Uncivil Unions: July 2008: Archives

July 30, 2008

1913 Law Repealed: Mass Marriage Means Mass Hysteria? genre: Gaylingual & Uncivil Unions

The Massachusetts House has voted to repeal an antiquated law that prohibited the marriage of out of state gays. The measure, already approved by the Senate, is on its way to Governor Deval Patrick, who has indicated his intention to sign off on the repeal. Once removed, the state will allow for the marriage of gay couples who reside outside of Massachusetts.

From The Boston Globe:

In a major victory for advocates of same-sex marriage rights, the House voted by a wide margin yesterday to repeal a 95-year-old law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying here, setting the stage for Massachusetts to join just one other state, California, in allowing same-sex couples to marry regardless of residence.

The 1913 law specifically bars out-of-state residents from marrying here if the marriage would be considered void in their home state. Its repeal opens the borders for potentially thousands of nonresident same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts. A flood of couples is expected from New York, where Governor David Paterson has instructed state agencies to recognize and grant benefits to gay couples who marry elsewhere, even though New York does not authorize same-sex marriages.

Neither House nor Senate votes on the issue drew protesters to the State House. Advocates cited the absence of demonstrations as a sign that same-sex marriage has become an accepted fact of life in Massachusetts, after lawmakers in a joint session last year rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

What, no protesters? Can it be? Are we to conclude that there aren't any defenders of traditional marriage in the state of Massachusetts? Could it be that heterosexual marriages weren't harmed as a result of the many same-sex marriages performed in the state?

Mitt Romney, where were you and your five sons when the religious right needed someone to stand up and defend family values?

Tagged as: Gay Marriage, LGBT, Massachusetts, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | July 30, 2008 | 8:49 AM | link | Comments (3)
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July 27, 2008

John McCain - The Straight-Talking Maverick Can Sure Ride A Fence genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Uncivil Unions

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John McCain, a former critic of Christian extremists, has suddenly become a seemingly born-again evangelical in conjunction with his 2008 presidential bid. Sadly, his run to the right is hardly evidence of a man who has made a career of portraying himself as a straight-talking maverick.

Those who contend that a McCain presidency won't be a third term of the policies of George Bush need look no further than the fence upon which slick John is perilously perched. If it isn't embracing the Bush administration's simplistic cowboy diplomacy, it will undoubtedly be the sleight of hand that comes with a carefully crafted claim of compassionate conservatism...couched, of course, as a commitment to the constitutional construct of states rights.

Truth be told, with regard to gay adoption, John McCain continues to sound like a man who has yet to realize that the fence he's riding has a limited number of sides. Perhaps the Senator believes he can finesse the fence...but from my vantage point, it looks more like he's a trick rider whose too clever by half. In fact, I don't think McCain has the political dexterity to simultaneously succeed at being both a pole jumper and a pole sitter. In the end, he's apt to find himself painfully impaled by the inconsistency his campaign continues to impart.

The Arizona Senator's latest attempt took place during today's appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

From ABC News:

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your position on gay adoption? You told the "New York Times" you were against it, even in cases where the children couldn't find another home. But then your staff backtracked a bit.

What is your position?

MCCAIN: My position is, it's not the reason why I'm running for president of the United States. And I think that two parent families are best for America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what do you mean by that, it's not the reason you're running for president of the United States?

MCCAIN: Because I think -- well, I think that it's -- it is important for us to emphasize family values. But I think it's very important that we understand that we have other challenges, too.

I'm running for president of the United States, because I want to help with family values. And I think that family values are important, when we have two parent -- families that are of parents that are the traditional family.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there are several hundred thousand children in the country who don't have a home. And if a gay couple wants to adopt them, what's wrong with that?

MCCAIN: I am for the values that two parent families, the traditional family represents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're against gay adoption.

MCCAIN: I am for the values and principles that two parent families represent. And I also do point out that many of these decisions are made by the states, as we all know.

And I will do everything I can to encourage adoption, to encourage all of the things that keeps families together, including educational opportunities, including a better economy, job creation.

And I'm running for president, because I want to help families in America. And one of my positions is that I believe that family values and family traditions are preserved.

UPDATE: The following is the video of the above transcript:

Huh!? So he's for the values that traditional two parent families represent? Well, I'm for the commitment to excellence the Oakland Raiders espouse...but I've also seen how the Raiders play football these days. In other words, just where does McCain think these orphans come from...the anti-family values stork?

