Category Archives: GLBT Rights

Gay marriage, social justice, and losing chains

Homosexuality Part III

I am a straight white man, so my view of discrimination is only what I can observe or read about. The closest that I have come to experiencing discrimination was in my “Hippie” years, when my long hair prompted an increase in attention from the local gendarmerie.

Perhaps it is because of that, or maybe in spite of that, I have little understanding of the thought process that leads to discrimination. I don’t think that I am in the minority, yet I see anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments regularly passed by seventy percent margins.

Truthfully, I do not understand that level of bigotry in a country that makes a claim of being “a beacon of freedom in the world.” Perhaps most hypocritical to me is DADT.

“You can fight and perhaps die for our freedom but you just sure as Hell can’t have any of it for yourself?”

It has been often said that discrimination against gays is the last acceptable form of bigotry. That is pretty close to the truth. Anti-gay rights people and politicians have a host of excuses for their bigotry that they can hide behind.

“The Bible says being gay is an abomination!”

“I am not anti-gay, I am just for traditional marriage!”

“Gay sex is so disgusting!”

Well, gay sex may be disgusting to you, but it is not to those that practice it, and, by the way no one asked you to join in. The Bible, Leviticus in particular, makes a lot of rules that are not regularly followed. When was the last time you heard about someone being stoned to death for working on the Sabbath? When is the last time you read about a man selling his daughter into slavery?

Leviticus is the often quoted passage for being anti-gay rights, but choosing that verse and ignoring the others is strictly hypocritical. So is quoting  Corinthians, written by the so-called St. Paul, who many biblical historians think was gay himself.

Using the Bible to justify discrimination is a direct contradiction of the words of Jesus who said:

Love your neighbor as you love yourself

Does that not mean, also, extending to your neighbor the same rights that you too enjoy?

Ironic, that a 33 year old never married man, that traveled the country with twelve also single males and a female prostitute, would most likely be considered by today’s Christians to be gay.

Hypocrites, one and all.

Thoughts?

William Stephenson Clark

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Homosexuality Part II

Mention “Gay Rights” in virtually any group of people and be prepared for a “spirited” debate. In those exchanges, I am regularly “accused” of being gay since “you must be gay to support those perverts.”

Well, I’m not gay, but I know plenty of folks that are and I want them to have the same rights that I do.

The laws regarding homosexual behavior are as varied as could possibly be. Even within the United States, sodomy was illegal until very recently, 2003, and even then it was a 6-3 vote by the Supreme Court. In 1986, the Court upheld the constitutionality of sodomy laws.

Homosexual acts are still punishable by prison sentences and even the Death Penalty in some countries. What is truly bizarre is the number of countries where male homosexual acts are illegal, but female homosexual acts are not.

The strangest of all is the law in Guyana where male homosexuality is punishable by life in prison, but female homosexuality is legal.

Go figure. They must have watched “The Hunger” one too many times.

Despite a lot of efforts, Gay Rights are still few and far between. The “Defense of Marriage Act” allows states to refuse to recognize marriages that are legal in neighboring states.  The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy still allows otherwise patriotic and valuable soldiers to be discharged for being gay.

Even normally liberal leaning California recently voted for a constitutional ban on Gay Marriage. The Texas Republican Party 2010 platform calls for the “criminalization” of Gay Marriage and a return to the sodomy laws that were overturned by the Supreme Court. Until 2006, there was an effort in the Senate to establish a United States constitutional ban on Gay Marriage.

The thread photo captures the irrational fear of homosexuality that marks much of the anti-gay debate. If what James and Aaron do in their bedroom is a threat to national security, then our national security system is sorely lacking.

There is no doubt that the battle for equality for gays and lesbians is an uphill struggle. Changes in attitudes and biases don’t come easily.

Thoughts?

(Part III tomorrow.)


William Stephenson Clark

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Homosexuality Part I

(In the interest of full disclosure, your not so humble columnist is a heterosexual man and therefore is less than qualified to write on this subject, but I am the only one here, so somebody has to do it.)

In researching for these columns, I came across a staggering array of statistics, many at odds with one another. In just merely looking for a base number of the percentage of homosexuals within the population, I found a range of two percent to six percent, with claims that from twenty to forty-five percent of people have had homosexual experiences. Recent polling in the United States (2004 and 2008) indicates a gay population of about four percent.

It is no wonder that the subject has so many varying points of view if researchers cannot even agree on how many people are actually homosexual.

Numbers aside, homosexuality has had a varied history, as well. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a disorder. In Ancient Rome, however, all the emperors, save one, took male lovers.  In some societies, male relationships with adolescent youths were encouraged and even celebrated. Artwork, throughout history, depicts both gays and lesbians in a positive light. Even in the Middle East, Persians had “wine boys” serve them in the taverns of the day.

So, how is a homosexual “born?”

Well, even that question is debated among professionals.

While the general consensus among most is that homosexuals are “born that way,” the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2004 stated:

“Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.”

