Category Archives: Politics

A Storify in Response to an Adam Ford Webcomic

So for whatever reason, I check Adam Ford’s webcomic almost daily. I decided I had to tweet about his latest comic. I’ve embedded the resulting Storify below:

 

NOM’s “scary study results” are only scary if you lack nuance

Alvin McEwen blogged on Monday about NOM pushing a new Regnerus “study.”  McEwen rightfully points out how dishonest it is for NOM to continue pushing Regnerus’s work despite the fact that he and his work have been heavily discredited over the past several months.

What I find interesting is how NOM presents and interprets this new “study”:

Activists trying to force a redefinition of marriage on America have constantly evaded the question, “what is marriage?” Meanwhile, they have insisted that gays and lesbians simply want access to the same sacred institution of marriage and that they don’t intend to change anything about that institution.

But the survey responses from gay men and lesbians themselves don’t support these claims.

The institution envisioned by those who want to redefine marriage isn’t faithful… it isn’t exclusive… it isn’t permanent… put bluntly, it isn’t marriage.

So basically, Regnerus polls a bunch of people about a number of views and NOM tries to interpret the answers to those views as people’s understanding of what marriage is.  That’s problematic at best.

So let’s take a look at some of those views from the poll.

Viewing pornography is OK.  This one has absolutely nothing to do with marriage.  Some people look at porn.  Others don’t.  Some married people watch porn.  (Some even watch it with their married partner!)  Some don’t.  Some single people watch porn.  Some single people don’t.  Saying that viewing pornography is acceptable doesn’t really reveal much — if anything — about one’s views of marriage.

I’d also like to note that saying that viewing pornography is okay is not that same as saying that viewing pornography is never problematic.  Yes, if viewing pornography is interfering with one’s relationship(s) (by say, changing your attitudes toward the people in your life, especially your romantic partner), that’s a huge problem.  However, that does not mean that viewing pornography in general is a horrible thing.  NOM is effectively trying to use this one statement to cast everything in a black and white argument where there is much more nuance to be considered.

Premarital cohabitation is good.  Again, this statement really doesn’t tell you anything about a person’s views on marriage.  A person may think that living together before marriage is good and important and yet still consider their wedding vows of great importance when the take them.  In fact, some people promote living together before marriage because they take their wedding vows seriously and want to have a sense of how living together will work out before making the final commitment.

No-strings-attached sex is OK.  It seems to me that this one goes off the rails in various ways.  Most notably, I think it demonstrates that NOM is projecting it’s own belief that every person (excepting possibly clergy) should get married onto everyone else.  I don’t believe that every should get married.  What I believe is that LGBT people who want to get married should be allowed to do so.  If LGBT people who prefer not to get married would rather engage in no-strings sex with each other, I say more power to them.  It doesn’t change how I feel about marriage.  NOM fails to understand that the facts that I think I should be allowed to get married and that other people should be allowed to pursue other relationship and sexual choices for themselves are not contradictory.

Also, I’ll note that it’s possible to enjoy no-strings sex while single and still look forward to a more committed relationship in the future.  NOM doesn’t seem to understand that, either.  (Not surprising, as I suspect there’s a lot of ideological overlap between NOM and purity culture, which tends to at least imply that any sex outside of marriage “ruins” you for marriage.)

Couples with kids should stay married except for abuse.  You know what?  I don’t believe in auditing other people’s lives.  I think that individual families need to consider their own circumstances and work out what the best choices for themselves are.  I do not feel qualified nor do I feel I have or deserve the authority to tell them under what circumstances they are allowed to make which choices.  If NOM thinks that this means that I don’t take marriage seriously, then NOM doesn’t know me at all.  I know what my goals are for marriage.  I just realize that (1) those goals may not work for everyone and (2) they ultimately may not work out for me either.  I’m simply open to that possibility.

Marital infidelity is sometimes OK.  Okay, this is a position that I tend not to hold.  I tend to believe that if you’ve made a commitment to be in a monogamous relationship with someone, you should keep that commitment.  If you find you can’t keep that commitment, then you should either seek to renegotiate the relationship or honestly seek to end it.  Yes, I do consider ending a relationship acceptable.  So I will acknowledge that while I see marriage as ideally permanent, I accept the reality that it doesn’t always work out that way in practical terms.  But I don’t see the benefit in denying reality, so I don’t see this as some huge admittance of defeat on my part.

It is OK for 3+ adults to live in a sexual relationship.  I’m totally on board with this one, and unapologetically so.  So no, I don’t see marriage as necessarily exclusive.  I think that’s for the people involved to determine for their own relationship(s).

I just don’t see that as a horrible thing.  Truth be told, I find the idea that Christians — especially Christians who scream about “taking the Bible literally” — being anti-polyamory rather odd, anyway.  The Old Testament is full of men — men deemed Godly by the text and tradition — taking multiple wives (and concubines, no less).  And there are only two explicit prohibitions against polygamy in the Bible, both of which limit the prohibition to specific groups of people.  (That’d be the kings of Israel in t Old Testament and pastors/bishops in the New Testament.)

But setting all that aside, does the fact that I’m unwilling to condemn or criticize people who choose a polyamorous relationship really destroy my own right to enter into a legally recognized monogamous marriage?

Ultimately, it seems to me that NOM’s argument is that they only want to let people into their marriage club if those people are willing to go on policing the choices of others.  I’m not okay with that.

 

When “Christian love” erases matters of justice (and the people affected by them)

A friend on Facebook posted a link to this blog post by Sheri Dacon.  Dacon’s position is that all the hullabaloo over the recent Hobby Lobby decision (and similar “controversies”) isn’t important.  She insists that what is important is love, which is about people:

When it comes to love for other human beings, it’s important to remember the human being part. Love is not a formula that can be defined or summed up in textbook fashion. Love involves people. And people are messed up, flawed and difficult to love. Me and you included.

She further says:

Love has much more to do with how you respond to that homeless woman outside of Hobby Lobby the store as you leave with your purchases. It has more to do with how you treat the people who are different than you, perhaps the ones who live a radically different lifestyle. Love has less to do with judging and much more to do with giving and accepting and welcoming and sympathizing.

You know, this all sounds beautiful.  To a degree, I even agree with her.  I have just one tiny, nagging question though.

What about the people the Hobby Lobby decision is hurting?

What about those who work for Hobby Lobby and may need Plan B, can’t afford it, and now can’t rely on their Hobby Lobby provided insurance plan to cover it?

What about the people who work for other corporations who now may refuse to cover all forms of contraception?

What about the people whose employers may even refuse to give them notice that their insurance plan won’t cover contraception?  What happens to them when they find this out the hard way — because they need it and now have no way to afford it?

What about the LGBT people who may face workplace discrimination by religious organizations seeking government contracts?

These are all people who stand to be adversely affected by the Hobby Lobby ruling and other actions and decisions that have stemmed from that decision.  These are people who Dacon seems either to be unaware of or has chosen to forget about.

That’s the problem with many “Love/People over Issues” approaches.  They forget that issues are also about and impact people.

 

I’m nothing like “the left” Jospeh Farah describes.

And I doubt anyone else is, either.  And yet, he goes to great length to speak authoritatively about what “the left” is like.

So, what does Farah think I’m like?

The left hates religion. It hates God.

Except I don’t.  I actually love religion.  In fact, I’m a religious follower myself.  But, you see, Farah isn’t talking about any or all religion, he’s talking about Christianity.  To him, none of those other religions matter or exist.

More specifically, Joseph Farah doesn’t even mean all expression of Christianity, either.  No, to him, “religion” doesn’t just mean “Christianity,” but “Christianity that looks exactly like i think Christianity should look like.”  All those Christians that disagree with his views?  They don’t exist or matter, either.

But here’s the thing, even if we redefine “religion” to mean “the kind of Christianity that Joseph Farah appreciates,” his claim that I hate it is simply untrue.  I don’t hate his religion.  I don’t believe in it, that’s for sure.  I think it’s worthy of deep and lengthy criticism for a number of reasons.  But that is not the same as hatred.  Farah’s choice to conflate my disbelief and criticism as hatred makes any honest communication impossible.

His claim that I (and all progressives) “hate God” is troublesome for the same reason.

It doesn’t recognize any behavior as sinful, with the possible exception of voting Republican.

I will admit that “sinful” and “sin” are not parts of my vocabulary.  However, that does not mean that I don’t have ethical standards of any sort.  Indeed, there are several things that I find highly unethical.  Here’s a short list:

  1. Using force, deception, or manipulation to get someone to do something they do not wish to do.
  2. Allowing systemic oppression to continue unchallenged.
  3. Treating others as being less deserving of dignity than oneself.

Farah acts as if the only ethical standards that matter is who someone is or isn’t having sex with.  The fact that he completely ignores all of my other ethical standards is quite telling.  Again, it shows a level of dishonesty on his part.

The rest of Farah’s article is equally garbage, but the above points serve to demonstrate one clear fact:  Farah is not interested in giving people like me an honest hearing or encouraging his readers to do so.  He is much more interested in painting us as some sort of monolithic force that matches his straw liberals.

