Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Arrest Made in Assault/Attempted Murder of Iowa City Police Officer

Earlier this month, I wrote about a police officer who was assaulted and choked by a young man here in Iowa City.  A reward was being offered for the suspect's capture.  I tried making an update about this story earlier today, but Blogger was having some problems.  Since then, there have been developments.

Yesterday, Iowa City Patch shared additional video footage of the assault.  You don't see much, but you can here the attack and it's kind of creepy.  The Iowa City policy indicated that they would be charging the suspect with attempted murder, which is a class B felony and carried a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Overnight, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student from Urbandale, IA, named Brandon Plummer was arrested and charged with attempted murder:
Police say a tip called into the Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers led to the arrest of Plummer, who was found on Tuesday at his residence and arrested without incident...

A criminal complaint released by the Iowa City Police Department indicated that there were several witnesses of the assault. According to the complaint, one witness physically intervened to assist (Sgt. Brian) Krei during the assault and called 911. This witness claimed that Plummer allegedly slammed the Krei's head into the ground and told the witness to not call 911.

Another witness described Plummer allegedly choking a bleeding Krei, while Krei's face turned red and he was seen clearly gasping for air. Another witness said that Plummer allegedly used a scissor choke to pull Krei off the ground, and used the squad car as leverage as he continued to apply the choke.

According to the complaint, Plummer is accused of getting behind Krei and applying a choke with his forearm, grabbing his own wrist to apply more pressure. This potentially lethal maneuver is sometimes referred to as a guillotine choke. According to the complaint, the witnesses agreed the assailant, allegedly Plummer, was in control of Krei during the incident and was hitting him hard.

Anonymous commenters on the Iowa City Press-Citizen website have already been complaining about the snitch who turned Plummer into the police.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iowa House Speaker Paulsen (R) Not Planning on Addressing Gay Marriage in 2012

Earlier this month, Liz Mathis won the special election over in Iowa's Senate District 18 and helped Iowa Democratic Party maintain a one-person majority in the Iowa Senate.  That was all over the news.  What wasn't so much in the news was the power struggle that unseated the Iowa Senate Minority Leader (mainly over concerns that he wasn't putting enough Republican strength behind the SD 18 election, nor was he pushing enough on social issues).  He was replaced by another more moderate Senate Republican, which created more tension for social conservatives who really want to go gangbusters over issues like marriage equality and abortion.

Gronstal and Paulsen
Now today, Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen communicated that he has no real interest in rallying House Republicans over social issues again this session:
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said he has no plans to revisit volatile social issues like gay marriage and abortion when lawmakers convene Jan. 9. Republicans who control the House approved tough restrictions on abortion and a resolution calling for a statewide vote on banning gay marriage last time around, but the Senate's Democratic leader blocked debate on both measures.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has indicated he would do the same again, and given that, Paulsen said there's little incentive to revisit the issues.

"We're not afraid to address those issues, but we're also not interested in squandering Iowans' time," he said. "We have a job to do and we're going to do it."

Gronstal said he also expected to focus on economic issues and avoid drawn-out arguments of social issues. "Iowans would prefer that we all work on things that would get 100,000 Iowans back to work," he said. "Kraig and I have talked and he seems to be in agreement that this session is going to be much shorter than last session..."

With the session scheduled to end April 17, both leaders said they also want to avoid the kind of gridlock that kept lawmakers in session this year until the end of June. But they conceded that's always a challenge when each party controls one chamber.
I will be extremely glad if these two stick to their guns.  Obviously, another year where Iowans get to see gay and lesbian Iowans raise our families and witness the lack of problems caused by our families is a good thing.

But, speaking as someone who works for the public using state funding, it was awful this year when the Iowa Legislature couldn't come up with a budget by July (i.e., the end of the fiscal year).  Government services were delayed and wait lists for certain services (including non-emergency services for disabled Iowans) because of budgetary inaction.  I mean, they had time to debate the worthiness of my marriage and to pass a dove-hunting bill into law, but they couldn't figure out how to do their primary job: approve the state budget.

The question remains whether or not we will truly go a session without debating the worthiness of my marriage and others like it.  My guess is that there will be pressure from social conservatives to debate the issue.  But hopefully, there will be greater pressure from responsible fiscal conservatives and marriage advocates to avoid the debate and keep our state government running smoothly and efficiently all year long.

Nero at Daycare -- 11/29/11

Nero returned for his first post-Thanksgiving Day doggie daycare visit and he really needed it.  Too much idle time for our 50 pound standard poodle.  Fortunately, he paused briefly enough from his play to pose for this pic.  Check it out:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Dallas A-Lister Was Physically Assaulted

Levi Crocker Head Wound (source)
Over the past month and a half, A-List: Dallas personality Taylor Garrett has been the apparent victim of two separate acts of vandalism.  He was reportedly physically assaulted after interrupting the second incident.  He blamed both incidents one anti-conservative gays.  I'm not disputing that his friendship with Ann Coulter played a part, but I'm guessing that Coulter has many other gay men who hang with her who've never been criminally attacked because of that association.  More likely, he's been a target because of his involvement with The A-List: Dallas reality show and his politics are just a way of focusing that attack.

I bring this situation up again because another A-List: Dallas personality, Levi Crocker, was physically assaulted an an Oklahoma City gay bar this past weekend.  According to a series of tweets, Crocker wrote:
I got jumped in the middle of a bar in OKC, 4 guys, one busted a barstool onu head...I'm fine, I finished the fight. I'll never forget that feeling tho. They weren't straight guys bullying me,they were gays...It's sad when str8 people are mean to someone gay. But for someone (or 4 ppl) from the gay community to attack me because of a show is??????
I actually haven't watched any episodes of The A-List: Dallas, though I've seen both seasons of the New York version of the program and I've read most of the show recaps.  The show, like many other reality television shows, seems to bring out the worst in people (either intentionally or through nasty editing).  Remember when Big Brother contestant Shelly Moore betrayed her alliance this summer?  Her family began receiving death threats?  Too many viewers get caught up in the drama of these shows and take it out on these people (and sometimes those close to them).  Most of us understand that this is manufactured drama and love to complain about this drunken fight or that double-cross.  Unfortunately, there's always someone who takes it all too seriously and ends up cussing out a reality TV game show contestant or harassing a reality TV show personality.

Anyway, I haven't heard whether or not Crocker filed a report with the police or not.  Hopefully he did and hopefully someone knows the four people who assaulted him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Glee's Lauren Potter Appointed to Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities//My Favorite Five Disabled Super Heroes

Earlier this month, I learned that one of my favorite Glee actresses, Lauren Potter, was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to the Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.  Potter's character Becky Jackson managed to do something exciting and unexpected on that show: bring out one shining spark of humanity in the otherwise self-centered and sociopathic Sue Sylvester.  Becky (and, of course, Potter herself) has Down Syndrome.  As far as I can tell, she is one of the only actors with Down Syndrome who currently has a recurring television role.  (There was Chris Burke AKA Corky Thatcher from Life Goes On, but that show hasn't been on for nearly 20 years, and more recently a now deceased character named Addie Langdon--played by Jamie Brewer--on FX's American Horror Story.):
Obama stated that “I am grateful that these talented and dedicated individuals have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

While many Americans are focuses on the issue of bullying when it comes to the LGBT Community, Potter has been working with her mother and to help end the bullying and taunting of children with special needs. Potter has opened up about being bullied and feeling alienated by her peers because she has Down Syndrome.

