Tuesday, January 21, 2014

State of the Union for Straight Parents

All parents worry about their children, but those of LGBT kids, fret perhaps more so.  Often, their children are regarded as inferior by heterosexuals.

However, parents, knowing that great strides were made last year for same-sex equality, should rest better at night.

Some of the accomplishments of 2013 helped advance marriage benefits, adoptions, representation in the Legislature, discrimination, safety in schools, and recognition by President Obama in the name of equality for the LGBT U.S. population.

Safety in Schools for Harassed LGBT Students

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, a bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of  ’65, addresses and takes action to prevent bullying and harassment. It was referred to a Congressional Committee on February 28, 2013 and has reached record support in Congress, with 176 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, including more Republican cosponsors than any other LGBT-inclusive bill.

GLSEN, (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), has addressed safety issues in middle and high schools and has distributed 63,000 safe space kits to schools. It works with elementary schools as well by supplying materials for supporting LGBT students.

Will Your Children Get A Fair Shake In The Job Market?

Worried about discrimination in the workplace for your child?  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S.815) passed the Senate on November 7, 2013 with bipartisan support.  The bill, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on gender identity, is waiting on House passage and signature of President Obama.

Passed by President Obama 10-28-09, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expands the 1969 U.S federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Majority of Americans Approve of Same-Sex Marriage

The tide is turning!  ABCNews/Washington Polls found that in July 2013 that 55% of Americans said they supported the right of same-sex couples to marry.

While your son or daughter can’t marry wherever they wish, did you ever dream that there would be seventeen states that allow gay marriage: 6 by court decision (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Masschusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico), 8 by state legislature (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois (in effect June 2014), Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont,  and 3 by popular vote (Maine, Maryland,, and Washington)? There will be more states as lawsuits for marriage equality are cropping up frequently in other states.

You Will Have Grandchildren

Worried you won’t have grandchildren? In 2012, 110, 000 adopted children lived with gay parents.  Over the years, the number of children has risen tremendously.  So far, 16 states allow joint gay adoptions (when a same-sex couple jointly petitions for adoption): Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Second parent adoption (1 person adopts the child of his partner) occurs in: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

Definition of Marriage Changed

The biggest news of 2013 was the U.S. Supreme Court decision rulings on June 26th that struck down California’s Proposition 8 that prohibited same-sex marriage as well as Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. This resulted in a landslide of actions federally and in U.S. states with same-sex marriage such as the The Family Medical Leave Act, Social Security Administration treatment of same-sex benefits for couples, Department of Defense’s recognition of military dependents including same-sex spouses and their children, Department of Education’s determination to include income from both same-sex parents, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permitting joint federal tax filing, same-sex couples being allowed to qualify for a green card, and The Peace Corps’  allowing same-sex domestic partners to serve together, determination that same-sex married couples receive equal treatment regarding skilled nursing facilities.

On Your Side

The 113th Congress ushered in an unprecedented diversity and number of new LGBT reps., nearly tripling the House LGBT Equality Caucus Co-chairs.  Firsts in Congress:  First openly gay senator was Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Rep. Mark Pocan  (D-WI) was the first openly gay U.S. rep. to replace an openly gay immediate predecessor, Mark Tokano (D-CA), first openly LGBT Asian-American Rep.). New York has the first openly gay Rep. (D-NY) Sean Patrick Murphy and Kristen Simena (D-AZ) was the nation’s first openly bi-sexual, nation’s first in Congress. 

President Obama acknowledged the contributions of gay men and women by giving posthumously The Presidential Citizen Medal, the second highest civilian honor in the United States to the founder of PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays) Jeanne Manford, the straight mother of a gay son.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was also given posthumously to gay Bayard Rustin, the chief architect of the March on Washington in 1963 where The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, and the first American female astronaut and lesbian Sally Ride. Rustin’s and Ride’s partners accepted the awards - also a first time that partners of recipients accepted prestigious awards from a President.   


Monday, January 13, 2014

Another 1/2 Ass Solution for Boy Scouts

New policy Allows Gay Youth, Not Leaders

New membership practices of The Boy Scouts of America went into effect on January 1, 2014. Last May, delegates at the Boy Scouts’ national convention voted to allow openly gay boys to participate in the group activities. While it’s a baby step toward gay equality, the fact that BSA still prohibits gay scout leaders from serving, the organization sends out a discriminatory message: that not only are gay scouts inferior and once they turn eighteen, even if they have excelled as scouts, they can not serve as leaders.

