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Archive for September, 2009

My Cousin, My Hero: Why Coming Out Matters.

September 19, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Religion

shirleyBy the time I was 15 years old, I had already had my first boyfriend, kind of.  I had begun to accept that I was “gay,” but I had also experienced the sting of being a “fag.”  Society, it seemed, disapproved.  The disapproval was so great that I’d often be chased home by groups of boys on bicycles throwing rocks at me and calling me “fag.”

I remember walking home from school one day at 12 years old and coming across the one person in that small Arkansas town I thought I could call friend.  She was interracial; and like me, she was the “only one in the village.”  She was well accepted in a town that was overwhelmingly white and entirely protestant.  As her story was told to me, her mother had been raped by a black man, and decided, rather than succumb to the sin of baby murder, to have the child; this interracial child.  Because her mother wasn’t willing, the town’s people felt it was “o.k.” to allow a “negro” there.

One day, I walked up to her smiling and laughing about a recent experience in the classroom, she looked at me and screamed, “Get away from me, you faggot.”  That was society’s doing.  She was taught that I was worthless.  I was rejected even by those that were rejected.

I often think of that every time I hear someone say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  At 12 years old, I was a virgin, had never kissed another boy and certainly wasn’t ready to do so.  I had not sinned, but I was hated.

Go forward again to 15 after I’d escaped back to the “big city” of San Antonio, Texas and you’d find me sitting in my room talking on the phone with various girlfriends.  We’d usually be on a three-way call and sometimes four or five people would be on conference together using a pre-determined three-way calling chain.  I’d call Jen, who would call Jeremy, who would call Cathy and so forth and so on.  What the girls on the call didn’t know is that sometimes Jeremy and I would talk without them on the line.  We’d laugh and carry on, flirting mercilessly with one another.

My first “gay” kiss was with Jeremy.  He was 2 years my senior and so much wiser.  The result was that Jeremy was ready to come out, and decided to take me with him – unbeknownst to me.

Imagine my surprise the next morning at school when I found that my carefully planned disguise/girlfriend, Emily, was now fully aware that I had a “boyfriend.”  Imagine my horror to discover that many of my friends had been taught the same way as those in the small town of Arkansas and I was again, “fag.”  I cut all ties with Jeremy and hid myself away until finally, my mother advised we were moving.  God was smiling down to save me and back to the closet I went, safe from the torment.

I had a bit of a social shut down.  At my new school, I dared not attempt to make friends, they would find out.  Society hated me.  Society was my enemy.

I had been raised around a highly evangelical family.  God was invoked for nearly every situation.  Whatever it was, it was in his hands. But still, I hadn’t been told anything like, “being gay is a sin.”  I was wholly (or holy) unaware that God hated me as well.  I found solace in God and heaven and knew I could endure the torment some day, if I just had enough faith in God.  I was almost ready to tell the world again; to come out.  With Jesus as my companion, I would prevail.

Then I turned on the T.V. one day to see a televangelist smiling down his nose at me.  His words spoken, then flashed onto the screen, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”  As the Bible reference appeared, I went running to my room, devastated. I read the words in Leviticus 18:22 from the perspective of a 15 year old boy whose only true friend was Jesus.  My friend, it seemed, had betrayed me.  There was no one left to love me because I was gay.

I could go on about the countless nights of tear-stained pillows, the chronic depression and suicidal thoughts carefully hidden away least someone find out why I was so depressed.  I could tell you about my prayers where I begged God/Jesus to let me die in my sleep.  I dared not commit the sin of taking my own life or live the sin of being a gay man, but that is not the point.

God, the supreme power, the one that we all are told we can turn to when life brings us down, was off-limits to me.  Society rejected me and God rejected me.  I was out of options — or so I had been taught.

Then I went to visit my extended family.  My cousin was a few years older than me and we’d always been fairly close growing up.  We went running around the town without a mission or purpose with her girlfriend.  I knew she was a lesbian thanks to rumors from the family, but she’d never told me herself.  That night she did tell me and I suddenly wasn’t alone.

