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A Little Perspective for the National Organization for Marriage

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

In a recent video put out by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an organization devoted to preventing equal protections for certain citizens of the United States, a woman with tears in her eyes tells the story of how she was bullied and intimidated by LGBT rights activists during the hate fest.  What was the crime?  The protesters blocked her view with their signs!  Here’s the video:

This isn’t the first time NOM has played the victim card. Throughout their campaign to prevent same-sex couples from having hospital visitation rights, paying equal taxes, enjoying the same retirement benefits and generally pursuing their own happiness, NOM representatives have attempted to paint the LGBT community as oppressive radicals who are out to destroy America. Now it’s time for a little perspective:

These are the faces of our dead.  These are the faces that anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender sentiment said it was ok to harass, beat and even kill.  On average, over four LGBT people are victimized by a hate crime each day.  Hetersoexuals are victims of sexual orienation bias crimes at a significantly reduced 0.01 per day.  In fact, there has not been a single reported case of an LGBT person murdering a hetersexual person simply because they are heterosexual.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, it’s time for NOM to come down off their cross – someone else might want to use it.

The Question After the Vigils: Who’s Next?

November 23, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Hate Crimes Vigil - San Antonio, TexasOver the past few days, vigils have been held for Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, 19, and Jason Mattison, Jr., 15, the most recent victims of bias crimes. Jorge’s His murderer claimed that when he picked Jorge up, he thought he was a woman; however upon discovering Jorge was biologically male, the man went into a rage. It was a rage so violent that the attacker was burned, decapitated, and dismembered Jorge. Cause of death? HATE.

Jason Mattison, Jr.’s death was no less graphic. After his body was found, it was discovered that he had been raped, gagged with a pillowcase, stabbed repeatedly in the head and throat before his murderer shoved his dead body back into the closet we all struggle so hard to be free of.

My local vigil occurred just days after the Transgender Day of Remembrance observance where we remembered the over 130 known trans and gender queer people murdered to date in 2009. As a stood with the small crowd, I let my eyes wonder over each persons face. The faces full of sorrow, rage, hurt and perhaps realization. A realization that they are among the lucky ones, the survivors. While some of those present had been attacked, they had survived, but it could have been any of us being immortalized by the candlelight. It even could have been me.

Perhaps that is why only a handful gathered in San Antonio for the vigil? Perhaps we aren’t ready to confront our own mortality and the possibility that it “could have been me?” Perhaps we are lossing the battle because of our fear? I can’t pretend to know the answer, but I do know this – I will never let them shove me back into a closet.

LGBT Lessons for Right Wing Christians: How Hate Crime Laws Silenced the Church

November 21, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationThe hardcore religious (they are anything but) right has become so paranoid that their twisted logic has led them to believe that they are the victims. Their solution?  The Manhattan Declaration, a statement of Christian convictions on the matters of life, family, and religious liberty. Let’s go through parts of it.

The preamble to the declaration reads, “While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

That’s right folks. People who WANT to get married are destroying marriage. Just like people who hate the earth recycle.

On marriage, the declaration addresses the problems of out-of-wedlock births, cohabitation, and divorce. For the church’s failure to uphold ‘the dignity of marriage,’ it reads, ‘we repent.’ It goes on to lay out concerns with same-sex marriage. ‘[I]t is out of love (not ‘animus’) and prudent concern for the common good (not ‘prejudice’), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture.’

You admit to being a failure on heterosexual marriage. You are addressing this how? You welcome these individuals into your churches. You do not cast them out nor do you preach that what they have done is wrong. When was your last sermon on “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”? I seem to recall that is in the Ten Commandments. Being gay is not.

It is out of love that you are preventing loving couples from marrying one another? No it isn’t. It is out of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, ignorance, intolerance and an unwillingness to be human. You are paranoid, brainwashed and threatened. You are incapable of examining your own feelings. Worse, you hide behind religion and words like love to make your stand against same sex marriage sound respectable.

Signatories recognize a growing list of threats to religious liberty: the weakening of conscience clauses protecting religious workers in the health industry, antidiscrimination statutes that could force religious nonprofits to facilitate adoptions to gay couples, and heightened hate crimes laws that could affect free speech.

Father Chad Hatfield, head of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, said he signed it because, ‘We know what it’s like to be intimidated into silence,’ referring to Eastern Orthodox persecution under communism.

