Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gays, Lies and The Presidential Election 2012

I admit it. I fell for a Republican lie. I know, I know. I should've had my wits about me, but I foolishly accepted a story at face value.

Kyle Wood, a Republican volunteer, claimed he had been beaten up and believed it was because he was not supporting the openly gay Democrat candidate but supporting the Republican instead.

Knowing the strength of feeling on this, I accepted this story even if it didn't quite feel right. I think that with a few recent examples of faux gay hate reports in the USA, I've become more sceptical so put my reservations down to that.

Well more fool me. He has now admitted he lied. Worse, he probably did it to implicate the gay Democrats he obviously despises.

Not to be out done, a supposedly Republican supporter (who "happens to be gay" as I find US conservative gays like to say) claimed to have been thrown out of a Romney event. The truth may not be quite as simple as that. Again political activists lying to make their opponents seem intolerant.

Dearest American gays. Stop this. There are a plenty of valid political arguments, even on LGBT rights, that both sides can use without the need for such underhand and dishonourable tactics.

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Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Right To Discriminate: Is Nick Griffin On To Something?

Until the world develops a better social media meteorological prediction tool, we are left at the mercy of the occasional Twitterstorm. This week's storm brewed after Nick Griffin made some foolish comments about organising some sort of "justice" mob to accost the winners of the long running Bed and Breakfast dispute.

I've discussed this dispute, whereby a same-sex couple were denied a double-bed in a Bed and Breakfast by the Christian owner, before but I feel it has become necessary to re-evaluate where I stand 2 years on.

The USA has been in the grip of so-called "culture wars" for a long time and it has only ramped up over the last decade. What has happened there, religious schools sacking secularists or University's sacking someone over their stance on equal marriage, is now happening here. We must find a solution, and soon, before the culture wars cause permanent damage to our society.

The debacle is just one example from this week of discrimination. An 11 year old "atheist" (i.e. just someone who doesn't wish to swear a duty to God, nor the Queen but nobody is perfect) has had his request to join the Scouts denied. Turns out you can believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and be a member but no belief is just not allowed. Meanwhile the housing association manager demoted because he said he disagreed with churches holding same-sex marriages on Facebook has taken the housing association to court. No one has yet pointed out his stupidity in getting upset about something that is, alas, not on the agenda. Oh well, still seems a tad harsh.

As these three cases suggest this is not a one-sided issue. Attempts by anti-marriage equality activists to paint Christianity as some persecuted characteristic ring hollow when they do already (i.e. in the case of the Scouts) exactly what they accuse secularists of wanting to do. But this equally applies to the secularist side too!

We live in a country where hotels still describe themselves as for gay men only (just without the "No Straights Allowed" signs), where bars deny heterosexuals entry (and I have been on the receiving end of that because I, and my police officer date for the evening, "looked" straight) and where people offering out flatshares dictate what gender, sexuality or race (!) they would like prospective flatmates to be. Is that right or wrong?

In the last couple of years I've discussed this issues with others. Many have defended the idea that gay hotels and bars should be allowed to discriminate so that they are "safe places" but also said B&B owners don't have the right to discriminate over who stays there! And in a similar vein you will see Christians getting severely annoyed at cases such as the housing manager being demoted but fighting tooth and nail to ensure Christian schools can deny employment to LGBT people. I cannot bear this hypocrisy any longer. Either we must live in a country where no one has the right to discriminate at all (an unlikely situation given our species seemingly innate desire to hate each other) or where people do have the right to discriminate (a deeply troubling and dispiriting prospect I accept).

So it is time to decide: will liberals accept that gay bars can't discriminate against heterosexuals or will Christians accept they can be demoted, fired and mocked for their beliefs if they conflict with their employers? If not then perhaps they need to reexamine their positions.

Although I think we can all agree that "Girls get in free" nights at bars and clubs are tragic. Agreed?

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Sunday, 14 October 2012

I Agree With Gordon Wilson But I Don't Think He Agrees With Himself #equalmarriage

Gordon Wilson, former leader of the SNP, is just never going to be on the same page about marriage equality as this liberal unionist.

He has come out firmly against it before and is now set to be even clearer at an upcoming Coalition for Marriage SNP Conference fringe. He said to BBC Scotland:

"What you have to watch is when the state believes that it has a superior claim to tell its own citizens what to do and what to think."
I couldn't agree more. The state must never demand people do something (or not do something) without extremely good reasons (such as criminalising murder). Freedom must be a guiding aim of any Government.

Unfortunately Gordon Wilson's concept of the Government keeping it's nose out of other people's business is that the Government should not allow people to do things he doesn't like. In fact he feels it is fascistic of the Government to allow people to do things he disagrees with. He also thinks it is fascistic not to enforce the will of the (supposed) majority upon those who want to live in a way they disagree with.

I think he may want to refer to one of Benito Mussolini's definitions of fascism:

Fascism is a religious conception in which man is seen in his immanent relationship with a superior law and with an objective Will that transcends the particular individual and raises him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. Whoever has seen in the religious politics of the Fascist regime nothing but mere opportunism has not understood that Fascism besides being a system of government is also, and above all, a system of thought.
I have a great deal of sympathy with people who are worried they might have to marry icky gays or not be allowed to be nasty about them in front of children (even if I wouldn't want to go down the local for a pint with them). Their right to be utter bastards (and my right to call them such, after Lord Carey's Nazi comments I've stopped caring about being nice) should be protected and we must ensure any future legislation ensures that nobody has to do anything they don't want to. But whining about Nazi marriage equality enthusiasts and fascist Government proposals for equal marriage does not strengthen the case for religious liberty.

By attacking the right to marry whom you please rather than a state mandated definition of who is acceptable, you allow the Government the right to make that decision and others. What happens when they decide which God you get to worship? Either you believe in the freedom to live and believe how you wish, or you believe that majority opinion and/or Government authority can control your choices.

It is time for the anti-marriage equality campaigners to understand exactly what they are saying when they compare us to fascists.

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Lord Carey And False Equivalence At Tory Party Conference

Tomorrow Lord Carey will be giving a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in which he will decry the evils of marriage equality. He will be citing examples from around the world as to the horrors that have been unleashed (such as mothers and fathers being referred to as parents in official documents, oh the humanity!) once marriage equality is brought in.

But he will use one example that is rather curious.

‘We can be sure any move away from our traditional understanding of marriage is to put our society on a slippery slope where the unintended consequences could be shocking.'

'I note, for example, that on August 28 the BBC reported that a public notary in Sao Paulo has accepted a civil union between a man and two women.
Hmm... but that is not a result of marriage equality and is to do with a civil union (i.e. a civil partnerships). Is Lord Carey stating he is against civil partnerships now? Mere months ago he was using the fact LGB people had civil partnerships as an excuse to argue against marriage equality.

Please do explain Lord Carey... do you support legal rights for same sex couples (or "friendships" as you like to refer to them)? Or are you against any such move because it'll be a slippery slope to cats sleeping with dogs and fish fingers with custard? Hmm...

In other Tory news, the Telegraph reports a Coalition for Marriage survey found a large majority of local party Tory Chairmen want the party to drop proposals for equal marriage. Putting aside that many Coalition for Marriage surveys have been quite flawed, this shows how shallow the changes David Cameron claims to have made are. Whilst he has detoxified the Tory brand to some extent, he failed to detoxify the party. 

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist