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Archive for May, 2010

ExxonMobil Says No Gay Rights Without Legislative Intervention.

May 22, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Boycott ExxonMobilBefore 1999, Exxon and Mobil were two different companies. Mobil was generally progressive on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employment rights and had a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. By that, I mean their policy prohibited discrimination in employment matters based upon sexual orientation AND gender identity.

Unfortunately, progress took a hit with Exxon Corp’s purchase of Mobile Corp 11 years ago. Exxon’s employment policies were not inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity. Essentially, without such a policy, LGBT employees of ExxonMobil could be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  This sparked a boycott of the newly created company, ExxonMobil. Unfortunately, time took its toll on the memories of LGBT people and our allies. Not only did we fail to relay this tidbit of gay history to our youth, but we altogether stopped talking about it – kind of like the Exxon Valdez oil spill for which the company still hasn’t paid.

Recently, GetEQUAL has offered a reminder of gays gone by and launched protests outside of ExxonMobil stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After the first protest, organizers for GetEQUAL contacted ExxonMobil to request a policy change. The response from the Vice President of Investor Relations was telling. In a few more words, which I’ll quote shortly, he essentially said that ExxonMobil will only change the policy if they are forced to do so by law, or to put it another way, “go ahead faggots, make us.”

Here’s what ExxonMobil had to say, in their own words:

Where we [ExxonMobil] operate in countries in which the national laws require specific language regarding nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity be included in policies, we have amended our policies as appropriate.

Seems where there’s no law, they aren’t going to bother.  The battle line has been drawn and it is obvious that a full scale, vocal boycott of ExxonMobil is in order. This time, may we not forget.

I implore you, dear reader, grab your friends and your signs and head to the nearest ExxonMobil station. Make fliers to hand out at local events encouraging others to do the same. While we fight for full equality legislatively, we must also do so with the power and force of the free market. Together, we are millions of dollars lost.

Madonna Comes Out for Malawi Couple Sentenced to 14 Years Hard Labor

May 21, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Marriage Equality

I’ve been following the story of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga since their wedding day.  When the couple became the first men in Malawi to get “married,” they knew the risk they were taking.  Shortly after their ceremony, they were arrested and charged with public indecency.  On May 20, 2010, after being denied bail because it would be unsafe for the couple to return to society, the two were sentence to 14 years hard labor.

Madonna, who has adopted two children, Mercy and David, from Malawi, made a plea to the Malawi people:

I am shocked and saddened by the decision made today by the Malawian court, which sentenced two innocent men to prison. As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, color, religion, or sexual orientation,” Madonna said in a statement.

Today, Malawi took a giant step backward. The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved.

I call upon the progressive men and women of Malawi – and around the world – to challenge this decision in the name of human dignity and equal rights for all.

Anti-Gay, Anti-Worker Hyatt Gets Support from HRC San Antonio Chapter

May 19, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

HRC and MoneyZONKERS!!!! Imagine my surprise when I opened my email box and discovered a tip advising me that the San Antonio Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign is holding its Gala and Silent Auction at the Grand Hyatt Riverwalk in San Antonio.  On the Facebook event page, the Chapter makes this statement:

The Gala will be held on October 23rd at the brand new and beautiful Grand Hyatt on the RiverWalk! Your dinner co-chairs will host a Happy Hour there soon. Stay tuned for details!

While I have often criticized the HRC, I’ve generally been a staunch supporter of my local chapter (the San Antonio Chapter).  The members of the San Antonio Chapter are much more than just “HRC” and do a lot of great work in our community.

However, this time, I can’t find any excuse for their actions in spite of trying real hard to save face.  If I were Joe Solomenese and headed a multi-million dollar organization making $300,000.00 per year, I might just book myself a first class ticket to San Antonio to personally shred the chapters charter.  Then again, I might just find myself sitting next to my pool sipping a mojito while cabana boys fan me instead.

Don’t get caught in a bad hotel!

If you are not familiar with the boycott of Hyatt (and other anti-gay/anti-worker hotels), please check out sleepwiththerightpeople.org and hotelworkersrising.org.

The Gala will be held on October 23rd at the brand new and beautiful Grand Hyatt on the RiverWalk! Your dinner co-chairs will host a Happy Hour there soon. Stay tuned for details!

Stupid Things People Say About Gays: Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is “Forcible Sodomy”

May 14, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

In 2008, the House Armed Service personnel subcommittee held the first hearing since 1993 on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which discriminates against openly gay/lesbian military persons.

During her testimony at the hearing, Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, invoked the argument against a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell we hear all too often – that a repeal would result in :”exotic forms of sexual expression”, “forcible sodomy” and declaring a repeal would lead to a “sexualized atmosphere.”

In her written statement to the House Armed Services Committee, Donnelly wrote:

When a female soldier reports an incident of sexual harassment or abuse, she enjoys the presumption of truthfulness. But under the new civil rights standard, if a male soldier reports an incident of homosexual harassment or abuse, he will face the suspicion, if not the presumption, of unacceptable attitudes toward fellow soldiers who are gay.

Since charges of harassment will be met with counter charges of “bigotry” or “homophobic bullying,” heterosexuals whose values are violated will hesitate to file complaints, lest they be suspected and probably accused of attitudes that violate the new “zero tolerance” policy, favoring homosexuals in the military.

In messy, emotionally-charged disputes such as this, commanders themselves will be accused of homophobic attitudes if they take the side of the heterosexual person over the homosexual one. Who is bullying whom? In close quarters it wouldn’t matter—the effect on unit cohesion would be the same.

The first problem with Ms. Donnelly’s statements, which are echoed still today in arguments against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is that she’s ignored the fact that female soldiers do not enjoy the presumption of truth.  In a 2004 report, the Denver Post found that some 200,000 women were sexually assaulted while serving in the armed forces. In 2006, there were 2,974 cases of rape and sexual assault in the services and only 292 of those cases went to a military trial.  According to the group, STAAAMP, over 40 U.S. Generals, Admirals and Colonels have been given immunity by U.S. Courts for serious criminal sexual behavior.  Presumption of truth, Ms. Donnelly?  It seems not.

The second problem with her argument is that she implies that a heterosexual person who has been raped by someone of the same sex would not come forward for fear of being labeled a bigot.  While it’s true that many victims of rape or sexual abuse do not come forward, the idea that the fear of being labeled “anti-gay” stayed their voice is ludicrous.  According to the 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey, only 38 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials.  Thus, a staggering 63% went unreported.  In many of these cases, victims felt that their reputations would be tarnished and that they would be blamed for the attack against them. One rape victim described her fear of coming forward this way:

It would be my word against his. It was something I’d rather not have to deal with while I was in college. All my friends all believed me. I didn’t know if the police would. I didn’t know if the school would.

In her third point, Donnelly suggests that Commanders would be subjected to being homophobic if they prosecuted a rape case against a gay service member.  This is another ludicrous allegation with no supporting facts and is clearly an effort to blame the victim or prosecutor, rather than the perpetrator.

The lies and fear from the opposition are spreading.  They are desperate to hide their prejudices in tangled, twisted logic that will appeal to the masses.  No outlandish claim or lie is too far for these people as they must defend their right to hate without saying their truth, that they just don’t like gay people.  The repeal of laws against people based solely upon individual characteristics is the “right” path and we will succeed.  Even those opposed to equality know this, and they are afraid.

For additional information on rape and sexual assault in the military, I direct you to the following resource: Refusing Rape.

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

n 2008, the House Armed Service personnel subcommittee held the first hearing since 1993 on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which discriminates against openly gay/lesbian military persons.

During her testimony at the hearing, Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military readiness, invoked the argument against a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell we hear all too often – that a repeal would result in :”exotic forms of sexual expression”, “forcible sodomy” and declaring a repeal would lead to a “sexualized atmosphere.”

In her written statement to the House Armed Services Committee, Donnelly wrote:

“When a female soldier reports an incident of sexual harassment or abuse, she enjoys the presumption of truthfulness. But under the new civil rights standard, if a male soldier reports an incident of homosexual harassment or abuse, he will face the suspicion, if not the presumption, of unacceptable attitudes toward fellow soldiers who are gay.

Since charges of harassment will be met with counter charges of “bigotry” or “homophobic bullying,” heterosexuals whose values are violated will hesitate to file complaints, lest they be suspected and probably accused of attitudes that violate the new “zero tolerance” policy, favoring homosexuals in the military.

In messy, emotionally-charged disputes such as this, commanders themselves will be accused of homophobic attitudes if they take the side of the heterosexual person over the homosexual one. Who is bullying whom? In close quarters it wouldn’t matter—the effect on unit cohesion would be the same.”

The first problem with Ms. Donnelly’s statements, which are echoed still today in arguments against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is that she’s ignored the fact that female soldiers do not enjoy the presumption of truth. In a 2004 report, the Denver Post found that some 200,000 women were sexually assaulted while serving in the armed forces. In 2006, there were 2,974 cases of rape and sexual assault in the services and only 292 of those cases went to a military trial. According to the group, STAAAMP, over 40 U.S. Generals, Admirals and Colonels have been given immunity by U.S. Courts for serious criminal sexual behavior. Presumption of truth, Ms. Donnelly? It seems not.

The second problem with her argument is that she implies that a heterosexual person who has been raped by someone of the same sex would not come forward for fear of being labeled a bigot. While it’s true that many victims of rape or sexual abuse do not come forward, the idea that the fear of being labeled “anti-gay” stayed their voice is ludicrous. According to the 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey, only 38 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials. Thus, a staggering 63% went unreported. In many of these cases, victims felt that their reputations would be tarnished and that they would be blamed for the attack against them. One rape victim described her fear of coming forward this way:

“It would be my word against his. It was something I’d rather not have to deal with while I was in college. All my friends all believed me. I didn’t know if the police would. I didn’t know if the school would.”

