It seems as if every time I've turned around the last few days, there's been another bewilderingly prejudiced decision made by a state legislature, another presidential candidate taking an appalling stance, or some other shocking incident that makes me shake my head.
Here are just a few things that make me want to either weep or break out into a John McEnroe-esque rant:
It's okay to bully as long as you really, really believe in what you're bullying about: Michigan is one of only three states in the US that has not enacted anti-bullying legislation. And now that the state legislature is finally getting around to thinking this is a problem, the Republican-led state senate has passed a piece of legislation so toothless, some say it actually condones bullying. Matt's Safe School Law, named for Matt Epling, a 14-year-old Michigan student who committed suicide after sustained bullying from fellow students, was passed after Republicans added an amendment stipulating that it does not abridge First Amendment free speech rights or impinge on the expression of religious or moral views. So, in essence, if you object to someone's sexuality on religious grounds, it's okay to bully them. The law is so pathetic, Matt Epling's father, Kevin, wrote a letter of protest that state Sen. Glenn Anderson read on the chamber floor during the debate over the measure on Wednesday.
But it was Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer's reaction that rings the clearest.
Separation of church and state? Nah. There's already been abundant proof that many of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination are trying to appeal to the highly conservative factions of their party. A number have taken pledges that if they are elected president, they will push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, reinstate Don't Ask Don't Tell, and make other moves against equality.
Then there's former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. His anti-gay tirades are legendary; many have even commented that he seems almost obsessed with gay people and what they do. And in a recent speech in Iowa, Santorum's obsession has caused him amnesia where the issue of separation of church and state is concerned. You see, according to Santorum, "God's law trumps civil law," especially where issues of equality for gay people are concerned.
Granted, I'm just a wee bit more liberal than Santorum, but I find it really distressing that he and several other Republican candidates keep addressing the issue of God and God's laws. These individuals are running to be president of the entire country, not just one religious group. The laws of my God are different from the laws of Santorum, Bachmann, and others, so does that mean that if one of them are elected president, they'll only represent those who worship their God? These are scary questions to be asking in late 2011.
Take care of your gay kids: keep them in the closet. Such is the advice of Houston Chronicle columnist Kathleen McKinley, whose recent column suggested that parents of LGBTQ teenagers should convince them to stay in the closet, for their own safety, of course. And she came by this epiphany while reading a People magazine article about gay teenagers being bullied and committing suicide.
"Am I mad at the hateful mean kids who bully and tease these teens? You bet I am. But I am just as mad at the idiotic adults who force our adult views on kids, and pull them into our adult world long before they are mature enough to handle it. The 13 year old that killed himself told his Mom he was gay. She said she already knew and hugged him. She said she just assumed that everyone else would be as accepting as she was.
"Really? Have you been around teenagers? They are cruel and mean. They constantly tear each other down. It was bad when I was a teenager, I can only imagine what it’s like now. No, I don’t have to imagine how it is now. This is how it is now. Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later."
McKinley then proceeds to say that gay-straight alliances are harmful ("The idea of a high school club based on who you want to sleep with is absurd to begin with."), accuses LGBTQ kids of "flaunting their sexuality" and says the "It Gets Better" campaign designed to prevent bullied youth from committing suicide is actually causing more of them to do so, because "it will never get better."
I hope no kids commit suicide after their parents tell them to stay in the closet, because this column is as close to malpractice as it can be...
Bieber's baby? Say it ain't so. From the infuriating to the somewhat ridiculous. Nineteen-year-old Mariah Yeater claims that her baby, Tristyn, was fathered by none other than supposedly squeaky clean teen sensation Justin Bieber. (I might have thrown up a bit in my mouth on this one.)
I don't know what's crazier in this entire scenario: the fact that authorities have said they'd pursue filing statutory rape charges against Yeater if her claim is true (Bieber was 16 years old when the alleged encounter occurred), or the death threats Yeater has gotten from the legions of angry Bieber fans. (Seriously.) Eager to clear his name, Bieber has consented to a paternity test. The whole thing makes me shudder, but I guess it takes all types...