Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On JoeMyGod June 29, 2016

Mat Staver Slams Churches That Reacted To Orlando With Kindness: It Was A Homosexual Love Fest

Kyle Mantyla reports at Right Wing Watch:
Staver went on to lament that some churches turned memorial gatherings following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando into a “homosexual love fest.”
“Even in the situation following what happened in Orlando,” he said, “churches got involved and they led in some cases and in other cases they followed and they ultimately allowed that situation, instead of an opportunity to pray, some of them allowed it to be a homosexual love fest. That’s not something that we need to celebrate, this is a tragedy that is against all Americans.”
Co-host Matt Barber then joined in to fault gay-friendly Christians because they are “disobeying Christ, are actually running afoul of God and Jesus in the context of the marriage debate and are siding with the Prince of the World who is trying to redefine marriage.”
“Believe me, this idea of gay marriage didn’t come from God, it didn’t come from Christ,” Barber said, “so who did it come from?”

How disgusting a person do you have to be to even think something like this, much less SAY it?!

And what will our Christian allies say to these two shit bags? What will their rebuttal be to hate now being directed not just to us but to their own who don't measure down to their standards? For god's sake, people, speak up. Your silence sounds like, "Oh, maybe they're right."

Respectfully, can I ask what "speak up" would sound like to you? I mean, I'm not going to get invited on MSNBC like Tony PerKKKins, so if I---or other Episcopalians, for example---want to speak up (or are already doing so), who/how would they hear us? [Full disclosure: I do a heck of a lot of blog commenting *outside* of JMG and the gay intertoobz, generally. Y'know, the kind of places where I get moderated OUT. By Christianists.]

The Truly Religious have decided PA needs a bathroom bill. The PA "Family" Association (our AFA chapter) held a rally Monday...the now-familiar "fears" and "concerns" were expressed by the local usual suspects. The rally received hardly any coverage. What DID get covered was the counter-demonstration by a group of concerned people, some transgender, some not. They were not polite. They were loud. They were noticed and their spokesperson got interviews. The group formed at our LGBT Center and came back to detox. The Center is small, so their meeting area was also where my receptionist desk is, so I got to hear their takes on the day. Some of them were down because of the harassment from the "Family" members, some were angry. But, because although I'm a shy person I also can't help but offer my 2 cents, I reminded them they were a presence, people saw them and heard them, and they made an impression...they couldn't help but make an impression on some of the kids who were dragged there and some of the adults who also were dragged there.
What can our Christian allies do? I don't know and I don't need to have the answer. But the group on Monday reminded me that all politics is local and that you make the news by speaking your piece. If they just showed up at the capitol rotunda, how noticeable would that have been? They decided on a way to get noticed, get coverage, make their point. Visibility, like coming out, is important. Making noise, like coming out, is vital.
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, United Methodists, United Churches of Christ, "good" Lutherans, Unitarian/Universalists and the other mainstream denominations have worked together in the past. There is no denying their importance in the Civil Rights movement. Do they think we are worthy of their efforts?
We're in a nation that's been dumbed down to the point that a traditional approach to getting attention, to speaking on talk shows, to writing comments doesn't work. Again, how do respectable, good Christian allies not just share the attention but gain it and seize it? I hate that our nation's decibel level is so high now, but it seems that wresting attention is what's needed. A critic doesn't rewrite a show s/he doesn't like. We read here all the time that nothing good will happen until the old farts die off and the millennials take over. I'm all for it. I'm nearly 70...I'm tired. The millennials of the mainstream denominations need to convince their old fart leaders that the old farts' ideas aren't working and new ways need to be used, that the denominations need to come together, need to let the "no, WE're right" theology take a back seat to getting together and work to prove "they're not all like that." Sooner rather than later.

To paraphrase Velma in "Chicago," we cannot do it alone.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Solution In Search Of A Problem

Several of Pennsylvania's honorable legislators have decided that we need a bathroom bill.  It would seem if we don't get going, we'll be left behind.  Never mind that our LGBT people have no civil rights, the only state in the northeastern part of the US not to have civil rights for all its citizens.

Yesterday was Rally Day for the Potty Party.  The Pennsylvania "Family" Association, our chapter of the American "Family" Association, had a big to-do in the capitol rotunda.  (As a rule of thumb, if the word "family" appears in an organization's name, it's a safe bet that it's fundamentalist xn, has very little to do with families, and lots to do with spreading and maintaining a level of hate, fear, and discrimination.)  Interestingly, the local newspaper/website didn't report on it, so I don't know how many of them attended.  I DO know that about 30 protesters were there because they organized at our LGBT Center.

The "idea" behind the restroom regulation is to make sure that transgender people must use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate, not the one they identify with.  I call this "the solution in search of a problem" because there's never been a reported case of a man dressing as a woman to get into the women's room to rape someone.  Never. Ever.  Anywhere.  So what's the problem?  The problem is that the LGs of LGBT have achieved a kind of respectability now that marriage equality is settled law.  While many southern states have tried to bar the ruling, they continue to be shot down.  While states like Pennsylvania will be fighting to keep equality from becoming law, the Republicans, preachers, and other grifters have noticed their contributions decreasing.  People now know gay men and lesbians.  We are family members, the friendly neighbor, the helpful co-worker, your child's teacher, and increasingly fellow members of the Parent Teacher Organization.  Back in the '70s, Harvey Milk said the biggest political act any of us can do is to come out.  It worked.

