Moving towards equality

Basic Rights Oregon - Victory - House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2

via Basic Rights Oregon:

Today, after nearly 4 hours of debate on the House floor, both The Oregon Family Fairness Act (House Bill 2007) and The Oregon Equality Act (Senate Bill 2) passed the Oregon House with bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 2 will ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas such as employment, housing, public accommodation and public education.

House Bill 2007 will create a new statute in Oregon law, separate from Oregon’s marriage statutes, to provide same-sex couples with Domestic Partnerships. These Domestic Partnerships provide Oregon’s same-sex couples and their families with many of the basic protections, rights, and responsibilities under state law, currently only afforded through a marriage contract. It differs substantially from marriage in several ways – including that the protections of Domestic Partnerships are not portable outside the boundaries of Oregon.

The Next Steps:
House Bill 2007 will now move to the Oregon Senate for committee hearing and floor vote. Senate Bill 2, which passed the Senate on March 21st in a vote of 21-7, will go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote on amendments to the religious exemption made in the House Rules Committee.

If passed in the Senate, as expected, the bills will be sent to Governor Kulongoski, who has pledged to sign both pieces of legislation.

bell hooks at Lewis & Clark College

bell hooks photo

Here is the audio recording from bell hooks‘ talk at Lewis & Clark College from February 1, 2006 [88 MB MP3].

Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Angela Davis was the keynote speaker for a recent social justice conference at Oregon State University. The Your Voice, Your Conference: Awareness, Solidarity, and Action explored “how systems of oppression impact our lives and communities.”

I think I have a social justice crush on Angela Davis. More than 1,000 people attended her talk at Oregon State. Two professors from OSU had the privilege of being her students at UC Santa Cruz. Angela Davis could have talked for a week and I think we all would have listened.

Angela Davis‘ talk covered many topics including: historical memory, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Marriage, Activism, Racism, Critical Awareness and Prison Systems.

Davis talked about the importance of “historical memory” and the Civil Rights Movement. “The figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been set aside and isolated and represented as the lone historical figure, so everyone else who participated in the Civil Rights Movement falls away.”

Davis mentioned that she took umbrage with the term “diversity.” She said that “Diversity is difference that doesn’t make a difference.” Her comments were extremely relevant for institutions of higher education. Enrolling students of color, women, students with disabilities, lgbt students, and students with high financial need does not mean that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia/heterosexism, and classism will simply disappear. However, “diversity” is thrown around as if it’s a magic anti-oppression elixir. Without social justice oriented, anti-oppression oriented, anti-racist oriented educational efforts, diversity cannot affect change amongst members of the dominant paradigm.

Apparently, both Condoleeza Rice and Angela Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis mentioned that people often attempt to refer to Rice as her “homegirl” (cue laughter from 1,000 people) because they share the experience of growing up in the Jim Crow south.

According to Davis, “Rice narrates her life as triumph over racism.” Davis said she needs to constantly “disassociate her story” from Rice’s story. “How can I claim my story is a triumph? We’ve won some victories..some important victories…, but from the time I was quite small, I learned from my mother that it was about collective victory…community triumph, not about an individual rising above the rest. Affirmative action was a strategy designed to enable communities to move forward, collectives to move forward.”

I attempted to record her entire talk, but my pda wasn’t working correctly so I have over an hour of audio that I pieced together from 40 audio snippets.
The fidelity isn’t the greatest but the message is amazing.

“The victories that we win are not always the victories for which we fought.” — Angela Davis

Full audio file [mp3]

Heterosexism + Sexism in New York Times

My head just exploded after I read an article in the New York Times entitled “51% of Women are Now Living Without Spouses.” I find this article to be terribly vexing. It is unbelievably heterosexist and sexist.

Apparently, the New York Times’ Sam Roberts believes that marriage is only between a woman and a man. I beg to differ.

The article also contains this gem of a quote from William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution:

“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage…”

How can it possibly be “worse” that women are “less dependent on men or the institution of marriage?” My feminist hackles are at their maximum.

Please read the article and then let’s discuss it in the comments.

Political Correctness

Kai Chang has written the best critique of “political correctness” that I’ve ever read.

Simply put, the great “PC” cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure. All politics deal with power relations, and in the debate over America’s alleged climate of “political correctness”, there’s a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The megaphone-wielders feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the under-represented simply are oppressed.

Pride Panel and Coming Out

I co-facilitated my first pride panel today. It was very exciting. CM asked me to facilitate yesterday. I was very honored. There were over 50 people in the classrom. I think I had butterflys in all of my extremities. Thankfully the panelists knew what they were doing. I am grateful for the experience.

I briefly mentioned my own coming out story. I didn’t want to take time away from the panel but I did think it was important that the students (a class at OSU) heard an ally coming out story.

Eric Stoller at the Day of Speaking Out

I came out as an ally while I was at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It was during an event called the Day of Speaking Out. People were invited to share their stories at a podium in the campus quad. I stepped up to the podium and talked about my experience as an ally, my homophobic past, and what I was doing as an ally. It felt great.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

Coming Out as a Straight Ally
A straight ally is someone who is not gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) but personally advocates for GLBT equal rights and fair treatment. Straight allies are some of the most effective and powerful advocates for the GLBT movement. These allies have proven invaluable personally and politically, and are increasingly important in the fight for GLBT equality. Indeed, their voices often have been heard while those of GLBT people have been ignored.

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

The The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

No longer satisfied with “mere acceptance” by our society, heterosexual political pressure groups have launched a well-planned, well-financed campaign, which, if left unchecked, threatens to destroy the most fundamental structures of American society. This report considers the implications of the heterosexual agenda (both overt and hidden), the problems it has already caused and its potentially disasterous results for society.

Check out the 36 page PDF file.


The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths is a parody. I wrote it to show how Focus on the Family, American Family Association, and many others produce some pretty convincing anti-gay books, videos, web pages, and other tracts. In doing so, I used social science research exactly as they do. The only difference between what I did and what they do is this: I showed you exactly what I did every step of the way.

I have counted fifteen key steps to writing an antigay tract. But there is one common element that ties these steps together: fear. Each step builds on the previous one, reinforcing the things the writer wants his readers to be afraid of. It starts with a fearful premise reinforced with fearful “facts,” and leads to the fearful consequences of those “facts.” It ends with a fearful depiction of the future for our society if these fearful problems aren’t dealt with.

The Common Elements of Oppressions

The Common Elements of Oppressions
by Suzanne Pharr

It is virtually impossible to view one oppression, such as sexism or homophobia, in isolation because they are all connected: sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, anti-Semitism, ageism. They are linked by a common origin-economic power and control-and by common methods of limiting, controlling and destroying lives. There is no hierarchy of oppressions. Each is terrible and destructive. To eliminate one oppression successfully, a movement has to include work to eliminate them all or else success will always be limited and incomplete.

To understand the connection among the oppressions, we must examine their common elements. The first is a defined norm, a standard of rightness and often righteousness wherein all others are judged in relation to it. This norm must be backed up with institutional power, economic power, and both institutional and individual violence. It is the combination of these three elements that makes complete power and control possible. In the United States, that norm is male, white, heterosexual, Christian, temporarily able-bodied, youthful, and has access to wealth and resources. It is important to remember that an established norm does not necessarily represent a majority in terms of numbers; it represents those who have ability to exert power and control over others.

Continue reading The Common Elements of Oppressions