Friday, March 30, 2012

What Would You Do?: Gay Parenting and Bullying

About a year ago, I wrote about a "What Would You Do?" segment dealing with a gay family that was harassed by their waitress and kicked out of a restaurant. The ABC program apparently approached the subject of gay parenting again, but this time they wanted to see how strangers would react to the blatant bullying of the kids of gay parents by other kids in a restaurant. Check this out:

In this scenario, two dads and their kids are at a restaurant. The dads leave for a bit, after which two bullies begin throwing taunts at the kids. It's interesting to watch people cringe, but it was more interesting to watch people directly challenge the bullies. One woman in particular approached the boys and essentially told them that it wasn't right to mock the kids for having parents that love them. But my favorite was the big guy who got fed up with the teens and screamed "Get out!" at them. The bullies jumped out of their seats and quickly left the area.

I've asked my boys at times if they get teased about having two dads and fortunately that hasn't been an issue (usually any teasing is related to disabilities, which isn't cool). But I would hope that there would be people to stand up for my boys if other teens began mocking and taunting them about me and Mark. Frankly, I would hope that protectors would step up if others began mocking D's glasses or Les' unique quirks.

Bullying is never cool. Even if punches are never launched, the verbal sting of bullying can last a lifetime. Those who are bullies need to learn how to step up for themselves, but they also need others to step up for them when their own efforts aren't successful.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 03/29/12

Nero had another fun-filled afternoon at doggy daycare today. Check it out:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Urban Chickens Being Debated Again in Iowa City

It has been a long time since I've written about urban chickens, in or around Iowa City. Frankly, it's been a while since they've been in the news. Urban chicken advocates have been fighting to get the Iowa City City Council to approve chickens within the city limits for a few years, but it's been a losing battle. Our city councillors simply have not been willing to entertain the issue. Meanwhile, Cedar Rapids legalized urban chicken ownership back in September 2010 and has experienced almost no chicken-related problems.

Now the folks from Iowa City Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chicken Keeping (I-CLUCK -- gotta love that acronym!) are bringing this issue back up for public discussion with hopes for a more successful outcome. It looks like they plan on patterning their proposal after Cedar Rapids' successful model:
Urban chicken advocates have hatched a discussion about legalizing hens in city limits. “We’re just trying to get the idea out there,” said Shannon Gassman, 25, a web and graphic designer who moved to Iowa City two years ago.

Iowa City Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chicken Keeping, or I-CLUCK, hopes a grassroots effort will have a better outcome now than a previous try shortly after the floods of 2008... “I think the main thing that’s different is the timing,” said Gassman, noting that the city council was still working on flood recovery the last time the change was proposed.

The Cedar Rapids City Council passed an ordinance in 2010 to allow up to six hens per household. Gassman said an exact number has not been set for the Iowa City proposal, but it would be similar to Cedar Rapids, with a small number of hens and no roosters. “That number is something we’re flexible on,” she said.

The group is starting an online petition and plans to gather signatures at Iowa City farmers markets and other events. Members have informally discussed the idea with one council member, but do not yet have a timeline for bringing the proposal before the city council.
I wish I-CLUCK well. I was skeptical when I first heard about efforts to allow chickens in Iowa City. But I kept my mind open, I listened to their points, and I watched the results in nearby Cedar Rapids. The chicken advocates have won me over to their side! I don't see myself ever raising chickens in my backyard, but I also don't see myself freaking out if one of my neighbors ever decides to build their own backyard chicken coop (unless, of course, they allow their little farm to become an unkempt nuisance!). I look forward to watching this story unfold!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NOM Budgeted to Find Children Who Were Harmed by Gay Parents

Last night, Human Rights Campaign began releasing a series of strategy documents that got unsealed in connection to a Maine-based campaign finance disclosure case involving the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The piece that's getting lots of press today is the fact that NOM purposely sought to fan the flames of hostility between blacks, Hispanics, and GLBTs. Personally, that revelation doesn't surprise me. It confirms what many people suspected, but it's no shocker.

What actually shocked me from this document dump was a plan by NOM to hire an outreach coordinator whose job would be to seek out and identify "children of gay parents willing to speak on camera" regarding "their concerns". As Right Wing Watch noted, either NOM never followed up with this plan or the outreach coordinator failed to identify any children of gay parents who was willing to appear on camera to complain about his or her parents.

How despicable must you and your organization be to purposely seek out people with the intent of publicly driving a wedge between them and their parents?

Nero at Daycare -- 03/27/12

Nero wore himself out at doggy daycare again today. He's currently spread out on our couch snoring after all of today's playtime! Check it out:

NOM's Secret Strategy: "Fanning the Hostility" Between Blacks and Gays // Edited to Add Brian Brown's and Maggie Gallagher's Responses

The National Organization for Marriage is in the midst of an investigation by the State of Maine. Amongst the information that they have released include confidential NOM reports where they reveal their strategy of driving wedges between black people and GLBT people:
The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement's allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washing D.C.; find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.
The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity - a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.
I've seen outrage by GLBT people and allies, as well as questions as to whether this will cause NOM's supporters to denounce them. It won't. At least, I will be shocked if NOM gets denounced or dropped by any of its supporters over this concerted effort to fan the flames of hostility between blacks, Hispanics, and GLBTs.

On the other hand, I think it’s important for marriage equality supporters to understand NOM’s tactics. There is a reason that Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of NOM always complain about being called bigots even when they’re not being called bigots. There is a reason that they bring up civil rights and racial issues when discussing marriage, even when discussions of race were not previously broached.

The truth is that there are black and Hispanic people who approve of marriage equality, just like there are blacks and Hispanics who don’t. Check out this ABC “What Would You Do?” clip involving a bridal shop owner who refuses services for a bride-to-be once she learns that her wedding will be to another woman. Universally, all of the customers who witness this interaction speak up on behalf of the grieving bride-to-be, including two black women who break down into tears and literally reach out to the lesbian bride.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this story resolves itself.

Edited to Add: Brian Brown of NOM offered up the following response to revelations that NOM was all about "fanning the hostility" between blacks, Hispanics, and GLBTs:
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was formed in 2007 and has worked extensively with supporters of traditional marriage from every color, creed and background. We have worked with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Aveeda King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Gay marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right, but the voices of these and many other leaders have provided powerful witness that this claim is patently false. Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.
Edited to Add: Maggie Gallagher, former head of NOM, offered her own response about NOM getting caught "fanning the hostility" between blacks, Hispanics, and gays:
Must be a slow news day over at Buzzfeed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Zach Wahls Speaks at the GLAAD Awards and Makes Iowa Proud

Iowa's favorite "son of gay moms", Zach Wahls, spoke at this weekend's GLAAD Awards. He offered up a fabulous seven-minute speech about last year's infamous testimony in front of the Iowa legislature in support of his mothers. He shared common questions that he frequently receives about being the son of lesbian moms (like "Dude, are they hot?"). He shared his gratitude for the ongoing support he has continued to receive since his testimony went viral on YouTube. And he reminded us all the importance of speaking up and sharing our stories. Bravo!

