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Archive for the ‘LGBT Lessons for Straight People’

National Organization for Marriage Launches NOH8 Campaign???

January 02, 2011 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People, Youth Issues

The National Organization for Marriage, (NOM), learned a new strategy in 2010: steal the phrases used by the movement pushing to legalize marriage for same sex couples. It started with “Hate is Not A Family Value.” More recently, they have been offended by the FCKH8 videos, whose purpose is to counter the rhetoric  put forward by groups like NOM.

If you’ve seen them, you’ll notice that, yes, the F word is used and in one particular video,  it is used by children.

NOM has decided to use this as their next marketing campaign. Their slogan? NOH8. Perhaps, in their infinite ignorance, they have never heard of the NOH8 campaign started by Adam Bouska, where people have NOH8 printed on their cheeks, wear duct tape, and are photographed.  I can’t wait for the copyright infringement battle to begin. Better, I can’t wait for NOM to wear duct tape over their mouths. Permanently.

Setting aside their continued lack of originality and twisting of every word, methinks NOM doth protest too much. If you read their blog you would think that the children in these videos are taught to use the F word in every sentence, their parents are awful, and a lawyer should be called to check into child abuse.

NOM has conveniently ignored the true message in this video. That would mean acknowledging the logic, courage, and compassion in the message of equality for all families. Yesterday I checked YouTube. The video has almost 2 million hits and the “Likes” outweigh the “Dislikes” 10 to 1.

NOM as an organization is doing everything in its power, and bank account, to appeal to fear and hate. When asked to back up their position that marriage is between one man and woman, all they have now is “it is special.” When interviewed publicly, they have been forced to retreat from religious arguments that God made it so, marriage is for procreation, or it has been this way for 5,000 years since none of those requirements are present in the law now for heterosexuals.

They have attempted to claim that they do not hate gay people, that this is only about the special institution of marriage. Yet in their blog and their Facebook group, Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman, they continue to promote a misinterpreted Biblical view that homosexuals choose their sexual orientation, they are sexual deviants, pedophiles, and are out to convert all of our children to homosexuality.

When has NOM stood up to protect any LGBT person? When the rash of suicides hit the mainstream media in September, they refused to support actions to stop bullying. If NOM were truly worried about what children are exposed to, they would pay attention to the statistics on bullying of youth and start a campaign to stop bullying and abusive behavior. Do they know that four out of five youth who are called homophobic slurs are actually straight?

Here are statistics on bullying for 2009 from GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. As a mother, I am far more concerned about the real harm that is being done to our children every single day in our schools and communities. It is far more traumatic than the use of the F word in a video. A video that comes with a warning label, by the way.

  • 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” frequently or often at school.
  • Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
  • The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.7 vs. 3.1).
  • Increased levels of victimization were related to increased levels of depression and anxiety and decreased levels of self-esteem.

I read Brian Brown’s Christmas letter on the NOM blog. He even included a photograph of his family with all of his children. One gay person who commented on the blog, trying to be calm and engage in productive discourse, stated that he disagreed with NOM but wished Brian’s family a Merry Christmas and commented that his children are beautiful. They are.

And so are the children of so many same sex couples that I know. I wonder what Brian would tell one of his children about the value of marriage and family, how special and important it is if that child turns out to be gay. Will he want his  child to have the same rights and happiness as his other children? Perhaps Brian would understand if he had to explain his prejudice to one of his own children. Or will he turn on his child, the same way that NOM has tried to dehumanize and marginalize all people attracted to someone of the same gender?

Note: Tune in for the debate between Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry and Maggie Gallagher, NOM; brought to you by The Economist. Starts January 3rd online.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Ridicule and Oppression is not Tolerance.

July 29, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersThe National Organization for Marriage, with its key speakers Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher and Louis J. Marinelli III, are touring the country.

Their rhetoric has changed and I am the first to admit that there must be a genius, albeit it one without morals, on their team. They tried, and succeeded, in taking away marriage from California and Maine by telling lies. Do we all remember the Gathering Storm video? Letting gays marry will mean that:

  • homosexuality will be taught in schools (wrong),
  • will force churches to marry them (wrong),
  • gays will make bad parents (wrong), and
  • since gays are pedophiles, we will condone that sort of thing (very wrong).

The arguments went on:

  • Gays cannot procreate. [Well, procreation is not a requirement for marriage.]
  • Homosexuality is a choice and is deviant behavior (wrong).
  • If we make gay marriage legal, where will it end? We’ll legalize pedophilia and bestiality.

What they are really saying is that they believe gay people are sick.