Shouldn't our political leaders be focused upon finding stable and loving homes for these children regardless of the sexuality of the adoptive parents? Just what does the Senator know about the experiences of children reared in families consisting of two same-sex parents? Has he bothered to explore the number of children that are orphaned from same-sex couples? I suspect he'd have to reconsider his definition of family values if he took the time to step beyond his efforts to insure the votes of his biased and bigoted base.

So McCain's position on gay adoption is "to encourage all of the things that keep families together, including educational opportunities, including a better economy, job growth. Yep, that will undoubtedly encourage family values and convince straight couples to stay married, to stop cheating, to stop getting divorced, and to stop viewing children as possessions and parenthood as little more than a rite of passage.

Then again, the goal of many on the religious right has little to do with insuring happy children. They view anything that prevents the substantiation of homosexuality to be worthwhile...even if that means a few hundred thousand children have to remain the wards of the state. Shifting orphaned children from one foster home to another like chattel is beneficial if it supports the anti-gay agenda. How compassionate and how Christian is that?

The only claim John McCain can make to straight talk is that he's learned the talk needed to win the votes of those who favor a world that is exclusively straight. John McCain may see himself as a maverick...but I suspect his maverick status is more like the role James Garner played in the television series with the same name...an unintentional hero presented with fanciful aplomb that is little more than the guise for a man who, when push came to shove, elected to avoid any of the risks associated with actually being a straight talking maverick and a political hero.

In the meantime, I hope the good senator is enjoying his ascendency to the pinnacle of political expediency. Come to think of it, he's simply mastered the metaphorical equivalent of riding a horse side-saddle...he knows that if you're going to ride the fence, you need to be a skilled side-stepper. Senator McBush, you're ability to parse words is an inspiration to orphans everywhere.

Tagged as: Divorce, Evangelical, Foster Care, Gay, Gay Adoption, George Stephanopoulos, John McCain, LGBT, Marriage, Orphan, Parenting, Religion, Religious Right, This Week

Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2008 | 1:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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July 20, 2008

The "Order" Of Things: Let Them Kill...Yes - Let Them Marry...No genre: Gaylingual & Just Jihad & Nouveau Thoughts & Uncivil Unions

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I'm always amazed at public opinion...especially when it provides some insights into human nature in 21st century America. Over the years, I've always marveled at the prudish obsession with all things prurient.

I could be wrong, but I suspect a majority of Americans would rather allow their children to watch depictions of violence on television and at the movies than anything remotely sexual. In some ways, I understand how this happens, but in my moments of lucidity, I wonder why we never take the time to understand or alter this seemingly incoherent ideation.

To find evidence of this phenomenon, one need look no further than the polling relevant to same-sex marriage and the military's policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Despite the occasional outlier, it's fairly safe to state that more Americans oppose same-sex marriage than favor it. At the same time, numerous polls in recent years suggests that a significant majority of Americans are in favor of allowing gays to serve in the military. I find those two incongruent positions fascinating.

First, a look at the latest polling on both issues.

From The Washington Post On DADT:

Public attitudes about gays in the military have shifted dramatically since President Bill Clinton unveiled what became his administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy 15 years ago today.

Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

Today, Americans have become more supportive of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.

From CBS News On Same-Sex Marriage:

(CBS) Most Americans continue to think there should be some legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples, and 30 percent say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry - the highest number since CBS News began asking this question in 2004.

Twenty-eight percent think same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions, but more than a third - 36 percent - say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship.

Americans' views on this issue have changed since 2004, although opinion has not changed substantially in the last two years. In November of 2004 (soon after the presidential election) just 21 percent of Americans supported the idea of same-sex couples being allowed to marry.

Majorities of both men and women support some form of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples, but more women (36 percent) than men (24 percent) back the idea of same-sex marriage.

With regard to DADT, it seems fairly clear that the country is ready to embrace gays serving in the military. Virtually every constituent group agrees. As such, it would be difficult to contend that the favorable response is due to the vague or uncertain nature of the survey question.

With regard to gay marriage, the results are more nebulous. Don't get me wrong, there's little doubt that the trends are encouraging. In fact, one could make the argument that a narrow majority of Americans actually favor some recognition of same-sex relationships. Defining the specifics of that recognition would likely provide less encouraging results.

