Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cupcakes as well

Some of the things that have accumulated in my browser tabs...

A student prompted the Albion College Student Senate to begin discussions about becoming Reconciling. Read the whole story at my brother blog.

As part of the uproar in Indiana a pizzeria announced they would refuse to cater to a same-sex wedding reception. Please skip right over the idea that wedding receptions in Indiana are sometimes catered by pizzerias. You might reveal your class biases. Instead, let's focus on the response to that announcement. Conservatives held a fundraiser and gave the pizzeria more than $800,000. Melissa McEwan of Shakesville notes:

* There are people willing to make sure bigotry pays. Which means if there is a boycott of the whole state, the bigots won't suffer.

* Of those progressives calling for a boycott, did any of them work to raise $800,000 to compensate affected businesses or donate to a pro-gay organization? Nope. In a boycott, the progressives will suffer.

Though $800K wasn't raised, at least $148K was. That's how much has been raised by the #Pizza4Equality campaign, which will be used towards ending LGBT youth homelessness.

Isn't nice that the argument about LGBT rights is on the level of pizzas and cakes? I'm well aware the battle is not over. And about those cakes... A year ago a customer asked Marjorie Silva of Azucar Bakery in Denver to create a cake with a discriminatory message. She refused. The Civil Rights Division of Colorado's Dept. of Regulatory Agencies has now ruled in Silva's favor.

Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin pulls a bit of Scripture into these cake battles:
Matthew 5:38-42:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Kincaid's translation:
If anyone wants to sue you and force you to bake a wedding cake, bake them cupcakes as well.

Another item from McEwen of Shakesville: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law that restricts how those receiving government assistance may spend the money. It's all about teaching them to spend responsibly, says the new law's advocates. It's about prosperity and having a great life. But when restricted items include taking your child to an arcade or having a party in a bar, the intent is to dehumanize the poor. This is class warfare.

Rob Tisinai of Box Turtle Bulletin makes an interesting comparison. Take a look at the Southern Manifesto that protested the 1956 Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the Supremes that forced school integration. Replace all references to "education" with "marriage" and – surprise! (not really) – you have a document quite similar to the brief that conservatives filed in the same-sex marriage case to be argued before the Supremes at the end of the month. Power mad (activist) judges, states rights, tradition, Constitution is silent on the issue, heck, even the 14th Amendment is silent – are all mentioned. There's also a mention of (uppity/militant) outside forces threatening revolutionary changes. Sheesh, those arguments are stale.

Dunno about this one. Erik Ransom took a look at gay hookup apps Manhunt and Grindr (not that I've had personal experience with either) and read some of the user profiles. He felt they were "bleak and desperate" – in other words, operatic. So Ransom teamed up with Rachel Klein and Charles Czarnecki to create a rock-opera based on the apps. Let me know when I can listen to the gay love duets.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I'm still here

I haven't posted in a while and my browser tabs are full of stuff to write about. Alas, a family situation has come up. I have been spending a lot of time at my parent's house on days I'm not teaching. That will likely continue for a while. I'll be back. Hopefully soon. Perhaps I'll squeeze in an occasional evening of writing.

I will mention one small item. Ireland will be voting on marriage equality soon. Of course, homophobic pamphlets have been printed. Daintree, a paper company on our side, is now selling "A Shred of Decency." They have been shredding those nasty pamphlets into confetti, "made from 100% recycled lies."

Saturday, April 4, 2015

That takes the cake

Joshua Feuerstein, a former televangelist in Arizona, made a video of himself calling the Cut the Cake bakery in Longwood, Florida. He asked for a cake that said, "We do not support gay marriage." Owner Sharon Haller refused. Feuerstein posted the video (since removed) and claimed a double standard. Haller has received death threats and online reviews of her business have filled up with bad reviews, leading to a drop in business. A GoFundMe has been set up to help Haller through the business slump.

I'm left wondering if Feuerstein is in Arizona why he called that particular bakery in Florida.

In a five minute video Matt Baume of AFER explains why there isn't a double standard in the cake wars. Here are some of the things he talks about:

* In private, you may discriminate all you want. You may create a gay-only cake club because the constitution guarantees freedom of association. So be a jerk if you want to.

* Public accomodation laws were put in place to prevent the nasty effects of discrimination. Refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple is discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation, and (in places with such laws) is not allowed.

* A cake with the words "God hates gays" can be refused by these laws because the discrimination is on the basis of offensiveness, not religion.

* But cake wars are a symptom of a much bigger problem – too many states still do not include sexual minorities in their civil rights laws.

Happy gay employees are good for business

Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin ponders the rapid fix to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. Kincaid is sure it wasn't the protests in front of the Capitol or a Twitter storm that changed lawmakers' minds, though the noise helped. It was Corporate America. Through donations they had ties to legislators and they used those ties for some personal face-time to demand change. Yes, this is an instance where corporate takeover of American politics worked in out favor. So why did they do it?

Yes, there are some, like Tim Cook of Apple, who have a personal stake in these kinds of laws. For other business leaders preventing discrimination has an effect on the bottom line. These laws affect their gay employees and that affects morale, which affects productivity. Happy employees are better employees. And those making travel arrangements don't want to worry whether a particular B&B will force tomorrow's keynote speaker to sleep in the car.

Ari Ezra Waldman of Towleroad says the fix to the RFRA in Indiana wasn't much of a fix. As I surmised, the new law can't be used for discrimination, but sexual minorities aren't included in the state's civil rights law and that can be used to discriminate. This situation is slightly better because 11 communities in Indiana have local non-discrimination laws.

Waldman notes lawmakers didn't repeal the RFRA, they amended it. Which still suggests that religious freedom trumps all.