Posts Tagged ‘Homosexuality’

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Why Restricting Westboro Baptist Church’s Protests Wouldn’t Harm Free Speech

10.06.10

Westboro Baptist Church could be one of the more offensive groups in the country today.  These people protest fallen American troops’ funerals to promote their anti-homosexual message.  To most anyone outside their congregation, it’s beyond appalling.

The lawsuit brought on by one of those deceased soldier’s families has caused the question of whether or not these protesters have the right to do what they’ve been doing.  The original verdict found in favor of the family, awarding them millions of dollars in the judgment.  However, this was then overturned by an appeal, citing that the Church’s right to free speech had been infringed upon.

Now it’s at the Supreme Court.  And they’re not having an easy time figuring it out, either.  Where is the line?  At what point do you say that your free speech is not allowed because other people find it offensive?

I’m a huge fan of the First Amendment and despite finding the actions and teachings of the Westboro Baptist Church outrageously wrong, offensive, heartless, and cruel, I worry about depriving citizens of free speech simply because I disagree with their stance on homosexuality.  I wouldn’t want my right taken away to voice my opinion on homosexuality — I mean, that would pretty much take away this entire blog!  The right to free speech is maddening at times because it requires us to hear things that we may not find acceptable whatsoever.

Take for instance pornography.  It was illegal for years — adult performers actually jailed for their participation in these films — due in part to the moral stance of the majority against promiscuity and what was deemed perversion.  Agree or disagree with porn, but it’s a person’s right to engage in that form of expression due in part to the freedoms in the First Amendment.

That said — you can’t just express your freedoms by stripping down and getting busy in front of a cemetery — regardless of whether or not a funeral is going on.  I imagine that would break some lewd conduct laws, no doubt (my lawyer friend feel free to chime in here for just what laws would be broken), just like I can’t walk down the street naked claiming that I’m expressing myself.  In that case, why can’t there be a law that restricts protesting at cemeteries during funerals? Isn’t the emotional sensitivity owed to those mourning the death of a loved one worth restricting free speech in a limited capacity? Surely if we accept that people must wear clothes when in public spaces, we can accept that people must keep their opinions to themselves while people do something as sacred burying their dead.

And on a final note, I just had to include this baffling reasoning by the WBC:

Church members say their broader message was aimed at the unspecified actions of the military and those who serve in it. They believe U.S. soldiers deserve to die because they fight for a country that tolerates homosexuality.

What does it say about them that they live, work, and are active, taxpaying (I’m assuming) citizens of this same country for which our troops fight? How are they somehow separate? The amount of cognitive dissonance is mind-numbing — that is, if any thought is even going into their rationale to begin with.

Image courtesy of NoHoDamon’s Flickr Photostream.

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A Simple Case for Humanity

01.30.10

Too often the case against gay marriage toes the religious or revisionist-history lines, people arguing that marriage has always been between one man and one woman since the beginning of time and that homosexuality is a sin.  People reduce gay marriage to terms of grotesque creatures, not loving human beings and breaking nature’s law.  People argue against it with broad strokes, sweeping generalizations, they point to old texts and hide behind their prejudices, their fears, their ignorance.  It’s much easier this way.  All too often the reality of the effects of the gay marriage ban get ignored.

This is the reality, in real terms, happening to real people, dealing with the greatest of human trials: grave illness.

Bryan Dickenson has been with his partner, Bill Sugg, for 30 years.  But their union is not recognized in any shape or form by any government entity because they live in Texas, where even civil unions and domestic partnerships are illegal.  This means that when Sugg had a stroke and has been in the hospital undergoing extensive rehabilitation since, Dickenson was not allowed sick leave to care for his partner by his employer AT&T, who would extend those benefits to a married, heterosexual couple.  Instead, Dickenson has to use his vacation time in order to go care for his companion, his lover, his spouse in the hospital and is worried that once he runs out, if he continues to ask for time off work to be with Sugg, he would be fired.

This is wrong.  Plain and simple.  Not that AT&T is necessarily to blame – the law is the law, and Dickenson and Sugg have no union to speak of as far as the state of Texas or the United States of America are concerned.  Legally, they’re merely roommates, friends at best.

But they aren’t just roommates or friends.  They are family.  If Texas legalized gay marriage, this wouldn’t be an issue.  As it stands, AT&T has no legal reason to allow Dickenson to use his sick leave.  This type of cruelty must stop.

I know that I haven’t written much about the trial against Prop 8 here in California – not having any legal education, I would merely be reposting what others already are saying in a much more informed way – so I am eagerly awaiting the potential ramifications if Prop 8 is indeed found to be unconstitutional and discriminatory.  I hope that it is, and that the case is eventually brought to the Supreme Court, whose ruling would apply to all gay marriage bans across the country, including this one in Texas.

Of course, by that time, it may be too late for Dickenson and Sugg, and the countless more gay couples with stories like theirs.  Banning gay marriage does nothing to help heterosexual marriage; it only seeks to harm homosexuals.  It’s cruel, it’s inhumane, and it’s heartless.

Here’s hoping Bill Suggs has a speedy recovery and that Bryan Dickenson can be there every step of the way.

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Huckabee: Broken Record on Same Sex Marriage

11.26.09

Leave it to potential GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to repeat old rhetoric in his battle against same-sex marriage.

Huckabee panders to the Christian Right and alienates everyone else with his flawed slippery-slope argument that if same-sex marriage were legalized, that just about any form of union would end up being permitted.  Namely, that polygamy should then be allowed.

He argues that:

“You know, I hear people say, ‘Well, what would be wrong?’ What would be wrong, then, with a man having two or three or six or seven wives? Or a woman having six or seven husbands all at the same time? Other than the financial challenge of doing that.”

What a flawed argument, but one that can be very convincing to people who don’t take the time to actually think about it.  The issue here isn’t polygamy.  It’s about homosexuality.  And this is just Huckabee’s way to divert the attention away from the real reason that he’s against it: his fundamentalist Christian views.  He thinks that he’s masking his religious reasons for desiring a secular ban on one type of marriage simply based on the demographic of people being married, which is a prime example of institutional discrimination, by using the tired and patently false historical argument – that marriage has always meant one man and one woman – and equating homosexuals with polygamists.  Classic fear-mongering rhetoric that holds no water whatsoever.

Huckabee:

“Marriage doesn’t mean any and everything we want it to mean.  In all the recorded years of human history it has only meant one thing. It has meant a man and a woman relationship, that not only created the next generation, but that trained the next generation to be their replacements. It’s not just the matter of the biological reproduction, however. It’s the context in which children are able to grow up understanding the role models that both the male and the female provide.”

There are so many things wrong with his argument.  First off:

1) Marriage hasn’t only meant one thing in all the recorded years of human history.  Perhaps it’s meant the same thing in all the recorded years of The Huckabee Family History but you need not look further than his own admission of polygamy to realize that there are other forms of marriage that are perfectly valid for those groups of people (I assume they’re humans, thus in the realm of human history).  See also, arranged marriages, polyandry, and a whole slew of different unions in many societies.  Even if fringe or practiced amongst a small group of people, it disproves Huckabee’s statement that marriage has always meant one singular thing.

2) Being married doesn’t mean you have to be parents.  There are all kinds of circumstances where married couples don’t end up training “the next generation to be their replacements,” such as, infertile couples or those who just don’t want to have children.  I’ve never been married, but I’ve been to a number of weddings, and none of the requirements that I heard during the ceremonies involved procreation and the training of said offspring.

Huckabee uses that falsity to lead to yet another one.

3) Children can learn the ins and outs of being a human being without having both a man and woman guiding them.  I’m getting tired of reading my own print right now because it feels like Huckabee is making me sound like a broken record.  Again, all it takes is actually stopping and spending a brief moment thinking about this to realize that Huckabee is full of total crap and that nothing in his argument holds true.  With his rationale, he should be fighting to outlaw childless married couples, single-parent families, and foster parents (to take a page out of his own slippery slope book).

It doesn’t take a historian to know that marriage – like many cultural customs – has changed and varied over time across cultures as they evolve and change.  Huckabee bases his argument on his own personal beliefs that fall under those of Christianity, which is fine, were he arguing to make changes to his church’s rules, not secular American laws.  But he’s not.

This is a man who fashions himself a presidential candidate in 2012 yet bases his arguments for and against secular laws on his own religious beliefs over the rights granted by the U.S. Constitution.  The Republican Party really is no longer a political entity anymore so much as it has become a church.  And that has no place whatsoever in American politics.

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“God’s Mandate” Belongs In Church

10.08.09

Take a look at this latest ad against gay marriage.  We’ll discuss afterward.

Sigh.

God’s mandate?  Really?  This is secular law.  It has nothing to do with any one god’s so-called mandate.  What a slap in the face to anyone of any other faith besides Christianity.  How arrogant and insulting.  As tough a pill it is for some to swallow, America is not a Christian nation.  And that’s a good thing.  Remember we fled England to escape religious tyranny.  It still amazes me that religion is used to back secular laws at all.  Talk about conflict of interest and a total lack of respect for the separation of church and state.

An even bigger slap in the face is to actual Bible-reading Christians because God didn’t create the bond of marriage when he created Adam and Eve.  In fact, that whole notion came much later on, and was implemented by the church.  You won’t find an explanation of how marriage works in Genesis as this advertisement would have you believe.  Talk about pandering to an audience.

Apparently, the writers of this ad didn’t feel that their original thesis was quite enough to truly drive the message home.  So, at the end, they just randomly tagged on the whole “protect our children” line while showing us kids frolicking in a pile of leaves.  Where the hell does this come from?  Is there a knife buried in that leaf pile or something?  How does God’s mandate have anything to do with protecting children?  And protecting them from what, exactly?  Children can’t get married so how are they even in this conversation?

Of course it’s a callback to those other commercials aired in Maine and California that try to scare people into believing that legalizing same-sex marriage would be putting children at risk to becoming gay.  A laughable and ridiculous claim that this ad doesn’t even bother to explain.  I can’t believe people still believe that being gay is a conscious choice and that learning about gay marriage would sway a child into joining the other team.  Give me a fucking break.

Religious bigotry has no place in secular law.  This type of insulting advertising will not stop until people recognize it for what it is: discriminatory and flat out stupid.  I hope the people of Washington state will see through this crap and vote in favor of marriage equality.

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Maine Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Take Notice

09.30.09

This is what the pro-marriage equality camp should be using to convince voters:

Janice Langbehn, Lisa Marie Pond and three of their four children planned a cruise in February 2007 to celebrate the couple’s 18 years together. But Pond suffered a massive stroke before the ship left port and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Hospital workers refused to let Langbehn into Pond’s hospital room – even after a power of attorney was faxed to the hospital — because they were not legally related…

Pond was pronounced dead of a brain aneurysm about 18 hours after being admitted to the trauma center. Langbehn said she was only allowed in to see her partner for a few minutes when a priest gave Pond the last rites.

“I never thought almost 20 years of love and family could be disregarded in an instant,” Langbehn said.

This and other true and appalling stories of real people’s lives being shattered by this bigotry should be at the forefront of the discussion.  Make the anti-equality group see just what their cowardly, ignorant desire to “protect marriage” really means to our society.

I think it’s safe to say that an overwhelming majority of those against same-sex marriage are Republicans. (For those who are Democrats or Independents, this section is not for you.)  And for quite some time (and even today they claim to still want this even though their track record of late sure doesn’t support it) the GOP has been the party pushing for smaller government.  How, then, I ask, can they justify pushing for these amendments allowing the government to decide something as personal and private as who can and cannot get married?  The government can’t get much more intrusive than that.

The laughable and insulting campaign against same-sex marriage rests on the notion of “protecting” marriage and our children because apparently marriage is currently safe from any corruption or misuse – other than gay marriage – that would render its sacredness moot.  And hordes of children will suddenly choose to become gay upon learning of the legal rights of consenting adults to marry whomever they wish.

Actually, I’m wrong.  It would be laughable if it weren’t the honest mindset of many Americans.

Voting against same-sex marriage will not protect your heterosexual marriage – only you and your spouse have the ability to control the sanctity of your union.  Just like your straight neighbors getting divorced changes nothing about the validity of your own nuptials, neither will two women marrying down the street.

Voting against same-sex marriage will not affect any child’s sexual orientation – just as you didn’t choose to be heterosexual, no one consciously chooses which gender he/she finds sexually attractive.  Gays getting married won’t affect this reality either way.  Plus, it’s not like children believe everything they learn in school, hence why a pathetic number of Americans don’t believe in evolution.

It’s time for the pro-marriage equality camp to step up in a big way.  Simply arguing for equality won’t work.  Those against gay marriage clearly do not care whatsoever about fairness or equality.  Their ignorant fear of homosexuality pushes them to outlaw what they don’t understand and, in doing so, they want to create a second-class group of citizens, of sub-humans unworthy of consideration, who aren’t even allowed to hold the hands of their loved ones on their death beds.

It’s inhuman.  It’s appalling.  It’s devoid of any and all compassion.

And that’s what needs to be shouted from the rooftops.  Make them realize that their ancient beliefs aren’t shared by all and that just as they would be outraged at the government dictating to them how to live their life, they have no right to do that to others.  Expose these people for who they are and bombard them with the images and stories of families and lives shattered and destroyed by their bigotry.  Instead of focusing on why it’s right to allow same-sex marriage, let’s showcase just how WRONG it is to outlaw it.

California missed its opportunity.  Let’s not have the same happen in Maine.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the story.)

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Yeah, Iowa!!!

04.03.09

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I love Iowa.  I loved it when I visited it last month on tour.  And I loved it when I was there last year for my friend’s wedding.

And I now I love it because it has – unanimously – become the third state in the union to legalize gay marriage.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.  And they were unanimous in their decision.  That’s just amazing.  The Heartland of America truly shows its namesake by voting against discrimination.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone in Iowa agrees with this decision.  I would even guess that a majority will not like this ruling.  But, not many people were stoked about losing their slaves or letting women vote.  Yet it was still the right thing to do.

We do not live in a majority-rule society.  This is a common misconception because we’re constantly calling our government a democracy, which it is not exactly.  America is a constitution-based federal republic.  Thankfully, much like the federal constitution, its state counterparts protect the same liberties – including that of freedom from discrimination.  Even if the majority of the voters morally disagree with homosexuality and marriage equality, the constitution prevents that kind of intolerance from becoming law.  Until lately, unfortunately, some peoples’ moral arrogance has kept an entire population of Americans living in shame and treated like second-class citizens.  With this ruling in Iowa, we are now 6% of the way toward having all states denouncing bigotry and instead embracing equality.

It’s a huge step forward.  But we still have a long way to go.

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On Gay Marriage…

03.29.09

Andrew Sullivan:

We know now that same-gender attraction, bonding and sex is ubiquitous in nature, and almost certainly has some evolutionary explanation. We know too, experientially, that the love cherished by many gay couples is real and beautiful and deeply human. It is not merely “contractual” or “nihilist”. It is organic, natural and completing. It is humanizing and it is civilizing. History is full of such relationships, and they stand proudly alongside their heterosexual peers. The reduction of these shared lives and loves to abstract sexual acts is itself a form of bigotry.  It is, in my view, anti-Christian to speak of gays the way this Pope does. The Christian calling is not to guard ferociously the ramparts of the 1950s out of fear but to listen to the experiences of gay people – what the Second Vatican Council calls the sensus fidelium – and try to integrate their humanity into the structures from which they have been so cruelly excluded, with such horrible human consequences, for so long.

There will always be arguments – like the ones that Sullivan argues against in this post – that quote scripture as reasons to vilify homosexuals.  The more intelligent the response, the less that rationale will hold any water.  After getting the treatment from Sullivan, it’s amazing anyone bothers to argue with him anymore.  The only possible response is simply to ignore logic and rational thought.  Luckily, the opponents of marriage equality do that in spades.

I am not a Christian, so I do not need to reconcile the issue of homosexuality in the Bible with my worldview; however, I do know that a strong majority of Americans consider themselves Christian and that making these arguments sound will go a long way in securing marriage equality.  Sullivan does this the best as anyone out there.