Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 5, 2010

The turning of the tide

Three weeks ago, Miguel Angel Calefato, 65, and Jose Luis Navarro, 54, who had lived together unwed for 27 years, became the first same-sex couple to marry legally in South America, after Argentina lifted the ban on same-sex couples marrying. (BBC)

Two weeks ago, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, said “Anyone who can marry a couple currently should be able to marry same sex-couples. This is about justice for everyone. Civil partnerships have been a wonderful thing, but they are not equal; being separate isn’t being equal and the Government would be wise to move towards equality as soon as possible.” He said the argument that allowing gay marriage could threaten the institution of marriage, was “a silly idea”. “I don’t think any gay couple have ever made a married couple feel less married.” (Herald) The cause of equal marriage in the UK has been boosted by the government’s decision to consult on a change in the law. On the Monday after Miguel Angel Calefato and Jose Luis Navarro got married, the deputy LibDem leader Simon Hughes predicted that same-sex couples would have the right to civil marriage in the UK before the next General Election is due in 2014. (Pink News, with video clip)

And today in the US, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8 — the 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California — in a 136-page ruling. The lawsuit against Prop 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, marked the first federal court challenge of a state law banning same-sex marriage. The case is expected to eventually wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Dallas Voice)
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July 9, 2009

We “love” you: we just don’t want you in the pool with us!

It’s been in the news recently: a private sports club in Philadelphia which accepted a fee of $1900 for the children of Creative Steps summer camp to swim in their pool one day a week for the summer – but after the first day the kids showed up, returned the fee and told Creative Steps they shouldn’t come back.

Why? Well, the sports club president John Duesler says: “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.” The kids of Creative Steps were black. The Valley Swim Club was, covertly until this week, whites only. (They’re so disturbed by news of their very public racism, that their website www.thevalleyclub.com has now been replaced with a message denying everything.)

There’s a happy ending to this story: not only did the kids of Creative Steps get offered an alternative swimming venue by Girard College, a local ice-cream store, Gumdrops and Sprinkles, gave them a day of free candy and ice-cream making. So the kids may have learned that rich white people can be mean as knives, not wanting to share what they have in case it’s “polluted”, but they’ve also got the message that most people are not like that.

What does this kind of petty prejudice – we aren’t sharing our facilities with you – remind me of? Why, the changing the definition of marriage argument: the don’t let same-sex couples get married elsewhere and think they can be recognised as married at home argument; the don’t let corporations think they can buy advertising in gay magazines argument; the don’t let schools teach children to love and respect each other argument; the teach homophobia and promote self-hatred argument. It’s all much the same, but on a much wider scale: these bigots are splashing and screaming that they want the queers out of their pool.

Marriage in their view is not about pledging to love, to honour, and to cherish the one your love till death to you part; it’s not a civil right necessary to the orderly pursuit of happiness, as the Supreme Court decreed 42 years ago; marriage is a privilege, a strictly limited pool, and allowing lesbians and gays in the pool will “change the complexion of the club”.

Slacktivist wrote in May last year:

Imagine, for example, that California’s legislature had passed a law stating that the Irish were forbidden from getting driver’s licenses. Such a discriminatory law would have been quickly voided by the courts. Anti-Irish bigots would have decried that ruling as “judicial activism,” but that’s an epithet, not an argument. The state’s constitution simply will not tolerate new law that attempts to exclude particular classes of people from the same rights and protections available to everyone else. Voters might well respond to the court’s decision by passing a ballot measure redefining a “driver” as a “non-Irish person,” and thus excluding by semantics those whom the constitution did not previously allow them to exclude by statute, but I can’t imagine the courts finding this transparent ploy convincing. This hypothetical anti-Irish proposition wouldn’t be any more constitutional or legitimate than the shamefully non-hypothetical anti-gay Proposition 8 is.
…..
Supporters of Proposition 8 were forced to resort to Lying for Jesus — pastors will be jailed! your church will be forced to conduct gay weddings! your organist may become even more flamboyant! — because they weren’t able to articulate any honest basis for opposing this right as an equal right. The ‘vixen and I got our marriage license on the same day that George Takei and Brad Altman got theirs. The wedding of George and Brad neither picked my pocket nor broke my leg, so what possible cause would I have had to object to it? What reason would I have to deny George and Brad the same happiness that my wife and I were permitted to enjoy? Such exclusion makes no sense unless we appeal to some imagined grave consequences such as those dreamed up by the Liars for Christ.

