Catholics And The “Kill The Gays” Bill

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Uganda’s infamous “Kill the Gays” bill, which would impose the death penalty on certain people convicted of having sexual relations with a person of the same sex, seems poised for passage soon.

The Associated Press reports that Rebecca Kadaga (pictured, left), Uganda’s Parliamentary Speaker, announced yesterday that the bill will be going forward for a vote in the next few weeks:

“Ugandans ‘are demanding it,’ she said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of ‘the serious threat’ posed by homosexuals to Uganda’s children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as ‘a Christmas gift.’

“ ‘Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation,’ the activists said in a petition. ‘We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.’ ”

report in The Advocate notes that the bill can be put to a vote in a matter of two weeks.

news story in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News provides some background on the criminal status of homosexuality in Uganda, as well as what the proposed law would mandate:

“Even without the law, Uganda already has laws that criminalize homosexuality and is one of 76 countries where it is illegal to be gay. The proposed law would broaden existing laws, and includes the death penalty to those convicted of aggravated homosexuality and life imprisonment for those convicted of the offense of homosexuality.

“Aggravated homosexuality is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders.

“Offense of homosexuality is defined as same-sex sexual acts or being involved in a same-sex relationship.”

Shamefully silent on this bill have been the Catholic bishops of Uganda, a heavily Catholic nation.  Indeed, earlier this summer it was reported that the Catholic bishops reversed their position from quiet opposition to the bill to outright support for it.

Catholic leaders in the U.S. have spoken in opposition to the bill, including Ambassador Thomas P. Melady, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.  President Barack Obama has called the bill “odious.”

More Catholic voices will be needed to defeat this horrendous law.  Indeed, in July Ugandan LGBT rights advocatescalled on the international community, including religious leaders, to lend their voices to oppose the bill.

Catholic bishops here in the United States and Vatican leaders in Rome need to lend their voices to international opposition to the proposed law.  Silence is not an option at this point.  Too many innocent lives hang in the balance.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Steve Bullock Just Lost My Vote

Here’s why. From an article in Montana’s Lee newspapers on gubernatorial candidates and social issues:

The nine candidates were asked whether they favored changing Montana’s constitution to allow gay couples and lesbian couples to marry.

Miller opposed such a change, noting that 67 percent of Montanans voted in 2004 to say that “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.”

Hill, Livingston and Lynch, all Republicans, said, “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Bullock said, “I do not favor changing the constitution but would support legislative measures giving committed same-sex couples the opportunity to be together, free from discrimination.” This would include allowing a person to visit his or her partner in the hospital, he said.

Stapleton said he would oppose amending the constitution for that purpose, adding, “I think it’s healthy we support and cherish the traditional family.”

O’Hara said he would not change the constitution, adding: “I think our constitution adequately protects the lives of Montanans.”

Fanning said the ban on gay marriage should stand: “I believe that the sanctity of the family is the core of our society.”

Standing alone among all candidates, Margolis said it makes simple common sense to change the Montana Constitution to allow gay or lesbian couples to marry or form civil unions.

“The Montana Constitution guarantees fair and equal treatment to all people,” she said. “People should not be discriminated against, including gay and lesbian couples.”

I have to say I’m very disappointed in Steve Bullock. Ironically, he apparently is unaware of the pain and suffering of LGBT persons in his state because of legislative discrimination (including a sodomy law still on the books)- or he’s unwilling to acknowledge us in the face of staying safe and winning votes. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has done some amazing things, like already (2 years ago) extending LGBT partner visitation rights in most hospitals. What has Steve Bullock done for us lately ever? Not much. I’m taking the Bullock sticker off of my car.

At this point, my primary vote is going to Margolis.

Yeah, it’s that important.

Update: My Dissent Explained

HT:JG
Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/most-in-gop-governor-s-race-want-to-restrict-abortion/article_4988a480-9338-11e1-ab41-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1tikfD2MI

The Voice Of Injustice Is Silence

I’ve been asked by a number of people where I got the tagline for this blog.
It came from a poem I wrote a few years back- and I honestly don’t think I stole it. Many things go through a writer’s brain between thought and writing- at least this writer- and I am never really satisfied when I read on of my published poems. I guess that’s why I keep writing them….

Still

It is time to open your mouth
And shape the sounds that give form
To the deathless moans of pain and suffering.
Because the voice of injustice is silence.

It is the industrial silence of the corporate owners
of the soul of America.
The owner of the rape victim
Has turned out to be the rapist,
who nurtures its growing fetus
with anger and guns,
With temples and sugar and crack.

It happens because it is
Purchased with favors
And scratched backs
And pretended piety.
The silence of fear,
Of the voiceless ones
Who see no Jesus in their
Cornflakes- only the one meal of
Their lonely, silent day.

“Keep them down and quiet,”
the fools say,
Because their money blinds them to
Moral bankruptcy and stupidity
And their power-drunk ears
Are closed to their own heartbeats.

But the voices will wake,
Sleepy maybe, at first,
But rested and ready.
They and the very stones will
scream, shouting from
The driveways of the country clubs
And the walls of the churches and schools
And Capitols, “Enough!”

It will be.
And the peace will not be a quiet peace.
It will be real and full of the sounds of
Life.
Unpurchased and awake.

Dirty Dancing Exposed

Hot on the heels of my Dirty Dancing post yesterday, Charles Johnson of the Lee State Bureau (Billings Gazette, Missoulian, Independent Record, Montana Standard, Ravalli Republic) has posted an article outlining the complaints against House Judiciary Chair Ken Peterson, R-Billings. Excerpt:

Advocates for civil rights, human rights and abortion rights say they aren’t getting a fair shake from House Judiciary Chairman Ken Peterson, R-Billings, at public hearings.

They are critical of Peterson’s fairness in scheduling and running hearings, his limiting the ability of people to testify or at least state their names, and his failing to stop representatives or witnesses from making inflammatory comments such as calling abortion providers murderers and homosexuality an abomination.

For his part, Peterson, serving his fourth term in the Montana House of Representatives, defended how he runs the committee and dismissed the criticisms.

“I would say they’re absolutely wrong,” he said. “I try to be fair to everybody. That’s my goal. I’m an attorney. I know it’s very important that all parties be treated the same.”

Au contraire!

Johnson’s article continues with numerous examples complaints of unfair treatment from Planned Parenthood,  Civil Liberties Union of Montana and the Montana Human Rights Network- all known organizations that Republicans fear and despise. The shenanigans on display by the Judiciary leadership provides an opportunity for Republicans to use code words to invoke a familiar response to their followers, making over  these human rights groups into bogeymen, conjuring up terror in the hearts of the ignorant and easily led. More:

“The chair is shutting down public comment, he’s shutting down hearings on bills that are life-and-death situations for Montanans,” (Stacy) Anderson (of Planned Parenthood of Montana) said, adding, “I think the civility has degraded, and I think some of the questions to people are degrading.”

…One committee member, Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, said she believes Peterson violated House rules by not allowing people to come to the podium and at least state their name and their positions on four bills. She said she couldn’t recall this happening before, but figured out a way around it by reading to the committee the names on the sign-in sheet and having people stand as she called their names.

“It only takes a few minutes for people to stand and say their name,” Sands said. By not allowing people that courtesy, she said, “it shows disrespect to those people and to the legislative process.”

Diane Sands- a giant in Montana human rights as far as I’m concerned, is a shrewd and yet firmly convicted politician who has served this state- well beyond her constituency-with passion, distinction and strength. She’s well worth listening to. And Johnson’s article is worth reading in its entirety.

Maybe twice.

And Carol Williams, D-Missoula’s response for those of you who haven’t seen it: