Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hate Crimes Bill in the US House

The the big talk in gay advocacy right now is centered on the passage of a gay-inclusive hate-crimes bill in the US House of Representatives. The legislation was inspired by the murder of Matthew Shepard 10 years ago. Long story short, he was lured by young men who pretended to be sexually interested in him, and then robbed, beaten, and left tied to a fence in the middle of nowhere. He was later found and brought to hospital, but did not survive.

The bill being debated is supposed to allow the federal government to assist in the prosecution of violent crimes based on sexual orientation (and disability, actually). Since this represents protection for gay people, many conservatives are flipping their lid. The most commonly touted argument is the claim that people who view homosexuality as immoral would be prosecuted for expressing their opinion. Of course, the bill explicitly targets violent crime only (AND Americans have the 1st Amendment that protects freedom of speech), but talk of gay rights tends to decrease some people's preoccupation with "truth" and "reality." ;)

There is another argument, however, that I take more seriously. That is disagreement with hate-crimes laws in general. The general argument goes: an old lady gets murdered, and a gay guy gets murdered because he's gay, but the murderer of the gay man gets a longer sentence--why is the gay man's life "worth" more?

There is some validity to this concern, but it's unfounded if we consider that perhaps there is an additional crime in the murder of the gay man, and I believe there is. This additional crime is a form of terrorism, in that murdering someone because of their sexual orientation sends a message to the queer community at large. That message is one of violence and intimidation towards a particular group of people, which I think falls within the definition of terrorism. That's why I think that additional penalties for people who commit "hate-crimes," but it has to be made clear that the additional punishment is for the act of intimidation and violence towards a greater community.

I would, of course, love to hear what everyone else thinks. :)

UPDATE: The bill includes gender identity as well

Progressive advertizing

I posted this on my FB page, but I thought I'd double it here. It features a trans-woman. In a positive way. That's pretty forward. But I really can't imagine this kind of ad being used in North America. But I certainly hope that someday it will be.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fantastic comeback

A little while ago, a terribly misleading video was released by an organisation called NOM. The video claimed that gay marriage would impinge on the rights of people of faith. All the claims that they make relate to situations that involve public money or accommodation, and thus do not fall into the category of religious persecution.

Now, tons of parodies of the ad have been made and posted on youtube. Some of them are actually pretty good, too. But this one, I think, is the best. It's not mocking, it's truthful. And the truth hurts...

An Illustration

For all those who wonder why marriage is important to LGBT couples. My favourite part:
Ten, even five years ago, people in my situation in Massachusetts would have faced prejudicial treatment in some of these interactions--in addition to having to deal with protracted legal issues because of being denied the right to be married--simply because marriage equality was an unknown, often feared, and that fear was exploited by our opponents for political gain. Coming of age in a time when AIDS felled so many so quickly, I was aware of far too many horrible, heart-wrenching stories in which the surviving partner was completely shut out and cast aside by next of kin. Now, we are legally next of kin. For all the wonderful things that marriage equality does for the living, it maintains our dignity in death.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cross-post...sorta: Gay Parenting

I've just not been in the blogging mood lately, probably because of my exam last week. I hope to pick things up again soon.

As a warm up, here's an article I wrote for our student paper:
Imagine my surprise when my gay med-student friend says to me “Yeah, but I don’t think gays should be having kids or adopting. Kids need a mom and a dad.”

Gay! Med student!

It’s surprising that misconceptions still exist about gay parenting even among the medical community. Of course, even though we’re all pretty fantastic people, I guess no one’s perfect, right?

Still, it seems like a logical premise. If two dudes are raising a kid, where will they get the female “mom” influence? Won’t they be more likely to be gay, or gender-confused? Turns out the answer is no. According to current research, kids raised by gay parents fit into normal gay-to-straight ratios. In fact, their development is indistinguishable from their peers raised by heterosexuals.

As far as the opposite-sex influence is concerned, one can easily apply the same logic to kids raised by single parents; just because they only have one gender parent doesn’t mean they don’t have aunties and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, and friends of both genders at school. The same goes for kids with two same sex parents (with the added benefit of having two parents instead of one!).

Gay parents have been found to be more involved with their childrens’ school life than heterosexual parents are, and have been shown to be exceptional parents even despite facing the additional stresses of discrimination. In fact, groups such as the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, who are kind of a big deal, agree that there is no evidence to suggest that gay parents are any less fit than their heterosexual counterparts.

My friend was surprised about these researched facts (and he did, in fact, want to see the evidence), but in the end I think he sees the logic of it. After all, as the AAP says: A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual.” Contrary to our pre-conceived notions of what type of family is “best,” kids raised by gay parents turn out just fine.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Comparison

All over the US, various bills are making their way through state or federal legislatures concerning the treatment of LGBT people. They are basically either non-discrimination, hate crimes or anti-bullying bills.

Regardless of one's opinions regarding the moral issues surrounding homosexuality/gender issues, the vast majority of people are of the opinion that LGBT people should not be subject to discrimination or violence.

That being said, many people still take issue with making it illegal to discriminate against LGBT's, even going so far as to oppose anti-bullying laws specifically for their LGBT-inclusive clauses. They cite their personal values of homosexuality as being immoral, against their religious convictions, etc.

In comparison, I am a firm non-believer in astrology. The whole "you're going to act a specific way because you were born on a day when the Earth was within a particular rotational angle" baffles me. In fact, I think it's not just a waste of time to give astrology any credence, I think it's a flagrant promotion of outright lies that serves no purpose other than to put money in the pockets of astrologers.

However, if it could be shown that Libras were frequently being denied housing because of their astrological sign, I would fully support legislation to ban such discrimination. If students in public schools were being subjected to verbal or physical harassment because they were born between May 20-June21, I would support legislation that would help keep them safe.

The reason is not because I give any credence to the signs of the zodiac, but rather because people who are systematically treated badly for illogical reasons deserve to be protected from that discrimination. Anti-gay activists should be aware that their positions suggest that by fighting these legislative efforts, they suggest that it is acceptable to dehumanize LGBT people. Meanwhile, supporting these efforts would in no way undermine their theological convictions.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Adoption Preferences

With the increasing acceptance of gay parents, more and more gay couples feel confident enough to raise children. This gives researchers a chance to get statistically sound data on trends among gay parents.

The most recent news to hit the interwebs concerns differences between hetero and gay couples with respect to gender preference in their adoptive children. The main finding was pretty in line with what I would have expected:

Dr. Goldberg found that many couples, irrespective of sexuality, had no preference for the gender of their adopted child. They were simply grateful to finally have a child and gender was insignificant in the context of their larger goal of becoming parents.

However, there were also some interesting discrepancies:
The most common reason for preferring boys among heterosexual women was an inexplicable desire for a son, whereas heterosexual men's preference for a son reflected patriarchal norms, including keeping the family name going and gender identity considerations i.e. their own masculine interests. When explaining their preference for a boy, lesbians most frequently mentioned their own atypical gender identities, including the fact that their own interests tended to be more masculine and tomboyish, whereas gay men most often highlighted that they felt more confident about their ability to raise and socialize boys.

Très cool. The idea of adoption grows on my mind every day, and a lot of the things said in the paragraph above resonate with me. Little girls are adorable, but I would be at a complete loss with regards to how to raise one...

'Course, I doubt I'll have to make any decisions soon. ;) You can find the article here.

Amazing Ruling

This is incredible. This is just breaking, but apparently the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional. Sa-weeeet!

In other news: I should have mentioned this yesterday. Congratulations to Sweden are in order too!