Monday, April 27, 2015

Supreme Court Argues Gay Marriage Tomorrow


What’s At Stake on April 28th?

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the marriage cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.  All of these states have marriage bans upheld by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati in November.  That appeals court is the only one that has ruled in favor of the states since the 2013 Windsor decision when the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Although the United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage ban, the majority of courts across the United States said its logic goaded them to invalidate state laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

For two-and-a-half hours, the court, will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges ( Obergell, legally married to John Arthur, now deceased, is suing because Ohio refused to list him as his spouse on the death certificate). However, the proceedings will not be broadcast on radio or television or live-streamed on the Internet, nor photographed.  What a bummer! We have to wait for tweets from journalists in the courtroom or be satisfied with an audio recording of the arguments by 2 p.m. on the same day.

What Are The Issues?

Question 1:  Does the Fourteenth Amendment (which protects individuals against unwarranted restrictions on their liberty and requires equal treatment) require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? In other words, can states define marriage as the union of a man and woman?

Marriage-right supporters believe that states lack any valid reason to deny the right to marry. State laws that don’t allow everyone to marry violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and make they and their families less than heterosexual couples.  To gay marriage supporters, leaving the states to decide who can marry smacks of discrimination as in Loving v. Virginia, a case in which an interracial heterosexual couple was banned from marriage until the Supreme Court struck down race-based marriage bans in 1967.

Question 2:  Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
States respond that they have always set the rules for marriage. Voters in individual states have settled issues with bans and policies that have changed their constitutions to limit marriage to a man and a woman. They are against courts “imposing” a solution that should be left to the political process and espouse that it is an infringement on states’ rights.

Solicitor Generals and Civil Rights defenders have specific time allotted for arguments and rebuttals for their cases. The Ohio plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges are supported by amicus briefs (friends-of-the-court) from former N.F.L. player Chris Kluwe to the past Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman as well as various religious denominations.

Gallup:  Public Approval of Same-sex Marriage Growing

Today, thirty-six states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. In 2004, only Massachusetts allowed such marriages. A WashingtonPost-ABC poll released this past week found that sixty-one percent of Americans said they support allowing gays to marry. A Gallup poll released on April 24th found that nearly 2 million adults are part of a same-sex couple, of whom about 780,000 are married.
Although the Supreme Court decision is not expected until the end of June, one can hope that SCOTUS will make gay marriage the law of the land and the states with bans will be forced to end restrictions.  Human dignity is on trial.


Friday, April 24, 2015

LGBTQ Alphabet Primer



About a year ago, April 1, 20014, I write a blog entitled http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/2014/01/14/not-your-mother's alphabet-anymore/. A year later, the gender spectrum still confuses readers.  In fact, two days ago, a writer for Psychology Today put an ad on HARO (Help A Reporter Out) seeking a psychiatrist or psychologist to explain the difference between homosexuality and transgender issues for “heterosexuals who frequently combine and confuse them.”

Broad Misunderstood Meanings

People, thinking they mean the same, often confuse the terms sex and gender. Sex refers to biological differences that includes a person’s chromosomes and physical body. Intersex is a word to describe people who are born with both male and female sex markers (genitalia, hormones, chromosomes). It’s a newer term for hermaphrodite.

GENDER

While gender is usually assigned at birth, along with sex, it refers to the behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits typically associated with one sex.  It’s not just about being male or female and being placed in a binary system of male and female, man and woman, and boy and girl. If you are cisgender, your physical body matches your gender identity.

It is possible to be gender-free or agender too.

What Is Gender Identity?

Some people identify as non-binary and consider themselves neither men or women. Gender identity refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identity as male or female. It can include one’s sex (man, woman, intersex), one’s identification of their sex (transman, transwoman), or one’s location on the masculine/feminine spectrum, and one’s attitude toward gender (genderqueer, gender fluid, etc.) People are gender queer if their gender expression and/or identity doesn’t exactly align with the gender assigned at birth. Gender fluid is gender identity in which one views one’s gender as fluid and constantly changing.

What Is Gender Expression?

Gender expression is connected to gender identity, but one’s gender identity cannot be assumed from one’s gender expression because a person may dress in a more “masculine” or androgenous manner, but identify as female.

What Is Sexual Orientation?

Sexual orientation is a physical or emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender. Words used to describe one’s sexual orientation include homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual (attracted to people regardless of gender), asexual (not sexually attracted to anyone), gay, straight, and queer.

Transgender is not a sexual orientation and the most misunderstood.  It is associated with people whose gender identity do not match their assigned birth gender ‘though transgender people may identify as heterosexual. Many transgenders do not feel they are “cross dressing” but rather dressing to reflect the gender with which they identify.  Drag queens and Drag Kings do not necessary identify as trans even though they dress up as the opposite sex.

FTM (F2M) is a female-to-male transgender or transsexual person. FTM is synonymous with the term transman. MTF(M2F) is a male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.  MTF is synonymous with transwoman  A transgender person who has changed their sex through hormones and/or surgery has been said to have had sex- reassignment or sex-change surgery. A transvestite is NOT a transsexual. Think Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire.

The rainbow spectrum is large, and its umbrella term contains many different groups. The terms reflect basically how the individual feels about his actual self.
   
