Guest Editorial: Because Our Children Are Watching

By Brody Levesque | BETHESDA, MARYLAND -

Exactly what is wrong with the human body? On second thought- no – let me rephrase the question; Exactly why does the American Public feel so repulsed by the human body in its unclothed form?
Granted, I’m an adult gay man who, while I admire the female form, I am not sexually stimulated nor do I find it quite as erotic as the male form. But, and here’s the caveat and in full disclosure and honesty, as there’s an obesity pandemic here in the United States- serious obesity problem – that quite frankly limits the numbers of human forms walking around I would consider pleasant to look at au natural.
Even so- there are some very nice male & female forms out running around which brings me to today’s subject; Anti-Porn Groups Urge Boycott of NBC’s new fall show ‘Playboy Club.’
According to Patrick A. Trueman, president of Morality in Media, a faith-based group in New York that fights porn in the media;
“The TV series will “contribute to the sexual objectification and exploitation of women and encourage greater acceptance of pornography.”
The Parents Television Council’s president Timothy F. Winter wrote to NBC saying:
“Putting a veneer of sophistication on an industry that exploits women and destroys families is not laudable, it is disgraceful. Whatever positive spin you may wish to put on the series, it is undeniably a betrayal of the trust you have built over the years with America’s families — the owners of the broadcast airwaves that you will be using to force this content into the living rooms of every family in your community.”
He then added
“In what manner does the airing of such material reconcile with your public interest obligations as a broadcast licensee?”
An executive at NBC Studios in Burbank, California, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me that ‘The Playboy Club’ series is based on the actual Playboy Club in Chicago, which became one of the busiest nightclubs in the nation during the 1960s. The show follows the drama that unfolds between Chicago’s powerful political and business movers and shakers who frequent the club and the scantily-clad Playboy ‘bunnies’ that wait on the men there.
Playboy magazine and empire founder Hugh Hefner did a voiceover for one of the first episodes of the show, describing the Playboy Club as a place “where everything was perfect, where life was magic, where the rules were broken and fantasies became realities for everyone who walked in the doors.
“It wasn’t the 50s anymore … and that was my kingdom. It was the place where dreams came true.”
According to my NBC source, the network calls the show “a provocative new drama about a time and place that challenged the social mores.”
Here’s the thing- look at the following picture:
Photo Courtesy of NBC-Universal Productions

I’ve seen MUCH less clothing both sexes on shows such as the old ‘Baywatch’ series and some of the reality shows that have invaded broadcast primetime in the past few years. In fact, I’d cite CBS’s Big Brother & Survivor as notable examples.

Oh, and shows on cable? Yeah, right, oh please don’t get me started.
But the PTC and their allies want assurances that no minor in the United States will ever lay eyes on the shocking sight of a woman in a satin swimsuit outfit and bunny ears. Because goddess knows, that is just the most scandalous thing thing ever! (Nothing worse than that is available to today’s kids with a few clicks of a mouse on the internet.)
In fact- I have researched this subject previously and the majority of kids today are internet savvy to the point of making the adults/parents/guardians look pretty silly.  Lets get Net nanny software? Today’s kids can find Anime of Bambi getting buggered by Thumper and having then the subject of *gasp* human flesh revealed? The PTC & company are pretty clueless, just ask any police agency or district attorney that’s arresting children for taking nudie pics of themselves on their mobile phones and “sexting” each other.
The Coalition for the War on Illegal Pornography, a coalition of more than 70 smaller groups (which includes Focus on the Family, Morality In Media, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women For America) told the Deseret News:
“NBC is now contributing to and encouraging a highly dangerous sexualized culture as they stoop further into the gutter for programming and profits.”
The rabidly ant-gay folks at the Florida Family Association — the group that flew a banner warning people about Gay Day at Disney World last month, have joined the war against NBC over the show, according to ChristianPost.com. The FFA warns that it intends to document all the advertisers of the show and publicise the names of those companies online and in emails to its base and like minded Christonut organisations.
God forfend that these people ever travel to Europe where nudity doesn’t even raise an eyebrow and there’s more tits, ass, and penis on commercials broadcast round the clock on regular television- not just cable- than online in porno sites.
Americans are their own worst enemies at times. Mind you, I think it’s genetic at times. They are, in some cases, descended from the Puritans, who in turn brought Americans the Salem witchhunt and whom even the English were only too happy to get rid of.
These folk are just plain morality morons and like the bumper sticker I spotted the other day states: “The Christian ‘Right’ Is Neither.”

Majority of Montana Voters Support Same-Sex Domestic Partnerships

 

No, seriously- Welcome!

I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but a newly released poll shows that a majority of voters in Montana support domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. That poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the American Civil Liberties Union, found that 53 percent of Montana voters favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into domestic partnerships.

“Support of same-sex domestic partnerships is growing, and now we can quantify what our day-to-day interactions with people are telling us,” said ACLU of Montana LGBT Advocacy Coordinator Ninia Baehr. “It’s heartening to know that people understand that every loving and committed couple who pays taxes in our state deserves fairness.”

The change in attitude mirrors an increase in the number of same-sex couples in Montana reporting their households to the U.S. Census Bureau. Recently released numbers show 2,295 same-sex households in the 2010 Census – a 54 percent jump since 2000.

Key Highlights of 2011 Polling

  • Most Montanans favor domestic partnership. By a 13 point margin, voters in Montana favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into domestic partnerships – 53 percent favor, 40 percent oppose. There is more intensity among those who favor; 35 percent strongly favor, while 29 percent strongly oppose.
  • More than half of Catholics (55 percent) favor domestic partnerships, including 36 percent who strongly favor allowing domestic partnerships. This measure also wins the support of nearly half (47 percent) of seniors, a majority of older women (54 percent), and blue collar women (52 percent).
  • Support for domestic partnerships seems to be increasing. A 2008 survey conducted by Lake Research Partners asked voters a four-part question asking them to choose between traditional marriage, marriage with another name, civil unions, and no legal recognition. The survey found that 33 percent of Montanans thought that gay and lesbian couples should have the same right to marry as straight couples, or should have the same right to marry but it should not be called marriage.2
  • Voters recognize discrimination against gays and lesbians. A 47 percent plurality believe gay people in Montana face a lot of discrimination; only 38 percent think that gays and lesbians in the state do not face much discrimination.

People understand that the lack of legal recognition of same-sex relationships leaves couples extremely vulnerable. In Montana examples of unfairness toward same-sex couples include a woman who was denied bereavement leave when her partner’s father died, and another woman who lost her home because she was ineligible for worker’s compensation death benefits when her partner was killed in an accident.

“Same-sex couples have told us time and again that they are meeting more and more people who sympathize with their plight,” said Baehr. “This polling reinforces the growing support those couples have been experiencing.”

While it’s not exactly marriage, I’ll take it. For now.

This shows the evolution of the Montana voter’s attitude is in favor of eventual, full equality-and this change in attitude has a cause. This is happening because more of us are simply visible as co-workers, neighbors, children, siblings and friends. We are not a threat, we’re just people.

I’m particularly impressed with the Catholics- and not surprised, really. This is about social justice for us- not particularly about morality. Even though the hierarchy is deeply out of touch on this issue, this is a reminder that the sense of the people in the pews is leading the church here. My mother would have agreed- I know the rest of my Catholic family does.

In the eyes of Montanans, “The Gays” are slowly changing from scary bogeymen into recognizable human beings. Never underestimate the power unleashed by broken closet doors….

More info here.

Gays, Marriage Polls, Jesus and Sally Kern

From the Washington Post:

As New York gears up for its second weekend of same-sex nuptials, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans split 50 to 46 percent over whether the state’s law legalizing such unions is a positive or negative outcome. Reactions to the new legislation — like support for legalizing gay marriage in general — range tremendously across generational, political and religious lines.

Americans have grown increasingly accepting of same-sex marriage over the past decade, according to surveys by The Post and ABC,Gallup, the Pew Research Center and others. The public opposed legalizing gay and lesbian unions by a 58 to 36 percent margin in 2006, but the new Post-ABC poll finds a slight majority — 51 percent — saying such marriages should be legal.

New Yorkers- and Americans in general are increasingly favoring marriage equality.  A majority of Montanans now favor domestic partnerships. It’s becoming more clear that there is no threat from the “Gay Menace”. In fact, Virginia, there is no Gay Menace- and no threat.

It is worth noting, however, that the biggest statistical groups who view marriage equality as “Negative” come from “Conservative Republicans” (71%) and “White Evangelical Protestants” (71%).

Most of the weird, anti-gay vitriol comes from “conservatives” (notable exception: Ruben Diaz). The ignorant and hateful things Montana legislators have said on record have been well-documented here and on other sites (not so much in the Montana newspapers) and, you guessed it- they come from elected Republicans.

I have also noticed an element of religious righteousness when the conversation takes place with many “conservatives” whether in person, on tv or the radio. Maybe you’ve noticed it, too. I heard it last night on CNN when some Congressional Representatives had to go “pray about” the debt ceiling vote. Now I’m all for prayer, but they seem to be forgetting Matthew 6.5-6…. The point I’m struggling to make here, is that there is an element here that will not give in- not to science, not to reason, not to compassion, not to anything but radical fundamentalism. For them, that would be abandoning God’s Word- and for a fundamentalist/biblical literalist that means Hell- the ultimate fear meme. It’s that faction that concerns me. And it seems to be safely ensconced in the Republican Party.

A perfect example is Oklahoma Republican legislator Sally Kern, who had this to say about gay persons on July 27th:

To me what is hateful is when those people who say ‘you’re born this way, there’s no hope in change, you’re stuck in this, deal with it,’ that is hate. There’s no hope in that…

We’re losing our freedom of conscience. And if the homosexuals get what they want, and as you said it’s not just homosexuality, its immorality or adultery, all of that, but in my opinion the homosexual movement is the tip of the spear. They’re the ones who right now are beating down the door, have their foot in the door, trying to tear down the moral fiber of America. We have to stand up to that. The reason it’s the tip of the spear- you don’t see ‘Adulterers Victory Fund’ out there trying to promote adultery. God’s people got to stand up to this. (emphasis mine)

Here’s what’s disturbing to me about this: She can say these ignorant, hateful things in public, under the protection of free speech-and feel righteous and supported in doing so. Without serious repercussions from her party or other conservatives. In fact, they’ve been portraying themselves as victims. (seriously, watch this) I would love to hear an elected conservative make an “It Gets Better” video. None have done so. I would love to hear the uproar from thoughtful conservatives against the unreasonable lines of thought and logic. It doesn’t happen. Maybe a few gasping voices- but no uproar. That’s a fact.

I don’t want to bash- it’s not productive, but I do want to ask the question: Where are the reasonable voices for equality in the Republican Party? Why don’t we hear from them as much as Sally Kerns or Ann Coulter?

I have strong feelings about Christian Fundamentalism. I am firmly convinced that the enormous richness of scripture- and the whole Christian Tradition- becomes diluted with simplistic personal interpretations and wanton literalism. The Bible is a complex and varied collection of documents and literature- it is not to be simplistically reduced to quick and glib personal statements. Broad themes can be construed, yes, but not without a great deal of thought and research. And most scripture scholars would agree.

I have spent a great deal of my life studying the words and works of Jesus Christ. I have read the Bible- a lot. I have studied scholarly interpretations of scripture and worked with experts in the field- I have three degrees in theology, in fact- and I have never, not once, found a reason to believe Jesus would ever condone this sort of ignorant, non-loving nonsense. That’s not the Jesus I know and love. That particular Jesus is a creation of very frightened, and perhaps even, unenlightened people.

The real Jesus was interested in showing the love of God. He lived for mercy, justice and peace. He died for compassion and integrity and truth. I believe he’s interested in my truth. Not only interested but invested in it. And my truth is this: I am a man who simply wants to love and be loved according to my created, inborn nature- an inborn nature I spent years questioning, examining and reflecting upon.

That’s all. It’s quite simple really. I’m just asking the world to trust the reality of my experience. Arguably, the people I’m speaking of could say the same thing- but I would argue that they’ve abandoned experience in favor of biblical literalism.

There’s also this difference between us: my worldview doesn’t condemn anyone else to eternal fire and damnation. It doesn’t threaten anyone else at all, really. People like Sally Kern may think they’re being threatened, but I think they’re just scared- too scared to look at the reality of life with open hearts. Their hearts are set in stone- immovable, inflexible, afraid.

That’s not the way I want my heart to be. I want it to be open and accepting and generous and kind. I’m happy to let other people give love and receive love wherever they can. Without limits. Because that’s how I believe it works best.

And the good thing? The American People are starting to think so, too.

Report: LGBT Workplace Discrimination Common- High Impact On Performance And Health

Today, The Williams Institute released a report summarizing academic studies and other documented evidence of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the negative impact such discrimination has on lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people.  Although sexual orientation and gender identity have no relationship to workplace performance, during the past four decades a large body of research using a variety of methodologies has consistently documented high levels of discrimination against LGBT people at work. 

“This research shows that LGBT employees who have experienced employment discrimination, or fear discrimination, have higher levels of psychological distress and health-related problems, less job satisfaction and higher rates of absenteeism, and are more likely to contemplate quitting than LGBT employees who have not experienced or do not fear discrimination,” says Ilan Meyer, study co-author and Williams Institute Senior Scholar of Public Policy.

Results from the 2008 GSS provide recent evidence of discrimination from one of very few national probability surveys that have collected data about sexual orientation and workplace discrimination.  Among LGB respondents to the survey, 42% had experienced employment discrimination at some point in their lives, and 27% had experienced employment discrimination just during the five year period prior to the survey.

GSS data further show that employment discrimination is more common among LGB employees who are open about their sexual orientation in the workplace than among those who are not—38% of employees who are out in the workplace had experienced discrimination in the five year period prior to the survey, compared with 10% of those who are not out.

This new data shows that it’s still risky to come out about being LGBT in the workplace, “says study co-author Christy Mallory, Legal Fellow.  “Therefore, it’s not surprising that the GSS data also show that one-third of LGB employees are not open about their sexual orientation to anyone at work.”

These results are consistent with findings from other recent studies that reveal a continuing pattern of employment discrimination against LGBT people.  In several studies from 2010 and 2011 that report data on transgender people separately, the rates of discrimination are even higher.

“Recent studies show that pervasiveness of discrimination against transgender people in the hiring process,”   says Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears.   “The devastating results of this discrimination are confirmed by the high rates of poverty and unemployment documented in the transgender community.”

Recent research also reveals the negative impacts of discrimination against LGBT people.  Because of discrimination, and fear of discrimination, many LGBT employees hide their identities, are paid less and have fewer employment opportunities than non-LGBT employees.

Bottom line: “Research shows that LGBT employees who have experienced employment discrimination, or fear discrimination, have higher levels of psychological distress and health-related problems, less job satisfaction and higher rates of absenteeism, and are more likely to contemplate quitting than LGBT employees who have not experienced or do not fear discrimination,” says Ilan Meyer, Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy.   “In contrast, supervisor, coworker, and organizational support for LGB employees was found to have a positive impact on employees in terms of job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and outness at work.” 

The full report may be found here.

(cue music) “Moon Rehberg…”

Over at Montana Cowgirl, it’s reported that Montana’s Lone Congressdude is scraping the bottom of the barrel to try and bolster public opinion in the wake of his refusal to avert financial crisis. His idea of credible journalism? The Washington Times- not really a bastion of anything but propaganda- founded and owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. From Wikipedia:

At the time of founding of the Times Washington had only one major newspaper, the Washington PostMassimo Introvigne, in his 2000 book The Unification Church, said that the Post had been “the most anti-Unificationist paper in the United States.”[8] In 2002, at an event held to celebrate the Times’ 20th anniversary, Moon said: “The Washington Times is responsible to let the American people know about God” and “The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world.”[1]

Creepy.

