Saturday, December 31, 2011

Santorum: I Will Forcibly and Involuntarily Annul the Marriages of Gay & Lesbian Families

Rick Santorum was interviewed by MSNBC's Chuck Todd just recently and asserted his belief that all marriages between gay couples and lesbians couples -- families like my own family -- should be involuntarily annulled:  Think Progress summarized his statements, but you should check out the linked video for complete quotes:
SANTORUM: I think marriage has to be one thing for everybody. We can’t have 50 different marriage laws in this country, you have to have one marriage law…

TODD: What would you do with same-sex couples who got married? Would you make them get divorced?

SANTORUM: Well, their marriage would be invalid. I think if the constitution says “marriage is this,” then people whose marriage is not consistent with the constitution… I’d love to think there’s another way of doing it.
The religious and political right is always going on and on about the "attack on the family" and yet nobody is advocating that heterosexuals not get marriedNobody is denigrating the value or worth of het marriagesNobody is actively advocating for the mass involuntary annulment of all heterosexual marriages.  There is indeed an attack on the family, but everyone is looking at gays and lesbians as the source of the attacks when we are indeed the victims of this ongoing attack.

Marriage equality has been a legal reality for gay and lesbian couples for nearly a decade in parts of the USA and America has thrived.  We have seen the lowest divorce statistics in those states that allow for gays and lesbians to marry.  We have seen improved health for gay men in marriage equality states.  We have not seen pastors jailed or churches closed down for preaching against homosexuality or gay marriage.  Pretty much everything is plugging along without problem.

Rick Santorum and his ilk are lying to Americans when they assert that gay and lesbian families are detrimental to our culture.  Banning our families won't improve the economy or protect children or enhance family life.  All it will do is legally rip apart thousands of American families against our collective will.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gay Nativity Project Defaced in California

Earlier this month, I wrote about Kittredge Cherry's Queer Nativity project, one of which was my "Nativity Bouncer".  The concept behind this particular Gay and Lesbian Nativity project was pretty simple.  Folks were simply encouraged to create a GLBT-themed Nativity image that would reimagine the Holy Family in liberating new ways.  Some of these Queer Nativities simply mixed-and-matched existing Nativity scenes so that there were two moms or two dads.  Others were totally original artistic creations.  All were really interesting and I'd definitely encourage you to check them out.

Earlier today, I came across a story about another Queer Nativity image.  This one is in Claremont, CA.  It belongs to Claremont United Methodist Church.  It consisted of three separate lightboxes surrounding some sort of manger.  Each lightbox features a silhouette of a human couple.  One is a male couple.  One is a female couple.  And the third is a male and female couple.  On Christmas morning, somebody decided to vandalize the gay and lesbian lightboxes.  The male/female lightbox was untouched.

According to Towleroad:
(Nativity creator John) Zachary has designed the church's nativity scenes for years. One year, the nativity pictured a homeless couple, which "prompted an impromptu outpouring of giving, with congregation members leaving donations of food, clothing and money," according to The Los Angeles Times. On other occasions, the nativity pictured "a scene of war in the Middle East; a mother and baby in prison and an installation representing the U.S./Mexico border fence with 'No Room at the Inn?' spray-painted above a depiction of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus." None of these were defaced.
Last fall, conservatives discovered and belittled Kitt's original Queer Nativity image.  Now this particular Nativity scene is attacked.  Most importantly, the gay and lesbian portions of this particular Nativity scene was attacked.  The rest was left untouched.

Why is it that GLBT-inclusive art is attacked?  Why can't our religious images be honored, or at least tolerated?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pet Psychic Communicates with Standard Poodle

I have written a few times now about my interest in pet psychics and animal communication.  One of my favorite pet psychics is Laura Stinchfield.  I listen to her "The Pet Psychic" podcasts every week and occasionally check out her blog

I was on Twitter earlier today and found a link to the Fashionado blog, written by E. Vincent Martinez.  This particular blog entry, titled "Lick. Yawn. Blink.", talked about the time Martinez's poodle Simone met with Stinchfield to talk about why Simone gets so upset around people.  Check out the article, along with the video embedded below, and watch Stinchfield in action:

Jon Huntsman on the Iowa Caucus: "They Pick Corn in Iowa; They Pick Presidents in New Hampshire"

One of the great things about living in Iowa is that the presidential nomination process begins here.  It's also one of the worst things about living in Iowa.  Once a new president gets elected, a half-dozen career candidates race over to Iowa and begin campaigning for the next election.  These days, it's not uncommon to receive 3-4 calls from various politicians and/or special interest groups to invite you to this event or that.  Most of us are super-excited for the Iowa caucuses to happen next week -- not necessarily so we can participate in the process (though that's part of it).  We just want to get the caucus over and done with so the politicians rush off to New Hampshire and stop tying up our phone lines!

Anyway, one of the GOP presidential candidates that I haven't heard from much was apparently on CBS' The Early Show" earlier today or yesterday and revealed why we haven't heard too much from him here in Iowa:
Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman is defending his refusal to compete in the leadoff Iowa Republican precinct caucuses, focusing instead on New Hampshire. Huntsman tells CBS's "The Early Show" the formula, so far as he is concerned, is quite elementary. Says Huntsman: "They pick corn in Iowa. They pick presidents in New Hampshire."

The former Utah governor has made little effort to win in Iowa, focusing mostly on New Hampshire in the early going. He has remained in the lower tier of candidates as others, including Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum - and at one time, Herman Cain - soared in the polls. He was ambassador to China for President Barack Obama, but says that shouldn't be used against him as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination.
In other words, Iowa's not important enough for Jon Huntsman to waste his time.

It's true that some Iowans pick corn for a living.  That corn is used to feed not only this nation, but the nations of this world.  Corn is used to produce ethanol and it's used to produce stuff like starch and corn oil and artificial sweeteners.  It also feed the livestock that most Americans enjoys putting on their plates. 

Huntsman may discount the effect that corn production offers to our country and to our economy and that's his choice.  Huntsman may also feel confident with his choice to stay out of Iowa during these pre-caucus months.  Frankly, this Iowan is glad to have one fewer Republican candidate calling his home every night.

But it's pretty stupid for him to blatantly belittle and ignore Iowa on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.  He might not be actively campaigning here, but I'm sure that he has supporters here in Iowa.  And he has the opportunity to gain more... Unless he's busy insulting the state and our caucuses.  One can emphasize his decision to focus on New Hampshire without dissing Iowa.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Randall Terry Glitter-Bombed

I've been pretty consistent about my dislike of glitter-bombing pretty much since I first heard of it.  Today is my day to be inconsistent.

Last week, a group of "lesser known" presidential candidates participated in the Lesser Known Candidate Debate over in Manchester, NH.  True to form, I'd never heard of any of them except fake Democratic candidate/anti-abortion activist, Randall Terry.  One of the more interesting candidates at this event was someone named Vermin Supreme, who is also running as a candidate for the 2012 Democratic nomination.  Check out Vermin Supreme's chief political selling points from his Wikipedia page:
Supreme is known for wearing a boot shaped hat and carrying a large toothbrush. He claims that if elected President of the United States he will pass a law requiring people to brush their teeth. He also campaigned in 2012 on a platform of Zombie apocalypse awareness, and promises a pony for every American.
These various lesser known candidates were participating in a lesser known debate on December 19, 2011, when Vermin Supreme apparently felt compelled by a spiritual higher power to sprinkle glitter all over Randall Terry in a misguided effort to turn him gay:

Anyway, this incident made me chuckle when all previous glitter-bomb events made me fume.  After all, it's hard to get terribly outraged when one of the presidential candidates wears a boot on his head.  You kind of expect political theater, y'know?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vander Plaats Under Fire for "Pay for Play" Endorsement Accusations

Remember how Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley both of The FAMiLY LEADER (not to mention Hurley's leadership position within the Iowa Family Policy Center) officially endorsed Rick Santorum for the GOP presidential nomination nearly one week ago?  It's already blown up in their collective face.

BVP has been accused of orchestrating a "pay for play" endorsement scheme, allegedly selling his coveted endorsement for as much as one million dollars:
...(S)ources familiar with talks between the conservative heavyweight and representatives from several of the Republican presidential campaigns went a step further, describing Vander Plaats’ tactics as corrupt. “Clearly the endorsement was for sale — without a doubt,” one source said.

It’s a charge that The Family Leader flatly denied. “The allegation by an unnamed source that Bob Vander Plaats asked any campaigns for money in exchange for his endorsement is absolutely false,” according to a statement issued by the organization on Thursday. The Family Leader said Vander Plaats was unavailable for an interview Thursday...

Though Santorum did not specify the dollar amount he and Vander Plaats discussed, multiple sources said he was soliciting as much as $1 million from Santorum and other candidates.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register this week, Vander Plaats said that it was his “ethical responsibility” to essentially put some money where his mouth is. “You can’t say, ‘We endorsed you. Now see you later,’” Vander Plaats told the Iowa newspaper. “That’s not going to do a lot in the long run.” But one long-time Iowa conservative activist told ABC News, “There is no way he could buy enough ad space in Iowa for a million dollars — couldn’t buy that much advertising in a week and a half in Iowa.”

ABC News has learned that Vander Plaats tried to solicit money for his endorsement during the last presidential cycle too. A former staffer for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid who is currently unaffiliated with a campaign said Vander Plaats came to them seeking money for his backing if he supported the former Massachusetts governor. “He wanted to be paid,” the former staffer said. “He was clearly looking for a paycheck. There was a conversation about him getting a title, but being a paid consultant was much more important.”
According to sources, BVP tried getting both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry to drop out of the presidential campaign.

Progress Iowa has launched an online petition that calls on the Federal Elections Commission to investigate The FAMiLY LEADER for illegal campaign activities:
Federal Election Commission -

Following his campaign's endorsement from The Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats, Rick Santorum revealed Vander Plaats had solicited the campaign to raise money for him to run ads on the Santorum campaign's behalf. Any coordination between a campaign and outside groups is a violation of federal law. ABC News wrote Iowa conservative leaders believe there was no doubt the endorsement was for sale and that Vander Plaats solicited $1 million from Santorum and other campaigns. We call of the FEC to investigate Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader for illegal coordination of campaign money.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Jon, Mark, Leslie, and D'Angelo! (as well as Nero, Ms. Lion, Calliope, and our newest family member Floater!)  We hope that your holiday is joyful and exciting.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gay Robot Confronts Michele Bachmann

You really can't make this stuff up (sometimes).  Michele Bachmann came to Iowa City today and created a major stir at the Hamburg Inn.  Roughly 150 people showed up to greet her.  Some were supporters and some were protesters.  And one was a fricking gay robot:
Another attendee claimed to be a gay robot protesting Bachmann’s LGBT policy positions. He was booed out of the restaurant by supporters.
According to The Daily Iowan Live, that robot is Doctor RoboProfessor and he will not rest until Bachmann supports equal rights for gay humans and robots!!!  Check out video footage of poor Doctor RoboProfessor getting booed out of the Hamburg Inn:

Nearly a year ago, I posted an article featuring Protect Marriage Maryland's Robert Broadus where he testified at a marriage equality hearing and warned about the day when people will marry androids.  It seemed silly... or at the very lest far off into the distant future.  But now I've seen Doctor RoboProfessor in action and realize that human/android marriages aren't as far out and I'd imagined.  At least, not here in Iowa.

Fortunately, the police were called to remove some of the Occupy Iowa City protesters and Doctor RoboProfessor was able to leave the Hamburg Inn without getting damaged by the anti-AI horde.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingrich's Advice to GLBT Voters: Vote for Obama (Updated!)

I know it seems like I'm a big anti-Republican on this blog, but I'm really not.  Most of my family, including my husband, are Republicans.  I don't always agree with them, but I also don't disagree with them all of the time.  Heck, I voted for Republican Jim Leach several times when he represented our Congressional district.  I'm not a guy who thinks that "gay conservative" is an oxymoron and I hold a certain amount of respect for those who are willing to stand in the Republican trenches -- particularly the Log Cabin Republicans.

Anyway, a gay man from Oskaloosa, IA, approached Newt Gingrich earlier this week and wanted to know more about his plans to engage GLBT voters:
Newt Gingrich told a gay man and longtime resident of Oskaloosa here today that he should vote for President Obama.

I asked him if he’s elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans. How are we to support him? And he told me to support Obama,” said Scott Arnold, an associate professor of writing at William Penn University. Arnold, a Democrat, said he came to the event at Smokey Row coffee house with an open mind. But he wanted to ask Gingrich about how he would represent him as president after reading past comments the former U.S. House Speaker as made about gay and lesbians.

When you ask somebody a question and you expect them to support all Americans and have everyone’s general interest,” Arnold said. “It’s a little bit frustrating and disheartening when you’re told to support the other side. That he doesn’t’ need your support... It doesn’t inspire hope at all,” Arnold said of Gingrich’s statements. “And if that’s what he’s trying to do and that’s what he’s trying to say, that this is a collective effort if he’s elected president, yet he tells me to support the other side?
I already planned on voting for President Obama during the coming election, but it's good to hear that Gingrich supports my choice of candidates.  Frankly, I would have thought that he wanted people to vote for him.  But who am I to argue with the guy?

Update (12/21/11): Since I originally posted this article earlier this morning, a transcript has been released that further fleshed out Gingrich's voting recommendations for GLBT Americans:
Gingrich: I think those for whom the only issue that really matters is the definition of marriage, I won’t get their support. I accept that as reality. On the other hand, for those to whom it’s not the central issue in their life, if they care about job creation, if they care about national security, if they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I’ll get their support.

Q: So what if it is the biggest issue?

Gingrich: Then I won’t get their support.

Q: How do we engage if you’re elected. Then what, what does that mean?

Gingrich: Well then you engage in every topic except that.

Q: Except it’s most important (some crosstalk).

Gingrich: Well, if that’s most important to you then you should be for Obama.

Q: I am, thank you (The two men shake hands).

Gingrich: It’s perfectly legitimate. I think it’s perfectly legitimate.
Since then, representatives from both the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud have come out in support of Gingrich and accused media sources of misrepresenting his position.  Meanwhile, the National Stonewall Democrats have accused the two latter groups of pandering to Gingrich and their soft-peddling of his anti-gay family positions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poll #3 Results: Who Should Join X-Force Next? You Voted for Daken (AKA Dark Wolverine)!

Last month, I started a poll asking you to guess the identity of the newest member of the Uncanny X-Force team.  The team currently consists of Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, Fantomex, and Deathlok Prime.  A few months ago, we learned that Nightcrawler from the "Age of Apocalypse" universe will be joining the team with issue #19.  However, I also learned that X-Force will be gaining one super-secret additional member and I wanted to know what you all thought. 

I offered four different options to vote for: Jean Grey (from the Age of Apocalypse), Iceman (from the Age of Apocalypse), Magneto, and Daken (AKA Dark Wolverine).  Here are how the votes emerged:

Daken: 5 votes (45%)
Jean Grey: 3 votes (27%)
Iceman: 3 votes (27%)
Magneto: 0 votes (0%)

As you can see, Wolverine's son Daken won the contest!

Unfortunately, X-Force #18 just came out and it looks like none of the options that I originally presented will join the team.  Jean Grey went back to her home dimension, Iceman is hanging out with a bunch of baddies, Magneto's still chilling with the X-Men, and Daken really just a pipe dream of mine.

If I were to hazard a guess now, I'd guess that X-Force's newest member will be either Genesis (AKA Kid Apocalypse) or Angel.  But it's too late to add either character to the poll.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  I look forward to hosting another poll soon!

Vander Plaats & The FAMiLY LEADER Endorse Rick Santorum

I've written before about thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and The FAMiLY LEADER and their "Marriage Vow".  The FAMiLY LEADER required that all presidential candidates seeking their endorsement sign off on the "Marriage Vow", which demands that they support married couples and families and do everything in their power to protect America's families -- unless they happen to be gay families.  Then BVP wants the presidential candidates to do everything in their power to destroy those families.  The Marriage Vow also, among other things, demanded personal fidelity to the presidential first lady (or -- in the case of Marcus Bachmann -- the first dude).  This last part was creating conflict between Iowa's social conservatives because BVP was really courting serial adulterer Newt Gingrich.

The question of the moment was whether The FAMiLY LEADER would violate their own ideals by endorsing Newt or if they would take another route.  Looks like they took another route.

Earlier today, BVP and Chuck Hurley (The FAMiLY LEADER board member as well as Iowa Family Policy Center president) both publicly endorsed Rick Santorum for the GOP nomination:
He has been a stalwart and a soldier for the sanctity of human life and God’s design for the family, one man-one woman marriage…. So today, I as an individual am going to endorse Rick Santorum. I’m going to mobilize whatever resources I have at my disposal to advocate for him. I will not tear down another candidate…. I believe Rick Santorum comes from us. He comes from us, not just to us. He’s one of us…. I also recognize that we’re down to fourteen days minus Christmas.
BVP's endorsement might have the effect of catapulting 6th place Santorum into 4th place.  Possibly.

In related new, Iowa's Kingmaker apparently is doing whatever he can to get Michele Bachmann to drop out of the presidential race, at least according to Politico:
Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats called Michele Bachmann and urged her to drop out of the race and endorse Rick Santorum, a source with knowledge of the conversation told POLITICO Tuesday…Bachmann declined, the source said, noting to Vander Plaats that she has consistently polled ahead of Santorum in the race and still does.
As Marcus Bachmann might say, "Ooh, snap!"

Vilsack: Gay Marriage Great in Iowa -- Maybe Not So Much Beyond

Tom Vilsack has worn many hats.  He's been the governor of Iowa and he's currently the Secretary of Agriculture.  Last week, he was talking about Iowa and somehow the issue of marriage equality in Iowa came up.  It seems like Vilsack is a fan of marriage equality... in Iowa.  Beyond Iowa's borders seems to be another matter:
"I appointed the judges -- most of the judges -- that made that decision. I think it was a good decision," Vilsack said about the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage in his state -- and provoked a furious conservative backlash and recalls of several of the justices involved.

Still, Vilsack wouldn't comment on whether that view on same-sex marriage extended nationwide.

"I don't know what that's got to do with the Secretary of Agriculture," Vilsack told POLITICO. The USDA chief said the question of gay marriage was a distraction to the issues that farmers, ranchers and rural Americans faced. "I will be happy to answer that question someday," he said. "That day is not today."
Don't get me wrong.  I'm glad that he supports all of Iowa's families.  But why is my family a good thing here in Iowa, but not so good when viewed from the federal government?

Incidentally, Secretary Vilsack's wife, Christie Vilsack, is running against Steve King for Congress here in Iowa.  Unlike King, Christie Vilsack is a supporter of gay and lesbian families.  Feel free to visit her website here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ms. Lion at Daycare -- 12/17/11

Today's a special day in our household: Ms. Lion showed up on the Lucky Pawz website for the first time ever!  To be fair, she almost never goes.  But we traveled to Chicago this past weekend and dog boarding was needed for both of the dogs.  Keep in mind that our two dogs possess two very different personalities.  Nero is gregarious and larger than life.  Ms. Lion has a big personality, but she really doesn't like being around other people or dogs.  My guess is that she hung out in a corner and watched all of the other dogs play with each other.  Check it out:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My "Nativity Bouncer" Appears on the Jesus In Love Blog this Weekend

"Nativity Bouncer"
"Gay and Lesbian Nativity Scene"
Back in December 2009, one of the blogs that I follow, Jesus In Love, featured a "Gay and Lesbian Nativity Scene".  JIL's creator, Kittredge Cherry, found a nativity set and mixed and matched Marys and Josephs and created Nativity scenes featuring gay or lesbian parents.  Earlier this year, some conservative bloggers discovered and attacked Kitt's Gay and Lesbian Nativity blog.  More recently, Kitt solicited LGBT Nativity images that would reimagine the Holy Family in liberating new ways.

Kitt's earlier posts had already sparked my interest so I decided to come up with something for this project when she solicited ideas last month.  Unfortunately, I really struggled at translating the concept into a finished project.  I wanted to come up with a respectful project that wasn't a complete rip-off of Kitt's original scene.  After a couple mishaps, I finally came up with "Nativity Bouncer".  I forwarded the pic and a bit of information to Kitt and managed to get my project published earlier today!  Check it out:
(Jon's) image shows a gay contemporary couple holding hands as they walk toward a typical manger scene far in the distance. But their path is blocked by two “Nativity bouncers” -- tough guys with their arms crossed. Their sign warns, “Limited seating in the manger. VIPs only.

Trouten dares to use the symbolism of the manger scene for social commentary, pointing out the hypocrisy of conservative Christians who stop LGBT people from full participation in the church. There was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph 2,000 years ago, so Jesus was born in a lowly stable. Likewise there is no room in many churches today for LGBT people who want to get closer to Jesus. “Nativity Bouncer” is a metaphor of the ongoing struggles for same-sex marriage, ordination of LGBT clergy and full religious rights for queer people. The image suggests that the journey is far from over. The gay couple is moving forward, surrounded by a halo of white light. It looks like they have a good chance of breaking through the red-rope barrier to reach the manger, Jesus, and love incarnate.
My biggest concern with "Nativity Bouncer" is that it's not very liberating.  The gay couple is being blocked from Christ by the church bouncers.  Too many GLBT people AND Christians assume that this is true and it infuriates me that others would block GLBT people from Christ's salvation.  It's not true.  Unfortunately, too many Christians also assume that they are separated from Christ. 

That said, I like Kitt's expansion of my original idea.  She took the image of the bouncers barring the gay couple from Christ and anticipated the coming moment when the two men break through the barrier and witness Christ's miracles in person.

Check out the Jesus In Love blog as well as the other great Queer Native scenes that have been posted on Kitt's website this month.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marcus Bachmann will Rally Against Gay Families as "First Spouse"

Nancy Reagan used her "first lady" status to say no to drugs.  Laura Bush promoted reading.  Michelle Obama is concerned about childhood obesity.  If Michele Bachmann becomes the next President of the United States, her husband Marcus Bachmann will use his "first spouse" status to diss gay and lesbian families:
“I’ve decided my cause is not going to be happy meals,” he said during a stop at the Family Table Restaurant here, apparently a dig at Mrs. Obama.

“We are going to be the message-givers,” said Mr. Bachmann, who runs a Christian counseling service that has been accused of trying to “heal” gays by persuading them to become heterosexual. “We are going to get this message across,” he said. “Marriage is between one man and one woman. We are going to promote families.”
In other words, the Bachmanns will promote families by advocating against gay and lesbian families.  Not a surprise, but it definitely gives you an idea of how big the target will become on gays and lesbians if Michele Bachmann wins the presidency next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Do All Dog-Owners in Iowa Hunt?

Earlier this week, Professor Stephen Bloom of the University of Iowa wrote a piece for The Atlantic about having lived in Iowa for the past two decades.  He talked about the whole caucus process and made lots of generalized assertions about our state's backwards, crazy ways.  Many Iowans were upset by his characterizations. 

I wasn't nearly as offended as others by his descriptions of life in Iowa, though I really didn't recognize the Iowa City that Bloom lives in.  Which is especially weird since he apparently lives fairly close to me.  For example, I almost never hear anyone call younger boys "Bud".  We have a "mudroom" (AKA front porch), but I've been to enough homes around here to question the assertion that "almost every Iowa home" has one.  I see lots and lots of cars around here.  I've never heard of a Red Waldorf cake.  And I've lived enough other places in the Midwest to know that words like "pop", "parking ramps", "suckers", and "sacks" are hardly Iowa inventions.  There's a bunch of others stuff in his piece, but none of it upsets me as much as it seems to upset others around here.


I completely don't recognize Professor Bloom's experiences as either a dog-walker or a dog-owner in either Iowa or Iowa City.  Check this section out:
For our son's eighth birthday, we wanted to get him a dog. Every boy needs a dog, my wife and I agreed, and off we went to an Iowa breeding farm to pick out an eight-week-old puppy that, when we knelt to pet her, wouldn't stop licking us. We chose a yellow Lab because they like kids, have pleasant dispositions, and I was particularly fond of her caramel-color coat. Labs don't generally bite people, although they do like to chew on shoes, hats, and sofa legs. Hannah was Marley before Marley.

Our son, of course, got tired of Hannah after a couple of months, and to whom did the daily obligation of walking the dog fall?

That's right. To me.

And here's the point: I can't tell you how often over the years I'd be walking Hannah in our neighborhood and someone in a pickup would pull over and shout some variation of the following:

"Bet she hunts well."

"Do much hunting with the bitch?"

"Where you hunt her?"

To me, it summed up Iowa. You'd never get a dog because you might just want to walk with the dog or to throw a ball for her to fetch. No, that's not a reason to own a dog in Iowa. You get a dog to track and bag animals that you want to stuff, mount, or eat.

That's the place that may very well determine the next U.S. president.
According to Adam Sullivan of The Daily Iowan Live, Professor Bloom lives really close to my family.  I walk my dogs a lot in our neighborhood.  Additionally, our dogs regularly visit the dog parks except this time of year when it's fricking cold outside.  I'm not saying that people don't stop and ask us about our dogs, but I've never ever had anyone ask us if we hunt (with or without our dogs) or assume that we hunt.  Never.  Usually, people tell us how attractive our dogs are or they might ask where we got our dogs or they just want to use the dogs to sidestep into an unrelated discussion (anything but hunting).

It makes me wonder if Professor Bloom is being completely honest about his interactions with his fellow Iowans and Iowa Citians, especially when it comes to his dog-walking.  Did he really never meet another Iowan who owned a dog for purely non-hunting purposes?  I find that nearly impossible to believe.  I suppose it's possible that people are more likely to assume that Labs are hunting dogs compared to standard poodles.  Then again, my standard poodle is pretty kick ass.  I bet he'd love the opportunity to help track down pheasants or something similar.

Iowa City isn't the sticks and Iowa overall isn't the cultural pit-stain of America.  There are certainly truths (and uncomfortable truths) in Bloom's Atlantic piece, but ultimately I believe his article says more about Bloom himself than the state of Iowa.

Now forgive me, but I've gotta run to Wal-Mart for the weekly groceries, check out some movies at the library, and then clean out the mudroom.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is America Ready for Three Tiers of Marriage?...

... 'Cuz that's what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is proposing.  He was chatting with the Boston Herald editorial board a couple days ago and came up with the following three-tiered suggestion for a gay marriage-banning constitutional amendment:

1. Continued recognition of all heterosexual marriages -- past, present, and future;

2. Continued recognition of all existing homosexual marriages -- past and present;

3. Prohibition against all future homosexual marriage.

According to Romney:
“I think it would keep intact those marriages which had occurred under the law but maintain future plans based on marriage being between a man and a woman,” Romney said.
I guess it's nice that he's not racing to destroy existing gay families, especially since marriage equality has been legal in Romney's own Massachusetts for nearly a decade.  Heck, there are potentially married gay or lesbian couples in Vermont who have only been married a couple years, but have been civilly unionized since 2000.  Romney just doesn't want new gay or lesbian families.

Anyway, it's been widely reported that the Log Cabin Republicans don't like creating a three-tiered marriage system:
“Governor Romney is contorting himself into a pretzel trying to avoid the simplest solution to a purely political problem. The best way to strengthen all families is to grant equal access to civil marriage for all couples regardless of their orientation,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Governor Romney’s proposal to create a stratified system is a recipe for legal chaos. It is an offense to the rights of states like New Hampshire that have chosen to legalize marriage equality, and would, for the first time since the Civil War, enshrine second class citizenship in the American Constitution. On the state level, California is already struggling to deal with the fallout of multiple classes of marriage rights imposed by Proposition 8, proving that this system simply doesn’t work. Log Cabin Republicans appreciate the governor’s efforts to find middle ground, but this is not an acceptable solution.”
The LCR is right.  It's crazy to suggest that we can successfully manage multiple tiers of gay families in this country or that those who'd had the misfortune of being single and/or too young to marry and/or too new into their eventual lifelong relationship are going to remain content to live lives of legal limbo while watching other gay and lesbian couples like myself experience life as married couples.  Additionally, who in the GOP (outside, of course, those who actually respect all marriages and families) is going to actually allow even one gay or lesbian family to continue existing?

Instead of twisting and turning and trying to come up with a novel way of banning gay families while not coming off as a complete ogre, why not try something really revolutionary?  Promote all marriages.  Promote marriages between men and women.  Promote marriages between women and women.  Promote marriages between men and men.  Institute public policy that promotes and protects all marriages and families and stop saying that you want to protect marriage by destroying one segment's marriages.  That would demonstrate real leadership, which unfortunately means that it's a no-starter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Son Advanced in Tae Kwon Do Tonight

My son D'Angelo has been in tae kwon do for a couple years now.  It was his first self-initiated sport and (against my initial impression) he's managed to advance semester after semester with very few complaints.  He underwent some surgery last week, which might have interrupted his advancement.  Fortunately, we learned of the surgery right before TKD class so they let him test early and, as expected, D' earned his brown tip!

We went to class tonight for the advancement ceremony.  He wasn't able to participate in any of the exercises tonight because of his recovery process, but he was still able to get his brown tips.  We're all extremely proud of our TKD athlete!  Check it out:

Lining up the kids for the Belt Ceremony
D' posing with his Brown Tip Belt

Santorum's Stump Speech Squashed by Sound

I found this kind of humorous.  Rick Santorum attended an event last night at Campbell Steele Gallery in nearby Marion, IA, for a political event.  He eneded up giving an unexpected 50-minute speech to the assembled crowd.  Unfortunately, he managed to piss off the gallery's owner, who proceded to shut down the event with blasts of loud music:
"I was only told at nine this morning that he may be coming," said a co-owner of the gallery, Craig Campbell, adding in his remarks yesterday that he was told the event would be a Christmas party. "No one said he was going to do a 50-minute stump speech."

The Republican presidential nominee actually gave an hour-long campaign speech and question-and-answer session with the National Contract Management Association. Santorum spoke to the group of defense contract employees — mostly from Rockwell Collins — about his national defense experience with the U.S. Senate Arms Service Committee, his extensive campaigning in Iowa and why they should ignore the polls that place him sixth in the race.

After Santorum stepped off the stage and a supporter stepped up summarizing and commenting Santorum's speech, the music volume spiked dramatically. After the volume was turned down, the man made a joke about whether he was required to sing along, but just as he said that the music blared again and he promptly left the stage.

Soon after, Campbell was seen striding across the Gallery where he confronted Santorum. "You are not my guy," he said to Santorum. "That was completely innapropriate."

Campbell explained that he supports free speech and the informative side of the campaigning process, where voters can learn where candidates stand on issues. But he said he had no intention of hosting an hour long campaign speech by a politician, when he was told he was hosting a christmas party that Santorum might be attending.

Though neither owner of the gallery was made aware of his visit by the organizers before Tuesday, the plan for Santorum to make a full campaign stop had been solidified long before, according to his website.
I feel bad for the gallery owner over the misrepresented event, but I don't know if I would've had the balls to pull that music stunt.

I also like this part of the Patch article:
Santorum has been in Iowa more often than any other GOP candidate. Over the course of his Iowa campaign, he has so far made 252 personal stops, sometimes appearing at several cities in the course of a day. The only other candidate that comes close to those numbers is Michele Bachmann, with 129 visits.
What they are saying here is that Santorum is visiting anywhere and everywhere he can in this state and personally connecting with more people than anyone else and he's still in sixth place.  Even BVP and The FAMiLY LEADER aren't backing the guy.  Santorum is spinning his wheels and going nowhere.

Nero at Daycare -- 12/14/11

Looks like Nero's having a pretty wild time at doggy daycare today.  Check it out:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TLC's "All-American Muslim" has Advertisers Again

This past weekend, the Florida Family Association convinced a bunch of folks to contact advertisers on TLC's reality television program, "All-American Muslim", and convinced roughly 65 companies to pull their ads from the show.  The most prominent business was Lowe's, but there was also Bank of America, Campbell Soup, Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffer, McDonald's, Sears, and Wal-Mart.  The boycott campaign convinced the businesses that the program is little more than jihadist propaganda.   Reactions were swift and divided, though most of the reactions I saw were either ranting about terrorists or pissed at companies like Lowe's for succumbing to religious bigotry.

I don't know if TLC or anyone else with All-American Muslim were worried about revenue, but it looks like those worries are now resolved:
Media mogul Russell Simmons is leading the fight against the Florida hate group that claims* to have convinced dozens of advertisers to cancel their ads during TLC's All-American Muslim. The backlash appears to be growing because a follow-up tweet from Simmons claims that "long-term advertisers now want their spots back!"
Hopefully that last sentence is correct.  I still haven't watched the program, but it seems fairly tame and uncontroversial when compared to many other reality TV shows.  It's a shame that so many companies were so quick to yank funding based off the rantings of one group.

Who's the Bigger Christian: The Pope or Tim Tebow? TMZ Wants to Know

I was driving home from the doggy daycare last night and happened to be listening to TMZ on the radio.  They were talking about Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, an evangelical Christian football player who for his "Tebowing" prayer poses and, at least according to TMZ, for being a mediocre quarterback.  This is what they wrote about Tebow yesterday on their website:
Broncos QB Tim Tebow is winning games because of God, pure and simple ... this according to a pastor at a Colorado church with ties to the Tebow family. Pastor Wayne Hanson -- who runs Summit Church in Castle Rock, CO where Tim's dad often speaks -- tells TMZ God is actively intervening in Denver Broncos football games ... and aiding Tim on the field because of his strong faith.

Hanson tells us, "It's not luck. Luck isn't winning 6 games in a row. It's favor. God's favor." Pastor Hanson adds, "God has blessed his hard work."

We asked Hanson if Tebow would be winning games if he wasn't such a strong believer -- and the pastor replied, "No, of course not."

So far, it's the only plausible explanation for this insane Broncos winning streak.
Anyway, they got into a debate on the radio show about who is more influential right now as a Christian: the Pope or Tim Tebow.  Harvey Levin strongly asserted that Tebow is in fact the more influential of the two.  After all, the Pope might have the power and the backing of the actual Roman Catholic Church, but the Church is emptier and emptier every year.  In other words, he's not drawing in the younger Christians who will eventually replace the older ones and bring in their own children.  Levin then argued that Tebow appeals to younger males and stands a greater chance of actually drawing younger people into the church to learn more about what he represents.

Personally, I don't think that Tebow is "more influential" than the Pope.  Maybe someday, but certainly not now.  As it currently stands, Tebow is known for being a Christian and for openly praying when good things happen and I guess it's good that people see that.  Beyond that though, there's really little substance to the message that he's a Christian or that he can get on his knees and pray.  What do football fans learn about the Christian faith when they see a quarterback Tebowing on the field?  Maybe Tebowing will attract someone to the church, but it's certainly not going to educate them about the church or the faith.

What do you think?  Are you on Team Benedict or Team Tebow?  Check out TMZ's website and cast your vote.  But don't forget to leave a comment here and let me know what your thinking first!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingrich Finally Signs off on The FAMiLY LEADER's "Marriage Vow" (Updated Below!)

Republican presidential candidate and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich finally signed off on The FAMiLY LEADER's "Marriage Vow", over four months past its deadline date.  Newt wants you to know that he will do everything he can if he becomes the President of the United States to destroy my family and to not cheat on his third wife like he did during his first two wives:
As President, I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted under my leadership as Speaker of the House, and ensure compliance with its provisions, especially in the military. I will also aggressively defend the constitutionality of DOMA in federal and state courts. I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman. I will support all efforts to reform promptly any uneconomic or anti-marriage aspects of welfare and tax policy. I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell noted last week that Gingrich is "too old to cheat".  I'm not too sure about that supposed truth, but Gingrich really wants us to believe that he will never cheat on his current wife and more power to him.  I think it would be terrible of him to disrespect his own marriage by committing yet another act of adultery. 

If only he and his fellow GOP candidates would show a little respect to my marriage and others like it.  He won't be less likely to cheat if I remain married to Mark.  On the same day that Gingrich is pledging to do everything in his power as POTUS to harm my family and others like it, GOP candidate Mitt Romney proudly told a gay veteran and his husband that he supports the repeal of their marriage.  As it stands now, the GOP candidates are offering me absolutely no reason to support any of them with my votes or my campaign contributions.

Update: Contrary to other reports, One Iowa reports that Gingrich doesn't appear to have actually signed off on The FAMiLY LEADER's "Marriage Vow", but instead provided them with some sort of response to it.  This is what One Iowa had to say earlier today:
Newt Gingrich has provided a response but did not sign a controversial marriage pledge that calls for opposition to same-sex marriage rights.

Gingrich, who has a half sister who is a lesbian, has previously said in Iowa that same-sex marriage “is a temporary aberration that will dissipate.” In his letter to The Family Leader, he advocated a federal constitutional amendment that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Family Leader is a high-profiled organization in Iowa that advocates for evangelical Christians that is headed by former Iowa candidate for governor Bob Vander Plaats. The group’s 14-point marriage pledge calls for opposition to anything but one-man/one-woman marriage.

...Vander Plaats this summer said only candidates that sign the pledge would be considered for an endorsement by The Family Leader. Gingrich, a former U.S. House Speaker and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, in July spoke at an event held by The Family Leader but declined to sign the pledge. He said in July that he and his staff would continue to review the document.

...The letter is little more than political pandering to conservatives on the backs of gay and lesbian families, said Troy Price, the director of One Iowa, the state’s largest civil rights group focused on gay and lesbian issues.

“Only time will tell whether this will be enough for the Family Leader to break its commitment to its members and endorse someone who won’t sign their pledge, but one thing is clear – Newt Gingrich is the last person who should be telling loving and committed couples, regardless of whether they are gay or straight, about marriage and how they should be living their lives,” Price said.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"All-American Muslim" Losing Its Advertising Following Complaints by Florida Family Association

Have you heard about the new TLC reality television program called "All-American Muslim"?  It follows the lives of five Muslim American families from Dearborn, MI.  The show is supposed to offer viewers more information about their "customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts... outside and within their own community."  The show is still a couple hours from premiering and it's already encountering one significant outside conflict.  The Florida Family Association (famous for its attempts at boycotting shows like Degrassi for its inclusion of LGBT characters and plotlines) has launched an advertiser boycott of the TLC reality TV program and actually managed to hit paydirt this time around.

The Florida Family Association has been sending out e-mails to the program's advertisers, arguing that All-American Muslim is nothing more than jihadist propaganda attempting to put a pretty face on a terrorist plot.  And it worked.  Lots of news outlets are advertising that Lowe's pulled out from the show, but they aren't alone.  Supposedly at least 65 companies have pulled ads from the show, including Bank of America, Campbell Soup, Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffer, McDonald's, Sears, and Wal-Mart. 

Lowe's has explained that the show is too much of a lightning rod for their sensitivities, which will leave more advertising funds for them to spend on less controversial reality TV shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and Sister Wives.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rick Santorum Attacks Gay Parents (Again)

Rick Santorum wants you to know that he's not a big fan of adoption.  He's also not a big fan of artificial insemination.  Earlier this week in Spencer, Iowa, he claimed that gay and lesbian families are pretty awful.  Our families "destabilize The family" (i.e., the concept of "family" and we "accommodate a different values structure".  According to information posted on Think Progress:
“It’s about what America’s basic moral values should be that would be reflected in the law,” he said, adding: “laws should try as much as possible to comport with the higher law and also should comport with what reason would dictate. And what reason dictates is that children need mothers and fathers. … Some say well, through technology, same-sex couples can have children. Well they can, through either adoption, or artificial insemination…but they don’t get the mother and a father.”

If you watch the clip, he talks about about the need to respect the religious liberties of our fellow Americans, but then defines religious liberties as those enveloping the Judeo-Christian values.

He then talks about kids needing moms and dads and disses adoption and artificial insemination because these are too technological.  But then he supports adoption and talks about how it's designed to support children whose biological parents cannot meet their children's needs.  So basically, he actually accepts adoption, but not the adoptive families of gay and lesbian families.

Here are my (continuing) problems with Rick Santorum:

1. He wants religious liberties, but refuses to respect the religious liberties of those who hold different values than him.  I believe in marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples because I believe in marriage.  Marriage is the great stabilizer and uniter.  It promotes commitment and fidelity.  It forces people to think about more than themselves.  It provides natural supports for spouses when they are sick or jobless or dying.  It unites to separate people into one family unit.  I believe this is good for the couple and I believe this is good for society.  I believed this long before I could legally marry my husband, which is why we held a commitment ceremony at my church.  My United Church of Christ church.  My UCC church that celebrates and affirms marriage rights AND rites for both gay and het couples, which is part of a larger denomination that celebrates and affirms the the marriage rights and rites of both gay and het couples.  The UCC isn't alone.  There are other churches, including the Metropolitan Community Church and the Unitarian churches, which celebrate and affirm all marriages.  What about our religious liberties, Rick?

2. I am tired of people like Santorum telling me that the existence of and the legal recognition of my family and others like it disrespect others' families.  It doesn't.  As noted above, we did not marry because we think marriage is a joke.  We totally believe in and respect marriage.  Not only our own marriage and the concept of "marriage", but also others' marriages.  Every time someone asserts that my family disrespects "marriage" or "the family", it's a total slap and statement of disrespect towards my family.

3. I realize that I am totally biased here, but I totally disagree with the assertion that children always do best with married mom and dad homes.  It's true that there have been ongoing research showing that kids do extraordinarily well when raised by their married biological parents.  But it's also been shown that kids do extraordinarily well when raised by their gay and lesbian parents.  It comes down to stability, and commitment, and consistent rules and discipline, and love, and proper priorities, and financial stability.  Married heterosexuals do not hold the patent on these attributes. 

4. The existence of gay and lesbian families isn't proof of the awfulness of gay and lesbian families.  The discussion of my family doesn't harm your religious liberties.  The existence of my family does not disrespect your family.  The presence of my children at their schools does not harm the potential of your children.  Legally nulling my marriage does harm my family and our childrenOpenly disrespecting my abilities and my status as a father does harm my family and our childrenOpenly denying my presence at the Table and minimizing my religious beliefs does trash my own religious liberty.

I appreciate some of Santorum's overall sentiment (i.e., families are society's bedrock and we need to support our families), but he really needs to get over his us vs. them political scare-mongering.  Ultimately, his words, actions, and goals threaten the very religious liberties and family values that he so dearly attempts to represent.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

By the Numbers

We have an unexpected medical experience planned for tomorrow in our household tomorrow.  As a result, I don't anticipate having too much time for blogging (though I could be mistaken).  What better excuse for a fresh, "By the Numbers" entry?

27-9 -- Tally in Michigan's Senate to prohibit public employers (including universities) from providing medical or fringe benefits to the domestic partners of any employee.  They also voted to prohibit collective bargaining agreements from ever including such benefits in the future.  These bills need to get passed through the Michigan House and are expected to pass.

62 -- Percentage of Montana voters who support "legal equality" for gay and lesbian couples.  Where were those voters in 2004 when that state's constitution was amended to ban gay and lesbian families?

200 -- Number of people who showed up for a "religious revolution" prayer event in favor of Rick Perry over in Cedar Rapids, IA.  Part of the Texas-originated Response, they want you to know that they don't like gays or abortion.

$5,000 -- Amount of money raised to pay the funeral expenses of bullied gay teen, Jacob Rogers, who recently committed suicide.  Remember folks, things can't get better if you don't live to see it through!

$12,000,000 -- Amount of money that funneled its way into Iowa since April 2009 when gay and lesbian couples began marrying in this state.  This includes money spent on officiators, wedding halls, food, lodging, and tourist outings.  My guess is that it doesn't include money funneled into the state by those seeking to wipe out gay families.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Iowa: 58% of GOP Caucus Goers Support Gay Marriage or Civil Unions

You heard me correctly.  The New York Times did a poll of likely Republican caucus goers in Iowa on a variety of topics and this is what they came up with when it came to marriage equality:

For those who can't read the fine print, respondents were asked: Which comes closets to your view? Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry OR gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry OR there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship?  22% of GOP caucus goers supported marriage equality, 36% of them supported civil unions, 38% of them supported no legal recognition, and 3% didn't know.  That means 58% of Republican caucus-goers in Iowa (some of the most right-leaning Republican voters in the state) support some form of legal recognition of gay families.  That's most of them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bachmann Confronted by Young Son of Lesbian Moms

This is what gay dad Dan Savage said about this:
As a gay parent, I'm really not comfortable with this. Even if that eight-year-old kid wanted to do it, even if confronting Michele Bachmann was the kid's idea, even if the kid was excited about being in a YouTube video... this just isn't cool.

The enemies of LGBT equality use small children as props in their misleading commercials and at their hate rallies all the time. It's a credit to our side that this sort of thing—a gay parent pushing a child into the face of a hater like Bachmann—is so rare that this video shocks the conscience.

We shouldn't use our kids like this. Even if one of our kids wants to be used like this—even if our kid is a precocious little eight-year-old asskicker who want nothing more than to get all up in Michele Bachmann's crazy face (and that's not how this kid comes across)—we need to exercise sound parental judgment and tell our kids, "No, honey, not now. Maybe later."
Check out this video (which I'm hesitant to post, but everyone else already has so what the hey, eh?) for the full story.  Nutshell version: an 8-year-old boy was nudged up to GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and whispered that his mom is gay and doesn't need fixed.  Bachmann, who was literally on top of the kid in order to hear him better, immediately shooed the boy, his mom, and his cameraman allow with the curt "bye bye!":

Honestly, I agree with Savage here.  Even if he wanted to confront Bachmann (or Santorum or Perry or whomever), I really can't imagine allowing our son at his age confronting a politician about the legitimacy of us as married parents or gay men.  Maybe when he's an older teen like Zach Wahls, it will be a different issue. 
Granted, both of our sons have appeared in the paper with me and Mark to discuss our families.  He's even been made a statement or two in the press about what it's like to have two gay adoptive dads.  So maybe I'm being hypocritical here.  I still think there's something different about educating the general public about the day-to-day perspective of a gay family and allowing one's pre-teen to get up, close, and personal with a politician or religious figure who publicly advocates for the destruction of one's family.  It's kind of like taking one's kid to the Pride March, while simultaneously avoiding the crazy protester carrying the bullhorn and picket sign.

Later in his post, Savage closes with a YouTube comment from someone who was there:
I took the video. We were standing in line, and his mom was ready to leave because we didn't know what WE were going to say. When we turned to leave, Elijah grabbed her coat and pulled her back, telling her to stay cause he wanted to tell Michele something. If anything, it was the other way around. He just got stage fright-- and his mom wasn't going to let him back down, because he was going to regret it. Please vote up this comment so people can see this explanation/back story.
What do you think, is there a difference between allowing one's kid to advocate for gay families and allowing one's kid to directly confront those who seek to harm gay families?  I'd love to hear your comments!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The FAMiLY LEADER Hates Gay Families; Prepares to Endorse Serial Adulterer

According to Think Progress, Bob Vander Plaats and The FAMiLY LEADER (i.e., Iowa's premier anti-gay family organization) are gearing up to endorse GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.  Here is BVP's rationale:

1. Newt does a great job of articulating a Christian-historical POV and he's transformed his life from a serial adulterer to a presumably former serial adulterer.

2. "Some people believe Newt is the best prepared to lead."

3. He's not Mitt Romney.

Keep in mind that BVP and The FAMiLY Leader insisted that those seeking their coveted endorsement sign off on their multi-plank "Marriage Vow" by August 1, 2011.  Newt is still in negotiations with BVP over modifications to his version of the Marriage Vow before he'll sign off on it.  Just a guess, but maybe Newt is concerned over the vow to practice personal fidelity to his current wife (unlike the two that came before her).  BVP's endorsement might also have to do with Newt's monetary contribution of roughly $350,000 to last year's election-time campaign to recall three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who overturned the state's DOMA law.

There are many candidates like Santorum and Bachmann who clearly and consistently represent BVP's and The FAMiLY LEADER's beliefs and goals much more than Newt ever did.  If they end up endorsing him, they will demonstrate that they are not really out for bolstering and protecting "the family" (minus those pesky gay families), but are instead opportunists solely interested in supporting the more politically viable candidate -- even if his actions as a husband have clearly and consistently contrasted with their own family values.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How Does a Church Go from Banning Interracial Couples to Unanimously Welcoming All Within One Week?

You have probably heard about Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church over in Kentucky.  Last weekend, its membership voted 9-6 to ban interracial couples from church membership:
The resolution approved by the Gulnare church says it does not condone interracial marriage and "parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions, with the exception being funerals." Ballots were cast after the service, attended by about 35 to 40 people, but it wasn't clear why so few people voted.

The church member and former pastor who pushed for the vote, Melvin Thompson, wouldn't tell The Associated Press why he did it. "I am not racist. I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil" about a race, Thompson said earlier this week in a brief interview. "That's what this is being portrayed as, but it is not."
This weekend after lost of negative publicity, about 30 members of the church voted unanimously to welcome "believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color".

The vote came up after the daughter of the church's secretary came to the church and sang with her African boyfriend.  Her father was later approached by the original resolution's drafter and told that his daughter and boyfriend would no longer be able to sing for the church.

I find it interesting that the original vote had nothing to do with racism when it strictly condemned couples marry interracially. But whatever. The church gave itself a black eye with its original vote and then attempted to remedy it with the second vote. They have lost at least two potential members (the church secretary's daughter and her boyfriend) and I'm sure they have managed to chase away many other potential members, regardless of their damage control efforts.

But I am curious about one except from this article:
Stacy Stepp, pastor of the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, told The Associated Press that the vote by nine people last week was declared null and void after it was determined that new bylaws can't run contrary to local, state or national laws. He said the proposal was discriminatory, therefore it couldn't be adopted.
I am curious how true this statement is.  And if it is indeed accurate, how does this affect churches like the Roman Catholic Church that openly discriminate against potential employees based on gender (i.e., no female priests, no male nuns, etc.).  How is it illegal for one church to discriminate against allowing membership because of race and yet legal for another church to discriminate against hiring employees because of gender?  I don't know the answer to this question and would love it if someone would educate me in the comments section.

Why Don't Gay and Lesbian Parents Provide Food or Health Care for Our Kids?

That's what the National Organization for Marriage is suggesting when it quoted Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Minnesota in an article titled "Minnesota Rep on the 'Desparate Argument' that Gay Marriage is an Economic Stimulus".  Drazkowski argued that 8 of the top 10 "best states for business" were states with state marriage amendments in their constitutions.  Which sounds terrible until you consider that 31 states have legal bans against gay marriages and only six states and jurisdictions currently allow gays and lesbians to marry.  Then it becomes statistically understandable that there would be more states with amendments on that list than without.

But this is the part of Drazkowski's speech that really makes you wonder what he (and NOM, for quoting it without comment or explanation) is trying to imply about gay and lesbian families:
The report “Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage and Fertility Have to Do with the Economy?” concludes that family decisions, like marriage, are closely intertwined with economic growth and profitability of large sectors of an economy. The report emphasized that children, raised in married, mother-father families, have an advantage when it comes to acquiring the skills and social capital they need to become well-adjusted, productive workers.

Children, raised in married, mother-father families play a huge factor in the health of the economy because they consume many services and goods, especially in child care, groceries, health care, home maintenance, household products, insurance and juvenile products.
Which kind of implies that children raised by gay and lesbian parents (and even single parents) don't get fed or taken to the doctor and that our homes are falling apart.  We apparently don't purchase toys for our kids, either.

Of course, the report that Drazkowski and NOM cite doesn't even discuss gay and lesbian families when coming out with its data.  It doesn't even attempt to address our families or our economic issues.  Which kind of implies that Drazkowski -- and, by proxy, NOM -- are pulling falsehoods out of their collective asses.

Let's be clear.  In most cases, gay and lesbian parents provide for our familiesOur kids are fed and medically cared forThey have homesOur homes are kept upTheir needs are met, if not surpassed.  In most cases, the children of gay and lesbian parents are wantedWe work very intentionally to create our families and to have children and to ensure that our children will not be neglected.  We don't experiences lapses or errors in our use of birth control.  We go through months of adoptive home studies or we spend lots of money on IVF treatments or surrogacy arrangements.  I'm not saying that there aren't bad gay or lesbian parents out there.  I know they exist.  But they are not as common as NOM and their allies want you to think.  In fact, in study after study, it has been found out that the children raised by gay and lesbian parents do just as good as our heterosexual counterparts.

Representative Drazkowski is lying when he asserted that his state won't benefit economically by allowing and recognizing the families of its gay and lesbian household and that our children are not cared for.  And NOM supports that lie.  Which makes you wonder what other lies about gay and lesbian families does NOM promote?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Video: Andrew Marin Sees his "Love is an Orientation" DVD Curriculum for the Very First Time!

I was checking out my Twitter feed this evening while D'Angelo and his friends prepared for next week's Tae Kwon Do tests and came across the following message from Andrew Marin:
[Video] It's here! #LoveIsAnOrientationDVD just arrived to my office. So freaking cool! Watch here

The link leads Andrew's website and an embedded video of him opening up the boxes containing his brand new DVD Curriculum.  Check out the video.  He is so excited about this new project and I'm very excited for him:

He immediately tossed the disc into his DVD player -- and who wouldn't after receiving the concrete results of months of preparation and work???  This is what he tweeted while watching the DVDs: Blowing my mind watching #LoveIsAnOrientationDVD! Quite unreal to see @KBowlby @JonTrouten @heyDarren @knowhim310 & others on my TV!

The Marin Foundation and its "Love is an Orientation" products are not about curing gays or convincing evangelical Christians that they have to affirm gay and lesbian relationships or anything like that.  Instead, they are efforts to help these different groups learn how to coexist with each other more effectively despite our differences.  We've fought the culture war for decades with no success either way.  Now it's time for a different approach.

Follow this link to Andrew's website and learn how you can order your own copies of his new DVD Curriculum.