Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 13, 2010

Five ways to talk to the religious right about marriage

This post was inspired by Five Ways To Talk To The Left About Same-Sex Marriage, by Eric Pavlat, and the discussion thread that followed.

The “religious right” in this instance may be Catholic or Evangelical or Baptist… as I noted to Pavlat in his post, “the left” in his definition would include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The post which led me to Pavlat’s had already used the title Five Ways To Talk to the Other Side About Same-sex Marriage, or I might have used that.

1. Bear in mind that pretty much everything these people know about homosexuality or transgender identity is wrong.

If you want to know the kind of stuff they’ve been told is The Truth About Homosexuality, the Friendly Atheist blog recently paid for two people to attend an AFTAH event and hear the kind of stuff being said and write an outline of it post-event: but for example: Pride events are portrayed as public orgies in which people have “dangerous sex” right on the street. (This is the kind of thing that would only make sense to people who have not only never attended a Pride rally or march as participant, but also have never had one held in their home town.) And being gay or lesbian is “caused” by having been molested by an older gay or lesbian person: for a more detailed account of how this kind of unspeakably cruel lie is promoted to the homophobic parents of LGBT children, see Love Won Out.

Also, right at the start: in eleven countries round the world same-sex couples can already marry: in about twenty more same-sex couples can register a civil union with rights equivalent to marriage: and in none of them has the freedom to marry led to any of the awful consequences which the anti-marriage activists evoke.

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March 2, 2010

Catholic Charities reminds employees that promoting homophobia more important than caring for the sick

CEO of Catholic Charities to staff: “I am writing to you to inform you of an important change to our group health care benefit plan that will take effect on March 2, 2010 due to a change in the law of the District of Columbia. It is important to note that the existing health coverage of current employees will not be affected by the change. New employees and current employees requesting revisions in benefit coverage will be affected by this change.” – Letter from Catholic Charities president and CEO to staff

Because same-sex couples will be able to get married, and because Catholic Charities are not allowed to offer health care coverage to spouses in mixed-sex marriages only, they have the choice of denying health care to all spouses who become eligible to join the plan after 2nd March – which will bar all couples in same-sex marriages, as they won’t be able to get married until after that date – or continue to offer health-care coverage to all spouses, even if that means some lurking closety gay spouse of an employee of Catholic Charities finds himself the recipient of health care that the Catholic Church believes he does not deserve.

Which are the two great precepts of Charity and the seven Corporal Works of Mercy?
1. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God hate gay people with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength’.
2. ‘Thou shalt love promote homophobia to thy neighbour as to thyself’.

1. To feed the hungry except for queers;
2. To give drink to the thirsty except for queers;
3. To clothe the naked except for queers;
4. To harbour the harbourless except for queers;
5. To care for the sick promote homophobia;
6. To visit the imprisoned except for queers;
7. To bury the dead except for queers.

This isn’t even their first-response reaction to finding out they’d have to act like they thought gay people deserved health care as much as straights do: on 17th February the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington formally announced that they believe promoting homophobia is more important than caring for children, too.

You have to wonder: how long can the Catholic Church go on promoting the idea that for Catholics homophobia is a core value which comes before everything else? Mormons got away with promoting the idea that racism is a core value for their faith for well over a century: does this mean Catholicism will be able to push homophobia as a required doctrine into the 2080s?

I hope not, but there is a positive side here: prior beliefs claimed by Catholics that corporeal works of mercy mattered led to Catholic charities becoming heavily involved in social services, with their own pro-lifer tweaks and biases helping to promote pro-life beliefs among the helpless. If the Catholic Church is now taking the position that promotion of homophobia comes before everything else, and therefore it must refuse to provide social services where it is not allowed to promote homophobia, maybe this will mean a gradual drawing away of the power of the Catholic Church to affect society negatively?

It’s ugly, though. There isn’t really an upside. The power of a strong Church determined that its followers shall promote bigotry as a core value of their faith is just… ugly.

December 16, 2009

Pro-life is what they call themselves, part 2

Catherina Lorena Cenzon-DeCarlo is an ER nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Or was. She’s suing her employers because they forced her to save a patient’s life by a means DeCarlo disapproved of.

A woman was brought into ER at Mount Sinai, 22 weeks pregnant, suffering from preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is the third leading pregnancy-related cause of death in the United States, after hemorrhage and embolism. Preeclampsia is the cause in an estimated 790 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. cite

The triage system at Mount Sinai’s ER figured there was a six-hour window to save this woman’s life. And, as this article in EMS Magazine makes clear in a shy kind of way:

If the patient is experiencing severe preeclampsia or eclampsia, consider rapid transport to an appropriate medical facility. The one definitive procedure to reverse preeclampsia or eclampsia is to deliver the baby and placenta. Thus, careful consideration must be given to transporting to a medical facility that is able to manage acute obstetric emergencies. cite

the only certain way to save a woman’s life if she’s suffering from severe preeclampsia is to perform an abortion.

The only person whose opinion matters in this case is the pregnant woman herself, or whoever she has granted her medical power of attorney: ER staff have the job of saving lives, and if the woman came in unconscious and without a decision-maker, it’s the medical staff’s responsibility to save her life by performing the abortion.

So what does this “pro-life” nurse do, asked to help save a woman’s life? She refuses, claiming (without any prior knowledge of the case: she first set eyes on the woman in the OR where the abortion was to be performed) that the preeclampsia isn’t advanced enough to warrant an emergency abortion. On being threatened with insubordination and patient abandonment for, well, being insubordinate and threatening to abandon a patient, DeCarlo went back and helped to save the woman’s life, under protest. (Apparently she wants everyone to know, this Nurse DeCarlo, that she was only willing to save the woman’s life after having been threatened with career-ending disciplinary procedures. Otherwise, she’d just have left the woman to die. But, if you threaten her career, under protest, she’s willing to help save a life. Nice.)

Pro-lifers by definition believe women (other women) are slaves, breeding animals, incubators: bodies to be used to generate babies, not entitled to full human rights. But even the owner of a breeding animal will agree to abort when continuing the pregnancy will kill: even the operator of a piece of machinery, a mere incubator, may take pride in the proper operation of a machine and ensure it is not “used till broken”. This kind of attitude, this belief that a pregnant woman can be left to die rather than save her life by performing an abortion: this is aggressive mistreatment of an enemy.

It is a horrid irony that these people call themselves “pro-life”.

December 11, 2009

This is what Republicans think of families

A lot of Republican politicians trade heavily on being “family values” politicians. By which they mean, they support a ban on same-sex couples marrying and a ban on the children of same-sex couples having two legal parents.

What they don’t mean by “family values” is any support for actual families, living together and supporting each other, caring for their children.

If you’ve ever talked to an anti-marriage activist, you generally find that while they’re willing to admit that same-sex couples exist, they are utterly unwilling to acknowledge that they have children: they are too busy carrying a big sign that says in large friendly lying letters that they want to PROTECT children, to think for a moment about the children their bans on marriage and adoption and their promotion of homophobia in schools are attacking. For them, those children are invisible, inaudible, unwanted problems who should never have been born. (About six months ago I had a depressing series of discussions with Renaissance Guy, one of the breed of right-wing “Christians” who hold it to be an essential tenet of their faith to promote legal discrimination against same-sex couples and their children: RG is far from the only such religionist to believe that homophobia is more central to Christianity than caring for children, he just runs a more open blog than most of his co-religionists.)

I’ve been convinced for years that homophobic, racist, and misogynistic bigotry are all growths from the same root, but I’ve been becoming more and more convinced recently that class discrimination is tied in with this too: see the post I wrote a year ago about the attitude that only wealthy families can have fine children (Persephone embraces Hades).

In the Seattle Times this week (Via, via) there’s a fresh example of children officially determined not to exist because of Republican policies.

On the face of it, a “family values” politician ought to have thought well of a woman like Rachel Porcaro: a single mom, granted, no husband around to help support her two kids, which must be one strike against her, but: She’d moved to live with her parents: she was working and taking care of her kids. A family: grandparents, mom, and kids.

But: Rachel Porcaro earned only $18,992 a year. In Seattle, that put her and her two sons below the poverty line. And, she got the “earned income tax credit” which is tax relief for the working poor. Republicans – those “family values” politicians – call that “welfare by the back door”. When the Republicans were in control of Congress, a head-of-family in receipt of earned income tax credit was more than twice as likely to get audited than the rest of the 140 million American taxpayers. Apparently the Republicans would prefer it if a woman like Rachel Porcaro was on welfare, rather than being a working single mom earning barely enough to get by on: tax audits are bitterly discouraging. Granted poor people may commit tax fraud as well as wealthy people, but auditing poor people more than wealthy people is a thoroughly backwards way of going about it – unless you care more for protecting the wealthy and penalizing the poor than you do about actually recovering money from tax cheats.

