Friday, November 03, 2006

100 Ways to Be Happy

Thanks to Cheryl on MySpace for this list!
1. Never put yourself last.

2. When you extend a helping hand to one person, be careful not to kick someone else in the teeth.

3. Always own a pair of old, faded jeans.

4. Count your blessings every day.

5. Acknowledge your successes along with your downfalls.

6. Burn the candle that has been in storage for the last two years.

7. Strive for progress, not perfection.

8. Remember, the voice telling you that you cannot do something is always lying.

9. At least once a day sit and do nothing.

10. Don't close your heart so tightly against life's pain that you shut out life's blessings.

11. Celebrate all your birthdays no matter how old you get.

12. Examine your life for limitations and ask yourself why you put them there.

13. Plant a tree, pull weeds, or get your hands dirty.

14. Diminish your wants instead of increasing your needs.

15. Cry when you feel like it.

16. Rejoice in other people's triumphs.

17. Don't wait for someone else to laugh or express joy.

18. Forgive yourself for any mistake you make, no matter how big or small.

19. Keep good company.

20. Never take a pill for a pain you need to feel.

21. Use your enthusiasm to put yourself in forward gear and give yourself a spark to move ahead.

22. Look in the eyes of the ones you love when you are talking to them.

23. Remember that one is a whole number.

24. Walk in a summer rain shower without an umbrella.

25. Do a kind deed for someone else.

26. Keep your eyes and ears open to get the messages you need from people and events in your daily life.

27. Be patient.

28. Eat something green.

29. Change what you can and leave the rest alone.

30. Walk hand and hand with truth.

31. Make laughter an d joy a greater part of your life than anger and grief.

32. Embrace solitude instead of running from it.

33. Be zealous, not jealous.

34. Forgive anyone you've been holding a grudge against.

35. Slow down and enjoy the present.

36. Walk in others' shoes before judging them.

37. Send yourself a kind message.

38. Remind yourself that the company you keep is a reflection of what you think of yourself.

39. Go on a picnic.

40. Accept your fears, no matter how crazy they seem.

41. Don't let other people's opinions shape who you are.

42. Say a prayer.

43. Never attribute your accomplishments to luck or chance.

44. Know when to say no.

45. Look at the positive side of negative situation.

46. Remember that you are a spiritual being in a physical body.

47. Avoid seeking out other people for constant approval, because it make th em the master and you the slave.

48. Go fly a kite.

49. Avoid fads and bandwagons.

50. Accept the things you cannot change.

51. Look inside instead of outside yourself for answers to life's problems.

52. Remember that all feelings are okay.

53. Shield yourself from bad influences.

54. Stand up for what you believe in.

55. Respect the wishes of others when they say no.

56. Seize every moment and live it fully.

57. Give away or sell anything you haven't used in the past five years.

58. Never downgrade yourself.

59. Take responsibility for what you think, feel, and do.

60. Pamper yourself.

61. Never say or do anything abusive to a child.

62. Let yourself be God powered instead of flying solo.

63. Volunteer to help someone in need.

64. Refrain from overindulging in food, drink, and work

65. Finish unfi nished business.

66. Be spontaneous.

67. Find a constructive outlet for your anger.

68. Think about abundance instead of lack, because whatever you think about expands.

69. Think of yourself as a survivor, not a victim.

70. Cuddle an animal.

71. Be open to life.

72. See success as something you already have, not something you must attain.

73. Experience the splendor and awe of a sunset.

74. When you score a base hit, don't wish it were a home run.

75. Learn to be in the present moment.

76. Instead of believing in miracles, depend on them.

77. Take a child to the circus.

78. Change your attitude and your whole life will change.

79. Never turn your power over to another person.

80. When your heart is at odds with your head, follow your heart.

81. Always remember that the past is gone forever and the future never comes.

82. Live your life according to what is right for you.

83. Acknowledge your imperfections.

84. Plant a tree and watch it grow.

85. See "friend" instead of "enemy" on the face of strangers.

86. Watch an army of ants build their houses and cities and carry food ten times their weight.

87. Believe in something bigger than yourself.

88. Let the playful child within you come out.

89. Make haste slowly.

90. Work through your problems step by step and one day at a time.

91. Accept compliments from others so you can see the truth about yourself.

92. Sit on the lawn without worrying about grass stains.

93. Don't condemn yourself for your imperfections.

94. Do a humility check periodically by loving the truth about yourself.

95. Tell someone you appreciate them.

96. Never live your life according to what is right for someone else.

97. Talk less and listen more.

98. Admit your wrongdoing and forgive yourself for it.

99. Thrive on inner peace instead of crisis.

100. Affirm all the good things about yourself.
Unknown author

Practicing any art--be it painting, music, dance, literature, or whatever--is not a way to make money or become famous. It´s a way to make your soul grow. - Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Washington's "Take Charge" - free birth control services for low-income

Changes in eligibility for WA State's "Take Charge" (free birth control services for low-income folks) to change November 1

Young people who need Family Planning Services may be eligible for free contraceptive services under the TAKE CHARGE Program. TAKE CHARGE is a Medicaid Demonstration project with the goal of reducing unintended pregnancy in Washington State. STD screening and treatment is very limited under TAKE CHARGE but the program offers full coverage for contraceptive services for those at risk of an unintended pregnancy. Clients apply at the family planning providers’ office and not at the welfare office (CSO). All family planning clinics and most Community Health Clinics in Washington are TAKE CHARGE Providers. There are other providers as well. For a TAKE CHARGE provider nearest you, please call 1-800-770-4334 or visit the Medicaid Family Planning Website:

For teens seeking confidential services, eligibility is based on the person’s own income, not his or her family’s income, so most teens would qualify if they didn’t already receive medical coupons. And once a person is insured by TAKE CHARGE, they can even obtain free condoms and other non-prescription contraceptives from any drug store, as well as confidential, free check-ups and birth control from any participating clinic. A number of other states also have family planning waivers. To see if your state has a family planning waiver, check the CMS website at:

The Take Charge program was extended for three years starting July 1, 2006. On November 1, 2006, some changes will be implemented. In short:
  1. Clients will have to show documentation of identity and citizenship. Your students should call ahead to see what they need to provide. Since the citizen verification process could take several weeks, clients will be enrolled in Take Charge if all other eligibility criteria is met pending citizenship verification. If the verification process determines that the client is NOT a citizen, they will be disenrolled. But, at least at Public Health - Seattle & King County, clients will not be billed for services performed during the presumed eligible enrollment.

  2. Social Security Numbers are required for all Take Charge applicants regardless of age.

  3. Students should provide accurate income information. Income info is required only for the applicant, not for other family or household members.

  4. Clients who have insurance coverage that includes any kind of family planning services are not eligible for Take Charge. Exception: Clients under the age of 19 may be excluded from this rule on a case-by-case basis for confidentiality reasons.

  5. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening and treatment are now covered when performed at the annual exam for female clients 13-25 years of age.

  6. When Plan B is available over-the-counter, Take Charge will cover it, regardless of the gender of the client, which means that we can dispense it to men over the age of 18 who request it. We will still be able to provide it to women, including those under age 18.

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. - Abe Lincoln

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Gay Old Party Comes Out

New York Times, October 15, 2006

The Gay Old Party Comes Out
By Frank Rich - Op-Ed Columnist

PAGING Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: Here's a gay Republican story you probably did not hear last week. On Tuesday a card-carrying homosexual, Mark Dybul, was sworn into office at the State Department with his partner holding the Bible. Dr. Dybul, the administration's new global AIDS coordinator, was flanked by Laura Bush and Condi Rice. In her official remarks, the secretary of state referred to the mother of Dr. Dybul's partner as his "mother-in-law." Could wedding bells be far behind? It was all on display, photo included:, on And while you're cruising the Internet, a little creative Googling will yield a long list of who else is gay, openly and not, in the highest ranks of both the Bush administration and the Republican hierarchy. The openly gay range from Steve Herbits, the prescient right-hand consultant to Donald Rumsfeld who foresees disaster in Iraq in Bob Woodward's book "State of Denial," to Israel Hernandez, the former Bush personal aide and current Commerce Department official whom the president nicknamed "Altoid boy" (Let's not go there.)

If anything good has come out of the Foley scandal, it is surely this: The revelation that the political party fond of demonizing homosexuals each election year is as well-stocked with trusted and accomplished gay leaders as virtually every other power center in America. "What you're really seeing is the Republican Party on the Hill," says Rich Tafel, the former leader of the gay Log Cabin Republicans whom George W. Bush refused to meet with during the 2000 campaign. "Across the board gay people are in leadership positions."

Yet it is this same party's Congressional leadership that in 2006 did almost nothing about government spending, Iraq, immigration or ethics reform, but did drop everything to focus on a doomed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The split between the Republicans' outward homophobia and inner gayness isn't just hypocrisy; it's pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Mr. Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from "The Architect," the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Mr. Rove's own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians.

So will Kirk Fordham, the former Congressional aide who worked not only for Mark Foley but also for such gay-baiters as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who gratuitously bragged
this year that no one in his family's "recorded history" was gay) and Senator Mel Martinez of Florida (who vilified his 2004 Republican primary opponent, a fellow conservative, as a tool of the "radical homosexual agenda"). Then again, even Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania senator who brought up incest and "man-on-dog" sex while decrying same-sex marriage ( has employed a gay director of communications. In the G.O.P. such switch-hitting is as second nature as cutting taxes. As for Mr. Foley, he is no more representative of gay men, whatever their political orientation, than Joey Buttafuoco is of straight men. Yet he's a useful creep at this historical juncture because his behavior has exposed and will continue to expose a larger dynamic on the right. The longer the aftermath of this scandal continues, with its maniacal finger-pointing and relentless spotlight on the Republican closet, the harder it will be for his party to return to the double-dealing that has made gay Americans election-year bogeymen (and women) for so long.

The moment Mr. Foley's e-mails became known, we saw that brand of fearmongering and bigotry at full tilt: Bush administration allies exploited the former Congressman's predatory history to spread the grotesque canard that homosexuality is a direct path to pedophilia. It's the kind of blood libel that in another era was spread about Jews.

The Family Research Council's Mr. Perkins, a frequent White House ally and visitor, led the way. "When we elevate tolerance and diversity to the guidepost of public life," he said on Fox News Channel, "this is what we get - men chasing 16-year-old boys around the halls of Congress." A related note was struck by The Wall Street Journal's editorial page,,
which asked, "Could a gay Congressman be quarantined?" The answer was no because "today's politically correct culture" - tolerance of "private lifestyle choices" - gives predatory gay men a free pass. Newt Gingrich made the same point when he announced on TV that Mr. Foley had not been policed because Republicans "would have been accused of gay bashing." Translation: Those in favor of gay civil rights would countenance and protect sex offenders.

This line of attack was soon followed by another classic from the annals of anti-Semitism: the shadowy conspiracy. "The secret Capitol Hill homosexual network must be exposed and dismantled," said Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media,, another right-wing outfit that serves as a grass-roots auxiliary to the Bush administration. This network, he claims, was allowed "to infiltrate and manipulate the party apparatus" and worked "behind the scenes to sabotage a conservative pro-family agenda in Congress."

There are two problems with this theory. First, gay people did not "infiltrate" the party apparatus - they are the party apparatus. Rare is the conservative Republican Congressional leader who does not have a gay staffer wielding clout in a major position. Second, any inference that gay Republicans on the Hill conspired to cover up Mr. Foley's behavior is preposterous. Mr. Fordham, the gay former Foley aide who spent Thursday testifying under oath about his warnings to Denny Hastert's staff, is to date the closest this sordid mess has to a whistle-blower, however tardy. So far, the slackers in curbing Mr. Foley over the past three years seem more straight than gay, led by the Buffalo Congressman Tom Reynolds, who is now running a guilt-ridden campaign commercial,,0,5098340.story , desperately apologizing to voters.

A Washington Post poll:
last week found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Democrats would behave just as badly as the Hastert gang in covering up a scandal like this to protect their own power. They are no doubt right.

But the reason why the Foley scandal has legs - and why it has upstaged most other news, from the Congressional bill countenancing torture to North Korea's nuclear test - is not just that sex trumps everything else in a tabloid-besotted America. The Republicans, unlike most Democrats (Joe Lieberman always excepted), can't stop advertising their "family values," which is why their pitfalls are as irresistible as a Molière farce. It was entertaining enough to learn that the former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed wanted to go "humping in corporate accounts" ( with the corrupt gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The only way that comic setup could be topped was by the news that Mr. Foley was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. It beggars the imagination that he wasn't also entrusted with No Child Left Behind.

Cultural conservatives who fell for the G.O.P.'s pious propaganda now look like dupes. Tonight on "60 Minutes," David Kuo, a former top official in the administration's faith-based initiatives program, is scheduled to discuss his new book recounting how evangelical supporters were privately ridiculed (,0,3875008.story?coll=la-home-headlines) as "nuts" in the White House. If they have any self-respect, they'll exact their own revenge. We must hope as well that this crisis will lead to a repudiation of the ritual targeting of gay people for sport at the top levels of the Republican leadership in and out of the White House. For all the president's talk of tolerance and "compassionate conservatism," he has repeatedly joined Congress in wielding same-sex marriage as a club for divisive political purposes. He sat idly by while his secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, attacked a PBS children's show (
because an animated rabbit visited a lesbian couple and their children. Ms. Spellings was worried about children being exposed to that "lifestyle" - itself a code word for "deviance" - even as the daughter of the vice president was preparing to expose the country to that lifestyle in a highly promoted book.

"The hypocrisy, the winking and nodding is catching up with the party," says Mr. Tafel, the former Log Cabin leader. "Republicans must welcome their diversity as the party of Lincoln or purge the party of all gays. The middle ground - we're a diverse party but we can bash gays too - will no longer work." He adds that "the ironic point is that the G.O.P. isn't as homophobic as it pretends to be." Indeed two likely leading presidential competitors in 2008, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, are consistent supporters of gay civil rights.

Another ironic point, of course, is that the effort to eradicate AIDS, led by a number of openly gay appointees like Dr. Dybul, may prove to be the single most beneficent achievement of this beleaguered White House. To paraphrase a show tune you're unlikely to hear around the Family Research Council, isn't that queer?

A healthy vital society is not one in which we all agree. It is one where those who disagree can do so with honour and respect for other people's opinions... and an appreciation of our shared humanity. - Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

GLBT Films

Films for Gay-Straight Alliances

For the Bible Tells Me So by Daniel Karslake, 2007, 99 min, Color, DVD

Filmmaker and Duke graduate of '87, Daniel Karslake's new film has been short-listed for an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary in 2007.

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake's provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

To view a trailer this film, visit:

See also:

New list from the Safe Schools Coalition: SHORT VIDEOS for your GSA?
NOTE: Safe Schools Coalition has NOT previewed these.

The Manual:
Sophie Gregg 2006 15 min. Australia
Sonny, an eight year old boy, is sent away from home because his father believes he has characteristics that could lead to homosexuality. After twenty four years of treatment and psychiatric institutions, Sonny returns home for a funeral, and attempts to save his seven year old niece from experiencing a similar fate.

Act of Faith:
Dan Bree 2002 6 min. USA
In the history of Islam, love between men is a centuries-old phenomenon. Yet Koranic tradition forbids choosing a mate of the same sex. Kyriell, an Imam’s son, struggled with reconciling his love for men with his love for Islam and eventually came back to the faith. Pakistani-born Arslan saw no compromise in Islam and discarded his religion, and Iftekar, a Muslim community leader, admits that Islam needs to be brought into the twenty-first century. Through the words of these men, the struggle of gay Muslims is revealed.

Junk Box Warrior:
Preeti AK Mistry 2002 5 min. USA
Based on a poem of the same title, Junk Box Warrior is an enchanting mesh of spoken word and black-and-white images over a haunting soundtrack. Written by and starring Trans Slam poet Marcus Rene Van (of Deep Dickollective), this film explores the alienation, frustration and fear of not fitting into society's gender binary.

Myth of Father:
Paul Hill 2003 28 min. USA
Director Paul Hill’s father, Jodie, is a transsexual woman. When she came out to Paul a few years ago, he began a journey to learn about who his father is. This stunning video documentary contrasts Paul’s relationship to his father with the relationship of his father and her own dad. Candid interviews provide reflections on Jodie’s youth: "He seemed to live the normal life. He was into cars, he was into rock bands, he went into the Army…married…child…" But no one really knew Jodie, as she explains, "No one knew who I was. I trashed relationships with everyone I knew, including my own son."

In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with LGBT Parents:
Jen Gilomen & COLAGE 2005 31 min. USA
In a time when LGBT families are debated and attacked in the media, courts and Congress, from school houses to state houses across the country, five young people who are children of LGBT parents give you a chance to walk in their shoes – to hear their own views on marriage, making change, and what it means to be a family. This film was produced by the COLAGE Youth Leadership and Action Program and directed by Jen Gilomen.

I was compiling a list of films for a GSA to show, and thought others might like to comment on or add to the list I came up with. Since the creation of this list, I've added links to IMDb to each film, and will be adding a note as to whether each film is available from KCLS and/or SPL. We should be ordering these films from the libraries so that they are made available to all:

In and Out (1997): (SPL, KCLS - VHS)

Ma vie en rose (1997): (SPL, KCLS - VHS)

Not specifically gay, but - Billy Elliot (2000): (SPL - VHS; KCLS - DVD, VHS)

Trevor (1994) is a sweet, short film about an important topic - suicide by gay teens: (KCLS - VHS)

Another short: Andre's Mother (1990), which was made for public TV. Very nice character study of two characters brought together by shared grief. Richard Thomas is more likeable than I've ever seen him, as Andre's grieving lover, and Sada Thompson as Andre's mother is *frozen*. In the scenes with her mother, played by Sylvia Sidney (who steals every scene she's in), you see the roots of her damage.

Haven't seen Bruno (2000), (AKA The Dress Code) but it looks suitable, and funny: (KCLS - DVD as The Dress Code; SPL - none)

Haven't seen Innocent (2005) yet, either. It is described as, "17-year-old Eric follows his parents to immigrate to Canada and is thus forced to confront different emotional and cultural problems. He must not only adjust to the new environment, but also come to terms with his homosexuality. Standing at the brink of adulthood, he encounters a series of potential romantic interests - his handsome cousin, a schoolmate, a middle aged lawyer and finally a kitchen helper. They represent different stages in Eric's development, from infatuation, sex, love to a sense of responsibility.

Edge of Seventeen (1998) - I don't see a rating, since it is Aussie:

Also unrated, but looks *wonderful* - La Ville dont le prince est un enfant (1997) or The Fire That Burns:

This one sounds good to me, but may be too quiet for a GSA - The Long Day Closes (1992)(unrated, UK):

My Own Private Idaho (1991) (I can't find a rating, but River Phoenix is prostituting himself):

Interesting, also NR - Olivier, Olivier (1992):

12-minute short on iFilms - The Seventh Sense:

Du er ikke alene (1978)(You are Not Alone):

Short documentary - Gay Youth (1992)(40 min):

Doc. - The Times of Harvey Milk (1984):

35 min doc. - Let's Get Real (2004):

One of my favorites is Philadelphia (1993):

Another is Maurice (1987):

The Laramie Project (2002):

(Aus.) Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994):

Saved (2004) has a cute gay sub-plot:

M. Butterfly (1993) was a revelation. Such sensitive, beautiful acting, and an excellent riff on the operatic tale of Madame Butterfly. Jeremy Irons, always excellent, plays René Gallimard, based on a historical character, who is in fact still alive. John Lone as Song Liling is electrifying.

Too bad these are R:

Latter Days (excellent!):

Yossi & Jagger (2002):

Beautiful Thing (1996) (UK):

Like It Is (1998): (Roger Daltry -- but boxing? Aus.)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001):

Of course as soon as I clicked the post button, I remembered more. A couple more R-rated, but they are biographies, so maybe you can slide by.....

* Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End (1996):

Piñero (2001) (Benjamin Bratt stars):

** Before Night Falls (2000) (Javier Bardem):

Basquiat (1996):

Super intense - Boys Don't Cry (1999) (Hilary Swank):

Gia (1998)(R):

Love! Valour! Compassion! (1997):

Torch Song Trilogy (1988):

Better Than Chocolate (1999):

Revoir Julie (1998):

Orlando (1992):

Trick (1999) (R):

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000):

Mysterious Skin (2004)(NC-17): -- very intense, prostitution, and very disturbing violence. Wonderful performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The Cockettes (2002), was a total trip back to the late Sixties San Francisco. I adore this film, and anyone who cares about gay history, the Sixties, art or drama should SEE THIS FILM! As John Waters so wisely said, "the Cockettes were basically complete sexual anarchy. which is always a good thing." Brief views of bare breasts and penises, and frank discussion of drug use. This is a documentary of the Sixties. :-)

La Mala educación (2004) (Bad Education) (NC-17/R):

Burnt Money (Plata quemada) (2000), is a wonderful Argentine film based on a true crime story. Leonardo Sbaraglia as El Nene and Eduardo Noriega as Ángel burns up the screen. Pablo Echarri as El Cuervo is crazysexy as hell, too! Dolores Fonzi as Vivi also shines on the screen. If sex, drugs, nudity and crime offend you, this is not your film. But if magnetic characters walking and even dancing to their doom is your style, check it out! Probably not suitable for most high school GSAs, in the US anyway.

Also, in my wonderful queer film group over at, the following places to research and order films were recommended:

Strand Releasing:

TLA Releasing:

Popcorn Q Movies:

IMDb: (obviously, I use this one constantly)

Suggestions from the GSA group where I originally posted my lists:

Camp (2003): (PG-13)

The Birdcage (1996): (R-?!)
Of course there is always the original: La Cage aux folles (1978):

The Truth About Jane (2000): (TV movie)

Three to Tango (1999): (PG-13)

Paragraph 175 (2000) is a good documentary about how the Nazis persecuted gays:

Hairspray (1988): (PG)

I came across a SUPER list tonight, with short summaries of each of the listed films: and Listmania! Gay Films You Might Have Missed:

Why are so few of these gay, independent films not known even in the community?

Mark mentioned at the recent annual Seattle PFLAG meeting that most of the gay related movies were independent and that people seemed to be unaware of the majority of them. He says, "This documentary should shed light on why this is the case, from what I read in the review, which is on page 57 of the Advocate, September 26, 2006 issue."
Rated G for “greedy”

This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Directed by Kirby Dick, IFC Films

In his new documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Kirby Dick goes well beyond indicting the top-secret rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America. His real subject is the greed of the Hollywood studios and how they use the rating system to suppress independent films, especially those with queer characters.

Brokeback Mountain notwithstanding, indie filmmakers produce most queer screen content. Unfortunately for these artists, the MPAA maintains rigid control over commercial releases through a secret panel of screeners who often label gay sex as ‘aberrational behavior.’ Regardless of the artistic intent, filmmakers adding a little boy-on-boy action are headed for an NC-17 rating and all that it implies: advertising restrictions and limited releases.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated presents an overview of the rating system’s hypocrisy, including how sex (gay and straight) is censored four times more often than even the most brutal violence. With the help of a dyke private investigator, Kirby aggressively pursues the identities of the secret screening board members in an effort to understand their maddeningly inconsistent judgments. While the investigation techniques tend to be a bit pathetic, the findings are damning—the panel turns out to be a glaringly white and heterosexual group of ‘concerned parents’ sometimes augmented by Catholic and Episcopal priests.

Kirby obviously had a soft spot in his heart for queer filmmakers, beginning his film with the travails Kimberly Peirce faced in releasing her Academy Award-winning Boys Don’t Cry. He compares, for example, the sexual content of Peirce’s film, which received an NC-17, with the hetero horniness of American Pie, which skated by with an R.

The MPAA, which emerges in Kirby’s film as a creature of the Hollywood studios, wraps itself in the cloak of morality. But like so much in the United States, what the MPAA presents as protecting children is much more about protecting profits. And it’s clear that gay visibility on the silver screen suffers for Hollywood’s greed.

—Patrick Moore (September 26, 2006 issue of The Advocate, p. 57)
Often we seek to grow or change ourselves by adjusting the external aspects of our lives. We all too often forget that permanent or real change only comes when the center of our being, our inner drives and motivations, undergoes transformation. - Errol Strider

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cleanliness is next to godliness

I didn't write this, and don't know who did -- I got it as an email forward. It stirred up a lot of memories, though.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness is an adage that you don't hear much today. Almost everyone unconsciously has cleanliness high on their list of priorities. However, cleanliness was not so easy to achieve in generations past. Whoever did the wash, women and Chinamen mostly, can thank Nikola Tesla for inventing the generator that produced AC...transmittable electricity, which took the worst of the drudgery out of washing and ironing clothes.

Before electricity became commercially viable circa 1915, wash days were real bummers. Water had to be heated on the stove, and poured into wash tubs to mix with cold water...too much and you were in hot water, too little, and dirt persisted. Some homes had cisterns; underground brick and mortar tanks which held runoff rainwater, which was soft water that dissolved dirt faster and better when the washer woman, usually the mother or older daughters, scrubbed them by rubbing them up and down on a scrub or wash board after soaping them with a bar of home made lye soap. The small cistern pump was an innovation and when some one thought of putting it in the wash room which some other innovator thought up, labor was saved and Mondays made easier.

Washing for the family was such an ordeal that Mondays were designated wash days, the original bad hair days...don't mess with Mama on Monday. Clothes lines were outdoors, and in the winter the clothes froze. If they were gray or still dirty, you didn't hang your dingy clothes on the line for the neighbors to see. Hanging and taking down the clothes could be done by anyone...even boys. On rainy days, if the family was lucky, they hung in the basement...unlucky, the kitchen or anywhere in the house where there was room. Needless to say, in some families, clothes were worn longer and dirtier than today.

On Tuesday, there was ironing to be done, after sheets, pillowcases, shirts, dresses, pants, even handkerchiefs had been sprinkled and rolled on Monday night. They were first ironed with flat irons heated on the wood stove, and the temperature tested by the ironer touching it with a saliva moistened finger. Ouch? Too hot and the clothes were burned, too cool and wrinkles persisted.

For many farm families, with no electricity, these days lasted until the 1940s and even later.

Yankee ingenuity was always at work trying to make these jobs easier, and the person doing the dirty work...happier, or a least less harried. Many innovations plugged away at it, including washing machines, which had a reciprocating washboard, called an agitator in the center which was turned back and forth by a handle which was a lever attached outside the machine and thus dispensing, with the scrub or wash board. Wringers consisted of two rubber rollers held fast in a frame which were turned by an attached handle. Clothes were fed and drawn into them and the water was squeezed out as they passed through, thus saving the effort of hand wringing (hence the warning to amply endowed women).

Cleanliness was not a fun enterprise. Those who could afford it, hired help. Those who couldn't or didn't, found incentives to inculcate it as a rewarding thing to do. Godliness was the carrot and the fear of the neighbors gossip was a stick, but there was also the reward of looking and smelling nice and feeling good. Frumpy was not good. Body odor was not good. Pride was a motivator. Scrubbed clean and in clean, starched, unwrinkled clothes, kids were a source of pride.

After electricity took much of the labor out of heating, washing and wringing, innovations were accelerated, as wage earner husbands wanted to please, and although it just occurred to me, and I have no verification other than the obvious, I suspect that Mondays begat Monday nights and the phrase, I'm too tired. Whatever, whole industries arose that catered to making cleanliness easier. Scores of irons evolved, always toward making them lighter and more efficient. The steam iron was a biggie. Then wash and wear and permanent press liberated moms somewhat.

In our home town, the Dexter Washing Machine Co. came out with a sure winner: a double tub machine, and clothes were washed twice and rinsed twice in rinse tubs. When the automatic washer was invented, Mondays lost much of their negativity. With dryers and electronic controls washing became still easier, and cleanliness had become an unconsciously accepted central part of our lives. Every supermarket has aisles full of soaps, softeners, bleaches, spot removers, etc. The man who thought up the dryer sheet is now a millionaire several time over.

However, all that is prologue for the central message of this essay. Our generation was raised by mothers and fathers who had seen the worst of the drudgery of washing and ironing. Relatively few women were employed outside of the home. Our fathers did their best to provide our mothers with the latest labor saving devices. Women were proud of their double tubs, steam irons, and water heaters, many of which were bought during the depression when money was very scarce. You might say they were expressions of love and concern for their wives. There could have been other motivations, but lets stick with love and concern.

So, when kids, especially girls, saw their mothers with the latest labor saver, they saw happier mothers and evidence of a good father was imprinted also. Mothers on the other hand, found it helpful to have compliant daughters. Besides doing the dirty work, it was their job to shape their daughters' attitudes. Many hands make light work, they said, and added the mantra: Cleanliness is next to godliness. They even let their small four or five year olds help iron and wash out undies...starting them out on handkerchiefs and progressing to white shirts, the hardest.

They admonished, showed by example and the wisest sang a cheerful tune, knowing that, among other things, their daughters' family's cleanliness and reputation depended somewhat on her. So, it was a lucky girl who grew up washing clothes with her mother on Mondays and ironing them on Tuesdays, and who never hung dirty laundry, real or metaphorical, out to dry.

You who take cleanliness and neatness for granted because laundry does not steal your Mondays and Tuesdays, and because cleanliness seems good, might thank your lucky stars that your great grandmama was an excellent teacher, and that your grandma, and mama were imprinted with such lessons. Last but not least, you might consider and realize that when your grandmother was washing those clothes and especially when she was ironing them when your parents were kids, she loved doing for her kids, and she loved seeing them looking good, and I suspect that she loved thinking about them as she ironed their clothes, some of which she or her mother had hand made.

To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward. - Margaret Fairless Barber

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Washcloth - women only!

Hilarious email forward from my dear sister Kimberly:
I was due for an appointment with the gynecologist later in the week. Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 am. I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45 am.

The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare. As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort.

So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in that area to make sure I w as at least presentable. I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment.

I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in. Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away.

I was a little surprised when the doctor said, "My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven't we?" I didn't respond. After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal - some shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. After school when my 6 year old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, "Mommy, where's my washcloth?" I told her to get another one from the cupboard.

She replied, "No, I need the one that was here by the sink, it had all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it."

A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults. - Charles Kingsley

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

GLBT Issue Lists & Speakers

Great Lists and how to get them

* Safe Schools Coalition - all-around GREAT list!, local, state and US:, click on "LISTSERVE" on the bar on the left side.


* GLSEN Puget Sound for the Puget Sound region; King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties:

* Seattle Young People's Project / Queer Youth Rights: Updates by Email: Enter your email address to be added to the SYPP listserve

Seattle LGBT Community Center: - Top box, Add me to the Center's Weekly Events Email List

Seattle Out And Proud Announcement List (Pride):

Marriage Equality Now:

Washington State

* GLSEN Washington - List is called WA State GSA Network:

Washington Won't Discriminate
- Washington Won't Discriminate is not running their list now, but will start it up in the future, if necessary.

* Equal Rights Washington - Weekly update on equal rights in Washington State. Paste or type your email address into the box on the top left - Join or Donate to ERW: GET UPDATES, TAKE ACTION!:

* Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington:

Religious Coalition for Equality: - Blue bar on left, Send me updates and alerts.

ACLU Washington: - Upper right-hand corner, Sign up for the ACLU-WA Email Activist Network. (Speaker's Bureau listed under Resources tab)


Youth Guardian Services runs great e-mail support lists for glbtq youth, in three age groups: YOUTH13-17, YOUTH17-21, YOUTH21-25, and the STR8 list, for straight ally youth under 25:

* PFLAG National Weekly Updates:, Subscribe to the Weekly Update now!. This is the official PFLAG list.

* Wonderful unofficial PFLAG list, PFLAG-talk:

* PFLAG also has a Safe Schools list, pflagschools:

Human Rights Campaign: - Top left, Stay Informed: Your email here

Lambda Legal: - on the right, Sign up for our eNews

* Freedom to Marry's Bi-monthly E-Update:

Don't - Left-hand top: Join Email List

* Lists to which I subscribe.

Speakers Bureau Contacts:

You do things again and again, and nothing happens. You have to do things, do things, do things. You have to light that match, light that match, light that match, not knowing how often it's going to sputter and go out and at what point it's going to take hold. Things take a long time. It requires patience, but not a passive patience -- the patience of activism. - Howard Zinn

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Euston Manifesto

I signed this manifesto, after reading it on Tom Head's blog, which is part of the Jackson Free Press. Be warned -- this is long. It has to be long, to be clear and complete. Once you are done reading it, don't forget to SIGN IT.
A. Preamble

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the "blogosphere". It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere - in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. It inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites that are behind this call for a progressive realignment.

B. Statement of principles

1) For democracy.
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures - freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.

2) No apology for tyranny.
We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy - regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3) Human rights for all.
We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

4) Equality.
We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations - as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality, but we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights. The universal adoption of the International Labour Organization Conventions - now routinely ignored by governments across the globe - is a priority for us. We are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalized abuse.

5) Development for freedom.
We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation. The current expansion of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates in developing countries. The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to achieve these goals, and we support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History. Development can bring growth in life-expectancy and in the enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day. It can bring freedom to youth, possibilities of exploration to those of middle years, and security to old age. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for travel, and helps make strangers into friends. Global development must be pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth.

6) Opposing anti-Americanism.
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

7) For a two-state solution.
We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

8) Against racism.
For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of "anti-Zionism". We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.

9) United against terror.
We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

10) A new internationalism.
We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law - in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the "common life" of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect".

11) A critical openness.
Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

12) Historical truth.
In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

13) Freedom of ideas.
We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas - even whole bodies of ideas - to which others are committed. This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting.

14) Open source.
As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders. The open source model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open source collaboration have served human progress for centuries.

15) A precious heritage.
We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out, none left behind. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total - unquestionable or unquestioning - truth.

C. Elaborations

We defend liberal and pluralist democracies against all who make light of the differences between them and totalitarian and other tyrannical regimes. But these democracies have their own deficits and shortcomings. The battle for the development of more democratic institutions and procedures, for further empowering those without influence, without a voice or with few political resources, is a permanent part of the agenda of the Left.

The social and economic foundations on which the liberal democracies have developed are marked by deep inequalities of wealth and income and the survival of unmerited privilege. In turn, global inequalities are a scandal to the moral conscience of humankind. Millions live in terrible poverty. Week in, week out, tens of thousands of people - children in particular - die from preventable illnesses. Inequalities of wealth, both as between individuals and between countries, distribute life chances in an arbitrary way.

These things are a standing indictment against the international community. We on the Left, in keeping with our own traditions, fight for justice and a decent life for everyone. In keeping with those same traditions, we have also to fight against powerful forces of totalitarian-style tyranny that are on the march again. Both battles have to be fought simultaneously. One should not be sacrificed for the other.

We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11, 2001 were America's deserved comeuppance, or "understandable" in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that.

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted - rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi "insurgency". The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.

Vandalism against synagogues and Jewish graveyards and attacks on Jews themselves are on the increase in Europe. "Anti-Zionism" has now developed to a point where supposed organizations of the Left are willing to entertain openly anti-Semitic speakers and to form alliances with anti-Semitic groups. Amongst educated and affluent people are to be found individuals unembarrassed to claim that the Iraq war was fought on behalf of Jewish interests, or to make other "polite" and subtle allusions to the harmful effect of Jewish influence in international or national politics - remarks of a kind that for more than fifty years after the Holocaust no one would have been able to make without publicly disgracing themselves. We stand against all variants of such bigotry.

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of "rendition", must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by certain left and liberal voices.

D. Conclusion

It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic "anti-imperialism" and/or hostility to the current US administration. The values and goals which properly make up that agenda - the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression - are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.

Notes for media
Solely for legal reasons this document is ©Norman Geras 2006. It will be made available under a Creative Commons licence.

The Euston Manifesto Group

Norman Geras, Emeritus Professor of Politics, Manchester University, normblog;
Damian Counsell, Director, Bioinformatics.Org, PooterGeek;
Alan Johnson, Editor, Democratiya, and Reader in Social Science, Edge Hill;
Shalom Lappin, Professor of Computational Linguistics, King's College London;
Jane Ashworth, Director of Engage;
Dave Bennett;
Brian Brivati, Professor of Modern History, Kingston University;
Adrian Cohen, Unite Against Terror;
Nick Cohen, journalist;
Anthony Cox, Black Triangle;
Neil Denny, Little Atoms;
Paul Evans;
Paul Gamble, Engage;
Eve Garrard, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele University;
Harry Hatchet, Harry's Place;
David Hirsh, Editor of Engage, Lecturer, Sociology, Goldsmiths College;
Dan Johnson, Muscular Liberals;
Hak Mao, [link];
Gary Kent, Director, Labour Friends Of Iraq (signing in a personal capacity);
Jon Pike, Chair of Engage, Senior Lecturer - Philosophy, Open University;
Simon Pottinger, Unite Against Terror;
Andrew Regan, Bloggers4Labour founder (signing in a personal capacity);
Alexandra Simonon, Managing Editor, Engage;
Richard Sanderson, Little Atoms;
David T, Harry's Place;
Philip Spencer, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University;
Will @ A General Theory Of Rubbish

Other signers

Joe Bailey, (Prof.) Head of School of Social Science, Kingston University
Ophelia Benson, Deputy Editor, The Philosophers' Magazine
Paul Berman
Pamela Bone, journalist, Melbourne
Robert Borsley, Professor of Linguistics, University of Essex
Michael Brennan, Department of Sociology, Warwick University
Mitchell Cohen, City University of New York; co-editor of Dissent
Marc Cooper, The Nation
Thomas Cushman, Editor of The Journal of Human Rights
Heather Deegan, Reader in Comparative Politics at Middlesex University
Luke Foley,
Marko Attila Hoare,
Quintin Hoare,
Anthony Julius,
Oliver Kamm, blogger, journalist and author
Sunder Katwala, General Secretary, Fabian Society (in a personal capacity)
Jeffrey Ketland, Edinburgh University
Mary Kreutzer, Austrian political scientist, WADI Austria , and editor of the human rights-journal LIGA
John Lloyd, The Financial Times
Kanan Makiya,
Jim Nolan, barrister, Sydney
Will Parbury, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Fylde 2005
Thomas Schmidinger, Assistant Lecturer for Political Science (Vienna University), WADI Austria
George Szirtes, Poet
Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; co-editor of Dissent
Bert Ward, Advisory Editor, Democratiya
Jeff Weintraub, University of Pennysylvania
Francis Wheen, journalist and writer
Sami Zubaida, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck College, London

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. - Thomas Edison

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New York Marriage Decision: Homophobia Runs Deep

by Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
I never expected New York’s high court to rule for us on marriage. For a lot of solid legal reasons, New York was never in the first tier for marriage test case litigation and I distinctly remember having the unpleasant task 10 years ago of dissuading couples from going to court to press the issue.

So when I read the summary Friday morning — that the state constitution doesn’t require the recognition of same-sex marriage — I expected the body of the decision to be scholarly and well-reasoned. I also expected that it would express sympathy for the real discrimination and hardships gay and lesbian couples face and that it would very likely urge the Legislature to act to address these injustices.
Boy, was I wrong. The opinion was more than poorly written, illogical and insulting to any legal mind, it was plainly homophobic and a prime example of the failure of too many allegedly thinking straight people — in this case judges — to grasp that we are fully and equally human.

Sentences like:

“Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like.” (When a judge has to resort to “intuition and experience” rather than legal precedent and fact, you know you’re in deep trouble.)

“The Legislature could find that unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples, and thus that promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships will help children more.” (In other words, straight people need marriage more than we do because they can “become parents as a result of accident or impulse.” Score one for the gays?)

I could go on, but you get the point.

Relying on stereotyping (always a bad thing to do), one would be tempted to think this kind of crap could only be written by some upstate, right-wing political hack with no experience with gay people.

Wrong again. The author grew up in Manhattan and attended Stanford and Columbia. He clerked for Constance Baker Motley, a colleague of Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP and a solidly progressive judge. And get this: He teaches Sunday school at a church that is one of the nation’s most “welcoming and affirming” of gay people, where gay people are part and parcel of everything that happens, including the Sunday school program.

So how did this happen? The same way our parents, brothers and sisters, co-workers and friends can blithely vote for homophobic candidates and even anti-marriage constitutional amendments. The same way so many “decent” people feel no compunction about loudly guffawing at a joke about gay people. (Remember the joke industry Brokeback Mountain created?) The same way an elected official who’s been married for 30 years will look you in the eye, year after year, and say, “I’m behind you 100 percent but I need to be educated about this whole marriage issue.”

Bottom line: So many people who should know better, don’t. They do not get us, our lives or our love. In sum, they do not view us as fully or equally human.

It’s not all their fault, either. So many of us assume that because people know we’re gay, invite us over to dinner, thought Will & Grace was hysterical, comment on our lawns or welcome our partners home for the holidays.

Wrong, yet again. The reality is that most of us have never had a serious conversation about our lives with straight people close to us. (Case in point: I’ve been out to my parents for 26 years but I didn’t ask them to actually do something — like write a legislator — until three years ago.) People are astonished to find out that anti-gay discrimination is still legal in 33 states. They don’t believe you can be denied hospital visitation or control over the remains of someone you’ve been with for 50 years.

And equally important, they’re not going to stand up for us — at the polls, when they hear an ugly joke, or even when writing a legal opinion — unless we tell them why it’s essential and ask them to. Person to person, heart to heart. That needs to be our challenge and mission every day of the year.

As for the New York marriage opinion, the only good news is that the decision is so pathetic we won’t need to worry about thoughtful judges in other states relying on it — they’d be too embarrassed. And that’s exactly the way the majority of the New York Court of Appeals should feel the rest of their lives.
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection which is noblest, second, by imitation, which is easiest, and third, by experience, which is the bitterest. - Confucius

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Have a great Independence Day!

Thanks to Matt of Equality MySpace for this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

~ Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bush on the FMA, Corrected & Annotated

Remarks of President Bush on the Marriage Protection Amendment

Corrected and Annotated by Mark Agrast, Sam Berger and Brodie Butland

Center for American Progress

June 5, 2006
Thank you all. Please be seated.

Good afternoon and welcome to the White House. It is a pleasure to be with so many fine community leaders, scholars, family organizations, religious leaders, Republicans, Democrats, independents. Thank you all for coming.

You come from many backgrounds and faith traditions, yet united in this common belief: Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization and it should not be redefined by activist judges.

FACT: Marriage is not being redefined by "activist judges." As a new Cato Report by Professor Dale Carpenter notes, "The 'threat' from courts is more imagined than real." Only one state has adopted same-sex marriage as a result of a court decision; 45 states have barred same-sex marriage by various means. The question isn't whether "activist judges" should redefine marriage, but whether the states should have the opportunity to settle this matter in their own fashion, without federal interference.

You are here because you strongly support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And I am proud to stand with you.

FACT: Clearly this is not a representative group. Recent polling shows that the country is closely divided over whether to support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. In fact, a June 4th ABC News poll found that only 42% of the public supports such an amendment.

This week, the Senate begins debate on the Marriage Protection Amendment. And I call on the Congress to pass this amendment, send it to the states for ratification, so we can take this issue out of the hands of overreaching judges and put it back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people.

FACT: A constitutional amendment would not put power back "in the hands of the American people"; it would all but permanently remove the issue from the democratic process by preventing states from allowing same-sex marriage if they choose to do so. As conservative scholar Bruce Fein states, "[The Federal Marriage Amendment] precludes legislative bodies from recognizing same-sex unions irrespective of majority sentiments."

The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution.

FACT: This is certainly true. But it is not an argument for denying gay and lesbian Americans the opportunity to participate in that institution.

For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that marriage is critical to the well-being of families. And because families pass along values and shape character, marriage is also critical to the health of society.

Our policy should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them.

FACT: There is no reason to believe-nor has any evidence been produced-that allowing people to marry who cannot now do so would "undermine" or have any other discernable effect on the families of those who are currently permitted to marry. On the other hand, denying gay men and lesbians the ability to marry does undermine their families.

And changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure.

FACT: There is no reason to believe-nor has any evidence been produced-that allowing gay men and lesbians to marry would have any effect on the "family structure." There have been no reputable studies showing that the legalization of same-sex marriage has any adverse effect on family integrity, child welfare or societal well-being.

America is a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. In this country, people are free to choose how they live their lives.

FACT: People should be free to choose how they live their lives, including choosing whom they wish to marry. As Vice President Dick Cheney said in opposing a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, "freedom means freedom for everybody."

In our free society, decisions about as fundamental a social institution as marriage should be made by the people.

FACT: Absolutely. But the amendment would prevent this from happening. The decision should be made by the people of each state through the normal democratic process.

The American people have spoken clearly on this issue through their elected representatives and at the ballot box.

FACT: They have indeed. Eighteen states have enacted their own constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, and additional states are considering them. So why do we need a federal amendment? As Senator John McCain said, "[the proposed federal amendment] usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

In 1996, Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act by large bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate, and President Clinton signed it into law.

FACT: That's why the Marriage Protection Amendment is superfluous. Former representative Bob Barr, the author of the Defense of Marriage Act, strongly opposes the amendment as unnecessary and an affront to federalism.

And since then, 19 states have held referendums to amend their state constitutions to protect the traditional definition of marriage.

In every case, the amendments were approved by decisive majorities, with an average of 71 percent.

FACT: The enactment of these amendments demonstrates how unnecessary it is for opponents of same-sex marriage to tamper with the federal Constitution.

Today, 45 of the 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or a statute defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

These amendments and laws express a broad consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage. The people have spoken.

FACT: These amendments and laws indicate that a majority of the people oppose same-sex marriage, not that they favor a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Indeed, on that question the public is evenly divided. Moreover, majority opposition to same-sex marriage continues to shrink. Before we convert the wishes of a transitory majority into a permanent amendment to our Constitution, we should be sure that the proposed change will stand the test of time.

Unfortunately, this consensus is being undermined by activist judges and local officials who have struck down state laws protecting marriage and made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage.

Since 2004, state courts in Washington and California and Maryland and New York have ruled against marriage laws. Last year a federal judge in Nebraska overturned a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, an amendment that was approved by 70 percent of the

FACT: The cases in Washington, California, Maryland and New York are all lower court decisions. The Nebraska case, Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, is the only case in which a state marriage amendment has been overturned, and that case is under appeal. The court invalidated the amendment because it was drafted so broadly that it would have prohibited every type of same-sex relationship, not just same-sex marriage.

And at this moment, nine states face lawsuits challenging the marriage laws they have on the books.

FACT: Not one of these states has been forced to recognize same-sex marriage. Why enact a constitutional amendment to address a problem that does not exist?

Some argue that defining marriage should be left to the states. The fact is, state legislatures are trying to address this issue.

FACT: State legislatures are not simply trying to address the issue, they are succeeding. Forty five states have banned same-sex marriage, two have created civil unions, four states and the District of Columbia have created some form of domestic partnership laws, and the California legislature has passed legislation allowing for same-sex marriage, although it was vetoed by the governor.

But across the country, they are being thwarted by activist judges who are overturning the express will of their people. And these court decisions could have an impact on our whole nation.

The Defense of Marriage Act declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. If that act is overturned by the courts, then marriage recognized in one city or state may have to be recognized as marriages everywhere else.

FACT: There is no reason to think that the Defense of Marriage Act will be overturned, and there are no cases in which challenges to the law have been upheld. In fact, the only two courts that have considered challenges to DOMA have upheld it.

That would mean that every state would have to recognize marriage as redefined by judges in, say, Massachusetts or local officials in San Francisco, no matter what their own state laws or their state constitutions say.

FACT: It is inconceivable that the current Supreme Court would invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. But even if this were to occur, the duty to give "Full Faith and Credit" to marriages contracted in another state is subject to a "public policy" exception that has always permitted states to refuse to recognize such marriages. The exception would certainly permit states to continue to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages if they choose to do so.

This national question requires a national solution.

FACT: Marriage has never been a "national question." It has always been governed by state law, and should remain so.

And on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come not from the courts but from the people of the United States.

FACT: The solution should come from the people through the normal democratic process. It should not be set in stone by a transient majority.

An amendment to the Constitution is necessary because activist courts have left our nation with no other choice.

FACT: The Marriage Protection Amendment is a solution in search of a problem. Only one state has adopted same-sex marriage as a result of a court decision. Since other states do not have to recognize such marriages, this is hardly an emergency requiring the extraordinary remedy of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution: the only law a court cannot overturn.

FACT: An amendment to the Constitution should always be a last resort. There is certainly no need for one here. While one lower federal court has called into question the validity of a state constitutional amendment in Nebraska, that decision is being appealed. Meanwhile, state constitutional amendments all over the country appear to be on firm ground.

The constitutional amendment that the Senate will consider this week would fully protect marriage from being redefined.

It will leave state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

FACT: The Defense of Marriage Act allows states to create their own definition of marriage. The Marriage Protection Amendment would change this by imposing a uniform definition on the states. The language of the amendment is unclear as to whether the amendment would permit the state legislatures to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

A constitutional amendment is the most democratic process by which our country can resolve this issue.

FACT: The most democratic process by which our country can resolve this issue is the normal one in which the people of individual states can debate and consider their own solutions.

In their wisdom, our founders set a high bar for amending the Constitution: An amendment must be approved by two-thirds of the House and the Senate and then ratified by three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.

This process guarantees that every state legislature and every community in our nation will have a voice and a say in deciding this issue.

FACT: Since the consent of only three-fourths of the states is required, the amendment could become law over the objections of some of the most populous states in our nation, including California, New York and Illinois. States that have chosen to extend the right to marry to their
gay and lesbian citizens could have their decision negated, and marriage defined for their citizens, by the residents of other states.

A constitutional amendment would not take this issue away from the states, as some have argued. It would take the issue away from the courts, and put it directly before the American people.

FACT: A constitutional amendment would override state decisions, whether they are made by courts, legislatures, or popular referenda, and it would be virtually impossible to reconsider.

As this debate goes forward, every American deserves to be treated with tolerance and respect and dignity.

FACT: No American is treated with respect and dignity by this amendment, which not only demeans gay and lesbian citizens but shows contempt for the ability of the people to rightly decide this issue for themselves through the democratic process.

On an issue of this great significance, opinions are strong and emotions run deep. And all of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another.

FACT: Civility and decency are not served by a discriminatory constitutional amendment introduced as a political ploy in an election year. As First Lady Laura Bush said, "I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously."

All people deserve to have their voices heard, and a constitutional amendment will ensure that they are heard.

FACT: A constitutional amendment will silence the voices of millions of Americans today and those of generations to come.

I appreciate you taking an interest in this fundamental issue. It's an important issue for our country to debate and to resolve. And the best way to resolve this issue is through a constitutional amendment, which I strongly support.

God bless.
Victory belongs to the most persevering. - Napoleon Bonaparte