Monday, November 30, 2009

"The Truth Tonight..."

For Stephen Christopher Harris

"The Truth Always Prevails"

"In The News Today..."

Alex Freyre and partner Jose Maria Di Bello, Latin America's first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage licence Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

Gay Argentine Couple's Wedding Plans Divide An Entire Continent

Two Argentinians will this week become the first gay couple in Latin America to get married, following a three-year campaign that pitted politician against politician, overturned laws and angered millions of Catholics.

Annie Kelly
The Observer, Sunday 29 November 2009

The Beruti register office in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires will never have witnessed a marriage like it. On Tuesday, Alex Freyre and José María Di Bello, who met three years ago at a conference on HIV, will make history and divide a continent as they become Latin America's first gay married couple.

The ceremony will be a tribute to their determination as well as their love for each other, after a bitter three-year campaign which has divided a city, outraged Argentina's powerful Roman Catholic church and overturned the constitution.

Freyre and Di Bello's forthcoming nuptials have been debated on television, in churches and on the street. Hostile posters can be found on billboards across the city. But, in Di Bello's words, nothing can now prevent him and his partner becoming "husband and husband".

Not surprisingly, the marriage is already being hailed by equality activists as a significant triumph against the odds in a traditionally macho society. Argentina – and Latin America in general – is not known for a tolerance of sexual diversity, and violence against gays is an everyday occurrence.

"This marriage is bigger than José María and I," Freyre told the Observer. "It is a victory for all who face prejudice and discrimination across Latin America and the Caribbean. It is proof that at last the grip of the Catholic church is slipping across Latin America, the system that has kept gay communities silent and fearful is crumbling. What is happening on Tuesday is a strike against those attitudes that have repressed sexual rights across this continent for too long."

The most controversial marriage in Argentina's history became possible when a city court judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for civil law to stipulate that a marriage can exist only between a man and a woman. The marriage licence was granted on 16 November. Since then, the couple and their lawyers have come under virulent attack from church leaders, who have warned that the marriage could act as the catalyst for the swift decline of the continent's traditional family values.

The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, has publicly lashed out at the city's mayor, Mauricio Macri, who decided not to lodge an appeal against the judge's decision to grant the marriage licence. An appeal by the city government against the judge's ruling would, in effect, have overturned the judge's decision and stopped the licence being granted. Bergoglio said that, in failing to act, Macri had "gravely failed" at his task of governing.

For his part, Macri issued a statement saying that he had gone through "an important internal debate", adding: "We have to live with and accept this reality: the world is moving in this direction." He said government officials should "safeguard the right of each person to freely choose with whom they want to form a couple and be happy".

Anti-Macri posters showing two men kissing and asking "Did you vote Macri for this?" have been plastered across Buenos Aires in protest at the marriage.

Last week, as media interest in the marriage reached fever pitch, Freyre and Di Bello spent their last days as single men crisscrossing Buenos Aires from TV studio to radio station. "It's become so much bigger than us that I forget that I'm actually getting married and we haven't even arranged anything for the wedding," said Freyre.

Freyre and Di Bello, both long-term activists and HIV and equality rights campaigners, are now offering their legal team to other couples who want to win the right to marry through city courts. "What can't happen is that this becomes a one-off," said Freyre. "We may have won our battle, but we don't want to be the exception."

Campaigners are now hoping that gay and lesbian couples in other cities will extend the fight to outside the capital. Claudio Rosso, a 32-year-old psychoanalyst from the city of Rosario, believes that the marriage will send a strong message that the law is finally supporting the rights of gay people across the country. "This can change the way the gay community perceives itself," said Rosso. "It will take time for this to have an impact outside of Buenos Aires, but for the gay community in Argentina the feeling that you have the law on your side creates a feeling of positivity and optimism that things can change."

Although the new judicial ruling sets no precedent beyond this case, lawyers for the couple hope the ruling will increase pressure on lawmakers to debate a gay marriage bill currently deadlocked in Congress.

"This is just one marriage in one city in Latin America, we are very far away from this right being extended across the country, let alone the continent," said Analia Mariel Mas, the lead lawyer working with the couple.

"Recently, we travelled with a delegation of equality rights campaigners to the north of the country, and had people waving crucifixes at us as if they were seeing Satan in human form. So there needs to be a change to the national legislation to force through changes and uphold our constitutional rights. Change won't happen if we try to do this case by case."

No country in Latin America allows gay marriage, although several cities in Mexico and Uruguay have followed Buenos Aires by allowing same-sex civil unions, which grant some of the rights accorded to married heterosexual couples. Earlier this year, Freyre and Di Bello rejected offers of a civil union, arguing that only marriage would give them the same legal rights and status in the eyes of the law. "We are citizens, so we are asserting our rights as citizens," said Freyre. "We have the right to the same legal status in the eyes of the law and deserve to be given the same legal protection as heterosexual couples."

Changing articles in Argentina's civil code to allow same-sex marriage has support among deputies in President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's ruling Peronist party, although the president herself has yet to take a stand.

The city is expecting large crowds to gather outside the register office on Tuesday, where plasma screens will broadcast the marriage ceremony. Security will be tight to deal with protesters.

In the cafes and bars of Buenos Aires, the marriage of Di Bello and Freyre has become a constant topic of conversation. The city is considered one of Latin America's "gay-friendly" cities and was the first place there to allow same-sex civil unions in 2002. But, for some, gay marriage is still a step too far.

On a corner in Palermo, close to where the wedding will take place, Bruno Cabral, a 42-year old civil engineer, sent an approving nod in the direction of a bank of anti-Macri posters. The marriage, he said, was an "abomination".

"Buenos Aires used to be a city which respected family, which respected traditional ways of life, but now look at what is happening, they are making mockery of marriage," he said. "This isn't a city I recognise any more."

Others see the marriage as a symbol of change for Argentina and for the continent. The wedding has received general support from the mainstream press, with many people expressing their approval of Freyre and Di Bello's right to marry.

"To me this marriage is perfect," said Cecilia Quiles, a 26-year-old office manager. "It is only changes like this which will move us to a place where we are all respecting each other. Those who call this marriage unnatural or wrong are living in the past. We are moving on."

Freyre and Di Bello say they will be relieved when the spotlight moves elsewhere after Tuesday's ceremony. "We have people calling us every day saying we are their heroes, people we don't know crying on the phone saying that Tuesday will be the best day of their life," said Freyre. "But we won't want to be heroes, all we wanted to do was get married. And now we've brought a little rainbow to Latin America, it's time for others to take up the banner as well and make us not the exception but the rule."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 176"

"Happy Together..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"It's Not So Funny..."

"The Artist's Corner"

"In Your Arms"
Raphael Perez
Oil on Canvas

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 174"

"It's Just Love... Nothing to Fear"

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 173"

"Love is Just Being Close to Him..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"It Can Be Like This..."

"Love, Marriage, Family..."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 172"

"We Give Thanks for Our Family..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Artist's Corner"

Charles Shultz

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Called to Serve

The military continues to operate under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which even the Pentagon says is unsubstantiated. As General McChrystal asks for more troops in Afghanistan, one gay Navy vet offers his service to his country in spite of the policy that would deny him.

By Christopher T. Landavazo

On May 13, 1996, I raised my right hand, took a solemn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic,” and bore “truth, faith, and allegiance to the same.” With those words I began my journey of public service as a sailor in the United States Navy.

More that a decade has passed since then, and although I upheld that oath, and wish to serve and protect my country again, I am now being rejected simply because I’m honest about who I am. The United States military desperately needs trained, dedicated personnel like me, but like many of my fellow LGBT patriots, I am denied that right under the bigoted and outdated policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

DADT is a flawed public policy that not only destroys the lives of great service members but deters young patriotic American gay youths from serving in our country’s armed forces and reaping the benefits of learning self-mastery and discipline and leading a life founded on the core values of “honor, courage, and commitment.”

Today, supporters of DADT are using the same antiquated lies about threats to unit cohesiveness as the basis of their argument against gays serving openly. These fallacies are very similar to the ones used in the past to argue against African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and women serving in our military. However bigots want to spin discrimination, each of those groups has produced soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who have helped win wars and secure peace and tranquility, and some have given their lives to preserve freedom and democracy. Many have become great generals, leaders, heroes, entertainers, civil rights leaders, artists, and Medal of Honor recipients such as Gen. Colin Powell (U.S. Army), Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (U.S. Army), actress Bea Arthur (U.S. Marine Corps), Carl Gorman (U.S. Marine Corps), and John Ortega (U.S. Navy). Yet even as I write, LGBT heroes remain unsung, serving in silence, and the sacrifices of their significant others are forgotten.

In the Navy I became an air traffic controller -- a job only a select few are suited for due to the high stress. My experience fashioned me into a self-motivated, highly dedicated, and disciplined team player and I rose in rank from E-1 (Seaman Recruit) to E-6 (Petty Officer 1st Class) in less than five years of service. Throughout my eight-year military career, I sought out and held several positions that were normally reserved for personnel of higher rank, including air transportation officer (ATO) aboard the forward deployed, Japan-based carriers USS Independence and USS Kitty Hawk, and base operations chief at the Naval Air Station in Point Mugu, Calif. In both positions I was responsible for the safety and security of many people, and I was entrusted with millions of dollars in equipment. As a result of my leadership abilities I became a highly decorated sailor and had earned letters of recommendation that would prompt my selection to become a naval aviation officer.

I was never a threat to unit cohesiveness. In fact I shared bonds of friendship with fellow straight sailors that still remain strong today. My most fond memories of the Navy come from my three years at sea. Two of those years were spent forward deployed aboard the last of the Navy’s all-male carries. I lived and worked in cramped quarters with 5,000 other men with very little privacy. As a matter of fact, it was in the Navy that I met my first gay friends. And although I was not out, there were a number of fellow shipmates who knew or suspected that I was gay, yet it did not matter to them because we were all one big family. Together, we lived and laughed, shared our victories, and mourned our losses. We went into areas of conflict and battle together, and we shared our hopes and dreams for our futures and the futures of our families together.
I reflect back to those days, my only regret is that I was not allowed to be more open and honest. The fact that I felt I had to hide the fact that I was gay, for fear I would be kicked out, was more of a hindrance to my relationships with shipmates than their anxiety of serving with gay sailors. Often in our downtime my shipmates would share photos or talk about their wives or girlfriend back home. I would retreat in the hopes that they would not notice, but I know they did. And it was always awkward and uneasy to be distant from the people who trusted me with their lives and whom I trusted with mine.

That situation was isolating because there was always that risk the wrong person would find out. Thus, I tried everything I could to hide and repress my truth. Ultimately this would impact my decision to leave the military, preventing me from realizing my full potential as a member of a military I love so dearly.

Although I was fortunate in that I was never dismissed from the military like Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach or Lt. Dan Choi, I did ultimately become a victim of DADT. Five years into my military enlistment I reached a crossroads and would be forced to choose between my dream of becoming a naval aviator and a chance to find true love, have a family, and live a full life. I had applied for the Aviation Enlisted Commissioning Program (AECP) and was one of three candidates selected Navy-wide to enter this highly competitive flight program. The excitement of being selected was only overshadowed by the grim reality that being gay in the military was dangerous. At this transitional point in my life, I was living in Ventura, Calif., and had only come out to a handful of friends.

As I began to realize the possible implications “don’t ask, don’t tell” could have on my career and livelihood, a mood of ambivalence overwhelmed me. These were very dark and troublesome days for me. I had given my all to earn a commission and to realize my dream of becoming a pilot and had tried so hard to fashion myself into the perfect sailor. I had succeeded and was selected to become a naval aviator. But no matter how solid my work and reputation, I would never be good enough for the military because I'm gay.

I had worked so hard to fulfill that dream of flying, but taking that opportunity would have meant denying myself love, a family, and equality.

I left the military very reluctantly to become a police officer in Ventura -- and elected to serve my country further in the Naval Reserves. My next eight years would become a time of intense personal leadership development, community activism, civic engagement, and a return to active duty.

The tragic events of 9/11 transpired while I was in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Academy. I had completed the academy and patrol training when suddenly I was called back to active duty. I was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and was utilized for force protection for almost a year. Upon completion of my second tour of duty I was honorably discharged from military service and returned home to Ventura. Although military life often meant making difficult sacrifices, I have always regarded my years in the military as some of the best years of my life.

I love being a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles, where I live now, however I do sometimes wonder what life would have been like had DADT not helped me decide to leave the military. I am deeply offended that our leaders in government, who have also taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, can sleep nights knowing that DADT continues to blatantly violate the ideals and values of equality and justice we hold so scared and consider to be fundamental to being Americans. Excellent gay servicemen and women are tarnished by dismissal under DADT. And I can’t help but be perplexed when we have a policy that deters hundreds if not thousands of LGBT youths from joining the military, especially in a time when our military commanders are asking our president for more troops. If it were not for DADT I would still be serving along with my military brother and sister who are both honorably serving our country in the fight against terrorism right now.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal has asked for 40,000 more troops to support our mission in Afghanistan. Although I realize that a great number of Americans are against an additional troop increase in Afghanistan, after studying the complexities of our conflict with al-Qaeda and the implications of a complete troop withdrawal from the region, based on al-Queda’s belief system of engagement, I believe that it is imperative to the safety of America and to Americans to provide the additional troops requested. Like many of my military brothers and sisters who are there today, I believe in America's mission there so firmly that I would be willing to give my own life in Afghanistan to ensure that my family and loved ones here at home live in peace.

