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Archive for April, 2009

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – from gays.com

April 20, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

So, a user-generated video – surely our community can come up with some fabUloUs ideas.  According to gays.com:

Check it out: http://gays.com/idaho

The Idaho Challenge is a community project by Gays.com to produce a user-generated video to be released 17 May 2009, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). While 67 countries have signed the new United Nations statement to decriminalise homosexuality worldwide, anti-gay discrimination remains a reality in many parts of the world. This year, with your help, we want to create a video that sends out the message that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are just like everyone else. We come from all over the world and we come in all shapes and sizes and colours. And we want to send this message to the people of the world in every language that’s out there!

Go Gays! To contribute, follow these instructions from gays.com/idaho

How can I contribute?

Just get in front of a video camera, smile and say:

‘Hi, my name is … I come from … And I’m so proud to be gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender!’

Upload your video OR email it to us at idaho@gays.com

Spread the word and get your friends to take part!

Now… to come up with jaysays.com’s contribution…

Side Note:  Thank you to all who have shown such wonderful support over the last week as we laid our dear friend Crystal Marie Quiroz to rest.  Your kind wishes have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

The Origins of Love

April 14, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

A day at the mall

A day at the mall

When I was 15 years old, I met a girl who changed my life forever.  Her name was Crystal  [center in photo].  I was smitten by her beauty in spite of my homosexuality, and we became “girlfriend” and “boyfriend.”

The romance lasted a week because, as she would put it, “You’re more like a brother to me.”  I put it differently, “I don’t like girls.”

The next 17 years were filled with adventures, including long road trips throughout Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.  We changed our names on our road trips and became Gustoff and Gaston – explorers and slayers of alligators (usually fried into little bites before we slayed them).  We shared audio books and stories of boys, jacuzzi tubs and shooting stars.  We laughed ourselves into uncontrollable fits and often nearly got our asses whooped by those who didn’t understand us.

One day, while in El Paso, Texas, we were standing in line at the store.  She saw a young man who had dyed his hair black and blonde, semi-skunk like.  She says, very loudly, but not where the young man could hear her, I hate when people dye their hair like that.”

Regrettably, a young woman in line in front of us had even more tragic hair.  The color of orange that does not exist in nature and usually results when someone of Hispanic decent attempts to peroxide themselves.  The woman, with “butt-hole lips” (the term we use for brown lipstick with black eyeliner used as lip liner) turned and says while popping her head, “You talking to me!”

Crystal starts laughing very hard and says, “Oh no, not you, that other guy. I don’t look up!”  This was a true statement.  Most of Cyrstal’s time was spent staring at people’s asses – a result of her wheelchair.  Looking up was something very difficult for her, reserved to the rare occasions of necessity.

At this point, Ms. Ese [Ms. Thang] says, “I started to say, at least say it where I can’t hear you.”

These sorts of adventures were common place with Crystal.  She always spoke what was on her mind and never worried about getting us in arguments with random strangers by accidentally offending someone she wasn’t even talking about.  Our memories are many, our love strong and our hearts forever bound together.

At 11:01 p.m. U.S.A. Central on April 13, 2009 at the age of 33 years old, after the most valiant struggle to survive ever witnessed, Crystal Marie Quiroz, beloved friend, wife, aunt, sister and daughter, left this Earth.  She was surrounded by friends and family until the very end.  She will be missed.

jaysays.com will be sharing stories of Crystal to celebrate her life and love and I encourage those that have known her to share their own stories.

Thank you Lupe for your post: Crystal

A Family of Misfits: From Christophersays.

From Mindlgrrl’s Little Backyard – Too Little Too Late.

From our dearest MJ: She’s Gone.

From Dre-Dre: Crystal

Student Responds to the Laramie Project’s Burial in Oklahoma

April 11, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Youth Issues

News reports and blog commentary over the firing of Debra Taylor, an Ethics and Street Law teacher at Grandfield High School in Oklahoma, have been varied.  According to initial reports, Ms. Taylor was asked to resign after attempting to teach the play, “The Laramie Project,” to her senior class.   The reason initially provided was that the district could not allow the gay-related play to continue because of its homosexual tones.  However, in an interview District Superintendent, Ed Turlington, claimed that the reason the district asked the play to be removed from her lesson plan was because it contained vulgar language.  But what was the real reason?

Because Ms. Taylor and Mr. Turlington obviously have an economic or social interest in their stories, jaysays.com located one of Ms. Taylor’s students and requested his side of the story.  According to Mike (name changed to protect the innocent), a 17 year old senior at Grandfield High School, Ms. Taylor had been teaching the play for about a month without incident.  In fact, prior to teaching the story, Ms. Taylor was required to obtain approval for the play, and approval was given.

