Do not censor religious right groups. Demand that they answer questions

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

I am in TOTAL disagreement with other lgbt activists (such as Dan Savage) who think that the news media shouldn't have religious right organizations on their shows on the grounds that their opinions are akin to those of the Ku Klux Klan.

It's not that I don't agree with the root part of this argument. Just like the Klan demonizes African-Americans based on ignorance, fear, and (in some extreme cases) religion, religious right groups do the same to the lgbt community.

But I think veteran newscaster Tom Brokaw put it best:

Asked how antigay views should be presented, he said, “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.”

That's the thing which as been solely missing from this controversy regarding the religious right and the lgbt community. No one in the lgbt community has issued a clear plan of attack. It has been a morass of words thrown around, such as “bigots” and “haters, and tangents devoted to the issue of gay marriage or sidetracked to the larger issue of condemnation  of the Christian religion.

And in the middle of  this complicated muddle, religious right groups zero in on one issue, i.e. censorship, and begin to control the debate.

This issue is not about gay marriage per se, nor is it about condemnation of religion. It's about the intentional propagation of falsehoods and junk science in order to smear a group of people.

Therefore demanding that the news media keep people like Tony Perkins or groups like the Family Research Council off television is extremely counterproductive. It gives the inaccurate notion that somehow their ideas are so truthful that the lgbt community is fearful of letting them be heard.

 

Instead, we need to demand that certain questions be asked. For example:

“Mr Perkins, why did your organization freely and unapologetically cite the work Paul Cameron, a discredited researcher who thinks that gay men stuff gerbils up their rectums?”


“Why do religious right groups continue to cite a 1997 study to claim that gays have a short lifespan when in 2001, the researchers of the study complained that you all were distorting their work?  To be more specific, why do religious right group ignore legitimate researchers who complain about how they distort their work?


“Mr. Perkins, why did your organization remove several anti-gay studies from your web page on the grounds that they used outdated studies? And this being the case, why did you cite those supposed “outdated” studies in works that do appear on your pages?”

Or even better, demand that the news media interview some of us on their shows when they have people like Perkins on. The lgbt community is a bit more intelligent and sophisticated than we were in the past in terms of calling attention to how religious right groups lie. We should be chomping at the bit to confront them on national television and making them spell out in exact terms why their distortions and junk science are accurate.

But instead of relishing the thought of a public feud, we seem to be backtracking from it or trying to sidestep it.

The lgbt community should take note of the recent hell President Obama has been getting from progressives about his need to compromise with the GOP. Just like it seems that President Obama has been reluctant to get into a war with the bullies of the GOP, the lgbt community seems to be reluctant to get into a needed fight with our bullies, i.e. the religious right.

But whereas as Obama tries to compromise with the GOP, the lgbt community seem to view the media as our parents and we run to them crying that they keep the big, bad bullies of the religious right from picking on us.

The media is not the parents of the lgbt community and it's not their job to stop the religious right from picking on us via their lies. It's our job to call them out and not just with words like “bigots,” but with demands that they either explain their propagation of lies (such as linking homosexuality to pedophilia or claiming that gays caused the Holocaust) or apologize for them.

But we can't do this adequately without calling them out.

Doesn't anyone think that it's time we started?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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NCLR: Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in California

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for Californians. This was updated on December 6, 2010. The FAQ is posted in full.


The Appeal – What’s Happening Now and What We Can Expect

On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker issued a decision in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger concluding that Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying, violates the United States Constitution. Judge Walker wrote a 136-page decision that analyzed all the evidence submitted in the three-week trial. Thumbnail Link: NCLR's 'Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in California'He ruled that Prop 8 violates the federal constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. The group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, known as the Prop 8 “proponents,” has appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral argument in the case on December 6, 2010.

1. My partner and I want to get married in California. Now that Judge Walker has ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, when/where/how can we do that?
Same-sex couples in California cannot yet marry because the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “stayed” Judge Walker’s ruling while the appeal is pending. That means that same-sex couples will not be able to get married in California until the appeals court has finished reviewing the case.

Same-sex couples can currently get married in five states in the U.S.: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as Washington, D.C. A number of other countries also allow same-sex couples to marry, including Canada.

Same-sex couples in California can also register as domestic partners, a status that provides most of the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage under state law.

[More below the fold.]

2. How long will the Ninth Circuit take to issue a decision?
The Ninth Circuit is not required to issue its decision within any particular time frame after oral argument, but when an appeal is expedited, the court tends to issue decisions more quickly. It will probably issue a decision within a few weeks or months.

Once the Ninth Circuit rules, the losing side can ask the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court can choose whether to take the case or to let the Ninth Circuit’s decision stand.

If the Supreme Court takes the case, it could take anywhere from a few months to a year to issue a decision. If the Supreme Court were to get the case sometime in 2011, the soonest we could expect a decision would probably be the spring of 2012.

3. Why is the appeal being heard by a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit? Will the whole Ninth Circuit ever hear the case?
It is typical for appeals to the Ninth Circuit to be heard by three-judge panels. That is the normal process. The three judges are randomly selected in each case.

After the three-judge panel rules, the losing party can request that a bigger panel of 11 judges review that decision. That is called “rehearing en banc.” All the active judges on the Ninth Circuit would then vote on that request, and rehearing en banc would only be granted if a majority of the Ninth Circuit judges approve it.

4. I’ve heard that there is a question about whether the Prop 8 proponents have “standing” to appeal Judge Walker’s decision. What does that mean and when will that question be decided?
“Standing” means whether a particular person or group has a legal right to appeal a court ruling. As a general rule, in order to have standing to appeal a decision, you must be able to show that you are harmed by it. In the Prop 8 case, Judge Walker said that the Prop 8 proponents may not have standing to appeal because they were not able to show that they would be personally harmed in any way if same-sex couples are permitted to marry.

The Ninth Circuit judges devoted half of the time at the December 6 oral argument to the issue of standing. If the panel decides that neither the Proponents of Prop 8 nor the County of Imperial, which unsuccessfully tried to intervene in the case, has standing to appeal, it will dismiss the appeal. In that event, Judge Walker’s ruling will stand and the State of California will be prohibited from enforcing Prop 8 anywhere in the state.

5. If the Ninth Circuit decides that the Prop 8 supporters don’t have standing to bring an appeal, would they be able to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court? Or does the case stop there?
If the Ninth Circuit rules that the Prop 8 proponents don’t have standing to bring an appeal, the proponents could ask the Supreme Court to review that decision. The Supreme Court could choose to hear that appeal or to let the Ninth Circuit’s decision stand.

The Effect the Ruling Will Have on Marriage Laws Across the Country

6. I live in a state other than California. Does Judge Walker’s decision mean that same-sex couples can now get married in every state? If not, would that be the result of a decision from the Ninth Circuit, or the Supreme Court?
Judge Walker’s decision is just about California, but other courts could apply his language and logic to other discriminatory marriage laws across the country.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over all the states in the Ninth Circuit, which include Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii. If the Ninth Circuit decides that Prop 8 violates the federal constitution, it could issue a broad ruling that that applies to all of the states in the Ninth Circuit or it could issue a narrower ruling that only applies to California.

Similarly, if the Supreme Court decides that Prop 8 violates the federal constitution, it could strike down all state marriage bans across the country or it could focus only on Prop 8.

7. If Prop 8 is eventually struck down for good by the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court, and a same-sex couple gets married in California, will that marriage be recognized in other states or by the federal government?
A victory in the Prop 8 case will not automatically require other states or the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who marry in California. Right now, at least seven states and the District of Columbia recognize marriages between same-sex couples. Those states include the five states that permit same-sex couples to marry: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as Washington, D.C. In addition, New York and Maryland do not permit same-sex couples to marry within their borders, but they recognize marriages from other places. Unfortunately, many other states deny recognition to marriages between same-sex couples.

The federal government currently doesn’t recognize any marriages between same-sex couples due to the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Legal challenges to DOMA, brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and the ACLU, are underway in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. In the Massachusetts case, a federal district court ruled in July 2010 that the part of DOMA prohibiting the federal government from recognizing valid marriages of same-sex couples is unconstitutional. That decision has been stayed (i.e., put on hold) pending an appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

8. If the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court ultimately rules that Prop 8 is constitutional, what will that mean for the fight for marriage equality in California? Will it be over for good?
The fight for marriage equality in California will still go on, even if Judge Walker’s decision is overturned on appeal. Prop 8 can always be repealed by another ballot initiative – and in fact, efforts in support of a repeal measure are currently underway. Contact Equality California to find out how you can get involved: www.EQCA.org.

9. What will be the effect on other states if the Supreme Court rules that Prop 8 is constitutional? Will that mean that same-sex couples can no longer marry in states like Massachusetts?
Prop 8 is blatantly unconstitutional, and the United States Supreme Court should affirm Judge Walker’s decision striking it down. But even if the Supreme Court reverses Judge Walker’s decision and says that Prop 8 is valid, that would not take away equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in any states where it’s currently legal. State courts would still be free to strike down marriage bans under their state constitutions, just like the state supreme courts in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa have already done. And state legislatures (and Congress) would still be free to repeal marriage bans.

Current Marriage and Domestic Partnership Rights in California

10. My partner and I are registered as domestic partners with the state of California, but we want to get married as soon as it’s allowed. Will we need to dissolve our domestic partnership in order to marry?
You do not need to dissolve your domestic partnership in order to marry your domestic partner. Under California law, an individual can be married and in a registered domestic partnership at the same time, as long as it’s with the same person. As a practical matter, it is a good idea to do both to get the maximum legal protection.

11. We got married in California between June 16, 2008 and November 5, 2008. Is our marriage still recognized in California?
Yes. In 2009, in the case of Strauss v. Horton, the California Supreme Court held that it would be unconstitutional to take away the marriages of same-sex couples who married in California before Prop 8 passed. If you married in California during that period, your marriage is completely valid and entitled to full recognition and respect.

12. If my partner and I got married in another state or country before Prop 8 passed, does California recognize our marriage? Should we remarry in California when we can?
California fully recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples who married outside of California before Prop 8 passed (Nov. 5, 2008). If you married in another state or country before Nov. 5, 2008, you are entitled to full recognition as married under California law. There is no need to remarry in California.

For more details about the current rights of same-sex couples who get married outside of California, please see www.NCLRights.org/SB54FAQ.

13. If my partner and I got married in another state or country after Prop 8 passed, will California recognize our marriage? Should we remarry in California when we can?
Same-sex couples who marry outside California after November 5th, 2008 currently have all of the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage under California law except for the name “marriage.” That means the state of California will treat you as married, but it cannot officially recognize your marriage as a marriage.

If Judge Walker’s decision is upheld on appeal, same-sex couples who are already married will not need to remarry in California. Marriages between same-sex couples from other states or countries will be recognized as valid marriages in California, no matter when the couple got married.

For more details about the current rights of same-sex couples who get married outside of California, please see www.NCLRights.org/SB54FAQ

Winning Marriage Equality Across the Country

14. How can we help in the fight to win marriage equality in every state?
The only way we can ultimately win marriage equality across the entire country is to build public support for full inclusion and acceptance of our relationships and families. That will give legislators and courts the confidence they need to do the right thing and repeal or strike down discriminatory marriage laws. Polls show that around half of the public supports marriage equality, but we need to make that number higher. All of us can help make that happen by talking to everyone we know about why marriage equality is important to us.

To find out other ways you can get involved with the marriage equality fight in your state, contact your local LGBT-rights organization. You can find a listing of the statewide groups at www.EqualityFederation.org/template.aspx?id=502. For information about how to get involved in California, contact Equality California at www.EQCA.org.



For more information about your legal rights and how to protect your family, you can contact NCLR’s helpline anytime at www.NCLRights.org/GetHelp or call 415.392.6257 or toll-free 1.800.528.6257.

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Any questions?





AMERICAblog Gay

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If not church/state, could ‘pro-fams’ at least divorce drive to win from right to raise questions?

On September 3, Rev. Cary K. Gordon of Sioux City, Iowa’s Cornerstone World Outreach sent the following letter to fellow pastors in his area:

(zoom in at bottom)



CWO Letter

The whole gist of Mr. Gordon’s letter — beyond linking his political opposition to Hitler, of course — is to encourage pastors to in turn encourage their congregants to vote against the Iowa judges who joined the unanimous decision that removed gender discrimination from the state’s marriage laws. And since Mr. Gordon’s church and all of the other churches to whom he sent the letter are receiving tax exempt status, this kind of activity raises undeniable questions regarding its lawfulness.

So that’s where Americans United for Separation of Church and State steps in. That group has filed a complaint with the IRS, asking that the matter be looked into further:

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said the church’s campaign is a clear violation of federal tax law.

“I don’t think I have ever seen a more outrageous effort to politicize churches,” said Lynn. “This deplorable scheme seeks to turn houses of worship into dens of inequity and intolerance. I call on the IRS to move swiftly to put a stop to this outrage.

“It’s bad enough that the leaders of this church are using donations from the collection plate to fund a hardball political operation,” Lynn continued. “It’s even more appalling that they are doing so in a bigoted attempt to deny civil rights to a targeted minority. This is downright shameful.”

Iowa Church’s Election Campaign Against State Supreme Court Justices Merits IRS Investigation [AUFSOC&S]

Which is a completely fair move, regardless of where one stands on marriage equality, the upcoming retention vote, church, Hitler comparisons, or any of the other matters at hand. Because the law is concrete. And if a church is violating tax code for *any reason*, citizens have the right, nay, responsibility to raise questions. And we’d say the same exact thing if it were a pro-equality church engaging in questionable election activity.

Well, leave it to the “pro-family” side to once again shirk responsibility, abandon the opportunity to objectively weigh information, and turn their side into the unquestionably innocent victim. This report comes from Focus on the Family:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: Iowa Pastor Menaced for Political Speech [FoTF]

And of course there’s no mention of Gordon’s harsh rhetoric. No mention of the genuine concerns at hand. No talk about all church’s responsibility to make sure they are in accordance with the law. Instead, they talk about the supposed “attacks” being wage against the church, with it all coming down to “praying hard” for the matter to play out favorably for the pastor (again, with no regard for the facts regarding tax law).

Now, will the IRS ultimately side with Americans United for Separation of Church and State? Well, we don’t know. We haven’t dug in far enough to weigh in on how we view the church’s compliance with the law. But the breadth of the case doesn’t matter in terms of our objections. Because the issue here is the right of citizen groups to raise questions, the responsibility for all of us to act in accordance with law, the ethics that churches must follow in order to obtain financial privileges, the need for this nation to maintain fair election practices, and the duty to sometimes drop the merits we see in a particular political fight and instead consider the elements that exist independent of the cause. We are more than willing to do just that. In fact, we insist on doing that. But our opposition never does, which is a major reason why this nation’s so-called “culture war” is such a hot mess of deceptive, dumbed down discourse!




Good As You

—  John Wright

Fed DADT ruling ignored at Obama presser; taken no questions from LGBT media since election

How can front-page news like the federal court ruling that DADT is unconstitutional be completely ignored when the President held a conference in its wake? Easy, apparently, because no LGBT reporter was called on, and the rest of the press corps was asleep or willing to give the President at pass, and not take what would place Obama in a tough position for an answer.

Mediate noticed the omission and the political fallout and questions about this administration’s clear signal that it does not want any national attention brought to its treatment of LGBT media and issues.

While there are plenty of issues facing the White House, the lack of questions about DADT comes as some are noting that the Obama administration has ignored the gay and lesbian press generally and has avoided answering questions about DADT, same-sex marriage, and an employment non-discrimination bill that would protect employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition to no questions about the DADT ruling from last night, this was the first press conference since a court in California struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage based on constitutional grounds.

Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, tweeted after the press conference:

POTUS presser ending, no #dadt questions; Obama has yet to take a single question from #lgbt press since being elected.

Eleveld is the only full-time member of the White House press corps representing an LGBT press outfit and she often asks questions of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, but she’s never gotten a question to Obama. Obama has yet to offer an interview with the LGBT press during his administration.

Other constituency media were called on — black and Latino outlets, as well as Haaretz (Middle East issues) and AURN (poverty)– indicates those issues are safe to answer, yet DADT is a top story on air and in print is ignored.

That underscores this White House’s disdain for engaging LGBT issues, in this case a national security issue involving the discharge of otherwise trained and qualified individuals because of their sexual orientation.

And Kerry Eleveld’s point that the President hasn’t taken a question or sat down for an interview since he was elected is damning, given he’s done so for every other constituency in the fold. Mediaite references the WH meeting that PHB attended with other LGBT outlets not long ago, as “one of a kind.” At that meeting I actually told Barnes about the fact that the President has avoided LGBT media and she acted surprised.

No interview opportunity has arisen since that meeting. They can’t feign ignorance. We cannot ignore that we are political pariahs to this White House, but we aren’t untouchables when they come knocking at the gAyTM. If the WH cannot even stand a question about DADT repeal or unconstitutionality – and repeal has broad public support – we’re up sh*ts creek for the DOMA cases winding their way toward his DOJ.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Common App Considers Broadening Gender Questions

The Common Application, an organization that facilitates part of the
admissions process for more than 400 colleges and universities, may open
broaden its demographic information to include more than just biological
sex.
Daily News

—  John Wright

Lysacek Questions Weir’s Manhood?

A twitter follower asked figure skater Evan Lysacek whether his
colleague Johnny Weir was “really a guy?”
Daily News

—  John Wright

DART accused of transphobia

Judge reversed order after transit agency fought longtime employee’s gender-marker change last year

John Wright | News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

TRANS FRIENDLY? | Judge Lynn Cherry, right, is shown alongside drag performer Chanel during Stonewall Democrats’ 2008 holiday party at the Round-Up Saloon. A few months later, Cherry ruled against a transgender DART employee and overturned a gender-marker change. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.

As Dallas Voice reported last week, many Dallas County judges have been routinely granting gender-marker changes to transgender people who meet set criteria — including documentation from licensed medical personnel — since the Democratic sweep of 2006.

The DART employee, who’s name is being withheld to protect her anonymity, later presented the court order to the transit agency’s human resources department and requested that her personnel records be changed to reflect her new gender.

But DART’s attorneys objected to the gender-marker change and responded by filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court. DART’s objections prompted 301st Family District Court Judge Lynn Cherry to reverse her order granting the gender-marker change.

“Where does this stop when an employer can start interfering with your personal life and family law decisions?” said longtime local transgender activist Pamela Curry, a friend of the DART employee who brought the case to the attention of Dallas Voice. “She was devastated. This should be a serious concern to a lot of people — everybody — and I just think this story needs to be told.”

Judge Cherry, who received Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ Pink Pump Award for her support of the group last year, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment this week.

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART, noted that Cherry reversed her order before the agency actually filed its motion for a rehearing. However, Curry alleges that DART’s attorneys met with Cherry privately and pressured her into reversing the order.

As is common with gender-marker changes, the case file has been sealed, but Dallas Voice obtained copies of some of the court documents from Curry.

In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.

“It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.”

Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. The agency, which is governed by representatives from Dallas and numerous suburbs, also doesn’t offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Lyons didn’t respond to other allegations made by Curry, including that the agency has fought the employee’s transition from male to female at every step of the way.

Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.

The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.

The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.

Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.

“She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”

Elaine Mosher, a Dallas attorney who’s familiar with the case, also questioned why DART intervened. Mosher didn’t represent the employee in the case but has handled gender-marker changes for other clients.

Mosher said the employee’s gender doesn’t have any bearing on her ability to do her job at DART.

“My argument in any gender marker matter is, the birth certificate was wrong, that’s why they had to go through the transition surgery, in essence to put them in the correct gender,” Mosher said. “All I can tell you is that it seems strange to me that DART would care one way or another what the gender marker of anybody that works for them is.”

Moster added that she believes someone at DART may have been “freaked out” by the employee’s transition from male to female and developed a “vendetta” against her.

“I wish I had a good explanation for why [DART got involved] other than the fact that I know there are people out there who are utterly blind and prejudiced for no other reason than they are,” Mosher said. “I compare it to some of the nonsense African-Americans had to live through in the ’60s.”

Mosher also said she’s “very surprised” that Cherry reversed the order granting the gender marker change.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said she’s heard “bits and pieces” of the story but isn’t sure of all the facts.

Moore said in response to her questions about the case, Cherry told her she couldn’t talk about it because it’s still within the timeframe for a possible appeal.

“Lynn is a longtime supporter of Stonewall and I would think she would be fair in the case,” Moore said. “I’m confident she’s an ally to this community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.

—  admin