Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene: God's Judgement on New York?

I am sure that tonight, people all around the nation are in a buzz about Hurricane Irene and the potential devastation that might come to the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in the coming days. Many people, desiring to make sense of it all, will ask questions such as "Is Hurricane Irene a sign from God?" or "Is God punishing the Northeast - especially the state of New York - for its acceptance of the "gay lifestyle" and the regions embrace of gay marriage?"

I would not be surprised if these are questions/statements that we will be hearing from many Religious Right leaders if Irene has the impact on the New England coastline that forecasters are predicting it will.  After all, it was Pat Robertson, founder of the Religious Right's Regent University, who just a few days ago, claimed that the cracks in the Washington Monument, caused by the recent Virginia earthquake, were a sign from God that His favor upon the U.S. was diminishing.

To those in the Religious Right, the Bible "clearly" teaches that God controls where and why natural disasters strike. In order to make sense of these natural disasters in their own minds and their view of a loving omnipotent God, they assign blame to those whom the natural disaster strikes. It must be those in New Orleans' fault, for example, for being so hedonistic that Katrina would cause such devastation. The Haitian earthquake must have been the people of Haiti's fault; because they made a "pact with the devil" (Pat Robertson). In the world of the Religious Right, natural disasters are not "natural disasters" and do not happen indiscriminately. Instead, they happen for a distinct and purposeful reason.

Yet, at the same time, when a tornado hits Joplin, Missouri or Tuscaloosa, Alabama,  leaders of the Religious Right are interestingly silent. Though they like to preach messages of judgement, it does not make sense for the socially conservative and "Christian" states of the Bible Belt to receive the wrath of God. But, if God controls and has a purpose with natural disasters, does that not necessitate that disasters, such as the devastating tornadoes, are the result of His judgement as well? Would an earthquake which levels Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri be a direct consequence of the actions of individuals in those cities?

To Religious Right leaders, judgement upon the good "Christians" cannot happen. Instead, there must be something in God's plan that we are fallible human beings do not understand. Maybe God uses situations like Joplin or Tuscaloosa to bring people to His son? Maybe he does it to test the resolve, trust, and patience of His followers? A natural disaster is an opportunity to grow closer to, and lean more upon Christ. Yet, if it happens in New York, its clearly the fault of the gays. Clearly...





Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gay Groups Make Religious Individuals "Second Class Citizens"

Though I should be surprised, I have found myself expecting the National Organization for Marriage to make outlandish and ridiculous statements. In today's episode of "what did NOM say", I give you the repeat of "NOM becomes a victim". 


President of NOM, Brian Brown, writing in his weekly email to his followers, asserted that recent events have made known the real intolerance of pro-marriage equality groups, saying, 
The mask of tolerance has been cast aside. We are looking into the face of a movement which wants, in the name of equality, to take away your rights and the rights of millions of decent, loving, law-abiding Americans who "cling"—yes, I'm not afraid to call it that!—to God, common sense, and the best of America's long traditions of respect for Judeo-Christian values.
 But he is confident that those who know "God's truth about marriage" will not be stopped, and instead will not bow to the intimidation of the homosexual lobby. "They" asserts Brown, talking about pro-marriage equality groups, "can only win if they can get us to accept and internalize the second-class status they propose for us. To accept our own marginalization, to be quiet, to stand down and keep our heads down. To live in fear, instead of acting, with courage, out of hope. They do not know us. They do not know the One whom we know."


For NOM to complain that they or their followers are being treated as "second class citizens" is in a sad way, amusing. Because their religious privilege - and that is what it is, privilege, not freedom - is being threatened, they claim that the minority that they are oppressing is making them "second class". Is it "second class" for a State government to require that an organization which receives state funding treat everyone equally, or would it be second class when a husband cannot be at the bedside of his dying partner because the nurse doesn't "like" their relationship. I think the answer to that is obvious. 


To Brian Brown, they are the ones who are advocating for "Truth" and "Love". They are the ones who claim to have truth that is "Not without the love of God and our neighbor in our hearts. Nor a Love which is afraid to speak truth for fear of being labeled a bigot or a hater by those who wield scorn and hatred as a weapon to suppress the truth and those who speak it." 


Maybe that is their version of "truth" and their version of "love", but its a "truth" and a "love" built upon the backs of LGBT people the nation over. Their words, their actions, and their alliances with certified hate groups such as the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, show that their "truth" is not based upon fact, but instead upon an animus and prejudice against gay and lesbian people themselves. Second class citizens? I think not!! 


