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Evening equality round-up

Marriage equality NOM Exposed

By Adam Bink

A few items of note:

  • Louis, formerly of NOM, dishes the skinny on NOM’s “illusion of support” out there. Fascinating and a must-read.
  • Stay tuned to this site for more on Louis tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM EST.
  • As posted by Mackenzie earlier today, support for same-sex marriage in New York State, in a new independent poll from Siena, now at 58%. Remarkable. If not now, when, NY State Senate?
  • Basic Rights Oregon has a new ad running on marriage equality.
  • Former conservative Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) goes to bat against the “homophobes” in the Republican Party. Nice whistleblowing,  though we could do without that term “homosexuals”, Alan.
  • Not closely tied on equality, but Think Progress reports that Courage Campaign was named in the US Chamber of Commerce’s creepy Powerpoint on how they’re going to hire US military contractors to investigate our families and discredit us because we’re doing too much good work exposing how the Chamber and the Koch brothers are trying to turn America into a country of, by, and for the rich, powerful and corporate. Check out slide #2 in this presentation. I guess the saying “you know you’re doing something right when” goes here, as it did when Glenn Beck put us on his blackboard, Brian Brown attacked us, etc. Oy.
  • Gender identity legislation goes down in Maryland, killed 27-20 in committee.
  • Meanwhile, legalizing same-sex marriage is being considered in Uruguay.
  • UPDATE: One more — a great video about the life of Ali Forney. The Ali Forney Center, which houses homeless LGBT youths, is facing budget cuts from the state budget. They have about 200 beds. There are over 1,000 homeless LGBT youth each night. That will increase while the number of beds, and other support, decreases. Please watch the video, and if you live in New York State, get in touch with your legislator.

What else are you reading?

68 Comments

  • 1. Ann S.  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    §

  • 2. Alan E.  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Zack Ford has been putting some good stuff out since he started at Think Progress (like the Rep. Alan Simpson article). Go over there and give him some love amidst all the radical commentary going on.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/11/alan-simpson-

    If you haven't read Zack's stuff before, he's an openly gay, atheist activist who has been blogging for only a short time. He has put out some pretty good stuff on his own blog, but TPM has given him a much larger platform.

  • 3. JonT  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

    From Louis' article:

    '

    I am sharing this with you because I want you to realize that NOM is a small group of devoutly religious Catholics supported by a couple of undisclosed sources. NOM is essentially made up of Brian Brown, its President, Maggie Gallagher, the CEO, a handful of other Board members (who are scattered across the country involved in other matters), a couple of advisors to Mr. Brown and a small and largely incompetent office staff.

    Their social media management isn’t operated by NOM – they’re not big enough for that nor do they understand social media! As Jeremy Hooper detailed, Opus Fidelis manages NOM’s social media and websites.

    That is all that is standing between you and the freedom to marry. There is no grassroots opposition. While they have proven to be quite successful over the past couple years, I think it’s time to put NOM’s size into perspective. Are you going to let a handful of fringe Catholics (with whom many Catholics disagree on marriage) stand between you and the freedom to marry?'

    It may be that they (NOM) are indeed small, but they sure have a lot of money to throw around.

  • 4. Rhie  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Links for later I see :)

    Keep up the roundups like this.

  • 5. Kathleen  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

  • 6. Michelle Evans  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Yes, wouldn't it be great if those anonymous donors could be brought out into the light? Maybe it's the infamous Koch brothers themselves. That would explain why Brian and Maggie have apparently unlimited funds. I think they put out their emails asking for donations from other people is just a smoke screen so they can say they are grassroots when they really don't care who else gives them a buck.

    Thank you Louis for helping to expose NOM. And thank you for starting to fight back against these jerks and all they are doing to keep their bigotry in place.

  • 7. Sagesse  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    And more to read later.

  • 8. Michelle Evans  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    The new post concerning Louis does not come up when clicked on. Just a "404 Error." Hoping that everything is okay at the P8TT.

  • 9. adambink  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Alan, I know this probably wasn't deliberate on your part, but in the future, I don't think it's necessary to mention that Zack is an atheist. It's an example of a match that can sometimes lead to unnecessary flame wars here when it's not central to a discussion or a point. I think we can agree that Zack's work is great, whether he's atheist or religious or agnostic. Thanks for helping on this, Alan.

