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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for May, 2011

Vidmar steps down

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

As we reported, the U.S. Olympic Committee had named Proposition 8 advocate Peter Vidmar as its 2012 chief of mission. He has now resigned that commission. (USA Today)

When the Tribune story broke, reaction was nearly immediate — and almost entirely negative — within the USOC. Aimee Mullins, the former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Games team, said she was “concerned and deeply saddened” about Vidmar’s past actions.

“The Olympic movement is about promoting equity for all,” she said.

In a statement released Friday evening, Vidmar said, “I have dedicated my life to the Olympic movement and the ideals of excellence, friendship and respect. I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family. I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage.”

I wish his personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction, either. I wish they had not distracted him from being a decent human being instead encouraging him to arrogantly thrust his religion, his opinion, his money, and his time into my life in order to harm me and my community.

I have no sympathy for those who are discovering that their innocent little “stand on the issue” which they were willing to make because of the “call of their church” is now being seen as mean-spirited and based in animus. And not just by the “militant homosexual activists”, but by average everyday citizens. My heart doesn’t bleed in the slightest for those who are finding that doing real harm to real people can have real consequences.

I support you, Catholic Charities…

A Commentary.

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

Now that the state of Illinois is offering civil union recognition to same-sex couples, the Catholic Church has disseminating fears that they will no longer be able to offer foster care or adoption services. They have vowed to be defiant.

And to the Catholic Church in Illinois, I say:

I support you.

I totally agree that if Catholic girls wish to give their children up for adoption and want them to go to Catholic families and be raised in the Catholic faith, then Catholic organizations should be able to facilitate such adoptions. With Catholic dollars.

After all, that is the very meaning of Catholic charity. Catholics sacrificing and contributing for the betterment of others. Bringing Catholic funds to help those in need.

Amen.

Oh… wait, what’s that? Oh you actually do placement with non-Catholics. Well, that’s even more charitable of you. Peace be with you.

And – sorry, say that again? You disallow unmarried heterosexual couples and all gay couples?

Oh, well I think that is extremely foolish of you and that you are denying a loving family to hard-to-place children. You should really reconsider your values.

But I guess it’s your money. And there are some children being placed that otherwise would not have a family so I’ll defer to your decisions on how best to spend the contributions of your parishioners.

But it’s what? I’m sorry, you mumbled that last part. It’s not what?

Oh, it’s not the money of your parishioners! Oh, so it’s Vatican money? No?

I’m confused. Then who gave you the money to run these programs?

THE STATE??!!?? You mean that the State of Illinois is paying you to run a program that decides foster care and adoption placement based on your own religious criteria? That tax dollars are taken out of the paychecks of gay people and given to you and that you won’t even let them apply?

And the kids AREN’T EVEN CATHOLIC??!!?? They are just kids placed with you by the State????

NO FRIGGEN WAY!!! Why that’s… it’s just… whew whew

Whew… sorry that I got so excited there. I guess I just over-reacted.

Well, there’s the clear and easy solution. The one I’m sure you have already started.

Just pull out your checkbook, Cardinal, and write the state a great big check to pay them back for the fees they’ve given you to administer the state’s foster care and adoption programs. And notify the state that you’ll only be placing kids that are brought to you with the parents’ intention that they be placed according to the teachings of the Church.

And then, praise be to God, you can go back to applying Catholic rules to Catholic kids and everyone is happy.

No?

NO?

What do you mean, “NO??”

You don’t intend to repay the State? You don’t intend to only place kids brought to you by their parents for Catholic placement?

Well, F U, Cardinal, you selfish, money-grubbing, pompous bureaucrat.

No, I do NOT support you discriminating against me and my family with MY OWN MONEY.

So kindly take your self-righteous discrimination and shove it.

Oh, and while you’re at it, you may want to consider removing “Charities” from your name. It isn’t charitable if you do it with someone else’s funds.

Santorum Says “No Truce” To Gay Issues

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

From last night’s GOP debate in South Carolina:

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Being Gay Is a Gift From God

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

That is the message from the Central United Methodist Church in Toledo, Ohio. It’s part of a larger campaign which the church calls “a prophetic call to the Church to get out of the business of marginalizing gay and lesbian persons from the Church, and to welcome them as full members. The electronic billboard lit up with the message on April 25, and the church has secured the billboard for one month. They’d like to extend it if they can raise enough money.

[Hat tip: Lez Get Real]

Presbyterian Church (USA) Amendment 10-A

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

People of faith tend to take their faith seriously. They are not casual or whimsical, they do not respond to readily trends or opinion polls. In their efforts to know truth, they are careful and cautious. And those who join together in denomination genuinely strive to coalesce around a shared agreement over God’s divine will and how Man should respond.

Those of us who see institutionalized rejection and mistreatment of gay people coming from denominations can be impatient. We marvel how people who see themselves as the hands of Christ can be so very unlike the Christ they serve. While a good many Mainline Christian denominations are in the process of debate over gay Christians and gay citizens, we wonder what is taking so long, what could possibly be the holdup?

But we should be mindful that among Protestant faiths, the development of church policy is very different from civil politics.

Change comes slowly in a community that is unwilling to demonize brothers and sisters who disagree. Those who have come into a more contextualized understanding of where gay people fit in the fabric of life, of community, of the church approach things differently than do activists.

While we seek to win, to get votes, to defeat those who would hurt us, communities of faith are as concerned about those who will be hurt by the change as they are about those who are hurt now. It grieves gay Christians when anti-gay Christians feel that denominational change contradicts their convictions. So much more emphasis is give to persuasion, to prayer, to contemplation.

But when change occurs, it is real and permanent.

Because they are aware that change leads to hurt feelings and division, many church leaders will only adopt change when they are convinced that it is absolutely necessary. Often those who are personally committed to equality will vote against change because they believe that dissent and division is more disruptive to the Body of Christ than are indignities experienced by those whom they support. So when they vote for change, it is not just out of political expediency, but because they believe that they are called to do so by God.

Perhaps the most important thing that we must recognize about supportive churches and religious organizations is this:

Those communities of faith which support us do not do so despite their beliefs; they do so because of their beliefs.

And change is occurring. Significant, major change – the sort that defines “the Christian perspective” and which informs culture. The kind of change that moves the paradigm from “Christians v. gays” to “Conservative Christians v. Mainline Christianity.” The change that says that voting for gay rights is not “against God” but just against tradition.

One such change is within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Currently gay ministers are allowed to be ordained by the church and to serve as pastors to those congregations that select them. However, as Christian theology has traditionally considered sexual expression outside of marriage to be sinful and has only recognized marriage to be a union of a man and a woman, this resulted in policy that excluded gay men and women who were in relationships.

Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.

But within the Presbyterian Church there became a growing awareness that such rules – while supportable by traditional interpretation of specific scriptures – were inconsistent with the way in which the church understood Scripture and how it instructed believers to interact with each other. It placed dogmatic interpretations of prohibitions above viewing God’s servants as people, making the following of rules more important than justice and mercy.

And so, in July of 2010, the General Convention of the PC(USA) voted to change the language to

Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.

This change would allow local bodies to be “guided by Scripture and the confessions” in applying standards. But it is universally understood that the purpose for this change was to allow for the ordination and service of gay Presbyterians in positions of leadership within the church.

However, as the Presbyterian Church is designed to be democratic, a majority of the regional affiliations are required to approve such a change. And it finally appears that such approval is now likely. Before it can become effective, the change must be ratified by 87 regional presbyteries. So far, 80 have already done so and 33 are yet to vote.

The Presbyterian Church narrowly opted not to change its definition of marriage in 2010 from “man and woman” to “two persons”. But the significant support for gay ministers in committed relationships bodes well for such a future change.

Marriage Ban Goes to Minnesota Senate Floor

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

Despite moving testimony this week, the Minnesota Senate Rules Committee voted to forward the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the Senate floor. Now word yet on when the full Senate will take up the measure.

Henry Velandia’s Deportation Put On Hold

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

When we learned yesterday that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had vacated a deportation case involving an Irish man who had entered into a New Jersey civil union with an American, we wondered whether it would have any bearing on the case of Henry Velandia of Venezuela, who had legally married his American spouse in Connecticut in 2010 and whose deportation proceed was to take place this afternoon. We now have word that the judge in the case agreed with the government attorney to adjourn the case:

Speaking with (Lavi) Soloway, their attorney in this matter, after the hearing, he tells Metro Weekly the immigration judge adjourned the deportation proceedings, which will place the matter back on the “master calendar,” which is more of a status conference and, more importantly for Velandia and Vandiver, removes the “immediate threat” of deportation.

“The judge said at the outset that he wanted to deal with the question of whether the case should be adjourned before we discussed anything else,” he says. “Despite the fact that he had earlier twice denied our motions for continuance. At this time, he essentially reversed himself.”

Interestingly, the judge made a Xerox copy of yesterday’s Metro Weekly report discussing Holder’s decision a part of the official record.

Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” Bill May Be Fast Tracked For A Vote

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

That’s what the blogger GayUganda is hearing, that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill may be getting its hearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Uganda’s Parliament:

Now, the anti-Homosexuality Bill is at present being discussed in the parliament of Uganda. Just today, as I write. Yes, today, Friday the 6th of May 2011. Committee hearings are reportedly going ahead.

Now, remember that this is the lame duck session of parliament. And, remember that it is supposed to end soon, on 11 May 2011.

If the bill makes it out of the committee today, it could conceivably receive its final vote next week before Parliament ends on Wednesday.

[Update: Warren Throckmorton spoke with M.P. David Bahati, the bill's sponsor, and Charles Tuhaise, a researcher for parliament’s research office. They confirmed that hearings did begin on the bill today, and will likely wrap up on Monday, and will include testimony from the NGO Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. Also expected to testify are Pastors Martin Ssempa and Steven Langa. It was Langa who first organized the infamous Kampala conference featuring three American anti-gay activists in March 2009 which kicked the entire anti-gay campaign which culminated with this bill. Bahati was keen to point out that while Parliament may wide up its business next week, it won't officially end until May 19.]

Uganda has been rocked in recent weeks with rioting and demonstrations against rising gas prices. The government has been responding with extraordinarily violent crackdown on dissent. One opposition leader was seriously injured and fled to neighboring Kenya for treatment. The disturbances even spilled onto the floor of Parliament, which had to suspend its session temporarily on Tuesday. GayUganda believes that forces behind the bill see as an opportunistic diversion for the violence that is racking the country:

So, it is a DIVERSION. The government needs a heady diversion for the country. For the outraged citizens of Uganda.

So, and this is very important, what is the government trying to do?

In actual fact, that diversion is not going to work. Because the citizens of Uganda are simply more concerned about the rising prices of food, and the deteriorating human rights situation. Their homophobia is a reflex which the government wants to use. But, it is not likely to work.

The diversion also can work both ways. With most of the media’s attention focus on the ongoing violence and protests, it could also be that the bill’s supporters see an opening for it to be passed when nobody’s paying attention.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if passed in its current form, would impose the death penalty for those who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender,” or whose partner is deemed “disabled” regardless of whether the relationship was consensual. It would also impose a lifetime sentence for other cases. The bill would lower the bar for conviction, making mere “touching” for the perceived purpose of homosexual relations a criminal offense. It threatens teachers, doctors, friends, and family members with three years imprisonment if they didn’t report anyone they suspected of being gay to police within twenty-four hours. It also would broadly criminalize all advocacy of homosexuality including, conceivably, lawyers defending accused gay people in court or parliamentarians proposing changes to the law. It even threatens landlords under a “brothel” provision if they knowingly rent to gay people.

Last week, the bill’s sponsor, M.P. David Bahati, agreed to “drop” the death penalty provision in order to get the bill passed. He has made this offer several times before. Given the draconian nature of the bill, the removal of the death penalty is hardly an improvement over the alternative of lifetime imprisonment in a Ugandan prison. The ruling government announced in March that the bill would be shelved over Bahati’s loud objections. Since then, Bahati and others have exerted increasing pressure to revive the bill, including paying people to pose as “ex-gays” to launch false allegations against the gay community.

Uganda’s economy depends on foreign donors for much of its support. Uganda, in recent years, has also tried to improve its coffee exports to premium distributors, an effort which has largely failed to get off the ground due to the reluctance of American and Western consumers to purchase coffee bearing the Ugandan label. Eco-tourism, which has been an important part of Uganda’s economic development, is also taking a hit due to Uganda’s declining reputation, despite being at the headwaters of the Nile at Lake Victoria, and possessing an abundance of wildlife and natural beauty.

GayUganda reminds is that what is happening is not occurring in isolation. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill may well be passed while, at the same time, the Ugandan government is instituting a violent and repressive crackdown against the human rights of all its citizens. As I observed last week, Uganda is now treating its citizens with just a small taste of how it will seek to treat its LGBT residents. GayUganda draws the point further:

But, remember that this is time for the GAY MOVEMENT around the world to make COMMON CAUSE with the average citizen of Uganda to decry the abuse of human rights of ALL UGANDANS.

Do not separate the two issues. Mention both in the same sentence, in the same breath.

Tell this to your leaders in the community, to your leaders in your country. To your leaders in your parliament, and to your leaders nationally and internationaly.

LGBTI rights are HUMAN Rights. They are not divisible. They are not above others, they are not distinct from the others.

Make common cause in demanding the cessation of abuse of rights of Ugandans, including LGBTI ugandans, by the Government of Uganda.

Let the message go out, simple, clear, unambiguous.

LGBTI rights are human rights. And, we are concerned about the rights of ALL Ugandans, including LGBTI Ugandans.

The Daily Agenda

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

Henry Velandia (left) and Josh Vandiver (right)

THE AGENDA:
Rally Against Deportation: Josh Vandiver of Colorado and Henry Velandia of Venezuela were legally married in Connecticut in 2010. If they had been a straight couple, Josh would have been able to sponsor his spouse for a green card. But because DOMA discriminates against same sex couples, the federal government doesn’t recognize their marriage and the couple risks being torn apart if Henry’s deportation goes through today. That looked like a certainty until yesterday afternoon, when Attorney General Eric Holder intervened in a different case and directed the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to halt a separate deportation case pending a review of DOMA’s application in immigration law. How that will impact Henry’s case is uncertain. He’ll find out when his case comes before the board at 1:00 p.m. today.

Meanwhile, ten different LGBT advocacy groups will come together at 11:00 a.m. today at the Newark Immigration Court for a rally on Velandia’s behalf. You can sign a petition here. Check Facebook for details if you’re interested in joining the rally.

AIDS Walks this weekend: Charlotte, NC, Cheyenne, WYFt. Wayne, INOgunquit, ME, and Poughkeepsie, NY.

Pride celebrations this weekend: Edinburgh, Scotland and Northampton, MA.

BIRTHDAYS:
Rudolph Valentino: 1895. Known as the “Latin Lover,” Italina-born Rodolpho Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla;’s appearances in films like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle and Son of the Sheik established him as one of moviedom’s earliest male sex symbols. When he died suddenly at the age of 31, his public viewing prompted near-rioting among his female fans. Valentino had married twice — once to a reputed lesbian actress (according to their divorce papers, they never consummated the marriage), and then to Natacha Rambova, the artistic director for an early film they both worked on. That marriage also ended in divorce.

Neither marriage did much to quell rumors of Valentino’s “effeminacy,” which critics believed they detected in his sensitive and stylish portrayals on the silver screen. One Chicago Tribune editorial blasted his androgynous image as the “Pink Powder Puff.” Wrote the writer, “When will we be rid of all these effeminate youths, pomaded, powdered, bejeweled and bedizened, in the image of Rudy–that painted pansy?” The evidence behind those rumors remains both skimpy and controversial. Oh well, birthday is noteworthy regardless of whether he was gay or not. I mean, just look at him!

Karl-Maria Kertbeny's letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs with the word "Homosexualität" (Click to enlarge)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Happy Birthday Homo: 1868. On this date, an Austrian-born Hungarian by the name of Karl-Maria Kertbeny (or Károly Mária Kertbeny) wrote a letter in which he used, for the first time in recorded history, a new word of his creation: Homosexualität. The letter was to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich — who was, more precisely speaking, an urning-rights advocate. Ulrich defined urning as a “male-bodied person with a female psyche,” who is sexually attracted to men and not women. Another common term, invert similarly described gay men (and women) as embodying an inversion of sex-role behavior. What set Kertbeny’s “homosexual” apart is the term, for the first time, separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians. Until then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine (and would remain so until about World War II). Kertbeny’s new word helped to change all that.

“Homosexualität” made its first known public appearance the following year, when Kertbeny anonymously published a pamphlet calling for the repeal of Prussia’s sodomy laws. Other German advocates picked up the word, and it eventually made its English appearance as “homosexuality” at around 1894, which Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Adoption in English was slow however. Invert remained the most common term until the 1920′s. That’s when the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, who preferred the word “homosexuality,” became popular in the English-speaking world.

You can find a more complete discussion of the emergence of “Homosexualität” here.

Students of the Deutsche Studentenschaft parading in front of the Institute of Sex Research.

When Nazis Attack: 1933. The great German sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, established the Institute of Sex Research 1919. Located in Berlin’s Tiergarten it became a major center for gay rights advocacy and research, with a massive research library archive. The Institute included medical, psychological, and ethnological divisions, provided marriage and sex counseling.

All that changed when the Nazis came to power in January of 1933. On May 6, 1933, while Hirchfeld was on a lecture tour of the U.S., Students of the Deutsche Studentenschaft, began parading in front of the Institute. That night, Nazis attacked it and looted the archives. Four days later, those archives served as the fuel for the famous book-burning rally, where some 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. The Institute’s groundbreaking work came to an abrupt end. Hirschfeld remained in exile, first in Paris and later in Nice, where he died of a heart attack in 1935.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here.