Eddie Long: David v. Goliath
September 26th, 2010
Bishop Eddie Long took to the pulpit today to defend himself against growing charges that he used his position, wealth, influence, and power to groom teenage boys for his sexual use. (AJC)
I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man being portrayed on television That’s not me. That is not me.
I am not going to try this case in the media, it will be tried in the court of justice and decided in the court of justice. Please hear this: I’ve been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know as I said earlier I am not a perfect man. … But this thing I’m going to fight. I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.
I’ve noticed of late that those who seek to prey on others are quickest to wrap themselves in the mantle of martyr. To portray themselves as the victim of powerful nefarious forces.
Bishop Eddie Long with his international fame, multi-million dollar mansion, private jets, powerful political allies, and 25,000 cheering parishioners is the “David”, while these penniless boys are the “Goliath.”
Eddie Long loves his money and his power and if he goes down, it won’t be gracefully. He’s promised to fight the charges. In his press conference following the service he said
“On the advice of counsel, I am not going to address the allegations and the attacks. I want this to be dealt with in the court of justice not the court of public opinion. I am going to fight. Fight very vigorously. Things New Birth has stood for … we will continue to do.”
Dan Savage: It Gets Better
September 25th, 2010
The news about Billy Lucas, the Indiana teen who committed suicide after his bullying classmates assaulted him with anti-gay epithets and told him to go home and kill himself, has shocked the conscience of people everywhere — except for his fellow classmates who continued to leave epithets on his Facebook memorial page.
It’s tough, it’s really tough to read about these horrible tragedies which occur all-too-frequently, and it’s outrageous when we see anti-gay activists like Focus On the Family deliberately setting out to preserve the intolerable status quo. Dan Savage discussed his reaction to Billy’s suicide in a recent Savage Love column:
“My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas,” a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. “I wish I could have told you that things get better.”
I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.
Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
Dan and his partner have created a wonderful video describing their difficult experiences in school, but the focus is on the fact that as soon as they made it through high school, it got better. Much, much better. As Terry, Dan’s partner of sixteen years, put it:
Honestly, things got better the day I left high school. I didn’t see the bullies every day. I didn’t see people who harassed me every day. I didn’t have to see the school administrators who did nothing about it every day. Life instantly got better.
The decision to end one’s life hinges on the hopelessness of believing that things will never get any better, that the hell you’re living today is as it always will be. Dan encourages young people to consider that their lives can be long, and if they can see their way clear to make it through the situation they find themselves in now, things really will get better:
If there are fourteen and fifteen and sixteen-year-olds — thirteen-year-olds, twelve-year-olds — out there watching this video, what I’d love you to take away from it really is that it gets better. However bad it is now, it gets better. And it can get great and it can get awesome. Your life can be amazing. But you have to tough this period of it out and you have to live your life so that you’re around for it to get amazing. And it can and it will.
Dan has started a YouTube channel called “It Gets Better” for people to contribute their own videos. The channel is not for people to dwell on the horrible experiences that they had, but to include those experiences in a broader message of how things got better after high school. Ninety videos have been posted so far. If you want to include your video, you’ll find instructions on the channel’s home page.
Meanwhile, here’s another one:
All those years in high school where I was sitting there being like, you know, ‘Who understands me? And why can’t I find them? Where are they?’
They had been there the whole time waiting for me to get through high school and to graduate and to get up the courage to leave that awful phase behind. Everyone who has supported me, everyone who loves me for who I am, exactly the way I am, they had always been there. They weren’t born the day I came out. And they weren’t born even a month before I came out. They’ve been there with open arms just waiting for me to come alive and to realize my potential.
And all the people who are going to be there for you on the other side, they’re walking around wondering where you are now. And they’re waiting excitedly with open arms.
LGBT Jamaicans and Allies Protest “Corrective Rapes”
September 25th, 2010
A small group under the auspices of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) held a silent protest at Emancipation Park, a major Kingston landmark, on Friday. The protest was in response to two incidents within days of each other earlier this month, when knife-wielding thugs carried out ‘corrective rapes’ of two lesbians. This follows at least six reported rapes against lesbians in 2009.