Check it out!:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Queen Elizabeth Makes Surprise Appearance at British Couple's Wedding

This was one of the funnest things that I heard all weekend:
A British couple booked Manchester Town Hall for their wedding and then discovered a royal visit was planned for the same place, an event for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

According to the Manchester Evening News, upon hearing the news of the double booking, the couple sent the Queen a lighthearted note inviting her to their nuptials. The couple was surprised to receive a reply from the Palace, not to mention when the Queen took a detour from her schedule to wish the couple well on their big day.
I have long believed that Queen Elizabeth is one of the coolest royals of them all. How fun would it be to have to the Queen drop by your wedding for an unscheduled stop?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality

It's a busy, busy day so there's not much time to write. But I do want to share this video.

In it, Matthew Vines discusses the theological debate regarding homosexuality and the Christian Church It runs for a little over an hour, but it's worth the time. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wartburg College Hosts GLBT Awareness Week // FAMiLY Leader's Chuck Hurley Defames GLBT People // KWWL News Messes Up

Wartburg College is the rival college of my own Luther College. It's a private Christian college located in Waverly, IA. This week, Wartburg Alliance, the college's LGBT student group, is hosting "Gayla Week". Last night, Zach Wahls was invited to speak about becoming an instant marriage equality advocate after speaking out for his moms' marriage and other gay marriages like it last year in front of the Iowa House of Representatives.

Predictably, The FAMiLY Leader's vice president, Chuck Hurley, is upset about Gayla Week:
The Family Leader Vice President Chuck Hurley says it's disturbing that Christian-based Wartburg College would promote a week dedicated to gay rights -- without allowing for equal debate from those who support "traditional marriage."

"Any community, whether it's a formerly orthodox Christian church or not, any community that embraces behavior that is ultimately personally harmful and societally harmful is doing a disservice to our civilization," he said Thursday.
Hurley cracks me up. I mean, there doesn't have to be a counterpoint to each and every speaker that a group brings in to speak. If that was the case, why didn't Hurley's group specifically invite pro-family speakers like Wahls to provide balance at Tuesday's anti-family rally at the Iowa Capitol. That's like the Iowa City Recreation Division invited Hayden Fry to come speak, but feeling obligated to invite a soccer coach.

Of course, Hurley likes to get his digs into the LGBT communities. Society has not been harm by my marriage, nor has my health or the health of my husband. I know that Hurley likes to compare gay marriages to second-hand smokers, but he's really just full of himself.

Anyway, KWWL messed up when they reported the following segment:

There were NOT "thousands" of anti-family protesters at the rally at the Iowa Capitol this past Tuesday. According to Iowa State police estimations, there were roughly 200-250 people rallying against gay and lesbian families. That means KWWL falsely reported that there were (conservatively speaking) at least 8 times more people at the rally than what was actually there. KWWL needs to fact check next time. It makes you wonder what other bits of news they get wrong.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Attempt to Repeal Gay Marriage Law in New Hampshire Failed Today

Earlier today, New Hampshire House Republicans attempted to roll back that state's marriage equality law. And they failed. Badly.

First, I really enjoyed this MSNBC discussion between NOM's Brian Brown and Stand Up for New Hampshire's Thomas Roberts. You have to watch this clip to believe it. Brown complained for the start about out-of-state forces that pumped money into New Hampshire to influence legislators to approve marriage equality (Brown and NOM are from New Jersey). Brown predicted that this effort to repeal marriage equality in New Hampshire would pass by a wide enough margin to easily overcome a gubernatorial veto. He was wrong. Check it out:

The final bill to repeal New Hampshire's two-year-old marriage equality law was defeated by a vote of 211 to 116!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gay Marriage Point/Counterpoint at the Iowa Capitol Today

Thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate and anti-gay The FAMiLY Leader president Bob Vander Plaats and New Jersey-based NOM leader Brian Brown led an anti-marriage rally at the Iowa Capital today. They met to urge Iowa Senators to push forward an amendment to our state constitution that would involuntarily annul my marriage, as well as the marriages of other gay and lesbian Iowans.

For 45 minutes, BVP and others argued that gay and lesbian families don't deserve recognition or protection in Iowa. BVP was particularly concerned about the infamous slippery slope:
“If we want marriage equality, let’s just stop for a second. Why stop at same-sex marriage? Why not have polygamy? Why not have a dad marry his son or marry his daughter? If we’re going to have marriage equality, let’s open this puppy up and let’s have marriage equality,” he said. “Otherwise, let’s stick to the way God designed it – one man and one woman, period (except for those times in the Bible when polygamy and incest were permitted).”
Keep in mind that nobody is arguing for incestuous marriages. Almost nobody is seriously arguing for polygamy. But BVP surely loves his boogey-men.

Brian Brown traveled from New Jersey to Iowa to invoke the name of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"We hear that this is about civil rights, and that those of us who oppose the redefinition of marriage are somehow bigots,” Brown said. “And yet, what Dr. Martin Luther King called the most important civil right – the right to vote – these very same folks are trying to deprive us of this right.”
I could be mistaken, but I don't think that Reverend King ever demanded that the citizens vote on the civil rights of other citizens. Senate majority leader Mike Gronstal understands this. Why doesn't Brian Brown?

Meanwhile, another group of marriage equality advocates held a press conference outside the Iowa Capitol and spoke up for all Iowa families:
“The truth needs to be told. Bob Vander Plaats needs to get a real job instead of working on spreading a message of hate and discrimination,” Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines and the Legislature’s only member who publicly acknowledges he is gay, said at the conference.

Calla Rongerude, the interim director of One Iowa, the state’s largest civil rights group focused on gay and lesbian issues, said the heart of the issue shouldn’t be about political theater but rather the families and importance of equal marriage rights.

“These families are so overlooked in political stunts like today,” Rongerude said. “It’s important to remember that these couples are Iowans and we all live by the golden rule. We want to be treated exactly how we should: with fairness and with dignity.”

Other speakers included Matt Mardis-LeCroy, the executive associate minister at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Des Moines as well as Danny Homan, state president, Council 61, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Solon resident Melanie Muth and Tammy Steinwandt also spoke. The couple, who have been together for five years, married shortly after the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law that prohibited marriage rights for same-sex couples. “We have commitment and love and truth just like every married family,” Steinwandt said.
One group rallied against a smaller group's families and used fear tactics to advocate for those marriages to be wiped out.

Another group rallied in favor of the values of marriage (i.e., commitment, love, truth, dignity, and fairness).

This is how the same-sex marriage debate went down today in Iowa.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NOM Coming to Iowa Tuesday to Rally Against Gay Marriages

Brian Brown and others from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) plan on traveling from New Jersey to Iowa tomorrow morning to rally for a constitutional ban against equal marriages rights, responsibilities, and protections for gay and lesbian Iowans. That's right. He's coming to our state with lots of out-of-state funds to demand changes to our state constitution. NOM often complains when pro-equality groups do the same thing, but NOM's always been about traveling to other states and influencing their legislatures and constitutions. This is what he had to say to his supporters last week:
For two years, Senate President Mike Gronstal has blocked every attempt to bring the marriage amendment to a vote in the Senate. The amendment already passed the House last year, the first of four legislative votes required before going to the ballot to be ratified by voters.

Now it's time for the Senate!

Over the next few weeks, every state senator needs to hear from his constituents demanding the right to vote on marriage. And there's no better way to deliver that message loud and clear than with a strong showing in person next Tuesday morning.
Keep in mind that the weather is supposed to be nasty tomorrow, which makes me happy. But I digress...

Fortunately for Iowa, Senate President Mike Gronstal is preventing this issue from being debated in the Iowa Senate. This is why:

"We never put people's constitutional rights to a vote for the people of state. I don't think the Constitution is a place to insert discrimination. I think it's a document designed to guarantee people's rights, not to take them away from them."
In Gronstal, gay Iowans have a brick wall between them and the National Organization for Marriage carpetbaggers who will swoop into Des Moines next Tuesday from their East Coast aerie, looking for an issue to exploit and an opportunity to deny civil marriage to gay Iowans — along with domestic partnerships and civil unions — two things they never talk about.

In Gronstal, straight Iowans (especially moderate Republicans) have a fantastically knowledgeable senator who remains a bulwark against the destructive ideological excesses of the more reckless members of their party.

Either group would be foolish to turn Granstal out; our guess is that Vander Plaats and NOM underestimate the ability of most Council Bluffs voters to see through their game.
One certainly hopes that BVP and NOM underestimate Iowans' desire to vote out Gronstal over the issue of marriage equality. Setting aside the marriage issue, Iowa is a couple Senate seats from passing some really crazy pro-gun, anti-labor, anti-abortion, and anti-education bills. I'm not saying that the Democratic Party has all the right answers, but I do believe that we do best as a state when both parties share power. It encourages saner laws and that's good for all of us.

Anyway, if you live in Iowa, give your local Senator a call and thank her or him for supporting marriage equality and if s/he disagrees with marriage equality for all, then give him or her an earful of reasons for why s/he should change her or his mind on this issue.

Santorum: I Will Restore "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum met with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Louisiana this past weekend to discuss his presidential goals. The topic of Don't Ask Don't Tell's repeal (AKA the systematic social experimentation of the military) came up. Perkins wanted to know if Santorum will reverse the repeal of DADT. Santorum reaffirmed his desire repeal DADT's repeal:

Santorum just wants gay and lesbian service members to be silent about their private lives like heterosexual service members. Don't forget, straight people never talk about their husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, dates, etc. They hide all traces of their personal lives from the world around them for fear that someone will contact a superior officer and reveal that s/he is dating someone of the opposite sex. Straight people are in constant fear of professional suicide if anyone ever discovers they are indeed heterosexual. Why shouldn't gay and lesbian service members share their fear? *sarcasm over*

What's the Difference Between an Animal Communicator and a Pet Psychic?

Have you ever wondered if there is a difference between pet or animal psychics and animal communicators? I actually have questioned if there is a difference. I've questioned whether animal communicators are just glorified animal behaviorists who is know how to pick up on behavioral cues that many of the rest of us miss when interacting with our pets.

I've written in the past about my interest in pet psychic Laura Stinchfield. She is a professional pet psychic. I'm familiar with her podcast, the Pet Psychic Radio, which is listen to every week. Among other things, Stinchfield runs a blog, which promotes her podcast and discusses her parabilities. Last week, she posed the article, "Are Animal Communicators the Sames as Pet Psychics?". Stinchfield was frustrated by another animal communicator who teaches others that animal communicators speak directly to animals (presumably through some form of telepathy), while pet psychics generally tap into spirit guides, angels, or other forms of spiritual assistance to get information about the lives of the animals. Stinchfield was upset about the other animal communicator's message and offered her own perspective about this question:
I believe that animal communicators and pet psychics are one and the same. We talk to animals using telepathy. There are individuals from each title that may rely on other psychic senses and practices to gain information about the animal or animal-human relationship. It is important that each animal communicator/pet psychic is clear to the client about where they are receiving information from during the session time.

I have become very upset that this particular animal communicator is teaching and broadcasting false claims. She is either uneducated about others in our field, or she is trying to create a wrong consciousness about pet psychics. I will state again: The only information about a person’s animal I receive during a consultation comes directly from the animal himself or herself and not from other means or spiritual beings.
You can read her full response at this link.

I think that the difference between pet psychics and animal communicators (if indeed there is a real difference) comes down to semantics. It wouldn't surprise me if there are pet psychics who genuinely connect with animals mentally while another group taps into spirit guides. I'm not sure that it matters much to people how their pets are able to communicate with their pet psychic as long as they can actually communicate the pet's messages. But I agree that it's good for pet psychics/animal communicators to explain to their clients how they manage to connect with their animals.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Did Cheryl Blossom Get Breast Cancer? // My Favorite Five Comic Book Illness Storylines

I read an interesting interview earlier this week between Comic Book Resources and Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater about the upcoming Life With Archie story arch involving Cheryl Blossom and her break cancer diagnosis. Goldwater talks about why Cheryl was chosen for this storyline:
Robot 6: First of all, why Cheryl Blossom? Is it because her identity is so tied up with her appearance?

Jon Goldwater: Well, Cheryl’s such a recognizable character—to fans and people only loosely familiar with Archie. We really wanted this story to resonate, so it had to be an important character that fans could connect with...

Robot 6: Miss Grundy died quietly of some vague disease—there wasn’t much detail of her diagnosis or treatment, and she sort of faded away. How will Cheryl’s experience be different? Will we see more of the day-to-day life of a cancer patient?

Jon Goldwater: You nailed it, actually. Ms. Grundy’s passing was sudden and while foreshadowed, not a central issue for the series. Cheryl’s illness is something that’s struck one of the gang, and it shows the others how precious life is.
Goldwater also revealed that Cheryl will reflect on the fact that her family is rich and does not need to worry about affording her medical treatment. It was also revealed that this particular storyline will be confined to the "Archie Married Betty" story line within Life With Archie.

The subject of Cheryl Blossom's breast cancer diagnosis got me thinking about other comic book story lines involving serious diseases. I'm not talking about imaginary stuff like the Legacy Virus or cannibalistic retro-viruses or zombie infections or magic curses or anything like that. I'm talking about creators using the medium of comic books to explore what happens when someone comes down with a real life illness like cancer or AIDS or whatever.

There are some really good story lines involving real life illnesses. Some end in tragedy. Others have happy endings. Tonight, we're going to explore my List of Favorite Five Comic Book Illness Storylines.