She said in a statement “Our challenges are the same as many others. We want to be safe in school — free from bullying and teasing, we hope to be welcomed at parks, recreation centers and other community activities, we worry about jobs and where we will live but mostly we want to be treated how you want to be treated — with respect.”
I wish Potter well with this new position.

Over the years, I've read many comic books with main and supporting characters who possess a variety of physical, mental, and intellectual disabilities.  For whatever reason, those disabilities tend to fall in the first two categories.  I've always wanted to create a super hero with Down Syndrome and someday I might.  Otherwise, I'm not aware of too many heroes who have intellectual disabilities, though there are a few.  I thought it would be fun to go through some of my favorite fictional comic book heroes who also have disabilities and list out five of my faves.  Here goes:

5. Wiz Kid: Takashi Matsuya is a physically disabled mutant character who teamed up with a bunch of Marvel Comics' New Mutants characters to save New York City from a bunch of baby-sacrificing demons.  Taki lacks the ability to use his legs and uses a wheelchair to get around.  His mutant powers manifested in his early teens and gave him the ability to manipulate metal, plastic, glass, and technology.  For example, he could transform his electric wheelchair into a one-man helicopter.  It was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, Taki kind of disappeared in the late 80s.  Fortunately, he recently showed up in Marvel's Avengers Academy comic book as a potential super hero trainee.  Given his very recent appearances, I'm hopeful that Wiz Kid will continue making comic appearances in the future.

4. Box: Roger Bochs is a now deceased member of Marvel Comics' Canadian super team, Alpha Flight.  This brilliant inventor lost both of his legs but eventually created a robotic alter-ego named Box, who successfully served Canada for many years.  Unfortunately, a new writer took over the book.  I say unfortunately because he really liked to make the Alphans suffer.  Bochs began experiencing a bunch of physical and mental stressors that eventually broke his mind.  Bochs went insane and almost destroyed his former friends.  He was eventually killed off in issue #49 of that comic book's first series.  Surprisingly, there have been no attempts to resurrect or redeem this once-great hero.

3. Shape: Shape is a member of the other dimensional team of super heroes, the Squadron Supreme.  As far as I'm aware, he's one of the few intellectually disabled heroes around (as opposed to heroes who've experienced temporary reductions to the mental capacities).  Shape originally started out as a villain, but underwent some behavioral modifications that helped him transition into a heroic character.  He quickly bonded with magical hero Arcanna Jones and her family and often looked out for her young children.  Shape has rubbery skin and bones.  You don't see much of him these days (outside of a bastardized zombie version that appeared last year), but he's still one of my favorites.

2. Silhouette: Silhouette Chord is one of my all-time favorite super heroes.  She became paralyzed from the legs down following a gunshot wound.  Now partially paralyzed, Silhouette uses crutches and leg braces to get around.  Like any good hero, she's managed to have hidden tazers and retractable knives embedded in her crutches.  She also possesses the ability to melt into shadows and teleport over short distances.  She's a formidable fighter by any stretch of the imagination.  She hasn't been seen much in recent years, but has a long history with Marvel's New Warriors team.  It wouldn't surprise me if Silhouette poked her head out of the darkness if/when that team eventually resurfaces.

1. Aurora: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier is one of the founding members of Marvel Comics' Alpha Flight.  She's fast and she flies and she glows blindingly when in physical contact with her brother Northstar.  But she's also mentally ill.  She experienced years of physical abuse in her early childhood, which led to the creation of a second personality.  Her mind is torn between her repressive Jeanne-Marie personality and her outgoing adventurous Aurora personality.  Aurora has made strides over the years with consolidating the two personalities, but it rarely lasts long.  Despite her difficulties, Aurora remains one of Alpha Flight's most engaging and exciting members.

Who are your favorite disabled super heroes?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

By the Numbers

9-9-9 -- In a case of commercial competitiveness run amok, a local man picked up a pizza from Domino's Pizza earlier this week.  On the way home, his car was struck by a Pizza Hut delivery driver named Bryan Cronbaugh.  Cronbaugh apparently left the scene of the accident, but was followed by the other driver until he pulled over.  The police were called and Cronbaugh was eventually arrested and charged with second offense drunken driving after taking a field sobriety test.  Outside of the ironic nature of the dueling pizza companies, Cronbaugh just looks adorable in his arrest photo.  You know he wasn't feeling any pain right then, though I'm not sure how his head was feeling the next morning.

20-7 -- Nebraska beat Iowa yesterday.  Half of my family is really excited.  The other half?  Not so much.

39 -- Number of gay and lesbian couples who have applied for civil unions in Rhode Island since that law went into effect four months ago.  On the other hand, roughly 600 gay and lesbian couples have traveled to other nearby states like Massachusetts in order to become legally married.  Think Progress writes that the state has lost more than $8,000,000 from its state economy from these exported marriages.  The ACLU writes that most gay and lesbian couples are shunning the civil union law because of the "extremely broad 'religious' exemption that significantly undercuts the law's purpose."  Rhode Island's civil union law contained extensive religious exemptions that allow any religiously affiliated organization or institution, such as school, universities, and hospitals, to deny benefits or services to civilly unionized families.

111+ -- Earlier this fall, the United Church of Christ challenged its churches to raise tons of money and food items between 11/1/11 and 11/11/11.  My own Faith United Church of Christ pledged to raise 111 non-perishable food items, 111 rolls of toilet paper (requested by our local Crisis Center), $111.11 in funds to address hunger relief, and 11 letters to be sent to members of Congress.  By 11/11/11, Faith UCC surpassed its goals.  The little congregation that could managed to collect 113 food items, 123 rolls of toilet paper, $243.33 for hunger relief, and 23 letters to Congress!

Friday, November 25, 2011

News from Canada's Courts: Polygamy Ban is Constitutional

You know that old "slippery slope" argument that once gay and lesbian couples gain the ability to legally marry that there will be no way that anyone can argue against polygamy and other forms of plural marriage.  Heck, I just wrote about one such claim here in Iowa earlier this week.  Social conservatives have been pointing to Canadian court challenges regarding the constitutional nature of that country's 121-year-old law against polygamy.  Guess what?  Canada recognizes the legal marriage rights and responsibilities of its gay and lesbian citizens and yet polygamy was still found to be unconstitutional:
The ruling stemmed from a failed prosecution in 2009 of two leaders of a breakaway Mormon sect in (Bountiful,) British Columbia and might have implications for followers of other religions that allow polygamy. In a 335-page decision that followed 42 days of hearings, Robert J. Bauman, the court’s chief justice, found that women in polygamous relationships faced higher rates of domestic, physical and sexual abuse, died younger and were more prone to mental illnesses. Children from those marriages, he said, were more likely to be abused and neglected, less likely to perform well at school and often suffered from emotional and behavioral problems.