And here again we see that basing policy on imaginary fears and imaginary grave consequences leads to different, but very real, grave consequences. When we choose to make laws based on imaginary fears, we see our own rights reduced to mere privileges. This is what always happens when we place fear on the throne.

This fear – that if the black kids are allowed to swim in the same pool with the white kids, the “atmosphere” will change: that where two men or two women are able to marry, this “changes the definition of marriage”, dovetails in my mind with a parable Fred retold earlier this year: the workers in the vineyard. These people are not content to enjoy their own orderly pursuit of happiness – you feel (I do) they are terrified that other people are somehow getting away with something. Rather than taking joy in their own marriage (if they can) and at least ignoring the people getting married in a way they don’t approve of, they grumble “These couples who were wed recently worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

“Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Yes. Yes, they are.

March 15, 2009

Dan joins RaceFail Writers for 2009 Fail

I’m sad and mad: I’m savage. Dan Savage, one of my no-kidding favorite writers, just joined RaceFail 2009. (Debunk Tank, March 12th).

Apparently, Dan says, 3.89% of voters who voted for Yes on 8 is a landslide… because that 3.89% (58% of the 6.7% of the Californian population) are black.

Why does Dan Savage care so much about kicking that 3.89%? Who contributed the millions? Who made the lying ads and web campaigns? Who’s got the power, the political voice, and the funding? Who’s paying Ken Starr? It’s not that 3.89%. Why does Dan want to focus on that small group and call them a “landslide”?

From The Advocate:

The night before Election Day, a black woman walked into the San Francisco headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign. Someone had ripped down the No on 8 sign she’d posted in her yard and she wanted a replacement. She was old, limping, and carrying a cane. Walking up and down the stairs to this office was hard for her.

[Michael Joseph Gross] asked why coming to get the sign was worth the trouble, and she answered, “All of us are equal, and all of us have to fight to make sure the law says that.” She said that she was straight, and she told me about one of the first times she ever hung out with gay people, in New Orleans in the 1970s. “I thought I was so cool for being there, and I said, ‘You faggots are a lot of fun!’ Well, that day I learned my lesson. A gay man turned on me and said, ‘A faggot is not a person. A faggot is a bunch of sticks you use to light a fire.’ ”

She puts Dan Savage to shame: I’m ashamed of him, if he’s not ashamed of himself.

[Update: and with this, 3 days later, Savage Love goes off my blog roll. I’m sadder yet about that: but there is a limit to the amount of racist crap I’m going to read, and Dan Savage just used it all up.]

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 3, 2009

On smelly feet

Fred Clark’s last post of the year at Slacktivist was Clean Shoes; Renaissance Guy’s first post of the year was To Judge or not to Judge.

Both in very different ways were writing about the same thing: how should Christians act towards unclean people, abominations… sinners?

RG:

I think the same thing is true concerning same-sex relations. The Bible teaches that such relations are sinful, and if questioned or confronted, I will say so. At the same time, I can completely love a person who commits such a sin. I can show him or her kindness, treat him or her as better than myself, and refrain from judging him or her. I’m willing to admit that in the eyes of God I might be far more sinful than any homosexual person in the world.

Fred:

Peter said. “But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.”

Not a word there about calamari or bacon. That’s not what the vision was about. It was about people. God has shown us that we should not call any person impure or unclean — that we should not treat any person as impure or unclean.

So here’s an invitation or a challenge for the New Year: Sign up for the scavenger hunt. Take the Big List of the unclean and the untouchable and turn it upside down and inside out. Seek out those people instead of avoiding them. Touch them and let them touch you.

I react towards those two posts very differently. They’re both saying – though Fred much more subtly than RG – that gay is on the Big List of abominations. (Sex between men certainly is, twice, in Leviticus: in the list of 613 things an observant Jew must not do, a Jewish man may not have sex with another man, no more and no less than he may shave his beard or get tattooed or eat bacon or own a slave for more than 7 years without offering him his freedom: he cannot make a wave-offering in the Temple if he has made himself ritually unclean in this way. It’s not allowed.)

Both of them, also, explicitly say that this is about Christianity being inclusive, not exclusive.
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December 11, 2008

“It turns us on when you don’t have equality”

Seriously.

The Yes-on-H8-ers have come out of the closet: they get turned on by denying LGBT people equal civil rights. For them, it’s a sexual kink. They can’t get off unless they’re fantasising about how their friends and neighbors can’t get married.

Playful Walrus was the first to admit it Kingfisher agreed that this was their motivation too: and Pearl really gets off on it.

(With regard to discussion at these blogs: Pearl, like Beetle Blogger and PomegranateApple, bans opposing opinions, preferring echo-chamber praise or silence to discussion. Playful Walrus requires full name-and-address registration. Kingfisher initially appeared to welcome debate, but then – as an anonymous troll appeared with the intent of derailing a civil debate with ad hom attacks on me – made a mod’s decision that anonymous ad hom attacks were preferable to informed/polite debate. I guess that would go with KF’s declared sexual kink of denying other people civil rights to get off…)

It’s interesting because I always figured the people who talk about how if same-sex couples can marry this will “destroy” mixed-sex marriage are speaking in code about how they fear closety gay men and lesbians will not want to spend their lives in card marriages when they see long-term same-sex couples getting to marry. How soul-destroying it must be for a person who all their lives denied themselves – to see others who were not so afraid.

But this doesn’t explain why happy hets would oppose marriage. But this admission makes sense of it: they have a kink of their own. They get off on other people’s inequality. A form of BDSM, not safe/sane/consensual, but harmless enough so long as it was merely fantasy – so long as Walrus or Kingfisher or Pearl just wanked themselves off over the idea of two men or two women being denied marriage. No one should be condemned for their sexual fantasies, so long as they don’t impose them on others who haven’t consented. I have no problem with these bloggers having shared sexual fantasies about how they’ll deny marriage to same-sex couples.

But when they want to force their sexual fantasies of denying marriage on to other people…

There’s a word for people who think that satisfying their sexual arousal is more important than sexual consent: words for people who think what turns them on ought to be forced on other people against their will. That’s the kind of person these anti-marriage bloggers are. Not just bigots…

December 9, 2008

Persephone embraces Hades: Demographic Winter

Pomegranate Apple whines: …it still persists. this argument that if someone is pro-traditional family it means you are also a bigot, a homophobe, a religious-crazy, a racist etc.

Yes, it does, for fairly obvious reasons. “Pro-traditional family” is the name used for themselves by those who oppose equal rights for same-sex couples and their children: although these people talk a lot about being “pro” this and “promoting” that, they identify themselves primarily as against some couples, some parents, and some children.

this argument also says that if you promote traditional family you also promote the oppression of women, senseless breeding

If you are against the oppression of women, it’s fairly basic that you support the right of women to decide how many children to have, and when to have them. The post to which I am responding is all about promoting a video, Demographic Winter, which regards the ability of white women in developed countries to make use of effective and safe family planning as a threat. While some people linking to this video may be doing so stupidly, without thinking about what they’re promoting, the movement behind this video is very explicitly for the oppression of women and the denial of family planning because not enough white babies are being born.

Proposition 8 is pretty much over

No. Not by half. On 19th November, the California Supreme Court agreed to review the validity of Proposition 8 in response to a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). The lawsuit argues that Proposition 8 is invalid because it “improperly attempts to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality and deprives the courts of their essential role of protecting the rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such a radical change in the way the courts and state government work cannot be decided by a simple ballot measure.”

Proposition 8 will not be “over” until it has been overturned by the Californian Supreme Court. As this is the same court that determined in May that the state constitution made a ban on same-sex marriages invalid, I think the bigots happily hugging to themselves the belief that they won are having a premature bigotgasm.

my blog continues because I think strengthening marriage is a pretty crucial conversation.

I note, however, that far from “strengthening marriage”, this blogger is firmly on the side that opposes the freedom to marry – and far from wanting to have a “crucial conversation”, this blogger bans all comments except from pre-approved commenters.

Children are not accessories.

True, but who said they were?

Children are not annoying.

Oh, come now. Whoever said that has never looked after a child in their life. Every child has an entirely human capacity for being thoroughly annoying, and children have a special capacity for being specially annoying. I speak as an experienced babysitter/childminder and aunt to several niblings. Children can be exceptionally damned annoying.