I'm intrigued by the disparity. On the one hand, it seems that patriotism and a desire to defend one's nation elicits thoughts of equality on the part of the electorate. In other words, if gays are willing to kill and die for their country, by God, we shouldn't deny them that opportunity. [Wave flags now] On the other hand, who a gay person chooses to love and how that love is recorded by society apparently elicits thoughts of moral rectitude on the part of the electorate. [Cover eyes now]

In other words, views about homosexuality seem to mirror the general pattern of allowing our children to be exposed to violence (masculinity...or behavior associated with men?) while shying away from exposure to, or discussion about, sexuality (intimacy...or behavior associated with women?). Is that an anecdotal observation and a broad brush approach to the subject? Perhaps. Does it offer a plausible explanation for the divergent data? In part, I think so.

Let's take it a step further. When one thinks about the treatment of those in the LGBT community, three things emerge. One, lesbianism (often associated with being a tomboy), while still objectionable to many, is also a source of male fascination, and as such, serves to insulate lesbians from intense societal derision. Secondly, gay men (often associated with being effeminate) draw the intense ire of a number of heterosexual men which is much more likely to lead to acts of derision and/or violence being perpetrated on homosexual men. Lastly, transgender males, seeking to identify as women (adopting virtually all aspects of feminine behavior), are potentially at the greatest risk for vitriol and violence.

I contend that if one were to ask all voters to quantify each groups social acceptability, each groups acceptability to serve in the military, and the acceptance of the love relationships each group forms, the discomfort would mirror the rankings I've noted above.

Let's return to the apparent discomfort with all things sexual and the seeming tolerance for depictions of violence. If one looks at the dance of sexuality, generally speaking, the male is in pursuit which can easily be construed as an aggressive act. Since men generally accept this role...and they also have daughters...a disconnect emerges which may well lead to the seeming silence with regards to all things sexual.

In simple terms, men, aware of each other's inclinations, are uncomfortable admitting and acknowledging that their daughters will be pursued sexually and anything that reminds them of this creates dissonance that is rarely resolved. The carnal nature of sex as conquest (masculine) can prevent them from viewing sexuality favorably as intimacy (feminine).

This may also explain the difference in men's and women's reported acceptance of gays in the military. Men, by virtue of their own views of sex, are apt to view the homosexual male similar to themselves...meaning they assume a gay man is in pursuit of a sexual encounter. At the same time, women are apt to be more comfortable with gay men as a result of their inclination to share expressions of intimacy.

I'll offer one additional observation. Sex, by its nature, involves unspoken understandings about penetration and being penetrated...tops and bottoms if you will. That again brings us back to the above ordering. Lesbianism, from a conventional view of gender roles, is often thought to be about penetration...meaning there is a perception that someone adopts the position as the top (the masculine aggressor). With gay men, the perception is that someone adopts the position as the bottom (the feminine placater). Lastly, with regard to the transgender male, the assumption is that the individual seeks to adopt the feminine role...although in this instance, with a heterosexual male.

Simply stated, the subconscious predisposition to favor masculinity over femininity (imposed over centuries by the prevalence of misogyny as opposed to any innately ordered hierarchy) therefore leads to ranking the three accordingly.

All of the above, in my opinion, helps explain why voters are more inclined to support gays in the military than to endorse same-sex marriage. The former is consistent with established societal norms that favor masculinity which makes it more palatable. Conversely, the latter serves to threaten the established order and unseat the stereotypical male identity from its lofty perch.

When it's all said and done, I contend humanity hasn't navigated that far from its awareness that the king of the jungle's demands are usually met (he writes the rules) and he is therefore afforded a wide berth...simply based upon an unspoken understanding that he has the ability to impose his will (penetrate) upon those who can't do the same.

Whether all of this suggests that love does or doesn't exist as we define it is open to debate. In the meantime, the message to the LGBT community is rather convoluted...and fully impeachable. In a world too easily inclined to violence, it's a shame to be rewarding gays for propagating aggression as the acceptable status quo while stifling their potential to act as loving agents for constructive change. It's time for the sleeping giant to assemble its parts and uproot the tree to which it has too long been tethered. It's time for a new order.