The law seeks to advance the institution of monogamous marriage, a fundamental value in Western society from the earliest of times,” Justice Bauman wrote. “It seeks to protect against the many harms which are reasonably apprehended to arise out of the practice of polygamy.” He also made reference to reports of plural marriages among Muslims in Canada before concluding, “There is no evidence that it is a widespread or mainstream phenomenon...”

Members of the sect have argued that polygamy should be allowed under Canada’s constitutional guarantees for religious practices.

On Wednesday, Winston Blackmore, one of the sect’s leaders in Bountiful and one of the men charged in the original case, told The Canadian Press that he had always expected that the issue would ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Yet even if Mr. Blackmore, or someone else, asks that court for an appeal there is no assurance that it will hear the case.
Of course, I'm always suspicious of social science claims raised in courts that show that most spouses and children in certain types of families face all sorts of awful nightmares.  I've seen similar arguments targeted at gay and lesbian families without much actual data to back it up.  Then again, most gay and lesbian families don't live in isolated villages with dogmatic values and leadership, so it's possible that these generalized assertions might ring true for the people of Bountiful and for others like them.  I'd like to learn more.

Don't get me wrong, it's possible that Canada's anti-polygamy law might get struck down eventually by its Supreme Court.  But given the strongly worded decision that came out of B.C.'s own highest court, it doesn't seem likely.  At least for now.  Either way, it goes to show that it's possible for a court system or an individual to acknowledge that there is merit to striking down marriage restrictions against one group (i.e., gay and lesbian families) while holding firm when it comes to marriage restrictions against another group (i.e., polygamous sects).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

All Charges Dropped Against Phoenix Jones

Hopefully, you remember you earlier stories about a real life frickin' super hero named Phoenix Jones who are recently arrested in Seattle, WA, and accused of pepper spraying a bunch of innocent club-goers.  Jones claimed that he interrupted this group from assaulting an innocent person.  Since them, Phoenix Jones has been publicly unmasked and revealed as Ben Fodor.  Since then, he has been fired from his job where he had worked with a group of autistic children.  Additionally, criminals now know where he and his family live.

That said, Phoenix Jones has been vindicated and all charges have been dropped against him.  It helped that he had a video crew following him on the night of his alleged assault and backed up his story that he was acting to protect the safety of an innocent.  Not unlike Spider-Man, the police and the Seattle city attorney all believe that Jones is an out of control menace.  Maybe he and his wife need to make a deal with the devil and fold back time to undo the moment that he was outed as Fodor.  After all, it worked for Spidey.

NOM's Maggie Gallagher Offers Thanksgiving Day Advice for Debating Gay Marriage

Earlier this week, Maggie Gallagher (normally of the National Organization for Marriage and currently speaking for the Culture War Victory Fund) released a video on "How to Handle the Same-Sex Marriage Debate at Thanksgiving".  Apparently, her supporters want to talk against marriage equality without having to listen to anyone who disagrees with them so Gallagher offered the following talking points:
1. State your position briefly.

2. Refute the charge of bigotry.

3. A call of tolerance.

4. Repeat as necessary... or until they bring in the pie.
As usual, this conversation falls back on Gallagher's assertion that "you are made to feel like a bigot" if you actually have someone disagree with you on the subject of marriage equality. 

Here are my thoughts on her various talking points (watch the vid if you want to hear those talking points expanded upon):

1. Basically, Gallagher says that marriage is supposed to be a union between a man and a woman who, if they choose, can create children.  I would remind Gallagher that a marriage license does not suddenly make men and women fertile and there are same-sex families (like my own) who are raising children and our kids deserve the legal protections of two married parents.

2. Gallagher would then fall back on the suggestion that I've just accused her of bigotry because I reminded her that gay and lesbian people are also parents.  She tries to turn this around and say that it's not bigotry for her to assert that Mark and I are not really married and that our family of nearly 14 years does not deserve the legal rights, responsibilities, and protections of marriage.  I would then remind Gallagher that I never called her a bigot.  It's almost like she's trying to assert her own opinions and then change the subject before anyone else gets a chance to defend themselves.

3. Gallagher would then tell me that I'm not being very tolerant of her moral beliefs on this subject, especially at this time when we're among family.  "And once again, stop calling me a hater and a bigot.  That's mean.  You're words are intolerant, especially when said around family members."  I would then look across the table at my husband and our two sons and remind Gallagher that all three are indeed integral parts of my family.  It's not intolerant of me to stand up for my family and I would expect that most of the people here would be just as likely to stand up for their husbands, wives, and kids.  And then I would tell her to stop accusing me of calling her a bigot.  It's really rude and kind of annoying.

4. Gallagher would then tell me to stop calling her a bigot and demand a slice of pie.  I'd shake my head and go watch the game with my brother and brothers-in-law.

Thankful for "Pokemon in Real Life"!

I feel bad for being a little busier this week.  I'm hoping to post a few items later tonight or tomorrow, but thought I would shared some really great "Pokemon in Real Life" videos by Smosh to get us through until then.  Enjoy!:

I'm really hoping for "Pokemon in Real Life 4" soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mascot Alert: Chewbacca with Glee's Mark Salling

I love these Mascot posts and this is my first non-avian post!  Here is a great Twitter pic of Glee's Mark Salling posing with Star Wars' Chewbacca: "Couple people requested this pic so please enjoy, and yes I know my hair is funny".  Check it out!:

Iowa Cake Maker Behaves Like Martyr for Refusing Lesbian Wedding Cake... Despite Booming Business

Remember Des Moines-based cake-maker Victoria Childress who refused to make a wedding cake for a pair of lesbian brides?  And remember how a group of people on Facebook who probably never would have sought her business out in the first place decided to launch a boycott of her business?  And remember how I said that was stupid because it would just give Childress an undeserved martyr-complex?  Guess what?  Childress is now the darling of religious right groups like the National Organization for Marriage and of religious rights news organizations like OneNewsNow.

Ironically, Childress is such a victim that "business is booming" ever since this case got publicized:
Homosexuals have launched a boycott of her shop, but Childress's business has only improved. Activists have threatened legal action, but so far no legal papers have been served.
My hunch?  There never will be a lawsuit.  After all, what is there to sue about?  She consulted with a pair of potential customers and turned them away.  They didn't enter into a contract with her and they didn't pay her any money.  Am I missing something here?

Meanwhile, the brides in this situation, Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers, are now being labeled by NOM blogger Ari Mendelson as activists who are "more loathsome than terrorists" who should be "spat upon by decent people".

This is the modern-day victim of Iowa's marriage equality: a small business owner who repeatedly and publicly refuses to serve gay and lesbian families and gets financially rewarded by the people of her community.  We should all be so lucky to someday suffer so heinously.

