Saturday, June 11, 2005 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA

Fruit Flies and Choice

For all of you right wing wackos that think being gay is a choice, I have some conclusive news for you. You're wrong. But then, we knew that all along, didn't we? And since it's not a choice, it's not a sin. And since it's not a sin, who's been sinning all along calling us abominations, pushing their gay kids to suicide, beating and killing gays, taking our jobs away, not allowing us to marry or adopt, keeping books about us out of school libraries, not allowing schools to teach the truth that being gay is no different than being straight? Yeah who? Any of it sound like you?

Well, feast your right wing gay is a choice eyes on THIS:

International Herald Tribune Published: June 3, 2005

When the genetically altered fruit fly was released into the observation chamber, it did what these breeders par excellence tend to do. It pursued a waiting virgin female. It gently tapped the girl with its leg, played her a song (using wings as instruments) and, only then, dared to lick her - all part of standard fruit fly seduction.

That one gene, the researchers are announcing today in the journal Cell, is apparently by itself enough to create patterns of sexual behavior - a kind of master sexual gene that normally exists in two distinct male and female variants.

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that females given the male variant of the gene acted exactly like males in courtship, madly pursuing other females. Males that were artificially given the female version of the gene became more passive and turned their sexual attention to other males.

"We have shown that a single gene in the fruit fly is sufficient to determine all aspects of the flies' sexual orientation and behavior," said the paper's lead author, Dr. Barry Dickson, senior scientist at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. "It's very surprising."

"What it tells us is that instinctive behaviors can be specified by genetic programs, just like the morphologic development of an organ or a nose."

The results are certain to prove influential in debates about whether genes or environment determine who we are, how we act and, especially, our sexual orientation, although it is not clear now if there is a similar master sexual gene for humans.

Still, experts said they were both awed and shocked by the findings. "The results are so clean and compelling, the whole field of the genetic roots of behavior is moved forward tremendously by this work," said Dr. Michael Weiss, chairman of the department of biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University. "Hopefully this will take the discussion about sexual preferences out of the realm of morality and put it in the realm of science."

He added: "I never chose to be heterosexual; it just happened. But humans are complicated. With the flies we can see in a simple and elegant way how a gene can influence and determine behavior."

The finding supports scientific evidence accumulating over the past decade that sexual orientation may be innately programmed into the brains of men and women. Equally intriguing, the researchers say, is the possibility that a number of behaviors - hitting back when feeling threatened, fleeing when scared or laughing when amused - may also be programmed into human brains, a product of genetic heritage.

"This is a first - a superb demonstration that a single gene can serve as a switch for complex behaviors," said Dr. Gero Miesenboeck, a professor of cell biology at Yale.

Dr. Dickson, the lead author, said he ran intothe laboratory when an assistant called him on a Sunday night with the results. "This really makes you think about how much of our behavior, perhaps especially sexual behaviors, has a strong genetic component," he said.

All the researchers cautioned that any of these wired behaviors set by master genes willprobably be modified by experience. Though male fruit flies are programmed to pursue females, Dr. Dickson said, those that are frequently rejected over time become less aggressive in their mating behavior.

When a normal male fruit fly is introduced to a virgin female, they almost immediately begin foreplay and then copulate for 20 minutes. In fact, Dr. Dickson and his co-author, Dr. Ebru Demir of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, specifically chose to look for the genetic basis of fly sexual behavior precisely because it seemed so strong and instinctive and, therefore, predictable.

Scientists have known for several years that the master sexual gene, known as fru, was central to mating, coordinating a network of neurons that were involved in the male fly's courtship ritual. Last year, Dr. Bruce Baker of Stanford University discovered that the mating circuit controlled by the gene involved 60 nerve cells and that if any of these were damaged or destroyed by the scientists, the animal could not mate properly. Both male and female flies have the same genetic material as well as the neural circuitry required for the mating ritual, but different parts of the genes are turned on in the two sexes. But no one dreamed that simply activating the normally dormant male portion of the gene in a female fly could cause a genetic female to display the whole elaborate panoply of male fruit fly foreplay.

I'm sure you bastions of faith will poo-poo this and cling steadfastly to your incorrect beliefs saying, "It hasn't been proven in humans yet." But deep in your hearts you know that God is a God of order - not disorder, and what is true about the genetic workings of fruit flys is also true about the genetic workings of humans.

Hopefully this will put to rest the idea that being gay is a choice, a sin, a sickness, or whatever other crazy ideas these fanatics have had in the past. Being gay is a sexual orientation, set at birth, just like being heterosexual.

Let it sink in!!

