Tag: gay-rights

more hate from the catholic church

Check out this latest act of stupidity drowned in hate, from the Catholic Church: (h/t to my friend W. Scott for letting me know about this)

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

“If the city requires this, we can’t do it,” Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. “The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem.”

They might as well have released a statement that said specifically, “We, the Catholic Church, hate the idea of gay people getting married so much, that we will turn our backs on the charity we provide to people that desperately need it. If you, the state that gives us some of the money that allows us to do that charity force us to follow your rules, we won’t provide those services anymore. Our hatred is so strong, that we are willing to publicly paint ourselves as haters just to prove how much we feel and want to perpetuate that hate. Hate, hate, hate; that is what we are all about. Erm, I don’t know how to end… I guess, Love, the Catholic Church.”

Now, the Catholic Church has a strong track record of doling out their own specifically interesting breed of hatred, so this isn’t really a surprise to me. However, it is highlighting the fact that if you didn’t think they could go lower, oh boy, you were wrong; there is no telling how low the Catholic Church will go in the name of hatred over what they decide is wrong. I am sure that Jesus would love the idea of turning your back on the needy just to prove a point, Catholic Church. Y’all truly are a “city on a hill”.

Finally, I do have to say, directly to the Catholic Church in DC; if you are so upset with being told to treat people equally, why not give up your tax exempt status, and stop receiving city funds? Additionally, the statement released accused this measure of ignoring religious freedom, which it doesn’t do; what it does, is it highlights the importance of following the covenant laid forth in the constitution, that there be a separation of church and state, and as such, one can practice which ever religion they want. If you don’t want the government making decisions, and “controlling” your religion, then stop accepting money from them and expecting differential treatment; you can’t have it both ways.

Maine votes against gay marriage: some thoughts

Yesterday, Maine’s vote sent a(nother) clear message to me: gay people do not matter to the majority of Americans. I am sure that many will argue that this is not the position of most Americans, but the message is too clear to ignore. Our civil rights are constantly up for debate, and constantly, we have them taken away. I cannot interpret that as anything other than a message that we do not matter; this society does not see fit to grant us the same rights and liberties as the rest of Americans.

It’s interesting, because this same society gladly takes our tax money, our contributions to society, and expects us to serve our country, but people continue to pass laws that reflect whether or not they feel “comfortable” with the “idea” of us getting married? Um, how does that work? That’s not just “unfair”, it’s un-American.

Isn’t the constitution supposed to grant freedom; not take it away? Additionally, isn’t the constitution supposed to protect us from the government making decisions about whether or not to strip us of our civil rights? Where are the values and principles that represent the underlying foundation of this nation? They are glaringly absent when you look at any vote for or against anyone’s civil rights. This bears repeating: voting for or against anyone’s rights goes against the very foundation of this country. We are all supposed to be free and equal. By putting this up for a vote, more than half of the people in Maine have gone against the foundation of our nation, and have made it clear that they feel as if it is okay to make the decision against gay people being equal.

Again, how does this make sense?

Every time we vote for or against the civil rights of any group of people in this country, especially minorities, we are sending a clear message that their rights do not matter. No one should ever have to campaign to have the popular vote determine whether or not they can have the same rights as everyone else. It’s just plain wrong.

Shame on 53% of Maine voters for believing that their opinion matters more than the rights of gays and lesbians living in Maine. Since this isn’t the first, and it will not be the last time that our rights are in the hands of those that wish to discriminate, I also say shame on any American who thinks that their opinion matters more than someone’s civil rights.

One final thing. In looking for the results of the vote this morning, I came across this article, and I have to comment on the quote from Jeff Flint:

Voters have a pretty good grasp about what they think marriage should be. It’s not that they’re discriminatory or bigoted. They just draw the line at what they think marriage should be.

Um, what? I’m sorry, but I will never allow anyone who says bullshit like this to have a free pass. If you are against gay marriage, you are against it because of discrimination; that is what you voted on. You voted specifically in order to discriminate against gay people. Jeff, just because you are able to some how twist your illogical thoughts into what you consider rational doesn’t not get you off the hook. You represent a discriminatory body of Americans that have “values” and beliefs that are most certainly based on bigotry. You can’t take away someone’s rights and say that you did it for “personal reasons” or “personal beliefs”, and then in the same breath say, “but I have nothing against them”. Perhaps he should actually look up the word discrimination, because I don’t think he understands the concept.

Perhaps he, and others like him, should keep their opinions to themselves, and stop using them to determine whether or not someone else should or should not have equal rights. Feel free to define marriage however you want; just don’t decide how I, or anyone else, has access to my civil rights.

no 5SF this week, but some great news

As you may notice, there is no five song Friday occupying its regular slot this week; I have had a really bad week (from being sick to the hot water heater woes to school work overload), so I am taking a break. I need to write up my concert experience from Mat Kearney last Friday at the Center Stage (it was amazing), and edit like a million pictures I took at the show too, but I just don’t have any energy. Being sick is not something I do well, and hopefully, I will be back to full strength soon enough.

Hopefully, my weekend will be better than my week was.

With that being said, there is some great news that may signal a good weekend ahead: The Senate approved the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes bill on Thursday. While it bothers me somewhat that there were 29 who voted against it, I am more than happy this important legislation passed through the senate, and is on its way to becoming the real deal when Obama hopefully signs it into law. For those naysayers, I hope that you understand that the reason why it is important, is because these safe guards are already afforded to everyone else EXCEPT gay people. This is a real step in the direction towards gay people having equal civil rights, and it should be celebrated. Here’s to civil rights and equality for all… including gay people!!

Atlanta Eagle raid reponse: I’m calling bullshit

The Chief of the Atlanta police says that the reason the Eagle was raided is because of complaints of (as well as undercover cops witnessing) sex acts and drugs being used. Yet, interestingly enough, no drugs were found when the raid happened. Perhaps most importantly, and why I am calling total and utter bullshit on that half-assed “excuse”, is that upon arriving at the bar, if sex acts would have been occurring, the undercover officers would have clearly seen them; yet, again, those too were absent.

So why was the raid even carried out? If the undercover officers were present prior to the raid, as was reported by the police, they would have been able to observe that NO sex acts were occurring, right? Yet, they continued with the raid; which makes this excuse invalid. Additionally, after the raid, and even after no drugs were found (the other so-called reason for the raid), they checked each person’s ID, and ran background checks in what seems like a clear attempt to “find something”. At best, the only claim that they have, is that undercover cops should have arrested someone having sex or using drugs at the time they witnessed it; otherwise, it’s a moot point, and frankly, a half-assed excuse that does not justify the events that occurred last Thursday night.

Now, I am not saying the Eagle is perfect by any means, but if you give two reasons why you raided a bar, and the treatment of its customers was harsh and anti-gay at best, you have to at least substantiate those claims in your explanation, Officer Pennington. Saying that it was “suspicion” isn’t good enough, especially when you again, consider the treatment of the patrons. This statement is essentially admitting that the police involved illegally detained people, searched them, and then illegally ran background checks on them; and that it is okay, even though they lacked the proper lawful permission to do so. I just want to know why the police, who are supposed to be bound by the law, are apparently above it?

This is the part of his statement that probably angers me the most (from the article linked above):

He also expressed regret that Danni Lynn Harris, the department’s liaison with the gay and lesbian community, had not been notified of the raid.

“She should have been invited,” Pennington said. If she had been there, the chief said, any inappropriate behavior by the officers could have been curtailed.

“This is very unfortunate this incident occurred,” Pennington said. “I’m sorry for what happened.”

So, Officer Pennington, their behavior should only be kept in check when another gay officer is around? I don’t know what bothers me more; the fact that she wasn’t there to “keep them in line”, or the fact that these officers are apparently such bigots at heart, that these checks and balances are even necessary. I thought policemen and policewomen were supposed to protect us, all of us; regardless of race, gender, religion, or orientation? Apparently, that only applies when your community liaison is present.

Again, I’m calling bullshit, Officer Pennington. I only hope the investigation of these events, is not over run with the deception that already clearly blankets this situation in fog. This was a clear violation of the rights of those involved, and I hope that the Atlanta police are held responsible for their actions. It boggles the mind to see that crime is escalating in the manner in which it is throughout Atlanta, yet, in a 1960’s fashion, police officers are beating down the doors of a gay bar because of suspicion that “something unsavory is going on in the dark”. It’s good to know that my tax dollars are hard at work.

