January 16, 2010

Transphobia in the Mainstream Media

From The Bilerico Project::

It seems like all too often when you tune your radio or television to mainstream news and talk shows these days, there's good reason to be at minimum pretty annoyed, and sometimes even genuinely pissed off and angry if you're a transgender person or ally. Despite decades of progress made in the area of LGBT acceptance and representation in mainstream media, the problem of transphobia in mainstream media remains pervasive and seemingly virtually unchecked in some quarters, even in media specifically directed toward politically progressive and left-leaning audiences.

While there are probably few on either the left or the right who'd find it unusual for pundits and their guests on Fox News or similar media to enthusiastically bash transgender and gender-variant people, it amazes me how this kind of thing is all but completely ignored by just about everyone when it happens on a show popularly considered to be liberal and/or left-wing.

Let's take "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" as an example. On a broadcast last year that took place shortly after the incident, Keith's guest, author and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, was humorously bashing Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean for her negative response to pageant judge Perez Hilton when asked if she supported same-sex marriage. Toward the end of the segment, Musto jokingly offered that in addition to her breast enhancements, the Miss USA pageant officials also paid for Prejean to "cut off her penis, sand her Adam's apple, and get a head-to-toe waxing," along with other transphobic insults. Olbermann's reaction, as far as I could tell, was to simply chuckle right along along with Musto's transphobic jokes.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Encouraging Words 1/16/10-Appearance on GayTalk Live

Last Saturday, I (Jim) had the pleasure of appearing on the GayTalk Live Internet radio broadcast hosted by Tom Cunha.  He gave me the opportunity to talk a lot about what the Straight, Not Narrow blog and ministry is all about, and we also touched on several of the important issues you've seen address in the blog.

The program runs about 90 minutes, which is an awful lot of me, but if you want to understand what we are doing here, you'll find out if you listen.


Encouraging Music 1/16/10 "I Believe in a Hill Called Mt. Calvary" by The Heritage Singers

Justice Department Intervenes in Gay High School Student's Lawsuit

From NPR (hat tip to Twitter account CommonComrades):

For the first time in a decade, Justice Department lawyers have moved to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of a gay high school student who was beaten up for being effeminate.

The case marks a novel interpretation of the Title IX statute, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of gender.

Gay and lesbian groups see it as a bold statement about the Obama administration's priorities.

The case centers around a 15-year-old named Jacob who lives in the town of Mohawk in upstate New York. His family requested that Jacob be identified only by his first name.

"He is one of the greatest, loving, timid kids you could meet," says Jacob's father, Robbie Sullivan, who does not share his son's last name. "I love him to death, and he doesn't give me a bit of problem at all."

Long before Jacob came out of the closet at age 14, he was harassed for being effeminate. According to court papers, kids threw food at him and told him to get a sex change. One student pulled out a knife and threatened to string Jacob up the flagpole. A teacher allegedly told Jacob to "hate himself every day until he changed."

One day, Jacob came home from school limping. That evening, he called his father from a party and said he had sprained his ankle at the party.

Sullivan described taking his son to the hospital: "It was a really bad sprain. They put a cast on it, gave him crutches. And shortly after that, I found out that it didn't happen at the party. It happened at the school, because somebody had pushed him down the stairs."
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 1/16/10 Recognize the Devil's Lies and Claim the Promises of God

From: Love Worth Finding

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

The devil wants you to live your life from an empty cup. He wants you to think that God’s cup of grace has dried up for you. He wants you to be disenchanted with God. Most especially, he wants you to feel that God is a cosmic killjoy…that God is always thinking of ways to rob you of joy and peace. Satan knows that if you start to feel negatively about God, then he can have his way with you in other areas.

Take courage. Be strong. Jesus has won the victory for you! Send those lies back to the pit where they came from and claim the promises of God.

Wish someone the peace and joy of the Lord today.

January 15, 2010

Testimony: Prop 8 Costing Taxpayers

From 365gay.com:

A state ban on gay marriage is costing the city of San Francisco millions of dollars a year in lost revenue and increased services, an economist testified Thursday in a lawsuit aimed at overturning the prohibition.

Chief city economist Edmund Egan said married people accumulate more wealth and have more to spend on property and consumer goods, which bolsters tax revenue.

He also said the city must spend more on health care for uninsured workers because same-sex couples are not always covered under their partner’s employee health care plans.

