Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nero at Daycare -- 03/31/11

Nero had another fun time at doggie daycare.  Check it out:



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BVP Spoke to a Crowd of 25 at the local Pizza Ranch today

I wrote earlier today about why I'm giving up on a restaurant that I enjoy because of its corporate sponsorship for a political leader whose sole mission is to destroy marriages like mine and the Supreme Court justices who affirmed the court decision that made my marriage legal.  Thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and his anti-family political group the FAMiLY LEADER are doing a 99 county tour of Iowa to campaign against gay families, against judges, and against Iowa Senate majority leader Mike Gronstal.  Their 90th stop was here in Iowa City at the Pizza Ranch.  Roughly 25 supporters came to hear BVP speak.

I ate at Godfather's Pizza.

DOMA's like a Cobra: It Bites People

Pastor Ken Hutcherson has a message for everyone.  DOMA is like a cobra:
DOMA is like the pet cobra who has seven owners, and every owner he has bitten and they have died. And all of a sudden this cobra shows up at your house, and asks you to be its new owner...
I'm pretty sure he's warning gay people that DOMA will rear up at them from other states and kill our families.

Hutch wants you to know that legalized marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples outlaws ministers from speaking out against gay marriage and that churches and pastors are being forced to officiate at gay weddings against their collective will and that pastors are being thrown in jail for speaking out against gay marriages and for refusing to perform weddings for gay marriages.  "I will be jailed because I'm going stand on the Biblical right of what God said a marriage is: between one man and one woman."


Of course, Hutch is breaking the 9th commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness."  Marriage equality has been here in Iowa for almost two years.  There have been many rallies and sermons against gay families.  Nobody has been arrested.  No church has been forced to host a gay wedding.  No pastor has had to officiate at a gay wedding against his or her will.  None of what he's saying is true.

Nothing except his assertion that the Cobra named DOMA is slithering from state to state, inspiring fear and hate and attempting to harm innocents in their homes.  How many millions have out-of-state special interest groups spent here in Iowa during the past couple years influencing elections and tainting our state's Supreme Court?  Here in Iowa, gay couples like myself and Mark are terrified of opening the doors to our home every day for fear that another out-of-state Cobra will strike at our family and destroy our marriage.

So, I guess we owe Hutch a debt of thanks for revealing reptilian menace known as the DOMA Cobra strikes at gay families from other states and that causes irreparable harm.  Even if he had to lie in order to make his point.

BVP coming to Iowa City and the local Pizza Ranch... And Why I Won't Anymore

Do you remember that whole hubbub over Chic-fil-A and their corporate support for anti-family/anti-gay activists?  Many were flipping out over it and urging folks to boycott the fast-food chain and go elsewhere for their processed chicken sandwiches?  Since then, I've stayed away from Chic-fil-A.  Not that it was a huge sacrifice.  I'd never eaten there before.  Plus, I have a couple different favorite places to eat when I'm at the local mall.

Here comes the real sacrifice: "Vander Plaats to visit Iowa City":
The FAMiLY LEADER, an Iowa-based conservative group, will visit Iowa city today as part of its Capturing Momentum Tour.

The group's president and CEO Bob Vander Plaats, will be on hand to meet with and listen to conservatives at 4 p.m. at Pizza Ranch, 1610 Sycamore St in Iowa City. The event also will offer free pizza.

The FAMiLY LEADER, formerly known as Iowa Family Policy Center Action, has promoted conservative, constitutional and pro-family issues across Iowa for the past 15 years, the group says.
I love Pizza Ranch.  I love their pizza and I love their fried chicken.  On top of that, our sons love going to Pizza Ranch.  If we go out for supper, 7 times out of 10 we go to Pizza Ranch.

Because of that dedication, I've turned my eye from Pizza Ranch's longtime uggy relationship with BVP.  I've rationalized that he hasn't come to our local Pizza Ranch, so I can support this store and not contribute towards a corporation that feed my family and then uses our payment dollars to seek and destroy my family.  Now he's coming to Iowa City's Pizza Ranch and I think it's time to stand up for myself and my family.

Check out this article about BVP's long time connection to Pizza Ranch and its owner, Adrie Groeneweg:
Iowa political reporters often joked on their blogs during Vander Plaats' short run for governor last year that if you wanted to find him the best place to look was the local Pizza Ranch. The reason being, not that he didn't like the pizza or the handy meeting rooms to meet with supporters, was that Vander Plaats and the founder of the Iowa pizza chain are old high school buddies from Hull.

According to the pizzeria's web site, Pizza Ranch was started in 1981, the brainchild of Adrie Groeneweg, who was just 19 at the time.

And from a look at recent campaign finance reports, Groeneweg supported Vander Plaats' run for governor, to the tune of a $5,000 donation last year.

What likely further cements the two men's relationship can be found in the Pizza Ranch vision statement: "To glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in."

So, based on his Pizza Ranch connection, here's a list of where Vander Plaats will likely be headed soon.

As far as the business wisdom of the local Pizza Ranch franchisee's, I'm guessing they don't have much choice.
The local Pizza Ranch franchises might not have much choice about helping or not helping BVP and his ilk, but I do.

I can't do Pizza Ranch anymore.  I can't give my hard-earned money to a corporation that supports a political candidate whose sole goal in life is the destruction of my family and others like it.  Additionally, I will write a letter to my local Pizza Ranch and explain why I won't be coming back.  I will point out how often we currently go there and how much I regret that decision.  But I can't look the other way anymore.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Will You Script?

Did you know that April is "Script Frenzy" month?  Me neither until tonight.  Participants are challenged to write 100 pages of original scripted material beginning this Friday and going through the end of April.  You could script a screenplay, a stage play, a TV show or a short film, or even a comic book.  Those who successfully complete at least 100 pages of original scripting will win nothing except the satisfaction that they've successfully completed at least 100 pages of original scripting.  All in all, it's a pretty cool idea.

Once upon a time, I tried my hand at comic book writing.  I created a couple different comic book titles featuring American folk deities.  They were *this close* (imagine me holding my fingers very close together) to actually getting published.  Unfortunately, the comic book market fell apart in the mid-90s, my dreams of comic book stardom were dashed, and I never put time or energy into seriously trying again.  Maybe this is my chance...

Actually, I'm more interested these days in scripting a movie.  Think "'Barbershop' meets 'Groomer Has It'".  Either that or "'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' meets 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua'".

So, what will you script this month?

Nero at Daycare -- 03/29/11

Looks like Nero is having another fun-filled time at doggie daycare today.  Check it out!:



Monday, March 28, 2011

Gay Marriage Turns 10 in the Netherlands

Marriage equality turned 10 this week in the Netherlands.  That country became the first nation in the world to legalize marriage for gay couples (as opposed to civil unions or other forms of marriage-lite) in 2001 -- as opposed to Canada which held its first official unofficial gay wedding in January 2001, which didn't become officially legal until 2005.  Rex Wockner was present for and wrote about those first Dutch gay weddings back in 2001.  Check out this article for a reprinting of what he witnessed.

Here are the gay marriage stats for the Netherlands -- as well as for the broader world -- since that fateful night:

In the intervening 10 years, 14,813 of the Netherlands' 55,000 gay couples have gotten married, according to Statistics Netherlands. Of those couples, 7,522 were female and 7,291 were male. There have been 1,078 same-sex divorces, 734 of them by female couples.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Mexico (where same-sex marriages are allowed only in the capital city but are recognized nationwide).

In the U.S., same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. In addition, same-sex marriages from anywhere in the world are recognized as marriages in Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and California (if the marriage took place before Proposition 8 passed) even though those states do not let same-sex couples marry.

Michele Bachmann coming to Iowa City

I learned today that proud Iowan/Minnesotan legislator Michele Bachmann is coming back to her favorite state next week to nurture her impending presidential campaign and to visit the University of Iowa here in Iowa City.  She's the scheduled speaker for Bob Vander Plaats' FAMiLY LEADER Presidential Lecture Series.  The FAMiLY LEADER is all about breaking up gay families and giving judges their pink slips, as is Bachmann.  According to the linked news article:
Bachmann might announce her presidential intentions as early as May and that signs appear to be pointing to a run. She could form a presidential exploratory committee before two televised Republican debates scheduled the first week of May.
It looks like Bachmann will be hiring Iowa state senator/proud birther, Kent Sorenson, as her Iowa political director once her campaign officially gets going.  Sorenson should provide some much needed ideas to Bachmann's campaign, such as his legislative attempts to make Iowans calculate their state taxes in gold and silver coins as opposed to US dollars.  (Incidentally, Husband Mark just suggested that the Iowa legislature pass into law a bill requiring that Kent Sorenson gets paid in only gold and silver coins.  I think it has merit.)  Sorenson's also trying to get a birther bill passed through the state legislature so that we can finally overcome President Obama's lifelong conspiracy with the state of Hawaii to force his Kenyan values on America.

In related news, Iowa Congressman Steve King has come out as one of the few Republicans who is not running for president of the USA in 2012.  Apparently, he doesn't think that he has enough supporters to make a go of it.  At first, I thought he might try to run alongside his bud Bachmann, but surprisingly that's not even the case:
Isn't it a given King will endorse his neighbor to the north, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann? King told me, no. He said, "She's a great friend. On the issues, we go across the board. We are instinctively together. But (former Colorado Congressman) Tom Tancredo has that same type of relationship. History will show I didn't endorse Tom Tancredo when he ran for president."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Riverdale" and "My Little Pony" (parody movie trailers that totally need to get made in real movies)

I've written a couple different times about Archie Comics here on the blog.  What I haven't shared is that Archie Andrews was my first.  Comic book, that is.  We never had comic book stores where I grew up and I never had the chance to get familiar with the Marvel and DC superhero characters that I follow these days.  But I did enjoy reading those Archie digest books that they sell at grocery stores and my mother would usually get me new digest comics whenever I helped her out at the store. 

Anyway, I came across this Fan Film Trailer of "Riverdale".  It shows what Archie and the gang might be like if they were brought to the silver screen for today's movie audiences.  I totally love it and would totally watch this if it came out.  I should warn you that it's pretty extreme, but that's what makes it good. Check it out!:


Of course, this got me thinking about a similar modern day adaptations of comic books and old classic movies, which got me thinking of another great fan film parody project: "My Little Pony". Check this one out, too!:

Victoria Jackson doesn't believe her Gay Friends are actually Gay

Earlier this week, I wrote about former SNL star and current Tea Party member Victoria Jackson's recent anti-gay/anti-Islam statements in World Net Daily and then later on CNN's Showbiz.  She had been upset by a gay kiss on last week's episode of Glee and wanted everyone to know that gay affection is "sickening" and that it mocks Christians.  Additionally, she wants people to know that Muslims kill gay people and that "the gays hate (God's) Word".  Oh, yeah.  She also has gay friends.

Turns out I should have written that she has "gay" friends, as that's how Jackson writes about her "gay" friends.  With quotes.  To be fair, she should have used air-quotes when referencing her "gay" friends in that CNN piece, so it's not all my fault.

She puts quotes around the word "gay" because she apparently knows them better than they know themselves.  They are not really gay.  They think so (and apparently these are older folks since she's known them for decades -- so they've obviously had time to look inward and think about it), but their opinions don't really matter to Jackson:
Driving to the Atlanta airport, I thought about G, my lifelong college friend from Auburn. He drove with me cross country in my 1980 beat-up Toyota Starlet when I went to Hollywood to be an actress. He was the only person who believed in me. He knows all of my sins. I know a few of his. I always tell him I don’t believe he is “gay” – we went on a date once and even kissed. We wrote a screenplay together. He loves drama. I can picture him now laughing, “Victoria, what are you doing?! Your career! You’ll never work again in Hollywood! Oh, but Hollywood loves a scandal!” And, then the twinkle in his eye. I can see my best friend A, who I also tell is not “gay", saying in his British accent, “Victoria, my shiny, shiny friend! I still love you!” and then the big hug!
FWIW.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No TrekFest in 2011?

Here's a kick in the pants.  Back in 1985, the nearby community of Riverside, Iowa, petitioned to make their community the official future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. EnterpriseStar Trek creator Gene Roddenberry gave the city his blessing and every year since then during the final weekend in June Riverside hosts TrekFest.  People who attend TrekFest can expect firework, pet contests, costume contests, trivia contests, a rodeo, a parade, a volleyball tournament, and a demolition derby.  Additionally, the community sometimes manages to snag at least one or two stars from one or more of the various Trek shows.  We're not talking Red Shirt #7.  We're talking Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Grace Lee Whitney.  They even managed to bring in William Shatner back in 2004, but that turned out to be a reality show hoax project for Spike TV.

Anyway, I was watching the news this evening and learned some sad news.  Turns out that the Riverside Area Community Club (RACC) is struggling to raise the money needed to host TrekFest this year.  They need to raise $10,000 by the end of April or else it can't happen:
RACC Treasurer Becky LaRoche said that $10,000 would be the bare minimum necessary to put on TrekFest. The group decided it would need to raise the money by April 20 in order have enough time to plan all the events. Unless the group receives a large infusion of cash, there will be no rodeo or any other RACC-sponsored events this year.

The city has budgeted $5,000 for this year’s fireworks during TrekFest. The money comes from the hotel/motel tax fund. In an interview Friday, City Administrator Tina Thomas said the city prepares for TrekFest for two weeks. The city sets up the fencing, barricades, volleyball nets and performs additional mowing. She said city staff also spends time answering phone calls about when and where the various events are.

At its meeting, the RACC members said the Ball Association depends on its fundraiser during TrekFest. They said that if there were no TrekFest, the Ball Association would have a tough time raising enough money to support itself.

Former mayor Bill Poch spoke at the meeting. He said the economic impact of TrekFest is difficult to measure because it’s not confined to TrekFest weekend. He said Riverside’s notoriety as the “future birthplace of Captain Kirk” is responsible for a great deal of tourism to the town.

“Why do we have the future birthplace of Captain Kirk?” asked Poch, rhetorically. “We’re not trekkies. It’s for the money. It’s to bring people to town.” Poch said Riverside is known around the world for its connection to Star Trek. “What other town has this distinction?” he asked. “How many towns had their name mentioned in a movie (referring to Riverside’s mention in the 2009 movie “
Star Trek”)?
Young Kirk outside the Riverside Shipyards
Poch is correct.  Riverside has a real jewel in its possession, both financially and culturally.  Whether or not one likes Star Trek, TrekFest is a major draw for Riverside and its absence will severely hurt the community.  It's terribly unlikely that RACC will be able to raise that much cash in such a short amount of time.  My biggest hope is that TrekFest's absence this year will help jolt Riverside and its surrounding communities into realizing why it's such an important event for that community.

Thoughts on "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules"

D'Angelo and I recently got back from watching "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" at the movie theater.  It's the theatrical sequel of last year's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", which was in turn adapted from Jeff Kinney's books by the same names.  It stars Zachary Gordon as the lead Greg Heffley and Devon Bostick as his vicious older brother Rodrick Heffley.  D' is a huge fan of the book series and really enjoyed the original movie, so it was a no-brainer that we'd end up seeing this movie as soon as it came out.  Apparently, we weren't the only ones with this plan as the movie theater was packed.

Unlike the original movie -- which focused on Greg Heffley's attempt to overcome middle school 'tween politics and (unsuccessfully) advance into the school's popular circles -- this movie primarily followed Greg and Rodrick along on their parent-enforced journey towards brotherly friendship.  The problem is that Rodrick really has no interest in spending time with his younger brother and is only tolerating his mother's scheme in an effort to earn and cash in "Mom Bucks", which he uses to build up his garage band.  The school stuff was there, but it was strongly muted and many of the secondary school friends and rivals -- with the except of Greg's best friend Rowley, played by Robert Capron -- were relegated to minor sub-plots.  This was unfortunate, because I really would've loved to have seen more of Grayson Russell as the forever weird Fregley.  That said, it was fun to watch the brothers bond over an elicit house party and then fall apart when they're inevitably found out.

D' said that he liked the movie, but preferred the original film.  He told me that the film features a lot of original story lines (as much as 50%), including his brothers' band contest subplot and a few of the brotherly pranks.

All in all, it was a good movie.  It appeared evenly spaced out and, looking back, I can't think of any lulls.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is an excellent movie that successfully entertains its core younger audience while offering cinematic enjoyment for their adult chaperones.

Best Trailer: "Kung Fu Panda 2": I never saw the original Kung Fu Panda movie, but this preview trailer looked like a lot of fun.  I was especially entranced by a scene involving the movie's main characters and a Chinese Dragon dance.

Least Favorite Trailer: "Prom": It's the story of a bunch of high school seniors preparing for their senior prom.  I'm sure it's a good movie, but it didn't really interest D' and me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

By the Numbers -- Iowa City Edition

10 -- Number of locations in Iowa City being considering for red-light and speed cameras.  The City Council and the city police keep saying this is only about safety, however they keep slipping every so often and bring up how much money they city can rake in over red-light and speed camera tickets.  That said, there may indeed be some merit to the issue of improved traffic safety.  Cedar Rapids has already observed a 40% decrease in traffic fatalities in camera-monitored intersections.

42/76 -- Number of dogs and cats, respectively, that were being held at Iowa City's Mix'n'Match Rescue.  A shelter of that agency's size is not to exceed 9 dogs and 32 cats.  Needless to say, the shelter's chief operator, Tammara Meester, was convicted of two counts of animal neglect and for various license violations.  The linked article indicates evidence of unsanitary conditions.  Meester claims that she is the victim of a "turf war" between her agency and Iowa City's animal shelter.  Meester will be sentenced in mid-May and faces up to 30 days in jail and up to $625 in fines per count.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conservatives Attack Gay Families and Judges in Iowa -- What's New, Eh?

There were several anti-family political conservatives written about here in Iowa today, so I thought I would merge the stories that grabbed my attention into one blog article.

First there was an article in Iowa Independent about Pastor Cary Gordon of Cornerstone World Outreach way out west in Sioux City, Iowa.  His church was very actively involved with this past November's midterm anti-retention campaign that led to the removal of three Iowa Supreme Court justices for striking down the state's DOMA law and upholding a lower court decision that allowed gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.  One of their efforts was an eHarmony parody that predicted the legalization of incestuous marriages.  He's openly dared the IRS to go after the church for violating the terms of its tax exempt status, though I'm unsure if anything has come of that.  It was interesting to note that the church has been unable to secure a loan to pay $3.65 million to contractors who had built the church's new worship center.  The new worship center is up for auction in May and the church is considering filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Anyway, Pastor Gordon spoke about many things in this article, but he was particularly nasty towards gay parents:
Gordon told The Iowa Independent his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriages is “not about hate, it’s about natural law.” Although he didn’t say how he felt about two men or two women being able to receive the same legal benefits if they were not legally married.

“I didn’t make gravity, no board of three against two on a board of five voted and said ‘let’s have gravity now,’” Gordon said. “And so there are natural laws that men did not make and we don’t have the power to overrule. One of those laws is it takes one man and one woman to make a baby. I didn’t make that law … and that is the logical definition of family.”

He then called children the innocent bystanders of the situation, and said a same-sex couple could never raise a child as well as a heterosexual couple.

“When two men say to the world we can raise a child just as good as any heterosexual couple, I think that’s offensive to women, because you’re saying that a woman, a female, does not bring a unique contribution,” Gordon said. Gordon added he felt the same way about two women trying to claim they could raise a family without a male presence.
Here's the deal.  Gay couples can indeed raise children as well as pretty much any heterosexual couple.  All in all, we're no better nor any worse.  That's been demonstrated over and over and over through social scientific research.  My kids aren't innocent bystanders of our situation anymore than Gordon's kids, assuming he has them and I'm really not interested in researching whether or not he does.  I know where my kids came from.  I know what my kids are like now.  And I know many other families of all stripes, including many gay- and lesbian-headed homes and many more hetero-headed homes.  The gay families I know are -- with only a few exceptions -- wonderful families who I would gladly stack up against pretty much any hetero household.  No hesitation.

I will tell you what I find offensive: political and religious figures who repeatedly attack gay couples, gay parents, and our children and make patently false and ignorant assertions about our value, about our worth, and about our legitimacy.

And speaking of offensive political figures, GOP Representative probable presidential candidate Michele Bachmann pulled herself away from Rep. Steve King long enough to attack Iowa's Supreme Court.  Strangely enough, she claimed Iowa as her own yesterday, which I'm sure came as a surprise to her Minnesotan constituents:
“Iowans are fighters. I love that about Iowa,” she said. “I understand what it is to fight as an Iowan by birth.” Bachmann likes to point out during trips to Iowa that she was born in the state and spent her first few years in Iowa before her father got another job in Minnesota.

“I’m an Iowan, for those who don’t know it,” she said. “These are my roots. I’m not just an Iowan, I’m an Iowegian. For those of you who don’t know it, that means I’m an Iowan and 100% Norwegian.”
Lastly, apparently two Republicans are publicly speaking out to Iowa conservatives and most specifically thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and asking them to get over their anti-Iowa Supreme Court agenda:
Two Republicans intend to publicly call for anti-gay-marriage activist Bob Vander Plaats to “answer questions about his campaign to politicize Iowa’s judicial system,” according to a news release. Dan Moore, former advisor for Vander Plaats’ campaign for governor, and former Lt. Gov. Joy Corning will hold a news conference in Des Moines on Thursday...

“As he is traveling the state, Vander Plaats has repeatedly called for the remaining justices to be removed and further inject politics into Iowa’s courts, an agenda out of touch with the majority of Iowans,” says the news release from the advocacy group Justice Not Politics.
Unfortunately, it's going to take more that two Republicans standing up against BVP and his anti-court, anti-gay cohorts to get this statewide mob turned around.  But I guess it has to start somewhere.

Nero at Daycare -- 03/24/11

Nero was vibing with energy this AM, so it doesn't surprise me that he was all over the doggy daycare blog this afternoon.  Check it out:













Wednesday, March 23, 2011

United Church of Christ Seeks to Promote Adoption and GLBT Adoptive Parents

General Synod is in the air.  Presenters are being invited (yet still no Ellen), delegates are being prepped, registration is being processed, and now the resolutions are being proposed.  Synod resolutions are interesting critters.  They are non-binding statements voted on by Synod delegates that speak out about some social justice or theological issue.  They ultimately mean little to the larger denomination.  Local churches can (and often do) ignore these resolution statements, but the resolutions are what grab the attention of the media. 

For example, six years ago the General Synod spoke out in favor of marital rights for gay and lesbian people.  It was a big deal for a denomination to speak out in favor of marriage equality, but mostly it just pissed off those UCCers who don't really care for gay people or our families.  And many gay people or gay-affirming people who were attracted to the denomination because it affirmed our families were pretty quickly repelled by conservative UCCers who really don't like gay people or our families.  Churches left the denomination over married gay people.  Heck, an entire conference left the denomination over married gay people.  All this over a non-binding statement.

My biggest problem with the whole resolution process is that they are almost always political in nature and too often tangentally backed up by any meaty scriptural statement.  My other big problem with the resolution process is that you never really hear how they're being implemented or if they're actually being implemented.  It would be nice to have some feedback.  Many times I just wish they'd drop the whole resolution process for a Synod or two, but that never seems to happen.

All that aside, I'm pretty pleased with one particular proposed resolution that seeks to formally promote adoption efforts by GLBT families:
RESOLUTION THAT ALL CHILDREN DESERVE LOVING PARENTS

SUMMARY

Today more than 460,000 children in the United States live in group or foster homes. Nearly one-fourth of that number have waited five or more years for adoption: many never find adoptive parents, and continue to live in the foster care system until they become adults. Every year, nearly 20,000 of these children leave the system when they turn 18—without the support of an adoptive family, and facing an uncertain future.

A growing sign of hope is the willingness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples to adopt children who otherwise might be unable to find adoptive parents. According to the 2000 census, 65,500 adopted children are living in LGBT households, and the number continues to grow. Both the American Psychological Association and American Medical Association support the right of LGBT couples to adopt children.

Many states, however, do not allow co-parent adoption by LGBT couples. In these families, if the legally recognized parent dies, the surviving parent may have no right to care for the child. Moreover, powerful lobbies are campaigning in many states to deprive LGBT couples of even the right to single-parent adoption.

This resolution calls upon General Synod to support the right of LGBT parents to adopt children, and encourages all settings of the church to defend the LGBT community when their families are threatened by campaigns to limit or eliminate their parental rights.

BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL RATIONALE
The care and nurture of children is a moral responsibility for families, the church and the community. Care for orphaned children is the very definition of "religion that is pure and undefiled before God" (James 1:27). The protection of children from harm is Christ's commandment, for "whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me" (Matthew 18:5), and "it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost" (Matthew 18:14)...

RESOLUTION
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Twenty-eighth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, call on the United Church of Christ in all of its settings to defend the rights of all children to have loving parents without regard to sexual orientation or gender expression, and to recognize a family to be any loving, nurturing, ethical relationship between a child and one or more parents; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twenty-eighth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls on all states to evaluate prospective adoptive parents solely on the basis of their individual character and ability to parent, not on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to grant second-parent or joint adoptions when it is in the child’s best interests; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twenty-eighth General Synod of the United Church of Christ requests Justice and Witness Ministries to communicate this resolution to local, state and national legislators, urging them to support the rights of all children to have a loving parent or parents without regard to the parent's sexual orientation or gender identity.
As always, I'm a huge fan of adoption and anything that promotes adoption. For that reason, I'm willing to forgive this largely political resolution.

Personally, I would like to see at least one of the "Be It Resolves" encourage local churches to promote local adoption efforts, either through service projects or through adult education efforts. Maybe they could use this resolution to developof some sort of pro-adoption liturgy. I mean, we baptize newborn babies and confirm teens and officate weddings and welcome new members. The UCC should be able to come up with some sort of ceremony that celebrates the growth of families through adoption.

Unfortunately, the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns (who submitted this resolution) has taken a very important message (the promotion of GLBT families and the promotion of adoption) that could really benefit local church communities and reduced this issue to a purely secular and political resolution with little practical application for the people in the pews.  IMHO.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Victoria Jackson has gay friends; Finds gay affection "Sickening"

Former SNL star, anti-Obama birther, and pro-uke player recently wrote an anti-Islam/anti-gay column for World Net Daily:
This new al-Qaida magazine for women has beauty tips and suicide-bomber tips! Gimme a break! That is as ridiculous as two men kissing on the mouth! And I don't care what is politically correct. Everyone knows that two men on a wedding cake is a comedy skit, not an 'alternate lifestyle'! There I said it! Ridiculous! Did you see 'Glee' this week? Sickening! And, besides shoving the gay thing down our throats, they made a mockery of Christians – again! I wonder what their agenda is? Hey, producers of "Glee" – what's your agenda? One-way tolerance?
More recently, she appeared on CNN's Showbiz to discuss criticism of her column, stating:
I just wanna know why the liberals are pro-Muslim and pro-gay. Muslims kill gays. That's what's confusing to me. The only thing I can think of is that the Muslims hate God and the gays hate His word.
She went on to state that she has "gay friends".  I can't help wondering what her friends think of her recent comments.  According to Jackson, her gay friends are "sickening".  They "hate (God's) Word".  Their relationships are a real life "comedy skit".  Is this how friends speak of their friends, even indirectly?

Of course, Christians also kill gay people sometimes.  Such criminal behavior is not just limited to Muslims  Then again, Jackson's not talking about conservatives being pro-gay, so maybe that comparison doesn't mean much to her.

Nero at Daycare -- 03/22/11

I was told that Nero was very energetic at doggy daycare today.  I guess he wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to check out his new hairdo.  Check it out:





Monday, March 21, 2011

Exodus Isn't About Becoming Straight; What's It About Then?

The Christian Post posted a story about that new Exodus iPhone app that I wrote about a couple weeks ago.  A couple different groups are petitioning Apple to remove the Exodus app from circulation and Exodus International is doing a little damage control and trying to clarify that the Exodus app isn't a "gay cure app".  Frankly, I'm not sure why that makes a big difference, but I'm still not sure from the article what Exodus International attempts to do, if not fix gay people:
"Our message is to promote the love of Jesus Christ to all those who have been impacted by unwanted same-sex attractions," (said Jeff Buchanan, Exodus International's Senior Director of Church Equipping Student Ministries). Buchanan also debunked common misconceptions about the organization, saying it is not here to "pray away the gay" or force anyone to do anything. "We are helping those who have unwanted same-sex attractions. Those who are gay or identify themselves that way, in no way, shape or form are we trying to speak to their position or trying to impose anything upon them," he said. "Exodus believes the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. It is holiness. We promote the belief that one can live a life that is congruent with their faith. That is our mission - period."
My initial impression with his mission review has me wondering why Exodus isn't interested in promoting the love of Jesus Christ to those with wanted same-sex attractions.

My second thought is that Exodus International needs to do a massive P.R. campaign and be more clear with their message about what they're about. My experience is that when those with "unwanted same-sex attractions" go to Exodus or to one of those Love Won Out conferences, they're going because they want to become straight. When parents send their gay kids to Exodus or to one of those Love Won Out conferences, they're going because they want their kids to become straight. And my experience is that when most churches or religious folks promote Exodus International or any similar program, they are promoting those groups as agents for transforming gay people from gay to straight.

Let's put it another way, I am rarely told about unwanted SSA folks who found solace in Christ, outside of a bunch of "Side B" folks over at GCN or from a few celibate gay bloggers or blog followers. What I do hear about is the promotion of hope that I can overcome my homosexuality and get married and have kids like so-and-so's cousin or former co-worker or whomever.

Even Exodus itself promotes that sense of heterosexual hope on its "about us" page: "Christ offers a healing alternative to those with homosexual tendencies. Exodus upholds redemption for the homosexual person as the process whereby sin’s power is broken, and the individual is freed to know and experience their true identity, as discovered in Christ and His Church. That process includes the freedom to grow into heterosexuality."  Check out the promoted reading materials on that website: "Coming Out of Homosexuality", "Called Out" , "Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality", "Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions", "Leaving Homosexuality", "Healing Homosexuality", etc...  One interesting book seems to be missing from the "Exodus Books" catalog that I think would be most helpful for leading those with unwanted same-sex attraction to the love of Jesus Christ and that is the Bible.

Exodus International claims that its mission isn't about becoming straight, but that's the hope promoted by its spokesfolk over and over.  And I'm talking about this message as recently as March 9th in The Christian Post itself.  If Exodus International president Alan Chambers isn't about going from gay to straight, then why discuss it at all?

So I'm throwing myself out there now.  How is Exodus International not about going from gay to straight?  If you can explain it to me better, please comment below.

Iowa Youth Pastor's Unique Ex-Gay Ministry: Molest Them

This is a pretty sad story coming out of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Pastor Brent Girouex formerly of Victory Fellowship Church turned himself into the police last month following allegations that he sexually abused at least four different teen and early twentysomething church members.  Since then, four additional alleged victims have come forward with similar claims of molestation.  One of the alleged victims reports being fondled by Girouex while seeking counseling for marital problems.  Most disturbing were claims of teenagers, including one as young at 14, who sought spiritual counseling from Girouex to gain "sexual purity":
A former Council Bluffs youth pastor allegedly told the teens he is accused of sexually exploiting that he was trying to help them gain “sexual purity in the eyes of God”... Court documents indicated Girouex told investigators the most sexual contact he had was with one teen over a four-year period, starting when the boy was 14 years old. Girouex speculated that he had “mutual” sexual contact with the teen between “25 and 50 times” over the four-year period. When investigators spoke to the teen, who is now an adult, he told them the number was between 50 and 100 times. Girouex allegedly said as a youth pastor he felt it was his duty “to help (the teen) with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with him...” At least three others – who were teenagers when the incidents occurred – told investigators the events happened at Girouex’s home. All three said they were at the house to be helped with “sexual purity...”

When they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind,” (Girouex) allegedly told detectives.
To its credit, Victory Fellowship Church's leadership reports that it confronted Girouex immediately after learning of the alleged abuse and insisted that he turn himself into the police.  They have since issued a statement concerning the accusations regarding Girouex, as well as the steps the church is taking to support his alleged victims.

A quick glance through Victory Fellowship Church's web page reveals it to be fairly apolitical.  There are references to prayer efforts and church fellowship and a couple different community service projects.  The one political item on the church's website, unsurprisingly, encouraged members to vote during last November's midterm elections -- specifically for members to cast their votes on the retention vote for Iowa Supreme Court.  They don't tell you how to vote, but they tell you why a "No" (to retain) vote would be significant to America's judicial system and specifically relate the concern to the Varnum v. Brien court decision, which struck down the state's DOMA law and allowed couples like me and other gay couples to become legally married.

Nero at Rest -- 03/20/11

Nero spent the past week being boarded and they must have kept him active 'cuz -- with the exception of a few bursts of energy -- he's been napping away for the past couple days.  Check it out:


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Crystal Cathedral Purges Choir of Gays and Friends of Gays

I remember watching many episodes of Rev. Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" while visiting my now-deceased grandmother.  She enjoyed Schuller's laid back and hopeful message and was impressed by the shining Crystal Cathedral.  She also enjoyed the music.

I'm not sure what she would think of the current level of drama that's become a mainstay for the Crystal Cathedral in recent years.  Membership and tithing has dipped in recent years and leadership struggles between Schuller's adult children continue to tear the church apart.  On top of that, the ministry filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October, which has led to layoffs, property sales, and the cancellation of the church's annual Easter program. (I guess Jesus will raise from the dead without the Crystal Cathedral this year.)

Now the Crystal Cathedral is experiencing even more turbulence following an exercise in "vetting" by the church leadership of the Crystal Cathedral's choir:
The "Crystal Cathedral Worship Choir and Worship Team Covenant" recently handed out to members states that they should commit to being Christians by following the Bible in every way, the Orange County Register reported Tuesday.

Former and current choir members say they are particularly offended by a statement in the document that refers to homosexuality. Long-time church members say this is the first time they have seen the cathedral take a firm stand against homosexuality and are disturbed by it.

"I understand that in an era where images of family relationship and personal sexuality are often confused, Crystal Cathedral Ministries believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view," the covenant reads. "I understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman."

Sheila Schuller Coleman, daughter of the founder and senior pastor of the megachurch, issued a statement saying the document is intended to "clarify expectations placed on them as ministry leaders." Coleman also apologized for the pain the covenant has caused some choir members.
Members of the choir are threatening to walk over this new contract and some have already left.  It's been noted in other online resources that the Crystal Cathedral's designing architect was a gay man named Phillip Johnson who was survived in death by his long term partner of 45 years.  It's unclear to me whether the designer of that iconic crystal cathedral could have survived Coleman's vetting process or if he'd have been passed over by someone who fit the terms of the covenant.

I find it sad that the Crystal Cathedral has chosen to continue promoting the larger culture war's ongoing attack on the family.  It doesn't surprise me, but I still find it sad.  The Church has the opportunity to accept all families instead of dissing gay and lesbian families.  Being gay isn't anti-Christian and being a married gay couple shouldn't be anti-Christian either.  Instead, it chooses to divide its congregation over purity tests and loyalty oaths.  That's sad, IMHO, and contrary to Christ's message and ministry.

Our Week at Myrtle Beach

The family and I just spent a week down near Myrtle Beach, SC.  Mark's parents rented a beach house for the six of us to stay at during Spring Break.  No big agenda or destination.  Just a chance to get away and relax.  In addition to a couple different excellent seafood buffets, a wonderful local burger joint, a stupendous breakfast joint, and an okay Chinese buffet, we managed to enjoy a few of the local sights.  Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to bring along my camera so pretty much any pics from this past week come from my scratchy not-terribly smart phone.  Here are some of the highlights:

*The Beach- The weather was fairly cool all week.  I don't think the temperature rose above 75 degrees all week and many days it didn't even reach 70.  That said, it was about twenty degrees warmer than where we came from.  We didn't actually spend a lot of time at the beach while near Myrtle Beach, but we did hand out there on Thursday afternoon.  The water was chilled, but the air was warm and the beach was soft and sandy.  D' and I spent the afternoon searching for seashells and Les entertained himself watching young bikini-clad women practice their volleyball moves.  I got a little sun, but managed to avoid any burns despite forgetting to apply sun tan lotion.

*MagiQuest- Mark and I took the boys to participate in a live action game called MagiQuest Tuesday afternoon.  You pay to play for a certain amount of time and are each given these electronic wands to facilitate your game playing.  You're given a series of tasks to complete before moving onto new quests.  It was pretty fun, though my game ended seconds before I could complete the third quest.  Also, Mark eventually discovered that there was some sort of problem with his wand, which hindered his game-playing.  Leslie did okay, though he grew tired of the game after about thirty minutes.  In retrospect, we should've paid for wands for only D', Les, and Mark/me.  The other adult would pay a smaller amount to facilitate Leslie's game.  Live and learn, eh?

*Mini-Golf- One of the humorous aspects of Myrtle Beach and its surrounding communities was the sheer number of mini-golf and regular golf outlets.  They had all sorts of mini-golf themes, including dinosaurs, minotaurs, mountains, and gardens and you could seriously travel down the main strip and stop at each joint and probably find no time to do anything else.  I learned that Grandma Holbrook is a golf-shark, though Les is pretty good too when he puts his mind to it.


*Ripley's Aquarium- Mark and his parents spent Wednesday afternoon at some massive statue garden, but the boys wanted to see the Aquarium instead so that's where the three of us spent several hours.  There were tons of sharks and rays and eels and horseshoe crabs and other fish.  They had a couple different demonstrations where one of the staff dives in with the fish and feeds them in front of the crowd.  Later on, the diver brought several of the rays up above and made it so that we could pet the slimy little beasts.  Les wouldn't get near them, though D' thought that was pretty cool.  Here are some pics from the Aquarium:



*Broadway at the Beach- After finishing up at the Aquarium, the boys and I decided to wander the pier at Broadway at the Beach.  Between Spring Break vacationers and some Canadian festival, it was pretty busy.  We did a little light shopping, but primarily just took in the sights.  One of the neater-yet-creepier aspects of Broadway at the Beach isn't something that's actually on the pier, but actually underneath the pier.  Every few feet, there are little vending machines where you can purchase -- for $0.25 -- little food pellets.  Initially, you think it's for the ducks and then you look down into the water and find swarms of giant catfish staring up at you with their huge eyes and open mouths.  I bet we spent nearly five dollars feeding those gruesome fish.  And it was worth every quarter.  Check these monsters out:


Anyhoo, the week has passed and we're back in Iowa City.  The laundry's been washed and the pets have been retrieved from their various boarders.  It was a fun and refreshing time away from home.