Archive for category Homophobia
The basic outline of this drama could have been predicted (and was predicted) months ago – someone objects to same-sex couples marrying; in their business or government position they refuse to issue marriage licenses or otherwise serve same-sex couples. A minor media brushfire occurs, a right wing legal organization leaps into the fray and throws gasoline on the fire. A court orders the person to issue said marriage licenses or provide said services. Person refuses, and on the advice of the legal organization starts talking about religious freedom. Court orders person to do their job. Person refuses. Right wing legal organization gives bad advice, hoping to create a martyr. Person goes to jail for contempt of court. The Religious Right goes up in flames.
The specific details were always up for grabs – there’s no reason it had to be Rowan County, Kentucky rather than Mobile, Alabama or Twin Falls, Idaho. The objector could have been a man not a woman, a judge not a county clerk or the owner of a business. That the objector would adhere to a form fundamentalist Christianity was a given, although the specific form doesn’t make much difference (Davis belongs to an Apostolic Christian Church). The actual nature of the objection could easily have been a cut and paste job – we were always going to hear screeching about religious freedom and how this poor person is being oppressed. Even the specifics of the punishment are largely unimportant – whether it was jail time or fines or an order to comply with nondiscrimination laws, the reaction was always going to be the same. Even the comparisons to Rosa Parks were inevitable as the religious right tries to coopt the luster of the Civil Rights movement.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis helpfully stepped into the fray. Her refusal to issue any and all marriage licenses, especially to same-sex couples, put her in the middle of the fight the religious right has wanted for the longest time. Read the rest of this entry »
Are conservative Christians harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws? It’s a more complex question than it appears at first blush.
I’m glad I don’t have to adjudicate any of these cases. Like people who want to ban books, conservative Christians who raise objections to non-discrimination laws as they apply to glbt persons are acting from a place of good intent, even if I disagree with their conclusions. Book banners want to protect children from ideas they believe children aren’t ready to deal with; conservative Christians who object to complying with nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious freedom perceive themselves as the aggrieved party being asked to violate their conscience.
US law has long recognized the right of individuals to request exemptions from certain laws and practices based on questions of conscience and religious faith. As I understand it, Quakers are not exempt military service, they are however exempt from participating as combatants. A number of years ago, I helped a friend draft a statment requesting status as a conscientious objector and be granted exemption from combat duty (he was a veteran and member of the reserves at the time). His statement was lengthy, thoughtful and carefully written; he was granted conscientious objector status and ultimately was not recalled to active duty.
US law has, also, long recognzied the right of individuals to be free from discrimination in the public square, which includes small businesses which are public accommodations. Businesses are public accommodations, which means they are subject to generally applicable laws and those signs that many small businesses post that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” should have a huge asterisk that qualifies that statement. You can’t legally refuse to serve someone because of their race, gender, religion, national origin and so on. Increasingly, that list includes real or perceived sexual orientation. To put it in simple terms, business owners have to make business decisions for business reasons not from animus toward a group of persons.
As more US cities, counties and states adopt nondiscrimination laws covering sexual and gender minorities, and as more states legalize same-sex marriage, I believe there are going to be more cases like that of Elane Photography and Masterpiece Cakeshop, in which small business owners seek exemption from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections.
What happened in these cases is instructive. Read the rest of this entry »
The case of the Masterpiece Bakery in Colorado is one of a number of cases in which small business owners refuse to do business with gay couples on the basis of the owner’s religious objections to gay people doing things like getting married and forming long term commitments to one another.
Friday’s order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer says Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations.
It started out simply enough:
In July of 2012, the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple who were planning to celebrate with friends and family the marriage they had received in Massachusetts. The couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed a complaint, and the Colorado Attorney General proceeded to do the same, and Friday, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer ruled against Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery.
The ACLU’s argument is very straightforward:
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
In these cases, the courts, businesses and individuals are struggling to distinguish between religious and commercial activity.
At Americablog, Becca Morn documents the ways in which the American religious right is aiding and abetting the spread of anti-gay attitudes around the world. The strategy is one with which American activists are familiar – create and publish a scientifically questionable study, but market it as scientifically valid (or just distort legitimate research), spread it far and wide and sit back and wait. Read the rest of this entry »
With Ender’s Game coming to a movie theatre near you, there’s been controversy about author Orson Scott Card’s homophobia in the past. Card issued a pathetic plea for “tolerance” of his views.
Harvey Fierstein’s response may be the last word:
I think that you can have any opinion you want, but at least be willing to take the consequences of your opinion. It’s like, “Well, I hope that people will be more understanding,” or what did he say? “More tolerant of my views.” The quotes that got me about him weren’t against gay marriage — he wanted homosexuality criminalized in the United States. That’s what he called for. You want me to be tolerant of you wanting to criminalize homosexuality? Fuck you on your grave, you piece of shit.
A professor in Tennesee gave her class an optional, extra credit assignment:
Students claim they were required to wear a rainbow ribbon and make public statements in support of gay rights. They were then assigned to write a paper about the reactions they got from other people.[snip]
But Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project, a friend of the professor, said the lawyer’s claims are untrue. He said the assignment was voluntary and is commonly used in psychology classes.
It’s designed to help students gain empathy for gays and lesbians, according to a teaching guide for the assignment, called “Promoting Increased Understanding of Sexual Diversity through Experience Learning.” That guide says that the assignment should be voluntary.
How do we know the assignment was voluntary? A student who took the class a few years ago said so:
But wearing the ribbon was a voluntary, extra-credit assignment, Vernon said. He did not participate and suffered no consequences.
“It did not affect my grade,” he said. “It did make for an uncomfortable situation.”
Of course this relatively ordinary and optional assignment has got a bunch of conservative Christian panties in a twist. Conservative Christians are convinced the professor’s assignment is an attack on their faith and they’re claiming to be victims of religious discrimination.
I am so tired of these crybaby Christians who think not getting their way in absolutely everything is the same as being discriminated against.
I’d like to thank Sheriff Ben Wolfinger for his role in making Utah look much smarter and much less nutty than Idaho. Sheriff Wolfinger is unhappy with the decision by BSA to permit openly gay scouts.
The Kootenai County Sheriff said Friday that he is compelled to drop the department’s Boy Scouts of America charter because the organization is promoting a lifestyle that is against state law.
“It would be inappropriate for the sheriff’s office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law,” Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said.
Sodomy is against the law in Idaho, he added.
Except it’s not:
Idaho’s sodomy law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2003, as a result of the Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102 (U.S. June 26, 2003). Idaho sodomy law applied to both heterosexual and same-sex partners as a “crime against nature,” punishable by imprisonment in state prison for not less than five years.Idaho Code §§ 18-6605 (2001); 18-6606 (2001). The sodomy law did not apply to married heterosexual couples. The Idaho Court of Appeals in Idaho v. Holden, 890 P.2d 341 (Idaho Ct. App. 1995), held that “Idaho’s statute prohibiting the infamous crime against nature may not be constitutionally enforced to prohibit private consensual marital conduct.”
So the Sheriff doesn’t know the law he’s supposed to enforce. And we also need to have a discussion with him about his bigotry. (Thanks to John at Americablog for catching this one.)
I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout but at best a indifferent Boy Scout. I lost interest in scouting after a campout that was a well-intentioned mismanaged fiasco from beginning to end.
BSA have been living in a difficult place for years. They clearly sees themselves as a mainstream organization, modernizing and responding to contemporary society while transmitting time honored values and experiences. They strive to achieve racial and ethnic diversity. The organization updates and adds to its list of possible merit badges to represent changing societal awareness and standards, as for example badges in environmental science, disabilities awareness and game design. At the same time, many of the most fervent supporters of scouting are religious conservatives who perceive the organization as a bulwark of traditional values defending against a rising tide of valueless modernity. The organization’s struggle exemplifies the struggle in American culture. Read the rest of this entry »
A middle school in Red Hook, NY, conducted an anti-bullying workshop, working on questions of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. The workshop was co-led by students from Bard College who are peer counselors at Bard.
So far, so non controversial.
What happened is that a student went home and complained to her mother – the story is now that the school forced girls to engage in lesbian kissing. A massive controversial discussion ensues on Facebook. Right wing media picks up the story that the school forced female students to kiss one another, that male students were taught how to identify which girls were sluts and were told to carry condoms at all times. Hysteria – not hysteria as in laughter but more in the nature of a moral panic – ensues.
Of course, none of those things actually happened and most parents are happy with the outcomes as well as the actual workshop. A few conservative parents are upset and the story with all its wrong details is being distributed around the right wing echo chamber.
The right wing picked up the mother’s complaint and ran with it – it appeared on Fox News. The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage has picked it up and used it in fundraising appeals. The false stories have made the rounds on the right (including a sensationalized account on WorldNetDaily). Expect to hear/read comments from conservatives about “that school in New York that forced girls to engage in “lesbian kisses” on comment boards and in discussion. What’s going on here is the right wing noise machine in full bore, blowing an entirely non-controversial incident out of proportion, creating a scandal where there is no scandal, feeding it into the right wing culture war community where it will become accepted as fact, and repeated ad nauseum.
The story in right wing media is not credible. Think about the details – does anyone seriuosly believe that an anti-bullying workshop would involve middle schools girls kissing each other? That an anti-bullying workshop would teach boys how to determine which of their classmates are sluts? It doesn’t pass the straight face test. Conservatives seem to have accepted accounts of the workshop without question at face value.
The dynamic at work here is deeper than simple gullibility or extremely credulity. Conservatives accepted the story on face value because it confirmed their existing biases about the general gone to hellness of the world. To put it another way, it’s not that the people believing this story are unusually gullible or credulous, it’s that they embrace a view of the world that tells them that school teachers and diversity programs and anti-bullying training are forms of indoctrination; these conservative parents expect to be outraged by what they hear about public schools, so they are primed to see scandal and depravity where none exists. The outraged conservatives hearing and sharing the story, expect public schools to try to indoctrinate their children in homosexuality, they’ve been told for years now that anti-bullying and diversity initiatives in public schools are nothing more than codewords for indoctrination. It’s a tiny step from believing that to believing students are being forced to kiss each other. Even if it didn’t happen in this case, conservatives will tell themselves it’s surely happening someplace else because that’s the sort of depraved thing that liberals will do if they think they can get away with it. To take one example, look at this comment from the WingNutDaily article:
If the liberals have it their way the law will destroy the meaning of family and the authority of parents completely. Remember what certain people were promoting on MSNBC? Your kids are not going to be your kids anymore so the government can brainwash them all they want and there won’t be a thing that you or anyone can do about it. Yeah, this is the culture that the lunatic liberals are creating. In certain European countries the kids are basically property of the state and not children of the parents. The kids in those countries are indoctrinated into anything and everything so long as it has nothing to do with God. This is powerful evidence of the type of utopian society and world that the lunatic liberals in the world are dreaming up and working towards making come true. The truth of the matter is that their dreams will, in fact, become nightmares. Their efforts will lead to catastrophe. No person should put up with the liberal lunatic agenda. It’s time for the anger of good citizens to be on full display and put the lunatic liberals in their place.
For this person it’s all part of a grand conspiracy. The breathless recounting of the event on right wing blogs and websites comes complete with denunciations of the evils of liberalism and public schools and gay people and fervid theorizing about the nefarious machinations of homosekshuls intent on destroying the family. The CBN (that is Christian Broadcasting Network) report ends with the warning that “school officials are planning more of these workshops!” The report – word for word – crops up on dozens of websites, propagated throughout a network of right wing blogs, bloggers, opinionators and semi-real news websites, to be forwarded, linked and discussed on other sites.
The story of the lesbian kisses is admittedly a minor one, but it’s a valuable case study in how the right wing works to spread misinformation throughout its network of activists, voters, bloggers and communities. Even if Fox were to retract the story today, it has spread far and wide, believed by who knows how many people. Like other right wing atrocity narratives, it will be reported again and again and no matter how many times its refuted, it will keep coming back. It will become the justification for right wing groups attempting to hold their own workshops at which people witness for Jesus and talk about becoming “ex-gay” and spread misinformation about gay people. When pushed on it, they’ll defend themselves with the story about the forced lesbian kisses in middle school.