That might just be the most insane, offensive sentence in the entire document. “We know what it’s like to be intimidated into silence. ” Just what exactly are you being silenced on? Your desire to help the poor? Your desire to prevent failed marriages? Really? Where? This declaration is about one thing only. Same sex marriage.

You know what it is like to be intimidated into silence? Really? When was the last time a clergyman was decapitated, dismembered and burned in the same way that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado , a 19 year old gay man (or perhaps transgender person) from Puerto Rico, or Jason Mattison, a 15 year old teen from Baltimore,  who was raped, stabbed, beaten to death and stuffed into a closet from Baltimore? Both of these horrific, unspeakable crimes occurred this November.

Who silenced you to speak out against these hate crimes? The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Law? The answer is obvious. You did. You choose to remain silent. By choice. Get this message loud and clear. Silence equals agreement.

And now for my thoughts on your closing statement.

The declaration closes: ‘We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.’

You will render to Caesar what is Caesar’s? Good. Then do it.  Legal marriage has nothing to do with the church and you know it. Your church does not hand out marriage licenses. You do however impose the church’s religious beliefs on others, to the point where you  have convinced politicians that only your religion has religious freedom under the First Amendment. Get out of the way of the government. Get out of my church’s right to practice our faith, which supports same sex marriage.  Your right to practice your religion is intact. You don’t need to provide wedding services for gays and lesbians. You have your right to preach that homosexuality is wrong. America is about freedom. No one has taken away your right to practice your religious beliefs, as obscene as they are. Now stop trying to take away the rights of LGBT people.

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.

When Wishes Come True – Hate Crimes Legislation Passes Senate

October 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Hate Crimes, LGBT News

matthew-shepard-head-shot3The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act just passed the Senate.  If Obama signs the legislation, it will be the first inclusive federal law on the books.

Today is also my birthday and this morning I joked on my Facebook that it would be fantastic if my birthday wish for passage of the Hate Crimes bill by the Senate came true.

A few moments ago, my wish became a reality.

I remember when Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay.  It’s as clear to me today as it was then.  I remember the vigils, the hope and the fear.  On October 11th, 2009, the day before the 11th anniversary of Matthew’s death, I stood only a few feet away from Judy Shepard.  I looked up at her and saw my own mother staring back as she said, “My son was murdered by hate.”

I remember when I came out to my mother, she started crying.  She was terrified for my safety, but I was young and immortal.  A few months ago we had the conversation again – the one about my safety.  Then I had the conversation with a friend, and another friend, and another… seems there is a lot of concern for this gay man’s safety simply because I’m a gay man.

I also remember when, in a small east Texas town just a few hours drive from me, James Byrd was tied to the back of a truck and dragged down the road because he was a black man.  I marched on Austin, Texas shortly thereafter with about 500 brave people willing to march that cold and rainy day.  We demanded, “Stop the Hate! Stop the Violence!”

The stories of victims of hate crimes could easily be my story, or your story.  Judy Shepard could have been my mother – or rather, my mother could have been Judy Shepard.

When I quipped on Facebook that I would love my birthday wish to come true, I thought I would be celebrating the victory.  Instead, I find myself drifting back to 11 years, 10 days ago when the world was told that Matthew Shepard did not survive.  I remember the profound and lingering effect his death had on me.  I remember my fear and how I allowed that fear to rule me for far too long.

The Gay Panic Defense: It Even Works Over Seas

October 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

gaypanicThe gay panic defense is catching on over seas.  Our friends down under have successfully followed most of the rules and have managed to downgrade charges of murder to “manslaughter” after arguing that the sexual advances of another man warranted defending themselves.  Had they followed them to a “T,” an acquittal would have been certain!

As discussed in Queensland Pride, Jason Pearce, 38, and Richard Meerdink, 40, were on hallowed ground last after getting drunk on cask wine.  They encountered 45 year old Wayne Ruks who was allegedly also intoxicated.

Video footage from CCTV showed the 15 minute altercation during which Pearce and Meerdink beat Ruks with repeated hits, kicks and elbows to the stomach.  Of course, this is completely justifiable considering Ruks allegedly grabbed Pearce’s groin, which sexual advance was no where on the tape.

Obviously, this alleged but unseen groin grab constituted a life threatening situation which justified the brutal beating of Ruks by two men – or so it seems the Australian Court thinks.

