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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: West Virginia
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 19,964

About Me

Cantankerous by nature, aspires to a genteel misanthropy. Interests include carpentry, organic gardening and sustainable living, history, genealogy, astronomy and paleontology, visual arts, lgbt activism. Caretaker for a brace of Scotties and several ungrateful, rescued cats. Addicted to watching sports and cheers for perennial losers. Education: I suppose, though some might think an MFA doesn\'t really qualify as such. Partnered for 24 years to a saint. Just lucky, I guess.

Journal Archives

A Must Read -- OPINION: Use love to cast out fear

The Cincinnati Enquirer
Feb 27, 2014

OPINION: Use love to cast out fear


My life changed in the 1960s when students invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to sit-in at Atlanta lunch counters. I was among those arrested with Dr. King, spending three days in a jail cell next to him. Our efforts led to the eventual integration of downtown Atlanta, all because we were willing to do the right thing. Dr. King taught us that discriminatory and unjust laws were no laws at all, and that we had a moral responsibility to act as if those laws no longer existed. I experienced a greater law of love that was more powerful than any law made in fear.

Now some 50 years later, my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer brothers and sisters are faced with laws cast from the same fear that fed the Jim Crow South.

I am a bishop in the United Methodist Church, given the charge to uphold our laws – some of which discriminate against gay and lesbian persons, calling them “incompatible with Christian teaching.” However, I am also required as bishop to call the church to do the right thing.

That is why in 2012 I called on my colleagues to ignore the discriminatory laws of my church and to officiate same-sex weddings. That is why last October I traveled down to Birmingham, Ala., to preside over the wedding of Joe and Bobby. That is also why I am coming to Cincinnati to share my story. I am coming to share my vision of the ways we can be obedient to the greater law of love that Jesus lived...
Posted by theHandpuppet | Fri Feb 28, 2014, 01:07 PM (3 replies)

Anyone interested in an Appalachian Group?

If anyone here is interested in an Appalachian group please post. The group would focus on issues such as economics/poverty, mining & the environment, labor, democratic activism. And of course, subjects such as Appalachian music, writing, history, etc.
Posted by theHandpuppet | Fri Feb 28, 2014, 09:14 AM (30 replies)

Misogyny and Homophobia: what a heavenly match

You just know anywhere they're hating on gays they're hating on women, too.

BBC News
26 February 2014
Uganda miniskirt ban: Police stop protest march

Police in Uganda have prevented women from marching through the streets of the capital, Kampala, in protest at new laws banning the wearing of miniskirts...

...There have been several incidents over the past week of women in short skirts being publicly harassed and assaulted.

This follows the signing by the president of the anti-pornography bill, which bans "indecent" dressing.

Proposing the legislation last year, Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo said that women who wore "anything above the knee" should be arrested.... MORE

Ah yes, good ol' Minister "Kill the Gays" Lokodo, who also stated that men raping little girls was "natural".

Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 02:06 AM (32 replies)

It is dangerous to attribute blame solely on "evangelical rednecks"

Note: I had originally composed this post for the LGBT forum but when a poster on DU wondered what Pope Francis might say in response to all the anti-GLBT legislation, I amended it somewhat. This is a copy of the post I made to a thread on General Discussion.

It is heartening to see the support at DU in the battle against discriminatory laws being proposed in state legislatures across the country. It's almost as disheartening to read too many posts in which these bills are assumed to be the legislative flailings of a simple and single-minded bunch of "redneck" evangelicals. The peril is to underestimate the forces at work here, unlikely alliances that have been forged over decades specifically to derail any progress for the rights of women and LGBTs.

This war was declared with Roe vs Wade and when the battle was lost at the federal level, the strategy turned to one of chipping away at Roe by focusing on state legislatures. Towards that goal, political lobbying by fundamentalist evangelicals and the Catholic church found success, especially by pressing for laws that forced the closing of many clinics that provided need contraception and abortion services. (It didn't matter that many of these clinics provided needed health services for both women and men who could not otherwise afford care.) The strategy was so effective the battle front was then expanded to fight gay marriage and in that cause the Mormon church became part of the alliance. Millions were spent either fighting gay marriage initiatives on the ballot or for initiating legislation by the states that would outright ban gay marriage or civil unions. This met with mixed success, though gay marriage is recognized in but a minority of states.

Emboldened by their victories at the state level and as a backlash against new federal laws banning discrimination against LGBTs, the battle expanded and morphed again under the banner of "religious liberty" -- in effect, an effort to legalize broad discrimination against LGBTs, state by state. It would probably surprise many people to learn that the Catholic church has been actively lobbying for these discriminatory bills; in Arizona and Kansas, for example, the Arizona Catholic Conference and Kansas Catholic Conference were backers of both bills. What surprises me is that anyone should be surprised at all. At every turn the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been fighting against the rights of women and LGBTS, filing scores of lawsuits against the HHS contraception mandate, ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), shutting down adoption services rather than accept gay parents, withdrawing support and money from immigration groups in places like Illinois and Colorado because they would not divorce any pro-LGBT connections, even though organizations such as Colorado's Companeros were assisting poor immigrants with their basic needs. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, no group was immune from being cut off if they refused to denounce pro-LGBT affiliations.

As President Obama speaks out more forcefully for LGBT rights, the coordinated bombardment of pro-discrimination and anti-choice bills in state legislatures has escalated to a fever pitch. These are the last ditch counterattacks mounted by this alliance of religious conservatives in the face of at what appears to be, at least in this country, an inevitable defeat in the war against social evolution. Their efforts are still well-funded, well organized and determined, though sensing perhaps that the battle is lost here, the alliance has turned its attention to developing nations in Africa, Asia and South America, considered to be more fertile ground for their own brand of misogyny and homophobia.

In some African countries these efforts have been rewarded, to alarming results. But again, it took an alliance of religious conservatives to achieve that success, with the hatemongering evangelical Pastor Scott Lively (currently facing charges of war crimes) carrying the banner for the movement. Yet we cannot overlook the role played by representatives of other faiths, particularly the Anglican and Catholic churches. Catholic Bishops and Archbishops in Uganda, Nigeria and Cameroon have all backed their country's anti-gay bills. The Ugandan Bishops took a rather seesaw path to their current stance, first backing the "kill the gays" bill then withdrawing it, then backing the bill again once the death penalty clause was removed from the bill to be replaced by life imprisonment. Now that the bill has actually been signed, they have stated they will reserve judgment on the new law. Ironically, Ugandan Archbishop Lwanga, who had previously expressed support for the bill, is the same man who suspended Catholic cleric Anthony Musaala for speaking out on the Ugandan church's sexual abuse of children.

There are those who might be wondering that while LGBTs are battling for basic human rights and in some cases, for their very lives, where is the voice of justice to be heard from Rome? Why, Pope Francis wouldn't dare tolerate this nonsense, this injustice! The silence must be disappointing and perhaps confusing. Considering all his forceful statements decrying the corrupting influence of unbridled capitalism, his touching concern for the poor and strong support for workers, his admonishments over environmental destruction, where is that voice as LGBTs are being arrested, beaten, tortured and murdered from Russia to Nigeria, even here? Why haven't we heard the same impassioned condemnation from Francis that we have heard from the likes of a Bishop Desmond Tutu? Because, in reality, by denouncing the war against LGBTs and women's rights he would be condemning his own bishops and the battles they are currently waging against LGBTs both here and abroad. He is, after all, a son of the Church, as he himself has said with regard to these issues.

The fact is, Francis is not and has never been a supporter of equality for LGBTs. Before being elected Pope, he practically built his career on condemning gays in the most vile terms. Likewise, he has never been nor will he be a champion for the equal rights of women and reproductive choice. If you're expecting anything different, you will be sorely disappointed.

To repeat those words of warning, it is dangerous to underestimate the current crusade for discriminatory legislation as simply the last gasp of a bunch of "evangelical rednecks". The forces behind the legislation, the lawsuits and lobbying are much more powerful than you know. The fundamentalist evangelicals may be the loud, drunk, obnoxious cousins invited to the family reunion but there are others mingling at the picnic of bigotry. Maybe some folks just never noticed they were there.
Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 12:38 AM (0 replies)

Getting back to your point about Nigerian oil & gas

There is no question that Nigeria's rich oil & gas reserves play a huge role in how western powers have interfered in the country's politics for decades and how they will continue to do so. Just one recent case in point: Look how our government publicly responded to recent anti-gay laws passed in Uganda. Well, Nigeria has instituted virtually the same policies but Uganda is oil-poor, mostly shale oil that's not economically productive. Plus, there are long-range plans for drilling off the Nigerian coast. The fact that oil money is involved here makes me question every part of our relations with this country. Sure, we can bluster and threaten resource-poor countries but when it come to our own interests the government sure takes a different tune.

Nigeria is a mess and plenty of western governments have contributed to the sorry state of affairs. How we should respond to the various crises in the country -- or whether we should at all -- is a subject for debate. I certainly don't know enough about the politics there to venture an educated opinion.

I did do a bit of research on Nigerian oil: http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=ni
Posted by theHandpuppet | Tue Feb 25, 2014, 11:45 AM (1 replies)

Sadly, one of the reasons nothing will happen, Cali...

... is because larger, richer, more populous states need Appalachian gas, Appalachian coal and a convenient dumping ground for their waste. And since it's only a bunch of us hillbillies who will have to deal with it, out of sight and out of mind, TPTB figure no one will care -- just as long as its not in their backyard.

The way you sustain this system is by not investing federal money in Appalachia and the incentives to provide the kind of jobs that would steer their economy away from such a dependence on fossil fuels. Don't give their kids a decent education; recruit them as fodder for your next war because for too many of their young poor, putting on a uniform is the only way to draw a paycheck, even if it costs them their lives. Poverty breeds desperation at home and from the outside, derision, because you can always make someone feel better by playing the role of their trash.

It's not like the people of West Virginia haven't put Democrats into office, because they have. Almost to a person (with one Republican exception) they have elected Democrats to all of the statewide offices. Governor, both Senators, Lt. Governor, Sec'y of State, etc., not to mention a Democratic majority in the House of Delegates and a supermajority in the State Senate. Where has it gotten them? Obama didn't even campaign in Appalachia during the primaries and since he's been in office, how many visits? I can only speak for myself right now but I am deeply resentful that for Appalachia, there's not been much "change" at all. We're the invisible people... unless, of course, when something like the recent spill happens and provides everyone an opportunity to point out how those dumb hillbillies got what they deserve. It's business as usual -- big business, and everyone profits except the people. But when I did my homework and found out how much campaign money Obama himself had accepted from the mining industry, I resigned myself to the fact that it's all bought and paid for, lock, stock & barrel.

I wish I knew where the answers could be found. I feel like someone groping around in the dark for the light switch.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Wed Feb 19, 2014, 12:53 PM (1 replies)

Laws against reproductive choice maim and kill millions of women around the world

Let's get this straight, shall we? There is no religious mandate, no law, no effort to shame that will eliminate the need for reproductive choice, which includes contraception and abortion. The lack of legal support, health care services and contraception will, however, maim and kill millions of women around the globe. Repressive laws hurt poor women most of all. Denying them their basic autonomy and reproductive choice will certainly do nothing towards lifting these women out of poverty.
Want a need for fewer abortions? Okay, support sex education and free contraception for all. But you cannot foolishly imagine that the need for abortion will disappear because the medical procedure is outlawed or sex education is not taught, or if women's health clinics are closed and laws passed that force them to give birth.
Women are worth more than their value as incubators. Want to stop the maiming and death of millions of women and girls? Want to help prevent unintended pregnancies?

Amnesty International
Women’s silent killer – rights missing from sexual and reproductive health policies worldwide http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/women-s-silent-killer-sexual-health-policies-found-lacking-worldwide-2013-02-13

World Health Organization
Note: the link below is to a pdf
Unsafe abortion: the preventable pandemic

Please don't make me come to DU, of all places, to defend a woman's right to choose, nor tell me why I should not condemn any leader, religious or political, who seeks to oppress women by denying them not only equality as human beings but autonomy over their own bodies. Millions of lives are at stake. Women's lives.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Jan 23, 2014, 05:21 PM (16 replies)

Homelessness among LGBT Youth: A National Concern

This article is a couple of months old now but I wanted to bring this subject up again because it's one I've never seen discussed or explored in the mainstream media. If nothing else we can keep the spotlight on it here.
My partner is a big supporter of The Point Foundation, which provides scholarships to LGBTQ youth. I hope you will keep them in mind for your charitable giving. And please, if you know of a charity that assists homeless LGBTQ youth, let us know how we can help.

Homelessness among LGBT Youth: A National Concern
Author: Child Trends | November 18, 2013

For many of us, in November our minds turn toward plans for Thanksgiving, a holiday likely spent at home, surrounded by family. This scenario is far from the reality for many homeless youth in the United States. November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, reminding us that even as we think about what we are grateful for in our lives, we should consider all the work that needs to be done to improve the welfare of this vulnerable group.

Approximately 1.6 million youths in the U.S. experience homelessness for at least one night each year. Additionally, 550,000 unaccompanied youth under the age of 24 are homeless for a week or longer; about 380,000 of these youth are younger than 18. These numbers demonstrate a great need for responses to short- and long-term homelessness among youth.

One group that is particularly at risk for homelessness is lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. LGBT youth are often homeless because they were rejected by their families, schools, and communities for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In a national survey of homeless centers and agencies that serve youth, it was reported that LGBT youth comprise 40 percent of the clientele served. In fact, one in five transgender people in their 30s report having been homeless at some point in their lives. These numbers show that homelessness among youth who are LGBT is much more than a niche problem; understanding and reducing homelessness among these youth is a crucial part of understanding and reducing homelessness, period.

Besides being at greater risk for homelessness, LGBT youth are more likely to become homeless at younger ages. LGBT youth are also more likely to be sexually assaulted on the streets and in shelters. In fact, in one study, 58 percent of lesbian, gay, or bisexual homeless youth reported having been sexually victimized, compared with 33 percent of heterosexual homeless youth. Gay and lesbian youth who experience homelessness are also more likely to be infected with HIV than heterosexual homeless youth.1

Homeless LGBT youth may be less accepted in shelters, programs, and foster homes. Among homeless transgender adults, 55 percent have reported being harassed by shelter staff; 29 percent have reported being turned away by shelters because of their gender identity; and 22 percent have reported being sexually assaulted by residents or staff. Although these statistics do not directly address what happens to transgender youth at homeless shelters, they paint a grim picture of what these and other LGBT youth might face...

- See more at: http://www.childtrends.org/homelessness-among-lgbt-youth-a-national-concern/#sthash.14uB7YRv.dpuf
Posted by theHandpuppet | Fri Jan 17, 2014, 10:15 PM (5 replies)

Wasn't aimed at you, directly, but the DU audience

Over the years I've seen a lot of negative comments made here about WV and Appalachians, most borne out of ignorance. So I have a tendency to get my back up rather quickly, expecting to read a bunch of bigoted insults in any thread regarding WV.

WV isn't Vermont, folks. You go up against the coal industry and you're not going to get elected, period. Fear is a powerful motivator and in a state where coal provides the ONLY industry in many counties, you either mine or you don't eat. Now I may hate too many things associated with the mining industry and the devastation it causes to the environment but I also understand the fear of not being able to put food on the table... and that isn't going to go away until families in Appalachia are provided with decent jobs that are an alternative to mining. Just electing anyone with a (D) beside their name isn't going to change that. We have some important elections coming up in both WV and Kentucky, and the issues surrounding the regulation of the coal industry are a make or break for Democrats. Case in point:

Believe me, it's no fun having to call your family and tell them to stock up on water. I have family living about 70 miles downstream from the site of this spill and I'm worried as hell. You can bet if this catastrophe happened anywhere but in Appalachia there would be scores of threads about it already.

Anyway, I've had my two cents' worth. Didn't mean to hijack your thread or anything so I'll bow out now.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Sat Jan 11, 2014, 01:37 PM (2 replies)

I had read of this and am glad you chose to bring up the subject

The cuts in funding and/or support for groups inclusive of gay rights (or at least, organizations not refusing to denounce GLBT rights) has been going on for some time and not just in Illinois. The scope is much broader and would include organizations that promote choice and contraception. The rejection of women's rights and gay rights goes hand-in-hand, as I had pointed out in a recent thread (which got locked, BTW) and by extension, issues concerning the root causes of poverty come into play.
As someone here also pointed out, one cannot address issues of immigration reform presuming that all immigrants are straight. GLBT immigrants face additional hurdles regarding their legal status; in light of the EU now granting political asylum to gays escaping persecution, it is very much an issue that needs to be addressed here in this country.
So whether its the YMCA, the Boy Scouts of America, the Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights, et al, we who support GLBT rights, reproductive choice and immigration reform must not only speak up but help to fill the financial void left when their funding or support is severed by conservative Christian organizations.
Lastly, discussions about this ongoing battle should never be censured here on DU, unless support for reproductive choice, GLBT rights and immigration reform have suddenly become out of vogue on a progressive forum.

A few more links for you:

Posted by theHandpuppet | Tue Nov 12, 2013, 01:17 PM (0 replies)
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