Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lowlights & Highlights: May 19, 2012

Here in the States and much of the Western world, the fight for LGBT equality centers around marriage, adoption, employment non-discrimination, and so on. While those battles rage on, it is easy to forget sometimes that in other parts of the world, gay people do not even truly have the right to exist. Case in point: it was reported this week that four Iranian men were sentenced to execution by hanging for sodomy laws. Iran is a nation governed by Sharia Law (meaning it is an Islamic theocracy) and homosexuality there is punishable by incarceration and/or execution. Strangely, the Iranian president said that they don't have that "problem" in his country.

We have come a long way in the West. Several countries have hate crimes laws, marriage equality and other such LGBT equality measures. Some countries, however, have a very long way to go, and their fights will be long and, unfortunately, bloody.


There were many people who responded to President Obama's announcement supporting marriage equality. Some agreed, some disagreed. One of those who disagreed was Bristol Palin. In her response to the president's announcement, she did not just give the standard right-wing diatribe against homosexuality (which would have been bad enough on its own), also managed to call into question the president's parenting skills. While some agreed with Bristol, there were some who were not so say the least. She reported death threats and bullying committed against her. While I certainly think that those kinds of responses go way too far, she should have expected at least some backlash.

One of the responses to Bristol Palin caught my attention. It was written by John M. Becker from Truth Wins Out, an organization that fights against misinformation from the "ex-gay" movement specifically and homophobia in general. Here is part of his response:

Hey, Bristol. I’m so sorry that you felt bullied by some of the abusive comments that were left on your original post. They are indeed awful and inexcusable.

That said, welcome to the world that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people live in every day. In fact, according to an exhaustive analysis of FBI hate crimes data by the Southern Poverty Law Center, LGBT people are at a greater risk of being targeted for a violent hate crime than literally any other minority group — more than twice as likely to be attacked as Jews, 2.6 times more likely than African-Americans, nearly 4.5 times as likely as Muslims, almost 14 times more likely than Latinos, and 41.5 times more likely than whites. In large swaths of our country, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth are regularly teased and beaten up for who they are (or who their peers *think* they are), all the while living in a culture that shames them into silence. Many of them have homophobic parents or guardians, so they can’t even turn to the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally. LGBT youth are four to five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts because of the malicious bullying and crushing hatred that they’re surrounded by every day. I should know: I attempted suicide myself at age 16...

...In closing, I must submit an important correction. You wrote about the “younger generation” in the context of abortion, then continued in the same sentence about how “voters just keep defending [so-called] traditional marriage.” If you meant to imply here that the “younger generation” — *our* generation – supports the continued exclusion of loving same-sex couples from full civil marriage equality, you are wrong. Seriously, no, *incredibly* wrong. In fact, you couldn’t be more wrong: repeated polling consistently proves that our generation OVERWHELMINGLY believes that EVERY American deserves the freedom to marry the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. You’re free to hold any views you like, no matter how bigoted they are. But you are *not* free to misrepresent the truth. And the truth is that when it comes to marriage equality, the jury is in – and you’ve lost.
 You can read the whole article and response by Becker HERE. It is well worth the read.

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