That’s another one of the many reasons why Harvey Milk was right.  We have to come out.  We have to tell people.  We have to let kids that are in that dark place know that they aren’t alone, that not everyone hates them, that God has not abandoned them and that we will not abandon them.  We have to keep them safe.

Thank you, Shirley, for unwittingly saving my life.

Our “Fierce Advocate,” Obama, Fights Against Gay Rights — Again

September 18, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

ObamaLast month, a U.S. District Judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer seeking to find the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) unconstitutional.  That dismissal was a logistics issue, not a dismissal because the allegations against DOMA were unfounded.  In the Smelt case, the Judge found that the suit “should have” been filed in federal court, not state court.

But now we have a similar suit filed in Massachusetts – this one in Federal court.  Our self-proclaimed “fierce advocate” has requested that the Justice dismiss this case too!

In court documents filed Friday, the Justice Department makes it clear the Obama administration thinks the law is discriminatory and should be repealed. But the department said it was defending the statute because the law is “constitutionally permissible.” [via Obama administration asks Boston court to dismiss challenge to federal Defense of Marriage law — latimes.com.]

So, although same-sex couples have no right to civil marriage in 44 of the 50 U.S. states, and in spite of the fact that there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage (except for those meeting the loop-hole requirements for transgender persons), it seems same-sex couples also have no way of properly challenging an admittedly unconstitutional law in court.

What’s a gay to do?

Unite and fight.  Not in the Teabagger “bring out your guns and threaten civil war” sort of way, but we must state loudly and in a unified voice that we are not going to take it any more.

If you don’t know what to do, start by joining me and thousands of others at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C.  There will be many workshops and information sessions conducted on October 10th, followed by the march itself on October 11th at noon.  This is not just a march, this is a movement – this is our fight.

Closet Talk: David’s Story – Being Gay and Staying Mormon.

September 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkDavid is a 20 year old blogger and vlogger who has decided not to flee the Mormon church, but instead work to inspire change within his faith. I’ve used a lot of analogies to describe David, such as “David and Goliath” or a “Rosa Parks” figure refusing to give up his seat on the metaphoric bus. But when you pull away all the grandeur that I’ve bestowed upon him, you’re still left with a remarkable young man. In this episode, we discussed David’s life growing up in the Mormon church, his coming out while a member of the Mormon church and his quest to remain in the Mormon church.

We also had a chance to discuss how the attacks by LGBT people on the Mormon church have affected him and his opinions on those attacks.  In an interesting irony illustrating the dichotomy of Homo/Mormonism, David tells us about a gay Mormon friend, who after witnessing the anger and hostility directed toward the Mormon faith, decided to become “ex-gay.”  It was a sad reminder that we forget our community knows no boundaries.

The show is a must hear for everyone, especially those struggling with sexual orientation and faith.  Just click play, below:

Gay & Lesbian Mormons to Hold Conference in Salt Lake City: Affirmation Conference 2009

September 16, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Community Outreach, Featured, Religion

affirmation“The View From Here” conference, hosted by Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons, is being held September 18 – 20, 2009 in Salt Lake City.  That’s this weekend for my Utah friends that haven’t registered.

Some of the speakers and the lineup at the conference include:

According to their website:

Thirty years ago, the four chapters of Affirmation: Gay Mormons United, Matt Price’s vision brought to reality two years earlier, met to form a new organization, international in scope, to be called Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. Matt’s vision is clearly visible in the view from here, as is that of the Father of Affirmation, Paul Mortensen. Affirmation Conference 2009.

Pre-registration has expired, so to register as a walk-in, please email david@affirmation2009.com to let them know you’re coming.  Registration fees are modest considering the wealth of information available.

If you’ve ever doubted the need for faith reconciliation, even within the LDS Church, I hope you will join me tonight on Closet Talk when I speak with David Baker, a gay man who has decided to stay in the Mormon faith.

