Ding Dong the Wicked DOMA’s Dead!

Now seems like a good time to let my LGBTQ friends know that they can call upon me should they need a writer’s services in crafting wedding-related stationery items. Despite the fact that our Supreme Court is full of conservative shitheels like Scalia who like to stomp all over important rights, most of DOMA is dead. Prop 8 is pretty much perished. The non-bigoted portions of the wedding industrial complex are screaming for joy, while the Jesus-cries-angry-tears-at-gay-weddings crowd is wailing and gnashing their teeth. Same-sex couples, those who may become such couples, and those who support them in their quest for equal rights are cheering. Sweet sounds all.

Marriage = Love. Image courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

Marriage = Love. Image courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

It’s over. The religious right has lost. There will be a few scattered skirmishes in places where bigoted assclowns good Christians outnumber kind people, but I’m betting on a full defeat of the anti-equality forces within my lifetime. Probably before I’m eligible for AARP membership. And that ain’t that many years away.

About bleeding time same-sex marriage rights were recognized. Long past time, actually, and there are still far too many states that still refuse same-sex couples the right to marry. Let’s get crack-a-lackin on this marriage equality thing. There’s absolutely no reason why consenting adults of the same sex shouldn’t get married, aside from bullshit religious ones. Fuck religion. None of these delusional anti-equality shitlords have a hotline to God (or Allah). Until Jesus shows up in person on daytime talk shows saying Daddy don’t want no gays getting hitched, I’m gonna say that any ratfuckers saying that God hates gay weddings are functionally full of shit and should be shuffled off into a corner to rant to themselves. The rest of us have cake to eat and rice to throw.

The Supreme Court didn’t go far enough, but they opened the door to the clerk’s office. Up to us to ensure all of our same-sex couples get to walk through it.

Happy weddings!

On Tides, Visibility, and Quiet Revolutionary Acts

There was a time, back when I first began seriously aiming at a life as an author, that I thought I’d have to select a pseudonym. Well, I knew I’d have to – writing under my birth name would lead to far too much potential violence, and it is never good PR for a writer to thump readers over the head with their latest bestseller during signings. Any of you who have last names that inspire tired old jokes repeated as if they were a comedy revolution will know exactly what I mean.

But that wasn’t the main reason why I planned to change my name. Nor was it the fact one of my characters had filched my first name and refused to give it back.

I’m a woman. This is why I felt I had to use a pseudonym.

[Read more…]

Correct an Injustice

CeCe McDonald, who will be thrown in prison for defending her life. Image Credit: Support CeCe McDonald.

CeCe McDonald didn’t ask to be attacked, but she was. Some vicious assholes decided a transsexual woman of color was fair game for abuse. They assaulted her, they harmed her, and chased her down when she tried to flee. She had a pair of scissors in her purse. She took them out to ward off her attackers. One of them impaled himself on them, and died, and apparently self-defense and stand your ground don’t apply to transsexual women, because she’s now facing prison time for daring to live.

This is wrong on more levels than I can count.

Our society is tough enough on women lately. Misogynistic assclowns with barbaric notions of godly morality would like to see women reduced once again to the status of chattel, and are doing their level best to ensure that reproductive rights are taken away as a prelude to locking women away in their homes, where they can be kept as breeding stock for manly men of faith. And that’s bad enough. I certainly don’t want that life. But it looks like a cakewalk compared to what transsexual women face. Too many people, including those sworn to serve and protect and administer justice blindly, see them as disposable defects.

I want you to look at CeCe’s face. Look at her. There is a human being with hopes and dreams and love and laughter, who has been through plenty of tough times, and yet managed a brilliant smile. And because a group of men decided she was something less than human, and attacked her, and discovered they hadn’t chosen a completely helpless victim but one who fought for her life when cornered, she’s now being shipped off to prison. A men’s prison, mind you. How well do you think a transsexual woman will do there?

People who defend themselves from assault, who did their best to get away but couldn’t run far enough or fast enough and ended up cornered with no way out, people who chose not to become victims but to defend their lives, shouldn’t have to go to prison, where they’re going to be repeatedly assaulted and possibly killed, just because our justice system is horribly broken.

Sign the petition asking for her pardon. Write the governor who has it within his power to set her free. Support CeCe.

Let’s give back the life they tried to take.

Blaming the Victims (Yet Again)

This sickens me so much I’m at a loss for words:

Fifteen year-old Larry King (no relation to the CNN interviewer) was shot twice in the back of the head by his classmate Brandon McInerney while sitting in school in Oxnard, California. Now that McInerney is on trial, the boy’s legal team and the school administration are using the tried and true “he was asking for it” defense. This is totally disgusting.

According to a story in the L.A. Times today, “McInerney’s defense attorneys… acknowledge that the boy pulled the trigger but say that he was pushed to the breaking point by King’s taunts.” Yes, it’s the tried and true “gay panic defense” that preys on juries’ homophobia to get confessed killers cleared for murdering gay people. It was even used against Matthew Shepard, when one of his killers said he was driven to kill the gay college student because he hit on him.

It only gets worse from there.

I know that defense attorneys have very few avenues they can take with an obviously guilty client. But this tactic is beyond reprehensible. What they’re basically trying to argue is that, should you suffer an unwanted advance, it is perfectly right and fine to shoot a person in the head. You should be able to murder a human being and walk free just because you were briefly inconvenienced and made to feel a bit icky.

I don’t imagine they’d be arguing that women have that blanket right to murder men who come on to them. But, y’know, gays. Ew. Of course it’s all right for a straight guy to shoot a transsexual or a gay dude, because that’s a threat to manhood. Kinda like when your wife sleeps with some other dude. It’s okay to shoot ’em in the heat of passion – why not be able to shoot queers, too?

One can only hope that the jury is not so morally bereft as to buy this argument. But we need to have a conversation, a very long and unflinching conversation, about the kind of society in which arguments of this sort can even be entertained. We’re supposedly a first-world nation, and yet there are not insubstantial numbers of people who don’t see much wrong with demonizing and victimizing gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. When a little girl gets raped, an entire town rallies round the rapists, because, y’know, she wore makeup and was obviously asking for it. How dare those sorts of people lure nice, upstanding young men into performing savage acts?

Some folks, otherwise decent, may claim that the defense attorneys are only doing their job. Sure, they have to blame the victim – how else can they defend their client? I don’t know the answer to that. I know this, though: that sort of tactic is devastating to victims, survivors, and the culture at large. There’s probably nothing we can do to prevent defense attorneys from using such tactics, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them. We can speak out against them. We can tell our society that murdering a person because they made the mistake of flirting with a homophobic sociopath, that raping a girl because she wore makeup in the presence of men, is not justifiable. There are certain things you just do not do in a civilized society. There are some actions that cannot be excused on the grounds that the victim wasn’t a perfect, straight, chaste person.

This dehumanizing bullshit may be a tactic defense attorneys feel comfortable using, but society at large never should. Victims have shouldered too much of the blame. Time to pass that blame to those who have earned it: the victimizers.

Equality is Beautiful

New York State is celebrating marriage equality, and it’s beautiful.

Niagara Falls by @LanceBass

Governor Cuomo wholeheartedly declared July 24 as a day to commemorate marriage equality, which gives us even more to celebrate aside from the marriages of a lot of very happy couples.  If you really want your heart warmed, click here to see Phyllis Siegal and Connie Kopelov right after they tied the knot.  The Salt Lake Tribune has a huge gallery.  And the Digital Cuttlefish has written a poem especially for the occasion: “My Marriage is Gay Today.”  At least one hetero marriage has been changed by all this gay marrying!

By the time I, like Phyllis and Connie, am a white-haired old lady, I hope that every state has allowed same-sex couples to suffer matrimony like the rest of us get married, and that the idea that the United States once was a place where people who loved each other couldn’t marry simply because of similar genitalia is as unbelievable to the youngsters as the idea of Jim Crow and bans on interracial marriages.

I think this calls for a song.

(And yes, I’ll have Los Links up later today. I’m horribly behind, but they’re coming.)

The Limits of Tolerance

Johann Hari asks a very good question: “Can we talk about Muslim homophobia now? (h/t)”

Here’s a few portents from the East End that we have chosen to ignore. In May 2008, a 15 year old Muslim girl tells her teacher she thinks she might be gay, and the Muslim teacher in a state-funded comprehensive tells her “there are no gays round here” and she will “burn in hell” if she ever acts on it. (I know because she emailed me, suicidal and begging for help). In September 2008, a young gay man called Oliver Hemsley, is walking home from the gay pub the George and Dragon when a gang of young Muslims stabs him eight times, in the back, in the lungs, and in his spinal column. In January 2010, when the thug who did it is convicted, a gang of thirty Muslims storms the George and Dragon in revenge and violently attacks everybody there. All through, it was normal to see young men handing out leaflets outside the Whitechapel Ideas Store saying gays are “evil.” Most people accept them politely. 

These are not isolated incidents.

Johann brings up the point that because Muslims are so frequently targets of bigotry, harassment and violence themselves, there’s an understandable reluctance to speak out against their less-admirable acts.  It’s easy to get yourself branded Islamophobic for pointing out that Islam isn’t necessarily a religion of peace, and that strict adherence to Islam leads to despicable acts.  But, as Johann says,

It’s patronizing – and authentically racist – to treat Muslims as if they are children, or animals, who can only react to their oppression by jeering at or attacking people who have done them no harm, and who they object to because of a book written in the sixth century. Muslims are human beings who can choose not to this. The vast majority, of course, do not attack anyone. But they should go further. They should choose instead to see us as equal human beings, who live and love just like them, and do not deserve scorn and prejudice.

Giving people a pass to be bigoted, damaging jerks just because they’re a member of a despised minority doesn’t do any sector of society any good.  It normalizes dangerous behavior.  It doesn’t confront the intolerance before it gets wildly out of control.  And it only feeds cycles of oppression.  No one – not even atheists – are saying Muslims have to give up their religion.  But we expect Christians and Jews and members of other faiths to respect gay folks, even if they do think gays are icky.  It’s ridiculous to give homophobia a pass out of some misguided sense of fairness.  It’s not fair.  It’s not fair to Muslim people who are lesbians or gays or bisexuals or transgendered.  It’s not fair to those Muslims who might discover that their religion can accommodate gays just fine.  And it’s not fair to the wider community, LGBT and allies, who are sick to death of seeing people get harassed, hurt and killed because of the way they love.

There are limits to tolerance.  We can tolerate people of other faiths.  We can’t tolerate actual harm they do for the greater glory of God. Let’s do talk about Muslim homophobia, just as we talk about homophobia in all its many disgusting forms.  Let’s not stay silent about issues that are so critically important.

Prop 8: It’s Only a Setback

You’ve probably already seen the news: California’s Supreme Court upheld Prop 8. They’ve tossed the ball back to our side of the court, practically begging us to score:

The court’s majority concluded “that if there is to be a change to the state constitutional rule embodied in that measure, it must ‘find its expression at the ballot box.’”

That means those of us who support same-sex couples’ right to get married have a job o’ work ahead of us:

In response to the court’s decision, the Courage Campaign will hit the California airwaves in the next 72 hours with a 60-second TV ad version of “Fidelity”—the heartbreaking online video viewed by more than 1.2 million people, making it the most-watched video ever in the history of California politics.

We are launching this provocative new TV ad in the spirit of Harvey Milk’s call to “come out, come out wherever you are” and proudly tell the stories of the people most affected by the passage of Prop 8—in moving images set to the beat of Regina Spektor’s beautiful song.

More than 700,000 Courage Campaign members are ready to restore marriage equality to California. Will you help us get to “1 Million for Marriage Equality”? Watch our powerful new 60-second “Fidelity” TV ad and sign the pledge.

If you like TV ad, please contribute to put it on the air in Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Let’s get it done. We can’t have California falling too far behind Iowa, now, can we?

Seriously? This is The Case Against Gay Marriage?

Isaac Chotiner at TNR‘s The Plank tears apart an article arguing against gay marriage that is so egregiously stupid, so delusional, and so incoherent that one would be tempted to believe we’ve been Poe’d. Alas, that is not the case. Sam Schulman appears to believe his own schlock.

A sampling:

As part of the “kinship system,” marriage has, according to Schulman, four effects. The first is too poorly presented to be summarized coherently or cogently. The second has to do with, yes, incest:

Incest prohibition and other kinship rules that dictate one’s few permissible and many impermissible sweethearts are part of traditional marriage. Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints. There is no particular reason to ban sexual intercourse between brothers, a father and a son of consenting age, or mother and daughter…A same-sex marriage fails utterly to create forbidden relationships.


Uh huh. Schulman goes on to fret about children losing their “status as nonsexual beings” once all the gays are allowed to marry. He also informs the reader that he has been married three times.

Shortly thereafter, Isaac unloads with both barrels. This is all to the good. It gives me time to look up a good therapist for poor Schulman. He desperately needs one.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to Steve Benen. Sorry it’s empty, Steve – I spilled it when I read the article.)