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Archive for June, 2010

You Have the Right to be Fired

June 27, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Discrimination, Featured

The Equality SummerYou have the right to be fired. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have the right to an attorney. Anything you say will not help you and will most certainly be used against you. Unless you are straight. You have the right to be straight and cisgender.

You don’t know what I am talking about? Read on.

HELP WANTED: I am recruiting you to end straight, cisgender privilege. I am a very well employed, with all rights granted by the US government, married, straight, cisgender, white collar, white woman. And I need you. That’s right. I have everything. And I need you. In fact, it’s not just me. It’s we. Who are we? Keep reading.

Did you know that you have the right to be fired just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? In 38 states you can be fired for your gender identity or gender expression. In 29 states you can be fired for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Let’s put that in a different perspective. In 12 states out of 50, you are protected if you are transgender. Twelve. That’s a little more than 20% of states. In 21 states out of 50, you are protected if you are LGB. Twenty one.

You can give up this right. You can fight. You have the right to relentlessly advocate for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. You remember ENDA, don’t you? That legislation that has had various forms for at least 16 years, probably more? But isn’t ENDA dead? It is if we let it die. A small group of activists started talking. We know that if ENDA does not pass in this term, and if Democrats lose seats in the Senate or even the House, then ENDA will die. Again. We decided to do something about it. Who are we? Keep reading.

We are pushing ENDA this summer. How will we do this? We will not march on Washington D.C. Washington D.C. will come to us. We need one to five people from every state to visit their Senators. We need one to five people from every Congressional District to visit their representatives. Every summer, Senators and Representatives are back home. We are going to make appointments. to visit with them or their staffers. We are going to publish the schedule. And when I say we, that includes you.

We are asking YOU to volunteer to visit your Senator or Congressperson. If you choose to volunteer,  we will train you on what to say and do. We are asking every group out there that supports ENDA to speak up. We invite all LGBT groups. We invite straight allies. We invite people who have never spoken up, never made a phone call. We do not care if you are Gay, Inc, GetEqual, GLAAD, a blogger, NEM, Equality Across America, PFLAG,  or just an individual. We are not enemies with each other, no matter what our differences.

As a straight woman, a straight ally, I am going to tell you this. There is a wide range of thinking about strategies in the LGBT activist community. The strategies range from not rocking the boat to rocking the world. Working inside the system, disrupting the system. These discussions are all valid. You know why? Because none of us has the magic answer to what will create change. So we try different approaches. The sad part is that we argue about them, sometimes in non-constructive ways.

But I know one thing. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. I know that it cannot hurt to go directly to our representatives, face to face. I know that it cannot hurt to call them, email them, fax them. How do we know this? Because we have seen it work for other groups, including our enemies.

We do have a top priority list. Senators who are on the fence. Why? Because we know the House will pass ENDA. It has 202 sponsors. The problem is the Senate. And until the Senate votes are there, the bill will stay in committee.

In order to break this cycle of insanity (and it is insanity), we must intervene.

We must get the votes from the Senators. We will be publishing our strategy soon. I can hear you now. You have called your representative. You have emailed, written letters, sent faxes. You have attended protests. You think marriage equality is more important. You think DADT is more important. Here is news for you. DOMA and DADT can fall. But their fall does not ensure protection from being fired.

Who are we? We range from Washington insiders to radicals who believe in direct actions. We range from straight to gay to lesbian to  transgender. (Wanted: Bisexual to join our team.)  We range from atheists to ministers. We range from college students to ready-to-be grandparents. We are a small group of people. We have no name. We have no money. We are not asking you to stop using other strategies. We are not asking you to be assimilated or pledge allegiance. We believe in the power of voices. All voices.

I cannot guarantee success. We have no magic wand. We are not delusional. We understand the system. We understand the need. And we understand that some Senators are afraid. But we are not afraid. We may fail. But if we do not try, failure is guaranteed. It’s that simple.

What do I, as a straight, cisgender woman, gain from this? Nothing for myself. Everything for the world.  I cannot be fired for being straight. So I do not want to hear that you are protected in your state, that your employer has protections or that you feel it cannot happen to you. I do not want to hear that you do not have time for a phone call or an email. Because this is a community. If one is not equal, none are equal.

I want you to volunteer. One simple mission. Tell our representatives we need ENDA. It’s time. It’s long overdue.

