The battle is eternal, you are right about that, but its not the battle you think, you are not the protagonist in the most important cause in human history, you are just a lowly soldier marching to the beat of fear, of ignorance and hate.
Sometimes the darkness wins some battles, when everything good we’ve achieved is brought to ash, stories of that are woven through our mythology, the Flood, Babel, Atlantis, the Fall, Ragnarok, even Sodom and Gomorrah. Your storytellers have always tried to make it out that they are stories of punishment, of victory of good vs evil, but they can’t hide what they really mean.
The stories are not about destruction and punishment, they are about change, death and rebirth, which is a very human concept.
When the first city fell, if your ideas had their way, we would have never thought about learning or progress again, but within a hundred years of each other Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley civilisations blossomed into life. Even when you destroyed Rome, less than 2000 years later, using a shoestring calculator and hydrogen/oxygen deathtrap this little fallen species visited another world.
There will always be the ignorant, the fearful, and sometimes they might find ways to bring us down. But for the next 1000 generations, anyone who can build a telescope and look up into the sky, will see a flag flying there, left by a people who took the forbidden fruit and went to the stars with it.
Currently because of their support for basic rights for all american citizens, Starbucks is in the crosshairs of NOM, and One Million Moms keeps going after JC Penny. However I got to thinking and I decided to look at the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index that rates companies based on their treatment of their queer employees and how they behave as a corporate citizen with respect to civil rights.
Here’s the official criteria
1a Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation (15 points)
1b Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Expression (15 points)
2a Offers Partner Health/Medical Insurance (15 points)
2b Has Parity Across Other “Soft” Benefits for Partners (10 points) (half credit for parity across some, but not all benefits)
2c Offers Transgender-Inclusive Health Insurance Coverage (10 points)
3a Firm-wide Organizational Competency Programs (10 points)
3b Has Employer-Supported Employee Resource Group OR Firm-Wide Diversity Council (10 points) Would Support ERG if Employees Express Interest (half credit)
4 Positively Engages the External LGBT Community (15 points) (partial credit of 5 points given for less than 3 efforts)
5 Responsible Citizenship Employers will have 25 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records (-25 points)
So if a company has 50 out of a hundred, they are far from perfect (hint hint T-mobile) but the sheer broad spectrum of companies who so called Pro-Family groups should be boycotting is still quite staggering.
If they want to use their cellphone, they should be avoiding AT&T (100 pts), Sprint (100 pts), T-Mobile (55pts) and probably Verizon since they have non-discrimination policies and partner benefits (Clocking in at an anaemic 20 points). They should also remember that all the other phone networks use those 4 networks to be able to exist and so you can’t go elsewhere and still maintain the boycott.
For your Internet options, you’re blocked again by AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner (90pts) which covers most of the major competitors…and the same applies for your TV with DirecTV (75 pts). You do have an option you could always go with the Dish Network (0 pts).
As far as your eating and drinking, problems abound, Pepsi (95 pts), Coca Cola (75pts), and Dr Pepper/Snapple (60pts) are going to force you to be thirsty, while McDonalds (75 pts), Burger King (55 pts), and even Yum! (45 pts) will keep you away from KFC. Don’t think you are safe at the supermarket tho, Kraft (100 pts), Kellog (100 pts) and Unilever (100 pts) are gonna need to be avoided like the plague.
When you sit down at your computer, you’d better hope its not using an operating system from Microsoft (100 pts), or even worse, put together by those lovely people at Dell, HP, or Apple (100 pts a piece). It’ll have to be using something from North Korea, because if its got an Intel (95 pts) or AMD (70 pts) processor in it…
Once you get online, you’d better not search with Google (100 pts), Yahoo (100 pts), or Microsoft’s Bing, and you should definitely not be shopping on Amazon (90 pts) or eBay (100 pts). If you order anything offline, best check to make sure its not UPS (100 pts) or FedEx (75 pts) doing the delivering.
Filling up at the tank, you’re in luck you can stop at Exxon (-25 pts) but you’ll have to drive past Chevron (100 pts), BP (85 pts) and Shell (85 pts). Of course you won’t be driving a car from GM (85 pts), Ford (100 pts), Toyota (100 pts), Chrysler (100 pts), Volkswagon (90 pts), or Subaru (85 pts).
Don’t even think about paying by card, because American Express (100 pts), Visa (85 pts) and MasterCard (90 pts) don’t share your values. Bank choices are easier, but that sock under the bed might be easier than avoiding Bank of America (100 pts), Citigroup (100 pts), and Goldman Sachs (100 pts)
This is an incomplete list, but I think if these groups are serious about fighting the march for equality they’ve got to really boycott, and not be weak on this issue. Boycott all the companies that stand up for our rights, and value our contributions. I know why you don’t, its because you know the fight is already over, even the one of the nasty ones (Dominos) has sneaked up to 30 pts. So you can have your little tantrums, and complain, but you know while you can boycott Starbucks, you can’t function without your cell phone.
You’ve failed to bully anyone other than Mitt Romney…I know you won’t accept that equality is only a matter of when, but it is. Hope some day you can accept that.
Apple have in the past supported LGBT rights. In fact they donated to the Prop 8 cause in favour of equality. However, all may not be as it seems just from that one act.
Following the removal of an application by the Manhattan Declaration a few months ago which said quite clearly that same sex couples are ‘sexually immoral’, originally given a 4+ rating by Apple implying it to be entirely family friendly with no objectionable content… an app that was only removed following a campaign and petition against it… Apple have done it again.
Yes, our ‘good friends’ at Exodus International have introduced an application to an app store near you, intended to deliver a dangerous message to tech savvy young adults: ‘You can be “freed from homosexuality” and have your sexual orientation “cured” if you’re LGBT.’ Yes, this is the same Exodus International that promotes the universally condemned snake oil of “ex-gay therapy”, which has been described as causing catastrophic damage to the mental health of it’s victims by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association.
Worse yet, Apple have, again, given this app a 4+ rating, once more branding the app as entirely inoffensive and harmless, even though the group tells gay kids that their sexual orientation is “immoral,” “satanic”, and in need of a cure, which we all know to be the very kind of insulting and frankly degrading and oppressive bigotry that contributes to depression, anxiety, isolation, and even suicide.
There is a petition to remove the app from Apple’s app store, though at this point, we have to consider motives here. Yes, they donated against Prop 8, but while a significant amount of money, $100,000 dollars is really a drop in the ocean to Apple – hell, they’re getting good PR just because I’m mentioning it now. On the other hand, not only do Apple make a big deal of banning any app from their store that could possibly be objectionable to anyone in the majority of their userbase, they seem to not only have allowed these bigoted anti-gay applications, but also rated them as being entirely inoffensive, and only removed the last one due to the petition and widespread outcry over it. This one looks likely to follow suit (unless of course Apple really wants to be seen to be anti-LGBT). The fact is, Apple is a company founded on it’s image… it’s why it has the rules it has. Someone at Apple clearly feels that declaring these apps as inoffensive and even allowing them in the first place is not only acceptable, but perfectly OK with the company image.
The choice between Android, Research In Motion and Apple just got political. No… further than that, it just got moral. This, from Apple, is not acceptable, and if LGBT people do not show them how such actions will hurt, in the app store sales, the phone store sales, the music store sales… etc … who will?
Please sign the petition, and please consider sending your own message to Apple… but please don’t ignore what you’re paying to support in buying into it at the moment.
I’ve seen it reported in US media from time to time, that same sex marriage exists in the UK. It doesn’t. What exists in the UK is a segregated system of sexuality based apartheid. If you’re straight, you can get married, and if you’re LGBT, you can have a ‘civil partnership’. However, the issue of marriage equality is now emerging into UK public consciousness.
A civil partnership is largely like a marriage in terms of its legal effects, but it is not a marriage. In fact, it was deliberately stripped of any and all emotional or spiritual connotations entirely. A marriage in the UK is binding from the point that vows are spoken, and yet, a civil partnership is created instead from the signatures on a legal contract. A straight couple who hold a religious or spiritual faith may choose to incorporate elements of their beliefs into the ceremony. They have the option of making their marriage special in their way, and to honour their love and commitment in the manner most meaningful to them. LGBT people do not have this option. For married people, adulterous behaviour is grounds for divorce if they so choose -the same is not true of civil partners. Even if these differences did not exist, the law makes clear that a civil partnership is not a marriage. Marriage equality is what was sought, and the UK gave LGBT people something less. They deliberately segregated gay and straight people, and effectively said that gay people should not be afforded the right to get married or celebrate their love and commitment in anything that resembles a personal, spiritual way, and so creating a greater and a lesser form of partnership. In fact, this discrimination is so firmly entrenched that transsexual people, if married, must actually divorce only to then obtain a civil partnership in order to have their personal details officially corrected.
Ever since the Civil Partnerships Act recieved Royal Assent in 2004, there has been a cry for full marriage equality. A cry which is finally beginning to be heared across all three major political parties, with the Liberal Democrats having even gone so far as to make marriage equality a matter of their party policy… and well they might, as marriage equality in the UK is a very popular move to make. Opinion polls show a consistent majority in favour of equal rights and an end to the discrimination. Sadly though, the politicians are slow to practice what they preach.
Currently, the Government is faced with an opportunity and with pressure to end this discrimination as stipulated by legislation passed last year. The legislation makes very clear that no religious institution opposed to same sex partnerships would be required to perform them or to allow their places of worship to be used for them.
Many Liberal Democrats will no doubt be quick to claim any extention of LGBT rights towards marriage equality as a sign of their success and moral standing in Government. However, it should also be noted that the provisions which call for the change allowing LGBT people to involve their religious beliefs in their civil partnerships comes from an Equality Act, written last year under the leadership of a Labour Government (the self same act that effectively rolled back some of the rights of transsexual people, and decided that LGBT bullying in schools should not be specifically remedied). The implementation of the law allowing for this positive step towards marriage equality has in fact been delayed for a year by the current government. The fact is, when it comes to LGBT rights, none of the political parties have a particularly good record when it comes to actually fighting to do something about it -some worse than others, the worst, sadly, being the party leading the current Government!
Even so, this is a remarkably important step forward, at least in its potential, and it should be considered as such. The consultation undoubtedly will involve many churches vehemently opposed to marriage equality. These churches are worried that with the key difference in the ban on religious components to civil partnerships being removed, there would be no real reason not to call them marriages – and rightly so, because they’re right! However, there is no word from the Government on whether Civil Partnerships will be changed so that they may be referred to as marriages… it’s not really even on the agenda. The Government has simply suggested that it might think about it some time. The question is whether it is right that LGBT people who wish to be able to recognise their beliefs in a ceremony marking their partnership should be able to… and if their beliefs (or those of their church) allow for this, is there any fair reason why they should not be allowed to? No. There isn’t.
The right wing press is predictably spinning and overblowing the comments of church leaders to suggest a fear that they will be forced to perform gay marriages. It’s as predictable as it is tiresome. Left unchecked, extremist churches and right wing mariage equality opponents may well water down any eventual positive step towards marriage equality, or block it altogether. This should not be allowed to happen – at least not without firm opposition to such underhanded and homophobic intentions.
Fellow No More Lost writer Gemma, in her recent piece about France’s failure to ensure mariage equality, notes the way that the energy of the movement was lost following a homophobic court ruling in 2004. Reading her article, and noting the lack of widespread opposition to marriage equality, I have to wonder why. It seems to me that an explanation may be that unless related to an oppositional religious group, most heterosexual people aren’t exceptionally bothered by marriage equality, given that they don’t really have much cause to think about it and it doesn’t effect them.
For that reason, and that reason alone, as the issue of marriage equality enters the UK public consciousness, and as the right wing press spews out it’s typical homophobic propaganda and lies about the reality of what’s going on, it’s more important than ever that we make our case. It is more important than ever that we make ourselves heared. It is now more important than ever that we, LGBT people and our heterosexual allies, ensure that the public at large have more information than just the usual nationally disseminated lies and propaganda, and that the public consciousness of the issue also forms around an understanding of the wrongs and impacts that marriage INequality gives rise to.
I’m not a Christian. I’m not especially a massive supporter of religion in general either, though firmly of the belief that everybody needs to have a little faith sometimes – it just doesn’t have to necessarily be in a God. As such, I pass little judgement on Christianity itself, but I’m just as capable as the next person of observing the things done and the sentiments expressed by people in its name, and to compare those with the Christian teachings that, lets face it, most of us in the western world have encountered whether we’re Christian or not.
In 2003, the Episcopalian Church was the first large Christian denomination in the world to elect an openly gay Bishop, and did so in spite of a smear campaign that pandered to all the usual dirty tactics – including hugely overinflated accusations of sexual assault, which were investigated and disproved… and he was elected by a significant majority, demonstrating the majority of the denomination’s commitment to people – human beings – and no sexualities.
On New Years day this year, 2011, comes another commendable first from this same denomination – the wedding of two high-level priests, who incidentally happen to be lesbian, is thought to be a first for the US.
Meanwhile, in what must surely be a bitter pill to swallow for many viewers of the conservative current affairs channel Fox News, the US State Department has announced that Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents, and significantly, passport applications, will no longer ask for the entry of “mother” and “father”, but of the gender neutral fields “parent 1″ and “parent 2″. This move allows for the recognition of both family situations arising from such things as IVF treatment, and of course, families with same sex parents. The new passport applications will be rolled out in February.
Of course, religious right so-called “pro family groups” are proclaiming outrage and insanity at this move – nothing is unexpected about that! “Political Correctness gone mad” is the cry. They argue that this change somehow provides less information than the previous “mother” and “father” fields. This is a stance, however, that betrays the true hypocrisy of such groups. As the State Department explains, through deputy assistant Secretary of State Brenda Sprague;
These improvements are being made to provide a gender neutral description of a child’s parents and in recognition of different types of families. … We find that with changes in medical science and reproductive technology that we are confronting situations now that we would not have anticipated 10 or 15 years ago.
In other words, this move from the State Department is a move that simply recognises families which already exist – what’s so wrong with that? Simply, the so-called “pro family groups” doing the complaining are very picky about which families they are in favour of. A family with LGBT parents is still a family, but religious right pro family groups would evidently prefer that it weren’t recognised as such. It’s obviously not their views on family that inform them in this, but their so-called “Christian” views on homosexuality. Such duplicity and misrepresentation doesn’t sound very Christian at all!
What can we learn from all this? What message can we take from it? What does it show? I propose that these recent events, considered together, say two important things. The first of these things is a confirmation of the old adage that “empty vessels make the loudest noise”. While these pro family groups ironically and duplicitously campaign against the recognition of those families they don’t like the idea of and practice bigotry and discrimination in the name of their religion, they claim their view to be the Christian way – it’s not. It’s simply the ideological view of the christian religious right, who in ignorance of the actual reality they face, do not espouse the view of Christianity as a whole. That much is demonstrated by the Episcopalian Church, whose most senior episcopal official of Massachusetts has spoken of the much kinder and more christian view that, “God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a lifelong commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other.”
Secondly, there is a message of hope, and a sign of increasing change. 25 years ago, in the middle of the 1980′s, gay people were blamed for the spread of AIDS, or the HIV virus as we now understand it. It was described as a “man made disease”, with gay people being the primary vectors through which it is spread. This of course is now recognised as nonsense, but going back 25 years ago, such ideas were exemplary of the widespread misunderstanding and vilification of gay people. Quite simply, it was not OK to be gay. These days, while LGBT people face significant inequality and outrageous discrimination in various areas, it is much more socially acceptable to be gay. We’re not quite there yet but we’re making progress, and the events and changes described in this article exemplify the positive direction in which things are moving – that the State Department would recognise same sex families in its passport applications would have been utterly unthinkable just 10 years ago.
There is hope. There is change. The generation that now finds itself all grown up has seen this change, and it’s something to celebrate. It’s not enough and there’s still work to be done, but it’s heading there. This generation of young LGBT people have every reason to hope and to believe that in continuing this work, as they grow up and live out their lives, there can be and will be full equality.
Is there an issue of “redefining marriage” in England? Charlie Butts of OneNewsNow appears to believe so. So much so in fact that he elected to write an article about it for the American Family News Network. It begs the question of who this family is – most certainly not a gay one. No, the American Family News Network is an offshoot of the American Family Association founded by the religious right conservative Donald Wildmon, dedicated to purveying “Your Latest News From A Christian Perspective”. Quite why this group feels it has a monopoly on what a Christian perspective is is anybodies guess, but that goes for many such right wing so-called family groups.
It has to be wondered whether LGBTQIA Americans are “letting the side down” at the moment, because quite evidently, this was a slow news day. There must have been very little ammunition against Gay people in America on the day of publishing for this non-story to reach our screens! Why else would the author have written about such an irrelevant story? By the authors assessment, that issue of which he writes is unlikely to amount to anything anyway, so why would the American Family News Network pay such attention to something which is nothing to do with America, and in their belief, would prove inconsequential. That there are people in the UK who would like to see same sex marriage recognised as legitimate is no secret and it’s nothing new. Indeed, if there were a story worth a mention at all, it would be that the Liberal Democrats (a party currently in Coalition Government in the UK) voted to support Same Sex Marriage as a matter of policy -That was some time ago!
Lets cut to the chase here – is same sex marriage a redefinition of marriage? Only so if you define marriage as between a man and a woman… but that is not the definition of marriage itself. Indeed, here in the UK we have civil partnerships which were incorrectly described as marriages in all but name by those that created them! Clearly then, the concept of marriage is not especially perceived as being primarily between one man and one woman, but rather, is perceived as the loving union of two people before the state. It is NOT perceived as being before God by anybody but the religious, which is why in the UK, civil ceremonies exist.
So, perhaps redefining marriage is not the issue in England. Perhaps the possible existence of same sex marriage is an issue and a more accurate way of describing that issue. Indeed, that much is true, but again, Mr. Butts has the wrong end of the stick. In fact, a 2009 Populus opinion poll, as reported by The Times Newspaper, reported that 61% of people agreed that “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships”, with just 33% disagreeing. Clearly, that’s a very definite suggestion that the “redefinition” of marriage “at issue” which Mr. Butts perceives is in fact the exact opposite of the issue that actually exists in England. Englanders aren’t “fighting back the horde of ‘gay activists’ trying to advance their ‘homosexual agenda’”. Englanders in fact realise that gay people deserve the same basic opportunities and rights as straight people, and they support gay marriage. The “issue” therefor is that of bigotry on the part of so called “pro-family” groups.
I guess the term “pro-family unless you happen to be gay” is a bit less catchy, but it’s closer to the truth. It is in fact the “pro family” groups that have the issue, not the rest of society. Considering the specifics of the article in question, the case being brought to the courts regarding marriage is not purely a “same sex marriage” issue. It’s an equality issue. It’s a question of why gay people and straight people should be segregated by law. It’s a question of what possible reason there could be for denying straight people the right to a civil partnership, and by comparison, why gay people should be equally be denied the right to marriage. Mr. Butts suggests that the case reeks of judicial activism, but judicial activism is when judges step beyond the realms of their station to make a point. It is quite within their station to make judgements on points of law, and that is exactly the task before them here. The judges are required to look both at whether there is a valid reason for denying civil partnerships to straight people, and if not, whether there is therefor a reason to deny marriage to gay people too.
In any case, regardless of the outcome of the case, public and political opinion is increasingly shifting in favour of same sex marriage, because the public is increasingly realising that there is no good and wholesome reason to deny it. The only unsavoury agents in the arena on this issue are in fact pro-family groups and religious right activists baying for the ability to discriminate and segregate… to oppress and hate.
So why the interest in UK matters from an American Family group? It’s probably the same reason that Fox News recently used footage of the student protests against tuition fee rises instigated by a right wing government as a suggestion that the people of the UK were following in behind the Tea Party movement of the US. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and the student movement here has been consistently on the left, not the right. Far right groups and organisations want people to believe that they are not raving, ranting, hateful and regressive – to ensure it, they want people to believe that other major players in the world are in agreement with their views, and are prepared to lie about it and misrepresent the facts. This speaks of just how sinister they can be, and how much they are actually worth listening to.
Lies, deceit, hate, bigotry and intolerance are not pro-family. Perhaps that’s part of why gay people often make better parents.
This is a really good visible campaign, of course being called on their crap frustrates NOM, so they responded claiming the children are being exploited.
The response makes me sick, how dare they talk loving families and say these children are not allowed a voice.
We are here, we have marriages in reality if not in law and people we love, and surprisingly we want share that positive environment with our children. I really don’t care that your neolithic religion doesn’t like the fact that i fuck my girlfriend and I think like everything else from that ignorant age it should be thrown on the trash heap…
Pop on over to FCKH8.COM and show your support
I’m just making a clarification here, that not all branches of the judeochristianislamic pantheon of religions cling to the homophobic tennets preached by the christian right. I do not intend to criticize the enlightened sects that remained true to the positive aspects espoused by those faiths, and if anyone took offense i do apologize, your faith is not for me but you are entitled to it.
We’re afraid to criticize african cultural issues, because of our own genocidal activities that went on during the colonial era. The exploitation in many countries still continues today.
However having come to terms with my colonial ancestry, i find there no problem in criticizing the genocidal attitudes in Uganda. This isn’t just about David Bahati and his party, his opponents are equally homophobic, and will probably vote for the “Kill the Gays” bill.
Uganda has been convinced by the ugandan church, and by lies and deceit fed to them by the fundamentalists in the USA. They believe that being gay is a learned behavior, they believe that gay people recruit youth and that children are at threat.
Reading some of the work on Uganda done by Jeff Sharlet, i was shocked by many aspects, but the stories of three transmen and their treatment by their community and the police. The first was a man who was given an exorcism by his community church against his will. He was stripped naked and tormented in front of the congregation, before being locked away for a week, while he was raped, in an effort to convince him that he was female. The other two were two transmen who were arrested by the police because they were presenting as male, and being involved in a gay rights movement. While in police custody, both were subjected to corrective rape. This is the kind of behavior supported and condoned by the Ugandan government, and to be honest its not too far from what those on the religious right in the US would like to do…
For those of you who know me, you’ll know i consider rape to be a worse crime than murder and should be treated and punished enough, but somehow corrective rape should be even more severe. This was a state sanctioned crime, and Uganda should be made to suffer for the actions it makes. If they want to try to continue with this gay genocide, then we should act, this is no different than the ethnic cleansings of Bosnia or the pogroms of the Russian Empire and we need to act, with diplomacy, and if necessary with aid to the LGBTQA community in Uganda, including offering of asylum to any who need it.
I keep hearing from the christian right that because I’m a girl who likes girls, i’m “sexually confused”. It hit me that this is in some ways the most offensive kind of comment, because its someone denying me my right to know what’s going on in my head and heart.
When I see a girl who i’m attracted to, my body and mind reacts as is normal in a girl who liks girls. When i’m going down on a girl there is no little voice in the back of my head saying “um like shouldn’t we be sucking dick this is wrong”. I love women, and I love every part of them, there is no confusion there.
The only people who are actually confused are those who think you can pray-the-gay-away, who believe they can be something they are not. If you love women, then accept it, if you love men, accept it, and if you love both, go enjoy yourself!
So if someone calls you sexually confused, or deluded, or in any way denigrates who you are, remember two important things, firstly they think they have the right to pigeonhole you as insane, and secondly nothing will upset them more, than you ignoring them and being true to yourself.