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Archive for November, 2009

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Discrimination Ends at Home

November 30, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationSometimes I have questions that don’t have answers. Sometimes I have questions that I figure if I write about them, it will bring on a barrage of angry comments. Then, I discover I still have the question. Today’s question is about prejudice. Is it better when people are overt about their prejudice, or is it better when they hide their prejudice? For me, the answer has become more complex. I have always believed that I would rather have someone be honest, even if it’s ugly, because then I know where they stand. I found myself debating the value of silencing ugly speech, and I surprised myself.

Prejudice, bigotry, stereotyping; One of my favorites is “It’s reaching the point where a person can’t say anything about homosexuals without being called names.”

I grew up in the sixties. It was an every day occurrence to tell jokes regarding someone’s ethnicity, race or religion. People just couldn’t get that the jokes were hurtful. They would protest that they were only jokes and meant no harm. We still hear that today.  Worse were the comments intended to be blatantly derogatory. Negative stereotyping and generalizations about any group of people are typically  inaccurate and damaging. Slowly, as a people, we’ve learned that our words were hurting people, even when we thought we were telling innocent jokes. Many of those that purposely and knowingly practiced hate speech were on the end of enough social pressure to stay silent. It didn’t necessarily mean that their minds had changed.

And that’s the part that would bother me – knowing that bigotry still exists in people’s hearts, behind closed mouths, behind closed doors. I have always maintained that I would rather know someone is a bigot. After all, people are still finding plenty of ways to discriminate against people, they just hide their bigotry behind something else.

After reading articles about LGBT rights and readers comments for over a year now, I found myself pondering the question of the social pressure to refrain from making derogatory comments. (Please note carefully. I said social pressure, not legal pressure. I’m a big fan of freedom of speech. I don’t deserve freedom of speech if I want to take it away from someone else.)  I began to realize the benefit of making this kind of talk unacceptable. Our children don’t hear it. I want to believe that each generation of kids has become more open, that it is natural for them to have friends of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientation and political beliefs.

Do I really want my son to hear people making ugly comments about someone’s religion? Someone’s gender? Their race? Ethnicity? No. I don’t. So I have come to realize that pressuring people into silence has risks but also has value. When we don’t speak up against hateful words, we make it acceptable. We build a better society for all of our children when they aren’t exposed to prejudice and bigotry. When they don’t learn bigotry, they won’t move on to the next steps of verbally and physically harming people.

We learn prejudice and hate. We learn name calling and stereotyping.  Can we learn the meaning of human dignity acceptance and respect?  Does this mean I accept and support everything that everyone says? No. It means I look at each person for who they are as a person; their behavior, their values. Are they honest? Are they kind? Do their actions hurt others? Do they treat others with respect and dignity? Do they stand up for the weak? Do I judge people when I don’t like their actions? I would like to say I don’t, but I do. However, I tell them what I don’t like and why. I don’t threaten to kill them. Believe me, it twists them in knots when you refuse to stoop to their level.

We live in a society where divisiveness and sensationalism are so pervasive, we call it news. People on the extremes get the attention of the media. This creates impressions that cause us to make sweeping generalizations about groups of people. This is done to LGBT people every day. We shouldn’t lower ourselves to that standard.  Direct your voices to the individuals who have hurt you. Thank those that support you.

LGBT people have faced discrimination and brutality for too long. We can’t change the world through violence. We can’t change it by being silent. We can’t change it by asking nicely. We can change it through courage, an unwillingness to back down, and articulate and persuasive arguments.  But mostly, we can change the world by living our values.

“It’s reaching the point where a person can’t say anything homosexuals without being called names.” All I can say is – I certainly hope so!

To find that heart of compassion in brutal leaders and people in power situations is, I imagine, one of your greater challenges. Power by humiliation is an acquired disease, cultivated by thousands of years of pathological history. We need to find the antidote, which is compassion coupled with a firm, non-violent use of resistance and pressure

– Victor Zurbel, November 30, 2006, in a personal message.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

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: The Homosexual Threat to Marriage

November 28, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationI  enjoy when the opposition hands me material on a silver platter. Thanks to the Manhattan Declaration, we have confirmation of the real reasons why right wing fundamentalists and conservatives oppose same sex marriage. As of today, over 180,000 people have signed this Declaration. One voice, making the same statement. At last, our enemy has defined themselves.

One of the main founders of the Manhattan Declaration, Chuck Colson, was part of the Watergate scandal and went to jail for obstructing justice. He is a convicted felon who became a born again evangelical while in prison. Many doubt that his conversion is real. One of many endeavors sponsored by Mr. Colson is his desire to have the Bible taught in public schools.  This is a very small snippet from the Wikipedia entry on Mr. Colson.

A quip that ‘Colson would walk over his own grandmother if necessary’ mutated into claims in news stories that Colson had boasted that he would run over his own grandmother to re-elect Nixon. Plotz reports that Colson sought to hire Teamsters’ thugs to beat up anti-war demonstrators. Colson proposed firebombing the Brookings Institution and stealing politically damaging documents while firefighters put the fire out.

Ah yes. This is definitely the kind of guy that Jesus would hang out with.

Back to the Manhattan Declaration. Let’s examine parts of it, shall we?

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law….

I actually have no idea what this wordiness means, other than its intent is to lure you into believing that marriage has THEIR meaning embodied in our civil law. I’ve included it because we will get to their meaning of marriage quite soon.

It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life.

The bold is my emphasis. However, procreation is italicized in the original version.

Jackpot! We have it. The false and destructive belief that marriage is about romance and ‘other’ adult satisfactions. Marriage is NOT about love. I don’t know what is implied by ‘other adult satisfactions’. I know they don’t mean procreation or sex  (how do you know Geekgirl? Ah, we’ll get there.) Right now I am pondering the ‘adult satisfactions’ that my marriage has brought me. Companionship, someone to share my life with, for better or worse… what does that remind me of? Oh well, never mind. Let’s continue.

They [meaning gays and lesbians] fail to understand, however, that marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and that the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit.

Marriage is actually made possible by the government when it hands out marriage licenses. Period. End of sentence.  Yet I sense they are slipping away from procreation, as in having children,  and into something else here.

Marriage is what one man and one woman establish when, forsaking all others and pledging lifelong commitment, they found a sharing of life at every level of being—the biological, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, the spiritualon a commitment that is sealed, completed and actualized by loving sexual intercourse in which the spouses become one flesh, not in some merely metaphorical sense, but by fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation. That is why in the Christian tradition, and historically in Western law, consummated marriages are not dissoluble or annullable on the ground of infertility, even though the nature of the marital relationship is shaped and structured by its intrinsic orientation to the great good of procreation.

Let’s shorten that first sentence to get to the point. Marriage is what one man and woman establish by fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation. Behavioral conditions of procreation. You can’t fool me. I’m a biologist. I know what this means.

Marriage is one man and woman having sexual intercourse.

So it’s NOT about procreation.  We know this now because  the church does not annul marriages on the grounds of infertility. As long as you have the kind of sex that could, in theory, lead to procreation,  you can be married. You don’t need romance or love. You just need a willing penis and a willing vagina. Take note, it cannot be only metaphorical.

Not convinced? Read this direct quote from Dr. Ronald Sider, one of the signers of the Manhattan Declaration, from an interview with the Village Voice.  What is sad about Dr. Sider is he professes to be a Democrat who supports equality for gays and lesbians.

It’s quite clear that… men and women who have sex and make babies stay together. It’s better for their children, and it’s better that children grow up with their moms and dads — and that’s why societies have defined marriage, to protect making babies. The real question is, what is marriage?

Mr. Sider is incorrect here. Many studies have shown that gay parents are as good, if not better, than straight parents. It’s also very insulting to single parents who try hard to do a very good job.

You can say what you just said, but you’re not listening to me. My argument was not a religious argument. It is about what marriage means. It’s true, a lot of contemporaries have redefined marriage. Marriage now means an emotional, romantic relationship between people. If that is what marriage is, then it should ought [sic] to be available to gays or lesbians. But if marriage is what every culture has always said it was, then it makes no sense to offer it to everyone.

He doesn’t elaborate on what every culture has always said it was. But we all know this argument is put forward as if the only model of marriage that has ever existed is their own. Forget polygamy, Native American cultures and women as property.

We have a couple hundred years of public law in this country on this. But nobody would argue that everybody ought to have identical things regardless of who they are. Children don’t have identical rights; grandparents don’t have identical rights with parents. It depends on who you are, what rights you properly get. It’s not true somebody who is living in a relationship, which is not marriage, should have the rights of marriage.

Wow. Now we’re comparing rights of children and grandparents to those of same sex couples who want the same rights as opposite couples. The arguments against this point are so obvious, I won’t take up your time. That last sentence is the one that really bothers me. It is a slap in the face to every loving, monogamous same sex couple.

I want gay Americans to be protected by the law. I want an end to gay bashing. I want them to have jobs, and have housing. I want them to visit their partner in the hospital, and to inherit property and pay taxes [together] legally. Those are all proper things a good society does to establish equality. Even though gay people are not practicing what I believe is the proper sexual relationship, I think they should be protected by the constitution and have all of their civil rights. It doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t follow gay marriage. But I very much believe that we should have civil rights for everybody. …. I think …. people with a gay orientation, ought to seek God’s help to live lives of joy without sexual intercourse.

Outside of some grammatical issues, Mr. Sider doesn’t actually say how society should give these rights to gays and lesbians. But when you get them, you still should not have sex. And it won’t be called marriage.

What case does the Manhattan Declaration make against the legalization of same sex marriage?

No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality—a covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good.

The law has no duty to create a legal version of marriage. We are often reminded by the religious right that the Constitution doesn’t say anything about the right to marry. However, we as a society have recognized that giving legal protections to couples and families protects individuals and society as a whole. But if you are a same sex couple, evidently the sake of justice and the common good do not apply. Here is your confirmation that you are, indeed, second class citizens.

First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized. Second, the rights of parents are abused as family life and sex education programs in schools are used to teach children that an enlightened understanding recognizes as “marriages” sexual partnerships that many parents believe are intrinsically non-marital and immoral. Third, the common good of civil society is damaged when the law itself, in its critical pedagogical function, becomes a tool for eroding a sound understanding of marriage on which the flourishing of the marriage culture in any society vitally depends.

First, no one’s religious liberty is at stake except for those religions that support same-sex marriage. For the millionth time, no church will be forced to recognize same sex marriages. In fact, under current marriage laws the Catholic Church has, and will continue, to deny marriages to even opposite-sex couples that they believe do not meet the criteria for a Catholic sanctified ceremony.  For those of you who think marriage is a religious institution, here is my suggestion. Skip the marriage license. Just have a ceremony at your church. Now ask your minister what legal benefits you just gained.

Second, you are worried about what schools (probably won’t) teach? The immorality of same sex marriage?  About half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce and 40% of children are born out of wedlock.  Yet Christians feel the biggest threat to marriage is two people of the same sex wanting to commit to each other legally and financially? No, that’s not quite it. We see this in point number three.

Third, it’s a sexual partnership that is non-marital and immoral. Why is it non-marital? Because, as we have just read, marriage is about the physical act of male-female intercourse.  When we take away the bloated sugar coated language of this declaration, we can see their real concern.

They don’t like what gay people do in bed.

And because they don’t like it, they state, as if they have true control, that no one has a civil right to a non-marital relationship being recognized as marriage. This logic is more twisted than a pretzel. Civil law regarding marriage has no requirement for procreation, nor does it have a requirement for sexual intercourse. I checked my marriage license. Not there.

Let’s look at something so traditional I bet many of us know this by heart. The traditional marriage vows, said in many a church.

I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

This vow looks suspiciously similar to love, romance and other adult satisfactions to me.  If religion insists that marriage is about the biological act that can lead to procreation, why isn’t it mandatory for heterosexuals getting married in a Christian church to include a vow to have sexual intercourse? Now I’m sure we wouldn’t want to use such a descriptive term in front of our families and children. What did you call it? Fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation?

I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, to fulfill together the behavioral conditions of procreation, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

What did we learn? Without male-female sexual intercourse, it is not marriage. And the threat to marriage?  An emotional, romantic relationship.

In other words, love threatens marriage.

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.

This Thanksgiving: Proud to be the T in LGBT

November 26, 2009 By: Lauryn Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

FallLeavesAt one time I thought I really liked holidays.  Over the years as we have lost family, I realized that what I really liked was the time off to spend with family and friends.  Today I give much greater thanks for my family than ever before.  I have truly learned what it means to have others you can connect to in heart, mind, and soul.  My own journey is one that is unique, as we each are unique.  I have been amazingly blessed to have been able to continue to have all of my family as close allies through my entire transition.

I am sure over time you will all hear my full story but on this day of Thanksgiving I want to especially focus on my family.  I consider my family to be all of those that I feel near and dear to, both my nuclear family and my family of choice.  In my family we are bonded and we are very close.  We stick together and although we fight we always stand together against the outside world.  I think this is true with my family of choice as well.  I am using the family of choice term to identify those to whom I feel a special closeness within my band of friendships.

The friends I have are from many places and are as diverse as the rainbow.  I feel very close to my friends at church, they accepted me and saw God’s blessing in me.  I also have many friends in the T community, some of which I bonded with very quickly, Michael Brown being a good example.  Others are in the L, G, B, or H alphabet soup.  I feel blessed to have very close friends that I can depend on who happen to be lesbians, gay or heterosexual (ok some are actually U-unknown).  I am very proud to be associated with each and every one of them.  I sometimes wish I could feel less like a T and more like a “woman” with them but that is really the fault of society as a whole.

I get up almost every day and think today has to be the day that I just go stealth.  Then I get dressed and do it all again being proud of my friends and accepting that they are proud of me for being T.  The relationships are mutual but we don’t always agree.  Sometimes I think they are too gay and they think I am too T, but always we love each other.  I know that I should be more angry or more hurt when gays bash Ts or even worse, just forget us altogether.  It just really isn’t in me to strike back because there are so many wonderful gays, lesbians, and others that I proudly call my brothers and sisters!  I truly believe that each of those I hold close stand with me, and when we are together the haters do not matter.

I am very thankful for all of my family and friends today, I love all of you.  I especially love my partner of 27 years and my 2 children.  The boys have now grown into young men and they have been supportive every step of the way.  It is actually my eldest son who pulled us all from the closet, and as I tell them now, they all had to transition.  I had been transitioning for many years but now it has been their turn.  They have transitioned better than could have been imagined, I am thankful for that as well.

In closing I want to share a blog that my son wrote only a day or 2 after meeting Lauryn for the first time.  Both of my children got their intelligence and writing skills from their other parent, I am also thankful for that blessing.  This short statement expresses what I hope, and believe, much of my family feels, both nuclear and by choice.  I am proud to be the T in LGBT because of the love the L, G, and B have shown and that they continue to demonstrate every day.  Today, I am blessed and I give Thanks!

Dear T – by Mark Farris

I am writing to you because you have been left behind, because you have been pushed into the wilderness alone. There has been a lot of ground made on the part of the L, G, and B but alone still stands the T. The conservative right, have grown to accept the L, G, and B as mere lost souls.  They are lost souls that need to be “saved” by God’s grace to free them from their chains of self identity.  The T though is still being accused of having a diagnosable disorder, one that with time and patience can be cured.  The Conservatives raise the claim that God created humans as man and woman, forever to be separated as one or the other.  They claim that the perfect union of these two sexes comes with marriage and marriage alone.

At one point the slaves of this country were considered to be nothing more than beasts of the field. The African American population with time rose up to meet their oppressor.  With time people began to accept them as humans.  At one time women were nothing more than domestic robots that were to do as they were told, and leave the rest to men. With time they rose to meet their oppressor.  With time the glass ceiling fell away in small pieces here and there.  People however came to accept them as humans.  At one time homosexuals were viewed as the cause for the AIDS virus.  With time it was realized that the AIDS virus was affecting the whole human race.  Slowly but surely they were not blamed any more.

It is time for people to realize that the L, G, B, and T are all people.  God created man and woman, Genesis 1:27 “in his own image, male and female.”  This is the passage quoted by the conservative right.  The claim made is that God purposely created men and woman separately to be different from one another.  This language is not present here.

God created humankind in his likeness.  The use of the pronoun “his” is used as the label given to God by the original translators and writers of the texts.  There is no language to suggest what gender God is.  God is a being that created human in the likeness of self.  Woman and man were created to complete the picture of human kind.  Humanity would not be complete without both woman and man. The T, you represent both aspects of humanity.  You are the full representation of the image of God.  There will come a time when even the T will be accepted, and there will come a time when accepting both genders will not be viewed as a disease but will be viewed as a blessing.

With this blessing I would like to stress, that I am a heterosexual that is in support of this cause of this fight. I will not stand silent any longer. All I ask is that the LGBT people unite not only within themselves but unite with the H, the heterosexual population.  We as heterosexuals are not disadvantaged by not being T, we in many cases choose to challenge our gender in different ways.  We all must accept our humanity.  We all must accept each other as a member of humanity.

We must unite together, with a creator in mind.  The road is long, but it is a road that needs to be walked down.  I hope to do my best to fight this fight, with the resources and skills that I have.  We must not be hung up on the labels of “male,” “female,” “gay,” “straight,” but we should unite together under one label, one soul, humanity. God is not a man or a woman, God is not gay, or straight. God created an identity for all living things.  I hope this message finds you well T.  With courage you shall rise up and shall break the closet door down. “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” With devotion and hope, Mark Farris.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays: Adam Lambert Gave Up Being ‘Gay’

November 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Stupid Things People Say About GaysThe controversy surrounding Adam Lambert’s American Music Awards’ kiss hasn’t ceased.  In fact, it continues to escalate as person after person calls in complaint after complaint saying they just don’t want to see gays having sex on television.

Of course, Adam and his kissing buddy didn’t have sex on television, they simply shared a passionate kiss.  It should come as no surprise that television watchers don’t care to see gay people smooching – particularly considering that even the smallest displays of affection have resulted in forceful detainment, harassment and outright bigotry of same-sex couples over the past several months.  Those incidents spawned the Great Nationwide Kiss-In and hundreds of LGBT people around the country puckered up to show that “it’s only a kiss.”

Unfortunately, Adam is a “superstar” in his own right and such a public display has had all sorts of crazy commentary, many of which are provided in an Enduring Vision article:

… it’s like, you read about something like that in People [magazine] or on the internet, but as time goes by without Adam having public sex with another man, you begin to forget about it. – Terry Jones

Wait.  You were reminded that Adam Lambert is gay because he had public sex?  And here I thought there was no point in watching the American Music Awards – I could have gotten a dose of gay porn?  Seriously, since when is kissing in public the same as sex in public?

But the ignorance doesn’t stop there.  Mrs. Jones (ironic name perhaps?) goes on:

[I believed Adam Lambert had] decided to give up this whole ‘gay’ thing when he became famous. Now I know I’m most likely wrong.

Most likely wrong?  No, Mrs. Jones, you are completely wrong.  Adam was and is still “gay” – even when you aren’t practicing gay kissing on television, you are most certainly still gay.

But the fun doesn’t stop there as Terry Jones’ neighbor, Phil Martin, chimes in with a brilliant stereotype of gay people:

I thought all winners and contestants on American Idol were gay.

You mean, like Kelly Clarkson, Mr. Martin?  Yeah, uhm, she’s straight (but fabUloUs).

And it gets even better as Martin goes on:

…acting gay on TV” as Lambert did is completely beyond the pale… because it makes it difficult for people to forget his gayness. [emphasis added]

Imagine how difficult it is for Adam Lambert to forget your bigotry and then come crying to me about forgetting he’s gay.

But the Adam Lambert kiss has clarified perhaps the most difficult question about gay rights – Why not gay marriage?  Well, isn’t it obvious that it the wedding is not what bothers them, but the kiss at the end?

NOTE: For more of the column, Stupid Things People Say About Gays, click here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Without Love, You Have Nothing

November 24, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationAs we approach this holiday season, I can’t recall a year, in my adult life time, where religion has been used so much as a tool for discrimination and lies.

The Bible can be used to support or dismiss almost any point of view.  Lately, its main purpose seems to be a tool to deny LGBT people not only rights, but also to degrade and dehumanize them.  The Bible is a collection of writings, mostly found through archaeological means, written in ancient languages such as Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, over centuries. It has undergone translation and censorship. It has been studied by many people intensely for years at academic institutions.  Common sense tells me that God did not put pen to paper. People put pen to paper to write about their spiritual experiences and beliefs. It was written within the cultural context of the times.

If one reads the writings of St. Paul in Corinthians, it’s almost as if he is bipolar. There are passages regarding slavery, women shaving their heads, not speaking in church, and the list goes on.

Yet, we have a passage that has remarkable insight. If I were to choose just one lesson from the Bible, it would be this.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 Written by St. Paul.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

What do I find so remarkable about St. Paul’s words?

If one does not have love, one has nothing. Look at the last sentence. Without love, one does not have faith or hope.

Paul defines love and its purpose. It is not self-seeking and does not delight in evil. It protects. It is kind.

Paul acknowledges that all else can change. Prophecies, tongues, all will pass away.  Notice he uses the word knowledge. Not truth. Knowledge is something that is changeable. Knowledge is actually all we have. And we all know that knowledge changes each day. We use it to define truth. But truth can never be completely certain. In Biblical times people thought that the sun went around the earth, the earth was flat and it was only 6,000 years old. Science – knowledge – have proven all of these to be wrong. This is a perfect example of Paul’s wisdom when he says that knowledge will pass away.

Paul also acknowledges that our reasoning will change.  It matures as we grow older. Does it not also mature with each generation? With each revelation about ourselves, our society, our understanding of others? Would we permit slavery today? Do we enforce all the other rules that Paul presents as required to worship God? No. We do not. This is ‘knowledge’ that has faded away as our culture continually experiences enlightenment.

Last, but perhaps first, Paul makes the point that love is greater than faith. Why? Because it is love that creates all of our values. Everything comes from love. Faith comes from writings fixed in stone. Love comes from who we are today, in our life right now, not 2000 years ago.

Each of us is capable of that “on the road to Damascus” moment that changed Saul into St. Paul. Each of us can cast aside our prejudices and ignorance. Each of us can open our heart and mind.  Let love and hope lead you to your understanding of faith. Not the other way around.

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.

The Question After the Vigils: Who’s Next?

November 23, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Hate Crimes Vigil - San Antonio, TexasOver the past few days, vigils have been held for Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, 19, and Jason Mattison, Jr., 15, the most recent victims of bias crimes. Jorge’s His murderer claimed that when he picked Jorge up, he thought he was a woman; however upon discovering Jorge was biologically male, the man went into a rage. It was a rage so violent that the attacker was burned, decapitated, and dismembered Jorge. Cause of death? HATE.

Jason Mattison, Jr.’s death was no less graphic. After his body was found, it was discovered that he had been raped, gagged with a pillowcase, stabbed repeatedly in the head and throat before his murderer shoved his dead body back into the closet we all struggle so hard to be free of.

My local vigil occurred just days after the Transgender Day of Remembrance observance where we remembered the over 130 known trans and gender queer people murdered to date in 2009. As a stood with the small crowd, I let my eyes wonder over each persons face. The faces full of sorrow, rage, hurt and perhaps realization. A realization that they are among the lucky ones, the survivors. While some of those present had been attacked, they had survived, but it could have been any of us being immortalized by the candlelight. It even could have been me.

Perhaps that is why only a handful gathered in San Antonio for the vigil? Perhaps we aren’t ready to confront our own mortality and the possibility that it “could have been me?” Perhaps we are lossing the battle because of our fear? I can’t pretend to know the answer, but I do know this – I will never let them shove me back into a closet.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Give the Gift of Equality

November 22, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationEeeks. The holiday shopping season is upon us. Many of you probably participate in the holidays one way or another, regardless of your faith. One thing you can do this year is give the gift of Equality for LGBT people. Is it difficult to talk to your friends and family about supporting rights for gays and lesbians? Don’t we all have an Archie Bunker in our family?

It’s the season of Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward All. The perfect time to send a positive, subtle, yet clear message about your values.

How, you might ask? Here are a few ideas. If you have other ideas, please post them in the comments.

Where to Shop

Let’s start with the easiest. Do you do all your shopping on Amazon and have them wrap and send the packages? My husband does. Do your shopping through PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and 5% of your Amazon purchase will go to the organization. In fact, they do this year round, so bookmark PFLAG as your Amazon shopping link.

Want to make sure your dollars go to gay supporting organizations? Check out   GayWallet, HRC Equality Buying Guide or search for LGBT businesses in your community.

Travel

Making travel arrangements? Check out American Airlines Business ExtrAA Program. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, you can support PFLAG by using their Business ExtrAA account number, #527590 when you make your reservation with American Airlines. And you will still earn your personal AAdvantage frequent flyer miles! This incentive program allows PFLAG to earn points redeemable for awards to support staff travel.

Cards and Stamps

Do you still send cards or family newsletters? Turn it into your wish list for world peace. Mention your support for equality in your wish list. It doesn’t have to turn into a sermon. Something as easy as “As I watch the news and see gay couples fight for equality, I hope 2010 brings us closer to passing laws that give every human rights.” If you make your own cards, it’s a great opportunity to include a symbol or message about equality.Your cards and newsletters will need a stamp.  You can start by making your own stamps. In fact, the folks at Zazzle have made it easy for you by creating many LGBT designs. Use them for your every day mail, especially for those cards and letters for your representatives.

GIFTS

Need gifts for family members? Let’s run through my family and see what I’m giving them.

Movies
Through My Eyes and For The Bible Tells Me So. For Christians who need a nudge toward equality.
MilkFor people who need a nudge to speak up, the movie MILK is a great gift this year.

Music

There are many gay and lesbian artists, or artists that support equality. There is something for everyone, regardless of their taste.

Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga, Melissa Etheridge, kd Lang, Rufus Wainwright, SigurRos, Catie Curtis, and even Dolly Parton support equality.

Books and Poetry

The Matthew Shepard store is another great place to pick up items, especially the new book by Judy Shepard.

An Anthology of Poetry by LGBT Christians, available at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Grace Cathedral is famous for its commitment to working with AIDS patients from the beginning and has a lovely AIDS Chapel.

Jewelry

If you are looking for some special jewelry, try Love and Pride.  Love and Pride donates a portion of its profits to several LGBT organizations including the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Lambda Legal and SLDN.

For those that have everything

Make a contribution to an LGBT group in their name. Choose something that will resonate with the person. Do they have children or grandchildren? Support The Trevor Project, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, a local LGBT youth center or the local Gay Straight Alliance.

Check if an organization is against gays and lesbians.  Every year we see the Salvation Army bell ringers in front of stores. They do great work in the community. However, their website continues to preach against homosexuals. Some people put notes in the buckets saying that they will support the Salvation Army when they accept gays.

You can find some of this information on the HRC website and you can also go to a company’s website to look at their employment policies. For example, Exxon Mobil does not provide benefits to gay couples, BP does. Guess where I buy my gas?  Looking for information on businesses that are actively anti-gay? Check out Gay News Watch.

For yourself

What’s next? We buy products every day, not just during the holidays. Make it your resolution to choose companies that support the rights of gays and lesbians. Let a company know why you are or are not buying their goods or services. And include your church. What are they doing with the check that you put in the collection plate? Often times you can ‘earmark’ your donation for a particular use.

This year was an amazing one for pulling together people in the fight for equality. What a wonderful community of family to be part of. Let’s carry that momentum through Thanksgiving, the holidays and into our resolutions for the new year.

Peace on Earth, Equality and Human Dignity for All.

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 Right Wing Christians: How Hate Crime Laws Silenced the Church

November 21, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationThe hardcore religious (they are anything but) right has become so paranoid that their twisted logic has led them to believe that they are the victims. Their solution?  The Manhattan Declaration, a statement of Christian convictions on the matters of life, family, and religious liberty. Let’s go through parts of it.

The preamble to the declaration reads, “While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

That’s right folks. People who WANT to get married are destroying marriage. Just like people who hate the earth recycle.

On marriage, the declaration addresses the problems of out-of-wedlock births, cohabitation, and divorce. For the church’s failure to uphold ‘the dignity of marriage,’ it reads, ‘we repent.’ It goes on to lay out concerns with same-sex marriage. ‘[I]t is out of love (not ‘animus’) and prudent concern for the common good (not ‘prejudice’), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture.’

You admit to being a failure on heterosexual marriage. You are addressing this how? You welcome these individuals into your churches. You do not cast them out nor do you preach that what they have done is wrong. When was your last sermon on “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”? I seem to recall that is in the Ten Commandments. Being gay is not.

It is out of love that you are preventing loving couples from marrying one another? No it isn’t. It is out of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, ignorance, intolerance and an unwillingness to be human. You are paranoid, brainwashed and threatened. You are incapable of examining your own feelings. Worse, you hide behind religion and words like love to make your stand against same sex marriage sound respectable.

Signatories recognize a growing list of threats to religious liberty: the weakening of conscience clauses protecting religious workers in the health industry, antidiscrimination statutes that could force religious nonprofits to facilitate adoptions to gay couples, and heightened hate crimes laws that could affect free speech.

Father Chad Hatfield, head of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, said he signed it because, ‘We know what it’s like to be intimidated into silence,’ referring to Eastern Orthodox persecution under communism.

That might just be the most insane, offensive sentence in the entire document. “We know what it’s like to be intimidated into silence. ” Just what exactly are you being silenced on? Your desire to help the poor? Your desire to prevent failed marriages? Really? Where? This declaration is about one thing only. Same sex marriage.

You know what it is like to be intimidated into silence? Really? When was the last time a clergyman was decapitated, dismembered and burned in the same way that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado , a 19 year old gay man (or perhaps transgender person) from Puerto Rico, or Jason Mattison, a 15 year old teen from Baltimore,  who was raped, stabbed, beaten to death and stuffed into a closet from Baltimore? Both of these horrific, unspeakable crimes occurred this November.

Who silenced you to speak out against these hate crimes? The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Law? The answer is obvious. You did. You choose to remain silent. By choice. Get this message loud and clear. Silence equals agreement.

And now for my thoughts on your closing statement.

The declaration closes: ‘We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.’

You will render to Caesar what is Caesar’s? Good. Then do it.  Legal marriage has nothing to do with the church and you know it. Your church does not hand out marriage licenses. You do however impose the church’s religious beliefs on others, to the point where you  have convinced politicians that only your religion has religious freedom under the First Amendment. Get out of the way of the government. Get out of my church’s right to practice our faith, which supports same sex marriage.  Your right to practice your religion is intact. You don’t need to provide wedding services for gays and lesbians. You have your right to preach that homosexuality is wrong. America is about freedom. No one has taken away your right to practice your religious beliefs, as obscene as they are. Now stop trying to take away the rights of LGBT people.

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.

Transgender Day of Remembrance and Ms. Lauryn Farris

November 20, 2009 By: Lauryn Category: Featured, LGBT Heroes Project

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009A note from Jay: When I first met Lauryn Farris a few months ago, we quickly began discussing having her contribute at jaysays.com.  Today, as she states, is indeed an appropriate day to introduce herself to our readers and friends.  It is my great honor to have her contribution to the our little project known as jaysays.com and I look forward to learning from her vast experience and knowledge.  She is a truly an LGBT hero.

What an appropriate day for me to do my first blog on jaysays.com.  Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.  It is a day that we pause to remember those that have been taken from us only for being different.  On the 19th the San Antonio Gender Association along with the MCC San Antonio sponsored our Observance.

It was a wonderful service.  Reverend Mick Hinson did the lighting of the candle and introduction to the reading of the names.  Michelle Burnett sang as did the Dignity Choir.  The music was as from the voices of angels.  After we had read names and lit candles I addressed the group with a few words that included the opportunity for each member of our group to introduce themselves and make a few comments.

The theme for the night was Remembering, Celebrating, and Hoping.  My remarks were about youth, and about standing together to make a difference.  It was focused on all of us standing together, those in the LGBT community and those who stand with us.   I invited people to remember that it is love not hate we celebrate.  I have included the text of the homily below.

There were about 75 people in attendance.   This was a very nice start to an annual service that we hope will grow.  It would have been nice to have more but we had a wonderful loving group.

As a broader introduction of myself I am currently president of the San Antonio Gender Association, co-chair of the HRC Religion and Faith committee and involved in many activities throughout the community.  I look forward to writing more and Jay is one of the sweetest people I have ever met.  If Jay will let me I will have another blog next week about family and what a blessing it is to be the T in LGBT.

Text of Homily:

Thank you to the MCC church, reverend Hinson and all of those that have assisted the San Antonio Gender Association in planning and presenting this Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Remembering, Celebrating and Hope.  We are gathered here tonight with this theme and I want to take just a moment to reflect on each part of Remembering – Celebrating – and Hope.  I am placing a special emphasis on youth, so many of those we have lost were so young, and our hope for the future is also with our young people.

Remembering – we ask a blessing for each of the names that were read, and for those unknown who suffered and died at their own hand – or the hands of others – so needlessly.  We remember God’s covenant to not destroy us through a rainbow.  We pray that we are nearing the time of another special rainbow when we remember this brutality of hate only through history.

In Puerto Rico, there is no rainbow these days.  We remember 19 year old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado whose body was discovered November 14.  Jorge was openly gay and had been decapitated, dismembered and burned.  The investigator said that “people who lead this lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.”  Jorge is an example of the violence brought to the entire LGBT community.  Let us remember, however, that love not hate is the answer.  Let us remember the beauty of the person and not their horrific death.  Most of all let’s remember what God tells us in Hebrews 6:10

He will not forget what you have done. He will remember the love you have shown him. You showed it when you helped his people. And you show it when you keep on helping them.

E. B. White of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little fame said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world.” That makes it hard to plan the day.”

For many of us life would be easier if we just lived it, and lived hidden in plain sight.  For most of us instead it has been a desire to help save the world that we have chosen.  We know the difficulties we will face, but we know that we are not alone.  We celebrate the example that many we are remembering have given us, live authentically, genuinely and proudly as who we were created to be.  I am PROUDLY a transgender woman who stands today to celebrate the lives of those who have gone before me.  I also stand to celebrate those who stand with me, because they choose to out of love.

10 year old Will Phillips has chosen sit during the Pledge of Allegiance because justice for all does not include everyone.  Will and his parents are all “straight”.  They recognize and celebrate the lives of those who have been taken simply because they were different.  They have chosen to raise Will in an environment of inclusion, we celebrate our fallen brothers and sisters and we celebrate those who stand with us for love.

We remember those that have fallen and we celebrate their authentic lives so that we will create a world of greater Hope for the future.  We cannot lose another generation.  I am here before you today because my own son asked “what are you going to do?”  With hope and love in my heart I ask you “what are you going to do?”  I pray that you will all join me in sharing the belief that we have hope for the future.  And, that you will remember those we have lost and celebrate their lives by living authentically and genuinely with hope.  Most of all that you will STANDUP and STANDOUT.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009 – the Exclusion Question Answered

November 20, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009This year, I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Metropolitan Community Church (“MCC”) in San Antonio, Texas.  The services were planned and hosted by the San Antonio Gender Association (“SAGA”) with the chapel being provided by the MCC.  Ms. Lauryn Farris, President of SAGA, told those present that it was a celebration of remembrance and of hope.

Ms. Farris spoke of the words of E.B. White:

I wake up each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world.

She went on to explain that Transgender Day of Remembrance was the “most important day” of the year for our trans brothers and sisters.  I took a moment to glance around the chapel, noting that several pews were empty.  The absence of the LGB community was noticeable and heartbreaking. Perhaps they decided it was their day to savor the world rather than reach out to help save it?

However, I recall the hundreds upon hundreds of LGBT people gathered for pride celebrations this past June, enough people to have turned the small chapel into a standing room only establishment, overflowing itself out into the streets.

I remember several community events over the past year that had members of SAGA present, standing soundly next to their friends and LGB family as we demanded marriage equality.  I watched one transgender woman stand before a group of 150 or so angry LGB people after the passage of Proposition 8 in California and explain the importance of a united voice, but those 150 people weren’t there on that MOST important day for our transgender friends.

Finally, a question for me was answered.  When people speak of exclusion, it is not about excluding them from our movement, it’s about excluding ourselves from theirs.  We must do better.

So now, I ask you my LGB brothers and sisters – who will you stand for other than yourself?  Will you go to your local gender association meeting and offer to help?  Can you spare some change or dollars to help them out?  Will you?

In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, and with help from wonderful web resources such as transgenderdor.org, I prepared the following video slide show: