Thursday, December 31, 2009

Confronting Familial Bigotry

Over at Daily Kos, author Clarknt67 has posted a diary titled "Homophobia Is Wrecking My Holidays".  He describes the issue he faces every time his partner, Paul, goes to his parents' house for a special occasion.  Clark notes that while Paul is out at work and socially at his medical school,
... when it comes to his family, there is no such pass.

Paul's parents have never accepted his homosexuality with any comfort. They are both Chinese and Catholic, two demographics that individually struggle with the subject. Together I'm sure the shame they feel is formidable.
Paul made real efforts to help them when he came out over a decade ago. He's suggested PFLAG, they won't go. He's introduced them to his friends, they are polite, but suggest he needs to find "better friends." He's tried to involve them with his own GLBT activism, they aren't interested in hearing about it. They continue to suggest he find the right woman, and, after ten years, continue to make attempts to set him up.
Unfortunately, this experience is all too common for LGBT individuals.  Most couples expect to have arguments over "your parents or mine" at holiday time, but straight couples don't have to worry about one partner not being allowed in the house (most of the time.  There are always exceptions to the rule.)  While reading about this situation is upsetting, it is also comforting in a "misery loves company" way because I have been experiencing a similar situation myself. 

When I came out to my evangelical Christian parents (approx 10 years ago--1998-ish),  it was not an easy time.  In addition to them asking me to step down from lay-leadership duties I performed in their church, I also heard remarks like:

  • "Robert and Henry don't feel the same way about marriage as your Dad and I do."
  • "I have three daughters and one son. I don't need him acting like another girl."
  • "If you try flaming around me, I'll "GLAD"ly set you on fire."
  • "I believe same-sex desires are natural in some people, just as left-handedness, brown eyes, diabetes, or alcoholism are. What one chooses to do about the situation is just that: a choice. Does one marry a "beard," tie the "wrong" hand behind one's back, wear colored contacts, use insulin, or abstain from alcohol? Think about it: ALL of those choices are painful to one degree orr another, and some are more effective than others."
  • various Biblical references that are familiar to most LGBT people with Christian backgrounds, namely Leviticus 18:20 and Leviticus 20:12, among others.   

 As time went on, we kind of settled into a "Don't ask, Don't Tell" situation; we would talk about everything but the 'Pink Elephant'.  Fast Forward ten years.  By this point, I have been living in another state for most, if not all, of that 10 years.  I called them periodically, but we never really talked about my relationships, past or current.  There would be a passing mention of my partner from time to time, but mostly my experience is very similar to Paul's above. 

Due to reactions like those above, I am currently not speaking to anyone in my family except for one of my sisters who is supportive.  The question is, how do we make people see that these aren't "politically incorrect jokes made between people who are comfortable with each other's differences"? 

Accident on Market Street: Did the Prosperity Gospel cause the crash?

In the December 2009 issue of Atlantic magazine, there is an article titled "Did Christianity cause the crash?"  I think it would be more accurate to ask "Did the Prosperity Gospel cause the crash?"  The article's abstract is below:
America’s mainstream religious denominations used to teach the faithful that they would be rewarded in the afterlife. But over the past generation, a different strain of Christian faith has proliferated—one that promises to make believers rich in the here and now. Known as the prosperity gospel, and claiming tens of millions of adherents, it fosters risk-taking and intense material optimism. It pumped air into the housing bubble. And one year into the worst downturn since the Depression, it’s still going strong
What is the prosperity gospel?  According to wikipedia:
Prosperity theology (also known as prosperity doctrine, health and wealth, prosperity gospel) is a religious belief centered on the notion that God provides material prosperity for those he favors.[1] It implies both that people who are favored by God will be materially successful, and also that materially successful people are successful because God favored them. The prosperity gospel is often used by its promoters to elicit donations, on the premise that donations will be materially repaid and rewarded through divine intervention.
However it is termed the concept is an interesting one.  I think the premise is a "chicken or egg" question.  A case could be made for predatory lenders taking advantage of pastors and congregations preaching this concept, but a case could be made that belief in the prosperity gospel led people to take extreme risks because "God will give it to us."

I tend to think that these issues heterodyned, each contributing some to the overall collapse.  While the prosperity believers were taking bigger risks than was perhaps warranted, cynical financial intent on lining their pockets saw a market ripe for the picking, unquestioning lambs for the slaughter.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunday Drive: Let's go to David's house

Now that we've seen refutations of the "Clobber Passage" texts, let's look at some affirming passages:

King David and Jonathan

David and Jonathan’s relationship is often described as a deep, platonic friendship. However, I have a different interpretation of this story.

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle
The terminology used here—“the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul”—and the description of the behavior (stripping down and giving all of his clothing and weapons, and even his belt to David) does not sound like just platonic love in my book. A prince’s clothing and weapons were important symbols of his status. Imagine the passage if David had been a woman:

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of Eve, and Jonathan loved her as his own soul. And Saul took her that day, and would let her go no more home to her father's house. Then Jonathan and Eve made a covenant, because he loved her as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to Eve, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle
Had David been female, no one would question that Jonathan loved her, and their story would be celebrated as a great love. Since David was male, cultural censorship kicks in and the relationship is sanitized to ‘deep platonic friendship’.

Later, when he learns Jonathan was killed David says

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

Again, that doesn’t sound like they were ‘just friends.’


Monday, December 21, 2009

The Politics of "Charity."

Via Father Geoff Farrow:

The Politics of "Charity.":
"Non-profit charitable organizations are granted tax-exempt status by the people
of America through our elected government. The reason for granting charitable
organizations tax-exempt status is so that they can use those funds to provide
charitable services. To feed the hungry, cloth the naked, house the poor, heal
the sick and provide for education.

When charitable institutions
willfully abandon charitable activities, our government should reexamine their
tax-exempt status. Taxes should be imposed on those institutions and the funds
collected should, then be used to help the needy. This may be done through
governmental social service agencies, or other legitimate non-profit charitable
organizations. In this way, the poor, homeless, sick and needy will not be left
without help. Those who are in greatest need, who have nowhere else to turn,
should not be used as bargaining chips by non profit organizations. Non profit
organizations which are financially subsidized (through tax-exempt status) by
the people of this nation. It is an immoral offense against the needy to hold
them as hostages. It constitutes a violation of the public’s trust and a sin
against the God who these institutions claim to serve. Incredibly, this is what
is happening in Michigan
and in Washington,

No religious group is required to grant religious marriage to
anyone. The Catholic Church does not grant religious marriage to people who are
divorced and wish to remarry (unless they are granted an annulment by the
Church). Society; however, does grant anyone who has divorced the right to a new
civil marriage. Likewise, no religious group will be required to grant a same
sex couple a religious marriage; however, civil marriage is now granted to same
sex couples by various nations and some U.S. states. It is no more the business
of a religion to dictate to government what may constitute a civil marriage,
than it is for a government to dictate to a religion what may constitute a
religious marriage.

The late Ayatollah Khomeini called America “The
Great Satan.” He accused us of this because we are the first government on earth
NOT to have an established religion. The founding fathers learned, from the One
Hundred Years War in Europe and the religious persecutions both on the European
continent and in England, the stupidity of trying to impose a religion on a
nation. Sadly, religious fanatics will always attempt to do what God does not
do, they attempt to force others to accept their beliefs.

