Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Perfect match

Bob Nunn and Tom Harrover have been a couple for 4 decades. But it wasn’t until a near tragedy that they realized they were truly meant for each other

LIFE GOES ON | Nunn, right, and Harrover stand before a project commissioned for the convention center hotel. Four years ago, Nunn was near death because of kidney disease. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Bob Nunn agrees with the adage that the longer a couple lives together, the more they begin to look alike. Nunn and his partner Tom Harrover might not look that similar on the outside, but they match in a way that few couples do.

Let’s start with some history.

The two have that classic meet-cute that began on the wrong note. As Nunn tells it, Harrover was the dullest person he’d ever met —the two just didn’t like each other. Then, following a spontaneous invitation to a midnight movie, they ended up hitting it off. That movie led to conversation and then dating.

Forty-two years later, they still watch movies — as Nunn puts it, “I couldn’t get rid of him.”

A job in Houston took Nunn away from Harrover for three months, but old-fashioned letter writing kept the newbie relationship afloat.

“Tom had been writing me letters. He’s a very good writer,” Bob boasts. “He basically proposed to me by letter.”

They committed to each other, moving in and pursuing their careers: Harrover in architecture and Nunn teaching art. For 37 years, they lived in “a fabulous house” in Hollywood Heights. Life was good.

Then their life took a sharp turn.

“When we got together, Tom knew I had a kidney disease,” Nunn says. “Nothing was really a problem until about 30 years after we met — my kidneys began to fail and I had to start dialysis.”

Nunn registered with Baylor for the national organ donor list, but the experience was frustrating:  They received little response or encouragement from the hospital.

“Bob was on a downhill slide and the frustration with Baylor seemed like they were stonewalling us,” Harrover says. “We talked about going to Asia even. It felt like they didn’t want to deal with a senior-age gay couple.”

A LITTLE DAB’LL DO YOU | Bob Nunn is officially retired from teaching art, but continues to paint.

Then Harrover suggested something novel: He could donate his kidney to the organ list, with the idea that Nunn could get a healthy one.  Sort of a kidney exchange.

In desperation, they went back to their physician, who enrolled them in St. Paul Hospital’s then-new program for kidney transplant. The experience was a complete turnaround. Nunn was tested and processed immediately while Harrover prepped for his organ donation to an anonymous recipient.

Kidney transplants require a seven-point match system; a minimum of three matches is necessary for the recipient to be able to accept the organ into the body.

The tests revealed that Harrover’s kidney matched Nunn’s on all seven points.

“We assumed I would donate mine for use elsewhere,” Harrover says. “It never occurred to me that we’d be a match. The odds for that are off the charts.”

“See what happens when you live together for so long?” he chuckles.

Just six months after entering St. Paul’s program in 2007, they were on the operating table. They were the first direct living donor pair in the program. “It was all fairly miraculous,” Nunn understates.

Four years later, both men are doing well. Although officially retired, they both continue to work: Harrover does the occasional contract job while Nunn is currently on commission for an art project at the new convention center hotel. Outside of any official work, each interjects their quips about home, life be it cooking together or working on the lawn.

The obvious question for them might be “What’s the secret?” But they don’t see it just that way. Their relationship boils down to the obvious virtues of trust, respect and compromise.

“Selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head in this relationship,” Harrover says. “You just have to be willing to accommodate, support and encourage what the other is interested in.”

Nunn agrees. “I would not be doing what I’m doing without his support.”

Nunn says if there is a secret, it’s akin to the dynamic on a playground: Like each other and share. If you don’t share your whole life, there isn’t a relationship, he says. At this point, Harrover says it would be impossible to separate. On paper, they are so intertwined with their house and financials, he jokes they are “Siamese twins.”

They’ve witnessed a lot in their decades together, including something they never expected to come to pass in their lifetimes: Same-sex marriage. Coming from a time when just being gay conflicted with moral codes set by their jobs, they wonder over the progress made in recent years. (They were officially married in Boston in October 2009.)

“I’m confident that it will happen for everyone,” Harrover says. “I’m sorry that it’s moving at a glacial pace, but it has that same inevitability as a glacier. We’ll get there.”

But nothing compares to the bond Harrover and Nunn already have, a shared intimacy few couples could imagine. Same-sex marriage was merely unlikely; what they have experienced is miraculous.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Moral Majority Founder Tells Huckabee: Obama Is Hastening The End Times


(Via – Right Wing Watch)

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Bam Bam Barber cites hoary report to justify DADT – to keep ‘moral perverts’ out of military

Right Wing Watch brings us today’s Matt Barber bigot eruption – Liberty Counsel: DADT Keeps “Moral Perverts” Out Of The Armed Services. The sad fact is in his desperation to make an argument to keep DADT in place, he makes an ass out of himself, using the talk that Wikileaks-leaker Bradly Manning is gay, which of course says, um, nothing about the merits of the discriminatory DADT.

The topic came up in the Liberty Counsel’s “Faith and Freedom Radio” program today as Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed the issue and cited a report from the 1950s claiming that gays were “moral perverts” and therefore a national security risk:

Staver: According to news reports, Manning decided to turn traitor after a fight with his boyfriend, which somehow motivated him to send hundreds of thousands of confidential documents to WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, who’s alleged also by some to be gay.

But at any rate, if you go back and look at this, go back to the reports of the 1950s when a series of Senate committee reports concluded that “moral perverts are bad national security risks because of the susceptibility to blackmail” and that homosexuals are “vulnerable to interrogation by a skilled questioner” due to emotional instability or moral weakness.

And that comes from The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, October 1, 2001. So this is not some ancient document, but it looks back at what happened in the 1950s with regards to why homosexuality was automatic excluder for someone in a national security position.

Barber: This shows specifically why, this highlights why we have the policy in place that seeks to keep sexual deviancy out of the ranks of the armed services.

Surf over to RWW to see how Mat Staver continues bleating out lies with his above statement.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

The Roman Catholic Church indulges in moral relativism on civil unions

The opposition of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is legendary.  Not only does the Catholic Church lobby for anti-equality constitutional amendments and against marriage equality laws, it has been known to fundraise for those efforts and circulate referendum petitions during Holy Mass while the priest gives a homily on obedience.

Not satisfied with undermining marriage equality, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States also tries to undermine passage of civil union and domestic partnership laws by alleging that those second-class legal constructs somehow erode the “sanctity” of civil marriage for heterosexuals.  Civil unions are “an assault on the sacrament and institution of marriage and the family” is how the Diocese of Bridgeport put it.

In light of all that, it is tempting to assume it was a foregone conclusion that the Illinois Catholic Conference would take a proactive position in opposition to the Illinois civil unions bill and bemoan the bill’s passage after the fact.  But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion at all, because in actuality the Roman Catholic Church indulges in moral relativism where civil unions and domestic partnerships are concerned.
Washington

In 2009 the Washington State Catholic Conference sent one man to a few legislative committees to quietly testify against SB 5688, the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009.  The man was not accompanied by supporters or sign-wavers.  

After the law passed, WSCC posted an unsigned statement on their main web page in support of a referendum aimed at repealing it.  The posting was made with no fanfare and beyond these acts the Catholic Church machine remained silent.  Unlike in other states, Catholic parishoners were not rallied at church to sign the referendum petition, donate to the anti-equality campaign or vote a particular way.

Apparently the Catholic Church, like most of its religious-right colleagues in Washington, saw this particular referendum as a non-starter and thus gave it lip service but no solid backing.  Indeed, Chief of Staff Siler of the Yakima Diocese stated that “our resources are limited, and we think the more important issue will be the question of gay marriage”.  (Curious statement, given that the Catholic Church stated that the battle over the domestic partnership law was about marriage.)

Undoubtedly the Catholic Church’s minimal participation in the domestic partnership debate was also with an eye towards keeping people in the pews.  Washington has a small Roman Catholic population, many of whom live in the Puget Sound region which heavily supports LGBT equality and sends pro-equality legislators to the state legislature.

Thus to all appearances the Catholic Church acted in Washington based on political and pragmatic calculations rather than standing on principle and boldly defending heterosexual-only marriage from what they said they considered a true threat.

New Jersey

The Catholic Conference of Illinois’ publication “Promoting Civil Unions to Undermine Marriage” was intended to explain their anti-civil union position but ironically the title can truthfully be read to mean that the Catholic Church in fact promotes civil unions when doing so might undermine marriage equality legislation.

On December 7, 2009 the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act“, a marriage equality bill (S1967).  Committee chair Senator Paul Sarlo and Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference had the following exchange (emphasis added):

SENATOR SARLO:  Thank you, Mr. Brannigan.

I have one question.  Does the Catholic Church support–  We understand there’s some potential — there’s loopholes in the Civil Union law — the current Civil Union law — that prevents same-sex couples from having the same rights as heterosexual couples.  Does the Catholic Church support this Legislature amending the Civil Union law to close up every possible loophole?

MR. BRANNIGAN:  Yes.  The Catholic Church is–  Within a week after the Civil Union Act was passed, I issued a memorandum to all of our institutions.  As a matter of fact, when Seton Hall University then did a global e-mail to all employees notifying them that they should check with their health benefits because now the University was offering benefits to same-sex couples — and the University noted myself as the author of the direction — there was — I received quite a few calls from some individuals who didn’t agree with that position.  But we do support the Civil Union Act.

This is a complete reversal from the New Jersey Catholic Conference’s opposition in 2006 when the New Jersey Legislature was working to pass the civil union law.  By 2009 however the political landscape had changed and the Legislature was considering a marriage equality law.  It seems clear that under those circumstances the Catholic Church chose to cut its losses and say it supported civil unions so it could declare that marriage equality was not necessary.  As happened in Washington state, the Catholic Church in New Jersey walked away from principle after making a political calculation.

Maine

In 2009 the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland lent its public affairs director Mark Mutty to Stand for Marriage Maine to lead the marriage equality law ballot repeal effort.  During a debate on the referendum, Mutty strongly endorsed civil unions:

However, it is totally unnecessary for marriage to be redefined in order for them to have those benefits. There are alternatives, and those alternatives I think we’re all familiar with, enhanced domestic partner legislation, and other like arrangements can be made that do not fundamentally change the definition of marriage but yet provides those same benefits that they seek. And I fail to see how those benefits would not be available through these alternative arrangements as well as they would through marriage and I think that is the ultimate compromise…

…and again, enhanced domestic partnership legislation, a number of other options, civil unions is certainly an option that will provide all those same benefits, yet recognize that the two relationships are fundamentally if nothing else biologically very different.

Of course this was contrary to the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and presumably Mutty’s boss Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland: “We strongly oppose any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage – by naming them marriage, civil unions, or by other means.”

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales openly supports civil partnerships despite pointed rebukes from Pope Benedict.  ”Civil partnerships are precisely what they say they are. They’re not gay marriages or lesbian marriages. They’re simply a legal arrangement between two people so that they can pass on property and other rights in which they were discriminated against before,” said Bishop of Nottingham Malcolm McMahon earlier this year.  His view was supported recently by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales who said “We did not oppose gay civil partnerships. We recognized that in English law there might be a case for those.”

Despite many statements to the contrary, the Catholic Church clearly doesn’t believe that civil unions and domestic partnerships are intrinsic threats to heterosexual-only marriages or they would be fighting them hard at every turn rather than quietly ducking the issue (Washington) or outright endorsing civil unions (New Jersey, Maine and United Kingdom).  Call it pragmatism, call it moral relativism, either way the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t always practice what it preaches on the “assault to the sacrament” that allegedly is civil unions.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Hetero-only military is a ‘moral sensibility’. Except, ya know — for the moral or sensible parts

Focus on the Family sends early Thanksgiving wishes to fair-minded Americans everywhere:

It’s a shame that our nation’s armed services are being used as a social experiment that will likely have unintended, harmful consequences and 6A00D8341C503453Ef012877597C29970Cendanger the religious freedoms of chaplains and military personnel,” Hausknecht said. “In the administration’s rush to appease gay activists, it is endangering unit cohesion, recruitment and re-enlistments, not to mention offending the moral sensibilities of most Americans.”

-Bruce Hausknecht, Focus on the Family’s judicial analyst

Tomorrow, be sure to gauge your fellow Thanksgiving diners’ “moral sensibilities” as you all sit around and proudly celebrate gluttony (while recognizing a historical event that ultimately devolved into crude “us vs. them” divisions).




Good As You

—  admin

‘Fierce advocate’ fetes ‘moral titan’

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 7, 2010

Statement by the President on the Retirement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

It is with deep appreciation that I note Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s retirement from public life today on the occasion of his 79th birthday. This event invites us to celebrate his many accomplishments from which we have all benefited. For decades he has been a moral titan—a voice of principle, an unrelenting champion of justice, and a dedicated peacemaker. He played a pivotal role in his country’s struggle against apartheid and extraordinary example of pursuing a path to forgiveness and reconciliation in the new South Africa. He has also been an outspoken voice for freedom and justice in countries across the globe; a staunch defender of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; and an advocate for treatment and prevention programs to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. We will miss his insight and his activism, but will continue to learn from his example. We wish the Archbishop and his family happiness in the years ahead.

###

Ooh, you know what would be a great retirement gift, White House? Your full and unqualified support for marriage equality, to bookend the support that ArchBishop Tutu has offered up for some time now!




Good As You

—  John Wright

Newsweek on Obama’s ‘moral cowardice’; NYT on House Dems running scared

The headline of Jacob Weisberg’s column continues: “The president needs to find his principles.”

It is one of the more scathic indictments of the Obama administration — and the President himself that I’ve seen in a while. It touches on many issues, including immigration and marriage equality.

Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.

With the Proposition 8 fight, Obama has fallen short in a different way, by his reluctance to join an emerging social consensus. Obama had previously criticized California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, as “divisive.” But his official position-which no one believes he actually holds-is that he is against legalizing gay marriage. Americans are changing their views on this issue with inspiring rapidity. Judge Vaughn Walker’s moving opinion provided an occasion for Obama to embrace the extension of equal rights to gay people. Instead, he slunk mumbling in the other direction. How dismal that America’s first black president will be remembered as shirking the last great civil-rights struggle.

Few would argue that defending liberal principle serves Obama’s short-term interests. Americans oppose the mosque 61 percent to 26 percent, according to one recent poll, and support the Arizona law by an even wider margin. But even if some people don’t like Islam, or illegal immigrants, or gay weddings, they may respond to admonitions that our society is built around freedom of conscience and equal treatment under law. If he applied his oratorical gifts to these principles, Obama could remind a grumbling nation what it liked about him in the first place.

Weisberg may be overly optimistic about how responsive some Americans to logic or appeal to equal treatment under the law. It didn’t help with Prop 8. And I really doubt that appeal with work for immigration. The nativism awakened with that and the “9/11 Mosque” shows just how much our nation is in moral distress.

He also takes the position is that the President’s inability to weigh in with sufficient fervor has allowed the right wing noise machine to flourish – and put the WH on the defensive. After all, look at how it drops everything (including political common sense) to respond to Glenn Beck when he opens his mouth. The response is to ensure America that the President prays every day and is a good Christian.

This is a WH that chooses to be weak and respond with political pablum to challenges. That was not the Barack Obama that was on the campaign trail, and certainly not the same man who asked to be challenged if he was dropping the ball. There in lies the problem when you have a WH and President beholden to the charges of the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the “papers, please” supporters, rather than the people who put in money, time and votes to get him into office.

***

Meanwhile, take a look at this NYT article – Democrats Plan Political Triage to Retain House. The meat of the story here is the begging for $$$ — watch for more ploys to tap the gAyTM touting that long list of padded “accomplishments” as the desperation mounts. What it boils down to is “it’s the economy, stupid.” The jobs have no materialized in some of the hardest-hit areas of the nation. People are angry, and sadly, only a couple of years after over a decade or GOP economics, some are ready to revisit that disaster again.

“We are going to have to win these races one by one,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceding that the party would ultimately cut loose members who had not gained ground.

… A sputtering economy and discontent with Washington have created a high sense of voter unease that has also put control of the Senate in question.

To hold the line against Republicans, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued an urgent plea for members in safe districts to help their endangered colleagues by contributing money. She called out Democrats who were delinquent on paying their party dues and instructed members with no re-election worries to tap into a combined 8 million from their campaign accounts to help save their majority.

“We need to know your commitment,” Ms. Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter, demanding that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help. She added, “The day after the election, we do not want to have any regrets.”

As always, give time, effort and money to the individual pols who support issues important to you. No DINOs. No homophobes. No self-loathing closet cases. No more.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Newsweek on ‘Obama’s Moral Cowardice’

Jacob Weisberg thinks Obama “needs to find his principles”:

Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.

This is Weisberg’s take on Obama’s and Prop. 8:

With the Proposition 8 fight, Obama has fallen short in a different way, by his reluctance to join an emerging social consensus. Obama had previously criticized California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, as “divisive.” But his official position—which no one believes he actually holds—is that he is against legalizing gay marriage. Americans are changing their views on this issue with inspiring rapidity. Judge Vaughn Walker’s moving opinion provided an occasion for Obama to embrace the extension of equal rights to gay people. Instead, he slunk mumbling in the other direction. How dismal that America’s first black president will be remembered as shirking the last great civil-rights struggle.

The White House hears these criticisms all the time. Apparently, they’re ignored. What do the rest of us know? As we’ve learned, Team Obama has the smartest political and communications people in the world. That’s why they’re doing so well in the polls. Takes real geniuses to destroy the vaunted Obama “brand” and to bring him from 70% approval to the low 40s.

H/T Steve H.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright