A rare bit of good news for gay couples

The Federal government now has one less way to screw gay couples when one partner dies. Courtesy of the HRC and a few reasonable legistlators:

The Federal Pension Protection Act passed by Congress and signed into law today by President George W. Bush contains two key provisions that will extend important financial protections to same-sex couples and other Americans who leave their retirement savings to non-spouse beneficiaries. The bipartisan provisions in the bill are a step forward in equality and stem from a continuous effort led by the Human Rights Campaign.

David and I have actually worried about this sort of thing a lot. It’s one less thing to worry about, which these days is really important–because we all have plenty to worry about!

“Meet the couples who can’t marry here”

As David foreshadowed a few days ago, we made the pages of the Seattle PI today. Susan Paynter is wonderful. We got connected with her earlier this week through our friends at the Pride Foundation and talked to her on Tuesday, before we knew how the State Supreme Court case would turn out. Oh well…

For posterity’s sake, my family “turned on a dime” the minute I came out–they didn’t wait for the wedding. But I know it did make a big difference to them.

As disappointed as I am about the court’s decision, I do believe that the best long-term approach is to go through the legislative process. Had we won, we would have spent the next five years in a defensive position trying to keep the Rethuglicans in Olympia and Tim Eyman from defeating us again–not to mention reinvigorating backers of efforts to write a marriage ban into the US Constitution. Much better, in my view, to set to work building support for a future legislative shift.

Demographics are on our side–people under 30 support our right to marry. As MLK said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Our time will come. And on that day when David and I can make our marriage official in Washington, we’ll throw one hell of a party!

Washington State turns down equality

Sadly, the today’s Supreme Court decision struck down equality for gay and lesbian couples in the state by affirming the constitutionality of the 1998 defense of marriage act. We’re sad, but I’m not surprised. There are some glimmers of hope though: it was a close 5-4 ruling, and the justices did say in the decision that the legislature “may want to re-examine the impact of the marriage laws on all citizens of this state.” And, as the Pride Foundation said:

This is a sad day for everyone in Washington State, and indeed, the country, who believes in equality and fairness. By upholding the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court has said that Washingtonians should be treated differently based on who they love and who they are. Washington State has a long and proud tradition of standing up against discrimination. Let’s not be discouraged, but rather move forward and vow to continue our fight for equality. Our community is resilient. We know that this discriminatory law will be struck down.

I’m sure the Pride Foundation will continue to fight the good fight, and if you haven’t contributed already, they are deserving of your support.

By the way, Jay and I were interviewed by Susan Paynter of the P-I (before the decision came down), so there might be some quotes from us in her Friday column.

ROBERTSON BLAMES HURRICANE ON CHOICE OF ELLEN DEGENERES TO HOST EMMYS

That’s the headline from Dateline: Hollywood. Can we “take him out?” Oh, I’m not suggesting we assisinate him. Really. But on the other hand, WTF?!?!?!

Pat Robertson on Sunday said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of expressing its anger at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its selection of Ellen Degeneres to host this year’s Emmy Awards. “By choosing an avowed lesbian for this national event, these Hollywood elites have clearly invited God’s wrath,” Robertson said on “The 700 Club” on Sunday. “Is it any surprise that the Almighty chose to strike at Miss Degeneres’ hometown?”

Robertson also noted that the last time Degeneres hosted the Emmys, in 2001, the September 11 terrorism attacks took place shortly before the ceremony.

“This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards,” Robertson explained to his approximately one million viewers. “America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.”

Maybe if we built a big altar and sacrificed Ellen on it, her blood would turn into butterflies of solid gold and we could pay off the national debt! Maybe if we burned the Fab Five at the stake their ashes would turn into magical sponges that would soak up all the water in New Orleans and scrub it clean! Maybe if reasonable Christians don’t stand up and offer Roberts a nice warm glass of shut the fuck up, I will never again be able to walk through the door of a church!

In Robertson’s world, curses and miracles and magical spells have replaced the Christ of the Golden Rule and the Beatitudes. He is a sick and sad embarrasment not just to Christians, but to all America. To the human race. And as one of America’s top evangelists, he’s clearly a failure– look at all the sin that has happened on his watch. Maybe God will strike him down! Oh what a happy day that will be.

Stealth Manidate

Wonkette has the scoop on the most delicious recipe of the summer:

Take one squeaky clean SCOTUS nominee

Add news of his pro bono help defeating the worst anti-gay legislation of the 1990s

Add a pinch of homodelicious spices

Wrap in pastry dough and serve to the religious right, which is already in a state of collective queer panic meltdown. [Did you want some cream on that pie, gentlemen?]

Enjoy!

Delicious!

God don’t make no junk

I’m no fan of “intelligent design” theory–personally, I think Darwinian evolution is exactly the kind of marvellously independent process that would have started up right about the time of that “let there be light” thing. But this article has cheered me mightily. Whatever their take on evoultion, if the Black Church is with us, who can be against us?

The Rev. James A. Forbes spoke with a joyous righteousness as he preached to a hall of black faces Sunday at a cathedral at the edge of Harlem, and the words he chose might have come straight from the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

Discrimination, he said, has no place in this world, and he urged his audience to liberate themselves from the notion put forward by some that they are less favored by God.

“Your job is to get up every day and be grateful to God for your DNA,” Forbes said. “It took an artist divine to make this design!”

What made his words stand out was that they were spoken to a roomful of gay and lesbian faithful, and the would-be oppressors he referred to during the spirited religious service weren’t white segregationists, but the pastors of some black churches.

Forbes, the senior minister at the Riverside Church, was among a number of religious leaders and politicians who attended a Sunday revival meeting aimed at countering what organizers said was a surge in anti-gay rhetoric coming from pulpits in conservative parishes.

I have always felt that being gay, whether it happened randomly or by design, is a calling–a gift that I now realize has always allowed me to empathize with outsiders even though I was born into what looks to almost all the world like ridiculous privilege. That’s why nothing the religious Right has to say means much to me–I remember being young and reading that Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors [notice the lack of “former” there], and realizing that there must not be much in human experience that can separate us from divinity.

Anyway, a great article. Thanks for a little light amidst the dark, Americablog!

Have you heard the one about the gay teen concentration camp?

In Tenessee, they don’t bother to beat the shit out of gay teens and leave them for dead on fences.

No, at the hideously named Love In Action camp they just outsource the killing to the gay teens themselves. Quoth the head of the “conversion camp”:

“I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.”

Think about that every time you hear Bush talk about the Culture of Life. The fundagelical puppetmasters who got him elected wave around their pretty talking points, but they have raised up in this land of Cult of Death around those they scapegoat for power and profit. When will we tear it down?

I wish evil on few people. But the people who say things like that, and the self-righteous fucks who turn their children over to such idiots deserve the very worst this world has to offer. This world and the next one, come to think of it.

Seriously, don’t read that last link unless you want to be sitting at your desk at work sobbing with rage. Though “Zack’s” case has become a cause celebre, nothing could ever heal what has been done to him. And despite an investigation, the state of Tennessee isn’t taking any action to regulate this or other gay-teen gulags.

Update: The complete rules of the LIA(r) program are here, and they are seriously so fucked up that it’s a wonder that every single “client” doesn’t kill themselves. If ever there were a doubt that the “ex-gay movement” is a cult, this should settle the argument. LIA exhibits the unintentional hilarity shared by all cults:

6. No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the clients and the parent’s/guardian’s control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian). The only exception to the media policy is the weekly movie.

Oh, and the camp is run by “ex-gays” who I’m guessing are the most twisted individuals this side of a pretzel factory. Running a camp like this, where the “clients” aren’t allowed to talk to anyone but their family–and then never about the program–must be a great way to secretly indulge their sadistic pedophiliac urges. Running one of these camps must be even better than being a Roman Catholic priest!