Various Direct Links

19 November 2011

Repudiation: Congress Fails at School Nutrition

This week Congress passed and President Obama signed the "minibus" appropriations bill that prevents a government shutdown and authorizes spending for agriculture, commerce/justice/science, transportation/housing and urban development, and a continuing resolution (the last part prevents the shutdown).  Unfortunately, the "detailed summary" to which I linked, above, does not contain some important details to understand how this will affect school children.
Child nutrition programs – School lunch and school breakfast programs will receive $18.2 billion in mandatory funding in the agreement. This funding will help provide low income students with free or reduced-price meals at schools in every community in the nation. In addition, the conference agreement includes provisions to prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and to provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Without these provisions, the cost of these important programs would balloon by an additional $7 billion over the next five years – leaving states and local school districts in the lurch.
The failure to improve students' meals is hidden in the part of the text that I have emphasized.  What was prevented included numerous healthier aspects to school lunches.
Under the guidelines, schools would have to cut sodium in subsidized meals by more than half, use more whole grains and serve low-fat milk. They also would limit kids to only one cup of starchy vegetables per week, so schools couldn’t offer french fries every day.
The starchy-vegetable proposal has been criticized by conservatives who think it goes too far and Congress members who represent potato-growers. They say potatoes are a low-cost food that provides fiber and other nutrients.
Let's be clear.  There are some debates about appropriate levels of sodium in the diet.  There are no debates about the value of whole grains.  The potato is healthful until it is fried.  Under this bill, a slice of pizza has a tiny amount of tomato paste that counts as a vegetable.

If you are remembering that President Reagan wanted to count ketchup as a vegetable, he was not the first.  As recounted on Wikipedia
In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables, but not on fruits, caused the tomato's status to become a matter of legal importance. The U.S. Supreme Court settled the controversy on May 10, 1893, by declaring that the tomato is a vegetable, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert (Nix v. Hedden (149 U.S. 304)).
While that history is fun, the point is that Congress and the President chose to not act in the best interest of children.  They chose to put special interests and ideology ahead of people.  Awful.

18 November 2011

Praise: Ed Shadid 's Oklahoma City Discrimination Ordinance

This week Oklahoma City added sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy.  As reported on Tuesday

"It's adding two words, sexual orientation, to a laundry list of conditions that the city cannot hire or fire based upon," Shadid said.
Council members deferred the vote for several weeks so they could research the issue. On[e] councilman argued the addition is unnecessary because no such discrimination issue exists in Oklahoma City.
The best explanation for the need for this addition is that offered in the city council meeting by Dr. Shadid.  This is eleven minutes of video that is well worth watching.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.  Thanks, too, to Doug Loudenback who encouraged me to post this.

Repudiation: FRC's Fake Quiz

The Family Research Council has put together a "Quiz on Defending Family Values", complete with answers that do not agree with facts.  Sorry if you wanted to play their game, but I going to refute each of the supposed answers here and now.  Each of the five questions are supposed to be answered with a True or False.

1. Due to religious exemptions, same-sex “marriage” would not harm the rights of parents, schools, churches, or religious ministries.

Of course the answer should be true.
False. In Massachusetts, where same-sex “marriage” was legalized, public school children as young as first grade are taught that homosexuality is morally good, and parents are prohibited by court order from opting out their children or even being informed of when the “instruction” will occur. Further, when Catholic Charities of Boston’s adoption services refused to place children with homosexual couples, the large and respected ministry was forced to shut down. Family Research Council experts are making Congress and the public aware of such dangers, as homosexual activists work to impose same-sex “marriage” on the entire nation.
Sexuality of any nature is a fact.  For those who are heterosexual, heterosexuality is morally good.  For those who are homosexual, homosexuality is morally good.  To act differently than we are created by God would be morally offensive.

Catholic Charities of Boston was not forced to shut down.  Catholic News Service wrote at the time, Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese announced March 10 that it will stop providing adoption services rather than continue to comply with a state law requiring no discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who seek to adopt.
It was their own choice ... they were not forced.

2. Science indicates that homosexuality is likely inborn and unchangeable.

Again, the answer should be true.
False. The U.S. Justice Department recently claimed that homosexuality is unchangeable and thus refused to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. Yet the best science actually refutes this assertion. The handful of small studies that purport to show a “gay gene” have been widely discounted by the majority of the scientific community. On the other hand, decades of sociological and psychological research indicate that same-sex attraction is not inborn but is likely a product of external factors. And leading psychologists have affirmed the existence of thousands of people who changed from homosexual attractions to heterosexual. FRC is exploding the myths and making sure that lawmakers, judges, and the public know the facts.
So, why did the Justice Department make this claim?  Because major health organizations say so.  The immutable nature of sexuality is part of the statements of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and others.

The same documents indicate that the full nature of sexuality is not known.  Claiming that "same-sex attraction is not inborn but is likely a product of external factors" cannot be shown at this point in the research into the nature of sexuality. 

The claim that people change from homosexual to heterosexual attraction is fiction.  I discussed the liars behind "reparative therapy" in a recent posting.

3. Homosexual activists have grossly overstated the number of homosexuals in the population as being 10%, when surveys actually show it is only half that number, at about 5%!

This is an area where a definitive true or false cannot be stated.
False. It’s even lower! The vast majority of recent surveys put the figure at about 2%–3%. In other words, the Left is demanding that parents be forced to allow their children to learn that homosexuality is healthy and moral . . . that the 5,000-year-old-plus definition of marriage be abolished . . . that religious adoption agencies violate their beliefs or close down . . . to accommodate the behavior of 2%–3% of the population. FRC experts are forcefully making the case to Congress that this demand is unreasonable and unjust.
The origin of population estimates of homosexuals goes back to the studies of Dr. Alfred Kinsey who, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, determined that approximately ten percent of the population is homosexual.  (Really it was more complicated, but that is the simplified answer).  There are many recent studies that find between two percent and thirteen percent of the population identifies as homosexual or bisexual.  There are numerous reasons why there may be such disparity in the numbers.  Among these reasons are how the question is posed, who is posing the question, and what assurance there is that the answer will not be used against those responding to the question.  Many gays and lesbians are in the closet.  We cannot at this time know a certain number.

Perhaps more important is that the Family Research Council thinks that a smaller minority is more deserving of discrimination.  That flies in the face of fairness and decency. 

4. Members of Congress from both parties support a pro-homosexual law that could force Christians to remove family photos from their workplace.

This is absurd on its face.  False.
True. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)—co-sponsored in the Senate by two Republicans and two Democrats—would force most employers to ensure a workplace free of “discrimination” against homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people. When such a policy was imposed at Sandia National Laboratories, many employees were ordered to take down Bible verses from screensavers and remove photos of their “traditional” families because homosexual employees found the images to be demeaning. FRC is in the trenches in Washington exposing the proposed law.
Absurd.  The 2009 ENDA is online.  It includes nothing about limiting family photos.  If the Bible verses on screensavers on work computers are discriminatory, then that might be limited.  In my search online for the basis of the allegation that Sandia National Laboratories forced employees to remove family photos, every source cited Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council.  There may be more evidence, but I did not find it.

5. The proposed federal ENDA law would force all employers to hire transsexuals, cross-dressers, and “drag queens” and “drag kings” for any job—including customer service jobs and ones with children, such as teachers and day care workers.

If the people are the most qualified, then they should not be discriminated against and kept from holding jobs.  This is probably the only quiz question when I have any agreement with the answer.

You are correct!True. This radical bill (H.R. 1397 and S. 811) not only mandates acceptance of all “sexual orientations,” but also of all “gender identities.” “Gender identity” is defined in the bill as “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.” In other words—the individual does not have to undergo “sex change” surgery. He or she does not even have to present the same “gender identity” consistently—it could change from day to day. And for employers covered by the bill, NO occupations or job positions are exempted. FRC experts are making sure that members of Congress are aware of this threat.
The threat of treating all American citizens equally.  The language that FRC uses is designed to evoke fear.  The truth is that a person's sexual orientation and gender identity do not cause them to be better or worse employees.  The truth is that FRC's campaign of fear to maintain discriminatory laws is based on lies.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

17 November 2011

Praise: University of Washington on LGBT Caring and Aging with Dignity

A new study on elderly LGBT has been released from researchers at the University of Washington School of Social Work.  The study is disturbing in that it finds numerous problems for elderly LGBT people.

Some additional data from the report
One in ten LGBT older adults who participated in the project have been denied healthcare or provided with inferior care. Nearly one-quarter of transgender older adults have needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost. Fifteen percent of LGBT older adults fear accessing healthcare outside the LGBT community, and 8% fear access-ing healthcare inside the community. Bisexual older women (16%) fear accessing healthcare services inside the LGBT community at nearly three times the rate of lesbians (6%) and are less likely to have a primary physician or healthcare provider than lesbians.
The full study and considerable more information are available at a new website, Caring and Aging with Pride.  We need information like this to move forward with fair and equal care of all.