Sunday, July 31, 2011

By The Numbers

I'm dragging this weekend, which is always a good excuse for a fresh "By The Numbers" blog article:

2 -- Number of people who attended a Boystown neighborhood funeral (Andrew and Kevin of TMF) this past Friday, at the request of that person's pastor.  If they hadn't been sought out by that pastor, there would have been nobody there to mourn for this person.

2 -- Number of super heroes it takes to help a lost kid find the father he lost in the crowd at Comic Con.

9 -- Number of votes that Rick Santorum received at the Johnson County Fair Mock Presidential Vote last week here in Iowa City, which garnered him 6% of the total votes.  Unfortunately for him, those nine votes came from his own family members.  Michele Bachmann won the Mock Vote with 22% of the final Republican votes.  Barack Obama won 92% of the final Democratic votes.  He was pitted against "Uncommitted", who won 8% of the Democratic votes, which is still more than Santorum ended up receiving.  Maybe Uncommitted had more family members attending the County Fair...

$20 -- Amount of money that Iowa City resident Mildred Henderson is accused of stealing from a 6-year-old child back in June:
Officers were called to Advanced Auto Parts, 425 Highway 6, at 2 p.m. June 16. A witness told officers he noticed a young girl in the parking lot counting a stack of money. As the witness continued to watch from his truck – noting the girl was alone — he saw a woman approach the girl and snatch the money from her hand, police said.

Police said the girl began to cry and the woman got into a car and left. The witness followed the woman, got a license plate number and reported the theft to police. He then circled back to Advanced Auto Parts to make sure the girl was OK, police said. The girl was with her father, who had been nearby, but did not witness the theft, police said.

Police found the woman, identified as 20-year-old Mildred E. Henderson... a short time later. The witness positively identified Henderson as the woman who took the girl’s money. The girl told police she had about $20 in one dollar bills and she didn’t know Henderson.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thoughts on "Captain America: The First Avenger"

The boys and I decided to do something we haven't had the opportunity to do much of recently; mainly, go to a movie.  We decided to check out "Captain America: The First Avenger".  Set primarily during the World War II era, it tells the story of weakling Steve Rogers, who volunteers for an experimental Super Soldier program that transforms him into the perfect man and and then finds himself fighting to save the world from the evil Red Skull, HYDRA, and the power of the Cosmic Cube.  Captain America not only demonstrates what it means to be a good soldier.  He also demonstrates what it means to be a good man, often attempting to sacrifice his own safety for the good of others.  It was a fun movie, with lots of period costumes and special effects.  Unfortunately, Captain America's final battle with the Red Skull was pretty anti-climatic and it seemed like the spent more time and energy setting up 2012's "The Avengers" film during this movie's final half-hour.

Here are some of the things I liked about Captain America: The First Avenger.  I thought that Chris Evans played a wonderful and convincing Steve Roger.  Outside of the anti-climatic climax, I thought that the movie did a good job of evenly setting up both Captain America's origin and his subsequent wartime activities.  I enjoyed the various visitors from Marvel Comics, including Nazi scientist Arnim Zola, Dum Dum Dugan and the other Howling Commandos, and Nick Fury.  I was especially excited to see a very quick cameo of the original android Human Torch.

With all those characters and character cameos, I kind of wish we could have met the retconned first super soldier, Isaiah Bradley the black Captain America.  Inspired by the 40-year Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Marvel's Truth: Red, White, & Black told the story of a WWII regiment of black soldiers who were involuntarily recruited to test the program that eventually transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America.  Of nearly 300 soldiers, only five survived the experiments and only Isaiah Bradley survived the story.  Bradley managed to kill some Nazi soldiers and super-scientists before getting captured, rescued, court-martialed, and eventually sent to Leavenworth.  He was eventually pardoned and returned to his family in the 1960s.  Isaiah Bradley has become a huge icon for most of Marvel's black superhero community.  I could see Marvel's movie audiences confused by his inclusion in these films, but it could be a great story if done right.

But all in all, I enjoyed this movie, as did the boys.  We didn't see it in 3D and I think I would have been upset if we had.  The movie's pacing was pretty even and the characterizations were fun.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BVP and The FAMiLY LEADER Turn Their Recent Gaffes Into Cash

"An attack on us is also a direct attack on your family, your values, and your freedoms.  We take this very seriously."

That is the fund-raising pitch being made by The FAMiLY LEADER, whose mission statement is to attack families like mine, distort the values of families like mine, and trample over the freedoms of families like mine.  This organization wouldn't exist if there weren't gay families to destroy, which is what makes their fund-raising please so deliciously ironic.

The FAMiLY LEADER has been under a bit of scrutiny over the past month.  First they insist that all presidential candidates sign off on their multi-point "Marriage Vow" before they would be considered for the coveted FAMiLY LEADER endorsement.  Of course, only two candidates signed off on the pledge and the rest of the GOP presidential crowd quickly ignored or criticized the "Marriage Vow" due to footnotes that implied that slave kids were better off than modern day black kids.

Later in the month, video of bob Vander Plaats at a March 2011 FAMiLY LEADER event showed BVP laughing it up after a supported joked that Iowa is "the state where you can't smoke a fag, but you can marry one".  That led to a (in my opinion) silly letter writing campaign by One Iowa to get BVP to apologize, like he really gives two shakes about whether or not people are hurt by his comments or actions, much less the comments or actions of his supporters.

Thirdly, a group began organizing a boycott of Wells Blue Bunny products, following news that the Wells family has been financially supporting BVP.  Wells Blue Bunny quickly issued a statement that the business itself never donated money to BVP and that its employees are free to support anyone they want to support without it impacting the business itself.

And then finally, GOP House Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Kaufmann sent an e-mail to BVP last week telling him to chill out a bit and realize that his group, his group's "Marriage Vow", and the "ridiculous implications" of that vow were hurting his credibility.  He also told BVP to stop issuing veiled threats to GOP candidates who don't fully support BVP's selfish personal agenda.

Anyway, that's a lot of stuff over the past month that just drawn a lot of attention toward BVP, The FAMiLY LEADER, and their marriage-wrecking agenda.  And we all know that bad publicity needs to be turned around into positive fund-raising.  BVP is a victim of lukewarm Republicans and radical homosexuals because he laughed at an anti-gay joke.  Send him money.

And apparently they are.  Sending him (or The FAMiLY LEADER) money, that is:
"I can tell you that we have received unprecedented support, but we’re not going to release any amounts or the names of our donors at this point in time,” Julie Summa, director of marketing for The Family Leader, told The Iowa Independent Wednesday afternoon.
Of course, Husband Mark pointed out that "unprecedented" can mean a lot of things, including "not much".  In fact, their unspoken "unprecedented" fund-raising statement is likely just another attempt at raising even more funds for their family unfriendly group.  Time, and the eventual financial disclosure form, will tell.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nero and Ms. Lion: Before --> After

Earlier this year, the groomer that I've gone to since my dear sweet Moogie was a baby retired from the biz.  Since then, I've struggled to find a new groomer for Ms. Lion and Nero.  Part of the problem is that Ms. Lion isn't very easy to groom.  She can be quite nasty when she's in a bad mood.  The other part of the problem is that I'm used to calling up my groomer and getting appointments scheduled within a week or two.  Now, I'm lucky if I can get anything scheduled within a month of my call.  It's quite a difference and my dogs are suffering.  Especially in this heat. 