Thus, I am asking our president, Congress, and military leaders to allow me to serve again. Additionally, I seek to provide them with 10,000 more reasons to strike down the oppressive policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” by asking others to pledge to join or rejoin the ranks of the military in furtherance of our military’s goals and objectives -- provided President Obama lives up to his promise to repeal DADT in a timely manner.

At the end of the day, just like members of law enforcement, the honorable men and women who serve in the military by and large couldn’t care less if you are black, white, brown, yellow, gay, or purple -- as long as they trust that you can do the job. LGBT service members have always been there and always will be there to serve our country. It is time for our government to recognize our sacrifices and celebrate our service as openly gay members of the military by repealing DADT.

I am a firm believer in calling for action within the LGBT community in furtherance of helping to give incentive to our current administration and our elected leaders to move quickly with the repeal of DADT. Thus, I am asking those of you who are ready, willing, and able to join the military to join with me in signing a promissory petition to join the military, provided DADT is repealed. This petition will be sent to the White House, to Capitol Hill, to the secretary of Defense, and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Let’s put our money where our mouths are and give General McChrystal as many of the 40,000 troops he has requested as possible from the LGBT community. In doing so, we will not only help protect the world from terrorism but continue to advance civil rights, equality, and the unalienable rights of every American to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Sign the petition here.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 171"

"He Brings Me Joy..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Gay on Trial
Why More Than Marriage Is At Stake In
The Federal Legal Challenge To Prop. 8
by Gabriel Arana

On Nov. 4, 2008, when the polls closed on the West Coast and media outlets reported that California voters had passed Proposition 8, gay-rights supporters across the country were stunned. How could the purported gay haven of California—home to Hollywood, Harvey Milk, and the Castro—have rejected same-sex marriage? It was an odd cultural moment, infused with the countervailing energy and promise of Barack Obama’s victory.

While progressives across the country danced in the streets chanting, “Yes We Can,” angry gay-rights supporters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento carrying signs that expressed their indignation: “No More Mr. Nice Gay.” As Obama declared in his victory speech, the ground had shifted, but in the Golden State, it had moved in opposite directions. After months of scapegoating, soul-searching, and regrouping, gay-rights leaders settled on a two-part strategy: Fight the measure in state court and work on overturning it at the ballot box in 2010 or 2012. The state Supreme Court challenge to Prop. 8, which argued that the measure was not an “amendment” to the California Constitution but a “revision” requiring legislative approval, was widely considered a long shot. Few were surprised when the court upheld Prop. 8.

What did come as a surprise was the news, that same day, that two relative strangers to civil-rights litigation, David Boies and Ted Olson, had filed a suit against the amendment in federal court. It was a decision so rash that it could only have come from outsiders. Olson, a prominent figure in the conservative legal movement, had represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore, a case in which he faced off against Boies, a high-profile lawyer who made his name defending Wall Street, not civil rights. They intend to take their challenge to Prop. 8 all the way: The case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, is scheduled to go to trial in January, and it is widely expected to move on to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

After the announcement, nine organizations—including Lambda Legal, Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union—shot back with a joint memo warning, “There is a very significant chance that if we go to the Supreme Court and lose, the Court will say that discrimination against LGBT people is fairly easy to justify.” At the press conference announcing the suit in Los Angeles, Olson dismissed this concern with a dash of self-mockery. “Both David and I have studied the court for more years than probably either one of us would like to admit,” he said. “We think we know what we are doing.” For decades, groups like the ACLU and Lambda have taken an incremental approach to fighting for gay rights in court, concentrating on establishing legal precedents and popular support in states before going federal. In California, Connecticut, New York, and Iowa, gay-rights attorneys have pursued many big-ticket cases, with mixed results. But in federal courts, their aims have been more modest; it was only in 2003 that Lambda succeeded in decriminalizing sodomy nationwide.

To some, both within the movement and outside it, this tentative approach has been frustrating. As Olson said, “People should not have to beg to be treated equally or wait for decades for popular approval to be treated equally.” But even among those of us who believe LGBT Americans deserve equal rights now, the fear is that jumping the gun will lead to harmful court precedents and social backlash, as it did when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of civil unions in 1993. Over the next 10 years, bills banning same-sex marriage were passed in 40 state legislatures. Some also blame the Hawaii decision for inspiring the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in the states. Strategy matters, gay-rights leaders say, because the threat of backlash hasn’t gone away. “The debate is never about whether equality means equality for gay people, too. There have been debates about timing as long as there have been queer people to have a conversation,” says Jennifer Pizer, the Lambda attorney who argued the state-level challenge to Prop. 8. “The question always is a matter of how much development of the doctrine and how much social and political change should be achieved before asking the ultimate question.”

Perry v. Schwarzenegger indeed asks the “ultimate question” of whether gays have a federal right to marry, but because the case is alleging that Prop. 8 violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal court decision will have implications for gay Americans in nearly every arena of public life, from housing to parenting to military service. The court is set to consider questions as wide-ranging as what it means to be gay and whether it affects one’s contribution to society. It’s not just marriage rights on trial; it’s homosexuality itself. Organizations like Lambda and the ACLU may have had their reservations about bringing the case so soon, but the groups grudgingly attempted to join Olson’s federal challenge because it will have such widespread implications.

However, Northern California District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in August that their interests were already represented and barred all groups except for the San Francisco city attorney’s office from entering the suit. This leaves Boies and Olson at the helm of the largest gayrights case to date. Attorneys at Lambda and the ACLU expressed dismay at Judge Walker’s ruling but have offered their advice to Boies and Olson and plan to continue filing amicus briefs, even if they are not official parties to the suit. However, gay-rights advocates not directly involved in the litigation—and not bound by legal etiquette—are more wary. “It’s very sweet to think that we’re going to win on moral grounds, but it’s naive,” says E.J. Graff, resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. “They have no real grasp of the bias facing lesbians and gay men, or of how to make lasting social change.” The fact that two straight, white-shoe lawyers have taken on the case shows the broad support gay rights have gained.

But there is also the sense that Boies and Olson stand to lose nothing. The possible reward, on the other hand, is clear: For two attorneys who have pursued high-profile cases throughout their careers, this could be the defining win that puts them in history books. Perry v. Schwarzenegger is one of the rare cases that redraws battle lines and upsets traditional alliances. Like Brown v. Board of Education or Roe v. Wade, it has the potential to change American life.

The stakes are high. If Perry v. Schwarzenegger reaches the Supreme Court and Boies and Olson are successful, gays and lesbians nationwide would not only have the right to marry, they stand to gain many of the legal rights they have sought for decades. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would be invalidated, as would employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. In the eyes of the law, gay people would be equal to straight people, and any legislation that discriminated against them could be challenged and easily struck down against this precedent.

