Tag Archives: sexual orientation

Gay conversion therapy debate flares up again

I suffer occasionally from a case of politics-induced heartburn.

It’s flaring up again. The catalyst this time is gay conversion therapy, which is being debated in the Texas Legislature. Some lawmakers want to make it illegal to force someone to undergo the quackery associated with trying to “convert” a gay person into a straight person. Most of them, though, seem satisfied with allowing individuals to endure such nonsense.

House Bill 517 gets scrutiny

A handful of states have made gay conversion therapy illegal. They recognize that a person’s sexual orientation is part of his or her DNA. It’s who they are. Therefore, it is impossible to “convert” someone from one orientation and guide them toward something else.

It’s a belief I have held for a long time, that one does not “choose” to become gay. Nor do they “choose” to become straight, for that matter.

I am nearly 70 years of age. My memory fails me at times, but so help me, I do not ever recall a moment when I was coming of age all those years ago when I gave any thought about whether I preferred to be intimate with women.

Thus, I find it impossible to believe that those who are gay make that choice consciously.

I am left to wonder two things: Why would anyone choose to be vilified by those around them? Why, too, is it often so difficult for those who are gay to “come out” to their loved ones?

Let me clear the air on one key point as well. Even discussing anyone’s sexuality makes me highly uncomfortable. It is a subject that I consider to be no one’s damn business. It is a part of one’s life that should remain utterly, completely and totally private.

Not everyone believes that, apparently. Some legislators in Texas and in many other states believe someone’s sexual orientation should become a matter of public policy.

That’s where this idiocy of “gay conversion therapy” comes into play.

I know I’m going to get grief for stating all this. That’s all right. I get that many Americans feel strongly about gay conversion and believe in their heart and soul that it’s a legitimate psychological therapy. I am not one of them.

Still, the heartburn I suffer from this discussion is real.

There is one constructive way to look at this, though. It is that we’re actually debating this issue in Texas. Maybe that’s a sign of progress.

Smollett ‘hate crime’ story is inflicting some casualties

The Jussie Smollett Saga is inflicting some serious damage, regardless of how this story concludes.

Smollett is the openly gay African-American actor who said two men attacked him, declaring that he was in “MAGA Country’; Smollett said they assaulted him and hung a noose around his neck. Smollett stars in the Fox TV series “Empire.” The series producers have written Smollett out of the final two episodes of the current season; Smollett’s longer-term future with “Empire” remains unclear.

Then the police started sniffing around and they determined that Smollett orchestrated his own hate crime victimhood. Smollett is now charged with a fourth-degree felony of disorderly conduct.

The damage? It’s going to be inflicted on actual victims of hate crimes. Will actual victims of actual crimes be reluctant now to report them to the police? Will they fear the cops won’t believe them when they allege that someone has attacked them merely because of their race or religious faith or their sexual orientation?

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson seemed genuinely angry the other morning while he announced Smollett’s arrest. He is angry because of the time, money and assorted ancillary resources wasted on an allegedly phony hate crime.

The MAGA reference, of course, deals with Donald Trump, his signature slogan to “Make America Great Again.” To my mind, though, the Trump effect is a minor part of this story.

The bigger part of this saga deals with how the allegations against Smollett — who allegedly paid two brothers to assault him — will impact legitimate hate crime concerns.

Smollett, naturally, denies doing anything wrong. He stands by his initial complaint. The police, though, seem equally certain that he faked the attack.

I just fear what effect this story is going to have on future reports of actual hate crimes. My hope that it won’t inhibit such reporting is waging combat with that fear for the worst.

As for who to believe, I am leaning toward siding with the cops.

Homosexuality gaining acceptance

Homosexuality isn’t the demon among a growing number of Americans, says a study by the Pew Research Center.

The study indicates that in almost all demographic groups, homosexuality is more widely accepted than it was in 2013. Almost all groups.

Who doesn’t think that way? Conservative Republicans, according to Pew.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/only-one-group-americans-become-224300984.html

Does that surprise you? I didn’t think so. It didn’t me, either.

The tide of history is turning against those who continue to harbor ill will toward gay people. We’re seeing a growing acceptance of gay marriage; certainly, more Americans believe gay people should not face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

As for the Pew figures on conservative Republicans’ continued antipathy toward gay people, I think it speaks to the difficulty the GOP is going to face in future national elections.

The nation is changing in many substantive ways. Many pundits have noted the increasing numbers of ethnic and racial minorities and how those groups tend to vote against GOP candidates.

The conservative wing of that party is continuing to call the shots on how to shape the party’s governing platform — and it doesn’t include a more inclusive outlook toward the LGBT community.

Whether individual candidates adhere to that national platform often is up for discussion. Still, when the party hierarchy, driven by its most conservative members, put anti-gay language on the record, voters will take notice.

 

 

Pence to revisit religious freedom act

A friend of mine posted this tidbit on Facebook, so I thought I’d share it here.

