First, the way I can judge whether an article I wrote was any good is by the response that I receive about it. In the case of the L.A. Times' op-ed, of the few the emails that I've had time to read, about 90 percent of white gays are angry at me and about 99 percent of black people loved it. Now ask me whose opinion matters more to me?
Actually, the worst way to judge success is solely by the size of the response. Does Cannick consider George W. Bush a great president because his invasion of Iraq drew millions of protesters around the world?
According to her logic, he is the greatest president in American history. She should consider that the large response she received had to do with the fact her article was illogical and shockingly offensive. This is hardly anything to be proud of.
Cannick is very divisive. She really considers the opinions of white people essentially worthless and not even worthy of consideration. The color of one's skin is all that seems to matter to her and the strength of one's argument seems irrelevant.
Unlike, Cannick, I take the opinions of all my readers seriously regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation etc. I have found that I can learn, even from people with whom I disagree or may be different from myself.
On Nov. 8, Truth Wins Out and the Gay Liberation Network joined a coalition of local, state and national groups to protest Focus on the Family's James Dobson's induction into the Radio Hall of Fame.
A crowd of several hundred people came out to demonstrate on a frigid night in Chicago. They were also energized by Proposition 8 being passed in California, which prohibited same-sex couples from marrying.
Even today, two years after Mark Foley's very public fall from grace, the former congressman can't explain why he sent lurid, sexually explicit computer messages to male teens who had worked as Capitol Hill pages.
Sitting in his room at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York this week, the Florida Republican, wearing a yellow tie with blue elephants, finally broke his silence.
"I'm trying to find my way back," Foley said in an interview with The Associated Press, his first public comments on the scandal since resigning from Congress on Sept. 29, 2006.
Foley insists he did nothing illegal and never had sexual contact with teens, just inappropriate Internet conversations. Investigations by the FBI and Florida authorities ended without criminal charges.
And while he concedes his behavior was "extraordinarily stupid," he remains somewhat unwilling to accept full public scorn.
These were 17-year-olds, just months from being men, he insists.
As you know, on November 4 the state of California passed a constitutional amendment reversing a State Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that legalized same-sex marriage...and huge and numerous protests have sprung up, certainly in California, but also nationwide. There are two scheduled in New York City this week. I will be at both - starting this evening outside the Mormon Temple in Manhattan:
Protest at the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Temple in Manhattan 125 Columbus Avenue at 65th Street Wednesday, November 12 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The other is at City Hall Saturday, November 15, 1:30 p.m.
A national group that advocates "treatment" of homosexuality is being criticized for allegedly distorting a Utah researcher's work to advance the theory that people choose their sexual orientation - a controversial notion rejected by mainstream psychology.
Lisa Diamond, a University of Utah psychologist whose sexual identity studies suggest a degree of "fluidity" in the sexual preferences of women, said in an interview Tuesday that the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH, misrepresents her findings.
Position papers, some penned by NARTH president A. Dean Byrd, an adjunct professor in the U.'s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, point to Diamond's research as evidence that gays' sexual orientation can be straightened out through treatment - much to Diamond's dismay.
"If NARTH had read the study more carefully they would find that it is not supported by my data at all. I bent over backward to make it difficult for my work to be misused, and to no avail. When people are motivated to twist something for political purposes, they'll find a way to do it," Diamond says in a videotaped interview posted on the Internet.
Diamond made those remarks two weeks ago as Californians were debating Proposition 8, the divisive ballot measure that mandates marriage as solely between a man and a woman. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints encouraged members to give time and money to the successful campaign, triggering a cascade of criticism and protests.
Diamond's comments specifically targeted Encino, Calif., psychologist Joeseph Nicolosi, co-founder of NARTH and the author of "Healing Homosexuality," and "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality."
"You know exactly what you're doing," says Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies, in the videotape. "There's no chance this is a misunderstanding or simply a different scientific interpretation. ... It's illegitimate and it's irresponsible and you should stop doing it."
Nicolosi did not respond to an interview request and Byrd claimed he did not know why Diamond, a fellow U. faculty member, took umbrage with NARTH's citation of her work. "NARTH's view is that people can adapt any way they want and there is freedom of choice," Byrd says. "If it says 'fluidity' it says 'fluidity.' How you interpret it is something else."
Diamond, who has never met Byrd, said in an interview that NARTH "cherry picks" findings or references from her work that appear to support their position. Her denunciations of NARTH was instigated by Truth Wins Out, a New York City-based watchdog that patrols social conservative groups' use of social science in support of hot-bottom agendas.
"They use these fake statistics and distort science to support bigotry and discrimination. It's important to take these tools away from them," founder Wayne Besen says.
NARTH is based in Nicolosi's California office, but maintains an office in the same downtown Salt Lake City building as Evergreen International, a Mormon faith-based group that encourages gays to abandon same-sex attraction. While the two groups do not advertise their association, NARTH's sole paid staffer last year was Evergreen's executive director David Pruden, according to tax documents.
NARTH is no stranger to controversy. One past president, the late psychiatrist Charles Socarides, campaigned for years against the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 decision to discontinue listing homosexuality as a mental illness. The American Psychological Association likewise maintains a stance of deep skepticism toward reparative therapies that seek to convert patients to heterosexuality.
"To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation is safe or effective," the APA says on its Web site. "Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons." Diamond goes even further.
"The therapists are saying, 'We can change your orientation,' when all of the data, all of the data suggest that is not the case. They say same-sex attractions can disappear - they don't," she says. Reparative therapies "do additional damage" with techniques that incorporate electroshock and nausea-inducing treatments "that leave people feeling greater shame, greater guilt, worse about themselves."
On Election Day, 70-percent of African Americans voted to take away a gay person's right to marry primarily based on a book -- the Bible -- that calls on slaves to obey their masters. Mormons funded the measure -- even though religious discrimination drove them from Missouri and Illinois in the 1830's.
The defeat of Proposition 8 can't be blamed exclusively on African Americans and Mormons. There were plenty of white Catholic and protestant religious leaders -- such as pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church -- that share responsibility. And, there are legitimate questions about how the No On 8 campaign was run, which will be endlessly debated. For example, did the campaign's decision to closet gay people in its ads lead to defeat?
Still, there is something particularly galling and repugnant about people who have felt the sting of discrimination, turn around and step on another minority. What happened at the ballot box feels like a personal betrayal and the hijacking of history.
To the Mormons who bankrolled the bigotry, religious discrimination is awful, as long as it is happening to them. For the black people who voted for Proposition 8, the civil rights movement was about emancipating black people - and no one else seems to matter. These solipsistic individuals and their prejudiced pastors appear to lack an ember of empathy and have turned freedom into a private fiefdom.
The civil rights movement was much larger than the plight of black people, just as the fight for religious freedom is bigger than Mormons. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that all people are equal under the law and should be judged by the content of their character. Barack Obama largely embodied this universally appealing message and this is why he made history. (His opposition to marriage the one duly noted stain on his record)
The Congressional Black Caucus, the late Coretta Scott King, basketball star Charles Barkley and Archbishop Desmond TuTu are among those who share this inclusive vision. Coretta Scott King once said that, "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."
In the next campaign, this message needs to be taken directly to African American voters. But before this happens, the GLBT community needs to have a serious discussion -- not one that is pandering and patronizing -- so we can figure out some solutions. When natural allies vote like enemies, there is much work to be done.
One person not to consult is black lesbian writer Jasmyne Cannick. In a hypocritical op-ed in the Los Angles Times, she said that the Prop 8. Campaign should have done more to reach out to black voters. Then, she turned around and said, "to tell black people how to vote on something gay isn't effective outreach either. There's nothing a white gay person can tell me when it comes to how I as a black lesbian should talk to my community about this issue."
This is a perversion of Dr. King's dream. A white person should be able to talk freely to a black person about discrimination and vice versa. Cannick's ideas are abhorrent and the antithesis of judging a person by their ideas or the content of their character. It is also shameful that Cannick claims that she went door-to-door on behalf of Obama and proudly refused to ask African Americans to vote against Proposition 8. Her actions were closeted and cowardly.
Cannick also asks, "Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?"
Imagine how grotesque it would have been in 1965 if a black person had written:
"Does someone who is homeless or suffering from cancer but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of a different race?"
Another way to stop progress is for those hurt by this stinging defeat to verbally or physically assault African Americans. There were reports that this was occurring at rallies condemning Prop. 8. Mirroring the ugly actions of anti-gay haters is anathema to what our movement stands for, which is widening the circle of liberty. We need to be smart, rational grownups and not look for scapegoats.
There is a lot of blame to go around for the failure of Proposition 8 and the first step to healing and moving forward is honesty. Let's not pretend that the repudiation of Martin Luther King Jr's dream by African American voters did not hurt more than, say, rejection by white evangelicals. It did.
Equal rights for some, or at least those who look the same or hold like beliefs -- is not the movement I signed up for, nor is it one that I want any part of. In moving forward, we must move beyond pig-headed parochialism and build a coalition that embraces a universal set of principles that apply to all people. If we stupidly divide ourselves by sexual orientation or race -- we can only expect a race to the bottom.
James Hartline is among the nuttiest of so-called "ex-gays" and has even claimed to have prayed away AIDS. He is so extreme that he once attacked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as "one of the biggest anti-christian supporters of homosexuality and abortion in the American government." In other words, he is a demented zealot who may need to get some professional help.
Now, he is grossly distorting my op-ed on race, education and Prop. 8. His goal is a typical right wing swift boat campaign designed to discredit me. Unfortunately, he is only proving, once again, that his mental fitness is in question.
I encourage people to Google this poor man and see what kind of person he truly is. It is hard not to feel sorry for such people who are not playing with a full deck.
Hundres of people protested in front of the Renaissance Hotel this evening in downtown Chicago against the Radio Hall of Fame for inducting Focus on the Family's James Dobson. Focus on the Family had spent $800,000 on Proposition 8 to stop gay people form marrying in California.
It is mind-blowing, that the Radio Hall of Fame honored a leader of Proposition 8. Dobson put his Media Empire and vast amounts of money into the service of denying equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. And, the Radio Hall of Fame reacted by giving this demagogue a trophy. Truth Wins Out and the Gay Liberation Network thank all who attended the rally this evening.