Friday, February 29, 2008

Should I Be Disgusted Or Not?

By SweetPea
Well, well, well.  It appears as if Obama and Hilary are openly courting the GLBT vote!  That right my pets.  Obama has decided to take out ads in four, various news outlets in Ohio and Texas, most notably The Dallas Voice, Outlook Weekly, and The Gay Peoples Chronicles.  Not to be out done, Frau Clinton has given six interviews with six gay news outlets including TheAdvocate, Logo, and The Washington Blade.
As a 24-year-old gay male I am of course TOUCHED by the sudden attention, but I also have to remind the readers here at Sirens that there's a huge diference between pre-election LIP SERVICE and the granting of equal rights after the election.  In other words I am still not convinced.  Right now Clinton and Obama will do or say anything if it means more votes and another delegate or two, so I am not quite convinced as to their sincerity.
As I said in a recent Post, Obama and Clinton hae spent most of this campaign trying to play it safe, playing to the center when everyone knows that the proper way to run a primary is to play to your base during the run up to the convention and THEN play to the middle after you capture the nomination.  (Frankly I'm kind of hoping for a brokered conention in which NEITHER of these clowns is elected and a third, more suitable candidate steps into the limelight, but that's probably just a pipedream.)
But it seems to me as if neither Obama nor Clinton bothered to play to their liberal constituencies.  Instead they ran to the center from the get go, as if they had each already been nominated, and as far as I'm concerned that was NOT good news for the GLBT communty at all.  It sent a signal that they aren't as liberal as we thought they were; especially Clinton who is little more than a mouthpiece for that Republican think tank, the DLC.  Obama may be a tad more liberal, but as I have noted before, he also tends to associate with homophobic, black evangelical pastors, and if you want to hear the truth, I am sick to shit of anything or anyone with the word evangelical associated with it. Ditto to the word fundamentalist.   Whether I am repressed by a white, conservative Bible thumper or a supposedly progressive black Bible thumper makes little difference to me.  Repression is repression and I wll not vote for anyone, DLC-associated or evangelical-associated, who wants to mess around with my standing as an American citizen.  I see no reason why my rights should be at risk because of somebody's loony political or religious beliefs.  I want and demand the right to marry and adopt a family.  I want nationwide, equal employment opportunities.  I demand stricter laws against hate speech and (especially) hate crimes which are little more than terrorist acts designed to send a message to a specific group of people.  Which reminds me.  I suggest that you take a look at what's going on in Southern Florida these days.  I won't digress for too long here, but Southern Florida has become a hot bed of violence against the GLBT community, a fact which I am sure has nothing to do with increased hate speech by right wing religious and political leaders.  And now that I think about it, perhaps the silence we have heard from our presdential candidates regarding gay rights and GLBT issues in general, has led some to believe that no one really cares if a few dykes and faggots are injured or even murdered.  As I said before, the candidates' silence has been deafening.
So now that Obama and Clinton are desperate for votes they suddenly realize that there is a GLBT community out here with real needs and concerns; and I have to say that I don't know if I should be flattered or disgusted. 

Let Freedom Ring,

The Coalition for a Democratic America



By Sweet Pea


Well, it must be a presidential election year because once again Gays and Lesbians are getting the short end of the proverbial stick.  We all know that John McCain will do his very best to make certain that Gays and Lesbians will never achieve full equality under the law, meaning that he will in all probability try to deny us the benefits of civil unions, much less the rights to marry and to enjoy the financial benefits that come from a marital union.


So that means that we stand a much better chance with the Democratic candidates for president, doesn't it?  Well, to be succinct, NO.


The original Clinton Administrations did very little to help Gays and Lesbians.  And despite the half baked idea that Clinton was our first Black President, he did very little to help Blacks. In fact the Clintons are little more that moderate Republicans, corporate whores in Democratic clothing who employed corporatist economic policies which harmed the very people they were claiming to uplift, than they are legitimate liberals.   I suppose, in a warped sort of way, this meant that Gays and Lesbians were better off than racial minorities and poor people, because the Clintons never had the guts to be seen with GLBT leaders and politicians.  Instead, they chose to play it safe.  They avoided controversy by pretending that the GLBT community didn't even exist. 


Some things never change.  When was the last time you saw Hilary Clinton appear at a rally with a well known GLBT leader, clergyman, or politician?  Can you say "virtually never?"  Hilary would much rather play it safe, playing and running to the center and then governing--if elected--from just right of center.  Just like the 1990s when they ran a joint presidency out of the White House.  Let's face it.  The Clinton's aren't about do or be seen doing anything that the center or their corporatist masters might find controversial.  And that means they will ignore an entire constituency, human rights be damned.


So if the Clinton's can't be trusted, certainly we can trust Mister Obama. 


Yeah.  Right.  Tell me another one.


Obama is so obsessed with his idea of a big tent Democratic Party that he would much rather attract Independents and Moderate Republicans than listen to a Democratic constituency.  Obama is so determined to promote a big tent Democratic Party that one wonders if he isn't willing to sit down with right wing morons like Pat Robertson than with the people who have carried water for the Democratic Party.  Well, I have news for Mister Obama.  Asking the GLBT constituency of the Democratic Party to sit in the same tent as the ultrafundamentalists in this country is a lot like asking the Prime Minister of Israel to sit down at a table with members of the Aryan Nation.  Moreover, Obama seems indebted to homophobic, Black Evangelical Pastors who would treat the GLBT community as shabbily as any right wing ideology.  Clearly, Obama is not a friend of the GLBT community.


So what, exactly, are we supposed to do?  To whom are we supposed to turn during this election cycle?  To be honest I haven't the foggiest idea.   The only thing I know at the present time is that the GLBT Community, with a Log Cabin exceptions, has been very loyal to the Democratic Party and to date the Democratic Candidates have chosen to ignore us.   That's all fine a dandy but I am not the kind of person who serves a Political Party without some expectation of results.  I don't like betrayal and that's how feel this year.


Either the Democratic Party can show a little appreciation and do the right thing by supporting full and equal rights for everyone or I can vote for an alternative that isn't ashamed to be seen with GLBT leaders and politicians.





By PraetorOne





"Set thou a wicked man over him and let Satan stand at his right hand.  When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.  Let his days be few, and let another take his office.  Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.  Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg; let them seek their bread also out of desolate places.  Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let strangers spoil his labor.  Let there be none to extend mercy unto him:  neither let there be any favor to his fatherless children.  Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.  Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.  Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.  As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him:  as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.  As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water , and like oil into his bones.  Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.  Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord and of them that speak evil against my soul."

Psalm 109, verses 6 through 20



When the staff members of Americans United For Separation of Church and State asked the IRS to investigate the Reverend Wiley Drake, Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention for what they believed were Drake's violation(s) of federal tax law, Americans United had no idea that they would soon find themselves on the receiving end of Imprectatory Prayers in which Drake and his ilk were openly praying for the physical harm and even deaths of American United Staff members.  For those of you who missed this twisted imbecility-and we're bound and determined that you won't--Mister Drake and his demented followers went right to the Book of Psalms to find violent imagery which they promptly transformed into the Christian versions of death curses.  Among the verses that they bantered about were:


 "Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them."

Psalm 55, verse 15. 


 "Break their teeth , O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord, Let them melt away as waters which run continuously:  when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be cut in pieces.  As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away:  like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.  Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take away as with a whirlwind, both living and in his wrath.  The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth vengeance:  he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked."

 Psalm 58, verses 6 through 10


 "But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.   The Lord said, I will bring again Ba-shan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea:  That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same."

Psalm 68, verses 21 through 23


 "Let their table become a snare before them:  and that which should have been for their welcome, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.  Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.  Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents." 

Psalm 69, verses 22 through 25.


