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  • azerica commented on the blog post The Proposed Arizona “Papers Please” Law For Trans Women

    2013-03-21 19:55:00View | Delete

    The net effect would be that all transgender, as well as gender expression nonconforming people, would have to carry their birth certificates with them to prove they were using the restroom associated with the gender marker on their birth certificates.

    The implication may be that if one wants to avoid the hassle of arrest, arraignment, and trial, one could nip the problem in the bud if they carry and present a birth certificate when accusations are made, assuming such documentation operates in their favor. However, for the documentation-inconstent transperson, carrying a birth certificate is not specifically mandated by the law, and is the last thing they will want to do. In the event they are arrested in a restroom, they should immediately exercise their right to remain silent (per the Miranda Decision, Arizona’s contribution to civil rights) and refuse to say both their sex on their birth certificate and the state in which they are born. When at trial and a judge asks to see a copy of their birth certificate, the accused should point out that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to show that they were not acting consistently with it, and as such it is the proscecution that needs to deliver a copy of it. If the prosecution is dedicated enough, they may be able to search through records to figure out where you were born, and may be able to file a court ordered request for information with your birth state to get a copy of it, but at some point the hassle becomes too much of an annoyance for overworked prosecutors and the case will probably be dropped.

    This is not to excuse this heinous law in any way. I am a lifelong resident of the state of AZ, and I am fighting this law with every fiber of my being, but if it passes, I don’t see how I can continue living in my home state. This is nothing less than an existential threat to the AZ transgender community. If it passes, we will all end up either in jail or scattered to the four winds. The tragedy of it is too much for me to bear.

  • “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

    I think there are two potential reasons why this statistic can’t be trusted. The first is the nature of the way Gallup does polling. They call people on the phone. There has of course been a major demographic shift away from using land lines to using cell phones as the choice of primary-use phones. Gallup claims that they include cell phones in their polling, which they probably do. The problem is that cell phone users respond to marketting calls differently. People used to answer the phone when it rang. Today, people check to see who it is from and if they don’t recognize the caller, they don’t answer. With land lines, children often used to answer the phone and got an adult. Today, parents answer their own phones. Because of this, Gallup polling is being skewed toward ever narrower demographics. People who still use land lines primarily, most often members of an older generation, are more heavily represented than they used to be. The other over-represented demographic is people who by their nature are more inclined to take time to help out a pollster. That kind of spirit is more common among church goers. Cell phones have a natural tendency to favor older and more Christian demographics in the results.

    The other explanation is screwing with the data. Gallup is lead by an evangelical Christian. Now, he probably has to be careful to maintain an image of credibility, but the fact that they chose to make this question a subject of polling is itself evidence of their religious focus. They can easily choose to call people in the Bible belt. They can put heavier emphasis on land line use. They can call people in rural areas over urban areas. They can organize their collection of polling data so as to produce their desired outcome.

    There is plenty of reason to distrust these results.

  • azerica commented on the blog post Open Letter to Mitt Romney on the Rights of Sexual Minorities

    2012-05-30 15:31:14View | Delete

    I would first like to say that you are a very good writer, and your intellect and experience come through clearly in your writing. As you have identified yourself as a holocaust scholar, I’m sure you are also aware that a great many members of the American Jewish community, most notably those associated with the Anti-Defamation League, feel that it is inappropriate and disrespectful of the unimaginable loss and suffering of their ancestors for any comparisons to be drawn to the Holocaust. While I am not Jewish myself, I have always found great support from members of the ADL in my region, and as such I try to respect their wishes and only seek to convey them when it seems appropriate. To be honest, I don’t completely agree with their position, but I do respect it.

    It is indeed true that many parallels between the actions of NOM and the actions of the Nazis can easily be drawn, and I might go a step further and say that the psychology of NOM is virtually identical to the psychology of the Nazis. The problem is that when one starts discussing the Holocaust, one tends to start appearing hyperbolic. As you can already see here, Holocaust references, which were not the point of the letter, have become a huge distraction from your message. Everything you said about NOM is accurate. The assessments of the abuses and hate-driven distorted thinking of NOM can easily stand on their own and only require verifiably references to shock anyone into seeing their true nature. You made four uses of the term “Holocaust”, the first of which to identify yourself as a scholar of such. None of these references were really necessary to expose NOM for what they are. The actions of the Nazis were so wildly extreme, but also so distantly separated by time and space, that associating NOM to them only damages your own credibility. It makes you look unreasonable. If you want to expose the complete unreasonableness of NOM, you should come at it from a position of complete reason. You are in the right. Exploit it. You need to be the calm, rational voice standing in opposition to their insanity.

    A very good letter, but it would be made stronger and more credible if you were to delete the text from starting at “The disgrace of Japanese-American internment” through the sentence ending with, “electrified perimeter fences.”

  • azerica commented on the blog post A few thoughts from a drained accidental activist

    2012-05-17 16:32:16View | Delete

    I recently attended an interesting lecture on the subject of xenophobia. Several presenters talked about xenophobia from a broad perspective, all the way from protozoa, through our primitive ancestors, to modern societies. Several observations presented resonated with me. I was struck by the self-perpetuating nature of xenophobia toward LGBT people.

    The three primary driving factors of xenophobia are fear, anger, and disgust. I think for LGBT people, the underlying prejudice against us stems mostly from disgust (born of ignorance and a negative reaction to seeing relationships they wouldn’t consider entering) and some fear, but the leaders of the movement against us fabricate lies about us in order to intensify false fear and foster xenophobia in others that might not exist otherwise. These would include painting gay men as pedophiles, claiming same-sex marriages are a threat to “traditional” marriages, and claiming that women are threatened by transwomen in restrooms, etc.

    Xenophobia is greatest when one side’s good is seen as being at the expense of the other side’s. Here again, leaders in opposition to us want to claim without any justification that a same-sex marraige down the street will threaten the marriage of a heterosexual couple. Such claims are specifically designe to generate and spread homophobia.

    Xenophobia is worse in more diverse societies. More diverse societies are more resistant to sharing resources. This is a surprising observation because it seems counter intitive, but it seems that familiarity breeds contempt. America, being an extremely diverse society, is at greater risk of broad, deep, and organized xenophobia than more homogenious nations. In fact, you could look at it as xenophobia of some kind being an inavoidable consequense of having such a diverse nation, and some group will always be victimized by it.

    Bad faith (theology), stupid or crazy are how we perceive people who disagree with us. This is true on both sides. We see those who oppose us this way, and they see us this way as well.

    Increasing value of relationship hastens reconciliation after conflict. This is a hopeful observation that should be more exploited. One problem we have with those who oppose us is that they see no value in their relationship with us. They see themselves as losing nothing in suppressing us, while preserving their interests in doing so. This is where we gain from being more out and reaching out from beyond our gayborhoods to play a stronger, more beneficial, and more conspicuous role in the greater society. The more straight society sees and feels value with LGBT people and community, the less they will feel and/or act on xenophobic reactions toward us.

  • azerica commented on the blog post Breaking: 9th Circuit States Prop 8 Unconstitutional

    2012-02-07 19:41:19View | Delete

    I am here in Arizona (a state in the 9th District) disappointed, because I had hoped for so much more. Even though on the same day that California passed Prop 8, Arizona passed the virtually identical Prop 102, the decision today does nothing to impact the AZ ban on same-sex marriage. When you get right down to it, the court didn’t really rule the text of the Prop 8 law unconstitutional, but rather found an effect of the law unconstitutional. The court decided to use the lowest possible standard they could apply to overturn the law and ruled it unconstitutional to take away rights that already existed, while refusing to address the question of marriage equality being a constitutionally protected right in of itself. Since AZ has never had legal marriage, the decision has no bearing on my state.

    My general opinion of this decision is that it is a tightrope walk between rendering the decision they constitutionally knew they must and utter cowardice. They didn’t have the guts to take on the central question everyone wants answered (and judging from the responses from many groups listed above, most people seem to think they did), whether or not marriage equality is a constitutionally protected right. By finding the lowest possible standard which never requires a serious consideration of the central issue in the public mind, they both give a false sense of victory to equality proponents, but makes the decision so narrowly applicable as to piss of them least number of equality foes. This was not the knock it out of the park, home run victory I’ve spent months hoping for and feeling justified in receiving. This was a compromise that shut out those outside The Golden State who felt every bit as invested in it.

    Being narrowly decided to being only applicable to the situation in CA, I would assume this gives the SCOTUS tremendous liberty to ignore the case. After all, it’s now a one-state decision, making it unworthy of the time and attention of the highest federal court. In the absence of other states where equal marriage rights were granted and then taken away, especially outside the 9th District, why waste the court’s time on it? Now, the Prop 8 case’s great hope of being the path to full federal equality in marriage is seriously in doubt. I’m happy for California, but feel like this decision has completely taken the wind out of our sails in the rest of the country. We may be left to go it alone.

    This panel of judges may have a shot at redemption. I’ve heard credible rumors that they may have worded the decision specifically to appeal to Justice Kennedy, who would reasonably be expected to be the swing vote if it makes it to the court. He is known to decided against attempts to take rights away. If these judges knew that it was inevitable that it would be taken up by SCOTUS, perhaps they knew that this narrow decision gave it the best hope of survival in that court. However, even if that is the case, what decision would they render? Would they simply uphold this decision as it stands (leaving out the rest of the nation), or would they go further and finally answer the central question of the constitutionality of universal marriage rights? If they had to go this route to get it past Kennedy, then one could assume that this is all that’s going to get past Kennedy. In other words, any way you look at it, the rest of us in Republican dominated, non-equality states are going to be left out in the cold.

    Congratulations California. Be sure and post some wedding pictures.

  • azerica commented on the blog post Wednesday This & That: Open Thread

    2011-09-21 17:08:35View | Delete

    It’s not entirely over for gay people either. I have a friend who was discharged under DADT, and now he wants to re-enlist. The problem is that since leaving the military, he has on occasion been performing drag. If the military finds out he’s done that, it will be labeled as a history of fetishism, which specifically disqualifies you from military service. Drag performance is a common part of gay culture that still has the potential of making people disqualified for military service. For my friend, he’s going to have to keep that part of his life back in that old closet he thought he could step out of forever and hope they never find out.