Category Archives: LGBT issues

He’s Not the Pastor of the United States, He’s the President of the United States

Can I get an Amen?

Fredrick D Haynes III certainly knows how to move a crowd. It is hopeful that a leader like him can talk sense and ask questions in what seems like ever shifting religious zeal in the evangelical Christian movement in this country. I have no idea what the specifics of Pastor Haynes theology, he didn’t address that aspect on this video.

This video is about a response and requests for collaboration about responses, to Obama’s statement on gay marriage. I don’t know if the pastor believe homosexuality is a choice relating to morality or not, he did a great job of framing and speaking about the difference between church and state laws, and makes it clear that they should have little directly to do with personal beliefs. He makes the distinction that the Bible is not the founding document of this country, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are. He made these comments as a leader in a protestant movement that is not known for its LGBT support, and in direct opposition to prominent Baptist leaders.

Who knows? Maybe I would find the actual theology of that church offensive. It doesn’t matter when we have the clear separation of church and state – we can all find our own niche. The Constitution demands that those niches be treated equally. Thanks Pastor Haynes for pointing this out in a way probably only you can.

The photo at the top is of Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. He is with his choir. They have nothing to do with Fredrick D Haynes III or really anything else about this post – other than the fact that he can get people excited and understand some basic American values and progressive principles.

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Obama As Progressive

Obama’s announcement about his feelings towards gay marriage signals a shift in American cultural history. The conservative reactions range from accusations of “radical social engineering” to schadenfreude at how foolishly Obama is behaving. Why does it all matter? There is no action implied – no legislation or acts in process.  It matters because of the values enforced. Obama is signaling a shift in what is considered to be normal. He is the authority of the land, and conservative’s top two values are authority and tradition.

A progressives top value is empathy; that is why the President’s announcement was such a happy moment. It really isn’t that everyone knows a gay couple lining up to get married, the issue is one of civil rights. It’s also a testament to a “live and let live” attitude that is part of the American identity.

As the general election heads our way, much of the progressive base was grumbling a bit about Obama. This announcement gives progressives something to point at, we all know in our gut when something goes mainstream. Gay marriage just went mainstream. It’s okay for families to be themselves. This offer of goodwill does so much to energize the base because it strongly reinforces the empathy value. If instead Obama had spoken of some thin legal line that GLBT families could walk to to get some rights, the reception would have been cold. This is an issue based on principles and they are not very complicated.

In hard times, you’ve got to feed your base, otherwise they will become disinterested or disconnected from what is happening. Trying to appeal to the “middle” is no use and while it might look ok on a political calculator the reality is that playing to the middle deactivates both sides of the debate. The middle is imaginary. Averaging positions out over a broad range of socioeconomic issues is not an effective measure of ones political stance; the linear concept of left to right is flawed. Most voters tend to be left, right, ambiguous, or ignorant on each individual issue. People don’t advocate “mostly killing” criminals on death row; they either believe in the death penalty or not. Nuances of the law may also be accepted or rejected, but each decision can be broken down into yes or no answers. All of these answers will not line up neatly on the spectrum of liberal to conservative. That is why when speaking in an empathetic manner, many of those “switches” around issues will be flipped simultaneously to an empathetic perspective. When you change someone’s mind at the very root of their thinking, the cascading effect is exponentially successful to trying to win each individual policy nuance. This is why walking the middle is counterproductive for either side of the debate.

I wrote a previous post about this here.

Even though compromise is necessary to govern, rhetoric goes a long way to building expectations and values as a people. Obama’s move will produce more good than harm because at its root are those empathetic, all American values of peace, prosperity, equality, opportunity, love, and even tradition. We all can relate to that and most of us can attest to a moral code that honors love and committment.

 

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Does the Bible Justify Bullying Gay People?

This spring Dan Savage, a leading gay rights and sex positive advocate, spoke at a conference for high school journalism students. He addressed the issue of folks pointing to the Bible to justify the bullying of gays. He did a great job of making his case with two exceptions: he used the words “bullshit” and “pansy-ass”, which weakens the argument- even if he was describing written words and actions (not people). He could have omitted those phrases and his speech would nearly have been worthy of carving in stone; the nation is sick of hypocritical “logic”. Even though I am not a fan of the use of cursing to make a point, I will concede that when people are suffering and dying at the hand of those who supposedly follow God, there is reason to be upset. There is reason to curse and gnash your teeth and pull out your hair. Hate begets hate and last time I checked, Jesus did not advocated hating anyone. Continue reading

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Amendment One Passes

North Carolina just passed Amendment One. Unofficial results are that 2,135,740 voted, approx 61% voted “for” and 39% voted “against”. Here is the language of the amendment:

Sec. 6. Marriage.Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

I was reviewing the election results and my boys were looking over my shoulder. Here is the conversation:

Me: So, this is the one that is a bummer (pointing to the results).

Kid 1: Which one is it?

Me: It’s the one that says families with two moms or two dads will not be recognized by the state of North Carolina.

Kid 2: That is so wrong.

Kid 1: It’s not fair.

Me: I know.

Kid 1: Why didn’t you vote for this one?

Me: I did.

Kid 1: Why don’t you disguise yourself and vote for it again?

Me: Because that’s illegal. Everybody is supposed to have one vote.

Kid 1: Its not fair.

Kid 2:Why does it matter to them if somebody has two moms or two dads?

Me: Because some people feel like marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Kid 2: Not cool man.

Kid 2: If the mom gets sick, they already have a person to take care of them. Why do they send ’em to an orphanage?

Me: They won’t go to an orphanage, but if something bad happens to one mom, so that they can’t take care of the kids, we don’t know what will happen to the kids.

Kid 1: Why don’t people like the people who marry a boy and a boy or a girl and a girl?

Me: I guess a lot of them think God doesn’t like it, or maybe they just don’t like the idea.

Kid 1: That’s not nice.

Kid 2: God loves love, so why would he not like it if it was two boys or two girls?

Me: It doesn’t make sense to me either.

Kid 1: Why do they think God likes them better? ‘Cause they think their opinion is right and the other people’s opinion is wrong.

Kid 2: Well God should just, like, I think he’d be madder at the people that didn’t want the people to get married.

Kid 1: Two boys to get married and two girls.

Me: Did you know that it also is about two grown-ups that are boy and girl that might have kids or property that they share, but now, the state doesn’t recognize that they are together if they aren’t married.

Kid 1: yeah

Kid 2: What’s wrong with not getting married?

Me: I don’t know. I think people are scared to change the way things have been. They think all families should look a certain way and do certain things to be legitimate. But we know a lot of families that don’t have one dad and one mom married together.

Kid 2: yeah, I think I’m gonna go get myself some breakfast.

Kid 1: What’s legitimate? (yawn)

Me: It means that everyone recognizes that that is what’s right. It’s like everyone knows the same thing is right or wrong and they’re saying only marriage is right. How do you think you would feel if the state told you your family is wrong?

Kid 1: I would feel really bad and feel like my family was bad, but it really isn’t.

Me: yeah

 

 

 

 

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NC Amendment One -State Mandated Discrimination

This is what Family Values looks like

I want to start by thanking those people in my country and from around the world that have fought hard and sacrificed so much in the struggle for civil rights. In the 60s, so many people put their life, livelihoods, and family security on the line in order to lay the groundwork for equal rights for all.  The struggle for black Americans was and still is hard won. Because of the African-American community’s strength and determination, they secured and framed the civil rights argument for all of us. That being said, “black rights” do not equal “civil rights”; they are one application of civil rights.

There is much comparison and contrast of the gay rights movement to the movement of the 60s that secured civil rights for black Americans. Assumptions of comprehensive parallels have been made and offenses have been taken. Compounding the emotional mix are the perceptions of the attitudes of the two communities towards each other – there is a perceived (and I have no idea if it can be fact based) undercurrent of distaste in the African American community for the gay lifestyle. This comparison and contrast of the two groups does next to nothing good for anyone other than hindering the debate of the real issue, which is civil rights. Continue reading

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