Quite a curious position for someone who goes on to complain about “the left’ vilifying people like himself, don’t you think?

 

(Disjointed) musings on Jennfier Roback Morse’s recent interview

[Content Note:  hostility to agency]

I’m reading the recent interview with Jennifer Roback Morse in the National Catholic register and I just have to shake my head.

Let’s go over some of the more…interesting statements.

When asked about the injuries caused by the sexual revolution:

Contraception is an expected part of a woman’s career path. So that means the whole system is built around women treating their bodies as if they were men’s bodies.

So wait a second, using contraception and terminating an unwanted pregnancy amounts to “women treating their bodies as if they were men’s bodies”?  So the only thing that makes women’s bodies different from men’s bodies is that the former can be used as a baby-incubator?  I find Morse’s depiction of womanhood and women’s bodies unfortunate and horribly dismal.

In defending her insistence that the sexual revolution is a totalitarian movement:

So the government has to step in and control people’s behavior and even people’s thoughts about what’s possible, desirable and realistic. The HHS mandate is just one example of the government stifling dissent by essentially saying: “This society will be built around contraception, and there will be no dissent from that.” That’s one example of totalitarianism coming straight from the government and literally shutting down people who disagree.

Here’s the thing:  No one is being forced to use contraception.  The government is saying all people should be allowed and able to use contraception if they so choose.  That’s a signifcant difference from the strawman that Morse is erecting here.  Indeed, it is Morse and those like who are insisting that those who disagree with their position should be forced to comply with their view of the world.

while listing the “victims” of the sexual revolution:

Consider, for example, people who’d like to stay married but their spouse wants a divorce, so that’s the end of it. The government takes sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.

Would she actually prefer that the government coerce someone to remain with a spouse or partner they do not love and do not wish to be around anymore?  Talk about totalitarianism.

But wait, it gets better:

We all know somebody in this category — the jilted wife or the husband who’s kicked out of the family because his wife didn’t want to be bothered with him anymore, and now the courts are making him pay child support for kids he doesn’t see.

Reread that last clause a few times.  Here we have Jennifer Roback Morse — who spends a great deal of time talking about the importance of marriage and families to care for children — now talking about men being “forced” to help support the children he helped bring into this world.  Apparently, men should only be held responsible for the children they bring into the world if “they’re allowed to see them”?  Doesn’t sound like a very “pro-children” position to me.

On “heartbroken career women”:

These women are also all around us, but we simply don’t see them. [Culture says] the entry fee into the professions for women is that you chemically neuter yourself during your peak childbearing years in your 20s — and if you have an “accident,” you get an abortion.

Exactly what “culture” tells women that the price for them having a career is not having children?  There are organizations that advance and push for legislation to protect pregnant women in the workplace.  You know who doesn’t support that legislation?  The so-called “pro-life” crowd.  People who insist that for women, having a career and a family are incompatible.  In short, people like Jennifer Roback Morse.  So the fact that she an those like her push this “career or family” dichotomy, then have the audacity to feign pity for those women who feel like they’re stuck with that dichotomy is contemptible.

On the men and women who are “victimized” by the sexual revolution by “the lack of suitable mates”:

Absolutely. And I hear it from men, too [about not finding suitable wives]. Our whole culture is so sexualized it’s hard to find a suitable mate. Many young people have told me they wish the Church would do more to facilitate young adults meeting each other in a faith environment, where people won’t always be coming onto you.

I don’t know, maybe part of the problem here is that people are looking at other people as “potential mates” rather than people to get to know.  This whole thing makes finding a mate sound like a mission that erases real interpersonal relationships.  That’s something Morse listed as a problem earlier in the interview.

(h/t Right Wing Watch)

When Anti-Gay Rhetoric Erases Victims

[Content Note:  Child Sexual Abuse, Homophobia]

As he is often wont to do, Bryan Fischer had some horrible things to say about gay people, this time in the context of how he’s greatly upset over the legislature’s most recent consideration of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.  In his diatribe, Fischer refers to homosexuality as sexual deviancy, and compares it — shocker, I know — to pedophilia.  He even refers to ENDA as “The Jerry Sandusky Pedophile Protection Act.”

People have covered how laughably offensive it is to compare gay people to pedophiles and other sexual predators.  The idea that any sex between consenting adults is the moral equivalent of non-consensual sex of any kind demonstrates a complete failure to appreciate the importance of consent when it comes to sex, and this is a failure that I’ve noted before.  Today, however, I’d like to draw attention to how this kind of rhetoric, as evidenced by Fischer’s statements, also erases victims of sexual abuse and assault and trivializes their experience.

Note that Fischer mentions that Sandusky was imprisoned for “engaging in sexual deviancy.”  That’s not an entirely accurate statement.  Sandusky was imprisoned for raping and otherwise sexually abuses young boys.  Sandusky’s crimes were not “deviating from some norm,” but violating other human beings, human beings he had some measure of power over due to his work with them.  Reframing his crimes as “sexual deviancy” ignores and erases the fact that other people were harmed by his actions.  They become the easily forgotten pawns in Fischer’s rhetorical campaign against LGBT people.

That’s just not right.

I’m not down with media that polices other people’s sexual choices

[Content Note:  Sex, Policing others’ sexual choices, Homophobia]

While perusing Twitter today, I ran across a link to a Queerty story (linked article includes NSFW image) about a young man who plans on having anal sex for the first time as performance art.  The article describes the planned event thus:

The sweeping act of teenage narcissism deflowering will be tittled “Art School Stole My Virginity” and will feature 19-year-old Pettet and his friend engaging in safe sex until completion.  Afterwards, they will ask the audience what they thought of the performance.  Because who doesn’t like to be critiqued after sex?

No PolicingThat quote is verbatim.  I did nothing to edit it.  The phrase “sweeping act of teenage narcissism” is included in the original article, complete with strikeout font.  Because apparently, the Graham Gremore, the writer, couldn’t help but fill the entire article with signs of his contempt for Pettet’s choices.

And that what my blog post is about.  I have nothing to say about Pettet’s plans, other than to wish him the best and hope that he finds the whole thing rewarding, however he chooses to evaluate what would make the experience rewarding to thim.  Because in the end, I’m pro-choice and fully embrace Pettet’s agency.

It becomes pretty obvious that the writer for Gremore would rather condemn and ridicule Pettet’s choice.  Fankly, I’m not okay with that.  I think this is just more evidence that the LGBT community — or at least certain segments of it — is still all too willing to police the sexuality and sexual choices of others.

Of course, a lot of this plays into the attempt to gain LGBT approval through mainstreaming.  “Oh, we’re not all like those promiscuous [a word which, in my experience, is highly subjective and simply means “has had more sex than the speaker personally approves of”] gay men in bath houses.”  It’s true, of course.  But I’m deeply troubled by the fact that some people are willing to throw gay men who are like that under the bus for the sake of their own increased freedom.  (And to make matters worse, it’s not a very effective strategy.)

I am pro-choice and I believe that everyone’s sexual choices should be respected.  People should be allowed to have as much or as little sex as they want, with who they want (and only with who they want), how they want, and for whatever reason they want (be it love, the need to get off, or performance art).  To me, this idea is central to the equality and freedom of sexual minorities.

And I would like a site like Queerty to be a bit more onboard with and sensitive to that notion by telling Mr. Gremore and anyone else like him to keep their contempt for others sexual choices out of their writing.

Some days, you just can’t win

[Content Note:  Homophobia]

Today, I ran across this Right Wing Watch post:

American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios this week once again connected the gay community to child abuse, this time telling Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality that the fact gay people want to serve as Scoutmasters or Big Brothers or Big Sisters is “big proof” they are pedophiles.

As I noted on Facebook:

This is what gets me. Some anti-gays will scream “gay people don’t have children, so they contribute nothing to society!” [Libby Anne did a post on this phenomenon yesterday.] Yet, when some LGBT people choose to get involved in programs where they can mentor and otherwise help youth (often at-risk youth), they turn around and scream “Oh look, they want to be around kids! They must be pedophiles!”

Some days, you just can’t win.

 

The latest dishonesty of Maggie Gallagher

[Content Note:  Homophobia, Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, Infertility]

This morning, Maggie Gallagher used her column at the National Review to chime in on the law New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently signed that prohibits licensed therapists from offering “conversion therapy” to minors.  Of course, Maggie is dead set opposed to the new law and considers this the latest example of Christian persecution and infringement on (Christian) religious liberties.

Of course, in decrying this law, she fails to exercise her religious liberty to be honest, something that I’m fairly certain is supposed to be pretty central to the Christian faith.  She starts out by decrying a press release that someone wrongly slapped her name on it, offering the following criticism:

I dislike using language that portrays gay people as “homosexuals” who are “tormented” by same-sex desires.

Um, since when?  Let’s go to Gallagher’s own words:

Please note, this is different from saying that homosexuals are mentally ill. In a simple biological framework, abstracted from all religion and morality, homosexuality is like infertility. It is a sexual disability, preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species.

While Maggie can technically argue that she’s not saying gay people are mentally ill the above statement, I’m not sure that calling them “disabled” is any better.  And no, my being gay is not the same as my being infertile (and I am deeply sympathetic and sorry to anyone who is infertile and hurt by Gallagher’s choice to appropriate what may be a painful reality for them).  To the best of my knowledge, I am perfectly capable of sexually reproducing, either by having sex with a fertile woman or via sperm donation.  My being gay simply means I am not inclined to engage in sexual or romantic relations with women.  There’s a whole world of difference between the two things she’s comparison and the comparison strikes me as insulting and demeaning to everyone caught by it.

So yeah, for her to say that she “dislikes” it when gay people are portrayed as “homosexuals” who are “tormented” by their desires when she has much said things just as horrible?  Completely dishonest.

Of course, her continuing statement in today’s column suggests she’s not really opposed to saying that gay men (and note how she’s now going to erase all the lesbians in addition to the bisexuals she’s already been erasing) are “tormented” by their sexual desires so much as she’d in support of portraying all men as so tormented:

Among other things, as far as I can see for most men, of whatever orientation or state in life, being tormented by sexual desire is pretty much the human condition for long stretches of life, rather than an unbearable cause for condescending pity.

I don’t know what men Gallagher is hanging out with.  I certainly don’t feel tormented by my sexual desires.  I don’t get the impression that most of the men — regardless of sexual orientation — I know feel particularly tormented, either.

Of the bill itself, Gallagher makes the following claim:

Governor Christie just endorsed a law that thus excludes many gay teens who wish to live in accordance with Bible-based values from the circle of care; he has outright banned chastity as a goal of counseling.

Now having looked at the text of the bill, I admit that it’s a bit confusing, and it’s not immediately clear to me what qualifies as “attempts to change behavior” as mentioned in the bill.  However, I will note what Dr. Warren Throckmorton said back in May concerning the bill and the Sexual Identiy Therapy Framework he promotes:

I believe SITF would be safe if this bill passes. I have discussed this issue with some of the bill proponents and they agree. In any case, since we do not attempt to change orientation, we are not doing anything covered by the bill. I do not attempt to reduce attractions since I don’t think it is possible in any psychological manner. I think people succeed in handling their attractions in such a way as to better comport with their beliefs. Avoiding situations and practicing religious disciplines may help give a sense that attractions are being reduced but I don’t think this is what the NJ bill is aiming at. If ever it is, I will be more vocal in opposition.

Note that Throckmorton actually talked to the bill’s proponents about his questions regarding the law and SITF, which does consider helping a client remain celibate a valid course if the client decides it’s the best choice for hir life.  I’m inclined to take his interpretation of the law and how it will be applied compared over Gallagher’s who admits that she hadn’t even looked into the law before yesterday.  I sincerely doubt she contacted any of the bill’s backers for clarification.

Acknowledgements:

  • I found out about Maggie’s commentary on the bill via The New Civil Rights Movement.
  • gleaned the link to the bill’s text from Dr. Throckmorton’s blog.
  • I found the link to Gallagher’s quote comparing homosexuality to infertility through GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project page for her.

 

A few brief words.

Colorful ExplosionsI haven’t posted anything since this past weekend.  That’s because I’ve been a bit busy and a bit tired.  I’ve been sleeping through most of the evenings.  I’m hoping to feel rested again soon.  of course, staying up last night to keep tabs on Wendy Davis’s incredible filibuster efforts and the support she received from the feminist army through to the end didn’t help that.  But all the same, it was worth it.  I went to bed after they GOP senators tried to sneak in a vote after midnight and started making the claim that the vote happened first.  I was glad to see that their last ditch attempt at fraud failed.  Just one question:  What do we as nation have to do to make sure they never try such a thing again?

Naturally, I’m very excited to learn that the Supreme Court has struck down DOMA.  I’m pleased that they also sent those who were trying to get Proposition 8 reinstated packing, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t tackle the constitutionality question and destroy all such discriminatory marriage laws and state amendments for good.

Finally, I’m concerned about the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the Voting Rights Act.  While I’m certainly glad that we’re that much closer to marriage equality and I’m glad women get to maintain control over their bodies, I can’t forget those who will be disenfranchised by states who now can do what they can to screw over non-white voters because no one is looking.

I hope to be back soon with something a bit more insightful to offer.  In the meantime, go read the wonderful links of what other people are saying.