Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Andrew Marin Discusses Christian/GLBT Bridge-Building on "Different Drummers"

I've written before about my friend Andrew Marin. He's a professional Christian/GLBT bridge-builder and writer of Love Is An Orientation. He and another of my Chicago buds, Darren Calhoun, appeared on a recent episode of Different Drummers. They talked about The Marin Foundation and the struggles that exist between the Christian and the GLBT communities. Check it out:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"One Million Moms" Protest Gay Wedding Story in "Life With Archie" // UPDATE!!!: Archie Comics Responds

Surely you remember Life With Archie #16, which came out last month and featured the wedding of Archie Comics character Kevin Keller to Clay Walker. Life With Archie is a magazine format comic book that tells of the not-too-distant future where an adult Archie Andrews married Veronica, as well as a parallel storyline where Archie married Betty. Archie Comics' resident gay teen, Kevin Keller, is an adult war hero in Life With Archie and married Dr. Clay Walker in both story lines in that issue. It was a sweet storyline that did its best to distract readers from the train wreck that once was Archie and Veronica's marriage, as well as all of the other bits of chaos that Riverdale's other former teens have made of their young adult lives.

Fast forward to today. One Million Moms (an off-shoot of the American Family Association that enjoys issuing boycotts of businesses that hire gay people or provide material with any gay material) launched an attack on Toys 'R' Us for selling Life With Archie #16. They don't like comic books with two married men and they want you to do something about it:
Select Toys 'R' Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. The front cover reads "Just Married" with two men marrying and one is wearing a service uniform. This comic book is being sold in select stores across the country. One example is the Queensbury, NY location in the upstate New York area.

Toys 'R' Us employees do not actually set up the displays; they leave this up to the vendor, but they should be aware of the merchandise being sold in their stores nonetheless. These comic books are sold at the front checkout counters so they are highly visible to employees, managers, customers and children. Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, which is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.

A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys 'R' Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.

TAKE ACTION: Please send Toys 'R' Us an email letter requesting they remove all same-sex "Just Married - Archie" comic books immediately from their shelves.
My experience is that kids actually "get it" when it comes to gay couples and marriage equality. They don't always get the details, but I would guess that most kids don't get all of the intimate details of married heterosexual adults. But they get that some men love men and some women love women just like most women love most men. I have seen this played out for years as me, my husband, and our kids have interacted with other families and their kids. The parents fret about it and the kids get it. But let's set that fact aside.

One Million Moms have set themselves up to succeed with this e-mail request for parents to write to Toys 'R' Us and demand that they remove each and every issue of Life With Archie #16. Why do I say this? Because Life With Archie #17 just came out last week. That means that retailers are either in the process of removing the left-over gay wedding issue from their stores or they are in the process of doing this. Life With Archie #17 does not feature any gay weddings, though Kevin and Clay are given free food for their honeymoon trip by Jughead.

So One Million Moms won! They got you to retroactively demand that an issue of a comic book featuring a gay wedding get replaced by the next post-wedding issue one week after the new comic book came out. Congratulations on your stunning victory, OMM!

Updated on 02/29/12: Archie Comics CEO, Jon Goldwater, issued the following response to the One Million Moms' complaint about Life With Archie #16:
"We stand by Life with Archie #16," Goldwater writes. "As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/One Million Moms feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people."

Nero at Daycare -- 02/28/12

Looks like Nero's having a wild and crazy afternoon at doggy daycare today. Check it out:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Majority of Iowans Oppose Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage

The Des Moines Register did a poll to see how many Iowans support a constitutional amendment banning gay and lesbian couples like my own family from legally marrying and found that most Iowans oppose the Iowa Supreme Court decision that paved the way for marriage equality. But they also found that a pretty strong majority oppose amending the state's constitution to involuntarily annul our marriages.

When asked whether or not those polled favored or opposed an initiative to ban same-sex marriage, 56% opposed that initiative while only 38% favored it. 6% were not sure after nearly three years of marriage equality in this state.

When asked whether or not those polled favored or opposed the "recent" (i.e., three year old) ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court that allowed gay and lesbian couples to legally marry in Iowa, 22% strongly favored and 8% favored the decision while 29% strongly opposed it and 7% opposed it. Meanwhile, 33% don't give a toss and 1% aren't sure about the whole thing.

Other stats from the article indicate at 34% of those under 35 support a constitutional ban while 43% of those who are 55+ support a constitutional ban on gay and lesbian families. Additionally 64% of Republicans favor a constitutional ban while 35% of independents and 15% of Democrats favor a constitutional ban on gay and lesbian families.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Santorum: Obama is a Snob for Encouraging People to go to College

I don't get Rick Santorum. He was speaking at an event where he called President Barack Obama a snob for wanting "everyone" to go to college. His concern is that your child will be intellectually brainwashed by liberal professors if they go to college. His plan is to create employment opportunities for people so they won't have to go to college. Listen to it here:

Keep in mind that people with college degrees are less likely to be unemployed and their wages are typically higher. According to 2010 Bureau of Labor statstics, people aged 25 and older are more likely to be unemployed if they don't have any degree and their wages are typically four times less than those with a professional degree or a doctoral degree.

Here is how it breaks down (keep in mind that these are 2010 statistics, but I would guess that the numbers aren't drastically different in 2012):

*High school drop-outs have a median weekly wage of $444. The unemployment rate for this group was at 14.9%

*High school graduates have a median weekly wage of $626 and their overall unemployment rate of 10.3%.

*Those who took some college classes, but didn't actually obtain their degree have a median weekly wage of $712 and have an overall unemployment rate of 9.2%.

*Those with an associate degree share a median weekly wage of $767 and an unemployment rate of 7.0%.

*Those with a bachelor's degree have a median weekly wage of $1,038 and an unemployment rate of 5.4%.

*Those with a master's degree have a median weekly wage of $1,272 and share an unemployment rate of 4.0%.

*Those with a professional degree have a median weekly wage of $1,610 and an unemployment rate of 2.4%.

*Finally, those with a doctoral degree share a median weekly wage of $1,550 and an unemployment rate of 1.9%.

I understand that not everyone wants to go to university and not everyone is suited for university classes. Most of my post-high school nephews are seeking associate degrees for necessary technical careers.

That said, why does Rick Santorum encourage people to stay out of college? Personally, I want my son to go to college. I want him to study for a career that will allow him to provide for himself and his future family and to help him prepare for his eventual retirement. I know many people who, for a variety of reasons, never received any post-high school training. They struggle. They struggle with low wages. They struggle with a lack of health or retirement benefits. Are these statistics universally true for everyone on either side of this education scale? No. But, generally speaking, Santorum is discouraging a level of education that helps to push people up the scale for higher income and standard of living.

