Thursday, June 26, 2008

Very Important Updates!

Check out the latest Carnival of Feminists, where my article on the WNBA's make-up lessons appears, for some fun feminist readings.

Lesbian? Have a thing for ladies in uniforms? Check out my latest Stuff Lesbians Like.

Some call my writing "attention-seeking." I call it writing articles that people actually read.


"Female Homosexual Behavior" Misinformation

Recently, I came across a rather odd "education" piece put out by a group called the Catholic Education Resource Group. Written by a doctor, who claims that "when something is harmful, such as smoking, overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, and homosexual sex, it is my duty to discourage it," I have to admit the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Oh boy, I thought, another public health "ally."

Let's dive right into the (mis)information, shall we?

As so many anti-gays merely discuss the eveelness of gay male sex, I have to at least give this site props for remembering that lesbians are gay people too. Unfortunately, the good doctor acknowledges lesbos by presenting a laundry list of deceiving claims about lesbian health. (Yes, the entire article is a hot mess of misinformation about gay men too, but for purposes of this article I'm going to focus on lesbian health.)

See, this article is odd because while the general tone of the article is that being a lesbian is bad because of the whole having sex with women bit, the article also states that "study after study documents that the overwhelming majority of self-described lesbians have had sex with men." That should be a good thing, right? Not so much. You see, when lesbians have sex with men, they're sort of slutty about it. For, "not only did lesbians commonly have sex with men, but with lots of men. They were 4.5 times as likely as exclusively heterosexual controls to have had more than 50 lifetime male sex partners."

Alrighteeee then.

That's certainly a surprising claim! Thus, curiosity got the best of me and I delved into the referenced study that supposedly found that lesbians were more likely than heterosexual women to have lots of man sex, and I found some interesting tidbits. Tidbits like the following that interestingly, yet not surprisingly, went unmentioned in the Catholic Education [sic] piece:

1. The study compared all women with any history of ever having had sex with another women to women who reported never having had sex with a woman.

Rather than asking women in the study if they were lesbians, bisexual, heterosexual or other, the study asked the women if they have ever had sex with another woman in their life. Such a comparison is not the same as a comparison between lesbians and heterosexual women. For, any woman who has ever had sex with a woman in her life is not automatically a "lesbian." I mean, if we're just looking at sexual behavior, we could just as easily label the women in this study who've had sex with a woman before as "bisexual" or "heterosexual" if she also has had sex with a man. Yet, for purposes of his article, the doctor here "reports" that women who have had sex with women are "lesbians."

But perhaps more problematic than this issue, is the matter of where these "lesbians" and "heterosexuals" were found...

2. All participants were taken from a public sexually-transmitted-disease/HIV clinic.

Yes, that's right. A public health STD/HIV clinic in which all patients present with symptoms of STDs. Such a sample is, of course, hardly representative. I mean, do I even have to say why? Yes? Okay. Many lesbians do not receive care at public health clinics nor do all lesbians receive care at STD/HIV clinics. In fact, as I'm sure the public health "ally" who wrote this article is well-aware, the risk of female-female transmission of STDs/HIV is considerably lower than that of male-female or male-male transmission.

Yet, he discusses finding after finding from this study making claims like "[l]esbians [sic] were three to four times more likely than heterosexual women to have sex with men who were high-risk for HIV disease-homosexual, bisexual, or IV drug-abusing men." Such a statement distorts the original study- which made no claims about "lesbian" women in general. Considering the very non-representative sample from this study, an honest and accurate statement about the findings should always include clear language that its findings do not apply to "lesbians" as a group but rather STD/HIV clinic patients who have had sex with a woman at some point in their lives.

3. The study also noted that 7% of women had sex with women "exclusively."

Considering the fact that only 7% of women presenting for treatment at an STD/HIV clinic exclusively had sex with lesbians speaks to the fact that female-female sexual behavior is much less risky in terms of STD/HIV transmission than is female-male or male-male sexual behavior. Yet, in his analysis, the author did not separate sexually exclusive women ("lesbians"?) from women who had sex with men and women ("bisexuals"?). It would be extremely interesting to tease out the differences in STD rate and other variables among "exclusive" and "non-exclusive" women.

Thus, when the author of this Catholic Education Resource Center piece states that "lesbians" are more likely than heterosexual women to have had more than 50 male sex partners what he really means is that a study found that women who presented at a public STD/HIV clinic with one or more STDs who have also had sex with women at any point in their lives were more likely to have had sex with lots of men than were women who have never had sex with women.

Neat. But that is a far cry from the claim that the class of people who are "lesbians" are more likely to have had many male sex partners. In fact, it should definitely be noted that the researchers in this study never attempt to define "lesbian" and, in fact, only once in the text of the study do the authors mention "lesbians" at all (and yes, "lesbian" is in quotes if that tells you anything at all).

What do I think this study "means"?

People who have lots of sex are more likely not to discriminate on the basis of gender when it comes to who they have sex with. And, pretty much all this study is telling us in any real sense is that people who present at STD clinics have lots of risk factors for STDs. Hmm, ya think?

If there's one thing I have little patience for, it's public health misinformation used to promote political agendas. This study has severe limitations that have already been used to spread anti-lesbian health misinformation under the guise of "education" and public health concern.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Article Review: "The Harm of Same-Sex Marriage: Real or Imagined"

I recently came across a particularly articulate law review article discussing same-sex marriage. Authored by law professor Robert Lipkin and entitled "The Harm of Same-Sex Marriage: Real or Imagined," I encourage those on any side of this debate to read Mr. Lipkin's fair-minded approach to the issue.

In it, he makes several salient points:

1. "What is the definition marriage?" is the wrong question

Although marriage defenders usually present their definition of marriage as though it is a universal statement of fact, the reality in which we as a society operate is such that "no single, uncontested definition of marriage exists." Therefore, as Lipkin states,

"Rather than arguing about what the definition [of marriage] is or what the practice has been, candor suggests going directly to the heart of the controversy: Should marriage include same-sex couples?"

The problem with debates as to what the definition of marriage is, to borrow some of the author's terms, is that those on both sides of the debate define marriage as that which they believe it should be while stating the definition as though it describes what marriage actually is. For instance, marriage defenders insist that marriage is some variation of the "one man and one woman" definition while marriage equality advocates insist that marriage is some variation of the "two people who love each other" definition. We quickly run into debate futility when those on both sides present their definition of marriage as though it is The Universal Definition of Marriage and, therefore, the matter is settled in their favor.

I have pointed this out numerous times in arguing with so-called marriage defenders. Their responses, usually consisting of circular arguments like "marriage demands a man and a woman because only a man and a woman can get married" and/or vague meaningless soundbites like "you can't defend what you can't define," have indicated that the point goes completely over their heads. Rather than articulating the actual harm that would be caused by allowing same-sex couples to marry, perhaps because they are unable to do so, they instead re-iterate "buuuuut marriage is between a man and a woman." Unfortunately, far too many marriage defenders are unable to see the circularity of their arguments.

Don't tell me what (you think) marriage is. On that, we obviously do not and will not agree. Tell me the reasons why same-sex couples should or should not be allowed to marry. I can concede that in most US states, marriage is legal only between a man and a woman and, therefore, the definition of marriage in many states is "one man and one woman." But at the same time, as one of Lipkin's David Hume-quoting footnotes reminds us, "'is' does not imply 'ought' and even if the current meaning of marriage is heterosexual exclusively, that tells us little about 'how marriage ought to be understood.'"

2. Is Change Necessarily Bad?

One particularly interesting discussion within Lipkin's article centers around questioning whether allowing same-sex couples to marry would constitute an actual change to the institution of marriage and, if so, whether such change would necessarily cause harm.

"Change is an inefficient conceptual tool because it is so easy to consider all change as radical change. Indeed, it is not uncommon for some to insist that almost any change from the status quo is ipso facto a radical change involving the elimination of the social practice."

Supporting this statement, Lipkin cites Justice Scalia's rather hyperbolic dissent in the US Supreme Court case allowing women to attend the Virginia Military Institute. In his dissent, Scalia wrote that integrating women into this military school "shuts down" the entire institution. Lipkin suggests that what Scalia really meant as that limiting VMI's enrollment to males only was an essential feature of the institution and, therefore, opening enrollment to women eliminated this essential feature.

As an interesting aside, the VMI debate went to the heart of another definitional "quagmire": Does male-only education define VMI or does military training define VMI? Those were the essential definitional arguments presented in the VMI debate. In the face of both sides presenting such arguments, the more relevant question instead was this: In terms of harms and benefits, what are the reasons for and against admitting women to VMI?

Furthermore, and perhaps the most important piece of Lipkin's analysis, "We need concrete answers, if available, to the question of why changing the application of a term [to include same-sex couples] changes the defining characteristics of that term, and why changing the application of a term is necessarily bad." In other words, we need less abstract predictions as to how marriage will be "deconstructed" or "redefined" and more evidence or arguments as to why such a redefinition would be a bad thing. Change, of course, does not necessarily cause harm.

3. The Harm

I believe that it is possible for some people to oppose same-sex marriage without automatically being homo-bigots. While I also believe a strong correlation exists between bigotry and opposition to same-sex marriage, I can concede that some people may oppose same-sex marriage because they genuinely believe that the harm that would result from allowing same-sex couples to marry would be greater than the benefits. I, of course, don't agree with such an analysis, but I can agree that such a person does not necessarily hate gay people. David Blankenhorn, whose book I reviewed here, is one such person who may be conscientiously opposed to same-sex marriage. I find his reasoning problematic, but he at least engages the issue respectfully. At the same time, I have yet to find many pro and amateur marriage defenders of whom I can say the same. Whether due to their blatant bigotry, mis-use of research studies, and/or general vilification of gay people, their writings indicate that a large part of their opposition to marriage equality is based on their dislike of gay people or their belief that gay men and lesbians have deep moral failings.

But alas, even though we are rarely shown the same respect in return, I agree with Lipkin that, "in fairness and respect for those conscientiously opposed to same-sex marriage, we should try to identify the nature of the harm they seek to avoid."

While Lipkin doesn't discuss every single harm that marriage defenders predict, he does discuss a key predicted harm- that allowing same-sex couples to marry would offend those who believe that the essential nature of marriage is that it includes one man and one woman:

"The public environment constantly affects us by exposing our normative environments to conduct and attitudes of which we sometimes disapprove strenuously. Accordingly, disfavored attitudes and conduct in the public environment threaten our own normative environment in the sense that they make it more difficult for us to preserve its integrity and character. ...

Since our normative environment and the public environment consist of the choices we are permitted to make, those who oppose same-sex marriage want to eliminate from our normative environment the possibility of such a choice. Here it does no good to tell these opponents, 'so don’t enter a same sex marriage yourself,' because it is precisely the possibility of others entering into such marriages that is a loss for them. In their view, marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman, and anything else is a threat to, and makes a mockery of, a hallowed institution."

To many marriage defenders, perhaps the most essential feature of marriage is a one-woman one-man nature of it. Allowing the possibility of two people of the same-sex to marry debases the integrity of what marriage is to them. I can concede that that is a harm. Yet, because I believe that same-sex couples ought to be allowed to marry does not automatically mean that I am insensitive to this harm. Rather, I would tend to agree with Lipkin's argument:

"Democratic societies committed to liberty and equality cannot countenance this kind of harm as the basis of legal
prohibitions. In a democratic society, excluding individuals from traditional social practices and institutions is justified only when inclusion harms the traditional practice or the individuals participating in the traditional practice. However, this
harm must eliminate the practice entirely, or prevent those who value the practice from being able to engage in it."

In other words, that allowing same-sex couples to marry would devalue marriage in the eyes of those who believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman is not sufficient harm to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. Not only does the inclusion of same-sex couples neither eliminate marriage nor prevent heterosexuals from marrying, but every important change in our society has "harmed" the "normative environments" of those opposed to the change. Part of living in a democratic society, after all, is learning to to "deal with the harm to his or her normative environments inflicted by others seeking to flourish according to their own normative environments."

The ideals that we as a society supposedly value are tolerance, plurality, and equality. Yet, these values aren't free. We pay for them by having to tolerate actions, practices, and choices that we do not agree with. At its core, then, the marriage debate is really a choice we are making about the values we want our society to embody. Are we okay with intolerance, conformity, and inequality?

Perhaps someday we will want to embody tolerance, plurality, and equality rather than just saying we do.

Monday, June 23, 2008

H Hall of Shame: On Opportunistically Using Our Soldiers

Whenever those opposed to gay rights begin randomly talking about our Brave Soldiers Fighting For Our Freedom (tm), I have to admit that the hairs on my neck stand up. Also, it cues me to think of Fred Phelps and his reprehensible message that "God hate fags" and, because (some) of America accepts fags, then God also hates America.

Thankfully, Phelps, a bona fide member of the asinine for attention club, isn't taken very seriously by pretty much anyone anymore. In fact, I give props to Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality for calling Phelps out on his asininity:

"Phelps is an opportunist who is now using the funeral services of our heroic American soldiers to promote his twisted messages that 'God Hates Fags' and 'God Hates America.'"

Indeedely doodely!

It is quite necessary for bigots who want to be taken seriously to distance themselves from Phelps as much as possible. Unfortunately, and what puts LaBarbera in my Hypocrisy Hall of Shame, LaBarbera couldn't resist sort of doing what he denounced Phelps for doing. See, although Peter runs a single-issue group dedicated to opposing the "homosexual agenda" he found it fitting to remind us all, on his group's website, to honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. It's an admirable goal, to be sure. But, unsurprisingly, LaBarbera's message quickly became less about the troops and more about advancing his politics. Alas, after reminding us to honor our brave soldiers, where a non-opportunist would have ended his message, Pete continues:

"The Western Left is wrong and cruel to assert that [deceased soldier used to advance Pete's agenda] and thousands like him died in vain — even as they agitate to effect an abrupt pullout of American power from Iraq which, like it did in Vietnam, could lead to mass slaughter and despotism."

Yes, we know. "Leftists" and those who want this war to end are unpatriotic, un-American, hate our soldiers, and probably eat puppies. Yawn.

See, Pete's quote is just him being an opportunist who is using a day meant to honor the men and women in uniform to promote his political agenda of opposing "The Western Left." (Whatever that is).


Friday, June 20, 2008

New Entry for Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks?

Even though same-sex couples are now legally permitted to marry in California, that legal fact doesn't stop some marriage defenders from using excessive unnecessary quotations marks to cast suspicion on the legitimacy of same-sex relationships. Like stubborn segregationists blocking access to white schools, they fail to concede a loss when they have, in fact, lost. Scare quotes, or more accurately "sneer quotes," are non-direct quotations used to indicate scorn, sarcasm, and/or disagreement with another person's usage of a word.

Let's observe propaganda machine LifeSiteNews go out of its way to tell one married couple that what they have isn't real. Ridiculing Del Martin and Phyllis Lion, who are finally legally married after 50 years together, LifeSite contributor Peter J. Smith writes:

"Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco who led the charge to persuade the high court to tear down the most fundamental institution behind the family, 'married' lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon, 84, and her partner Del Martin, 87, in a special ceremony at City Hall. Lyon and Martin were the first same-sex couple 'wed' under the court-mandated law.

Participants could hardly hold back the tears for Lyon and Martin, whom Newsom lauded as 'pioneers' for homosexual 'marriage.' The Los Angeles Times reveals that the 'newlyweds' relationship began 50 years ago in this way: Martin revealed to Lyon, her friend and co-worker at the time, that she had lesbian tendencies."

Wow. Well done Peter. That's like 5 uses of unnecessary quotation marks within a mere few sentences. Surely that's some sort of record! In fact, wouldn't it be fun to have a little Find the Most Unnecessary "Gay 'Marriage'-Related" Quotations on the web?! Let's contact the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks now!

But seriously, I've written about this phenomenon before. Specifically, scare quotes are a way for dominant groups to inform us that they own the ability to label people and experiences. It's something anti-gay groups do that tells us, as non-heterosexuals, that our experiences in the world are not valid or legitimate. Our experiences, our families, and our relationships belong between quotation marks because they aren't as real as the heterosexual experience. In their arrogance, these bigots wrongly believe that they hold a monopoly on The Authentic and Legitimate Human Experience.

Oh, and what kind of person is a dick to women in their 80's?

Family values are fun.

"Deep" Thought #18: "I Kissed a Girl" Is Kinda Lesbian

You have to at least appreciate fundamentalists for their keen ability to pick up on subtleties. In a recent article on conservative news source OneNewsNow, writer Charlie Butts writes of the popular Katy Perry song "I Kissed a Girl":

"Top 40 rock stations are playing a song by an upcoming star that has lesbian undertones."

Were it not for Mr. Butts' sharp ability to pick up on the so very subdued lesbionic meaning of a woman singing "I Kissed a Girl," and repeating the lyric "I kissed a girl and I liked it" a total of 6 times, it is quite possible that a generation of impressionable young girls would unknowingly latch onto this super-covert hidden message telling them that lesbian experimentation is okay.

Now we all know.

Thank you Mr. Butts for being on top of the situation. Everyone, "I Kissed a Girl" has lesbian "undertones." Deep thoughts.

Also notable is that the article ends with a quote from a Concerned Woman for America who paraphrases the Bible:

"Stolen bread tastes sweet, but it turns to gravel in the mouth."

Wait, wait a minute.


Thought so. My senses are picking up undertones of a complete non-sequitur-WTF-are-you-talking-about here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Sort of Like the Crusades All Over Again!

A group calling itself the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property has taken put up a very long advertisement in major newspapers opposing the right of same-sex couples to marry. In true hyperbolic overstating-their-case fashion, this group scarily writes:

"[T]he battle for marriage in America is the clash of two worldviews. On the one hand, those Americans who still defend a moral law. On the other, the homosexual revolution and its secularist allies. The stakes are also clear. This is a battle for the soul of America. The so-called Cultural War is gradually becoming a Religious War."

Yeah yeah yeah. God would probably hate it if we just framed this all as a disagreement rather than all-out war and clash between good and evil.

Read the whole she-bang if you like, but if that scary warning didn't automatically discredit it for you, I can save you a lot of time by merely reading you the first tenet of this "document": "The Acceptance of Same-Sex 'Marriage' [sic] is Incompatible with Christianity." See, in order for such an argument to be legitimate, it is necessary for us all to accept the premise that our laws should be in accordance with "Christianity." The problem with such a premise, of course, is that while many people in our nation are Christians, many people are not. But more importantly, as much as one conservative Catholic group believes it knows the inerrant word of our Supreme Being, that doesn't make it so. I know I'm not the only one in this world who has difficulty believing that the Supreme Being would be coincidentally as imbued with human bigotry as the leaders and followers of some religious sects are.

I'm not opposed to Christianity. I'm opposed to those who use Christianity not to transcend their human flaws but to justify them. Show me a god that has not been created in the image of "man" and then we can have a serious discussion as to whether "he's" worthy of devotion.

As a fun argumentum ad nazium alert, this group's advertisement also irrelevantly says:

"History is a great teacher. In the twentieth century, Nazism and communism showed the world that, when society loses its moorings in the natural order and gives itself over to utopias, the inevitable result is dictatorship. This dictatorship can take many forms and be exercised from the halls of government, party headquarters, judicial chambers, or media outlets."


I'm sure vigilantly defending tradition, family, and property is super-serious business but let's try to get a grip, fellas.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

About That "Gay Community"

In making my usual rounds at various marriage defense sites, I came across some links and citations to the arguments of marriage defender David Benkof. According to his website, Benkof is "openly bisexual" and opposes marriage equality. After perusing some of his archives, I found that I agree with him on some issues and appreciate his willingness to at least search for common ground on others.

That being said, there is much to take issue with in many of his arguments. Today I am going to critique one article of his that I've seen cited a few times in the marriage defense blogosphere. I take issue with it mostly because his arguments don't accurately reflect the "gay community" that many of us know and because it is illustrative of the larger purpose of his blog: "...getting the gay leadership to return to more pressing LGBT issues for our community." Such a statement is profoundly problematic on several levels, which I will explain below.

But first, he begins the article (titled "Protecting the most vulnerable LGBT people") by claiming that "many American communities - such as the Catholic community, the Jewish community, and the African-American community - put a lot of resources behind helping the worst-off people with those doesn't work that way in the LGBT community." Rather, the "gay community's" top priority is marriage, which comes at the expense of more important issues. Supporting this claim as to what "the gay community's" alleged top priority is, is a juxtaposition of the high rates of HIV/AIDS among gay men with a claim that the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) website allegedly references "marriage" 5 times more than it mentions "AIDS."

His proposal to "fix" this "problem" is for "gay and lesbian organizations [to] cut their 'marriage budgets' in half, and spend the leftover money and staff time working on issues that affect LGBT people who are poor, sick, of color, immigrants, in prison, and otherwise in dire straits, thereby ignoring the irrelevant fact that such people are unlikely to ever be able to afford to go to $275-a-plate dinners at fancy hotels where people wear tuxedos and bid on lavish trips in silent auctions." Remember this in a couple of minutes.

Now, I certainly agree with Benkof that our community is affected by issues other than marriage equality. There is not exactly a shortage of injustices perpetuated on our community. But to say that we- gay people- are different from other minority groups because we don't help the "worst-off" among us is unbelievably inaccurate. Benkof issued a challenge stating that he would "love" to hear a defender of the "gay community's current priorities" take on his proposal. My intent here is not to play that game. Rather, as Mr. Benkof's arguments as to what the "gay community" and its alleged "leadership" is and currently is doing are inaccurate, I hope mostly to correct.

1. The LGBT Community is not Monolithic

First off, the LGBT "community" is far from monolithic as I'm sure this bisexual marriage defender knows very well. Much has been made of Benkof's alleged statuses as "bisexual" or "non-practicing homosexual" or "ex-gay." Yawn. I care less about what labels people use to describe themselves and more about what they're arguing and how they use their labels to advance different agendas. But yeah, we get it. Marriage defense blogs love to cite pretty much anyone claiming to be a member of the LGBT community who opposes same-sex marriage. I suppose they believe it gives their anti-gay arguments more "credibility"- sort of like how conservative groups love citing African-Americans who oppose affirmative-action. Snore. Don't tell me who or what you are, tell me what you believe and why.

See, what this diversity in our community means is that there is no uniformity of thought, priorities, or beliefs among gay people or "gay" organizations. If someone could point me to the one and only authoritative organization responsible for setting out the "gay community's current priorities" I would be happy to read it. Although, I can't make any promises about shifting my priorities accordingly. While Benkof cites HRC (calling it the "nation's biggest gay political organization"), I suppose I missed the memo explaining that HRC was the only "gay" organization that mattered or was doing work for the "gay community." I suppose I also missed the gay election where we voted HRC into a position of "gay leadership."

In reality, LGBT organizations are quite numerous, have varying missions, and have different priorities from each other. Sometimes, they even disagree with one another.

2. What is the "Gay Community" Doing?

When Benkof claims that the website of the Human Rights Campaign discusses "marriage" five times more than it mentions "AIDS" and concludes from that statistic that the "the epidemic has been de-emphasized by the gay community," or when he claims that "gay leaders" are too busy worrying about marriage than they are about other "more important issues," let's all take a step back and remember that LGBT organizations other than the Human Rights Campaign exist.

A quick internet search of one's own, in fact, allows one to rattle off a list of many quite prominent LGBT organizations that are dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the LGBT community specifically. While the budget of HRC hovers around $24 million per year, the budgets of most of these other organizations are comparable, if not larger, than that. Combined, these gay organizations are dedicating much, much more money towards health care and other non-marriage issues than HRC is dedicating to marriage equality. (These nonprofit organizations have Annual Reports and Form 990s that are available for public viewing detailing their budgets. I refer anyone to those for specifics on what the "gay community" is doing for some of its "most vulnerable.")

See, only analyzing what the "gay community" is doing by observing what HRC and the other mysteriously unnamed "large organizations" that Benkof "cites" is quite an omission. Major portions of the budgets of the above health-focused "gay" organizations that I have cited go towards providing medical care, behavioral health services, case management, and prevention efforts for people living with HIV/AIDS or at-risk for acquiring the disease and go towards other health issues our community faces. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to see these organizations talk much about marriage at all.

I am curious as to why Benkof fails to acknowledge all of these other organizations and the good work that they are doing for the less fortunate members of the "gay community." I mean, seriously, I could go on with non-HRC organizations...

In addition to these health-specific LGBT organizations, we have organizations dedicated to immigration rights, family rights, international human rights, discrimination in the military, transgender advocacy, and more. And, while racial/ethnic minorities are represented in the above groups, the "gay community" also includes the numerous organizations existing specifically for LGBT persons of color.

Do none of these organizations matter since they are not HRC? I encourage Mr. Benkof, and anyone who believes in his inaccurate generalizations about the "gay community," to better inform themselves as to the variety of work that the "gay community" is doing. In fact, let's take a moment to give kudos to all of these organizations and the LGBT persons and allies who support them.

*Round of applause*

But let's go back to the silent auction issue that is often mocked. Denouncing HRC and branding marriage equality as an elite "upper and middle class" and "white" concern, whether intentionally or not, vilifies gay men and lesbians who seek equality. Yet, in addition to affecting upper-class gays, the lack of marriage equality particularly affects low-income LGBT persons. Rich gays, after all, can hire an attorney and obtain at least some of the protections of marriage. Poor LGBT persons unable to afford attorneys cannot do so. Thus the less well-off gays and lesbians are left without domestic partnership agreements, wills, and advanced directives in addition to lacking health insurance, social security, and other benefits that married couples often receive by virtue of their legal status. So, to say that marriage equality is only of concern to upper-class gays is an out-of-touch and unrealistic analysis. Yes, poor LGBT persons face unique sets of problems, problems that many LGBT organizations are trying to address, but that doesn't mean that marriage equality is of no consequence to them.

Furthermore, many of these non-marriage LGBT organizations, like HRC and virtually every other major nonprofit organization, also put on "$275-a-plate dinners at fancy hotels where people wear tuxedos and bid on lavish trips in silent auctions." The proceeds of such "middle- and upper-class" events, of course, go specifically towards advancing the mission of the organization- which in the case of LGBT health care organizations is to provide medical care for poor, uninsured, and indigent members of the LGBT community who have HIV/AIDS and/or cannot afford health care.

Because members of the "gay community" care about our community, it has been my experience that thousands of LGBT persons in the city in which I live regularly donate to and support non-marriage "gay" causes. Not all of us are able to attend the fancy dinners, but we give what we can. In other words we, like members of other minority groups, try to help the "most vulnerable" members of our community contrary to what Benkof believes and inaccurately says.

Just because a person is or was gay or bi, it doesn't make him an expert on everything gay. Nor does it give him free license to defame our community by vilifying us as less compassionate than other minority groups- while ignoring the good work that so many members of our community do. It would be convenient to marriage defenders if all this marriage equality hooplah could be chalked up to the workings of an elitist monolithic White Upper-Class Gay Movement (tm), but the reality is much different and much more nuanced than what Mr. Benkof presents.

3. Organizations Have Unique Missions and Scopes

Taking Benkof's claim to be concerned with "more important" LGBT issues at face value, and at this point I have no reason not to, I find it curious that he would take these concerns to iMAPP, where he also posted his article (direct link unavailable). Keeping in mind the fact that every organization has a unique scope and mission, does Benkof believe that iMAPP, an organization which opposes same-sex marriage, will stop worrying so much about the marriage issue and help him fight for a more just society for the most vulnerable LGBT persons among us? Is iMAPP going to start fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic alongside the LGBT organizations who have been doing so since the early 1980s often in spite of virulent anti-gay rhetoric from "family values" organizations?

Kudos to iMAPP if they take on these non-marriage causes. But let's not get our hopes up. See, iMAPP- the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy- is an organization dedicated to "strengthening marriage." Accordingly, non-marriage issues are beyond the scope of this organization's mission. Yet, using Benkof's reasoning, one could argue that it's not legitimate for iMAPP to dedicate its mission solely to strengthening marriage as opposed to fighting "more important" issues that the less fortunate members of the heterosexual community face.

Because I don't seriously expect iMAPP to pick up these causes, my point here is to demonstrate that every organization has a unique mission outlining the purposes of the organization. Just as it would be beyond the scope of iMAPP's mission to advocate for universal health care for children, it would be beyond the scope of HRC's mission to provide HIV interventions to gay men. But, just because HRC isn't doing such work, it doesn't mean no one else in the LGBT community is doing it. Many LGBT organizations are. So, yes, while it's true when Benkof says that "HIV/AIDS is still a major crisis facing the LGBT community," what can we expect HRC to do in light of its mission to "ensure equality" for LGBT persons? Make it illegal for HIV/AIDS to infect gay people?

But seriously, many "gay" organizations spend substantial amounts of money fighting, treating, and trying to prevent HIV/AIDS. HRC spends its money advocating for equal rights which, one has to admit, is still an important issue. I mean, just because other issues are pressing, it doesn't mean other issues are not worth fighting for. I understand the triage concept but, coming from one who opposes marriage equality, the argument that gay people should just stop worrying about discriminatory marriage laws because gay people are being beaten in prison isn't exactly appealing to those who favor marriage equality. It doesn't mean they don't care about these "other issues" or are just over-privileged elites but, more innocuously, they simply believe that marriage equality is also very important.

4. Gay Marriage is the "Gay" Issue Met with the Most Resistance

In a time where same-sex marriage is seen by some as the most important battle of these so-called "Culture Wars", it is not surprising that some people believe that the "gay community" only cares about gay marriage. That issue is the one that certainly gets the most press in the mainstream media. Yet, it is likely that it gets the most press because it is the "gay" issue that is met with the most resistance on the other side. Groups on all sides of this issue are spending millions of dollars to try to secure their favored outcome. It would make things easier, I suppose, if one side just caved in and dedicated all those resources to another "pressing issue." But neither side realistically will do that. Obviously, the nature of resistance is strong opposition.

In terms of the other important issues our community faces, I'd bet that all but the most hateful, bigoted anti-equality groups aren't opposed to LGBT groups providing care to gay men with HIV/AIDS or groups that try to stop gay people from being beaten in prison. The nature of marriage equality is different. Many LGBT people view discriminatory marriage laws as systemic state-sanctioned injustice and "marriage defenders" as cogs who perpetuate an unjust legal system. Likewise, marriage equality is an issue that affects all gay people- not just the rich ones. In a nation and society that prides itself on fairness, tolerance, and equality under law, what more is worth fighting for than those ideals? With a status that confers numerous legal and financial protections, benefits, and rights why would a group denied those things not think it important to fight for legal ability to enter into that status, especially when so much of the resistance is grounded in anti-gay animus, bigotry, and vilification?

I'll end with this. One could do a quick "search" on my blog and conclude that I think marriage equality is the most important issue in the world. Yet, other than blogging, I know what I am doing out in the real world to address the myriad of issues that our community faces. And, I say in all sincerity that I applaud Mr. Benkof if he too is taking tangible steps out in the real world to address these other important issues.

But at the same time, his arguments about what the "gay community" is doing for these "more important" issues are plainly inaccurate. What should bother us all about these inaccuracies is that they perpetuate a myth that the "gay community" is a rich, white, over-privileged blob that will stop at nothing to force gay marriage on the rest of society while we selfishly ignore the grave concerns of the "most vulnerable" among us. This is a myth that anti-gay groups have latched onto, perpetuated, and used to advance their anti-gay agendas. I wonder, in fact, how far this Elite Gay myth goes in perpetuating the injustices wrought by the "other issues" facing the "gay community." And furthermore, why does the onus of caring for "the most vulnerable" gay people rest only on "the gay community"? Where is his challenge to the larger "mainstream" heterosexual community to help the least among us?

Yes, many gay people care about marriage, but at the same time we too dedicate our lives, money, and time to other "gay" (and "straight"!) causes as well. In fact, "gay" organizations are often there for the "most vulnerable" among us when mainstream organizations are too busy judging such people for being gay to provide them with care or services.

For the sake of accuracy, I sincerely hope Mr. Benkof corrects his mis-statements about the "gay community."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can you find the Hidden Image?

While wandering over to the Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality website to see what they had to say about the gay marriages that are occurring in California, I came across this anti-gay article declaring that these marriages are "an illegal attack on the family."


Upon delving into the article a little further, and by that I mean gazing into the author's 3-D Optical Illusion tie and jacket, everything became clear: The article is really nothing more than a hot mess of boring old argumentum ad naziums, appeals to Biblical authority, and invented pseudo-history passing as legitimate, educated critique because the author slaps a "Dr" before his name.

I always get my hopes up that marriage defense arguments will turn out to be fascinating, or at least interesting. But alas, disappointed again.

Did I dry out my contacts for that?

Monday, June 16, 2008


My Latest Stuff Lesbians Like is up.

In random political news that makes me angry, did Fox news really refer to Michelle Obama as a "Baby Mama"?

Just checking.

Salmonatoes and Scary Health News

If there's one thing that annoys me its scary-yet-unhelpful breaking health news. Currently, as I'm sure most of you have heard thanks to the tendency of the media to lick its collective chops at the prospect of a scary health news story, there's an outbreak of salmonella in tomatoes.

Okay, thanks for the heads up. As someone who absolutely hates to vomit, and thus would be rendered unbelievably miserable by salmonella, I am grateful for the warning. I will now avoid tomatoes.

Yet, when a simple "don't eat tomatoes" would do, you can always count on some people to make what should be a simple solution more difficult than it needs to be. For instance, a representative from one food safety group tells consumers:

"Be extremely careful in trying to find out exactly where the tomatoes they're purchasing are from."

Okay. But unless someone is on a medically-necessary diet that consists solely of tomatoes, isn't it just far easier to just not eat tomatoes rather than find out where every tomato you can potentially ingest comes from? Maybe I'm just lazy.

But but but, if you eat tomatoes you could get salmonella! And if you get salmonella you could die! As the Associated Press reports:

"[O]ne man died, apparently after eating pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment, at a Texas restaurant in May. The 67-year-old man also suffered from cancer, however, and the death has been officially attributed to that disease, the news service reported."

In other words, ALERT ALERT ALERT, a man died after eating tomatoes but he didn't really die from salmonella! In less exciting news, it was found out that he really he died of cancer. Phew! But you can imagine how exciting and scary it would have been if he had really died of salmonella!

In fact, this outbreak is all part of a larger trend. We're in the midst of an all out crisis, folks:

"During the past several years, the United States has been beset by a series of food-safety crises. In fact, the U.S. Academy of Sciences this week declared that vegetables and fruits have become 'leading vehicles' of food-borne illness in the United States."

So, WTF? Should I not eat fruits and veggies? Or, should I eat them and just be "careful" about it, whatever that means? I mean, I definitely don't want to come down with salmonella and its attendant bloody diarrhea that every news story about the condition feels the need to mention in graphic detail, but cutting fruits and vegetables out of my diet is sure to lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Now that I'm sufficiently scared about what to put in my mouth, it's clear that the only way to be completely safe is to subsist entirely on gummy bears and Snickers bars.

Any other tips we should know about? Perhaps the so very helpful one about how people who drink red wine live longer but drinking wine is bad for you so you shouldn't drink red wine?

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Deep" Thought #16: Marriage Defenders Undermine Our Government By Accusing Others of Undermining Our Government

Our anti-gay friend "Chairm," has a new series on the "harm" to society that will supposedly result from allowing same-sex couples to marry. It should be noted that his "series" is really a choppy compilation of unsatisfactory arguments from previous articles that Chairm faithfully recycles and repeats in typical broken-record manner. In all fairness, maybe someone who didn't agree with Chairm when he originally made the exact same arguments will agree with him now that it's all packaged
a little differentlyexactly the same. But, as so many marriage defenders do little else besides gnash their teeth at the depravity of butt sex and repeat circular arguments as to what marriage is and isn't, I at least have to give the fellow props for trying to do more.

Yet, even a cursory examination of Chairm's analysis demonstrates a highly confused argument. I am analyzing it today because, in light of the recent California decision declaring discriminatory marriage laws to be unconstitutional, it is an argument that many so-called marriage defenders have re-ignited.

Essentially, his claim is this:

The "harm" of same-sex marriage "campaign" on society is that it is "an attack on principles of good governance" that's "undermining our form of government." Specifically, tyrannical judges in certain states have overturned the will of the people by declaring laws against same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Ruling by the will of the people is good governance. Because these judges overturned the will of the people by legalizing same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage leads to bad governance. And therefore, same-sex marriage harms society.

As we can see, his case isn't even an argument that it's same-sex marriage that is harming society but, rather, that it's the "campaign" and the "imposition of same-sex marriage" that is harming society. Such an argument, as I will show, is like saying that American democracy is "undermining our form of government."

1. American Government 101

To begin, it's funny, you know. People love love lurv their democracy until the process leads to some sort of outcome they do not agree with. Then you can pretty much guarantee that they'll be the first to yell that the outcome is the result of tyrannical procedures that are antithetical to "democracy."

Yawn, snooze, and snore.

But here we go. Let's all take a trip down American Democracy Lane 101. Although, I have an inkling that those who could benefit from such a trip won't humor us enough to even consider taking a ride. See, Chairm's main gripe is not just with same-sex marriage. It's with the fact that our democratic system allows judges to declare laws unconstitutional, even if the majority of people are in favor of these laws. (I write more about this activist judge phenomenon here). Yet, oddly, perhaps because Chairm disagrees with same-sex marriage, he blames the same-sex marriage "campaign" for this basic facet of our democratic system.

Yet, our "form of government" consists of three branches each having separate powers. Separating the powers of government in such a manner prevents one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Furthermore, while each branch has its own role, it is the role of the judiciary to say whether a particular law is unconstitutional. After all, it would not exactly comprise a "check" if the same branch of government that wrote laws was also responsible for declaring these laws unconstitutional. Thus, a court declaring a law unconstitutional is no more a threat to "our form of government" than is the president vetoing a law or the legislature writing one. So get a grip, Chicken Little.

Let's take a deep breath and hope that Chairm realizes that his beef is more with "our form of government" than it is with the alleged devious tactics of the "SSM campaign," tactics which really amount to nothing more than law-abiding citizens exercising their lawful rights as Americans. In fact, even a cursory search on the Google reveals this Gay Marriage Agenda put out by some of the major gay rights groups. Not that there is any single authoritative Gay Agenda, but this mainstream one looks pretty benign and law-abiding to me. Not surprisingly, it contradicts Chairm's characterization of the "gay community" as one out to undermine democracy and liberty. I doubt most marriage defenders have even seen it. Not that such a minor detail ever stops them from declaring what the Gay Agenda is.

At this point I believe we Americans have something we say to other Americans who complain about America. I believe it goes something along the lines of "love it or leave it, buck-a-roo." Ah, but dissent and disagreement are good for democracy. They test whether we truly value tolerance, equality, and fairness as much as we say we do. So, what I'd really suggest to Chairm and his cohorts is that if your anti-gay goggles blind you from understanding these basic fundamentals of American government, take them off for a few minutes and digest reading material from a more objective standpoint. It's difficult, I know, since your anti-gay goggles are more like Lasik surgery gone horribly awry.

In fact, let's substitute a court's imposition of same-sex marriage with its imposition of any other policy that the majority of "the people" disagree with and we'd end up with the same complaint. Why Chairm paints the utilization of courts as some sort of un-democratic failing unique to an "SSM campaign" that will arrogantly stop at nothing to get its way is indicative of either Chairm's ignorance or a conscious effort to vilify this community.

For fun, let's also stroll down analogy-that-homobigots-love-to-hate lane and look at Brown v. Board for a moment. There, the Supreme Court declared state school segregation laws to be unconstitutional, even though the nation was deeply divided over the issue and even though "the people" through their legislators passed these laws. Under Chairm's reasoning, the Supreme Court's imposition of desegregation caused harm to society by declaring a law unconstitutional even though "the people" favored it. Some members of the Court itself were, in fact, troubled by the non-representative aspect of ruling against "the people" but ultimately they unanimously ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional. As public opinion was turning on the segregation issue, the justices, as law professor Michael Klarman writes, "understood that they were working for, not against, the current of history." Importantly, and what will help validate future pro-marriage equality rulings, a similar trend in public opinion is occurring with respect to same-sex marriage.

As another interesting parallel to the same-sex marriage issue, the Brown v. Board decision created a severe backlash to integration whereby certain politicians advanced their careers by eagerly touting their segregationist "cred" to racists and where segregationists strongly denounced the "activist" Brown justices. One Senator from Mississippi, for instance, called the decision "illegal, immoral, dishonest, and a disgrace" while another called it "a monumental fraud which is shocking, outrageous and reprehensible." In one of the greatest statements undermining "our form of government," a Governor said "no true Southerner feels morally obliged to recognize the legality of this act of tyranny."

Does any of that sound at all familiar?

2. So, What's the Actual Harm?

Yet, most importantly, in his article Chairm never articulates the actual harm to society that same-sex marriage supposedly causes. All he tells us is that the "SSM campaign's" utilization of the courts, which of course is completely legal to do, and the court's subsequent ruling in favor of same-sex marriage means that "harm" is occurring since most people disagree with same-sex marriage. In other words, the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage harms society because most people disagree with it. The question begged, of course, is well, why do the people disagree with it in the first place? Are "the people" like rebellious kids who merely disagree with same-sex marriage because courts dare to impose it on them? What I think we all want to hear is a calm, logical prediction of the harm that same-sex marriage will supposedly cause in and of itself.

Ah, but perhaps all of this will go over Chairm's head. Rather than focusing on my response to his very weak arguments, he and his cohorts will paint this reasoned critique as some sort of Hateful Diatribe (tm)- I mean, let's be honest, by definition that's what any critque of an Opine argument is, right? It's easier, after all, for Chairm and company to paint genuine criticism as [insert pro-gay opponent] being mean to us again as though that erases the serious shortcomings of their arguments.

In which case, it's their loss if they ever hope to be taken seriously. For, what's also interesting to observe is the penchant this hate-blog has for calling other people mean and "hateful" in the midst of them vilifying gay people by calling them perverted, absurd, disgusting, selfish, arrogant, and non-existent among other unkind names. Now, I'm not opposed to people babbling their own ignorant tongues within the confines of their own cocoons. But when people vilify the community that I am a part of, they can expect to get called out on it.

On the other hand, we could give credit where it may not be due and assume that these marriage defenders write what they do out of ignorance. It's a plausible explanation, as virtually anyone can start a blog about anything, regardless of education, credentials, or qualifications, and discuss any subject of his or her choosing. This isn't an elitist notion. It's just human nature for people to regularly overestimate their competence and intelligence. Sort of like how everyone thinks that they are a good driver, it's everyone else who's bad. Free speech is wonderful, but humorously, it also makes the internets resemble a big old kiddie pool full of poop. I mean, if I had a dollar for every average Joe Schmoe whose status as such "qualifies" him to be a "moral values guru," "marriage nut," or "kin anthropology expert" I could probably pay off Sallie Mae and swim in a vault of Gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.

So, what should be noted about those who argue that the Gay Agenda is "undermining our form of government" is that most of these people haven't even shown that they understand our form of government enough to be able to tell who is and who isn't undermining it. In fact, you will usually find that it's those who are out ignorantly shouting that other people are tyrannical who are the ones who are actually in favor of tyranny. For a recent funny example, let's take a moment to remember anti-gay "upholder"-of-democracy Jose, a teacher nonetheless, who believes that it's "a problem" that those who hold religious beliefs contrary to his own "are allowed to vote." It makes me laugh to then observe this same man foam at the mouth about how democracy isn't working when democratic processes are, actually, working.

It's ignorant (at best) and tyrannical (at worst) "marriage defenders" like these who leave me convinced that the only salvation for our nation lies in an independent judiciary. It has been argued, and I believe rightly so considering the degree of anti-gay animus that exists, that it is unrealistic when facing a regime of entrenched inequality to wait to change the minds of resistors before attempting social change. This ability to correct inequality, rather than being somehow un-democratic, signifies the very best of what American democracy is and has been. So stick that in your "800-pound gorilla," Chairm.

Yeah, marriage defenders who don't understand our form of government are totally "right" about how the "SSM campaign" is undermining our government. "Deep" thoughts.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Don't Ask Don't Tell Update: Cook v. Gates

A couple of days ago, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled on the legality of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law. The entire decision can be read here (PDF). The plaintiffs in this suit were 12 former members of the military who were separated from service under DADT. Collectively, they had served something like 65 honorable years, had received dozens of awards, medals and commendations, and are now being denied benefits that they would otherwise be entitled to receive if they weren't gay.

To begin, the Court reviewed the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated a Texas sodomy law, and found that Lawrence recognized "a protected liberty interest for adults to engage in private, consensual sexual intimacy." Further, citing Lawrence and a line of cases using "intermediate scrutiny," the Court decided that that the standard of review it would apply to DADT "lies between strict scrutiny and rational basis."

For those not familiar, the terms "strict scrutiny" and "rational basis" refer to the different levels of a review that a court will use to decide whether a law is constitutional. Generally speaking, strict scrutiny is the toughest level of scrutiny given to a law and the toughest to satisfy. Rational basis is the lowest level (a law will be upheld if it is rationally related to a legitimate government purpose). Intermediate scrutiny, as the name implies, is somewhere in between rational basis and strict scrutiny. A court decides which level of scrutiny to apply, and this topic could be an entire book, by looking at the context of a particular law, case, and type of discrimination involved.

What could be considered a sort-of win for gay rights, although no consolation to gay servicemembers of course, is that the Court in Cook v. Gates decided that intermediate scrutiny was the appropriate level of judicial review for DADT under a Due Process challenge. (The law was challenged on several constitutional grounds, but I am limiting my analysis to the Due Process analysis). Historically, laws discriminating against gay men and lesbians have only been subject to "rational basis" review- a standard which is almost a guaranteed win for the government (unless the law is really asinine, of course). As a note of distinction, this Court conducted two analyses with respect to homosexuality. It explained that laws burdening the right to sexual autonomy are subject to intermediate scrutiny while still holding that laws burdening gays as a class are still subject to rational basis review. The court upheld DADT under both standards.

What is more interesting is the Court's application of the intermediate standard. What differentiates this case from most other cases involving gay rights is that this law involves the military. Generally, courts take a deferential approach when reviewing Congressional judgments in the area of military affairs. From a separation of powers standpoint, the military is considered to be in Congress' realm rather than the judicary's. Secondly, judges are admittedly incompetent to make the "complex, subtle, and professional decisions" related to the military than are Congresspersons and Presidents. That's the theory anyway.

Accordingly, the Court here basically looked at Congress' "exhaustive policy review" and testimony regarding the issue of gays in the military (from 1993, which the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network calls "outdated and inaccurate" testimony) and held that Congress' decision to continue separating gays and lesbians from the military in order to "preserve 'the high morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion' of the troops" was a substantial government interest greater than a gay person's personal right to sexual autonomy. Thus, the Court found that DADT is a constitutional law.

This decision is not surprising or spectacular. What I find troubling about this decision is a complaint I have with this area of constitutional law in general. Basically, applying the various standards of review is a largely unpredictable and wishy-washy endeavor. Some of you reading this who do not have a background in law may be wondering what it means in any real sense for a law to be "necessary" for a "compelling government interest." I mean, a pretty strong case could be made that virtually any law is "necessary" or "rational" and that any government interest is "compelling" or "substantial." Applying these abstract standards of review to complex real-life situations is, indeed, a balancing act that is open to various interpretations.

Legal commentator Dale Carpenter writes, with respect to the standard of review the Cook v. Gates court applied:

"[B]alancing approaches under which courts somehow determine the 'strength' of the government's interest, the 'strength' of the individual liberty interest, and then weigh the two against one another, leave us largely at sea.

I am not sure how courts are supposed to do any of this, and I have never read an explanation of how it's supposed to be done that doesn't make practically any result possible and defensible. There is no methodology in the First Circuit's opinion; there is simply opinion."

In other words, many constitutional law opinions doing such balancing acts don't give us a lot of reasoning to grasp onto and use to predict the outcomes of future cases. On a surface level, these standards give the appearance that judges can wrap their own personal opinions in the pretty legalese of constitutional law and present them as genuine doctrine. Whether judges actually do so is, of course, another issue. But I think that people at all ends of the political spectrum could agree that sometimes it looks like decisions are outcome-oriented. (Particularly if they don't agree with the opinion!)

In sum, I don't, of course, agree with the outcome of this decision. Logically, DADT doesn't even make sense. On the one hand, the testimony against allowing gays in the military went along the lines that having people who engage in gay sex are a threat to "unit cohesion/morale/good order/etc" of the military. Yet, it's also an open secret that gay men and lesbians, who consequently usually engage in gay sex, have been serving in the military since its inception. Has perhaps the most powerful military force in the world been suffering from unit cohesion, morale, and good order issues this entire time? I think not. At least, I don't think any of these sorts of morale issue that the military may be suffering from are attributable to the indignity that heterosexuals have to endure knowing that their compadres might engage in butt sex. And, how does one even measure the subjective, abstract harms to "unit cohesion, morale, and good order," anyway?

Yet, considering both the high level of deference that courts give to laws affecting the military and the wishy-washy nature of intermediate review, the decision does not surprise me at all. Perhaps utilizing the legislature and electing Obama in 2008 is the most realistic route for overturning DADT. If indeed the 1993 testimony regarding gays in the military is outdated and inaccurate, let's hope that new transparent testimony proving as much will go a long way towards ending this unfair and discriminatory policy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Action Alert: Rogue County Clerk Tries to Cancel Marriage!

In perhaps the biggest news since angry parents everywhere threatened to cancel Christmas, one California county clerk opposed to same-sex couples marrying has tried to cancel marriage. In her county at least. While couples will still be able to apply for a marriage license, the clerk's office will not solemnize ceremonies. Couples who want to marry in Kern County will have to find another route to have their ceremonies solemnized- a necessary step to being legally married. Marriage defenders should note two facts. One, as the Box Turtle Bulletin reported, 20% of families in this county live below the poverty line. Two, the benefit of having the county clerk solemnize a wedding is that the cost was $30 (as opposed to the hundreds charged by churches). Clearly, the actions of this rogue, activist clerk will deter at least some heterosexuals from marrying.

Whatever will become of society?!

This clerk's dire threat to the institution of marriage came moments after the California Supreme Court ruled that county clerks in the state had to begin performing ceremonies for same-sex couples. As a result of the cancellation, 25 heterosexual weddings have thus far been canceled. It is estimated that wedding ceremonies performed by the clerk bring in $50,000/month to the county.

I wonder how the taxpayers feel about that.

Yet, in addition to the financial loss this county will suffer, this cancellation of marriage will definitely result in increases in fatherlessness, divorce rates, poverty, breakdown of the traditional family, deconstruction of marriage, the severing of the link between marriage and responsible procreation, out-of-wedlock sex, out-of-wedlock births, great public harm, mischief, legal havoc, the decline of civilization, the end of America, the secularization of society, and the destruction of the universe. Okay, that might be a little much. Cross off "the destruction of the universe." We could never predict such a thing.

You get the point. Is canceling marriage any way to save marriage?

Of course not, silly!

Let this activist official know what you think about her rogue behavior!

Every Girl in this League Is Going to be a Lady

I think I have just stumbled across one of the funniest items on the internet. Who needs youtube when remnants of the long-dead idea that "female athletes are ladies first and athletes second" are posted? Okay, so maybe that concept isn't "long dead," as we learned in my article regarding make-up application workshops for WNBA players.

While perusing the site of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, made famous by best-movie-ever A League of Their Own, I found posted in the archives text taken from the charm school guide that the players had to attend. As a disclaimer, what follows is in no way intended to disrespect the women who played for the AAGPBL. I admire these women very much for breaking barriers in sports, for not conforming to society's expectations of them, and for having the courage to follow their dreams.

Okay, now get ready. This is good.

As an introductory note, you will quickly notice that the guide regularly refers to the women as "girls" throughout. Whether the context is the Playboy mansion or women's sports, I personally find the infantilization of adult women to be a creepy phenomenon. Whenever I hear someone insist on calling women "girls" it pretty much immediately tells me that I'm dealing with a person who refuses to take women seriously.

But putting that little rant aside, the guide explains to the players that its purpose is "to help guide you in your personal appearance. We ask you to follow the rules of behavior for your own good as well as that of the future success of girls' baseball." Note how helping the players' personal appearance is vital to the success of "girls' baseball." Now that the league is defunct, I suppose we can conclude that the girls just weren't pretty enough, eh? Okay, seriously though, the idea that female athletes must be pretty in addition to being good at sports in order to be successful or popular is an idea that is unfortunately still with us.

The guide is full of helpful baseball-related tidbits like what the contents of your All-American Girls Baseball League Beauty Kit should be (cleansing cream, lipstick, rouge medium, cream deodorant, face powder for Brunette, hand lotion, and hair remover). You can see that rouge should be medium, this is probably to avoid "the risk of attaining gaudiness." After all, the balance between hussy and lesbian is a delicate one. Speaking of the queer scare, the "rules of conduct" are also notable for having included prohibitions against players wearing un-feminine clothes and "boyish bobs."

Additional tidbits include explanations regarding the importance of removing hair from the legs (and arms!), cleaning one's teeth, regularly manicuring one's nails (playing ball is a dirty sport), maintaining the hair, and not getting lipstick on one's teeth. All ladies in the audience today should take note of how to retain that sparkle in the eyes: "Turn your eyes to the corner of the room for a short space of time, then change to the other corner, then gaze at the ceiling and at the floor alternately." Duly noted.

And don't forget, legs together left over right, a lady reveals nothing.

The etiquette section of the guide reveals proper behavior for a lady. What I find to be the most interesting characteristic of a lady is that "there is nothing more vulgar than bragging about personal possessions, accomplishments or achievements." I wonder if bragging is as vulgar in men as it is in women?

Okay, so I know this manual is funny to us now. But from a cultural standpoint, it is extremely interesting to observe from afar the clash of two competing worldviews. On the one hand, the very implementation of the AAGPBL promoted the idea that women could be serious, competent, and "real" athletes. On the other hand, it was operating during a time when, due to the unrealistic idea that women embodied exaggerated feminine characteristics, the role of women in the public domain was much more limited. For women to break into the male dominated terrain of professional baseball, of course it would entail imposing codes of "proper" conduct on women that necessarily were not imposed on men. In short, the league seemed to simultaneously coddle the women, via the use of team "chaperones," while also trying to restrict their behavior and expression. This paradox demonstrates that while women, by virtue of their "femininity," supposedly needed to be protected they were also not allowed to present themselves as anything other than feminine. It is readily apparent how not allowing women to display "masculine" characteristics traps women into a false "need" for protection.

That being said, I would simply love to see the rules of conduct imposed on men in professional baseball around this time and do a side-by-side comparison. As athletes are in relative role-model-y positions, it is understandable for leagues to impose standards of conduct on players, but somehow I doubt that the rules imposed on men are or have been as obsessed with the physical appearance and "proper behavior" of the players as the rules for women were. Men, as "masculine" creatures, require neither protection nor prohibitions on behavior that is too masculine. Rather, male athletes have the burden of not being able to express "feminine" characteristics.

To end, it is absolutely laughable to imagine such a code being imposed and enforced upon The Great Bambino. Such a thought experiment invokes the double-standards at play for male and female athletes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Breakable Literal Bible Rule of the Week: Menstruating Women

If there's one issue that reminds me that God is certainly a persnickety fellow it's his prohibitions surrounding women and menstruation. For instance, the Lord tells us in Leviticus 15:19 that thanks to a woman's impure tendency to menstruate, she should be kept separate for 7 days.

Being a modern day working gal, I am very concerned about this rule. See, my place of work employs a great number of women capable of menstruation, yet it is not a part of our Human Resources policy to separate these unclean women for a period (no pun intended) of 7 days while they menstruate.

What this lack of separation tangibly means is that it is possible for fellow employees to touch these women not knowing that these unclean women are menstruating. For, we all know that Leviticus 15:19 also tells us that anyone who touches a menstruating woman shall be unclean until that evening. In fact, everything this woman lies and sits upon is unclean which means, as Leviticus 15:21-22 tells us, that a man must wash his clothes and take a bath after even touching anything that a menstruating woman has lied or sat upon. He also must wash the object upon which the woman lied or sat upon, which inevitably leads me to say that it's simply not fair that men, who are only trying to get in an honest day's work, have to deal with unclean women soiling all of the company's furniture all the time.

But at the same time, living a non-rule-breaky life sometimes involves balancing several competing interests. Thus, while it would be highly unproductive to grant every woman of childbearing capacity 7 days off of work each month to separate herself from clean human beings, the feminists would cause an uproar if we didn't allow women to work at all. In order to get around this dilemma, I will definitely contact human resources with a proposal demanding the separation of menstruating women into a company Red Room in which these unclean women can continue working without soiling chairs, beds, and men. Doing so is certain to enhance productivity.

Since that's all clear, I suppose the only question I have of the Lord is this: When they're done menstruating, where should the women take their sin offerings of two turtles or two young pigeons in order to atone for their uncleanliness- the company president or the director of HR?

Oy, having women in the workplace while not breaking Bible rules is hard.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Deep" Thought #15: Same-Sex Couples Are Just Friends

An oft-used way that those opposed to gay rights disparage the love that members of same-sex couples have for each other is to insist on referring to our relationships as mere "friendships." Friendships are wonderful things, no doubt about it. And, like our heterosexual counterparts, we too, are friends with the people we are in relationships with. Likewise, even though we can't make babies together, we are also more than friends. No too difficult a concept.

Concerned Woman for America Matt Barber, however doesn't get it. In his latest piece of "humor," he asks us to consider Ellen DeGeneres in light of the recent California marriage ruling. While Barber admits that he "doesn't dislike" Ellen (I'm sure she's relieved!), he informs us that Ellen recently announced "that she intended to 'marry' her friend, Portia DeRossi (a woman)."

While I applaud Barber's ability to discern that the foxy Portia is indeed a woman, I can only laugh at his clumsy suggestion as to what Ellen should do instead of marry Portia:

"If Ellen wants real happiness, the kind of happiness that's accompanied by 'the peace which surpasses all understanding,' I pray she'll have a conversation with Jesus Christ."
The successful end result, of course, would be for Ellen to repent, turn straight, and end up marrying a man. Such a relationship, of course, would be much greater than anything Ellen had with Portia and would then be worthy of the title "marriage." Hilarious! I mean, let's face it, to anyone who's had the misfortune of watching Mr. Wrong, I can only say that there aren't more things unnatural, counterfeit, or fraudulent in this world than an Ellen-on-man romantic "relationship."

Speaking of Mr. Wrong, sorry Matt, but our relationships are real no matter what you say and no matter how much you imbue God with your own unfortunate bigotry. See, another fun thing going on this article is Barber's conviction that he's merely God's messenger on this issue. For instance, in the midst of an article full of name-calling and judgments, he steps back, puts his hands up and says, whoa there:

"For those who disagree, your gripe isn't with me; it's with your sovereign Creator who loves each of us in spite of ourselves."
Being on the alleged right side of God, apparently, justifies belligerence and denigration of the love that two people share for each other.

Yeah. Two people of the same-sex cannot possibly have more than platonic love for each other because some small-minded people who have created God in their own image and imbued him with their own human bigotry say that God says so. Deep thoughts.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

RightWing Roundup: The End is Nigh, Tyrannies, and Scared Men

1. Exaggeration of the Week

The anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) submitted a petition asking the California Supreme Court to stay its recent decision until after the November elections when voters decide whether to amend the California state constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying. [PDF] Their reasoning?

"Permitting this decision to take effect immediately... risks legal havoc and uncertainty of immeasurable magnitude."


"Great public harm and mischief, as outlined herein, will result from permitting same-sex 'marriages' [sic] for a five-month period, only to later change the law by returning marriage to its traditional definition."

Those are strong words. Accordingly, I scoured the ADF's petition for the specific reasoning process and evidence for this alleged havoc, uncertainty, great public harm, and mischief. Disappointed, all I found was (a) an explanation as to how some clerks would issue marriage licenses after the decision and some would not, (b) an irrelevant lecture on how a civil rights issue should be decided "by the people," and (c) an exaggerated statement on how it would be super-duper confusing and wasteful if gay people were allowed to marry for a few months but then were no longer able to marry if the constitution was amended to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

That's it? That is what will cause Great Harm to society? Puh-lease.

See, this petition is a prime example of how anti-gay groups are unwilling to concede any victory no matter how large or small to gay people. With obsessive zeal, they do everything in their power to prevent us from having even a small taste of equality. A state-recognized marriage, after all, doesn't even guarantee a same-sex couple the numerous federal rights, benefits, and protections of marriage that opposite-sex couples enjoy. But groups like the ADF don't even want us to have that, do they?

What is also notable is that whenever anti-gays speak of the future harm that gay marriage will cause, it is always in vague unquantifiable terms. Now that the California Supreme Court has ruled against this petition, let's all grab a cold beverage, sit back, and watch all this havoc, mischief, uncertainty, and great public harm not occur.

Yet, playing a psychic and predicting with absolute certainty that some future harm is bound to happen can be a pretty good bet if one knows how to mis-use statistics. To make an anti-gay's prediction of harm "true" all one has to do is note any social ills that have occurred after gay marriage was legalized. Then, side-stepping the fact that Correlation Does Not Imply Causation, an anti-gay can say something like "Oh dear, California began experiencing a drought mere days after same-sex marriage was legalized in the state. Harm has occurred here. Now I'm not sayin' one caused the other but the relationship definitely needs to be looked at." Okay, sweet. But those of us who operate in reality will keep advocating for real solutions to problems.

Sometimes, I think that the intellectual standards of being an anti-gay are so low that it sorta makes me want to join the other side, where I would surely be some sort of genius.

2. The People Totally Have No Voice

Speaking of the California case, now that same-sex couples are allowed to marry it's time to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying. Proving that (phew!) the people actually do have a voice and the only tyranny in our nation is that of the majority, the California Secretary of State has approved a ballot initiative allegedly signed by 1.1 million Californians to put the civil rights of gay men and lesbians up for popular vote. Specifically, the measure to be voted on would amend the state constitution to "provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Let's watch how this most pressing issue to ever face our nation plays out in the '08 presidential elections!

3. The Will of Who?

In non-gay news, the Vatican has recently announced that women taking part in ordinations will be excommunicated. Darn

According to the article:

"The church does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder Jesus Christ," Amato said in an interview prepared for Vatican Radio that was released to reporters. The reference is to Christ's having chosen only men as his Apostles.

Thank you feminist religious scholars for giving us the tools to realize that the more likely explanation for the ban on women priests has more to do with the will of the men in charge than it does with the will of any supreme being.

Also, coming soon to a Breakable Bible Rule near you: How Christ also chose only Jewish men as his Apostles.

4. Who Are you Calling RightWing?

This is totally not a bit of rightwing news, but my latest addition to Stuff Lesbians Like is up.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Family Values" Groups Out of Touch With American Families

This week, the Family Equality Council was kind enough to contact me to write a guest post on the group's blog. Take a gander at this group's website and blog. As an organization working to ensure equality for LGBT families, this group serves an important role in validating "non-traditional" families and countering the idea that heterosexual nuclear families are automatically superior than every other family form. Here is my post:

What if 1.1 million Americans could be mobilized to support initiatives that actually benefited families? Instead, what we get from groups who claim to exist to protect families are initiatives that, with their vague and abstract goal of defending an institution that heterosexuals have already redefined, do nothing but further divide our nation and distract from solutions that could help families in real ways.

The title of this post, at first glance, seems like a no-brainer to many in the gay rights movement. We have known for a long time that some groups have co-opted the phrase "family values," imbued the phrase with their own conservative and anti-gay values, and repackaged these values as though they are universal "family values." The effect of this repackaging, of course, is that those who do not agree with these values are, by definition, anti-family.

But, do family values groups speak on behalf of most families?

Nuclear families, consisting of a heterosexual married couple and their biological offspring, at 24% of families are far from a universal model of family. In fact, it must be asked how relevant "family values" groups are who idealize this family model and how adequate such a universal model of family is in our diverse world.

In fact, "family values" groups are losing their ability to monopolize the word "family." For instance, a recent headlining poll of over one thousand registered voters in California found that a slight majority (51%) favored allowing gay couples to marry. These numbers are probably quite shocking to those who get their anti-gay news solely from "family values" sites. While these numbers may not predict the outcome of a future contest to amend the constitution, they do indicate that the recent California ruling was not the action of "rogue" justices acting contrary to most people's current opinions. While anti-gay forces like to paint an extremely lopsided opposition to marriage equality, the reality is much different. This so-called culture war is not a matter of a few "rogue" justices versus millions of people. It's millions of people versus millions of people.

For anyone paying attention to the trend in public opinion over the years, the increasing support for marriage equality is not too surprising. I find it incredible and encouraging that so many heterosexuals are willing to support equality, see through the propaganda that is constantly telling them that gay marriage will be the downfall of society, and support the rights of a previously largely-vilified minority group. The only surprising feature about constitutional amendments banning same-sex couples from marriage is not that these bans have passed, but that they have not passed by much greater margins. After all, gay people only constitute 1-2% of the entire population, as some "family values" groups claim!

In this article, I argue that "family values" groups are becoming increasingly out of touch with what American families are and what they want for our nation. The ideal of equality is not just some elitist notion perpetuated by academics and radicals, it is a concept that speaks to what America strives to be. That "family values" groups force us as a nation to dedicate time, resources, and money that could be much better spent addressing actual threats to families is, perhaps, a testament to how these groups do not actually benefit families.

Personally, I think many anti-gay "family values" groups are possible hate groups, although this is not true of all such groups. When I use the phrase "hate group" I use it in full acknowledgment that the group in question likely objects to being called a "hate group." Not only is there no standard definition of "hate group," groups that have been labeled "hate groups" have turned around and called the labeling group a "hate group." Humorously (and sadly), however, it is interesting to note that even the KKK objects to being called a hate group.

I like the Southern Poverty Law Center's definition of "hate group" because it makes an important distinction. Specifically, hate groups "have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people. And, "anti-gay groups are organizations that go beyond mere disagreement with homosexuality by subjecting gays and lesbians to campaigns of personal vilification." This qualifier is important and likely one that anti-gay groups labeled as hate groups overlook. Anti-gay groups that "merely" disagree with and object to homosexuality are not necessarily hate groups. Let's keep that in mind for the duration of this article.

1. Most Americans Support Benefits

A particularly virulent anti-gay group that deigns to protect "family values" is Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality.
Rather than merely disagreeing with homosexuality, it misrepresents gay men, lesbians, our families, and our goals. For instance, a recent article coming from this group is this inaccurate statement ironically made in defense of a college baseball player accused of committing a hate crime against a gay man: "few on the Left hate like the homosexual activists (with radical pro-abortion-on-demand feminists a close second)." This statement is part of AFT[sic]AH's ongoing series documenting "homosexual hate" a series that paints some gay people as hateful and encourages the generalization that all gay people are, therefore, hateful.

In my view, and this is a trait AFT[sic]AH shares with several "family values" groups, there really seems to be no other purpose to AFT[sic]AH than trying to ensure that gay people win no battle, however large or small, in the struggle for equal rights. In doing so, this group doesn't merely disagree with homosexuality, it vilifies gay men and lesbians. AFT[sic]AH founder Peter LaBarbera, for instance, has written that "organized homosexuality is a force for evil in our society" and that he "believes that homosexual practice is always wrong but that people can leave the homosexual lifestyle." Unfortunately, LaBarbera also hyperbolically characterizes criticism of his articles and thinking as "fanatical attacks" and has vilified those who disagree with him, such as Pam Spaulding, as a "radical lesbian" and a "vicious anti-Christian lesbian activist."

I would be surprised, in fact, if he did not attempt to discredit me in the same manner.

Too bad for Peter's life mission, AFT[sic]AH doesn't speak to, for, or on behalf of most Americans. Despite the fact that most Americans favor granting some sort of legal recognition to same-sex couples, AFT[sic]AH has opposed legislation that would grant same-sex couples the dignity of even entering into civil unions. In the obsessively anti-gay mindset, civil unions are too close to marriage, and we simply cannot have that. It's all a slippery slope, you know. If one-half of a gay couple can be on his/her partner's health insurance plan, marriage will be "deconstructed." And we all know where that leads. (Or do we?)

At the same time, these man-on-dog-end-of-the-world scare tactics don't work on most people anymore. Perhaps Americans find it difficult to trust the accuracy and objectivity of the articles written by a man who, for one recent example, figuratively embraced Sally Kern and called it a "privilege" to share an anti-gay platform with her. Most Americans are willing to concede that gay couples deserve at least some of the protections, benefits, and rights of marriage even if they aren't ready to call same-sex unions "marriage."
For instance, 77% of registered voters in California surveyed support either civil unions or marriage. A much smaller 19% believe that same-sex couples deserve no legal recognition. Nationwide, other polls indicate that 54-56% of Americans believe that same-sex couples deserve at least civil unions.

While substantial numbers of Americans still unfortunately want to deny same-sex couples at least some legal recognition, the trend leans toward greater tolerance over time. Polls from 8 years ago, for instance, indicate that only 41-43% of Americans supported civil unions. What this trend means is that hate groups, perhaps because of their amusing exaggerated predictions of future harm and their unwillingness to concede anything to the other side, are becoming more out of touch with most Americans. As anti-gay hate groups grow more desperate, their rhetoric gets more exaggerated, dishonest, and mean-spirited. Americans know that that sort of speech isn't indicative of "family values," even though groups are free to utter it. Further, this hyperbolic desperation fails to speak to the real problems that American families are facing.

2. Most Americans Realize that Other Issues are More Important

There are several explanations as to why heterosexual Americans are becoming more tolerant of homosexuality than in the past. For some straight people, coming to know real life gay people has made them realize that they had, thanks to anti-gay propaganda, been seriously misinformed. For others, they became disgusted by the ferocious anti-gay backlash and apparent obsessive zeal with which their fellow Americans sought to deny equal rights to others.

Another likely explanation is that people are tiring of the issue. In light of the very real problems and myriad other social issues our nation is facing, it is difficult for many Americans to justify a continued obsession with countering the "gay agenda." While anti-gay groups treat opposing the gay agenda as though it is the most important issue we are facing, the vast majority of Americans do not believe that it is.

First off, the efforts to "defend" marriage in California will cost upwards of $30 million, according to recent estimates. Many families, something that "family values" groups are supposed to be protecting, could benefit from that money. But are they? Defending marriage, of course, means changing state constitutions to prohibit two people of the same-sex from marrying. Okay. But once marriage has been "saved," then what? Surely, marriage would have to perpetually be defended against a gay invasion. At what point would groups that pride themselves on their family values begin to address the myriad of other problems affecting American families with a fraction of as much zeal as they devote to opposing homosexuality?

Why we should be concerned with "family values" groups that obsessively focus on homosexuality is that they are largely responsible, via their endless Action Alerts and anti-gay ballot initiatives, for distracting voters from real issues.

See, Americans are beginning to realize that even if they pass anti-gay amendments, the problems that actually affect them, their families, and society are still inconveniently lingering. These other "family" issues are sort of an 800-pound gorilla, ignored by "family values" groups, that stubbornly refuses to go away just because we have "defended marriage."

What are these other issues that affect families in real ways? While Peter LaBarbera believes that opposing homosexuality is a "titanic struggle for the soul of our nation," back on Earth 70% of Americans in a recent open-ended poll listed either the economy, jobs, war, health care, terrorism, or ethics in government as their single most important issue in choosing the next president. Other polls indicate that much larger percentages of Americans are more concerned with non-gay-related issues than they are with opposing everything gay.

In 2004, voters passed 11 of 11 constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, with a total of 26 bans in effect. Now that that's all settled in Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia and Kansas, I wonder how the families in these states are faring. Are their lives better? Are they "safer" now? How are all of those children about whom we are so concerned?

By many indicators, families in these (mostly) red states are faring worse than they were since our president, and the anti-gay "family values" chorus, opportunistically declared war on non-nucular families. Record numbers of American families are on food stamps, 47 million Americans lack health insurance, unemployment continues to hover at around 5% (compared to 4% 8 years ago), and the percentage of Americans losing their homes in foreclosures are much higher than they were last year. Disturbingly, I see little or no concern from "family values" groups about these indicators. The one constant is these groups' obsessive opposition to same-sex marriage. Don't have a job? Lost your house? It's clear that we should ban gay marriage!

Give me a break.

If our nation is indeed being ruined, it's not gay people who are doing the destroying. It's anti-gay hate groups and "family values" are because they insist on making an issue out of what is a non-issue. By obsessively blaming the gays and proposing simple-minded solutions to complex problems these groups are woefully out of touch with the realities most families are facing. But worse than that, they lack the ability to conceive of real solutions to real problems. In due time, I predict that these groups will be as irrelevant as Fred whatshisname's anti-gay hate church.

It's time that we, as Americans, stop falling for the lie that two legitimate sides to this alleged culture war exist. When it comes to tolerance versus hate, hate is not a viable alternative. And to say that opposing gay rights is the most important battle of our time is a sadly privileged and out-of-touch statement in a world brimming with very real human suffering.