“It’s clear to me that Proposition 8 has a negative material impact on the city of San Francisco,” he said. “These are impacts that are hard to quantify, but over the long term they can be powerful.”

Egan testified during the fourth day of a federal trial on a lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, the ballot measure approved by statewide voters in 2008.

The city was allowed to join the suit to demonstrate that governments bear some of the costs of the ban.
Just more evidence that banning same-sex marriage is NOT for the greater good of society.  Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Words 1/14/10-"A Closer Walk With God"

From The Epistle:

Since the beginning, man has chased after God seeking spiritual enlightenment, connection and oneness with Him. For many of us, God may seem distant. The only way we know how to reach Him is by calling out our prayers and hoping to appease Him.

Surprisingly, God is very easy to find, but our distracted minds and hearts prevent us from experiencing His presence. Our spiritual connection with Him is limited because of our need to feed ourselves first. We seek God to supplement and improve our lives, not understanding that putting God FIRST is EVERYTHING. When we follow His steps, He brings us closer to Him. We are the ones who stop ourselves from fully experiencing God, because our main concern is for own wellbeing, which most of the time, takes us on paths leading away from Him.

We are unable to graduate from ourselves.

He is not necessarily found on a mountaintop, a temple, or a church. He cannot be found by just reciting prayers, keeping rules or going without, but very simply, God is revealed to the humble, believing heart who desires to know Him and is willing to go with Him wherever He goes.
Even the most faithful of Christians can lose sight of God when we are too busy with our earthly habits. When we focus on our own world, the Kingdom of God fades and we lose sight of Him. Like Peter who was overtaken by his fear of the wind and waves when he tried to walk on the water toward Jesus in Matthew 14:30, we too take our eyes off Jesus and cannot see beyond the waves of life which always overtake us.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Encouraging Music 1/15/10 "Great is Thy Faithfulness"

SNN Recommends (Just For Fun) 1/15/10-I Can Has Cheezburgers

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Testimony Says Gay & Straight Couples "Remarkably Similar"

From the Los Angeles Times (hat tip PageOneQ):

A federal trial on same-sex marriage focused Wednesday on the similarities and differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples, with a psychology professor citing "remarkable similarities."

Letitia Peplau, an expert on couple relationships, testified that studies have found that the quality of heterosexual and homosexual relationships was on average "the same" as measured by closeness, love and stability.

"On average, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are indistinguishable," said Peplau, a UCLA professor of social psychology called by attorneys for two same-sex couples who are trying to overturn Proposition 8, the 2008 voter initiative that reinstated a state ban on same-sex marriage.

Peplau cited a survey of Californians in which 61% of lesbian respondents said they were living with a partner compared with 46% of gay men and 62% of heterosexuals.

Homosexual couples tend to have shorter relationships than married couples, she said, but so do unmarried cohabiting heterosexuals.
Click here to read more of this interesting testimony.

Daily Devotional 1/15/10 For Thou Art With Me

From: Love Worth Finding

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

There’s nothing, my friend, that will bring you more face-to-face with God than going through the dark valleys of life. When you are there, you are going to cling to His garments and hold onto His hand. You won’t stray far from the fold in the dark.

Do you believe that He is with you? The ultimate Sovereign is your loving Savior. You will not have to cross Jordan alone. You will not appear before the judgment of the Holy God alone. You are not going to die alone.

What a joyful promise! You are not alone! Write these words on a card and post it in a place where you can see it all the time:

“I am not alone. God is with me.”

January 14, 2010

A Moving Eulogy for a Transgender Sportswriter

You will seldom find anything written about a transgender person under the ESPN brand, or any sports label for that matter, and when you do it is often some type of snide joke. 

Not this essay from ESPN's Rick Riley, a moving story about the late Mike/Christeine Penner, a fellow sportswriter and also a friend under either name.  Here's an excerpt:

On the same day, in the same town, two sportswriters, two friends of mine, killed themselves.

One was my old hoops buddy Mike Penner, who started at the Los Angeles Times the same year I did. The other was Christine Daniels, a blonde who bubbled from heels to highlights.

Mike was a little quiet, a little reclusive, a lot brilliant. He hated going to locker rooms. He preferred staying home, making mix tapes and writing sentences that were chunks of perfection. He once described then-Angels GM Mike Port's fractured syntax as "Port-uguese."