Friday, February 24, 2012

By the Numbers

I haven't done a "By the Numbers" post in a while. Thought it might be a fun way to catch up on some material as we head into the weekend:

8 -- Maryland's Senate passed a marriage equality bill yesterday by a vote of 25-22! Governor Martin O'Malley has pledged to sign this bill into law, which will make Maryland the 8th state where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry! Of course, the bill hasn't even been signed into law yet and social conservatives are already planning a voter referendum to disenfranchise gay and lesbian families in Maryland.

$206 -- That's how much Quantrel Ward of Lincoln, NE, is accused of stealing along with three other guys (who have yet to be identified or arrested, according to the linked article) from a Cedar Rapids, IA, resident during a January 18th armed home robbery. Police arrested him yesterday and claim that Ward was positively identified as one of the robbers and that he indirectly corroborated his involvement through a series of text messages! Ward is being held in the Linn County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 cash bond. $20,000 case bond for threatening someone at knife point and tying him up in his home so that you can steal $206 in stolen electronics. Doesn't seem worth it...

1,000 -- Earlier this week, the United Church of Christ welcomed its 1,000th Open & Affirming (ONA) church into the denomination! That new ONA church was Pillar of Love Fellowship UCC of Chicago (my favorite big city!):
Pillar of Love is an African-American congregation with a predominantly LGBT membership, says Phyllis Pennese, pastor. The church is also affiliated with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a movement led by the Rev. Yvette Flunder. "We're excited about this honor," Pennese said, "and we're planning to join the celebration when the Coalition's National Gathering comes to our home town in June."

"Pillar of Love, like other ONA churches, is a community where LGBT individuals and families can be restored to wholeness," said Pennese. "Our church motto is that 'we have the courage to be all that God created.' I do believe that because so many of us in the LGBT and black LGBT community have been abused and brutalized in the church, the only way we can heal and grow and walk confidently into what God has called us to be is to be showered with love."
Pillar of Love's welcome as the denomination's 1,000th ONA church will be celebrated this summer at the Coalition's annual National Gathering this June near Chicago. As exciting as it was to welcome Pillar of Love Fellowship UCC at ONA Church #1,000, the UCC also welcome ONA Church #1,001 (Christ Church of Kennebunk, ME) and #1,0002 (Congregational UCC of Decorah, IA -- Home of my old college!!!!) this week! Hurray!

$1,500,000 -- How much Republican lawmakers expect to spend fighting that unconstitutional DOMA lawsuit, Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Creekside Market in Iowa City Robbed // Have You Seen This Guy?

Late last night when I was struggling to fall asleep for the second night in a row, a cashier at one of Iowa City's gas stations was the victim of an armed robbery:
According to the victim, a black male entered the store, jumped up and over the counter and grabbed the victim from behind in a choke hold. He then held a knife against her neck and demanded she empty the money out of the cash register. The victim complied and the male fled the scene in an unknown direction with an undisclosed amount of money. The victim received minor injuries and was treated by paramedics at the scene.

The suspect was described as a black male, approximately 5'10", 180 pounds, wearing a light-colored plaid jacket with a blue shirt or mask covering his face.

Check out the attached video and see if you recognize the guy in this video. It's difficult to make out the features of this robber, what with his hooded jacket and everything. You can earn a reward of up to $1,000 if your tip leads to his arrest. You can contact the Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers at 358-8477.

Nero at Daycare -- 02/23/12

Nero loves going to daycare. He does this twirling jump thing everytime he walks into the building and then jumps up and gives me a hug when I pick him up later in the afternoon. I guarantee that he will be sleeping soundly tonight. Check it out:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DOMA = Unconstitutional

Almost a year ago, the Department of Justice concluded that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as applied to legally married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional and decided against defending related court cases in federal court. As a result, the House of Representatives hired a really expensive private firm to defend DOMA in federal court. Earlier today, those high-priced lawyers failed badly. A George W. Bush appointed federal judge ruled that DOMA is indeed unconstitutional!

This particular court case is Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management. Karen Golinski sought and was denied spousal health benefits for her wife from her employer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco. The OPM argued that DOMA prevented them from treating Golinski's legal wife equally to the spouses of other federal employees. During the course of this case history, the President and the Attorney General concluded that DOMA is "unconstitutional and inappropriate to defend". Once the House's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) took over the case, things wrapped up favorably in Golinski's favor. You can read the ruling here.

I'm sure that the political right will use this court ruling to rail against gay families and our marriages. But the situation remains that -- campaign fear-mongering and rhetoric aside -- they cannot adequately defend blatantly discriminatory laws against gay and lesbian families. We see this over and over in the various courts, which of course if why they want to change the basic rules of the U.S. Constitution itself to disenfranchise our families.

Political fallout aside, I'm extremely excited about this court ruling. It points out once again the ridiculous nature of DOMA. How is heterosexual marriage defended when somebody is prevented from insuring her legal spouse? The fact is that DOMA doesn't protect marriage. It just maligns and disenfranchises a small number of American families -- either by preventing those families from securing the legal protections, rights, and responsibilities of marriage itself or by treating the legal marriages of gay families like my own differently than the other legal marriages around us. It makes no sense and it's ultimately indefensible.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are You Ready for Occupy Riverdale???

I didn't know whether to believe the rumors -- and I still can't believe it -- but my increasingly favorite comic book company, Archie Comics, is going to launch the latest Occupy protest. I'm talking about Occupy Riverdale, which apparently pits Riverdale's 1% (i.e., the Lodges and Reggie Mantle) and against Riverdale's 99% (i.e., pretty much everyone else)! This story of income inequality will unfold this summer in Archie Comics #635. The Bleeding Comics article that I link to indicates that Archie Comics hasn't confirmed this storyline, but Archie Comics' own website confirms the story.

This isn't the first Occupy storyline in a comic book. In fact, just last week I read that Marvel Comics will feature a storyline in X-Men Legacy #265-266 called "Occupy the Jean Grey School", featuring the occupation of She-Hulk, Falcon, and Moon Knight at Wolverine's Jean Grey School. It's not quite the same thing, but the title is appropriate for this post.

Which got me wondering... If you could join any comic book community's Occupy Movement, which one would it be?

Occupy Latveria?
Occupy Atlantis?
Occupy Fortress of Solitude?
Occupy Savage Land?
Occupy Utopia?
Occupy Gotham City?

I want to know!!! Personally, I'd join the Occupy Wundagore Mountain. The High Evolutionary has been mucking around with the locals and the wildlife for way too long. What corner of the comic book community would you occupy?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Colorado-Based Catholic Charities Threatens to Shut Down When Civil Unions Law Passes -- Despite Religious Exemptions for Charitable Services!

Colorado is currently debating the merits of a civil union law for gay and lesbian families. Last week, the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee held public testimony on the the Colorado Civil Union Act. Somebody from Catholic Charities of Colorado testified that they would have to be forced to stop providing foster care and adoption services in that state if civil unions became part of the Colorado landscape -- despite specific legislative exemptions that would allow social services the opportunity to refuse foster care and adoption services for civilly unionized gay and lesbian families.

This was pointed out to the Catholic Charities representative, who acknowledged that piece of religious exemption and then asserted that Catholic Charities of Colorado would choose to discontinue foster care and adoption services despite religious exemptions because of the existence of civil unions. (By the way, the expression of the woman in the audience reacting to the Catholic Charities representative at the 6:35 mark is priceless.)

Later on, another Senator is concerned that a homeless civilly unionized family might seek homeless services in a shelter and the shelter might not be able to separate that family. Imagine a situation where Mark and I lose our jobs, our savings, and eventually our home and need temporary housing. Would a shelter service really be harmed if our family was allowed to stay together as a unit? Which parent should our minor son be allowed to stay with if the shelter objected to our family unit? And why should our family unit be split up and forced to take up even more space that could be used by other family units? I'm forced to wonder if we would be allowed to eat at the same table in a Catholic Charities-operated soup kitchen?

Later on, the Catholic Charities representative stated that they do not discriminate and they do not want to stop serving the public. However, they subsequently repeatedly their intent to cease all services despite religious exemptions.

How inhospitable has Catholic Charities become that it will stop providing charitable services for all people because someday it might be placed in the position to temporarily serve some people whose families they disagree with in some capacity? I hear a lot about the great works that they do for our society. However, I can't help but wonder about the litmus test that it apparently requires its recipients to pass before receiving emergency assistance?

Edited to Include: By the way, the Catholic Charities of Colorado representative points out how Catholic Charities of Illinois was "forced" to close because of that state's civil union law (which I don't believe specifically addressed religious exemptions for either foster care or adoption services -- though I could be wrong). Even though Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois no longer exists, it and its services didn't actually close shop. Instead, they reincorporated as Christian Social Services of Illinois and continue to provide all of the same services they did before and without discriminating against the occasional civilly unionized family!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Whitney Houston's Death was a Warning by God for President Obama and the USA

At least that the word according to William Tapley AKA the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse. You can hear about it here:

You can know the truthiness of this assertion as it comes to us through numerology. President Barack Obama is signified by the number 4, which is also an end-times number. Oscar R.O. Hernandez shot 9 rounds from an AK-47 at the White House on 11/11/11. Hernandez has four names, which makes this an end-times situation. 9 and 11 stand for the 9/11 attacks, which was also a Biblical warning.

Somehow, that shooting connects to Houston's death. Whitney's death is significant because if you take the first four letters from her first and last name, you will get "Whit Hous". Additionally, she died at the age of 48, which breaks down into 444, which is apparently Obama's end-time number. She was born on 08/09/63 and died on 02/11/12, and if you look at the numbers of those days, you will find 09/11. Her death comes after the recent Obama Administration decision that requires insurers to offer birth control and related services to those covered by those plans, even those employed by religious institutions like hospitals and charitable agency. This decision apparently threatens to destroy the Roman Catholic Church and the United States of America. And that is why God killed Whitney Houston: so that her death would lead both the President and our country to repent.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

DOJ Won't Defend Laws Blocking Married Gays and Lesbian Benefits!

Here is some pretty exciting news for our married gay and lesbian service members and veterans. According to TPM, the Justice Department has decided that banning the spouses of gay and lesbian service members from military and veterans benefits is a violation of the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that they are no longer going to defend that statute in court!:
The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” (Attorney General Eric) Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

Holder said DOJ would no longer defend the provisions in Title 38 which prevent same-sex couples who are legally married from obtaining benefits. He said that Congress would be provided a “full and fair opportunity” to defend the statues in the McLaughlin v. Panetta case if they wished to do so.

As Holder writes, the benefits in question “include medical and dental benefits, basic housing allowances, travel and transportation allowances, family separation benefits, military identification cards, visitation rights in military hospitals, survivor benefits, and the right to be buried together in military cemeteries.”
This is great news, though of course there will be backlash. Then again, what is the rationale for treating one group of legally married families differently than another group of legally married service members? Presumably, this decision will not affect gay and lesbian couples who are domestic partners or civilly unionized.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Abortion Bills Circulating through the Iowa House

The Iowa House is getting some abortion action going these days. House File 2033 is advancing through committees. This pending piece of legislation, if passed, would require doctors to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and offer the woman the opportunity to review an image of the fetus. Additionally, the doctor would have to offer to provide a description of the ultrasound image and to allow the woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat. I guess it’s better than states like Virginia, which are looking at a bill that would require trans-vaginal ultrasounds before each abortion.

The legislators say they want women to make fully informed decisions before receiving an abortion. Personally, I think it’s just one more expensive buffer for women seeking an abortion with the possible result that the women won’t be able to afford the cost of the extra medical procedure.

But the really fun bill is being floated by Iowa Rep. Kim Pearson (R) which would make abortion an act of feticide, which is a Class A felony punishable by life imprisonment without the chance for parole. Attempted feticide (a situation where the fetus does not die) would be a Class B felony punishable by 25 years in prison. People would also be punished for assisting someone in the process of performing an abortion – presumably nurses, though I suppose it could include someone who drove a woman to an abortion clinic or who worked as a secretary or security guard at the clinic.

It’s possible that both of these will pass in the Iowa House, but they are unlikely to be even discussed in the Iowa Senate. Last year, the Iowa House tried tightening its current abortion laws but found those efforts hindered by Pearson because they didn’t go far enough. The tension between this Freshman Republican and a large chunk of her party has been strong enough that she has decided to leave office at the end of her first term instead of trying to run again.

Occupy Iowa City Will Leave College Green Park

I have written a couple times recently about the ups and downs of Occupy Iowa City. Earlier this week, we learned that the City of Iowa City denied Occupy Iowa City’s application for a renewal of its current four-month permit to occupy College Green Park. The city is concerned about the damage that’s been caused to the park’s turf. They’re concerned about the health and safety of the people staying at the park over night. And they’re concerned about the amount of police time at the park to respond to drunken behavior, fights, thefts, and other problems.

Occupy Iowa City was instructed to vacate College Green Park by March 1st. It was unclear how Occupy Iowa City would respond to this permit denial. The only thing I could find was that their general assembly would meet on Thursday this week to discuss options and come to a consensus.

Thursday has come and gone and it appears that Occupy Iowa City has decided to not appeal the permit denial. Iowa City Patch has the scoop this morning:
Ten cold but good-spirited Occupy members gathered for a general assembly in the College Green Park pavilion Thursday night to decide if the group should file an appeal to the city's decision to not renew Occupy Iowa City's permit to stay in the park. The consensus: There should be no appeal...

Beyond this consensus, feelings toward the park and the end of the occupation were decidedly mixed. This was particularly true when it came to deciding what to do with the homeless people who have used the camp's tents for shelter from the cold.

Five months ago, when Occupy Iowa City first occupied College Green Park, the camp served not just as a local symbol of the movement, but also as a logistical center where the group could meet, plan events, and engage in dialogue with the community and each other.

During the assembly, Occupy member Sean Adams-Hitt, 30, said that now the park occupation has transitioned from being a staging area for the movement to a logistical challenge that has taken too much focus away from spreading the ideas that started the movement in the first place -- wealth inequality, the eroding of the middle class and corporate control of government…

Occupy member Mauro Heck agreed. "Even if there are no physical tents here, we can still use the park as a symbolic headquarters for our meetings," he said. "Let's move on with issues, and organize and demonstrate and do what we really want to do."

Although all ten members in attendance seemed to be in agreement that the camp should come to an end, there was mixed feelings on two major accounts. One, they agreed that there should be some more planning for the best way for Occupy to leave the camp while still taking positive steps going forward, and two, what should be done to help the homeless who have taken shelter at the camp, many of whom would be left after Feb. 29 without a place to go with at least a month of cold left to go.

Some Occupy members suggested filing the permit appeal to go before the council so the issue of the homeless could be addressed with them. The majority disagreed with this course of action, however, arguing that it would be better for the Occupy members to help the homeless at the camp directly, when help was appropriate…

The consensus of the assembly was how this would be accomplished would have to be fleshed out in later discussions. Also to be determined is the exact plan for how to group up and take down the tents together ahead of the Feb. 29 deadline.
Occupy Iowa City’s tent city will come down within the next couple weeks, but their presence will likely continue in some form or another. Personally, I think this is a good decision. Occupy Iowa City is personified by that park camp. It's hard to argue that Occupy Iowa City is an actual movement when almost nobody is actually present at the movement's headquarters. Shedding themselves of the camp will allow Occupy Iowa City the opportunity to focus on its mission and its message, instead of struggling to maintain a ghost town.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 02/16/12

Nero spent another fun-filled afternoon at his doggie daycare program today. He always enjoys going to Lucky Pawz and playing with the other dogs. I guarantee that he will be sleeping all evening, which should please our cat. Check it out:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ms. Lion's Pride: Pekingese Wins Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Ms. Lion was pretty excited to learn this morning of last night's Westminster Kennel Club winner: a 4-year-old Pekingese named Malachy! Like Ms. Lion, Malacy is 11-pounds and boasts beautiful black and silver fur. Unlike Ms. Lion, Malacy's hair is much more grown out and his face is smooshed in like most good looking pekes.

Ms. Lion is the first non-poodle that I've ever owned -- and even then she's a Pekingese/poodle mix. They are a great breed, though they're not really the best dogs for families with younger kids. Pekes tend to latch onto one or two people and aren't very good at sharing. Fortunately for me, Ms. Lion really loves me. Unfortunately for Husband Mark, Ms. Lion really loves me -- especially at bedtime. She does not like sharing the bed and will sometimes snarl at Mark when he comes to bed or when he rolls around. We need to remind her about sharing the bed (and me) every few weeks. Basically, she gets shunned from both the bed and the bedroom by me. She really doesn't like that. She'll sulk for a bit and then make nice with Mark for a couple weeks and then the cycle resumes.

As much trouble as she sometimes is, I really love Ms. Lion. Despite her attachment to me, she's pretty independent for a lapdog. She has grown to really enjoy the Iowa City Dog Park. She's the type of dog who absolutely loves to have ribbons in her ears or a sweater on her body. She's a hoot to watch whenever we walk her after a grooming. She holds her head up really high and watches for people to comment on her good looks.

Ms. Lion won't win any personality prizes, nor will she be winning the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, but she's pretty excited about her new role model, Malachy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Occupy Iowa City Evicted from College Green Park in Iowa City

I wrote last month about the difficulty that Occupy Iowa City was having getting actual protesters to occupy College Green Park here in Iowa City. Iowa City has responded differently to its Occupy Movement than most communities. Most communities pepper spray and club their occupiers. Iowa City gave them a permit to occupy one of its parks as long as they met certain requirements. Unfortunately, Occupy Iowa City has failed to meet its end of the bargain and now they are about to get evicted by the City of Iowa City!:
Occupy Iowa City members must move out of College Green Park by the end of the month, the city manager’s office said Monday. The city has denied the group’s application to renew the four-month permit that had allowed members to stay overnight in the park since last fall.

City Manager Tom Markus laid out a series of reasons for the decision. Among them are “significant damage” to the park’s turf; health and safety concerns; and a disproportionate use of police resources to respond to drunk individuals, fights, thefts and other problems at the park.

He said the main reason to deny the permit was that the group’s presence diminishes the public’s ability to use the 2.4-acre park a few blocks east of downtown. “At some point, we need to return our park to the public,” he said.

Protestors began occupying the park in October as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that started over concerns of economic inequality. Once winter set in, few protestors stayed in the park, and the handful who did were mostly homeless people.

With snow falling early Monday afternoon, only one person was found among the two dozen tents set up in the park. The middle-aged woman declined to give her name but said she was one of just a couple true Occupy Iowa City members to still be spending nights in the park. She also said a few people have given the group a bad reputation by causing problems with drinking and fighting.
According to their Facebook page, Occupy Iowa City's general assembly will gather on Thursday to discuss options.

The Empty "Occupy Iowa City" Camp
Personally, I'm not sure where the occupation of Iowa City's College Green Park was heading if not to a close. I mean, how can they justify fighting to maintain their presence in the park when hardly anyone connected to the actual political movement was actually maintaining any sort of presence in the park.

I'm not saying that the Occupy Iowa City movement should stop, but I do believe that it's time for them to develop a new strategy. Which isn't to say that they have been silent since winter began. Occupy Iowa City protesters have been seen at various locations both before and during the Iowa Caucus and made their opinions known. But beyond that, their most visible contribution to Iowa City has been a trash-filled, crime-ridden campsite. In other words, it's time for Occupy Iowa City to occupy something besides College Green Park -- if for no other reason that to re-brand its identity.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Archie Marries Valerie from the Pussycats // My Favorite Five Interracial Comic Book Romances

I have been getting back into Archie Comics over the past several months. At first, I found myself enjoying the Life With Archie comic book. Each story tells parallel stories about what life might look like in five years if Archie marries either Veronica or Betty. I was into this book long before they ever announced that Kevin Keller was marrying his new husband. Frankly, the book was different and offered a different version of Archie and the gang from what I'd read during my youth. It's an odd mix of familiar characters and settings mixed with marital drama and miscommunication. The LWA series sucked me in and now I'm picking up all of Archie Comics' digest comic books every week while shopping at the grocery store.

