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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Craig Westover: Conservative Gay Marriage 101

Craig Westover continues to write some thoughtful posts arguing that gays should be included in the institution of marriage. His latest is here.

Money quote:

In final analysis, Kersten's argument is really an inverse liberal argument -- we have the power, our values rule. Even accepting the worst case viewpoint that homosexuals are evil people and gay marriage is an abomination in the eyes of God, the true conservative political argument, if one is not going to exterminate gays and/or take their children, is that it is more beneficial to extend the protections and stability of marriage to gays -- not all at once but in increments -- than it is to marginalize gay families and their children and consequently promote the pathologies that marriage is praised for preventing.

Gays -- conservative gays -- do not want to redefine marriage. The want to participate in it. And even if they didn't, conservatives ought to be encouraging them to do so with the same vigor and for the same reasons we encourage our own children "to settle down and raise a family."


He's called out Chuck Darrell from the Minnesota Family Council.

Craig,
Well written column. Although I don't agree with much of it, you have a keen understanding for how liberal relativists reach concensus: by over-powering their opponents with feelings of passion. (Read Culture War by JD Hunter)

As Communications Director for Minnesota for Marriage I've had the good furtune to reflect upon the opinions of each camp. Three things stand out over all others: the insight from the African American community is invaluable; we are all human - there shall be no demonizing from either side; and, religion is at the heart of the issue.

The latter is the 900 lb Gorilla that is denied, revised or thumped. It's time that people of faith stopped apologizing and become apologists, and for secularists to cease with the revisionist censorship and engage the debate without the sterotypical name calling that stokes the flames of polarization.

It's dysfuntional to attempt a dialogue regarding same-sex marriage and ignore matters of faith. It's also historically ignorant to argue that faith has no part in the discussion.

Ironically, I have learned more about love and grace - both fruits of the spirit - by standing firm for traditional marriage. This wouldn't have occured in a religion free vacum.

I have a couple of editorials that address these core issues and more. Diversity of mother and father: A Child's Civil Right, can be found here, and, Church-state relationship is soul of democracy, at http://www,mfc.org/ Cursor down the page to locate the article.

Sincerley,

Chuck Darrell
Chuck Darrell | 06.04.05 - 1:58 pm | #

Gravatar Chuck --

I read your piece on a Child's Civil Right. I agree. The "best" way to raise a child is in a loving two-parents-of-opposite-gender home. But my question is, what are the implications you are proposing for public policy based on that conclusion?

Should we forcibly remove all children -- natural or adopted -- from same-sex couples currently raising them? If not, what is the social benefit of denying these children the protection and benefits of living in a home where the parents are married?

Isn't a child "better" off with same-sex parents that are married than with same-sex parents that are not married? If not, then we are back at step one. Why not advocate, for the sake of the children and society, removing them from the custody of same-sex couples, if indeed the very nature of same-sex relationships is harmful to children?

Neither the relative "goodness" of same- and opposite-sex families nor the dysfunctional condition of some same- and opposite-sex families is a valid argument for or against extending marriage to gay couples. If you don't advocate the logically consistent view that children should be removed from gay families, then the burden of proof falls to you to show how denying those children the protection and benefits of married parents is better than extending to them the same protections and benefits provided to children in opposite-sex relationships.
Craig Westover


It's a good honest discussion, and I very much appreciate Craig hosting this.

Blogger Berg Reconsiders: Won't Go After the Jobs of Those Who Insult Him

Update on this.

Mitch:

The lesson? You can insult me, just make it topical. If you leave anonymous insults, I might delete them, or edit them for my amusement, and post your IP, and if I can, try to cause you trouble at work.

Later Mitch:

No, I'd never go after anyone's job (unless they got threatening).

Still more Mitch:
Eva,

I'm sorry, but your comment is creaking with poor reading comprehension. I never said DB threatened me. He's an idiot. I had a laugh at his expense. I know what a threat is.

There's been no change in tune - merely your wandering sense of context and comprehension.

Posted by Eva Young at June 4, 2005 10:03 AM


Mitch acknowledges reversing himself:

Meaning?

Yes, I changed my mind on further consideration.

It's called "thinking".

Try it.


Developed.....

Using Manic Depression as a Rhetorical Weapon

Mitch on Swiftee's comment on his blog:

Eva,

I had not seen Tom's comment, and I deleted it.

However...

You are hardly "in the closet". Back in the MNPOL days, when bipolar disorder seemed to be the only topic half the time (you know who I'm talking about), you made absolutely no secret of it. I won't say "wrapped yourself in it", but you leaned that way.

I don't think Swiftee was right to make fun of you for it. Your blogs are plenty of material.

mitch


That was my point. Deal with the substance of what I write, rather than trying to make personal attacks. Swiftee's comment said more about him than about me.

I made no secret of it on MN Politics because there was someone posting there saying some things suggesting that people with manic depression should not be responsible for their own actions. I've always disagreed with that, and said so.

Swiftee isn't the only person who has used this tactic to try to discredit what I say. A person on the Catholics for Bush yahoogroup said something similar. I called her on it also.

Craig Westover had deleted a similar comment from Swiftee from his blog. I never saw the comment, but apparently it also alluded to the bipolar disorder.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Whiner Berg to Those Who Would Insult Him on his Blog: Beware - I'll go after your job

Whiner Berg commented:

The lesson? You can insult me, just make it topical. If you leave anonymous insults, I might delete them, or edit them for my amusement, and post your IP, and if I can, try to cause you trouble at work.


Still developing. . .

Interview with Paul Koering on Coming Out

Steve Perry does the honors here.

City Pages: You came out a few days after voting against an anti-gay marriage ballot referendum. Was that entirely the reason for your announcement, or did other factors play in the decision?



Sen. Paul Koering: There were a lot of factors. That vote was certainly part of it. But I guess in my mind, I knew I was going to have to do something sooner or later. I just didn't know when it was going to happen. But I never, ever tried to keep anything a secret from anybody. Everybody knew at the Capitol.

Things got ratcheted up so much that I felt--what really made the final decision for me was when it started to affect my job to be so preoccupied with this. Then I made a decision that it was time to come out and say, here it is, and let's get back to work. And that's virtually what I did. I just wanted to end all the speculation.

My vote on that [amendment] was a procedural vote. People don't understand that I wasn't voting for or against the gay marriage amendment. I was voting "no" on departing from the way we normally do business in the Senate. Normally you introduce a bill, it goes to committee, and it works through a process. People have input, and it's changed by the time it gets to the Senate floor, probably for the good. To make a motion to pull this out of committee and drag it right to the Senate floor, I just thought it was the wrong thing to do.

I'll tell you another reason I voted that way. If it had been two weeks earlier or two weeks later, I might have voted different. But I honestly believe the good Lord works in mysterious ways, and it just happened that April 7, the day of the vote, was the two-year anniversary of my mother's death. The people who know me know that my mom was everything to us kids. It's been hard the last two years. So on April 7, as you might imagine, I was very emotional.

It also happened to be Gay & Lesbian Day at the Capitol. Those folks were up there trying to express their views. Not bothering anybody, just doing what it was their God-given right to do, which was coming up there and expressing their opinions to their legislators. And so, for this vote to come up on that day--as I sat there and tears rolled down my eyes, I just thought it was wrong.

So I said no to it, and one of the groups that supports the gay marriage ban started running radio ads in my district the very next morning. They gave my home number in the ads, and that weekend I had a very difficult time, not only with the anniversary of my mother's death but with all these people who were angry and calling me at home. So after the weekend went by, on Monday morning the Star Tribune and Pioneer-Press asked me again. I had a call from my local paper asking me again. I said no, I don't have anything to talk about.


Well worth reading.

Koering spoke out about Rep Emmer's efforts to defund the Minnesota AIDS project as "gay bashing" at a recent conference committee meeting. From the Minnesota AIDS Project Report on this:

HIV Prevention Attacks Heard in Committee

Today Representative Emmer (R-Delano) testified on behalf of his amendment to prohibit the Minnesota Department of Health from awarding HIV Prevention Education grants to groups that used "sexually explicit" materials. After presenting and later withdrawing an amended amendment to change the wording to prevent grants to groups that used "websites, pamphlets, or other communications that promote sexual promiscuity or unhealthy or unsafe sexual behavior", Representative Emmer reasserted the original language prohibiting "sexually-explicit" materials.

Senator Hottinger questioned the reasoning behind the amendment, "I don't understand why we as the legislature should set 'standards' that may inhibit the ability to educate people about the risks involved in sexual behavior. Frankly, sexual behavior sometimes need graphic or direct explanations." Representative Duke Powell (R-Burnsville) said that while he didn't disagree with Senator Hottinger's line of questioning, that he felt that it "didn't line up with the materials". Representative Powell also said that sexually transmitted infections were serious and that one in four people had or would have one during their lifetimes, "even in this room". There was some laughter from the back of the room

Senator Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) observed that the pictures that Representative Emmer objected to "were not as bad as what came out of Abu Graib" (sp?). Representative Emmer said that his objections to the material were not about "my sensibilities" but "about money", reinforcing his erroneous assumption that the Pride Alive website is financed with state taxpayer dollars. He also questioned the effectiveness of the materials since "AIDS cases are on the rise".

Senator Koering (R-Fort Ripley) said he felt that the body was "vilifying MAP" who had been doing "one hell of a job" and that this initiative amounted to "gay-bashing" and that he was "quite offended" by it. Representative Bradley (R-Rochester), who had the gavel, said that that was not the intent of the amendment.

Representative Emmer asserted that the amendment was addressing a "health" not a "lifestyle" matter and the Minnesota AIDS Project was "proposing activity to spread HIV/AIDS". He read from the letter he had sent to Lorraine Teel (please note she did not receive a copy of this letter until some time after it had been received by some of our funders and that she had to request it to receive it).

Senator Hottinger objected to the use of the word "perverted" in the letter to characterize some activity and behaviors, and Representative Emmer replied that even folks in the GLBT community disagree that "this is how the message should be delivered".

At the end, I was called to testify. I reasserted that no state money was used for the website and that although some people might be uncomfortable with the vernacular used, that it was targeted at a specific group of people at high risk of developing HIV/AIDS. I also asked if it might be possible for our executive director, Lorrraine Teel to present the next day and answer questions, and that was agreed to. The committee starts around 1 pm if you want to tune in.

Today's committee is on video at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/sessiondaily.asp?yearid=2005&storyid=568 You can fast forward to minute 23. It ends about 45 minutes later.

Elizabeth Dickinson
Community Affairs Manager
MN AIDS Project

www.mnaidsproject.org/publicpolicy


Koering deserves our thanks.

Coming Out of the Closet

It's no secret to people who know me, that I have struggled with manic depression - aka bipolar disorder for years. It's something that has typically not affected me so I can't work, though I've had three hospitalizations as an adult that related to this. Blog critics such as Swiftee know this. They try to use this issue whenever they can to try to discredit me. Here's the latest example on the thread on Mitch's blog when Berg lays down the law:

Swiftee writes:

...Er, excuse my intrusion, but I think it's pertinent to know that Eva maaaay have been skipping a few of her bi-polar meds. lately.

No, really.
Posted by swiftee at June 3, 2005 01:13 AM


I worked at my current position for 5 years before I told my boss about having bipolar disorder. I had been concerned about disclosing this to my boss, because I didn't want it to make him respect me less. It turned out, I didn't need to worry about that. The issue of "coming out" about having manic depression has always been more of a challenge for me personally than being gay. I've lived in the twin cities for years, and being gay in Minneapolis isn't a big deal. The manic depression issue was different for me. It was a struggle for me to acknowledge that this wasn't an issue of not having enough discipline over my mind, and that this is a biochemical imbalance. I also was concerned about the effect of this on my career. The last thing I wanted was to be on disability, and to lose my autonomy. I've worked in group homes with a clientele who have serious and persistant mental illnesses - both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I am thankfully not affected that strongly with this. I have friends who are my age who are currently living on disability because the manic depression is so severe it prevents them from working.

I know other professional people who have bipolar disorder, and they also tend to keep quiet about this for the same reasons that I do. Many of us want to be judged by the content of our character, and the quality of our work.

Swiftee's comment was petty and cowardly. It's not the first time he's mentioned the bipolar disorder - and won't be the last I'm sure. It will be interesting to see how other MOB Bloggers react to it.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Blogger Berg Lays Down the Law

Mitch Berg's gotten busted doctoring comments:

Mitch, why are you doctoring comments? Dump Bachmann (dumpbachmann@aol.com) posted something different. You changed the post to give out an ip address.

Par for the course for the Shooting Blanks blog.
Posted by: Eva Young at June 1, 2005 11:48 PM

Hey Mitch!

Here's another comment you can doctor up to make it look like a big love fest over here at Chickenhawks in the Dark. That's how your heros George Bush does it--if you don't like the news, just make it up yourself!

Still wondering what you were doing when you were "21 and single" and all your high school buddies were signing up to serve their country. Too busy up there in North Dakota? "Other priorities?" as your hero Dick Cheney said about his own draft-dodging history. Come on, Big Guy, it's not too late to volunteer now! They'll even pay you to play with guns--a dream job for Mr. Second Amendment!
Posted by: Dump Bachmann at June 2, 2005 09:08 AM

Eva,

I never doctor comments that add something to the discussion, no matter how angry.

But when people leave anonymous comments that do nothing but insult, all bets are off. It's my blog, I get to do that.

"Shooting Blanks", huh? Nick's been helping you with the clever turn of phrase, I see.

By the way, Eva - get a dictionary.
Posted by: Mitch at June 2, 2005 09:14 AM

Dumper,

Er, yes. It IS too late to volunteer. I'm 42. Remember?

It's a simple point; even you, I'd think, should be able to grasp it on, say, the fourth try.
Posted by: mitch at June 2, 2005 09:15 AM


Now that he's been busted, Blogger Berg throws down the gauntlet.

A number of the commenters call him on it:

Delete all you like. I don't have a problem with that. It's your disk space and database clutter.

Editing a comment, however, seems highly unethical to me. Would you, for instance, make a serious post claiming this "quote":

"I think babies are tasty, especially with a good mint sauce". -- G. W. Bush, May 24 2005

while commenting on bioethics in the East Room at the White House? Someone could point to the record of that (actual) event and rightfully argue that he said no such thing. A commenter on your blog has no recourse like this. It's tantamount to you making bogus comments and attributing them to whoever you like. Want to smear someone? Hey no problem, Mitch Berg's your go-to guy!

I stop patronizing blogs that practice substantive comment editing. So let me know what you policy is, Mitch, and I'll edit my aggregator accordingly.


Developing. . .

Spotty the Blogspot Dog Fisks Kersten's Latest Drivel

Drivel here.

The fisking here.

Kersten says the need for the protection of strictly heterosexual marriage flows directly from the fact that sex between men and women produces babies. The rest of her composition rests on this blinding flash of intuition. But the premise is a faulty one.

Marriage is both more and less than a baby making factory, a cottage industry so to speak. It is more because it establishes an emotional support network between partners, and very significantly provides legal recognition of the right and duty of the partners to protect each other. Marriage partners can inherit from each other, can make health care decisions for the each other when one partner is incapacitated, and one spouse cannot be required to testify against the other. There are many other legal incidents to marriage, as well, health insurance and survivor benefits to name just a couple.

Kersten acknowledges the existence of these attributes of marriage, and how they would be of advantage of couples of any sort, but argues they must be reserved for special people, because again, they make babies.

But a lot of marriages don't produce babies. A lot of marriages are entered into with no intention of producing babies; you don't sign an oath when you get a marriage license promising to have babies. A priest may threaten your eternal soul if you don't at least try, but there is absolutely nothing in the civil covenant we call marriage that requires the production of children.

Laying aside all the couples who get married that don't want kids, how about all the folks we allow to marry who can't have kids? Under Kersten's rule, post-menopausal women, impotent men, and infertile people of either sex couldn't get married. Society has no need for them to get married because they produce no offspring.

So reproducing is clearly not the only thing that society is trying to accomplish with the institution of marriage.


It's good. Go read the whole thing here.

Vultures Preying on the State Capitol

The Rake has an excellent article in the current issue: Church and State: The myth of separation crumbles in the halls of the Minnesota State Capitol.

It talks about Dan Hall of Midwest Chaplains who has had a prayer "ministry" at the state capitol for the last three years. Lloydletta's Nooz broke the story about Urban Ventures and the Colin Powell Youth Center signing on to Midwest Chaplains Day of Prayer for the Bachmann amendment (An image of Prayer Proclamation is available here.)

Well here's some more background on this ministry:

Chaplain Dan Hall's Wednesday prayer meeting attracts a range of high-powered guests, including lobbyists, but the group is most animated when legislators stop in to visit and pray. Thus, when Republican Representative Larry Howes of Walker was introduced, everyone straightened in their seats. "What you’re doing makes a difference here at the Capitol," Howes began. "It may not always seem that way, but I can assure you that your prayers are heard."

"What's your passion?" Hall asked.

"Politics," Howes answered, before transitioning into a detailed policy discussion about what’s really on his mind—namely, a nursing home in his district that is in danger of losing its state funding. "It's a big payroll, and the loss of that would devastate our local economy," he said.

The formerly gay man raised his hand. "Should we pray that the governor will sign the bill for the nursing home?"

"Sure," Howes replied. "Yeah."

He then launched into another passion, concerning a letter someone had sent to Republican Representative Paul Gazelka, which disapproved of his support for a measure that would ban gay marriage. According to Howes, the author works for the Crow Wing County Human Services Department. "And I want you to know that I've already looked into de-funding that agency," he announced with a pointed look at Hall.


A constituent writes a letter that the representative disagrees with. So the representative tries to defund the agency for whom the constituent works. Chilling.

According to an online resume, Dan Hall has no formal religious training nor even a formal ordination, despite serving as an assistant pastor, administrative pastor, associate pastor, and senior pastor to four congregations dating back to 1982. This is not unusual. Among some Pentecostals and members of other independent, evangelical denominations, there is an institutional suspicion of formal religious training, and many of their church leaders are not ordained, at least not in accredited seminaries or divinity schools. Instead, they are accepted as spiritual leaders on the basis of their faith, leadership, and charisma. Hall, a married father of eight, seems to have established himself in that tradition and done quite well. In addition to being founder and executive director of Midwest Chaplains and its Capitol Prayer Network, he is city chaplain of Burnsville, where he ministers to police and emergency services personnel.

Hall claims his voluntary ministry at the Capitol began after House Chaplain Lonnie Titus told him "he couldn't handle it all on his own." In contrast, Titus claims that Hall approached him about getting involved at the Capitol. Regardless of whose idea it was, nobody disputes that Hall's Capitol ministry began in the fall of 2001, when he stationed himself outside the Senate chambers and introduced himself to members.


My guess: Hall is lying on this one.

Four years later, his routine hasn’t changed much. "I come down to the Capitol after the traffic," Hall explains. "And I begin my route." He starts on the top floor of the State Office Building. "I peek my head into offices, say hello to staff and legislators and just see where that goes. I see what I can do to help, and I always try to bring God into it." When he is not busy with the individual needs of legislators and staff, Hall conducts "prayer tours" of the Capitol for groups interested in praying at the usual tour stops, such as the Senate chambers.

Hall also maintains an email list of "Capitol intercessors" whom he contacts with specific prayer requests when a "moral or spiritual issue" such as abortion, gay rights, or methamphetamine use arises. "I've been told that because I'm a chaplain I must be a Republican," Hall admitted. "I'm more conservative, yes, but really what I'm doing is based on Biblical truth. I call it 'political evangelism,' but it's not politics."

Lonnie Titus disputes Hall's depiction of his ministry. "I serve as a chaplain to all of the people [at the House of Representatives]," Titus explained. "But Dan, he's the front guy if you're pro-life, pro-marriage." The distinction is important and legal. For Dan Hall's ministry to be granted federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization it must meet several criteria, one of the most important being that it "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities"—even, presumably, if that means influencing God to influence legislation. Bluntly, the regulations prohibiting religious organizations from explicit political advocacy do not allow for much interpretation, and Hall—otherwise a literalist in Scriptural matters—knows it. "A lot of pastors don't stand up for issues and that’s how we got into the mess that we’re in today," Hall said. "They're all worried about losing their 'tax-exempt.'" Intentionally or not, Chaplain Dan Hall and his supporters at the Legislature may be redefining the boundaries of religious political advocacy in Minnesota.


There needs to be complaints filed with the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the IRS about this organization.

But look who walks in for a prayer:

The last guest at Chaplain Dan Hall's Wednesday prayer meeting was Duane Coleman, vice president for Development at the Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center in South Minneapolis. Supported by organizations like Best Buy, ADC, and General Mills, the center is a $12.6 million South Minneapolis project designed to help inner-city youth acquire secondary-school educations. Duane Coleman has been a repeat guest at Dan Hall's prayer gatherings, and when he arrived on this day, Hall encouraged him to describe the results of the prayers he’d received the week before.