In other news, it seems as though divorce rates, as compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, are higher in (shockingly) the Bible Belt states of the South, and (another shocker) those states with the lowest divorce rates are in the Northeast. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I Don't Like Obama's New Deportation Rules - And Their Effect On Bi-National Couples

As reported widely on LGBT websites around the world, the Obama administrations recent decision to review all deportation cases currently working its way through immigration courts has the potential to benefit gay and lesbian bi-national couples. As reported by the Washington Blade
Those who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk will be a higher priority for deportation, while those who are deemed lower priority will be taken out of the pipeline.
 Administration officials will weigh a person’s ties and contributions to the community and family relationships. During an on background conference call with media outlets on Thursday, a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said these criteria are inclusive of LGBT families and same-sex couples.

“The prosecutorial discretion memo provides for the use of discretion for people with strong community ties, with community contributions and with family relationships,” the official said. “We consider LGBT families to be families in this context.”
Though this could be perceived as a good development for all who are in same-sex bi-national  relationships, as one who is in a bi-national relationship myself, I find that this new policy by the Obama administration does two things - neither of which are positive. 


First, it effectively says that deportations involving gay and lesbian bi-national relationships are equal to all deportation cases currently being reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. This does not do justice in showing the unique discrimination and unequal status that same-sex bi-national couples are facing. Instead of addressing the fact that gay and lesbian Americans are not allowed to sponsor their foreign spouses because of a patently unconstitutional law (DOMA), these couples are lumped with everyone who has or is going through deportation proceedings. Our community, as much as anyone else, realizes the power of words, and when the Right is attacking this new policy on deportations as amnesty for "illegals", same-sex couples who want to obey the law through spousal sponsorship, yet are rejected from doing so, are unfairly lumped into this definition. Thus by not addressing the issue of gay and lesbian immigration discrimination directly, the Obama Administrations move not only devalues the specific injustice and unequal treatment that we receive, but it also forces us into the undesirable corner of being termed something that we are not.  


Second, in effectively putting a halt to deportations, Obama has only reached the 50 yard line for same-sex bi-national couples. Yes, not having the constant threat of being deported will release much strain on gay and lesbian couples in the U.S., but at the same time, what does this really give us? Are we allowed to now apply for a green card? Are committed same-sex couples who are married given the same rights as heterosexual married couples in immigration law? Are American citizens now allowed to sponsor their foreign born spouse? Of course not!!  


This lack of actual solution by the Obama Administration is like giving a dying man in the desert food, but no water. It allows same-sex couples to keep going through their daily lives just existing, but does not allow them to flourish. It reinforces that our relationships are not as valuable or meaningful as heterosexual ones.  And this, my friends, is why I do NOT applaud the new deportation regulations. 

Wyndham Hotel Allies With Reparative Therapy Organization

A Wyndham Wordwide subsidiary in Memphis, Tennessee has voluntarily decided to give a discounted "group rate" to an organization which practices a 12-step version of "ex-gay" reparative therapy. 

The Wingate Inn - Wolfchase, has allied with the Bartlett, Tennessee based "ex-gay" organization, Love In Action International, and provided them with a discounted nightly rate for individuals who participate in Love In Action's 4-day Intensive Program. Individuals who book through the Wingate Inn - Wolfchase, using the Love In Action name, are given a nightly rate of $84.99, as opposed to the regular rate of $109.99. This discounted rate is promenantly featured on the Love In Action website and approved by the sales manager of the Wingate Inn - Wolfchase.

Love In Action International is "the oldest established member ministry of Exodus International". They are also "a referral ministry of Focus on the Family and the  American Family Association". Exodus International is known around the world as an organization dedicated to teaching that there is a process that LGBT people can "grow into heterosexuality". The American Family Association has also been labled an anti-gay certified hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Love In Action was founded by a self-proclaimed "former homosexual" Frank Worthen, who claimed that "There is a way out of homosexuality, and his name is Jesus Christ!"

Wyndham Worldwide, in response to questions asking for clarification as to why a Wyndham subsidiary would give Love In Action a discounted rate, responded by skirting the actual question. Instead of addressing why such an organization receives a discounted rate from Wyndham, they responded by explaining that Wyndham Worldwide recognizes that, though they may not agree with the ideology of the organization, organizations like Love In Action have a legal right to exist. 
One of our company's core values is to respect everyone, everywhere. That includes our customers, our franchisees and members of the LGBT community. We strive to think inclusively and we value differences, two of the reasons that we serve as corporate co-founders of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  
As you may know, many of our branded hotels are franchised, meaning they are independently owned and operated establishments and we do not manage their inventory. Please know that while we do not support the mission of some organizations, we do respect their right to legally organize, provided that it does not interfere with the well-being of our other guests.
Organizations such as Love In Action and Exodus International, have been under media scrutiny as of late. In March, electronics giant Apple Inc. pulled the Exodus International app. from its app. store, igniting a firestorm of controversy between pro-LGBT groups and the Religious Right.


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