Christine was the opposite: gregarious, 100 mph talker, always looking to cover an event, to be seen, the Funmeter pegged, the curls bouncing. She was flirty, always lightly grabbing your arm when she talked, covering her mouth when she laughed, which seemed like all the time.
"Mike hasn't bought shoes in six years," Christine told me once. "I've got 50 new pairs!"

What's heartbreaking is that they were the same person.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Encouraging Music 1/14/10 "It Is Well With My Soul" by The Isaacs

If Marriage Is So Special, Then Spread It Around

That's the take from a commentary by Ann Woolner for Bloomberg News via Business Week (hat tip to Tweeter CommonComrades):

However passionate and polarized the gay marriage debate grows, sometimes it is difficult to tell one side from the other.

“Where marriage is honored, and where there is a flourishing marriage culture, everyone benefits -- the spouses themselves, their children, the communities and societies in which they live,” argues one of the groups that filed a friend- of-the-court brief in the gay marriage case on trial in San Francisco.

Sounds to me like an argument for expanding marriage to include same-sex couples.

But I am wrong, very wrong. The quote comes from a brief filed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which opposes same-sex marriage.

The warring sides at least agree that marriage is special.
If only more people would take this approach, seeking commonality instead of focusing on differences.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Daily Devotional 1/14/10 The Lord Ever Present

From: Love Worth Finding

 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

The One who created the valley is there with you! He has prepared the way through the valley. It is not a place of permanence but a place of passage. He knows every twist and turn, every changing shadow, every den where danger lurks — that One is with you! Focus on the light and not the darkness. God has made you to walk through shadows. When the shadow approaches, you must walk through. The One greater than death is in you! He is your Jehovah Shamah — the Lord ever-present. His grace is greater. His peace is purer. His devotion is dearer. Where Satan casts a shadow, our Sovereign Lord reigns supreme. This is a day of hope. Meditate on 1 John 4:4 throughout the day and ask God to give you a divine appointment to share this beloved truth with someone today.

January 13, 2010

New HIV/AIDS Initiative Targets Black Gay Men In DC

From the DC Agenda:

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty joined health officials Tuesday to announce a new D.C. and National Institutes of Health research and treatment initiative aimed at decreasing the city’s high rate of HIV infections.

The $26.4 million federally funded initiative, called the D.C. Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress, includes among four components a study that targets black men who have sex with men to determine the best ways to curtail HIV infections among the group, which experts say is at high risk for HIV infection in the District.

“Tragically, our nation’s capital has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS, where about 3 percent of adults and adolescents are infected with the virus,” said NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci at the initiative’s unveiling.

“By collaborating with Mayor Fenty’s administration to establish the new D.C. Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress, NIH will seek to answer critical HIV research questions that could positively affect the District’s HIV/AIDS problem and serve as a model for programs in other U.S. cities as well,” Fauci said.
It would be nice to see our Nation's Capital stand as a positive example of something, wouldn't it?
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Welcome to Midweek Worship 1/13/09

Encouraging Music 1/13/10 "Awesome in this Place" by Natalie Grant

Dustin Lance Black: "We Cannot Wait"

Dustin Lance Black, who brought us the outstanding movie on Harvey Milk's life, wrote a passionate essay for the Huffington Post as he observed the Prop 8 trial currently being held in California.  Here's an excerpt:

Almost 32 years ago, in San Francisco's City Hall, having just defeated anti-gay proposition 6, Supervisor Harvey Milk stood in his office debating what the next step in the gay and lesbian movement should be. Per usual, he found himself in a heated debate with the other "gay leadership" who insisted he was moving too fast. He insisted it was time to march on Washington D.C., to follow in the footsteps of every successful civil rights struggle in this great Nation's history and garner federal attention.

Not 24 hours later, Harvey Milk was tragically taken from us, and with him vanished the indomitable spirit, strength, and unwillingness to back down necessary to make this a federal fight.

Finally, 32 years later, in the city he loved, we are fulfilling Harvey's dream.

Over the past months I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting the plaintiffs in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger. Their love is true, their families are strong, and to hear their stories is to know they deserve full recognition of their love, both for themselves and for their families. The time has come for the world to meet Kris Perry and Sandra Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. Their stories are our stories, ones of finding love with another person, of overcoming adversity, and of the strength and importance of family.

