Saturday, March 28, 2015

Religious Freedom Bill Enslaving



With the public’s growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, there seems to be a desperate push to put into operation draconian outdated (1993) religious protection laws. Already passed by twenty states, this law prevents people from being compelled to provide such services such as catering or photography for same-sex weddings.  It allows business, for example, to refuse actions that impose “a substantial burden” on their religious beliefs.  If that refusal is challenged in court, a judge must balance the religious burden with the state’s “compelling interest in preventing discrimination,” according to the law.

Pence: " If I thought It Legalized Discrimination In Any Way, I Would Have Vetoed It!"

On March 26, 2015, Indiana’s Republican State Senator Mike Pence signed into law a religious objections bill that will take place in July.  An outcry immediately followed. http://www.lgbtqnationcom/2015/03/hundred-rally-at-indiana-state-capitol-in opposition-to-anti-lgbt-religious-freedom. The protestors, mostly in the arts, business, and college athletics, are afraid that the law will give license to discriminate against LGBT persons.

Twitter was abuzz with tweets against Pence’s endorsement: Hillary Clinton:  “sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today;” Broadway star Audra MacDonald threatened to pull out of a coming Indiana performance because she has two gay band members;” actor George Takei called himself “outraged” and suggested a boycott of the state; Seattle Mayor Ed Murray prohibits Indiana travel for his city employees; Apple’s Tim Cook tweeted that “Apple is open for everyone We are deeply disappointed in Indiana’s new law and called on Arkansas Governor to veto a similar #HB 1228 bill;” San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee has joined others to boycott Indiana over RFRA; Angie’s List now wants to expand its business in another state due to the new Indiana law.

The Wild, Wild West

The state that brought you Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage by voters, has proposed a voter initiative called “The Sodomite Suppression Act.” The Cause Celebre of Huntington Beach, California lawyer, Matthew G. McLaughlin, the initiative mandates that any person who has sexual relations with someone of the same gender be “put to death by bullets to the head.” Not much different than Isis throwing hooded homosexuals off buildings?

It is doubtful that McLaughlin is going to obtain the 365,880 signatures needed to put it on the ballot.  The Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, who is running for Senate, is putting a squelch on McLaughlin’s initiative. Two days ago, Harris decided to file an action “for declaratory relief seeking judicial authorization to not issue a title and summary for act .”If the court does not grant this relief, she affirms, “that her office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism.”

Utah Finds Balance

Even Utah, the second most Republican state and fourth most conservative state in the country, managed to pass the week of March 13th, a pair of bills that banned discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment and housing while carving out accommodations for individuals and institutions with conscience-based objections to these measures.  While individual local officials who object to same-sex marriage are not required to preside over such ceremonies, for example, but each local office is responsible for doing so.” As Senator Stuart Adams of Utah’s 22nd District contends, “if Utah can do this, it can be done anywhere in the nation.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Boycotting LGBT Hurts Feelings, Business Income, And Tarnishes State's Reputation


First, the bakeries refused to make cakes for same-sex weddings. The florists reneged on doing the flowers for gay weddings. The hotels were all set to have weddings for couples until they found out they were lesbians. The judges in the marriage bureaus closed their doors; they’d rather not do any weddings than have to perform gay wedding ceremonies.

Under the same guise, more recently, a Christian College Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI canceled a bake sale for gay youth. The bake sale was intended to help Fierce Chicago, a non-profit that helps homeless LGBT youth.

The university’s unofficial gay-straight alliance, AULL4ONE, organized the sale. While Andrews has no problem helping homeless youth, they do have a problem helping gay youth or “being served by an organization that doesn’t take a proactive stance against “the LGBT issue.”

Who Has The Last Laugh?

To circumvent the university’s administration, Andrews University’s students created an IndieGoGo page to send donations to Fierce Chicago.  They surpassed the amount they were hoping to raise!
Possible Supreme Court Decision for Nationwide Rt. to Gay Marriage Worries Business
Christian universities are not the only ones exercising their religious convictions. If the Supreme Court makes same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states after it takes up the matter on April 28th, businesses and individuals will opt out of serving gay couples on religious grounds.

If establishments shut their doors to the gay population, they will lose valuable income and their state’s image could be tarnished. The Georgia Senate has already approved a version of the religious freedom legislation by a vote of 37 to 15.  Similar bills have been introduced in Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Michigan, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which claims that the current bills would empower “any individual to sue the government to attempt to end the enforcement of a non-discrimination law.”

Gay Rights Groups Say It’s Discrimination

If a business can rationalize its conscience with religion, what is to prevent a business from not serving a Muslim, a Jew, an African-American, or a gay person?  Recently, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) stated in an op-ed at The Washington Examiner that “if Chipotle Mexican Grill can choose its meat, so we can discriminate against gays.” In other words, because Chipotle has a choice in the types of sustainable pork it serves, religious-run businesses should have a choice in the types of customers they serve.  Freedom of religion is explicitly protected by the First Amendment.”

In Indiana, on March 23, the House passed a bill to protect business owners who do not want to provide services for same-sex couples. Bakers and florists and other people will not be forced to act contrary to their religious beliefs.  Governor Mike Pence has indicated he will support the bill that, in another version, was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Is it discrimination or First Amendment Constitutional Protection?  I’d like to know your answer.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are Straight Kids "Hurting" With Same-Sex Parents?



Heather Barwick seems to think so.  Now, a mother of four in South Carolina, Heather, a heterosexual, whose mother left Heather’s father for another woman, does not support gay marriage.

Despite being raised in a liberal community in the ‘80’s and 90’s by her lesbian mother and her partner, in a time with collapsed boundaries, Heather thinks there are drawbacks to being raised in a same-sex relationship.

She was an advocate for gay marriage into her 20’s and felt loved by both her “stepmom” and her mom, who knew she was gay before she married her Dad. Her lesbian family taught her “how to be brave, have empathy, how to listen, and how to stand up for herself.”

But, as she wrote in The Federalist as well as the Christian publication World, she’s had a change of heart.  She also recently endorsed Dolce & Gabbana’s ad. Her point: “Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s the same.  But it’s not.”

It Isn’t the Same

Just as adoption isn’t the same as parenting a biological child, a child of a same-sex couple does face unique challenges:  for example, who’s the Dad or Mom in the relationship?, the child gets teased in school, his parent may be called a “faggot,”  he may not want to have a friend home because his house is “different.” He may internalize homophobia.

Heather says she has struggled as an adult figuring out how to be in relationship with her husband. “It really wasn’t until I came to Christ that I felt the burden lifted off of me.  And I’m not bitter, I’m not angry.  I forgive my Dad.”

Yet, it doesn’t sound as if she does: “He left when I was two or three and didn’t bother to come around. He wasn’t a great Dad.” Abigail Garner, author of Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is, 2005, also a straight child of a divorced gay parent, who studied other families like hers, believes that Barwick “was conflating the abandonment issues she has with her father with her experience of being raised by a same-sex couple.”

For Every Cynic, There’s a Zach Wahls

Remember Zach Wahls, the nineteen year-old highly accomplished student who testified against Iowa’s gay marriage ban in 2011?  Arguing in front of Iowa’s House of Representatives, Wahls, who wrote a book My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family in 2012, pointed to his own life as an example that children of gay couples turn out fine. Lawmakers, he said, shouldn’t fear that same-sex marriages will result in maladjusted kids. To Wahls, gay families are just as normal  heterosexual ones.

Christian Organizations Would Have You Think Differently

In 2014, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, Mark Regnerus did an erroneous study of gay couples.  Only two of his test subjects were raised by same-gender parents from birth. Yet, Regnerus’s research is used as ammunition by right-wing Christian groups even though his study was commissioned by groups affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage.

More Reliable Results

In 2014, the findings from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, released by the University of Melbourne, showed that kids of same-gender parents actually fare better than kids brought up in heterosexual families.

When measuring general health and family cohesion, the children of lesbian and gay parents scored nearly 6% higher than the general population. (in other areas such as mood, behavior, temperament and mental health, the straight parents and the lesbian and gay parents scored equally).

TIME WILL TELL

Recent polls reflect the majority approval of same-sex marriage in the United States.  In the future, it will be interesting to study the effects that same-sex marriage have on the children therein.

If the children are loved, paid attention to, and raised with morals, it would be hardpressed to regard their same-sex family as inferior.  Different, yes, but not inferior. However, because the LGBT population will always be a minority group, it will be criticized.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's Not About Being Irish



New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is 253 years old this March 17th.  Saint Patrick’s Day or Feast of St. Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration of the traditional death date of  St. Patrick (c.AD 385-461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

What It’s Become

What started out as a celebration of Irish heritage, the wearing of Green, the Grand Marshal and the Irish Wolfhound leading the parade marchers waving flags, has turned into a controversy of who gets to parade? In recent years, Cardinal Dolan would not let gay groups march as their stance on equal marriage conflicted with the Roman Catholic view of marriage as defined between a man and a woman, yet he is the Grand Marshal this year, thanks to the influence and  a softening of the exclusion of LGBT persons by His Holiness Pope Francis. Said Cardinal Dolan, “ after receiving numerous complaints from Catholics, “OUT@NBCUNIVERSAL is not promoting an agenda contrary to church teaching, but simply identifying themselves as gay people of Irish Ancestry.”

PARADE ORGANIZERS VS. ACTIVISTS

The anti-gay stance of the tourist-friendly Manhattan Parade is at odds with not only Ireland that heads towards a national referendum on marriage equality, but with a prevailing U.S. attitude that gay marriage is acceptable.

The corporate sponsor NBC planned on having an LGBT contingent marching under an OUT@NBC banner, will be the only gay group allowed to carry a gay pride sign.  But this decision  has drawn criticism.  As City Council Member Daniel Dromm said: “The issue has never been about having a gay group in the parade.  It has always been about having an Irish gay group.

Boycotting The NYC Parade

LGBT groups are set to boycott the Parade tomorrow.  Even the Mayor and The City Council won’t attend because of the controversy surrounding the exclusion of LGBT groups. De Blasio chose to participate instead in a Queens smaller gay-friendly parade. He also boycotted the NYC 2014 St. Patrick’s Parade, along with Guinness, due to its absence of LGBT groups. This year, Guinness, as well as Heineken, will march.

Other Cities, Other Agendas

The capital’s annual parade last Sunday had more than forty people led by the Center for the LGBT Community, The parade has always been inclusive.
Beantown for the first time made history last Sunday when gay groups marched openly for the first time in years. Until now, gay rights groups have been barred by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council from marching in the parade that sometimes can draw as many as a million spectators yearly.
Two gay and lesbian groups, Boston Pride and OutVets joined the parade last Sunday. They were joined by Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and other Massachusetts political leaders. Although Boston is heavily Catholic, Massachusetts was the first U.S. State to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.
 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is Pride School Atlanta Another Form of Segregation?

I recently read that Atlanta was going to create the region's first non-profit school for LGBTQQIA educators, students and families.  Called Pride School Atlanta, it would cater to pre-K to 8 students. Pride Atlanta, a private school, is still raising money in hopes for opening its doors, in town on Piedmont Road, for the 2015-6 academic year.

The school is the brainchild of Christian Zsilavetz, 44, a transgender teacher who is also certified by GLSEN (Gay, Straight, Lesbian Education Network). Says Zeilavetz, a married father of two, " I want a place where queer and trans families can bring their kids and not have to worry about being the token lesbian or token gay family."

The School of Hard Knocks

Recently, GLSEN reported that 56% of LGBT students have faced discriminatory practices and policies at school.  Every student deserves a safe environment in which to learn.  It is harder to learn when you hear homophobic remarks daily.

I recall times when my son, a middle school student, was being harassed and called a "faggot." He complained to his guidance counselor who "fixed" the problem, at least temporarily.  Not all school professionals do!  When he was a local high school student, he was teased less, but refused to join a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) for fear of divulging his true identity.  When he was bullied, his girlfriends protected him.

Harvey Milk High School

When the nation's first public high school for gay, transgender, and lesbian youth in New York City opened its doors in 1985, taxpayers groused about monies going to such a small public school.  At that time, it was a non-diploma-granting institution.  By 2001, it became an accredited four year diploma-granting high school.  Since then, it has been renovated and expanded, thus proving the need for such an exclusive school.

Pride School Atlanta.  Is It Separate But Equal?

Are private schools for LGBTIQ families considered segregation?  They are for minority groups.  According to the Centers for Disease Control's National Health Information Survey, people claiming to be LGBTQ make up less than 5% of America.  Do they really need their own school?

Will Pride School Atlanta be life-saving or postpone the inevitable gay bashing that LGBTQUIA persons face in a society that's homophobic?  Wouldn't educating the public have a greater effect than harboring a few behind closed doors?

What do you think?  Do you condone establishing a special school specifically for students based on sexual orientation?

I'd like to hear your opinion.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Your Child Should Come Out To His Doctor

You want the best for your LGBT child, not only for his mental health, but also for his physical health as well. Your family physician is usually the prime care provider for LGBT youth from the ages of 15 to 24.

Lesbian Health Issues

Aside from family acceptance being a protective factor against depression, substance abuse and suicidal ideation and attempts, these physical issues are more prevalent for lesbians and should be discussed with their healthcare provider.

  • Breast Cancer.  Lesbians are more likely to have risk factors for breast cancer yet less likely to get screening exams.
  • Greater depression and anxiety that take their toll on their bodies and result from the chronic stress from discrimination.
  • Gynecological Cancer.  Compared to heterosexuals, lesbians have higher risks for certain types of gynecological cancers such as ovarian cancer.  They need to be screened for STDs. They can get the same sexually transmitted drugs as heterosexual women. Your daughter needs regular pelvic exams, including pap tests, and the HPVvaccine for women up to age 26.
  • Obesity or Overweight.  Lesbians are more apt to be overweight or obese leading to Diabetes and heart disease.  Generally, they have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index).  
  • Tobacco Use.  More often than heterosexuals, lesbians smoke more often and may drink more.
  • Drug Usage.  Lesbians may use drugs more often than heterosexual women.  They need to be taught how to find healthy ways to cope.
                     source: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/.../lesbian-health-concerns-htm

Gay Health Issues 

  • If you child is gay, have him tell his doctor if he is being sexual and if he has been exposed to an HIV positive person.
  • Hepatitis Immunization and Screening.  Gays are at increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver, hepatitis.  There are immunizations for Hepatitis A and B Virus.  Safe sex can be effective at reducing the risk of viral hepatitis and is currently the only means of prevention for Hepatitis C.
  • HPV is a virus that causes genital warts and can lead to anal cancer. Some health professionals now recommend routine screening with anal Pap smears.
  • STDs are tricky.  You can have one without symptoms but still give it to others.  Sexually transmitted diseases occur in sexually active gay men at a high rate.
  • Eating Disorders: "Do I Look Fat?" Body image can be more common among gay men.  They are more likely to have eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. Obesity can affect many gay men and lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Substance Abuse. Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population. Club drugs such as Ecstasy, amphetamines, marijuana, and amyl nitrate ("poppers") are common among gay users.
  • Greater depression and anxiety found in gay men, particularly if they are in the closet and do not have adequate social support, so the conditions worsen.
  • Tobacco Usage.  Several studies show that gay men use tobacco at higher rates, by as much as 50%.
                     source: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/.../gay-health-concerns-htm

GLMA for GLBT Health Care Professionals

Few physicians are trained to address the sexual orientation of their LGBT patients. Added to this complication is the fact that LGBT kids may be shy about disclosing their sexual orientation for fear of disapproval or embarrassment.

If your child is reluctant to disclose his/her sexual orientation, perhaps you should find a physician from GLMA, Gay Lesbian Medical Association, an organization of more than 1,000 GLBT health care professionals. Your child should be able to tell the health care provider that she is LGBT.  After this contact, the clinician should ask the patient specific questions and offer appropriate testing.                    

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Give Me A "B!" "B!" What Does It Spell? Bisexual!

The only person who seemed to understand bisexuality was Sigmund Freud.  He theorized that we were all born bisexual and that our sexual orientation was a continuum. Freud believed that later we became either straight or gay because of the relationships around us.

Bis Often Left Out of LGBT Considerations

Yet, despite Freud's theories, both straights and gays criticize bisexuals rather than being allies of them.  To them, it's not a real sexual term.  Straights consider them gay.  Gays want bis to make a choice, as if they are indecisive about their orientation.  Heterosexuals think they are promiscuous as they must be having more sex with both males and females. Bisexuals can't win.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates, based on its research, that bisexuals comprise roughly half of the total LGBT population or approximately 4 million Americans.  This statistic is slightly more than than the number identifying as gay or lesbian. However, bis are often left out of speeches, news releases, and news reports that allude to LGTs, according to Ellyn Ruthstrom, the former President of Bisexual Resource Center in Boston who says there are few bi political leaders except for Representative Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and now Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, age 54.

With Democratic Governor John Kithaber having stepped down due to an ethics scandal involving his fiancee, Brown became the first openly bisexual governor on February 18.  Oregon is no stranger to gay candidates.  Tina Kotez, House Speaker, is gay as is Mayor Sam Brown. Married to Dan Little, Brown spent six years as Oregon Secretary of State and another eighteen as Senate Majority Leader in the State Legislature.

Pinning Hopes For BI Community

With Brown in office, the bisexual community is hoping to be included in many civil rights' campaigns that LGT communities have promoted.  Some of Brown's work during her eighteen years in Oregon's State Legislature was aimed at boosting LGBT rights.

Of course, some day when minority groups have equal rights, one hopes that a politician's sexual orientation shouldn't be mentioned nor should it matter.  But for right now, it does.