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Danger: This is a “Pro-Homosexuality Blog” August 30, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in lgbt Issues.
35 comments

Well… my recent criticisms of Peter LaBarbera and the new national anti-gay organization Americans for “Truth” has gotten me listed as a “pro-homosexuality blog”. Yep, Andrew Sullivan, Ex-Gay Watch, Good As You, Pam’s House Blend and little ol’ me are officially sodomite-loving bloggers according to the Americans for “Truth” site.

My hope: Although it is unlikely us pro-gay bloggers will find common ground with Americans for “Truth”, there is always the potential to reach their readers with well-argued and venom-free posts. It may be difficult to hold in my disdain and I am doubtful that I will be able to a good portion of the time, but solid and humanized arguments may make a difference.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not delusional. Most visiting Americans for “Truth” will not take a moment to consider our thoughts, much less believe them, but there is always the remote possibility that a moderate sitting at their site will recognize the difference between denying equal rights and fighting for them.

Fundamentalist Hypocrisy: Literalism for You, Not Me August 29, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in lgbt Issues, religion, religion distorted.
5 comments

In a wonderful column in the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts Jr. criticizes fundamentalists who use the literal meaning of Bible verses to condemn gay people but then ignore the literal meaning of other passages that condemn their actions. The double-standard is glaring, and Leonard Pitts’ column is a more eloquent version of my earlier post on right-wing Christian hypocrisy. I encourage you to read the entire column, but here are some highlights:

…it illustrates a point I’ve made on many occasions when people bring out Bibles to explain why gay folk deserve no civil rights. Maybe now, without the reflexive emotionalism that gay brings to cloud their view, a few more people will see the obvious: Bible literalism is impractical and impossible…

…has no one else noticed how literally some Christians interpret those Scriptures that give them license to condemn, yet how elastic and liberal their readings are when dealing with Scriptures that convict their personal behaviors? Meaning that it’s always a little more difficult to catch people being literal about turn the other cheek, do not store up treasures on earth, do not turn away the borrower, love your enemy.

Yet, you can’t go to the store without tripping over someone who wants you to know the Bible calls homosexuality an abomination.

Schwarzenegger Called “Evil” for Signing Bill Banning State-Funded Bigotry August 29, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in education, legislation, lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws, politics.
1 comment so far

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is being assailed by anti-gay groups for signing into law a bill that bans state-funded discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, which is purposely distorted by “pro-family” organizations, simply adds sexual orientation to a list of other minority groups that cannot be discriminated against or condemned in state-funded schools or extracurricular activities. It does not promote gay and lesbian people, as the right likes to claim, but ensures that public school teachers cannot tell their classrooms that gay and lesbian people are immoral and will end up in hell. It seems almost common sense, but Schwarzenegger is taking some heat from anti-gay activists.

Here is what Randy Thomasson of Campaign for Children and Families has to say:

People of conscience are appalled that Arnold Schwarzenegger has trampled religious freedom to satisfy hyperactive sexual activists… Arnold Schwarzenegger has two faces. He speaks at churches and says he believes in religious freedom and family values, yet he’s stabbing pro-family Californians in the back. People of faith are suffering under Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s not the lesser of two evils, he’s doing evil.

Since when has opposing discrimination been considered “evil”? Since when has Christianity been about making insecure school-aged children listen to anti-gay bullshit? These groups use grandiose terms like “religious freedom” and “family values”, but it is only a disguise for what they are truly saying: We believe the public school system should condemn gay and lesbian students and the lives they lead. We want them to be frightened and humiliated in a public school setting until they are forced back into the closet and emotionally damaged. You are either Christian, gay or neither… there is no overlap.

It is absurd for an organization like Campaign for [Straight] Children and [Heterosexual] Families to claim they are standing up for all children. Banning state-funded humiliation in the classroom should be a universal goal for any group that truly cares about our youth, but apparently gay and lesbian youth aren’t deemed valuable enough for anti-gay groups. They are more concerned with fulfilling an anti-equal rights political agenda than providing a safe environment for children to learn.

For those who have read what anti-gay groups are saying about the California education bill, I encourage you to read the legislation itself. Ignore what the anti-gay right is saying… even ignore what I am saying… read it for yourself and you will understand to what degree anti-gay groups have distorted the real impact of this bill. Here is the heart of the bill:

No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.

Banning tax dollars from funding discrimination… apparently anti-gay groups find it to be “evil”.

Calling Out Intolerant People is Not Intolerant August 28, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in anti-gay activists, lgbt Issues.
7 comments

As part of a growing trend among anti-gay leaders, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for “Truth” is claiming those who oppose the anti-gay group’s mission are “intolerant”. The newly formed group, devoted only to taking away rights from gay and lesbian people, has been receiving the usual “we want you to leave our city” e-mails from those opposed to anti-gay bigotry. Here is one e-mail posted on the Americans for “Truth” site:

Please take your hate-filled agenda and ignorance to some other town. Naperville [Illinois] is very gay-friendly and is continuing to grow into a gay-friendly town. Hence, the GLBT alliances [“gay-straight alliance” student groups] in our high schools and local gay support groups. You are no better than those hateful Westboro Baptist Church people who picket dead soldiers because of “America’s acceptance of homosexuality”. Leave Naperville now.

