Archive for LGBT

Same-Sex Marriage, and Why the Church Should Just Drop It

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

In the past week, two vastly important events occurred regarding the LGBT community. First, North Carolinians make their voices heard in the voting booth on Tuesday, passing a state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage by defining it as between one man and one woman.

Two days later, President Obama, in an interview with ABC News, came out personally in favor of same-sex marriage, becoming the first sitting US President to do so.

It’s been an absolutely bipolar week of achievements and heartaches, and it’s something that almost everyone has touched on, which is why I was hesitant to write this article. However, a Facebook friend of mine recently posted an article entitled Why Same-Sex Marriage Perverts the Relationship Between Christ and His Church. In it, the author argues that Christian marriage is defined in the Bible as between one man and one woman, because it is representative of the Church. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. — Ephesians 5:22-27

Personally, I thought it was a very enlightening article. That is, if you believe that marriage is defined by the church, and don’t completely understand why the LGBT community is fighting for marriage equality.

Any church denomination would be hard-pressed to redefine their definition of marriage because there is so much biblical backing for the “one man-one woman” definition of marriage, as evidenced by the citing of Scripture in this article. Everyone in the LGBT community understands this. It would be pointless to make the Church do anything, since they are an entity all of their own, exempt from taxes and protected to their own freedoms by the Constitution.

What the LGBT community is fighting for is LEGAL marriage equality, as defined by the government. Legal marriage gives couples over 1000 rights as married couples, such as being able to visit your significant other in the emergency room, government assistance benefits, and tax breaks, among other things.

The problem with this fight is that same-sex marriage opponents often conflate the two, thinking that what the LGBT community is fighting is some kind of “war” on traditional marriage. That’s not even close to the truth. Individual churches may choose whether or not couples can be married in the church, but even when same-sex couples are denied, they should still be able to go to the court house and find a Justice of the Peace, just like any other couple who doesn’t want a church wedding can do.

Having a “Christian” definition of marriage, to me, raises up a bunch of other questions. Like, if marriage is a Christian institution, why are people not as angry when straight Muslim, Jewish, or atheist couples get married? What is it about same-sex couples, some of whom have been together for upwards of 30 years, destroying the “sanctity” of an institution that has a 60% divorce rate?

Someone in the comments thread on Facebook pointed out that the crux of the argument in the article is that, in a same-sex marriage, there is no one to submit to the other. Two men can’t submit to each other because the man is the ruler of the household. Two rulers means no one is submissive. Which would be correct, if people still valued traditional gender roles and were as two-dimensional as some would believe.

As far as I’m aware, two people getting married has little to no effect on a massive organization like Christianity. I really don’t see what the big deal is.

The Gay Marriage Debate

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

Rick Santorum is an idiot.

Ordinarily I don’t like calling people names. However, Rick Santorum, Republican Presidential candidate, by sending the tweet above, proved himself to be an idiot.

In case you don’t understand the reference: The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that no state has the right to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage. There is no social or legal justification for denying same-sex couples all of the rights that married couples receive. It’s a great step forward for civil rights.

But apparently, telling the states that there’s no reason to deny all people equal rights is stripping rights away. Word of advice for those trying to figure that out: don’t bother. The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

For me, this falls under the larger blanket of “wars on religion” that Republicans are so convinced that Democrats are waging, but for now, I’ll just focus on the gay marriage aspect.

I have never really understood what the big deal about gay marriage is. If two people absolutely want to commit themselves to each other for the rest of their lives, I say let them do it. There really is absolutely no reason for anyone to deny anyone else that right. Allowing same-sex couples the opportunity for marriage doesn’t mean straight couples aren’t allowed to marry. It just means more people are allowed to get married. It’s not a complicated issue.

Allowing same-sex couples the opportunity to be married doesn’t mean you have to have a same-sex marriage. I don’t plan on marrying another man, and I’m well aware that I never will be forced to marry another man if a gay marriage law passes.

There are only so many ways to say it, and yet people are still so ignorant and stupid about it.

But I have a question for Mr. Frothy-Mixture: exactly who’s rights are being stripped away? Seven million people are suddenly being oppressed because a court of appeals says it’s stupid for people to be prejudiced?

I just really, truly, have no idea what sort of logic–or lack thereof–is being employed with ignorant statements like Rick Santorum’s. If there’s someone that can explain to me that line of thinking to me, please do, because I’m so confused.

Gotta Say It: Lady Gaga at the VMAs

Posted in opinion, pop culture with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

First off, don’t judge. I tuned into the VMAs to watch Adele, and never changed it, then never changed it for the replay. I also didn’t want to tweet a bunch about the VMAs, but I sent 17 tweets. I feel bad, I really do. But I stand by the Justin Bieber one. Those glasses looked stupid.

Second off, I don’t want to write about Lady Gaga. I really don’t. I was a fan, but now I believe her eccentricism has gotten in the way of her creativity, and she’s become a joke. I honestly believe that. She can make all the messages about loving others and being yourself that she wants. Those are great messages to hear. But when your messages are overshadowed by the collective groan of, “Aw geez, what’s she gonna wear/say/do THIS time?” you’re doing something wrong.

That being said, kudos to Lady Gaga for jumping that over-the-top outfit ship.

See, Gaga has been known for her crazy outfits. Every awards show begins with, “What will Lady Gaga wear?” She’s shown up in bubble dresses, meat skirts, a giant egg. Everything about the show–awards speculation, moving tributes of music stars that are no longer with us–is eclipsed by the news of Gaga’s outfit or antics.

Then, for some reason, everyone started hopping on the Eccentric Train. Bright colors, weird fabric bunching, reflecting crap, stupid stuff on top of the head, all of that was suddenly in vogue. More and more new artists are coming up dressing as crazy–sometimes even crazier–than Lady Gaga.

Then we get to this year’s VMAs. Nicki Minaj showed up as a stuffed-hippo-ice-cream-disco-ball. Katy Perry wore pale pink with circles and triangles, and ended the night with a cube on her head.

And Lady Gaga showed up as a dude.

I’ve always said that one day Lady Gaga would show up to an awards show dressed in a black cocktail dress with her hair pulled back into a bun. Apparently, “black cocktail dress” to Lady Gaga means “a dude.”

In a way, I’m proud of Gaga jumping that ship. She’s built a career on individuality, and just when everyone is hopping on her bandwagon, she jumps off and starts something new. To me, being her alter-ego, Joe Calderone, was out there, but some say it’s a logical step. Everyone wants to be her, so she’ll be something new.

Lady Gaga, while I don’t exactly understand why you do what you do, you do some great things. Keep being an innovator, keep doing your thing, because you’re sending out a powerful message for those who choose to listen to it.

But seriously, that awkward moment when you almost kissed Britney Spears? Enough of that. That’s just creepy.

Letters to the Editor: A Potpourri of Opinions

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , , on April 9, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

When I have the window open for creating a new blog post, I get a list of the categories I’ve created, and the subcategories that go with them. And as I was looking through these categories, I noticed that my “Letters to the editor” category only had one post filed under it. “Surely,” I muttered aloud, “I will be able to find another interesting letter to the editor to reply to.”

Lo and behold, there are several letters in today’s issue of the Des Moines Register that are fairly short and pertinent to topics I’m passionate about. It’s like a dream come true, really.

The full list of letters can be found here. I’m posting, it their entirety, the three letters that I wish to resond to. I do have an opinion on the others, but I feel that these three are the three most pressing issues currently on my mind, so I’m better able to reply to them. Any italicizing or bolding is purely my own emphasis.

HEALTH CARE:

There were a couple of letters about the health care reform bill in today’s issue. And it was welcome to see someone supporting the bill rather than slinging partisan catchphrases to oppose it. I agree with this letter in its entirety:

In regard to Glenn Fanslow’s April 4 letter opposing the health care reform law that was recently passed: The American people spoke loudly when they elected Barack Obama president. They wanted change, and change is what they’re getting.

The opposition can continue playing the partisan game if they want to, but they’re going to be left behind in history. As time passes and more of the health care reform goes into effect, and people see the sky isn’t really falling, it’ll get harder to argue that it is.

I’m thankful every day that Congress, at the president’s urging, has taken the difficult steps to first lead us out of the recession. These social issues are going to get resolved instead of being talked to death by the Republican Party.

Sen. Chuck Grassley even has the gall to tout sections of the health care law that he put in – then, in lockstep with his party, voted against.