This has been
most recently illustrated in the immoral example of the Archdiocese of
Washington, DC. Archbishop Wuerl has issued a de facto ultimatum to the
government. He threatens a suspension of charitable services to the homeless
unless his demands are met. His demands!? My dear Archbishop, the Papal States
became extinct in 1870. You are living in the United States of America and we
have elections in which the people select who will govern. Neither you,
Archbishop nor your superior were elected to conduct our civil government. "


Lou Engle’s TheCall Going To Uganda in 2010?

Jim over at Box Turtle Bulletin has an article about Lou Engle's proposed trip to Uganda.

Uganda has been debating a law to criminalize homosexuality, and persecute GLBT individuals and their families, pastors, doctors etc. Reports have been surfacing that Uganda's president is NOT going to sign the bill into law, but it is still distressing to realize just how close it came. This law started partially due to the influence of various fundamentalist anti-gay American pastors, often from evangelical denominations. They convinced lawmakers over there that gay people were a threat to their families and children--resulting in the proposed law. While this law probably won't be passed, Lou Engle is one of the most virulently anti-whatever (not just gay issues, but womens issues, abortion, etc.) I have ever encountered. My partner Philip said that when he saw a video clip of Mr. Engle, it reminded him of the film clips of Adolf Hitler speaking.

Now Mr. Engle is making plans to have a rally in Uganda. Whether the specific policies he advocates for are Anti-gay or not, he does advocate for theocratic takeover of governments. It's disturbing enough in a country like America with its "Teabagger" movement, but when we start exporting this hatred and venom to other countries...we've got a major problem.


Via CrooksAndLiars:


How Barack Obama undermined the Obama presidency

Via Americablog:

How Barack Obama undermined the Obama presidency:
"NOTE FROM JOHN: Read this essay that Joe links to. I've not ready anything
so spot on about the President, and what makes him tick.

A post at Huffington
Post by Drew Westen
, the political psychologist/neuroscientist, is sure to
cause a stir today. Westen has gained a reputation as one of those scholars as
an expert on political communication. His work in 2008 is often compared to what
George Lakoff did in 2004.

Today, Westen provides a brutal, but
accurate, assessment of the Obama presidency. It's worth a read. But have some
coffee first, but you'll see things you've thought yourself over the past few
months -- and you're going to be annoyed:
Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and
progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the
likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people
to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to
be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma,
the insurance industry). In fact, the president's leadership style, combined
with the Democratic Congress's penchant for making its sausage in public and
producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high
toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political

What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats
in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has
accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely
turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would
not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing

What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire
style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a
failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually
anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests
like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies
than he does about the people they are shafting.

The problem is not that
his record is being distorted. It's that all three have more than a grain of
truth. And I say this not as one of those pesky 'leftists.' I say this as
someone who has spent much of the last three years studying what moves voters in
the middle, the Undecideds who will hear whichever side speaks to them with
moral clarity.
I agree, as one of those pesky leftists.

How the Obama brain trust
(who are the smartest people in the world in case you didn't know) destroyed the
Obama brand of Hope and Change is going to be studied for years to come.
Ultimately, the fault lies with Obama, but he got a lot of help from Rahm
Emanuel and Jim Messina along the way.

Westen's analysis is painfully on

I second John's recommendation that you read the entire article. Now, if we could just get Mr. Obama and his team to hear what they're saying, and take action.

Ricky Martin Denounces Homophobia and Hate Crimes

Via Towleroad:

Ricky Martin Denounces Homophobia and Hate Crimes: "


Earlier this month, Ricky Martin released a statement about acceptance and
peace that made note of some of the heinous anti-gay hate crimes that have
occurred recently.


As a human rights activist for many years, I've been able to witness
countless miracles. I've seen the amazing capacity that human beings have to
heal; I've seen governments and private citizens try to change public policies
and fight battles of love that have resulted in a positive impact on our
society. I've seen boys and girls from different parts of the world free
themselves from the bondage of human trafficking (the slavery of the new era)
and amazing people renounce their "lives of luxury" to help those who need it
most. Witnessing miracles of all kinds has strengthened the faith in humanity
that my parents instilled in me, which is the same faith that I try to pass on
to my children every day. When I watch them discovering the world, I think
kindness is one of the greatest virtues that I can teach them.

On the other hand, I've also seen insufferable things that have made
it impossible for me to hold on to the naiveté that I had as a child and have
always tried to maintain it. Traveling the world from an early age and
witnessing unimaginable crimes against humanity has stolen part of the innocence
that I had as a young boy. There were many moments when I forgot about the child
that lives inside of me. You know, that child that we all have within and who
constantly reminds us to focus on the beauty of "simplicity". But that moment of
disconnection was many years ago, and thanks to the work that I do with my
foundation as a part of my daily life, I'm fortunate enough to say that I have
reconnected with that inner child and continue to learn from him. One of the
most important things I have learned is to SHOUT to the world when I encounter
injustice, and that is why I am writing today.

I try to walk through life with a positive outlook. I do all I can to
keep a grateful and optimistic attitude. Call me a romantic, an idealist, or
maybe someone who's just not realistic. Maybe it's a defense mechanism or maybe
it's just that I'm someone who wants to change the chain of negative thoughts
that have been fed to us in many ways and which can easily poison the soul. We
are all human and sometimes it's easier to ignore the pain and go on with our
day. "That has nothing to do with us," we may say; "Why should we care?" But
today, I feel that's impossible. It does have to do with us. I do care.

In the past few weeks, I've read many articles that have made me
shudder and unfortunately the articles relate to things that are happening every
day around the world. I find it almost impossible to believe that in the year
2009, we're struggling with such hateful situations.

As a defender of human rights, my goal is to find solutions for the
injustices that exist in the world today. I am speaking about discrimination of
any kind, whether it is because of race, gender, nationality, religion,
ethnicity, handicap, sexual orientation or political affiliation.


I'm sure you all have different answers. But at the end of the day,
it seems that the collective response usually comes back to one thing: "WE WANT

Well, when we believe in peace, there is simply no room for
complacency. The murders of James Byrd, Matthew Shepard, Jorge Steven Lopez,
Marcelo Lucero, Luis Ramirez and countless others who were victims of violent
"hate crimes" should be completely unacceptable to every human being; because
we're all human beings. It's up to us to change the paradigm. I hear the world
"tolerance" thrown around in the media when it comes to cases like the ones I
mentioned above. One of the meanings of tolerance is "the capacity to endure
pain or hardship." Another is "the act of allowing something." To me, those
don't seem to encompass acceptance, by any definition. So how about this?
Instead of saying "we need to tolerate diversity" why not say, "we need to
accept diversity."

Accepting diversity is the first and most important step we can take
towards eliminating hate crimes and uniting humanity.

If we ACCEPT, humanity unites. If humanity unites, equal human rights
will become a reality. And if equal human rights become a reality, peace will be
within our reach."


