Thursday, 27 August 2009

Proof That Gay Marriage Does Not Destroy Marriage

People opposed to gay marriage or Civil Partnership always claim that these undermine traditional marriage. We may be able to believe them should ever manage to explain how this is actually happening. They never do.

As far as I can see, straight couples are doing a very nice job of undermining marriage themselves. And in any case, how can giving more people the opportunity to join in something undermine it?

Well it seems that we now have the proof that not only gay marriage does not destroy marriage, it actually help support and strengthen that institution.

Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for the past 5 years. This means that we now have 4 years of data allowing us to judge the extent of the damages wreaked on that poor state by gay marriage.

Well, guess what: according to the latest figures from the National Center For Vital Statistics, Massachusetts is the US state with the lowest divorce rate of all, and that rate is about equal to the national divorce rate... in 1940.

Provisional data for 2008, shows that the divorce rate may actually even be falling (by 0.3% from 2.3%)!

So there we have it. Now we have proof of what we, sensible people, already knew. Gay marriage is, quite unexpectedly, only about gay people being able to create loving and committed relationships and has none of the deleterious effects forecast for marriage and society.

Homophobic religious people are painting themselves in an ever tighter corner and the increased hysteria that seems to be characterising their most recent comments about gay marriage and what it does to the world is a clear sign of that. I think we only have to sit back, relax (not too much: a right given can just as easily be taken) and have a good laugh while they make fools of themselves and total discredit themselves.

And talking of a laugh; check out that report from the Daily Show on the subject above:

You can also read this article in the Chicago Tribune to get an idea of how anti-gay marriage activists react (or not) when challenged with those new figures.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Gay Homophobe

As I was about to board the bus that would take me to Tesco yesterday afternoon, I spotted a rather attractive guy, already on the bus seated in the first few seats at the front. I looked at him a couple of times and it seemed to me he was looking back.

I got on the bus and went to stand in the open space opposite the exit doors and waited for my stop. Before this one arrived however, the bus got the guy's stop. As he stood up we exchange another glance. It felt like a typical "cruising" situation. I had very little doubt that the guy was gay - I know that my gaydar is not great but it's not that bad.

The guy however started mumbling under his breath, looking at me square in the face and with a pained expression. He was speaking in West Indian patois and I didn't get what he meant other, perhaps, than the word "bumboy". Whatever his exact words, the purport of his speech was quite clear: he wasn't happy.

I just stared at him with on interrogative look on my face; the pithy repartees needed in such circumstances would (as usual) only come to me about 20 min later.

There is a widely spread theory that the most virulent homophobes are actually self-hating homosexuals and I have to say that this episode didn't do anything to change my mind on this.

For me and my gaydar, this guy was clearly gay, whether he is aware of this or not is another question, though I would tend to say that he is. Why else would he have noticed that I was looking at him? I look at guys a lot on the street and in public transport and in almost all cases they never notice me looking at them. And I wasn't even particularly insistent in this case.

His reaction was, of course, unexpected but it is also interesting that he didn't actually shout what he had to say or that he did it in a foreign language that most people on the bus would not understand. I think there may be hope for him. I hope there is.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sue Sanders

One of my pictures, used to illustrate an article on Wikipedia, has been used by Manchester Pride to advertise one of their events.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

I'm a Photographer, not a Terrorist

Click on the image above for more information.

What's the Point of JobCentre - Part 2

On the day where we learn that the number of jobseekers as gone up once again to reach over eight million, it is probably time for an update on my experience with JobCentre and share a few more nuggets.

I still haven't found an answer to the question I first posed back in June, other than that they are there to administer people's claims.

In the past couple of months, I have not received one bit of advice from them on looking for a job. The only advice comes from friend and from a kind recruitment agent who took an hour of his time to explain to me about what I think are called "functional CVs". I will certainly give those a try. It's not like I have anything to lose.

Last week I went to sign at my scheduled time and was informed that I would have to attend a compulsory group session the next day. When I queried the very short notice, I was informed that they normally give a week. I also had the opportunity to explain to the clerk how email job alerts work. Shouldn't they know about these things?

The next day I attended the session. I was aghast when we were told that would start 2 minutes late. People apparently complain when they start on time. I find it absolutely unbelievable that JobCentre not only condones but effectively encourages such behaviour, when they should help people learn that most basic of disciplines.

The session itself was an introduction to the workings of the Jobcentre. Apart from its self-congratulatory tone, it was of little help and came about two months too late. Still, I managed to finally get an answer the questions I had emailed to my advisor, whom I suspect to have gone on maternity leave without setting up her out-of-office assistant. Why else would she ignore my emails?!

On a more positive note, this week, I received notification that I would receive Housing Benefit and a Council Tax credit. This didn't go quite as smoothly as one could have expected. Together with the notices for each respective benefits, came a third one stating that my claim had been denied. Confused, I rang the relevant Council service to be told that I could disregard this third piece of paper.

Why send it? And why send the letter I received a few weeks ago asking me to provide some information I had provided in person only a week before?! That letter actually did contain a line that it should be disregarded should I have already provided the information.

Still, I supposed I shouldn't complain. My Housing Benefit amounts to more than my actual rent by £64 per month...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Tempus Fugit

In October 1993, at 19, I started university. Although I was still going back to my parents', about 50km away, every week-end, this was for me the real beginning of true independence. I had been spending my weeks away from home (at the French version of a boarding school - i.e. nothing posh about it) for the past four years but this was different. From my room in a student residence, I was more or less free to do what I wanted.

Within a few months, having finally realised that I was neither straight nor bisexual, I had been to my first gay club, had met my first boyfriend and had started to come out to my closest friends. I also started to find my own sartorial style.

This was not a particularly rosy or successful time and I don't look at it with fond nostalgia, wishing I was still there, but it was an important stage in my life.

Part of this metamorphosis involved the purchase of a silver ring. Something cheap (the equivalent of £7 (70 Francs), as I remember) but I thought it was elegant and fashionable with its design which, as I later found out, was based on an Indonesian pattern.

I placed it on my right ring finger and it has very seldom left that finger ever since. Only once, a few years back did I lose it for a while, having taken it off at the gym, it has somehow slipped from the pocket of my bag where I had placed it.

Over the year, the ring has lost some of its own shape to better espouse the shape of my finger; a few dents have appeared, but on the whole it's been in a way a faithful companion.

Last week however, I noticed a crack in the part of the ring facing my palm. I thought it would probably be fine; other wounds inflicted to it by time had not grown any worse over the year. Today however I notice that the problem has indeed grown worse: a part of the ring has gone loose (as can be clearly seen on the pic above).

the cost of repair, which I can't afford at the moment in any case would probably be more than what the ring itself is worth. I have also no idea where I could get the job done. I therefore had to reluctantly retire this old friend.

My finger feels naked and my thumb keeps going back to where it used to find the ring to play with it and readjust it. It seems that after 16 years, a page needs to be turned. Hopefully, the departure of the ring will mark the start of another momentous period in my life, just like the one heralded by its arrival.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Open Letter to Rev James Tallach - Part 2

After finally managing to track an email address for Rev James Tallach of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, on the Isle of Lewis, I sent him the email reproduced in this earlier post, challenging his alleged attribution of the reason for a tornado on Lewis to "god's warth" at the first celebration of a Civil Partnership on his island (as reported in this article on PinkNews).

His first reply was as follows. Although, I have asked him permission to reproduce his emails, my request has remained unanswered. I have decided to publish anyway, since I am sure the Reverend is a man of integrity who would stand behind his own word publicly.

Dear zefrog
Thank you for your thoughtful email.
During my interview about these matters I was asked whether I saw the tornado as a judgment for the breaking of God's commandment. I said specifiically that I did NOT make that connection and spoke of changing weaather patterns.This was correctly reported in at least one account. I did not see all the reports in all the papers but obviously from your remarks at least one newspaper wrongly reported my remarks. I made no such pronouncement.
Kind regards
James Tallach

A day later, however, I received another email from him:

Dear zefrog

As far as same sex civil partnerships are concerned the Bible catagorises such relationships as sin. Lev 18;22 and Rom 1;22 ff. Jesus as the very embodiment of the love of God warned repeatedly those about them against braking God's law. If a doctor warned you that you had a mole which might cause your death would you count this a mark of hatred?

You suggest 'charitable work in aid of those in need.' I spent 13 years as a doctor in a single doctor hospital in the bush in Zimbabwe on a low wage and no state or NHS pension for those years. Since leaving I have supported our Mission work there in our secondary school and hospital and plan to go out for 3 weeks in October to see if further help is needed. Was that the kind of 'charitable work in aid of those in need' you had in mind?

James R Tallach

My reply to his second email (reproduced below) was -sadly- ignored.

Dear Reverend,

would you allow me to reproduce the content of your emails on my blog?

As far as I know the Bible doesn't mention civil partnerships. it does however refers to sex outside of marriage as being sinful (one the 10 commandments, right?). Therefore civil partnerships, or even better gay marriage, would seem like a good solution to that particular problem.

As for the elements in Leviticus (Rom is only Paul's view on the subject and it is disputed that he actually refers to homosexual acts, so allow me to discard this), they do not describe mortal sins, so this talk of hell is irrelevant. There are also many other things that Leviticus forbids which Christians have been quite happy to disregard. Why being so selective and focus so much on sex? The Bible mentions usury much much more than homosexuality, yet, we don't hear Christian demonstrating against that...
Also, from what I understand, the word "abomination" should be taken as meaning "outside of the dogma", which diminishes the import of the whole thing for people who are not part of this religion.

There are also several positive passages about relationships of the same-sex. As we both know (I am sure), if you look hard enough, you can find anything and its opposite in the Bible.

I can't help but noting also that you are the one mentioning hatred, not I.

I applaud you for your various work in Zimbabwe. this is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. I find that many religious people spend too much time, energy and money fighting something that is not relevant to them and with which they should not feel the need to meddle, while they could redirect all those resources to more useful work, such as you type you are involved with.

Best wishes,


"God's answer turned out well"

Published on Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.

To The Editor: Twenty-five years ago we discovered that one of our sons was gay. We loved him, but I was afraid of what the future held for him in a society that did not accept him.

Therefore I began to pray that God would change him. One day as I was praying, I got a message from God that God did not work that way. So instead of God changing my son, God changed me. God changed the way that I viewed homosexuals, and gradually my understanding of Scriptures. From that moment on I began to accept my son as he was.

Eventually God led me to PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) where I met other parents who were like me. There I found the courage that I needed to come out of my closet and talk openly about my son, not only in PFLAG meetings but also in the church and community.

Since that time God has blessed my family in many wonderful ways by bringing not only a wonderful partner for my son into our lives but many other wonderful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people as well. I thank God for changing me.

Rev. Jerry W. Miller