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5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Antigay Hate in Uganda, Red States, and Winter Games

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Antigay Hate in Uganda, Red States, and Winter Games

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Antigay Hate in Uganda, Red States, and Winter Games

This week's roundup proves, once again, that anti-LGBT bigotry knows no borders.

sunnivie

Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. And as usual, right-wingers around the world gave us plenty to choose from — our only problem was picking only five outrageous stories to share here. Read on to see what made the cut, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day. 

 

5. Despite His Gay BFF, Texas Attorney General Will NOT Allow Same-Sex Couples to Marry on His Watch

Greg Abbot, the attorney general of Texas, took the oft-used "I can't be homophobic, I have gay friends!" excuse to new heights when he announced that he would most definitely be appealing a recent federal court ruling that found the Lone Star State's ban on marriage equality unconstitutional. 

Abbott acknowledged that he and pretty much every other legal observer in the country expects the issue of marriage equality to return to the Supreme Court in the near future — especially with the Texas decision marking the sixth pro-equality federal ruling since the Supreme Court struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act last June

Abbott also acknowledged that there are "good, well-meaning people on both sides" of the issue, while simultaneously defending his decision to take a stand for marriage inequality in Texas. 

But while antigay lawmakers, elected officials, and even just your average Joe No-Homo have long claimed they aren't homophobic because they don't accost LGBT in the streets whenever they see them, Abbott has a uniquely personal tie to the specific case that could bring marriage equality to Texas. 

Mark Phariss, one of the plaintiffs in the Texas case, along with his partner of 16 years, told Dallas' KERA that he is an old law school buddy of the attorney general. Both men attended Vanderbilt University's school of law in the 1980s, and when a tree fell on Abbott and injured his spine, Phariss was among those to sit vigil at his hospital bedside — along with Abbott's mother and wife.  

"I was clerking in a law firm in Tulsa and I flew down to be by his side with his wife and his mother," Phariss said. "[Abbott] was a very good friend then, and I consider him a very good friend now."

Wonder how long that "good friendship" will last after Abbott makes his case in appeals court…

 

4. Right-Wing Lobbyist Hopes to Ban 'Self-Declared Homosexuals' from NFL Gridiron

Well, that's one way to make sure NFL hopeful and current Mizzou football star Michael Sam doesn't get the idea that it's OK to be gay.

Draft legislation submitted to Congress Thursday evening would prohibit the NFL from employing "self-declared homosexual football players" in the league. And lest anyone misunderstand the intent of his proposed bill, the lobbyist responsible for it named it "The American Decency Act of 2014." Of course, we presume the "2014" was a typo, since the apparent "decency" the law refers to would fit much better in 1914 America. 

"We are losing our decency as a nation," Jack Burkman said. "Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?"

The proposal — which author Burkman apparently expected "dozens" of conservative members of Congress to support, would slap NFL athletes who dare to talk about who they love with as much as an $8 million fine. Well, so long as the person they love is also a dude. Are you an NFL star hoping to hold a press conference claiming that you totally didn't beat the shit out of your girlfriend, or explaining how all those dead dogs buried in your front yard got there? No worries. You're still a decent American in 2014, according to Burkman.

Luckily, the proposal will need to be formally introduced by an actual member of Congress before it can be considered — and all but certainly destroyed in the Democrat-controlled Senate. In the meantime, Jack, we'll consider your pearls fully clutched.

Find more outrage on the following pages...

 

3. We Missed an Opportunity in Sochi

As OutSports editor Cyd Ziegler brilliantly put it in his Wednesday op-ed, LGBT activists around the world had all sorts of good intentions about agitating at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, to expose the host country's blatant human rights abuses. But ultimately, all of those good intentions fell flat. Whether it was angry calls for boycotts of Russian vodka or Olympic sponsors, social media memes that asked allies in far away lands to change their digital avatar, or hard-hitting exposés on what life is really like for LGBT Russians, none of it really made a difference for those people on the ground. 

As Zeigler so astutely notes, the reason these efforts fell flat was simple: we didn't put anything on the line. We didn't take any risk at all. 

"These efforts were more aimed at making us feel good about ourselves than actually affecting change," writes Zeigler. "The efforts around Sochi…didn't change anything, but they did help channel energy that could potentially be used effectively in the future. It will be up to us to make sure that energy gets channeled more effectively in the months and years ahead."

For inspiration, we might want to look to the tireless troublemakers who comprise Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist protest-punk band. Even after spending nearly two years in hard labor camps for a 30-second protest inside a Moscow cathedral, the fierce feminists and LGBT allies of Pussy Riot not only bared their faces, but put their own skin into the fight by defiantly protesting in Sochi. Although the band members were only lip-synching to their anti-anthem "Putin Will Teach You to Love Your Motherland," the performers were attacked by government-backed Cossacks guards who openly beat the musicians with horse whips. The entire ordeal was caught on video and incorporated into the band's official music video for the track. 

 

2. 'License to Discriminate' Bills Trend in GOP Legislatures

Now that they've soundly lost the war on marriage equality, it seems right-wing politicians and activists are taking their victim mentality to the next level: by trying to make it legal to blatantly discriminate against anyone, as long as you cite your "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Even after Arizona's Republican governor (Jan Brewer, pictured above) vetoed the SB 1062, which would have essentially given any individual or business a "license to discriminate," there are nearly a dozen similar bills popping up in Republican-controlled legislatures all over the country. 

Bills like Arizona's have been proposed by conservative factions in Maine, Idaho, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Kansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Indiana, and Texas. Those in Maine, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota have effectively been shelved by lawmakers following public outcry, but the prevalence of such legislation does raise the question: Has the GOP formally become a party of antigay theocrats? 

Between this latest rash of religiously motivated legislation, which not-so-subtly takes aim at those married same-sex couples and other LGBT taxpayers who obnoxiously demand to be treated equally under the law and offered equal public accommodation, and last session's bevy of restrictive abortion laws attempted in many of the same states, it's increasingly clear that the GOP is really only interested in representing the interests of straight white men — and the women who are biblically obedient to them. 

Of course, it's tempting to just let these backwards bigots push their unpopular agendas right off a cliff — because numerous polls demonstrate that an increasing majority of Americans, even those who call themselves religious, are fundamentally opposed to restricting the rights of their fellow citizens based on who those citizens love, or what's in their pants. So enjoy your Hail Mary while it lasts, haters. Because soon, you'll be politically irrelevant. 

Find the most outrageous story on the next page...

 

1. Uganda Passes 'Jail The Gays Law,' Starts Killing LGBT People

Despite international outcry and a total lack of actual scientific evidence proving that being gay is a choice, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill last Monday, February 24. 

While the international community hems and haws over how to respond to the draconian law that prescribes lifetime prison sentences for anyone convicted of multiple instances of consensual same-sex sexual relations, and threatens to deregister international groups supporting Uganda's LGBT community and even jail those who "aide or abet" homosexuality, LGBT Ugandans are dying. 

The day after Museveni signed the bill, Ugandan tabloid Red Pepperpublished a multi-page story with photos and identifying information outing "Uganda's 200 Top Homos." Inside, the article outs 200 supposed LGBT people, including Ugandan and international activists as well as celebrities and "socialites" who are suspected of being LGBT or being homosexual "sympathizers." In describing the LGBT activists, the tabloid refers to transgender men as "confessed gay" women and repeatedly calls gay men "bum-drillers." The lengthy list also contends that same-sex couples and LGBT activists have "a sophisticated way of operating, recruiting several boys and girls into the devilish act."

Ugandan LGBT activists report that at least one suspected gay couple was attacked — with one of the victims killed — after the tabloid hit stands, and dozens more have already been arrested or have gone into hiding. Prominent Ugandan lesbian feminist Kasha Jacqueline reports that even the family members of those named have been attacked — a friend's mother was hospitalized after her son was named by the Red Pepper. 

The tabloid has since published front-page stories naming suspected homosexuals every day since the law passed, and even plagiarized an award-nominated story from The Advocate profiling LGBT Ugandans, claiming the first-person stories revealed "How We Became Homos."

While LGBT activists and attorneys on the ground in Uganda are organizing to put a stop to the blatant violation of privacy, plagiarism, and unabashed bigotry, activists have produced new guidelines on how international allies can support the beleaguered community. Those methods include encouraging notable celebrities, politicians, and corporations to speak out against the law and the numerous other human rights violations in Uganda, organizing worldwide demonstrations, and lobbying local governments to revise their policies for emergency asylum for those Ugandans who want to flee. Notably, the activists discourage calls for financial cuts to general aid to Uganda, explaining that they "do not want the people of Uganda to suffer because of the unfortunate political choices of our government." 

"However, we support Strategic Aid Cuts to specific sectors, such as the Dutch Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the Justice Sector," continue the activists. "We encourage urgent review of Aid to organizations and government institutions that have failed to demonstrate respect for Human Rights and those that have been actively supporting this bill. We DO NOT support cuts in support to NGO’s and other civil society institutions that offer life saving health services or other important social services to the People of Uganda."

Find the comprehensive guidelines to how you can support LGBT Ugandans here

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Sunnivie Brydum

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>