The Gay Fray

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Jul 28, 2004.


I am . . . .

  1. Homosexual

    25 vote(s)
  2. Heterosexual

    201 vote(s)
  3. Bisexual

    31 vote(s)
  4. Other (I would have complained if there wasn't an "other" option)

    16 vote(s)
  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Love and Memory

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    A crucifix. A black dress. Symbols of love and memory, with Christ on the Cross and Eva Griego in a casket:

    From under his black veil, sweat trickled down Paul Valdez's face.

    On the long walk to the casket in the towering Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, dozens of pairs of drifting eyes found him and bored in. To his left, through the veil's spider web of nylon gauze, he could feel the spite in his aunt's voice.

    "At your own grandmother's funeral," she hissed. "Dressed like a girl."

    His grandmother, Eva Griego, made dresses for thousands of girls. They got to know her as "Mama," usually beginning with the fitting for their first Communion. They would see her again before their quinceañera, which marks a girl's entrance into womanhood, and then once more before their wedding.

    Of the thousands of rolls of fabric she cut into sheets, the last fabric she touched was sewn into a dress for a boy, her grandson.

    Framed in a tight bustle and trimmed with black crepe, the dress Valdez designed was inspired by Victorian mourning garments. He pressed the dress' black cravat close to his throat and felt himself sway for a moment before his grandmother's coffin.

    Valdez is a drag queen and a gay man. Neither really has a lot to do with the other, he says, but in Santa Fe, both are identities that have earned him as little attention as the city can possibly bestow.

    "It's look away, look away," said Valdez's husband, Richard Polley.

    "It's not a place where you'll be killed for it," Valdez, 35, said. "But they'll pretend you don't exist."

    For those who hold to convention, the growing number of men like Valdez — who assert themselves without shame — is unnerving. But sometimes just one traditionalist offering a helping hand can bring about acceptance: For Valdez, that person was his grandmother.


    For love and memory, compassion and dignity. Sometimes all a person needs is one open heart, and that mercy itself becomes a sacred icon.

    And so we stand, speak, fight. Make no mistake, we are winning; this is both irrefutable and irrevocable. And while some would challenge the very foundations of our American society in order to ward off human rights and dignity, we turn instead to a moment―this moment―in solace and solidarity. To grieve is a gift unto the living; to honor compassion, dignity, and love, we mourn its absence; to remember and carry forward these unique treasures of memory is also to breathe life into spirit, that it may in turn reach out and share its intrinsic value with everyone it touches.

    We will love, and we will live. Death can only kill one of those, so long as our human endeavor persists.


    Duara, Nigel. "A Drag Queen's Final Tribute to the Grandmother Who Loved and Accepted Him". Los Angeles Times. 3 July 2015. 12 July 2015.
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    One Last Moment

    In 1989, Duane Schrock, Jr. sent a Father's Day card.

    "Dear Dad," he wrote. "We haven't been in touch for quite a while, I'm doing fine and am very happy in Richmond, I'd like to hear from you. Have a Happy Father's Day. Love Duane."

    In 1995, the younger Shrock, died of AIDS; a father never had a chance to reconcile with his gay son.

    Originally addressed to Duane Shrock, Sr. in Tuscon, Arizona, the card found its way to Lynchburg, Virginia last week, and Duane Shrock, Jr.'s attempt to reach out to his father finally arrived home.

    Mr. Shrock described the mail as "like a sign from Heaven". He would like to think his son is doing just fine. This, at least, offers hope that the younger Shrock did not carry hatred or sadness to a bitter end. And, in truth, that is more than so many other fathers will ever get.


    Mosbergen, Dominique. "Man Receives Father's Day Card From Dead Son -- 26 Years Later". The Huffington Post. 9 July 2015. 12 July 2015.
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    The Smoking Dog

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    Michelangelo Signorile↱ offers an unintentionally hilarious paragraph:

    There have been predictions for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016, some of it wishful thinking by gay advocates. Back in 2012, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, for example, commenting on the lack of discussion of gay issues in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney, said, "What we're seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren't the wedge they used to be." The public, he said, has "moved on."

    Okay, I concede that this could be intentionally hilarious.

    The thing is, though, he's not wrong; I remember all that.

    And the bit from Mr. Sainz of HRC was kind of strange at the time; most definitely wishful thinking.

    Fast forward to 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have expressed blatant anti-gay positions, from banning gay scout leaders to supporting yet another marriage amendment. Some pundits believe this to be politically dangerous, certainly in a general election, and they're right when it comes to the more overt bigotry. As I noted last week, Scott Walker clearly crossed a line — and walked back — when he said the Boy Scouts' ban on gay adults "protected children."

    But new polling underscores that covert messaging — the dog whistle — could do the trick for the GOP, just as it has worked for the party on race and gender for decades now. Jeb Bush has defended "religious liberty" — the new code words for anti-gay positions — even while saying gay couples deserved "respect" for their relationships. And just last week, Bush said he supported the idea of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, though he thought they should be handled "state-by-state" (contrary to a comprehensive federal bill introduced by Democrats in Congress today that would protect LGBT people nationally).

    But in comments that directly followed, Bush said that he believes there should be an exception for people with religious objections to allowing gays and lesbians to marry, such as a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. In other words, those who would discriminate in the first place should be exempt from laws banning discrimination. This will in fact be the more subtle — but no less vile and discriminatory — gay-bashing of the 2016 election.

    (Boldface accent added)

    Now that conservatives are neck-deep in this excremental flood of their own making, I admit I can no longer explain why I expected they would move on to another aspect of the Gay Fray. Well, okay, that's not entirely accurate; the next front is apparent, but for some inexplicable reason my prognostications presumed they would, in fact, move on.

    Of course they won't. In the first place, they're social conservatives and I have yet to meet the soccon who can comprehend when they've lost. Then again, it works out well enough for them, doesn't it? After all, it's the twenty-first century and we're back to arguing over a woman's access to contraception.

    And why would they be seen openly targeting children with their hatred when they can try to cover that beneath the stunt of thrashing like tantrum toddlers at the prospect of being merely equal to their gay and lesbian neighbors? Immature, stupid cruelty is a less damning indictment than what they're really after.

    Still, though, a concerted effort would require amazing, perhaps impossible, PR discipline. But as long as dog-whistling is on the table, we might also recall that soccons are, in fact, pretty good at it.

    And here's a fun variable: Politically, it would pay off for Democrats to use the RFRA discussion to hit out at Texas↱ and Michigan↱, where Republicans want religious freedom to include the right to deliberately harm children.

    Because the real story of real harm under cover of religious freedom is far more sinister than refusing to arrange flowers or bake cakes. And the part to watch will actually be how much Republicans in the states accomplish toward taking it out on children, gay and straight alike↱, in the name of religious freedom.

    Each act of man is the twist and double of an hare.

    Love and Death are the greyhounds that course him.

    God bred the hounds and taketh His pleasure in the sport.

    This is the Comedy of Pan, that man should think he hunteth, while those hounds hunt him.

    This is the Tragedy of Man when facing Love and Death he turns to bay. He is no more hare, but boar.

    There are no other comedies or tragedies.

    Cease then to be the mockery of God; in savagery of love and death live thou and die!

    Thus shall His laughter be thrilled through with Ecstasy.



    Signorile, Michelangelo. "The GOP Plan to Stoke Anti-Gay Bigotry in 2016". The Huffington Post. 23 July 2015. 27 July 2015.

    Perdurabo, Fr. "The Smoking Dog". Liber CCCXXXIII. 1912.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Love. Live.
    Ultra-Orthodox terror attack wounds six at Jerusalem Gay Pride

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    This is what it is worth:

    An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stabbed and wounded six participants, two of them seriously, in the annual Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on Thursday, with police saying the suspect was jailed for a similar attack 10 years ago.

    About 5,000 people celebrating the event were marching along an avenue when a man jumped into the crowd, apparently from a supermarket, and plunged a knife into some of the participants, witnesses said ....

    .... Police said they arrested the suspected perpetrator, an ultra-Orthodox man. Spokeswoman Luba Samri said he was the same assailant jailed for the stabbing of three marchers at a similar Jerusalem event in 2005. Israeli media said the suspect had been released from prison several weeks ago.

    The parade has long been a focus of tension between Israel's predominantly secular majority and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority, who object to public displays of homosexuality.

    Many devout Jews, Muslims and Christians criticize homosexuality as an abomination of their beliefs. Gay marriages performed inside Israel are not recognized by the authorities.

    In a place where hatred drives cultural violence as a means of satisfaction, such atrocities are not unexpected.

    The latest updates suggest the six wounded have not yet resulted in a death, and, you know, I guess in the end we'll take that.


    Fisher-Ilan, Allyn. "6 People Stabbed At Jerusalem Gay Pride March". The Huffington Post. 30 July 2015. 31 July 2015.

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  8. Bells Staff Member

    Price Tags..

    And they are becoming more common.

    Hard line Jewish settlers attacked a Church last month and on Friday, some Jewish settlers set fire to a Palestinian family's home as they slept, burning an 18 month old to death as he slept and critically injuring the mother, father and 4 year old brother.

    The Government tends to turn a blind eye, after the usual platitudes, nothing is ever done. As evidenced by the stabbing at the gay pride parade. The assailant in question had done this before. And he was released after only a few years. Apparently trying to commit mass murder is not a huge crime in Israel if the assailant is a hard line conservative Jew and the victims are minorities.

    They are often referred to as "price tag" attacks, usually by far right extremists Jews, often settlers, who attack minorities like gays or Palestinians, who they feel the government has been favouring or treating too well. Hence the price these people pay is death. The Government rarely acts and when it does, it is very lenient, because these acts are committed by the very people who vote for them.

    Friday's deadly attack comes as part of a larger trend of Jewish radicalization - one day after an anti-gay ultra-Orthodox extremist stabbed revelers at Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade and two days after Israeli authorities indicted two young Jewish activists for an arson attack on a famous Holy Land church. All have been strongly condemned across the Israeli political spectrum, though the recent spate of attacks has raised fears that a radicalized and violent ultraconservative fringe is growing from within the country's hard-line national-religious camp.


    Israel says it does its best to track down the assailants and has launched recent drives to crack down on the "price tag" phenomenon. In the case of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes arson in June, it arrested two suspects that belonged to an extremist settler youth group.

    But critics say Israel doesn't enforce the law when it comes to settlers because of the political power that the settlers wield in parliament and because they are still perceived in some circles as Zionist pioneers who are settling the land like the vanguards who established the Jewish state.

    "This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific result," Israeli rights group B'Tselem said in a statement.

    The group said that in the past three years, Israeli civilians set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank and flung a fire bomb at a Palestinian taxi. It said no one was charged in any of the cases.

    The more the Government panders to these people for votes, the more bold they will become and the more they will kill and try to kill. The people who commit these crimes are not seen or treated like the terrorists they are. Hence why their homes are not repossessed or destroyed, as is the usual policy towards terrorists in Israel. Nor are they even jailed for long, if they are even arrested that is.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Jewish law concerning marriage will have to be updated considerably to accommodate same-sex marriages.

      • The husband and the wife have specific duties to each other. For example, the husband is required to have sexual relations with the wife at least once a week (with practical exceptions, such as men who are absent due to their jobs). How would this law be enforced if both spouses were male?
      • A child is identified legally as Jewish ONLY if his mother is Jewish. How will he be registered if both of his parents are male?
    I'd be fascinated to hear someone explain how the Palestinians have been treated "too well" by the Israeli government.
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Justice Whispers

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    Justice whispers. Justice rises.

    Last week↱ in Tampa, Florida, a park employee at the University Area Community Center discovered the body of India Clarke, 25, near a playground. Hillsborough County Sheriff's detectives immediately ruled her death a homicide, and early reports suggested Ms. Clarke was beaten to death.

    The queer community hung its head, logging the tenth known murder of a transgendered person in 2015; we know of twelve lost to homicide in 2014. At AutoStraddle, Mey↱ brings the grisly litany:

    Clarke joins 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, 20-year-old Papi Edwards, 30-year-old Lamia Beard, 24-year-old Ty Underwood, 33-year-old Yazmin Vash Payne, 36-year-old Taja de Jesus, 21-year-old Penny Proud, 47-year-old Kristina Grant Infiniti and 21-year-old London Kiki Chanel on the list of trans women murdered so far this year. Twenty-two-year-old Bri Golec might also be on the list, but there have been mixed reports from friends on whether or not they were trans. More than half of these women have been black. Last year there was a total of twelve trans women reported murdered in the US, just two more than those murdered in the first seven months of this year.

    This ... hurts. This is our time. This is when things are supposed to start getting better.

    Then comes a whisper of justice, a clean breath:

    Police in Tampa, Florida, have arrested a man they believe murdered India Clarke, whose death put her on a growing list of transgender woman killed violently in the U.S. this year.

    DNA evidence linked 18-year-old Keith Lamayne Gaillard to Clarke's death, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office press release. Investigators found Gaillard's DNA under Clarke's fingernails, as well as on a condom containing fluid in her car. Police said the suspect's fingerprint was found on a cigar wrapper in the car.

    Clarke had died at a family-friendly park in Tampa on July 21. Detectives initially reported that the cause of death was blunt force trauma, but revealed this week that she'd been shot in the head and arm ....

    .... In addition to the DNA and fingerprint evidence, the sheriff's office noted that Gaillard was holding a .22-caliber handgun in one of his Facebook photos. Clarke's wounds, authorities said, were consistent with such a gun.

    The motive for her death is not unclear.

    After the shooting, Gaillard allegedly went to a friend's house and said, "I think I killed somebody." He then sold his gun to the friend for $50, according to police.

    When deputies confronted him, they found a scratch on his neck, "consistent with a fight" and with the discovery of another person's DNA under Clarke's fingernails.

    There will be justice.

    And yet, even in passing, there remains for India Clarke a simple question of basic dignity. Dominic Holden↱ details the issue:

    law enforcement and media have consistently misgendered Clarke — by describing her as a man in a dress, using Clarke's former male name, and using male pronouns. And while trans women of color appear to be killed at disproportionately higher rates than most populations, police don't believe gender identity is a factor in this case. Rather, police told BuzzFeed News, Clarke's "history of prostitution" may appear to have played a role, but they have offered no evidence that sex work was a factor in the homicide.

    "We are not going to categorize him as a transgender. We can just tell you he had women's clothing on at the time," Detective Larry McKinnon, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, told BuzzFeed News. "What his lifestyle was prior to that we don't know — whether he was a cross dresser, we don't know."

    Initial calls to 911 descibed the victim as a woman but a medical examiner later identified her as male, McKinnon said.

    "He is a male," McKinnon continued. "I can't tell you he is a female."

    In her Facebook profile, however, Clarke identifies as a woman, uses female pronouns, and presents as female in all her photos ....

    .... LGBT anti-violence organizations have long warned that misgendering transgender victims and quickly downplaying gender identify as a factor in investigations can alienate people who know the victims and who could provide tips that identify a suspect.

    "India Clarke's death is a tragedy that is made worse by egregious misgendering by local police and media," Chai Jindasurat, who coordinates programs with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.

    "We are encouraged to see local law enforcement looking to the community for leadership," he continued. "However, asking for the community's help needs to start with naming India Clark correctly, not misgendering her, and not speculating on information about her that is irrelevant to her current circumstance."

    But Detective McKinnon said identifying Clarke as female could confuse members of the public who are looking for missing women — he did not elaborate on how identifying Clarke as male could confuse people who knew her as female. "We would hope that people would have the decency to come forward rather than worry about semantics about how we label someone at this point of investigation," he said, adding Clarke could be identified as transgender as the investigation proceeds.

    This really is important. And, certes, we can understand certain bureaucratic needs, but the specific decision to explicitly not classify India Clarke as transgender seems counterintuitive. It is difficult enough to look upon a mourning family and wonder why, even in death, they will not respect who this person was, but there is a larger issue for the queer community in particular and American community in general:

    Police and media misgendering transgender homicide victims has been particularly common in the South, where news outlets this year have noted a victim's past records for minor criminal offenses without linking them to the cause of death.

    In Clarke's case, Detective McKinnon told BuzzFeed News police "don't have any indication" that Clarke's gender identiy was a factor in the homicide. Asked why not, McKinnon said, "Because of his prior prostitution and drug activity, we feel this may be more related. There were other circumstance around the crime scene that I am not at liberty to discuss that leads us to believe this is more related to drugs or prostitution … There is absolutely nothing to indicate any other motive at this time."

    "We are taking it as a murder investigation and we are going to be very aggressive about determining who did it and put him in jail," he said.

    Jindasurat, from the NCAVP, said, "We must honor India Clarke, and all of the transgender women, especially trans women of color, killed in this epidemic by supporting the leadership of transgender women, public awareness and respect campaigns, speaking out against this violence, and protecting transgender people from harassment and discrimination".

    Naming is not simply an organizational tool; it is also an act of ownership, and to deny India Clarke or any of our transgendered brothers and sisters the name by which they tell us who they are is to refuse the basic dignity of self.

    We can expect this will be one of the last lines of prejudice and supremacism to break. For now, India Clarke's family must fathom and countenance their loss, and we can only wish our best hopes unto them in the days to come.


    Campbell, Andy. "Transgender Woman Murdered In Family-Friendly Park In Tampa". The Huffington Post. 22 July 2015. 1 August 2015.

    —————. "Suspect Arrested In Murder Of Transgender Woman India Clarke". The Huffington Post. 31 July 2015. 1 August 2015.

    Mey. "India Clarke is the 10th Trans Woman Murdered This Year". AutoStraddle. 22 July 2015. 1 August 2015.

    Holden, Dominic. "Transgender Woman Of Color Killed In Tampa, Florida". BuzzFeed. 22 July 2015. 1 August 2015.
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    The Price of Conscience: Shira Banki Is Dead

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    "Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl."

    We can be weary, but we cannot rest.

    Shira Banki will rest for us.

    The sixteen year-old, wounded in a terror attack against the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on Thursday, has died at Hadassah.

    A statement from the Banki family reads:

    Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old—full of life and love—who came to express her support for her friends' rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl. The family expresses hope for a less hatred and more tolerance.

    This is the price.

    This is the price of freedom. Of tradition. Of both justice and inequity. This is the price of family, of living, of being human.

    This is the price of consicence.

    And it is too dear a price to pay. Our societies, our very species, gets nothing in return save more blood-red ink in a cosmic ledger that will never be reconciled.

    Shira Banki will go to rest, and may she please find peace.

    Life goes on for the living. Another family to struggle with the strange weight of an abrupt and horrifying void. Another community reeling under a pretense of shock. Another queer community shaking its head, eyes lowered, scowling and snarling and gritting its teeth, wondering what the hell to do next because this just can't keep happening. Another reason to be wary of our fellow human beings.

    May her memory be a blessing, says Benjamin Netanyahu.

    But to what end?

    Each one should be the last, as should the one before. This is the price of dignity bestowed as privilege of tradition.

    And this cannot keep happening.

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    Politi, Daniel. "16-Year-Old Stabbed in Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade Dies". Slate. 2 August 2015. 2 August 2015.

    Netanyahu, Benjamin. "Shira Banki, 16 years old." Twitter. 2 August 2015. 2 August 2015.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    The Cutting Edge

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    To the one, it is Rep. Steve King (IA04):

    It's not the first time King has made this observation. He made the same analogy last month, while speaking with the Dickinson County News about the Supreme Court's June ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Citing an unnamed Christian lawyer who reportedly told him that only "one human" is needed for a marriage now, King wrote, "you could marry your lawnmower with this decision," and argued that "children do better in a home with a mom and a dad."

    It's a fact of history that children do better in a home with a mom and a dad. There's no better way to impart our values from one generation to the next than a mother and father who are committed to each other and that are blessed with children in a natural union. The father pours the best of what he has into that and the mother pours the best of what she has into that. The combination that comes out of that for the next generation -- at least in theory -- is better than the previous generation. They contribute more to society. They're better behaved, their faith is stronger, their education gets a little better -- all of these things are the product of a nuclear family. The civil government got into the business of promoting and supporting Holy Matrimony because these basic values are the building block of our civilization. Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that they're not. Their ruling really says anybody can marry anybody -- and eventually it will be in any combination. I had a strong, Christian lawyer tell me yesterday (Tuesday, June 30) that, under this decision that he has read, what it brings about is: It only requires one human being in this relationship -- that you could marry your lawnmower with this decision. I think he's right.

    To the other ... a lawn mower is what comes to mind? And comes again?

    Mr. King and his "strong, Christian lawyer"―what gutter are their minds wallowing in?