 










Thursday, April 16, 2015

It’s Not Too Late To Be SILENT!


GLSEN’s Day of Silence Is April 17

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, whose mission is to “ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender orientation or gender expression” has been holding a Day of Silence in schools annually  since 1996.

Still Need Support In School

Despite the country’s growing acceptance of gay marriage, the President’s recent announcement banning conversion therapy, four out of 5 students are bullied and harassed at school. Did you know that:
61.6% of students who did report an incident in their school said that the school staff did nothing in response.
55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of sexual orientation.
68.1% reported avoiding school functions and extracurricular activities because they felt unsafe or comfortable.
              Source: GLSEN’s online 2013 Survey

Silence Brings Attention To Important Issue

With over 8,000 K-12 schools participating, LGBT students and their allies, can take a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. GLSEN supplies safe space kits as well as information on how to set up GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) to make schools more LGBT-friendly.

However, if your school is experiencing resistance to GLSEN’s Day of Silence by the Administration or Faculty not allowing the organization of activities for the day, you can report your school by clicking on a site at http://www.dayofsilence.org. to get assistance. Lamda Legal also has developed an FAQ detailing students’ rights to participate in the Day of Silence activities. See http://www.lambdalegal.org/news/us_20140411_day of silence.

Even if your school has no planned support for the yearly GLSEN-sponsored Day of Silence, it’s not too late to print DOS stickers, in both red or black, for example, from Pinterest. (http://www.pinterest.com/GLSENofficial/day-of-silence/ to stand in solidarity for LGBT inclusion.

Silence Can Be Golden

What will you do tomorrow to protest the LGBT bullying and harassment in your school and your community?  It’s not too late! For beginners, you can be quiet. Silence can be more powerful than words!
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Child Abuse Is Not Just Physical



April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month

“The physical wounds  (of child abuse) heal but research is showing that the effects on a child’s social, emotional and future physical health is far more damaging that we once thought,” states Mary E. Jones, MD, child advocacy physician at Loyola University Health System.

Bullied At School

Eighty-five percent of LGBT students, according to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network), are more likely to be verbally harassed in school – called “faggots,”
“dykes.”  Twenty percent reported physical assaults and not just being pushed into lockers, to the point where they have a higher absentee rate. You can’t assume that teachers and other school professionals will always come to your child’s rescue.

Bullied At Home

With such egregious treatment, an LGBT child needs their home to be a safe accepting haven. However, this is not always the case. Some parents, believing their child’s sexual orientation is "just a phase," will deny their child is gay, a few will even try to convert them (from gay-to-straight) although President Obama wisely banned conversion therapy this week.

Angry and disappointed that their LGBT children don’t fit their master plan of a life envisioned in a traditional manner, some parents go to the extreme of kicking their children out of the house. Nearly 40% of homeless youth are LGBT “throwaways.”

The Better Alternative: Affirmed and Supported

Studies from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State reveal that parental acceptance can save LGBT children from drug abuse, low self-esteem, depression, even suicide! Gay teens whose parents accept their sexual orientation grow up happier and healthier.
 
Unconditional Love and a Hug Go Along Way!

A nurturing parents makes such a difference!  Your child needs to know from you that he or she is loved and special.

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Have SCOTUS Settle Gay Marriage Once And For All!


On April 28th, The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hear arguments in favor of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Mary L. Bonauto, a lawyer and prominent gay-rights advocate who helped establish a right to gay marriage in Massachusetts in 2003, will argue that ALL states must allow gay marriage. Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, the other lawyer, who is a former Assistant United States Solicitor General, will make a separate argument that states must recognize same-sex marriage that is performed elsewhere.

In United States v. Windsor, SCOTUS in 2013 struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. The court ruled that DOMA, that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, denied legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage and was therefore unconstitutional. Since that ruling in 2013, more than seventy marriage equality cases have cropped up, challenging state laws that either ban same-sex marriage or its recognition. Currently, SCOTUS is considering several petitions for review.

While the majority of U.S. households polled approve of same-sex marriage, and the number of states that allow it has snowballed in a relatively short time, the actual execution of gay marriage from state to state seems to be in shambles.

Problems with States Deciding

It is possible to be married one minute and find yourself in marital limbo by the next morning in some states. Lower appellate court rulings, stays of marital status, clerks performing gay marriage against the wishes of the state while others close their doors to performing ANY marriages to get around their disapproval of gay marriage, marriage bans decided by voters, all contribute to the uncertainty of same-sex marriage.

Researchers Find Gay Marriage Exemplary

Although same sex marriage should be a right for everyone, there still are objections to it, mostly from the religious right.  However, one needs to look no further than current studies for its acceptance.  In Hara Estroff Marano’s article “Gay Love, Straight Sense,” Psychology Today, March/April 2015, (http:www.psychologytoday.com/201503/gay-love-straight-sense-) the editor-at-large points out that GLBQ couples have learned how to establish and maintain relationships that are instructive for all. They create fluid roles as partners and cannot automatically slip into roles or tasks prescribed by gender.

John Gottman, Ph.D., clinical psychologist noted for his marriage research, found that disagreements are generally nicer among same-sex couples and less accusatory, whether they are talking about mundane or hot-button issues.  More mature?  Gottman predicts that in 200 years, heterosexual relationships will be where gay and lesbian relationships are today.

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.