Gaylingual: May 2008: Archives
It looks like San Francisco has become the new France (freedom fries anyone?)...at least for some members of the GOP. Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) has taken to featuring those awful "San Francisco values" to attack his Democratic opponent, Kay Barnes.
He's apparently doing this because he wants Missourians to believe that Barnes' singular goal is to take solid midwestern values and transform them into a San Francisco style Sodom & Gomorrah. Unfortunately, the music and images are a miserable melange comparable to what one might expect to find on a late night TV commercial promoting a singles hook-up phone line.
I could be wrong, but it looks to me like Rep. Graves has spent too many restless nights on the couch in front of his television. A more sinister interpretation of the image might suggest that Graves wants his constituents to ponder the slippery slope mentality one would expect to hear from Rick Santorum...you know, the one that thinks gay marriage is just the tip of the iceberg in the progression towards allowing 'man with his favorite pet marriages'.
All that's missing from this multi-racial, pansexual, menage a trois Solid Gold meets Queer as Folk dance club image to complete this ludicrous mindset is a dirty dancing German Shepherd and a pair of "in sync" silver-haired sister spinsters.
Tagged as: 2008 election, Humor, Kay Barnes, Missouri, Rep. Sam Graves, Rick Santorum, Same-Sex Marriage, San Francisco
Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2008 | 8:42 AM |
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In a move that is sure to keep same-sex marriage in the media spotlight, New York Governor David Paterson has issued a directive requiring the state of New York to recognize same-sex marriages from those states and countries where they have been allowed. The governor argues that the move is consistent with long standing New York law...law that has always required recognition of marriages from other jurisdictions.
From The New York Times:
ALBANY -- Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.
The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses.
The directive cited a Feb. 1 ruling by a State Appellate Court in Rochester that Patricia Martinez, who works at Monroe Community College and who married her partner in Canada, could not be denied health benefits by the college because of New York's longstanding policy of recognizing marriages performed elsewhere, even if they are not explicitly allowed under New York law. The appeals court said that New York must recognize marriages performed in other states that allow the practice and in countries that permit it, like Canada and Spain.
Monroe County filed an appeal with the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, but it was rejected on technical grounds. The county has not decided whether to file another appeal, a county spokesman said on Wednesday. The Court of Appeals has previously ruled that the state's Constitution did not compel the recognition of same-sex marriages and that it was up to the Legislature to decide whether do so.
In the larger picture, the move may be part and parcel of a tipping point in the battle over same-sex marriage. At the very least, this action coupled with the ruling of the California Supreme Court, may lead opponents of same-sex marriage to reconsider their opposition to the granting of any of the same rights that are currently afforded to heterosexual marriages.
Until now, opponents of same-sex marriage have been able to ignore the granting of reasonable rights to same-sex couples by placing their focus on same-sex marriage as a threat to the institution and the family. The latest polling in California seems to suggest that more and more citizens are shifting their views on same-sex unions. That shift, assisted by the Supreme Court ruling, may indicate that the issue of equality is beginning to eclipse the fomenting of fear that has been the cornerstone of the religious right's efforts to deny any recognitions that might legitimize homosexuality.
I've long argued that a majority of Americans are ultimately fair minded...though they are frequently slow to shed fears that can prevent them from making objective conclusions. In the case of homosexuality, the religious right has sought to cloak their hatred and bigotry as a simple adherence to morality. Unfortunately, more and more citizens are able to recognize the true agenda of those opposed to same-sex marriage...which is actually an effort to prevent the codifying of any gay rights.
The fact that gays have sought the full array of rights has, to a degree, allowed the religious right the leeway to disguise their agenda as well as distort the agenda of the gay community. That dynamic has served to heighten fears and relegate a rational discussion of basic rights to the back burner.
While I'm concerned that the California ruling has the potential to initiate a backsliding or a backlash against gays, the ruling of the court, coupled with Governor Paterson's clearly articulated justification for granting basic rights and recognitions to same-sex couples, may be the point at which fair Americans realize that they can't allow their reservations about homosexuality to be the impetus to deny rights to their fellow citizens.
The following video is today's announcement by the Governor detailing the directive and the rationale by which it has been issued.
Tagged as: California, Civil Unions, Equality, Gay Marriage, Governor Paterson, LGBT, Massachusetts, New York, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | May 29, 2008 | 10:49 AM |
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In the following video segment, Stephen discusses the Bible and the recent ruling of the California Supreme Court on gay marriage with Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council. Perkins and his organization are rabidly anti-gay and it's obvious that he's uncomfortable throughout his conversation with Colbert (unfortunately many of these right wingers have no sense of humor).
I always enjoy watching the holier than thou squirm when confronted with some of the inconsistencies found in their dogma...and Colbert is one of the best at exposing them. I'm sure Perkins couldn't wait for the segment to end.
Tagged as: Bible, Colbert Report, Faith, Family Research Council, Gay marriage, LGBT, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Stephen Colbert, Tony Perkins
Daniel DiRito | May 28, 2008 | 9:04 AM |
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Sometimes the best way to point out the absurdity of an opinion is to offer one that is even more absurd. The following video does just that.
In taking on the issue of banning homosexuality and offering seven reasons in favor of doing so, the video succeeds in making a credible argument in support of granting gays equal status.
No doubt many of the arguments against granting gays the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts lack rationality. This video helps to highlight the irrationality that is so often a part of prejudice.
Tagged as: Equal Rights, Equality, Gay, Gay Marriage, LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage, Satire
Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2008 | 11:51 AM |
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Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been the standard used by the military to determine if a gay service person should be discharged from the military ever since the first Clinton administration attempted to completely remove the long standing ban. At the time, the DADT compromise was thought to be the best that could be achieved. Despite the change, countless numbers of loyal and committed service persons have had their careers ended simply because they are gay.
That may be about to change if the ruling of an appellate court is allowed to stand. The ruling states that the government can no longer rely upon the assertion that the discharge should be automatic if a service member's homosexuality is disclosed. The government has previously argued that once a service person's homosexuality becomes apparent, it is a threat to unit cohesion and morale. The court ruling disagrees, stating that the government needs to provide evidence to that effect with regard to the individual being discharged.
From The Associated Press:
The military cannot automatically discharge people because they're gay, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in the case of a decorated flight nurse who sued the Air Force over her dismissal.
The three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not strike down the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But they reinstated Maj. Margaret Witt's lawsuit, saying the Air Force must prove that her dismissal furthered the military's goals of troop readiness and unit cohesion.
Wednesday's ruling led opponents of the policy to declare its days numbered. It is also the first appeals court ruling in the country that evaluated the policy through the lens of a 2003 Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas ban on sodomy as an unconstitutional intrusion on privacy.
When gay service members have sued over their dismissals, courts historically have accepted the military's argument that having gays in the service is generally bad for morale and can lead to sexual tension.
Under Wednesday's ruling, military officials "need to prove that having this particular gay person in the unit really hurts morale, and the only way to improve morale is to discharge this person," said Aaron Caplan, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state who worked on the case.
"When the government attempts to intrude upon the personal and private lives of homosexuals, the government must advance an important governmental interest ... and the intrusion must be necessary to further that interest," wrote Judge Ronald M. Gould.
One of the judges, William C. Canby Jr., issued a partial dissent, saying that the ruling didn't go far enough. He argued that the Air Force should have to show that the policy itself "is necessary to serve a compelling governmental interest and that it sweeps no more broadly than necessary."
While the ruling is encouraging, abandoning DADT and removing any restrictions on gays serving in the military may still be a lengthy process. Given the apparent shortage of military personnel, one would think the decision would be an easy one to make.
The recent comments of Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are an indication that the opposition to removing DADT is waning and that the military establishment may not resist its removal should that happen under the next president. Given the need for more troops, perhaps pragmatism has set in. Hopefully this new ruling will accelerate the transformation.
Tagged as: DADT, Discrimination, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Gay, Gays In The Military, LGBT
Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2008 | 10:20 PM |
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The Vatican, through its Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has confirmed that homosexuals must not be granted admission into a seminary. The letter restates the instruction previously offered in 2005. I suspect the inference is that a ban on homosexuals will serve to halt the molestation of children. I think the issue is far more complex and I'll elaborate below.
In a brief letter to the world's bishops, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, underlined that a November 2005 policy statement from the Congregation for Catholic Education is "valid for all formation houses for the priesthood," including those administered by religious orders, the Eastern Catholic churches, and missionary territories.
Cardinal Bertone's letter -- which, he noted, was specifically approved by Pope Benedict XVI -- refers to the Instruction released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in November 2005, saying that neither active homosexuals nor celibate men with "profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies" should be ordained to the priesthood or allowed to begin seminary training.
That Vatican document, which has now been reinforced, instructed bishops and religious superiors to use "painstaking discernment" in appraising the candidates for priestly training. Candidates who are identifiably homosexual are not qualified for ordination, the Vatican said. "In the case of a serious doubt in this respect, they must not admit him to ordination," the document added.
Since the release of the Instruction in November 2005, some bishops and religious superiors had questioned whether the policy was to be applied universally throughout the Church. Cardinal Bertone's letter, which he wrote to all the world's bishops and religious superiors in response "to numerous requests for clarification," answers those questions in the affirmative.
The letter removes a number of uncertainties that resulted from the prior instruction. Many felt the instruction didn't specifically prohibit homosexuals from entering the seminary or the priesthood so long as they didn't act upon their inclinations and remained celibate. The letter makes it clear that the determining factor is the simple existence of homosexual tendencies.
When the instruction was first issued, it drew both praise and criticism in light of the church's long history of hiding and harboring those who had engaged in numerous instances of child molestation. At the time, many who criticized the instruction suspected that homosexuals were apt to bear the brunt of the Vatican's response to the scandal. Regardless, the decision to single out homosexuals was anticipated despite the fact that a number of the molestation's involved children of the opposite sex. In fact, this action is being carried out despite the fact that pedophilia is not an adjunct to homosexuality any more than it is to heterosexuality.
Rather than explore the fact that a system of celibacy may be an innately flawed construct, the church has chosen to place the blame and the responsibility on homosexuals. It's not that simple. I've long contended that the construct of celibacy is apt to appeal to those who feel their sexual desires are inappropriate. The concept of remaining celibate as an act of religious devotion may well lead these individuals to assume that it can be a viable means to suppress the desires they fear.
Choosing religious service may also appear to present a reasonable method to compensate for the guilt that would result from an awareness of the unacceptable nature of desires directed towards children. While this is clearly flawed logic, entering the seminary may appear to be their only palatable means to address the problem.
The fact that many of these individuals engaged in multiple instances of child molestation is evidence that they were in deep denial about their capacity to control their inappropriate desires. At the same time, it is difficult to ignore the flaws in a system that promotes celibacy and then participates in covering up the criminal acts of its own members for forty years without ever exploring the degree to which its own structure contributed to the problem by attracting and enabling perpetrators.
Logic tells us that well-adjusted homosexuals have the same capacity to commit to celibacy as their heterosexual counterparts. The fact that the Church has chosen to address the scandal by concluding that the mere presence of homosexuality should disqualifying candidates from consideration is absurd. Rejecting or removing homosexuals will not put an end to pedophilia any more than it will insure celibacy.
My own experience with the Catholic Church includes numerous instances of priests and nuns engaging in affairs with opposite sex partners and subsequently leaving their positions in the church. Many of these individuals subsequently married and lived normal, productive lives. For years, I've argued that this exodus merely represented the departure of those individuals who were well-adjusted. When this happened, the sexual escapades of countless heterosexual priests and nuns didn't result in an instruction to ban any individual deemed to possess "profoundly deep-rooted" heterosexual tendencies...tendencies they might be prone to act upon. When this occurred, it left behind numerous other clergymen who couldn't come to terms with their sexual orientation and/or sought and needed the cover of the church to enable their criminal actions (pedophilia).
Look, the bottom line is that the Church has always had an obligation to protect children from predators...whether the perpetrators be heterosexually or homosexually inclined. Presumably, they also have a compelling interest in insuring that their members honor their vows of celibacy. Exclusively intertwining homosexuality with the former without any consideration for one's adherence to the latter is clearly an inconsistent application of responsibility and blame. It also ignores reality.
Creating a policy to ban homosexuals is simply the means by which inequitable treatment is being codified. I suspect it is also intended to infer that the Church's forty years of complicity in failing to halt the molestation of children can and should be attributed to the homosexuals they allowed to serve...insinuating that homosexuals are inherently flawed and unfit to serve...regardless of their ability and willingness to remain celibate.
Let me be clear. The Catholic Church isn't bound by the same standards of equality found in civil society. Hence, it is their prerogative to apply church doctrine as they deem appropriate. The position of the church has long been that simply being oriented towards homosexuality isn't wrong in and of itself. At the same time, the Church states that it is always morally wrong to act upon that inclination. Hence salvation is available to gays so long as they never act upon it.
The Church's new position prohibiting homosexuals from entering a seminary is a further step towards negatively distinguishing gays apart from their heterosexual counterparts. In effect, this instruction concludes that gays are unsuitable to serve in the clergy. In doing so, the Church has clearly altered its position. Unfortunately, the assumption that doing so sufficiently addresses the issue of pedophilia cannot be sustained. It also allows the Church to ignore any meaningful discussion of the merits of celibacy or an exploration of whether it was a contributing factor in the child molestation scandal.
Parents taking comfort that this ruling will resolve the long standing child molestation scandal may want to reconsider...especially if their motivation is to insure the safety of their children. The fact that the Church has elected to throw gays under the bus won't insure that the same bus isn't the means by which one's children are being delivered to those who would do them harm.
Tagged as: Cardinal Bertone, Catholic Church, Celibacy, Child Molestation, Gay, Homosexuality, LGBT, Papal Infallibility, Pedophilia, Pope Benedict XVI, Priesthood, Sexual Orientation, Vatican
Daniel DiRito | May 20, 2008 | 10:13 AM |
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In the following video, Pastor Hagee seems to lament that times have changed. In that recognition, it appears that he yearns to return to the world as he used to know it...a world before television and a world where closets were for clothes (a reference to gays that he expands upon in the video).
From my perspective, I support his journey...so long as he returns to the past and the rest of us get to stay here in the present. If he did so, he wouldn't have the opportunity to spew his nonsense on television and those of us who came out of the closet could enjoy a world absent the bloviating and bigotry demonstrated by men of his ilk..
Unfortunately, I don't believe Hagee has any interest in returning to the past; rather he wants to meld the narrow mentality of yesteryear with an intransigent mindset similar to his own...one that seeks to force today's government to adopt his Biblical interpretation of morality.
Regardless, I know I wont be planning a return to the past. Further, if Pastor Hagee believes he can push the gay community back into the closet, he's probably going to be very disappointed.
Perhaps he should ask God to help him build a time machine so that he and his followers can travel as far back in time as they desire. I'll happily spring for the bon voyage party.
Tagged as: Bible, Constitutional Amendment, Gay, God, John Hagee, LGBT, Morality, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Values
Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2008 | 5:36 PM |
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The Family Research Council has followed in the footsteps of Focus on the Family with the introduction a new video segment on their web site. FRC calls their program The Truth in Black & White, and it features Tony Perkins, the president of FRC, and Bishop Harry Jackson.
I've included two of their videos below. In the first, Perkins and Jackson tackle stewardship of the earth and global warming. In the second, they take on the recent ruling of the California Supreme Court to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage.
The contrast found in the logic of these two videos is notable and indicative of the hypocrisy that is so often demonstrated by the religious right. Note that in the first video, Perkins and Jackson suggest that global warming hysteria is fear mongering and a fabrication of men like Al Gore. Apparently the God that speaks to Al Gore is a fraud...and men like Perkins and Jackson are here to tell us which God is real...and which problems the real God wants us to address.
They suggest that while we need to be good stewards of the earth, God knows what he is doing with his creation (the earth and its people) and he will sustain them according to his own plan. In fact, Perkins states that we shouldn't "surrender national autonomy nor do we need to sacrifice the family budget and the income that families are making" when addressing that stewardship. Little did I know that God finds it acceptable for us to put the interests of the United States above those of the rest of the world and that he doesn't expect us to give up any of our wealth in order to preserve his creation. Apparently God intends to subsidize this particular issue.
So let me see if I've got this straight. Men like Perkins and Jackson don't think Americans should sacrifice any of their income to protect the planet...at least not in accordance with Kyoto or any of the plans put forward by the likes of Al Gore. On the other hand, these are the same people who routinely expect their followers to open their wallets and contribute generously to the FRC and the causes they deem to be necessary and in need of immediate attention.
That brings us to the second video which is on the subject of same-sex marriage. In this instance, apparently Perkins and Jackson don't think God has a sufficient plan for addressing the issue of homosexuality...even though God would had to have known it would exist (and had a plan to address it) just like they contend he would have known that fears about the climate of the planet would eventually trouble some of its inhabitants.
Here's where we begin to see the inconsistency and the hypocrisy. Perkins and Jackson conclude that the FRC and the religious right need to step in and take an activist role in preventing gays from obtaining the rights afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. Is this because God's plan is lacking when it comes to gays? Funny how, in this instance, families are routinely asked to dig deep into their budgets to fund the FRC and their efforts to pass amendments in California and other states to ban same-sex marriage. Far be it for me to know what God deems a justified financial sacrifice...though Perkins and Jackson seem convinced they know.
In other words, with regards to global warming, God wants us to be good stewards but we need not and should not do anything drastic because he knows what he's doing and he doesn't expect us to crimp our budgets. On the other hand, he needs us to do everything we can to stop the gays. Is that because he doesn't have a plan or because gays have somehow figured out how to outsmart God? Apparently Perkins and Jackson have concluded that God needs his hetero human subjects to become his proxy warriors in addressing homosexuality because he just can't go it alone.
Perkins and Jackson seem to think all of this is completely black and white...but I contend it is merely more of the same cut and paste pontificating that has come to define their inane ideology. Talking in circles may suffice for those who are willing to suspend rational thought and ignore reasoned analysis...but I find it to be the equivalent of washing the windows with a bucket of dirty water.
Yes, the effort might make one feel better but it sure as hell does nothing to enhance one's view and one's understanding of what lies on the other side. Rather, it serves to preclude those on one side from ever having to consider arguments that might undermine the absolute ideology they embrace and the fears that endear them to it.
In the end, it's obvious that Perkins and Jackson believe that personal faith should intervene in public policy...but only when doing so furthers the issues of faith they have conveniently chosen to cherry pick. Perhaps they think that's black and white. I think it's about as clear as mud.
Tagged as: Al Gore, Bible, California Supreme Court, Family Research Council, Gay Marriage, Global Warming, God, Harry Jackson, LGBT, Religion, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, The Truth in Black & White, Tony Perkins
Daniel DiRito | May 18, 2008 | 10:00 AM |
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I realize I should be excited about the California Supreme Court's decision to remove the ban on same-sex marriage ...but the pragmatist in me simply won't allow it. I'll explain my thinking after the following excerpt on today's ruling.
SAN FRANCISCO -- -- The California Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting state marriage laws as discriminatory.
The state high court's 4-3 ruling was unlikely to end the debate over gay matrimony in California. A group has circulated petitions for a November ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to block same-sex marriage, while the Legislature has twice passed bills to authorize gay marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both.
Schwarzenegger, who has vetoed two measures that would have authorized same-sex marriage, today said he would abide by the court's ruling.
"I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling," he said in a statement. "Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling."
But as early as November, voters could be asked to render their opinion on an amendment that would again attempt to ban same-sex marriage.
A coalition of religious and conservative activists has submitted 1.1 million signatures to qualify the amendment, which would say that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Andrew Pugno, an attorney for the initiative's sponsors, said the Supreme Court decision is a boost for the measure because opponents have been saying there is no real threat that same sex marriages will happen.
"This decision draws a line in the sand and makes it clear that this is the last chance for voters to have a say," Pugno said. "This is proof positive for voters that the courts are out of control and the voters have to step up."
First, the timing of this ruling isn't advantageous. As we approach a critical election in which the Democrats are poised to take the presidency as well as additional seats in the house and the senate, giving the rabid right wing an issue to rally around is apt to boost the GOP's fundraising, motivate evangelicals to get out and vote, allow John McCain to exploit the differences between the GOP and the Democratic Party with regards to same-sex issues (including forcing the Democratic nominee to clarify his or her position on the ruling and same-sex marriage), and give supporters of an amendment to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the California constitution ample ammunition to fund and promote their ballot measure (every right wing organization is going to pour money into this ballot initiative).
Secondly, I believe that the mood of voters had changed since the 2004 election. That change included less of an emphasis on values driven politics and more of a focus on issues that endear voters to the Democratic Party. Today's ruling may return us to the days of God, guns, and gays...with a particular emphasis on gays. Should that happen, it would allow the detractors of the Democratic party to reemphasize the fact that they are generally in favor of extending more rights to gays, accepting of court rulings that expand rights even if the voters wouldn't vote to approve them, and in favor of appointing more judges with similar views.
Let's look at the chronology to better understand the shift that took place since 2004 and the likelihood that this ruling could facilitate a step backwards in terms of renewed voter resistance. Following on the heels of Massachusetts allowing gay marriage as a result of a 2003 court ruling, in February of 2004, San Francisco and other municipalities began issuing marriage licenses to gays. While all of these actions felt empowering and led to numerous celebratory moments, it was short lived (except in Massachusetts) and likely assisted in the passage of amendments to ban same-sex marriage in eleven states.
Following the 2004 election, Iraq, the economy, and other issues pushed the values agenda to the back burner as voters focused on other concerns. The outcome of the 2006 election supports that contention. As we've approached the 2008 election, the general perception has been that God, guns, and gays had fallen into disfavor with voters (or at least been overtaken by other priorities) and would not play a significant part in this election cycle.
If one believes that history repeats itself...and that the U.S. has a history of vacillating between left and right (in a manner reminiscent of a pendulum) when it comes to issue of morality...this ruling could create the momentum needed to effect a shift to the right...or at the very least a halt to the current swing leftward. While these back and forth swings seem inevitable, the timing of this ruling may be the accelerant that sets in motion the unfavorable shifts noted above...sooner than they would have otherwise occurred. That would be a classic example of an unintended consequence...but an unwelcome and unfortunate one no less.
Look, I also believe that the affording of rights can't always be scheduled for maximum advantage...nor should they be delayed accordingly. History will undoubtedly view this ruling as one of the important steps in the chronology of granting gays equal status. Nonetheless, the journey between now and then may well include events that (similar to this ruling), at the time they occur, seem to be a step forward but that ultimately precipitate a temporary step backwards. As such, the soldiers need to be prepared for the times when retreat and retrenchment are the order of the day.
Today is a time for celebrating...but tomorrow may be another story. It is imperative that we remain vigilantly mindful of the impact our actions will have on the ever shifting political terrain. This means that it is essential for us to be aware of the positions each of the combatants holds on the battlefield. In the end, regardless of the victories and defeats, the march towards equality must never cease. Today we've won a battle...tomorrow the war proceeds.
Tagged as: California, DOMA, Equality, Gay, LGBT, Marriage, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court
Daniel DiRito | May 15, 2008 | 11:53 AM |
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Most of us are familiar with the expression, "Be careful what you wish for", though I suspect it rarely keeps us from spending our time hoping to achieve or attain the things we seek. The fact that the California Supreme Court is set to rule tomorrow on whether the state can deny gays the right to marry will likely be a defining moment in our understanding of the concept of the double edged sword.
On the one hand, those who have waited years to have their relationships recognized may see a favorable ruling as the culmination of a dream come true. On the other hand, a favorable ruling will undoubtedly be seen as a nightmare to those who have expended untold energy seeking to prohibit any recognition of same-sex relationships. Hence, how the two sides absorb the outcome will likely have more meaning than the actual ruling.
The California Supreme Court will rule Thursday on the legality of the state's ban on gay marriage.
The justices today posted a notation on the court's Web site that the ruling in the civil rights challenge to the same-sex marriage ban will be posted at 10 a.m. Thursday. The Supreme Court heard arguments in five consolidated legal challenges in March, and had until early June to rule on the issue.
The long-awaited ruling is a crucial test of the simmering public, social and legal debate over gay marriage, triggered in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed thousands of gay and lesbian couples to wed before the courts put a halt to the marriage licenses.
A ruling in favor of gay marriage could stoke a political firestorm in the fall if a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage in California makes it onto the ballot. A decision on whether the initiative qualifies for the ballot is expected in June.
As such, tomorrow will bring both the culmination of hopeful expectations and the delivery of disappointment. Needless to say, that means the ruling is apt to inspire one side while inciting the other. How those perceptions are played out in terms of focus found or fear infused will likely have more to do with deciding the future of gay marriage.
So where will that leave us? Frankly, it leaves us where we've always been...needing to find the means to communicate with those we don't understand in order to remove the misconceptions that serve to maintain what has to be viewed as an untenable status quo.
In the end, without real change, today, tomorrow, and the day after are one and the same so long as the issue of gay marriage remains a zero sum equation in the minds of the combatants. Tomorrow will have a winner...but we'd all be wise to realize that it may not be a victory.
Tagged as: Amendment, California, DOMA, Gay, Gay Marriage, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court
Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2008 | 1:43 PM |
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Focus on the Family, the empire of demagogue James Dobson, has launched a new video feature that gives outsiders an insight into the values they embrace...and they undoubtedly place a lot of value on the acquisition of cash...especially if it can be used to further their fundamentalist agenda.
The Colorado Springs based organization now produces two video segments - one is called Stoplight and the other Turn Signal...catchy metaphors for their desire to put a "stop" to anything they deem in conflict with their Bible based bloviations and to direct people to "turn" away from secular sensibility and accept the dogma they deem to have been sent to them from the divine director.
In the following segment of Stoplight, Stuart Shepard muses on the government's economic stimulus checks and how the money, unjustly taken from voters to fund a flawed government, could be put to better purposes. Of course those purposes include items like banning same-sex marriage and appointing more right leaning judges as well as eliminating a woman's right to choose.
And don't forget the most important purpose...donating more money to Focus on the Family so that Dobson and his disciples can lead lavish lives that support the contention that God rewards good people...with material wealth (prosperity theology). Yes, God thinks the best way to nurture the soul is to stuff a load of cash into the checking account.
You see, the folks at Focus on the Family are strong proponents of marriage...especially the one that unites them with money and the intoxicating power it brings. Apparently they have an updated understanding of the expression, "Charity begins at home". Yes, Jesus was a nice guy...but he could have been far more effective if he had been a well-heeled snappy dresser with a stable of lawyers and lobbyists. After all, apostles and the downtrodden are so passe.
Tagged as: Abortion, Bible, Economic Stimulus Checks, Evangelicals, Focus On The Family, God, Government, James Dobson, Jesus, LGBT, Marriage, Religion, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, Stuart Shepard, Taxes
Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2008 | 11:50 AM |
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No doubt there is a fine line between fact and fantasy. What we know for sure today is that the GOP is in trouble following losses in three congressional districts that by any measure should have been safe Republican seats. That brings us to fantasy...and there may be no better person to explain the degree to which the GOP is living in a fantasy world than the inimitable Alan Keyes.
Keyes has been an outspoken member of the GOP for a number of years. Keyes is also the man the GOP chose to run in the 2004 Senate race against Barack Obama. He is rabidly anti-gay and, as you will see from the video, he is also obsessed with his role in putting an end to all abortions. Let me be clear, I think we should do what we can to reduce the number of abortions...so long as those efforts empower women; not take away their right to choose.
As you watch Keyes explain that his political career is metaphorically similar to an abortion, I will remind you that this is the same man who has disowned his own daughter because she happens to be gay. In his own words, even though he "procreated" her in a "joyful and ecstatic moment" during which he "invited" her into the world, he has exterminated her from his life. Isn't that also the equivalent of aborting his child?
You see, in the end, I believe that voters have been able to see that much of the rhetoric proffered by the GOP is simply a mishmash of inconsistencies and incoherent arguments that lack reasonability and rationality. So the next time someone asks you what you think is wrong with the GOP, suggest that they have become, as Alan Keyes believes, the political equivalency of an abortion...they invite people into their world and then they stab them in the back...metaphorically, of course.
Tagged as: Abortion, Alan Keyes, Choice, Democrats, Gay, God, GOP, LGBT, Religion, Right To Life
Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2008 | 9:02 AM |
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While John McCain has chosen to avoid a repudiation of Pastor Hagee's endorsement of the presumed GOP nominee, it appears that the damage control has commenced. Today, Hagee issued a written apology to Catholics and the apology was accepted by Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. Ahh, yes...a marriage made in heaven...isn't that wonderful?
Like many evangelical pastors, John Hagee is no stranger to controversial statements. With his endorsement of the Arizona Senator, many of the remarks attributed to Hagee have resurfaced...and they are every bit as incendiary as the words that were spoken by Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright...though they haven't garnered near the attention. In the following video clip, Hagee is seen calling the Catholic Church "The Great Whore".
Not to fear. Politics makes for strange bedfellows and none may be stranger than Hagee and Donohue. Take a look at today's exchange of pleasantries.
"Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful," Hagee wrote, according to an advanced copy of the letter reviewed by Washington Wire. "After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism."
In the letter, addressed to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League and one of Hagee's biggest critics, Hagee pledges "a greater level of compassion and respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ."
Hagee's letter explains some of the harsh words he has used when describing the Catholic Church. "I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the 'apostate church' and the 'great whore' described in the book of Revelation" -- both terms Hagee has employed -- "is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary," he wrote.
Donohue, in a response to Hagee's letter, accepted his apology. "The tone of Hagee's letter is sincere. He wants reconciliation and he has achieved it. Indeed, the Catholic League welcomes his apology. What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns. But he has done just that. Now Catholics, along with Jews, can work with Pastor Hagee in making interfaith relations stronger than ever. Whatever problems we had before are now history. This case is closed," Donohue wrote.
Hagee is also known for his derogatory remarks directed towards gays...particularly his assertion that Katrina was simply a matter of God punishing the people of New Orleans. Hagee argued that the upcoming gay pride parade led to the devastating hurricane. His statement in that regard follows.
All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.
The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it would was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades.
So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the Day of Judgment, and I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.
Hagee, subsequent to endorsing McCain, sought to step back from his comments by issuing the following statement.
"As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses. But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us."
Unfortunately, according to the Dallas Morning News, the seeming retraction apparently left a bad taste in the pastor's mouth and that led him to offer the following response to a caller, who asked during a radio appearance, why the pastor had backed away from his comments in the face of criticism.
Hagee said he hadn't. As for the Katrina, he said, God controls hurricanes and "God always punishes unconfessed sin."
Now there seems to have been some confusion at the time. While Hagee was attributing Katrina to the gay pride parade, one of his fellow evangelists, Pat Robertson, was speculating that God was angry because Ellen Degeneres, a lesbian originally from New Orleans, had been chosen to host the upcoming Emmy Awards.
As it turned out, despite all of these revelations and proclamations, the French Quarter, the epicenter of gay life in New Orleans, weathered the storm with minimal damage. Since we know that God controls all natural disasters, I guess we're left to conclude that the good Lord had an off day and simply misfired, leaving the gays unpunished and free to plan the next years parade.
Unfortunately, I had my phone turned off so I missed my own call from the Almighty - otherwise I might have been able to report my own communications and clear up any of the confusion that remains.
So where does this leave us? Well, I can't help but see politics as a numbers game. As such, it's far more important to make nice with the Catholics than with the LGBT community, since the Catholics comprise a larger voting block and they are certainly more closely aligned with the positions of the GOP than the gays and the Democrats. Besides, demonizing gays has always been an effective weapon in the arsenal of people of faith.
That brings me to the protection of marriage...one of the quintessential issues for Christians. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that today's events demonstrate that even a marriage of convenience trumps a same-sex marriage. Therefore, it is far easier for evangelicals and Catholics to kiss and make up, under the umbrella of the GOP, than it would be for any of them to alter their stance on portraying gays and gay marriage as the source of all that ails society.
The funny thing is...I've always thought that Christians frowned upon acts of prostitution...and engaging in a menage a trois. Little did I know that God would rather bless the union of three trick-turners than the loving relationships of two homos. It just goes to show that politics and prostitution have a lot in common...and if you think about it...they have maintained a long standing and fruitful connection. After all, isn't staying together through thick and thin...while procreating more of the same...what marriage is supposed to be about?
With this newfound awareness, I know you'll understand my need to excuse myself...I've got to go confess my sins...I just can't bear to be the one with the sullied soul who causes the next calamity.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bill Donahue, Catholic League, Catholicism, Confession, Evangelicals, Gay Marriage, Gays, God, Jeremiah Wright, John Hagee, John McCain, Katrina, LGBT, New Orleans, Pat Robertson, Prostitution, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | May 13, 2008 | 11:35 AM |
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The gall of the religious right never ceases to amaze. Time and again, they demonstrate that hypocrisy is an essential element of their ideology. While many of these zealots frequently demonstrate their willingness to preach one thing and do another, their latest endeavor seems determined to take it to a whole new level.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal advocate for the right wing, is calling on churches to voice their positions on political candidates en masse on September 28th in order to create the grounds to challenge the constitutionality of the current tax code. As it now stands, the IRS guidelines prohibit churches from directly endorsing or rejecting political candidates in order to maintain their tax exempt status. The ADF wants to overturn the provision on the grounds that it circumvents their First Amendment rights and is therefore unconstitutional.
From The Washington Post:
The Alliance Defense Fund, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., will ask the clergy to deliver a sermon about specific candidates Sept. 28. If the action triggers an IRS investigation, the legal group will sue to overturn the federal rules, which were enacted in 1954.
Under the IRS code, churches can distribute voter guides, run voter registration drives, hold forums on public policy and invite politicians to speak at their congregations.
However, they cannot endorse a candidate, and their political activity cannot be biased for or against a candidate, directly or indirectly.
The Alliance Defense Fund said Friday that the regulations amount to an unconstitutional limit on free speech and government intrusion into religion.
"Churches have for too long feared the loss of tax exempt status arising from speech in the pulpit addressing candidates for office," the ADF's white paper on the campaign confirmed. "Rather than risk confrontation, pastors have self-censored their speech, ignoring blatant immorality in government and foregoing the opportunities to praise moral government leaders.
"ADF believes that IRS restrictions on religious expression from the pulpit, whenever the IRS characterizes it as 'political,' is unconstitutional. After 50 years of threats and intimidation, churches should confront the IRS directly and reclaim the expressive rights guaranteed to them in the United States Constitution," the group said.
"The intimidation of churches by leftist groups using the IRS has grown to a point that ADF has no choice but to respond," said Erik Stanley, senior counsel for the ADF. "The number of threats being reported to ADF is growing because of the aggressive campaign to unlawfully silence the church.
Where to begin. First, I doubt the courts would rule in favor of the ADF since churches have always had the option to forego their tax exempt status. The bottom line - they elect their tax status knowing the conditions. I personally believe they shouldn't be tax exempt and it wouldn't surprise me if this misguided effort opens the door to discussing that possibility.
Beyond that, the dividing line between church and state is a complex matter that has been addressed numerous times by the courts. I suspect that the ADF believes that the shift to the right in the Supreme Court under the Bush administration may be to their benefit. Regardless, there is ample precedent that would need to be ignored in order for ADF to prevail.
Setting aside the legal argument, I want to focus on some of the inconsistent positions that emanate from the religious right...positions that lead me and many others to decry their penchant for hypocrisy. Two issues jump off the page.
The first is federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. President Bush and his supporters have argued that the government shouldn't provide funding for such research. The rationale for their objections is predicated upon ethical concerns that have their origin in religious doctrine. At the same time, he and those who support the ban on federal funding loudly note that they aren't preventing state and private funding for this research.
Hence the inconsistency is revealed. On the one hand, the religious right believes that it is appropriate for the president to deny funding for research that could assist numerous Americans that have no religious objections to the use of embryonic stem cells. They argue that those in favor of doing so can still conduct the research...just without the endorsement (funding) of the federal government. In other words, no one's rights are being denied so long as the research is allowed to proceed. If you favor it, fund it privately...but your federal government isn't going to use your money to do so.
On the other hand, those who endorse the logic in the above argument believe the federal government shouldn't be allowed to prohibit churches from engaging in partisan politicking in exchange for granting them an exemption from taxation. Where does that leave us? Well, it says that these individuals want the government to forego funding research that conflicts with their religious beliefs while also allowing them to use the pulpits of the churches they support to influence the outcome of elections...without those churches ever being required to pay taxation. If that isn't wanting to have it both ways, what is?
Contrast that with the secular citizen who pays taxes and wants the government to fund research that might save lives and one begins to see the absurdity of the system these religious demagogues favor. Truth be told, many of these religious organizations have already established "arms length" political entities that circumvent the IRS codes. Anyone who doubts their aspirations for the establishment of a theocracy ought to think again. The ADF directive is simply the next step in a well-crafted agenda.
The second item that illuminates the inconsistency in the rationale of the religious right is gay marriage. Proponents of measures to ban same-sex marriages contend that same-sex couples can achieve many of the same benefits that are afforded to married couples by utilizing the appropriate legal documentation. Of course they fail to mention that the lion's share of benefits cannot be achieved through any means...especially those that relate to taxation.
At the same time, they argue that the preservation of the institution of marriage and it's religious connotations is reasonable so long as the government isn't preventing gays from forming the relationships they choose. In other words, it's reasonable to restrict marriage to one man and one woman so long as the government allows gays to form the relationships they choose. The bottom line message to gays - you elect your tax status knowing the conditions.
When gays assert that this is an unfair system, the religious right is the first to cite those objections as evidence of the militant homosexual agenda and the desire of gays to force society to accept and embrace their alternative lifestyle.
Again, we begin to see the inconsistency. On the one hand, the religious right argues that the government has no obligation to recognize same-sex unions...and those who enter into them do so knowing the precedent conditions. You want a gay spouse, you don't benefit from the advantageous tax status afforded to recognized marriages. On the other hand, they want the government to recognize religious doctrine when determining whose marriages will receive beneficial treatment while also wanting their churches to receive preferential tax status absent conditions...conditions that are simply intended to uphold the separation of church and state.
Similar arguments can be made with regards to the religious right's positions on a number of issues. This includes a woman's right to have an abortion and the rights of an individual or their family members to make end of life decisions. Time and again, the religious right seeks to insert and impose their beliefs on those who do not share them while simultaneously asking the government to adopt a laissez-faire mentality with regards to monitoring the separation of church and state.
I find it amusing that those who routinely point out that the spiritual realm supersedes all else spend so much of their time in the pursuit of all things political and material. Then again, the newly emerging prosperity theology suggests that the attainment of success (wealth and worldly measures) is undoubtedly evidence that one is appropriately aligned with the Lord.
Silly me...why on earth would I conclude that any of the above positions are hypocritical. I just pray that God will help me abandon rational and reasoned thought in favor of the fabrications that come with faith. I need to accept that the teachings of Jesus Christ have nothing to do with today's Christianity. Come to think of it, maybe that's the reason the religious right insists that everyone has to be born again.
Image courtesy of TBogg
Tagged as: Abortion, Alliance Defense Fund, Amendment, Christ, Christianity, Church & State, Constitution, Embryonic Stem Cell, Gay, George W. Bush, IRS, Jesus, LGBT, Marriage, Religion, Religious Right, Same_Sex Marriage, Secularism, Supreme Court, Tax Exemption
Daniel DiRito | May 11, 2008 | 9:45 AM |
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Don't be fooled by the religious right's assertion that they simply want to protect marriage and the family. Implicit in their efforts to pass legislation and constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage is an intention to slam the door on any measure that would grant rights or recognition to gays.
Should there be any doubt, take a look at today's Michigan Supreme Court ruling. In a case designed to determine the scope of an amendment passed in the state in 2004, the court upheld an appeals court ruling that prohibits Michigan's universities, colleges, and municipalities from providing health coverage to the partners of same-sex couples.
From The Associated Press:
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Local governments and state universities in Michigan can't offer health insurance to the partners of gay workers, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The court ruled 5-2 that Michigan's 2004 ban against gay marriage also blocks domestic-partner policies affecting gay employees at the University of Michigan and other public-sector employers.
The decision affirms a February 2007 appeals court ruling.
Up to 20 public universities, community colleges, school districts and local governments in Michigan have benefit policies covering at least 375 gay couples. After the appeals court ruled, universities and local governments rewrote their policies to try to comply with the gay marriage ban -- so the effect of Wednesday's decision is unclear.
The voter-approved law, which passed 59 percent to 41 percent, says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage "or similar union for any purpose."
The language utilized by proponents of amendments to limit marriage to one man and one woman has been left intentionally vague in order to allow the restrictions to be expanded following passage. Ironically, the same people who accuse Democrats and liberals of favoring "activist judges" seek to use the courts to further their agenda to remove any recognition of rights for gays subsequent to the passage of these amendments.
The lack of clarity leaves the door open to arguing that these amendments actually intend to limit more than just recognition of same-sex marriages. In fact, the goal of those sponsoring such amendments is to nullify all prior state or municipal legislation that remotely seeks to recognize or codify the rights of gays. Specifically, these amendments are often targeted to overrule recognitions passed by large urban municipalities that have typically had a greater concentration of liberals or Democrats.
Time and again, the proponents of these amendments attempt to first pass the broadest possible language, and should that be struck down, they grudgingly expand the language...but only enough to pass judicial muster. The first such amendment to garner nationwide attention was passed in Colorado in 1992. Amendment 2 would have voided laws passed in cities like Denver and Boulder that were intended to grant protections to gays in housing and employment. Fortunately, the Colorado Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower courts ruling that found the amendment to violate the equal protections discussed in Colorado's constitution.
Amendment 2 was a miscalculation on the part of its proponents. They predicated their efforts upon an assumption that the courts were by and large unsympathetic to measures passed by city councils and their removal was simply a matter of forcing those items to be reviewed by the higher courts. The strategy failed miserably. Since the Colorado amendment drew so much attention, sponsors of subsequent amendments have used that case as a guide in crafting the language of future amendments. No longer could they count on the inherent bias against the passage of rights for gays that had previously dominated the court system.
The new strategy focuses on protecting the institution of marriage in order to win the approval of more voters. Knowing that a majority of Americans likely object to gays being able to enter into traditional marriages, these measures are designed to capitalize on that sentiment while secretly being crafted to allow them to go much further.
The Michigan case is a classic example of this bait and switch strategy. Most observers do not believe that the state's voters intended to revoke the provision of health care coverage for same-sex couples...or to restrict or rollback any other measures intended to protect gays from inequitable discrimination. Unfortunately, the supporters of the amendment wrote the measure with such objectives in mind and they regularly consult with legal scholars to determine the eventual outcomes that can be achieved with the chosen language.
Look, I realize that politics is a contact sport. Nonetheless, I am troubled when these individuals, who seek to be portrayed as bastions of Christian values, become the primary purveyors of disingenuous measures designed to promote their discriminatory ideologies. And yes, I realize they believe they are simply seeking to enforce the precepts of their faith...as they choose to interpret it from the Bible. Regardless, I don't recall that the good book endorses deception and deceit as an acceptable means to expand dogma.
Tagged as: Amendment 2, Bible, Bigotry, Christian, Colorado, Discrimination, Evangelical, Gay, God, LGBT, Marriage Amendment, Michigan, Morals, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, Values
Daniel DiRito | May 7, 2008 | 11:19 AM |
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This is priceless. The following video is apparently a legitimate advertisement for men seeking to overcome their homosexuality. The fact that it is filled with homoeroticism only reinforces my belief that many of these men are tortured Christians with...
Tagged as: Christian, David Pickup, Gay, Homoeroticism, Homosexuality, Humor, LGBT, Religion, Reparative Therapy, Values, WorkOUT
Daniel DiRito | May 6, 2008 | 3:10 PM |
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The religious right likes to be seen as the moral compass of the country...though they rarely want the country to fully understand that their focus on denying any rights to gays is their primary objective. Yes, they talk incessantly...
Tagged as: Bible, Civil Rights, Discrimination, ENDA, Equality, God, LGBT, Pro Vita Advisors, Religion, Religious Right, Wells Fargo
Daniel DiRito | May 1, 2008 | 8:46 AM |
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