Tagged as: DADT, Discrimination, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Gay Marriage, LGBT, Military, Misogyny, Polling, Relationships, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexuality, Society, Violence, War

Daniel DiRito | July 20, 2008 | 2:27 PM | link | Comments (5)
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July 18, 2008

Poll Shows California Voters Oppose Prop. 8 Same-Sex Marriage Ban genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

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While it's far too early to celebrate, a new poll suggests that Proposition 8, an amendment to the California constitution designed to define marriage as the union of only one man and one woman, would not have sufficient support for passage. Conventional wisdom suggests that ballot measures that fail to garner significant early support are unlikely to succeed. Unfortunately, I doubt this standard can be applied to this particular measure.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune:

SACRAMENTO - Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in California, is opposed by 51 percent of likely voters with 42 percent in favor, according to a new Field Poll.

Those results put the proposed ban in a politically perilous position in the Nov. 4 election, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the nonpartisan Field Poll.

"Starting out behind is usually an ominous sign for a proposition," DiCamillo said. "Over 90 percent of propositions that start out behind get taken down."

Typically, ballot measures start out ahead, but become less popular as the opposition campaign begins raising questions and creating doubt, he said.

The poll is the first to question voters using the measure's exact language. But the results are similar to a Field Poll on the same topic in May, shortly after the California Supreme Court overturned laws that prohibited same-sex marriage.

In my experience, polls on ballot measures that are intended to deny gay rights rarely capture the actual level of voter support. Amendment Two, passed by Colorado voters in 1992, is the best example of this phenomenon. Prior to the election, virtually every poll suggested the measure was headed for defeat. As it turned out, the measure passed by nearly six percentage points.

The following information is from the Field Poll and it offers some insight into the dynamics that may be at play in November.

From The Field Poll:

There is relatively high voter awareness of Proposition 8 among the state's voting electorate. Statewide 62% of likely voters report having seen or heard something about the proposed constitutional amendment.

There are also big differences by religion. Protestants favor Prop. 8 56% to 40%, while Catholics are evenly divided. By contrast, voters affiliated with other religions or who have no religious preference are opposing Prop. 8 by wide margins.

Evangelical Christians favor the amendment better than two to one, 66% to 31%. However, non-evangelicals are on the No side 59% to 34%.

There is greater opposition to Prop. 8 among voters who personally know or work with gays or lesbians. This group, which includes nearly three in four voters statewide, opposes Prop. 8 54% to 40%. On the other hand, those who have no personal familiarity with gays or lesbians favor the amendment by a narrow margin.

I'm of the opinion that the data is instructive. To the benefit of those opposed to the constitutional ban, voter awareness is high which may suggest it will be difficult to change minds. In other words, if voters already understand the measure, and a majority opposes it, proponents may have a difficult time turning the tide. Additionally, the fact that a solid majority of the three in four voters who "know or work with gays or lesbians" will vote against the measure bolsters the belief that coming out is by far the best means to change hearts and minds. It may also suggest that those voters who oppose the measure are doing so based upon a personal consideration rather than in keeping with their religious beliefs.

On the other hand, the support for the measure by evangelicals evidences the influence right wing religious leaders still have with their followers...and it highlights their willingness to exploit any issue that can be connected with their opposition to homosexuality. Frankly, the ideology of evangelicals prohibits them from ever viewing gays as individuals...someone worthy of consideration outside the constraints of established dogma. To do so would be the equivalent of abandoning their core Biblical beliefs.

I'll offer one last observation. I took note of the fact that Catholics are evenly divided on the issue. Strange as this may sound, I suspect that the prevalence of gay priests may serve to soften the opposition to the measure. My own experience as a Catholic suggests that there is an unspoken acceptance of gays despite the fact that it is contrary to church doctrine. In other words, the psychology posits that if the church elected to embrace gays as priests for years, why should Catholic voters not embrace the right of gays to marry?

One thing most Catholics learn...especially if they've attended Catholic schools...is that hypocrisy is part and parcel of the church...which I believe can lead to a level of tacit tolerance which might not otherwise emerge. Perhaps that's a stretch, but I think it merits consideration.

Tagged as: California, Catholicism, Civil Rights, Constitutional Amendment, Equality, Evangelical, Field Poll, Gay, LGBT, Marriage, Polling, Proposition 8, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2008 | 11:08 AM | link | Comments (1)
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July 11, 2008

Teen Pregnancies Rise: How About Those Abstinence Programs? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Uncivil Unions

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I'm not sure what it will take for our government to admit that abstinence education isn't working. Fortunately, George Bush will soon leave office and we can hope that the next president will restore science to its proper place and put an end to the myth that purity pledges are an effective means of birth control.

In the meantime, a new government report shows that the teen pregnancy rate rose for the first time in 15 years...a testament to seven years of relegating comprehensive sex education and contraception to the back burner.

From Fox News:

Between 2005 and 2006, the number of teenage girls between the ages 15 to 17 having babies rose by more than 5,700 to 138,920, from a record low of 133,138, according to an annual report on the health and well-being of children and teens published by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

The 4 percent increase in the teen pregnancy rate is cause for concern among health professionals.

"This is one of the key indicators for the health of the teen population," said Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, during a conference call with the media. "Not only does this affect teen health at this point, but their health and well-being for the next 20 to 40 years, and the health and well-being of their children."

Now I'm sure the religious right will do their best to refute those who will undoubtedly claim that this report provides evidence that abstinence only education is a failure. Unfortunately for the wingers, the report offered another key piece of information that may make it rather difficult to hold the line on the benefits of abstinence.

While teen pregnancy is up, the percentage of teens having sex has remained stable for the past few years at 46 percent, according to the report.

So here's the bottom line. The same number of teens are engaging in sex, however more of them are getting pregnant. Care to venture an explanation? Clearly, as I've long argued, teens, in predictable numbers, will continue to have sex regardless of promising to abstain...and when they do so absent comprehensive sex education, inclusive of contraceptive measures, the number of pregnancies is certain to increase.

Fox News, in a move that once again shows their propensity for bias, chose to add the views of one of their contributors in an effort to offer an alternate explanation for the rise in teen pregnancies.

Teen pregnancy has been a hotly debated subject in recent weeks with the birth of 17-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears' daughter and reports that a pact among Gloucester, Mass., teens may have resulted in the pregnancies of 17 high school students.

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News contributor, said the recent reversal in the trend of declining teen pregnancy is a grave concern. He said young people, especially girls, are looking for ways to connect with themselves and others in an "increasingly technology-driven world." One way to do that is to have a baby.

"It's not pretty and we really need a public health response that's very vigorous to counteract this," he said. "Ultimately, the gravest long-term consequence is that we have babies being nurtured by mothers who really can't provide them with what they need.

"And that's really a self-centered act. You've basically declared that it's all about you. Those people who are [acting] in this way may be the worst role models."

Oh yes, the rise in teen pregnancy is the fault of Hollywood and girls who are self-centered. In other words, my child would remain pure if it weren't for bad role models and selfish sluts. I guess that means that mom and dad are helpless to protect their children from cultural influences that are sure to overwhelm the values parents have instilled in their children.

I hate to break the bad news, but there's a problem with this logic. You see, we have that little issue of the constancy of the percentage of teens who are having sex to contend with. If recent culture is to be blamed, why aren't we seeing a larger percentage of teens engaging in sexual relations. Could it be that the desire to engage in sex, an innately constant construct of human nature, isn't all that susceptible to external influences...including the religious exhortations of parents and politicos who have likely chosen to forget their own sexual experimentations?

The study offered one other statistic that caught my attention.

From The Washington Post:

Another disturbing trend is the increase in violent crimes and homicides committed by adolescents, Sondik said.

"Homicides increased in 2005 for the first time since 1993," Sondik said. "In 2005, the firearm homicide rate also increased for the first time in more than a decade."

Adolescents aged 12 to 17 who committed violent crimes increased from 14 crimes per 1,000 in 2004 to 17 per 1,000 in 2005. This is still a substantially lower rate than was seen in 1993, when there were 52 violent crimes per 1,000 adolescents, the report stated.

So while the religious right rails against contraception and abortion, teens are harming each other with increasing frequency. In other words, these people are willing to spend time and money opposing sex education, contraception, and abortion while seemingly appearing tone deaf to teen violence.

Why is it that Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council aren't up in arms about teen violence? Why aren't they pushing their followers to vote for one politician over another based upon their respective plans to address teen violence? If all life is precious, why isn't the same energy being expended to protect the living?

I'll answer my own question. Well, sex sells...which means issues related to sexuality (orientation and promiscuity)...are cash cows that bring in the donations. It also serves to assure religious leaders and the GOP that they have a captive constituency. Besides, addressing violence might require a consideration of gun control...and that doesn't sell well with the Guns, God, and Gays gang.

Tagged as: Abortion, Abstinence, Contraception, Fox News, George Bush, Religion, Religious Right, Sex Education, Sexuality, Teen Pregnancy, Violence

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2008 | 12:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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