According to J-FLAG, several LGBT allies joined in the protest, including representatives from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, members of Jamaicans for Justice, Pride in Action, Women for Women, Sex Work Association of Jamaica, Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and AIDS Free World. J-FLAG continues:
International defence attorney Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, noted that “the issue of violence against gays and lesbians is a human rights issue and I was taking a stand to support that as it is important to keep the issue of rights in the public’s consciousness.”
Susan Goffe, member of Jamaicans For Justice, said “it is important to understand the effect of homophobic rhetoric and the feeling that it is alright to target members of the LGBT community. The state must clearly illustrate by its action that it defends and protects the rights of women and this includes all women regardless of their sexuality. The acts against these women should unambiguously be condemned.”
While the protest was numerically small and lasted only a half hour, it was an audacious showing considering the dangerous atmosphere LGBT people in Jamaica live in. Jamaican society has a deplorable track records when it comes to anti-gay sentiment, where popular dance-hall artists regularly call for killing gay people in their concerts and recordings. Jamaican law currently outlaws male homosexuality with up to ten years in prison. Police mistreatment, mob attacks, death threats, murders all occur on an all-too regular basis under official indifference.
Long May Resign As A Fourth Accuser Comes Forward
September 24th, 2010
Black Voices reports that Bishop Eddie Long, the virulently anti-gay megachurch pastor who has been accused of improper sexual conduct with three male youth group members, may step down as pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church following his sermon on Sunday.
This comes amid rumors that as many as thirty other young men have contacted attorney B.J. Bernstein about filing lawsuits against Long or joining existing lawsuits. Bernstein already represented three young men who alleged that Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities in exchange for sexual favors. Today, Bernstein filed a fourth lawsuit on behalf of another young man:
His latest accuser, Spencer LeGrande, claims he was 17 when he began a sexual relationship with Long while accompanying the bishop on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya.
LeGrande, of Charlotte, N.C., alleges in a civil suit filed Friday in DeKalb Countythat Long gave him an Ambien, a popular prescription sleep aid, followed by a “prolonged hug,” kissing and rubbing, according to the suit.
The suit claims the two shared a bed for the remainder of their trip.
LeGrande moved to North Carolina in 2009 when he became disillusioned with his relationship with Long. LeGrand’s father spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and said that while he didn’t know about the relationship, there were red flags. He also said he wondered why his son’s stay in Atlanta seem to end so abruptly.
The other three lawsuits also accuse Long of using Bible verses to reinforce a spiritual connection between himself and the young [men], and he called the young men his “spiritual sons.” ABC News has obtained two guys-with-iphones stlye photos that Long sent to one of the men in which he is seen wearing a muscle shirt and spandex.
According to the allegations, the sexual relationships began when the boys were seventeen, which is above the age of consent in Georgia. Long appears to have followed a pattern of singling out boys who did not have a strong relationship with their fathers.
Long has been among the more virulently anti-gay pastors. Sirius/XM Radio’s Michelangelo Signorile played a portion of a 2007 sermon in which Long declared, “God says you deserve death!”
[Hat tip: Alvin McEwen]
LCR responds to Justice Department’s ridiculous filing
September 24th, 2010
The Justice Department argued that it would be beyond the scope of Judge Phillip’s authority to issue a world-wide injunction on the enforcement of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. LCR has replied, noting that this question has already been addressed by the court.
MR. FREEBORNE: With regard to the last point, this Court’s jurisdiction would only extend to this district. They are asking for nationwide relief, which this Court would not even have the power to effectuate a nationwide injunction. This is not a class action; this is a case brought within this district.
THE COURT: But how in the world could — if the plaintiffs succeed in this case on the relief that they are seeking, are you suggesting that an injunction would be only directed to service members serving within the Ninth Circuit?
MR. FREEBORNE: Your Honor, this Court does not have nationwide jurisdiction to issue an injunction.
THE COURT: Are you suggesting that, theoretically, if a district court orders that any regulation or federal law is unconstitutional, it only applies in the district where the Court sits?
MR. FREEBORNE: Well, Your Honor, we can put that issue aside. I just note that I think that —
THE COURT: That’s because I think you are incorrect.
