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It’s so encouraging - and beyond my imagination of just a few years ago - to see lesbians and gay men proud to be lining up for marriage licenses in big cities, small towns, and rural communities. A true grassroots tsunami of unity and support demanding equality while opening the floodgates of visibility to show the good, the bad and the beautiful

The Good: Led by the Supreme Court’s “Marriage Equality” soap opera, Americans are being bombarded with amazingly positive images and personal stories about our community. Across the nation, lesbian and gay couples are leading the way.

SCOTUS obviously “tipped it’s hand” on its projected June ruling on marriage equality when it refused Alabama’s request to override a federal court’s order striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Now, there are only 13 unlucky states that do not recognize same-sex marriage; that has made religious people nervous.

Very nervous.

The Bad: Making front page news is the Mormon Church which is trying to find a way to deal with LGBT Mormons. Despite the church’s costly 2008 victory backing California’s Prop 8, they have seen grassroots support for their anti-LGBT efforts erode to the point where they are now in full retreat and offering to support LGBT non-discrimination laws. Of course, change does not come easily for people rigorously indoctrinated against our community. The church is demanding a “religious exemption” to the very non-discrimination laws they are offering to support.

Hmm, sounds to me like the fox hasn’t ever let the chickens in the hen house. Finally, when the fox must welcome the chickens home, the fox says, “Oh sure, come on in, I’ll guard us against you.” Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, called the Mormon’s actions "deeply flawed."

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According to James Esseks, director of the LGBT Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, “The First Amendment's protection of religious freedom does not give any of us the right to harm others, and that's what it sounds like the proposal from the Mormon church would do - it would allow a doctor to refuse to care for a lesbian because of his religious beliefs, for example."

More Bad: The biggest recent front page public display of religious intolerance belongs to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone for trying to impose “morality clauses” on teachers, staff and administrators in
his diocese admonishing them to “conform their hearts, minds and consciences, as well as their public and private behavior, ever more closely to the truths taught by the Catholic Church.” Those who do not will be dealt with “on a case-by-case basis.”

And, just what are these “morality clauses”? His newly released handbook asks employees to “affirm and believe” that “adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations” are “gravely evil” and that “civil law preserve the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

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By including homosexual relations, the Archbishop is actually up against Pope Francis who has said that: “Homosexuals have gifts to offer the Church” and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” In defense, Cordileone is saying that his handbook “ not anti-anyone. It’s not anti-anything,” stressing that no one would be forced to sign a handbook oath.

An open letter from Bay Area “people of faith” — to be published as a paid ad in March in the National Catholic Reporter — says Cordileone’s action “creates a repressive environment in which not only dissent, but any critical thought, robust exchange of ideas and genuine dialogue are discouraged and punishable by loss of livelihood.”

Will the Pope react?

Oh, and my reaction? Hmmm, where is the moral outrage over young children being sexually abused? Where is the will to rid the ranks of pedophile priests - and others - within the Church? Are these not up to the level of the other “morality clauses” the Archbishop mentions?

Along with the grassroots, there is the mainstreaming of top level lesbians and gay stars arriving in people’s front rooms via television, many on a daily basis.

By the way, the Archdiocese of San Francisco has settled 101 abuse cases and paid $68 million in settlements from 2003 to 2011. However, the fact that even serial abusers have escaped criminal punishment have led the church to engage in a series of highly emotional meetings with Bay Area victims. Any moral responsibilities here, Archbishop Cordileone?

The Beautiful: Along with the grassroots, there is the mainstreaming of top level lesbians and gay stars arriving in people’s front rooms via television, many on a daily basis including: Ellen DeGeneres (who is becoming a 21st century icon a la Lucille Ball), Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, Ted Allen, Neil Patrick Harris, Sam Smith, Don Lemon, Sarah Gilbert, Robin Roberts, Jane Lynch and RuPaul.

The More Beautiful: I particularly enjoy seeing grassroots LGBT folk who are visible in greater numbers and frequency on popular TV games shows such as “Let’s Make A Deal,” “Wheel of Fortune,” and “The Price is Right.” Who can’t relate to the happiness and joy of lesbians and gay men who are contestants and then are delighted to introduce their same-sex partners as they vie for prizes?

The Most Beautiful: Other incredible personalities include the man-to-woman stories of former Olympic athlete and hoary head of the Kardashian family, Bruce Jenner, and former Army PFC. Bradley Manning, of Wikileaks fame, who is in the process of becoming Chelsea Manning. The new news? It’s been accepted that the Army is obligated to provide and pay for her hormone treatments — just as if she was confined to a civilian federal prison.

And who, among us, are not wide-eyed at members of our amazing transgender community when audiences wildly applaud their openness as they strut their stuff on shows such as Jerry Springer? It’s obvious that Jerry counts on the transgendered community to provide his shows with an edgy interest.

But, it’s not just Jerry! More tangibly, an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies and Fortune 100 companies are offering transgender-inclusive health insurance benefits. To name a few: Google, Nike, Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Sears, Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, General Motors, Citigroup, Apple, Tiffany, Microsoft, PepsiCo, JPMorgan Chase, AT&T, Kraft Foods, Barnes & Noble, Walt Disney Co. and General Mills.

While we know that not everything is fun and games, who can’t be heartened by the continuing positive moves within and for our community?


Carl Matthes