Friday
August 18, 2006
SGN.org
Volume 34
Issue 33
 
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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018

 

 



 
Letters
THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT

Dear SGN,

Thank you for all your help and support in making our event a great success. We could not have done this without your generous donation. Alison Arngrim aka. Nellie Oleson from "Little House on the Prairie" helped us raise close to $3,000.00 for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance Thrift Store with her one-woman show. Thank you for your generous contribution and for helping people living with HIV and AIDS. We could not have done this without your donation of advertising. Thank you doesn't seem to be enough, you are the best!

David & Steve

TWISTED LOGIC BEHIND MARRIAGE RULING

[Editor's Note: The following letter was sent to The Seattle Times and was forwarded to the SGN by the author.]

Wade Schmidt's letter to the editor in Sunday's paper ("The couple's best friends") asks, "What makes the fact that Gays (a very, very small minority) want to be married more important than that non-Gays (a large majority) don't want them to be?" In a word, the answer is "inequality." The legislature exists in part to ensure that rights, privileges, and responsibilities are offered equally to all citizens, and the judiciary [is supposed] to uphold those laws. If they didn't, the majority (whatever the issue) would always choose to hold power over the minority and to enjoy special rights that they would withhold from others, as -- in fact -- this state's recent ruling demonstrates.

The twisted "logic" of Justice Madsen's Supreme Court opinion upholding DOMA states (quoting another decision) at one point that "[f]undamental liberty interests include the right to marry," and at another that "[t]he plaintiffs have not established that ... they have a fundamental right to marriage that includes the right to marry a person of the same sex." How can she say in one breath that I have a fundamental right to marry, then turn right around and claim to have the right to pick my marriage partner for me? Hasn't history proved that families and societies do better with married couples that love each other than with those that don't?

I think a lot of the problem people have relating to marriage equality as a civil rights issue stems from the phrases "Gay marriage" and "same-sex marriage," as though these were discrete institutions separate from marriage. When homosexuals take children into their homes, we don't say that they "Gay adopted" or that they are "same-sex foster parents"; they've simply adopted or become foster parents, period. I don't want to "Gay marry" my beloved (and I certainly don't want to "civilly unionize" him); I just want to marry him. Having established each citizen's fundamental right to marry, and charged with upholding a Constitution guaranteeing that rights given to any citizen must be granted to all, the court really blew it with this decision, and those in the plurality should be ashamed of themselves.

David A. Young

Seattle, WA

REVOLUTION IS HARDLY A BLACK-TIE AFFAIR

[Editor's Note: The following letter was sent to the organizers of the Seattle Human Rights Campaign Dinner and was forwarded to the SGN by the author. HRC's response is included below.]

Dear Fellow "Revolutionaries" at HRC,

The publicity for the upcoming NW dinner is very confusing and inadequate. I have seen your ad in the SGN and received an e-mail from Equal Rights Washington about it.

o It is offensive to me that you choose to call the event "Revolution." Not only isn't HRC a revolutionary organization, but the image of dinner-goers in black-tie hardly jibes with an understanding of what that word is about. As Mao put it, "the revolution isn't a tea party" and I don't think it's a formal dinner either. George Washington wasn't in a tux at Valley Forge.

o Your website lists the prominent personages who have spoken at other dinners at other times, but doesn't indicate who the speaker(s) at this dinner will be.

o The website talks about community groups HRC has honored in the past but doesn't indicate the 3 (according to ERW there are 3, and they are one of them) chosen to be highlighted this year.

The HRC performs valuable political work to help better realize the American promises of equality and justice, but through reform, not revolution. More truth in advertising might be appropriate for your event.

Sincerely,

Phil Bereano



Dear Phil,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us. I'd like to clarify the theme for this year's dinner for you.

I would first off like to give you a little history regarding the HRC Dinner. The dinner is a great time for the Seattle community to come together and celebrate the victories of our fight for equal civil rights. Of course there are many different ways to celebrate these victories, this is just one way. The HRC dinner is completely put on by a volunteer committee that works tirelessly to put together an evening of fun and reflection. We use this evening to present people with a message that they will leave with and hopefully act upon.

We discussed the theme of "Revolution" at great lengths. We believe that each and every one of us can act out little revolutions every day... starting with the simple act of coming out. These acts may not be on the scale of massive civil disobedience, but they can have a powerful impact if enough people take this step. At the dinner we are asking our guests to reflect on their lives and how they can take steps to make sure they are part of this revolution, to demand equality. We are using this year's dinner as a call to action to become involved in other organizations and to lend their support. These organizations are Equal Rights Washington, PFLAG, and Gay City/Verbena. We hope to remind people that there is so much they can do to make a difference.

We do not yet have our speakers finalized, and are working tirelessly to do so. We have been very lucky to secure amazing keynote speakers in the past. One of our primary goals is to keep our cost of fundraising low. Since we are asking these speakers to come at either no cost or very reduced fees, it can be challenging to secure a keynote speaker in a timely fashion. We are diligently working to secure an amazing speaker and will send out a press release as soon as we know.

As to your third question, yes, we are honoring 3 local organizations this year. We are asking our dinner guests to offer their support to these wonderful organizations. We are happy that ERW was so excited to announce their presence in the spotlight that they sent out the word immediately; we are still in the process of updating our website.

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you at the dinner this year and we hope that you have a wonderful time. We hope that you feel inspired to go out and take action and realize that each and everyone of us can make a difference, we just need to keep the dialogue going.

Sincerely,

Tom, Nory, and Todd

HRC Dinner Co-Chairs

IRAN: A LGBT PERSPECTIVE FROM WITHIN

[Editor's Note: The following letter from MAHA, an e-magazine for LGBT Iranians, is an open letter to the international LGBT community.]

With regard to the July 19 International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran: We note some differences of opinion in the international Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement about how to best support LGBT people in Iran. We would like to express our view, and we believe that a great number of our readers share our opinion.

Iranian society has developed despite the oppression. The demand for democracy and human rights is growing in our country.

We believe that the human rights of Iranian women, students, workers and LGBT people are not a western phenomenon but aspects of universal human rights and are important for human freedom, dignity and fulfillment in Iran - and everywhere.

Despite all our difficulties and dangers, the Iranian LGBT community is getting more and more informed and is expressing its demand for human rights. We identify as LGBT people and want the same freedoms that LGBT people worldwide want.

Let no one claim there is not homophobic oppression in Iran. Every LGBT Iranian is at potential risk of arrest, imprisonment, flogging and execution. Avoiding such a fate requires leading a double life and hiding one's sexuality. Even though there are secret Gay parties and magazines, we are all at risk. Great discretion is the only thing that keeps many of us from the jails of the authorities - and worse.

Any disagreement over the reason for the execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz in the city of Mashhad last July does not alter the fact that the execution of men and women indulging in same-sex relations is mandatory in the penal code of Iran.

For the record, we believe the two teenagers were hanged because of their homosexuality. The authorities are well-known for pinning false charges on the victims they execute. We urge people to never take at face value the charges claimed by the courts and newspapers. They are not reliable. In late July 2006, for example, a BBC television program in England exposed how the Iranian authorities made false allegations about Atefah Sahaaleh, who was executed in the city of Neka in 2004 for "crimes against chastity". The Iranian courts even lied about her age, claiming she was 22 at the time of her execution. In fact, she was only 16 - a minor, like Mahmoud and Ayaz.

We express our appreciation and admiration for the united efforts worldwide on July 19 in support of Iranian LGBT people, against homophobic oppression and all executions in Iran. These efforts gave us Iranian LGBTs hope and inspiration. It is good for our morale to know that people in other countries care about us and are pressing the Iranian authorities to halt their homophobic persecution.

Some prominent authorities here in Iran publicly condemned same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, following last year's international protests against the Mashhad hangings. This shows that your protests are having an effect. The authorities in Tehran are concerned about the bad publicity they are getting all over the world. Please do not stop. International protests are effective and we urge all groups around the world to work together for the common good of LGBT Iranians.

There is growing activity by Iranian LGBTs, both inside and outside Iran, to enlighten people about sexual diversity and respect for individual sexual orientation. Our E-magazine is part of that process.

The Iranian LGBT community in exile plays an important role in the struggle for LGBT rights in Iran. We believe that unity and cooperation between all LGBT Iranian activists is vital and important and we advocate this unity.

LGBT rights are part of human rights and they will be achieved in Iran by a joint effort from all Iranians for a democratic and modern Iran. International support for the democracy struggle inside Iran, at every level, is laudable and helpful.

We express our strongest opposition to any military intervention or military action against our beloved county Iran. It will not help the democratic struggle here but only strengthen the position of the conservative religious hardliners. War would close down the opportunities for reform. The authorities would use the pretext of "national security" to suppress debate and dissent, including the work of LGBT Iranians.

Within our country, LGBTs need to make alliances with other oppressed sectors of the population who share our commitment to democracy and human rights. It would be a mistake to see LGBT rights as separate from the broader humanitarian struggle in Iran. Isolating our movement would keep it weak and marginal. LGBT rights should be a part of the mainstream Iranian democratic agenda.

We believe that Iranian LGBTs need support at every level, both nationally and internationally - from the UN, EU and national governments, and from human rights, NGO and LGBT organizations worldwide. We value your solidarity.

International pressure on the Iranian authorities regarding human rights and LGBT rights is effective and we welcome it.

Portraying homosexual rights in Iran only as a socio-cultural issue is harmful for our unity and the success of our struggle. It is our view that LGBT rights are about social, cultural, economic, legal and political justice. One cannot fight for LGBT people but ignore discrimination in the law and the fact that the Iranian authorities have made sexual orientation a political issue by denouncing and outlawing same-sex relations, and by punishing LGBTs with imprisonment and violent abuse, including torture and hanging.

We do not agree that the LGBT issue in Iran is purely a cultural matter. LGBT rights are a political issue too. Achieving LGBT rights in Iran demands hard work, both socio-cultural and political - changing laws and institutions, as well as changing people's values and attitudes.

Iranian homosexuals are oppressed by the authorities. But in some other Muslim countries, like Lebanon and Turkey, LGBT people are able to form their own organizations, organize conferences and publish their information. This shows that greater liberalization is possible in a Muslim country.

That is why, we strongly believe that in the current situation, the central obstacles against homosexual rights in Iran are the anti-homosexual laws. That is why the removal of discrimination against LGBT people in the country's penal code is vital. It would pave the way for a significant improvement of LGBT people's lives by changing the law and removing the threat of arrest and other abuses. We also need democratic, reform-minded people to lead the country and to secure changes in the education system and the media to combat homophobic prejudice and to promote understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.

Due to the current homophobic repression in Iran, we are unable to openly express our demand for LGBT human rights. That is why international LGBT pressure on the Iranian authorities, in solidarity with Iranian LGBT people, is most vital and welcome.

We thank you for your support.

MAHA

Iranian LGBT E-magazine

NIP, TUCK AND SUCK

Today many people are choosing to turn back their biological clocks to look younger in a world dominated by youth. Plastic surgery, laser facilities, injections and countless wonder creams create the illusion of looking and being younger. Ah, sweet mystery of youth.

Unfortunately Mother Nature has been side-tracked with the intense efforts to create new people. Formerly, wrinkles were a positive sign of aging, but now they have become imposters.

At this point in my life, looking younger wouldn't mean a damn thing except that I was trying to flirt with Mother Nature in an older man's body. Let me age like a prune -- naturally -- and forget wanting to look like a male Adonis.

Buzz Flowers Callaway
   

International Readers
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