Like everywhere else, the heat has been terrible this week and last.  It's difficult enough to cope with the extreme temperature when you can slip on a pair of shorts.  I can't imagine what it feels like to sit around in 100+ degree temperatures with thick woolly dark fur.  Both dogs have been miserable. 

Fortunately, they both got into the new groomer today.  I'm still not sure about this new groomer.  They shaved Ms. Lion's face and I'm still trying to decide if I like her like this.  But the dogs are certainly more comfortable now that they've both had most of their fur cut off.  Check it out:

Nero Before

Nero After
Ms. Lion Before
Ms. Lion After

Monday, July 25, 2011

We Need to Celebrate Marriage Equality -- But We Need to Defend It, Too!

Hopefully you've seen them by now.  The various wedding videos and clips of happy gay and lesbian couples in New York who spent the day yesterday getting legally hitched.  Personally, I wouldn't have rushed out to be first in line or to participate in a group wedding or anything like that.  But I understand why couples who've been together for years without the opportunity to legally marry would do it right away.  Especially after California's depressingly nauseous Proposition 8, when some gay couples didn't rush to the alter quick enough to get married soon enough before their neighbors decided that they weren't worthy enough to tie the knot.

Speaking of Proposition 8, I think it's important for gay families in New York (and in Vermont and in Washington D.C., and here in Iowa, etc., etc.) to remember that people are gunning for our marriages.  You hear a lot about gay people mocking the institution of marriage.  And yet it's not heterosexual marriage that's being mocked by gay people.  You hear a lot about gay people out to destroy marriage.  And yet it's not heterosexual marriages that have been constitutionally neutered by gay people.  You hear a lot about gay people hating marriage.  And yet it's not gay people who are attempting to forcibly and involuntarily annul the marriages of heterosexuals.  Gay people are not using the court system to stop heterosexual people from marrying.  In fact, it's just the opposite:
Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “Constitutional liberties were violated. Today we are asking the court to intervene in its rightful role as the check and balance on an out-of-control State Legislature.

It is unfortunate that state senators chose to protect their personal interests, rather than the people they were elected to represent. Some of the players may have changed, but it looks like same old Albany game. It is time the curtain be pulled back and the disinfecting light of good government shine upon the Cuomo Administration and our State Legislature.
You can read here how this group wants to declare the Marriage Equality Act null and void.

My point isn't be get all weepy or to stop the celebrating.  But, we do need to remain vigilant.  Gay families are under attack and it will remain this way for the foreseeable future.  We need to support our political allies.  We need to support our religious allies.  We need to remain out and visible.  And we need to encourage our friends and families to publicly support our families.

Our families deserve celebration.  Our families deserve dignity.  Our families deserve protection.  We owe it to ourselves to prevent another Proposition 8.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

DADT Repeal Reaction from the United Church of Christ

I wrote yesterday about President Obama certifying that the US military is ready to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and and allow openly gay and lesbian soldiers to serve outside their country.  Everyone knows that many public religious leaders are not happy with DADT upcoming finale.  They believe that their religious liberties will at risk if they can't discriminate against gay and lesbian soldiers.  Heck, we've already had police chaplains resign as opposed to serving alongside a lesbian co-worker and religious conservatives predict that soldiers will leave the military as opposed to serving alongside actively gay soldiers, as well as others who have actively encouraged soldiers to quit the post-DADT military.

Those earlier reactions by religious conservatives make me proud to be a member of the United Church of Christ, which offered the following post-DADT repeal reaction from the denomination's minister for LGBT concerns, Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer:
With today's certification from the Pentagon and President Obama, the last step to the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy has been taken and in 60 days, the policy will be dead. This ends a policy that forced same gender loving military personnel to lie about their sexual orientation in order to serve and defend their country.

Eighteen years ago the 19th General Synod of the United Church of Christ called for an end to the ban against gays and lesbians in the military. The resolution supported "the development of just and uniform standards of sexual conduct for all military personnel."

United Church of Christ leaders have advocated that no category of citizens of the United States should be regarded as second class and singled out for discrimination. All should be afforded equal opportunity and equal protection under the Constitution. Under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy more than 13,000 gays and lesbians were discharged and an uncounted number of others left prior to completing full careers due to the pressures it imposed.

With the repeal, gay, lesbian and bisexual service members will no longer be forced to deny who they are as persons or maintain lives of secrecy and separation from their service comrades. They will be free to acknowledge their orientation and their loved ones, and rest secure in the knowledge that should they be killed or wounded their loved ones will be notified.

It is important to note that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell applies only to sexual orientation and not to gender identity. Transgender people continue to suffer the injustice of not being allowed to serve openly in the military. Although transgender service members will no longer be discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell, they may continue to be barred from enlisting or serving openly under other provisions of the military code. Like the Don't Ask Don't Tell policies, the bans on service by transgender people are also based on stereotypes and a lack of accurate information. The military should take immediate action to repeal these policies, as well.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The End of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Quickly Approaches

It's taken 18 years and roughly 14,000 unjust discharges from the US military, but "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is just about over.  Yesterday, President Obama certified that the US military is ready to repeal DADT and allow openly gay and lesbian soldiers and officers to serve outside the closet.  DADT will be officially dead on September 20, 2011:
The repeal of the ban, dubbed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', will now come into force in 60 days time, on September 20.

"Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality," Mr Obama said in a statement.

He was speaking after signing a certification with Leon Panetta, the defence secretary, and Adm Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the US military was ready to accept gay troops.

The ban was overturned in a law adopted in December that first required the top military officer, the defense secretary and the president to certify that the change would not harm military readiness and that the armed forces were ready to carry it out. In the interim, the Pentagon has drawn up new manuals and prepared the entire armed forces, some 2.3 million people who serve as both active troops and reservists, for the new policy.
Predictably, groups like the Alliance Defense Fund are flipping out and claiming that the religious liberties of heterosexual soldiers and officers are at risk because they can't discriminate against gay and lesbian soldiers and officers:
Our troops’ religious liberties are in unprecedented jeopardy because the government has caved in to pressure from small groups of activists to impose homosexual and bisexual behavior on our military,” said Daniel Blomberg, ADF's litigation staff counsel.

Blomberg continues, "No Americans, and especially not our troops, should be forced to abandon their religious beliefs.”
As if soldiers haven't been serving and fighting alongside gay and lesbian soldiers for nearly 20 years without violating their religious beliefs.  As if chaplains haven't been placed in the position of serving all military personnel, even those who hold different religious beliefs than them.  As if our US soldiers are so unpatriotic that they will not serve and protect their country if they also have to serve alongside uncloseted gay men and women.

As with all of these anti-gay culture war slippery slopes cry-a-thons, I predict that there will be a few isolated bumps once DADT officially ends.  And then people will realize that gay and hets can serve alongside each other without the benefit of a closet door.  Life will move on and thing will be fine.

Friday, July 22, 2011

McDonald's Manager Angered by Service Dog // Assaults Mother of Disabled Children

This is pretty sad.  A mother went to McDonald's a couple weeks back with her two autistic children and their service dog.  An off-duty manager of the restaurant then repeatedly confronted the mother about bringing the dog into the restaurant and then ended up assaulting the mother when she and her children left the restaurant:
A McDonald's manager in the Atlanta area is accused of punching a mother after she brought her autistic children and a service dog inside the restaurant, authorities said. Tiffany Denise Allen is charged with simple battery, simple assault and disorderly conduct, according to a Cobb County warrant.

Jennifer Schwenker entered the McDonald's in Marietta with her twins and service dog on July 12. Allen, who was off-duty at the time, became angry that the dog was inside, the warrant states. Police say Allen followed the mother around the restaurant, then punched her in the face in the parking lot.

Surveillance video shows McDonald's employees trying to restrain their co-worker, police wrote in the warrant.
The article reports that Tiffany Allen is no longer employed by McDonald's.

Let's forget about the alleged assault for a second.  This off-duty manager was clearly operating against the Americans with Disabilities Act when she attempted to eject the service dog from her restaurant.  The ADA requires that businesses permit service animals wherever customers are generally allowed.  It doesn't matter if it's a restaurant or a store or a hotel or city bus or whatever.  You can learn more about service animals and the Americans with Disabilities Act here.

I understand that the manager might have wanted to make sure that the dog with that customer and her children was actually a service dog.  But, she really needed to back away and lay off this mother once she realized that it was indeed a service dog.  Instead, she allowed the situation to escalate to the point where she disrupted the store's business, harassed and assaulted a customer, lost her job, and now has a warrant out against her.

If there's a moral out there, I guess it's that you shouldn't physically attack customers (especially when they're tethered to their disabled kids and a dog).  But more importantly, people need to realize that service animals serve more than blind people.  There are service animals that detect seizures or who assist people in wheelchairs or who help calm the mentally ill.  Just because someone's disability isn't automatically obvious to you, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.  In other words, welcome your disabled customers and let their service animals do their jobs.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marcus Bachmann's Clinic Was Glitter-Bombed Today

One month and one day ago, I expressed my frustration with a new GLBT activist trend of glitter-bombing GOP presidential candidates who hold anti-gay and anti-gay family attitudes.  You can read it here, but I basically said that I find glitter-bombing to be a pointless and counter-productive form of protest.  As usual, nobody listened to my opinion. 

Earlier today, a group of gay barbarians went to Marcus Bachmann's Christian counseling center.  They sang some lyrics to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" song and then covered the lobby with glitter.  This particular glitter-bomb protest was in response to reports that Bachmann & Associates offers ex-gay therapy.  Their attire was inspired by Bachmann's 2010 interview where he explained that gay teens are "barbarians" in need of education.

This whole stunt took about three minutes, but will likely haunt the GLBT community for months to come.

Westboro Baptist Church Plans to Picket NY Gay Wedding this Weekend

I learned today that the folks at Westboro Baptist Church (AKA Fred Phelps, Shirley Phelps-Roper and their clan) are planning a protest of the John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz wedding this Sunday.  The National Organization for Marriage is also planning several gay wedding protests this weekend, but (at least as far as I can tell) they aren't actually holding protests at any wedding sites, unlike the WBC.

Westboro Baptist Church has been protesting the funerals of gay men since 1991.  Unfortunately, the general public tended to turn a collective blind eye towards the Phelps' distasteful shenanigans.  It really wasn't until 2005 when they began protesting the funerals of military combat heroes that people began speaking out seriously against Phelps and his clan.  Now that Westboro Baptist Church has planned what I believe is their first gay wedding protest, I'm curious how long it will be before they began showing up at the private weddings of heterosexual people?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Iowa Department of Corrections Reverses Decision // Allows Prison Guard Sick Time to Care for her Sick Wife

Here's a feel good story coming out of Iowa City.  The ACLU successfully assisted a prison guard named Teresa Heck reverse a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) denial to care for her cancer-stricken wife, Rebecca Andrews.  The Iowa Department of Corrections originally denied her FMLA request, citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples:
The ACLU agreed to take Heck’s case and asked the Iowa Attorney General to review state policy related to the dispute. As a result of that action, the Department of Corrections has decided to allow Heck her sick leave, the ACLU said in a statement.

“This is a victory for fairness and equality for all legally married Iowans,” said Randall Wilson, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa. “It also sets a precedent for other state agencies, making it clear that discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation is not acceptable.”
A hearing by the US Senate is assessing the impact of DOMA on American families.  The Heck/Andrews FMLA denial is being presented as an exampleof the harm that gay families experience because of DOMA.  Ultimately, this hearing could be the first step in the long walk towards repealing the federal DOMA law.

Sadly, someone in the comments section of the article linked above has already asked "When will Iowa reverse it's (sic) decision on the legality of same sex marriages?".  I am still unsure how America is hurt when a woman is allowed to go home and care for the woman she loves while she recovers from ovarian cander.  How are heterosexual families harmend when a sick spouse is cared for by her wife?  Unfortunately, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is working hard to make sure that DOMA stays in place and that families like the Heck/Andrews family continue to struggle against oppressive and hard-hearted federal rules.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hugging Saint May Get Banned from Local Hotel Following Complaints

Perhaps you have heard of "Amma the Hugging Saint"?  She travels the country and hugs random people.  She has acquired many followers over the years and they believe that her hugs possess healing powers.  The Hugging Saint has come to the nearby Coralville area four times in the past few years.  Her most recent visit was in June 2011.  Unfortunately for Amma, it might be her last visit following complaints by other guests at Coralville's Marriott and Convention Center:
57-year-old Mata Amritanandamayi, better known to her followers as “Amma the Hugging Saint”, made her fourth appearance at the convention center in five years during the final weekend of June. Thousands of people flocked to the Iowa River Landing in order to receive one of Amma’s hugs, which many of her followers believe have healing qualities.

But not all of the guests at the Marriott felt Amma’s message of love and service to humanity during her stay. Sources with the city of Coralville, which owns the Marriott and convention center, have told KCJJ that hotel officials received complaints from other guests about the behavior of some of Amma’s followers. Members of three different wedding parties complained that Amma followers crashed their receptions and took food from the buffet. Others stole flowers from bouquets. Other guests complained about Amma followers sleeping in their vehicles in the ramp and parking lots.
A final decision to deny future visits hasn't yet been made, but it's not looking too good for the Hugging Saint.

Iowa: The State Where You Can't Smoke A Fag, But You Can Marry One

That's the new state motto being bandied about by supporters of thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and the anti-marriage group, The FAMiLY LEADER.  Earlier today, Think Progress published an article about BVP at a "Capturing Momentum Tour" event at the Subway Restaurant in Audubon, Iowa back in March 2011.  The article features a 45 second clip that begins with BVP complaining about former Iowans who have been calling his office and relating stories about how Iowa is now the joke of the country because gay and lesbian couples have the legal ability to marry.  About halfway through the clip, one of the attendees shared an anti-gay quip:
Attendee: You know what my wife says?  She says "Iowa: the state where you can't smoke a fag, but you can marry one.

Everyone then bursts into laughter, including BVP.

BVP: Oh shoot, that's pretty good, that's pretty good.  Oh shoot.
You can watch the clip here:

Incidentally, supporters of BVP and The FAMiLY LEADER have a history of linking gay families to cigarette smoking.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Religious Group Sticks Up for Town Clerks Who Refuse To Do Their Jobs

I have written a couple times over the past month about New York town clerks who are freaking about because they have to do their jobs.  These town clerks are terrified that they might someday have to sign off on a marriage license by some of their local gay or lesbian constituents.  One of the routine tasks of town clerks in New York state is to sign off on the marriage certificates in their communities.  In fact, it's an elected position that their community and these communities voted these men and women to their jobs with the expectation that they would actually do the job duties that they campaigned to do.

Some clerks initially publicly announced that they would refuse to serve some of their constituents before realizing that they can't perform a municipal function for only some of the public.  Others have resigned so that they will never find themselves in the position of having to actually doing their job and processing all local marriage licenses.  And many others are doing the job that they were elected to do.

Now the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund is meddling in New York's affairs by advocating for New York town clerks who want to keep their jobs even if they don't want to actually do their jobs:
The Alliance Defense Fund has issued (a) memo explaining the rights of clerks to refuse to issue licenses. Employers must make “reasonable accommodation” for an employee’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” In this instance, the memo says, “because New York law explicitly allows a municipality to delegate a clerk’s duties concerning marriage licenses to a deputy clerk or any other municipal employee, a city or town should have no reason to deny a clerk’s request for an accommodation.”

In Guilderland, Town Clerk Rosemary Centi has asked to recuse herself from duties as a marriage officer. In Broome County, Barker Town Clerk Laura Fotusky resigned because she did not want to recognize marriages for same-sex couples.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked last week about Fotusky’s decision, and presented a cut-and-dry assessment of the situation: ”The law is the law. You enforce the law as is, you don’t get to pick and choose those laws…If you can’t enforce the law, you shouldn’t be in that position.”
Of course, Town Clerks have never been terribly concerned about exercising their religious right to refuse to issue marriage licences in the past.  I have never heard of a Town Clerk or equivalent official in another state use their Catholic identity to decline the processing of marriage licenses to divorcees, for example.  It is just when gay or lesbian couples exercise our own civic rights in this society that people suddenly decide that their paid jobs violate their religious ethics.  Which seems awfully damned convenient, if you ask me.

Here's the skinny.  Town Clerks aren't there to bless marriage licences.  They are there to process them.  You don't have to like everyone who's paperwork you process.  You just need to process it and then move onto the next person's paperwork.  If you are a Town Clerk and you are not willing to do it, then stop wasting everyone's time and move onto another job.

How to Come Out to Parents?

Last week, Andrew Marin posted a "Youth Questions" video where he was asked the question, "How do I come to my parents?".  You can listen to his response here:

He then solicited responses from his blog readers and I posted the following response, which is where my head was at when I wrote it:
I like the idea of having someone being there with you when you have the talk. Here are some of my thoughts on coming out to your parents:

1. Ideally, you will come out to your parents when you are not dependent on them. I have friends who’ve been kicked out and cut off from their parents after they came out. Sometimes it was a short period while they initially reacted. Some parents still never communicate with their gay kids again. It helps if you have your own place and your own income and finances if this happens to you.

2. I don’t care if they are your parents. Don’t let them say nasty things to you after you come out to them. (This relates to Andrew’s observation that you can never take back your negative reaction.) If they become verbally abusive towards you, leave and finish the conversation after they’ve finished with their rant and calmed down. If they need to vent and say nasty things, let them do it when you’re not there.

3. Don’t horribalize your situation. If you’re crying when you come out to them, you might clarify that you’re frightened of their rejection, not about being gay. Otherwise, don’t let them convince you that being gay is terrible. Don’t let them try to convince you about lies about what gay men and women are like based off their fears and misinformation. You are the gay person. You are the one who actually has the experience and perspective of being a gay person. You have the ability to adhere to or reject any gay stereotype that’s out there. You are you and you are special and unique. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
So how about the readers of this blog? What advise would you give about coming out to parents?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Man's Blood Donation Rejected Because He Looks Gay

Aaron Pace went to a blood and plasma donation center in Gary, Indiana last week to donate his own blood.  That blood donation was rejected.  It wasn't rejected because he has HIV or Hepatitis or some other diseases.  It was rejected because he's been sexually active with another man.  His blood donation was rejected because the screener thought he "appears to be a homosexual":
(Pace's) looks, character and behavior prompted a blood donation center to reject him when he tried to donate blood recently and he’s miffed, to say the least. “I was humiliated and embarrassed,” said Pace, 22. of Gary. “It’s not right that homeless people can give blood but homosexuals can’t. And I’m not even a homosexual.”

Pace visited Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, which pays for blood and plasma donations, up to $40 a visit. But during the interview screening process, Pace said he was told he could not be a blood donor there because he “appears to be a homosexual.”

No one at Bio-Blood returned calls seeking comment, but donation centers like it, and even the American Red Cross, are still citing a nearly 30-year-old federal policy to turn away gay men from donating. The Food and Drug Administration policy, implemented in 1983, states that men who have had sex — even once — with another man (since 1977) are not allowed to donate blood.

The policy was sparked by concerns that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was tainting the blood supply. And, back then, screening tests to identify HIV-positive blood had not yet been developed. Today, all donated blood is tested for HIV, as well as for hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases, before it can be released to hospitals. This is why gay activists, blood centers including the American Red Cross, and even some lawmakers now claim the lifetime ban is “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
Pace's rejection is pretty troubling.  I can understand why the FDA is concerned about letting certain populations donate blood and blood products, even if I don't agree with them.  But there is no reason to deny someone to opportunity to donate blood because they look gay.  Maybe Bio-Blood is awash in blood and can afford to reject eligible blood donors.  But Pace doesn't appear to meet the rejection criteria and frankly, even if he is indeed gay, there is still no reason to reject his blood unless he has actually been sexually active with another man.

