New Comment Policy

I’ve never had a comment policy before … that was until I started getting a slew of emails from regular readers telling me they can’t continue commenting when they feel they are just going to get jumped all over. So, for the first time, here is my Comment Policy. Thank you in advance for following it.

Much love.

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  • AdamN

    The problem with this kind of thing is that other then the people that were already reading this blog and following your foundation, the larger gay community is now incredibly suspicious of the intentions of the Marin Foundation because of the story that broke via Dan Savage, Towelroad, Signorile and other sources. By shutting down debate you risk playing into the idea of the Marin Foundation that is being put forth by these news sources and alienating more gay people that you would want to build bridges with. Isn’t building bridges about dialogue? And with such a contentious issue as Evangelicals and homosexuality, shouldn’t one expect some debate inside of that dialogue because of the high stakes involved?
    Maybe its better to negotiate a way to keep the discussion, dialogue and debate civil instead of making it silent?
    Just my two cents…

    • AdamN – I totally agree with you. I am the only one who has control over what gets deleted. And as you can tell, I sure allow a ton – especially disagreements. I have no problem with disagreements. I’m just going to be cutting off the ones that are very unproductive, name-calling or trying to solely consentrated on pinning one group of folks down from the other. And don’t think that the conservative world isn’t thinking the exact same things you wrote either. It’s a two-way street with this audience. I’m not shutting anything down….this blog can’t be a venting punching bag that tears everything down just to make one person feel better; which at times recently it has become. There never has been any silence, and there never will be. I can promise you that.

      • AdamN

        I guess I haven’t particularly seen that much evidence of bad behavior. Sure Dora’s posts are long and mine have been aggressive in the past (but as I explained elsewhere I had my reasons for that). Eugene has written well and thoughtfully on here.
        I do see a lot of other people wanting to ban any debate or criticism entirely in favor of everybody just getting along and I don’t think that’s ultimately healthy for the Marin Organization or its followers. Its certainly not going to convince anyone who is hesitant about the organization.
        But its your blog so do what you want with it I guess. Look forward to talking to you via email soon.

  • Dora

    I think that all people simply should have more courage as commentators.
    Some of us have been in a war for decades– a war against hatred of gay people, a war against women in ministry, or lesbians in ministry. We lived through the AIDS war, and so to try to control gay commentary is not really about bridges or the difficulty of reading the harsh truth of gay and lesbian lives, it is about… I don’t know what. Perhaps intellectual dishonesty, perhaps a lack of conviction that evangelical straight people, where they are now, are probably the most hated Americans out there as far as gay community is concerned. And why would this group be hated? And why would gays be so suspicious and adament?

    If we can’t deal with the truth, or if we are white male straight and privileged, this comments policy comes across as well… There is civility in commentary, and then there is the harsh truth — that certain kinds of christian churches are actively trying to have gays killed, but worse, they have been in a war with the selves and families of gay people for decades now.

    We keep referring to MLK’s letter from a birmingham jail for a reason.

    There is truth, their is bridge building. I’ve told many gay people to visit this site; they’ve had problems with it, and with its evasions. We can elevate a conversation to “censorship” or we can deal head on with the truth of what fundamentalist christians actually do in the world. Personally I find the avoidance of genuine lesbian concerns here suspect to be polite.

    Conservative straight christians are never going to be loved by most gay people, because the bottom line is, this group thinks we are simply wrong.
    They preach that god hats gays, and that this is ok. Only the most closeted and self hating of gays will stay in those churches.

    So what does bridgebuilding really mean? And who should one believe? A straight man? A gay male journalist? There will never be agreement, and I have always found agreement the hob-goblin of cowardly minds, to paraphrase Thoreau. You can’t have bridges if you censor ideas, and fundamentalists are always about censorship of the gay world. They are about silencing anyone who doesn’t live according to their dicatates.

    Is this blog an engine of censorship or truth? How much courage do people have?

    • Dora – Guess we’ll all have to see how it goes, then won’t we? It’s a first for me too. As I said to Adam, I’m not shutting any dialogue down. Censorship? Not so much… I’m just going to promote productive disagreements without name calling, slander and/or conversation stoppers.