Not the end of the story, though. Rachel Porcaro’s children were declared non-children by the IRS. She was earning so little they decided she couldn’t claim them as tax dependents: and they disallowed any other claim because there weren’t enough receipts to prove she – or their grandparents – were keeping them in food and clothing.

Republicans claim they’re pro-family. Rightwing Christians claim they’ll vote Republican because they believe in protecting families and children. But these imaginary ideals somehow evaporate into poison gas when they’re faced with the real families, the actual children, directly and visibly harmed by right-wing policies and Republican politicians.

November 4, 2009

Bigots win in Maine

It’s beginning to look like a pattern: US legislatures agree there’s no point in legally enforcing bigotry by denying marriage to same-sex couples, and pass a law repealing the ban. Then homophobic bigots force a referendum, and a majority of Americans, asked if they believe in liberty and justice for all or if they want to deny rights to a minority… go for the bigoted option.

What is it about liberty, about justice, about equality, that so many Americans loathe so much? Why do so many Americans really believe that if a majority don’t want a minority to have the same equal rights as everyone else, the majority ought to get to deny it to them?

No doubt I will cool down about this later on. The homophobic bigots have more money and the power to shout louder: but they are also an ageing group. Opposition to the freedom to marry is a losing game: eventually the anti-Constitutional DOMA will be overthrown, by a Supreme Court decision even if there’s never a federal legislature with the guts to affirm the US Constitution in the face of the bigots who think it doesn’t apply to queers. Eventually: there are twenty-plus countries round the world who support the legal right for same-sex couples to wed. Homophobic Christians may proclaim all they like that they know their God hates queers and the law of the land ought to enforce their God’s will, but in a functional democracy theocratic law is eventually doomed. Eventually.

But it takes so long, and the cause of bigotry leads to so much human misery as it dies.

To the bloggers who rejoice today because they hate children and want them to be forcibly removed from their parents: well, there’s nothing worse I can wish you than your corrosive hate for children and their parents will do to your own mind.

July 7, 2009

Bigots or sociopaths?

Two people meet, fall in love, decide to get married, decide to have children together: what could be more humanly understandable?

Christians who oppose same-sex marriage or same-sex parents or who promote anti-gay discrimination in other ways, usually come across as inhuman, because they really appear not to understand what’s so very human.

“Lesbians and gays have equal rights – they can just get married to a person of the opposite sex, just like straight people do”

What this says, unpacked, is that your Christian advocate against same-sex marriage really believes that marriage isn’t anything to do with making a lifelong committment to the one person in the world whom you have chosen to love, honour, cherish and live with to the end of both your days – marriage is just a legal emotionless contract where anyone will do so long as they’re the right gender. This isn’t just unChristian – it’s inhuman. It’s sociopathic. The notion that people are interchangable – just pieces in a game where what matters is not the individual but the gender – is something completely off from normal humanity.

The usual argument brought forward to support opposition to same-sex marriage is that a same-sex couple “can’t have children”, which actually makes it even worse: marriage has now become a means merely of producing babies which are biologically the offspring of husband and wife, and any couple who aren’t biologically capable of producing babies together ought not to be allowed to get married. In this scenario, marriage has nothing to do with parenting children together, nothing to do with children growing up sheltered and protected by a loving and committed relationship – it’s purely and solely about biological fertility.

A same-sex couple can of course have children: either by AID or by surrogacy, or by adoption or fostering, or step-children from a previous marriage. These are ways in which mixed-sex couples have children too. But legally, while there are countries in which a spouse can divorce their wife or husband for being infertile, in practice it is only these anti-gay Christians who advocate that a couple ought to separate and find other partners if they can’t have children together and still wan them.

Arguments against same-sex marriage have, to my knowledge, included strong statements that a married couple ought not to expect love or passion – that marriage isn’t anything to do with the joy that two people may take in each other. This is an argument against the idea that a same-sex couple are justified in wanting to commit their lives to each other because they love each other. When it’s argued simply and directly as that it’s fairly plain bigotry – if a lesbian or gay person wants to be married and can’t fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, well, they should just marry without love. But when – as these advocates often try to do – it’s argued as if it were a general principle, that marriage isn’t about love, passion, or joy, it’s a legal protection for engendering children – this sounds horribly as if these people have themselves no other experience of marriage. They don’t argue for love in marriage because they don’t themselves feel love for their partner, nor can they imagine that other people do.

Are these people bigots, or sociopaths? Does it matter? Are they ill from the inability to love or even to imagine love, or are they just sick haters who cannot bear the idea of two men or two women who do love each other taking marriage vows to love, to honour, and to cherish each other lifelong?

The problem expands horrifyingly when these people talk about children – not merely when they try to come up with pseudo-scientific ideas about how two men or two women can’t parent children “properly” (no study or research backs this idea, it comes directly from the Institute of It Stands To Reason, which is based at the University of What Everyone Knows) – but when they try to argue that same-sex couples ought not to have children together.

Same-sex couples can be prevented from adopting or fostering children together by passing legislation. (What this means for children in need of adoptive parents is simply that a gay man or a lesbian will adopt a child as if they were a single parent, and the child won’t be allowed the security of a legal relationship with their other dad or other mom.) Nothing but a strongly fascist state can prevent a lesbian from using a sperm donation to conceive, if she wants to: the only legislative options there are to prevent the child conceived from having the security of two legal parents.

All the legislation against same-sex parents being able to adopt or foster as a couple, or having their joint parenthood of a child conceived by donor acknowledged, is primarily damaging to the children of the couple. Though I’ve often asked the question, no anti-gay Christian has ever explained how they justify attacking the children of same-sex couples merely so that they can proclaim their loathing of same-sex relationships. That is, they have responded with something like “I want to protect children”, and then the argument usually circles round to some justification about how the children of same-sex couples shouldn’t exist anyway and their parents are selfish for wanting to have them, and these paired arguments – these children shouldn’t exist, and their parents are bad people, appears to justify the case for attacking the children in the minds of these anti-gay Christians.

When this argument gets expanded out – as recently, when an anti-gay Christian argued that people are just selfish if they have children just because they want children, any parent who chooses to have children because having children will bring them happiness – this sounds even more appalling for these people’s children.

You’d have to be a bit starry-eyed to believe that children are invariably a source of happiness. And I know from bitter personal experience, that the lesbian or gay child of a homophobic parent is in for a world of pain from their parent, as their parent is in for a world of self-created pain. But the pain is because of love. I know from my own personal experience: I hurt my homophobic parent enormously by being a lesbian. What I came to understand after many years was that the pain was not inflicted by me: I was not in any real sense the cause of it, nor was my coming out the cause of it. The pain suffered by my homophobic parent was caused by the awful conflict between the sure knowledge that a homosexual is an evil and depraved person whom no good person ought to associate with, and the equally sure knowledge that this lesbian daughter is a beloved source of joy. What can it be like for a homophobic parent who cannot stop loving their child, and yet cannot let go of their knowledge that being homosexual is something deeply wrong? My parent’s solution was (a) to blame anyone but me for “corrupting” me, (b) to hope I’ll grow out of it (c) to be coldly and rejectingly polite to any partners (the latter, I believe, isn’t a conscious strategy, just an unhelpful kneejerk reaction). This isn’t much of a solution, but such as it is… it’s based on love, on joy. Because if I wasn’t loved so much, I would have been absolutely cut off long ago. And I never was.

But that is human too: to love and to take joy in your children – even when they’re a source of so much pain. This may be “selfish” – in the sense that it’s all about your feelings as parent – but you can’t love someone else without being a self who loves. You can’t take joy in your children – in anyone – unless you are a self who feels joy. A sociopath may not be able to see what’s good in feeling that joy, in feeling that love – a bigot may not be able to understand how a lesbian or gay person can feel that love for their children, or – in a worse-case scenario – a bigoted parent may not be able to love their lesbian or gay child any more.

Are these people sociopaths, to so dismiss the humanity of parents who just simply want children, parents who are made happy by their children? Or bigots, who think anything attack is justified so long as it makes clear to lesbians and gays and their children that Christians believe them to be inferior and unworthy?

Does it matter? I do have a homophobic parent, but one neither bigot nor sociopath. Capable of comprehending, thanks to me – I don’t know if thanks are ever spoken, but by damn I deserve them! – thanks to me coming out, 25 years ago, capable now of recognising the humanity of lesbian and gay people who would once have got a knee-jerk rejection. There’s been a world of pain in that, but the pain was caused by the love which Renaissance Guy has repeatedly dismissed as “selfish”. Because he is sociopathic and cannot feel it and cannot understand it? Or because he is a bigot who cannot conceive that lesbians and gays are human beings like himself?

January 17, 2009

Why are Mormons acting ashamed?

Because the LDS Church is being investigated by the California Fair Elections Commission because there is evidence it may have broken the law by “substantially” lobbying for political legislation and failing to report campaign-related expenses.

The Yes on Prop 8 campaign, by the way, wants to change the laws that require all donors to make public their names/addresses, claiming that it’s unfair that people should know who these donors are. While the splashy side of this story has been the donors who find that their businesses are boycotted by customers who don’t like their bigotry, the silent, tactical side is this: it’ll make it a lot harder to show, next time, that the LDS Church is breaking the law.

American News Project:

January 16, 2009

Rick Warren wants to be an inspirational leader of a movement that will change the world…

…just like Adolf Hitler was.

No. Not kidding. The two most oppressive problems the world suffers from, apparently, are ‘spiritual poverty’ and ‘egocentric leadership’.

Via, Bruce Wilson, Huffington Post:

“In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.

And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, “Hitler, we are yours.”

And they nearly took the world.

Lenin once said, “give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I’ll change the world.” And, he nearly did.

A few years ago, they took the sayings of Chairman Mao, in China, put them in a little red book, and a group of young people committed them to memory and put it in their minds and they took that nation, the largest nation in the world by storm because they committed to memory the sayings of the Chairman Mao.

When I hear those kinds of stories, I think ‘what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say ‘Jesus, we are yours’ ?

What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ? “

One like Rick Warren’s? Apparently, during his 2005 speech in the Anaheim stadium, Warren revealed he’d received a message from God. which led him to Psalm 72, “Solomon’s prayer for more influence… in Psalm 72 [Solomon] says ‘God, I want you to make me more influential. God, I want you to give me more power. I want you to bless my life more. God, I want you to spread the fame of my name through other countries.'”

In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

“What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ?” What indeed?

January 13, 2009

Two days separation makes it safe

I don’t know whether it disturbed me worse: whether Rick Warren’s invitation was a classic mistake on the lines of “we’re BFF, I don’t need to vet him” or if Obama had Warren vetted and either didn’t care or approved of Warren’s beliefs about effective AIDS work, torture, and same-sex marriage.

For example: this interview in which Warren compares same-sex marriage to child molestation, incest, and polygamy; or Warren’s championing of Martin Ssempa, whose notion of fighting AIDS in Uganda is to burn condoms and preach abstinence – either of which should have been enough to eliminate Warren as a choice for this honour.

As Michelle Goldberg notes, same-sex marriage isn’t the only thing that one hopes Warren and Obama don’t agree on:

Meanwhile, while Warren says he opposes torture, he doesn’t treat the subject with anything like the zeal he accords gay marriage and abortion. As he recently told Beliefnet.com, he never even brought up the subject with the Bush administration, where he had considerable access. Just before the 2004 election, he sent out an e-mail to his congregation outlining the five issues that he considered “non-negotiable”. “In order to live a purpose-driven life – to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates – we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly,” he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia. Torture, apparently, is something that decent Christians can disagree on.

Was Obama genuinely ignorant of this? Was Warren’s selection just the first failure of the Obama administration to vet candidates?

Or did Obama know that Warren opposes effective AIDS campaigning in Africa, thinks torture is an issue that Christians can agree-to-disagree on, and that Warren is the kind of Christian homophobe decent people should want sidelined as a radical, not given this kind of central honour – and just not care?
(more…)

September 12, 2008

our heartbeats are a sword at their throats

Must be read:

“It is time for us to acknowledge that our love is an act of war.
It seems distasteful to say. It feels wrong. Our love, our lives, our nurtured gardens and families, we say, these are not weapons. These are not acts of violence. To us, they are not.
Nonetheless, there are those who insist breathlessly, endlessly, that they are. That our families are destroying their way of life. That our existing in public shocks and harms them. That attending school, sitting in a restaurant, having to hear at all that we exist is an affront that threatens to annihilate them. And they gather their stormclouds over and over, they teach their children, they shout from the pedestals and rooftops and radio waves that we are, by virtue of drawing breath, destroying them. That we are at war, and that our heartbeats are a sword at their throats.” – the sky is falling, 11th September 2008

Jerry Falwell, appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” hosted by Pat Robertson on 13th September 2001, said of the terrorist attack on the WTC on September 11: “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’ “
Pat Robertson: “I totally concur.”
(Washington Post, 14th September 2001: Youtube recording)

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