Sunday, October 28, 2007

For the Bible Tells me so and a good question for John Edwards too

A big thanks to Pam for pointing to these two great video clips while she was guest blogging for Glenn Greenwald this past week over at Salon:


Why Not Marriage for All?

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a few weeks, but with my life a bit crazy right now, this, along with a dozen other tasks, got put on a back burner. Andrew actually pointed to this article on his website and said this about it:

The next generation literally cannot understand the arguments against marriage equality.

And so of course I had to go and read the article myself. It was worth the read, if for no other reason than a boost to the spirits. And believe me, nothing boosts this momma’s spirits more than imagining James Dobson or Pat Robertson reading this young man’s article and realizing that they’ve lost a good portion of this generation of young people to common sense and a sense of fairness:

I’m usually good at understanding the other side of my political positions. That is partly the case because a college education trains you to do it and partly because I’m paid for analysis and commentary. Even if I disagree, I can almost always see something worthwhile in an opposing argument. Which brings me to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent veto of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. Maybe I can understand his veto. But general opposition to same-sex marriage is absolutely unintelligible to me. It befuddles me. And the more I try to understand it, the more bewildered I become.

He then goes on to describe Proposition 22 which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, Gavin Newsom’s (mayor of San Francisco) “Way Cool” adventure marrying gay and lesbian couples until the courts shut him down, and San Francisco Assemblymember Mark Leno’s bill to legalize gay marriage, which was subsequently vetoed by the Governator.

He admits he doesn’t have problems understanding the process of it all, but when it comes to substance ----- well ----- that is where he simply does not get it. So he breaks it down into the four arguments as he understands them:

1) The will of the people argument:

There was a proposition, people voted and the results were the results. Superficially that seems to work, but it eludes the substantial question, which is why someone would think that same-sex marriage is a topic on which they ought to be allowed to vote and one that they ought to vote against.

2) Marriage is defined on the basis of child-rearing:

Maybe a mixed-sex couple provides the most stable foundation for raising children, which is why marriage is restricted to them. But that’s factually inaccurate on three counts. First, there’s no compelling evidence for the truth of the statement. Second, that’s an inept description of how the institution of marriage actually functions. We don’t ask for fertility tests before people can marry, nor do we prevent unstable people from marrying and reproducing. Hell, Britney did it. And finally, if that really were the case, don’t you think the government would be much more active in preventing out-of-wedlock births?

3) Marriage has traditionally always been between a man and a woman:

That is, marriage has always been heterosexual so it ought to stay that way. But that’s both descriptively inaccurate and normatively insufficient. Even if we confine the domain of analysis to Western societies, marriage is a highly variable institution.

Both within and amongst faiths the understanding of marriage has changed throughout the centuries. I don’t think we’re requiring dowries anymore. Anyhow, even if something were to be shown to be ancient, that hardly makes it correct. Human sacrifice is really old. Warfare is awfully ancient. Slavery was around for a really long time, too.

4) Gay marriage is considered morally wrong by most religions:

Some churches frown on homosexuality. Well, rock on. I’m not here to tell any faith how to do its job. But, conversely, religion ought not to tell democracy how to do its job. Against gay marriage? All right then, refuse to sanction those unions within your faith community. But religious objections are insufficient to dictate public policy to a pluralistic, secular society.

And after going through all of the arguments in a futile attempt to better understand the other side’s vehement objections to gay marriage, the author is forced to admit that he is still … um … confused:

Sometimes at the end of the column I’ve reached a conclusion. Sometimes I’ve sharpened my understanding. This week, all I can do is throw up my hands. If you have a better argument, I’d love to hear it. But until then, I don’t get it.

Well let me help out a bit here. There is no argument that provides good enough cover for the real reason they object to gay marriage: irrational homophobia. So instead they throw all these stupid arguments out there and hope like hell that one of them sticks. And of course they also have to hope that people are stupid enough to buy at least one of them.

And sadly, some people do buy into it. But if this young man is any indication of what’s to come with this next generation, the Religious Right’s hay days with homophobia and fear-mongering are numbered. Share

Just wondering…

There are two people in my life right now that I choose to spend as little time around as possible. And if I could, I’d choose never to be around either one of them at all. They are two people whose behavior can at times be so ugly and so un-Christian-like that I can hardly tolerate the little bit of time I’m forced to be around them.

Both are family members, one by blood and one by marriage. And both of these people never miss an opportunity to let anyone around them know what “good Christians” they are. But from what I can see, these two people claim “Good Christian” status solely on things like how many times they plant their butts in a church pew and how well they can spew cherry-picked Bible passages in people’s faces, because when it comes to walking the walk, these two people are the antithesis of what I have always believed a good Christian to be.

All of this got me to wondering. Why is it that:

· Some of the most hard-core, in-your-face “Christians” today are also some of the people who have done the most despicable things in their own life and sunk to low points most people don’t even know exist? And why is it that when so many of these people find God they automatically assume that everyone else has conducted their lives as horribly as they have and thus need to be saved? And why do they feel it is their duty, as “Good Christians” of course, to be the ones that must do the saving? Does it not occur to these so-called “Good Christians” that there are people who have done their best to lead moral lives from the get-go and don’t want or need to be saved? Now don’t get me wrong here, kudos to anyone who has turned their life around and become a fine upstanding, decent human being, that’s absolutely wonderful and quite commendable, but for those that “find God” and think it’s their mission to save everyone else from being the lowlife they were, spare me. I am not looking to any person for salvation. That is between me and my God.

· And why do many of these same people assume a “better-than-you” arrogance once they’ve claimed “Good Christian” status? And how is it that once that “better-than-you” attitude is adopted, they then feel justified in condemning and oppressing anyone they judge to be a lesser human being? Wasn’t humility one of the greatest lessons Jesus taught his disciples?

· And since when did planting one’s fanny in a Church pew or spewing cherry-picked Bible passages qualify anyone for sainthood? Doesn’t one also have to walk the walk? One of the so-called “Good Christians” in my life is also one of the biggest racists and homophobes I know. Some of the ugly stuff that comes out of his mouth simply boggles my mind, and yet he goes to church at least 3 times a week and points that fact out to anyone who’ll listen.

· And don’t these people know how highly personal faith or lack of faith is to most people? I have always believed that religion is an extremely private matter and I find anyone who gets in my face and tries to push their beliefs onto me highly offensive, rude, and out-of-bounds. My immediate reaction is to shut down and seek the nearest escape route.

· And why is everything so black and white in so many of these people’s world? Life’s problems are just too complex to be solved by a one-size-fits-all solution. And yet the cold absolutism of many of these people’s convictions leaves no room for intelligent debate. In fact there is no room for ideas that conflict with their own. Trying to talk to people who are that close-minded is like trying to breathe in a room with no air. Impossible.

· And why do so many people believe that merely saying something makes it so? A big red flag goes up the minute someone tells me that he/she is a good Christian. A good Christian doesn’t have to tell anyone they are a good Christian, it should be obvious in the way that person conducts his/her life.

· And what’s with the authoritarian, force-fed type of Christianity that has become so prevalent among so many of these so-called Christians today, including the two in my life? So much of what Jesus taught was taught by example, not by force.

I guess there is no better time to see people’s true colors than when life is at its most difficult and challenging. And if ever there was a difficult and challenging time in my life, it is now. Ever since my mom’s accident and subsequent brain injury, I have gotten quite the opportunity to see the two “Good Christians” in my life up close and personal, and it hasn’t been pretty. It really is amazing what times like this reveal about one’s true character, regardless of how many times they go to church or spout passages from the Bible. Share

That’s it in a nutshell John – thanks for saying it so well

Let me start this post with a big fat thank you to John Cole who gave me my first reason to smile this morning, even though he didn’t mean to. He went into a little rant last night about something Andrew Sullivan posted about yesterday.

Now I bring this up not because I want to discuss the outrage that Andrew posted about (although we should all be furious about this), but because I loved the reaction John had to the outrage. John is a man who has had it with his party and the current state of affairs in this country. I have watched his slow descent into political no-man’s land with a keen eye since it pretty much coincided with my own slow and tortured realization that I too belonged to a party I didn’t recognize nor want anything to do with. And so when John gets angry, it usually coincides with my own barely pent-up fury. But no one can more efficiently put their thoughts into words than John can. He has the uncanny ability to pack into just a few lines what would take me a few pages and hours of unmitigated fury to do. So I will spare myself the agony and nasty emotions I’d have to go through to write anything even half as good as what he writes and just lift his words verbatim since he’s so much more fun to read when he’s angry:

Go fuck yourself. To death.

I am tired of being patient with you nannies and your stupid self-serving rules and your slippery slopes and your bullshit and your need to be tough on crime and your earnest concerns about society. Mind your own business, get your own house in order, stop fucking interns and little boys and cheating on your wives and on your taxes and being found dead wearing two wetsuits with a dildo shoved up your ass. Just mind your own damned business, and let people do what they must to deal with their own screwed up lives, and let people handle their pain the best way they can.

I am sick of the bullshit. Life is hard for most people out there, and damned near impossible for people in chronic pain. Quit making it worse, you allegedly compassionate sons-of-bitches.

See what I mean? Isn’t he wonderful when he’s angry?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A tad bit of an understatement

But still a point well taken...

Dear sweet Jesus, how did I ever think I belonged in a tent with the likes of her? Share

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The culture wars: Dear Abby vs. James Dobson

Dear Abby vs. James Dobson

I haven’t quite found that working balance between my life right now and my life as it was before my mom’s accident and slow recovery. I am painfully aware that it has been my blog that has taken the biggest hit and it just kills me, but my priorities have had to be temporarily re-ordered. I humbly ask you to forgive my neglect, bear with me a little longer, and don’t mistake my absence for apathy. My focus may be on other things right now, but the seething anger that prompted me to start this blog in the first place is still bubbling just below the surface. And that will not change until this country undergoes some major changes.

And what might some of those changes be? Well, for starters we must rid our government of every damned “family values” hypocrite in office right now and replace them with people whose values don’t include demonizing and dividing America for the benefit of a vote. And actually we got a good start on this in the 2006 elections, but there’s still a hell of a lot more house cleaning to do, which means we still have a lot more seething to do as well.

This momma isn’t going to calm down til George Bush, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others of similar ilk are just nasty black stains in America’s history and the homophobia they whipped up and kept alive a shameful chapter we’d just like to forget ever happened.

Now that’s not to say there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, because there is, and it is getting bigger. These are some of the articles just recently that have given me hope and James Dobson heartburn (and anything that gives James Dobson and his band of “hate-mongering in the name of Jesus Christ” hypocrites heartburn, gives this momma great hope and optimism):

James Dobson's Rudy problem

Endorsing GOP front-runner Giuliani would be anathema to Dobson's evangelical base, but his "third-party" alternative could be a boon for Democrats.


When James Dobson warns that he will lead evangelical conservatives and other "values voters" in a third-party revolt if the Republican Party nominates Rudolph Giuliani for president -- as the Focus on the Family president warned in Thursday's New York Times -- it is hard to suppress a cynical smirk.


But this time could be different for the increasingly disgruntled Dobson and his theocratic cohort. This time they may feel they have no choice but to follow through on their threat to support a "minor party" candidate.

Or how about this article which indirectly indicts the Head Holy Homophobe in the Vatican (another one who will always be a huge target of this momma’s ire and disgust)? The Catholic Church’s homophobia has consequences and this article highlights those consequences.

While some parents choose to remain in the Church, many others like me decide to leave. Their reasons may vary slightly from mine: I cannot keep going back to an institution that tells me my son is “intrinsically evil” and “objectively disordered” while conveniently forgetting the fact that they hid true intrinsic evil within their ranks for decades by shuffling pedophile priests from unsuspecting parish to unsuspecting parish in order to protect their coffers rather than the innocents entrusted to them, but in the end, we all seem to arrive at the same place:

Fortunate Families

Catholic parents of lesbian daughters and gay sons share their stories with U.S. bishops.


Parents grieve that the institutionalized Church’s inadequate response has distanced many parents from the Church and driven many of their daughters and sons away from it. Parents also grieve what they view as a failure of the institutional Church to follow the compassionate example of Jesus. If forced to choose, they choose their children over the institutional Church, but they do not lose their faith in Christ.

And then there is the recent news about Dear Abby and gay marriage. No one can deny that when someone as respected and main-stream as Dear Abby comes out in favor of gay marriage, the religious kooks have a big problem. And I’d say this article may be signaling that it is time for them to go back to the drawing board on fundraising. Looks like their traditional cash cow, fear-mongering about gay marriage and gay sex, may soon not be as financially lucrative as it has been in the past if more people like Dear Abby start speaking up. All that money made on the backs of our gay and lesbian children will start to dry up and these religious nutcases will have to find another poor unsuspecting group to demonize and terrorize in the name of God and profit:

"Dear Abby" says she's for marriage equality

For years, rumblings have surfaced on the Internet, conjecture about her casual references to "sexual orientation" and "respect." Now, Dear Abby is ready to say it flatly: She supports same-sex marriage.

"I believe if two people want to commit to each other, God bless 'em," the syndicated advice columnist told The Associated Press. "That is the highest form of commitment, for heaven's sake."

What Jeanne Phillips, aka Abigail Van Buren, finds offensive and misguided are homophobic jokes, phrases like "That's so gay," and parents who reject or try to reform their children when they come out of the closet.

And lastly, it is not just main-stream columnists who are shifting in support of gay and lesbian equality, but also main-stream America, which tells me that Dear Abby has more clout than James Dobson:

Polls Show that on the 20th Anniversary of the Lesbian & Gay March on Washington, Acceptance of Gays and Lesbians Has Increased Dramatically

… Comparing public opinion polls on key issues from 1987 to today shows a dramatic shift in support for equal job opportunities, open military service, and inclusion in hate crimes law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

"For twenty years, the GLBT community has been coming out and putting an ever-more personal face to issues in our lives, and that is clearly changing hearts and minds," said Mark Shields, director of the HRC Coming Out Project. "Americans have come to know their GLBT friends and family in a new way in the last 20 years, and those relationships have changed the cultural landscape."

Visibility: The findings also indicate a sharp increase over the past two decades in the number of Americans who say they personally know or work with someone who identifies as gay or lesbian: 72 percent today, according to Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. In 1987, just 11 percent reported to ABC News and the Washington Post that they associated with a "male homosexual" on a regular basis.

Relationship Recognition: Today, 60 percent of Americans support same-sex marriages or civil unions, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll. Twenty years ago only 12 percent of Americans agreed that "homosexual couples" should have the right to marry, according to the National Opinion Research Center.

See? There is reason to be optimistic, but not complacent. So keep on seething, but go ahead and temper it with some hope.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Um Obama? When did the GOP ever own faith and values?

I’m scanning headlines on my Google Home page and I see this headline: Obama: GOP doesn't own faith and values:

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (CNN) — After speaking to an evangelical church on Sunday in this traditionally conservative South Carolina city, Sen. Barack Obama said that Republicans no longer have a firm grip on religion in political discourse.

Now I am a big fan of Senator Obama’s, but my knee-jerk reaction to this headline was revulsion. If I could have just a few minutes of face time with the good Senator, I’d say this:

Where have you been these past 6 ½ years Senator Obama? When has the GOP ever owned faith and values? On just about a daily basis, the Republican Party proved to the American people that they have NEVER owned faith and values, nor, quite frankly, showed any sign that they even had the vaguest idea what faith and values were beyond convenient buzz words to rally the religious kooks within their base. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if anything, the Republican Party has done irreparable damage to both concepts. I know many people, who like myself, reflexively cringe and swallow hard to keep the bile from coming up and burning their throats each time a GOP blowhard utters anything about faith and values.

It’s time to stop being so meek on this. These guys have never ever owned the moral high ground and it’s time to stop pretending they ever did.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Family Values – Utah style

Sometimes I just want to go out and howl at the moon when I read things like this:

A woman that can’t care for her four children—she’s got a drug problem, the father is not on the scene—begged her uncle to take in her children. He’s already raising two children but he did the right thing and took in his niece’s four children—kids that range in age from 10 months to 11 years old. Enter the state of Utah. The man that took in his niece’s four kids is gay and lives with a male partner. The state of Utah wants to remove the four children from the home of Michael Gregg Valdez—he’s the uncle—and Michael Oberg and put them in foster care.

But in Utah there's one big problem with this whole scenario:

To the state, it's a simple matter of the law, which says that to adopt or be a foster parent, you must be legally married or single and not cohabitating.

But for the four siblings whose lives could be forever affected by this ludicrous homophobic law there’s an even bigger, more heartbreaking problem than Utah’s rabid fear of Teh Gay:

An 11-year-old boy who is in the temporary custody of his great-uncle says he wants to stay where he is. But his great-uncle is gay, and the state of Utah doesn’t license foster couples who aren’t legally married.

That means this boy and his three brothers and sisters could be taken away from relatives and split up until their mother regains custody.

The boy said, “I would rather live with my mom. But if I can’t, I’d rather live here.”

But because of this asinine law, tearing this family apart would be inevitable since:

Finding foster parents for four siblings ranging in age from 10 months to 11 years is nearly impossible. Finding adoptive parents for a sibling group that large is utterly impossible. But the law in Utah is clear: These four children should be tossed into the foster care system, potentially separated from each other for the rest of their lives, and if their mother loses custody permanently, denied any chance of a stable home. Because it would be illegal to place these children in the care of a loving, stable same-sex couple that they’re related to.

Well thankfully not everyone in Utah is insane:

Officials [requested] that the court take custody or grant custody to the state’s Division of Child and Family Services. On Friday, the courts took custody, then turned around and granted Valez temporary custody of the children.

“The judge said, ‘I see absolutely no reason why the kids can’t stay where they’re at,’” Valdez said.

Thank goodness there are still people around with enough decency, common sense, and the heart to do right by these kids.

Family Values? Pfffffffft!

Time to go out and howl at the moon, thanks a lot Andrew and Dan.


A Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

There is an article in the Chicago Tribune today that should be required reading for every parent who doesn’t want to damn their child to the life of deep self-hatred and shame that people like Larry Craig and Ted Haggard have lived. It is titled A Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name. Here are a few snippets:

Imagine growing up knowing that the gut-turning, joy-giving longing you feel for another person automatically marginalizes you. Imagine that look on your pastor's face, your mom's, your friends' -- that look that is reserved for bad smells and perverts. Only it's you they're looking at.


Gay men and lesbians, on the other hand, are told every day that every person they will ever love is a mark of their lesser humanity. That, indeed, the love they feel -- the love -- is repulsive.


But if we really want to stop dignified older gentlemen from approaching potential sex partners in hidden places, we need to start teaching impressionable young kids that they are OK no matter who they love.

It's not whom you love, it's how you love. And God knows that, even if we don't yet.

We’ve got to defend our gay and lesbian children against those people who demonize them in the name of God. They not only destroy our children’s chance for a happy healthy life, but they also make a mockery of the loving God they use as their cover for hate. Share

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sorry James Dobson, but today’s gay and lesbian children aren’t doomed after-all--- no matter how hard you try to make it so

Andrew has a post over at his place that caught my eye. It is titled Healing the Wounds and it starts off by citing a survey on gay and lesbian mental health. It is a study that gives me great hope that our gay and lesbian children today won’t be as vulnerable to the the twisted, tortured, closeted existences that the Larry Craigs and Ted Haggards of earlier generations endured before them:

The study found that, across all race/ethnic groups, younger cohorts of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (those in age groups 18 – 29 and 30 – 44 as compared with 45 – 59 years old) had lower prevalence of almost all mental disorders categories, and the difference was statistically significant for mood disorders. Younger cohorts also had fewer serious suicide attempts than did older cohorts (but this was statistically significant only for the middle cohort).

This is good news for any parent who has a gay or lesbian child. Watching people like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig literally self-destruct from years of lies, self-loathing, and deceit has been a very difficult thing to watch. Their public humiliation had a close-to-home palpability that truly made me fear for my own son’s mental health and sense of self-worth. I could only shake my head and pray that we’d sufficiently proved to our son how much we loved him and how inconsequential his sexual orientation was to that fact.

But it sure didn’t help that my husband and I, like most parents, didn’t learn our son was gay until so late in the game when our influence on him was waning and he was so close to leaving home for college. I really worried that he might believe that all those years of telling him how much we loved him would suddenly be cancelled out because he wasn’t who we thought he was. Thus our final months with him at home were a desperate almost comical attempt to fit into a short amount of time what we thought we’d already accomplished during his 18 years growing into a young man: reaffirming to him (ad nauseam) that absolutely nothing could ever change how we felt about him.

Andrew’s take on this study is quite interesting and worth quoting in its entirety:

The civil rights movement has already made the lives of gay people better (apart, it seems, from John Waters). The younger generation has to deal with so much less pressure than mine did, let alone those emotionally tortured in previous eras. Why some want to prevent this improvement, why they actively want to promote depression, anxiety and low self-esteem among gay people - and why they think this is better for society as a whole - remains a mystery to me. But that is currently the position of the Republican party. My best guess is that they're simply afraid of what they do not know or understand. And so they seek to persecute it.

I believe he is right about how much easier this younger gay and lesbian generation will have it and why, but I also think he is being entirely too kind and forgiving towards the Republican Party and their motives for demonizing a whole segment of American society. But regardless of what the Republican Party’s reasons for persecution were, it really doesn’t matter much anymore, they may have tried to make life miserable for gays and lesbians these past 6 ½ years, but it looks like the biggest victims were the tortured souls within their own ranks. Share