Tuesday, August 27, 2013

American Family Association - To Russia With Love

Russia's Anti-Gay Law 'Expresses Values We've Been Advocating For Years,' Says Bryan Fischer, Spokesperson for the Hate Group known as the American Family Association

from The Huffington Post - 8/27/13:

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is once again taking to the airwaves in defense of Russia's controversial anti-gay legislation, Right Wing Watch is reporting.

Describing the "gay propaganda" laws as part of an overall effort to "scramble their way back to some approximation of Christian morality," Fischer said, "They understand that homosexual behavior is a moral evil among teenagers."

"What Russia's done here with this law is they have expressed the values that we have been advocating for years and years and years," he added. Pointing to the fact that many conservative Americans have been "largely silent" on the issue, he then noted, "In my mind, we ought to be celebrating this ... this is public policy we've been advocating, and here's a nation in the world that's actually putting it into practice."

He re-iterated many of the same viewpoints in an Aug. 23 blog post. "There are catastrophic pathologies associated with homosexual behavior among teenagers, and any society that cares about its youth will do everything in its power to steer them away from this self-destructive lifestyle," he wrote. "We spend billions urging teens not to take up cigarette smoking. Let’s start spending billions to urge them not to take up gay sex."

He then concluded, "I say it’s time for us to be more like Russia."

Fischer, whose anti-gay declarations have become a near-weekly staple of his "Focal Point" radio show, has previously defended Russia's anti-gay law.

"We've got plenty of room in our multicultural world for all sorts of different cultural values and trends," he said in a earlier broadcast this month, Right Wing Watch first reported. "Isn't this wonderful what Russia is doing? Let's celebrate diversity and let's support this tradition in the nation of Russia."

New Group Forms for Equality in Venango County

A new group dedicated to achieving equal rights for all in Venango County has formed, establishing a presence on Facebook on August 7, 2013.

Calling itself Equality in Venango County, the group is a non-profit organization that fights for equality and the right to say "I do" in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

It also aims to end discrimination against LGBT youth, students, and adults, with a particular focus on Venango County's working class.

We wish Equality in Venango County strength and success in these important efforts!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Anti-Marriage Equality Arguments Are Only Getting Dumber

A Law Student Points Out Some Logical Flaws In The arguments Of Anti-Gay Activists.

By Matt Barnum - The Advocate - August 21 2013:

The arguments against gay marriage have always been dumb. They’re getting dumber.

The hardest job in Washington has got to be antigay activist. It’s hard not to feel sorry for these people who wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and think “How can I work to deny gay people rights today?” It’s hard not to feel bad for these folks. (OK, it’s not that hard, actually.)

The arguments against marriage equality have never been good. But now that the opponents have lost so many battles, now that it's clear the country has irreversibly turned in favor of same-sex marriage, the old arguments — you know, breakdown of the family, being gay's a choice, sexual anarchy, blah blah blah – have to be discarded. Luckily, even dumber arguments — if that’s possible — are waiting to take their place.

Witness Indiana governor Mike Pence's new argument that same-sex marriage stunts economic growth. According to Indiana TV station WFIE, “[Pence] says that many of the 32 states that define traditional marriage in their charters have some of the fastest-growing economies, including Indiana, drawing a correlation between a ban on same-sex marriage and economic development.”

Meanwhile, the National Organization for Marriage, always ready to appropriate an idiotic argument, pounced, featuring Pence’s statement in a favorable blog post and in the organization’s national newsletter.

We have no idea whether it’s true that there exists a positive correlation between anti–marriage equality laws and economic growth. But let’s accept the premise. By this logic, same-sex marriage bans also cause obesity, low education levels, and low median household income levels. Nine of the 10 fattest states in the country have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage; the tenth, West Virginia, prohibits it by statute. Of the 10 states with the fewest college-degree holders, nine have constitutional bans, and again the tenth is good ol’ West Virginia. And all 10 states with the lowest median household income decline to recognize same-sex marriage. So, we suppose, if marriage equality bans help economic growth, they also stunt healthy eating, education, and incomes.

Ah, but NOM is not finished yet. It has another terrifying consequence to add to the list of things that supposedly will (but actually don’t) happen when gay marriage is allowed. This one, though, might actually come true. In that lovely newsletter of theirs, NOM quotes the chilling story told by Mechi Richards of Argentina, where gay marriage has been legal since 2010. As paraphrased by World magazine, Richards described the horrifying consequences that occurred soon after marriage equality passed: “[Richards] said many Argentinians didn’t think the new law would affect them, but passage has led to a completely redesigned sexual education that teaches gender equality and minimizes the traditional family.”

The schools are teaching gender equality? Head for the hills. We thought that gay marriage would mean kids would be taught that gay people are equal (bad enough!), but now they’re trying to brainwash kids into thinking that women are equal too!

Ho-hum, though. These are the types of hilariously awful arguments that pervade the National Organization for Marriage and antigay organizations like it. They are desperate. They know they’ve lost, but they can’t go down without spewing as much nonsense as possible.

President Obama was right when he said that people of goodwill can differ on the question of marriage equality. The problem now is that most of the leaders of the antigay movement lack either goodwill or intellectual seriousness.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Venango County: Teach LGBT History!

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources. Learn more at Equality Forum.

LGBT History Is American History

The LGBT community is the only community worldwide that is not taught its history at home, in public schools or in religious institutions. LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement of our extraordinary national and international contributions.

“LGBT History Month sends an important message to our nation’s teachers, school boards, community leaders, and youth about the vital importance of recognizing and exploring the role of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in American history."

- George Chauncey
Samuel Knight Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department, Yale University

A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”

by Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing:

I received the following email today in response to my post I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay. I had decided a couple months ago that it was time to let the whole thing rest, but this response was so powerful, I couldn’t not share it with you all. It was from a woman who simply called herself, “One proud mom.”

Hello Mr. Pearce,

I am the Christian mother of a 15 year old teenage boy and about a month ago he came home from school with a copy of your article “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay”. The teacher gave his class a homework assignment to read it and write a 500 word essay about “what it meant to them”.

He came home and showed me your article and asked me what I thought about it. I read just the title and became furious at his teacher and at you (even though I know you had nothing to do with her handing out the assignment). Anyway, I confiscated it from him and told him he wasn’t to do anything with it till I had a chance to read it first.

And then I got madder and madder as I read it as I felt like it was a direct attack against our beliefs and our Christian religion and that it was promoting homosexuality, a practice that around here is a huge “sin”.

I gave my son an earful about homosexuality and God and told him that he could tell his teacher that he would not be participating and if she had a problem, she could come talk to me and then I threw the article in the trash. My son didn’t say anything just walked into his room and shut the door.

Long story short, a couple hours later it was supper time and I still hadn’t seen him come out of his room. I didn’t expect it to be that big of a deal to him but I went and knocked and told him to come out, he didn’t answer so I opened his door and he wasn’t there, he had left the house and gone somewhere. Of course I got more mad and tried to call him but he sent it to voicemail. I sent him a text and told him he better get home and he was grounded.

This is the text he sent me in return: “I don’t care. I’m at my friends house writing that essay and I’m not coming home till you read it.”

I think you would have seen steam coming out of my ears if you saw me. I started preparing to go talk to the school the next day. I sent a few angry texts to my son that he didn’t answer. I got the article out of the trash so I could take it into the school and get this teacher fired. My anger got a little out of control and while I was sitting there fuming and planning what to do, I got another text from my son that said “Just emailed it. Love, Jacob.”

My son’s name is not Jacob, and it took me a minute to realize that he was talking about your friend Jacob in your article. And when I realized that I suddenly started shaking in fear and anger at what he might be telling me. I started out of control crying because I couldn’t handle having a gay son and what if that’s what he was trying to tell me? After a long time I finally got the courage to go look at my email and see what he had sent. And this is what he wrote.

I am gay and only my one friend knows so far. My mom doesn’t know yet. My dad doesn’t know yet. You didn’t know it when you gave us this homework. I am only 15 years old and I have never felt so alone. My mom and dad always are being angry about gay people and talking about how they are bad and going to hell and they also always talk about how all the gays should be shipped off to their own private island or something so that the rest of us could live God’s commandments in peace.

I have been so scared of them finding out that I’m gay because I know that they would hate me and would want me out of their life and at the same time I can’t keep this secret anymore because it is not something I asked for, never in a million years would I ask to be gay in a town like this where everybody would hate me. And anyways I can’t keep this secret anymore because I’m about to do something crazy like run away or hurt myself or something. I just want to be dead sometimes.

And then you gave us the assignment to write this essay for our homework and I read it like ten times I even skipped lunch and just kept reading it in the bathroom and by the time I went home I decided that maybe I am only 15 years old but maybe this town will change if I can be honest about who I am and maybe my family will change if I can be honest about who I am with them too. I don’t see why I don’t deserve love just like everyone else. I see some crazy stuff that so many people do and people still love them but for some reason everybody around here thinks its ok to hate gays and stuff. And I don’t know really I think I just realize that I don’t want to be Jacob in ten years and still live my life in secret and scared of being hated.

So I go home and I tell my mom to read this handout you gave us and she got so mad at me and started going crazy about how evil gays are and how all of this was just the devil spreading his work and everything else she said. But this time I just got mad myself and I got so mad because I suddenly realize that this is the woman that my whole life made me go to church where they talk about love just like the writer said but she and every other person I pretty much know just hate so many people especially gay people. So I got madder and madder and madder and then I snuck out and came to my friends house to write this essay because its time to stop letting people’s hate stop me from being happy. I mean should I really have to hate my life and want to die because other people are so hating?

And I don’t know what will happen but I am done playing like I’m something I’m not and if my parents don’t love me anymore because of this then I realize that’s not my problem and it will hurt but not as much as the way I hurt right now. I feel like if my mom and dad would just think about things they’d realize that what they always say and how they always hate gays is not what Jesus would do and maybe there is a chance that they will some day love me like Jesus would. I am their kid afterall.

Tonight I am going to send this to my mom and see what she says I guess. I don’t know what will happen but I know that I deserve to be loved just like everybody else does I just hope she thinks so too.

Obviously you can imagine the emotions and thoughts that were going through my head when I read that …

I started crying and couldn’t stop for the longest time. I don’t know why I was crying exactly, just so many emotions came over me. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond. I finally stopped and went and read your article once more only this time I tried to read it through my son’s eyes and the whole thing was so different than it was a couple hours before. By the time I finished I felt as big as an ant and I realized just how much hatred I have in my heart toward others.

You see, Mr. Pearce, you are right. It’s not about what other people do. It’s about whether or not we are loving them. Nothing else matters at all. And it took all of this for that to finally sink in.

I texted my son back that I loved him and left it at that. He came home that night and didn’t try to talk to me about it, I just told him I loved him at least ten times that night and made sure not to talk about anything else. My love for him was the only thing I wanted him to feel and I knew he’d talk to me about it when he was ready.

That was a month ago and in the last month my son and I (his dad lives three states away and still doesn’t know) have grown much closer than we ever were before. We have both stood up against hate several times when we hear it coming from the people around us. You see, where we live people really do have problems “being Christian unless…” But no longer in this home.

I’ve shared your article now with countless people. I have made my sisters read it. I talked about its message to my parents. I sent it to my friends and neighbors. And I’ve had some people get really upset by it, but a change is starting to happen around here and it’s because one teenage boy finally had the courage to stand against what he felt was wrong. He believed he could make a change. And I’ll tell you right now, it makes me happy to see him so happy. I never knew how unhappy he was until I could finally see how happy he could be.

So thank you. I know this is long, but I thought you’d like to know what your article has done in this little town we live in. And it’s just the beginning.

Sincerely yours, one proud mom.


If you think you can’t make a difference, you are wrong. If you think you are too old or too young to make change happen, you are wrong. If you think that somebody else will do it first, you are wrong. I think this letter is proof enough of that.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

Quick note: The image used in this post is stock photography and is not intended to be presented as an actual photo of the boy in this letter.

Also, after much debate, I’ve decided to disable the comments section of this post. At least for now. The discussion that started when I first published this post was poignant and powerful. It was constructive. And while some great discussion has still been happening, a lot of hateful, bigoted, and angry discussion had taken over. So, in order to keep the spirit of the post, I felt it best to let the comment section rest for a while. Thanks for understanding. If you’ve felt inspired by what you’ve read, thank you for sharing this blog post.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On The Right Side Of History In Braddock Pennsylvania

from the Huffington Post - August 6, 2013:

The mayor of Braddock, Penn. performed his county's first gay wedding Aug. 5 in spite of the statewide ban on same-sex marriage.

Calling Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act "a fundamentally unjust piece of legislation," Braddock Mayor John Fetterman said he was happy to marry John Kandray and Bill Gray, who have been together for 11 years and had obtained a marriage license in Montgomery County, CBS Pittsburgh is reporting.

The ceremony took place around 9:30 p.m. on Monday in front of the couple's family and friends, who had gathered at Fetterman's home.

“We pay the same taxes, we do everything the same, but we don’t have the same rights,” Kandray is quoted as saying. “It felt like, you know what, let’s stand up for ourselves and do this."

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania officials have filed a lawsuit alleging that D. Bruce Hanes, the register of wills in Montgomery County, violated state laws when he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last month, the Associated Press reported.

"I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law," Hanes said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. More than 60 marriage licenses have reportedly been issued to same-sex couples by Montgomery County so far.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Next Civil Rights Frontier

New York Times Editorial - July 31, 2013:

Federal civil rights officials reached an important settlement late last month with a California school district accused of discriminating against a transgender student by denying him equal access to educational programs and activities. Under the agreement, the Arcadia Unified School District in California will revise its policies and ensure that the student, who was born female but has since assumed a male name and identity, is treated fairly and like other male students. The agreement should be required reading for school officials at all levels nationally.

The case involved a child who was anatomically female but began to identify as a boy at an early age, assuming a male first name and wearing boys’ clothes. By the end of fifth grade, the student’s classmates accepted the transformation, but the school district would not let the matter go. Despite warnings from experts that the student should be treated as a boy in all settings, school officials singled him out in ways that brought unwanted attention and made the gender transformation much more difficult. He was given a separate dressing area for physical education class — which isolated him from friends — and assigned to a distant, cross-campus restroom, the use of which required him to miss class time.

On a camping trip in 2011, the social highlight of the seventh-grade year, the school district refused to let the student sleep in a cabin with male friends, some of whom knew his history, even though the friends had requested him as a cabin mate. He was forced instead to stay in a separate cabin with one of his parents, which both he and his parents found disheartening.

Just before the trip, his parents filed civil rights complaints with the Justice Department and the Department of Education. As the investigation progressed, the district agreed to make sure the student had access to facilities designated for male students at all district-sponsored activities and to revise its antidiscrimination policies so as to prohibit gender-based discrimination.

The agreement ends a painful episode for the student and his family. It may also be the beginning of a more welcoming future for transgender students.