Dear Flip: An open letter to Flip Benham on the occasion of his disrupting wedding ceremonies

Dear Flip, I don’t know if you remember me or not, but there was a time back in the 1990s when you were on a first name basis with my parents. If you don’t know me you should, my photo is on the cover of one of your Operation Save America brochures and the cover of Rusty Thomas’ book. I danced on stage to the song “Children Things We Throw Away” at Operation Rescue National events in Melbourne and Birmingham, and when you spoke in Bradenton, each time performing to standing ovation. I’ve spoken at ORN events and had people praise me afterward. When I say that I was a child of Rescue and that I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, I mean it literally. The t-shirts are shoved in the back of a dresser drawer, artifacts that I’d never wear again but can’t bring myself to throw out. I’m writing to say thank you. Thank you for creating an activist. When you’re shoved on to the front lines of the culture wars as a child, activism becomes second nature. I know how to fight because ORN/OSA taught me. I wouldn’t be the activist I am today without you. Just as importantly, thank you for so mishandling the situation with the conflict my parents were in–you know the details–that you started our break from the movement. I may have never gotten away from the oppression of the religious right and become the fabulous queer I am today without what happened that Sunday afternoon in Melbourne. For that I truly thank you. God uses all kinds of people in unexpected ways to get a person where they need to be, and God used you screwing over my parents to put me on the path to freedom. Flip, I see[…]

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#Ferguson

I haven’t written about the last ten days in Ferguson because I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said.  I’m heartbroken. How many more black people have to die before this country really, truly believes that black lives matter?  Michael Brown mattered. Not because of what he might have become, but because he was a person with intrinsic value and worth. The people who are being attacked and tear gassed in Ferguson matter. Michael Brown deserves justice.

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Wichita anti-abortion activists need to stop calling themselves “pro-life”

If you call yourself “pro-life” you need to actually be just that–pro life. As in, you don’t support killing people. As in, you believe in a culture of life, not one of death. That you care about the lives of more than just those who are yet to be born.  You know what it doesn’t mean? Asking the city to zone an abortion clinic out of existence on the grounds that people keep shooting abortionists there.Yes, you read that right. Anti-abortion activists in Wichita are asking the city to keep an abortion clinic from opening because they can’t manage to stop shooting at people.  If you use the violence that your own associates have committed as the excuse for why a clinic shouldn’t be allowed to open, I’m not going to call you pro-life. You aren’t. You can’t call yourself pro-life and then use the specter of violence like this. It’s not pro-life. If it’s pro anything, it’s pro-birth, but as much as I know that the movement hates it when people use the term “anti-abortion”, that’s all you are.  As I’ve written about before, this is the kind of thing that caused me to become disillusioned with the pro-life movement. If you think I’m being overly harsh, snarky, or sarcastic in this post, you try being trotted out in front of cameras at 12 years old to play the role of the “innocent kid who will be made a criminal if you pass abortion clinic buffer zone laws” and to insist that the movement is non-violent, not knowing that the people who had sent you out in front of the cameras had already gotten word that the movement had turned deadly that day and see how you react. And try being a 13 year old picketer and having clinic defenders screaming[…]

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It’s all well and good when the leader you like does it

During the Bush administration, I repeatedly told people that the measuring stick for a government program should not be whether you trust it in the hands of the leader you like, it should be whether you trust it in the hands of the next guy. Once you give up freedom, you have no guarantee that you’re ever getting it back or that the leaders down the road will use the power you’ve ceded to them in a responsible and democratic manner. I would like to revisit that point in light of the NSA revelations this past week. Let us be clear, what we learned is not remotely new, they told us they were going to do it during the frenzy of post-9/11 legislation. I have operated for years as if any unencrypted communication with non-citizens outside of the US borders was being monitored because the Bush administration made it quite clear they didn’t believe those communications needed a warrant. It was no secret that the government was eavesdropping on electronic communications. We were told it kept us safe and that if we had nothing to hide we shouldn’t complain. Republicans told me I shouldn’t complain because George W. Bush is a good man and I should trust him that he’s doing the right thing to keep us from being attacked. My insistence that you should always ask whether you’d trust the next guy with those powers fell on deaf ears. Funny how things have changed. The same people who questioned my patriotism and said that I don’t care if the country gets attacked are now up in arms. Up in arms about the exact same thing that they unwaveringly defended when the last guy did it. If it was right when the guy you loved did it, then it’s right[…]

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Pawns in the culture war

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes – Morpheus, The Matrix In the few days since I wrote my post about what I strongly suspect is HSLDA’s litigation strategy to make homeschooling a fundamental right with no restrictions, not even for abusers, people have been doing some digging and have found information that quite frankly, is incredibly disturbing. In a nutshell, in 2009 an all male group of homeschool leaders met for a summit at one of Bill Gothard’s ATI training centers to discuss the future of homeschooling. Included among the big names present were Doug Phillips of Vision Forum (and former HSLDA attorney), Brian Ray of NHERI, and Christopher Klicka of HSLDA. Among the topics discussed was a call to abolish child protective services and plans were outlined about how they would go about instituting a Christian theocracy with homeschoolers paving the way. Heather at Becoming Worldly and R.L. Stollar at Homeschooler’s Anonymous both have extremely long and extremely informative posts laying out what exactly happened at the summit, I think it’s important to go read both posts. While I’ve long suspected that there was an agenda based on the bits and pieces of memories I have from things I read and heard from various homeschooling leaders over the years, seeing the road map laid out was chilling. I’ve snarked about the irony of HSLDA setting me on the path to where I am today by getting me interested in law, I’ve imagined how different my life would have been if I’d been accepted to[…]

