Teenage pregnancy on the rise for the first time in 15 years.

So how well are all those abstinence-only over funded sex education programs doing anyway? If this report is anything to go buy the answer is “not very well.”

The birth rate had been dropping since its peak in 1991, although the decline had slowed in recent years. Yesterday, government statisticians said that it rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

U.S. health officials said that it was possibly a one-year statistical blip and not the beginning of an upward trend.

But several experts said that they have been expecting an increase. They attribute the rise to increased federal financing for abstinence-only health-education programs that do not teach teenagers how to use contraceptives.

Some key sexually transmitted disease rates have also been rising, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The rising teenage pregnancy rate is part of the same phenomenon, said Dr. Carol Hogue, a professor of maternal and child health at Emory University

“It’s not rocket science,” she said.

Indeed it’s not, but then we don’t have have any rocket scientists in the Bush administration.

Didn’t see this one coming. Apparently Dumbledore was gay.

JK Rowling says wizard Dumbledore is gay – washingtonpost.com

Speaking at Carnegie Hall on Friday night in her first U.S. tour in seven years, Rowling confirmed what some fans had always suspected—that she “always thought Dumbledore was gay,” reported entertainment Web site E! Online.

Rowling said Dumbledore fell in love with the charming wizard Gellert Grindelwald but when Grindelwald turned out to be more interested in the dark arts than good, Dumbledore was “terribly let down” and went on to destroy his rival.

That love, she said, was Dumbledore’s “great tragedy.”

“Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” she said.

The audience reportedly fell silent after the admission—then erupted into applause.

Rowling said she had read through a script for the movie adaptation of the sixth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and corrected a passage in which Dumbledore was reminiscing about past loves by crossing it out and scrawling “Dumbledore is gay” over it.

I never would’ve suspected that Dumbledore was supposed to be a gay character, but then I suppose that was probably the point. It should make re-reading the novels in the future a little more interesting as now I’ll be looking to see if there’s any subtle hints as to Dumbledore’s sexuality in them.

Update: Had to include the LOLCat once I saw it.

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE: Phelps to picket Sen. Larry Craig.

Do two wrongs make a right? Sometimes when they come up against each other it might be tempting to think so. At the very least it’s an occasion to pop up some popcorn and settle back in anticipation of the fireworks. Alas it appears I may have already missed all the fun:

Phelps’ Followers to Picket Sen. Craig :: EDGE Boston

In a press release dated Aug. 28, Westboro Baptist Church, located in Topeka, Kansas, exhorted followers to “Thank God for revealing a bit of truth about Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho; and, by a logical extension, about the United States Congress.”

Said the church’s press release, “Sen. Craig used his powerful office—(on loan from God, temporarily)—to oppose [Westboro Baptist Church], to speak against WBC, and to vote against WBC’s Constitutional rights of free religious exercise and freedom of speech.”

Now we know why he did that. Every member of Congress is either a fag or a fag-enabler,” he continued in the release. “God Almighty has now drawn back the curtain of hypocrisy and lies for all the world to see how fags and fag-enablers run the government at every level—starting at the top.”

Phelps believes that Craig’s purported sexuality was no secret to voters, the press or other legislators. The church would picket Senator Craig’s offices in Boise and in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11, respectively, “in religious protest and warning” with the message that, “God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Sen. Craig, and ldaho, and America.”

I’ve not said much about Sen. Craig as of yet because he’s still denying that he’s gay even though there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that he may very well be gay. If he is then he’s a hypocrite of the first order and if he’s not then the way he’s been treated by his fellow Republicans is pretty disgraceful considering that Sen. David Vitter has admitted to cheating on his wife with a prostitute and has largely been ignored by Republicans. Still, it’s fun watching Republicans being picketed by the likes of Phelps.

Link found via Canadian Cynic.

Maybe There Is A God After All…

Can it be? Is it really true? Yes, it appears that it is. An Iowa judge has allowed gays to marry in that state:

DES MOINES, Iowa – A county judge struck down Iowa’s decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional Thursday and ordered local officials to process marriage licenses for six gay couples.

Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling.

Less than two hours after word of the ruling was publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license, the first time the county had accepted a same-sex application. The approval process takes three days.

This is huge news, folks. Iowa is a red, culturally conservative state. If gay marriage has been recognized in Iowa, then hopefully it will be realized elsewhere in the country, including my home state of Kansas. I applaud Judge Hanson’s decision and his courage in undertaking it. I can only imagine that the Christian Right will be up in arms, with its more unhinged elements undoubtedly making claims on the judge’s life. I admire that he nonetheless capable and willing to do the right thing.

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Russia is one country that I have not traveled to, but it appears that it’s not my kind of place anyway, seeing how the country’s lower house introduced a bill seeking to criminalize homosexuality:

A bill introduced in Russia’s lower house will impose a five year prison sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality.
Gay sex was illegal under the Soviets but was decriminalized in 1993 when Communism fell.

The legislation, introduced Monday by Deputy Nikolay Kuryanovich would bring back the old law, and make it a crime for gays to congregate – a provision that would bar gay pride parades or meetings.

This kind of medieval authoritarianism surprises me even for Russia, which we all know has a widespread history of political and social repression. I think someone needs to call up Mr. Kuryanovich and remind him of what year we’re living in.

Found via Dispatches From The Culture Wars.

Teh Internets told me so

Whew!  I’m glad I found this ‘important’ and ‘well researched’ article in time!  Thanks to Jim Rutz, who must have performed whole nano-second of research, and cites no references what-so-ever, I can finally put this age-old question to bed!  Soy beans cause homosexuality.  Thankfully, I was breast fed, and have no cause to worry.  Oh wait.  Damn.  Too late.

All sarcasm aside, here’s some quotes from this kook:

A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals.

The soy bean is the devil!!!  Runnnnnn!!!

Unfortunately, when you eat or drink a lot of soy stuff, you’re also getting substantial quantities of estrogens.

For someone who received both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Language, you wouldn’t think they would use the phrase ‘a lot’ and ‘stuff’.  Also, soy contains phytoestrogen, not estrogen.  Although similar base compounds, it’s different.

Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t homosexual.” No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can’t remember a time when excess estrogen wasn’t influencing them.

Oh yeah, did I mention he’s a bible-thumper who writes for the extremely biased WorldNetDaily?

I feel bad for whomever may read his article and take it at face value.  I wish people did more research.

Here’s a link to some information about soy baby formula with CITED SOURCES.

Hat tip to ElectricHobbit and Accidental Hedonist.

Reparative Therapy: The Debate That Never Was

Jeez – I spend a couple weeks away, and there’s two huge new threads here about sexual orientation.  This was my brief comment about something I saw recently in the paper about Ted Haggard, and how he’s trying to get back into the fold.  Reposted on http://www.smugbaldy.com

In a recent article, AP columnist David Crary claims that the scandal involving the Reverend Ted Haggard and his extra-marital contact with a gay prostitute has “renewed the debate” about something that has widely been discredited in psychological circles: Reparative Therapy.

“Haggard is Exhibit A of how people can’t change their sexual orientation,” said Wayne Besen, a gay-rights activist and author. “With all that he had to lose—a wife, children, a huge church—he had to be who he was in the end. He couldn’t pray away the gay.”

Proponents of reparative therapy, however, claim that sexual orientation is changeable through the use of any of several techniques, many (though not all) of which are based on a Christian religious perspective.  Indeed, while some therapists use individual or group counseling or activities, many therapists utilize prayer, fasting, and religious instruction.  In some cases therapists attempt to cure homosexuality through the use of electroconvulsive therapy or aversion therapy [Ref].

Opponents of reparative therapy claim that sexual orientation is unchangeable, and as such, any efforts to change one’s orientation will not only be met with failure, but will also likely cause harm to the individual.  In addition, opponents criticize the science behind reparative therapy because of a lack of peer review as well as the potential for clinical research bias.  Essentially, current research does not support the central claim put forth by reparative therapy proponents – that homosexuality is innately negative, and as a result, homosexuals want to change.  In addition, critics point out that reparative therapy doesn’t speak to the issue of female homosexuality at all – which is another indication of clinical bias in its proponents. [Ref.]

The American Psychological Association makes it’s position very clear:

The term “reparative therapy” refers to psychotherapy aimed at eliminating homosexual desires and is used by people who do not think homosexuality is one variation within human sexual orientation, but rather still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder. The most important fact about “reparative therapy,” also sometimes known as “conversion” therapy, is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a “cure.”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association and defining the standard of the field, does not include homosexuality as a mental disorder. All other major health professional organizations have supported the American Psychiatric Association in its declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Thus, the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-gender sexual desires among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among health and mental health professional organizations.
[ref]

My take on this whole renewed debate is simple: There really isn’t a debate.  Never has been.

Instead, on one side we have had agreement from all the respected professional mental health associations since 1973 that homosexuality and bisexuality are normal variations within human sexual orientation.  On the other side, we have individuals and groups with political and religious interests in maintaining and consolidating social power, and they are clearly not above leveraging fear and pseudoscience to achieve their goals.  This “debate” isn’t about whether Ted can come back into the fold of heterosexuality, but rather about whether we are all dumb enough to believe that he should want to, or be forced to try to do so in the first place.

In addition, I believe that nothing speaks more eloquently of the circular logic that supports reparation therapy than this: If, in any argument involving homosexuality, we were apply the same logic to heterosexuality instead, does the argument still hold water?  For example, if we accept the premise behind reparation (or conversion) therapy that sexual orientation is changeable through Christian counseling techniques, then it should be quite possible for heterosexual individuals to become homosexual or bisexual if they pray, fast, or meditate enough.  Oops – wait a minute – here comes the kicker.  Proponents will quickly point out that this isn’t possible, because only non-hetero orientations are changeable.  Heterosexuality is what they call “innate sexual orientation” and it is not changeable – so once you’re hetero, you never go back because of its “special” status.  Clearly, this argument falls apart because it requires more than simple logic to support it – we also need to accept that heterosexuality is some sort of special sexual orientation that cannot be changed while any other orientation can be.

If you apply this little device to just about any claim made about sexual orientation: Lifestyle choice (When did you choose to become heterosexual?), political agenda (there’s a vast, heterosexual conspiracy), family raising (heterosexuals are the best parents) – you see that the claims just don’t hold water: Nobody decides to become heterosexual, there is no cabal of heterosexuals pushing the hetero political agenda, and the last time I checked, 99 percent of parents that abuse and murder their partners and children are heterosexual. 

There’s a simple explanation for all this and health professionals have been repeating it for over 30 years: Human sexual orientation is a continuum – and all variations of human sexuality are normal – even heterosexuality.

Homosexuality topic free-for-all

This thread is for everyone to talk about gay marriage, or how gays should have civil rights, or not have civil rights, or general theories of what causes homosexuality, or why that doesn’t matter, or WHATEVER.

… so we can let Consi and Shelly (and others with very specific contributions to make) explore the very specific topic of the genetic basis of homosexuality (if any) to be found in the twin studies.

Have at it!

The Evolution of Beauty.

The folks at The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty have put together a movie that’s a real eye opener on why our perceptions of what beauty is (in regards to women at least) are so screwed up.

It reminds me of when I was in my early 20’s and working as a copy jerk at a local Kinko’s. We had aspiring models come in all the time to get color copies made of their pictures and I was always amazed to discover they were models because when they’re not wearing makeup and professionally done hairstyles they tend to look kinda average. They weren’t unattractive people, but they weren’t OMFGLOOKITHERSHESGORGEOUS types either, but their pictures certainly were and back then it was mostly makeup and airbrushing that made it happen. Toss in today’s advanced makeup techniques and digital photo manipulation and it’s a whole other world.

Watch the following movie and marvel as a rather plain looking woman with facial blemishes is transformed into a stunning representation of feminine beauty that doesn’t exist in reality…

And we wonder why so many women have self-image problems.

Open Thread: Homosexuality

What are your feelings on the issue?  What evidence supports your belief, thoughts, ideas etc?  Why did you come about with those feelings, beliefs, thoughts, etc?  What do you feel or think about gay rights in terms of marriage, tax status, etc?  Have you ever met a gay person or know one personally?  What were they like?  Have you ever been approached by someone that is gay?  What was your reaction etc?

If you don’t want to answer the more personal questions feel free not to.  Just some ideas to get the blood flowing to the fingers…

[Editor’s Note: I’ve made a new Sexuality category seeing as the topic seems to come up regularly and none of the other categories were a good fit.]