Huffington Post and others have been reporting possible voter fraud in North Carolina, including ballots that exclude Amendment 1, which bans same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships. This, however, takes the cake when it comes to intimidating voters:
I was given a ballot that was already filled out for Amendment One. I made them give me a new one. – N. King
In spite of being legally married in the U.S. State of Iowa, Inger Knudson-Judd and Philippa Knudson-Judd don’t get to spend much time together or with their 12 year old daughter. In fact, prior to this most recent 5 week visit, the couple hadn’t seen each other in 6 months. Why? The Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) allows the Federal Government to refuse to recognize Inger and Philippa’s marriage and Philippa is not a U.S. citizen. These stories are all too common.
In early April, 2012, five same-sex couples who are not able to obtain green cards for their foreign-born spouses filed a lawsuit challenging DOMA’s prohibitions against gay couples petitioning for legal status for their spouses. Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality who is leading the charge, stated that their group has asked that the Obama Administration to change these policies, or at least suspend green card applications rather than rejecting them until DOMA challenges can be resolved. Neilson explained:
We have recently gotten a definitive no from the administration on that request, so we sort of feel like we’re at the end of the line on advocacy. Our next step is to take it to the courts.”
Which brings us to the photo. Yesterday, Inger had to drive her wife to the airport after a five week visit and they don’t know when they will next see each other. So when I opened my Facebook news feed, I saw this photo from Inger:
Inger and Philippa say Goodbye
And my heart broke.
Via Wipe Out Homophobia on Facebook, Inger released this response:
We have a 12 year old daughter and so are trying to do things the legal way…, but [we] have hit road blocks every step of the way. *** It is really hard to hold your family when their hearts are breaking, my arms just aren’t that long. After 4 1/2 years of trying to find a solution, nothing has changed.
Some say that DOMA protects families, but does this family look protected? These are the faces of our families; this is the real suffering caused by discrimination.
Every Valentine’s Day several mass wedding ceremonies are held in front of the Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio, Texas. For over 20 years, Pastor Joe Sullivan, a former Democratic candidate for US House of Representatives – Texas District 23, has presided over the ceremonies. Last year, a group of same-sex couples participated for the first recorded time with no incident. Although after the event, Sullivan stated, “They don’t have a license. If they took vows, it really means nothing.”
The above video was compiled by John Dean Domingue, an organizer for DANSA who was present at the ceremony. According to organizers, Pastor Sullivan noted that the same-sex couples were there solely to be repulsive and would be subjected to punishment by God. Of note was the commentary that people should be respectful of the law. It is obvious (in the most sarcastic way possible) that respect for unjust laws has been a traditional tool used by minorities when laws are unjust. Showing respect for oppressive laws resulted in the removal of Jim Crow, women’s rights to vote and a slew of other injustices being repealed by the majority.
But this is not the focus. After the attacks by the pastor, one of the event’s organizers, Julie Pousson, contacted County officials to request a time slot for a more affirming ceremony next year. She was advised that Past Sullivan had the Courthouse booked for “the foreseeable future.” In response, Ms. Pousson has launched a petition requesting a change in the policy and will be requesting a timeslot to be set aside for a more affirming ceremony at a Commissioner’s Court hearing on Tuesday.
In an interview with the San Antonio Current, Sullivan stated that he doesn’t hate homosexuals, but hates homosexuality and noted that the behavior of the approximately ten LGBT couples present was an embarrassment:
The behavior I’m taking about is they were hugging and kissing and licking each other’s faces, acting like, you know, like – I don’t even know if animals act like that. … They were very, I think, disturbing and almost animalistic there, a couple of them. They were trying to make a display of what they call, I guess, affection. It wasn’t affection to me. It was almost assault.
The Current reporter who was present noted that they did not see any heavy petting from the couples.
The irony of this situation is that Pastor Sullivan’s ceremony is held on a day which celebrates St. Valentine. As Ms. Pousson stated, St. Valentine is the patron saint of marriage equality. Although the exact history of Bishop Valentine’s life is unclear, it is well documented that he was executed by the Roman Emperor for performing illegal marriages. Some stories state that he married Christians under Roman rule, which insisted the Roman Gods be worshipped, while other stories claim he performed marriages for Roman soldiers, an act explicitly forbidden by the Emperor.
Thus it seems that, in order to celebrate St. Valentine who disrespected the law, Pastor Sullivan and his ilk demanded respect for the laws banning marriage between consenting, loving adults. For this and many other reasons, Pastor Sullivan wins a featured spot here in Stupid Things People Say About Gays.
*WARNING: The below commentary contains links to subject matter that may not be appropriate for all viewers. Some of the information contained on “The Gathering of Pastors” website may cause nausea, vomiting and/or increased blood pressure and heart attack or stroke.*
The City Manager of San Antonio, Sheryl Sculley, completed and introduced the new budget for San Antonio with an included provision to allow for financing of Domestic Partnership benefits for city employees in same-sex relationships. While providing healthcare should not be controversial, the right wing attacked. Cult leaders began organizing against the budget initiative under the title “The Gathering of Pastors“. The City Council endured countless hours of hearings, hundreds of emails and telephone calls and listened as lie after lie poured from the mouths of purportedly Christian people.
I had the pleasure of being actively involved in support of this initiative. In spite of my objections to the fact that Domestic Partnership benefits are only needed because same-sex couples are not afforded equal protections under present marriage laws, it was clear to me that no one deserved to be denied access to affordable healthcare. After all, “Why shouldst thou not take even as much pleasure in beholding a counterfeit stone, which thine eye cannot discern from a right stone?” (Thomas More)
With the assistance of an entire community of peoples, we worked tirelessly (o.k. I got pretty damn tired) to counter the arguments against the benefits package.
But The Gathering of cult leaders did not stop. They argued that domestic partnership benefits lowered the bar from marriage and allowed more people to receive benefits, which would prohibit or limit the motivation of an employee to commit to a legally binding relationship (i.e. marriage). They went on to indicate that the unwillingness of an employee to make such a commitment reveals selfishness and a weakness in morality. However, according to the Cult’s website, “Homosexual couples can never be married per definition.” Therefore their argument fails.
A “homosexual” employee of the city who is in a long term relationship is barred by law from entering into the very “legally binding relationship” to which the Gathering refers. To prohibit someone from conforming to an action, then to punish them for not having undertaken that action is the truest form of selfishness. It is for the jail keeper to do these things, not kings (and yes, that is a paraphrase of Thomas More).
On Wednesday night, September 14th, I joined other community members in council chambers for “Citizens to be Heard,” a moment when citizens may address council regarding matters before them. Many spoke in favor of domestic partnership benefits, but without surprise, the cult spoke in opposition. One of the opponents (and some day I will catch her name) was a woman who assaulted members of the Direct Action Network of San Antonio with holy water for unfurling a banner at a hate rally that read “Homophobia and Transphobia Kills.” Another man, who declared himself a minister, stood at the dais and compared domestic partnership benefits to “the morning after” pill and abortion. He then noted that the City has the moral authority to be a “no kill animal” city, but supports murdering babies. All of which were blatantly lies, but most notable his assertion that the City maintains a “no kill” status.
At the end of the meeting, this same man returned to address city council and posed this question in front of all attendees (including children):
What is more dangerous, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, riding an iron horse or riding somebody bareback?
Although the question was improper and likely rhetorical, I still fail to see the relationship between barebacking (having sex without a condom) and domestic partnership benefits. While I assume he was making reference to the risk of HIV infection (as accusations were made repeatedly that nearly all gays have AIDS), he failed to address the fact that the subculture of “barebacking” is not strictly a homosexual phenomena. In fact, the appeal and marketability of pornography depicting barebacking is prevalent in both heterosexual and homosexual pornography. See Chapter 2, “Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Bare Backing.”
One thing that became clear from the Cult commentators – they are obsessed with sex, more particularly, that gays have sex. In fact, I was very much reminded of the anti-gay cult leader in Uganda who constantly refers to gays as eating “da poo poo” of their partners.
These cult leaders often ignore the fact that sexual subcultures do not exist solely within the framework of “homosexuality.” The moral objections are misguided, misdirected and misconstrued – but even so, consensual sexual practices should not be grounds for denying healthcare benefits. If it were, no politician and fewer evangelicals would be safe.
For the record, the city passed the budget with the inclusion of domestic partnership benefits for City employees.
Sunday, May 22nd would have been the 81st birthday of slain civil rights leader, Harvey Milk. While cities throughout the country marked the event with various marches, rallies and celebrations, something much more sinister was taking place in Portland, Oregon. Brad Forkner and Christopher Rosevear where walking across the Hawthorne Bridge from Waterfront Park to the Eastbank Esplanade. Like many couples, they were holding hands. Sadly, unlike most couples, their hand holding did not go without notice. The two men were attacked from behind by five other men. Both men survived, with Rosevear receiving lacerations on his lip and above his eye which required stitches.
