Dear Brian Browns of the world….

With everything that has been written about the oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court case challenging California’s Proposition 8 (spoiler alert: Prop 8 will most likely be a thing of the past), I’d like to take  a different approach and address the haters…….of the LGBT community, specifically those who frequently bring religion into the equation.

Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), recently compared same-sex marriage to slavery. He is one of many on the far religious right who have, for years, demonized and insulted members of the LGBT community. People like the American Family Association’s (AFA) Bryan Fischer and the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Tony Perkins have consistently outdone themselves in a sick game of who can say the most outrageous and degrading things about gays and lesbians. According to bigots like them, gays and lesbians are perverts, degenerates, pedophiles, into bestiality, unhealthy, Nazis, and unfit to raise children. Don’t believe me – simply visit the websites of these hate spewers.

Because actual  professionals in psychology, psychiatry, sociology and even biology long ago destroyed the many ridiculous arguments against homosexuality with reason, rationality and compassion, bigots like Brown and Perkins are left with using old-time, Hellfire and brimstone religion. However even that is becoming unacceptable as more and more religions and faiths move to accept members of the LGBT community just as they are. How do they respond: Homosexuality is wrong because sexist, homophobic, genocidal Bronze Age men said so!

To which I respond with this: If there really is a higher power, whether it is an actual being or energy force or what ever, I strongly suspect it does not care who I fall in love with just like it doesn’t care that women vote or people from different ethnic backgrounds marry. Your side of the argument has consistently used god and religion to fight against everything progressive, from the abolition of slavery to women’s rights and interracial marriage. What kind of deity punishes people with eternal damnation and suffering anyway?! What about the “God of Love?” The whole “You will burn in Hell for ________ (insert various actions)!” line is really getting old. Times change. Cultures change. The meaning behind words are in a constant state of change (Communication Theories 101). Religions, thankfully, also change.

If you still want to use hate, go right ahead; it’s a free country. However, here in the United States, there is separation of church and state. All citizens are seen as equal and are consitutionally guaranteed equality under the law. There’s a pretty big difference between consitutionally protected civil rights and religious doctrine. No one is coming or will come to your church and force you to marry same-sex couples. It’s not going to happen – get that myth and scare tactic out of your mind.

It is 2013 CE, not 2013 BCE. We don’t stone women and children and we no longer think Earth is the center of the known universe. America is not a theocracy, nor are its churches controlled by the state. It is time for your loud screaming and hate to go the way of Senator Joe McCarthy’s career – a disgraceful part of our history.

If you still cling to a brand of religious faith that preaches such hate and intolerance of everything different from it, that says something about your humanity (or lack thereof). The fact that there are countless compassionate, intelligent religious leaders and practitioners who accept their LGBT family, friends, doctors, lawyers, and coworkers just as they are delegitimizes your excuse for continuing to use religion as a tool to discriminate and oppress. Evolve or be left on the wrong side of history.

marriage equality

Dump Decency…for ‘Murica!

Last March (2012), after Starbucks backed a Washington state ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) organized a “Dump Starbucks” campaign in response during the annual shareholders’ meeting. The goal was to get closet-cases and people who despise the LGBT community to stop buying cups of coffee at Starbucks, which would cause Starbucks’ market value to tank until they recanted their support for equality. You could almost hear NOM’s Brian Brown say, “Mwahahaha!”

What was the economic effect of Dump Starbucks? Well, the NASDAQ, a barometer showing the health of the stock market, was already in the midst of a dip – it ended up dropping over four percent; Starbucks (“SBUX” as listed in the NASDAQ) only dropped a little over one percent. In other words, as “The New Civil Rights Movement” pointed out last year, the entire market took a little dip during that time and despite that, Starbucks remained strong. Speaking as a Starbucks barista, this is no surprise to me; people find a way, any way, to pay for their addictions.

"Dump Starbucks" logo

This ridiculous campaign then mysteriously disappeared from the news faster than a Newt Gingrich marriage….until now.

CEO Howard Shultz (my boss) recently told a shareholder, who was protesting the company’s stance on marriage equality, that he was free to sell his shares and invest in a different company. The far-right’s reaction: Dump Starbucks…2.0! Yes, the failed and hilarious faux campaign is back.

So you can see through this non-sequitur, here’s what Shultz actually said at the annual shareholder meeting last week:

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

See?! Can’t you just hear and see the anti-Christian drivel oozing from Shultz’s mouth?? Outrageous…we must all boycott this hippie-pinko-commi-faggy corporation at once! Gays are recruiting our children! They’re gross! And something about gay sex!

It really is astounding that in 2013, there are entire organizations devoted to making sure loving, committed couples who happen to be the same sex cannot marry because it would somehow damage their members’ own insecure marriages. Somehow, committed, same-sex couples have a magical power to turn others gay…don’t catch “the gay,” people!

What’s even more astounding is that the cultural tide is turning rapidly. Poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage well over 50 percent. Some polls go far into the 60s. Support for marriage equality is even more pronounced and strong with members of my generation (“millennials”), where the number is between the high 70s and low 80s.

The be-afraid-of-the-scary-gay-couple tactic is even failing to work on growing numbers of young Evangelicals and conservatives, maybe because they’re able to tell the difference between equal rights under the law vs. specific religious belief, as opposed to their parents and grandparents.

The Supreme Court is gearing up to hear two landmark cases in the struggle for equal rights and if the make-up of the court is any indication, along with increasing public support, things are looking good for marriage equality.

NOM’s Brown recently compared marriage equality to slavery and vowed to go for an amendment to the U.S. constitution if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of equality. Good luck with that, Brian. Keep fighting the losing, bigoted fight.

What exactly is the end game of these groups? Most of the products we use in our modern society come from corporations that support equality. Will bigots like AFA’s Bryan Fischer or FRC’s Tony Perkins simply live on farms outside Atlanta, hiding from the equality-supporting zombies (Yes, that was a “Walking Dead” reference….)? Unless they plan on living like the Amish, their ridiculous boycotts will accomplish nothing more than making them look like the narrow-minded bigots they are.

 

California Takes a Giant Leap in the Right Direction

It will soon be illegal for licensed therapists to try to “cure” minors of their homosexuality in the state of California. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-1172 into law this past weekend, outlawing the dangerous, destructive practice for those under 18 statewide. So-called “reparative therapy” has been around since psychologists first began recognizing the complexities of sexuality. All credible psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have rejected it for nearly 40 years. Trailblazing California is the first state to ban it altogether for minors (effective January 1, 2013).

“These practices[reparative therapy] have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery” – Governor Brown

The law itself is quite stunning and one of the many reasons I am proud to be California born-and-bred. Paragraph after paragraph, SB-1172, also known as the “Sexual orientation change efforts” law, destroys the myth that being LGBT is abnormal and somehow perverted. The first half of the very first section of the bill makes the case for why such a law is needed:

(a) Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years.
(b) The American Psychological Association convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The task force conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts, and issued a report in 2009. The task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources.
(c) The American Psychological Association issued a resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts in 2009, which states: “[T]he [American Psychological Association] advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”
(d) The American Psychiatric Association published a position statement in March of 2000 in which it stated:
“Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or ‘repair’ homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of ‘cures’ are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, ‘reparative’ therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, [the American Psychiatric Association] recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm.
The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.
Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.
…….
(n) California has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.

The American Psychological Association and The American Psychiatric Association are not alone in their assessments. The American School Counselor Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, The American Counseling Association, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and The Pan American Health Organization (regional office of the World Health Organization) have all denounced reparative therapy. This isn’t some “liberal” conspiracy; they’re peer-reviewed, scholarly studies designed to discover the effects of reparative therapy. The findings of the professionals: stay far away from it.

The law delivers a major blow to one of the major pillars of the argument against same-sex marriage. The Prop 8 trials were filled with numerous claims that homosexuality was not a natural variant on human sexuality – despite all credible mental health organizations saying otherwise – and thus discrimination should be maintained in the state constitution. With an entire American state essentially slamming the door in the face of that argument, marriage equality is even more inevitable.

There is one exception to the law: minors 12-17 years of age have the ability to choose to undergo this ridiculous treatment. I worry that the LGBT youth “choosing” to undergo this quack treatment will actually be coerced or even forced by their families to go. Will there be a way to tell if parents and family are forcing their children to undergo this “treatment” under the guise of “choice?” We shall see what happens.

Despite this compromise, anti-gay groups are already preparing to sue over SB-1172. I must say, you gotta admire their determination: In spite of society moving to accept and treat all people equally, ironically labeled “pro-family, pro-America” groups have the gall to identify which groups deserve second class citizenship and which deserve first. It’s almost a  moving story on the perseverance of a small, organized and determined group… (*insert MEGA sarcasm*). Damn that United States Constitution and its equality for all! 😉

Citing the official positions of the world’s leading mental health organizations isn’t the only angle SB-1172 takes. This groundbreaking law also cites disturbing facts:

LGBT youth who experience family rejection for their identity are…
  • over eight times as likely to attempt suicide,
  • almost six times as likely to have high levels of depression,
  • over three times as likely to abuse drugs,
  • and over three times as likely to have dangerous, unprotected sex than their LGBT counterparts who experience little to no rejection from family.

