Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Transsexual marriage case opens in Kansas

In half of Texas illegal for a transwoman to marry a man since, if you were born with a penis, you are considered a man, and gay marriage is illegal. In the other half of Texas its illegal for a transwoman to marry a woman since she is now a woman, and gay marriage is illegal. Now Kansas is joining the fun
A transgender woman is on trial in Kansas this week after refusing to pay a $500 fine for filing an allegedly false marriage license application. Sandy Gast, 49, checked herself off as female on forms last February, as she prepared to marry Georgi Somers, 63.

Making matters more complicated, Somers is also a transgender woman, but she elected to present herself as a male for the purposes of the paperwork.
According to Court TV, Somers' daughter e-mailed authorities in Leavenworth to alert them to a pending same-sex marriage. Then, two days before the March 20 wedding date, sheriff deputies arrived at the couple's home, charged Gast with a misdemeanor for 'lying' on the application and carted her off to jail. There, the Leavenworth Times reports, she was processed for six or seven hours, and was strip-searched by a male deputy.

Gast was pre-operative at the time, but has since had surgery to correct her sex.

Eight months later, Gast is in court to contest the criminal charge and the hefty fine that went along with it. At her side is attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, who is offering his services pro bono on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites). The case, Irigonegaray told Court TV, 'is a serious look about what makes someone a man, what makes someone a woman.'

Monday, November 15, 2004

Indians want to ban all prenatal diagnosis in order to stop sex selection

This "study" from the Indian Council of Medical Research is yet another sign of the dangerous reductio ad absurdum from yuck factor of sex selection to efforts to stop parental procreative liberty altogether. Here the Indians have concluded that no parents should be allowed to know the prenatal health of their children because some parents use that information to choose gender. Apparently all Indian parents must be forced to bear and raise children with congenital problems because 10% of the Indian boys of the high school class of 2020 won't be able to find a date to the prom.
The researchers said that even though sex determination tests were banned in 1994, implementing the ban and monitoring it was a problem. They said that imposing the ban was difficult as it depended on medical practice and ethics in a flourishing private sector...They said it would be impossible to know if a doctor was disclosing the sex of a foetus after screening for disease or not and the best way to control the falling sex ratio was to ban these diagnostic technologies from being given to medical practitioners.
Not only would parents then be forced to bear children with congenital problems, that most Indians can ill-afford to raise, but somewill bear girl children that they would otherwise have preferred not to, which is even worse for the girls than the parents. We need to get the message out: bans on sex selection and restrictions on parental germinal choice are even worse for kids than they are for the parents.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

(Inter)networking the Next Left: Is it Enough?

In a Znet piece on the "Boston Social Forum: Significance, Achievements and Some Lessons Learned" Suren Moodliar and Jason Pramas make some interesting reflections on the successes of the Boston Social Forum "network model" for the Next Left, and the assumptions they think the model is based on:
This model is premised on five closely related ideas, assumptions, and propositions.

First, people in modern society aren't joining formal organizations of any kind-progressive or otherwise-in the numbers that they once did. So progressive organizations are in trouble because without a strong membership base, their finances are overdependent on foundations and wealthy donors to survive. This dependence affects their political independence and unfortunately often affects their political will.

Second, it's important to set up a system of constant intercommunication and interaction between activists across progressive organizations and encourage them to work cooperatively towards broad common goals whenever possible.

Three, it's also critical to find ways to reach out to the huge number of folks who are not part of formal progressive organizations but who may join progressive movements if they believe that they're vibrant, exciting and have at least the possibility of succeeding and building a better society within their lifetimes.

Four, many people are part of informal and even latent networks that need to be identified by activists.

And, fifth, in the final analysis, it may be more important to spread movement ideas than to try to get people to join specific organizations. Progressive organizations need to be encouraged to be less territorial in their organizing, and focus more on a huge movement than on their specific group. Using network organizing strategies, BSF organizers put on a large event at a time when other progressive organizers struggle to get 200 people to an event. The example of over 5000 people attending the BSF will be a powerful incentive for progressive activists to experiment with the network model of organizing.
That all sounds great, but there are incontestably things that a large organization with a paid staff, offices, and so on can do that networks cannot. When you read for instance about James Dobson's Focus on the Family complex in Colorado, and its extensive influence around the world, it makes the self-congratulations that the Left can't build organizations sound a little silly.
Dobson's clout emanates from Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs-based ministry he founded that is awesome in scope: publishing books and magazines, disseminating Dobson's weekly newspaper column to more than 500 papers, and airing radio shows—including Dobson's own—that reach people in 115 countries every week, from Japan to Botswana and in languages from Spanish to Zulu. The ministry receives so much mail it has its own zip code....

Earlier this year, Dobson started a new offshoot of Focus on the Family called Focus on the Family Action, which he used to campaign openly for Bush. And during the campaign he joined Ralph Reed and born-again Watergate conspirator Charles Colson in regular conference calls with Karl Rove and other senior White House officials.
Woo-hoo. The left can organize a conference through email. How about funding some institutions?