Queensland activist, John Frame, expressed his outrage by stating:

Imagine if heterosexual women killed straight males when they received unwanted sexual advances from them.  That wouldn’t wash with juries – and neither should this.

Well John, maybe they should start doing so – of course that would eliminate the bulk of the male species within months.

Closet Talk: Nathan and Johnnie Discuss the Atlanta Eagle Bar Raid

September 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkIn a scene reminiscent of this summers bar raid in Ft. Worth, Texas, on September 10, 2009, police raided the Eagle in Atlanta after an anonymous complaint from a neighboring residential building claimed the bar was promoting public sex and drug use. Police entered the bar and made patrons lay on the floor, some for over an hour, while they illegally searched their pockets and refused to state why they were detaining the bar goers. Since the raid, many rumors have found their way into the conservative and liberal blogosphere.

Witnesses Nicholas and Johnnie joined me on Closet Talk to discuss the raid, the reaction and what was said.  Johnnie confirmed perhaps one of the most terrible comments overheard by police which I had hoped was a sick rumor: “… this is more fun than raiding niggers on crack.”

One officer was overheard saying, “I hate gay people” while stepping over the crowd that was forced to lie on the floor while being illegally searched.

Other derogatory comments were made by police as well.  Find out from those attending what happened that night:

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2010/2012, The National Equality March & LGBT Priorities.

September 02, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

NEmThe National Equality March is scheduled for October 11-12, 2009 in D.C. I’ve avoided writing about the issue of whether or not the equality march is “good” or “bad” for the community because, on September 9th, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time, I will be a guest on Sisters Talk Radio discussing that very issue.

However, time is running out to plan for the march.  We must act now and unite every LGBT activist, blogger and party of interest in declaring their full support of the National Equality March.  We must begin promoting it as if it were the death of a pop icon.  But why?

While California activists are arguing over whether a ballot initiative to overturn Proposition 8 should happen in 2010 or 2012, activists in other states are dealing with something very different – sometimes, literally life or death.

There is still reason to be concerned about having our heads bashed.  Take the case of Steven Harmon of Portage, Michigan as an example.  The 15 year old was recently attacked and beaten by two other teenagers apparently because Harmon had “come out” as gay the week before.  While beating him, the teens repeatedly called him “faggot” and other derogatory anti-gay terms.

Many of us will be dead tomorrow because some yahoo decided it was o.k. to murder a queer.  One of far too many recent examples of this occurred in Northwest Washington only about a week ago and resulted in the death of Nana Boo, a transgender male to female.

Many of us may not have a job tomorrow because our employer decided they don’t like queers.   Tonight on Closet Talk I will be talking with Candice Metzler.  Candice lost her job due to her transition and was unable to find employment.  Ultimately, she found herself homeless.

While many are debating whether or not to proceed with at 2010 ballot initiative and whether or not to support the National Equality March, here in my neck of the woods, we’re still trying to figure out how to keep kids from hanging themselves from the rafters because they are demonized for being “gay.”

We need a national front to help change the lives of the future generations of our people.  If you still don’t support the National Equality March, try walking a mile in a gay or transgender kid’s shoes in Jonesboro, Arkansas where social and legal changes to LGBT equality will likely never occur without involvement from our national government.  After that, you may be singing a different tune.

How to Get Away with Murder: A Guide to the Gay Panic Defense

July 16, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

panicGetting away with murder when investigators are using advanced forensic science such as DNA testing isn’t easy these days, but where there’s a will, there’s a way – as they say.  Because murder is not as big of a sin against God as being gay (so it seems), we’ve prepared the following guide which will assist you in carrying out a murder – and getting away with it.  The guide was prepared after a careful analysis of several cases wherein the “Gay Panic” defense was used.  Those cases will be discussed at the end of this guide.

Step 1. Be a heterosexual male.

This is the most important aspect of carrying out the remaining stages.  If you are not a heterosexual male, you can attend some sort of conversion therapy, declare yourself heterosexual, find a woman to be your girlfriend and then continue to step 2.  If you are not a male, gender reassignment will be required before moving on to Step 2.

Step 2.  Choose your victim.

When choosing a victim, it’s much easier if they are a confirmed homosexual; however, there really is no requirement that the person you murder be homosexual.  If they are, it will make the defense of the matter much easier on you.  If they are not homosexual, you must first set it up to show that they “secretly” were homosexual (i.e. photograph of them in a public restroom with a senator/minister).  Once you have completed this step, proceed to step 3.

