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Posts Tagged ‘Gay Agenda’

The topic for this Wednesday 02-09-2011 is AIDS Humor. What is appropriate and funny and what is not appropriate and offensive? Who is allowed to tell AIDS jokes? What is appropriate humor for our website?

This should be a fun and funny meeting
-Steve

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December 19, 2010

Yesterday the Senate joined the House in voting to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It will now go to the President’s desk to be signed. This law will be regulated to the dust heap of history. Gays will now be allowed to serve in the military openly. I rejoiced and toasted the repeal, but my mind turned to a different age, a different time and a different cause.

I turned 18 in the middle of the Vietnam War. It was a period of time when men were being drafted to serve in a war that many of us felt was unjust. It was a scary period of time. Boys were coming home dismembered or in a coffin, and for no good reason. Boys like me. Or if we were lucky, we just killed some of the “enemy” and then came home. The though of hunting and killing animals nauseates me, let alone hunting and killing people. The thought of that at 18, terrified me. It terrifies me now, but I had an out. I was homosexual. If I was drafted, my plan was to come out, loud and clear. My boyfriend at the time, was drafted and got out of service that way. He told the soldier at the draft board he was gay, the day he was being shipped to boot camp. It was his last resort. And he verified his homosexuality by offering the guy a blow job. You had to prove you were gay then. It was a different world.

My how the world twists and changes. Today, we’re involved in a war that many feel are unjust, but there’s no draft. People serve because they want to. Or maybe because they have no other job opportunities. But there is no sense of avoiding service like there was when I was military age. So now people are fighting to serve rather than to avoid service. We could say that’s generational, but I suspect it has a lot more to do with not having a military draft.

As I listen to my friends cheer the repeal of DADT, my feelings were ‘So what? How does this affect me?” I’m happy for those gay men and women in the military who are affected, but my emotions are mixed. I remember the agony of the Vietnam conflict, coffins and the emotions of that long ago time.

But this repeal does affect me. It affects all gay men and women. The military is an institution that is a pillar of our society. Both political parties worship the men and women who give service to our country. When our people (gays) are allowed into that institution openly, it sends a message out to EVERYONE that being gay IS acceptable, whether they personally like it or not.

And that’s good public relations for gays . It brings the gay agenda of equality into the living rooms of all Americans, not just the ones who are already on our side and convinced that equality under the law is the right thing to do. This brings the issue into the homes of people who vehemently oppose us. And make no mistake, they will be talking about us. But the tide of history is on our side, just as it is for women, blacks and other minorities. Freedom is for everyone. Marriage equality will follow this much sooner and all gays will all benefit from having achieved these milestones, whether you want to join the military or get married. Being gay will be more acceptable. Coming out of the closet will be much easier so that someday there the closet might be old fashioned concept.

We need to give credit where credit is due. We want to thank the 6 Republican Senators who bucked their party and voted with us. But we must remember, this victory occurred because Democrats controlled the House, Senate and Presidency. It would never have happened under a Republican controlled House, Senate or Presidency. It could not happen next year when Republicans take control of the House. It would not have happened three years ago under a Republican President, who would not have signed this bill. Sadly, one party supports our equal rights and one party views us as outcasts, second class citizens at best, unworthy of the equal treatment that was the founding principle of this country. You ask why I support the Democratic party. This is your answer. I support those who support me, support us.

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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal Passes Senate, But Change Will Take Time
After months of fits and starts, a bill repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the ban against gays serving openly in the military, passed the Senate 65 to 31 on Saturday.

Eight Republicans — Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and George Voinovich of Ohio — joined 57 members of the Democratic caucus in support of the historic measure. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) did not vote Saturday, but released a statement saying he could not support repeal “at this time.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, framed the issue as a civil rights imperative, calling the ban on gays in the military “inconsistent with basic American values.”

“To force the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on the military is to force them to be less than they want to be — and less than they can be,” Lieberman said Saturday. “These people simply want to serve their country.” Under the Clinton-era policy, armed services members are expected to keep their sexual orientation private, with the promise that recruiters and officers will not delve into their personal lives.

President Obama applauded the Senate and said “thousands of patriotic Americans” would no longer have to “live a lie” to serve in the military.

During the debate Saturday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was alarmed by the number of Arabic and Farsi linguists who had been discharged under the policy at a time the military needs them most, noting that nearly 10,000 of the 14,000 men and women forced out since 1993 were language specialists.

“I don’t care who you love. If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you should be able to serve as you are,” Wyden said. “Today the Senate has the opportunity to be on the right side of history. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a wrong that should never have been perpetrated.”
Related Stories
End of Military Gay Ban Is Pivotal Moment in History
Eight Republicans Vote to Repeal
Gays in the Military: Still Illegal For Time Being

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testified that lifting the DADT policy would likely have only a limited impact on the services. They said they preferred congressional action — which would give the military some time to implement the change — to a judicial decision, which would alter the policy immediately.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, cited that testimony, as well as the results of a Pentagon study on implementing the change, as the reasons he believed ending the policy that bans gays from serving openly is the right thing to do.

“The final report of a working group concluded that changing the policy would present a low risk to the military’s effectiveness, even during a time of war, and that 70 percent believe it would be positive, mixed or no effect,” Levin said. “The troops told us that what matters is doing the job.”

But several Republicans on the Armed Services panel disagreed with Levin and stood up Saturday to vocally oppose changing the policy.

Sen. John McCain, a former Navy flier and POW during the Vietnam war, had filibustered the repeal bill throughout the year. Yet he said he was resigned to the fact that it would pass an earlier test vote Saturday.

But McCain (R-Ariz.) said he remained convinced that repealing the ban would cost American lives.

“I understand the other side’s argument about their social political agenda, but to somehow argue that [‘don’t ask, don’t tell’] has harmed our military is not consistent with the facts,” he said.

Although McCain said he was confident that the military will comply with a change in the law, he warned that troops will be put at greater risk as a result. “They will do what is asked of them, but don’t think it won’t be at great cost,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a JAG officer in the Air Force Reserves, excoriated the bill’s proponents for pushing forward with the change when the military is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You care more about politics…than you care about governing this country,” Graham said.

Now that the bill has passed the House and Senate, it goes to Obama to be signed into law some time next week.

But a change in the law will not automatically change the policy. Rather, the bill stipulates that the policy will only be discarded after the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that changing it will not hurt the armed services’ readiness, morale or cohesion. After a 60-day review by Congress, the Pentagon is to develop procedures for ending it altogether, a process that could take months or years to complete.

Sen. Levin said he would be watching the military carefully as the certification and implementation process moves forward. But he could not yet say how long would be too long.

“I just think we’ll know it when we see it,” Levin told Politics Daily. “But right now we’ve got to just be optimistic and be confident, particularly with these leaders.” Levin credited Mullen’s early support of repeal for giving the legislative process momentum when it needed it most.

“I don’t have any doubt that he is going to be pushing this quickly and at the appropriate speed and in the appropriate way,” Levin said. “This is a totally doable deal.”

Sen. Collins told Politics Daily that she expects it to take months, not years, but said that the military needs time to create and hold training sessions for servicemembers and to work through any issues associated with the implementation.

But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), an early advocate for repeal this year, said Congressional passage of the bill makes one immediate change in military policy.

“No one will be dismissed under this policy ever again,” she said.

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Today is the time to vote and make your voice heard. This is the day when we are all equals. Every vote counts the same whether you are a billionaire or bankrupt. It’s important to take part in this process.

If you don’t know who to vote for, check out the Voter Guide from Florida Equality.

In late news, Charlie Christ has stated that he will caucus with Democrats if he wins.

So go vote.

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The topic for this Wednesday 11-03-2010 is ‘Accepting Change’. Tuesday is election day and we are going to be faced with change that some of us are going to be unhappy about. This is not the first time in our lives that we’ve been faced with change that we might not like, and it’s not going to be the last time either. Learning how to accept change and deal with it in an approporiate and healthy manner is a fundamental cofactor of survival.

Come join us in this discussion.

-Steve

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Someone asked me what do all the letters stand for? To paraphrase James Stockdale (Ross Perot’s 1992 VP running mate) who started and ended his political career with this sentence; “Who am I and why am I here?”, Who are we and how did we get here? Is it GLBT or LGBT? What does QIA stand for? And why are some people changing our name to Pride or even Queer?

As usual, politics is heavily involved in these decisions. GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender. The Q usually stands for Questioning, but sometimes Queer and sometimes we have QQ to represent both. The I stands for Intersex where the biological sex of male or female cannot be clearly defined. Historically, this once was referred to as Hermaphrodite as someone that had both male and female genitalia. The A stands for Allies, as in straight people that support us.

So, who comes first, G or L? Maybe this article from DC’s center will explain the politics behind this change.

Once you start segmenting the community into letters, you end up with a dispute over which letter comes first. This has caused some GLBT-LGBTQIA community centers to rebrand themselves under an all-inclusive word such as Queer. This doesn’t really solve the problem either because many people in the community are put off because they feel that word is offensive. It is, but the logic is by embracing that word, we desensitize it.

Here in Ft Lauderdale, we’ve avoided that political battle by becoming The Pride Center. That works as long as people don’t confuse us with The Pride Institute, Pride Factory, Pride Mortgage, or call us to clean their carpets thinking we are Pride Carpet Cleaning.

We could pick a non-offensive word that’s all all-inclusive, such as “Gay”. But proposing that would make my career as an activist as short-lived as James Stockdale’s political career.

What do you think?

-Steve

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In September, 4 Gay teenagers committed suicide. Last week at the Wednesday night group, we discussed that those teenagers didn’t committ suicide because they were Gay, but because they felt other people wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t accept them because of that. Many of us shared our own expereinces and fears of coming out and the reactions other people would have. The question was raised, how can we accept our HIV-status if we still can’t fully accept our homosexuality. The psychological aspects of learning to accept being both Gay and HIV Positive may take on an added dimension in people who were infected with HIV sexually.

October didn’t bring any better news. In New York, eight gang members were arrested in the torture of two teenage boys and a man in an anti-gay attack. The victims were burned, beat, tortured for hours and sodomized with baseball bats and the wooden handle of a plunger.

Some of our leaders still just don’t get it. A week AFTER those attacks, in New York, where those attacks took place, the NY Republican candidate for Governor, Carl Paladino was still making anti-Gay remarks; “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option – it isn’t” His written address went even furthur “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual” and being homosexual “is not how God created us.”

Personally, I didn’t choose to be Gay anymore than I chose my race or ancestory.

When politicians hold these beliefs is it any wonder that gang members feel it’s ok to burn, beat torture and sodomize people they feel are threats. They’re just doing physically what Carl Paladino was doing verbally. They’re marginalizing homosexuals. They’re marginalizing us, you and I. I guarantee you that if those gang members were upset with those teenager for being Gay, they would have less sympathy for us being Gay and HIV Positive. And I guarantee you that as Governor, Carl Paladino will have no sympathy.

I suspect that we will continue to hear stories like this next month and the month after that. But there is a difference today. Today is Coming out day and there is going to be a candelight vigil. The Pride Center and Sunshine Cathedral are co-sponsoring this event. Today is your opportunity to stand up in a dignified manner and denounce those gang members and the political thought that we, you and I, are not dysfunctional homosexuals. We don’t accept being marginalized and most importantly we accept and embrace ourselves, just as we are.

If you’re angry, about the suicides, about the beatings and about those political ideas, then join me and The Group at the Sunshine Cathedral on 1480 SW 9th Ave at 7:30 PM tonight.

-Steve

On Monday, Paladino soften, yet reaffirmed his position. Asked about the “brainwashed” remark, he said that comment had “to do with schooling children. My feelings on homosexuality are unequivocal. I have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. My only reservation is marriage.”

And yet he went on to say that “children should not be exposed to that at a young age. They don’t understand this. It’s a very difficult thing. And exposing them to homosexuality, especially at a Gay Pride parade, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other. It’s just a terrible thing.”

So is it just marriage you’re opposed to or the fact that homosexuals have Gay Pride parades that might expose children? Make up your mind.

“Mr. Paladino’s statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality,” Vlasto said in a statement. “These comments along with other views he has espoused make it clear that he is way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York.”

Caputo disagreed. “The majority of New Yorkers agree with him,” he said of Paladino’s views on homosexuals and gay rights.

Polls have shown 58 percent of New Yorkers favor gay marriage, which Paladino says he opposes. Polls have also shown Cuomo expanding his lead on Paladino after the gap had closed last month to six points.

Paladino’s own personal life has been an issue in the campaign. He has raised charges about Cuomo’s sex life that he now admits are unsubstantiated, while Paladino is married but has a 10-year-old daughter from an affair with a former employee of his. He has also admitted to sending out obscene and racist e-mails.

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Florida Gay-Straight Network

Fort Lauderdale: Monday, October 11 – 7:30PM

-As participants in the Nationwide call for Vigils and Marches for LGBT Suicide Victims & Anti-Gay Bullying Initiatives, The Pride Center at Equality Park and the Sunshine Cathedral (a Metropolitan Community Church affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity) are collaborating to present a community-wide event scheduled for October 11, 2010 at 7:30PM to be held at the Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 SW 9th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Your presence and prayers can make a powerful statement.

The Group is going to be there. Come out to support Coming Out.

-Steve

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The topic this Wednesday 10-06-2010 is: Where Does Hope Go.

Last month four USA teenagers committed suicide. Where did their hope go? I ask this question from this sermon; We Will not be Silent.

Have you ever felt this low for being Gay? How did you get over it? How do you feel about being Gay? Do you tolerate it? Accept it? or Embrace it? Do you like being Gay?

-Steve

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This was the message we heard this Sunday at MCC on 10-03-2010:

We Will Not Be Silent

by Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

When I was in college as an undergraduate, my friends and I…also known as the Theatre Department…formed a sort of cult…our highest ritual was to watch the Big Chill. We knew all the lines, and we took great pride in reciting them along with the characters in the film.

The film begins with the funeral of a man named Alex. Alex had tragically taken his own life. His friends from college came from all over to attend the funeral and they had a sort of reunion in his honor. The rest of the film is about that reunion. But the film begins with the funeral, and at the funeral an unnamed country parson says very simply of Alex’s death, “It makes me angry and I don’t know what to do with my anger. Where did Alex’s hope go?”

I think of that film today because you see, last month, 4…FOUR teens, that we know of, took their lives because they were bullied, harassed, tormented because they were perceived to be gay.

15 year old Billy Lucas hanged himself on September the 9th.

13 year old Seth Walsh was removed from life-support 10 days after he hanged himself. He died Sept. 19th.

13 year old Asher Brown took his step-father’s handgun and shot himself on Sept. 23rd.

The day before that, 18 year old college freshman Tyler Clements leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge…the bridge in my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan connecting New Jersey to New York.

Tyler was filmed sharing what he must have believed to be a private moment of intimacy with someone until he realized that his sensual encounter had been posted on the Internet for the entire world to see.

The three younger boys had each been traumatized by their peers and classmates. They weren’t miserable because of who they were; they were miserable because of how people treated them for being who and what they were.

Such abuse makes me angry and I don’t know what to do with my anger.

Where did Billy’s hope go?

Where did Seth’s hope go?

Where did Asher’s hope go?

Where did Tyler’s hope go?

And where were people of faith when these boys were being tormented? You and I both know where many of them were…they were saying dehumanizing things about same-gender loving people, justifying their own fears and hatred by claiming that they were religious values, and turning a blind eye to or sometimes even encouraging the mistreatment of Queer youth. Where were people of faith? It is not entirely hyperbolic to say they were tightening the nooses and loading the gun and pushing a broken soul off a bridge.

Statistics are as grizzly as the anecdotal stories.

90% of Queer youth say they have been verbally harassed.

44% say they have been physically threatened.

22% have actually been physically assaulted.

60% believe that it is pointless to report such abuse because they just don’t believe adults will do anything to help protect them.

Where did their hope go? It was stolen from them, beaten out of them, shamed out of them, terrorized out of them.

Too many children, many of us in the room will remember, grew up either being bullied for being different, or being so afraid of being found out that we lived a lie for the sake our own safety. And then, we didn’t even believe that home would be a safe place if our truth was known, so we kept our secrets and the scars from our bullies hidden even from our families. We felt alone and afraid everywhere, all the time. No wonder in adulthood so many of us have formed families of choice that we cherish and value with all that we are…because those families are the first families we were able to let ourselves trust.

Well, I’ve got good news today for people of all ages and all gender identities and all ethnicities and all walks of life. And the good news is we’re here, Sunshine Cathedral is here, and we’re going to always be here. We open these doors week after week, this campus is full of activity every single day, we are on the Internet and in publications, we speak on college campuses and we meet with people every day and speak with people by phone and email encouraging them, answering their questions, praying for them. We live out loud as a thriving LBGT friendly community of faith. We dare to exist openly, unapologetically, proudly, and optimistically so that there will be a spiritual home for people to come to from their long wanderings in the wilderness of loneliness, fear, degradation, and despair.

Sometimes people will send me those charming emails chastising me for talking about the “gay thing.” If you were looking for a closet to worship in, you did not find it at 1480 SW Ninth Ave. Sometimes, from their own internalized homophobia people will say, “Why do we bring up these issues? Nobody cares anymore…We’re past that. Young people especially just don’t care about sexual orientation anymore.”

Well guess what? Asher Brown didn’t the memo. Tyler Clement didn’t realize that the crisis was over once and for all. Billy Lucas and Seth Walsh were somehow unaware that nobody judged gay people anymore…in fact, they seemed to have assumed that the people torturing them still had a problem with gays.

We used to say in the early days of AIDS and it remains true today, “Silence = Death” and my promise to you is that as long as I am the pastor of Sunshine Cathedral MCC we will NOT be silent in the face of these tragedies; we will not be silent as homophobic rhetoric continues to be vomited out of the mouths of preachers and politicians. We will not be silent as people are abused, ostracized, abandoned, targeted, and spiritually destroyed. We will not be silent because Silence = Death and the Galilean Prophet whom we follow and in whose name we minister said that he came to show us how to live more abundantly. We will not be silent.

As long as discrimination is written into state constitutions, as long as entire denominations uplift heterosexism and homohatred as religious values, as long as politicians run entire campaigns based on demonizing same-gender loving and gender variant people, we will not be silent because their hate speech is costing us the lives of our children. Conscience will not allow us to be silent…and so we will faithfully, passionately, even obnoxiously affirm the sacred value of all people and make heroic efforts to make sure that LBGT people know that they are, just as they are, children of an all-loving God! We will not be silent.

A week from tomorrow, Oct. 11 (National Coming Out Day), right here at 7:30 pm we are going to have a vigil for the teens who have lost their lives as a result of the cruelty of bullies…bullies on the playground, bullies in the dorm, bullies in the pulpit, and bullies on the political stump. We will let our light shine with hope that those who need it will see it and be drawn to it; we will speak out for those who have not yet found their voice. Please join us on Oct. 11th.

Metropolitan Community Churches were founded 42 years ago this month to provide a home to same-gender loving and gender variant people and those who love them. Our primary outreach has always been to the LBGT community and our allies…we are concerned with human rights in general, because all people are God’s people, but we were born to address the very issue that is still killing our youth. Our founder Troy Perry attempted suicide in the 1960s because he was so wounded by homohatred. But thank God he recovered from that suicide attempt and answered a divine call to start Metropolitan Community Churches so that people who have been hurt the way he had been hurt could have a place to hear and to know that they are what God created them to be and God loves them just as they are.

We are not passé, we are not old news, we are not done, we don’t have to water down our reason for existing and God forbid that we should ever try to water down our reason for existing. Four teenagers last month reminded us in the most horrifying ways that our presence, our ministry is as needed as it has ever been.

I’m going a little long, and I hope you’ll forgive me; but I need to say just two more things.

To the people who currently make up this congregation…the world needs you. The world needs Sunshine Cathedral. So many people still need a safe place where they can be loved into wholeness, have their dignity affirmed, and never once be told that who God created them to be is a mistake. The world needs gay and lesbian and straight and bisexual and transgender and questioning people working and worshiping together affirming the sacred value of all people. Your generous giving, the ministries you volunteer for, the people you invite into this place, the worship services you attend each week, the prayers you say for your church, and the good things you say about your church…these things will help us always be here for those who can’t yet even imagine that such a wonderful place exists just for them. If you have been distracted by anything less important, please come back to what matters today. Will you renew your commitment of time, talent, and treasure to Sunshine Cathedral and help us be all that the world needs us to be?

And to the people who are in this room or who may be watching us on the Internet, I have to say this: YOU, just as you are, have sacred value. YOU are a child of God. YOU have dignity and worth, and you add beauty and light to the world we share. Please don’t give up! There is joy to be had. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Don’t give up until you reach the morning of renewed hope and renewed joy.

Jesus said in the gospel today, “You could SAY to a mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.” You could SAY…you could speak up, speak out…and something amazing could happen. That’s what we are doing here today…that’s what we’ll always do at Sunshine Cathedral…we will speak up and speak out and expect and allow amazing things to happen. This is the good news. Amen.

© Durrell Watkins 2010

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