As for the idea that it should only be limited to the Log Cabin Republican members,
The government’s first argument objecting to a worldwide injunction against DADT is that such an injunction should be limited to Log Cabin Republicans and its current members (who, in an appalling Catch-22, the government implies should be specifically identified as “bona fide LCR members”). This objection should be summarily rejected. This case was never litigated or tried on the basis that Log Cabin sought to invalidate DADT only for its own members; on the contrary, this case was brought as a facial challenge.
More, more, more amicus
September 24th, 2010
Three more amicus briefs were filed today in addition to those of Ed Whelan and Liberty Counsel.
II. MORALITY IS A LEGITIMATE BASIS FOR LEGISLATION.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558(2003), did not abolish the legitimacy of morality as a state interest. Indeed, to have done so would have been both revolutionary and destructive, as morality has long been recognized as a basis for law, and countless laws today rest upon morality. The district court therefore erred in dismissing moral considerations out of hand.
Something called The Hausvater Project, which appears to be related to the parochial schools of the conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod filed to support “the right of parents to determine their children’s education”. This one flummoxed me; I have no idea what they are talking about.
Parents have a fundamental right to determine their children’s education, protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause. California citizens voting in favor of Prop. 8 (“Prop. 8 Supporters”) had, and on their behalf the defendant-intervenors-appellants (“Prop. 8 Proponents”) in this case continue to have, good reason to regard Prop. 8 as a safeguard of that fundamental constitutional right. Since the safeguarding of a constitutional right properly serves the state’s interest, the district court erred in concluding that Prop. 8 serves no legitimate or compelling state interest. Moreover, parents’ fundamental right to determine their children’s education should take priority over the competing claims of plaintiffs-appellees Kristin Perry et al./same-sex couples (“Prop. 8 Opponents”) who plea for Equal Protection and Due Process rights to same-sex marriage.
It seems that they are arguing that because the Proposition 8 campaign played on the fears of parents (“I learned in class that a prince could marry another prince, and I can marry a princess!”) that therefore it is based in the constitutional right of parents to make sure that public schools condemn the things which they condemn. Or something like that.
Which is an odd argument coming from an organization of parochial schools.
The second part of their argument was that allowing gay people to marry would have a “chilling impact” on the religious freedoms of those who want to stop them. If governments actually treat gay people as full citizens and if schools refer to them as such, then it greatly reduces the impact of those who preach from pulpits that they are not.
Far from furthering a state interest, such religious organizations would be in opposition to a state interest, at least insofar as one accepts the district court’s own identifications of the state’s interest and the religious groups’ motivations. This is not small potatoes.
And if Judge Walker’s decision is left intact it would lead to “nothing short of the abolition of parochial schools and homeschooling.” And then they really go bat-poop crazy. It’s all a plan on the part of the homosexuals to destroy family and society; first they redefine marriage and then they’ll take away our children.
A tremendous burden falls now to this court as to whether those asserting the freedom to chose a spouse of the same sex can secure that socially constructed status apart from denying, with increasing tenacity, the fundamental right of a man and a woman to direct the education of the children whom nature calls their own. The social engineers of incremental strategies favoring same-sex marriage have themselves answered the question in the negative. Whatever disappointment a reversal of the district court’s decision may bring to the particular homosexual couples who originated the complaint, at least they will be liberated from serving as pawns in a larger scheme that ultimately would constrain not only their neighbors’ liberties, but also their own.
And finally we have the amicus brief of
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The California Catholic Conference
The National Association of Evangelicals
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons)
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The Calvary Chapel Fellowship of Ministries of California
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc.
The Council of Korean Churches in Southern California
Southern California Korean Ministers Association
Holy Movement for America
Believe me, other than all being in the broad category of “Christian” and being devoted to the condemnation of gay people and bringing harm to their lives, these folks have nothing in common. It takes a powerful amount of joint purpose, in this case their religious-based animus towards gay people, to get them in the same room.
And I do find it interesting just who is not present in this joint statement. This, more than most any other document, draws the line between combatants over the religious direction of the nation.
We write separately to answer the district court’s distortion and condemnation of our beliefs as irrational and illegitimate and to defend the constitutional right of citizens and associations of faith to participate fully in the democratic process. Contrary to the aspersions cast by the decision below, our beliefs about marriage are not based on hatred or bigotry. Our support for traditional marriage has vastly more to do with a rich tapestry of affirmative teachings about marriage and family than with doctrines directed at the issue of homosexuality. To be sure, our religious beliefs hold that all sexual acts outside traditional marriage are contrary to God’s will. But our faiths also entreat us to love and embrace those who reject our beliefs, not to hate or mistreat them. Bigotry is contrary to our most basic religious convictions.
A bit ironic when you consider that the purpose of this brief is not to love and embrace those who reject their beliefs, but rather to force by law those beliefs which they cannot persuade through preaching.
Faith communities and religious organizations have a long and vibrant history of upholding marriage as the union of a man and a woman for reasons that have little or nothing to do with homosexuality. Indeed, their support for traditional marriage precedes by centuries the very notion of homosexuality as a recognized sexual orientation (see ER106), not to mention the recent movement for same-sex marriage. Many of this nation’s prominent faith traditions have rich religious narratives that describe and extol the personal, familial, and social virtues of traditional marriage while mentioning homosexuality barely, if at all.
Except, of course, that every single denomination listed decries homosexuality as sinful, rebellious, or evil. Without exception.
The gist of their argument is that it is unfair of Judge Walker to take a side in the religious culture war, that they have the right to try and vote their religious beliefs into law, and besides they loooooove the homosexual, they just want to grant special privilege to those who follow their beliefs.
Judge Orders Lesbian Discharged Under DADT Reinstated
September 24th, 2010
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton has ordered Air Force Reserve Major Margaret Witt reinstated as the result of her lawsuit challenging her dismissal under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Judge Leighton wrote:
The application of “Dont’s Ask Don’t Tell” to Major Margaret Witt does not significantly further the government’s interest in promoting military readiness, unit morale and cohesion. Her discharge from the Air Force Reserves violated her substantive due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. She should be restored to her position as a Flight Nurse with the 446th AES as soon as is practicable, subject to meeting applicable regulations touching upon qualifications necessary for continued service.
Major Witt, who had been in a committed six year relationship with a woman whose home she shared in Spokane, Washington, testified that she had never disclosed her sexual orientation to her colleagues and she never engaged in prohibited behavior while on duty or on military grounds. The Air Force learned of Witt’s sexuality when Witt’s partner’s ex-husband informed Air Force officials. The judge noted Witt’s exemplary performance in her unit and found that there was no evidence that her presence had any affect on unit cohesiveness or effectiveness:
The evidence produced at trial overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the suspension and discharge of Margaret Witt did not significantly further the important government interest in advancing unit morale and cohesion. To the contrary, the actions taken against Major Witt had the opposite effect. The 446th AES is a highly professional, rapid response, air evacuation team. It is comprised of flight nurses and medical technicians who are well-trained, well-led and highly motivated. They provide a vital service to our fighting men and women around the world. Serving within that unit are known or suspected gay or lesbian service men and women. … These people train together, fly together, care for patients together, deploy together. There is nothing in the record before this Court suggesting that the sexual orientation (acknowledged or suspected) has negatively impacted the performance, dedication or enthusiasm of the 446th AES. There is no evidence that wounded troops care about the sexual orientation of the flight nurse or medical technician tending to their wounds.
Witt’s first legal attempt to challenge her discharge resulted in a court loss in 2006. But in 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the military can’t discharge gay servicemembers without proof that the discharge would further military goals.
This ruling represents yet another setback for “Don’t Ask, Dont Tell” in the courts. Earlier this month, another Federal Judge ruled the policy unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by Log Cabin Republicans. Yesterday, the Justice Department asked the judge to limit the scope of that ruling to current LCR members only.
Which means that if the Justice Department’s request prevails in the LCR case, then there would be two legal exceptions carved out of DADT: current LCR members and Major Witt. For everyone else, the discharges will continue — unless everyone challenges their discharges in court. Is that really what it’s going to take to finally get rid of this sucker?
Washington Post gets the HIV prevalence story wrong
September 24th, 2010
Darryl Fears of the Washington Post starts off with
Study puts HIV rate among gay men at 1 in 5
One in five gay men in the United States has HIV, and almost half of those who carry the virus are unaware that they are infected, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
The problem? That’s just flat false.
As we reported, the CDC study was of men in urban settings and not reflective of gay men on the whole. It was not even representative of gay urban men, just those who are living it up at the bars.
And there is a material difference.
