Gaylingual: August 2007: Archives
Iowa evangelicals were undoubtedly shocked and alarmed by the ruling of Polk County Judge Robert Hanson. The ruling states that Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and orders that the six plaintiff couples be granted marriage licenses. In his ruling, Judge Hanson argued that the Iowa Constitution provides for equal protection and due-process and that the passage of Iowa's Defense Of Marriage act violates that provision.
The ruling will be appealed and the attorney for Polk County is expected to seek a stay until the decision has been reviewed by a higher court...likely the Iowa Supreme Court.
The ruling will certainly add a new wrinkle to Iowa's presidential primary. Clearly, candidates who may have sought to limit their comments on the subject will now be forced to weigh in on the ruling...which will certainly increase the attention placed upon the outcome of the states primary.
From The Des Moines Register:
Polk County is expected to appeal the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court.
County Attorney John Sarcone said the county would immediately seek a stay from Hanson, which if granted would prevent anyone from seeking a marriage license until an appeal could be heard.
The case will be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which could refer it to the Iowa Court of Appeals, consider the case itself or decide not to hear the case.
Des Moines lawyer Dennis Johnson represented the six gay couples who filed suit after they were denied marriage licenses. He called the ruling "a moral victory for equal rights."
Johnson argued that Iowa has a long history of aggressively protecting civil rights in cases of race and gender. He said the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Legislature passed in 1998, contradicts previous court rulings regarding civil rights and should be struck down.
From Yahoo News:
With the decision of a county judge to strike down Iowa's law banning same-sex marriages, the state becomes a front-line battleground in America's ongoing political wrestling match over gay and lesbian rights.
Democratic and Republicans candidates will not be able to campaign in Iowa -- as all will be doing in coming days and weeks -- without addressing the ruling and the broader issue of same-sex marriage.
Of course, most of the candidates have already done this with varying degrees of specificity. But now they will be thrust into the center of a real-life struggle in a state where they will be spending a great deal of time between now and the day in December or January when Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses are held.
Both Democratic and Republican candidates will be forced to offer specific responses to precise legal arguments, as well as to the very human demands of men and women in Iowa who have gone public with their struggle for the right to marry their partners.
The equal protection clause has been used in other similar rulings. Perhaps the most notable was the ruling in Colorado striking down Amendment Two. The amendment was passed by voters in 1992, stayed from being enacted by Judge Bayless in December of that year, and subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
I decided to have a little fun with the ruling and the evangelicals who will certainly be mobilizing to protect the institution of marriage from the destructive influences of same-sex unions. The following is a list of suggestions designed to protect the marriages of evangelicals...which they may want to enact until such time as the ruling can be stayed or stricken down by a higher court.
Rumor has it that wearing a necklace of corn cobs will ward off the negative and evil influences one may experience when encountering a married homosexual.
Evangelical women should encourage their husbands to avoid any possibilities of being identified as a metro-sexual...such men are prime targets for conversion efforts.
Evangelical men must monitor the television their wives are watching during the day. The militant homosexuals have infiltrated daytime programming in order to convert unsuspecting women of faith. Under no circumstances should evangelical women be allowed to watch Ellen or The View. While the V Chip was intended to monitor the programs viewed by children, husbands are encouraged to utilize the device to prohibit the watching of inappropriate programs by vulnerable wives.
Evangelical businesses are encouraged to remove all coffee tables and coffee table books and magazines from their waiting areas as it may attract married homosexuals.
Evangelical males who may be traveling by airplane are encouraged to avoid the use of airport restrooms...there are concerns that heterosexual men may be vulnerable to the lure of these palatial potties. Women should encourage their husbands to use the bathroom before departing the home and not again until they are on the plane. Evangelical women need not worry about the sex their husbands have on a plane as the Mile High Club currently prohibits the formation of a homosexual affiliate. Notwithstanding, there are concerns that a secret sect of stewards are planning to form a similar club called "In The "O" Zone". Please check back for updates.
In extreme situations, it may be necessary for husbands to hire the services of a prostitute. Recent research by Senator Vitter of Louisiana suggests that a threatened marriage can be renewed by such measures...and it has an added communal effect which was evidenced by the standing ovation the senator received upon his return to Washington. He is a true champion of heterosexual marriage. Thought Theater has learned from an anonymous source that the Senator will announce a new campaign designed to defend marriage...the campaign is called "Marriage: One Man, One Woman, & A Shit Load Of Hookers".
A word of caution to the wives of evangelical ministers. Under no circumstances should you allow your husbands to travel out of town on trips that require an overnight stay or time alone. It is being reported that information provided by hotel staff and informational literature found in hotel rooms has been co-opted by militant homosexuals. Completely innocent massages have been reported to lead to man on man sex and the use of illicit drugs which are designed to convert the unsuspecting minister. Those who doubt the veracity of this warning need only be reminded of the fall of well-known Colorado Springs minister, Ted Haggard.
Lastly, should your spouse lose their way and succumb to the tireless efforts of the homosexual agenda...fear not. The same program that restored Ted Haggard in a matter of a few weeks is being made available to the people of Iowa on a priority basis. If you suspect your spouse has fallen, please contact Gay-B-Gone and they will forward you a trial sample of their revolutionary product Rinse-Away-The-Gay...a quick penetrating shampoo that will leave your spouse tingling from the infusion of the holy spirit...and you feeling confident that your betrothed is on the road to recovery. Call now...the phones are staffed by sympathetic and satisfied customers.
Tagged as: 2008 Primary, David Vitter, Evangelicals, Iowa, Larry Craig, LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage, Ted Haggard
Daniel DiRito | August 31, 2007 | 10:01 AM |
| Comments (0)
As the blogosphere has sought to digest the meaning of the Larry Craig incident, it has begun to spur a worthwhile debate...one which has been ignored and has lurked in the background in ways eerily similar to the behavior that led to the arrest of the Senator.
Generally speaking, the public is opposed to encountering unexpected or offensive behaviors in public environments...and that is a reasonable concern for those within government to address. Clearly, the opinions regarding which behaviors constitute a nuisance or create the conditions under which to charge an individual with a crime will vary from individual to individual...often dependent upon one's values, one's religious beliefs, ands one's propensity for tolerance. The fact that there are discordant beliefs simply complicates the task for those charged with monitoring such activities.
By and large, citizens believe that law enforcement departments are committed to treating each individual fairly and with the same level of respect for their civil liberties. At the same time, history tells us that this isn't always the case. Regardless, most citizens afford our law enforcement departments the benefit of the doubt...which is as it should be...but only to a point.
In writing about the Larry Craig situation, I broached the question of whether the targeting of men who have sex with men (I avoid using the term gay because studies indicate that many of the men who participate in these clandestine encounters are married and consider themselves to be heterosexual) receives a level of attention that is commensurate with that given to those who engage in opposite sex liaisons in public locations.
I have asked readers and colleagues to ponder the question and to cite any examples whereby tactics similar to those employed in the Senator's case are being utilized to charge those engaged in opposite sex public encounters. At the moment, I have not been provided with any such examples...though a few individuals have cited prostitution stings as examples. I have discounted such examples because they constitute a specific crime that is not at play in circumstances like that of Senator Craig...meaning that the individuals charged in men's restrooms are engaging in consensual sex without the exchange of money (by definition the exchange of money is an act of solicitation), which generally leads to charges of lewd behavior, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct.
I don't want to devolve into a legalistic discussion though some basic understandings are required for this debate. Firstly, laws can and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so one size doesn't fit all. Secondly, courts have offered a number of rulings on the subject though no definitive across the board position can actually be derived.
Relevant to this topic, the Senator's actions constituted disorderly conduct...despite what he may have intended to do. In essence, intention doesn't necessarily equate with the ability to convict on the lewd behavior charge. The fact that he plead to the lesser charge (disorderly conduct) is evidence of this reality. Further, in some of these cases, the accused have successfully argued that their actions in a closed door stall in a restroom facility cannot equate with disorderly conduct because their actions didn't actually take place in public. The argument is open to interpretation and it can progress into questions of a fundamental granting of constitutional privacy privileges.
With that said, one can see that the issue is more complex than one might expect. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the issue isn't solely one of legality as it is reasonable to consider other factors...such as what the public can legitimately expect upon entering a public restroom. While I am personally opposed to using these restrooms for sexual liaisons, the issue requires a much more comprehensive analysis.
To introduce the other considerations, let me begin with a simple example that will hopefully illuminate my concerns. Suppose one conducted a survey whereby the objective was to gauge the public's reaction and response to witnessing an apparent sexual encounter in a public restroom. In the study, the respondents witness 50% of the situations involving same sex participants and the other 50% involving opposite sex participants. In both cases, the sex of the participants is obvious, as is the sexual nature of the activity.
The respondents are then confronted as they exit the restroom in order to gauge their reaction as well as what they believe to be the appropriate response from law enforcement. Each respondent is asked to explain what they believe they witnessed to insure that they properly identified the sex of the participants. Once that is determined, they are asked to respond to a multiple choice question outlining the action they believe should be taken.
The first answer is, "While I don't think they should be doing this in a public restroom, I'm not in favor of it being a crime." The second answer is, "I think that they should be charged with a crime in the event that a law enforcement officer were to be summoned". The final answer is, "I think that law enforcement needs to establish a sting operation to target those who might intend to engage in such activity in order to catch and charge them".
My own belief is that the responses would be skewed towards answer number one with regards to opposite sex participants and towards answer number three with regards to same sex participants. I say as much because it would likely reflect the beliefs held by most Americans...meaning that heterosexual sex is viewed to be more acceptable than homosexual sex. In fact, I would contend that many of the respondents would laugh off the heterosexual activity while many of those witnessing homosexual activity would be outraged.
Therefore, one must ask whether the existing law enforcement actions being conducted in situations similar to that in Minneapolis...which led to the arrest of the Senator...reflect a societal bias with regards to homosexuals. In the absence of similar operations aimed at heterosexual activity, it seems safe to conclude that the treatment is not equal...and is likely reflective of prejudice.
Let me offer an even simpler example to reinforce my argument. All things being equal, a kiss between same sex couples in public will elicit a negative reaction (a moral judgment)...while a heterosexual kiss may elicit no reaction or at worst a negative reaction that such behavior doesn't belong in public...but rarely a negative moral judgment.
If that same bias is being applied to the actions of law enforcement (and it seems difficult to assume otherwise), we have a problem with selective and unfair discrimination.
Let me share part of a discussion I've been involved with on this very topic. The information is from an individual who works with this issue and the men who are being charged with these types of offenses. I am not including his name or the organization as a matter of privacy. While I don't agree with every point made, I think it provides some important insight into a perspective that is often omitted from discussions of this issue.
Ok. The agency I work for has worked on hundreds of these cases. We have won lawsuits on the matter so I am going to respond to this last post with a few items.
1. Undercover operations have 0 deterrent effect. There is no evidence that sting operations against gay men have a deterrent effect. In fact the opposite is true. When members of the public see uniformed police – THAT is a deterrent. It makes many people feel more safe and if you combine it with signs saying that illegal behavior will be prosecuted or that surveillance is occurring (it doesn't have to be occurring) then you could argue there is a deterrent goal by the facility. But hiding a police officer does not prevent crime all it does is A. catch criminals or B. invites entrapment by overzealous cops who are frustrated with cautious perpetrators that refuse to take the bait. This is the reality.
2. Charging people is the goal. Police are very politically motivated. Their jobs and their bosses jobs are very much designed around getting rid of undesirables including queers. These operations usually carry a higher charge like in the Craig case where he claimed he had to negotiate it down to a misdemeanor. Charging felonies is about getting queers on the sex offender registry, shaming them in public, or costing them so much money they won't dare fight the charge in court. We had a case of 770 arrests in 4 months. Almost all were innocent. 50 of the guys got in touch with (agency name omitted) and all were acquitted because the officer refused to show up for court, meaning that he would commit perjury about what he put in the police reports. There is a fine for the charge, a fine for the court fees, attorney fees and sometimes there is a “nuisance abatement" charge so they can take your car which costs hundred to get it back. This is thousands more if you go to court. I repeat. These charges do not deter men or else every cruisy area where there were arrests would see reductions. This is not the case.