In her third point, Donnelly suggests that Commanders would be subjected to being homophobic if they prosecuted a rape case against a gay service member. This is another ludicrous allegation with no supporting facts and is clearly an effort to blame the victim or prosecutor, rather than the perpetrator.

The lies and fear from the opposition are spreading. They are desperate to hide their prejudices in tangled, twisted logic that will appeal to the masses. No outlandish claim or lie is too far for these people as they must defend their right to hate without saying their truth, that they just don’t like gay people. The repeal of laws against people based solely upon individual characteristics is the “right” path and we will succeed. Even those opposed to equality know this, and they are afraid.

For additional information on rape and sexual assault in the military, I direct you to the following resource: Refusing Rape.

Glee Creator Calls for Newsweek Boycott: Gay Actors Can’t Pass in Straight Roles

May 12, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Thought of the Gay

Newsweek Boycott?Before the world knew that Neil Patrick Harris was gay, we graciously accepted his heterosexual role as Doogie Hauser and his brilliantly hyper-masculine performance in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.  However, according to a recent Newsweek article, gays just can’t play the role of straight people and pull it off.

The Newsweek article, written by a gay man, Ramin Setoodeh, claims:

…the truth is, openly gay actors still have reason to be scared. While it’s OK for straight actors to play gay (as Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger did in Brokeback Mountain), it’s rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse.

In a recent letter to Newsweek, Glee creator, Ryan Murphy, called for a boycott of the magazine and demanding an apology stating:

This article is as misguided as it is shocking and hurtful. It shocks me because Mr. Setoodeh is himself gay. But what is the most shocking of all is that Newsweek went ahead and published such a blatantly homophobic article in the first place…and has remained silent in the face of ongoing (and justified) criticism. Would the magazine have published an article where the author makes a thesis statement that minority actors should only be allowed and encouraged to play domestics? I think not.

In response to the call for a boycott, one misguided commenter had this to say:

No matter what the gay will always bring that fact in front.  They have all this media dedicated to them, awards that they only award to them and many other things.  So when a gay dude do something he is no longer doing the part, he is also promoting homosexuality, all the gays appreciate him. [sic throughout]

The seeds of homophobia were planted eons ago and ring clear in this commenter’s remarks.  To the heterosexists, every action a gay person takes is simply to promote being gay.  In last night’s Glee, Kurt summed this up nicely, “I am not a box. There are more than four sides to me.”  This complexity of the human condition has been summarized over and over again, including in my favorite quote of Walt Whitman that I invoke far too often:

Do I contradict myself, very well then, I contradict myself.  I am large. I contain multitudes.

But to the heterosexist, gays are nothing more than gays.  We are not complex humans, but merely sexually deprived persons seeking to push our agenda on the rest of the world.  If we were to sit quietly reading a newspaper in the park, heterosexists would run a T.V. special on “Perverts in the Park” – a show which was handled by KENS-TV Channel 11, San Antonio, in 1996.  In fact, shortly after the airing of the “Perverts in the Park” segment, a male friend and I decided to spend the afternoon at the park walking the hiking trials.  As we entered the park by car, a group of people took note of two men, came running toward the car screaming “perverts,” and wielded signs with further derogatory comments.  Our day of hiking was spoiled because we were no more than one-side of a box – the homosexual side.

What we seem to be complaining about with the Newsweek article is that it perpetuates this idea that gays have no depth outside of our sexual orientation. We are simply faggots, queers, perverts and sinners – a class of person which deserves no respect.  The article’s point, simply put, is that an out gay actor cannot be accepted in a straight role.  In that respect, it is true. The majority cannot perceive “gay” people as much more than just “gay” people (just look to votes on same-sex marriage rights, the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if you won’t take my word for it).

While an out gay actor may have the range and ability to play it straight, heterosexists cannot see past sexual orientation.  This is not the fault of the character playing gay, it’s the fault of the social stigma associated with being gay.  Once a person is out, they are all too often exclusively defined by their sexual orientation.

In fact, sexual orientation is such a defining matter when it is anything but “heterosexual” that there is no need for confirmation from the queerly-accused before society starts scoffing.  Take Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, as an example.  While we’ve heard a bit about her judicial experience, pro-international law viewpoint and go-go executive branch policies, we’ve mostly heard accusations or denials about her sexual orientation.  Even the White House has intervened, stating that Kagan is not gay.  So, why the big uproar?  Because, as politicians know too well, if Kagan is gay, she is nothing more to the majority of Americans.  Her talents, education and abilities cease to matter and her sexual orientation is the only defining factor needed to deny her a position on the highest court of the United States.