Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This Week's Quote

In Czechoslovakia there is no such thing as freedom of the press.  In the United States there is no such thing as freedom from the press.

Martina Navratilova

Source:  Sportswit

Even Jesus Might've Slapped Him

Now, for your daily dose of outrage, I offer the actions of Father Marcel Guarnizo, a priest who abandoned his duties and his compassion while officiating at the funeral of a woman in Maryland.

Ann Werner was there, and she tells the story at Addicting Info:

My friend Barbara, the daughter of the deceased woman, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. She was the first in line and Fr. Guarnizo covered the bowl containing the host and said to her,  “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.” To add insult to injury, Fr. Guarnizo left the altar when she delivered her eulogy to her mother. When the funeral was finished he informed the funeral director that he could not go to the gravesite to deliver the final blessing because he was sick.

I will tell you a little about the woman who drove that priest from the altar. She is kind, she is smart, she is funny and she works hard promoting the arts. She pays her bills, she cares deeply for her family and she loved her mother and her mother loved her right back. And now she will never set foot in a Catholic church again and who can blame her?

It is time for Christians of all stripes to stop and think about the teachings of the Jesus they proclaim to love so deeply and revere so much. I spent twelve years in Catholic school and the Jesus I was told about would never have turned away anyone for any reason and certainly not on the occasion of burying a parent. Fr. Guarnizo has a lot to learn about Christianity and the Catholic Church has a lot to learn about the teachings of Jesus if behavior of this sort is tolerated.
. . .
As for me, I send my love and condolences to my friend Barbara and all of the other family members who were made to witness such an egregious display of prejudice in such an inappropriate setting. To Father Guarnizo, I say, “Jesus would weep.”

I hope the woman whose funeral he disrupted will make it her business to haunt him.  Maybe draw rainbows on his vestments.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Marriage Whirlwind

In the first two months of this year, same-sex marriage news has been as plentiful as wedding guests around an open bar.

I need to pause.  Catch my breath.  Tot up the wins and losses of January and February.  Analyze.  Theorize.  Chortle.

Starting on the left side of the country, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that California's Proposition 8 is, to use the legal term, icky.

Supporters of the ban on gay marriage responded by asking that all the judges of the Ninth Circuit rehear the case.  There's no truth to the rumor that all the judges threw their robes over their faces and chanted, "Nyah, nyah, we can't hear you!"

In Washington state, Gov. Chris Gregoire opened 2012 with a strong endorsement of same-sex marriage, after wrestling her Catholic doubts to the mat.  The Democrat's backing seemed to be the oomph needed, as the legislature passed a marriage-equality bill, and she signed it with emotion.

Mere hours later, opponents of gay marriage filed Referendum 73 to repeal the legislation.  Other foes are backing Initiative 1192, which would reaffirm the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.  I'm ready to file Proposal 123, inventive suggestions for what bigots can do with their fear-mongering.

Leap with me across the country to Maine, where three years ago voters repealed a same-sex marriage law, such a devastating blow that I'm surprised gay-rights advocates can speak in complete sentences, let alone return to the fight.

But return they are.  Marriage-equality supporters gathered signatures to put the matter on the ballot, and in late February state officials certified their efforts.  So come November, Maine voters can undo their error of 2009.  Lucky ducks.

In February Maine's neighbor, New Hampshire, displayed its intention to abandon Yankee sense.  At a statehouse rally in support of a bill that would repeal same-sex marriage, the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. David Bates, said, "I think it's time to move back, back to the true meaning of marriage."

I think it's time he moved forward.  At least to the Pleistocene era.

Leaving New England for the Mid-Atlantic states, we land in New Jersey, where in February the state Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, the state Assembly did, too, but Gov. Chris Christie, as promised, vetoed the measure.

"He won't veto the bill because he's anti-gay," said Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality before Republican Christie did the deed.  "He'll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina presidential primary electorate is anti-gay."

Who knew South Carolina was part of New Jersey?

Maryland had a better result.  The House of Delegates and the state Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who sponsored the bill, plans to sign it into law before you can say "Nuts to New Jersey."  Opponents, of course, have plighted their troth to a referendum.

In federal marriage developments, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.  DOMA is discriminatory, the judge decided, enacted by a 1996 Congress hot to show its disapproval of homosexuality.