People in the hate industry discovered that it's still possible to demonize us, but it doesn't generate the money it used to.  Brian Brown's National Organization for Marriage, set up to stop progress toward marriage equality, held its annual hate march this past Saturday in Washington, DC.  Last year, there may have been 3000 people attending, thanks largely to a politician in NYC who hired several buses and transported hundreds of people free to the "march."  The problem was they thought they were there for a tour of Washington.  Instead, they got sandwiches and speeches, which they couldn't understand because they were Hispanic and their English wasn't that good. They were not happy. That scam wasn't tried this year.  Someone did a head count...237, including the speakers, babies, and reporters.

Lesbians and gays are finally becoming human.  Bisexuals, like divorcees, comprise a fair number of fundamentalist xn congregations, so they aren't an issue.  What's left?  Most people don't know anything about transgender people.  That makes them an easy target. An authority figure such as a preacher or a legislator can come up with all kinds of lies, tell them often enough, make them sufficiently horrible, and the sheep are ready to believe. After they lost the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality last June, they needed to find a new straw man and find it quickly.  Transgender people are perfect.

The dumbing down of the US has been a huge success.  Science "threatens" religion. Education, thinking and learning are discouraged.  Encouraging someone to question, to think for themselves, is dangerous.  It posits the possibility that whatever their authority figure says may be wrong.  Dangerous.  Former governor, former preacher, and presidential wannabe failure (even though his god told him to run) Mike Huckabee tested the waters by joking about how, if he had known all he had to do was chose to be a girl some days, he'd have taken showers with the girls.  This passes as humor in some circles. Since that got a laugh and provoked confusion, Republicans and The Truly Religious picked up on it and quickly came up with the baseless scare that their women and daughters were unsafe in the women's room and in store changing rooms.  In one day, North Carolina railroaded a bill through both houses of their congress and signed into law to make it a crime for a person who identifies as a woman to use a women's facility.  It also made it impossible to use the state court system to appeal a grievance at work, for cities to pass their own non-discrimination laws, and many other clearly hateful, discriminatory provisions.  

And, of course, there's the theological problem.  If god actually created a man inside a woman's body, that sounds like god made a mistake, and god can't do that.  The Truly Religious won't allow it.  It's bad enough that LGBs maintain we were born "that way," but it's just too much for a woman to be born in a man's body.  Rather than grant the possibility and investigate the research and talk to people who are transgender, dictatorial pronouncements are made and the masses are expected to follow.  And since it's far easier to follow than to think, the demonizing, fear, hate, and suspicion begins. 

The Pennsylvania "Family" Association, which has started hurting for funds, and certain Potty Party legislators, who are up for reelection this year, decided Pennsylvania needs the solution in search of a problem.  Most legislators don't think it will be debated, let alone voted on, let alone pass, let alone survive a veto from the governor, but it plays well.  "I'm scared now when I go to a public bathroom," one 14-year-old tender young thing told the gathered throng.  A year ago...hell, 6 months ago...neither she nor her parents would have given it a second thought.  But we now have new people to demonize, new people to be afraid of, new people to be suspicious of, new people to feel superior to.

I wanted to make this about the protesters who met at the LGBT Center before the fear fest and who returned to the Center to detox after.  I will say that most of the people were young, although there were at least 3 "older" people.  They were wonderful, articulate, knowledgeable, and many were transgender.  I felt privileged to be in their company yesterday afternoon.  I hope to write about that soon.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that our Constitution made marriage equality legal.  In one one very significant but still only one way...LGBTQ people can't be refused the right to marry just because we're gay.  We can get married on Sunday and be fired Monday, whether telling HR of our marital status change or showing our wedding pictures.  Unless the local government has set up its own anti-discrimination laws, our only right is to marry the person we love.  And now North Carolina and Alabama have laws saying local governments can't grant us "special" rights...meaning it's legal to deprive us of the basic human rights that every else in the community expect.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast with the "married Sunday/fired Monday" discrimination laws firmly in place.  No.  I take that back.  There's no law that states that; there's no law to prohibit it.  One cannot discriminate against anyone because of their religion, which is their choice.  One can legally discriminate against me because of their choice of religion.  This means that religion trumps civil law in a commonwealth that clearly set out in the very first article of the PA Constitution(s).
The original 1776 article 1 reads


I. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

A constitutional convention in 1873 stated virtually the same:
  § 1.  Inherent rights of mankind.
        All men are born equally free and independent, and have
     certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those
     of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring,
     possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of
     pursuing their own happiness.

Two weeks ago, 49 of my brothers and sisters were gunned down by a military grade weapon owned by a religious fanatic.  People of a certain persuasion love to point out his "radical Islam."  These same people conveniently forget the joy coming from many pulpits of radical xns.  I was recently engaged on YouTube by someone who insisted that a call for gay people to be killed and for the rest of the people in Pulse nightclub to be killed, too, wasn't a call to violence.  I asked him if his bible included "the second greatest commandment, that you love your neighbor as you love yourself."  He told me that he loved his neighbors excerpt for me.  This is the basis, apparently, as Christian Love (TM).  I'll be 70 in October...I've known about and experienced Christian Love (TM) for most of those decades.

Two years ago, our federal judge John Jones III (suggested by Santorum and recommended by the lesser Bush) struck down Pennsylvania's anti- marriage equality law. His decision concluded with something I wish everyone understood:
"The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. 

"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

Marriage equality became the law of the land a year ago today.  Christians have rejoiced with us; xns have gone out of their way to make life difficult for us.  Joe Jervis, whose blog I read daily, has written, "They want to make us invisible.  They failed.  Let's dance."

Marriage equality became settled law a year ago today.  The sky still hasn't fallen.  Let's dance.