Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Catholic Social Services in Illinois Rebrands Itself as Christian Social Services

The Roman Catholic Church likes to talk about how state laws that prevent them from discriminating against the general public when they provide state-funded and regulated services such as foster care and adoption and that because of issues like marriage equality and civil unions they are being forced to close their doors. After all, they only recognize certain types of families and only place children with married heterosexual couples -- except when they place them with single parents. But being open to placing children with hypothetical gay and/or lesbian couples who qualify for home studies offends their beliefs.

This happened in Illinois, which recently passed a civil union law that provides civilly unionized gay and lesbian families the same rights, responsibilities, and protections of married heteroseuxal families. Which means that state-funded and regulated services such as foster care and adoption licensing cannot discriminate against eligible gay and lesbian couples. As a result, Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois announced that it was closing and no longer providing foster care and adoption services... as Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois. Effective tomorrow, they will officially re-brand themselves at Christian Social Services of Illinois:
“Although we are sad to lose our Catholic identity, we are excited to be able to broaden our base of support to other Christian traditions," said Gary Huelsmann, the agency’s executive director.

“The Catholic diocese has carried a heavy financial burden to support the work of the agency for decades, and for that we are grateful,” he added. “The last two months have been extraordinary for the agency. We have a new identity as well as expanded offices and a phenomenal staff. We hope that the agency will keep its Catholic support but also gain substantial support from other churches that currently are not connected to any other social service agencies.”
In other words, nothing has changed except that the Diocese of Belleville is no longer involved with the agency and it has a new name.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Seattle Woman "Gay Weds" Old Warehouse to Protest Gentrification

This got my blood boiling earlier today. A woman decided to protest the gentrification of Seattle, WA, by "gay marrying" a 107-year-old warehouse:
A beaming bride, a crumbling warehouse -- Babylonia Aivaz said it's a love that will never die, as she exchanged wedding vows with the Seattle building on Sunday.

Apparently, Babylonia fell in love with the building while participating in the recent Occupy Seattle protests. Then she learned that the building is slated to be demolished in mid-February. So, instead doing something constructive -- like buying the building -- she staged a wedding for the building. And -- apparently since the outside of the building has been painted purple -- she and her friends asserted that the building is a female building. As a result, it's a gay wedding. Because goofy, artsy-schmartsy activists are all about gender conformity.

This is Babylonia wrote about the wedding on her Facebook invitation:
Instead of a culture of death, destruction, and despair, I choose life, love, and liberation!

Yes, I'm in love with a 107 year old building! Yes, ITS A GAY MARRIAGE! How is that possible? Well there must obviously be a deeper story...

On December 3rd, in this very same 10th and Union Warehouse, 16 activists (including myself) joyfully linked arms in a circle, and fearlessly faced arrest for a cause in which we believed strongly. That cause was COMMUNITY SPACE. Our intent in occupying that warehouse was to reclaim it as a community center to address the needs of our neighborhood: communal artspace, free childcare, etc. We had started the occupation with 200 people who collectively worked to clean the rooms and prepare for a brainstorm discussion on how to use the space to best help our neighborhood.

The moment we entered the warehouse we became a true community. We became self-motivated. We worked co-operatively. We thought only of others well-being. We explored 36,000 square feet like children, giggling and dreaming at the possibility of all that space. We played with conveyor belts, riding up and down. The kind you always want to sit on in the airport luggage dispensers. We strung up lights. We adapted toilets. We removed pounds and pounds of unnecessary building materials. We fed 200 people. We dreamed. We dreamed. We dreamed.

I was and am constantly transformed by this whole event.

The warehouse is slated to be demolished in a week to make way for luxury apartments whose destiny is to disintegrate our unique creative culture and render our neighborhood even more unaffordable. Why couldn't we have had a community artspace and museum there instead? What our neighborhood and the world needs is more togetherness, collaboration, and sharing not corporate gentrification.

So Capitol Hill, LOVE YOURSELF! Lets celebrate what we are: quirky, creative, open-minded, progressive love beings who absolutely love being. Lets be together! Lets honor my love of this building and Capitol Hill, the idea of transformative power of community spaces, and each other. It's all we've really got at the end of the day!

I really wouldn't care about this type of pointless showmanship -- I mean, do you really believe that this staged wedding will change anyone's minds about gentrification? -- except that it just gives groups like the National Organization for Marriage or The FAMiLY Leader stunts to build their fund-raising efforts on. Think they're above it? Think again.

Staging a human/warehouse "gay wedding" stunt just minimizes the reasons why gay and lesbian families need marriage equality. People cannot marry warehouses. Warehouses have no sentience. Warehouses have no ability to consent to anything, much less a marriage licenses or a wedding vow. Meanwhile, gay and lesbian families continue to experience disenfranchisement by our government when it comes to the basic legal rights, responsibilities, and protections that most heterosexuals take for granted.

Babylonia's stunt ended yesterday. She got on the news and complained about gentrification and then wandered back to her home with the understanding that her warehouse bride will get knocked down in a few weeks. Gays and lesbians will continue fighting to protect our families from social and religious conservatives who want to forcibly annul our marriages while arguing that we're trying to "destroy 'the family'". Now we can add progressive advocates who purposely and/or inadvertently mock our efforts in failed efforts at political art to the list of people we get to fight against. Thanks Babylonia...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Creator of Bachmann-Protesting Gay Robot Interviewed on PATV

Things were pretty crazy here in Iowa leading up to this month's Iowa Caucus. One of the crazier pre-Iowa Caucus event happened right here in Iowa City when Michele Bachmann made arrangements to visit the Hamburg Inn. She was greeted by supporters and also by protesters. One of those protesters was pretty unique. He was a gay robot named Doctor RoboProfessor who vowed that he would not rest until Bachmann supports equal rights for gay humans and robots!!! I found a transcript of Doctor RoboProfessor's protest since writing the original piece and the good Doctor really won me over:
Michele Bachmann! I am a gay robot. I am a gay robot. Do you support equal rights for gay robots? Not only are you a homophobe, you are a robophobe!... Michele Bachmann! I will not rest until you support equal rights for human and robot gay people. Not only are you a homophobe, you are a robophobe! I was programmed to do this! I cannot help myself. I am gay.
Doctor RoboProfessor's creator was interviewed for the Iowa City Publica Access Television station: "Yale talks with professor, author and filmmaker Kembrew McLeod about pranks, politics, protests, copyright laws in light of SOPA, and Gay Robots." Check it out:

McLeod talks about the making of a good prank and following up on those pranks in order to educate folks about why the prank was pulled. McLeod interestingly noted that the Doctor RoboProfessor prank/protest was successful and nationally eye-catching not because it was a robot protesting Michele Bachmann but because it was a gay robot protesting Michele Bachmann.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gay Marriage = Paganism OR The Dictionary According to Newt Gingrich

Paganism (according to Dictionary.com):
1. Pagan spirit or attitude in religious or moral questions.
2. The beliefs or practices of pagans.
3. The state of being a pagan.

Pagan (according to Dictionary.com):
1. One of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
2. A person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
3. An irreligious or hedonistic person.

