parents how to communicate better with their children about values and programs that give low-income women greater access to contraception. It means that together we can agree that abortion should never be the only option and that young and poor pregnant women should receive support when they feel they need it to carry their pregnancy to term. The truth is that the most effective way to reduce the prevalence of abortions in America is to actually work together rather than to fight.

Gay and lesbian issues, like abortion, have also been tearing the nation apart. Here again, the differences are real and rooted in theological and philosophical differences. But on these issues too we can find a shared common value and shared path forward. That shared value is human dignity. We can all agree that all human beings are created in God’s image and have and deserve an innate human dignity - even those with whom one differs or disagrees. We can all agree that honoring this human dignity is a high moral and religious calling. And we can agree that any laws we create to expand rights must not abridge the religious liberty of religious communities. Common ground means, for example, that, apart from religious institutions, the workplace should judge you at work for the job you do and nothing more. That would be a careful step along America’s journey to fulfill its national ideals, and also to honor our highest moral and religious beliefs.

Senators McCain and Obama, each of you are running as a different kind of candidate, seeking to bring the nation together rather than to split us apart. Each of you has great potential to model a new type of leadership. Each of you has the power to heal the country and carve a new path forward through our shared common values.

We humbly submit our joint prayer that you, Senators McCain and Obama, help bring a just end to the culture wars.

With great respect,

David Gushee, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University.
Rachel Laser, Culture Program Director, Third Way.

Unfortunately, the comments posted show how unlikely that is to be driven by the general population. It will take strong leadership at the highest levels of our nation to change that paradigm. I hope Barack Obama can at least nudge us in a more civil direction.

July 09, 2008

Link of the Day: Gay Bible Christians


Our continued word for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender visitors and members:

Remember always that you are loved by God [John 3:16], JUST as you are, JUST as He created you to be [Psalm 139:13-16] -- and anyone who says differently is trying to put themselves between you and God [Luke 11:46; Acts 15:5-11; Titus 1:10-11] (and you KNOW whose agenda THAT is! [Matthew 16:23; Mark 4:15]). REJECT false teachings and REMOVE yourself from those who witness falsely against Queer or any other people [Matthew 7:15-29; Galatians 5:1-8; 1 John 4:1] and take care of the Queer people around you who need to see the love of Jesus in your face, in your hands, in your words [John 13:34-35]!

Don't let bad Christians keep you from a good God!

Hijacked By Conservatives?

That headline could be appropriate for some major religious denominations in the United States, but the story I'm linking to here is about the Church of England (the Anglicans, the mother church of American Episcopals):

From The Independent (London). Thanks to PageOneQ for the link.

The Church of England had a pretty embarrassing start. For despite the fact that the Pope dubbed him the Defender of the Faith, Henry VIII's libido proved stronger than his commitment to Rome – so he slipstreamed the Reformation in order to warm his bed with a younger, prettier wife. So far, so shoddy. Yet, over time, what was cobbled together proved far greater than such ignominious beginnings might suggest. For the special genius of the Church of England was that it embraced a huge diversity of theological opinion. The idea was that we might be united by common worship rather than divided by doctrinaire argument. So why now, after hundreds of years, does this settlement seem under threat as never before?

The Church of England is fundamentally a theological peace treaty. As the Reformation plunged continental Europe into an ideological bloodbath, with Catholics and Protestants murdering each other by the million, England created a church that made the most remarkable claim for itself: both Catholic and Protestant. Sick of religious warfare, it invented the original big tent philosophy. Those of widely different philosophies could kneel together and worship God through the appropriately named Book of Common Prayer.

It was a pragmatic arrangement that came to shape our national character. The English didn't do doctrinal dispute, we frowned on the public exploration of ideological differences characteristic of those hot-headed Continentals. Instead, we agreed to differ and muddled along. We became the world's natural compromisers.

The conservatives have decided that they can exploit the deep homophobia of many African Christians in order to stage a coup for the soul of the church. Suddenly, we are once again fighting the unresolved battles of the Reformation, with narrow-minded puritans seeking to impose their joyless and claustrophobic world-view on the rest of the church. The newly formed Federation of Confessing Anglicans (Foca) is seeking bridgeheads in wealthy evangelical parishes and the English ecclesiological peace treaty lies in tatters. All eyes now turn to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Is there anything he can do about these Focas?

A traditionally inclusive church like the C of E is especially vulnerable to infiltration by extremists. For the whole point of being inclusive is that all are welcome. It's a natural openness that is currently being exploited by those who have no love in their heart for the very inclusivity that allows them in in the first place. Even more so than the Labour Party in the 1970s, the English church is vulnerable to entryism. If fundamentalist Christianity were allowed to take over the Church of England, it would gain unprecedented access to national government through its role as the established church. The prospect of a state church, determined to convert Muslims, should set off huge flashing red lights in every corridor of power. In America, the separation of church and state creates a firewall between fundamentalist religion and state power. We have no such protection.

While that firewall is not nearly as sturdy as it used to be, the thought of it not being there at all is downright scary.

Click here to read the rest of the column.

July 08, 2008

Right-Wing Coalition Issues "Declaration of American Values"

This 10-point document looks like a typical right-wing (perhaps even far-right) political platform, but to have it attributed to "evangelical leaders" sickens me and gives yet another black eye to evangelicals in general.

Click here for the complete verbage. Here's a summary:

o Help the poor and prevent abortion
o No same-sex marriage
o Freedom of parents to do essentially whatever they see fit in raising their kids
o Freedom for their religion in any and all public venues
o Minimal interference from government regarding issues pertaining to the environment and consumption of natural resources
o Buy guns
o Reign in authority of judges
o Keep military strong, deal with other nations from strength
o No increase in taxes for the rich

While there is a token mention of the poor in the first point, this seems to me as little more than the utterings from a group that believes they have all the answers and don't want any interference while they shape this nation in their image.

You know, like all the stuff Jesus DIDN'T DO during his ministry on Earth. Of course, this type of mentality aims higher than the example of the Son of God.

How twisted and self-absorbed is that?

MySpace Friend of the Day: Keep A Breast (boobies!)


The Keep A Breast Foundation, is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.Our mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support. Through art events, educational programs, and fundraising efforts, we seek to increase breast cancer awareness among young people so they are better equipped to make choices and develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well-being.

Brenda survived a bout with breast cancer last year and, thanks to very early detection, did not require either radiation or chemotherapy. As usually happens when something like that becomes personal, we are big supporters of anyone working to eradicate this deadly disease. If they can do it with a light heart, that's even better--after all, what straight guy doesn't want to fight for boobies?

Climb Up So Kids Can Grow Up

Last week, the American Foundation for Children for AIDS was a "Link of the Day" here. Tanya Weaver, the Executive Director of the organization, contacted me and asked if I would mention their upcoming event, and I am happy to do so.

The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) and the American Alpine Institute are teaming up again to host Climb Up So Kids Can Grow Up. The global climb-a-thon will increase awareness of the pediatric AIDS pandemic and raise funds for life-saving anti-retroviral (ARV) medication, food, and medical and humanitarian supplies to children affected by HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hikers, cyclists, climbers, and runners of all ages and skill levels around the globe will participate in Climb Up So Kids Can Grow Up on September 20 and/or 21, 2008. Participants can climb, hike, run or cycle up the structure of their choice, anywhere in the world.

The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) is a not-for-profit foundation providing medical supplies and aid to children in countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS including Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The sub-Saharan region of Africa is the worst affected by the pediatric AIDS pandemic with more than two million children under the age of 15 living with HIV.

Last year’s climb-a-thon was AFCA’s first and raised over $15,000. “Our goal is to at least double that this year,” said Tanya Weaver, AFCA’s Executive Director. “This year the need is even greater because of the crisis in Kenya, which has made it even more difficult to get medicine and supplies to the children.

“Everyone can ensure that hundreds of children live longer, healthier lives simply by organizing a team wherever you are and climbing up, whether by cycling, running, hiking, or climbing. The important thing is to get the nation and the world moving to help these children.” Weaver noted that all contributions are tax-deductible.

Many leading outdoor and other companies support Climb Up So Kids Can Grow including National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Women’s Adventure Magazine, Skyline Marketing, The River Inn, Chubasco, MadRock, Black Diamond, Petzl, LARABAR, CerconeBrownCurtis and KG Communications.

For more information on registering, forming a team or sponsorship, please go to ClimbUpSoKidsCanGrowUp.com.

July 07, 2008

Would You Get Married If It Meant You Could Go to Jail?

These guys are:

From The Capital Times (Madison, WI):

Every summer, Bob Klebba and David Waugh take a family beach vacation to San Diego. Besides fun and sun, this year's trip will have a little something extra: a wedding.

The two Madison men will be getting married at a San Diego courthouse in August. In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. Since June 17, same-sex couples have been getting married throughout California. Non-residents are allowed to marry there, too.

"What we might be looking for is outside recognition of our relationship -- recognition from society," Klebba said. "This is a way to ask for that recognition. Happily, California is willing to give us that."

Wisconsin, however, is not. Not only will Klebba's and Waugh's marriage not be recognized here, they could be taking a legal risk by entering into it. Wisconsin is a state that imposes criminal penalties on residents if they enter a marriage outside the state that would be prohibited in the state. The law was created to prohibit underage couples from crossing state lines to marry, but it could be interpreted to apply to same-sex marriages, according to Glenn Carlson of Fair Wisconsin, an advocacy group for gays and lesbians. In Wisconsin, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000, nine months in prison, or both.

"It would be interesting to be prosecuted," Klebba said. "It would really bring up a reaction in the public sentiment."

That's not why Klebba and Waugh are getting married, however. They're doing it because of what it means to each other.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

Link of the Day: Atticus Circle


It is time for us to stand up and stand with our gay and lesbian friends who are being systematically denied the most basic rights and recognition – the very things we, in the heterosexual world, take for granted day after day.

It is time for all children, regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, to share the same rights and protections.

And it is time for our country to acknowledge that the right to love a partner, be a parent and build a family is a fundamental, equal right for each and every one of us.

Today we need your help to win this “civil rights battle rooted in love.” We need you to add your voice to the growing number of our friends who say, “This just isn’t right.” We invite you to come into the Atticus Circle and stand with others who say, “I’m ready. What can I do?

This organization also sponsors the cross-country event "Seven Straight Nights '08" Click here to visit that website and learn more about this year's event.

Three Simple Rules.....

Bill Browning, the editor of The Bilerico Project, came up with 3 Simple Rules for Politicians in communicating to the GLBT community, and I share them with you because I think they are equally appropriate for anyone speaking to the GLBT community in general or one specific individual.

Rule #1 - Acknowledge Your Audience

Rule #2 - Don't Look Like a Pandering Fool

Rule #3 - Know the Lingo

Click here to read Bill's essay.