News items affecting gays,
lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals
2011: February & March: Steps toward marriage
equality following DOMA decision in 2011-FEB
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
About "tipping points:"
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," 1 describes how:
"... little changes can have big effects. When small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or 'tipping point' is reached, changing the world."
The Obama administration announced on 2011-FEB-23 that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. They cited an earlier decision in a Massachusetts federal court that found multiple reasons why the federal DOMA legislation is unconstitutional.
Some commentators predicted that this step will generate a tipping point that will lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S.
For example, Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal -- a major pro-equality LGBT group -- wrote:
"When future generations look back on Wednesday, February 23, 2011, there can be little doubt that they will see it as such a tipping point in the quest for equality for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. We still have far to go, but that day is a sure sign that it is only a matter of 'when,' not 'whether,' the promise of equality under the law will be fulfilled, regardless of one’s sexual orientation."
The list below may be the start of a rapid decline in discrimination, hatred, homophobia, and transphobia directed against the LGBT community. Only time will tell.
But we wonder, along with Rep. Barnie Frank (D-MA) who said: "I worry about what will replace it."
Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:
- 2011-FEB-04: 19 days before the Obama Administration decision: This hardly qualifies for an indication of a tipping point having been reached, but it is a memorable occurrence worthy of being included anyway. 143 European Roman Catholic theologians issued a statement on FEB-04 calling for many changes in the church -- most linked to human sexuality. Responding to the clergy sex abuse scandals that surfaced in Europe during 2010, they felt that the had an obligation to open a discussion about future changes of the Catholic Church's policies. The statement said: "We have the responsibility to contribute to a new start." Among their recommendations was that the Church welcome same-sex couples, welcome divorced & remarried couples, make priestly celibacy optional, ordain women to the priesthood, etc. 7
- 2011-FEB-18: 5 days before the Obama Administration decision: This also doesn't really count, but is worth including. Brazilian supermodel Lea T was one of the guests on an Oprah rerun. She is believed to be the world's first MTF transgender supermodel and is the face of Givenchy's most popular ad campaign. She was born Leandro Cerezo, and assigned a male gender at birth. She is the daughter of international soccer star Toninho Cerezo. She said: "I wish I could accept my body like men. It would be much easier for me if I could be a straight guy and have a girlfriend, family and daughters, married, all this normal life. But it’s something in your brain. ... Born in the wrong body. It’s really difficult because you fight with all the world. You fight with your family. You fight with yourself too. You have to change everything in yourself." Her mother who is a devout Roman Catholic had difficulty accepting Lea's transsexuality because of an internal "fight" with her religion. Her father was initially much more accepting and has remained so. 6
- 2011-FEB-24: The day after the Obama Administration decision, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California issued an order. The case involved a same-sex couple in California who were married in 2008. It concerns the granting of health benefits to the gay spouse of a federal worker. Judge White asked lawyers defending the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:
"How does the Executive [Branch] reconcile the position that it intends to enforce a statute that it has affirmatively declared to be unconstitutional and deemed inappropriate to defend?" 2
- 2011-FEB-25: The next day, Dr Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on the Focus on the Family radio program. He is perhaps the most widely respected theologian among Southern Baptists, other fundamentalists, and other evangelical Christians. He said:
"I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalized, legalized and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that." 3
- 2011-MAR-13: The Washington Post/ABC News joint poll finished collecting data on its latest assessment of support and opposition to same-sex marriage (SSM). 4 In a dramatic reversal over the past decade, they found 53% of American adults now support SSM while 44% remain opposed:
Further, the poll showed equal levels of passion: 35% of those polled were found to be strongly against and 36% strongly in favor of SSM. This development may have major political ramifications. In the past, there were significantly more adults who were strongly opposed to SSM than were strongly in support. This led many politicians to fear granting equal marital and other rights to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBTs). They were concerned that any step towards equal treatment would trigger a backlash by social and religious conservatives. Now, they will probably anticipate equal backlashes no matter what action they take towards equality.
Finally, there was a surge in the percentage of men who support SSM; in the past, there was much higher levels of support among women. More details.
- 2011-MAR-16: Federal DOMA law: Democrats in Congress introduced bills in the House and Senate to repeal the federal DOMA law. This can only be regarded as a purely symbolic gesture because there is zero chance that the bill will be passed in the Republican controlled House.
- 2011-MAR-22: Cyberworld:
Exodus International, a fundamentalist Christian group dedicated to promoting "change" among LGBT persons prepared an Ipad "app" to promote its activities. A LGBT-positive group, Truth Wins Out (TWO) complained that:
"Exodus’ message is hateful and bigoted. They claim to offer 'freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ' and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients."
A petition to remove the app from the Itunes store was signed by over 154,000 individuals. Apple removed the app on 2011-MAR-22. Their spokesperson Tom Neumayr said: "We removed the Exodus International app from the app store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people." More details.
- 2011-MAR-31: USA: Institute of Medicine (IOM) issues report: The IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. It mission is to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health. The have issued a report: "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding." They note that:
"While LGBT populations often are combined as a single entity for research and advocacy purposes, each is a distinct population group with its own specific health needs. Furthermore, the experiences of LGBT individuals are not uniform and are shaped by factors of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and age, any of which can have an effect on health-related concerns and needs. Researchers still have a great deal to learn and face a number of challenges in understanding the health needs of LGBT populations."
"To help assess the state of the science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked the IOM to evaluate current knowledge of the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations; to identify research gaps and opportunities; and to outline a research agenda to help NIH focus its research in this area. The IOM finds that to advance understanding of the health needs of all LGBT individuals, researchers need more data about the demographics of these populations, improved methods for collecting and analyzing data, and an increased participation of sexual and gender minorities in research. Building a more solid evidence base for LGBT health concerns will not only benefit LGBT individuals, but also add to the repository of health information we have that pertains to all people." 5
See also events for 2011-APR
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Malcolm Gladwell, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," Back Bay Books, (2002). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
- Goeffrey Fowler & Evan Perez, "Shift on Gay-Marriage Law Will Affect Array of Policies," Wall Street Journal, 2011-FEB-25, at: http://online.wsj.com
- Nathan Black, "Christians Need to Prepare for Normalization of Gay Marriage," Christian Post, 2011-FEB-26, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
- Sandhya Somashekhar and Peyton Craighill, "Slim majority back gay marriage, Post-ABC poll says," Washington Post, 2011-MAR-18, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People..." Institute of Medicine, 2010-MAR-31, at: http://www.iom.edu/
- Jorge Rivas, "Oprah Talks to First Trans Supermodel Lea T," Includes video. Colorlines, 2011-FEB-18, at: " http://colorlines.com/
- "European Catholic theologians call for end to celibacy, other changes," Catholic News Service," 2011-FEB-07, at: http://www.uscatholic.org/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-NOV-21
Author: B.A. Robinson