Double Anniversary

This photograph appeared in the front page of ...

This photograph appeared in the front page of The New York Daily News on Sunday, June 29, 1969, showing the “street kids” who were the first to fight with the police. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which began on June 28, 1969. It was a watershed moment for LGBT persons- when a few people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City decided they weren’t going to be pushed around anymore by a bullying city police force.

It was the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement. A movement which, I believe, has culminated in more progress in the last three years under the Obama Administration than it has in the last forty. Marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in some states and sovereign nations; partners’ rights upheld; local non-discrimination ordinances; repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell; passing of the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act; enormous Pride celebrations all over the land…. Much of the credit goes to activists all across the country whose tireless efforts against second-class citizenship have been rewarded by a population who now often sees discrimination against LGBT persons as archaic, draconian and just plain mean. The 5,000 people participating in Montana Pride 2012 among them.

We have a lot to be proud of, but this is no moment to rest on our laurels. The Montana Republicans may have removed the homosexual criminalization plank from their platform, but it was hardly touted as a move for equality:

According to state Rep. Keith Regier, who chaired the party’s crime committee at its convention last weekend that ultimately voted to remove the line, people were having a tough time getting the nuances of the law and subsequent court cases.

While the court’s decision in 1997 “addressed homosexuality between consenting adults,” Regier said in an e-mail, “it is still illegal with concern to solicitation, children, etc.”

“There has been confusion with this issue,” he said. “I felt the committee wanted to just remove the homosexual reference because of the confusion it caused as it was worded.”

But he added that “Removal of the reference to homosexual behavior does not mean Republicans condone that behavior.”

Like I said- not concerned with equality at all. Don’t get me wrong: I’m delighted it’s gone- but Montana Republicans have a long way to go to prove that they stand for equality- chief among them is taking the obsolete sodomy law of the books during the next legislative session. Oh, and not making homophobic ignorant remarks during testimony.

Sigh.

Oh, and the double anniversary? Today is the 21st anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Ironic, huh?

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.

Tracy Morgan And Montana

You may have heard that actor Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) mentioned in his stand up act in Nashville Tennessee that if his son were gay, he would “pull out a knife and stab” him.

Of course, GLAAD and HRC were all over him, as were many in the LGBT and the mainstream media. And Morgan later apologized.

So what does Tracy Morgan have to do with the State of Montana?

Well, Montana got away with it.

Both the actor’s statements and the official Montana Republican Party Platform plank calling for the criminalization of The Gays are equally offensive to me. Morgan’s statement much like the Montana GOP sends a clear and dangerous message to gay and lesbian youth: You are not our equal. You are criminally offensive.

Tracy Morgan is one man, the Montana GOP represents a whole STATE.

So, where was GLAAD? Where was HRC? Where were the Log Cabin Republicans? Where was our local media?

Just another reason to not renew my HRC membership this year. To the big LGBT rights organizations, it seems, Montana doesn’t matter.

We’re collateral damage.

 

 

 

Newsflash! MT GOP Hates Human Rights (and LGBT People)

It’s been a rough few weeks for LGBT persons in Montana.

I testified at the legislature (with many of my brothers and sisters) against HB 516 which would overturn (perhaps even unconstitutionally) the right of cities and towns to enact their own anti-discrimination legislation. It passed out of committee- despite the amazingly logical arguments against it.

And Senate Bill 276, introduced by Tom Facey would have brought the criminal code into line with the judiciary- in effect aligning the language with the law, by removing the language of the deviate conduct laws which criminalize sexual behavior between consenting adults of the same gender. Bringing the language of the law in line with legal precedent. A no-brainer, right?

Sigh. Not for these Republican legislators. It just got worse. The hearing had some of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard– much less to be spoken publicly by elected officials. The Billings Gazette had this to say:

Also turned back was a plan to get rid of a state law making gay sex subject to criminal penalties — even though the courts have ruled it unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Republicans, in a 13-7 vote, stacked up against the idea of removing from the books the law offensive to the gay community, which has argued over the years that the antiquated law sends a hostile message.

But House Republicans stuck with their party’s platform that calls for keeping the anti-gay law, even though many Senate Republicans had supported the idea in sending it to the other chamber.

“Voting to say this should stay on the books is truly a cruel act,” said Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula. “When you cast that vote you said that I and other members of this Legislature who are gay or lesbian should go to prison for up to 10 years for whom I love. Don’t come up to me later and say you are sorry.”

The Montana GOP has made things very clear- they don’t give a shit about human rights, they don’t give a shit about science and they don’t give a shit about gay people. In fact, they hate them. The only reason not to pass this bill was to slap the faces- repeatedly- of Montana LGBT persons. The only reason. That’s hate.

The plank that still stands in the Montana GOP Platform that promotes the criminalization of “homosexual” acts, I argued before, is anachronistic and hateful and should be removed.

I’ve changed my mind.

It should stay because that’s exactly what they believe. That kind of ridiculous hate and intolerance is exactly what the GOP legislators have sanctioned, promoted and supported. I thought that out of deference to some amazingly open Republican Montanans I know (and am related to) that this kind of thing could be avoided- that the official government of Montana would not tell LGBT kids that they are less valuable than others, that it wouldn’t keep LGBT adults living under the specter of vilification, intolerance and second-class citizenship.

I was wrong.

The MT GOP is intolerant and anti-gay. Period. And the people of Montana need to know that- without equivocation.

So, if you’re a Republican-leaning Montanan and you’re saying to yourself, “These legislators are crazy, they don’t speak for me,” you’re wrong. They do. And if you don’t follow the same ignorant, bigoted stance they are taking, you need to speak up.

Immediately.

And maybe consider leaving the party of bigotry and ignorance. Because, like it or not, the Montana Democrats are the only people standing united for human rights.

And if you’re an LGBT person who is still a Republican, the only thing I can (honestly) say is “Why? They hate you. Do you hate yourself?”

Because- mark my words, it’s just going to get worse.

Enough is Enough. Isn’t It?

According to Wulfgar it is. I missed this when I was fighting with my internets the past two days. Still so worth reading.

Excerpt:

But, simply put, the Montana online right is getting to the point that even I can’t read them any more.  That’s a sad admission coming on a sad afternoon after many such sad afternoons.  It’s also very true.  The same old lies, the same old ignorance.  It’s kinda pointless.

…It’s pretty obvious at this point that the Montana GOP doesn’t give a flying shit about jobs, or Montana, or even a balanced budget.  And the only thing coming from the Montana “Dextra” is the sad soft whine that these people should be more what they want and less what they don’t want.

Oh, yes, he did.
Read the rest here.

Tired of the Montana Legislature?

So am I.
I’m waiting for them to outlaw the internet.

But if you want some hope-renewing perspective, Matt Singer has it. Excerpt:

There’s a really funny dynamic setting up in Helena that can be seen from afar (a 30,000 foot perspective really can be useful at times). The tea party Republicans, having run and won on a platform of limited government and economic development, are largely dedicating themselves toinvasions of personal freedom and the advancement of pre-Civil War legal theories. That’s when they’re not undertaking full-fledged assaults on the U.S. Constitution.

Full heartwarming story here -and explanation of the graphic.
I heart Matt Singer.

And, of course, Cowgirl’s stirring the shit as always. I heart her, too.

 

2010- When Official Republican Persecution and Bigotry Went Unchecked

For me, 2010 is/was about Republican political shaming of The Gays. The Montana GOP approved a platform which included this blatant piece of ignorance and bigotry:

We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.

And, despite the fuss I made, that others made,  the discomfort from one Montana Republican leader (no leader of the Democrats said a word), the platform plank is still there. No one really paid much attention. Despite my letters to elected officials, to the Log Cabin Republicans, to advocacy groups, no one really paid much attention. fact, I only got one lukewarm response- from GLAAD. The issue got mentioned a few times- including once by Rachel Maddow, then it seems, was forgotten.

It’s sad. It’s even more sad when you figure the Texas GOP into the equation. They, too have a “Jail The Gays” plank.

Why can’t we get it together?

I tried to make the case that “Montana Matters“- a few nibbles, a few more voices added to the chorus, but still, nothing changed. I’m not sure I should be surprised, but it doesn’t keep me from being disappointed. I want us to be better than that. I want the LGBT community to speak out against this with one voice. I want Republican allies and Log Cabin Republicans to take a stand. I want straight allies and parents of LGBT children to speak up. I want Democrats to see this for what it is: blatant persecution and bigotry- and do something about it. I want to live in a world- or at least a state, where ugliness and hate don’t win- not even one round.

I know. As my mother says “..and people in hell want ice water.”

But they won this one. Again, I remind you, nothing changed. That plank is still there. In both states. Despite the amazing victories we’ve had this year, despite the DADT repeal, despite the increased awareness of anti-LGBT bullying, despite the increased polling numbers for same-sex marriage, despite the popularity of Glee- institutionalized homophobia is alive and well.

They got away with it. 

My resolution for 2011 is this: I will work to bring liberty and justice for all- even in the so-called “flyover” states. Because this phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t true yet. Because the erosion of our humanity is happening right in front of our noses- and I find it troubling, offensive, perverse and distinctively Un-American.

Don’t you?