Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Times They Are a'Changing!

Equality is moving quickly in many parts of the world, and the last couple months of 2012 have been no exception.  My liberal progressive heart is loving every minute of it!

Here's a quick, simplified round-up:

THE PHILIPPINES:  Naturally, since the Philippines is dear to my heart, I have to give BIG kudos to the Filipino people for the recent passage of the Reproductive Health Bill in both the House and the Senate.  Even though it doesn't have anything to do with gay rights, it's still a wonderful step forward!  As soon as President Aquino signs the bill, we can finally start referring to it as the Reproductive Health Law.  It's been a long time coming, so congrats, Philippines!

URUGUAY:  On December 12th the House of Representatives of the South American nation of Uruguay passed a Marriage Equality Bill, 87 votes to 81.  The bill will next go to the Senate for approval, where it is expected to pass.  The president, Jose Mujica, has said that he will gladly sign the bill into law as soon as the Senate approves it.  Looks like another majority-Catholic country will soon be joining the ranks of countries with marriage equality.  Go Uruguay!

The Pope's Having a Really Bad Day

Can't win 'em all, buddy.

When the pope woke up in the Vatican this morning, he was greeted with some very bad news.  His morning report undoubtedly led with the front line: RH Bill passes Philippine House and Senate.

While liberal progressives like me cheered for the Philippines, I can imagine that the halls of the Vatican most likely fell silent.  You could probably hear a pin drop as the news came in.

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a life-long stalwart opponent of women's rights, gay rights, and common sense in general, conceded defeat on the matter.  The pope too must swallow this bitter pill and accept reality.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Really, AXN?

Holy shit, they do look dangerous!
It seems the sight of two men in a long-term relationship holding hands is simply too much for Asian cable network AXN to handle.

On Monday, October 1st, episode 1 of season 21 of The Amazing Race was aired across Asia on AXN.  One of the team of racers was Josh and Brent, a couple who own and operate a goat farm in upstate New York.  Josh and Brent have been in a monogamous relationship for 14 years, and are currently engaged to be married.

But of course, AXN didn't want anyone to know or see that.

When I watched the episode, I was a little curious why Josh and Brent's intro segment was so short.  The other teams (consisting of sibling pairs, best friends, (hetero) dating couples, and (hetero) married couples), all had longer intros, showing their backgrounds, their lives, and, if they're a couple, their love for each other.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Abortion Tragedy in the Philippines

I'm so tired of the gaggle of "Pro-Life" politicians in the Philippines.  You've seen them and unfortunately heard them:  Golez, Pacquiao, Enrile, and our favorite dork of the month, Sotto, harping on about the grave dangers of condoms, pills, and IUDs.  All, of course, propped up by the Philippine Mini-Popes, i.e. the CBCP.

Look, I'm a progressive liberal.  I'm about as liberal as a person can get.  When I say liberal I mean liberal in every way:  an economic liberal, a military liberal ("a dove"), and a social liberal.  I grew up in a liberal family, in a liberal culture, in a liberal country called Norway.

In my country, RH isn't an issue.  It hasn't been an issue since...well...it's never really been an issue.  This is because the Catholic Church holds absolutely no sway in Norway.  None.  The pope never visits us because we honestly don't want him to.  (We think he's a bigot, to be quite honest with you.)  In my country the government's been giving out free condoms and birth control pills since the 1960s,  and the state doesn't interfere in a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I love me some Wanda Sykes!

Well-known American comedienne and actress Wanda Sykes is absolutely awesome.  Anytime I watch any of her stand-up comedy shows or acting spots on TV and in movies, I just can't stop laughing.  She's comedy gold if you ask me.  Her most recent film work was as the voice of Sid's Granny in Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Wanda is happily married to her wife, Alex, who hails from France.

In response to the recently released 2012 Republican Party Platform, which includes an idiotic proposal to write an amendment to the US constitution to ban same-sex marriage, Wanda's sense of humor shined through on television interviews.

According to Wanda (and common sense in general), the hard right shouldn't be threatened by marriage equality:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Democratic Party Platform Endorses Marriage Equality

In a series of speeches peppered repeatedly with references of the right of same-sex couples to marry, including from First Lady Michelle Obama and high profile Latino Catholic politicians, the first night of the Democratic National Convention in the U.S. was very memorable.