5. Northstar Adopts a Dying Baby with AIDS: Northstar is Marvel Comics' first gay character. He first appeared in the late 70s and his homosexuality was a huge open secret, but he actually didn't come out as gay until Alpha Flight #106 in the early 1990s. The story itself was pretty clunky as Northstar ended up screaming "I AM GAY!" to an angry World War II veteran whose favorite son had recently died of AIDS. It's actually not one of my favorite comic books. However, the part I do like is probably the least remembered aspect of that book. The fight between Northstar and Major Mapleleaf ended abruptly after they discovered an abandoned baby hidden away in a trashcan. They rushed the little girl to the hospital and discovered that she was dying of AIDS. Within panels, Northstar succeeded in adopting little Joanne Beaubier (His power is super-speed, don't forget). Joanne passed away shortly after the adoption. Northstar was inspired by her brief life and ended up publicly coming out as a gay man in a huge press conference.

It's unfortunate that Northstar's brief stint as a father is never, ever referenced by current Marvel Comics creators -- especially since she was such an important motivator for the advocate that he was to become. He will likely get married in a couple months to his boyfriend, Kyle. My hope is that they will light a candle at the wedding in memory of Jean-Paul's precious Joanne.

4. Diamond Lil's Breast Cancer Scare: Diamond Lil was a Canadian villain-turned-hero. Her power was her diamond-hard skin. She joined Alpha Flight and managed to save the world a time or two. Around Alpha Flight #95, Lil discovered a lump in her breast. Unfortunately, her super-power prevented physicians from treating her. They couldn't even perform a biopsy of the lump to confirm whether or not it was cancerous. Fortunately, about a year into this storyline, the team encountered an alien enemy that possessed weapons strong enough to cut Lil. She acquired one of the weapons and the were eventually able to perform the biopsy and learned that her lump was benign. I like how they took Diamond Lil's powers and essentially made them a curse by preventing her from seeking the medical treatment she needed to diagnose her breast lump. Fortunately, Lil eventually stumbled upon a solution. But imagine if she hadn't. That's pretty scary.

3. Tom Thumb Tries to Cure Cancer: Long ago, Marvel Comics created a team that's a clear homage to DC Comics' Justice League of America (Hyperion --> Superman; Power Princess --> Wonder Woman; Nighthawk --> Batman; etc...). The Squadron Supreme were an other-dimensional team of heroes. Because their world was outside of "mainstream" comics, Marvel eventually realized that they could do things with the Squadron that they could never do with their main teams like the Avengers or the X-Men. In a nutshell, a villainous menace took over their world and left it in shambles. Everything (government, security, commerce) was in complete and utter shambles. The Squadron Supreme struggled for a while to patch things up, but quickly realized that they had the ability to use their powers, advanced weapons, and brains to rebuild society into Utopia. The Squadron Supreme maxi-series was about the ethics of creating Utopia and how far do you go achieve that goal.

One of the Squadron members was a diminutive scientific genius named Tom Thumb. Early into the maxi-series, he learned that another Squadron member, Nuke, was inadvertently leaking enough radiation to give others cancer. Nuke begged Tom Thumb to devote his intelligence to curing cancer before his parents died. During the course of his investigation of Nuke's powers, Thumb realized that he himself contracted cancer due to exposure to Nuke's radiation. Thumb was then visited by a villain from the distant future, Scarlet Centurion. The Centurion would give him the cure for cancer if Thumb would expose Squadron leader, Hyperion, to a kryptonite-like poison. Thumb, though tempted, refused the Centurion's offer and decided to throw himself into a modern-day search for cancer. Thumb ultimately proved incapable of coming up with a cure and decided to violate his own personal ethics by time-traveling to the future and stealing the medicinal cancer cure. Upon returning home, Thumb discovered that the Centurion's cure was ineffective for treating care in modern-day humanity. He found himself a broken man, unable to use his super-intelligence to beat cancer and mad at himself for succumbing to theft. Shortly after his journey into the future, Tom Thumb lost the battle with the cancer that polluted his body.

I enjoyed the Squadron Supreme maxi-series' attempt to demonstrate the logical descent from good intentions into murky rationalizations that pretty much everyone on this team experienced. Taking Tom Thumb's personal storyline for an example, how far would you be willing to go if you could cure cancer? Would it be worth curing cancer if it only cost the price of one man? Would you be willing to steal for the cure? And if you can justify murder and/or theft in this instance, why not in other instances? That ethic back-and-forth is why I loved this series.

2. D.P.7's Glitter Gets Conned by her HIV-Positive Husband: Back in the mid-80s, Marvel Comics tried a new experiment called the New Universe. It was a new series of original comic book centered around a central theme: The New Universe is the world outside your window. At least it was until the White Event. One day, the planet was bathed in white light for a few moments. After that, a small number of people began developing powers. No alien visitors. No extra-dimensional invaders. No ghosts. No returning from the dead. People within the comic books aged in real times. The New Universe told the stories of small number of newly-powered people who are struggling to figure out what's going on with them. My favorite title was called D.P.7, by the late great Mark Gruenwald and the not-late, but still great Paul Ryan. It involved a group of seven super-powered misfits who escaped from a Wisconsin-based sanatorium. D.P.7 wasn't afraid to explore controversial issues like racism and the draft (after Pittsburgh gets blown up by an irresponsible paranormal powder keg).

Anyway, one of the group's members was a housewife named Stephanie Harrington (eventually AKA Glitter). She could promote healing energy boosts in others. Her husband freaked out when she began glowing and had her committed to the Clinic. Later on in the series, he begged for reconciliation and asked her to return home to live with him and their children. She forgave him and returned home only to find out later the secret reason he really wanted to reconcile. Chuck had been sleeping around while his wife was away and now he was sick from AIDS. He hoped that exposure to his wife's energy would eventually cure him. His illness was eventually revealed and Stephanie was pissed.

I think this was the first time I'd ever seen AIDS referenced in a comic book. I appreciated at the time the message that AIDS isn't a "gay disease". I appreciated the ethical issues addressed by Chuck's illness. I mean, if you found out that you had a terminal disease and the wife that you'd abandoned possibly possessed the ability to cure you, what would you do? And if the husband who abandoned you and then reconciled with later revealed a darker reason for taking you back, what would you do? Gruenwald could have gone with a safe AIDS story, but he didn't. And my 17-year-old mind appreciated his efforts.

1. Sydney Krukowski Survives Breast Cancer: I'm a huge fan of Alison Bechdel's non-defunct comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For. For 25 years, DTWOF shared stories about the lives of a diverse group of women and men. Most of the characters were lesbians or bi-women. The central character, Mo, dated Dr. Sydney Krukowski for most of the final years of the strip. They were an odd pair. Mo was a politically motivate lesbian feminist who wasn't afraid to share her mind (and her gripes) with anyone around her. Sydney was a materialistic academic whose politics often fell far right of Mo's. But their relationship worked for them.

One fateful night, Sydney received news that forever changed her life. She learned from her doctor that she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer. What followed is something I've rarely experienced since. Bechdel took Sydney through a drawn-out journey of breast cancer recovery, including not only the surgery and follow-up treatment, but also the emotional ups and downs that come up with it. Sydney went through periods of isolating from others who hadn't experienced what she was experiencing. She developed a major infatuation with her radiation technician. She ended up having an affair with a colleague (another breast cancer survivor) while away at an academic conference. I'm not saying that Sydney's journey is entirely typical of other womens' experiences with breast cancer. But I am saying that cancer is scary and it can be very messy -- for the cancer survivor herself and for those around her.

So those are my Favorite Five Comic Book Illness Storylines. What's your favorite storyline? Have you read something that really tugged at your heart-strings? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!

10 Same-Sex Couples Travel from Missouri to Iowa to Get Married! // Update!!

About 1 1/2 years ago, the 5th Marriage Equality Bus came to my church and I had the opportunity to witness thirteen separate weddings. Ten of couples married that day were lesbians and three of them were gay male couples. They traveled all the way from St. Louis, MO, to Iowa City, IA, to get legally married in our state since they could not get married in their own state. It was touching (and somewhat overwhelming) to witness the creation of so many new families.

Fast forward to today. The 11th Marriage Equality Bus traveled to Iowa City today. Ten gay and lesbian couples gathered at the Johnson County Administrative Building to get their marriage licenses. After posing for various well-wishers, the group traveled to a nearby gay-affirming church for their weddings and lunch.

I would like to congratulate all ten couples on this very occasion. These couples value the concepts of love, fidelity, and commitment that they would collectively travel 265 miles (each way) to join together in marriage. I wish all of these new families long lives of happiness and joy!

Updated on 03/17/12: The Gazette has a report on yesterday's Marriage Equality Bus trip from St. Louis to Iowa City. Looks like the couples got married at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City. The church's pastor, Rev. Steven Protzman, reported that he's married "hundreds" of couples at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City since gays and lesbians gained the ability to legally marry in 2009.

Yesterday, one of our county supervisors wrote on Facebook about the couples gathering at the County Administration building to receive their marriage licenses. I offered the following comment: "Good for them! Now they need to move to Iowa where their new families will be honored!" It was kind of a joke, but kind of not. I mean, if Missouri isn't going to legally recognize your marriage or respect your family, why stay? Interestingly, that sentiment was considered by at least one couple in the Gazette article:
The marriages have provided a boost to the Iowa City economy. Couples who made the trip Friday said they planned to spend some time in town, and many said they planned to return.

“I know me and my partner will come back,” Carla Howell said.

One couple even said they would consider moving to Iowa City because of the acceptance they’d seen during the trip.

“It seems like a peaceful town, they recognize gays and lesbians,” said Sean Mack, who previously married her wife in Missouri, but was happy to make it official in Iowa City. “(We) don’t have to worry about anybody teasing you.”
Personally, I hope Ms. Mack and her wife take the plunge and relocate to Iowa City. They're more than welcome here.

Once again, I congratulate each and every one of these brides and grooms on their special day yesterday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another Arrest Made in Creekside Market Armed Robbery

Iowa City Patch reports another arrest related to the recent armed robbery at the Creekside Market here in Iowa City. Last month, a robber grabbed the gas station's cashier, held a knife to her throat, and demanded money from the cash register. This weekend, the Iowa City police announced the arrest of one of two men alleged to have acted as look-outs for the actual robber.

Now police have announced the arrest of the man they allege hopped over the counter and threatened the cashier with his knife. Meanwhile a third man has been charged with distracting the clerk immediately before the robbery, but allegedly has fled the state:
Police say they arrested Jackie J. Lane, 18, a transient, after surveillance footage and other evidence pointed to him as the man who jumped over the counter the evening of Feb. 22 and brandished a knife before making off with stolen money.

Officers responded to the scene at Creekside Market, 2601 Hwy 6 East, at 11:02 p.m. and interviewed the female clerk who was on duty during the robbery. According to police, the woman said Lane grabbed her from behind in a choke hold, held the knife to her throat, and said, "You have five seconds to get the money or I am going to slit your throat wide open."

According to the police press release, Lane is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond at the Johnson County Jail. He is facing the charges of first-degree robbery, going armed with intent, and assault with a dangerous weapon.

The look-out for this crime, allegedly Daveon Curry, 18, was arrested as well, and is being held on $70,000 bond. He also has a first-degree robbery charge he's facing, as well as joint criminal conduct and assault charges for allegedly serving as Lane's accomplice.

Dantreil L. Ware, 18, was charged with acting as a distraction to allow Lane to get to the clerk. He, however, has fled the area, returning to the Chicago area.
If convicted, Lane could serve up to 25 years in prison.

Nero at Daycare -- 03/14/12

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

Today was the first day that Nero appeared at daycare since his haircut. I decided that I wanted to do something different with Nero's hair yesterday. I asked them to trim up his ears so that most of the fur was removed. Of course, they had to get rid of most of the fur on his head to even things out. Now he kind of looks like a poodly terrier. I'm still trying to decide if I like it. Mark and D'Angelo definitely hate it. Mark things it throws off the proportions of Nero's body. I've been instructed to grow Nero's hair back out again.

What do you think? Did I give Nero a hair "do" or a hair "don't"? Check it out:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Former "Perry for President" Campaign Chair Comes Out in Support of Gay Marriage

Kathy Potts of Cedar Rapids, IA, is the former chair of the Linn County Republican Party and serviced recently as the Republican committee chair for the Rick Perry for President campaign. More recently, she became a member of the Iowa Republicans for Freedom. She's an evangelical Christian. And she just came out publicly in support of marriage equality:
2011 was a big year for Republicans. We saw leaders emerge and saw candidates drop out. We saw job creation and education being seriously debated, and I felt that the concerns of the American people were heard — for the most part.

What I didn’t hear much of this year was support for marriage equality from the Republican front-runners. I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples and have been vocal about my support, even when it hasn’t always been the popular thing to do in my party.

I heard a lot of rhetoric about gay and lesbian Americans that didn’t fit with what I know to be true and what many Republicans believe. As an evangelical Christian Republican, I know many people who hold conservative values like equality and freedom, but those voices were lost this year. However, I believe in my heart that things are changing. If it weren’t for the loud voices of a few in our party, I do believe more Republicans would stand up in support of marriage equality.

I didn’t always feel that way and my journey toward full support has been a long and intensive one. One of the things that changed my mind on this issue was my children. I used to watch my kids and wonder why equality is a non-issue with them. They love and support their friends, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender or religion.

Then I realized that I was tired of watching adults judge each other while my children could embrace the differences in their friends. After all, that is what being a Christian is all about.

What I learned from the 2012 Republican Caucus was this: If we don’t stand together this year, we will lose. What is our party if not the party of freedom? This is a matter of freedom, and I want people to be free. It’s the American thing to do.
Good for her. More Republicans need to stand up in support of all families -- not just heterosexual families.

