Exclusion For Religious Schools Struck From Iowa Gay Bully Bill

Do they not realize, when they say these things, how bad it sounds? Like it’s your religion to beat up gay people?

(Des Moines, Iowa) The Iowa Senate has passed legislation aimed at curbing bullying of LGBT students and other minority groups in schools.
Language in the House version that passed lack week but which excluded religious schools was removed in the Senate. The bill now returns to the House. Democrats control both houses in the legislature and House leadership has agreed to pass the Senate version.
The issue of excluding religious schools prompted heated debate in the Senate with Republicans pressing to have the House version passed without amendment.
“There is the potential for a chilling effect on the teaching of religious doctrine through the filing of lawsuits, because of the way the bill is worded,” warned Sen. Jeff Angelo (R).
“You people have consistently raised these arguments that just don’t hold up,” shot back Sen. Mike Connolly (D) adding that in the 29 states that have passed similar anti-bullying legislation there have been few lawsuits.
Connolly reminded Republicans that the state and federal constitutions already grant private schools the right to teach religious doctrine and that the bully law would not interfere with statements of faith.

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SJR-7 Will Eliminate Purdue’s Health Care Benefits

As Gary Welsh rightly points out in a must-read article on SJR-7 and Purdue University’s health care benefits, the infamous second paragraph of the proposed amendment will indeed eliminate health care benefits for unmarried partners that are currently used by 31 employees of the university.
The question is raised in the Lafayette Journal and Courier – where the university employees express concern, and are given completely false assurances by the SJR-7 author Brandt Hershman, and by “constitutional scholar” Jim Bopp that their benefits won’t be affected.
Trouble is, people like Bopp gave the same false assurances to Michigan state employees before the passage of a bill with the same sort of ambiguous paragraph in that state. And those unsuspecting people recently had their benefits strip from them by the courts.

Continue ReadingSJR-7 Will Eliminate Purdue’s Health Care Benefits

IYG Wishlist

From their mission statement:

Indiana Youth Group provides a safe place, a confidential environment, youth development programs and support services which foster personal strength and wellness among self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. IYG advocates on their behalf in schools, on the streets, and in the community. IYG builds friendships and explores individualism while promoting a peaceful community, based on equality, acceptance and diversity.

I volunteered with IYG years ago, and my little sister did for a college internship also. I dropped out because I got very busy at work (I was very poor and doing lots of overtime) and there were lots of adult mentors in the program already.
IYG has a wishlist of items they want to have donated to use at their center. I really wish I’d seen the list earlier, because we’ve given lots of stuff to goodwill in the past few months that they need.
Fortunately, we have a ton more stuff to give away that is on the list, so we’re going to start gathering stuff up.

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National Coming Out Day

Okay, I’ve been officially called out by one of my gay friends for being flip about National Coming Out Day, so I’ll ‘straighten’ my act out and give the day the attention it deserves.

Nineteen years ago on October 11, 1987, I was a student at Ball State University. I had been out of the closet since the previous year, but I didn’t have a huge amount of exposure to the gay community. The on-campus gay group was rather small, and I couldn’t get into bars yet, and I knew very little about gay culture.

The Thursday night before this day, I had been hanging out drinking with the small handful of gay people I did know: Gary Rice, Scott McClintic, Kally Love, and Kathy _____ (who’s last name I don’t quite remember.) It was about 1 in the morning, and someone brought up this “March on Washington” happening this weekend. And we all looked at each other, and someone said “We should go!” and the idea caught fire. Kathy called up some friends she knew in Maryland (in the middle of the night, of course), and asked if we could crash, and they said, “of course!”

So we went home, slept a couple of hours, threw some clothes in bags, and piled into Scott’s red Camaro. (Yeah, that’s five people in a Camaro, if you’re counting. I sat in the middle of the backseat, on the hump. I was really skinny back then.) After about twelve hours of singing, drinking and flashing pro-gay hand-drawn signs at other people on the road also driving to the March, we arrived in Maryland at Kathy’s friends apartment to sleep.

