The dynamic duo is back, and admit it, you missed us! Peterson and Zack fill you in on all the crazy fun stuff that’s been happening in their lives, Peterson brings us some more queer erotic poetry, and then the two launch into a roundtable on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Prop 8, Trans Day of […]
I’m frustrated. I probably shouldn’t even be writing, but I am. It’s Monday. What’s the big news in the LGBT world? Kind of two biggies I guess… 1) Those crazy Prop 8 proponents filed their 134-page argument to the Circuit of Appeals. I could wade through the whole thing for you if you’d like, but […]
You’re going to let them get away with that? While I’ve been recently arguing that proactive activism needs greater emphasis, here’s why I think reactive activism is still just as important. Join me in counterprotesting NOM this Friday in Harrisburg.
She graced the pages of Glamour magazine. She stunned the nation on Good Morning America. She helped launch a movement (Beyond Ex-Gay) and NOW she is our guest on Queer and Queerer! Zack and Peterson welcome Christine Bakke to the program. Christine is an artist, an activist, and an outspoken ex-gay survivor. As a lesbian […]
If you didn’t get a chance to watch today’s oral arguments for the Prop 8 appeal, you didn’t necessarily miss much. Nothing was decided, though the questions from the judges certainly gave us some interesting insight into their perspectives.
The first hour was dedicated to the questions of standing. Do the defendant-intervenors (Protect Marriage) have standing to continue defending Prop 8 since they are not named as actual defendants? Cooper argued for them essentially saying that yes, they do, because if the Attorney General will not defend them, no one can. In doing so, he misconstrued the Karcher case, in which former New Jersey legislators were not given standing (according to Professor David Cruz). Also, the passing of the initiative was a “check” by the people on the CA Supreme Court. Boies countered that the initiative was a legislative act, and that essentially, the people do not also have the executive authority to defend it if their AG won’t.
Basically, the California Ballot Initiative Process is messed up. Two of the judges on the panel seemed interested in the California Supreme Court certifying the DI’s standing, which would alleviate them of that responsibility. Boies pointed out that his arguments would be the same either way, and that awaiting such a decision would merely delay the completion of the case unnecessarily.
As for Imperial County, the discussion was whether the County Clerk is directly impacted by the injunction against enforcing Proposition 8. Boies argued that the role of the clerk is ministerial—that they simply carry out state law as enforced by the Attorney General. Professor David Cruz, who was in the live chat with us, made the brilliant point that San Francisco was not allowed to give same-sex couples marriage licenses in 2004, so in the wake of the injunction, clerks should also not be allowed to not give same-sex couples marriage licenses.
It is my understanding that standing will only be granted to one of these groups, if any. (If no standing is found for either Protect Marriage or Imperial County, then the merits of the case will not be addressed and Judge Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional will stand.)
The rest of the oral arguments were much of what we are already used to.
Cooper kept trying to say the same old arguments about preserving the institution of marriage and all its unique benefits. The judges pointed out that gays and lesbians essentially have everything marriage is defined by except the word. (Therese Stewart, attorney for San Francisco, also later pointed out that California manages all parenting and child-rearing completely separate from marriage.) Cooper offered, “The word is the institution,” trying his best to argue it is okay for the people to take away a right.
Olson countered with a very concise message that this was discrimination motivated by animus. The elimination of Prop 8 does nothing to harm heterosexual couples. He also hammered home that sexual orientation was immutable, and that the “crazy quilt” (all the different marriage statuses that exist in CA as a result of Prop 8) demonstrate just how irrational it is.
The end of the day is slightly anti-climactic, as we await the decision of the panel. If they want the CA Supreme Court to chime in on the standing of the defendant-intervenors, any real decision in the case will be delayed. If they find that neither Protect Marriage or Imperial County have standing, then the case is over and Prop 8 is overturned. If either group is found to have standing, then the case continues and the merits weighed in on.
Nonetheless, it was an important day, if for no other reason than the fact that these arguments were televised. While the first hour’s debate on standing was dry and probably of little interested, the ensuing hour and a half discussion about gay people was poignant. I encourage everyone to watch or read the transcripts and share with others. This is a discussion that everybody needs to hear.
[Update: I will be participating in a live chat during the arguments through AMERICAblog Gay and Pam’s House Blend.]
Just when you thought you’d never see the Prop 8 Trial on TV, here it is!
Today (less than an hour after this post will go up), the oral arguments will take place for the appeal before the Ninth Circuit. Take the time now to catch up then tune in at 1 PM (EST) to watch live. Check back later for more discussion here at ZackFord Blogs.
Atheists, unsurprisingly, scored the highest. I shouldn’t generalize (given there is no research on atheist identity development, there is little alternative), but it would seem to me the reason a lot of atheists are atheists is because they know a lot about religion. The more you know, the more it doesn’t make sense.
I found it interesting that Jews scored so high, but I wonder how many of those Jews are actually practicing Jews? Judaism is as much a cultural identifier as a religious one. There’s no evidence to speculate, but it seems a worthwhile question to investigate.
I was not surprised that Mormons also scored relatively high, because it makes sense. They spend so much time preparing for and embarking on missionary work that I’m sure they have to prepare themselves to respond to what non-Mormon Christians and other religions might say in response to their evangelism. Just like atheists see how nonsensical other religions can be so they abandon them, perhaps Mormons see how nonsensical other religions can be as some sort of strange cognitive reinforcement for how bizarre Joseph Smith’s teachings were.
What should also be alarming is the lowest scores. Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics scored lower than individuals who are apathetic about religion. What does this say about what they are being taught (and not taught) in their communities? Perhaps this finding helps make more sense about the Prop 8 vote. It’s not that people of color were responsible for Prop 8 passing (that’s an awfully untrue myth), but perhaps there is some real concern about how indoctrinated they are or how narrow their understandings are outside their religious communities. Given that those two groups also scored considerably lower on the questions about religion in public life, this makes some sense.
I wish there had been more than just four questions about religion in public life, because I would think that would be the most interesting result. It’s certainly the one with the most implications for our society. Given the prevalence of Christian privilege in our country, it makes sense that Jews and Atheists would make it a priority to know more about religion in public life so they can counter the abuses of that Christian Privilege. I have to say I’m a little disappointed in my fellow atheists that they didn’t know more about Christianity. They need to get on that.
I found this the most interesting though:
This survey and previous Pew Forum studies have shown that Jews and atheists/agnostics have high levels of educational attainment on average, which partially explains their performance on the religious knowledge survey. However, even after controlling for levels of education and other key demographic traits (race, age, gender and region), significant differences in religious knowledge persist among adherents of various faith traditions. Atheists/agnostics, Jews and Mormons still have the highest levels of religious knowledge, followed by evangelical Protestants, then those whose religion is nothing in particular, mainline Protestants and Catholics. Atheists/agnostics and Jews stand out for high levels of knowledge about world religions other than Christianity, though they also score at or above the national average on questions about the Bible and Christianity.
It’s amazing to me that higher education has such an impact on religious knowledge despite the fact that conversations around “spiritual development” generally involve a focus on keeping students on the same track they’re already on. I can only imagine how much bigger the difference would be if all college students were given the opportunity to think critically about their religious beliefs.
I think more atheists should be religious leaders. I mean, they know the most; isn’t that the most important qualification? Maybe then religious followers would learn all the awful things that are in the Bible and how nonsensical their beliefs actually are.
(I haven’t written about atheism too much lately so I’m all snarky and fired up. Apologies to those who are sensitive about their beliefs being challenged. The apology isn’t for challenging, though.)
And my last thought on this study? Everyone should study religion more. It is the framework of our society, you know.
I’m frustrated. I probably shouldn’t even be writing, but I am.
It’s Monday. What’s the big news in the LGBT world? Kind of two biggies I guess…
1) Those crazy Prop 8 proponents filed their 134-page argument to the Circuit of Appeals. I could wade through the whole thing for you if you’d like, but today I just can’t be bothered. It’s the same old nonsense: procreation, victim status, etc. Read the P8TT links, because a lot of others have already dissected it pretty well.
2) Tomorrow the Senate will vote on whether to vote on whether to let Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell be considered for repeal by the Joint Chiefs at a later, uncertain date. And who is getting all the media attention to affect this cloture vote? Lady Gaga.
Kudos to Gaga, really. She’s taking this pretty seriously and being strategic about encouraging us Little Monsters to call our Senators and tonight she’s in Maine targeting undecided Senators there.
But I’m frustrated because we’re drowning in politics. If you look at all the groups who are working to support LGBT equality, you see a lot of political strategy (lobbying, direct action political pressure, support for gay candidates, support for gay-friendly candidates, gay Republicans who don’t care about LGBT issues) and legal efforts. Where is the education? Who’s doing it? Our Community Centers get really lousy financial support and currently only reach a few metropolitan areas. They do great work, but with what they have to work with, they’re barely making dents.
I live in Middle America. Where I live I face housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and marriage discrimination. Sure I can stream LOGO and watch Will & Grace reruns on Lifetime, but my area is still unwelcoming for queer folks and there is minimal queer visibility. But of course, a vote on a vote on a potential repeal and an election of lesser evils have to be our main priority so that six years from now we can elect a President with the same talking points that we loved about this one. I have to be patient; it’s not our turn yet. We’re still stuck on survival and just getting by on the scraps of victory we can get.
Well, when does anyone educate Middle America? Our movement is all about money and influence. And money. But decades of money and influence haven’t really changed life out here in the sticks. Who’s going to start educating people outside of the maybe-six gay haven cities? Where’s the national campaign to say, “All those things you believe about homosexuality? You’re wrong.”
Frankly, at this point, I struggle to even care about this DADT vote. It’s not real repeal—there’s no end to discharges in sight—but we’re such scaredy cats we’re not even sure if Senator Reid should take the vote if he isn’t sure he has the votes. All that work to get nowhere because of the importance of the midterm elections. Meanwhile, to their credit, the Log Cabin Republicans were getting the law declared unconstitutional on its face while the rest of us (myself ashamedly included) weren’t even paying attention. Of course, the LCRs never hedge on supporting Republicans whether they’re anti-gay or not, so we had reason not to trust them, but they showed us just how inefficient we can be with both our time and money, especially since we’re still not sure whether we have the votes for a vote that doesn’t even repeal. But hey, we’ve got Lady Gaga on our side. That’ll make the difference.
I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing change. What I do see are schools that have unchangingly negative climates. I see universities that have unchangingly negative climates. I see communities that have unchangingly negative climates. I see the same old myths and stereotypes perpetuated with the same full force and getting the same full attention by the media.
And I can’t help but worry that on the day that all the legal victories are secure, the work will end, as if that’s all it takes. In the meantime, Middle America continues to be a wasteland for real LGBT change.
I haven’t written about Prop 8 lately, but only because I feel like folks have been too eager to get a fix when most of what’s happening now is just standard legal procedure. If you haven’t paid attention over the last week, here’s a quick catch-up, and then below I’ll respond to some statements from Protect Marriage.
First, here’s a quick reminder of the vocab, because I know it can get confusing. The plaintiffs are the good guys (represented by Olson and Boies), the defendants are the actual government officials, and the proponents are the Protect Marriage folks who stepped in as defendant-intervenors.
» When Judge Walker first overturned Prop 8 two weeks ago, he implemented a temporary stay for his own ruling for the sole purpose of giving the defendants/proponents a window to demonstrate why the decision should be stayed until after appeal. This was a tough case to make since he said in the decision that same-sex marriage in no way harmed anybody or any marriages.
» We learned that Judge Walker would make his decision on this matter last Thursday (August 12). We waited with baited breath through a three-hour window in which we thought we would hear. Couples were waiting in line to marry and extra city officials had been deputized to help perform the marriages. Finally, sometime in the fourth hour we learned that he would be lifting the stay, but it would still be in effect until this Wednesday (tomorrow, August 18).
Many were underwhelmed by this response. Given that the original decision had been so unabashed in outlining the harm to gays and lesbians by Proposition 8, this seemed an unnecessary extension of that harm. Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry called it Justice Delayed. The extension of the stay created room for the Appeals Court to offer their own stay without there being a window of legal same-sex marriage.
» Yesterday, the appeals court did issue their stay until that round of the trial is over. This is disappointing news for most. The court did expedite the case, but that won’t necessarily appease many, as the trial date is in December, and a decision won’t come until potentially months afterward.