Lessons I Learned from a GLBT Town Hall Meeting

September 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Headline, Thought of the Gay

biphobiaTonight I sat in a room with roughly 30 other members of my local LGBT and allied community listening as Joseph Garrett moderated the conversation, asking one question, “What would you like from a Community Center?”  The list started fairly humbly with suggestions such as a visitors center, or a place for groups to meet.  But as the list grew, so did the dreams of a community that has so often been forgotten.  Eventually we had dreamed up a community center with after school programs, a nursing home for seniors, meeting space, offices for LGBT organizations, a place for LGBT kids to live should they find themselves on the street and a LGBT history museum.

The dreams flowed freely.  We dared ourselves to hope.

I’ve spent the past couple of hours contemplating this and still don’t have all the answers, but something did happen tonight at that meeting – we got to speak for ourselves.

That’s something I haven’t gotten to do much of in my local community.  Each time I’ve tried to get involved with a project, my emails go unanswered, my thoughts unheard, my abilities unused, my resources utterly untapped and my phone calls rarely returned (except by a sweet lady named Yvonne Jonas, the PFLAG mom).  Sure, I’ve dropped money in the donation boxes, attended fundraisers and all that stuff that makes us feel like I’ve done something to better “our community,” but be involved; have a voice?  That was something never allowed and I decided that there was no “community” in San Antonio, a conclusion I may come to regret – and a conclusion that biased me a bit about attending the meeting tonight.

I have learned my lesson, I think.  I’ve learned that, if I’m feeling excluded, I’m not working hard enough to include myself.  I’ve learned that for my voice to be heard in my local community, I must be willing to let people hear it as I have been through this blog, Closet Talk, Join the Impact and many LGBT forums, blogs and groups.

I hope you will all join me in not excluding yourself.

Hate Crimes Go Under Punished and Result in More Crime.

September 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Hate Crime - RacismYou may remember the 2006 convictions of Pete Billiot and Dwayne Adam Racine for the attack of a black offshore worker, but it’s likely you don’t.  The story received some national media coverage, but as is the case with most hate crimes, it wasn’t enough.  We can all grimace when someone murders another person regardless of the motivation, but when the motivation is bias or prejudice because of the persons race, creed, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, it’s particularly painful, particularly to members of that “suspect class.” Lots of thoughts race through the minds of those that could have been attacked and/or murder because of the same violent biases.

There have been many cases wherein those that commit such crimes get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  In fact, a recent case of murder resulted in a full acquittal of the charge against the admitted murderer simply because he was motivated to kill a queer man after the man “hit on him.”

In the present case of Billiot and Racine; however, there may be some form of justice yet – albeit not for the proper crime.  It was reported yesterday that Billiot and Racine, who received very little jail time for their crime which outraged civil rights leaders, were arrested again.  This time for possession of marijuana with intention of distribution.

The two men were passengers in a car being driven by 17-year old, Samantha Scott.  Officers stopped the vehicle due to an expired inspection sticker, and upon obtaining consent, searched the vehicle and found a “crack pipe” and 52 grams of marijuana.  Samantha then reported to the officers that they were going to try to sell the drugs.  This is where “insert thud noise” would ordinarily be appropriate; however, no one ever said those that keep company with racists, or racists themselves were very “smart.”

Civil rights leaders in Louisiana had been planning a protest against the lenient sentencing of Racine and Billiot for today.

In another breaking case, a suburban New York teenager with a tendency to wear clothing marked with symbols such as swastikas and Ku Klux Klan logos, recently attacked another non-white. His last attack was in April; however, in the more recent attack, apparently motivated by bias/prejudice, a Hispanic man was shot with a BB gun and suffered minor injuries.  The teen was out on bail awaiting trial for the precious hate crime charge.

Race was the motivating factor in over half (51%) of all hate crimes committed in 2007, followed by religion (18%), then sexual orientation/gender identity (17%).  Yet, we are still waiting for Obama to sign Federal Hate Crimes Legislation… when will we learn?

A Straight Person’s Perspective: The National Equality March and the LGBT Movement.

September 14, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Commentary, Featured

NEmThe National Equality March is coming soon. It’s just around the corner, October 10-11th. Thousands of people will gather together from all over the United States and many others will wish that they could attend. This coming together reflects a crystallizing moment in the LGBT movement for equal rights. The stars aligning if you will.

As a straight person who decided to start blogging about gay rights after Prop 8, I have gone through my own journey. While I had a few close friends who were gay, and I always felt quite welcome in gay social circles,  I really knew very little about gay activism. And I really did not know that many people who were gay, even though I have had gay friends for over thirty years.

In the last year I have taken trips to visit LGBT people that I met through the Internet and I know I have found some friends for life. Like Jay and Christopher, here on jaysays.com. Through Blogging, Join The Impact, Twitter, Facebook, my workplace and my church, I have truly lost count of the number of LGBT people that I have met.

Yet, I’m still an outsider. Always will be. And maybe that gives me an opportunity to say something.

It’s true. The only thing gay people have in common is that they are gay. One of the most surprising things for me is the diversity of opinions about LGBT topics, whether it is legal rights, gay culture or the hundreds of other facets of gay life. Does that sound like something a straight person would say? It is. I’m amused by the diversity and sometimes I want to whisper “you aren’t any different than the broad diversity within the straight community”.

Now here’s where I’m going to chime in with my two cents. Name a gay rights topic and you’ll get different opinions. Some folks support the National Equality March, some don’t. Some look at groups like HRC as slow, weak and using money for glamorous galas, others see them as the major force to be reckoned with. Some will accept the idea of civil unions, some won’t settle for anything less than the word marriage.

Do I know the right answers? Heck, even if I thought I did (which I don’t), I still feel like the onlooker who doesn’t get to vote. I’m not on the team, I’m a cheerleader.  Maybe being on the sidelines instead of the playing field has given me a different view. Do you know who is on your team? Look around. And I mean beyond the alphabet soup.

LGBTQAII people are

Young, Old, teens, Catholics, Jewish, Atheists, Black, Latino, Hispanic, Interracial, White, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Socialist, anarchists, capitalists, Wall Street brokers,  Teabaggers, female, male, intersexed, transgendered, Air Force pilots,  transsexual, introverts, artists, geeky, Mormons, scientists, doctors, Presbyterians, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, British, Dutch, Asian, Iranian, Canadian, Brazilian, Australian, Irish, New Zealanders, Icelanders, musicians, computer programmers, teachers, librarians, modest, humble, proud, arrogant, annoying, funny, empathetic, angry, aging hippies, PTA members, vegetarians, junk food junkies, couch potatoes, athletes, quilters, chefs, short order cooks, waiters, executives, travel agents, Navy seals, lawyers, Adam Lambert fans, car lovers, car haters, small town folk, big city folk, great dressers, could care less dressers, easily offended, un-offendable, loud, quiet, bookworms, movie fans, Marines Harry Potter fans, Shakespeare fans, opera fans, psychologists, nurses, dental hygienists, chemists, writers, journalists, movie stars, singers, dancers, and even hairdressers and florists. They are skeptical, hopeful, naysayers, cheerleaders, energetic, tired. They love chocolate, hate chocolate, drink coffee, hate coffee. They like to get up early, they like to sleep late. They love chick flicks, they hate chick flicks. They love scary movies, they hate scary movies. They love pickles, they hate tomatoes.

Your diversity is a strength. Each of you can reach out to someone who has something in common with you. But when it comes to fighting for rights, come together. So no matter what your differences, to win rights, it takes marching together. Imagine if every sign at the National March for Equality said something like “I’m a Mormon and I’m here with my Jewish friend”.  The reason military troops are successful is not because they fight for their country or their countries cause. They fight to save their best buddy who is in the foxhole next to them. No matter how different that buddy might be. (Ok, I know, DADT, it’s an analogy, ok?)

Why am I pointing this out? Again, I’m an outsider. So tell me if I am wrong. The LGBT movement, up until this march, has felt fractured. Hundreds of grassroots movements have sprung up and that is great. It shows tremendous energy and commitment. But this march. Cleve Jones. The memory of Harvey Milk. All are an inspiration, a moment in time about to happen. A National Movement of Voices can be heard.

When I heard Cleve Jones speak, someone asked him how to persuade others. He said “gently and respectfully”. I know that is not how some of you feel but hear me, or rather him, out. You don’t have to call another person names. Tell your story. Tell what this means to you. Cleve was emphatic that this is about legal and financial rights, not sex. Tell them about the rights that you are denied. If they bring up faith, tell them that their leaders are wrong. Become a real person to them. I’m sure each of you has formed a friendship with someone that you would have never predicted. Someone so unlike yourself, yet something clicked. It can happen. Maybe not with every person. But what if each of us reaches just a few?

But when it comes to fighting the opposition, when it comes to convincing legislators,  every voice must join together. When I was an itty-bitty hippie chick, it was called solidarity. Come out. Invite every straight person to come out and stand beside you. Invite a homophobe to coffee. That’s not a sign of weakness. I’m not suggesting compromising. I’m suggesting showing that each of you is a real person, worthy of the same rights, respect and acceptance as straight people.

Invite every LGBT group to connect and become a powerhouse. Your opposition has already done so.

If there’s one thing the anti-gay movement excels at, it’s gathering their followers under a few umbrellas. Yea, I know, they are sheep and you all are like herding cats. That might be true. But cats know how to demand what they want.  Sheep are no match for you.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Caster Semenya

September 12, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationCaster Semenya, a young female athlete from South Africa, is making headlines due to genetic and hormonal testing that was performed when she was suspected to be male. Setting aside for a moment that she was tested without her knowledge and that the result should not have been made public, setting aside that I wish she had not dropped out and that this is a heart breaking story,  I would like to take a moment to let you know that your high school biology teacher was wrong.

We were all taught that if you have two X chromosomes, XX, that you are a girl. And if you are an XY, you are a boy. For most of us, this is true.

For most.  Not all. The development of genitals in the womb is a complicated, multi-step process. Many genes are involved and if anyone of them is disrupted, then genitals will form improperly. Sometimes this leads to a mixture of ovaries and testes, a smaller penis, or what is known as sex reversal.

One out of every 3000 individuals born as XY will be a girl anatomically. 1 out of 20,000 individuals born as XX will be a boy anatomically. When you think about it, this isn’t that rare. 1 out of 3000 boys is the same as 1000 out of 3 million boys. There are 300 million people in the United States. So this means there are approximately 50,000 XY individuals who are girls.

The fact that these are so different is a clue to the simple beginning of the boy or girl pathway. All fetuses start as girls. The hormonal pathway for being a boy has to be turned on. Otherwise, voila, you will be a girl.

Interestingly enough, some causes of intersex led to the girls developing male characteristics when they hit puberty. Others may experience infertility or lack of menstruation.

Ok. Enough science. If you are interested in the science, I’ve put some links to good websites for more information.

There is great debate over whether or not being gay (and I do mean that inclusively, LGBTQI, etc.) is genetic. Recently the religious right tried to twist the words of the American Psychological Association when the APA revised their statement to say that the biological origins of being gay are still unknown and probably biologically complicated. The religious right promptly and proudly announced there is no gay gene.

Let’s think about this for a minute. The research on intersexed individuals has gone on for many years and is very well documented. This is, in part, because we can SEE the result – whether it is the appearance of external genitals or looking inside using techniques like ultrasound. We can also analyze DNA very accurately and determine not only if someone is XX or XY, we can also identify what gene mutations are the cause of being intersexed. The data is irrefutable and solid.

Where does this leave sexual orientation? If a gay man appears to have completely normal looking genitals, does this argue that being gay is a choice? I don’t think so. It takes sex hormones to develop genitals. Why couldn’t smaller changes in hormones lead to a change in sexual orientation?  We know so little about the brain and how it works. Just because we can’t “see” something physical that tells us someone is gay, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

We  know that many personality characteristics have a genetic basis or are due to changes in the brain. Depression is linked to low serotonin levels, introverts brains look different from extroverts brains when imaged, we know there are genetic and developmental influences for autism  and for our sense of personal space. We know that right brained people are left handed and tend to be more visual and artistic. We know that people who are risk takers have certain genetic traits; it runs in the Kennedy family. We know that people who can get by on six hours sleep have different genes that help them get by on less sleep (I want that gene). We haven’t completely unraveled the biology behind all of these traits.

Gender is not 100%. It’s been proven. So then doesn’t it make sense that sexual orientation isn’t 100%? It’s just still on the list of things yet to be learned through scientific research. Ask any person who is gay and they will tell you that they did not choose to be gay.  I’m willing to bet there is a biological link. A complex choreography of hormones and brain development that sometimes takes the road less traveled.

I hope that if more people learn about intersex conditions as a result of Caster Semenya’s story, that it will serve as an opportunity for acceptance and understanding. But really, do we need to have science to teach us to treat everyone with respect? If it helps, I’m all for it. Shouldn’t we be understanding and compassionate toward all humans without needing science to encourage that kind of attitude? (One would think that this might be the job of religion…..)

We are all human. All races, ethnicities, cultures, age, abled or disabled or differently abled, genius or average, rich or poor, male or female or in between, gay or straight, introvert or extrovert,  bisexual or transgendered. We’re all classified under Homo sapiens. When we finally “get” that, when we as humans understand there is only the human race, then our world will make progress. Imagine a world where every human is wanted, has a loving home, education, food, healthcare, opportunity, freedom and social acceptance. Think what we could accomplish. Think about how many problems would be gone.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

Wikipedia Intersexuality

Another great website is that of Dr. Veronica Drantz, a biologist who studies sexual development.   You’ll feel like you are in science class again as she even has videos to explain what happens.   Last, you can check out my science blog, LGBTLatestScience.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (September 3, 2009 – September 10, 2009)

September 12, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsGay Sailor Brutalized by Own Unit and Discharged in CA (September 3, 2009)

Former Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha was brutalized for more than two years by members of his own unit in Bahrain. He was returned to CA suffering from P.T.S.D. and was forced to admit to his sexual orientation – then was discharged under D.A.D.T. Others were also brutalized and the military is investigating.

Bill Recognizing Harvey Milk’s Birthday Passes CA Legislature (September 4, 2009)

Once again a bill to recognize Harvey Milk is waiting for the signature of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – and would recognize Harvey Milk on his birthday – May 22nd.  If signed – Harvey Milk would join the only three other days of recognition in the state.

LGBT Activist Runs For Mayor in Idaho Town (September 5, 2009)

Melissa Sue Robinson is an LGBT activist and transwoman running for mayor of Nampa. She was previously married for 17 years and her ex-wife now plays a major role in her election campaign. Some of those not so pleased that she is running include a person who started a fraudulent Twitter account in her name – which has since been closed.

Los Angeles Mourns Death of Albert L. Gordon –  Gay Rights Attorney (September 6, 2009)

Albert L. Gordon was married and had twin sons – both sons are/were Gay. Mr. Gordon became an attorney in his 40’s and fought for LGBT rights. His first wife and one of his sons died before him. He was known as the leading pro bono lawyer to L.A.’s Gay community.

Catholic Church in Maine Supporting Anti-Gay Marriage Referendum (September 6, 2009)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has requested that its parishes have a special second collection this coming weekend – with the money collected to go to Stand for Marriage Maine. Stand for Marriage Maine is leading the effort to repeal legal Same-Sex Marriage in Maine – the Catholic Church is exempt from federal taxes as a non-profit religious institution in spite of its political dealings.

Openly Gay Man Accepted for Training in Church of Scotland Ministry (September 8, 2009)

The Church of Scotland has selected to train a Gay man –  in a Civil Partnership – for ministry despite a ban. Church officials backed his candidacy after receiving advice from an internal body that supports would-be trainees. The ban was put in place after the appointment of The Rev Scott Rennie.

Lesbian From U.S. Army Fighting Deportation From Canada (September 8, 2009)

Former Pte. Bethany Smith – who changed her name to Skyler James – requested discharge then decided to leave the U.S. Army after harassment and death threats from within her unit. She was unable to report the threats because of D.A.D.T. and was outed by another soldier. Skyler James is now fully employed and living in Canada. but faces deportation.

Proposed Law to Repeal Ban on Healthy Gay and Bisexual Blood Donations (September 8, 2009)

There is new proposed legislation which would allow healthy Gay and Bisexual men to donate blood. The legislation was approved by the Assembly Tuesday and is called the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution – and it moves to the state Senate in January 2010.

Gordon Brown Honors Contributions of Alan Turing During WWII in UK (September 10, 2009)

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician and was most famous for his work in breaking German Enigma codes during WWII. In 1952 he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ (for being Gay) and sentenced – then took his own life just two years after that. Gordon Brown acknowledged that a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT Activists made it possible for Mr. Turing to be honored.

mjpngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.

Extremism and the 9/11 Terror Attacks – We Didn’t Learn.

September 11, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

World Trade Center Sept. 11 - Public DomainThat which we should have learned after religious extremists crashed planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania 8 years ago today, we didn’t.  We should have learned that religious extremism lends to acts of violence.  We should have learned that our opinions should not over power our ability to reason – but we haven’t.  People are still murdering or attacking each other in violent rages because of their opinions.

Our failure to learn this simple and obvious fact is echoed in the faces of those we torment, those we push aside, those who are marginalized and those who are killed.

  • A young boy angered that his classmate, Lawrence King, had a crush on him, walked into the classroom and pulled the trigger.  We didn’t learn.
  • Lateisha Green was sitting in a car with her brother when a man walked up and shot her because of her gender identity.  We didn’t learn.
  • A black man, Dedric Knight, had a flat tire and was waiting for help when three white men attacked him simply because of the color of his skin.  We didn’t learn.
  • About a month ago, a pro-life extremist murdered Dr. Tiller, a doctor who performed abortions.

Will we ever?

In perhaps what might be today’s most fear-mongering headline, CNS News sent subscribers this:

Support for Suicide Bombings and Bin Laden Still High Among Some Muslims
(CNSNews.com)
– A new survey gauging Muslim attitudes indicates that backing for suicide bombings against civilians, while generally down from earlier years, remains significant in some Islamic countries – challenging the assertion that Muslims supporting terrorism constitute a “tiny minority.”

After reading the article, it seems that headline could have read, “Support for Suicide Bombings and Bin Laden Wanes, but Not Enough.” But that wouldn’t be sensational.  That wouldn’t be extreme.  That wouldn’t inspire fear. That wouldn’t sound as “right” to a predominately Christian audience.

While even I recognize that extremism isn’t solely based upon religious ideology, it certainly is prominent. Opinions like “It’s o.k. to blow infidels up in the name of Allah” or “The ONLY use for gays in the military is perhaps an airborne outfit that you could drop into action without parachutes or weapons” do stem from religion.  Religion that is immoral, wrong and disgusting.  Rationalizing these opinions with religious ideology only reinforces the argument that religion should stay out of government and people should stay away from religion.

Although some claim to have secular arguments against LGBT rights, the arguments are unpopular and not what the majority of anti-gay people subscribe.  Instead, the majority subscribe to the idea that gay is a sin and against God and we should not promote it.  That is the argument.  Period.  Like those in the Islamic countries, they want the laws to reflect their faith, their opinions and their beliefs.  It’s a slippery slope we are climbing when we mingle church and state, only one bad step away from falling into a country where the majority believe it is o.k. to murder under the pretense that it is a deities will.

While the penalties previously enforced against gays have dramatically declined, laws against gays still remain.  They’ve been put into our state constitutions, our legislation and our schools.  The religious ideas of “marriage” have defined a civil institution for us all.  We have to stop before there is no turning back.

Will we learn?