Sunday, September 13, 2009

Letter from a Former Student

Dear Miss Nichols,
I hope life is treating you well in Philadelphia. I am quite sure you are enjoying the endless amount of reading required for your dissertation. Life at USC hasn't been quite the same this semester without your course. I didn't ever get the opportunity to thank you for your guidance and understanding last semester. Despite being thrown into the Freshman lion den, I did enjoy your class and teaching style. You made a somewhat tedious class far more enjoyable and I appreciate the standard you held me to. With that said, I am enquiring about the possibility of obtaining a law school recommendation from you. I believe we spoke about it briefly last semester and out of the teachers I have had in my brief tenure at USC, we had the a fairly amicable student- teacher relationship. I am sure you are quite busy in your studies; however, I would greatly appreciate and forever be indebted to you. I would go as far to say that upon my law school graduation, I would be willing to represent you for any legal matters for the duration of your existence. Additionally, I would be willing to provide any help necessary as well as an empty envelope and stamp if necessary. In the event that you can't in good conscience write me a recommendation, I will always reminisce on the in depth conversation with my pupils. Once again thank you so much for an interesting semester and I wish you the best of luck and success. If you ever find yourself in the state of South Carolina please inform me, I am fairly certain I owe you a beer. By the way William Smitthers told me to thank you for passing him. With sincere admiration, Sid Gibson

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Blog

Hey everyone. My friends and I started this blog as an experiment and, well, busy schedules have kept all of us from contributing equally to it. I've left it up for now, for posterity's sake, but decided to branch off with my own blog.

This will inevitably piss someone off

But I don't care. It needs to be said.

There was a controversial article published here:

For those of you not in the know, there is a HUGE debate sparked by Prop 8's passing between the gay community and the African-American community. A generalization of the argument (and I recognize it is a generalization so don't yell at me for generalizing, please) is that gays do not have a right to compare their civil rights struggle with that of blacks, because racism and homophobia are different kinds of hate, because one can hide one's sexuality but not their race. Therefore, the hate African Americans receive is greater and more forceful than the hate received by gay people; therefore, gay people not only cannot compare their civil rights struggles but also cannot complain that they have not yet received their total rights (i.e. legal equality in the form of gay marriage, military equality in the removal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, etc) because while gay people have waited 40 years for their freedom, African-Americans have been waiting several hundred years for theirs.

And after reading both, I agree with the critique more than the article. Some money quotes from the critique:

"For one thing, the argument is so self-defeating. You generally don't end up with an intelligent discussion. What you end up with are folks who compare abuses like they are marks of honors. Getting your head busted open for being black or gay is not a trophy and should never be seen as such."

"Are we so damned wrapped up in talking about how we have been oppressed that we forget that all oppression must be stopped?"

The last quote sums it up for me. Why are we even arguing whose oppression and discrimination is more important and more valid? Hate is hate and should not be tolerated, whether it lasted for 40 years or 4,000 years. I'm getting sick and tired of any minority, whether sexual, racial, cultural, or spiritual/religious, claiming they have more of a "right" to bitch about "non-rights." It's the perverse reversal of bigotry. "My genetics receive more discrimination than your genetics, therefore, I am superior to you."

I'm sorry, but prejudice is prejudice no matter WHOM IS DOING THE HATING. I believe a white person hating a black person simply because they are black is JUST AS WRONG as a black person hating a white person because they're white. Likewise, I also believe that a gay person hating a straight person is the same sin as a straight person hating a gay person.

Hate is hate, period, and it is never, under any circumstances, justified. I don't care how long your ancestors were oppressed. Your bigotry is not absolved because of your history.

And speaking of history, if we study it, we'll find that damn near EVERYONE has had some atrocity done to them. Just off the top of my head: Hitler and the Jews, the Romans and the Christians, Europe/America and Africans, Africans and Africans (hello apartheid), Europeans and Native Americans, Britain and India, Protestants and Catholics, the British and the Irish, the Irish in New York City, Japanese Americans circa 1945, China and Tibet, the Spaniards and the Aztecs, the ethnic cleansing of the Yugoslavia breakup, Jews and Palestineans, Iraqis and Iranians, the people of North Korea, the high school football team versus the effete theatre geek, and let's not forget WOMEN for over 2,000 years and counting in some parts of the world.

Now...are we done playing the Victim-Thon? And can we use our anger that we've been spewing at each other to fight oppression in ALL forms? To fight racism, sexism, and homophobia. Because this "you have no right to complain" is counterproductive and just allows oppression to exist WITHIN minorities as well as outside of them. That, my friends, achieves nothing. And I'm tired of achieving nothing, how about you?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

DOMA: Did Obama Make A Big Mistake?

First off, a few things.

1) I was not pissed off about the CA State Court decision regarding Prop 8. According to the California state constitution, you can petition an amendment, get the required number of signatures to put said amendment on the ballot, and then open it to an election. This is what the supporters of Prop 8 did and what they did was legal. Was it right? No, but that's not what the court was ruling: they ruled that it was legal. I expected it. I'm not sure why other gays and gay supporters didn't.

2) I am not expecting President Obama to support or even legislate gay marriage. He said he was against it in the primaries and throughout the election. I'm not sure why other gays and gay supporters think that he was for it when he clearly stated that he was against it.

3) Given #2 as well as the fact that no alternative has been suggested by Congress, I expected him to uphold DOMA.

Those three things said, I am surprised that the brief they used to uphold DOMA was so inflammatory. The brief reads like it was written by Jerry Falwell. Gays cost the federal government too much money? Gays can enter into a sham marriage with someone of the opposite sex just to get the benefits? Can anyone read this thing with a straight face? (no pun intended).

The brief bases all of its arguments on a court decision back in 1971, in which it was ruled that gays did not have the right to marry each other. Social conservatives have used this ruling over and over again to justify their position. The problem is that the ruling took place over 40 years ago and the arguments that were made then are not the same arguments made in 2009. The brief should have taken into account present day arguments: it did not.

I'd have thought Obama was a bit smarter than this, but apparently I was wrong. If he was going to uphold DOMA, he should have used a less inflammatory (and might I add, dated) brief. So we've got two possibilities here:

1) It was an after thought. The administration realized that they would have to issue a brief, didn't take the time to draft one, and then used a holdover brief from the Bush Administration without even doing a spot check. Which shows that Obama doesn't hate U.S. homosexual citizens, he just doesn't care.

or 2) The administration read the brief and approved it.

Neither one of these scenarios bodes well for the gay rights movement in the United States.

Proof of this is found in another one of the brief's arguments, in which it states that the federal government has no obligation to recognize the rights granted by the state. So theoretically, we could have 45 states allowing legal same sex marriages but the federal government has no right to recognize them. Considering the recent decisions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa, this part of the brief is the most damaging (I think). It's setting up the situation where gays and lesbians are equal on a state level, but not on a federal level. Meaning: expect fair treatment from the state but not from the White House. Put more bluntly: the White House doesn't care what your state rules, it's still going to discriminate against you.

Not surprising to learn that this brief was drafted by a Bush appointee. President Obama has claimed that he would not use executive power to live in a vacuum like President Bush, but this brief essentially says that, at least on the issue of gay rights, he will follow Bush's lead.

What's worse is that this brief will be used as fresh ammo from all social conservatives and anti-gay marriage groups. "See? Even Obama doesn't want you to marry." Basically, our President threw gays and lesbians to the wolves. Despite the victories in New England and the heartland, we just got handed a grenade.

So does Obama deserve our anger? This time, oh yes...yes indeed.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Online Debate

This will be a long post, so I apologize in advance.  But I've spent much of today debating with a very unhappy anti-gay person.  You can read the article and the comments (where the debate took place) here.

And now, here were my responses:

"Frankly, Link, nobody cares because heterosexuals, having had marriage for as long as they have, realize that it's not the panacea that the gay community insists that it will be."

But I thought that marriage was so fragile, so important, so sacred to society that the concept of same-sex marriage would destroy the United States of America and then the entire world?

If all heterosexuals believed that, there wouldn't be any opposition. But there is. A lot of opposition so some straight people must regard marriage in high esteem.

And NGT, you're damning an entire group of people based upon the actions of a few. For every misguided gay parent taking their kid to a leather convention, there is a well-rounded gay parent taking their kid to a park. This is true of STRAIGHT PEOPLE as well. People, regardless of sexual orientation, make bad decisions.

And some of us gays actually DO work for HIV charities and try to help the indigent and the sick. So NGT, please keep your self-righteous anger in check.

As for the Dan Savage comment, everyone seems to take his ideas out of context. He's not saying monogamy that is hurtful, it's the illogical expectation of it. Meaning for most people, it's not realistic, and for all people, it's difficult. Considering the 50-plus percent divorce rate in this country, I'd say that's fair assessment. 

Regardless, it is odd that the White House has made no comment on the actions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Iowa, and the only time our President mentions gays or lesbians is in a joke. Forgive us if we take a little offense to that. As if discrimination against gays and lesbians is nothing more than a nuisance. Is it so awful to ask for a little respect from the government, who seems to have no trouble at all taking our tax dollars? 

And "Don't Ask Don't Tell" needs to be repealed. It's a stupid law, one that promotes homophobia, and is completely outdated.

Re: North Dallas Thirty

1) NDT, gays aren't sneering at the virtues of marriage, they're sneering at the HYPOCRISY OF SELF-RIGHTEOUS STRAIGHT PEOPLE. You can't use the argument that gays are not worthy of marriage because they are promiscuous and self-destructive when some married heterosexuals are guilty of the same type of behavior. 

But again, this is damning an entire group of people based upon individual actions. ANYBODY, regardless of sexual orientation, can have self-destructive and promiscuous tendencies. If these actions do not disqualify heterosexuals from marriage, then it shouldn't disqualify homosexuals.

2) The stereotypical "gay lifestyle" is misnamed. It should be called the POPULAR LIFESTYLE. All of pop culture is shallow, hyper-sexual, and excessive. This is, again, not homo-centric so you can't keep using it as an argument that gays are inherently irresponsible because of their "lifestyle." 

3) You're missing the other benefits of marriage. Gay couples are owning property together, joining their finances, and raising children. They have no federal protections for their property, their money, or their children. Straight people do. This is where the inbalance lies. The fact that a straight couple can cohabitate for 7 years and have a commonlaw marriage but a gay couple can be together for 50 years and not have ANY federal protection is bullshit.

Re: TS

Yes you are subjected to different laws in different COUNTRIES. This is the United States of America. There is a big difference. Also, I'm not sure why gay marriage is a "forceful" issue. The United States grants personal freedom to all its citizens as long as they are unobstrusive to others. If gay marriage were legal, churches would still have the right to refuse certain unions (as they do now), parents would still have the right to tell their children they believe gay marriage is wrong (as they do now), and businesses would still have to treat all of their employees, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or gender, with equality (as they do now). So what exactly would change?

One of the prices we pay as American citizens is that other citizens will believe and live their lives in ways that we don't approve. But just like we have religious and personal freedom, so should our neighbors.

It's easy for the majority to tell the minority to wait for their rights and be thankful for what they are given. If everyone would put themselves into a situation in which they are the minority, I think it would alter their worldview dramatically.

"Marriage is two things to the gay community: a convenient excuse and a useful proxy fight."

Well, isn't that true of the Republican Party as well? Haven't they used it as a divisive issue for years to gain votes and win elections?

"how willing they are to trash it when doing so allows them to attack heterosexuals and religious people." 

And by your words here, aren't you guilty of the same sin? Aren't you using marriage as a way to trash homosexuals in the same manner that you're claiming homosexuals are using marriage to trash heterosexuals?

"How can you call opposition to gay marriage a divisive issue when the Obama Party and its candidates proclaim their public opposition to gay marriage and support state and Federal constitutional amendments to ban it?"

Last time I checked, it was the voters who elected politicians, and the issue is divisive amongst VOTERS. 51% voted for Prop 8 in California, but 49% did not. I therefore call the issue divisive. 

And it's not the Obama Party, it's the Democratic Party. Saying that is just as assinine as me calling the Republican Party the "Limbaugh Party."

"it's hard to argue that homosexual couples are identical to heterosexual couples when homosexual couples are completely dependent on heterosexual couples to produce them."

So homosexuals are inherently lesser than because we were simply born? Wow. 

"In other words, heterosexual couples have the capability to provide something of value to society that homosexual couples don't."

My aunt and uncle were barren. Should their marriage be annulled because they didn't produce any children i.e. any value to society? My grandfather is almost 70 and won't be producing any children. Should he also not marry? 

"The best that can be hoped for in regards to gay marriage is that it might keep gays from irresponsible behavior, even though it doesn't do so for straights."

You still haven't addressed the issues of shared property, shared finances, and shared children. Adopted children who were abandoned by (ahem) straight people. And what about lesbian couples who use the same fertility treatments that naturally infertile straight couples use?

"Liberalism has made of marriage an inconvenience, something that you do for the tax writeoff with the current sexual partner"

Since gay marriage is illegal in 45 states, you are referring to the actions of straight people and, once again, damning all homosexuals for the actions of some, ***not all*** heterosexuals.

"your only concern is what marriage does for you and you alone, and my concern is what marriage does for society"

And what does gay marriage do to the society? That point you've never made. You've talked about how it's not essential to gay people but you've only argued that citing extreme behavior that is not limited to homosexuals and does not represent all homosexuals. 

And I guess homosexual couples spending money on houses, vehicles, education, insurance, entertainment, travel, food, clothing, and other items don't contribute at all to a capitalist society such as this one.

"Hence, it's pretty obvious that your behavior won't matter as long as you have the right opinions, and if you don't have the right opinions, everything you say will be wrong anyway."

You are airing your opinions in a public forum. Anytime you do that, you will be subject to praise, agreement, disagreement, and criticism. This is the price of a public forum. The Dixie Chicks and Miss California found that out the hard way so it hardly follows to a conservative or liberal bias. If you don't want your opinion judged, then simply don't give it. Or grow a tougher skin. 

Or how about don't comment on a gay friendly website. I don't comment on extreme right-wing websites because no one is going to be open to my opinion. Practice a little self-awareness next time.

"Therefore, I don't give respect under the belief that it will be reciprocated or thatit adds any value; I give it when I feel like doing so."

If you expect confrontation, you will always find it. It seems that were burned by the actions of a few extreme, misguided gay activists, and for that, I'm sorry. But you've taken those past experiences and made a hatred for an entire group of people and no matter what religion or philosophy you follow, I promise you none of them would condone it. 

As I've said before, you are damning all homosexuals (including me, by the way) for the actions of a FEW. I have not resorted to name calling at all during this thread, nor have I sent you hate mail or hateful messages. I have just criticized your opinion, which you stated in a public forum. Therefore, do not link me or others like me to the negative experiences you have had in the past.

Let's agree to disagree. It's apparent you are not open to my opinion and I do not agree with yours. I do hope you grow less vitriolic over time. Hate ages the soul but it does not make it wise.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

To my friends in California

Well California sucks. I'm not surprised by the ruling at all. But there is hope, friends. Look to the Northeast, the birthplace of America, and look to the heartlands of Iowa. Freedom and justice for all is coming. It will come one state at a time. CA is just a bump in the road. And that state will soon be ashamed of what they've done today.

Now let's do the one thing the Christian Right would never do to us: walk over to them and say, "We forgive you for trespassing against us." Just because they hate us does not give us the right to hate them back. Give the love and forgiveness we wish they could have shown us. Remember, kids, karma is a bitch. Get on its good side and don't worry...the supporters of Prop 8 and all its like will get their comeuppance. Bigots always do.

Much love from Tennessee,


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dear President Obama

Unlike the letter to Miss California, I actually sent this one:

Mr. President, I first would like to say that I know your job isn't easy. Pleasing 250 million people is not a pleasant task. But I'm just curious as to the silence concerning the historic actions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa in regards to gay rights and gay marriage. I find it odd that you wouldn't even acknowledge these acts, especially given your campaign promises.

I know little of politics and I understand if certain promises are pushed aside, but Mr. President, I'm asking for an acknowledgment that what these states did was Just and American. That homosexual citizens matter enough to be spoken of. I live in TN, the state where 82% of the population believed I shouldn't ever be married or have a civil union, because my long-term relationship would be less than valuable to society. My family doesn’t even ask about my relationships, as if I were asexual, whereas they obsess over my brother’s (heterosexual) love life. At 25 years old, I wonder if I'll ever be considered a citizen and person of value instead of a dirty little secret.

I consider myself to be a good American, Mr. President. I'm currently working towards my MBA at Belmont University. My main goal is to fix an entertainment industry that, like our country, is falling apart. I pay my taxes, I vote, I educate myself on the issues and world events, I am kind to my neighbors, I work hard and I play fair. And yet, I have people telling me everyday through their actions that I don't matter. Whether it's talk shows, radio programs, blogs, newsprint, or even comments in a Nashville bar. And your silence is telling me, once again, that because of who I am, who I was born to be, who I was made to love, that I don't matter.

So I ask you, Mr. President, do I matter? Or am I just a dirty little secret?