Today's Mighty Oak


For five years I worked for a company that would have fired me if they had known I was gay.  And it would have been perfectly legal.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), would make it illegal to fire (or refuse to hire) someone because of their sexuality or gender identity.  Currently, employees are protected based on traits such as age, race, veteran status and disability.  But still, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected.

While some states have stepped up, a massive and confusing patchwork has emerged 1:

  • Seventeen states and D.C. prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Four additional states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation alone
  • Nine states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but only for public employees
  • Three states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, but only for public employees, and in one of those states, it is only employees of the executive branch that are protected

On top of that, some individual counties and cities have enacted their own non-discrimination ordinances, making the country a maze for LGBT workers to try to traverse.

But it’s not just fairness and equality this bill strives for, it’s economic gains as well.  Companies with employees who are honest with who they are in the workplace have better interpersonal relationships with their coworkers and are more engaged in the workplace 2.  Conversely, workplaces that have discriminatory policies in place see wasted money, less trust, less job satisfaction and less job loyalty, costing over $64 billion a year 3.  Most Fortune 500 companies have made it corporate policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, seeing it not only as right and fair, but good corporate policy as well 4.

But yet, we still live in a world where gays and lesbians can (oftentimes travel to) get married, and then be fired for placing a photo of their spouse on their desk at work.

ENDA passed the senate, which was a historic victory, having never passed through a chamber of congress in the 40 years it has been brought up 5.  Now, like any other bill making its way through the legislative process, it moves to the House.

Will it pass the House?  No.

I’m an eternal optimist, yes, but I just don’t see it even being allowed to come up for a vote.  Speaker Boehner has said he thinks the bill is “unnecessary” and he sees no need for it 6.  He goes on to say that LGBT citizens are already protected, which is a lie; and also really insulting since his home state of Ohio has no such protections whatsoever and he must be aware of the situation.

As if he hasn’t made it abundantly clear in the past, Speaker Boehner continues his march of anti-equality, securing meeting space for the World Council of Families, a hate-group that seeks to modify United States law to more closely resemble the draconian laws in Russia persecuting the LGBT community 7.  And this was after that same group was barred from the Capitol Building by a fellow Republican because of their extreme views 8.

We’ve known for quite some time the opposition we face from the Speaker, and unless there is some massive shift, or an impossibly rare discharge petition, we will not see ENDA move any further.

But perhaps that is actually a good thing.  For years, versions of ENDA trying to gain votes to pass in either chamber of congress went through various revisions.  Oftentimes gender identity was omitted, many progressive lawmakers and lobbyists fearing it would not pass with those provisions in place.  The current version of ENDA that passed the Senate keeps those protections in place, and rightfully so.

But this version of ENDA includes very broad religious exemptions, allowing for certain types of charities, hospitals and universities to continue to discriminate 9.  If we are to fight discrimination and proclaim that we are all equal, then we must mean it.  A watered down version of ENDA which does not help those most in need is pointless.

Exemptions for gender identity and broad religious exemptions have no place in this bill.  Are we asking for special treatment?  Absolutely not, we just seek the same security that our coworkers, our friends, our brothers and sisters have: that when our bosses make decisions about our employment, that it is based on our merits, not our personal lives in the bedroom.

Currently, I am protected by my county’s non-discrimination ordinance.  But if I were to take a job a mere six miles away I would be vulnerable.

A friend, when discussing a potential transfer in his company asked if I would move with him.  I’m finally in a position where I have some protections, and that is an amazing feeling.  I don’t go to work on edge every single day.  I don’t fear for my employment.  I can be my entire self with my co-workers.  I’m happier.

And I don’t want to give that security up.  My own mental health can’t take it, and now that I have some modicrum of equality, I can see how tolling my previous job was on me.  I’m not asking for anything special, just what he has: the knowledge that he is protected from discrimination in his workplace.

I had to turn down his offer, I would have been moving to a place where I would have zero protections and he was floored that this was still something I had to think about it: not because he comes from a perspective of straight-privilege, but because he could not fathom that being able to discriminate was still legal.

Supporting equality is not a radical statement, even as it was just five years ago, but we still live in a world where it must be fought for and won.  And we still live in a world where many go to work each day afraid to be truthful, or who live in a world where their options are very limited.  So that is why we fight.

