What Peter LaBarbera Will Never Understand

From Zinnia Jones:  http://zinniajones.com/blog/2012/05/what-peter-labarbera-will-never-understand/

by Zinnia
30 May 2012

In a recent post on his website Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera criticizes so-called “pro-family leaders” for focusing on issues such as gay marriage while neglecting to oppose homosexuality itself. Citing the need to emphasize “WHY homosexual and transgender behaviors are always wrong”, “how homosexual sex is fraught with health risks”, “why homosexuality violates Natural Moral Law, the teachings of Judaism and Christianity”, and “the inordinate drug and porn use among homosexual men, and ‘gay-on-gay’ assaults and abuses”, he says:

Simply put, we as a movement must conquer whatever timidity, fear and political correctness we have in NOT wanting to debate the morality of homosexuality – because our fanatically-driven LGBT opponents will never relent in their audacious campaign to “sell” homosexuality to the public. Notice that while many conservatives shrink from the homosexuality debate, self-described out-and-proud “queer” activists never back-track in their misguided, indeed, pathological quest to compel society to approve of their aberrant “lifestyles.”

LaBarbera gives little thought to why this might be the case, but the answer should be obvious to anyone who isn’t consumed with self-righteous loathing for gay people. There certainly is a reason why the mainstream anti-gay movement does its best to avoid openly attacking us for being drug-addicted rapist sinners, and that’s because most people just don’t want to hear it.

Over 50% of Americans personally know someone who’s gay, and this figure holds true among liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Those who do know someone gay are more likely to support gay marriage and the legality of gay relations. Knowing gay people puts a human face on what would otherwise only be an abstract concept of what gay people, their relationships and their “lifestyles” are like. Without any actual firsthand experience, their understanding of us remains foggy and vulnerable to rumor, suspicion and distrust. Familiarity serves to ground this in reality – a reality which LaBarbera and his colleagues have dedicated themselves to fighting against.

What is it that makes these personal connections and interactions so effective at humanizing us in the eyes of the public? Many in the anti-gay movement seek to diminish our struggles in a historical sense by asserting that sexual orientation is nothing like one’s race or color. But in one crucial respect, this is absolutely true.

The fact of our sexuality does not visibly manifest itself in an easily recognizable way, with the unfortunate side effect of the superstitious marking of certain appearances or mannerisms as “gay”. While this has often resulted in plenty of anti-gay abuse being directed at young children and anyone who strays even slightly from established norms, it has also deprived people of any certainty about who among them might be gay. Our sexuality does not afford them the opportunity to recoil from our very skin the moment they lay eyes on us. It’s something they must come to learn.

Continue reading at:  http://zinniajones.com/blog/2012/05/what-peter-labarbera-will-never-understand/

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In Milwaukee Post, Cardinal Authorized Paying Abusers

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/us/cardinal-authorized-payments-to-abusers.html

Published: May 30, 2012

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.

Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”

But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.

A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to “a handful” of accused priests “as a motivation” not to contest being defrocked. The process, known as “laicization,” is a formal church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.

“It was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less,” said Jerry Topczewski, the spokesman for the archdiocese. “Their cooperation made the process a lot more expeditious.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/us/cardinal-authorized-payments-to-abusers.html

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Minimum Wage For Restaurant Servers Remains Stagnant For 20 Years Under Industry Lobbying

From The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/02/minimum-wage-restaurant-workers_n_1515916.html


Rebecca Williams has waited tables, on and off, for 30 years. A lot has changed since her first stint in the business ended in the early 1990s. Restaurants now tout their commitment to local and organic fare. Diners eagerly pass and poke at tapas-style small plates. Chefs at brick-and-mortar restaurants now compete with a growing legion of food trucks. But one thing that’s remained consistent in all that time is Williams’ paycheck.

Williams, 50, has worked mostly at upscale bistros in Atlanta, Ga., earning $2.13 an hour before tips. It’s the most frustrating element of a job she largely enjoys, she says. That miniscule wage is usually swallowed up by taxes, leaving her to live on her tips, which can fluctuate from week to week.

She hasn’t had health care coverage for years. The restaurants she has worked in haven’t offered affordable plans, and she doesn’t have the money to pay out of pocket for it. She simply hopes she doesn’t get sick.

As for retirement? “I can’t even think about retirement,” says Williams. “I’d go into shock.” Her restaurants haven’t offered savings plans, either, leaving her with little beyond a modest 401(k) nest egg from a long-ago foray into the corporate world.

The federal government raised the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour in 2009. Some states have raised theirs above that amount, to as much as $9.04, in Washington state.

But since 1966, a sub-section of the minimum wage has existed for people who work for gratuities, known as the “tipped minimum wage,” which Congress last bumped to $2.13 per hour in 1991. Some states have increased the tipped minimum wage on their own as well — and Washington, like six other states, has no tipped minimum wage at all, so servers earn a full $9.04 before gratuities. About half of all states, however, continue to allow restaurants to pay servers $2.13, provided they make up the difference if the server doesn’t reach the standard minimum wage after tips.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/02/minimum-wage-restaurant-workers_n_1515916.html

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The World Class Struggle: The Geography of Protest

From Immanuel Wallerstein:  http://www.iwallerstein.com/world-class-struggle-geography-protest/

By Immanuel Wallerstein
June 1, 2012

When times are good, and the world-economy is expanding in terms of new surplus-value produced, the class struggle is muted. It never goes away, but as long as there is a low level of unemployment and the real incomes of the lower strata are going up, even if only in small amounts, social compromise is the order of the day.

But when the world-economy stagnates and real unemployment expands considerably, it means that the overall pie is shrinking. The question then becomes who shall bear the burden of the shrinkage – within countries and between countries. The class struggle becomes acute and sooner or later leads to open conflict in the streets. This is what has been happening in the world-system since the 1970s, and most dramatically since 2007. Thus far, the very upper strata (the 1%) have been holding on to their share, indeed increasing it. This means necessarily that the share of the 99% has been going down.

The struggle over allocations revolves primarily around two items in the global budget: taxes (how much, and who) and the safety net of the bulk of the population (expenditures on education, health, and lifetime income guarantees). There is no country in which this struggle has not been taking place. But it breaks out more violently in some countries than in others – because of their location in the world-economy, because of their internal demographics, because of their political history.

An acute class struggle raises the question for everyone of how to handle it politically. The groups in power can repress popular unrest harshly, and many do. Or, if the unrest is too strong for their repressive mechanisms, they can try to co-opt the protestors by seeming to join them and limiting real change. Or they do both, trying repression first and co-option if that fails.

The protestors also face a dilemma. The protestors always start as a relatively small courageous group. They need to persuade a much larger (and politically far more timid group) to join them, if they are to impress the groups in power. This is not easy but it can happen. It happened in Egypt at Tahrir Square in 2011. It happened in the Occupy movement in the United States and Canada. It happened in Greece in the last elections. It happened in Chile and the now long-lasting student strikes. And at the moment, it seems to be happening spectacularly in Quebec.

But when it happens, then what? There are some protestors who wish to expand initial narrow demands into more far-reaching and fundamental demands to reconstruct the social order. And there are others, there are always others, who are ready to sit down with the groups in power and negotiate some compromise.

Continue reading at:  http://www.iwallerstein.com/world-class-struggle-geography-protest/

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Vaginal Bleaching + Human Perfection?

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Life after lust – the appeal of sexless marriage

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/01/life-lust-appeal-sexless-marriage

As yet another survey paints a picture of a nation consumed by lust in our middle years and beyond, is it time to admit marriage without sex suits many couples just fine?

guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 June 2012

There are not an awful lot of things to look forward to as one ricochets towards middle age. The one silver lining is a renewed passion for sex. This you will know if you are a reader of sex surveys. The latest to spring to mind (there have been so very many) is the so-called Sex Census 2012.

While we are too bogged down in our 30s and 40s with child-rearing and worrying about the mortgage, the findings of this survey – jointly funded by Relate and “adult shop” chain Ann Summers, and published last month – suggest that when we hit our 50s we are absolutely raring to go. As for our sexual confidence, that supposedly peaks between the ages of 60 and 69.

Really? Who are these middle-aged chandelier-swingers? Where do they winkle them out from? And can they really be telling the truth?

In my not-so-meagre experience, if there is one thing we lie about once we get to a certain age, this is it. And if we are not exactly lying (as, quite clearly, the friend of mine is who keeps reiterating, loudly and long-sufferingly, how she still has to tell her husband “once a day is perfectly sufficient”) then we are being, shall we say, economical with the truth.

Admit to having shoplifted. Admit to having a bit of a drink problem, or being bankrupt. But living in a sexless marriage? Never. Fidelity, monogamy, still sleeping with the same person after however many years – that is what we are all supposed to value most. To admit to anything else, is to admit to a societal failing so profound, so deep, so … almost spiritual, it’s beyond the pale. It is something that cannot be acknowledged, maybe not even to each other, let alone to one’s friends.

As one 44-year-old married woman, whom I interviewed for my own little informal survey, wrote in an email (anonymously, of course): “It’s such a blissful scenario: separate beds, or even bedrooms, deep love for each other, friendship, shared parenting but NO PRESSURE TO HAVE SEX! The couples who are living it – you think they are going to let on? Men and women are far more prepared to talk about having extramarital affairs than about having a celibate marriage. There’s far less shame in having loads of sex than there is having no sex at all.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/01/life-lust-appeal-sexless-marriage

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Sex-selective Abortion Bans: A Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women’s Access to Abortion

From RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/05/31/sex-selective-abortion-bans-disingenuous-new-strategy-to-limit-womens-access-to-a

by Sneha Barot
May 31, 2012

Republished with permission from the Guttmacher Policy Review, Spring 2012, Volume 15, Number 2.  See all our coverage of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) here and all our coverage of sex selection here.

Among the widening panoply of strategies being deployed to restrict U.S. abortion rights—ostensibly in the interest of protecting women—is the relatively recent push to prohibit the performance of abortions for the purpose of sex selection. Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on having male over female children. There is some evidence—although limited and inconclusive—to suggest that the practice may also occur among Asian communities in the United States.

A broad spectrum of civil rights groups and reproductive rights and justice organizations stand united in opposition to these proposed abortion bans as both unenforceable and unwise. Advocates for the welfare of Asian American women are particularly adamant in protesting that such laws have the potential to do much harm and no good for their communities. Moreover, they argue that proposals to ban sex-selective abortion proffered by those who would ban all abortions are little more than a cynical political ploy and that the real problem that needs to be addressed is son preference—itself a deeply seated and complex manifestation of entrenched gender discrimination and inequity.

Understanding the Root Problem…

Son preference is a global phenomenon that has existed throughout history. Today, in some societies, son preference is so strong and sex-selective practices so common that, at the population level, the number of boys being born is much greater than the number of girls. This is notably the case in a number of South and East Asian countries, primarily India, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, as well as in such former Soviet Bloc countries in the Caucuses and Balkans as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Serbia.

Particularly in India and China, a deep-seated preference for having sons over daughters is due to a variety of factors that continue to make males more socially and economically valuable than females. Inheritance and land rights pass through male heirs, aging parents depend on support from men in the absence of national security schemes, and greater male participation in the workforce allows them to contribute more to family income. Women, on the other hand, require dowries and leave the natal family upon marriage, which make them an unproductive investment. Moreover, only sons carry out certain functions under religious and cultural traditions, such as death rituals for parents.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/05/31/sex-selective-abortion-bans-disingenuous-new-strategy-to-limit-womens-access-to-a

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The Latest Call for a Gay Holocaust Comes From Kansas

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2012/05/30/latest-call-gay-holocaust-comes-kansas

BY Lucas Grindley
May 30 2012

In the latest of what feels like a sudden explosion of hate speech from the pulpit is a call for mass murder of gay people from a Kansas preacher.

The leader of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, pastor Curtis Knapp, told parishioners that the government should round up LGBT people and kill them, according to audio posted by the Good As You blog.

“‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them?'” the pastor asked rhetorically. “No, I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

The statement comes on the heels of a call for LGBT concentration camps from pastor Charles Worley in North Carolina. That sermon followed one by another North Carolina pastor named Sean Harris, who laughed at the idea anyone could be transgender and suggested cracking the wrists of a son who acts effeminate — a statement he later claimed was some kind of joke.

Also making the rounds today is a cell phone video of a child being cheered on by his Indiana church while singing, “Ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2012/05/30/latest-call-gay-holocaust-comes-kansas

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The Austerity Agenda

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/krugman-the-austerity-agenda.html

Published: May 31, 2012


“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.” So declared John Maynard Keynes 75 years ago, and he was right. Even if you have a long-run deficit problem — and who doesn’t? — slashing spending while the economy is deeply depressed is a self-defeating strategy, because it just deepens the depression.

So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn’t? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger?

Over the past few days, I’ve posed that question to a number of supporters of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron, sometimes in private, sometimes on TV. And all these conversations followed the same arc: They began with a bad metaphor and ended with the revelation of ulterior motives.

The bad metaphor — which you’ve surely heard many times — equates the debt problems of a national economy with the debt problems of an individual family. A family that has run up too much debt, the story goes, must tighten its belt. So if Britain, as a whole, has run up too much debt — which it has, although it’s mostly private rather than public debt — shouldn’t it do the same? What’s wrong with this comparison?

The answer is that an economy is not like an indebted family. Our debt is mostly money we owe to each other; even more important, our income mostly comes from selling things to each other. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/krugman-the-austerity-agenda.html

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