Monday, February 18, 2013

Loud and Proud for LGBT Equality

It's hard to keep track of all the news that's out there and I think it's safe to say that, even among newshounds like myself, you tend to keep track of the issues that matter most to you.  The issue that matters the most to me is LGBT equality, and for that reason, today I'd like to share with you some of the news stories that hit my computer screen over the last several days.  I know that here in Blair County we don't hear very much LGBT news, so here's hoping that if you're checking out the blog today you'll see some stories that you may not have come across otherwise.

1. New Sex-Education Bill Acknowledges LGBT Students Actually Exist

Sexual education in this country is hit and miss at best.  Sometimes it's downright destructive, as in the millions upon millions of federal dollars that have been funneled into abstinence only education.  Study after study after study has shown that abstinence only education is not only inadequate, it's actively harmful to the future health and well-being of students.  The bill in question here would go further than setting aside the harmful practice of abstinence-only education in favor of educational programs that look at the full picture.  The bill would seek to promote and fund programs that are inclusive of LGBT youth and which avoid gender stereotyping and give honest and accurate information about contraception, pregnancy, and HIV.  Like the author of the article I cited, I don't see a future for this bill with the House of Representatives that we have right now, but that doesn't mean that I won't be writing letters and making phone calls about it.  Your Representatives don't know what you care about unless you tell them.  

2.  eHarmony founder: Homosexuality is ‘a painful way for people to have to live’

Well golly.  I wonder why?  eHarmony co-founder Neil Clark Warren says:
“I have said that eHarmony really ought to put up $10 million and ask other companies to put up money and do a really first class job of figuring out homosexuality. At the very best, it’s been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live. But at this point, at this age, I want America to start drawing together. I want it to be more harmonious.”
Do you think that the way you discriminate against people in same-sex relationships has anything to do with how "painful" it is to be LGBT in the United States?  I mean sure, if people just stopped being so gay they wouldn't have to be offended because you wouldn't have to treat them as subhumans.  Barring people completely changing who they are to suit your whims, though, it's possible you may want to consider not being an effort to not use the colorful language in my head I'll just say...mean.

There is nothing inherently painful about being LGBT.  What is painful is the blusters of bigots who refuse to allow that the love that two adult people share doesn't have anything to do anyone but them.

Speaking of bigotry...

3. Mefferd: Gay rights should not ‘trump the rights of Christians’ to not see gays

You don't have a right to "not see" a particular class of people.  You cannot sweep people under the rug and and forget they exist.  Separate is not equal.  Never was, never will be.

4. Publisher Linda Johnson Rice makes an argument for marriage equality

It's not all bad news.  There are many good people out in the world who believe in true equality and one of those people is Linda Johnson Rice who wrote:
"We know in our hearts that none of us get ahead when some of us are stuck with second-class status." Linda Johnson Rice, Chicago Tribune News
I couldn't agree more.  Ms. Rice wrote a beautiful and personal editorial for the Chicago Tribune news about why Illinois lawmakers should support the marriage equality bill which has now been passed through the Illinois State Senate.  

5. Obama honors PFLAG founder with Presidential Citizens Medal

Finally, to leave you on what I think is an important note.  Above is an article about President Obama honoring the founder of the group PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  Given the rate of bullying against LGBT teens in the United States, having a strong and supportive structure of family and friends is fundamentally important.  Even beyond childhood, being an ally to the LGBT community is so important.  It is so important for LGBT allies to let their legislators be they local, county, state, or federal, that LGBT rights are important to us all.

Know that there are adults in this country, far too many adults, who think that it's okay to make LGBT teens feel like they are less than, that they are wrong, and that they are not capable of being good people.  When Jeanne Manford's son was assaulted at a gay right's demonstration she formed a group that became a support structure for gay and lesbian children and their families.  In memory of Jeanne Manford and her legacy which continues today, please be mindful of what you say and what you do.  Please know that words can hurt and words can heal.  Please know that in a county where LGBT persons have to fear that their orientation may allow them to be the victim of fully legal discrimination, every voice is important.