Monday, December 29, 2008

Keep your religion out of my health-care

My good friend Antigone today blogged about something I have been meaning to for a while now. I actually did blog about this back in July. Antigone did all the hard work this time, so I will link to her article.

The article details Bush's eleventh hour regulation, the "right of conscience" rule, enacted on December 18.

With some luck, the law will be quickly overturned after Obama's inauguration.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gay Marriage and Why I am Sick of Talking About It

I have been absent from the blogosphere lately due to a number of reasons, including watching my (single, heterosexual) best friend have her baby and a recent conversation over at Opine Editorials and on my own blog.

I am attempting to sift through personal attacks and just plain mean-spirited, evasive responses to get to the real issues here in the gay marriage debate.

I am convinced now that the issue is much more complex than I originally thought and that many people can't see beyond their own prejudices on both sides of the issue.

The first, and most visible side to me (as a gay marriage advocate) is that of what we usually call "the homophobes." We see them in anonymous internet chat rooms, and as private citizens who vote against anything that has to do with giving gay people rights to form families, get married, or end job discrimination and hate crimes. Quite simply, they usually don't know any gay people, they have had a bad experience with one or two gay people, their religion tells them gay is wrong, or they just hate gay people because their parents and/or members of society taught them to and they never questioned it. Their reasons for wanting anti-gay measures to pass lie in the one fact that being gay is bad, sinful, perverse, or against the Bible or other major religious book.

These people are the reasons most of us LGBT folk (though not all) are fighting for equality. They are the ones we see in groups of 10 or so picketing gay pride parades and passing out Bible passages condemning homosexuality.

They enrage us, they incite us, and they often make us bitter.

Homophobes threaten our very existence. They would love for us to not exist, or at the very least, to be invisible to them and everyone else. They are oblivious to their own heterosexual privilege and see any attempt to normalize gay and lesbian relationships as a threat and "shoving sexuality in their faces." They see nothing wrong with making out with and groping their girlfriends or boyfriends in public while shunning a gay couple for walking down the sidewalk holding hands.

While these people are easy to counter and argue with, I don't believe they should be the sole reason to fight for gay marriage. In fact, I wish we could just ignore them until they change their minds. Unfortunately, because they rely so often on lies, defamation, and propaganda we can not ignore them. To ignore them would be giving up our voices to defend ourselves against their malicious attacks, as well as defending ourselves to the rest of society, to whom the homophobes are feeding misinformation.

Another set of anti gay marriage folks are the "gender integrationists." These folks are aplenty (or a couple) at Opine Editorials and elsewhere. They are the folks who insist on innate, immutable gender roles and the importance of a biological mommy and (most importantly) a daddy in every child's life regardless of circumstance. They often can not even acknowledge that sometimes (often, even) a biological mommy, daddy, baby situation just is not in the best interest of the child(ren) they claim to want to protect. They are also against gay couples adopting children on that same basis of them allegedly selfishly "intentionally depriving a child of a mother or father."

I would love to continue a discussion on gender roles. However, I am not inclined to discuss it with those who rely on knee-jerk reactions of "innate gender roles" without reputable evidence to back it up. Obviously, to me, gender is part biology/evolution and part social upbringing. Some things (like physical size and strength) are innate and biologically based, but many (like women belong in the home and only men should work) are not. Because there are biological differences in gender, I believe, is no reason to continue to perpetuate societal gender roles that have outgrown any evolutionary usefulness.

I wholeheartedly acknowledge that many boys may need a strong male role model in their lives, and girls a strong female role model. But I am not willing to discount gays and lesbians from adopting children on that basis alone, when role models can be people other than parents. I have seen the studies showing that adopted children of gay and lesbian families turn out just as "good" as those of heterosexual families.

I have also seen the many position statements that acknowledge this. Have our opponents?

Do they really attribute the entire body of scientific evidence regarding children raised by gay and lesbian parents to some vast liberal gay agenda?


I wonder why, if people claim to not be biased against gays and lesbians and not have ulterior motives, one would ignore all the most recent professional statements and research.

Sometimes it truly is hard to sift through the various agendas to get to what is really the heart of the matter. I am concerned that some of the fellas at Opine Editorials are either deceitful about their motives in the gay marriage debate, or not able to articulate what is important to them if they are so unwilling to concede what medical professionals and child welfare leagues are saying really is best for children.

That is where I misunderstand them a lot of the time.

It is true that our relationships demand the same respect as heterosexual relationships. Why? Because just as heterosexuals' romantic relationships and families are the epicenter of their lives, so are ours.

It is also true that gay marriage and federal, state, and local legal recognition of these relationships is one major step in the right direction towards true equality and lessening of discrimination, violence, and other unfair behaviors towards LGB (and sometimes T) people.

However, I now believe that one step in the fight for the end of discrimination is acknowledging that, on a basic level, gay couples will never be the same as straight couples in one major way: the ability to procreate.

Do I think this means that gay couples should be banned from marrying each other? No.

But I think if a change were to be made in the overall definition of marriage, there definitely needs to be a conversation regarding procreative rights, genetic engineering, and adoption.

Further because a change in the definition of marriage warrants discussion of these complex issues is NO reason to immediately deny the rights of gay people to get married on the basis of "it just being too complicated a discussion." I understand that many people are traditionalists and will automatically discount gay marriage on that basis alone. However, it just is not fair to continue to reward one type of romantic relationship legally and socially, while punishing another just as valid type. If one agrees that that type of relationship is valid and deserves respect. If one believes in human dignity.

Heterosexual couples, by their very nature, usually are able to biologically bear children that are genetically related to both parents. However, if they are not able to do so because of infertility, they can choose to undergo various fertility and/or family planning options, including artificial insemination, donor eggs, surrogate motherhood, adoption, and IVF treatment.

In that sense, a couple who undergoes any such treatment will usually only be biologically related to one parent. Or in the case of adoption, the child will not be related genetically to either parent. So it is my opinion that so long as heterosexual couples can legally pursue these methods of fertilization and family-planning, so should gay and lesbian couples be allowed. Regardless of whether their relationship is called "marriage," "domestic partnership," or "civil union."

As John Howard has brought up in previous blog comments, technology may be available in the future that allows same-sex conception of gametes that are genetically related (but we don't know how related) to both members of the couple.*

His major concerns with this technology appear to be that it is bad public health policy (resources diverted towards follow-up on children created this way, potential problems stemming from the new technology costing even more resources, poor segments of the population retaining the inheritable diseases while rich segments get to pick and choose their children's genetics, all that resulting in contempt for poor people and their natural diseases). As a public health person myself, I can acknowledge that these, finally, seem like real issues in the gay marriage debate.

If this truly is what many people fear with the passage of gay marriage, though, then why not shift the focus from defamation of gay people to one of a discussion on genetic engineering? Further, genetic engineering also does not only include gay and lesbian couples. Nor do I think that any of this should preclude a gay and lesbian couple from equal marriage rights. I think a compromise could be reached that banned gay couples from conceiving genetically engineered children together (until more is known on the topic) and still giving them legal benefits and protections, as well as adoption rights and the same rights to fertility treatments that heterosexual couples have.

I don't think many people have even thought that far ahead from their own knee-jerk disgust with gays and lesbians.

I would LOVE for the discussion to, for once, go beyond that. I would love to learn more about genetic engineering.

I guess I am just bored with arguing about and justifying my relationship to people who will never understand what being gay truly means.

But I would like this article to open a peaceful discussion on genetic engineering if anyone is interested.

[I am purposefully ignoring John Howard's sentence for the time being: "We also need to figure out how to produce fewer gay people who are unable to love someone they can have kids with."]

Thursday, December 4, 2008

12 Types of Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

Jonah Goldberg's article, "An ugly attack on Mormons" was sure to rile up more than a few people. A little research on Golderg found that he is a conservative flame-baiter on any controversial topic du jour.

The gist of the article I mention, is basically that evil liberal supporters of same-sex marriage are attacking, completely unprovoked, Mormons. And that Mormons are the real victims in the Prop 8 hoopla in California.

Blahblahblah. Obvious flame-baiting.

Besides the fact that no one can prove whether the attacks are real or not, most supporters of gay marriage do not approve of physical attacks and violence. That anyone would attribute the actions of any extremist person or group to an entire population of people is an example of pure intellectual laziness.

Goldberg's article collected well over 1000 comments. Among these, not surprisingly were a mix of pro and anti same-sex marriage arguments.

I have noticed many trends in debating the merits of same-sex marriage online. I have noticed many ignorant, many religious-based arguments. However, it is my opinion that they can all be summarized into just a few basic ideas.

Here, from the collection of comments from Goldberg's article and a couple of other articles I easily found online, are the

1. The "I'm-Too-Manly-to-Say-I-Like-Gays-But-Still-Supportive-of-Their-Rights" Married Straight Guy:" "Hey, whatevs. If the homos want to jump into a 50%divorce rate, why not let them be miserable like the rest of us."

[Okay, while technically not an argument against same-sex marriage, this one annoys me.]

2. The "My Bigotry is for The Children" Olde Towne Crier: "Gay marriage puts sexuality in front of children long before they need to be considering it. Kindergarteners don't need to be taught about homosexuality."

[because, you know, straight marriage doesn't do that at all. Just the Gay Marriage.]

3. The I'm-Just-Jealous-that-Gays-Are-Happy-and-I'm-Not-Repressed-Homosexual- Straight-Man: "Gay rights??? The freedom to be openly sexual, the freedom to make others recognize your sexuality so you feel good. That is individual and self-centered by nature. Marriage is a sacrifice, people! I made that sacrifice! You don't deserve to be happy if I don't!"

[because, you know, allowing yourself to be happy basically equates to sinning]

4. The "Gays Are Nazis" Fundamentalist/Extremist Religious Follower:" "The 'Big Reveal' was to find out that gays are nothing but a fascist splinter group,that villified white heterosexuals, enjoys the benefits of being white, and when a democratic decision makes a decision, they take a page out of the Third Reich's book on how to hunt down people that disagree with them. Isn't it amazing to find out that fascism was also in the closet. Boy, was I right that Obama's victory would flush out the closeted bigots. The Gay Reich is on the march!" [note: exact wording taking from an actual comment to Golderg's article]

5. The Psychic Harbinger of The Day of Reckoning [dun dun dun!]: "There are many abominable causes, such as gay rights in America that are about to boil over. The day of reckoning is coming. There are those that are tired of seeing the sickness that is on display daily in America. Those from that silent majority are getting restless, when the pot finally boils over I believe the carnage that will result, will be greater than anyone could have ever imagined."

[Again an actual argument taken from Golberg's article]

6. Alas, beware The Dreaded Circle of No Return Argument: "Gay Marriage is wrong because it's against tradition because marriage is for heterosexuals because heterosexuals produce babies so gay marriage is wrong because it's against tradition because marriage is for heterosexuals because heterosexuals produce babies so gay marriage is wrong."

[It's best to just avoid entering this one altogether, as their argument is circular, and thus, neverending.]

7. The "Gays-Are-All-God's-People-But-They-Shouldn't-Force-Their-Lifestyles-on-the-Rest-of-Us" argument usually goes a little something like this: "It is homosexuals' God-given right to choose whichever lifestyle they wish. Christians are obliged to treat homosexuals compassionately, as they, like all of us, are children of God. If tolerance were the Gay Rights movement agenda, I would agree. If the issue were simply about a State-issued legal contract binding two consenting homosexual adults, I would support it. But the Gay Rights movement has demonstrated the issue is much broader: putting homosexual "discrimination" on par with racism and sexism, in order to legally force complete acceptance by society. Anyone who dissents is threatened with slurs or legal action."

[Yes, folks. We all choose our lifestyles of Homosexuality (let me find the ICD-9 code for that) and take our Radical Gay Agendas everywhere with us, threatening innocent little Cwistians]

8. The "I'm-a-Patriotic-Blue-Blooded-Gun-Totin-American-Born-American-Yet-Don't-Understand-Democracy" Argument: "Radical, liberal, progressive judges have overruled the will of the people in California. The Supreme Court of California has ruled that a law, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. The law was voted on by the citizens of the state back in 2000. This judicial activism is a direct attack on American morality and traditional family values. This is outrageous, offensive, and the good people of California have been dealt a terrible blow."

[Yep, in my world too, is a Supreme Court composed of a Republican, conservative majority called, "progressive" and "liberal" and "activist." Only if it's opposite day!]

9. The "I'm Not Bigoted, I Swear! But Every Single Gay Person is Responsible For the Attacks on the Mormon Church Post Prop-8" Argument: "I was indifferent about the issue until I have seen the aftermath of protests and vandalism. I don't think MLK would have gotten anywhere in the realm of public opinion by sending powder filled envelopes to the state office in AL. I too think that sam-sex marriage is inevitable, but it will inevitably be delayed by the tactics that are being used."

10. The Insane Indecipherable Armageddon Argument: "we will all rot in HELL 4 siding with the DEVIL and his adgenda.To force people to do things against their beliefs is an adbomination .Forcing a photographer those behind this we burn in the fire of HELL.They should of got another member of the Anti-christ to shoot the pics."

[Perhaps I should borrow this person's tinfoil cap and then I, too, will be able to predict the future with such certainty]

11. The-I'm-Too-Ignorant-or-Stupid-to-Learn-What-Gay-Means Argument: "No one is denying homosexuals the right to marry. They have every right to get married, just like heterosexuals do. They can find an opposite sexed partner to do it."

[Just like how straight people can go find a same-sex person to enter into a "Homosexual Relationship" with. See below.]

And, finally, last but not least:

12. "I'm-Either-A-Proud-Gay-Hater-or-Jose-Solano-Who-Doesn't-Hate-Gays" Argument: "If homosexuals wish to obtain special privileges for their relationship they should campaign for a 'Homosexual Relationship License' and let the people vote on its approval..." or, "A man having sex with a man, or a woman with a woman, is a naturally absurd activity, an absurd relationship. No amount of clever sophistry can ever remove that realization from the depths of their consciences. So when the objective therapist or friend communicates from the foundation of this reality, he/she needs to realize that, of course, the homosexual unconsciously realizes this also. The homosexual suffers immensely in trying to reconcile his/her wants with what he/she deeply recognizes as absurd. Almost always the wants win out. This is generally the same with almost all manifestations of concupiscence. It is a truly lamentable hoax that has been thrust on homosexuals by telling them they have been born that way and cannot change. Homosexual scientists themselves have contributed to this hoax by insinuating the existence of a “gay gene” and allowing this debunked myth to proliferate because it suited their political agenda in gaining societal affirmation."

[Funny. Jose, I mean, "others" insist so very admanantly that they know about the course of human nature and science, as if it is all established fact based on scientific reasoning. He feigns to know something that well-established science doesn't yet know. Something like human sexual orientation, which, can not possibly be absolutely known or measured at this time. But I suppose we should just take this hater's word for it. I mean, "Jose's" word for it.]

While there are probably more arguments out there, these are by far the most common types.

I really urge opponents of same-sex marriage to do better.

Or not. The more ignorant and crazy they sound, the better for us. Until next time...

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

I had a very busy weekend and first day back at work after the holidays today. There are lots of sick people in Chicago and today was a bit overwhelming.

So, I am sorry for the re-post from one year ago, but this is all I can do for now. I wrote this while thinking of a dear family friend who passed, much too early of AIDS several years ago now. Here is what is left of any creative writing talent I have.

In honor of World AIDS Day 2008, my friend "B," the brave patients that I watch fight the disease every day, and those we have lost in the struggle:

In honor of B for World AIDS Day, 12/1/07.

You were too young.

Once she was beautful. I think she is beautiful still.

How does this happen?

Your name kept coming up, your name was everywhere that night.

Every time we listen to that song.

A moment of perfect grace. You are ravishing.

We kept coming back. Coming back to you.

I'll never forget the way you looked.

We knew it was you.

The night you died, we all went bar-hopping. I'm sure you would approve.

Your name still comes up every time we go out. To that one bar. To where it used to be.

When so much is yet to be writ-

We went looking for you once. Your grave was unmarked.


Yet we kept finding it anyway.

We laughed and reminisced through the jukebox of frosted glasses of cheap draft beer and smoke-filled rooms.



Why save your songs for spring? There are more.

We held back our tears. Then we cried.

The Soul of the World awaited him and he would soon be a part of it.

We cried.

You are ravishing...

What is a stranger doing in a strange land?

We wondered. I wondered, what happened?

We hid from you before. We didn't want you to tell on us. We danced and we hid.

Then we drank with you.

And we cried.

You saw us anyway. And you told on us.

I'm sure you would approve.

We all do now.

Once he was beautiful. I'm sure he is beautiful still.