Friday, October 30, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 155"

"We ARE a 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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"


"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."
The Brothers Karamazov

"In The News Today..."






After 10-Year Dispute, Expansion of Hate Crimes Law to Gays Signed
Move may help Obama quell rising discontent from rights groups

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 29, 2009

When a gay Wyoming college student was slain in 1998, congressional Democrats pledged to broaden the definition of federal hate crimes by the end of that year to include attacks based on sexual orientation.

The effort instead turned into a decade-long proxy war between liberal groups that want to expand gay rights and conservative groups that do not. But Wednesday, President Obama signed the bill and then hosted a White House reception for gay activists and the parents of the slain student, 21-year-old Matthew Shepard.

"After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are," Obama said after the signing.

During that period, the House and the Senate separately approved the hate crimes expansion numerous times. But congressional Republicans repeatedly used legislative tactics to block final passage, arguing that most crimes that would fall under the law could be prosecuted under other statutes, and conservative groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition said the legislation would turn "homosexual behaviors as well as cross-dressing, transvestism, and transsexualism into federally-protected 'minority' groups."

This year, with enlarged majorities in Congress, Democrats attached the hate crimes law to a $681 billion defense spending bill this month over GOP objections. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the approach put "radical social policy" on the "back of our soldiers."

The legislation extends provisions first passed in 1968 that make it a federal crime to target individuals because of their race, religion or national origin. Under the law, judges can impose harsher penalties on crimes that are motivated by such animus, and the Justice Department can help local police departments investigate alleged hate crimes.

According to the FBI, law enforcement agencies around the country reported 7,624 hate crime incidents in 2007, the most recent year for which data were available. More than half were categorized as racially motivated, and about 17 percent were based on sexual orientation.

For Obama, the signing could quell rising discontent among gay rights groups, which have complained that he has done little to advance their causes in first year in office.

In particular, many gay activists say, Obama has not made good on his pledge to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which prevents gays from serving openly in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act, which effectively allows states that do not permit gay marriage to not recognize the unions of gay couples married in states that do.

"I think that obviously there's a great deal of impatience and frustration within our community, not just related to the last 10 months, but the last 10 years," said Joe Solomonese, president of the District-based Human Rights Campaign, which has worked for years on the issue. "But the White House was an absolutely critical partner in getting this legislation to the president's desk, and I have no doubt the White House will continue to be a partner in this fight."

Shepard's mother, Judy, said in a statement that she and her husband, Dennis, "are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly."

Although the House of Representatives passed the law 249 to 175 in a mostly party-line vote in April, the Senate added the legislation to the defense bill instead of passing it separately. The move angered Republicans, most of whom voted against the defense bill because of the hate crimes of both provisions in Congress.

"The Republican machine, they don't have the megaphone of the Obama administration, but maybe if they could have more effectively got their message out," said Mathew D. Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group.

But Rick Scarborough, head of the Texas-based conservative group Vision America, which has long opposed the hate crimes legislation, said there may be little Republicans can do to stop further gay rights legislation.

"I think they [bills that would expand gay rights] are morally wrong, and I'll continue to do my best to enter the debate," he said. "But it's a new day. These were the promises of Barack Obama, and he's living up to them."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 154"

"He's My Reason... Because I Love 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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The Artist's Corner"

"Heartbreak"
Jeffery Spicer
Pastel on canvas

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 153"


"Our Wedding Day... Love's Promise Fulfilled"


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, October 27, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"


"Then must you speak Of One that lov'd not wisely but too well."
William Shakespeare in Othello (V, ii, 343-344)


"Fear Eats the Soul"


"Same Gender Loving People - No. 152"

"It's Just Love... Never be afraid of Love"


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 Truth Today..."

Corvino: The Homosexual Agenda

By John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com
10.23.2009

Gay-marriage opponents claim that we gay folk are trying to influence your children. In one sense, they are quite right.

We are not trying to “recruit” your children, if by that you mean “turn them gay.” As gay people, we understand enough about how sexual orientation works to know that you can’t turn people gay—or straight, for that matter—by some act of will.

Rather, we’re trying to do just what those scary “protect marriage” ads say we’re trying to do. We’re trying to teach them about same-sex marriage. In school.

There—I said it. The secret’s out. The gay agenda has been leaked. Call the Maine Yes-on-1 campaign and tell them there’s new material for Frank Schubert and company to quote out of context.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about that campaign—specifically, the ads warning that if Maine keeps marriage for gays and lesbians, Maine schoolchildren will be taught about homosexual marriage.

Put this way, the claim is extremely misleading. Maine (unlike California, which micromanages everything) does not dictate teaching about marriage. Maine curriculum is controlled locally, and individual schools can teach about same-sex marriage (or not) whether or not Maine has marriage equality.

To put the point another way: just because something’s legal, that doesn’t mean it must be taught in Maine schools (or vice-versa).

But whatever happens with Maine’s Question 1, I want Maine schools to teach about gays getting married. Other states’ schools, too.

Part of my reason for wanting this has nothing whatsoever to do with my support for marriage equality. I also want schools to teach about genocide, and I’m pretty staunchly anti-genocide. Schools are supposed to inform students about what’s happening in the world. For better or worse, same-sex marriage is happening in the world. Even if it is taken away in Maine, it will keep happening elsewhere. Indeed, even if it were somehow eliminated everywhere, it would remain part of our history. Students need to know this.

Of course, when we teach about genocide, we make it clear that genocide is a Very Bad Thing. By contrast, responsible teaching about same-sex marriage would have to acknowledge that it is a controversial thing, with sane and decent people on different sides of the issue.

And that is doubtless one reason why you, dear parent, fear teaching about same-sex marriage in schools. You’d rather that your children not know that there are some sane and decent people who deny that same-sex marriage is a Very Bad Thing. Indeed, that there some who think it is a Perfectly Fine Thing. You want to shelter them from such diversity. I don’t.

I want them to know that there are people with different views on marriage, and that gay people are getting legally married in parts of the United States and elsewhere. I want them to know it because any informed citizen ought to know it. But I also want them to know it because some of them might themselves be gay.

That’s right: there’s a small but statistically significant chance that your child might be gay. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away. And isolating him from the fact of other gay people won’t make it go away, either. It will just make him…well, isolated.

Now, your child might not be gay, and if that’s so, learning about gay marriage isn’t going to make him gay. Sexual orientation doesn’t work that way. (If it did, I’d be straight.) If your child is straight, he will remain straight, regardless of what happens in Maine, California, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

But let’s suppose he’s gay. If so, and if I’m right that he can’t willfully change that fact, then his best chance for a happy, fulfilling life is probably in a relationship with someone of the same sex. (I say “probably” because some people—a very rare subset—are happier single; let’s assume he’s not one of those.) Realistically, his choice is not between a gay relationship and a straight relationship; it’s between a gay relationship and none at all.

Now I don’t expect you simply to take my word for any of this. You want your child to be happy, and you can’t imagine his happiness as a gay person. Maybe you’re deeply convinced that he’d be better off alone than with someone of the same sex.

I don’t doubt that you sincerely believe this. But I sincerely believe that you are wrong—badly wrong, wrong in a way that does needless harm to your gay child.

I want your child to know that his love is a good thing. I want him to know that he deserves a chance at romantic bliss. I want him to know that, regardless of sexual orientation, he can seek someone to have and to hold, for better or for worse, until death do they part.

I want him at least to have that option.

And that, to be very frank, is the bigger part of my reason for wanting schools to teach about gay marriage. I want all kids, including gay kids, to have a fair shot at happiness.

That’s my homosexual agenda in a nutshell.

******
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 365gay.com.

For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit http://www.johncorvino.com/.

His upcoming speaking appearances include:

November 10: Central Washington University (debate with Glenn Stanton)

November 11: Colorado State University, Pueblo (debate with Glenn Stanton)

November 12: Miami University of Ohio

November 16: Bergen Community College (NJ)

Check school websites for rooms and times.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Canada Marks Anniversary for Gays in Military
By Tobi Cohen, THE CANADIAN PRESS



Commander Luc Cassivi is seen aboard HMCS Ville de Quebec Monday, September 21, 2009 in Montreal. As Barack Obama plunges into a controversial plan to overhaul rules about gays in the U.S. military, he might consider looking to the Canadian experience which celebrates a milestone next week. As debate heats up in the U.S. over its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Canada quietly marks an anniversary of the date homosexuals were allowed to enter the military here.

MONTREAL - While Barack Obama plunges his country into a controversial debate about gays in the U.S. military, he could perhaps find comfort in the Canadian experience which celebrates an anniversary milestone next week.

The U.S. president has promised to repeal America's policy of, 'Don't ask, don't tell,' reviving a heated debate in his country that has not made a ripple in Canada since Oct. 27, 1992.

On that day Canada's Federal Court ruled that barring homosexuals from military service violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a landmark verdict that prompted more openly gay men and women to join the ranks of the Army, Air Force and Navy.

In the last 17 years, many have risen to the top in their respective fields - an otherwise impossible feat under rules that once barred the promotion of enlisted individuals who'd been outed.

Luc Cassivi is one of them.

He certainly didn't talk about his sexual orientation when he joined the Canadian Navy in 1983. He's now the highest-ranking sailor aboard HMCS Ville de Quebec, a commander in the Navy, and he's no longer shy about who he is.

"I've been openly gay for a number of years. My friends and my co-workers know it and it surely has not been an impediment for me progressing," Cassivi said in an interview aboard his Halifax-based frigate.

"I'm not saying that things have always been rosy. There were periods when things were difficult for a lot of people. . . But I think we're well past that at this point."

According to the Palm Centre, a California-based think tank focused on research related to gender, sexuality and the military, Canada is a leader among the 25 countries that now permit military service by openly gay people.

Canadian Forces chaplains have been blessing same-sex weddings on military bases since 2005 and, over the last four years, military recruiters have participated in gay-pride festivals in Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal and Vancouver.

Cassivi spent 15 years in tight quarters as a submariner. He said he's experienced his share of awkward moments and uncomfortable jokes. There were even times he considered leaving the military.

But once the rules changed, he says, so did the culture. Opportunities began to surface. These days, Cassivi says, success is dictated by performance.

"It's not colour, cultural background, gender or the like. It's (whether) you are competent at what you do," he said. "If you're competent at what you do, then the team will take you in and fully integrate you."

Cassivi said coming out with his colleagues merely simplified his life. He doesn't see himself as a champion for gay rights and says this is the first time he's ever spoken in the media about his sexuality. What he's most concerned about, he says, is getting the best out of his crew.

"I believe in the power of the people who work for me. It's really about them at the end of the day," he said.

"I try to do the best job I can and if somebody sees me as a role model, good for them. If what I do inspires them to carry on and achieve their full potential, that's great, but that's for them to judge, not me."

Michelle Douglas is heartened to learn just how much things have changed for her fellow homosexuals.

The 45-year-old public servant was inadvertently thrust into the spotlight when she was discharged from the military police in 1989 because she was - in their words - "not advantageously employable due to homosexuality."

She had no idea at the time the historic impact her legal challenge would have, but as the anniversary of that fateful victory approaches, Douglas said she's thrilled to have played a "small part" in the rights movement.

"It was a real turning point for equality rights for gay and lesbian people in Canada," she said.

"To have such an institution as the military now be open to gay and lesbian service members was an important victory."

While she never did return to the Canadian Forces, she was pleased to see service members marching for the first time at Toronto's pride festival in 2008.

"I approached them and told them who I was. They kind of had heard of my case but for them it was really something they saw as history," she said.

"It was heartwarming to me to know that there had been such advances. . . that it could now be viewed as history and people could just get on with their lives and serve their country proudly and openly."

Megan MacLean, a spokeswoman for Canada's Department of National Defence, said the military keeps no statistics regarding homosexual members but says gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people serve in all three branches of the military.

Since the rules changed in 1992, she said, incidents of discrimination and harassment have been "extremely rare."

She touted Canada as a global leader when it comes to inclusiveness. She noted, however, that the Obama administration had not sought any Canadian advice on how to tackle the thorny subject.

Nathaniel Frank, a senior researcher in the U.S. with the Palm Centre, said that's not an unlikely proposition.

Every time the debate surfaces in the U.S., he said officials look to more liberal countries like Canada and Britain. While American conservatives often dismiss Canada and Western Europe as too laissez-faire, Frank said that's inaccurate.

There was actually plenty of political opposition before the Canadian ban was lifted, he said, and a majority of male soldiers polled prior to 1992 said they'd refuse to shower, undress, or sleep in the same room as a gay comrade.

"The same kinds of rhetoric we heard here (in the U.S.) during our debate in the early 1990s and since - that this would never work, that it would undermine morale and cohesion, that the military would suffer and that it's too big a risk - were also heard in Canada," Frank said.

But a 2000 study of the Canadian experience by the University of California research group found no basis for the allegations.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered soldiers reported good working relationships with their peers; incidences of sexual harassment among women dropped; and not a single assault could be attributed to gay-bashing.

The study concluded that lifting the ban on openly gay members had no bearing on military performance, unit cohesion, or discipline.

He expects the same would be true if the U.S. dropped its 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy and says he's optimistic nay-sayers won't be able to stave off change for much longer.

"We know we're standing on the right side of history," he said.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 151"

"Never be afraid of the truth..."


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, October 23, 2009

"The Artist's Corner"

Ben Kimura
Watercolor

"The Poet's Corner"


"I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love, is in God, and God is in him, for God is love. "


Leo Tolstoy in "What Men Live By" (1881)

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 150"

"Black, Out, Proud and In Love..."


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.

"In The News Today..."




"I wonder why people have to hate what they don't understand..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 149"

"His Kiss 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.

"In The News Today..."


Gay Penguin Book Authors Welcome Their Own New Addition


By Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • October 5, 2009 - 18:25


And Tango Makes Three is one of the most challenged books

The authors of And Tango Makes Three, the controversial children's book about a pair of gay penguins, have welcomed their first child into the world.

Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell had their baby daughter Gemma in February but the new addition to their family has only just been revealed.

Baby Gemma was born to a surrogate mother after several years of unsuccessful IVF attempts. Sperm from both men was used, although it was left to chance as to who would be the biological father.

The couple wrote And Tango Makes Three after hearing the story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins in Central Park Zoo who hatched an egg together.

The book is thought to be the most-challenged text in the past few years and libraries are asked not to stock it more than any other book.

It has been accused of being anti-family, anti-religion, unsuitable for children and pro-homosexuality.

In April, it topped an American Library Association's (ALA) list of the book most people want banned.

However, the ALA has been keen to defend literature from censorship and celebrates Banned Books Week every autumn.

"It Can Be Like This..."

Excerpted from : Living Out Loud With Darian



"A life lived in fear is a life half lived..."

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 148"

"United by Love and in the Eyes of God..."


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's Not So Funny..."


"The Truth Is In The Scriptures"

Reversing Anti-Gay Christianist Talking Points...

Cross-posted from Queers United

Next time you hear anti-gay forces try to speak their "truth", let them know how hypocritical their philosophy of hate and misunderstanding really is.

Religion is a lifestyle choice, homosexuality is not.
The religious-right often says that homosexuality is a choice, when clearly the science and common sense is in that nobody would choose to feel ostracized, be a minority, or lead a life where they weren't given equal opportunities.

Judgment and hate are sinful, loving gay couples are not.
The people who use the Bible as a tool to preach anti-gay hate often point fingers accusing gay people of being sinners. What they fail to realize is that the Bible is not to be taken literally, homosexuality is no more a sin, than being left handed, it is natural and God given, it is people in the context of an ancient culture who misunderstood homosexuality that wrote these verses. For those who take a literal interpretation it is ironic that they rail against LGBT people while failing to remember the Bible says not to judge or to hate, but to love thy neighbor as thyself.

To walk in the way of Jesus is to reach out to LGBT people.
Jesus Christ made it his mission not to follow religious dogma and authority, he did not seek to reach out to the rich or those in power. He set out to befriend and assist the poor, the weak, the disabled, and disenfranchised. Jesus would clearly be reaching out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Religion seeks to recruit people into its lifestyle, LGBT people don't.
Right-wing elements within organized religion often claims that gays are trying to "recruit people into their lifestyle" but last I checked one cannot alter a straight persons orientation. We seek to educate, dialogue and gain equality not in an effort to turn people gay but turn peoples hearts and minds into seeing that we share the same hopes, and fears, and love that everyone else does. If anyone is on a mission to recruit people into their lifestyle it would be organized religion and their missionaries. These groups seek to convert people into their way of thinking, which they see as the only way. The beauty of this Earth is that there are many ways to find inner peace and spirituality, and that there is a diversity of thought and of culture and to find God or to have no Gods at all.

