Monday, April 30, 2012

Surviving Exotic Animals Scheduled to Return to Zanesville, OH, Farm

Remember back in October when 56 exotic animals, including bears, lions, mountain lions, wolves and Bengal tigers were released from reportedly neglectful conditions in Zanesville, OH? Most of the animals killed themselves or were killed by police officers. Five of the animals, a spotted leopard, a black leopard, two monkeys, and a brown bear managed to survive after being nursed back to health at the Columbus Zoo.

Now those five animals will be released back to the care of the widow of the man who initiated last fall's carnage:

Five wild animals will soon be returned to the widow of a man who released them into the Ohio countryside last year, state officials said on Monday, raising concerns of a repeat of the panic that gripped the state when dozens of beasts including lions, tigers and bears roamed free. Seven months after Terry Thompson released 56 exotic animals near Zanesville, Ohio, and then committed suicide, the Ohio legislature still is struggling to draft regulations on wild animal ownership. Ohio is one of only a handful of states with no restrictions on exotic animal ownership. The state Agriculture Department said on Monday it had no legal way to prevent the five remaining animals - a spotted leopard, a black leopard, two Celebes Macaque monkeys and a brown bear - from being given back to Thompson's widow, Marian.

She has said she will take them back to the farm and put them in the cages they fled last October.

"This raises concerns, as she has indicated the cages have not been repaired, and has repeatedly refused to allow animal welfare experts to evaluate if conditions are safe for the animals and sufficient to prevent them from escaping and endangering the community," the Agriculture Department said.
It makes me sick that these animals will be returned to their old cages. My previous article on the subject described animal enclosures that were way too small for the animals within. Columbus Zoo veterinarians described a tiger with a missing tail which was apparently bitten off by another animal in an adjoining cage. The same veterinarian staff described tigers in a cage "filled with standing water, rotting carcasses, and lots of bones". One wolf was kept in an old car. A zebra was stored in a horse trailer. Other animals showed signs of malnutrition.

My hope is that the Columbus Zoo is successful with its effort to block this transfer of custody or else Thompson will listen to the concerns of those speaking out for the animals and make some major upgrades to her animal pens!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Doggy DNA Division

The February 2012 issue of The National Geographic explored the origins and genetics of dogs. Discarded Lies posted a great chart from that magazine, which shows how 85 major dog breeds break down into four basic groups: Wolflike, Herders, Hunters, and Mastifflike. According to this chart, all breeds share all four traits. However, many breeds possess one or two group traits with very little of the other group traits. Check this out:


I don't find it too shocking that Ms. Lion has quite a bit of herder in her, but that's a lot of wolf for such a little dog! Much more wolf than hunter or mastiff. That's for sure!


It's less of a surprise to learn that Nero is mostly hunter and herder. A day playing with the boys or walking through the neighborhood amidst all the squirrels, rabbits, and birds attests to his strong herding and hunting desire.

What breed(s) of dog do you have? How do they break down on this Dog DNA chart?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Will Kevin Keller's Husband Get Shot in "Life With Archie"?

I have been writing a lot this year about my new found admiration for Archie Comics and their various titles. One of the latest story lines that Archie Comics has been hyping involves Cheryl Blossom's return to Riverdale and her breast cancer diagnosis. That particular storyline will debut in the "Archie Marries Betty" side of Life With Archie #22. I just found out earlier today what will happen in the "Archie Marries Veronica" side of that same issue: Kevin Keller's husband will get shot!

It's never been easy being the civilian spouse of a comic book super hero. You usually end up getting killed or raped or you find out that you're a breeding clone or you get kidnapped and replaced by an alien shape-shifter or your marriage ends up getting retconned out of existence. But Kevin Keller is a comic book war hero in an Archie Comics comic book. They were just married, for crying out loud! You don't expect tragedy to strike so soon.

To be fair, neither this article nor this one reveal that Clay will die from this random act of violence. Maybe Kevin will find himself nursing Clay back to health just like Clay did when Kevin got badly injured in a war zone. One hopes so.

Friday, April 27, 2012

MTV Casting Gay Wedding-Themed Reality Show

Remember way back in July 2010 when Iowa-based gay wedding planner Beau Fodor was shopping around a gay wedding-themed reality show concept? At the time, they anticipated that it might air as early as Fall 2010. Two years later...:
The iconic network & television station "MTV" has contacted Iowa's Gay Weddings Planner, Beau Fodor, about the filming of a potential new reality-based show about young (20-something) Gay & newly engaged or married couples.

All applicants will be interviewed & screened for the show.

Filming begins this summer & early fall, across Iowa, Washington & on the East Coast.
So if you're young, gay, and newly engaged, toss Fodor a message. You and your wedding might end up on MTV. The rest of us will have to wait until VH1 does their own gay wedding reality show!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Octomom Receives Corporate Monetary Gifts // Gets Investigated by DCFS

Earlier this month, I was feeling bad for Nadya Suleman (AKA "Octomom") over reports that she was receiving death threats and had her car vandalized over reports that she was granted $2,000 monthly in food assistance from the State of California for her and her 14 kids. Tonight, I'm a bit less sympathetic towards her plight.

Shortly after the death threat reports, Suleman got offered free security services from "numerous security companies". According to TMZ, Suleman was offered round-the-clock security guards for her and the kids until she moved to a new home, which would have a secret location. It is still unclear to me if she took up any of these offers.

More recently, reports came out of squalid living conditions in Suleman's home after her hairstylist contacted the Orange County Department of Children and Family Services. According to TMZ reports, the hairstylist said that there was graffiti throughout the home. Plus, there was reportedly only one working toilet so the children were forced to backyard portable training toilets to relieve themselves. Most startling -- to me, at least -- were allegations that she propped a chair against a bedroom door to prevent the children from getting out!

After the DCFS visited Suleman's home, there were subsequent reports that the home was undergoing extensive cleaning and repairs. According to TMZ, Dr. Drew is footing the bill for this cleaning crew and DialAStar.com has donated "over $10,000" to help with the repairs and cleaning. I guess you do what you can to get DCFS off your back, but it does kind of bother me that these companies are paying this much money for Suleman's home maintenance. Now Suleman is claiming that DCFS workers think she's "Super-Mom". I'll wait until I see the final report (which I'm sure TMZ will somehow get their collective hands on) before I believe that last bit.

The most frustrating Suleman report this week involves reports that she spent $520 on a Brazillian blowout (i.e., chemical straightening treatment) and two hair cuts last week, plus $80 for additional hair products. I understand that the food assistance card wasn't being used for these items, but she was still using household monetary resources on her hair that could be used for her mortgage or utilities or haircuts for the entire household(!). Heck, this particular report itself claims that she let a $150 plumbing job go unfixed at her home because she couldn't afford it. Hence the portable training toilets in the backyard.

The sad part is that Brazilian Blowout, the company that manufactures her hair treatment product is upset that she purchased her product from them while her family is on food assistance. As a result, they are refunding her for her $520 hair procedures and also offering her free treatments in the future, as well as the cost of childcare while she's getting her hair done! Brazilian Blowout even offered to fix the broken toilet!

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Suleman seeking food assistance for herself and her children. I understand that it's difficult to prevent that many little kids from coloring on the walls and damaging parts of the home. I even understand the idea that money might be tight enough that you cannot fix one of the toilets right away (though the porta-potties are pushing it...).

My problem is with her continuing to purchase luxury goods that most people cannot afford to purchase ever when things are going well for our families. My problem is with companies choosing to spend big bucks to fix up her home and provide her with those very same luxury goods. I'm particularly upset with Brazilian Blowout for offering her free services and child care when I doubt they would offer the safe public service to other single moms on welfare.

I get that money is tight right now for Suleman. That's when you sit down with your budget and establish spending priorities. That's when you run to the strip mall hairstylist to have your hair done for a tenth of the price. That's when you weigh the financial option of fixing your toilet versus paying half-grand on your hair.

I'm not saying that Suleman shouldn't splurge on her hair or clothing or whatever. I think it's good for us all to splurge on ourselves occasionally. I'm just saying that NOW isn't the time to splurge.

Fox News Analyst Gay-Baits Sandra Fluke's Engagement // Update Below!!!

Earlier today, it was announced that Sandra Fluke is engaged to be married. Fox News Political and Foreign Affairs Analyst, Monica Crowley, thought it would be funny to tweet: "To a man? "Sandra Fluke Announces Engagement"". Lots of folks thought it was a stupid gay-baiting joke, which prompted a few half-hearted efforts to blame others for not getting her gay-baiting humor: "I love exposing the Left's total lack of a sense of humor." and "@humanadverb "Insinuating" nothing. Straightforward question. No answer yet."

That last one in particular made me chuckle as I observed, "@MonicaCrowley @humanadverb A simple google search shows that Fluke is engaged to Adam Mutterperl. http://bit.ly/Kcm8vD Ho hum joke, Monica."

Just because someone testifies that access to birth control should be available through private insurance does not mean that they are lesbians. And even if one is a lesbian, she's not a joke.

Updated on 04/27/12: Monica Crowley updated her Twitter feed this morning to say: "Regret my tweeted question caused a stir. I certainly & unequivocally apologize to Sandra & anyone else I offended. Not my intention." I appreciate when people recognize that they misspoke and own up to it. Thanks Monica!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Minnesota Senate Defeats Effort to Ban Medicaid from Paying for Ex-Gay Reparative Therapy

While most state legislatures are doing their best to ban Medicaid from paying for birth control and abortion, Minnesota's Senate rejected an effort to prevent mental health providers from billing Medicaid for ex-gay therapy, despite the ineffectiveness of this treatment. This effort was defeated pretty much along the party line. I'll let you decide if it was the Democratic or the Republican Party that overwhelmingly rejected the use of tax-funded medical dollars to pay for ex-gay therapy:


One of the opponents questioned the bill sponsor's belief that Jesus Christ has the ability to redeem anyone. I never knew that Medicaid funds were needed to access Christ's redeeming power...

Meanwhile, prominent ex-gay researcher, Dr. Robert Spitzer, apologizes to GLBT communities for the flawed science behind ex-gay therapy:
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zach Wahls Awarded with "Courageous Love" Award by the Unitarian Univsersalist Society

Iowa City's Zach Wahls, now famous for his infamous support of his lesbian moms before the Iowa House of Representatives last year, has been in the news recently.

This weekend, Wahls was honored by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City with its first ever Courageous Love award:
The inspiration for the award, which had never been presented from the Iowa City congregation before, was Wahls himself, said Sally Hartman, vice president of the Board of Directors. “We were just thinking, ‘What can we do for this guy?’” she said. “We were totally blown away and inspired by him.”

Wahls’ fame erupted after a January 2011 speech he gave before the Iowa House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about the fact that growing up with two mothers had no impact on the content of his character. In the speech, he said his family isn’t different from any others, and that the sense of family comes from the commitment its members make to one another.

Reflecting on Wahls’ speech, Hartman poured over the Unitarian Universalist Association literature and came across the Courageous Love Award, which has been given out at other churches to recognize people who bring love forward in communities. She said they’ll now give it out sporadically as worthy recipients are identified.

At the service Sunday morning, the award presentation prompted a standing ovation among the audience, including his mothers, who still attend the church, which eventually broke into loud cheers.

The church has long advocated for social justice causes, including marriage equality. The congregation has promoted a “Welcoming Church” theme, which is a message that seeks to encourage diversity and support it in the larger community, Hartman said...

Wahls said he hopes to dispel some of the myths and stereotypes that come with being the child of a same-sex couple. There is nothing intrinsically hard about having LGBT parents, he said. “What’s difficult or hard is the perception of having LGBT parents,” he said. “It’s the people who think it’s a big deal.”

Nero at Daycare -- 04/24/12

Nero had a great time at doggy daycare today. Just look at the smile in that first pic and see if you disagree! Check it out:


Monday, April 23, 2012

Boy Scouts Boot Lesbian Mom from Pack // Our (Brief) Involvement as Pack Parents

The Boy Scouts' anti-gay discriminatory policies are in the news again. The most recent victim was a lesbian mom who stepped up to serve her sons' troop when nobody else wanted the job and then got kicked out for failing to meet the Boy Scouts' "high standards of membership" when she began questioning inconsistencies in the pack's finances.

Our family was involved with the Cub Scouts for a few months. D'Angelo was recruited by them at his school and he really wanted to join them and do things with his friends. Mark and I were extremely hesitant about allowing him in the group. We told them straight up that he has two dads and that they needed to let us know right away if there were problems because we weren't going to tolerate our son getting trampled on by the organization's discriminatory policies. They said that things would be fine and we finally relented. Fortunately, D' tired of the Scouts within a semester and we moved on to Tae Kwon Do.

The recent story of the expelled lesbian pack leader reminded me of our brief involvement with the Scouts. I wrote a couple blog articles over at Beliefnet about our initial involvement with the Cub Scouts and thought it might be fun to transfer them to this blog tonight. Enjoy!

D's Been Recruited (Originally Published 01/22/09): Our youngest son was recruited yesterday into the Cub Scouts. He's all excited about the group and wants to join. This is where the political meeting our reality: when a young child wants to join a private religious organization that actively exercises its right to exclude people like his fathers.

The big introductory meeting was tonight. Husband Mark opted to go with D'. We warned him immediately that we had some questions for the pack leader before we made a decision either way. Stuff like, will it be a problem that D' has two dads? Is there a risk that he'll be kicked out after getting established because some busy-body parent or troop leader throws a snit about us?

Mark learned that the troop is sponsored by a local Methodist church. About 6 years ago, there was lots of drama within both the church and the troop about how they would respond to families like ours. We learned that we cannot become official leaders within the organization. The church is opposed to this and the pack would be disaffiliated by the national BSA. Otherwise, we're welcome to come to meetings, to be involved with activities, etc.

We've reluctantly agreed to give the group a chance. Mostly because many of D's classmates are in the group and we know most of the parents involved with our individual troop and generally get along with them. I'm hopeful that we won't regret this decision. If D' wasn't so gung ho about joining up and getting involved, I wouldn't have even gone this far into the group.

Now we have to figure out how to carve out a wooden car for next month's big derby race event....

D' the Cub Scout (Originally Published 02/13/09): I wrote a few days ago about how we hadn't heard anything from the Cub Scouts about D's application process. I was questioning whether I was being overly protective and defensive or whether they were just being passive-aggressive about letting him join.

Turns out that it was the former.

We received a call yesterday about a last minute Scout event for kids to work with a special electric saw. Of course, given that the derby event happens on Thursday most of the kids already had their cars carved out.

Our car is pretty basic. Kind of looks like a sedan, though D' was attempting a military-style vehicle. We finally put on the wheels tonight and will have it weighed tomorrow evening.

Anyway, D' and I went to the meeting last night to figure out how to do the wheels and to formally submit his application and application fee. The guys there were pretty friendly and they even let me carve out my own derby car with their electric saw. I've prepped and painted the new car and might have it ready to race by Thursday evening.

So now D's a Cub Scout. I've let my son join a religious quasi-military organization that actively boots out gay members and atheists. I'd sworn that I'd never let him join that group. And then I caved. And so far it's not been a bad experience.

Time will tell.

More Details on Gender-Swapped Archie & "Reversedale"

I wrote this weekend about an upcoming storyline in Archie #636 where Archie, Betty, and Veronica get magically transformed into Archina (?), Billy, and Ronnie! I'm still curious about this new storyline, but it looks like I got at least one detail messed up, judging from this New York Post interview with Archie Comics president Mike Pellerito. Sabrina the Teenage Witch doesn't cause this magical transformation. Salem the Cat does!

Here are some more details:
The gender swap happens after Sabrina the Teenage Witch's cat hears Archie and long time love interests Betty and Veronica argue over who has it easier - boys or girls... Betty and Veronica are also affected by Salem's spell - becoming Billy and Ronnie in a world where they've always been boys and Archie has always been a girl. Pellerito said "Archina is still the most popular kid in school," and she still can't decide between the filthy-rich Ronnie and the perfect boy next door Billy. "Even in 'Reversedale,' some things are forever," Pellerito said.
Still no word if Jughead gets affected by Salem's spell. However, it might be a blessing in disguise if he's left out. Archina is an awful name. I don't even want to imagine what new name they'd come up with for a female Jughead!

Updated Later to Add: I made the mistake of reading the comments section of the New York Post story and kind of wish I hadn't. Check some of these out:

"And they wonder why the company is in the dumpster and no one wants to buy it."

"The fags & lesies can't produce a pop culture so they suck on straight people's legacy. Rosie and Chaz strike again, probaBLY with Oprah's money."

"This shows just how twisted and fugged up we are becoming."

"sick"

Forgive me for pointing out the obviously, the gender-swapping in comics isn't hardly original. I don't even think it's original for Archie Comics! I've seen it happen to members of the X-Men, Justice League, Alpha Flight, etc.

This isn't a long-term storyline dealing with homosexual sexualities or transgender identity. It's a short (probably one- or two-issue) story where the main characters get transformed by magic into the other gender and where they eventually come to a greater appreciation of the other person. I mean, I just read a similar storyline in one of the Archie digest books where Archie and Mr. Weatherbee get mind-swapped. It's pretty much the same thing.

Sometimes a story is a story, without political context or agenda. Chill...

Focus on the Family Reaching out to Critics While Pushing Anti-Gay Consititutional Amendment

Late last week, I was reading a guest blog article by Nicole Wick on Matthew Paul Turner's "Jesus Needs New PR" blog. Her post talked about her recent invitation to visit the Focus on the Family headquarters. Wick is not a huge fan of Focus on the Family and has openly disagreed with them on a variety of subjects. Regardless, Focus on the Family reached out to her and appeared receptive to her direct critiques of the organization and their policy over-reaches. Ultimately, she came away from the visit feeling much more positive about the organization.

This isn't the first outreach effort by people from Focus on the Family. Just recently, Focus on the Family staff agreed to meet with people from Soulforce after years of avoiding them. Once again, Soulforce members left their meeting feeling like Focus on the Family staffers got that they were causing harm through their active anti-gay stances, among other issues.

At the end of her post, Wick asked if readers could extend grace to Focus on the Family. She also asked what the group would need to do to change others' opinion of them.

I was initially glad to learn that Focus on the Family was actively reaching out to those who disagree with them. Can I extend grace to Focus on the Family? Yes.

What would they need to do to change my opinion of them? Well, pretty much what they're doing right now.

Unfortunately, my initial feel-good reaction to Wick's post was almost immediately shattered by news that Focus on the Family is pushing through a "license to discriminate" constitutional amendment in Colorado. If this passes, individuals and businesses will be free to ignore any law that they determine burdens their religious beliefs.

I immediately complained about this news in the comments section. Esther Fleece, assistance to the President; Millennial Relations at Focus on the Family quickly responded to my complaint. She assured me that the proposed Religious Freedom Amendment "has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community." According to Fleece, it's about birth control and abortion. Catholic Charities of Colorado has already expressed it clear desire to discriminate against gay and lesbian families in Colorado and One Colorado has been warning people about the effects of this amendment on GLBT people.

I subsequently thanked Fleece for assuring me that this amendment "will have no ramifications for GLBT people or our families" and sought assurances from her that Focus on the Family will publicly back us up should this amendment pass and be used against us. I'm still waiting for that assurance from her.

Maybe Focus on the Family will get it someday. Maybe they will understand that you cannot reach out to people with one hand while writing legislation with your other hand that outright harms them. Until then, I don't see much fruit coming from Focus' current outreach campaign.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

UCC Collegium Meeting with former Puerto Rican Conference Leaders this Weekend

Back in July 2005, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ overwhelmingly passed a resolution affirming equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender (i.e., gay marriage, as well as traditional heterosexual marriage). The resolution affirmed marriage equality both in the church and under the law. It was a big thing. This was really the first time that a mainline Christian denomination came out in support of gay and lesbian families and it was all over the news. If you look up the United Church of Christ online, you will find statements from UCC national leaders and pastors and church members who glowingly support marriage equality. If you come to my own church, Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City, you will find a building full of people who fully support marriage equality.

HOWEVER... Not everyone in the United Church of Christ supports marriage equality. We are a congregational denomination. For the most part, we are a bottom-up denomination. We have certain beliefs that unite us (primarily belief in Christ as our Savior) and we practice certain shared sacraments. But individual churches set our own policies. General Synod can vote on a resolution that affirms GLBT people and marriage, as well as supporting fair trade coffee and abolishing the death penalty and promoting Sanctuary Churches all it wants. Many UCC churches gladly ignore those resolutions and pretend they never existed.

Many UCC churches are embarrassed over the gay issue. It's not that they hate gay people. However, they hold a conservative theological view of human sexuality that does not support GLBT sexual identity, relationships, or families. I'm sure that many of them would gladly welcome an inquiring gay person into their church, but they certainly don't affirm that person's relationship and will not allow that person to get married within the church. It's the church's right to hold to that belief system, despite of the national UCC's public stances.

The problem is that these local UCC churches feel saddled with the national UCC's stances even though they disagree with those stances. Other people read about the United Church of Christ supporting gay marriage and Smalltown United Church of Christ is seen as a supporter of gay marriage even though they don't. As a result, the UCC lost lots of church's because of the Equal Marriage Rights resolution. It was seen by them as the last straw.

One of the more notable marriage inequality defectors wasn't a church. It was a whole Conference (geographical grouping of UCC churches); specifically the Puerto Rico Conference. Immediately following the General Synod EMR resolution vote, all of the Puerto Rican delegates walked out of the Synod hall. They got up and left. Within a year, the entire Conference officially cut ties with the United Church of Christ. Because the denomination affirmed my marriage and others like it.

Fast forward to today... It was reported earlier this week that four members from the UCC's Collegium of Officers (Rev. Geoffrey Black, the UCC's general minister and president; Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister for Justice and Witness Ministries; Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister for Local Church Ministries; and Rev. James Moos, executive minister for Wider Church Ministries) left this past Friday for Puerto Rico in an effort to rebuild a relationship between the denomination and the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico. From the UCC website:
"My hope is that we can engage in respectful and thoughtful exploration of the implications of any kind of relationship, especially since there is still a lot of healing to be done," said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister for Justice and Witness Ministries. The "healing" stems from the Puerto Rico Conference's decision in 2006 to withdraw from the UCC following the General Synod 25 vote in 2005 in favor of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. A half-dozen Puerto Rican delegates walked out of the Atlanta General Synod after the resolution passed... The Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico had been affiliated with the UCC since the denomination's founding in 1957. "There had always been some discomfort among some in the Puerto Rico churches over the Open and Affirming stance of the UCC," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC's general minister and president. "We received their invitation to join them in discussion, and we've been sensitive to find the opportune time to visit to continue that conversation."
It's unclear where this revived relationship is heading. It's possible that the Puerto Rican Conference (or at least part of the former Conference) may eventually rejoin the UCC. Or it's possible that they will never rejoin the denomination itself, but will seek some other form of official fellowship. Regardless, this weekend's gathering in Puerto Rico shows that nothing is final. Forgiveness is possible. Grace is possible. Reconciliation is possible. Things might not be like they once were, but relationships can be rebuilt following conflict. I'm not holding out hope that all will be fixed by the end of day tomorrow; but I do hold out hope that both sides will talk and listen and begin the long process of patching things up in the long run.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gender Bending Comes to Riverdale this Summer!

It's no secret that Archie Comics is quickly becoming one of my favorite comic book companies. I'm really enjoying Life With Archie, which has future parallel story lines showing what would happen if Archie married Veronica Lodge or Betty Cooper. The comic book made international headlines when gay character, Kevin Keller, married another man. More recently, they received attention for an upcoming LWA breast cancer storyline involving Cheryl Blossom. I've also been enjoying contemporary stories in Archie, such as his current romance with Valerie from Josie & the Pussycats, as well as Kevin Keller, which has featured his first date and (most recently) his prom date with a secret admirer!

I learned earlier this week that Sabrina the Teenage Witch will be causing trouble for Archie and the Gang later this year. She apparently gets tired of watching the boys and girls squabble with each other and decides to help them relate to each other a little bit better:
In August’s edition of Archie Comics, Archie becomes Archina, and Betty and Veronica become Billy and Ronnie. It’s time for a heady examination of gender politics in the lives of teenagers.
I recently began watching old cartoon reruns of Archie's Funhouse and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and this is classic Sabrina mayhem. Her aunts tell her to keep her magic to herself, she decides to do a magical good deed, and it blows up in her face. She says that she's learned from her mistake and then repeats this cycle the very next week!

Let me just add that "Archina" is an awful name. Just sayin'...

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for Archie #636, which is scheduled to come out in late summer 2012.

Back from my Involuntary Blog Break

Last Sunday, I was checking my email and doing some iTunes activities and my computer (which has been having problems for months) finally crashed. As a result, I have been out of commission for nearly one week.

When you run a blog, you go through periods where it's difficult to come up with new topics. Or you just get tired. This wasn't one of those times. There were tons of little things here and there that I really wanted to write about -- or else see what I can do with that topics. So it's been frustrating to wait for my computer to get mended.

Anyway, it's good to be back. I look forward to sharing more thoughts about events that interest me and (hopefully) you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mutiny on the Set of "Biggest Loser" // Update on the Mutiny Below!!! // Further Update: Mutineers Revealed!!!

A month or so ago, I got directed to Matthew McNutt's blog. He's a Baptist youth pastor and he's also a former contestant from NBC's The Biggest Loser. I pop over to his blog about once weekly to see if anything's up. What's up is a developing story from last week involving the current The Biggest Loser cast. Keep in mind that I used to watch this show quite a lot, but I've fallen away in recent seasons. I've seen one episode from the current season earlier this month. I know that people find the show inspirational, but I've found the contestants increasingly petty with who gets voted out of the show. Since I don't find that inspirational and since I'm usually handling Tae Kwon Do practice with the boy, I've pretty much dropped the show from my usual viewing habits.

Back to the developing story. Last week, TMZ reported that most of the active contestants essentially went on strike after learning that eliminated contestants were being offered the opportunity to return to the show. As McNutt observes, this has been happening for several years. The eliminated contestants continue working out and dieting and home and a small number of the more successful contestants come back in one way or another. The contestants walked off with the goal of getting The Biggest Loser's producers to prevent the eliminated contestants from returning.

The Biggest Loser contestants gambled. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like their gamble paid off. Production resumed last week on the show and at least two of the current contestants got booted off the show! McNutt said that there really was no other way for the show's producers to respond to the walk off. He said that they needed to send a message to other reality TV contestants that they cannot team up and hijack a show for disagreeing with some aspect of production.

Updated on 04/11/12: I was tired last night and just wasn't in the mood for television. So imagine my surprise when I woke up and found a HUGE amount of hits to this article on The Biggest Loser's mutiny. My immediate thought was, "What did I miss last night???"

Confession time. After learning of the mutiny back in February, I became a weekly viewer (last night being the exception) of The Biggest Loser. Confession time over.