Children are not burdens.

Oh yes, they are. Whoever said that has never had full financial/emotional responsibility for a child in their life.

Children are blessings.

True. This does not prevent them from being exceptionally damned annoying and burdensome.

From Nature, from God, from the Universe. They should not be lightly or selfishly dismissed (to day-care) (to raise themselves) (to fend for themselves) (to grow up with out a father) (to grow up without a mother) (to abortion clinics).

Now here is the crux of it. A “traditional family” by this definition is a family in which one or both of the parents, who are in this paradigm if “traditional” always a mixed-sex couple, provide all the childcare for all the children. Anything else is “lightly or selfishly” dismissing the children.

This excludes most of the families in the US. Not by sexual orientation, but by income. This is a statement of class privilege, not just homophobia, sexism, and racism: the only really good parents, in this paradigm, are the parents who can afford to raise a family with just one regular income. Parents who can’t – where both must work – are being “light and selfish”, treating their children as “burdens”.

It is unacceptable for any society to shrug their shoulders and say, “they turn out fine.”

Because it’s unacceptable to be content with fine children?

I’m not okay with fine.

Again: see the class privilege? Rich parents produce children who aren’t just “fine children”.

Children deserve (perhaps have a fundamental and natural right?) to grow up with a mom and a dad interested in all the moments of their lives.

But as we’ve just established: working-class parents can’t provide that – “lightly and selfishly” they put the kids in daycare so that they can both work to pay the rent. Middle-class parents usually can’t provide this either: “lightly and selfishly” they too need to use daycare: the only kind of “mom and dad” who won’t ever need daycare and won’t ever need to leave the kids alone when they work are, in fact, the kind of couple who are so wealthy they can afford live-in staff. Without having even a part-time job.

Adults should do everything they can to help make this a reality.

For the privileged few who can afford it?

Strong families means sacrifice, but it means children grow up healthy, happy, and capable of contribution (without being weighed down by emotional scars).

I think, actually, the children of the very rich who never went to daycare but who had a mom and dad “interested in all the moments of their lives” are quite as likely to be weighed down by emotional scars as the ordinary children this blogger thinks have “light and selfish” parents who merely work hard all day to feed, clothe, and house their children, and then pick their kids up from daycare and take them home…

Strong families means a civilization that can focus on art, science, helping 3rd world countries, instead of being traumatized by its own issues (poverty, welfare, crime, psychological problems, the list goes on). (and on).

So a ciivlisation made up exclusively of the enormously wealthy? Can you say “Eloi”? How about “Morlock”?

This is, yes, way beyond this blogger’s determination to discriminate against and dismiss some parents and some children: to denigrate strong families and to deny marriage as a civil right. This is about an idea of privileged, wealthy couples somehow being the only kind of couple who really deserve to have children. Parents who work for a living are “light and selfish” parents.

So, tangled up in a complex knot at the root of the anti-marriage movement there is classism, sexism, racism, and homophobia. My my my my my my, what a mess.

December 7, 2008

No, it’s not unfair

From Reflections on faith, politics, and society: However, efforts like this (www.mormonsstoleourrights.com), to single-out and scapegoat Mormons in particular, based on their support of Prop. 8, are unfair

No, it’s not. The LDS Church mounted a concerted political campaign in California against Proposition 8, and succeeded. There are internal accounts before the election of the pressure that the LDS hierarchy was putting on bishops to pressure their congregation into doing pro-Prop8 work: here‘s one account: and from a different perspective, here’s another.

Now they see their tax-exempt status threatened as a result, they’re going all weak-kneed and saying “it wasn’t just us!” but this is cowardly bullspit. It wasn’t “just” them – but they were the only church that, as a church, stepped over the bounds that separate church from state and got their congregations to work as a political unit.

In 1978, the LDS Church ended a long-standing tradition of religiously-inspired racism when it seemed likely that the IRS was going to take away their tax exempt status. I don’t know whether their pro-Prop8 battle will be enough to lose them their tax exempt status now, but the threat should at least ensure that the LDS leadership will never again pressure members of the congregrations to take part in political campaigning and donation at the will of the church leadership.

The number of LDS church members, fervently pro-Prop8 themselves, who lack the courage of their convictions about same-sex marriage when it turns out that their public, political and financial opposition to same-sex marriage has brought public, political, and financial opposition on them, is quite astonishing to me – clearly, for all their fanatical talk about how same-sex marriage is the ultimate threat to the society, they don’t really believe that crap, any more than pro-lifers really believe that abortion=murder.

If these LDS church members believed that in supporting Proposition 8 they were supporting everything most dear to them, then the LDS Church losing its tax-exempt status (and their facing the opposition of their less-bigoted neighbours) would be just the price they had to pay for saving society. If they were brave. If they believed what they were doing was the right thing to do.

They aren’t just bigots and bullies. They’re cowards.

December 6, 2008

Humans are not an endangered species

Sometimes, the obvious needs to be said. The world’s population is 6.7 billion (World Population Clock) and rising: a large and flourishing population of human beings exists in almost every part of the world. About the only continent we don’t have a breeding population of humans on is Antarctica, and we could, any time we wanted, it would just take much more technological investment than penguins need.

So what’s with the “demographic winter” thing that Christian-right “profamily” activists are so keen on? As Kathryn Joyce points out in The Nation, what’s missing are the “right” babies – what worries this kind of person is not the human species becoming extinct, but not enough white babies being born.

At the national level, in 2004 Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered a “baby bonus” of about $1,000 to parents who had a second child. … Elizabeth Krause, an anthropologist and author of A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy, tracked that country’s population efforts over the past decade and found politicians demanding more babies “to keep away the armadas of immigrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean” and priests calling for a “Christian dike against the Muslim invasion of Italy.” The racial preferences behind Berlusconi’s “baby bonus” came into embarrassing relief when immigrant parents were accidentally sent checks for their offspring and then asked to return the money: the Italian government hadn’t meant to promote those births.

Barry McLerran, said to be a “producer” (he doesn’t appear on IMDB), did a “documentary” about this problem racists have with white women not having “enough” babies, which is entitled Demographic Winter.

Proposition 8 passed on lies: one of the most prevalent lies before it passed was that somehow it would affect the Californian school system. That’s not a lie the pro-Prop8ers can usefully stick to, as it will become evident as time goes on that “Yes on 8″ didn’t affect the school system in California at all.

But now the rash of homophobic blogs that appeared around Proposition 8 have been picking up on this: I noticed it via Beetle Blogger, Kingfisher Column, The Pomegranate Apple, all of whom are linking to a free torrent. They need an excuse: a claim that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, this will somehow affect the white population of the world, or at least of their respective countries. This works for the anti-marriage movement because for them (as I wrote two years ago):

these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Not just the bloggers, but their permitted commenters (most of these blogs only allow their own cohort to post comments):

  • “Oh man. If that video doesn’t make obvious the need for traditional, healthy marriage and family, I don’t know what will. Homosexuals seem to always bring up the broken homes, victims of divorce, that plague our society today. As if the crumbling family unit and committed, loving marriage will be saved by allowing gays to marry.”
  • Marriage has been weakened by no-fault divorce and the general acceptance of cohabitation and adultery. Will gay marriage serve to strengthen the desire for marriage in the eyes of young heterosexual males? The mule is about to kick again.
  • The amazing thing is that people can see pretty clearly that the trends are going south, but the majority of people haven’t been convinced enough to change how they see things. Perhaps this has to be like the new “environmentalism” cause. Save the planet, go back to basics, families, values, vegetables and whole grains.

It’s not just about equal marriage. For these people, racism is just as important as sexism is just as important as homophobia: not only must same-sex couples be denied marriage, white women must be denied contraception and access to abortion, because more of the right kind of babies must be born.

On 16th November, in The Advocate, Michael Joseph Gross described an encounter with an elderly straight woman:

The night before Election Day, a black woman walked into the San Francisco headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign. Someone had ripped down the No on 8 sign she’d posted in her yard and she wanted a replacement. She was old, limping, and carrying a cane. Walking up and down the stairs to this office was hard for her.

I asked why coming to get the sign was worth the trouble, and she answered, “All of us are equal, and all of us have to fight to make sure the law says that.”

Right on.

December 4, 2008

Please choose love instead of hate…

The funniest free video of 2008: shame it had to be inspired by PropHate.

Prop 8 the Musical

jointheimpact.com

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