Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flower of the Day: 09/30/14

“Some people are focused on educating their children, and others are focused on redefining education. Some people are working to minimize conflict between the world's religions, while others are working to create technology to make life more comfortable and sustainable. Regardless of what your role may be in the divine game, on the deepest level, your work is to anchor loving awareness on the planet.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Nothing Else to Do | September 30, 2014

The practice is to make the non-arising of grasping and clinging absolute, final, and eternally void, so that no grasping and clinging can ever return. Just that is enough. There is nothing else to do.

- Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, "A Single Handful"

Monday, September 29, 2014

Via JMG: British Survey: 16% Have Had Gay Sex

A dwindling number of Brits believe that homosexuality should be made illegal again.
Attitudes to homosexuality are clearly becoming more liberal but there are still pockets of resistance. In total, 16% of Britons continue to believe that homosexuality should be outlawed. Men (19%) are more likely than women (13%) to advocate the banning of gay sex, and rejection of homosexuality peaks in London and the south-east, where more than one in five (21%) feel it should be illegal. However, at a total level, the proportion of Britons who believe gay sex should be illegal has reduced by eight percentage points, from 24%, since 2008.
According to the same survey, same-sex marriage support stands at 63%.
Reposted from  Joe Jervis

Flower of the Day: 09/29/14

“Sometimes it’s good to be alone in order to redirect the focus of our willpower, especially when we are very addicted to codependency. Being alone helps us to get an objective perception of reality, and this perception will help us become free from the game of lust. At some point, we will be truly ready to surrender ourselves to a spiritual life, not as an escape from relationships, but because we have learnt what we had to learn through them.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Lifting the Veil | September 29, 2014

With study and practice, we can move beyond our reductive thinking, lifting the veil to reveal the true nature of reality. 
- Wendy Hasenkamp, "Brain Karma" 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Via Daily Dharma

Internal Revolution | September 28, 2014

There are so many levels to this anti-greed, anti-hatred, anti-delusion teaching that says, in this world that’s filled with confusion, let’s be unconfused. In a world filled with hatred and greed, let’s be generous and loving and forgiving. The teachings are revolutionary on a societal level, but there’s also an internal revolution, because craving that creates addiction comes from inside, from the human survival instinct that craves pleasure and hates pain, and that left to its own devices will turn us into addicts.

- Noah Levine, "The Suffering of Addiction"

Flower of the Day: 09/28/14

“Relationships are crucial for growth, and doing group work helps tremendously. Beyond that, the sangha, or spiritual community, is a sacred jewel, because each person gives strength to the other. Still, the crossing takes place individually, and it’s natural at some point for you to start withdrawing yourself. There comes a moment when some people need this solitude, precisely because the journey is internal. This universe is sustained by lust and attachment, and we spend much of our time on relationships; but even so, at some point it will become necessary to turn within.”

- Sri Prem Baba

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"BAD ASS GAYS" film trailer. Premieres on Logo TV/Fall 2014

Flower of the Day: 09/27/14

“This is my prayer: ‘Oh Lord! Come and inhabit my body, inhabit my mind and intellect, inhabit my heart, so that no one may tell us apart. May I be one with you. May every word that comes out of my mouth be an expression of your holy word. May every act that I practice be an expression of your holy will.’

Our prayers should be made towards this direction, because we know there is no other request to be made. Intellectually, we have already understood that we are here to move from a state of separation and isolation to a state of oneness. We are moving from selfishness to altruism, from fear to trust, and from hatred to love.”

- Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

It's About Being Connected | September 27, 2014

My path to enlightenment will only come from being connected to the world around me. It’s not just about being centered inside; it’s about being connected to your world.

- Njeri Matheu, "People’s Climate March"

Friday, September 26, 2014

Via JMG: IOC: All Future Olympics Host Cities Must Agree To LGBT Discrimination Protections

The International Olympic Committee today announced that future Olympics host cities must sign a contract with an added clause vowing to protect LGBT participants and attendees from discrimination. Via press release from All Out:
“This is a significant step in ensuring the protection of both citizens and athletes around the world and sends a clear message to future host cities that human rights violations, including those against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated,” said Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of All Out, the global movement for love and equality. “This is a particularly important moment for the world’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens who face discrimination and persecution not only in Russia but in countries all over the world. We will continue working to make sure this change is powerfully enforced - these new rules must prevent a replay of Sochi.”

