Friday, October 7, 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking to his Conservative party's conference, has come out strongly in support of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. "I don't support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative," Cameron said, explaining that conservatives believe in individuals binding together to support one another. Religious leaders responded that they'll try to stop Cameron and his coalition government from legalizing marriage for gays and lesbians. PinkPaper.com (U.K.) (10/5), The Telegraph (London)
Speaking at this weekend's hate convention in DC, GOP Rep. Eric Cantor characterized the Wall Street protesters as a "mob" that wants to "divide America." Last year Cantor had nothing to say about Tea Party activists who were literally calling for civil war.
reposted from Joe
reposted from Joe
"My top priority is creating jobs. Too many people are out of work and I’ve heard from several business leaders who’ve told me that the proposed constitutional amendment will harm our state’s business climate and make it harder to grow jobs here. I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman: That’s why I voted for the law in 1996 that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and that’s why I continue to support that law today. But I’m going to vote against the amendment because I cannot in good conscience look an unemployed man or woman in the eye and tell them that this amendment is more important than finding them a job." - North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, in a statement posted today on her official website.
Thirteen years ago tonight Matthew Shepard was lured to a rural road, tied up, crucifixion style, pistol whipped then left for dead, simply because he was gay. He wasn't found for nearly a day, still barely alive in the 30 degree weather, the only part of his face not covered by blood was where the tears had streamed down. The attack on Matthew, and his subsequent death a few days later, was a galvanizing moment for the gay community. It was one of only a handful of moments I can think of, in the twenty years that I've been out, that something changed in all of us, nationwide, at a much larger, meta level.
Within a day of hearing of the story I set up a Web site (now that I think about it, it was a blog, long before we called them that) to help coordinate news about his attack. It was called Matthew Shepard Online Resources. The site, and its accompanying bulletin board, quickly became the main organizing point for our community and our allies, and for a good year it advocated for amending the US' already existing hate crimes law to include gender, disability and sexual orientation. The Republicans blocked legislation, and it wouldn't become law for another eleven years.
Noah Baron from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has a very nice post up about Matthew's attack and his legacy:
It is necessary to speak out - as Jews, as Americans, as human beings - against the ugliness that reared its head that October day 13 years ago. No person deserves to die the way Matthew Shepard did. No person should have to live in fear simply because of who they are. To speak out - to decry this violence, to oppose bigotry, to take a step closer to a better world - is not merely an option; it is a fundamental obligation. As it is written, "Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds" (Leviticus 19:16).
It is not enough, then, to simply refrain from homophobia or refrain from violence. Rather, we must speak out, to stop the violence, to stanch the blood of our neighbors. Matthew Shepard was not simply a victim at the hands of his attackers; he was the victim at the hands a society that sent the message that who he was as a person was wrong. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, "Few are guilty, but all are responsible." We are all responsible; every additional week that we do not work for justice, every day that passes in which we do not imbue in our children an ethic of acceptance and uprightness, every moment of our silence is an act of violence against our LGBT brothers and sisters.
As the Mishna tells us, "It is not our responsibility to finish the task, but we may not refrain from starting it." It may be that we will never eradicate homophobia - or Islamophobia, or transphobia, or anti-Semitism - in our lifetimes; the task itself often feels overwhelming. But that is no excuse, for silence is not an option.