Monday, September 30, 2013

Via JMG: COLOMBIA: Judges Declare That Two Couples Are Married, Gov't To Appeal

Blabbeando's Andres Duque reports a development in Colombia's complicated journey towards marriage equality:
In a surprising statement released on Wednesday, Colombian attorney and long-time LGBT-rights advocate Germán Humerto Rincón Perfetti announced that a civil court judge had declared Julio Albeiro Cantor Borbón and William Alberto Castro Franco "united in civil matrimony" in a ceremony that took place on September 20th. Then today the leading national newspaper El Espectador announced in its front page that Elizabeth Castillo and Claudia Zea had joined them on Wednesday when a second civil court judge also granted them a marriage license. "I join you in a legitimate civil matrimony with all the prerogatives and rights that civil law grants you and the same obligations imposed by civil law," said the judge before the couple signed their marriage license. [snip]  Yesterday the Inspector General's office announced that it would fight to stop these marriages using a fast track appeal legal form called a "tutela". Lawyer Mauricio Albarracín argues that for a "tutela" to proceed the applicant has to prove these marriages violate a person's rights which Albarracín says will be impossible for Ordoñez to prove. The issue will probably head back to the upper courts in the future but as of this week Julio Albeiro Cantor Borbon is married to William Alberto Castro Franco and Claudia Zea is married to Elizabeth Castillo.
Hit the link for a detailed explanation of the situation.

Reposted from Joe

Via Andy Towle: Two Women Arrested for Same-Sex Kiss at Brazil Evangelical Event: VIDEO

Two Women Arrested for Same-Sex Kiss at Brazil Evangelical Event: VIDEO


Marco Feliciano, a Brazilian lawmaker and pastor, ordered two women arrested at Glorifica Litoral, an evangelical festival in mid-September in the city of São Sebastião,

Feliciano stopped the event to make the arrest, Opposing Views reports:

“Those two girls have to leave here handcuffed” said Feliciano, who is also president of the House Commission for Human Rights and Minorities. “No use trying to run; guards are headed there now. This here isn’t a place where anything goes. It’s the house of God.” 

The two young women, Yunka Mihura, 20, and Joana Palhares, 18, were taken by the Municipal Civil Guard to the First District Police Station of São Sebastião. Mihura and Palhares claimed that they were physically assaulted by the police during the incident, PRI reported. 

During an interview after their arrest, the women said they had kissed multiple times during the event and that nobody seemed to mind. “The event was public, paid for with our taxes,” Mihura said. “That stage, that microphone, everything was with public money. It was also an open space, on Beach Street. It was our right to be there.”

Watch the video (starts at around 4:15), AFTER THE JUMP.

Via Just A Bahai Blog: A Bahá’í View of Homosexuality and Gay Rights?

“A mother writes to the Universal House of Justice” September 30, 2013 

11 March 2011
“To The Universal House of Justice

I am having trouble accepting the Baha’i teachings on homosexuality and would appreciate further guidance. My son is gay which means that I am forced to explore this issue in greater depth and the test has become more real. I wrote a while ago about this issue to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of the United Kingdom. They sent me a letter written by the Universal House of Justice dated October 1995 and also a paper from the Baha’i International Community on the same subject. Although this reading helped to clarify my vision to a certain extent I still feel as though I am not fully able to understand or condone the Baha’i stance on this subject. I know that God is all-knowing and my knowledge is limited so out of humility I should just accept what I do not understand as being true but I still feel rebellious.

I find it very difficult to accept that my son is damaging his soul by being true to his God given nature. Would this only be true if he was a Baha’i and acting against the teachings? Please can you help to clarify this for me? Although this is his issue I am put into a situation that brings the conflict between what I personally believe and what the faith tells me to believe into greater clarity. I want him to find someone he can love and share his life with. I find it hard to wish for him to be unhappy and celibate for all of his life, for the sake of his soul, as would be the situation expected of him if he was to become a Baha’i?

Is there any possibility that in the future the Universal House of Justice would consider allowing same sex marriage and thereby making the test of no sex before marriage equal for all people regardless of sexuality? Or will gay people always be made to feel as though they are on the edges of society and that their actions are evil and blameworthy. However much Baha’is may say that they do not judge other human beings there is a danger that the teachings on this subject could cause guilt, repression and estrangement, especially when a homosexual child is born within a Baha’i family that upholds such principals.

I have full faith that a state run on Baha’i principals as we envisage happening in the Golden age of this dispensation would not enforce moral teachings and would leave each individual with equal rights and freedom of speech as well as the freedom to act according to the dictates of their own individual conscience. Despite this what I fear is the psychological self hatred and guilt that can torture a soul when the society around teaches that they have a handicap that needs to be overcome. I struggle to understand why homosexuality is seen as a problem rather than an aspect of self that can be embraced and feel as though such an attitude is a step backwards rather than forwards. 

I understand that society has lost its moral bearings and too much emphasis can be put on the sex impulse but unlike drug addiction for example I believe that sexuality is not a compulsion but an essential aspect of an individual’s identity. I do hope that the Baha’i stance on this subject will be explored in greater depth with experts in the field of psychology etc. so that it can be justified and stand up to the scrutiny that will come its way as the faith evolves and its teachings become integrated into the wider society. 

I understand that a soul will progress spiritually if it is able to transcend its desires and this is why Baha’u’llah has given this teaching to mankind. I also believe that if an individual is so deeply moved by their love of Baha’u’llah that they receive the inspiration and motivation to overcome their sexual desires the greatness of the test will mean that they are a truly special soul with great capacity. Not all souls however will be called in such a way and the majority will be left with a feeling of self hatred and that they are inherently deficient. I find it impossible to condone such an attitude as I believe that every soul must learn self love for what they are in entirely, without cutting off an essential aspect of themselves. From this psychologically healthy attitude of wholeness and true deep self acceptance may develop the power to move closer in understanding of how a person’s actions can be brought in harmony with the will of God. 

Science continues to prove that it is impossible to cure someone of homosexuality; public opinion in the UK continues to move away from prejudice and intolerance in an enlightening direction. By contrast we see countries like Uganda where religion stirs up bigoted hatred and violence against homosexuals. I became a Baha’i because I believe in independent investigation of the truth, the balance of Science and religion and the illumination of prejudice. The Baha’i stance however could be seen to bolster up the bigoted counter progressive attitude we see in countries such as Uganda, an attitude that leads to the cruel persecution of their homosexual citizens. Would you be able to help to alleviate these fears or point me in the direction of Baha’i literature that can serve as an antidote to such religious extremism on this topic such as examples of Baha’is who are actively working against this kind of cruel homophobia?

In the literature that the NSA of the UK sent me on this subject I also read that “What a Baha’i cannot logically do is to represent himself or herself as a faithful follower of Baha’u’llah while denying or even attacking features of the Faith which He Himself has made integral to its nature and purpose.” If this is true then what should I do about the fact that if I am asked about my attitude towards homosexuality I have to deny this feature of the Faith and say that I do not believe it is wrong if expressed within a loving and lasting relationship. Does this mean that I should stop being a Baha’i or is it ok if I am clear that this is only my personal opinion? I do not want to be rebellious but I have been unable so far to change my opinion through the power of faith or will alone. I therefore request that you pray for me to receive further enlightenment on this issue. I would also greatly appreciate any further insights that you could give me on this topic.

Warmest Baha’i Love RR

13 May 2012
Dear Bahá’í Friend,
With regard to your email message of 5 May 2012 enquiring about the status of your email letter of 11 March 2011, you may be assured that your letter has been received and is under consideration. A reply will be sent in due course.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Office of Correspondence
  Letter from the Universal House of Justice 22 April 2013

Transmitted by email
Dear Bahá’í Friend,

     The Universal House of Justice has received your email letters of 11 March 2011 and 5 May 2012 describing your struggle to reconcile the Bahá’í teachings with your own views on homosexuality, which have evolved as you have reflected on your relationship with your son. We have been asked to convey to you the following and in so doing express our regret that, owing to the pressure of work at the Bahá’í World Centre and the time necessary to carefully consider the many facets of your heartfelt questions, our reply has been so long delayed. The House of Justice appreciates the candour with which you have expressed your concerns, and your earnest desire to comprehend aspects of the teachings more fully is warmly acknowledged. 

     The understanding about human beings today is heavily influenced by materialistic assumptions. Perspectives of social movements, leaders of thought, and the media are shaped by them. Even the findings of science are interpreted according to such prevalent cultural notions. It is not surprising, then, that there are many ideas about human identity and behaviour in contemporary society commonly accepted as truths that conflict with the Bahá’í teachings. Yet, as Bahá’u’lláh asks every thoughtful soul, “Where shalt thou secure the cord of thy faith and fasten the tie of thine obedience?” His answer, revealed in innumerable passages, is, as you know, unambiguous. “The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind.” “No man, however acute his perception,” He affirms, “can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained.” And He counsels not to weigh “the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men”, and in “this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed….” The Manifestation institutes His laws and ordinances in accordance with His intrinsic knowledge of human reality and His intended aims for individual and collective transformation. From a Bahá’í perspective, then, it is the teachings of the Manifestation of God that clarify the essential elements of human identity. 

     In contrast to many contemporary conceptions, the Bahá’í teachings maintain that a person must rise above certain material aspects of human nature to develop and manifest inherent spiritual qualities that characterize his or her true self. The Sacred Texts contain laws and exhortations that, in many instances, redirect or restrict behaviours that arise from impulses, tendencies, and desires, whether inborn or acquired. Some of these are physical, while others are emotional or psychological. Yet, whatever their origin, it is through their regulation and control that the higher, spiritual nature is able to predominate and flourish. Those who are not Bahá’ís may have no cause to take into account such considerations. A Bahá’í, however, cannot set aside the implications of these teachings and must endeavour to respond to the best of his or her ability, though it be little by little and day by day. In so doing, all believers face challenges, although the specific type or extent of a test may differ. They act with faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration, “Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures”, and they respond to His call, “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.”

     You have suggested that homosexuals could be made to feel as though they are “on the edges of society” and “inherently deficient”, which would drive them away from the Faith. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the Bahá’í teachings. It may be reassuring to you to know that Shoghi Effendi has stated, in letters written on his behalf, that a Bahá’í who has a homosexual orientation must strive daily to come closer to the Bahá’í standard and, in this process, should be treated with tolerance and receive help, advice, and sympathy; he also acknowledges that such an inclination can be “a great burden to a conscientious soul” and states that those concerned should “adhere to their Faith, and not withdraw from active service, because of the tests they experience” since, “in one way or another, we are all tested; and this must strengthen us, not weaken us.” Whatever the particular challenge he or she may face, through the recognition of Bahá’u’lláh and steadfast effort to abide by His teachings and to serve humanity, every believer can have a rich and rewarding Bahá’í life. 

     Although they affirm their conviction that Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings reflect God’s purpose for humankind in this Day, Bahá’ís do not seek to impose their values on others. They do not pass judgement on others on the basis of their own moral standards and can never presume to know the standing of any soul in the eyes of God. Rather, the friends are enjoined to show forth unconditional love, to engage in fellowship with all, and to be forbearing, concerned with their own shortcomings and not those of others. They are to have a sin-covering eye, focusing on good qualities and ignoring the bad, and they must eschew backbiting and gossip. As the Bahá’í community continues to grow and develop, increasing its involvement with the wider society, such characteristics will become more pronounced and a hallmark of Bahá’í culture. Given this, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain, the House of Justice has repeatedly emphasized, would be entirely against the spirit of the Faith. In response to your question about the position a Bahá’í would take in relation to supporting the human rights of homosexuals, we have enclosed a copy of a letter dated 27 October 2010 written on behalf of the House of Justice to an individual believer that discusses this topic, and it is hoped the guidance contained therein will allay any concern you may have. 

     As to the possibility of same-sex marriage within the Faith, according to the teachings, Bahá’í marriage is a union between a man and a woman. This is set forth in the Writings and is not susceptible to change by the House of Justice. 

     You have also asked how you should deal with the conflict you face in being a Bahá’í while struggling to appreciate certain aspects of the teachings, and you wonder whether you should withdraw from the Faith or simply acknowledge that on this point you have a different view. It can be helpful to consider that, on occasion, a believer may discover that a personal understanding differs to some degree from the teachings. How can it be otherwise, when our conceptions are forged in a social milieu that Bahá’u’lláh has come to radically transform? “An exact and thorough comprehension of so vast a system, so sublime a revelation, so sacred a trust,” Shoghi Effendi reminds us, “is for obvious reasons beyond the reach and ken of our finite minds.” A sensible approach is simply to recognize that the human mind is both finite and fallible and that acquiring spiritual insight and greater understanding is a gradual and ever-unfolding process that requires time, continued study, reflection on action, and consultation with others. This perspective is quite different, however, from contending with or attempting to change explicit provisions of the Faith. Humility is required, rather than an insistence that one’s personal views at any given time are correct. Thus, there is no reason why you should feel a need to withdraw from the Bahá’í community. Rather you are encouraged to keep an open mind and acknowledge, like every other Bahá’í, that there are elements of the Revelation that you are striving to understand more fully. This does not prevent you from showing forth unconditional love and support for your son. 

     You are assured of the loving prayers of the House of Justice at the Sacred Threshold that you and your son may be the recipients of heavenly blessings and bestowals.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Department of the Secretariat

For the full article, and more letters and consultation please make the jump here to Just a Bahai Blog

Via FB:

Via Karmapa / FB:

If we think about compassion, what is compassion? It’s not just an idea. Compassion is when we see the suffering of another, it’s to be able to put ourselves in the other’s position and experience that suffering ourselves. We have to take responsibility. That is what we need to do, and we need to begin it ourselves—we cannot wait for someone else to do it for us.

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 30, 2013

Every Moment Foundational

Everything we encounter is fully and completely itself. Nothing is merely a means to an end, nothing is merely a step on the path to somewhere else. Every moment, everything, is absolutely foundational in its own right. Zazen, defined in the narrow sense as seated meditation, is but one of an infinite number of possible paradigms for this state, yet at the same time it is the unique expression of the coming together of human nature and buddhanature.
- Barry Magid, “Uselessness”
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through October 1, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The following article was published in the Washington Post 25 September, 2013:

For Iran’s Rouhani, the human rights of Baha’is are the ultimate test of reform

By Reza Aslan, Michael Brooks, The Washington Post  Published: September 25 at 7:27 am
Iranian President-elect Hasan Rouhani at a June 17 news conference in Tehran. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP )
Iranian President-elect Hasan Rouhani at a June 17 news conference in Tehran. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP )

Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations on Tuesday signaled the possibility of a thaw in relations between Iran and the United States. Indeed, President Rouhani has been diligently trying to improve Iran’s image abroad by, for instance, reaching out to the   Jewish community over social media and to Americans through an NBC interview and a  Washington Post op-ed. At the same time, he has fostered hope for reform at home by freeing political prisoners and promising greater freedoms for Iran’s young and restive population. 
Make the jump here to read the full article

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 29, 2013

When is the Performance?

Practice, practice, practice, Buddhists are always talking about practice. What I want to know is: When is the performance?
- Robert Thurman, "Straight Outta Kapilavastu"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 30, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article

Via Sri Prem Baba:

“In essence, we are working to awaken love in each one of us. We are doing this through various different instruments. One tool is to sing the names of God and call for this power that abides in everything everywhere, inside and outside of us. Another tool is meditation and learning how to stabilize the mind and to establish mental equanimity, which comes to a mind that remains undisturbed by anything that happens outside. This equanimity manifests itself as you are able to anchor presence. In order to remain present, breathing techniques and the repetition of mantras are also used. Knowledge is yet another instrument that is used by means of self-investigation in order to be able to recognize the layers that cover up the Being. These layers are removed through comprehension.”
Sri Prem Baba

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Via Gay Marriage Watch: The Importance of Holding Hands

The Importance of Holding Hands

Written by scott on September 28th, 2013 Gay Wedding - Hands

My husband Mark and I were coming out of a movie theater in Folsom, California, yesterday (yes, that Folsom – prison and all), when he excitedly pointed to something and said “Look, look!”

I followed the direction of his outstretched finger and saw a group of people, a car, the building across the street – nothing particularly noteworthy.

Then he said “No, there,” and pointed again, and I saw it.

A young gay couple, walking across the street, holding hands.

Now, Folsom is no right-wing backwater, but neither is it a progressive mecca like San Francisco (or even nearby Sacramento). Its a solidly working-class community, a bedroom city, known for its famous prison, its Intel offices, and its shopping for locals in other cities close by.

Mark called out to the couple, and they stopped, obviously perplexed about being addressed by this stranger. We faced each other, two couples separated by something like 30 years, and Mark told them how amazing it was to see them engaged in the simple act of holding hands on a public street.

They were a little surprised – they couldn’t have been more than 20 years old, and I guess that, to them, nothing was more natural than holding the hand of the one you love.

And that’s the point. We live in a rapidly changing world. Sometimes I forget how fast its changing.

The next generation has no problem holding hands in public because, well, why should they? They are equal to everyone else, and they know it. At least here in California.

The whole thing made me realize how far I haven’t come. For all that Mark and I have embraced the marriage equality movement, a part of me is still stuck back in 1986, when I was a senior in high school, and petrified to think that anyone might find out.

In fact, my first thought when I saw this couple holding hands was the danger they might be placing themselves in by being so public.

My second thought was how sad it is that I grew up in such a different time, and that I still carry vestiges of my internal homophobia with me, twenty two years after I stepped out of the closet.

I wonder what it would be like to grow up gay now, in this place, in this time. To be sure of myself as a gay man in a way I never was at that age, and in some ways am still not today.

I wonder what it would have been like to have had a “real” wedding – one planned with time and care, instead of the one that was forced upon us by the onslaught of Prop 8 and the impending public vote on our fitness to be married.

And, if truth be told, I am a little envious of that young gay couple in Folsom, walking down the street hand in hand as if… as if it were the most natural thing in the world. And I was intensely proud of them.

We left the two of them there, probably shaking their heads at the strange attitudes of this older gay couple.

And I took Mark’s hand in mine as we walked back to the car.

Make the jump here to read the full article

Via JMG: Quote Of The Day - Guido Barilla

"Yesterday I apologized for offending many people around the world. Today I am repeating that apology. Through my entire life I have always respected every person I've met, including gays and their families, without any distinction. I've never discriminated against anyone. I have heard the countless reactions around the world to my words, which have depressed and saddened me. It is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family. In the coming weeks, I pledge to meet representatives of the group that best represent the evolution of the family, including those who have been offended by my words." - Guido Barilla, in a video message posted yesterday to the company's Facebook page.

Reposted from Joe

Via The New Civil Rights Movement: United Nations LGBT Meeting Issues ‘In Your Face Russia’ Declaration

The members of the United Nations’ LGBT Core Group held a ministerial level meeting yesterday – the highest level UN meeting ever held concerning LGBT issues  - to discuss violence and discrimination against the LGBT community throughout the world.
According to the Human Rights Campaign blog, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminded Ministers at the meeting that in some places, conditions for LGBT people are deteriorating, not improving.
 “They say that same-sex relationships and transgender identities go against their culture, religious beliefs or traditional values. My answer is that human rights are universal,” Pillay said.
“Our campaign on behalf of marginalized communities will meet resistance, even opposition. We must not be discouraged. We must stay engaged. Let us keep voicing our concerns, let us keep finding new allies, sharing good practice and standing fast alongside local human rights defenders on the front lines of this struggle.”
High level members from Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, The European Union, France, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the U.S. who gathered behind closed doors, issued this joint declaration, guaranteed to displease Russia:

End Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
United Nations, New York, 26 September 2013

1. We, ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and United States, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – members of the LGBT Core Group at the United Nations – hereby declare our strong and determined commitment to eliminating violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

2.In so doing, we reaffirm our conviction that human rights are the birthright of every human being. Those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) must enjoy the same human rights as everyone else.

3.We welcome the many positive steps taken in recent decades to protect LGBT individuals from human rights violations and abuses. Since 1990, some 40 countries have abolished discriminatory criminal sanctions used to punish individuals for consensual, adult same-sex conduct. In many countries, hate crime laws and other measures have been introduced to combat homophobic violence, and anti-discrimination laws have been strengthened to provide effective legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and other spheres, both public and private.

4. We also recognize that countering discrimination involves challenging popular prejudices, and we welcome efforts by Governments, national human rights institutions and civil society to counter homophobic and transphobic attitudes in society at large, including through concerted public education campaigns.

5. We assert our support for, and pay tribute to, LGBT human rights defenders and others advocating for the human rights of LGBT persons. Their work, often carried out at considerable personal risk, plays a critical role in documenting human rights violations, providing support to victims, and sensitizing Governments and public opinion.

6. We commend the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of resolution 17/19 on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, and we welcome the efforts of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to raise global awareness of human rights challenges facing LGBT individuals, and to mobilize support for measures to counter violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

7. Nevertheless, we remain gravely concerned that LGBT persons in all regions of the world continue to be victims of serious and widespread human rights violations and abuses.

8. A landmark 2011 study by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which drew on almost two decades worth of work by United Nations human rights mechanisms, found a deeply disturbing pattern of violence and discriminatory laws and practices affecting individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

9. It is a tragedy that, in this second decade of the 21st century, consensual, adult, same-sex relations remain criminalized in far too many countries – exposing millions of people to the risk of arrest and imprisonment and, in some countries, the death penalty. These laws are inconsistent with States’ human rights obligations and commitments, including with respect to privacy and freedom from discrimination. In addition, they may lead to violations of the prohibitions against arbitrary arrest or detention and torture, and in some cases the right to life.

10. In all parts of the world – including in our own – LGBT individuals are subjected to intimidation, physical assault, and sexual violence, and even murder. Discriminatory treatment is also widely reported, inhibiting the enjoyment of a range of human rights – including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and work, education and enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.

11. We are fully committed to tackling these violations and abuses – both at the domestic level, including through continued attention to the impact of current policies, and at the global level, including through concerted action at the United Nations.

12. We recognize the importance of continued dialogue between and within countries concerning how best to protect the human rights of LGBT persons, taking into account regional initiatives. In this context, we welcome the outcome of a series of recent regional consultations on the topic of human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity that took place in March and April 2013, and encourage the holding of further such meetings at regional and national levels.

13. Key to protecting the human rights of LGBT individuals is the full and effective implementation of applicable international human rights law. Existing international human rights treaties provide legally binding guarantees of human rights for all – LGBT people included. But for these guarantees to have meaning they must be respected by Governments, with whom legal responsibility for the protection of human rights lies.

14. Cognizant of the urgent need to take action, we therefore call on all United Nations Member States to repeal discriminatory laws, improve responses to hate-motivated violence, and ensure adequate and appropriate legal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

15. We strongly encourage the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue its efforts to increase understanding of the human rights challenges facing LGBT people, advocate for legal and policy measures to meet these challenges, and assist the United Nations human rights mechanisms in this regard.

16. We agree with the United Nations Secretary-General’s assessment that combating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity constitutes “one of the great, neglected human rights challenges of our time”. We hereby commit ourselves to working together with other States and civil society to make the world safer, freer and fairer for LGBT people everywhere.

Make the jump here to read the full article

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 28, 2013

We Don't Start with a Clean Slate

When we first sit down to meditate—and later when we return to the cushion—we can immediately recognize that we are not starting with a clean slate. Whatever the previous day, week, month, year, decade have brought—it is immediately clear that our minds are already in motion, already have movement and momentum in a particular direction before we sit down. Our experience when we sit down to meditate—whether we’ve been sitting for 30 minutes or 30 years—will often reflect our previous physical and mental 'training.'
- Gaylon Ferguson, "Fruitless Labor"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 29, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Flag of Equal Marriage

White House White Board: What ObamaCare Means For You

Via JMG: Athlete Ally Slams IOC

"When given the choice to stand up and affirm Principle 6 of the Olympic charter, the IOC simply backed down. And so we now head into uncharted territory in Sochi, a place where LGBT people - and others trying to support them - will be subject to persecution because of these heinous laws passed after Sochi was named the host city. Ultimately, enduring this travesty may be the great legacy of the 2014 Games because the complete disconnect between the gay propaganda laws and the Olympic charter is galvanizing people to join together. And together, we can change a sports culture, which is apparently not only rife with homophobia, but in need of a serious priority check. Standing up for equality is always the right thing to do." - Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally, via press release.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: ExxonMobil To Offer Same-Sex Benefits

ExxonMobil, long one of the largest corporate holdouts on LGBT equality, today announced that it will extend spousal benefits to gay employees.
The company says it will recognize "all legal marriages" when it determines eligibility for health care plans for the company's 77,000 employees and retirees in the U.S. That means if a gay employee has been married in a state or country where gay marriage is legal, his or her spouse will be eligible for benefits with Exxon in the U.S. as of Oct. 1. Exxon, which is facing a same-sex discrimination complaint in Illinois, said it was following the lead of the U.S. government. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states. In recent months, federal agencies have begun to offer benefits to legally-married same sex couples. "We haven't changed our eligibility criteria. It has always been to follow the federal definition and it will continue to follow the federal definition," said Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers in an interview.
Freedom To Work reacts via press release:
"Today is a victory for the freedom to work. After years of stubbornly refusing, we commend Exxon for joining the majority of the Fortune 500 business leaders that already treat gay and lesbian married couples equally under employee benefit plans," said Tico Almeida, founder and president of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work. "It's a shame Exxon waited until after the Labor Department issued official guidance explaining that their old policy does not comply with American law, and now it's time to move forward."
"We'd like to begin settlement talks next week in our Illinois lawsuit stemming from evidence that Exxon gave hiring preference to a less qualified straight applicant over a more qualified lesbian applicant," added Almeida. "It's time for Exxon to stop wasting its shareholders' money by running up legal bills on discrimination proceedings that can be settled right away if the corporation would simply add LGBT protections to Exxon's official equal employment opportunity document."
The Human Rights Campaign notes that the company still does not include LGBT employees in its official non-discrimination policies.
Granting health benefits to all married couples is a step toward equality but it is certainly not the kind of leadership exhibited by ExxonMobil’s competitors,” said Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Workplace Equality Program. “There is no federal law protecting employees from discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity and ExxonMobil refuses to join the majority of their Fortune 500 colleagues in adopting their own such policies. One has to wonder, what good are benefits for your same-sex spouse if you risk being fired for disclosing your sexual orientation in order to access them?”

Reposted from Joe

Queer Picks from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

SÍGUEME: A short film by Alejandro Durán

Rock Haven (2007)

Vintage Male Lovers.wmv

Notes From the Universe: When the God You Favor Doesn't Favor You


Every letter I wrote in Dear Universe has a story behind it. Some of those stories are funny. Some of those stories are heartbreaking. And some of those stories enrage me. So much that every time I open the book to read them, I remember the pain and hurt that lead to their creation...

"Dear Universe, Today I ask that you help me to remember: God does not favor people..."
This is the beginning of a letter that angers me every time I read it. A young black gay man inspired it. No, wait, that's not true -- a lot of young black gay men inspired it. It was written in response to the things I have heard loving and supporting black gay men throughout my life.

One of the events that inspired this letter happened on a Sunday afternoon at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. In case you don't know, Sundays at Piedmont are a time when many black gay men gather, cruise and flirt. It is also a place where I have had many life-changing conversations on spirituality and love. It was in one of those conversations that a young black gay man, who I only knew in passing, once shared this:
"I have had a lot of stuff happen to me in my life. And I know other folks have too. But I watch folks around me get things. Get better. Have people, family... and even when I try it never works for me. Never. My pastor says that you know when you are in God's favor... and I just... I've just come to understand that God does not favor me. That's the only explanation I can find for why things always seem to be so hard, why my family isn't here for me, why things are always taken away."

When I tell this story, people assume my first response to his story was sadness. But it was not. And thankfully, my mind did not move toward pity either.

No, in that moment, I was furious. I wanted to storm into every church that had dared to teach a person "God had special people" or "favored certain folks" and rip the fans from the ceilings and throw them through the slimy stained glass windows.

Why the rage, you ask? I mean, surely as a black gay person, who at that time lived in the South, I must have been accustomed to this kind of doctrine, right? Well, not exactly. First off, I didn't grow up going to church. And while I did grow up in the South, where Christianity was omnipresent, the experience of being invested in church culture -- or having church culture invested in you -- is not one that I know. So there are many things that black gay men who grew up in the church believe, or have experienced, that seem foreign to me... and in many ways, unfathomable.

Make the jump here to red the full article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Via JMG: Bjorn Borg Launches Russian Retail Site With Rainbow Newspaper Ad In Moscow

Retired tennis superstar Bjorn Borg launched a Russian website for his line of apparel today with a full-page Moscow Times ad that displays men's underwear arranged rainbow-style. Via press release:
“We are opening up for ecommerce on the Russian market. The opening advert is a way for us to reach Russian influencers. Björn Borg as a brand has always advocated equality on all levels. It is a human right to love and to make love to whoever you choose and we want to make a point of that through the advert in the Moscow Times today”, comments Lina Söderqvist, Marketing Director at Björn Borg.
(Tipped by JMG reader Paulo)
Reposted from Joe

Jon Stewart Rips Ted Cruz Over Obamacare Filibuster - 9/25/2013

Via JMG: NEW MEXICO: GOP Lawmakers Join Hate Group In Brief Against Gay Marriage

With the support of the anti-gay hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, two dozen current and former GOP members of the New Mexico legislature have filed a brief against the same-sex marriage case pending before the state Supreme Court.
The Republican lawmakers, represented by a conservative Christian law group called the Alliance Defending Freedom, said anti-discrimination and equal protection guarantees in the state constitution do not provide a legal right to marriage for same-sex couples. The lawmakers said that "the judiciary should exercise caution when asked to divine fundamental and important constitutional rights not expressly provided in the Constitution's text." The gay marriage issue has moved to the political front burner in New Mexico since August when Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins decided independently to allow marriage licenses for same-sex couples. At least seven other county clerks have followed, some because of rulings in lawsuits brought by same-sex couples.
The ACLU filed a supportive brief on Monday. The case will be heard late next month.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Barilla Doesn't Want Gay Customers

The Italy-based Barilla pasta company has made it clear that they don't want gay customers.
Guido Barilla, whose firm has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the US, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show last night: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand. “For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.” He added: “Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them”. But then the pasta magnate upped the ante by attacking gay adoption. “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose," he said.
Barilla has already retreated from his remarks, saying that he only wanted to "underline the central role of the woman in the family." Needless to say, the boycott calls have already begun. (Image via Towleroad)

Reposted from Joe

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 26, 2013

Gateway to Compassion

The gateway to compassion and loving kindness is to be able to feel our own pain, and the pain of others. If we are able to open in this way, our hearts can melt, and the healing salve of compassion can anoint all our wounds.
- Lama Palden, "Gateway to Compassion"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 27, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member 

Read Article

Via David CochranThe Rainbow Rose Society / FB:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Via JMG: HomoQuotable - Fred Karger

"In a August 22 blog post the National Organization of Marriage wrote, 'What's the best way to weaken and silence those you disagree with? Intimidation and threats, of course.' That statement also went into a NOM email blast to its claimed list of 500,000. NOM and its president, Brian Brown, have been attacking me ever since my sworn complaint against them in Iowa resulted in another ethics’ investigation of NOM. This was just one of Brian’s latest personal attacks against me. He is very upset because Iowa is the third state to conduct an ethics investigation into NOM’s illegal campaign activities. Ongoing investigations are under way in Maine and California as well, because of sworn complaints that I filed in those states. Just go to Google and search 'NOM threats.' There are 1,710,000 results. Trying 'NOM intimidation' will yield about 1,320,000 results. That’s a lot of NOM threats and intimidation." - 2012 GOP presidential candidate and NOM watchdog Fred Karger, writing for the Advocate. Hit the link and read Karger's 20 examples of NOM's threats, all of which have been reported here.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: MAINE: Former President George H.W. Bush Witnesses Same-Sex Wedding


The Washington Post reports:
Another prominent Republican has come out in support of same-sex marriage — or at least, in support of one particular same-sex marriage. Former President George H.W. Bush served as an official witness this past weekend at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store. Thorgalsen posted a photo of the 41st commander-in-chief signing a set of documents for them at an outdoor celebration: “Getting our marriage license witnessed!” No big statement from the ex-prez’s office. His rep Jim McGrath confirmed his and wife Barbara’s presence at the wedding: “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”
WaPo notes that other members of the Bush clan, including former First Lady Laura Bush, have endorsed same-sex marriage. Reaction to today's news should prove amusing on right wing sites.

Reposted from Joe

Touching Gay Story via FB:

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 25, 2013

Rain, the Snow, and Moon

Every day, priests minutely examine the Law
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain,
    the snow and moon. 
- Ikkyu, "Rain, the Snow, and Moon"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 26, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

M5S, Omofobia: "Noi non abbiamo paura"

Some context, for those who don't speak Italian: The person speaking during most of the video is named Silvia Giordano, a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. This protest is happening because, right now, same-sex couples living in Italy have no shared rights to property, social security and inheritance. They also can't get married. A rough translation of what Giordano is saying:

"Mr. President (of the House of Deputies), beyond the thousands of excuses and quibbles, we're talking here of matters of the heart, of feelings, of emotions. Because a kiss and a hug have not and will never hurt anyone. In fact, they are part of what contributes most to making us human. We want to make that clear. And so we're going to pull back the veil and to demonstrate that there is truly nothing to be afraid of. And we, Mr. President, are not afraid."

The deputies, members of the M5S party, then hold up signs protesting a political compromise that's restricting the rights of LGBT Italians — while the rest turn to their colleagues and demonstrate just how unscary a kiss is.

The best line, though, comes from the President of the Chamber at the end. He can be heard saying, "Onorevole Nuti, se ha finito di baciare il collega, faccia ritirare quei cartelli," which translates to:
"Honorable Mr. Nuti, if you've finished kissing your colleague, please take down those signs."

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 24, 2013

Knowing Death

As with many deep truths, people tend to look at the death awareness meditations and say, Yes, I know all of that. I know I'm going to die someday. I know I can't take it with me. I know my body will be dust. And as with other things—as with the law of impermanence itself—I would say we know it and we don't know it. We know it in our heads but haven't taken it into our hearts. We haven't let it penetrate the marrow of our bones. If we had, I can't help thinking we would live differently. Our whole lives would be different. The planet would be different as well.
- Larry Rosenberg, "Only the Practice of Dharma Can Help Us at the Time of Death"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 25, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article

Monday, September 23, 2013

Via JMG: NEW MEXICO: Attorney General Slams Putting Marriage To A Public Vote

"Here is where some critics have incorrectly interpreted the legal process. Some have said that I am trying to unilaterally disregard state law by not suing county clerks who have elected to issue same sex marriage licenses. Several District Courts have addressed the issue. Two separate judges essentially ordered two different county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Another judge ruled that the state’s prohibitive statutes are unconstitutional, paving the way for another clerk to start issuing the licenses. I maintain that the best way to resolve this issue is for the NM Supreme Court to decide whether our current law is unconstitutional. Finally, some people, including the governor, say that the issue of whether same sex couples should be afforded the same rights as everyone else in our state must be decided by the voters. I urge the reader to consider the following: The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; The 19th Amendment (Women’s Suffrage) in 1920; the Civil Rights Act of 1964;---none of which were voted upon by the general electorate." - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, who is expected to run for governor in 2014.  (Via Zack Ford)

Reposted from Joe

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 23, 2013

Spend Some Time with Yourself

I try to encourage my students to encounter the world within themselves, to try to follow the thread as to why they’re writing as deeply as they can into their subconscious. I tell them before they do any research, they should spend time with themselves, however long it takes: it could be a couple of days, or a couple of years. After that, you actually encounter someone else as someone else. You allow the world to enter and to become part of you, to break whatever cage you’ve been rattling around in. That part is interesting, too: we have to see our own cages.
- Nick Flynn, "Real Enough"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 24, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma September 22, 2013

Dogen’s Cookbook

When you prepare food, do not see with ordinary eyes and do not think with ordinary mind. Take up a blade of grass and construct a treasure king's land; enter into a particle of dust and turn the great dharma wheel. Do not arouse disdainful mind when you prepare a broth of wild grasses; do not arouse joyful mind when you prepare a fine cream soup. Where there is no discrimination, how can there be distaste? Thus, do not be careless even when you work with poor materials, and sustain your efforts even when you have excellent materials. Never change your attitude according to the materials. If you do, it is like varying your truth when speaking with different people; then you are not a practitioner of the way.
- Zen Master Dogen, “Instructions for the Tenzo”
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through September 23, 2013
For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member

Read Article