» There is still the question of standing, whether the proponents have the right to appeal at all since they are not the defendants. A decision in that matter could end everything else. If that were to happen, Judge Walker’s ruling would apply, but to California only. Still, it would be an important precedent for future trials in other parts of the country.
That’s where we stand now. Same-sex couples still cannot marry in California. A final decision in that matter is still at least half a year away, if that. It’s odd to recognize that we had this huge victory two weeks ago and yet we don’t have much to show for it.
In the meantime, we can still take a whack at Protect Marriage and their ugly gloating over basic procedure that is not really a victory for them at all.
We are gratified that Judge Walker has continued until August 18th the temporary stay of his decision. We will promptly seek from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a stay pending the final resolution of the case. On appeal, we look forward with confidence to a decision vindicating the democratic process and the basic constitutional authority of the 7 million Californians who voted to retain the traditional definition of marriage. The decision whether to redefine the institution of marriage is for the people themselves to make, not a single district court judge, especially without appellate scrutiny.
This afternoon, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request by Prop 8 proponents to stay U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling, thereby upholding the vote of 7 million Californians while the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case is heard on appeal. The arguments will occur in San Francisco the week of December 6, 2010.
“California voters spoke clearly on Prop 8, and we’re glad to see their votes will remain valid while the legal challenges work their way up through the courts. Invalidating the people’s vote based on just one judge’s opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people’s confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the defendants in the Perry v Schwarzenegger case.
Always eager to play the victim! Enjoining Judge Walker’s decision would have validated my confidence in the judiciary to be a balanced check, but that’s just me.
Pugno went further in an email to Prop 8 supporters:
As we pointed out in our motion, Judge Walker’s decision totally ignores virtually all legal precedents, the well-recognized public interest served by fostering traditional marriage, and even common sense itself.
Of course, he has to raise the stakes so he can ask for more money two paragraphs later. He’s so appreciative of the prayers and support. Won’t you give these whiny brats a special donation so they can continue to waste the government’s time with unconstitutional, discriminatory ideas?
In many conversations and writings lately, I’ve heard myself emphasizing the need for the LGBT movement to be more proactive. We do a whole lot better when we’re trying to get people to say “Yes!” (like in DC or Washington state) than when we are trying to get them not say “No” (like in Maine and California). At first, when I started making this point, I framed it as “more proactive and less reactive,” but the more I’ve thought about it, I really just mean more proactive.
You see, I think there is incredible importance in reacting. We need to stand up for ourselves. We need to create visibility for ourselves. We need to counter our opponents and their lie-riddled fear-mongering rhetoric at every turn. It’s a matter of integrity—a demonstration of our courage and our stamina. Alone, it’s not a winning strategy; you don’t win a game of chess if you only defend your own pieces. Still, it’s a vital part of our movement and our social well-being.
That’s why I am incredibly disappointed in Equality Pennsylvania’s cowardice in deciding not to counterprotest the NOM tour stop this Friday in Harrisburg.
The National Organization for Marriage has been driving around the US, rallying tens of people at their events, and then creating “breaking news” propaganda videos about how aggressive the counterprotesters are. It’s a devious tactic. Freedom to Marry and the Prop 8 Trial Tracker (“NOM Tour Tracker”), as well as bloggers like Jeremy Hooper at Good As You have been countering them at every turn, revealing the truths of their claims. They only have a few stops left, and on Friday they will be here in little ol’ Harrisburg, PA (it’s the capital!).
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) kicked off their “One Man, One Woman” tour on July 14th. At each stop where there have been counter protests or attendance by pro-equality supporters, they have disrespected or mocked them and attempted to provoke them into screaming or yelling. Their goal in doing this is to make our side look foolish and hostile. We have also seen that they like to play a numbers game where if we have even a few less attendees than at their event, they will claim that the momentum is moving in their direction. We know from the recent polling numbers and the pathetic turnout their rallies have been recording, that this simply isn’t the case.
We are working hard to advance equality and will continue to do so long after they leave town. While we may be upset by their rhetoric, we can’t get caught up in retaliation when we need to remain focused on what needs to get done to win! Putting our energy into showing up at their event does not help to move us forward. What will help to advance equality in Pennsylvania is if we use them coming to town as an excuse to mobilize local activists and build our network.
So after NOM finishes their ranting and heads to the next town, we will be out there getting it done! We are holding a terrific event in Harrisburg on August 12, the night before they arrive, around a special showing of the movie “Stonewall Uprising” with a panel on youth activism afterward. We encourage everyone who can, to attend.
Not only is this a great movie, but this public conversation will increase our network and identify new volunteers and supporters. Please do what you can…attend, make a donation or just plain follow our activities. But please, ignore NOM when they come to town and don’t interact. Attention is exactly what they want, and why should honest people who hold equality close to their hearts be tricked into supporting their sad little charade.
This is an expression of cowardice. It buys into a “fight or flight” dichotomy that doesn’t reflect the reality of potential responses. The assumption is that we cannot respond to NOM’s rally without looking “foolish,” “hostile,” or retaliatory, ignoring the notion and potential of tact.
Is it possible to counterprotest NOM in a peaceful way? A way that creates visibility and builds unity for our community and our families? A way that makes sure that any media coverage includes stories of our experiences and our truths? A way that overshadows NOM’s message of discrimination without fueling their propaganda machine? It’s not easy to pull off, but such a way exists.
That’s why EQPA’s decision amounts to cowardice. Rather than take a risk, they’d rather not try at all. Maybe they should be ashamed, but maybe not. If they don’t think they have the resources or capacity to pull it off, I can totally understand why they wouldn’t want their stamp of approval on it. However, I resent the smugness with which they claim to rise above, ignoring the important catharsis achieved when our community rejects its own condemnation.
That’s not to say that EQPA doesn’t make some good points in their statement. It is true that NOM has been using their tour to paint a negative picture of activists, but it’s NOM. They’ll find a way to spin it their way regardless. Given that Harrisburg is the only stop that hasn’t had a major organization planning a counter response, I’d hate to see Central Pennsylvania spun as a bastion of anti-gay hate. I think EQPA is onto something with using NOM to mobilize local activists, and I think the film screening is a great idea. Educating about the movement’s history and raising the voices of queer youth is amazing, but it doesn’t undo the hurt NOM causes many by rolling into town to spout their incendiary drivel.
We have a serious problem if our movement isn’t willing to stand up to our opponents. I don’t think anything has been more compelling than the media appearances Olson and Boies have been making since last week’s Prop 8 ruling, unabashedly defending the truths of our lives and obliterating our opponents. That sort of visibility and education is exactly what many of the counterprotests have accomplished with their truth squads. It’s the kind of work an organization like Equality Pennsylvania should be prepared to handle without compromising their other proactive work.
Standing up for equality means standing up for equality whether it’s convenient or not. Even if it’s not on our playing field, we have to show.
That’s why I will be participating in a counterprotest on Friday at noon being organized by a group called Justice League – Activate. I will stand against NOM with my family, document their efforts, and speak on behalf of Pennsylvania gays and lesbians who still are subject to state-sponsored discrimination. If none of my friends will stand with me out of solidarity with Equality Pennsylvania, that’s their choice. However, I will not let preachers of discrimination control the media for the day without some visibility from the people they unflinchingly discriminate against.
While I still argue that proactive activism demands greater priority, reactive activism is important for our community’s maintenance. We have to be strong enough to rebuff our opponents AND push forward in spite of them. To ignore them is forfeit and I’m already tired of feeling like I”m on a losing team.
I hope you’ll join me Friday to show Central Pennsylvania that we are here, we are queer, and we care about marriage too. We want the same safety and security that marriage provides. We are proudly standing up for all families who just want to live their lives as happy members of their Pennsylvania communities.
She graced the pages of Glamour magazine. She stunned the nation on Good Morning America. She helped launch a movement (Beyond Ex-Gay) and NOW she is our guest on Queer and Queerer! Zack and Peterson welcome Christine Bakke to the program. Christine is an artist, an activist, and an outspoken ex-gay survivor. As a lesbian who once tried to suppress and change her orientation, she now speaks out passionately about the dangers of treatments that try to “de-gay” you. She joins us to talk about the Prop 8 ruling, its implications for the Ex-Gay Survivor movement, exorcism, demon nests, and activist art!
Remember, send us your questions for episode 20! You can ask us ANYTHING.