Monday, November 21, 2011

WTH? Bachmann Pours Drinks for Other GOP Candidates at Presidential Forum

I've written about it, but not really about it and I doubt I'll write much about The FAMiLY LEADER's Thanksgiving Family Forum that took place over in Des Moines over the weekend.  While the various GOP presidential candidates talked smack about my marriage and others like it, I was actually spending time with my husband and parenting our kids and tending to our household. 

Frankly, these guys have been campaigning about us for so long there's really not much new that comes out of their mouths.  Joe My God offered a pretty conclusion recap of the entire event:
God, hate gays, babies, war, nukes, praise, glory, Jesus, war, God, hate gays, religious oppression, hate gays, hate gays. Jesus!
One of the more interesting aspects to the forum had to be immediately before the forum when presidential candidate Michele Bachmann took a moment to pour drinks for all of her rival candidates:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) joined her rival GOP presidential candidates in Iowa for a forum on social issues over the weekend, taking a moment before the program began to pour water for the men on stage.

"I want to begin by thanking Representative Bachmann for taking care of the water for today's event," pollster Frank Luntz, the event's moderator, said as the congresswoman went around filling up glasses.

"I'm used to it, Frank," Bachmann responded. "I've poured a lot of water in my time."
I guess it was nice of her, but it was an odd gesture for a guest at the event.  I noticed that none of the men performed any similar acts of servitude.  I guess the whole incident just reeked of sexism.

Rick Perry Opposes Gay Marriage and Adoption Rights

Rick Perry was apparently allowed to sign off on Bob Vander Plaats' and The FAMiLY LEADER's over-reaching "Marriage Vow" nearly four months after their self-imposed August 1st deadline.  By signing off on this pledge, Perry vowed to respect the marital bonds of others (except for my marriage and others like it), vowed to acknowledge that married people enjoy better sex, vowed to defend DOMA, vowed to oppose repeal of DADT, and vowed to reject Sharia Islam.  There's other stuff there, too, but those are the biggies.  It's unclear if Perry signed the version that asserted that the children of slavery were better off than today's non-enslaved black kids.  GOP candidates had been warned that The FAMiLY LEADER would not endorse their campaigns if they didn't sign off on their "Marriage Vow".

Meanwhile, at this weekend's Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Perry not only reiterated his support for a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, but he came out against our ability to adopt children, too:
When Tom Minnery, the head of CitizenLink, the political arm of the Christian conservative group Focus on the Family, asked Perry what he would do as president to help faith-based adoption agencies “which are being run out of business because they will only place children in homes headed by mothers and fathers and they will not place those children in homes headed by same-sex couples,” Perry answered that passing the federal marriage amendment would address the issue.

But until that does pass, as in the state of Texas, a gay couple cannot adopt a child in the state of Texas, so the states have the ability again until there is a federal marriage amendment that clearly states that marriage is between one man and one woman and in that as well you cannot adopt a child unless it is one man and one woman,” Perry answered.
Now keep in mind that gay couples actually do have the ability to adopt in Texas through second parent adoption processes, depending on the judge, of course.  That's what I keep getting told by other adoptive gay dads and lesbian moms from down south, which makes me wonder how aware Perry is of what's going on in his own state.

"Pregnant Man" Kicks Ass in Tae Kwon Do

I was reading TMZ this morning and noticed one of those "why is this news?" articles.  It was about Thomas Beatie the so-called "Pregnant Man" and his involvement with tae kwon do.  Apparently, Beatie is a black belt and he's really good at sparring.  Check this out:

According to Beatie:
My actions speak louder than the words of people who claim that I'm just a chick. I don't know how many chicks fight dudes and WIN!
Then again, I've been watching guys and girls compete and spar in tae kwon do for a couple years now. In fact, one of the women in my church has her black belt and owns her own TKD studio. It's hard for me to see anyone, regardless of gender, -- especially those who work their way up into the black belt level -- as anything other than bad ass.

Anyway, I saw this TMZ article and it caught my attention for over-lapping reasons.  One, I really like TKD.  Two, I've long been fascinated by Thomas Beatie's unique journey into fatherhood.  Lastly, yesterday was Transgender Day of Remembrance.  TDoR is meant to memorialize those who've been killed as a result of transphobia.  Sadly, too many transgender people become victims of others' hate.  Watching Beatie kick ass hopefully will show that it doesn't have to be that way.  Hi-Ya!

Gay Marriage --> Women Marrying the Eiffel Tower?

Did marriage equality lead to one woman's marriage to the Eiffel Tower?  That's what Michele Bachmann's Iowa Co-Chair, Tamara Scott, told thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats last summer.  She wants BVP -- and you -- to know that Iowa needs to abolish my marriage because some women held non-legally binding wedding ceremonies with various objects, including the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge.  That's right.  If my marriage is allowed to continue, "objectum sexuals" will somehow obtain the legal rights, responsibilities, and protections of marriage with buildings and other forms of property.  Check it out:

Scott is also concerned about polygamy and other forms of plural marriage -- which is definitely something to debate --, but sadly I think she's actually serious about being concerned that random individuals are actually going to fall in love with various Iowa landmarks and get engaged.  Maybe she's seriously concerned that someone will marry the Newton Correctional Facility, for example, and force out all of the prisoners.  I have no clue.

Of course, people cannot marry objects.  Objects have no sentience.  Objects have no ability to consent to anything, much less a marriage license.

Just because someone with an odd fetish says she's married to the Eiffel Tower does not mean that she's actually married to the Eiffel Tower.  Scott knows this.  BVP knows this.  And Michele Bachmann knows this.  And if she doesn't know this, then the public needs to know that one of the GOP's current top five presidential contenders either believes that people can marry objects or has people on-staff who actually believe this.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Newt Gingrich Disses Child Labor Laws // Advocates Firing School Janitors & Hiring Poor Students

Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich spoke out against child labor laws at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.  He argued that they entrap children into poverty.  In the process, he advocated for the mass firing of all school janitors and mass hiring of "poor kids" as student janitors:
"This is something that no liberal wants to deal with," Gingrich said. "Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.

"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model," he said. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."

He added, "You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation. They all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age. They all were either selling newspapers, going door to door, they were doing something, they were washing cars."

"They all learned how to make money at a very early age," he said. "What do we say to poor kids in poor neighborhoods? Don't do it. Remember all that stuff about don't get a hamburger flipping job? The worst possible advice you could give to poor children. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day even if you are in a fight with your girlfriend. The whole process of making work worthwhile is central."
I have three major problems with Gingrich's assertions:

1. What is preventing these "poor kids" from seeking out paper routes or from washing cars or other forms of employment.  Child labor laws do indeed place employment restrictions on minors that gradually lessen as they age. In most employment sectors (besides farming), children cannot be employed before the age of 12 and cannot work more than 3 hours daily on school days.  Here in Iowa City, many of the local grocery stores frequently hire younger students to bag groceries and to stock shelves.

