Monday, May 31, 2010

Thankful

This holiday, Memorial Day, was a day called Decoration Day, when people would decorate the tombstones of veterans.

To all those veterans in my family, and yours, we honor you. You make what we are discussing in this nation about freedom and equality for all possible.

Pace!

B

In NM and Beyond

Going off to be silent for a few days at Christ in the Desert Monastery...a Benedictine retreat center/monastery near Abiquiu, NM. I am eager to go and be silent in a restful place.

Working on DIVINITY, and need time to rest before I take on the challenge of my life...or latest challenge.

Pace!

Brett

Friday, May 28, 2010

234-194: House Passes Repeal of DADT

It's news all over the blogs, from msnbc.com, to andrewsullivan.com, towleroad.com to queerty.com: House passes repeal of DADT, 234-194.

I watched some of the talks on CSPAN. It was very hard to listen to some of the speeches: Rep. Buck McKeon, R of CA, was especially challenging to listen to. You would think that the open admission of LGBTQ people would bring down the military services. And the people who vote against ordination of LGBTQ people are often military leaders who would vote against repealing DADT.

There is a connection!

But the war is not over. Just one battle...to use military language. On to the U.S. Senate, where it will all be ugly again. And Sen. McCain is not being pretty about this at all.

Pace!

B

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I can't express the insurmountable stress it causes to have to hide a piece of who I am

I found this blog entry on andrewsullivan.com by a person currently serving her country:

For those saying that gays shouldn't be allowed in the military, the news flash is that we currently do and are allowed to. Under the current policy, no one is allowed to accuse us without evidential proof nor ask us questions about our sexuality. I am also not able to talk about my relationships as others are free to discuss their husbands/wives/girl/boyfriends. Could you heterosexuals imagine not being able to say anything about your partner? What if the policy said no one discusses their relationships, period? I bet the suicide rate would skyrocket. Don't discuss your wife's new attitude or husband's infidelity. Don't talk about your girlfriend getting pregnant or boyfriend proposing. Imagine going throughout your entire career not being able to discuss your relationships and not being able to bring your loved one to any military function. I bet you couldn't.
It's easy to say the policy should stay the way it is when you don't have to live it.


P.S. Besides me, I know quite a few Soldiers who are gay and you wouldn't know it. In my unit alone, two live in the barracks (1male/1female), and have heterosexual roommates that know and don't care.

It is time to change, or : Repeal-D.A.D.T. Now!

Pace!

B

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learning from Our Neighbors in Overturning DADT and What Happens Next

Let's see...England, Spain, and Israel: are those not three countries that have successfully integrated their military services with LGBTQ personnel?

How about Norway? Sweden? Ireland?

There are plenty of countries who have successfully integrated their military services.

We do not need to take any longer in trying to re-create the wheel. The wheel already exists. Integration of military services already exists.

Just move forward.

Now.

Today.

Pace!

B

The Repeal of DADT: Slower Death Than First Thought

Don't call hospice yet...the death of DADT is going to take more time than first eluded to yesterday.

Here's the skinny from nyt.com:

Under the deal, reached Monday night by Democratic leaders and approved by the White House, Congress would vote on repeal in the next few weeks through an amendment to the Pentagon budget bill. The amendment says that the repeal would take place only after the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that it is consistent with military standards. At a minimum, that would extend the current law until Dec. 1, when the Pentagon study is due.

Got it?

So the earliest this thing could die is by Dec. 1, 2010.

Maybe.

Depending on what Sec. Gates says.

And he is reluctant to cast it off.

Herein lies the wrinkle(s):

There are also several issues that need to be resolved during the study period regarding the implementation of the new policy, mostly involving benefits for same-sex partners of gay and lesbian service members. Because the Defense of Marriage Act does not allow federal spousal benefits for married same-sex couples, the military will have to work out ways to provide equivalent benefits to domestic partners.

These include issues of housing and foreign relocation, the ability to shop on a base and insurance benefits. At the moment, same-sex partners are often not even notified if a soldier dies or is wounded, and they need to be assured the military will honor their right to receive the memorial flag if their partner or spouse is killed in the service of this country. The study should deal with how to make the repeal happen, not whether to do so. While it is being prepared, the military must live up to its word that it has stopped drumming out openly gay and lesbian soldiers.

Repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law does not automatically ensure that gay men and lesbians can serve openly. It simply takes the situation back to when the military set the policy on its gay members, before Congress gave it the force of law in 1993. Once it has the power to do so, the Obama administration says it will end the previous policy that homosexuality was not compatible with military service.

I was aghast that same sex loved ones would not necessarily receive the flag at a funeral, or be notified about one's death on the battlefield.

Really?

But if I ask "Why would anyone get mixed up in something so crazy like this?" then I have to answer why I am part of a community that rejects me for simply being gay...right?

Crazy is as crazy does.

Repeal DADT ASAP...

Pace!

B

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Slow Death of DADT

Reading the accounts of the repeal of DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) that is moving through Congress and now being advanced by the Pentagon and White House feels like this is going to be a slow dying process after all, and not a quick repeal.

From Huffingtonpost.com:

"The proposed amendment will allow for completion of the comprehensive review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the of the repeal is consistent with standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention," budget chief Peter Orszag wrote in identical evening letters to Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Michigan Sen. Carl Levin – the Democrats leading the push for repeal

Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, was expected to introduce the legislative proposal on Tuesday. Gay rights groups urged a quick vote, which could come as early as Thursday.

Sec. Gates has said elsewhere that it took 5 years to implement the integration of the military services after the executive order of 1948.

Ready to sing Kum Ba Yah?

Pace!

B

Monday, May 24, 2010

E.J. Dione Gets It: Re-Discovering and Re-Claiming Family Values for ALL

E.J. Dione had this interesting essay/oped in light of now former-Representative Souder's error in judgment: having an affair with a staff member while preaching family values and even making a video tape on abstinence with the staff member.

Dione had an interesting insight into a "one size fits all" in terms of family values:

Why does it even have to be said that a devotion to family has nothing to do with ideology? In my very liberal Maryland neighborhood -- my precinct voted 80 percent for Barack Obama -- parents crowd school meetings, flock to their kids' sporting events, help them with homework and teach them right from wrong on the basis of values that I doubt differ all that much from those prevailing in more conservative environs. And while a lot of my neighbors are active in their religious congregations, the secular parents take their family responsibilities as seriously as the believers do.

And those of us who are liberal would insist that our support for the rights of gays and lesbians grows from our sense of what family values demand. How can being pro-family possibly mean holding in contempt our homosexual relatives, neighbors and friends? How much sense does it make to preach fidelity and commitment and then deny marriage to those whose sexual orientation is different from our own? Rights for gays and lesbians don't wreck heterosexual families. Heterosexuals are doing a fine job of this on their own.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." It's a scriptural passage that no doubt appeals to Mark Souder. But it would be lovely if conservative Christians remembered Jesus' words not only when needing a lifeline but also when they are tempted to give speeches or send out mailers excoriating their political foes as permissive anti-family libertines. How many more scandals will it take for people who call themselves Christian to rediscover the virtues of humility and solidarity?

This is from the Washington Post today.

Pace!

B

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Harvey Milk Day


Today in CA, along with 20 other states, this is Harvey Milk Day. It is a day in which we remember and embrace the words, "Give 'em hope."

This from huffingtonpost.com:

SAN FRANCISCO � Presidential Medal of Freedom? Got that. A place in the California Hall of Fame and Sean Penn playing you on-screen? Those, too.

Now, Harvey Milk has a holiday of sorts to call his own. California will observe its first day of "special significance" Saturday honoring the slain gay rights leader on what would have been his 80th birthday.

It took two legislative tries and the 2008 movie "Milk" to help persuade Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill last fall establishing May 22 as Harvey Milk Day. Memorial events are planned in 20 other states.

The California measure does not close state offices as an official holiday would but does encourages public schools to conduct activities commemorating the first openly gay man elected to public office in a major U.S. city.

Happy Harvey Milk Day!

Pace!

B

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Malawi Gay Couple Convicted

Heroes are born every once in a great while.

In Malawi, heroes came into focus recently. Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the Malawi gay couple jailed since December for holding a public engagement ceremony, are heroes. They did the unthinkable in Malawi: they expressed their love for one another by wedding one another.

They are heroes.

According to the Associated Press, “Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the sentencing will take place on Thursday. The couple could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.”

Malawi is one of nearly 40 African countries where homosexuality is illegal.

Monjeza, 26, and Chimbalanga, 20, may be able to appeal, but the likelihood of success appears slim.

It is time to change.

Pace!

B

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celebration in the Episcopal Church


From Associated Press and huffingtonpost.com, celebration today in the Episcopal Church:

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Seven years after the Episcopal Church caused an uproar by consecrating its first openly gay bishop, it has done the same thing again – only this time with a woman.

The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, of Baltimore, was ordained and consecrated on Saturday, making her the second openly gay bishop in church history and one of the first two female bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles' 114-year history.

She was installed at Long Beach Arena before 3,000 people, who burst into applause at the end, church spokesman Bob Williams said.

Just before the ceremony began, a man stood, shouted about the need to repent and held up a sign that read "Do not be deceived, homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Now, the next step: not having to highlight it is a woman, who happens to be a lesbian, who is ordained and consecrated as a bishop.

Pace!

B

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pope is Wrong: Against Equal Rights for Marriage

There are times that the Pope comes out and says dangerous things. As he tries to take the world's mind off of the sexual abuse scandals of the Church--which are ongoing--he attacks abortion, divorce, and "same sex marriage." Why? Well, why not?

The Pope's argument:

Benedict told the gathering of lay Catholics that he appreciated their efforts fighting abortion and promoting the family based on the "indissoluble marriage between a man and woman" – the Vatican's way of expressing its opposition to divorce and same-sex unions.

Such initiatives "help respond to some of the most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good today," he said. "Alongside numerous other forms of commitment, such initiatives represent essential elements in the building of the civilization of love."

We who prefer to wed would also ask that the Catholic Church focus on the problems within its house, like sexual abuse. And if you are going to focus on us and same sex marriage, then realize we are truly seeking to build a "civilization of love" too.

Oh, and while you are at it, Pope Benedict: ordain women to the priesthood, and allow your priests to marry--outwardly and not in secret or strange arrangement with disaffected Anglicans.

Best,

Brett

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Modern Family, a Kiss, and the "Ick" Factor


There is much in the entertainment news regarding the missing kiss between the two gay character on ABC's "Modern Family." The hetero couple Claire and Phil kiss at the airport, but Cameron and Mitchell hug.

So a campaign has begun for a kiss between the two.

They do kiss on ABC's "Brothers and Sisters," don't they?

Click here for more.

Why the hesitancy?

Because of the "ick" factor: the idea of two men kissing in this society may lead to sex, while the idea of two women kissing in public is more permissible, especially among many heterosexual men.

"Ick" and "Yuck" factors matter in this largely heterosexual culture.

I say: kiss and be kissed!

The world needs more kissing.

Pace!

B

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Hope from Hope College

As reported in towleroad.com, there is little joy from Hope College in re: to changing its policy re: LGBTQ issues. When Lance Black--screenwriter of "Milk"--was not allowed to be on-campus to discuss the film "Milk" after a viewing of "Milk," because of the policy of the College, there was an uprising of faculty and alumni/ae. But the Board of Trustees has stood pat on its anti-LGBTQI status:

The board of trustees didn’t allow a representative of the alumni group to be present or observe its meeting. Finishing its meeting Friday afternoon, the board released a written statement describing its decision and offering an explanation:

“The college’s current position on homosexuality is based on its interpretation of scripture. It is recognized that well-intentioned Christians may disagree on scriptural interpretation. Still, humbly and respectfully, the college aligns itself in its interpretation with its founding denomination, the Reformed Church in America, the orthodox Christian Church throughout the ages, and other Christian colleges and universities.”

As a part of its action, the board created a trustee committee to “expand the college’s 1995 position statement in the larger context of all human sexuality.”

Ron Wiegerink, a 1961 Hope alum who had signed the alumni petition, said he was disappointed by the board.

“We were very disappointed they did not allow Don Lubbers, our spokesman, to present our petition, he said. “We’re disappointed in the decision that was made. We’re disappointed in the brevity of the statement and that there was no procedure described.”

And how exactly were they interpreting which Scriptures?

And if they were honing in on a literal interpretation, an inerrant view of Scripture, how does that hold with Reformed theology, where God is forming and always forming? And do women graduate from Hope College into roles of leadership and responsibilities among and over men? Do women wear gold? Do they worship with men?

Sigh..

Regressive.

For Hope Colleges, as is true for all institutions, who is on the Board of Trustees or Directors matters.

Pace!

B

A Sweet Couple

Found this on nyt.com under "Weddings and Celebrations." I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, reading this section in the nyt.com, looking to see if there are any of "us" on this very heterosexual site.

Here is this Sunday's lucky couple, an art gallery owner and former policeman: sweet!

Alan Bennett Ilagan and Andrew Van Wagenen were married Friday in Boston. The ceremony in the Boston Public Garden was led by Christopher J. Vaeth, a friend of the couple’s, who received permission from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to officiate at the event.

Mr. Ilagan (left), 34, is a personnel administrator for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany. He is also the manager of the Romaine Brooks Gallery, the art gallery at the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Center, also in Albany. He graduated from Brandeis.

He is a son of Laurel Mitchell Ilagan and Dr. Emiliano Alisuag Ilagan of Amsterdam, N.Y. His mother retired as an associate professor of nursing at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, N.Y. His father, a retired anesthesiologist, was a partner in Mohawk Valley Anesthesia, a group practice in Amsterdam.

Mr. Van Wagenen, 47, retired as a police officer in Guilderland, N.Y.

He is a son of Thomas Tygert Van Wagenen Jr. of Guilderland and the late Katherine Francis Van Wagenen. His father retired as the superintendent of the Department of Water and Wastewater Management for the Town of Guilderland.

Mazel Tov to the young couple.

Pace!

B

Friday, May 7, 2010

Employment Discrimination By Any Other Name

Dr. Jodi O'Brien, a sociology professor at Seattle University--which is a Catholic institution--was offered the position of Dean at Marquette, and then the offer was rescinded.

And Dr. O'Brien is playing to the court of public opinion in decrying this injustice.

From Huffingtonpost.com:

After offering Seattle University sociology professor Jodi O'Brien a dean position at the school, Marquette University has rescinded the offer -- and some are saying it's because O'Brien is gay.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nancy Pat Pfeil, a spokeswoman for the Jesuit college, said that the job offer cancellation was due in part to some of O'Brien's published work "relating to Catholic mission and identity."

In a statement from the school, Pfeil said that the college decided O'Brien was not an "acceptable candidate for permanent appointment."

Reached by email by the Sentinel, O'Brien said she was "stunned and disappointed."

Marquette professor Nancy E. Snow claims that O'Brien's appointment may have upset donors and the situation is "all about [O'Brien's] sexual orientation."

Since Marquette is a private religious institution--even though it undoubtedly receives federal funds--it can practice such discrimination and get away with it. There is no employment non-discrimination act that protects those of us who are LGBTQI on a federal or state level.

Nothing.

We who are LGBTQI can be discriminated against, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Nothing.

Oh, we can kick and scream, play to the court of public opinion, but there is nothing we can do legally.

We are, after all, in the eyes of the law, second class citizens.

It is employment discrimination.

Based on sexual orientation.

It is wrong.

It is also the law of the land.

Change, anyone?

Pace!

B

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brazilian Archbishop Gring Does Not Understand Modern Sexuality

I found this on both usatoday.com and andrewsullivan.com, spoken from Archbishop Gring of Brazil:

We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls," he said. "If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?"

Grings also said the acceptance of homosexuality in society could pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia.

"When sexuality is trivialized, it's clear that this is going to affect all cases. Homosexuality is such a case. Before, the homosexual wasn't spoken of. He was discriminated against.

"When we begin to say they have rights, rights to demonstrate publicly, pretty soon, we'll find the rights of pedophiles," he said.

This is so incredibly sad to read.

Archbishop Gring is wrong.

Enough said.

Pace!

B

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ron Kirkland, GOP Hopeful in TN, is Vile

Ron Kirkland, a hopeful GOP candidate for the US House of Representatives, is a vile man, because he is saying vile things.

Kirkland suggests that in Viet Nam--where he served--"gays were taken care of," and he didn't mean or insinuate in a good way.

This is a vile statement from a vile man.

From huffingtonpost.com:

Kirkland's candid remarks came at a Tea Party forum last week when the GOP hopeful criticized the Obama administration's support for overturning the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Conservative House candidate Randy Smith offered a similar reaction to the measure at the event when he declared he "wouldn't want to share a shower with a homosexual."

In today's NYT.com, there is an essay by Roger Cohen about Nazi Germany, and a couple who sent postcards out to the world to let the world know about the vileness of the Nazis. The couple are soon caught and decapitated, but not before they let the world know what Hitler was doing.

I found Cohen incredibly insightful in this essay, writing about the vileness of Nazi Germany. At one point, the person who sent out the postcards, Otto Quangel, has been captured. What drives him? From the article:

Quangel tries to explain: “If one man sees he has no option but to fight, then he will fight, whether he has others on his side or not.”

Escherich (a Nazi guard), whose Gestapo boss likes to humiliate him, seems unmoved — until he sees the Obergruppenf├╝hrer and other officers torturing Quangel by smashing their schnapps glasses on his head and something snaps. He puts a pistol to his head with the parting words: “I’m your only disciple, Otto Quangel.”

That may be literally so. The postcards were almost all handed in to the police by terrorized Berliners. But humanity is Quangel’s disciple. For the “preposterous comedy” continues here and there and terror still poses the existential dilemma: decency and its (mortal) dangers or conformity and its comforts?

Quoting Hannah Arendt, Cohen writes: As Hannah Arendt once observed: “Under conditions of terror, most people will comply but some people will not. ... Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”

One of the lessons of Nazi Germany is that there were too many people who were compliant with terror. That is still true today.

Click here for the essay.

I am a human being who is not being quiet about the vileness of Kirkland.

What Kirkland and others say is vile. It must stop. Now.

Pace!

B

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chely Wright: Country Music Star Comes Out!

"People" magazine and Advocate.com report that Chely Wright of country music fame has come out of her closet:

From "People":

Wright tells People she's gay and that nothing in her life has been more magical than the moment she decided to reveal her sexuality.

The 39-year-old says she experienced a community in which homosexuality was shunned and she "hid everything" for her music.

Wright is releasing her memoir, "Like Me," and her new album, "Lifted Off the Ground," this week."

Cool!

Pace!

B