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LGBT Lessons for Straight People: You Do Know Someone Who is Gay.

September 09, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

0006 crop - CopyThis is the story of my friend Kurt. I was the new kid in high school and I discovered that in a small town, it is difficult to break into social cliques. I was marginalized by the popular kids because my dad worked in a factory and I was from Chicago. One had to be in the right social circles. Somewhat ironic in a town of 8,000 after living in Chicago. One country club does not a social scene make.

The first student to approach me was Vicki, as she muttered in the library that they had no good books. She introduced me to  her brother, who was a living doll, cute butt and very funny. Kurt and I spent the better part of an evening at an “accidental”  date discussing the worlds problems, as teenagers love to do. I discovered that we had nothing in common and we argued for literally hours. He was a Republican, a bigot and, worst of all for this young hippie chick, he littered.

And yet, he was funny, witty, smart and completely charming. We became the best of friends and for many years people  believed that we were dating. It was always difficult to explain to potential boy/girl friends that we were just friends. Very few  got it and most were jealous. Kurt’s life became more troubled. He disappeared from school, starting doing drugs, then harder  drugs. His parents sent him to a psychologist and it got worse. When he returned after disappearing for a week, our circle of  friends discovered that he was doing heroin and had thoughts of suicide. We watched him like a hawk. He had many, many friends.

Not once did the thought cross my mind that he was gay. He chased girls like there was no tomorrow and he called kids queers and faggots. We would argue about that. He had me completely fooled.

After high school, we lost touch and when I looked him up, he was living in San Francisco, in the time of Harvey Milk. It was the only safe place to be out in that time.  He watched the White Night riots from his window as he lived near Civic Center. San Francisco was a place where he could be happy and began to accept himself. Then HIV came and wiped out the gay community. His partner died, his entire circle of friends died. He feel into a very deep depression. This was during the 1980’s when Republicans were doing things like putting bumper stickers on their cars that said “All the right people are dying of AIDS.”

Each day this month brings me closer to the grief that I know that I will feel. Because his birthday is at the end of September and his death was in early October. Outside of my husband, I was closer to him than any other man. He was my friend. We knew each other and loved one another unconditionally. I cannot begin to fathom the fear, the internalized homophobia and shame that he had to overcome. He was so smart and could have achieved anything. Instead, he fought a society that constantly told him that he was sick and a pervert. he loved his friends, was an amazing host, was knowledgeable in so many areas and was always entertaining. He was the epitome of graciousness, with lovely thank you cards and birthday cards. He was always excited when we visited and loved to show us his city. There is a hole in my heart that no one else will ever fill. I keep my memories of him alive on a flash drive, with photos, letters and music, that I store inside a little box from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, his favorite building. Not a gay bar. A church. An amazing church.

Every person who has lost a loved one, for whatever reason, knows what I mean. Everyone is human. Everyone is vulnerable and has feelings. Everyone can be hurt and struggles to protect themselves from hurt. My friend was as human, as worthy, as amazing as anyone else. Being gay was such a small part of his personality, of his potential. Yet others could see only that, not the real person underneath.

Someone you know IS gay. You may or may not know it. When I hear people say “I have gay friends and they know how I feel”, usually in reference to not supporting same sex marriage, I ask you “Are they really your friends? Have you asked them how your opinion makes them feel? Friend? Really? Or just acquaintances. While I applaud you for not preaching hatred, it is truly naive to believe that gay people don’t fall in love and don’t want stable, legal marriages. They are just like you and me. In the grand scheme of things, don’t each of us deserve the right to marry the person we love? How can love ever be wrong? How can a fight to legalize marriage take so long and so much money? How can love make us more uncomfortable than words of discrimination and marginalization. Do you really want to be the one to say “I won’t give you rights to Social Security, Medicare, tax benefits, the right to visit your partner in the hospital”.

Nothing will convince me that my LGBT friends are less worthy in any way. Not Shirley Phelps Roper, not Maggie Gallagher, not Pastor Steve Andersen, not Ann Coulter, not the Pope, not James Dobson, not the conservative in the cubicle half way down the hall from me, and most importantly, not the Bible. I have way too many LGBT friends. They are diverse, amusing, amazing, and a few are annoying. Because they are human. In the forty years that I have known gay people, and I’ve known a lot, not a one has tried to abduct my son or indoctrinate me with some kind of gay kool-aid. They talk about the same things as everyone else. Work, money, pets, car trouble, grocery shopping, their knee hurts, the kids don’t sleep at night, the cable company screwed up the bill. It’s only a myth that the gay lifestyle is glamorous. Most of them live just like you and me. Except we don’t have to be afraid that someone will kill us for being straight. Love is not a sin.

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.

I Owe Iowa! YES! to Same-Sex Marraige.

April 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling, issued at 8:30 a.m. this morning affirmed the lower court decision which held that:

[The Iowa] state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman unconstitutional.

Thus, that which should be obvious, is confirmed with a resounding “YES!” to same-sex marriage.  In the ruling, the Supreme Court (which earned the grand title) held:

A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution.

Now, this blogger must go celebrate the victory with a cleansing weeping session.  To read the full decision, please click here.

Obama Puts Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the Closet

March 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: DADT, LGBT News

In a sad and twisted moment, the Obama Administration has decided to delay the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy until 2010.  The policy, implemented during the Clinton Administration, prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  Should it become known that they are homosexual, they loose their jobs.

This turn reeks the foulness that was the Clinton Administration – court the gays, liberals and progressives, get their votes, then continue to deny them the very thing that was promised, blatantly.

You may recall Robert Gates’ YouTube video wherein he was asked if the administration would repeal the current Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  His response was simple, yet to the point, “Yes.”  But now, excuses for not overturning the policy seem to be all the action being taken by the administration:

This is a considerable slap in the face after the U.S. finally decided to sign the U.N. Declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality.  Although a positive move forward, the administration stated that the signing of the declaration would have no impact on existing U.S. law – presumably should it have had an effect, the U.S. would have continued the policy of bigotry and left the declaration on human rights unsigned.

Upon completion of this post, I will go out to my car, which has proudly displayed an Obama pin in the rear view mirror since the election, and remove it.  I may even run over it a few times (100 or so) just to make sure my point is made.  To Obama, to America, to the free “god” loving citizens of the world, I am nothing if I am not denied.  Yet they demand my respect, my complacency and flinch at any signs of anger or resentment for what this country, it’s people and the present and past administrations are doing.

Some may say that we should be patient.  Some may say that overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or providing any rights denied LGBT people should wait due to the pressing matters of the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the overall chaos the world has fallen into; however, there comes a time when we have to demand human rights and decency be put first in the list of our priorities, otherwise, something else will always be more important.

Kansas City Men’s Chorus Denied Honorific because it Mentions Gay

March 27, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, LGBT News

As the Kansas City-based Heartland Men’s Chorus prepares for their Saturday performance of “And Justice For All” to honor the fight and fighters for civil equality (i.e. women’s suffrage, the stonewall riots and Martin Luther King, Jr.), the “top leaders” of the state’s senate denies a resolution honoring the group.

Sen. Jolie Justus, District 10 MO, introduced the resolution as part of the hundreds of courtesy resolutions passed each year.  Such resolutions are designed to honor milestones such as 50th wedding anniversaries and “Eagle Scout” achievements; however, the Kansas senate has sent a clear message, “No gays.”

The uproar isn’t about honoring the group, but because of the language of the resolution indicating they are fighting homophobia and makes mention of “gay” men.  Senate republican (of course), Shields has stated he feels the language is too controversial indicating it would:

probably not meet the standards of all the senators.

He has asked the resolution remove references to homophobia, gay and LGBT, the very thing that has brought the group forward as a potential recipient of the resolution.

Sen. Justus stated, rather than “de-gay” the resolution, she will present a certificate to the Heartland Men’s Chorus from her own office rather than from the full Senate and let them know:

Your state capitol finds you to be offensive just because you’re gay.

To that, jay says: “I find your state capitol offensive because they are homophobic bigots who have mistaken a moral delusion for morality.”

School Demands Student Turn Rainbow Bracelet Around

March 19, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, LGBT News, Youth Issues

Chris Quintanilla, a 14 year old Peoria, Arizona student, was recently forced to turn his rainbow wristband inside out by the principal.  Chris reports that he has experienced numerous anti-gay moments at the school.  When the school failed to stop such anti-gay actions, his mother went to the ACLU.  See: Letter from ACLU to school district.

The principal claims that the request was made after many of Chris’ teachers found the wristband “offensive.”  See Also: Gay student banned from wearing rainbow | News Story on 365gay.com.

Perhaps the principal is unfamiliar with the 2001 case of Chamber’s, wherein a Woodbury High School student wore a shirt which said, “Straight Pride” which resulted in the principal banning the “offensive” shirt.  In that case, sponsored by the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy (yes the anti-gay folks), U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank issued a preliminary injunction stating that the action was “probably unconstitutional.”  A federal court later agreed stating it violated the student’s right to free speech.

San Antonio, Texas Sees First Transgendered City Council Candidate

March 13, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News

Ruby Krebs stepped up to run for City Council of San Antonio’s District 1 seat.  Krebs is the first transgendered candidate to run for City Council in San Antonio.  Krebs political career started when she was volunteering for the Hillary Clinton campaign and she now serves as Chair for Precint 4001.

In and interview with QSanantonio.com, Krebs stated she is not running to make a statement about her gender identity:

I know I’m making history, but that’s not the point. I love this city and I know I can do good things for the people of my district.

There are three people running for the District 1 seat.  The Democrat incumbent, Mrs. Mary Alice Cisneros, the challenger, non-partisan (although he has attended Stonewall Democrat events), Mr. Chris Forbrich, who is openly gay and Ms. Ruby Krebs.   District 1 includes areas of San Antonio generally thought to be areas in which gays reside such as Monte Vista, Tobin Hill and King William (home of the fabUloUs King William Fair during Fiesta).

More Gay Soldiers Discharged At Peace Time

March 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Hate Crimes, LGBT News

The AP is reporting that 11 military service members were discharged in January, 2009, under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy put into place during the Clinton administration.   That doesn’t seem like a high number, but… in the report, the AP went on:

The military discharged nearly 10,000 service members under the policy in a 10-year period, from 1997 to 2007. The number fired each year dropped sharply after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, when forces were stretched thin. Whereas more than 1,200 were dismissed in 2000 and again in 2001 for violating the policy, about half as many — 627 — were fired in 2007.  via The Associated Press: Army fired 11 soldiers in Jan. as openly gay.

When I first read that I remained fixated on the numbers, then I re-read this portion:

The number fired each year dropped sharply after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, when forces were stretched thin.

That statement gave me the same feeling I had when I found out my “first love” was a homeless cocaine addict who was trying to recover from his homosexuality while simultaneously declaring his love for me and spending all my money.  In other words, I suddenly felt very used.

Now, I’ve never had an inclination or even the slightest interest in joining our armed forces.  In fact, even being on a military base makes me feel very frightened and a bit like being in prison.  That being said, if there is any “company” that has proven itself to be anti-gay rights over and over again, it is our nation’s military.  Therefore, should any military recruiter wish for me to join, I will be forced to decline the offer until such time that the company fully recognizes rights being denied it’s LGBT service members.

What rights am I referring to, you ask?  Well, the first one to come to mind is a matter of access.  Let’s say a heterosexual woman joins the military.  She is married to a civilian man.  They live happily together for many years, moving from place to place.  When the wife is transferred, the military moves the husband along with her.  Now, let’s say a homosexual woman is in the military and her partner is a civilian.  Such privilege is not granted to the lesbian couple because they are not “spouses.”

So for those of you concerned with the sanctity of your marriage who claim that we can draft documents to equalize our rights – guess what, you’re lying again.  So much for that truth theory.

Nigeria Has Gays Too!?!?

March 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

Perhaps in the grand ole USA when you hear of something happening in Nigeria you immediately think of the countless emails from Nigerian attorneys requesting that you hold several hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars belonging to a forgotten estate in your bank account – just send us your account information.  Well this time, some Nigerians are on the side of Marriage Equality.

A group of “homosexuals” apparently “stormed” the National Assembly in protest of a bill seeking to prohibit same-gender marriages in Nigeria.  The argument made by the bill is that the charter on Human Rights signed by the U.N. (but not the USA) granted them the freedom of sexual orientation – which the proposed ban would infringe upon.

The effort by the group of storming homosexuals is particularly brave in Nigeria as the penal code provides a sentence of up to 14 years or death under Sharia Law for homosexuality.

Perhaps Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Madueke will need to revise his February 23, 2009 statement wherein Madueke said:

During our National Consultative Forum, we went out of our way to look for gay, lesbian and transgender groups but we could not come across Nigerians with such sexuality

Apparently Minister Madueke, there are gays in Nigeria.

See: THISDAY ONLINE / Nigeria news / African views on global news.

Galveston Texas Gay Bar Attacked by Anti-Gay Stone Throwers

March 04, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Hate Crimes, LGBT News

Just south east of Houston, TX sits the island city of Galveston, or whats left of it after Hurricane Ike.  Galveston is most famous as the home of legendary rocker, Janis Joplin.  But morbid news is abound.

Three men, two brothers and a cousin, shouted anti-gay slurs at patrons of Robert’s Lafitte and stoned them due to their sexual orientation.  One man, Marc Bosaw, required 12 staples to close the wounds.  Another man was hit in the jaw by a rock.  Thankfully, the attack did not result in any persons death.

Patrons chased the gay bashers and were able to obtain a description which led to their arrest.  Bosaw stated:

I thought with all the things going on, especially politically, that we would be more accepted and not just randomly attacked.  I don’t see any room for hate right now.

Regrettably, this attitude of gays being more accepted continues to permeate the LGBT community as I discussed more in a prior post.  It is because of these attacks that we must remain a united front and continue to combat this hatred.  It is time to stand against this violence.  “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

via Galveston gay bar attack draws rare use of law w/ video | Front page | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

Supreme Court Denies Hearing on School Anti-Harrassment Measures

February 25, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Youth Issues

In 2002, students at Boyd County High School requested to be allowed to form a Gay Straight Alliance (“GSA”).  Unfortunately, due to religious bias and prejudice against homosexuals, they were met with adversity.  Although the GSA was approved, within two months of its formation the school banned the GSA and purportedly banned all other student organizations for that term.

As a result, several students (along with their parents) filed suit against the school district in federal court.  A preliminary injunction was issued which required the school board to provide equal access to the GSA and mandated anti-harassment training for all students. The school district then adopted a policy against “Harassment/Discrimination” defining such as:

…unlawful behavior based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex[,] actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or disability that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or creates a hostile or abusive educational environment.

In a further effort to fulfill its requirement, the school board created two training videos. One of the videos included a passage from a clinical psychologist, which advised:

…We all get self-centered and start to think that our way is the right way and our way is the correct way.  We all want to believe that we have evidence that our way is the correct way…

So… no matter where you go, no matter what you do, no matter who you meet, you are going to find people that you don’t like.  You’re going to find people that you disagree with.  You’re going to find people that you don’t like the way they act.  It can’t be avoided, not, not anywhere in the world, it can’t be avoided.  You’re going to find people that you believe are absolutely wrong.  You’re going to think[,” B]ut not to them.  Because they believe you are wrong.  You can’t avoid meeting people that you believe are wrong.  But here is the kicker, just because you believe, just because you don’t like them, just because you disagree with them, just because you believe they are wrong, whole heartedly, absolutely, they are wrong.  Just because you believe that does not give you permission to say anything about it.  It doesn’t require that you do anything.  You just respect, you just exist, you continue, you leave it alone.  There is not permission for you to point it out to them.

The video concluded with a statement by Matthew Spade, the High School Compliance Coordinator, wherein he advised:

In today’s video you learned about bullying, you learned about name calling and we hope you learned a little bit about how to treat people with respect, and with that respect also comes the school’s respect for your beliefs, your religious beliefs and your sense of right and wrong.  We would never try to influence those things.  They are very sacred and they should only be influenced by you and your parents and family.  Please realize that with the video that we showed today we are only trying to instill a sense of honor amongst our students to learn not to treat someone unfairly or harass someone because they are different from us.  If you have any questions about the video that you just saw, there will be a short question and answer session at the conclusion of this video.  If you do not feel comfortable asking these questions in front of your classmates, feel free to contact the counselors through the school email system.  We would hope that you would also discuss these issues with your family at home.  Thank you.

In spite of Mr. Spade’s statement, parents of the would-be hecklers feared that the new polices and the mandatory training would not only discourage, but prohibit their children from speaking about their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality.  Eventually, a group of parents sued the school board claiming the policy was a violation of their constitutional rights, including: (1) due process; (2) equal protection; and (3) free exercise of religion.  For these alleged violations of their rights, the Plaintiffs (Morrison, et al.) sought relief in the form of a declaratory judgment (non-monetary), injunction (non-monetary), actual damages (monetary), nominal damages (also monetary), costs and attorney fees (obviously monetary).

