Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gay Marriage Support Increasing in Iowa

Public Policy Polling reported late last week that support for marriage equality continue to increase here in Iowa:
As the only Midwestern state where it is legal, Iowa is becoming increasingly favorable to same-sex marriage. 46% think it should be legal, and 45% illegal. But when civil unions are included as an alternative, giving gay couples the same rights as marriage, 40% still prefer full marriage equality, 30% favor civil unions, and only 29% think there should be no recognition of these relationships at all. When we asked the same question in April, the breakdown was 35-29-33. Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all more in favor of both marriage and civil unions than before, but particularly Republicans, 14% of whom favor marriage and 36% civil unions now, versus 10-28 four months ago. For Democrats, it is 63-23 versus 57-25, and for independents, 40-31 versus 35-36.
Only 24% of Iowa's supported marriage equality back in the mid-90s. That number increased to 44% in 2010.  Either way, same-sex marriage support continues to increase year after year, state after state.

Monday, August 29, 2011

United Church of Christ's Iowa Conference Same-Sex Marriage FAQ

I was checking out the upgraded website for the United Church of Christ's Iowa Conference tonight.  I checked under the resources section and found that they have a "Same-Sex Marriage Info" section.  The Iowa Conference came up with its own FAQ to help guide UCC church leaders about gay weddings and the Iowa Supreme Court's (relatively) recent decision that struck down the state's DOMA law and allowed gay and lesbian couples the ability to legally marry.

I often get web visitors who have questions about whether or not pastors are forced to officiate at weddings for gay couples or who wonder if the UCC blesses all families, including gay families.  With that in mind, I thought some people might find it informative to check out the Iowa Conference's Same-Sex Marriage FAQ:
Are local churches required to host same-sex weddings?
No. Although the Iowa Supreme Court has made civil marriage legally accessible to same-sex couples, the court has affirmed that churches and other communities of faith have the religious freedom to determine whether same-sex marriage is acceptable within their own belief structure.

Are clergy required to officiate at same-sex weddings?
No. Clergy too have the religious freedom to determine whether or not same-sex weddings fit within their belief structure.

Where can I find more information about the Supreme Court ruling and the legal application of it?
The Iowa Supreme Court’s website has a page dedicated to the ruling: http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/Supreme_Court/Varnum_v_Brien/.
The Iowa Attorney General also has information about the application of the ruling: http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/index.html.

Our church has policy about which weddings we’ll host. If we’re open to same sex weddings, how should we apply those policies?
Those policies should be applied equally for both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings.

How can we help out-of-town couples get the advance preparation/counseling we require of those married in our church?
Contact the church community from which the couple comes or a local pastoral counseling center and get information about their marriage preparation practices. Refer the couple to one of those places and then ask that the clergy person or counselor tell you that the couple has completed the required number of pre-marital counseling sessions. You can also complete the pre-marital counseling sessions over the phone.

Our church (or our pastor) has chosen not to participate in same sex weddings, but if we’re contacted by a same-sex couple, we would like to refer them to a church or pastor who will work with them. How can we know where to send them?
The Iowa Conference office has compiled a list of churches and pastors that are willing to perform same-sex weddings that is available upon request. Or simply talk to the other clergy people and churches in your area to see if they are willing to perform same-sex weddings.

What should I do if I would like to broach the subject of same-sex weddings with my pastor/church?
Consult with Iowa Conference staff to process potential strategies for the conversation.

We’re willing to host same-sex weddings, but we don’t want to become a wedding chapel (or a wedding chaplain, in the case of a pastor). How can we set helpful limits on our participation?
If you haven’t done so already, a church should create a policy regarding the use of your space for weddings. If you already have one, simply enforce the same policy. Pastors should consult with their congregation to determine how much of his/her time should be spent doing weddings and if additional compensation for those weddings should be expected as part of the fees charged for weddings and marriage preparation at the church.

How can our church, or how can I, as a clergyperson, communicate our willingness to participate in same-sex weddings?
Ask to be included in the Iowa Conference’s list of churches and clergy willing to perform same-sex weddings. Or use media your church typically uses to advertise.

The local media has begun to call for the church’s/pastor’s comment about their thoughts about equal marriage and/or our decision about hosting same-sex weddings. What should we do?
First, the church and/or clergy person should determine whether or not they want to make comment to the media. If you choose not to talk to the media, simply decline the interview. If you choose to speak to the media, the church should identify the people (the pastor, church moderator, etc.) who will serve as media contacts and develop a list of talking points that articulates their position on the issue.

What should we do if we have begun to receive threats because of our beliefs regarding equal marriage?
Never ignore the threats. Immediately contact your local police or county sheriff’s department to report the threats and come up with strategies to handle the potential for harm. Also contact the Iowa Conference for continued support.

What should we do if we have scheduled our first same-sex wedding and we have reason to believe that certain people may come to the wedding to threaten or inflict harm on the participants?
Conduct a meeting with the couple being married, church leadership and local police to determine what safety precautions need to be taken the day of the event. The church may also want to consider creating a crisis plan and procedure for all church events. Local police and the Iowa Conference can help you create that plan.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big Fan Expo Comic Con Announcement: "Alpha Flight" Now An Ongoing Comic Book!

There was an exciting announcement made yesterday at the Fan Expo Canada Convention in Toronto.  It was announced that Marvel Comics' Alpha Flight comic book has been so well received that it has gone from being an eight-issue mini-series to an ongoing series!  Alpha Flight is Canada's premier super-team.  The current creative team, Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, and Dale Eaglesham, have all done a wonderful job of breathing fresh, invigorating life into the team. 

The new series debuted following the rise of a new Canadian Prime Minister and a fascist new political party, known as the Unity Party.  Through mind control and media manipulation, former team leader Vindicator has betrayed the group and her husband, Guardian, and Alpha Flight have been declared public outlaws and are living on the run.

Comic Book Resources has a great interview posted this morning with writers Pak and Van Lente that's really worth checking out.  Here are some of the highlights for me:

How long have you guys known that "Alpha Flight" would become an ongoing series? How has that affected the book's current storyline?

Van Lente: We had an inkling of this really before issue #1 came out. So we always had a backup plan. That plan allows us to do even more of what we're currently doing. I'm not sure how I can explain this without being spoilery, but we basically have a more robust second act to the "Unity" storyline, which I'm really excited about.

It's fun to be able to work on a broad canvas like this. We were able to do three years worth of stories on "Incredible Hercules," and now it's great that the first act of our "Alpha Flight" story is going to be at least a full year long. That's really exciting...

So there's room to tell some extra tales that tie directly into what's going on, like perhaps the story of how Puck escaped from Hell?

Van Lente: Exactly. Basically it allows us to have a lot of fun with the outlaw status of this former team of government superheroes. That's the place where they're going to end up very soon, and it's a fun status quo for Alpha Flight, which is sort of typified by the cover of October's issue #5 which has them toting guns, '90s-style. They start robbing banks. We have a bank heist scene coming up that's a lot of fun. It's a very different thing for Alpha Flight and superheroes in general, and we get to maintain that status quo even longer.

It seems like Alpha Flight's outlaw status would be a matter of concern to some of the other major players in the Marvel Universe, like the Avengers or the X-Men. Now that your series is an ongoing one, are you able address how the situation in Canada is affecting the rest of the Marvel U?

Pak: Yeah, we'll get a sense of how the things going on in Canada are being perceived around the world and how it affects the wider Marvel Universe. Also we'll see what happens when the wider Marvel Universe starts to take an interest in all of this.

Van Lente: As many Wolverine fans know, one of his first unrequited love interests was Heather Hudson. So part of the reason Wolverine left Alpha Flight was his feelings for a married woman. Now that Mac [Heather's husband, Guardian, aka James MacDonald Hudson] is apparently a criminal in the eyes of his government, he's going to show up and sniff around. So there may be a renewal of that love triangle because now Heather Hudson, Vindicator, is the official superhero of Canada.

What about heroes from other continents? Will they become involved? It seems like another major government-sponsored superteam, England's MI-13, would be especially interested by what's going on in Canada.

Van Lente: Captain Britain and MI-13 will play a role in this series. There's a little organization that's existed for years in the Marvel Universe, but no one has really paid that much attention to it. It's called the Commonwealth Heroes. We're going to be introducing them in future issues of "Alpha Flight." We'll see how Alpha Flight reacts to being a member of a "super" superteam formed from the superhero teams of all these different countries, and the insanity will get ratcheted up even further...

In "Alpha Flight" #4, in stores September 14th, you introduce the team to the Canadian government's new official superteam, Alpha Strike, a group lead by Vindicator that's been tasked with taking down the fugitive members of Alpha Flight. Alpha Strike's ranks include Purple Girl, Citadel, Wendigo and Ranark the Ravager. What made you want to include these characters on the team?

Van Lente: I always got a kick out of Purple Girl, a creation of Greg's personal hero, Bill Mantlo, when he was writing the book. So I definitely wanted to use her, but I thought it would be cool to make her badass and more of a villain. I often bemoan the lack of really good female villains.

Citadel is a character I created in "Wolverine: First Class" with Clayton Henry, one of our "Incredible Hercules" collaborators. He's basically the anti-Wolverine. He has an adamantium exo-skeleton and a healing factor, as opposed to an adamantium internal skeleton and a healing factor. He's the big brawler.

I like having Wendigo on Alpha Strike because Wendigo is this big, scary creature, and anyone who would put Wendigo, a cannibalistic unstoppable monster, on a superteam is obviously insane. That just goes to show you the mindset of the people running Department H.

Lastly, this character is close enough to being an original character, but we have Ranark the Ravager, who is one of the earliest Alpha Flight villains from one of their earliest appearances, which was in "Marvel Two-in-One."

Basically we had Dale totally redesign him because he kind of looked like a knockoff of Apache Chief from the "Super Friends" cartoon. So it was a little iffy in terms of political correctness and design. We went to Dale and said, "Ranark the Ravager is an evil shaman. Go!" [Laughs] And this is what he came up with; this wonderful, creepy, Blair Witch-type character who is covered in bones and has rubbed soot in his skin. He's an undead shaman who -- and this is a retcon on our part -- worships the long-time Alpha Flight foes, the Great Beasts of the North. His presence on the team also indicates that the people running the show up in Ottawa are a little crazy, because Ranark's presence in and of itself may break down the barriers between our world and the world of the Great Beasts. That obviously is a very bad thing.
Check out the rest of the interview at this link.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Marriage is Like a Tree

Rick Santorum continues to limp through his embarrassing 2012 presidential campaign.  He keeps coming up with all sorts of analogies for why my marriage and others like it are not actually marriages.  Like when he said that napkins aren't paper towels and that's why gay people cannot get married.  He's also gone on records that a cup of tea isn't a basketball and that a cup of water is not a cup of beer.  That third analogy brought out the greatest response that I've seen in a long time by Think Progress commenter, Scott Boyd: "Jesus turned water to wine, so doesn't that mean marriage has many forms?"

Now Santorum has a new reason why gay people cannot (or rather should not, given that we can marry here in Iowa and in several other U.S. states): Trees are not cars:
Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was. It’s like going out and saying, ‘That tree is a car.’ Well, the tree’s not a car. A tree’s a tree. Marriage is marriage. You can say that tree is something other than it is. It can redefine it. But it doesn’t change the essential nature of what marriage is. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of the benefit of both the man and the woman, a natural unitive according to nature, unitive, that is for the purposes of having and rearing children and for the benefit of both the man and the woman involved in that relationship. And for the benefit of society because we need to have stable families of men and woman bonded together to raise children. That’s what marriage is.
Of course, there are married het people who have no kids and there are married gay people who actually do have kids.  Our kids benefit from having two married parents.  And society benefits from our marriage.  We're not sleeping around and spreading who knows what.  We're financially and emotionally responsible for each other.  We are happy and enjoy spending time together.  I would argue that's what marriage is.

Santorum is also concerned about the forest, as well as the tree (i.e., polygamy):
You can say two people who love each other is marriage. But then why limit it to just two people? Why not three people? Why not 10 people? If it’s just about love and everybody needs to be treated equally, then why not 10? Why not allowing nieces and aunts to marry? Why not? If marriage means anyone who is in love, well, then, let everybody who is in love get married. But it’s not what marriage is.
I've often said that if the biggest argument against allowing gay marriage is that you cannot then argue against polygamy, then you don't really have much of an argument against polygamy. Polygamy is its own issue. Most polygamists are actually social conservatives who oppose marriage equality. They believe is polygamy not just because they are "in love", but because they believe that God ordains and blesses plural marriages.

Which brings me to Rick's last point: marriage equality undermines religious liberty.  I argue just the opposite.  Marriage inequality undermines my religious liberty -- and, to be honest, opposition to polygamy undermines the religious liberty of others.  Not that I'm this huge polygamy cheer leader, but it's true.  The truth is that Santorum and those who believe like he does don't care about the religious liberty of others.  They just want to promote their own religious objections to gay families.

The truth is that marriage equality has been legal in parts of the United States for many years.  If you count civil unions, it's been around for a decade.  No pastor has been prevented from preaching against gay sexuality or marriage.  No pastor has been arrested for preaching against gay sexuality or marriage.  No church has lost its tax-exempt status for preaching against gay sexuality or marriage.  No church or pastor has been placed in the position where they have been forced to welcome a lesbian family into its sanctuary or where they have been forced to officiate at the wedding of a male couple.

Meanwhile, my own denomination does recognize the sanctity of all marriages and families.  So does the Metropolitan Community Church.  So does the Unitarian Universalists.  And many other religious denominations continue to inch their way towards full equality of gay families within their pews.  Why are the Santorums of the world unconcerned about the religious liberties of those folks?

Santorum will likely come up with more "gays cannot marry because X isn't Y" statements before his political career finally collapses in upon itself.  Sadly, this type of nonsensical response seems to be taking off.  Just this morning on the Patheos website, I had a variation of Santorum's argument tossed out at me ("You can call an orchid a rose, and it might be a very beautiful flower, but it is not a rose" -- and f*ck me very much for allowing myself to stumble into that stupid debate about the legitimacy of my family with someone who clearly doesn't care, but I am digressing...).  At least with this latest assertion, one could argue that a rose isn't an orchid but they're both flowers.

Either way, it doesn't matter.  A car might not be a tree.  But my family is still a family just like Santorum's family is still a family.  We both exist.  We both are valid.  We both have worth.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

901,997

Apparently, there are 901,997 gay and lesbian couples living in the United States, as reported by the 2010 Census.  I'm still not sold on that number, given that it only counts those people who actually said that they were spouses or unmarried gay partners.  If I remember correctly, the Census Bureau wavered back and forth on whether or not gay and lesbian couples should identify themselves in the census.  Heck, they even wavered on which specific gay or lesbian couples they would count.  After all, DOMA prevents them from recognizing our marriages.  I'm not the only one who is skeptical:
Dennis Ziebell, 61, the owner of Orphan Andy’s, a Castro neighborhood diner he opened 35 years ago, said he did not believe the count was accurate. “Take another survey, that’s all I can say,” he said. “I’ve been in a relationship for 36 years and nobody from the census asked me about it.”
Here are some of the more interesting stats from the Census information:

*Vermont appears to have the most same-sex couples (10.9 per 1,000 households).
*North Dakota appears to have the fewest same-sex couples (4 per 1,000 households).
*Mississippi appears to have the highest percentage of same-sex couples who are raising children (33%).
*Maine appears to have the lowest percentage of same-sex couples who are raising children (17%).
*Washington D.C., which obviously isn't a state, still manages to pull off two simultaneous records.  D.C. has more same-sex couples (19.3 per 1,000 households) than any state and a lower percentage of same-sex couples who are raising kids (10%) than any state.

Another thing that struck me as interesting was the overall percentage of same-sex couples who are raising kids.  With a handful of exceptions, most states average 20-30% when it comes to the percent of same-sex couples who have kids.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Finding Judy" Coming to Iowa City This Weekend

I learned of a film coming to Iowa City this weekend that looks to be a lot of fun.  It's called "FINDING JUDY" and it's going to be playing at the Landlocked Film Festival here in Iowa City.  Here is a description of the film:
What happens when a boy from Chicago looks inside himself and discovers he can sing and act just like the legendary Judy Garland?

A sweet, engaging look at how one young man's quirky talent helped him disarm high school bullies, flummox telemarketers and propel himself from YouTube obscurity all the way to tinsel town.
Check out the following video and learn why director Gary Riotto decided to make "FINDING JUDY":


"FINDING JUDY" will be playing on Friday, August 26th, at the hotelVetro Ballroom (2nd floor conference area) at 3:30 PM at part of the Documentary Short Program.  It will play again on Sunday, August 28th, at the Iowa City Library (Room A) at 3:30 PM, where it is scheduled to open the Out for the Long Run Program.  The tickets are free, so it's definitely worth checking out!

You can learn more about the 5th annual Landlocked Film Festival here and see the entire schedule here.

Urban Chicken Advocate Running for Iowa City's City Council

It's been a while since I've written about urban chickens.  A small group of enthusiasts have been unsuccessfully advocating for a couple years to make it legal to raise chickens within the Iowa City city limits.  Since then, Cedar Rapids and a couple other nearby communities have allowed urban chickens.  Six months into this new world order, Cedar Rapids found that all of their fears about noise, nasty smells, runaway hens, and contagious diseases were pretty much non-existent.  Still, Iowa City's government continues to reject urban chickens.

(source)
But that might change with the addition of a new at-large candidate for the Iowa City City Council.  33-year-old Jerrett Mitchell has gotten tired of waiting and decided to put himself in the position to make urban chickens a reality for Iowa City:
(Mitchell) said his main campaign issue would be backyard, or urban, chickens, calling it a “simple issue of sustainability.” “You can feed chickens waste food, and they will produce food you can turn around and eat in the form of eggs,” Mitchell said... Mitchell said he’s also supportive of providing tax credits to promote rain gardens and he wants people his age to have a representative on the council. All of the current council members are older than 40... Mitchell is a Keokuk native who said he graduated from the University of Iowa in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in painting and drawing. He received a master’s degree in California and lived in San Francisco, Louisville, Ky. and Portland, Ore. (where he raised backyard chickens) before returning to Iowa City in November 2009. He operated an espresso stand before expanding it to a downtown coffee shop, Wake Up Iowa City, in July.
I haven't been able to find a campaign page for Mitchell, but I'm interested in learning more about his campaign.  If nothing else, he will add an interesting new perspective to the City Council.

Iowa's 2010 Same-Sex Census Numbers Are Out: Iowa City Is Tops

The U.S. Census Bureau has been providing updated information about the number of gay and lesbian couples in each state following the 2010 census. According to them, same-sex households in Iowa have increased by 77% between 2000 and 2010. Then again, what are they basing those numbers off? I mean, they supposedly weren’t counting our families in either 2000 or 2010 and then they went back and forth on which families they would count.

Iowa City had the highest number of gay households in 2010 with a total of 364 couples. Des Moines had 901 couples. Coralville had 79 couples. North Liberty had 64 couples. Iowa City apparently has the densest population of gay and lesbian households with 13.1 per 1,000 households.

I’d be much more impressed with these numbers if they actually looked at more concrete figures. How many married couples are there in Iowa? That’s something pretty definitive. You have a marriage license or you don’t. Right now, the numbers are all self-reported, if I remember the census correctly.

Iowa’s census numbers are pretty low. We’re currently ranking 38th out of 41 analyzed states. Bob Vander Plaats of The FAMiLY LEADER is crowing that because we have fewer gay households than states like Vermont (which has actually had a concrete way of tracking the number of gay and lesbian households throughout the past decade) that gays and lesbians aren’t interested in marrying and that marriage equality should be eliminated. I’m curious how much Iowa’s same-sex household numbers might increase to by 2020 if BVP and his horde of busybodies spent time tending to their own families instead of trying to destroy my family.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Texas Judge to Gay Father: Keep Your Kids Away from Other Men

Here is a pretty sad case.  William Flowers was married to a woman and they had three children together.  They later divorced and the ex-wife received custody of the children.  Later, Flowers married a man named Jim in Connecticut.  He subsequently filed unsuccessfully for custody in Harris County, Texas, but was awarded regular visitation.  Keep in mind when you read the following snippet that there have never been accusations of abuse towards the children by anyone by step-father Jim or any other man in Flowers' life:
Following the trial, Harris County Associate Judge Charley E. Prine, Jr. issued a ruling which included an injunction applicable only to William. It prohibits him from leaving his children alone with any male to whom the kids are not related by “blood or adoption.” So if, for example, William wants to visit his mother in the hospital (where she’s been for several weeks), he can’t leave his kids at home with his husband. As written, the injunction also prohibits male doctors, teachers and pastors from being alone with the children.

Attorneys who practice family law in Texas point out that in cases of abuse, it is common for courts to prevent children from being alone with specific people. But those same lawyers say that they’ve never heard of a case in which a step-parent or long-term partner is permanently enjoined from being alone with his or her step-children when abuse is not even alleged, let alone proven. No lawyer consulted for this story has ever heard of an order which prohibits children from being left alone with an entire gender...

Jennifer Broussard, William’s ex-wife’s lawyer, doesn’t believe that the order was motivated by bigotry. She confirmed that no allegation of abuse or neglect was made during the trial but insists that even in cases in which abuse is not alleged, injunctions such as the one issued here are common. In this case, she said, it was appropriate to enter the injunction whether William’s new spouse’s name “was Jim or Jane.”
Give me a break.  Have you ever in your entire life heard of children being cut off from an entire gender in the course of a child custody fight, much less a step-parent who has never been accused of abuse or neglect?  How is this decision "appropriate" outside of the fact that it doesn't affect your own client?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Books to Avoid: "The Lisa Miller Story: Only One Mommy"

It's been a while since I wrote anything about the sad child custody dispute between Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins.  (Here, Here, and Here)  They were in a relationship for a while.  Lisa got pregnant and they entered into a civil union in Vermont.  They raised the child together for a year or so.  They eventually broke up, but maintained joint custody and Jenkins, the non-biological mother, financially supported their child.  Miller, the biological mother, eventually moved from Vermont (one of the more gay-friendly states in our nation) to Virginia (one of the most gay-unfriendly states in our nation).  She renounced her lesbianism, joined an extremely conservative Christian church, sought out the legal support of the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, and attempted to write Jenkins out of their lives using Virginia's anti-gay laws and unfounded accusations of abuse.

The child custody case bounced back and forth between Virginia's and Vermont's courts.  The courts got tired of Miller not following through with court-ordered visitations and eventually switched primary custody of the child from Miller to Jenkins.  Then Miller and the child disappeared.  They had fled the country, reportedly with the assistance of church members and friends & family of church members.  They are supposedly somewhere in Central or South America right now.   Miller's legal team at Liberty Council continues to assert that they have had nothing to do with her disappearance.  Then again, Miller reportedly has spent some of her time on the run living in a home owned by the father of a Libety Counsel employee.  It should also be pointed out that Liberty Law School supposedly rewards students with better grades when they choose "God's law" over "man's law".

Anyway, one of her legal team, Rena M. Lindevaldsen, just released a book called "Only One Mommy: A Woman's Battle for Her Life, Her Daughter, and Her Freedom: The Lisa Miller Story":
Have you ever wondered... "What can I do to help those involved in homosexuality?" "How extensive is the culture war over marriage and family?" "What are they exposing our children to in schools?" Or, perhaps... "Why should I even care?" This book answers those questions and more! Only One Mommy exposes the truth about the homosexual rights movement and its destructive consequences. Written from the vantage point of Lisa Miller's seven-year custody battle for her biological child against her former same-sex partner, Only One Mommy offers a first-hand account of how people are lured into believing that they are born "gay" and cannot change. As a result of that belief, they make life choices that have devastating consequences for our children, families, and freedoms. This book offers truth to those struggling with homosexuality, encourages churches to minister to those caught in the lifestyle, and stirs freedom-loving Americans to get involved in the culture war that is raging all around them. "Rena Lindevaldsen is a leading legal expert in the battle to defend traditional family and marriage. Written from the front lines of the cultural battle, Only One Mommy offers a rare glimpse into a woman's personal struggle with same-sex attractions and the seven-year legal struggle to keep custody of her biological daughter..." Rena has written this book based on her first- hand experience as Lisa Miller's attorney, as well as on her defense of traditional marriage and family in courts throughout the Nation.
Miller went out of her way to create a family with Jenkins and then, when it was no longer convenient for her, jumped into the most nearby anti-gay state she could find in order to snip Jenkins out of her life and their daughter's life.  She has fought every attempt at shared custody since then and has now defied a court-ordered custody switch and fled the country.  Now her attorney is trying to capitolize off her client's child custody case and kidnapping. 

The Lisa Millers of the world need to learn an important lesson: If you bring a child into the world and/or into your life with another parent and then you break up, suck it up.  It is no longer about you.  You owe it to your child to do everything in your power to minimize the harm of your break-up on him/her.  Lisa Miller created a child-custody battle and has thrown her daughter into the spotlight for seven years.  She and her daughter are now international fugitives.  Do not purchase this book.  If you really feel the need to read it, see if you can get a free copy from the library.  Do not use your money to tacitly support unethcial and illegal behavior.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bridal Shop Refuses to Serve Lesbian Bride; Describes Gay Wedding as an "Illegal Action"

Talk about lucking out.  Alix Genter and her partner are getting married next summer.  They live in New Jersey (where they will apply for civil unions) and hold their wedding in New York.  They also have a big reception planned for their friends and family following the wedding.  According to this article, Genter and her family spent an afternoon at Here comes the Bride, a bridal salon in Somers Point, NJ.  She picked out her dress and then waited for the salon owner to get back to her regarding some special fabric requests.  Then things went wrong:
So how weird it must have been to get a call on Tuesday from Donna (she wouldn't tell you her last name, and she wouldn't tell me, either, when I spoke with her yesterday), and to have a conversation so different from the one you had with her on Saturday. Apparently, Donna was stunned to learn, after reviewing your customer-information sheet, that you're a lesbian. On the paperwork, you'd crossed out the word "groom" and written "partner" instead, and then inserted your fiancée's name. "She said she wouldn't work with me because I'm gay," you recalled. "She also said that I came from a nice Jewish family, and that it was a shame I was gay. She said, 'There's right, and there's wrong. And this is wrong.'" She also said - and you have the voicemail to prove it - that what you were planning was "illegal" and that "we do not participate in any illegal actions." "I was devastated," you told me. "I was crying. I called her a bigot; I told her, 'I am a happy person and you are a miserable person.' Then she hung up on me." You admit to using some choice words when you called her back. But trust me, whatever you said was probably poetry compared with what I believe most decent people would've spewed at her on your behalf.
In other words, Genter lucked out.  Instead of getting into a contract with someone who disrespects her, her future bride, and her family, she now has the ability to find a new dress maker who will respect her business and honor Genter's future wedding with a beautifully crafted dress.

Trust me, Genter is better without Donna and Here Comes the Bride.  Listen to what Donna said to this columnist:
When I called Donna yesterday to get her side of the story, she both confirmed your version of events and accused you of "stirring up drama." She said that your writing the word "partner" was basically a provocation, evidence of a need "to show that she's different. They get that way," she told me.

By "they," she meant women who were fed up with men because "men can be difficult," and so now they "experiment" with female relationships because they're tired of having men boss them around. She told me about a friend whose wife left him for another woman. And about a young family member who was molested by a same-sex adult male. And about a gay man who once plunged a knife into a chair in the restaurant where she worked. And - she finally lost me here - something about the Navy SEALs. "It's a lot of drama," she said.

She also found you "aggressive," didn't appreciate your cursing and thought I should speak with your father before writing this column, as she "sensed" his disappointment in your decision to marry a woman.
I'm glad that Genter has gone public with this very negative consumer experience.  Now others will now what kind of business Here Comes the Bride is and won't have to experience what she and her partner have. 

But I also hope that she is able to move beyond this situation..Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the best days of your life.  You are spending lots of money on clothing and food and services and venues.  You do not want to get weighed down by loose cannon businesses who don't support you or your wedding.  There is always someone better who wants your business and who respects you and your business.

President Obama Winning FAMiLY LEADER's "Quarter Poll"

This is pretty sad.  369 supporters of President Barack Obama have donated $92.25 to the anti-gay family group, The FAMiLY LEADER, this week at the Iowa State Fair:
According to an email message sent today by Matt Reisetter, director of development (of The FAMiLY LEADER), Obama has received 369 quarters thus far. Next in line is U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann with 201 quarters, followed by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul with 184 and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 106 quarters.

Reisetter writes, “Supporters of President Obama in our ‘Quarter poll’ have given generously to The Family Leader’s work to promote conservative, constitutional, pro-family values over the past 4 days! That’s right … Obama supporters contributing money to The Family Leader!”
I was at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday.  I saw many booths related to conservative anti-gay/anti-family organizations.  Fortunately, I didn't see The FAMiLY LEADER's fair booth or I would have given them a piece of my mind.

One thing I wouldn't have done, though, is donate any of my hard earned money to The FAMiLY LEADER or it's never-ending mission to destroy my family and others like it.

Nero at Daycare -- 08/18/11

Nero enjoyed the slightly cooler weather this afternoon while at doggy daycare.  Check it out:





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nero at Daycare -- 08/16/11

It's been a long day.  I went to the Iowa State Fair with my one son, my mom, my brother, and one of his sons.  Lots of traffic followed by lots of walking and standing.  It was a fun day, but I'm a bit too tired to blog much.

Fortunately, Nero still managed to go to doggy daycare today.  He reportedly had a good day.  He was full of energy, but still managed to give lots of kisses to the Lucky Pawz daycare staff.  I'm always up for pics of my dog, even pics that capture only parts of his body.  Check it out:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Should Bert and Ernie Get Married?

Most likely, you've heard about this story.  A Facebook page has sprung up and begun a petition to Let Bert & Ernie Marry on Sesame Street.  The Facebook group's owner want Sesame Street to show how there are GLBT people living in the neighborhood, just like there are people of all genders, shapes, races, and interests walking down the street.  The page comes as a result of New York state's new marriage equality law, but people have been talking about Bert and Ernie as a gay couple for over 20 years.

Sesame Workshop came out with the following response to the Bert and Ernie gay marriage petition:
Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.  Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.
Personally, I have more of a problem with Sesame Workshop's explanation about why Bert and Ernie aren't a married couple as opposed to their decision to not make them a married couple.  They own Bert and Ernie and all of the other Muppets and are free to do what they want with their Muppets and their individual personalities and story lines.

But Muppets do have sexual orientations.  I watched Miss Piggy chase after Kermit the Frog long enough to know that Muppets can have sexual orientations if their creators write them that way.  They even get married, if the story calls for it.  Once again, ask Kermit and Miss Piggy if Muppets ever marry.  Or ask the Bear Family if they have a wedding in their family background.  Are Baby Natasha's parents married or do they also lack sexual orientations?

I don't think that Sesame Workshop should marry off Bert and Ernie unless they want to.  But I think they should be a little more intellectually honest and move away from the whole "they are puppets and don't have sexual orientations" argument.  If they don't want to do it, they should just say that we don't want to take those Muppet characters in that direction.

Another Elected Town Clerk Refuses to Notarize Same-Sex Marriage Licences

I've written a few times about Town Clerks, elected officials in the state of New York, who are refusing to do their job and process the marriage licenses of gay and lesbian couples.  A couple clerks have resigned and others have assigned the task to minions.  Meanwhile the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund is sending out memos and offering free legal assistance on behalf of Town Clerks who get in trouble for failing to perform their elected job duties.

Late last week, we learned that a new town clerk has announced her intention to refuse to do her job, choosing instead to delegate her responsibilities to a deputy clerk:
Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti submitted a letter to the Ledyard Town Board saying that her religious beliefs prevented her from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples and the board discussed Belforti’s letter at Monday’s meeting, according to John Binns, a member of the town board.

When reached for comment Thursday, Belforti said “that’s not your business” before hanging up the phone.

Binns confirmed that Belforti submitted the letter, which he said included a request to the board for Belforti to assign a deputy clerk so the deputy clerk could sign same-sex marriage licenses. Binns said Belforti cited a law which, according to Binns, she said allows her to request a deputy clerk to sign same-sex marriage licenses. Binns said he had mixed feelings on Belforti’s request. While he said he believes that it is the clerk’s job to sign marriage licenses, he added that if the law Belforti cited “is something that stands up,” he will “support whatever the laws are.”
Frankly, I'm shocked that it's not the public's business to find out why one of its employees refuses to perform one of her elected job functions.

I was reading about this story over on the Box Turtle Bulletin website.  He does a great job of describing what New York town clerks do when they are presented with new marriage license application:
I think it’s important to keep in mind exactly what Rose Marie’s role is in the licensing procedure. Rose Marie doesn’t conduct the marriage. She doesn’t bless the marriage. She doesn’t attend the marriage. She doesn’t offer approval of the marriage. She doesn’t validate the information on the marriage license. She doesn’t even confirm that the marriage took place.

Rose Marie looks at identification to prove that the spouses are old enough to marry and that they are who they are, she watches them sign the marriage license, she has them swear that the information on the form is true, and she signs the affidavit: “Subscribed and sworn to/affirmed before me”.

Rose Marie’s role is nothing but a notary. I’m not putting down the importance of a notary in recognizing which documents are legally valid, but they don’t exactly participate in the negotiation or agreement that they are notarizing. They don’t object to the terms of the agreement – they don’t pay attention to them.

And according to notarywise.com,

“The only circumstances in which the notary may refuse to serve you is if the Notary is uncertain of a signer’s identity, willingness, mental awareness, or has cause to suspect fraud. Notaries may not refuse service on the basis of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or because the person is not a client or customer.
So Rose Marie essentially wants to do the job of a notary, on the taxpayer’s dollar, but unlike other notaries she wants to get veto power over the documents she signs.
And that's what this is all about.  The ability to refuse to verify that information on a marriage license application is accurate.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Do Dogs Go To Heaven?

Do dogs go to Heaven?  That was the issue being debated by two neighboring churches, if a piece of e-mail spam is to be believed.  This "debate" was too good not to share:









I Want a "Fred Who?" Frisbee

Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll, in case you didn't hear.

Now that that is out of the way, this is the Straw Poll story that interested me the most: Fred Karger Vies for Write-In Votes; Pushes a wheelbarrow full of Frisbees:
Candidate Fred Karger, a gay Republican, wants some votes at today’s straw poll... He and two of his campaign supporters are pushing around a wheelbarrow full of Frisbees that say “Fred Who.” They’re also passing out cards that urge straw poll attendees to write in his name.

“People have been really friendly but we just haven’t gotten started yet,” Karger said, noting that they hope to set their wheelbarrow next to an empty space by the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
I love Fred Karger.  He's this gadfly who buzzes around the Republican establishment with his presidential ambitions and is constantly swatted at.  Despite Harris poll numbers that put him ahead of many other GOP presidential candidates, he was swatted away from the Iowa Straw Poll and earlier this week was banned from Fox News' Republican Party of Iowa presidential candidate debate. 

The fact is that he's gay.  The GOP doesn't even like GOProud, the most anti-gay gay group that ever politicked for the GOP.  What chance does an openly gay man (who supports socially progressive issues like marriage equality, abortion rights, medical marijuana, and a "path to citizenship" for certain illegal immigrants) have as a Republican presidential candidate?

To be honest, I agree with Karger more than I disagree with him.  I would vote for him if given the opportunity.  I'm a married gay parent who is a government employee and one of my sons has permanent mental disabilities that will make him dependent on government assistance for the rest of his life.  In other words, I understand that pretty much nothing about the modern Republican party speaks for me or my family.  So, it's pretty big for me to support Republican candidate Fred Karger.

I am totally hoping to run into Fred Karger next Tuesday when I'm visiting the Iowa State Fair with my son, my mom, and my brother.  I want one of his "Fred Who?" Frisbees and I will throw it towards somebody.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bachmann Leading in the Iowa State Fair Corn Poll

Surely you have heard of the world famous Iowa State Fair Corn Poll?  Neither had I before today.  But it exists and Michele Bachmann is winning so far, though Mitt Romney looks like he's a stronger contender for second place:


For whatever reason, President Obama is not included in this poll.

Neither is perennial black sheep GOP candidate Fred Karger despite the fact that he is an actual declared presidential candidate as opposed to most of those featured in that poll.  But he's gay, so the GOP establishment disregards him even though he's out-polling several of the others in the Corn Poll.

I will be at the State Fair sometime within the next week.  I will keep my eyes out for the Corn Poll.  I really want to see if they really are only including Republican candidates (or potential candidates).

Incidentally, the 2008 Democratic Corn Poll winner was Hillary Clinton.  Barack Obama scored the number three spot.  I've done a couple searches, but haven't yet determined who (if anyone) won the 2008 GOP Corn Poll.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Did the NOM Values Voter Bus Come to Iowa City?

Frankly, I have no idea.

The National Organization for Marriage teamed up with a couple other national organizations and a bunch of Republicans to drive across Iowa in it's Values Voter Bus Tour.  Their goal is to rally against gay families like mine.  Oh, they hate abortion also.

The bus tour started yesterday in Des Moines.  That initial kick-off event drew tons of reporters, many protesters, and a few supporters.  Most interesting for me was the inclusion of Bob Vander Plaats of The FAMiLY LEADER.  Considering BVP's media ego, I was surprised that he wasn't showing up in any of the NOM Bus' promotional materials and wondered if he was being cut loose.  But he was there.  So was Iowa's Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds:
Reynolds, a Republican, voiced official support for the groups’ aims on behalf of herself and Gov. Terry Branstad and called on straw-poll voters to keep social issues in mind as they cast their ballots on Saturday.

“As you head to Ames this weekend … raise the forefront the importance of family values, faith and life and defending the constitution,” she said.
I've seen a few news articles and many blog reflections about the Des Moines kick off.  And I read about their stop in nearby Cedar Rapids this morning.  But I can find no proof that they ever made it for yesterday's scheduled Iowa City whistle stop in nearby Coralville.  I've checked out our local newspapers.  I've looked at the website for our local radio station.  I've tried all sorts of variations of google searches with words such as NOM, bus, Coralville, and Iowa City.  I've looked at a few local conservative blogs.  I even found the Values Bus' twitter feed.  But I've found nothing.

It makes me wonder if nobody showed up so they didn't stop.  If that's true, it makes me wonder how many of their other bus stops never materialize into actual stops...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gay Marriage is to Napkins What Straight Marriage is to Paper Towels

That's what Rick Santorum claimed recently while in Ames, Iowa:
I can call this napkin a paper towel. But it is a napkin. And why? Because it is what it is. Right? You can call it whatever you want, but it doesn't change the character of what it is. So when people come out and say that marriage is something else — marriage is the marriage of five people, five, 10, 20. Marriage can be between fathers and daughters. Marriage can be between any two people, any four people, any 10 people, it can be any kind of relationship and we can call it marriage. But it doesn't make it marriage. Why? Because there are certain qualities and certain things that attach to the definition of what marriage is.
I'm guessing that polygamy equates toilet paper (double ply, of course), incestuous relationships are analogous to wet wipes, and bestiality is a biodegradable poop bag.

BTW, openly gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger beat out Santorum in a recent Harris Poll.  Karger got 2% of the vote compared to Santorum's measly 1%.  Lesser known candidate "None of These" beat out everyone with 46% of those polled.  There's been no word yet whether Karger prefers napkins to paper towels, though he is the only GOP candidate who supports marriage equality (or DADT repeal or pretty much any gay rights issue).

Nero at Daycare -- 08/09/11

The weather's in the high 70s today.  As a result, I'm assuming that the dogs at Nero's daycare are enjoying the cooler temperatures.  They certainly seem much more active compared to earlier pictures from back in July.  Anyway, Nero seems to be enjoying himself.  Check it out:



Captain Save-A-Ho Arrested in Iowa City

Iowa City has a defender.  He is the self-appointed protector of women everywhere.  He calls himself... Captain Save-A-Ho.  And he was arrested yesterday afternoon at the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall and charged with public intox:
Iowa City Police Officers were dispatched to the Pedestrian Mall at 2:43 p.m. for multiple complaints of a man harassing people. Police said they found 34-year-old Jerald T. Navarre shouting and smelling of alcohol.

Police said Navarre showed signs of intoxication, admitted to drinking and told officers he was “a little drunk.” He refused pre- and post-arrest breath tests. The man allegedly told officers he is “needed” on the Pedestrian Mall to “protect women.” He goes by “Captain Save-A-Ho,” police said.

Don't Stand So, Don't Stand So, Don't Stand So Close To Me

Found on Facebook.  Too funny:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gay Marriage States Trend Towards Fewer Divorces

The running argument is that marriage equality destabilizes the institution of marriage.  But that argument continues to ring false when one compares divorce statistics from state to state.  In fact, if you look at the 2009 divorce statistics for the USA, you'll find that the marriage equality states see many fewer divorces when compared to marriage inequality states. Check out this quote:
Here’s the really surprising part: It’s the Bible belt, the swathe of religious ultra-conservatives that swings from West Virginia down through Dixie that has by far the highest proportion of divorce rates among the general population.

Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, for years has had the lowest number of divorces in the nation. In 2009, there were only 1.8 divorces per 1,000 population. Marriages also are legal in Washington, D.C., which closely trails Massachusetts with 2.1 divorces per 1,000 residents.

New York, the largest and most recent state to legalize marriage equality, has a divorce rate of 2.5 per 1,000. That ties the rate in Iowa, the sole non-Northeastern state to allow same-sex marriages. The other states with marriage equality also all have low divorce rates compared to the national median: Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island have legalized civil unions. They, too, experience relatively lower numbers of divorces. Nevada, which along with California, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin offer domestic partnerships, may prove the exception. It has the nation’s highest divorce rate, at 6.6 per 1,000 residents. But then, Nevada has been the nation’s quickie divorce state for over a century. (Remember the women in the movie "The Women" who were on their way to be "Renovated" from their husbands?)

Rounding out the top ten lists of divorce-crazy states are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine (the only state on the list in the Northeast), Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. Besides Arkansas and Kentucky, states in the Deep South with rates higher than the Northeast include Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Does this mean that Nevada would become a low divorce state if it legalized marriage equality?  Probably not.  But these numbers do present a puzzling question.  Why don't gay marriage states flip into higher divorce states once gays and lesbians begin marrying there?  I thought that gay marriage destabilizes the institution of marriage?

One of the biggest reason for this divorce trend, according to this article?  Marrying young.  People in the Bible Belt are actively discouraged from premarital sex.  As a result, people are more likely to marry young.  Statistically speaking, marrying older reduces incidents of divorce.  This is partly due to one's ability to achieve higher levels of education.  In other words, it's easier to complete higher levels of education as a single person without children than the other way around.  One's level of education is a strong indicator of higher income, which ultimately alleviates one of the biggest stressors on a marriage (i.e., low income).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Planet of the Apes Cheat Sheet

Confused over the convoluted and circular history of the Planet of the Apes*?  Check out this cheat sheet and it will all make sense:


*The cheat sheet wisely avoids the 2001 Planet of the Apes film.

Thoughts on "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

"I think the moral of this story is that if you create a race of genetically engineered creatures, you should treat them humanely and with respect." -- One of my autistic clients following a movie.  Different movie, same moral.

D' and I just got back from watching "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".  This re-imaging of the original "Planet of the Apes" franchise was extremely well down, in my opinion.  It is the story of a young scientist who is working to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease.  He has genetically engineered a retrovirus, which is being tested on chimpanzees.  He ends up secretly raising the infant of his most successful test subjects and quickly discovers that the effects of the retrovirus passed from mother to child.  That child, named Caesar, eventually ends up in an abusive ape sanctuary.  Over time, Caesar exposes other apes to the retrovirus, which has been manipulated into an air born virus, and eventually leads the apes from the sanctuary, the testing facility, and a nearby zoo towards rebellion.  After a bit of monkey madness, the apes escape San Francisco to their new base of operations at a nearby redwood forest. 

The special effects were amazing, but didn't distract from the movie or take over the plot. I expected more carnage, but the apes were more interested in getting out of the city than killing off civilians. It's possible that their's will be a bloodless coup, but I can't imagine that the apes will take over the planet without a fight.  The apes have risen.  Now I want to see them take over.  Hopefully we will see a sequel soon.

Does Gay Marriage Trample Over Religious Liberty?

The Des Moines Register editorial board met last week with Rick Santorum, who apparently went nuts over oil drilling in Alaska.  The editorial board offered up quotes on other issues, such as ethanol and two-income household, and education.  But it was his comments on marriage equality that grabbed my attention:
ON LEGAL GAY MARRIAGE: “Religious liberty is now trumped because … the courts have created a ‘super’ right that’s above a right that’s actually in the Constitution, and that’s of sexual liberty. And I think that’s a wrong, that’s a destructive element.”
Santorum has it wrong.  Religious liberty isn't trumped because I now have the legal right to marry my husband here in Iowa.  In fact, religious liberty has been expanded because of this expansion.  I belong to the United Church of Christ.  This Christian denomination has been around for over 50 years.  Like a few other Christian denominations and a few non-Christian religions, the UCC welcomes GLBT people in all areas of Christian worship (from membership to leadership -- both on a local level and at the larger denominational level).  There are exceptions within the denomination, but overall it is a gay-inclusive place to worship.  Back in 2005, the UCC's 25th General Synod overwhelmingly affirmed a resolution In Support of Equal Marriage Rights for All (i.e., inclusive of gay and lesbian couples). 

Long before the UCC's EMR resolution, the Metropolitan Community Church was performing commitment ceremonies for GLBT couples.  The MCC officiated at its first commitment ceremony back in 1969.  The MCC's founder, Reverend Elder Troy Perry, filed the first U.S. lawsuit seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriages back in 1970.  This effort was unsuccessful, but every movement needs to start somewhere.

Local UCC churches have performed commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples long before the UCC's EMR resolution.  Mark and I were first wed at the UCC in a purely religious ceremony back in 1997.  We weren't the first and we certainly haven't been the last.

My point?  I have long found it ironic that people have used the issue of religious liberty to argue against legal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages.  In fact, most churches have actively trampled over the religious liberties of GLBT people and progressive religious people who believe that GLBT families are equally valid and precious as any heterosexual family.

Religious people have been forced to respect differing religious beliefs and practices.  It's part of living in a multicultural society.  Even within the Christian denomination, religious people have tolerated people who hold diverse thoughts on the role of women, the legitimacy of divorce, and a multitude of religious taboos that some practice and others don't. 

Allowing gay and lesbian couples the legal right to marry doesn't destroy the religious liberties of those whose religion don't recognize such marriage.  And it certainly doesn't add any more religious differences for people to sidestep, given that churches have already been performing gay weddings and grappling with the place of gays in the church long before any U.S. government recognized any gay or lesbian family.  Meanwhile, individual churches and other places of worship continue to have the ability to officiate at any wedding that they choose -- just as they retain the right to refuse to officiate at any wedding that they choose, gay or straight.

Allowing gay and lesbian couples the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage instead enhances the religious liberties.  Churches like the UCC and the MCC can continue performing weddings for gay families.  The difference?  The government respects and honors the beliefs of those churches, just like it has long respected and honored the beliefs of other churches and places of worship.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes": My Favorite Five Smart Apes

I am extremely excited about this weekend's premier of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".  I've enjoyed the "Planet of the Apes" book, I've watched the movies (including the disappointing 2001 movie), and I've even watched the TV show and the cartoon.  The concept of mankind's decline and the rise of the apes was extremely intriguing to me as a kid and it's stuck with me ever since.  The question isn't whether or not I will watch this movie.  The question is whether I will watch it tomorrow or if I will hold out until Sunday.

Anyway, I was checking out Newsarama earlier today and came across their Top 10 List of the All-Time Smartest Apes, which got me thinking not of my all-time favorite smartest apes, but my all-time favorite smart apes.  Frankly, I don't care if my apes are geniuses.  I just like smart apes (monkeys, too!).  I thought it would be fun to hightlight Five of My All-Time Favorite Smart Apes:

5. Gorilla-Man (AKA Arthur Nagan): Marvel Comics has lots of Gorilla-Men (I even profiled one of them on this very blog many months ago), but Arthur Nagan was my first Gorilla-Man and he remains my favorite.  Imagine that you are a highly skilled surgeon who has learned how to successfuly transplant animal organs to people.  Now imagine that the animals get a bit peeved at your and end up turning the tables and manage to transplant your own head onto the body of a gorilla!  That's the story of Arthur Nagan.  Dr. Nagan isn't a very nice gorilla-man.  He's fought the Defenders and She-Hulk and Spider-Man and the Avengers.  And he usually gets beat up pretty bad in the process.  But he looks pretty cool with his giant ape body and little human head.  Personally, I would love to see this Gorilla-Man team up with the Franz Radzik Gorilla-Man against the Ken Hale Gorilla-Man.  Frankly, I'm not sure who would come out on top, but I'm sure it would be one heck of a battle.

4. Low Evolutionary (AKA Charles Darwin): Once again, I wrote about this character many months ago.  Marvel Comics did a little experiment called Marvel Apes.  Imagine a world where apes evolved human like intelligence.  Heroes like Iron Man, Bruce Banner the Hulk, and Nick Fury don't exist.  Instead, we have Iron Mandrill, Bruce Bananner the Hulk, and Nick Furry.  The planet of the Marvel Apes is pretty much like the rest of the Marvel Universe, except that its inhabitants are much more savage and are much more likely to beat their opponents to death rather than rehabilitate them.  There was a series of short-stories at the back of each comic.  Originally, they told the origin story of the Marvel Apes, but eventually they told about the time that Charles Darwin pissed off the Ancient One and got mystically exiled to the Planet of the Marvel Apes.  L-ook-i the God of Mischief almost immediately decided to create some chaos by splitting Darwin into three forms (Human Darwin, Ape Darwin, and Future Human Darwin).  Eventually, Future Human Darwin used his super-science to transform Human Darwin into the Low Evolutionary, a simian version of Marvel's High Evolutionary.  Super-evolved hijinks happened and the Low Evolutionary ended up kicking Ape Darwin's and Future Human Darwin's butts.  He then flew off into the wide-blue somewhere and hasn't been seen since.  Which is a shame, 'cuz Low Evolutionary is a really cool character, both visually and in terms of power.

3. Hit-Monkey: Hit-Monkey isn't so much a smart monkey as opposed a vengeance-driven monkey.  Hit-Monkey's clan rescued an assassin from near death.  During his recovery, the man spent many hours training and exercising.  Hit-Monkey watched and learned.  Eventually, the assassin's enemies tracked him down and not only killed him, but also the clan of monkeys (minus Hit-Monkey).  It was then that the Hit-Monkey picked up his first gun and took out the enemy assassins.  Hit-Monkey, guided by the assassin's ghost, has since spent his life taking out assassins and anyone else connected with his tribe's killers.

2. Gleek: Long before I read any comics, I was hooked on the Super Friends cartoon and my three favorite characters were created especially for that cartoon: The Wonder Twins and their blue space monkey named Gleek.  His main power seems to be his stretchy tail.  I know that many people don't like the Twins or their animal sidekick (or any animal sidekick, for that matter), but they were always my favorites.  I remember playing Wonder Twins at my elementary school many, many years ago, banking shape-changing charges with my friends, and transforming into all sorts of space animal shapes.  Gleek never quite made the transition from TV to the comic books.  He appeared in the Super Friends comic book a few decades back, but otherwise hasn't been revived.  Which is a complete and total shame, IMHO.

1. Speedball (AKA Marvel Apes' Robbie Baldwin): I've already talked about Marvel Apes and my favorite cosmic ape.  Now I want to talk about my favorite smart ape, who also comes from the planet of the Marvel Apes: Speedball!  Speedball is a chimp version of Marvel's bouncing human hero by the same name.  This simian Speedball eventually becomes a pariah and a traitor after he rescues some humans from his fellow Ape-vengers.  He relocates to the regular Marvel Universe, where he briefly trained to be an Avenger and fought to protect humanity from both the Marvel Apes and the Marvel Zombies.  He's still bouncing somewhere around the Marvel Universe, just waiting for the right comic creator to pen the perfect story for our bouncing ball of fur.

Who's your all-time favorite smart ape?