Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gay Marriage in the Year 100 AD

by Annalee Newitz:

Gay marriage sounds like an ultra-contemporary idea. But almost twenty years ago, a Catholic scholar at Yale shocked the world by publishing a book packed with evidence that same-sex marriages were sanctioned by the early Christian Church during an era commonly called the Dark Ages.

Illustration of Serge and Bacchus, in a same-sex union.

John Boswell (below) was a historian and religious Catholic who dedicated much of his scholarly life to studying the late Roman Empire and early Christian Church. Poring over legal and church documents from this era, he discovered something incredible. There were dozens of records of church ceremonies where two men were joined in unions that used the same rituals as heterosexual marriages. (He found almost no records of lesbian unions, which is probably an artifact of a culture which kept more records about the lives of men generally.)

Bolstered by this evidence, Boswell published a book in 1994, the year before his death from AIDS, called Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. The book comes out next month for the first time in a digital edition. It was an instant lightening rod for controversy, drawing criticism from both the Catholic Church and sex pundit Camille Paglia. Given the Church's present-day views on gay marriage, these detractors argued, Boswell's history seemed like wishful thinking.

But it wasn't. Boswell had actually begun his research back in the 1970s, and published an equally controversial work in 1980 called Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century. His Same-Sex Unions book refined and expanded a lot of what he'd learned over a lifetime of research into primary sources in scattered libraries and archives.

How could these marriages have been forgotten by history? One easy answer is that — as Boswell argues — the Church reframed the idea of marriage in the 13th century to be for the purposes of procreation. And this slammed the door on gay marriage. Church scholars and officials worked hard to suppress the history of these marriages in order to justify their new definition.

Of course, history is more complicated than that. Boswell claims that part of the problem is that we define marriage so differently today that it's almost impossible for historians to recognize 1800-year-old gay marriage documents when they see them. Often, these documents refer to uniting "brothers," which at the time would have been a way of describing same-sex partners whose lifestyles were tolerated in Rome. Also, marriages over a millennium ago were not based on procreation, but wealth-sharing. So "marriage" sometimes meant a non-sexual union of two people's or families' wealth. Boswell admits that some of the documents he found may refer simply to non-sexual joining of two men's fortunes — but many also referred to what today we would call gay marriage.

Legal scholar Richard Ante wrote a law journal article explaining that Boswell's book could even be used as evidence for the legality of gay marriage, since it shows evidence that definitions of marriage have changed over time. He describes some of Boswell's evidence of these same-sex rites in the early first millennium:

The burial rite given for Achilles and Patroclus, both men, was the burial rite for a man and his wife. The relationships of Hadrian and Antinous, of Polyeuct and Nearchos, of Perpetua and Felicitas, and of Saints Serge and Bacchus, all bore resemblance to heterosexual marriages of their times. The iconography of Serge and Bacchus was even used in same-sex nuptial ceremonies by the early Christian Church.

The main piece of evidence that these same-sex unions were marriages is that they so closely resembled heterosexual ceremonies. Literary scholar Bruce Holsinger describes Boswell's detailed stories of same-sex ceremonies:

[Boswell] cleverly posits the development of heterosexual and same-sex nuptial offices as a single phenomenon, tracking the growth of the latter from "merely a set of prayers " in the earlier Middle Ages to its flowering as a "full office" by the twelfth century that involved "the burning of candles, the placing of the two parties' hands on the Gospel, the joining of their right hands, the binding of their hands . . . with the priest's stole, an introductory litany crowning, the Lord's Prayer, Communion, a kiss, and sometimes circling around the altar." Boswell devotes a full chapter to comparing these rituals with their heterosexual counterparts, revealing a number of extraordinary similarities between the two; in several appendixes totaling almost 100 pages, he has compiled numerous examples of the documents themselves (including heterosexual matrimony ceremonies and adoption rituals for comparison) to let "readers . . . judge for themselves," as he puts it. (Boswell translates most of the ceremonies, so general readers won't have to worry about brushing up on their Old Church Slavonic.)

Were these same-sex unions in the middle ages the same thing as today's gay marriages? Probably not. People at the time may not have viewed two men forming a union as anything out of the ordinary. Marriage itself meant something different thousands of years ago, and social taboos against homosexuality had not yet solidified. Still, in Boswell's work, we find records of institutions where same-sex couples were honored with the same ceremonies that opposite-sex couples enjoyed. Two men could live as "brothers," sharing wealth, home, and family. And yes, they could love each other, too.

Though Boswell died before his country began to allow similar kinds of unions, he could draw hope from knowing something that most people did not. Even the most fundamental kinds of human relationships change over time. Those who have been banished today may be blessed tomorrow — just as they were over a thousand years ago.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz Pushing Religious Right Lies About Marriage Equality

by Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way - The Huffington Post - July 23, 2013:

Right-wing media and elected officials play a crucial role in moving fictional manufactured "crises" and false "threats" to liberty from the imaginations of religious right leaders into the media and public airwaves where they are treated with a credibility they do not deserve. Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz has just given us a great example.

Cruz was in Iowa last week meeting with a group of conservative pastors organized by Christian-nation advocate David Lane. During that visit, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network asked Cruz about conservative fears that marriage equality would lead to preachers being charged with hate speech for preaching against homosexuality -- Brody has just posted Cruz's response.

Cruz made no mention of First Amendment protections for freedom of speech and religion. Instead, he said that "Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages" and who "preach biblical truths on marriage" have been prosecuted in other countries, and added, "I think there is no doubt that the advocates who are driving this effort in the United States want to see us end up in that same place."

Cruz is lying about advocates for marriage equality, who have universally recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights of clergy to preach their beliefs about homosexuality and to refuse to give their religious blessing to same-sex couples (the same way it has always allowed clergy to choose not to marry divorced couples or interfaith couples).

Religious right leaders made the same ridiculous claim about including gays in federal hate crimes laws -- that it would lead to preachers being dragged from their pulpits for preaching that homosexuality is a sin. Of course, since the law's passage in 2009, there has been no shortage of anti-gay preaching, and no cases of preachers being tossed into jail for their beliefs. Early in the Obama administration, Right Wing Watch debunked another phony threat to religious freedom that was concocted by a Religious Right legal group, promoted in right-wing media, and then picked up by members of Congress.

These bogus charges have a toxic effect on our public discourse by convincing millions of Americans that gays -- or President Obama -- are out to destroy faith and freedom. Politicians like Ted Cruz who spread this poison should be held accountable for their irresponsible actions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Waiting For An Apology From The American Family Association Of Pennsylvania

Truth Wins Out Commends Former Exodus Lobbyist Randy Thomas For Apologizing to the LGBT Community

Ex-Gay Activist Says He's Sorry For The Hurt and Harm He Caused While At Exodus

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Truth Wins Out commended Exodus International's former political lobbyist, Randy Randy Thomas older Thomas, today after he apologized to the LGBT community for inflicting harm and increasing hate during his tenure at Exodus International, which was the largest "ex-gay" organization until it shut down last month. Thomas is the fourth major "ex-gay" leader to apologize in the past two years.

"We are gratified that Randy Thomas has begun the process of taking personal responsibility for his key role in damaging the lives of many innocent people," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "He is a key player in this industry and his admission will help keep future generations from walking down the treacherous ex-gay path."

According to Thomas in his apology:

"I participated in the hurtful echo chamber of condemnation. I gave lip service to the gay community, but really did not exemplify compassion for them. I placed the battle over policy above my concern for real people. I sometimes valued the shoulder pats I was given by religious leaders more than Jesus' commandment to love and serve. That was wrong and I'm disappointed in myself. Please forgive me."

"I was, in a sense, attracted to this kind of power and allowed my conscience to be numbed so I could have a seat at their table. In the name of trying to positively affect Christian leaders, I willingly became one of their pawns. Again, I was selfish and prideful. Please forgive me."

In his apology, Thomas specifically expressed regret for working to further the career of Andrew Comiskey, the head of Desert Stream Ministries and one of the vilest "ex-gay" activists in the industry. In the past, Comiskey has claimed that "Satan delights in homosexual perversion" and whose "ministry" has continually been shadowed by allegations of sexual abuse committed by staff members.

"Randy's realization that folks like Andrew Comiskey are chief instigators of hatred against LGBT people echoes Alan Chambers' earlier reference to many anti-gay activists as 'vipers,'" said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. "As a movement, the anti-gay forces in the United States and around the world are known, not for their Christian love, but for the fact that their grace extends only to those who submit to their orthodoxy and supremacy without question. The second the human heart enters the equation, the Religious Right bare its fangs. We applaud Randy for taking this important step to start the healing and prevent future harm to LGBT people."

Thomas, a rising star in the "ex-gay" industry, began his career by leading Living Hope ministry in Dallas. He Randy Thomas was soon recruited as Vice President of Communications, and moved to Exodus International's Orlando headquarters. Thomas eventually took on the role of chief lobbyist, where he reached his pinnacle in 2006, when he and Exodus International President, Alan Chambers, attended a White House meeting with President George W. Bush to push for the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Thomas fought tenaciously against the successful inclusion of sexual orientation in the federal hate crime law. He appeared in an infamous newspaper ad under the inflammatory headline, "Hate crime laws say we were more valuable as homosexuals than we are now as former homosexuals." He was also a key speaker at Focus on the Family's ex-gay road show, Love Won Out.

While Thomas did not come out as gay, his apology was a good first step. He also wrote on Truth Wins Out's website that, "I will be sharing more about my thoughts concerning what has happened, personally, and from my perspective in the movement."

In the past two years, Alan Chambers, John Paulk, John Smid, and now Randy Thomas have all issued apologies, rocking the "ex-gay" industry to its core. Unfortunately, new groups like Restored Hope Network and Voice of the Voiceless have risen to fill the vacuum. The recent apologies, however, undermine the credibility of these new "ex-gay" organizations and complicate their efforts, says TWO.

Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.

"What Saved Me Is That I Fought Back" -- Born This Way and The Fight for Global Equality

More people are imprisoned each year for homosexuality in Cameroon than any other country in the world.

With intimate access to the lives of two young gay Cameroonians, Born This Way sketches a vivid portrait of day-to-day life in modern Africa.

Lyrical imagery, devastating homophobia, glimpses of American culture and a hidden-camera courtroom drama coalesce into a story of what is possible in the global fight for equality.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Episcopal Bishop, Right Rev. Sean W. Rowe, Has A Change Of Heart On Anti-LGBT Bigotry & Discrimination

The Right Reverend Sean W. Rowe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, recently published an article in the Erie Times-News about the enlightening of attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

While this advancement in Rowe's thinking is welcome, it must be noted that when he was Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Franklin, Pa., he was also a member of the Franklin Area School District Board, the same school board that sat in silence, cast a blind-eye, even protected a high school administrator who was well-known in the community for the racist and homophobic ways in which he targeted and abused students.

Rowe has yet to account for his silence, let alone make amends for the suffering that he and his school board colleagues enabled in the Franklin Area School District.

Here is his current "reflection" on the issues:

Welcome LGBT People as Children of God

Right Rev. Sean W. Rowe - Erie Times-News - July 20, 2013:

Last week, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that she will not defend the state in a suit that challenges the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.

Her decision, resulting from the recent Supreme Court decision that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, is just the latest indication that our society's thinking about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their unions is changing rapidly.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage, and more than a quarter of Americans live in those jurisdictions. According to a June ABC News/Washington Post poll, 58 percent of Americans support marriage equality. That number climbs to 70 percent when Americans born after 1980 are surveyed, according to the Pew Research Center.

Civil marriage and religious marriage are distinct institutions, but our attitudes toward one influence our thinking about the other. So for many people of faith, these headlines about civil same-sex marriage equality require us to look at sacred traditions and texts with fresh eyes.

Many of us remember when issues of human sexuality were off-limits for discussion in our congregations. And sadly, far too many of us are familiar with the discrimination, fear and violence that LGBT people have suffered while people of faith turned a blind eye or, worse yet, acted as perpetrators.

Today it is possible for us to view same-sex relationships differently. Across our communities, we see the goodness and holiness of same-sex couples in committed, lifelong relationships. Same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities, their churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, and to their neighbors and friends. Just like opposite-sex couples, their love for one another draws them more clearly into fidelity and service to the world and allows all of us who know them to see the boundless love of God more clearly.

We can also see that our civic life benefits when same-sex couples have the dignity and legal protection that opposite-sex couples have always enjoyed. Same-sex couples, just like their opposite-sex friends and neighbors, work hard, raise children, volunteer for good causes and pay taxes. Erie would be poorer without its LGBT residents, and we need to stand against discrimination that makes their lives less safe or secure.

For too long, same-sex couples have had to live without the acknowledgment -- from their civic communities or religious congregations -- that they are both productive citizens and signs of the goodness of God's creation and love for the world. Now the growing civil acceptance of marriage equality can help people of faith to tear the scales from our eyes, testify to what we see, and fully welcome LGBT people as children of God and sisters and brothers in faith.

Reflections is a column by religious leaders in the region. The Right Rev. Sean W. Rowe is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 145 W. Sixth St.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Future of Same-Sex Marriage

The New York Times Editorial - July 14, 2013:

As historic and welcome as we found the Supreme Court’s two recent decisions on same-sex marriage, they served to emphasize the lingering inequality for millions of gay and lesbian Americans who do not live in the 13 states that enforce the right of all adult Americans to marry the person of their choosing.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, is standing by his 2012 veto of a measure to allow gay couples to marry and is refusing to free Republican legislators to follow their conscience on an override vote. Mr. Christie is imposing a large ideological tax on thousands of couples and their families whose interests he is supposed to protect. He is depriving them of federal benefits, which their tax payments help underwrite.

Certainly, the Supreme Court propelled the nation toward greater equality in late June with two 5-to-4 rulings that restored same-sex marriage in California and struck down the central provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, the dreadful 1996 law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples married in states that permit it.

The Defense of Marriage Act ruling struck a blow against injustice, but it also accentuated the unfairness to same-sex couples who would like to get married but live in states that do not permit it and therefore cannot take the same advantage of more than 1,000 federal benefits available to other couples (unless they get married in one of the states where same-sex marriage is legal). By disposing of the California case on narrow procedural grounds, the Supreme Court avoided the necessary reckoning about the fundamental violation of equal protection created by state laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. It perpetuated a mean and irrational patchwork in which duly wed couples may not be considered married when they cross state borders.

Eliminating that unfair system will require a multipronged effort — to add more states to the list of 13 that permit same-sex marriage and to challenge remaining state laws that violate the standards of equal protection as the Defense of Marriage Act did. Last Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a challenge to a Pennsylvania law that allows marriage only between a man and a woman and rejects other states’ marriage equality laws.

Brought on behalf of 23 plaintiffs, the lawsuit is among the first of an expected wave of new cases around the country that could eventually return the issue to the Supreme Court. These suits aim to build on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act, including his insight that the federal government’s refusal to recognize some marriages denied married same-sex couples a “status of immense import” and deprived children of “the integrity and closeness of their own family.”

The same can be said of denying gay couples the right to marry in the first place, a cause that is also the object of lobbying and organizing efforts to achieve more victories in state legislatures and at the ballot box. In just the past year, six states legalized same-sex marriage though the political process. Legislatures are being pressed in three other states that are likely to follow suit: New Jersey, Hawaii and Illinois. In Oregon, an effort to reverse a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage through a November 2014 ballot measure is under way. Challenges to similar bans in Nevada, Colorado and Ohio could be in store for November 2016.

The opposition is not sitting still. Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, a Republican, has urged the Legislature to approve a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage so it can be put before voters next year. Given the rapidly expanding acceptance of same-sex marriage, we hope that getting Indiana voters to approve the shabby measure will prove harder than Mr. Pence thinks.

In Washington, the Obama administration is moving with commendable diligence and speed to extend benefits like health care, life insurance and immigration rights to gay and lesbian married couples. We took special satisfaction from the memo sent out by the chief administrative officer of the Republican-led House informing all 435 representatives and their staff members in all 50 states that they have 60 days to enroll their same-sex spouses for benefits like vision, dental and long-term care insurance and survivors’ annuities.

House Republicans spent millions of taxpayer dollars on private lawyers’ fees to defend the Defense of Marriage Act’s indefensible discrimination when the Obama administration decided it would no longer do so.

Even now, though, there is a serious risk that legally married individuals will lose out on valuable Social Security and veterans’ benefits because language in the applicable statutes seems to determine whether couples are married based on where they live rather than where their marriage was celebrated.

The Justice Department should be exploring every legal route around that, but there should be no need for straining. A newly reintroduced bill would fulfill the letter and spirit of the Defense of Marriage Act ruling by ensuring that the elderly, veterans who risked their lives for their country and others are not excluded from federal benefits even if they live in states where their marriages are not recognized.

Monday, July 8, 2013

U.S. Religious Conservatives LOVE Authoritarianism When It Validates Their Anti-Gay Extremism

by David Crary, Associated Press - July 7, 2013:

As the hub of the Soviet Union, Russia was reviled for rights abuses by many U.S. conservatives during the Cold War. Now some are voicing support and admiration as Russian authorities crack down on gay-rights activism.

The latest step drawing praise from social conservatives is a bill signed into law Sunday by President Vladimir Putin that would impose hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about the gay community to minors.

"You admire some of the things they're doing in Russia against propaganda," said Austin Ruse, president of the U.S.-based Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. "On the other hand, you know it would be impossible to do that here."

Ruse, whose institute is seeking accreditation at the United Nations, plans to travel to Russia this summer to meet with government officials and civic leaders.

"We want to let them know they do in fact have support among American NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on social issues," he said.

Among others commending Russia's anti-gay efforts was Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

"Russians do not want to follow America's reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti-biblical ideologies to youth," LaBarbera said on his website.

In a sign of Russia's evolving stature among some U.S. social conservatives, the Illinois-based World Congress of Families plans to hold its eighth international conference at the Kremlin's Palace of Congresses in Moscow next year. Past conferences in Europe, Mexico and Australia have brought together opponents of abortion and same-sex marriage from dozens of countries.

"The Kremlin used to be a no-no for conservatives," said Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress. "We're going to redeem that building."

The website for the September 2014 conference declares that Russia, "with its historic commitment to deep spirituality and morality, can be a hope for the natural family supporters from all over the world."

Jacobs, in an interview, drew a link between Russia's disapproval of homosexuality and its worries about a population decline.

"They've got a problem with marriage rates and fertility, and it doesn't help if you're encouraging non-reproductive behavior," he said.

Abortion remains legal in Russia through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy — a contrast to the general view of most U.S. social conservatives that abortion should be outlawed. However, the current abortion law — passed in 2011 — is more restrictive than its predecessor.

There's little doubt that Russians, overall, are far less supportive of gay rights than Americans. According to a Pew Research Center survey released June 4, only 16 percent of Russians said homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 60 percent in the U.S., and 80 percent or higher in Canada, Spain and Germany. However, there's less support for gay rights in some Eastern European countries, and even in Western Europe the issue can fuel conflict, as evidenced by recent clashes in France between far-right protesters and police over a new gay-marriage law.

The Obama administration has said it would make gay rights an important part of its foreign policy, raising the possibility that countries viewed as discriminating against gays could suffer consequences.

Secretary of State John Kerry outlined this approach on June 19 at a gay pride event at the State Department. He did not mention Russia by name, though he spoke disapprovingly of "anti-propaganda laws in Eastern Europe" that are targeting gay-rights demonstrators.

"We just have to keep standing up for tolerance and for diversity," Kerry said.

The Russian bill has been assailed by gay-rights and human-rights groups in the U.S.

"The admiration of some American conservatives for the repressive Russian policies regarding gay rights are quite simply the words of snake-oil salesmen," said Roberta Sklar of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

"They have lost their footing on U.S. soil and are trying to breathe life into a dying ideology abroad," she said.