However, another teacher in the school, Mrs. Charlene Turlington (wife of the Superintendent) had heard Ms. Taylor was teaching a “gay” play and reported this to her husband, the Superintendent.

It is here I must note the absence of a proper chain of command.  There is a principal, A.J. Mays, at the school, which would ordinarily be the person to report these issues to, however, nepotism often prevails and the Superintendent was informed of the gay play by his wife.

It was then that Ms. Taylor had to stand before her students and advise them that the play was being cancelled.  Many of the students were angered by the play’s cancellation, including Mike. According to Mike, Mrs. Taylor advised him that the play was being cancelled because of reports that Mike was being picked on for his involvement in a “gay” play; an allegation which Mike denies.

Although the play had been cancelled, the battle line was drawn.  Within a couple of days of the cancellation, Mrs. Turlington approached Mike to obtain a script of the play.  She used her authority to manipulate and threaten Mike and made claims that he owed her because she did not report him for a previous small infraction of the school rules.  Mrs. Turlington’s tactics were unethical at the least.

On Mrs. Taylor’s last day at the school, the Superintendent, Mr. Turlington, came to Mike’s class to discuss the cancellation of the play.  He asked the class if they have any questions related to the cancellation.  Mike asked why the play was cancelled and Mr. Turlington responded, “… because people in this community aren’t comfortable with that subject.”

Mike inquired further and asked, “About the gay subject?”

The answer was a far cry from Mr. Turlington’s reports to main stream media.  He confirmed the play was cancelled because of the gay subject matter by answering the question, “Yes.”

Thus, again we see fear and hatred of gays running our school system and society; however, when people inquire, lies are told to protect those propagating the hatred from the deserved disciplinary actions.

According to Mike, none of Ms. Taylor’s students he had spoken with had any problem with doing the play and all of them were unhappy about the play’s cancellation.

Mrs. Taylor held a mock funeral for the play upon its cancellation.  She took the students outside and they each wrote a note, tied the note to a balloon and released the balloons.  Mike’s note read, in part:

Mr. Turlington is a homophobe.

There is a happy note to this story.  The result of the cancellation of the play has taught Mike, as he says, “more about ethics than I can dream of.”  Of course, he learned “ethics” from the lack of ethics shown by Mr. and Mrs. Turlington, not from the play or from Mrs. Taylor.  He also states he has received a ton of support and learned a valuable life lesson, “Don’t hate or discriminate anyone because they are black, white, tall, short, fat, skinny, disabled, gay or straight.  You should be an advocate for love, show compassion for those that are different and be tolerant of all in school and in life.”

In my communications with Mike, he ended his emails with this note, “Grandfield High School – Where Laramie can never be.”

To this, jaysays: Please continue to attempt to revoke students of their rights to learn about all aspects of the world.  In doing so, you are teaching them the importance of learning from all different view points.  Excellent job Mr. Turlington.  I commend you on showing your students how NOT to be bigots and how hurtful bigotry and discrimination can be.

Inquiries to the Superintendent were not answered.

Special thanks to MJ for her invaluable assistance, comments and guidance.

Heaven Hath No Rage Like Love Turned Hatred

April 08, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Religion

In “their” latest video, anti-gay folks are declaring that they are coming together in love to protect marriage… wait, no. That doesn’t do it justice, here’s the line verbatim:

A rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage.

And, we can’t go on without the video:

As a wiser man than I once wrote, “Heaven hath no rage like love turned hatred.” Really, it’s that simple. You [anti-gay folk] are caught in a “storm” of your own creation. For centuries you have bound persons of every race, creed, color and national origin by your words of hatred in the guise of “god’s love.” Problem is, most people don’t like that “god” because… Satan is a deceiver.

That’s right. It has become so obvious that the “god” you are referring to is a hateful and spiteful god who thinks some are better than others rather than ALL are his children that Satan’s cover is blown. We now see that you are actually minions of Satan, posing as the righteous, and WE are afraid. We are afraid because, historically, you have invaded countries, enslaved their people, taken their children, raped their wives and destroyed their lands – in the name of your “god.”

Yep, we are onto you secret Satanists…

Mmph!!! In Your Face La Face!!!

I Do.

April 07, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

“I Do.” Who knew that two words consisting of three characters could result in such intense debate?  Who knew that those two words would result in countless tears, not of joy, but of sorrow?

Today, with the Vermont legislature voting 100 for and 49 against same-gender marriage, I’m experiencing tears of joy over the possibility that, in my lifetime, I may get to say those words and have the country I have lived in, paid taxes in and supported (even when it was hard to support it) say back, “Yes, you do.”

