poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Group Plans To Picket Transgender Council Member

A Kansas man says members of his church will picket in Rapid City next month to protest city council member Tom Murphy's declaration that he'll have a sex-change operation.

The Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka says picketers will protest Murphy's lifestyle and the apparent acceptance Murphy has received in Rapid City on June 27th and 28th. The picketing will include five Rapid City churches.

Murphy, meanwhile, says the picketing won't affect him, and that he might chat with the picketers or bring them snacks and lemonade.

The Rapid City Police Department plans to monitor the protests. A clergyman at one of the churches says Phelps does not speak for the church as a whole.


Poland sees violence at gay march; group condemns EU integration
Ben Townley, UK

Hundreds of gay rights activists endured verbal abuse and had eggs and stones thrown at them as they took part in a march through the city of Krakow over the weekend.

Around 800 people marched for their rights in the city, which has been at the focus of gay rights in recent weeks. Gay rights groups had planned to combine the march with a small festival of "tolerance", featuring art, music and films that were LGBT friendly.

However, the Campaign Against Homophobia had complained that local media had started their own crusade against the group, claiming they had scheduled the event to coincide with a national religious holiday so as to inflame conservative groups and raise publicity.

The group had rescheduled the protest for Friday last week in a bid to avoid clashes, despite conservative and religious groups calling for the march to be banned.


Legislature to debate gay marriage
NAACP chairman urges black caucus to oppose measure.
John Hill

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Republican authors of the proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage are bringing the issue up twice this week.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, a candidate for Congress against Bobby Jindal, is first at bat in the House Civil Law Committee this morning. Sen. John Hainkel, R-New Orleans, will bring up his proposal, approved last week by a Senate committee, on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Julian Bond, national chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, weighed into the fray by urging Legislative Black Caucus members to vote against the propositions, which he said represents discrimination.

“Discrimination is wrong no matter who the victim is,” Bond wrote in individual letters to black legislators. “There are no ‘special rights’ in America; we are all entitled to life, liberty and happiness’ pursuit.


Group fights marriage plan with print ad
By Judy Gibbs Robinson

An Oklahoma gay rights organization placed an ad in a national newspaper Monday urging companies thinking of doing business in Oklahoma to reconsider.

The $10,000, quarter-page ad in USA Today said Oklahoma is "poised to amend its constitution to permanently enshrine discrimination" against gays and lesbians. It was headlined "Oklahoma Going Out of Business" followed by a state map with a "closed" sign hanging from a point near the center of the state.

The state Legislature last month approved and sent to the voters a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The measure will be on the November general election ballot.

The Senate author of the marriage amendment condemned the ad, paid for by Cimarron Equality Oklahoma, as economic extortion and predicted it would backfire.


Transsexual hopes for baby

A transsexual is reportedly hoping to have a baby with his lesbian girlfriend using sperm which he froze before his operation.

The London couple are said to have flown to the US because they want to use embryo screening to ensure the baby is a girl, a process illegal in Britain.

The Brisbane Courier-Mail says the arrangement means the child will have two "mothers", even though one will be her biological father.


Judges too biased, inexperienced: Anwar

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) - Jailed ex-deputy leader Anwar Ibrahim failed in a bid Monday to have two of three judges assigned to hear his final appeal against a sodomy conviction step down over claims of bias or inexperience.

An angry Anwar accused Malaysia's highest court of orchestrating a judicial charade and threatened to withdraw his appeal after the Federal Court panel ruled that none of its members would be removed from the case, though he backed down later.

"I have no confidence in all of you," Anwar told the judges. "I see no point in proceeding if this will be a foregone conclusion. This is a facade of a fair trial."

Judge Abdul Hamid Mohamad, whom Anwar's lawyers had sought to have removed from the appeal for saying last year that Anwar's case threatened public order, replied that the former deputy prime minister would receive a fair hearing. Anwar and his legal team conferred during a recess to decide whether to continue with the appeal, his final chance at winning his freedom in a court battle that is now in its sixth year.


Gayday! Gayday!: Couples need waivers for Monday nuptials
By Thomas Caywood

Gay and lesbian couples have been waiting a long time for the right to marry, and many have no intention of waiting another three days after the Supreme Judicial Court's landmark gay-marriage ruling takes effect Monday.

     That means judges, who can waive the required three-day waiting period between applying for a marriage license and receiving it, may find brides and grooms outnumbering defendants in their courtrooms early next week.

     ``I do expect an influx, but I don't really know how much of an influx,'' said Orleans District Court Clerk Stephen Ross, whose jurisdiction includes Provincetown, a Cape Cod community where hundreds of gay couples are expected to tie the knot.

     Ross said his staff will begin accepting waiver forms, which typically take 10 to 15 minutes to prepare for a judge's signature, when his office opens at 8:30 a.m.


Despite Gay Activism, UMC Conservatives Gaining Ground
Jim Brown & Jenni Parker
Agape Press

Conservatives in the United Methodist Church garnered some hard-earned victories at the denomination's quadrennial General Conference held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, over the last two weeks. Nevertheless, there remains a growing divide in the denomination over the issue of human sexuality.

Much to the chagrin of liberal activists in the United Methodist Church, the denomination voted down efforts to amend its Book of Discipline to be more accepting of homosexuality. Instead, the General Conference soundly reaffirmed the church's position that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

Over the ten days of the conference, the nearly 1,000 United Methodist delegates voted on a series of issues related to homosexuality. Although some resolutions passed by a narrow margin, the delegates still ended up strengthening the church's disapproval of homosexual practice and reaffirming its prohibitions against funding of pro-homosexual advocacy and against performing same-sex unions in churches. The assembly also voted to make the UMC the first mainline denomination to endorse publicly civil laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The General Conference also reasserted the requirement that clergy be celibate if single and monogamous if married, and the denomination's Judicial Council ruled that a bishop cannot appoint a self-avowed practicing homosexual. In light of this ruling, Bible-believing Methodists are hopeful that Bishop Elias Galvan from the Pacific Northwest Conference will not appoint Karen Dammann, a lesbian minister who was recently acquitted of violating of violating Christian teaching.


Tampa student settles lawsuit over yearbook dress code
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - A teen whose portrait was kept out of her high school yearbook after she rejected a dress code has settled her federal lawsuit against the Hillsborough County school district.

Nikki Youngblood filed the suit in 2002, accusing the district and Robinson High School leaders of discrimination and violating her rights to free expression and equal protection under the law.

The settlement upholds a principal's right to set a dress code, but allows a student to appeal that standard. No money was awarded.

"I'm just happy that no other female student will have to be excluded from her senior yearbook just because she doesn't conform to someone else's gender stereotypes," Youngblood said.


What's so funny about cross-dressing?
by Charlotte Suthrell

Our attitude towards transvestism says more about us than we realise, writes Charlotte Suthrell Even in these supposedly liberal times, reference to transvestism provokes hilarity or mockery. Men who wear women’s clothes are seen as indulging in a clandestine, minority activity, and largely written off as a rather unsavoury group of sexual deviants.

My own involvement in their world was initially prompted by an interest in the significance of clothes. As an anthropologist specialising in material culture — my department at the time was the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford which overflows with a wondrous range of cultural artefacts — I was astonished to find that although such aspects of material culture as basket–weaving and ceramics had been intensely examined by anthropologists, remarkably little attention had been paid to clothes, in particular to dress, as a marker, a way of announcing distinctions. This seemed an odd omission. Clothing is, after all, one of the most elaborate codes we possess: it is an extraordinarily potent signifier, replete with symbolic meanings. And it is also pretty well ever–present. You may not walk down the street every day bearing your distinctive coloured pot or your carefully woven basket, but you are unlikely to appear in public unclothed.

Probably the simplest distinction that can be found in the complex language of clothes is that between male and female clothing. Almost everywhere in the world — except perhaps in enforced sartorial regimes like Maoist China — clothing is, to a greater or less degree, gender–differentiated. Modern industrialised societies like our own may have eclectic and often ambiguous dress codes, but differentiation is still evident. It somehow seems crucial to us as human beings that visual clues mark out who is male and who is female. There are, of course, certain ‘biological’ reasons for this distinction being marked. We don’t want to court the wrong sex. But this does nothing to explain the different degrees of distaste and opprobrium which are attracted by those who choose to wear clothes belonging to the opposite sex. It is now, for example, perfectly possible for women in the UK to wear just about every item of traditional male dress without raising a single eyebrow. The situation is utterly different for men who choose to wear female garments. In a culture which at least aspires towards some sort of sexual egalitarianism, in which there is an openness about sexual debate, and much talk among feminists and others about the importance of breaking down essentialist notions of gender, why is it that male transvestism should attract so much hostility and ridicule?


Union moves to bar gay couples from receiving benefits
The Associated Press

BOSTON -- A Massachusetts labor union with about 6,000 members has amended its benefits plan to exclude gay married couples from receiving health and pension benefits, a move denounced by some other union leaders.

Trustees and administrators of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 benefits plan issued a clarification of the phrase "dependent spouse" to mean "a person of the opposite sex."

The change was announced in a letter sent to members throughout eastern Massachusetts on Friday and obtained by The Boston Globe.

A decision by the Supreme Judicial Court declaring gay marriage constitutional in the state goes into effect Monday.


Ben Townley, UK

Websites that boost extreme hatred towards minorities, including lesbian and gay people, are on the increase, according to a new study.

Web filtering company SurfControl says that the online promotion of extreme hatred towards LGBTs, Jews, Muslims and black people has seen an unprecedented global growth - jumping 26% since January this year.

Additionally, the company claims that the number of hate sites has risen by around 300% since 2000, with 10,926 sites currently in operation, many of which urge readers to use violence to solve their problems with minorities.

In a statement released last week, the company gave one example of a white supremacist site that had expanded so as to include a dating section and a $1,000 scholarship for the best essay on "actionable, practical solutions" to dealing with non-white people.


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