"In The News Today..."


Pentagon Airs Criticism Of ‘Don’t Ask’
Journal article backs gay troops; May signal brass open to debate


By Bryan Bender
September 30, 2009

WASHINGTON - An article in the Pentagon’s top scholarly journal calls in unambiguous terms for lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces, arguing that the military is essentially forcing thousands of gay men and women to lead dishonest lives in an organization that emphasizes integrity as a fundamental tenet.

The article in the upcoming issue of Joint Force Quarterly, which is published for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was written by an Air Force colonel who studied the issue for months while a student at the National Defense University in Washington and who concludes that having openly gay troops in the ranks will not hurt combat readiness.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of Pentagon leaders, but their appearance in a publication billed as the Joint Chiefs’ “flagship’’ security studies journal signals that the top brass now welcomes a debate in the military over repealing the 1993 law that requires gays to hide their sexual orientation, according to several longtime observers of the charged debate over gays in the military.

While decisions on which articles to publish are made by the journal’s editorial board, located at the defense university, a senior military official said yesterday that the office of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman who is the nation’s top military officer, reviewed the article before it was published.

“After a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly,’’ writes Colonel Om Prakash, who is now working in the office of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. “Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.’’

The article, an advance copy of which was provided to the Globe, is likely to increase pressure on President Obama to fulfill his campaign pledge to work with Congress to overturn the 1993 law commonly referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell.’’

The law stipulates that gays in the military must keep their sexual orientation secret. In the 16 years it has been in effect, more than 12,500 troops have been discharged because their sexual orientation was revealed, either by themselves or others.

But Obama has tread very carefully since taking office, declining to provide a timeline on when the White House will actively lobby Congress and repeatedly saying that he will consult his military advisers before taking any action. The White House did not respond yesterday to requests for comment. Gates’s office reiterated that until Congress changes the law, the Pentagon will follow it.

Obama’s reticence is based in part on the lessons of former president Bill Clinton, who sought to allow gays to serve openly early in his administration but was forced to agree to the 1993 compromise after a fierce backlash in Congress and the military.

Representative Patrick Murphy, a Pennsylvania Democrat and Iraq war veteran, is lobbying for a hearing - possibly later this year or early next year - on legislation that he has proposed that would repeal the ban. The bill has 176 cosponsors; there is no similar legislation pending in the Senate.

Arguing that the law “has been costly both in personnel and treasure’’ - the cost of discharging service members and recruiting replacements, including those with language or other specialized skills - Prakash lays out a case in his article for why he believes the time has come for repeal.

While he acknowledges that allowing gays to serve openly would cause some disruptions in the ranks - including harassment and even violence - he asserts that the disruptions would be manageable and that the military would quickly accept the change. Moreover, he argues that a more equitable policy would actually strengthen unit cohesion.

“No doubt there will be cases where units will become dysfunctional, just as there are today among heterosexual leaders,’’ Prakash writes. “Intervention will be required; such units must be dealt with just as they are today - in a prompt and constructive fashion.’’

Ensuring a smooth transition will require education and leadership, he believes, but the record suggests that there will be no major fallout.

Prakash cites the examples of other militaries - including in Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Canada - that allow gays to serve openly. “There was no mass exodus of heterosexuals, and there was no mass ‘coming out’ of homosexuals,’’ he said.

Prakash also points to recent examples of gay soldiers - including battlefield leaders such as a Marine Corps captain - whose sexual orientation has been known by others in their units, to no discernible effect.

But the crux of Prakash’s argument is that the military is now forcing thousands of soldiers to live a lie, directly undercutting the very fabric of their profession.

“The law also forces unusual personal compromises wholly inconsistent with a core military value - integrity,’’ he writes. “Several homosexuals interviewed were in tears as they described the enormous personal compromise in integrity they had been making, and the pain felt in serving in an organization they wholly believed in, yet that did not accept them.’’

He continues: “In an attempt to allow homosexual service members to serve quietly, a law was created that forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of ‘equality for all,’ places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas, and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve.’’

The article is likely to be applauded by gay rights groups that have been lobbying the Obama administration to take action to overturn the ban. But it is also likely to embolden supporters of the current law such as Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a Washington think tank.

She believes that allowing gays to serve openly in all ranks and units - as the Murphy bill stipulates - would severely damage unit cohesion. “It is tantamount to saying that men should share the same living spaces with women,’’ she said. “Society may have changed but the need for good order and discipline has not changed.’’

Donnelly also contends that the experiences of foreign militaries should not be a guide for the US armed forces, saying that some of them have conscript armies and do not allow gays to serve in elite combat units.

“These are not role models for the United States,’’ she said. “Congress is being asked to impose a risky military social experiment that is duplicated nowhere in the world.’’

Bryan Bender can be reached at bender@globe.com.

© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"In The News Today..."


"Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Don't ever slip up."

Frank, a recently retired gay sailor, went through years of worries that his secret life would be discovered. “I constantly felt like I had to watch what I did,” he said.

By Kate Wiltrout
The Virginian-Pilot
September 27, 2009
NORFOLK

Since 1993, a generation of gay sailors, Marines, soldiers and airmen has learned to survive on the military's margins.

That year, President Bill Clinton prohibited the military from asking about individuals' sexual orientation - even as Congress mandated the discharge of anyone engaging in homosexual acts or identifying themselves as gay.

About 13,000 gays and lesbians have been discharged since the changes took place. Still, a far greater number of gay Americans are serving, or have served, in silence.

They walk a fine line, constantly recalculating how much of their personal lives to share with co-workers, learning which doctors and chaplains they can trust, and in the safest cases, finding bosses who subtly make clear that actions, not adjectives, are the best measure of a good sailor.

The Virginian-Pilot interviewed three gay members of the military about what it's like to serve without disclosing a key part of their identity.

Because naming them could jeopardize their careers, the newspaper agreed not to use their real names or include details that would allow them to be recognized.

Here are their stories.

Phoebe, who works on communications equipment on a Norfolk-based surface ship, is partway through her first hitch in the Navy.

Outspoken but not defensive, Phoebe said she didn't know she was gay when she enlisted. But after a few relationships with men, one of which resulted, unintentionally, in pregnancy, she realized she was a lesbian.

She laughs now about breaking two pieces of news to her surprised parents: First, she was pregnant. Second, she was gay.

It hasn't been easy, but she's managed to balance motherhood and the military. Her parents care for her child when her ship deploys.

She's a no-nonsense sailor, promoted three times in four years, and she doesn't think work and personal lives should mix too much. The bridge of a warship, she said, isn't an appropriate place to talk about intimate relationships - gay or straight.

But when you live together, and you're deployed together and you sleep in a small compartment, she said, it's hard to keep the most basic truth about yourself private.

She abides by the rules. But curse words fly when she talks about the current policy.

"I think it's bull that I could get kicked out for something that has nothing to do with the military. I can go die for my country, and I can't be gay?" she said, before letting loose with a choice expletive.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy prohibits the military from inquiring about individuals' sexual tendencies and pursuing rumors of homosexual conduct. Individuals cannot talk about their sexual orientation; nor can they be harassed over perceived sexual preferences.

But federal law offers no protection if credible evidence of gay behavior comes to a commanding officer's attention. The law clearly states that gay individuals create "an unacceptable risk" to "morale, good order and discipline and unit cohesion."

Phoebe posed a theoretical question to those who think gay men and women have no place in the military. "What's worse?" she asked. "Having a terrorist attack? Or having a homo stop it?"

Although she gets tired of always having to edit her speech around co-workers, Phoebe doesn't feel particularly vulnerable.

She's confident that the commanding officer of her ship knows she's gay.

The C.O. asked her once what she thought of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Her response was not suitable for publication.

Phoebe believes that most people in her division know her truth, but she's careful not to provide any proof.

"Everyone on my ship assumes, but I've never come out and said anything to anyone I didn't trust," she said.

She described an informal network of gay sailors on her ship.

Phoebe said she knows them all, and when asked roughly how many there are, proceeded to count them out on her fingers. About a dozen, she concluded, including officers, chiefs and enlisted sailors of both sexes.

With rare exceptions, gay sailors stationed on the same ship don't get involved in romantic relationships, she said. But it's nice to have friends who are dealing with the same issues.

When the ship pulled into a foreign port, Phoebe said, the gay sailors would often head off together to a hole-in-the-wall gay bar.

She takes some solace that under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," superiors are not supposed to inquire about her sexuality. So as long as she's careful, she isn't too worried about being investigated.

"I could hang out with the gayest guy in the world, wearing a dress, and it wouldn't matter," Phoebe said. "Unless there's proof, there's nothing they can do."

Phoebe said concerns about gay sailors hitting on straight shipmates are overblown: "That's why we have shower curtains! There are bathroom stalls, and you have a curtain on your rack."

She also mentioned that there's plenty of illicit interaction between men and women on her ship, even though Navy policy forbids sex while a boat is under way. On a recent deployment, she said, the captain put 10 people on the ship on restriction for having sex. One case involved a tryst between an officer and an enlisted sailor, she said - a type of fraternization verboten at sea or ashore.

Although angered by what she perceives as official discrimination against gays, Phoebe said no one has been rude or discriminatory toward her.

If Congress changed the law to allow gays to serve openly, "it wouldn't change much for me," she said.

Then she conceded that it would be a weight off her shoulders: "I could walk down the road with my girlfriend's hand in mine and not worry about someone from my ship seeing me."

Richard enlisted almost 20 years ago and, until recently, didn't give much thought to what it would be like to be a gay military man.

Then, a few years ago, he accepted a truth he'd fought to bury for years: He is gay.

The acknowledgment came as a great relief, even at home. He remains married to a woman he met in the military. They have school-age children.

In some ways, their marriage is stronger now. He and his wife are no longer lovers, but they're still best friends and partners committed to raising their kids in a loving home.

Because there's so much at stake - his job, his family's health insurance, his retirement - he worries about someone discovering the truth before he's eligible to retire in a few years.

Trained in multiple foreign languages for a job that requires travel and a security clearance, he knows his skills would fetch a handsome salary in the civilian world. He would happily stay in uniform if the law changed. If it doesn't, he's prepared to retire as soon as he can.

In a recent interview with Richard and his wife in the living room of their two-story house, in a typical Hampton Roads subdivision, the couple talked about their lives.

His wife finds support on the Internet from other women married to gay men. It's not as rare as you might think, they say.

Richard has turned to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to learn which actions do or don't violate the law.

For example, he explains, it's OK for a soldier to go to a gay bar - but it's not OK to dance with another man. It's OK to watch a movie with a same-sex partner - but not to kiss or hold that partner's hand. It's fine to march in a gay pride parade- but not to hold a placard identifying yourself as a lesbian sailor.

Having to stay attuned to those specific legalities has worn Richard down.

He takes seriously the American ideals of justice and equality. That his own government denies him both, he said, takes its toll.

"Is our military representative of the freedoms of our nation?" he asked rhetorically. "If I can't go to the movies and hold somebody's hand, am I free?"

Having to lie about tiny things gets tiresome, and eventually, Richard said, leads to a bigger problem:

"It's important people can be true to themselves. If you can't be true to yourselves, you can't be true to the people around you."

The current policy encourages lying, he said - and even small lies about where you spent the weekend or what you watched on TV turn into a bigger breach of trust.

"When, by law, you are compelling people to lie about their personal lives, you're driving a wedge between people and their unit," he said.

He is confident the military would accept the change without much trouble.

"Saying our military can't adapt to those challenges is really selling our military short," he said.

Like Richard, Frank didn't accept being gay until after he'd married and become a father.

He enlisted to get away from home.

"I was running away from home, and it was the best way to keep a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a little bit of change in my pocket," he said during an interview at a Virginia Beach Starbucks.

When he joined up, a few years before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was adopted, enlistment forms asked if recruits had homosexual tendencies or experiences - and answering yes meant you couldn't serve.

Frank lied.

He didn't want to be gay. So he repressed it. He took his marriage vows seriously and stayed faithful to his wife, whom he met on duty.

His control lasted 10 years, until Frank realized he couldn't deny reality. The couple divorced. Their youngest child wasn't yet in school; the older one was in grade school.

Frank and his kids stayed together, and eventually his partner, Dave, joined them.

The arrangement was tested when Frank prepared to deploy a few years ago and Dave became the kids' guardian - taking them shopping, shuttling them to dentist and doctor appointments, overseeing their homework.

"It was rough. It was a little scary," Frank said. He knew his partner would be a good father figure, but he worried that the pressure of parenting might be too much for him.

It almost was. The couple came close to breaking up while Frank was gone, although Dave promised to take care of the kids regardless. They got through the rough patch and are still together.

Frank described years of nagging worries that his secret would be revealed. "I constantly felt like I had to watch what I did," he said.

He knows five gay sailors who were discharged or chose to leave the Navy because bearing their secret was too hard.

Occasionally, over drinks, away from the office, a fellow sailor would broach the topic.

"They'll start off saying, 'You don't have to answer me and I'm not supposed to ask, but I want to let you know that I don't care. I'm just curious,' " Frank recalled.

If he trusted the person, Frank would acknowledge being gay. But he didn't feel comfortable bringing his partner along to the command Christmas party - even though someone else did invite a same-sex date, introduced to everyone as a roommate.

The worries have subsided now. Frank recently retired.

Even on his last day in uniform, Frank was concerned about keeping up appearances.

Dave attended the ceremony, but stayed in the background.

Frank said he cut his remarks short when he started getting emotional.

"I didn't want anything to slip."

"A Moment of Truth..."



"It Can Be Like This..."

"A new day has arrived..."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 147"

"Never Alone..."


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 Moment of Truth..."

,Corvino: Stand up for Maine – and for marriage

By John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com
10.09.2009 11:02am EDT

As much as I aim to seek common ground, some aspects of the marriage debate make it impossible. Consider, for example, the Maine campaign.

If you haven’t been following the campaign, you should. To my mind, our side has done a model job in framing the debate, telling our stories, responding quickly to opponents’ false messages, and perhaps most important, tailoring its own message to the local climate rather than simply going with stock arguments. Check out the ads at http://www.protectmaineequality.org/.

By contrast, the other side is essentially a re-run of the California Prop. 8 campaign (which is not surprising, as they’ve hired the same mastermind, Frank Schubert).

Of course, the other side won Prop. 8. Polls in Maine had us trailing until recently. But if ever there were a campaign that could come from behind, the Protect Maine Equality campaign is it. If you don’t believe me, compare their website to the opposition’s (http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/), and see if you don’t come away impressed and encouraged.

You are also likely to come away angry with the opposition. Good. Channel that anger into action by going back to http://www.protectmaineequality.org/ and making a sizeable donation.

Of all the things that irk me about the other side’s ads—and there are plenty—what struck me the most was Boston College law professor Scott Fitzgibbon’s claim that if marriage equality stands, “It will no longer be live and let live. Homosexual marriage will be the law whether Mainers like it or not.”

Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t get it the first time. Allow gays to marry, and “It will no longer be live and let live.”

If someone were awarding prizes for bizarre commentary in the marriage debate, this claim would be a formidable contender. The statement is so self-contradictory that it’s hard to discern its intended meaning.

But I’ll try. For marriage-equality opponents, “live and let live” must mean something like, “You are free to live as you please as long as I am free to live in a world in which you are not free to live as you please.” (Ouch. My brain hurts.)

If there’s anything worthwhile about the Fitzgibbon ad, it’s that it sharply exposes our opponents’ real intentions. They don’t merely want the freedom to marry whom they love, to worship as they choose, to raise their children as they see fit, and so on. They want the freedom to live in a world where those who differ don’t get the same freedom. In short, they want the exact opposite of a free society.

Whenever an educated person (like Fitzgibbon, who is a law professor) says something so bizarre and stupid, I assume that there must be something true somewhere in the neighborhood. If not the neighborhood, the county, perhaps.

In this case, the truth lies in the fact that freedom has a flip side, so to speak—namely, that other people may freely choose to do things that you don’t like.

Whether Maine retains marriage equality or not, our opponents are free to teach their children (and anyone else willing to listen) that same-sex relationships are wrong, that our marriages are not “real” marriages, that our families are not “real” families, and so on. They are free to do the same with respect to interfaith marriages, second marriages, whatever. You and I are free to tell them why they’re wrong.

What they are not free to do is to live in a world where everyone agrees with them. Nor are they free to live in a world where marriage between two men or two women is unthinkable, unspeakable, or legally impossible. Even if we lose Maine, we will still have marriage equality elsewhere.

And there’s the crux of the matter, and the point at which the debate really becomes a zero-sum game. Our opponents want a world where same-sex marriage is not even an option. In particular, they don’t want their kids—some of whom might be gay—to see it as an option.

By contrast, I want every gay and lesbian child to know that when they grow up, they deserve someone to have and to hold, for better or worse, ‘til death do they part.

I want them to know that when they fall in love and seek commitment, their love is real, and worthy, and good. I want them to know that marriage IS an option.

If you want that, too, support marriage equality in Maine and elsewhere.



******
P.S. And while you’re at it, don’t forget Washington State, where a nasty campaign is aimed at taking away domestic partnerships. See http://approvereferendum71.org/. If we lose Maine, gay Mainers get civil unions instead of marriage. If we lose Washington State, Washington gays end up with nothing.



******

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 365gay.com.

For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit http://www.johncorvino.com/.

His upcoming speaking appearances include:

October 13: Wisconsin Indianhead College
October 14: Western Tech College (WI)
October 15: Northcentral Technical College (WI)
October 20: Illinois State University

Check school websites for rooms and times.

"In The News Today..."


Being Out at Work
Oct 15th, 2009

By Pace Smith

For many of us GLBT folks, work is the last bastion of The Closet. We’re out at home and we’re out when we’re out, but we “tone it down” when we’re at work. We don’t let our freak flags fly. We aren’t fully ourselves. We squish ourselves into poorly-fitting boxes of “what’s normal” and “what’s acceptable” out of fear.

That’s a damn shame, because being out at work can change the world. Here’s how. It has to do with monkey brains, and I’m not even kidding.

Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist, found that the size of primates’ brains (the neocortex in particular) is directly related to the size of their social groups. Humans, on another branch of the primate family tree, have brains that allow us to maintain stable social relationships with about 150 people. This social circle is called our “monkeysphere.”

Even though you might meet thousands of people over the course of your life, your brain is hard-wired to truly connect with only 150 of them at a time. Those 150 are the people inside your monkeysphere. Anyone outside of your monkeysphere is an abstract concept, not a real live human your brain is capable of empathizing with on a day-to-day basis.

Most people are not sociopaths. Most people are not psychopaths. Most people are not any kind of paths at all. So why is there so much prejudice against us, your friendly GLBT neighbors? The answer is that we’re just not in their monkeyspheres.

We’re just not in their monkeyspheres.

It takes a special kind of malicious, messed-up person to hurt someone they know and empathize with. But it’s much easier for the average Joe or Jane on the street to hurt people they don’t know and don’t empathize with. It’s easier to hurt people outside of their monkeyspheres, “people” who are more abstract concepts than living, breathing human beings.

Outside the monkeysphere, it’s concept versus concept. Concepts like “sin”, “what’s natural”, “defending marriage”, or “family values”. Inside the monkeysphere, it’s about connection. It’s “but that would mean my brother and his partner couldn’t adopt”, or “I don’t want my friend Hannah to be treated like a second-class citizen.”


When you connect with and care about someone, you don’t need laws to tell you to be nice to them. You don’t need laws to tell you to treat them kindly and fairly.

This is why the best thing we can do, for ourselves and for our GLBT brethren and sistren, is to diversify our monkeyspheres.

And what better place to do that than at work? In social settings, we gravitate toward people with similar worldviews and interests. At work, it’s more of a melting pot. You being out at work is more likely to flip someone from “that’s just wrong” to “but that would hurt my co-worker.”

Being inside others’ monkeyspheres can change hearts and minds. And that can change the world.

Pace Smith is the co-author (with her wife Kyeli) of the Freak Revolution Manifesto, a free e-book about why people on the fringes of society will change the world, and how we can actually do it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 146"

"He Makes Me Happy..."


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.

"In The News Today..."



Study Shows No Difference In Adopted Children Raised By Gay Parents
News Release — 25 September 2009





Media contact: Herb Booth, (817) 272-2761, hbooth@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - Three college educators have determined there is no significant difference in emotional problems experienced by children adopted by heterosexual and gay or lesbian parents.

The study, published in this month's Adoption Quarterly, was authored by Scott Ryan, the new dean of The University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work, and Paige Averett and Blace Nalavany, assistant professors of social work at East Carolina University.

The researchers used survey results from parents who adopted children through Florida's public child welfare system and data from gay and lesbian couples throughout the United States.

"Our research shows that there is no difference in children raised by gay or lesbian parents and heterosexual parents," said Ryan, who is an expert in the study of gay and lesbian adoption. "People are people."

Ryan joined UT Arlington in August and was most recently associate dean at Florida State University.

Emotional problems of adopted children were more likely predicted by age and pre-adoptive sexual abuse, Averett added.

The study also found that an increase in annual income, family operation and parental satisfaction with adoption preparation services could lead to significantly less emotional problems.

"But we did not find sexual orientation to be a significant predictor of behavioral problems," Nalavany said.

Ryan said what makes the study different is that gay and lesbian couples were compared with heterosexual couples. The study also had a "robust sample size," he said.

The study included 155 gay and lesbian couples and 1,229 heterosexual couples. Couples responded to questions about parent and child characteristics, family composition and dynamics, the child's pre-adoptive history (or a history of maltreatment), and current emotional and behavioral functioning.

