Monday, January 03, 2005

Southern Exposures

I love the South. But the religious right and their homogenized, borg-like, Walmart-discounted brand of Christianity has made it a less interesting and more hateful place to live lately, at least for gay people. I'm convinced that this is only for the time being.

A Southern Voice article discusses just how bad it got last year and some of the glimmers of hope for the future. Some highlights:

Skip Florida Unless You Live in Miami Beach and Don't Plan to Parent

"Appeals court upholds Fla. gay adoption ban. A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Florida can legally bar “practicing homosexuals” from adopting children. “The state of Florida has made the determination that it is not in the best interest of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals who engage in current, voluntary homosexual activity and we have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment,” Judge Stanley Birch wrote in the panel’s decision."

"Miami Beach residents win D[omestic] P[artner] benefits. City commissioners in Miami Beach unanimously approved an expansive domestic partnership registry giving couples rights to hospital visitations, health care decisions and emergency medical notification. The registry is opened to Miami Beach residents and visitors, heterosexual couples and gay couples."

My take: I attended a museum conference in Florida with my former boss once. She said that she hated to go since it would break her perfect record of having never been there. Now I know why she wasn't in a hurry to visit. It is kind of a sad day when the only reason you have to celebrate is that no one can keep you from the bedside of your dying partner.

In Georgia, It is Still Possible to be Gay and a Foster Parent (With Reservations)

"County commission asked to block gay foster parents in Georgia. A heterosexual married couple in Calhoun asked the Gordon County Commission to forbid gay adults from becoming foster parents after rumors surfaced that a lesbian couple was taking classes to become a foster family. Commissioners told the couple they have no jurisdiction over foster families. But one commissioner, George Townsend, agreed gay couples should not raise children."

My take: Good heavens! Lesbians donating their disposable income and time from their busy schedules to help abused and neglected children? Thank God George Townsend, county commissioner (and parenting expert, evidently) sees the light even if none of those silly professionaly trained social workers do. Looks to me like there is a good reason that county commissioners don't have any jurisdiction in these cases.

In Tennessee The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Tennessee county’s proposed gay ban sparks rallies. More than 400 people turned out May 8 for a Rhea County Gay Day celebration prompted by the county commission’s March vote to ban gay men and lesbians and have them arrested for “crimes against nature.” The commission later rescinded the vote. On May 7, an anti-gay rally was held at the Dayton, Tenn., courthouse where a jury in 1925 convicted John Scopes of teaching evolution. In June, the Rhea commissioners opted to specify support of a state ban on gay marriage.

My take: Nothing says "credible" like anti-gay ravings from the land of people who convict science teachers of teaching evolution.

Louisville Leads the Way

"Louisville approves gay-inclusive anti-bias policy. Louisville, Ky., Mayor Jerry Abramson signed an ordinance that includes protections for gay men and lesbians and publicly criticized the ordinance’s opponents. The ordinance, approved by Louisville’s Metro Council, prohibits discrimination because of race, religion, ethnicity, age, physical disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity."

My take: This is bigger than it sounds. It is still legal in most places to fire people simply because they are gay.

And in My Home State

"Gay marriage ban wins in Arkansas. The ACLU chapter in Arkansas filed a lawsuit in state supreme court questioning the validity of the Nov. 2 ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage. The Arkansas challenge claimed the ballot initiative is misleading to voters. The suit failed, however, and Arkansas voters overwhelmingly approved the state constitutional ban of gay marriage."

My take: I've written on this before here.

But there is a shot of hope in Arkansas from more level-headed minds in this article from "" (Thanks to Ex-Gay Watch for the heads up).

Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Timothy Fox struck down a ban that kept gay and lesbian Arkansans from being foster parents. The court found that children are not harmed by being raised by gay and lesbian parents. He also found, despite the spooky and discredited "research" coming from the anti-gay religious right, that kids of gay and lesbian people are as as well adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents. All I can say is Go Hogs!

One of the most enduring and powerful of the Southern myths is that it will rise again, this despite the fact that in reality it is tearing itself down and building itself up all the time. But I still think I need that myth. It is what gives me hope that some day I can live there again.


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