Atlanta gay bar, The Eagle raided

UPDATE on the Eagle raid: I no longer THINK this was discriminatory, I know it was. This comment literally send shivers down my spine:

Du-Wayne Ray, store manager of Rawhide Leather, which operates below the Eagle, said that he and one of his employees heard one white uniformed officer say to another, “This is a lot more fun than raiding n***ers with crack.”

Ray said he was handcuffed for an hour-and-a-half to two hours on the back deck of The Eagle, and said, “A lot of anti-gay comments were made.”

This is an outrage. Atlanta police should be extremely forthcoming with formal apologies to anyone and everyone involved; additionally, a formal apology to the gay community should be submitted. This level of discrimination is shocking and unbelievable; especially when it comes from the very people that are supposed to keep us safe. Bigotry in any form cannot be tolerated, and this again, is just shocking to know that it came from Atlanta police officers.

I honestly can’t believe that this happened, here in Atlanta, last night. I thought we were living in a more progressive city, but it just goes to show, you aren’t safe from discrimination anywhere.

a lot of little things really add up

I just took a survey in order for $20 credit added to my account for a website I bought a product from. To be quite honest, I was sort of offended that I was not given any option other than single, married, widowed, divorced, or separated in the relationship question field. Since none of those apply to me, I left that question blank, but the survey wouldn’t submit without it, so I had to chose an incorrect response.

I know it may seem “meager” or “nit-picky” but it’s honestly little things like this that constantly reaffirm the second class status of gay people. I ended up emailing them, because sometimes, it really is simple ignorance, and I was hoping that was the case in this instance. Here was the email I sent:

I just took the survey on your website after committing to buy one of your products, and I find it interesting that you don’t offer an option for same sex couples. Clearly, we cannot get married in most parts of the US, as well as most of the world, and I am slightly offended that I was required to answer the question as a part of your survey; because I am neither single, NOR married. Granted, I didn’t have to take the survey, but since I did, I felt compelled to drop you a line to let you know that a simple inclusion field for partnered/in a relationship would clear this whole thing right up; that, or not requiring that I answer the question with an incorrect answer. Thanks, Duane Moody

They replied with:

Hi Duane,
You are absolutely correct. We need to fix this survey right away – and we will do so as soon as possible.

Like I said, this may be incredibly minor, but when you take a bunch of minor things (as well as some major ones) they start to really add up after a while, and every new one is just a reminder of every other one before it. I can now cross this one off the list, and appreciate the fact that they responded quickly and kindly. I am sure that a lot of people see it as complaining, and sweating the small stuff, but I see it as all part of the bigger picture. We have to be recognized as equal; not just considered later when we bring it up that we were excluded.

This is not really a “little thing”, but there was a raid on the Eagle last night, that reeks of Stonewall-esque civil rights infringement, and it really brings home the point that I am trying to make about our struggle being FAR from over. Some thoughts about the Eagle raid: while they may have gone in on suspicion of “seedy” behavior, and they may have been well within their rights to shut things down for not having the proper permit, from the sound of it, they had a very heavy hand in doing so. I know that if I would have been there, legally drinking in a bar, one that holds a legal liquor license, and would have been handcuffed OR searched, without explanation, I would have been outraged. Even though I wasn’t there, I can’t help but read this, feel as though The Eagle and its patrons were being targeted because it was a gay establishment. I don’t like to think those things, but the description (especially the recall of one person who was there) of the event, makes almost impossible not to.

Honestly, if it is what it sounds like it is, it is really unbelievable that it happened; not only in Atlanta, but in 2009. I, for one, would like to know why the cops aren’t out there working on stopping the violent crimes that have been escalating over the past couple of years; instead of raiding gay bars? If we have such a “shortage” of funds and police force, why are they focusing on the lack of a permit for dancers in a gay bar, instead of bigger, more dangerous stuff? Couldn’t they have issued some kind of warning, or citation that would certainly wouldn’t necessitate a raid? Again, the more I look at this situation, the more it reeks of discriminatory action. I’m interested to see how this Eagle raid story develops, and I hope that it doesn’t fall squarely on the ever-growing list of acts discrimination against gay people in this country; because whether the items are big or small, it’s a really long list.

um, thanks… FOR NOTHING

It seems that my outrage yesterday was a little less than it should have been. Turns out, the gesture Obama tried to placate us with, was worth nothing:

The memorandum Obama signed Wednesday is not expected to grant health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners, as that is prohibited under the Defense of Marriage Act.

