Thursday, June 09, 2011

NOM - anti-gay marriage amendments keep lgbt teens safe

Oh Brian Brown, you make it so easy.

Sometimes I enjoy reading the posts from the National Organization for Marriage's president Brian Brown. My fellow lgbts and our allies tend to get angry at his basic lies (i.e portraying the entire lgbt community and those who support marriage equality as bullies while conveniently ignoring the how his group stoops to demonizing lgbts) and the "ha, ha, ha, we are protecting marriage and the gays are losing" tone his posts tend to take.

I choose not to fall for the subterfuge and mind games because that's all it is. Brown says what he says because he needs an excuse to raise funds (or rather pretend to raise funds. We all have an idea where NOM's money really comes from).

I would rather focus on the cluelessness of his words. They do more than enough to betray the absolute emptiness of Brown's position and those who believe as he does.

Last week he made a complete ass of himself and NOM by pushing a lie that students in schools were forced to learn about gender identity in schools without their parents' permission even though a video NOM put on its blog and a news story the organization linked to showed otherwise.

The question this week is can Brown top his nonsense from last week? Why of course he can:

The CDC released a report showing that teenagers who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender engage in much, much higher rates of behavior suggesting social, emotional, or psychological distress, including smoking cigarettes, binge drinking, and attempting suicide.

The media and many experts were quick to say social stigma is the main culprit. Surely it plays a role.

But buried in the same report are data from two different states, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. One has had gay marriage since 2003, and the other has had a marriage amendment since 2006.

Which do you suppose is a safer place for LGBT teens?

The answer: Wisconsin by a mile. For example, about 25 percent of Massachusetts teens who self-identify as "gay" said they had missed schools because they felt unsafe, compared to 14 percent of Wisconsin teens. More than half (50.5 percent) of Massachusetts gay teens said they felt "sad or hopeless" compared to 29 percent of Wisconsin teens. Thirty-three percent of Massachusetts gay teens attempted suicide, compared to less than 20 percent of Wisconsin teens. Massachusetts gay teens were about twice as likely as Wisconsin gay teens to commit a suicide attempt serious enough to require medical care (15 percent to 8 percent). (By contrast, heterosexual teens in both states were about equally likely to have committed a suicide attempt that required medical care: around 2 percent.)

It's hard to be a gay teen, but if you are going to be one, it's much better to live in Wisconsin, a state which passed a marriage amendment by 60 percent, than Massachusetts, a state which has gay marriage.

First of all, I want to give Brown a little credit. Usually when religious right figures cite studies regarding homophobia and how it contributes to negative behavior amongst lgbts - particularly lgbt teens - they blame the negative behavior on the lgbt orientation, making sure to omit the part about how the homophobia plays a significant role (I'm talking to you, Family Research Council.)

Is the Catholic Church overstepping its bounds in marriage equality fight ?

The more the National Organization for Marriage fight against marriage equality statewide, the more it becomes clear just how deep the Catholic Church seems to be involved in the organization's efforts.

And now with the campaigns in New York and Minnesota, possibility is becoming a bit more disturbing. Today, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, wrote a piece called Marriage amendment deserves our support. Nienstedt is speaking about the amendment which will be voted on by Minnesotans in 2012:

Theologically, the definition of marriage predates any government or religious denomination. As we read in the Bible, it reflects God’s plan for man and woman to share in his creative power of bringing new life into the world (Genesis 1:27-28). This is ratified by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:8-9. It is a truth that is also evident in light of the natural moral law, which grounds our understanding of the dignity that belongs to each human person.

In addition, the very biological, not to mention spiritual, complementarity of the two sexes defines the reproductive nature of their relationship which, in turn, enhances the well-being and joy of that union. The enfleshed oneness of a man and a woman is indeed a communion of life and love.

Ironically, Nienstedt chose to end his piece by publishing, word-for-word a piece from Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan called Marriage: the core of every civilization. New York is also facing a fight over marriage equality.

Nienstedt really shouldn't have bothered because Dolan's piece says pretty much the same thing as his:

“We are not anti anybody; we are pro-marriage. The definition of marriage is a given: it is a lifelong union of love and fidelity leading, please God, to children, between one man and one woman.”

“History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so. The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.”

I can't help wondering if the two archbishops wrote these pieces themselves or did they lend their name to press releases written by someone else?

Am I being paranoid? Maybe or maybe not. NOM is already rumored to be a bit more linked to the Catholic Church than a non-profit group should be. From the webpage NOM Exposed:

NOM is comparatively unguarded about its ties to the Catholic Church, acknowledging that its early funds in California came from “well-off Catholic individuals,” and NOM openly aligned with the Catholic Archdiocese in Maine. The largest known donation to NOM is $1.4 million from the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus in 2009; that comes on top of the Knights’ $500,000 donation in 2008.

All three of NOM’s top leaders – Brian Brown, current president, Maggie Gallagher, founding president, and Robert George, board chairman emeritus – are Catholics. Additionally, NOM founding board member Luis Tellez, is a numerary of Opus Dei, a highly secretive Catholic organization. He lives in a house on the Princeton University campus that the Daily Princetonian has described as the hub of Opus Dei activities in the area.

NOM and the Catholic Church teamed up to fund almost the entire Maine campaign against same-sex marriage in 2009. According to the Bangor Daily News, “…$1.1 million of the $1.4 million raised by Stand for Marriage Maine in October 2009 came from a single source: the National Organization for Marriage. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has poured more than $550,000 into the campaign to repeal the law, including more than $150,000 from its general treasury since October 1, 2009. The Portland diocese also collected more than $200,000 for Stand for Marriage Maine from bishops and dioceses outside of Maine.”

According to Jeremy Hooper of, Gallagher appeared at “a ‘private meeting for Catholic clery’…at the request of Maine’s Bishop Malone” in Maine in September 2009 at the height of the Question 1 campaign.

At least a half-dozen Roman Catholic bishops met with NOM board chairman emeritus Robert George to discuss his 4700-word manifesto called the “Manhattan Declaration” that warned of civil disobedience if same-sex marriage or stem cell research were approved by the New York legislature. According to Church & State, the Declaration “also represents perhaps the most far-reaching effort to date to juice up the Religious Right by adding the political power and media respectability of the Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies.”

I'm certainly not trying to offend anyone who is Catholic but the subject of marriage equality isn't necessarily a religious issue. It's a state issue. The Catholic Church is not forced to marry same-sex couples.

Now as for the adoption mess (i.e. the Catholic Charities in Illinois which are suing for the right to use taxpayer money to discriminate against same-sex couples), I stand by the belief that the Catholic Charities shouldn't take state money if they aren't willing to follow state rules. There is nothing with the Catholic Charities pursuing private adoptions.

But the fact of the matter is this - I feel very uncomfortable when I think of the possibility of how deep the Catholic Church is putting itself into this state issue. I think people should vote as their faith dictates. But I have a serious problem with a church official using his office or name to marshal  large groups of people to vote in a particular way. And my problems become even more deep when I realize that the church where that official belongs is tax-exempt.

And the Catholic Church is rumored to be involved in efforts to hinder marriage equality via NOM in ways that may not ethical or legal. Perhaps this is why NOM has fought so hard against statewide disclosure laws.

An entity flexing its power over how large groups of people should vote while being exempt from laws which cover this sort of thing is a dangerous entity in terms of manpower and money. Moreover this entity's actions is a slap in the face to an American core belief - the right to vote as your conscience dictates and not be threatened via implied threats, be they physical (you are going to be murdered) or spiritual (you are voting against God's law and will go to hell for it.)

It's definitely a license to create havoc. You may not think it's a big deal but it is. In fact, it is a nasty precedent. Today it's marriage equality. Tomorrow it could be another issue decided, not by individual choice, but by spiritual groupthink.

The Catholic Church needs to be upfront with just deeply involved it is with the political fight of marriage equality. And if it has legally or ethically overstepped its bounds, then the Catholic Church needs to make amends.

You cannot defend morality through unethical actions.

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Why 'ex-gay' pride month is a bad idea and other Thursday midday news briefs

Focus On The Family Leader: Why Not Have An Ex-Gay Pride Month? - Cause no one exciting would come to the events and the parades would be boring as hell!

Rick Perry’s Prayer Event Confirmed As Anti-Gay - To the surprise of no one, of course.

Related post - Perry's prayer event will put Christianity's worst on display

NYC: Another anti-gay rally, another civil marriage/personal faith obfuscation - Great. ANOTHER homosexuality is the tool of Satan reference. So much for the civil conversation, NOM.

Portland City Council Unanimously Approves Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits - Good for Portland!

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Rick Santorum demonstrates hypocrisy of 'intolerant homosexuals' lie

An upcoming article from the Associated Press will feature a host of religious right leaders whining their familiar refrain that they are in fact the victims of so-called lgbt aggression.

It's a nonsensical view. And the lgbt community can easily prove this by pointing to the comments of one of the religious right's favorite "joyboys" - presidential candidate and former Senator, Rick Santorum.

Yesterday, Santorum said that if elected, he would support a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage:

Santorum - Once people realize the consequence to society of changing this definition, it’s not that we’re against anybody. People can live the life they want to live. They can do whatever they want to do in the privacy of their home with respect to that activity. Now you’re talking about changing the laws of the country. and it could have a profound impact on society, on faith, on education. Once people realize that, they say, you know what, we respect people’s life to live the life they want to lead but don’t change how with that definition.

That "people can live the life they want to live but they have no right to mess with marriage" junk is the same stuff organizations like the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research peddles.

And it's a lie that reduces lgbt lives to that of sexual activity. Furthermore, these groups do not feel that lgbts can live the life we want to live, seeing how they interfere with our right to be free from discrimination and to raise children.

Funny I should mention that last part. Santorum has opinions about lgbts raising children:

Long story short - Santorum said that it is "common sense" that we should not "defy nature" just because "a certain group of people want to be affirmed by society."

It gets more interesting. In an interview earlier this year with Glenn Beck, Santorum responded to charges from former Congressman Alan Simpson that he makes cruel comments about lgbts by reiterating that "gay sex" should be outlawed:

Santorum - There were no “cruel, cruel” remarks. All I can ponder is that Alan Simpson is talking about a comment that I made, which I paraphrased, almost word for word, but paraphrased a Supreme Court justice in a case called Lawrence v. Texas, before that case came out, which had to do with, as you know, a Supreme Court case on the issue of sodomy, and I said that if you have -- if the Supreme Court changes the legal standard to say that sexual -- consensual sexual activity is now a constitutional right, then we open up the gates for all sorts of consensual activity.

 . . . It’s not homophobic. It’s a legal argument, and it’s a correct legal argument. In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening. We went from Lawrence v. Texas to now a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and they’re going into a constitutional right to polyamorous relationships. This is the slippery slope that we’re heading down, and I stand by it.

No matter how he tries to justify it,  if Santorum had his way, lgbts would be unable to marry, adopt children, or be free from criminal prosecution under trumped up "morals" charges.

The sad reality is that if Santorum had said these things about any other group - i.e. Latinos, those of the Jewish faith, African-Americans - he would be rode out on a rail.

BUT since his comments were directed to lgbts, the usual appropriate levels of shock and derision that come when folks make prejudiced and insensitive comments don't apply here.

Why is that? Or better yet, that fact that it is this way is a sad indictment on this country.

No person who has been as vindictive as Santorum has to lgbts deserves to be treated as a serious presidential contender.

And no one who supports his mess should be considered as victims when the subjects of their ire responds to being disrespected (albeit in reasonable manners).

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