Updated: Check out the very bottom of this post for an update log.
I think that sometimes I take for granted that everyone else isn’t inside my head. Believe me, that’s a good thing (for all of us), but just in terms of some knowledge, I want to make sure we all understand what I’m talking about.
Chances are you’ll recognize or know some of what I’m talking about below, maybe even all of it, but I hope you learn something. I’ve tried to organize it in sections, hopefully it makes sense. I also tried to keep it brief, there are of course many more details and many more subjects I did not get to, and I'm focused on Pennsylvania, since I'm here. Your mileage may vary.
There’s a lot we should be proud of (ignoring the fact that we had to fight for what few rights we have), and a lot to continue to work for. There are many people we owe quite a bit to, and all those we continue to fight for. Let’s get started.
Hank Green (SciShow, Crash Course, Vlog Brothers), sums up the biological side of things pretty succinctly and is a good place to start:
LGBTQ....There's a lot more letters that come come after, many of which I don't know. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans(gendered and sexual), Queer, Questioning, Ally....and the list goes on and on. Hence the name, "alphabet soup." In our desire to be inclusive, we have a huge tent. I've noted it elsewhere, but I, when I remember, like to use the order GBLT, because who doesn't love a good BLT sandwich?
Lawrence v Texas
This 2003 supreme court case struck down anti-sodomy laws across the country, although many still remain on the books. Anti-sodomy laws were used primarily against the LGBT community to literally invade their bedrooms and arrest them, while heterosexuals engaged in any sodomy behavior (any sex not for procreation) were not prosecuted. This was actually the second time these laws were brought before the supreme court, the first being 1986’s Bowers v Hardwick. Basically, before these laws, it was illegal to be LGBT in states with these laws.
Federal hate crime legislation protects citizens against hate crimes based on a variety of classes, and in 2009, sexual orientation and gender expression were finally added (as well as other expansions of the law). Hate crime protection gives police forces additional funds to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, as well as bringing stronger sentences for those convicted. Fun fact, heterosexuals are now finally protected from hate crimes by homosexuals as well.
It was not until 2011, after a series of high-profile incidents, that hospital visitation rights were extended to the LGBT community (in hospitals receiving federal aid). Imagine not being allowed to be next to the person you love as they lie dying in a hospital. Powers of attorney, patient wishes and even civil unions had been ignored, leading to the necessity of an executive order.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the policy, fully repealed in 2011, that made LGB members of the armed forces hide who they were or face a dishonorable discharge. Members of the military can still be dismissed for being transgendered.
Defense of Marriage Act is what currently defines federal marriage law and the reciprocity between states’ marriage laws. The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage, so couples in states with marriage equality are barred from over 1,100 rights and must file separate tax returns. Lambda Legal brought the case Windsor v United States to the supreme court to overturn parts of DOMA, especially those dealing with federal recognition and taxation. Edith Windsor is a widow, but was forced to pay over $300,000 in estate taxes when her wife died, since in the eyes of the federal government they were strangers.
While all 50 states have reciprocity of heterosexual marriage (i.e., when you get married in one state, you’re recognized as such in all 50), each state may individually decide whether or not to recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships for other states, leading to a patchwork of legality for same-sex couples as they travel across the country.
This video, shows why fighting DOMA is so crucially important:
Proposition 8 is the ballot initiative that removed the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry in California, creating three classes of people in the state: heterosexuals, homosexuals who were not married, and homosexuals who were married, but would never be able to marry again (in case of the death of a spouse or divorce). AFER, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, brought the case Perry v Schwarzenegger, and it was argued before the supreme court after a string of victories for equality. Side note: Schwarzenegger and the government of California declined to defend Prop 8 in court, and as the basis of standing was examined, the case evolved and is now finally known as Hollingsworth v Perry.
One scenario, even if parts of DOMA is repealed, is the continuation of a country with a mishmash of marriage laws. Fighting for full, federal marriage equality is necessary, not just for a marriage certificate, because that is not what defines a relationship, but for the social recognition, the stability of a family and the comfort that we’re all equal in the eyes of the law.
Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has so far, been a pipe dream. This law would make it illegal to fire (or not hire) someone based on their sexual orientation. Versions that also include gender expression have also been proposed, but to the same effect. Currently, it is completely legal to fire someone for their real or perceived sexual orientation.
Student Non-Discrimination Act, the same as ENDA, but protecting students from institutionalized discrimination.
Just like employment, housing and housing loans can also be denied based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Just like the “Red Scare” of communism, this was a systematic purge of LGBT workers in the federal government.
Any man who has sex with a man (and that’s the language used), regardless of sexual orientation, since 1977 is barred from giving blood for life, according to current regulations. All blood is already screened for a multitude of diseases, but the implication here is that all gay men have HIV, or at least, we all contracted it simultaneously in 1977 and that heterosexuals have no diseases that couldn’t be detected.
Until 1991, members of the LGBT community could not legally immigrate into the United States. Immigration reform is also of special concern to the LGBT community because, when coupled with DOMA, we face extra barriers to overcome to be with the person we love, if they happen to be a citizen of another country. Bi-national same-sex couples are routinely separated, having no protection under the law, tearing apart families.
This of course, varies by area. Allegheny County, for instance, has their own version of ENDA (which does not apply to 501(c)3 charities). If I were to work less than a mile to the east, I would have absolutely no protection against employment discrimination. Philadelphia recently passed the most comprehensive protection package in the country, and Pennsylvania is once again attempting to enact statewide protections.
Boy Scouts of America
I’m not going to go into it here as it is constantly evolving and I’ve written about it...at length (and yes that was in the voice of Prof. Snape). If you’re interested, just read the rest of the blog.
Freedom of Association/Postal Service
Before 1957 it was illegal for LGBT citizens to use the postal service to promote their rights, and prior to Stonewall (and far after), LGBT groups were routinely harassed by police.
While not the first time members of the LGBT community stood up for themselves, it is what kicked off the modern gay-rights movement in 1969. After being raided, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, in New York City, stood up for themselves, were joined by fellow citizens of Greenwich Village, fought back, and the ensuing riots was the catalyst for our demand for equality.
The first out elected official in the country. Elected to the board of supervisors of San Francisco, famous for his work for equality, not only for the LGBT community, but the elderly and children as well. His famous quote, in reference to coming out and working to make the world better for those coming after him, “You gotta’ give them hope.” Was assassinated, along with the mayor of San Francisco.
Brought the supreme court case Boy Scouts of America v Dale in 2000, led to the BSA upholding their ban on LGBT scouts and leaders.
Brutally murdered in Wyoming. His mother created the Matthew Shepherd foundation and extension of hate crimes to cover sexual orientation and gender expression was the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Act.
British scientist responsible for the modern computer age and cracked the Nazi enigma codes during WWII. Was convicted of being homosexual by the British government and sentenced to chemical castration. Committed suicide before the sentence could be carried out. He has yet to be pardoned by the British government.
First male athlete in the big four (football, baseball, basketball, hockey) to come out while still playing. Although has not been re-signed (free agent) for the 2013-2014 season.
First out state official in Pennsylvania, elected in 2012. Currently represents downtown Philadelphia.
I’m from Driftwood
Video series dedicated to the many unique stories of the LGBT community and our allies. (http://www.imfromdriftwood.com/)
It Gets Better Project
Founded by Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller to combat LGBT suicide. The idea is that because of the Internet (and YouTube specifically), we don’t need permission to talk with the kids that need our support the most. We can tell them that life does get better, and it’s worth sticking around for. (http://www.itgetsbetter.org/)
You Can Play
Founded in memory of Brendan Burke, out, gay player and manager for Miami of Ohio by his father (Maple Leafs former GM, Brian Burke) and brother (Flyers Scout, Patrick Burke), You Can Play has officially partnered with the NHL to tackle homophobia on the ice, in the locker room and in the stands. (http://youcanplayproject.org/)
Crisis intervention and suicide prevention for the LGBT community. (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/)
Human Rights Campaign
The main lobbying group of the LGBT community, working with local organizations and lobbying in Washington, D.C. for equal rights. Their symbol is the yellow equals sign on a blue field. Fun fact, you can be a card-carrying gay (or ally), by joining the HRC (they have fairly useless donor/membership cards), but it's a nice gesture.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund and Out Serve merged after the repeal of DADT, they work to support LGBT members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.
The state-level organization working for equality in Pennsylvania. Reintroduced the state-level ENDA in 2013 with record support, over 100 co-sponsors in the house and senate.
Lambda Foundation/Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh
The Lambda Foundation is the local LGBT organization, the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh is a spin-off organization that puts together Pittsburgh Pride.
National legal organization focusing on LGBT issues and fighting for those with HIV/AIDS
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, national organization of allies.
Previously the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, now just goes by GLAAD and also focuses on trans and bi issues as well, media watchdog for the LGBT community.
Pride is usually celebrated in June to coincide with the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, although some locations move it around due to weather concerns. An open celebration (seriously, everyone is invited, including allies) of how far we’ve come, the fact that we’ve survived and enjoying the community that we’ve created for ourselves.
May 27 - Added alphabet soup, a few other details.
Lots of video today, but lots of other things as well, hope you enjoy.
First up, in case you missed it everywhere else on the Internet, the season 4 trailer for Arrested Development:
There are a lot of videos, so I won't embed this one, but also in case you haven't seen it anywhere else on the Internet, the first music video from space (of Space Oddity, of course).
From a favorite blogger Clintus, this is actually very accurate:
Also from Clintus, the definition of a very, very bad day.
And we're all glad she's back, and of course wish her the best, but Hyperbole and a Half knocks it out of the park. Read this.
The final piece of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz):
The UK Parliament is finally working towards apologizing to Alan Turing, the man pretty much responsible for all modern computers.
Congratulations to Minnesota on passing marriage equality. And the mayor of St. Paul is pretty awesome:
And speaking of marriage equality, Mika is throwing a free concert in Paris to celebrate as well as to fight homophobia.
And if you want to follow along with the next state to debate (most likely Illinois), here is a good BINGO card.
The first promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has been picked up for the fall. I don't think the trailer is that good, but of course I"m excited for it:
And as it turns out, this year may be the time that Pennsylvania catches up and enacts an anti-discrimination ordinance.
A massive map of the dialects of North America. Not much happening out in the Midwest and West Coast.
And what I think is the last video today, the greatest hits of the last 10 years of Mythbusters:
That's it for today, have a great one everyone!
Add a comment
The BSA national board meets in fourteen days and on the agenda is the change to membership standards, which would allow openly gay youth, but not adults. The staggering amount of information from their various surveys has been released, and I think it's presented in a bit biased way, seeing as all the pro-equality comments are skimmed over at the very end of the information packet, but that may be me nit-picking.
The voting process itself is amazingly intricate (although from what I gather, no more intricate that votes of other large corporations or governing bodies). The big news of course, is that the largest backer (in terms of sponsoring units), the Mormon Church, is supporting the proposed membership standards. In fact, only one of the major sponsoring partners is against the change.
And no, the proposed change is not perfect. But it's a step towards full equality, and a step in the right direction. We have to remember that. Right now, kids are being discriminated against, and that kind of institutionalized discrimination drives young people to suicide. So even though there are plenty of adults, like me, who would love to go back and volunteer, we have to check our egos at the door and remember that this is a youth organization and we have to support the youth first and foremost. This isn't about us. We have to abide by the campsite rule and make it better for those coming after us.
And yes, the policy basically comes down to this:
But youth are smarter than we give them credit for, that I promise you. They see the hypocrisy, and understand that it's a step in the right direction (not to mention that it's not a viable solution long-term, just in terms of the gray definition of youth when you pull in OA and Venturing). But this gives them a place to be safe, a place to belong and a place where they can finally be themselves, become better citizens, be exposed to hobbies and vocations and develop skills they'll carry their whole lives.
And besides, LGBT members have always, always been members of the BSA. We just lean on those around us, and recognize that there are many fighting for us inside the organization as well.
In the meantime, an equality minded similar organization is showing growth, the UK Scouts (where it all started) is inviting everyone to join them at Pride celebrations this summer and a gay former Scout spends a day with a local troop, giving them the best cinematography merit badge classes ever:
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, mops the floor with an anti-equality activist, and the Good Men Project hits is perfectly with this essay. A father and son team are cycling across the country to raise awareness for the membership change, while at the same time, conservatives aregoingcrazy making shit up (three separate links there), and the epicenter of all this, the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia, will be vacating their long-time headquarters because of the national stance (that they tried to work-around).
Also, in the weird side of things, the Family Research Council has nothing else to do besides steal photos, badly doctor them and try to pass them off as from Irving. I don't have anything to add to that, but sometimes, you just have to acknowledge the bizarre and keep on moving.Add a comment
Alright, let's see what we have today.
They're cute as babies, but seriously, hippos are not something you want to attack you.
The headline is perfect, so I'll just repeat it: Brave CBS Reporter Speaks Up for Underprivileged Older Christian While Men
And why is the Jason Collins story so important? Here's why, and here's why we'll keep talking.
Next up, because I'm a huge typography nerd:
An amazing ad for child abuse prevention.
Rumor is that the next musical from Parker and Stone (Book of Mormon, South Park) will be about Scientology.
So...trees can gasp out loud for water.
That's all I have for today, but I'll be back soon with more! Have a great one!Add a comment
Alright, let's see what we have today.
I'm going to warn you about following the link in this article. The thinking of so backwards, and so full of logical fallacies that I almost got an aneurysm. Not to even mention the leaps of judgement and total void of logic. I think I may have already gotten a nosebleed.
It was a bad day for me, but this made me feel better:
So DC and Marvel own the copyright to the term "Superhero." That's weird.
Need some inspiration? Check this out:
So this of course is the big news of the day. Because it's a man in one of the big four American sports. Yes, it's a bit sexist, ethnocentric and rude to other professional sports, but based on reach alone, it's a big deal. And here's the fascinating (and heartfelt and touching) behind the scenes of the article.
In case you missed it, this is the cover of "Boston" Magazine, made from shoes from runners of the marathon:
Oh happy day, you can use your XBox Kinect to order Pizza Hut.
The summer movies coming up:
That's it for now, have a great one!Add a comment
Community has always been a very important concept for me.
Throw on top of that, how much I enjoy doing community service, and I found an awesome group: Gay4Good. Once a month we get together and give our time to a different non-profit around the city. I did my first project with them over the weekend, and had a really good time.
A couple people asked me though, what the point of the group is. Their reasoning is why does there have to be a specific gay community service group? Why label it and just keep it open to everyone. While I think there is some credence to that line of thought, I think we're at a place and time where these kind of groups are still needed, and more importantly welcomed.
I explained that for a couple reasons, I think the very idea of a group is great: one, it provides a group where we don't necessarily have to worry about being judged, not being our full selves, and can instead just pitch in together and do some community service. Two: it's good PR for the LGBT community, you know the whole "we're not monsters, look we're doing community service!" line of thinking.
But I also think that it also helps us build community. It goes back to the idea of a family of choice. We can choose who we serve with and we can see the support that we have, even if it's not always as evident as we wish.
I've done a lot of community service. A lot of much larger weekends, but it was still a lot of fun. We all pitched in to help the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership with a couple different projects, and aside from a few differences, it was very similar. I felt more relaxed of course, and I found out that I have a very different definition of "clothes you don't mind getting dirty" than most others.
Next month, we're participating in the Harvey Milk International Day of Service and doing three simultaneous projects across the city (followed up by a happy hour to benefit a fourth charity), which will be fun, and once again, it looks like I'll be playing in the dirt (more landscaping).
And a fun aside, there actually was a straight guy with our group this time. Granted, he was there for court-ordered community service, but you know, he was there working with us.
And yes, of course there is a nerd component to this. One of the reasons I love the Myst community so much is the fact that we really are a community. We care about each other, we know each other and we reach out to each other in so many ways. Also, fun fact, depending on the translation from Sumarian, URU means community (or more commonly, "city").
Anyway, I'm excited to help out again as often as I can, and I'm very happy to have found a part of the LGBT community that I think I feel very comfortable and welcomed in.
All my best,
MikeAdd a comment
Alright, let's see what we have today. First up, the second season of Zombies, Run! was just released. I'm still working my way through their training program and season 1, but it really is an awesome way to get into running:
The Chicago Tribune bought the staff of The Boston Globe lunch.
Well this is pretty amazing:
A one night stand stretches into two days...because of the Boston bombings.
The Onion is coming to Amazon video, and I couldn't be more excited:
Hopefully this link works (it may or may not), but the Chicago Tribune takes a look at the state of American fantasy.
There have been some good gun control ads, I think this is one of the best:
It's a little trippy, and if you get motion sickness, it may not be for you, but a really cool video made from images from Google Earth. Also a great way to showcase the persistence of motion.
That's it for now, have a great one!Add a comment
The Washington Post has a great profile on two gay brothers, one an Eagle Scout, the other finishing up his project and paperwork now, and their involvement in a local protest to encourage the National Capital Area Council to vote for equality.
Here's the crux of the matter:
For those who are against including gay youth in the Boy Scouts of America, they don’t see a continuum in someone’s life,” Felker said. They don’t see that little boys who think kissing anyone is gross discover only later who they want to be on the receiving end of that gesture. “What is it about that person’s character that suddenly makes them incompatible with the core values of the Boy Scouts? They didn’t change from being cute little Cub Scouts into being morally questionable adults. They’re still good guys. They still really care about the social good.”
A switch just doesn't flip making someone gay and making them suddenly lose all the positive values they've learned from the BSA, nor are the two mutually exclusive. They never have been.
And again, it's not as if there have never been gay men and lesbians in the BSA, we've always been there, working to make the world a little better. And we see the positive impact that the BSA has on kids, and has on adults (they learn quite a bit as well), and it's important that as part of the greater world, we're part of the BSA movement as well.
All my best,
MikeAdd a comment
Alright, let's see what we have going on today. First up, of course, thoughts go out to Boston. I was running tonight at the gym, and not that it did a bit of difference, but it was nice to run for them.
This capped off the week with the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, and of course, it's always fun when there's alcohol involved:
This judge is awesome: his cell phone went off during court, so he held himself in contempt and paid the fine.
Here are instructions for making a picnic table with a built in cooler, perfect for wine or beer for a picnic. Awesome DIY project, and I can certainly think of certain family members/friends who would love this!
A good comic:
California is moving to remove tax-exempt status from charities that discriminate based on sexual orientation or religion, which would make the BSA councils pay tax.
The Church of England slowly moves forward, suggesting that they allow same-sex blessings. Now, to be fair, the marriage equality legislation moving through Parliament specifically outlaws same-sex matrimony in the Church of England, and the Church says matrimony itself should only be between a man and a women, so they have some room to grow. It's weird having a state religion.
That's it for now, but I'll be back with more.Add a comment
Alright, let's see what we have today. First up, Run For Your Lives is coming up. I did it last year as a zombie and it's a great time, if you want to join me as a zombie (or meet up afterwards at the party), let me know:
Jimmy Carter has a great essay about equality.
Robyn Miller talked about Myst at this year's GDC. A good friend was at the talk and sent me notes right after it ended and I am forever jealous. Forever.
I saw this on Facebook, and giggled. You know, since I'm five:
So far, I've been as impressed as I can be with the new Pope. He's even reached out specifically to the Church of England, and it rumored that he will be the honorary chair of the 2018 Lambeth Conference (although honestly, those are contentious enough as it is, it may cause a lot of added drama). Guess we'll have to see what the new Archbishop of Canturbery will do as well.
The man who is Virginia's attorney general, and running for Governor, is arguing that sodomy should remain illegal in their state. And just so you know, even though anti-sodomy laws have been struck down by the Supreme Court because they were only used to invade the privacy and prosecute the LGBT community, it technically is any non procreative sex. Strangely, he won't answer any questions about his own sex life when asked, you know, just to see if he's complying with the laws he's fighting to keep on the books.
And lastly, awesome video showcasing music from the Legend of Zelda: