Friday, February 24, 2006

Sounds like even Dobson would vote no!

I think I just hurt my chin when it hit my keyboard after I read this . So James Dobson--THE James Dobson--FOCUS ON THE FAMILY James Dobson--supports domestic partnership benefits?

Some fellow conservatives are criticizing Focus on the Family founder James Dobson for supporting proposed Colorado legislation to give same-sex couples limited legal protections.

The proposal would smooth the way for any two people who cannot marry to register for rights to hospital visits, making medical decisions for each other and property transfers. These rights are already available to two persons but they need lawyers to prepare paperwork....

Dobson said he believes in equality under the law but doesn't want to redefine marriage.

This is exactly the problem with "marriage plus" amendments like the one Arizona will be facing this November if the Center for Arizona Policy--an offshoot of Focus on the Family, I might add--gets enough signatures. It will make even "limited legal protections" unconstitutional. If even James Dobson thinks that goes too far, what is his affiliate organization doing backing such an amendment?

What ever happened to "Turn the other cheek"?

There were two stories in the paper this morning that disturbed me. The first was another scary report from Gitmo.

Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday.

FBI agents working at the prison complained about the military interrogators' techniques in e-mails to their superiors from 2002 to 2004, 54 e-mails released by the American Civil Liberties Union showed.

The agents tried to get the military interrogators to follow a less coercive approach and warned that the harsh methods could hinder future criminal prosecutions of terrorists because information gained illegally is inadmissible in court.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was in charge of the prison at the time, overrode the FBI agents' protests, according to the documents.

Um, remind me again, are we supposed to be the good guys?

This one was also really horrific. in Onitsha, Nigeria:

Dozens of charred, smoldering bodies littered the streets of this bustling commercial center on Thursday after three days of rioting in which Christian mobs wielding machetes, clubs and knives set upon their Muslim neighbors.

So this is the answer they came up with when asking themselves "What Would Jesus Do?" And yeah, I get that they were attacked first in the riots following the offensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, and I get how stupid and completely reprehensible that is, especially considering the Christian villagers in Onitsha weren't even responsible for the cartoon, but still, payback in kind? Is that what Christ taught us?

Every second grader can tell you that "Well, HE started it!" or "But everybody ELSE is doing it!" won't get them out of hot water with the principal or, hopefully, Mom and Dad. And yet, we have the U.S. Government and Christians in Nigeria doing horrible things with those very excuses.

Yeah, terrorists are evil and need to be stopped. Yeah, attacking innocent villagers because they're Christian and you're not is evil and needs to be stopped. But tit for tat isn't the way to do it. It is completely incompatible with what Christ taught and it makes us no better than the evil we're fighting.

If we want to claim the moral high ground, we damn well better be having morally. This goes for the United States government and for Christians.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Selling our souls for "security"

When Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith came out last May, I used a quote from the movie as my e-mail sig line for several months afterwards. People who know me weren't surprised; I'm an unabashed Star Wars fangirl. But I didn't identify with this particular quote because it was Star Wars so much as because it very aptly described the sinking feeling I get about the direction our country is headed post-9/11.

The quote comes from Senator Amidala as she watches Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declare the end of the Republic and the birth of the Empire, all in the name of security and safety and the protection of the people from those evil Separatists and creepy Jedi. As Palpatine declares himself the Emperor, he is received with a standing ovation from the Senate, and Senator Amidala (who neither stands nor claps) says, "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause."

Now I am not an alarmist. I'm far more Scully than Mulder; I don't buy into conspiracy theories and roll my eyes at every special about who really shot JFK. But the so-called "Patriot Act" scares me, as does the wiretapping and eavesdropping stories we're hearing about lately. I fear that like the Galactic Senate in Star Wars, we're letting liberty die... to thunderous applause. And now Leonard J. Pitts points to another example of how we're letting our fears erode our freedoms.

The following happened in the United States of America on Feb. 9 this year: The scene is the Little Falls branch of the Montgomery County Public Library in Bethesda, Md.

Business is going on as usual when two men in uniform stride into the main reading room and call for attention. They make an announcement: It is forbidden to use the library's computers to view Internet pornography.

As people are absorbing this, one of the men challenges a patron about a Web site he is visiting and asks the man to step outside.

At this point, a librarian intervenes and calls the uniformed men aside. A police officer is summoned. The men leave. It turns out they are employees of the county's department of Homeland Security and were operating way outside their authority.

I'm relieved to read that this incident was Homeland Security operating outside their authority, but I can't help but wonder if that will always be the case. As much as I can't stand Internet pornography, how is a raid on libraries to keep patrons from viewing porn making our country any safer?

Is the threat terrorists pose real and frightening? Hell yes. But I find myself a lot more afraid of our response to the threat than the threat itself. Jesus said,

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Isn't that what we're doing when we trade freedom for security, giving away our soul to protect our bodies?

Pitts puts it another way:

I'm sorry, but the fact that we are at war doesn't make that OK. The fact that we are panicked doesn't make it OK. The allegation that the material is unsavory doesn't make it OK.

Look, freedom is a messy business. It is also a risky business. But it means nothing if we surrender it at every hint of messiness and risk. That's cowardly and it's un-American.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


An excellent guest editorial by Vicki Gaubeca in today's Arizona Daily Star that asks, "when is it enough?"

For me, there is one question that keeps coming up. When is it enough?

The question is not when is the love between two people enough so that they are finally recognized, but when is it enough for people to take a stand for what is right?

Is it when, after a decade of working on politically amenable strategies, the state of Arizona still refuses to provide domestic-partner health benefits to its employees?...

Is it when a couple leaves the state because it won't legally recognize two mothers or two fathers as equal parents of children they raised together?

Is it when a family refuses to acknowledge a relationship of 35-plus years by taking away the property the couple shared after one of them dies? Or when a government or corporation refuses to give the life partner a pension or survivor benefits?

When is it enough?

It's enough. Thanks, Vicki.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Press about the Rally for Love and Justice

Here's a roundup of local print press about the rally yesterday.

The Arizona Daily Star quoted one of my favorite people, Jack Kressley, a PFLAG dad and all around great guy.

"I hate injustice. I just hate it," the 67-year-old retired submariner said Sunday at a pre-Valentine's Day "Rally for Love and Justice" at Downtown's El Presidio Park.

"We're better off — we're all better off — when we don't hurt people, when we don't put people in a box and marginalize them," he said. "That's what this amendment does."

The Tucson Citizen quoted me, so yay for the Tucson Citizen. ;) Of course, they didn't quote me about anything substantive, but they make up for it by quoting my daughter's speech and mentioning the standing ovation.

Frieders' daughter Carly received a standing ovation during her speech when she said, "Whoever you marry it's love. It doesn't matter who you marry.

"I hope that everybody will make sure everybody is treated fairly today."

Hey, I'm a mom first, activist second, what can I say?

And of course there was the brilliant Fitz comic in Sunday's paper which helped set the tone for the entire event.

All-in-all, a decent bit of press helping to explain how this amendment will hurt families and why it's bad for Arizona.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Proud Mom Moment

My eight-year-old daughter had her fifteen minutes of fame today. She got to give her very own speech at the Rally for Love and Justice in Tucson. I've been speaking there for three years now and she begged me to get a chance to speak, too, so I asked the organizers and they gave her a slot. So here's the text of her speech. She wrote it herself. I helped her edit/polish it a little bit, but the words and ideas are all her own.

My name is Carly and I’m a triplet, and that’s different. I mean, even when I was in my mom’s tummy I didn’t get my own room. But it’s cool to be a triplet and it’s cool to be different, too.

I’m also different from my brother and sister and nobody cares about that. I like science, and my brother thinks that’s dumb. Everybody is different in their own special way.

Girls loving girls and boys loving boys is different, and different is cool. So why should other people care about a girl being married to a girl or a boy being married to a boy? Because whoever you marry, it’s love. It’s not other people’s business who you marry.

This amendment goes too far, does too many scary things and hurts too many people and too many friendships.

Some people think that God doesn’t like people who are different and that’s not right. God has eyes for everyone whether they’re a boy or a girl, gay or straight, black or white. The world would be a much better place without this amendment for many lives and many families.

Whoever you love it’s OK and no matter what that will always be true. When I heard my mom talking about all the scary things they’re doing to gay people I was scared, and I should be scared because I don’t like how people are being treated just because they’re gay.

And that’s why I asked my mom if I could speak here today. One of my heroes is Rosa Parks and the reason I like her is because she stood up for what she believed in no matter what she knew would happen and I think you should always stand up for what you believe in. I hope everybody will help to make sure that everybody is treated fairly.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Laughing at our sacred cows

I've been trying to think of what to say about the whole furor over the anti-Muslim cartoon going on in Europe. I thought that my paper's local cartoonist, David Fitzsimmons, wrote a good editorial about it. I like how he drew the line:

I censor myself. All cartoonists do from time to time. Would I have drawn Muhammad? No. To draw a likeness of Muhammad is to ridicule a core, heartfelt belief of many Muslims.

I would no sooner do that than I would gratuitously mock I'itoi, yarmulkes or the Book of Mormon. It is hurtful. And it doesn't address issues in a meaningful way....

When it comes to religious icons, I draw the line at the point where the banner of rigid belief enters the public square.

When religion is dragged into the public arena to wrestle with reason, it is fair game. Whether it's a school board in Dover, a pope in the pulpit or an extremist in Tehran.

I think decent people (of faith or not) should try to err on the side of respecting what is sacred to others. I agree with Fitz that when someone starts pushing their religions agenda in the public square, it's fair game, but for the most part, we really should try not to make fun of other people's deeply held beliefs.

But what I really think is more incumbent upon us, especially people of faith, is to learn how to laugh at our own sacred cows. We shouldn't be so quick to take offense at every poke at our faith. I'm convinced God has a way better sense of humor than we do. I'm not crazy about Darwin fishes, for example, not because I have a problem with Darwin or think he's incompatible with Christianity, but because they've taken a symbol used specifically to represent Christ and put someone else's name into it. That kinda bugs me (way more than the feet added onto the fish, incidentally). That said, I have a bunch of good friends who have Darwin fishes and I understand why and get the statement they're making, so I can laugh it off. It just isn't worth frothing up at the mouth over, let alone setting embassies on fire.

What I have a lot more trouble brushing off is the offensive, ugly, hateful stuff that comes out of the mouths of people claiming to represent my faith. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Pat Robertson!) That's a lot more blasphemous than the pokes that come from outside from people who don't really understand my faith.

Jesus said that what we put into our mouth can't make us unclean, but what comes out of our mouth can. So the Darwin fish or the belittling Muhammad cartoon, that's just us swallowing something from outside. But the stuff we say in Christ's name? That's where we'd better be really, really careful.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rally for Love and Justice

This is an e-mail I sent to my friends and family about the Arizona "Marriage Protection" amendment and a rally we're holding against it.

Most but not all of my friends and loved ones are familiar to varying degrees with my involvement in equal rights for gay and lesbian people and same-sex couples. With some of you, it is a frequent topic of discussion. With others, I rarely mention it. Polite conversation is supposed to steer clear of sex, politics, and religion, but I hope you will forgive me for a moment for bringing up all three in one message. Whatever your feelings about same-sex marriage, I feel this issue is too important to not bring it to everyone's attention. As a Christian and as a political (moderate) conservative, I have grave concerns about what is going on in my state.

In Arizona, a coalition known as "Protect Marriage Arizona" is currently trying to get a so-called "marriage protection" amendment for the state constitution on the ballot for the November 7, 2006 election. (For my out-of-state friends, many other states are facing similar amendments.) This broadly-worded and vague amendment, however, will do nothing to protect marriage, but will take away existing rights from unmarried couples gay and straight. Quite simply, this amendment goes too far.

Click here for the text of the initiative.

On February 12, I will be speaking at a Rally for Love and Justice against this amendment in downtown Tucson. Not only that, my 8-year-old daughter, whose hero is Rosa Parks, has asked if she could speak, too, and the rally planners invited her to give her own speech with her name and bio in the program and everything! She wrote her speech all by herself and it made me cry (that's a purely objective view, of course!) ;) If you're in the area, please consider coming by to show your support or just to learn about the issues. If you're not in the area, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. e-mail me if you want more information, or click here for info on similar events around the country.

But first, some information on what this amendment could do if it passes.

In Ohio a similar amendment was used to argue that a man who beat up his live-in girlfriend could not be charged with domestic violence.

In states like Ohio, Michigan, Utah, and Missouri, state, county, city and school districts are facing lawsuits claiming that it is unconstitutional for them to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.

The Wall Street Journal argued two years ago that the federal marriage amendment and similar state amendments were bad for business.

Let me be clear: this amendment is not about gay marriage. A Defense of Marriage Act is already on the books in Arizona. It has been upheld in the courts. If this amendment fails, same-sex marriage will still be illegal in Arizona, but if it passes, hundreds of families will lose rights and protections because someone else has decided they don't have the right to be a family.

As a Republican, I see this amendment as too much Big Government. Tucson, Tempe, Phoenix, and Pima County, for example, all offer domestic partnership benefits to their employees, but if this amendment passes, these benefits may well become unconstitutional. Tucson also offers a domestic partnership registry to offer basic benefits to unmarried couples, gay and straight, such as hospital visitation. Why should the state decide for local governments on this issue?

As a Christian, I can't see this initiative as anything other than mean-spirited. Regardless of whether same-sex relationships are sinful or not, there is nothing Christlike in denying hospital visitation, health benefits, and making it easier to rip families apart. Jesus lambasted the Pharisees and Scribes for following the letter of the law while rejecting justice and mercy:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!"

Whether you live in Arizona or another state facing this controversial issue, please take the time to learn about all the consequences to unmarried couples gay and straight, and if this initiative is on the ballot on November 7, I urge you all to vote no.