Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Scientists Say Enough to Right-Wing Manipulation of Their Work

The religious right defends its intolerance towards gays and lesbians by generating misleading statistics about them. For example, groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council claim that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles than straight men simply by calling men who abuse boys "gay," rather than pedophiles. A greater proportion of child molesters choose victims of the same sex than consenting adults choose partners of the same sex, so there you have it: Gay men molest boys. (Confused? You should be.)

They also claim again and again that children do best with a mother and a father. That's not what the research says. Research says that kids do better with two parents than one, but parents' gender and orientation have no effect. Just as their bogus studies make a mockery of science, so does their success getting their views reported by media outlets trying to be balanced make a mockery of that basic journalistic tenet.

Well, at long last, the scientists whose professional studies are being cherry-picked and distorted to bolster the religious right's claims have created a website to refute the misuse of their work. The site, RespectMyResearch.org, lists the studies that have been distorted and explains how. It also has a portal researchers can use to report misuse of their findings.

If only mainstream media outlets will check it before they publish bogus claims fed to them by right-wing think tanks, maybe some intelligent public dialogue about GLBT issues will follow.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What Is a Dyke to Wear to Host the Oscars?

So Ellen hosted the Oscars ceremony and Melissa Etheridge won one. Dykes have made it right? Maybe not. The media has its panties in a wad about Ellen's bad--er, dykey--fashion. I posted on this at Mother Jones. I could repost here, but half the fun is seeing it there.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In Which I Pump You Up, Only to Bring You Back Down Again

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports today that two breakthrough bills for gays and lesbians are likely to be passed by the new Democratic Congress. Both possibilities have me on the brink of tears of joy, they are so overdue and yet still seem so implausible. The first is an employment discrimination ban. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) projects that the bill will even include gender identity—which, to have any teeth, it must, lest employers say “it wasn’t that Cameron sleeps with women that bothered us, it’s that Cameron stomps around acting like a man!” (Let's translate this argument: "It's not that Cameron is a dyke that bothers us, it's that Cameron acts like a dyke!") A gender identity clause would also stop harassment of men who are perceived as effeminate whether or not they are actually gay.

The only problem with this bill—and it’s a major one—is that churches and small businesses would be exempt. Churches: Feh—I don't have the energy to wade into the constitutionally murky waters of whether they should be exempt or not. But small businesses, which is to say most businesses? Why should they be exempt? No one is talking about a quota; the issue is whether GLBT people are turned away from positions for which they are qualified.

The other bill would include GLBT identity among those covered by hate-crimes legislation. That's right, nearly 10 years after Matthew Shephard was executed there is no national hate-crimes protection for GLBT people, who make up 14 percent of all victims of hate crimes. If that's not reason enough to support it, here's what Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has to say: "It's taking us to the point where anyone who opposes the sexual behavior of homosexuals will be silenced." Now, he's probably exaggerating (he also claimed that gay-rights groups exaggerate the extent of discrimination as a means of accomplishing their broader political agenda...to not be discriminated against), but just for a moment imagine the utopia of slapping lawsuits on groups like Perkins' who invent slanderous anecdotes and statistics about GLBTs and spend millions lobbying against their civil rights. The sweet, sweet silence of it.

But, before you get too hopeful dear reader, remember in whose hand the veto pen rests.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rampant Abuse of GLBT Students in US Schools

A study released last week by Human Rights Watch reads, in part:

In the United States, only 55 percent of students say they feel safe in school. Human Rights Watch found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in many U.S. schools are particularly vulnerable to unrelenting harassment from their peers. Despite the pervasiveness of the abuse, few school officials intervened to stop the harassment or to hold the abusive students accountable; in fact, some teachers and administrators encouraged or participated in the abuse. Over time, verbal harassment often escalated into sexual harassment and other forms of physical violence.

Turns out all the drumming up of anti-gay sentiment Republicans have been doing to win elections has real consequences. For kids.

In the "It's About Time" Department...

A lesbian couple staged a non-violent sit-in at Focus on the Family today, after they were refused permission to talk with founder/leader James Dobson. More! Bigger! Better!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Anglicans Make Big Show of Homophobia...Yawn.

This whole Peter Akinola homophobia thing is getting kind of tiresome, so I'm not going to write much about it, but Akinola, the leader of the Anglican church of Nigeria, and 6 other church leaders from developing countries refused to take communion with the U.S.'s bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, at an international church meeting in Tanzania, the Washington Post reports.

I've written elsewhere about what a raging homophobe this guy is, and how the American Episcopalian churches that have spurned Jefferts Schori's leadership for his are completely nuts.

But what I haven't said elsewhere is that the rift in the Anglican/Episcopalian church actually began when women were allowed to join the clergy, so it's especially fitting that Jefferts Schori be the one to hold her own against the secessionists.

Blogging about this same issue for the fourth or fifth time, it also occurs to me that perhaps the press could do a better job of covering gay issues than to have their coverage focus on churches that reject homophobia. Yes, it might take a little bit of work and may even involve a tiny bit of an agenda to decide to cover something rather than letting events wash over you in Zen fashion, but it's ignorance about gay people that allows hate crime and bogusly unconstitutional legislation to bloom—and journalists either care about the constitution or they like to use jail stints as street cred.

Now this second part isn't ground for the Washington Post, but has anyone done a really good analysis of what the Bible actually says about homosexuality? Because the Bible says a lot of shit, and I know it includes coveting thy neighbor's wife and taking the Lord's name in vain in its top 10, from which gay sex is markedly absent. Since those two seem more sinful and are also more common, maybe we should stamp them out before we even consider homosexuality? Just a thought.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Texas Lez 3, Texas Leg 0 (Or, My Grudge Against Warren Chisum)

Way back in 1999, a ridiculous Texas lawmaker named Warren Chisum was on the record defending the state's sodomy ban (which applied to hets as well as homos, prompting one sane and humorous lawmaker to ask Chisum if she should go to jail if her husband happened to slip during intercourse [and by the way, we're laughing with her husband, not at him: it's easier to do than you might think!]). Chisum also supported a law that would prevent gay couples—and all households of which any member is suspected of homosexuality—from adopting.

Wow, I was one pissed off little baby bulldagger those days, since I was living in Texas and had just been thrown out of a creative writing class because my queer politics were disruptive—about which the University of Texas said, "Wait, are you calling this sexual harassment? Because it's not, and that's the only way we could make a case against it."

But I digress. Chisum. Yes, Chisum continues to be the world's biggest asshole, claiming—gosh it seems like yesterday, but it was actually a whole week ago!—that Jews invented the theory of evolution (and the Copernican revolution), making it a religious theory that cannot be taught in public schools. (Silly reader, Christian theories are OK, because, well, the people that made them up didn't have big noses!)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nigeria: Homosexuality Is "Barbaric and Shameful"

Nigeria's parliament moved a step closer to passing the sweeping anti-gay legislation supported by Peter Akinola, the leader of the rogue U.S. Episcopalian churches. Supporters of the law say it upholds the country's cultural values, which is confusing to me because I thought "culture" was what the people made it, not what the government dictated. Good news (?): One sane MP mentioned that it would be a good idea to "remember to protect people's rights even if they are a minority."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?

Maybe it's because the camp gene is right next to the gay gene, but I heart tribute bands. I'm not sure how I feel about Rolling Stone reviewing them, but it is. Still, I can't help but be titillated by their mention of transgendered bands like Lez Zeppelin and (male) Madonna. I've been giving Klezbians and Isle of Klesbos CDs for gifts for years, for the name alone! But the idea of some dykes rocking out to "I've gotta little woman but she won't be true" is just too fantastic. I love the underground, irreverent humor, especially as it pertains to gender, about which we tend to be sooo reverent. But if Rolling Stone is covering it, does that mean it's already over?

Update: Buzz-kill, I got some PR photos of Lez Zeppelin and, oops, it turns out they aren't using the word "lez" ironically. Their T-shirt says "All Women, All Zeppelin," and they would so not be hot singing "I gotta little woman..." Meanwhile, I was repeatedly scolded for not pimping AC/DShe, which I didn't pimp because of the whole "she" thing. Just goes to show, you can't judge a band by its name. I will say that Zeppelin is, in my opinion, a better band on balance. But go see AC/DShe, OK?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

WWTD (What Would Tzara Do)?

I'm a big fan of Dada activism. So are the folks at the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance. Following the state of Washington's high court ruling [PDF] last summer that it was fair to limit marriage to heterosexuals because marriage serves the purposes of procreation, the group has decided to call the state's bluff. They are proposing legislation requiring married heterosexual couples to procreate within three years--or have their marriage forcibly dissolved. In principle, I like this approach, and I seem to have good company. But I don't think I would actually sign a petition supporting it. Gay groups trying to earn respectability have balked because they don't want to "be seen as taking anyone else's rights away." My problem is that there's too much Dada in the law already, particularly when it comes to sexuality, so I think the joke would be lost. (Is requiring the would-be bride and groom to promise that they "are capable of having children with one another" that different from requiring them to promise that neither is a transsexual, as one county in Ohio does?) I think proposing the measure is a winner, but unless I created a funny alias, I wouldn't be signing any petitions.

P.S. Tristan Tzara, author of the "Dada Manifesto," was a huge misogynist and homophobe, so the question is actually a puzzler.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Flow Chart: Gay? --> No

Supporters of Michigan's amendment refusing to recognize same sex marriage "for any purpose" claimed in their campaign that they did not intend or expect the amendment to revoke benefits.


A Michigan appeals court ruled yesterday that the wording means that employers cannot provide benefits for same-sex domestic partners. The suit was filed by the ACLU after the state attorney general issued a legal opinion that public employers could no longer offer benefits to same-sex couples shortly after the amendment was passed.

Call me naive, but shouldn't the attorney general have called the amendment's supporters' bluff when they lied about the content of the measure put before voters? Is there no provision anywhere in our legal system demanding that the voters know exactly what they're voting on when they vote on it?

Now take the statements made by the executive director of the Michigan Family Forum, (wait for it) Brad Snavely. "No one knew for sure what the language would mean," said Snavely. But, now that a court has determined that the language denies gays benefits, he hopes judges in other states will follow suit.

Let's recap what Snavely is sniveling about. Queers cannot marry because it's a sin. Straights can. If straights choose not to marry (which is also a sin), they still get benefits. Queers cannot, under any circumstances, get benefits.

Part of me is tempted to say that the situation has gotten so absurd, that surely the ACLU will win on appeal, and may even have other broadly worded amendments deemed unconstitutional (or is that impossible, since they've been voted in to the constitution?). But I said that in my last blog post. And I recently watched a truly amazing (seriously) movie about Anne Frank, which drove home the point that millions of Jews in Europe didn't leave when they had the chance because they thought surely things would get better.