Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gay Marriage in the USA -- 07/07/15

The "gay marriage" chart has updated again in the last couple days following developments in Kansas. Check this out:


Monday, July 6, 2015

Lisbon, IA: Disabled Vet & Service Dog Reportedly Kicked Out of Restaurant

Lisbon, IA, is in the national media following a July 3rd incident involving the owner of Whitey's Bar and Grill, a disabled war vet, and his service dog (though it's still listed as "not verified" -- apparently anyone can post stories on CNN's website, which CNN may or may not investigate):
A disabled, American war vet, Chazz Russell, wishing to dine with his service dog at Whitey's Bar and Grill, Lisbon, Iowa, was discriminated against and then viciously attacked by bar owner Daron "Whitey" Rubner.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed. The bar owner questioned the vet about the authenticity of the service dog and the vet responded that he would be willing to go home and bring back the certification, but technically, business owners are not legally able to insist to see the paperwork.

Bar owner, Daron Rubner's response to the vet was to rant about no dogs being allowed in his establishment, and how the vet “must be lying” about being disabled. He then viciously attacked the vet. Police were summoned and charges against the establishment are pending.
A group of supporters currently plan to rally at the bar on July 26th to "let them know its NOT OK to discriminate against OUR vets."

You can read first hand accounts by the vet and a friend here and here.

As far as I can tell, there's been no online response so far from Whitey's Bar and Grill, or from the owner.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Gay Marriage in the USA -- 07/05/15

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts. It's amazing how quickly this map has shifted over the past few years. Pretty soon it will all be one color. Enjoy!


Coming from Dark Circle in 2016: THE WEB!

I haven't seen this anywhere but Bleeding Cool. Archie Comics apparently announced a fifth title within it's Dark Circle superhero line: THE WEB!:
The re-imagined series follows Jane Raymond, a 14-year-old high-schooler who idolizes a hero known as The Web. Finding herself with mysterious powers much like her idol, Jane’s struggle to balance her new life as a superhero while also dealing with family issues will put this new hero to the ultimate test.
This is an interesting addition. Most of Dark Circle's books have featured existing heroes (such as the Fox) or re-imagined older heroes (such as the Black Hood, the Shield, and Hangman). This will be the first new Dark Circle heroes who's re-imagining an older hero, while there is already a recently re-imagined version within the New Crusaders.

I can't help wondering what it might look like if this Web teamed up with New Crusaders's Web?

THE WEB will be written by Dave White and will feature art by Szymon Kudranski.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Crowdfund Recommendation: Rebuild Henrytown Lutheran Church

I recently wrote a story about an Iowa widower who found a horrible letter left in his car by a horrible person. He was basically told that God killed his wife because he has officiated over gay weddings in the past. I shared a link to his daughter's GoFundMe page, which was being used to raise money to help pay for his wife's medical and funeral expenses. They are trying to raise $9,000. They had a few hundred dollars when I first linked to the GoFundMe page. They are now (as of this writing) at $5,265!

It's not uncommon these days to here about hundreds, thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised through crownfunding efforts to help people or businesses that are struggling one way or the other because of social media culture war SNAFUs.

I want to start highlighting other crowdfunding efforts that involve everyday people with everyday needs that are being overshadowed by more blog-worthy stories. I plan to do this as a semi-regular series on this blog. I have given or plan to give to each of these fundraising efforts. Please check out these crowdfunding links and prayerfully consider a donation to any of these efforts.

Crowdfund Recommendation #1: Rebuild Henrytown Lutheran Church: Henrytown Lutheran Church is a historic church community based in Canton, MN. It was originally founded by 26 families back in 1870. A church building was built in 1879. It has been an active church community for the past century, with nearly 200 current members.

Unfortunately, the church was burned to the ground on April 16, 2015:
Henrytown Lutheran Church has returned to the ground on which it stood from a fire on April 16th, 2015. Blessed are those who believe and have faith in God that he has not left us. There are all different types of love and to be so blessed to have been touched by the Holy Spirit in this place of worship is truly a blessing. Our church is our rock and built on one foundation of grace, faith and love that can never be taken away. They say that things happen for a reason and we will never know why but God's plan is always greater.
Henrytown Lutheran's membership is trying to rebuild. Their fundraising goal is ambitious: $50,000. As of this writing, they have raised $815 via GoFundMe.

However, additional donations to Rebuild Henrytown Lutheran Church are being received at First Southeast Bank; 111 N. Main Street; Canton, MN 55922 or First Southeast Bank; 3 Main Avenue North; PO Box 429; Harmony, MN 55939.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Polygamous Family Applies for Marriage License in Montana

Perhaps you've watched an episode of TLC's "Sister Wives" program? It features a man named Kody Brown and his multiple wives (one legal and the other spiritual). Brown was arrested back in 2011 and charged with bigamy. The bigamy charge was filed by the state of Utah, not because he tried filing multiple marriage licenses, but because he cohabited with his spiritual wives. He sued and managed to strike down that portion of Utah's bigamy law.

