All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

American Sociological Association Destroys Position Against Same-Sex Parenting

Earlier today the American Sociological Association (ASA) filed a brief to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. In the brief the ASA focused on same-sex parenting and clearly states that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex couples. The ASA states, "When the social science evidence is exhaustively examined -- which the ASA has done -- the facts demonstrate that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex parents. Unsubstantiated fears regarding same-sex child rearing do not overcome these facts and do not justify upholding DOMA and Proposition 8."

US Marriage Equality: Getting Support from All Sides

In case you, my valued reader, were not aware the US is on the verge of having a major step taken in the battle for marriage equality. While it is no sure thing, with all the recent reports of whats been happening there's seems to be an atmosphere thats well prepared for a step forward.

Today has presented the world with a truly great thing. Today President Barack Obama filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding the case for marriage equality and Proposition 8. In case you didn't know the specifics, Prop 8 was a ballot measure in California that removed the (already judicially given) right to marry a person of the same sex. The measure was challenged and struck in all the lower courts and has been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is not only considering Prop 8 regarding marriage equality though. There have been many cases brought up throughout the country surrounding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a piece of legislation signed when Clinton was in office, that prohibits federal recognition of same sex partnerships as marriages and the subsequent rights that entail from such a status.

Grindr - Only for gay men?

I read an article today on PinkNews written by a gay man and his view of Grindr. More broadly he discusses his views on Questioning and Bisexual men and their use of the mobile dating application. For those of you who are straight and don't know what Grindr is, or anyone else who isn't sure about what it is, its a mobile dating application that specifically caters to gay men. On the app you create a profile and can upload a picture and put a short description about yourself and basic stats. Like many of these kinds of things the app is regularly used as a hook-up app, although thats not to say that people don't also use it to find dates. Here is a video by DaveyWavey (I love him) as quick introduction to the app:

NOM Spokesperson on being friends with LGBT people and Tyler Clementi

Maybe some of you remember this; just before thanksgiving NOM spokes person, Jennifer Roback Morse, released a video on NOM's Ruth Institute warning those in college settings to avoid being friends with LGBT youth.

Now Morse has apparently reversed her position on the issue. Apparently earlier this month Morse spoke to students at Iowa State University and encouraged them to be friends with those who are 'confused' (she doesn't recognize that there is a different sexual orientation from heterosexual) so as to save them from being lonely and confused.

Feminists Shouldn't Be Funny or Sexy?

The Guardian, a UK newspaper, has had a few new posts about Feminism. Particularly these posts are dealing with how feminism has evolved and what the core values/emotions behind such a movement should be. Elli Mae O'Hagan contends that feminism at its roots comes from anger. Anger from oppression and that this anger should be 'harnessed to create something better'.

"At its core, feminism should be angry" - Ellie Mae O'Hagan

O'Hagan in her narrative disapproves and faults those who try to push feminists ideals through mediums such as humor. According to O'Hagan when turning to humor and other mediums such as shows like Sex and the City are attempts to appease the masses. This is problematic in O'Hagan's view because as a feminist it is generally accepted that Patriarchy is what rules the masses and so to play into the masses is simply to play into the patriarchy that you are trying to dismantle.


VAWA was passed today in the House INCLUDING the LGBT and Native American provisions from the Senate! Woohoo!!

Homelessness, A Tragedy

This is an interesting and thought provoking photo. Just looking at the photo how true do you think that poster is? In my experience it certainly seems true. I've lived and been in NYC plenty and been to many major cities in the US (Chicago, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Berkley, Ann Arbor, Houston, etc.) and there are homeless in all of them.

Obviously there are more in some places than others but they are there regardless of where you are and regardless of where you are people tend to have the same reaction to them. People are disgusted, or look down on them, some pity, and some empathize, but most commonly people just ignore them. Selective attention is a powerful thing and that seems to be exactly what people have when walking around these places that are literally littered with homeless.

London Ex-Gay Ad Fiasco - Back Again

The prosed ad campaign.

Today Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, today is being taken to court over a decision made last May concerning ads that were to be posted on buses in London. Maybe some of you heard about this or were following the turn of events back then. If not and you want a rundown on what was happening you can see a story on it here and here.

The decision to not allow the advertisement to run on the London buses is being challenged as an infringement on the group's free speech. Specifically they are calling it a 'stifling' of their free speech, and a worrisome turn towards 'reverse discrimination'.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feminism and Pornography: Can the two be reconciled? - An open discussion

Today, I attended a discussion/seminar on Human Rights at Durham Law school in the UK. The seminar started off being about discourse surrounding abortion and specifically how Human Rights discourse can help or affects such things.

This has been a major feature in recent political and theoretical discussions due to the tragedy that occurred in Ireland recently (if you aren't sure what I'm talking about click here). The discussion was of course very interesting, but the topic of conversation slowly evolved from an issue of abortion to that of pornography, prostitution, and the like. It came about when discussion started revolving around the idea of autonomy. However an interesting question was posed, one that I know is controversial among feminists and I have seen and heard arguments from both sides of the issue.

Law and Sexuality: A Theoretical Exploration - Part 1 Defining Terms/Concepts

Often times the law does not reflect academic results. This is especially true when it comes to mental disorders and issues of psychology. A big area that the law doesn't seem to recognize or understand fully seems to be the idea of human sexuality. Human sexuality is complex, and our understanding of it ever growing, but it seems difficult for the law to keep up with developments in the academic fields.

Sexuality is first broken down into three main categories:
Sexual Identity, which constitutes one's inner feelings about themselves in relation to others and even their bodies. It incorporates the biological aspect of sex, but also things around intercourse.
Sexual Expression, is similar to identity in that it also incorporates biological sex and intercourse, but as the name implies it is more about how such things are expressed. It seems to be a more physical whereas sexual identity is more internalized and metaphysical, and has to do with self association.
And then Gender. Gender has to do with ones social role and social identities.

Each of these categories are part of sexuality as they have to do with how you relate to yourself and others sexually, as well as your sexual desires and actions. Each aspect can be broken down into other aspects that address such desires and relations more specifically.

Same Sex Cohabitors 'Less Healthy' Says Study

A study released in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior says that same sex couples who are cohabiting are not as healthy as their heterosexual married peers. The author of the study Hui Liu is a Professor at the Michigan State University of sociology. 

It is generally accepted that people who are married have a higher level of health than those who are not married. Using this Hui Liu produced a study that took into account the self reported health of individuals. The data comes from the 1997 to 2009 National Health Interview Service. Participants were aged from 18-65 and came from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. The study used 1,659 cohabiting same-sex males and 1,634 cohabiting same-sex females. These people were compared to different-sex married, different-sex cohabiting, unpartnered, divorced, widowed, and never married people.

Marriage Equality in Illinois Expected

Earlier today the Illinois House Committee voted to send the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to the full House for a vote. During the day there was testimony from 5 people in favor of the bill and 4 dissenting testimony. The 11 person committee voted 6-5 to send the bill to the House. A very close call! Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) is sponsoring the bill and said "the prospectus is very good" that the bill would pass in the House.

This is the same bill that was passed on Valentines day in the state Senate (yay for love!). With the predicted passing in the House the Democratic Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, has pledged to sign the bill. If and when this legislation goes through Illinois would become the 10th state to have marriage equality.

For more reading: Click Here and Here

VAWA Update

Earlier today the US House of Representatives announced it would be taking up the Senate's version of VAWA for a vote instead of the proposed limited version put forward by House Republicans. This means that the Senate's version of the bill will be brought to the floor for debate and amendments. It has also been stated that as an alternative to the Senate bill the more limited version will be voted on as an amended version. This means that the Republican proposal may still be passed, but only if the Senates bill, and any added ammendments, is not passed itself. This is a BIG DEAL people!

Not only will lesbians and transwomen be included under the bill but it also give Native Americans the right to prosecute those who abuse Native American women on their land. One point of contention is whether or not this particular section is constitutional or not. Some Republicans hold the position that it isn't. I have not looked into it so I will refrain from commenting (however you can find more on this topic here).

For more information on VAWA and what it does: Click Here and Here

Gay Rights in the Wrong Places?

Gay Rights. Whats the first thing you think of? If your in the US, I'm betting its either 'marriage' or 'bullying' and if you're in the UK, I'm sure it's 'marriage'. Marriage, an important issue for sure to many people; but more and more I have hear rumblings of discontent from those in the community. Don't get me wrong, most I talk to think marriage is something that homosexuals ought be able to do, but many are starting to question whether or not that should be the priority or where we put the spotlight for our movement/community.

A More Inclusive Acronym? LGBTQ, GSD, GSM

For many years now the term LGBTQ has been used to describe movement for gay rights. Originally the acronym had no T or Q and many over the years have added to the acronym. Letters get added for various different things. A basic rundown would be this Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Questioning, Queer or LGBTTIQQ.

There are those who add more letters, "A's" for Allies, or Asexual (or both), P's for Pansexual, and almost countless others. However there has been a growing movement that rejects this idea of just adding more letters to this already seemingly long acronym. A more inclusive term, if you will. An advocacy group called Pink Therapy in London posted a video discussion about how and why the current acronym may not be ideal for such a movement.

The Price of Activism

So there have been a lot of rustled feathers over Seth MacFarlane's behavior at the golden globes. I figured, I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

First things first, I didn't watch the event myself (its not really something I find entertaining) but I have seen plenty of accounts of what was said. I take particular outrage with the trivialization of rape culture and the blatant disregard of women as sexual objects. I won't go into too much detail but his song referenced not just movies but scenes that were depicted as, or just after, violent. So not only was MacFarlane making women out to be nothing more than sexual objects but he also trivializes rape in the process.

VAWA - We're at it again

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been something of a catalyzing issue as of late in US politics. For those who aren't already aware, the act goes to protect women from domestic violence and abuse, and other crimes against women; seemingly a non-polarizing issue.

Originally passed in 1994, the bill needs to be reauthorized by Congress to stay in effect. This bill has been updated with the times to include language that would specifically include lesbians and transwomen for protection. With this proposed change in the bill it was passed in the Senate with support by both parties.

After reaching the house however, it seems Republicans are not having the new support offered for gender and sexual minorities. The bill was introduced on Friday February 22, 2013 which removed the specific language that would include lesbian and transwomen under the bill. While this removal does not specifically make such parties to be unprotected, it opens the doors for states which receive funding under the act to not offer protection or deny protection to such parties.

Is this idea of protection from violence and crime something that should be limited because of ones sexual orientation? Is it something that should be limited because one is transgender or transsexual or some other kind of gender minority? I would think that even those who don't agree with such practices would agree that they shouldn't be subject to violence, that they should have protection codified in the law, and that they should have a means of compensation. If we can agree on that (which I think isn't too radical an idea) then why should we exclude such groups from VAWA?

Read more here.