No moral authority? That makes two of you, Miss Phelps!

westboro Arlington protestWestboro Baptist Church protests are rarely covered these days, except for in exceptional comedic effect found in the myriad of ways in which they are counter-protested. This ‘church’, perhaps best known for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers with the message “God Hates Fags”, essentially seeks publicity for their actions, and so it’s a good thing that publicity for their insensitive, hateful, and abhorrent antics appears to have largely dried up, starving them of the oxygen that spurs them on. Their outlandish behavior, which is offensive to many, is now largely accepted as simply being what they do, and has ceased to be newsworthy, except in specific circumstances such as at one of their recent ‘protests’.

At Arlington National Cemetery yesterday (Monday), hours before President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in leading the nation’s Memorial Day observances, a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration was counter-protested – by a group including 10 members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were separate from the main counter protest. A spokesman for this branch of the clan, describing his self as an ‘Imperial Wizard’, explained that they were there to object to the Westboro Baptist Church’s anti-troop message.

“It’s the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech,” said Dennis LaBonte, of the Virginian group ‘Knights of the Southern Cross’.

Westboro Baptist Church’s response? Miss Phelps, daughter of the founder of the ‘church’ Fred Phelps, retorted with “That’s fine, they have no moral authority on anything.”

It’s true – given the history of the KKK, and given the fact that the organization has actually killed people, they have precious little moral authority to stand on. Even so, the message from Miss Phelps carried more than just this fact. It also holds the implication that by a matter of contrast, the Westboro Baptist Church does have moral authority. It doesn’t. The Westboro Baptist Church has tried to use this event to discredit those that oppose them. The subtle message of Miss Phelps’s comment can be easily described as “How  can you claim your cause is righteous when you have people like that on your side?”

Well, Miss Phelps, not to discount the possibility of a less than palatable group using an event or a cause to try to gain legitimacy and further its own agenda, which Westboro Baptists will surely be all too familiar with, there is the alternate and far more sensible way of looking at it…

When even the Ku Klux Klan feel the need to meet you with a counter protest, you’ve surely got to know that what you’re doing is really screwed up!

Thank you for that little crumb Mr President….

So apparently the President has commented on the Minnesota “lets screw LGBTQIA couples twice” amendment blocking marriage equality.

I’m mildly surprised that the supposedly fiscally focused Republican wave of 2010 seems to care nothing about fixing the budget, and only concentrates on social issues. In truth I always knew the Tea Party was just an especially rabid variant of conservatism on all stripes dressed up in the clothing of fiscal conservatism.

However thats beside the point, the president could call for an end to DOMA, use that bully pulpit to argue for marriage equality. We want DOMA struck down, but lets have a federal marriage equality law that repeals every single one of those disgusting state amendments from Proposition 8 in California to Texas’s Proposition 2.

I know the President thinks he can get away with empty platitudes and still carry the LGBTQIA vote just by the fact that he’s not an openly homophobic republican wingnut, but I’m actually sick of his cast offs and empty promises. So I know you aren’t listening but please President Obama, unless you are actually doing something real and significant on LGBTQIA rights, then please stop pretending you give a crap about us.

Time to stand our ground

So far this week:

And the week isn’t even over yet. Is there something in the water in London, Paris and Brussels?

I’d had enough after Dorries, nevermind the other three. I have very little energy left to actually argue with these people. I will keep doing so, keep calling them out on it, but I want to do more.

Every time I write about violence against women – whether it’s to tell my own story or to challenge the monumental ignorance and cruelty displayed by people like Nadine Dorries and others – I get one response consistently: every single time, a few more women get in touch – privately or publicly – to share their own stories of sexual violence, rape, domestic abuse.

If you’ve been reading my blog over the last year or so, you’ll know the stats:

  • 45% of women suffer sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
  • One in four women is raped – that’s 200 every single day.
  • 21% of girls are sexually abused.
  • 2 women a week in England and Wales are killed by a partner or ex-partner.

The stats are clearly not enough. Somehow, our politicians and judges still seem to find it acceptable to trivialise this kind of violence and to blame the victims. We need to do more to help these people understand the extent of the issue and its impact on women and society in general.

So I have spent my weekend with two friends, working on a way to give women who have suffered this kind of violence a voice; a place to speak out safely about what happened to them, to tell their story, to make others aware and help them understand. As I am writing this, Gemma is sitting next to me, coding the alpha version of the site.

We will go public very soon, and we want your contribution. If you have a story to tell – safely, anonymously – then please get in touch with me. I know it’s an incredibly brave and difficult thing I am asking of you; but if we do not speak up, the victim-blaming and trivialisation, and ultimately the violence, will never stop. It’s time to stand our ground. Stand with me.

Waterloo Road Addresses Trans Issues

I am not normally a fan of Waterloo Road, but suddenly they have done something extraordinary with their latest episode dealing with the situation faced by Martin, a young trans-girl at the school. Their handling was exemplary, dealing with the pain and the frustration of the situations we have faced, and continue to face.

Martin Dunbar

A difficult role for a talented actor (copyright BBC)

Martin in a spiral of agony and being harangued by her fellow students  for a misunderstanding outed herself as trans, before running off. The different members of the school dealt with the fallout in different ways, one girl suffering her own difficulties goes and offers comfort and counsel, while teachers try to understand the situation. Some students are sadly cruel, but as also happens, other students stand up for Martin.

Martin and Sambucca

a moment of happiness and acceptance makes Martin smile (copyright BBC)

The handling of the mother was also perhaps accelerated, but also well done, where she realizes that she could have a dead son, or a living daughter and admits its going to be difficult but will try her best.

Hopefully over the following weeks we’ll find out as Martin begins to come out and find herself. Stories help young trans youth come to terms with themselves and helps parents, family and friends understand the complexities and reality of the situation. Hopefully the next generation of transgirls and boys wont have to face the initial ignorance of their parents that Martin’s mother initially shows.

I’m hoping that shows in the US will pick up and start showing these story lines as well.

Those in the UK can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer. Non UK readers should see here for information.

NB: I realize some people may be confused about the syntax of calling her Martin, until she chooses her name within the show, thats the name she is known by. It is rather regressive to consider that a girl can’t be called Martin.

Still no repeal, why didn’t the court case continue?

DADT repeal signing

Repeal Signed, but worthless?

Before the new congress was signed in, the only significant piece of legislation that fulfilled the president’s pledge to be a champion of equal rights, was repealing DADT. Part of the implications of its signing was that the court case that would have demanded immediate repeal was put on hold, but now almost 6 months after we were told it would be repealed, still LGB personnel (trans and intersex, need not apply) are forbidden from being open within the armed forces.

Cadet Katie Miller who resigned over DADT

Still not allowed to Re-Enlist


Katie Miller, the highly skilled West Point student who resigned rather than continue the lie of being straight, has since tried to reapply, but has continued to be rebuffed despite the implementation of the repeal being a matter of a couple of months away.

I’m sorry but this is not good enough, the US military neither needed, nor got time to “train” for the acceptance of integrated units, and this farce has gone on long enough. The fact that President Obama has not kept up pressure to get this repeal done, is a betrayal of all the fighting men and women who have to live a lie every day.

Apparently LGBTQIA people are only worth doing the bare minimum for, not getting the “full” support that Obama promised.

I still support his relection, but only because he is not as much a threat to me and mine, as the Republicans would be, thats his only strong point as far as I can see.

I’ve also got to ask, when the law still discriminates, why the court case has petered out… it could have enforced repeal rather than waited for this insult of a process to continue.

Immigration, Obama and LGBTQIA families this week…

Finally after 2 years of letting LGBTQIA familes be broken up because of DOMA’s unconstitutional provisions preventing federal recognition of same sex families, the US DOJ has put a stay on several deportations of the spouses of american citizens. Its not an across the board stay, but for those families recognised, its a breather.

However in all honesty its a scrap of bread from the table for the good little queers who sit under the table eagerly awaiting for Obama to come save them. Its another “deal with it queers” from the Obama administration. At least if it were a blanket stay of execution, then at least it would benefit all such families, rather than just ones who have managed to publicise their cases.

Across the US even if you get married in one of the few states that recognises marriage and you are binational, the chances of a stay of deportation until the DOMA case is decided are pretty slim.

President Obama, you take us for granted and expect us to vote for you because you are less evil to LGBTQIA people than the republicans, if you want to take a real stand, release an executive order stopping all deportations of LGBTQIA spouses in which the only grounds for denying a green card is DOMA, until the DOMA case is decided.

Australia strides forward on the treatment of young trans kids

This story has been bouncing around the interwebs for a few weeks, but i think its still a significant step forward. “Jamie” as she’s referred to in the news articles, has already been living as a girl for 2 years, and her family, including her twin brother has accepted the change.

The judge recognising the critically damaging changes that will start happening in the next months and years to Jamie’s body gave permission to her doctors to start her on puberty blocking drugs. This will mean that when she is older she will be able to take contra-hormone therapy and get all the benefits.

Of course the right wing across the western world is spitting fireballs, and pointing to their flawed research. Matt Barber, the VP of the Liberty Counsel Action hate group said that because of his beliefs in God making us and we should accept that no matter the pain, its sinful to allow people to be allowed to transition.

Every reputable psychiatric institution recognises that for some Gender Identity Disorder emerges at an early age, and that careful monitored treatment can maximise the benefits of the overall process. All of these same institutes, recognise that people who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder, cannot be counselled, coerced, or brutalised into being the physical gender they where born as.

What real christianity has to say about LGBTQIA folk

I remember years ago seeing an inspiring advert for the United Church of Christ which largely was saying that we accept you as you are, rather than as we expect you to be.

Here’s a piece, about acceptance and the role in fighting hatred and intolerance of the clergy.

Apparently, according to the supposedly progressive Sojourners Social Justice Ministry, the advert was “taking sides” and so their group refused to air it. The idea that a priest would be clearly protective and supportive of all the members of his flock is “controversial”.

Please sign the petition asking the Sojourners to stop silencing LGBT people of faith.

Check out the work of Believe Out Loud who are trying to get a million christians to stand up for equality.

Found via those wonderful people at the Bilerico Project

FCKH8 goes after Stacey Campfield’s gay suicide promotion bill

Those wonderful people at FCKH8 are fighting hard against Senator Campfields efforts to make school even harder for LGBTQIA folk. The “Teachers Can’t Talk About Homos” Law from on Vimeo.

If you want some more insight into the mindset of the Senator who came up with this bill…. here’s his response to an e-mail I sent him.

While I appreciate your passion, I still feel it is a parents responsibility to
decide when a child is ready to grasp such a complex issue as sexuality and what

they want to tell the child about that complex subject. All children developed
mentally at different rates. I do not feel a teacher with an agenda (Be it pro
or con) is the appropriate person to decide for the entire class just because
they may think one way or another on an issue and want to espouse it. I doubt
you would want a teacher who said homosexuality is evil, dirty and wrong because

they felt it was appropriate and that is what they thought the children needed
to hear. We are falling behind the rest of the world in math and science amongst

other things. This will be just one less issue they have to worry about.

Yours in service,

Sen. Stacey Campfield

He’s obviously homophobic, and thinks that stopping talking about LGBTQIA issues will prevent them coming out, but as I said before, this bill will increase the likelyhood that LGBTQIA teens will attempt suicide due to one of their routes of support being ripped away.