3. Police mostly are not responding to public complaints. Police know about cruisy restrooms because of websites and a few public complaints. We have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after FOIA after FOIA and never once have we received a public complaint of public sex. If this is such a big problem, which justifies an undercover operation, there should be some documentation. Nada. In (state omitted), the State Police even called their operations “Bag a Fag" operations and printed T-Shirts saying so. This is the sign of bias not serving and protecting. If there are really people observing public sex (which is rare because most of this activity is committed by guys that do not want to be seen or caught) then a uniformed cop walking in should be able to see the same thing right. Right. But they don't want to deter it or stumble across it, they want to invite it. They want it to happen. 9 times out of ten these men never get a warning and sent away. They invest so much money and time that they love charging on the first offense, charging high and publicizing the hell out of it.
4. I have trained over 1000 police, some as a condition of our lawsuit and nearly all of them believe that gay sex is so sick they would do anything to root it out. I have had cops say out loud in a training that they would watch two women go at it, send a str8 couple home and bust a gay couple. I have also had cops admit in these trainings that these operations are scams designed to make money and shame people. Some chiefs and some prosecutors won't honor them at all. In (state omitted) we have shut down many of these when high level chiefs have admitted that uniformed cops are an effective way of dealing with the “problem."
I think this is invaluable information...information that gives the reader a first hand view of the realities confronted by those who have engaged in such activity and the obstacles they face...but it also provides insight into which methods may be effective in limiting or deterring these activities as well as exposing the possibility that the motivations of those who establish programs like the one found in Minneapolis may be biased and misguided.
It's difficult to argue in favor of a program that isn't effective...unless, of course, one is particularly prejudiced against those who are participating in the behavior. If the goal is to extinguish this activity, it appears that these sting operations are less than effective.
Rather than rely upon one source, I consulted a document prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice titled, "Illicit Sexual Activity in Public Places". The following excerpts are from this lengthy document and they reiterate and reinforce some of the concerns shared in the prior quotation.
There are widely different perspectives on public sexual activity. Some do not believe the behavior constitutes a public safety threat; some view the behavior as a "victimless crime" involving two consenting partners; and some see the behavior as a threat to the community's "moral decency." "Impersonal," "casual," and "anonymous" sexual behaviors have negative connotations to many people, as they stand in contrast to ideals of romantic love, monogamous relationships, and long-term commitments. Moral overtones pervade discussions of nudity and sexuality, particularly when they address same sex interactions. These judgments often underlie the public's concern. Community morals and beliefs about how the law should regulate morality will affect how each community addresses the problem. This guide does not adopt any particular moral perspective; it is intended to inform you about the effectiveness and consequences of various approaches to controlling public sexual activity.
Primarily, such activity constitutes nuisance behavior and does not pose a serious threat to community safety.
The responses to public sexual activity can be fraught with difficulty. Charges of harassment, entrapment, bias and discrimination against homosexuals have historically surrounded efforts to address public sexual activity between men. Therefore, it is vital that you objectively analyze the problem so that you develop fair and effective responses.
Certain patterns (e.g., opposite-sex coupling at a "lovers' lane") have not been studied empirically, while others (e.g., same-sex contact in public restrooms) have been studied much more extensively. It is important to note that engaging in same-sex activity does not necessarily imply a homosexual identity; in fact, many men who have sex with men in public places are married or otherwise heterosexually involved, and do not consider themselves to be gay.
When apprehended, many offenders may suffer substantial social repercussions, in addition to any criminal justice related consequences that may ensue. Threats to their
marriages, friendships, jobs, reputations, and social standing often cause them to try to distract attention from their behaviors by showing exaggerated degrees of respectability, such as strong ties to the religious community or passionate condemnation of homosexuality. The larger the community's moral objections to public sexual activity mean that participants have much to lose if they are discovered.
Two things are immediately apparent. One, The Justice Department realizes that efforts to limit this type of activity have moral considerations...and that can lead to prejudicial judgments. Two, the fact that same-sex activity is the only activity that has been extensively studied supports my contention that little effort is expended to suppress similar heterosexual activity. It also suggests that a bias has existed for many years with regard to homosexual activity and it has often been targeted.
A lack of privacy may also be the reason for male sexual activity in public restrooms. In particular, men with heterosexual identities may want to conceal their behavior
from significant others. Their heterosexual identities also deter them from using other, less-public venues such as gay bars or sex clubs. Some homosexual men also lack the freedom to pursue same-sex partners privately due to family or peer disapproval. A community's condemnation of homosexuality may drive the behavior to remote, although public, locations, particularly among those exploring their sexuality and not yet connected to the gay community.
Most researchers and practitioners agree that focusing solely on arresting those engaging in public sexual activity is unlikely to reduce the overall scope of the problem. In your response strategy, you should acknowledge that it will be difficult to affect people's motivations for engaging in the activity. A balanced approach combining enforcement strategies and those targeting environments that support the behavior is most likely to decrease the prevalence of the activity and the public's concern about it.
Used alone, enforcement efforts are likely to lead to displacement. Although not the most desirable outcome, there is evidence that when displacement does occur, the magnitude of the problem decreases with the move to a new location.
In addition, an exclusive focus on environments in which same-sex interactions occur can result in charges of bias and discrimination. Therefore, you must address the full range of public sexual activity and target particular locations based on objective, justifiable assessments of threats to public safety.
Again, the report confirms many of the same conclusions offered by the party quoted above and with whom I discussed the issue. I view the warnings in the last paragraph to be a tacit acknowledgment that there has been a focus upon same sex encounters. Note the use of the word objective...a word which tells me that the Justice Department has encountered programs that are subjective.
The report proceeds to list a number of possible responses to the presence of illicit sexual activity in public places. The list begins with 17 suggested responses (proactive actions intended to reduce the activity and make locations less favorable meeting places). This is followed by numbers 18 and 19 which are listed under the heading "Responses With Limited Effectiveness". Those two items are "Using Undercover Decoys" and "Harassing Or Intimidating Suspects".
18. Using undercover decoys. While using undercover officers to pose as interested parties in illicit same-sex public activity can lead to many arrests, such operations have not had long-term effectiveness in reducing overall activity levels. At best, they temporarily displace the activity to other locations, and the activity usually returns to prior levels once the operations have ceased. Further, given the active role that undercover officers must take to confirm suspects' intentions, the police may be vulnerable to entrapment claims. In addition, many officers are reluctant to serve as decoys because of the customary behavioral scripts they must follow. Finally, some may see the serious social consequences of the publicity following an arrest as disproportionate to the severity of the offense.
19. Harassing or intimidating suspects. Many who engage in public sexual activity do not want witnesses and try to avoid being seen. Thus, it can be difficult for police to obtain probable cause for an arrest. When the community pressures police to address the problem, officers may resort to harassing or intimidating those observed loitering in parks or rest areas. This approach undermines police integrity, can create tension with the gay and lesbian community and other residents concerned about civil rights, and has not proved particularly effective.
For the most part, the Justice Department document seems to be a reasonably objective discussion of the topic. I interpret the tenor to be impartial and informative...all of which I find rather refreshing given the well-publicized concerns as to the Bush administrations possible inclinations to politicize the department.
When one considers the arguments I've presented, in conjunction with the information provided by external sources, a picture begins to emerge. Clearly, there has been an inordinate historical focus upon the pursuit and punishment of those engaged in same sex encounters...likely a derivative of established social norms and values.
Over time, it also appears that there has been a growing awareness that programs to limit public sexual activity need to evolve and to begin incorporating methods that seek to extinguish the behavior as opposed to criminalizing it. That is a positive development.
Regardless, those in positions of authority are still forced to confront the views, opinions, and complaints of the citizens which they serve and/or represent. In so doing, there is likely to remain a focus upon, and a bias against, same sex activities.
Responsible leadership would be wise to approach the sensitive subject with caution, with an emphasis upon deterrence, and with the ample evidence necessary to prevent overreaction and the imposition of prejudicial programs that are simply designed to appease an angry public.
At the same time, the society at large must do its part to foster an environment that doesn't penalize, ostracize, or marginalize those who are desirous of same sex relationships. Simultaneously, closeted gays must summon the courage to come out in order to foster greater understanding in the society...and more importantly...to allow themselves to experience the healthy and meaningful relationships they may feel are unattainable in a judgmental environment.
As I've explored this topic, I cannot help but acknowledge the irony found in the opposition to same sex marriage or its equivalent. Truth be told, those who decide to vilify homosexuality may actually do more harm by acting to oppose the recognition of such relationships...a fact that may well be evidenced by the behavior of the Senator and many others.
Clearly, people are entitled to oppose homosexuality. At the same time, denying homosexuals the opportunity to establish meaningful and recognized unions seems to contribute to the damage that can be done to decent human beings...individuals who seek little more than the same acceptance and rights as their heterosexual counterparts.
Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that adults who participate in same sex sexual activities in public locales aren't culpable for their actions or that they are entitled to interpret opposition to same sex relationships as a justification for their suspect behavior. Nonetheless, I contend one cannot be discussed in the absence of the other.
In the end, if we're truly a nation which prides itself upon its compassion and its affinity for Christian values, why would we be so careless as to refuse to extend these considerations to our fellow citizens? It's an inconsistency worth pondering.
Tagged as: Homophobia, Homosexuality, Justice Department, Larry Craig, LGBT, Public Sex, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexuality, Sting Operations
Daniel DiRito | August 30, 2007 | 11:45 AM |
| Comments (1)
We live in a messed up world. We have an anti-gay Senator from Idaho sending signals and playing footsie with an undercover male police officer in a Minneapolis airport restroom which is reportedly known for secret sexual encounters.
Not to be outdone, we have Tucker Carlson telling the tale of being "bothered" by another man in a restroom while in high school...an incident which he contends forced him to race out of the bathroom and seek out a friend to return with him to "accost" the gay man.
The video follows.
But wait, it doesn't stop there. Tucker has a seeming obsession with protecting his manhood. On several occasions during his MSNBC program, Tucker has indicated that simply seeing or hearing certain people will lead him to "involuntarily cross his legs"...an inference that there are individuals who would willingly emasculate him. The funny thing, most of these people are women...such as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Grace.
On a new gadget called a Hillary Nutcracker:
CARLSON: I don't know, but that is so perfect. I have often said, when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.
During a discussion about Hillary Clinton:
CARLSON: Boy, she scares me. I cross my legs every time she talks, every time. Pat Buchanan, Melinda Henneberger, thank you very much. No, it's true. It's involuntary. I don't mean it, but I do every single time.
CARLSON: Oh, every time, involuntarily. It's like those pictures you see of the soccer goalie when they're about to get the free kick. That's me when she talks. I can't help it.
On Nancy Grace:
CARLSON: I don't want to be on a long car trip with her. She scares me. I cross my legs involuntarily every time she comes on the air.
Nope, not finished yet. On August 10th, while interviewing Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign regarding the Logo/HRC Democratic Candidate Forum, the discussion shifted to John Edwards and his answer to a question about how he would react to having a transgender employee. Carlson quickly focused upon...yep, you got it...his "boys" and the terror he associates with the thought of their removal.
Given Tucker's preoccupation, it seemed appropriate to offer my own list of situations and circumstances that lead Mr. Carlson to inadvertently cross his legs.
Using one egg to crack open another.
Seeing a squirrel scurrying up a tree with a mouth full of acorns.
Watching his children play with their wacky clackers.
Peeling and removing the seed from an overripe avocado.
Watching the neighborhood kids playing with their hackey sacks.
Watching an automatic cherry pitter race through enough cherries to make a pie.
Receiving a pair of deep fried hush puppies with his seafood combo at Captain D's.
The mere thought of a steely busting up a cluster of marbles inside the circle.