2. How does firing school janitors and hiring student janitors enhance teaching at underperforming schools?

3. Why isn't Gingrich concerned about the adults who would be laid off by his proposed scheme?  My guess is that Gingrich isn't concerned much about teaching 10-year-old poor students how to become hard workers.  My hunch is that he wants to eliminate working wages for people in public sector jobs and replace those wages with bottom-barrel hourly wages for student trainees.  What about the adult janitors who have lost their jobs and can no longer financially support their families?

I think it is important to remember that nationwide child labor laws finally went into effect during the Great Depression because adults and children were competing for employment as rock-bottom wages.  Additionally, child labor laws also have a secondary effect: they keep kids in school and out of the labor market.  Limiting work hours for children protects jobs and wages for working families.  And limiting work hours of children also allows them the ability to actually study and excel in their classes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Poll #3: Who Should Join X-Force Next?

Earlier this week, I was reading up on one of my favorite comic books these days, Uncanny X-Force.  X-Force is the team of mutants that doesn't really exist.  It's essentially a team of assassins that sneaks in the shadows and takes out the big nasties.  Currently, the team consists of Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex (as well as Deathlok, who is to X-Force what the letter "Y" is to the vowels in the alphabet).  Right now, former team member Archangel has become the reincarnated Apocalypse, which makes him one of the newest big nasties.  He's so nasty that he's cast his evil net across the dimensions into the "Age of Apocalypse".  I'm not exactly sure how this current storyline will end, but it's pretty certain that Archangel will remain cut from the team and Nightcrawler from the AOA will remain in this dimension with Wolverine's merry band of mercenaries (revealed earlier by Marvel Comics in some of their promo art).

But one thing I do know from this article is X-Force will be gaining one additional member very soon in addition to Nightcrawler.  I've been thinking about this a lot today and I have some ideas about who that new member could be and I'm betting that you're curious, too.  With that in mind, I'm relaunching my comic book polls because I want you to check out my suggestions and vote on who you think should be the newest member of the Uncanny X-Force?  Here are your choices:

Choice #1: Jean Grey (from the Age of Apocalypse): Like her deceased Marvel Universe counterpart, this Jean Grey is an extremely powerful telepath and telekinetic mutant.  Plus, (though I don't remember it from before) this Jean Grey appears to find herself joined by the Phoenix, which is a very powerful cosmic entity that likes to bond with red-headed females and suck the heat out of suns.  Plus in Jean Grey's favor: X-Force is not a place for the meek.  When people wash out of X-Force, it's not pretty.  However, AOA's Jean Grey grew up in a dimension where the evil Apocalypse emerged about 10 years too early.  What followed wasn't pretty.  Humans were slaughtered, taken to concentration camps, and/or were experimented on viciously by the hordes of powerful mutants who inhabited that dimension.  Jean Grey might be an X-Man, but even the X-Men in the AOA dimension don't live long without acquiring a fatal survival instinct.  The Uncanny X-Force needs powerful assassins and Jean Grey is one of the most powerful.  On the other hand: Wolverine and Cyclops both carry enough lust, love, and guilt over this universe's Jean Grey.  Do we really want to unleash a new version of Jean Grey on the world?

Choice #2: Iceman (Age of Apocalypse): AOA's Iceman is a bit more severe than the Marvel Universe's Iceman.  This guy's been cracked and shattered and melted so often that he's whacked, mentally.  When X-Force met up with the AOA's Amazing X-Men a few months back, it was learned that Iceman is one of the surviving good guys.  Except he ain't.  More recently, he was brought back to the Marvel Universe by Archangel and his forces.  In exchange for slaughtering X-Force, he gets to live in paradise -- which considering he grew up in the cesspool that is the AOA, pretty much anything is a paradise.  This Iceman is pretty powerful.  He can absorb bodies of water into himself in order to become a giant.  He can throw blocks or shards of ice.  He can create little Iceman avatars to do his fight his enemies.  In other words, he's pretty kick ass.  Imagine that Iceman asks for forgiveness and asks to join X-Force in exchange for remaining in the Marvel Universe?  X-Force would receive a pretty mighty power boost!  Plus in Iceman's favor: He's pretty much unstoppable and he has no objections to wiping out the bad guys.  Plus, it would be fun to see Wolvie interact with the sane accountant Iceman over in the X-Men versus the cutthroat killer Iceman over in X-Force!

Choice #3: Magneto: Once upon a time, Magneto was one of the biggest mutant menaces on Earth.  Now he's a member of the Uncanny X-Men and hold a seat at Cyclops' side.  When this whole Schism thing happened and all the mutants sided with either Cyclops (anti-genocide) or Wolverine (pro-school), Magneto remained with Cyclops.  But recently, he learned that X-Force still existed even after Cyclops disbanded it.  As far as I'm aware, he hasn't said anything about this team of assassins to Cyclops.  I can envision a situation where Magneto finds merit in a black ops team of mutants who take care of the menaces that the world can't know exist.  Plus in Magneto's favor: Why not Magneto?  He's powerful and not above taking out enemies with killer force.  On the other hand: Magneto's not really covert.  He's one of the planet's most well known terrorists.  It would be hard to keep X-Force undercover with Mags on the roster.

Choice #4: Daken (AKA Dark Wolverine): Daken is the dark son of Wolverine that he didn't know he had until it was too late.  An assassin in his own right, he really hates his dad.  As far as I'm aware, he has never spend a moment interacting with X-Force, but he's gone out of his way to be a thorn in Wolvie's side ever since he was introduced to the comic book audience.  What if he shouldered his way onto the team somehow?  It would be fun to see him create tension within the team and to really stick it to his dad.  Plus in Daken's favor: Daken's comic book just got canceled, so he's got lot of time on his hands.  I mean, do you really want this mutant mercenary sitting idle?  I'd really like to see him get sucked more into the X-Men teams instead of dancing on the borders.  Plus, Daken's one of Marvel's few bisexual characters and I'm all about increased numbers of active GLBT comic book characters.

Those are the choices, true believers.  Voting begins today.  Poll #3 will end on December 15th.  In the case of a tie, D'Angelo will cast the deciding vote.

Iowa City Police Officer Assaulted // Have You Seen This Suspect?

Early yesterday morning, a 29 year veteran of the Iowa City police force was assaulted near Burlington and Linn Streets.  The suspect was disrupting traffic in the middle of the road.  The officer reportedly attempted to stop the guy to find out what he was up to.  When the suspect refused to stop, the officer grabbed the man from behind and they both tumbled to the ground.  The police officer reports that the man began choking the officer from behind before running away.  The police officer came out of the incident with a head laceration, scrapes on his hands and legs, and bruising around his neck and throat.

The suspect is described as a white man with short brown hair in his early 20s, about 6'1"-6'2", and has a thin build.  At the time, he was wearing blue jeans and white shoes.  He had been wearing a dark gray t-shirt, but that got ripped off him during the altercation. 

