From St. Paul to St. Petersburg

First, I want to extend my congratulations to Minnesota, the (very soon to be) 12th state to officially legalize same sex marriage.  As of when I’m writing this (the night before, as usual) the bill hasn’t been signed, but Gov. Mark Dayton made it clear in previous statements that he would sign it as soon as it hit his desk.  We’re 24% of the way there!

Celebration in the Minnesota State Legislature. (Image Credit: Jim Mone/AP Photo)

Now, we need Oregon and California to finally get on board, and we’ll have all of New England and the West Coast.  Kind of like playing Risk.  Meanwhile, we all kind of knew that something like this would make Michelle Bachmann’s head implode, if only just a little.  While not directly related to the aforementioned legislation, this video shows her at a prayer event at the US Capitol, in which she claims that both September 11th attacks on the nation were the result of God’s judgment. No word on what Obama’s election and the growing insanity of the GOP represents, other than maybe God forsaking them in favor of people a little less unhinged.

It’s really kind of freaky since she’s speaking in the Capitol Building as if she were in a church … which, given her religious leanings, I’m not too sure she’s capable of telling the difference. According to her, we’re supposed to believe that the solution to the “decline” we’re experiencing in the United States is to “humble ourselves before an Almighty God”, “repent of our sins” and to “seek [His] ways”.

TAKE ME NOW O LORD! I’M READY!
(from The Advocate)

And, to further facilitate this, she proposes another day of prayer on September 11th of this year: 9-1-1 Pray … because, according to her, “is there anything better we can do on that day other than to humble ourselves and to pray to an almighty God”.

I can honestly think of quite a few things more useful and productive to do on that day – or any other – than to kneel down and mumble to yourself while begging the mercy of a God who clearly didn’t mind allowing all of these horrible things to happen in the first place. I honestly don’t think appealing to his sense of compassion is really going to make a difference in light of everything he’s done to the entire world to date – plagues, war, famine, natural disasters, etc.  But hey, give it a shot. Personally, I think my time would be better spent donating to a food bank or Goodwill, giving blood, or some other activity with real, tangible goals and measurable results. I’m sure praying makes some people feel better, but it doesn’t withstand scrutiny when focused towards mass events like hunger, terrorism, or disease.

And let’s not ignore the fact that Bachmann – a US Congresswoman –  is calling everyone to prayer inside the Capitol Building.  I’m assuming people are aware that this kind of behavior runs afoul of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution … but at this point I’m not sure anyone cares because it’s Michelle Bachmann.  It’s kind of what she does and people have stopped paying attention.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we have something far more disturbing.  23-year old Vladislav Tomovoi of Volgograd (southern Russia) was beaten to death by his “friends” after revealing to them that he was homosexual.  (WARNING:  this is pretty graphic):

The perpetrators reportedly inserted beer bottles in his private parts and cut his penis. Investigators say the victim’s head was smashed with a 20 kg rock, making it difficult for the authorities to identify the mutilated body.

The man was drinking with two of his friends aged 22 and 27 when the attack took place. His friends pounced on him as soon as he revealed he was gay, according to police. “The motive for the crime was the [victim’s] non-traditional sexual orientation,” said senior official Andrei Gapchenko. 

While two suspects are in police custody, a witness has also been got hold of. Local reports said the attackers even attempted to burn the body.

Vladislav Tomovoi, the victim of the attack (Reuters)

The two suspects are facing 15 years in prison for murder … and it’s being prosecuted (or at least admitted) as a hate crime, which is progress considering the severity of homophobia-related assaults that take place there on a regular basis.

For me, this is just something to keep in mind for a little perspective.  There’s a nationwide struggle going on here to ensure members of the LGBT community are treated equally – in the workplace, in their homes, and in their marriages.  It’s a long, tough fight, but we’re making progress.  It’s even been surprisingly rapid in recent years.  Even with the difficulties and setbacks we encounter, it’s articles like this I read from other parts of the world that make me realize how (relatively) minor they are when viewed through the eyes of a person living in places like Russia, Iran, or sub-Saharan Africa.

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5 Responses to From St. Paul to St. Petersburg

  1. Dan Adler says:

    “…viewed through the eyes of a person living in places like Russia, Iran, or sub-Saharan Africa.” or even closer to home: We don’t hear about it much, but this sort of behaviour happens right here in the western hemisphere. No, I’m not talking about some backward area like Cuba, or Bolivia, or Wyoming. I’m talking about the tourist mecca of Jamaica. A land where they warn the straight tourists not to go beyond the resort enclaves, and where gay tourists would be (at best) reviled (a land where gay locals are treated like our friend in Russia).

    • Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about the stark contrast that exists in some places between the “front” put up for visitors versus the rest of the island. Back when my family vacationed in the Bahamas, we ran into a couple of families who wandered around on their own who mentioned the same thing. They didn’t have any real issues, but the distinction was disturbingly apparent. It doesn’t surprise me that places like that still have pretty serious issues with violence against the LGBT community. Do you know if it’s any better in American territories like Puerto Rico, Midway, Virgin Islands, etc.?

      • Dan Adler says:

        I dunno from Midway. And my info on Puerto Rico is out of date. But as for the VI, there is an LGBT community which is more or less ignored. Meaning if nobody actually notices it, nobody gets beat up. There is even at least one club (that I know of). Of course, the VI islands are MUCH smaller than Jamaica, and there’s never any attempt to restrict tourists to the resorts (we WANT ’em out and about and spending money!)

  2. Erin W says:

    Also, a lot of this being a minor issue is, as always, dependent on race and class. Outright murders are perhaps uncommon, but there’s plenty of anti-gay violence in parts of Philadelphia, at least in the form of assaults. Trans women of color are especially at risk.

    • Sure, and I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m trivializing that. There’s still a long way to go even with the growing societal acceptance of the LGBT community and the blue states pushing for marriage equality. Are attacks against minority trans women prosecuted with any regularity?

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