I picked this up at Davis's Gay Pride Day. It was made by some friends of mine who head up a committee of which I am a member, which is dedicated to investigating the relationship between the city and the Boy Scouts.
I found this in the Paulist Center in Boston. It says:
God, You are the Creator and Lover of all. You wish us to live in solidarity with each other and to rejoice in our diversity. We pray that Your lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight children may experience justice, enjoy peace and spread Your love throughout the world. We pray in the name of Jesus, who welcomed all to his circle of friends. Amen.
PFLAG National Web Site
I am a theatre critic
OK...so it's a new "career", but if you're interested in reading my reviews, go here
WHAT I'M READING
When Peggy was here, we listened to a lot of John Denver music (which I don't think Steve has forgiven me for). I was so intrigued by so many of his lyrics that I wanted to read the story behind them, so borrowed the book from her.
of Sand and Fog
Lynn left this book for me; I'd just seen a discussion on Oprah about it and was anxious to read it.
That's it for today!
VIEW FROM THE SOAP BOX
1 February 2001
It?s time for me to get on a soapbox.
I?m on a couple of mailing lists, through PFLAG, where I receive several newspaper articles a day with information pertinent to the gay community. Most people--even a lot of gay people--go through life from day to day without ever thinking about the rights of gay people (or any other minority for that matter). But when you read about it every single day, from newspapers all over the world, the picture becomes very ugly and overwhelming.
The issue isn?t morality. Everybody has their own standards of morality. The bulk of my gay friends are living morally upstanding lives, either celibate or in committed relationships. Some are a bit more sexually "adventuresome," but the same can be said of many of my straight friends. Some are either celibate or in committed (married or unmarried) relationships, some are more free thinking, have no scruples about engaging in sexual activity with multiple partners.
I personally feel that this is a matter for the individual, gay or straight, to come to peace with in his/her own soul and if the person believes in God, between him/her and God. It is not my place to make moral decisions for anyone. You can argue the Bible up the wazoo and never come to an agreement--your interpretation and your version and your translation of the Bible may differ from mine, and both may differ from the Koran or the book of Morman or any other religious tome which people choose to use as a guide for their moral decisions. Your church may disagree with my church. This atmosphere of religious confusion should be no basis for making decisions about the legal rights for anyone.
What is my place is to work for equal rights and equal respect for everybody. I saw a wonderful poster not too long ago. It said something about "when some people?s rights are limited, all people?s rights are threatened."
Gay people do not have equal rights. And that threatens all people?s rights. If we can decide today that gay people cannot have the same rights that other tax-paying citizens have, what?s to prevent someone at some point from deciding that fat people should have their rights curtailed? Or left handed people? Or Irish people? Or Black people? Or songwriters? (especially songwriters :))
Let me examine just some of the news items that have come across my computer screen in the past week. Some concern rights, some concern respect. All are unequal.
My old nemesis, the Boy Scouts of America, has reared its ugly head again. They have expelled several troops in the Oak Park, IL area from the parent organization because these troops refuse to follow the rule about discrimination against gay boys and leaders.
The BSA has won the right to discriminate against American children and adults in its attempt to instill values into the minds of young boys it finds acceptable for membership. These troops which declare the discrimination is wrong are being ejected.
At the same time, a 34 year old man in Ft. Lauderdale was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout and two weeks later had it revoked when it was discovered he was gay.
Ironically this comes within days of an article I read in the newspaper about a married school teacher arrested for sexually molesting several boys in his care over the past year. This pedophile would qualify as a Boy Scout leader (or an Eagle Scout)--as would the Catholic priest spirited off to some retreat to prevent his ugly secret from being made public--but the openly gay man who has no interest in children is morally unfit to guide boys. I?m sorry. You?ll just never convince me that this is right, or even healthy for our children.
Some day it is my fervent hope that the BSA will learn the difference between "sexual orientation" and "pedophilia." Gay people are not, by default, attracted to children, and straight people are not, by default NOT attracted to children. Pedophilia is a mental illness, which has no connection to any specific sexual orientation. It is found in both straights and gays alike (statistically more often in straights). Simply banning membership or leadership to gay men or boys does not guarantee that the Scouts are free from the attack of a pedophile. All it does is teach children that some people are more acceptable than other people because of how they are born. And that is not right.
(I remember that there was a day when I would have been considered unfit to mix with "normal" people because I am left handed.)
A bill has been introduced in Hawaii to give gay couples the same legal rights as married couples. A similar bill, passed in Vermont, is under attack in that state. People cry "special rights for sinners!" but it is nothing of the kind. There are gay couples who have made a life commitment to each other. They live unobtrusive lives, they live in a monogamous relationship. They live with each other for far longer than a lot of heterosexual couples. And yet they are denied over 1,000 "special rights" which are given to heterosexual couples simply because they have said "I do." Darva Conger had every single one of those rights the second she married Rick Whatshisname on national television, while my friends who have been in committed relationships for 20, 30, 40 and sometimes even 50 years have none of them.
Equal rights has nothing to do with religion. Churches will not be forced to perform gay marriages. It simply means gay tax-paying couples will have the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.
Because my gay friends are not allowed equal rights to married couples, it is possible that they can be denied hospital visitation should the partner become ill, for example. A woman I know has lived with her partner for over 25 years, yet when the partner was rushed into the emergency room, my friend had to lie and say she was her sister, or she would have been denied access, which would have been restricted to family members only.
My friend Mike just lost his partner of many years. He is in the process of changing the utilities in the house where they have lived together for many years, from Bill?s name to his name. Even though they were partners, the utility company is requiring a security deposit because of the name change.
A man I met recently lost his partner of 50 years. They had built a home together, built a house together, collected art for 50 years, yet when the partner died, the house was reassessed at such a high rate that the surviving partner had to sell their home, sell their art collection, and now lives in a small apartment. Had they been allowed the same rights as a married couple, the jointly-owned home would simply have passed to the survivor and that would have been the end of it.
The list goes on and on and on, but all gay couples want is the same rights that married couples enjoy.
Another article talks about the problems encountered by couples who live in different countries. In this article, a man from the United States has fallen in love with a man from Japan. But neither country will permit them to be recognized as a couple and so they are faced with the painful realization that they are a couple without a country and they must live apart. I can?t even begin imagine the heartbreak of knowing that the person you love can?t be with you only because your two governments refuse to acknowledge that you love each other and wish to make a life together.
A man and a woman would have no such problems. I think of our Brasilian daughter, Sonia, who recently got her citizenship, after 15 years of living in this country. I think of how much in love she and Charlie still are and what a good life they have made together. And my heart hurts for the American man and his Japanese lover, knowing that they can never experience that happiness, no matter how much they want it.
A newspaper in the central valley of California has refused to print a notification of a meeting of PFLAG, Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, an organization dedicated to helping parents and children deal with orientation issues, to promoting safe schools for all, and to advocacy for legal equality for gays. The newpaper sees the word "gay" and decides that the meeting notice is not fit for a family newspaper. Yet this same area has a rising rate of hate crimes against gays, but that apparently is OK. Gays are apparently not deserving of the equal right to live without fear of bodily harm.
A lesbian couple in Utah decided to become parents. One of the women was artificially inseminated and the other woman was permitted to adopt the child so that in the case of the death of the first woman, the other would already be the legal parent and could continue to parent the child she has helped to raise since birth. However, following this adoption, Utah decided to enact a law forbidding such adoptions. Now it is possible for couples to give birth to a child but to have the non-biological parent have no legal rights whatsoever to that child, no matter how many years she may have helped raise the child. Likewise, in the case of adoption, only one of a gay couple can be the legal adoptive parent, the other is not permitted to have any legal rights. When a married couple adopt, both parents become the legal parent; when the straight couple choose to conceive artificially, at the birth of the child both are the parents of record. Gay parents do not have equal rights under the law.
The list goes on and on and on. It sometimes seems like I have a warped sense of the extent of this because I read so much about it, but it is rather that people who do not have access to this flood of newspaper articles are living in a world that is unaware that human beings are being marginalized for being "different," that their legal rights are denied because they are "different," and that they are deemed unworthy of respect because they are "different."
I may not like it that my friend the school marm is a dominatrix who is traveling around the country with a married man, spending weekends at B&Bs which advertise leather and whips and things like that. But when she comes home and goes into the classroom, she is a much honored teacher, who is well respected in her field. What she does for fun has no impact on how she interacts with the rest of the world, nor should it.
By the same token, what my gay friends do in the privacy of their own home should have no impact on their right to respect for being human beings, to their legal rights as tax-paying citizens, or to their right to live without fear of being harmed because of their sexual orientation.
Gay couples should be allowed to live together, no matter what their citizenship, assuming they have made a commitment to each other.
Gay parents should be allowed to be parents without fear that one of them will be shut out of their child?s life.
Gay kids should be able to find out where they can go to get advice on how to help their parents understand why they are "different."
There are so many serious problems in the world. We are spending entirely too much time and energy on something which should be the business only of the individuals involved, and not the government, the church, or any other entity.
Created 1/31/01 by Bev Sykes