Step 3. Take the victim somewhere private.

In recent cases, the private place has been the victim’s home.  This is optimal as, in later steps, you can say you were lured to their place.  It is not recommended that you take the victim to your own house as you will have to substantiate why you took a gay person home with you.  Should you have no other choice but to use your own home, have a ready excuse like: We stopped by to pick up my fishing rod.  Make sure your excuse is innocuous and has no gay undertones.

Step 4. Murder the victim.

You may think that murdering your victim with a gun will be the cleanest way to do it, but this is sure to get you thrown into prison.  Instead, you must murder them violently.  In recent cases which were successful, stabbing or bludgeoning have lead to acquittals or reduced charges.  Therefore, murder your victim in a gruesome and violent manner.

Step 5. Rush to your girlfriend’s place.

If your girlfriend is a pretend girlfriend as discussed above, this step will be easier on you emotionally.  If it’s your real girlfriend, you may feel a little guilty, but a murder has to do what a murderer has to do.  When you get to her house, bang on the door.  As soon as she opens the door, grab her and kiss her as passionately as possible.  Stop and immediately fall to the ground screaming about a man who lured you to his apartment under false pretenses and then made sexual advances toward you.  Once she is clear on that point, in spite of your near senseless babbling, say, “I killed him… oh my god, I killed him. I snapped when he tried to touch me.”  At this point, your girlfriend should call the police.  Depending on how much she loves you and whether or not she is a decent person, you may have to coax her a bit into calling the police, but don’t make it obvious.

Step 6. The police.

Don’t talk to the police.  You have a right to remain silent.  Your girlfriend will tell them what you said, but it’s important that you not say a word to them – rely on your attorney.

Step 7. Go to jail.

Don’t worry though, you won’t be there forever – just until trial.  Prosecutors may attempt to plea you out, but don’t fret – no jury would send a man to his death for murdering a “faggot.”  Use that word a lot to your lawyer.  Say things like, “That faggot tried to rape me.”

Step 8. Trial.

You are now relying on your lawyer.  Sit back and look as straight as possible.  Try to be “normal” in the eyes of the jury.  It’s important that they see you as a healthy, normal straight man that couldn’t take the disgusting idea that a man would make a pass at you.

Step 9. Jury verdict.

You don’t have much control over this, but if history is any indicator, you have nothing to worry about.  In fact, you’ll likely even get a full acquittal assuming your lawyer used phrases like, “family man” and “normal society” often enough.

Recent cases in review.

Provocation defense in gay banjo bashing murder ‘stupid’: NZ gay community – news – LIVENEWS.com.au.

In this case, the murderer flawed – he did not rush over to his girlfriend’s house and declare his masculinity threatened prior to the arrest.  Therefore, he was not fully acquitted.  Instead, jurors found he was “not guilty” of murder, but guilty of “manslaughter.”

Man Who Stabbed His Gay Neighbor 61 Times Acquitted Using Gay Panic Defense « Unfinished Lives.

This guy did it right.   Jospeh Biedermann went to a bar and got extraordinarily drunk.  So drunk, in fact, that the bar refused to serve him any more liquor.  A neighbor, Terrance Michael Hauser, who Biedermann alleges he never met, invited Biedermann over to his place for drinks.  While there, Biedermann stabbed Terrance 61 times, resulting in Terrance’s death.  Biedermann stuck to the rules above and, in spite of the fact that it cannot be disputed that he killed Terrance, a jury acquitted him.  Why?  He was straight, the victim was gay and he declared Terrance made sexual advances toward him.  He also went to his girlfriend’s house, dripping with Terrance’s blood.  There was so much blood, in fact, that his girlfriend brought bowls out in which Joseph was to place his clothes to prevent dripping.

Gay Panic: From Manslaughter to Assault.

Results such as those achieved by Biedermann are atypical.  In most cases, persons do get charged with something; however, the reduced charge is a slap on the wrist compared to a murder charge.  In another recent case, Robert Lee Hanna was indicted by the grand jury for a misdemeanor offense of assault after murdering 17 year old, Tony Randolph Hunter.  Hanna entered a plea of not guilty and advised he only hit Tony after Tony grabbed his buttock and crotch – thus, Hanna obviously was justified in the murder.

