Referendum language released, McKenna uses opposition language

Over at the Slog, Eli Sanders posted the language for the Referendum proposed by McKenna. The result: Not good.

Ballot Title
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.]

This bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, modify existing domestic-partnership laws, allow clergy to refuse to solemnize or recognize marriages and religious organizations to refuse to accommodate marriage celebrations.

Should this bill be

___ Approved

___ Rejected

Ballot Measure Summary
The bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, apply marriage eligibility requirements without regard to gender, and specify that laws using gender-specific terms like “husband” and “wife” include same-sex spouses. Clergy could refuse to solemnize or recognize any marriages. Religious organizations and religiously affiliated educational institutions could refuse to accommodate weddings. The measure would not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. Domestic partnerships for seniors would be preserved.

Notice the inclusion of “redefine marriage.” If this language sticks, it could be a victory for the anti-gay forces fighting marriage equality. Washington United For Marriage will have a chance to take this to Court to challenge the language, and we can only hope they manage to get this language stricken from the ballot measure.

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Frank Vandersloot, Idaho Billionaire, gets called out by Glenn Greenwald

Many people might not know his name, but Frank Vandersloot is about to be on the lips of many more people after Glenn Greenwald, a blogger and former lawyer who writes at Salon, published this article. You should click that link and read the whole thing.

You might ask yourself; what does this article have to do with gay rights? Well, as Glenn mentions (and as a matter of public record), Vandersloot once participated in a campaign against the “It’s Elementary” documentary aired on Idaho Public Television in 1999 because he believed it would “raise curiosities they (children) shouldn’t have at those ages” (children added for clarification about whom he was referring to). The quote from Vadersloot in that Spokesman-Review article clearly implies that being gay is a learned behavior; a position that is wholly unsurprising when we understand that Vandersloot is a devout Mormon. As Glenn also mentions in the article, Belinda Vandersloot (Frank’s wife) also contributed 100,000$ in support of Proposition 8.

So, I think it’s quite clear what the issue here is: Vandersloot is using his power and money to silence critics. Full stop. And many of those critics happen to be members of the LGBT community (Profiled in Glenn’s article is Jody May-Chang, an Idaho LGBT activist in Boise who is being targeted by Vandersloot and his team of lawyers for the “crime” of speaking out against Vandersloot’s views). That’s not okay. We shouldn’t allow those with wealth and power like Vandersloot to use it to silence those who disagree with the PUBLIC stances he has taken on relevant issues.

I’m asking that many publish this article, and link to Glenn’s article as well, in hopes that we can stand up to someone like Vandersloot and show solidarity to people Peter Zuckerman, the reporter who was outed by Vandersloot and faced hell for it; May-Chang who is currently receiving emails and phone calls threatening her to take down information that is public and not in any way defamatory. You have a right to pursue your own policy preferences if you wish Mr. Vandersloot, but you don’t have a right to escape public criticism for the stances you take.

The state of the Anti-Marriage Equality camp in Washington State

It’s always interesting to read about the power struggles going on (mostly behind the scenes) within the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality camps all around this country. Well Washington is no different. It would seem some on the anti-marriage equality side are not happy that Backholm of the Family Policy Institute (The Washington State Branch of the Family Resarch Council) decided to file for the Referendum alone (with the aid of NOM). Cue Gary Randall with Faith and Freedom Network:

However, I am disappointed that other leaders in the state were not included as signers on the referendum.

It does make a difference. It is important. It can be very important. Some will remember Referendum 65, some years ago, and the public fight that followed between two individuals. It was not productive. Frankly, it was embarrassing.

I, along with many others who have been planning and working toward the effort to overturn SB 6239, have advocated that Representative Matt Shea, Senator Val Stevens and Pastor Ken Hutcherson should have been included or have even been the only signers on the Referendum.

This comes in the wake of the re-branding of “Stand For Marriage Washington” into “Preserve Marriage Washington”. As Jeremy Hooper over at the LGBT blog Good As You put forward, this re-branding effort wasn’t merely a name change so much as it was a way to kick aside (and silence) the more extreme elements of the anti-gay side here in Washington State:

But should there be, it’s a certainty that some outside group like Schubert Flint Public Affairs will step in and take the reins of the thing. And when they do? The more extreme voices, no matter how engaged they’ve been in the past, have a way of being tucked away in a closet. This happens every time (See Mike Heath in Maine circa 2009; Randy Thomasson during Prop 8; Ron Baity in North Carolina this year; etc.).

In Washington state, my they’ll-hide-’em-away money’s on longtime voice of hostility Ken Hutcherson. While he’s been the most prominent face of Washington’s various anti-gay efforts, both in state and nationally, Hutcherson has proven a willingness to say and do whatever he damn well pleases, pragmatism be damned. For instance, there was that recent example where he compared his Governor to John Wilkes Booth. There have been accusations of gays supposedlytrying to turn Christians into “the new negro.” Hutcherson’s also committed the cardinal “pro-family” sin of turning on his own, vocally accusing conserva-giant Focus on The Family — major player in state marriage efforts — of going too soft. These are the kinds of things that don’t play well when the bright lights of a campaign come around.

And it would seem Hooper is right.  Hutcherson certainly could be said to be alluding to the betrayal of being swept aside by those in his own movement when he wrote this:

I expect to be disliked by the non-believing world but when you are disliked by believers….

If we do not learn this truth in Washington State very soon and have the church work in unity then we will fall for the trick of light fighting light which leads to defeat, instead of light standing against the darkness which leads to victory.

As Laurel Ramseyer at Pam’s House Blend also notes, a news story over at Rueters refers to Backholm as the “head of the Preserve Marriage Washington Coalition”. This would seem to confirm what Hooper was saying; that Backholm (with NOM’s help) has pushed the more vocal elements of the movement aside in hopes that the tainted past of someone like Hutcherson (who has a history of putting his foot in his mouth that is unparalleled) wont sink their ship. Although I’m not sure that Backholm’s history is all that much better, as Ramseyer has been demonstrating in her posts.

The Rueters article also notes that Stephen Pidgeon, one of the former members of the Stand For Marriage Washington Coalition with Backholm (and a former ally with Backholm at Protect Marriage Washington when the R-71 battle was heating up in 2009) has created his own coalition called….. “Protect Marriage Washington” (They could use some creativity counseling with these names). Unlike Backholm, Pidgeon’s coalition is vying to get an Initiative (I-1192: Which would redefine marriage as between only one man and one woman) on the ballot for November. And it doesn’t sound like Backholm and Company on are board to the same extent that Pidgeon is:

“In principle, everyone’s trying to accomplish the same things,” Backholm, 33, said. “But it would be amazingly confusing.”

…..

Pidgeon, who has spent weeks haggling with state officials over the final ballot language for I-1192, said he supports the referendum but argued his initiative can get started sooner and has broader implications than responding to a specific law.

It isn’t much of long shot to say that it’s unlikely that Pidgeon will get enough signatures to get his Initiative on the ballot. It would require at least 241,154 signatures to be delivered July 6 (and of course, at least that number would have to survive the verification process). NOM and Backholm know this, and that’s why despite pretending as though they “support” Pidgeon to a certain degree, they won’t even begin to think about throwing the deep pockets that a group like NOM can tap into behind the Initiative effort. In short, the anti-gay side isn’t as unified as they once (perhaps) were and some of the more outspoken anti-gay activists’ are being sidelined while Backholm and NOM try to clean up the mess their side has created with their history of horrid rhetoric. That could be good news for Marriage Equality Proponents in this State.

If this is any indication of the way things will be going in the future, this isn’t the last time we’re bound to see some of this spill out into public. I’ll try to keep you all as up to date as I can on this ongoing shuffle and bustle in the anti-gay movement here in Washington as we move closer into the closing stretch of the fight over marriage equality.

Groups challenge India Supreme Court ruling decriminalizing homosexuality

Around 3 years ago, the Supreme Court in India made a ruling that overturned a colonial era British law that mandated up to 10 years in prison for “unnatural offences”. It was Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and it made homosexual acts illegal. Well, some groups are (still) not happy with this ruling and are asking the Supreme Court of India to re-examine their decision:

On the second day of hearing on 16 petitions challenging the Delhi high court verdict decriminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults in private, a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice SJ Mukopadhya said homosexuality should be viewed in the context of changing society.

It seems doubtful that the Supreme Court would overturn their decision, especially given the tone the Justices took with respects to the issue. But this is still something to watch out for.

Part of what is interesting about this battle however, is that it really is true that anti-gay attitudes were (to some extent) exported from Europe to colonies during the age of colonialism. We saw this take place in Africa perhaps more visibly than anywhere else. Before European colonists carved up the continent and imposed their values on natives, there wasn’t much in the way of rampant anti-gay bigotry in many areas of Africa. That’s not to say every African society viewed homosexuality the same way, but the imposition of harsh, cruel punishments in legal codes and the wave of homophobia that has gripped parts of that continent are remnants of colonialism just the same as the part of the Penal Code in India that was struck down was a remnant of British colonialism; imposed on India’s native population to “Christianize” them. This is just one of the many horrific legacies that still clings on in many places as a result of the European Colonial legacy.

“Mommy, what’s a homosexual?”

I remember one of the biggest hurdles to becoming more comfortable and accepting my own sexuality was the ability to discuss it openly and frankly; without condescension or condemnation. It was the ability to put a name and a face to what I was feeling. It was the ability to feel like I wasn’t the only one. Well, as many of you are probably aware Tennessee is in the process of making it *even* harder for LGBTQ youth to be okay in the skin their in; and unfortunately the aptly described “Don’t Say Gay Bill” has cleared another hurdle on it’s way toward becoming law:

A bill that would ban teaching Tennessee kids about homosexuality before they reach the ninth grade was approved by a state House subcommittee Wednesday, reigniting an emotional debate in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

This is yet another assault on LGBT children. It was constructed (by anti-gay bigot Stacey Campfield, who recently showed off his “intelligence” when he stated as a matter of fact that the AIDS epidemic began because a gay airline attendant had sex with a monkey….) under the toxic premise that being gay is something children “learn” rather than something they simply are.

But as we know from experience, silencing the discussion on homosexuality wont do anything other than make children’s lives miserable. Study after study has shown that LGBT youth need a support network to help them get through the rough transition of coming out; and in dealing with the sometimes incredibly harsh atmosphere of hate directed toward them as a result of who they are. So instead of protecting children, this bill actually seeks to make an entire group of children non-existent. It seeks to make them feel as though they aren’t normal. It seeks to make them think they are sick and perverted. Is this what the religious right is talking about when they bloviate about “family values”?

New Jersey Assmebly passes marriage equality bill

Via The Associated Press:

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Assembly on Thursday passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages, setting the stage for an expected veto by Gov. Chris Christie.

The 42-33 vote sends the bill to Christie, who won’t take immediate action. The Republican governor who opposes gay marriage had promised “very swift action” if the bill passed both houses of the Legislature, but the Assembly isn’t required to send the bill to his desk until the close of business Friday. The Senate approved the bill Monday.

Christie has of course promised that he will veto the bill, as he thinks it’s apparently necessary to put to civil rights up to a vote; which means we can expect a referendum/initiative on the ballot come election time as neither chamber has enough votes to override the veto.

Study finds the obvious; LGBT youth need parental support

You might say this is stating the obvious (and you would be right), but restating the facts never hurt anyone. According to HuffPo:

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, evaluated risk factors associated with self harm and suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adolescents between ages 16 and 20.

Support from family and friends often acted as an effective preventive factor against inflicting self-harm and suicide among the population.

Adolescents who felt victimized and didn’t have a trusted support network were more likely to have suicidal thoughts and inflict harm, the research suggests.

This isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, controversial. And yet somehow it’s a point that we find ourselves continually needing to make: LGBT youth need a support network to help them through their trials and tribulations. Whether that be friends or parents, they need someone to listen to them, talk to them and love them just like anyone else.

Unfortunately so many of our youth don’t receive love and support they need at home, as evidenced by the disproportionately high rate of homelessness amongst LGBT youth. And too often, schools in this day and age aren’t proactively trying to make their halls and classrooms a safe, welcome space for LGBT youth. Thus we read story after story of beautiful young children taking their own lives because they have no support at home (or no home) and while they may have a circle of friends at school, it may not be enough to fight off the hurt, anguish and isolation they face as a result of anti-gay bullying.

This truth, that children need support; and especially LGBT children, makes it so obvious how much of a lie the Christian Right in this country perpetuates when they claim to be concerned about families and children. When they talk about “family” or when they mention their concern for children, they’re concern is with the myth of the “perfect nuclear family.” Its a family unit that never existed much in reality; fabricated out of whole cloth to keep women in the house where misogynistic men thought they should be and keep children strictly obedient to their fathers wishes. Despite the fact that their ideal family unit has never really been a truth for most people, they’re hellbent on trying to ensure that anyone who falls out of their little fantasy land is bullied back into order. And it is bullying. They claim that telling young children being gay is a sin (that they’ll burn in hell for) is simply stating fact. It’s not, and it mangles these young children’s minds into thinking their sick, perverted and should be ashamed of who they are. Then these self professed Christians look at their results of their bullying and harassment and try to pin back on us, claiming that the fact that LGBT youth are more prone to suicidal tendencies or substance abuse problems is a sign that children know it’s wrong. The only thing wrong here however, is that we live in a society where parents think its okay to degrade their own children’s self worth until they’re close to the edge of their life. No child should have to suffer that, whether LGBT or not. And no parent should ever claim to be loving and compassionate if they cannot except their children for who they are in the core of their being.