Friday, March 27, 2015

700 Club's Pat Robertson to Parent: Speak Out Against Your Son's Gay Marriage -- And Also Against Your Son's Adoption!

I was watching a clip from CBN's "700 Club" earlier this week and discovered a new segment called "Bring It On." Basically, people email questions to Pat Robertson and seek his answers. This segment addressed the subject of gay men adopting children:
Question: We start with an interesting question from Jacob. He says: “My son recently got married to another man, and now he and his husband are trying to adopt a child. I feel like this would be unfair for the child. What should I do?” 

Pat Robertson: I think you ought to pray about it and I think you ought to speak out about it. If you sincerely feel as I do that this is wrong -- it is violating the Scriptures – they need to know it. This so-called lifestyle… I just can’t believe it. They have tried to destroy marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman and they’ve now brought cases to the Supreme Court saying the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. So what should you do? You better get on your knees and pray and let the Lord take care of it because there isn’t a whole lot else you can do.
You can check out the whole clip here:

Don't get me wrong. I totally expected this type of answer from Pat Robertson.

I just think it's worth noting that Jacob is on a journey that will -- if he doesn't turn things around -- lead to the destruction of his father/son relationship. If he hasn't already done that. LGBT people tolerate an awful lot of grief from our parents when they act standoffishly towards us. We will grit our teeth when our parents criticize our "so-called lifestyle."

But when the grandparents begin mistreating our kids? That's when our protective instincts kick in and we begin to disengage from anti-gay family members -- even grandparents.

Just a word of unsolicited advice to Jacob.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Inhuman Torch?? // Meet the Uncanny Inhumans!

Marvel Comics has been working over the past few years to make the Inhumans into something bigger than they had been. Basically, they don't have the rights to the X-Men when it comes to making movies (and making money off the movies). Marvel Comics still likes its mutants, but they realized that they could do movies that essentially tell the same tales of societal alienation and prejudice in their own studios using Inhumans instead. So they blew up a big Terrigan bomb over New York City and caused thousands of unsuspecting humans worldwide to suddenly realize that they have Inhuman blood coursing through their veins.

I've been reading INHUMAN over the past year, which has introduced us to several of these NuHumans. Some, like Inferno and Nur and Ms. Marvel, interest me. Others, like Naja and Iso and Reader, bore me. I like the concept behind the Inhumans and behind INHUMAN itself. INHUMAN suffers from shifting story focus and inconsistent artists. IMHO, as always. But I keep reading.

Marvel Comics recently announced that a second Inhumans-themed title will be published soon: UNCANNY INHUMANS. The line-up was revealed earlier today: Medusa, Triton, Inferno, Naja, Iso, and... the Human Torch??

I'm not sure what I think of this line-up. There is a lot of repetition in appearances and powers with this line-up, plus we're already seeing all of these characters -- excluding Johnny Storm -- over in INHUMAN. So why not draw in some fresh characters in UNCANNY INHUMANS??

Here are some characters I would have liked to see on this team:

*Crystal from the Royal Family. She has pretty much disappeared over the past year, with the exception of some recent appearances in ALL NEW X-FACTOR.

*Talon from the Guardians of the Galaxy (90s team). Has has claws and agility, plus he knows some wicked magic!

*Yeti from MARVEL: THE LOST GENERATION. He's a wild creatures who's been cut off for years from the Inhumans. He's a wild card, which is always fun on a team!

*Geldhoff. He's a NuHuman who was introduced in one of the X-MEN annuals. He has pretty powerful energy powers and is a little shifty. Did I mention that he is from Latveria? What better excuse to utilize Doctor Doom as an occasional villain??

*Red Raven: She's the winged daughter of the original Red Raven. She's from a secret society of Inhuman bird-people, which fits in with the current theme of hidden societies of Inhumans. Plus, every team needs a winged member!

*One of the Alpha Primitives -- or possibly some new NuHuman who's taken it upon him/herself to liberate the Inhumans' slave race. Let's face it. The existence of the Alpha Primitives makes the Inhumans look like a bunch of jerks. Now imagine that the Inhumans are being integrated amidst humanity and it's discovered that they have slaves. I don't imagine that this would be received well.

But I wasn't consulted when the actual UNCANNY INHUMANS were conceived.

What do you think of the new team? And what do you think of Johhny Storm's presence on the team? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments section!

Gay Proposal on "Let's Make A Deal"

I noticed this last week while I was away on vacation, but just got reminded about this exciting moment on “Let’s Make A Deal.” The game got paused for a second while one of the contestant proposed to his boyfriend in front of a cheering audience:

In case you couldn't tell, his boyfriend said, "Yes!"

Check out the video here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Harper Lodge Returns in ARCHIE #665

Remember Harper Lodge? She is a relatively new Archie Comics character. She is Veronica Lodge's famous cousin from out west. She is a clothing designer. She writes children's books. She writes an advice column called "Dear Jewel." And she is physically disabled. She originally appeared in ARCHIE #656, where she impressed the Riverdale Gang and literally knocked Reggie Mantle off of his feet! She has made two cameos since then (here and here), but she regained much of the spotlight in ARCHIE #665.

It seems that Harper is in Riverdale so that she can visit her cousin Veronica and so that she can work with Chuck Clayton on her latest writing project -- a graphic novel called "The Powers That Be," which features new superheroes patterned after Harper and her friends. Harper's superhero identity is The Gem. It seems that she wears a powerful gem on her ring-finger, which acts as some sort of cosmic key for her wheelchair. She can transform the wheelchair into all sorts of different vehicles and weapons, plus it can time-travel.

Harper also creates a series of "handi-capable" heroes, each designed after one of her disabled friends. I noticed that none of the designs were patterned after a person with an intellectual disability. Hopefully, that's something that can be addressed during the upcoming ARCHIE reboot!

Much of the drama involves family tension between Harper and Veronica. Basically, Veronica is a snoop. She comes across a script that portrays her as an ugly villain, which causes her to rage for a while -- before discovering that Harper purposely created a fake script because she knew that her cousin is a snoop.

There's also romantic tension as Reggie tries to cope with jealousy over another guy in Harper's life!

Lastly, we briefly met Harper's parents. It was obvious from the beginning that Veronica's cousin isn't the most Caucasian of characters. There was speculation about her racial heritage in the comments section of these two blog posts (here and here). It turns out that her mother is of Indian heritage. So now we know!

Harper & Parents
The Big Question: Will Harper Lodge fade away once ARCHIE reboots? I hope not. I understand that the nature of Archie Comics' primary titles will be changing soon, but I really like this character. It would be nice if she had a recurring presence in the relaunch. But it would be even cooler if she continued having adventures in the various digest magazines too!

"Writer's Blockheads" was written and penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Rich Koslowski, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Faith UCC in Iowa City Uses WAGE THEFT Comic Book to Study Fair Wages & Other Issues of Economic Justice

Faith UCC's Ann Zerkel / WAGE THEFT
My church, Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City became the first UCC church in Iowa to adopt a covenant for Economic Justice last June. Basically, we pledged to learn about and work towards a more equitable economic reality -- both on a personal, congregational, local, national, and global scale.

I totally missed it, but Faith Works -- Faith UCC's committee is charge of programming specifically related to our Economic Justice covenant -- led a shared ministry worship service on January 11, 2015.  This is how it was reported on the Economic Justice section of Faith UCC's website:
Following an Economic Justice worship service led by Faith Works on January 11, at which Ann Zerkel presented ideas from the newly formed UCC Economic Justice League, Faith Works hosted an Adult Education discussion featuring a Wage Theft Comic Book produced by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), the national organization with which Center for Worker Justice (CWJ) is affiliated.
When talk turned to tipping in restaurants, the discussion became quite alive. DON’T TIP ON YOUR CREDIT CARD (IT MAY GO STRAIGHT TO THE OWNERS!) GIVE THE SERVER CASH AS A TIP, AND ASK WHETHER S(HE) IS ALLOWED TO KEEP IT!
When Ann Zerkel ordered the comic books she was quizzed by IWJ staff on how she would use them. She wrote a report, was interviewed by phone, and Faith UCC will be featured in the next IWJ quarterly newsletter. Copies will be sent to Faith for us to see. 
Note the final paragraph, because Faith United Church of Christ did indeed receive a copy of the "Your Faith Works" newsletter from the Interfaith Worker Justice recently and they featured an article about Ann and our church congregation's study of the WAGE THEFT comic books:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Indiana Poised to Sign Anti-Gay Discrimination into Law -- And I'm Fine With That

The Indiana legislature just passed a bill that will allow businesses and individuals to legally discriminate against anyone in the name of religious liberty. People are trying to get Gov. Mike Pence to veto this legislation, which is a pipe dream.

Several states -- mostly Republican led -- are introducing these bills with varying levels of success this year. I know that I should be worked up about it, but I'm not.

First, it just reminds us that the GOP and that religious conservatives aren't friends of the Friends of Dorothy. I almost never forget this, but some people need periodic reminders.

Second, it seems like social and religious conservatives need the ability to withhold services from us. They really want to tell us that they disagree with us and our families and that they don't want our money. So why give it to them?

They might have the legal ability to discriminate against us, but we will still retain the ability to publicly shame them using social and news media -- as well as word of mouth -- with our friends and family.

#BoycottDolceGabbana didn't result in these fashion designers issuing public apologies to their customer base because they violated some anti-discrimination law. It worked because people learned that the founders of D & G were hostile and catty towards the children of same-sex couples and others who've chosen IVF treatment (as well as gay adoptive parents) and they expressed outrage as the notion that our kids are viewed as "synthetic children." Now Dolce & Gabbana are synonymous with anti-gay zealots like NOM, the 700 Club, and the Family Research Council.

I'm okay with businesses and government employees being publicly shamed for being rude to unsuspecting LGBT people and allies. We don't need to take people to court or to file complaints against these places to make a point.

We just need to know which businesses don't want our money. And we need to tell our friends and family to avoid those businesses. And we also need to support those businesses who have our backs.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

11-Person Family Threatened by the City of Hartford, CT

I learned of an 11-person family in Hartford, CT, earlier this week on Facebook whose home is being jeopardized by zoning regulations.

Let me step this back a bit and define this family. They aren't adult siblings and they aren't a poly household. They are a group of 11 people consisting of three couples, three children, and two single people. They are all longtime friends who have bonded together to jointly purchase and maintain their home:
"I think there's a real extension of our values as people," English teacher Kevin Lamkins said. "The values I'm speaking of are sustainability, cooperation, living more, living well but within your means. Being connected to other people and not being in a silo, so to speak."

The group of friends includes three teachers, a grants manager and a mental health therapist. "It's not a cult, there's no religion, there's no intermingling," Julia Rosenblatt said. "We're really living like most people are, you know, we are just doing it together."

They purchased the nine-bedroom home and moved in last August. They have a legal partnership agreement and a shared bank account to pay expenses. The group has spent $30,000 so far to repair the home which was built in 1921.
Neighbors have complained to the city, which has asserted that no more than two unrelated people in this area. Meanwhile, this family has unsuccessfully appealed this decision and is now considering a lawsuit. Either that, or they will have to sell their home and dissolve their functional family.

I understand why these types of zoning laws exist, but I really question if the city of Hartford, CT, is truly better off by forcing this group out of their collective home.

House GOPers Attack Collective Bargaining Rights on Iowa Teachers // Meanwhile, My Tweet Makes the Washington Post!

Earlier this past week when I was back near Boston, I learned that House Republicans back here in Iowa were working on a funding bill that under-funded our public schools and introduced an amendment that would negatively affect the collective bargaining rights of Iowa's teachers in the process. I watched as the House of Representatives debated and defended these amendments and could do much more than send an email to my own representative and urge her to support our schools and our teachers.

One of the things that frustrated me while I watched was the level of bored inattention to these concerns by various House Republicans. For example, Rep. Clel Baudler spent the debate watching programs on Netflix.

But the one who really got my goat was Rep. Ross Paustian, who got caught by the Des Moines Register kicking back with a copy of Sex After Sixty during the legislative discussion. Progress Iowa posted some commentary on Facebook, and I ended up posting a screen-grab of that on Twitter.

My Twitter post was fairly popular, compared to other tweets that I've made over the years. Several have favorited it and several more retweeted that image. But then people moved on to bigger and better things.

I learned this morning that my Rep. Paustian/Sex After Sixty tweet got used in Washington Post piece on this latest attack on collective bargaining rights. That puffed up my ego for a few moments. But then I realized that this was more of a win for the Des Moines Register and Progress Iowa, so serious props to them both.

By the way, did you ever wonder why Rep. Paustian was reading Sex After Sixty while the Iowa House was working hard to disenfranchise Iowa's teachers?:
The Des Moines Register reported that Rep. Ross Paustian (R-Walcott) opened the book when Democratic lawmakers were introducing amendments to the bill and quoted him as saying that the book had been passed around among members. It also quoted him as saying: “We could all use a laugh around here.” Meanwhile, other lawmakers engaged in other activities, and teachers were unamused.
The Iowa House ultimately approved these changes on a 56-41 party line vote, but it's unclear if Iowa's Senate will go along with them.

Bomb Threat Temporarily Closes Iowa River Landing in Coralville, IA

I just learned that a bomb threat was made to the police in nearby Coralville, IA, earlier this morning at around 6:40 AM. This bomb threat lead to the temporarily closing of streets around the Iowa River Landing:
Detective Shane Kron told KCJJ they received a call about 6:40 a.m. from a male who sounded to be in his 20s saying he was at 845 Quarry Road…the home of the KCJJ studios…and that he had planted a bomb there. Kron says the man also stated he was on top of the building and was going to shoot any police officers who arrived on scene.
According to KCJJ, the radio station also received threatening calls early this morning. I was just getting up at the time and didn't have the radio on, so I'm not sure if those threats were made on-air or if they were left on the station's business line.

The area was cleared by police for roughly an hour while they investigated the threat. Coralville Police say that they were unable to trace the calls, but I'm skeptical.

I shall share more once I learn more.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Archie Horror Imprint to Launch in May 2015 // SABRINA & AFTERLIFE Finally Returning // Hints of Third Horror Title Announced!

One of the biggest bits of news that came out while I was away on vacation had to do with Archie Comics and their scary comics, specifically AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA. Both titles have been very, very late. Like, we haven't seen an issue of SABRINA since October 2014 and we haven't seen an issue of AFTERLIFE since December 2014. And we're almost into April 2015.

Archie Comics' Chief Creative Officer and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa finally addressed the chronic tardiness of these titles and promised that SABRINA #2 will be released on April 15, 2015, and AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #8 will be released on May 6, 2015:
“I could give you a dozen excuses, and none of them are really good. We really really wanted to launch the book at New York Comic-Con because it was close to Halloween. In retrospect, we should’ve delayed the launch to get a few issues in the can,” says Aguirre-Sacasa. “there’s no excuse, and there will never be a delay like there was been between Sabrina 1 and 2. Like, never. We are very, very lucky that we have an incredibly passionate and understanding fan base that is eager for the book.”
We also learned that Archie Comics will be launching a new Archie Horror imprint in May 2015. I think that's their way of telling readers that they haven't given up on their best-selling horror titles, even if they struggle to get new issues out to the readers.

They also announced that they are planning a third title under the Archie Horror imprint, but were skimpy on the details:
As for that mysterious third horror series, the publisher isn’t quite ready to reveal what it is just yet. But Aguirre-Sacasa was able to give us a pretty sizable set of clues.
I can tell you that it will be centered around a major Archie character,” teases Aguirre-Sacasa. “She has appeared in one of our books before. And [the book] will be in a genre we have not explored or even hinted at in Sabrina—in Afterlife, we’ve only hinted at it a tiny, tiny bit. And it will be set in the present.
The running theory is that this will be a new take on Josie & the Pussycats or It's Josie. I've read suggestions that Josie & the Pussycats might make for an interesting werecat/lycanthropy concept, which might be interesting.

I've also had a few online friends suggest that the third title might focus on Cheryl Blossom.

Personally, I think it'd be fun to see something patterned after It's Josie or maybe the Pussycats. And it might be fun to adapt their old "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space" cartoon series into a creepy alien invasion story (shades of the 1980s "War of the Worlds" TV series??).

But I think it's more likely that this new series will be a ghost story/haunted house type of title -- only because of the clue that the genre was hinted at in AFTERLIFE #2 and I've got that image of Mr. Lodge being haunted by the spirit of his dead life stuck in my head.

I'm still holding out hope for a TWO-FISTED TONI TOPAZ: MISTRESS OF THE MACABRE series -- guest-starring the Carneys, of course! But that might be a bit of a long shot...