Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Gays and Lesbians Than You Think

Two to ten percent as LGBT is too small—I knew that! 

A new study, which attempts to correct for problems with current survey methodology (even when anonymous we don't always answer honestly), finds that 19 percent of Americans don't consider themselves heterosexual. See the article. Further, in this article we find that it's more like 27 percent of the general population, whereas the old Kinsey report suggested 10 percent. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's on a sliding scale on either end of the spectrum where one is either exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual. That number for either end is smaller. 

While this is a Presidential Inauguration Photo, say 100,000 people...guess what?
27,000 of them are "not heterosexual."
So, when we hear from those alarmed by all this talk about homosexuals, that someone is recruiting them into the "lifestyle," we can easily point out that such is not the case. There have always been a lot more gay people than you think. I want to add that I am not in any way ignoring transgendered individuals. In a great many cases, if not a majority of cases these individuals might be heterosexual. The point to me of such studies is that it counterbalances the claims of fundamentalists and those on the extreme right who actually need for the numbers to be small so they can claim we're an insignificant number of people whose rights don't matter in the grand scheme of things. 

But the other point is that such studies as this one also found that the reason people don't readily admit to being "not heterosexual" even in anonymous surveys has to do with fear. How many garden variety mega church preachers have been caught in gay trysts in the last fifteen years? Why do you suppose they fight so hard against such exposure? It's because of the very fear that they have created in their congregants about the evils of the very sexuality they quite often (apparently) engage in.  No person who identifies as heterosexual has ever had to fear the repercussions if someone else found out. It's just not even in their minds and consciousness to fear being heterosexual.

This lack of fear and having to never even be conscious of potential violence quite often leads the heterosexual to wonder why gays have to have pride parades and "flaunt" their sexuality. Heterosexuals are also not aware of how they flaunt their own heterosexuality, so unconscious are they that it's overwhelming. Both gay men and women have had their heterosexual friends attempt to fix them up with members of the opposite sex, because they assume that everyone is straight—and even this is a kind of unconsciousness on the part of heterosexuals. This is changing, though, as more and more LGBT people come out in public. For a gay person, this is a refreshing change from the closets of yesteryear, and despite the fact that coming out makes some heterosexuals uncomfortable, such action on the part of athletes, celebrities, coaches, preachers, teachers, and students is brave beyond measure.

So, yeah, perception is the key. It only seems that more and more people are turning gay. They're not. They've always been gay, they just haven't admitted it like now. Luckily, I live a small town that attracts tourists from all over the world, and when I engage in conversation with them and we start discussing our residence, which is right off the main plaza and historic, to boot, I often tell them that my partner and I live here, and so far, no one has batted an eye, even though they might feel differently inside.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Same Sex Marriage, the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

Most People in America Still Believe in Equal Rights

If I've learned anything in the last few years, since gay, lesbian, and transgender issues have finally become part of the American consciousness, it's that most people really do value equal rights for everyone. Of course in the discourse over same sex marriage (which many people refer to as "gay marriage") there has been tension over whether marriage rights are civil rights, and therefore part of what people mean when they talk about equal rights. George Bush made this distinction in 2004 when he seemed interested in a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or an amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. It came out of the old federal Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Clinton (in the dark of night) which proponents and the majority of our legislators claimed was protecting marriage, not discriminating against LGBT people. This year, however, the Supreme Court ruled most of DOMA as unconstitutional and since then, the flood gates to gay marriage have opened to sue even those states that have bans on gay marriage written into state constitutions, most put into place during the eight years that Bush was in office.

In New Mexico, which is one of only a couple of states that have no laws one way or another for or against same sex marriage, the issue of same sex marriage is on the docket of the state Supreme Court to rule on the legality of marriage licenses issued to same sex couples in many counties in New Mexico. This activity mirrors that of then Mayor Newsom in San Francisco that sparked the Prop 8 legislation there a decade ago and finally ruled unlawful by the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals and not contradicted by the US Supreme Court, which then finally allowed LGBT couples in California to wed. New Mexico is at the brink of this same legality through the courts, but so is New Jersey, and in several other states, lawsuits brought by gay and lesbian couples are making their way through the courts, arguing that banning same sex marriage is a violation of our equal rights.

And we see that the majority of those that have been polled in the last couple of years have begun to support the idea of same sex marriage, especially following the reelection of Barak Obama in 2012, as an issue of equality. There are of course those who still argue that marriage is not a civil right, a kind of backdoor way to argue that everyone is equal but only heterosexual couples should be able to marry based on their special combination of genital equipment and the special sperm-egg combination that often creates offspring. But we also see that it doesn't take "marriage" to create offspring, so it's not a particular magic that occurs only between heterosexual couples, and while it takes a man's sperm and a woman's egg, numerous heterosexual couples who are barren are still allowed to marry and, like gay and lesbian couples, they use other means to have offspring.

There are those who argue that only a "mommie" and a "daddy" should raise a child, because only a mother and father household provides the right combination to raise healthy, happy, children, and of course we all know that heterosexual parents NEVER have gay children. So there are those who argue that if gay couples raise children they will create gay children, just as heterosexual couples create only straight children.

It turns out, as well, that those countries in the western civilizations are moving in the same direction, and not coincidentally, they are the same countries where there is a long tradition of democracy. We see for example that Russia has virtually no tradition of democracy, even though they have a framework for "voting." But then, so does North Korea.

Further, once the military's ban on gay/lesbian soldiers was lifted, the armed forces have done a breathtakingly quick job of supporting gay and lesbian soldiers; and perhaps as soon as ordinary people saw that none of the dire predictions of politicians like Rick Santorum came true, it was another step to see no reason to deny that LGBT issues were civil rights issues. A side note: it is interesting that Rick Santorum never served his country as a soldier, and yet he spoke about order, morale, and discipline in the military, as if he had a clue.