According to its website, Washington United for Marriage “is a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and businesses working together to defend civil marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples.”
A Microsoft spokesperson told The Huffington Post that the company doesn’t comment on political contributions made by employees, including the CEO.
“Those are personal decisions and we respect them as such,” the spokesperson said.
Gates and Ballmer aren’t the only high-profile members of the technology community to make significant contributions for marriage equality. Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and the editor-in-chief of the New Republic, promised Mainers United for Marriage that if the campaign raised more than $100,000, he and his now husband, Sean Eldridge, would match the donation, according to the Bangor Daily News. Mainers United for Marriage announced last month that it had raised more than $120,000.
A survivor of so-called reparative therapy, who testified in the federal Proposition 8 trial about its dangers, says lives are on the line because of the rhetoric coming from Michele and Marcus Bachmann.
The Bachmanns’ role in the antigay movement makes for flashy news and great comedy, but Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband should not be written off as a sideshow. We cannot forget — for even a second — that Bachmann’s antigay politics and her husband’s use of reversal therapy are making life worse for countless teens just when we are trying to tell them “it gets better.”
It is too easy to mock Bachmann for her political antics. It is even easier to condemn her husband, Marcus Bachmann, for his unethical and harmful “reparative therapy” practice. Still, even though Bachmann and her husband offer a target-rich environment for criticism, my thoughts remain fixed on a seemingly unrelated story.
It was a summary of a recent MTV True Life episode, titled “I’m Trying to Be Straight.” As the preview says:
“Kevin cannot deny his sexual attraction to men, but has sworn off same-sex relationships because of the pain it caused him and his devoutly religious family. Kevin believes that with the help of a therapist, supportive friends, and his own willpower he can redirect his urges and be embraced once more by his parents — and his church.”
There is no word — not even horror — to describe how this makes me feel. Like Kevin, I once thought I had been rejected by God for being gay, and the reparative therapy I experienced at the hands of Joseph Nicolosi at the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality tore apart my soul and my family.
My parents are evangelical Christians, and they could not tolerate the idea of having a gay son. Indeed, they advocated for Colorado’s discriminatory Amendment 2, which constitutionalized all discrimination against LGBT people in that state. Their antigay beliefs were certainly as deeply held as those of the congresswoman and her husband; they were also just as clearly wrong.
To fix the problem of their son being gay, my parents sent me to a series of Christian reparative “therapists” and abused me emotionally and verbally. The personal effects were dangerous. I spent a decade of my life suicidal, abusing drugs, and occasionally homeless. I survived the anguish of being rejected by my family for being gay, but just barely.
This issue lives close to my heart, and I was grateful to be able to tell my story as a fact witness in the landmark civil rights case Perry v. Schwarzenegger. I’ve lived this issue, as have thousands, and we don’t have to imagine the harm such treatment causes. The effects of family rejection, often aided by the arguments used to justify reparative therapy, are well documented and tragic. At moments like this one, with Bachmann’s rhetoric on display and her “Dr.” husband’s widely discredited therapy showcased, my thoughts are with Kevin and the hope that one day he will find himself. And if he or someone like him is reading, I want them to know there is nothing wrong with who they are and that love is not a sin.
We must ask more from our politics and our morality so that youths like Kevin grow up knowing they are valued and worthy of love and not in a world where they repress who they are with the aid of quack therapists. As far as I can tell, there is nothing Christlike or moral about such therapy.
Fringe political figures and people motivated by misguided faith have seized upon the notion that being gay is a choice. They use this argument to deny equal rights to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender based on the falsehood that we are choosing condemnable behavior, but as Lady Gaga reminds us, the truth is we are just “born this way.”
Ryan Kendall was a fact witness in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal lawsuit challenging Prop. 8.
Phrases such as this one, used dismissively by teenagers in what is often a casual, offhand way, can impair the health of LGBT youth long after classes end, a new study shows. The term is so pervasive, in fact, that an earlier survey found that 90% of American youth have heard “gay” used in a negative way.
A new report by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University traced the effects of LGBT-victimizing bullying in school — including unintentional epithets like “that’s so gay,” more direct verbal harassment, and physical violence — beyond their initial sting in school hallways. Using data from the project’s survey of 245 LGBT young adults, the paper links such bullying to long-term health and developmental problems.
