Friday, April 24, 2015

Dear Right Wing Nutjobs... Here is why you are losing.

As we get closer to the dates for oral arguments on the legalization of marriage equality before the US Supreme Court , the anti-civil rights conservative wingnutosphere has, (not unexpectedly)completely lost their minds.    

The brilliant Matt Baume over that the American Foundation for Equal Rights brings us up to date on the latest fun and frolic from the good peoples of Teabagistan.

What has become all to clear over the past few weeks is  the "Culture Warriors" on the American political and social Right Wing, are stunned, angry and generally unhinged that they are losing the battle to keep LGBT Americans as the one group it is still safe to hate.   

Between the backlash over attempted "Religious Freedom" laws,  (designed  only to allow for legalized discrimination against Gays and Lesbians in public accommodation,)  to the anticipated SCOTUS ruling widely expected to invalidate discriminatory marriage laws nationwide;  Spring has not been a season of much joy for Anti-Gay bigots.

Then this past week three little news items popped up that pretty much say it all.   The first was a new  ABC News/Washington Post poll that put support for marriage equality at nearly   60%, and opposition to it below 40%,  for the first time in American History

Next we had news from the world of pop culture.  A good bellwether of national tends has always been youth culture.  Popular Movies, Television shows and music have long since embraced the idea of LGBT equality.  One other time-tested canary in the coal mine of bigotry is, not surprisingly, comic books.

Click to enlarge
(From The Huffington Post)

Original "X-Men" member Iceman is set to make a big revelation this week: he's gay.  

The iconic character makes the surprise declaration in the All-New X-Men #40, which is available in stores and online April 22. Pages from the new book show an intimate conversation between a young Iceman, or Bobby Drake, and pal Jean Grey.

After Iceman comments on how hot he finds his female teacher, the telepathic Jean sees right through her friend's thinly-veiled declaration and tells him outright that she knows he's gay.
The announcement caused televangelist Franklin Graham to take his case of the vapours to the Facebook thing on the interwebs,   to make sure all the kids know how upsetting this is for him.

The Religious Right leader took to his Facebook page to lament that Marvel is using Iceman in an attempt “to indoctrinate our young people to accept this destructive lifestyle.”

(Graham has previously praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for criminalizing speech that is perceived as pro-gay propaganda” directed at young people.)

I have a news flash for Frankie;   the Kids are just fine, and they don't care who he  thinks they should hate.  I know social conservatives are not big fans of facts.  But here are a few interesting ones that are hard to ignore.

-  The Millennial generation is 80 million, the largest in history. And for Millennials who lean right, gay marriage is an area in which they disagree with their party.
-  A 2014 Pew poll found that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage.
-  According to Data Science polling, 64 percent of self-identifying Evangelical Millennials support same-sex marriage.
-  And the most recent survey of incoming freshman at UCLA found that 44.3 percent of students who considered themselves “far right” believe same-sex couples should have the right to legally marry.
So lets set aside the fact that the  overwhelming majority of American voters under age 30 disagree with the American Taliban.  
The real wake up call for 2016 is that  the  majority of conservative American voters under 30 disagree with the WingNut Right on the issue of  LGBT rights.
Not that I enjoy kicking bigots when they are down, but this one last little news item from Las Vegas pretty much sums up where  America, The Next Generation is at on this issue...
From The Huffington Post

This Straight Guy Just Asked His Gay BFF To Prom With The Most Adorable Promposal
As a student council member at his high school, Anthony Martinez is often tasked with planning school dances. But the 17-year-old, who is gay, says that he “never [gets] asked.”
Until now, that is.

Martinez, who attends Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, shared on Twitter this week that he was asked to prom by someone entirely unexpected. It was his best friend, Jacob Lescenski -- who is straight.

For the promposal, Lescenski (wearing camouflage pants in the photo above) created a banner with the words: "You're hella gay, I'm hella str8. But you're like my brother. So be my d8?"
Lescenski told New Now Next that he had decided to surprise Martinez with the promposal after seeing his friend tweet about wanting a date for the event.

“I decided on going to prom alone because my original date idea didn’t work out so well,” he said. “Then one night I saw Anthony, who is my best friend, tweeting about wanting a date. So, I came up with the poster idea, asked my friend Mia to make it and asked him that next day … It was a giant surprise to everyone, especially Anthony!”

A thrilled Martinez expressed his gratitude to his BFF on social media.

“He’s my best friend, and a real man given the fact he has the guts to fulfil my gay student council dream of always helping out planning dances, and never getting asked. I couldn’t ask for a better person in my life,” the teen wrote on Tumblr. “Thank you Jacob, can’t wait for May 2nd!”
Lescenski’s promposal has gone viral this week, and netizens everywhere have praised the teen for his awesome gesture of friendship.

“It's an adorable story -- boy meets boy -- with a 2015 twist,” wrote of the promposal. “As being an ally becomes more and more a part of the high school experience, it's inspiring to see."

So over the next few weeks, expect Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, Bryan Fischer, Maggie Gallagher and all the other assorted gargoyles of hate,  to stamp their feet and scream about how unfair it is that people they don't like are going to be treated equally under the law.

Yet clearly the future of America is one where homophobia, like its historical cousins racism, and segregation is, as Ronald Reagan would say; destined for the ash heap of history.

Hella cool...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Expat Musings... "No Place Like Home"?

They say travel broadens the mind....  What they really mean is "The Expat Experience will  probably rewire entire parts of your brain.". 

The Expat Blog of the Wall Street Journal, features an  opinion piece by this week by  freelance writer Debra Bruno, entitled;  Repatriation Blues: Expats Struggle With the Dark Side of Coming Home.

The article is her very interesting take on the reverse culture shock, many people face when returning home from living and working abroad.  How the experience of living as an Expatriate can change how you see both yourself, and the country and culture you came from.

I had my first "expat" experience  when I was 15 and did a student  foreign exchange program to Germany.  It is not an overstatement to say  it fundamentally changed me, my outlook on, and future path in life.     That lead to spending my gap year studying in Germany, and then  spending all my Summers in college working  at a Summer Camp  in the Wetterstein Alps in  Bavaria.   Then after graduation from University,  to my first expat work posting to Asia, in South Korea.

Now I live in London,  not because of a work assignment ,  but because I fell in love with, and then married  a Brit.  And at the time,  the Defence of Marriage Act, (DOMA)   forced us, and many other same sex couples to leave the US in order to simply  be with our legally married spouses.    Now that DOMA has been partially overturned and those legal barriers to spousal immigration are gone,  we are getting asked one question  repeatedly..

"So.. When are you guys moving to the U.S?"

That is a difficult question,  for a lot of reasons.  Not the least of which is purely logistic.   The lengthy, and complicated process  of my move  from the US  to London nearly 5 years ago was physically, emotionally and financially  exhausting.  So the prospect of packing up our lives all over again to move  half way  across the world is a bit daunting.   Yet the question  keeps being asked,  don't I want to come home?

Like many of the other commenters on that WSJ piece,  I  find visits back  to the US, can  be at times a surreal experience.   You will find there are  people you know  who never moved way   from where you  all grew up.  Or  for whom a trip to another State is considered a far flung journey, at times will  ask you  odd questions about living abroad like it's another planet.     

But for many  expats, the awkward sense of displacement that would accompany returning home, goes far beyond,  struggling to explain how you miss those   evening walks in the Beijing night market, or  the  convenience of Paris being just a Eurostar hop away.    Imagine  returning "home" to find some of those same  friends and even some  family members, having a huge debate over  whether or not some Religious beliefs should outweigh your civil rights.   Gee, that sounds fun.

For many Americans living overseas, the expat life was not a work assignment,  or a really great career opportunity,  but a necessity,   that resulted from being treated as less than full citizens by our own country.   A country that still  is arguing over whether or not  we are, or should be,  treated equally under the law.

 Where CNN gives equal time to people who claim their particular take on sundry laws written tens of thousands of years ago  for an nomadic tribe living in a desert, should be used to determine my civil,  and even human,  rights.

Even if  we moved back to a state that has marriage equality,  that state may NOT have workplace discrimination protection.  (California thankfully, has both., so kudos to CA,.)But elsewhere we would not be so lucky.  If we moved to say, Florida, or Virginia  then sure, we can visit each other in hospital,  but also can be fired at anytime for no reason other than who we are.   Nice. Huh? 

It makes the idea of "going home" not only fraught  with issues of cultural adjustment,  but one  where living in the United States of America  becomes a situation  of adjusting to having fewer civil  rights and freedoms than you had as an Expat, instead  of having more. 

The  "Tea Party" faction of the base of the Republican Party likes to invoke imagery from the Revolutionary War to show how committed to the cause of freedom they are.

Ironic that in their ideal world,  it is people in Great Britain  that are  treated far more fairly and equally under the law than Americans are by our country.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

US "Religous Freedom Laws" - Frequenly Asked Questions

Isn’t Religious Freedom a good thing? 
Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. This is why it is already protected in the very First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. However, up and coming Religious Exemption laws making their way into states across the county would allow an individual to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against others by denying them goods and services.
How will these new laws affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and families? 
The languages of these bills vary from state to state, but one thing is clear, the lives of LGBT people and their families will be greatly affected. When these bills become law, individuals will have the right based on a personally deeply held religious belief to refuse service, accommodations, goods and protections to LGBT people.
Will these laws affect only LGBT people?
No.  As these harmful discrimination laws make their way into states it would allow individuals to claim that any number of laws – including, but not limited to domestic violence and nondiscrimination laws – don’t apply to them.
  • A hotel owner who objects to cohabitation outside of marriage could refuse to provide a room to any unmarried couple.
  • A landlord who believes a man should be the head of a household could refuse to rent an apartment to a single mother.
  • A guidance counselor could refuse to help a gay teenager by saying it goes again their religious belief.
  • An abusive spouse could claim that domestic violence laws do not apply to them because their religion teaches that a spouse has the right to discipline their family (their spouse and children)as they see fit.
Religious Exemption laws are written with language that is too broad, poorly written, and with loopholes that open the door for dangerously harmful, unintended consequences for people in states across the country. 

As a Christian what can I do to help stop these bills from becoming laws? 
The single most important action you can take towards ensuring all Americans remain free from discrimination is to start a conversation with the people you know about why caring for individuals, families, and communities is important to you. Think about who you can talk with. • Schedule a meeting your State Representative or write them an email to share how your faith teaches that discrimination is wrong.
  • Write a letter to your editor. Letters to the editor are one of the most read sections of your paper. Be public in your support against discrimination.
  • Talk with your pastor about why this matters and encourage them to make a public statement in your church newsletter, Facebook page or blog. Ask them to talk about it in one of their sermons.
  •  Let people know your faith teaches you  to love God and love your neighbour  and that it is not your  place to judge others but  to treat others as you would want to be treated

Friday, April 03, 2015

On This Friday....

No matter if you are observing  Passover,  the Tridium  of the "Three Days"  of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter,  or just the passing of a normal week,  I wish peace, health, blessings and hope to you and yours, wherever you may be.

Maurice Duruflé: Ubi Caritas
Performed by Octarium from the Essentials album

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Where charity and love are, God is there.

Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Christ's love has gathered us into one.

Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.

Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.

Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.