Gaylingual: June 2006: Archives
June 29, 2006
June 28, 2006
Pentagon: Gay Not A Disorder But Don't Join Military genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
The Pentagon issued a statement on Wednesday in which it retracted the statement from a Pentagon document that homosexuality is a mental disorder. At the same time, the Pentagon sought to make clear that the clarification in no way altered the position that openly gay individuals are not permitted in the military. Read the full article here.
After a 1996 Pentagon document placing homosexuality among a list of "certain mental disorders" came to light this month, the American Psychiatric Association and a handful of lawmakers asked the Defense Department to change its view.
The Pentagon said in a statement: "Homosexuality should not have been characterized as a mental disorder in an appendix of a procedural instruction. A clarification will be issued over the next few days."
"Notwithstanding its inclusion, we find no practical impact since that appendix simply listed factors that do not constitute a physical disability, and homosexuality of course does not," the Pentagon added.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said the rate of troops discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy had fallen by about 40 percent since the beginning of U.S. military operations following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
"There is no good reason for keeping the ban in place and there's every good reason for repealing it," Ralls said. "It's discriminatory and robbing the military of talented men and women who want to serve. It's unnecessary. We've seen bans lifted among our closest allies. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are serving alongside openly gay British troops."
June 23, 2006
Catholic Parishes To Seek Anti-Gay Petition Signings genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
While Episcopalians’ and Protestants appear to be moving closer to embracing gays, the Catholic Church in Colorado has decided it will circulate and gather petition signatures at Sunday mass in support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The churches will also solicit signatures on a measure to ban "late term" abortions. Read the letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver here.
Over the next few weeks the Colorado Catholic Conference will begin a major effort on two key ballot measures for Colorado voters this fall: the protection of marriage and the prohibition of late-term abortions.
bq. This year’s state marriage amendment — Initiative 83 — will go a long way to protecting marriage as the cornerstone of our culture. A state amendment, because it becomes part of Colorado’s constitution, has much more gravity and durability than a state law, which depends on the current views of every future state legislative session. The passage of a state marriage amendment will help ensure the future by defending the integrity of marriage and the family.
I ask you and all our fellow Catholics to sign petitions as they become available over the next few weeks at our parishes. The Colorado Catholic Conference will be assisting each parish in Colorado to conduct signature drives on both the state marriage amendment and the state late-term abortion ban. We need to collect, as a state-wide community, at least 68,000 valid signatures for each petition in order to put these two important issues on the ballot this fall, and thus give Coloradans the chance to protect marriage and new, unborn life with their votes.
One of the lessons Colorado Catholics have learned over the past several years is that only when we actively engage public issues with an energy and conscience informed by our faith and our moral convictions, do we truly live as “faithful citizens." We serve the common good best by being true to what we claim to believe — both in the public square and in our private lives.
Note the Archbishop's final statement which attempts to coyly state that voting for any politician that might oppose the Church's position on these two issues would be a breach of ones obligation to live as a "faithful citizen". It seems to me that the Church is walking a fine line with its tax exempt status. How these efforts cannot be construed as political contributions is beyond me. Those who are promoting these amendments would otherwise have to hire companies or individuals to collect petition signatures...this certainly looks like an in-kind contribution to me.
June 22, 2006
June 21, 2006
Colbert On Gay Marriage & Snake Lovin' genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Uncivil Unions & Video-Philes
Presbyterians & Episcopals Vote To Support Gays genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation
While the Pope and the Catholic Church continue to issue negative statements about homosexuality and gay marriage, the Presbyterians and Episcopals in the United States have both voted on measures that offer increasing acceptance and support to gays. The Advocate has the full article here.
Both the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church voted on Tuesday in favor of a role for gays and lesbians in their faith communities. At its triennial general convention in Columbus, Ohio, the Episcopal House of Deputies decided not to follow the wish of worldwide Anglican leaders and enact a moratorium on electing openly gay bishops, while the Presbyterian national assembly voted in Birmingham, Alabama, to allow individual congregations and regional presbyteries to make their own decisions regarding gay bishops and others, the Associated Press reports.
With the Episcopal vote, the turmoil will only continue, said conservatives. "Unhappily, this decision seems to show that the Episcopal Church has chosen to walk apart from the rest of the Anglican Communion," Canon Martyn Minns said to the AP, alluding to concerns over a possible permanent split in the church over the inclusion of gays and lesbians. Many dioceses around the world have threatened to secede if the issue were not resolved in favor of those who would exclude gay people.
Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church, another major American Protestant denomination, moved further to the side of gays and lesbians when its national assembly, by a 298-221 vote, approved legislation that will let churches and regional presbyteries appoint gay clergy, lay elders, and deacons, the AP reports. Although the legislation also affirmed Presbyterian law stipulating that individuals in such positions must restrict sexual relations to opposite-sex marriage, the measure will at least allow LGBT members of the church to serve in such capacities.
June 15, 2006
June 13, 2006
Sales of Mary Cheney's book, Now It's My Turn have been poor at best according to an article in The Advocate. The book has sold fewer than 6,000 copies. See a prior Thought Theater tongue-in-cheek visual that is intended to summarize the actions of Mary Cheney here.
The book's sales have declined in each of the four weeks since its release, to only 574 copies sold for the week ending June 3. That's 77% fewer than its first-week sales of 2,445.
The title of Cheney's book would seemingly indicate that she has been a victim who has now been given the opportunity to tell her side of the story. Perhaps with some creative semantic assemblage one could argue that her book is an opportunity to address her critics. Regardless, Mary Cheney and victimhood are mutually exclusive.
In writing the book, Mary Cheney received the benefit of a million dollar cash advance. That fact merely reinforces the notion that Mary Cheney is available to the highest bidder...regardless of principles. In fact, to presume she has principles is absurd. She is singularly motivated by self-interest. Like her father before her, she long ago learned that a bank account full of cash is the greatest source of independence and freedom of choice.
Mary Cheney is gay because she has sex with a woman...but beyond that fact she is a card carrying conservative who closely mimics the mercenary mentality of her father. Her life as a lesbian is not constrained by the day to day obstacles faced by most homosexuals. The mere fact that she held the position she did in the 2004 reelection campaign speaks to how she used the system to her advantage. It is doubtful any other admitted high profile homosexual would have stood a chance of having the same position.
Mary Cheney has never taken turns...she has been provided a place at the front of the line...with her hand fully extended. She makes choices with the knowledge that she will always be on the receiving end of the equation...no pun intended. Mary Cheney is little more than calculating and manipulative. She has been the frequent beneficiary of an influential name and she has demonstrated a propensity to accept cash in exchange for character. She may view her book as her turn...but as usual it is simply another free ride.
With the recent debate in the Senate on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman and Howard Dean's misstep on the Party position on the issue, gay rights groups have become more vocal in their demands for support from the Democrats in defending against and defeating state measures to prohibit gay marriage. Read the full article here.
The national party is simultaneously courting conservative evangelical Christian voters and planning how to defeat proposals on the November ballot in six states for constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. That has created tension between the Democratic Party and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Gay Democrats supporting the outreach to conservatives insist the party does not have to turn its back on gays and lesbians to appeal to evangelical Christians.
"We are disappointed that more senators could not take an affirmative stand for gay and lesbian Americans," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Gay rights leaders said a crucial test of Democratic Party support -- in addition to the marriage vote -- is how the party responds to a formal request from the National Stonewall Democrats to help fight the state amendments and encourage gays and lesbians to vote. The party has yet to budget any money for the efforts.
This raises some strategic questions and concerns that many would rather not confront. History has seen a Democratic Party that is routinely outspent by its Republican opponents. This reality of limited resources has often led the Party to make difficult spending decisions...not only on state ballot initiatives but also with regard to House and Senate races.
Under the direction of Howard Dean, the Party has made a fundamental shift in strategy that seeks to build a Party framework in all fifty states...a move that has been criticized by a number of influential Democrats. Those opposed to the Dean strategy argue that precious funds are being allocated to the grassroots effort at the expense of targeting specific House and Senate races that are competitive.
The recent demands by gay rights organizations for funds to oppose state amendments that would prohibit gay marriage simply add to the growing debate. The unfortunate reality is that most of the previous marriage initiatives have received overwhelming voter support and while there has been some favorable shift in voter sentiment towards gay marriage, there is little evidence that the current initiatives can be defeated.
The Democratic Party finds itself in much the same position with regards to the gay constituency as the Republicans do with regards to the religious right. Both groups feel their respective Party's have done little to impact the goals of their voting blocks other than to offer occasional statements of support. The Democratic Party position is further complicated by an inability to defeat any of the recent initiatives. Gay groups see Republican victories as a greater commitment by the Republican Party to these types of initiatives. However, the important distinction is that gay wedge issues have provided the Republican Party with increasing voter turnout thereby making efforts to highlight or support such measures a worthwhile investment.
Constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage will be on the ballot in Idaho, Virginia, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Tennessee and South Carolina. Gay rights leaders believe they have the best chance of defeating the Wisconsin amendment.
"I can't tell you where (money) will play into this whole process. We're not there yet," said Brian Bond, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council for the Democratic Party.
I'm inclined to believe that the essential problem for the Democratic Party apparatus is the differing and competing time perspectives. Gay rights groups, frustrated by a string of recent defeats, are increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of results and the commitment to their objectives...while many Democratic strategists believe a longer term focus on wrestling control of the House or the Senate will in the end provide the mechanism for winning on gay issues. That divide is the unresolved conflict.
Gay rights victories with regard to gay marriage in Massachusetts and the Supreme Courts rejection of sodomy laws emboldened many in the cause to believe comprehensive legalization of gay marriage was within their grasp. The actions of San Francisco and other cities to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, while a welcome show of support, may have actually mobilized the opposition. The dissonance created by those rapid successes being followed by resounding defeats in 2004 simply added fuel to the current controversy.
As I've attempted to analyze the progress made by gays over the last twenty years, the prevailing impression I am left with is that much of our success happened outside of the national radar. Victories were won on a city by city basis and in state court decisions that received little national attention. The momentum of those victories was eventually enough to generate a counter movement that led to the mobilization of today’s powerful religious conservative opposition.
While gay marriage could be expected to be the natural progression of this steady movement, the fact that it became a touchstone issue has brought about the expected backlash to what is now perceived as an exponential leap. Regardless of this flawed perception, when change is viewed to be drastic...whether that be the result of the strategic rhetoric of opponents or simply the fact that the publicity has forced the voter to confront an issue that they have previously been able to keep at arms length...it often results in the fundamental reactionary shift being witnessed.
The gay rights strategy going forward, now more than ever, will determine whether the movement will continue its progression or finds itself the victim of the miscalculation born of success. There is little doubt gay marriage will be an American reality...the question is whether it will happen sooner or later. That determination rests squarely upon the next sequence of events.
June 10, 2006
Ali G (Bruno) Interviews Pastor Who Converts Gays genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes
June 9, 2006
Could Court Ruling Boost Marriage Amendment? genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
The Associated Press has a good article on the thinking of those opposed to gay marriage and in favor of an amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman now that the Senate failed to pass the initiative. Find the full article here.
After being rebuffed in the U.S. Senate, some opponents of gay marriage think losing a court case might help their argument to ban same-sex unions across the country.
"If any of those courts mandate genderless marriage, you're going to have folks on the other side saying, 'This makes the marriage issue serious business,"' said Monte Stewart, president of the Marriage Law Foundation, an Orem, Utah-based group that opposes gay marriage.
If more judges rule the way the Massachusetts court did, there could be a wider backlash against judges defining marriage, say some conservative activists.
The Marriage Law Foundation's Stewart said seeing a second state allow same-sex unions would be more significant than Massachusetts - and a bigger unifying force for conservatives.
National gay-rights groups also are bracing for backlashes that may come if they succeed in state courts.
"We have to fight to hold the victories we secure," said Kate Kendell, director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights. "That is the history of every civil rights struggle."
While the issue is before several courts, the Washington State Supreme Court case looks like it may be the next ruling and likely one of the most significant. Yesterday's Seattle Times ran a story discussing the fact that the case was heard some fifteen months ago and still remains undecided.
From gay-rights supporters to religious conservatives and family-rights groups across the country, many have been watching Olympia for an outcome in the case. It represents one of the most important social questions to confront the state's high court in a decade and is one of the most controversial.
Rampant speculation about why 15 months have passed without a ruling have ranged from the slightly absurd (the justices don't want Washington to be only the second state with gay marriage) to the more political (they're waiting until after the November elections).
From my own perspective, I would prefer that the ruling is not issued until after the November election. Given the recent attempt by Republicans to rekindle the issue, a ruling might galvanize another significant turnout by the religious right and short circuit what appears to be an excellent opportunity for Democrats to take control of the House or the Senate.
The more I view the 2006 midterm election, the more convinced I become that it is perhaps the most critical election in years and one that may impact the direction of the country for the next generation. While a ruling in favor of gay marriage would be a welcome victory, if it were to happen at such a time that it set in motion sufficient momentum to disrupt what appears to be an excellent opportunity for a Democratic victory in November, it could well turn out to be an untimely disaster.
June 8, 2006
June 7, 2006
Jon Stewart Skewers Bill Bennett On Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes
June 6, 2006
If George Will Won't, I Will genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation
The Washington Post ran an op-ed piece by George Will on Tuesday in which he reflected on the "lessons" of the AIDS epidemic some twenty-five years after it first began. You can read the entire piece here. Quite frankly, Will's piece is wholesale trash packaged in the longstanding rhetoric that has sought to make AIDS a moral judgment...not a virus. He wastes no time in establishing his assertion.
At first it was called GRID -- gay-related immune deficiency. In September 1982 the CDC renamed it acquired immune deficiency syndrome -- AIDS.
An epidemic requires both a microbe and an enabling social context. In Africa, aspects of modernity in a primitive setting became a deadly combination: HIV was spread by roadside prostitutes serving truckers and soldiers traveling on modern roads. Africa's wars caused population dislocations; economic development caused migrations of workers across porous borders. Both weakened families and dissolved traditional sexual norms. Jet aircraft integrated Africa into the world flow of commerce and tourism. In 1980s America, the enabling context included a gay community feeling more assertive and emancipated, and IV drug users sharing needles.
If one were to connect the crafting of a paragraph intended to deliver the necessary guilty verdict with the loading of a gun in preparation for an execution, then Will has successfully appointed himself judge, jury, and executioner. He begins his invective assault with the immediate linking of the illness and enabling behavior. Never mind that every contagious or transmittable illness requires a social context; Will is simply setting the table for the coming judgments. I doubt he has written about the morality associated with failing to wash ones hands after sneezing while ill with a cold and before shaking the hand of an associate and I wonder if he will write about moral imperatives should the bird flu become an illness spread by human to human contact. Seemingly only choices involving sexual contact have moral implications.
He wastes no time asserting that "modernity" set the spread of the virus in motion in Africa and with the use of the phraseology, "HIV was spread by roadside prostitutes serving truckers and soldiers traveling on modern roads", one is left to wonder if he is insinuating that modernity brought prostitution (the oldest profession) or that only truckers and soldiers torn from their families of necessity were apt to partake in extramarital sex. He then links the spread of HIV to weakened families with dissolving "traditional" sexual norms. However, he conveniently fails to discuss the moral considerations associated with wealthy nations ignoring perpetual poverty and how it is also an enabling factor.
It is difficult to fully distill his intended nuance, but my impression is that he seeks to infer that the impact of "modernity" offers Africa some lesser moral responsibility. That assumption seems to be supported when one reads his next remark that points out the "elective" behavior of "a gay community feeling more assertive and emancipated" and they therefore must have traveled to Africa to engage in sex and return with the virus to the United States. My conclusion is that Will's moral hierarchy places gays at the bottom...where they are guilty of the sin of a chosen immorality. He proceeds to expand his moral argument.
The 14th-century Black Death killed one-third of Europe's population, but it was in the air, food and water, so breathing, eating and drinking were risky behaviors. AIDS is much more difficult to acquire. Like other large components of America's health-care costs (e.g., violence, vehicular accidents, coronary artery disease, lung cancer), AIDS is mostly the result of behavior that is by now widely known to be risky.
In providing his explanation for the deaths associated with the Black Death...whereby it resulted from inherently "innocent" actions...breathing along with eating and drinking for sustenance, he is establishing the structure with which to determine moral equivalence. He then points out that violence (crime), vehicular accidents (drunken driving), coronary artery disease (obesity), lung cancer (smoking), and AIDS (gay sex, prostitution, and extramarital sex) are the result of "risky" behavior. Not only is there an implied moral judgment, he seems to be attaching an economic moral judgment...these chosen behaviors have cost the health care system a lot of money. I wonder if he believes they should be excluded from insurance coverage. Note that he makes a moral judgment when behaviors draw money from the society but he previously omitted any discussion of moral responsibility when the lack of forthcoming money from wealthy nations could be connected to the poverty and high death rates found in Africa.
Will then asserts that "political values impeded public health requirements. Unhelpful messages were sent by slogans designed to democratize the disease -- "AIDS does not discriminate" and "AIDS is an equal opportunity disease." He goes on to conclude that by targeting "25 to 30 neighborhoods from New York and Miami to San Francisco"; HIV "could have been greatly contained". I assume that by concluding that there were efforts "to democratize the disease", Will is saying we just didn't want to place blame where it belonged. He seems to be suggesting that what was needed was a focus on gay neighborhoods. Those remarks ignore the fact that the Reagan administration simply ignored the disease. His statement also discounts the proactive efforts of gay communities to take the lead in educating and informing themselves...even without adequate government support or funding. The reality is that gays have driven the efforts to combat HIV from the outset...because we have often had a government that has ignored the disease or failed to lead.
He then has the audacity to offer an absurd defense of Ronald Reagan's failure to address AIDS by stating, "No president considers it part of his job description to tell the country that the human rectum, with its delicate and absorptive lining, makes anal-receptive sexual intercourse dangerous when HIV is prevalent." Really" Is Will arguing that Reagan or any President can only be expected to talk about and address the issues of those who have heterosexual sex? I'm not certain what Will is trying to say, but I find it illogical and offensive. First, no one asked Reagan to explain the human rectum (Will does a good job of depicting one)...the issue was that he failed to even speak the acronym or discuss the topic at all until 1987. Again, the inference is that a President has no responsibility to those who "elect" to engage in "risky" behavior...and of course what he really means to say, those who do are actually engaging in immoral behavior. He doesn't stop there.
There has, however, been an increase in unsafe sex, because pharmacological progress has complicated the campaign against this behavior-driven epidemic. Life-extending cocktails of antiviral drugs now lead some at-risk people to regard HIV infection as a manageable chronic disease, and hence to engage in risky behavior. Furthermore, the decline of AIDS mortality rates means that more persons are surviving with HIV infection -- persons who can spread the virus. And drugs such as Viagra mean that more older men are sexually active.
I'm not sure if Will is lamenting that the disease has become more manageable, or that at least when people died we were rid of the carriers, or that positive individuals should be celibate, or that only older heterosexual men should have access to Viagra. Instead of celebrating the fact that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence; he seems to simply focus on the fact that living longer merely increases the potential to spread the disease.
Sex is a natural human activity and while one won't die from its absence, as with the deprival of food and water, each individual is entitled to make reasonable decisions to participate in the human experience. Does HIV come with responsibilities to protect sexual partners...absolutely. Are there risks...certainly. Do we have the right to prevent people from engaging in consensual sexual activities...I don't think we do. The reality of sexual contact is the same reality that comes with all human contact...there are risks. We live each day with the possibility that other transmittable and potentially fatal diseases could be on the horizon. If they emerge, they will be unfortunate diseases, not new opportunities to affix moral judgments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are nineteen million new STD infections each year. If they were to become life threatening diseases similar to HIV, the 25 years of AIDS that have resulted in some 530,000 deaths will seem insignificant by comparison. We all live with the hope that a sneeze won't expose us to a deadly flu or that a handshake won't pass a fatal infection. Unfortunately the forces of nature bring changes that may one day make it risky to leave one's home.
Will seems to think he is imparting some insightful observations that demonstrate that he has a grasp on the AIDS epidemic as well as human nature. Instead, his article provides a better view of the bias and judgment that has hindered the progress to combat HIV and that is also an all too frequently chosen human behavior. In concluding that humans are slow to learn from the AIDS epidemic, he has at the same time pointed out that he and many others are even slower to shed their propensity to make moral judgments that result from longstanding bias and bigotry. In failing to point out the costs associated with that behavior, Will seems unable or unwilling to heed his own final words, "Human beings do learn. But they often do at a lethally slow pace." If George Will won't point that out, I will.
June 6, 2006
Following up on prior condemnations, the Vatican issued a statement expressing strong opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and in-vitro fertilization...calling them threats to the traditional family. Read the full article here. See prior Thought Theater postings on the subject here....
June 5, 2006
I ran across an interesting piece on how to combat the rhetoric behind the push to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage here. The author, Jeffrey Feldman, makes some strong arguments that focus on three recommendations. The overriding...
June 4, 2006
The June 12 edition of Newsweek takes a look at the potential impact of the issue of gay marriage on the upcoming midterm elections. Read the full article here. Pew polls show a 10-point jump in support for gay marriage...
June 3, 2006
President Bush used his Saturday morning radio address to further promote his support for an amendment to prohibit gay marriage. Read the full article here. See Thought Theater's prior posting on the Bush strategy here. "Ages of experience have taught...
June 2, 2006
The Marriage Amendment Strategy genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
There has been ample discussion in the media and on the internet that seems to view the pending vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage as another coming failure for the Bush administration. I disagree. Isn't this move...