LGBTQ+/Allied Rights


GENERALLY SPEAKING

  • EQUAL GOVERNMENT TREATMENT FOR ALL CITIZENS.
  • EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL & EQUAL RESPONSIBILITY FROM ALL.
  • CONSISTENT & REASONABLE RESPECT FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION.

DON'T OVERLOOK RURAL PRIDE.  PUBLISHED IN THE FARGO FORUM NEWSPAPER AND THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER IN JUNE, 2023.

June is the time of the year for Pride festivities and I plan on attending in beautiful Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. I bring this up to remind people that not all LGBTQ+/allied people live in upscale, metropolitan enclaves.

Yes, geographic stereotypes can oversimplify lives and hurt people's feelings. I am not suggesting that life in the Fargo/Moorhead metro area is some sort of utopia, nor is my more rural neck of the woods a dystopia.

I seek to initiate a conversation about how LGBTQ/allied people find a fair and proper place within a part of Minnesota that is a bit more rural, slow-paced, and conservative.

To help launch the conservation in my neck of the woods, West-Central Minnesota, I started a FaceBook group called the Prairie Equality Initiative .

The LGBTQ and allied community is quite diverse, but sometimes the diversity gets glossed over or even whitewashed by well-meaning, and well-financed, urban activists. Not every queer or allied person can live in the big city, nor do they necessarily want to. Thanks to, mostly, volunteers groups like the Prairie Equality Initiative exist. Pride festivities are happening in Alexandria, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, and Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

I intend to keep the conversation going and, perhaps that is what Pride is really supposed to be all about; an ongoing conversation about how human beings everywhere can live their lives free of harassment and unfair discrimination.

POTENTIAL LEGAL TROUBLES ABOUND WITH NORTH DAKOTA'S ANTI-TRANSGENDER BILLS.  PUBLISHED IN THE FARGO FORUM NEWSPAPER IN MARCH, 2023.

 

If North Dakota makes it illegal for a man to wear a dress in public but does not do so for a woman wearing pants, then the state is probably looking at an equal protection lawsuit. This is just one of the potential legal problems I see unfolding with the latest rash of bills that are primarily targeting transgender and intersex people.

Drag performances generally do not meet the definition of obscenity, even if they are objectively not appropriate for minors. If some performances are not an “all ages” show, that is an opportunity for private citizens, from all walks of life, to come together and develop some sort of content-based rating system, similar to what already exists for films, television shows, comic books and video games.

Kids do not have the same rights as adults and yes, parents do have considerable leeway to raise their children according to their own standards. However, kids are entitled to a life in safe homes and a safe community. They generally have the right to safe schools and yes, access to health care is a human right, at least in theory.

When the state outright bans gender-affirming care for minors, as opposed to having reasonable regulations, courts are going to look at what the current process is to gain approval for surgery and what the latest science says about minors and gender-affirming care.

The fact that the ban is being backed mostly by ideological groups, as opposed to scientific ones, will matter in a court of law.

The fact that the majority of legislators seem to have an overall bias against transgender and intersex people as a class will matter in a court of law.

If I am aware of these potential legal troubles for the State of North Dakota, I would assume that most legislators are either unaware of these troubles or do not really care about the final outcome as much as they do the cultural war optics.

The taxpayer will, alas, be on the hook for funding the state's defense of these laws.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, LGBTQ RIGHTS AND THE SUPREME COURT.  PUBLISHED IN THE FARGO FORUM NEWSPAPER IN DECEMBER, 2022

 

The Colorado web page developer that refuses to create pages for gay couples and the gay couple that she turned away have something in common; they are both idiots. Turning away a couple because of their race or sex is idiotic and, to be polite about it, this is not the best time to be taking a gay rights case to the United States Supreme Court. Hopefully, the justices will defend the freedom of everyone.

Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and as someone who belongs to a minority religion, Jewish, and who grew up in Saudi Arabia, I reject the idea that the government should be in the business of telling a person of faith what to believe about marriage or anything else for that matter.

Couples planning their wedding should not want to do business with idiots, and I doubt that there is a shortage of people willing to offer their expressive wedding services to all couples. Mind you, we are talking about a couple that did not get their first choice of web page developer for their wedding. We are not talking about the government itself or medium-to-large-sized businesses, especially if they are offering services a bit more essential to life than a wedding web page.

The Constitution demands equal government treatment for all citizens. Laws designed to ensure basic fair play in the private sector work best when they focus on things necessary to live and have an equal shot at the American dream, such as education, employment, health care, housing, and yes, public accommodations. However, reasonable exceptions to fair play laws are not new.

Equal opportunity in employment generally requires a company to have a minimum number of employees, just as housing discrimination laws typically do not apply to someone renting out their one spare room. Private, voluntary clubs and organizations that exist to promote a particular religious or political message can generally exclude people based on their message or creed. Saying that small-time business owners can refuse to offer their expressive services to any couple based on their stated beliefs or creed, is not too unusual from how fair play laws have developed in America.

As a strategic matter, giving the Supreme Court an opportunity to undermine LGBTQ rights is not a smart move. As a result of this lawsuit, the freedom to marry for interracial and gay couples could very well be voided by the high court just as a majority of justices did with reproductive rights and as they seem to be doing with voting rights. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and there are many, more pressing challenges impacting the rights of LGBTQ people than having to shop around for a wedding web page designer. If you do not know what some of these pressing challenges are, allow me to list just two of them.

It was not surprising to me that Rep. Fischbach voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. Western Minnesota has an LGBTQ community, but regional groups, like the Prairie Equality Initiative, do not have the resources to even begin to address homophobia and transphobia. 

Thankfully, western Minnesota is not, Qatar where homosexuality remains a crime and where only one Qatari has felt safe enough to come out as gay, and then only when he moved to America.

Maybe, instead of hiring expensive lawyers to force an idiot to make you a wedding web page, and possibly undermine legal equality in the process, people could help change things in places such as western Minnesota and Qatar.

NOT UP IN ARMS OVER GUNS, GAY MARRIAGE.  PUBLISHED IN THE PERHAM FOCUS NEWSPAPER IN MAY, 2013.

 

OK, I am not the smartest person in the world, but, seriously, why should I freak out, run for the hills and get all up in arms about gun owners or gay marriage?

If a citizen wants to own a gun or many guns, that does not need to affect my life or my equal rights.

The only real question that we should be asking gun owners is whether or not they are responsible, law-abiding and relatively sane people. If they are, then what exactly is the big deal?

If a citizen wants to date or marry a lady or a dude, that does not need to affect my life or my equal rights.   If they are responsible, law-abiding and relatively sane, then I don’t see how two people’s gender, race, color, creed, class, politics or physical handicap has much to do with secular marriage.

Why are people gay? Why are people gun owners? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a noise? No doubt these are all good questions to ask, but I am not some professor, politician or lobbyist who can make a living off these sorts of loaded questions.

Peddling hatred and intolerance against people that do not look, think, pray, vote or live like me may be a great career move for some people, but not me. I have to live, for the most part, in the real world, where there are only so many hours in the day and lots of work and family-related stuff to get done.

So, if you want me to freak out about something that is probably not going to affect me in a bad way or violate my rights, then I need a bit more than a B-movie inspired serial about how someone should be given more attention, money and power so that they can stop the big, bad ‘redneck gun lunatics’ or the ‘militant homosexuals.’

ON PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO REMOVE "SEXUAL ORIENTATION" FROM THE MINNESOTA HUMAN RIGHTS ACT.  PUBLISHED IN THE FARGO FORUM NEWSPAPER IN FEB., 2003.

 

When former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott put his foot in his mouth and smoked the shoe strings, the Republican leadership distanced itself from Lott. Lott's fall from power was a sign that the Republican Party leadership was serious about building a broader and moderate base within the party. Yet apparently the message did not trickle down to some Republicans in Minnesota.

I was appalled to learn of the introduction of the House File 341, which would repeal civil rights protections for straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans. HF 341 would also withdraw straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from the scope of Minnesota's hate crimes provisions, even as more states continue to extend such laws, and when even Attorney General John Ashcroft pursues sexual orientation based hate crime charges against people under federal law.

Adding salt onto the wound, the bill would also remove an acknowledgement that gay and lesbian people were victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

No other state in the country has ever taken such a step backwards in the area of civil rights. No other state has repealed previously enacted hate crimes provisions, and no other civilized country in the world has reversed a condemnation of Nazi persecution. Supporters of the bill will assert that the inclusion of sexual orientation in the state's anti-discriminations laws actually discriminate against religious organizations. However, a quick reading of the law suggests otherwise.

A quick reading of the civil rights law ( www.humanrights . state.mn.us/) and you will find that youth groups, small businesses and religious organizations are exempt from the anti-discrimination law as it applies to sexual orientation.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has come out against the repeal efforts. Yet this bill was introduced by a Republican and has a good chance of passing in the Republican controlled House. This forces me to ask, where have all the moderate Republicans gone?

THE HATE STATE MYTH/A BETTER MEMORIAL FOR MATHEW SHEPARD.  PUBLISHED IN REASON MAGAZINE IN FALL OF 1999.  (NOTE: I STILL READ REASON MAGAZINE, BUT I GENERALLY DISAGREE WITH IT.  I AM NOT A LIBERTARIAN, ALTHOUGH I DO HAVE SOME CIVIL LIBERTARIAN IDEAS NOW AND AGAIN.   I HAVE ALSO SINCE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT HATE CRIME LAWS CAN, WHEN PROPERLY WRITTEN, SERVE A VALID PURPOSE WITHOUT UNDERMING THE FIRST AMENDMENT).

 

A Better Memorial

I wish to thank Robert O. Blanchard for articulating the issues of Matthew Shepard's death and pending hate crime laws with such clarity, such reason, and such compassion ("The `Hate State' Myth," May). The article serves as a powerful reminder of both the terrible nature of the crime and the poor memorial that hate crime legislation pays to Mathew Shepard and others who fall prey to violent crime.

If I had any criticism to levy upon the article itself, it is that the author did not write more about alternatives to hate crime laws or of the existence of organizations such as Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, Log Cabin Republicans, Libertarians for Gay and Lesbians Concerns, the Independent Gay Forum, and Highly Productive Publishing Page. These groups address gay rights in a forum respectful of the free market and individual liberty.

If Matthew Shepard is to be remembered as something more than a two-dimensional poster boy for hate crime legislation and religious "God Hates Faggots" groups it will be because his name is invoked to celebrate individuality and secure liberty. So let us never forget Matthew Shepard and let us implore peaceful means to fight homophobia. Let us push for pro-liberty changes, from abolishing sodomy laws to ending the military ban to the many other areas where the government has stuck its nose where it never should have.

LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE ARAB NEWS NEWSPAPER IN 1998.  THE FACT THAT IT WAS PUBLISHED (AND THAT I WROTE IT) WERE QUITE DARING FOR THE TIMES.