My own church used to host blood donation events every so often with the American Red Cross.  This was back when I used to work part-time as the church's secretary.  I came to work one of those days and my pastor commended me for coming in to donate blood.  His praise turned to shock shortly afterwards when I told him that I wasn't there to donate blood.  "Why not?," he asked.  "Because, I'm a HIV-negative, monogamous, sexually active gay man.  They don't want my blood."  He then began questioning the Red Cross volunteers why I couldn't donate blood.  They told him that they personally didn't care, but that their hands were tied because of FDA regulations. 

This is a stupid rule, in my opinion.  The FDA gay blood ban might seem wise, but it doesn't actually consider risk factors.  It doesn't consider what kinds of sexual activities that individual gay and bi men engage in or how risky those activities are for contracting HIV or other diseases.  It doesn't consider whether or not someone has been repeatedly tested for HIV or if they are monogamous.  It doesn't consider how long ago individual  men were sexually active with other men.  And, if the Aaron Pace situation is to be fully believe, it doesn't even consider whether or not gay men or perceived gay men were actually sexually active with other men.  Gay men and our blood are just automatically rejected.  Period.

Meanwhile, I could go to a blood donation center and lie about being sexually active with another man and they would take my blood (as long as I don't look gay).  They will screen my blood along with every other donor and find no trace of any blood disease.  And they will be glad that someone cared enough to donate his blood to someone in need.

I understand the need to prevent donations from people with known blood-borne diseases.  But they need to lighten up a bit with donations from those who aren't sick, especially if they are already regularly testing their blood supplies.  The FDA needs to stop assuming that all gay and bisexual men have HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis.  As more gay men get married and practice monogamous lifestyles, the FDA needs to recognize that these potential donors are more safe than not, especially if these men don't sleep with other men outside of the family and if they have been tested regularly for diseases.  Either way, this 35-year-old FDA blood ban needs to get updated.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Low Carb is Anti-Jesus

I apologize for the lag these past couple days.  I feel like I should write more, but the truth is that I'm a bit tired this week.  Husband Mark was away in Minneapolis all week, so I was in charge of the boys, the animals, and the house on my own.  I had some extra work to do this week for my occasional part-time contract job.  On top of all that, both boys are leaving tomorrow for a week of summer camp.  So, the inspiration hasn't really been there this week.  Hopefully, that will fix itself now that Mark is back home and once I've finished shopping and packing for camp.

In the meantime, I thought I would share an old cartoon that I have hanging in my office.  It was inspired by the December 2004 United Church of Christ God is Still Speaking "Bouncer" advertisement and the resulting criticism from the media and other denominations.  I'm not quite sure why I've been thinking about this cartoon today.  Regardless, I find it very funny and hope you will too.  Enjoy!!!:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nero at Daycare -- 07/14/11

Nero's been pretty busy at doggy daycare today.  Check it out:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is Kingmaker BVP's Crown Tarnishing?

Last week, I wrote about thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and his group, The FAMiLY LEADER.  They had demanded that each presidential candidate sign off on their "Marriage Vow" by August 1st or else forfeit The FAMiLY LEADER's coveted endorsement.  BVP's "Marriage Vow" demanded many things of the candidates: opposition to gay families, refraining from extramarital affairs, advocating the complete ban of all pornography, opposition to DADT's repeal, opposition to government spending, promotion of religious liberty, and rejection of Sharia Islam.  The "Marriage Vow" also encouraged married hets to rut like crazy and give birth to lots and lots of babies.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum nearly tripped over each other in their attempt to sign off on BVP's "Marriage Vow" first.  Then people began reading the "Marriage Vows" footnotes and read troubling stuff like the promotion of ex-gay treatment and the observation that the black children of slaves were better off than many black children today because those past kids were more likely to live with their moms and dads than the black kids of today.  The FAMiLY LEADER eventually amended their "Family Vow" to exclude the references to slave kids and apologized for causing others' negative feelings.

Since then, Mitt Romney has rejected the "Marriage Vow".  So has Newt Gingerich and Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty and Herman CainGary Johnson refused to sign and called the "Marriage Vow" offensive.  Fred Karger also refused to sign  and commented on the "Marriage Vow": "That thing was a painful read".  In other words, the "Marriage Vow" fell flat and everyone is running away as fast as they can from Iowa's Kingmaker.

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone listed above opposes marriage equality and gay families, with the sole exception of perennial GOP black sheep Fred Karger.  But BVP is obviously not attracting the commitment that he seeks from the GOP's national presidential wannabes.  They will use him to speak to Iowa's social conservatives, but by and large they refuse to sign off on his pledge in order to potentially seek his endorsement.

BVP was supposed to be the 2012 presidential Kingmaker.  After three failed campaigns to become Iowa's Republican gubernatorial candidate, he managed to rally slightly more than half of Iowa's voters in an anti-retention campaign against Iowa's Supreme Court.  Since then, he's been courting the presidential candidates and demanding the resignation of the rest of Iowa's Supreme Court.  Iowa's media keeps running to BVP for his opinion because he waved the flag against Iowa's Supreme Court.  He is the go-to guy.  He is the Kingmaker.

So it's not surprising that he came up with the "Marriage Vow" that didn't just call from candidates to attack gay families and our marriages, but also single parents and divorcees and Muslims and unmarried couples and those who've sacrifices to serve in our military.  He could have and should have stuck to The FAMiLY LEADER's main target (i.e., married gays and lesbians).  Instead, BVP created a politically damaging manifesto.  In short, he held out his crown of endorsement for everyone to see and ended up showing everyone that it's badly tarnished and not really worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Since When Did Bigamy Involve Cohabitation And Not Legal Marriage Contracts?

Did you hear about the polygamous family that went on a reality TV show called "Sister Wives" and ended up finding themselves charged with bigamy?  I always thought bigamy involved the act of filing multiple marriage licenses at once.  Apparently in Utah, you don't have to attempt to marry multiple partners to be charged with bigamy.  You just have to cohabit.  Now the Sister Wives family has a new story arc for their TV show.  They're taking the state of Utah to court and challenging its anti-polygamy law:
In an email to The Associated Press, attorney Jonathan Turley said he will file the lawsuit challenging Utah's bigamy law in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Turley represents Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn. Brown is only legally married to Meri Brown.

Originally from Lehi, the Browns, who have 16 children, has been featured on the TLC reality show since last fall. They moved out of Utah to Nevada in January after police and Utah County prosecutors launched a bigamy investigation. No charges were ever filed.

The Browns practice polygamy as part of their religious beliefs.

Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah. A person can be found guilty of bigamy through cohabitation, not just legal marriage contracts.

In a statement posted on his blog, Turley said the lawsuit will challenge Utah's right to prosecute people for their private relationships. "We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs," the statement reads.

According to the statement, the lawsuit seeks to protect a person's right to be left alone. "In that sense, it is a challenge designed to benefit not just polygamists but all citizens who wish to live their lives according to their own values - even if those values run counter to those of the majority in the state," Turley wrote.
Personally, I'm kind of hoping that they win their case!  What business is it to the people of Utah if this man has four wives, especially if they're not even attempting to mess with the state's marriage law or file plural marriage licenses? 

How is it a third degree felony for this man to live in the same house with the four mothers of his children?  Apparently, it's not bigamy for him to have his wife and kids in one house and his mistress and other kids in the next house.  What difference does one yard make?  What if they each lived on either end of a duplex?

Even more scary, gay and lesbian families live in many more states that don't recognize our families compared to those that do.  If the state of Utah can arrest a man for bigamy who committed the crime of living in the same home with women of his children whom is considers his wives (legal or not), what's to stop the state from arresting a lesbian for violating the state's DOMA and constitutional definition of marriage for living with the woman she considers her wife (legal or not)?  Turley is right to assert that Utah's bigamy law threatens anyone who has values different than the majority.

I know that we are going to hear about others' fears of slippery slopes.  But I really don't care.  I hope that Brown wins this case.  This bigamy law would not be challenged if the state hadn't expanded it to include something that it shouldn't include (i.e., simple cohabitation) and if it hadn't been used to attack a plural family who had the nerve to reveal their lives on television.  I think the state of Utah owes it to the Brown family and the rest of Utah to explain why its in the public interest to threaten this man with a third degree felony.

New York Town Clerk Resigns To Avoid Gay Marriage Licenses

A few weeks ago, I shared a story about Volney, NY, town cleark, Barbara MacEwen, who has gone public with her intention to refuse to do her job and sign off on marriage licenses filed by local gay and lesbian couples.  I questioned why this person even bothered to show up for work after asserting that she will blatently refuse to do routine job functions for a certain portion of the community that she was elected to serve.  (Though I should note that MacEwen eventually "relented" and arranged for deputy clerks to sully their souls by signing off on gay marriage licenses.  Oh, the sacrifices that one makes one's underlings do...)

Another New York town clerk also found herself in a similar quandary.  Laura Fotusky of Barker, NY, felt torn between her object to signing off on gay couples' marriage licenses and her desire to do the job that she's paid to do.  She ultimately decided to quitHere is part of her resignation letter:
I have been in contact with Jason McGuire from New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, our Town Attorney, Richard Lewis, and a Constitutional Lawyer regarding the Marriage Equality Act that was passed June 24, 2011. There was no protection provided in the legislation for Town Clerks who are unable to sign these marriage licenses due to personal religious convictions, even though our US Constitution supports freedom of religion.

I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’

The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God. Deuteronomy 10:12 says, ‘…What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.’

I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.

It has been a pleasure and privilege to serve the Town as Barker Town Clerk.
I'll give Fotusky her props.  At least she was upright enough to jump into unemployment and uncertainty instead of refusing to perform one of the civic duties that she was paid to perform.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Will Marriage Equality Create Adoption Boom? Why?

I was checking out my main e-mail account this evening and came across this article: "Gay Marriage Raises Prospect of NY Adoption Boom".  According to the article, now that gay and lesbian couples are able to legally marry in the state of New York (next month, anyway), adoption attorneys and agencies are preparing for a "baby boom" by gay and lesbian couples.  Which makes no sense to me given that gay and lesbian individuals and couples have had the ability to adopt in New York State for years.  So why would more of them suddenly want to adopt now as opposed to last year or the year before?

Here's the theory:
The state already permits unmarried couples, both gay and straight, to adopt children. But a wedding ring is an important milestone in a relationship — and can also bolster a couple's case as they try to impress social workers, adoption agencies and birth mothers during the often competitive adoption process, couples and adoption experts say...

Experts won't know for sure whether adoptions have increased in the five other states, plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized gay marriage until the results of the 2010 census are released this year, said Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California-Los Angeles.

But nationwide, about 19,000 gay couples had adopted children as of 2009, he said. That's up from 10,700 couples in 2000 — the same year Vermont began offering civil unions and four years before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The problem with those stats is that they don't really indicate to the readers whether that 8,000 per year increase in adoptive couples occurred in states like Vermont and Massachusetts where gay and lesbian families were respected under the law, or if those adoption were increasing throughout the country.  Additionally, the New York Times recently published census materials that indicated higher numbers of gay and lesbian households raising children in the US South than in any other region of the country.  We are talking about states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.  Those are hardly gay marriage-friendly states.  So why would they profit from New York's marriage rights and responsibilities?

I had a conversation with a younger (than me) lesbian this afternoon who really wants to adopt some day and she kept trying to link the progression of getting married and then adopting and struggling with the reality that she's not married and not likely to get married anytime soon.  In her mind, adoption workers won't look at her as seriously as a prospective adoptive parent who is married.  Which of course made me think back to my own pre-marriage adoption history and the above-mentioned NYT article about coupled gays who lack the legal rights of marriage and second-parent adoption, but who make do.  I reminded her that there are options.  It might not be a perfect situation and it might not be legally recognized, but that gay and lesbian people have been creating informal families of choice for decades. 

It's easy to get stuck in a heteronormative mindset, but sometimes circumstances force you to look into Plan B or Plan C or even Plan Q.  And even though Plan A might seem like the only good option at this point in time, too many of us have found ourselves in the midst of Plan Q and found it unexpectedly wonderful.

Captain America at K-Mart -- 07/11/11

Remember how Captain America got shot to death following the Civil War?  His body shriveled away and he remained dead until some sort time-travel thing or another.  Actually, I'm not sure how he came back, except that he's back.  By time he returned from the dead, his old World War II sidekick Bucky Barnes had been resurrected and had assumed Cap's classic (and yet updated) red, white, and blue costume.  The original Cap took over SHIELD and is now a cross between Nick Fury and Captain America.

Then last month, the new Captain America got his chest cavity slammed through by one of the Serpent's hammer-wielding avatars, Sin.  It wasn't very pretty.  There were lots of green flashy effects and blood specks and cybernetic energy sparkles.  Bucky lasted long enough to try rousing his buds, but it's kind of hard to get revved up when your flag-waver is lying there with a hole in his rib cage.

With this in mind, I actually ran into a new Captain America this evening at K-Mart.  I'm starting to wonder if Captain America is kind of like the whole Vampire Slayer legend.  One dies and another is mystically awakened.  This new Cap really needs a bigger shield.  He looks kind of familiar, though.  Check it out:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

By the Numbers

2 -- Number of GOP Presidential candidates who've signed off on The FAMiLY LEADER's "Marriage Vow" since it was unveiled last Thursday.  Those vowers are Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.  One of the more troubling footnotes in the "marriage vow" is an observation that the black children of slaves were better off that many black kids today because those past kids were more likely to live with their moms and dads than the black kids of today.  After much criticism, The FAMiLY LEADER amended their "marriage vow" to remove that footnote.  It's unclear whether Bachmann and Santorum are being held to the standards of the amended or the unamended "marriage vow.  BTW, GOP Presidential candidate Gary Johnson has outright condemned the "marriage vow" and Jon Huntsman has declined to sign off on it, stating that he has a long history of gay families and doesn't like signing off on other's pledge cards.

7 -- There were seven superhumans "Worthy" enough to serve the evil Serpent over in Marvel Comics (Absorbing Man, Attuma, Grey Gargoyle, Hulk, Juggernaut, Sin, Thing, and Titania).  Marvel recently revealed seven "Mighty" heroes who might just be tough enough to oppose the Serpent and his Worthy allies.  The Mighty are all blacked out, but that doesn't stop me from speculating about their identities.  Some are easy choices, others aren't.  Here are my initial guesses (from left to right): Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Wolverine, She-Hulk (not sure which one, though I'm hoping for Red She-Hulk and planning for the future She-Hulk), Mockingbird, Hawkeye, and Spider-Man.  It's still unclear if these folks have been mystically or technologically charged by anyone or whom that might be.  I could be wrong with some of my guesses, but it's notable that neither Thor nor Captain America are mighty enough for this group of Mighty Men (and women).

10 -- Number of Projects "Comic Book Cold Cases" that Newsarama is still waiting for.  I'll admit to being more than anxious for Marvel's long awaited Marvelman, but truthfully I'm much more interested in the completion of a comic book that's not on this list: The Twelve.  I've been waiting for over two years for the next issue to come out.  That's just nuts.

1,618 -- Number of gay and lesbian couples who've applied for civil union licenses in Illinois over the past month since the legislature passed its civil union bill into law.  Equality Illinois believes that there are actually more Illinois couples who've civilly unionized, as they already unionized in other states.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nero and Sadie at the Farm -- 07/09/11

The boys and I decided to take the weekend off and pay a visit to my parents' farm.  Nero and Ms. Lion have been enjoying the freedom that comes with visiting the countryside, though Nero's the one who's taking advantage of playtime outside.  The pic below is D' driving around with "cousin" Sadie in the back.  Nero's enjoying the chase.  Check it out:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BVP the Kingmaker Demands Presidential Candidates Sign "Marriage Vow" to Gain Endorsement

Thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and The FAMiLY LEADER unveiled issued a pledge document today.  Presidential candidates who want BVP's Kingmaker stamp of approval have until August 1, 2011, to sign off on this "Marriage Vow" unless they want to forever lose the support of Iowa's most influential DOMAgogue.

The FAMiLY LEADER's "Marriage Vow" demands that presidential candidates support married couples and families and do everything in their power to protect America's families -- unless they are gay families.  Then BVP wants presidential candidates to wipe them out.

To gain The FAMiLY LEADER's support, presidential candidates must make a solemn vow to:
*Personal fidelity to my spouse.
*Respect for the marital bonds of others (
Jon's clarifying comment: except my marriage and others like it).
*Official fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, supporting the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices.
*Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage -- faithful monogamy between one man and one woman -- through statutory-, bureaucratic-, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex, etc.
*Recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and that children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy.
*Support for prompt reform of uneconomic, anti-marriage aspects of welfare policy, tax policy, and marital/divorce law, and extended "second chance" or "cooling-off" periods for those seeking a "quickie divorce."
bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels.
*Steadfast embrace of a federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in all of the United States.
*Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy -- our next generation of American children -- from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion stolen innocence.
*Support for the enactment of safeguards for all married and unmarried U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, especially our combat troops, from inappropriate same-gender or opposite-gender sexual harassment, adultery or intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.); plus prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape and sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles.
*Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.
*Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is
beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.
*Commitment to downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA's $14.3 trillion public debt, its $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities, its $1.5 trillion federal deficit, and it $3.5 trillion federal budget.
*Fierce defence of the First Amendment's rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech, especially against the intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience for their adherence to, and defense of, faithful heterosexual monogamy.
To summarize: The FAMiLY LEADER wants candidates to support DOMA, oppose DADT repeal, promote only judges that they support, criminalize pornography, and promote lots of married heterosexual sex.  Oh, and they want them to oppose Sharia Law.  If you read through the Vow's footnotes, you'll also note that candidates are also asserting that homosexuality is a choice and that married gays will statistically die sooner than married hets.  BVP's group compared homosexuality to exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke earlier this year.

Michele Bachmann appears to be the only presidential candidate who has signed off on this "Marriage Vow" as of this writing.

Gay Parents Are Weird

Right Wing Watch shared a disrespectful link to clip titled "Having Gay Parents Is Weird!".  It's hard to tell from the blog article who exactly produced the following video.  It was either GOD TV's Sid Roth of It's Supernatural or Dr. Michael Brown, author of A Queer Things Happened to America.  I get the impression that Brown produced this video and used it as an advertisement for his book:
Before the interview, a trailer for the book features a boy at school imagining the terror of having same-sex parents: over-sentimental mothers who bandage his wounds and kiss him before he goes to sleep and dysfunctional fathers who tie his shoe laces and send him off to school.
Watch the video if you want.  The boy who is portrayed in this ad doesn't like his pretend parents.  He doesn't like it when his parents attend to his injuries or walk him to the bus stop or kiss him goodnight or read to him at bedtime.  Of course, the mothers are supposedly overly doting and the fathers are clearly ineffectual and the kid hates this.  Apparently, kids like having only one dad who knows how to burn breakfast and only one mom who can bandage a cut.

A quick review of Brown's Amazon page for his book and fan reactions assert that he loves and respects gay people.  The video shown above doesn't demonstrate love or respect.  It clearly states that gay parents and gay households like mine are "weird" to Brown and his supporters.  They (religious and social conservatives) claim to be the tolerant victims of mean gay people like me, because gay people like me object to false projections of what our families are like (much less the parenting skills of dads, in general).  The truth is that there is nothing tolerant or respectful or accurate about that video.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brings New Meaning to the Question: "Who's the Man and Who's the Woman?"

One of the rudest and most intrusive question that gay and lesbian couples get asked is "who's the man in your relationship?" or "who's the woman?"  In other words, they want to know who takes out the trash, who cooks the food, who pitches, who catches, and who holds the remote control.  Because, relationships are all about societally-enforced gender roles.

Turns out that the state of New York is all about asking gay couples "who's the man and who's the woman?" with their online marriage license applications.  Other states like Massachusetts and Iowa allow you the option of a "bride/groom" form or a "spouse A/spouse B" form.  New York's legislature passed a marriage equality bill, but somebody forgot to update the applications because the state's Marriage Bureaus are ow asking "who's the bride and who's the groom?":
As he got ready for work on Tuesday, Fredy H. Kaplan, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound gay rights activist from the East Village, turned to his 6-foot-1, 250-pound fiancĂ© and made it official. “You’re going to be the bride,” he said.

Mr. Kaplan had spent the morning at his computer, applying online for a marriage license, because Tuesday was the first day that New York City allowed same-sex couples to initiate the process for getting married. But he stumbled on an unexpected roadblock: The city clerk’s online forms offered only the choice of “bride” and “groom.” Mr. Kaplan, 50, a vice president of the Stonewall Democrats, and his partner of six years, Anthony Cipriano, 43, were puzzled, but also amused.

