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July 12, 2008

Unlikely Support From A Black Conservative Republican

Ward Connerly is a black conservative republican who is not exactly the kind of political conservative most of us in the GLBT community would applaud.

In fact, according to a July 6th article in The Arizona Republic, Mr Connerly "...has made a name for himself - and some would say a lucrative career in the process - as a Black man at the forefront of the battle to end racial and gender preference in the workplace and on campus."

Now most of us usually equate conservative opposition to Affirmative Action to anti-gay everything positions as well. And, unfortunately, that has all to often proven to be the case. But wait --- there seems to be much more to Mr Connerly than a superficial glance would show.

Regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with his argument against continuing Affirmative Action (see the whole article), what he says later in the interview definitely caught my attention.

When Mr. Connerly was asked by Viewpoints Editor Joe Garcia, "You've been a proponent of domestic partnerships for gay couples, which puts you at odds with a core element of the Republican Party. How do you marry the two stances, if you will - anti-affirmative action but in favor of gay rights or domestic partnerships?"

Mr. Connerly replied:

"Very, very easily. I don't want the government making decisions about people's personal lives or making decisions about treating people differently on the basis of their identities. So, to me, it's a natural fit. . . .

The government shouldn't be making distinctions about people on the basis of what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms. And those within my party that try to inject the government into that, they're not the conservative, I'm the conservative. I'm saying, keep government small, keep government out of people's personal lives. If you're going to give benefits to people who happen to be straight, give the same benefits to people who are gay. That to me was a very easy call.

I took a lot of heat from "strong conservatives" who said that I was eroding the concept of marriage. I'm not "eroding the concept of marriage." If marriage is that fragile, that giving people who are gay equal benefit (would cause harm), then we're in big trouble. I believe in the institution of marriage, but I also believe in freedom. I believe in treating people equally. . . .

I grew up in a time when I was forbidden from marrying people who were not of my race. In 1962, when my wife and I got married, in some parts of the country, we would have been breaking the law. It wasn't until 1967, when the Supreme Court in the Loving (vs. Virginia) case said that that's unconstitutional. So, I feel very strongly that the government shouldn't be treating people differently just because they are gay."

Now that's the kind of statement I can easily applaud him for. What really ruffles my feathers though is if a man like Connerly gets it so easily then why can't others see the same simple logic? Of course, I have my opinions about that but that's for another post addressing the paranoid, or even avaricious, meddlings of most of the church institutions. That, in my opinion, is the main engine driving much of the homophobia throughout the world today. That and politics of convenience.

To read the whole article/interview, go to: Arizona Republic PDF File

July 11, 2008

American Family Association Once Again In Hot Water

Yesterday, SentinelSource.com, which is the online edition of New Hampshire's The Keene Sentinel, posted a story about the embarrassing ineffectiveness of American Family Association's (AFA) boycotts. I've written about the AFA in several of my own postings and I'm really happy to see such a prestigious publication (the country's fifth oldest continuously published newspaper since March, 1799) take this absurdly fanatic group to task.

The article says, in part:

The American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi, is always up to something. Usually something related to sex. Often it involves a boycott.

Time was when the AFA seemed most incensed about nudity, pornography, suggestive clothing and the like. We remember a decade or so ago when it mailed news organizations still photographs of what might have been a bare breast flashing by in a CBS promotional film. People in newsrooms around the country no doubt studied that mailing very carefully.

The AFA still objects to nudity. Its Web site features a complaint that the Department of Defense is allowing Playboy publications to be sold on military bases. It’s promoting a House bill that would end that practice. But in recent years, homosexuality has become the AFA’s greatest preoccupation. Currently, it’s urging people to stay away from McDonald’s because, it says, the company promotes “the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.” To which a McDonald’s official replied: “We have a well-established and proud heritage of associating with individuals and organizations that share our belief that every person has the right to live and work in their community free of discrimination.”

