CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Defense Department announced -for the first time in U.S. history -that it is allowing service members to march in uniform in a gay pride parade. Even though their policy is to not allow troops to march in uniform in parades they will be making an exception for the San Diego gay pride parade. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta vowed to remove as many barriers as possible so that gays and lesbians can be proud to be out in uniform with the recent repeal last year of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
Progress is good.
By: Shannon Ralph
I figured, okay, I’ll move to the White House, do the best I can, and if they don’t like it, they can kick me out. But they can’t make me somebody I am not.—Betty Ford
Betty Ford died last week at the age of 93. Not your everyday, run-of-the-mill First Lady, Betty Ford was a free spirit and a stealthy feminist. A woman who once said, “The search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom for women.” She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She spoke out about breast cancer at a time when it was the disease no one talked about. Not only did she raise public awareness with her candor, but she changed the perception about a disease generations of women had lived with in secret shame. She marched with Gloria Steinem. She campaigned virulently for the Equal Rights Amendment. She publicly praised the Supreme Court for it’s Roe vs. Wade decision. She admitted to her addiction and founded a center to help others who battled those same demons. She named Eleanor Roosevelt among her heroes, admiring the previous First Lady’s belief that she had the right to express opinions independent of the President and her shaping the irst Lady Role to match her individualism.
And she was a Republican.
There was a time—not very long ago—when a high-profile Republican woman was not afraid to speak her mind, even if it meant bucking her own party and her President husband. In today’s political climate where the Tea Party (now being dubbed the “Hell No Caucus”) has hijacked the Republican party and are attempting to enforce their brand of extreme social and fiscal conservatism that is so far to the right of the average American citizen, we need women like Betty Ford. As Tea Partiers are ignoring the voices of reason within their own party, shutting down governments with a complete refusal to compromise (if you can’t govern—which by its very definition includes compromise—then you have no business being in government!), and attempting to return us to a time when human rights (women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights) were optional in this country, I think Betty Ford would have most certainly spoken the truth.
I admit to being a die-hard Democrat, but I admire Betty Ford for being a trail-blazer and a phenomenal women. I miss her brand of Republicanism. She was a woman who stood by her convictions. A woman we could all—Democrats and Republicans alike—learn something from.
By: Shannon Ralph
Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Republican candidate for president, became the first candidate to sign a new anti-gay conservative pledge on July 7th. “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family” is a conservative pledge to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, oppose any form of gay marriage at any level of government, and recognize that children raised in a heterosexual marriage “experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy,” among other vows. The pledge—produced by influential, Iowa-based Family Leader—is a required commitment for any candidate seeking endorsement by the group. The pledge’s footnotes contain numerous anti-gay statistics that are questionable, at best.
In addition to its detestable and disgraceful—not to mention completely false—claims about gays and lesbians, Bachmann has received significant criticism for signing the vow due to racially offensive statements in the pledge’s preamble. Among other things, it states the following:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
Not only is this statement racially offensive, but it is completely asinine. Slave marriages were not legally recognized in the south. Spouses and families were routinely split up and sold, making the likelihood of a child born into slavery in 1860 being raised by his mother and father dubious, at best. This portion of the preamble has received criticism from both the left and the right because of its suggestion that African American children were better off in slavery.
Way to go, Michelle! Let’s see how many people you can alienate and offend with a single signature. Gays and lesbians? Check! Straight children of gays and lesbians? Check! African Americans? Check! Single parents? Check! Women in the military (if you read the entire pledge)? Check!
Oh yea, and did I mention that the pledge encourages “robust childbearing and reproduction?” Yep, we definitely need the likes of Michelle Bachmann robustly reproducing.
By: Shannon Ralph
As a mom of three young children, a lot of my mental energy goes into making certain my kids eat foods that will keep them healthy, happy, and strong. As a borderline obsessive mom of three young children, I spend an obscene number of precious never-can-get-them-back minutes consumed with my children’s diet. I try to buy organic food when I can. Organic food, while easing my mind on the dietary front, often presents its own set of issues on the budgetary front. On more than one occasion, I have found myself in the grocery store—a regular apple in one hand and an organic apple in the other—mentally weighing the pros and cons of spending the extra money for organic fruits and vegetables. Are conventionally-grown apples pesticide-ridden cancer-causers? Is that claim an overly hyped exaggeration? Is it irresponsible to forgo my grocery budget for organic foods? Is it more irresponsible to feed my children anything but organic food? Will my future grandchildren be born with two heads if I buy the regular apple for my precious little ones? Oy vey. Being a parent these days is mentally exhausting.
Imagine my excitement when I came across the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The EWG lists the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables, as well as the fifteen “cleanest.” The foods that the EWG considers most important to buy organic are: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce, and kale/collard greens. These conventionally-grown foods contain the highest pesticide residue. The following are considered safe to buy conventionally-grown, as they contain the lowest pesticide residue: onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe (domestic), kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms.
Of course, eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than eating no produce at all. Most days, if I can manage to get a vegetable of any sort in my children, I am happy. However, the next time I find myself standing in the grocery produce department man-handling the apples, I will definitely think twice about saving a buck.
By: The Seattle Lesbian
The Board of Directors of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today announced their acceptance of President Jarrett Barrios’ resignation. The Board of Directors will now begin to assemble an Executive Search Committee to identify a new President. GLAAD’s Board of Directors confirmed a commitment to maintaining a strong focus on its mission-related activities during this transition and has appointed Mike Thompson, Chief Operating Officer, as Acting President of the organization.
Barrios announced his resignation in an email to the Board of Directors on Saturday, June 18:
“None of you have asked me to resign, and I have appreciated such confidence in me. I have been pained by the difficulties that have beset GLAAD over the last three weeks. As you know, they concern GLAAD’s endorsement of the AT&T / T-Mobile merger—and inaccurate but effective characterizations that suggest GLAAD has supported this merger because of our relationship with them as a corporate sponsor. As many of you have observed to me, this entire situation is wrought with miscommunication and assumptions. Be that as it may, I respect the function and responsibility of my position, and know this is the right course of action. Of utmost concern and foremost in all of our minds must be the well-being of GLAAD. The staff continues to work hard and does not deserve to work under a cloud, nor do they merit the distraction that it has become from our organization’s fine brand.”
Read more here!
Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian
By: Shannon Ralph
Nevada Tourism Commission has launched a new website catering to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender traveler. The site, gay.travelnevada.com, lists gay-friendly hotels and events of interest to the LGBT community. Several Las Vegas resorts are listed as gay friendly. Among the Las Vegas events listed on the website are Gay Nights Las Vegas Aug. 4-7, Las Vegas Pride Sept. 16-17, the EnGAYgement Wedding and Commitment Ceremony Event Oct. 9th, Coronation Weekend Dec. 1-4 and GayDayS Las Vegas Sept. 4-10, 2012.
“The Nevada Commission on Tourism recognizes the importance of this vast market to Nevada’s tourism industry,” said commission interim director Larry Friedman. “We continually expand and improve our efforts to reach potential visitors and that is why we developed this new website that offers need-to-know information for the LGBT community.”
So, who wants to go to Vegas? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?
By: Shannon Ralph
According to a new study by The Center for Work-Life Policy, almost half of college-educated gay Americans hide their sexual orientation at work. The study found that 48 percent of gay workers are closeted.. About a third of those closeted at work are out in their personal lives, leading them to live a taxing “double life.” As a result, these workers are more likely to report job-related stress and isolation than their peers. Productivity and job satisfaction suffers. In addition, closeted workers are more likely to report that they want to leave their current job.
Most Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and extend benefits to workers’ same-sex partners. However, many workers may remain in the closet as a response to their immediate work environments. Some straight co-workers (37 percent of women and 52 percent of men) say that they would prefer gay people to keep their personal lives private. Despite corporate policies moving in the right direction, only twenty-one states currently prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBT workers.
So what about you? Are out at work? Why or why not?
By: Shannon Ralph
This has proven to be an interesting week in the LGBT blogging world. Two prominent lesbian bloggers have “come out” as straight, married men. Monday—just one day after Tom MacMaster confessed to being “Gay Girl in Damascus” blogger “Amina Arraf”—the Washington Post reported that “Paula Brooks”, founder and executive editor of lesbian and gay news site LezGetReal.com, was actually 58-year-old Bill Graber.
The general reaction to the revelation of MacMaster’s and Graber’s actual identities has, not surprisingly, been one of outrage and frustration. So what caused these two men to perpetrate their ruse? In the case of Graber, his motive was partly vanity. He told NPR that he was “extremely flattered and impressed with (himself)” when he realized that his writing was “getting taken seriously.” He also indicated that he wanted to experiment with fiction writing. MacMaster has indicated that he simply wanted to call attention to issues that he did not feel he could write about as a straight man.
So here is the problem with the actions of these two men. First and foremost, they belong to the most privileged demographic group on the planet—straight white men. One only has to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television to see that the voices of straight white men are taken seriously in this world. There is no need—other than pure ego—for these men to infiltrate discussions where straight men typically are not viewed as an authority and pretend to be legitimate. Secondly, co-opting the voice of a minority brings all members of the minority under suspicion. Lesbian bloggers who are trying to tell our stories may find ourselves having to “prove” our identities. Or worse yet, having our stories dismissed as unreliable. With their irresponsible, egotistical, and flagrantly asinine actions, these two men are calling into question the legitimacy of any lesbian who dares to write about her experiences online. Any lesbian like me.
By: Shannon Ralph
The right-wing group Save California is up in arms about the recent enactment of a day to honor Harvey Milk, the openly gay San Francisco politician and civil rights activist who was assassinated in 1978. Randy Thomasson, the head of Save California, is urging parents to pull their students out of public schools to protest efforts to recognize the role of LGBT citizens in California history. In an interview with The American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, Thomasson warned against the looming “tsunami of perversity”and homosexual indoctrination approaching schools.
“Wake up, parents. Public schools are no longer for the public,” he says. “They’re government institutions that think that your children are their children—and they are going to turn them into homosexual, bisexual, transsexual political activists.”
Thomasson also stated that openly gay State Senator Mark Leno “sees children as little homosexuals-in-waiting. And he wants to tell them they’re homosexual, tell them they’re bisexual, tell them they’re transsexual—not tell them that transexuality is irreversible and it’s obviously a choice; not tell them that bisexuality is obviously unnatural and obviously a choice; not telling them that the gay gene has never been found.”
Now normally, I would give no credence whatsoever (nor the energy it takes to type these words) to the rantings of windbags such as Thomasson. But you know…sometimes the only thing you can do it let the members of the religious right speak their minds. Then sit back and laugh. They sure are entertaining in their utter ludicrousness sometimes, aren’t they?
Anyway…I better get back to cultivating my tsunami of perversity.
By: Shannon Ralph
The Presbyterian Church has made a bold move toward full inclusiveness of LGBT people and clergy into the church. On May 10, 2011, the Presbyterian Church USA ratified an amendment to the constitution of Presbyterian laws of ordained ministry to include the rite of ordination to gay and lesbian ministers who are in covenanted relationships. “Covenanted” relationships are people who are partnered or married to a same-sex spouse. Previously, gay ministers were not specifically excluded, but the church laws required unmarried ministers to live in “chasted singleness”.
As someone who lives most of my life in “chasted singleness” due to my partner and I working opposite schedules, I can say with certainty that it is no way to live. I applaud the Presbyterian Church, who now joins the ranks of the Congregational, Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, and Lutheran (ELCA only) denominations in allowing LGBT people to serve their God and their congregations openly.
Now let’s get to work on the Methodists, one of the few remaining mainstream protestant denominations that has yet to make the loving and just decision to ordain LGBT ministers. Come on all of you Methodists out there! Peer pressure—you know you want to do it!