Coleman said that, before last week, only the Senate version of the new bonding bill included cash for the Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center. "So I came last week and we prayed over this," Coleman explained. "And somehow, through divine favor, the money ended up in the House bill, too."
A late arrival, a woman in the back of the room, raised her hand. "Is your group Christian?"

Coleman nodded vigorously. "Yes."

"So what are we praying for today?"

"Success in conference committee!" Coleman replied.

Like many before him, Coleman stood before the group with his eyes closed as the Cannon Falls ladies and Myrna Howes prayed for him. "Lord, my husband is a legislator and I know he received a lot of letters on behalf of this saying it won't do anything," Howes intoned. "Well, I hope those letters to turn to dust."
With that, the meeting was over. The group quickly dispersed into dimly lit Capitol hallways filled with legislators on their way to lunch. Charlotte Herzog, however, stopped to tell me how much she appreciates Dan Hall’s ministry at the Capitol. "You know," she said. "Prayer is just so much more effective than all those committee hearings and meetings."


I guess on this one, my prayers were answered. The taxpayers were saved from subsidizing the Colin Powell Boondoggle. It was stripped from the conference committee.

Drinking Liberally Gathering

I got to meet PZ Myers at the Drinking Liberally gathering last night. PZ Myers is the man behind the wonderful Pharyngula blog. PZ has a good post about the gathering.

I very much enjoyed getting the chance to meet Dave Puskala of White Bear Lake.

Mark from Norwegianity sums it all up.

New Kid on the Blog

Covering Minneapolis also. There's been some good posts about the Worst City Government Money Can Buy - Part I and Part II covering the ward 2 race.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Log Cabin Republicans Calls on Bush to Fire Scott Bloch

Got this in my email today:

Dear Eva Young,


Tell President Bush to Replace Scott Bloch!

Scott Bloch, Office of Special Counsel, is refusing to enforce long standing federal policy that protects federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The actions of the Special Counsel not only ignore current law, but also openly defy President Bush's executive order guaranteeing these protections.

Please E-mail President Bush and Vice President Cheney and tell them to replace Scott Bloch!

You can take action on this alert either via email (please see directions below) or via the web here.


Visit the web address here to tell your friends about this.

We encourage you to take action by December 31, 2005

Tell President Bush to Replace Scott Bloch

INSTRUCTIONS TO RESPOND VIA THE WEB:
If you have access to a web browser, you can take action on this alert by going to the following URL:

INSTRUCTIONS TO RESPOND VIA EMAIL:
Just choose the "reply to sender" option on your email program.

Your letter will be addressed and sent to:
President George W. Bush
Vice President Richard Cheney


----THIS LETTER WILL BE SENT IN YOUR NAME----
Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],


I am writing about Scott Bloch, your Special Counsel. His decision to refuse to enforce long-standing federal policy that protects gay and lesbian federal employees from discrimination in the workplace is outrageous. Please remove Mr. Bloch from the Office of Special Counsel.

In testimony before the United States Senate, Mr. Bloch claimed that he was unable to enforce your executive order prohibiting discrimination against federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Mr. Bloch claims that he lacks statutory authority to enforce these basic protections.

While containing no specific reference to sexual orientation, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(10) has long been interpreted to prohibit discrimination against federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation.

Bloch's unwillingness to enforce workplace protections based on sexual orientation directly contradicts 30 years of precedent. Since 1974, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(10) has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Even current Solicitor General Theodore Olsen, more than 20 years ago, concluded that "it is improper to deny employment to or to terminate anyone on the basis of sexual preference or conduct that does not adversely affect job performance." See 7 Op. O.L.C. 58 (March 11, 1983).

Last year, Mr. Bloch ordered the removal of any references to sexual orientation discrimination from the Office of Special Counsel's web site and printed materials. According to a letter from the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, signed by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), this directly contradicts the pledge he made during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Mr. Bloch's actions mark a clear breach of a specific promise made to the Log Cabin Republicans by you and your campaign during the 2000 election. As part of Log Cabin's decision to endorse you in 2000, your campaign pledged to Log Cabin that non-discrimination policies for federal employees would be respected. We ask that you and your Administration to remain true to their word and put an end to this distraction.

Rolling back more than 30 years of protections for gay and lesbian employees is unacceptable, and represents a clear repudiation of conservative principles. Men and women seeking to serve the American people through service to the federal government should be judged by their ability, not by their sexual orientation.