Ryan said Florida has the only adoption system that specifically prohibits gay and lesbian persons from adopting children and asks all adoptive parents to sign an affidavit stating they are not homosexual. Yet gay and lesbian couples can be foster parents there, he said.

Texas allows gay and lesbian couples to adopt.

As of 2007, there were an estimated 130,000 children in the child welfare system waiting to be adopted, yet a Library of Congress report noted "serious shortages" of qualified adoptive parents.

The American Civil Liberties Union contends that many gay and lesbian families are interested and willing to adopt children and are often open to adopting the harder to place children such as those that are older. Yet policies of adoption agencies, social stigma and state laws have created barriers to adoption for gay and lesbian couples, the advocacy group argues.

Averett said the 130,000 children waiting to be adopted "are depending on us to act as informed advocates on their behalf."

"There are implications for social work educators, adoption professionals and policy makers in this and other recent studies," Averett said. "We must pay attention to the data indicating that gay and lesbian parents are as fit as heterosexual parents to adopt."

Ryan said he hopes the study shows social workers that children can grow up health in a variety of family forms.

He said the real hope for children who are waiting for parents to adopt them lies in lawmakers and administrators deciding that gay and lesbian couples can serve as well as heterosexual couples.

"The proof is in the research," Ryan said.



###

Copyright © The University of Texas at Arlington

"Truth... A Father Speaks Out"




Although my own father is in the grips of advancing stages of Alzheimer's Disease, I like to think that based on conversations that we've had in the last few years after I came out to him and after he met the man I told him I loved, he'd share wisdom similar to this loving father's.


Like this gentleman, my father served his country proudly, even under the oppression of institutionalized racism, during WWII. He served in the Pacific theatre and saw action at sea and on land.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"The Truth About Time..."

Just a short few minutes ago, a milestone of sorts was passed and with it may come an end and an end... sometimes the hour glass does run out of sand.

I like to measure time, I'm sure this is one of the things that Stephen Christopher Harris thinks of when he thinks of me.

It happened on a day like no other in my life before, its something I have shared only with him...

It can be measured as:
3 years;
1096 days;
94,694,400 seconds;
1,578,240 minutes;
26,304 hours;
156 weeks (rounded down); or
38 Lunar Cycles

But perhaps its measured best as 113,633,280 beats of a human heart that went on for something larger than itself... it was for the sake of love.





"Fear Eats the Soul"



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"A Truth Shared..."


Editorial: The Damage of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell


Published: October 3, 2009

Sixteen years after passage of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, there is reason to hope that the military is edging away from its destructive opposition to allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly. At the very least, a prize-winning essay in a prominent military journal suggests that the issue is open to debate and even dissent.

The essay, which won this year’s Secretary of Defense essay contest and was reviewed in advance of publication by the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was published in Joint Force Quarterly. It was written by an Air Force colonel who researched the impact of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The law was enacted in 1993 after President Bill Clinton tried to lift an existing policy against homosexuals serving in the military and met strong resistance from military and Congressional leaders.

By cementing homophobic military policy into law, Congress made a bad situation worse. It reached a so-called compromise by which homosexuals could serve — but only if they did not acknowledge their orientation or act on it. If they did, they could be discharged. About 12,500 service members have been forced out, including many with distinguished records or invaluable language and intelligence skills.

The author of the essay, Col. Om Prakash, effectively demolishes the primary, wrongheaded rationale for the law: that unit cohesion would be harmed if homosexuals served openly. Several other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel and Britain, have lifted bans on homosexuals serving openly with no adverse effects on military performance or readiness.

Colonel Prakash argues that the law has undermined unit cohesion, in part by compromising the integrity of homosexuals who have to dissemble and by posing a moral quandary for commanders — look the other way or risk discharging a valuable service member. He judged the policy a “costly failure” because of the lost manpower and the administrative costs of recruiting and separating homosexuals. He urged the Obama administration to examine how to repeal the ban.

We agree strongly with Colonel Prakash, and urge the Pentagon to press ahead with changes in its regulations to make implementing the “don’t ask” law more humane. Ultimately, Congress must repeal the 1993 statute. We are not confident that the Senate has enough enlightened members to overcome a filibuster. But if the military can show an open mind, surely lawmakers can summon the courage to end this sad chapter in history.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 146"


"He's My 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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"A Change Is Gonna Come..."


Click above for image

Health Insurance - Hard to believe there's a debate about this...

I was very sick for a while... That evening of September 27th, ("The Anniversary") I almost died. The funny thing is that I was looking forward to it, the dying that is.

As I lay in my sick bed that Monday, barely alive, all I could think about was the three years I've given to Stephen Christopher Harris. As an intense fever burned through me and I laid in sheets soaked and wet with my own sweat the song, "A Change Is Gonna Come" played over and over in my head. There's a line in the song that I remembered Stephen Christopher Harris seemed to particularly dislike... it goes like this,

"Its been too hard livin, but I'm afraid to die, 'cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky..."

And as I laid in my own vomit soiled linens, cold and alone, I realized that while that line in the song is true for Stephen, its not for me... I'm not at all afraid to die. I'm not afraid to live either... and that's what made me able to share with Stephen Christopher Harris all that I had. I've been fearless in loving him.

He complained of being sick often, although I don't think he really knows what it is to be sick. He visits the doctor often for the most trivial of complaints. But my love for him wanted all his desires to be fulfilled, so I made that possible for him too.

I got better on my own, no doctors, no pills, no tests, no fears... unlike Stephen, I had no choice.

"Fear Eats the Soul"





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