The next morning, Saturday, we drove to a metro parking lot, parked the Camaro, and took the Metro line to Dupont Circle (which is a very gay-friendly, progressive area of town with lots of gay businesses, like boystown in Chicago, or Greenwich Village in NY) to “find the gay people”. We were all from midwestern small-towns, and as we started to realize how many people riding the Metro with us were gay, we started getting more excited. I’m not sure I can adequately describe the feeling of being empowered/alive you feel as a minority when you find yourself in a group where there are more of “us” than there are of “them” — especially when you’re gay, because you typically don’t grow up with other gay people around you to temper the hostility directed at you, and you often feel very alone.
And then we got to the Dupont Circle Metro station. As we rode the escalator steps up from the dark station into the daylight, with the sounds of lots and lots of people overhead — the lyrics to a Wizard of Oz song popped into my mind:

You’re out of the woods, You’re out of the dark, You’re out of the night.
Step into the sun, Step into the light.
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the Face of the Earth or the sky.
Hold onto your breath, Hold onto your heart, Hold onto your hope.
March up to the gate and bid it open

There were people hanging out at the top of the stairs with signs — “Welcome Gay People!” and the circle was absolutely packed with people, and rainbows, rainbows, everywhere. And then there was a low rumbling sound, that got louder, as hundreds of motorcycles roared past — the Dykes on Bikes were driving through. I, of course, had never heard of the group, so I had no idea what to expect, or what to think of hundreds of butch women in leather on motorcycles, with femme blonde women in leather bikinis riding on the back of their bikes. I was thunderstruck.

That’s when I first realized how very different my life was going to be.

National Coming Out Day
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The purser wants you to stop that

New Yorker article on a gay couple who were ordered to stop kissing on an airplane:

Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,” she said.
“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ ” Varnier recalled the other day.
“The touching and the kissing,” the stewardess said, before walking away.
Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. “He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We’d kiss—not kiss kiss, just mwah,” Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound.
In the row behind them were Leisner and Jackson. “They were like two lovebirds,” said Leisner, who is a classical guitarist. Frobes-Cross, a Columbia grad student who was sitting across the aisle, had overheard the stewardess’s decree, too. “First thing I catch is ‘You have to stop touching each other,’ ” he said. “And I’m, like, Whoa, that’s really weird.”

After discussing the issue further with the crew, the pilot of the plane told them that they needed to shut up or he would divert the plane. The airline officials also refused to speak to the when the plane landed.
The airline tried to claim that the policy was in place for all couples, but when people called in later to ask, they admitted that straight couples are not prohibited from kissing each other on the plane.
I would so be in trouble for this, because Stephanie and I hold hands and kiss all the time.

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A sure-fire way to piss me off on a Tuesday

And article I discovered via Shakespeare’s Sister:
Gay Stereotypes: Are They True?
Are Gays More Like Straight Men Than We Think?
Yes, John Stossel is writing about gay stereotypes. I don’t need to go on do I? ‘Cause — John Stossel?!
I’m going to stop here before I get too pissed off by the whole thing and end up having a stroke or something. Fucking Stossel.

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Rosie O’Donnell and Christian Terror Cells in the US

The American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Faith and Action and World Net Daily are all busy bashing Rosie O’Donnell for saying “Radical Christians are no different than murderous radical Muslims.”

God damn it. What she said is way tamer than what I said in the recent past with a big fat list of armed, dangerous Christian Terror Cells in the United States.

Why the heck aren’t all these people crying out against me?!! Huh??! I’m doing far more than my share to piss of the religious right, and I’m just not getting any credit. Harrrumph.

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Video of some of the figure skating from GGVII

Jay and Bradley did an interpretive pairs program of Brokeback Mountain that was really amazing:
Edward Van Campen did a very moving tribute to his brother, who died of AIDS. His performance included his brother’s AIDS quilt, which he then presented to the NAMES Project.
We discussed creating video of Stephanie’s programs, but we decided against it because they had professional video services there. I’m hoping to track down a YouTube video of the finale of the Skating – a really moving production number tribute to Christina Aguliera’s “Beautiful.”

Continue ReadingVideo of some of the figure skating from GGVII