But now their stories must take a place in history, next to Brown vs. Board of Education and Loving vs. Virginia, in order to confirm what our great Constitution already tells us is true: that separate is not equal, and that all men and women, regardless of skin color or sexual orientation, deserve equality.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Daily Devotional 1/13/10 Burdens and Trials A Necessity?

From:  Love Worth Finding

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:3

A man had a grandfather’s clock. One day he felt sorry for the grandfather’s clock because it had a weight on it, and that weight was always pulling on the clock. The man said, “Oh, Mr. Clock, you’ve held this weight so long; I’m going to remove it and let you rest.” The clock protested, saying, “Don’t take that weight from me. That’s what keeps me going.” In the same way, the trials and tests of life are there for your endurance. They’re to keep you going, keep you trusting, keep you praying, and keep you depending upon God. When was the last time you shared with someone that they needed to be thankful for their trials? When was the last time you told yourself that?

January 12, 2010

The Pope Still Feels Very Threatened By Gay People

From Pink News:

Pope Benedict XVI has called gay marriage laws an "attack" on the natural differences between men and women.

Speaking just after Portugal's parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage, the pontiff addressed the comments to the Vatican diplomatic corps in a message which focused on environmental issues.

This is not the first time he has used environmental messages to preach about the sins of gay people.

In an end-of year address in 2008, he said that the existence of gay people threatens humanity as much as the destruction of the rainforests does and that "blurring" genders through acceptance of transgender people would kill off the human race.

According to AFP, he spoke about protecting or endangering creatures including humans in today's address and said: "One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes."
What a shame that arguably the most powerful religious leader on earth not only won't acknowledge the humanity of LGBT people but goes so far as to label them a threat to the speciies.
And they wonder why there are so many empty spaces in the pews on Sundays.....
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Words 1/12/10-"Lighten Up"

Here's an excerpt from an inspiring essay from Candace Chellew-Hodge, publisher of Whosoever.org:

Well, speaking to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in particular - our world is so dark because we have been told so many times, by so many people who claim some manner of authority over us, that the last thing we could offer the world is light. They tell us that perhaps if we change our sexual orientation or gender identity that we could shine a light in the world - a "light" of "redemption" from our lives of "sin." If we change, then we'll have some light to shine - until then, we're as dark as a Montana cavern - offering nothing but blinding blackness.

But, even in the darkest night - even in the hearts deemed to be the darkest by some people in the world, there is light. Even if we can't perceive it, or we're told that we're mistaken to think it - we each carry light within us. Our job is the same as John the Baptist's - to testify to that light.

Those who claim LGBT people have no light to share have themselves fallen in the trap of misunderstanding the light. They have become a light unto themselves. They have decided that they know how God thinks and how God would act. Of course God hates LGBT people. They hate them and God would naturally hate what they hate. This is the temptation of light - to think that once we see it, we can own it, focus it and make it a personal possession.

Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Encouraging Music 1/12/10 "He Reigns" by The News Boys

There Are Plenty of Catholics That Don't Rubber Stamp Official Vatican Policy

This article from Change.org refers to comments from one high-ranking Catholic, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and surveys in states where Catholics support gay rights in direct opposition to Rome:

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift asked Pelosi how she handled her brushes with the Church hierarchy. Pelosi responded that Catholic identity isn't what a few conservatives make it out to be.

"I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose. I have some concerns about the church's position on gay rights," Pelosi writes. "I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions."

Pelosi's not alone in her sentiments, at least when it comes to issues pertaining to gay rights. Witness the statistics in places like New Jersey or Rhode Island, where most Catholics not only support your standard gay rights fare, but are fully behind marriage equality. The institutional Church might consider that blasphemy. But the people in the pews just consider it basic fairness.
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 1/12/10 Off the Defense and Onto the Offense

From: Love Worth Finding

“And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

If I had to identify the major misconception about believers today, it would be that they spend too much time getting out of trouble with God instead of getting into righteousness! We are living on the defensive instead of the offensive. We need to move beyond the defensive line of Christianity and move on to the offense – advancing the Kingdom, fulfilling the Great Commission, and telling others about Jesus. Our Shepherd will never lead us where His strength cannot keep us. He will never lead us down a path that He hasn’t first walked down Himself. Are you sharing His love and words of salvation with someone who’s lost? If not, begin today to move beyond your comfort zone and see the hand of God move.

January 11, 2010

"Gay Marriage, Let the Apologies Begin"

Here's an essay from the Huffington Post that is already looking forward to the day when same-sex marriage is legal all over the country and the apologies for the delay that will follow from legislators.  Here's an excerpt:

It was a real bummer that even the Empire State couldn't get an equal marriage law on the books recently. It fills me with no shortage of pride that I live in the first state to grant equal and full marriage to gays and lesbians, and it is baffling to see how out of touch the rest of the country is with the great state of Massachusetts. Hey, we start a lot of good things -- like America, for instance. Although it's sad to see these continued defeats, I am not despairing. On the contrary, I often wonder when the apologies will start. There is no question in my mind that Gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states in my lifetime. I can already see clearly the apologies that I will be watching on-line, hopefully in 10 years but certainly within 20. I can almost hear it now, "as the speaker of the house for the legislature for the state of X, we here by proclaim by official proclamation put forth by a majority vote an apology for the terrible, shameful, discriminatory and un-American anti-gay marriage laws this body supported and upheld in 2009..... blah, blah, blah".

What short memories people have -- modern history is a good guide, for instance anti-miscegenation laws, Communist witch hunts, women's suffrage, anti-sodomy laws, not allowing Native Americans to enter the City of Providence, etc., all sorts of discriminatory rules and laws that we consider absurd now have been repealed and along with them comes no small amount of groveling and apologizing to the people they discriminated against. Once again bigots will have the next generation falling all over themselves to apologize for their prejudices and superstitious beliefs. The current batch of aging hopped-up homophobic haters and doomsayers are lucky they have us to do their dirty work for them in the future.

This is an open call to all the politicians today voting to violate the constitution, who through claims of divine guidance support laws that strip people of their rights: apologize now so the next generations won't have to do it for you! It is not too late to save your reputation and your respect in the eyes of your grandchildren. Everyone wants to lay claim to a relative that was pro-civil rights, but relatives who were segregationists....not very cool. They just don't produce the same amount of familial pride or positive excitement.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Encouraging Words 1/11/10-Support for Grieving LGBT People

From the Hartford Advocate (hat tip to Gay Agenda):

In 1995, when Bloomfield resident Dennis Kane lost his same-sex partner of 12 years to AIDS, his supervisor at work assured him that no one had to know.

"I had set up a memorial service and my boss made sure to tell me, 'I didn't tell anybody your partner died because that would be too embarrassing for you,'" remembered Kane. "He thought I would want to hide this. He thought he was being supportive."

Things only got worse when Kane sought out a support group to help him get through the grief he was feeling.

"If you're a gay person coming into a bereavement group you can very often be met with overwhelming prejudice and hostility because of being gay," said Kane.

Kane says he even called a state hotline in search of a support group, but was told there were only such groups for gay people who were trying to come out of the closet.

With nowhere else to turn, Kane finally ended up in therapy for two years to deal with his grief, because there was no support group he felt comfortable joining.

That's why this month, in association with VNA HealthCare, a home care and hospice agency headquartered in Hartford, Kane is launching a bereavement support group specifically for gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals in the greater Hartford area.
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Music 1/11/10 "Shout to the Lord" by Hillsong

"Eurpoe's Gay Leaders: Out at The Top"

From Time Magazine:

When Iceland installed Johanna Sigurdardottir as Prime Minister last February, newspapers around the globe printed variations of the same headline: ICELAND APPOINTS WORLD'S FIRST GAY LEADER. Everywhere, that is, except Iceland. The Icelandic media didn't mention Sigurdardottir's sexuality for days, and only then to point out that the foreign press had taken an interest in their new head of state — a 67-year-old former flight attendant turned politician whom voters had consistently rated Iceland's most trustworthy politician. Sure, she was gay and had entered a civil partnership with another woman in 2002. But Icelanders hardly seemed to notice. "The media silence echoed the sentiment of the public. Nobody cared about her sexual orientation," says Margret Bjornsdottir, the director of the Institute for Public Administration and Politics at the University of Iceland. "Being gay is a nonissue here. It's considered unremarkable."

Buoyed by liberal attitudes such as those, politicians across Western Europe are stepping out of the closet and into their country's highest political offices. Eleven openly gay men and women now serve in the British Parliament, including two in the Cabinet. Last June, Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Frédéric Mitterrand, a gay television presenter, to the post of Minister of Culture. Paris' Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, tipped by some to contest the 2012 presidential race, is gay. And Guido Westerwelle, chairman of Germany's Free Democratic Party, has just become his country's Foreign Minister, joining a gay élite that includes the mayors of Berlin and Hamburg, Germany's two largest cities. Klaus Wowereit, Berlin's mayor, says coming out ahead of the 2001 mayoral race while under pressure from tabloids strengthened his campaign. "My confession might have contributed to my popularity," he says. "Many people appreciate honesty."
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 1/11/10 Listening For His Voice

From:  Love Worth Finding

“Hearken unto Me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth.” Proverbs 7:24

The United States Government doesn’t teach Treasury agents to detect counterfeit bills by having them study fakes. They show these agents real dollars over and over and over until they have the pattern memorized. Then, when a counterfeit is put in front of them, they recognize it instantly because it doesn’t fit the pattern their eyes are looking for.

Do you know the voice of the Lord? The only way you can be sure that it is His voice you are hearing is to hear it so often, that a stranger’s voice is instantly recognizable.

It is far wiser to spend time learning the one true voice than it is trying to learn to detect a multitude of false voices.

Spend at least 15 minutes today being silent before God and listening for His voice.

January 10, 2010

"Perscription For an Ailing ENDA:

Bil Browning, the publisher of the phenominal The Bilerico Project, contributed his first piece to The Advocate, breaking down the steps he believes would allow the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to gain some momentum toward passage in 2010.  Here's an excerpt:

When a version of the long-standing federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act failed to move out of a House committee last year (in fact it has yet to pass), many of the bill’s proponents grew worried. But after The Hill reported in December that Speaker Nancy Pelosi privately assured skittish first-term Democrats that the House wouldn’t bring controversial bills to the floor this year unless the Senate acted first, worry turned into panic. Is ENDA dead for this congressional session? Will gender identity protections be cut from the bill again, as they were in 2007? Are our leaders selling us out?

The answers are far from simple. But ENDA isn't dead. Not yet. In my recent interviews for The Bilerico Project, Colorado representative Jared Polis and Wisconsin representative Tammy Baldwin confirmed that ENDA’s delay was attributable to the health care reform debate and that later this month the legislation will undergo markup (the process where a committee makes changes to existing bill language before voting on whether to send to the floor for final approval). Both said they'd spoken with Speaker Pelosi and Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller and were confident that the bill would receive a vote. Polis and Baldwin further asserted that removing gender identity language from the bill wasn't on the table.

The Senate, however, is another beast. As we've seen with the health care fiasco, the filibuster has become standard operating procedure for obstructionist Republicans. ENDA supporters need 60 votes in the Senate — a number they’ve yet to reach. Several activist groups, including United ENDA and transgender advocate Jillian Weiss's Facebook group, Inclusive ENDA, have been tracking the votes and show the absence of usually supportive Democrats like Indiana senator Evan Bayh.

If you don't think ENDA is as important as the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” or other vital LGBT legislation, you may be missing the point. No state has won marriage equality without first passing an employment nondiscrimination law covering sexual orientation. What do marriage rights mean if you could be conceivably fired in a majority of states for having a photograph of your partner on your desk? Why would the military embrace a repeal of DADT if workplace discrimination is still permitted in many states?
Click here to read the rest of Bil's commentary.

SNN Recommends Won't Be Available for a Short Time

We're trying to work around limited Internet access following moving to a new home, a situation that should be resolved within a few days.  Until then, we'll keep posting but will need to temporarily suspend our SNN Recommends, Matthew 25 Resource, and LGBT Helping Hands posts.  They will be back right after we're back up to full Internet access.

Women Coming Out Later in Life Finding Acceptance

From the Minneapolis (MN) Star-Tribune (hat tip Twitter user CitizenChris):

Meredith Baxter recently went public about being a lesbian -- at age 62, after three marriages and five children. Instead of reacting with shock, many people thought, "Oh, there goes another one."

As being gay gains more acceptance in the culture at large, far fewer gays and lesbians have felt the need to be closeted. But we seem to hear a lot more often about middle-aged women who have married and raised families announcing they are lesbians than we hear about men in the same situation coming out as gay.

Census-data analysis from UCLA's Williams Institute found that 36 percent of women in their 40s with same-sex partners previously had been married to men. That percentage grew to more than half for lesbians in their 50s, and 75 percent for those 60 and older.