    • Joe S

      A key virtue in Christianity – and this applies whether you are black, white, gay, straight, rich poor, young, old, male, female – is humility. It’s difficult to be humble (a cowardly frame of mind?) when you are proudly shouting people down with the “harsh truth”.

      • So true Joe S. Great reminder to me and everyone else too.

  • Bren

    AdmamN – I don’t think a comment policy is shutting down the conversation by any means. It is away to hopefully allow for a more productive forum for all to feel they have a voice. I think Andrew does have a responsibility to allow all who believe they are on this faith and sexuality journey to be able to speak freely. I will admit that I am one who didn’t feel comfortable responding to certain posts because the conversation being held seemed as if it was going no where fast and no one was ever going to be satisfied with a conclusion. I understand though your concerns and I do believe Andrew will make sure that all are welcome to voice their thoughts, opinions, support, and skeptism. As for the stories written about The Marin Foundation there is only one article referenced amoung all three of the above mentioned sources and that is the Signorile article. Niether Dan Savage or Towelroad had any new items to add to the discusion about The Marin Foundation. I think we all need to consider that in the 10+ years the Marin Foundation and Andrew have been doing their bridge building work this is the only LGBTQ article that has ever been written negatively about his work and any subsequent article and/or blog only references the information which was written about in the 2006 Signorile article (although there are several Christian articles and forums upset with Andrew, but they are upset because Andrew dares to challenge their thought process and traditions – which I would assume is very positive for everyone – but maybe I am naive (sorry for the sarcasm)). Even the “new” evidence can only go back to the 2006 article. Additionally, there still has been no concrete testimony from anyone that Andrew has ever asked them to change their sexual orientation. You and many of Andrew’s skeptics are basing their entire opinion on him and his work from one article which may not be completely accurate (Steve Forst form Dignity having to write the Advocate to refute all statements presented by Signorile about him – sure Signorile stands by his journalist reporting – but they all say that). Why do you not take into account the lives that have been impacted by The Marin Foundation and Andrew? Why do their statements mean less then the one article which is referenced over and over again as the only evidence. There were a ton of people who proved otherwise. I am just curious I guess. I love the Marin Foundation and the work they do and I will continue to support them. I do believe the comment policy is important and guidlines do need to be set. I do think you might be over blowing the entire reasons for the policy, and are like Dora, seemingly hoping to ignight a conversation battle again – which I guess I took it (what’s the saying bait, line, sinker – I probably got that wrong – I am terrible with those cheesy sayings).

    • AdamN

      Actually I have no interest (or time) to re-ignite a conversation right now. You can look at my previous comments to know exactly what my issues are (the audio tape that many of us found disturbing, gay kids and the Marin Foundation, the lack of clear stance in regards to gay people and their civil rights in favor of neutrality, etc)…and no I am still not done being concerned with this organization and its impact on gay people (esp. gay kids) even if I am more convinced of Andrew’s positive intentions. But at this point I’d rather speak directly to Andrew about it via email.
      I agree that debating in the comments here is not going anywhere but I think the real reason for that is one side wants to question and debate to arrive at an understanding or some answers and the other side doesn’t want to engage in any critical dialogue at all because to them it only produces frustration and negative energy. Personally I think criticism, debate and dialogue are ultimately good if not always pretty all the time, unquestioning conformism not so much.

  • Dora

    I guess it’s all in the definitions. And also definitions of power — who has it, privilege, who has it, and that the privileged have an obligation to own it.
    Ignorance of this is perilous in this day and age.

    Again, this most powerful place of truth, is when people who are marginalized speak for themselves, not have others speak “about them” or even “for them.” When the oppressed truly speak, then change occurs, and we do have to be honest as to who the oppressed really are, and who desires freedom from this oppression.

    Those who face more oppression and erasure are not going to be as patient as those with enormous privilege and social access. The world creates hierarchies of oppression, and the oppressors have a stake in keeping this oppression invisable.

    The lesbian and gay world simply reveals more about human society, than was previously believed to exist. We have gone from being isolated individuals, to coming to consciousness as a people. As we gain power as a people, we are not willing to step and fetch it— and this gay and lesbian liberationist position will come in natural conflict with fundamentalists who believe they are dealing with individual sinners. The usual use and abuse of the Bible, nothing new there.

    There are lots of questions that could be explored on this blog. Is it about one person? Is it about the truth of all lesbian and gay beings, and the intersection with a world that believes it is default human or normative?

    Is it about institutional christianity or post-institutional faith? There is a big difference. Even Anne Rice said the other day that she is done with christianity, but not with Christ.

  • Dora

    Found this quote today by Doug Blanachard:

    “I’m not prepared to concede the Gospel to people who believe that they own the copyright to it, and who use it as a cudgel to dominate others.”

    This very sensible gay male episcopalian had his way of seeing christianity and christ, and the followers who abuse god’s name. So in that sense a truly gay christianity is very threatening to straight fundamenalism, just as feminism is a threat to the male supremacy of “christianity” but not christ himself. Christ always sides with the oppressed, that’s his delightful bias 🙂

    • “I’m not prepared to concede the Gospel to people who believe that they own the copyright to it, and who use it as a cudgel to dominate others.”

      I had the privilege of meeting Andrew today and talking about the work of the Marin Foundation and about the philosophy behind what they do. One thread of our conversation dovetailed nicely with this quote. We talked about how Christians can often distort the gospel and use it to try and control people. Many Christians, myself included, need to learn how to let go of control and simply be faithful to showing Christs love. And dora, as you nicely pointed out, that means being on the side of the oppressed. Fortunately, though His love doesn’t end there. He miraculously loves the oppressors and haters to and offers them the same grace. Really quite amazing when you think about it. That has implications for how we all fight injustice: seeking to right the wrongs but to also reconcile oppressed with oppressor in a beautiful way only possible through the power of Christ.

  • If I could read between the lines about the comment policy.

    I think there is a line that has been crossed in recent weeks. I’ve never known Andy to shut down conversation. (And I’ve witnessed some ugly ones in his work with the conservative right) The debate and discussion of the last few weeks is precisely why TMF is important… someone has to be the point of discussion between two very polarized communities.

    But when it turns into personal attack on his person rather than his position, it has crossed a line that isn’t productive to the greater conversation. I don’t think anyone has a problem arguing their point vehemently, but when you bring a persons family life or other personal information to the table… that’s no longer elevating the conversation. That’s trying to bring the conversation down to afternoon talk show levels that ultimately don’t help anyone.

  • Dora

    I don’t believe humility is a key virtue when women have to deal with it.
    The negation of self is not a virtue for women.

    • Joe S

      It’s the heart of the gospel. Without it Christianity is the religion of mad men… and women 😉

      Why did the creator of the universe, everything, the whole of reality go silently to the cross? Did He lack self-esteem?

      • Eugene

        It’s a little too easy to be so humble when you can easily send people to hell. 🙂

        Jokes aside, I do believe that some of the tension in these discussions results from powerlessness – either short-term powerlessness (the gay community) or long-term powerlessness (anti-gay Christians). Conservative Christians know they’re losing it, and they’re so afraid that “Christian” will become a dirty word that, ironically, they’re doing almost everything to make it happen.

        • Eugene – The humble ones aren’t the ones casting people to hell! There is a difference between different shades of different Christians – even conservative ones. Just like the LGBT community (Christian and non) aren’t all the same person, neither is conservativism.

          Dora – Men or woman; intersex or transgender; humility is the key virtue to living a peaceful and productive life. Period. If you don’t at least agree with that, there is nothing on this blog you will ever agree with. Please see Tobias’ comment below.

          • Eugene

            My comment about “sending people to hell” isn’t about Christians. It’s about Jesus. 🙂 Tobias actually said the same thing: “Humility comes from a position of great strength in my opinion.” Jesus had the strength, so he could be humble. Both gay people and anti-gay Christians don’t have the strength, so they aren’t as humble. 🙂

    • Tobias

      I don’t think that humility is the negation of self. I think I can see where you’re coming from, though, since women have often been told to be humble when really they were told to submit to men. I don’t believe this is humbleness, though. Humility comes from a position of great strength in my opinion. I believe that only when I’m absolutely convinced that nobody can hurt me and take away my dignity can I really be humble. But as always with words and language, this might have different connotations for you than it has for me.

      • Tobias – Wow. That is serioulsy the best description I have ever read on ‘humble’ in regards to gender relations.

        • Tobias

          Thanks, Andrew. 🙂
          I appreciate that.

  • Dora

    I’m coming from a feminist christian perspective, so I question just about every aspect of androcentrically based theologies.

    • Dora – That is the bigger issue, I believe. And I am so thankful you wrote that. It puts your filter to your comments in perfect context.

    • Dora, I’ll put my cards on the table – as that sort of thing appeals to me and I’m not running an organisation which exists to encourage dialogue.

      I went to see Andrew speak at a Courage (a gay affirming Evangelical Christian organisation) meeting in April. I walked away from that meeting thinking, “He’s a sneaky liberal!” and more or less gave up on him and this site. I also posted a comment here about how discouraging it is for gay-but-not-affirming Christians when our straight counterparts won’t publicly defend us on this issue.

      Like you, I want Andrew to spell out his convictions (even if I’m coming from a different Christian perspective) but watching him being (verbally) beaten down by the secular GLBT side has made me reconsider whether he is a sneaky anything. I’m back to being intrigued by what he’s doing here.

      • Joe S – Thanks for coming on back, even if with the unique set of circumstances that peeked your interest. I’m sorry you feel I’ve been sneaky, and a sneaky liberal at that. I’m not trying to be a sneaky. I hope we can continue to engage. I’m not trying to hide anything; just live as close to Jesus’ ways as I can grasp. Much love.

  • Dora

    “Humble” and “humility” are words that men use to subjugate women. When we wanted the vote, we were told to be humble and let the husbands be the “head” of the family. So that word, when used by men “at” women just doesn’t cut it. Jesus had humility because I believe he did come from a power position. Humble to me always comes across as “the slaves happily obeying massa” or “helpmeet” women dominated by husbands. That’s how I see it. Since I am not heterosexual, and am a lesbian feminist christian, you can see that my theology has very little in common with male notions of christianity. I put this out there, because if sexism is not addressed, if racism is not addressed, then who’s bridge is this really? Obviously lesbian feminist christians would have a lot to say here, we have a long tradition of scholarship, and I think most of the guys writing here don’t give a damn about it. It is very apparent to me, and I’m just saying that ignorance of that scholarship will make any organization that supposedly wants to build a bridge highly suspect. Or are lesbian feminist christians simply not welcome at this party? Putting my cards on the table.
    Just say it, if lesbian feminist christians are not welcome here, then I need to know this, and so do my lesbian sisters. It is about honesty guys. If you don’t want to deal with this, then at least have the courage to say we don’t give a damn about it, we want our male club here, and that will be that.

    But I do want an answer, and I am suspicious when men really avoid these challenges, and believe me, women have been in a culture war just as much as gay men have been. It looks different, because gay men have male privilege, but they don’t want to own up to it. There will be conflict over this guys.

    Right wing christians are the enemy of feminists, they are the enemy of lesbians, and they are the enemy of gay men.

    What happens historically, is that the “liberals” want to fight against the “conservatives” but women conveniently get left out of the mix. I am so familiar with this, and I can see it so clearly here. Remember, I am on the receiving end of sexism and every man is sexist. I see it and feel it, and it is real. Men deny this just as white people deny institutional racism. The oppressed do see this very clearly, and those in power or in control want to avoid this topic. Jesus confronted those men, he told them to stop making women objects, stop using ritual purity laws to shut women out. Jesus stood at the side of women, and they were with him at the cross. Women raised money and funded his early ministry. Without women, there would be no Jesus. Anyway, just tell me if lesbian feminist christians have a place at this table. If we don’t I will stop commenting and at least know the truth one way or another.

    And if you aren’t familiar with lesbian feminist christianity, then get to work reading. I’d be happy to recommend the many hundreds of books on the topic, some of them dating back to the early 80s– this is NOT NEW STUFF.
    Intellectual laziness is not a good excuse in this day and age.

    • Dora – You threw out so many loaded one-sided bombs it’s hard to even respond. Let me try though:

      1. The words humble and humility are not words men use to subjugate woman. See Tobias’ comment. I don’t know you or the context of what you have lived within throughout your life, but from my persepctive (as well as that of my self-proclaiming stick-it-to-the-man feminist wife) I have no idea where you get that thought from, from reading on this blog.