It found that LGBT-targeted bullying related to gender expression or sexual orientation during school years led to increased young adult depression, suicidal thoughts, social adjustment issues and risky sexual behavior. LGBT young adults that reported high levels of anti-LGBT victimization as teens were 5.6 times more likely to report suicide attempts than those victimized less frequently. They were more than twice as likely to report being clinically depressed, and they were more than twice as likely to report having been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease by young adulthood.
The report also found that young adult GBT males are targeted more frequently than their female counterparts, and that the amount of bullying a boy receives in school can help predict the health issues he will face later in life.
The report, titled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adolescent School Victimization: Implications for Young Adult Health and Adjustment” and published in the Journal of School Health, comes as both popular culture and policy hone in on the topic. The plot of last week’s episode of the ever-popular Fox hit show Glee, for example, revolved around quiet, biting homophobic bullying: an openly gay male was (spoiler alert!) crowned Prom Queen.
“I don’t know if these issues are getting easier to talk about, but a lot of people are willing to have the conversation,” said Jeff Krehely, director of the LGBT Research & Communications Project at the Center for American Progress. “That has to do with the fact that a lot more people are out as L, G, B, or T than they were 10 or 15 years ago.”
Meanwhile, several related bills are currently pending in Congress. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would prohibit LGBT discrimination in public schools and forbid schools themselves from discriminating against students based on gender identity. The Student Non-Discrimination Act would seek to end LGBT bullying with a focus on online behavior. And just last week, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced legislation aimed at curbing LGBT homelessness.
“When those policies are on the books, they’ll be a deterrent for people who might want to bully LGBT kids,” Krehely said. “They also give kids who are bullied a way to fight back and stand up for themselves.”
Advocates hope that these concrete numbers that show that the pain of LGBT victimization extends beyond students’ school years will give policy initiatives more bite. “Being able to have data that does that is really powerful in the advocacy that I do,” Krehely said.
Prior research on LGBT youth has focused on the effects of bullying during adolescence, finding that it might compromise mental health while victims are still in school. This paper is the first to take a long-term approach.
“While the focus for so long has been on youth bullying, there’s a price to be paid in later life,” said Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project and co-author of the report. “The negative or adverse effects that happen in earlier stages affect the later stages of their lives.”
For Ryan, the report is the culmination of ten years of research. “It shows that there’s a whole social context to LGBT victimization,” she said. “Effects may be happening in the present, but it also affects LGBT young people in the future.”
The effects of LGBT-targeted bullying, she said, are more serious and lasting than people think. “It’s not about special rights,” she said. “It’s tied to the human right of having an education and going into an educational environment that supports them.”
In other words, evidence of the long-ranging effects of bullying makes policy initiatives more important. “This paper provides another important tool in our approach to help our communities and families understand that these are important issues that need to be addressed,” Ryan said. “Schools sometimes minimize victimization related to young people, saying boys will be boys. But it’s more than that.”
She added that her group is seeking funding to develop materials that would teach parents how to cope with and prevent school victimization.
A newly published compilation of guidelines used worldwide by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has softened the language about gay Mormons.
The book, known as the Church Handbook of Instructions, lays out Mormon policies on everything from baptism to running a worship service to counseling troubled marriages.
The updated reference book, scheduled to be presented to thousands of Mormon leaders in a giant televised training session Saturday (Nov. 13), will set the tone for church interactions for years to come.
The new handbook makes a clear distinction between same-sex orientation and behavior. It eliminates the suggestion, mentioned in a 2006 edition, that same-sex relationships “distort loving relationships” and that gays should repent of their “homosexual thoughts or feelings.”
It also says that celibate gay Mormons who are “worthy and qualified in every other way” should be allowed to have “callings,” or church assignments, and to participate fully in temple rituals.
The handbook simply repeats what top LDS leaders have been trying to say, but in more explicit terms that many members will understand, said David Pruden, president of Evergreen International, a support group that helps gay Mormons live by church standards.
Sometimes in the past, when a gay Mormon told his bishop he was struggling with same-sex feelings, the local leader would immediately call a “disciplinary council,” Pruden said. “They didn’t understand something that was foreign to them.”
These members were trying to be faithful to the church and looking for help, he said. Instead they were hurt and punished. The new tweaks, Pruden said, “will bless people by making it easier for them to come forward.”
The changes are “baby steps in the right direction,” said Mitch Mayne, an openly gay and active Mormon in the Bay Area. “At least the handbook takes the damning terminology out of it.”
But as long as the church makes homosexuality into a “subversive, taboo thing,” Mormon gays will have sex in parks and truck stops, he said. “We wrap being gay in so much shame, and shame brings acting-out behavior.”