White's ruling was quickly appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court with which I started this column.  Between Prop 8 and DOMA, that court has a lot on its plate.  Maybe the judges really did throw their robes over their faces.

In January and February of 2012, two states legalized same-sex marriage, and two courts ruled against same-sex marriage bans.  During this whirlwind period, we came out ahead.  I'm not ready to say the tide has turned—but it surely has budged some.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daisy Chain

In this photo, staffers from Equal Rights Washington (ERW), the Evergreen State's LGBT advocacy organization, pose with posies.  The gift came from Empire State Pride Agenda, ERW's opposite number in New York, with a card that read, "From state #6 to state #7, the torch is passed! Congratulations!"
ERW hopes soon to be able to send a bouquet to Equality Maryland, state #7 congratulating state #8.

Sweet sentiments in every sense. 

I could be wrong, but I suspect other sorts of advocacy groups with lots of men in them don't often send flowers to each other.  But when the guys are gay, the flowers fly.  FTD on speed dial.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Week's Quote

There is nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex.  People should be very free with sex, they should draw the line at goats.

Elton John

Source:  Quotegarden.com

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Question of the Week

Now that the New Jersey legislature has sent Gov. Christie a marriage-equality bill, what would you like to say to him?

Nails It

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Week's Quote

It goes Christmas, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day. Is that fair to anyone who's alone? These are all days you gotta be with someone. And if you didn't get around to killing yourself at Christmas or New Year's, boom! There's Valentine's Day. I think there should be one more after Valentine's Day just called, "Who could love you?"

Laura Kightlinger

Source:  The Huffington Post

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy, Anxious, Anxious, Happy

The LGBT news in my part of the world has been good lately.  Stunningly good.  The governor of Washington mastered her qualms, the legislature mustered the votes and soon misters will be marrying misters in the Pacific Northwest.

This process has been so speedy and gratifying that I've been in a happy place for all of 2012.

Anyone who knows me knows that couldn’t last.

Recent LGBT news from around the world has plucked me from my happy place and plunked me down on an anxious acre.  Listen, if it weren't for that continuing glow from local news, I'd be on an irate island.

Start with the fact that the "Kill the Gays" bill has resurfaced in Uganda.  Oh, this time the death penalty has been dropped, according to the bill's daddy, MP David Bahati.  Now anyone convicted of "aggravated homosexuality"—which last time around included any HIV-positive gay person who has sex—will merely get life in prison.

Such a relief.

Openly lesbian Pepe Julian Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda told the BBC that in the few days since Bahati reintroduced his bill, anti-gay harassment increased.  In other words, Bahati got a lightning-quick return on his investment.  A hate dividend.

"What I'm worried about most is not even the police coming to arrest me, it's my neighbor attacking me—it's the [taxi] refusing to take me to a destination.  I'll be killed before I reached my destination," said Onziema.

Suddenly I'm filled with warmth for North American cab drivers.

The prime minister and cabinet don't support Bahati's bill, having gotten an international earful about it in the past, but the legislation will receive an airing.  "The facilitation of this debate should not be confused for the government's support for this bill," read an official statement.

Will the government manage to quash the bill?  Will there be some hideous compromise?  How many more LGBT Ugandans will suffer at the hands of their neighbors?  I have room if you want to join me on my anxious acre.  I'm generous that way.

Now to another part of the world that currently calls for hand wringing.  St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia and considered the nation's most sophisticated metropolis, moves ever closer to bumpkin status.

The city legislature advanced a measure banning "gay promotion."  Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the bill puts the kibosh on any gay Pride events.  Authorities can levy fines up to $16,700 for "public activities promoting homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexualism and transgender identity."

That whole legalizing homosexuality thing that happened in Russia in 1993 seems to have passed a lot of Russians by.  Rather like democracy.

The St. Petersburg legislature gave the second of three required approvals to this terrible measure, and the third reading is imminent.  The bill first went before the legislature in November; between then and now the fines grew 10 times higher.  Just how much does vodka cost these days?

Not all the appalling LGBT news comes from abroad, of course.  Ask 20-year-old Brandon White, who was beaten outside a neighborhood store in Atlanta by gang members hurling anti-gay slurs and shouting that his kind wasn't wanted in the area.

Their kind tends to be not so popular either.

White didn't plan to report the assault until he heard a video of it had been posted and gone viral.  "By them going ahead and putting it on the Internet, I feel that they wanted the attention," said White, according to The Huffington Post.  "They wanted to make themselves look like they were brave or strong, but in my opinion, I'm the brave one."