Your right to be fired will remain guaranteed. Unless we pass ENDA. So where do you sign up? Reply here – or go to the Facebook group ENDA Summer 2010 for more information.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, 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. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

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Texas GOP Official Platform Calls for Imprisonment of Homosexuals and Supportive Heterosexuals

June 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Texas GOP calls for imprisonment of homosexualsI’m not a big fan of Democrats right now.  In fact, I’m so upset with their negotiations to be bi-partisan, I actually considered not voting for a single democrat this November and instead voting for an independent or abstaining my vote altogether.  Many LGBT people have made calls for a boycott of the democrats – no money and no votes.  But I live in Texas and that changes things for me.

The Texas GOP has released their “2010 State Republican Party Platform” and its filled with hate and bigotry.  One blogger even likened the platform to being very similar to that of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill – and they are absolutely right!

The anti-gayness of the Republican platform began with their principles.  Principle #6 begins, :

We believe in… Self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman.

That principle concurs with roughly 76% of Texas voters (which was the percentage that voted to support an amendment to the Texas Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, or anything even similar to it).

But it gets far more frightening.  Under the bold, uppercase heading, “Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health” the Texas GOP outlines why I should be legislated back into the closet and how they intend to do it:

Family and Defense of Marriage – We support the definition of marriage as a God–ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. *** We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist of and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse.

You’ll note that the Texas GOP is asking that marriage rights in other states be revoked as well.

Family Values – We affirm that this section is a response to the attacks on traditional family values. These include well  funded, vigorous political and judicial attempts by powerful organizations and branches of the government to force acceptance, affirmation and normalization of homosexual behavior upon school children, parents, educational institutions, businesses, employees, government bodies and religious institutions and charities. These aggressive, intolerant efforts marginalize as bigots anyone who dissents.

You’ll notice that the shoe fits.  They are attempting to legislate me.  They are attempting to deny me fundamental rights they enjoy based upon, as evidenced by this proposal, their belief in an intolerant and uncaring “God.”  Here’s the definition of bigot to make it clear that they are what they claim not to be: “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

Thus, I am a bigot too because I’m intolerant of the belief that I am inferior as a human to the Texas GOP.  I accept and embrace that fact.  The only difference between my bigotry and theirs is that I don’t tell them who they should marry.

But wait, it gets worse and here’s where we start sounding very Ugandan:

Marriage Licenses – We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.

That’s right.  If you are a heterosexual clergy member who decides to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex person, you go to prison.  You don’t have to have gay sex anymore to go to prison in Texas (as you did in the past), now you can go just for supporting a life commitment between two people of the same-sex.

The Texas GOP then goes on to ignorantly declare that homosexuality:

  • tears at the fabric of society,
  • contributes to the breakdown of the family unit,
  • leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases, and
  • is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

But wait, it gets worse… still:

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

They then “demand” that Congress withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy – in other words, because the federal courts said people can’t go to prison for oral sex, Texas Republicans are pissed.  They want people who have oral sex to go to prison.  They are, again bigots, like me.  Only, I don’t want them to go to prison for having vaginal to penis sex.  I couldn’t care less about their missionary position.

I am a Texan, for those that do not know.  I live and work in Texas and have lived in Texas the bulk of my life.  It’s always been “home” to me in spite of the conservative nature of Texas politics.  It has, however, become clear that Texas may soon begin to invade my home, arrest people like me, my friends and my loved ones.  From the tone set by the GOP, they may decide it’s OK to open fire on homosexuals in the street.  There is no stopping this level of hatred.  They aren’t trying to stop us from marrying, they are trying to make us extinct.

So what should I do now? Find a friend in another country and find out that country’s laws regarding political asylum and make arrangements with that friend for when we are forced to flee from the land of the free and the home of the brave?

There is one principle of the Texas GOP that I support:

Americans having the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities, and the unalienable right to defend themselves.

This is my home – and I will use my “unalienable right” to defend it.

Community College District Won’t Discriminate – Except in the Bathroom

June 18, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Bathroom discrimination - a okay!The San Antonio LGBT Community has been petitioning the Alamo Community College District, which oversees 5 community college campuses in the San Antonio area, to amend its existing policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.  The initiative has largely been led by the student organization, Gay and Lesbian Association of San Antonio College.  After two meetings and many conversations with the Board, the ACCD has agreed to vote on a policy which would include sexual orientation, but not gender identity/expression.

However, in what could be called an effort to be inclusive, the Chancellor for ACCD, Bruce H. Leslie, issued a “Chancellor’s Clarification” citing the existing policies against discrimination based upon gender to be inclusive of “gender identity.”  In the clarification, the Chancellor writes:

The Alamo Colleges values and affirms the diversity of its students and employees. The Alamo Colleges also supports inclusiveness that recognizes, values, and reflects the diversity of our community. This inclusiveness extends to transgendered individuals.

Sounds pretty good, right? But the Chancellor didn’t stop there.  While in one breath he declares discrimination against transgender individuals to be a violation of policy, in the next he condones discrimination:

…nothing in this clarification or the policies or procedures shall be construed to establish discrimination or harassment based on gender identity due to the denial of access to shared facilities in which being seen unclothed (even partially, such as in restrooms) is unavoidable.

Thus, denial of the use of a public restroom to transgender persons will not be construed as discrimination under the policy.  I believe the popular term for this is, “FAIL!”

In a meeting with the San Antonio Gender Association last night, representatives of the LGBT community discussed an approach to deal with this harmful “Clarification” and the pending vote on inclusion of sexual orientation in the non-discrimination policy.  I sat in on the meeting and have never been so proud of our community.  LGB person after LGB person agreed that we will not leave the “T” behind.

On Tuesday, June 22, we will again appear before the board and ask the board to postpone decision on these policies for a period of 90 days for the purpose of: (1) additional education; (2) allow reconsideration for inclusion of both sexual orientation AND gender identity/expression in the policy; and (3) a retraction of the Chancellor’s Clarification.

This decision is not without critics.  Some LGB people feel that moving forward with the exclusionary policy would best serve the community and we can fight for transgender inclusion at a later date. But they forget our history.

Some readers may note the similarity between this current issue and the ENDA episode where HRC staffers drafted a version of ENDA which was not “gender identity” inclusive.  Although it was clear that the purpose was to ensure that protections for sexual orientation would make it through the House and Senate, the authors of the proposal defended their position claiming that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided protection for “gender identity” under the heading “gender.”  However, it’s widely accepted that the real reason was that we could not get an inclusive ENDA passed (at that time) without throwing the “T” under the bus.

While Title VII should provide discrimination protection based upon gender identity/expression, that position is, at best, only partially correct.  The Supreme Court decision in Ulane (1982) clearly excluded transgender people from the definition of “gender” as it applied to Title VII.  Although a subsequent decision by the Supreme Court in 1989 (Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins) seemed to redefine “gender” in Title VII to include gender expression (or more specifically, discrimination based upon gender stereotypes), lower court’s continue to cite the Ulane decision as precedent (even as recently as this year!).  The rare exception seems to be within the 9th Circuit, which has cited the Price Waterhouse decision to be inclusive of gender identity/expression in some instances.

The ramifications of the former exclusive ENDA proposal were far reaching, rattled our community to its core and underscored our own prejudices, fears, intolerance and selfishness.  We must learn from our history and our present and unite in order to establish full equality for all of our brothers and sisters.

Anti-Equality Messiah, Maggie Gallagher, Wants Her Equal Protection and to Eat it Too!

June 17, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Marriage Equality

National Organization for Marriage - the Anti-Gay NOM NOM NOMAssuming yesterday’s closing arguments are any indication of which way Judge Walker will rule in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger Prop 8 case, it looks like an obvious victory for marriage equality advocates.  In a statement on the National Organization for [Heterosexual Only] Marriage’s website the group’s messiah, Maggie Gallagher, seemed to admit this defeat, stating:

Americans have a right to vote for marriage. Ted Olson doesn’t seem to understand the argument, and judging from today’s exchanges neither does Judge Walker. I expect Judge Walker will overrule Prop 8.

But what makes marriage different from other things on which Americans don’t really have the right to vote, like for president in the landmark case, Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)?  In that case, the Supreme Court negated the recount of votes (cast by Americans) which effectively secured the previously certified win of George W. Bush in Florida and gave him the necessary electoral votes to be President (like it or not).  Why was that ruling “ok” but a ruling to grant civil rights to a suspect class of people that were taken away by voters not “ok?”  I’m sure Attorney Cooper would answer with something about the natural creation of children – as that’s about all he could come up with in the closing arguments for any question posed by Judge Walker.

