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Entries in Gay Rights (14)

Tuesday
Dec072010

Villains Posing as Victims

Over the course of yesterday while I was working I kept an eye on one of the most divisive issues of my generation.  Should same-sex marriage be legal?  I realize that this court case is playing out in California, but as we know, the decisions made in these courts will become precedent that could help or hinder the march toward equality throughout the country.

With all of that said, here is what I have gleaned from the events of the trial so far.  The lawyers that are arguing that same-sex marriage should be illegal really don’t have much of a leg to stand on.  They are using the same old talking points that have either been disproved (children will be harmed if they are raised by a same-sex couple) or are simply discriminatory (same-sex couples are not as good as their heterosexual counterparts).

The main problem for those standing in the way of same-sex marriage is simply that there is no good reason for keeping Lesbian and Gay couples who are in love from getting married.  From everything that NOM (National Organization for Marriage) has said so far it looks more and more like this trial is less about winning (Keeping Prop8 on the books) than it is about making noise.  NOM has already set the stage to play the part of the victim in this case, saying that the judges are biased because one of their spouses works for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and has previously worked on this case.  That is all well and good, but we all know that if the shoe was on the other foot and one of the judges had a spouse that worked for NOM, they wouldn’t be saying a word.

What this all comes down to is that NOM and its supporters will continue to undermine our constitution and try to paint themselves as victims all the way to the supreme court.

From what I have seen, I am hopeful.  The thin arguments that are being offered by opponents of same-sex marriage coupled with the strong arguments being put forth by the lawyers fighting for equality lead me to believe that equality will triumph over hatred in the end.

 

 



Sunday
Oct102010

One Year Ago

It has been just over a year since I launched Whatisyourgay.com with the support of a few friends and family.  Admittedly I have not been as good at keeping up with it as I had originally hoped, but I found something very interesting.  In the process of launching this site I spoke with many of my gay friends, many whom said they would be happy to record their story to share on the site.  A year later there are only three.

Over the past month it feels like the LGBT community has been delivered one piece of bad news after the next.  From a young man killing himself because of his sexuality and the thoughtless acts of his peers, the brutal beating of three men by a gang of nine, to the defeat of repeal for DADT.

These are certainly strange times that we live in.  For the past for or five years I felt like things were getting better for the LGBT community, but in the past few months I have felt things slipping backwards.  Of course strides are still being made in the fight for LGBT rights, but the news of late has been disheartening.

The easiest thing for all of us to do would be to hide, to shrink back because we are afraid.  Instead, I believe we need to band together and make our voices heard.  A project was recently launched called the It Gets Better Project which is asking people to record videos about their experiences growing up gay to help guide those that are being bullied, and give them hope for the future.

I can’t say I am not jealous as the project already has hundreds of videos and has been around for less than a month.  However, the goal of the It Gets Better Prjoect and the goal of Whatisyourgay are one and the same.  The goal is to provide hope for future generations, to let them know that this too shall pass and that they will come out on the other side a stronger person.

In honor of National Coming Out Day tomorrow October 11th I am asking anyone out there who has the means to record a video and make their voices heard to do so.  If you want to send it to me to post on this site great, just click here to see how.  If you want to post it to the It Gets Better Project great, just click here to see how, or do both.

At a time of great sadness in the LGBT community, we can either turn our backs to the world and hide, or we can stand together.  I am asking you to plant your flag in the sand and stand with me.  Share your story and your ideas of what being gay means.  Together we can ensure a better future for those that will follow.





Tuesday
Mar162010

Turning the Rainbow Green

Tomorrow marks St. Patrick’s Day.  A day set aside by many to drink and be merry while wearing green and proclaiming their Irish history.   Boston, a city known for its large Irish community has already held its parade, but something was missing.  Since 1737 Boston has been hosting the oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the United States and some believe the world. With the first Parade in Ireland not being held until 1931.

You might be thinking, a parade that has been around this long surely must be easily coordinated.  What could be missing?  What is missing from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston and indeed in many other cities is the voice of the gay community.  In 1995 the highest court in the United States voted that parade coordinators may deny entry of any groups they choose into their event.  There was hope that when the longtime organizer of the Boston parade retired last year that things would be different.  Sadly that was not the case.

It seems odd for a state like Massachusetts, one of the few states in the US to allow gay marriage to block this group of people from a parade.  Even in the Roman Catholic bastion that is Ireland the idea of homosexuality, and gay marriage has steadily been progressing.

In 1981 the European High Court of Human Rights struck down Northern Ireland’s criminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults.  Six years later the people of Ireland elected the first openly gay person to public office in the form of David Norris.  A year later Norris won his case Norris V. Ireland and the European Court of Human Rights struck down a law that criminalized male-to-male sexual acts.  Today same-sex couples are allowed to marry in Northern Ireland as they are in the United Kingdom, but Ireland remains unmoved in its definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.  In recent years public opinion polls have shown a greater percent of the population is open to the idea of same-sex marriages. In fact, the group MarriageEquality reports that 62% (as of February 2009) of the population now supports allowing gay couples to marry.

It seems odd then that gay groups are still being denied the chance to participate in St. Patrick’s Day parades.  After all there are many gay people who count themselves as Irish citizens or being of Irish heritage.  Indeed Ireland has enough gay history that author Brian Lacey has written a book about it.  For a holiday that seems to be less and less about the celebration of St. Patrick and more and more about drinking to excess, who really care’s if some of the gay community puts away the rainbow flag for a day and dons their finest green to take part?

Links of Interest:

Terrible Queer Creatures: A History of Homosexuality in Ireland by Brian Lacey

Gay Ireland

St. Patrick's Day

Monday
Feb152010

A Veteran's Take on DADT

On Friday we received an email from Michael Anthony and want to share it with all of you.  Michael Anthony is the author of MASS CASUALTIES: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq (Adams Media, October 2009). The book is drawn from the personal journals of Anthony during the 1st year he spent serving in Iraq. It is a non-partisan look at some of the escapades that go on behind the scenes in Iraq.

As a point of reference for our readers Anthony is also straight.  His sexuality really does not matter except in this case, especially when you take into account that he is friends with gays in the military.  Shocking we know.  Enjoy...

Don’t ask…ahh…too late.

My name is Michael Anthony,  I am an Iraq war veteran and having spent six years in the Army, at the age of twenty-three, I have spent more than a quarter of my life in service to this country.  I have four older brothers and an older sister, all of whom have been in the military: Air Force, Marines and Army.  My father and both my grandfathers were in the military.

Hailing originally for a small sheltered town just south of Boston Massachusetts, I say this in all earnestness: the only gay people I know have all been in the military.  This is not a joke or some talking point, it’s literal.  Generals, Commanders and Civilians can talk all they want, but the fact of the matter is, the only gay friends I've had have all been in the military, in fact, my only experience of gay people(outside of the military) is when I once watched and episode of the TV show Will and Grace (it was kind of funny).

For the policy known as DADT, there is one thing people often forget.  People forget that the policy doesn’t preclude gay people from entering the military it just precludes them from talking about their homosexuality.  In short, someone can be gay in the military; they just can’t talk about being gay in the military.

If people are already in the military and gay—from my former unit alone I know close to a dozen—what is it that people are afraid will happen with the repeal of DADT?  Are people afraid that the day after DADT is rescinded; gay soldiers are going to walk in wearing a feather boa and buttless fatigues?  The uniform policy will still be in effect so we can cross that option out.  Are people afraid that it’s going to hurt troop morale?   The Military suicide rate is at a thirty year high having consistently risen for the past five years, with eighteen veterans killing themselves everyday (according to the VA) so it seems like it can’t get any worse.

With everything said, there is a negative aspect to repealing DADT.  Having been in the military all my adult years, my peer group is filled with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.  Several of these war veterans having done two or three tours, have sworn that they will never go back to Iraq or Afghanistan.  Upon further questioning on how they plan to get out deployment if called, their answer is simple: “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expounding further, they say that if they’re called up, they will simply kiss a member of the same sex—in front of their commander.  So how is repealing DADT going to affect the military?  The answer is simple…my friends who jokingly suggested using DADT as a way to get out of a deployment are now stuck going to Iraq or Afghanistan.

And please don’t even get me started on the escapades that go on overseas.  But hey, what happens in Iraq stays in Iraq…ahh not quite.

On behalf of the Whatisyourgay.com team I would like to thank Michael Anthony for sharing this with us and for his dedicated service to the United States.

 

Related Links:

Mass Casualties

Tuesday
Feb022010

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the Road to Repeal?

Today in congressional hearings we heard statements from Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen and then senators were allowed to ask some questions.  After watching all 75 minutes of the hearings I can tell you that this is going to be an issue that is taken down party lines.  Without a doubt the majority of the Republicans asking questions or in some cases making statements about this issue are in favor of keeping the discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in place.  There was however what seemed to be on exception in the form of Maine’s Junior Senator Susan Collins (see clip below) who asked perhaps the best questions of anyone at the hearings.

Meanwhile Senator John McCain stood by his hate speech and waved around a document holding the signatures of over 1,000 former service members who oppose lifting the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  McCain simply ended up looking like a petulant child (see clip below), but what can we expect from someone as close-minded as this man who is happy to use members of the LGBT community to defend a country that does not accept them for who they are.

This policy is of particular importance to me as I have had many members of my family serve in the military and have friends serving now.  To the point that some of the senators made in today’s hearings about gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in foreign militaries I have an interesting inside perspective.  In 2006 while I was studying in London I had the great fortune of meeting and entering a relationship with a man who now serves in the British military as an openly gay man.  From the conversations that we have had it is for the most part a non-issue.  While he sometimes feels a bit lonely because he is the only openly gay man in his unit, his sexuality does not impact how his unit functions in the least.

There was one other moment of today’s hearings that struck me as particularly interesting and enlightening into how some of the Republican’s are approaching this issue.  From listening to Jeff Sessions the junior senator of Alabama it seemed that he was not at all concerned with the number of service members who had been discharged under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  Sessions said that the number of soldiers who have been discharged add up to a fraction of a percent.  Now, call me crazy but at a time when the United States is involved in two wars (as Senator Sessions’ colleagues pointed out numerous times) and now that we are involved in the relief effort in Haiti, wouldn’t we want as many service members as possible?  Even if we are discharging a fraction of a percent of our service members I think losing one capable soldier to this policy is one too many.

Senator Susan Collins

Senator John McCain

Senator Claire McCaskill

 

For an unedited version of the hearings please click here