The Gay Panic Defense.

The Gay Panic defense was popularized in 1995 after Jonathan Schmitz, a guest on the Jenny Jones show, murdered Scott Amedure, who confessed he had a crush on Schmitz during the show.  Jonathan was not successful in the defense because there was no immediate response.  This means Jonathan should have immediately murdered Scott to get off on the murder charges, instead he waited three days.

Disclaimer.

While the Gay Panic defense has a remarkable success rate, the results of using this guide are not guarenteed.   Further, this guide is not intended to encourage you to murder people.  Murder is bad, no matter why.  This guide is merely intended to instruct you on how to get away with murder, not to instruct you to murder.  It is intended as a satirical piece illustrating the effects of a corrupt and immoral justice system which, although purportedly blind, sees sexual orientation as a motive – an important note considering those against Hate Crimes Legislation argue that it criminalizes thought and is based upon motive.  It’s sad that I feel obligated to say that this is satire – I do so because history has shown us that this sort of action does result in reduced charges or acquittals – meaning that people actually do this!!!  We are shameful when we award murder and penalize love.

Texas Agencies to Investigate Allegations of their Own Misconduct

July 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Chief HalsteadIn the fight to obtain federal hate crimes legislation, one argument we hear from opponents of the law over and over again is, “a crime is a crime.”  But what people making that argument don’t realize is that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act isn’t just about criminalizing bias based crimes, but also about protecting suspect classes from those who are supposed to protect them.

As previously discussed, on June 28, 2009, the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas was raided by Ft. Worth police officers and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers.  Ft. Worth police chief, Jeff Halstead, has indicated that the Ft. Worth Police Department is investigating allegations of excessive force and police brutality in the raid. Now, TABC has indicated that an investigation has been launched by their agency into the allegations.

Have you noticed the problem with the investigation yet?  The agencies that are accused of the abuse are the very agencies investigating themselves for the alleged abuse.  Imagine for a moment you are accused of a crime.  Police tell you, “It is alleged that you are a serial killer.”  You then turn to police and advise them, “Don’t worry, my husband/wife will be investigating the allegations and we will let you know whether or not I’m guilty.”  That would never be allowed to occur.  The reliability of such investigation would be questionable, at best, and likely completely corrupt.  Would the police trust you to investigate yourself?

Enter the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (the Matthew Shepard Act).  Hate crimes legislation on the federal level already exists for many suspect classes.  The new Act being proposed simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing law.  It would also allow a federal agency authority to investigate bias crimes committed by local law enforcement rather than the local agencies investigating the allegations for themselves.

During the police raid that night, Chad Gibson, while in police custody, received a severe head injury.  This injury isn’t just about police brutality or the raid of a gay bar.  The question that must be answered is whether or not this raid, conducted on the 40th anniversary of police raids of the Stonewall Inn which sparked riots and the gay rights movement as we know it today, was intended to send a message to the community, “You are not wanted here.”  It must be investigated as a hate crime.  Unfortunately, religious ideology, conservative theory and the belief that gays are less of humans than straights have prevented such legislation from being passed.

So, when the TABC claims their investigation indicated they did nothing wrong, when the Ft. Worth Police Department’s investigation of its actions indicate they did nothing wrong, remember – they are investigating themselves because our feirce ally and representatives in the Senate can’t seem to pass a simple, yet necessary law.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: For What It’s Worth.

June 30, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationOver the last few days I have watched the story of the police raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas unfold. Unlike my fellow blogger and friend Jay, I don’t live in Texas. In fact, I have never been to Texas.

I joined the Facebook group, I’ve read blogs from the Huffington Post, the Washington Blade, local and national news sites about this story, trying to understand the real facts of what happened. I noticed a trend in a few comments and realized that I, too, had revealed yet another form of prejudice.

It looks something like this.

What do you expect? It’s Texas.

I’d like to pretend I’m above stereotyping but I wasn’t. And while in my mind it was meant teasingly, that doesn’t mean it’s ok. Don’t believe I’m capable of that? Oh, but I am.  On the Sunday morning after this police raid, a Texas church invited it’s congregation to bring a gun to church day. I made the sarcastic remark, to Jay in an email that, after what happened at the Rainbow Lounge, no wonder it’s legal to carry a loaded weapon in Texas and maybe people need to take them to gay bars. (Don’t try this at home. Not even in Texas.)

Those of us who think we live in what we like to believe are more progressive states are thinking, “This couldn’t happen where I live.” “This kind of thing only happens in the South.” “This kind of thing only happens in Red States.”

This kind of thing happens everywhere. A few facts, as always, from Geekgirl.

Approximately 55 to 60% of Texans support same sex marriage or civil unions.

So how does that compare to a supposedly Blue State like my own, Wisconsin? We have two Democratic Senators, a Democratic Governor, the first out lesbian Congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin. Here’s how.

In 2006, almost 60% of Wisconsinites approved that states amendment. But less than three years later, recent polls indicate that percentage would be significantly lower now. Only 55% of people in a nationwide poll conducted by Quinnipiac University said they were opposed to gay marriage last month. And 57% said they favored allowing gay couples to form civil unions that would provide marriage-like rights.

Not much different. Oh wait. Do they have this law in Texas?

Wisconsin is a state that imposes criminal penalties on residents if they enter a marriage outside the state that would be prohibited in the state. The law was created to prohibit underage couples from crossing state lines to marry, but it could be interpreted to apply to same-sex marriages.

That’s right folks. If you are gay and get legally married somewhere else, you could be a criminal in Wisconsin.

But how does Wisconsin compare to Texas with respect to crimes against gays and lesbians?

Right now, about 80 miles from very liberal Madison, there is a Christian group suing to burn a school library book about a gay teenager who experiences homophobia and bullying. You might be thinking, but that isn’t beating up people. No. But there could be a gay teenager for whom that book would be a lifesaver.

Last summer, two gay people were attacked coming out of a bar in one of our nearby, liberal suburbs. Last fall, my husband and I went to the Nov. 15th protest against the results of Proposition 8.  I was waiting for my husband to run and put more money in the parking meter and we lagged behind the march for a few moments. A young man came up to me and asked what was going on. When I explained, he said, “Disgusting faggots,” spit on the ground and walked away. I was so stunned I couldn’t even respond. I was still stuck with “In Madison? We don’t have those kind of people here.”

Oh yes we do. And so do you.

If I were not involved in gay activism, I can tell you what my reaction to this news story would be.

The requisite liberal moment of compassion, outrage and smugness.

Then I would have moved on. “That’s awful. Honey, what do you want to do today, it’s Sunday?” We acknowledge these terrible things that happen but we don’t feel them. Too many terrible things happen in a day. And if we aren’t gay, it doesn’t get past our liberal intelligence and politically correct emotional response.

But what if you are LGBT?

I have a young friend, who is centuries wiser than her mere 19 years of age,  who wrote this to me in a recent letter. I was so moved, so heartbroken, that I am keeping this letter for life.

I mean, just TODAY I heard (John’s)  friend ran away from home just for being gay because his parents were going to send him back to  (a Middle Eastern country) to probably get him stoned to death – just for being gay. He’s not even trans! He didn’t even sleep with a guy! He was just honest!-An hour later, my transfriend posts another note on his facebook crying for help/venting his frustration with his oblivious family who forces him in dresses, to which his family of friends all responded with speechlessness and ‘less than three‘ hearts. -Three hours later, I’m reading about my gay friend’s exboyfriend who committed suicide, a year ago tomorrow, for being some kind of member of the LGBT community, too young to figure out which.

This happens every day to me, to everybody, everyday, everywhere.

We hear about these things in our own personal localized lives as much as most adults hear about wanted criminals for theft, rape, kidnap, and murder on the local nightly news. Only, we know the victims personally and we know the suspects just as well, if not better then the friends – who, for most, ARE our only family – who we lose in these hate crimes of varying degrees.
Actually, I think the only difference between seeing a drawing of a criminal on your local news every night and hearing about things like that every day is when it’s personal, it’s not nearly as desensitizing, but still just as frequent. So even though you see it happen all the time, you don’t think of it less because of that.
(Emphasis added)

Hate does not have boundaries. Not by state, religion, political party or sexual orientation.

For one minute. An entire 60 seconds, watch the clock, you are gay. Let it soak in. Think of how much you love your heterosexual partner. Only now, the only difference is that your sweetie is the same gender. Would you be willing to do the experiment of pretending to be gay, in public, with a friend of the same gender, gay or straight? Would you let your body language betray that you are lovers, not friends? Would you show affection to that person, publicly?

Be honest.