According to IOC Sports Director, Christopher Dubi, the new clause will include “the prohibition of any form of discrimination, using the wording of Fundamental Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter." This clause will ensure that future host cities must abide by international human rights standards in order to host the games, including the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens and athletes. “By adopting a non-discrimination clause into its host city contracts, the IOC is showcasing its own realization that we must protect the rights of every athlete to live free and openly,” said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “The Principle 6 campaign sought to shed light on the responsibility of host countries to uphold the olympic values, and this action validates all of the hard work by organizations and individuals across the world who’ve engaged in the fight for LGBT equality.”
RELATED: The 2016 Summer Games will be held in Rio De Janeiro, where robust LGBT protections already exist. The 2018 Winter Games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where homosexuality is legal, but anti-discrimination laws do not exist.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: HRC Head Chad Griffin: Obama Should Consider LGBT Successor To Eric Holder

"Some Attorneys General wait for history, others make history happen. Attorney General Holder made history for the LGBT community. He was our Robert F. Kennedy, lightening the burden of every American who faces legal discrimination and social oppression. We owe him a profound debt of gratitude for his legacy of advocacy and service. President Obama faces a historic opportunity in light of Attorney General Holder's departure. The President has expressed a commitment to appointing a cabinet that reflects the full diversity of the American people, and there are many richly-qualified candidates available to serve as the first openly-LGBT cabinet secretary. It would be a natural extension of this administration's enduring commitment to equality to send a message of visibility and inclusion by nominating such a candidate to serve in this historic role." - Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin, via email.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

JMG Headline Of The Day

The Daily Beast today published a lengthy accounting of the The Gathering, a secretive meeting of anti-gay right wing activists that starts in Orlando today. An excerpt:
The Gathering is an annual event at which many of the wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America—representatives of the families DeVos, Coors, Prince, Green, Maclellan, Ahmanson, Friess, plus top leaders of the National Christian Foundation—meet with evangelical innovators with fresh ideas on how to evangelize the globe. The Gathering promotes “family values” agenda: opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights, for example, and also a global vision that involves the eventual eradication of all competing belief systems that might compete with The Gathering’s hard-right version of Christianity. Last year, for example, The Gathering 2013 brought together key funders, litigants, and plaintiffs of the Hobby Lobby case, including three generations of the Green family. The evangelical right financial dynasties and foundations that meet each year at The Gathering dispense upwards of $1 billion a year in grants. But even that is overshadowed by the bigger sums that The Family and The Gathering have managed to route from the federal and state government to fund their movement via the Faith-Based Initiative program, USAID, PEPFAR and other multibillion-dollar programs.
Many of the anti-gay hate groups involved will be familiar to you. Definitely hit that link.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: Christian Group: Homosexuals And Gossips Both Deserve The Death Penalty

"We aren't just defending marriage - whether we call it natural marriage or traditional marriage or Biblical marriage - because it's the way we've always done things. We have a much more firm foundation than tradition. We affirm marriage in the way that God himself intended it. The church is not a Christian congress or Supreme Court. The laws of God cannot be overruled or deemed unconstitutional. Of course, we ALL break those laws and being a homosexual doesn't make a man a sinner any more or less than being a gossip. Both crimes deserve the death penalty, and only the one who relies on the righteousness of Christ can escape it." - Chris Johnson, writing for the American Decency Association, which notes on its Facebook page that it is the former Michigan chapter for the American Family Association.

PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: The American Decency Association declares that while they totally hate that homosexual Michael Sam, they are not the group by the same name that called for protesting Dallas Cowboys games. The American Decency Association calls for a boycott of Target and for Christians to mail their destroyed charge cards to company headquarters. The American Decency Association says the DOMA ruling was as bad as the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: Hate Groups Launch Joint Campaign: Don't Vote For Pro-Gay GOP Candidates

Posted yesterday on NOM's blog:
Three of the nation's top pro-family groups have announced an unprecedented campaign against three top Republican candidates for federal office because the candidates are supporters of same-sex 'marriage' and abortion. The National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action and CitizenLink announced they will urge voters not to support Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio (CA-52) and Richard Tisei (MA-6), and will urge Oregon voters not to support US Senate candidate Monica Wehby. "The Republican Party platform is a 'statement of who we are and what we believe.' Thus, the platform supports the truth of marriage as the union of husband and wife, and recognizes the sanctity and dignity of human life. This is what Republicans believe," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). "It is extremely disappointing to see Republican leaders in Washington help push the election of candidates who reject the party's principled positions on these and other core issues. We cannot sit by when people calling themselves Republicans seek high office while espousing positions that are antithetical to the overwhelming majority of Republicans."
CitizenLink is an arm of Focus On The Family.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: It's Time for the Freedom to Marry

Flower of the Day: 09/26/14

“Once we become independent, we may or may not end up helping to sustain our parents, but we need to observe who in us is doing this. Where does our sense of responsibility come from: guilt or love? Do we want to help because our heart is open, or because we feel guilty? Many people help their parents out of a sense of obligation, but they will later expect 'compensation,' even charging 'interest' and 'inflation adjustments.' Rather than being monetary, this compensation comes in the form of emotional pressure. One actually ends up subtly humiliating one’s parents, taking revenge for having been hurt in the past.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Dialy Dharma

The Things That Matter | September 26, 2014

If you’re not really what you stand for, then the things that matter the most are always going to be at the mercy of the things that matter the least. 
- Cheri Maples, "She's Got the Beat" 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Flower of the Day: 09/25/14

“Gluttony is related to sexual repression. There is a subtle channel that connects the tip of the tongue to the sexual organ. You cannot fulfill the objective of life without looking at sexuality. Once you are able to free yourself from repression, your whole body can relax and an internal space will open up. An awareness springs, which also helps bring one’s eating habits into balance.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Hanging Off a Rock | September 25, 2014

Hanging off a rock is an exaggerated experience of facing the unknown. It is exhilarating, scary, and completely vibrant. When we can’t find a foothold, the mind falls into an open stillness—the same brief pause we encounter in any situation where we lose our familiar reference points. If we have the wherewithal to relax, we find our way. 
- Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, "Open Stillness" 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Via NYT Opinion: ‘I Do’ Means You’re Done

In and around Rome, the talk is of Pope Francis’ sage acceptance of the 21st century, of his empathy, of his departure from the stern moralizing on matters of the heart that his predecessors engaged in.
In Montana, a gay couple who have been together for more than three decades have been told that they’re no longer really welcome in the Catholic parish where they’ve been worshiping together for 11 years.

This happened last month, in the town of Lewistown. By all accounts, these two men, one of them 73, the other 66, had done no one any harm. They hadn’t picked a fight. Hadn’t caused any particular stir. Simply went to Mass, same as always. Prayed. Sang in the church choir, where they were beloved mainstays.

There was only this: In May of last year, without any fanfare, the men had traveled to Seattle, where they had met and lived for many years, to get married. And while they didn’t do anything after to publicize the civil ceremony, word eventually leaked out.

So in early August, a 27-year-old priest who had just begun working at the parish summoned them to a meeting, according to local news reports. And at that meeting, he told them that they could no longer be choir members, perform any other roles like that or, for that matter, receive communion.

If they wanted those privileges restored, there was indeed a remedy, which the priest and other church officials spelled out for them over subsequent conversations. They would have to divorce. They would have to stop living together. And they would have to sign a statement that marriage exists only between a man and a woman.

Translation: Renounce a love fortified over 30 years. Unravel your lives. And affirm that you’re a lesser class of people, barred from the rituals in which others blithely participate.
With those little tweaks, the body of Christ can again be yours.

In one sense there’s nothing revelatory here. For all the changes afoot in enlightened countries around the world, the church remains censorious of same-sex marriage — fervently so, in many instances — and Catholic teaching still forbids sexually intimate relationships between two men or two women.
But there are details to note, rue and reject. One is the hypocrisy (or whatever you want to call it) of punishing a same-sex couple for formalizing a relationship that was already obvious, as these men’s partnership was.

Such punishment has befallen many employees of Catholic schools or congregations since the legalization of same-sex marriage in many states allowed them civil weddings. Teachers long known to be gay are suddenly exiled for being gay and married, which is apparently too much commitment and accountability for the church to abide. Honesty equals expulsion. “I do” means you’re done.

I reached the Montana couple, Tom Wojtowick and Paul Huff, on the phone Tuesday, and Wojtowick expressed befuddlement. “We’re just two old men,” he said, and their relationship was no secret. “We’re only 5,900 people in this town, and Paul and I are really well known.”

Flower of the Day: 09/24/14

“The deepening of a loving relationship cannot be forced. At times a person needs variety, which may even be the remedy for healing their repression. They may need variety because they aren’t ready to look at certain pages of the book of their life yet. There is nothing wrong with this. These are just moments along the journey. We must not fall into the trap of the idealized self which expects us to give what we don’t have to give. The idealized self is a cruel tyrant who demands that we be something we are not. It asks us to surrender ourselves to a relationship, even if we are not ready for that.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Addiction to Thoughts | September 24, 2014

When it comes to addiction we’re usually talking about alcohol or substance abuse, but there can also be an addictive quality to our thinking.
- Robert Chodo Campbell, "Just Shut Up" 

Flower of the Day: 09/23/14

“I know that many people who are with me are praying for others who are ready, that they may wake up. This is a spiritual current for awakening. It is a vigil happening around the globe. This vigil is made up of current of souls that are mature enough to understand that they need to pray for their brothers and sisters.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Touch the Core of Time | September 23, 2014

Through spiritual practice we can go beyond our egoistic point of view. We can touch the core of time, see the whole world in a moment, and understand time in deep relationship with all beings. Then we cannot be isolated and cold people. We become beautiful and warm people, appreciating and helping all beings.

- Dainin Katagiri, "Time Revisited"

Monday, September 22, 2014

Flower of the Day: 09/22/14

“The remedy for all wounds is understanding why you had to go through a particular situation that hurt you. Emotional wounds are like thorns stuck in the flesh, and sometimes they get infected. This infection is when bitterness and skepticism develop regarding the possibility of being happy. This bitterness can sometimes turn into revenge, and can activate vicious circles that act in different ways, but always generate suffering and destruction. However, the wound should be seen as a teacher, because it is always teaching you about the mystery of life: it is teaching you to forgive.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

A Never-departing Shadow | September 22, 2014

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows,
Like a never-departing shadow. 
- The Buddha, "'We are what we think." 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Via Daily Dharma

A Tree Needs Roots | September 21, 2014

In Buddhism, we study and reflect on the dharma; and then, fully blending what we have understood with our mind, we practice resting evenly in meditation. In the beginning, a tree needs strong roots. Similarly, what is most important for meditation is calm abiding. 
- Ogyen Trinley Dorje, "Calm Abiding"

Via Daily Dharma

If We Could Let Go| September 20, 2014

The very act of clinging causes mental distress—have you ever noticed that longing hurts? Moreover, the exertions are futile since grasping cannot extend the life of pleasure, not even by a nanosecond. As for unpleasant sensations—in truth, they disappear in a moment, too. But when you feel averse to them, the pain doubles. It’s like trying to remove a thorn in your foot by piercing the skin with a second thorn. If we could let go, the mind wouldn't suffer. 
- Cynthia Hatcher, "What's So Great About Now?"

Flower of the Day: 09/19/14

“Absolutely everything that happens has a spiritual significance, because life is a spiritual adventure. But of course there are more meaningful moments and less meaningful ones. The greater the change that life brings you, the greater the spiritual significance you will unveil. For example, even if you were satisfied with your job and end up losing it, take this as a gift from existence that is helping you to align yourself with your dharma, your greater purpose.”

Sri Prem Baba

No Thought of Self | September 19, 2014

Bow not for something—to get something for yourself. Bow to empty yourself, to repent and clean out your mind. With no thought of self, all benefit. With a thought of self, all suffer. 
- Heng Sure, "Bowing" 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flower of the Day: 09/18/14

“Some people are stuck in the game of accusations, but are not the slightest bit aware of it. Their lives are a disaster, but they cannot see where they are putting themselves. The person may believe they are a saint, or at least a really good person, but doesn’t stop complaining and speaking ill of others. This negative energy turns against them and this becomes a vicious circle that can only be broken if there is space for friendship, cooperation, union and most importantly self-responsibility.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Compassion Isn’t Incidental | September 18, 2014

When there isn’t enough compassion being generated (either for ourselves as individuals or in the world in general), we become unbalanced; we suffer from it as we would from a lack of fresh air and clean water. It is not an incidental element, it is mandatory. We will not survive without it. 
- Patricia Anderson, "Real or Pretend?" 

Flower of the Day: 09/17/14

“As you evolve along the journey, you start to see beyond the veil of illusion and to perceive that everything is part of the divine game. Everything that happens is a chance for you to free yourself of karmas. Even negative situations are the manifestation of divine mercy, because they are opportunities that teach you to overcome attachments and your identification with the ego. They’re an opportunity for you to fulfill the objective of life, which is to experience unity within multiplicity.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

The Secret of Zen | September 17, 2014

"The secret of Zen is just two words: not always so."
- Shunryu Suzuki, "Mindfulness at Moonshine Hollow" 

Via Daily Dharma

Opening to Vulnerability | September 16, 2014

Relationships work to open us up to ourselves. But first we have to admit how much we don’t want that to happen, because that means opening ourselves to vulnerability. Only then will we begin the true practice of letting ourselves experience all those feelings of vulnerability that we first came to practice to escape. 
- Barry Magid, “No Gain” 

Flower of the Day: 09/15/14

“Don’t expect the violence out there to cease: that is an illusion. The world will always invite you to enter into warfare. The question is whether or not you will accept the invitation. It isn’t always possible to be out there in the world relating to others without getting identified with something. When this happens, allow yourself to withdraw from the world; but know that at some point you will have to go back out there. The key is to be willing to give of yourself, really wanting to see others happy. It starts with this higher-level study of acting as a channel for generosity and sharing your silence and love with others, even if they don’t know that you are doing it, or if they consciously don’t want you to – or even worse: if they get angry about it.”

Sri Prem Baba

For Whom Do We Practice? | September 15, 2014

We must ask: for whom do we practice? We see the paradox of the self in the world, focusing inwardly in order to manifest outwardly. The inward look is the outward view. Ultimately we practice for others as our inward polishing manifests itself as good action in our activities. 
- Eido Frances Carney, "The Way of Ryokan" 

Via Daily Dharma

More Than Heartfelt | September 14, 2014

The bodhisattva approaches the work of relieving others’ difficulties with as much ardency as we might pursue or protect the things that we value most highly and desire most strongly. His motivation is more than heartfelt; it is urgent, passionate. 
- Manjusra, "An Everyday Aspiration" 

Flower of the Day: 09/14/14

“Suffering catches hold of us through comparison and desire, which drag down our consciousness. With the slightest lack of care, we begin to compare and desire things, which places us in the labyrinth of psychological time. We go from the past to the future, and from the future to the past, but we are never in the present. When we compare ourselves to others, we start wanting to be what they are or to have what they have. This is one of the roots of human misery. When we can observe all that is transitory without getting identified with it through desire or comparison, we will have discovered the way out of the labyrinth.” 

Sri Prem Baba

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Via Daily Dharma

Pure and Bright | September 13, 2014

If you [only] keep away from samsara and dwell in real permanence, your eternal Light will appear, thereby causing your organs, sense data, consciousness and [mad] mind to vanish simultaneously. The objects of your thinking process are [polluting] dust and the feelings that arise from your consciousness are impurities; if both are kept away, your Dharma eye will appear pure and bright instantly. 
- The Buddha, "When Rahula Rang the Bell" 

Friday, September 12, 2014

International Law and the Uncertainty of Rights for LGBT People

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people the law is a paradox. The law can operate as an instrument of repression and control, but also as a tool for resistance and liberation. We find fragments of our collective histories in court records. Here we find a sorry history of people in countries across the world convicted of loitering, sodomy, cross-dressing or so-called "crimes against nature."

For a vulnerable minority, and an unpopular one, domestic and international law has proven to be an indispensable tool, sometimes the only tool, for LGBT people to claim a space in the world. Two decades ago in a 1994 case, the UN Human Rights Committee in Toonen v. Australia asserted the right to privacy for same-sex consenting adults under international law. In 1998, South African courts repealed the Immorality Act and five years later, in 2003, Lawrence v. Texas saw the remaining sodomy laws in the US declared unconstitutional.

Yet some 76 countries around the world maintain discriminatory LGBT laws. Britain exported its sodomy laws to the empire, where many remain in force. These laws not only hold the threat of arrest and prosecution, but have other profound implications for LGBT people as well. Even in the many countries where sodomy laws are seldom enforced, such as India and Uganda, they still symbolize national discrimination against LGBT people.

Human Rights Watch has reported these laws are routinely used for blackmail and extortion, in settings as diverse as KyrgyzstanJamaica and Uganda. Such laws contribute to a climate of prejudice and hostility in which violence occurs with impunity. The passage of the anti-propaganda laws in Russia led to a peak in violence against LGBT people. In Nigeria, the immediate effect following the enactment of draconian legislation was mob violence against gay men. The law in these places means that LGBT people must live a shadow existence under the threat of violence.

What seldom gets talked about is the psychological impact on individuals. The archaic language of these laws; "the abominable crime of buggery" as the Jamaican law reads, the more delicate language of "the love that dare not speak its name" or vague reference to "carnal knowledge against the order of nature," casts a shadow over desire and the most personal expression of human intimacy. Read through the judgment of the Indian Supreme Court ruling that upheld the sodomy law: the language of family and kinship is reserved for heterosexual marriage, while for homosexuals the language is one of body parts engaged in sexual acts.

A Nigerian activist in Abuja recently told me a story about how, when she visited London, someone had asked her about the situation back home. She said she instinctively withdrew to a corner and spoke in hushed tones, before thinking, "What am I doing?" She had already internalized a fear of being noticed. What cumulative effect does this have on self-esteem and self-worth?

Sodomy laws have historically been used for political purposes. In France in 1307, King Philip IV brought sodomy accusations against the Order of the Knights Templar and dissolved it. The reason - he was heavily indebted to the Knights at the time. In England, King Henry VIII promulgated the Buggery Act in 1533 then promptly accused Roman Catholic monks of sodomy and used that as an excuse to confiscate their monastic lands. He also disposed of his opponent Lord Hungerford by executing him for sodomy in 1540.

Such tactics are still in use. The progress, passage and fate of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act has as much to do with political intrigue within the ruling party and President Yoweri Museveni's fluctuating popularity as it has to do with homosexuality. Vladimir Putin wears a mantle of traditional and family values as political armor that works for him domestically, and also internationally as he takes the stage on an anti-Western ticket. In Malaysia, the political opposition is kept in check by recurrent accusations of sodomy against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. And in Zimbabwe we can tell an election is coming just by monitoring the level of homophobic rhetoric emanating from the ruling party.

Anti-gay laws are seldom just about homosexuality. Homophobia is both a reality and a ruse. Increasingly it is being used as an instrument of political repression. Laws that ban "propaganda," "promotion," or support of LGBT groups are so vague and sweeping that they threaten fundamental freedoms of association and expression. And it is not only LGBT groups that are at risk. The recent wave of anti-LGBT legislation that seeks to outlaw not only sexual practice but also public expression of identity is almost invariably accompanied by broader attacks on activism, on political opposition and on the ability of local organizations to receive foreign funding.

This is playing itself out at a national level, but it is also evident internationally. At the UN, Russia is leading an aggressive charge against the rights of LGBT people under the rubric of "traditional values." Speaking on the crisis in Ukraine at the UN Human Rights Council in March, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov caricatured recent advances in basic human rights for marginalized people as resulting from "[s]upporters of ultraliberal approaches, supporting all-permissiveness and hedonism, requesting a revision of moral values."

Similarly with a push for more limited language on "the family" and an emphasis on the rights of the family as an entity, rather than the individuals who make up the family, the Russian government and its allies are pushing for a concept of human rights that protects the group over the individual. This rhetoric and practice creates a false dichotomy and pits "tradition" against human rights. LGBT rights are the wedge issue, but at stake are the basic principles of international human rights law: that human rights are universal, inalienable and indivisible.

So we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this is only about the rights claims of a vulnerable minority. The well-known adage that the way a society treats its minorities is a good measure of its democracy rings particularly true. What seems distinct about this particular time in our history is the way in which the rights of LGBT people have become a lightning rod for competing visions of the world.

Using homophobia for political ends is as old as the law itself. What has changed is that this is playing itself out on an international level and is becoming the language for articulating two very different visions of the world, one in which human rights are seen as a value to be cherished and upheld, the other in which human rights are seen as a profound threat.

This article was adapted from a speech at a Wilton Park conference.

Via Blue Nation Review / FB:

Via Sonja van Kerkhoff / FB:

Brilliantly said TW "There we have it BP's personal opinion with unconnected quotes from the writings some out of context in quasi support. We'll done. If this version of the faith is true then it is one of the reasons that mankind will not accept it. It's old fashioned, dogmatic and riddled with injustice."

As long as the UHJ follows God's guidance it agrees with B!

BP... I don't expect for a minute for the UHJ to make policy based on popularity, I expect them to be concerned with what fits the Bahai principles and teachings. The UHJ have not ruled on same-sex marriage. Perhaps they will, perhaps they will not. It is a new phenomena but that does not mean that they need to make a ruling. Instead they might allow NSA's to decide what is wisest.

We see above the NSA's letter to Sean asking him to reconsider his marriage. They do not state that he has to leave nor that he has lost his voting rights. This is a step in the right direction. In 2009 Daniel Clark Orey lost his voting rights without consultation nor warning and the only way he could regain them was to divorce his husband. The US Bahai community lost a flower in the garden of humanity because of this action.

The UHJ states that marriage is only between a man and woman but they do not express that as a policy because they think this is expressed in the Bahai writings somewhere. The policy they do make in the 2010 letter on same-sex marriage is that when this is a political matter that Bahai communities are not to take sides. What I am talking now is when same-sex marriage is a law of the land. Both Sean and Daniel's marriage are legal marriages.

The 2010 letter does not associate being homosexual as something bad. I am surprised that you keep confusing Shoghi Effendi's name and authority as official interpreter with the lesser authority of letters written on his behalf which is the only place where homosexuality is mentioned although your comment "The interpreter clarified the matter, and the interpretations and applications of this law never mention child molestation" actually refers to Abdul-Baha not Shoghi Effendi.

I end with something Shoghi Effendi did write: 

"It should also be borne in mind that the machinery of the Cause has been so fashioned, that whatever is deemed necessary to incorporate 23 into it in order to keep it in the forefront of all progressive movements, can, according to the provisions made by Bahá’u’lláh, be safely embodied therein. To this testify the words of Bahá’u’lláh, as recorded in the Eighth Leaf of the exalted Paradise: “It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them. God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth, and He, verily, is the Provider, the Omniscient.” Not only has the House of Justice been invested by Bahá’u’lláh with the authority to legislate whatsoever has not been explicitly and outwardly recorded in His holy Writ, upon it has also been conferred by the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the right and power to abrogate, according to the changes and requirements of the time, whatever has been already enacted and enforced by a preceding House of Justice. In this connection, He revealed the following in His Will: “And inasmuch as the House of Justice hath power to enact laws that are not expressly recorded in the Book and bear upon daily transactions, so also it hath power to repeal the same. Thus for example, the House of Justice enacteth today a certain law and enforceth it, and a hundred years hence, circumstances having profoundly changed and the conditions having altered, another House of Justice will then have power, according to the exigencies of the time, to alter that law. This it can do because that law formeth no part of the divine explicit text. The House of Justice is both the initiator and the abrogator of its own laws.”