Check out this link if you want to watch a (brief) video of the suspect.  Otherwise, check out the accompanying picture.  Contact CrimeStoppers at 319-358-8477 if you know anything about this crime.  There is a $1,000 cash reward for information leading to the assailant's arrest.  All calls are confidential.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Nero" by D'Angelo

Ever wondered how Nero came into our family?  D'Angelo wrote the following story for his class and wanted to share it here:

November 2, 2009 my family and I were going to look at standard poodles because we put down our old miniature poodle Moogie and we wanted a standard poodle because it doesn’t shed and we’ve never had a bigger dog than a miniature poodle. It took us about 30 minutes to get to Michelle’s big white and tan house. (Michelle was our dog groomer she was also a dog breeder.)

Once we got in we saw Michelle sitting on her brown couch. She heard us and got off her couch and started to talk to my dad Jon. As they started to talk about prices my brother Leslie and I went in the garage. Once we got passed the giant red truck we saw about 10 standard poodle puppies!

“Jon Jon I want this white one” I said running in the house carrying her.
“No, we want a black or silver one that’s calm let us look” said Mark my other dad said so they went into the garage and found the perfect dog that fit their description.

Once Michelle came with the poodle we tried to name him. I came up with Yogi, my brother Leslie came up with Slash, and my dad’s Mark and Jon didn’t come up with anything yet.

About a week later my dad came up with Nero because there was a circus lion named Nero and our other dog is named Miss Lion and we kind of wanted a name that is lion related.

Now Nero is two years old and very curious. Nero is unique because sometimes he wouldn’t eat his food because he was curious about what Miss Lion was eating.

Every Tuesday Nero goes to a dog day care named Lucky Paws to burn off energy and gets posted on the blog sometimes.

Santorum Comes to Iowa City; Hopes to Turn Clock Back on Gay Marriage

Earlier today, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum came to Iowa City seeking potential supporters in this largely liberal community.  He went to Hamburg Inn and wandered from table to table, shaking hands and debating customers about issues like foreign policy and marriage equality.  Not surprisingly, Santorum wants to travel backwards in time and retroactively eliminate my marriage and others like it:
Christopher Patton, a Gary Johnson supporter, stopped Santorum as he approached his table and asked the candidate if he really felt he could "turn back the clock" on progress for gay marriage, considering that some polls show that a majority of Iowans under 30 years of age support it.

Santorum paused. "Yeah, I do," he replied.
Santorum and pretty much every GOP presidential candidate (outside of Mitt Romney and Fred Karger) are coming to Iowa for this weekend's Thanksgiving Family Forum over in Ames, IA.  This event, sponsored by thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and The FAMiLY LEADER, will allow the different presidential candidates that opportunity to repeat their anti-gay family credentials for the umpteenth million time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Boycott Launched Against Gay-Unfriendly Cake Maker (or Boycott the Boycott)

A couple days ago, I wrote about a lesbian couple that was turned away from buying a wedding cake from a cake-making business in Des Moines, IA, because of the owner's Christian religious beliefs.  Among other things, I wrote that the business owner should be open about not working with gay and lesbian couples, especially in this marriage equality state.  But mostly I wanted to urge the couple and other couples to appreciate that they have the ability to seek out vendors who actually want their business.

Earlier today, I learned that Fox News published a report (which mostly copies from the KCCI story).  The only new thing I learned was that there is a Facebook-based boycott of Victoria's Cake Cottage.  It looks like the boycott predates the story going viral.  This is the boycott group's mission:
Victoria's Cake Cottage web page says, "We provide residents of Des Moines, IA with decorative cakes." That is, UNLESS YOU'RE GAY. The owner REFUSES to sell wedding cakes to LGBT couples. Boycott her business and let her know homophobia is BAD BUSINESS and WILL NOT be tolerated.
Personally, I don't see the point of the boycott.  Do you really want to get a cake made by someone who feels coerced into working with you and who really doesn't support your wedding?  Wedding cheaps aren't inexpensive.  Support gay-friendly businesses and let the other businesses do their thing.

Boycotting does little but turn this business owner into either a victim or a martyr.  There are two groups of people who are seeking her cakes: 1. Heterosexual people who most like won't care about the boycott or who will purposely seek her out because of the boycott and 2. Homosexual people who she doesn't even want to serve in the first place.

Basically, I'm all for advertising that this business doesn't want to work for gay families and for promoting gay-family-friendly business alternatives.  But the boycott is something we can all do without.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

University of Iowa Police Issued Hawk Alert (or why I had a heck of a time getting to sleep last night!)

I was drifting into slumber last night at around 10:30 PM when my telephone jolted me awake.  I thought maybe Leslie's girlfriend might have forgotten about the time.  Instead, this is what I heard:
This is University of Iowa police chief Chuck Green. Please listen to this important Hawk Alert. Nov. 14, 2011, 10:25 p.m., police are looking for a man reported to have a weapon near campus. Everyone should remain in their rooms until further notice.
I assume I got on the Hawk Alert call-list due to my husband, but the call definitely got me wondering about what was going on in Iowa City. I checked the Twitter feeds on my phone and didn't immediately find out. Eventually, it occurred to me that there are always folks running around Iowa City with weapons and that I would most likely survive this event without incident.

With that thought on my mind, I forced myself back into bed and actually drifted into slumber for a few minutes when, at 11:15 PM I received the following phone call:
HAWK ALERT: Cancel the Hawk Alert. Man with weapon was located," the Tweet stated. A recorded Hawk Alert followed saying, "The threat to campus has ended.
And this call was followed by a third call with an eerie robotic voice. After the third call, I just could not relax. I tossed and turned. I read a chapter of reading material. I pondered my dogs' mortality, which shifted into an inner dialogue about my own mortality. I think I finally fell asleep at around 1:30 AM.

So what happened?  Iowa City Patch reports that someone reported to the police that there was an alleged domestic dispute near the UI dorms and the guy told the girl that he had a gun and planned to use it on himself and on her.  The IC Patch further reported that the man was eventually nabbed by the police (without weapon) and taken into custody.

According to subsequent reports, the UI dorms went on lockdown status during the Hawk Alert and everyone was chased into their dorm rooms:
"Everyone was freaking out. All of a sudden 40 phones are going off," said the student from Glenview, Ill. "I was freaked out."
I'm glad that everything worked out and nobody was hurt.  And I'm pleasantly surprised that I am the recipient of these types of alerts.  Most of my neighbors were unaware of these incidents until they got up and read the morning newspaper.  Then again, most of my neighbors actually got full nights of sleep!  Anyway, hopefully our little city will remain free from future Hawk Alerts.

Dan Savage Glitter-Bombed Again (Update Below)

I’ve written about my distaste for glitter-bombing for about as long as glitter-bombing has been around. Earlier this month, I wrote about the shift in glitter-bomb targets. Initially, GLBT activists went after conservative politicians and groups that either opposed marriage equality or that promoted ex-gay treatment. Most recently, sex columnist and gay dad Dan Savage found himself glitter-bombed by a trans activist in Eugene, OR, for being transphobic, biphobic, racist, and a rape-enabler. I don’t read Savage’s columns often, but I do listen to his podcast every week and I have not found him to be any of those things, though he does use crude language regularly which is the basis for most of these complaints. I finally learned that he’s a rape-enabler because he doubted Bristol Palin’s claim that she was raped by her baby daddy (then again, I kind of doubted those claims, too).

Anyway, a post on The Bilerico Project reported that Savage was once again glitter-bombed by trans activists at University of California Irvine for transphobic language. One of those glitter-bombers was nabbed by the police and arrested, though I don’t know if s/he was charged with anything:
According to my source at the event, Savage was in the middle of answering a question from a student who was wondering if her boyfriend was a freak because he watched porn featuring trans women. Savage suggested that her boyfriend was a freak, while freely using the terms "shemale" and "freaky tranny porn." That is when two individuals ran up and threw glitter on him yelling "Transphobe!" Someone from the MTV tech crew muttered "Oh, not again!" Savage laughed it off and said that being gay he loves glitter. Later, when another student was asking him about the incident, Savage answered, "I'm used to it."
Joe My God later provided some additional context to the story:
Savage just texted me to clarify that the words being objected to were actually used in a question he read from an audience member. In his response to the question, Savage noted that some folks "have trouble" with the terms. He laughed off the incident, adding that he finds the accusations against him and the act of glitter-bombing to be "ridiculous."
Tobi Hill-Meyer at Bilerico responded to Savage’s response:
It is disappointing that he continues offer excuses and be unwilling to listen to the concerns of the trans community. It was that unwillingness to listen that prompted activists to resort to these stunts to the community's attention. As I note in a comment below, if a white audience member used a racial slur, that would not be an excuse for him to nonchalantly use the slur after mentioning that "some people have a problem with it." It should not be an adequate excuse here, either.
Personally, I think it is good to clarify to the audience that certain words are objectionable and to actually use those words. If he had self-censored and left it at that, the audience would not have learned that those words are problematic.

Either way, what have we learned about glitter-bombing? It doesn’t do much and this latest strategy has erupted in an ongoing feud between angry trans people or disgruntled gay men. Maybe it’s good that the eruption occurred, but I still think that 1. People are barking at the wrong man and 2. Glitter-bombing is juvenile.

Update (11/14/11): Someone named UCIrvineGuy shared his perspective of this weekend's event, which he actually attended.  It's interesting to read his response following the initial Bilerico Project post and JMG's short response from Dan Savage:
I too was at the event with some straight friends of mine. Dan did say those words. But they were written in a question from the audience. Dan was reading their question, which was about a straight girl being freaked out by her boyfriend's perusal of "freaky tranny porn". He was getting ready to answer when the "activist" (i prefer "idiot") chose to stand up and act out.

The "activist" and her friends, were all, in fact, bio females, and not trans at all. I know *of* them peripherally at the school. They have a reputation for miring things down in bullshit identity, first year Feminism 101, PC politics. "Smith College Freshman" is what we would call it.

Filming was paused as campus security at the event followed the "activists" out the building, and the stage was cleaned up and everything was ready to go again. At that point Dan Savage resumed his talk. He spent the next few minutes actually discussing trans issues and coming to the defense of the trans community who is always being marginalized. Dan completely won over the audience and had the mostly straight crowd laughing and enjoying themselves after a few minutes. The crowd was young, mostly straight and eager to listen to what Dan had to say about everything that they brought up in their questions to him. No topic was too taboo, and my friends, who had maybe heard about Dan, but hadn't ever really listened to him, became instant fans.

Here's the really telling statement from the night from a straight girlfriend who came with us, "I didn't know trans people were so scary!"

So thank you and great work nut-job trans "activist" who aren't even trans. You actually managed to make people in the crowd frightened of the trans community, thereby actually making people "trans phobic".

Dan Savage was a really gracious, humorous and humble guy, and he came off much smarter and much MUCH better than the trans activists.

One more thing: You had to sign a release, and give a photo of your ID to get into the event. The release stated that you, as an audience member would do nothing to disrupt the filming. If you do the producers can hold you legally responsible. I assume glitter-bombing and running out, and causing the event to come to a halt (a waste of time and money) would be seen as disruptive. I hope these women get sued, or at least kicked out of the school. They gave UCI a really bad name and a reputation for lunacy to a very smart and funny guest.

Those are the facts.

Oh! And hardly any glitter even touched Dan. So the "activist" have bad aim in more than one way.
Latest Update (11/15/11): Dan Savage himself finally responded to the accusations of transphobia that have been lobbed at him in recent months as well as these two incidents of glitter-bombing. Basically, he confirms pretty much everything that UCIrvineGuy wrote. But he also had this to say about his own transphobia:
I did say "shemale." I read the question as-written, repeated the term in my response, and then used "transexual" in place of "shemale" ("transexual sex-worker," "transexual porn"), modeling the use of less offensive terms, before circling back to "shemale" in order to unpack why some find it offensive. I never used the phrase "freaky tranny porn." I never said the word "tranny" at UCI at all; indeed, I've made a conscious effort to stop using "tranny" after the memo went out last year declaring the word an off-limits "hate term." (Mike Signorile wrote a good post about the rapidly changing take on the word "tranny" here.)

As for "freaky boy": that boy is a bit of a freak and anyone who reads my column knows that I'm pro-freak, pro-kink, pro-porn, pro-just-about-everything. I'm a freak myself, as I've said numerous times, I married a freak, some of my best friends are freaks. "Freak," in the context of "Savage Love," is a freakin' compliment. More to the point: I didn't tell the girl who asked the question to dump her boyfriend because he enjoys trans porn; indeed, I urged her to keep dating him if she was into him and willing to go there (anal, allowing him to enjoy his porn). And this is nothing new with me: I've long taken the side of people who are trans or attracted to trans folks. Here's a column I wrote about trans issues in 1999. (Try not to get bogged down on the headline, thought policepersons, as columnists don't write their own headlines.) And the advice I was giving to trans/trans-attracted people in 1999 isn't much different from the advice I gave earlier this year...

Back to what went down at UCI: It's clear from the transcript—and it's clear from the way that my remarks are being actively and maliciously misrepresented—that the people pushing this "Dan Savage is transphobic!" meme are not honest actors. False accusations of engaging in hate speech are themselves a form hate speech—particularly in the hothouse environment of LGBT activism. Any honest reader of my column, like any honest person who attended my Q&A at UCI, knows that not only I am not transphobic, I'm pretty rabidly pro-trans.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cake Maker Refuses to Make Cake for Lesbian Brides

I read earlier today about a lesbian couple named Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers over in Des Moines, IA, who sought to purchase a wedding cake from Victoria Childress at Victoria's Cake Cottage and ultimately got turned away because the cake-maker thinks that same-sex weddings violate her Christian beliefs:
Childress said it's her right to refuse to do the cake. "I didn't do the cake because of my convictions for their lifestyle. It is my right as a business owner. It is my right, and it's not to discriminate against them. It's not so much to do with them, it's to do with me and my walk with God and what I will answer (to) him for," Childress said...

"They thanked me for being honest with them, and they were very pleasant. I did not belittle them, speak rudely to them. There were no condescending remarks made, nothing," Childress said.
Looking at Childress' website, there is no mention of religious litmus tests for customers.  I am also willing to bet that she has never turned away other wedding parties who practiced different religions (or no religion)... assuming that those wedding parties are heterosexual.    I also strongly believe that Childress is splitting hairs when she asserts her right as a business owner to discriminate against certain customers, but that she's not really discriminating against those customers.  I mean, if you're going to stand on your soap-box, then stand proudly on your soap-box.

Personally, I would be very pleased if I were the blushing brides in this story.  They learned pretty quickly that one of their potential wedding vendors didn't have their back.  They could have wasted a lot of time and money on a baker whose religious journey marches against their nuptials.  There are some really great bakers and cake companies out there who would love to support their wedding.  Now they have the opportunity to find one of those great gay-friendly cake-bakers.

The marketplace goes both way.  Business owners, in most cases, do indeed have the ability to decide whether or not they want to work with someone.  But customers also maintain the right to shop around and financially support businesses the reflect their own values and interests.  These lesbians really dodged a bullet.  They could've gotten stuck with a potentially-problematic cake-maker.  Instead, they have the opportunity to find a really spectacular cake-maker.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The 5 People You Meet as a Gay Dad

A week ago, blogger Jerry Mahoney wrote a great blog article called The 5 People You Meet as a Gay Dad.  He and his partner are surrogate dads.  In this article, he lumped together everyone that he runs into when he's out with his family into five predictable categories:  1. Your New BFF (Reaction: Unbridled enthusiasm); 2. Jaded Allies (Reaction: Feigned indifference); 3. Closet Homophobes (Reaction: Cordial avoidance); 4. The Head Scratchers (Reaction: Utter confusion); and 5. The Moral Crusaders (Reaction: Salvation mode).  Check out the article for more detailed descriptions. 

For the most part, Mahoney's categories are pretty spot-on.  Of course, there are exceptions and other types of reactions and commenters definitely wanted to let Mahoney know that.  I think people took this list a bit too seriously, but that's just me.

But my favorite commenters were those who complained about being lumped (by themselves, mind you) into the Moral Crusader category.  Many of them wanted to be Moral Crusaders without being "one of those" Moral Crusaders.  Mahoney responded in another post that he doesn't really care and would prefer that they transform themselves into Closet Homophobes.  Of course, there was one particular "Moral Crusader" responder who chose not to self-classify.  In two comments, she managed to diss Mahoney's partner and family and advocated against the continued existence of Mahoney's family (citing Biblical verses, of course).

Anyway, check it out.  It's a fun read.

Dallas A-Lister Assaulted Again

I have written before about The A-List: Dallas personality Taylor Garrett who was the victim of a reported act of vandalism last month.  Here is the nut-shell: Garrett is a gay political fund-raiser on The A-List: Dallas who made waves for hanging with anti-gay conservative speaker Ann Coulter.  After a bit of publicity over this lunch, an online campaign emerged with the goal of getting Logo to cut out the Ann Coulter material from the show.  Shortly after this, Garrett reported on Twitter that a threw a rock through his window by leftist anti-conservative gays.  Bloggers questioned why this incident was being reported on Twitter and not to the police and the Twitter posts were eventually removed by Garrett.  He eventually filed a police report 2-3 days later, but explained that his building manager had actually filed a police report shortly after the vandalism was initially discovered.  (Check out the earlier blog posts for more detailed information.)

Fast forward to Friday night, Garrett reported once again an attack by anti-conservative gay activists.  By Saturday morning, he already had an interview logged in with The Daily Caller, where he discusses the incident:
Taylor Garrett, a Republican consultant in Texas who stars in the reality series on the channel LOGO TV, said in an interview that he was attacked outside a birthday party in Dallas after finding a vandal scratching “F–k Coulter” on the side of his car... Photos provided by Garrett to TheDC show the phrase about Coulter keyed in large letters across his car. Other photos show Garrett with a bloody ear and blood covering his white shirt.

“I was at a party and one of my friends arrived and I had a present for him, so I went back to my car to get the present,” he recalled. “When I walked out to my car, I saw someone squatting next to my car.” After asking the vandal what he was doing, Garrett said the large man stood up and decked him in his left eye. Garrett fell to the ground. He also scraped up his body by falling into some glass that was next to his car, Garrett said. The attacker got away...

On Friday night after the incident with the vandal, Garrett said his friends called an ambulance, but paramedics did not take him to the hospital. Garrett said he begged the police not to put his name on the police report, because “I didn’t want to be in the press again about this,” but his friends convinced him otherwise...

(Garrett) said he’s disgusted by those in the gay community and media who doubt him and accuse him of trying to gin up publicity for himself by going public with these stories. Garrett said he decided to join the show because he wanted to show that there are gay “conservative, Republican, Christians” out there. But he said he has been “destroyed by the gay community” for his views and he’s doubtful he’ll return for another season after this.
I'm actually not someone who automatically believes that Garrett staged these incidents for publicity.  Then again, I kind of do.  It's not a "gay conservative" thing (heck, I'm married to a gay conservative); instead it's a "reality TV" thing.  I experience pangs of suspicion and doubt regardless whether these types of reports include Real Housewives, Big Brother contestants, Real World slackers, or Dugger kids.  (Jon and Kate just stamped out any genuine sense of trust in Reality TVers, sad to say...) All that aside, I hope that Taylor Garrett didn't stage this incident and that he's doing okay.

I guess the only thing I would only want to follow up with him on one of his last points in the article:
Garrett said he decided to join the show because he wanted to show that there are gay “conservative, Republican, Christians” out there. But he said he has been “destroyed by the gay community” for his views and he’s doubtful he’ll return for another season after this... The point of having lunch with Coulter, he said, is to show people that “just because you don’t support gay marriage doesn’t make you a bigot, doesn’t mean you hate gay people, it just means you disagree on gay issues.” Coulter did not immediately return a request for comment. “The left has turned on anyone that might not agree with gay marriage, they have demonized them,” he said.
I know that the people at GOProud love Ann Coulter and that they even added her to their advisory board in an honorary capacity. I'm sure that there is much to love when you get to know her. But I've read her remarks at GOProud's Homocon 2010 and I've heard her speak elsewhere about gay people and our issues. Maybe she really doesn't hate us, but she also doesn't respect us. And this goes way beyond marriage equality. Coulter wouldn't say the things about gay and lesbian people if she actually respected us. Additionally, I don't understand why someone who is opposed to pretty much any GLBT issues (outside of the acceptance that there are gay people in conservative circles) would be asked to join a conservative gay organization. But GOProud is pretty much a conservative organization that boasts gay and lesbian members, which is an important distinction to make about the group.

I don't think that Garrett and the others at GOProud get that most in the GLBT communities don't appreciate Coulter's ongoing disrespect towards us. Or they don't really care. But they really shouldn't be surprised when people react, even if that reaction is sometimes wrong and inappropriate.

Anyway, I hope Taylor Garrett's doing okay and that whomever assaulted him gets caught.