6

Sick loved one? Too bad & tough luck queer.

The Kentucky State Senate passed today a ban on the recognition and offering of domestic partner benefits. If the bill becomes law it would ban the Kentucky state government and all its sub-divisions including colleges and universities from offering important health and other domestic partner benefits.

According to the Courier-Journal (Louisville, K.Y.), college and university presidents have opposed the bill saying it hurts their ability to recruit and retain the best candidates for professorships and other positions.

If we remember way back to the beginning of the major pushes for marriage amendments, particularly when President George W. Bush announced his support for a federal amendment in 2004, we’ll remember that proponents of the constitutionalized bans claimed they only sought to “protect” what they saw as “traditional” marriage. No one then, or at least no one seen as sane, was claiming to push for a total non-recognition of LGBT people and families.

Wednesday’s action in the Kentucky Senate seals what many LGBT activists and leaders have known for a while: The anti-gay, religious right will not stop until all levels of government completely ignore and out-right ban any recognition or legal protection for LGBT people and families.

While the movement to constitutionalize second-class citizenship failed at a federal level, it seems as though efforts to continue the legal sidelining of LGBT citizens continues in conservative states like Kentucky. In Arkansas, state legislators are now debating a bill to ban adoption by all LGBT people and any unmarried individuals. No one there has stopped to consider that the pool for those able and eligible for foster parenting or adoption will drop by half or more if that bill is successful.

In other states, similar total non-recognition efforts have taken place. By now, the aim of the anti-gay religious right should be clear. The American people, it seems, continue to be duped by talk of “values” and “tradition.” Unfortunately, our citizens haven’t yet grasped the fact that “values” really means “prejudice” and “tradition” really means “institutionalized bigotry and discrimination.”

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0

Another Candidate to Exit The Race

The Associated Press is also reporting that Rudy Giuliani is preparing to formally withdraw from the Republican nomination process.  In many political discussions I hear that I should “support a candidate with a chance at winning,” as if Ron Paul has absolutely no chance for securing the nomination.  This idea persists not only in private conversations but also in public representation of his campaign in the media and his invitations (or lack thereof) to participate in debates. This despite routinely placing above Giuliani in primaries.  If the former mayor was ever a viable candidate, Ron Paul certainly is all that and more.  With well over 3 million raised this quarter alone; Paul’s campaign is picking up, not slowing down.

I’m encouraging readers to revisit my post regarding Ron Paul, review his campaign website, and seriously examine his Congressional voting record.

3

BREAKING NEWS: Edwards to drop out of race

It is with great sadness that I read this morning the news that John Edwards is bowing out of the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination. The Associated Press reports that Edwards will make the official announcement this afternoon from New Orleans in a matter which–in my mind–highlights a core reason he should be the Democratic nominee:

Edwards’ campaign will end the way it began 13 months ago — with the candidate pitching in to rebuild lives in a city still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards embraced New Orleans as a glaring symbol of what he described as a Washington that didn’t hear the cries of the downtrodden.

Candidates in all parties would do wise to remember that if we want to be a strong nation, we must respect, work with, and care for all of our citizens.

1

The New Baptist Covenant

No doubt, there is something exciting about the gathering of Baptists of all colors and creeds this week in Atlanta. Led by President Jimmy Carter, the New Baptist Covenant will bring together all sorts of Baptist congregations and associations.

From The New York Times:

The meeting’s statement of shared purpose, known as its covenant, calls for Baptists to focus on their traditional values, like “sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and to work together on social issues like fighting poverty. It does not create a new denomination.

“I would like to see a demonstration that Christians who have different backgrounds and different political and theological orientations and geographical locations can come together in the spirit of unity,” Mr. Carter said, “not just for Baptists, but for Christians all over the world.”

But for other Baptists and experts on the faith, a central aim of the gathering seems to be to create a theological and political counterweight to the Southern Baptist Convention, which many of the groups that plan to attend have left.

Politically and theologically conservative, the Southern Baptist Convention, with 16 to 18 million members, is the largest denomination in the United States after the Roman Catholic Church.