As we have stated in the past, only about 12% of gay men are infected with HIV. But Fears doesn’t have to take our word for it, it’s right there in the study which he was reporting. And the CDC made a point of warning against reporting their study in a sensational way:
Finally, these findings are limited to men who frequented MSM-identified venues (most of which were bars [45%] and dance clubs [22%]) during the survey period in 21 [metropolitan statistical areas] with high AIDS prevalence; the results are not representative of all MSM. A lower HIV prevalence (11.8%) has been reported among MSM in the general U.S. population. [emphasis mine]
While it may take an extra few minutes to read the whole report, it can make the difference between providing news and spouting nonsense.
Of course the Post was not alone is their sloppy reporting. The AP was actually worse
One in five sexually active gay and bisexual men has the AIDS virus, and nearly half of those don’t know they are infected, a federal study of 21 U.S. cities shows.
“We don’t have a generalized epidemic in the United States. We have a concentrated epidemic among certain populations.”
Even gay magazine, Bay Windows, got in on the act with the headline, “CDC: One in five gay, bi men is HIV-positive”.
Yet more amicus briefs in support of Prop 8
September 24th, 2010
Adding to the growing pile (both in size and in lunacy) of amicus briefs filed in support of the Prop 8 Proponents, today we have Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Mat Staver and his merry crew at Liberty Counsel.
Whelan chimes in to “provide a survey of the district judge’s remarkable course of misconduct in this case.” Liberty Counsel’s amicus was designed to make sure that the crazier elements of the anti-gays were represented, specifically Campaign for Children and Families and Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. CCF is the home of Randy Thomasson and is so wackadoodle that the Prop 8 Proponents went to court to bar them from participating. JONAH is the Jewish ex-gay group founded by convicted Wall Street con-man Arthur Goldberg.
Whelan basically just whines about how Judge Walker was not fair!! There wasn’t much of interest in the he’s a big ol’ meanie brief, but the Liberty Counsel brief was a delight. Predictably, they thought it was a smart move to prove the judge’s point that the anti-gay marriage movement was motivated by fear and loathing of gay people.
You might say that Liberty Counsel, CCF, and JONAH presented the quintessential Animus Brief.
II. SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS ARE DIFFERENT THAN OPPOSITE-SEX RELATIONSHIPS.
Wholly apart from the biological and procreative differences between opposite-sex and same-sex couples, the psychological and medical risks associated with the homosexual lifestyle are contrary to the district court’s conclusion that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are, in essence, the same. (FF nos. 48, 70). It is well documented that those engaged in the homosexual lifestyle have much greater incidence of substance abuse, mental health problems, medical illness, and relationship dysfunctions. Documenting these facts, a recently published, peer-reviewed journal concludes that “it is difficult to find another group in society with such high risks for experiencing such a wide range of medical, psychological, and relational dysfunctions.” NARTH, 1 J. of Human Sexuality 1:53 (2009) (“Journal”).
Oh, and then they quote NARTH’s self-published “Journal”
In addition, “”30.3 percent of homosexually active women were ‘very high or drunk 3 or more days’ in the past year compared to 16.6 percent of heterosexual women,” and “8.4 percent of homosexually active women were ‘very high or drunk an average of once per week or more’ in the past year compared to 2.3 percent of heterosexual women.” Id. at 1:58.
Lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to marry; they’re all drunks! But if the women are all lushes, the men are all diseased:
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the homosexual community also is significantly higher than among heterosexuals. “In the 20th century, HIV/AIDS risk was approximately 430 times greater among homosexuals than among heterosexuals.” Id. at 1:66. In 2005, “the risks of acquiring HIV from a single act of unprotected sex within the male homosexual community in the United States remained about 500 times greater than within the heterosexual community.” Id. “Lifetime prevalence for STDs in homosexual men was 75 percent compared with 16.9 percent for heterosexual men.” Id.
It’s amazing how much bile you can spew when your source is NARTH. I can just see Charles Cooper cringing at the idea of the Ninth Circuit judges reading this recitation of bigotry and spite.
Part II of this exercise in animus is dedicated to presenting the NARTHian models of what causes homosexuality.
Here we find that “the family pattern involving a combination of a dominating, overly intimate mother plus a detached, hostile or weak father is beyond doubt related to the development of male homosexuality” (though a “sports wound” might contribute as well). As for the drunk lesbians, “a narcissistic (self-absorbed) mother may interfere with her daughter’s separation and individuation and propel her in the direction of lesbianism, but severe hurt by a male may also communicate the same message of insecurity and vulnerability.”
Well that sounds to me like a good reason to ban heterosexual marriage. Or at least procreation. Yikes.
But, having just trashed heterosexual parents, this brief then argues that it is precisely for the purpose of channeling procreation into these dysfunctional messes that marriage exists. So it is to Randy Thomasson and Arthur Goldberg that I dedicate this lovely picture of a pair of loons.
“I Don’t Care What You Say”: The McCain Remix
September 24th, 2010
You knew this was coming, didn’t you?
[Via Pam Spaulding]
GayTM On the Fritz: Gay Political Donations Down
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
September 24th, 2010
Perhaps one measure of the gay community’s scorn for the Democratic Party’s failure to deliver on its promises — as evidenced by this week’s cynical tossing of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” football coupled with the administration’s ridiculous filing in the Log Cabin Republican lawsuit against DADT — the OpenSecretsBlog reports that LGBT groups’ contributions to political campaigns are drastically down when compared the the last mid-term elections in 2006:
[I]n an election cycle full of controversy over hot button issues such as adoption, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, donations to federal candidates from gay and lesbian interest groups are lagging. So far during the 2010 election cycle, people and political action committees associated with this special interest area have donated $744,040 to federal candidates, with 96 percent of funds going to Democrats. That’s compared to more than $2 million contributed to federal candidates during the 2006 congressional elections and $1.8 million contributed during the 2008 presidential election cycle.
The Human Rights Campaign has donated a huge majority of the industry’s funds going to federal candidates this cycle, contributing $625,272 to primarily Democratic candidates.
That means that the HRC has contributed almost 85% of all the LGBT dollars to federal campaigns. I don’t know what percentage of the total contribution the HRC contributed in 2006, but I doubt that it amounted to $1.6 million. There has long been a perception that the Democratic party has been eager to take the gay dollar but unwilling to seriously address the gay community’s concerns, whether they be the ongoing firing of qualified personnel from the U.S. military, discrimination against gay and (especially) transgender people in the workplace, or the unwillingness to take a coherent stand on marriage. LGBT people and organizations are, as a result, naturally and justifiably outraged this year, with many demanding that the “GayTM” be shut down.
While undoubtedly the economy has contributed to this falloff in donations, but that’s not the entire story. LGBT donations are down by about half; other sources for donations are off, they haven’t fallen as drastically as this. I’m glad that most of the major LGBT organizations have decided to close the GayTM. Their money wasn’t being well spent, given the pathetic and cynical behavior of the political establishment that so many of us have worked so long and hard to support. For any organization that as to evaluate how effective every dollar they spend is toward accomplishing their goals, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that their dollars can be better spent elsewhere.
I fully support the call to sit on your dollars during this election cycle. If you have money to donate, there are many more worthy causes in your own local community that could use your help in this down economy. At least there, your hard-earned dollars have a better chance of actually doing some good. And if you are interested in contributing to political candidates, there is still the option of donating directly to specific candidates that you know have stood by the LGBT community. (For me locally, for example, I would single out my Congressman, Rep. RaÃºl Grijalva (D-AZ). He was among the extremely few Arizona officeholders who actively and publicly campaigned against Prop 102, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which passed in 2008.)
I also think this report documents how unbelievably out of touch the HRC is with the community it claims to represent. It looks like we don’t just need an overhaul of the political establishment that takes our money without delivering results, but also the advocacy group that takes our dollars and doesn’t hold anyone accountable. To those of us who have donated to the HRC in the past, it’s a good time to ask: have you gotten your money’s worth?
Obama Administration defends DADT policy; opposes injunction
September 23rd, 2010
Today the Justice Department filed an opposition to Log Cabin Republicans’ request for injunction on the application of the Military’s anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy which a federal judge found to be in violation of the US Constitution. The White House has made clear that this decision was made with the President’s blessing.
The DOJ argues against a world-wide injunction because it would deny them the opportunity to get a conflicting decision elsewhere. Even an injunction which covers the Ninth Circuit is unacceptable because then they would be unable to move forward with their case against Margaret Witt.
Therefore they argue that an injunction should be limited only to current Log Cabin members. No, I’m not making that up.
In addition to opposing injunction, this filing illustrates that it is the intention of the Obama Administration to appeal the ruling. Irrespective of political speeches about support, the Administration will not be following Governor Schwarzenegger’s example and accepting the determinations of the court as to the policy’s unconstitutionality but will instead seek to retain their ability to apply the policy for as long as is politically expedient.
And, as if it was not at this point abundantly clear, President Barack Obama is not now – and has never been – a fierce advocate for our community.
PFOX files an amicus brief
September 23rd, 2010
Oh you knew it had to be coming. When Judge Walker found that orientation was an immutable attribute, you just knew that PFOX had to present their wackadoodle ex-gays as proof he was wrong. They pair up with Desert Stream Ministries in an amicus brief which extols “the transforming power of Jesus Christ to heal those struggling with unwanted sexual attractions or behavior” and offers “the realistic hope that individuals with same-sex attraction can choose a course of action that enables them to identify and live as whole-enough heterosexuals.”
The sole issue addressed in this brief is whether same-sex attraction is a fixed and immutable characteristic like race. This issue is critically important because, if a court were to erroneously decide that same-sex attraction is an immutable characteristic, as the district court has in this case, a tribunal in the future might be led to further conclude that homosexuals are a “suspect class” for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause. Such an erroneous conclusion would improperly subject laws like Proposition 8 to “strict scrutiny” rather than the existing legally appropriate “rational basis” review.
The specifically object to the following three of Judge Walker’s findings:
44. Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person’s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents’ assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.
45. Proponents’ campaign for Proposition 8 assumed voters understood the existence of homosexuals as individuals distinct from heterosexuals.
46. Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.
They argue instead that “sexual orientation is a complex and amorphous phenomenon that defies consistent and uniform definition” and that it is a “mutable characteristic which can shift over time and does so for a significant number of people.” They assert that “both the evidence at trial and the evidence embodied in
this brief clearly show that many people freely choose and change their sexual orientation.”
Now, I dare say that it probably is easier at times to define a person’s sexual orientation than it is their race, especially in California. And if the number is so significant or the choosing so free, than why do they present the same handful of people over and over?
Ah, but PFOX has evidence. To prove that there are thousands of men and women who have successfully left “unwanted homosexuality” behind them and who now “live happy heterosexual lives”, they present four:
Richard Cohen: In that instant, the connection between my childhood abuser and I was cut, and I became free for the first time in my life. With that sense of freedom, I sobbed for about an hour in David’s arms. It was such a release and relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for what had happened and that God had forgiven me. In those moments of release, I found my freedom from same-sex desires. Cutting this neurological connection to the sexual desires freed me from thirty years of relentless pain and an endless pursuit of men.
Oh Lordy. Really. Richard Cohen?
This guy is, shall we say, uniquely peculiar. In fact, he may be the ex-gay ministries’ worst possible nightmare: a wackadoodle that is unafraid of going on television to show just what kind of loon he is.
Alan Medinger (now deceased): But things were desperate enough that after six or seven weeks of agonizing, on Tuesday, November 26, 1974, I went to an interdenominational meeting with Jim. He didn’t know my problem, nor did anyone there. At some point during the evening, I prayed quietly, “God, I give up. My life is a total mess. I can’t handle it any more. I don’t care what You do; you take over.” And He did.
Within a few days, I knew that some profound changes had taken place in me. First of all, I fell head over heals in love with Willa and I desired her physically. My homosexual fantasies that had almost never left me were gone. And most important of all, I knew that Jesus was real, that He loved me, and I was starting to love Him.
I’ll not speak ill of Medinger; he’s passed on and is unable to defend himself. However, I will note that he was not above quoting and relying on such unscrupulous characters as Paul Cameron and Scott Lively.
Now on to two women about whom I know very little:
Kristin (Johnson) Tremba: God taught me that sexual sin was my attempt to meet legitimate emotional needs in sexually illegitimate ways. He showed me that there were some emotional needs that had not been met in my family relationships growing up, there were some wounds, and so I was attempting to meet these needs and cover these wounds in sexual relationships as an adult. He taught me that there were also things I was born with: a sin nature, a particular temperament, various weaknesses, and a negative body image and negative view of my femininity. He taught me that even though I did not choose all my circumstances and struggles, I could choose to overcome them. I could choose to let God change my life…
Brenna Kate Simonds: My journey to recovery has been long and arduous, but more than worth it. God has helped me in many ways along the path to recovery. Therapy played a key role in expediting my experience of God’s healing in my life. My own therapy taught me how to help others experience their own journey of healing and restoration.
Well there ya have it. That prove that “same-sex attraction is not an immutable characteristic.” Nope, not at all.
All you need is Jesus. He’s a miracle worker.
HIV prevalence in urban gay/bi men
September 23rd, 2010
The Centers for Disease Control has conducted a study of 8,153 men who have sex with men in 21 U.S. cities and has made some observations about the HIV infection rate of gay/bi urban men. (Reuters)
Overall, they found that 19 percent of gay men are infected with HIV.
The study found that 28 percent of gay black men infected with HIV, compared with 18 percent of Hispanic men and 16 percent of white men.
Black men in the study were also least likely to be aware of their infection, with 59 percent unaware of their infection compared with 46 percent of Hispanic men and 26 percent of white men.
Age also plays a role. Among 18 to 29-year-old men, 63 percent did not know they were infected with HIV, compared with 37 percent of men aged 30 and older, the team reported in the CDC’s weekly report on death and disease.
I am beginning to consider that a comprehensive campaign needs to be planned to test every man who has sex with men. I would not write off a socially-coercive campaign based on “everyone will get tested on such-or-other week” or be the recipient of scorn and rejection. I’m just “thinking out loud” here, but it seems to me that the key to reducing HIV transmission is in reducing those who do not know and perhaps drastic measures may be required.
“Family” groups file amicus for Perry’s Prop 8 Proponents
September 23rd, 2010
A collection of “family” groups have given their opinion to the Ninth Circuit about Judge Walker’s findings in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. They include:
Association of Maryland Families
California Family Council
Center for Arizona Policy
Citizens for Community Values
Cornerstone Family Council
Delaware Family Policy Council
Family Action Council of Tennessee
The Family Foundation
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia
Family Policy Institute of Washington
Florida Family Policy Council
Georgia Family Council
Illinois Family Institute, Independence Law Center
Iowa Family Policy Center
Louisiana Family Forum Action
Massachusetts Family Institute
Michigan Family Forum
Minnesota Family Council
Missouri Family Policy Council
Montana Family Foundation
New Jersey Family First
New Jersey Family Policy Council
North Carolina Family Policy Council
Oklahoma Family Policy Council
Oregon Family Council
Palmetto Family Council
Pennsylvania Family Institute
Wisconsin Family Action
WyWatch Family Action
You might get a chuckle from their opening line:
Liberty Institute is a non-profit law firm dedicated to the preservation of civil rights and the promotion of individual liberty.
Now that’s good comedy.
Basically the premise of this amicus brief is that finding Proposition8 to be unconstitutional violates the rights of Californians to be self-governed and to rant and rail about “activist judges”. It reads not as a legal document but more like a political tirade.
At times throughout our nation’s history, courts have subjugated the will of the people to the judges’ own desires, often with disastrous results. Doing so is anti-democratic and ignores that self-governance is an important and essential part of liberty. Such actions by unelected judges disregard that the Bill of Rights provides that those powers not granted to the United States are reserved to the states and the people.
They go on quite a bit about how courts are “the elite few” and how “Judicial activism impose the views of the “enlightened” judiciary on the masses”. Now maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that insulting the judiciary will endear yourself and your ideals with, ahem, judges.
Then, in what can I can only imagine was conceived while on meth, they threaten revolution if they don’t get their way. I kid you not.
They quote the Declaration of Independence and then say,
In significant part because of the Crown’s removal of the legislative power from the people and vesting of it in persons unconstitutionally qualified to legislate, and because true governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” the colonists considered that “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. If the district court’s decision to abolish the citizens of California’s laws and to invest itself with the power to legislate for the people of California is upheld, the “new Guard” is but following the old and we have come full circle.
I’ve always known “family” groups to be a bit out there, but this is colossally stupid.