Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I'll Be Back

Apparently some gays are mad at Califohniah Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his recent comment calling some Democratic politicians "girlie men."  I say we shouldn't be mad at him for making any type of allegedly "homophobic" remark, we should be mad at him for using an ancient and annoyingly over-repeated pop-culture reference best left in the grave with Dana Carvey's career.

Oh, and no blog entries for at least a week; I've got to move this weekend and then I'm off on a business trip. Be good while I'm gone.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

For It Is A Shame For Women To Speak

According to, Mike White, the head of the Oregon Family Council, said that he hoped that Lynne Cheney "doesn't address the gay marriage issue " at the Oregon state Republican convention and that he was "troubled" that she refused to endorse the Federal Marriage Amendment. 

Furthermore, Mr. White, who clearly suffers from severe cranial-rectal inversion, further stated that "[s]he is here to rally support for the president, and common sense would saythat she will only make remarks on issues she and the president agree on."  Fortunately, the Oregon GOP Chairman Kevin Mannix was tactful enough to just comment that the convention is"just delighted that she's coming. She's an excellent speaker."

I suppose that Mr. White would also favor Mrs. Cheney's, and probably all his female's constituents'  silence in any religious matters, given Paul's command that "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. / And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:33-34).   After all, what do women know about anything other than cooking and homekeeping?

A mother bear is not begrudged for protecting her cub, but Mrs. Cheney apparently should sit passively by and say nothing while legislation that would negatively impact her daughter tries to pass.  Mr. White's suggestion that Mrs. Cheney should ignore a threat to  her child is an interesting family value.  Why can't Lynne follow Laura Bush's example of having no personality and letting her man make all the decisions? 

Common sense seems to dictate, in this case, that Mr. White should only make remarks on issues that don't expose him as a hypocrite and dolt.  Or to quote a non-Biblical piece of advice, "Best to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

God, Love, and Fags

From the gay spiritual magazine, White Crane, an exerpt from an article by Timothy Leary on same-sex love:

So, if God did not approve of homosexuality, God would not allow homosexuals to actually love one another. Homosexual people would only be able to experience the physical sensations of sex, but not know the rich life-giving experience of shared ecstasy. We would not know that sensation of being lost in ecstasy with another human being. The idea that same-sex love creates ecstasy and direct experiences of the Divine is frightening to people who want (or need) these cultural myths about heterosexual-only romantic love to be true. They do not want to face the idea that God may not care who makes love with whom. From their perspective it's OK if what queer people experience is furtive and hollow, but they dare not assume that we can actually experience real ecstasy. That would mean that God approves of our love because God is involved in it. Perhaps that is why the idea of same-sex marriage is so threatening. It shakes many ideas of love and sex to the core.

As long as same-sex couples can be seen as people who do not, or cannot, love in the same way as heterosexual people, we can be discriminated against. If our experiences of love are incomplete we do not need to be treated as fully human. If our relationships were accepted as loving and life affirming, the entire tenor of the debate over same-sex marriage, and queer civil rights in general, would have to change. If the layer of sentimentalism about heterosexual-only romantic love were lifted, it would blow the "God Hates Fags" arguments right out of the water.

The idea that heterosexual-only romantic love comes from God is a key factor in the mind-set of the religious right and those who oppose our right to live our lives freely and openly. This idea makes it possible to objectify us, demonize us and discount our loving relationships. Our love is thought to be of less value because it is thought to be for only furtive pleasure. Opponents of queer rights and same-sex marriage ignore us when we say that our relationships are life-affirming because it is important for them to believe that the Divine is not involved in our relationships. They are wrong about this.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Words, Words

I was listening to a fascinating interview with journalist Hendrik Hertzberg on NPR the other day. Hertzberg served as President Carter's speechwriter for a time and is author of a recent book,  Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004. He was being interviewed about many different areas of interest, but the interview began with a look at the term "liberal" and the "far left."  The author noted that the far left does not exist any longer. The far left was truly alive during the 60's various civil movements and has actually become now the "far right" with the various militias and "people..who blew up Oklahoma City." 
Hertzberg bemoans the demonization of the term "liberal" and bemoans the fact that "progressive" has replaced it, since, for Hertzberg, liberty (the root of liberal) is a better virtue that progress.  He also rightly comments on how "liberal" and "far left" are both inappropriately applied to John Kerry, and, in general, are grossly misused to stir controversy.
Arguably, Kerry strides the liberal fence, although Republicans seeking to villify John Edwards as a liberal clearly have no conception of what the word means. For a North Carolina politician, the man is a bleeding-heart, but on a wide-scale, he's a step away from Republicanism.
Like Hertzberg I've also thought that "liberal" is a weak attempt at an insult. Why do people consider it insulting. People who are truly liberal must shed the label often just to be heard.  Yet conservative retains a positive connotation largely, when conservative politicians have continued to put power and advantage in the hands of large corporations at the expense of working citizens.
Prior to this broadcast, I was struck by a sermon from a local church broadcast on televison. The preacher railed on about the homosexual agenda and how homosexuals were working against traditional marriage. This was no simple country preacher; the man seemed educated and well-spoken.  How then can he, like so many in the Religious Right, draw such a simple distinction between "homosexual" and "Christian."  People use the terms like they are mutually exclusive.  Just as one can be Southern and Catholic, one can be homosexual and Christian. 
Even from a theological perspective, there is no exclusion. Even if homosexuality is viewed in the context of being sin, the gospels boldly proclaim that all people are sinners . How is this one supposed sin worse or different?  Again, words are used thoughtlessly and perhaps purposefully to hurt and divide.
All of which leads up to my most recently fume-inducer. Bill James is the Mecklenberg County Commissioner. (Mecklenberg is the county where Charlotte is located.  I happen to live just outside of the county in Cabarrus County.)   James is a fundamentalist with a mission: define or redefine the county according to his faith. According to the July 7-13 edition of the Charlotte Creative Loafing, James commented that he "[doesn't] know any liberal preachers of note anymore.  the left doesn't seem to have any activist ministers...Liberals in Charlotte have given up...and won't even bring up gay rights.  I don't know if there are any true liberals in Charlotte."
Actually, many liberal voices exist around Charlotte, no matter how James or his allies may try to drown them out.  This mere statement angers me for its complete dismissal of many good men and women who are fighting the good fight in the region.  It's the view of a man who probably sees anyone or anything that disagrees with him as, if not non-existant, inconsequential.
James, who opposes benefits for unmarried couples (gay or straight) and who thankfully failed to pass recently a bill prohibiting gays and lesbians from being foster parents or adopting,  is proud of his attack on a 1997 production of Angels in America at the Charlotte Repetory Theatere.   James proudly and smugly sees himself as the man to "rid society of behavior that is un-Christian and wrong."  He also implies that liberals can't be true Christians because liberals "historically [have] this inability to accept that Christ is the only way to God...Without the anchor of Christianity...they just make it up as they go along."
James's actions and words mark him as the mean and stupid individual that he is.  Clearly ignorant of anything outside his own world-view, he lacks the meekness, compassion and humility that Christ exhibited in His ministry.  Still, they are but words from a small man and, as they say," sticks and stones". 


Voters in the Hands of an Angry GOP

Bush continues to try and sell the line that a few special individuals (like, say, the same ones  who put him in office) are trying to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that hasn't changed for hundreds if not thousands of years. I find it interesting that Bushie wants to maintain and/or establish an enduring definition of  marriage.
The Constitution was established to be able to adapt to the needs and demands of the times and people. Many religious texts, the Bible included, are understood differently given societal changes and advancements. Shakespeare, for example, while rooted firmly in his time, has themes, situations, and characters that are so universal, they are easily enjoyed and understood by modern audiences or are readapted with modern dressings.

If a society or a people want to redefine marriage, they should be able to. I find it interesting that although the Bible explicitedly prohibits women from being church leaders or even speaking in church, many evangelical leaders and ministers are women today. Why? We have different cultural understandings and values. Sounds a little hypocritical doesn't it to ignore or reinterpret one part and not another?

I'm tired of this slippery slope argument that says gay marriage leads to cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Society always has the right to draw a line in the sand. We can say two men marrying is fine, but marrying your sister or daughter is not. Laws are a negotiation among different people for a common understanding. We may think one thing is fine, but not another. People said the EXACT SAME THINGS about interracial marriage. I don't think Rome is burning quite yet.

As for Bush, regardless of his belief, he is using this issue as a way to solidfy his base of the Religious Right and other conservatives. It's disgusting. He's playing with my citizenship and making a statement about my worth as a human being and American citizenship for political gain. I loathe the chimp that is Bush.

Do you want an American theocracy? Then vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA).

If this amendment were to be ratified, this would only encourage and fortify the position and power of the Religious Right. Already the false idol of the Republican party, this movement will not be satisfied with making homosexuals second-class citizens. 

Fundamentialist continue to define our great nation in the image they think is morally correct. I'm trying to avoid a slippery slope argument here, but it is not too hard to see that we could easily be headed for even more breakdown between state and religion.  Recently on Charlotte public access, I heard a conservative minister extolling the virtues of Christians becoming involved in politics. Indeed, this is one of the few points I agreed on with the man. People of all religions, as a matter of fact, should be encouraged to run for public office.  Mostly because if only Fundamentialist run, they will continue a clear agenda for setting the moral code by their faith.
Fundamentalists seem to completely miss the point of the Christian faith. The whole gospel, indeed the entire message of the Bible, is about people choosing God.  God never imposes Himself on people.  Yet, Fundamentalists seek to remove the choice that is our God-given right.  As an aside, I find it interesting to note that most Fundamentalists are economically conservative,  cutting money to charitable organizations. I personally think that Christianity, taken to its logical extreme, leads to a very socialistic society.  In any event, Fundamentalists labor under the delusion that they are, at any moment, about to be thrown to the lions for the hedonist secular throng. So, apparently, their tactics is to turn the lions loose on the public (or worse, try to invoke God to divinely punish the great unwashed masses).
Secondly, Fundamentalists assert that they are returning us to our great Christian foundation as a country. Much has been written and debated on this subject, and I don't have the time, length, or energy to get into it here, but a quick perusal of information on this matter leads to the conclusion that while some of the founding fathers were Christian, many were not.  Most certainly weren't the raving evangelicals we know today. 
Regardless of their religious faith, this country was established with the promise of freedom of a state-imposed religion. Part of the creation of this country was for the exercise of whatever religion you wanted to. Trying to re-create a "Christian" nation is wrong both theologically, morally, and historically.  Yet, under the guise of persecution, Fundamentalists seek to create a theocratic society. And we all see how well theocracy works in the middle East.  You think Calvin Klein will be excited to design burkas for the modern working woman? Oops, wait, she can't work.  Never mind.
Despite what the Religious Right tells us, I don't feel like God is dangling us over the flames of hell like a spider over a fire  so much as we are dangling over a fire created by these zealots. A fire probably created by book burning and the destruction of our Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

All Signs Point to "Maybe"

Well, the FMA has been delayed for now by the failure to pass cloture in the Senate. I've been trying to fully understand the ramifications of the vote. At one point I heard that Republicans were actually filibustering their own bill, trying to buy time to raise more "yes" votes. Some politicians felt this would actually work against them, losing more votes, so it seems Republicans moved for an end of discussion, or cloture.

The failure to pass cloture means that debate can continue indefinitely on the bill, although C-SPAN notes that it means the bill is usually just set aside. So, many are calling this a victory. Certainly from the perspective that 50 "Nay" votes is 19 less votes than needed to pass a full amendment in the Senate, we have a victory. However, this was a procedural vote largely. So, in some respects, it was easy to vote against ending discussion. Legislators can easily still say they oppose the amendment, but feel like more discussion is needed before passing a Constitutional Amendment.

I feel somewhat badly because I only tried twice to contact my Senators and when the lines were busy did not try again. I feel less bad because my two Senators are Elizabeth Dole and John Edwards. Libby (R - in case you're living under a rock) was not going to be swayed. I understand why Bob needs viagra with her around the house. And, John, well John didn't vote. Neither did Kerry.

According to the Washington Post the two of them would have voted if they were needed, but with a clear win apparent, they abstained. This doesn't cut it with me. They just didn't want to be seen taking a stand for political reasons. And so they avoided the bullet. Still, they're better than the alternative, Mr. "I'm disappointed, but keep on bashin' those gays" Bush.

On a side note, both Senators from my previous home state of Georgia voted to invoke cloture, presumably in favor of the amendment. If I were still there, I would actively campaign to get Zell Miller, the Democratic Senator, out of office as soon as I could.

And after all is said and done, wouldn't have passing cloture been a good thing? Politically it is advantageous for Senators running for re-election. They can say they don't support gay marriage, but feel like we need to think about a big step like this. But, if cloture had passed, then they could have voted and, presumably, defeated the Amendment. Am I misunderstanding this? Wouldn't this have been the true victory?

Still, I'll take it however I can get it. It's an encouraging sign, but just the start of the long haul. Things, I suspect, will get worse before they get better. Nonetheless, I'm cautiously optimistic and see this as certainly a good thing. I'm just don't see us in the winner's circle quite yet.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Is it genetic?

A friend sent this to me; don't know where it originates from, but found it fairly amusing...

The discovery that affiliation with the Republican Party is genetically determined was announced by scientists in the current issue of the journal NURTURE, causing uproar among traditionalists who believe it is a chosen lifestyle.
Reports of the gene coding for political conservatism, discovered after a decades-long study of quintuplets in Orange County, CA, has sent shock waves through the medical, political, and golfing communities.
Psychologists and psychoanalysts have long believed that Republicans'
unnatural disregard for the poor and frequently unconstitutional tendencies resulted from dysfunctional family dynamics.
A remarkably high percentage of Republicans do have authoritarian domineering fathers and emotionally distant mothers who didn't teach them how to be kind and gentle. Nonetheless, biologists have long suspected that conservatism is inherited.
"After all," said one author of the NURTURE article, "It's quite common for a Republican to have a brother or sister who is a Republican." The finding has been greeted with relief by Parents and Friends of Republicans (PFREP), who sometimes blame themselves for the political views of otherwise lovable children, family, and unindicted co- conspirators.
One mother, a longtime Democrat, wept and clapped her hands in ecstasy on hearing of the findings. "I just knew it was genetic," she said, seated with her two sons, both avowed Republicans. "My boys would never freely choose that lifestyle!" When asked what the Republican lifestyle was, she said, "You can just tell watching their conventions in Houston and San Diego on TV: the flaming xenophobia, flamboyant demagogy, disdain for anyone not rich - you know."
Both sons had suspected their Republicanism from an early age but did not confirm it until they were in college, when they became convinced it wasn't just a phase they were going through and "came out".
The NURTURE article offered no response to the suggestion that the high incidence of Republicanism among siblings could result from their sharing not only genes but also psychological and emotional attitude as products of the same parents and family dynamics.
A remaining mystery is why many Democrats admit to having voted Republican at least once -- or often dream or fantasize about doing so. Polls show that three out of five adult Democrats have had a Republican experience, although most outgrow teenage experimentation with Republicanism.
Some Republicans hail the findings as a step toward eliminating conservophobia. They argue that since Republicans didn't "choose" their lifestyle any more Than someone "chooses" to have a Roman nose, they shouldn't be denied civil rights which other minorities enjoy.
If conservatism is not the result of stinginess or orneriness (typical stereotypes attributed to Republicans) but is something Republicans can't help, there's no reason why society shouldn't tolerate Republicans in the military or even high elected office -- provided of course that they don't flaunt their political beliefs.
For many Americans, the discovery opens a window on a different future. In a few years, gene therapy might eradicate Republicanism altogether.
But should they be allowed to marry?

Monday, July 12, 2004

Why FMA?

The Great Uniter of our nation said this past February that "The union of a man and a woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith." This week the Senate is debating the Federal Marriage Amendment to see if marriage can "be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society," as the President believes it cannot. This debate is being carried out for the sole purpose of forcing a vote during an election year. This is a tactic of the proponents of the amendment.

The President, an expert on historical and international affairs further commented earlier this year that, "After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization," Definitely the expert on confusion, our President further stated that "their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity."

I agree this is an issue of much confusion. Let me provide a little clarity. Since many of the proponents of the FMA point to the emphasis the Bible puts on family and traditional marriage, and argue that gay marriage would certainly undermine these great institutions, I thought I would investigate what the Bible has to say about this great institution.

Now, mind you, the following is a strict literalist interpretation of the Bible, which is just as most evangelicals would have it. No need to be throwing confusing details like historical context or linguistic nuances in there.

We start off with a very cheerful passage in Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure... Although perhaps if we should all honor marriage, then we should let gay people marry. I know, I know, I'm being silly.

But other passages paint a very different view of the great institution of marriage.
Paul the Apostle, who causes most Baptists to just salivate with Pavlovian glee upon mention of his name, isn't so keen on the idea of marriage.

I Corinthians 7:1 It is good for a man not to marry
7:8-9 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. / But if they cannot control themseles, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Sure, Paul ends up saying, "go ahead and marry," but it's just so you won't have sex outside of wedlock. That's a fairy-tale wedding come true. Get married so you can get knocked up.

That house with a dog, and a kid, and a white picket fence? Forget it. Paul makes it clear later on, (v. 28) But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

Why is Paul so down on marriage? Verse 33-34 explains it, a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world - how he can please his wife - /and his interests are divided [between this and God]. Paul just wants us to live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (v 35)

And apparently Paul isn't so far out on a limb here. Jesus said it first in Matthew 19:9-11 [Jesus replied,] "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." / The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." / Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given."

Romans 7:3 also emphasizes that if you divorce while your spouse is still alive, and you re-marry, you are commiting adultery. Why aren't we passing an Adultery Marriage Amendment?

Ultimately, though, I guess marriage isn't all that important to God. Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage. The ties that bind apparently are truly until death do you part. God doesn't do windows nor weddings.

Oh, and for all of you with mail-order brides or wives from another country, repent sinners: You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel's guilt. ...Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and your foreign wives.Ezra 10:10

So, why bother with the FMA? If these Bible passages are to be believed, God doesn't seem to be all gung-ho over marriage. I guess if we're saying we value it now, then the institution has changed over millenia. Or maybe Dubya is calling God a liar.

Come to think of it, if wedding is about all of this, why don't we let them pass it?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

All We Need is Love

June 26 was Gay Pride in Atlanta and San Francisco. There was no way to get to San Fran (although some day I would love to experience Pride there), and Atlanta was on the list. I hadn't been in a few years and thought it would be fun to return.

But I did something better. I celebrated Pride with my partner at a celebration of two women's love for each other. We went to the ten year celebration of our friends Anne and Leslie, joining in recognition of their commitment with friends and family of theirs.

Clearly, the sanctity of marriage is highly threatened. I think straight people are probably just jealous that their ceremonies aren't as much fun or don't have nearly as fabulous food.

Good food, good drink, and good times were all had. And not a mullet or flannel shirt to be found anywhere. I think the most touching moment for me was when the father of one the women toasted them, stating he was happy to have gained two daughters.

May every parent realize they stand to gain two daughters or two sons; may people everywhere realize they stand to gain two friends or two church members or two bingo players or two neighbors with fabulous taste or the ability to fix your sink. May everyone realize that they only stand to gain more love in the world.

Auntie Em, it's a twister, it's a twister!

Keith, thanks for the kind words.

Never fear, I shall not disappoint my entire readership of what, three, at most? No, the blogging continues despite the whirlwind of changes, most good, one bad, that have happened in a two week span.

About three weeks ago, my partner, Peter, who lives in Atlanta, found out his apartment complex was going to be destroyed to make way for assisted living housing. His lease runs out in August, so he decide that this was a pretty good sign from God that it was time to make to move up with me in Charlotte. We had planned on this eventually, but not for another year.

Since he's working on his doctorate, he has been unemployed other than a graduate assistantship. The weekend of June 26, lesbian friends of ours celebrated their 10th anniversary together. Peter came up for that event and thought he would stay through July 5 so we could look for a bigger apartment than the one I have now for the both of us. (Conveniently, my lease expires in August also).

No apartment complex really struck us as quite the right fit. We settled on one, only to feel like it was not the best choice for us, and then pulled the application. We ended up almost buying a house, but, in the nick of time, realized we were not ready for that step, particulary given Peter's unemployment and the fact that we had no idea what we are doing. (As an aside, we now have a great book "100 Questions Every First Time Home Buyer Should Ask" to help us when we are ready - I'm strongly recommend it.)

During this time, the technology person for my department quit after working six days. And before you know it, Peter has a job replacing this guy! Simply amazing!

We also seem to have located the nicest townhouse to rent. We're still waiting for everything to be finalized, but it's looking good. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Hopefully by Monday we will know. If we get it, it'll be a perfect place for us.

Karma is a bitch, however, and this is no exception. My parents received some unfortunate news this week that was shocking. I will not get into it here, other than to say that my parents have been completely wronged by small-minded (and probably small-endowed) selfish scared little men.

So, my life has been a rollercoaster that is not slowing down. Not only does the emotional peaks and valleys continue, but physical hills still exist. One of the busiest times of the year for my job is upon me in three weeks and we are planning on moving by the end of July because there's no better time before the end of August with our multiple obligations.

So, the blog may be slow for a bit while my life is slowing rearranging itself. But I look at it like this, once we land, there'll be no place like home.