(source)

That’s right, fellow gays and lesbians, say it with me; we are STILL:
SECOND.
CLASS.
CITIZENS.

…and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon.

This is not just disappointing, it is outrageous. This is a major slap in the face, Mr. President, and it will not be ignored. What was initially seen as a cop out, is now an empty promise worth practically nothing. Sure, I know you are limited by DOMA, but this empty gesture is not good enough, and frankly it is insulting that you would think that it is worth anything at all.

Perhaps I am being too harsh though… as you do care, right? Allow me the chance to give you the benefit of the doubt; you did say,

“I believe it’s discriminatory. I think it interferes with state’s rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it.”

(source)

So when can we expect this to happen? If you really want to do something for gays and lesbians, DO SOMETHING. Instead of handing us empty promises, why not take actions that would actually matter? If striking down DOMA is what it will take, why didn’t you propose legislation to do just that; instead of handing us this bullshit?! Saying that you are against something while doing absolutely nothing to stop it, implicates you as a willing accomplice. Mr. President, you are guilty of standing by while we are again, discriminated against, publicly, by our government. It is going to take more than a strongly emphatic “opposition” (with a current obvious lack of any sign that you will actually do more than “be against it”) to make a difference, and I for one am waiting to see if you will actually do anything you continue to promise. The problem is, I am losing my patience.

Again, Mr. President, I am outraged at the sheer lack of support for the community that supported you so ferociously during your rise to power; only to be ushered to the back of the bus once you took the podium. For shame, Mr. President, for shame. I only hope that you will bring the change that you promised, and stop trying to sell us snake oil instead. This is one member of the gay community that is rapidly losing support for the great man that I thought you were.

um, thanks?

Am I the only one who thinks that Obama’s recent act of granting benefits to same sex couples is kind of, well, a cop out? First of all, it is only for federal employees, which is definitely nice, since I work for the government, and know many people that will be able to take advantage of this, where they couldn’t before. However, as a contractor for the government, I work for a company that already has these benefits in place; so it doesn’t really affect me other than my thinking it’s a nice gesture. Again, it’s nice, and I am happy he decided to do it, but this is a very, very minor gesture that will have little to no impact in the actual need for our civil rights to be recognized nationwide.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that Obama is in a place of intense scrutiny and has a lot on his plate. However, if he really wanted to do something that would actually impact our community, how about addressing the myriad of issues that currently make things difficult for us? Placating a handful of us with same sex benefits just isn’t going to make us content enough to say thanks and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If he really wanted to do something that would make a definitive impact, that would be a true gesture of ushering in what I would consider an actual move in the direction of true equality, why not tackle the right to fire clauses that SO MANY businesses still have on the books? There are tons of businesses out there today that still have the right to fire people because of their sexuality on their books; which I would venture to guess comprises tons more employees than the government boasts. I just think it would be more worthwhile to make moves to actually making us equal citizens, and things like same sex benefits for government employees would follow these moves in the right direction.

I really hate to be a cynic, but this type of cop out really needs to be called out for what it is; a dog and pony show to mask his recent approval of DOMA. There are so many issues that affect our community, Mr. President, and seeing as how we threw our support behind you in the election, how about something a little bit more substantial; something that will actually benefit all of us? The slight of hand is not going to make us think for one second that we are actually getting more in the civil rights department. In other words, there is nothing to see here folks, keep moving, and keep hoping for something that would deserve more than a thumbs up from a handful of people.

STFU

A couple of weeks ago, it was ignorant Prejean, blabbing her opinion on the “gay lifestyle”, and her beliefs about gay marriage. She kept talking after the incident, and went so far as to claim that people choose to be gay. Clearly, she chose to be a heterosexual, and barely escaped a lesbian lifestyle. All I could think of everything she was saying was, shut the fuck up you ignorant twit. Seriously, we don’t need your bible thumping views and ignorant ideas to set our fight for equal rights back any more than we need a nail through the foot. Thanks. Moving on…

It doesn’t take long for another twit to get the mic, because here’s another person that I want to STFU: Virgina Foxx. She claims that Matthew Shepard’s HORRIBLE and VIOLENT death was not because he was gay, when it is like 99.9% clear that it was. I will never understand why people are so opposed to hate crime legislation, when so many people have been the victim of hate crimes. No one should have to be brutally slaughtered because of who they are, the color of their skin, or who they love. And if you are against it, fine, that’s your bag, but it’s reprehensible that she would go so far to discredit hate crimes legislation, and claim Matthew’s death was a “simple robbery”. How people can have their stupid heads buried this deep in the sand, and how they can somehow get public platforms is beyond me. Hey Virgina, STFU, alright? Just like Prejean, we don’t need your hateful ignorance, and your warped sense of reality mucking up things for us while we FIGHT for civil rights. What is so scary about gay people just being equal with everyone else?

It really peeves me even more that these are two women, who should know what it means not to have equal rights, seeing as women had to fight for them too. How quickly people forget. You know, you are entitled to your opinion, that’s true, but sometimes, you should think about the ramifications of your “ideals”, and just STFU already. Seriously, go back to your church and tell your mindless followers this crap; keep the public forum free of your hate-driven lies and ignorance please.

a concrete example of how the anti-gay movement in this country is so dangerous

“Hey Faggot”.
“You are such a little pussy”.
“Look, he’s not even a boy, he’s definitely a sissy little girl”.
“You’re gay”.

These are all phrases that I despise hearing, but I heard them, and several other colorful variations, MANY times all throughout my 12 years of public school. There were many times I would come home and just be so upset that I couldn’t even speak to anyone, because of the taunts that I received pretty much every day from other students. I dared not tell my parents, because of how embarrassed I felt that I was continually labeled in this way; I honestly didn’t want this seemingly horrible thing to be true about me. As I look back, I honestly don’t know how I made it, but I did. However, I did not escape completely unscathed. The damage was done, and I didn’t come out until I was 22; all because I feared being the very thing that I was accused of, and was convinced was so bad when I was younger because of the taunting and teasing that I received. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, because despite it all, I did make it, and it has, in part, made me who I am today.

My point in writing this is not to preach or even elicit sympathy; as I said, I am a grown man who made it through that hell and I am stronger for it. However, there are thousands of kids out there that are going through this same torture right now, and unfortunately, a bunch of them won’t make it. The torture of being taunted and teased by your peers day in and day out is enough for many gay (as well as kids that aren’t even gay, but are just different, and therefore labeled as such) kids to desire so strongly to escape that hell that they take their own lives.

Recently, this very thing tragically happened to Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. He was taunted and teased, and in order to escape it, he only saw suicide as his way out. Suicide rates amongst gay youth is staggeringly high, and I honestly believe that if our society wasn’t so dismissive of the hateful way in which we are treated, it could be significantly lowered. Carl didn’t have to die in vain; we can change. We can teach our children that hate and bullying is extremely harmful, and that by doing so, you are emotionally scarring someone. Teachers and administrators can also take a huge role in this change by suppressing this behavior as it is seen and reported; unfortunately in this case, Carl’s mother complained to the school and no action was taken.

I am extremely saddened, and I feel horrible for Carl’s entire family. This young boy should not have had to endure the torture that he did, and no other child should have to endure it either. If you or someone you know is close-minded about homosexuality, and perpetuates any level of the hatred and bigotry that this form of torture stems from, tell them about Carl, and how he was an innocent 11 year old boy who was taken from this world far too soon. Tell them that the very hate that they feel inside themselves for homosexuals, or homosexuality, is what drove Carl to take his own life. The time for this mindset is over, and it has got to change.

Perhaps if we all stopped being so hateful with one another, and stopped pointing fingers and judging those around us, less kids will feel like they have to end it all to escape the torture. I for one, hope that with gay rights laws passing in many states recently, and the potential for it to continue to gain momentum ensues, that we will hopefully grow as a society, and stories like this can be a thing of the past. Carl deserves that, and nothing less. We all do. I’m so sorry Carl.