Interesting. What “environmental influences” would cause someone to “choose” or “become” gay?

(Since I am trying to treat a serious subject with respect, I will refrain from any jokes about Tele Tubbies, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or Bert and Ernie.)

The Religious Right and even some moderates and liberals claim that homosexuality is a choice. There are varying reasons behind their claims, but in my view, those claims are just a feeble attempt at justifying that last acceptable form of bigotry.

Thoughts?


(Part II of III tomorrow.)



William Stephenson Clark

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Argentina Passes Gay Marriage

Same-sex civil unions are also legal in Uruguay and some states in Brazil and Mexico, while gay marriage is legal in Mexico City.

In the United States, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa allow same-sex marriage, as does Washington, D.C.

How do you say “hooray” in Spanish? Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. The vote took place last Thursday in the Argentinean senate at 4 a.m. after 16 hours, with 33 senators voting for, 27 against, and three abstaining. The Roman Catholic Church fought the measure tooth and nail, organizing a 60,000 person march on Congress. The legislation will also give gay couples all the same rights enjoyed by straight couples, including adoption and inheritance.

Read more here.

fnord

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The Progression of a Society

Of late, there has been a great deal of talk about the intent of the Founding Fathers of our country, particularly as it relates to the Constitution. To some, the Fathers were infallible and divinely inspired.

While I have great admiration and am grateful that those Patriots brought to birth our nation, I do not share in the deification of the Founding Fathers. When this nation was born, women were still second class citizens and non-whites weren’t even citizens at all. Slavery and the genocide of the Native Americans were the law of the land. All men were not created equal.

The progression of a society is a slow process and sometimes that progression is accompanied by violence and even war.  Some of the progress is prompted by court decision, other by courageous and principled legislative activity and more yet by seminal changes in attitudes within society.

Sometimes, the leadership that is required to facilitate progress is not recognized as such at the time. Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., but in the Sixties, he was vilified by a good portion of society. The FBI had an extensive file on him and many were convinced that he was a communist. MLK did not change – society’s attitude towards him changed.

Most take for granted the progression of society wrought by the Civil Rights Movement, but that progression came with a horrible price tag and virtually split the country in half once again.

It is said that opposition to Gay Rights is the last “acceptable” form of bigotry.  I feel for those that are hurt by the lack of progress towards equality for our gay brothers and sisters, but I also remember that it was just a half century ago that racial discrimination was rampant.

That is scant consolation for those damaged by sexual orientation discrimination, but with time comes progress and time is greatly compressed in this age of high speed communication. I am not preaching patience, I am preaching hope.

The day will come when, truly, all men and women are created equal.

William Stephenson Clark

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Talking about whether we should be talking about Kagan’s sexual orientation

The suggestion that someone is gay is usually taken as a direct accusation of homosexuality. Only being gay is not automatically a disqualification for office anymore. Indeed, many places have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there are an increasing number of gay and lesbian officeholders at all levels of elected government. So why do we still think it’s bad to call someone a lesbian?  Linda Hirshman, who admits to knowing nothing about the sexual orientation of Kagan, wraps up her interesting op-ed piece by saying:

Finally, and here’s a real dirty little secret, President Obama appointing an openly gay candidate for the Supreme Court would be political genius. Think about the prospect of watching the married Senator Ensign—who is under investigation for allegedly seeking lobbying work for the husband of his mistress—arguing that the high court nominee is “sinful” or “lacking in personal morality,” as the Focus on the Family suggests. The polls are clear: Regardless of their views on same sex marriage, most Americans do not think gays and lesbians should be discriminated against, and the numbers for gays on all issues are sky high among young voters. The Republicans don’t want to be caught in a Pat Buchanan-style culture war just as the mid-term elections loom, just like enough of them wanted to avoid the anti-Hispanic trap to confirm Justice Sotomayor. It’s a no-lose nomination.

There is nothing wrong with being gay (or lesbian). What hurts is the assumption that it hurts.

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Penn Puts Gay Box on Application

The University of Pennsylvania last week became the first school to announce that it will provide a spot on its application for students to indicate their sexual orientation. Is this a good idea? There seem to be some obvious objections—for example, hyper-competitive students will simply lie about their sexual orientations if they think it will give them an edge. But Gabriel Arana raises some more interesting points at the American Prospect: “Students who are out in high school live in communities that are more tolerant. Statistically, these communities are more educated, less religious, wealthier, and whiter. Having grown up in a conservative, largely Hispanic community on the U.S.-Mexico border, I would not have felt comfortable identifying as gay on college applications. So if the intention is to recruit gay students, the effect will be felt only by the subset of gay applicants who, at 18, feel comfortable identifying as such. It really becomes a proxy for other demographic attributes that on the whole are largely indicative of privilege.” Furthermore, Arana points out that elite schools like Penn already have large and active LGBT communities—in general, they don’t face the same problems in attracting gay students than they do with students of racial minorities.

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