When Pro-Marijuana Ads are Banned, But Anti-Gay Ads are Allowed

Reddit, a popular news-aggregation website, made the New York Times on Friday. Condé Nast, owner of Reddit, refused to run advertisements promoting California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana. The decision is in stark contrast with the Reddit user base, which largely supports marijuana legalization. (The Marijuana subreddit, which is just one of many pot-related sections of the site, has over 27,000 readers).

Reddit fought back against Condé Nast’s decision by creating and voting up posts related to Proposition 19. At one point, a majority of the top posts on Reddit were images promoting Proposition 19, and the top post was titled “YES to Prop 19; NO to corporate censorship.”

According to Condé Nast, the company “does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue.”

So what’s this have to do with gay rights? Ads that were much more controversial and insulting than those related to California’s Proposition 19 remained on the site, even during this heated debate. On the website’s LGBT subreddit, ads were running with anti-gay sentiments including “Do You Think Homosexuals Should Have Special Rights?” and “Do You Support Obama’s Homosexual Agenda?”

The ads were created by the Public Advocate of the U.S.. The organization is run by a rather homophobic conservative activists, Eugene Delgaudio. (Check out his thoughts on LGBT people.)

Why was Condé Nast benefiting financially from anti-gay ads, but not from pro-marijuana ads? When Reddit administrators were alerted to the anti-gay ads, Reddit disabled Adsense in the LGBT subreddit and apologized for the ads. Now, the anti-gay ads have disappeared. But was it right for Reddit to remove the anti-gay ads? Is a company responsible for only putting up advertisements that the company agrees with? Should the advertisements on a website reflect the feelings of the membership, or the feelings of the website’s owner? And what about the pro-marijuana ads?

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Focus on the Family Fights Bullying Prevention

Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian, socially conservative organization, is on the attack. Their opponent? LGBT advocacy groups. Apparently, there’s a problem with encouraging schools to prevent bullying against LGBT students.

According to Focus on the Family, LGBT groups use bullying prevention to promote their homosexual agenda, including the idea that homosexuality is normal. Focus on the Family education expert Candi Cushman said that the group is against bullying but that bullying prevention “is being hijacked by activists.” She claims that anti-bullying programs are gay activism in disguise and that these programs conceal their true purpose.

Concealing their true purpose? According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), almost 90 percent of LGBT students experience harassment, about 61 percent feel unsafe in school, and 22 percent reported being physically assaulted at school.  Isn’t that enough reason for LGBT groups to want to be involved in anti-bullying efforts? The true purpose of anti-bullying efforts in the LGBT community is to bring these numbers down; to make LGBT students safe and comfortable at school. Seems pretty simple and obvious to me.

And if Focus on the Family allegedly supports bullying prevention, how do they expect to prevent bullying in the first place? By teaching students that homosexuality is abnormal or wrong?

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Victory for Transgender Drivers in Pennsylvania

Until recently, transgender drivers in Pennsylvania faced a tough plight. The Department of Transportation only allowed transgender people to mark their appropriate gender on official documents if they could prove that they had completed sex-reassignment surgery. Meaning, transgender people who had not had sex-reassignment surgery were forced to have their birth sex listed on their license, regardless of how they were presenting.

Aside from the obvious invasive nature of asking transgender people if they had sex-reassignment surgery before allowing them to choose the appropriate gender for their license, the policy could have created problems for transgender people. What happens when you’re pulled over for speeding and the police officer notices the gender marked on your license is in complete contrast to how you look?

Sex-reassignment surgery aside, transgender people should be treated with dignity — their license should reflect the gender they present as. And now, a new policy will allow them to mark their actual gender. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has moved to allow transgender individuals to mark themselves based on their gender, if it can be verified by a licensed medical or psychological caregiver that they live full-time in their new gender.

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Discrimination Against Gay Egg and Sperm Donors

Sure, gay and lesbian people can’t make children with their partners, but they can technically make children. No, I’m not talking about closeted gay people who marry and start a family. I’m talking about egg and sperm donation.

Unfortunately, it’s much harder for gay men to donate sperm and lesbians to donate eggs than it is for their heterosexual counterparts. This is especially troubling since people within the LGBT community often are the ones using sperm and egg donors in order to have children.

An FDA policy encourages sperm banks not to accept sperm donations from men who have sex with men. The policy is discriminatory, and based on the idea that gay men will transmit HIV through their sperm. Sperm banks already screen donors for HIV and there is no documented case of donated sperm resulting in HIV transmission. Sperm banks already routinely freeze sperm donations for more than six months before insemination, and donors are tested for HIV and other diseases. Basically, the risk of HIV infection is near zero, whether the donor is gay, straight, or bisexual.

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Sexual Fluidity Is Natural in Animals

As I wrote about earlier, many animals have intersex members, showing that the sex binary is not all that’s found in nature. It turns out, sex variation isn’t the only interesting thing found in nature; fluid sexuality is natural among animals too. New evidence shows that fluid sexuality is normal — and common — in the animal kingdom, at least among birds.

Sexually fluid behaviors have been examined in a study of hundreds of species of birds. Among the birds studied, the gender that spends less time raising babies is more likely to engage in homosexual behavior. In species where females raised hatchlings, male birds were more likely than female birds to engage in same-sex behavior, whereas species where both sexes raised babies included same-sex behaviors for both females and males.

The study found homosexual behavior in over 100 bird species, including relationships ranging from casual sex to joint child-rearing. In bird species that aren’t monogamous, homosexual behavior is more common. In fact, those birds with same-sex flings in non-monogamous species seemed to have as much reproductive success as those who didn’t engage in same-sex behavior.

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Are All Animals Male or Female?

A couple weeks ago, a transgender dog made the news. The Pomeranian puppy was born with both male and female reproductive organs. The dog needed a $1,165 gender reassignment surgery to prevent infection and reduce the dog’s risk of developing cancer. While the puppy would be better described as intersex than transgender, it certainly shows that sex is not binary in nature.

And now, the news has shifted to Canada’s transsexual fish. (No, the fish haven’t undergone gender reassignment surgery.) Chemicals from human trash, which include endocrine disrupters, have impacted the sexual development of fish. The chemicals have been causing male fish to exhibit elevated levels of a protein that normally only exists in females when they’re producing eggs. Even more startling, in the areas of the water affected by pollution, 85% are female (compared to 55% female in the water without chemical pollution).

Okay, so the “transsexual fish” are actually just a case of human interaction harming animals. But is sexual variance common among animals?

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Does Marriage Mean It’s Time for a Name Change?

When heterosexual couples get married, 80 to 95 percent of those marrying for the first time adjust their name accordingly. Usually, the bride takes her husband’s last name. The process includes ordering extra copies of the marriage license, requesting a new Social Security card, visiting the department of motor vehicles for a new license, and completing an application for an amended Passport.

A name change is a lot of work for a simple tradition. It’s a societal norm, expected of most brides. But why?

The tradition is rooted in a history of patriarchy and sexist symbolism, signifying the woman’s changed ownership from father to husband. Nowadays, in a society where women are not owned by the men they associate with, why should brides carry on the tradition? While some newlyweds consider the implications of a name change, most go ahead with it anyway.

Name changes after marriage are hard for heterosexual couples, and they’re even harder for gay couples. In states that don’t allow same-sex marriage or civil unions, gay couples can’t use a marriage certificate to get their name changed. Instead, they’re forced to go through an in-court name change process. They have to pay a fee to file a court petition, publish a notice in a newspaper, and get a court order to officially change their name. After which, they still have to go through the work of changing their other documents, including their Social Security card, Passport, and driver’s license.

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Fox News Affiliate Polls Readers on Transgender Marriage

Transgender marriage issues are a complex issue, especially for states where marriage licenses are granted based on the sex listed on someone’s birth certificate, rather than their gender or legal sex on other documents. Such is the case in Texas, where the Littleton v. Prange case determined that sex in marriage is based on the sex on a person’s birth certificate.

Based on this law, Texas recognized a gay marriage. Earlier this year, Sabrina Hill, an intersex person who was raised as a male but transitioned to become a woman, legally married her cisgender girlfriend.

In response to this confusing and ironic law, conservative Texans are taking the marriage debate a step further. A Fox News affiliate in Texas, called FOX 26, is polling its website visitors, asking: “Should transgender or transsexual people be allowed to legally marry?”

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LGBT Community More Aware of Gender Inequalities

Ninety years ago, women were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment. One would think that 90 years would be enough time for society to progress and for gender inequalities to end. But gender equality is still a hot topic of debates and an unresolved political issue.

In June 2010, The Harris Poll surveyed 2,412 adults, including 341 LGBT adults, to measure the attitudes and beliefs of American adults about the roles of men and women in society. The survey was conducted with the help of Witeck-Combs Communications, a communications firm that specializes in LGBT issues. The survey results that were just released show a surprising link between sexual orientation and attitudes about gender inequalities.

Most Americans — specifically, 63% of American adults — believe that gender inequalities still exist in the United States. Around 74% of women think the U.S. has a long way to go to reach gender equality, compared to just over half of men (52%). Hardly surprising, considering that the most tangible and visible examples of gender inequality are typically inequalities that harm women.

What’s a little more surprising is that LGBT adults are much more likely to agree that the U.S. has a long way to go to reach gender equality. About 73% of LGBT Americans agree that the U.S. has a long way to go (10% more than the American population at large), along with a shocking 95% of lesbians.

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The College Common Application May Add Options for LGBT Students

Nowadays, the average student is applying to more than a dozen colleges. The increasing number of applications is made possible by the Common Application, a standard application used by over 400 colleges and universities. I, too, applied to many colleges using the Common Application. But what questions does the Common Application ask, and why?

When I applied for colleges using the Common Application, I was asked my race, religion, and marital status but certainly nothing about my gender identity or sexual orientation. But soon, the Common Application may change to include optional questions about gender identity and sexual orientation.

On gut instinct, LGBT people may be concerned about how this information could be abused. But it could also be extremely beneficial for LGBT applicants.

Changing the Common Application to include a gender category would allow transgender students to have a place in a system that currently excludes them. Currently, the application requires students to mark “male” or “female.” Applicants are asked to check the box that’s consistent with their birth certificates. Even with the new proposed changes, applicants will have to reveal their sex, because colleges use demographic data collected to meet federal reporting requirements and because single-sex colleges need to know applicants’ sex to determine their eligibility. But the new proposed Common Application would also include an option to add a word that “better describes their identity beyond male or female.”

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