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I’m not sure I’m thrilled with Valleywag outing Tim Cook

Um. Hmm.

I’m not sure I’m entirely thrilled with Valleywag essentially outing Tim Cook. He isn’t in a position to legislate against LGBT folks. Much as I think he’d be happier if he were publicly out, and much as I’m not thrilled with the double standard that suggests gayness is something that ought to be kept secret, it is still Cook’s decision.

Meet Apple’s New Boss, The Most Powerful Gay Man in Silicon Valley

Gun control…please? Please, people…

I’ve listened to right-wing bloviation blaming the victims. (Check Salon. I’m not willing to give these idiots a click through). With that, I don’t feel it’s out of place to speak up.

Can we please, please dispassionately and intelligently re-examine the Second Amendment? Is it possible – just POSSIBLE, mind – that a provision that made sense to the framers more than two centuries ago might not have the same relevance in our modern democracy? While we’re at it, can the NRA ratchet down the hypocrisy and stop pretending that gun ownership is under some kind of organized assault at the hands of the evil, nasty left? The NRA is one of the most massively funded, and widely successful lobbying organizations in history. But their default position – even as Glorious Leader feels like the most appropriate first response to the Virginia Tech shootings is to throw some red meat action their way – is to act like this will be the end of guns for all those law-abiding members of the citizenry who really, REALLY need an assault rifle. For hunting.

The Right in this country goes into heat threatening a new Constitutional amendment to ban abortion, prohibit gay marriage and make flag burning a crime punishable by death just about every 14 seconds these days.

Can those of us on the Left get over our fear of upsetting these idiots and start calling for a serious re-examination of the right to bear arms?

Who let them trannies into the club?

To start, see the John Avarosis piece here…

John Avarosis gets in a rant over on Salon about passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and transgender inclusion. You may want to go read the piece yourself, because I don’t plan to do a comprehensive summary here, but apparently his sticking point seems to be thus:

While he says he “supports” transgender rights — just, you now, not right now, or anytime in the near future — dropping gender identity from the version of ENDA now working its way through the House was precisely the right move, because we’ve got the votes for an LGB-protecting bill, but not an LGBT-protecting bill.

From there, we scurry down the rabbit hole. He uses that bit — which has some serious critical errors I’ll get to — to meander around the whole “problem” of including transpeople in the LGBT alphabet soup in the first place…because, as everyone knows, transfolk really have nothing in common with gay people.

Where by “gay people,” I suppose we really should say, “Gay men like John Avarosis.”

Avarosis supposes that trans-inclusion was something that was “forced” on the gay community from the outside (“outside” here meaning the evil, nasty politically correct queens running national LGB-rights groups. Since we’ve got to scapegoat someone in this, it may as well be folks running national lobbying and activist organizations; that or any transgendered or transsexual person you happen to have handy will do, thanks).

The fundamental problem in Avarosis’ line of thinking, of course, isn’t that transfolk have been somehow magically added to the queer community — they’ve been part of it all along. Including the T in LGBT is merely a recognition of the facts on the ground, no matter how hard gay men like Avarosis may want to pretend otherwise, or pretend that such recognition is being “forced” on us from above.

What do I have in common with a transgendered MTF? We’re both gender variant. We both get an awful lot of shit for that fact from the culture at large, and truth be told, from lots of gay men who really ought to know better, but don’t, as the continued promotion of this line of thinking indicates. Avarosis isn’t saying anything really new, here; he’s just trying to have it both ways – exclude trannies, but really “support” them, whatever that really means. If we’re willing to excise transsexuals and transgendered folks from the queer community on supposedly pragmatic grounds, really, who’s next? The queeny boy or the butch dyke? At what point does it become immoral or wrong to do something just for the sake of theoretical expedience?

Make no mistake, it is entirely theoretical. While the ENDA – in its current trans-excluding form – may have some chance of passing the House, its chances in the Senate are by no means assured, and there’s always the strong possibility of a Bush veto. That Bush hasn’t yet said anything about the bill doesn’t mean he’ll automatically sign it (that Bush hasn’t yet threatened a veto of the bill somehow makes it just a slam dunk for passage in Avarosis’ estimation). Bush isn’t the idiot Democrats like to think he is. He’s more than aware of who’s funding the Republicans in the next election cycle.

What this fundamentally boils down to is this: do we want a queer community that can throw its some of its members under the wheel for the sake of expedience, or the slim possibility of passage of one bill? What does that bill really do for us, if it specifically excludes legal protections for gender-variant folks who arguably need its protections most?

Avarosis tries to make hay out of the notion that black people fought for civil rights just as incrementally, but frankly, that argument really holds no water. Black people fought for – and won – antidiscrimination laws that protected everybody, including white people, by being race-neutral in their language. An antidiscrimination law that outlaws discrimination based on race doesn’t make exceptions for Latinos or Asians, which is really what Avarosis’ defense amounts to.

Finally, for those Democrats who can’t wrap their brains around supporting a trans-inclusive gay rights bill: you’re doing us no favors. Stop taking our money and pretending you support us.

Avarosis can suck it (though he’s probably too much of a man to admit that he’d actually like to)

Susan Striker wrote a well-thought rebuttal to the crap Avarosis Salon piece I wrote about a couple of days ago, that makes several of the points I was trying to make much more coherently:

Striker corrects Avarosis bullshit view of queer history, for one thing, and rightly calls him on the claim that trans-inclusiveness isn’t something being forced on the queer community “from above” as Avarosis has repeatedly tried to claim (apparently he’s really on a roll over on his own blog; I’m loathe to give the idiot the clicks, but some of the comments to Stryker’s piece on Salon are fairly telling).

I suspect, though, that what’s really going on here is that Avarosis is one of a long line of “straight-acting” gays who really wish the gay movement would get back to providing him with fuckable nuggets of appropriately butch, straight-acting man candy instead of peskily bothering with equality for queers Avarosis has no particular interest in sleeping with.

Fundamentally, this comes back around to the question of just what we really mean by equality. Straight acting fags assume that conditional tolerance is good enough, but that comes at the cost of genuinely supporting gender variant people (gay, bi, straight or otherwise) who can’t or won’t conform to social expectations of gender. You simply cannot claim to “support” the rights of transgendered and transsexual persons while simultaneously claiming that they’re expendable in your quest for “pragmatic” political action. There’s no such thing as a scarcity of justice (to steal and rephrase an excellent point from one of the Salon commenters). Justice for all means absolutely everybody, which is an idea that even conservative gays like Avarosis ought to get behind, but he (and they) won’t…because the dirty little truth here is that he simply doesn’t believe in justice for everybody.

Hmm. Maybe it’s time.

I hate to say this, but maybe the trans community needs to organize itself, separate and apart from the gay (and here, I think I very specifically mean gay-as-in-gay male) community.

I’ve been debating the pragmatic vs. idealistic argument with regard to the ENDA with several people, and I’m slowly coming to the realization that relying on the gay community for anything at all is probably going to end only in frustration for transfolks. The ironic thing is that gay people themselves have been told the same thing for decades. This exact argument – precisely the same – has been used by supposedly progressive Democrats in the past with specific regard to nearly any gay positive state or federal legislation. For more than two decades – or, nearly the entire time the US has had a visible lesbian and gay civil rights movement – gay people were told by (supposedly) well meaning straight folks in positions of power that we’d just have to wait for our time to come, and that now just wasn’t the time to try and pass a hate crimes bill or add “sexual orientation” to a nondiscrimination law. We’d have to wait until society caught up. We swallowed this until we simply refused to keep swallowing it. A generation of people my age and younger, who grew up in a post-Stonewall world, radicalized by AIDS activism were simply unwilling to wait for society to catch up.

What painfully short memories we have.

Or maybe there are just more folks like John Avarosis out there in the world and I’ve been giving the gay community credit it doesn’t actually deserve. Maybe most gay people really only care about protecting against sexual orientation discrimination and nothing else. Folks have made this claim, publicly, before – Somewhat famously, Roseanne did, not long ago, and was excoriated for it in gay circles.

Maybe it’s true.

Maybe it’s time for the trans community to stop asking for acceptance from a GLB community that from appearances doesn’t understand T* folks, and actively resists trying to. I’m ashamed of us queers for even coming to this place, but I’ve been beating my head against a wall with gay people who (I’ve said) really ought to know better.

You know what? We ought to know better.

But we don’t.

We don’t want to. Or, at least, we sure as hell seem not to.

I wish this wasn’t where my head was at around these issues, but for better or worse this is where I’m at.

But I’ll tell you this: the first pissed-off tranny who gets radicalized around ENDA – or whatever the next signal event happens to be – and starts a separate movement will have a few queer supporters throwing dollars his or her way. Because, ultimately, if it really does take a separate trans* movement to pry open the brains of the queer community at large, the organized GLB money machine won’t be getting any more of mine.

Hits the nail on the proverbial head.

This is precisely why I don’t like the term “partner” – especially when we buy into using a “less-than-equal” term on our own to describe our relationships. In this society, your married-other-half who is a woman is your wife. If your married other half is a man, he’s your husband. There’s no reason heterosexuals get to own these terms. From the Prop 8 trial testimony:

Chu: How does getting married change things. 

Zia: In most immediate sense, it was in how our families related to us. When we first got married. We have a niece, 2 years old, only known us Auntie Helen and Auntie Leah. WHen she saw Leah and me, she gave us a big hug, said, Auntie Leah, now you’re really my auntie. I thought, well, you’ve always known her as your auntie. Somehow it made a difference. It made a difference to our parents.When you say you’re a domestic partner. When people say …who’s this person? I can’t count the number of times who said …Partner in what business. We’d say …partners in life. Often it was bewilderment. What business is life, do you mean life insurance. It’s a matter of how our families relate to people. For me to show up at every event. People ask who’s she. For her 90-something auntie to say, here’s Leah’s friend. She must be a really good friend, suddently there were able to say, Helen is my daughter in law.

Feeling proprietary around the word “Marriage?” Me too.

Ok, social conservatives. I get it.

Really, I do.

You feel an incredible sense of propriety around the word “marriage.” To some of you, it even represents a religious sacrament. It’s deeply meaningful to you, on several levels.

But here’s the thing: you don’t get to claim exclusive ownership of “deeply meaningful on several levels.” I have a stake in that, too. Just as you have the deeply intuited sense that marriage means “one man and one woman, joined together in a social, legal and cultural framework, (and, for at least some of you) blessed or ordained by God” the sticking point is that you don’t get to make an absolute demand that every other legal marriage has to conform to each and every aspect of that proposed framework.

Are you folks saying that heterosexual civil (but non-religious) marriage isn’t marriage?

Are you saying that non-Christians who get married aren’t entitled to consider themselves married?

Are you saying that – given that procreation is inevitably used, over and over again to justify heterosexual privilege, here – that infertile-but-straight couples have no right to claim the term “marriage” for their relationships?

Of course you aren’t.

If you can make room for civil marriage – not domestic partnership, not “civil unions,” not semi, sort-of, watered-down versions of “marriage lite” for other folks – for atheists and agnostics, for folks who have no intention of ever having children, biologically or otherwise, for folks who don’t solemnize their relationships in anything even remotely close to your personal religious traditions – if you can make room for THOSE folks, is it really so beyond the pale to consider that a gay couple is owed a place at the table, too?

I get that many of you feel provincial about marriage.

I get that you’d rather we just settled for domestic partnership, in all its lack and imperfection, but here’s the thing:

Separate-but-equal is unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter how many “defense of marriage” laws you may manage to pass. Once upon a time, the written letter of the law in this country defined black people as 2/3 human. The law was wrong. It changed.

The laws around marriage, as presently written, in much of the country are wrong. They’re simply, flat-out wrong. They need to change. I understand that you don’t want them to change, but that doesn’t alter the fact that a fundamental moral wrong is still being done, here.

Even if our domestic partnership/civil marriage arrangements really were separate-but-equal, they’d still be wrong, and the “marriage-lite” arrangements we have aren’t even within shouting distance of the appearance of equality.

Full civil marriage for all consenting adults, or none at all. Anything else is simply wrong – not just as a matter of principle, but as a matter of settled law.