This is one of the best things to come out of the California legislature in a while. Despite the fact that California is very dysfunctional politically and economically (thanks mostly, in my opinion, to an out-of-control ballot initiative/proposition process), the Golden State doesn’t condemn people for being who they are. California’s lead on this issue is already being emulated; New Jersey and other states are considering similar laws. Despite the protests of groups that are neither “pro-family” nor “pro-America,” society is moving forward. As Dick Cheney said (ironically, to say the least), “…freedom means freedom for everyone.”

The Ultimate American Ideal

“The independence of America, considered merely as a separation from England, would have been a matter but of little importance, had it not been accompanied by a revolution in the principles and practice of governments. She made a stand, not for herself only, but for the world, and looked beyond the advantages herself could receive.”

– Thomas Paine

All  are equal…that is the ultimate human ideal.

Liberty Enlightening The World (Lady Liberty’s original, brilliant name). She will be 126 years old on October 28th.

Happy 236th Birthday, America. We may be hypocritical at times and we may get some important things horribly wrong, but by and large, we are the greatest nation on Earth. What we don’t get quite right, we eventually make right. We may not always learn from our mistakes, but we become stronger with every challenge or adversity. We cherish our lives, liberty and pursuit of what ever happiness we want for ourselves. We die to protect our equality.

I love my country and am optimistic about her future, no matter what challenging times we face. Our simple yet powerful constitution, with its promise of freedom and equality for all, our people, national spirit and pride are what make this incredible democratic republic work (which is why it is vitally important that every one who is able to votes). Here’s to another 236 years, and countless more! I hope you all had a great 4th of July. 🙂

Happy 235th Birthday, America!

In honor of our nation’s 235th Birthday, I have posted The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and all other Amendments to the Constitution as pages on my blog. They are found under the menu labeled “Founding The United States Of America.”

So, on this Fourth of July, take some time to read the founding documents and bedrock of the United States of America. Enjoy!

https://micahstwocents.wordpress.com/the-declaration-of-independence/

https://micahstwocents.wordpress.com/the-united-states-constitution/

https://micahstwocents.wordpress.com/the-bill-of-rights-all-other-amendments/

 

 

The Declaration of Independence

 

the first page of the United States Constitution

 

The United States Bill of Rights

 

Judge Walker’s Ruling Stands

Today, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled that Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision (declaring Proposition 8 “unconstitutional”) is still valid even though Judge Walker is gay.

Proponents of Prop 8 motioned to have Walker’s monumental decision vacated because the judge was a gay man ruling to allow same-sex marriage in the state of California (for the second time).

The short ‘n sweet summary of this latest ruling: Who cares if he’s gay or not?! His ruling is judicially sound.

 

Below is a section of Judge Ware’s ruling:

After considering the Oppositions to the Motion and the governing law, as  discussed below, the Court finds that neither recusal nor disqualification was  required based on the asserted grounds. The sole fact that a federal judge  shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of  the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a  proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be  affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification under Section  455(b)(4). Further, under Section 455(a), it is not reasonable to presume that a  judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality  of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the  proceedings. Accordingly, the Motion to Vacate Judgment on the sole ground of  Judge Walker’s same-sex relationship is DENIED.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is still considering whether Walker’s ruling is constitutional. My two cents: same-sex marriage will be legal in California (again) before 2012.

Judicially and even in modern-day American society, legal prohibitions against same-sex marriage are unsound, discriminatory and rely on faulty/discredited studies claiming homosexuals “hurt” children or somehow “destroy the fabric of society.” It’s 2011. It’s time to move forward. The constitution gives EVERYONE equal protection under the law.

It’s A Non-Issue

Gallup now reports that 70 percent of young people (18-34) and a majority (53 percent) of Americans in general support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. However, only 39 percent of people aged 55 and older are in support.

Most young people personally know or are friends with gays and lesbians. As opposed to the older generation, we see who “the homosexual” really is: a doctor, lawyer, parent, sibling, writer, elected official, police officer, business owner or artist.

Even young Evangelicals increasingly consider same-sex marriage a non-issue, according to a 2008 study  conducted by the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

Just because someone accepts the legality of an issue or law does not necessarily mean they approve/affirm that issue or law on moral grounds. That’s the beauty of Separation of Church and State.

Rather than seeing negative stereotypes or misconceptions (perverts, mentally ill, etc.), young people understand that gays and lesbians are every bit as human as their straight counterparts.

Modern stereotypes of gays and lesbians are rather complimentary, in my opinion; Gay men are clean-cut, artistic Apple computer owners and lesbians are eclectic, charismatic coffee shop owners (the stereotype appears to be confirmed in independent coffee shops with gay men on their on MacBooks or iPhones…).

It is only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal throughout the nation. The only obstacle to equal rights is dogmatic adherence to outdated, discriminatory values (only 28% of self-identified conservatives support legal same-sex marriage).

Young people get it. When will Capitol Hill and 45 state legislatures?

Gallup results by age group