A huge congratulations to my American Democrat friends, whose party has, as of today, officially adopted a platform that solidly supports marriage equality for all.  This is the first time a major U.S. political party has officially endorsed same-sex marriage, and it's a very, very big moment for equality in America.

Under the heading "Freedom to Marry," the 2012 Democratic National Platform states:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Leaders Who Listen to Reason Rather than Bishops

"I believe it would be a terrible distortion of democracy if the majorities – the actions of those majorities – denied rights to the minorities."
- Cristina Kirchner, President of Argentina
(A Catholic president in a majority-Catholic country, by the way, which today has marriage equality.)


"Mentalities have changed. There is no longer any reason not to open marriage to people of the same sex." 
- Marc Verwilghen, Fmr. JM of Belgium
(Said in 2003, just prior to marriage equality passage.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sotto's March of Shame Goes On and On

Shamed Senator Vicente Sotto, of the Nationalist People's Coalition, keeps digging his hole of ignorance deeper and deeper.

Senator, it's time to put the shovel down.

We all saw him recently crying in the Senate during his passionate attack on the "big, bad" RH Bill (which has been proposed for more than a decade now), in which he used out-dated "facts" and was caught red-handed plagiarizing the intellectual property of no less than five bloggers.  He then crassly dared the bloggers whose writings he pirated, to sue him.  But that wasn't enough it seems.

It's no secret that Sotto is a Roman Catholic right-winger when it comes to social issues.

He's loud and proud in his opposition to women's right to make reproductive health decisions for themselves...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Whooped by His Own Logic

Brian Brown and NOM:  Bat shit crazy
In the U.S. recently there was a low-key "dinner table debate" on marriage equality between one Mr. Brian Brown (President of the homophobic National Organization for Marriage) and one Mr. Dan Savage (a vocal advocate of equality... and of sanity in general).

I can give you the insta-rundown:  Brian rambled on, jumping about illogically most of the time, covering all the old über conservative talking points.  You know:  "Gay people can't have kids, ergo they can't be allowed to marry; gay people marrying will lead to child abuse and destruction of the family; polygamy will come next and then men will marry horses."  Genius.

Dan did a superb job of presenting the case for equal marriage, as well as shooting holes in the traditional religious counter-arguments.  Dan Savage clearly won the debate because he was, well, logical, accurate, and sane.  You can watch the discussion here if you like.

What was most telling to me, and where Brian Brown unequivocally went down in flames and lost the debate, was when he stumbled over his own logic.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

APA Removes Transgenderism as 'Mental Illness'

Finally.  2012 marks the year when the APA (the American Psychiatric Association) has officially replaced the term "Gender Identity Disorder" with "Gender Dysphoria."  This means transgender is no longer categorized as a mental illness.

The U.S. now joins Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Scandinavian countries, and several others that have already changed their official policies.

The change will have an impact in legal cases and legislation, and is being hailed as a huge step forward for trans rights not just in the states, but potentially in other countries as well.  For better or worse it cannot be denied that America is influential; this includes its medical associations, whose policies do have an influence on the policies of medical associations in other (less progressive) countries.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Noah, Lotsa Water, an Angry God, Gay Guys, and Ignorant Pastors

Gotta admit, the whole rainbow thing is pretty gay.
You learn something new everyday.  Turns out not only did gay people cause the utter collapse of Ancient Greece and Rome, but they also brought about the biblical "Great Flood" of Noah's day.

As if the earth needed any more insanity and fact-twisting from our good friends on the Religious Right, a conservative pastor in Alabama USA (arguably the most conservative state in the union), is claiming that same-sex marriage was the true cause of the Great Flood described in Genesis.

On the radio station American Family Radio, the broadcasting arm of the American Family Association (WTF?), Aaron Fruh, pastor of Knollwood Assembly of God Church in Mobile, AL, went on a rant against marriage equality, saying:
"Find any society in human history that ever tried that experiment [i.e. same-sex marriage] and lived to tell about it; they've all been destroyed."

Monday, July 30, 2012

The First Country in Asia to Say Yes to Marriage Equality...?

Some impressive things are happening on the equality front in one particular Asian nation, and it's catching everyone a little by surprise.

Is this happening in one of the region's bastions of democracy? -- Taiwan, Thailand, or the Philippines?  Not quite.  Surprisingly, the conversation of amending the marriage law to include gay couples is happening in a communist country:  Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government is now considering whether to allow same-sex couples to marry (or at least legally register) so they can receive the rights they're currently being denied.  Thus, Vietnam could very well be the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage, according to news agency AP.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Submit a Guest Article!

If any reader is interested in submitting a guest post on this blog, you're more than welcome to do so!

Submissions can be of any length, so long as the content pertains to LGBTQ rights, the broader topic of sexuality/sexual orientation/gender identity, religion/science/&sexuality, or the promotion of progressive values.  Personal experiences and op-eds are also accepted.

You can submit either original content or, if you have your own site, content you've already published and would like to share here.  You can also link back to the article in your own blog, as well as link from your blog to the article you submit here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

HIV in the PHL. Religious Right, YOU'RE to Blame.

If you're an HIV virion in the Philippines, business is booming for you these days.

One of only seven countries in the world where HIV rates have risen 25% over the last decade, the Philippines has a very big problem on its hands.  But rather than listening to world medical experts and tackling the problem, the Philippine government is opting to listen to the Religious Right -- particularly the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and its mother ship, the Vatican -- and taking a gamble with the lives of its own citizens.

Unprotected sex between men accounts for 87% of all new HIV cases in the country, according to the DOH and UNDP.  Ten new infections are detected each day, and nobody really knows how many silent HIV carriers are milling around the general population.  Many Filipinos remain untested for the virus, which has an asymptomatic latent period of up to 10 years, during which no major signs or symptoms are seen or felt.

When coupled with the fact that the Philippines has the lowest rate of condom use in Asia, it's a recipe for disaster.  It's a recipe that is now starting to yield some unsavory and frightening realities.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Nonsense Arguments You're Up Against

From the mind of former Philippine Ambassador to Italy, Jose V. Ramero, Jr., Ph.D., comes this sorry op-ed I happened to stumble across online this morning.  It's an elderly rant on same-sex marriage, ominously entitled "A Dangerous Social Experiment."

The reason I'm including a link to it, is so that you can see the types of nonsense arguments you're up against in the struggle for equality.  They're trivial assertions that are easily dismantled and proven flat-out wrong by modern science, observation of countries which already have marriage equality, and rudimentary common sense.

I firmly believe that if you know the arguments of the anti-equality side inside and out, you'll be much better able to anticipate those arguments in a conversation or debate, and formulate coherent responses.  If you can do that, you will win every time.  Guaranteed.  The pro-equality team has logic on its side; the haters don't.  Mr. Ramero's op-ed is proof of that.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lessons From the Latino Playbook: Emphasize Family and Love More Than Rights

Philippine and Hispanic cultures have so much in common.  Heavily influenced by the 16th- and 17th-century culture of Habsburgian Spain of old, the parallels between the two in terms of family life, customs, mores, and of course, Roman Catholic religion, are easily recognizable.

It is because of this commonality that I took notice of something that happened in the U.S. last week.  A coalition of 21 different Hispanic organizations, whose members range from second and third-generation Hispanic-Americans to recent immigrants from Central and South America, announced a joint pro-LGBTQ equality campaign.

The name:  Familia es Familia, or in English, "Family is Family."  Its aim:  to further build support for LGBT equality within the wider Latino community through public education, resources, and engaging the community through social media, and to heighten acceptance of LGBT family members within the Latino community.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PMA: "We Won't Discriminate... Buuuut..."

In somewhat of a mixed-message, the PMA (Philippine Military Academy) has stated that there is no ban on gays and lesbians from applying for entry.  They insist they do not and will not discriminate against or turn away cadets if they happen to be gay or lesbian.

This should be applauded.  It's a great thing for the premier military academy of the Philippines to publicly commit to such a policy, and they honestly and sincerely deserve a pat on the back for it.

And then come the "buts"...

PMA spokesperson, Capt. Agnes Flores, says that cross-dressing is a total no-no.  Okay.  But that's not a gay issue, that's a cross-dressing issue.  The vast majority of cross-dressers are either transvestites or transgenders, not gay men and lesbians (see Definitions page).  Captain Flores is a little confused and prone to stereotyping, it seems.  Bless her heart though, she's trying.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

We've Been Warned (Again): Gayness Destroyed Rome!

Yep, unless they're MARRIED.  Silly Catholic Church!
From the mind of Roman Catholic ethicist Benjamin Wiker comes an interesting article about same-sex marriage and homosexuality in Ancient Rome.  He attempts (quite miserably) to prove that same-sex marriage and acceptance of homosexuality in a society leads to that society's demise, and pleads with us not to repeat the mistakes of Rome.

Wiker is a colorful character.  In 2009 he authored a book entitled The Darwin Myth: the Life and Lies of Charles Darwin, in which he claims that Darwin was part of a 19th-century conspiracy to remove God from science and tear down biblical foundations of morality.  He claimed that Darwinism (and, by extension, all of modern science and medicine, since these fields are based on the premise and findings of evolution) completely undermines the foundations of Christianity because it is "incompatible with natural law"1.  Yep, all aboard the crazy train!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

France Set to Become One Kick-Ass Country

New president, new day
»» Update added 30 June 2012

France already rocks, but it's about to turn up the volume on its coolness level.

Three-hundred forty three out of five-hundred seventy seven.  That's the official number of seats that the French Socialist Party and its fellow-progressive allies now have in the National Assembly, as a result of elections held this month.

That's a clear majority, and it means the conservatives, who earned only 223 seats, don't have enough votes to block the progressive legislative agenda of the new French government.

The French Senate, too, has a clear socialist majority, and it's all very, very good news for equality.

Interesting News Bites from Asia

TAIWAN:  TAPCPR, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, has announced that it will deliver a same-sex partnership bill to the Legislative Yuan (the Taiwanese legislature) in July of 2012.  TAPCPR has been advocating for a change in the current civil law since 2009.  Its bill will be three-pronged, covering a partnership system, legalization of same-sex marriage, and modernization of the current family code.

A same-sex marriage bill has been proposed before in Taiwan, but it met a major hurdle.  This because, according to Taiwanese law, family members of one spouse are automatically bound by law to become relatives of the other spouse's family.  The subsequent conflict over the implementation of family inheritance laws has effectively stalled that bill since 2003.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What Ever Happened to Article 26 of the Philippine Family Code?

What happened to Article 26 of the Family Code?

A few days ago I received a very good question/observation via email, so I thought I'd share it as a post.
"I'm somewhat confused about the current status of same-sex union law in the Philippines.  Technically same-sex marriage is not specifically banned or illegal, because of no law which forbids it or Constitutional amendment which forbids it. 
"However, the Family Code declares marriages to be between a man and a woman only, which on technicality actually DOES make same-sex union illegal in the country.  But then the Family Code (Art. 26) also declares that marriages conducted legally outside the Philippines shall be recognized also in the Philippines.....  If the law says that, so why would a Filipino couple married in Spain (for example) not be able to register as a proper married couple in the Philippines?  It was conducted legally, so why is this law just being ignored?
"What is correct?  Is it just me or do these laws not contradict on each other?"

For starters, if you happen to be confused:  join the crowd.  To the best of my knowledge, both of the above observations are correct and, yes, they do overlap in a contradictory manner.  In other words, it is confusing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

P.U.S.H. Pilipinas

700 Club Asia hosts Kata Inocencio and Peter Kairuz
Right out of the gate, allow me to say that I applaud CBN Asia (Christian Broadcasting Network) and its nightly show, 700 Club Asia, for the many good works that they do, such as Operation Blessing.  There are many decent, caring people involved in the organization, and I do not doubt that they love God.

Every so often, though, like their mother ship network CBN USA and its founder, Pat Robertson, 700 Club Asia chooses to jump on the crazy train.  This is what they did during their June 11, 2012, broadcast which aired on Philippine TV network GMA.

As part of their week-long P.U.S.H. Pilipinas specials (which stands for Pray Until Something Happens, Philippines), the opening salvo was entitled "Pamilyang Pilipino, Gaano Katatag?" (The Filipino Family, How Strong Is It?).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wedding Bells Ringing in Denmark, for Everyone!

Anxiously waiting as the final vote was tallied in parliament
Great news from Copenhagen as yesterday the Folketing, the Danish Parliament, voted overwhelmingly to amend that nation's marriage law, making it gender neutral.  The previous day (Wednesday), parliament rejected a bill that would have created a separate system of marriage for gay couples under different terminology.

With the passage of the new, gender-neutral law, same-sex couples will now be able to marry in churches of their choice, the same as opposite-sex couples.  Priests will not be forced to perform the weddings if they happen to disagree on personal grounds, however, a majority of pastors in the country do support marriage equality.  This includes a majority of priests in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to which 80% of Danes belong.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dueling Messages From the Top

The past few weeks have been interesting ones.

I'm not an American, neither am I Filipino, but I've spent quite a bit of time in both the U.S. and the Philippines.  I've been fairly amazed by the recent contrary messages on marriage equality that have been sent from the White House on one side, and Malacañang on the other.

President Barack Obama has announced his full support for the right of same-sex couples to marry, sending a resounding message of equality around the world.

The shockwave hit the Philippines, too.  Within hours, it seemed, Malacañang was sadly distancing itself from the statements coming from the White House.

Conservative Jews and French Kisses

Yesterday the Conservative faction of Judaism in North America formally endorsed marriage equality.  Oh yeah, you read that right:  the CONSERVATIVE Jewish branch!  Reform Jews, the more liberal faction of Judaism to which most Jews belong, have already been long supportive of equality.  This move by their conservative brethren was a welcomed surprise.

So much for the argument that "all major religions are opposed to same-sex marriage."  Sorry if it scares you, but there are millions of progressive Jews, Buddhists, and Christians (such as myself) who are fully and entirely supportive of equal marriage.

Also yesterday, on a non-religious note, in Paris the new French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault announced that a change in legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children will be done 'quickly' and that a draft bill is 'ready,' according to French news site Yagg.com.

The new French executors vowed to keep their campaign promise of bringing marriage equality to France, stating that they understand the urgency and importance of it.

A Socialist Party spokesperson stated that legislation will likely be presented in the National Assembly for discussion 'before the autumn,' and with it France is set to join other predominantly Catholic countries which already have marriage equality.

The French government's decision highlights the point that civil unions, which France has had since 1999, simply have not been good enough for a country that prides itself on treating everyone equally.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May Round-Up

The month of May has certainly been a busy one!  Here's a round-up of some of the good...and the bad.

Probably the best recent news came out of the USA:  President Obama finally publicly announced his support for marriage equality.  Prior to this he was a supporter of civil unions only.  The announcement was a major event in the fight for civil rights; no other sitting American president has ever publicly endorsed same-sex marriage, especially in an election year, though some former presidents recently have (namely Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter).

This is a definite boon to the marriage equality push in the US, so kudos to the Prez for taking a stand for equality and liberty!

On the other side of the Atlantic, Francois Hollande has become the brand new president of France.  Hollande, a member of the Socialist Party, had marriage equality as part of his campaign platform, saying that if elected he would push legislation to finally bring same-sex marriage to France.  Of course he needs more liberal-minded Congresspersons to back him up, which is hopefully what he'll get after congressional elections in June.

Vive la France et vive la liberté!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Baby Steps of Progress in Italy

Italy, the birthplace of the Roman Catholic Church, isn't known for its progressive stance on gay rights.  Italy is one of the only European countries that still does not offer some form of legal recognition to same-sex couples.  But the pendulum is starting to swing a bit...

On the 15th of March, 2012, the Italian Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione) issued a two-pronged ruling in the most important gay rights case thus far in that country.  The case revolved around an Italian same-sex couple who were legally married outside of Italy, and who sued the state to have their marriage recognized by the Italian government.

The Supreme Court ruled that the government does not, at this point in time, have to recognize same-sex marriage contracted in other countries, which seems like a defeat.  But the second part of the ruling is where it gets good.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wedding Issue Selling Like Hotcakes

Just thought this was kind of cool:

The latest issue of Life with Archie comic books, featuring the wedding of Kevin Keller, has sold out at most shops throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Some religious nuts have complained (naturally, as if they don't have more important things to do), threatening to boycott one of the world's biggest toy stores, Toys 'R' Us, for selling and openly displaying the comics in their stores.  Their grumbling has been to no avail though, because the majority of people don't have a problem with the same-sex marriage theme, or with their children seeing two married men on the front cover.

Kudos to Archie Comics for making Riverdale an inclusive community!  It goes to show that kids can still learn important values through reading comics.

No word yet, however, on when or where the comic will be sold in the Philippines.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Philippines Needs Leaders with Backbone

What I would love to see one day, is for a Filipino politician -- especially a member of a sitting administration -- to finally have the balls to stand up for the LGBT community and tell the church to stuff it.

This is what Lynne Featherstone (photo left), U.K. Equalities Minister, did last week, and she deserves high praise for it.

The British government has promised that the U.K.'s marriage law will be amended no later than 2015, but likely sooner.  Since 2005 the U.K. has had a Civil Partnership Act, which conveys all the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, only under a different name.  The new marriage equality law will change the term "civil partnership" to marriage, and allow for gay couples to be married in churches that are willing to do so.

Naturally the Roman Catholic Church is reacting as if someone is throwing acid in their face, and, along with some of the more conservative Anglican clergy, have stepped up efforts to stall marriage equality.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Maryland Becomes Marry-land

Inside the Senate as the bill was passed
After passing in the state House of Delegates late last week, the Civil Marriage Protection Act has now passed in the Maryland Senate as well.  When it is signed into law early next week by governor Martin O'Malley, who has been a strong supporter of the bill, marriage equality will be the law of the land in Maryland.

"All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law," said the governor.  “The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.”

One conservative senator, Allan Kittleman, who voted in favor of the bill, said this before entering the Senate chamber to cast his vote:  "I'm proud to be the son of a civil rights pioneer who is going to vote in favor of the civil rights issue of this generation."

Congratulations, Maryland!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Criminalization of Homosexuality Risks World Health

Countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality are directly responsible for the worsening of the spread of HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO's report, which can be accessed here, points to the fact that it is actually still illegal to be a gay man, and for two men to have sex, in 75 countries.  In Asia, the countries of Singapore, Bhutan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Palau, and certain states in Indonesia are included in that list.  Singapore's law against male-male sex (Section 377A of the Penal Code) is still in place though is rarely enforced.

According to WHO, such legal restrictions and discrimination force gay and transgender people to risk criminal sanctions if they discuss their sex lives with health service providers.  Sexual activity is very important for a doctor to know about it -- whether you're straight, gay, bi, or trans -- but in places where same-sex activity is illegal or where it is strongly frowned upon for "moral" reasons, many people remain quiet.  These archaic laws also give police the authority to harass organizations that provide vitally important health services and education to the LGBT community.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beautiful Vid from Italy

From our friends in Italia comes a great pro-marriage video.  Even if you don't understand Italian, the message needs no translation.

A very happy (albeit one day late) Valentine's Day to everyone!  And when I say everyone I mean everyone, including all the wonderful same-sex couples out there; especially the ones in the Philippines!

February 14th represents the very thing that is always worth taking a stand for:  Love.  Keep your eyes on the prize and never stop pushing for full equality!  Pray for the day when Filipino same-sex couples will be able to freely, publicly celebrate their love and commitment on Valentine's Day, and every other day, too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Congratulations, Washington!

The governor affixes her signature, saying "It is signed!"
More good news from the U.S., as the Washington state legislature has passed a bill to legalize marriage equality in that state.  The home of the great city of Seattle, Microsoft, Nintendo, Starbucks Coffee, and some of the best apple orchards on the planet, has become the most recent part of the world to grant gays and lesbians their basic civil right to marry.

Washington had already had a Domestic Partnership Law since 2007, which offered some of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples.  The law was expanded in 2008 (adding 170 rights and responsibilities) and then again in 2009, becoming the "everything-but-marriage law."  This meant the rights given to same-sex couples in domestic partnerships were equal to marriage, except in name.

Washington's governor, Christine Gregoire (who is a Catholic, by the way), has been a strong supporter of the new marriage equality bill.  As of Feb. 13 she has officially signed the bill into law.

Gov. Gregoire
"With today's vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love. We tell every child of same-sex couples that their family is every bit as equal and important as all other families in our state. And we take a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation."
— Washington Governor, Christine Gregoire

Congrats, Washington!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

News from the States: Prop 8 Unconstitutional

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (a higher, federal court; not a California state court) has issued a ruling upholding an earlier lower court ruling which found that Proposition 8 was and is unconstitutional.  Prop 8, as you may recall, was the 2008 ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in the state of California, after marriage equality had been legalized by the California Supreme Court.

This ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court is profound, to put it lightly, and very good news for equality.  The judges ruled that Prop 8 indeed violated the Equal Opportunity Clause of the U.S. constitution, unfairly targeting a minority group, i.e. gay and lesbian Californians.

If the court-ordered stay is lifted within fourteen days (per the release of the official mandate), it would mean that marriage equality will return to California immediately.  If the opposition appeals again, however, to the U.S. Supreme Court, the stay on marriages will remain in place until the issue is resolved.

It is truly amazing news for equality, and a same-sex marriage case will likely eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Due to the U.S. Supreme Court's influence, a ruling for marriage equality may have a very positive reverberation in courts around the world, including in the Philippines, whose constitution also has a clear-cut Equal Opportunity Clause borrowed almost directly from the U.S. Constitution's.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cruz Needs a Check-up from the Neck up

He just exudes love, doesn't he?
Keep standing against bigotry and foolishness, folks, because there's still a long way to go in the Philippines.

Archbishop-emeritus Oscar Cruz has proven himself to be a first class dingbat in the past, and he's working hard to keep that reputation alive.

Hot on the heels of Benedict's recent rant against gay unions as a threat to the future of humanity, Cruz set out to gleefully regurgitate his boss's madness to the masses in the Philippines.

Cruz's level of confusion astounds me, I mean literally floors me.  How a man can be alive for 77 years, yet remain utterly clueless and non-sympathetic to his fellow man, is beyond me.  Arrogance can, however, be blinding.

For instance, on January 13th he made this statement:  "Gay people also have human rights but they cannot force the Catholic Church to bless their unions."  Oscar, no one desires, or is setting out, to force your church or any other church to bless any union whatsoever.  That's the distinction between religious marriage and civil marriage.  You should know that by now, and if you don't, you can review the marriage equality laws of other countries.  It's really not that complicated.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Straight Folks, the Shame is Ours

As I write this it is a new year, and 2012 promises to be another good one for the gay and lesbian community, particularly in the West.

2011 was a banner year on which to build.  From the removal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the U.S. military, to the Australian Labour Party changing its platform to support marriage equality.  From same-sex marriage becoming legal in New York state, to Denmark announcing that it will be upgrading its partnership law to full marriage equality.  From civil unions being instated in the biggest Catholic-majority country on the planet (Brazil), to the U.K.'s Prime Minister announcing that British foreign aid will be greatly reduced to those countries which fail to protect and guarantee the rights of LGBTs.  And from the swearing-in of the world's first openly gay male head of state (the new Prime Minister of Belgium), to the Psychological Association of the Philippines (finally!) announcing its support for the Anti-Discrimination Bill.

Now we await the good news to come in 2012:
  • Washington state's governor has endorsed marriage equality and pledged to make her state the next to have same-sex marriage;
  • The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California will issue a ruling in the Prop 8 case by May, which legal analysts are 99.99% sure will make marriage equality legal once again in America's most populous state (a broadened case may even end up in the U.S. Supreme Court by 2013);
  • Both Germany and Finland have marriage equality upgrade bills in the legislative docket (both already have partnership laws in place);
  • and France's president Sarkozy is expected to endorse marriage equality before the April 22nd national elections (the opposition socialists, who have included same-sex marriage in their platform, have made the issue a cornerstone of the campaign, promising to bring marriage equality to France if they win a majority.  Their candidate, Francois Hollande, is currently polling at least 10 points ahead of Sarkozy, by the way).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Philippines, Don't Let the World Pass You By...

The beautiful coast of Quintana Roo, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
As a foreigner in the Philippines, I can assure you without hesitation that the Philippines has immense potential to be a tourist magnet.  The pristine, white sand beaches alone make the country a magnet for pasty-skinned, sun-starved white people like me.  Add in the surfing and scuba diving spots, golf resorts, rain forest excursions, historical sites, endless opportunities for adventure sports lovers, not to mention the warm and friendly Filipino people, and the Philippines is a serious player in the highly competitive game of tourism.

But the Philippines may potentially be cutting itself off from a lucrative piece of the tourism industry pie:  gay wedding package tourism.

No, I'm not being wry.  Hear me out.