Ultimately, Life With Archie has opened me up to the idea that Archie Comics is trying and doing new things. One of those new things was an interracial romance between Archie Andrews and Valerie Smith from "Josie and the Pussycats" back in 2010. Last week, I learned that Archie and Valerie are going to reconnect in Archie #633 was visit a possible future where they end up marrying and having a cute little daughter! According to Comics Alliance, their romantic relationship is a natural development for these two characters:
Archie and Valerie... build their relationship on a mutual love of music and, in Archie's case, the fact that he falls in love with beautiful girls regardless of race. As an isolated idea, it meant a lot, but in elevating it to this level, their relationship is being treated as something just as valid as Archie's relationships with Betty and Veronica. The addition of a daughter, something that hasn't been explored in the Betty or Veronica marriages and something that has traditionally been even more controversial in American history, goes even further -- in a good way.
The "controversy" over Archie's and Valerie's marriage and family got me thinking about some of my favorite interracial comic book romances. I'm not talking about purple alien brides seducing human champions of goodness. I'm talking about comic book romances between people of different races. At first I thought it wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a bunch of interracial couplings, but I really struggled to identify enough favorite. So maybe this topic is more controversial than I'd originally imagined!

Without further ado, I'd like to present my Favorite Five Interracial Comic Book Romances!:

5. Basilisk and Frenzy: Last year, a villain named Legion trapped Marvel's X-Men in a warped alternate version of their lives. This reality was a horrific world where Earth's mutants found themselves under siege against a human menace that have chased them to the brink of extinction. Marvel's mutants were not the same mutants the we typically see every month. These mutants had seen their families killed and their lives destroyed. Many had been tortured. All of them were experiencing an extreme form of PTSD. Due to their altered histories, the X-Men found themselves with different code-names and different romances. One of the more interesting pairings was Basilisk (i.e., Cyclops) and Frenzy. In our reality, Cyclops leads the X-Men and Frenzy is an angry super-villain. In the "Age of X" world, Basilisk was a hardened executioner and Frenzy is a soldier with unbreakable skin. He found that he could look at her without killing her and, as a result, they enjoyed a fairly carnal relationship with an oddly touching emotional bond.

As things usually happen, the "Age of X" storyline resolved itself and the X-Men were returned back to their old lives -- except that they now found themselves with conjoined memories of their real lives and their "Age of X" lives. Different characters coped as best they could. Unfortunately, Cyclops and Frenzy struggled to cope with their "Age of X" romance. Cyclops wanted nothing more than to forget about his romance with the villain. Frenzy couldn't forget their love for each other. Eventually, she left the X-Men's Utopia base in order to put some space between her and the X-Men's commander-in-chief. Their relationship will likely never resurface. On the other hand, it created great motivation for Marvel to create a wonderfully unique villain-to-hero transformation storyline that continues to unfold in X-Men Legacy every month.

4. Storm and Forge: This relationship goes back to my early years of comic book collecting. Back in the 80s, a mutant inventor created a weapon that could cancel out other mutants' powers. His first and only victim was the X-Men's weather witch, Storm. Gradually, their relationship blossomed into an interesting romance. The mutant storm-maker who sometimes found herself worshipped as a goddess who loved the mutant shaman who straddled the line between machines and magic. Eventually, Storm got her powers back and Forge joined the X-Men. Unfortunately, subsequent writers really didn't seem to like Forge. He gradually went mad and eventually got killed off. Long before his death, their relationship drifted aimlessly in the wind, lost amidst editorial switches and comic book crossovers, and eventually ended with a simple break-up. Most modern readers probably don't even remember Storm's first great romance, but it will always claim a warm place in my own heart.

3. Zero and No-Girl: My third favorite interracial comic book romance is also one of Marvel's oddest comic book romances. Years ago, a telepathic girl named Martha (AKA No-Girl) was kidnapped by a villain named Johnny Sublime. He removed her brain from her body, placed it in a globe, and used her powers to subdue those who threatened him. She was eventually liberated by the X-Men and brought to live at their school. Several years later, Japanese nihilist Kenji (AKA Zero) developed his own powers and came to live at Utopia with the X-Men. In recent months, he came across Martha and was instantly smitten by her unique charms. He even used his techno-organic shape-shifting powers to create a body shell for Martha's brain. Zero and No-Girl have been together for only a few months and I'm sure that their relationship can only end in tragedy, but I am really digging this odd romance. I can't wait to see how this storyline resolves itself.

2. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones: My one non-Mutant pairing is also one of Marvel's strongest interracial pairings around. Several years ago, readers met a jaded hero-turned-private-detective named Jessica Jones. Between mysteries and cases, she discovered that she was pregnant with the child of another hero for hire, Luke Cage. The two started out as an extended booty call and eventually became one of the most real relationships currently portrayed by Marvel today. The two eventually had a baby girl and got married. Now they lead the New Avengers and struggle to balance parenthood with married life with superheroics.

1. Psylocke and Archangel: Archangel is one of the founding X-Men and Psylocke is one of their later recruits who possesses one of the more convoluted racial histories. (It's better not to ask.) They fought alongside each other for many years before a relationship sparked in the mid-90s. Their relationship came out of nowhere, but it immediately made total sense given each character's family background, social connections, and riches. Additionally, both characters harbor demons in the dark recesses of their minds (literally). Their relationship ebbed and flowed before reviving itself in the pages of Uncanny X-Force in recent years. Unfortunately, Warren's inner-demon proved too strong for him to resist any longer and Betsy eventually found herself forced into killing the man she loves. Angel was quickly resurrected as a new blank slate with no memory of his former life or of his love for Betsy. I have no doubt that Angel and Psylocke will eventually reconnect in future story lines. For now, their relationship is no more.

Who is your favorite Interracial Comic Book Romance? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 People Protest "Gay Is Not Okay" Church; Sermon Went On Anyway

I wrote yesterday about Fort Des Moines Church of Christ's "Gay is Not Okay" marquee and the resulting publicity that spawned calls for a public protest of the church and a bunch of harassment and vandalism against the pastor, his family, and the church.

The Des Moines Register now reports that roughly 100 people showed up to protest Pastor Mike Demastus' anti-gay sermon before, during, and after worship and that he still preached his sermon as planned:
The pastor quickly acknowledged that wasn’t quite the case by warning anyone who protested during the worship service itself they would be escorted out of the building and possibly arrested. No such protest took place during the hour-long service despite a handful of protesters being present for at least part of the service. Those who entered the church on Sunday were asked if they were either a protester or belonged to Westboro Baptist Church, which is known nationwide for its vitriolic demonstrations against homosexuality.

Demastus opened up his sermon by saying that Westboro’s tactics are not Christian in spirit and that the sin of homosexuality should not be singled out as unique or somehow unlike the sins of adultery and sex outside of marriage. “It is not an unpardonable sin,” Demastus said.

But a sin it is nonetheless, he continued, asking his audience of about 150 people if any “God-fearing” person can be gay. “Absolutely not,” he said. “You cannot be God-fearing and disobey God at the same time.”

For those who believe homosexuals are born that way, Demastus asked why the same approach to biology isn’t used to endorse alcoholism – which some also say can have a genetic component.
The difference, Pastor Demastus, is that alcoholism is an addiction. It causes physiological and/or psychological dependence. People who are actively alcoholic continue to drink alcohol, despite ongoing problems with their health and their social, familial, economic, and/or job responsibilities. GLBT people can have alcohol dependence, but not all people with alcohol dependence are GLBT.

Homosexual sexual orientation is not an addiction. GLBT people are no more addicted to our spouses or our girlfriends or our boyfriends than heterosexual people are addicted to their spouses or their girlfriends or their boyfriends. The lives and behavior of GLBT people are as varied as those of heterosexual people. Some lead virtuous lives. Others struggle. Some are poor. Some are rich. Some have families. Some don't. Some are great parents and some really suck at it.

People like Pastor Demastus might like to think themselves clever and equate our lives and loves to those who struggle with addiction, but they're really not. All it does is demonstrate how little they know about either sexual orientation or substance abuse.

Anyway, the sermon went on -- as did the protest -- and what was accomplished? Pastor Demastus still preached against GLBT people, our lives, and our place at Christ's table. He and his flock weren't swayed by the attention or the protest. In fact, his sermon -- which would have been limited to his congregation without all this attention -- gained a broader audience because of the protest and the related media attention.

The GLBT communities really need to learn how to cope better with the small stuff -- like a church marquee that says "Gay is Not Okay" -- and focus our time and attention on more important stuff -- like state congressional efforts to constitutionally destroy our families, as well as governmental efforts to treat GLBT parents inequitably compared to heterosexual parents. This church incident was a sideshow and accomplished little to protest our marriages, our families, or our place in Iowa society.

Next time, we need to ignore culture war bait like Pastor Demastus' anti-gay church sign. Let him do his sermon while we go about nurturing, celebrating, and publicly promoting what we know to be true about our lives, our families, and our faith. Don't offer him and others like him power over us. They're not worth the effort.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Des Moines Church: "Gay Is Not Okay"

Rev. Michael Demastus of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ decided to preach about (and presumably against) homosexuality this Sunday. He has titled his sermon "Gay is Not Okay" and used his church sign to advertise that sermon. Shortly afterwards, Patrick Boltinghouse of West Des Moines saw the sign and got angry. He posted against the sign on Facebook and eventually a "People against the bigots at Fort Des Moines Church of Christ" Facebook page got created. This Facebook group is now planning a protest for 8-11 AM this Sunday at the church and roughly 200 people have indicated that they will attend the protest.

Demastus reports that he and his church have receives tons of negative responses to the "Gay is Not Okay" sign, including three threats to his home and family. The church's own Facebook page had to be shut down due to harassment. The church marquee itself was vandalized. And now the "Gay is Not Okay" message has been replaced with "Adultery is Not Okay".

What a mess.

Demastus says that he's just preaching against homosexuality, not homosexuals. In other words, he is preaching against gay relationships and families and marriages, not gay people and family members. I disagree with his message and I disagree with his parsing. You can't really separate people from their relationships and families. It wouldn't work if I said that I love and support Joe Hetero, but I am totally against his marriage to Jane Hetero and their relationship. But Demastus has the right to preach against homosexuality. His church has the right to establish its own rules for the type of behavior that it condones and the types of members that it allows to join its flock.

Yes, Boltinghouse has the right to organize a protest against that church. I'm just not sure what it will accomplish. And I'm also not sure that it won't backfire against the GLBT communities of Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports that Demastus had earlier expressed fear that he would be prosecuted for preaching against homosexuality. "If I go to jail, I'll still be preaching it in jail." Doesn't this protest and the accompanying siege of harassment against this church just feed into this fear?

I don't agree with his message, but Demastus has the right to preach against homosexuality. Just like I have the right to lead a shared ministry worship services at my own church as talk about the blessings of all families, including GLBT families. Iowa is fortunate to be a marriage equality state. Frankly, we need to do what we can to keep it that way. We need to fight the good fights -- such as when politicians attempt to introduce anti-marriage constitutional amendments or when the state refuses to treat married gay or lesbian parents equally to married heterosexual parents. But we also need to learn to let things pass us by -- such as an anti-gay church marquee.

My faith and my family won't get hurt this weekend by Demastus preaching against us to his flock. Neither will Iowa's other gay or lesbian families. But incidents that threaten his expression of religious liberties now could very well hurt our families in the long run.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Romney Glitter-Bomber Faces 6 Months in Prison

You all know that I've been over glitter-bombing since it began. I wrote about it quite a lot early on, but haven't bothered to touch on the last few glitter-bomb incidents against Santorum and Romney and Ron Paul and whomever else has gotten attacked during the past few weeks. It took way too long, but one would-be glitter-bomber is finally facing actual criminal prosecution for a recent incident involving Mitt Romney and the Secret Service:
A Colorado student faced misdemeanor charges on Wednesday for flinging glitter toward Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney in an increasingly frequent protest act some commentators say should be subject to prosecution. The practice of "glitter bombing" has mainly been the domain of gay rights activists targeting Republican politicians and other public figures who oppose same-sex marriage. But University of Colorado Boulder student Peter Smith, 20, told Reuters he threw glitter at Romney after the candidate's speech in Colorado on Tuesday to protest against his "general political philosophy," and not only his stance on gay marriage. A CNN video of the incident shows Romney shaking hands with supporters in an auditorium when the glitter is thrown at him and Secret Service agents usher him away. Smith was escorted out by other agents and local authorities, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said. Denver authorities detained Smith for questioning on Tuesday night, and he was cited on misdemeanor charges of creating a disturbance, throwing a missile and an unlawful act on school property, Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said.
Smith faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.

Do I think that glitter-bombers should go to jail for six months? Not really. But I do believe that something needs to have that might deter future glitter-bombers from engaging in this pointless form of public protest. It's juvenile and petty and trivializes the GLBT communities' various goals. Let's hope that this prosecution is the nail in the coffin of the Glitter-Bomb.

Gay Marriage Updates: Washington and Illinois!

I know I'm late with these, but...

Washington: Both Washington's House and Senate have passed marriage equality bills. This will now go before the state's governor, who has promised to sign it into law. Of course, anti-marriage activists have already promised to challenge this new law with a referendum, so expect it on that state's ballot this fall.

Illinois: Meanwhile, Illinois state Representative Greg Harris (D) introduced a marriage equality bill yesterday. This comes less than a year after Illinois passed its own civil union law. If passed, existing civil unions will transform into marriages. I polled a random sampling of five friends in Illinois to see if they thought that it would pass. Two of the five thought that it was possible. One thought it was likely to pass. Time will tell if they are correct.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Married Lesbian Moms Suing Iowa Over Infant Death Certificate Snub

(Originally written on 02/08/12): This is pretty sad. Lambda Legal filed suit yesterday in Polk County on behalf of a married Davenport couple, Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer. This past September, the couple's pregnancy was shattered when Jessica miscarried their baby. Baby Brayden was born stillborn. They submitted a death certificate to the Iowa Department of Public Health, which issues birth and death certificates here in Iowa, and this was the response they received:
The couple’s grief was compounded by the state of Iowa, which essentially wrote Jennifer out of having any relationship to Brayden. The certificate of fetal death, which arrived late last month from the Iowa Department of Public Health, listed only Jessica as the parent, whiting out Jennifer’s name from the form the couple filled out and the funeral director signed. Jennifer left messages over four days for the one person at the IDPH she was told could explain the decision, but never even got a call back.

“It was like they were trying to erase all the commitment and love and work we had both put into planning a family,” Jennifer said. “They disrespected our marriage and poured salt on the wound of something that was already so horrible.”
For the record, Jennifer is Baby Brayden's biological mother and Jessica was carrying him in her womb. Iowa law assumes that both married parents are a child's legal parents -- even in the cases where the children are not biologically related to both children, such as with artificial insemination. However, the IDPH has fought attempts to recognize both married same-sex parents unless there has been a second-parent adoption. They recently lost a court challenge by Heather and Melissa Gartner after Melissa was omitted from their daughter's birth certificate. The IDPH just recently announced their intention to appeal that court decision.

Other marriage equality states recognize both married same-sex parents on their children's birth and death certificates and Iowa should do the same. All marriages need to be treated equally. To treat certain families different is wrong and cruel. As cruel is (literally) whiting out one parent off a child's death certificate. Iowa is better than this.

Updated on 12/17/12: The courts ruled in the Buntemeyers' favor on this date. You can read more about it here.

Gay Marriage Map: Where is it Legal and Illegal

Here is an updated map of marriage equality in America today. Check it out:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

I first learned of the decision affirming Judge Walker's decision that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution while at work. Since then, pretty much everyone has opined. The nutshell? Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution, according to this court. This decision is limited to California. This court case will likely be brought before the full circuit or appeal to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Proposition 8 is active and California gay and lesbian couples are unable to obtain marriage licenses in that state.

Think Progress summarized the decision:
– All Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of ‘marriage,’ which symbolizes state legitimation and social recognition of their committed relationships. Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for “laws of this sort.”

– The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.

– That designation [of marriage] is important because ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.

– A law that has no practical effect except to strip one group of the right to use a state-authorized and socially meaningful designation is all the more “unprecedented” and “unusual” than a law that imposes broader changes, and raises an even stronger “interference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.”
Newt Gingrich:
Court of Appeals overturning CA’s Prop 8 another example of an out of control judiciary.
The United Church of Christ:
Leaders of the United Church of Christ today (Feb. 7) applauded the ruling handed down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals calling California’s “Prop 8” unconstitutional.

"We are thankful for the important step that has been taken toward marriage equality with the overturning of Proposition 8," said the Rev. James Moos, executive minister of the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries. "While we still have work to do, we can proceed with renewed vigor in our quest for justice..."

"I applaud the court’s ruling. It honors all families in our communities and is an important step for equality and justice for everyone," said the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, the UCC's executive for LGBT concerns. "This ruling is not about what religious institutions have to do, it is about the role of the state to treat all of its citizens fairly and equally, and the importance of respecting religious liberty. Same-sex couples should have the right to marry because it is the only way to honor religious liberty. Many of our United Church of Christ pastors and congregations perform religious marriage rites for same-sex couples, and do so out of their theological convictions. This in no way inhibits others from refraining to do so out of their own convictions. It is not the role of government to interfere and deny anyone this basic right based on gender..."

In 2005, the UCC's General Synod approved a resolution that affirmed its support for same-gender marriage equality. The UCC's Southern California-Nevada Conference and Northern California-Nevada Conference were among the earliest advocates for the General Synod action. Both Conferences had actively opposed Prop. 8...

"Justice is served when we end discrimination and provide equal protection under the law for everyone," the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president, said at the time. "I join those in our churches and the communities we serve who also praise this decision for what it means to them, their families and our society."
Mitt Romney:
Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.
Lambda Legal:
The tide is not turning; it has turned.
Maggie Gallagher:
Ninth Circuit to 7 Million California Voters: You Are Irrational Bigots.
NOM's Brian Brown:
As sweeping and wrong-headed as this decision is, it nonetheless was as predictable as the outcome of a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game. We have anticipated this outcome since the moment San Francisco Judge Vaughn Walker’s first hearing in the case. Now we have the field cleared to take this issue to the US Supreme Court, where we have every confidence we will prevail.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, channeling President Barack Obama:
(President Obama) has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples.
The fight isn't over. The case has a few more steps to go before it's settled and even then it likely won't be settled. Gay people will continue to fight for our families and others will continue their crusade against our marital rights, responsibilities, and protections. Either way, it's been an exciting day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vander Plaats Lies About Starbucks and Gay Marriage // Urges Boycott

Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa's thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate and The FAMiLY Leader leader, just released a video urging Iowa's anti-family activists to boycott Starbucks coffee because the corporation has publicly endorsed all families (heterosexual or homosexual) in the state of Washington. He was prompted to come out with the video after receiving an e-mail from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which urges its own Starbucks boycott. In the video, Vander Plaats quotes Starbucks leaders as saying that "God's design for marriage is bad for America" and "Homosexual marriage is core to who they are" (as if Starbucks leaders speak of themselves in the third person all the time). He doesn't go as far as Perkins as describing marriages like mine as "counterfeit marriages".

The FRC and The FAMiLY Leader mined those Starbucks quotes (in an extremely bastardized fashion) from a message issued on January 24, 2012, by Kalen Holmes, the executive president of Partner Resources at Starbuck:
Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Starbucks strives to create a company culture that puts our partners first, and our company has a lengthy history of leading and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion.

This important legislation is aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners. It is core to who we are and what we value as a company. We are proud of our Pride Alliance Partner Network group, which is one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees in the U.S., helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities where we live and work.

For the last 20 years, our benefits program has offered domestic partner benefits in the U.S. These benefits include medical, dental, vision, prescription drugs and alternative health care coverage. All partners (part-time and full-time) in all work locations, whether in a store, a roasting plant or a corporate office, adhere to the same eligibility requirements for health coverage and have access to the same comprehensive health plans.

We are deeply dedicated to embracing diversity and treating one another with respect and dignity, and remain committed to providing an inclusive, supportive and safe work environment for all of our partners.

We look forward to seeing this legislation enacted into law.


Kalen Holmes
executive vice president, Partner Resources

Anyway, Starbucks did say that equal treatment of all families is a corporate belief. It didn't say that heterosexual marriage is bad for America. Too bad I don't drink coffee or else this video would've inspired me to run out and purchase a cup of Starbucks coffee today.

Update on 02/07/12: It looks like someone pulled the BVP Starbucks boycott video. Maybe someone from Starbucks objected to the outright untrue quotes.

Why Does the American Diabetes Association Want to Speak with My Husband's Wife, But Not His Husband?

