Tags: automatic weapons, gun control, guns, helen ubinas;, homophobia, newcon conn, orlando massacre, terrorism
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Roger’s note: I cannot remember how many times I have written the phrase “truly frightening” in this space. Here we go again. “Get your automatic assault weapon capable of mowing down hundreds in a split second. Get it before the government bans all guns and before Obama himself breaks into your sacred home and not only takes away your arsenal but also your wife and firstborn.”
How many thousands of Americans are armed to repeat the Orlando massacre.
How many millions (billions?) of dollars in sales by the arms industry that writes NRA propaganda.
An informative article here, but concentrating on “fear and hate” misses the point that nearly all terrorist acts, domestically and internationally, are the direct product of the United States warring in Muslim countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc.) and the U.S. sponsored Israeli genocidal acts towards the Palestinian peoples.
A day after Orlando shooting, a similar gun to one Omar Mateen used is promoted as gun of the week
PHILADELPHIA — Seven minutes. That’s how long it took me to buy an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Seven minutes. From the moment I handed the salesperson my driver’s licence to the moment I passed my background check.
It likely will take more time than that during the forthcoming round of vigils to respectfully read the names of the more than 100 people who were killed or injured.
Surprising to some, perhaps, though it shouldn’t be, not at this point in our bloody, hate-filled history.
If it weren’t so easy to get a gun in this country, the 29-year-old gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a popular gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday wouldn’t have been able to buy the weapon he used to kill 49 people and injure 53.
If it weren’t so easy to get a gun in this country, another gunman who came before him wouldn’t have been able to use the same kind of firearm to kill elementary-school children in Newtown, Conn.
If it weren’t so appallingly easy to get a gun in this country, it wouldn’t be easy for the next gunman to deliver the kind of carnage that’s as much a part of this country as the American flag.
And there will undoubtedly be a next one.
This has been said, but bears repeating and repeating and repeating some more.
If nothing changed after children were slaughtered in their school, do any of us really believe anything will change after the deaths of people so many fear and loathe simply for trying to live their truths?
The gunman was apparently enraged over seeing a same-sex couple kiss. Think about that. Love enraged him. Love made him kill.
But I try not to think about any of that as I drive over to the gun shop in Philadelphia. I need to come up with some plausible story, I think. What if I’m asked why, a day after this massacre, I want to buy a nearly identical type of gun used to slaughter people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
I consider my options:
I’m a woman who wants a rifle for safety reasons.
I’m a gun enthusiast with a soft spot for military-style rifles.
I’m a card-carrying member of the NRA who is afraid the government will be coming for my guns.
Turns out I don’t need a story. The AR-15 is on display in the window of the gun shop. It is being promoted as the gun of the week.
What will it take to buy one, I ask the sales guy.
Do I have identification? Yes.
Am I a U.S. citizen? Yes.
“Bingo,” the friendly gun shop sales guy said. “All we have to do is fill paperwork out.”
I’ve filled out more paperwork at the doctor’s office for a routine checkup than I did Monday afternoon.
I felt a little squeamish about not telling him who I was and what I was trying to do, but this wasn’t about them; they weren’t doing anything illegal. The truth is that I could have bought the gun as easily in any gun shop in Pennsylvania. I just didn’t realize how easily.
Go to a licensed gun store. Fill out about a page and a half of forms. Wait (if that’s really the right word for it) for an instant background check, and then pay the man. I told the guy I was on a budget, so I got an AR-15 for $759.99. God bless America.
No need for a concealed carry permit. No mandatory training, though the guys did give me a coupon for a free day pass for a local gun range. No need for even a moment to at least consider how gross all of this felt as relatives of the dead were still being notified.
To be fair, there was an extra 10 or 15 minutes or so of chit-chat inside the gun store before I walked out with a cardboard box with the words Smith & Wesson emblazoned on it, and an attagirl for thinking ahead and buying the most popular rifle in the country before there’s a run on the gun from nervous gun owners who fear a ban on them.
“Yeah, because it was about the gun, not Islamic terrorism, right?” a man buying a gun offered, unsolicited.
Here we go, I thought.
The fact is, what shattered so many lives in the early hours Sunday was about many things.
Homophobia, first and foremost.
Radicalism — the American gunman claimed allegiance to Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, and praised the Boston Marathon bombers. Even if that’s not true, the radicals won’t have a problem with that.
And yes, guns. Insane, nonsensical access to guns. So pick whatever reason or narrative matches your politics or agenda.
Have at it, because the truth is that while they all play a part, what’s really destroying this country is fear and hate. A festering fear and hate that we better think about when it’s time to vote for our next president, because the fear and hate is not all coming from the outside. It’s not all from some unnamed foreign bogeyman. Increasingly it’s from within, from down the street, the next state over, the next potential leader of this country.
As I walked to my car with my brand-new gun, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I didn’t want it, but I also didn’t want it in anyone else’s hands either.
So I drove to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Sixth District, where I seemed to stump more than a few officers when I explained who I was and what I wanted to do. Have you ever tried to turn in a gun in this city? Spoiler alert: It takes longer than it does to buy a gun.
As an officer prepared the paperwork, I noticed a sign that hung on one of the walls.
United We Stand, it read.
My God, I thought, what a lie.
We are more divided every single day, and yet our answer to that is to meet fear and hate with more fear and hate and then expect a different outcome. To be shocked at the world we live in, left to do little else but hold vigils.
While we’re mourning the dead, let us mourn the national loss of humanity that is to blame for this world we have created.
And let us take more than seven minutes to do it.
Fried Chicken with a Side of Homophobia June 8, 2014Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, LGBT, Right Wing, Uncategorized.
Tags: Chick-fil-A, gay marriage, gay rights, homophobia, human rights, lgbt, roger hollander
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Would you like your fried chicken with a side of homophobia? That’s what’s on offer at the Calgary International Airport, where notoriously anti-gay restaurant Chick-fil-A has just opened its first Canadian branch.
The fervently Christian American company donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay organizations in 2010, with a particular focus on lobbying against equal marriage. In 2012 its CEO Dan T. Cathy owned up to being ‘guilty as charged’. He openly condemned those who “have the audacity to define what marriage is about,” saying they were “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”
Chick-fil-A has been beset with boycotts and protests ever since, but this hasn’t stopped it planning to expand into 108 new locations this year – including Canada.
Tell Chick-fil-A: we don’t want your bigoted views here. Please stay out of Canada. http://action.sumofus.org/a/canada-chick-fil-a/?akid=5589.1024433.toTN4K&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=2
The fast-food giant is one of the largest privately-held restaurant chains in the US, but its public image took a nose-dive in 2012 with revelations about its anti-gay stance. Since then, some new US branches have been prevented from opening, and one was removed from the University of Atlanta campus after opposition from students.
We can do the same in Canada. The Calgary branch opened quietly with almost no publicity. Reporters who did cover the launch were told not to ask customers about the restaurant’s anti-gay reputation. Chick-fil-A is clearly worried about a backlash. So let’s give it one!
Sign the petition to show Chick-fil-A that homophobia is not welcome in Canada.
Thank you for standing up for equal rights for everyone,
Angus, Hanna, Jon, and the rest of the team at SumOfUs
SumOfUs is a worldwide movement of people like you, working together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy.
Tags: Africa, anti-gay, evangelical, gay rights, homophobia, human rights, kenya, lgbt, mugabe, nigeria, pat robertson, religion, religious right, right wing, roger hollander, zimbabwe
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For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation all over Africa.
In Uganda, being gay can now earn you a lifetime in prison.
Last month, the East African country was again thrust into the international spotlight after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a draconian bill that criminalized homosexuality. The high profile, on-and-off battle over the so-called “kill the gays” bill has drawn headlines for years as the most extreme example in a wave of antigay legislation on the continent. But homophobia in Africa is not merely an African problem.
As the gay rights movement has gained traction in the United States, the more virulently homophobic ideologies of the religious right have been pushed further out of the mainstream and into fringe territory. But as their influence has waned at home, right-wing evangelists from the United States have been flexing their sanctimonious muscles influencing policymakers in Africa.
For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been injecting themselves into African politics, speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation on the continent. The influence of these groups has been well documented in Uganda. The now-defunct Exodus International, for example, sent Don Schmierer, a board member, to Uganda in 2009 to speak at a conference alongside Scott Lively, a pastor who was later sued by a Ugandan gay rights group for his role in promoting human rights violations against LGBTQ people. The two participated in a disturbing anti-gay conference, where speakers blamed homosexuals for the rise of Nazism and the Rwandan genocide, among other abhorrent acts. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a hard-right Christian group that is active in U.S. politics as well, similarly supported anti-gay laws in Uganda. At the peak of controversy over the “kill the gays” bill, Perkins praised the Ugandan president for “leading his nation to repentance.”
But such groups aren’t just active in Uganda. They have promoted antigay legislation in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, just to name a few other places. The support ranges from popular agitation and sideline cheerleading to outright intervention.
In 2010, for example, when Zimbabwe began the process of drafting a new constitution, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)—a Christian law firm founded by evangelist Pat Robertson—launched a Zimbabwean counterpart called the African Centre for Law and Justice. The outpost trained lawyers for the express purpose of putting a Christian stamp on the draft of the new constitution.
The African Centre joined forces with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), an indigenous organization, to promote constitutional language affirming that Zimbabwe is a Christian nation and ensuring that homosexuality remained illegal. These and other hardline views are outlined in a pamphlet distributed by the EFZ and ACLJ. Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of ACLJ, announced that his organization would lobby for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in political and religious circles in the event of any controversy over the provisions, despite the fact that the Zimbabwean president has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for violating human rights. Last year, Zimbabwe’s new constitution, which includes a ban on gay marriage, was approved by an overwhelming popular vote.
ACLJ’s Kenyan-based offshoot, the East African Center for Law and Justice (EACLJ), made an effort to lobby against Kenya’s progressive new constitution as well. In April 2010, a report on the group’s website called homosexuality “unacceptable” and “foreign” and called for the Kenyan constitution to clearly define marriage as between a man and a woman, thus closing the door on future laws that could attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. In this case the ECLJ was unsuccessful, and the new constitution was approved without any language regarding same-sex marriage.
Pat Robertson’s entanglements in Africa go well beyond Zimbabwe and Kenya.
In 1960, Robertson created The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which broadcasts through cable and satellite to over 200 countries. Robertson is a co-host on the 700 Club, arguably CBN’s most popular show. From his perch on the show, Roberts has made a seemingly endless variety of inflammatory remarks about LGBTQ people and just about everyone else that does not fall in line with his own religious thinking.
In the United States, Robertson’s vitriol can be brushed aside as the antiquated ravings of a fringe figure. Not so in much of Africa. A survey conducted in 2010 found that 74 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, had watched at least one CBN show in the previous year. That’s a remarkable reach considering Nigeria is home to over 80 million Christians.
Robertson’s influence plays into an increasingly hostile political climate for gays in the country. Last January, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which provides punishments of up to 14 years imprisonment for a gay marriage and up to 10 years for membership in or encouragement of gay clubs and organizations. The enactment of the law was followed by a wave of arrests of gay men—and widespread denouncement from the international community.
The religious right, however, doesn’t see Nigerian laws regarding homosexuality as a gross violation of human rights, but rather as protection of “traditional marriage.” In 2011, on the heels of the Nigerian Senate passing an earlier version of the anti-gay law, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would officially promote LGBTQ rights abroad as part of its development framework. In response, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute denounced the administration’s directive for putting “U.S. foreign policy on a collision course with religious freedom.”