Gay Marriage (according to Dictionary.com):
The union of two same-sex partners; also called [same-sex marriage], same-gender marriage, homosexual marriage.

Gay Marriage = Paganism (according to Newt Gingrich):
"It's pretty simple: marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and it's a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Would You Do?: Gay Proposals

I just saw this clip from ABC's "What Would You Do?", which wanted to see what would happen when a man proposed to his boyfriend and another customer reacted negatively. Unlike the last time I blogged about this program, this clip is only the set-up. However, the general plot has one man proposing to another man while the customer sitting next to him interrupts and tells them that their relationship is a sham. In this particular case, one customer adamantly defended the couple and a second customer broke into tears following the one man's negative reaction to the proposal. Check out clip here:

Personally, I'd never propose to anyone, male or female, in that type of cramped diner setting. It's not terribly romantic (unless, I guess, you two originally dated there) and I wouldn't want to put myself in the position of potential negative reactions from other customers. Then again, I hate sitting in those mini-booth seats where strangers to stacked up next to me.

But I'm wondering "What Would I Do?" if I was confronted by someone while proposing to Mark. Frankly, I would tell the guy to mind his business and, if necessary, ask to be seated elsewhere. The one thing that bugs me about these shows is how passive the people are when verbally attacked by others. I understand that the show's producers are trying to see how other people would react when witnessing outbursts, but it's maddening to watch people sit there and allow themselves to be bullied by others who have no business inserting themselves in their lives.

So, what would you do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dan Savage Glitter-Bombed for (Among Other Things) Supporting Gay Marriage

I wrote last night about the latest glitter-bomb attack against Dan Savage by activists while speaking this past weekend in Vancouver. However, it wasn't until I was reading Towleroad this morning that I realized Savage was glitter-bombed for, among other reasons, supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples!:
Queer activists have historically used glitter-bombing as a tactic against conservative politicians and high-profile anti-gay bigots, Vancouver protester Lavender Menace notes. Asked if she lumps Savage in with such people, she says people have different ways of contributing to oppressive systems.

"Savage is taking on being a speaker and leader in this movement. We have to take that into account," she adds. "He's part of a broader [group] of gay, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied gay men focused on gay-marriage priorities. We want to say those priorities are messed up."
I'm a white gay man without any disabilities (though my sons both have disabilities) who's primarily focused on marriage issues. Obviously, there are other issues that are important for me but protecting my family and others like it is definitely one of my biggest priorities in life. Granted I'm not a national speaker or leader, but should I be glitter-bombed for being part of the "broader (group) of gay, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied gay men focused on gay-marriage priorities"?

I understand that not all GLBT people want to get married and I understand many of the reasons why. Some see marriage as a source of hetero-conformity. Some see it as an oppressive male-empowering institution. Some see it as a distraction from other just-as-important GLBT priorities. Etc., etc... You might not agree with getting married, but you should have the opportunity to choose whether or not to get married.

Glitter-bombing someone for who they are (i.e., a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied gay man who is committed to legally protecting his family) seems like bad activist to me. And it does nothing but widen divisions between the GLBT communities.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dan Savage Glitter-Bombed Yet Again

Dan Savage was glitter-bombed this past Saturday while speaking in Vancouver. It's the third time that he's been glitter-bombed by activists since November:
Dan Savage was glitter-bombed before his appearance at The Vogue theatre in Vancouver Jan 21, the third such action against the high-profile sex columnist and political commentator in recent months. A group of six activists, who named themselves The Homomilitia for the event, said they confronted Savage as he entered the theatre through a back-alley entrance. In an interview with Xtra after the confrontation, activist Fister Limp Wrist accused Savage of "ableist, racist, transphobic, fat-phobic, sero-phobic and rape-apologist attitudes and views." Activists handed audience members bright pink pamphlets outlining their accusations as they entered the theatre... The pamphlet refers to instances where Savage himself has taken aggressive public stands that go beyond an internal community discussion. A case in point is his campaign in the mid-2000s where he called out AIDS activists that he thought were not aggressive enough in insisting on a condom-only approach to sex. Savage created the impression that "bug chasers" and "givers" were a major trend in the gay community and went so far as to advocate that drug-support payments should be stopped for people who have unsafe sex.
I've written pretty much consistently (except this one time) against glitter-bombing and pointed out that it's juvenile and borderline assaultive. It wasn't until I read this Xtra article that I realized how actually assaultive it actually has been, specifically when Savage was glitter-bombed in Eugene, OR:
I don't remember enough about the Eugene, OR speech to say whether Dan had said anything that night to deserve the glitter bomb. I do remember it happened early and she yelled something about being a rape apologist.

The thing I find really bad on her part is that she threw the large heavy glass container at his head after she threw the glitter. It made a very loud "clunk" when it hit the floor that could be heard throughout the auditorium. After the talk some other students looked and there was a dent in the stage floor where it hit. It barely missed Mr. Savage's head. If it would have hit him, she could have done serious damage to him. A concussion or worse. She doesn't seem to be showing any shame on the blog post that this author, has linked to, but this was seriously dangerous.
Dan Savage has acknowledged that he was almost hit by a jar by one of the Eugene, OR, glitter-bombers this past November. Not only that, but Rose Pedals, the trans activists herself, admits that she tried hitting him with a jar after glitter-bombing him.

I've seen it go back and forth whether or not the jar was made of light plastic or whether it was heavy enough to leave a mark where it hit the floor. Either way, it was not cool. Imagine how this would affect the larger GLBT communities if, instead of Dan Savage, someone threw a jar of glitter at Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann. The backlash would be real and deservedly so. The glitter-bombing needs to stop before it escalates further.

Two New Marriage Equality States?

I don't have much time to write tonight, but I could not let this pass unnoticed.  First (via JoeMyGod), Washington state apparently has enough legislative votes to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples!:
Washington United for Marriage, a broad statewide coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and business associations that will work to obtain civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Washington State in 2012, today cheered the announcement of Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen’s support of marriage equality legislation in Washington State. The bills, SB 6239 and HB 2516 are being heard in senate and house committees today, Monday, January 23rd.

“Washington United commends and congratulates Sen. Haugen for her support of marriage equality,” said Lacey All, Chair for Washington United for Marriage. “We’ve known for a long time that our stories are powerful, and sharing those stories can change hearts and minds. Hundreds of constituents shared their stories of love, commitment and family with Sen. Haugen, and in doing so convinced her that she was doing the right thing for Washington.”
Second (also from JoeMyGod), Maryland's governor plans to introduce a marriage equality bill tomorrow!:
O’Malley (D) is scheduled to host a breakfast gathering of same-sex couples at Government House and then tout his legislation at a news conference afterward. Aides say O’Malley will be joined outside his residence by supportive legislators, clergy and labor leaders. Word of his plans spread as O’Malley prepared the formal release Monday night of his legislative agenda for the 90-day session that began this month. A same-sex marriage bill cleared the Senate last year but fell short in the House of Delegates. In a bid to attract more support, O’Malley’s bill will include more explicit protections for religious organizations opposed to gay nuptials, aides indicated.
It will be interesting to see if this new marriage equality effort will turn out better for Maryland's gay and lesbian families.

This is really great news, either way. It used to be that gay and lesbian families had to rely on the courts to obtain legal protections -- and then we'd watch while legislatures led the charge to disenfranchise gay and lesbian families. Not so much anymore. More and more, state legislatures (not to mention Washington D.C. itself) have stepped up to legislatively provide equal marriage rights and responsibilities for gay and lesbian families. This is great. This is progress.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Santorum Glitter-Bombed Twice this Week

Ho-Hum. Rick Santorum was glitter-bombed this week. Twice. The first incident was by GLBT activists in South Carolina. He was stumping for the GOP nomination at a water park when approximately 20 GLBT protesters began chanting and tossing glitter into the air:
At an unseen cue, the protesters, who had stayed quiet until then, tossed glitter skyward and began shouting indiscernible slogans toward the podium. As police officers escorted them to a spot roughly 100 yards away, they took up a refrain of "Put the queers in the back!"

Arsenio McCormick, one of the protesters, said he wanted to ensure that lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people were included in the political process during the buildup to the GOP primary contest in South Carolina on Saturday. He said it was clear that Santorum and Newt Gingrich were competing for the social-conservative vote in South Carolina, but that Santorum was more sincere.

These glitter-bombers seemed more interested in tossing glitter into the air and making a commotion as opposed to covering Santorum with sparkling glitter. I can't say the same about a second bunch of glitter-bombers, also in South Carolina. This particular batched of glitter-bombers identified themselves as members of the Occupy movement. Towleroad does a great job of summarizing this latest incident:
As the former senator signed autographs, they glitterbombed him, or almost did (it looks like they might have missed), and were dragged away by security personnel while screaming "occ-u-py, occ-u-py." Santorum was all smiles.

Once the Occufolk were out of the hall -- and well out of Santorum's earshot -- they began chanting "bigot, bigot, bigot." One young woman appears to have then glitterbombed one of the security personnel, demonstrating -- well, who knows what she was demonstrating? Presumably not solidarity with America's working stiffs. One young man then screamed "occupy is everywhere," and the Occufolk took up the cry. In the CBS video of the glitterbombing, the protestors then disapeared down a stairwell, and were followed a moment later by a final Occugirl who, in her descent, began a solo chant of "bigot." She cast a last look at the camera, said "You're not welcome in South Carolina," and then was gone, followed by the dismayed stares of South Carolinians.
Once again, I really don't see the point of glitter-bombing political and religious opponents. It's juvenile and borderline assaultive. At least the glitter-bombers in today's first incident were less about hitting Santorum with glitter and more about protesting his campaign. It's still silly and really doesn't seem to faze Santorum, but he's still not getting covered with unknown substances.

The Ordination of Rev. Bill Johnson: Behind the 40th Anniversary of the Coalition for LGBT Concerns

Earlier this week, I wrote about the 40th anniversary of the United Church of Christ's Coalition for LGBT Concerns. One of the significant events that eventually led to the creation of the UCC Gay Caucus (which would eventually change its name to the Coalition for LGBT Concerns) was the ordination of Rev. Bill Johnson in 1972. Johnson is the first openly gay person ordained in modern times by a mainline Christian church.

Check out these two clips to get some background on this particular story:

I wrote about Rev. Johnson's ordination on my old Beliefnet blog. Here is what I wrote at the time:
I posted a question (on a UCC discussion board) asking about the ordination requirement of having a call to a local parish. I asked for clarification. Do you have to be a parish minister in order to be ordained in the UCC? Can you go through the training, serve in some other form of ministry, and become ordained in the UCC? (In a nutshell, I was informed by a couple different folks that you do indeed need to be called to serve as a minister or similar type of ministry program – like a chaplaincy – before becoming ordained or at the very least can be ordained “pending a call”.)

One of the discussion participants referred me to an article about Rev. Bill Johnson’s ordination from the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle... After reading the article, I was left with a couple observations:
This advisory committee interviewed him twice, found his credentials in order, and found him "well qualified in all aspects of training, theology, experience, etc." Nevertheless, the (Church and Ministry) Committee decided in May 1971 by a split vote of 4-3 not to recommend him for ordination.
The Association set up a "Credentials Committee" to review Bill Johnson's qualifications. Association Moderator Bonnie Ploeger, a professional parlimentarian, encouraged his action out of her concern to keep the whole procedure so ecclesiastically sound that no matter what the outcome, the process could not be faulted. This five member committee met for three hours, conversing with Bill Johnson and listening to his paper.

Afterwards they issued a statement affirming Bill Johnson and his current ministry, but voting to recommend against his ordination by a split vote of 3-2
In an article that goes into great detail describing Bill's stylish suit and plump cheeks, as well as several other details that don't actually tell the story but flesh it out, I'm left wondering why these committees find him qualified or his ministry affirmed, but his ordination denied?

Did it basically come down to this phrase?:
"I remain open to God's guidance. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm deeply committed to the parish church," Johnson replied, leaving unsaid what everyone was thinking -- what parish church would call him to be their pastor?
Obviously, there are parish ministers in the UCC who were gay at that time. They just hid it during ordination. Rev. Robert Wood was mentioned earlier in the sexual license chronology. I'm sure that there were more active gay ministers than just him.

What was the reason for his initial ordination rejection?

The question-and-answer part of his ordination reminded me of Gene Robinson’s installation as Bishop within the Episcopal Church of the USA. Check out these questions:
“If we ordain this man, won’t it attract more homosexuals to the church?”

“As a homosexual minister, how would you relate to prostitutes?”

“Wouldn’t you be a negative example to young people?”

“How would you get along without a ‘ministers wife’?”

“Would you be willing to forego the personal pleasures of homosexuality in order to accept ordination?”
I can’t imagine any candidate in the UCC ever being asked if they would be willing to forego the "personal pleasures" of heterosexuality in exchange for their ordination. But that’s the joy of living in a heterosexist society, I guess.

Ultimately, Rev. Johnson was ordained by a vote of 2-1.
After his ordination, Rev. Johnson helped found the organization that would become the Coalition for LGBT Concerns. According to his bio, he spent many years teaching, coordinating the Coalition for LGBT Concerns, advocating for GLBT inclusion within the United Church of Christ, and serving other administrative roles within the national UCC denomination, but it's unclear to me whether or not he ever did lead a church congregation.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Occupy Iowa City Struggling to Locate People Willing to Occupy College Green Park

From the beginning, Occupy Iowa City has experienced a fair amount of support from the local Iowa City government compared to Occupy groups in most other areas of the country. Other cities like New York, Los Angeles, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids have done everything they could to hinder their Occupy movements. Iowa City has allowed Occupy Iowa City the opportunity to camp out at College Green Park since it began back in October.

Ironically, KCJJ reports today that Occupy Iowa City may have finally run into a problem of it's own creation that threatens their continued existence as an occupying movement. Almost none of the Occupy Iowa City protesters are occupying College Green Park anymore:
Attempts to renew a four-month permit for Occupy Iowa City to protest at College Green Park could hit a snag: Most of the protestors aren’t there anymore.

The group’s current permit expires on February 28th. Iowa City Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Moran says any request for renewal would involve a review of how well Occupy Iowa City members followed the requirements of the current permit. Moran notes that most of the original protestors have returned to their homes and have been replaced by homeless people not associated with the group, something that could hurt efforts for a permit renewal.

Dozens of Occupy members still meet twice weekly at indoor locations away from the park. Occupy Iowa City began scaling back their presence in the park last month after multiple skirmishes with the homeless. The group was also forced to take down a makeshift kitchen after the homeless began eating their food.
Which prompted me to summarize on Twitter:
@KCJJ Most of original @OccupyIowaCity folks've left CollegeGreenPark & been replaced by homeless. #IowaCity okay w/occupiers, not homeless.
I guess I don't see why it's okay for the city to allow a bunch of folks with a political message to set up a camp in the middle of a city park, but it's no longer okay for folks to camp in the middle of the same city park when they're there because they have no place else to live. It's the same tents. It's the same liability issues. The biggest difference is that there are fewer signs and a lack of biweekly community gatherings.

It throws into question for me the whole "We are the 99%" meme. Who are the homeless if not part of the 99%? The makeshift kitchen was established to feed those camping at the park. And yet people complained when homeless people sharing the campsite attempted to share the food.

I shared Occupy Iowa City's Statement of Principles when I last wrote about them. Their third principle affirmed the need for safe and affordable housing for all people -- something the homeless occupiers here in Iowa City currently lack. Their ninth principle called for equitable distribution of all resources -- something they declined to do when they shut down their kitchen area. I have always been a bit jaded when it's come to the Occupy Movement -- especially the local Occupy Movement. The shut-down of their kitchen, relocation of their organizational meetings, and abandonment of their occupying camp just strikes me of a form of elitism.

I am curious to see what will happen when the city of Iowa City finally makes a decision about renewing the Occupy Iowa City permit to use College Green Park and I'm equally curious how that group will respond if their permit is formally dropped after they'd -- for the most part -- informally abandoned it themselves.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Duggar Dad Opposed to Transgender Girl Scouts

The Duggars may love Rick Santorum, but they're not terribly fond of transgender Girl Scout members!:
"Our family loves Girl Scout cookies and I don't think allowing a boy in the Girl Scouts is a good thing," (Jim Bob) Duggar told BuzzFeed after a Rick Santorum campaign stop in Laurens(, SC). Duggar and some of his children are on the campaign trail for Rick Santorum in South Carolina this week.

"I think the founders of the Girl Scouts would be truly upset to hear this direction," Duggar said, noting that his wife Michelle is a former Girl Scout troop leader. "If they're wanting to create a new scout program where girls and boys would join together, that might be an option. But whether somebody declares they're a boy or girl and can join either one -- it isn't even logical and it goes against the core principles the group was founded on."
Duggar is referencing the case of Bobby Montoya, a 7-year-old child who likes "girl stuff", who has grown out his hair, and who wears "girl" clothing. (Note: It's difficult for me to figure out which gender pronouns to use in this situation, as Bobby's own mother uses male gender pronouns.) Either way, Bobby was initially turned away from the Girl Scouts, but later allowed to join. Since then, there have been those who've called for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies since Bobby's case went public and there have been presidential candidates like Duggar's own presidential choice, Santorum, who have stayed neutral.

I checked out the Girl Scout website to find out what they're about. Here's their mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Do I think that the inclusion of Bobby Montoya and others like Bobby within the Girl Scouts was envisioned by the Girl Scout founders? Probably not. Do I think that the inclusion of a few gender-variant children violate mission or the spirit of the Girl Scouts? No, not really. The Girl Scouts are big enough to survive and flourish long after Bobby comes and goes from the group. Frankly, Bobby has already demonstrated all three C's in the face of intense international scrutiny. No doubt, Bobby will make this world a much better and interesting place!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Corporation Tries (and Fails) to Register to Vote in Johnson County, Iowa

Remember this past summer when Mitt Romney visited the Iowa State Fair and asserted: "Corporations are people, my friend." He was laughed off the stage, which led to fewer visits to Iowa's various communities during the subsequent months (which probably helped his campaign). But this idea of corporations as people has dogged both Romney and the GOP ever since.

Which leads to today. The day that I'm not at work to witness, a corporation attempted to register to vote here in Johnson County, Iowa. I checked the news to see if I could learn more about it, but so far Johnson County board supervisor Janelle Rettig's Twitter feed is my sole source of information about today's unsuccessful attempt for a corporation to register to vote.  Check it out:
Which was followed by:
Corporation that tried to Register to Vote today at the #Johnsoncounty Auditor's Office was denied. They had a corporate birth certificate
Which concluded with:
Here is the Corporation complete with the Corp Office trying to register to vote at #Johnsoncounty
If corporations are indeed people, then why indeed can't they vote? There are times that I really enjoy living in Johnson County, Iowa.

No Official Winner of the Iowa GOP Caucus

Remember early this month when Mitt Romney was announced the GOP winner of the Iowa Caucus?  And remember early this month when it was announced that he beat Rick Santorum by 8 measly votes? Well... maybe not.

Almost immediately after the initial Romney victory, there were calls for recounts. Now it's been announced that the Iowa GOP kind of screwed the pooch when it came to certifying their Caucus votes. According to The Gazette, voting results from eight of Iowa's 1,774 are missing.  As a result, we have no clue who won the GOP Iowa Caucus:
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will be listed in Republican Party of Iowa records as the winner of the party’s 2012 precinct caucuses, but his 34-vote victory over GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney will be accompanied by an asterisk.

That’s because party officials said Thursday that results from eight of the 1,774 precincts were missing when they conducted the vote certification process, meaning they likely will never know what the final tallies were for the candidates who competed in the Jan. 3 balloting...

Romney, who left Iowa two weeks ago thinking he had outpolled Santorum with a tally of 30,015 votes to the ex-senator’s 30,007 among Iowa Republicans, issued a statement Thursday calling the party’s canvass results “a virtual tie.”
What a mess. People are already criticizing Iowa's "first in the nation" caucus process and now the Iowa GOP is making up look like a bunch of yokels with our missing ballots and unknown election results.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

UCC's Coalition for LGBT Concerns Celebrates 40!

Too often, we all get caught up in the culture war divide between religious entities and the GLBT communities. It's easy to forget that there are Christian communities out there, like my own United Church of Christ, where the issue of GLBT inclusion and affirmation is (for the most part) settled.  Not only are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender pastors ordained alongside our heterosexual peers, but many UCC churches officiate at our weddings, baptize our kids, nurture our families, and advocate for our rights alongside our rites. Not every UCC church is there, but much of the denomination is there and that's a good place to be.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Coalition of LGBT Concerns will be celebrating its 40th birthday in 2012, which is pretty cool. Here is some information about how they plan to celebrate this milestone:
As the UCC's Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns enters its 40th year and prepares to receive its 1,000th Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation, the mood is optimistic.

Andy Lang, the Coalition's executive director, says 2012 will be a year for "looking back" to the pioneers and events that have led to the growth and changes in the organization, while "looking forward" to new ways of expanding the Coalition's impact.

It’s all part of the Coalition’s reassessment process, says Lang. "The Coalition is focused on two strategic priorities," he says. "First is to listen to voices around the church regarding the future of LGBT ministry. … Second is to breathe new life into the Open and Affirming movement..."

The Coalition’s board has ambitious goals for the future. These include: education and resources to help ONA settings better understand and express transgender inclusion; a continued focus on advocacy and LGBT rights; working with the larger welcoming ecumenical and interfaith community; and helping ONA settings establish a more effective presence in their local LGBT communities.
A few years back when I had a blog on Beliefnet, I'd dissected the UCC's anti-gay renewal group, Biblical Witness Fellowship's Chronology of Actions Taken by Various United Church of Christ People and Bodies Regarding Sexual License. I think I got to the early 80's before I grew tired of that project. I decided to look back at my Exploration of the Chronology to see what kicked all of this off in 1972 and 1973. Here were the entries:
1972 - The Rev. William Johnson becomes the first openly homosexual person ordained in modern times to the ministry by an historic or “mainline” Christian church. He is ordained by the Golden Gate Association in Northern California without fulfilling the requirement of having a call to local parish ministry. An extensive bio can be found at: www.lgbtran.org.
1973 - The UCC Executive Council, the main deliberative body of the church between biennial Synods, recommends that sexual orientation should not bar qualified candidates from ordination. The UCC Gay Caucus receives official standing at General Synod. The caucus will later change its name to the United Church Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns. Rev. Bill Johnson is one of the Coalition’s founders.
The UCC Gay Caucus originally started out as a source of support and advocacy for the inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the UCC. It wasn't really until 1985 that they began providing resources to the broader United Church of Christ about assisting churches with becoming affirming towards all people (GLBT and straight).

Rev. Bill Johnson's ordination in 1972 is an extraordinary story and really deserves its own blog article. I think I'll re-visit this particular aspect of the Coalition's 40th anniversary in a separate blog article -- most likely this weekend.

Fastforwarding 40 years into the present, it looks like the Coalition plans to spend this milestone reflecting and reassessing. The Coalition plans to celebrate the big 4-0 this summer (June 25-28) at Elmhurst College near Chicago. I've been venturing into the big city quite a bit over the past couple years. It might be worth it to check out the party. I'll keep you updated.

Monday, January 16, 2012

News Story in Post-Caucus Iowa City: Cat Stuck in Tree//Later Rescued

Remember how Iowa was immersed in political stories and craziness for months and months leading up to early January's Caucus? Almost immediately afterwards, the politicians and the media fled the state for New Hampshire and beyond and now Iowa City's news is relegated to material like this: Cat Causes Concern Along Clinton Street in Iowa City. Don't get me wrong, I've gotten sucked into this poor puss' plight just like half the rest of the city:
People have pleaded, watched and waited for a cat stuck in a tree near the 800 block of Clinton Street to claw its way to the ground. “There’s no reason she’d stay up in the tree and freeze if she could get down on her own,” said concerned resident, Arlene Donnelly.

People living and working nearby say the feline found its way 30 feet up this tree on Thursday night, but can’t seem to find a way back down. Its cries keep homeowners and their pets up at night. Those walking down the street stop and alert neighbors to the curious problem, one that many are already aware of. “A lot of people walking by are concerned,” said Charlie Lasansky, the cat is stuck in a tree on her business property. “They let us know there’s a cat out there.”

Iowa City Police and Fire officials say the cat will come down when it’s ready. Animal Control has posted a sign warning people to stay away, and that the cat has bitten at least two people... The Iowa City Fire Department’s Battalion Chief on duty Sunday said in his 20 years on duty, the city has never had to rescue a cat from a tree. He added that trying to help get the cat down can put firefighters in unnecessary danger and take resources away from other emergencies.
Today following hours of complaints about that abandoned feline by KCJJ's Captain Steve, a successful rescue effort was coordinated by KCJJ, Jeff Waite of Hawkeye Sewer and Drain, Goosetown Painting, and Aero Rental.  Here are some of the details:
Iowa City Police officer Gabe Cook said Jeff Waite of Hawkeye Sewer and Drain got the cat out of the tree at 703 S. Dubuque St. The cat had been there since Thursday. Cook said Waite retrieved the cat using a cherry picker-style lift that he and Goosetown Painting rented from Aero Rental. Cook estimated the cat was at least 30 feet up the tree...

Cook said the cat was “a little agitated,” but did not bite Waite. The cat has some upper respiratory issues.
I'm glad that the cat's finally been rescued. It just seems odd that Iowa City has found itself preoccupied by a tale of conflict and cat-rescuing after so much political bickering and posturing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

School Newspaper Opposes Gay Adoption // Promotes Levitical Death Passage

I learned today (via towleroad) about a high school newspaper editorial that addressed whether or not gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt.  It was actually one of those pro/con editorial pages where each writer is supposed to choose an opposing view.  The con writer, in this situation, chose to bolster his opposition to gay and lesbian adoption by citing Leviticus 20:13: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act: they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them." The con writer shared two additional anti-gay Leviticus passages about why gay and lesbian couples should not adopt.

Of course, the con side made a few errors.  First, Wisconsin (where this editorial was written) actually allows non-Christians to adopt.  Second, Wisconsin actually allows gay and lesbian individuals to adopt and -- even though it doesn't allow for second-parent adoptions -- it allows for the non-adoptive parent in a gay or lesbian relationship to file for guardianship of their child.

The biggest mistake about basing one's opposition to gay and lesbian couple adoption on the Leviticus execution instruction had to be the inability of anyone working for the school, the school paper, or the editorial writer himself to consider that there are actually kids who attend classes in that school district who actually have gay parents.  Imagine reading your school paper and learning that it now only is advocating against your family but using a death-passage to support it.

At least one such child didn't have to imagine this scenario. He took the school newspaper home to his dad and step-dad, who complained to the school superintendent. The superintendent apparently agreed that there were problems with the editorial and promised to review the paper's editorial procedures. Which might mean that ultimately nothing changes, but at least he publicly admitted that there were problems with that anti-adoption editorial.

There are currently over 100,000 children currently available for adoption right now here in the United States of America.  10% of children aged 6 or older are being adopted by gay and lesbian parents and 21% of the children being adopted by gay adoptive parents alone have physical disabilities. It's great for people like the con editorial writer to talk about this being a Christian nation and to cite Dr. Paul Cameron and to talk about the wonderful Christian goal of banning adoption except unless it's by heterosexual adoptive parents. But it neglects the fact that there currently aren't enough people -- gay or het -- stepping up to meet the current adoption needs of this nation. By eliminating one prominent batch of adoptive parents -- i.e., gay men and lesbians -- he's actually making things worse for the many children in this country who currently lack any parents, much less the very specific set of parents that this con editorial writer solely endorses.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Fist to the Face from the Pharmacist

Alliteration is fun, especially when it comes from Iowa.  Check out this clip from Council Bluffs, IA, where a pharmacist found himself fighting a knife-wielding robber:

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Own Private Pony

You know that you've always secretly dreamed of designing your own My Little Pony.  Thanks to this blog, I discover this Pony Creator and used it to create my own Pony.  Check it out:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Woman Files Suit Against Avis Rent A Car // Upset that they Offer Discouts to GLBT Groups

Lynn Evenchik of Arizona recently rented a vehicle for one week from Avis Rent A Car in California.  She later learned that she would have received a discount of 20-25% off her rental price if she was a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association or the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  She has now filed a class-action suit against Avis alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation:
“These unfair and unlawful business practices result in many consumers who are not affiliated with those organizations paying substantially higher rental rates than those made available to gay and lesbian renters,” the complaint states.

