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.

Fear the Gay!

Although the discriminatory laws passed in recent days in North Carolina and Mississippi (with a close call in Georgia) claim to be about religious freedom, there is no question that the primary target is members of the LGBTQ community.

 

These three laws have subtle differences; NC's law seems to focus sharply on transgender individuals and bathroom usage; GA's law would have focused largely on marriage; and MI's law shoots squarely at the heads of all LGBT individuals. But they, and all recent "religious protection" laws passed in the last several months (such as Indiana, Arkansas, the list goes on), have the same goal: Protect good Christians from ... from what, exactly?

Make your vote count... FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS

If you identify with or support U.S. citizens who don’t fall into the “straight, cisgender” category, you have an opportunity that is not likely to come again in your lifetime. And the rest of your lifetime is about how long the outcome of this opportunity will matter.

With the death of Antonin Scalia, one of the least LGBT-friendly voices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for the past thirty years is silenced. The question is what the next voice will say.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Mormonism

There is a wonderful group called Mama Dragon on Facebook, for members only, that supports Mormon and ex-Mormon families who have lost a child to suicide. Since the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) announcement last November outlining their draconian approach (see below) to LGBTQ church members, Mama Dragon has reported thirty-two suicides of young Mormons between the ages of fourteen and twenty, most of them from Utah.

“Ex-gay” “reparative therapy” (quotes used to connote the lack of veracity and validity for both terms) has been the cause of untold numbers of suicides, especially among teens. The organization TruthWinsOut.org has ample documentation about the suicides of LGBT individuals, and teens especially.

Not in my lifetime

It was 1978 when I met the first gay men I would come to know well. In 1983, across a table at a New York City sidewalk café, one of these men told me in hushed tones about the "gay plague." I'd never heard of it before. Neither of us knew then that within ten years it would claim him.

I remember the mysterious darkness that descended over the community at that time, a darkness that has lightened considerably by now but that still hangs overhead. Paralleling it, also lighter today than thirty years ago, is the progress of LGBTQ acceptance by the general populations of many countries, including the U.S.

Through a lens darkly

On January 14, the Anglican Communion sent U.S. and LGBTQ Episcopalians into the corner for a time-out. They did it because they don’t know how to bring a large part of the Communion into the 21st century. They did it because too many church leaders are trying to read their scripture through a dark lens.

This time-out consists of three years’ worth of the United States Episcopal church having no say in any internal matters pertaining to doctrine, and U.S. church members cannot be appointed to any committees, and anyone on committees already must participate no more than a fly on the wall, and (if that’s not enough) U.S. members can no longer represent the Communion to any organization or effort outside the Communion. U.S. church leaders must sit in the corner with their thumbs up their proverbial bums. Oh—except that might be a “gay” thing to do. Very well, then, they must sit there and suck their thumbs.

Ben Carson: Delusional canary

Dr. Ben Carson seems to be in the process of disappearing from that stage on which the GOP presidential wannabes gather every so often. But even if his campaign is running out of steam, some of the things he has said—specifically about LGBTQ people—represent fallacies that he points to as reasons to decry marriage equality and transgender rights. In a sense, he’s like the canary in the coal mine, except that he only thinks he’s dying.

Marriage Stability: Are gays better at it?

True confession time. Many years ago, although I considered myself extremely accepting of LGBT individuals (as they say, straight but not narrow), I asked a wonderful lesbian a terrible question. Okay, yes, it was 2004, while my home state of Massachusetts was still trying to decide whether marriage was a right open to all citizens (and not just the straight ones), but still. This 45-year-old woman wore a gold band on her left ring finger that I knew matched the one on her female partner’s left hand, and one of us brought up the subject of the marriage equality debate. At one point in the discussion I asked, “So, have you ever been married?” There was a long pause, and then she replied, “Just the once.” I nearly melted in shame, and so I should have.

Pope Francis and Kim Davis: BFFs?

If you've read more than one of my books, you know that religion in one form or another is always present. Whether examining a religious "ex-gay" camp in Thinking Straight or comparing Christianity and Paganism in Throwing Stones, it's in there. I see religion—its presence, its absence, its interpretation and contradictions—as key to how individual people (and groups of people) live their lives and how we treat each other.

The pope-ification of America has been a study in contrasts, with both sides of the political scene embracing the things they like and ignoring the rest. It's a lot like reading the Bible, where interpretation is often in the mind of the reader and where cherry-picking is a strategy each side of an issue will use to prove itself right. Conservative and liberal politicians alike have even pounced on some of the same perceived papal positions and claimed them for their own. It seems to me that LGBT rights is foremost of these.

"See y'all in church!"

You've all heard so much about the shenanigans of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who did her very best to prevent her government office from issuing marriage licenses, now that the law requires her to issue them to all citizens, and not just the ones whose marriages she approves of.

So I'm not going to talk about Kim Davis. But I think we need to talk about what's underneath her actions. We need to talk about bubbles.

Earlier this year, there was a kerfuffle that began in Indiana (remember Memories Pizza?) around religious freedom. The issue at hand then is the same one we're hearing about now. And it's a smoke screen for people who might not even be aware that they're living in a bubble.