This is what prompted last night's renewed interest in The Biggest Loser mutiny:
Viewers of “The Biggest Loser” were intrigued Tuesday night by the promo for next week's episode. Trainer Bob Harper walks through the house looking for the contestants, and it seems everybody goes missing. Fans who follow “The Biggest Loser” spoilers have been waiting to see how this would play out on television, and it sounds like the time has finally come. Tuesday night's preview shows Buddy saying that he never saw it ending this way, and fans want to know what exactly is coming up on this show...

TMZ's reports had indicated the walkout was due to a twist where eliminated contestants had an opportunity to return to the game. Given the synopsis for the May 1 episode, it sounds like TMZ had the right information. Of course the big question now is who leaves “
The Biggest Loser”? As this all happened in February, fans at the Fans of Reality TV forums were discussing the events. One poster in particular named Sheila caught some very interesting tweets by Mark, which have since been taken down.

Mark's tweets were mostly replies to followers and fans that happened at the exact time the “mutiny” was said to have happened. In reading the messages, Mark seemed to disclose that he was one of the contestants who left the show. Sheila posted a long list of his tweets at the time, which included,

“I had to walk away from the drama rather than care about cash/prizes. Hopefully people will understand... but know there was no protest. I am thankful for the experience and the openness of all viewers... Unfortunately this has been a drama filled season... Pray for me, standing up for what is right is not always popular... Home is good... everyone knows this but it had to be said.”
If TMZ's report is correct, that two contestants ended up leaving the show, “The Biggest Loser” spoiler fans are quite curious to know who the other person is..
Everybody wants to know who mutinied. The sad truth is that I have no clue. But we will all know next Tuesday.

Updated on 04/18/12: This particular post has been extremely popular. Everybody wants to know who walked off the set of The Biggest Loser last February. Since last week's episode, I've had thousands of hits for this particular post, so it's only fair that I follow up. Unfortunately, my home computer hard drive is busted so I couldn't do an update until this morning.

Hopefully by now, folks know that the "mutineers" were Mark and Buddy. According the show narrative, the contestants somehow found out that all of the season's former contestants were coming back to compete for a chance to return to the show and compete for the grand prize. The contestants acknowledged that this isn't something new. HOWEVER, they thought it was unfair that the formers got to go home and be with their families while they were stuck on the ranch and competing for the grand prize and meeting the First Lady and traveling to Hawaii and working out with world famous trainers, etc., etc... It was pointed out to them that it was in their contracts that the formers were going to get a chance to return. The current contestants didn't care. It was unfair for the formers to return this close to the end. Ultimately, Mark and Buddy walked; while Kim, Conda, and Jeremy had a chance to vent, but ultimately stayed on the show.

I understand the contestants' frustration, but I think they made a mistake. But it was their mistake to make. I wish them well and hope they keep the weight off!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 04/17/12

My computer's having issues, which means blog content will be a bit low for the next couple days. But that's no reason to ignore my favorite standard poodle! Nero's having a blast this afternoon at his doggy daycare. Lots of running, wrestling, and barking, which means he's sure to nap all evening! Check it out:



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Florida Legislator Drops Effort to Legalize Dwarf-Tossing

Remember last fall when Florida Representative Ritch Workman filed House Bill 4063, which would have repealed a law that essentially bans dwarf-tossing? Workman thought that House Bill 4063 was a viable jobs bill. Gary Arnold of the Little People of America argued that dwarf-tossing is "exceedingly dangerous", that it places little people at high risk for neck and back injuries, and that is is objectifying and demoralizing for the people being tossed.

I found HB 4063 to be unsafe, immoral, and undignified and advocated for its defeat. Fortunately, my wish has now come true. Workman (reluctantly) dropped this repeal effort last week:
"I find the practice of dwarf-tossing repulsive. I would never go to an event. But what I found more repulsive is that in 1980, this state decided that a person of sane mind -- a full human with a full human mind -- could not make their own decision to act like a fool," he told Florida Today, before explaining why he decided to drop the proposed repeal.

After the repeal effort was reported, Workman said he was contacted by little people from all over America who asked him to reconsider. "They are lawyers, elected officials and all struggle to get past that carnival thing from 100 year ago," he told Florida Today. "I had a doctor, a lovely woman from New York, call me and say, 'Has anyone ever stopped you on the street and hugged you? Rubbed your head? Taken pictures of you? I said, 'No.'"

"She said, 'Well, I'm a doctor, and people think I'm some sort of circus clown," he continued. "And although I agree that I should have the right to be tossed in a bar if I want to, can you please stop talking about this?'

At that point, Workman decided to stop fighting for the repeal, adding, "Not because I'm wrong on the liberty issue, but sometimes human dignity needs to prevail."
As noted in my earlier post, Florida is one of only two states that bans dwarf-tossing. Unfortunately, Iowa is not the other state. I'm not aware of any dwarf-tossing events going on here, but it really bugs me that it is legal in the first place. I don't say this often, but Iowa really needs to take a page from Florida's law books and begin the process of enacting its own anti-dwarf-tossing law.

In the meantime, I symbolically celebrate alongside the LPA following news that this repeal effort has been dropped.

Hilary Rosen/"Working Mom" Dust-Up Reveals Larger Conflict about Gay Adoption and Parenting

I understand why social and political conservatives are upset with CNN Democratic correspondent Hilary Rosen's comments last week and Ann Romney never working a day in her life (though considering most liberals also objected to her comments, the resulting scorn towards the President and his administration seems odd. But I digress...) What I don't understand and appreciate is the resulting attacks and disrespect towards Rosen herself as an adoptive lesbian mother, as well as other gay and lesbian adoptive parents.

It started out with Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue who predictably tweeted "Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own."

Donahue was quickly reproached by RNC communications director Sean Spicer who tweeted "The @catholicleague should be encouraging adoption, not demeaning the parents who are blessed to raise these children". Of course, he quickly revoked any sense of good will towards gay and lesbian adoptive parents (and for that matter single adoptive parents -- gay or straight -- of whom there are many) by adding "that is not what i said RT @drdigipol: Love it RNC's @Seanspicer" and subsequently "I agree w that RT @JoeyMcGoebbels @catholicleague they only believe children deserve a mother and a father!".

I've read other articles and blogs attacking Rosen's sexuality, her mental health, and her commitment as a mother. Interspersed with much of it is a general attitude that gay parenting is inferior.

I understand that Rosen messed up with what she said about Ann Romney and her status as a "working mom (AKA full-time homemaker). I understand that she is a public person with political connections to the DNC. And I understand that it is part of the political cycle that we live with that these types of stories have the tendency to blow up and live on for a while.

But I object to the broader implication of adoption parenting being less than birth parenting. I object to the notion that gay and lesbian couples, as well as single parents, are inferior choices to heterosexual couples.

I am an adoptive father. My husband and I have raised children together for over a decade. I will not bad mouth their families of origin, but I will challenge the notion that they are worse off now than they were then. And I will challenge the notion that they would be better off raised by parents other than us.

Like any other parents, we love our children and they love us. Our children have a good home and adequate financial resources. We have firm rules and consistent discipline. We laugh. We console. We sometimes get upset. We apologize and make amends, when needed. They learn about the world around them from us and we definitely learn more about the world through their questions.

Our boys don't do well despite having gay dads. They do well AND they have gay dads.

Catholic League and the RNC and every other right wing blogger can minimize the legitimize gay families all they want. The fact is that they have no clue. They have only talking points. Gay and lesbian families are assessed and studied all the time and these studies consistently reveal that the children of gay and lesbian parents are no better and no worse off than the children of heterosexual parents.

Attack Hilary Rosen all you want. She's a big girl in Washington DC with thick skin who's used to political backs-and-forths. But leave every day gay dads, lesbian moms, and our kids out of this fight. We didn't say anything about Ann Romney and our kids don't deserve political potshots from RNC operatives.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Iowa Senator: Parents Receiving Child Support Should be Required to Take Drug Tests!

Iowa Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, is very concerned about children who receive child support from their own parents. One of his constituents reportedly told him that he believes that his ex is using child support payments to purchase illegal drugs. Instead of encouraging this father to address this concern in a family court, he decided to push for an amendment to a Senate budget bill that would require those receiving child support on behalf of their kids to submit to drug tests at least twice annually:
A person paying child support under Chelgren’s proposal could require the recipient to a drug test every six months as long as they pay the costs.

Some Democratic senators openly laughed as Chelgren made the proposal.

Sen. Jack Hatch, who is leading discussion on the state’s health and human services budget bill, told the Senate that he believes the proposal is anti-woman and could unfairly be used by vindictive spouses. He further expressed concerns that the proposal would clog the court system.

Chelgren rejected that argument but ultimately withdrew his amendment. “We shouldn’t be ducking our head and running away every time there’s a difficult issue coming up,” Chelgren said. Chelgren then withdrew his amendment, noting it’s a policy issue and doesn’t directly pertain to the area of law in the bill, Senate File 2336.
I never did hear what would happen if someone came back with a positive test result.

Am I wrong in thinking that somebody who believes that his/her ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, or ex-boyfriend is using around their kids already has options at their disposal? They can go back to family court. They can turn to the police. They can call the DHS. The problem, I would guess, is that they don't have enough circumstantial proof to request a drug test.

This amendment would force any person to require their ex (regardless of even a hint of truthiness) to undergo a drug test in order to continue receiving the financial assistance they need to raise their child. What an invasion of people's personal rights and privacy! This is the antithesis of Republican "small government" policy.

Thankfully, this amendment was laughed off the Senate floor. Ultimately, it's just another reason why Iowa benefits from having a legislative system controlled by two separate political parties. It doesn't stop the intrusive craziness from showing itself. But it does (usually) prevent the intrusive craziness from actually getting passed through both houses and sent to the governor!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gay Rights = The Iceberg That Sunk the Titanic

It's been nearly one century since Lady Bellamy died in the sinking of the Titanic. Leave it to the Religious Right to seize on this history anniversary to attack GLBT people and gay rights in general. Right Wing Watch posted a clip from Truth In Action Ministries' film, "Truth that Transforms":
(Anti-gay activist Mathew) Staver warned that the “homosexual agenda is the moral iceberg that we need to steer clear of” and maintained that it is “the biggest threat I believe in our lifetime to religious freedom and the fundamental values we share here in America.” While (Harry) Jackson said the “homosexual agenda” is “one of those icebergs that if we don’t navigate around them correctly, will take us under,” (Michael) Brown claimed “we’ve already hit the iceberg and the ship is already going down” and (Richard) Land insisted that “we’re taking on water, the only question is whether or not we’re going to be able to survive and the ship won’t sink.” Staver predicted that opposition to gay rights is bound to be “criminalized and targeted for assault” and (Bill) Federer even asserted that “there are just a couple steps before the military could be used in a persecution of those that are viewed as enemies of the new state belief system.”
Check it out:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Text from Hillary

I know I totally missed this boat, but (Real Housewives fan that I am) I couldn't resist this one:


I knew I caucused for her for a reason!

Gay Family Law in America Today

Check out these contrasting maps of the USA today, as it stands for gay couples and our families:


The greener the state, the better off things are for gay families. The dark green states have marriage equality (8 states plus Washington DC). The light green states have comprehensive civil union or domestic partnership laws (9 states plus Washington DC). The stripey states recognize out-of-state gay marriages, but do not allow gay couples to marry there (3 states). The lightest green states have limited recognition of our relationships (3 states). The white states do not recognize our relationships at all (30 states).


Contrast that first map with this map. The dark orange states have constitutional amendments that ban marriage rights and any of form of relationship recognition of gay couples (19 states). The light orange states have constitutional amendments that ban marriage rights for gay couples (10 states). The stripey states have DOMA laws that ban marriages and other forms of relationship recognition of gay couples (7 states). The lightest orange states have DOMA laws that ban marriage rights for gay couples (30 states). And the white states have no legal bans on marriage or relationship recognition for gay couples (11 states + Washington DC).

Check out this website for more detailed analysis.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Marvel Continues to Hint at Its Own Comic Book Gay Wedding

Say what you will about Archie Comics' recent gay wedding in Life With Archie #16, they didn't over-hype it. I mean, they hyped it. That's what you do when you market something. But they didn't stretch everything out and try to make it some huge gimmick. I fear that Marvel is doing a bunch of over-hyped gimmicky about Northstar's upcoming gay wedding over in Astonishing X-Men #51.

Early last month, Marvel announced a wedding in that issue of Astonishing X-Men. Given the cast, it makes most sense that Northstar (the gay male member of the group and the only one who actually has a serious romantic relationship) was heading towards a gay wedding. Since then, there have been creator hints towards a gay wedding and Astonishing X-Men #49 featured inner dialogue by Northstar about his love and devotion towards his boyfriend Kyle.

Now Marvel told comic book retailers the following news about the Astonishing X-Men wedding issue:
Marvel have told retailers today, regarding Astonishing X-Men #51 ships on the 20th of June (and odds are we’ll get the proposal in issue #50) that they have “secured mainstream coverage both on-air and in print, for something that has never been seen inside the pages of a Marvel comic. Not only that, but some retailers are already saving the date and are hosting special wedding events in their stores... This will be an event that will have worldwide mass-media attention, driving customers to your stores. Because of the nature of the event and the promised mass media break, we cannot say who will be tying the knot, but we promise that it will send shockwaves throughout the nation.”

The news of Northstar and Kyle’s wedding is due to break through the mainstream press on the 22nd May, the proposal comic going on sale the day after.
Somewhere, I sense One Million Moms are preparing for their next comic book boycott...

Santorum Suspends His Campaign

Remember how thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate/self-appointed kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats and his group The FAMiLY LEADER endorsed Rick Santorum as their GOP presidential choice following a lengthy courting process involving their borderline racist endorsement application (AKA "the Marriage Vow")? As recently as last week, BVP was urging Santorum to keep surging forward towards possible victory:
“Unless I completely misread these delegates, there is no way they choose a Massachusetts moderate with an Etch-a-Sketch strategy,” he said, referring to a comment by a Romney aide about how the campaign would be reset for the general election, just like Etch-A-Sketch toys can be shaken to create a fresh drawing board.

Well, Santorum's out.

Octomom's Car Vandalized // Death Threat Left... Over Food Stamps

I wrote early this month about news that Nadya Suleman (AKA "Octomom") receiving $2,000 in food stamps for her kids. That same article talked about how she began receiving phone-based death threats after the initial story was made. This isn't to say that she wasn't working. She just wasn't earning enough right now to support her 14 children and keep a house over their heads.

I read early today on TMZ that the death threats against Suleman jumped from stupid phone harassment to actual vandalism and written death threats(!):
Nadya Suleman tells TMZ, she heard several strange noises outside her house early Saturday morning -- but brushed them off and went back to sleep. When she got out of bed at 9am, Nadya says her neighbors were at her door ... and informed her that her car window had been broken.

Whoever vandalized the car knew who his/her victim was too -- because the criminal left behind a handwritten note, reading, "Leave California or you will die."
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments in that article. More than a couple people have already accused Suleman of vandalizing her own car in an attempt at sympathy.

What is this world coming to? Death threats because somebody sought government assistance after three years of struggling to financially support one's children? Even the Duggars rely on the kindness of strangers to make raising a family work. I can't recall hearing of any death threats focused on that family.

I understand that people are upset that Suleman is a single mom who brought way too many kids into the world. But it's never cool to threaten another person's life. Let her receive the food assistance needed to feed her kids while she regroups and creates a new financial plan for her family. But the threats against Suleman and her property need to stop!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tim Tebow and Easter

Tim Tebow preached this Easter weekend at Celebration Church in Georgetown, TX. The church's pastor, Rev. Joe Champion, told reporters:
"There will be the sacredness of Easter. It’s not a Tim Tebow show. It’s not about a celebrity. There’s really only one celebrity that we are going to honor and highlight.”
Let me get this out there. I have no problem with Tebow preaching at this church. I'm glad that he's proud of his faith and I'm glad that he connects with Christian football fans. But let's be honest. It was a Tim Tebow show. At the very least, he was a special guest star to the main program. Case in point, from TMZ:
A crowd of nearly 15,000 gathered at an outdoor Easter church service in Georgetown, TX today, where New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow was the main attraction. Some of the crowd came from as far as 100 miles away. Pastor Joe Champion said, "In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now. We didn't have enough room to handle the Pope."

Tebow preached that it was important for people to be outspoken about their faith (never a problem for Tim) and that athletes are role models, whether they like it or not.

According to local reports, several hundred people left after Tebow finished speaking ... not even staying for the pastor's main Sunday sermon.
I personally think it was pretty tacky of the Tebow fans to collectively leave the church service after his part of the program was completed.

Michael Bell Performs at Faith UCC // Soup Supper and Open Mike on 04/12/12

(cross-posted)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Iowa City Man Sought Baby Stroller for his Snake // My Favorite Five Comic Book Snakes!

I first heard about this story on Facebook. This morning I noticed that KCJJ radio expanded on the original story this morning. Basic story? A guy went into a local thrift store to purchase a baby stroller and/or some baby clothes for his giant snake so that he could take it out in public and not get quite so much of a reaction. Nothing big; it just is a fun story about the random curiosities of Iowa City living. Check it out:
An employee at an Iowa City thrift store says a man attempted to purchase a baby stroller so he could hide his large snake in public.

The unidentified employee of Artifacts on East Market Street posted a photo of the snake to the store's Facebook page on Thursday. The photo shows a large snake hanging from the sunroof and driver's-side window of a black SUV parked in front of the Bluebird Diner. The description of the photo claims the man wanted to buy a baby stroller or baby clothes so he could disguise the snake when he takes it out in public. A later comment from the Artifacts account says the man wanted to take the snake into restaurants without disturbing other customers. It goes on to say that the snake then began to honk the car horn.

Other commentors claimed they had seen the man with the snake at various locations throughout Iowa City, including city parks. Iowa City Police even received a report of the snake hanging out of the SUV sunroof near the corner of East Jefferson and North Lucas Streets just before 5pm Thursday.
Don't get me wrong. I love this story. If I could take my dogs out in a stroller, I would. So I don't hold it against the man for getting one for his snake.

Anyway, I was thinking about this story and musing about the snake honking the car horn and then somehow that got me thinking about comic books. I'm not a huge fan of snakes, but I decided to mull over my Favorite Five List of Comic Book Snakes. It took some thinking, but I think I came up with an impressive list:

5. The Serpent: Last year, Marvel Comics had a huge comic book event called Fear Itself. In a nutshell, the long-lost Asgardian God of Fear known as the Serpent was brought back from oblivion. He recruited a bunch of nazis and super-villains and destabilized the planet through the power of fear and destruction. He was ultimately defeated, but not before killing Captain America (the Bucky-version) and Thor. I'm not sure how, but both are already back from the dead so it all worked out in the end. I thought that the Serpent was visually interesting and I liked how he used his magic to transform villains (and a couple heroes!) like the Juggernaut and Attuma and the Thing into deadly, nasty, hammer-wielding powerhouses.

4. Serpentor: I was a huge fan of G.I.Joe as a kid. I watched the old cartoons and read the Marvel Comics religiously. I even bought a few of the toys. G.I.Joe always straddled the line between realistic military action and super-science. Serpentor never even approach that line. He was a a cloned super soldier using the DNA of several historic warriors and commanders. He was meant to inspire COBRA. He ended up taking over as COBRA's new emperor. Serpentor was a brilliant strategist. He could tap into the memories of his genetic donors. He was strong and he was tough. Unfortunately, he eventually got himself killed during the COBRA Civil War. My understanding is that subsequent comic book creators have created a Transformers-like Serpentor robot. I'm not sure I like that. Serpentor's genetic heritage is what made him unique. I say, bring back the clone!

3. Serpent Society: The Serpent Society is a group of snake-themed mercenaries. They were gathered together by the Cobra and initially found themselves going up against Captain America. This was a kick-ass team initially. I think they had something like 20 members initially. A couple like Rock Python and Boomslang were pretty lame, but others like Bushmaster and Rattler and Black Mamba were pretty cool. One member, Diamondback, eventually defected and became romantically involved with Captain America for a while. The group has been around in one form or another for nearly 30 years. As a result, members have come and gone and all sorts of creators have used them. Unfortunately, the Society isn't always treated with the reverence that they deserve. Their last appeared in an issue of the X-Men where they were single-handedly defeated by Hope Summers. They deserve better.

2. Snake: Snake is a rarely used Chinese patriot who was originally introduced in Marvel's Alpha Flight comic book. He was a member of China Force and was sent to Canada to retrieve a super-powered exile named Jade Dragon. Snake had elastic powers, not unlike Mr. Fantastic or Plastic Man. He subsequently appeared in an issue of X-Force but hasn't been seen (to my knowledge at least) since the mid-90s. I'm not quite sure what I like about Snake or China Force. I'm sure that a lot of that attraction has to do with their connection to Jade Dragon and Alpha Flight. But I also like the idea of a Chinese super-team. You don't see too many super-hero teams outside of America (or Canada or the United Kingdom). Occasionally, you'll see some random hero coming from another country, but it's even rarer to find a super-team from any of those countries. It's hard to image that there aren't secret teams of Chinese X-Men or Fantastic Foursomes when America is brimming with superheroic representatives. Anyway, we need to see Snake and China Force again soon.

1. Serpentina: As you can see, most of the snake-based characters out there are demonic or villainous or both. My all-time favorite comic book snake is a former member of the X-Men from the not-so-distant future; Serpentina! Back in the early 90s, Marvel Comics created a new line of comic books set in the year 2099. 2099 was a post-heroic era. Most of the heroes from the prior century were long gone. All of the sudden, new heroes and teams were emerging from the shadows. One of those teams was X-Men 2099. I don't remember why, but a new group of mutants joined together. One of those first X-Men was Serpentina. Her powers were pretty basic. She had stretchy arms that were good for wrapping around people. Unfortunately, she was killed during their first mission by some bozo named Junkpile. Outside of a pheromonal mutant prostitute named X-Stacy, Serpentina was the only snake-based X-Men (past, present, or future) who ever existed. It's unfortunate that she had had the opportunity to shine. It would be interesting to see if she ever gained the ability to do anything more than give high fives. X-Men have been resurrected for much less than this. Maybe Tina needs to be pulled back to the present so that she can enroll at Wolverine's mutant school. Just a thought...

Who is your Favorite Comic Book Snake?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Zach Wahls and One Iowa Announce Partnership // Plan to Tour Iowa and Speak Out for Gay Marriage

It was announced yesterday that Zach Wahls plans to partner with One Iowa and tour the state of Iowa about why marriage equality matters. Wahls became an Internet sensation last year when he testified (brilliantly, I might add) about being the son of lesbian moms. This is what One Iowa had to say about this new partnership:
This summer 2012, equality advocate, YouTube sensation, and author Zach Wahls will partner with One Iowa, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group, to launch a statewide Why Marriage Matters Iowa speaking tour. In August, Wahls will travel to cities and towns across the state with One Iowa to visit supporters at house parties and speak at public engagements to take his message of “love makes a family” to Iowans in every corner of the state. Wahls will also engage with fellow college students on campuses across Iowa in December as part of One Iowa’s “Home for the Holidays” campus outreach program.

My heart is in Iowa and I am committed to protecting marriage equality here in my home state,” said Wahls. “I can only hope that by sharing my story and talking about my family and our values, that I can reach more Iowans and dispel myths about families like mine.”

Wahls is a native Iowan who was raised by his two mothers. Since his powerful and heartfelt testimony before the Iowa State House of Representatives on January 31, 2011, Wahls has been a staunch advocate for fairness for all families. When he declared proudly that "the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character,” Wahls solidified his place among the voices of LGBT advocates and has been bringing his message of love and family to audiences around the country. He is also the author of
My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family to be published in April 2012.

Zach’s moving speech before the Iowa legislature captured the essence of this issue—love and family. By simply talking about his life, he touched thousands of people and opened both hearts and minds. One Iowa is deeply grateful to have Zach join our Why Marriage Matters Iowa campaign as an ambassador. We are confident that by working together we can have a tremendous impact on preserving the freedom to marry in our state,” said Calla Rongerude, One Iowa Interim Executive Director...

“One Iowa is a great organization that is doing the important work to ensure equality for ALL Iowans. I am proud to work with them to speak to my fellow Iowans in every corner of the state about the importance of equality for my family, and for all families,” continued Wahls. “At the end of the day this is about protecting love and commitment and recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of all Iowans.”
In related news, a video of Wahls telling his story was released by the Family Equality Council yesterday:
An entire generation of children raised by LGBT parents is starting to speak up and tell the truth about their families.
Check it out:


Great Britain: Gay Divorce Rates Lower than Het Divorce Rates

Across the pond over in the United Kingdom, initial data is showing that gay civil partners are divorcing at much lower rates than married heterosexuals:
The most recent evidence from the UK Office of National Statistics finds that homosexual couples that joined in 2005 were significantly less likely to have filed for dissolution four years later than heterosexual couples were to have filed for divorce: 2.5% compared to 5.5%. As Hattersley points out, however, male couples were much less likely to dissolve their relationship than were female couples: By the end of 2010, 1.6% of male civil partnerships had ended in dissolution compared to 3.3% of female partnerships.
You got that right. Gay couples were less likely to divorce than straight couples and male couples are less likely than female couples to divorce. It defies conventional wisdom, doesn't it?

Rep. Steve King: DADT Should Apply to the Workplace!

Iowa's own Rep. Steve King was asked a couple days ago about whether or not the government should have a roll in protecting GLBT employees from unjust discrimination. Turns out that King is in favor a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" approach gays in the workplace. In others words, they won't have a problem if people don't know:
KEYES: Would that encompass, for instance, the government being able to tell businesses who they can hire and fire?
KING: Yeah, they shouldn’t be able to do that [to] a private business.

KEYES: Even if those were to be regulations say on a matter of sexual orientation or gender or other stuff like that?

KING: How do you know someone’s sexual orientation? I don’t know how you discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation. That’s their business.

KEYES: I guess if it became public knowledge that an employee were lesbian or gay.

KING: You have private sector businesses here and they need to have freedom to operate. In the first place, I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it’s not anybody’s business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire. He won’t know who to discriminate against in the first place.

It's sad, but not surprising, that Rep. King supports the ability of employees to arbitrarily dismiss employees for being GLBT. Of course, King himself doesn't follow his own belief in workplace DADT. Check out the first paragraph from his biography on his own congressional website:
Steve King grew up in a law enforcement family in Storm Lake, Iowa. He attended Denison Community High School, where he met Marilyn Kelly, whom he married in 1972. They have lived in Kiron for 38 years and are members of St. Martin's Church in Odebolt. Steve and Marilyn have three grown sons and·five grandchildren.
What happened to DADT? I guess if only applies to GLBTs, not heterosexuals...