The real parallel of the two cases is the rationale used by the Supreme Court in determining George W. Bush was the winner.  In its decision, the Court declared, in part, that the method for recounting ballots used in Florida was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states, “no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  That clause was included within the Constitution of the United States in an attempt to prevent violations of the well known standard, “all men are created equal.”  The Supreme Court decided that there was no “equal” standard for counting votes in Florida so votes in one county might be counted one way, while votes in another county might be counted another.  This logistical problem was enough to invalidate the right to vote based upon the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (as least in the Court’s opinion at that time).

In the Prop 8 case, we clearly have a much more blatant violation of the Equal Protection Clause than we saw in Bush v. Gore.  There is no hypothetical “it might happen” in the Prop 8 debacle, there is an “it did happen and will continue to happen.”

Stupid Things People Say About Gays, The Prop 8 Trial Series, Part 8

June 16, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Today, closing statements began in the Prop 8 trial.  Prior to the closing arguments, Judge Walker submitted numerous thought provoking questions to both sides.  Both sides answered all questions, although many of the questions were directed only to one side of the issue.  The Defendant-Intervenors (the ones who oppose marriage equality), responded, in my opinion, very poorly to all questions, but one stood out.  Judge Walker’s second question asked:

Aside from the testimony of Mr. Blakenhorn, what evidence in the record supports a finding that same-sex marriage has or could have negative social consequences?  What does the evidence show the magnitude of these consequences to be?

The equality opponents essentially provided three summary answers on the negative social consequences of same-sex marriage:

  1. same-sex marriage will change the public meaning of marriage;
  2. a change in the social meaning of marriage will unquestionably have real world consequences;
  3. whatever those consequences are, the will be momentous.

They then quote Professor Cott’s explanation of what will happen if same-sex marriage is adopted: “One could point to earlier watersheds, but perhaps none quite so explicit as this particular turning point.”  So, what are those watersheds Professor Cott refers to?  Here are the examples given:

‘there can be no doubt that the recognition of gay marriages will affect as great a transformation in the nature of marriage as that from polygamous to monogamous or from arranged to unarranged marriage.’ (Quoting Joseph Raz)

‘Same-sex marriage is a breathtakingly subversive idea.’ (Quoting E.J. Graff)

‘enlarging the concept [of marriage] to embrace same-sex couples would necessarily transform it into something new.’ (Quoting William Eskridge)

‘the shared societal meaning of marriage… has always been the union of a man and a woman.  To alter that meaning would render a profound change in the public consciousness of a social institution of ancient origin.’ (Quoting from Lewis v. Harris, 908 A.2d 196 (N.J. 2006)

It sounds like they have no answer, right?  They cannot give one specific example of a real consequence to allowing same-sex marriage and resort to the tactics of declaring marriage about children and procreation, not love and commitment.  In fact, they even admit that they can’t answer the question, stating, “Professor Cott also admits that it is not possible to predict with precision the consequences that will flow from same-sex marriage.”  They then go on to grasp at more straws and declared that allowing same-sex marriage will “change its focus from the needs of children to the desires of the adult partners…”

Anyone else hear the gong?

As if that isn’t painful enough, they begin relying on marriage statistics that have no bearing, or are so insignificant that they can’t possible be a proper litmus test, including an annual 0.7% decrease in marriage from 2000 – 2008 in the Netherlands after an annual 0.2% increase in marriages in the years from 1994 – 2000.  Note that there is no consideration given for economic factors, such as a severe global recession – it’s simply the fault of gay marriage.

But perhaps most significantly, what is likely a “typographical error” in their submission, the anti-equality folks state, “Refining marriage to include same-sex unions…”

Yep… making marriage equal would certainly “refine” marriage.  I’m very happy we found a point of agreement.

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

Stay up to date on all things Prop 8 at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker Website, with live blogging from Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs.

2010 – The Year of the Lesbian Parent.

June 14, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Rep.-WA)Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (Rep-WA) voted no on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, also more formally known as the Patrick Amendment to H.R. 5136, which would repeal the discriminatory policy banning openly gay service members from defending freedom and equality.  In fact, Rep. McMorris-Rodgers has only supported 3% of progressive actions, but has supported, either through voting or co-sponsorship, 61% of legislation which is considered “regressive” – or rather that which, “erodes freedom, knowledge and security.”   Here are a few examples of her regressive legislation support:

  • Amendment 35 to H.R. 2647 was proposed to counter the current push to cover-up American military and interrogation activities. Amendment 35 would require military interrogations to be videotaped, with an exception provided at times when there may not be time to set up a camera.  Cathy McMorris-Rodger’s voted against this measure.
  • H.R. 11, also known as The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a bill that simply says that workers cannot be expected to file suit for compensation for wage discrimination before they actually find out that they have been discriminated against.  Cathy McMorris-Rodger’s voted against this measure.
  • H.R. 2608, was introduced after the government of Washington, DC voted to approve same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. H.R. 2608 seeks to overturn the local decision of DC government by imposing a congressional prohibition on same-sex marriage in Washington, DC. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers co-sponsored this discriminatory legislation.

Here’s an expression I’m sure you’ve heard, “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  Cathy McMorris-Rodgers has now sponsored a bill, which on its surface appears acceptable, simple and certainly non-controversial.  But when you read the text of the bill, you find a phrase that can be very disturbing, particularly to same-sex couples with children.

H. Con. Res. 285 was introduced to recognize the important role that fathers play in the lives of their children and families and to support the goals and ideals of designating 2010 as the Year of the Father.  Sounds fairly benign, right?  But what are the goals and ideals of designating 2010 as the Year of the Father?  From the text of the bill, we find this statement:

Whereas it is well documented that children involved with loving fathers are significantly more likely to have healthy self-esteems, exhibit empathy and prosocial behavior, avoid high risk behaviors, have reduced antisocial behavior and delinquency in boys, have better peer relationships, and have higher occupational mobility relative to parents…

Anyone else see the problem? Isn’t it also well documented that Lesbian mothers are better at raising children to be more self-confident, do better academically and are even LESS likely to have behavioral problems?  In fact, here’s what TIME reported on the research:

The authors found that children raised by lesbian mothers — whether the mother was partnered or single — scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression. ‘We simply expected to find no difference in psychological adjustment between adolescents reared in lesbian families and the normative sample of age-matched controls,’ says [researcher Nanette] Gartrell. ‘I was surprised to find that on some measures we found higher levels of [psychological] competency and lower levels of behavioral problems. It wasn’t something I anticipated.’ In addition, children in same-sex-parent families whose mothers ended up separating, did as well as children in lesbian families in which the moms stayed together.

So, here’s to 2010 – the Year of the Lesbian Parent.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: What Do You Tell A Seven Year Old About Homosexuality?

June 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Representative Ike Skelton from Missouri is against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (“DADT”), which bans service in the military by openly gay people, because he doesn’t want to open a national dialogue about homosexuality. Specifically, he doesn’t want to have to force families to explain homosexuality to their children. Setting aside the absurdity that repealing DADT will come up at the dinner table with our children, let’s talk about the real issue here. Homo-ignorance.

Was there ever a moment in the LGBT movement more perfect than this for Geekgirl to speak out?

Mr. Skelton sounds like he is, what I call, homo-ignorant. Let’s be honest here and take off the politics. A lot of straight people don’t know what to say to their children about gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender individuals. Heck, many of them don’t know what to say about straight relationships.

We’ll talk about what to say. But first a little story. When I was in 5th grade I watched two boys fighting and one of them said the word fuck. I didn’t know what it meant. Being the straight A student that I was, I turned to my dictionary. No word. So I asked my mother. She slapped me across the face and sent me to my room without an answer. I remember sitting there thinking, “hmm, whatever this word means, it must be good because it has power.”  My parents never told me about sex. Imagine my horror when my best friend told me that sperm go into your stomach through your belly button and that is how you get pregnant. She never did say where the sperm came from.

The point of that little story is that parents don’t know what to do when they feel uncomfortable. Having grown up to be a biologist, I was determined not to make that mistake with my own children. When my son was born, I read a lot about how and when to explain sex and sexuality to a child. I wanted my son to grow up healthy – both physically and psychologically when it came to sex. I remember when our son was four years old. He knew that my friend Sandra liked girls. She didn’t have a partner at the time, but I had already explained this to him. I remember he said to me, “So, it’s ok if girls love other girls?”

I said, “Of course, love is important.”

His answer came in the form of a four year old experiencing relief, “That’s good. Because I love Sandra and I want her to be happy.” I’m proud to say that Sandra and Kim have been part of our family’s life to this day. They adore our son and he adores them.

Explaining gays and lesbians to a 7 year old can be this simple. Some people are born attracted to the same sex. Two girls can feel the same love for each other that a girl and a boy can. The same is true for two boys. Love is love. Children instinctively understand love and family. It makes them feel safe.

People have a tendency to make sexual orientation about sex acts. But do we ever explain straight couples this way to our children? “Well, Johnny, meet your Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob from California. You haven’t met them before. They are married. And when they have sex, Uncle Bob puts his penis inside Auntie Sue’s vagina. Oh Bob, do you also have oral sex?” Of course we don’t explain it that way. That’s absurd.

So, am I saying don’t explain how gay people have sex?  Children do need to know about the physical acts of sex. Part of that conversation must include preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, how sex and sexuality affect us psychologically. Children need to know about “bad touches,” respecting and being respected.

But if you never talk about gay sex, it’s fine. That isn’t what they need to learn from you. They need to learn that all humans, all couples, experience love. They need to learn that commitment and respect are very important in all relationships. Our children are not born with prejudice or discomfort. It is learned.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, 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.  More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

Wait, Did Kay Bailey Hutchison Just Say I am a Phone Sex Operator?

June 10, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Anyone who has attempted to organize an event on a shoe-string budget knows the importance of free services.  Many of these services are available on the web.  There are sites that provide free  , business cards, email marketing tools and even teleconferencing services.  I’ve used many of such freebies on the net in order to organize rallies, protests and conferences.  One of the most important tools that I’ve found is free telephone conferencing.

While I’m perfectly capable of joining in a couple of people on a call, I can’t join in the large number of people it sometimes requires to get the activism ball rolling, in spite of the nearly limitless powers of my Android mobile phone. To accomplish this, I signed up for an account with freeconference.com, a telecommunications provider which assigns a “call-in” number and “pin code” to me for use whenever I need it.  I love the service.  It’s convenient, easy to use and doesn’t cost me a small fortune like the teleconferencing services from AT&T.

Recently, the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee jeopardized my ability to use these services for free.  In response to a proposal that would eliminate this free and much needed service, freeconference.com and its subsidiary, Global Conference Partners, launched a campaign asking the users of the service to contact their representatives and let them know how important the service is to them.  I was one of the 100,000 users that responded in the first week.  While Lamar Smith and John Cornyn responded in typical political fashion with something to the affect of, “You’re comments are noted and considered,” Kay Bailey Hutchison took it a bit further… perhaps too far.  In fact, after reading her response I wasn’t sure if she was calling me a phone sex operator or a mob boss for telecommunications fraud.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, wireless and long distance carriers pay access fees to local exchange carriers for calls to those carriers’ local subscribers.  Rural carrier are allowed to charge significantly higher access fees than carriers in more urban areas, based on the rationale that rural areas have lower call volume, but higher infrastructure costs.

In order to increase their call volume, rural carriers sometimes work with phone sex and conference call providers to route their calls and then share the profit of the fees collected.  This is known as ‘traffic pumping,’ and is a source of gaming that results in higher costs for companies and consumers.

Obviously, I appreciate Kay Bailey Hutchison’s position that routing calls through a rural access point to charge higher access fees should be properly monitored, but here’s what tripped me up a bit.  I never mentioned phone sex.  In fact, as soon as I read those words, it became clear to me how the republicans remain in power.  The issue of grassroots organizers being able to use a telephone conferencing service at no charge was suddenly about phone sex… morality.  The issue, which concerned me because I can’t afford huge teleconferencing fees, was now “Do you really want phone sex operators routing your teleconference?”

This same tactic is being used in Uganda to promote the anti-homosexuality bill.  Martin Ssempa has learned well from the American evangelicals who have visited the .  His declarations that not murdering and/or imprisoning homosexuals will result in homosexuals “eating the poo poo of our children” have taken a human rights issue out of context (and ridiculously out of context) and turned it into a sexual morality argument.  After all, straight people eat poo poo to.

But in the spirit of fair play, let’s use the republican evangelical logic and create some arguments that would support LGBT issues:

  • Not allowing same-sex marriage increases divorce rates.
  • If same-sex marriage is banned, men will drink the breast milk of their wives.
  • Banning gays in the military will result in heterosexual orgies.
  • Forbidding same-sex couples from uniting with their foreign partner means they will seek out an American to corrupt.
  • Firing LGBT people for their sexual orientation/gender identity results in increased homelessness. (oh wait… that one is too logical).

I think you get the point.  If you are arguing something you can’t win, find a way to turn it into a sexual and/or morality issue and “ta da” you’re a right-winger.