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Musings from a parallel universe

Earlier today I posted a link on facebook about how Michael Farris of Patrick Henry College threatened to sue the the people behind the Queer at Patrick Henry College blog for copyright infringement for using the name “Patrick Henry College”. [Here’s where we pause for a moment while I say, COPYRIGHT LAW DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!!!!!!!111ONE!!!!!!!eleventy!!!!! phew, deep breath, now that’s out of my system we can go on]. Apparently somebody pointed out to Michael Farris that copyright law does not work like that, because he promptly withdrew the threat. Anyway, Mike Farris landing in the news got me thinking about something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Before he went and started a college that would let fundy homeschool parents feel safe about sending their kids off to a school that would keep the kids sheltered from the outside world, his claim to fame was starting the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Back in the day when homeschooling was new, it may have been useful since nobody really had heard of homeschooling and school systems didn’t know what to do with homeschoolers, though I’m pretty skeptical that it’s actually still necessary in an era when ESPN is constantly bowing down and kissing Tim Tebow’s feet (Gator Nation, represent). Back when I was in high school, HSLDA started an internship for recent high school graduates, and, since I wanted to be a lawyer and all (and being a good homeschooler), I applied for the internship my senior year of high school. I wasn’t accepted to their intern program, which I was really disappointed about at the time, since that was part of my plan to build connections to get to my eventual career goal of working for a big name right wing organization. The Patrick Henry College story got[…]

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A few thoughts on the election

Now that it’s been a few days since President Obama won reelection and I’m no longer utterly sleep-deprived, I think it’s time for me to write up a few thoughts.  I’m new to the Democratic game, but I’ve been around politics for most of my life. Back in 1992, I did get-out-to-vote calls for George H. W. Bush and at 12 years old learned what it feels like to campaign for a presidential candidate and to have them lose. I remember thinking it was the end of the world, that Bill Clinton would destroy the country, and I remember everyone flipping out. Most people who threaten to leave the country when their guy loses never actually do, but I knew people who did. It all seems ridiculously silly now, especially given that Clinton governed from the middle, but that’s what it was like. To the people who are flipping out now, who think that Obama’s reelection is the end of the world, it really isn’t, just like Clinton’s election wasn’t. Twenty years on, I’m more than a little embarrassed at what my twelve year old self thought, but then again, I was twelve and just beginning to be fully aware of the nitty gritty of politics, I was supposed to be melodramatic. By the time I was 16 and saw how everything is dominated by money, I was totally cynical about the process, but that’s another story for another day. This was my first election as a registered Democrat and the reason that the Republican party lost me is, I think, the reason they’ve lost a lot of younger voters. They need to understand that we’re tired of the culture wars.  I grew up in the religious right, the culture wars were my bread and butter for as long as[…]

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It may be an abstraction for you, but for me, it’s my life

Idea stolen from the intarwebs with my own additions… Dear friends who are thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, When you read his or his surrogates’ comments about gays, replace "gays" with my name. Examples: Kathryn shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Kathryn getting married is a threat to families. Kathryn can’t be a good parent. Kathryn doesn’t love, she can only lust. Kathryn can’t truly commit. Kathryn is what is wrong with this country. If Kathryn can marry, we should just let people marry animals. Kathryn is what destroyed the Roman Empire. If God doesn’t judge America for Kathryn, He should apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Kathryn is destroying Western Civilization. Being Kathryn is a choice. I hope this brings the debate out of the abstract for you. For you this is another academic debate in the culture wars, for us, this is our lives. I hate even having to bring this up, it’s yet another reminder of my own inequality and the fact that I have to rely on others for the rights that I grew up taking for granted.  The only “gay agenda” out there is people wanting to live their lives and love and be loved just like anybody else. We have the same hopes and dreams and goals for our lives that you do, and we want the same legal recognition and protection of our relationships and our commitment to another person that you have.  I realize there are a lot of issues out there, but we stand at the crossroads of history. Whether this is your intention or not, when you vote for Mitt Romney you’re saying, “I don’t want you to be happy,” that, “I think it’s fine if you’re discriminated against," that, "Your love is less than my love,” and that, “It’s okay with me if you remain a second-class citizen whose inequality is enshrined in the law.”[…]

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Am I better off today than I was four years ago?

Am I better off now than I was four years ago?  Well, let’s see. At this time four years ago I was living in Hanoi watching the American economy implode while wondering what kind of country I’d be coming home to. Watching as the country inched towards the brink of a meltdown that would have taken the rest of the world with it. Four years later, it’s easy for people to forget just how close the country came to economic ruin, but I’ll never forget the feeling of standing on my roof in Hanoi looking across the city skyline to where the glowing red sign of the AIG building served as a constant reminder that halfway around the world my homeland’s economy was in a death spiral.  Are things perfect now? No. But it’s still a heck of a lot better than it was four years ago and I don’t particularly want to return to the same failed GOP policies that got us to where we were four years ago.

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