Do I think we will see passage of ENDA through the House?  Honestly, no.  But for the first time we have real progress, and we will keep fighting to see that momentum continue.

TL;DR version:


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The views and opinions expressed in posts, articles, or comments published here are those of their respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Global Entropy as a whole, or that of institutions for which Global Entropy or the respective authors are affiliated.

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Notes:

  1. http://www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/employment_laws_072013.pdf
  2. http://www.edgenewengland.com/news/workplace/125050/study:_people_more_comfortable_with_out_co-workers_than_closeted_ones_ 
  3. Burns, Crosby. The Costly Business of Discrimination. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, 2012. Print. 
  4. http://www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/HRC-ENDA_Talking_Points.pdf 
  5. http://www.thetaskforce.org/issues/nondiscrimination/timeline 
  6. http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/11/14/boehner-says-no-need-for-enda/ 
  7. http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/speaker-john-boehner-hosts-supporters-of-russias-anti-gay-la 
  8. http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/senator-kirk-pulls-senate-meeting-room-for-group-supportive 
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/opinion/toward-ending-workplace-discrimination.html?adxnnl=1&smid=tw-share&adxnnlx=1383742698-5F+lbBW3u0o7OFrPwhxULg&_r=0 


Civil marriage is very different from matrimony, although the two have become somewhat intertwined over the years. The fight for marriage equality is for civil rights: building a life together, joint property and taxes, medical powers of attorney, all the really boring but important things that seem to take effect during an emergency, as well as the social recognition of your spouse and validation of the important of that relationship.

But that is separate from the ceremony/sacrament of matrimony performed in a house of worship. True, a member of the clergy may file a marriage certificate to the state, but that is just as often done by a judge, justice of the peace or other officer with legal standing in their place, and the marriage certificate is a legal, not religious document. Matrimony is the faith’s recognition of a legal relationship, the two can just be taken care of in the same ceremony if the couple wishes.

Religions are free to decide for themselves what constitutes a union they would like to bless, with or without the state’s approval. Already, we have seen some churches like the Universal Unitarians who fully endorse and bless same-sex marriages, and are a great flip to the right-wing talking point that marriage equality impedes religious freedoms: the state’s refusal to recognize marriage equality impedes the freedom of religious institutions that wish to recognize them. And yes, that is a stretch, since faiths are free to generally do what they like, but it’s a good counterpoint in a pinch.

But this post is not about either end of the spectrum, it’s about the messy middle, the conversations happening there, and what we lose by not recognizing the dignity of us all.

The Episcopal Church, and specifically the diocese of Pittsburgh, has been one of the epicenters of the maelstrom of same-sex matrimony. The diocese of Pittsburgh itself is massive, covering 11 counties, so it covers a wide berth of viewpoints and the state.

For those not following the politics of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (read: everybody), here’s the condensed version: In 2003, Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a committed relationship, was confirmed by the General Convention and then consecrated a bishop in New Hampshire. The bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan was very vocal in his displeasure at this.

In 2008, after Duncan criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury and worked to start a schism, along with other various offenses, he was deposed by the Episcopal Church. He then formed the Anglican Church in North America and was elected their first archbishop and primate, although whether or not his church will be fully recognized by the See of Canterbury has yet to be seen.

At the 2009 General Convention, a “Blessing of Same Sex Union” 1was approved, which included my former (now retired) rector as an author. The General Convention approved its use, contingent on the consent of the local Bishop.

After going through a lengthy and very public lawsuit process (to get our property back that Duncan’s new church was trying to claim as their own), the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh went through a search process and selected Bishop Dorsey McConnell.

Bishop McConnell, knowing he was coming into the maelstrom of Pittsburgh, decided to take an inquisitive approach, putting in place a series of discussions to discuss the matter and come to an agreement as to whether or not to offer the blessing ceremony. That agreement, would not dictate his final decision however, but more served as a barometer for him to take into consideration.

I personally found the discussions themselves to be insulting. We’ve spent a decade discussing this in Pittsburgh, and we were finally moving on and putting the harmful past behind us. A new bishop, at least to me, was a fresh start, a chance to move forward and continue to heal, not reopen these wounds.

But instead, we had this period of discussion where both sides were required to be represented equally, a requirement which was found to be difficult to fulfill: opponents against same-sex matrimony either are few and far between or did not want to discuss their position, even in groups of completely like-minded individuals (the first stage of this three-stage process was discussions in groups where all participants agreed on their position, to better understand the process to be followed in stages two and three).

I would have thought this would have been an indication as to where the diocese was, but onward we trudged through the rest of the process, Episcopalians, if nothing else, love tradition and ceremony (and to drink. Seriously, we love to drink). Bishop McConnell’s decision was actually delayed as he spent more time going over the discussion groups’ findings, and while it appears he showed some restraint in his letter to the diocese, it is apparent where he falls on the issue.  He addressed the diocese in this pastoral letter and accompanying writings 2.

Bishop Dorsey does not want this to be seen a stepping stone to matrimony, and shows a strangely sex-obsessed viewpoint, writing that “There is no reference to bodily union” in the same-sex blessing ceremony. I’m typically used to observing sex-obsessed theologians in the Catholic Church, not the Episcopal, so I was caught off guard by the comment.

I suppose reference to bodily union could have been inserted (okay, I have the mentality of a five year old) into the ceremony, that is of course, unless the Bishop feels that only cis-man/cis-woman intercourse is allowable bodily union: I can guarantee there is plenty of “bodily union” in same-sex relationships, but again, why this obsession with gay sex? Seriously, I have a hard time when opponents of LGBT rights think about gay sex more than I do.

Bishop McConnell writes, discussing at length the subject of children in matrimony, and in the rite itself. He questions what type of love is being revealed through the same-sex blessing, apparently not able to understand love and commitment outside of rearing children.

The Bishop continues:

“The couple signifies the totality of humanity, representing the image of God – once shattered in Eden – now restored in Christ.”

Before we get to the meat of this sentence, let’s remind everyone, that the first 12 chapters of the Bible are myth, myths that every culture and religion have in some form: Creation (go back and read Genesis, the world is created twice, in different orders each time), original sin/cast out of paradise, flood and the scattering of people/languages (tower of Babel). So it’s great to look back on and pine for the paradise of Eden, but it is still a (remarkably common) myth.

Now, if this is a backhanded reference to procreation, as Adam and Even apparently went on to populate the Earth, I’ve never known the Episcopal Church to deny matrimony to couples past menopause, or even those not wishing to have children. But I take this more of a slap to the face that same-sex couples are somehow not equal to heterosexual couples.

As academic biblical scholars, we wish to clarify that the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type of marriage deemed acceptable by the Bible’s authors.

So, while it is not accurate to state that biblical texts would allow marriages between people of the same sex, it is equally incorrect to declare that a “one-man-and-one-woman” marriage is the only allowable type of marriage deemed legitimate in biblical texts.
This is not only our modern, academic opinion. This view of the multiple definitions of “biblical” marriage has been acknowledged by some of the most prominent names in Christianity. For example, the famed Reformationist Martin Luther wrote a letter in 1524 in which he commented on polygamy as follows:

“I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not oppose the Holy Scriptures.”

Accordingly, we must guard against attempting to use ancient texts to regulate modern ethics and morals, especially those ancient texts whose endorsements of other social institutions, such as slavery, would be universally condemned today, even by the most adherent of Christians 3.  Perhaps Bishop McConnell doesn’t personally know any gay couples: coming out to friends and family is the most powerful political action a member of the LGBT community can do because it forces others to see us as fellow human beings instead of an abstract concept.

The fight for equality has many fronts, and while basic civil rights and safety are the most important, there is something to be said for religious rights as well. Being able to celebrate love and commitment, with your faith community, is another important validation, not just of your relationship, but your existence as well.

The institutionalized bullying and discrimination that we see so often come from faith communities is very much a contributing factor to the epidemic suicides of LGBT youth. So when we, as a faith community, fight for equality, it’s not only to move forward as a group, but to also save lives. And the influence that the faith community can have on society as a whole is further proof that these internal struggles are important.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Jesus Christ never spoke a word of condemnation against homosexuals. Churches don’t have any need to condemn LGBT people, or fight against our equal treatment in our country. A growing number of church communities have chosen to be affirming and supportive of LGBT people. I have the joy of experiencing this directly in the numerous church groups who send volunteers to cook in our shelters and collect clothing and even Christmas gifts for our young people.

