Archive for the 'GLBT' Category

Some of my history of challenging prejudice (mainly anti-Satanism by Pagans)

March 19, 2011

Lately, challenging people’s prejudices has gotten much harder than it used to be. Once it was easy and fun. Over the years it became much more difficult. Lately, it often seems to have become almost impossible. For whatever reasons, it seems that most people today are a lot less willing to consider new ideas than most people were, say, back in the 1970’s.

Nevertheless, even today it is still possible to make progress in counteracting specific prejudices, if one is willing to be persistent about it.

Here’s a brief history of some of my major successes and failures at challenging people’s prejudices over the past few decades:

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The JBFCS Cult Clinic and Satanism: A response to Arnold Markowitz, LCSW

January 27, 2011

(revised February 10, 2011)

Here in New York City, there is a Cult Hotline and Clinic run by the JBFCS (the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services). They provide various helpful services to ex-members of “cults” and to estranged families and friends of “cult” members. They are, as far as I can tell, the only place in New York City that offers such services.

Truly harmful religious groups certainly do exist, and it’s good that there are at least a few places, like the JBFCS Cult Clinic, where people who have been hurt by such groups can get help. But the website of the JBFCS Cult Clinic associates Satanism in general with “cults,” even though the vast majority of Satanist groups (or, at least, most of the ones I’ve run into) do not fit the JBFCS Cult Clinic’s definition of a “cult.”

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To atheists: A secularist alliance is needed

May 4, 2008

These days, too many public atheists come across as even more hostile toward liberals and religious moderates than toward fundamentalists. This is unfortunate, because, in my opinion, atheists and religious liberals and moderates need to stand together against the worldwide trend toward theocracy.

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Gay repentant hawks on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

April 24, 2008

Back in 2001, shortly after 9/11, I remember seeing rhetoric about how the U.S invasion of Afghanistan was going to liberate Afghanistan’s women. Various “gay conservatives” claimed that a U.S. invasion would be good for Afghanistan’s gays, too. Likewise, various gay neocons thought the U.S. military was going to bring human rights to Iraq as well.

Some have belatedly changed their minds, at least about Iraq.
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Same-sex marriage here in New York State

June 22, 2007

A same-sex marraige bill, drafted by Governer Eliot Spitzer, won in the New York State Assembly this week. Alas, it didn’t even come to the floor in the State Senate, and the state legislature’s session ended this week, so the bill is dead for this year. Nevertheless, the win in the State Assembly was an important symbolic victory, increasing the likelihood that we’ll win equal marriage rights sometime within the next two years.

The big hurdle will continue to be the Republican-controlled State Senate, with majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, who opposes same-sex marriage. Elections aren’t until 2008, but, given that the Republicans hold only a very slim majority (by 2 seats), we might possibly get lucky in a mid-term election or two.

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Jerry Falwell has died, but the religious right wing hasn’t – far from it

May 18, 2007

After posting my recent blog entries on same-sex marriage and religious right wing groups here in New York, I clicked on the tags “gay rights” and “same-sex marriage” to see what, if anything, other people on WordPress.com were writing about these topics. Among other things, I came across a few different blogs in which there was some agonizing over whether it was okay to feel good about the death of Jerry Falwell.

I agree with those who say it’s fine to feel good about the death of someone who has caused so much misery for so many people, especially if you yourself happen to be one of those people.

But I do think we should refrain from expressing any such happy feelings in a truly tasteless manner, such as by picketing Falwell’s funeral a la Fred Phelps and his clan.

Guess what? The Phelps clan will be picketing Falwell’s funeral, or so says this news story on 365Gay.com. Apparently Falwell wasn’t homophobic enough for Fred Phelps, who, according to the 354Gay.com article, complains that Falwell “spent his entire life prophesying lies and false doctrines like ‘God loves everyone.'” (P.S.: I’ve subsequently confirned this story. The front page of the Phelps clan’s website God Hates America now proclaims their intent to “preach” at Falwell’s funeral.)

Anyhow, I also suspect that some folks may be rejoicing out of a mistaken belief that the death of Falwell was a crippling blow to the religious right wing. That it most definitiely wasn’t. Although he was a kingmaker in the early 1980’s, Falwell has not played nearly as significant role in the religious right wing since then. His “Moral Majority” was soon eclipsed by Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition as the leading religious right wing organization. More recently, the most powerful leader of the religious right wing now seems to be James Dobson.

Anti-gay right wing groups here in New York State

May 16, 2007

In my previous post, I mentioned a brief news story about the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York. I just now found that group’s website here. Their links page provides a handy list of major right wing groups here in New York State.