    That aside, I agree, Zack's work is tremendous. I'm proud to say Zack won a little contest I ran last summer with Freedom to Marry to send three openly LGBT bloggers to Netroots Nation so they could learn, network and grow. He certainly has done all of that and more in that time. I agree with Alan, check out the full piece.

  • 10. adambink  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I mistakenly hit publish when it's actually going up tomorrow morning. Sorry for the mistake.

  • 11. RebeccaRGB  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Louis! :)

  • 12. RebeccaRGB  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    It actually popped up in my RSS reader, so I've already read it, even though I wasn't supposed to. ;) I won't give spoilers, though. :)

  • 13. Sagesse  |  April 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Palm Center and Williams Institute merge.

    Two Top Think Tanks Merge
    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/04/1

  • 14. Kathleen  |  April 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Wow. That's huge. I wonder brought this on. As a side note, and in the realm of useless trivia, these two organizations are are associated with my two almae matres, though neither was there when I was at the respective schools.

  • 15. Alan E.  |  April 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    The only reason I mention it is because that's what half his blog was about. It's rare to see many positive comments about atheists, and promoting someone I think is a healthy mention. Yes, I'm aware that that flame wars can come about, but doesn't that then raise the level of the original comment if it is indeed embedded in a positive message?

  • 16. Michelle Evans  |  April 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Looking forward to the morning post.

  • 17. Ronnie  |  April 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Gay UNC student assaulted; officials call it a hate crime http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/9423978/

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — University of North Carolina student Quinn Matney is gay. For that, he says, someone scarred him for life.

    Matney said a man walked up to him Saturday near a foot bridge on the Chapel Hill campus, called him a derogatory name, told him, "here is a taste of hell," and held a heated object to his skin for several seconds, leaving third and fourth-degree burns.

    (me) I wish I could say that there are not enough words, but there are plenty of (extremely strong)words so I will just keep them to myself while I try not to break my wireless keyboard…..The school says they "will bring the strongest possible charges against the attacker."….hope it's a long, LONG prison time, & if the attacker was a student I hope he is expelled & all credits revoked (was this worth it Mr. Homophobe?). He will probably never get a job, too bad (not really)…

    I hope Quinn heals quickly & strongly & wish him all the best….. <3….Ronnie

  • 18. Alan E.  |  April 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Pam's House Blend has a good writeup on this incident, plus additional info on the environments on campus.
    http://pamshouseblend.com/diary/19038/nc-savage-a

  • 19. JohanfromNL  |  April 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    "I don't think it’s necessary to mention that Zack is an atheist. It’s an example of a match that can sometimes lead to unnecessary flame wars here when it’s not central to a discussion or a point."

    Oh come on, this is ridiculous, get a grip! Leave out the openly gay part as well as it is not central to the discussion or point in the referred blog post. It can sometimes lead to flame wars on internet forums.

  • 20. Bob  |  April 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    ditto, get a grip!!!! his being an atheist is not an example of a match, it is a FACT,,,,,, which helps describe him,,, i.e openly gay, athiest, activist, blogger and yes he's good at it, are we being asked to sensor part of what defines us???

  • 21. the lone ranger  |  April 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Adam, what if he were a *Catholic* or a *Mormon* openly gay activist? Could that not be relevant to the themes he was blogging about? Even as a "radical atheist" (as I've been called), I certainly wouldn't be offended seeing any of those adjectives in a post, and I'm reasonably confident I'm not alone in that thinking (as the earlier accompanying comments indicate). If those descriptive terms provide ancillary information about the person or the organization to better allow us to understand their intentions, then they seem appropriate to use. Scientia est potentia!

  • 22. Rhie  |  April 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I have to agree. If the poster had said "This guy is mormon/Catholic/Jedi/Atheist and that means you MUST read him/you MUST NOT read him because of that" that would be one thing. As a general descriptor? This is overkill, Adam.

  • 23. Ed Cortes  |  April 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Late to the party here :(

  • 24. adambink  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Whether or not he's atheist is irrelevant to the substance of his work and the substance of his comment. That he is gay is interesting. If he were straight, that would be interesting. If we lived in an area which is underrepresented in our community (which he does, central PA), that is interesting. I can't possible see how being atheist matters at all. What it will lead to is someone mentioning another writer, Jill Smith, "an openly lesbian, RELIGIOUSLY DEVOUT, blogger" just to spread the word about how there are religiously devout bloggers people should read. And that devolves from there on. I hope you see my point.

  • 25. atty79  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I posted this as a comment to Louis' article. If anyone has a chance to address this with him, I think they are questions we need answers to. Arguing with the opposition can sometimes seem fruitless. Maybe Louis' journey and experience can help us understand how to change the minds of those who oppose marriage equality.

    Louis,

    Opposition to marriage equality will rear its ugly head again during the 2012 elections. Add to that, some republicans in the House will continue to defend DOMA due to an underlying hate or apathy for gays.

    Knowing what you know about stirring up that opposition, how would you defend marriage equality? How would you convince one of those stalwarts to change? What do you perceive as their weakness?

  • 26. adambink  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Actually, whether a writer is openly gay or not is relevant, as this is, well, a forum on LGBT equality.

    As I wrote on Saturday, this isn't a forum on atheism or how religiously devout one is. Or being left-handed. Or being vegetarian. Or being anything else that is unrelated to LGBT equality. As such, with no great interesting benefit, it only serves to start flame wars.

  • 27. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Its a bit tricky to avoid religion….. the main "punch line" from Louis's article Adam invited us to read:
    Are you going to let a handful of fringe Catholics … stand between you and the freedom to marry?

  • 28. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Here's a question. If Zack were left-handed and a fan of country music, would that be worth mentioning?

    I ask because I'm still waiting for someone to explain why it's the most important thing in the world that Zack be declared an atheist, any more important than Zack being left-handed or a fan of country music. Why is it important that Zack is an atheist? Why is it any more worth mentioning than if Zack is left-handed, especially given the sensitivity here to religious discussions? I normally wouldn't care what characteristics are used, but the slightest match sets this community off, and if we can avoid it at little cost, we're going to avoid it.

    If Zack has an interesting blog post on how LGBT allies can work with atheists, post it. If he has a post on how atheists and religiously devout people can work together, post it. These are conversations worth having. Otherwise, going out of one's way to say "Zack's an openly gay atheist, how cool is that, you should read him" starts arguments that destroy community here. I know Alan was not intending to do so, but things have to be stopped before they start.

  • 29. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Mormon is different. It is rare indeed to find a gay Mormon speaking out. Atheist or Catholic is just a match to the flame, given the atheist vs. non-atheist discussions here. It's an easy thing that can be avoided.

  • 30. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Actually, Rhie, that's the subtext of the comment. "Zack is an openly gay atheist blogger. Pretty cool. He's worth reading because of those characteristics." I don't see why atheist is any more interesting than being left-handed or a fan of country music. I'm happy to be proven wrong that the slightest mention of a word is so very essentially important to a critical dialogue. I tend to doubt that it is, but I'm happy to be proven wrong. Otherwise, it's just a match we don't need, otherwise we'll have "Sally is a lesbian Catholic religious blogger, we need more of those, go read her!" comments.

  • 31. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Very important and worthwhile questions, atty79.

  • 32. Steve  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

    It wouldn't be worth mentioning in almost any other western country. In much of Europe, religion simply isn't discussed much in public and atheism (or rather religious apathy) can almost be a default position.

    But in an ultra-religious country that is inching towards a theocracy in some areas, like the US, it's worth noting. Religion is part of everyday life and people constantly shove it in everyone's face.

    Saying "Don't mention it because it can lead to conflict" is the same as saying "Don't mention you're gay because it would offend the homophobes".

  • 33. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:18 am

    I think you are digging yourself deeper Adam. It is not that rare to find gay Mormon's speaking out. I can speak with authority on this as part of that culture for over 40 years and live at the world head-quarters of the Mormon Church.

    Also, you are headlining Louis, who is bashing catholics…and censuring Alan E….this is dichotomy is becoming ridiculous. I predict your censoring comments such as Alan's will lead to the end of P8TT.

  • 34. bJason  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Sadly, can't help but agree with you there, Gregory.

    Adam, you are overreacting. This can only get worse.

  • 35. AnonyGrl  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I will answer your question.

    MOST of what we discuss around here involves religion, whether we like it or not. We certainly don't need to go to fully armed battle about it, but the fact remains that if not for certain religious beliefs, it is unlikely that we would even BE here discussing anything.

    Zack's country music preferences and left-handedness don't matter to this discussion, because there is no coallition of right-handed opera singers who are anti-homosexual. But religion DOES figure strongly into the discussion.

    It isn't the WHOLE discussion, certainly. It should not be the deciding factor on whether we read Zack or not. But it is an interesting component of the discussion, and simply mentioning it, especially in light of a follow up statement that "half his blog" revolves around atheism, is not a bad thing.

    I appreciate that you are trying to prevent a repeat of the blow up from the other day, and that is fine. But you do just as much harm by going too far in the other direction and censoring the topic entirely.

  • 36. AnonyGrl  |  April 12, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Wow, you made a bit of a misstep there, Adam. Mormon is really not different from Atheist or Catholic in this context. I find the fact that you think so much more troubling than a casual mention that someone is an atheist or Mormon or whatever they happen to be.

    We have a number of very fine commenters around here who are Mormon, some gay, some parents of gay children. Honestly, your comment was the most inflamatory I've seen in this entire thread.

  • 37. Joel  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Wow! You have achieved here exactly what you were trying to avoid. If I were your mother, I'd grab you by your ear, haul you to the corner and give you a time out (I'm laughing out loud as I type this, please take it in the spirit in which it is meant)!

    Seriously though, i think you were being overly sensitive in chastising the poster for merely mentioning an author's religious inclinations. As much of the debate regarding our equality is, at the very crux of it, religious, I think it is important to note the viewpoint of those who speak for, and against, our cause.

  • 38. Ronnie  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Prop * Films Dot Org interview with NO H8 Campaign founders, Adam Bouska & Jeff Parshley….<3…Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaQyQHPRZEQ

  • 39. Ronnie  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:36 am

    lol….(shift key)..ooops…..Prop 8 Films Dot Org….. :"> …Ronnie

  • 40. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:43 am

    @AnonyGrl

    I appreciate the feedback.

    I encourage you to go back and read what I wrote to you in the third paragraph:

    "If Zack has an interesting blog post on how LGBT allies can work with atheists, post it. If he has a post on how atheists and religiously devout people can work together, post it. These are conversations worth having."

    If you want to post a conversation Zack has started, and mention his point of view, go for it. I am all for it. It's important to know that Zack comes at this from an atheist point of view, and I think we can agree on that.

    Mentioning Zack is an atheist in a point of praise encouraging folks to go read his stuff is a bit different. Context matters. That's why I say the characteristics aren't essential to the comment Alan posted. Prove to me that that one single word is wholly essential to Alan's comment and I'm destroying dialogue by asking to go without it. I think that's a stretch.

  • 41. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:46 am

    @Greg

    You live in Salt Lake City.

    The rest of us don't.

    A little bit different outside.

    Again, if you find an interesting discussion and want to mention the point of view at which someone is writing it, go for it. Approach matters. I'm still waiting for someone to explain how asking that one word — a word that isn't essential the comment, the post referenced in the comment, or even this blog post in its entirety — be deleted is destroying dialogue. But, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree.

  • 42. adambink  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:50 am

    1. Alan's comment wasn't about religion.

    2. This blog post isn't about religion.

    3. The post referenced in Alan's comment wasn't about religion.

    4. So I'm not sure how I'm destroying a dialogue about religion with a polite request when there's no dialogue about religion here at all.

    If this were a post about religion, or a comment about religion, or a comment about Zack's post on religion, totally, that'd be a different discussion, because I agree with you, it is important to note the viewpoint. But that's not this situation.

  • 43. Don in Texas  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Adam apparently has taken another step on the "slippery slope" against which I warned a couple of days ago.
    I wrote that, in my experience, forum moderators eventually cease moderating and simply censor. It appears Adam is coming very close to that sad point.

    Zack's lack of a religious belief certainly is an important part of his personality, far more than his being left-or-right handed or preferring country music of heavy metal tunes.

    I agree with those who suggest that Adam take a step back and get over it.

  • 44. Alan E.  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:10 am

    My post was about Zack, and promoting the good work he's done in a relatively short amount of time. I should have mentioned his first blog, http://www.zackfordblogs.com/ where he has put in a lot of time in effort supporting two causes that are close to him.

  • 45. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:48 am

    !

  • 46. Ronnie  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:03 am

    Chris Meloni is a New Yorker who supports Marriage Equality.

    "I believe in love, and family, and fairness, and that's why I'm a New Yorker for marriage equality…… It's time for New York to lead again." ~ Chris Meloni

    <3…Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

  • 47. Bob  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:14 am

    I would just like to point out Adam, when I first read Alan's comment, I never saw the word atheist in a negative light, or even controversial,,,, Alan did prompt me to check out his sight, The only interest at that time in the word atheist, was that they make up a percentage of the public, that often gets left out religious debates,,,, and for the most part they are our allies ,,,, it was as interesting to me as his being openly gay,,,

    again, that word atheist was not a possible match for me

    but it was for you,,, and you are the one who drew that fire,,, Adam, part of your suggestions were for us, when caught in this situation where someones comment may inflame us, was to ignore it, and move on,,,,

    I would suggest that had you done that, there may have been no discussion about this fact of a blogger being an atheist,,,,

    the time to intervene is a challenge,,, and it may be more appropriate, once a personal attack is made,,,, but to police words in attempts at averting a strike is itself damaging to the open exchange of ideas.

  • 48. fiona64  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:33 am

    One more reason for me to love Chris Meloni.

  • 49. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:37 am

    I appreciate your comment Bob…articulates well what I was thinking.

    the time to intervene is a challenge,,, and it may be more appropriate, once a personal attack is made,,,, but to police words in attempts at averting a strike is itself damaging to the open exchange of ideas.

  • 50. RebeccaRGB  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:37 am

    This. I've seen this happen before, where moderators stop moderating and start censoring. I saw it happen in the LiveJournal communities I used to frequent, and it's why I left LiveJournal. I would hate to see the same thing happen here.

  • 51. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:42 am

    THRILLS me to see fiona post! I don't want to lose even one family member due to disagreements or frustrations. xo

    p.s. thx Ronnie for both videos : D

  • 52. Sagesse  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Adam, for what it's worth, when I read Alan's comment, I read it as him introducing us to Zack Ford, and recommending his work. Ford self-identifies as an atheist in his public persona. It's not a pejorative or incdendiary in and of itself, just a descriptor. To give another example, Andrew Sullivan is a political blogger who is openly gay, married, a Catholic, and a conservative. He is also HIV+. It is useful to know all of those things to follow his work.

    As you point out, where we've gotten into trouble in the recent past is debating religion for religion's sake, not as it relates to LGBT equality.

    A person's faith, or lack thereof, should not be offensive. To my mind, freedom of religion includes the freedom not to have one. As long as a person is not being evangelical or critical of others' beliefs, there's no harm.

  • 53. Bob  |  April 12, 2011 at 4:45 am

    great questions atty79 , they expand on the information he has already given us about the organization,,,,

    i.e. it's actual size,,, and the lack of grassroots organization,,which really gives us hope, and encouragement to continue building our grassroots support,

    in that context it's the same for the Democrats who are up against big bucks,, but let us remember the masses don't have the money, but we have an equal ability at the pollls, one poor hungary vote can wipe out the vote of one billionaire,,,, and we all know the statistics in terms of the majority there,,, so again getting that message out, and motivating those who have given up on voting,,, is a worthwile endeavor…….

    the sad reality is we're fighting MONEY, capitalism gone bad, giving religion priviledge,,,,,,

    scary as it is , it is progress to have marriage equality actually be a part of the national dialogue during elections…

  • 54. Rhie  |  April 12, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Actually, no. I don't see your point. In fact, all I see is you causing what you hoped to avoid: Devolving off-topic conversation that can lead to a flame war.

    I've been a part of maybe hundreds of communities offline and on. The useful, fun, and engaging places all have the same things in common:

    1. The moderators interfere or warn only after a fight starts to develop. They skim comments but also listen to readers who email and say that someone has spammed the community and/or is being rude. They use common sense and respect when they go to apply warnings, deletions and bans.

    2. They realize if people want to fight they will. I've seen flame wars break out about bread, seriously. Good moderators realize this and so don't pick one or another topic to scapegoat as The Cause.

    If flame wars are repeatedly breaking out there is another for it beyond the topic the flame war was about. Good moderators try to find that cause.

    3. They delete comments and ban users who are there to cause nothing but trouble. It sounds counter-intuitive but deleting comments that are only there for trouble actually helps open up discussion.

    4. They can admit when they make mistakes.

    Anyhow, I should have probably said on this on the other thread about community and community rules but I didn't think of it til now.

  • 55. Rhie  |  April 12, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Ah, you're making the assumption that descriptors like atheist or LGBT or left-handed are necessarily praise or encouragement. They aren't. At least, I don't see anything in the conversation about how that is the main reason someone should go read that blog. It's just a descriptor.

    I do want to ask one question: Is your tack going to be allowing only conversation that you see as being on topic or is it going to be disallowing conversation that becomes heated or hurtful?

    Those are not the same actions.

  • 56. ZackFord  |  April 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

    So, hey everybody. First, thanks to Alan for his promotion, thanks to Adam for his very kind words, and thanks to Sagesse for giving me a head's up that a whole big discussion was happening about me!

    Atheists are still one of the most stigmatized groups in our society, and I think a lot of this thread has reinforced that fact, perhaps even inadvertantly from Adam's very first comment. I proudly identify openly as an atheist specifically to challenge that stigma; in fact, it was in response to the loss of friends when I first came out as an atheist that I even started my blog. Certainly the blogging I've done at ZFb reflects both that and my gay identity, and I appreciate that Alan would want folks who might take a look at my writing to understand that unique context.

    Indeed, the stigma against atheists has very much creeped into the LGBT community (a concept I explore here: http://zackfordblogs.com/2011/02/creating-an-athe… and elsewhere). I have not followed P8TT comment threads very closely, but whether to reclaim or dismiss faith as LGBT people is a debate we can never fully avoid. In my case, it was the passing of Prop 8 that motivated my choice to take a clear stance on one side of that debate, and with good reason: while there was certainly religious opposition to Prop 8, there was no secular support. It was entirely motivated by faith groups, and the depth of that support (esp. by the Catholic and Mormon Churches) was deeper than we'd even initially imagined.

    I think there are civil ways to have this debate, to disagree with each other's perspectives without disrespecting each other. Some might say my point of view opposing an embrace of religion is inherently disrespectful to people of faith, but I find such accusations to be ad hominem attacks against my identity. There is no way forward if we cannot disagree, discuss, and debate the intersection of religion with LGBT issues, as difficult as those conversations may be.

    Whether you are a believer or a nonbeliever like I am, I think we can all agree on the following: There are no facts that support a case against our equality, only beliefs. Further, there are no secular forces working against our equality, only religious ones. From that foundation, we move forward in our discussions of how religion should or should not help us defend and advance equality. If we can have those conversations in a mature, intellectual way without personal attacks, I think we will be all the more enlightened for it.

  • 57. Rhie  |  April 12, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Whether or not you see it isn't really relevant here. Several members have told you that was upshot, whether you intended it or not. More than a few have given well-reasoned responses to that affect.

    That's why I asked the question above. Is this going to be a) a place where you decide what's on topic and react to comments accordingly or b) is this going to be a place where you react to comments and threads that are truly hurtful or harmful?

  • 58. Rhie  |  April 12, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Hey Zack, nice to meet you! I haven't read your blog before but I am definitely going to check it out now :)

  • 59. Rhie  |  April 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Exactly. Whether we like it or not – and I really, REALLY don't like it – religion is a big part of everything that happens in the US. Especially in politics.

    This thread here and the post about religion seem to me to be like the TSA telling people to take off their shoes the day AFTER someone tries to use a shoe bomb. Meanwhile, someone else is figuring out how to put a bomb in a granola bar.

    Now, I don't think that anyone here is intentionally trying to troll or cause conflict. My point is that reacting to each topic that leads to heated debate is about as useful as the security theater in the airports. It does nothing to keep us safer, it just makes the people in charge feel like they are doing something. Meanwhile, the real issue is not addressed, and just finds some other way of expressing itself.

  • 60. gaydadtobe  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

    You're gonna make him have to pay attention to that blog more. Thought he could get away with letting it coast once he moved to TPM.

  • 61. the lone ranger  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Interesting post, Zack. There are rare secular challenges to equality, however. Julia Gillard, the atheist PM of Australia is an example. Her argument against marriage equality seems to come from a viewpoint espousing "tradition" (I'm not entirely sure what that means), although I wonder how much of an "ick" factor might really play a role in her opposition.

  • 62. Bob  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Zack, thanks for taking the time to come over and post , and I especially like the point you make "there are no secular forces working against our equality, only religious ones"

    and "there are no facts that support a case against our equality, only beliefs"

    thanks a lot, and as I said before as a person living with HIV, having fought that battle, I appreciate your new guard, and young enthusiasm,,,, keep writing,,,,, and keep engaging in difficult conversations,,,,,

    like how religiion intersects with LGBT issues,,,

  • 63. Rhie  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Actually, no one else has read that in there except you. Even if that was the subtext no one has been bothered by it – except you. Either way, you were mistaken to point it out since doing so caused the problem, not the original mention.

    Religious topics are unavoidable. You even said upthread that posting an essay about atheistic pro-equality was fine. That's what link is – to a whole blog full of essays about equality AND atheism.

    It was explained to you in very clear language how being atheist or religious is necessarily relevant to the discussion of equality. Disagree if you want, but your opinion is just one opinion. This community is not just your community. It belongs to all of us, and clearly many of us see religion as central to the discussion of equality.

    And you still haven't answered my question: Do you want to narrow discussion to what you deem on topic or do you want to avoid harm to the members here?

  • 64. Rhie  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    What's wrong with "sally is a lesbian catholic blogger"? I would go read that because there are many leaders in the Catholic church who want to see LGBT people kept in second class and it would be interesting to read another perspective from a Catholic.

    Religion and lack there of us intrinsic to this fight because a good 99% of the enemies of equality are religious. Justification for the Kill the Gays bill is found in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, for example. To ignore this is to ignore a huge part of the discussion.

  • 65. Elizabeth Oakes  |  April 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    @Rhie, Alan, anonygirl, ranger, and everyone else who spoke up in this thread: thanks. Sorry to be so late to the game. I agree with your protests.

    @Adam: It is "central to the discussion" to mention Zack's "viewpoint" in describing his blog because it helps people decide if they want to read it or not, especially since we're now making such a big deal about tiptoeing around religious sensitivities. Adding the completely relevant descriptor "atheist"–which btw by many people is considered a political stance as well as a philosophical one–allows those who might be offended by reading his views to AVOID OFFENSE. Isn't that the point of this whole "moderation" exercise??

    Also, I'm horrified that you'd think it's okay for one group to mention their beliefs but not anyone else. This defies logic and pretty much everything this blog is about, I reckon. Um, I seem to recall reading about a famous anti-marriage-equality group that feels the same way….

    Sorry to continue the onslaught of argument in this thread, but I find this development is a bit upsetting. IMHO you had a kneejerk reaction to a word before you assessed the context, then when you got called out you got defensive rather than consider the possibility you overreacted.

    I'm truly sorry you've become so anxious about preventing flame wars here that the mention of a single word on your "do not use" list caused you to jump in, but dude, seriously? Positing that it's okay to say "Mormon" but not "atheist"??? Really? That's kinda indefensible if you're also saying that we have to avoid all mention of belief (outside of some sort of vague "direct relevance" policy), isn't it? It also poses some questions about fairness and even-handedness in administering this new moderation policy, I'm afraid.

    I don't think most people here–no matter what their position on faith–would be down with the inequity of that argument. That statement needs rethinking.

    I hope you have a nice vacation; maybe some R&R will help bring forth some new ideas about how to handle this problem. It doesn't seem that this method of reproaching someone for a single word and then trying to justify whether that word was relevant (?) is working. Please note that this has been a very intense but reasonable discussion. Maybe we should be given a little credit for that.

  • 66. Elizabeth Oakes  |  April 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    So, what's with these people who can't type commenting on really old threads? Is this some sort of hacker thing or a spam bot? Should we worry?

  • 67. Alan E  |  April 14, 2011 at 12:20 am

    It is “central to the discussion” to mention Zack’s “viewpoint” in describing his blog because it helps people decide if they want to read it or not,

    I think it does matter more when talking about his personal blog, which I forgot to link to in the OP. It may not may not matter as much when talking about his work at TPM, but it has been a central part of his message for so long now that it may be worth mentioning in a positive (or maybe even nonchalant) manner.

  • 68. Ķĭŗîļĺę&  |  April 15, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Wow! And that's in Chapel Hill where they have an openly gay mayor Mark Kleinschmidt (I even got a chance to chat with him once on Skype when he visited Felyx's friend)! Very upsetting! As I've read in a Russian gay magazine “QUEER”, even in Amsterdam there are homophobes, not to mention a southern state of North Carolina.

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