A healthy society prioritizes the safety of children. Decent people do not stand by in silence when children are being abused. We need to recognize that the condemnation of LGBT people in churches leads to the abuse and rejection of LGBT children in far too many Christian homes 4.

“Not all Christians are like that. 5” One of the things I’ve always like about the Episcopal church, or at least my own parish, is that I am welcomed, fully. And while we still have work to do, and while we in Pittsburgh tend to work things out in big, messy, public ways, moving forward to a place where we’re all welcomed in God’s love, without conditions, is what we strive for.

So I hope that while he is here, Bishop McConnell can get to know more of us, not just members of the LGBT community, but the Yinzers we all are: genuine, hard-working individuals, just looking to be treated equally.

I don’t expect Bishop McDonnell to perform any same-sex blessings himself, and I do appreciate him extending the option to each priest, but it still seems like he only begrudgingly allows even that. And the same-sex blessing is not matrimony: while civil unions usually offer the same rights and responsibilities of marriage, without the significance and weight of the word, this blessing ceremony seems to fall much shorter, which is something we can both agree on.
I was the lone Episcopal student at a Catholic college (it was me and two professors), and I spent four years making them examine their faith, defend it, and hopefully be more welcoming in it, all while expressing my love for my own church, one that “never put barriers on God’s love.”

The Episcopal church is a refuge. A place of peace and love. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve never met the bishop personally. But I would bet that he’s a kind, caring, passionate man. And I certainly appreciate the work that he does. And I don’t want to turn this into a personal attack, but reverse our roles for just a moment: let’s have some “discussions” to figure out if his love, his marriage should be recognized, should be allowed in God’s eyes. Of course that is going to hurt.

But he’s not inside my head. He doesn’t know what it’s like to see a constant barrage of hatred and bigotry thrown at you and your community, just for trying to live your own lives. He does not know how that can damage a person, damage a child. Those aren’t scars one can easily heal from.

And aren’t we a bit presumptuous to proclaim we know what God is thinking, anyway? Yes, yes, he has advanced degrees in theology, and I just took a couple courses during my time at college, so he actually does have a much better grasp on intellectually understanding God and religion. But I still have a hard time moving past God wanting anything except love from us: love for Him and love for our fellow man. Let’s leave the judgement and damnation to Him.

But what if we were to take this back in history a bit. Let’s say we’re discussing interracial matrimony, would we demand that both sides be equally represented?*

I’m sorry, bishop, but your bigotry is showing.

It’s dehumanizing to have “discussions” set up to talk about you, like you’re not in the room, to examine an entire group of people, to pass judgement on them.

Pittsburgh is tired of this debate, and Bishop McConnell had to have known that in coming here. We’ve been through this time and time again, and we were finally healing, finally coming out the other side, putting angry and lengthy legal battles behind us.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out why I was so uncomfortable thinking about attending the discussions, even in my own church. Having to face a group of people, that somehow thinks that I’m broken is not something I would willingly do, not any more.
I’m not broken. This is how God made me. And if you can’t see that, then you can’t see my basic humanity.

I’ve dealt with a lot of hate and intolerance, and I’m not saying the Bishop is approaching this with either consciously. But it is there, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not. When we insist that both sides have equal representation, when one only seeks to damn the other, we’re not in a welcoming place.

Since this is on the Internet, and as I’ve always said, “if you can’t laugh at sex or religion, you’re doing it wrong,” I feel compelled to include a few images to close. Mature? Probably not. But even through their humor, they have some truth to them, and besides, we need to laugh:

Jesus Christ never spoke a word of condemnation against homosexuals. In fact, I only really remember His message being about love. Love for God, and love for your neighbor.

 

*I got some great help in researching the history of interracial marriage in the Episcopal Church from @revlucymeg 6 (with assists from @ChurchSnobTEC 7 and @MapleAnglican 8) who pointed me to the correct Canons of the church: in the 1930’s the church adopted canon law to make matrimony correspond with local law, so with the Loving v. Virginia ruling (and probably many priests before that ignored anti-interracial marriage laws), and others around the country as laws evolved, the church was in accord with civil society.

There is a separate Canon stating matrimony is only between one man and one woman, although with the growing number of states that offer marriage equality, a task force is working on the wording of a new Canon to rectify the situation. My guess is we will see that resolution in a the next General Convention.