I just got off the phone with a phone solicitor from the American Diabetes Association. I had a similar call this past Saturday. The caller asked to speak with Mark. I told her that Mark's not home. She then asks if Mark's wife is home. I then the telemarketer that I'm Mark's husband and ask if I can help. Each time, I have been immediately answered that they will call back at another time.

I'm left wondering why the American Diabetes Association would want to speak to me if I was Mark's wife, but not if I'm Mark's husband? I might have listened to her spiel and donated to the organization. I'm much less tempted now.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Prepping for Puppy Bowl VIII // My Favorite Five Comic Book Dogs!

I wrote the following a couple weeks back on Twitter as a joke...

... but it's kind of true. At least at our house. I could care less about the Superbowl and I'm only vaguely aware of who's playing, but I'm totally excited about Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl VIII, which will begin airing tomorrow afternoon. For those who don't know, Puppy Bowl is an annual romp-fest of puppy cuteness. They race around and tackle each other and score goals. There are puppies and piggy pep-squads and even tailgaters. The program's gotten increasingly commercial over the years, but I still enjoy watching the game. My biggest complaint is that they almost never feature poodle athletes, though this year's game at least features Friday, a maltese/poodle mix.

All of this got me thinking about the many dogs that show up every week in my comic book stash, so I thought it might be fun as we prepare for tomorrow's bouts of puppy athleticism to feature my Favorite Five Comic Book Dogs! There are a ton of pooches to pick from, but I think this batch is the pick of the litter:

5. Krypto: Krypto is Superman's and Superboy's super powered dog. Like much of DC Comics, he has a complicated series of origins and story lines dating back to the mid-1950s. Boiled down to the basics, Krypto is a canine-version of Superman. He can fly. He's super-strong. He has super-hearing. He has all sorts of vision powers. His senses are magnified. He can survive in space. In essence, he's the type of dog you really need to train hard to behave. In recent years, Kypto was the modern day Superboy's pet. He lived in Kansas with Connor Kent on the Kent farm and occasionally helped to fight super-menaces. Unfortunately, DC Comics recently relaunch its line of comics (again). Krypto has appeared in the relaunched DC Universe, but never made the jump to Earth instead got sucked into the Phantom Zone. Will this new version of Krypto re-appear on Earth in the future as a powered pooch? My hunch? Not for a while, but eventually someone with a fondness for the past will eventually return Krypto to Clark Kent's side.

4. Wonder Dog: Wonder Dog was a cartoon animal sidekick who made his debut in 1973 on the Super Friends cartoon alongside Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and DC Comics' other top heroes. He was the animal companion to heroes-in-training Wendy and Marvin. Wonder Dog and the others appeared in the first few issues of a comic book version of the Super Friends before getting replaced by alien heroes-in-training, the Wonder Twins and their space-monkey Gleek. Unlike the Wonder Twins, neither Wonder Dog nor his human companions had any super powers. They still managed to successfully (if clumsily) solve crimes, but they're easily over-shadowed by the shape-changing Wonder Twins and their rubbery purple monkey. As a result, Wonder Dog and his people faded away into virtual obscurity for several decades.

Then in 2006, DC's Titans re-introduced Wendy and Marvin to its comic book audience. They were a pair of caretakers to helped care for the Titans' headquarters. Several issues later, they adopted a stray dog and named him Wonder Dog. Unfortunately, this Wonder Dog was a very naughty dog. He was an evil hellhound sent to infiltrate Titans Tower by Ares' son with the mission to kill Wonder Girl. Wonder Dog killed Marvin and nearly killed Wendy before the Titans managed to destroy him. It's unfortunate that the once heroic Wonder Dog was transformed into such a destructive force. On the other hand, his final storyline was probably much more memorable than his first string of story lines so I guess that stands for something.

3. Cosmo: Cosmo is a telepathic dog who was introduced to Marvel Comics about five years ago. He saved Marvel's space hero, Nova, from harm and eventually teamed up with Marvel's new Guardians of the Galaxy team. I'm not sure if Cosmo's origin has ever been revealed. However, he appears to be a Russian canine cosmonaut. After the Guardians folded, he gathered a group of Marvel's most powerful cosmic heroes and helpted them become the Annihilators. Unlike most of the dogs on this list, Cosmo has human-like intelligence and is able to communicate telepathically -- with a Russian accent, no less! -- with most people. His mental abilities are some of the strongest around. He's floating around in space somewhere right now, though I have high hopes that he might show up someday to join the Pet Avengers or maybe even found the West Coast Pet Avengers! One can only hope... Either way, I'm fairly certain that Cosmo will show up in one comic book or another sometime soon.

2. Ms. Lion: Like Wonder Dog, Ms. Lion originally made her debut as an animal sidekick to Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. She didn't have any special powers. She mainly hung out at their headquarters. However, she did manage to save the day when the Spider-Friends, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Shanna the She-Devil, and the Sub-Mariner when they found themselves defeated by -- of all lame villains -- the Chameleon. Lots of people despised Ms. Lion, but I loved her. I loved her so much that I named my pekepoo after her. Ms. Lion made an appearance in the comic book adaptation of the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. But that was only a one-shot comic book and she vanished from Marvel's comic book as quickly as she appeared...

... That is, until a few years ago when Marvel Comics launched the greatest comic book super-team I never knew I needed until I saw them, the Pet Avengers! This version of Ms. Lion found herself teamed up with some of Marvel's greatest animal super-hereoes -- Lockjaw, Zabu, Redwing, Lockheed, Hairball, and Frog Thor (plus honorary Pet Avenger, Bo Obama!) -- to collect the powerful Infinity Gems and to defeat Marvel's avatar of death, Thanos! Ms. Lion has appeared several times since his re-appearance. He has no powers. He's just a little spunky lap-dog who occasionally stumbles into solutions. He's known to fight back opponents with his piddle-attack though that usually just annoys enemies. He's basically the Rick Jones of the Pet Avengers. But he's still pretty cool and a great addition to the team.

1. Lockjaw: Lockjaw is one of Marvel's first animal super heroes (actually, he might be their first). He debuted by in the 1960s as a member of the Inhumans. They fought against the Fantastic Four, but eventually became friends. Lockjaw is a huge bulldog with the ability to teleport anywhere. As noted above, he is a founding member of the Pet Avengers and was directly responsible for gathering that terrific team together in the first place.

One of my favorite Lockjaw stories focused on the time that he seemingly spoke to Quicksilver and the Thing and revealed himself to be a deformed Inhuman instead of a dog. Quicksilver later revealed that this event had been an elaborate hoax perpetrated on the Thing. The hoax idea is humorous, though it doesn't make a lot of sense given the seriousness of the story where Lockjaw originally spoke. However, Marvel really needed to clarify that Lockjaw was a dog and not a grossly mutated member of the Inhumans' Royal Family. Otherwise, they come off as a bunch of jerks by how they'd treated Lockjaw over the years.

That's my list of Favorite Five Comic Books Dogs! There were a lot of other great choices, including Dogpool, the Litter, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Yankee Poodle. Who are your favorites?