“So who needs a religious freedom law anyway. Last time I checked, you could go to any church you want. You can even go to one where they wave snakes around if that’s your thing. Or you don’t have to go to any of ’em. You can go to a mosque, a synagogue, a cathedral, a tarpaper shack. Or you can stay home and watch re-runs on MeTV. Ain’t nobody need no law on religious freedom. Oh, but if you’re in business, you don’t have a right to discriminate. Religion stops when you invite the public to your door. Got it?”

His target? It’s the Indiana law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/237544-indiana-governor-in-crisis-mode

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been taking it on the chin since signing the bill into law. He’s now seeking to amend it to ensure that businesses cannot discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation.

It’s the sexual orientation element that’s gotten so many folks riled up.

The stated intent is to protect people’s religious principles. The effect in the eyes of critics has been that the law now gives business owners license to discriminate against gay individuals or same-sex couples.

Gov. Pence has been on the defensive ever since signing the bill. He’s now seeking to fix the law and I give him credit for recognizing the need to protect his state’s residents from undue — and illegal — discrimination.

I won’t question his motives for seeking to change the law. I do feel the need to point out that Gov. Pence is considering a run for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

 

Indy Star goes out front with 'Fix it' editorial

Newspaper editorials have their place: usually on a page marked clearly as “opinion,” or “comment,” or “editorial.”

Except when the management of a newspaper decides an issue is so critical, so important and so compelling that they take that editorial to the front page, where everyone who sees the paper can see what’s on the editors’ minds.

The Indianapolis Star has gone out front in today’s edition with an editorial demanding that Indiana legislators and Gov. Mike Pence “fix” the state’s religious freedom law.

Good for the Star.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/03/indy-star-fix-religious-freedom-law-now-204758.html?hp=b2_l3

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been seen by critics as a pretext to allow businesses to discriminate against citizens because of their sexual orientation. It protects them from lawsuits if they deny service to gay individuals. The LGBT community across the nation — and its allies — have unleashed a barrage of criticism against Indiana lawmakers and the governor for approving the bill and signing it into law.

The editorial’s headline screams “Fix This Now.” Pence is scheduled to have a news conference today to address the issue. It’s not clear whether he’ll seek to amend it, or whether he’s actually empowered to repeal it unilaterally.

The Star is asking for a new law to add to the religious freedom law that exempts LGBT residents from its provisions.

The bottom line here is the bottom line. The state is facing a serious economic impact if businesses pull out of Indiana. The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four tournament takes place next weekend in Indianapolis and the repercussions of this law can be significant.

The law looks to many folks — me included — like a pretext to sanction discrimination against a certain group of Americans. It shouldn’t stand as it is written.

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/?tfp_show=100&tfp_page=2&tfp_id=IN_IS

 

Good doctor snaps out of it

No one ever should question Ben Carson’s smarts as a neurosurgeon.

He’s one of the best ever, in the world. But the good doctor stepped in it big time during a CNN interview and has actually apologized for some remarks he made about homosexuality and how he thought people “become” gay.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/234695-carson-apologizes-for-comments-on-sexuality

Dr. Carson told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that one needs to look at the prison population to understand that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. He said prisoners have begun their sentences as straight but come out as gay.

Sexual orientation? The doctor called it a “choice.”

He’s taken it back. Carson, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, still doesn’t believe marriage equality, preferring to support civil unions for gay couples. But he’s said he’s sorry for the offense he caused by using the prisoners-choose-to-be-gay example.

“I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation,” he said on Facebook. “I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.”

Apology accepted, Dr. Carson. Now, let’s stick to the issues that we can control. Sexual orientation isn’t one of them.

 

Sexuality is no 'lifestyle choice'

Mike Huckabee is entitled to believe what he believes about homosexuality.

I just happen to think he’s mistaken when he compares a person’s sexual orientation to drinking alcohol or cursing in public.

http://nypost.com/2015/02/01/huckabee-says-gay-marriage-is-just-like-alcohol-or-profanity/

That’s his latest take on an issue that is likely to be a key driver in the upcoming 2016 Republican presidential nomination campaign.

Huckabee is a former Baptist preacher and a one-time Arkansas governor. He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that while he opposes gay marriage he wants to be tolerant of those who choose to marry someone of the same gender. As the New York Post reported: “I accept a lot of people as friends maybe whose lifestyle I don’t necessarily adhere to, agree with or practice. Doesn’t mean that I can’t have a good relationship with anyone or lead them or govern them.”

“We’re so sensitive to make sure we don’t offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can’t have the convictions that they have had for over 2,000 years,” he said.

I get that, too. I also am a practicing Christian, but I happen to have a different view of the issue than the former governor.

The notion that many folks have that someone’s sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice simply defies logic, as explained to me over many years by my own gay friends. To a person, whenever the subject comes up — and I don’t bring it up myself, ever — about their orientation, they say essentially the same thing: “Why would I choose to be scorned, ridiculed and vilified?”

I haven’t found the answer to that one.