Six months after the original filing, the school board revised its policy and codes of conduct.  Under the revised codes, anti-homosexual comments would be allowed unless it was “sufficiently severe or pervasive that it adversely affects a student’s education or creates a climate of hostility or intimidation for that student, both from the perspective of an objective educator and from the perspective of the student at whom the harassment is directed.”  [thud noise added]

These revisions should have rendered the Plaintiffs’ claims moot; however, the plaintiffs, having already forced the school district to change their policy in order to ensure religious students can tell other students that they are going to hell, plaintiffs continued the litigation.

The parties then filed motions for summary judgment and the district court granted the defendant school district’s motion while denying the motion filed by the plaintiffs.  The court, in its opinion, stated it “was not inclined to adjudge the constitutionality of policies no longer in effect.”  [Can I get an Amen?]  The court further decreed that the plaintiffs claim for damages failed because the plaintiffs had no measure or amount for the damages they were alleging.

However, in October, 2007, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court and declared that the plaintiff’s request for “nominal damages” does not require support by fact.  Further the appellate court found that nominal damages do not require proof of actual injury as they are “symbolic”.

This left the court to decide whether or not Morrison had “standing” to bring his nominal-damages claim, or, in other words – does Morrison have sufficient stake in a controversy to obtain judicial resolution of the controversy? Because the Court felt Morrison “chilled” his speech to prevent punishment, the court held that it constituted “injury-in-fact.”  The court went on to declare that “Morrison easily satisfies the causation part of the standing inquiry” and surprisingly found that he meets the third test of standing, redressability. The court actually wrote in their opinion:

Although a favorable decision cannot provide Morrison an opportunity to travel back in time and utter the speech he withheld, it can provide him with nominal damages. Even though these damages amount to little, they serve to vindicate his rights.

The dissenting justice wrote:

… the fact remains that they [the Morrisons] have already won that challenge when they forced the district, under court supervision, to change its policy.  All that remains is an as-applied pre-enforcement challenge for nominal damage based on Morrison’s choice to chill his own speech based on his perception that he would be disciplined for speaking.

I tend to agree with the dissention on this one in spite of my relentless support of free speech and expression.  I just couldn’t understand how the court determined that Morrison had standing for the suit.

Then, I was affirmed.  After a petition for rehearing was filed by the Board of Education, The 6th Court of Appeals amended their decision in April, 2008.  In the amended ruling, the court affirmed the decision of the lower court due to the Plaintiff’s lack of standing declaring that there was no “injury-in-fact.”  Justice, it seems, is served.

Then, in November, 2008, approximately six years after the original lawsuit was filed, Morrison filed a Petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.  The issue presented to the Supreme Court was:

Whether the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit correctly determined that Petitioner lacked standing and could not pursue a claim for even nominal damages.

Within 3 months, the Supreme Court denied the petition.  The result is thus:  Regardless of whether you believe someone is bad, wrong or unlikeable, you can no longer call them things like “jew“, “spick“, “gook“, “nigger” or “faggot” while at a Boyd County school because such language is hostile – yet you can tell them all they are going to hell for being “jewish”, “black”, “disabled, “a woman”, “asian” or a “homosexual.”  The harshness of the language may be downplayed, but the message remains the same mantra, “I think I’m better than you.”

Plaintiffs relevant to Appeal Court decision were Timothy Allen Morrison II, his parents, Timothy and Mary Morrison, Brian Nolen and Debora Jones (Brian and Debora are parents of other Boyd County Middle School students).  They were represented by Kevin H. Theriot, Alliance Defense Fund, 15192 Rosewood, Leawood, KS  66224, kevintheriot@bellsouth.net, (913) 685-8000.  Inquiries made to Mr. Theriot were not responded to prior to publication.

The defendant Board of Education of Boyd County was represented by Winter R. Huff, Law Offices of John G. Prather, PPSC, PO Box 616, Somerset, Kentucky 42502-0616, (606) 679-1626.  Special thanks to Ms. Huff for providing documentation to support the research involved in this article.

CLICK HERE for the complete text of the Amended 6th U.S. Court of Appeals decision.