Archive for January 30th, 2008

Florida City Law Defines ‘Gender Identity’ as ‘Inner Sense of Being, Without Regard to Sex at Birth’

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

You have got to be kidding!!

A Florida city has added itself to the ranks of governments that have decided to ban discrimination based on the “inner sense of being a specific gender … with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

The council in Gainesville this week narrowly voted to approve the gender identity protection plan that already is causing an uproar in Montgomery County, Md., where its implementation is being challenged by a citizens’ group over the apparent open-door attitude the ordinance has regarding public facilities including lockerrooms, showers and restrooms.

The ordinance Gainesville approved allows specific exceptions for “public accommodations” where “being seen fully unclothed is unavoidable,” but still earned the displeasure of a majority of those who attended the second public hearing, at which the plan was formally adopted.

The ordinance adds gender identity as a category of people provided special protections from discrimination. Already the city banned discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation and gender.

Commissioner Ed Braddy moved to deny the ordinance, and was joined by Commissioner Rick Bryant.

“When you boil it down the issue is that because of some people who have some sort of emotional or psychological issue, others have to change,” Braddy said, according to a report in the Gainesville Sun.

But a majority of the panel approved the new law, which affects the city laws governing the Human Rights Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity rules, Equal Access to Places of Public Accommodation, Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity provisions.

“Gender identity, as defined in the proposed ordinance, means ‘an inner sense of being a specific gender, or the expression of a gender identity by verbal statement, appearance, or mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth,'” the city said.

“The general procedures and prohibitions … would apply to discrimination on the basis of gender identity as it would to discrimination on the basis of other protected classes,” the city continued.

The exceptions would be allowed for “certain shared facilities” such as “a shared shower or dressing facility.”

“Denial of access to such facilities would be permitted if the covered entity provided reasonable access to adequate facilities that are not inconsistent with the person’s gender identity, as established with the entity at the time of initial access, or upon notification to the entity that the individual has undergone or is undergoing gender transition…”

David Caton, who leads the Florida Family Association, told WND that such moves are “outrageous.”

He said his organization has been protesting such plans for some time, pointing out that ordinances like this essentially could be argued before a judge to protect “the right of a person to dress one day as a man, and another day as a woman.”

“It’s absolutely atrocious for our children to have to deal with that kind of social engineering,” he said.

“The worst part of it is when they get one day in the press, and the government gives its stamp of approval to do all kinds of weird things …. Our biggest obligation is saying it’s not ok,” he said.

The Sun reported a “majority” of the standing-room-only crowd at the council meeting opposed the ordinance. In the end Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan was joined by commissioners Craig Lowe, Jeanna Mastrodicasa and Jack Donovan to approve the new rule.

Commissioner Scherwin Henry had supported the law on the first reading, but changed and opposed it on final reading.

The newspaper said several other locations in Florida, including Key West, West Palm Beach and Miami Beach, already have protections for those with “gender identity” issues.

In Montgomery County, Md., there already has been a “trial run” of its new law that arguably would allow coed locker rooms in public accommodations, and women aren’t pleased with the results. Montgomery County’s law contains no specific exception to public facilities such as lockerrooms, showers and restrooms.

The “trial run” happened recently when a man, wearing a skirt and makeup, walked into a women’s locker room at a health club.

“I could see his muscles, I could see his large hands. He was wearing a blue ruffled skirt that came down to above the knee,” Mary Ann Andree told WJLA-Television after the incident at the Rio Sport and Health Club in Gaithersburg.

“I was very upset, I’m still upset,” Andree told the station. “There’s a lot he could’ve seen.”

“It is becoming obvious that this bill will have very real and serious repercussions,” said Michelle Turner, a spokeswoman for the local organization that has adopted the Not My Shower slogan and is working on a petition that would have residents vote on the plan.

The group, Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government, has been critical of the suggestion since before it was given a green light by elected officials in Montgomery County and then signed into law by County Executive Ike Leggett.

Patrick Lacefield, the county’s communications director, told WND the county’s legal team has advised that the provisions of the ban on discrimination by gender would not apply to “intimate facilities.”

However, he admitted nowhere in the law is that stated.

“We do not feel that it was necessary to explicitly state that,” he said.

Original Link.

Homosexuals Squelch Facts About MRSA Outbreak, Conservatives Say

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

We posted about this earlier in January. Instead of squelching the facts about this deadly Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), the homosexuals should be doing more to protect themselves. Ceasing to engage in homosexual behavior would a great way to protect themselves from this disease.

(CNSNews.com) – Conservative groups say the truth about a new “multi-drug resistant microbe” prevalent among homosexual men is not being presented to the public because of political correctness.

Almost two weeks ago, researchers announced they have isolated a new form of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, an infection that is spreading through San Francisco’s homosexual community and could spread to the general community.

“These multi-drug resistant infections often affect gay men at body sites in which skin-to-skin contact occurs during sexual activities,” said Binh Diep, the University of California-San Francisco scientist who led the team that made the finding.

In fact, the researchers determined that this variant of MRSA infection is 13 to 14 times more prevalent in homosexual men than for the general population.

But the media are now obscuring that fact, according to Matt Barber, director of cultural policy for Concerned Women for America (CWA).

“The real story here is the way that the media have whitewashed this outbreak,” Barber told Cybercast News Service. “It is amazing to see what they’ve done with this.”

Barber said the initial reporting of the outbreak was “pretty solid” and news accounts related the facts “as is,” but the coverage began to change after conservative groups like CWA noted that this variant is primarily spread by men having anal sex.

“The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other organizations began to jump up and down a bit and scream, and The New York Times and other organizations started to backpedal,” Barber said.

“The story was no longer the dangers associated with the outbreak – and the behaviors associated with it,” said Barber. “The story now became about how groups like mine were supposedly misrepresenting the outbreak as some sort of ‘new gay plague’ or ‘the new AIDS’ – things we never said.”

Indeed, HRC accused CWA and others of being “anti-gay bigots” for recommending that one way to stop this outbreak of the infection is for homosexual men to curtail having anal sex – at least for a while.

“Serious medical issues deserve serious consideration, not wildly off-the-mark press releases from anti-gay groups trying to capture media attention,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a news release.

“We saw this kind of hysteria in the early 1980s around HIV/AIDS, and I’ll be damned if we will sit idly by in 2008 and let them perpetrate that type of anti-gay hysteria without calling them out on it,” he said.

Since the homosexual backlash, the University of California-San Francisco has apologized for the fact that the study mentions homosexual men.

“We regret that our recent news report (1-14-08) about an important population-based study on MRSA USA300 with public health implications contained some information that could be interpreted as misleading,” the university’s Web site said.

“We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns, and we will be working to ensure that accurate information about the research is disseminated to the health community and the general public,” it added.

Even the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken a somewhat politically correct line. In a statement issued recently on the new outbreak, the government agency said it is “not a sexually transmitted disease in the classic sense” – and that spread of the bacteria could be stopped by washing hands and covering open wounds.

“We never suggested that it was a sexually transmitted disease,” CWA’s Barber countered. “We only talked about the specific behaviors that are causing this infection to spread.”

Internationally known infectious disease specialist Dr. John Diggs is siding with the conservatives. The Massachusetts-based physician said treating any infection in a politically correct manner could be dangerous. Treating MRSA that way could prove fatal.

“This outbreak is especially troubling because it is a community-based form of MRSA,” said Diggs, who is an executive committee member of the Physicians Consortium. “Until recently, MRSA has typically been confined to hospitals. The implications are very serious, because we don’t know exactly where this is going to go.”

Medically speaking, any break in the skin that is exposed to the organism can then set off an infection, which can destroy “a lot of tissue” before it’s brought under control, Diggs said.

“You can take something that was relatively isolated in a small place, and suddenly, when it spreads to the general population, things such as school wrestling matches, or football games or basketball games or other sporting events, can take on a specter – they can become deadly,” he added.

The fact is, the epicenter for this outbreak is among men who are having sex with men, Diggs told Cybercast News Service. Researchers identified the rates of drug resistance on the basis of ZIP codes, not ideology.

“The particular ZIP codes they looked at were ones that were associated primarily with men who were having sex with other men,” he said, “the Castro district in San Francisco and also a healthcare center called the Fenway, here in Massachusetts, in Boston.”

Diggs noted that the study itself pointed out that the infection manifests as “an abscess in the buttocks, genitals or perineum” and concluded that it “probably started out in San Francisco, and has been disseminated by the frequent cross-coastal travel” of homosexual men traveling from San Francisco to Boston.

“Men who practice anal sex, men who have promiscuous sex, men who have multiple partners in short periods of time are much more likely to spread this disease,” he said. “It’s not because of who they are. It’s because of that they do.”

“Now I know that a lot of people have attacked those who have brought this to people’s attention as being homophobic, but the real issue – and you have to face the facts – is that men who have sex with men have very high rates of sexually transmitted disease,” Diggs said.

“When you face that reality, then you have to start taking a serious look and deciding that the best public health intervention is to discourage behavior that causes the infection to spread.”

The biggest problem with this new strain – as with any variant of MRSA, Diggs said, is that it is increasingly difficult to find drugs that will effectively combat the problem.

The study appears in the online version of The Annals of Internal Medicine.

Original Link.

“THE PROFESSOR AND THE REBBETZIN” by Fern Sidman

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

The story of Paula (Penina) Lester

Within each Jewish soul there is to be found the most potent of all components, the pintele yid, the Jewish spark that waits to be ignited, and hence to illuminate the world. Throughout history, the Jewish people have been blessed with many great seekers of wisdom and truth. Those individuals who constantly yearn for a genuine connection to the spiritual, who are driven by a desire to create a relationship with the G-d of truth, justice, mercy and compassion. The following is the miraculous story of a Jewish woman who has found her way back to her heritage, to her G-d and to a Torah life, with the personal supervision of Hashem and with the help of a very special Rebbetzin.

At age 58, Paula (Penina) Lester is a tenured university professor at CW Post and veteran academic who never imagined in her wildest dreams that she would ever be lighting Shabbos candles, praying from a Siddur and learning Torah. Having been born and raised in a secular Jewish home, she had limited exposure to authentic Judaism, yet her quest for spiritual fulfillment propelled her on a path that saw a multitude of twists and turns.

“When I was growing up I felt more American than Jewish,” says Penina. “I grew up in the Bronx, my family was basically secular, although my grandparents were Orthodox and we would often spend Shabbos afternoon with them, enjoying a wonderful meal. Our home was kosher, (although we ate non-kosher outside of the house), we would take off from public school on Jewish holidays, we would have Passover Sedorim and celebrate Chanukah but something was missing. I never really had a formal Jewish education as a child, I had never read the Bible and I certainly was ignorant of Torah teachings, yet I knew that I was a Jew. When I was about 13, I recall saving up my allowance so I could buy a sterling silver mezuzah which I still have in my car.”

Penina became immersed in the world of secular academia and went on to pursue a career in teaching like her mother before her. “I knew I wanted to go to Hunter College and become a teacher like my mother. I got my Bachelor’s degree from Hunter and also got my Masters degree in Spanish from Lehman College. Then it was on to Pace University where I received my Masters in educational administration. My last stop was New York University where I received a PhD in organizational and administrative studies. It was while I was in college that I stopped taking days off for Jewish holidays.”

It was while at Pace University that Penina met two people who not only became dear friends but also served as unknowing catalysts on her path back to Hashem and Torah. ” Rose was a professor that I had during my first graduate course at Pace University. Her husband Lloyd was also a professor that I had while I was pursuing my doctorate. They were not Jewish, however we became close friends and I considered Rose to be a mentor of sorts. They moved to Nevada in 1990 to take teaching positions out there and they invited me to visit. It was when I paid them a visit and spent a considerable amount of time with them that I found out that they were both devout Mormons. I’m grateful to Rose and Lloyd for inspiring me to read the scripture and getting me to pray everyday.”

Despite the Mormon influence of her friends, Penina never forgot that she was a Jew. “When I visited with Rose and Lloyd, I attended a Reform temple on Friday nights and Saturday morning but then joined them at the Mormon chapel on Sundays. Needless to say, I was searching for something. I knew something essential and true was missing from my life, yet I wasn’t quite sure what it was. My family and friends were concerned about the Mormon influence in my life. They knew that when I left New York I was a Jew, yet they didn’t know whether or not I would come home a Jew.”

In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Penina felt drawn to join a synagogue and become part of a community. “I felt the need to be part of something bigger than myself. This was a major commitment on my part. I had never belonged to a synagogue before. I joined a Reform synagogue in my area. I gave up my social life on Friday night to attend services and to worship G-d, yet what I was searching for was still ambiguous.”

It was in the fall of 2006, that Penina felt the direct hand of Hashem in her quest for spiritual fulfillment. “I was asked to teach a course in Rockland County and I have never taught there before. This was my very first time. Only three students in my class were Jewish and one of them was Chaya Rosenberg, a young Orthodox woman who uses the name Cheryl in class. One day we started talking and she didn’t realize that I was Jewish. I told her that I was and we made this instant connection. She asked if I’d like to come and hear Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis of Hineni speak and I said that would be great.”

During this period of time Penina was busy with academic pursuits as well. “At this juncture in time I submitted a paper for an international conference to be held in Israel and I had never been to Israel before. The truth is I never really wanted to go to Israel. I never paid much attention to Israel and really didn’t understand it’s significance to the Jewish people. I figured if G-d wants me to go to Israel then my paper will be accepted. If G-d doesn’t want me to go then my paper won’t be accepted. Well, my paper was accepted and now I was actually going.”

It was now May of 2007 and Penina took her student up on her offer to hear Rebbetzin Jungreis speak. “I attended Rebbetzin Jungreis’ weekly Torah class and I realized that everything that what she was saying was so right, so true. I had tears flowing down my face before the class was over. I was deeply touched and very moved by her words of faith and inspiration. When you talk about G-d, you talk about something that’s an abstract concept, but not with Rebbetzin Jungreis. The Rebbetzin brings the Torah to life, makes you see your own personal connection to G-d. Her words reach deep down inside of you, they touch both your heart and soul and you cannot walk away without a tangible understanding of Hashem in our lives. It was then that I realized that my search was over. I understood that my destiny and role in life was as a Jew and I hungered to learn more and become closer with my G-d.”

Penina recalls her first private meeting with Rebbetzin Jungreis. “I told the Rebbetzin that I would be visiting Israel for the first time, that I was nervous and asked her for a brocha. In her own inimitable loving way, she not only gave me a blessing but gave me ten things to do while in Israel. She told me to go to the Kotel at midnight and pray, just pour my heart out to G-d, to ask His forgiveness for past sins and misdeeds and for an opportunity for to start fresh. At that point, she told me that even though I wasn’t born Jewish, I should still ask Hashem for His blessings. I politely told the Rebbetzin that I was Jewish, born to two Jewish parents. She said that before she meets someone for the first time Hashem her a feeling about that person. It was then that I understood that what the Rebbetzin was sensing was my friend Rose and her influence on me.”

This first meeting between Penina and the Rebbetzin would be the first of many more to come. “The Rebbetzin gave me my Hebrew name of Penina and told me that from now on, she would be my spiritual mother. She gave me two very special blessings. One of which was a blessing that her father would give her and she pointed to his picture on the wall and said remember this face. Remember that my father will always be with you. As tears once again filled my eyes she gave me another blessing and told me that when I’m in Israel, I should keep Shabbos, adhere to its laws and to keep strictly kosher. This was all very new to me and very challenging but I did it along with the many other things she advised me to do.”

Penina’s experience in Israel was a most powerful one as she kept the Rebbetzin and her instructions in mind at all times. She felt the unique connection between herself and her G-d, between the Jewish people and this holy land that G-d gave them. Upon her return from Israel, Penina began to attend the Rebbetzin’s classes regularly and has formed a close and palpable bond with her Torah teacher and spiritual mother. “I felt the direct and personal supervision from Hashem since the day that I was asked to teach in Rockland County and met Chaya who introduced me to the Rebbetzin. It was as if Hashem heard my inner cries for the truth, for meaningful direction on my spiritual journey. I know that Hashem brought me to Rebbetzin Jungreis and the Rebbetzin feels that I was brought to her for a reason. Since that day, the Rebbetzin has set me up with some very special people and lovely homes to spend Shabbos, and now I am becoming more observant of Torah laws each day.

Penina continued, “Here I am, in my late 50s and my seemingly endless search has reached it’s final destination. I have returned home. I have returned to Hashem, to Torah and mitzvos and I am exceptionally grateful and enormously thankful for the guidance, direction and love of my holy and revered Torah teacher, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. May Hashem continue to bless her with strength and may her words of Torah fill the hearts of all Jews from all backgrounds and levels of observance and through her love for every Jew, may we be zoche to the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.”

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.