SCOTUS to Gays: No cake, but you can eat some more s**t.

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Thank you, Justice Kennedy et al, for throwing us into a modern day Animal Farm, where some are "more equal than others."

In the June 4, 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission), baker Jack Phillips has been exonerated for refusing to offer his professional services to all citizens equally. He now has permission to discriminate against gays.

Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (which had ruled against Phillips), had not given due consideration for Phillips’ religious concerns. Kennedy believes the Commission disparaged Phillips’ religious argument, and possibly even his religious beliefs. So because Phillips might have been mistreated by his own state’s regulators, the federal government says he can mistreat gay people.

Kennedy added wording implying that this was a one-off case and that future cases in this category might not be ruled similarly. And to that I call, “Coward.”

There is nothing in the SCOTUS ruling to stop future cases from using this case as a precedent in support of religious extremists. For Kennedy to pretend otherwise is disingenuous and craven. 

In Colorado, state law provides protection against discrimination based on disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry. What it does not protect against is religion discriminating against anyone, and yet that is the very protection SCOTUS just handed Phillips.   

A Religious Free Ride: "Christians Only"

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The LGBTQ community has come more and more into the gunsights of the religious "right" since the current president began his campaign. This is just one more bullet.

But—what if it weren’t a gay couple we were talking about?

Let's say Phillips subscribes to a white-supremacist religion in which people of color are deemed to be not quite human, and the engaged couple who walk into his shop is black. If he had refused to serve them, what would have happened? I suggest that if we think the chaos in Charlottesville was disturbing, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Allowing a business to turn away customers because they are black could easily start a race war that would spread across the country. 

Or, say Phillips belongs to a fundamentalist Islamist sect in which women must be covered, must not go into public alone, must not speak to a man until spoken to, and must not conduct business on behalf of a man. A woman wearing Western-style clothing walks into his stop expecting to do business. He refuses to serve her. What happens next? I doubt that Kennedy et al would say, "Sure, that's fine, go ahead and discriminate against women." Even if SCOTUS agreed to hear this case, there's no way the baker would get a green light to deny the civil rights of a whole segment of society. 

According to the Washington Post, Kennedy wrote: “religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.”

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Um… excuse me? WHO is it who’s not welcome? Jack Phillips can proclaim his religious beliefs to all and sundry; that’s his right. But when SCOTUS says he can turn gay people away from his business, what kind of business is being promoted? I submit that it’s not one that Kennedy would have supported if Phillips’ religion were against people of Irish ancestry. 

What SCOTUS should have done, given that Kennedy was so concerned about Phillps getting a fair shake, is to send the case back to Colorado for a re-trial under the condition that all parties’ concerns were given equal respect and consideration. 

All Jack Phillips has to do if his religion is against marriage equality is not to marry a man. But where are the rights of citizens not to have others’ religion forced onto them? That famous first amendment guarantees us all this right—even “the gays.” And for pity's sake, Justice Kennedy. IT'S PRIDE MONTH!

I've heard a number of pundits insist that this ruling is not as dire as it sounds. And actually, that's probably true. Because as abominable as this ruling is, it isn’t the end of the world for gays. It’s just another day in the life.

  Gay people have more to be proud about than the U.S. Supreme Court

Gay people have more to be proud about than the U.S. Supreme Court

School kids ask: Am I the next to die?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... inalienable… This founding document for the rights of U.S. citizens tells us that the right to life is something that cannot be taken away.

And yet, in mass shooting after mass shooting, from Columbine to Sandy Hook to Orlando to Parkland and in far too many places in between, people claiming their right to bear arms are rendering the right to life moot.

The Smoking Gun

It took the U.S. a long time to force the tobacco industry to admit that their products were killing people and even longer to convince people that they would die from using tobacco. Some people still aren't convinced.

Guns in the wrong hands are more dangerous than cancer, so is it now the gun industry that has some 'splainin' to do? Well, it would do no good to put danger labels on guns. So we need to neutralize the virtual weapons the industry is using. And the primary weapon, wielded through the industry's proxy (the National Rifle Association), is money.

Denying Gay Couples Art

Cathy Miller of Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, CA can refuse to sell to anyone who displeases her, according to the California Superior Court, because it's "art," and that makes it free speech. According to this Feb. 7 Washington Post article, Judge David R. Lampe opined that “Miller is a practicing Christian and considers herself a woman of deep faith.”

Miller evidently claims to have faith in her God. But if that faith doesn't outweigh this commercial transaction in her own heart, it is paltry indeed. And she shouldn't look to the courts to strengthen it; she should look to her God.

Are you out of your mind? It's all about love!

There is a delightful podcast called WROTE, hosted by two great guys who write—and support writers of—LGBTQ literature. And they interviewed me!

The episode, "Are you out of your mind? It's all about love," was great fun to record. I just hope I don't sound as cray-cray to everyone else as I sound to myself. In my defense, Vance Bastian and S.A. Collins are very good at getting people to reveal their inner truths.

A.C.L.U. vs. the Spirit of the Law

The ACLU needs to get better at understanding law—not just the letter. It needs to understand the spirit.

As ex-ACLU board member Waldo Jaquith puts it: What’s legal and what’s right are sometimes different. 

Facebook Says: No Christian Cross Emoji

On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself. Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.

Throwing Shade on the Women's Marches?

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, likes to teach dog owners that preventing their dogs from focusing on trouble (a letter carrier, another dog, a trash truck) is to give her a sudden, physical distraction as soon as that focus seems likely. This might be a gentle push on her backside, or it might be a sharp tug-and-release on her leash.

After reading the January 24 New York Times article by Jenna Wortham, I think what I got was a less-than-gentle push on my backside. For sure, the tone of this article distracted me from the enthusiasm I have felt since leaving the Boston Women’s March.

This is war.

For over a decade, I've written novels about gay teens. I'm a cisgender, straight advocate, and I write these stories because I hate injustice, I hate fear-driven paranoia, and I'm distressed at the vulnerability of LGBTQ teens.

When I began writing, I was certain that I would not see marriage equality in my lifetime. I knew very little of the hell that trans individuals go through. I knew nothing at all about what intersex means.

And since I began writing, I have celebrated win after win after win for LGBTQ people.

Then came Trump.

Electoral College Needs an Appendectomy

Every day since the November 8, 2016 election, we’ve seen the number of citizens who cast their presidential vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump increase. That lead is now roughly TWO AND A HALF MILLION VOTES.

Dear Governor McCrory...

I know you're suffering. And I have some information that I hope will help you and your family out of your current troubles.

As an advocate for personal truth, and in particular an advocate for the rights of LGBTQ citizens, I have read with interest a number of articles about you. In them, you describe the difficulties you and your wife have had to face as a result of North Carolina's HB2, the law you signed that requires people to use public facilities according to the gender on their birth certificates and limits the civil rights of LGBTQ people in general.

Black and White

It’s the end of a week full of horrible events.

The shooting death of African American Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana… The shooting death of African American Philando Castile by police officers in Falcon Heights, Minnesota… The shooting deaths of five white police officers by a single African American in Dallas, Texas, apparently as retribution for the week’s two previous events and for so many other shootings of African American men by police….

Orlando: Phoenix Rising

From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn. The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.

Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.

The chemistry of hatred

It’s a simple chemical reaction: Apply fear to ignorance and you get hatred. We’re seeing far, far too much of it lately.

Here in Massachusetts, the state legislature has been debating whether to pass a bill granting citizens the right to enter public bathrooms according to their true gender. I recently heard one misguided legislator insist that if the bill passed, women and girls would no longer be protected against assault. I understand what this guy and many other people who’ve said similar things are afraid of. What I think we need to get at is why they’re afraid.

Robin Reardon: Reading Aloud

When I have a chance to do a reading or a book signing event, I love connecting with readers. And after the events, they often ask me whether I’ve made recordings of the excerpts I read to them.

Well, now I have. There’s a new page on my website dedicated to excerpts I’ve recorded from my books. So far there are recordings from four books. If this feature is popular, I’d love to do more. This page is accessible from the Items of Interest, which you’ll see if you scroll down on my home page.

So… give it a try? And do let me know what you think, good or bad. Thanks!