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'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.


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 to get assistance. Lamda Legal also has developed an FAQ detailing students’ rights to participate in the Day of Silence activities. See 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. ( 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, ( 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.