“my rights end where yours begin”

That’s the whole conundrum of invoking God as the singular rationale for or against public policy—God says lots of different things to lots of different people, and all of them think that they’re right.
Melissa McEwan, “MREWYB“, Shakesville.

Yup. Melissa McEwan is there talking specifically about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, but her point is broadly applicable.


Camping Through the Falklands

In the Falklands War, well before gay people were accepted in the British army, there was a bit of a culture clash with the merchant seamen who helped to crew the boats in that war:

Passenger ships then had a strong gay, indeed camp culture. On some peacetime vessels up to 95 per cent of the stewarding crew were out homosexuals and trans people.

And so, gradually, friendships were made and minds were changed.


US: Military Religious Freedom Foundation

The US army is being infiltrated by Christian evangelists, eager to blur the distinction between church and state. Now, when the army is fighting major wars in Islamic states, is a particularly bad time for this sort of “crusading” evangelism.

Literata talks about how her husband managed to remove religious elements from his promotion ceremony and about the excellent work that the MRFF does to prevent this kind of abuse.

And by the way, did you that the crusades were not a religious war?



I think it’s fair to say that my feelings about the US military are somewhat ambivilent. I am unconvinced that they are, taken as a whole, a force for good in the world. The end of DADT, though, has been a good thing. (Next step: rights for the rest of the QUILTBAG spectrum.)

Apparently, the US Navy has a tradition: the homecoming first kiss. One person is chosen, by ballot, to be the first to leave the boat when it docks to kiss zir partner. In December, Citlalic Snell, herself a sailor, but in civillian clothes that day, waited to kiss her partner, Marissa Gaeta.

They aren’t the only gay soldiers out there. See an adorable photo of an airman and a marine. And, a little later, in February, there was a homecoming photo from Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells (Brandon is in the marines, not the navy, so it’s not quite so wonderfully staged, but it’s a lovely kiss nonetheless).

And, because I can’t help it.


On horses hitched to wagons; or, Whose rights are these anyway?

A few weeks ago I was at the March for Marriage in Dublin. The Irish government has recently brought in inadequate civil partnerships legislation, which gives at least some recognition of gay couples (though it needs vast improvement), but it still doesn’t recognise trans rights at all. The speakers at the March for Marriage talked quite a bit about trans rights. One of the themes was, We all stand together, and perhaps that’s most obvious on the issue of marriage. And the proposed recognition of trans people is, frankly, insulting.

The proposed legislation says that a married person cannot transition (because that would be same-sex marriage, shock, horror!). A married person who wants to transition must divorce first. And since Irish law allows for divorce only in the case of irreconcilable differences, a happily married person cannot transition at all.

I’m glad to say that everyone at the March for Marriage cheered these speeches. We hadn’t come to a specifically trans protest. I’m willing to bet there were many more gay than trans people there, along with not a few straights supporters. But everyone cheered. Too often in gay spaces on the Internet I’ve seen people spouting all kinds of bullshit about trans people. “Why do they hitch their wagon to ours?” Because it’s their wagon too, and they’ve been with us from the beginning.

Actually, I strongly suspect that the distinction between gay and trans is partly cultural. In other cultures, it works out differently. In Malawi, for example, the concept seems a little more blurry. But then, as I’ve often said, all concepts have fuzzy edges.

There are, though, some real differences between the gay and the trans experiences. In the USA, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has put an end to the last legally mandated discrimination against gay people. Meanwhile, active discrimination against trans people is ongoing, as in the case of Rebecca Grant, thrown out of the military for being transgender.

I’m going to repeat myself: We all stand together.


Access Pays

Wells Fargo, major bank, has reached a settlement for having inaccessable branches and ATMs, and a an inaccessable telephone system and website. Wells Fargo will pay up to $16 million to compensate individuals who experienced discrimination, pay a $55,000 civil penalty to the United States Treasury, and make $1 million in charitable donations to non-profit organizations that will assist army veterans with disabilities. I don’t know why the charitable donations are going to charities for army veterans only, instead of to everyone with disabilities. There’s no indication in the press release that army veterans were specifically discriminated against.

The full details of the settlement are published on the ADA website.


The US Military Really Is Bigoted Against Atheists

So, they sponsored a Christian event called “Rock the Fort”, which was explicitly intended to convert people to (a particular version of) Evangelical Christianity. They spent $54,490 government funds on this.

They promised they’d do the same for anyone else (the words were, “provide similar support to comparable events”), so a group of atheist and other non-religious soldiers put together plans for a concert called “Rock Beyond Belief”. Unlike “Rock the Fort”, “Rock Beyond Belief” was not seeking converts.

And it had to be cancelled at the last minute, because the US military is run by a bunch of no-good lying bigots who went back on their word. Either that, or they somehow think that $0 is “similar” to $54,490.

There’s a good summary at Blag Hag.

Meanwhile, the US military has a “spiritual fitness test” for their soldiers. They’re claiming this isn’t a religious test. They’re wrong. Lying. Again.

Now, I’m no fan of the US military for a host of reasons, but this rampant bigotry (as the comments on Blag Hag said, the cancellation was hardly surprising or unprecedented) is one of the big ones.