Two other groups, the Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Watch, have called on the International Olympic Committee to speak out against the bill as Russia makes final preparations to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year.

"This draft law is clearly incompatible with the Olympic Charter's promotion of 'human dignity,' as well as a blatant violation of Russia's international legal obligations to guarantee nondiscrimination," Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the IOC.

Stefano Gennarini, a colleague of Austin Ruse's at Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, suggested in a blog post that criticisms of the bill in the West were "hyperbole" and defended it as a reasonable effort to protect children.

"Russians have consistently denied homosexual groups parade permits, sparing its children and the public at large the ludicrous and disturbing behavior on show in the squares and streets of Europe and America," Gennarini wrote

He characterized the bill's proposed fines as a tax on public displays of affection by homosexuals, adding that "$155 is hardly unmanageable for homosexuals who want to kiss in public," he wrote.

Gennarini, in an interview, said it would be "imprudent" for U.S. diplomats to criticize Russia's efforts to curtail gay-rights activism. He said people in other regions — notably Africa and the Islamic world — might look to the Russia as a positive example when considering laws of their own.

Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based evangelical lawyer and activist, conducted a 50-city speaking tour of Russia in 2007, and says the current bill reflects policies that he advocated at the time.

At the end of his tour, Lively released a "Letter to the Russian People," and he redistributed it this month after the parliament vote.

"The purpose of my visit was to bring a warning about the homosexual political movement which has done much damage to my country," he wrote in the letter. "This is a very fast-growing social cancer that will destroy the family foundations of your society if you do not take immediate, effective action to stop it."

Lively advocated training therapists in the techniques of helping gay people "recover" from same-sex attraction and he urged Russia to criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality.

"Russia could become a model pro-family society," he wrote. "If this were to occur, I believe people from the West would begin to emigrate to Russia in the same way that Russians used to emigrate to the United States and Europe."

Lively has been sued in U.S. federal court by a Uganda-based gay-rights group, accusing him of persecuting gays in that East African country.

The suit — which Lively is seeking to have dismissed — contends that he was a key figure in consultations in Uganda that produced tough anti-gay legislation in 2009. The initial version of the bill called for the death penalty in some cases of gay sex, although the author of the measure — which remains pending — says he has removed the death penalty provision.

Lively said he would like to see efforts in the U.S. to discourage all sexual activity outside of marriage, but doubted efforts to restrict gay activism could make headway here.

"Russians, even after glasnost, are comfortable with an authoritarian style," he said. "That wouldn't work in the United States."

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Very Public, Very Desperate Crumbling of the Anti-gay Right

by Jamie McGonnigal - The Huffington Post - July 5, 2013:

One week ago, I sat in front of the Supreme Court of the United States among hundred of others anxiously awaiting their decisions on marriage equality.
It's strange, because there in the sun, just a few hundred feet from where the decisions were being read, we actually found out quite a bit later than many of you at home reading SCOTUSblog. Phone service was sparse and in the bright, direct sunlight, I couldn't see a thing on my screen. Not to mention, I was busy hosting streaming coverage and interviews for WeActRadio. While talking with Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), the decision striking down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came out.

I wanted to scream and hug the Congress member, but we didn't quite have that kind of relationship yet. I continued covering the day's events and followed up with several other interviews on radio stations around the country and finished up the day on SiriusXM Radio with my husband and another friend and her wife... and a bottle of champagne. What a day!

My husband Sean and I had helped to organize rallies that happened outside the Supreme Court back in March while the DOMA and Prop 8 arguments were being heard. So much of our time was spent considering what "the other side" would be planning while we rallied. Partly we wanted to know so that we could respond courteously and effectively to the things they said. But the other reason we wanted to be prepared for them was so we could protect the families we knew would be standing with us, from the hateful, toxic things the anti-gay right seems to spew when they're angry. Our kids don't need to hear that.

Last week in front of the court was different though. Despite hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council calling for "days of prayer" and for their followers to stand with them that morning on the steps of the court, no one came. I could count on one hand the number of people standing their with anti-gay signs. The rest was a sea of rainbows and love. Maybe despite their screams to the press that they would win, they knew what was coming, what was inevitable.

What followed that amazing day when my husband and I woke up without equality and went to bed with 1,100 more rights, was truly dumbfounding.

The National Organization immediately began attacking the court for making an "Illegitimate" decision. In their first email/blog post, they asked for money and linked to their fundraising page 8 TIMES. As a person who works in digital media for a living, I can tell you with some certainty that 3-4 times is excessive when asking for money in one email, but 8?!? Not even street canvassers will bother you that many times.

NOM President Brian Brown's initial response to the court's decision was scathing:

"There is a stench coming from this case that has now stained the Supreme Court. They've allowed corrupt politicians and judges to betray the voters, rewarding them for their betrayal. It's an illegitimate decision. We and millions of other Americans will refuse to accept this rogue decision rewarding corruption."

Then came the emails. The angry, angry emails. NOM's emails accused California lawmakers of participating in "lawlessness" when they began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples (which was now legal following Prop 8 being struck down). Another email was filled with vitriol and borderline racist comments about CA Attorney General Kamala Harris. In this message, they refer to Harris' "arrogance," a term usually reserved for those we think don't deserve a place in leadership. Additionally, they use the email to twist and misquote remarks made by the President about Harris a few months ago.

They followed with a tweet that said "Polygamists are actually celebrating the Supreme Court's decisions this week as a personal victory for them" and linked to a blog post which of course, said nothing of the sort.

In other posts, they continued their usual outdated theme claiming that marriage equality is bad for children somehow. Yet they continue to ignore the fact that their argument completely discounts the millions of kids being raised by LGBT parents.

NOM wrapped up the week with a patriotic 4th of July email claiming that a person cannot be gay or a supporter of equality for gay people and an American at the same time.

 (Graphic from NOM's most recent email.)

The anti-gay Right is disintegrating before our eyes and the desperation with which they are clinging onto life has never been more apparent. They will never be gone forever, though. Just as we've seen with groups that fought integration and some in the South who are still fighting the Civil War, they're never gone for good.

Happily though, with support for marriage equality in this country hitting all time highs and a Gallup poll following last week's rulings finding support at 55 percent for and 40 percent against legalizing same-sex marriages, these hate groups will continue to lose funding and support.

The fight is far from over, and as NOM is only too quick to recognize, there are still 37 states which do not recognize marriage equality. I think this number will drop quickly, but not without our work.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Family Values: "Adultery Jumps 40% Among Surveyed U.S. Wives"

Cheating Wives Narrowed Infidelity Gap Over Two Decades

by Frank Bass - Bloomberg News - July 1, 2031:

American women, who trail men when it comes to making money, leading companies and accumulating wealth, are closing the gap on at least one measure: cheating on their spouses.

The percentage of wives having affairs rose almost 40 percent during the last two decades to 14.7 percent in 2010, while the number of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 percent, according to the latest data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey.

The narrowing gap, reported by a sociologist at Auburn University at Montgomery, reflects multiple trends. Wives with their own jobs have less to lose economically from a divorce, and social media have made it easier to engage in affairs.

“Men are still more likely to cheat than women,” said Yanyi Djamba, director of the AUM Center for Demographic Research. “But the gender gap is closing.”

Blacks, executives and managers, and Southerners were most likely to report extramarital affairs to the 40-year-old survey, the oldest continuous source of data on American behavior.

The main impetus behind extramarital affairs was predictable, Djamba said: One in four men described their marriages as “not very happy,” more than twice the number of wives who rationalized their adultery that way.

The survey results lend support to one researcher’s argument that what’s been presumed about female sexuality for centuries may be wrong. Daniel Bergner, the author of the newly published book “What Do Women Want?,” said cultural expectations have prevented women from having more affairs.

Sex Drive

“Women are programmed to seek out one good man, and men never have been really well-suited to monogamy, right?” Bergner said in a telephone interview. An increasing body of science suggests that women’s sex drives are as powerful as men’s libidos, Bergner said, though they’ve been repressed by thousands of years of male-dominated culture.

Alton Abramowitz, president of the Chicago-based American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said he’s seen an increase in the number of divorce cases sparked by cheating wives.

“We always had a few cases with women, but they were much more discreet about it,” he said. “In the past 10 years or so, though, there’s been an uptick in those cases coming through our office.”

More women may feel free to cheat because the economic consequences aren’t as dire as they were when more women stayed at home, said Pepper Schwartz, a University of Washington sociologist who writes “The Naked Truth” column for AARP, the largest group representing the elderly in the U.S.

Better Mate

“They can afford the potential consequences of an affair, with higher incomes and more job prospects,” she said in an e-mail. “They have more economic independence and may meet a better class of mate.”

The ease of online affairs and the prevalence of computer use among younger women may be responsible for a large share of the increase, Schwartz said.

“Think Ashley Madison,” she wrote, referring to the online affair-matchmaking service.

The website has grown since its 2002 creation to serve 3.5 million active users speaking nine languages in 26 countries, said Noel Biderman, the chief executive officer of Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc., which operates Ashley Madison.

“There’s been a cultural shift,” Biderman said, “and female infidelity is very linked to cultural change.”

Younger Cheaters

The website’s usage patterns by age highlight the shifts, he said. The ratio of males to females is greatest among users older than 65, with 14 men for every woman. The ratio is 4-to-1 among users in their 50s, 3-to-1 for spouses in their 40s, and evenly divided among people using Ashley Madison in their 30s.

The number of female affairs still lags behind male dalliances. For every two women like actress Meg Ryan, who exchanged cheating accusations with her ex-husband Dennis Quaid, or Paula Broadwell, the biographer-turned-mistress of former CIA Director David Petraeus, there are three men like former President Bill Clinton, pro golfer Tiger Woods or onetime South Carolina governor, and now U.S. congressman, Mark Sanford, who have been the focus of much-publicized reports of extramarital affairs.

As the nation’s median age increases, changes in attitudes about women engaging in sex with someone not their spouse may cause the gap to narrow more, Bergner said.

“Once you strip away the stigma from the equation, interest in casual sex is about equal for women and men,” he said. “So we men may have a lot to worry about.”

SAME LOVE - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Song A Surprise Hit After SCOTUS Rulings

The Huffington Post - July 1, 2013:

Last week, the same day the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 were overturned by the Supreme Court, not only was there a victory for gay couples all across America, there was also another victory for gay marriage... on the music charts.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the hip-hop duo that scored a surprise number one hit this past Spring with "Thrift Shop," saw their song about gay marriage, "Same Love," (featuring singer Mary Lambert), jump into the Top 40 at number 28, up from spot 65 the week before.

"Same Love," first hit the singles chart back in February, and while it found itself at number 89 in the Top 100, it didn't seem like a hit in the making like their other single, "Thrift Shop." Macklemore, Lewis and Lambert all performed the song live on Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show back in March, but now with same-sex marriage in the news again, the song looks to be finding new life.

According to "The New York Times," not only is "Same Love" number 28 in the Top 40, but on the Billboard Rap chart it's at number five, a surprising feat for a song explicity about gay marriage. The music video, which features same-sex couples in love and getting married, has helped with the success of the song, and as of this writing it has been viewed 53 million times.

When Mary Lambert spoke with "The Seattle Times" back in May she talked about being gay and growing up in a very religious household, even apologizing to God for her same-sex attractions:

“I fought it for a long time, then I fell in love with another girl and then I decided I would repent every day, because I knew I wasn’t going to change. But that was absurd.”

Lambert is now part of an unexpected hit song and is touring the country while re-releasing her EP in Europe and talking with record labels about a full-length album.

Tom Poleman, the president for national programming at Clear Channel Media told the The New York Times, “It’s been phenomenal. Everything we are seeing shows it’s going to be another monster hit for them.”

Whether "Same Love" hits number one as a result of the Supreme Court rulings and the general feelings towards gay marriage in the United States remains to be seen, but if its leaps up the charts is any indication, "Same Love" may be a gay marriage wedding present from the unlikeliest of places: the hip hop world.