As more states begin recognizing same-sex marriages in the same manner our heterosexual countrymen have their marriages recognized, the federal government will experience more and more pressure to take action.  Particularly as federal benefits are denied to persons who are married in their resident state.

It doesn’t take much to understand why marriage equality is likely the most important issue facing same-gender couples today, but first, a little history of jaysays if I may (which I may):

Christopher and I will celebrate 12 years of blissful togetherness this year. At roughly the half-way mark, my brother, Jack, called me and asked if I would like to go shopping with him.  I eagerly decided to go and we headed off to the local mall where I over-indulged myself in Macy’s madness.  It was August, the birth month of both Jack and Christopher.  Christopher’s birthday was a few days away and Jack’s had just passed.  Upon arriving home from shopping, Jack and his wife, Debbie, escorted me up the elevator to our apartment.  I opened the door and there stood Christopher surrounded by red balloons.  One white balloon floated near-by.

That is the moment of my utter confusion.  Why are we having a party for Jack’s birthday without me knowing about it?  As it turns out, Canada had just approved “gay marriage” and Christopher was ready to propose.  As I looked around the rest of the room, I noted the gathering of my friends and family, all smiling and eagerly awaiting my answer as Christopher untied the ring from the white balloon and Etta James “At Last” played quietly in the background.  As Christopher read from a news article about Canada’s passage of gay marriage rights, I lost all focus.  I answered his proposal with an enthusiastic, “yes.”

Something happened thereafter.  The romantic moment that it was, is now something entirely different for me.  It is a quest, a movement, a purpose.  Rather than go to Canada and get “legally” wed, Christopher and I (mostly me actually) decided against a foreign wedding that would not be recognized by our home country or our home state.

Non-recognized marriage, I concluded, would serve no purpose other than a symbolic gesture.  We could have our “white wedding” but would never be allowed to write “spouse” next to each other’s names on loan forms, insurance policies, titles, or other legally enforceable documents.  Our state and our country gives permission to its citizens to think less of our love, to deny us fundamental legal protections and rights afforded our heterosexual counterparts; protections  and rights many take for granted.

Thus, the crux of why marriage rights are so important.  When marriage between two people of the same gender is recognized by the government we are part of, the government tells all of its citizens, “Believe what you will, but you are no better than anyone else.  We are the same.”  In doing so, many of the problems LGBT people face will start to fade over time, albeit, they may never fully cure.

Arguments often express that by allowing “gay marriage” the government will violate the rights of those that oppose it.  I have tried to see how such would invalidate the countless heterosexual marriages, divorces or fatherless children, but I fail.  Regardless of whether gays can be married, the soci0-economic issues revolving around the family unit will remain unchanged – except for one thing, our government will recognize my family as a family too.

And now I find my mind wandering in so many directions.  Great joy, inspiration and hope for the victories in Vermont, Iowa and Washington, DC these past couple of weeks (two of which were today!) constantly reminding me of the losses in California, Arkansas, Florida and other battle states.  So while I bask in the joy of victory, I also recognize the long battles yet to come, and I am armored today and will be tomorrow.

I Owe Iowa! YES! to Same-Sex Marraige.

April 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling, issued at 8:30 a.m. this morning affirmed the lower court decision which held that:

[The Iowa] state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman unconstitutional.

Thus, that which should be obvious, is confirmed with a resounding “YES!” to same-sex marriage.  In the ruling, the Supreme Court (which earned the grand title) held:

A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution.

Now, this blogger must go celebrate the victory with a cleansing weeping session.  To read the full decision, please click here.

Iowa Supreme Court to Rule on Gay Marriage Ban

April 02, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

The Iowa Supreme Court has advised that it will release its ruling on the “gay-marriage” ban this Friday, April 3, 2009.  Oral Arguments were presented to the court in December.  The case, is Varnum v. Brien and will be released on the Iowa Supreme Court website by 8:30 a.m.

The lower court previously ruled that same-sex marriage is “gender” based and subject to an intermediate scrutiny analysis and that the statute banning same-gender marriage was unconstitutional under both Due Process and Equal Protection claims.  Defendants in the case appealed the decision stating that the Court erred in its ruling on these issues and in refusing to admit the defendant’s expert witnesses as well as entering summary judgment for the plaintiffs.

This makes me think of the linguistic battle as well as a civil rights battle.  The question of gender is an apt debate when referring to “same-gender” marriage; however, a change in nomenclature, such as “gay marriage” can effectually change the argument for a gender discrimination claim to a “protected class” issue – either way, this blogger hopes Lady Justice is feeling a bit gay tomorrow when the decision is released.

For more information or to read the briefs, replies and the trial court ruling filed in the suit, please visit the Supreme Court of Iowa’s website.