Jun 03, 2008
Obama for President!
Barack Obama sealed up the nomination tonight. I am inspired by him and excited about the possiblity of seeing him in the White House. Now, I just have to figure out how I can best support his candidacy and get him into the Presidency and keep
Bush McCain out.
Oddly, I am also saddened today at the end of Hillary Clinton's campaign. No matter how you slice it today is an historic day. I would have been proud to support her for the Presidency. I *am* proud to support Obama!
Let's win in November!
May 26, 2008
How do I love thee?
You all know I'm a veteran. I'm proud of my service. I consider myself a patriot (this in apparent direct contradiction to my belief that nationalism is a crime most heinous). But, I abhor war. I believe, sincerely, that there must be another way. I don't know what that way is. I'm not enough of a student of history to know if there were alternatives to war in WWII. With my limited (and state supplied) education on the subject, it appears to me that there was no alternative and I'm glad we fought and I'm glad we won (having said that I strongly disagree with the tactics of bombing Japanese cities with nuclear weapons).
So, when Memorial Day rolls around each year, I'm torn. I want to express my patriotism, but I also don't want to feed the death-for-glory culture we have created. I believe that dissent and protest are patriotic. Still, I recognize that my version of patriotism isn't the only version, and certainly not the only right version. The minister at the church I attend reminded us that Monday was Memorial Day, a day to remember those who died so we could be free. But, then, he went on to say that people are still dying today so that we can be free. I disagree with that. I have been opposed to this war since before its inception. Our young men and women are not dying today so that we can be free. They are dying to satisfy whatever appetites held by those in power today in this country. But, they are dying.
One such young man was Major Alan Rogers. I found his story at the SLDN blog. He was a patriot, who died doing the job they sent him to Iraq to do. He did more than merely follow orders. He shielded two other soldiers from the blast of an exploding IED, saving their lives. He was respected and honored. But, as one officer who served with him said -- "There was so much about Alan I never knew." Indeed. Alan was a gay officer and his country required him to lie in order to serve.
The story was written by a friend of mine who works at SLDN. She writes:
Why does it matter? Why should anyone need to know that Alan Rogers, an American patriot who died doing what he loved most – serving our country – also happened to be gay?
It matters because in our country the law says that gay people who want to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces have to conceal their identity for the privilege of doing so. And as a result, thousands of very good, fair, and decent straight service members have no idea how many of the phenomenal people they work with every day also happen to be gay. This invisibility creates an environment of complacency about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and what it requires of gay Americans in uniform. And change does not happen in an environment of complacency.
To honor him on this day, I give you this link and ask you to read his story. This is how I choose to honor Memorial Day. I hope you do, too.
Mar 09, 2008
Gun Control, the Pink Pistols, and the Supremes
I just came across this WaPo story about a case currently in front of the US Supreme Court. For the first time in over 70 years the Supremes will decide a case grounded in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It seems like every day we're hearing yet another story about someone killing a group of people -- often relatives or schoolmates -- with a gun. We truly have an epidemic of violence, gun violence, in this country. There are people out there who sincerely believe that the way to curb this violence and to protect themselves and their families is to put more guns in the hands of our citizens.
I am not among them. My limited understanding of the English language and my limited understanding of Constitutional interpretation lead me to believe that the beginning clause, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State," was put there for a reason. The second clause, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" cannot stand alone. But, I admit that the amendment is ambiguous. After all who are these "people" whose right to bear arms cannot be infringed upon (possibly members of the well-regulated militia)?
When this debate was a hot topic 40 years ago, the bumper-sticker slogan of the gun nuts was "Guns don't kill, people do". Yikes. That kind of thinking scares me. Guns have the ability to turn a temporary passion into a permanent condition and regret. If I'd have had a gun in the house at the time, I never would have confronted the fact that I hate knives and I wouldn't be here now to appreciate the beauty that life has to offer.
The Pink Pistols do not speak for me.
With the Supreme Court examining for the first time in 70 years the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment, a group of gay and transgender gun owners called the Pink Pistols could not miss out on a chance to tell the justices about its special needs. ...
The Pink Pistols brief, for instance, said that Heller's argument that he has a right to own a gun for self-defense is especially relevant for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
"Even in their homes, LGBT individuals are at risk of murder, aggravated assault and other forms of hate violence because of their sexual orientation," the brief states. "In fact, the home is the most common site of anti-gay violence."
Feb 07, 2008
Creating Change and the City of Detroit
As my Girl and I prepare to attend the 20th anniversary of Creating Change to be held in Detroit this week, it is with great excitement that we read the following announcement from Triangle Foundation (full disclosure, I was just named to Triangle Foundation's Board of Trustees).
As an aside, it is amazing to me how many of our lesbian friends, and clients, have never heard of Creating Change. Admittedly, I only asked 3 couples but not one of those six women had heard of it. Is it the middle-age demographic? This will be my third one and I'm quite excited. Last night, we went to The Ark in Ann Arbor and watched Kate Clinton. Damn, she's good.
Detroit City Council Welcomes Creating Change,
Supports Transgender Rights
On February 5, the Detroit City Council passed a two-part resolution opposing discrimination against transgender individuals and welcoming the National Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality, Creating Change. Creating Change is bringing more than 2,000 LGBT and allied activists to the Renaissance Center Feb. 6-10.
Triangle Foundation, the state's leading anti-violence and advocacy organization, and the ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project, have worked closely with City Council to include gender identity and expression in the city's anti-discrimination ordinances.
"I can't think of a better time for City Council to pass this resolution than the eve of Creating Change," said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle. "We will continue working with the ACLU to help Council translate this resolution into an ordinance that will protect Detroit's transgender residents, workers and visitors - like the ones coming this week for Creating Change."
“We applaud the City Council’s passage of a resolution welcoming the Creative Change Conference and its statement that it opposes gender identity or expression discrimination," said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the LGBT Project. "When it passed its human rights ordinance prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in 1978, the City of Detroit demonstrated that it was a leader among major United States cities in its commitment to diversity and equal opportunity. It’s only appropriate that 30 years later, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has chosen the City of Detroit as its host for the Creating Change Conference, where LGBT activists and allies from around the country will convene to work towards full equality and opportunity for LGBT people."
Apr 25, 2005
For the first time (to my knowledge -- and I have done some, albeit limited, research) federal law is about to define "woman":
According to the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2005 (Senate Bill 51 and House Bill 356, if you're curious), it's the ova and the uterus and nothing else. The Act, which has been criticized for its possible effects on abortion law, has been referred to committee in both the House and the Senate. It contains this excellent definition:
WOMAN- The term `woman' means a female human being who is capable of becoming pregnant, whether or not she has reached the age of majority.
This definition of 'woman' was considered appropriate by both House and Senate.
As I like to say, in this culture (hell, pretty much any culture), “women” are uteruses first and people second.
This reminds me of my Queer Theory class last semester, reading Judith Butler and the like, and the difficulty we had in defining “female” at all; discussing the idea that sex may be as constructed as gender. Is a female a person with XX chromosomes? Then what about women like Jamie Lee Curtis, who has XXY chromosomes? Defining it by reproduction doesn’t work either, as you pointed out (two of my aunts were unable to concieve and adopted children; by the legislation’s definition, they are mothers, but not women). If genitalia are to be the definition, then we’re stuck with the fact of thousands of perfectly healthy intersexed babies born every year with “atypical” genitalia, as well as transexual people. Secondary characteristics don’t always hold true either; think of Frida Kahlo’s moustache (and what about females who get mastectomies and hysterectomies? are they no longer women?)
We decided that in this society we’re taught the circular reasoning that “Women” are simply “not men,” and “men” are “not women.”
So, Mom, in case you're curious, the federal government no longer thinks you're a woman.
Apr 06, 2005
The new Darfur post is up. Go read it.
The bottom line is that nearly 400,000 people have died of disease, starvation and violence at the hands of the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias, yet the crisis has receives barely a fraction of the coverage garnered by the legal problems faced by Michael Jackson or Martha Stewart.
Mar 28, 2005
Is this the worst case of hypocrisy you've ever seen? How can this possibly be justified? Does the Hippocratic Oath apply (supersede)?
I am disgusted.
The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.
The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.
The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.
Mar 14, 2005
Coalition for Darfur
Via Energy Spatula of Will Work for Favorable Dicta, I have joined the Coalition for Darfur. It frustrates me that there is so little that any one person can do about the injustice in the world. When I watched the movie "Hotel Rwanda" I was mortified by the world's seeming indifference. I have a philosophy (read: rationalization) that I generally fall back on whenever I feel pangs of guilt for ignoring some worthy cause. I say to myself that I am just one person and that I can only do so much and that if I am to be effective in any struggle against injustice I must necessarily limit my involvement in the infinite other struggles. Well, this is a relatively modest thing that I can do and I am grateful for the ability to assuage my guilt over not doing something about the horrors that are going on in Darfur. The following is a post developed by the founders of the Coalition; there will be another every week or so. Do what you can. Donate $5. Help save the children.
In May 2004, Roger Winter, the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, told a House committee that it was inevitable that "more than 100,000 people will die no matter what" in Darfur, Sudan by the end of the year. Winter went on to warn that, in a worst-case scenario, the number could reach as high as 350,000. One year later, the estimated death toll stands at more than 300,000. The actual number of deaths is nearly impossible to determine given that the government of Sudan, fearing the truth, refuses to grant access to the World Health Organization so that it can conduct a mortality survey. Nonetheless, knowledgeable observers agree that thousands have died at the hands of the Sudanese government and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed (a term meaning "Devils on Horseback") and tens of thousands more have died of disease and starvation after having their villages destroyed in government-led attacks. More than 2 million Darfurians have been internally displaced, the agricultural economy has been decimated and an estimated 3-4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Nearly two years ago, the Muslim government in Khartoum was in the process of finalizing a peace accord that would end a twenty year civil war between the government in the North and the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the South that had taken some 2 million lives. Fearful that the Western region of Darfur was going to continue to be ignored in the new coalition government that was being formed, African rebels launched a series of raids against government facilities. Rather than negotiate with the rebel forces in the West, the government of Sudan enlisted Arab militias in a campaign to wipe out the rebels and anyone suspected of supporting them. In the process, hundreds of villages have been destroyed, tens of thousands have been raped and killed, and millions have been displaced. The international community has responded in a haphazard fashion. The African Union secured the deployment of some 4,000 troops to the region, though its mandate was limited to monitoring a cease-fire that neither side honored. Less than 2,000 AU soldiers have arrived and they have limited logistical capabilities for covering this area roughly the size of Texas, nor do they have a mandate that allows them to protect civilians. The United Nations has been plagued by inaction, with China and Russia using their veto power to water down Security Council resolutions seeking sanctions or demanding accountability. A recent UN investigation detailed massive war crimes and crimes against humanity but stopped short of calling the campaign a genocide, a declaration the United States made last September. For now, much of the debate is focused on where any cases arising from this situation will be tried: the International Criminal Court or some Africa-based tribunal. Angered by the lackluster response to what is widely acknowledged as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis," a group of bloggers have formed a Coalition for Darfur to do what little they can. We seek to raise awareness of the crisis in Darfur, but also to raise money for the vital work that Save the Children is doing by providing food, water, shelter, and protection to over 200,000 children and families in Darfur each month. Together, and with your support, we hope to make a small but meaningful contribution to alleviating the massive suffering that continues to plague the region. Please consider making a donation via our Coalition for Darfur blog.
Feb 03, 2005
And good times were had by all
So, once you remove someone's manhood, it becomes fun to shoot them. Very interesting. This is why I never became a Marine.
"Actually it's quite fun to fight 'em, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," said Mattis.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said during a panel discussion. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
- Lt. Gen. James Mattis
While "counseling" him, his boss said:
"While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war," Hagee said. "Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor."
Hagee also praised Mattis, calling him "one of this country's bravest and most experienced military leaders."
He said the commitment of Marines "helps to provide us the fortitude to take the lives of those who oppress others or threaten this nation's security. This is not something we relish, yet we accept it as a reality in our profession of arms."
I despair for the day when killing people is no longer the answer. Maybe I'm a little saddened also by the fact that I just watched Hotel Rwanda last night. A powerful story, it really got to me how insouciantly people can take someone else's life.
Sep 28, 2004
Legislating gender stereotypes
In Harlingen Texas a young man with a family history of cancer was forbidden by school officials from growing his hair long enough to donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients, despite girls being allowed to grow their hair as long as they like.
Gerardo Garcia, Jr., 16, said he hoped to grow his hair at least 10 inches for donation to Florida-based Locks of Love. The nonprofit organization uses donated ponytails to create custom-fitted hairpieces of children suffering from medical hair loss. They provided Harlingen South High School a letter verifying that Garcia had applied to be a donor.
He said he was motivated by a family history of cancer — his great-grandmother died from lymphoma, his grandmother had breast cancer and his 11-year-old brother had a lymph node removed last year and may have to undergo a biopsy.
But Harlingen school officials said they could not compromise their dress code, which forbids boys from having hair that covers their eyes or hangs below their shoulders.
Garcia said the policy amounted to sexual discrimination because girls can grow their hair as long as the like. The board was not swayed.
“Although we commend Gerry’s efforts and his cause, we must deny his appeal,” school board member Verna Young said Tuesday.
Superintendent Linda Wade said representatives from the American Cancer Society told her they would accept Garcia as their Harlingen High School South liaison.
Garcia told the Valley Morning Star in Tuesday’s editions that it wasn’t about money.
“They just can’t see that I want to make a difference,” he said. “There are already plenty of organizations that give money.
Sep 20, 2004
Other people post more eloquently and more thoroughly than I ever could about political discussions and topics. I have my little corner of the law blogosphere that I use for my own purposes and, though I often agree (and sometimes disagree) with other left-of-center blawgers, I don't post about them all the time.
This whole Swaggart issue, however, just riles me up. Who cares if he has ever seen a man he wanted to marry or not? Is that the standard by which we should make our laws? What Jimmy Swaggart thinks is right? What annoys me most is he is supposed to be this great Christian televangilist. I hope other self-identified Christians are annoyed that he spews this bile in the name of their Saviour.
I also got an e-mail from Matt Foreman of NGLTF, who suggests that Mr. Swaggart apologize:
Statement by Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director:
"The leaders of major organizations heading the campaign to deny same sex couples equal marriage rights frequently say that they do not hate gay people and that they respect us as human beings. Just last night in a national simulcast to oppose same sex marriage, for example, Focus on the Family President Dr. James Dobson said, "I'm not here to cast aspersions on homosexuals ï¾¿ they need our acceptance and respect... We are not hateful people."
The Task Force calls upon the leaders of last night’s simulcast - Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Ted Haggard (National Association of Evangelicals), Richard Land (Director of the Religious Liberties and Ethics Division of the Southern Baptist Convention) - to immediately denounce anti-gay violence and specifically repudiate evangelist Jimmy Swaggert’s statement, “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain: if one ever looks at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.”
All lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and all people of good will be listening."
I hope he does apologize, but honestly I hope Christians simply shun the man for espousing such unadulterated hatred and advocacy of violence toward fellow human beings. It is so contrary to everything I ever learned about that man's (Christ's) teachings.
Sep 01, 2004
(Original entry: 9/1/04)
It bothers me when people suggest that transgendered people, or gays, or their supporters are morally insane. And, though I obviously disagree with them, and many of their foundational arguments, I must generally concede that deeply held values (as long as they are not destructive toward another) are legitimate for a person to express.
What really frustrates me, though, is when people in positions of power and influence use that power and influence to their own gain and to the harm of others -- specifically gays -- only to be later discovered to be the worst type of hypocrite.
Now, I don't want to jump to conclusions here, but does it seem odd to anyone else that two-term Republican Representative Ed Schrock would suddenly withdraw his re-election bid after he was accused of homosexual activity, which he refused to deny? Keep in mind that he was one of the ultra-conservatives, voting for the Federal Marriage Amendment and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
I can deal with honest disagreements of philosophy and religion and ethics, etc. But, it really annoys me when people are just plain hyprocritical!