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The views and opinions expressed in posts, articles, or comments published here are those of their respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Global Entropy as a whole, or that of institutions for which Global Entropy or the respective authors are affiliated.

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Notes:

  1. https://www.churchpublishing.org/products/index.cfm?fuseaction=productDetail&productID=9743 
  2. http://www.episcopalpgh.org/docs/PastoralLetter131125-FINAL.pdf
  3. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130603/OPINION01/306030016/Iowa-View-1-man-1-woman-isn-t-the-Bible-s-only-marriage-view?gcheck=1 
  4. http://www.towleroad.com/2013/03/lgbt-homeless-youth-describe-rejection-from-christian-households-videos.html 
  5. http://notalllikethat.org/ 
  6. https://twitter.com/revlucymeg 
  7. https://twitter.com/ChurchSnobTEC 
  8. https://twitter.com/MapleAnglican 


For about two weeks, I had what felt like the black death.  It ran rampant through my workplace and I was unlucky enough to get hit with it hard.  So bad in fact, my boss sent me home early one day, where I promptly crawled under the covers and fell asleep.

I woke up a few hours later, still in somewhat of a fever-haze and saw the news that a judge struck-down the ban on marriage equality in Utah.  I chalked it up to my bacteria-riddled brain and shuffled down the hall to make some tea.

After some of the warm liquid began to clear my head a little bit, more synapses were sparking and I realized my RSS reader had been showing the news coming out of Utah from multiple sources.  Suddenly, Utah had marriage equality 1.

In the ruling, Judge Shelby dismantles every argument against marriage equality 2: that gay couples can’t procreate without outside assistance, that marriage equality is creating a “new right,” that history and tradition say marriage should remain exclusively between heterosexual couples, that marriage equality bans are not passed because of animus, that the state should be promoting procreation, that heterosexual parents are the best kinds of parents, that marriage equality is somehow new and unchartered territory and that the citizens of Utah should be allowed to vote on one group’s rights.  Each point Judge Shelby smacked down with legal authority, even using Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s own dissent 3 from the Windsor case as a way to show the urgent need for marriage equality.

Throughout the next few days and weeks, two stays were denied 4 5and marriages continued.  The governor of Utah has done everything he could to roll back marriage equality, calling it chaos 6, including eventually spending two million dollars 7 to appeal to the US Supreme Court 8

The Governor even went so far to announce that the state would not recognize 9 the legally valid marriages performed before the stay that was eventually put in place by the US Supreme Court as appeals were filed 10

The US Government 11, as well as many other states 12 have stepped forward and said they will recognize the marriages performed, even while Utah, the very state where those marriages took place, will not.

When this decision came down, after a few hiccups (including one county that closed its office to everyone rather than grant same-sex marriage licenses 13 and four counties that blatently broke the law and were in contempt of court for only offering licenses to heterosexual couples 14), a record number of couples flooded county offices, filling them for hours on end.

Couples did not know how long they would have, and the urgency was palpable.  Like a scavenger hunt, suddenly these couples had stumbled upon some basic civil rights, but they didn’t know how long they would last.  Many left work, grabbed their partners and rushed to the nearest court, resulting in lines filled with citizens in hoodies and jeans, and couples getting married without their families, in a rush to obtain the basic protections they had been denied for so long 15 1617.

“Gay couples are second class citizens in their own country.  We don’t have the luxury of planning out our marriage 18.”

Throughout the day, records were shattered 19 for the sheer number of marriage licenses being produced, and amid the chaos, a heartwarming story emerged of a local Boy Scout and his dad who showed up to pass out pizza to the couples in line and the clerks who were working through their lunches to process as many licenses as they could 20.

Utah has since allowed the couples who got married to file their taxes jointly 21, even while refusing to somehow recognize them.  That doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what’s going on, the very chaos the governor was afraid was running rampant.  In the meantime, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit to force the state to recongize the marriages22.

The state asked for ten extra days 23 to submit their briefs 24, and the plantiffs submited a brief opposing that delay 25, a delay which was ultimatley granted 26.

So now that the dust has finally settled in the legal ping-pong battle between civil rights and those opposed, we wait for the courts to rule once more.  Utah proved to the country the necessity and urgency of marriage equality.

The pictures of lines winding through buildings, while triumphant and exciting, I can’t help but view with a twinge of sadness.   These are loving couples who were forced to wait for so long for basic civil rights, and what should have been a fully joyous occasion, became a battle of logistics to secure what rights they could, even if their friends and family couldn’t be there to witness their vows.

Conservatives in Utah, you may remember, were the major donors to California’s Proposition 8, which banned marriage equality in the state for a time, so, now it is with great pleasure that the Golden State can send this postcard:

It’s hard to fully explain what it’s like to have to claw and scratch you way to full civil equality.  Nor would I ever want anyone else to have to go through the uncertainty and isolation that comes with that fight.

And even though this series of events happened half a country away, my heart raced with those couples.  My heart beat with those couples, finally able to get a glimmer of the recognition they so desperately deserve.

It can be exhilarating and infuriating, and even downright scary to watch the process, but we can cheer from afar, both as members of the community, or as allies standing shoulder to shoulder.

Marriage equality may be in stasis at the moment, but we can already see the cracks and know that the tide of history is pushing against that wall.  It’s a messy business, trying to deny a group their civil rights, as witnessed by the chaos stemming from the governor’s mansion in Utah.  But marriage equality will be the law in the Beehive State, it’s only a matter of time at this point.


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The views and opinions expressed in posts, articles, or comments published here are those of their respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Global Entropy as a whole, or that of institutions for which Global Entropy or the respective authors are affiliated.

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Notes:

  1. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/12/utahs-first-gay-marriage-has-happened.html 
  2. http://goodmenproject.com/gender-sexuality/how-a-federal-judge-in-utah-adeptly-dismantled-all-of-the-arguments-against-marriage-equality-jvinc/ 
  3. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/12/23/the-utah-gay-marriage-decision-used-justice-scalias-own-language-against-him
  4. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/12/23/judge-denies-request-to-stay-utahs-gay-marriage-ruling 
  5. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/12/24/yet-again-the-court-denies-a-request-to-halt-gay-marriages-in-utah 
  6. http://www.towleroad.com/2013/12/utah-governor-and-ag-desperate-to-bring-order-in-utah-halt-gay-marriage-chaos-1.html 
  7. http://equalityontrial.com/2013/12/30/utah-seeks-outside-counsel-defend-sex-marriage-ban-defense-may-cost-2-million/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=utah-seeks-outside-counsel-defend-sex-marriage-ban-defense-may-cost-2-million&utm_reader=feedly 
  8. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/12/26/when-will-utah-ask-the-supreme-court-to-halt-gay-marriages-maybe-in-a-few-days 
  9. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/01/utahgh.html 
  10. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/01/rachel-maddow-on-utahs-marriage-battle.html 
  11. http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/01/10/breaking-obama-admin-to-recognize-utah-same-sex-marriages/ 
  12. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/01/maryland-will-recognize-same-sex-marriages-performed-in-utah.html 
  13. http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/utah-county-adopts-jim-crow-tactic-preventing-same-sex-couples-from-marrying/ 
  14. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/12/24/utah-counties-continuing-their-christmastime-war-against-marriage 
  15. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/12/utah-gay-couples-rush-county-clerk.html 
  16. http://www.towleroad.com/2013/12/75-couples-still-in-line-to-get-a-marriage-license-in-salt-lake-city-.html 
  17. http://www.towleroad.com/2013/12/gay-couples-rush-for-marriage-licenses-in-utah-ahead-of-stay-request-hearing-photo.html
  18. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/12/video-utahs-first-married-gay-couple.html 
  19. http://www.towleroad.com/2013/12/utah-gay-couples-shattering-states-marriage-records.html 
  20. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/12/utah-boy-scouts-brought-pizza-to.html 
  21. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/01/utah-to-allow-joint-tax-filing-for-married-gay-couples.html 
  22. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/01/aclu-sues-utah-over-governors-refusal-to-recognize-same-sex-marriages.html 
  23. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/01/utah-needs-ten-extra-days-to-figure-out.html 
  24. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/01/utah-needs-ten-extra-days-to-figure-out.html 
  25. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/01/utah-plaintiffs-file-opposition-to.html 
  26. http://equalityontrial.com/2014/01/21/tenth-circuit-grants-time-extension-as-aclu-files-lawsuit-challenging-utahs-non-recognition-of-marriages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tenth-circuit-grants-time-extension-as-aclu-files-lawsuit-challenging-utahs-non-recognition-of-marriages&utm_reader=feedly 


In 1993, what would become the best-selling PC game of the 20th century 1, and for many, what ushered in the CD-ROM format, was released.  Myst was a phenomenon, spawned a series of five games, an ambitious (and still on-going) spin-off MMO, three novels, a comic book, many, many remakes and my love-affair with the power of online communities.

Now, Cyan, the company that created Myst, is back with a new venture: Obduction.  Twenty years after Myst, once more, Cyan is beckoning players to immerse themselves in a new world and discover what they can about this strange environment.

The game was funded through Kickstarter, and they reached their stretch goal to include Oculus Rift support, which I think is going to be an amazing addition.  Pre-orders are still being taken, so you have time to jump in if you’re interested, but even as excited as I am for the game, I think I’m just as excited for the community.Cyan, though best known for the Myst series, has created other games, although they were primarily set for a younger audience.  Obduction looks to be a more mature game, once again flinging the player to far-away worlds filled with mystery and possibly something sinister.

During the days of Myst releases and URU being played out online, the Myst Community grew and was a family to me.  I still keep in touch with many of my friends both from the game and our online discussions: discussions, which would go into the long hours of whatever time zone we were in.  Cyan games have a way of bringing people together.  Even while playing the solitary games such as Revelations or End of Ages, we would undoubtedly find ourselves discussing every aspect: puzzles, art design, music and characters, all unforgettable aspects of amazing games that awoke parts of our imaginations.

The relationships I forged are solid, and working with some of my closest friends on various projects only helped to create a literal world-wide network of people I can turn to.  I don’t know if that’s the kind of affect other games have; I would bet it isn’t.

And while I can’t guarantee that that will happen once more, if you know the right corners of the Internet to look in, you can see it’s starting already.  And that gives me hope.  I can’t wait to be Obducted.


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The views and opinions expressed in posts, articles, or comments published here are those of their respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Global Entropy as a whole, or that of institutions for which Global Entropy or the respective authors are affiliated.

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Notes:

  1. http://www.spokesmanreview.com/pf.asp?date=052201&id=s966647 


Half a world apart, two interconnected stories have emerged.  The treatment of LGBT individuals in sport, and in the broader world, is one being examined with the coming out of Michael Sam and the games of the Sochi Olympics.

Even spaces created to be safe havens for the LGBT community, both physical 2 and online 3, are now being targeted.  A ninth grade girl was found guilty of violating the ban on progpganda and was placed on an offender list and was subsequently beaten by her father, landing her in the hospital with head wounds 4, just for coming out to her classmates.

Recent documentaries about the subject show hope for the Russian people, even from the Russian LGBT community.  In the face of such adversity, they wish to stay to fight for their cause, knowing that changing hearts and minds comes about from knowing out gay people.

But sadly, that won’t heal that ninth-grade girls head.  It won’t heal those targeted by “morality patrols,” or other vigilantes.  It won’t heal those who trusted in the basic decency of humanity and were instead met with hatred and broken bones.

The day of the opening ceremony brought more than 60 arrests across Russia of LGBT activists.  The IOC defended the arrests and beatings 5 and Rachel Maddow gives a great and concise report here.  Few other protests were held, but the arrests (and then dumping in the wilderness) were defended by the IOC 6.

The Google Doodle that is referenced was in place for two days and mentions both Principle 4 and Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.  Principle 6 7 reads:

Sport does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.

In response to the Russian law, as well as the IOC’s utter refusal to stand up for basic human dignity, a few athletes have taken matters, literally, into their hands with protests on mittens 8.  The Canaidan Institute of Diversity and Inclusion produced this tongue-in-cheek video and the US State Department’s clip promoting the games and the athletes made sure to include sexual diversity 9.

And back here in the United States, we are now looking at the distinct possibility of the first openly gay NFL player.

Sports has always had a place in culture as one of the last bastions of homophobia, at least male professional sports.  Since women are already “subverting their traditional roles” by being athletes, lesbian professionals in sports seemingly make sense.  In at least some sort of backwards psychosis type of way.

So a gay male player, in the most popular of the “big four” sports, is a huge deal.  And that player may be Michael Sam.  While Jason Collins came out last year, he is at (or near, although he was practicing with the Nets recently) the end of his career, so seemingly what progress was made with him, came to a sudden stop.  Well that escalated quickly.  Jason Collins signed a 10-day contract with the New York Nets, and on Sunday became the first openly gay man to play in one of the big four sports.  And as we’re finding out, the owner of the Nets is Russian, and a political opponent of Putin 10, so the contract may have been partially a political move.

Michael Sam on the other hand, is well respected by press, his teammates, coaches and his entire school.  He was out to his team this entire year, leading them as a captain to a season with only one loss and capped by a victory in the Cotton Bowl.  And he’s about to enter the NFL draft process.

A few collegiate athletes voiced their concerns 13, some were punished, others were not, but I have a feeling that in the long run, those that judge Sam on his sexuality instead of his athletic proess will be left behind in the dust of history.But this seemingly upending of the heteronormativity of the NFL has brought the bigots out of the woodwork.  Both Jon Stewart 11 and an eloquent Texan sportscaster12 have pointed out the hyprociticy of a league and a public that would rather have murders, assailants, dog fighters and a parade of other criminals instead of a well-behaved gay man.

Sam’s own father, who, admitedly, was not involved in his life, came out with a confusing and hatefilled statement, claiming that he does not think the NFL should have any gay players, but he still wants his son to be able to play professionally 14.  Honestly, I can’t wrap my mind around that, and thinking about the mental gymnastics he is putting himself through hurts.

But for the majority of us, we will never compete in an NFL stadium.  We will never have a chance to win gold for our home country.  But this is a situation that affects us all:

A news flash for every straight man out there: You’ve been naked in front of a gay man.

This is not the end of the world, some sort of chemical imbalance being brought into your sacred locker room space or even open “hunting season” for straight men.  As Frank Bruni of the New York Times continues, if a gay man happens to be next to you after the showers, a squeal is probably not the correct reaction 15

What I think has been the most interesting aspect of this, and the Jason Collins story, is the resistance set up by some corners of society.  And here’s the big secret: straight people don’t get to tell the gay community what’s news to us.

Of the 3,000 (give or take) professional male athletes on the rosters of the big four, we have yet to have an openly gay one 16.  So yes, this is news.  This is progress.  Announcing he is gay is not shoving it down anyone’s throat any more than every single act of sexual declaration heterosexuals unknowing commit each day: talking about their spouses, dates, children, hand holding, kisses on the cheek, photos of loved ones on their desks.  Yes, there is much more to Michael Sam than his sexuality, as being gay is more than who we sleep with.

This is about love and equality.  The very principles sport is supposed to embody.


Disclaimer
The views and opinions expressed in posts, articles, or comments published here are those of their respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Global Entropy as a whole, or that of institutions for which Global Entropy or the respective authors are affiliated.

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Notes:

  1. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/anti-gay-demonstrators-in-sochi-identified-as-americans.html 
  2. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/putinsrussia.html 
  3. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/02/did-russia-hack-gay-hook-up-app.html 
  4. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/02/03/teenage-girl-comes-out-to-her-classmates 
  5. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/ioc-defends-arrests-and-beating-of-lgbt-activists.html 
  6. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/ioc-defends-removal-of-italian-lgbt-activist-vladimir-luxuria-from-sochi-olympic-village.html 
  7. http://www.principle6.org/ 
  8. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/maas.html 
  9. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/01/state-department-issues-gay-inclusive.html 
  10. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/02/about-owner-of-brooklyn-nets.html 
  11. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/jon-stewart-wins-internet-forever-response-michael-sam-coming-shesaid/ 
  12. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/02/13/sports-commentator-dale-hansen-of-texas-on-michael-sam-and-the-nfl 
  13. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/msus-rufus-warren-football-is-a-man-sport-and-being-gay-is-not-a-man.html 
  14. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/02/michael-sams-father-struggling-with-his-sons-sexuality.html 
  15. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/opinion/bruni-panic-in-the-locker-room.html?ref=opinion&_r=0 
  16. http://outinleftfieldblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/the-straight-persons-guide-on-how-not-to-react-to-the-michael-sam-news/ 

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