“He said, ‘You’re making me the bride?’ ” Mr. Kaplan recalled. “It was confusing on many levels.”
Fortunately, it appears that the marriage license applications have since been updated to identify "Bride/Groom/Spouse A" and "Bride/Groom/Spouse B".  But some GLBT couples are still fuming that their local Marriage Bureau seemed to be trying to figure out who was the top and who was the bottom in these new marital relationships.  Which is really rude.

By the way, I found the best response to the "who's the man?//who's the woman?" question.  Check this out:
Asking who's the "man" and who's the "woman" in a gay relationship is like going to a Chinese restaurant and asking which chopstick is the fork.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

UCC GS28 Passes Resolution Promoting Adoption and GLBT Adoptive Parents

Back in March, I posted information about a proposed resolution that would be voted on during this weekend's 28th General Synod of the United Church of Christ.  This proposed resolution, if passed, would call for the UCC to promote and defend adoption by GLBT parents and to defend GLBT adoptive families.

Today, that resolution passed:
By a unanimous voice vote, General Synod 28 delegates approved a resolution supporting “The Right of LGBT Persons to Adopt and Raise Children.”

In presenting the resolution to plenary, the Rev. Susan Artt of St. Paul UCC in Nashville, Ill., emphasized that today more than 460,000 children in the United States live in group or foster homes – and that each year 25,000 foster children “age out” of the foster care system. “We need parents!” exclaimed another delegate, a former group home executive.

Before adopting the resolution, delegates added one amendment, urging UCC health and human service agencies to honor the right of LGBT persons to adopt.
I'm not a huge fan of the whole resolution process as exercised by the UCC's General Synods, for reasons stated in this post, but I'm completely behind this resolution.

It is important that our churches promote adoption and adoptive families.  And, despite inevitable criticism from ECOT UCCers and other UCC Reformers, I think that it's incredibly important to have at least one Christian denomination outside of the Metropolitan Community Church stand up in favor of GLBT adoptive families and foster families.  Too many churches and denominations treat our families like dirt and too many progressive Christian groups like Sojourners can't even stand behind a commercial inviting GLBT families into the Christian church.

It's wonderful that the UCC's General Synod spoke out in favor of GLBT adoptive families and it's even more wonderful that it was a unanimous decision.  It is moments like this that I an terribly proud to be a member of the United Church of Christ.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Finding Bigfoot": My Favorite Five Bigfoots

I've been obsessed recently with one of Animal Planet's newest shows: "Finding Bigfoot".  The show follows a quartet of Sasquatch searchers across the USA in their ever-elusive search for Bigfoot.  This is how the show goes: Someone has a video or a picture that purports to be a Sasquatch.  They go to the scene of the crime and reenact the Sasquatch sighting to gain more perspective.  They then organize town meetings and recruit more local stories and reenactments.  They then wander the wilderness and attempt to capture clear photographic evidence of Bigfoot.  At least, that's the storyline of the three episodes that I've seen so far.  I'm always left wishing they'd find more conclusive proof, but I can't deny that the chase is pretty exciting.

I was watching the Finding Bigfoot marathon this afternoon and got to thinking about my favorite "Bigfoot" characters from Marvel Comics.  There are a bunch and many of them are connected to Canada and my favorite international super-team, Alpha Flight.  In honor of today's Finding Bigfoot marathon, I thought it might be fun to share by Favorite Five Bigfoots (Bigfeet? -- what is the plural tense for Bigfoot anyway?), starting in descending order:

5. Yetrigar: I don't know why I like this big lug, but Yetrigar has always held a special place in my heart.  He was originally created to fight Godzilla back when Marvel Comics owned the publishing rights for that property.  They eventually lost Godzilla, but retained Yetrigar.  Yetrigar appears to be some prehistoric caveman who transformed into a giant beast following a healthy dose of radiation.  He eventually battled the Avengers and the original Red Ronin.

4. Sasquatch: Sasquatch was a member of Alpha Flight back in the late 90s.  This Sasquatch shouldn't be confused for Alpha Flight founding member, Walter Langkowski (AKA Sasquatch), even though everyone associated with Alpha Flight and the Canadian government thought that the two were one and the same.  They just assumed that Walter ran into some mishap that reverted him into an animalistic mindset.  Little did anyone realize that the Canadian government had actually captured and recruited the real-life Bigfoot onto their premier super-team.  A Purple Woman-wannabe named Murmur kept this Sasquatch under the team's mental control.  I really hated Sasquatch when they introduced him.  Mainly because I hated the idea of turning Sasquatch into an essentially mindless brute.  And then I realized that he was an entirely new character secretly confused for the original Sasquatch, which brought me over to our Bigfoot's fanbase.  Unfortunately, this Sasquatch eventually got himself killed by the terrorist group also known as Zodiac.  To his credit, he died sacrificing himself to save his fellow Alphan, Radius.

3. Yeti: Yeti was part of John Byrne's Marvel: The Lost Generation mini-series many years ago.  It was an interesting concept.  A time-traveler found herself uncontrollably falling backwards in time from the 80s through the late 40s.  The series examined a largely forgotten super-team known as First Line from its final explosive moments to its inception.  One of its later members was a bestial creature known as Yeti.  He was a wild creature, kept under control through the sexual allure of women like Rapuzel and the Skrull agent known as Korya.

2. Yeti: My second to last favorite Bigfoot is also named Yeti.  He was a part of Canada's now-defunct mercenary team, Weapon: PRIME.  He is a Wendigo, people who cannibalize others and as a result fall victim to a mystic curse that transforms them into supernatural beasts.  Yeti somehow got recruited by the Canadian government and managed to fight Cable, X-Force, and Northstar before fading away into obscurity.  I always thought it would be fun to pull Yeti out of comic book limbo and insert him into a new Omega Flight team-up.  That said, there is a new government sanctioned super-team in the works called Alpha Strike that will be premiering in a few months.  One of those team members is a Wendigo.  It's possible that they just have a team member named Wendigo on this team, but I'm kind of keeping my finger's crossed that Yeti managed to get picked for this new team.

1. Wanda Langkowski (AKA Sasquatch): I'd mentioned Alpha Flight's original Sasquatch character, Walter Langkowski.  Even though he's currently fighting alongside his favorite Canadian heroes, he was once killed and resurrected in the body of another (now formerly) deceased team member, Snowbird.  Snowbird was a shape-changer and could transform into any Canadian creature, including Sasquatches.  It seemed like a good fit for Walter's spirit.  Except that Snowbird is female and lacked the ability to transform genders.  Hence, Walter became Wanda for many months.  I loved this character development.  This gender switch caused all sorts of problems for Wanda.  She lost all claim to Walter's fortune, property, and research.  For all intents and purposes, Wanda appeared to be some super-powered trouble-maker attempting to steal Walter's estate.  As usually happens in comic books, the status quo was eventually restored and Wanda became Walter once again.  But it was a fun ride while it lasted.