Gaylingual: June 2008: Archives
Did you know that Tim Gill is a homosexual activist who operates under the radar as a stealth politico intent on changing the political landscape and adding the scalps of God fearing Christians to his belt? This latest video offering from Focus on the Family's Turn Signal has to be one of their most transparent attempts to pander to their followers by portraying gay activism as a sinister effort to undermine conservative family values.
As I watched this video, I couldn't help but think back to my days in commercial real estate. OK, I'm sure you're wondering how in the hell is this related to the FOF video? Stay with me. After spending fourteen years in the business, I honed my skills at spotting tenants who were manipulative and on the precipice of having financial problems. One of the tell-tale signals was a sudden surge in complaints about their space...the AC wasn't working right, the janitorial staff was doing a lousy job, the tenant next door was too loud, and on and on.
Generally speaking, the strategy was to go on the offensive and portray oneself as a victim in anticipation of lacking the wherewithal to pay the rent or fulfill the remaining term of one's lease. When I first started in the business, these tenants had me standing on my head trying to please them, but over time I realized that more often than not, their complaints had nothing to do with me or the service our company was providing. It was simply the strategy of a cash strapped tenant to create mitigating circumstances for the moment when they were unable to pay rent...and their ultimate goal usually included being let out of their lease.
That brings me back to Focus on the Family and this video segment. First, Focus on the Family is far from bankrupt; having total receipts in excess of 140 million dollars each of the last three years. However, when one looks more closely, the arm of the organization that funds political activities, Focus Action, has seen a steady decline in revenues over the last three years.
In 2005, total receipts were just over 25 million with 6.84 million coming from direct public support...in 2006, total receipts were 15.16 million with 6.75 million coming from direct public support...and in 2007 total receipts were 9.8 million with 5.16 coming from direct public support.
Again, this is still a healthy amount of money and I'm not inferring that Focus Action is financially unsound. The point I'm making is that this video reminds me of the strategic smokescreens I witnessed in commercial real estate. In other words, the message to the followers (benefactors) is that the big bad gay bogeyman, who has a boat load of cash, is surreptitiously bankrolling the defeat of countless Christian conservatives, and unless the folks at FOF ante up, it's only going to get worse.
The powers that be at Focus know that the best way to milk the cash cow is to yank the collective chain of the misinformed minions...and nothing works better than questioning the veracity of the enemy while portraying oneself as the righteous victim. Look at the language they utilize in describing Gill and his efforts...flying under the radar...stacking the deck...he targeted 70 conservative candidates...here's how it works...his wealthy homosexual activist friends...control his image...what this man is up to. Clearly the goal is to make the viewer aware of Gill wealth...but even more importantly to make the viewer believe that he is deceptive and manipulative.
The truth of the matter is that Gill is a well-known figure on the political front and as an activist for the LGBT community. His activities are routinely reported in Colorado and in the national media and his organization is visible and accessible. Unlike James Dobson, Gill doesn't seek the spotlight. The truth of the matter is that reflects more on Dobson's motivations and modus operandi than upon Gill's. I suspect that's an irritation to Dobson's ego and all the more reason to vilify Gill.
The point I'm making is that men like Dobson are always aware of their waning influence and wherewithal...and that leads them to strike out like a cat backed into a corner. I could be wrong, but given Dobson's recent attacks on Barack Obama, his certain awareness that many in the religious community may vote Democratic in November, and the growing shift in the causes of interest to many up and coming religious leaders (causes of little interest to establishment evangelicals like poverty and climate change), I suspect he feels his kingdom is being threatened.
Then again, I would think a man of Dobson's faith would be focused on the blessings of the afterlife he so frequently espouses. In the end, it isn't that difficult to identify and understand the relevant contrasts and distinctive differences between Tim Gill and James Dobson. It's sure funny how actions speak louder than words, isn't is?
Tagged as: Activism, Climate Change, Focus Action, Focus on the Family, Gill Action, Gill Foundation, James Dobson, LGBT, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Tim Gill
Daniel DiRito | June 28, 2008 | 10:14 AM |
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Apparently the best medicine for wing nuts who put their putters where they don't belong is to sponsor a constitutional amendment to protect marriage...since it's clear they didn't value the ones they were in.
Page One Q reports that Larry Craig, the wide stance toilet stall tap dancer, and David Vitter, the Christian commissar of clandestine call girl get-togethers, have joined together with other stalwart senators (not in a bathroom stall, mind you) to introduce the measure.
From Page One Q:
Two United States Senators implicated in extramarital sexual activity have named themselves as co-sponsors of S. J. RES. 43, dubbed the Marriage Protection Amendment. If ratified, the bill would amend the United States Constitution to state that marriage "shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman."
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who was arrested June 11, 2007 on charges of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport terminal, is co-sponsoring the amendment along with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
I'm baffled by the logic these two senators are employing in putting their sullied signatures on an amendment designed to protect marriage from the homos. I just don't get how defining marriage to be between one man and one woman is going to help when these two and so many others already have major problems keeping count.
You see, for years, many of the marriages...between one man and one woman...have ended because one of the parties messed with the math...and the secretary, and the hooker, and the intern, and the guy in the next bathroom stall...if you know what I mean.
As I've tried to get my head around the benefits of Craig and Vitter sponsoring this amendment, I could only come up with one plausible explanation. They know that all you have to do to win the favor of the rabidly anti-gay constituents they represent is to keep feeding them the red meat they thrive upon. In other words, to hell with hypocrisy...the gays are coming...and we can't have that.
Rather than spend any more time attempting to understand the minds of these men or the constituents who support them, I think the following graphic will suffice.
Tagged as: Adultery, David Vitter, Humor, Hypocrisy, Larry Craig, Marriage, Marriage Amendment, Same-Sex Marriage, U.S. Constitution
Daniel DiRito | June 27, 2008 | 10:41 PM |
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On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Lawrence v. Texas. In that ruling, the sodomy laws still in existence in 13 states were overturned, homosexual sex was no longer criminalized in America, and homosexuals were finally brought into the protections of the constitution. The ruling was sweeping, overturning the prior 1986 case, Bowers v. Hardwick, which had ruled that sexual privacy was not protected by the constitution.
The following documentary, Overruled!, produced by Lamda Legal, chronicles the events surrounding the case, the legal issues that confronted the homosexual community as a result of the existing sodomy laws, the challenges confronting the legal team, and the eventual ruling from the United States Supreme Court.
The case and the ruling may well be the most significant event in the history of gay rights and this video is a worthwhile recounting of that historic case. The video premiered online yesterday and it runs just under twenty minutes. If you would like to order a copy of the video, you can do so here.
Tagged as: Bowers v. Hardwick, Gay Rights, Lamda Legal, Lawrence v. Texas, LGBT, Sodomy, U.S. Supreme Court
Daniel DiRito | June 27, 2008 | 9:50 PM |
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An Ohio science teacher seems to think that his Christian beliefs grant him the authority to support creationism while undermining the theory of evolution, to disregard the scientific evidence of the age of the earth and the universe, and to brand his students with the image of a cross (see video below). After years of complaints about the teacher's inappropriate insertion of his religious ideology, the cross burning incident has finally led the school board to terminate him.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio -- Supporters of John Freshwater stood in a parking lot yesterday asking God to inspire the school board to make the right decision.
Three hours later, the board announced that it intends to fire Freshwater, an eighth-grade science teacher.
Freshwater preached his Christian beliefs about how the world began, discredited evolution and didn't teach the required science curriculum, the board says. He was told to stop teaching creationism and intelligent design, but he continued to do so, an investigation found.
Complaints about Freshwater's teachings were made by teachers and people in the community for at least 11 years, a school administrator told consultants. Freshwater has taught eighth-grade science in the district for 21 years.
In April, the school board hired HR On Call Inc. to investigate Freshwater, four months after the parents of a child in his class said he had burned a cross into the child's arm, causing swelling and blistering.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
Freshwater told investigators the marks were X's, not crosses. But all of the students interviewed in the investigation reported being branded with crosses. The investigation report includes a photo of one student's arm with a long vertical line and a short horizontal line running through it.
A teacher who worked in Freshwater's classroom last year also reported to investigators that Freshwater told his class that homosexuality is a sin.
Freshwater's friend Dave Daubenmire defended him.
"With the exception of the cross-burning episode. ... I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district," he said.
"Do you think there are other teachers in the public classroom that are trying to drive their opinions in the classroom?" Daubenmire asked. "I don't care who you are. You cannot separate your value system from your teaching."
Look, Mr. Freshwater is entitled to his own beliefs. Unfortunately, like so many other Christians, he feels compelled to impose those beliefs on others. Even worse, he appears determined to allow his Biblical beliefs to overshadow his role as a teacher of established and credible science. If Freshwater wants to teach theology, then he shouldn't be doing so in a science class.
I took note of the remarks of his friend, Dave Daubenmire, in defending Freshwater's actions as consistent with the values of parents in the school district. Unfortunately, a science education has nothing to do with teaching religious doctrine...regardless of how many parents share Freshwater's beliefs. Frankly, the actions of Freshwater and his supporters demonstrates the confrontational strategy being embraced by more and more Christians. Sadly, their beliefs are so rigid and intransigent that nothing short of teaching directly from the Bible is satisfactory.
Take a look at how the Christian media reports the story.
But a spokesman for Freshwater, Dave Daubenmire, downplayed the parents' accusations and called the investigation one-sided, with "old trumped-up charges brought back to the table."
Daubenmire insisted to WND that the "cross branding" was nothing of the sort. He characterized it as a science experiment Freshwater had been doing for 21 years in which he made X marks, not crosses, on the students' skin with a Tesa Coil to demonstrate electrical current.
Daubenmire pointed out experts have affirmed the experiment causes no injury to students.
Daubenmire argued that the accusations about teaching intelligent design or creationism date back to 2003, when Freshwater was challenging students to "clinically analyze evolution."
Just after the accusing family hired an attorney, school officials told Freshwater he had to remove all religious items from his classroom, including a personal Bible he had on his desk.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, says, "Mr. Freshwater advised his students that although he is forced to teach from the textbooks, the teachings are wrong or not proven according to the Bible."
As WND reported, Freshwater took down the Christian items but refused to remove his Bible, which he has kept on his desk for 18 years.
Daubenmire, of Pass The Salt Ministries and Minutemen United, explained to WND at the time that Freshwater had not used the Bible in his interaction with students. But he said the teacher also believed he should not forfeit his constitutional rights just because of his occupation.
So were supposed to view Mr. Daubenmire as an impartial witness...regardless of his religious affiliations? Additionally, aren't we being asked to see Mr. Freshwater as a victim...a man who has had his constitutional rights abridged? Never mind that the separation of church and state prohibits the activities he insists on incorporating in his role as an educator.
The truth of the matter is that a number of Christians are convinced they are engaged in a war which means they are required to challenge and confront any and all aspects of culture and society that are in conflict with their beliefs. I'm convinced that this faction is constantly looking for opportunities to overturn existing laws and impose legislation that is consistent with their interpretations of the Bible.
Take a look at Mr. Daubenmire's profile.
Radically born-again in 1987, I was honored that the Lord had called me to the fight. Although a pew-sitting, selfish Christian, I learned quickly that if we were to turn back the hand of the oppressor, sitting in the pew and praying for God's grace would not be enough. As I had shared with our teams over the years, it was time to take what we had learned to the field. No battle, no victory.
After twenty-five years in the system, the Lord had other plans for me. I walked away from coaching football, my teaching career and cozy retirement benefits and gave my life to "coaching the church". Lord knows the church needs it. We started Pass the Salt Ministries and will travel wherever we find a listening ear and a open pulpit.
Using a local radio show I began to cry-out for Christian men who were willing to stand and fight. Out of this cry came Minutemen United a band of like-minded Christian brothers and sisters who are not afraid to take our faith to the streets. Over the past five years we have:
Successfully battled entry level pornography in Meijers Department stores.
Fought for the 10 Commandment displays in Ohio.
Journeyed to Alabama and defended Judge Roy Moore and the Rock.
Helped get Ohio's Marriage amendment on the ballot.
Spent a week in Fla. Defending Terri Schiavo.
Kept a steady presence at our local abortion clinic.
Passed out "Living Water" bottles at Columbus' Gay Pride parade.
From Pass The Salt:
PASS THE SALT was formed to encourage the Body of Christ to step into the cultural war. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood..." PASS THE SALT is convinced that God has given the Body a window of opportunity to take our culture back.
PASS THE SALT is committed to bringing together the body of Christ across denominational, racial, and economical borders to demonstrate to America the power of Biblical unity. Our vision is to unite, organize, and mobilize the Army of God to be SALT and Light as stated in MATTHEW 5:12.
Now really, are we to conclude that the relationship between Daubenmire and Freshwater has nothing to do with their desire to push a particular agenda? I suspect that this situation is a calculated assault designed to garner the attention of other religious minded individuals that are sympathetic to the notion that Christians are being victimized.
I'm of the opinion that this effort is far more organized than one might expect. I'll offer two examples to support that possibility. First, there is a concerted effort underway to have churches violate the requirements of their tax exempt status this coming election by making specific candidate endorsements. The purpose of this effort is to establish the grounds under which they can assert that their first amendment rights are being violated. The goal is to remove the prohibitions contained in the notion of separation of church and state.
Second, I've taken note of the rhetoric being offered by James Dobson and his minions at Focus on the Family in response to a speech given by Barack Obama in 2006. Specifically, Tom Minnery makes a concerted effort to argue that America is a "Christian nation"...a phrase that is being aggressively pushed by many of those associated with the religious right. Minnery goes on to argue that religious doctrine is an effective tool with which to direct society and that it is the inherent principle underlying the establishment of this country. The goal of this argument is to further blur the lines between church and state until we reach the point where religion is accepted as the a priori foundation for our system of governance.
Here's some quotations from the discussion between Dobson and Minnery on the radio broadcast that suggest as much.
From Lavender Newswire:
Minnery: "I mean, read what George Washington said about that: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." That's our first president."
Minnery: "Our second president, John Adams, said: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
For 18 minutes, Dobson excoriated Obama for his political stands -- especially Obama's belief that a politician must take into account a variety of views on moral issues.
"Now that is a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution," Dobson said. "This is why we have elections. To support what we believe to be wise and moral. We don't have to go to the lowest common denominator of morality, which is what he is suggesting."
Again, I contend that the goal is to reach the point at which the accepted constitutional interpretation is that religious ideology can and should be directly applied to all aspects of government. In the end, the goal is to suggest that any limitation on religious expression as it relates to government is a violation of freedom of speech and expression. The calculation assumes that since a large majority of Americans are Christians, they would be amenable to enacting religiously inspired legislation by majority rule.
The only remaining obstacle would be the court system...and one would have to live in a bubble to have missed the deliberate effort to portray the judiciary in a bad light. If these ideologues can convince the public that the judiciary must be bound by majority rule...and that any ruling inconsistent with that construct can and should be invalidated as an act of judicial activism...they will have succeeded in establishing a virtual theocracy. In such an environment, minority rights (Dobson cleverly describes them as the lowest common denominator) would be disregarded whenever they failed to meet the acceptable religious standards of the majority.
In the end, they seek to effect the rejection of a secular society that affords the same rights to all people regardless of religious beliefs...or the lack thereof. While they currently avoid calling for the government to apply Biblically defined punitive actions against those who violate their brand of religious ideology (homosexuality is wrong but they allow it so long as it is never viewed as acceptable moral behavior or granted any legislative legitimization), there is little reason to believe that they wouldn't seek to roll back the rights already granted as well as impose prohibitions (reinstating sodomy laws).
I personally believe that if these zealots were to ever attain the power they seek, they would soon begin to impose punitive measures...arguing that a Christian nation cannot succeed if it fails to uphold and enforce the accepted ideology. Further, they would feel justified in carrying out such actions and dissent would be stifled as little more than a blatant display of blasphemy.
In the end, those who look at the Taliban and Sharia Law as the embodiment of theocratic tyranny would be well served to consider the similarities found in all those who promote an intransigent ideology. Truth be told, there is a fine line between the concept of "live and let live" and its incorrigible opposite, "live this way or die".
Tagged as: Barack Obama, Bible, Carbon Dating, Christian, Church & State, Courts, Creationism, Dave Daubenmire, Evangelical, Evolution, Focus On The Family, Intelligent Design, James Dobson, John Freshwater, Judiciary, LGBT, Morality, Mount Vernon Middle School, Pass The Salt, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Theocracy, Tom Minnery, U.S. Constitution, Values
Daniel DiRito | June 26, 2008 | 10:47 AM |
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There are those in the LGBT community that have questioned Barack Obama's commitment to the enactment of full equality...including the right to marry. Generally speaking, Obama supports the bulk of legislation favored by the LGBT community though the Illinois Senator has voiced his preference for civil unions rather than marriage. That particular position has understandably garnered Obama a fair amount of criticism.
While it's reasonable to push Senator Obama to support same-sex marriage, LGBT voters would be unwise to conclude that John McCain is a reasonable alternative. The following video provides an overview of the Arizona Senator's position on the issues most important to the LGBT community. McCain is clearly opposed to those measures that would do the most to insure LGBT equality and that puts him in line with George Bush. He's simply not an acceptable choice.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Adoption, Barack Obama, ENDA, Gay, John McCain, LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | June 25, 2008 | 12:13 PM |
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For those of us that may be under the misconception that the religious wing nuts are capable of demonstrating some measure of restraint in their assault on the LGBT community, it's time to think again. Truth be told, I suspect many of these people feel they are entitled to meet out whatever punishment their "Holy Bible" would allow.
Last week, I published a posting that included the new gay friendly Heinz Deli Mayo ad being launched in the UK. Well, the American Family Association (AFA) launched a phone and email assault on Heinz and got the company to pull the ad after it ran for only a week. Apparently the AFA thinks they have a vested interest in the families in the UK and what they watch on television. Here's some excerpts from the AFA action alert:
I thought you might be interested in seeing the Heinz ad featuring a homosexual family and two homosexuals kissing.
The ad features a "homosexual family," referring to one of the men as "Mom."
We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz. This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the U.S. soon. It is the kind of ad which we can expect to see in California as they prepare to vote on homosexual marriage. Homosexual marriage is illegal in England.
Send an email letter to Heinz.
Make a phone call to Heinz. Their corporate headquarters' phone number is 412-456-5700 and their toll-free number is 800-255-5750.
Oh yes, this is undoubtedly an evil homosexual family...one that includes a New York Deli worker (BTW, he was called "mum", not mom...but AFA members might not get what that means) and his British husband and child...and if that isn't bad enough...they're headed to California to get married...and their poor child will be put through the humiliation of being the ring bearer...and then they'll serve sandwiches slathered with that sinful looking Heinz Deli Mayo at their reception...and then they'll move back to the UK and force same-sex marriage on unsuspecting Brits!
OK, at what point do we call these people what they are...raving lunatics who are obsessed with making all things gay the object of their every waking moment. Honestly, I can't help but think that men like Donald Wildmon, the founder and chairman of AFA are closet queers. What amazes me is his apparent belief that gays have any interest in him or his twisted followers.
Trust me Donny boy, I don't know a single gay person that would give you the time of day...let alone seek to convert you and yours. At the same time, I have no doubt that you know where all the gay bookstores are located, where you can find a gay prostitute, and where you can live out your gay fantasies online. After all, we know you're leading the effort to ban porn at the Marriott. No doubt you took it upon yourself to order up several flicks to have proof of the smut they're selling...just like watching that nasty show Swingtown, eh? If you need help locating anything else sinful, I can hook you up with a boat load of fallen preachers who have the inside track on every seedy situation you can imagine.
Anyway, those who are interested in contacting Heinz and offering another perspective on the Deli Mayo ad, here's some options in addition to the phone numbers noted above:
email@example.com with copy to firstname.lastname@example.org, Ted.Smyth@us.hjheinz.com, Nigel.Dickie@uk.hjheinz.com and Consumer.Contact@uk.hjheinz.com
or sign the petition here:
Tagged as: American Family Association, Donald Wildmon, Gay, Gay Kiss, Heinz, Heinz Deli Mayo, Homosexuality, LGBT, Religion, Religious Right
Daniel DiRito | June 25, 2008 | 10:28 AM |
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Pride. What is pride? On Sunday in a number of major metropolitan areas pride included a parade for those who believe being LGBT is worth acknowledging and celebrating. For others, pride events on Sunday were shameful events attended by thousands of sinful Americans who have no respect for the Bible or fear of the words it contains.
By today, pride had devolved into a few straggling media sound bites and a debate about whether the following video touting Barack Obama's support for the LGBT community is really about "the fierce urgency of now" or simply the efforts of a campaign to be all things to all people in hopes of winning votes.
What seems to be absent from today's tense debate is some healthy means of measuring whether the pride we share with our LGBT brothers and sisters is anything more than a veneer we wear once a year to demonstrate a solidarity that is born of a predisposition to engage in sexual relationships that reside outside the established norm. Unfortunately, I fear that this moment is more about being fierce than about the urgency of now.
Many equate "pride" activities with a message of tolerance...but as of this moment, tolerance seems to be in short supply...especially within the confines of the LGBT community. Suddenly the sound of songs like "We Are Family" blaring from speakers on floats has been replaced with the sounds of sniping siblings...unwilling or unable to allow for dissention or disagreement as to our path forward.
At the center of this storm resides the beast that so often defeats the downtrodden...the debate over the means to enact "the fierce urgency of now". Not only is this conflict immensely ironic, it is evidence that the intersection of words and deeds, or the lack thereof, is often an incendiary moment...a moment capable of imploding a movement by stopping it in its tracks...or a moment whereby the movement breaks through the barriers that have long served to block it from reaching its destination.
On Sunday in many cities, words and deeds did intersect...and like so many Pride Sunday's before it, rhetoric and reticence stood side by side...on both sides of the debate. Thousands from the LGBT community turned out to be seen and heard...and thousands remained hidden...reticent to raise their voices and show their faces.
Many of those in attendance Sunday are apt to scold those who weren't...just as some have chosen to scold Barack Obama for not leading the LGBT cause beyond the rhetoric of fierce urgency and into the now. Yet in realizing as much, there exists ample evidence of our own community's reticence...reticence that is all too often ignored in the rhetoric that we employ to justify our own actions while assailing the lack of it on the part of others.
Inherent in the many arguments and protestations taking place is a willingness to view the "other" with a microscope while refusing to see the very image that was just reflected back at us...this Sunday's dark shadow of the thousands of our LGBT brothers and sisters and their friends and families who were quietly absent, and therefore willing to accept "the safe security of what has always been" rather than march for a better tomorrow.
Barack Obama, like all men seeking positions of leadership, offers a message of hope. No doubt that message is designed to achieve victory in an election but I suspect it has granted him a unique platform from which to recite more of the words he believes have the potential to unleash the deeds that must accompany "the fierce urgency of now"...in those who have for far too long accepted far too little.
Regardless, the presumption that his victory in November assures an LGBT victory is little more than the tinder that serves to fuel the flames that divide us from each other. Barack Obama, like all leaders, is first and foremost a messenger of what can be...a light in an otherwise dark passage. While we can debate the words he uses to construct that light, we fail ourselves when we believe that he can walk that passage alone and assure us that we'll somehow effortlessly arrive with him on the other side.
Our victory will be achieved when the willing and the reticent in our community and our circle of friends walk hand in hand through that tunnel...undaunted by fear...and convinced that "the safe security of what has always been" will no longer suffice because we've finally chosen to make "the fierce urgency of now" a glimmer of light in our rear view mirrors.
The light that Barack Obama holds will not last forever. It is also doubtful that we will be able to reach forward and expect that he can reach out and pull all of us through the tunnel we know we must travel. In truth, our victory will unfold when we reach back and grasp the hands of our fearful and faceless brethren and instill in them the hope to keep walking until they too can see the light ahead that is waiting to lead them to victory.
Only then will "the fierce urgency of now" be known in the history books as that point at which our words and our deeds collided in a moment of cataclysmic catharsis. I look forward to celebrating that day...with a pride that is compassionate, certain, and clearly codified.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Gay, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, LGBT, Pride, Religion
Daniel DiRito | June 24, 2008 | 1:57 PM |
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Mika, born in Lebanon and currently living in London, doesn't get a lot of mainstream attention in the States. I've included two of his videos below. The first is for the song, Lollipop, an infectious upbeat tune with a fun animated video that just seems appropriate for the start of summer. I'll come back to the meaning of the song in a moment.
The second video isn't actually the music video for the song, Billy Brown...but it does a good job in telling the song's story. In fact, there isn't an official video for the song since one was never released. The song, in my opinion, tells the story of a man who struggles to accept his homosexuality.
That brings me back to Lollipop. There has been a fair share of buzz about Mika's sexuality, a subject he has not chosen to address. Some have speculated that he's gay but doesn't disclose that fact as it could hinder his popular appeal in the United States. He points to Billy Brown as evidence that he isn't shying away from sexual orientation.
Let me be clear. Mika's sexual orientation is irrelevant to me but to the extent that issues of orientation may influence the songs he performs makes my psychology wheels spin. In this particular instance, call it instinct, intuition, or gaydar...but whatever it is, I find the content of his songs fascinating. Both of these songs talk about love and relationships...with a focus on a lack of fulfillment as well as a measure of preoccupation with norms and conventionality.
Granted, Lollipop is far more gender and orientation neutral than Billy Brown, but what I hear in both songs is the undertones of a personal struggle...one that leaves the protagonist is a state of limbo. If he follows his heart, he'll have to endure the whispers and judgments of others...if he conforms, he can fit in but he'll be denied the happiness he seeks.
Hence, he vacillates between the two, which I view as akin to the back and forth of a pendulum...always struggling to find the center...but always overshooting the mark in an endless battle for a measure of constance and comfort. In other words, the center is safe but often wholly meaningless. Mika's song, Stuck in the Middle, reveals more of this concept. The lyrics can be found here.
One line captures the essence of what I'm talking about. When Mika sings, "Oh Billy Brown you are a victim of the times", I hear the angst I've described above. Whether that angst is Mika's or simply the words expressed in a song he sings, I don't know. Regardless, the song succeeds in capturing real feelings that I suspect resonate for many in the gay community.
You can find the video for Happy Endings here and the video for Grace Kelly can be found here.
Tagged as: Billy Brown, Grace Kelly, Happy Endings, LGBT, Lollipop, Mika, Music, Relationships, Stuck In The Middle
Daniel DiRito | June 19, 2008 | 12:20 PM |
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The folks at Focus on the Family are out with another video in opposition to same-sex marriage. It's consistent with the new strategy being adopted by religious groups to portray themselves as victims.
The gist of their message is that the passage of gay rights will create prohibitions on free speech and their right to practice their religious beliefs. Never mind that the practice of their religious beliefs often includes working to deny rights to gays. After all, if they say they are the real victims, they must be, right?
This new video is also a play on words that appears to be designed to assail Truth Wins Out (TWO), an organization established to combat the rhetoric of those who are promoting the notion that being gay can be reversed. This propaganda is delivered by a number of groups including Love Won Out, an outreach group established by Focus on the Family, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), and Exodus.
In the video, Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard is seen wearing a sign stating "The Truth Always Wins Out". As the video progresses, a number of individuals (with angry faces intended to mimic militant homosexuals?) affix other signs on top of it...demonstrating the assertion that gays are attempting to silence the voice of people of faith.
Anyway, I decided to have some fun with a couple of screen shots from the video and a saying from my Italian heritage, "When a fish rots, it starts from the head". There are a number of versions of the saying, but they all deliver the same message - when an organization, family, club, or any other affiliated group of people lose their way, it starts with the leader.
As you'll see from the graphic, I'm suggesting that there's something "fishy" about Focus on the Family and its leader James Dobson...if you know what I mean. Oh, and lest there be any doubt, TRUTH WINS OUT.
Tagged as: California, Evangelical, Exodus, Focus On The Family, Gay, James Dobson, LGBT, PFOX, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Stuart Shepard, TruthWinsOut.org
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 8:54 PM |
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The following video is a new advertisement being run by Heinz in the UK. The ad, designed to promote it's Deli Mayo, is delivered with a different take on a typical morning in most homes...where mom is preparing school lunches for the children and dad is getting ready for work.
From The Guardian:
Heinz is set to challenge some viewer expectations with a light-hearted TV campaign that features two men sharing a kiss.
The TV commercial, which promotes a new range of dressing called Heinz Deli Mayo, breaks tonight and will be supported by a press campaign.
AMV BBDO said that the concept behind the campaign is that the product tastes so good "It's as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen".
The twist in this ad is that "mum" is actually a man...one that looks like an employee from a New York deli, complete with the appropriate accent. Despite the gender bending, everything plays out as expected...the kids interact with mum while she readies their lunches and dad gives mum a goodbye kiss as he heads off to work. I think the subtlety is effective and charming.
As an aside, imagine it is still 2004 and think about what the GOP would have to say about this ad and the fact that John Kerry's wife is none other than Theresa Heinz Kerry.
Tagged as: Gay, Heinz, Humor, LGBT, Tolerance
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 9:52 AM |
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You had to know The Daily Show would cover the start of same-sex marriage in California. Jon Stewart starts off by noting that California still exists...and then he wonders why God is taking it out on the Midwest. Of course that's a reference to the many times religious blow hards have suggested that natural disasters were God's punishment for the actions of gays.
Stewart also has a little fun at the expense of those who feel that marriage can only be between a man and a woman...pointing out how important his mothers ovaries and his fathers testicles were to his own wholesome upbringing.
I especially like the segment where Stewart "worries" about those children who are raised by two mothers. Before you think badly of Stewart, keep in mind that he's simply voicing his concerns for any child with two Jewish mothers (Oy vey, the guilt!).
Tagged as: California, Gay, Humor, Jon Stewart, LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, The Daily Show
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 9:09 AM |
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John McCain would like independents, moderates, Reagan Democrats, and Hillary Clinton supporters to think of him as a maverick who doesn't march in lockstep with George Bush and his right wing ideology. The problem is that John McCain is traveling the country espousing the very principles that define the evangelical agenda George Bush touted throughout his presidency.
McCain's recent comments to a gathering of Catholics offers insight into what voters could expect from a McCain presidency.
From Catholic Exchange:
The first issue addressed by McCain was abortion. He said that the "noblest words ever written" were "the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." McCain believes that those words "apply to the unborn." He reminded the Philadelphia Catholics of his pro-life voting record, adding that he would "maintain that commitment" if elected president.
McCain also brought up the subject of defending marriage, saying that some in the room may differ with his view that this decision should be taken up first in the states. "But," he added, "if some federal judge rules that all the states must recognize the [gay] marriages in Massachusetts, I would be in favor of pursuing a Constitutional amendment."
When asked about the possibility of universal healthcare, McCain rejected the idea completely. "The government can't run the healthcare systems it already has; take a look at the Bureau of Indian Affairs." He argued that government-run health systems around the world have been "colossal failures," and inevitably become two-tiered systems, "one for the rich and one for the poor."
It's well known that McCain is aligned with George Bush in supporting the war in Iraq and continuing the presence of large numbers of American troops. However, voter perceptions about his positions on social issues could benefit from a review of the above statements.
Lest voters fool themselves, it's clear that a McCain presidency would likely embrace the overturning of Roe v. Wade and seek to eliminate a woman's right to choose. Depending upon the real meaning of McCain's comment, one could easily see his administration working to define the moment of conception as the point at which an individual is granted legal standing...leaving women to simply serve as involuntary and unwitting vessels for unintended pregnancies.
As to same-sex marriage, one would be reckless to assume that John McCain would refrain from invoking the need for an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as nothing more than the union of one man and one woman. Despite his statement that states should be allowed to decide the issue, he cleverly pivots to suggest that he's opposed to the courts enforcing existing laws with regard to any current requirements to recognize marriages enacted in other states.
In other words, the only reason he hasn't yet called for a constitutional amendment is because he can assert that same-sex marriage in Massachusetts has a residency requirement. Notwithstanding, with the recent ruling of the California Supreme Court, there is little doubt that out of state couples will soon marry in one state and then return to their home state wherein they could argue in favor of availing themselves of established recognitions such as the "full faith and credit" clause of the U.S. Constitution. At that point, I would bet on McCain leading the charge for a federal amendment.
To assume that a McCain administration would resist the temptation to appease an important segment of the Republican base is foolhardy. Like George Bush before him, I would expect a McCain presidency to raise the issue each time it needs to rally the faithful.
On the issue of health care, it's clear that a McCain presidency will simply seek measures that do nothing to disrupt the flow of more money to existing and established insurance providers. Unless and until health care costs are no longer allowed to operate unchecked, the tax credits promised by John McCain will, in short order, leave the public scrambling to afford ever increasing health care costs and the rising insurance premiums that will accompany them. It should be clear by now that the free market system has simply facilitated the expanding number of uninsured Americans.
John McCain can pretend he's not an establishment politician and he can attempt to portray himself as an agent of change...but his positions, since his defeat by George Bush in 2000, simply suggest that John McCain has become a loyal soldier who gladly tows the party line.
The fact that he thinks he can sell repackaged Bush administration kool-aid to an already skeptical citizenry suggests he not only mortgaged his straight talking soul to become George Bush's successor...he's become a run-of-the-mill snake oil salesman. I don't plan to be buying anything he's selling come November.
Tagged as: Abortion, California, Catholics, George Bush, Health Care, Insurance Premiums, John McCain, LGBT, Massachusetts, Pro-Life, Right To Choose, Roe v. Wade, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution, Women's Rights
Daniel DiRito | June 16, 2008 | 2:24 PM |
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Sometimes the most effective means to combat the flawed argument of one's opposition is to make their argument for them...in order to highlight just how absurd it is. In the following video, "Right Wing Ralphie" offers to help unsuspecting gays protect their separate quasi-marriage status from those who would grant them parity.
The video is from cartoonist Mark Fiore, and it does a good job tackling the recent Supreme Court ruling in California and the rhetoric of those supporting the upcoming ballot initiative aimed at overruling the court and preventing same-sex marriage.
Tagged as: Ballot Initiative, California, Cartoon, LGBT, Religion, Right Wing, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court
Daniel DiRito | June 14, 2008 | 8:04 AM |
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The inclination to view natural disasters and disease as signs of God's wrath remains a frightening demonstration of the dangers of religious dogma. Time and again, a vocal group of religious leaders attribute these tragedies to the morality of those affected.
One long standing example is HIV/AIDS, though there are many more. When HIV first appeared, there were numerous religious leaders and politicians who chose to characterize the disease as punishment for homosexuality. Since the beginning, the fact that the infection rate in lesbians was a fraction of that found in gay men seemed to defy the efforts to apply a moral judgment. Regardless, the prevalence of these prejudices continues to exist.
The release of a new report by the World Health Organization, in which the organization acknowledges that HIV isn't likely to become a heterosexual pandemic, has already triggered a new round of moral pronouncements. I'll discuss the invective offered by the Family Research Council beneath the following excerpts. They are from an article in The Independent which details the reports conclusions.
A quarter of a century after the outbreak of Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has disappeared.
In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.
Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.
[...] But we have to be careful. As an epidemiologist it is better to describe what we can measure. There could be small outbreaks in some areas."
Aids organisations, including the WHO, UN Aids and the Global Fund, have come under attack for inflating estimates of the number of people infected, diverting funds from other health needs such as malaria, spending it on the wrong measures such as abstinence programmes rather than condoms, and failing to build up health systems.
Dr De Cock labelled these the "four malignant arguments" undermining support for the global campaign against Aids, which still faced formidable challenges, despite the receding threat of a generalised epidemic beyond Africa.
Any revision of the threat was liable to be seized on by those who rejected HIV as the cause of the disease, or who used the disease as a weapon to stigmatise high risk groups, he said.
The biggest puzzle was what had caused heterosexual spread of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa - with infection rates exceeding 40 per cent of adults in Swaziland, the worst-affected country - but nowhere else.
"It is the question we are asked most often - why is the situation so bad in sub-Saharan Africa? It is a combination of factors - more commercial sex workers, more ulcerative sexually transmitted diseases, a young population and concurrent sexual partnerships."
The inclination to assail the motivation of WHO may have some measure of merit...but the criticism is primarily a demonstration of all that is wrong with a reliance on hindsight. The truth of the matter is that we knew nothing about HIV when it first appeared which lent credence to the alarm that was disseminated. Frankly, any cynical calculation on the part of WHO (based upon the value judgments that accompanied the discovery of the virus) are understandable and, in my opinion, justifiable. Truth be told, the U.S. government drug its feet in addressing the epidemic...despite the evidence. I think it's fair to conclude that some of that hesitation centered on the fact that gays were the predominant demographic.
In order to understand the motivations that may have led to some of the alarm generated by WHO and other organizations on the forefront of the epidemic, all we need to do is take a look at the Family Research Council's reaction to this new report.
25 years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the leader of the World Health Organization's efforts against the disease has finally admitted the obvious--there will be no worldwide AIDS pandemic among the general heterosexual population.
In the article, however, one line stood out in particular:
"Any revision of the threat was liable to be seized on by those who rejected HIV as the cause of the disease, or who used the disease as a weapon to stigmatise high risk groups, he said."
In other words: We couldn't tell the truth, because it might have made people think there is something wrong with homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use.
Duh! Thank you FRC for confirming the legitimacy of the fears held by the World Health Organization. Aside from the obvious moral judgment, the position taken by religious groups like the FRC ignores a number of relevant considerations. First, if morality is the underlying concern...meaning HIV evidences immoral activities...then we should look at all sexual activity; not just the activity that can lead to HIV. Here's the point. It's easy to scapegoat gays, drug users, and prostitutes...but doing so ignores other available data...and therefore the moral judgments that could be applied because of it if one were so inclined.
I've long argued that the best way to understand how inappropriate it is to selectively judge the morality of the above groups is to look at the rates of sexually transmitted disease in the heterosexual population. In truth, the emergence of HIV received an inordinate share of attention (rightly so) because it was a fatal disease. At the same time, were any of the many STD's commonly found in heterosexuals to have suddenly mutated into a similarly fatal infectious disease, the number of deaths would likely overshadow those found in the early stages of the HIV epidemic.
Hence, if unacceptable sexual relations (multiple partners, adultery, premarital sex, etc) are the grounds for judging gays, drug users, and prostitutes to be immoral, the same judgment should be applied to the millions of heterosexuals who have contracted an STD.
So why is the lion's share of the negative judgment reserved for gays, drug users, and prostitutes? Well, the easy answer is because the religious heterosexuals leveling the charges prefer to focus on the actions of others rather than address their own predisposition for impropriety. Besides, the vast majority of heterosexually transmitted diseases can be discretely (and quickly) addressed by one's physician or at any number of clinics that offer a degree of discretion and/or anonymity.
Thankfully, with many of these pillars of piety, their dalliances eventually betray their efforts to hoard the high ground. Regardless, they continue to insist upon directing their derision towards those groups they choose to vilify. I do find it rather amusing that they've chosen to include prostitution on their list of uber-sinners. After all, who do they think heads the list of "sinners" who make it possible for prostitution to flourish? It isn't homosexuals and I think we pretty much know where drug users are spending their cash.
I want to address one additional area of hypocrisy that frequently goes unnoticed. Under the Bush administration, faith based groups have been enlisted in the efforts to combat HIV in Africa. The preferred model for many of these groups is to encourage abstinence over comprehensive sex education that would feature the use of condoms. The working assumption for many of these groups is that promiscuity is largely responsible for the crisis that exists in Africa.
However, you'll note in the WHO report that they identify a distinction with regard to the cultural sexual practices found in some regions of Africa. That distinction is identified as "concurrent sexual partnerships". My interpretation of this phenomenon is that it's not unusual for some Africans to be simultaneously involved in multiple relationships that include sexual contact. This doesn't mean that these Africans have more total sexual partners than the average American; it simply means that they approach the occurrence of multiple sexual encounters differently than one would expect to find in the United States.
I would describe the African structure as a form of polygamous interaction versus the American model of serial monogamy...or ongoing bouts of adultery. Based upon these two models, the passage of the HIV virus is apt to occur with more frequency and consistency in African society because of an ongoing pool (a linked web if you will) of repetitive sexual partners. Once one member of the pool is infected, all are apt to be infected over time. The fact that the American model would more likely involve one extramarital partner at a time makes the passage of an STD less of a certainty given the absence of an extended pool of simultaneously ongoing sexual partners.
The point I'm making is that many of those who are inclined to apply a moral judgment to those infected with HIV are prone to ignoring their own morality. They're able to do so for three primary reasons. One, it's rare for any of the common heterosexual STD's to result in death so they can be kept under the radar. Two, not all of these STD's are chronic infections so treatment resolves the infection and puts an end to ongoing transmission. Three, the manner in which Americans engage in multiple sex partnerships masks the number and frequency of such encounters and may minimize the potential for predictive infection patterns.
At the same time, none of these explanations can serve to remove any of the same moral considerations and/or judgments that are being routinely applied to those with HIV. While I've provided a justification for an equitable distribution of judgment, I am not making the case to enact it. Instead, I find the assertion of morality as an explanation for natural disasters or diseases that result in death to be abhorrent. Given that death is inevitable, attempts to attach moral attributions to the causation of death opens the door to doing so with all deaths (of course I'm excluding reasonable judgments made, and punishment applied, relative to murder or an identifiably criminal act). Further, such assertions simply can't be substantiated.
Aside from an absolute disregard for the random nature of our existence...inclusive of death and disease...the presumption that we mortals could anticipate and apply the all knowing conclusions of an immortal deity is arrogance of the highest order.
Tagged as: Africa, AIDS, Family Research Council, Gay, HIV, LGBT, Morality, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Disease, STD, World Health Organization
Daniel DiRito | June 10, 2008 | 2:56 PM |
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I'm baffled. I want to know what Barack Obama did to so many of the Hillary supporters such that they would choose to vote for John McCain in November rather than vote for the candidate that obviously has their best interest in mind. In the following video, Michelangelo Signorile confronts a caller who insists he can't vote for Obama. As the conversation progresses, the caller actually admits his decision is an irrational gut instinct...yet that doesn't seem to be enough of a reason to change his mind.
Signorile posits that the caller may be responding to some degree of racism that is buried below the surface. While I think that's plausible, I have another theory. First, I don't think it's surprising that many gay men chose to support the Clinton candidacy over Barack Obama. Let me explain. The struggle for gay rights has, for the most part, been a contentious fight that has required the gay community to engage in a prolonged battle. It's been a concerted effort of hard working scrappers who were willing to spend whatever time was needed in the trenches...slugging it out with our opponents. That is apt to create a kinship with a tenacious candidate like Clinton.
Barack Obama isn't cut from the same mold. The tone and tenor of the gay rights struggle hasn't been dominated by eloquent speeches. In truth, we've never had meaningful access to the audience. Our efforts have originated in the homes of gays, in small meetings of concerned individuals, and on the back channels of the media machine. In other words, the audience wasn't listening...and the mainstream media wasn't all that interested in providing us with a platform to voice our message.
So what does that mean? Well it means that a lot of gays...and older women...have a kinship of experience with Hillary Clinton. Gays, elderly women, and Hillary Clinton share an understanding of how it feels to be relegated to the status of an inconsequential figure in the background, frequently the object of insulting inferences, and often dismissed as the whiner who doesn't understand the established hierarchy.
At the same time, it's often said that the battle for gay rights isn't similar to the struggle faced by people of color. The argument suggests that being black isn't a choice and it isn't possible to keep one's color hidden. That has meant that many resent gays drawing any connection to the struggle against racism...arguing two things. One, being gay is a choice. Two, even if one makes that choice, one can easily hide that fact from society.
While one can argue that this does, in fact, make race part of the issue with Obama, I think there is another way to understand this situation. It centers on misogyny...and thus an inference of status. Women, and gays by default (particularly gay men) are not viewed as part of the male identity...the club that grants men and masculinity an exclusive status and a domain reserved for heterosexual males. In that construct, gay men, and most elderly women have been relegated to a lesser status...femininity by natural gender for women...and femininity by stereotype for gay men.
So how is this played out? Well, given the fact that the media is dominated by heterosexual men, it follows that there was a subtle bias against the woman candidate. Yes, many like to suggest that it was really about their dislike of THAT particular woman...but that can only be said because no other woman has had a real opportunity to unseat the existing order. Unfortunately, we lack a comparison to draw a definitive conclusion.
Regardless, this means that the establishment appears to have chosen Obama over Clinton...and this subtle slight was undoubtedly interpreted (primarily by elderly women and gay men) as the perpetuation of a misogynistic monopoly. In other words, white heterosexual males were seen to be choosing to open their club to a black heterosexual male while still excluding a women...and by association, gays. The natural reaction one can expect from the psyches of those left on the outside looking in is to assail the individual granted admission...whether or not that individual embraces the status quo or may even be an agent who would change it.
So all that is left is an understanding of the decision to choose McCain over Obama...a choice I doubt will happen in large numbers. I actually expect a number of elderly women will refuse to vote (my own mother is a case in point). Nonetheless, the caller and others are apt to vote for McCain...and it's important we understand how that choice is made. From my background in psychology, I would suggest that while McCain is truly a prototypical member of the male dominated machine...he isn't viewed to be a fellow minority (like Obama). Obama, because he is black, is seen as a traitor to those who have been excluded for years, and by default, his mere victory is seen as a tacit betrayal and an unacceptable affirmation of the status quo.
Voting for McCain delivers a message to the traitor...and sends a warning to others who might accept admission into a club that promotes more of the same. While this is an irrational association to make, Obama thus becomes the only object (person) available to punish for the perceived injustice. As it turns out, a vote for McCain is simply the mechanism to achieve this objective.
While I fully understand this dynamic, it is important for all of us to make a rational and reasoned decision in November. Cutting off our noses to spite our faces may provide momentary satisfaction, but it will be short lived if John McCain is allowed to win the presidency. Barack Obama's victory need not be viewed as a rejection of women or gays. It may actually be the first step towards breaking through the glass ceiling.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Discrimination, Equality, Gay Rights, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, LGBT, Michelangelo Signorile, Misogyny, Race, Women's Rights
Daniel DiRito | June 5, 2008 | 12:08 PM |
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Good news on the gay marriage front from a newly released survey and from the California Supreme Court. A new USA Today Gallup Poll suggests that a large majority of Americans believe that the choice to marry someone of...
Tagged as: Bigotry, California, Faith, Gallup, Gay, Gay Marriage, LGBT, Rapture, Religion, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, USA Today
Daniel DiRito | June 4, 2008 | 1:05 PM |
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Call me a conspiracy theorist today. Why? Well the skeptic in me is having a hard time believing that it makes sense to hold a meeting of Love Won Out (the Focus On The Family organization that claims to...
Tagged as: Ex-Gay, Focus On The Family, Gay, James Dobson, LGBT, Love Won Out, Peter LaBarbera, Reparative Therapy
Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 3:50 PM |
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