The community in Portland has responded, launching the “Hands Across Hawthorne Bridge” event to demonstrate against violent crimes. The event requests attendees to come to Hawthorne Bridge on Sunday, May 29th at 7:30 p.m. and hold hands in solidarity with the beaten men. However, not everyone has been so kind. Upon hearing of the event, one commenter had this to say:
“I think it’s undignified for men to hold hands in public. But I know I’m way in the minority on that. But if gays wanna do it, they should be prepared for it not being warmly received.”
Victim blaming has been in our vernacular since the early 70’s, when it was coined with respect to racism and social injustices; however, more recently it has been used as a means for people to justify rape, i.e.: “She was asking for it by wearing a short skirt.” The concept is largely unpopular except in cases of hate crimes against LGBTQ people. In fact, victim blaming is a useful tactic for murders of gay men, particularly. In one case, after inflicting 61 stab wounds and killing his neighbor, Joseph Biedermann, Terrence Hauser was acquitted by a jury thanks to victim blaming (he said Joseph had made a pass at him). This victim blaming is also known as “The Gay Panic” defense, and became popular after it was successfully used in 1995 by Jonathan Schmitz, a guest on the Jenny Jones show, who murdered Scott Amedure after he confessed he had a crush on Jonathan during the show.
So, should you meet up with our commenter friend in a dark ally, I suppose you could claim bashing their head into a wall was justifiable because they are ignorant… but violence begets violence, so instead, here’s to the organizers of the Hands Across Hawthorne Bridge and all of those who are taking a stand against violence and victim blaming.
NOTE: For more of the column, Stupid Things People Say About Gays, click here.
David Trevino stifles his anger long enough to smile for the camera.
Yesterday evening, about 2 dozen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, along with their allies, stood in front of the Granada Homes building where the “Proud Democrats” were hosting a fund raiser for the Bexar County Democratic Party (“BCDP”). Dan Ramos has previously announced that he would attend the event; however, he did not show up and organizers claim he was not invited. It seems though, that in Bexar County, there is no reason to be proud of being a democrat under Ramos’ leadership.
We believe in and support the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
But Dan Ramos isn’t listening to the Board or the people of Bexar County and beyond. In a press conference early yesterday morning, he refused to resign and reiterated his position that gay people are like, “white termites who have infiltrated the party much like termites infiltrate your house.”
Last night’s protestors were met mostly with support by those attending the fund raiser; however, a few people stood up against our plea for Dan Ramos’ resignation. In fact, the President of the organization, Jose “Joe” Gallagos, came out to tell the protestors that it was our fault so few people showed up at the fund raiser – (Hey Joe, it couldn’t possibly be because the people don’t want to give money to homophobia and racism, though, could it?
Perhaps most surprising was an accusation from an African American attendee. She was furious with the protestors as she walked up claiming that those that want Dan Ramos removed are “the whites.” Yet one of Dan Ramos’ choice comments in his tirade was, “I go back to an old very well-used slogan: blacks wanted to get their way because they were black.” While I find the comment terribly offensive and degrading to the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Rosa Parks, and many more heroes of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, the sentiment wasn’t echoed by this objector as one would expect.
Another objector was a resident of Granada Homes (which serves as a retirement community and Banquet Hall). She wasn’t upset that we were calling for Dan Ramos’ resignation, but instead felt we were blocking the doorway (which we were not). However, we started talking with the lady a bit about Mr. Ramos’ disparaging remarks against the disabled people – particularly kids born with Polio legs and not being able to kill them or sweep them under the rug. This struck a chord with the lady and she told us her own story of being taunted for being Hispanic by a fellow resident who claimed, “You Hispanics are nothing but the dirt under my feet.” We explained that we felt as angry as she does about the comments made by Dan Ramos and she departed with a bit more understanding of us.
One supporter immediately made me think of Will Phillips, who once said, “My generation is the change they fear the most.” Bobby, who appeared to be no more than 14 years old, and his friend were walking by the protest and noted our signs. They stopped, inquired and joined us for a short time. Bobby, a resident of Ft. Worth, Texas, was in town with family and was offended when he learned of Dan Ramos’ comments. I asked Bobby what made him stop and join us. In his social studies class in school, Bobby had wanted to take a poll of students about how they felt about Gay Rights. His teacher felt the subject would meet with parental disapproval and refused to allow Bobby to do the project. Bobby noted how “upset” he was that he couldn’t even ask questions of his peers about the issue, and decided he should stand with us to denounce Dan Ramos.
Dan Ramos’ comments don’t just reflect on Dan Ramos (although that’s the message the BCDP is desperately trying to relay to the public). Rather, they reflect on the BCDP as a whole. The BCDP is desperately seeking money to pay off the near $200,000 debt owed to the county after a nasty embezzlement charge, yet their only official spokesperson is making horrible accusations and disparaging remarks against a large part of the democratic base. So I ask you dear readers – would you give money to an organization that is spewing hate? I believe the answer is no – and neither will I.
In an open letter, City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker wrote:
All across this country people will be sharing Valentines Day with the ones they love. It is a bittersweet observation in the LGBT community, where we yearn for that day when we’ll have the right to marry the ones we love.
My life partner of 20 years and I would love to be able to wed in the state we call home. I know it will happen in my lifetime because the world is changing on LGBT issues. It is amazing to me the progress that we’ve made since my early activist days. At times the pace seems slow. It is also frustrating for those who are waiting, but I know it will happen.
Events like Freedom to Marry Day help bring attention and awareness to the issue. There can be no more positive public influence than a show of commitment between loving couples. Thank you for the work you are doing.
As we continue to wait for that day that I am certain will become reality, I am not going to let one day pass without letting my partner know how much I love her and how blessed I am to have her in my life.
Happy Valentines Day and Happy Freedom to Marry Day!
In Mayor Parker’s city, activists have had a long running tradition. Clergy and faith leaders from numerous religious traditions preside over a mass marriage ceremony of same-sex couples. The event is Texas’ largest and longest running same-sex wedding celebration. But this isn’t the only event you will see come Valentine’s Day.
Freedom to Marry Day events are happening all over the country. In cities like Austin, Texas (just a few hours from Mayor Parker), marriage counter protests will occur. Same-sex couples and allies will be taking up space at the clerk’s office as they request (and are ultimately denied) a marriage license.
The majority of the events are being coordinated between GetEQUAL and Marriage Equality USA with help from grassroots organizers. Others have popped up spontaneously around the country. To find out about events in your area or to add your event, visit http://www.requestmarriage.com.
Jude Stevens, jaysays.com author, converses with WBC in San Antonio, Texas
The Westboro Baptist Church (“WBC”), under the guidance of the Reverend Fred Phelps, has dedicated substantial time and resources in making the United States a living hell. Not only has the church spread hate-filled messages against the LGBTQ community to the masses, they have also attacked the United States as a whole because of its tolerance for LGBT people and failure to eradicate homosexuality.
Over the past several years, the WBC has gained notoriety for pickets of soldiers’ funerals. Now, in an effort to spread more hate and support violent action against Americans, the WBC has announced their intention to picket the funerals of those murdered in Saturday’s shooting at the Safeway in Tucson, Arizona.
LGBTQ people have followed the workings of the WBC closely, often finding unique ways to counter their pro-hate message. It’s no surprise that the LGBT advocacy group, Progressive Approach, has stepped up to the plate. The organization will be hosting a “Phelps-A-Thon” to counter-protest the WBC picket. The purpose of the “Phelps-A-Thon” is to raise many for the Anti-Violence Project of Southern Arizona, thereby helping a cause contrary to the message of the WBC. The organizers will be collecting pledges online for every minute WBC pickets the funeral.
Director of Phelps-A-Thon.com, Chris Mason, had this to say:
I believe everyone has the right to free speech, but protesting these funerals is beyond wrong, it is disgusting. A lot of people are angry with this and have emailed, asking us to do something. We feel this is an appropriate response to such hatred; while the Westboro Baptist Church is celebrating violence, they will also be raising funds to fight it.
We send our best wishes and support to the organizers. May peace always triumph.
As you may recall, Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup were married this past October. Their marriage was officiated via Skype by a person authorized to perform marriages by the District of Columbia, who was physically in DC at the time of the service. Mark and Dante decided to conduct their vows in their home state so that family and friends could be in attendance without the significant costs and problems of flying everyone to DC.
However, after the Skype wedding made headlines DC officials intervened and nullified the wedding on the grounds that Mark and Dante were not in the District at the time the ceremony was performed.
More recently, and in what can only be an effort to prevent future public relations disasters, a DC Clerk’s office posted this sign:
However, such provision is not presently included in the District of Columbia’s Official Code governing marital relationships (See: Division VII, Title 46, Subtitle I, Ch. 4). Instead, DC has taken upon itself to enforce a provision of law which does not exist. This means, if you or someone you know obtained a marriage license from the District of Columbia, but conducted the ceremony even inches outside the confines of the District’s border (perhaps for a better view of the ocean), your marriage may be nullified, too.
For example, let’s say you’ve lived and worked all your life in DC as has your future spouse. You and your spouse decide to get married, head off to the clerk’s office, get your license, abide by the 3 day waiting period, plan your ceremony, go to Little Falls Park (5.6 miles from the center of DC) and get married. YOU WERE NOT IN D.C.
Or let’s say you take a look at popular wedding places in the D.C. area and choose one of the top ten venues, Brookside Gardens. You are not in D.C., and therefore your marriage is not valid!
DC retroactively nullified the marriage of Mark and Dante due to this “requirement.” How many more marriages will they nullify? Will yours be next?
Although the Libertarian party has often pressed Congress on the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, a recent internal email from one of the party’s Board Members, Norm Olsen of Region 4, argues against the repeal, stating that, “The heterosexual soldier has a right to be free from unwanted sexual advances.” Here’s the full text of his “P.S.” remarks from a copy of the leaked email (all errors his own):
PS> This is written by a Libertarian individual who believes the that the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is fine and appropriate. I realize this will ruffle a whole flock of feathers. Please hear me out.
My son serves in the military, and is currently deployed in Afghanistan. While joining the military was his choice, the conditions of his deployment are not of his choice. With whom he is deployed is not his choice. I suggest that he and all other heterosexuals who have volunteered to serve for whatever reason have a right to be free from unwanted sexual advances. Under normal conditions, he could separate himself from such advances, or physically defend himself from such advances. Neither is appropriate or applicable in the combat situation; especially under those conditions where his physical safety is in jeopardy; specifically those case where he is dependent upon others for his survival.
The heterosexual soldier has a right to be free from unwanted sexual advances. It is said that the homosexual has a right to serve his country. In the ‘you and me alone in a foxhole situation’, you have two rights in conflict. You must solve to the highest level of morality. In the case of the heterosexual soldier, the morality is ‘I own my own body’. In the case of the gay soldier, the right is ‘I have a right to serve’. Which right holds the higher moral ground. No question in my mind.
The ‘Don’t ask,. don’t tell’ policy is a comprise here. If non-heterosexual individuals do not exhibit homosexual behavior in military situations, no one cares what their sexual proclivities are. If, however, they do insist on exhibiting sexual behavior in situations where such is militarily inappropriate, the right to serve loses to the higher moral ground: the right of those in a situation not of their choosing to own their own body. It could very well be that in certain cases this is not the manner in which the ‘Don’t’ ask, don’t tell’ policy is implemented, but improper implementation in certain cases does not invalidate the policy as a whole.
This is simply protecting the rights of the heterosexual soldier to be free from unwanted sexual advances in situations over which the heterosexual soldier has absolutely no choice or control; the only alternative being the firing squad for desertion. Further, the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is fairly liberal. Homosexuals are free to join the military, serve their country, and to improve their lives using the many benefits offered by the government to those who serve in the military. Heterosexuals are entitled to the same rights and benefits, without having to give up their right to own their own bodies.
Mr. Olsen’s statements are based upon a lot of assumptions/stereotypes. For example, he assumes that his son is so attractive to gay men that they cannot resist the urge to continually badger him with sexual advances. He also stereotypes homosexuals (and in his story he appears to specifically target gay men) by indicating that they will “exhibit homosexual behavior in military situations” because they do not have the ability to control themselves.
Apparently, Mr. Olsen is unaware of the current statistics regarding sexual abuse/assault in the military or that the Department of Defense developed the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program to confront the problems that currently exist. In fact, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made this announcement about sexual assault in the military (even though the U.S. Military doesn’t currently allow openly gay people to serve):
The Department has a no-tolerance policy toward sexual assault. This type of act not only does unconscionable harm to the victim; it destabilizes the workplace and threatens national security.
Now, if Mr. Olsen’s complaints weren’t already a serious problem in our military would Mr. Gates needed to have address the problem? Would an agency such as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program need to exist? No.
In 2009, there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving service members. That’s very nearly 9 assaults per day! A whopping 89% of all reported cases of sexual assault were made by women in the military, in spite of the fact that women make up only about 20% of the U.S. military. Of the total reported sexual assaults, only 2% were committed by female personnel.
Education goes a long way Mr. Olsen, discrimination goes nowhere.