Friday, April 06, 2012

Know Your LGBT History - Oliver Sipple

Oliver Sipple is a gay former Marine who will be remembered for two things - saving President Gerald Ford's life from an assassin's bullet and how the media attention from his act destroyed his life:

The following, according to Wikipedia, is the rest of the story. And it's not a happy one:

The police and the Secret Service immediately commended Sipple for his action at the scene, as did the media. The news media portrayed Sipple as a hero.

Though he was known to be gay among members of the gay community, and had even participated in Gay Pride events, Sipple's sexual orientation was a secret from his family. He asked the press to keep his sexuality off the record, making it clear that neither his mother nor his employer knew he was gay. The national spotlight was on him immediately, and Harvey Milk responded. While discussing whether the truth about Sipple's sexuality should be disclosed, Milk told a friend: "It's too good an opportunity. For once we can show that gays do heroic things, not just all that caca about molesting children and hanging out in bathrooms." Milk reportedly outed Sipple as a "gay hero" to San Francisco Chronicle's columnist Herb Caen in hopes to "break the stereotype of homosexuals" of being "timid, weak and unheroic figures". Several days later Caen wrote of Sipple as a gay man and a friend of Milk speculating Ford offered praise "quietly" because of Sipple's sexual orientation. Sipple was besieged by reporters, as was his family. His mother refused to speak to him. Gay liberation groups petitioned local media to give Sipple his due as a gay hero. Caen published the private side of the former Marine's story, as did a handful of other publications. Sipple then insisted to reporters that his sexuality was to be kept confidential. Later, when Sipple hid in a friend's apartment to avoid them, the reporters turned to Milk, arguably the most visible voice for the gay community. The reporters had already labeled Sipple the "gay ex-Marine" and his conservative mother disparaged and disowned him when she found out about his sexuality. Milk's precise role in the outing remain somewhat cloudy as Sipple's active participation in the gay community suggests that his sexuality would have been revealed and reported even if doing so was seen as unethical. According to Harold Evans, "[T]here was no invitation to the White House for Sipple, not even a commendation. Milk made a fuss about that. Finally, weeks later, Sipple received a brief note of thanks."

Sipple sued the Chronicle for invasion of privacy. Of President Ford's letter of thanks to Sipple, Milk suggested that Sipple's sexual orientation was the reason he received only a note, rather than an invitation to the White House. Sipple filed a $15 million invasion of privacy suit against Caen, seven named newspapers, and a number of unnamed publishers, for publishing the disclosures. The Superior Court in San Francisco dismissed the suit, and Sipple continued his legal battle until May 1984, when a state court of appeals held that Sipple had indeed become news, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.

According to a 2006 article in The Washington Post, Sipple went through a period of estrangement with his parents, but the family later reconciled with his sexual orientation. Sipple's brother, George, told the newspaper, "[Our parents] accepted it. That was all. They didn't like it, but they still accepted. He was welcomed. Only thing was: Don't bring a lot of your friends."

'Catholic Church sacrificing poor in fight against marriage equality' and other Friday midday news briefs

Catholic Church Cuts Funds To Immigrant Group Because It Doesn’t Discriminate Against Gay People - So much for "religious liberty."

Catholics clash over helping the poor, hewing to doctrine - And it's not just that group. Nine other groups in all are being hurt by this stringent nonsense.

Christian Groups Take Issue With Anti-Bullying Laws - Apparently protecting gay youth is a "plot" to mind control all youth into being gay.

The left's activist facts continue to attack poor Brian Brown - Cause apparently we on the left forced the National Organization for Marriage to write up a plan to exploit the disagreement over marriage equality between the black and gay communities. How did we do that? Why mind control. We are not all concentrated on children.

“Day of Dialogue” from Focus on the Family is Sacred Discrimination - It's almost that time of year again. The annual religious right attack on the "Day of Silence." Oh brother.

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Attempt to roll back marriage equality in Washington state causing problems

The attempt to roll back marriage equality in Washington State is raising some eyebrows because of the full-tilt way the Catholic Church has involved itself:

The two bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, in a letter to the faithful, say they will deploy parishes to collect signatures for Referendum 74, a measure for the November ballot designed to roll back same-sex marriage in Washington.

While asking that signatures not be collected on Easter Sunday, the bishops described the issue as “critically important” and said information on the signature drive is being sent to pastors throughout the Western Washington diocese.

The letter is signed by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo. Sartain testified against marriage equality at a Washington State Senate hearing earlier this year.

In their letter, the bishops specifically deny that refusing marriage to same-sex couples equates to discrimination — an argument made by Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Catholic, in arguing for marriage equality.

. . . State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a Catholic and long-partnered gay man who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill, described the bishops’ deployment of parishes to gather signatures as “fairly reprehensible.”

“To use church resources, in advancing a measure that promotes discrimination, is incredibly disappointing,” Murray said. “As a gay person, and a Catholic, I can understand their refusal to perform (gay) marriages. Using the church in promoting a referendum . . . is very disappointing.”

The bishops noted that, under the state’s domestic partnership law (which the Catholic Church lobbied against), same sex couples “already enjoy the rights and privileges of married couples.”

Anne Levison, a former judge and co-owner of the Seattle Storm, and leader in the marriage equality campaign, responded that the bishops’ letter is a case of clerical error.

“Of all institutions, the Church should understand why domestic partnerships can’t replace marriage,” said Levinson. “Marriage is so much more than a collection of legal rights. The essence of marriage remains the same whether the two people are straight or gay or lesbians: Two people affirming their love and commitment to each other.”

A statement in the letter caught my eye:

In their letter, the bishops specifically deny that refusing marriage to same-sex couples equates to discrimination — an argument made by Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Catholic, in arguing for marriage equality.

“Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination,” the bishops claim. “Marriage can only be between a man and a woman because of its unique ends, purpose and place in society. The word ‘marriage’ isn’t simply a label that can be attached to different types of relationships.

That phraseology of "treating different things differently" has been uttered several times by former National Organization for Marriage head Maggie Gallagher.

Just more ammunition for those of us who think that NOM is a sham group created and backed by the Catholic Church.

But there will be more on that later  . . .  

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