ISIS Anti-Gay Murder

Let’s Not Repeat History with ISIS

I am far from a hawk regarding military intervention overseas, but when it comes to ISIS I say the world needs to stand up and throw everything is has to militarily blow the bastards out of existence.

History is replete with conquering armies spreading across the globe while innocent blood is shed and cultures are destroyed. ISIS is a plague lead by falsehoods and lies. They represent no true religion or state, and are motivated only by hate towards others, not themselves. The men are pigs and the women who support them are equally barbaric.

In January ISIS threw a man off a building in al Abyad, Syria, and when he survived the fall he was stoned to death by the crowd because the man was gay.

In its latest video, the militant group showed the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

As concerns grow that ISIS is plotting to use its foreign militants to infiltrate Europe and conduct random attacks, an ISIS-linked Twitter account has vowed they will conquer Rome, install Sharia law and throw homosexuals off the top of the “leaning tower of pizza.”

“#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome, we will conquer & establish the justice of #shariah,” the ISIS supporter posted using the Twitter handle @abu_britani2. “We will use to the leaning tower of pizza [sic] to throw off homosexual.”

“We_Are_Coming_O_Rome, we are coming with slaughter,” @abu_britani2 continued in another tweet.

With ISIS establishing strongholds in North Africa, they are now only a few hundred miles away from the European coastline separated by the Mediterranean, which has been called the “soft-underbelly equivalent to the U.S.-Mexican border.”

Last year 150,000 immigrants attempted to cross from North Africa to Italy. ISIS has recruited over 20,000 foreign fighters, and as such the group’s foreign operatives will have an easier task of infiltrating European nations. All they need to do is follow the daily wave of people and ISIS is there prepared to recruit and attack.

Why am I, an LGBTQ rights advocate, writing about ISIS? Because to me it needs to matter to all good people throughout the world. ISIS is seriously dedicated to the destruction of humanity, and they are far worse than Al-Qaeda ever dreamed of being.

Just this week a young Delaware man was arrested by the FBI, who had been radicalized by ISIS and was preparing to travel to join their ranks. He is just one of what will be many seeking to join the false jihad.

So I write not to scare you about ISIS or warn you of an impending attack, but to raise your awareness of both the global threat and local concern this radical terrorist group has become. Am I worried you might ask, well yes I am. I’m more concerned about a radicalized American citizen doing us harm and disrupting our lives and communities now than I was after 9/11.

Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime and spent seven years in a concentration camp said on many occasions, post-war, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We cannot be complicit in the silence as during the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people. Our community needs to be just as vocal on this issue . . . before they come for us and there is no one left to speak for us.

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The Pope Greets us

To the pleasure of many LGBTQ Catholic leaders this has been a busy three weeks for Pope Francis when it comes to the LGBTQ community starting on January 24 when he met privately with a transgender Spaniard at the Vatican.

“I think that his meeting with the transgender man was a gesture not only of pastoral care, but of genuine interest in learning about the transgender experience from a firsthand source,” Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, told National Catholic Reporter.

Said New Ways Ministry’s co-founder Sr. Jeannine Gramick, “Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots, found expression in Pope Francis’ embrace of the transgender Spaniard.”

“This was a worldwide hug that has reverberated to transgender people across the globe,” she told NCR, referring to reports that Francis hugged Diego Neria Lejarraga, a 48-year-old transgender man, when the two met at the Vatican.

Lejarrega, a practicing Catholic, said local clergy had rebuffed him and said one parish priest had called him “the devil’s daughter.” It was then Lejarraga reportedly wrote to Francis, hoping he could explain to the Pope transgender issues and even possibly receive a papal blessing.

He was surprised when Francis invited him to come to the Vatican for a personal meeting and offered to pay for it.

Lejarraga reportedly attended the meeting with his fiancée. During the meeting, Lejarraga asked Francis if, after his gender reassignment, there was “a place somewhere in the house of God for him.” He told the Spanish daily Hoy Francis responded by embracing him.

DeBernardo said while he was pleased with the development, he was also cautious.

“At this time, I wouldn’t use the word ‘acceptance’ to describe the Vatican’s stance toward the transgender community. I think ‘dialogue’ would be a better word,” he said.

