Won’t someone please think of the children who don’t exist!

By gum, Pastor Aaron Fruh is mad as heck and he’s not going to take it anymore! He’s not bigoted at all, it’s the gays who are prejudiced and hateful by demanding their right to marry their partners. The word salad is so special that I think it warrants a crazy-looking graphic. The emphasis is mine, but this is a direct quote…

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Anoka-Hennepin suit settled on the side of sanity and compassion.

When “neutrality” means looking the other way while some teenagers torment and terrorize others to the point of suicide, neutrality doesn’t lead to anything good:

At first, the school board stood by a curriculum policy passed in 2009, which on paper instructed teachers to “remain neutral” about sexual orientation and in practice operated as a gag order. Teachers were required to refrain from saying that being gay is not a choice, even if they were quoting the position of the American Psychological Association. When history teachers included gay rights in a unit about how the strategies of the black civil rights groups influenced subsequent movements, the district deleted the reference. For a staff diversity training session, the district rejected a book called How Homophobia Hurts Children   because it did not “include an opposing viewpoint.” The schools also scrubbed LBGT support services, like a gay and lesbian helpline, from the list of health resources given to students. And a conservative Christian parents’ group called the Parents Action League pushed for teaching gay students about “reparative therapy”—how to root out their homosexuality—by promoting groups that treat it as a sin against the will of God. In 2010 the head of the group told the Minnesota Independent that LGBT students had killed themselves not because of bullying, but because of “homosexual indoctrination” and their own “unhealthy lifestyle.” (The statewide sponsor of the Parents Action League is a group called the Minnesota Family Council; last spring, Bachmannn and Newt Gingrich were the headline speakers for an MFC fundraiser.)

In theory, I’m sure the district’s “remain neutral” policy was about not taking a side, simply staying out of the debate over the dignity and rights of sexual minorities, but no matter how you spin it, when students have to go to school in this kind of environment, refusing to take a side is effectively leaving bullied students to suffer. It is morally bankrupt for a school district to tell its teachers to keep their mouths shut about the fact that people of different sexual orientations do exist and that they’re up against a lot of violence and hate because of their minority status, when they have many students keeping that violence and hate very much alive in the schools’ hallways.

So, let’s call a spade a spade: teachers were instructed to put arbitrary, artificial limits on their teaching of psychology and history. IOW, teachers were asked not to teach too much in certain subjects, lest their students be too educated about sociological issues surrounding certain people who were already their classmates. The Parents Action League are instructors and enablers of bullies. Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that homophobic teenagers don’t get that way all by themselves:

I’ve argued in this space before that homophobic kids do not spring from the wretched earth, but are often stewarded by homophobic adults–the kind of adults who abolish LBGT support services, promote reparative “therapy,” and deem homosexuality a sin against God.

Parents Action League, under the guidance of Minnesota Family Council, are undoubtedly the parents of many of the current worst perpetrators of homophobic bullying in Anoka-Hennepin schools. They are asking for their children to have carte blanche to assault and abuse their peers who do not march in perfect lockstep with gender norms. PAL are themselves current perpetrators of bullying by telling the Minnesota Independent that homosexual indoctrination and gays’ unhealthy lifestyle, rather than bullying, are what lead to suicide. Again from TNC:

What I like about the settlement in Minnesota is that it doesn’t simply pass the buck by calling on kids to dime out each other. It’s easy to pass this off simply as kids being cruel. Surely kids often are cruel and need instruction on compassion. But beating and pissing on people for being gay is about a kind of cruelty which is regularly endorsed in the polite corridors of the country.

This is not simply a matter of kids being kids. When you take hundreds of children and stuff them all into the same building for six hours a day, a certain amount of cruelty is inevitable, but the impulse to beat queer or non-gender-conforming people to the ground doesn’t occur without some adult input. Adults are responsible for putting all those teenagers, some of whom are more bigoted and/or aggressive than others, and some of whom are more vulnerable to abuse than others, into the same building for several hours a day, adults are responsible for teaching some youngsters that queer or non-gender-conforming people are abnormal and need to be attacked, and adults are responsible for what happens to those youngsters at other teenagers’ hands when they are forced into a common environment. I would blame parents more than teachers for students’ homophobic bullying, but since those parents are clearly uninterested in teaching their children any differently, it will have to fall to the school system to protect their students from others.

D.C. Archdiocese Competes in the Euphemism Olympics

Barbara Johnson is now endeavoring to have Father Marcel Guarnizo removed from his post at St. John Neumann Catholic church. She has good reason: at her mother’s funeral, Fr. Guarnizo denied her Communion because she is a lesbian, and walked out of the funeral while Johnson was delivering a eulogy. The family were left on their own for the burial.

Let’s go over that one more time:

1. Father Guarnizo denied Communion to the deceased woman’s daughter. Because she is a lesbian. He told her in so many words, right up at the altar with everyone watching.

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” she recalled Tuesday.

2. Father Guarnizo abandoned the funeral midway through.

Family members said the priest left the altar while Johnson, 51, was delivering a eulogy and did not attend the burial or find another priest to be there.

This is, to say the very least, profoundly unprofessional behavior for a priest giving a funeral Mass. And how is the Archdiocese handling the matter? Actually not badly, but their language is just fascinating:

Late Tuesday, Johnson received a letter of apology from the Rev. Barry Knestout, one of the archdiocese’s highest-ranking administrators, who said the lack of “kindness” she and her family received “is a cause of great concern and personal regret to me.”

“I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity,” Knestout wrote. “I hope that healing and reconciliation with the Church might be possible for you and any others who were affected by this experience. In the meantime, I will offer Mass for the happy repose of your mother’s soul. May God bring you and your family comfort in your grief and hope in the Resurrection.”

Lack of “kindness”? Cause of “personal regret” to the administrator? Lack of “pastoral sensitivity”?

Archdiocese officials at first issued a short statement saying that the priest’s actions were against “policy” and that they would look into it as a personnel issue.

If Rev. Knestout is offering a redo of the funeral Mass for Barbara Johnson’s mother, that’s a good thing, but this is not merely about a shortage of “kindness” or “sensitivity.” Father Guarnizo tossed a monkey wrench into Mrs. Johnson’s funeral Mass and drove a wrecking ball into an already emotionally raw day for her family. That’s not just a question of “policy.” He was charged with a job and he did something very bad with it. If the D.C. Archdiocese wants to assure its parishioners that this will not be allowed to happen again, it’s quite simple: put Guarnizo out of a job. Tossing a bunch of watery corporate-speak at the Johnsons isn’t fooling anyone.

 

No, no, St. Petersburg, this is not how you do it.

Oh, what is that I don’t even.

Look, St. Petersburg, if you want to be a place where gay people don’t feel safe enough to stick around, this is a really sub-par effort. Look to Uganda for an example. That’s how it’s done.

If you want to protect children from molestation, however, leaving them to grow up in orphanages is probably not making them any safer. Just a thought.

 

Bed-Crapping: Not just for individual authors!

Just when I thought my week was nothing but getting a stitch in my side from the treadmill of catching up with the work I missed last week, here comes Romance Writers Ink with their More Than Magic contest, in which they fabulously and hilariously show themselves as a pack of oblivious bigots. Romance Writers Ink is the Tulsa, OK chapter of Romance Writers of America, which is kind of a big deal in the publishing industry. According to the Guardian, RWI amended the rules of their More Than Magic contest this year to say:

– Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.

Now, those who don’t read romance novels, don’t hang out with a lot of people who read romance novels, and don’t keep up with publishing industry discussion may now be thinking, “Yeah, that’s unfortunate, but if it’s what their readers want…” No. This is not about responding to reader preferences. There is a major market for same-sex romance fiction. There are lots of people who are totally happy to pay money for novels about two men or two women falling in love and pleasuring each other. If RWI is trying to set their contest rules in a way that pleases everyone, this is a very strange way to go about it.

Why did they make this change? Kari Gregg got in touch with RWI, and this is what happened:

So…I emailed the contest organizer to ask why this change was enacted. The contest organizer replied that RWI chapter members were “uncomfortable” with accepting same-sex contest entries. “Same-sex was just too much.”

Yeah, you read that right.

Romance is defined by RWA as a love relationship between two individuals, but RWI has unilaterally redefined romance as existing between one man and one woman for MTM.

And at RWA headquarters, no one seems to be willing to do anything about that. Chapters, apparently, are allowed to run their contest as they see fit, limiting contest entries by category and genre as appropriate. The only problem with this response is that LGBT is not considered a category or genre by RWA. If you look at the categories and genres for which RWA’s national awards are separated into for Golden Heart and Rita contests (2011 winners list), you will not find a LGBT category. Because there isn’t one. LGBT stories are entered into GH/Rita in the Paranormal category. Or Historical. Or Romantic Suspense. Whatever category fits the story without regard to the gender or sexual orientation of the protagonists.

 
Again: all it takes is a little browsing around the Romance section of Amazon or Barnes & Noble to see how odd that “just too much” part is. This is not a genre that’s known for tiptoeing around easily offended sensibilities. Courtney Milan gives it to RWI with both barrels:

Apparently, it’s possible for the MTM contest to get entrants’ books in the hands of diverse judges from multiple RWA chapters who are comfortable with all types of romances and heat levels. You can write M/F erotica. You can write M/M/F. You can write about aliens from another planet who have tentacles, or barbed sexual organs. You can write degrading rapes. None of those things are barred from entry in the More than Magic contest, and if you write them, they’ll try to find judges who are predisposed to like your books.

But they won’t do that if you write same sex romance–even if it’s a sweet romance with no sexual contact whatsoever. No–when it comes to same sex romance, the fact that they might be able to identify judges in their chapter or outside of it who would be willing to read same sex entries and judge them fairly somehow becomes irrelevant. In that instance, the majority gets to say that those entries don’t belong.

 
Yes; barbed sexual organs. She did not just make that up. Meanwhile, RWI is uncomfortable with stories about two dudes or two gals getting together. Milan is also unsatisfied with RWA.

Others have taken a variety of tactics. They’ve written to RWA (who apparently sanctioned this nonsense). They’ve written to the contest directly. I suspect that writing to RWA and the contest will result in much handwringing–there’s nothing in the P&PM or the Bylaws that prevent this, not without stretching overly much. There’s nothing in the P&PM that prevents a chapter from barring interracial romance, either. What should prevent such things from happening–is good sense and common human decency.

While we can put pressure on RWA to create and maintain more egalitarian guidelines, RWA as an organization moves at a snail’s pace.

Here’s the thing: some people like to buy and read same-sex romance. Some people like to buy and read het romance but are totally uninterested in same-sex fiction. Might there be some romance readers who are so homophobic that they’ll ignore the contest’s output if same-sex entries are included? Possibly, but if so, they’ve been ignoring the contest for years already; this is a new development. However, there are a lot more readers who either do like same-sex fiction, or maybe are indifferent to the fiction itself but don’t take kindly to needless exclusion, and who are getting seriously pissed off about this, and RWI should have seen that coming. I find it really funny that they apparently didn’t.

It doesn’t end there, though.

In response to the outrage, RWI went ahead and cancelled the contest rather than change the rules back to their previous, non-homophobic stance.

The Tulsa organisation has now cancelled the competition, saying in a statement on its website that “we have heard and understood the issues raised, and will take those concerns into consideration should the chapter elect to hold contests in the future”.

“Please note: our contest coordinator, Jackie, is a chapter member who graciously volunteered to collect entries and sort by category. It is unfortunate that she has become the object of personal ridicule and abuse,” added RWI. “We recognise the decision to disallow same-sex entries is highly charged. We also opted not to accept YA entries. We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort.”

“We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort” roughly translates as “I CAN’T STOP MY HANDS FROM HITTING THIS KEYBOARD.”

And then they expect us to believe that they’re not bigoted against gays and lesbians, no, not at all, because they also disallow YA entries.

Hmm.

No.

There are different arguments to be made for refusing Young Adult fiction in a romance contest. One is quantity control: YA is very popular lately and everyone and their sister is joining in the fun, so keeping the contest limited to adult levels is a way to keep the number of entries at a manageable level. Another is that, since Young Adult really means high school kids, and the novels have to be written accordingly, it may be very tricky to judge romance novels intended for that audience. Excluding YA from the contest may be problematic, but it’s a very different type of exclusion than barring same-sex entries. Wrong answer, RWI.

The butthurt about People Being Mean on the Internet is just the icing on the cake. If Jackie didn’t have any say in setting the contest rules, then it is indeed unfortunate if she bore the brunt of the anger directed at RWI. That being the case, she should blame RWI for making the rules that got them on the shit list. If she was aware of how they had changed their rules before she agreed to coordinate the contest, then she probably should have thought about that before she painted the target sign on her back. The news that her feelings have been hurt, even if she’s not in a position of authority in this contest, isn’t going to quell anyone’s anger over this.

“I’m Rick Perry, and I fail at not parodying myself.”

Oh, now really.

Aside from the bald-faced lying like a cheap rug—no, Rick Perry, nobody is stopping you from openly celebrating Christmas! Just don’t do it in your capacity as a taxpayer-salaried public servant!—there’s the very not-subtle juxtaposition of “gays serving openly in the military” with the (fabricated) liberal encroachments on Christians’ freedom to worship. Once again cross-pollinating the Christian persecution complex with the majoritarian-American sense of entitlement, he’s transparently pitting his fellow travelers against The Rainbow Menace, making gay rights antithetical to freedom of religion.

I know that there are some people who will lap that shit up. The meme of gays as the enemy of Christians isn’t yet dead, but it’s putting him on the wrong side of history. For the younger generations—that is to say, those who will still be voting after Rick Perry and the rest of the GOP Clown Car bunch are dead—if you pit equality of civil rights for gays against Christianity, more and more people will chose the gays. Record numbers of Millennials are losing their religion because their churches have nothing to offer but hate.

Besides all that, it’s a crappy video. I could have chosen better background music. I do like the jacket, though. It’s very Jake Gyllenhaal meets Heath Ledger.

 

Mr. Frothy-Mix, the party of Lincoln no longer exists.

Ed Brayton shows us another fish in a barrel, which is Former Senator Frothy-Mix playing “Who’s the most homophobic of them all?” with his fellow clown car passengers.

“I have been a long-time advocate for states’ rights. However, I believe as Abraham Lincoln did – that states don’t have the rights to legalize moral wrongs.

“Mr. Cain, Congresswoman (Michele) Bachmann and Governor (Rick) Perry all believe 50 different definitions of marriage is fine, I strongly disagree and will continue fighting for traditional marriage between one man and woman.”

Right. The Emancipation Proclamation was just like a nationwide mandate that civil marriage be restricted to heterosexual couples. Of course.

Former Senator Santorum apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that keeping Teh Gheyz out of marriage is no longer the position of a majority of Americans. We want to hear more about jobs, healthcare, the foreign occupations, immigration, and so on. You’re not going to win a national election by going in front of a country that’s struggling to pay the bills and boasting of your commitment to making sure same-sex couples can’t get married. I mean, Herman Cain, for example, at least has a tax plan. It’s a bullshit tax plan, but he has some ideas about how government pays for itself, which is actually relevant for those of us who work a regular 40 hours a week. And here we have Santorum talking about how he’s going to end the scourge of marriage equality. It’s like he’s trying to out-cuckoo Crazy-Eyes Bachmann, and he just doesn’t have the charisma.

 

Get a room, heterosexuals.

Leisha Hailey and her partner were booted off a Southwest Airlines flight for smooching where other people could see them.

Leisha Hailey took to Twitter to call for a boycott of the carrier after a flight attendant told them other passengers had complained after witnessing the affection.

Her first tweet said: “I have been discriminated against.” She later added, “Since when is showing affection to someone you love illegal?”

Southwest Airlines Co. responded on its website that Hailey was approached “based solely on behavior and not gender.” The airline’s four-sentence response said passengers were characterizing the behavior as excessive.

A discussion followed on the flight, and the airline said it “escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground.”

Yeah, I think I know what happened.

Leisha and her girlfriend were making out while the plane was in the air—like heterosexual couples feel free to do in public spaces everywhere—and some passengers got all hot and bothered and complained to the flight attendants that there was ZOMG lesbian PDA going on. And, rather than tell those passengers to find something else to do with their time, unless they also make similar complaints about het couples sucking face where strangers can see them, which I’ll bet none of them do, the flight attendants told Ms. Hailey and her partner to knock it off because they were offending the bigots’ delicate sensibilities.

Since Ms. Hailey and partner declined to roll over like good little invisible perverts who stay in their room, make no noise and pretend they don’t exist, Southwest is now acting like it’s not because they’re a lesbian couple, oh not at all, it’s because the other passengers complained about them getting “excessive.”

I don’t like to see PDAs, either. I have had more than my fill of seeing man/woman couples standing on the Metro escalators with their arms wrapped around each other, often with their tongues in each others’ mouths, just letting it all hang out for all to see. I would like to be able to get from my home to my workplace and back again without being subjected to the slurping sounds of some dude and his girlfriend making out like their relationship would suffer irreparable damage if they didn’t nom on each other RIGHT THEN AND THERE. So many times, I’ve made my way to the end of the platform at Rosslyn to wait for the Orange Line, and found some entitled straight couple using the area like their own hotel room.

You see, heterosexual couples feel free to give each other tongue wherever they happen to be, and nobody complains.

One might get the impression that your org is all about self-promotion.

Listen, HRC, when a suburban LGBT group asks you to lend them a banner promoting MARRIAGE EQUALITY because they’re marching in their town’s Labor Day Parade at the last minute in order to balance out (read: PWN) a pro-patriarchy (I’m sorry: “protect marriage”) bunch from somewhere else in the state, it is really obnoxious to send them an HRC banner that has nothing to say about marriage.

If they carried your strictly HRC-promoting banner in the parade, it would sort of make them look like they’re just an affiliate of the HRC, as opposed to the neighbors of the people watching the parade. The message that you’re communicating to the group in question, meanwhile, is that you’re a pack of parasitic, self-promoting assholes. You wouldn’t want a nearby local LGBT group to think such a thing, now would you?

Fortunately, my Greenbelt-specific LGBT group had a banner with our name, and we had plenty of handmade signs to carry in the parade, so there was no need to provide free ad space to the HRC. By the time we reached the judges’ stand, our contingent had swelled to about 100 people carrying pro-equality signs, walking dogs, corralling children, and generally looking very colorful, happy and engaged in the event.

The protect-marriage bunch paraded around teenagers in wedding costumes, just in case they weren’t gross enough already. They got booed.