The AFA’s effectiveness is in some doubt. McDonald’s stock is up more than 10 percent during the past year, and sales are steady. Earlier AFA boycotts did not go well either, including those against Procter & Gamble, Disney, CBS and Kraft Foods. The AFA claims it did better with its Ford boycott, but the energy crisis may have had something to do with any success in that arena. The AFA corporate Hall of Shame (also called “the dirty dozen”) lists other companies that seem to be doing okay: Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast, Johnson & Johnson, Viacom. The dirty details are at www.afa.net.

The AFA has recently made bigger waves with a software program it developed that automatically replaces the word “gay” on its news Web site with the word “homosexual.” The idea is that “gay” leaves a more positive impression than “homosexual.” (see my July 2nd posting "Christian News Group Embarrasses Itself With It's Own Homophobia")

Hooray for reason and logic. When I lived in New York I used to go to Vermont and New Hampshire a lot! It's an absolutely beautiful area with really great skiing and picture-perfect little towns. It's well worth visiting.

If you'd like to read the whole article (which was published both in print and online) go to: SentinelSource.com

July 10, 2008

Is Scientogogy Just A Harmless Group Of Funny Fanatics?

If you think that Scientology is a harmless, even comical (Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah's couch) group of fanatics, you need to watch this video.

The video was made by a Canadian group called Anonymous Toronto and was taped in front of the Scientology building during Toronto's Gay Pride celebrations last March.

I pretty much knew about Scientology's horrendous treatment of their own members. And I even heard about the violence that was perpetrated against anyone who tried to leave the organization or challenge it from within. What I didn't know was that these intimidation tactics, including death threats, are also used against ANYONE who tries to expose the truth about who they really are.

To give you an idea of how extreme their teachings can be, in a sequel titled "Science of Survival" by their now-deceased founder, L. Ron Hubbard you'll find an explanation of their "Tone Scale" that classifies people and their behavior ranging from -3 to +4. LGBT people are classified at 1.1 and Hubbard recommends the following very disturbing solutions for people below 2.2. He says:

"The first is to raise them on the tone scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without sorrow."

I wonder if Oprah knows about this.

If you want to know more about Anonymous Toronto go to: anonymoustoronto.org

I discovered the story and video at: religiousleft.us

July 9, 2008

Keep James Dobson Out Of The Radio Hall of Fame

In an article by Phillip Perry of TruthWinsOut.org it was announced that The Museum of Broadcast Communications nominated James Dobson to be inducted into the Radio Hall Of Fame.

For those of you who don't recognize the name, James Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family which is one of the most virulently anti-gay organizations in the country. Dobson himself has been accused of distorting scientific research and spreading grotesque lies about gays and the gay community for his own egocentric political gain. One of the most wildly ridiculous things he has said is that “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.” He is, hands-down, one of the worst of what the human race has to offer.

In the article, Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen is quoted as saying:

“It is outrageous and insulting that James Dobson would be nominated for the Radio Hall of Fame. We believe that character counts and nominees should have careers based on honesty and integrity - not discrimination, distorting research and outright lying.”

Truth Wins Out is running a petition campaign to defeat Dobson's induction. I've already signed it and would strongly encourage you to do the same. You can find the petition at: TruthWinsOut.org

In addition to signing the petition, you can actually vote for a nominee yourself since the general public is allowed to do that. The nominees are James Dobson, Laura Schlessinger (absolute NO's), Bob Costas and Howard Stern. Certainly Costas or Stern would each be far more worthy of this honor than either of the two bigoted homophobes.

To vote yourself go to: Radio Hall Of Fame
You have until midnight (EST), July 15th to vote.

I went to this site and registered to vote. After you register, they'll send you an email with a link to the ballot. The ballot itself actually gives you four catagories to vote in, "National Pioneer," "National Active," "Local Pioneer," or "Local Active." I won't tell you whether I voted for Costas or Stern because, of course, that's something you'll have to decide for yourself. I would certainly be happy with either one.

July 8, 2008

Time To Boycott Heinz!

I'm sure by now that most of you have heard about the controversy over the Heinz Deli Mayo TV ad that ran for a very short time in England. If not, watch the ad below:

The controversy started when Heinz pulled the ad because of a mere 200 complaints it received. It was reported on several blogs that the complaints were orchestrated by the infamous American group inappropriately called the American Family Association (AFA) which has been featured in two of my own blog postings (Religious Right Boycotts McDonalds and Christian News Group Embarrasses Itself).

This group rails at anything that even remotely portrays our community as a natural part of the world community. Although they purport to be driven by religious convictions, their words and actions are anything but Christian. They're a hate mongering group that vilifies anyone who doesn't agree with them. They tried to do that to McDonald's but they were met there with a strong refusal to acquiesce to their ridiculous demands. McDonald's stood behind their Vice President and their commitment to diversity.

Unfortunately, Heinz put their tail between their weak and trembling legs and pulled the commercial. And they have since refused to reinstate it because, I'm sure, they fear losing a few religious fanatics as customers. Well, it's time to show Heinz what losing customers looks like.

I don't normally endorse boycotting but there are times when that is clearly what is called for. So, I join with many others and call for


There are many companies that sell the same products that they do. And even though I have purchased Heinz products for many years I, personally, am going to be buying those products from other companies instead. If and when Heinz finally realizes the error of their ways, I may reconsider going back to them. But not until then!

July 7, 2008


Postings on several blogs this morning described a sign supposedly posted by a Rite Aid store in New York's West Village. The sign read:

"This store does not believe in Gay & Lesbian marriages. Any same sex activity which includes kissing, hugging, touching or anything that would make our customers feel uncomfortable is prohibited in this store."

THIS IS A HOAX! A comment posted by "duanereadefan" on queerty.com (which apparently broke the original story) said:

"I actually just got a call back from a VP of Northeastern operations, after I filed a complaint with the executive offices. It seems that a former disgruntled employee did this to about 11 different Rite Aid stores in Manhattan to cause trouble for the boss who fired him, and Rite Aid.

This actually rings true to me. I don’t think anyone is actually stupid enough to post that in the West Village and sign their name to it."

I looked up Rite Aid's Diversity policy that has long been posted on their website. It reads:

"Diversity expands beyond race, religion, color, sex (including gender and sexual orientation), disability, age, or national origin. It also includes differences such as corporate tenure, marital status, personal beliefs, and education level. At Rite Aid, we embrace our differences and strive to create an environment where every associate is valued individually and as a team member, treated with respect, and encouraged to do his or her best work."

We've fought long and hard to get major companies to include "sexual orientation" in their non-discrimination policies and I seriously doubt that a company like Rite Aid is going to go back on their commitment to the GLBT community. Rite Aid SHOULD BE supported by us and I intend to do just that.

July 6, 2008

Surprising Decision Allows Child Of Gay "2nd Parent" Social Security Benefits

An article in the Washington Post on Saturday said that the Justice Department's Office Of Legal Council (OLC) advised the Social Security Administration (SSA) that the child of a gay-union was eligible for social security benefits.

This decision was the result of an inquiry made by the SSA to the Justice Department last year. They wanted to know if the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, would also bar the child of a same-sex couple from receiving benefits from his non-biological parent?

The two women involved in the case, identified only as Monique and Karen, entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2002. In 2003, Monique gave birth to a son. The civil union (legal in Vermont) made it possible for Karen to be identified on the birth certificate as "second parent." In 2005, Karen became eligible for disability benefits and asked that Elijah receive "child's insurance benefits" under Social Security to supplement their lost income.

What's pretty amazing, and gratifying, is the fact that OLC acting chief Steven G. Bradbury, who was strongly criticized for his involvement in Justice Department interrogation matters, approved the Social Security memo.

The Washington Post article asked:

How could the OLC, which gained notoriety for putting ideology before the rule of law to justify extreme interrogation techniques, come to such a conclusion? By reading the law governing Social Security benefits neutrally and correctly -- and by keeping politics out of the analysis. In short, it relied on a straightforward -- some might say "conservative" -- approach to produce a result that even "liberals" should applaud.

This is a very important milestone in our efforts to secure equal rights for same-sex couples and their families.

I never thought I'd say this while the Bush administration was still in office but I have to applaud the OLC and its acting chief, Steven G. Bradbury, for their surprisingly balanced and just approach.

Read the full story at: washingtonpost.com