“The Vatican’s reluctance to verify the meeting is another indication of why I don’t think their attitude can yet be called ‘acceptance,’ ” DeBernardo said.

But in a just released book published in Italy, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, called on Christians to safeguard God’s order of creation, where Francis reportedly compared transgender people to nuclear weapons, saying both do not ‘recognize the order of creation.’

The Holy Father has claimed that people who “manipulate” their bodies are similar to “Herods” that “destroy, that plot designs of death that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation.”

“Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,” he writes.

“Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.”

“With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,” the Pope adds.

“The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.”

“God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth,” Francis writes. “The design of the Creator is written in nature.”

“If we fail in this responsibility, if we do not take care of our brothers and of all creation, destruction advances,’ he added.

But this book was written before Francis met with Lejarraga and I wonder if that experience changed Francis’ heart. Would he say the same thing of a person born with a cleft lip or another disfigurement that we know can be cured with surgery? I believe the Pope needs to reconsider his Ill thought out words.

Then on February 18, at the Wednesday Papal audience, the Vatican welcomed a group of LGBTQ pilgrims from New Ways Ministry with VIP seating with Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the “prefect of the papal household.” The ministry told AP that the last two popes had refused requests for VIP seats for its members. Under Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy, the New Ways Ministry co-founders were forbidden from ministering to gay Catholics.

“Pope Francis gives me hope,” Sister Jeannine Gramick, one of the New Ways Ministry co-founders, told AP. “To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church.”

I agree with Sister Gramick, the Pope has a new openness to members of our community. Despite the missteps of the current Pope, who has made so many positive advances to the LGBTQ community, unlike his predecessors who shunned and condemned us, he is at least reaching out to us.

As LGBTQ Catholics we should be cautiously joyous that the Church after more than 2000 years is not damning us to hell but embracing us where we are. For non-Catholics this should bring good news that the massive ship that is the church is slowing turning around, looking for its lost sheep and in the process affecting LGBTQ peoples worldwide.

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Conversion Therapy is a Fraud Court Says

In the past I’ve written about the ills of conversion therapy and the efforts of progressive states to ban its use for children under 18 years of age. Well, good news concerning the legitimacy of the claims of proponents of such therapy that describe homosexuality as a curable mental disorder has come from a judge’s ruling in New Jersey. In a word, gay conversion therapy claims are a “fraud.”

The significance of this cannot go unnoticed. If the opponents of “gay” conversion therapy are successful in their suit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, this case could set a precedent on the basis of consumer fraud and be a death knell for such clinics across the country.

According to CBS News, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso Jr. ruled Tuesday in the case involving the Jersey City-based JONAH and said that those claims are illegal based on the state’s Consumer Fraud Act. Bariso also said it’s fraudulent to offer “success statistics” because “there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics.”

The men alleged that JONAH’s methods don’t work. The four men said they went through the therapy and were forced to do activities including being made to strip naked while standing in a circle with other boys, and be naked with their fathers at bathhouses.

Is this “conversion therapy” or “perversion therapy?”

On its website, JONAH describes itself as a non-profit organization that “works with those struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions.”

JONAH attorney Charles LiMandri said the group’s use of the word “disorder” was based on their interpretation of Jewish law and not intended to describe homosexuality as a psychological disorder. He said JONAH expects to win when the case goes to trial in June.

JONAH provided data meant to persuade potential clients that its reparative treatments were effective, something that multiple clinics do despite the many instances where “cured” gays admit to they haven’t changed. That data, Bariso reasoned, was tantamount to misrepresentation and fraud.

“For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “This is the principle lie the conversion therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients. Gay people don’t need to be cured, and we are thrilled that the court has recognized this.”

Gay Rainbow Mormons

The Mormon Move

Have the Mormons gone crazy? Did you feel the earth shake recently? One of the biggest bastions of conservatism, the Church of Latter Day Saints, has come out in full support of local, state and federal LGBTQ anti-discrimination bills. Well short of . . . more like an olive branch to our community in that they are offering a compromise in that in return they seek some form of protection for people who claim a religious reason for being exempt from the law.

Yes the devil will be in the details. But what is so significant is that the Church of LDS has publicaly come out and recognized that LGBTQ discrimination exists and that it is necessary that there be protections against such discrimination.

This cannot be underestimated. Imagine if the Catholic Church dropped its opposition to the LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws, we would have more states, like Pennsylvania, that have such needed such protections.

But open and frank dialog is necessary and it appears the Mormons have made the first move.

However, there is a wide chasm between sides. The religious right believes that applying such protections to LGBTQ peoples would protect individuals on the basis of behavior, rather than “immutable characteristics” individuals are powerless to change. They believe that it would be offensive to their religious liberties to have to serve LGBTQ people in any capacity.

But the clear problem here is that we LGBTQ people are NOT able to change. We, who are born this way, believe that our sexuality and gender are “immutable characteristics” that cannot and should not be changed.

But should we LGBTQ people run away from religious exceptions to anti-discrimination laws?

Some argue no, that we should welcome them, rather than force the religious right into the closet. Because of their belief let them be. Allow them to serve who they want. Allow them to discriminate and let the free market run its course, hoping that businesses who discriminate would eventually go out of business.

Others, and I included, feel that it’s not a matter of putting anyone in the closet or denying their freedom to worship their religion as they see fit, but a matter of justice and dignity.

Would we even consider allowing religious exceptions in this country to permit the lawful discrimination of black people or women? Would we permit hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants and other business such a right to discriminate due to one’s religious beliefs?

No, we would not! We would be outraged at such actions. Than why would anyone ask us LGBTQ people to deny our dignity and our rightful place as free and equal citizens of this great nation?

I applaud the direction the Mormon Church has taken, but the call to compromise our personal freedoms and liberties is not realistic and justified. Compromising on rights we have yet to receive I believe is not acceptable in our modern day civil rights movement.

Jim Kenney

Thank You Jim Kenney

Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney resigned his $127,000 per year position on council on Thursday after serving 23 years as an At-Large member. Kenney’s decision to resign was prompted by his unofficial decision to run for mayor. The city’s “resign to run law” forces elected city officials to resign before running for another office.

Kenney gave a 15 minute farewell speech to City Council where at the time he choked up. Kenney said, “I just want to say, finally, before I walk out of here, hopefully not for the last time, I want to tell all here assembled, all my colleagues, I love you. I really do. I just love you and I’ll miss you.”

He thanked past and current council members by name, talked about his South Philadelphia roots, and spoke of the lessons of public service that he learned from his firefighter father.

“He’d come home sometimes in the morning after his shift, and you’d wake up in bed and smell this unmistakable smell of burnt rubber and wood. It was terrible. But you also knew your dad was home. As we know, as elected officials over the years, a lot of people didn’t come home. And we’ve been to those funerals, and we’ve seen those families suffering. We are not running into burning buildings or cutting people out of cars, but let’s dedicate ourselves to that type and attitude of public service. And I think in the end we’ll all have a better city,” Kenney said.

Jim Kenney has been the most supportive Council member to support the advancement of LGBTQ rights. He has been a true ally. He championed the city’s domestic-partner bill, plus a landmark LGBTQ equality bill and most recently advanced the city’s hate crimes law to include LGBTQ people.

Kenney spoke repeatedly of his early support for LGBTQ rights, remembering the political hits he took from his “base” of support. His position on LGBTQ rights “didn’t make the Catholic church all that happy at the time, and we had a big battle about those issues. But, I think fairness is justice all the time, regardless of what the issue is.”

In a 14-3 vote, the Philadelphia City Council today passed a landmark and far-reaching LGBTQ equality bill in 2013.

Introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney, the bill creates a tax credit incentive for businesses that change their policies to allow the families of LGBT employees – same-sex partners and their children – to enroll for family health benefits. The bill offers a similar tax credit to employers who offer transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits to their employees.

In addition, according to HRC, the bill makes a series of revisions to the Philadelphia Code to provide for equality of treatment for all Philadelphians regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. It makes official city forms gender neutral and makes it easier for transgender individuals to request name changes and gender markers on some records; it also requires gender-neutral bathrooms in city-controlled buildings and provides for access to bathrooms to be based on gender identity as well. It ensures that people who work in Philadelphia will able to dress consistently with their gender identity, and it bans healthcare discrimination against non-union transgender city employees. The existing provisions relating to life partnerships were revised and expanded.

Jim Kenney support will be missed on City Council. As a nonprofit we cannot endorse him in his run for mayor but we want to personally thank him for his 23 years of leadership for both the LGBTQ community and the city at-large. We wish him well in his future endeavors wherever they lead him.

Thank you Jim Kenney.

Bryan Fischer

Gay Gestapo Coming After a Church Near You

The religious right is at it again as they find more and more reasons to try to scare Christians in their battle against marriage equality.

In an op-ed, Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the far right anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, tries to tell his readers that we LGBTQ activists are out to force every church into performing same-sex marriages.

He curiously uses the term “Gay Gestapo” when referring to LGBTQ activist, a term coined by Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce . . . but more on that later.

Fischer writes that, “mean-spirited and bigoted (LGBTQ activists) won’t rest until every Christian who supports natural marriage is under virtual house arrest, exiled from polite society and forbidden to engage in commerce of any kind.”

He continues, “Your church may be next. Do not think for one minute that the First Amendment all by itself will guarantee your church’s protection from rabid gay activists and their minions in the court system. The courts have already shredded the First Amendment virtually beyond recognition, and as far as protecting your church’s religious liberty, it may be hardly worth the parchment it’s printed on.”

First, I know of no marriage equality activist who is advocating that any church, regardless of creed or dogma, be required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Not one. In fact, from the beginning of the movement we have always claimed that churches have the religious liberty not to perform our marriages.

But there it ends. To refuse service to a member of the LGBTQ community when you are a publicly licensed, tax paying business, is discrimination. Virginia is pushing forward a bill that would make it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ peoples in restaurants, EMT services, hospitals, housing, hotels and much more. These pro-discrimination bills are in response to people like Fischer who scare the people that their religious liberties are under attacked.

Now what about the use of the term “Gay Gestapo?”  It is clearly offensive. To associate the LGBTQ civil rights movement to the Nazi regime is just ignorant and does disservice to the tens of millions of people who were persecuted and killed at the hands of the Gestapo.

Fischer thinks because a lesbian coined to phase it is appropriate to use.

It should be noted that this woman, Tammy Bruce, is an arch-conservative, who is highly critical of LGBTQ people and our issues.

Bruce, like Fischer, plies on the fears of the heterosexual community when it comes to the LGBTQ storyline they put forth. They have no credibility and questionable sanity, but unfortunately they have an audience.

Their twisted view of our community based on their own personal fears and hatred make it essential that members of our community continue to push forward to expand the truths that will find history siding with our goals. Remember “separate, but equal?” It is no truer then than it is now.

My Husbands Not Gay: Epilogue

Well, I couldn’t help myself, I had to watch it, and it was indeed a train wreck. That’s My Husbands Not Gay, which aired last Sunday on TLC.

Last week I asked where you stood on the issue of this this show. Did you watch it? I know some of you did.

So what was all the fuss over?

As my good friend said the premise of the show was a classic combination of denial and enablers which makes it easy for them to live their lives separate from reality.

While acknowledging their same sex attraction they repeatedly emphasize the ways they differ from people living a so-called “gay lifestyle” because of conscious choices they have made. Yet these same men will go out and check out other men, often with their wives along, and openly discuss with them the types of men they are attracted to.

But Tanya, one of the wives, states the underlining belief here that, “Gay, to [the SSA Mormon men], is a lifestyle choice,” and later adds that her husband “is definitely more attracted to men than women.”

According to the participants, who are all Mormon, gay men can be attracted to women and that homosexual orientations are not fixed and unchanging but fluid and negotiable.

But according to the Huffington Post “The Mormon couples profiled on TLC’s My Husband Is Not Gay may find these statistics sobering: Marriages like theirs — same¬-sex attracted men and straight women —are two to three times more likely to end in divorce than others.

“That finding and others come from a newly released in¬-depth survey of 1,612 self-¬selected LGBT/same–sex attracted Mormons and former Mormons, thought by researchers to be the largest study ever conducted with this population.”

The study shows that . . .

• Between 51 percent and 69 percent of mixed¬-orientation Mormon marriages end in divorce, well above the roughly 25 percent of Mormon couples who split up.
• More than 70 percent of LGBT/same¬-sex attracted Mormons leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
• 80 percent of respondents reported undergoing efforts to change their sexual orientation — 85 percent of which were religious and private efforts, 31 percent were private efforts only, 40 percent therapist-¬led and 21 percent group efforts.
• 53 percent rejected their religious identity; 37 percent compartmentalized their sexual and religious identities; 6 percent rejected their LGBT identity; 4 percent integrated the two.

The survey found that the more Mormon and the more same-¬sex attracted a person is (on the Kinsey scale), the more prone that person is to depression and suicide.

It is easy to lash out at TLC, the show and the participants, but in reality I feel they need our empathy more than our scorn, for their struggle is great. I disagree with their message but they are free to follow it. We however, need to continue the conversation this show has started and not let up in our fight against conversion therapy with laws banning its use on youth. And we must educate struggling and confused adults that yes indeed it is okay to be LGBTQ.

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Trending – My Husband’s Not Gay

If you have been paying attention to LGBTQ news you will know that what’s trending right now is The Learning Channel’s (TLC) My Husband’s Not Gay one-hour special on Sunday night about four Mormon couples in Salt Lake City whose husbands acknowledge being attracted to men. They refer to it as SSA, Same Sex Attraction.

Needless to say this has many activists, organizations and individuals, in an uproar. The root of the problem is that many feel that this show harkens to the old conversion therapy (also known as reparative therapy), a range of treatments that aim to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, a position that one can change one’s sexuality.

Others are upset because they say that these men are denying their true identity as gay men only for the sake of fitting in with their church’s teachings.

Josh Sanders, 32, launched a Change.org petition on Dec. 29 to keep the special off the air and already has 98,000+ supporters. “They are making a reckless choice to share a message that you can’t identify as both gay and religious,” Sands told People.

Sanders wrote that the TLC special is a “TV show that promotes the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities.”

“As a gay Christian man who’s seen firsthand how this message can harm people, I am calling on TLC to cancel My Husband’s Not Gay and to stop telling America that LGBT people should lie to themselves and to their faith communities about who they are and who they love,” added Sanders.

“They are turning my struggle and a lot of people’s struggles into late night entertainment.”

GLAAD also spoke out against the network’s decision to air the special.

“This show is downright irresponsible,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”

According to People, Ty Mansfield, 36, is an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University who does not consider himself gay, but says he has had issues with SSA and loves the idea of the special.
“It’s a community of people that most people don’t understand because the popular narrative around sexuality doesn’t acknowledge it, other than the tragic stories. The show provides a window to show that people can thrive and live happy lives.”

Sanders said it well when he wrote, “the men featured in this show deserve to be shown compassion and acceptance. Perhaps even more importantly, TV viewers need to know the horrific consequences of trying to change who you are. Instead, TLC is presenting victims’ lives as entertainment, while sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed, or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex. This message is harmful to both LGBT people and communities of faith, and I call upon TLC to stop spreading such dangerous misinformation by cancelling My Husband’s Not Gay immediately.”

TLC is moving forward despite the controversy and is standing by their programming. The network stated that they have “long shared compelling stories about real people and different ways of life, without judgment . . . The individuals featured in this one-hour special reveal the decisions they have made, and speak only for themselves.”

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you plan to watch the show? I know I shouldn’t but I’m drawn to it like any rubbernecker at a multi-car pile-up. I’m opposed to conversion therapy at any age, and I’m concerned that these men will be disappointed that they will never be able to hide from their true identity. I’m also concerned that others who are insecure in their true sexuality will find false hope in such propaganda only prolonging their struggle, confusion and pain. Having said that, if the show does air it should do so with a disclaimer that states that “Such forms of conversion therapy are not accepted by the American Psychological Association and that individuals are strongly advised not to attempt it because it will never work, except in fantasyland.”

2014-15

2014; What a Year!

2014. What a year it was with so many issues affecting LGBTQ peoples and communities. Both nationally and globally we made great strides and were faced with precarious setbacks as we plowed the issues through yet another year. Transgender rights, coming out, national oppression, gay scouts, executive orders, SCOTUS, marriage equality, Apple’s out CEO, all these and more were stories that touched us and moved us to action and celebration.

The year started out with the Boy Scouts of America as they implemented its policy to allow openly gay youth into the ranks on January 01. However, gays and lesbians over age 18 are still barred from serving as scout leaders, troop members, or volunteers, which is a shame that the Boy Scouts of America forces young LGBTQ adults out of their programs.

During the course of the year transgender peoples saw some interesting advancements, especially in the area of anti-discrimination. The big news is that transgender people are now protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition on sex discrimination.

Last month outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will support the idea that existing civil rights law provides protections for transgender people against workplace discrimination. Holder says he has determined prohibition on gender discrimination under Title VII also bars discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

“After considering the text of Title VII, the relevant Supreme Court case law interpreting the statute, and the developing jurisprudence in this area, I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Holder wrote.

While this is great news for our transgender brothers and sisters we must be ever mindful of them as they are a segment of our community that is often abused and subjugated to second and third class status. They deserve the same rights and liberties that we all seek.

Michael Sam’s coming out got the pro-sports world talking about whether they were ready for an openly gay player in the NFL. Sam was drafted to the St. Louis Rams, who quickly cut him. He then served a brief stay on the Dallas Cowboy’s practice squad before being cut yet again. Michael Sam was the first openly gay player in the NFL . . . who will surprise us this year?

President Obama proved once again that he is a true ally to our community with the signing of an executive order adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the categories protected in the existing anti-discrimination executive order covering federal contractors. With two years left in his presidency what other LGBTQ achievements could be next?

In a move that needs to advance across the country to all states, California became the first state to officially ban “trans panic” and “gay panic” legal defenses. The new law makes clear that a defendant’s fear of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity may not be used as a legal defense.

The Supreme Court rejected anti-marriage equality appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Because the rulings struck down bans in other states as well, the appeals court decisions raised the number of marriage equality states from 19 to 30, plus Washington, D.C. With rejections for appeals and refusals to stay court rulings allowing same-sex marriages to move forward, the high court seems to be setting itself up for a positive ruling for marriage equality this year.

2015 promises to be an interesting year when it comes to LGBTQ peoples with “religious liberty exemptions” being one of our major battles as we advance forward toward being accepted for who we are by nature. Here’s to a great 2015 to all of you and your families and friends.

2015-happy-new-year-300x300

Happy New Year!

One year ends. Another begins. Resolutions and goals are promised. We’re off to experience another year.

Now it’s time for us all to review the past year and recall achievements, notable or infamous events, and personal memories and the optimist in all of us hopes that our reflections will lead us to a better year ahead.

What are our goals, our dreams, our needs? Where do we want to be this time next year or what do we want to achieve?

Each year we are confronted with the “tradition” of making resolutions, but alas, far too many go unfulfilled or forgotten. Personally, I gave up on resolutions a long time ago, they seemed useless and a waste of time.

I’ve come to understand this yearly review and resolution making as a simplified form of a discipline known as a daily examination of conscience. Far from being a puritanical act seeking forgiveness for our sins, this examination of conscience allows us time to reflect on our actions and thoughts while providing us with an opportunity to embrace the dignity of our humanity, while reinforcing our self-respect.

Dignity and self-respect are the cause and fuel for the queer civil rights movement. These truths are the foundation for our indignation and anger in the presence of injustice. They guide and empower us while giving us the ability to recognize a government that governs us while at the same time discriminates against us.

Embracing the dignity and self-respect within ourselves helps us to see the same in others and thereby moving to restore individual moments to civility. In the light of dignity and self-respect, a simple act of opening a door for someone becomes a restorative moment that leads to other restorative moments. By becoming more aware of others, we also become more appreciative of ourselves and of our community.

As a community it is the recognition of our dignity and the power of our self-respect that causes us to fight back against the injustices that rile against us daily. Heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, sexual prejudice and discrimination are enemies of natural human dignity and individual self-respect and as a community we can gain the inner-resources and strength to fight back against such injustices.

It is our hope that 2015 will lead us all to a deeper understanding of our personal and communal ability to bring about change and restorative moments. May our dignity and self-respect be the passion that enflames our desire and our actions to secure and protect our full and equal rights in society for ourselves and the generation of queers to come.