Thursday, November 27, 2008

Florida paid a pretty penny for discredited work against gay adoption

Editor's note - May, 5, 2010 - In light of recent developments regarding Rekers and a male escort, it has come out that he (and a colleague- Walter Schum) were actually paid $87,000 to testify against gay adoption.

According to court records, the state of Florida paid former University of South Carolina professor George A. Rekers a $60,000 retainer to testify for the gay adoption ban.

Ironically, according to the same court documents, it is clear that Rekers’ testimony didn’t help the state’s case.

Court documents said:

Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.

Despite all of this, organizations on the right maligned Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman for her decision, calling her an “activist judge.”

Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel said:

"This judge is merely an ideological activist, and ideological activists have no reason to don a black robe and sit behind a bench and pontificate. This judge's decision should be overturned, and moreover, this judge should be voted out of office.”
Moreover, comments on right-wing sites such as One News Now and Free Republic questioned not only Lederman’s objectivity, but her sexual orientation in lurid terms.

The American Civil Liberties Union, in an excerpt of proposed findings to the court, criticized the state of Florida for using Rekers as an expert witness even after he had been discredited in a similar Arkansas case involving gay adoption.

In 2005, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy White ruled that the state did not have justifiable grounds to keep gays from adopting children.

The Arkansas court specifically said that “Dr. Rekers’ willingness to prioritize his personal beliefs over his functions as an expert provider of fact rendered his testimony extremely suspect and little, if any, assistance to the court” and "Dr. Rekers' personal agenda caused him to have inconsistent testimony on several issues."

That ruling led to a ballot initiative that was passed in November barring unmarried heterosexual and gay couples from adopting children.

Rekers would later sue the state of Arkansas for $200,00 for his testimony but settled out of court for $60,000.

About Rekers's testimony, the ACLU said, "The fact that the State resorted to hiring Dr. Rekers - and paying him a $60,000 retainer - despite the fact that he had already been severly discredited by another court in a similar case suggests an absence of credible experts who would testify in support of the prohibition against adoption by gay people."

What happened in Florida is nothing new. For years the religious right/anti-gay industry have brought in phony experts to push for anti-gay laws or stop the passage of pro-gay laws. If Lederman’s criticisms of Rekers sound familiar to you, then you obviously have read opinions about Paul Cameron. The two are almost interchangeable in their lies about the gay community.

According to a 1994 OutFront magazine article, the then Colorado Attorney General Gail Norton paid Paul Cameron over $15,000 in an effort to defend the state’s newly passed law outlawing gay rights ordinances. When Norton learned of Cameron’s dubious reputation, she did not use him or his “research.”

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in the same year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Liberty Counsel's ridiculous defense of Florida's gay adoption ban

Well that didn't take long.

I was waiting for a religious right group to answer back to yesterday's ruling in Miami,FL that the state prohibition on gay adoption was unconstitutional.

And leave it to the Liberty Counsel to push the talking points that will most likely been seen on The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes as well as World Net Daily, One News Now and everywhere else that the conservative/religious right echo chamber resonate. I am going to point out the parts I found "interesting":

Miami, FL – Today, an activist Miami State Court Judge ruled that a 1977 Florida law that bans homosexual adoption is unconstitutional. (First thing's first. Smear the judge for not ruling the way Liberty Counsel felt she should. According to the Liberty Counsel, she didn't rule objectively. Somebody put roots on her.)

Earlier this month voters in Arkansas passed a law which bans unmarried heterosexuals and homosexuals from adopting children. (Notice that turn of phrase. In legitimate articles, I have read this phrase to say "voters in Arkansas passed a law which bans unmarried couples, whether they be heterosexual or gay, from adopting children." The way the Liberty Counsel claims, it looks like the Arkansas law bans gays from adopting outright.)

In September, the Kentucky Court of Appeals strongly rebuked an activist lower family court for permitting a lesbian woman to illegally “adopt” her female companion’s child, in clear violation of both Kentucky law and the Kentucky Constitution. The higher court reaffirmed that in Kentucky, stepparent adoptions are only legal when the stepparent is married to a biological parent and that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. (This is true. The Kentucky Court of Appeals did say that stepparent adoptions are allowed only when the stepmother or father is married to the biological parent. But that has nothing to do with the Florida case. The Florida case deals with Frank Gill, a man who wanted to adopt two foster childen he had been raising for four years.)

Most states ban homosexual adoption through legislation, regulation, or court precedent. These states ban adoption by homosexuals because the best interest of children is served by placing them in homes with a mom and a dad or where there is a likelihood of a mom and a dad. A homosexual home automatically excludes one gender, either the mom or the dad. Only a handful of states actually permit homosexual adoption. (The big lie!!! In most states, the orientation of the potential adoptive parent is not an issue i.e. the state does not ask about orientation. Florida was the only state that outright banned gay adoption. However some states may be moving the way of Arkansas and making it difficult for lgbt couples to adopt children. One guess which organization will be helping to nudge them along.)

There is a vague mention of "studies" that show that the best place for a child is in a home with a mother and father.

This talking point is faulty for two reasons - 1. How many of these "studies" measured heterosexual households to same-sex households? From what I understand, none did.

2. Also, the talking point does not address the fact that across the nation, there is a waiting list filled with children waiting to be adopted. The notion that "children do best in a home with a mother and a father" is an empty talking point because it does not address the fact that these "homes" are not present to adopt these children.

Also - I noticed how the Liberty Counsel omitted the George A. Rekers testimony, probably because it was embarrassing to their side. Rekers testified for the ban and said that he would look into banning adoption for Native Americans.

Expect the religious right to try and not mention Rekers's testimony. Don't let them get away with it.

Now everyone can get on with their holiday travels and the like. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Florida's ban on gay adoption declared unconstitutional!!!!!!!!!!

Well what do you expect when you have such "experts" like George A. Rekers against it.

The story is here.

I am just waiting for the anti-gay industry/religious right to try and spin this one.

Yes boys and girls, just try and say that gays and lesbians should not adopt children. Especially after that remark from Rekers about Native Americans:

(Rekers) said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. ''They would tend to hang around each other,'' Rekers testified. ``So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are . . . doing the same sorts of things.''

Monday, November 24, 2008

We need to clarify the lies about the Proposition 8 'protests'

I wrote this as a sort of itemization of claims by the religious right. The unfortunate thing is that we don't have a network of pundits or shows (i.e. Fox network) to set the story straight.

There have been claims that due to the Proposition 8 vote, the gay community has undergone a coordinated plan of violence against those who voted for the law.

Senator Mike Huckabee, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, syndicated columnists such as Michelle Malkin and Thomas Sowell, and religious right organizations have referenced incidents that according to them, proves this assertion.

But all of these individuals are incorrect. The incidents in question have been either exaggerated or distorted.

Whatever the case may be, the incidents in question are isolated, and certainly are not indicative of the needs and desires of the gay community. However, for the sake of clarity, the complete story behind each incident must be given:

Distortion - For no particular reason other than their hatred, gays attacked a 69-year-old woman and ripped a styrofoam cross from her hand

Truth - The woman in question, Phyllis Burgess, is infamous in her area for invading gay events such pride festivals. While she has a right to attend, her behavior while at these events are clearly designed to draw attention and evoke a response. The incident in question had to do with her attending a silent protest over the passage of Proposition 8. People attending were asked to ignore her. However as television cameras appeared, she made it a point to push her way in the middle of the crowd, allegedly knocking over a disabled man. That only increased the volatility of the situation.

Source - Mike Tidmus

Distortion - A group invaded a Michigan church, pulled a fire alarm and disrupted services by taking over the pulpit, shouting obscenities in front of children, and engaging in all around nasty tactics.

Truth - According to area police, the church exaggerated the incident. No fire alarm was pulled. In addition, no one from the church told them about alleged events happening in the church.

Source - Michigan Messenger

Distortion: Members of the gay community mailed white powder to Mormon temples in Utah

Truth: It has not been determined who mailed the white powder (later to see shown as not dangerous) to the temples. While there may be reason to suspect, suspicion itself is not enough. Those who pushed this lie automatically blamed the gay community without proof.

Certainly the Proposition 8 vote was a highly emotional situation and no one is justifying any violence by anyone on either side of the issue.

But to exaggerate incidents and attempt to link them as a sort of plan by the gay community is incorrect. For the most part, the protests (especially in California) have been peaceful.

This is not the first time the religious right have taken unrelated incidents and tried to link them as some sort of “gay conspiracy to either hurt or silence Christians.”

In 2004, members of the group Repent America were arrested for during a pride parade in Pennsylvania. Religious right groups inaccurately claimed that they were arrested for “merely preaching the Gospel.” A federal court later found that members “insulted individual attendees, blocked access to vendors, and disobeyed direct orders from the police, who were trying to preserve order and keep the peace.” The police arrested the protesters only after “their presence disrupted public order.”

In 2005, parent David Parker was arrested at his son’s school in Massachusetts for trespassing. He and religious right groups inaccurately claimed that he was merely trying to shield his son from being “indoctrinated into homosexuality.” However Parker orchestrated the entire incident because he was upset over his son bringing home a book about differing families which contained only one family of a same sex nature.

In 2007, the religious right inaccurately claimed that the city of Oakland was discriminating against its Christian employees. However the case dealt with city officials merely telling a group of Christian employees to stop harassing a lesbian co-worker with the flyers of their religious organization.

It is clear that the religious right are scared of what positive impact an Obama Administration would have for the gay community. Therefore they are preparing distorted anecdotal evidence in an effort to hinder pro-gay legislation.

These specious tactics are unworthy of those who would call themselves Americans as well as Christians.

Note - I know I have omitted the incident in Castro but I am presently researching it via Mike Tidmus and Box Turtle Bulletin.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Pro-family' phony would consider banning Native Americans from adopting children

George Rekers considers himself a pro-family expert. He is a retired professor at the University of South Carolina who taught neuropsychiatry and behavioral science.

He also was a member of the founding board of the Family Research Council. In addition, he travels from state to state giving "expert testimony" on the subject of gay adoption.

Rekers was an expert witness in a 2004 case involving gay adoption in Arkansas. The state had banned gays from adopting in 1999. In January 2005, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy White ruled against the state of Arkansas. Furthermore, he called Rekers's testimony "extremely suspect." He also accused Rekers of testifying solely for promoting his "own personal agenda."

Of course we all know what that decision led to - one of the ballot initiatives that got us all upset .

Last week, Rekers was in Florida testifying in a case of a gay man wishing to adopt a 4-year-old boy and his 8-year-old brother.

Florida is the only state that bans all gay people from adopting. This fall, a Circuit Court judge in Key West declared Florida's ban unconstitutional, although the decision is unlikely to hold much sway because it was not appealed to a higher court. Since the state is fighting the gay man's attempt to adopt the two boys, a decision by the judge here to declare the law unconstitutional would be of far greater consequence (paragraph gleaned from the Miami Herald).

That being the case, the state of Florida called Rekers as an "expert witness" on the subject.

According the Miami Herald:

Gay men and lesbians have two to four times the likelihood of suffering from major depression, anxiety or substance abuse, based on several national studies, Rekers testified. Gay men, he said, are four times more likely than straight men to attempt suicide.

Depressed people, Rekers said, ''are less consistent in their parenting, less positive [and] have higher rates of neglecting child needs.'' Gay people, he added, ``would have less capability of providing the kind of nurturing and secure emotional environment for children.''

. . . Rekers said he would, in fact, favor banning anyone from adopting who had more than 18 ''sex partners'' during a lifetime. ''I think that would be a very good social policy,'' he said in a deposition.

He said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. ''They would tend to hang around each other,'' Rekers testified. ``So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are . . . doing the same sorts of things.''

Of course Rekers omitted the fact that the studies in question never said that the lgbt orientation was the reason behind the depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but rather the effects of having to deal with a homophobic society. And yes I could make a comment about his opinion of sexually active individuals.

I think it's more telling to focus on Rekers's bizarre assessment of the Native American community.

I see it as a huge Freudian slip not only on his part but on the part of those who have been touting the "pro-family" line all of these years.

What do you think?

UPDATE - Box Turtle Bulletin has added more details to this story. Apparently Rekers and the other "expert" who testified, Bob Schumm, are users of work from discredited researcher Paul Cameron.

This is exactly one of the points I was making in my entry, Message to the Religious Right:

. . . Where were you when over the course of 20 years all of those phony “pro-family” groups told lies in front of federal and congressional state houses in attempts to beat back pro-gay laws or spread discredited research . . .

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The religious right lies again - This time about 'Bash Back'

The "gays are threatening Christians and rioting in the streets' lie that have come from the religious right since the Proposition 8 vote is slowly but surely coming apart.

First they claim that gays attacked a 69-year-old woman and ripped a cross from her hand. But more details (I wrote a post about it two days ago) make the story a bit more complex.

Then they claimed that gays mailed suspicious white powder to Mormon temples in Utah. This was a blatant lie because no one determined just WHO mailed the white powder. To automatically blame the gay community for this was wrong.

Now comes the truth behind the "Bash Back" story.

According to the religious right and their cohorts (like Michelle Malkin), a radical gay group, Bash Back, invaded a church in Michigan, pulled a fire alarm, and disrupted services:

“Worshippers at a Bible-teaching church in Lansing, Mich., were stunned Sunday when members of a pro-homosexual, pro-anarchy organization named Bash Back interrupted their service to fling propaganda and condoms around the sanctuary, drape a profane banner from the balcony and feature two lesbians making out at the pulpit.”

To be clear, Bash Back is a wildcat group having nothing to do with the lgbt rights movement in general. Having said that, the following is what police say really happened:

Officials from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department and the Delta Township Fire Department are contradicting media reports about an anti-conservative protest held at a Lansing evangelical church last Sunday.

The protest — according to reports from the media, the church and the protesters — was held both inside and outside Mount Hope Church on Nov. 9, during which someone is alleged to have pulled a fire alarm inside the church.

However, a spokesman for the Delta Township Fire Department, which covers fire issues in the area, said today the department had not received any fire alarm calls nor did they respond to one in the area of the church on Sunday.

And what about those nasty acts inside the church:

Eaton County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Warder said that when two officers were called to the scene for “disorderly persons,” they found protesters on the public sidewalk.

“They were picketing,” Warder said. “The church security people came out, the pastor contacted the deputies and told us we want them off our property. We had to tell them they [the protesters] were on public property.”

After further discussion with protesters, it was determined some had parked in the church’s parking lot. Officers directed that the vehicles be removed from the lot, or the owners could face trespassing charges for retrieving them if police had to return. The protest broke up as a result of that, according to the sheriff.

Warder said that at no time did the church inform officers of the disruption inside the church and that no charges were filed. He also said that there was no criminal investigation and that the church had declined to file any formal complaints.

Mount Hope’s Williams declined to answer additional questions about the protest.

I will be placing the lie about this incident and others on my Anti-Gay Lies and Liars webpage. Next week, I intend to create a post detailing the lies behind these "evil gays are rioting" myths that the religious right are creating.

No doubt they are trying to create a talking point just in time for the Obama Administration in an attempt to derail any pro-gay legislation.

How convenient.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why do the religious right make the appropriate sound so nasty?

Thank you to all who read and spread my blog entry Message to the Religious Right to other blogs, their friends, and neighbors.

It was something that I felt needed to be said. I had no idea that it would have as much of an impact as it did.

But I am glad for it.

I do want to make something clear just in case I see my post as a religious right talking point (yeah I'm being presumptuous but never put anything past the religious right). In no way did I advocate violence of any kind in my post. I think I made it very clear when I said:

" . . .any display of violence on either side of the argument should never be tolerated."

And also when I talk about the religious right, I do not mean religious people in general. I do not mean Christians or anyone who thinks that homosexuality is a sin.

I respect these opinions. I may vigorously disagree but I respect them.

When I say the religious right, I mean the groups, organizations, and talking heads like the American Family Association, Americans for Truth (in name only), Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coaltion, Lou Sheldon, Peter LaBarbera, Robert Knight, Janet Porter, Matt Barber, Tony Perkins etc.

I am talking about the groups and folks who claim to be "pro-family" but have a very limited definiton of family. I am talking about groups who seem to think that James Dobson sits on the right hand of God and America belongs to them solely.

That's who I mean by the religious right.

Now some of the comments I have received have been supportive, some have been rude and others have been very thought-provoking.

The most annoying I have received embraces that old standby argument of capitulation, "you don't tolerate my intolerance so that makes you intolerant."

Before yesterday, my biggest annoyance used to be the song "One Bad Apple" by the Osmonds. Just the chorus was enough to make me cry in agony.

That has been replaced by the nonsense of folks who put up straw man arguments of the gay community as hypocrites simply because we dare to challenge someone's idea that we have no right to family and happiness.

The fact of the matter is there are things we should all be intolerant of; lies, dehumanization, and making the unknown seem like boogeymen.

Like the following from my friend P. LaBarbera:

President-Elect Obama Lays Out Pro-Gay Agenda President-elect Barack Obama is committed to creating special rights for homosexuals and trampling on traditional marriage. He laid out his agenda on his Web site []:

Expand hate-crimes legislation (which would create a new category of crime for actions said to be motivated by bias toward a person’s actual or perceived “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Sexual-orientation hate-crimes laws have been used to prosecute speech in the U.S. and abroad);

Support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (which would create special rights based on an employee’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and could force Christian employers to hire against their religious beliefs);

Oppose a federal marriage-protection amendment;
Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (which would open the door to forcing all 50 states to recognize same-sex “marriage”)

Expand gay adoption (which would leave vulnerable children without either a mom or a dad);
Repeal the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (which would jeopardize military readiness by allowing open homosexuality in the armed forces).

And here I thought Barack Obama was a man who was elected president and therefore is interested in helping folks. Peter makes him sound like Baron Samedi conjuring up zombies.

Why don't we see what President Obama really wants to do:

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

Why does Peter have to use such spooky language? And better yet, what's wrong with Obama wanting to do these things?

Lastly, why can't the religious right use concrete evidence. I mean it. I want to hear a clear argument as to why these goals are bad.

And I don't mean phony talking points about the "uniqueness of families" or stupid comparisons between marriage and chocolate chip cookies. No fear stories about innocent boy scouts being led into the woods by leering scoutmasters. No anecdotes that are distorted and taken out of context. And above all, no phony studies.

Based on Peter's comments, I am sure the religious right will use the above examples in their attempts to stop Obama from implementing his plans.

And it will be more proof regarding their lack of a soul.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remembering our fellow brothers and sisters

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Rather than dwelling on manufactured martyrs (see my post below), let's take this time to commemorate and honor the true victims of hatred.

You won't see Michele Malkin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, or the phonies at One News Now speak out about these folks.

So it's our job, as it should be.

Go here for more information.
Not attacking that 69-year-old woman but there is more to the story

The story of Phyllis Burgess, the 69-year-old woman who had a confrontation with a crowd of anti-Proposition 8 folks is making its way through the blogsphere.

Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich referenced it in their television interviews and now Michelle Malkin is talking about it in her syndicated column:

In Palm Springs, a videographer filmed unhinged anti-Prop. 8 marchers who yanked a large cross from the hands of 69-year-old Phyllis Burgess and stomped on it.

That behavior was uncalled for but there is more to the story than a lot of people are willing to tell. I found the following on Mike Tidmus's site. He investigated the incident after seeing it on P. LaBarbera's site:

Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, renown gay porn aficionado, and ersatz critic of the queer equality movement, recently posted an article about an incident at an otherwise peaceful, Palm Springs candlelight vigil on the Friday following the passage of Proposition 8.

From Americans for Truth about Homosexuality:

Dear Readers, here’s more evidence that homo-fascism is coming out of the closet following the triumph of Proposition 8, which simply restores the traditional definition of marriage in California. “Gay” activists now rail against ANY opposition to their agenda as “hateful.” Watch this video from Palm Springs, California — a notorious homosexual Mecca. Note the anchorman’s politically correct summation, as if the “hate” on the video really came from “both sides”! Beneath the video is more background on this latest “gay” outrage; note that a commercial precedes the online video news story.

Here’s the report on this incident in The Desert Sun:

A candlelight service to protest the state’s recently enacted gay marriage ban turned hostile Friday night when a woman carried a cross into the crowd.

The crowd chanted, “Go home!” “Nazi!” and “Shame on you!” as organizers pleaded with the crowd to ignore the woman.

“God has given me a message, a word for all of us and it’s fidelity,” said Phyllis Burgen, a Palm Springs supporter of the gay marriage ban.

“I have a right to be here.”

The crowd saw things differently, pressed in on Burgen, ripped the cross from her hands and stomped on it. In the rush, protesters pushed one another and Burgen, who said she would not press charges although she was bruised in the exchange.

LaBarbera has removed the beginning of the second paragraph from the article that reads:

But as Phyllis Burgen, a Palm Springs supporter of the gay marriage ban, walked through the gathering with her cross, the crowd chanted, “Go home!” “Nazi!” and “Shame on you!” as organizers pleaded with the crowd to ignore the woman.

LaBarbera also fails to provide a link to the source,, which incorrectly identifies Phyllis Burgess as “Phyllis Burgen.” What else does LaBarbera omit? Key points from the article, including this:

As reported on, organizers had planned a quiet service with speeches from elected officials to rally support after a disappointing loss at the polls. In May, the California Supreme Court ruled the gay marriage ban overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2000 was unconstitutional.

The article ends with this paragraph:

At the close of the event, participants snuffed out their candles to symbolize the passage of the same-sex marriage ban extinguishing gay civil rights.

LaBarbera provides a video segment of the aftermath of the incident in which Phyllis Burgess is shouted down by attendees of the event that Ms Burgess had just interrupted.

LaBarbera fails to note that another local TV news crew was on the scene conducting a live interview when Burgess pushed her way through the crowd, plastic cross in hand, to get the attention of the film crew. That video, from KESQ TV can be seen here.

According to an eyewitness iReporter:

At City Hall a woman with a huge styrofoam cross appeared screaming about YES on 8 at the back of the crowd of NO on 8 supporters — their rally. She wanted to get to where the speakers were up front and I saw her knock a disabled man, a NO on 8 supporter to the ground, screaming, “Get out of my way!” People in the crowd around her tore away her cross and threw it to the ground and began pushing her.

If you study the video from KESQ, you’ll see Ms Burgess emerge, not from the sidelines, but directly through the middle of the crowd. You’ll also note that the news anchor recognizes Burgess, because this is not Burgess’ first visit to an anti-Prop-8 event. She showed up to protest five days earlier at the Palm Springs Gay Pride Parade.

KESQ describes that appearance:

There is always two sides to every debate. Among the thousands against Prop 8, there are a few supporters fighting back with yes signs.

“They don’t see the sanctity in male-on-male or female-on-female,” says Phyllis Burgess, Prop 8 supporter.

Those against the ballot issue didn’t take kindly to the protestors displays.

“I was amazed with the hatred,” says Burgess.

Amazed with the hatred, but eager to get on TV again, Burgess came back and butted into a candlelight service intended to heal the community’s grief and anger over the passage of Prop 8.

Phyllis Burgess declined to press charges on 7 November, even though Lt Dennis Graham of the police department spent 40 minutes trying to persuade her to file a complaint.

According to, “the 69-year-old Palm Springs resident originally declined to press charges when asked by police and joked that she felt lucky — that at least she didn’t lose her wig in the tussle like Cloris Leachman did on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”

Then suddenly four days later on 11 November, Phyllis Burgess was eager to press charges. What could have happened in the meantime to change her mind? Phone call from the Alliance Defense Fund? Thomas More Law Center? Liberty Counsel? We may never know.

Incomplete mischaracterizations of the incident, along with accusations of “homo-fascism”spread like wildfire across right wing blogs, online forums like FreeRepublic, and radical religious right news sources like WorldNetDaily and OneNewsNow.

What has subsequently not been widely reported is that, following an apology from one gay man, Phyllis Burgess has opted not to seek assault charges. She also acknowledged contacting officials prior to her controversial intrusion at the candlelight vigil, and Ms Burgess now says “she would support ’some sort of marriage’ for those in a committed relationship.”

Like I said, I do not condone attacking anyone, but there is more to the story than Malkin and her cohorts are willing to admit.

You see folks, this is how lying is done. Enhance one part of your yarn while omitting crucial details. It happened with the Repent America controversy, it happened with the David Parker controversy.

And it is happening again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are the religious right the black community's best friend? Hardly

The religious right seem to be caught between two narratives in trying to define the argument over Proposition 8.

To them, we are either rampaging invaders or, as Mike Huckabee tried to press on the View today, trying to steal the legacy of the African-American civil rights movement.

I think that as time goes on, we are going to hear more about gays trying to steal the legacy of the civil rights movement. And I hope we don't fall for the trap. The narrative needs to be about US, not about how our movement for dignity and self-determination compares with movements of the past.

The narrative needs to be about how we are deprived HERE and NOW.

I really don't think that some African-Americans will be convinced about the similarities between our movements. And that is okay for me.

As long as these folks understand that gays should be able to work, have the ability to create families, and be free from crimes done against us because of our orientation, it is okay with me.

I am not trying to shake anyone away from their historical plateau nor do I want a piece of their heritage. I just want my own.

But this rush to "defend" African-Americans by the religious right has got me thinking.

Just what has the religious right done for the African-American community?

My fellow black brothers and sisters who are so intent on protecting their heritage from the supposed onslaught of lgbts need to take a good look at those pretending to be their friends.

When has James Dobson, Peter LaBarbera, Lou Sheldon or any of them has done anything to speak out against racial disparities in education, health care, the criminal justice system, or any of the systematic things done to pull down the black community?

True, they harp on religious similarities, but have they ever kicked in any cash when it comes dealing with the above issues?

I would suggest that before anyone in my black community allows the religious right to become their defenders, they take a good look at these folks:

See how they give aid and comfort to Jesse Jackson obsessed minister Jesse Lee Peterson who once said about the victims of Hurricane Katrina:

"When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out. This, as we know, did not turn out good results. . . ."

See how they laud people like Alan Keyes who is presently working to disenfranchise the African-American community's choice as president via some silly lawsuit

Read how wannabe ally Peter LaBarbera called a racist Anti-Semite a "pro-family advocate."

Go to One News Now and read how this supposed Christian service speculated that blacks would riot if Obama did not win. As a matter of fact, count how many blatant anti-Obama articles the news services carries on a daily basis.

Read comment after comment of their supposed Christian readers:

I work in downtown Baltimore and lately have seen many people wearing t-shirts that read, "Obama 2008 Or Else!" Or else what? Riots? Disruptions? Terrorism American style? What if he is elected? Are we going to pay either way? Who is going to pay? Only white Americans or anyone who doesn't believe or embrace your views? I think that it is ridiculous that after all these years every single white American is being held responsible for the sins of slave traders and anyone else who wronged another because of race. My forefathers were abused and enslaved by Germans...does that make every ancestor of German descent evil in my eyes? No, nore should it. I hold people responsible for their own actions, not the actions of their ancestors. The world has gone mad!

I don't understand this. What ever happened to winning based upon your qualifications NOT the color of your skin? And if you lose, why do your supporters automatically use the RACE card as an excuse for acting rudely and violently against others? This should not be about race, this should be about the best candidate for the job winning. Obama should be telling these people to knock it off NOW and channel their energies in another direction for the GOOD of America. He is wrong for not controlling this NOW before the election occurs. If he wants to UNITE America like he says, this is a GREAT place to start. Put his money where his mouth is. You won't see him doing this since he doesn't want to "offend" his supporters! You don't see McCain's supporters making the same threat if McCain loses! Wake up America!

I find it unbelievable that the black community would support Obama to the point of being terrorists in our own nation. And I do not understand how they (blacks) can support a man whose ideologies slaps them right in the face. Barrack supports abortion; ergo Planned Parenthood of which their charter targeted eliminating or reducing the black population. Finally, I disagree with one commentor that a McCain presidency will destroy this country. It is in fact our continued spiral into the depths of immorality of pro-death and the anti-natural family faction that will destroy this country. And the candidate that most represents a continued spiral into this immoral goo is Barrack Obama.

Oh...okay...lets vote for Obama because there "might be" a race riot if he doesn't win. Sounds logic.

Are these groups and individuals going to be suddenly anointed as black people's best friends and defenders?

God, I hope not.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Message to the religious right - this isn't just about marriage, it's about history

I keep hearing all of this nonsense about us lgbts attacking people, about us using intimidation and violence to oppress people, about us somehow being ugly aggressors. Newt Gingrich (who wrote the book on deceptive messaging during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives) actually accused us of being "secular fascists." Gingrich's attack on us seem to be the prevailing theme with those on the other side of the Proposition 8 argument.

And I think there needs to be some historical perspective on this matter.

 True, Proposition 8 has galvanized our community. We have become a bit more politically engaged in our anger. That is a good thing. However, any display of violence on either side of the argument should never be tolerated.

Nor should letting the religious right frame the moment. I have a few questions to people like Newt Gingrich, Bill O’Reilly, Chuck Norris, Gary Bauer, Peter LaBarbera and the rest who are trying to push this "gay intimidation" image.

Where were you in the late 1970s when Anita Bryant accused us of trying to “recruit” children?

Where were you in 1983 when Paul Cameron accused gay men of stuffing gerbils up our rectums and castrating children? Or afterwards when he went from state to state pushing his phony research papers all designed to make us the boogiemen of American society?

Where were you when Jerry Falwell exploited the AIDS crisis to generate more money for the Moral Majority? Or when those dying of AIDS were cast out of their communities and excommunicated from their churches?

Where were you when Colorado passed that law in 1992 that basically said cities in the state had absolutely no right to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination?

Where were you when over the course of 20 years all of those phony “pro-family” groups told lies in front of federal and congressional state houses in attempts to beat back pro-gay laws or spread discredited research that gave “upstanding, moral” families the perfect excuse to put their gay sons and daughters out on the cold streets?

Where were you when organizations like Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coalition, and Focus on the Family unconsciously gave reasoning for groups of roaming thugs to bash our heads in, chase us out in heavy traffic, beat us to bloody pulps with nail embedded boards, and hang us from fences on dark and lonely roads?

How is it that you can dare call us aggressive when for over 30 years, you have done everything in your power to make America hate and fear us?

How it is that you can dare infer that we don't have a right to get just a tad angry when for over 30 years, you have done everything in your power to make us hate and fear ourselves?

Every lie, every indignity, every attempt to dehumanize the lgbt community has brought us to this point. The Proposition 8 vote was the last straw in a chain of indignities that stretch as long as Jacob's ladder.

This ain’t just about marriage. Nor is this a single moment in time.

We are not the aggressors. We are learning to fight back.

When I was coming out, it wasn’t the fact that I was gay that bothered me more than the knowledge that so many had already written my life for me; told me who I was, what I liked, what I didn’t like, and even where I was going after I died. Worst of all, they had the nerve to tell me that I had absolutely no rights to the words "values," "family," "tradition," or "honor."

 And you know what the saddest thing about this is? I was not alone.

Hundreds of thousands of lgbts went through the same experience. It was our "rite of passage." So while I may not have a media spin machine behind me and therefore very few will give a damn about what I say, while I may not be a member of a religious think tank who is presently working to use this moment to again dehumanize lgbts, and while I may not be considered as a "leading gay talking head," I am an American, a human being, and a child of God.

Therefore, I will never forget what has brought me to this point of outrage. And I will do my best to make sure that this country never forgets either. Lastly, I will do my best to make sure that YOU never forget.
Chuck Norris exposes his ignorance and the hypocrisy of the other side

Apparently we got actor Chuck Norris upset over our protests this weekend:

Of course, activists say they are merely utilizing their political freedoms and rights, but, the fact is, I see a lot of sore losers who are intolerant of any outcome but the one they desire. Some are acting like toddlers who throw a temper tantrum until they get their way. Are they fighting for their rights or at last showing true colors of intolerance against anyone who believes contrary to them?

That "they say they are tolerant but they are intolerant of my intolerance so that makes them intolerant" argument seems to be a popular one. It is one of the religious right's most effective.

But rather than roll my eyes from hearing that faulty argument yet another time, rather than make fun of Norris's acting career (which I won't because I loved Walker: Texas Ranger when Norris didn't get all preachy), I think it would be best to expose Mr. Norris's hypocrisy:

There have been many of us who have passionately opposed an Obama election, but you don't see us protesting in the streets, crying out unfair – rather we are submitting to a democratic process and now asking how we can support "our" president.

It is obvious that Mr. Norris doesn't pay attention to the publication in which his article appears, World Net Daily. Check out the headlines of the articles featured today in World Net Daily:

Communist Party strategist maps out Obama's agenda
Powerful unions, socialized medicine 1st crucial steps for long-term plans

'Constitutional crisis' looming over Obama's birth location
Alan Keyes lawsuit warns America may see 'usurper' in Oval Office

The enemy within (Editor's note - Yes this is another piece comparing Obama to Hitler)

Obama blockbuster: 'Audacity of Deceit' $4.95 today!
Save $21 on stunning blueprint for the new White House agenda

Obama camp: Lawsuits by citizens are 'garbage
'Legal challenges spring up across U.S., demand proof of eligibility for office

So much for supporting the new president. If Chuck Norris and his cohorts support Obama, then I'm secretly Paris Hilton undercover as a black gay man in order to write a Harvard thesis on racism and quantum physics.

Mr. Norris, do everyone a favor. Go back to making testosteroned driven television dramas and leave the deception to Peter, Matt, Janet, and company.

At least when they do it, they don't automatically come out looking like a horse's ass.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

South Carolina helps to make an impact

Close to 200 people came out in Columbia, SC to protest the Proposition 8 vote. It was an awesome thing to see.
These are just pictures that were taken by Jennifer Sigman.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Use your heads, folks. The religious right is watching us.

Tomorrow is the day, folks - Join the Impact - keep it nonviolent and love-filled.

Today, my favorite anti-gay spokesperson (who am I kidding, I love 'em all) Matt Barber gave his "opinion" on Proposition 8.

According to Barber, my community is calling for wanton acts of violence. Strange because I didn't get that memo.

The funny part about Barber's screed is him running defense for black folks:

Don’t compare your sin to my skin," goes the African-American mantra. Or, as influential black pastor Ken Hutcherson notes, "It has been said loudly and proudly that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. If that’s the case, then gays would be the new African-Americans. I’m here to tell you now, and hopefully for the last time, that the gay community is not the new African-American community."

Understandably, blacks want all this nonsense to stop. Exit polls indicate that in the Democratic stronghold of "left coast" California, African-Americans - 96 percent of whom voted for Barack Obama - also voted to pass California’s marriage protection amendment (Prop 8) by an overwhelming 70 to 30 percent. As luck would have it, the unprecedented turnout of black voters for Obama very likely tipped the scale and restored the enduring definition of natural marriage to the Golden State. This has made "gay" activists mouth-foaming furious.

What's funnier? That Barber calls Hutcherson "influential" or that he is speaking for the African-American community.

Black folks who complain about gays appropriating the civil rights movement should really pay attention to Barber and his cohorts.

Just when did they ever speak out about education, inner-city violence or the other problems that face African-American community.

Maybe black folks would be best served not to pay as much attention to lgbts but to those claiming to be their friends.

A perfect example of what I am talking about is this lovely piece Barber also wrote about President-Elect Barack Obama:

Obama Vows Blood for Bloodshed

Seriously though, Barber alluded to several unfortunate incidents in order to enhance his lies about gays rioting in the streets. He also take several comments from pro-gay blogs out of context It just goes to show how the religious right monitors our web pages and how we need to be on the ball about monitoring them.

So be careful folks. Put a kibosh on nonsense posted on your sites:

Barber issued a news release, cited at various right-wing Christian sites and GLBT sites alike, in which he claimed that gays were actively advocating that hate crimes targeting Christians be carried out.

Striking an incredulous tone, the news release declared that “several self identified homosexuals on a number of homosexual blogs are advocating violence against Christians and other supporters of traditional marriage.”

The release went on, “Additionally, some homosexuals are calling for church burnings in response to yesterday’s three state referenda in defense of natural marriage.”

The release then cherry-picked from various comments posted to GLBT Web sites such as Queerty and JoeMyGod.

One posting at Queerty called for readers to burn Mormon temples, with the blogger writing, “Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT.”

Responded Queerty, “No, don’t.”

Added Queerty, “First and foremost, violence solves nothing and obviously we don’t condone such thinking.

“Second, if people actually started attacking churches, it would do the gay rights movement a great disservice.

“We’re sure there are other ways to fight for our rights, like public protests, lawyers and other perfectly legal venues,” Queerty continued.

The religious right suggested that such expressions of anger be criminally prosecuted and tutted the gay community for asking for “tolerance,” only to post such commentary when their rights were taken from them by legal maneuvers and the use of the popular vote.

No such calls from the religious right for criminal prosecution have been noted in instances where right-wing bloggers suggested physical violence should be visited upon gays and lesbians.

The release also culled carefully excerpted text from blogger postings at JoeMyGod, including a comment that encouraged readers to “Burn their f-ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers.”

JoeMyGod responded by warning readers that, “The Christianists are monitoring this and other LGBT blogs and calling for the criminal prosecution of those calling for violent revenge against the religious right in the wake of yesterday’s vote on Proposition 8.”

Added JoeMyGod, “Please refrain from any possibly actionable calls to violence against our foul enemies and their property.

“There have been over 1000 comments today already, but I will go slog through them and remove any comments that might cause you legal repercussions, as remote as that prospect probably may be.”

At the right-wing religious site WorldNetDaily, a Nov. 5 article based on the release reveled in the claims made by Barber, who stated in the release that, “The homosexual lobby is always calling for ’tolerance’ and ’diversity’ and playing the role of victim.

“They claim to deplore violence and ’hate.’ Here we have homosexuals inciting, and directly threatening, violence against Christians.”

Added Barber, “This is not free speech; these are ’hate crimes’ under the existing definition.

“Imagine if Christian websites were advocating such violence against homosexuals. There’d be outrage, and rightfully so. It’d be national front-page news.

“Federal authorities should immediately investigate these threats and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

Given that federal authorities have not, to date, launched any extensive investigations of Christian and conservative Web sites for similar user-posted language against gays, that outcome seems unlikely.

In the release, Barber also encouraged GLBT leaders to encourage that threatening language not be employed by angry gays whose rights have been curtailed.

With Queerty and JoeMyGod having done so, it remains to be seen whether the Liberty Council and other right-wing Christian organizations will issue a similar call for civility to members of their own ranks.

And on the offchance that Barber and company is monitoring Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters (and ooooooooh I hope that they are):

Guys, you have a momentary victory here and a chance to exploit the rage and anger your nonsense has caused and continues to cause in the lgbt community.

But be forewarned. The day is coming that everything you have done; all of the times you have cited Paul Cameron (while knowing that his work was false), all the times that you have distorted legitimate studies (and ignored the authors when they complain), all the times you have written columns and gone on news programs distorting current events and controversies to suit your agenda; all of these things will come back on your head.

You claim to speak for God but the God I know doesn't like lies even if they are told in His name and He doesn't like ugly. If He is merciful , all the wrong things you have done will come out in the open.

And you will have no one to blame but yourselves.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I don't care what Elton John said about Proposition 8

But first, an interlude:

I see that the phony news service One News Now are hiring black columnists. First Thomas Sowell and now Larry Elder.

For the record, Elder and Sowell are two black conservatives whose opinions are bought and paid for with Republican money.

They are a part of a cadre of black conservative writers and thinkers who, as Joe Conason paraphrases, settles in a clique amongst themselves and whines as to why black people in general don't give a damn about their opinions.

One would think that they were hired to exploit the alleged Proposition 8 divide between the lgbt and black communities. However I doubt this.

We now have a black president and even before he was elected, One News Now was doing its best to paint him as the younger brother of the Anti-Christ, if not the Anti-Christ himself.

So now they are apparently hiring "black conservatives" who will do their dirty work on Obama, or at least give One News Now some form of cover when they do another anti-Obama hit piece.

Larry Elder's inital column is a perfect example of what I am talking about - They shilled for Obama

Now for the main course:

Singer Elton John has weighed in on the Proposition 8 controversy and he wasn't exactly nice to the Proposition 8 opposers:

"What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage."

Now some folks are upset over this. Those who support Proposition 8 are using his comments to further their cause.

But you know what? Regardless of what John would have said, even if his words were a forceful indictment of Proposition 8, I wouldn't have given a damn.

Does Elton John even live in California? Does he live in America?

Please understand that I am not trying to put down Elton John for voicing his opinion. But I just get sick and tired when our community flips out over the lastest verbal pronouncement of an lgbt celebrity.

I have seen it too many times before: a celebrity whom none of us really gave a care for comes out and all of the sudden, he or she is anointed as our new spokesperson and we hang on their every word as if he or she is Moses coming down from Mount Sinai.

You think we would have learned that lesson with Lance Bass.

Just because someone has a successful talk show, is a successful actor, or a successful entertainer is no reason to make them the new gay spokesperson.

The glare of visibility does not magically make someone golden nor does it make the words flowing from their mouths sound like tinkling brass.

I hate to say it but this automatic canonization of lgbt celebrities reveals a certain degree of laziness. We should not want our spokespeople to be like instant food where you just have to add water.

We need to build our spokespeople from our own personal communities. We need to mentor and educate those who can and will lead us into the future.

And not just the pretty boys or those who fit a successful social strata. Some of us unconvential divas with bad credit and low income can also shake the world up if we are given the tools and the chance.

So let's start building leaders from the bottom up rather waiting for them to come from the top down. (and that's my Obama reference for today).

And above all, let's stop getting ourselves in a knot over what Elton said or what Melissa said or what Ellen said.

I mean it!

I ain't playing, y'all! (and that's my Boondocks reference for today).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Proposition 8 fall out - Stop whining and stand behind your donations

There is a lot of fallout over the Proposition 8 vote. Those who did donate to pass that awful referendum are now facing the consequences of their actions. This is one that you no doubt already heard about:

California Musical Theatre's artistic director, Scott Eckern, resigned from his post today amid controversy over a donation he made to the Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage.

Eckern gave $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a donation that sparked criticism from theater workers and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

"We have released a statement that Scott resigned," said Chris McSwain, community affairs director for the theater company. He declined to comment further. . .

Eckern also released a statement today saying that he quit "after prayerful consideration to protect the organization and to help the healing in the local theatre-going and creative community."

To put it nicely, Eckern pissed off a lot of people, including Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q) and Marc Shaiman (Hairspray).

No doubt we will be inudated by the religious right who will wax about evil intolerant gay folks but please spare us your usual twists in logic.

You are the same folks who boycotted McDonalds and Ford Auto because of their supposed support of the "gay agenda."

I can only hope that in this juncture, the religious right won't be their usual hypocritical selves.

Eckern obviously thought that he could have it both ways; he can donate to a referendum that denies lgbts basic human rights but can also make money from the efforts of lgbts.

It's a classic case of what we learn as children about making choices. It was Eckern's right to make his donation but with his donations, like all things, there are consequences.

And in a general sense, I have no pity for anyone who suffers repercussions (albeit rational and logical repercussions) over their donations to Proposition 8.

If you as a business owner donated to Proposition 8, then you don't have the right to force angry lgbts to continue to cater to your business.

And you don't have a right to tell them that they cannot launch a boycott.

You only have the right to man up and stand by your donation.

If you can't then maybe you shouldn't have made said donation in the first place.
Thank you Nate Silver for saying what needs to be said

Certainly, the No on 8 folks might have done a better job of outreach to California's black and Latino communities. But the notion that Prop 8 passed because of the Obama turnout surge is silly. Exit polls suggest that first-time voters -- the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama (he won 83 percent [!] of their votes) -- voted against Prop 8 by a 62-38 margin.

More experienced voters voted for the measure 56-44, however, providing for its passage.Now, it's true that if new voters had voted against Prop 8 at the same rates that they voted for Obama, the measure probably would have failed. But that does not mean that the new voters were harmful on balance -- they were helpful on balance. If California's electorate had been the same as it was in 2004, Prop 8 would have passed by a wider margin.Furthermore, it would be premature to say that new Latino and black voters were responsible for Prop 8's passage.

Latinos aged 18-29 (not strictly the same as 'new' voters, but the closest available proxy) voted against Prop 8 by a 59-41 margin. These figures are not available for young black voters, but it would surprise me if their votes weren't fairly close to the 50-50 mark.

More here

Arkansas anti-gay adoption referendum may reap more problems than we realize

But while Californians march and gay activists contemplate a national boycott of Utah — the Mormon Church largely bankrolled Proposition 8 — an even more ominous new law in Arkansas has drawn little notice.

That state’s Proposed Initiative Act No. 1, approved by nearly 57 percent of voters last week, bans people who are “cohabitating outside a valid marriage” from serving as foster parents or adopting children. While the measure bans both gay and straight members of cohabitating couples as foster or adoptive parents, the Arkansas Family Council wrote it expressly to thwart “the gay agenda.” Right now, there are 3,700 other children across Arkansas in state custody; 1,000 of them are available for adoption. The overwhelming majority of these children have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their heterosexual parents.

Even before the law passed, the state estimated that it had only about a quarter of the foster parents it needed. Beginning on Jan. 1, a grandmother in Arkansas cohabitating with her opposite-sex partner because marrying might reduce their pension benefits is barred from taking in her own grandchild; a gay man living with his male partner cannot adopt his deceased sister’s children.

Social conservatives are threatening to roll out Arkansas-style adoption bans in other states. And the timing couldn’t be worse: in tough economic times, the numbers of abused and neglected children in need of foster care rises. But good times or bad, no movement that would turn away qualified parents and condemn children to a broken foster care system should be considered “pro-family.”

Most ominous, once “pro-family” groups start arguing that gay couples are unfit to raise children we might adopt, how long before they argue that we’re unfit to raise those we’ve already adopted? If lesbian couples are unfit to care for foster children, are they fit to care for their own biological children?

More here

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And it begins - One News Now and Peter LaBarbera attacks the transgender community

I said it yesterday in my blog post and today I see it is happening.

Let me recap.

The religious right are scared over an Obama presidency and the positive possibilities it may have for the lgbt community.

So expect them to batten down all of the hatches and pull out all of their lies about hate crimes legislation, gays serving openly in the military, ENDA, and non-discrimination ordinances in general.

With non-discrimination ordinances, they are going to try and exploit ignorance and fear about our transgender brothers and sisters.

I see from an item on LaBarbera's Americans for Truth (in name only) web page and the One News Now webpage, they aren't wasting any time:

Americans for Truth - Will big-boned men in dresses and high heels like this fellow be allowed to use women’s restrooms in federal buildings under the Obama Administration? That’s what Obama’s plan to create “rights” based on gender confusion might bring. Obama’s pro-transsexual agenda — he favors federal rights based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” — was never discussed or debated seriously in the election campaign.

One News Now - Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says Obama's new non-discrimination policy will be an "open door" for gender-confused and cross-dressing federal employees. "What's the Obama administration going to do to protect women in federal restrooms?" the activist asks. "Since men [wearing] dresses apparently are going to be protected under gender-identity provisions, what about the women in the restrooms in the White House and other federal buildings? What's going to be done to protect their rights?"

Apparently Obama's election has afforded Peter the privilege of getting around more than a whore on payday.

So expect us to hear more about the transgender community in lucid and ugly terms.

Oh brother.

Listen, the question here is not whether anyone approves with being transgender or not. So be careful not to let Peter and company turn it into that.

The question is should lgbts (and that includes transgendered brothers and sisters) be able to function and do their job without fear of discrimination.

And if Peter and company want to bring up the issue of bathrooms and such, let's make them be specific about it.

Starting now.

I know my blog preaches to the choir but just in case there are any opposition folks out there who read it, I dare you to challenge me on this point:

The bathroom issue is IRRELEVANT. The bathroom issue is a scare tactic brought up by the religious right. There has never a problem of women having to fear for themselves if someone transgendered used the bathroom.

And also, as I said yesterday, several cities (including my home city of Columbia, SC) has passed ordinances such as these. And there has NOT been any problems with bathrooms and the like.

Other than trying to exploit fear and ignorance, what concerns are reasonable about the bathroom argument?

I await your answer, even though I won't ever get it.

Peter is scared that he is being watched

Speaking of my friend LaBarbera, he has another interesting item on his webpage. Apparently a gay man wrote wannabe "Christian activist" and all-around nutcase Linda Harvey and said the following:

Comments: You are very much being watched! All you jeebus-lovin-christers rights will slowly be taken away one by one the more you try to press your beliefs down our throats. Beware. We are everywhere and you will never know it. Watch your mouth. Watch your actions. We are watching them my friend and we are many and we are rich and we are very well educated and very powerful.

Peter makes the comment sound ominous.

Oh please. Peter, I am watching you. I am watching Harvey. I am watching One News Now and the rest of the religious right.

Just like you watch us. Cause if you didn't, you wouldn't have any items to lie on us about.

Hell, Peter, you have made a career out of watching us and taking pictures no less.

For you to complain that a gay man has written saying that he is watching you or anyone else on your side is yet another sign of your hypocrisy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We are angry. Now what to do with that anger

Despite the past blogs regarding the Proposition 8 controversy, part of me is pleased with the lgbt community's anger.

It reminds of that soul song "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate." In the song, the protagonist's girlfriend endures hurt after humiliation from him until he goes too far.

Then she took it upon herself to take care of the situation.

Historically, the lgbt community are like that. We endure insult after insult until we get really angry. And when we do, people start shaking.

It's not because we get violent (we usually don't) but because we get infused with that fiersome clarity that always comes with white hot righteous indignation. When that happens, your mind develops a sort of tunnelvision that, if used right, is like a cleansing fire that not only overwhelms everything in its wake, but also gives your enemies the realization that maybe this time, they have gone too far.

It's taking us a little time and despite the minor roadblock we have to deal with (i.e. the Proposition 8 blame game), the lgbt community is reaching that point of fiersome clarity.

It happened after the Anita Bryant/Dade County vote, it happened after the 1992 Colorado anti-gay discrimination vote and it's happening now.

But the question is where will it lead. I like the fact that our community is channeling Howard Beale from the motion picture Network (i.e. "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"), but we need to take things into account.

These things are the difference between us running our anger out in useless sparks of wildcat rage and using the anger to become a disciplined united force:

1. We now have a president and a Congress who are a little more gay-friendly than the ones we have had to deal with in recent years. That being the case, we have a good chance of passing ENDA, hate crimes legislation, as well as legislation allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

2. The religious right is still out there. They still have the power to motivate on the basis of ignorance, albeit on a smaller scale. In other words, they are still dangerous.

How the lgbt community handles the second issue will determine how much success we will have with the first issue.

We need to have a real assessment of what the religious right can and will do - their strengths so so speak.

Allow me to offer up an opinion on the matter.

1. Expect to see and hear more lies regarding the transgender community.

2. Expect to hear more anecdotes about how the "gay agenda" is being marketed to children or how gays want to silence Christians. The religious right definition of an anecdote is a current event taken out of context (i.e. lies about parents getting arrested for "standing up against the gay agenda," people arrested for "simply preaching the gospel' at a gay pride festival," pastors arrested for "simply preaching against homosexuality").

I would suggest to combat this, we pre-develop talking points like the following:

Religious right - Hate crime laws are an excuse for pastors to be arrested in their pulpits for speaking against homosexuality.

Truth - Hate crime laws deal with violent action, not speech. Also there are already hate crime laws regarding religion and race. They aren't causing a problem, so why would a protection on sexual orientation cause a problem?

Religious Right - But a pastor in Sweden was arrested for speaking out against homosexuality.

Truth - Well that was Sweden. America has different laws regarding speech. Also, the pastor in question (i.e. Ake Green) was acquitted of the charges.

Religious Right - ENDA will force churches to hire drag queens to teach nurseries, as well as "she-males" and 300 pound linebackers with five o'clock shadow and make up.

Truth - Churches are exempt from ENDA. Also, don't you think your examples are a little extreme? What the heck is a "she-male?"

Religious Right - Non-discrimination ordinances will allow men to come into ladies rooms and locker rooms. All they have to say is "I feel like a woman."

Truth - That is a huge stretch. This sort of activity is not covered by non-discrimination ordinances. Also, several cities, including Columbia, SC , have passed these ordinances and there have been NO problems.

One more thing.

I think the possible exploitation of disagreements between the black and lgbt community may be a blessing in disguise. If anything, it challenges us to define the battle on our terms and not that of history. Forget historical relevance. Let the historians worry about that.

Our concern is not how our movement compare with the marches on Selma or Birmingham or the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the March on Washington.

I say we break out the facts and figures. Just how many children are in foster care and will not have a family because of a ban on gay adoption? How many sorely needed linguists have been dismissed due to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" How many lgbts fear reprisal at their job for simply putting up a picture of their loved ones?

Our concern is making sure Bobby or Sue can go to school without fear of being beaten up for their orientation.

Our concern is that Bobby or Sue are not prohibited from being all they can be at their jobs or prohibited from starting a family due, not to facts, but someone's "deeply held ignorance" regarding sexual orientation.

Our concern is that Bobby or Sue are not brainwashed by a self-actualizing dichotomy that tells them that they have no other recourse as lgbts other than to act hedonistic because they are not worthy of the words "values," "morality," or "family."

In other words, this battle is not about why lgbts should have our rights, but why should anyone dare to keep them from us.

Let's use all of our anger to make that the focus of the so-called cultural war.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What a week, what a week

First let's get the trifling mess out of the way. This is important because it illustrates the points I was making yesterday and the day before:

N-Word Hurled at Blacks During Westwood Prop 8 Protest

Not that this wasn't expected. The recent passage of California's Proposition 8 has exposed some of the latent racism of many within the LGBT community—instigated in part by many in the e-telligentsia such as proto-racist Andrew Sullivan and columnist Dan Savage. Unfortunately the "blame the blacks" meme is being commonly accepted by some so-called "progressive" gay activists. A number of Rod 2.0 and Jasmyne Cannick readers report being subjected to taunts, threats and racist abuse at last night's marriage equality rally in Los Angeles.

Geoffrey, a student at UCLA and regular Rod 2.0 reader, joined the massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice.

It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. YOU NIGGER, one man shouted at men. If your people want to call me a FAGGOT, I will call you a nigger. Someone else said same thing to me on the next block near the and my friend were walking, he is also gay but Korean, and a young WeHo clone said after last night the niggers better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was BEST for them.

Pam Spaulding gives her take on the situation:

The backlash is upon us, and it's going to get uglier unless our organizations step forward and say something. The desire to scapegoat blacks for Prop 8's defeat has exposed the now not-so-latent racism in our movement.

I have already blogged a lot about why the lack of effective communication (and I'm not even talking about outreach on gay issues to socially conservative blacks) between white people in general and people of color. That dearth of understanding and mutual respect for difference, and lack of desire to seek common ground through personal relationships ultimately leads to what we are seeing here.

The great irony over this entire thing is this item I found on PageOneQ:

San Francisco ranks 53 of 59 counties in voter turnout

San Francisco, considered by many to be the "gay capital" of the United States (perhaps the world), ranked close to the bottom of California counties in terms of turnout for Tuesday's general election, PageOneQ has learned. The balloting included Proposition 8, an effort to repeal marriage equality in the state. The proposition passed, making California the first state to affirm, then revoke, equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Personally I think the behavior of some lgbts, especially some lgbt bloggers, have been extremely irresponsible in pushing this mess up. And it brings a point to my mind.

Everyone wants to win but you have to sometimes learn how to lose. Losing shows your true character and if you can't lose with humility then don't count on winning because you will never win.

In other words, stop acting like a bunch of dumbasses. Wipe away your tears, fix your faces, and get ready to work.

But I am still in a good mood. For one thing, other leaders in the lgbt community have come out speaking against these racist actions.

For another thing, I don't think its over. Everyone seems to forget that in 1992 even with the election of Bill Clinton, Colorado passed an amendment that forbad the state from protecting lgbts from discrimination.

The Supreme Court overturned it two years later.

So we may be on the losing end now but we will win in the end.

And lastly:


I can't help being reminded of the movie Blazing Saddles (an excellent anti-p.c. comedy that still holds up) in which a racist white town received a black sheriff.

Naturally they treated him like shit until a monstrous villain (Mongo) invaded the town.

Forgetting all of their ugliness, the townspeople begged the sheriff to take care of the situation, which he did with a lot of aplomb.

What does that tell me? After so many years treating the black man like shit, America is now turning to him to help it through one of the most turbulent times in this country's history.

And I have faith that like that sheriff in Blazing Saddles, Obama is going to come through with flying colors.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lift that barge, tote that bale, drive that wedge

Unfortunately as the lgbt community tries to deal with losing in California, ugliness is prevailing.

The scuttlebutt seems to be that the African-American community overwhelmingly supported the anti-gay marriage equality amendment.

Now the blogsphere on the left is filled with comments by some angry lgbts over this.

Part of me can say that I understand their anger. But I won't.

I simply will not give an ounce of sympathy. And here is why:

I live in South Carolina. When the marriage amendment hit us, nobody gave a damn because everyone figured that South Carolina was so homophobic, it wasn' t worth worrying about.

I guess what happened in California proves that not only your silence but your location will NOT protect you.

When we lost, we got demoralized but we got back up again and got united. We assessed why we lost and are better because of it.

All I can say in this matter is don't let your anger make you say things that are counterproductive and stupid - like the threats I read on the Queerty site. Very nice guys - you really did something special. Now Peter Labarbera and Matt Barber can plead victimhood for days.

I am of the opinion of Pam Spaulding. She wrote an excellent piece on how the defeats should make lgbts deal with the issue of race in their community:

For those of us who are black and gay, a group too often marginalized within a marginalized community, I see this as a clear signal to the LGBT advocacy community. There hasn't been enough outreach to those groups who voted against us. We haven't reached them; there hasn't been enough effort expended.

I've been blogging for years about the need to discuss race in regards to LGBT issues. I hope that this is now the wakeup call for our "professional gays" out there who represent us to come out of their comfort zones and help bridge this concrete education gap. The belief that white=gay is big part of the problem, and as long as black LGBTs are invisible in their own communities and there is a dearth of color in the public face of LGBT leadership, the socially conservative black community can remain in denial that I exist as a black lesbian.

This is a teachable moment people, so hush up and learn. The religious right is going to use your anger to drive a wedge where there should be a bridge.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The day after - the bad stuff and a challenge to the lgbt community

To those who fought the good fight in Arkansas, Florida, California, and Arizona, don't get discouraged. The battle ain't over yet.

But something needs to be said to my lgbt brothers and sisters at large.

So many in the lgbt movement want to adopt the terminology of the African-American civil rights movement because we are captivated by the visible aspect of this movement, i.e. the rallies, the marches, the speeches.

But we need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are not nor will we ever be like that movement. Certainly there are similarities, but we get so entranced by what happened back then that we don't seem to have perspective.

Black folks back then had to march and rally. Visibility was, at times, all they had. The lgbt struggle is different in that we have more tools for success. But we aren't taking advantage of them.

For example:

How many of you are familiar with Paul Cameron and how his bad research tactics influences religious right claims about lgbts?

How many of you know the name of the so-called pro-family group in your area? Do you know their leader or the policy issues they are pursuing now or will pursue in the future?

How many of you are mobilized to fight said iniatives should they come up against the lgbt community in the future? For example, I suspect the Arkansas success against gay adoption is going to cause a groundswell of the same type of legislation in other states.

Before you answer, let me tell you what the other side does.

They study us daily. They read our web pages and listen to our spokespersons in anticipation of getting an advantage that they can use against us. But mostly, they plan and strategize behind the scenes.

That is the reason for their continued ability to mobilize, exploit fear and ignorance even in the face of an electoral defeat, and keep a lock on the words "morality," "values," and "truth."

And us? Some of us (please notice that I did not say all of us) wait until we are threatened by ballot initiatives before we mobilize and concentrate on the enemy.

Some of us wait until our leaders (or celebrities, I get the two mixed up) comment on an issue before we give a damn.

Some of us think that it is more important to focus on the alleged sexual orientation of a legislator's son rather than the fact that the said legislator is using incredibly bad studies and research to demonize the lgbt community.

Some of us will give the religious right a pass when they distort studies and refer to discredited studies because we don't want to play "gotcha games."

And some of us get so filled up with righteous indignation that we don't channel it at the religious right but at our own and why? Because someone used the wrong semantics; i.e. slipped up and said "civil unions" instead of "marriage."

In other words, we are a community with much potential but right now, we are a hot mess.

And hot messes don't win ballot initiatives or elections.

The following tips are merely my opinion as to what we should do next:

1. Get away from the African-American civil rights movement terminology. Certainly we should use it as a blueprint but we should also be trying to establish our own style in fighting for our rights.

2. Educate yourselves about the religious right. Look at their arguments and study their talking points. Develop talking points to counter them and above all, call them out when they lie. Don't be afraid to say that they are distorting certain arguments. And keep on them when you do. Be as tenacious as a pitbull. Make them explain themselves.

3. Keep the passion we have but let's channel it in the right direction. We basically want the same thing but our community has diverse opinions as to how to reach our goals. Yelling at each other over semantic points only hurts us.

4. Don't wait for things to happen. Anticipate. Or hell, create. A letter to the editor over a bad talking point/study or a blogger alert does wonders in getting the conversation talked about on our terms

5. Don't rely on visibility for visibility's sake and avoid the lure of transient empowerment.

6. Don't wait for Ellen, Rosie, or T.R. to say something. Look for lgbt heroes and spokespeople in your own areas. They are out there.

Like I said, this is just my opinion, but that's what I think we need to go next.