The entire process of making sausage...from the meat grinding to the stuffing of the casings.
Watching his wife make a cup of tea by dipping a tea bag into a hot cup of water.
Tagged as: Brad Luna, Hillary Clinton, Human Rights Campaign, Larry Craig, Logo Democratic Forum, Nancy Grace, Tucker Carlson
Daniel DiRito | August 29, 2007 | 4:15 PM |
| Comments (0)
I'm always fascinated by the reaction to stories like that of Senator Larry Craig...the Idaho senator who plead guilty to disorderly conduct following his arrest for lewd behavior (he was basically charged for allegedly soliciting sex from a male police officer) in a Minneapolis airport restroom.
A number of reactions are exactly what one might expect given the political persuasion of the senator. Craig has been an opponent of gay rights for the duration of his service in the senate...opposing gay marriage and hate crimes legislation and basically voting the family values platform without fail. Therefore the accusations of blatant hypocrisy have been loud and they've been warranted.
Craig's actions are a repeat of an all too familiar script...powerful anti-gay leader gets caught in pathetic pants down gay situation and then begins the process of denial. In that regard, it is difficult to sympathize with these men given their propensity to victimize gays through their very public and influential positions...all the while living closeted gay lives in secret...frequently exhibiting a history of engaging in tawdry anonymous sexual encounters on the sly.
Here's where it gets tricky...no pun intended. In the rush to comment on the situation, the door is kicked open to all types of erroneous assertions...assertions that emanate from the bias, prejudice, and judgment that comes with the topic of homosexuality.
Generally speaking, the comments from the gay community are straightforward and they speak of vindication and the utter hypocrisy exhibited by those individuals who have made a career of championing the vilification of the gay lifestyle. The gay commentary also includes expressions of dismay with a society that stigmatizes homosexuality such that some individuals are unable or unwilling to expose their gay identities and therefore succumb to the deception and the detachment that accompanies such incidents.
In this particular instance, the commentary from the gay community has also included a degree of outrage that the Minneapolis police department is targeting consensual gay sex as a matter of criminal activity...the point at which it becomes complicated and also where we begin to see the infiltration of bias.
As I've read the many comments on the situation...both from the left and the right...it became obvious that there is a void in understanding an important fact of gay life. Gays and those familiar with the gay community seem to understand that there is an unspoken communication code amongst gays...one that allows them to identify each other. It exists because identifying another gay individual isn't a matter of simple gender identification...and it can be a matter of life and death.
As we all know, the vast majority of society is heterosexual and therefore the accepted pattern of courtship (the means by which people make connections...be they flirting, dating, sexual, or the predecessor to marriage) is between a man and woman. As such, it is expected that men and women will make advances towards each other in order to express interest. These behaviors are well known and easily identified.
On the other hand, those within the gay world have created their own method of courtship...a method that is necessarily more clandestine and far less obvious. That method exists because gays realize that if they were to approach courtship randomly...with the presumption that all others were homosexual...they may be subjecting themselves to the likelihood of anger and even physical danger. The bottom line is that advances of a gay nature are not an open and socially accepted behavior. Gays cannot act upon attraction without first evaluating the potential that such an approach will be welcomed.
The only clear exception to this may be the gay bar...a safe environment that mirrors what heterosexuals find in virtually all of their travels. It is a place where gays can let down their guard and feel safe to express interest in others with little reason for worry. At the same time, any heterosexual who has ventured to a gay bar...and found themselves the object of flirtatious advances should have an appreciation for the daily gay experience. Fortunately, heterosexuals in a gay bar generally needn't feel their physical safety is threatened should they mistakenly make an advance towards a member of the opposite sex. Gays, on the other hand, would not likely find the same in a straight bar.
Let me point out one other consideration...the issue of stereotypical behavior. Many heterosexuals struggle to understand some of the mannerisms of homosexuals...with effeminate behavior being the most obvious. My own anecdotal analysis suggests that it is simply another way for a homosexual to expose their sexual preference to others without the need for the subtleties of a secret code. If one is gay and one wants to maximize the number of individuals who will know as much in order to increase the potential for others to come forward and identify their similar orientation, then acting in stereotypical ways may simply be a successful alternative strategy.
Hopefully, those who may have been puzzled by this apparent secret code of communication that was exhibited by Senator Craig will now have a better understanding of the underlying dynamics that foster it. The bottom line is that if one is never forced to adopt such strategies, one would likely be oblivious to them...but that doesn't nullify their existence.
Now factor in the additional considerations of men like Senator Craig...considerations that go beyond the above mentioned realities. The senator and other closeted individuals must make the same judgments...but they are also focused upon avoiding the acknowledgment or exposure of their sexual preference. Essentially, they are seeking others in similar situations, or at the very least, individuals who they can reasonably assume to be desirous of a limited and/or secretive encounter...whether that be a conversation, a date, sex, or an ongoing relationship.
Let me draw an important comparison to heterosexuality...one that begins to expose the unfair bias that is often triggered by events similar to that of Senator Craig. The best way to understand the actions of Craig is to think about the heterosexual man or woman that is looking for an affair. They must be able to secretly identify an individual who will be receptive to their advances, respectful of their need for discretion, and willing to be complicit in hiding the relationship...whether it is strictly sexual or something much more or much less.
In reading the commentary on the Senator's actions, some have chosen to view his actions as perverse, sick, twisted, and indicative of all that is wrong with the homosexual lifestyle. Let me be clear...I am not defending the actions of Senator Craig...I am simply suggesting that they are not unique to homosexuals. The problem is that some of the characterizations have sought to identify the Senator's behavior as exclusive to homosexuals in order to condemn the gay lifestyle.
However, Craig's motivations are mirrored in the heterosexual community in those individuals seeking to conduct clandestine affairs. All one needs to imagine is the man who frequents the area of a city where prostitutes can be found or that travels for work and can be found in the hotel lounge seeking a one night encounter. If one chooses to characterize such actions as perverse, sick, and twisted...so be it. I am simply suggesting that there are those who hope to attach such a label to homosexual behavior while avoiding the same insinuation with regard to heterosexuals. Deception and cheating are the same wherever they occur.
As to the legitimacy of targeting such behaviors in the restroom of an airport, I think one can make the argument that it is, in fact, an unfair assault upon homosexuals. Again, I'm not suggesting that I find anything remotely appealing about airport bathroom sex...nor am I suggesting that it represents a healthy expression of anyones sexuality. At the same time, I can identify numerous other venues...venues that are not intended for sexual encounters...but that are clearly used as the means to achieve a sexual encounter...amongst heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.
Everyone has been to a concert where two individuals meet up and engage in sexual activity. The same can be found at sports events (think Nascar and bare breasts), wedding receptions, house parties, amusement parks, beaches, airplanes (think mile high club), high school dances, pool parties, public parks, and other venues too numerous to mention.
The question is whether "lewd behavior" is targeted at such venues...and by that I mean that police officers are assigned to engage others who may be seeking to use a venue to solicit sex...not just security staff that might put a stop to such behavior should they encounter it in the course of their responsibilities. I seriously doubt that the police assign a woman officer to attend a concert in order to catch men who solicit her for a sexual encounter...just as I doubt officers would be found at the other venues mentioned with the sole purpose of identifying individuals who are desirous of a sexual encounter. I think the distinction is that these other venues may have employees who are supposed to put an end to such activities if they are encountered...but they are not assigned to entice such advances in order to bring charges.
Again, I have no particular sympathy for Senator Craig...I am simply suggesting that there may well be a double standard at work with regard to homosexual contact. Frankly, it should come as no surprise since we commonly hear expressions like, "I don't care what they do in private but I don't want it flaunted in my face". Further, we have gone so far as to institutionalize such stigmatization of homosexual sex. The best example is found in the military with the policy called Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In other words, gay sex must be behind closed doors and it mustn't be discussed or exposed to the public at large.
In the case of these airport encounters, apparently closed doors are not sufficient...and the mere insinuation of a sexual interest is grounds for charging an individual with an offense. I personally find the prospect of restroom sex distasteful...but no more than I would find the prospect of sitting next to a couple engaging in sex at a concert or on an airplane or at a Nascar race.
Unfortunately, society still struggles with the notion of homosexual sex and the situation with Senator Craig points out the apparent double standard that exists. Granted, the locations gays may choose to find such encounters may differ from those chosen by heterosexuals...but that may simply be a function of the other societal taboos that are at play and that make it more difficult for gays to express an interest in another individual.
The fact that Senator Craig is a hypocrite remains...but there is also an element of hypocrisy that isn't solely reserved for the Senator...hypocrisy that is evidenced in the tacit endorsement of heterosexual encounters while portraying homosexual displays of a sexual nature as wrong, vile, disgusting, and illegal. That hypocrisy simply suggests that society still has a long way to go.
In the meantime, the actions of Senator Craig as a U.S. Senator simply help foster such bias and prejudice...and it makes his behavior as a Senator all the more offensive. His actions in the Senate are an affront to decency and they make a mockery of the responsibilities that should accompany positions of leadership. The fact that he is likely gay simply makes his political actions all the more detestable.
Tagged as: Bias, Gay, Heterosexuality, Homophobia, Homosexuality, LGBT, Senator Larry Craig, Sexuality
Daniel DiRito | August 28, 2007 | 9:17 AM |
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Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) recently plead guilty to disorderly conduct in relation to an incident in a men's restroom in a Minneapolis airport. According to the undercover policeman who made the arrest, Craig's behaviors were consistent with previously witnessed actions intended to solicit sex from the officer.
Craig's office released a statement indicating that the Senator erred in handling the situation without the benefit of legal counsel but that he had done so while hoping to quickly resolve what he characterized as a he said, he said misunderstanding.
Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.
A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding," and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.
According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested.
“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area," the report states.
Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider."
Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.
Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine," the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.
“It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper," the arresting officer said in the report.
Senator Craig has been a staunch supporter of an amendment to ban gay marriage and he is also opposed to the adoption of hate crimes legislation. He joins a growing list of Republicans, religious leaders, and social conservatives whose obsession with all things homosexual seems to suggest they possess a suspect and sullied set of values.
One need not be an expert on airport sexual encounters to be capable of interpreting suspicious behavior that is clearly of a sexually suggestive nature. Further, I'm sure the officer involved in the incident was well trained in identifying such actions.
Generally, I try to reserve my twisted humor and my occasional penchant for crude commentary for my closest friends...but this situation is a classic comic set up that simply demands a response.
As I read the Senator's explanation...the one that stated, "he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom", I have to admit the first thought which entered my mind was to wonder which way the Senators feet were pointing...and that of course led me to wonder if Mr. Craig may have improperly positioned himself on the toilet...you know...such that he was on the receiving end of things.
In defense of my illustrative imagery, the article did indicate that the Senator was being investigated for lewd conduct...I simply allowed my mind to fill in the blanks and embellish the scene.
Now if you'll excuse me...I need to wash my hands and jump in the shower...I'm feeling a little less wholesome all of a sudden.
Tagged as: Closeted, Hypocrisy, Idaho, Lewd Conduct, Senator Larry Craig
Daniel DiRito | August 27, 2007 | 6:28 PM |
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Jon Stewart has some fun with the recent Democratic candidate forum on the Logo Network. The forum was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, an organization focused on LGBT issues.
The Daily Show pulls out all the stops to spoof the event...including what Jon calls The Most Immature Montage Ever...in which they splice the candidates words into a video clip loaded with gay sexual innuendo.
Tagged as: Human Rights Campaign, Jon Stewart, LGBT, Logo, The Daily Show
Daniel DiRito | August 15, 2007 | 3:03 PM |
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After watching the Democratic presidential candidate forum on Logo, I've given some further thought to a few issues that I've pondered for some time and I decided now was the appropriate time to share those thoughts.
Generally speaking, the forum sought to gauge the degree to which each of the candidates supported marriage for same-sex couples...not civil unions, not domestic partnerships, but unions defined by the term marriage and affording the same rights as those of our heterosexual counterparts.
In recent years, there has been debate as to the merit of seeking same-sex marriage as opposed to the pursuit of all of the rights conferred upon a married man and woman under a different moniker such as civil unions, domestic partnerships, or some other term "short" of the word marriage. Some have expressed concern that the insistence upon using the term marriage was, or is, a mistake and an overreach.
Those who have argued as much contend that such a demand may not only slow the process towards the granting of the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples...but it could lead to more backlash designed to impose a constitutional amendment prohibiting such an event from ever happening...and might well preclude the achievement of many or most of the rights that are attainable by virtue of an effort to seek civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Personally, I believe that the LGBT community is entitled to all the rights granted by virtue of marriage and the granting of those rights ought to come with no implied difference and no distinct naming. I argue as much from two perspectives...one, it is a matter of equity and fairness such that LGBT people deserve to be treated no differently...and two, I believe that the establishment of civil unions or domestic partnerships is akin to the legal principle of "separate but equal" and therefore doesn't meet constitutional intent.
At the same time, I have my doubts about the approach to achieving same-sex marriage...doubts that mirror the concerns mentioned above...but also concerns that there is a misconception that the attainment of that right can or will come from the selection of the presidential candidate who will champion that cause. Let me attempt to explain.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel both pledged to champion such a cause and both fully favor granting marriage in its full scope to same-sex couples. All of the other candidates stopped short of that position though they all favored granting the same rights afforded to married heterosexuals but under a name other than marriage.
In pointing out these distinctions between the candidates, one can clearly see that front-runner status is not an accident nor can it be easily achieved. Further, the fact that those candidates who hold views that fully satisfy the goals of the gay community have no real chance of winning the nomination is informative and requires acknowledgment.
There is a tendency to view the positions of the front-runners as a political calculation such that these candidates elect to moderate their views to make themselves more electable and more in tune with "mainstream voters". No doubt there is truth in that observation and while myself and others may find it somewhat objectionable, I also accept that it is a fundamental political reality that cannot be ignored.
At the same time, there is also a tendency to view the positions of men like Kucinich and Gravel as purely authentic and in no way a political calculation...and while that may well be true, they also seek to utilize their views for political gain...albeit with lesser success if one assumes being elected to the presidency is the ultimate prize. Regardless, these men are politicians and they are aware of their goals, their constituents, and the calculations the have and will make to hold office.
With that knowledge, a few things become obvious. Asking or expecting a front-runner candidate to take a position similar to that of Kucinich or Gravel is akin to asking them to become irrelevant...which I would call a self-defeating goal for both the candidate and the voter making the request.
In truth, front-runner status is a function of the positions one espouses and the degree to which that candidate can appeal to more voters in order to win more votes. Front-runner status is also a measure of a candidate’s ability to hold views that may not fully comport with those who will ultimately vote for them...but as a skillful politician they have been able to assure those voters that they are reasonable and mindful of their concerns.
In essence, the front-runner is an artful peacemaker...a broker between polar views who has as his or her goal the narrowing of these ideological gaps in order to achieve a more cohesive nation...and therefore obtain more support and more votes. If a front-runner succeeds in that goal, they have transformed from a politician to a leader...which ought to be the ultimate goal because it has the greatest likelihood to achieve the changes necessary to bring more unity and less conflict.
To proceed, we need to stop and consider recent political history. The current political climate...a function of a thirty year effort on the part of religious conservatives...has taken politics in the opposite direction. That effort culminated in the election of George Bush...and it was achieved using a model diametrically opposite of the one I describe in the prior paragraph.
The Rovian equation sought to use the power of polarization and partisanship to craft a coalition large enough to hold power...premised upon a very narrow ideology that places a priority upon the principles of exclusion and a refusal to compromise. It is a strategy of absolute power; not a plan of practical persuasion...and in that distinction we expose the contrast that exists between leadership and dictatorship.
The fact that the Bush coalition has collapsed is to be expected because, by its nature, it advances absolutism, rewards intransigence, and promotes conflict...and each of those ultimately serve to undermine the coalition as each member group, emboldened by their momentary success, seeks an even narrower adherence to their specific ideology...which eventually leads to the implosion of the coalition as intolerance advances to the point that cohesion cannot be maintained.
Coming back to the position of the gay community...we have come of age in this thirty year environment...and there is a tendency to conclude that the ongoing advancement of our goals must be achieved utilizing the same model which we have battled against for the bulk of our formative years.
In that belief, we are expectedly prone to seek politicians who will embody the dictatorial model...the one we have fought against and the one that is clearly responsible for thwarting our objectives and marginalizing our membership in the society.
In essence, we have come to believe that success flows from power and that power is a function of achieving a majority of fifty one percent and then imposing our ideology on the defeated forty nine percent. Clearly that approach proved effective for religious conservatives for a number of years but I contend that it has reached its predictable end with the presidency of George Bush and his employment of perhaps the most extreme version of this divisive model.
Hoping to replicate this approach in a version that is favorable to the gay community may seem prudent, but I contend that it is fraught with danger and will eventually, without fail, be met by a reversing momentum. It is pendulum politics and it is not only shortsighted; its promise and progress are superficial and razor thin.
Above all else, it does not transform beliefs...it simply elevates those held by the narrow majority while relegating those held by the minority to insignificance. In doing so, it further solidifies intense opposition and guarantees the creation of the animosity necessary to mount a counter-campaign to wrestle power from those who hold it.
As unpopular as this may be, the focus by the gay community on identifying and/or pushing existing candidates into absolute positions with regards to our issues is a misguided effort born of a sincere desire for equality. It is understandable though no less insufficient...and more importantly, it is no longer advisable.
While it is appealing to place responsibility for championing our objectives upon the shoulders of a presidential candidate, it is a mythological exercise reminiscent of the futility of Sisyphus. Simple math provides the proof. Even if we could elect a president fully supportive of our causes (and I contend that can only happen when a majority of Americans will support our cause as well as the candidate who endorses it), they are constrained by the voting mechanisms of those in Congress and they are limited by their election to a four year term.
If by some fluke of luck, we were able to get such a candidate elected, there is no reason to believe they can produce the desired results...and if they pursue those results with the zeal of a George Bush, their reign of authority will soon meet the proverbial brick wall...either through obstruction by those in Congress who disagree or by virtue of being removed from office by fomenting the momentum of those who hold opposing views.
Some may argue that George Bush has been relatively successful employing such an approach...and while that may be true with regards to the war on terror, the invasion of Iraq, and national security...I would posit that social issues are arguably a different animal. Further, the evidence suggests that our supporters in the government affirmed their allegiance to the gay community by blocking an amendment to ban gay marriage...which suggests that while they may not be able to make the pledges we prefer, they have defended us from our enemies so that we...and they...were not precluded from continuing our efforts...slow as they may seem.
Finally, I think another issue must be raised. The gay community will win its battle for full equality when the gay community does the work necessary to change the hearts and minds of those we encounter on a daily basis. Our cause will not be won by coercing political candidates to make the promises we prefer. We live in a free society and our freedom from discrimination will be won when those we live with freely grant us our equality. The passage of laws may cast disfavor on prejudice, but acts of prejudice will feel no more favorable with the passage of laws.
We needn't be silent and we needn't be complacent. In fact, we must be vocal and we must be persistent...but our words and our actions must be geared to persuade the masses; not to commandeer a few politicians in hopes they will succeed in imposing our objectives. I am convinced that there is a large majority of Americans that are fair minded and open to change...but they must be engaged by real people; not dictated to by kept politicians.
Every poll and all of the trends suggest that Americans are moving towards full acceptance of the LGBT community. That movement can best be accelerated when each LGBT person makes the effort to be visible to those they encounter such that they are seen as ordinary human beings with the same feelings and values, hopes and dreams, as their heterosexual counterparts. When the barriers of fear are removed, the obstacles to acceptance are dismantled.
Let me be clear...there are Americans that will never accept the LGBT community...just as there are Americans who will always dislike Italians or Catholics...and that is unfortunate. At the same time, the LGBT community need not waste their time engaging these individuals or attempting to persuade them to change their views. In fact, the more we isolate them and their views, the less influence they will have and the less they will feel emboldened to vocalize their misguided ideology. Better yet, the more we surround them with our newly acquired friends, the less impact they will have as our enemies.
As I watched the forum last night, by and large, I heard and saw the words of friends...people who have been engaged by individuals from the LGBT community and who were persuaded to accept us and to endorse our equality because of the merit of direct human contact.
At the same time, I saw candidates who realize that they alone cannot give the LGBT community all that we want and deserve...even if they want to do so. My only disappointment was that more of the candidates didn't ask the gay community to recommit itself to doing the hard work that accompanies a daily commitment to allow the world to see us as we are...to share in our lives...and to discover that we are their friends, their family members, their coworkers...and their full partners in this wondrous human experience.
If we sincerely want to move beyond these thirty years of acrimony and antagonism, it must begin with a commitment from each of us to listen, to learn, and to live openly and honestly. In the end, if engagement is our purpose...if inclusion is our intention, then our political power will naturally flow from our ability to persuade. If we can make that happen, our shared humanity will become the cornerstone of our strength...and equality for all will ensue.
Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Equality, LGBT, Logo, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | August 10, 2007 | 9:06 AM |
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In a ruling favorable to same sex adoptive parents, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled that an Oklahoma Law designed to ignore adoption orders issued in other states was unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the law violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.
(Denver, Colorado) The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Denver, has upheld a lower court ruling that struck down an Oklahoma law described as being so extreme it had the potential to make children adopted by same-sex couples in other states legal orphans when the families are in Oklahoma.
''We hold that final adoption orders by a state court of competent jurisdiction are judgments that must be given full faith and credit under the Constitution by every other state in the nation,'' the 10th Circuit said in its ruling.
''Because the Oklahoma statute at issue categorically rejects a class of out-of-state adoption decrees, it violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause'' of the U.S. Constitution.
Although single gays may become the parent of adoptive children same-sex couples in Oklahoma were barred from adopting and the law allowed the state to invalidate adoptions where couples have been awarded joint parenting rights in states where co-adoption is legal.
The Adoption Invalidation Law, hastily passed at the end of the 2004 Oklahoma legislative session, had said that Oklahoma "shall not recognize an adoption by more than one individual of the same sex from any other state or foreign jurisdiction."
"This was the most extreme example of punishing children because you don't approve of their parents," said Lambda attorney Kenneth Upton.
When I read about such laws, I'm reminded of those on the religious right who like to assert that gays have a militant agenda. I wonder how one should characterize those who push and pass laws that would seek to invalidate parental rights such that a child is orphaned...is that not militant?
Frankly, the vindictiveness and hatred demonstrated by such laws toward gays is disgusting and the "Christians" who support such legislation are not only militant; they insult everything that Christ represented.
The truth of the matter is that groups organized to oppose gay rights have one sole agenda...to establish homosexuality as illegitimate and to enact as many laws as possible to penalize or criminalize all things associated with homosexuality. They couch their bigotry in the expression that they don't hate the homosexual; just the sin...and then they set out to punish the homosexual. Excuse me, but that's little more than a blatant example of bait and switch bullshit.
Even worse, these vile people believe they are doing god's work in attempting to remove these children from their adoptive parents. I'm sure they would argue they are simply looking out for the child...even though the law gave no consideration to evaluating the family's environment.
These same people routinely ignore children who live in abject poverty, children in homes with abusive and alcoholic parents, children in homes with parents who routinely engage in adulterous affairs...seemingly suggesting that such environments are better for children than living with two loving gay parents.
Yes, I find the actions of those who act to treat homosexuals as second class citizens repulsive. Those who couch their bigotry in the rhetoric of religion are an insult to those who actually live as Christians and its time they be properly identified as the mean spirited and judgmental hypocrites they so aptly portray.
Tagged as: Bigotry, Evangelical Extremists, Fanaticism, LGBT, Religious Right, Same-Sex Adoption
Daniel DiRito | August 4, 2007 | 11:34 AM |
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