MassResistance, a Massachusetts-based organization that bills itself as a “pro-family” activist group, praised Nigeria when the Nigerian House passed an earlier version of the bill that President Jonathan signed into law on January 7. In a statement, the group said that African nations are “feeling the brunt” of the gay rights movement, claiming that the “huge spread of AIDS” and the “breakdown in society caused by the homosexual movement seems to bring more general social destruction in African cultures than in the West.” Anti-gay laws in Nigeria have enjoyed unequivocal support from some hardline evangelical groups in the United States, with some going so far as to travel to Nigeria to spread anti-gay sentiment.
One such group is Family Watch International (FWI), another U.S.-based “pro-family” advocacy group. Formed in 1999 and headed by Sharon Slater, FWI boasts members and supporters from over 170 countries. In 2011, Slater was the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, where she touted her beliefs on homosexuality, telling delegates that they would no longer have religious freedom and homosexuals would prey on their children if they supported “fictitious sexual rights.” To Slater and her ilk, the rights of LGBTQ persons are imaginary.
FWI even wields influence within the United Nations. In early 2011, FWI co-hosted a “Global Family Policy Forum” in Phoenix, Arizona. Over the two-day event, FWI coached 26 UN staffers from 23 different countries in attendance on how to resist UN initiatives on gay rights. An FWI newsletter claimed that conference attendees were finally hearing scientific and clinical “evidence” that homosexuality was not genetically determined and could be cured by therapy.
To some, the belief that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured may seem too ridiculous to even entertain. But if the devout can’t win at home, they’ll take their message abroad. It’s up to the international community and African activists dedicated to human rights to put an end to this export of hate.
A Secular Humanist Jew’s Thoughts on Yom Kippur: On Atheism and Theism, and on Religion and Organized Religion October 15, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Religion, Right Wing.
Tags: atheism, church, dominionism, fundamentalism, homophobia, islamophobia, israel, judiasm, organized religion, pope francis, relgious right, religion, religous fatih, republican right, roger hollander, secular humanism, secular jew, tea party, yom kuppur
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Roger’s note: Here is a thoughtful article on Judaism and organized religion in general. We live in an age of superstition and no-nothingism, and this is most frightening. Fanatic fundamentalist anti-intellectual and arrogant theism has reached to the highest levels of power and authority in the U.S. Republican Party, and in India and much of the Islamic world Hindu and Muslim fundamentalism also has become ubiquitous in places of great political, social, cultural and economic power. Overcoming this institutionalized irrationality with Fascistic overtones is one of the great challenges of our time.
OpEdNews Op Eds 10/14/2013 at 16:13:26
For Secular Humanist Jews like myself Yom Kippur is not a day of atonement, as it is for theist Jews. We may well have done wrong things in the past year, but we do not regard them as “sins.” “Sin” is a religious concept requiring the existence of an unknown, unknowable, and unprovable, yet somehow all-powerful super-natural being which at some level has control over our lives or parts of them. For us, Yom Kippur, the most important day in the Jewish calendar, is a day of renewal and rededication. We reflect, we restore, we renew — we look ahead, not behind.
Humanists Celebrate Reality, without prejudice (except when told what religious views to hold, by law) by Napolean_70
Before getting on to what I resolved to renew my efforts in dealing with, let me say that as a humanist, an atheist, for my whole life, I am used to be looked down upon (or worse) by theists. Imagine my surprise, then, when I read of what the new Pope, Francis, had to say about atheists, of which I am surely one, in a lengthy response to a journalist’s questions (click here): ” “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying — and this is the fundamental thing — that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience [emphasis added].”
Even in a column like this one, I have to say “Wow, that is quite a statement,” especially coming from the Pope. (One can hardly imagine it coming from any of the lay or clerical leaders of the Republican Religious Right in the United States.) It did make me return to consider a line of reasoning about religious persons, as contrasted with organized religion, that I have held for quite some time. The Pope made it clear that he does not have a problem with atheists, per se. And so, I would like to make it clear that I do not have a problem with theists, per se. Yes, I do understand and agree with all of the arguments against the existence of an unknown, unknowable and unprovable “God” or “Gods” (think Hinduism, of which there are about 1 billion adherents). But I do think that it is a waste of time to argue against the concept, and worse to make fun of it, that majority of the world’s population who are theists of one sort or another hold to.
The problem, for atheists/humanists and, at many times in history theists of one sort confronting theists of another sort as well, is Organized Religion, like the Catholic Church, like the Republican Religious Right (political by definition), like political Islam, like indeed political Orthodox Judaism in modern Israel. Our argument is not, or should not be, with belief and the believers. The struggle of humanists and believers alike who are devoted to the fundamental interests of humanity must be focused not on each other but on our common enemy: those who use religion to advance their own political and economic interests to arrogate to themselves and their patrons resources and the product of economic activity that neither benefit humanity as a whole nor have anything to do with religion, those otherwise known variously as “corporatism,” the “global economy [privately held],” and capitalism.
Further, it must be understood by all that over the centuries of human civilization, more of our brethren have been killed in religious wars, or wars waged for “religious” reasons, or in wars in which organized religions have been an ally of one or more of the warring states, than for all of the other causes put together. In the Second World War, hardly a religious war in the sense that the crusades or Catholic/Protestant wars of 16th and 17th century Europe were, nevertheless, on the belt buckle of every German Wehrmacht soldier was the slogan (originated by the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s) “Gott mit Uns.” The traditional Japanese religion of ancestor worship, Shinto, was mobilized by the fascist leadership to help them mobilize the whole population behind the war effort. The Catholic Church was closely allied with both Benito Mussolini’s (Italian) and Francisco Franco’s (Spanish) fascist states. In the United States, it was not like that, but there were the frequent imprecations to God for support in battle and even a popular song that I remember well from my youth during that conflict: “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”
Presently, The US Republican Party runs in major part on the issues that are central to the Fundamentalist Christians and Jews who are central to the Republican base: homophobia, religious determinism in policy governing the outcome of pregnancy, the introduction of organized religious activity into the public schools, and in general the steady erosion of the Constitutional boundaries separating church and state. In political Islam, “Islamism” is very clear that its goal is to take full political power so that it may rule under the provisions of “Sharia Law.” (Funnily enough, many of the provisions of Sharia Law, against which the Islamophobes of the Republican Religious Right just love to rail, are strikingly similar to the law that the latter would like to impose across the United States. The central feature of both is that “religious law” [as they interpret it of course] should stand above any civil constitution. Don’t believe me? Just ask Rick Santorum, the Dominionist Mike Huckabee, Antonin Scalia, and etc.) For many Israelis on the Right, the whole policy that has been followed by their Right-wing governments over the years, the gradual erosion and (the hoped for) eventual expulsion (voluntary or involuntary) of the Arab population in the Occupied Territories is based on the Biblical concept of the “Land of Israel.”
Through my writing I have been fighting the forces of the Republican Religious Right for some years. The original of my current book The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel ( http://www.puntopress.com/jonas-the-15-solution-hits-main-distribution/ ) was published in 1996. And so, what is my renewal for this, the Jewish New Year? To rededicate myself to that struggle, but to feature the line of reasoning that I have outlined above. Our struggle is not with religion, per se, nor with its adherents, as individuals. Our struggle is most correctly with Organized Religion and how it is used to further the interests of Reaction by every government around the world that does use it in one way or another, which in modern times means capitalism and all of its present and future negative outcomes for all of mankind, whether theist or humanist. That is our challenge, and for the preservation of our species and indeed many others, that is the challenge we have to meet.
Nigeria is days from passing the “Jail the Gays” bill November 16, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in LGBT, Nigeria.
Tags: anti-gay, Goodluck Jonathan, homophobia, lgbt, nigeria, roger hollander, same sex
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Nigeria is days from passing the “Jail the Gays” bill – one of the harshest anti-gay laws the world has ever seen. The proposed law will mean 10 years in prison for two people daring to hold hands in public.
After a year languishing in the House of Assembly, the “Jail the Gays” bill has been rushed through with zero notice. The only roadblock before it becomes law is one signature – President Goodluck Jonathan’s. Last year, 65,000 of us stood against this bill and it was abandoned! Can you take one minute to help us do it again? It takes only one minute but it could change history:
When the bill was first introduced, politicians said there were no gay people in their country. Our friends in Nigeria have said they are not taking this lying down – they’ve got a plan and they’re asking for our help. Right now, they are organising an unprecedented response of African advocates – both straight and gay – to speak out against this bill. Today, we are showing that not only do Nigerian LGBT people exist, but the whole world has their back. Will you stand with Nigerians against this hateful law and help us to get to 100,000 signatures?
The only way to stop this bill is to trumpet Nigerian voices for equality – supported by millions around the world. President Jonathan can veto the bill – and if he hears these Nigerian voices, he’ll have to.
We know we can drive the right message to every government and media organisation around the world to make sure President Goodluck Jonathan knows his people and their allies will not tolerate him signing this bill into law. Will you take one minute and add your name now?
Thanks for going All Out.
Best, Andre, Hayley, Jeremy, Sara and the rest of the All Out team.
Nigerian law-makers move ahead on anti-gay bill www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/Nigerian-lawmakers-move-ahead-on-anti-gay-bill
“Gay panic” is not a defense July 16, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Australia, Criminal Justice, LGBT.
Tags: australia, australia law, gay bashing, gay panic, gay rights, homophobia, lgbt, mary elizabeth williams, panic defense, queensland, roger hollander
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Monday, Jul 16, 2012 11:10 AM EST, www.salon.com
Believe it or not, there are still places where an alleged killer can claim the victim was coming on to him
Who could use a reminder today that not all Christians are homophobic lunatics trying to bend the Bible to justify their bigotry? Meeeeeee!
So let’s give props to the Catholic priest Rev. Fr. Paul Kelly of Maryborough, Australia, who took a stand against — and illuminated the horrific stupidity — of one his nation’s most cruelly backward laws. As Father Kelly explains in the Change.org petition he started, “A loophole in Queensland law allows people accused of murder to defend themselves in court by claiming ‘gay panic’ — that is, if someone who they think is gay ‘comes onto’ them, the sheer panic they feel is partial justification for murder.” And you thought Stand Your Ground was dangerously insane? There are places in the world where the mere perception that someone of your own gender might be into you gives you the right to kill him or her.
As Father Kelly writes, “A man was killed in my church’s grounds, and one of his killers used this same ‘gay panic’ defense. They were eventually acquitted of murder.” In 2008 Wayne Robert Ruks was punched and kicked to death by two men at the church. His killers claimed Ruks “made homosexual advances” and tried to grab Pearce’s crotch. They were jailed for the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Ruks’ family, by the way, has stated that he wasn’t gay. And Opposition Leader Campbell Newman argues that “It’s important to note that the defense of provocation is not based on one sexuality, it’s open to any Queenslander.” But the Queensland government vowed six months ago to close the legal loophole that would allow a defendant to use the claim of nonviolent homosexual advances as a justification for killing in Queensland.
Sadly, that promise recently fell through. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie confirmed Monday that “The Liberal National Party remains tough on crime. However, given these laws are yet to be tested, (it) does not intend to make any further amendments to the provocation defense at this time.” He described any amendment to existing law as “unnecessary.”
As Father Kelly says, “I’m utterly appalled that a law that so revoltingly and openly discriminates against gay people is still tolerated in a modern society. Laws like the ‘gay panic’ defense are a crucial part of legitimizing and reinforcing a culture of hate which means that 73 percent of gay and lesbian Queenslanders are subjected to verbal abuse or physical violence for their sexuality.” And while we’re being revolted here, let’s add the fact that loopholes like this are hurtful to gay and straight citizens alike. They tell everyone that any paranoid freak has the right to interpret their actions as some big scary gay come-on and bash their heads in accordingly.
As a person who had this happen in his own parish, Father Kelly can speak with unique authority on why this is utter BS. He seems like a pretty cool guy in general. If you leaf through some of his recent sermons online, you’ll see a man who preaches to his flock about the value of “wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, reverence and wonder,” and who tells them that “fear is the great enemy.” He’s doing the work a spiritual leader is supposed to do – inspiring social change and positive action. His online campaign has in recent days caught fire, garnering 163,000 signatures, including Stephen Fry’s. It’s also created a Twitter storm against “#gaypanic” and earned the endorsement of Kelly’s fellow clergy. Over the weekend, Capetown Catholic priest Father Stefan Hippler tweeted his “support for my brother priest in Australia and his campaign.” Hippler, by the way, is busily and fiercely fighting for tolerance among his own followers, most recently condemning Uganda’s Catholic bishops for speaking in favor of “traditional family and its values” within a culture that punishes homosexuality with death.
In a world where people are still so freaked out by the mere idea of homosexuality — by the possibility of a same-sex gesture — that they can use it to justify the most violent and despicable acts, we all need to speak out and say this is beyond wrong. That this is stupid. We cannot as a society excuse repellent behavior; we have to strike down outdated laws that protect it. And to do so, we desperately need people who have a voice and a platform. Maybe even a pulpit, guys. Father Paul Kelly was personally affected by an unspeakable crime at his doorstep, so he’s doing something about it. He’s fighting hate with humanity, ignorance with light. Because that’s exactly what Christians are supposed to do. Thanks for the reminder, Father.
Tags: Brazil, catholic bigotry, catholic church, civil unions, gay marriage, gay rights, gay rights revolution, homophobia, human rights, katie soltis, Latin America, lgbt, same sex civil union, same-sex marriage
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The Brazilian Supreme Court’s recognition of same-sex unions in early May marks the latest victory for gay rights in Latin America. The Court’s ruling grants equal legal rights to same-sex civil unions as those enjoyed by married heterosexuals, including retirement benefits, joint tax declarations, inheritance rights, and child adoption.While the Supreme Court did not go so far as to legalize gay marriage, gay rights groups such as Rio de Janeiro’s Rainbow Group have nevertheless praised the decision as an “historic achievement.”1 The decision passed 10-0 with one abstention, but the justice who abstained had previously spoken in favor of same-sex unions.
An Unlikely Victory
As the world’s largest Roman Catholic country, Brazil was an unlikely venue for such a promising gay rights victory. The Roman Catholic Church has actively fought proposals for same-sex unions in Brazil, arguing that the Brazilian Constitution defines a “family entity” as “a stable union between a man and a woman.”2 The Catholic Church responded to the recent ruling with outrage. As Archbishop Anuar Battisti put it, the Supreme Court’s decision marked a “frontal assault” on the sanctity of the family.3
The Catholic Church is losing its power in Brazil, which helped pave the way for the Supreme Court’s recent decision in favor of homosexuals. Nevertheless, homophobia retains a tenacious grip on Brazilian society. Despite the fact that the nation boasts the world’s largest gay pride parade, the LGBT movement has been unable to achieve fundamental progress and quell discrimination at a societal level. For instance, Marcelo Cerqueira, the head of the Gay Group of Bahia, claims the country is “number one when it comes to assassination, discrimination and violence against homosexuals.”4 Additionally, in a disconcerting report, the Gay Group of Bahia found that 260 Brazilian gay people were murdered in 2010, exemplifying the level of hostility towards homosexuals.5 Because of this discriminating environment, gay rights activists traditionally have had little success in Brazil. Most notably, Congress disregarded proposals for gay rights legislation for nearly ten years.
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling was therefore a major turning point after a history of protracted, unsuccessful struggles. The judicial decision was made in response to two lawsuits, one of which was filed by Rio de Janeiro Governor Sérgio Cabral and the other by the Office of the Attorney General. While Congress repeatedly ignored requests for equal rights for gay Brazilian citizens, the Supreme Court argued that “Those who opt for a homosexual union cannot be treated less than equally as citizens.”6 In this way, by appealing to the judicial system, the LGBT movement was able to achieve success despite deep-seated hostility throughout Brazilian society and in other branches of the government.
Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution
Professor Omar Encarnación of Bard College calls the recent string of gay rights legislation in Latin America a “gay rights revolution.”7 Brazil’s ruling came on the heels of several other noteworthy gay rights victories in Latin America, such as Uruguay’s legalization of same-sex civil unions in 2007. Shortly thereafter, in 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American nation and eighth nation worldwide to legalize gay marriage. Other landmark decisions in the past few years include Uruguay’s decision to allow all men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, to serve in the military and Mexico City’s legalization of same-sex civil unions.
The recent surge in gay rights victories throughout Latin America is altogether stunning, considering the region has generally been regarded as very homophobic. The Catholic Church has traditionally been a formidable enemy to gay rights movements in the region, but the secularization of much of Latin America has led to the impressive expansion of opportunities for gay rights movements.
Yet this success of gay rights movements throughout Latin America cannot be attributed solely to the declining importance of religion in the region. It is equally important, if not more so, to recognize the vital roles played by gay activist groups and the dynamic strategies these groups employ. For instance, gay rights groups in Brazil were able to reverse legislation banning gays from the workplace by forming partnerships with progressive businesses. In recent years, the use of social media has provided much of the gay movement’s momentum by enhancing activist groups’ ability to communicate and spread information. For instance, as Javier Corrales notes, by simply posting a video of a hate crime in San Juan or of a gay wedding in Argentina on YouTube, gay rights groups have been able to reach thousands of people and garner support.8 These innovative strategies have brought success despite a notably hostile environment towards homosexuals.
Through a comparison with the United States, we can see how remarkable the success of gay rights in Latin America has been. Latin America is marked by a much more homophobic environment than the U.S., according to a survey conducted by Mitchell Seligson and Daniel Moreno Morales.9 However, although the U.S. has lower levels of societal discrimination towards gays, it is hard to imagine that the United States would completely legalize same-sex civil unions or gay marriage on a national scale. The fact that this legalization occurred in several Latin American nations, despite the formidable opposition there, makes these recent rulings even more significant.
Furthermore, the recent victories for gay rights exemplify the considerable progress toward the region’s consolidation of democracy. The three Latin American countries that have now legalized same-sex unions—Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay—were each ruled by repressive military regimes just over two decades ago. Even Colombia, which is one of the region’s worst human rights violators, granted same-sex unions equal rights regarding social security benefits and inheritance rights in 2007. The fact that gay liberation movements have been successful in these unlikely places is a testament to how far these countries have progressed in recent years.
References for this article can be found here
Tags: Africa, Bible, bigotry, evangelical, fundamentalism, gay rights, homophobia, human rights, lgbt, religion, religious bigotry, roger hollander, uganda, valerie tarico
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Christian extremists in Uganda’s parliament are hoping that hunger and high gas prices will provide the cover they need to finally subject gay men to punishment of biblical proportions. They haveintroduced a bill, up for vote on May 11, that seeks life imprisonment for gay sex and, for repeat offenders, the death penalty. Last year, similar legislation was averted by international outrage. President Museveni was afraid of losing valuable aid dollars, and after outcry arose across the West, with Barack Obama calling the law “odious,” Museveni prevented the bill from coming to a vote.
Stopping the bill was insufficient to save the life of one Ugandan,David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in January. Kato was Uganda’s most outspoken gay rights advocate and had received many death threats before he was killed. In the winter months before his death, one newspaper ran a front page photo of Kato with an anti-gay rant and a banner urging “Hang them.” Last spring I traveled in Mozambique, where a full-page article in a local paper interspersed Bible verses, exhortations to spiritual living, and similar anti-gay vitriol. Although leading fundamentalists like Albert Mohler appear increasinglyresignedto “tolerance” here at home, across Africa the marriage of Christianity and homophobia appears to be thriving—thanks in part to an American tendency to take our outdated wares and social movements overseas.
Two years ago, I wrote an article that asked, “If the Bible Were Law, Would You Qualify for the Death Penalty?” It described some of the thirty six causes for capital punishment listed in the Good Book, including cursing parents, witchcraft, being raped (only within the city limits), adultery, and of course, homosexual sex. Mercifully, even the most old school American Christians seem to ignore the Bible on these points. But one of the unfortunate consequences of Americans exporting biblical literalism to developing countries is thatpeople in those countries take the Bible literally– including the parts we all, missionaries included, wish they wouldn’t. In Nigeria, American Pentecostalism has fused with local animism and resulted in children being beaten and burned as witches, just like the Bible prescribes.
In Uganda, American evangelism may besimilarly responsiblefor Kato’s death and the proposed law. In March 2009, frustrated by their inability to block the gradual inclusion of gays in the universal human rights umbrella at home, Evangelical leaders traveled to Uganda and led incendiary workshops seeking to increase Ugandan fear that gay men are a threat to straight marriages and children. It would appear that Uganda’s already fractured and restive society is reaping what the American missionaries have sown: further contention and violence.
“I don’t want anyone killed,” said Mr. Schmierer, one of the Evangelical leaders who traveled to Uganda two years ago. “But I don’t feel I had anything to do with that [Kato’s death].” Many evangelicals, those who see the Bible as literally perfect, find it almost impossible to imagine that the Bible itself could be responsible for inciting violence or that those who preach biblical inerrancy could be complicit in that violence. And yet other Christians, those who see the Bible as the imperfect record of the imperfect struggle of our spiritual ancestors, find this causal chain quite plausible. According to theologian Thom Stark (The Human Faces of God),the biblical record attributes divine sanction in places to some of the worst of Iron Age impulses, including human sacrifice. Unless we understand those writings in their human context we are bound to glorify passages that instead should teach us about the darkness in the human spirit. And glorifying human darkness puts us at risk of enacting it.
It is troubling that of the many offerings that might have been carried by American Christians to Africa in the service of theGreat Commandment, what has been carried instead are the seeds of homophobia—fear, hatred, and death. It will take many voices raised together to reverse the damage done by a few misguided missionaries. I hope those voices will be raised this week (petition here)and again next year, and for as many years as are needed until Uganda’s gay community can live in love and peace
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist. She is the author of ‘Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light’. She is also the founder of WisdomCommons.org.
A Heaven-Sent Rent Boy May 16, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, LGBT.
Tags: anti-gay, Civil Rights, elena kagan, frank rich, gay, gay adoption, gay marriage, gay rights, george rekers, homophobia, homosexuality, hypocrisy, laura bush, lesbian, lgbt, rentboy, roger hollander, same sex, same-sex marriage
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Op-Ed Columnist, www.nytimes.com
By FRANK RICH
Published: May 14, 2010
OF all wars, only culture wars offer the hope of sheer, unadulterated hilarity. Sex and hypocrisy were staples of farce long before America became a nation, and they never go out of style. Just listen to the roaring audience at the new hit Broadway revival of the perennial “La Cage aux Folles,” where a family-values politician gets his comeuppance in drag. Or check out the real-life closet case of George Rekers, who has been fodder for late-night television comics all month.
Rekers is in a class by himself even in the era of Larry Craig and Ted Haggard. A Baptist minister and clinical psychologist with a bent for “curing” homosexuality, the married, 61-year-old Rekers was caught by Miami New Times last month in the company of a 20-year-old male escort at Miami International Airport. The couple was returning from a 10-day trip to London and Madrid. New Times, which published its exposé in early May, got an explanation from Rekers: “I had surgery, and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”
Alas, a photo showed Rekers, rather than his companion, handling the baggage cart. The paper also reported that Rekers had recruited the young man from Rentboy.com, a Web site whose graphic sexual content requires visitors to vouch for their age. Rentboy.com — really, who could make this stuff up?
Much like the former Senator Craig, Rekers claims it was all an innocent mix-up. His only mistake, he told the magazine Christianity Today, was to hire a “travel assistant” without proper vetting. Their travels were not in vain. The good minister expressed gratitude that his rent boy “did let me share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him with many Scriptures in three extended conversations.”
This is a family newspaper, so you must supply your own jokes here.
But once we stop laughing, we must remember that culture wars are called wars for a reason. For all the farcical shenanigans they can generate, they do inflict real casualties — both at the micro level, on the lives of ordinary people, and at the national level, where, as we’re seeing right now, a Supreme Court nominee’s entire record can be reduced to a poisonous and distorted debate over her stand on the single culture-war issue of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Rekers is no bit player in these wars. Though he’s not a household name, he should be. He’s the Zelig of homophobia, having played a significant role in many of the ugliest assaults on gay people and their civil rights over the last three decades. His public career dates back to his authorship of a theoretically scholarly 1982 tome titled “Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.” (I say theoretically because many of the footnotes cite his own previous writings.) And what did Rekers think that families should know? By Chapter 2, he is citing the cautionary tale of how one teacher’s “secret homosexual lifestyle most likely led to his murder.”
Rekers soon went on to become a co-founder with James Dobson of the Family Research Council, a major, if not the major, activist organization of the religious right as well as a power broker in the Republican Party. When the Miami scandal broke, the council’s current president, Tony Perkins, quickly tried to distance himself, claiming that he had to review “historical records” to verify who Rekers was and that his organization had “no contact” with him or “knowledge of his activities” for over a decade.
That historical record is hardly as obscure as Perkins maintained. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC found that only weeks before Rekers’s excellent European adventure, his name appeared on the masthead of an official-looking letter sent to some 14,000 school superintendents nationwide informing them that homosexuality is a choice that can be stamped out by therapy. The letter was from the “American College of Pediatricians” — a misnomer for what is actually a political organization peddling homophobic junk-science. Rekers was also on the board of another notorious peddler of gay “cures” — the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, or Narth — until he resigned last week. Such groups have done nothing to stop homosexuality but plenty to help promote punitive “treatment” and suicidal depression among untold numbers of gay youths.
No less destructive has been Rekers’s role in maintaining the draconian Florida law prohibiting adoptions by gay couples and individuals, a relic of the Anita Bryant era. When the law was challenged in court two years ago, the state Attorney General Bill McCollum personally intervened to enlist Rekers as an expert witness to uphold it. Rekers charged $120,000 for his services — a taxpayers’ expenditure now becoming an issue in the Florida gubernatorial race, where McCollum is a Republican candidate to succeed Charlie Crist. A Miami judge ruled Florida’s law unconstitutional, and even now McCollum is appealing that decision.
Rekers was also an expert witness in a similar court case in Arkansas in 2004. That anti-gay-adoption law was also ruled unconstitutional. (His bill there was $200,000, but he settled for $60,000.) In 1998 Rekers was hired as an expert witness by the Boy Scouts to uphold its gay ban in a case before the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission. And then there’s Rekers’s cameo in the current Proposition 8 trial in California: one of his homophobic screeds can be found in the bibliography for the “expert report” by David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, the star witness for the anti-same-sex-marriage forces.
Thanks to Rekers’s clownish public exposure, we now know that his professional judgments are windows into his cracked psyche, not gay people’s. But there is nothing funny about the destruction his writings and public activities have sown. His fringe views have not remained on the fringe. His excursions into public policy have had real and damaging consequences on a large swath of Americans.
The crusade he represents is, thankfully, on its last legs. American attitudes about homosexuality continue to change very fast. In the past month, as square a cultural venue as Archie comic books has announced the addition of a gay character, the country singer Chely Wright has come out as a lesbian, and Laura Bush has told Larry King that she endorses the “same” rights for all committed couples and believes same-sex marriage “will come.” All of this news has been greeted by most Americans with shrugs, as it should be.
But the rear-guard remnants of the Rekers crowd are not going down without a fight, and their focus on Elena Kagan has been most revealing. There are many grounds to debate Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, wherever you are on the political spectrum. There are many questions about her views and record that remain unanswered. But from the get-go the preponderance of the debate on the right has been about her handling of military recruitment as dean at Harvard Law School. Here her history is unambiguous.
Despite her critics’ cries, Kagan never banned military recruitment of law students and never denigrated the military in word or deed. She followed Harvard’s existing (and unexceptional) antidiscrimination policy while a court battle played out over a Congressional act denying federal funds to universities barring military recruiters. She was so cautious — too cautious, I’d argue — that she did not join the majority of her own faculty in urging Harvard to sue the government over the funding law, limiting her action instead to the signing of an amicus brief.
She did declare that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was “a moral injustice of the first order.” Given that a Washington Post-ABC News poll in February showed that 75 percent of Americans want that policy rescinded — as do the president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense — this is hardly a view out of the American mainstream. Yet if you went to the Web site of the organization Rekers co-founded, the Family Research Council, and clicked on “Tony Perkins’ Washington Update” last week, you’d have found a head shot of Kagan with the legend “Deep Ties With the Gay Agenda.” What those “deep ties” are is never stated. Indeed, Kagan said only last year that “there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
The Family Research Council’s line has been embraced by the non-fringe right, including some Republicans in the Senate. In mid-April, a full month before Kagan’s nomination was even announced, The Wall Street Journal preemptively hyped this plan of attack with a conspicuously placed news article headlined “Kagan Foes Cite Gay-Rights Stand.” The only foes cited were religious right organizations.
The real game became clear when that same week a former Bush aide and Republican Senate staffer published unsubstantiated rumors about Kagan’s private life in a blog at CBSNews.com. (It was taken down after White House denials.) Those rumors have chased all unmarried Supreme Court justices or would-be justices loathed by the right, whether Republicans like David Souter and Harriet Miers or the previous Obama choice, Sonia Sotomayor.
By late last week, double-entendre wisecracks about Kagan’s softball prowess were all the rage on Fox News and MSNBC. These dying gasps of our culture wars, like Rekers’s farcical pratfall, might be funnier if millions of gay Americans and their families were not still denied their full civil rights.
The Salvation Army: It Gets Worse December 21, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Religion.
Tags: charitable dontations, charitable organizations, charity, christmas, gay rights, glbt, homophobia, human rights, mary shaw, religion, roger hollander, salvation army, soup kitchens
By Mary Shaw (about the author)
www.opednews.com, December 21, 2009
It’s that time of year again. At shopping centers everywhere, representatives from the Salvation Army, dressed in their paramilitary attire, ring their bells and aggressively invite your holiday donations. And I always see people eagerly throwing money into their big red kettles. I suspect that most of these generous individuals aren’t aware of what their dollars are actually funding.
Last year I wrote a column titled “The Salvation Army’s red kettle of trouble”, in which I outlined the Salvation Army’s long and disturbing history of religious coercion, abuse, and intolerance. An excerpt:
I have spoken with a number of people who have sought assistance from the Salvation Army in the past, particularly for disaster relief. I was told of how these people were preached to and forced into praying with the Salvation Army folks to their Christian God as a prerequisite for receiving services. If you’re Jewish, tough. If you’re Hindu, tough. Gotta pray their way, to their God, or else you’re not worthy of assistance. It’s quid pro quo. Gotta take advantage of people when they’re most vulnerable. Contrast this with the secular Red Cross, which just wants to help disaster victims, not save their souls. (In the interest of full disclosure, I personally received help from the Red Cross when my apartment building burned down in 2001. They were extremely helpful and compassionate, and expected nothing in return.) As if the religious coercion isn’t enough, the Salvation Army has also been implicated in a number of cases of alleged sexual abuse, ranging from molestation of child members of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield swim team in Seattle to pedophile rings that operated out of Salvation Army-run orphanages in Australia and New Zealand. (Yes, they like to “spread the love” worldwide.)
The Salvation Army is also homophobic — so much so that they would stop helping the poor if it meant they had to respect equal rights for gays and lesbians. In 2004, they threatened to close their soup kitchens in New York City rather than comply with the city’s legislation requiring firms to offer domestic partnership benefits to gay employees.
In the year since I wrote that piece, I have heard from several people who have shared their own negative experiences with the Salvation Army. Their stories have reinforced — and even worsened — my own impressions of the organization. A retired U.S. military officer contacted me after considering the Salvation Army for his charitable donations. He wrote:
“I’m glad I came upon your article about the Salvation Army. I have been considering leaving my worldly goods to them because I thought they did nothing but good. I had second thoughts when I was late in answering their charitable request. I have since found many disturbing facts about the Salvation Army.”
A former Salvation Army volunteer from Canada shared his experience with some ethical issues:
“Everyone [at the Salvation Army] liked me, because I also went to the service on Sundays. I am a believer in God. After 4 weeks [as a Salvation Army volunteer], I noticed whatever came in the back door for donation, for the poor, also left through the back door, and never reached the vulnerable or needy. All the good stuff the volunteers took. “I complained to one of the Salvation Army workers, That this should not be happening so close to Christmas. I was told to keep quiet, because the Major and some of the volunteers had an understanding. I was told to look the other way. I tried to ignore it, but it became very hard, especially when a local business donated six big boxes of clothes and shoes for children. All went missing.
“I complained again, and now I was labeled a troublemaker. In the end, I was told to leave.”
But by far the most compelling response I got was from an anonymous emailer who contacted me through a Yahoo account, probably accessed via a public library or other community Internet resource. This woman, who signed the email message simply as “Feeling helpless”, wrote:
“I am a homeless woman living at the Salvation Army women’s shelter. Can you help me expose the Salvation Army? I have so much to tell you but I can not do it by email.”
Unfortunately, no other contact information was included, and my attempts at follow-up seem to have fallen through, but hopefully she received my suggestion that she contact the appropriate authorities and the local media for immediate help in exposing and addressing whatever issues she was facing. This woman clearly needed more help than I alone can provide through my own writing and activism. I hope that her situation has since improved. The bottom line is this: While the Salvation Army may have done some good work over the years in providing assistance to the poor, the addicted, and the marginalized, their methods and practices are not ones that I approve of. There are many other nonprofit organizations out there that provide similar services in a more ethical manner.
And, if you’re a Christian, consider this: The ironic thing about the Salvation Army’s practices is that they do all that while labeling themselves as “Christian”. But think about it: If Jesus were here today, he surely would not approve of their methods.
So please think twice before tossing your spare change into their red kettles of trouble. Think about what you would be supporting with your hard-earned cash.
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more…)