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 1:41 PM
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Friday, June 10, 2005 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA

Middle Class Red White and Blues

...Back to when the poor were poor and the rich were rich
And you felt so damn secure just knowing which were which…

I’ve never been wealthy
Just simple trailer trash
Eking out a life
Full of hopes and dreams

There was a time
I had a good job
Money in the bank
Looking forward to college

But times they were a’changin
Job is long gone
Can’t find nothing nowhere
That pays anything

Money has vanished too
Bank account drained clean
Can’t even cloak myself
In the relief of bankruptcy

Scored high on SATs
Almost qualified for a pell grant
But came in just over the line
School won’t accept me anyway

They picked up my car
Cleaned out my apartment
A good thing I guess
Nothing left to take

I still got my friends
All in the same boat
Nothing from nothing
Leaves nothing

Now I just sit back
On my ever widening ass
Wondering whatever happened
To the good ol’ Middle Class

©2005 Marcia Ellen Beevre
Opening couplet ©June Reizner

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 12:48 PM
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Thursday, June 09, 2005 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA

Gay Marriage - Has Anything Changed?

Here we are, one year after gay marriage was made legal in Massachusetts. Has anything changed? Did traditional marriage become corrupted as right wing Christians predicted it would? Is there some kind of way to keep score concerning the issues?

Well, yes, we can keep score. The following are the twelve reasons the religious right gives for outlawing gay and lesbian marriage in the United States. Let's see if any of them have been weakened by one year of homosexual marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.

    - Straight people have come to see that their gay friends who've married are little different then their straight neighbors who've married. This is underscoring the fact that being gay is perfectly natural. Bruce Bagemihl documents over 450 animal species that reflect homosexual behavior in his book, "Biological Exuberance." God made homosexuality natural in nature and humans are a part of God's creation of nature.

  2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can't legally get married because the world needs more children.

    - One of the first things people notice about gay couples is that there are children involved. They know that these children are now protected by civil law in the same way their own children are, and it makes them feel better about allowing gays to marry.

  3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

    - Being legally married has allowed couples to come out as never before. Women feel free to speak about their "wives" at work and so on. Children of gay couples don't feel like outcasts in their schools any longer. It has become quite obvious that the children raised by gay parents don't become gay. Also, the stigma for straight parents who have gay sons or daughters has become less intense.

  4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful.

    - This has been proved totally false. Not one straight couple in Massachusetts has reported they no longer want to marry anymore since gay marriage has become legal. There were over 36,000 heterosexual marriages in the state this year.

  5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all.

    - This is historically incorrect. At one time, women were considered property, blacks couldn't marry whites, and divorce was illegal. The great conversation concerning marriage that has taken place has opened the eyes of many people, leading to an understanding that statements like this are silly.

  6. Gay marriage should be decided by people not the courts because the majority-elected legislatures more evenly express the will of the people.

    - Again, the Great Conversation has enlightened people that we are governed by a representative democracy with checks and balances. A primary benefit of this form of government is that it helps protect minority rights. Protecting rights of the minority would never happen if that were left to the prejudiced whims of majority rule outside of our court system.

  7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion.

    - Massachusetts has shown that there are many independent churches that not only open their doors to gay people, but are willing to conduct marriage ceremonies for their gay members.

  8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay.

    - This is another fear disproved by the new marriage law in Massachusetts. Although the new law has allowed many gays to feel safer coming out of the closet, not one straight person has applauded the law and decided to become gay. People are learning it doesn't work that way.

  9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets.

    - The "slippery slope" argument. Not one person in Massachusetts has filed for a marriage certificate in order to marry a relative, an animal, or a multitude of wives.

  10. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home.

    - With more and more couples coming out in Massachusetts, straights are gaining a better perspective on how gay families raise their children. It's been nationally noted that gays are just as successful in raising kids as straight couples are and in some cases, moreso.

  11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms.

    - This argument has really blown up in the faces of those who propose it. The foundation of society in Massachusetts hasn't changed an iota since gays have been allowed to marry.

  12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name, therefore not sullying traditional marriage.

    - Equal but unequal has long been a standard of people who are uncomfortable with change. Massachusetts has proven that the costly action of starting up Civil Unions when the marriage system is already in place. Especially when marriage, by any other name, is exactly the same.

Yes, the Massachusetts Gay Marriage Law has provoked a backlash by the religious right. People who bought into their arguments are now seeing that they didn't hold water. This will continue to happen as time passes. Connecticut has passed a Civil Union law which will take effect in October. New York and California are close to legalizing full gay marriage. The faster it happens, the sooner more and more Americans will see that marriage is under no threat what-so-ever by allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

Oh, if you argue that one year isn't enough to prove all this, how about the 5 YEARS in Vermont? You'd be surprised at the number of institutions and churchs that now support gay marriage.

Stay tuned.

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 1:18 PM
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