However, defeat could legitimize such discrimination against LGBT Americans, making it far more difficult to sue for parental or housing rights. The door to any federal litigation on marriage equality would be shut for decades. This is risky because Boies and Olson are entering a legal no-man’s land. The coalition of lawyers who fought to overturn Prop. 8 at the state level decided not to mount a federal challenge “because federal litigation puts in play the federal doctrines that as yet are underdeveloped,” Pizer says. Marriage and family law tend to be state law, she explains, and the federal framework is sketchy. This is why the judge in the case has asked the plaintiffs (Boies’firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, and Olson’s firm, Gibson, Dunn& Crutcher, and the City of San Francisco) and the defendants(supporters of Prop. 8, represented in this case by Charles Cooper,former assistant attorney general under Ronald Reagan, and the conservative Alliance Defense Fund) to address a broad range of issues, from whether gay people make suitable parents to whether a person’s sexuality is susceptible to change.

In effect,the court’s primary undertaking will be to define “gay”—and to determine whether it is in the interest of the state to discriminate against people who fall into that category. The law allows discrimination so long as it serves a reasonable purpose, such as ensuring public safety by preventing 5-year olds from driving. The defense is arguing that it’s reasonable to discriminate against gay couples because restricting marriage rights to heterosexual couples “promotes stability and responsible behavior in naturally procreative relationships” and maintains the bond between children and their biological parents.

Boies and Olson are arguing that such discriminatory laws are illegal because gay Americans constitute a “suspect class,” a group of people—such as racial minorities, religious groups, and foreign-born citizens—who qualify for special protection. Laws that target these groups are immediately “suspect” and have to serve a “compelling state interest”—national security,for instance. Passing the law in question must be the only way of achieving the end. In practice, this standard is so high that once a group of people has been deemed a suspect class, courts nearly always find in its favor.

The legal issues in Perry mirror those in Loving v. Virginia,the 1967 case that struck down miscegenation laws. In Loving, the court ruled that there was no compelling state interest for outlawing interracial marriage and that marriage was a fundamental right. But unlike Loving, by which time race had already been established as a suspect classification, the Supreme Court has not previously considered whether gay people are a suspect class. Courts, though, have generally granted suspect classification to groups that are well-defined and possess an “immutable” trait; share a history of discrimination; and are politically powerless to protect themselves. In essence, Boies and Olson must prove that gay Americans deserve the same rights as everybody else because they are, paradoxically, different. The plaintiffs have said they will have psychologists and scientists testify that being gay isn’t something you can change. To establish political powerlessness, Boies and Olson point out that there are no openly gay senators, governors, or Cabinet members and that gays and lesbians have been unable to get nondiscrimination legislation passed on a national level—facts that the defense has not challenged.

Even if Boies and Olson are not able to establish suspect classification, there is a Supreme Court precedent against discriminatory laws whose sole motivation is ill will. (In 1996, the court ruled in Romer v. Evans that a Colorado ban on nondiscrimination ordinances was driven solely by anti-gay sentiment and therefore did not have a rational basis.) That’s why Boies and Olson also plan to show that Prop. 8 was motivated by prejudice.

Despite pushback from the defense, the “Yes on 8” campaign has been ordered to turn over internal e-mail communications and strategy documents as well as allow its leaders to be questioned on the stand. Lawyers for the defense have said this tactic has a “chilling effect on [free] speech” and have called it a “fishing expedition,” but those who support it say it will expose the anti-gay motivation that lies at the heart of matter. Legal experts say getting judges to recognize gays as a suspect class will be a tough sell; the Supreme Court has long refused to make age or disability a protected category.

And even those who think the legal arguments are compelling say that swaying a conservative Supreme Court is the real challenge. “If you just look at the criteria, they’ll be able to make a very powerful case,” says William Eskridge, a professor at Yale Law School who was involved in gay-marriage litigation in the early 1990... “[But] if the case comes to the Supreme Court in the next three years, given its membership, the conventional wisdom is that they don’t have five votes.”

But Boies and Olson maintain that the legal landscape has changed significantly in the wake of court decisions like Romer and Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy in 2003. These cases, they argue, have chipped away at the legal justifications for discriminating against gays and lesbians, making the court more likely to see them as a persecuted minority. “We think we have a very strong argument based on the factors the court has identified in establishing a suspect class,” says Theodore Boutrous, a partner at Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher who is co-counsel with Olson. “We are confident the courts will agree with us.”

Prop. 8 defendants are fighting the classification of gays as a protected minority on two grounds. First, they say, gays are not politically powerless. “They’re pointing out so far that Harvey Milk was elected,” Boutrous says. “That’s a weak argument.” Second, the defense argues, homosexuality is not an unchangeable characteristic. This is where things get weird. Defense lawyers plan to subpoena California’s domestic partnership and marriage registries and note any matches. They also argue that sexual orientation falls on a continuum and that sexuality is “fluid,” a decidedly nontraditional view that has taken root in college queer-studies departments but not the sort of thing you’d ever hear from Focus on the Family’s James Dobson.

Eskridge calls the debate about whether homosexuality is immutable a “lavender herring.” He points out that religion is fairly easy to change, yet Catholics and Jews are considered protected minorities. The real question both sides should be looking at, he says, is whether sexuality is a central component of one’s identity. As Olson pointed out at an October pre-trial hearing in which the defense sought to dismiss the case, “An individual does not experience constant shifts in his or her sexual orientation.”

Boies and Olson, however, are hedging their bets. If the courts find that gays do not qualify as a suspect class and do not have a fundamental right to get married, then all the Alliance Defense Fund has to do is show that barring gays from marrying serves some reasonable purpose, which is why both sides are also arguing about what marriage is for. As one might expect, the defense has argued vigorously that marriage is for procreation and that extending it to gay couples is a risky social experiment. But their arguments in court share little of the vitriol of the “Yes on 8” ads, which warned California voters that children would be taught about homosexuality in school and that pastors would be required to perform same-sex marriages.

In contrast, those representing Prop. 8 in court have stipulated that being gay does not affect one’s social or vocational abilities and that it’s not a mental illness. And while they assert that sexuality is malleable, they acknowledge it might be harmful to try to change it (a radical departure from the talking points of many organizations that supported Prop. 8, which maintain that people can be “cured” of homosexuality). There’s also been little talk about whether it’s morally wrong to be gay and no mention of the “homosexual agenda.”

Instead, attorneys who oppose gay rights increasingly use“judicial activism” or “religious liberty” as a proxy for talking about gay marriage. Defense co-counsel David Thompson says he would not personally support gay marriage if it were enacted by a legislature or via referendum, as it was recently in Vermont, but “it would be lawful.” He continues, “It’s perfectly permissible for people to make that determination.”

Eskridge thinks the defendants are afraid of being perceived as bigoted. “Now that we’ve had legislatures starting to do this, the opponents see the likelihood that a large chunk of America will recognize same-sex marriage,” he says. “They do not [want to] go down in history as the George Wallaces of the same-sex marriage episode.” there is something farcical about having a court make a determination about the nature of human sexuality and the purpose of marriage. These are perennial topics of philosophical and academic debate, hotly contested in college classrooms, across the dining-room table, and sometimes on cable news.

The soaring rhetoric of the culture wars has made cameos in the courtroom, but most of the discussion has been prosaic. The law, for all its gravitas, is ultimately about deciding who has to pay for the fender bender, not whether it would have been better to walk. Prop. 8’s defenders seem most self-assured when speaking in broad axioms. According to the motion filed by the defense in Perry, “the purpose of marriage [has] always been to promote naturally procreative sexual relationships,” and “every civilized society in recorded history [has] limited marriage to opposite sex relationships.” But when asked concrete questions, as the defense was at a pre-trial hearing in October, lawyers have been hard-pressed to come up with an answer. “All right, let’s play on the same playing field for once,” Judge Walker told lead defense counsel Charles Cooper. “I’m asking you to tell me how it would harm opposite-sex marriages.” “Your honor, my answer is: I don’t know,” Cooper responded. “I don’t know.”

Thompson explains that the difficulty in answering the judge’s question stems from the fact that same-sex marriage is a relatively new phenomenon, one that has not been studied extensively by social science. But in the same hearing, Cooper was also at a loss when Judge Walker asked him to justify the view that marriage was for procreation. “The last marriage that I performed … involved a groom who was 95, and the bride was 83,” Walker said. “I did not demand that they prove that they intended to engage in procreative activity. Now, was I missing something?” “No,” Cooper answered. Outside the courtroom, gay-rights opponents have very different answers to Judge Walker’s questions. “The law affects marriage primarily through its capacity to ‘name a shared reality,’” says Maggie Gallagher, president and founder of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage. “Gay-marriage advocates understand this on their side of the issue—the name matters, because words matter, symbols matter, naming reality matters.” The quandary for the court in January is, in effect, how to name a reality that we do not all share.

The real fight is not over marriage itself. Perry v. Schwarzeneggeris only about gay marriage in the sense that Roe v. Wade was about privacy, or Brown v. Board of Education was about school choice. The case is really about the place of gay people in society. Just as reproductive rights allowed women not to be defined by childbirth and desegregation meant skin color no longer determined where you sat on the bus, legal equality for gays would mean that, at least in theory, one’s sexual orientation would not determine where he or she fit in. But it’s important to remember that Roe did not guarantee gender equality, nor did Brown end racism in America. Women are still promoted and paid less than men, and a large share of African Americans are still entrenched in poverty.

After the stinging marriage-equality setback in Maine on Nov. 3, gay-rights supporters are looking to the federal courts with renewed hope. But Perry will not be a panacea, either. As Eskridge points out, the best turn the Prop. 8 case could take is that it would be rendered moot by California voters in 2010 or 2012. But even if Boies and Olson lose the case, it would not be the disaster that some gay-rights supporters fear. A Supreme Court loss could galvanize a movement that, at least in California, was dumbstruck that gay rights didn’t just come as a matter of course.

Indeed, as legislatures and city councils in D.C., New York, and Washington state move to enact gay rights, the promise of equality seems to lie increasingly in local, grass-roots efforts. Decades of fervent activism are what made the legislative victories in Vermont and New Hampshire possible, and they are an indication of public support that no court can grant. It is better not to be the victim of discrimination in the first place than to have the law on your side when you are. The assumption among gay-rights supporters—and the time frame that’s often thrown around—is that “in 20 years” we will have full equality.

If anything, however, the Prop. 8 imbroglio and its legal fallout should serve as a reminder that equality isn’t a once-and-for-all achievement. Rights can be rescinded, the ground can shift again. Nor is it an eventuality. Despite Martin Luther King Jr.’s assurance, the arc of history does not bend in any direction—much less toward justice—on its own.

"In The News Today..."

Corvino: The Slippery Slope of Religious Exemptions

By John Corvino, columnist,

This morning, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. I wasn’t sick; just tired. But I had a full workday scheduled.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said, “Behold, today is a sacred day, and you must not work.” Sweet!

Okay, maybe I was dreaming. But as the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes pointed out, there’s no useful distinction between “I dreamed that God appeared to me” and “God appeared to me in a dream”—and if the latter is good enough for Biblical prophets, it’s good enough for me.
Before you render judgment, note that the angel added that my readers—this means you!—should take the day off too. Indeed, he presented me with platinum tablets (gold is so old-school) commanding that the day on which this column appears is sacred and must be honored with a Sabbath.

I’ve since lost the tablets, but trust me: that’s what they said.

Now, suppose you believe all of this, and suppose you phone your employer and tell him that you’re not coming in. He might try to fire you. But (assuming that other employees get accommodations for religious holidays) that’s religious discrimination! Tell him so.

He might counter that Corvinianism, as my followers like to call it, is not a valid religion. But why not? Because it’s new? All religions were new at one point. Mormonism is less than two centuries old. I have knickknacks that are older than that.

Moreover, if religious accommodation should vary according to the age of the religion, then many forms of paganism should get more deference than Christianity. Forget Christmas break. I want the Feast of the Unconquered Sun. (Oh wait—they’re the same. Bad example.)

I’m joking here to make a serious point: religious accommodation is a slippery part of the law. And those who cite it in the gay-rights debate need to start acknowledging that.

Let me be clear: I believe that a free society should make broad accommodation for religious practice. And religious practice is largely based on “faith,” which includes revelation—in other words, doctrines that cannot be defended by reason alone. Here in the United States, we allow people to preach and worship as they see fit (or not at all), and we are better for it.

But the gay-rights debate concerning religious accommodation is not about worship. No serious participant argues that the government should force religions to perform gay weddings (or ordinations or baptisms or other religious functions) against their will. That would violate the First Amendment, and beyond that, it would be foolish and wrong.

Rather, the debate is about the not-strictly-religious things that religious organizations often do: renting out banquet space, for example, or hiring employees for secular tasks. It’s also about religious individuals who for reasons of conscience wish to discriminate in secular settings.

To use a concrete example: should a Massachusetts Catholic court clerk who objects to same-sex marriage be allowed not to process a marriage license for a gay couple (perhaps passing the couple along to another clerk who will do the job)?

There are at least two slippery-slopes to worry about when answering this question. First, if we make accommodations for, say, Catholicism, must we make accommodations for any religion? Some religions are pretty screwy (although I think Corvinianism is pretty cool).

And what about atheists? Why should conscience exemptions only apply to the religious?

Second, if we make accommodation for objections to same-sex marriage, why not other religious and moral convictions? Suppose the clerk’s religion prohibits divorce and re-marriage, or interfaith marriage, or marriages not performed by the One True Church. Should she be allowed to decline to issue licenses in those cases as well?

I am not suggesting that these accommodations would all be equally valid. The point is, rather, that deciding which are and which aren’t is thorny legal and moral territory.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting religious inconsistency on these questions. One never hears about clerks refusing to grant marriage licenses to divorcees, despite the Bible’s clear condemnation of divorce—the same Bible frequently cited in the gay-rights debate.

Which makes it difficult to shake the suspicion that, for some of these people—not all, but some—what’s cast as a “principled religious objection” boils down to simple gut feeling.

Kind of like my not wanting to go to work this morning.


John Corvino, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays on

For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 170"

"We're Together Wherever We Are..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

"Ah, how skillful grows the hand that obeyeth Love's command!
It is the heart, and not the brain,That to the highest doth attain,
And he who followeth Love's behest
Far excelleth all the rest!"

"The Artist's Corner"

The Artwork of Steven Clayton Corry
"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 169"

"With This Ring, I Thee Wed..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"A Truth Shared..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 168"

"Sunday Mornings..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 167"

"Love and Marriage..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

“Over the course of the average lifetime you meet a lot of people. Some of them stick with you through thick and thin. Some weave their way through your life and disappear forever. But once in a while someone comes along who earns a permanent place in your heart...”
Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years

"Stephen Christopher Harris..."

Sometimes I wonder, just what is it that people find so fascinating about Stephen Christopher Harris. Somedays there are hundreds of visitors from all over the US and the world drawn here by him...

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 166"

"Love Makes Us One..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Gay Couples Blast Federal Defense of Marriage Act
By The Associated Press

(Boston) Gay married couples suing the government over a federal law that doesn’t recognize same-sex unions say there is “no legitimate or plausible” reason for having a federal definition of marriage that excludes gay couples.

The lawsuit was brought by seven gay couples and three widowers, all of whom were married in Massachusetts after it became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage in 2004.

In court documents filed Tuesday, the couples say the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because it denies them access to federal benefits given to other married couples, including pensions, health insurance and the ability to file joint tax returns. They argue that the law “eviscerates” the historic power of the states to establish criteria for marriage.

“DOMA marks a stark, and unique, departure from the respect and recognition the federal government has long afforded to State marital status determinations,” lawyers for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders argue in a written response to the U.S. Department of Justice motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In a court filing in September, Justice officials made it clear that the Obama administration thinks the law is discriminatory and should be repealed. But the department said it has an obligation to defend federal laws when they are challenged in court.

The law, enacted in 1996, was passed by Congress at a time when it appeared Hawaii would become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Opponents worried that other states would be forced to recognize such marriages.

In addition to Massachusetts, gay marriage is now legal in Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa. New Hampshire’s law takes effect Jan. 1. Earlier this month, voters in Maine repealed a state law that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department had no immediate comment on the latest court filing by the same-sex couples.

In its written response to the lawsuit, filed in September, the Justice Department argued that there is no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits and says Congress is entitled to address issues of social reform on an “incremental” basis.

“Congress is therefore permitted to provide benefits only to those who have historically been permitted to marry, without extending the same benefit to those only recently permitted to do so,” the government said.

The couples who brought the lawsuit are asking U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro to reject the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and to find in their favor without a trial. Specifically, the group is asking for a ruling that the section of the law that excludes same-sex couples from federal marriage-based benefits is unconstitutional, as applied to the couples who brought the lawsuit.

Such a ruling would mean that those couples would be eligible for the benefits they have been denied. The ruling also would likely extend to other Massachusetts couples.

“If we won, then it would be unconstitutional to deny access to these programs to other married same-sex couples in Massachusetts,” said Mary Bonauto, one of the attorneys representing the couples.

It would take a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court or an act of Congress to strike down the law.

A bill to repeal the law was introduced in the U.S. House in September, but has little chance of making it to a vote this year.

"The Artist's Corner"

"The Couple"
Mixed Media
Kehinde Wiley

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 165"

"With Love, Joy Comes From Just Being Near Him..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Corvino: On Not Being Like Other Boys

By John Corvino, columnist,

It’s November, which means bookstores have next year’s calendars on display.

When I was a teenager, this annual occurrence unnerved me. The “male interest” calendars”—think “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model of the Month”—held no appeal for me. Instead, I would nervously reach for a Chippendales calendar, hiding it behind something innocuously themed (race cars, puppies, whatever) so that I could stare admiringly at half-naked men.

As soon as I noticed anyone approaching, I would throw both calendars back on the shelf and dart out of the store.

I laugh now at the thought that I could ever find the overly pumped and coiffed 1980’s Chippendales dancers appealing. But when I see these calendars on the shelves today, I still feel a residual emotional tug. Like the underwear models in the J.C. Penney catalog (and so many other ordinary features of American life), the calendars were a painful signal: you are not like other boys.

I noticed a calendar display in a bookstore the other day just shortly after receiving an e-mail from a reader complaining that I waste too much time trying to win over straight society’s approval. “When are you going to stop seeking other people’s acceptance?” he asks.

My answer? I’ll stop seeking it once we get it.

The calendars reminded me of why. It’s not because I’m still scared that other people will know my “secret.” Today, I can walk into a bookstore and look at whatever I want. Indeed, I sometimes make a point of picking up the “female interest” calendars just to remind myself—and anyone else watching—that I can. It’s my way of saying: No, I am not like (most) other boys, and I’m okay with that. Honestly, I really don’t give a flying fig whether you give me a dirty look when I do it.

But there are plenty of boys and girls growing up who are not there yet. They still get unnerved when they see the calendars, or the catalogs, or countless other possible triggers. They still feel that nauseous shame and isolation. They have yet to learn that the feelings they dread can eventually be a source of great joy, and beauty, and comfort.

Social approval can make a huge difference in the lives of these kids, not to mention those who come after them.

This is one significant way in which LGBT people differ from most other minority groups. Whereas black children generally have black parents, Jewish children generally have Jewish parents, and so on, LGBT people can have any sort of parents—and most often have straight ones. Far from being able to take for granted our parents’ understanding of the discrimination we face, we often have to struggle for their acceptance, too.

So while their parents’ opinion on homosexuality may not directly matter to me, you can be damn sure it matters to them.

I don’t mean that they can’t go on to have happy, fulfilling, successful lives even if their parents ultimately reject them. I just mean that doing so will be harder—needlessly, sometimes tragically so.

Moreover, it’s not as if I have no stake at all in their parents’ opinion. As we’ve seen over and over, their opinion affects how they vote. And their votes make a difference to our legal rights, whether we like it or not.

Of course it isn’t fair. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

So I’ll stop seeking their approval when we get it, and not a moment sooner. Because their approval helps make our political struggle easier. Because it’s crucial to the lives of their kids, some of whom are LGBT. And because it’s the right thing.


John Corvino, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays on

For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 164"

"We're the marrying kind..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Deb Price: Setback for Gay Rights in Maine, But Hope Elsewhere
Sunday, November 15, 2009

Maine will go down in the history books as the gay heartbreaker of Election Day 2009: Voters vetoed gay marriage even though it had won the approval of their state legislature and governor.
But elsewhere there were positive reminders of just how quickly the gay movement is progressing, even at the ballot box. This election also underscores how critical it is for those of us who are gay or gay-friendly to be out in all aspects of our lives -- not just with some relatives or a few colleagues.