“Business As Usual”

A BSA national executive board member Brad Haddock who chairs the policy implementation committee doesn’t anticipates problems although he states “isolated pockets” of problems are likely to surface, but he expects adult troop leaders will have the skills to defuse potential conflicts.. “My hope, he says, “is there will be the same effect this January 1 as the Y2Kscare. It’s business as usual, nothing happens, and we move forward.”

Move forward?  The BSA is moving at glacial speed. It is not in keeping with the times.  Its evolution is incomplete as witnessed by these survey as well as others:

Policy Not Reflecting Greater Acceptance of Gays

The psychology department of University of California-Davis, compiled statistics in a survey from 1970 and found more than 70% of respondents believed that “homosexuals are dangerous as teachers or youth leaders because they try to get sexually involved with children.”

By 1999, the belief that gay men are likely to molest or abuse children was endorsed by only 19% of heterosexual men and 10% of heterosexual women.
You Don’t Have to be Straight to Be Morally Straight

Being gay is not  inconsistent with the Boy Scout Values of strong moral character and leadership.
The Boy Scouts of America has had incidences of molestation and has perversion files from 1965 to 1985 that contain names of troop leaders that molested their den scouts. Often not reported to the police, these files were released by court order when lawsuits ensued by the parents or former scouts.

Although molestation has taken place infrequently, the heinous act is committed by pedophiles. Gay men are attracted to adult men, not boys.  Pedophiles are attracted to kids.

Says Frank Spinellli, M.D, gay internist who was abused at age 11 by a former Boy Scout Master, in an on-line article for Out magazine,http://www.out.com/entertainment/michael-musto/2014.01/13/frank-sprinelli-boy-scouts-molesteor-hbo-looking-beautiful-  “it’s ridiculous to say that if we allow homosexuals into the Boy Scouts, they’re going to molest children.  No, child molesters molest children.”

All troop leaders should be screened for past history of abuse.  If they don’t instill the values of scouting in your child, then fire them.  But don’t presume that a qualified gay leader might molest your child.

As I’ve said before in my blog (2/7/13, 4/24.13, and 5/29/13), the Girls Scouts don’t have this discriminatory policy of either excluding girl scouts from activities or having gay and lesbian troop leaders.  Furthermore, they don’t have problems within their ranks.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Aaron Schocking News?

     As the parent of a gay child, I always root for the LGBT people who make successes of themselves for they provide good role models for the gay teen who may be worried about his/her future that may include discrimination.

     While some in the LGBT community may want everyone in the LGBT community to come out to show the world that they are your dentists, teachers, lawyers, construction workers, and politicians, LGBT people should not be bullied to disclose their sexual orientation before they are ready.

     Take Aaron Schock, the Republican U.S. Representative from Illinois, for example.  Last Friday, gay journalist Itay Hod made insinuating remarks on Facebook that Schock was gay.  Itay’s Facebook newsfeed has over 6,500 followers. 

     Other gay journalists such as Michael Signorile, John Aravosis of America Blog and Josh Barro chimed in and poked fun at Schock on Twitter too. They tweeted about what they considered Schock’s gay stereotypical traits such as body-building, obsession with his clothes, following his gay trainer on Twitter as well as gay Olympic diver Tom Daley on Instagram (Schock has since closed down his Instagram account).

     In my opinion, no one’s sexual orientation should be fodder for tabloid news or social media despite the fact that a politician like Schock, a Congressman since 2009, invites the public eye like a movie star.  Schock’s anti-gay voting record has riled many in the gay community who consider him a traitor to their gay rights agenda. Does Schock have an obligation to vote for gay rights?

     Says John Aravois, “by voting anti-gay, gay members of Congress send a message that it’s fine to be and vote anti-gay – after all, even the gay guy does it.”  To me, it is not surprising that a Republican congressman  would vote against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” oppose the repeal of  The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA or ENDA ( The Employment Non-Discrimination Act).  With the exception of Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) whose son is gay, a handful of Republicans, and The Log Cabin Republicans, one would expect  a Republican to vote in the same manner as Schock.

     We do not know what Schock’s objections were to the various bills, but last November, when Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, many Democrats voted against marriage equality in a close vote.

     If Schock is gay (and he might not be), I hope he has not internalized the homophobia of society and his peers as many LGBT persons do. He should not be coerced into coming out of the closet until he’s comfortable.  Nor should your LGBT children.