"Sister Wives" is in the news again. This time around, a Montana man named Nathan Collier tried applying for a marriage license for his spiritual wife while still married to his legal wife. He was reportedly inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage:
Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.
"It's about marriage equality," Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. "You can't have this without polygamy."

County clerk officials initially denied Collier's application, then said they would consult with the county attorney's office before giving him a final answer, Collier said.

Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he is reviewing Montana's bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week. "I think he deserves an answer," Gillen said, but added his review is finding that "the law simply doesn't provide for that yet."
Collier was inspired by Chief Justice John Roberts' dissent, which asserted that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal arguments that gay couples successfully used in support of our families.

One of my GCN friends was pretty livid about this case. She believes that it is too soon for someone like Collier to challenge their state's polygamy ban. She is also afraid that it just serves to justify concerns by anti-gay challengers.

I've always been more of a libertine when it comes to poly families. I don't think that that many people will actually seek legal plural marriages. Most could make a pretty strong religious liberty argument. And it would help bring some light into the otherwise closeted world of plural marriages.

On the other hand, divorce would suck. And it could become a huge drain on the Social Security system, as well as other pension sources.

On the other hand, we have been told that gay marriage will lead to polygamy for years. So give them a chance to make their case and then prove the connection. Or for the connection to be disproved.

Either way, I anticipate a plural marriage lawsuit storyline in future seasons of "Sister Wives."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gay Couple Looks Back 30 Years When Anti-Gay Forces Separated Them From Their Foster Kids

Here is a link to an article about the Massachusetts couple who became the first openly gay foster parents in that state. This took place back in 1985. The couples was caring for two young children when a local paper became aware of their situation. An article was published, despite the couple's request that it be dropped. The culture warriors became incensed. The legislature freaked out. Within a day, both boys were removed from their care. The couple filed a lawsuit against the state over attempts to ban gay people from foster parenting and they were successful. They eventually took in four brothers and adopted all four boys in 1994.

Here is the quote that stands out for me:
Don Babets and David Jean, like others in the gay community, had become urban pioneers, buying a house on Fort Hill in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Babets, who worked for the city, had grown up the oldest of five. Jean, who worked for a nonprofit and was music director at his church, grew up as one of six. So it was only natural, after being together for seven years, that they thought about kids of their own. They applied to be foster parents.

I had no agenda when I went in to do this. I just wanted to be a parent,” Jean said. “I wasn’t trying to prove anything. I wasn’t trying to stir up the pot.
David Jean was talking about foster parenting and adoption here, but this relates to marriage also. Most LGBT people aren't trying to make a statement when we get married or when we take steps to adopt or do surrogacy or whatever. We're just trying to solidify our families.

Just like any other person. It's just that our motives are constantly questioned by people who don't need to question them.

I don't believe that our opponents get that when they rally against us. We are politicized because we have to fight back against political and social forces who actively seek to disrupt our day-to-day lives. Most of us would seriously prefer to focus on the challenges of family life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

United Church of Christ General Synod Approves Resolution Supporting Boycott of the Washington Redskins // Renews Boycott of Cleveland Indians Over "Chief Wahoo" Mascot

The United Church of Christ is currently going through its General Synod, a gathering of UCC leaders and members from all over the denomination. Part of General Synod -- the more interesting aspect to me these days -- is the process of voting on resolutions supporting or opposing this cause or another.

The UCC's General Synod passed a resolution yesterday encouraging a denomination-wide boycott of the Washington Redskins football games and merchandise until the team finally dropped its "Redskins" name and mascot:
The Monday resolution takes the boycott national. It called on the NFL franchise to “change its team name and to refrain from the use of any images, mascots, or behaviors that are harmful or demeaning to Native American cultures or peoples,” said the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, a national officer of the UCC, in a press release.

“The use of the term ‘Redskins’ for the team mascot and nickname of the Washington football team is offensive and causes direct harmful effects to the public health and well-being of the Native American population,” she said.

In a joint statement about the resolution, Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and Jackie Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, representing more than 80 Native American tribes, said they were “honored” by the “effort to help relegate this offensive and outdated slur to the dustbin of history.”
The UCC's General Synod also passed a resolution, renewing it's long-standing condemnation of Native American imagery for sports teams, particularly the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo mascot.

There has been mixed reaction to the 1991 resolution against Chief Wahoo from within the denomination. But UCC member Toni Buffalo, a Lakota from Eagle Butte, SD, defended the resolution, stating:
"I am not a Redskin. I am not a mascot. That is not an honor. Do not try to honor me that way."
I originally wrote about the proposed resolution to boycott the Washington Redskins here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mutants VS Inhumans (??) in EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN!

Marvel Comics put out all sorts of information today about their post-Secret Wars titles. Lots of changes coming up, but it appears that everything will be set eight months following Secret Wars. One of the rumored post-Secret Wars developments was an exodus of sorts for Marvel Comics' mutants from Planet Earth. The theory is that the Terrigan Mists -- which mutate the various Inhuman characters into their Inhuman bodies -- is toxic to mutants. Since Earth is now awash with Terrigan Mists, the mutants have to go!

One of the titles that Marvel Comics announced is EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN, which is supposed to be the new flagship "X-Men" title. The team consists of Storm, Old Man Logan, Iceman, Colossus, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Magik.

We are being promised a conflict between the mutants and the Inhumans, which seems to bear out the toxic Terrigan Mist theory.

You can read the official story here and the gossip here /here.

THE BLACK HOOD #4-5: Black Hood Hunts the Connection!

THE BLACK HOOD's first story arc ended last week. This comic, the first title in Archie Comics' new Dark Circle imprint, features Officer Gregory Hettinger. This Pittsburgh cop made a name for himself by shooting the previous Black Hood and then getting shot in the face, effectively ruining his appearance and starting the downward cycle into the world of pain medication dependence and addiction.

In the first two issues of this series, we witnessed him falling into the darkest reaches of his life. He begins stealing prescription drugs from criminals. Not only that, but Hettinger began wearing the Black Hood's torn up masks around the house whenever he got high off of his stolen pain meds.

Eventually, Hettinger came across the mugging and impulsively beat the crap out of the muggers while wearing the mask. The Black Hood was reborn at this moment. Hettinger then kicks off a city-wide assault on the local drug community -- both as a dirty cop who didn't mind swiping the drugs and as the Black Hood who just liked kicking the shit out of criminals.

Of course, his actions have attracted the attention of the local kingpin, an unknown man of power known only as the Connection. The Connection grew tired of Hettinger's shenanigans and managed to very publicly frame the dirty cop by planting tons of stolen drugs in his apartment.

What follows next Hettinger's effort to clear his name and exposed the real connection. Issue #3 ended with Hettinger/Black Hood confronting two of the Connection's top men over the grave of the previous Black Hood.

Hettinger actually does pretty well against Graham and Savitz -- but he would have done much better (issue THE BLACK HOOD #4) if he'd confronted them one-on-one. It helps that Hettinger is usually hopped up on drugs when he goes out as the Black Hood. But he'd been trying to ween himself off them since his arrest. Plus, there's only so much that drugs can do to prop you up.

Hettinger ends up getting exposed during the fight. You have to admit that he's probably the most recognizable cop working for the Pittsburgh Police Department at this point. Hettinger quickly realizs that he has to take out these two guys permanently or else his entire life will be exposed and he ended up being executed by the media or by the Connection -- or both.

Unfortunately, the police arrive and break up the fight. Graham and Savitz are arrested, but Hettinger manages to escape. He manages to pull some strings to get the pair placed in lockdown for six hours. He hopes that this will give him the time needed to identity and expose the Connection. That way, even if he goes down, Pittsburgh's major crime boss will go down with him!

Hettinger can barely stand up by this point. He turns to his only friend for help -- speech therapist Jessie Dupree. She isn't happy to learn about his double-life as the Black Hood, but agrees to help him out. Basically, she drives him around town to track down a few final leads on higher-up stooges for the Connection.

The driver manages to get away, but Hettinger finally stops running and starts piecing together various clues from the past couple issues and figures out the Connection's identity without beating anyone senseless.

Hettinger tracks the Connection down to his base of operations. Just in time, because the Connection had used his... connections to speak to Graham and Savitz and learn the Black Hood's secret identity. This leads to a final confrontation that was actually pretty cool -- both in how Hettinger took care of the Connection, but also how he successfully cleared himself of wrong-doing over the drug-charges, as well as cleared himself of suspicion of being the Black Hood!

The final pages of THE BLACK HOOD #5 wrapped up some loose ends and finally got him addressing his addiction. He has a promising future ahead of him, both serving as a cop in good standing again. But also possible romance with the only other person who knows his biggest secret, Jessie Dupree.

That said, I can't help thinking that the Black Hood will return with new drug-involved adventures in the future -- most likely in October 2015 when the series returns!

I have really enjoyed THE BLACK HOOD. It is much darker and more violent than most of the comic book that I am used to reading. But it's also different. Hettinger's trauma at the beginning of this storyline, his descent into pain med addiction, and his reasons for becoming the Black Hood... It makes a lot of sense to me. Not to mention, his need to continue as the Black Hood in order to clear his name.

I'm really look forward to where this series is heading. Will be stay clean? Will Dupree continue to stand by him once it's clear that the Black Hood has return? I can't wait to find out these answers!

"The Bullet's Kiss" Parts Four and Five are both written by Duane Swierczynski, penciled/inked by Michael Gaydos, lettered by Rachel Deering, and colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick.