Radical Feminist Attacks on Transsexual/Transgender People: Cui Bono (Who Benefits?)

Right now we have the Christo-Fascists and the Ultra Right Wing waging an outrageous “War on Women” attacking their access to both abortion and contraception.  Indeed even attacking women’s right to vote.

We have this same band of Neo-Nazi/KKK types attacking the rights of LGBT/T people.

Lets leave aside all the racism and anti working people stuff.

Why has this dormant band of radical feminist thugs arisen like long undead vampires, coming out of their coffins to attack transsexual and transgender people?

Even when we are all uncomfortably lumped together in an ill defined group we are at best this tiny minority that is so fucking powerless that seeing a post-transsexual sister win legal arguments and get allowed in a beauty pageant feels like a victory to us.

How the fuck did we manage to become the world’s biggest problem/threat to feminism and women  when nearly half of us are unemployed or under employed?

Lumped together or even taking just post-op women and men, the groups arguably most accepted by the straights we still fall into the category Thurgood Marshall described as the “despised and dispossessed.”  Even if they put us together in a sort of ill defined class and view us as a whole, we are still pretty damned powerless.

So why are we suddenly the targets of this group of self proclaimed radical feminists?

Cui bono?  Who Benefits?

Isn’t it amazing how the last time these so called radical feminists went on a rampage attacking both transsexuals and sex positive women was during the late 1970s, when the right wing was waging another war on women?

For those of you too young to remember Phyllis Schlafly raised the specter of unisex bathrooms  “having men in the women’s rest room” as one reason to kill the Equal Rights Amendment.  The right wing used this sort of crap to rally women behind Reagan.

As a result Jimmy Carter, one of the most honest and decent men to ever serve as President, was defeated by that scumbag Reagan, whose policies have brought us to the point where we are in economic chaos.  Republican policies that totally ignored the looming disasters of Climate Change, Peak Oil and the end to growth.

What is happening now?

Who in their right mind would vote for any Republican unless they are part of the one percent?

Bigots will, racists will.

But the tide has shifted on marriage equality.  Hell, Obama became the first President or Presidential candidate to openly proclaim his support for marriage equality.

Many of these LGBT/T issues seem to just be a matter of time.  DADT is gone. Marriage Equality and an inclusive ENDA seem in line to follow.  None of this means an  end to struggle or an end to being a despised minority group but we are gaining the tools to fight discrimination.

One of the things that is forgotten about transsexuals in the Second Wave Feminist Movement is we were there.  Otherwise we wouldn’t have been targeted for attacks.

Just as there were sex positive Second Wave Feminists.

Cui bono?

Why now?

In spite of the endless game of “World of Transwarcraft” transsexuals and transgenders are actually getting along half way decently in both the LGBT movements and the feminist movements.  Hell, people are even learning that some of us prefer the transsexual label or variation on that theme and some prefer the transgender label.  That’s in the real world where people tend to show more respect for each other than they do while playing “World of Transwarcraft.”

Cui bono?

Who benefits from feminists being distracted from the Republican War on Women and the importance to all women to avoid having Republicans who will take away their reproductive rights take over the government.

Who benefits if women get sidetracked in to fighting over the imaginary threat of this small despised minority group having rights?

Stop me if you see a pattern.

Cui bono?

When Black people get suckered into voting for racists who use the N-word when they describe Obama, because it is more important to prevent gays and lesbians form marrying, than it is to prevent racists from taking over the government…

When working people and the poor are convinced by the one percent that the migrant worker who makes less than minimum wage is a bigger threat than the one percent who have raped the working people of this country and reduced them to virtual slavery…

Cui bono.

Who is behind this?

This is a fair question, not one that should cause the knee jerk accusation of paranoia.

Turns out there are all these ersatz grass roots groups out there taking funding from the ultra rich right wing.  They are organizing to disrupt progressive organizations as well as sucker people into voting against their best interests.

So I think it is a fair question to ask.

Who and what is behind this resurrection of  this so called radical feminism, whose main tenet seems to be anti-transsexual/anti-transgender bigotry?

Why are they using material and rhetoric that sounds as though it came from the American Family association, Focus on the Family and Concerned Women of America?  All of those groups are ultra right wing extremist organizations.  at least two of them are listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch Lists.

Cui bono?

These so called radical feminists need to be investigated to see just who it is that is financing their efforts and who is behind them.

Public Relations: My Experience as a Sex Worker in Love

Sex work isn’t something proper TS/TG folks like to talk about even though many of us have had to do sex work at one point in our lives or another.

Many of those TS/TG people who appear on that yearly butcher’s bill we call The Day of Remembrance were sex workers.

Sex Workers aren’t always  individuals who are being “sex trafficked”

Sex Workers are just another group of human beings whose work exploits them in exchange for money. No different from many if not most jobs in this fucked up capitalist system.

If anything the hatred of sex workers comes from the realization that they have put a dollar value on a service women are expected to give away for nothing.

But sex work is just another slave gig, better paying than many and taking less time out of people’s lives than most other slave gigs.

Sex Workers are ordinary people with lives beyond their jobs.

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kitty-stryker/public-relations-my-exper_b_1520144.html?ref=gay-voices

Sex worker, activist with SWOP, blogger and general rabble-rouser

“So what do you do?” is a question I used to get asked a lot at the pub in London. Generally, I sized the person up and decided how far up the exposure scale I wanted to go. (If you’re curious, my answers, from least to most intimate, are blogger, sex blogger, sex therapist, dominatrix/escort, and kinky queer interactive sex therapist.) Usually I’d go all the way and say that I did hands-on sex therapy with an emphasis on kink and exploring sexual arousal, while offering a GFE; and they’d look at me blankly, so I’d laugh and say, “I’m a queer dominatrix-slash-hooker with a psychology degree.”

Then I’d get the “o” of surprise, often closely followed by them sobbing into their pint and telling me that their girlfriend never orgasms anymore. They’re a tightly wound bunch, the Brits. Thankfully, I rarely got the “oh, that’s terrible you have to do that!” or the rescuer-type scenario.

In San Francisco it’s a little bit different. I know a lot of people who are sex workers, so it’s not terribly rare for my being a prostitute to warrant simply a nod. But a lack of variety in the sex workers seen in the media can also lead to me being treated suddenly like a rare species: “Oh!” some well-meaning partygoer might say, waving a friend over. “This girl is…” — and her voice drops to a stage whisper — “a prostitute!” I sometimes feel like the novelty friend, the one invited so that the others have something to talk about. I’m generally asked to comment on trafficking (by which they almost always mean sex trafficking, to the detriment of any other kind). Maybe I get another few questions, like, “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?”

It’s not long till I drop the ultimate bombshell: that I have a fiancé, Mike.

That’s when things really pick up, almost always starting with the incredulous question, “And he lets you do this kind of work?” After patiently explaining that, given that I am a woman in 2012, no one “lets” me do anything, I find myself often answering the same questions, over and over again, about my queerness, about my work, about his feelings on it. At first it really surprised me; was the idea of being a prostitute with a life partner really such a novelty?

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kitty-stryker/public-relations-my-exper_b_1520144.html?ref=gay-voices

Time To End the Winner/Loser Binary

Some years back Nike, was one of the Olympics’ sponsors.  They ran an ad campaign that had as it catch phrase “You don’t win a Silver, You lose a Gold!”

Can you imagine any line of thinking much more ridiculous?

It’s an honor to be good enough in your sport to make it to the Olympic trials.

It is an honor to be good enough to compete.

Yet Nike says coming in second best in the world at that competition make someone a loser.

Even without the sweat shop labor and their pouring their money into image creation instead of quality shoe production ad campaigns like that should be enough to cause socially conscious consumers to opt for a different shoe brand like Asics or New Balance who opt out of the celebrity jock endorsements bullshit.

No wonder we celebrate the one percent even as they reduce us to virtual slavery.  We buy into the bullshit that they are winners and everyone else is an undeserving loser.

Last night Jenna Talackova finished among  the top 12 in a beauty pageant she had to fight to be allowed to compete in.  One of the headlines read “Transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant loses”.

Well she isn’t transgender and if anything she is post-transsexual but the press has always gone for the cheap shot. Besides the organizations that love the word transgender, because it is too hard for them to say transsexual and transgender, were the ones who secured her right to compete.

Jenna Talackova wasn’t a loser.  She was among the finalist.  More important, as trivial as beauty pageants are, she established the principle that at least post-transsexual women have the right to compete.

Now most transsexual or transgender women are no more likely to compete in such contests than they are to compete in the Olympics, another right post-transsexual folks have, but these are the sort of odd bars that the bigots set up.

The one that used to go “Well you aren’t a real woman, you can’t compete in the Olympics sort of imaginary barrier.

Some times being a winner is just surviving with your soul intact.  Being a winner is getting up again when the bigots have knocked you down.

Being a winner is staying true to yourself and your ideals no matter the barriers.

Maybe it is time to  get rid of this winner/loser dialectic and realize we are all part of the same tragic global circumstances that were created by the hierarchical structure that creates a handful of winners and reduces the 99% to loser status.

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Transsexual contestant Jenna Talackova cracks top 12 at Miss Universe Canada pageant

Actually post-transsexual but why quibble.

While it is nice to win, she already won by winning the right to compete.

From The Toronto Star:  http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1181401–transgendered-contestant-jenna-talackova-cracks-top-12-at-miss-universe-canada-pageant

Emily Jackson
May 20, 2012

Jenna Talackova stole the show at the Miss Universe Canada competition.

The transgendered contestant strutted her way into beauty pageant history Saturday — and the top 12 — wearing sparkling high heels and a white bikini in front of a fawning 850-person audience. She did not advance to the top five after the evening gown segment.

That Talackova, 23, got to compete at all represents a major policy change at the Miss Universe Organization, which opened the pageant to transgendered women for the first time.

Talackova’s story made headlines around the world when a blogger revealed she had competed in a transsexual beauty pageant in Thailand.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1181401–transgendered-contestant-jenna-talackova-cracks-top-12-at-miss-universe-canada-pageant

Rad Fem 2012 or Trans Hate 2012?

Joelle has a lot more about this hate fest in the UK than I have so go check out her recent posts.

Particularly this one:

From Trans Meditations:   http://transmeditations.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/rad-fem-2012-or-trans-hate-2012/

on May 17, 2012

In perusing the Internet, I recently came across a site for an upcoming feminist conference.  The conference takes place in London in July and is called “Rad Fem 2012.”  You can visit the website here: http://www.radfem2012.com/index.html

In their page on participants, it states:

“RadFem 2012 is women only. We respect that discussion spaces are needed free from oppression and dis-empowerment, and we assert our right as women to organise a women only space.  As Radical Feminists we recognise that patriarchy dominates personal and political spaces across the globe. In turn we ask that RadFem 2012 be respected as a space where women born women living as women are able to meet and share information in a peaceful and safe environment.  If you cannot participate but wish to support RadFem 2012, we encourage you to assist us in enabling a womens space. Support a woman you know to attend by sponsoring her registration fee, or you are also welcome to make a donation.All girls are welcome to attend, and boys up to the age of 11.”

As a trans-feminist, I am appalled at the way in which anti-trans venom is spreading throughout the “rad fem” global networks.  It is important to me that they are using the term “rad fem.”  As many trans folks and our allies have observed, “rad fem” (as OPPOSED to radical feminism) is increasingly a term that has been totally usurped by rabidly anti-trans, transphobic and trans-hating ideologues.   This conference, which purports to be for all women and girls, is consciously excluding one important group of women and girls, those who have a transgender/transsexual history.

Continue reading at:  http://transmeditations.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/rad-fem-2012-or-trans-hate-2012/


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America in Transition

I swear that I can not really tell from reading blind copy if I’m reading transphobic bullshit from one of the Christo-Fascists who get written up by Right wing Watch/Southern Poverty Law Center or the latest spew from BevJo aka Gallus Mag at Gender Trender or Cathy Brennan at Rad Fem Hub.

It’s the identical form of of hate and bigotry. Hell half the time I think they have the same copy writers.

But how, may you ask could that possibly be?

How could it be possible that radical feminists sound identical to the rabid right and religious fanatics?

Aren’t they feminists?

Well how come going to a Susan B. Anthony Crisis Pregnancy Center means you will have to listen to a lot of anti-abortion crap?

I mean doesn’t naming yourself after Susan B. Anthony mean anything?

Just because bigots call themselves radical feminists doesn’t mean they are feminist.

For the record The American Prospect is a radical right wing rag.

From The American Prospect:  http://spectator.org/archives/2012/05/18/america-in-transition

By from the May 2012 issue

You get to be the sex you think you are (and everybody else has to acknowledge it).

I am used to surprises from the New York Times—a newspaper so far from me culturally and politically it might as well be a daily bulletin about life in a parallel universe—but last August I read a personal essay in the “Modern Love” space of the “Styles” section that really brought me up short. “My Husband is Now My Wife” (quite a tabloidy title for this genteel newspaper) was about the deeply ambivalent day the author escorted her husband to a hospital for surgery in which he would “take his first surgical step into womanhood.”

Continue reading at:  http://spectator.org/archives/2012/05/18/america-in-transition

There’s nothing radical about transphobia

Apparently a bunch of self proclaimed “radical feminists” who seem neither radical nor particularly feminist are getting together to hold a hate fest in the UK where they will discuss how the biggest problem facing women is neither the religious crazies nor the radical right who want to undo the last three hundred years of women’s progress as well as taking away women’s access to contraception and abortion.

No the War on women being waged by the religious fanatics and the right wing isn’t the big problem as far as these so called radical feminists are concerned.

The number one is transsexual and transgender people invading the feminist movement and convincing third wave feminists that we too might be human beings and that TS/TG women are women as well as human beings and entitled to the same sorts of human decency all people should be entitled to.

As I said this time around we fortunately have quite a few third wave feminists who agree

From The F-Word:  http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/05/theres_nothing

by Laura Woodhouse
17 May 2012

Like many of you who have been discussing the issue on Twitter and Facebook today, I was angered to learn that a new UK conference for radical feminists, RadFem2012, is not only playing host to a well-known transphobe, but is actively excluding trans women from attending.

The conference is open only to “women born women living as women”. Now, I personally support and fully appreciate the value of women-only space, but that space has to be open to all self-defining women. Excluding trans women from an event that aims to build an “anti-oppressive movement for the liberation of all women from patriarchal oppression” is bitterly ironic.

Trans women suffer horrifying levels of violence, abuse and discrimination, fuelled not only by the fact that they are women, but by the refusal of the vast majority of the cis population to acknowledge and respect their identities. The organisers of RadFem2012 have actively chosen to align themselves with this majority, and in so doing are complicit in trans women’s oppression. Radical? Feminism? I think not.

Then there’s Sheila Jeffreys, who thinks that “transgenderism” is:

…a practice in which persons who do not adhere to the correctly gendered practices that have been placed upon the biological sex are considered to have something called Gender Identity Disorder and they’re expected to cross over into the other sex. Not criticize the gendered system as it exists, because that’s unthinkable but to make some kind of “journey” by mutilating their bodies and taking dangerous drugs for the rest of their lives in order to supposedly represent the opposite sex.

The same Sheila Jeffreys who has been invited to speak at a conference where discussion will be “rooted in the realities of women’s lives”. Are we sure this isn’t Irony2012? Because if Jeffreys and the conference organisers could bring themselves to listen to trans people’s stories, to try and understand or empathise with the realities of their lives, they would realise quite how ridiculously facile and patronising the above argument is.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/05/theres_nothing

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Arm of the World Health Organization Takes Stance Against Reparative Therapy

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/health/2012/05/18/world-health-organization-affiliate-discredits-exgay-therapy-and-urges-nations

The group is part of the World Health Organization, representing WHO in the Americas.

BY Neal Broverman
May 18 2012

The Pan American Health Organization came out strongly against “ex-gay” programs that attempt to turn gay people straight.

The PAHO is the oldest public health organization in the world, and the group serves as the World Health Organization’s representative for North and South America. On Thursday, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, PAHO issued a statement saying that reparative therapy is not only dangerous, but should be banned by the world’s governments.

“These practices are unjustifiable and should be denounced and subject to sanctions and penalties under national legislation,” PAHO director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago said in the statement. “These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.”

The group believes that these dangerous “ex-gay” programs serve no purpose.

Complete article at:  http://www.advocate.com/health/2012/05/18/world-health-organization-affiliate-discredits-exgay-therapy-and-urges-nations

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Psychiatry Giant Sorry for Backing Gay ‘Cure’

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/19/health/dr-robert-l-spitzer-noted-psychiatrist-apologizes-for-study-on-gay-cure.html

Published: May 18, 2012

PRINCETON, N.J. — The simple fact was that he had done something wrong, and at the end of a long and revolutionary career it didn’t matter how often he’d been right, how powerful he once was, or what it would mean for his legacy.

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, considered by some to be the father of modern psychiatry, lay awake at 4 o’clock on a recent morning knowing he had to do the one thing that comes least naturally to him.

He pushed himself up and staggered into the dark. His desk seemed impossibly far away; Dr. Spitzer, who turns 80 next week, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has trouble walking, sitting, even holding his head upright.

The word he sometimes uses to describe these limitations — pathetic — is the same one that for decades he wielded like an ax to strike down dumb ideas, empty theorizing and junk studies.

Now here he was at his computer, ready to recant a study he had done himself, a poorly conceived 2003 investigation that supported the use of so-called reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality for people strongly motivated to change.

What to say? The issue of gay marriage was rocking national politics yet again. The California State Legislature was debating a bill to ban the therapy outright as being dangerous. A magazine writer who had been through the therapy as a teenager recently visited his house, to explain how miserably disorienting the experience was.

And he would later learn that a World Health Organization report, released on Thursday, calls the therapy “a serious threat to the health and well-being — even the lives — of affected people.”

Dr. Spitzer’s fingers jerked over the keys, unreliably, as if choking on the words. And then it was done: a short letter to be published this month, in the same journal where the original study appeared.

“I believe,” it concludes, “I owe the gay community an apology.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/19/health/dr-robert-l-spitzer-noted-psychiatrist-apologizes-for-study-on-gay-cure.html

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BREAKING: NAACP Supports Marriage Equality, Says Position Is “Consistent With Equal Protection”

From Metro Weekly:  http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2012/05/breaking-naacp-supports-marriage-equality-says-pos.html

Posted by Chris Geidner
May 19, 2012

Today, the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People endorsed the rights of same-sex couples to marry, stating in a resolution that the national civil-rights organization “support[s] marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Although NAACP leaders like former board chair and board member Julian Bond have been on the record as strong supporters of marriage equality, today’s move represents the first time the organization took a position in support of marriage equality.

The full resolution, which former NAACP senior vice president Maxim Thorne wrote was passed with only two members of the 64-member board opposed, states:

The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, education, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.

Thorne, who has worked for both the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted, “The NAACP Board of Directors has just endorsed marriage equality unequivocally. Only two opposed! An historic moment.”

In a statement released by the NAACP, Roslyn Brock, NAACP board chair, said, “The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people. We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2012/05/breaking-naacp-supports-marriage-equality-says-pos.html

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‘Cheerful and disorganized’ protesters take to Chicago streets

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/18/cheerful-and-disorganized-protesters-take-to-chicago-streets/

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, May 18, 2012

CHICAGO — Thousands of NATO protesters took to the streets of Chicago Friday chanting “tax the rich!” and calling for an end to costly wars so governments can focus on providing social services.

The protesters blocked traffic in the heart of Chicago’s financial district as the city’s highways were being shut down for the first motorcades bearing leaders of 50 countries gathering for a NATO summit on Sunday and Monday.

“Whose streets? Our streets!” hundreds of protesters chanted as they marched past police mounted on horses and bicycles, while onlookers took pictures from the sidewalks and through the windows of shops and offices.

Fears that the protests could turn violent have put the city on edge, with some downtown businesses even telling office workers to ditch their suits and ties and dress down to avoid being hassled or targeted on the streets.

Police and protest organizers have vowed that there will be no repeat of the trouble that erupted at G20 summits in London and Toronto or the riots that scarred Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/18/cheerful-and-disorganized-protesters-take-to-chicago-streets/

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Pharoah Bloomberg: Paying Workers Enough to Live Is ‘Communism’

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/story/155424/pharoah_bloomberg%3A_paying_workers_enough_to_live_is_%27communism%27/

New York’s billionaire mayor is so opposed to a tiny raise for workers at companies that get public money that he’s vowed to sue. What’s the deal with living wage laws anyway?

By Sarah Jaffe
May 18, 2012

To a few hundred New York workers laboring for $8 or $9 an hour, a living wage bill recently passed by the city council means a raise, a few dollars more a week to help feed their families.

To billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, it’s a wedge to open the door to communism. That’s right — the mayor told a local radio program that requiring businesses that get taxpayer subsidies to pay their workers a little bit more is just like a centrally planned economy. “The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR, and that didn’t work out so well,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg is just fine with handing over millions of New Yorkers’ dollars in taxpayer subsidies to companies that threaten to flee the city — no complaints about “free market” capitalism when it’s wealthy real estate developers getting the dough. Requiring those businesses that are happily slurping at the public trough to pay their workers a dollar or two more an hour, though, is just opening the door to Stalin.

In addition, Bloomberg has been willing to support a statewide minimum wage increase — so it’s not really that he opposes workers making a little bit more as much as he’s opposed to admitting that businesses that get public money have an obligation to the public. He’s opposed to admitting that there’s nothing “free market” about any of it.

No wonder a rally in support of the living wage bill was interrupted by a heckler calling him “Pharoah Bloomberg”—the reference to “Pharoah” making workers labor for low wages on taxpayer-funded projects seems apt, as the world’s 20th richest man has vowed to sue to prevent the living wage ordinance from going into effect.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/155424/pharoah_bloomberg%3A_paying_workers_enough_to_live_is_%27communism%27/

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Using the Bible to discriminate

From The Emporia Gazette:   http://www.emporiagazette.com/news/2012/may/18/using-bible-discriminate/

Bob Grover
Friday, May 18, 2012

Last week President Obama announced his support for same sex marriage. His stance will continue to generate a wave of responses for and against, and some people who call themselves Christians cite the Bible as their reason for discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual persons. Shouldn’t committed same sex couples have the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples?

Ample behavioral research shows that homosexuality is an inherent trait. Some Christians ignore scientific evidence, citing Leviticus in the Old Testament and the writings of Paul (e.g., Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) in the New Testament that homosexuality is a sin.

Two points should be noted here: (1) a reader must put Bible passages in the context of their time and culture, and (2) a Christian must place this issue within the framework of Jesus’ teachings.

Leviticus is attributed to Moses in the 15th century B.C., and it provides instructions for worship and conducting a healthy life, reflecting values of that age and Hebrew culture. Many of the forbidden things are contrary to today’s society and counter our advanced knowledge — for example, rabbits and pigs are considered unclean and should not be eaten (Leviticus 11:6-7).

Examples of other laws of early Israel considered irrelevant today in mainstream American culture are: (1) “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” And do not put tattoos on yourself. (Lev 19:27-28 NIV). (2) “If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.” (Lev 20:9). (3) “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife — with the wife of his neighbor — both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” (Lev 20:10). (4) Homosexuality in Leviticus is punishable by death (20:13).

Deuteronomy also lists among social laws this one: A “stubborn and rebellious son” was to be brought before a city’s elders and stoned to death. (21:18-21) Many of us would not be here today if that law were upheld. Other outdated laws from Deuteronomy:

Continue reading at:  http://www.emporiagazette.com/news/2012/may/18/using-bible-discriminate/

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Preying on the Poor

From Tom Dispatch:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175543/tomgram%3A_barbara_ehrenreich%2C_looting_the_lives_of_the_poor/

How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

By Barbara Ehrenreich
May 17, 2012

Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell.

The poster case for government persecution of the down-and-out would have to be Edwina Nowlin, a homeless Michigan woman who was jailed in 2009 for failing to pay $104 a month to cover the room-and-board charges for her 16-year-old son’s incarceration. When she received a back paycheck, she thought it would allow her to pay for her son’s jail stay. Instead, it was confiscated and applied to the cost of her own incarceration.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175543/tomgram%3A_barbara_ehrenreich%2C_looting_the_lives_of_the_poor/

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Republicans hastily add anti-equal marriage coda to a defence bill

From Pink News UK:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/05/19/republicans-hastily-add-anti-equal-marriage-coda-to-a-defence-bill/

19 May 2012

In a sign that equal marriage might be made a more prominent issue than previously thought, following President Obama’s support for the measure, Republican-led House of Representatives have hastily added a provision on to a large-scale defence bill that would ban equal marriage ceremonies at military chapels.

The annual National Defense Authorization Act [sic], worth some $642 billion this year, is usually a bipartisan bill, and so, it is something lawmakers might find it difficult to oppose, US media reports say. It includes a 1.7% annual pay-raise for troops, and some have expressed frustration that politically charged issues are being grafted on to it, just so the bill would pass through.

As such, the White House had threatened to veto the bill, despite the tradition to make it bipartisan, as the Congress broke the agreement made with the Obama administration in adding extra $8 billion to the budget.

Now, the coda grafted on equal marriage would ban same-sex ceremonies, even those that were not ‘marriage,’ on all military facilities, and in addition, would protect military chaplains from punishment if they declined to marry a gay couples.

This measure comes in response to the announcement by Department of Defense last year that, after the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ military chaplains were allowed to conduct weddings for gay couples, though they were not required. One spokesperson for the Department told PinkNews.co.uk that, to his knowledge, there have been no same-sex ceremonies in military chapels so far.

Continue reading at:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/05/19/republicans-hastily-add-anti-equal-marriage-coda-to-a-defence-bill/

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Can Occupy Fight Back Against the War on Women?

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/167969/can-occupy-fight-back-against-war-women

May 18, 2012  
Three hundred feminists blanketed the concrete in Washington Square Park last night, their attention focused by the now-familiar mic check. The “Raging Grannies” had just performed. A banner, framed by the park’s iconic arch, declared that the first NYC Feminist General Assembly, presented by Women Occupying Wall Street (WOWS), was in full swing.

After seven months of reporting on feminism and the work of women activists in the Occupy movement, I wanted to know: could this meeting be a model for how OWS collaborates with other social movements? Might I witness the forming of a new activist coalition, bringing SlutWalkers, Occupiers, second-wavers and radicals together to fight back against the assault on rights we know as the War on Women?

The assembly gathered activists of a wide range of ages, ethnicities, abilities and gender presentations, with a noticeable majority of cisgender (that is, non-transgender) white women. Not a single police officer looked on, a rarity for an OWS event.

We began in consciousness-raising knots of three. Facilitators from WOWS instructed us to speak in turn without interruption about our personal involvement with feminism. In my cluster, blushes and downturned eyes in response these big questions gradually turned into animated conversations when we fell into small talk: “When did you move to New York?” “Wasn’t May Day awesome?”

Later, we broke into larger circles to brainstorm goals, leading into an hour of intense discussions. As the sun set, speakers from each breakout group shared their results, echoing over the human microphone. Soon, the usual Occupy hand signals dissolved into vocal responses: applause, hoots, and shouting.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/article/167969/can-occupy-fight-back-against-war-women

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The Commencement Address That Won’t Be Given

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/23301640941

By Robert Reich
May 18, 2012

Members of the Class of 2012,

As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today.

You’re f*cked.

Well, not exactly. But you won’t have it easy.

First, you’re going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. The job market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.

That’s been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It’s been taking them more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven’t found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder.

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enough to get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recession really hit. Almost three-quarters of them found jobs within the year.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/23301640941

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