LifeSiteNews’ Ben Johnson misrepresents “Christian position” on transgender people, fails to actually cite the Bible
August 1st, 2013
Ben Johnson of LifeSiteNews is in a tizzy over Pat Robertson’s declaration that transgender people altering their bodies is not a sin and thus he will not condemn it. Johnson cites multiple sources attempting to condemn transgender people.
Traditional Christians have condemned such actions as a form of self-mutilation since the days of the ancient church.
Well that’s overly broad and has no source to back it up.
Speaking specifically of castration, the Apostolic Canons, a fourth century Syrian document, states, “If a layman mutilate himself, let him be excommunicated for three years, as practising against his own life.”
The Apostolic Canons were merely church orders issued in 692, many of which were rejected by Pope Constantine. The Apostolic Canons were written several centuries after the last books of the Bible were written. Johnson continues to cite irrelevant sources:
More contemporary teachers uphold the Christian admonition to maintain one’s biological gender and respect our bodies.
“To destroy organs purposefully that are healthy and functioning, and to try to create imitation organs which will never have the genuineness and functioning of authentic organs lacks charity,” said Fr. William Saunders, professor of Catechetics and Theology at Christendom College’s Notre Dame Graduate School. “Such surgery which purposefully destroys the bodily integrity of the person must be condemned.”
Continuing to avoid citing the Bible at all costs, Johnson instead cites the National Catholic Bioethics Center for his final jab at trans people. I won’t bore you with a quote.
Had Johnson bothered to open his Bible he might find clarity with Matthew 19:12 which quotes Jesus:
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. [KJV]
Yes, the King James Version quotes Jesus as using the phrase “born that way.” I’m sure printing that would cause LifeSiteNews all sorts of problems.
Or perhaps Johnson could ask why God hasn’t selected the transgender person mentioned in The 700 Club to spread the gospel. This would be Biblically consistent with Acts 8 : 26-39 in which God selects an Ethiopian eunuch to spread His word to Ethiopia. That eunuch by the way was the modern day equivalent of Secretary of the Treasury to the queen of Ethiopia.
In fact in Biblical days eunuchs held the most powerful positions in government. In the Book of Esther eunuchs ran the royal court of King Xerxes and a eunuch by the name of Hegai personally selected Esther to ascend to the throne from the royal harem.
And I haven’t even cited all the references to eunuchs in the Bible, just my personal favorites. Transgender and gender non-conforming people play major rolls all throughout the Bible and consistently held positions of power and importance. Rather than looking to the Bible for his article, Johnson grasps at straws to condemn them.
Email address of Attorney General prosecuting 18 year old Florida lesbian
May 21st, 2013
You may have heard of the 18 year old Florida senior facing criminal charges arising from a consensual relationship with her 15 year old freshman girlfriend. The Change.org petition is wildly popular.
For those of you inclined to voice your displeasure directly, Bruce Colton the Indian River County State Attorney can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Update by Jim B (5/21): This post is being updated to further explain what happened. Kaitlyn Hunt, now 18, began a relationship with another girl while she was seventeen and the younger girl was fourteen, which was legal under Florida law. When Hunt turned 18, she then became an adult. But according to this article, it looks as though Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law should have covered this. The stickler is that the younger girl’s parents say the relationship wasn’t consensual, while Hunt’s parents say that the two groups of parents had met when Hunt was still 17, and that both sets of parents knew about the relationship.
Video: Seminar for Coloradans considering a civil union
April 18th, 2013
Yesterday our state equality org One Colorado held a webinar / conference call to help educate Coloradans on civil unions, which will be issued starting May 1st. The event covered issues from navigating paperwork to conceiving children once a civil union is established. Several staffers from One Colorado spoke as well as estate law and family law experts from the Colorado Bar Association.
Although this was originally a live, for record purposes I produced a video of the event couples can use in the future if they are considering entering into a civil union here in Colorado.
Colorado Civil Unions Signed Into Law
March 21st, 2013
After one failed referendum, two years being voted down in the House, civil unions were signed into law today with a high-five and thumbs-up from Governor Hickenlooper.
And video footage of (most of) Sen Pat Steadman’s formal remarks followed by the Governor’s signing.
Live audio of Colorado civil union committee hearing
January 23rd, 2013
This afternoon the Colorado civil unions bill is having its first committee hearing. I posted some background on Monday.
Update: The hearing has concluded.
Colorado Rep DelGrosso fundamentally misunderstands State Constitution
January 23rd, 2013
From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
In 2006, Colorado voters approved an amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.
Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who voted against civil union bills in committees the past two years, said he questions the constitutionality of the proposed bill.
“The voters of Colorado have clearly said this is what we expect,” DelGrosso said. “How can you prove to us that what you’re doing is constitutional? That you’re not just changing the name of something and trying to pretend that it’s something that it’s not — same-sex marriage.”
Brian DelGrosso seems to fundamentally misunderstand how Colorado’s constitution. Our neighbors in Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma have all passed amendments that not only ban gay marriage but also ban civil unions. Here in Colorado our constitution says nothing of civil unions.
The authors of Colorado Amendment 43 and voters have left the door open for us to have civil unions here in Colorado.
And yes, DelGrosso represents Loveland. Oh the irony.
Stronger and more controversial Colorado civil union bill to be heard Wednesday
January 21st, 2013
Civil unions legislation has been re-introduced in Colorado and passage is near certain. Why you ask? Because the number of bill sponsors constitues a majority of both the House and Senate. That’s 20 sponsors in the Senate (out of 35 seats) and 38 sponsors in the House (out of 65 seats).
In a first for the bill Republican Rep Cheri Gerou all of a sudden grew balls this year and decided to sponsor the bill after declining to last year. Even OutFront Colorado published an article titled “How are we so sure civil unions will pass this year?“
How did we get to this point? Here’s some backstory…
In 2011 and 2012 Colorado had a divided legislature. In 2012 after the bill surprisingly managed to pass intact out of a key Republican controlled committee in a desperate last minute attempt to kill the bill House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) killed 30+ bills on the last night of the session rather than allow the civil union bill to reach the floor.
Democrats swept the November election statewide and retook control of the House along with retaining control of the Senate and Governor’s Residence. Rep Mark Ferrandino was elected by his peers to be the first openly gay Speaker Of The House. Also during the fall recess, tragically, Dave Misner, the husband of Senator Pat Steadman, the bill’s author, died of pancreatic cancer.
But there are other different things this year too.
Previous civil unions legislation had excluded [Catholic] adoption agencies from having to treat civil-unionized couples equally. This year’s bill is stronger and no longer includes such an exclusion. Quoting the Catholic News Agency:
The 2012 Colorado Senate bill proposing to create the unions had stated that the bill “shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption” with a couple in a civil union.
That language, however, is absent from the 2013 bill, S.B. 11.
Much as in other states Catholics are threatening to take their ball and go home.
If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, “we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.”
“That risk is always there,” he said. “I think that we would try to explore every avenue available to us to provide this vital service to the community.”
He said a shutdown is “very well what could happen” given precedents in other states.
In previous years rhetoric opposing the bill was downright comical. In 2011 local grandmother (and Eagle Forum member) Rosina Kovar provided graphic testimony about the human anus. And in 2012 two Senators quoted the Bible in floor debate, one saying “I truly believe Jesus is a better answer than Senate Bill 2.” There has even been a cameo by Paul Cameron.
This year we have a new religious fundamentalist to watch.
It’s widely believed that Facebook post is reffering to Vicki Marble (R-Northern Colorado I-25 corridor) who proudly touts her AFA Action scorecard on her campaign website. Unfortunately Ms Marble’s only appointments are to the Education and Local Government committees so we’ll likely have to wait for the bill to reach the Senate floor for her to embarrass herself. And in other fundamentalist news Colorado Family Action is having a “Rally and Prayer for Marriage” on Friday Jan 25. Legislation dealing with marriage isn’t being considered this year, and marriage is already defined in our state constitution, Amendment 43 so I’m not sure why Colorado Family Action is wasting their time having a rally about it.
The civil union bill’s first hearing is the Senate Judiciary Committee, this Wednesday, January 23, at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. Committee hearings are broadcast as audio-only on the Colorado Channel’s website.
The final bill is expected to pass and be signed by mid March with the first civil union licenses issued May 1st.
Colorado: Election Results Clear Path for Civil Unions in 2013 Legislature
November 9th, 2012
Last legislative session Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty killed 30+ bills at the end of the session rather than allow a civil unions bill to reach the floor of the House. At the time the Republicans held a one vote majority in the Colorado House.
Gay supporters were livid by McNulty’s willingness to allow government to break down in such a way just to stop civil unions and formed a group, Fight Back Colorado dedicated to re-taking the House majority. Fight Back targeted three vulnerable races and on Tuesday night successfully unseated all three GOP Reps. Not only that but Dems won almost every contested seat and now control the House 37-28, in addition to retaining control of the Senate and governorship (which wasn’t up this election).
McNulty was replaced yesterday by Mark Ferrandino, who is our first openly gay Speaker Of The House and also happens to represent my district.
The path has been cleared for civil unions to pass in 2013.
Love In Action documentary now on Netflix streaming
July 10th, 2012
For those of you who haven’t been able to catch This Is What Love In Action Looks Like at a local film festival, or on Amazon, or Hulu… it’s now found a home on Netflix streaming here.
Also don’t forget to give it a positive review if you liked it. Netflix has a lot of garbage in their gay and lesbian film category and This Is What Love In Action Looks Like stands out above most of the other content in there.
New independent expenditure committee formed in Colorado to target anti-civil union legislators
June 27th, 2012
One Colorado, along with two of their biggest donors have launched an independent expenditure committee called Fight Back Colorado designed to target and defeat state legislators who killed the civil union bill twice this year, first in our regular legislative session and a second time in a special session called by the governor. Nic Garcia at OutFront Colorado has an excellent post-session story that summarized exactly what happened and why the LGBT community is so angry at the Republican House leadership.
In an email blast sent to One Colorado supporters this morning, Executive Director Brad Clark wrote:
This independent expenditure committee is designed to hold anti-equality legislators accountable for their actions. This will be a deliberate and strategic campaign, targeting resources to defeat state legislators who killed civil unions in Colorado. Once we replace enough anti-equality representatives with pro-equality representatives, we will close up shop.
Presumably this group will target anti-civil union Representatives in the House which Republicans currently control by one vote. If Democrats were to take control of the House in November, Rep Mark Ferrandino, the House sponsor of the civil union bill, would be made Speaker Of The House.
OutFront’s Garcia published an article this morning that has many other interesting observations:
…supporters of the Colorado Civil Union Act have taken the first steps to replicate a successful strategy executed during the 2010 New York state Senate elections that paved the way to marriage equality legislation becoming law in the Empire State.
The committee, Fight Back Colorado, has taken the New York organization’s moniker, website and talking points.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The single largest donor to Fight Back New York is Colorado activist and philanthropist Tim Gill.
It should also be noted that according to the Fight Back Colorado’s website and filings with the CO Secretary of State’s office the group is registered to Roger Sherman, who is listed as one of One Colorado’s most elite donors.
Fight Back Colorado has not publicly announced which lawmakers they plan to attack.
“We’re not going to have the resources to unseat everyone,” Sherman said. “So we’re going to do our research. We’re going to do polling and identify the most vulnerable seats.”
The group’s website is http://www.fightback-co.com/. This group is independent of One Colorado so if you want to get emails, support or donate, you need to visit their site directly and sign up. The group is on Twitter as @FightBack_CO.
Documentary highlighting flaws and abuse of Spitzer study of exgays re-released in HD
May 30th, 2012
The Spitzer Study of ex-gays should be dead, but it isn’t.
From the very beginning the study was fatally flawed by poor methodology and after over a decade of criticism directed at the study, this month Dr. Robert Spitzer has formally apologized and renounced his study in The American Prospect and New York Times.
But as BTB editor Jim Burroway pointed out yesterday, anti-gay groups continue to cite the now retracted study.
Because of the continuing need to highlight the flaws and abuse of the Spitzer Study, I’m re-releasing a documentary I made in 2007, now in high definition.
For you technical geeks the original film was edited on a 2003 PowerBook, I retrieved all the original source footage, graphics and audio, and re-created the film on my new iMac which can handle HD with ease. To make matters worse, at the time when I created the original 13 minute film, YouTube limited movies to 10 minutes and 200mb file size so I had to split the film into two pieces of mediocre resolution. Although my “talking head” scenes were shot in standard definition, the re-encoding and exporting at a higher resolution helped considerably, and the re-done still graphics are drastically sharper.
Colorado House leadership stalling, media attention growing, equality org holding another rally
May 7th, 2012
Last week before the big House Judiciary Committee hearing our state equality org One Colorado held a rally/press conference and late that evening SB-002, the civil unions bill, cleared the committee.
Well now it’s looking like the House Republican leadership may be trying to stall the bill until the legislative session ends on Wednesday because it’s clear the bill would pass if voted on by the full House. In response One Colorado is organizing an emergency press conference and rally Tuesday morning at 10am on the west steps of the Capitol building to keep the pressure on. (facebook event page)
He [Gov. John Hickenlooper] should consider calling a special session of the legislature if key House Republicans let Senate Bill 2, which would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, expire this week through parliamentary gimmicks. There is simply no excuse for obstructionist behavior on such a high-profile bill of major importance.
Colorado needs your urgent action in last minute push for civil unions
May 7th, 2012
The legislative here session ends on Wednesday and if House Speaker Frank McNulty (R, HD-43, Highlands Ranch) doesn’t schedule the civil unions bill for a floor debate by Tuesday then the bill will die the Denver Post writes today:
The bill must have what is called a second reading, or its debate, before the full floor by Tuesday so it can be officially voted on Wednesday, which is the last day of the session. If that doesn’t happen, the bill is dead.
This is the last hurdle and we need all the help we can get. If you support civil unions for the people of Colorado please contact Rep McNulty and urge him to schedule the bill for floor debate ASAP.
How to follow today’s happenings in Colorado
May 3rd, 2012
A number of activists will be live-tweeting the rally at noon as well as the House Judiciary Committee hearing at 1:30. The most common twitter hash tag by far is #COleg with #LGBT and #civilunions also sometimes used.
The Colorado Channel does not stream live video of committee hearings, it has audio only for those. Also the CO Channel doesn’t much care for Firefox so dust off your copy of Safari or Internet Explorer. The hearing will be held in the Old Supreme Court Chambers — audio streams are organized by room name. I believe this or possibly this is the link you’ll want for audio starting at 1:30. (if neither audio stream is working email Jim since I’ll be in the committee hearing by then)
And remember, Colorado is in the Mountain time zone. We’re the often forgotten bastard child squeezed in there between Pacific and Central.
OutFront Colorado urging participation in tomorrow’s civil union rally
May 2nd, 2012
UPDATE: Location of the rally has been changed to the front of Denver City & County Building at 1437 Bannock Street (still at noon).
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post the Colorado civil unions bill is headed to a crucial showdown in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow afternoon (Thursday).
State equality org One Colorado is holding a rally before the hearing. The rally will be at noon
on the east steps of the Capitol in the front of Denver City & County Building at 1437 Bannock Street. (facebook event page)
Colorado’s oldest and most respected LGBT publication OutFront editorialized today urging Coloradans to attend the rally and committee hearing in support of the bill. Quoting OutFront:
Once again your community needs you.
A little more than a year ago, we asked you to join hundreds of your brothers and sisters at a similar rally to make your desire for equal rights known through the hollowed halls of the Colorado Capitol. More than 300 supporters showed up. And despite the community’s best effort, a Republican controlled committee killed the legislation that would have granted more than a dozen rights and responsibilities to hard working, tax paying, Coloradans — both gay and straight.
So, you might think there’s no point in showing up again. They’ve already told us “no.”
But that is exactly why we must stand taller, fight harder, scream louder.
The Colorado Civil Union Act has a real chance of becoming a reality.
“Is there hope?” one of our Twitter followers asked us.
There’s always hope. And this time hope’s name is Rep. Brian DelGrosso of Loveland. DelGrosso, unlike other Republicans on the committee, has vocalized the possibility his ‘nay’ can become an ‘yea.’
Again, please consider contacting the members of the House Judiciary Committee to show your support for civil unions. I’ve posted their contact information here.
CO civil union bill going to committee Thursday, here are the Reps that need to hear from you
May 1st, 2012
SB-2 the civil union bill here in Colorado has been scheduled for a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee this Thursday (May 3). This committee is generally regarded as the most important hurdle in the process because if the bill makes it to a floor vote in the House it will likely pass.
So Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing is a bit of a showdown. It’s where the bill died last year after hours of passionate testimony failed to overcome a one vote Republican majority on the committee.
Here’s a list of the Republicans who sit on Thursday’s committee. I would encourage you to contact them and speak compassionately, persuasively, and respectfully about the need to protect committed gay and lesbian families here in Colorado.
Rep. BJ Nikkel, HD-49 Loveland
Rep. Bob Gardner, HD-21 Colorado Springs
Civil unions bill clears Colorado Senate despite theocratic opposition
April 27th, 2012
Thursday SB-2 (civil unions) passed out of the Colorado Senate with a vote of 20-12 with 3 Republicans joining Dems in support.
In last year’s campaign video I shot of a grandmother who provided graphic testimony about the human anus came to represent the bill’s opposition.
This year two particularly religious Republican Senators have provided some amusing debate. Here’s a clip of highlights I assembled from today’s floor debate.
The bill now moves on to the House, which is controlled by Republicans by a single vote. Although openly gay sponsor Mark Ferrendino has enough votes in the House to pass the bill, it’s generally believed the House Judiciary Committee where the bill died last year will again be the largest challenge.
This American Life to feature John Smid, former director of the nation’s largest and oldest ex-gay program Love In Action
April 9th, 2012
Here’s the preview of next week’s show that appeared at the very end of this week’s broadcast.
At first I didn’t recognize the voice but John’s billboard story appears on his website here.
To be clear this episode will air the weekend of April 13th (exact date/time varies by your local NPR affiliate).
Focus launches “religious liberty” ballot amendment in Colorado
March 16th, 2012
Somehow both OutFront Colorado and I missed not one but two articles last week announcing Focus On The Family with the help of Alliance Defense Fund, intends on creating a coalition to pass a ballot amendment in 2012 to “protect” the religious freedoms of individuals and religious groups.
Here’s the proposed wording: (source withheld)
(1) The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.
(2) A burden includes indirect burdens such as a withholding of one or more benefits, assessing one or more penalties, exclusion from one or more government programs, and/or exclusion from one or more government facility.
This is a seemingly new strategy and we don’t have any other states to look to for precedent where such things have been enacted. However North Dakota will vote on a similar amendment in June of this year. (The proposed Colorado amendment would be voted on in November).
As of recently Focus’ CitizenLink has had a bee in their bonnet about so called religious liberty as it pertains to reproductive freedom and health care reform here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, this week alone. In my opinion contraception mandates is merely the political flavor of the month, animus towards LGBT people is in season year round with Focus and friends. Joe.My.God has an eloquent take on the proposed amendment:
Focus On The Family has launched a ballot petition drive that, if successful, will ask Colorado voters to make it legal to deny housing, employment, and services to any person on the basis of religious objections. (Gosh, who COULD they be talking about?)
State equality org One Colorado is already responding by forming a coalition with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. One Colorado posted an official statement this morning which reads in part:
The initiative’s language — which focuses on “religious liberty” — is incredibly deceptive. It doesn’t make clear the widespread implications of enacting this law. Implications that don’t just impact LGBT people — but all Coloradans.
Imagine a law that allows a pharmacist to refuse to fill a birth control prescription. A law that permits an employer to refuse to hire people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A law that gives protection to teachers who refuse to teach sex education or evolution. All for the sake of so-called religious freedom.
At One Colorado, we believe that everyone has a right to their own religious beliefs. But no one should be above the law. And we shouldn’t create a two-tiered society where the law applies only to some and not others.
One Colorado also announced they will be mounting a legal challenge to the proposed amendment, that will occur when the final wording comes before the Secretary of State’s Title Board which has the power to reject proposed ballot items. If you wish to donate to the legal fund click here, One Colorado has set a goal of collecting the $5,000 needed by Monday.
Nobody has much to say from a legal perspective yet. OutFront’s article included comment from the GLBT Community Center of Colorado’s legal director:
Mindy Barton also noted text of the measure is very broad and the potential applications are unclear.
“We are unsure of what the proposed ballot initiative mans, and we are interested to hear if Focus on the Family, whose Senior Vice President is listed as one of the proponents, will explain the intent behind it,” Barton said.
As a lay-person let’s have a look at the amendment’s wording. If allowed to actually take effect, it seems the amendment would allow someone with a “sincerely held religious belief” to disobey any law they see fit based on those beliefs. Sometimes a person breaks the law by doing something, an example of this would be a Rastafari using marijana (a Schedule I narcotic) in a religious ceremony. Other times a person would break the law by not doing something, an example of this would be “sovereign citizens” who sincerely believe they are exempt from paying taxes. Virtually any law it appears could be challenged, and the government would be obligated to justify they have a ”compelling governmental interest” in enforcing it. It could be decades of legal chaos as our courts subject thousand of laws to the compelling interest test to determine if they are trumped by “religious liberty.”
But ultimately that could work to our advantage. When the public views ballot measures as vague or creating chaos, voters tend to error on the side of rejecting them.
The Friendly Atheist blogged about the proposed North Dakota amendment back in 2010 noting how blatantly unconstitutional its implications are, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which was stuck down in Boerne v. Flores. He also has a fabulous quote from an opinion by Antonin Scalia in Employment Division v. Smith in which a Oregon man was denied unemployment benefits after using peyote in a religious ritual. Wrote Scalia:
We rejected the claim (in Reynolds v. United States) that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “Laws,” we said,
are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.
That sums it up perfectly, Focus’ “religious liberty” amendment would allow “every citizen to become a law unto himself.”
Amazon taking pre-orders for “This Is What Love in Action Looks Like”
March 2nd, 2012
If you haven’t been able to catch a festival screening of “This Is What Love in Action Looks Like” and wanted to see it then you’re in luck. Amazon just listed the film for sale with orders shipping on May 8th at a price of $24.99.
If you’re not familiar with the film you can read my review here, I’ve seen a lot of films about the ex-gay movement and this one is by far the best and most compelling.