Does Rehberg really think that none of us out here are following his offhand remarks? That we’re not checking his facts, sources and claims?

While we realize that the major newspapers aren’t known for being critical of The Congressdude, that doesn’t mean that the yokels back home are just taking his word for things.

We can’t afford to. Check it out.

From Canadia- A Wake-up Call?

From Gawker, an hysterically sarcastic take on the debt crisis.

From Canadia, the most salient- and sarcastic- comment to the above referenced article, which I will reprint in case you don’t have time to check out the entire piece:

Friendly note from your Canadian Gawker Commenters:

Canada is full. We’re not taking any more of you deadbeat Yankees with your worthless greenbacks – we’re still trying to clear out the Kerry/Edwards ’04 refugee camps in Niagara. There’s also growing concern that Tea Party sleeper cells are entering Canada through our porous southern border. We can barely tolerate Ford Nation as it is, it’s time to shut the border to prevent these conservatives from producing anchor babies.

Thanks for 197 years of peace, and thanks for your Mexican insulation properties.

Regards,

Your former hat.

PS – While you were busy plunging your nation into financial ruin, we helped ourself to northern Maine and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We noticed you weren’t really using them, and these tropical locations will serve as excellent winter getaways when Edmonton descends into its normal frozen hell state.

Brilliant.

I love Canadia. That’s why I call it Canadia- it’s full of Canadians.

And I love them.

Jesus Left Room For Same Sex Marriage- And New York Moved In

Kathy gives us more food for though in her journey to counter Christianists with common sense, biblical scholarship and (gasp) love:

What if clever, see-into-the-future Jesus, right there in Matthew 19, were saying to the disciples, “There are some people that do not fit into your husband/wife understanding of marriage, nor will they in the future. There will be some who cannot be confined by that one man + one woman dynamic, nor is this model given for them.”

“Don’t be messin’ with the Biblical model of marriage,” you may caution me. “Right there in Genesis 2:24 it says ‘a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.’ Right there.” Well, the Hebrew word translated to “shall” in many translations is best translated in the imperfect tense as “will”. Some men will leave father and mother and join with a woman. And, according to Jesus, some will not fit the mold. For them, the model will not work.

The term “Biblical Marriage” in itself is interesting. Shelves in Christian bookstores are filledwith advice instructing us how to live out the perfect “Biblical marriage”.  I suggest that our contemporary norm for marriage is the cultural adaptation of Biblical principles that have evolved over the past two centuries. Do I want a marriage mimicking that of the average woman of Jesus day (or prior)? Do I, as a woman, want to be treated as property, told who to marry or be one of many in a stable of cuties? No.

Actually, hell no.

Read it all here.

Norwegian Lesbian Couple Hailed As Heroes

From SDGLN:

A lesbian couple may have saved as many as 40 lives last Friday during the Norway massacre, according to news reports.

Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen are being hailed as heroes for piloting their boat to Utoya island on four trips as a heavily armed gunman was mowing down dozens of children at a camping outing.

HS.fi reported that the lesbian couple were “eating supper in the camping area opposite Utoya island when they started hearing gunshots and screaming.” It said the women rescued people who had jumped into the water to escape the gunman’s bullets.

Anders Behring Breivik confessed to the massacre and to the earlier bomb attack in Oslo that killed seven people, yet has pleaded not guilty in court. Prosecutors say the suspect is a right-wing Christian extremist who is anti-Muslim.

INSPIRING

The death of Amy Winehouse has pulled a lot of press. But the reaction that touched me deeply was from someone unexpected- Russell Brand:

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.

His amazing essay (which should be required reading for anyone even remotely associated with the reality of addiction) is here.

At the very least, please read the last paragraph. It’s powerful.