Pedophilia is abhorrent and is mostly committed by people that identify as heterosexuals. Just ask the Catholic Church, they are experts in this area.

What they fail to recognize is that being gay is not a mental illness, it is not a choice. Couples who want to marry are simply trying to make a commitment so strong that they are willing to commit to each other legally and financially. Marriage is what stabilizes families; all families.

Their Biblical arguments are a failure. Again and again, they ignore the points about other sins in the Bible. They cannot seem to remember that adultery made it to the Ten Commandments, not being gay. They cherry pick from Bible verses. Proven wrong at the Prop 8 trial, they have now resorted to two strategies.

The first is that there is something special about the union between a man and a woman. We can all see this right? Special. I don’t remember the word special anywhere in our Declaration of Independence or Constitution. I have not seen our country evolve to take away rights. We have always read more deeply into our founding documents to expand rights. Should we have stayed in 1776 when white male property owners were the only ones who could vote and slavery was legal? We have come a long way in over 200 years. But we are not done.

Their second strategy is playing the victim card. NOM is now the face of tolerance. They want civil dialogue. Those who disagree should be civil. Yes, if someone wanted to take away my rights, I’m sure I would just sit by politely and calmly and let them. [Sarcasm].

Everyone’s love is special. Tolerance? That is what they call denying rights now? Tolerance?

Do you want to know what NOM supporters really believe? Visit their Facebook page Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman. Here are some lovely screen shots of the discussions that occur there:

Judge for yourself, is this tolerance?

Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman

Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman

Protect Marriage: One Man One WomanNational Organization for the denial of Marriage to Loving Couples (a/k/a NOM)

National Organization for the denial of Marriage to Loving Couples (a/k/a NOM)
And if you still see “tolerance,” take a look at this video of Larry Adams, a NOM supporter and Rally attendee from Equality on Trial:

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.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: National Organization for Marriage

July 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersIf you haven’t heard of Maggie Gallagher, you aren’t gay. Maggie Gallagher was the face of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has poured millions of dollars into a battle to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. Now, NOM is on tour this summer, the Summer for Marriage Tour. Today, July 14th,  is their first stop in Augusta, Maine. From sea to shining, um, cornfields. Yes. They won’t cross the Mississippi River.

Maggie’s argument is that same sex marriage will destroy the traditional marriage. Of course, there is no evidence for this. The Prop 8 trial proved that.  Maggie and Brian Brown are simply damaged people with a twisted way of trying to solve their own dysfunctional issues.

Maggie was a single mom. Now, I have a lot of sympathy for single parents. Parenting is hard work. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been for me if I had not had my husband.

Ironically, Maggie is the President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. I have absolutely no idea if this organization is legitimate or has anyone with any intelligence working there.

But let’s pretend for the sake of this post that they do. I’ll tell you why. On their website, you can find a report called “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All Fifty States.” I have not read every word. But I’ve scanned it and cannot find one word about same-sex marriage.

Instead, this is what I found. Something that LGBT activists have been pointing out. Only this time, with numbers.

Let’s look at the highlights of this report.

These important changes in family structure stem from two fundamental changes in
U.S. residents’ behavior regarding marriage: increases in unmarried childbearing
and high rates of divorce.1 More than a third of all U.S. children are now born outside
of wedlock, including 25 percent of non-Hispanic white babies, 46 percent of
Hispanic babies, and 69 percent of African American babies.2 In 2004, almost 1.5
million babies were born to unmarried mothers.

Evidently it is important to point out the racial breakdown of these statistics.

78.5% of children living in single parent families live with their mother.

The Institute mined available public data for government costs associated with different types of households.

Here are a few examples:

Families receiving       Food Stamps                           Assistance                   Medicaid

Married                                        3.9%                            3.6%                            15.4%

Single Male Parent                   8.6%                            7.8%                            27.9%

Single Female Parent              26.%                            17.2%                          45.6%

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, in general, women earn less than men, and that often times both parents work in a two parent home. So is this really a surprise to anyone? Not to me.

The Institute went further and looked into other forms of government aid. These numbers are for single parent female households only. I do not know how they calculated the impact on the justice system, other than to state that kids in single parent homes are more likely to get into trouble. The actual number isn’t my point though. So, let’s just assume again that these numbers are real.

These numbers are in billions

Justice System                                                                                              $19.3

TANF – Cash Assistance                                                                            $5.1

Food Stamps                                                                                                  $9.6

Housing Assistance                                                                                     $7.3

Medicaid                                                                                                          $27.9

SCHIP                                                                                                                $2.8

ChildWelfare                                                                                                   $9.2

WIC                                                                                                                     $1.6

LIHEAP                                                                                                             $0.7

Head Start                                                                                                        $2.7

School Lunch and Breakfast Program                                                   $3.5

Additional U.S. Income Taxes Paid                                                        $6.1

Additional FICA Taxes Paid                                                                       $9.4

Additional State & Local Taxes Paid                                                       $6.8

Total U.S. Taxpayer Cost of Family Fragmentation        $112.0

That’s a nice tidy sum of $112 billion. You’ll notice that they call this family fragmentation. Here’s what I call it:

  • An opportunity to educate people about birth control. In school. When they are teenagers. Not abstinence.
  • Make the morning after pill available. Make condoms available.
  • Provide more opportunities for education for women and minorities.
  • Provide more job opportunities for single parents. Encourage employers to provide part-time jobs and child care subsidies.
  • Last, but not least, as a society we need to support couples when they are going through rough times. We all benefit from extended families, even when we argue about breast feeding versus bottles, spanking or not, church or not. Families have bonds, despite their differences.

Here’s what else I have to say.

What is the rate of unwanted children among gays and lesbians? I’m guessing fairly low if your sex partner is of the same gender. Kudos, you aren’t contributing to this government expenditure.

Maggie and her friends need to focus on heterosexuals. We are a huge problem. We cost the government billions of dollars. We behave irresponsibly and we expect our government to bail us out. Right Maggie?  We endanger our children when we cannot provide for their physical and emotional needs. We tear our children apart with our 50% divorce rate. We tear our spouses apart with our adultery or domestic violence.

Now let’s think about this. How will keeping couples of the same gender from marrying solve any of these problems? How does banning same sex marriage reduce this huge government expenditure?

NOM? What is your answer?

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.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Gay Hypocrisy

July 12, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersThe Today Show recently changed the rules of their wedding contest to allow same sex couples to enter. This change came about pretty quickly through civil discussions and reminders that same sex marriage is legal in several states. While it is not legal to get married in New York, New York will recognize a same sex marriage performed in a different state.

The Today Show had to know that this decision would create a firestorm from people who do not approve of same sex marriage. The comments on The Today Show Facebook page and The Today Show website went wild.

I like to follow reader comments. It’s hard to find something new. I still haven’t heard one logical argument against same sex marriage. In these discussions, there are plenty of Bible thumpers and those that insist homosexuality is a choice and a lifestyle. And there are always the pro-equality folks with something to say. Inevitably, someone will use words like bigots or haters.

Their newest response is:

Gays are all about tolerance and acceptance except when it comes to people who don’t agree with them.

Gay hypocrisy. What an interesting claim. You want gay people to accept your desire to keep them from having rights? I think you are missing the point. Returning tolerance and acceptance would be gay people accepting that you are straight, accepting that you deserve the same legal rights as LGBT people.

No one who supports marriage equality is ever going to buy your arguments. Did you follow the trial in California on Proposition 8? My bet is that you didn’t. The right wing groups did a remarkable job of preventing it from being televised. They also were a miserable failure, with all witnesses dropping out of the case except for one, who ended up saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would probably benefit society. The transcripts are online.

There are no arguments that hold water. The Bible was written by people hundreds of years ago. Your belief that it is the word of God does not make it so. Your cherry picking is obvious. You can’t disguise your bigotry behind religion. There is no proof that gay people are pedophiles or desire to recruit your children. It isn’t a lifestyle. It isn’t a choice.

There is no proof that legalizing same sex marriage will open the door to polygamy or marrying sheep. The implication, of course, is that gay sex is deviant. Otherwise, why don’t we have legal heterosexual polygamy and legal heterosexual marriages to animals? Why will this happen only if we legalize same sex marriage? Ah. It’s about sex.

I have to say, my respect for Mike Huckabee went up. For years he hid behind religion to argue why he is against gay rights. He finally came out and said that he finds gay sex icky. Kudos Mike, for having the courage to be honest. Now get over it. No one is asking you to engage in gay sex, which by the way is legal. They are asking for equal rights. 1138 rights given to married couples under Federal Law. Equality, as guaranteed under the 14th amendment.

Now try this. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals are just like you and me. They want the same things. The list could not be more normal or more boring. The right to a legal commitment to their relationships: to provide for each other and protect their families; to go to work; to be treated fairly and with respect; to serve in our military; to become ministers. It’s so boring it sounds conservative.

Acceptance and tolerance. You aren’t giving it – yet you expect it in return? Be careful who you demean and degrade. It could be someone you love. Open your mind. Open your heart. You do know someone gay. I assure you that you do. Stretch beyond your assumptions. Take the challenge to get to know a gay person Today.

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.

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.

I am dangerous for believing in LGBT Equality.

March 18, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Thursday, March 18th,  three LGBT activists were arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo and Robin McGehee. It made more news than the 200,000 LGBT equality supporters made when they marched on Washington D.C. last October.

This is only the beginning. I will not wait any longer for my friends to have the equality and protection that they deserve.

I am not willing to wait for a world where LGBT children can grow up in a society where all of us know that they are normal. Where being LGBT is as different as being a redhead or left-handed.

I’m imagining a day where LGBT activists go into every legislative building in this country.

This is not a call for violence. This is a call for demanding equality. Citizens have the right to peaceful assembly to protest the actions of their government. We did that last October. Very little changed.

Some have called this a juvenile act that will set back the LGBT movement. A circus. A stunt.

Do we remember Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Mahatma Gandhi as juveniles?

If refusing to move off the White House lawn, Capitol Hill, an elected official’s office, a government building in order to stand up for what is right, results in me being arrested, I will wear that as a badge of honor. I will have accomplished something with my life. I will make my family proud of me. I will have harmed no one. I will be living my values, not just writing words on the Internet.

I’m straight. I’m a child of the sixties. Civil disobedience is in my blood. I’m going to be wearing comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, have my cell phone, some cash and a jacket just in case. My civil disobedience survival pack is ready to go.

I would like to see the embarrassment on a politician’s face when an older, average looking, slightly overweight, mom-type gets hauled off by the police. Because I am so dangerous for believing in LGBT equality.

Now. Who do I visit?

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.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: The Quota System for the Right to Marry

January 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Like many others, I have been following reports from the courtroom of Judge Walker. I’ve really appreciated the highly detailed reporting at Empty Wheel from Fire Dog Lake.

I could not help but be both bewildered and intrigued by the line of questioning regarding the percentage of straight relationships and gay relationships that are stable, the percentage of couples that want to be monogamous and how long these relationships last. Even more odd, the defense attorney wanted to compare relationships in domestic partnerships compared to marriage. So, the anti-gay marriage crowd wants proof that gay people want to be married, will stay married and will stay monogamous. That’s going to be tricky IF YOU DON’T LET THEM GET MARRIED.

Sorry. I had to get that point about the twisted logic out of my system.

Are we going to apply this same standard to heterosexual couples? Are we now going to legislate whether or not to grant marriage based on how long people stay married? Because if we are, a 50% divorce rate is a failing grade in any class I ever took.

Are we now going to legislate whether or not to grant marriage based on the number of people that want to get married? “Sorry gays, we need for 99% of you to want to get married, stay married and promise to be monogamous, or we won’t give you the right to marry.” Will we have this same quota system for straight couples?

Monogamy? The line of questioning contains a section about a study that shows that not all gay men want to be monogamous. First, the studies are very old. Second, the gay men mentioned having open relationships.  Hmm, so the gay men who answered this study, twenty years ago, were being honest with their partners? We straight people have a better method. It’s called cheating. In other words, adultery. You know, that act that right wing conservatives always seem to be caught in. Mark Sanford? Hiram Monserrate, State Senator of New York? Can someone please tell me the last time somebody went to jail for adultery? Are there even laws against it anymore? Oh yes. Biblical law, right there in the Big Ten Commandments. Yet, that one seems to be ignored by groups like National Organization for Marriage, a well known anti-gay marriage group.

Straight people decide if they want to get married. If you are above the age required in your state and meet the requirement for however biologically unrelated you need to be (i.e. not first cousins), you can get married. No one asks if you intend to be monogamous. No one asks how long you plan to stay married. No one asks why you want to get married. There’s no training, no test. It’s a whole lot easier than adopting a dog from a shelter. Just fill out the paperwork, wait a few days, get married. No church required.

None of  these standards have ever been applied to heterosexual marriage. A 50 percent divorce rate could be an excellent argument for getting rid of marriage all together. Yet, somehow, I think straight people would be up in arms if anyone suggested this.

If only one gay couple wants to marry, that is enough for me. If that couple wants an open relationship with others, that is their business and theirs alone. If one cheats, that is their business and theirs alone.

If their relationship doesn’t last, how is that the government’s business? Britney Spears was married for less than three days. If the government can process a marriage and a divorce in three days, why is it taking 40 years to give same sex couples the right to marry?

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.

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.

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.