A powerful sentiment.  Powerful enough to fling me back to my happy place.  Or at least within spitting distance.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Question of the Week

Tomorrow in Tacoma, Wash., will be the funeral for the two little boys killed by their father, Josh Powell.  The Westboro Baptist Church planned to protest at the event, claiming the murders resulted from God's anger with Washington for passing same-sex marriage.  Now the Westboro'ers have backed off, in exchange for air time on a radio station.  Your view of all this?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blog Swarm of Thanks

Today General Gayety is participating in a Washington United for Marriage and Daily Kos blog swarm to help support the marriage equality campaign in Washington State. I’m joined by bloggers from Bilerico ProjectPam’s House BlendGood As You,AMERICABlog Gay, the Prop 8 Trial Trackerthe Seattle LesbianThe Bent Angleon the-AveMadProfessahHRCHella BusHorsesass.orgStep ForwardLGBT POV,  FrontiersLAthe Left Shue and more.

This has been an incredible week! On Tuesday a three judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In the majority opinion, the court wrote,”Prop 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”

On Wednesday, the Washington State House passed a same-sex marriage bill, and now it the bill is headed to Governor Gregoire’s desk for her signature. She promised to sign the bill before Valentine’s Day!

Please click here to thank Governor Gregoire.

Governor Gregoire’s leadership was instrumental to the success of passing a marriage bill in Washington State. She not only supported the bill, but she introduced the bill. This is as much her legislation as it is our community’s legislation.

Please join us during this blog swarm to thank Governor Gregoire for her leadership and her friendship. There is little doubt our opponents will make their voices heard, but we know that together our voice for equality is so much stronger.

Did you sign the thank you petition? Share it with your friends: http://wufm.it/4

You Might Cry, You Will Laugh

This speech is a keeper.   Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla explains her position during yesterday's debate over marriage equality in Washington.

And by the way, the House voted 55-43 to grant same-sex marriage.  All that remains is for the governor to sign the bill, which she will do soon.  Then:  in all likelihood, the joy of a referendum.  2012 is not a dull year in the Evergreen State.

The Ultimate Question

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ellen and Those "Million" Moms

Ellen DeGeneres offers her take on the JCPenney/One Million Moms hullabaloo.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Prop 8 Win

In California, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision on Proposition 8 today.  The court concluded that Prop 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  I conclude that there will be giddiness from the Castro to Christopher St.

This Week's Quote

I personally think we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

Jane Wagner

Source:  The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Monday, February 6, 2012

Guest Post: Marriage-Ambivalence Meets Reality

By Louisa Mackenzie

At about 8 p.m. on February 1st, 2012, the Washington State Senate voted, 28-21, to approve marriage equality. I was there, standing in the gallery along with hundreds of other LGBTQQI (etc.) and allied Washingtonians. And for about 24 hours afterwards, I forgot to be ambivalent.
Now it's coming back . The ambivalence. Some of it might be better defined as pessimism. There will almost certainly be an ugly referendum. National so-called "family values" groups have had their eyes on our state for months now, and are already pouring money into local religious coalitions who have promised a ballot challenge. We'll be called pedophiles, necrophiliacs, hell-bound harbingers of social chaos, German Shepherd-marriers. Maybe – probably – we're headed for a California-style pendulum. We'll be allowed to marry on one Wednesday in July, but it will only be recognised if the papers are signed before 4:03 p.m. when another referendum will be filed, but not if the judge was on lunch break; then it'll be back to domestic partnerships (which will have been dissolved if we got married, so we'll have to reapply, but since our DP was nonexistent for two hours we will actually find ourselves to be legally separated). And then, Focus on the Creepy Old Testament Family will start chipping away at domestic partnerships too, so we'll find ourselves back in the 1970s before it's Thursday.
And then there's DoMA. State-based marriages don't address the federal limbo we live in. We pay "gay taxes" on health insurance for partners; we're not eligible for Social Security; we can't sponsor a non-US-born partner into the country; we can have an accident in a neighbouring state and die alone in a hospital while our partner is legally refused access to our room.  And that's just four of the hundreds of ways in which DoMA reminds us of our status (social chaos, hell, necrophilia, German Shepherds).
Some of my ambivalence comes from the M-word itself. Despite my own utterly assimilated life as a middle-aged monogamously partnered lesbo with the metaphorical white picket fence and the literal Subaru, I respect many of the arguments from within our community against the current focus on gay marriage. Anti-assimilation activists argue for a more radical understanding of rights. Some argue that marriage is a patriarchal and homophobic institution to which we should not aspire, that marriage itself requires queering. Others –this is more where I've aligned myself recently – argue that same-sex couples don't need the term "marriage" as long as they have all of the state and federal rights associated with the institution. Call it whatever you want. Call it Sid, or The Institution Formerly Known as Marriage, just give us the rights.
Even as many of us celebrate, we should not dismiss the ways in which marriage continues to divide LGBTQ communities themselves. If it becomes legal in this state, I will almost certainly take advantage of it. As an already-privileged person, a white, employed, able-bodied, US citizen, I will garner even more privileges for myself and my partner (like the right to inherit her fleece collection without paying taxes). I don't get to dismiss the experience of someone who tells me that they feel that their racial identity has been problematically co-opted by the marriage debate, or someone who feels that marriage legislation is taking energy and funds away from causes more immediate to their needs, such as safe homes for queer youth, or immigration rights. Many of these people are ten times smarter and more engaged in social justice activism than I ever will be, and part of me understands why they didn't break out the champagne on Wednesday. They were probably busy facilitating a peer intervention for HIV-positive homeless drug users.
And yet. Marriage is a category that matters, and not just to the middle-class bourgaysie. Whatever we may think of it, whether you want to join it or queer it or abolish it, the reality of our current world is that "marriage is how society says you are a family," as Senator Ed Murray put it the other night. Given that we don't yet live in a utopian, gender-fluid, all-kinship-respecting, radically anti-oppressive society, the opening up of same-sex partnerships to a state-sanctioned definition of family can surely only be seen as progress.
Ambivalence and complexity aside, it was quite simply amazing to witness the yes vote in the state senate that evening. And kind of humbling. When I hear people like Senator Swecker (R-Rochester) claim that heterosexual Christians are the real victims of discrimination, I get to roll my eyes and mumble some recommendations of nice places from which he might, if so inclined, take a jump. Marriage equality advocates in the senate – those advocating to expand the rights of, you know, me - don't get to do that. They have to listen, talk to, negotiate with, and perhaps even learn to respect this person who they know believes them to be sinners (hell, German Shepherds). That's how political change happens, and it's no thanks to any sophisticated deconstruction I might perform of marriage's complicity with patriarchy or capitalism. It's thanks to the work of politicians and activists, and their willingness to work with people I would rather pretend don't exist.
It's not about me, although I'm hugely looking forward to figuring out how to use both cats and dogs in our ceremony (yes, simultaneously). It's about the gay teenager in Senator Swecker's district who might finally feel a little more human dignity when he sees the local fags getting married. Even if said fags have beer cans thrown at them as they walk out of the municipal court. It's about the gay kids yet to be born, who, when Adam and Steve live on every block, will look back on the appalling statistics of suicide among gay youth the way we look at medieval torture devices. It's about the lesbian couple in a retirement home, who finally have equal legal recourse in mistreatment cases, and who, after decades in the closet and 5 years of domestic partnership, finally get to say "I do" in the way they assumed would always be withheld from them. Marriage matters to so many of my people. And other things matter, too, like they always did.
So: marry me, Virginia. And let's volunteer more.

Scottish-born Louisa Mackenzie is a college professor in Seattle.  She is happy to be marrying into a decent fleece collection.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Question of the Week

If you plan to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, will it be for the football, the ads or Madonna?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ah, Seattle

Babylonia Aivaz recently got married--to a 107-year-old abandoned warehouse.  The Occupy Seattle protester staged the event to call attention to gentrification.  Since Aivaz is female, and so is the building--I've no idea how the Occupy folks ascertained that--this was a gay wedding.  Alas, the union will be a short one, as the warehouse is due to be demolished by mid-February.  Aivaz will have to struggle on as a widow.

The Washington State Senate votes this evening on same-sex marriage.  While Aivaz married herself up to bricks and mortar on Jan. 29 to make a point about community space, I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of the senators cites the nuptials as an example of what granting gay marriage can lead to.  If Washington legalizes same-sex marriage, soon everybody will want to marry the Space Needle.