Look at Washington state, where voters, by 53 percent to 47 percent, approved a sweeping domestic partnership law, giving registered same-sex couples and older heterosexual partners the same state rights as married couples.

And check out Kalamazoo, Mich.: By 62 percent to 38 percent, voters upheld an ordinance outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

And gay candidates scored important breakthroughs. For example:

• Mark Kleinschmidt became mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C.

• Charles Pugh not only became the first openly gay person elected to Detroit’s City Council but also will be its president because he was the top vote-getter. Pugh is African-American. About 11 percent of the estimated 450 openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender elected officials in this country are people of color.

• Sandra Kurt was elected to the Akron, Ohio, City Council.

Stay tuned for two runoffs:

On Dec. 1, Georgia’s Simone Bell has a good shot at becoming the nation’s first openly lesbian African-American state legislator.

In Texas, if frontrunner Annise Parker wins her Dec. 12 runoff, Houston -- the nation’s fourth-biggest city -- will become the largest American city to have an openly gay mayor.

Those bright spots should help us put into perspective the blocking of gay marriage in Maine and the defeat of gay-supportive gubernatorial nominees in New Jersey and Virginia. The sour economy, not gay rights, was the key issue in both governors’ races.

Meanwhile, the Democrats captured a congressional seat in New York state after Republican conservatives drove the gay-marriage-supporting Republican nominee from the contest. Grabbing that House seat away from the GOP might keep Democrats from misreading the gubernatorial losses and using them as an excuse to delay action on long-overdue gay-rights measures on Capitol Hill.

In the coming weeks, keep an eye on New Jersey. Its legislature could deliver a marriage bill to defeated Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine before his successor -- Republican Chris Christie, who has vowed to veto any such bill that reaches him -- is sworn in.

“We’re more than hopeful,” says Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s gay-rights group.

As for Maine, well, what a fitting irony that the same day that marriage rights slipped away there from gay couples, a Louisiana justice of the peace resigned because of the outcry over his refusal to marry an interracial couple.

That Louisiana official accidentally provided a timely reminder that some hearts change very slowly, thus the need for all civil rights movements to turn to courts and legislatures.

It took a 1967 Supreme Court ruling -- controversial at that time -- to strike down the last 16 states’ interracial marriage bans.

Without a nudge from judges, voters clearly would have taken quite a bit longer. It wasn’t until 2000 that Alabamans voted to erase an unenforceable interracial marriage ban from their state constitution. And, even then, 41 percent of voters objected to getting rid of it.

In many ways, getting 47 percent of Maine voters to support gay marriage is amazing, given how relatively new the concept of same-sex marriage is to most Americans.

Eventually, a majority of voters in state after state will embrace gay marriage. Already, pushes to repeal anti-gay marriage bans are under way in California, Oregon and Michigan.

Momentum is now on the side of equality, even when setbacks make the biggest headlines.

Deb Price of the Detroit News writes the first nationally syndicated column on gay issues.

"The Poet's Corner"

"Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good."

Augustine of Hippo, In epistulam Ioannis ad Parthos, Tractatus VII, 8

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 163"

"Love Is Our Reason..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

"In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror."

"The Truth Is In The Scriptures"

"If, If, If… "

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other...
Ephesians 4:32

The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt. The most common way to do this is to say, "I'm sorry if I've done something to upset you." The word if ruins this confession, because it implies that you do not know whether or not you did wrong. The message you are communicating is this: "Obviously you're upset about something. I don't know that I have done anything wrong, but just to get you off my back I'll give you a token apology."

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 127.

Food for Thought

How often does if show up in your confessions?

A great way to ruin your engine on your car? Never, ever change the oil. A sure-fire way to ruin your credit rating? Never, ever pay your bills on time. What about ruining your reputation at work? Never, ever keep your appointments. And the best way to ruin a confession? Each and every time, use the word "if."

Ken reminds us of the power of this little two-letter word. Too many times, it leads to an empty confession. All the words may be right and proper (I'm sorry), but the heart is missing. And anything without a heart is usually dead, good for nothing. The word "confess" means "to agree with" -- you're agreeing that you've done something wrong. If you're not ready to agree, then don't confess. Because that ruins everything.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 162"

"With Love There Is Joy..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Corvino: Maine, Detroit and The Closet

By John Corvino, columnist,

When I was a “fag” on the junior high playground, getting punched hurt even when I saw it coming. So too with Maine this past week.

Like many, I was dispirited but not surprised when we lost. The rights of minorities (gays especially) generally don’t do well when put to a popular vote. And the opposition’s central message—that gays want to influence schoolchildren—remains as effective as it is sinister.

The message conjures up the image of gays as child molesters—a myth debunked but never fully extinguished.

A slightly less sinister (but still false) version portrays us as anti-family and anti-morality. Still another falsehood is that we’re trying to “recruit.”

Then there’s the underlying truth that sustains the myth as plausible. Yes, of course marriage equality will affect what children are taught in schools, because if same-sex marriage is legal, they will naturally be taught that it’s legal. That it’s an option for consenting adults who want it. That women sometimes fall in love with women, and men with men, and live happily ever after.

We should not shrink from saying these things, but we do. No doubt, the ugliness of the sinister versions—not to mention our opponents’ penchant for quoting us out of context—makes us nervous about discussing the truthful version. And that’s surely one lesson of this loss: the closet is still powerful, and our opponents use it to their advantage.

But we will not go back in the closet again.

We will keep telling our stories. We will keep showing our faces. We will keep getting married, even if—for now—Maine doesn’t legally recognize our relationships. We will not go back in the closet again.

And though we’ve lost this particular battle, we will continue to win the war.

On the same day that Maine voters took away marriage equality, Detroit (where I live) elected an openly gay city council president. This, in a city that’s 84% African-American and where churches exert considerable political influence. The rest of the country hardly noticed, but Detroit defied several stereotypes on Tuesday.

His name is Charles Pugh. A popular newscaster before running for City Council, Pugh was actually endorsed by both the Council of Baptist Pastors and the AME Ministerial Alliance. They knew he was gay and they endorsed him anyway.

One could argue that Pugh was endorsed—and won—because of name recognition. Detroit elects all nine councilmembers-at-large, and the top vote getter automatically becomes council president. It’s a dumb system in several ways, and in the past it has resulted in famous but incompetent councilmembers—Martha Reeves, of Martha and the Vandellas, leaps to mind. (Incidentally, in this year’s primary Reeves was voted out, and in the general election voters overwhelming approved a referendum for council-by-district.)

But even if Pugh’s landslide can be attributed to sheer popularity, it sends an encouraging message about the way the world is changing. Being openly gay is no longer an absolute bar to getting public support. And even those who regularly oppose us will sometimes let other factors trump whatever makes us scary otherwise.

Meanwhile, the more they know us, the less scary we become.

It’s unfair and unfortunate that we need to work harder than our opponents to win. They win by exploiting fear, which is easy to do when you’re in the majority. We win by building relationships—by letting voters know who we really are. That takes time.

So our opponents have a soundbite edge, but we have a long-term advantage. The closet is crumbling.

In the wake of the Maine loss, we will catch our breath and press on. We will continue to live our lives; we will keep speaking our truth. We will stand up in the firm conviction that our love is real, and valuable, and worthy of equal treatment under the law.

Because whatever legal roadblocks they may put in our way, we will never go back in the closet again.


John Corvino, Ph.D. is an author, speaker and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays on

For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 161"

"Not Our First Kiss... But The Sweetest Because We Are Now Married"

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"A Love Story..."

I've always loved Star Trek: The Original Series. A few nights ago, I saw my favorite episode again for what must have been at least the twentieth time.

The episode, "Metamorphosis" has always seemed to speak to me about the fundamental truths of love and so in a way I think the story is very allegorical to my own understanding of what love is and isn't. As a young boy seeing this for the first time, I remember dreaming of being loved by a companion as Cochran is loved...

If you've ever seen it, I'm sure you'll agree that it's one of the best episodes of the entire series.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Star Trek: TOS episode

Year 2267
Stardate 3219.4

"Metamorphosis" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series first broadcast November 10, 1967 and repeated July 19, 1968. It is episode #38, production #31, written by Gene L. Coon, and directed by Ralph Senensky.

Overview: A shuttle crew from the Enterprise encounters a castaway and his mysterious alien companion.

On stardate 3219.4, Captain James T. Kirk, along with his first officer Mr. Spock and chief medical officer Dr. McCoy are ferrying Commissioner Nancy Hedford to the starship USS Enterprise aboard the shuttlecraft Galileo. Nancy, a tough diplomat who's devoted her entire life to her career, has caught Sakuro's disease, and is extremely bitter about the fact that she did not receive proper immunization against the disease. She will seek treatment for her illness aboard the Enterprise while the ship takes her to Epsilon Caneris III, where she will join in negotiation talks between the planet's warring factions.

As the shuttle passes near an unexplored system, a strange glob of energy appears and disables the craft's systems. The energy pulls them down to the nearby planet Gamma Canaris N. Once there, the party disembarks and finds a rocky planet with suitable atmospheric conditions to support humanoid life. Kirk tries to contact the Enterprise for assistance, but his signals are being blocked by some unknown phenomenon. With no time to waste exploring, Kirk and Spock try to figure out a way to repair the shuttle.

Suddenly a friendly young man appears from nowhere, and identifies himself as Cochrane. He tells the party he has been marooned on the planet alone for quite some time, and that he's afraid repairing the shuttle is futile. He explains that there is a dampening field in effect that won't allow the shuttlecraft to leave and they are stranded just as he is. Cochrane leads his new guests to his home, a small but cozy little shelter.

The crew find Cochrane's face familiar. When questioned, Cochrane admits he is in fact Zefram Cochrane, the human who developed the first warp drive technology, and tells how when he was 87 years old (150 years prior to the events of the episode), he took to space to die alone. When he came to this system his ship was disabled by an asteroid; he would have surely been killed if he had not been saved, grabbed at the last minute by the same energy force which brought Kirk's shuttle down. He calls the being who saved him "The Companion", a shimmering blob of sparking energy, and says the entity brought the others here to keep him company. Despite being so old, Cochrane appears young, claiming the Companion rejuvenated him.

Nancy soon develops a fever, the first sign her illness is getting worse. McCoy informs the others that without proper medical treatment aboard the Enterprise she may die. Not willing to stay any longer, Kirk orders Spock to try to repair the shuttle, while Dr. McCoy makes Nancy as comfortable as possible.

As Spock performs repairs on the shuttle, the Companion appears, and observes what Spock is doing. Spock tries to touch the entity, but is given an electrical jolt that knocks him back. The Companion then takes the liberty of frying the Galileo's electrical systems, rendering any hope of further repair useless. Spock returns to Cochrane's shelter and informs Captain Kirk of the encounter. Spock believes the creature's electrical attack may give a clue to how to disable it. He then sets to work constructing a device that may "short circuit" the entity.

Once Spock's device is complete, Kirk orders Cochrane to call the Companion. Cochrane becomes uneasy about having to harm the being, but calls it anyway, thinking of himself as a "Judas goat." When The Companion appears Spock activates his device. The effect seems to cause Cochrane more harm, as he stiffens in pain while the Companion lashes out at its attackers. Cochrane regains his composure and orders the Companion to stop the attack. The creature obeys just before finishing Kirk and Spock off for good.

Based on a suggestion by McCoy, Kirk decides to communicate directly with the entity and Spock modifies their universal translator (which translates brainwave emissions into spoken language) after fetching it from the shuttle. Hoping it will work on the incorporeal creature, Kirk begins to talk to it, asking why it is keeping everyone prisoner.

The device works, and the Companion responds - in a female voice. She explains she is keeping Cochrane on the planet, but not as a prisoner nor as a pet as the humans initially assume. The creature says she is in love with Cochrane, and wants only to care for him, showing him nothing but love and companionship. Cochrane, repulsed by the entity's words, barges off saying he will not be "fodder for any inhuman monster." Nancy, in a feverish daze and near death, overhears the whole thing. She observes that while she's proud of her work, she would give anything to experience another's love, and wonders how Cochrane could just run from it.

Kirk tries to convince the Companion that she is not compatible with Cochrane, and that she is not capable of loving a human the way another human can. If the Companion truly loves Cochrane, she would let him go. The Companion however seems to disagree, then suddenly she enters Nancy's body. To everyone's amazement, Nancy rises, fully recovered. The Companion, speaking through Nancy, then says she has merged with her, and the two are now one. This is now the only thing keeping Nancy alive: if the Companion leaves her body, she will die. The Companion then restores the shuttlecraft's systems allowing Kirk and the others to leave as they please.

In a moment alone, Cochrane discusses with Nancy/the Companion his plans for their future together back in civilization. The plans are foiled however, when Nancy explains that her "essence" belongs on this planet and that if she were to leave she would "cease to exist." Cochrane then takes Nancy in his arms and decides to remain behind and live with her for the rest of his life - it is not fully explained in the episode, but the Companion cannot rejuvenate Cochrane and keep him immortal any longer, probably because she no longer is exclusively an energy being and therefore she now has limitations, including a normal human life.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise arrives in the system and begins searching for the Galileo in an asteroid field containing over 9,000 asteroids. They soon pick up communications from the shuttle, and are relieved that the Captain is all right and will dock with the ship shortly. Kirk and the others agree to keep their encounter with Cochrane to themselves.
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