Thursday, September 29, 2016

To the Disillusioned Christian

First Off

It's been a while since I've written--for many reasons. The battle for equality has been winning enough that news and updates have diminished to very little. Minus the issues involving the newly adopted cause for trans equality, there has been little talk on equal rights for homosexuals, bisexuals, and same-sex marriage. The Mormon Church has also stayed out of the conversation for the most part, ever since the policy that completely shutdown the hope that gays and mormons could live in harmony. Hence, little to rile me up enough to write.

The more legitimate reason for my silence is my sudden change of hometown. I decided in the middle of this year to look for work in San Diego--instantly rolling a ball of tasks to complete for a smooth exit from Salt Lake City and a new life in San Diego. I was frantically trying to wrap up work at my last job, started to sell my home and furnishings, and began looking for a new job to begin the actual pack-up and leave. 

Now I'm in San Diego, working, and taking a breath from the first hurricane of changes. I still have yet to sell my home to have the down payment for a condo here. I almost did, but the appraiser all but turned me over and raped me with a low F-U house price that forced the buyer to pull out. I'm paranoid an acquaintance-gone-bad might be pulling strings to make my life more hellish. Anyway, I'm sure it will work out soon and I can finally have my bachelor pad to myself and move out of my parents' guest room. 

My Rant

What brings me on to write in my "journal" today is this article that popped up about disillusioned Christians dealing with the problem that is Donald Trump. I like hearing that the republicans are distraught that their sham of a party is being represented by a lunatic. Trump isn't a republican. He's a narcissist. He did what he needed to run and get the votes. He likes the popularity--all he talks about is his accomplishments, polls, ratings, and endorsements. And since he doesn't hold a true "christian" view of gay marriage, abortion, and similar social issues, radical evangelicals are bemoaning the presidential election as a combat of evil vs. satanic. In my opinion, I think most Americans feel the same way to some level, and that most of our elections end up that way. But it's more dramatic for the religious who don't have a candidate that prays to "god" and quotes scripture in rallies.

So this article I read seemed juicy about the Trump drama, but come to find out, it was more about the religious whining that America is diminished to sinful wasteland due to same-sex rights progress. This older couple in Iowa owned an old church for various businesses, one being a rental for events like weddings. A young gay couple showed up to a booked hotel to wed only to find that it had gone bankrupt and closed. The only other venue in the area to book that wouldn't completely alter their wedding was this Iowa couples' church rental. But once they knew it was a same-sex wedding, they refused the gay couple's business. 

The story continues like many: religious party is sued and loses. But instead of them booming in business for "standing for their beliefs", they all but lost any interest in their business. The article outlines their disdain for legalizing SSM in the US and their outcry for not de-funding Planned Parenthood. They whine of the diminishing popularity of christianity, and that they no longer enjoy a majority in the country. They are huge Ted Cruz fans (that should tell you enough). Cruz even came to make them heroes for standing for their beliefs. It ignited again the hateful fire that religious freedom trumps the equality for everyone to quietly live their own happy lives. 

The gay couple stated the simple (yet ignored argument) that these Christians' beliefs are against gay marriage, but their beliefs are for it--why should the christian's opinion win? And the dumb part is that it's a fight for gays to have the same thing the straight people do; nothing more or less. Yet the christians (that seem to believe they run the country) are upset that someone they don't like gets to have the same privileges they enjoy. 

"When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."

 Yes, christians have been persecuted. That's what started the USA in the first place. They wanted the freedom to do what they wanted. And for a while, most everyone was able to do what they wanted in the belief department. But now that we're a grown country, and one of the most powerful ones, we're still being held in the past of what got us here in the first place. Believers believe it's their right to impose their beliefs onto the entire country. Their right to making sure everyone believes the way they do is being infringed. Now that minorities are stepping up to defend their points of view--and winning--the religious want to put up their hand and yell "foul!" I came across a blog post that gives a good metaphor to this whole problem.

It made me sick that these religious people are so upset that they are "losing" their majority and hold on the country's policies. What's even worse is that their life isn't getting any worse--it's all in their head. All that's happening is that people not like you get to have the same things you do. You finally have to share the toy in the sandbox with someone else.

I have to deal with idiotic religious people every day. I can't avoid it. Christians believe that they can throw a fit when a homosexual wants to rent from you (and pay you for it!). Yet they think we are taking their beliefs and pissing on them.

Well... gays, lesbians, trans, bis, blacks, latinos, satanists, atheists, and agnostics, etc. have been pissed on and are still pissed on by religious peoples' overzealous need to be better and in control over others' lives. Boo-hoo that the candidate for your traditionally god-fearing party is Donald Trump. Boo-hoo that gays can marry and women can abort. Boo-hoo that you have to be as nice to me as I have to be to you. Boo-hoo that kids are leaving religion because it's bogus hocus-pocus. Boo-hoo.

My parents and most of my family are religious. We respect each other, but still both hold strong to each others' points of view. My dad continues to say things like "stop complaining and get a job", and "you think you're being discriminated--I'm being discriminated here!". He's a white, christian, straight, wealthy male. It enrages me, but I have to calmly disagree and sometimes jovially ask him to shut up. I know if push comes to shove, he will respect my choices and support what makes me happy--even if he doesn't want some of it in his house. I've done the same and more for him.

So there's my rant. Nothing new. It just astonishes me that people are still complaining and whining that there's no hope in this world until "Jesus comes to purge it". Doom and gloom is the invention of idiots that refuse to take responsibility, make a difference, or choose to be happy. This article, I'm sure, is one of a thousand other stories of more dumb people that can't keep to themselves. Gays have been asked to keep to themselves since the beginning. Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Utah Picked the Wrong Crisis: Porn

A Utah state senator is grabbing conservative attention by reiterating its (predominantly) Mormon religion's stance against pornography. Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill just this week that took only a couple months from announcement to unanimous approval in the house, to signing.

The bill merely declares pornography a "public health crisis", and will issue requests to businesses to block pornographic sites on their public internet Wifi. Supporters of the bill wish to decry the "evil, addictive, and harmful nature" of porn, and protect children from coming across it.

This move is ironic considering the other major sex-related problems in the state: STDs are on the rise hitting records, and public school sex-education is opt-in only--something Mormon parents in Utah wouldn't do.

Related is BYU's Honor Code policy that essentially punishes students that wish to file a claim for rape or sexual assault. A student may confide that he/she was assaulted, but almost all claims are forwarded to the Honor Code Office. And the Honor Code office almost always punishes the victim for violating the Honor Code, even if the assault is investigated. The strict policies can kick out students that are found having the opposite gender in their living areas after curfew, having sex before marriage, or using drugs or alcohol. For fear of punishment for participating in any of these unrelated activities before the assault, victims are usually dissuaded from reporting the crime--emboldening assailants.

Kids in Utah--if they're lucky enough to have parents sign the permission slip that lets them enter the sex-education class--are subjected to an "abstinence-based" curriculum. Abstinence has been long known as the worst method of conveying sexual safety. Utah teachers are not allowed to mention condoms (let alone provide them), methods of contraception, or bring up anything related to homosexuality or transgender.

With no formal discussion on how to prevent teenage pregnancies or STIs, and with only the statement "don't have sex" looming in a teen's mind, all a kid can do is contemplate doing exactly what they are told not to.

Harmful forms of pornography are rare--by harmful, I mean promotes violent and unsafe sexual activities. At least viewing pornography is the one sexual activity that does not have any chance of contracting an STI or impregnating a woman. The ROOT of the problem (teen pregnancies, STIs, harmful porn) is a lack of comprehensive sex-education. Why doesn't Utah have it? The state legislature thinks it's icky, and parents are not doing a proper job preparing their children for potential sexual activity.

Morals and standards aside, most kids will dabble in something sexual before getting married. Without the knowledge that condoms and contraceptives are safe practices to avoid getting pregnant or an STI, kids are going to get pregnant and STIs. This isn't just kids either. The lack of education carries on into adulthood. It would take "learning the hard way" for many adults to realize how to prevent such unwanted consequences.

Parents in Utah are usually Mormon, and usually hammering on their kids to not have sex--sex is bad, and only "just ok" after marriage. Even then, it's only purpose is to make babies. When a kid has questions about sex, it's usually a conversation that begins and ends with "don't do it--stay abstinent". Such sheltering and suppression in teens that have unbearable sexual feelings almost always end in an all-out rebellion. Finding the raunchiest porn (since it's the least "sinful" sex action), to masturbation, to sexual experimentation without protection.

The crisis here is not pornography. It's only a result. And not even the big issue. Parents are the issue. Parents and the Utah legislature are preventing the only known methods of statistically reducing the chances of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. And what happens when there are fewer unwanted pregnancies? Fewer abortions! If a conservative hates abortions so much, then it would seem reasonable to support education that helps reduce the pregnancies that usually result in abortions.

But again, the Mormon ruled land will do as the Mormon leaders say without thinking for itself. Declaring porn as a public health crisis will give people a few warm fuzzies. But it won't solve anything, and certainly doesn't address the root of the problems that the LDS culture continues to ignore.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

SLC Mayor Biskupski Bans City Travel to NC, MS; Invites Business to Relocate to SLC

Newly elected SLC Mayor Jackie Biskupski has issued an executive order banning any newly planned city sponsored trips to either Mississippi or North Carolina, both states who have signed in laws that have banned protections for LGBT, emboldened discrimination in the workplace, or force trans individuals to use the public bathrooms of their gender at birth.

Biskupski states that SLC is inclusive, and the Utah's anti-discrimination law passed last year has the backing of the LDS church, known for its anti-LGBT policies. The mayor says she wants to lead cities for change in providing equality and safety. Any measures against this cause, like in MS and NC are for political reasons and aren't good for those states.

Biskupski invites businesses in those states to move to Utah, and has or will send specific invites to particular major companies, like PayPal. Although these anti-gay laws are unfortunate, Biskupski says that our forward thinking in Utah will give us an economic advantage.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tennessee Trying to Mimic NC's Bathroom Bill

Tennessee has on Gov. Bill Haslam's desk a new legislation that would be similar to the "bathroom bill" of North Carolina. Under everyone's noses, and expedited with special sessions, North Carolina became one of the first states to undermine LGBT progress with a sweeping bill that eliminates all local conflicting laws. But North Carolina's law didn't stop there--in addition to requiring all citizens to use the bathroom of their birth gender (no neutral bathrooms allowed), it "Trojan-horsed" wording that prevents employees from using state courts to battle discrimination laws. Employees can still use the federal courts, but access to them is much more difficult. The result is less protections from discrimination for LGBT, race, religion, etc.

Before signing the bill, Gov. Haslam of Tennessee is considering the warnings of his Attorney General--those of losing federal funds for public schooling since the bathroom bill would undermine federal law that protects LGBT people. In addition, like in many other states, several large companies, like Disney, Delta, NFL, and Coca-Cola have threatened boycotting a state that induces discrimination by law.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mississippi Signs in Next Anti-LGBT Law

Mississippi governor's mansion

Mississippi Governor Bryant signed a new law "protecting the already existing rights of religious people to express their deeply-held beliefs". The new law prevents the government from punishing religious organizations, charities, and private business owners for denying employment, products or services to people that disagree with their religion.

The law also permits religious people to cite their religion as a reason to discriminate any person.

From Gov. Phil Bryant:
“I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning. This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This bill doe snot limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws. It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of federal law in such limited circumstances.The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”
From the American Civil Liberties Union:
"This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone's religious liberty. Far from protecting anyone from 'government discrimination' as the bill claims, it is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State's badge of shame."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Georgia Gov. Vetoes Anti-Gay Law

After dozens of threats from companies like the NFL, Disney, and Marvel to pull out of the state, Georgia Gov. Deal has decided to veto a law sent to him by the state legislature to swell the rights of people with religious convictions.

Deal said, "I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-base community in Georgia.

Supporters of the bill said it wasn't discriminatory, and it protects religious people's faiths, as well represents the will of the people. But LGBT activists argue that since there are no state protections for gender identity and sexual preference, this bill would override local laws that may have the protections, enabling religious organizations like hospitals or "Good-Will-like" businesses to refuse serving or hiring customers because of a claimed religious belief.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

North Carolina Undermines LGBT; Signs in Anti Law

After Charlotte, NC passed a local law adding the words "gender identity" and "sexual preference" to the anti-discrimination list, several conservative groups rushed in to mangle it.

And it worked.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a monumental anti-LGBT bill after a special session to move the bill forward. The bill is deemed the "bathroom law", referring to language that requires biological genders to remain in their respectively labelled bathrooms. But it also includes several other protections for religion with explicit reference to business. On top of that, the state law explicitly supersedes any local city laws, that contradict it.

Here is a quick summary:

1) A person may only use a public bathroom labelled for his or her biological gender.

2) Nondiscrimination includes race, religion, color, nation origin, and biological sex. Nothing is said about gender identity or sexual preference.

3) No local or city ordinance may change this definition of nondiscrimination and must label all public multi-person bathrooms as either male or female, enforcing entrance by biological gender.

Disney and Marvel Threaten Georgia over Anti-LGBT

A law in Georgia has made its way up to the Governor's desk that undermines LGBT equality momentum. The law broadens the rights of people with strong religious beliefs, preventing any adverse consequences for discriminating against anyone for any reason, as long the reasoning is based on those beliefs.

A number of bills and laws have flurried their ways to local and state governments--usually owned originally by conservative think-tanks and anti-LGBT religious organizations. The southern states have seen most of them.

Disney and Marvel, as well as countless other corporations have threatened to pull out of Georgia if Gov. Deal signs the bill into Georgia law. Such pull outs would severely hurt the state's economy--enough for Deal to strongly consider veto-ing the bill, due by May 3.

Indiana and Arizona also faced similar laws protecting the religious on a fear of attack by minorities. Arizona vetoed its law, and Indiana amended its law after serious business threats should the law remain.

Friday, February 26, 2016

UT House Rejects Bill to Permit Same-Sex Adoption/Foster

A Utah House panel rejected in a 5-5 tie a bill that would change Utah law language that would explicitly provide equal opportunities for opposite and same sex parents to adopt and foster children. Instead, opposition to the bill stated that it wanted to reserve the right to prefer opposite sex parents when deciding to place children in a home. Rep. Nelson stated that Utah isn't barring same-sex couples from adoption or fostering, just giving the state and groups the ability to give opposite-sex couples preferential treatment. For example, a group could put a same-sex couple on hold until they could find no other opposite sex couple to grant adoption to.

In addition, the Rep. Wheatley of Murray stated that the failed vote was about the "safety of children", purporting that same-sex couples are less safe than their opposite-sex couple counterparts.

Support of the bill stated that the SCOTUS decision last year made it clear that all the rights associated with marriage must be granted to same-sex couples. They warned that if the bills are not passed, litigation will go tot the court again.

The bill would change words in Utah law like "man or woman" to "spouse", "parent", or "partner".

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mormon Church Voices Against Hate Crime Bill

A newly proposed Utah bill, SB107, introduced by UT senators Steve Urquhart and Jim Debakis, raised concern for the Mormons, the greatest influence on Utah legislation and government. The bill adds strong punishments for crimes that are influenced on a belief the criminal held against the victim.
"SB107 would more clearly define a hate crime as an offense against a person or person's property based on a belief or perception about their ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation."
The church stated:
"The Utah Legislature achieved something extraordinary last year in arriving at legislation that protected both religious liberty rights and LGBT rights. Interests from both ends of the political spectrum are attempting to alter that balance. We believe that the careful balance achieved through being fair to all should be maintained."
What is confusing to many is that the bill includes language for both sexual identity/orientation, as well as religion. Many also believe that the influence of the Mormon Church on government is nearly breaching the "Separation of Church and State" clauses of the US Constitution.

It's not unfair to claim that the church has the rights to say what it wants, support or oppose laws, or even speak of politicians. But many, if not most statements publicly announced by the Mormons has little or no factual evidence to support its claims: only fear of unintended consequences.

The fear that the Mormon Church--as well as many other religions--exclaims is often a powerful tool to influence the voices of its members--including those with political power.

The Mormons have also recently opposed a law to expand the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, also warning of the "unintended consequences". Such statements often kill bills in the state senate--truly underlining the strong hold the Mormons have on law.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Utah's Steve Urquhart Proposes Hate-Crime Bill

As a follow up to the monumental Utah bill that compromised anti-discrimination for LGBT people and free-speech protections for the religious, Sen. Steve Urquhart, a St. George Republican, thinks that a bill outlining punishments for crimes committed non-personally to a demographic, especially for religious convictions or being LGBT, should be a logical follow up. Urquhart was a key player in drafting and passing the bill last year that attempted to balance the religious resistance to LGBT acceptance in Utah, and the LGBT protection from that resistance.

Utah Governor Herbert and anti-LGBT institute director Bill Duncan don't believe this legislation is necessary, and even think there should be more language to protect the anti-gay sentiments of religious people.

Neither party is fully happy with the SB296 bill of last year. But when both sides got just a little bit more protection, it was considered a political success. LGBT supporters still believe that speech against their lifestyles is hate-speech. They wish to participate in or patronize businesses or groups of their choosing without the fear of being discriminated for being gay or having to hear words that put them down. Religious activists want to have private businesses that refuse working with customers that are asking for services that appear to "violate the business owner's conscience". They also wish to be protected in public from punishment for expressing their distaste for same-sex couples, gay marriage, or any LGBT person.

The fight for religious tradition vs. equal protection for LGBT people will be a long one, especially in conservative places like Utah.

Utah Bill Drafted to Prefer Heterosexual Adoptions

Republican Kraig Powell of Heber City is drafting a bill that would require judges to prefer placing children in state custody to a heterosexual couple. Basing his bill on "tradition", Powell is deciding whether to push heterosexual couples at the bottom of the waiting list, or ensuring that a hetersexual couple was sought before offering the adoption to a same-sex couple.

Gay rights activists call this a clear violation of equal protection and fully unconstitutional. Most certainly a result of religious convictions, supporters of such legislation claim that there are gender roles that cannot be mutable--that children "deserve the right to a mother and father". But such a "right" was not outlined in the SCOTUS decision that all legally married couples, including same-sex couples, shall have the same rights and privileges without prejudice.

There is no viable evidence to prove that heterosexual couples and parents are better for children. There is history that heterosexuals can both be wonderful and terrible to children. There is not much history of same-sex marriages interacting with society and rearing children to make any blanket statement of one being "better" than another.

What we do know is that both couples are legal in the US and should be treated equally. Same-sex parents often wait great amounts of time and pay large sums to surrogate, foster, or adopt children--often fighting the legal complications before their marriage was legal. With so many hoops to jump through, it is hard to believe that homosexual parents would go to all that effort just to be abusive, neglectful, and not loving to the children. A heterosexual couple can create children without any legal intervention, marriage, preparation, monetary ability, or proof of parental capabilities. Without any of these, it seems much more likely of a poor parenting situation within a heterosexual couple.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Alabama CJ Fighting Same-Sex Marriage

Nearly 7 months after the SCOTUS struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, Alabama Cheif Justice Roy Moore still believes it's his state's right to deny them. Moore has been an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights and has garnered support from many anti-gay conservative groups. Although Moore stopped short of requesting officials to deny same-sex marriage licences, he claimed it their right to do so.

A few counties are currently offering no marriage licences, while most are issuing licences to both opposite and same-sex couples.

Monday, January 4, 2016

First Gay Mayor of SLC Sworn-in Today

Jackie Biskupski was elected Mayor of SLC in November 2015 with 52% of the votes. She is to be sworn in today around noon.

Utahns have buzzed about her being the first elected gay Mayor in Utah, most in disgruntled voices. Since the outlawing of SSM bans in the US last year, and the enactment of numerous anti-discrimination laws, conservative states like Utah have dragged their feet in recognizing the equality of gay people and gay marriage. Having lost their ability to disallow it, hearing more news of gay people gets the religious right in a tissy-fit.

Biskupski has only lightly mentioned furthering LGBT equality. Most of her platform is focused on wealth distribution for taxes and schools, particularly in the poorer parts of the city. The media can only outline that she is a gay person. Her primary goals reflect the needs of the city, giving the media little room to paint her as one with an LGBT agenda.