I especially like the last paragraph of this letter, because it shows what many Republicans are doing and have done with this bill. They complain about how there was “no discussion” about the health care reform bill, and how the Democrats “shoved it down the throats of the American people.” Yet when there was ample opportunity to have discussion and to be bipartisan, they fouled it all up by not talking about it, and instead wanting it to be forgotten and to “prove” that Democrats can’t keep their promises. It’s disgusting to think that the people who are leading this country are driving it into the ground with ignorance and faulty rhetoric.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE:

Speaking of ignorance and faulty rhetoric:

I strongly disagree with the Rev. Chet Guinn’s assertion that the issue of marriage is “insignificant” compared to issues like global warming (“Churches Must Renew Shared Global Values,” April 2).

As Pope Benedict XVI has pointed out, social issues and environmental issues are intricately linked. It all relates to God’s creation. Respect for nature includes respect for human nature.

If we seek to defend part of God’s creation by protecting the environment, it is important for us to defend other aspects of that creation as well. This includes defending marriage as the natural union of the two complementary sexes.

There are several problems I have with these sorts of arguments, the main one being that people assume that marriage is a gift from God. It’s not. Marriage is a part of all cultures, way before the invention of religion, and even remote, God-less, “savage” cultures, who have no exposure at all to world events, have marriage ceremonies.

Also, there is absolutely no correlation between global warming and same-sex marriage. Letting gays marry won’t increase the global temperature, and cutting down carbon emissions won’t turn gay people straight.

The fight for same-sex marriage isn’t to push some radical, homosexual agenda to turn everyone queer. The fight for same-sex marriage is one for equality: same-sex partners want to have the same benefits that Mr. and Mrs. Robinson get when they say “I do.” That’s it.

Same-sex couples want to visit each other in the hospital, they want to adopt children, they want their belongings to go to the other in case of death. They don’t want to start Hetero-Concentration Camps and kill straight people who don’t want to kiss a member of the same sex.

(I’m reminded of a webcomic that I frequent called Surviving the World. The link given is to Thursday’s comic about how blood donors are similar to gigolos, but it’s the text underneath that I’m a huge fan of. Read it, and let me know what you think).

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY:

This topic came in a two-fer: the editorial cartoon, and a letter to the editor. The cartoon has a caption at the top that reads, “Who has the ultimate responsibility for preventing obesity in children?” On the left is Ronald McDonald; on the right, “Parents”. To me, it shows that parents are quick to blame others for their faulty parenting, and never take the blame themselves. The letter, though not about obesity, sends an equally strong message:

How do basketball players get good at shooting three pointers? They practice – a whole lot. How do children become better readers? They practice – at home – a whole lot.

If parents do not require children to read every night, or read with them, better reading scores will not happen. We do not need to spend money on an investigation to solve this problem.

We need parents to take charge of their children, and work together to make daily reading a pleasurable part of their lives.

It’s true: parents are quick to say, “Well, it’s not my fault that my child doesn’t know how to read. If the teachers would teach more effectively, then it wouldn’t be an issue.”

However, part of the responsibility of being a parent is to also be a teacher. When your child is still young and impressionable, it’s your job to teach your children right from wrong. The parental teaching doesn’t stop when the child goes to school. You teach your child to sit, crawl, walk, talk, tie their shoes, apologize, wash themselves, dress themselves, use the toilet, and a myriad of other tasks. Why does reading–along with healthy eating habits, and so much more–have to take a backseat to all of this?

I appreciate any comments agreeing or disagreeing with this post. Remember to be a fan on Facebook and follow this blog on Twitter.

Morality is Subjective

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

When someone says that a person really “sticks with their morals,” it’s usually a good thing. It means that the person is able to stay on the straight and narrow, never faulting from their beliefs, and is a great example to emulate. But what exactly is “morality,” and how do we define our morals?

Dictionary.com defines “morals” as “principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct” (definition 11, under noun). That’s fine and dandy; we can appreciate someone who knows right from wrong, and continues to choose right over wrong at any point in time.

But what is “right” and what is “wrong”? Is there a universal definition for those terms in every scenario? The answer is unfortunately and resoundingly “no.”

There is a reason there are so many moral dilemma scenarios out there. It’s a great experiment into how flimsy morals are. I love playing them, because I love seeing how people who strictly believe that murder is wrong sweat over a scenario like the following:

You are a switchboard manager of a train station. There is a train that has lost control and is moving down the tracks at an amazingly fast speed. On the tracks ahead are 5 people who will be killed without a doubt if nothing is done. There is a switch that you have control over that will send the train on a sideline. On this sideline also without a doubt 1 person will be killed. The choice is yours what do you do? Do you save the 5 people, by killing the 1 person? Or do you use the switch and have the 1 person standing on the other sideline track killed?

What would you do? Many would immediately say to throw the switch, because losing one life is less costly than losing five lives. That’s a very noble answer.

But then comes the morality of the question: by flipping the switch, you have committed murder. You have intentionally used an object (here being a train) to end a human life. However, if you let the train go and kill the other five on the track, there was nothing you can do, it was beyond your control, and you can wash your hands of it all.

But suddenly, a new layer comes: is it better to live with the guilt of killing one person, or the guilt of knowing you could have saved five lives? Obviously having the burden of five innocent lives on your heart would be terrible, and it would be easier to know that the one life you ended allowed five more people to live.

Then there is another one of my favorites: You manage to go back in time and you are in a room with a 3-year-old Adolph Hitler. You have a gun in your hand and are fully aware of what happens during WWII, but at this point, the baby is innocent. Do you kill little Hitler, or do you let him live?

The immediate response is to kill Hitler. He’s Hitler, you know what he does, and you save over 6 million lives. However, at this point, the kid is innocent. He’s three years old, and hasn’t done anything. If anyone found out that you killed a young, defenseless child, you would be ostracized and exiled. (Click here for more excellent moral dilemmas.)

The point is, morality is subjective. We can see it across cultures, and even looking back through history. Today, it is immoral to have sex with young children, yet in places like Mexico and the Philipines, the age of consent is as low as 12 years old, and in ancient Grecian times, it was not uncommon to masters of trades to have relations with their younger, male apprentices.

Today, it is immoral for a man to hit a woman, yet not more than 50 years ago, it was encouraged to occasionally smack a woman to let her know that what she was doing is unfavorable.

Even in cases that don’t really matter much, such as swearing, people have completely different views. Some such as myself, have no problem dropping the occasionaly curse word, because it is part of this culture’s lexicon; but I also know others who have never dropped a curse word in their lives, and will backpedal like crazy if they’re caught doing something so “morally wrong.”

The purpose of morals is to make sure we differentiate right from wrong, but there are so many definitions of both that it’s impossible for everyone to be on the same page. Where some people feel that sex before marriage is immoral, others have no problem with it.

Probably the biggest issue of this all, though, comes from people who claim to be part of the “moral majority,” speaking out against the sins of the world, and eventually are caught in the act of those sins they were speaking out against. Most recently that person was Republican Senator Roy Ashburn, who was arrested for DUI after leaving a gay nightclub. Senator Ashburn later came out to a radio host, saying, “Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.”

I’m not condoning either side of any of the issues laid out in this blog. In fact, I’m all about having people voice their own opinions on issues laid out in this blog, as well as the many, many issues that crop up every day. All I’m saying is that if we’re going to praise someone for sticking to their morals, we better know what those morals are.

Hypocrisy and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Posted in current events with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Hypocrisy runs rampant in the world. There is not one person in the world that isnt’ a hypocrite, and if you claim that you are not, then you are just digging yourself into a hole. Parents can be hypocrites when they tell their children not to drink or smoke, while in the same breath, they tell stories about how they would get people older than them to buy them alcohol and cigarettes. Politicians are hypocrites when they claim to be all about family values, and later are caught cheating on their spouses with another woman (or man, in some cases).

Even some pastors are hypocrites. I was listening to a podcast recently of a megachurch, and the pastor said that when he was in college, he did the stereotypical college things: he drank, he smoked, he had sex, and was generally a nuisance. But then he “came to the Light,” and completely changed his behavior. He claims that because he was converted, he is able to see and learn from his mistakes, but the way he presented it definitely seemed like he was making up for his mistakes, and that by preaching so adamantly against those behaviors, he is absolving his past sins.

But the biggest form of hypocrisy that is in the news today is the attempt at eliminating the archaic “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the military. Quite literally one of the last remaining forms of discrimination that is completely unwarranted, it forces gays and lesbians that are serving in the military to “keep their gayness to themselves.” It’s honestly shocking and apalling that this sort of behavior is still acceptable in the military, but it’s the sort of thing that is allowed to happen, because it isn’t “outright discrimination,” as I like to call it.

“Outright discrimintaion” is a form of discrimination where it is obvious why the discrimination is happening. If Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, or any other racial demographic were discriminated against in the military, those specific groups would be up and arms, because no matter how the government or the military words it, it is obvious that the discrimination is based on race.

On the other hand, if gays and lesbians are discriminated against, there are other possible reasons for the discrimination, such as low morale, insubordinate attitude, and so on. Because there is no reason to believe that the discrimination is purely on sexual orientation alone, it is allowed to happen. And so, gays and lesbians are forced to be untrue to themselves in order to protect their country.

Absolutely unacceptable.

There is no way that this should be allowed to happen, and both parties need to realize that it is wrong. The problem is, the “family values” Republicans with their mistresses and their young male pages refuse to accept that homosexuality is completely normal and natural, while at the same time, “progressive” Democrats with their “free love” mentality and their inability to be forceful can’t step up to the challenge.

If President Obama really wants “Don’t ask, don’t tell” eliminated, he’s going to have to quit being a moderator and start being a leader. Change needs to be done on so many fronts, but by trying to be bipartisan, Congress and the Senate are just dragging out a process that could easily be quick and easy.

I know I’m going to be a hypocrite in saying this, because I believe that all church services should be like old country Lutheran churches, with pipe organs and traditional liturgy, and with no such thing as a praise band doing contemporary music, but there are plenty of people out there who need to embrace change, and just need that little extra shove into the modern age.

James Cameron’s “Avatar”: An Equal-Opportunity Offender

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Before I begin, let me just clarify: I don’t get out much, which means that when huge blockbuster movies come around, I rarely get out to see them. I make a big effort to go out and see the “Saw” series (though I missed Saw VI) and the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen all three Lord of the Rings in theatres. But for some reason, despite it’s technological mastery and fantastic visual imagery, I have no desire to see “Avatar”, James Cameron’s latest epic about the friendly blue giants called Na’vi.

And from the looks of it, it’s probably a good thing, as this movie (that has already made over $1 billion dollars, I might add) has set out to offend everyone. James Cameron, what have you done to the world?

Special interest groups everywhere are up in arms about this movie because it has offended them. The Vatican claims that “Avatar” is offensive because it promotes nature worship over religion. The military claims that “Avatar” portrays soldiers as “fanatical crazed killers who have joined a military mercenary force to destroy a civilization so that corporations can capitalize on some rare commodity”.

But it gets stranger than that: anti-smoking groups claim that the movie promotes smoking as a positive trait. Left-wing groups claim that the movie is racist because an exotic culture needs to be saved by a white human. Disability groups are upset twice: first, because the synopsis for the movie describes Jake Sully, a disabled Marine, as “confined to a wheelchair”, and secondly because Commander Quaritch promises that Jake will “get [his] real legs back”.

But what is really mind-numbing is that LGBT groups are protesting “Avatar” because it depicts heterosexuality as continuing to be the sexual norm in the future. And what’s even worse that that mental health experts claim that the movie is causing depression in many who see the movie, because the world of Pandora is the perfect Utopian society, and as one man was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplated suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora.”

Really? All this over a sci-fi movie?

Of course, this isn’t the first time that special interest groups have rallied together to protest movies. A short list of movies that have been boycotted in recent years include:

  • Bruce Almighty,” which shows a human using God’s powers, despite being a lesson in letting God do God’s thing.
  • The Harry Potter series, which indoctrinates children into becoming witches and wizards, despite the fact that both the movies and books say that wizardry is hereditary.
  • “The Ringer,” which makes fun of disabled people, despite the fact that producers worked directly with the Special Olympics to avoid being offensive. And,
  • Tropic Thunder,” which uses the term “retard.” To be fair, it was used as a commentary on special needs roles as compared to Oscar wins–if you go “half-retard,” like Dustin Hoffman in “Rainman,” you win; if you go “full-retard,” like Sean Penn in “I Am Sam,” you lose.

The only problem with all of these arguments against James Cameron and his nifty little movie is one that nobody seems to see: the movie is science fiction. The key word in that last statement is fiction, a word that means, “It’s not real.”

The real issue behind all of this “controversy” is that people love to be offended, and nobody does it quite as well as Americans. The fact that we’re being offended by works of fiction, and quotes taken outside of the context of situation, character, among other factors, is disgusting.

Then again, look at the world around us: we’re recovering from a horrific economy. America is fighting two wars. Haiti is still recovering from that horrific earthquake. The world is an absolute mess, so maybe it’s great that we can escape to the perfect world of Pandora, and all the peace and harmony that it stands for.

But being offended by nearly every aspect of the movie? That’s ridiculous and unacceptable.

My suggestion to the world: snap out of it. Not everything has a hidden political agenda, and if you’d open your mind and stop trying to make everything politically correct, you might be able to enjoy yourself every once in a while.