“The sense is that the public image is dominated by the Southern Baptist Convention,” said the Rev. David W. Key, director of Baptist studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. “It’s not that the New Baptist Covenant will do the same things as the Southern Baptist Convention does. But it’s about the brand name. ‘Can we create a brand?’ ”

I love the idea… the spirit of the gathering and fellowship, but I’m left wondering: Where do LGBT Baptists like me fit into all this new Baptist covenantry?

In summer 2007, the organization heading up the New Baptist Covenant told two Baptist affiliations welcoming and affirming of LGBT people they would not be welcome at the gathering:

The North American Baptist Fellowship, under whose auspices next year’s “Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant” is being held, has informed the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America that they cannot become affiliates of the NABF. Therefore, they cannot be official participants in the event.

“This is not a rejection of either organization or the people in those organization[s],” wrote Alan Stanford, general secretary of the NABF, in an e-mail alerting leaders of the two groups to NABF’s decision. “It is a recognition that we can not hold together the large coalition of Baptists needed to create a new Baptist voice in North America and address the issue of sexual orientation at the same time. We ask for your forbearance and understanding.”

So, what do we do? Are LGBT Baptists expected to just sit back and wait? Why can’t we be included now? Why can’t the New Baptist Fellowship take up the same ideals espoused so well by Charlotte’s Myers Park Baptist Church: We may not agree on all things, but we are united under one Christ; let’s walk this faith journey together?

But all of us — including us LGBT Baptists — know that Baptists hardly ever work things out quickly or easily. For us Baptists, things take time, unfortunately.

The New Baptist Covenant, it seems, will only be a covenant for straight Baptists. LGBT congregants will be left waiting in the wings. We’ll quietly sit in the back of the sanctuary and wait our turn, they think. Wrong. They’ll hear from us, whether when it is when we stand up to participate in Bible readings during worship services, or when we lead or sing in the choir, or when we teach Sunday School classes, or help in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup.

Exclusion… it might be a tempting thing to do, but it won’t work.

I give credit to President Carter and others who are trying to build a coalition of Baptists who can really focus on what it actually means to be Baptist. They’ll never get to that point, though, until they include all Baptists.

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Re: Waiting for the predictable backlash

Matt, Thanks for highlighting the ill-conceived prison-themed board game for us. Timothy Kincaid over at Box Turtle Bulletin has already scolded LA Time’s write Tom O’Neil for calling it “gay themed” and to let the Times know that such a correlation is “offensive and stupid” — I think we’d do well to join him in that endeavor.

I also saw this story covered by The Point and while I appreciate the need to distinguish between gay relationships and rape (as if that needs clarifying), Allen Thornburgh raises other important concerns (emphasis added):

Should we similarly tolerate games about date rape? And if we see a game about prison rape as different than one about date rape, what does that say about how we view prisoners? To borrow a bit, are prisoners not men and brothers?

Any attempts to paint this game as “gay themed” are gravely missing the point. The adage to judge a person not by how she treats her friends, but rather by how she treats her enemies applies here to: what type of society do we want to be?

My editorial from the Jan. 26 issue of Q-Notes, your premier source of LGBT news and views in the Carolinas.

This editorial comes just a couple weeks before Michael Brown will be holding a series of lectures prior to the HRC Carolinas Gala in Charlotte, N.C. On Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008, Brown will debate HRC Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox. Tickets to this event and more information are available by emailing info@hrccarolinas.org. You have until Jan. 31 to buy your tickets to the HRC Carolinas Gala at $190.00. After Jan. 31, prices will jump to $225.00. More information available at www.hrccarolinas.org. As I was told Saturday evening, the deadline for the youth dinner scholarship (which includes attendance at a CampusPride student leadership conference the day of the dinner) has been extended to Feb. 1.

Holy war: ‘A cause worth dying for’

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

If you are involved in the LGBT community across the Carolinas, chances are good that you have seen them at the NC Pride Festival in Durham, Pride Charlotte or outside the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Carolinas Gala Dinner. The “them” I refer to are the red-shirt-wearing, big-sign-carrying, loudspeaker-screaming protestors from Operation Save America (OSA). Because they are loud they get most of our attention, but they shouldn’t be our only concern.

Less in-your-face but (as you will see) no less harmful is the Coalition of Conscience (CoC). On the surface, CoC’s leader Dr. Michael L. Brown seems innocent enough. In September 2007, he organized a forum asking “Can you be Gay and Christian?” that he promoted as a peaceful opportunity for discussion and dialogue.

(Note: The forum will be reprised on Feb. 14, when Brown debates HRC Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox in the Booth Playhouse at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.)
Brown has realized that the hellfire and damnation style of preaching and protesting don’t work when it comes to converting “ho-mo-sek-shuls,” so he’s turned to more genteel, seemingly benevolent language.

Don’t be fooled. Many people fail to realize just how deeply Brown and his CoC are entrenched in the idea of “holy war” against society and more specifically the LGBT community.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

Please note… Q-Notes will print in our Feb. 9 issue a clarification regarding a quote mistakenly attributed to Dr. Michael Brown in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s The Intelligence Report, a quote included in the Jan. 26 editorial.

Q-Notes Jan 26 CoverHeadlines from the Jan. 26 issue of Q-Notes, your premier source of LGBT news and views in the Carolinas.

HRC Carolinas announces 2008 honorees
Elke Kennedy, Bennie Colclough and Myers Park Baptist to be honored at February dinner

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

CHARLOTTE — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Carolinas Gala committee has revealed the winners of the 2008 Equality Award and Trailblazer Award, which will be presented Feb. 16 during the 13th annual fundraising dinner. The announcement of the honorees was made public on Jan. 9.

The Equality Award, which recognizes outstanding individual or organizational work for LGBT equality and progress, will be presented to Elke Kennedy of Greenville, S.C., and Charlotte’s Myers Park Baptist Church. The Trailblazer Award will be presented to the Rev. Dr. Bennie Colclough. Read more…

Black history: Stories often unheard
Black LGBTs have made impact on nation, world

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

Each February, school children across America learn about African-American civil rights leaders, politicians, inventors, judges, business owners and many other black movers and shakers throughout history. The stories they rarely hear, however, are those of African-Americans who were also lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Just as black activists have long contended that gay history has a “blackout” on LGBT/same-gender-loving (SGL) people of color, Black History Month observances often likewise fail to honor the heroes of the black LGBT community. Read more…

LGBT center organizes in RDU
compiled by Q-Notes staff

RALEIGH — The GLBT Center of Raleigh’s Organizational Development Committee (ODC) has announced it is taking nominations for the Governance Team. The Team will assist in establishing the Center as a legal entity.

The OCD is looking for candidates who are positive, action-oriented individuals and interested in making the dream of having a brick and mortar structure in Raleigh a reality. One does not need a great deal of experience, but a willingness to be a strong team player with a great work ethic. Individuals are needed to work with a diverse group of people and help in the decision-making process. Read more…

OPINION: Home-schooling mom will bring SC schools to far right
by Jack Kirven . Q-Notes staff

South Carolina’s beleaguered education system is fraught with challenges. Case in point: Only 50 percent of the high school students in the state complete a high school diploma in four years (among the worst ratings in the country). Incompetence, discrimination and favoritism at all levels of the organization engender frustration and everywhere there are problems, problems, problems…

With so much going awry, many groups with a widely divergent range of perspectives constantly hurl new ideas into the fray, never allowing any of the changes enough time to actually begin to work. One such group, S.C. Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE) has scored a major victory, which could possibly prove disastrous for LGBT students and their allies: SCPIE co-founder Kristen Maguire has been selected as the chairwoman for the South Carolina Board of Education, despite the fact that she has no degree in teaching or education; home-schools her four daughters, rather than entrust their learning to the organization she will be leading; and lists abstinence education, intelligent design and school choice as her main priorities. Read more…

Visit Q-Notes Online at www.q-notes.com. Our next issue comes out on Feb. 9, one week prior to the HRC Carolinas Gala in Charlotte, N.C.

3

Waiting for the predictable backlash

Over reaction. Just wait for it.

The story is just so good.

The son of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is peddling a board game titled “Don’t Drop the Soap,” a prison-themed game he created as part of a class project at the Rhode Island School of Design.

John Sebelius, 23, has the backing of his mother and father, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius. Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said both parents “are very proud of their son John’s creativity and talent.”

[…]

The site describes “Don’t Drop the Soap” as a game “Where no one playing enters through the front door!”

“Fight your way through 6 different exciting locations in hopes of being granted parole,” the site says. “Escape prison riots in The Yard, slip glass into a mob boss’ lasagna in the Cafeteria, steal painkillers from the nurse’s desk in the Infirmary, avoid being cornered by the Aryans in the Shower Room, fight off Latin Kings in Gang War, and try not to smoke your entire stash in The Hole.”

The game includes five tokens representing a bag of cocaine, a handgun and three characters: wheelchair-using ‘Wheelz,” muscle-flexing “Anferny” and business suit-clad “Sal ‘the Butcher.'”

The whole story here. The game sold here.

As I said… perfect story for the perfect backlash. There’s just so much to complain about. Undue prejudice against prison inmates. Prison stereotypes. “Gay rape themed” (as one gay activist has already noted). Or, just a college student’s silly, over the top humor and creativity. We’ll see.

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18

The health system sucks

So for the past few months I’ve had this recurring sore throat/swelling of the tonsils. Looking at pictures online of tonsillitis, I’m pretty darn sure that I have it. During the swelling, my throat looks exactly like the photographs of others with bacterial tonsillitis.

TonsillitisI don’t have health insurance. When I moved out of my mother’s house and came to Charlotte, I was taken off her health insurance plan. So, these past few months I’ve suffered in silence every time my throat swells up. It usually only lasts about five-six days, then I’m feeling better again (although the redness and some swelling is always present). The pain wasn’t all that bad… until this time.

I woke up this morning and it felt like half my throat was swollen shut. It hurts to swallow and it hurts to drink my coffee (and friends, you know just how much I love my coffee).

The point is, I need medical care NOW. Not later when I get my health insurance at work (which is why I’ve suffered in silence, just biding my time until it comes). I know that while an emergency room can’t turn you away, I’ll end up getting a bill that is $400, $500, $600 or more later. That is one option, but one that makes me just take on one more bill added onto paying back student loans and college-age stupidity otherwise known as credit card debt (although I’m not so bad off, compared to some of my friends debts racked up into the tens of thousands).

The second option is an urgent care center. I called them and asked how much it would cost to see a doctor. Just to be seen costs just over $190, and that doesn’t include any tests or cultures they may have to do. The kicker is that they don’t do billing. All money is due up front with costs for tests and cultures due at the end of your visit. But if you have health insurance, they’ll bill you then.

My point is that our health system sucks. This is one of the reasons why I have supported John Edwards for president. No one should be refused urgent care simply because they can’t pay up front. They offer billing to those with health insurance, which really doesn’t help folks like me: People who could pay the costs, if given the option of being billed and fitting it into a budget.

Alas, I’ll just suffer in silence some more and hope the infection doesn’t spread to other parts of my throat or mouth.

As for today and through this next week… No prolonged speaking for me. I have to save my throat strength for my coffee.

Family Equality CouncilThe Family Equality Council (formerly Family Pride) is pushing against a campaign to ban LGBT people from adopting in the state of Arkansas.

The Family Council Action Committee recently launched a campaign to restrict prospective foster and adoptive parents to married, heterosexual couples, which comprise only 50% of all households in the state. The effort would take the form of a ballot initiative. Arkansas Families First, a statewide coalition of family and child welfare advocates, is fighting against the anti-gay initiative, “standing up against political opportunists for what’s in the best interest of children.”

“The Family Equality Council stands in unison with Arkansas Families First as they fight for the well-being of all children in their state. Extremist groups like the Family Council Action Committee are attempting to limit the number of prospective parents for children in need simply in order to push their narrow agendas and impose their values on all families,” said Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler. “Child welfare professionals know what’s best for children, not zealots, and child welfare professionals strongly oppose this ban. The Family Equality Council will support all those who oppose this mean-spirited and discriminatory ban and work to ensure that our fair-minded friends in Arkansas understand the impact this legislation could have on the children of Arkansas.”

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