Evenchik is seeking damages and restitution on behalf of anyone who rented a car from Avis since the company began offering the discounts, which is believed to have begun around September 2010.

She also seeks an injunction to stop Avis from continuing to offer reduced rates to members of the gay and lesbian organizations.
A quick bit of research finds that Avis also offers discounts to members of other groups like AARP, AAA, and USAA.  Additionally, Avis doesn't offer discounts to GLBT people.  It offers discounts to members of those groups.  I'm not a member of any of those groups.  I don't get a discount.  Additionally, if she was really interested in securing IGLTA's discount rates, what's to stop her from joining up?  Not them.  They don't require that you be GLBT to join.

People like to complain about frivolous lawsuits.  This is one of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By the Numbers: Gay Adoption Edition

I read this article and ran across a lot of interesting statistics. Follow this link to find other links to the sources of those stats:

*21% of children adopted by gay men have a physical disability -- compared to 2% of children adopted by the overall population of adoptive parents.

*10% of children adopted by gay and lesbian parents are 6 years or older.

*Half of those older adoptees spent time in foster care.

*There are currently over 100,000 children in America alone who are waiting to be adopted.

Meanwhile, most of the Republican candidates for the President of the United States of America are seeking to ban gays and lesbians from adopting children. Rick Santorum has been particularly venomous towards gay and lesbian families. He sees no intrinsic value with our families. He believes that it would be better for children to have parents who are absent through abandonment or incarceration as opposed to raised by two moms or two dads.

Through work and my personal life, I can attest to the large number of gay and lesbian adoptive parents who have adopted older and/or disabled (physically AND mentally) children. It's fairly obvious that Mark and I have raised two boys with disabilities (one visual and the other cognitive). I also know a lesbian couple who sought out and adopted children in need of cleft palate repairs. I know a gay male couple one county over that worked way too hard to adopt their kindergarten-aged son, a young man with cognitive and behavioral disabilities. I know a lesbian couple who not only adopted a pair of older children (one with fragile X and a host of recurring medical ailments), but who cared for an extremely medically fragile girl who'd been terribly damaged in the womb by her meth-abusing birth mom. Unfortunately, that little girl is now dead, but she was loved for nearly seven bumpy years (and continues to be loved long after her death). 

I know lots and lots of gay and lesbian individuals and couples who've taken in older kids and disabled kids and sibling sets over the years. Don't get me wrong. I know heterosexual parents who've done the same and they're just as committed to their adoptive children as any of us gay parents. But given that gay people are supposed to be somewhere around 2 or 3 percent of the population, it's unbelievable how many of the adoptive children that I know who have gay or lesbian parents in this corner of the planet!

I just wish that those seeking to run this country would listen to those who actually work with foster kids and adoption services. With some exceptions, most believe that everybody should be welcomed to go through the home study process and at least be assessed as appropriate adoptive families. Not everyone is a good choice. I get that. But everyone (gay or straight) should be given the choice to be offer their home and their heart to children in need.

Do Comic Book Parallel Universes Promote Polygamy?

Does the concept of parallel universes in comic books (or television or movies or novels) promote polygamy when they promote alternate pairings between their various characters?  That's the idea being thrown out by Christian Response Alerts website while discussing Life With Archie #16, which featured the wedding of Kevin Keller and Clay Walker:
In 2010, the comic series also had Archie marrying both Veronica and Betty in parallel universes – thus introducing the idea of polygamy to its readers.
To be clear, Archie Comics did not create the concept of parallel universes when it launched the comic book, Life With Archie.  Parallel universes have existed for as long as I remember and they're a staple at all the major comic book companies.  DC Comics has multiple versions of its main characters on Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, etc.  Marvel Comics has published multiple series of What If?, which asked readers what it would be like if major events happened differently (such as, what if Spider-Man's Uncle Ben hadn't been killed?).  Not to mention that a good number of Marvel's X-Men come from alternate timelines.

Is Invisible Woman a polygamist because she married Sub-Mariner in What If? series 1, issue 21?  After all, we all know that Sue married Mr. Fantastic in mainstream Marvel Universe.  What about the time that Jean Grey married Wolverine in What If? series 2, issue 60 even through she'd already married Cyclops in the mainstream Marvel Universe?

What silliness.  Anyone who reads comic books or who has any general foothold into the worlds of science fiction knows all about parallel realities.  Besides the fact that we're talking about fictional people in fictional situations, it's clearly understood that we're not talking about polygamy when one version of Wolverine is married to Jean Grey while another version of Wolverine is married to Mariko, just like it's understood that Captain America didn't take on a second job when he became President of the United States of America back in the 1970s in an early issue of What If?!

This is the type of purposely obtuse observation that makes people look foolish.  Either they don't understand the medium that they're criticizing, or they do and they're purposely trying to confuse people who don't.  My tip to Christian Response Alerts and others like them?  Stop trying to be clever while criticizing stuff like the Keller/Walker wedding in LWA #16.  It makes you look out of touch and dilutes your actual point of disagreement.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 01/10/12

Nero's enjoying another fun-filled afternoon at doggy daycare today.  He was pretty excited when I dropped him off during the noon hour.  Lately he's gotten into the habit of jumping onto his hind legs when I get to Lucky Pawz and giving me a hug and a kiss, which is pretty sweet.  Anyway, check it out:

Is the Ku Klux Klan in Cedar Rapids, IA?

Here's something you don't hear too much about these day.  Folks in nearby Cedar Rapids woke up to KKK literature at their home.

Tyrone White and his wife, a biracial couple living in Cedar Rapids, found a KKK flier outside their home with the following message: "NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH.  You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!"  Needless to say, the pamphlet caused them more stress than comfort.

According to the police and the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, there's not much that the city can do outside of conduct a general investigation.  And unless the leaflets are directed at specific individuals, their distribution does not count as a hate crime or a form of hate speech.  Needless to say, everyone interviewed in the two articles are concerned and want to find out more information about these fliers.

Fortunately, I've not heard of any such incidents here in Iowa City.  Our household isn't what you'd call "Klan-friendly" (i.e., two gay dads raising a biracial son and I'm sure they'd have something to say about the poodle, too), so I'm sure we'd be some of the first on the phone if we ever woke to Klan literature on our front porch.

What would you do if you found Klan literature in your mailbox?  Do you think the Klan has a prevalent presence in eastern Iowa or do you think these are the actions of a couple Klansmen?

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's Up with Tim Tebow?

I was catching up on Twitter earlier today and came across one that led me to a blog post with the image immediately to the left of this paragraph.

I've written about Tim Tebow a couple different times.  I understand that he professes a strong faith and that he has his fair share of Christian fans.  But I've never understood why people think that God puts so much time, attention, and preference into different sports teams.  Is God blessing the Broncos because Tebow prays?

Maybe God is indeed trying to tell us something, but what?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kevin Keller Gets Married // My Top Trio Comic Book Gay Weddings

I've been anxiously waiting for this particular blog post for roughly three months.  Back in early October, Archie Comics announced that they would be writing to wedding of their gay comic book character, Kevin Keller, in issue #16 of "Life With Archie".  Kevin was initially introduced to Riverdale a long time ago.  He was so popular that he very quickly got his own comic book.  Despite being pleased about his creation by and continued and prominent presence in Archie Comics, I'd actually never read anything anything with Kevin in it.  I was first introduced to Archie Comics (and to comic books, in general) through those little Archie digests that you can purchase at grocery stores.  I still pick them up about once monthly and I often leaf through them with hopes of catching a story with Kevin in them, but he's never there. 

The only other Archie Comics comic book that I ever pick up is Life With ArchieLWA is an interesting serial comic book.  Each comic has two separate stories that are set about 5-10 years after the Gang graduated from high school.  One series of stories shares the story about what would have happened if Archie married Veronica and the other tells what would have happened if Archie married Betty.  There are lots of similarities and there are also lots of distinct differences.  More recently, there's been some wonky time travel and quantum parallel universe stuff that's made me scratch my head a little bit, but mostly I've really been enjoying this comic book series.

Which leads us to issue #16, which was just released this past week.  I finally picked up my copy last night and read my first comic book story with Kevin Keller in it.  His wedding storyline (er, story lines) was pretty cool.  Like his father, adult Kevin Keller is a war hero.  My understanding is that he and his new husband will be remaining in Riverdale in future issues of LWA, so I look forward to learning more about this new character.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about creating a list of my favorite comic book gay weddings.  Unfortunately, even though there are lots of GLBT characters in comic books, there really haven't been that many GLBT weddings.  I'd hoped that I could scrape together a Favorite Five list, but I couldn't even come up with that many gay weddings.  Instead, I proudly present my Top Trio List of Comic Book Gay Weddings with hope that I can someday update this topic with a Favorite Five (or better yet Top Ten!) list someday in the future:

3. Apollo and Midnighter: Wildstorm Comics (which eventually folded into DC Comics) features a kick-ass team of heroes called The Authority.  Sick of the political, commercial, and social injustices that they see every day on our planet, they decided to use their immense power and resources to re-shape society, whether or not society wants to be re-shaped!  Two of the team's members are Apollo and Midnighter.  These two are essentially ramped up homages of Superman and Batman.  They are also an unapologetic gay couple.  They eventually adopted their reincarnated team leader and later on got married.  I would have probably pushed their wedding up further on the list of weddings, except that I never read it.  I kind of fell away from The Authority and missed it when they eventually got married.  But their wedding was pretty significant in that it was, I'm pretty sure, the first gay wedding published by a major comic book publisher.

2. Clarice Clifford and Toni Ortiz of Dykes to Watch Out For Get Civil Unionized: DTWOF was a great comic strip that told the stories of a diverse group of mostly lesbians and bi-females that was published from the early 80s until eventually ending in 2008.  The strip has been compiled into numerous collections and I strongly encourage you to check them out, keeping in mind that DTWOF is unapologetically political and sex-friendly.  Two of the characters who I really enjoyed -- partially because their lives mirrored the path that I eventually wanted to tread -- were Clarice and Toni.  They were professionals in a long-term relationship who raised their son Rafi and were committed marriage equality activists.  Like Mark and I, Clarice and Toni had a private commitment ceremony when legal marriage was not an option for them.  They eventually traveled to Vermont to get civil unionized.  Check out this clip.  They instantly went from stressed and angry to joyous over their renewed commitment.  It really made me laugh.  Unfortunately, their story soured as DTWOF slowly winded down its run.  Like many marriage equality activists, Toni and Clarice slowly found themselves focused more on their goal (i.e., gaining the legal right to marry) and less on the bigger picture (i.e., nurturing their actual marriage).  The couple eventually broke up and began coordinating childcare duties as divorced moms.

1. Kevin Keller and Dr. Clay Walker Get Married: I know that this just came out this week, but it was a great storyline.  Kevin and Clay actually got married in both story lines, though the actual wedding mostly appeared in the "Archie Married Betty" world.  Here's how they met, Kevin was fighting somewhere in the Middle East and ended up getting badly injured saving one of his team.  Clay nursed Kevin back to health and many months later they met up again and began dating and eventually the two decided to get married.  What I like about it?  It's a good romance.  It's not all flashy.  It's two guys who came back to their hometown to get married amongst family and friends.  Check out Major Glibb's introduction during the second story's wedding:
Friends and family, neighbors and visitors to our fair town, we're gathered to unite two people who managed somehow to find one another.  That anybody can ever find real love is a bit of a wonder.  For Kevin and Clay it took a war, a heroic rescue resulting in a wound, a long convalescence, and months of therapy. 

But in the end, it was a chance meeting that proved to be the wonder!  A coincidence... perhaps.  Others insist these things are destiny!  Frankly, chance or fate, we'll never know.  And it doesn't matter.  All that does is the end result.  All that matters is that every person finds that other person who is, for whatever reason, the one for them. 

Only when they do, do some ask me to say the following: Dearly beloved, we are gathered to join these people in matrimony...

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you... Lieutenant Kevin and Dr. Clay Walker-Keller!
This those final words, Clay and Kevin walk hand-in-hand through a crowd of friends and family into their new future.  They got married in this issue and that's a wonderful process for Archie Comics' readers to witness.  Now I look forward to seeing their new life together.  I want to see their joys and their stumbles and the general minutia of married life.  It's important for people to see that married gays are fairly similar to married heterosexuals.  Life With Archie, through Kevin and Clay, has that opportunity.  And I hope they seize it responsibly.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Santorum: It's Better to Have an Imprisoned Father than Two Gay Mothers

Rick Santorum continues to rail against gay and lesbian families in New Hamphire.  Most likely, he's really not speaking to the people of New Hampshire, the majority of whom support gay people and our families.  Instead, he's speaking to the his supporters down in South Carolina who aren't quite so supportive of us.  Check out his latest from yesterday:
For the second time in as many days, Rick Santorum waded into the issue of gay marriage, suggesting it was so important for children to have both a father and mother that an imprisoned father was preferable to a same-sex parent.

Citing the work of one anti-poverty expert, Santorum said, "He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children's lives."

Allowing gays to marry and raise children, Santorum said, amounts to "robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to. You may rationalize that that isn't true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it's true."

At a private boarding school Friday, the Republican presidential candidate's voice grew emotional as he argued that only a man and woman should be able to marry. "Marriage is not a right," Santorum said. "It's a privilege that is given to society by society for a reason.... We want to encourage what is the best for children."

The audience, half students and half local residents, reacted with snorts and applause. The students at Dublin School, which runs from ninth through 12th grade, were primed for Santorum's visit, said headmaster Brad Bates. He said three students in the audience had gay parents, though they were not among those who asked about the topic.
Mindful that I'm walking a bit on egg shells here given that the birth father of one my sons has spent most of my son's life in prison, but I'm calling bull.  Do you really believe that the three students sitting in the same room listening to Santorum's audience would be better off if they had one imprisoned parent versus two parents of the same sex?

I know many gay moms.  A few are so-so parents, but most of them are great.  Most of their kids are doing great.  It's insulting to them and their kids, not to mention gay dads like myself who are there for our own kids day in and day out, to imply that our kids would be better off "abandoned" by one birth parent instead of in their intact two-parent homes.

The children of gay parents are not robbed of anything.  They have parents who love them and care for them and discipline them and take them to sports events and play with them and nurture them and prepare them for adulthood like most good parents do for their kids.  I would argue instead that Santorum is attempting to rob gay families -- children like those three students who were there listening to him at Dublin School -- of our respect and dignity.  Parenting children is difficult enough without political peeves like Rick Santorum mucking up the atmosphere with his false and insulting insinuations about us.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Iowa Birth Certificates Needs to Reflect Both Married Parents -- Even if the Parents are Two Moms

Yesterday, a Polk County district judge ruled that the Iowa Department of Public Health cannot refuse to place the names of both married moms on the birth certificates of their kids.  Previously, the non-biological mother would have to go through the process of second-parent adoption to gain legal rights over her child and to be placed on the birth certificate:
Heather Lynn Martin Gartner and Melissa McCoy Gartner, both of Des Moines sued the Iowa Department of Public Health in 2010... Camilla Taylor, the Gartners' attorney, had argued that the state lists married men on birth certificates, even when it's impossible for them to be the biological father.

State attorney Heather Adams, during the court case, argued that the health department has extended rights to same-sex married couples since an Iowa Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages. She had said the department has no concerns about two women raising a child, citing "solid scientific evidence" that children of gay couples are as healthy as those raised by a man and a women.

However, the state law's wording in regards to parentage is gender-specific, and not open to interpretation, she argued.

Iowa code states if a woman is married, the husband is the father, absent a court order that says otherwise. "If I had to summarize the department's case in one sentence, it would be this: It is a biological impossibility for a woman to ever legally establish paternity of a child," Adams had argued.
I know a lot of lesbian moms who spent a lot of money that could have been spent more wisely on things like their newly-born baby than on attorney fees for their second-parent adoption. Iowa marriage law says that both legally married parents are the legal parents of their children, even when one is not biologically connected to the child (such as in the case of artificial insemination or adultery) and that the birth certificates need to reflect this.  I'm sure that people will not like this, but it's the law.  Fortunately, the courts ruled in favor of treating all married parents equally in this situation. And that's a good thing.

Does Marriage Lead to Polygamy?

Rick Santorum was speaking to a group of college students earlier today in Concord, NH, and was asked about his active opposition to gay and lesbian people and our families. This is how he responded:
"So if you’re not happy unless you’re married to five other people, is that OK?” Santorum asked one student. “Reason says that if you think it’s okay for two [individuals to marry], then you have to differentiate for me why it’s not okay for three,” he argued later.

Basically, he didn't answer the question.  Instead, he redirected the discussion to something else: polygamy.  Santorum pulled what I call the "gays can't marry because if they are allowed to marry how can we prevent polygamy" tactic.  By this logic, how can we allow anyone to get legally married, gay or straight, in this country?  Why should polygamy be outlawed when we allow men and women to marry each other?  Polygamy is the marital union of one man and several wives.  It's been part of most religions and cultures through the ages.  Why should we honor the happiness of a man and his wife while denying the happiness of a man and his wives?  Allowing legalized monogamy between a man and a woman surely establishes a slippery slope towards polygamous lifestyles.

I've long since believed that you don't really have an argument against marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples if your reason for opposing it is that it might lead to other types of marriage, such as polygamy.  If you are opposed to gay marriage, tell me why you are opposed to gay marriage.  Don't tell me that my marriage might someday lead to polygamy.  And if you are frightened of polygamy, tell me why you are frightened of polygamy.  But it's lazy logic to avoid explaining your opposition to my marriage and others like it by redirecting the conversation to some other type of marriage that really has little to do with mine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Romney Wins the Republican Iowa Caucus and Highlights the Moderate/Conservative Divide Within the GOP

It's been a busy day at work, but you already knew that Mitt Romney (barely) won the Iowa Caucus.  He squeaked past Rick Santorum by 8 votes.  But a win's a win.  Now all of the politicians and reporters have left Iowa and are taking over New Hampshire, so I'm fairly happy right now.

Troy Price of One Iowa made an extremely important observation about the divide between fiscal and social conservatives and how it played out with last night's virtual tie here in Iowa:
“This extremely close outcome shows that in spite of the millions of dollars and constant campaigning on the backs of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in Iowa, the attempt by social conservatives to dominate the caucuses simply didn’t work,” Price said. “Rather, this tie between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney shows the deep divisions that exist between social conservatives who want to harm loving and committed couples, and fiscal conservatives who prioritize job creation and a smaller government.”
The truth is that the Republicans are not completely populated by people who oppose gay people, our marriages, and our families.  My husband caucused in the local GOP caucus last night.  At one point, they were reviewing the different candidates stances on different issues.  Marriage equality came up (as in, Candidate-X opposes marital rights for gay and lesbian couples) and people began booing.  This was the only subject that brought out a negative response from the people at that caucus.  Mark heard some people question why it was anyone's business to oppose marital rights for gays or lesbians.  Granted, this is Johnson County and it's one of the more liberal portions of the state.  But the GOP Caucus was led by Romney and Paul. 

I don't think it's a coincidence that those who support Romney and Paul over Santorum and the rest of the pack also support marriage equality in this state.  This is the divide within the Republican base.  Do they want to promote all families and promote sound economic policy for everyone or do they want to enable the government to disenfranchise gay and lesbian families and allow that effort to distract folks from economic policy?

And I do honestly believe that social moderates on the issue of marriage equality will gradually nudge out the culture warriors who do little but lob grenades at GLBT families and voters.  It's already happening.  New York wouldn't have marriage equality if it wasn't for fair-minded Republicans.  Don't Ask/Don't Tell wouldn't be repealed if GOP legislators weren't willing to step forward and promote equality.  The tide is slowly shifting and people are realizing that life won't improve for the majority just by making GLBT people increasingly more miserable.

Marriage equality is a conservative principle.  It builds and promotes family and stability.  Married men, both gay and straight, are physically and emotionally healthier (statistically speaking) than unmarried men.  Our kids benefit from married parents.  Our economic goals become more mature when we're married.  Most fair-minded people recognize this when they sit down and realistically consider the impact of gay marriage on society.  We just need to hold back the culture warriors long enough for the moderates to rebuild their numbers and demonstrate political courage.