You just have to give the Radical Religious Right credit.  When they decide to play the part of the Taliban they don't go half way.  Indeed, they have done a splendid job at transforming the Christian God of love and peace into a savage hit man who protects potential tax criminals.  You can't get much more depraved than that, but then again are we truly surprised?  Mister Drake is the Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention the largest Protestant Denomination in the United States and it goes without saying that this group has a rather bizarre background to say the least.  First and foremost, it was created in the Nineteenth Century as a refuge for Christians (and I use the term loosely) who justified the institution of slavery on religious and political grounds.  As a matter of fact it took more than 100 years for the denomination to finally--FINALLY--admit that its stand on slavery had been wrong.   Then, beginning in the 1980s the Church underwent a process in which it was taken over by the most rabid of right wing Fundamentalists; and I really don't think that we have to repeat what this meant for women in the Southern Baptist Convention. Indeed, the stand taken by the new leadership wasn't only that women had come a long way, they believed that women had come too far and were bound and determined to establish the supposed superiority over women based on Biblical diktats.  And while we're at it, let's remember that this is the same church which once told us that "God does not hear the prayers of a Jew."  So when we consider the history and often demented behavior that his organization has shown in the past we really shouldn't be surprised when a man like Mister Drake resorts to bastardizing the Holy Text into the modern day version of a Satanic Death Curse. 


 In many ways this is the Southern Baptist equivalent of a fatwa.  Exactly how does it differ from the Ayatollah Khomeini placing a death sentence on the head of author Salmon Rushdie because Rushdie dared to write a few critical, or at least nontraditional, comments about Islam?  How does this differ from rogue, Islamic clerics who issue fatwas against their sworn enemies, usually because someone dared to criticize their religious beliefs?  I would argue that there is very little difference.  The people who George W. Bush refers to as Islamo-Fascists routinely pray for the harm or even deaths of their opponents, and by offering up Imprectatory Prayers, Mister Drake and his troglodytic ilk have devolved to the very level of the people who they themselves undoubtedly hate the most.


Well, this may come as a shock to Mister Drake, but the Bible is not meant to be used in the same way as the The Satanic Bible, or as if it were some book about Black Magic in the occult section of your favorite book store.   Or at the very least he should know hat he Bible is something more.  As the Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention he is the third man at the top of the Southern Baptist hierarchy.  Moreover, he is currently running for the position of President which would give him even more power and influence.  Which brings me to another point.  When you read the Psalms that Mister Drake chose it becomes obvious that he somehow thinks of himself as a victim.  Well, friends and neighbors, I have news for you.  People with that much power and influence are seldom victims.  They have the power to victimize and to create victims, but they are often such bullies and thugs that they can hardly be thought of as legitimate victims  themselves.   But they do like to play the part of the phony victim whenever it scores points with their weak-minded followers. 


Of course I can hear the Radical Right Wing voices out there right now.  What harm is there in a prayer?  Well, as I have said all along, these are not your typical run of the mill prayers, and it helps to understand the nature of the people who are offering those prayers.   These people believe that the power of prayer is real; they believe in the power of prayer as a matter of basic instinct.  So when they pray for the harm and/or deaths of other human beings they believe they are going to have a effect. Moreover, you always run the risk of the proverbial loose cannon deciding to transform himself into an instrument of God who l then act upon those prayers as if they were instructions from the All Mighty. 


Can it be that we have become so obsessed over the idea of Islamic terrorists that we have inadvertently overlooked the possibility of Christian terrorists?  The last I knew issuing death threats (and that's what these so-called prayers really are) is a form of terrorism. They are directed against a single group and they are clearly intended to create a climate of fear and intimidation.  At the very least we might consider the possibility that Mister Drake and his merry band of paranoiacs are engaging in a form of hate speech, and that's a lot more worrisome an his alleged wrongdoings with the IRS.


(Authors' notes:  All Biblical quotes come from The King James version of the Holy  Bible.)



Bible Belted








It's More Important Now



By Donatra and PraetorOne



Having a baby can change one's perspectives in ways that one never would have suspected.  Throughout the summer, fall, and winter we knew that we did not want or child to be raised in the Republican cuckoo land that has become the United States, and now that our child, a healthy baby boy named Jeffrey Michael, has arrived in the world we are more determined than ever to turn this country around while there is still a country left to actually turn around.  I don't know if any of you out there are new or expecting parents, but as far as my husband, PraetorOne, and I are concerned we are even more dedicated to changing this country than we were during the run up to January 13th, the day that our first child was born.


So what do we want?  That is a loaded question.


First and foremost we want to see an end to the war in Iraq--as quickly as possible.  Thanks to George W. Bush we are now stuck in this quagmire and if John McCain has a say in the matter we'll be there for at least another decade or two with even more American involvement.  That is not a thrilling prospect.  I suspect that on some level, McCain, who is well known for his occasional outbursts of temper, is STILL bitter about the time he spent as a POW during the Vietnam War; and far from making him more sympathetic to the horrors of war, I suspect that he believes on some level that since HE had to suffer that OTHER young men and women might as well suffer too.  In other words, we need a Democrat in the White House who will do more than issue half-baked platitudes about how much he or she supports the troops.  We need  a Democrat in office who will support the troops so much that he or she is willing to stop the open bleeding and bring them home right now.


Another thing that we would like our child to experience is the sensation of growing up in a nation that actually produces and sells real products.  I don't know about you but as a new mother I am sick and tired of purchasing baby toys, bottles, paper diapers, etc which are made in China.  This will probably come as real shock to some people but there was a time when we actually produced real products; quality automobiles, toys, appliances, etc and when we didn't sell off our natural resources; when we were owed money and not paying it out through the wazoo in interest to foreign nations.  For that matter we would also like to scrap trade agreements like NAFTA which have proven disastrous for every nation involved.  The free traders simply didn't know what they were talking about when they proposed these monsters, and no that they have been instrumental in destroying the American economy the free traders are too proud and arrogant to admit that they ave screwed up royally.  To remedy the situation we need more democrats who will again, stop the open bleeding, and switch from free trade to fair trade agreements, essentially burning NAFTA and its sister agreements in the same way one would burn a 20 year mortgage--with absolute glee and celebration.  Call us funny, but we want our child to live and thrive in a country where American jobs produce American products for sale both, here and abroad.   We want our child to benefit from good wages and workplace protections, and we want him to benefit from an affordable education system, perhaps even a publicly funded college/university system that won't bury him under years of debt.   We understand that there will always be service sector, burger flipping, jobs, but in the past those jobs were meant for teenagers, as stepping stones to better things, not jobs for adults with homes and families.  In short, we want our son to grow up in the America of old; a thriving, productive America of strong workers and strong unions--where eight hour work days and workplace safety standards were the norms and not the exceptions.


And then we have that little matter of health care.  We know that we won't stay young forever, and by the same standard we know that our 

child will grow up, marry, and have children of his own.  Those are normal parts of living.  But by the same token we also see a lot of squeezed individuals who are forced to raise families and take care of sick parents at the same time.  This may be an acceptable situation to the Republican Party but it is not at all acceptable to the parents/children who are forced to deal with both, the problems of raising a younger generation and caring for an older generation.  Physically and financially this is an unfair burden on the squeezed individual who undoubtedly has enough trouble taking care of just one generation.  Now toss in the costs of medical procedures, medical devices, and drugs, and you have a nightmare for which only the wealthiest of Americans can afford to pay.  So what do we want?  We want what a majority of Americas want and what most industrialized western nations already have:  socialized medicine.  There, we used the word.  Socialized.  Learn to love it and get over it because any opinion poll you take reveals that this is what the American people really want.  Hopefully we can see a day when we have enough Democrats in office with a Democratic President who will be able to pass the proper legalisation.  And we hope to see some movement in that direction during our child's lifetime.


Of course all of this will be meaningless unless we get a handle on the environmental degradation that has been another outstanding trademark of the Bush Administration.  We desperately want to see science, logic, and reason replace the faith (some might say delusion) based reality in which this Administration and its cadre of flat earthers have been ruling here since  2001 and probably before.  We want to get a handle on global warming; clean our soil, air, and skies; clean up the damage that Bush has done and get back to the kind of serious ecological/environmental protections that we instituted during the 1970s. 


In a related topic, we want quality schools.  We want strong science programs based on cold hard facts.  We don't want the pipe dream of Creationism to replace the Theory of Evolution.  We don't want the Germ Theory of Disease replaced by a belief in possession, evil spirits, and bogeymen.  The Theory of Gravity works just fine as it is, and we don't need George W. Bush replacing it with the "W" Theory of Celestial Duck Tape.   And while were at it, let's get rid of the No Child Left Unrecruited clause in No Child Left Behind.   We are perfectly capable of telling our child what we think about war and we don't need some representative from the Bush military industrial complex to sell our child a barrel of goods about challenges and educational opportunities through the military.  If our child was to go to college we will help him in that endeavour.  We don't need some recruiter pawing through his personal information or calling us at our home.  We do not appreciate a bloated, federal program which takes the local control out of education and which forces children to learn how to take tests without actually learning anything else.  Nor do we appreciate the fact that No Child Let Behind crowds out educational opportunities for art, theatre, and drama, condemning children who might be talented in those areas to drudgery and overall failure. 


Likewise we want a stricter separation of Church and State.  This will come as a shock to some, but since Praetor dumped the Buddhist faith and started to attend a very liberal Episcopalian Church, he has again proven that he doesn't need George W. Bush and the Radical Religious Right to select his religion for him.  He was a strong proponent of Church/State Separation before and he is STILL a strong proponent of Church/State Separation.   We don't need any level of government, be it local, county, state, or federal, telling us how or when to pray.  We don't need multi-ton monuments, crosses, and public displays to remind us of our values.  And if you DO feel that you need an external symbol to remind yourself of your religious beliefs than review quickly the sincerity of your morals and values.  At the same time we see no reason why we should be compelled to support the prayers, symbols, and so-called morality of any belief system save our own. 


We also want our son to grow up in a nation that values Constitutional liberties.  For even years we have sat by while George W. Bush. the Neocons, and the Radical Religious Right have routinely defecated on the Bill of Rights and called it proper.   Well, we know that torture, invasion of privacy, snooping through peoples papers, phone calls, and emails, and nauseam are not in sync with the Constitution and anyone who thinks they are needs to go back to grade school for a remedial class in civics and basic American government.


In short, we want our child to grow up in a civilized America, not the barbaric parody under which we have been living since 2001. 


So what about you?  If you're a parent do you have any hopes for he future?  I what kind of country do you want your sons and/or daughters to live?  We'd love to hear from you.


Donatra and PraetorOne



Conservative Religious Culture of Death



By Rachel and Karen

Edited by BibleBelted and Donatra



In his wonderful article, "Pro-Death Conservatives Are Responsible for High Abortion Rates," George Manbiot openly places the blame for high abortion rates on the Catholic Church as well as other conservative religions which ban contraception and which seek to reduce women to the positions of second class citizens. 


According to Manbiot as societies modernize their medical practices, as they gain a better grasp on medical technology, there is a brief period when both, abortion and the use of contraception rise together. But a study in Family Planing Persectives reveals that once birth rates stabilize, the use of contraception will contiue to increase while the abortion rate falls.  In other words there is a direct relationship between the use of contraception and falling abortion rates.  Once 80 percent of the population is using contraception the incidents of abortion drop off dramatically. As the modernizing society advances medically the need for abortion steadily decreases with the increase in contraception; and yet for some bizzare reason or reasons, the male leaders of conservative religion--most notably those in the Catholic Church--cling tightly to their preconceived fantasies about contraception, insisting that both contraception and abortion a culture of death, when in fact it is male-dominated conservative religion which is producing a culture of death.


As proof Mister Manbiot offers the following evidence.


In a Lancet study conducted from 1995 to 2003, results indicated a global decrease in the numer of abortions, dropping from 35 per 1,000 women each year to 29 per 1,000 women.  Coincidentally, this period of decrease coincides with what Pope Benedict XVI calls "globalized secular culture."  But the fact that a more secularized culture produces fewer abortions has clearly gone over the aging Pontiff's head.  Moreover , the highest abortion rates can be found in the most conservative and religious areas of the world.  In secular Western Europe the abortion rate stands at 12 per 1,000, although there has been a slight increase because of the immigration of people from areas in the world where contraception is not well understood.   In southern Europe, which tends to be more religious and more conservative, the abortion rate stands at 23 per 1,000 women.  In Central America the figure stands at 25 per 1,000 women; in South America the figure stands at 33 abortions per 1,000 women, while in Eastern Africa the figure stands at 39 abortions per 1,000 women.   A truly interesting case is the former Soviet Union which in 2003, had an abortion rate of 44 per 1,000 women.  Under Communism contraception was strictly forbidden, virtually impossible to obtain.   But as bad as 44 abortions per 1,000 women may sound, the figure had been twice as high in 1995, decreasing as more information about contraception fed into the post Communist society.   


Sadly, half of the abortions performed in the world are performed under unsafe and illegal circumstaces.  In East Africa and Latin America they account for nearly ALL of the abortions;  and according to the World Health Organization between 65,000 and 70,000 women who receive said illegal abortions actually die.  Another five million suffer severe complications such as disease, physical injury, and sterility, ad nauseam.


 Another area of contention has been sex education.  The typical right wing jargon tells us that if you teach young people about their bodies that they're going to become rampant sex machines.  Well, I have news for the right wingers.  Adolescence is a time of physical and hormonal change, and thanks to our various nutritional programs in public schools and elsewhere, puberty, adolescence, has been arriving at younger and younger ages.  The idea that we can allow children to go uneducated about the operations of their own bodies and what is happening to them borders on the politically insane.  lAnd yet we allow the right wingers to draw false correlations between sex education and every social problem out there, ranging from teenage pregnancy to venereal disease, to the AIDS epidemic.  But once again the facts don't hold up, especially in the area of teenage pregnancy.  According to the article by Mister Manbiot, the British Medical Journal studied four programs which were designed to promote celibacy.  The results were interesting in that they associated the four programs with increases in teen pregnancy.  Is it a coincidence that both, the United Kingdom, and the United States with their disproportionate reliance on celibacy only programs both have high rates of teenage pregnancy?  Probably not.


 It seems to me that there are other reasons, beyond faith and morality, for wanting to limit a woman's right to safe, legal contraception.  In many ways conservative policies on contraception are throw backs to the ancient Middle East when various tribes and empires viewed every pregnancy as a potential soldier to help protect and expand a given empire.  Under situations such as those women were seen as little more than breeders. The right wing religious leaders may not be trying to protect an empire but they are engaged in a cultural war, and that means that they still need women to serve as breeders to keep the churches full.  And, I might add, the collection plate.  Beyond that one can't help but wonder if this isn't a risky birth scheme devised by right wing religious leaders to guarantee their power bass for generations to come.  That's what it's all about isn't it?  Outpopulating people of other faiths so as to impose some kind of right wing theocracy.  Right?  So what if  few women die in back alley slaughter houses.  So what if a few women puncture their uteruses with coat hangers and bleed to death?  So what if an illegal abortion leaves a woman sterile?  It seems to me that the real problem here is that we have a maladjusted clique of spoiled little boys in mens bodies who never grew up and who never learned how to respect women.  Indeed, the degree to which these immature little brats would deny women full personhood is indicative as to the levels of hatred and immaturity with which we are dealing.