Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“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, 2013

Congratulations Mitch!

Timothy Kincaid

May 22nd, 2013

Yesterday were the elections for city council and mayor in Los Angeles. My councilman, Eric Garcetti, won mayor and the new councilman in my district will be Mitch O’Farrell.

Mitch was one of a few openly gay candidates for District 13 – which includes Hollywood, Silverlake, and Atwater Village – and came first in the primary before winning last night with 53% of the vote. He brought together a wide selection of residents to beat John Choi, who moved into the district just to run and who vastly outspent Mitch with a special interest funded warchest.

Congratulations, Mitch, and I wish you a successful term.

How’s The Catholic Church’s Celibacy Solution Working Out?

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2012

If you’re gay, the Catholic Church has one answer for you: stay celibate for the rest of your life. The Hartford (CT) Archdiocese has sponsored a chapter of the Catholic ex-gay program Courage to help gays experience all the joys of celibacy:

The Hartford Archdiocese wants gays and lesbians to practice abstinence in the new year.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese announced it was launching a local chapter of a national ministry called Courage “to support men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.”

…Gay attraction is not the sin, the ministry preaches — only when one acts on those feelings is it immoral. “Through support and spiritual intervention, we can help people with same-sex attraction lead moral and fulfilling lives,” Pallotti said. “These people are hurting and so are their families. Doing nothing would be a lack of compassion.”

The article explained that the Archdiocese had some difficulty establishing the chapter over the objections of area deacons who thought Courage didn’t condemn gay people enough. But after attending some workshops, they decided that Courage wasn’t as lib’ral as they feared. Local LGBT leaders saw through the charade:

True Colors Executive Director Robin McHaelen argued Tuesday that the Catholic Church is “trying to have it both ways — keeping the same hostile interpretation of a small number of biblical passages while pretending they are not homophobic.”

“I can’t tell you how many kids I work with who have been spiritually wounded by this and similar religious perspectives,” McHaelen said. True Colors, a nonprofit agency based in Hartford, offers help to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens, some of whom have been kicked out of religious households.

“In my opinion, that’s the abomination,” McHaelen said.

Unlike most other ex-gay organizations, neither Courage nor the Catholic Church promises change in sexual orientation per se. Instead, they promote “the gift of celibacy” for anyone who remains outside a one-man-one-woman marriage.

And speaking of celibacy:

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, resigned Wednesday under the code of canon law that lets bishops step down earlier than the normal retirement age of 75 if they’re sick or for some other reason that makes them unfit for office.

In a letter to the faithful, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said Zavala had told him in December that he had two children who lived with their mother in a different state. Zavala subsequently submitted his resignation to the pope.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

What will LA’s new Cardinal selection mean for CA’s fight for marriage equality?

Timothy Kincaid

April 7th, 2010

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony will retire in February, 2011, and the Catholic Church has just announced his replacement, Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio. Considering that California will likely be voting again in 2012 on whether the state will recognize same-sex marriages, and considering the importance which the Holy See places on this issue, I doubt this move is unrelated.

As a Mexican native, Gomez will have a natural appeal and a greater sense of authority than had Mahony. And he could be a far more committed opponent of equality.

Cardinal Mahony was active in seeking Latino and other Catholic vote in favor of Proposition 8. Yet his was not the image of the initiative and his activism seemed more cursory than heartfelt. He opposed equality but not with ferocity.

This may, in part, be due to Mahony’s less rigid ideologies and his affiliation with the more moderate wing of the Church, one focused on advancing social good rather than upholding the dictates of Rome. Jose Gomez is cut from a different cloth. (LA Times)

During his six-year tenure atop the San Antonio archdiocese, Gomez emerged as a leading advocate for doctrinal conformity, determined to stave off what he saw as creeping secularism in the church.

He denounced one Catholic university when it invited then-Sen. Hillary Clinton to campus, because she favored abortion rights, and another when it invited a Benedictine nun, because she had advocated the ordination of women. Under his reign, a local Catholic high school ended its relationship with an organization that raised money to fight breast cancer, because the same organization gave grants to Planned Parenthood. After a 17-year-old lay advisory commission created by his predecessor suggested that gay marriage might be a human rights issue under one reading of the church’s teachings, Gomez disbanded the commission.

“The doors were closed for collaborative communication,” Mary Moreno, one commission member, said in an interview Tuesday. “We just got a letter. And when things are done like that, it kind of leaves a sting.”

Such hardline authoritarianism is natural considering his affiliation within the church. Gomez comes out of the conservative Opus Dei movement, one which frequently seems present when the Church lodges attacks the civil freedoms of non-Catholics, especially gays and lesbians.

And Gomez does believe in advancing his church’s agenda by means of the ballot box. In 2008 he wrote an op-ed in the San Antonio Express-News in which he said

Recently, the Express-News published its voter’s guide. It was a comprehensive listing of races and candidates running for office in November. I’m sure it was a helpful tool for many. I recognize it is challenging to make any voter’s guide comprehensive. However, the inclusion of the fundamental life issues for pursuit of the common good would have made the publication a more complete, accurate and useful tool at this critical time.

People need to know the positions of the candidates on the key issues that protect the right to life such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and capital punishment. Voters also would have been better served if they had been provided information about the candidates’ positions on the definition of marriage, the basic cell of society as a union between a man and a woman.

But Jose Gomez may find that being Cardinal in Los Angeles is quite different from being Archbishop in San Antonio. He’ll soon discover that California’s Latino Catholic politicians are socially liberal and will not fall in line to follow the Church’s anti-gay positions. It will be interesting to see to what extent the new Cardinal will seek to impose his will on the local political power structure. And it will be interesting to see whether Gomez’ support for immigrants (with which he shares ideology with local Catholic Latino politicians) will cause him to tread more lightly on those other issues with which he disagrees.

But in any case, I think that this move is likely to change the game in the next proposition battle. I suspect that Gomez will be much more aggressive in the Church’s campaign to impose its will on its neighbors.

Episcopal Church approves lesbian bishop

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2010

Rev. Cannon Mary GlasspoolFrom the New York Times

A majority of bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church have approved the election of the church’s second openly gay bishop, the Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, a decision likely to increase the tension with fellow Anglican churches around the world that do not approve of homosexuality.

Congratulations Bishop Glasspool

LAPD drops ties with the Boy Scouts

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2009

boyscoutsIn 2000, the Boy Scouts of America went to the US Supreme Court to defend their right to exclude members based solely on their sexual orientation. And since that time, they have insisted that all scout troops – even those in which the community, the scout leaders, and the parents wish otherwise – expel and exclude gay scouts and leaders. They also exclude atheists and agnostics.

I support their right to do so. Generally, I believe that membership based social organizations should be free to grant or deny membership based on whatever arbitrary or ridiculous reason they wish, even if it be odious and hateful. Even if I believe the policy to be ill conceived and harmful.

But they should not do so with my tax dollars.

And, increasingly, the Scouts have been discovering that the cost of their exclusionary policy is not an inconsequential one. There has been a steady stream of cities that have severed ties or revoked special privileges which the organization had enjoyed. No longer does the City Berkeley provide free berthing to the Sea Scouts. The City of San Diego revoked its $1 lease on a portion of Balboa Park, and the City of Philadelphia evicted the Scouts from a city owned building.

Of course, those who demand their right to discriminate often are outraged and indignant when they think that they are on the other side of the equation. So the Boy Scouts have sued in each of these cases, claiming that revoking their special privileges and taxpayer sponsored handouts is (you saw it coming) discrimination against them.

Yet with each passing year, they are discovering that local governments and institutions give less leeway to the Scouts. Their blind insistence on defining themselves as a religious organization free to disassociate the ungodly also puts them at conflict with establishment of religion issues.

And, frankly, more and more, their pigheadedness is seen as distasteful. Civic institutions don’t want to put gay elected officials or employees in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with a group that considers them not to be “clean” or “morally straight”. And it feels burdensome of the Scouts to put them in this position.

So this organization, once revered and considered an integral part of American youth, is increasingly give the heave-ho. And the latest to sever connections with the Scouts is the Los Angeles Police Department (Daily Breeze).

Since 1962 the Explorers, a program for youth who wish to become police officers, has been affiliated with the Boy Scouts. That will end on Friday; the Police Commission has voted to change the name of the program and cease using the Scout affiliated insurance service (the LAPD has administered the program itself for the past decade).

Commissioner Robert Saltzman, who is openly gay, said that because he cannot support the Boy Scouts, he has invested a lot of time to ensure the new youth program is “as good or – I’m confident – better than the program it replaces.”

“The Boy Scouts are clear that they discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and the result of that is I could not be active on the Boy Scouts,” Saltzman said.

None of this is a happy resolution. The Scouts are weaker, the program is less respected, ad hoc solutions are pasted about in attempts to keep programs operating, and children are now less connected to their local governments. All the good that comes from connecting with nature, teaching values by example, efforts for self improvement and a call to selflessness has now been tainted by exclusion, discrimination, and recrimination.

All so that some ultra-religious administrators can self-righteously declare that only good god-fearing heterosexuals can be associated with their organization. Oh, and all this sadness and destruction is justified because their bigotry is “for the children”.

Rev. Lee Threatened by Nat’l Civil Rights Group for Supporting Marriage Equality

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2009

Rev. Eric Lee, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has been a valuable ally for marriage equality. He is a principled man (religiously conservative) who opposes discrimination where he sees it.

But Lee’s opposition to bigotry and bias has now gotten him in trouble with a group that was founded on the principles of equality for all. (NY Times)

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the 50-year-old civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter in response to his support of same-sex marriage in California.

But those in the national organization may not be able to insist on endorsing discrimination in Southern California.

Because chapters of the leadership conference operate autonomously and presidents are picked by local boards, it is not clear that the national organization has the authority to remove Mr. Lee from his post, which he has held for two years.

“It’s been our position that the local board hired him,” said Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, chairman of the local board and secretary of the California Democratic Party. “And, in fact, we are also the ones that approved his stance on the position of marriage equality. We have asked the national board if we have violated any procedures, and we have not gotten an answer.”

Rev. Lee is sacrificing and taking the tough road and facing hardship and standing up to opposition in order to speak the difficult and unwanted message that “any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have that is a clear violation of civil rights”.

Dr. King would be proud.

Race Differences on Marriage Equality in Los Angeles

Timothy Kincaid

June 19th, 2009

A new LA Times poll shows that support for marriage equality differs in Los Angeles by race:

White voters were most emphatic in their support for same-sex marriage, with 68% supporting it and 27% opposing. African American voters were strongly against it, with 54% opposing same-sex marriage and 37% supporting it.

Opposition to gay marriage by African Americans was widely seen as a major factor contributing to the passage of Proposition 8. Latinos in the current poll were split, with 45% supporting same-sex marriage and 46% opposing.

Threat Assessment

Timothy Kincaid

June 16th, 2009

This past weekend was Los Angeles’ gay pride parade and festival, Christopher Street West. And police presence was abundant.

Dozens of officers from various departments marched in the parade (accompanied the LA Chief of Police) and dozens more Sheriff’s Deputies were present to control traffic, keep the parade route clear, and be a general visible presence of order.

But I noticed something unusual this year. Some deputies seemed to be wearing bullet proof vests.

So I asked a deputy, “Why are you wearing vests? Are you concerned that gay folks are going to be a threat?”

And he responded, “No. It’s not the gays we’re concerned about. It’s those knuckleheads”.

And then I realized that the only deputies wearing protective gear were those lingering around the nine street preachers that had shown up to protest the parade.

In a time of increased violence from extremists, it’s nice to see a police force taking the threat against our lives seriously.

Yes He Can!

Jim Burroway

May 28th, 2009

I asked last Friday:

President Barack Obama will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday, which will be the day immediately following Decision Day. Do you think he can make it through the entire visit without mentioning Prop 8?

The answer is yes, he did.

Tuesday’s Anti-Prop 8 Rally In Los Angeles

Jim Burroway

May 28th, 2009

When we see YouTube videos of rallies taking place in other cities, we get simple editing, poor sound, and shaky cameras. But no, not in the entertainment capital of the world. This is what Tuesday’s rally against Prop 8 looked like in Los Angeles:

YouTube Preview Image

Obama To Be In Los Angeles Day After Decision Day

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2009

President Barack Obama will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday, which will be the day immediately following Decision Day. Do you think he can make it through the entire visit without mentioning Prop 8?

[Hat tip: Michael Petrelis]

El Coyote Manager Steps Down

Jim Burroway

December 8th, 2008

Frontiers Magazine is reporting that Marjorie Christoffersen, manager at El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeless, is stepping down. She is also resigning as a member of El Coyote’s board of directors. She had been with the restaurant for 26 years.

El Coyote became embroiled in controversey last month when it was learned that Marjorie Christoffersen had donated $100 to California’s “Yes on 8″ campaign, which sponsored the contitutional amendment to strip gays and lesbians of their right to marry. This contribution came as a shock to restaurant’s gay clientele which had seen the venerable 77-year-old institution as a welcoming and gay-friendly establishment.

After news of Christoffersen’s donation broke, El Coyote managers agreed to sit down and discuss the donation with members of the community. During the meeting, Christoffersen said that she was proud that the restaurant had been a “beacon of diversity.” But she refused to apologize for her donation, which she said stemmed from her Mormon faith. That led to a boycott of the restaurant.

A Patronizing “Pastoral Message”

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2008

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, has issued A pastoral message to homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles assuring gay Catholics that they “are cherished members of the Catholic Church, and that we value you as equal and active members of the Body of Christ”.

I know what the Cardinal is trying to say. He just wants gay Catholics to know that this very personal action that he encouraged to harm their life wasn’t personal. It’s not out of some desire to hurt them, you see, it’s just out of Mahony’s absolute certainty about how things should be.

And that while he actively seeks to eliminate any measure of equality for same-sex attracted persons either in society or in the Church, he values them as equal members of the Body of Christ. You’re equal in the eyes of God, you see, but dogma and doctrine require that you be treated as intrinsically disordered, not to be protected from death sentences, and psychologically suspect due to your “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

Frankly, there are times that outright animosity is better. At least you know that the Phelpses are thinking about you when they carry signs saying “God Hates Fags”.

But these folks who campaign to change civil law in some way that impacts only gay people and then turn around and claim that it has nothing to do with gays, well they just infuriate me. It’s not that they declare us evil, per se, but rather that they refuse to consider us at all.

Consider the dismissiveness inherent in the Cardinal’s refusal to even recognize that gay couples exist:

As we have come to learn over these past decades, there are many groupings of people residing under one roof across California. Some of these groupings are related family members, while others are companions and friends. There are now 17 rights for such companions and friends specifically included in the State of California’s legal structure.

Having relegated decades-long committed loving relationships to “companions and friends”, and having declared – in a moment of absolute absurdity – that Proposition 8 never “intended, directly or indirectly, to lessen the value and importance of gay and lesbian persons”, the Cardinal arrogantly assigns the ill intention of the perpetrators of this attack on gay family onto the victims.

We are saddened that some people who opposed Proposition 8 have employed hurtful and accusatory language, and even threatening actions, against those who voted for Proposition 8. This is most unfortunate since such strategies obscure the basic matter at issue: the preservation of the ordered relationship between man and woman created by God.

At no point did Mahony acknowledge, much less apologize for, the hurtful and accusatory language of the Yes on 8 Campaign or the threatening actions against those who contributed against it. I guess the extortion letter signed by the Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference was justified by “the basic matter at issue”.

This is not by any reasonable definition a “pastoral message”. There is no recognition of the harm caused. There is no salve for the wounds in his flock. There is not even an admission that this political endeavor had the slightest of negative consequences on gay people.

There is only self-justification, lies about the intent and result of the campaign, and blame assigned to those who disagree with him – including those to whom this letter pretends to be addressed.

I’m not a Catholic so I cannot speak for those who are part of the Church. But were I one of Mahony’s flock, I would find his smarmy patronizing self-congratulatory “message” to be an offense to me, my family, my friends, my God, and all decent people everywhere.

What Defines a Community Organization?

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of the other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

November 25th, 2008

Tonight there will be a “townhall meeting”, a 90 minute online forum to address “Prop. 8: The Facts and the Future”. It is hosted by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and will feature its CEO, Lorri Jean.

At first glace this seems like a reasonable organization and individual to take charge and really address this situation. After all, what could be more representative of the gay community than “the world’s largest LGBT organization”?

But is this really the world’s largest LGBT community organization? And what makes an organization “community”?

I would argue that for an organization to be “community” it has to fit some criteria: it must be where the community is, provide services to the community, be welcoming to all members of the community, and be a home, a place of security and warmth, a shelter.

Sadly, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center fails on nearly all accounts.

The heart of Los Angeles’ gay community can be found in West Hollywood on the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica. Although today that portion of West Hollywood plays social host to a mostly white male gay crowd of a certain age and dynamic, it is to that location that our community gravitates in time of protest. Yes, there are other parts of the city that play host to various subsets of our community, but West Hollywood is ours. It is our safe spot.

Hollywood is not.

A lone gay man or woman would not feel completely safe at night on Hollywood Boulevard towards the eastern end of the cruise strip. This is straightsville, and not a very safe part of it at that. Yet it is on a side street off Hollywood, three miles from the community, that the LAGLC’s chose to purchase a four story office building. And while it may be safe to wander around the neighborhood streets during the day, parking is only available for a hefty price.

If there is one thing obviously missing from the neighborhood in which the Center is located, it would be gay people.

But they also have another site – used mostly for fundraising. It has an art gallery, a theater, and rooms your organization can rent for occasions. It’s also in Hollywood and has no parking and I’ve yet to meet the person who wanders over to spend the afternoon.

But one might overlook the location if the draw was adequate. If they offered a service that was communal, that drew people together, that created a bond, a common meeting space, a feeling of unity.

Well, perhaps a glance at the Center’s revenues and expenditures can give us some sense as to whether LAGLC has the unification of the community as their primary goal.

According to LAGLC’s Form 990 for the year ended 6/30/07, the Center allocated their program service expenditures as follows: 77.0% as a pharmacy, 5.8% as an AIDS information clearinghouse, 5.7% for health education, for combined health services of 88.5% of their overall expenditures. Perhaps that’s why health care is featured so prominently on their website.

But healthcare is not their only function. They also provide care for homeless youth, free internet access, programs for seniors, and legal advice. All told they spent $32,895,161 doing good deeds.

For which they received reimbursement of $36,711,446 by the state, insurance companies, and fees.

Even after paying all administrative and fundraising expenses, the Center was in the enviable position of being able to reserve 43% of their direct public support away for a rainy day.

As for the average Joe or Jane gay person, for you there is not so very much.

Now you may be new in town and wander down Rand Shrader Place wondering what that brightly colored building is. And you may even go inside thinking it would be cool to maybe meet other gay people. But unless you are here for medical services (what’s your insurance?) or have an appointment, there’s no seating provided in the marble lobby and loitering isn’t allowed. (While once waiting for a friend who was receiving “legal advice” I was informed that there was a bench outside).

If you’re new in town and want to hang out with other gays, try either Starbucks on Santa Monica across from the gym or the new coffee place on the corner of Robertson. Or visit a church, join a club, or have a cocktail in any of dozens of bars scattered throughout the city. But don’t go near the Center.

Now don’t get me wrong. I very much appreciate the medical services they provide to those who are indigent or uncomfortable with another health care provider. And it’s awfully nice that someone is caring for youth and seniors. Truly. We need to better address the issue of homeless gay youth.

But I’m not sure why an adjunct of the State Health Department thinks that it is qualified to speak for me on issues of civil equality or why Lorri Jean has anything to say about the passage of Proposition 8.

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