Friday, July 15, 2016

Conversion Therapy Still Endorsed by Republicans

Family Research Council Hammers Home

The President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, succeeded in introducing an amendment to the Republican Platform affirming “the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy for their minor children.”

You know what this means…The FRC approves of conversion or so-called reparative therapy, aka. pray-the-gay-away therapy.  Although conversion therapy has been banned in New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, California, Vermont, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, and in 2015, Cincinnati, Ohio passed the 1st city level conversion therapy ban, the FRC, a Christian public policy ministry, is all about religious liberty and right-wing causes at the expense of the LGBT population.

Traditional Family Values Don’t Reflect Modern Society

The American Psychiatric Association knows better.  It disapproves of conversion therapy.  In 1973, homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder by the APA.  It opposes psychiatric treatment based upon the assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation and describes attempts to change sexual orientation by practitioners as UNETHICAL!

Dangers of Conversion Therapy

There don’t seem to be any long-term studies of conversion therapy.  Organizations such as NARTH don’t disclose the side effects in its propaganda.  This kind of so-called therapy may cause social harm by disseminating unscientific views about sexual orientation.

Rarely, does conversion therapy work in the long run.  It can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness and suicide.

Better Means for Coping

If you are Republican, religious, and having trouble accepting your LGBT child’s sexual orientation, try consulting these organizations that have proven track records for parental support:

Family Acceptance Project

 The Parents Project

PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians and Gays, now includes bisexuals and transgenders)

Monday, July 4, 2016

We Celebrate Our Independence Today

And Our Inclusive Military Policy

Yet, just six days ago, transgender members of the U.S. Military served in silence and were considered unfit for serving openly.  According to Palm Center, an independent think tank that researches issues of sexuality, there are 12,800 actively serving transgender members of U.S. Military currently serving secretly.  The Department of Defense’s medical regulations prohibited their service and required their separation from the military.

Over a year ago, the American Medical Association approved a resolution that concluded there is no medically valued reason to block transgender individuals from military service.  The Defense Department dragged its heels until it was goaded by its first openly gay U.S. Army Secretary, Eric Fanning and President Obama.

Honor, Dignity and Courage

“We have to have access to 100% of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified and to retain them,” emphasized Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

By ending the ban on transgenders, the military and our nation will be strengthened.  The transgender service people want to be held to the same standards as their straight counterparts.

The military services are likely to ask for a period to educate the force before the transgender-friendly policy is put into place while Carter is in office.  Considerations are uniforms, grooming, and bathroom usage.  In order to qualify,  transgender recruits must have completed medical treatment their doctor has determined to be appropriate.

If transgendered military personnel are willing to die for their country, it’s only right that they are allowed to be themselves and serve openly. Eighteen other nations have known this before the U.S. came to its senses.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Don't Believe Everything You Read!

Call me gullible but when I read that President Obama had declared June 26, 2016 as National Equality Day, I was thrilled!  It made sense. After all, June is Gay Pride Month, according to Obama.

 The month of June has many LGBT victories: On June 26, The Supreme Court decided in favor of  James Obergefell (Obergefell  v. Hodges) that set a precedent for same-sex marriage throughout the United States just a year ago. The laws banning so-called sodomy were struck down in Lawrence v. Texas.on June 26th in 2003, and a significant part of the Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. U.S.) was coincidentally struck down on June 26th .

In just three days, Stonewall, the gay bar and tavern on Christopher Street will have its forty-seventh anniversary of its riot against the police who were trying to raid  their hangout. Some consider that retaliation against the police the official beginning of the modern gay rights movement that lead to pro civil rights’ groups.

This week, The White House did designate Stonewall a national monument, an addition to America’s National Park System. All of these June events were the result of courage by the LGBT community against the status quo.  Obama called these fighters “heroes and deserve to be recognized for their courage and sacrifice.”  Supposedly, the President added, “I can’t think of anything more deserving of a national holiday than fight for equality.”

As these accomplishments by the LGBT population could warrant a federal holiday just like Martin Luther King Day, I was surprised to learn and miffed that this was a canard. An article spoofed U.S. Today in which Obama supposedly called on Congress to enshrine June 26th as National Equality Day.

Supposedly, it was reported to many blogs that President Obama told comedian and podcast political commentator Marc Maron that he couldn’t think of anything more deserving. Congress didn’t add National Equality Day to the calendar nor did he use his executive order to declare June 26th as National Equality Day.

Too bad as the LGBT long struggle for equal rights has finally been recognized so why make light of it?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Backlash of Gay Rights During Gay Pride Month

President Obama proclaimed on May 31st that June is LGBT month.  Said he, “ I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people. “

Despite his announcement, on the cusp of Gay Pride Month, Omar Marteen, who lives in St. Lucie County,  Florida and has sworn his allegiance to the Islamic State, decided that LGBT persons are better off dead than living their lives as homosexuals. Isis doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state.  Consequently, he killed more than fifty LGBT persons in a gay nightclub called Pulse in Orlando.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and what Obama called an “act of terror against people who are LGBTQ. It was an attack on the fundamental belief in equality and dignity for all people.”

Although Gay Pride celebrates the advancement of civil rights for gays, from a time when it was illegal for LGBT people to congregate at a bar or for bars to  even serve LGBT people. (hence the Stonewall Inn rebellion in June 1969).  It also celebrates sexual and gender identities in public.

But recent happenings also remind us that we have a long way to go.  Unrelated to the Pulse shooting, James Wesley Howell, 20, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, was headed to the West Hollywood, California gay pride parade.  However, he wasn’t planning on marching or being in solidary with the LGBT population.

He, like Marteen, came equipped to harm.  Howell was found with three assault rifles and chemicals used to make explosives in his car and was stopped by police.
Unrelated to the nightclub massacre in Florida, Howell’s plan gives one pause.  How many others are out there with similar hatred? How can we assure safety for LGBT citizens?

While great strides in LGBT rights such as legalized gay marriage, gay adoption, why this backlash? What do you think? As a mother of a gay son, I worry for his safety as well as others.

Frank Langella, in his Tony Acceptance Speech on June 12th, said “when something bad happens, we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us. “ United in spirit and offering food, shelter, and blood to those who were maimed, let us continue to support those in need of equality.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Segregation All Over Again?

A few weeks ago, I was at the welcoming LGBT Community Center on west 13th Street in New York City.  I wanted to look at the space at the BGSQD (bookstore/event hall) within this well-known community center.

As you might expect, all their restrooms are LGBT-friendly.  I eventually had to use the facilities so I went into a stall in one of the restrooms.   There were, I think, judging from the shoe sizes, two men in the next two stalls.

It didn’t seem weird to me at all.  I wasn’t mugged, accosted. I minded my own business as I took care of business. My experience has me wondering why conservatives like actress Stacey Dash likes bathroom laws that are subject to court battles like in Mississippi and North Carolina that require transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with their birth.  Dash’s rationale:  “why do I have to suffer because you can’t decide what you wanna’ be that day? I’m not gonna’ put my child’s life at risk because you want to change a law.”

Her remarks are understated compared to evangelist James Dobson’s comments in his latest piece for the Right Wing organization “Family Talk.”   Dobson called President Obama a tyrant , “warping our children” for legalizing unisex bathrooms for public school students.” Writes Dobson,  “would you remain passive after knowing that a strange-looking man, dressed like a woman, has been peeking over toilet cubicles to watch your wife in a private moment? What should be done to the perverts who was using mirrors to watch your children?

You have a greater chance of being harassed in a bathroom by a sex offender who is straight.  I am waxing philosophic here but I think people criticize what they don’t understand.  And transgendered people are misunderstood.  The statistics are alarming:

  • 41% of trans people have attempted suicide.
  • 58.7% of gender non-conforming students have experienced verbal harassment in the past year because of their gender expression compared to 29% of their peers.
  • 49% of transgenders reported physical abuse in a 2007 survey.
  • 50% of trans persons have been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner.•
Trans people of color are more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with police than white cisgender survivors of violence. 
  • 1 in 5 transgender people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
  • 1 in 8 have been evicted from their housing due to their transgender status.
  • 80% of trans students feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression. 

                                   Statistics from

Transgendered persons need to blend into mainstream society, as LGB people have done recently.   They need to be visible. Dobson’s rhetoric is apprehensible – akin to  the late Governor George Wallace’s remarks favoring segregation of blacks in the mid-1960’s.

Transgenders should not fear for their lives when they come out of the closet or, for that matter, use the water closet.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

This Memorial Day, We Remember Those Who Serve/d, Those Who Couldn’t Serve.

Today, I am remembering my grandfather, born 1887, who received Belgian’s Croix de Guerre, my great grandfather, a Lieutenant in the Coast Guard Navy during the Spanish American War, who received a Congressional Medal of Honor, and my husband, who received a Purple Heart  for his injuries inflicted during operating a helicopter during the Tet Offensive, January 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War.
And those who are currently serving sometimes multiple times in Afghanistan and other countries.

The War Within

But I’m also thinking of the gay and lesbian citizens who were prohibited from serving in the armed forces for seventeen years.  Or those who were disgraced with a discharge before the repeal of  ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in 2011.  To say the least, it wasn’t easy for them even though they can re-enlist.

And what about transgenders?

Where We Stand Now

On May 12, in a Q & A with the U.S. Naval Academy, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said there are military ‘practical issues’ to lifting the ban against transgenders such as grooming, hormone treatment, uniforms, etc.

However, last July he announced plants to lift the prohibition on transgendered troops. Carter called the current regulations “outdated and are causing uncertainity that distract commanders from our core missions.”  It is estimated that up to 15,000 of the roughly 2.2 million active-duty and reserve troops now serving may be transgender people.

First Openly Gay U.S. Secretary of the Army

In some regards, progress in the military is reflected with the appointment of the Army’s first openly gay Secretary, Eric Fanning.  Fanning’s record is impressive:  He was previously appointed Acting Secretary of the Army’s Senior Civilian Assistant and principal adviser on matters related to the management and operation of the Army.

From April 2013 until February 2015, Fanning served as the 24th Under Secretary of the Air Force.  From June 2013 through December, 2013, he was Acting Secretary of the Air Force and from 2009 to 2013, he was Deputy Chief Management Officer in the U.S. Navy. .

On June 1st, Fanning will receive the Paving the Way Award that” honors those in public life who have shown courage and leadership in helping to advance the cause of LGBT rights” during Washington, D.C.’s annual Pride events.

Human Rights Campaign’s President, Chad Griffin called Fanning’s confirmation “historic and a demonstration of continued progress toward fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces.”

We await the change.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month, But Not Every State Honors It

Tennessee and Mississippi Have Discriminatory Laws

Last month, Republican Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee signed into law House Bill 1840 that legalizes discrimination against LGBT people.  The law allows counselors to cite religious beliefs for refusing services to LGBT patients. Originally, the terminology of the bill allowed for “sincerely held beliefs,” but the state House then broadened phrasing to “sincerely held principles.”

Religious Freedom Bill

Tennessee is the only state to allow counselors, because of their “ sincerely held principles,” to turn away potential LGBT clients. Denounced by the American Counseling Association as a “hate bill” against gay and transgender people.

According to the ACA, it violates the group’s code of ethics that delineates that mental health professional can refuse to serve patients in the name of
‘Christian love’ because it compromises the therapists’ “goals, outcomes or behaviors.”

While the bill does not give a mental health professional the right to turn away any patient who is experiencing an emergency nor an excuse from an obligation to refer a patient to another professional, what it does do is discriminate against a marginalized group who already may experience prejudice and is in need of help.
A group who is constantly fighting for their rights that heterosexuals take for granted and witnesses harassment is going to be more in need of psychotherapy than the general population.

Mississippi House Bill 1523

Similarly, Governor Phil Bryant (R) rationalized his Bill, also passed last month, in the name of  “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination.”  House Bill 1523 legislates discrimination by allowing private and public business to refuse business to same-sex couples because of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

It allows florists, wedding photographers, bakeries, and other wedding-affiliated services, for example, to deny business to gay couples with nuptials although the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

Despite the progress in civil rights for LGBT people, there continues to be a conservative backlash in this country.  It doesn’t make for equality or good mental health.