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Pope attacks gays in end of year address

According to an article published by 365gay.com, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has attacked, yet again, gays and gay families.

In a New Year’s Eve vespers service the Holy Father stressed the importance of the family as based in marriage “in the life of the church and of society.”

According to the article:

“The family has always been at the center of attention of my venerable predecessors, especially John Paul II,” Benedict said before a packed congregation in St. Peter’s Basilica. “He was convinced, and reiterated it many times, that a crisis within the family comes at the grave detriment of our civilization.”

In his homily, the pontiff referred to an address he gave in June on the role of the family, when he referred to marriage as a union between man and woman and condemned same-sex unions as anarchic “pseudo-matrimony.”

Benedict said Saturday he spoke that day “to underline the importance of the family founded on a marriage in the life of the church and of society.”

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Oprah viewer admires gay teens

A post from The Equality MySpace Blog w/ Matt Hill:

Oprah viewer admires gay teens

Oprah Winfrey recently did a show on homosexuality.

You can check out the website on the show here:
http://www2.oprah.com/tows/after/200512/
tows_after_20051223.jhtml

On the site you can watch a segment of the show as well as see the quote of the day by singer Billy Porter.

While I was looking at the site, I noticed a comment which was made over the internet by one of Oprah’s viewers:

“I really respect anyone who has come out, especially all those younger teens. I believe they have cleared the biggest obstacle to living with happiness for gay people. I just wish I could have the courage and character to see how my life could be better by coming out. I wonder what a world would look like where gay people didn’t have to face such hardships to be true to themselves.”
— 64jon5

It is really awesome that the courage of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) teens have been acknowledged, especially on such a big venue as Oprah can provide.

We should all take the time to remember, though, that LGBT persons are not the only ones who ever have to “come out”. All of our straight allies have to, at one time or another, come out as such. Somewhere along the way, our straight allies come out by saying “I support you and I support LGBT equality.” Doing such thing can make straight teens just as vulnerable to parental and familial rejection as well as rejection from friends. It can also open them up to some of the same harassment LGBT youth receive.

So, just as the thought for the day, keep in mind all of our straight allies and offer them as much support as you would any LGBT person.

Similar to the help of the white majority during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the LGBT Rights Movement needs the help of our straight allies.

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Mental disease – Part 2

Well, as it always seems inevitable these days, it looks as though I have managed to upset some people in regard to my recent post Homosexuality a disease? Fellow blogger poses the question , which I featured on The Equality MySpace Blog w/ Matt Hill.

A MySpace reader accused me of being a “reactionary” and attacking something when no attack was needed.

I beg to differ on that one. Disagreement is healthy and Anonymous Soldier voiced his opinions and thoughts and I did the same in return.

It is my opinion that using the words “mental disease” or “mental disorder” along with the words “homosexuality” or “gays” is not only wrong, but dangerous. Although a commenter on Anonymous Soldier’s blog noted that homosexuality, just as anything else can become a mental disorder if it causes one not to function in society, it must be stressed that homosexuality is not a mental disease or disorder in and of itself; if it were, homosexuality would still be listed in the DSM.

As the commenter pointed out, fear of cockroaches is not a mental disease, but it has the possibility of becoming so if one’s phobia of cockroaches disables them from living and functioning in life properly and rationally. The same is true with homosexuality, in cases where a person may have conflicts with his or her sexual orientation, therefore leading to irrational behavior, thoughts or actions.

But all in all, I still think it is important that everyone understand that homosexuality, in and of itself, is not a mental disease or disorder, although the radical, anti-gay right still tries to paint homosexuality as a disease and departure from the natural and moral order. The claims of the Right, however, are rooted in nothing but religiously-based bigotry, hatred, ignorance and prejudice.

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According to an article published by 365gay.com (Hat tip: Pam’s House Blend), political and religious leaders will are organizing another ‘Justice Sunday’, this time on the eve of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Judge Samuel Alito.

The organizers say that Alito will protect “traditional marriage” and they are going to send out their messages of bigotry and hate via satellite to churches and homes across the nation.

According to the article:

The program will originate at the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

Scheduled speakers include U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R.-Pa), Rev. Jerry Falwell and James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

Santorum who has White House aspirations in 2008 is one of the sponsors of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Falwell and Dobson are longtime opponents of LGBT civil rights.

The Jan. 8 program, “Justice Sunday III: Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land,” follows two previous gatherings designed to rally support for conservative positions on abortion, gay marriage, prayer in public schools and other issues.

The earlier events were held during the Senate showdown over judicial filibusters in April and before Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmation hearings in August.

Democrats and LGBT groups accused speakers of trying to impose their religious views on the country.

Alito’s nomination has been opposed by a host of LGBT civil rights groups, including Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

In 2001, Alito authored a decision in the case of Saxe v. State. The decision declared unconstitutional a school anti-harassment policy including sexual orientation. The suit had orginally been brought by a group of “Christians” claiming that their rights to free speech (i.e. to tell people they are going to hell and to call them derogatory names) would be breached by the policy.

On the flip side, however, Alito wrote as a law school student that discrimination against gays in employment and hiring “should be forbidden” (see story from 365gay.com).

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I read an interesting post on An Army of 1 in 10 today. Anonymous Soldier has posed the question: “What if homosexuality is a disease — would that really be so horrible?”

Before actually posing that question he states:

Why are we (”we” as in homosexuals) are so opposed to the idea that maybe the APA was wrong to delist homosexuality as a mental illness? What if it is a mental illness? There’s certainly no solid proof of a biological origin for it, and it serves no evolutionary purpose. So why should homosexuality exist as a biological divergence in human sexuality?

Do I personally believe it to be a mental disorder? Of course not. But that’s grounded in nothing more than faith. Faith that I am not suffering from a potentially treatable disorder. It’s certainly not based on a solid scientific foundation. Sure, there’s evidence that homosexuality is in part, genetically determined; but there’s no proof for this. Deviations in brain structure do not constitute proof of a biological origin for homosexuality.

My personal belief is that homosexuality is partly genetic and partly due to environmental factors within the womb. And even then, there exists only the potential for homosexual preference until puberty hits and the hormones begin to change the structure of the brain. Yes, I believe that it’s innate and immutable; but again, that’s only a belief.

No different from the belief that it’s a conscious choice, or that it’s a mental disorder originating from something lacking in one’s childhood. So why do we rail against that belief when we have no proof against it? I’d have to say it’s the fact that people don’t like being labelled as suffering from a mental disorder. Perhaps the idea that homosexuality might one day be treatable like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder scares us. We want to be thought of as normal, and having the possibility loom over us that we’re not causes us to lash out.

Personally, I have to say that I’m disgusted that a gay person, epsecially one with the potential of reaching thousands of people with his words, would even dare to say something such as this.

No, homosexuality is not a mental disease. If it were, there would have been enough evidence to keep it classified as one and the APA would have never taken it out of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Anonymous soldier claims that homosexuality “serves no evolutionary purpose” and then asks “So why should homosexuality exist as a biological divergence in human sexuality?”

My friend, a student studying history who is also interested in anthropology and the study of people, once told me to consider the fact that homosexuals could be nature’s way of controlling the human population. It is a fact that homosexuals do not reproduce as much as heterosexuals, mainly because the homosexual sex act does not carry with it the possibility of reproduction. A heterosexual couple can have many children, who in turn, have the possibility of having many children, and so on and so on. Homosexual couples do not carry that possibility. The only way homosexual couples can have children is to adopt or through surrogacy or through artificial insemination, all of which never lead to the “accidental” births we so often see in the heterosexual population.

The flip side of this arguement would be that gays came about through intelligent design:

If it’s not evolution…

I have to agree with Dennis Rogers about homosexuality (“Old truth in young gays,” Oct. 15). Homosexuality is very complex behavior; it appears in every generation, in every culture and in many species besides our own. It can’t be a product of evolution because homosexuals don’t reproduce. Homosexuality must be a product of Intelligent Design.

Steve Klein
Raleigh
October 21, 2005

Another thing to consider is that anti-gays use the premise that homosexuality is a disease by using “evidence” of all the negative side effects of living a “homosexual lifestyle”. What about all of the negative side effects of the “heterosexual lifestyle”?

In fact, I even posted about a letter to the editor on heterosexuality’s negative side effects:

Re the letter, “Facts to add about homosexuals” (Nov. 28): If we’re going to generalize that folks who live a “homosexual lifestyle” face many ills, we’ll need to discuss the ills of the “heterosexual lifestyle.” For example, the U.S. birth rate for teenagers in 1997 was 52.3 live births per 1,000 women age 15 to 19. Teen pregnancy is a heterosexual problem.

Also, in America, 54 percent of new HIV/AIDS infections are among heterosexuals. This isn’t even addressing that the incidence rates for sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea and human papilloma virus — within the entire adolescent population in the United States have increased dramatically in the past decade.

For example, 40 percent to 50 percent of all sexually active females have had a previous HPV infection, now known to account for most cases of cervical cancer.

Lastly, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2003 marriage rate in the United States was 7.5 per 1,000 total population, and the divorce rate 3.8 per 1,000 population. This apparent 50.7 percent divorce rate is a heterosexual problem.

So to follow logic similar to the letter, students should be educated that heterosexuals aren’t necessarily “bad” people, but that the “heterosexual lifestyle” is bad for people.

My point is this… people are people and love is love. To be able to love is the greatest gift of all. To me, it does not matter how or who you love… Woman to Woman, Woman to Man or Man to Man. All that matters to be is that love be true and right; love must be something between two people, where both are respected and none are hurt.

To say that our love is a “mental disease” is diseased in and of itself. I’m sorry Anonymous Soldier, but no matter how good your intentions, posing such a question was, at least in my opinion, wrong and disrespectful to all people who love, everywhere.

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LGBT Advocacy & youth – Part 2

See… I told you all… us LGBT youth have got it covered.

On top of my blogging activities here on my blog, I will also be blogging on The Equality MySpace Blog.

Equality MySpace was started by Tully Satre, the 16 year old Executive Director of a LGBT advocacy group in Virginia, Equality Fauquier/Culpeper. Equality MySpace is reaching out to LGBTQ and straight youth across America and around the globe.

Like I said in my previous post… the LGBT youth are definitely rolling things along in the LGBT Rights Movement today!

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I’ve been talking to Tully Satre (view his blog here, which I have added to my blog links on the side), the 16 year old high school gay rights activist.

He founded an advocacy group, Equality Fauquier/Culpeper, in Virginia and is its Executive Director. He is helping to start The Voice Project (www.voiceproject.org, the site is down until March) and is also working with Equality Virginia

Tully is a great guy and an awesome advocate… With him in Virginia and with me here in North Carolina, you can bet we’ll have at least these two states covered when it comes to LGBT advocacy by youth! Tully is doing a lot though… Executive Director of an advocacy group at 16 years old… wish I was there, I’m still at the Board of Directors level, lol.

Everybody check out his blog and take notice of what this guy is doing… maybe him and I will end up working together at the same LGBT advocacy group in the future, you never know. Like me, his focus of advocacy and activism is on LGBT youth, the most vulnerable population within the LGBT community.

Here is an excerpt from a post on Tully’s blog:

There are countless GLBT/Q youth trapped in their very own homes, in their very own lives. There are countless GLBT/Q youth thrown out on the streets – everyday – in our community. I used to visit a local teenager who had been thrown out of his house – because he told his parents he was gay. Brian* lived on a bench in front of a common building in Warrenton, (Fauquier County), Virginia. I haven’t seen him since August.

Brian was a junior at Fauquier High School (FHS) in Warrenton. He had shaggy brown hair, glasses, and loved the color black. He was gay, and his parents kicked him out at age 17. Brian tried countless times to commit suicide, but luckily he never succeeded. He never got his diploma. Brian is among the 30% of GLBT/Q youth who drop out of High School. I heard he found a home and is living with friends near the border of Maryland. He has a job and is making a living on his own – but not the living he could have made with the support of his parents, or the completion of High School.