Of course, she just got serving as the committee chair for a Republican presidential candidate who actively opposes marriage rights & responsibilities for gay and lesbian couples. He also opposes adoption by gay parents. I'm glad that groups like Iowa Republicans for Freedom exist. But groups like IRF are pointless as long as its members actively support candidates and a political party who actively campaign for the dissolution of gay and lesbian families.

Gay and lesbian families will never retain our legal marriage rights if we don't nurture allies like Potts and the IRF and support them. But we need to remember that the only reason our marital status isn't being voted on this fall is because the Iowa Democratic Party controls the Senate. I fear that people will read Pott's editorial and others like it and begin thinking that the Iowa Republican Party is softening on its approach towards gay and lesbian families. It isn't. Our marital rights will be voted on within the first couple weeks if the Democratic Party ever loses power in the Senate and fails to gain more power in the House. The GOP will fast-track the legal status of our families to Iowa's voters if given the opportunity. That's just a fact.

Hopefully, groups like IRF will gain more power within the GOP given time and exposure to Iowa's gay and lesbian families. But the time isn't now.

Once again, I'm glad that people like Kathy Potts exists in the Iowa Republican Party. But I'm leery of their commitment to equal marriage rights when they actively promote and support clearly anti-gay campaigns and candidates.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Military Troop Survey: DADT Repeal Was No Big Deal

Military Times polled a U.S. Military troops about effects of the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" and they found the a strong majority of those polled found that DADT's repeal had no effect on them one way or the other. 69% found that DADT's repeal had no effect on them. 3% are more likely to stay in the military. 8% are more likely to leave. 1% want to leave military housing. 13% noted negative troop morale. 6% noted positive troop morale. 13% will continue to oppose DADT's repeal, while 12% have accept its repeal.

Meanwhile, Over 70% of military units have experience no impact from DADT's repeal, 10% of units have experienced minor impact, and 0% of units have experienced any major impact on the units.

Lastly, 73% of units reported no negative or positive impact caused by somebody coming out within those units.

In other words, it was no big deal. The biggest impact is being felt by the gay and lesbian service members themselves, many of whom have still not come out, but no longer feel the weight of professional suicide if anyone ever finds out that they are gay or lesbian.

Nero at Daycare -- 03/12/12

Nero had an enjoyable afternoon at doggy daycare today. He was definitely needing some time and space to romp and play. Unfortunately, it was a bit soggy yesterday, especially later in the day. Anyway, he's pretty wiped out tonight. Check it out:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Arrest Made Related to Last Month's Armed Robbery at Creekside Market

Late last month, I wrote about the armed robbery of one of Iowa City's gas stations, Creekside Market. A "black male, approximately 5'10", 180 pounds, wearing a light-colored plaid jacket with a blue shirt or mask covering his face" entered the store and, holding a knife to the cashier's neck, demanded and received an undisclosed amount of cash. Here is a footage of the robbery:

I learned today that there has been a development in this case. Iowa City Patch reports that there has been an arrest in this case. The man arrested is not the robbery suspect himself, but instead a transient accused of keeping watch while the robbery occurred:
According to an Iowa City police criminal complaint, Daveon Curry, 19, address unknown, was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery, joint criminal conduct, and assault with the use or display of a weapon for allegedly serving as a lookout while another man threatened a female cashier with a knife and made off with several hundreds of dollars in cash...

Both Curry and the co-defendant stated to the police that Curry was there acting as a lookout at the crime, according to the criminal complaint. Curry allegedly received $40 as his cut for his role in the crime.
Seeing how a "co-defendant" is mentioned but not identified, it would not surprise me if a second arrest isn't made soon.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How *Not* to Decline a Gay Wedding Invitation

Several months ago, I wrote a blog article about politely declining a gay wedding invitation. It still gets lots of hits every month. I was reminded of that particular blog article when I learned of this 700 Club clip from Right Wing Watch.:

Question: This is from Kathryn who says: ‘I’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding. There is only one problem. My sister is gay and she’s marrying her partner. I don’t know what to do. If I don’t agree, our relationship will be ruined. I don’t even know if I should attend the wedding, much less be a part of it.’

Robertson: That is a very hard decision but you can’t add you’re—if you go what you’re doing is saying ‘I bless this union and I agree that what you’re doing is right.’ You know the Bible is so clear about homosexuality and when you read in what Paul said, he said, ‘Wherefore God gave them up,’ and having given them up they did evil things with their own bodies, men for men and women with women, defaming their bodies. Read Romans, read the Book of Romans, this isn’t something I came up with, read it in Romans. You say, ‘should I go to my sister’s wedding, should I participate,’ the answer is to tell your sister, ‘I love you but I cannot participate a ceremony that is contrary to God’s word, period.’ If she doesn’t like it, if that breaks the union between you, that’s tough luck.
It doesn't surprise me in the least, but Robertson failed (BADLY) to advise any of the suggestions from my earlier blog article. There is no appreciation that Kathryn's sister's desire to include her own sister at her wedding. There is no appreciation that Kathryn's sister is preparing for one of the most precious days of her life. In short, there is no appreciation in Robertson's advise about being kind or considerate towards the sister. There is no thought that maybe Kathryn could come to the wedding and/or attend the reception as a way of being polite, enjoying a piece of cake, and keeping the peace. And there is no attempt to come up with a non-judgmental excuse for skipping the wedding. In fact, Robertson says that it's Kathryn's sister's fault if there's any fall-out from her religious condemnation of her new family and wedding.

Hopefully, Kathryn's comes up with a compromise solution, not unlike this Catholic woman in this discussion thread. She ultimately refused to stand up with the wedding party, but she still attended with wedding and reception with her husband (but without the kids) -- though she needs to quit putting quote marks around words signifying her brother's wedding, union, marriage, family, etc. It's really rude, IMHO. Setting aside her needs for annoying quote marks, this Florida mom found a way to respectfully be with her brother on his special day while still establishing clear limits that respect her own religious disagreement. I don't agree with her disapproval, but I respect her willingness to compromise for the sake of her brother and his new husband.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yet Another Gay Wedding for Marvel? Looks like Northstar's Getting Hitched!

Just yesterday, I questioned if Marvel is plotting a comic book wedding between two of its heroes. Hulkling proposed to Wiccan and Wiccan offered his answer in the form of a kiss. It was all very sweet.

Fast forward to this morning. Marvel Comics announced that there will be a comic book wedding this June. Not over in the Avengers comic books, but in Astonishing X-Men #51. It only natural when a comic book comes up with a tease to wonder who they are teasing about. So let's review the new team roster, due to debut later this month and discuss their wedding potential:

Wolverine: Wolverine is a busy guy. He just opened the Jean Grey School. He leads a couple teams of X-Men. He leads a black ops mercenary team called X-Force. He is a member of the Avengers and I'm pretty sure he recently volunteered for the Big Brothers organization. He's a professional volunteer who can never say "no". It's unlikely that he would get married in a couple months. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time he got married. Maybe he'll marry someone like Viper in order to help finance the school. It's possible, but not terribly likely.

Iceman: Iceman followed Wolverine to the Jean Grey School and serves as the school's financial officer. He's dated in the past, but not for a while. Is it possible that his last girlfriend, the psychotic Mystique, might return to the fold and somehow coerce Bobby into marrying her? Sure, but what's in it for her? Once again, marriage doesn't seem very likely for Iceman.

Gambit: Gambit is a mutant playboy and shared a deep romance with fellow X-Man, Rogue, for a very long time. But they had a messy break-up and (even though he still carries a torch of Rogue) she does not seem very interested in reuniting with Gambit. Once again, not likely.

Cecilia Reyes: Dr. Reyes is the mutant who doesn't want to be an X-Man. However, she keeps showing up in the books. It is very possible that this part-time X-character might have a hunk hidden somewhere. It just seems kind of sudden to reintroduce her to the X-Men just in time to marry her off. Once again, it's possible.

Karma: Up until recently, Karma was a member of the New Mutants. But she followed Wolverine to the Jean Grey School and is apparently getting ready to join the X-Men. She's dated before, but not in years. I don't think Karma is going to get hitched this summer.

Warbird: Warbird is an alien bodyguard who recently came to Jean Grey School to protect her charge. Almost nothing is known about her.

That leaves Northstar: Northstar is Marvel's first gay super-hero. Unlike the others, Northstar has been in a steady relationship for a few years. He's quite devoted to his boyfriend Kyle. It's hard to imagine that Jean-Paul and Kyle won't be the marrying couple in Astonishing X-Men #51! Which got me wondering: where will these two gents get married: in Quebec or New York? After all, they're marriage will be legal in either place.

Assuming that I'm correct with both of my wedding predictions, I am confident that by this time next year I will be able to create an actual list of "Favorite Five Comic Book Gay Weddings"! Mazel!

Catholic Diocese Eliminates Financial Support for Homeless Shelter Over Director's Personal Opinion on Gay Marriage

I read a disturbing story over my lunch hour about Francis House (one of Sacramento's largest homeless shelters) and the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Francis House originally started out as a Catholic-run charity, but has long since become a non-denominational charitable organization. The diocese had been pretty generous with its support of this program. This article indicates that the Diocese spends up to $10,000 annually to Francis House.

Actually, the article indicates that the diocese spent up to $10,000 annually to Francis House. Past tense.

They stopped funding Francis House because the current agency director, Rev. Faith Whitmore, supports equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples:
In a letter last month, the diocese's director of social services said the Rev. Faith Whitmore's public statements on the issues clash with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, said the Rev. Michael Kiernan, the social services director, it is "impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House" as part of its annual Catholic Appeal... In its letter to Whitmore, the Sacramento diocese said it respects the work Francis House does and cannot expect every organization it supports financially to "actively promote Catholic teaching."

"We can expect, however, that they or their leaders not publicly oppose Catholic teaching and that, unfortunately, is the situation in which we find ourselves," the letter reads...

Eckery said he was unsure whether the diocese had received complaints about its donations to Whitmore's agency. "But if we haven't had one yet, we would get one," he said. "We like to get out in front of these things."
Talk about double talk! They don't expect the charities they financially support to promote Catholic teaching, but they will drop you like a hot potato if the charities or their leaders don't promote Catholic teaching.

This is the state of America today. This diocese cannot support an organization that it has supported for years and whose mission it continues to support because its director supports marriage equality. This doesn't have to be Francis House. It could be any homeless shelter with a lesbian board member or free medical clinic with a pro-choice administrator or a food pantry whose volunteer coordinator moonlights as a PFLAG dad.

If they are willing to cut ties with groups because they allow GLBT-affirming leadership, who is to say they won't cut ties because a charitable organization refuses to treat GLBT charity recipients the same as other recipients?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Marvel Plotting Its Own Comic Book Gay Wedding?

Perhaps you remember the blog article a couple times back highlighting my Top Trio Comic Book Gay Weddings and lamenting that I couldn't come up with a "Favorite Five" collection of comic book gay weddings due to the lack of comic book gay weddings. Now it's looking like I might get my chance for a "Favorite Four" collection of comic book gay weddings after reading Avengers: The Children's Crusade #9! Check this out:
Hulkling: I know now that life is way too short for you to be sitting here wasting yours. And mine.

Wiccan: Are you breaking up with me?

Hulkling: And give you yet another reason to sit in the dark doing nothing? Sorry, Kaplan. You're stuck with with. Till death do us part.

Wiccan: Teddy Altman... Did you just propose to me?

Hulkling: Depends. Are you gonna get off your ass and do something?
And he does. Check out that kiss.

"One Million Moms" had a fit when Kevin Keller married Clay Walker over in Archie Comics' Life With Archie #16. It was such a big fit that the comic book sold out of print and now that particular comic is selling on eBay for $50 per issue! Who knows what could happen if the Moms fixated on Marvel's Wiccan and Hulkling?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Next Storyline in "Life With Archie": Cheryl Blossom and her Breast Cancer Diagnosis!

I have been writing quite a bit about Archie Comics and one of my current favorite comic books, Life With Archie. LWA is a magazine-style comic book that tells two separate future tales of life in Riverdale: one where Archie married Veronica and another where Archie married Betty. It's been in the news a lot recently because of the marriage of Lt. Kevin Keller and Dr. Clay Walker, but there's way more to this comic book besides gay weddings. Longtime Archie characters have died in this book. Archie and Verornica are struggling with the end of their marriage. The Lodge family is teetering on the edge of financial ruin. And Betty and Archie are struggling to keep food on their table.

I just learned that LWA is planning to catch up with another fan favorite. Cheryl Blossom is a sexy young woman who was introduced to Archie Comics back in the 1980s. She was originally introduced to serve as a third romantic rival to Betty and Veronica for Archie's affections. She disappeared for a while before being reintroduced to the Archie audience in recent years. I get the impression that she's less vampish that she was originally. Over the years, she has dated Archie and Reggie and Dilton. Like Veronica, Cheryl can be a snob, but she has her soft moments too.

Getting back to LWA, I learned earlier tonight that the Cheryl will be returning to Riverdale soon. Unfortunately, it appears that adulthood isn't working out well for her. Cheryl will be struggling with breast cancer in this new storyline. It's too early to tell if she will survive or if she will eventually succumb to the cancer. But she looks awful in the above image.

Updated Later on 03/06/12: Archie Comics' website confirms the breast cancer storyline and has linked to an AP article regarding comic books tackling "tough issues". It one of those pieces that get published every few months that remind us that comic books "aren't your parents' comic books". I've been reading these types of articles since I began reading comics back in the 80s. Anyway, this is what they had to say about Cheryl Blossom's upcoming breast cancer storyline:
In another story line, Cheryl Blossom, who lit out for California to pursue a film career, is now in her 20s and facing not celluloid dreams, but breast cancer. So, said Victor Gorelick, Archie editor-in-chief, she returns home to be among friends, family and a familiar environment even if she's got guilt over being able to afford her treatment.

"One of the things that comes out is that she feels she's very fortunate that she can have all this treatment because she has medical insurance, the money, to be able to do it," Gorelick said. The story "opens the door that there are a lot of people who cannot afford this kind of treatment and we have to see where that's kind of going to lead."

Monday, March 5, 2012


Check out this great stage production of "8", the story about the 2010 court case that sought to strike down Proposition 8, California's constitutional amendment that banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying. I strongly encourage you to check out this theatrical reenactment of the court transcripts from this trial:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Santorum: I Will Nullify All Exisiting Gay and Lesbian Marriages!

An old Rick Santorum storyline seems to be making the rounds again this weekend. The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday about Santorum's December 2011 interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd about his presidential plans for all of America's existing legally married gay and lesbian couples. Big shocker. He plans to forcibly annul our marriages!

Here is how the interview went late last year:
SANTORUM: I think marriage has to be one thing for everybody. We can’t have 50 different marriage laws in this country, you have to have one marriage law…

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

SANTORUM: Well, their marriage would be invalid. I think if the constitution says “marriage is this,” then people whose marriage is not consistent with the constitution… I’d love to think there’s another way of doing it.
I vented a couple days ago about the hypocrisy of those the political and religious right who complain that GLBT people are scheming to "destroy the family" while simultaneously plotting to wipe out GLBT families! Keep in mind, even Santorum doesn't deny that gay and lesbian couples constitute a family. He's just not opposed to harming those families by nullifying our marriages!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gay and Lesbian Families Under Assault

GLBT people are often accused of attacking "the family" when we seek equal marriage rights, responsibilities, and protections. And yet, we're not trying to disenfranchise heterosexual marriage when we apply for our own marriage licenses. We're not ridiculing straight weddings when he plan our own weddings. We are not attempting to mock heterosexual parenthood when we nurture our own children.

I have become increasingly agitated this week with example after example of social and religious conservatives who have actually done what they falsely accuse us of doing. They have continued a trend of assaulting GLBT people, our families, and our friends. Let's review this week's offerings. I'm assuming you've heard of a couple, but not all:

*Last Saturday, Father Marcel Guarnizo of Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Maryland was the officiating priest at Barbara Johnson's mother's funeral. He first denied Johnson the sacrament of communion because she is a lesbian who lives with her girlfriend. He walked off the altar while she gave a eulogy about her mother. He then left after the funeral -- citing illness -- and refused to go to the cemetery to assist with the burying of Johnson's mother. Fortunately, a retired priest raced to the scene and assisted the the rest of the service. In my mind, the refusal of communion was less concerning to me than the refusal to complete the funeral and the burial. Walking off the altar in the middle of the eulogy was awful tacky, too. But that's just me.

*On Wednesday, people began hearing the story of Al Fischer. He was a music teacher at a Saint Ann's Catholic School in St. Louis who was scheduled to get fired on March 9th -- the day he was to marry his partner of nearly 20 years. His fiance complained about it on Facebook and Fischer's firing got fast-tracked. Fischer then got fired from his other job as music director for a local parish. He was accused of creating "negative publicity" for the Catholic school. The school was fine with the two men living together and attending school functions together as a couple, but their legal marriage was enough to give him the boot.

*Then today, I read about Christian Brothers University withdrawing an invitation to host a conference that featured -- among other speakers -- Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. Isasi-Diaz is known for her support of women's ordination. However, it appears that she upset the university's administration because she spoke at her nephew's gay wedding back in 2009! That's right. She celebrated the wedding of a family member and because of her commitment to her nephew, she is now unfit to speak at a Catholic institution.

*Lastly, I read also this evening about GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's commitment to not only spearhead a federal amendment to the US Constitution banning gay and lesbian couples from legally marrying, but he is also advocating for federal laws that will prevent any state from recognizing any legally married gay couples. It's not enough that states like Massachusetts and Iowa and Maryland and New York allow for marriage equality in our states, while others don't. He is advocating for the wholesale disenfranchisement and destruction of each and every gay and lesbian family in this country.

I am completely sick of people claiming that GLBT people and our advocates are attacking "the family". Have you heard of heterosexuals getting fired for getting married? Have you heard about students being expelled from private schools because their parents are heterosexual? Have you heard ongoing repeated lies and campaigns of defamation against heterosexual families? Have you heard of anyone fired for attending or celebrating the wedding of any heterosexual family member? The answer is a clear and resounding "NO!".

There is indeed an assault on the family occurring daily in this country and the victims of this mass assault? GLBT people and our families. I understand that it is perfectly legal for these institutions to fire gay employees and treat lesbian parishioners like dirt. But it's not right. We need to stand up and promote the inherent dignity of all people in this country.

Gay and lesbian families are as good and stable and noble and fun and fascinating and grounded and healthy as any other family in this country. Some are better than others, but the same can be said about any family out there. We do not deserve to be fired when we create new families through marriage. We do not deserve to have our parenting skills mocked when we have children together. Our parents and our siblings and our aunts and uncles and other extended family members should not be placed in a position of ostracizing us or being ostracized by their church communities. We should not have to defend our marriages at the ballot box every single fricking election cycle.

It's time to stop the assault on GLBT families once and for all. It's not right. It's not just. It's not good for us. It's not good for you. And it's not good for the overall political or social culture.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Archie Comics Sells Out -- In a Good Way!

Earlier this week, I wrote about the American Family Association spin-off group, One Millions Moms, and their belated e-mail blast instructing its members to complain to Toys 'R' Us for selling the Life With Archie #16 comic book, which featured the gay wedding of Lt. Kevin Keller and Dr. Clay Walker. They wanted people to demand that the toy retailer remove the magazine from its stores -- a little over a week after the next issue in the series, Life With Archie #17, came out.

Despite all of the drama over children, comic books, and gay grooms, Life With Archie #16 managed to sell out of stock! Archie Comics issued the following press release about that comic book's commercial success:
New York, NY (March 1) — Archie Comics, the home to some of the world’s most recognizable characters — including Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch — is proud to announce that the company has sold out of LIFE WITH ARCHIE #16.

The issue, which has received widespread media attention around the world, including coverage from ABC NEWS, REUTERS, THE HUFFINGTON POST, GAWKER, THE DRUDGE REPORT, THE NEW YORK TIMES,, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, THE ADVOCATE, OUT MAGAZINE, FOX NEWS and more, features a historic moment for Kevin Keller, the first gay character in Riverdale: He gets married.

Kevin will always be a major part of Riverdale, and we’re overjoyed, honored and humbled by the response to this issue,” said Jon Goldwater, Co-CEO of Archie Comics. “Our fans have come out full force to support Kevin. He is, without a doubt, the most important new character in Archie history. He’s here to stay.”
I'm proud to admit that I have been reading Life With Archie throughout the past year -- long before they'd ever hinted at Kevin's inclusion in the book, much less his wedding. It's a great comic book, full of unexpected and heart-wrenching twists and turns. I strongly encourage you to check it out next time you see it at the store. It's well worth the money!