Of course, as I hope will be obvious to nearly everyone who would bother to read my blog, the Coalition’s name is just plain idiotic. Exactly how is the legalization of same-sex marriage going to destroy or in any way harm heterosexual marriages???

Anne F. Downey, co-chairwoman of the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York, is a lawyer practicing in the Town of Boston, according to the brief bio following an op-ed by her in the Buffalow News.

According to a page on the Albany Times-Union site:

The group’s steering committee includes the Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a frequent face at the Capitol on hot-button issues. Among the advisors is Mike Long, the state Conservative Party chairman. Signing on to a position statement opposing same-sex marriage were such groups as the New York Christian Coalition and New York Family Policy Council.

The Times-Union site also has a PDF copy of a press release by the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York.

The coalition’s site’s links page lists the following:

  • New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) – “The Christian Voice in Albany,” run by Rev. Duane Motley, who claims to be “New York State’s only full time Christian Lobbyist. Lobbying on Religious, Family and Moral issues.” Well, nice to know there’s only one, if indeed that’s the case.
  • Concerned Women for America of New York (CWA of NY) – local chapter of one of the older national religious right wing organizations. The national organization is run by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye, author of the “Left Behind” series and one of the leading members of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” back in the 1970’s.
  • New York Family Policy Council – an evangelical Christian-oriented group. Judging by its name, I would have expected this to be an affiliate of James Dobson’s empire, but I find no reference to Dobson or his organizations in any conspicuous part of the site such as the About page. Lots of very scary rhetoric about Christians “occupying” the rest of society.
  • New York State Christian Coalition. Judging by its name, this would seem to be a local branch of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, though the website doesn’t say so, at least not on any page I’ve looked at so far.
  • The Association of Politically Active Christians (APAC) – run by some evangelical Christians.
  • Caucus for America, run by Rabbi Aryeh Spero.
  • New York State Catholic Conference – this site appears to be entirely in Chinese (or some closely related Asian language), at least on the browser where I am working now. I’ll see later if it still is on my computer at home. Seems strange that a New York “Catholic Conference” website would be in Chinese; I didn’t know that there were that many Chinese-American Catholics.
  • The Conservative Party of New York State – site contains a link to What Is Conservativism?, an interesting collection of articles about the Conservative movement in the U.S.A., on the website of the American Conservative Union Foundation
  • .

Same-sex marriage here in New York State

May 16, 2007

This post is a little belated, because it has been at least a few weeks since the last time I paid close attention to the same-sex marriage issue here in New York. But it appears that New York State’s governor Eliot Spitzer has indeed fulfilled his promise to draft and propose a same-sex marriage bill. Here are some relevant news stories:

  • “Spitzer Files Gay Marriage Bill,” April 27, 2007 – 10:00 am ET, 365Gay.com
  • “Spitzer unveils gay marriage bill; Senate leader balks,” by Marc Humbert, Associated Press, April 27, 2007, 3:08 PM EDT, New York Newsday
  • “Spitzer Offers Gay Marriage Bill Today” by Paul Schindler, Friday, April 27, 2007, Gay City News
  • “New York governor proposes legalizing gay marriage,” By Holly McKenna, April 27, 2007, Reuters, Boston Globe

Good for him. More recently the governer sent out a memo reaffirming his support for same-sex marriage:

The following commentary claims that Spitzer could more easily just issue an executive order legalizing same-sex marriage, without needing to go through the legislature:

  • “Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Same-Sex Marriage Hoax'” by Kimberly Wilder & Ian Wilder, OpEdNews.com

But, in 2006, there was a court decision that the issue of same-sex marriage had to be decided by the legislature.

In any case, Spitzer has issued an executive order requiring the state insurance department to recognize same-sex marriages from out-of-state jurisdictions:

  • “Same-Sex Spouse ‘Open Enrollment’,” by Andy Humm, 05/10/2007, Gay City News
  • “NY Gay Couples Married In Mass. Have Weddings Validated,” May 16, 2007 – 11:00 am ET, 365Gay.com

Here’s an article about a coalition of local conservative groups opposing the same-sex marriage bill:

  • “New York Coalition Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Bill: New Yorkers resisting governor’s proposed bill,” May 14, 2007, EURweb.com

But the member groups in that coalition are not named in the above article. I guess I’ll have to try to dig up that info later.

Below is a summary of the summary of the situation in various states across the U.S.A.:

  • “Civil Unions & Same-Sex Marriage State By State,” May 10, 2007 1:27 pm US/Central, CBS2Chicagolcom