FHS does not have a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) – in fact – no public school in Fauquier County has a GSA. Brian had no one to turn to. I received countless reports from students at FHS who claimed that such efforts to create a GSA were not successful, and that in fear of retribution they did not take it to the ACLU. Another teen attending a different school in Fauquier County reported that he was forced by his parents to pretend to be straight, or he would be kicked out of his house. Other reports indicated drug use among local GLBT/Q teens that have had no peer support. All reports from teens, and friends of teens, who had been struggling with drug-related issues because of the societal pressure on their sexual orientation have recovered. However, they continue to struggle with an everyday addiction. With this, I realize two things:

1.) GLBT/Q Youth need our help. The leading cause of death for gay youth is suicide. E-mail me if you have questions on how to help our GLBT/Q youth tully ‘at’ efcva ‘dot’ org. (You can contact me as well at matt ‘at’ matthillnc ‘dot’ com, ~MH)
2.) I am one of the luckiest kids alive. I have compassionate, loving parents who have taught me to accept others as well as myself for who we are, and what we were born to be. (Ditto. ~MH)

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According to an article published by The Washington Times (not the Post, people… the Times is a conservative paper), anti-gay activists are putting the protection of “traditional marriage” at the top of their list of priorities in the new year Virginia and Maryland legislative sessions.

Virginia’s lawmakers have already approved an amendment banning recognition of same-sex relationships (including civil unions, domestic partnerships, and things as simple as wills and power-of-attorney agreements) but it has yet to be approved to go before voters. The amendment must pass in the assembly again in 2006 before it is allowed to go before voters.

Maryland has repeatedly failed such an amendment:

Complicating the debate in Maryland is a lawsuit filed by nine same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses this year. The lawsuit is pending in Baltimore City Circuit Court, and a ruling is expected soon.

Maryland law defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman, but family groups pledge to continue lobbying for a constitutional definition because of the pending lawsuit.

“We don’t think the one judge should be making decisions that affect not only Maryland culture, but the national culture,” said Doug Stiegler, executive director of the Family Protection Lobby.

He said Maryland’s 1973 marriage law does not go far enough, and complained that lawmakers have blocked proposed marriage amendments from full floor votes in the Democrat-controlled House and Senate. If a proposed amendment passes both chambers by a three-fifths majority, it will go to voters in November.

Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, said he thinks a constitutional amendment subjects the rights of one group to popular vote.

“I would like to think that Maryland legislators have indicated they are not interested in limiting people’s rights,” he said.

In Virginia, it looks as though the assembly will again approve of the proposed amendment, meaning that it would head to voters in November 2006.

======
Well… what can I say? I think it is very clear; discrimination is alive and well in the Virginia and Maryland (athough Maryland has an upper hand by having fair-minded legislators, which is something Virginia cannot claim).

My family has property in Virginia and I have often contemplated moving to that property when I get older and commuting to work in Winston-Salem (only about a 45 minute drive). After what has happened in Virginia and their passing of a statute outlawing any type of legal recognition of same-sex couples, including wills and power of attorney agreements, I don’t think I’ll be moving to Virginia. It’s a shame, too… my family settled in that area in the 1750s and my family has been around there since then. Oh well.

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Logo of the NC Governors SchoolA letter to the editor from an anti-gay parent bashing the NC Governor’s school was published today in The Daily Dispatch (Hendersonville, NC).

The parent “regrets” sending her child to the honors school because of a seminar which was being offered, entitled “The New Gay Teenager”:

To the editor:
After reading the announcement concerning the nominees for the 2006 N.C. Governor’s School program, I have to encourage the parents to research this program before entrusting the staff with their child. I expected the program to live up to its reputation for being an excellent academic enrichment program for gifted and talented students. However, my experience showed that people with other agendas have found this to be a very easy program with which to impress their beliefs on unsuspecting young minds.

After my child returned from the 2005 North Carolina Governor’s School-West program, I found a schedule from the final week which showed that an optional seminar entitled “The New Gay Teenager” had been sponsored by GSW. Parents were not given schedules as to the material that would be presented in the classes or seminars. In addition, it was conducted by GSW staff members who, according to the director, were all homosexual and relating their personal experience.

I feel that this was totally inappropriate for the students who were 15, 16, and 17 years old. I totally regret sending my child to this supposedly great honors program. Remember that this program is supported by our tax dollars.

Beverly Burrows
Candler, NC

The NC Governor’s School-West is held at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC, during every summer. The East program is held at Meredith College. The Governor’s School is the oldest statewide summer enrichment program for academically gifted students.

The anti-gay parent may regret sending her child to the school but I regret that she has the audacity to accuse the NC Governor’s School of trying to indoctrinate her child.

Now I don’t know for sure, but I can pretty much bet that the name of this optional seminar to which the anti-gay parent objects came from a very scholarly book by the same name: The New Gay Teenager, which was written by Ritch C. Savin-Williams, the Professor of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Cornell University. The book itself was the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s 2005 Distinguished Book Award.

The New Gay Teenager, courtesy Harvard University PressDoing a quick Google search on the name of the seminar gave me that result, and I had thought I had seen the book itself in the Resource Library of UNCG PRIDE!.

Here is a summary of the book, from the Harvard University Press:

Gay, straight, bisexual: how much does sexual orientation matter to a teenager’s mental health or sense of identity? In this down-to-earth book, filled with the voices of young people speaking for themselves, Ritch Savin-Williams argues that the standard image of gay youth presented by mental health researchers–as depressed, isolated, drug-dependent, even suicidal–may have been exaggerated even twenty years ago, and is far from accurate today.

The New Gay Teenager gives us a refreshing and frequently controversial introduction to confident, competent, upbeat teenagers with same-sex desires, who worry more about the chemistry test or their curfew than they do about their sexuality. What does “gay” mean, when some adolescents who have had sexual encounters with those of their own sex don’t consider themselves gay, when some who consider themselves gay have had sex with the opposite sex, and when many have never had sex at all? What counts as “having sex,” anyway? Teenagers (unlike social science researchers) are not especially interested in neatly categorizing their sexual orientation.

In fact, Savin-Williams learns, teenagers may think a lot about sex, but they don’t think that sexuality is the most important thing about them. And adults, he advises, shouldn’t think so either.

As the anti-gay parent pointed out, the Governor’s School seminar was optional. No one made her child attend, although she doesn’t even mention whether or not her child did attend it. She talks of people using the Governor’s School to push their own political agendas. I disagree… I think the Governor’s School staff was trying to teach those who were willing (since it was optional) about diversity, acceptance, tolerance and also about how society may view sexual orientation and sexual identity.

I am sure that the anti-gay parent is thinking of sex and sexual activities when the words “gay” or “sexual orientation” enters into her mind, but in my experience within any type of academic setting, sexual activities are something that would just not be discussed.

I think it is ironic she wants to accuse others pushing an agenda. What exactly does she think she is doing? She is pushing an agenda of her own, one of bigotry and prejudice.

Yes, you are right Ms. Burrows, the school is supported by tax-payer money… so guess what, you have to include all sides and you cannot exclude anyone.

Although, I really liked the last paragraph of that book’s summary and I think Ms. Burrows would be wise to follow its wisdom:

In fact, Savin-Williams learns, teenagers may think a lot about sex, but they don’t think that sexuality is the most important thing about them. And adults, he advises, shouldn’t think so either.

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According to an article published by 365gay.com, the same Christian political action groups which spearheaded the move to ban gaymarriage in Texas are now pushing a move which would take away funding to the university of Texas’s LGBT Center.

This is proof that the anti-gay, radical right wants to do more than just “protect marriage”. They want to silence all gay people and take us to a real second-class citizenship. Want more proof: According to Lambda Legal, anti-gay groups are also suing to take away healthcare for LGBT domestic partners at the University of Maimi.

My God… can gay people have any rights or should we just disappear? From the actions of the anti-gay bigots, you’d think that’s what they’d want us to do: go away and never come back. But, of course, that is what they want us to do. It won’t happen, though, because right always wins over wrong and they are just, simply put, wrong.

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