Saturday, December 19, 2009

"We wanted to dispel the rumor that you cannot be pro-God and pro-gay"

Via AmericaBlog Gay:
"We wanted to dispel the rumor that you cannot be pro-God and pro-gay":
"Today's Washington
has a recap of the event at which Mayor Fenty signed the District's
marriage equality bill into law. The article makes note of the role religion
played in this debate. While the focus is in the media is on the anti-gay
religious leaders, there is strong religious support for marriage. That was made
evident by the setting for the signing ceremony -- the All Souls Church:
Although [anti-gay Bishop Harry] Jackson and other opponents tended
to dominate the headlines, more than 200 local faith leaders joined to form
Clergy United for Marriage.

The Rev. Rob Hardies, pastor of All Souls
Unitarian, said he and the Rev. Christine Wiley, co-pastor of Covenant Baptist
Church in Southeast, decided to form the group when they overheard a protest by
Jackson in front of the Wilson Building in May.

'We wanted to dispel the
rumor that you cannot be pro-God and pro-gay,' Hardies said.
Rev. Christine Wiley and her husband, Rev. Dennis Wiley, also have an op-ed
in today's Post
titled, Why Two Black D.C.
Pastors support gay marriage.
It's a very thoughtful piece about race,
religion and homophobia. And, it's got a very positive message. Michael Crawford
from DC for Marriage told me the Wileys were instrumental in building the
religious support for the new marriage law. Here's an excerpt from their op-ed,
but read the whole thing:
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago, we entered
the sanctuary at Covenant Baptist Church and took our places in front of the
altar, just as we had countless times before in our more than 20 years as
partners in ministry. We had been united in holy matrimony ourselves in the same
spot where we now stood to unite others.

As the couple walked down the
aisle, we recalled the previous evening's rehearsal, when we commended all the
participants for their courage and prayed that God would be in our midst at the
ceremony. When we pronounced the couple 'partners for life,' we felt our prayers
had been answered. It was the same feeling we had experienced so many times
before when asking for God's blessing of the union of a man and a woman. Only
this time, the union was of a man and a man.

Our church is the first and
only traditional black church in the District of Columbia to perform same-sex
unions. We conducted our first two union ceremonies, one gay and one lesbian, in
the summer of 2007. The rapid political developments that followed in our nation
and our city have made us optimistic that by the summer of 2010, same-sex
nuptials will be not only blessed by churches such as ours, but also sanctioned
by law in the District. "


Sunday Drive: on to Corinth

1 Cor 6:9 and Tim 1:10—malakoi and arsenokoitai

These words are very ambiguous because the first time they appear in preserved history, is in the Biblical texts. Any outside historical sources are quoting these verses, not using the words in an original way that helps us understand their usage in modern language. Malakoi seems to refer to self-indulgent practices of both genders, and not necessarily any specific sexual practices. Arsenokoitai again seems to refer to male prostitutes, whether in the temple or otherwise, but its usage is vague. Helminiak, in his book What the Bible Really says about Homosexuality, proposes that it is a reference to pederasty—an adult man exploiting a young boy for money. Neither of these seems to speak to the model mentioned earlier—a loving, committed relationship between two people of the same gender.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Danforth gives $30M for Religion in Politics Center

Via Episcopal Cafe:

Danforth gives $30M for Religion in Politics Center: "

Former United States Senator (and retired Episcopal priest) John C.
Danforth's foundation gives $30 million dollars to establish a center which will
explore the role of religion in politics:

Danforth gives $30M for Washington University religion

St. Louis Business Journal

Washington University in St. Louis is establishing a center that
will explore the role of religion in politics, thanks to a $30 million gift from
the Danforth Foundation.

The creation of the center, which includes the recruitment of five new
faculty members with endowed professorships, is believed to be the largest gift
of its kind made to a university to fund such an academic center.


“The John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics reflects the legacy
of (former U.S. Sen.) Jack Danforth and his belief in the importance of a civil
discourse that treats differences with respect," Chancellor Mark Wrighton said
Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “The center will serve
as an ideologically neutral place that will foster rigorous, unbiased
scholarship and encourage conversations between diverse and even conflicting
points of view.”



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Start the Right-wing Spin Cycle!

Uproar over drawing has mom 'upset' - Boston Herald: "

Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)

Uproar over drawing has mom 'upset'
Boston Herald
By Marie Szaniszlo, Laurel J. Sweet and O'Ryan Johnson The parents of an 8-year-old student claim their son was removed from class in his Taunton school for drawing a stick-figure crucifix, but the school district is disputing reports of what happened. ...
Mass. school denies suspending student for drawingThe Associated Press
Taunton schools rebut report on child's Jesus drawingBoston Globe
Hackett defends district's actionsTaunton Daily Gazette
ABC News -Fall River Herald News -Boston Channel.com
all 546 news articles »


Clinton: "A Commitment to Human Rights starts with universal standards"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the US' role in protecting human rights:
First, a commitment to human rights starts with universal standards and with holding everyone accountable to those standards, including ourselves.

By holding ourselves accountable, we reinforce our moral authority to demand that all governments adhere to obligations under international law; among them, not to torture, arbitrarily detain and persecute dissenters, or engage in political killings. Our government and the international community must counter the pretensions of those who deny or abdicate their responsibilities and hold violators to account.


In the end, this isn’t just about what we do; it is about who we are. And we cannot be the people we are – people who believe in human rights – if we opt out of this fight. Believing in human rights means committing ourselves to action, and when we sign up for the promise of rights that apply everywhere, to everyone, that rights will be able to protect and enable human dignity, we also sign up for the hard work of making that promise a reality.
Karen Ocamb@ LGBTPOV has the entire transcript.

The Senate Alimentary Canal

Via JoeMyGod:

The Senate Alimentary Canal: "

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Predatory Abuse Dynamics And A Nation Of Political and Corporate Victims

Wow. Just ... Wow. Via Enlightened Catholic:
Predatory Abuse Dynamics And A Nation Of Political and Corporate Victims: "
Here's just one way the notion of health insurance
abuses us. I have paid over 100,000 in insurance premiums in my lifetime, and
not one dime of that is now available since I no longer have private insurance.
Had this gone into medicare, I would still have access to it.


By Max Blumenthal -
December 14, 2009, 1:50PM

While covering the radical right
over the last six years, I began to notice a shared sensibility among the
movement's followers that went far deeper than politics or religion. Many of the
movement's most fervent activists had suffered existential personal crises
ranging from struggles with homosexual urges to alcoholism to mental illness
that propelled them into far-right politics. For these trauma-wracked
personalities, who ranged from reclusive movement financiers like Howard F.
Ahmanson Jr, a resident for two years in a mental institution before he became
the self-proclaimed sugar daddy of the Christian right, to key Republican Party
leaders like Tom DeLay, a philandering drunk known as 'Hot Tub Tommy' before his
rebirth as an evangelical Christian, authoritarian politics served as a balm for
their psychological anxieties.

In my book, Republican
Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party
, I show how a
culture of personal crisis has animated the right's politics of resentment,
how those who control the radical right have projected
their crises onto the Republican Party that they substantially control, throwing
it into conflict with itself.
(This is an apt
description for the current state of Roman Catholicism whose current leadership
was wracked by the trauma of WWII and Communist

At the center of my narrative is James Dobson, the leading figure of the
Christian right for the past two decades. Despite having commanded a supposedly
religious movement, Dobson has no religious training or theological credentials; he is a child psychologist who has exploited the private sufferings of
his followers to mold them into unflinchingly loyal, uniquely fervent political
shock troops.
By setting his flock against Republican moderates like

Bob Dole and Colin Powell, Dobson and his allies set the stage for the
transforming of the Republican Party from a big tent into a one-ring circus. (This is an important point to make about Dobson. Child
psychologists spend a great deal of time understanding the dynamics of abuse.
The idea is to educate child psychologist to help people out of abuse dynamics,
but the fact is, that knowledge can be used to other

When Sen. John McCain, a figure detested by all factions of the
conservative movement, won the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, the
influence of the Christian right made Sarah Palin the only logical choice as
McCain's running mate. As unqualified as she was, Palin embodied the right's
culture of personal crisis. She did so by openly discussing her decision not to
abort her Down's Syndrome-afflicted infant son, and by campaigning beside her
teenage daughter, whose out-of-wedlock pregnancy seemed to undermine Palin's
advocacy of abstinence-only education but actually endeared her
to right-wing parents whose daughters faced similar predicaments.

By broadcasting her private family struggles to the right-wing masses,
Palin became their heroine, a God-fearing glamour girl who naturally embodied
their sensibilities. When Palin struggled to answer softball questions from
Katie Couric, movement members viewed her not as a liability to their cause, but as the victim of liberal elite persecution, another
Christian thrown to the secular lions. Indeed, Palin's ignorance proved to be
one of her greatest assets.
(Once a victim, always a victim, because one is
completely blind to the fact one too frequently takes action to insure they
remain a victim. Dobson has taken great advantage of this fact and Palin is a
classic example of a perpetual victim finding self fulfillment in her own
victimhood by preying on other victims. It gives her the illusion of


And now we have a senate health care bill where most of
the programs which would have helped those 45 million Americans without health
insurance have been stripped from the bill. We are left with a bill which
essentially 'helps' the uninsured by legally mandating they buy health insurance
which they can't afford from the very corporate entities whose excesses the bill
was supposed to curb. This is called abuse dynamics. It is no wonder that most
of the rest of the world sees Americans as the consummate victims of global
corporate capitalism. We delude ourselves into thinking we're not because our
'lifestyle' is higher than those others who our corporations exploit to keep us
dumb and pacified. We are allowed to be dumb and pacified but not allowed access
to affordable health care, much less a real democracy.

Right now I am so angry with Joe Lieberman, Barack
Obama, and the Democratic party that I want to spit nails. Dobson has made his
inroads manipulating abused people, but don't for one moment think that
manipulating abused people is solely the tactics of the Republican party. Look
in the mirror Democrats because predatory abuse is a-political and a-religious.
It knows no party and no god. It knows only prey. Especially in it's American
sanitized corporate form draped in the Stars and Stripes and foisted on the
American people by our elected 'representatives'. Abuse is not just a Catholic


Monday, December 14, 2009

Please Donate to the Minnesota AIDS walk

I am raising money for St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral's Minnesota AIDS Walk team.  I am walking because HIV education and prevention is important to me and because I want to encourage others to help. The money I raise goes directly to prevention efforts and to serving those affected by HIV. Your help is more important than ever! Sadly, funding to help those in need is being cut while the number of those being affected by HIV continues to increase. In 2008, there were 326 new cases of HIV diagnosed throughout the state of Minnesota impacting people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations. New cases of HIV continue to rise in young adults under the age of 24, particularly in young gay men. The need for prevention education is as critical as ever.

Please know that I am personally grateful to those of you who are able to donate, at any amount! Please support me and the Minnesota AIDS Project as we work towards stopping HIV. Let’s Walk in honor of those we have lost and in celebration of better outcomes for those who continue the fight every day.  Click below to donate:


Teach Your Children Well

At Bilerico, there is a thought provoking piece entitled "The Lies That History Tells: Rainbows and Gays Don't Exist". A quote:
I am fortunate. I am fortunate that I found a solid group of friends that I eventually could come out to and be accepted by. I am fortunate that even in the mist of homophobia I learned to accept who I was. I am fortunate that I was able to read and study history for myself and find that there are numerous amounts of out and proud LGBT people in history who deserve to be taught about in schools. James Baldwin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, Eleanor Roosevelt and many others. I heard all of these names in school but was never told the whole truth about their lives.

I know in my heart, that many are not as fortunate as I was. I know that there are still confused students in red states roaming the halls of our public schools hoping for someone to tell them that "it's ok, the thoughts you have don't make you any less of a person." The gay rights movement has come along way in the past decade, and I know it will continue to push on--I'll be on the front lines--but I also realize that we have a long way to go. We still live in a hetero-normative society where being gay in many communities is not normal. Maybe if people would tell the whole truth in our history classes and paint a picture of reality, it will be that much easier for the next generation of LGBT's to accept who they are.
I agree that this too is part of that subtle heteronormativity I spoke about earlier.  The biblical accounts of King David and Jonathan, the Centurion and his pais, and many others get sanitized.  Why?  Because the fundies see it as 'icky' and 'immoral'. 

It's a revolting situation in need of revolt!

Via Good as You:
It's a revolting situation in need of revolt!: "

Martha Nussbaum is a philosopher, professor, author, an all-around intellectual explorer. In this weekend's New York Times Magazine, she talked with Debroah Solomon about her latest focus:

SOLOMON: Your inquiries have lately revolved around the politics of physical revulsion, which you see as the subtext for opposition to same-sex marriage.

: What is it that makes people think that a same-sex couple living next door would defile or taint their own marriage when they don’t think that, let’s say, some flaky heterosexual living next door would taint their marriage? At some level, disgust is still operating.

: In your book “From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law,” which will be out in February, you draw a distinction between primary disgust and projective disgust.

NUSSBAUM: What becomes really bad is the projective kind, meaning projecting smelliness, sliminess and stickiness onto a group of people who are then stigmatized and regarded as inferior.


A very worthy, very true topic! This country considers a golf pro's multiple affairs to be entertainment. An escort who sleeps with a married governor is given an advice column. Scores of heterosexuals go on national television, doing whatever is asked of them so that they can win love and ratings (not necessarily in that order). And all of these things are considered regular parts of the national conversation, palatable enough for the family dinner table.

Yet same-sex marriages still constitute a 'war,' in which loving couples who want to spend a lifetime together are painted as this nation's enemy, gay opponents' targeted condemnations are respected as a mere viewpoint, personal religious beliefs are exalted to the same level as accurate legal assessment, and certain people's non-desire to have a certain form of sex is accepted as a suitable basis on which to build a civil rights-stripping campaign. Revulsion is indeed the underlying factor here: Both our opposition's revulsion for our lives and loves, and our revulsion for the fact that their intense distaste is still all it takes to 86 our equality from the world's menu. "
I couldn't have said it better Jeremy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Religios Conservatives, Heterosexism and Heteronormativism

In the progressive blogosphere, I've seen many posts lately concerning US Evangelicals involvement in introducing an anti-gay law in Uganda, the pedophile abuse cases in the Catholic Church (and that church's response) and transphobic statements even in LGBT-supportive circles.  While these stories may seem unrelated, there are a couple of common threads: Religion, Heterosexism, and Heteronormativism.

Often when commenting on the hatred expressed in cases like this, the term "homophobia" is blamed.  However, that word is inaccurate.  "Homophobia", according to Wikipedia, is the
"irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals",or individuals perceived to be homosexual; it is also defined as "unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality", "fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men", as well as "behavior based on such a feeling".
Many times when conservatives are confronted with being homophobic, they retort "I'm not afraid of homosexuals.  I have many homosexual friends.  That doesn't mean I approve of what they do," or something similar. More accurate wording would be "Heterosexism" or "Heteronormativisim".  To paraphrase Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, heterosexism is the system of "laws, customs and beliefs that perpetuate prejudicial treatment" of non-heterosexuals, namely lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.  Heteronormativisim, likewise, is the system that perpetuates
a set of lifestyle norms which indicate or imply that (1) people fall into only one of two distinct and complementary sexes (male and female) with each having certain natural roles in life, and that (2) heterosexuality is the only normal sexual orientation, thus making sexual and marital relations appropriate only between members of the opposite sex. Consequently, a heteronormative view is one that promotes alignment of biological sex, gender identity, and gender roles to the gender binary
which encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, among others.  Some of those others include working mothers, house-husbands, and polyamorous couples.  There are more examples but you get the idea.

Now that I've explained these terms, it's not hard to see just how it relates to the topic of this post.  One section that exhibits these attitudes, and has tried to encode them into the US' body of laws is the Religious Right.  Organizations like Phillys Schlafly's Eagle Forum, the Concerned "Women" of America (Women is in quotes because I have yet to see a female spokesperson for the group), Exodus international, NARTH and many others actively promote heterosexist and heteronormative views.  They are free to their opinions, but "the right to swing your fist ends at my nose."  When they start trying to directly influence legislation, here or elsewhere, then they've crossed the line.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Child Hunger Is A Lot More Complicated Than Getting Enough Food

Via Crooks and Liars:

Child Hunger Is A Lot More Complicated Than Getting Enough Food: "

Living in poverty is a very complicated enterprise that requires vast amounts
of emotional energy, time and money. You pay a 'food tax' if there are no
supermarkets in your neighborhood, because corner stores are more expensive. You
pay additional fees to have electricity or the phone turned back on because you
couldn't pay the bill on time, and you're at higher risk of losing your job
because you have so little control of your environment and anything could happen
at any time to keep you from getting to work.

Washington Post article
is one of the few I've seen that does a really good
job of separating the strands:

Anajyha, a serious girl with two younger brothers and a mother who has lost
two of her three part-time jobs, is growing up with an ebb and flow of food
typical of a growing number of families. In her home, in a scuffed neighborhood
called Strawberry Mansion a few miles north of the Liberty Bell, food stamps
arrive but never last the month. There can be cereal but no milk. Pancake mix
and butter but no eggs.

The intricacy of the problem -- and of the Obama administration's task --
plays out here, where Anajyha could have enough to eat but shortchanges

Philadelphia offers a particularly vivid ground-level view of what
researchers call a 'silent epidemic' of hungry and undernourished youngsters.
For years, local civic activists, health experts and politicians have tried some
of the nation's most innovative experiments -- and learned how intractable
hunger can be. Researchers here have also been at the leading edge in trying to
fathom the effects of a scarcity of food.

Even when children are not hungry, studies have found that slight
shortages of food in their homes are associated with serious problems.

Babies and toddlers in those homes are far more likely to be hospitalized than
children in families with similar incomes but adequate food. School-age children
tend to learn and grow more slowly, and to get into trouble more often. Teenage
girls are more prone to be depressed or even flirt with thoughts of

Solving the problem is further complicated by its subtle nature. 'Most people
who are hungry are not clinically manifesting what we consider hunger. It
doesn't even affect body weight,' said Mariana Chilton, a Drexel University
medical anthropologist who is part of Children's HealthWatch, a network of
pediatricians and public health researchers in Philadelphia and four other
cities. Hunger cannot be solved by food alone, their work shows, because
it is one strand in a web of pressures that trap families, including housing and
energy costs.

This more nuanced picture is emerging as the problem has become more
widespread. With the economy faltering, the number of youngsters living in homes
without enough food soared in 2008 from 13 million to nearly 17 million, the
Agriculture Department reported last month.

In Philadelphia, researchers found that, during the first half of
this year, one in five homes with a baby or toddler did not have enough food.
And one of every dozen young children was outright hungry, a rate twice that of
the same period the year before. "


Sunday Drive: A Quick Stop at the Temple and then on to Rome

Deuteronomy 23:17-18 None of the daughters of Israel shall be a temple prostitute; none of the sons of Israel shall be a temple prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are abhorrent to the LORD your God.
Like the verses in Leviticus last week, these verses deal with temple prostitution, not a loving committed relationship.

Romans 1: 21-28
If we follow [this] passage, step-by-step, we find Paul is moving through a logical progression. He is talking about people who:

1. Refused to acknowledge and glorify God. (v. 21)
2. Began worshipping idols (images of created things, rather than the Creator). (v. 23)
3. Were more interested in earthly pursuits than spiritual pursuits. (v. 25)
4. Gave up their natural, i.e., innate, passion for the opposite sex in an unbounded search for pleasure. (v. 26-27)
5. Lived lives full of covetousness, malice, envy, strife, slander, disrespect for parents, pride, and hatred of God. (v. 29-31)
The model of homosexual behavior Paul was addressing here is explicitly associated with idol worship (probably temple prostitution) and with people who, in an unbridled search for pleasure (or because of religious rituals associated with their idolatry), broke away from their natural sexual orientation, participating in promiscuous sex with anyone available.

There are, no doubt, modern people who engage in homosexual sex for reasons similar to those identified in Romans 1. If someone began with a clear heterosexual orientation, but rejected God and began experimenting with gay sex simply as a way of experiencing a new set of pleasures, then this passage may apply to that person. But this is not the experience of the vast majority of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. (Miner and Connoley, The Children are Free)
Most of the GLBT people of faith I have met, have felt called to worship the Lord but were attracted to members of the same sex, nevertheless. They were not people looking for thrills and pursuing their own desires. Actually, those GLBT people would be guilty of this kind of sin if they stay in the closet and attempt to marry partners of the opposite sex because they are naturally attracted to people of the same gender.


Friday, December 11, 2009

CA Teabagger Wants State's Government To Force Christmas Music On State's Students

Via CrooksAndLiars:

CA Teabagger Wants State's Government To Force Christmas Music On State's Students: "

Our nation's founders came here to escape religious persecution. They made sure that our Constitution prohibited the formation of a national religion, but to this teabagger from California, forcing Christmas music on children is patriotic. More from The Huffington Post:

The Tea Party movement is supposed to be all about keeping the government out of your business. But if some California members get their way, the state will force public school children to sing Christmas carols.

It's called the 'Freedom to Present Christmas Music in Public School Classrooms or Assemblies' initiative.

Merry Hyatt, a substitute teacher and member of the Redding Tea Party Patriots, is behind the push. The Record Searchlight reports:

The initiative would require schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols, and would subject the schools to litigation if the rule isn't followed.

'Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas,' said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. 'That's why we have it. It's not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It's like, 'Wow you guys, it's called Christmas for a reason.' ' Read on...

This goes against the Tea Party movement's anti-government intrusion platform, but consistency or historical accuracy has never been their strong suit. Hanukkah-Shmanukkah, there is only one REAL American holiday, don't ya' know? /snark off"
You know, I wonder what these teabaggers would think if a Muslim group were pushing for laws about Eid al-Aha, or pagans for Solstice, or atheists to make Festivus a celebration in school.  They'd be screaming bloody murder.  The First Amendment allows anyone to celebrate any religion they so please.  If I understand it correctly, it also means that any law that is made concerning religion must apply to all religions equally.  Therefore, if they are successful in requiring children to listen to/perform Christmas carols, regardless of the student's religion, then those same students should all be required to perform similar functions for those other holidays.

Fun Friday: And the Comeback continues!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

North Carolina Law Bans Atheists, One Gets Into Office Anyway

You can't make this #@$@% up!

North Carolina Law Bans Atheists, One Gets Into Office Anyway: "Some folks tried to prevent newly elected Asheville, North Carolina city councilman Cecil Bothwell from taking office. Because he's an atheist. And that's still against the law there, as it is in five other states.
North Carolina's constitution is clear: politicians who deny the existence of God are barred from holding office. Opponents of Cecil Bothwell are seizing on that law to argue he should not be seated as a City Council member today, even though federal courts have ruled religious tests for public office are unlawful under the U.S. Constitution. Voters elected the writer and builder to the council last month. “I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution,” said H.K. Edgerton, a former Asheville NAACP president. Article 6, section 8 of the state constitution says: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.” Rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution trump the restriction in the state constitution, said Bob Orr, executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.
Bothwell 'affirmed' his oath of office late on Tuesday, because state law allows one to avoid placing a hand on the Bible and swearing 'so help me God.' His case is being cited by some 'Tenthers' as another example of the imposition of federal laws on the states.

RELATED: Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) is the only openly atheist person ever elected to Congress. "


CA: Alameda County Pulls Anti-Bullying Program Under Threats From Christianists

Here we go again! Via Joe My God:

CA: Alameda County Pulls Anti-Bullying Program Under Threats From Christianists:
"Score one for
the Christianists
that endorse the beating and taunting of LGBT students.

The school board blinked. Under the duress of a lawsuit
and threats of recall, the Alameda Board of Education has voted to phase out an
elementary school curriculum it adopted in May to prevent anti-gay bullying. The
so-called Lesson 9, which had become an opposition centerpiece in a national
anti-gay marriage campaign, will be replaced by a more generic anti-bullying
message. But the board's action Tuesday night did little to ease the tension
between gay parents, who want their children protected, and parents who who
think elementary school is too early to talk to students about gay
Earlier this year a group of Christian families sued
Alameda County over the right to keep their children out of school whenever
anti-gay bullying was to be discussed. After the court ruled against them, they
launched a recall petition against the members of the school board. The above
decision is the result of their campaign."


Sen. Grassley Says He's Unaware of Uganda 'Kill the Gays' Bill, Denies Ties to Christian Conservative Political Group 'The Family'

"'Curiouser and Curioser,' said Alice." Via Towleroad

Sen. Grassley Says He's Unaware of Uganda 'Kill the Gays' Bill, Denies Ties to Christian Conservative Political Group 'The Family': "

Under pressure to denounce the Uganda "kill the gays" bill (which was recently reportedly revised to drop the death penalty and life imprisonment elements), Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley told the Iowa Independent that he's looking into it.

Grassley Said Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine: “Subsequent to inquiries like yours this week, [Sen. Grassley’s] office
contacted the U.S. State Department to get more information. The office was told that the administration
hasn’t made an official statement, but an assistant secretary has
privately relayed concerns to the Ugandan president.”

Grassley also denies any current ties to 'The Family': "Investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet, who has written a book about the group, said Grassley has been involved with the secret fellowship of Christian politicians since the 1980s and has been active in African affairs on the group’s behalf.

Levin said Grassley has not been in contact with 'The Family' on this or any other issue and has never lived at or attended a prayer meeting at the group’s townhouse on C Street near the U.S. Capitol. 'He worships at Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, and on the rare occasion he’s in Washington on a weekend, he worships at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia,' Levin said.

She said Grassley hasn’t participated in a Sunday prayer breakfast often associated with 'The Family' in 'probably 10 years,' and when he did it was made up of senators of all faiths and denominations, 'including Protestant, Catholic, Mormon and Jewish.'"

Unlike Levi Johnston, here's someone who actually should be a gay icon!

Zack P. is not from an out-of-touch family that is famous or rich or of political royalty. He is not a pointy-headed elitist coaster who knows what’s best for everyone. He carries no baggage from the 1960s. He’s young. He’s a hard-working guy from Middle America and he gets down and dirty politically and risks his neck for what he believes in. He should be the left’s future. He should be the left’s poster child, its goddamn sex symbol—not some actor who happens to lend his good looks to whatever “awareness” campaign is hot. Zack is not the future America deserves but he's the one it needs. Zack should be one of this pitiful nation’s sexiest people.

To this end, The Awl has put together a 2010 benefit calendar of sexy Zack goodness. The calendar features a collection of photos that are preposterous, topical, sexy, poignant, naked, embarrassing and bad—sometimes all at the same time. (If you are a nit-picky art director, you may have some complaints about the execution, in which case, you are welcome to art-direct next year's calendar—pro bono, of course. Also, the online preview looks terrible, but it looks much better in print!)

All proceeds go to Zack, to be used for making protest posters or buying extra locks for his new house (cross your fingers!) or for taking a trip to somewhere warm. (The details: Manufacturing cost is $12.49, Lulu.com takes $1.50, and the remaining $6 go to Zack.) And in the unlikely event that this is an overly-successful venture, he will be donating a portion of the profits to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
(H/t Towelroad)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mainstream Christians Stand Up Against Uganda Hate Bill

Via TWO:
Mainstream Christians Stand Up Against Uganda Hate Bill: "Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and other Christian leaders from across denominations united on Monday to denounce the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.
'Our Christian faith recognizes violence, harassment and unjust treatment of any human being as a betrayal of Jesus' commandment to love ..."

Now THIS is the kind of Church and State interaction I'd like to see!

Death Penalty Reportedly Dropped From Uganda Hate Bill; Ex-Gay Therapy Mandated

Via TruthWinsOut:
Death Penalty Reportedly Dropped From Uganda Hate Bill; Ex-Gay Therapy Mandated:
"Uganda will drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays in a refined
version of an anti- gay bill expected to be ready for presentation to Parliament
in two weeks, James Nsaba Buturo, the minister of ethics and integrity told
Bloomberg. "


House GOP Introduces Christmas Resolution, Despite Boehner’s Tirade Against Frivolous Democratic Bills

Via ThinkProgress:

House GOP Introduces Christmas Resolution, Despite Boehner’s Tirade Against Frivolous Democratic Bills: "

GOP Christmas Ornament In late October, Congress passed a resolution honoring the
birthday of Chinese philosopher Confucius. House Minority Leader John Boehner
(R-OH) blasted the Democratic leadership for wasting
Congress’ time

While Democrats get ready to celebrate the birth of an ancient
Chinese philosopher, House Republicans will talk about our better solutions to
create jobs
and make health care more affordable and accessible for
America’ s seniors. It is unacceptable for Congress to take it easy at a
time when the nation’s unemployment rate is nearing 10 percent
millions of out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet are asking, “where
are the jobs?”

But Steve Benen points out that 19
Republican members have now introduced
an important resolution to…honor

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25;

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in
prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of
religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas;

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those
who celebrate Christmas.

Congressional Republicans have passed
other Christmas resolutions in the past
. In 2007, Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
introduced a similar measure, after voting against resolutions honoring Diwali and
. As far as frivolous resolutions go, 76 House Republicans also
recently introduced a resolution officially commemorating the
Glenn Beck-inspired 9/12 taxpayer march
on Washington.


While I am glad they want to celebrate Christmas, would they have passed a similar bill honoring Ramadan? Kwanzaa? Hanuka? As far as I'm concerned, the intent behind the religious Christmas holiday has long been secularized and commericalized so now we've got 2 holidays. I think the religious holiday should be celebrated as Christmas, and the secular holiday that has kind of become an amalgam of all sorts of traditions should be called ChristmaHanniKwanziSolstivus or somesuch. Either way, the American Government can't just single out Christmas at the expense of other religions, because of the First Amendment. Do-over, guys?

NOM Expands Lawsuit To Evade Maine's Financial Disclosure Law

NOM is suspected to be a front group for the Mormons and also receiving funds from the Catholic Church. When investigating why Prop 8 turned out the way it did, Fred Karger attempted to get NOM's tax filings through the Freedom of Information Act. They hemmed and hawed around but finally delivered them, long after the deadline. What they did find is enough for multiple states to investigate their disclosures. Now NOM is trying to sue, saying that they're being treated unfairly. Via Joe My God:
NOM Expands Lawsuit To Evade Maine's Financial Disclosure Law:
"NOM has expanded
its lawsuit
against Maine, now saying that not only should they not have to
comply with financial disclosure laws regarding the source of funding for their
ballot initiative campaigns, they should not have to disclose where they get the
money they spend to support or oppose individual candidates.

The National Organization for Marriage says it hopes to
influence next year's legislative and gubernatorial elections by letting voters
know which candidates support or oppose gay marriage. Lawyers for NOM have filed
an amended complaint in the U.S. District Court last week asking that it not be
subjected to state laws requiring financial disclosures from its contributors.
'We added additional claims that go beyond initiative campaign finance laws to
campaign finance laws that deal with candidate elections because NOM would like
to participate in state elections,' says Jim Bopp, an attorney for the New
Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage, which is fighting a ruling by
the state Ethics Commission requiring the group to register as a political
action committee, and to submit campaign finance reports for independent
expenditures it made during the gay marriage campaign.

But Bopp says NOM
wants the same First Amendment protections given to those who contribute money
to elect or defeat candidates for state offices. 'Right now the problem is that
there are significant unconstitutional limits on participating in state
elections that they have now brought to the attention of the federal court and
are looking for a decision in early spring from the court regarding that.' 'We
know the characteristic of Maine -- we come from a live-and-let-live state,'
says Betsy Smith of Equality Maine, the group that fought to preserve gay
marriage in the state. Smith says NOM is going to be out of touch with Maine
voters before it even tries to connect.
Meanwhile Fred Karger at Californians Against Hate reports that NOM may be
under investigation from the tax evasion, news he received via a carefully
worded email from the IRS. Via press release:
In an IRS letter recently received by Ben Katzenberg on
behalf of Californians
Against Hate
), Sunita Lough, Director, EO Examinations said, “Thank you for the
information you submitted regarding the National Organization for Marriage PAC
New York. The Internal Revenue Service has an ongoing examination program to
ensure that exempt organizations comply with the applicable provisions of the
Internal Revenue Code…. Internal Revenue Code section 6103 protects the privacy
of tax returns and tax return information of all taxpayers. Therefore, we cannot
disclose the status of any investigation.”
Karger has launched a legal defense
to help pay for his inclusion in NOM's lawsuit to end financial
disclosure requirements in California. Karger has been subpoenaed in the
suit. "


Federal school lunch meat wouldn't pass muster at McDonald's

And here I thought that I was just being a picky eater! ;) Via Americablog:

Federal school lunch meat wouldn't pass muster at McDonald's: "Scary. From USA Today:
In the past three years, the government has provided the nation's schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that wouldn't meet the quality or safety standards of many fast-food restaurants, from Jack in the Box and other burger places to chicken chains such as KFC, a USA TODAY investigation found.

Rachel Maddow Takes On "Ex-Gay" Nutcase Richard Cohen

Via JoeMyGod:
Rachel Maddow Takes On "Ex-Gay" Nutcase Richard Cohen:

"You may recall the deranged 'ex-gay' advocate Richard
, whose ridiculous 'reparative therapies' such as beating out one's
homosexual tendencies with a tennis racket and a pillow became the laughingstock of YouTube.
Well, it turns out that Cohen isn't quite the relatively harmless lunatic we all
thought. His book's completely fabricated 'statistics' about gays 'recruiting'
and molesting children (courtesy of fellow mental patient Paul Cameron) are
being used to promote Uganda's 'kill gays' bill. Last night Rachel Maddow ripped
him to pieces. When Cohen attempts to deny some of his words, Rachel blasts,
'I'm reading it from your book, dude.'"


Orlando McDonald's Fires Manager Over Anti-Trans Discrimination

Via JoeMyGod:

Orlando McDonald's Fires Manager Over Anti-Trans Discrimination:
"The Orlando McDonald's manager who left a voicemail for a transgender
applicant telling her, 'We don't hire faggots,' has been fired.
The McDonald's on International Drive and Sand Lake
Road issued a statement Monday evening saying, 'Sand Lake Road McDonald’s has a
strict policy prohibiting any form of discrimination or harassment in hiring,
termination, or any other aspect of employment in the organization. The
restaurant requires all employees to comply with local, state and federal
employment laws.' The restaurant said it investigated Zikerria Bellamy's claim
that the manager called her and left her a hateful voicemail. 'You will not get
hired. We do not hire (expletive). You lied to me. You told me you were a
woman,' said the message Bellamy played for Local 6 News. 'The behavior of the
individual in question is not reflective of the employment policies in the
organization. Further, this individual acted outside the scope of his authority
and was not responsible for hiring. The individual in question is no longer
employed by the restaurant,' the statement said.
The victim is considering moving forward with a lawsuit. "


Cohen On Maddow: “Disavows All Relationship” To Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Via Box Turtle Bulletin:
Cohen On Maddow: “Disavows All Relationship” To Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill: "

I just finished watching Rachel Maddow’s interview with Richard Cohen, of the International Healing Foundation. It’s hard to know where to begin in understanding the huge gulf between what Cohen said and what is actually true, particularly with regard to IFH’s culpability in fueling the flames behind the “Kill Gays” bill that is currently before Uganda’s parliament. Fortunately, Maddow was well-prepared.

I thought it might be good to go over some more information that may have been missed.

There was a lot of discussion over Cohen’s characterization of gays as predators, a characterization that is constantly repeated by those who are putting forth the bill and included in memorandum attached as a preamble to the bill itself. At the 5:10 mark, Rachel Maddow pointed out that Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight — which Cohen has donated untold numbers to Uganda to support their Kill-the-Gays mission — portrays gays as predators. Cohen denied that, insisting that Caleb Brundidge, who was at the Uganda conference on IHF’s behalf, didn’t convey that message.

That is a lie. In a summer 2009 newsletter (PDF: 7MB/12 pages) from the International Healing Foundation, Brundidge writes about his travels to Uganda. Concerning the gays-as-predators rumors, Brundidge writes:

On the other hand, the word is out on the street to the young people: If you want to make good money, pretend to be “gay.” Why? Gay activists are recruiting impoverished young boys and girls, offering them money to impersonate homosexuals. “Just tell people you are gay and we’ll pay you money.” In this way, they are trying to skew the data regarding the numbers of people who are homosexual. Last year one school teacher was told this information by two young female students. They admitted that they were being paid to say they were gay. Additionally these girls recruited 13 more girls that year! This is happening throughout their nation. Gay activism is alive and a powerful force throughout the world. They are raising up the next generation to be gay activists, just as in the USA.

In this particular passage which Brundidge repeats without questioning its authenticity or illogic, he doesn’t say that gays are being sexual predators, per se. But he does imply it by suggesting that these young people would become “the next generation [of] gay activists.” After all, people don’t become gay activists just because someone pays them to do so. The entire context of this account is the supposed recruitment of young people into homosexuality, which in Uganda is seen as predatory by whatever means that implies.

Also in that newsletter, Brundidge says that Cohen “donated his books and Counselor Training Program CD series and manual to the Family Life Network. They will use these resources to study and learn how to help those affected by SSA and their loved ones.” (SSA, by the way, is the acronym he uses to describe what he calls “Same-Sex Attraction” — always capitalized. More on that later.) I haven’t shelled out any money for his CD series, but the book, Coming Out Straight, certainly pushes the gays-as-predators theme.

In the second edition, the one that Cohen donated multiple copies of for distribution in Uganda, Cohen dedicates two full pages on sexual abuse as a cause of homosexuality. The researchers he cited say that there are some correlations with sexual abuse and uncertainty over one’s sexual orientation, but no reputable researcher as been willing to pin child sexual abuse as a cause of homosexuality, despite Cohen’s distortion of those researchers’ studies.

And who does all of this molestation. For that anwer, Cohen turns to Paul Cameron. Maddow read this passage from page 49 at the 6:15 mark. Cohen writes:

Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; forty (40%) percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality.”86

Endnote 86 refers to a Paul Cameron study published in 1986 the pay-to-publish vanity press Psychological Reports, which is not a reputable journal. Maddow does a great job in recounting the many professional organizations who have denounced Cameron for his unethical behavior and fraudulent “research” over the years. Cohen claims that his forthcoming third edition of the book won’t have that citation. He doesn’t say whether his own mischaracterization of research by David Finkelhor, Patrick Dimock, Mike Lew, or many others will appear in that edition or not. At any rate, it won’t matter because it is present, plain as day, in the untold numbers of free books he has already shipped off to Uganda.

Cohen kept insisting that his whole effort was to preach of his “love” for gay people and not demonize them. Maddow refuted that rather effectively by repeating his own written words. She read loosely from that summer 2009 newsletter (PDF: 7MB/12 pages), this time from a piece written by Cohen himself:

For the past 40 years, members of the gay rights movement have been working to change the fabric of our culture. They have strategically and systematically been indoctrinating members of society, targeting the youth… As a result of their strategic plan, millions of innocent young children have been enrolled into this false teaching and led into a homosexual lifestyle.

If that’s not demonizing, I don’t know what is.

Maddow also read from Cohen’s 2008 book Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing, from page 75, on what supposedly “causes” homosexuality:

10: Other factors. Divorce, death of a parent, adoption, religion, race, rejection by opposite-sex peers.

Cohen reacted, “Race, that’s not in there.” But it’s right there in black and white. He was never able to explain how race could contribute to homosexuality. He also doesn’t explain it in his book. But what he does finally acknowledge, in so many words, is that he — the guy who continuously promotes himself as an “expert” and “professional therapist” — has written two deeply flawed books. And that he shipped off a bunch of deeply flawed books to Uganda where his vilification of LGBT people has found fertile ground.

Cohen kept trying to convince Maddow that his organization doesn’t “cure” anyone, but he does use the word “healing” constantly and insist that people can “change.” To me, this is just semantics. What is “healing” if it’s not a cure? Furthermore, he constantly refers to homosexuality as “SSA,” or Same-Sex Attraction” — always capitalized. He used to called it SSAD, or Same-Sex Attraction Disorder, but he only stopped doing that when it became too untenable for him to call homosexuality a disorder after all the professional organizations insisted that professionals should not do so. On Maddow’s program, Cohen kept repeating his web site as ChangeIsPossible.com. But type that into your web browser and where does that URL redirect to? That’s right: GayToStraight.org, and in the program he kept referring to himself as being completely straight. If that’s not meant to be taken as a “cure,” then I wonder how Cohen would explain the difference.

So we have a man who says that gays molest children, then takes it back. He says that he doesn’t demonize LGBT people, has a passage he wrote just last summer demonizing LGBT people read back to him, and he has nothing to say. And he says that race is a factor, and then says, okay, it isn’t. And he doesn’t “cure” gay people, he just “heals” and changes them. And by the time the interview ended, he was left sputtering that the American Counseling Association disbarred him for life because they are anti-ex-gay. In fact, it was for ethical violations, and Maddow’s audience was left with numerous examples of Cohen’s lack of integrity by the time she was done with him.

But before we end this, we should note one positive thing on Cohen’s behalf: with all that, Cohen spoke out forcefully against Uganda’s proposal to legislate LGBT people out of existence. Whether he’s doing that because he has a new-found respect for gay people or because he’s trying to salvage his own tattered reputation, we don’t know — but I have my suspicions. At any rate, he said he is not only against executing LGBT people, he is also against imprisoning them. He’s a proven fraud, and an idiot to boot. But again, we’ll take what we can get.

Copyright © Box Turtle Bulletin. All rights reserved.
This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Publishing this feed's content on any web site besides Box Turtle Bulletin is strictly prohibited. If you are accessing this on another web site, then the web site hosting this content is committing theft. Please report this web site to Editor@BoxTurtleBulletin.com.
(Digital Fingerprint: ea9498dc0641a690b4f7fbd3a7339f9b)