It is clear that Scott Bloch is not following the law, and is openly defying your executive order. We ask that you replace Mr. Bloch with a Special Counsel who will follow 30 years of clear precedent-precedent that has been reaffirmed by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

----END OF LETTER TO BE SENT----

Sincerely,
Eva Young


I replied to the message - so the letter was sent. To send your own email, write president@whitehouse.gov.

Pretty cool. I encourage others to act on this also.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Does Taking Federal Funds for the Healthy Marriage Website Violate University of Minnesota Non-Discrimination Policy?

Americablog has been covering this story extensively.

In the latest on this, B David Galt from the GLBT Programs Office at the University of Minnesota responds to criticisms from Americablog readers:

Thanks for your message of concern about the Healthy Marriage Resource Center. When the Minnesota Daily initially reported on the University's involvement with this project last fall, it created quite a whirlwind of controversy, particularly due to the inaccuracies that were in the article.

Below is the statement we released last fall on the issue. Following the release of this statement, I also met with Michael Benjamin from NCFR who flew from Washington DC to discuss their involvement.

This all said still, many of us will still object to a University researcher's involvement with this research (in much the same manner we continue to object to the presence of military recruitment on our campuses and/or ROTC programs) but we would also object to compromised academic freedom and/or limitations on research that would not allow for population-specific research (including GLBT populations.)

I have remained in contact with Dr. Dougherty throughout the school year and have had no reason to believe that there has been any change in the information we released last fall. I will follow-up with both him and Michael Benjamin though to see if there has been a change in their plans since last we spoke.

If you still would like to "officially" register your concern, contact our Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Julie Sweitzer is the Director and she can be emailed at sweit001@umn.edu

Thanks for contacting us. Please feel free to contact me back with additional concerns or questions.

B David Galt
_______________

HEALTHY MARRIAGE RESOURCE CENTER
On September 28th, the Minnesota Daily ran an article about the establishment of a federally-funded Healthy Marriage Resource Center (HMRC) at the University. The article provided the impression that the center would not be inclusive of same-sex couples. (Article here) . Our office, Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action, Dr. William Doherty (University contact for the HMRC) and the President's Office received a number of calls and e-mails expressing concern over the project.

After investigating the issue, it became clear that the Minnesota Daily article contained incorrect and misleading information about the nature of this project. On October 4th, the Daily printed a letter from Dr. Doherty addressing many of the inaccuracies. His letter is available here.

I have had several conversations with Dr. Doherty about the project and we will continue those discussions. I also have been in contact with Michael L. Benjamin, M.P.H., Executive Director of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) which is the official host for the HMRC. I have also reviewed the funding guidelines for the call for this particular project, as well as a copy of the project proposal. From these and other discussions, I have developed the following understanding about this project.

It is first and foremost important to recognize that the HMRC is a project of the NCFR which is a national non-profit organization based in Washington DC. More information about NCFR is available at http://www.ncfr.org/ This project has five University partners across the nation: Brigham Young, Norfolk State, Syracuse, Texas Tech, and the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota is not the host of the project. As a partner, University researcher William Doherty along with the assistance of a half-time graduate assistant will conduct research that will coordinate the collection and organization of community-based resources specific to marriage counseling and support. The University did not receive the $900,000 grant to develop the HMRC but rather Dr. Doherty will be receiving a small amount of that grant money to cover 10% of his salary and the funds to hire the half-time graduate assistant as part of a University sponsored research project.

The HMRC will be a virtual website center available to anyone across the nation. There is no physical HMRC center. The research project conducted by Dr. Doherty will identify information that will be available on the to couples arounds issues of marriage. Community resources that provide counseling and resources to same-sex couples will be listed on the website. There was no plan by the University or Dr. Doherty to discriminate against GLBT people in pursuing involvement in this project; to the contrary, Dr. Doherty is committed to ensuring that same-sex resources are included to the greatest extent possible.

Every day University research focuses on specific areas that is not inclusive of every population at the University. As an academic institution that values academic freedom, this concept is particularly true when it comes to the research interests of our faculty. University researchers pursue and accept funding that often is specific in its focus; this includes funding that may be specific only to GLBT populations.

For some, there may still remain the question as to why the University is involved with this particular research project (however direct or indirect that involvement is.) The national political agenda attached to this particular federal funding is highly disagreeable to many. Even if the research were specific to improving the marriages of heterosexual couples it's direct impact on improving the quality of life for many Americans and children, including those GLBT children raised by heterosexual parents is tremendous.

I asked Dr. Doherty his thoughts on the issue and he had to said "On the propriety of the University's involvement in this project, I can say that University researchers frequently accept funding to study or work with subgroups in the population, excluding other subgroups. This is a judgment call about which reasonable people can disagree. I have chosen to accept funding for a project that will help many American couples, including GLBT couples, even though I regret the limitations of current federal law and policy."

Many also wondered why our office and/or Equal Opportunity were not consulted about involvement in this project. Dr. Doherty provided the following response: "There has been many questions why this research project was not reviewed by the Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action and the GLBT Programs Office. The simple answer is that as an institution that embraces academic freedom, research efforts by students and faculty are not restricted. There is no standard institutional process for review of research proposals that requires such consultation. While there was no requirement for advance consultation, given the sensitive political issues associated with the funding and the subsequent level of misunderstanding and concerns raised by members of the GLBT & allied communities about the project, it would have been valuable to have discussed the project with other University
departments, particularly the GLBT Programs Office."

In my conversations with Dr. Doherty, I have been impressed with his commitment to conduct his research and contribute to the HMRC in a manner that is sensitive to same-sex couples. I believe that he will consistently advocate for that inclusion.

It is unfortunate that the initial Daily article so inaccurately presented the story. Like many of you, the initial article took me by great surprise and had me questioning why the University was creating a University center that would only serve heterosexuals. Thanks to those of you who responded in various ways to the blatant discrimination that the article seemed to represent. This situation also reminded me of the importance of making sure that all the information presented to us is correct and complete.

I agree with Dr. Doherty's observation that while current research protocol does not require consultation, it would have been extremely helpful in this instance given the resulting controversy and misunderstandings that have transpired.

Our office will also continue to remain in contact with Dr. Doherty and monitor the research project's implementation and keep you updated. Additionally, Dr. Doherty has noted that resources listed on the website will greatly depend on the community agencies that come forward to participate and include detail about the services they provide. We must do our part to make sure that those agencies providing same-sex couples counseling and services participate and highlight these programs.

If you have further questions about the HMRC, the University's involvement, and the specific research project being conducted by Dr. Doherty, please feel free to contact either Dr. William Doherty at bdoherty@che.umn.edu or myself at galtx003@umn.edu

B David Galt, Director
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) Programs Office
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
138 Klaeber Court/320 16th Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Another Americablog reader posted a letter to the editor in the Minnesota Daily by William Doherty:

Center not discriminatory

I would like to offer some clarifications about the Healthy Marriage Resource Center.

First of all, it will be a virtual center — a Web site with information for the public. It will offer no training and conduct no original research.

The purpose of the center is to make information more widely available to people looking for educational programs to help them prepare for or improve their marriage, and to professionals looking for research about marriage and couples education.

The University will not operate the center. Its involvement is limited to my subcontracted role, spending 10 percent of my time on the project with a graduate research assistant. My focus will be on tracking community-based initiatives that support healthy marriages.

The overall grant for the center went to the National Council on Family Relations, a professional organization of researchers and practitioners — not the University. (See www.ncfr.org.)

Importantly, everyone will have equal access to the information on the Web site, with no screening or restrictions by sexual orientation.

Many of the education programs that will be posted on the site, including one conducted locally, are open to all couples, regardless of legal marital status or sexual orientation.

Just like anyone else, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will be able to use the Web site to find local programs, and can then inquire about the kinds of couples the program helps.

Some programs are limited to premarital couples, others to remarried couples some to distressed couples, black couples or heterosexual couples. Others are quite open, even taking single people. It’s up to those searching the Web site to find the best fit for their relationship and their needs.

Additionally, conversations are underway about the scope of the research — particularly whether research on same sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual couples will be included. Having just been funded, the center is a work in progress.

Finally, although, given current federal law and policy, there will probably not be visible links on the site with the terms "gay marriage" or "same sex marriage," individuals can search the site for programs that fit their particular needs. There will be something for all kinds of couples.

William J. Doherty
University professor, Family Social Science Department


Well ofcourse this website is discriminatory. Professor Doherty is being disingenuous here.