      2. Chill out with the slave analogies. They’re old and cliche. I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist, because it clearly does! But it sure doesn’t on this blog from me, or any of the commenters. So you can stop railing your comments to a non-sexist blog and and non-sexist commenters to tell us/me we’re sexist just because I/some of us are men/evangelical/straight/not lesbian feminists.

      3. Lesbian feminists do indeed have a long tradition of scholarship (of which I have read a number of book and written a number of papers on for the 3 woman’s feminism classes I took in college, among other things) – but the problem is that it’s just scholarship and hardly ever put into practice other than disengaging culture and men – gay and straight. From my persepctive, scholarship means nothing without relationship; and yes, that goes for any type of think tank based “scholarship” from any persepctive.

      4. Of course feminist lesbians are welcome to this party. I would have blocked you after your first comment if that were not the case. But quit playing the victim card here. It’s getting really old. No one is attacking your lesbian feminist thoughts. Maybe people do that in other places and that is why you are so defensive? I don’t know; I just know what I constantly read in your words. Who are you trying to prove yourself to, here? Your worthy to comment just because you read. It’s all good.

      5. Not sure what men are avoiding on the blog? It might be because, and I’m just being honest here, you write the longest comments all of the time and bring up so many points that they are hard to all respond to in succinct fashion. Speaking personally, there is a lot that I lose of your thoughts due to the shear number of words and ideas you put in each comment. So yes, there is probably a lot that you write that doesn’t get responded to direclty. Try short comments with one thought each like everyone else – not a thesis or history lesson.

      6. You say: “Right wing christians are the enemy of feminists, they are the enemy of lesbians, and they are the enemy of gay men”. Not here Dora. The more you think that and try to ram your worldview in everyone’s faces, the more you’ll continue to lose people wanting to try an honest dialogue with you. I have gotten a number of emails from men AND woman (yes, even 3 of them came from out LESBIANS!) who are tired of your same stuff everytime; they have already given up on you. I haven’t, otherwise I would have blocked you already. This dialogue is important, but it needs to start turning constructive.

      7. Your last 2 paragraphs are a big complaint with a few insults. No, not EVERY man is a sexist. What you wrote in those 2 paragraphs just proves my above points/questions.

    • Tobias

      Hey Dora,

      just as Andrew I’m a little taken aback by your comment. I think I said just the same as you so why not just agree. I also think that humility is never something anybody should use “at” anybody else to control them. This doesn’t result in humility but rather in co-dependent relationships.


  • Debbie Thurman

    I have read this thread with interest, though I did not get to read the one that apparently elicited the comment policy. I agree that such policies are needed on most blogs, especially those that deal with contentious issues.

    I read the following observation in a commentary today and thought it really drove home an important point:

    “A psychiatrist recently confided that it used to be that patients spent a lot of time dealing with guilt. Now, his therapy is focused on rampant narcissism.”

    I believe the mere fact that people have so many public forums open to them today makes it easier than ever to let this apparent narcissism spill over into our viewpoints. What used to remain beneath the surface tends to bubble over now. Civility is becoming a thing of the past. We can even prattle on anonymously, which only makes it worse.

    Dora, I sympathize with some of what you feel, but certainly not all of it. Scholarship is not the sole basis of knowledge. Wisdom is highly valued in the Bible, but not intellectualism. We are warned against thinking ourselves to be wiser than (fill in the blank) and are promised to be taken down a peg if we do (Pride goes before a fall). Humility is something meant to be practiced by all mankind before the Lord Jesus Christ. No man or woman is entitled to demand humility from another. Civility and neighborly love will have their effect, of course. We can respect others without having to either cower before them or beat them down.

    Everyone here is well aware that women have had a raw deal in many ways. We’ve had discussions with Christo-lesbi-feminists here before, too. Unfortunately, the heavy harangues against men and the victimization theme were a turn-off. Andrew remembers this well. Put forth your thoughts succinctly and with an eye toward common ground and you may find others wiling to engage you.

  • wackywilliams

    I finly got the chance to get online & look at the new policy, I respect it but Andrew if I could ask a favor, I tend to alot of times write long commints becuse I have so much going on in my brain, but if I do write one longer then you allow PLEASE warn me before you take action, I hope you know it is never my intent to manoplise the conversation. thanks, I haven’t been able to get online for a few months now & don’t know when I can again in the near futer so you won’t have to worry about me much, it just made me nervios