Archives for posts with tag: gay rights

gaySCOTUS

By now everyone and their mom knows all about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and to close discussion on Proposition 8 yesterday.*

This is a HUGE victory for LGBTQ rights and for the American people as a whole. I’m proud of the five Supreme Courts justices (that would be Justices Kennedy, Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan if you were keeping track) for helping move our country forward.

And then there are the naysayers. Take Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who has already issued a promise to file a constitutional amendment later this week to restore DOMA. Really Timmy? The Republican party is clearly suffering from some intense fragmentation, as I mentioned in a blog post earlier this year.  How do they expect to win votes from the LGBTQ community without a cohesive message? With so many members defending their antiquated views of bigotry and others suddenly changing their views and rushing to support gay rights, I can’t say that I’m impressed.

In other awesome news: on Tuesday night, the Texas Senate brought a bill to the floor that sought to close almost all abortion clinics in the state and disallow abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Senator Wendy Davis single-handedly performed an thirteen hour filibuster that stopped the bill in its path – until Republican Senators shut her down just minutes before the close of the special session by arguing that her discussion of mandatory ultrasounds was off-topic. They had to get a vote in before midnight. But that wasn’t about to happen, because over 400 protesters were there to pick up where Senator Davis left off. They made such a ruckus that the vote on the bill wasn’t recorded until 12:03am, meaning that it didn’t pass into law.

Unfortunately that fight’s not over. Texas Governor Rick Perry has called another special session to begin on Monday, and it’s likely that Democrats won’t be able to stop the bill a second time. Perry is determined to pass the bill , and to prove it he said some ridiculously offensive things at a press conference today:

“…even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”

Wow. To politicians like Perry and Huelskamp, I can only say:

Please remember that this is 2013. Please remember that people are people even if they are not white, straight, rich men. Please resign from public office.

Oh, and more thing: You can’t bring us down. We’re going to keep fighting your bigotry, your sexism and your hatred. And we are going to win.

* DOMA is a federal law that defines marriage as only being between a man and a woman – thus denying federal benefits to all same-sex partners. Proposition 8 is the California state ban on gay marriage.

Via UpWorthy. ORIGINAL: Photograph by Brandon Stanton for Humans of New York.

A New York City photographer ran into two teenage boys dressed nicely one recent night. He asked them what they were up to.

“We just got back from the prom.”

“Did you have dates?”

“Um, yeah.”

For as much as I disliked being around teenagers this weekend – I was stuck on a bus with about a dozen spoiled, drunk, drug-peddling 16-year old kids swigging out of bottles of vodka-spiked Gatorade and saying the absolute most vulgar things imaginable – this picture of teen romance is uplifting and beautiful.

It wasn’t that long ago that these boys might have been beaten up for taking this picture, or for going to a dance together. And there are a lot of places in the world where they still might be. But that is slowly changing and I am overjoyed to see it happening.

On the other hand, not all teenagers bring a smile to my face.

Back to the bus this weekend.

Sex was a big topic of conversation for these upper-middle class kids on their way to a music festival (free of parental supervision and already a bit intoxicated). One of the boys loudly announced that he “likes sex more than sleep.” Another young couple (obviously the popular kids at their high school) made it clear to everyone that they were sleeping together. When we asked if they used condoms, the girl and I had this exchange:

“Why? I’m on birth control.”

“Umm, what about STDs?”

“Who has STDs?”

“Well, do you really trust your boyfriend?”

Silence.

“Please tell me that you’ll at least use condoms when you’re single and in college.”

Silence. 

“Maybe….”

[Boyfriend interjects]  “Condoms SUCK!”

Oh boy.

Living in Washington DC, where the HIV epidemic still rages with 2.7% of the population infected, this seems like a ludicrous way of thinking. But then I remembered: she’s 16. This is the result of an extremely sexualized media and a lack of basic sex education.

Let’s remember a few facts:

Put simply, kids are going to have sex. Duh. Therefore, they are going to be at risk of contracting an STD or getting pregnant.

So they should have all the necessary knowledge to make safe decisions, right? It doesn’t mean that they will choose wisely, but at least it alerts them of the risks.

As I’ve touched on before in this blog, the idea that teaching comprehensive sex education in schools is equal to encouraging teens to have sex  is ridiculous. It’s going to happen. Or it’s not – that depends on the teen. But either way, kids should have all of the information they need to make the right choices.

That’s why there’s a growing movement to make comprehensive sex ed a requirement in American public schools. Currently it’s only mandated in 22 states and DC – what about the kids in the other 28?

If you know a teen in need of sex education (or any teen at all), tell them to visit ScarleTeen, “Sex Ed for the Real World.” It’s a great resource with advice that I can imagine being able to relate to when I was that age.

onelove

In a move that surprised many of his compatriots, Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois endorsed gay marriage in a public statement earlier this week. Says Kirk: “Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back— government has no place in the middle.”

Kirk is not the first Republican to recently back gay marriage. Last month, Senator Rob Portman (R – Ohio) changed his stance on same-sex marriage in part because of his own son, who came out to his parents in 2011. Portman cites his desire for his son to have “the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have.” This is a stark change from his earlier position: Portman was an original co-sponsor of the federally mandated ban on same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and voted to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children in Washington State. Portman’s previously hostile position on gay rights even prompted hundreds of University of Michigan students to protest his selection as commencement speaker in 2011. But that’s all changed – Portman recently wrote an editorial in The Columbus Dispatch in which he explained his new stance: “I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.”

Unlike Kirk and Portman, most Republicans in Washington have not embraced a supportive position on marriage equality – and some have come out swinging against it. Take Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart, who has recently come into the national spotlight due to her warnings that “straight people will get gay married” in order to take advantage of the system. She says she fears that straight friends will wed one another merely to obtain the 1,100 federal benefits that come along with marriage.

This past Sunday, Everhart told the Marietta Daily Journal “You may be as straight as an arrow, and you may have a friend that is as straight as an arrow. Say you had a great job with the government where you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits? I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride.” Everhart makes no mention of the equally conceivable (and equally improbable) possibility that straight friends of opposite genders can also marry only for this so-called “free ride.”

Despite outlandish claims such as Everhart’s, it seems like the tide is beginning to change, if only slightly, in the GOP. Last month’s CNN/ORC International Poll shows that 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage (up from 40% in 2007). Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents also said they had a family member or good friend who is gay or lesbian, a major reason for the increased support, according to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “[Survey results suggest] that the rise in support for gay marriage is due in part to the rising number of Americans who have become aware that someone close to them is gay. Some people have recently taken to calling it the ‘Rob Portman effect’” says Holland.

While a majority of Americans now support marriage equality, most Republicans do not. With Republicans losing support with America’s Latino and youth populations, the GOP is in a tight spot. Can they afford to continue losing the support of gay and gay-friendly voters?

GOP strategist Ed Rogers says “Republicans look awkward trying to straddle the gay marriage issue. During the transition from ‘against’ to ‘support’, officials don’t want to get ahead of their base or abandon a position that was so clear a short time ago.” But it seems that it may happen in time. Even Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has gone on record saying that he believes it “inevitable” that the GOP will someday present a presidential candidate who supports marriage equality. But will it be too late for the GOP?