“Bigot” Is A French Word

Hordes of prejudiced French demonstrators marched against same-sex rights today:

Hundreds of thousands of people – conservative activists, children, retirees, priests, many bussed in from the French provinces – converged on the capital on Sunday in a last-ditch attempt to stop the bill. The lower house of France’s parliament approved the “marriage for everyone” bill last month with a large majority, and it now faces a vote in the senate next month. Both houses are dominated by President François Hollande’s Socialist party and its allies. Sustained protests led by opposition conservatives have eroded support for the draft law in recent months, and organizers hope the march will weigh on the senate debate.

Of note: it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the rights of women, people of colour, gays and lesbians or the poor: in North America and Europe at least,  the fight against  human rights, knowledge, freedom of expression, science and progress in general is led by self-described conservatives, many of them from rural areas. Something to ponder.

Full story in The Guardian and there’s video of the protest from International News 24/7 below.

Sunday Night Mailbag

People often ask me “hey Steve, how do you find time to procrastinate when you’ve got so much work to do?” I’ll admit it isn’t easy but fortunately I have a lot of help. Take this exchange between me and some guy in Ontario who for whatever reason thought it would be wise to send a letter to Prairie Dog condemning the right of same sex couples to have families:

From: Paul Kokoski
Sent: January 20, 2013 9:37 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: letter

Dear Editor,

I have enclosed the following letter for publication. Please let me know if you intent to print it. Thank you.

I am disappointed that homosexual partners Elton John and David Furnish have adopted another child via a surrogate mother.

Last June, the American scientific magazine “Social Science Research”, the most prestigious peer reviewed publication of its kind, published two new innovative and definitive studies on children raised by same-sex couples. From the studies it emerged that 12% of children brought up by same-sex couples contemplate suicide (against 5% of children with heterosexual parents), they are more inclined to be unfaithful (40% against 13%), they are unemployed more often (28% against 8%) and they are more likely to visit a psychotherapist (19% against 8%). They are also more often under social service surveillance compared to peers who are raised by heterosexual couples. In 40% of cases they will catch a sexually transmitted disease at some point (against 8% of peers raised by heterosexual couples) and they are generally less healthy, poorer and more likely to smoke and commit criminal offences.

The few studies published so far that support the theory that there is no difference between children brought up in heterosexual and homosexual families are – unlike the new studies – based on non-random, non-representative data often employing small samples that do not allow for generalization to the larger population of gay and lesbian families.

It is time we realize that the rights of children trump the right to children.

Sincerely,

Paul Kokoski

Naturally I couldn’t leave that one alone.

From: prairie dog feedback
Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 7:00 PM
To: ‘Paul Kokoski’
Subject: RE: letter

Hi Paul, thanks for the letter. The study you cite is flawed. Here’s a link, and here’s the pertinent quote:

Other scientists say the research is deeply flawed, and does not measure the effect of same-sex parenting at all. The study defined same-sex parenting by asking participants if their parents had ever had same-sex relationships, and whether they had lived with the parent at that time. That led to a “hodgepodge” group of people who Regnerus then compared with kids in stable, married homes, said Judith Stacey, a sociologist at New York University who was not involved in the research. “He doesn’t have an actual category of gay parents in the project that you can isolate and say the most important thing in this kid’s childhood is that they were raised by gay parents,” Stacey told LiveScience. “These are kids whose parents, maybe they divorced, maybe they separated, maybe they had a scandalous affair, we just don’t know.”

Regardless, your opposition to same-sex families is offensive, dumb, silly and un-Christian. On this issue, the world is moving toward a gentler, kinder, more loving and more civilized era.

I hope you will re-consider your bigoted viewpoints.

All the best,

Stephen Whitworth, Editor

Of course, Mr. Kokoskiwouldn’t be much of an anti-gay-agendavist if he let me get the last word. His response, and my response, after the jump.

Continue reading “Sunday Night Mailbag”

Washington State Is Marrying Everyone Today

Today’s the first day for same-sex marriage in Washington! The state government made it legal earlier this year but allegedly “Christian” hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage ran successful signature-gathering campaigns to put the legislation — and people’s civil rights — on the ballot. That’s as far as Team Homophobe’s winning streak went, though: voters — most of them straight, obviously — supported legal same-sex marriage in November’s election.

And today, there’s a marryathon in Seattle!

It’s all very gorgeous and eye-misting and you can read more here. And here’s a beautiful piece (written by a Pulitzer-winning reporter) about the issuing of the first marriage licences on Thursday. The writer is the tall guy in the last photo.

And a fun fact: the name of the judge who performed the first same-sex marriage is Mary Yu!

One of the most interesting things about all this for me is the fact that putting people’s civil rights on a ballot — which should NEVER be done — actually worked out not just well but was so nice. No one can doubt that the majority of Washingtonians support same-sex marriage rights. That beautiful knowledge will bring people together.

Hooray!

Death To Gays Might Not Be Dead

At least one blogger is skeptical over claims that Uganda is abandoning its commitment to make executing homosexuals illegal. From a bad-looking website  pleasingly titled Box Turtle Bulletin:

WBS Television in Uganda late yesterday posted another report on YouTube featuring statements by members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which is charged with marking up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with recommended changes. There are a few troubling aspects to the report. First, the reporter claims that the death penalty has been removed for “homosexuality acts with minors,” which sounds very suspiciously like several other previous reports, later proven to be false, that the death penalty had been removed. The last time we heard that line, we would quickly learn that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, in fact, had not removed the death penalty from the bill, but instead had simply obfuscated the death penalty’s presence in the bill.

Much more here. I guess we’ll have to see how this plays out. You can read more on the story here. In the meantime happy weekend to everyone (except ignorant moron malicious bigot Ugandan politicians).

Obama Vs. Republicans Vs. Gay

Yesterday, the U.S. president said something that made his wacky, religious zealot-filled country a little bit more civilized and sane. Today, always-worth-reading politics writer Glenn Greenwald weighs in in The Guardian (a.k.a. The World’s Best Newspaper):

Obama’s public defense immediately enshrines same-sex marriage as the official orthodoxy of the Democratic party. It is inconceivable that marriage equality will ever again retreat to the fringe. His willingness to embrace it in the midst of an election year signals a belief that the American public is ready to accept this position as perfectly mainstream, even if they disagree with it. It will undoubtedly enable – or pressure – other world leaders to support the same view.

Meanwhile on the Republican side of the country, presumptive U.S. presidential candidate Mitch Romney, who has denounced Obama’s  support for same-sex marriage, apparently assaulted a gay student while he was in college:

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled. A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

Not making this up. This is in the Washington Post, not some fringey conspiracy website. Yikes. America has problems.

Barack Obama, Same-Sex Marriage And Misuse Of The Word “Evolution”

So U.S. President Barack Obama had an interview with ABC news this a.m., and announced that he now officially supports same-sex marriage. “Personally,” that is. But he’s not promising to do anything about it and he supports states’ alleged rights to ban it.

Here’s the actual  ABC report that has quality video. Here’s Canada’s Xtra! on this. Here’s another report. Here’s another. Here’s yet another. Here’s awesome Dan Savage.

Here are some bigots who think blocking other people’s rights somehow protects their own rights. You don’t have to click on that one.

And here’s a merely adequate version of video, if you want to save time and just get to it:

Opinions: first off, there is no “evolution” going on here. Not even metaphorically. Obama has supported same-sex marriage for a long time. He just lied about it because the United States is a deranged and super homophobic country, and he wanted to get elected president. This is that one case where “evolution” is really and truly a buncha baloney.

Second, Obama’s a jerk and a weenie for not just declaring he’ll do everything in his power to make sure every gay and lesbian American has the right to get married regardless of the wishes of their particular state’s dumbass redneck assholes (I’m looking at you, North Carolina). You don’t put civil rights directly onto ballots.

Third, this is feeble politics. A bold stance would cause the awful Republicans to publicly self-destruct even more than they already are on an issue where the tide has turned and their party’s on the wrong side of the current.

But I guess it’s a baby step.

That’s one straight Canadian’s two bits.

Xtra Interviews Mr. Sulu

Canada’s gay and lesbian newspaper has an interview with same-sex rights advocate George Takei. And you want to read it! Snip:

You want to minimize being too much this or that, so you were certainly not going to be open about that part of yourself and thus you play the role of the heterosexual and you live a double life. You go to parties and premiere with a very dear “girlfriend” but then you’re going to bars on the down low. When you’re out of course you run into acting colleagues but we were cool and we pretended not to see each other. I’m of that generation where we were very, very closeted and we played a role in our private life just like we did in front of the camera or on stage.

The full interview is here. I promise it’ll be warmer, fuzzier and generally more fun to read than, say, this story about Gambia’s president being a homophobic ass.

Bang the Drum!: Pronoun Trouble

Bang the DrumI filed my first record review in months last week. I tackled the new record from Rae Spoon–you can read all about it in this week’s print edition of prairie dog. Spoon, if you don’t know, is a Montreal-based singer-songwriter. Spoon is also transgendered. In my review I followed the lead of Spoon’s publicity material and used the pronoun he in reference to Spoon. Then yesterday, long after I had filed my review, I saw this post on Rae Spoon’s Twitter feed: “I like being able to be spoken about without my gender being pointed out every single pronoun #callmethey

My first thought was that I understand the frustration with pronouns, but they is plural. Rae Spoon may not be beholden to gender labels, but Rae Spoon is most definitely singular–and I mean that as a compliment. The trans community should create a pronoun not already in use, I thought.
This afternoon, though, it’s still bugging me. It’s not at all as cut-and-dried as that. I consulted my go-to source for grammar and usage issues, Roy Peter Clark. Clark gives a good deal of space and consideration to the issue in his 2010 book The Glamour of Grammar.

The grammatical problem, of course, is that the plural pronouns “they” and “their” do not agree in number with the singular antecedent “person.” Given that clear violation of standard usage, why would anyone encourage it? There are at least two good, if not persuasive, reasons: (1) These days, gender equality trumps the arithmetic logic of formal grammar; (2) that’s the way we talk.

Clark goes on to talk about transgendered writer S. Bear Bergman, champion of gender neutral pronouns ze and hir, before concluding:

If you have not yet had a conversation with a transgender person, you will. When you do, the problem of pronoun will become pronounced. So, you must be thinking, what are you suggesting? Are you slouching toward blasphemy in approving number disagreement?
My answer is an enthusiastic but limited yes […] Another answer is to write from your heart.

Frankly, I’m relieved I had filed my review when I did and can honestly plead ignorance on the issue. I graciously leave it to writers and editors in the queer community to sort it out and shall follow their lead. I looked into the issue some more and found a blog posting on Spoon’s Tumblr blog:

I decided that I too prefer “they” as a pronoun. I was tired of often being expected to perform a male role because my pronoun was “he.” After so many years fighting to be called “he” and having people ask me when I was going to modify my body (physically transition), I realized that for me being trans is not about being read as a man or changing my body. I am happy with the body that I have. What I’m unhappy with is the way things are gendered by society in general. I don’t feel like I want to carry out a male or a female gender role. Gender-neutral pronouns made sense to me personally and felt like the right decision.

The post details the ongoing struggle to get queer weekly Xtra to adopt the pronoun they for trans people.

Here are Rae Spoon and Elisha Lim singing “Stand By Your Trans” in support of their (plural, no controversy, whew) campaign for they.

UPDATE 01/27: Toronto’s NOW Magazine, as usual, rides my coattails with an interview with Spoon about pronouns and their new album. Includes audio snippets!

Emmet Matheson is a freelance writer who blogs at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Harper’s Horrible Hobgoblins Open A Big, Gay Pandora’s Box

I took today off so I’m not yet up to speed on everything going on with the possible change in Canadian policy that says same sex marriages performed in Canada don’t count if the people getting married aren’t Canadian citizens. Want to catch up with me?

The Globe And Mail is following this thoroughly. Here’s the story that got it started, which Rosie linked to this a.m. (thank you, Rosie). Here’s their latest, along with a column by John Ibbitson.

(I don’t want to praisie the paper too much, though: after all, its editorial-writing numbnuts squad did endorse the Conservatives in the last election.)

Here’s The Canadian Press, here’s the CBC and here’s The Toronto Star. And here’s Dan Savage, an awesome U.S. gay rights activist (and awesome newspaper editor, and awesome sex and relationship advice columnist). Savage is a U.S. citizen who was married in Canada and if his marriage is nullified, he’s got problems:

There are potentially serious consequences for same-sex couples in Washington state who married in Canada. Right now, if I’m not mistaken, Washington state recognizes same-sex marriages performed in states and countries where same-sex marriage is legal—but Washington treats these couples (me and Terry included) as domestic partners under WA state law. Washington’s DP law grants same-sex couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage that the state controls. So… if same-sex marriage isn’t legal for foreigners in Canada, if our marriages aren’t valid in Canada, it’s possible that this move by Harper’s government means that couples like us—same-sex couples from WA who married in Canada—are no longer domestic partners under the law here in Washington state. What a headache.

Now, I’m not sure how much actual damage has been caused by this news. The government looks like idiots, though why anyone would be surprised that the party with connections to the creepy religious right and that once waged a jihad against same sex marriage is inept on this file is beyond me.  Certainly a lot of gay, lesbian and even straight people who give a shit have been pissed off, had feelings hurt, feel unwelcome, etc. Aside from that? We’ll see. Please share your thoughts below.

So What Exactly Is The Deal With Republican Rick Santorum?

Are you baffled and wondering? McDuckling’s post whet your appetitie for more information? Here you go. Dan Savage, editor, journalist, pundit, sex advice columnist and engineer of the greatest Google bomb in history, explains all in this Guardian op-ed entitled “Rick Santorum’s Homophobic Frothing”:

I have a history with Rick Santorum. In 2003, when Santorum, in an interview with the Associated Press, first compared gay relationships to child rape and dog fucking (have I mentioned that Santorum has compared gay relationships to child rape and dog fucking?), I held a contest to redefine Santorum’s last name. The winning definition: the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” (“Sometimes” is the most important word in the new definition of santorum; if you’re doing anal sex correctly, there won’t be any santorum – lower- or upper-case.) And since 2003, the new definition has the been the No1 Google return when you search “santorum”.

Don’t know Dan Savage? Well hey, meet Dan Savage.