Maybe not the most well-argued statement of opposition, but a valid one nonetheless. Of course, Peter LaBarbera fires back by claiming the writer is intolerant because she doesn’t support intolerant anti-gay agendas:

You are very intolerant, if your letter is any indication. Try to be open to other points of view. Sorry, we’re not leaving Naperville despite the anti-religious bigotry of activists like you. By the way, I have denounced Fred Phelps and his ridiculous “God Hates Fags” message (see the story, “LaBarbera Condemns Fred Phelps’ “God Hates Fags” Message and Threatened Picket at Soldier’s Funeral” on Illinois Family Institute’s website).Tolerance is all about tolerating dissenting viewpoints, while engaging in civil debate–i.e., refraining from abusive rhetoric and conduct toward your opponents. Sadly, your menacing note does not qualify.

Sincerely,

Peter LaBarbera

The first annoying part of this email is that LaBoobera immediately labeled the writer as a gay activist. It is possible, but his assumption that only gay and lesbian activists are opposed to his bigoted mission is ignorant. Of course, he has no problem throwing factual accuracy to the wind in order to make a better headline for his story: “Activist to AFT: ‘Leave Naperville Now'”.

Sitting on his pedestal of tolerance, LaBoobera claims to be a decent human being by saying he has denounced Fred Phelps, who has protested at the funerals of AIDS victims, gay hate crime victims and U.S. soldiers, with signs like “God Hates Fags”. But when you read LaBarbera’s alleged “condemnation” of Fred Phelps, it reads like a self-pitying public relations piece. He doesn’t condemn Phelps for preying on gay hate crime victims, he only mentions the funerals of soldiers. He then goes on to explain that he is adamantly against Fred Phelps’ protest because it “fuels societal bigotry toward those who espouse genuine Biblical views on social issues like homosexuality and abortion.” Once again, instead of acknowledging the impact messages like ‘God Hates Fags’ has on gay people, he makes it about himself, claiming Phelps encourages bigotry against Christians. In his distorted mind, “God Hates Fags” is bigotry against anti-gay organizations more than it is bigotry against gay people. Not quite the “condemnation” decent people would expect.

The idea that those who stand up to intolerance are intolerant themselves is ludicrous. Were abolitionists opposed to the KKK intolerant because they vehemently opposed the organization? Are those opposed to neo-Nazis intolerant because they do not support their intolerant agenda? Were women’s rights activists intolerant because they spoke out against the belief in male supremacy? I am not equating Americans for Truth with the KKK (the latter being much worse than the former), but it is important to realize that opposition to the beliefs of intolerant groups does not mean the opposition is intolerant.

The absurdity of his argument seems well understood by most, but anti-gay activists have yet to give up on the message. Americans for “Truth” says “homosexual behavior is always wrong” and that gay and lesbian people “are a threat” to America. To counter this message, which encourages violence and hatred towards gay and lesbian people, is an act of standing up for equal rights and being treated with respect. I know LaBoobera has faced much discrimination and intolerance as a white, male, Christian, heterosexual (what I call the quadruple minority)… but I still insist that opposing his agenda encourages tolerance and exposes intolerance.

Be sure to check out these posts on LaBoobera and Americans for Truth:

Illinois Family Institute and It’s Gay Porn Research Department

First National Anti-Gay Group Devoted Solely to Taking Away Gay Rights

Winning Gay Rights With the Help of Wal-Mart August 26, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in companies & corporations, lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws.
17 comments

The white and conservative face of Wal-Mart is attempting to give itself a make-over, reaching out to diverse groups through both corporate donations and company policies. It’s most recent outreach to the gay and lesbian community is creating a bit of a stir among social conservatives, but Wal-Mart is only one of many global companies that have realized the importance of standing up for equality.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and 253 of the 500 companies also offer domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. These numbers are particularly impressive considering only 34 percent of states have non-discrimination protections for gay and lesbian people, and even fewer offer any kind of protections for same-sex couples.

There are several reasons for American companies’ progressive policies towards gay and lesbian issues:

  • Smart business decision: According to some estimates, gay and lesbian consumers spend about $514 billion a year. Studies have shown that gay and lesbian people react more favorably to products that are advertised or marketed specifically to gays and lesbians, and that gay and lesbian people are more likely to support companies or businesses that support gay and lesbian rights.
  • Obtain the best and the brightest: When presented with a choice, gay and lesbian people are much more likely to work for companies that protect them with non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits. Just recently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison lost one of its most “promising” researchers (who brought in $3.4 million in grants) because the university does not offer domestic partner benefits.
  • Looking to the future: Many companies are beginning to realize that the gay and lesbian movement truly is a civil rights movement and that future generations will judge companies based on their support. Ford Motor Company has been haunted by its anti-Semitic and prejudice-filled past, and like other gay and lesbian supportive companies, it is making sure it does not make the same mistake again.

Although American companies are encouraging progressive social policies, there is no evidence that it influences public opinion on gay and lesbian issues. Where it has the potential to make an impact, however, is with conservative business owners who increasingly realize the importance of respecting gay and lesbian consumers. Business owners and chambers of commerce from Arizona to South Carolina have opposed anti-marriage equality amendments because of its potential impact on the economy.

Unfortunately, companies like Wal-Mart have been accused of broadening its appeal to more progressive consumers by embracing social issues, while ignoring other important problems that would cost the company more money. Nelson Lichtenstein of the University of California – Santa Barbara:

It’s easier to open their arms to the enormously divergent aspects of American cultural lifestyle. It’s cheaper and easier than trying to satisfy their critics who are looking at their wage and health-benefit policies.

This is a tremendous draw-back to some companies’ support of gay and lesbian issues, so it is important to consider a wide-range of issues before supporting large businesses.

When emotional pleas don’t work, the almighty dollar can sometimes change the opinions of companies and business owners. They may not be standing up for equality for the right reasons, but when you are fighting for equal rights, you take what you can get.