    No, really. Lawn mowers?


    Sieczkowski, Cavan. "Uh Oh! Republican Warns That People May Soon Be Marrying Their Lawnmowers". The Huffington Post. 5 August 2015. 5 August 2015.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Because It's Texas

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    When I was young, we had a saying: Texas-sized. The idea was that everything was huge in Texas.

    But in terms of heart and soul, conscience and character, it would seem Texas would prefer that we think small. Infinitesimal. So small that we must presume such things exist because people in Texas are still human beings, and human beings cannot live without these much mythologized aspects.

    This is what it's worth:

    A U.S. judge on Wednesday ordered Texas officials to recognize on a state death certificate the surviving spouse in a same-sex marriage whose husband died earlier this year.

    The case comes as states such as Texas, which had barred same-sex marriage, grapple with changes brought by the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that made gay marriage legal in the United States.

    Texas, where Republican leaders have tried to push back against gay marriage, had balked at recognizing John Stone-Hoskins as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of James Stone-Hoskins, according to court documents.

    U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio ordered defendants including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, and the state's acting health commissioner to appear in his court next week as he considers whether they should be held in contempt.

    The two were not immediately available for comment.

    John and James Stone-Hoskins were lawfully married in New Mexico in August 2014 and James died in January 2015.

    Texas refused to recognize John as the surviving spouse at the time of the death and he is seeking to have Texas change its ways now that gay marriage is legal in all states.


    Character. Decency. Dignity. Texas-sized. So fucking small you can't find it, and have to simply presume a particle exists somewhere, because the human equation comes apart without it.

    Then again, this is Texas, where the human equation is constantly coming apart.

    We need not wonder why.


    Herskovitz, Jon. "Judge orders Texas to recognize spouse on same-sex death certificate". Reuters. 5 August 2015. 6 August 2015.
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    What Kind of Tea Is This?

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    The lede is ... well, it's unbelievable, except, well, at some point "socially conservative legislators who often invoke their Christian faith" pretty much make sure we have no choice but to believe it:

    A now-former House aide recorded Courser in mid-May directing him to send Republican activists and operatives an email that would appear to be from an anonymous political enemy that said Courser had been "caught behind a Lansing nightclub" having sex with a man.

    Yes, you read the first paragraph of Chad Livengood's↱ report for the Detroit News correctly.

    After House aide Ben Graham rejected Courser's May 19 request to take a sick day on May 20 and send the mass email to Republicans across Michigan, he says he had duties removed in subsequent weeks. By early July, Courser fired Graham and Gamrat ended the employment of her aide, Keith Allard — about a month after giving them both pay raises — without explanation.

    During the May 19 meeting, Courser instructed Graham to send rank-and-file Republicans across Michigan what he called "an over-the-top story that's obscene about me." It was designed, Courser said on the recording, to "inoculate the herd" — an apparent reference to Courser and Gamrat's followers in the tea party movement.

    "It will make anything else that comes out after that — that isn't a video — mundane, tame by comparison," Courser, a married father of four, told Graham.

    "I need a controlled burn," said the lawmaker, who used the term three times during the meeting.

    During two meetings recorded by Graham, Courser and Gamrat, who is also married and has three children, did not dispute the aide's characterization of their relationship as an extramarital affair. They acknowledged the aide's discomfort but neither directly confirmed nor denied having a sexual relationship.

    So ... uh ... right.

    No, really, what the hell kind of punch line can I offer? This one writes itself.


    Livengood, Chad. "Recordings: State rep asked aide to hide relationship". The Detroit News. 7 August 2015. 9 August 2015.
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Pat Robertson Still Doesn't Understand Math ... or Consent

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    It is easy enough to mock the lede―"The increasingly predictable Pat Robertson has no time for Christians who are accepting of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community"―for Curtis M. Wong's↱ filler piece at Huffington Post, but the detail brings up a point that really does bear repeating ... every time it comes up.

    The remarks, of course, are perfectly in line with Robertson's history. In July, he blasted the Supreme Court's June 25 ruling on same-sex marriage, arguing that the justices had used "faulty sociological grounds" in legalizing marriage equality.

    "Watch what happens, love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted," he said. "Polygamy, without question, is going to be permitted, and it will be called a right."

    Okay, now here's the deal on polygamy: It's a matter of numbers, and that changes the equal protection assertion. What marriage equality accomplishes, functionally, is striking sex discrimination from a legal arrangement two people entered into. Making the equal protection argument for a number is a bit different.

    Ironically, the quickest path to polygamy is an asssertion of religious freedom.

    But more importantly, Christian supremacists really do need to ditch the whole bestiality thing. Here's a hint: If you keep reminding us that you do not recognize consent in sexual relations, we will take you at your word.


    Wong, Curtis M. "Pat Robertson Has No Time For Christians Who Accept Gays". The Huffington Post. 10 August 2015. 11 August 2015.
  16. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I think religion's idea of marriage is based on the sexual arrangement that maximizes the needs of children with the least resources. The religious idea is connected to natural selection.

    Only a male and female can make a baby, without the need of extra resources supplied by science. Two men or two women can have a baby, but this needs extra resources not found in nature.

    Although raising children can be successfully done by a wide variety of demographics, including single moms, homosexual couples, having both a natural father and natural mother (biological) create an instinctive connection to their own child that will maximize the child's chances, even with bad parents.

    A bad parent will go the extra baby step, maybe in the early years, for their own child, He will not do the same for another's child as often. If we had a gay couple, who had zero interest in children, and gave them a child, there is no instinct to give the little child an edge. That instinctive edge compensates for bad parents, so the odds are slightly better for the child.

    If ancient times, when times were tough, all children needed an edge. The traditional marriage was the natural way to make this happen, more often, with the least resource. This allowed cultures to not only be fruitful (sex), but to multiply (children thrive).
  17. Bells Staff Member

    You have sources for this, of course?

    Something to support this contention?

    Are you suggesting that the religious idea is connected to evolution and Darwin's principles which religion has vapidly been against and has tried to silence many times?

    Clothing, computers, etc aren't found in nature either. Your point is moot, because contrary to what you may believe, it's not all about having babies.

    I'm sorry, but if you are trying to argue that leaving a child with bad parents because said parents are heterosexual is better than having that child brought up in a more stable and loving and non-abusive environment that happens to be a LGBT home, I would suggest you support the contention that a child is better off with bad heterosexual parents then good homosexual parents with scientific studies.

    Short of assuming you were raised by a pack of wild dogs, then it is clear you are pulling this out of your proverbial backside.

    We have seen time and again how natural parents who are bad parents kill, maim, injure and abuse their children in more ways that can be expressed in this post. If a gay couple do not want children, why do you believe they will be given children?

    Children aren't pets that can be given to people on a whim. They aren't goldfish.

    There was no traditional marriage in ancient times. At all.

    And children in ancient times died more than they do today.
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Answer Line: Copy That, Clear the City

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    Warning! Do not click on this picture!↗

    Of course he doesn't; it's just more pointed, calculated speculation intended to argue a political whim as reality. However, it is also wort taking the moment to observe that the mere suggestion―

    "... religion's idea of marriage is based on the sexual arrangement that maximizes the needs of children with the least resources"

    ―is functionally absurd.

    Maximization is entirely subjective, needs are influenced by circumstance and economics of environment, and the question of resource optimization is mysterious beyond the artistic. Religion itself is fundamentally reactionary; its idea of anything is entirely subjective at any valence.

    He has nothing to support his contention because it is fundamentally and functionally insupportable. This, of course, sets aside his general dismissal of history and anthropology, which is its own problem to be certain, but might be suggestive, at the very least, of why he has nothing to support such ridiculous contentions.

    I might note that yes, that connection is arguably true and extant, but would in such a moment be also obligated to acknowledge that this is an abstract anthropological model of religion, and not reflective of any observable and significant religious practice or ideology. That is to say, the fact that humans are, well, human explains why we seem to tread further from the abstraction.

    If we just start with the question, "Which religious idea, or iteration thereof?" the problem seems to illustrate itself.

    And that's the problem with these sorts of vapid rants; one constructs a partial idyll calculated to accommodate the desired outcome, substitutes that idyll for any real circumstance or consideration, and then waxes pretentious to satiation. They're not actually intended to make a real point; it's all about our neighbor trying to make himself feel better ... about ... I don't know ... himself?
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Pathos: You Know He's Sorry 'Cause He's Incomprehensible

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    The quick summary from Associated Press↱ explains:

    A Michigan lawmaker who had an extramarital affair with another legislator and admitted to masterminding a cover-up has released a 1,900 word, scripture-laden confessional on his Facebook page.

    In a word, Courser's confession↱ is incomprehensible. I cannot tell if we are expected to pity or admire Rep. Courser (R-82).

    The most brutal things I have had to endure in my life have been brought from and thru this experience – the public humiliation was small and insignificant when compared to having telling my wife and children and my family – death will be a much richer reward, a much easier mantle, than having to share all of this, my wife and I have been dealing with this privately and unfortunately some just couldn't allow it to remain private for our family to deal with; it goes with the politic territory – the wages of sin is death…so many have been viscerally hostile towards me – I deserve all of it and every word of anger and hostility. It is mystifying to be in the middle of this hurricane and to be totally here and be present and feel the full fury of so much condemnation. It seems to have brought out the best in some and the most vile in others; so many words of encouragement and yet so many people who revel in piling on and watching another burn alive. I hope all of you who read this can live without having to live thru this personally and I hope that in your lives you have no sin to be held accountable for and so do not need a savior; I am just clearly in need of one; my life and my actions in no way diminish Him, or His plan, or His hope and sacrifice for all who have sinned.

    Actually, we would take the moment to remind Mr. Courser that his actions do, in fact, diminish God. Every blessing that Mr. Courser has attributed to the almighty leads to this betrayal. The best hope he has is a Judas plea: God intended for me to humiliate His trust!

    Mr. Courser and Mrs. Gamrat are both betrayers of family, people who have demonstrated their word unworthy of trust, and public faces of God's shame.

    And, you know, we really shouldn't care, except they asked us to.

    And, in the end, these two should revel in their glorious burden; rejoice and be glad, for this is the day the Lord hath made. They are, by their betrayal, fulfilling His Will.


    Associated Press. "Michigan Tea Party Lawmaker Caught In Affair Cover-Up Releases 1,900 Word Confession". The Huffington Post. 15 August 2015. 16 August 2015.

    Courser, Todd. "My lack of righteousness does not negate God's righteousness". Facebook. 15 August 2015. 16 August 2015.
  20. Bells Staff Member

    Some progress.. In light of all the mayhem, some progress..

    Illinois' Republican governor on Thursday signed a law banning mental health therapists from trying to change a young person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The measure signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner outlaws the controversial practice of "gay conversion therapy," sometimes called "reparative therapy," on people younger than 18. Once the law takes effect on Jan. 1, violators will face discipline from their state licensing board, according to the text of the measure.

    The law makes Illinois the fourth state to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. California,New Jersey, and Oregon -- as well as the District of Columbia -- also have outlawed the practice.

    But the Illinois measure is the first to include language linking conversion therapy to consumer fraud, according to its sponsor, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who is an openly gay member of the State House.

    “Our version of this legislation is the most comprehensive bill in the nation, barring health providers from engaging in this practice and affording survivors access to consumer fraud action against the perpetrators of this abuse,” Cassidy said in a statement.

    Critics of conversion therapy say the practice is ineffective, because sexual orientation is not a choice, and is harmful to minors in particular. The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association condemned the practice as far back as 1997.

    “Every major scientific organization has dismissed conversion therapy as harmful,” Cassidy said. “The Illinois Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association for Social Workers, and so many more have not only disproven its utility, but they have decried its effects."

    Cassidy noted that children who are rejected by their communities based on sexual orientation are six times more likely to suffer from depression and eight times more likely to attempt suicide.

    Jim Bennett, Midwest regional director for the LGBT rights group Lambda Legal, applauded the governor's signing of the measure, telling The Huffington Post the law "puts the best interest of our young people first."

    "A more accurate name for conversion therapy is child abuse," Bennett said. "Our LGBT young people deserve to be embraced for who they are."

  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Haredi Terrorist Charged with Murder in Jerusalem Gay Pride Attack

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    Associated Press↱ brings the update:

    An ultra-Orthodox Israeli who fatally stabbed a teenage girl at a Jerusalem gay pride parade has been indicted on a murder charge.

    Jerusalem's District Court indicted Yishai Schlissel for murder on Monday for last month's deadly attack, along with multiple attempted murder charges for those he wounded.

    It occurs to me that we rarely pause to watch the Israel justice system in action, though this might be owing to an overdose of something perceived as other than justice in other affairs. Then again, we also have cause to wonder at the price of justice↱ in Israel; it might be hard to cut Schlissel much of a deal on this one.

    One other note. I have known that AP photographer Sebastian Scheiner was exactly on the scene; it happened right in front of him. Scheiner's photos include Schlissel reaching into his jacket for the knife, and various stages of the attack, including the knife in a woman's back and the chilling image above, showing the damage of hatred all too clearly. Several of the most horrifying accompany Miriam Berger's AP account↱ of the attack, posted at the Star-Tribune. I had seen a couple of these before, but not the hardest among them. They are affecting, to say the least, perhaps even more grave for their matter-of-fact lack of sensationalist spectacle. It's the sort of "shocking" that doesn't involve entrails flying at the camera, or prolonged screams of terror and agony; at the very least, we are spared having to hear the moment.

    Mr. Schlissel stands accused, among several counts of attempted murder, for the murder of Shira Banki; she was sixteen years old.


    Associated Press. "Yishai Schlissel Charged With Murder In Jerusalem Gay Pride Attack". The Huffington Post. 24 August 2015. 24 August 2015.

    Berger, Miriam. "Man attacks Jerusalem gay parade, just weeks after release from prison for similar attack". The Star-Tribune. 30 July 2015. 24 August 2015.
  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Tennessee Temper Tantrum

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    Look, it's also true that once in a while it occurs to me to wonder why it's always conservatives complaining about judicial activism.

    A Tennessee judge said the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide has left him unable to determine what constitutes divorce.

    A Signal Mountain couple, Thomas and Pamela Bumgardner, are still legally married even though they don't want to be because of Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton's stance, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

    "The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces," Atherton wrote in his decision last week.

    "With the U.S. Supreme Court having defined what must be recognized as a marriage, it would appear that Tennessee’s judiciary must now await the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court last to what is not a marriage, or better stated, when a marriage is no longer a marriage," he added.


    Okay, some years ago there was a judge, I believe in California, who faced disciplinary measures after sentencing a man to an extraordinarily light punishment for statutory rape, and apparently on the grounds that President Bill Clinton got away with adultery in the White House.

    Yeah, these things happen from time to time. But it's also true; Roy Moore ain't a flaming liberal; Martin Feldman ain't a flaming liberal; Jeffrey Atherton isn't a flaming liberal; the other judge, not quite so many years ago, who gave a light rape sentence because the convicted rapist hadn't "shredded" his victim's vagina isn't a flaming liberal.

    These aren't the weird, arcane issues facing the Supreme Court, like why we'll carve out an exception for a school district that broke the law (Safford), but punish a public agency that followed the law (Ricci). Nor are these the weird occasions when we hear conservative pundits denouncing liberal judicial activism because the Supreme Court just upheld one of the most conservative state benches in the country (Roper); nor one of those things where conservatives complain about not being able to use democracy to hurt people they don't like (Romer).

    There is a lot in conservative politicking that smacks of a notion that they can't tell the difference; sometimes it seems they even slip into parody, such as trying to convince us that men are the real victims of sexual harassment, or supremacists are the real victims of discrimination related to gay people.

    But this?

    This is a valence of its own, and these really weird decisions that come when a judge pitches a temper tantrum never actually accomplish anything particularly progressive, liberal, or revolutionary, like inciting the issue of women's human rights, or advancing the Commune. It's always for crap like we see out of Hamilton County, Tennessee, where some idiot supremacist is pitching a fit because he's stuck with the horror of being merely equal to someone he doesn't like.

    Remember, when the politicians appeal to "family values", these are the values of ignorance, pride, and hatred, they are appealing to.


    McCormack, Simon. "Judge Won't Divorce Straight Couple Because Gay Marriage Is Legal". The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015. 3 September 2015.
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member


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    Steve Benen↱ raises a certain point―

    But all week, one thing about this story has bugged me: doesn’t Davis have a lawyer? Someone to represent her legal interests? What kind of counsel would go along with Davis’ scheme to ignore her oath, the law, a Supreme Court ruling, and court orders?

    ―that has a certain answer I've been aware of. Benen's question strikes me not so much as the setup it is, but, rather, a reasonable inquiry about competence of counsel.

    Kim Davis is represented by Mat Staver.

    The earliest I find Mr. Staver on our Sciforums radar is eleven years ago↗°, when he unsuccessfully argued in federal court that republican government, such as guaranteed in the Constitution, meant citizens and legislatures could ignore constitutions. Indeed, at the time, I wondered:

    Can anyone do a better job of explaining the traditionalists' position on this one? Are they really arguing that they're not free unless they're empowered to deny freedom to others? Are they really arguing that they're not equal unless they're endowed with special rights?

    Additionally, have they finally acknowledged that there is no democracy in the U.S.? And homosexuality is what pushed them to the edge?

    Watch the traditionalist platform: it changes to suit the occasion and always, always, always despises freedom and equality.

    I wonder why that is?

    Actually, I don't. It's pretty obvious that these folks have no respect for the U.S. Constitution, the United States of America, or their fellow human beings. They're willing to trash it all in order to get their way, and it's all about feeling morally superior to their neighbors.​

    Eleven years later, that still hasn't changed; neither, apparently, has Mat Staver of Liberty Council.

    In 2013 Staver turned up again, this time rallying behind reparative therapy and reminding that the real victims of gay rights were "ex-gays".

    And, of course, he's been busy pushing supremacism as equality↗.

    And now, he is Kim Davis' attorney. Benen continues:

    Staver argued this week, “[W]hat happened in Nazi Germany, what happened there first, they removed the Jews from government public employment, then they stopped patronizing them in their private businesses, then they continued to stigmatize them, then they were the ‘problems,’ then they killed them.” He added, “The fact of the matter is, she has a right to this employment and you don’t lose your constitutional liberties just because you are employed by the government.”

    A day later, Staver repeated the Nazi analogy: “Back in the 1930s, it began with the Jews, where they were evicted from public employment, then boycotted in their private employment, then stigmatized and that led to the gas chambers. This is the new persecution of Christians here in this country.”

    Staver’s name is probably unfamiliar to much of the American mainstream, but for those who follow the religious right movement closely, he’s a familiar figure – best known for pushing an odd, anti-gay worldview. His group, Liberty Counsel, was created by the late right-wing televangelist Jerry Falwell.

    Davis, in other words, appears to be making some poor choices, based in part on dubious legal guidance. Indeed, some in Kentucky’s legal community believe Staver and his partners “may have violated their duty to tell her she had no case.”

    While Benen may be correct that Mr. Staver's name has not achieved household familiarity, it is also true that his name turns up so much that it becomes background noise.

    Still, here arises a context in which Kim Davis may be viewed as an actual victim. Is she going to jail for the sake of bad legal advice?

    No, really, think about this. Staver's last big victory, the track record on which his prominence at Liberty Counsel, a Falwell organization, rests, is a Pledge of Allegiance case stretching back even before he bitterly complained about losing on gay rights in Massachusetts.

    His track record on gay rights is exactly awful.

    Nor am I the first to notice; in truth, I ought to have recognized the significance much earlier. Mark Joseph Stern↱ of Slate raised the issue on Monday:

    More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

    Nor am I finding a way around the point that doesn't involve warping the woof of reality in completely unnatural ways. Even his "Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage"↱ is built upon his longstanding, and e'er-losing assertion of supremacy as equality.

    And this is basic logic: Superiority under the law is not representative of equality. Purporting Christianity is no license to opt out of the supreme law of the land.


    ° It is worth noting that at some point after its publication, the Washington Post, for some reason, so altered the text of the story linked in that 2004 post that it is no longer the same report. The original text of the AP report, cited in that post, remains intact elsewhere:

    • Holland, Gina. "Court declines gay marriage case". The Herald-Tribune. 29 November 2004. 5 September 2015.

    Benen, Steve. "This Week in God, 9.5.15". msnbc. 5 September 2015. 5 September 2015.

    Stern, Mark Joseph. "Is Kentucky’s Infamous Anti-Gay Clerk Getting Taken for a Ride by Her Lawyers?". Slate. 31 August 2015. 5 September 2015.

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