Friday, May 31, 2013

Johnson County Board of Supervisors Approved "Pride Month 2013" Proclamation

The Board of Supervisors here in Johnson County, IA, voted 3-1 in favor of a Pride Month proclamation yesterday. Republican Supervisor John Etheredge voted against the proclamation and Democratic Supervisor Terrance Neuzil was unable to vote either way since he was away helping with county floor preparations. Most likely, he would have voted in favor of it, given his past voting record on this issue.

Here is the content of yesterday's proclamation:
PROCLAMATION
PRIDE MONTH
JUNE 2013

WHEREAS, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people across the nation celebrate pride in their culture and community in the month of June; and

WHEREAS, the whole community is strengthened and enhanced through the contributions of all its diverse citizens; and

WHEREAS, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in Johnson County will celebrate Pride Month in June with a parade and festival on June 15, 2013.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, do hereby proclaim the month of June 2013 to be:

PRIDE MONTH

and encourage Johnson County residents to recognize the many contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals and communities have made to our County.
I know that some people are upset that this wasn't a unanimous vote. For better or worse, the BOS has been torn on this type of resolution in the past. It's important to note that the resolution passed.

Newton Correctional Facility Locked Down Today Due to Inmate Fights

The Newton Correctional Facility in Newton, IA, was placed on lock down status earlier today after several fights between inmates erupted throughout the prison's rec yard. According to Newton Independent, roughly 15 inmates began fighting in the prison yard at about 10:00 AM. Prison guards broke up the fights using chemical agents. Those prisoners have all been put into segregation.

Other inmates were returned to their prison cells. The prison was later transitioned from lock down to restricted movement status. That means that most of the prisoners are stuck in their prison cells, but are allowed limited access to other areas of the prison, such as the meal area and medical appointments. Prison visitations were canceled today, but are expected to resume tomorrow.

I first visited the Newton Correction Facility back in April 2010. I came to meet the birth parent of one of my sons. Unfortunately, I wore shorts and was sent away. Despite my reservations, we returned to the prison and my one son was reintroduced to his incarcerated birth parent. The family member was recently released from prison and we all get together a few times monthly. By and large, this has been a positive relationship.

Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Back in the Hospital // Health Update on 05/31/13!!

(Originally written on 05/27/13): I learned on Facebook Saturday that Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson, father of Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and reality TV personality on "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," was complaining of dizziness and then passed out. He was rushed to the hospital early Saturday morning and they immediately began running tests on him. The family reported later in the day that the hospital was performing several "tests of his brain:".
Update on sugarbear he is still in the hospital they r running a lot of tests on his brain dont really what to say what they r thinking it is until we have all the test and final answers but it could b very serious do hoping things turn for the good he is in good spirit just one day at a time right now hope everyone is having a great memorial day weekend b careful out there #prayforsugarbear
The family reported yesterday that the hospital was still running tests on Sugar Bear, but hadn't come to a firm conclusion about what was going on with him.

It's not been a good year for Sugar Bear. First he was hospitalized last fall following an ATV accident that left him with severe leg injuries. Then in December the ambulance got called to his home after suffered a health scare related to a spike in his blood pressure. Most recently, he was hospitalized in February 2013 due to pancreatitis and pneumonia.

The family is requesting your thoughts and prayers as they wait to learn how to get Sugar Bear feeling better.

Updated on 05/31/13: Yesterday was busy due to some family celebrations, otherwise I would have posted this then. Mama June posted the following message on Facebook. The good news is that Sugar Bear is coming home. The bad news is that he's pretty much on bed rest:
Sorry we didn't update yesterday well sugarbear come home they did find out what is making him pass out so glad we have a answer but it does mean he will b home for a while to relax but he is hating it already and he said it's going to b hard from going from 7 days a wk working a real job to nothing but filming our show pray for him but hope he will b able to go back to work sooner then later cause that's means the girls and sugarbear r going to b here all summer omg pray for me MaMa June that I don't go crazy with everyone here Lol but I think I will b fine ...
The family is pretty lucky they have the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" income to fall back on. Most families get ruined financially when they have this many medical emergencies within such a short period of time.

I'm glad they finally know what's wrong with Sugar Bear and hope that there are good treatments.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Iowa Man Sentenced in Christmas Eve Dog-Shooting/Animal Abuse

You might remember this past Christmas Eve when a man named Charles Collins Cutler of Marne, IA, got in trouble for shooting a dog in his yard. The dog's name was Wrigley and he was an 18-month-old chocolate Labrador. The dog and his owner were passing through from Denver, CO, to the Quad Cities. They had stopped for the night and the dogs were playing in the snow when Cutler shot and killed the younger dog. Cutler was subsequently convicted in April 2013 of Animal Abuse.

It is now being reported (via KJAN FM 101.1) that Charles Cutler was sentenced on Tuesday following last month's conviction. KJAN reports that Cutler was sentenced to one year of probation. He was ordered to perform four hours of community services each week with the Atlantic Humane Society (presumably throughout the course of his year of probation). He is pay restitution to Wrigley's owner, Stacey Ernat, in the amount of $1,964. Cutler is also required to surrender all of his firearms while on probation. He is also required to submit written letters of apology to the local newspapers.

I would love it if people could forward a copy of Cutler's apology letter to me once they published.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Michele Bachmann: I'm Not Running Again for Congress in 2014

Michele Bachmann posted a nearly nine minute video announcing that she will not be running for re-election from Congress. It apparently has nothing to do with the ethics probe of her 2012 presidential election campaign nor does it have anything to do with concerns that she might get defeated in her next campaign, but instead is due to her desire to avoid becoming a career politician. But she is open to future presidential campaigns, should the Spirit move her. The video really goes on and on, but more power to her. You can watch it here:



Here are a few of my favorite Bachmann-themed blog posts from the never-ending 2012 presidential campaign:

* Minnesota Congresswoman Bachmann declares that she is a proud "Iowegian" (i.e., she's "an Iowans and 100% Norwegian").

* Bachmann wins the August 2011 Iowa State Fair Corn Poll.

* Bachmann wins 2nd prize in the 2012 Hamburg Inn Coffee Bean Caucus.

* Bachmann eats at Iowa City's Bluebird Diner and plots with a young child against zombies and pirates.

"Where's Cosmo?" Contest... OR... I'm a Winner!!

Archie Comics announced a pretty fun contest for its fans yesterday called the WHERE'S COSMO? Contest! Here are the rules for entering:
*You MUST 'like" the Archie Comics Facebook page.

*To enter with your finiding, comment on the Cosmo contest post on the Facebook page.

*You must provide the title and issue number of the Archie book the image is in, along with the page number the Cosmo image appears on. (And check the credits to make sure it says "pencils by Fernando Ruiz" -- sample on this page doesn't count!)

*You must be willing to provide your name and mailing address to receive the prize.
That's pretty much it!

I knew of the contest yesterday afternoon, but didn't start searching through my LIFE WITH ARCHIE comic book magazines until the evening. That's when I found the image posted above on page 7 of the "Archie Marries Veronica" story in LIFE WITH ARCHIE #27. Looks like I am their first winner! Archie Comics is going to send me an unspecified prize, which is pretty cool.

According to this post, Archie Comics is encouraging people to post pics of Cosmo images on their Facebook page. I'm assuming that the contest is still zooming along, so find yourself some Cosmo pics!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bryan Fischer: Gay Teens in Boy Scouts Will Lead to Polygamy

You probably heard that the Boy Scouts will are going to stop kicking gay kids out of the Boy Scouts in 2014. They'll keep booting out gay parent leaders and non-religious Boy Scouts, but it's a start.

This development lead to the following explanation by Bryan Fischer about why the Mormon Church supports this move: Polygamy. Check this out:


The LDS leadership these people are smart, they're sharp, they're thinking all the time and I believe one of the reasons they may have gone soft on the homosexual agenda is that they believe that the homosexual agenda may be the secret to restoring polygamy to America and this would vindicate Mormon doctrine from the very beginning.
Because marriage law flows from the Boy Scouts of America, I guess.

Man Looks for Ghosts // Finds Girlfriend Having Sex with his Son Instead!

A man set up a video camera in his home, hoping to catch photographic evidence of paranormal activity. Instead, he caught his 28-year-old girlfriend having sex with his 16-year-old son! Check this out:
The Tasmanian man had forgotten to turn off a camera that he had set up to catch paranormal activity. When he returned home from work, the footage revealed that the girlfriend and the son had been engaging in an intimate relationship.

The girlfriend, who could not be named for legal reasons, admitted that she had sex with the boy at least three times in recent days. The woman also later told police that she knew the boy was 16, but did not know that the age of consent was 17.
Not surprisingly, the couple broke up because of the girlfriend's affair with the man's son. She ended up pleading guilty to five counts of sex with a minor.

Here's what I really want to know. What made him wonder if there were ghosts in his home? There's gotta be a story there!

Nero at Daycare -- 05/28/13

It was a good day for Nero to go to doggy daycare today. It was muggy, but it didn't start raining until a little bit ago. Granted, we were traveling a lot this weekend so he didn't get as much time to nap around. But he is worn out. It will be a good evening of rest for my favorite poodle!

Check it out:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Check Out Riverdale Podcast #64 and Hear Me Discuss Kevin Keller's First Kiss!

I was contacted earlier this week by Jonathan from the Riverdale Podcast. The Riverdale Podcast is one of the only -- if not the only -- fan podcast devoted week after week to Archie Comics. I've been following the show for a couple years now and it's really good stuff. You should check it out here.

Anyway, Jonathan wanted to talk with me on the podcast about this summer's KEVIN KELLER #10, which will feature Kevin's first same-sex smooch. This has been an ongoing source of discussion on this blog, so that's the connection. So I ended up chatting with Jonathan on the phone for about 20 minutes or so about Archie Comics, gay teens in comics, and a few other bits of randomness. Very fun experience!

You can hear my interview with Jonathan in the 64th episode of the Riverdale Podcast, which was just released this morning, by following this link. It made my day!

Check it out and let me know what you thought. Be kind!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nevada Assembly Votes to Repeal Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage!

(source)
I wrote late last month that the Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to repeal the state's constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage. I didn't think that this would go anywhere. It looks like I was wrong about that.

The Nevada Assembly voted yesterday 27-14 in favor of a constitutional amendment that would repeal the state's ten-year-old constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage!

Here is what comes next. The state's Senate and Assembly will both need to approve this measure a second time during the 2015 legislative session. Assuming that happens, it will then be sent to voters in November 2016.

This is pretty exciting news. Assuming that this process is successful, Nevada would become the first state to successfully repeal its constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages.

By the way, check out this video. It's an 18-year-old gentleman passionately and tearfully pleading for the Assembly to allow his parents to legally wed. Check it out:

New PPP Poll:Minnesota Voters Narrowly Support Gay Marriage

Yesterday, the Public Policy Polling group released new poll results of voters in Minnesota and found that a slim majority support the same-sex marriage bill that was signed into law last week by a margin of 49/45.

PPP also found that Gov. Mark Dayton maintains supports over other potential gubernatorial options despite a slip in support. In fact, he's maintaining pretty hefty favorability when tested against pretty much any Republican opponent. Minnesota respondents also supported raising the state minimum wage to $9.50/hour by a 54/37 margin, oppose taxing cigarettes to pay for a new Minnesota Vikings Stadium (margin of 35/53), and support Sunday liquor sales by a margin of 62/31.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Employees of Arby's in Iowa City Arrested Following Workplace Brawl

KCJJ reports that two employees at the local Arby's restaurant each found themselves arrested and charged with separate counts of Disorderly Conduct following an argument over an "excessively-long break" and soon escalated into a full-out physical fight in the kitchen and dining area of the fastfood restaurant:
Iowa City Police were called to Gateway Plaza just before 8pm after a caller reported being assaulted by the manager. Police say the caller, identified as 35-year-old Arby's employee Gabriel Keith Usher of Ridgeway Drive, had been fighting with his manager, 24-year-old Matthew James Dugger of the Western Hills Estates manufactured housing community in Coralville. Usher had taken issue with Dugger's status and work ethic at the restaurant. Dugger told investigators that he ordered Usher to "stop with the attitude", and Usher responded by "getting into" Dugger's face.
KCJJ reports that the men quickly began brawling in the restaurant and making a general mess of the place. Both men face up to 30 days in jail if convicted of these charges.

Cosmo the Merry Martian Digital Exclusive!! // Plus Don't Forget to Tell Archie Comics YES to New "Cosmo" Stories!!

I was on the Archie Comics App Store late last week and saw something really cool: COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES digital exclusive!! For $3.99, people can purchase and download over 150 pages from the original COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN comic book series, plus the first several pages from ARCHIE & FRIENDS' "Night at the Comic Shop," which resurrected Cosmo and several other classic Archie Comics/MLJ Comics characters for today's readers.

The collection is pretty fun. It tells the story of Cosmo and Orbi as they embark on the first space adventure from Mars to the mysterious planet Earth! Their rocket ship gets damaged during their first spaceflight, which detours them to the Moon for repairs.

Eventually joined by fellow Martian travellers, Prof. Thimk and Astra, Cosmo soon finds himself planet-hopping from the Moon to Earth to Venus to Saturn and to Mars again! Each planet brings new adventures and introduces crazy new alien races. I thought it might be fun to see what unique creatures live in this solar system.

Enjoy!:


First up are the Moonlings! They live in an underground city on the Moon, hidden away from the prying eyes of planet Earth. Ask someone his name and he'll tell you "Oog!" Ask him the name of his neighbor and he'll tell you "Oog!" (Sense a trend?) The Moonlings are somewhat simple-minded and quick-tempered. The only thing they fear is the Dark Side of the Moon. Don't ask them to go there. They won't do it! And even though they don't like Earthlings, they enjoy vacationing on their neighboring planet -- under the cloak of Comet Dust!

Despite their best efforts, Cosmo and his friend find themselves joined on their journeys by a contingent of Moonlings -- including...


The Gillywump! One thing I've discovered from the COSMO series is that most of the inhabited planets in this solar system have one unique creature. The Gillywump is the Moon's unique being. He has lived for generations on the Dark Side of the Moon, fighting the loneliness and the moonfrost of that area of the moon -- not to mention a really bad cold! He eventually starts feeling better after Cosmo and Orbi talk him out into the light. Eventually we learn that the Gillywump has a really cool talent. He can materialize a pop-up propeller on top of his head!


Next up is Earth! Cosmo and Orbi learned that Earth People enjoy playing a complicated game called baseball. As Oog explains, "There are nine men on each side, and they try to hit the baseball, while everybody else yells and eats hot dogs!" Cosmo and the others don't interact too much with the Earth People. For whatever reason, they think we're a violent bunch who spend most of our free time in stores spending money.


After adventuring on the Moon and Earth, Cosmo and his Martian friends decide to take a trip to the beautiful gas planet, Venus! There they meet two very different gendered folks. First, there is the lovely Queen of Venus. She appears to be the only female on the planet. Not only that, but she's human-sized -- as opposed to the male Venusians! Those guys are hairy, orange giants with a tongue so alien that nobody can understand them! They seem nice enough for a bunch of ogres, but they're clearly under the thrall of their Queen -- and the Queen wants a King! Instead of choosing from among the many Venusian males, the Queen decides that Cosmo would make a better King! He obviously manages to get away, but I won't reveal how.


Next stop? Saturn! Saturn is a strange planet surrounded by foam rubber rings! It's explained that the rings protect the planet from its many moons. Apparently, it's not uncommon for the moons to fall out of orbit towards the planet. Whenever that happens, they reflect off the rings and bounce back into place! And the natives? They're walking/talking vegetables! But they're very pleasant and eager to learn about their interplanetary neighbors.

 
Which leads us back to Mars! Mars is an advanced planet covered by super-fast motorized walkways. Despite their criticisms of Earth People, I noticed over the course of this series that the Martians aren't terribly different from their neighbors. They like fast vehicles and amusement parks and vacation in fancy hotels. And they're not adverse to creating enemies and launching preemptive attacks against presumptive enemies. Fortunately for us, Cosmo and his friends fought off one such preemptive attack against Earth by the super-scientist, Dr. Beatnik! Check this crazy space-fight:


What a dizzy space-battle!!


One last creature who appears to be unique to Mars is Squarehead! Every other Martian has a curvy, Shmoo-like body. But Squarehead is a walking cube. He appeared in a couple different gag-strips. We learned that he enjoys carnivals and bike-riding. His only other appearance so far was in the background of the "Night at the Comic Shop" story, but maybe we might see more of him if Cosmo gets launched in his all-new series.

Speaking of which, last month I shared an exciting request from the people at Archie Comics, as printed in WORLD OF ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #28 and repeated in the COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN DIGITAL EXLUSIVE. Archie Comics wants to hear from its readers:


Do we want new adventures of Cosmo the Merry Martian? I have no clue how this might translate. Maybe it's a new comic book series. Maybe it's a graphic novel. Maybe it's new back-up stories in the various digests. Either way, it would be new stories featuring a really funny space adventurer! I strongly encourage you to contact Archie Comics using the methods listed in the image directly above and ask them to create more adventures featuring Cosmo and his Friends!!!

Witches for Equality

I am a huge fan of the old Bewitched television show. The first couple seasons were the absolute best in television programming, if I might say so myself!

Anyway, check out this great pic that's been floating around Facebook recent. It's great!:
It makes sense that Samantha and Endora would be marching for gay liberation. Bewitched featured two prominent gay actors: Dick Sargent (Darren II) and Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur). It's pretty well known that one of the chief causes for people to re-think their opposition to LGBT rights is that somebody who is G, L, B, or T comes out to them. It's easy to oppose homosexuality when it's a concept. It's harder to oppose it when it's your daughter or your neighbor or your co-worker.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bob Vander Plaats Assumes Gay Families Are Against God's Plans // Calls Them "Awful"

Iowa has been celebrating four years of marriage equality. That hasn't stopped thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats of the anti-gay marriage group The FAMiLY Leader from defaming the state's gay and lesbian families, as evidenced by this KSFY report:



I haven't seen the whole report and frankly I really don't want to, but this is what BVP had to say about why same-sex marriages should be opposed:
If you do things God’s way when it comes to marriage, things work out really good. When you go against His plan, it’s awful.
I'm not saying that every same-sex marriage is great. There are some dysfunctional ones out there and there are a certain number that will eventually lead to divorce. But that's the diversity that exists among all families. There will always be "awful" marriages -- gay or het. Just like there are "really good" marriages out there that are both opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages.

(And don't even get me started on the subject "really good" families who "do things God's way" and then suffer adversity, such as poverty or cancer or chronic illness...)

Is this the best that social conservatives can use when it comes to pushing back against same-sex marriage in Iowa? "It's awful!"

This is why public opinion continues to shift in favor of marriage equality. People have lived among married gay and lesbian couples for four years in this state (as much as nine years in other states) and realize that we're pretty much the same as everyone else. We celebrate the same highs and we weep over the same lows. And we collectively rolls our eyes when professional activists like BVP condense our marriages to the phrase "It's awful!"

Third Suspect Arrested in 2012 Regina High School Bomb Threats

There were a couple bomb threats last August and September at Regina High School, Iowa's City's local Catholic school. Both were fortunately fake bomb threats. Shortly after the second bomb threat, two teenage Regina students were arrested on suspicion of first-degree harassment. At the time of the arrests, police noted that they were seeking a third person unaffiliated with the Regina Catholic Education Center. We just learned that a third suspect has been arrested related to these two bomb threats:
Kashawn Supreme Deas, 21, of Allentown, Penn., was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of calling the K-12 school numerous times on both Aug. 20 and Sept. 19 and threatening to blow it up.

According to criminal complaints, Deas is accused of calling Regina, 2150 Rochester Ave., at 8:56 a.m. and 8:59 a.m. on Aug. 20, demanding money and saying, “I am going to blow up the school, get the kids out now.” His third call on that day went unanswered because the school had been evacuated, according to police.

On Sept. 19, Deas is accused of calling Regina at 12:09 p.m., 12:12 p.m. and 12:33 p.m. He called two more times, but those – again – went unanswered because the school had been evacuated. During his September calls, Deas is accused of demanding money and saying, “I am going to run into the school with a bomb strapped to myself, get out now,” according to the complaints.
Deas apparently connected with the other suspects, Austin and Alex Troyer through online gaming. According to the police arrest warrant (via the Press-Citizen), the Troyer brothers allegedly convinced Deas to call in the bomb threats presumably -- and I'm just guessing on this last point -- to get out of school.

I checked out the local arrest blotter, but it's unclear what he was actually charged with. Newspaper reports indicate that he faces five counts of making threats, which is a class D felony.

Monday, May 20, 2013

More Details on Kevin Keller's First Gay Kiss

I'm getting quite the reputation these days for writing about Archie Comics' gay teen Kevin Keller and about the level of kissing in his life. Last month, I shared that Archie Comics will feature its first boy-on-boy smooch-fest in KEVIN KELLER #10 after several posts (including this one) discussing his bland dating life. Earlier today, I received notices from two online friends pointing me to an AP article discussing Kevin Keller's first kiss and revealing more story details.

We already knew the basics. Someone sees Kevin and Devon kiss and gets upset. That leads to a public debate about what kind of public displays of affection are appropriate for the streets of Riverdale. The AP story reveals that it won't be one of the Gang who gets upset with the soon-to-be infamous same-sex kiss, but instead somebody's mom:
The Riverdale teen finds his life turned upside down after locking lips with his boyfriend, Devon, in Pop Tate’s diner, drawing the ire of at least one disapproving Riverdale mom. The woman “gets very offended and kind of pitches a bit of a fit,” said Dan Parent, who writes and draws the issue, “Kevin Keller” No. 10 that is released Aug. 7.

“Kevin is kind of used to that, but Veronica records the whole thing and of course uploads it to the Riverdale equivalent of YouTube and that starts a bit of a debate,” said Parent.
 I'm left wondering who the angry mom is going to be. Will it be some random character introduced within the story or will it be one of the Gang's mom? I'm actually hoping for one of the latter. There could be some long-term story potential if it turned out that the parents of one or more of Riverdale Gang started to dislike Kevin's social behavior. For example, what if Reggie's mom forbade him from hanging with Kevin?

Incidentally, there are already a few comments following that AP story. Most of them are upset about the gay kiss. I'm sure they'd be livid if they saw what was going on over in ASTONISHING X-MEN!

WWJD About Gay Bashing?

I found this on Facebook in response to the most recent spate of gay bashings:


Here is one man's response to the above image/question:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gay Marriage in Minnesota: 1970

Marriage equality just got signed into law in Minnesota this past week, but the fight has been part of that state's history for over 40 years!

I frequently hear people question why gay and lesbian couples never sought marriage rights & responsibilities until the past decade or so. They fail to remember that it wasn't that long ago that we were jailed for being gay or involuntarily hospitalized for being gay or barred from several professions for being gay. Many of our older LGBTs lived undercover lives. It's not that we didn't have relationships and it's not that we didn't consider ourselves long-term partners. But we were more concerned about pesky things such as anti-sodomy laws to worry about instead of marriage equality.

Anyway, straight people might not have been thinking much about same-sex marriage 20, 30, or 40 years ago, but we were (or at least many of us LGBTs were) forming families and thinking about the legal rights and responsibilities that were being actively denied us. I remember talking to my college friends about this issue -- this personal goal -- back in the early 90s. I know I wasn't the first gay teen who wanted to get married. Box Turtle Bulletin reminded me with a recent blog post about another pair of gay men who dreamed of getting legally married.

Mike McConnell and Jack Baker met as grad students back in 1966. A year later, they had a commitment ceremony. A few years later, they relocated to Minneapolis, MN, after McConnell became employed at the University of Minnesota's library and Baker became a first year law student.

In May 1970, Baker and McConnell applied for a marriage license in Minneapolis. Their application was denied and McConnell was fired from his job. It was unclear if his firing was ultimately allowed or not. The couple appealed the rejection of their marriage license in state court. Unfortunately, the judge ruled against them. They applied for another marriage license in 1971 with a clerk from Blue Earth County, MN, and had their marriage officiated by a Methodist minister on 09/03/71. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed their marriage in October 1971 and ruled in Baker v. Nelson that Minnesota state law does not allow same-sex marriage.

Lacking the ability to create a legal family unit through marriage, McConnell legally adopted Baker in August 1971. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it's one that several long-term same-sex couples from that era used to create legal family bonds for purposes of inheritance and medical decision-making, among other things.

The two continued to challenge state and federal laws that negatively affected same-sex couples. In 1973, they unsuccessfully filed a joint tax return with the IRS on the basis of their Blue Earth County marriage license. From 1974 through 2004, McConnell claimed Baker as a dependent and took a deduction on his tax returns as head of household. This deduction was ultimately lost to him in 2005 after federal law was amended to restrict it to adopted children under the age of 19. In 2003, the couple amended their 2000 individual tax returns and attempted to file jointly as a married couple again using their 1971 marriage license. This was rejected by the IRS, who cited DOMA. They appealed and ultimately lost their claim as they aren't allowed to re-litigate the questioned decided in Baker v. Nelson.

Baker and McConnell are still as a married couple. They live together in Minneapolis.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog & Mega Man: "Worlds Collide" Parts 1-5

Many months ago, Archie Comics announced that it's two video game-themed licensed characters Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man were going to participate in a whopping 12-part comic book cross-over that was stretch through much of summer 2013. This was pretty big news for video gamers and fans to the two comic books. I paid little attention to it because I don't normally read their books and I rarely play anything but Tetris and Poodle Jumper. In other words, I really had no plans to read any part of this cross-over.

But then around Christmas I noticed that Archie Comics was publishing a new quarterly digest called SONIC SUPER DIGEST and I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about Sonic and his various friends and enemies. I found myself enjoying the stories and I quickly learned enough about the characters to get a basic understanding of what's going on.

After reading the second SONIC SUPER DIGEST, I decided to take a chance and read through the entire Sonic/Mega Man cross-over, "World Collide." I gotta admit, it's has been a trip and a half for this novice fan! I thought I would give my impression of the first half of the cross-over, which includes the following titles (in this order): MEGA MAN #24, SONIC UNIVERSE #51, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #248, MEGA MAN #25, and SONIC UNIVERSE #52.

"World Collide" starts off with an action-packed battle between the two title characters. You start off wondering if you miss something, but quickly switch over to some comical dialogue between the two big-and-nasties from each series, Dr. Eggman (Sonic's nemesis) and Dr. Wily (Mega Man's nemesis). We quickly flash-backwards in time and learn how the two villains met and pledged to re-shape their respective worlds to suit their twisted whims. We readers watch as the two mad doctors create their own pocket dimension (named the Skull Egg Zone) and build a giant headquarters that floats ominously over their robotic minions.


They then use something called a chaos emerald to magically transform their home worlds -- resurrecting several of Mega Man's old enemies and transforming most of Sonic's friends into Roboticized Masters that they control for mischief. The various robots are then split into teams with two different goals. Half of them are sent out to collect more chaos emeralds. And the other half are sent off to distract Sonic and Mega Man and misdirect them into thinking that each other is evil.

This is the thing that most comic book cross-overs are made of: Misguided heroes who fight each other to a stand-still -- filled with funny dialogue and action-packed battle moves -- until eventually figuring out that they're being tricked by the bad guys. It takes a few issues for our heroes to realize that they were being distracted by Dr. Wily and Dr. Eggman. Once they do, they agree to join forces against their perennial foes. Not only that, but they figured out a way for Mega Man to de-roboticize Sonic's friends -- which will come in handy at some point in the future!


Unfortunately, they realize what's up a little bit too late. Dr. Wily and Dr. Eggman have two of their henchmen kidnap Mega Man's father after the scientist figured out how to open a portal to their villains' pocket dimension. Of course, this just give Mega Man even more reason to take the fight directly to Dr. Wily and Dr. Eggman. Mega Man and Sonic (joined by their friends Tails, Proto Man, and Rush) hop into the Skull Egg Zone. One battle later and the quintet discover Dr. Eggman's and Dr. Wily's floating headquarters. Unfortunately, they quickly discovered themselves outnumbered by all of Sonic's roboticized friends!


And that's where chapter five of twelve ends. Uff da!

I have been pleasantly surprised how easy this story has been for me to follow given bottom-barrel understanding of both Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man. It took me a while to figure out what was happening with the chaos emeralds, but that confusion quickly subsided.

"Worlds Collide" has been an enjoyable series to read. The dialogue is fun and crisp. The artwork is beautiful. And each issue races into the next with some new exciting twist.

I strongly encourage you to pick up the issues listed above and then follow along for the rest of the storyline. Hear are the rest of the books featuring the "Worlds Collide" cross-over (in order): SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #249, MEGA MAN #26, SONIC UNIVERSE #53, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #250, MEGA MAN #27, SONIC UNIVERSE #54, and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #251.

Updated to Add: For more reviews of this cross-over, check out the following editions of the Riverdale Podast. Jonathan did reviews of parts 1, 3, and 5 (here, here, and here). I'm always amazed by the amount of time, resources, and heart that he puts into his show week after week. Check it out!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Iowa Unemployment Down to 4.7% in April 2013

Iowa has a reputation for being a "fly-over state" with little to offer those from the larger coastal states. Here's one thing that Iowa has that many other states don't: low unemployment. And it keeps going down:
Iowa's unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point in April to 4.7%, and for the fourth consecutive month the labor force grew. Those are the take-aways from Friday's release of the state's unemployment rate by Iowa Workforce Development. Iowa's 4.7% is well below the national average of 7.5% - both of which were down from the March figures. Total non-farm employment held steady at just over 1.5 million jobs in April. While there were some gains in manufacturing and the service industry, those gains were offset by losses in construction and government. The biggest (gains) came in the education and health services sectors which gained 1,700 jobs in April.
This particular area of Iowa has been pretty steady for job growth and lower unemployment.

Iowa City Top Supplier of Synthetic Drugs to Teens in Eastern Iowa

Synthetic drugs are all over the news these days, and for good reason. It's easy to buy them and they're mostly illegal. A group called Iowans Against Synthetics has recently emerged to warn people against the hazards of synthetic drugs. I've unfortunately missed their April and May meetings -- both times due to last minute family issues. Their next meeting is scheduled for 6:00 PM on Thursday, June 27, 2013, at the Coralville Public Library. I'm hopeful that I will make it, but I'm hesitant to commit with my poor attendance record!

The Gazette posted an article about the sad state of Iowa City with regards to synthetic drugs. Sadly, we are becoming the top supplier of synthetic drugs to teens from all across Eastern Iowa, according to the local police. The police note in the article that juveniles from all over Eastern Iowa are traveling to local businesses with the specific intent to buy synthetic drugs. Iowans Against Synthetics protested the Den last month, but I know of at least one other business that actively sells these drugs and their business is open 24 hours daily.

The Gazette notes that kids as young as 13 are getting caught after curfew for being downtown in the middle of the night purchasing these drugs. According to MECCA, more than 4% of adolescents they have surveyed this year have used synthetic drugs, compared to 1% back in 2011 and 2012.

Synthetic drug users have been hospitalized for hallucinations and delusions, as well as suicidal ideation and aggressive behaviors. I've seen guys suffering long-term gastro-intestinal ailments and disruptive sleep patterns because of this stuff. And MECCA officials reports in this article reports of permanent facial tics in users. My understanding is that you cannot test for most of these drugs at this time, which makes it more appealing to those who seek to avoid drug tests for more traditional drugs. And they're not illegal for anyone to purchase -- including kids.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Archie Meets Glee" Part 3

I am running behind with my comic book updates. No particular reason. It's been a combination of busy schedule and illness. Anyway, I offer my apologies for the latest of this post.

I finally read ARCHIE #643 -- AKA "Archie Meets Glee" Part 3. You can read my thoughts on the first two parts of this story here and here. This is the premise of the crossover: Archie Comics' Dilton and Glee's Brittany hook up across the dimensional divide and accidentally transport half of the Riverdale kids to Lima and half of the Lima kids to Riverdae. Now Dilton has to re-invent his "portal-porter" ASAP one of the transplanted kids does something bad like kissing or losing Jughead's crown. Those types of intimate actions risk a butterfly effect that likely will destroy both universes.

By the way... Does anyone besides me mentally think "porta-potty" when s/he reads "portal-porter?"

There were two big things happening in this book. The first big thing was Puck from Glee seducing Betty. For whatever reason, she's so smitten by his bad-boy affections that he tricks her into paying for everything and treats her kind of bad -- going so far as to split a strawberry shake with Cheryl Blossom at the tail-end of his first date with Betty. Then again, I guess Betty is used to guys walking all over her as evidenced by her never-ending love triangle with Archie and Veronica.


Meanwhile, Veronica finds herself without any friends in the world of Glee -- that is until she teams up with Kurt Hummel to perform their next big performance for the nationals competition!


But that wasn't really the second big thing. The second big thing involved Alexander Cabot III working his butt off to pull one of the Glee kids from the Archies and into the Pussycats! Mercedes Jones had the good sense to stick with the good guys, but Alexander finally managed to successfully snag one of the Glee kids: Blaine! His betrayal will totally be worth it if we get to see Blaine dressed in a skimpy Pussycat outfit!


Unfortunately for all involved, we don't get much further in the plot before two of the teens in this tale (one from Riverdale and the other from Lima) finally give in to their lusty emotions and experience a universe-shattering kiss. I won't spoil the identify of the couple in question, but the girl in question should be ashamed!

Here's what else I liked:

* Kevin the Hormonal Teen: Remember last time when I wrote about loving the lustiest version of Kevin Keller that I've ever seen in print? He's not quite so eager this time around, but he's still showing some love towards Glee's Blaine:


Here were the let-downs:

* No Sue Sylvester: After last issue's run-in with Jughead, I had high hopes for some major sparks. But she's largely been absent from this crossover outside of that one scene. There are just so many kids involved in this storyline, I guess it makes sense some will feel left out. Still, Sue is one of the more memorable and -- dare I say it? -- cartoonish characters from Glee. It's a shame that we don't see more of her in this cartoonish version of the program!

* Very little Archie: This cross-over takes place in Archie's book, but you wouldn't know if from the storyline. He's had a few appearances, but Archie has really become a background character in this storyline compared to Betty, Veronica, Puck, Dilton, Artie, Brittany, the Pussycats, and Blaine. I'm not complaining, but maybe this cross-over would have been better placed in the BETTY & VERONICA title.

The storyline will wrap up next issue. The universes are about to crack up, but Chuck has a crazy comic book-inspired solution to this mess that just might save Glee from cancellation and Archie Comics from bankruptcy. All he needs is Rachel Berry singing a little Babs! See you again in a few weeks!

Same-Sex Parenting

I was on one of my discussion boards and ran across the following question:
This has probably been asked a hundred times, but:

Does any one know of any studies into the effects of same-sex parenting on children? I would be grateful for links and/or references. I don't mind how they conclude (i.e. 'for' or 'against' although if they are really scientific they shouldn't use such terms) but it would be good to get a sense of what's out there.
The fact is that this has been asked a hundred (or more) times, but rarely very well.

I mean, which children of same-sex parents are we talking about here?

*The children who come from heterosexual marriages, whose parents divorced and one came out afterwards?

*The children of heterosexual relationships, whose parents broke up and one came out afterwards?

*The children of single parents who are gay or lesbian and who might have dated and possible partnered later on?

*The children of same-sex foster/adoptive parents, who left their birth families due to abuse and/or neglect?

*The children of same-sex adoptive parents, who privately adopted their kids in open adoptions?

*The children of same-sex adoptive parents, who adopted internationally?

*The children of same-sex parents who became parents via surrogacy?

*The children of same-sex parents who became parents via artificial insemination?

*The children of same-sex couples who stay together?

*The children of same-sex couples who break up?

*The children of same-sex couples who break up and re-partner?

Our families come from such diverse backgrounds and origins. When it comes down to it, our kids do no better and no worse than other kids. The same can be said of the children of any parents. However, our children often have challenges that other kids don't have.

Does that mean we shouldn't be parents? No.

Does that mean that our kids would be better off without us? In most cases, no.

My husband and I became parents through foster care and adoption. Our oldest son is mentally disabled. Our other son has visual impairments and is multi-racial. I think we've done great with our kids, of course.

But I wonder how we might rate when compared to the children raised by their married birth families on either side of our home whose children don't have the unique life histories that our children have?

I know a lesbian couple who both had kids from earlier marriages. They later foster parented and adopted six children who'd been horribly abused by their respective parents. Two of the kids are star athletes and students. The rest of severely mentally ill. How do you compare that family to your average married heterosexual household?

I just wish people spent less time trying to support a theory that same-sex parents are great or deficient. Instead of trying to prove a point, why not recognize that each family is unique and all families need respect and societal support?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gallup: 53% of Americans Support Gay Marriage

Gallup News has been polling Americans on their support/lack of support for same-sex marriage over the years. The most recent polling found overall support at 53%, which appears to be part of an ongoing polling trend:
Fifty-three percent of Americans say the law should recognize same-sex marriages, the third consecutive reading of 50% or above in Gallup polling over the past year. The 53% in favor ties the high to this point, also measured last November and in May 2011.
When Gallup began polling on this subject in 1996, support for same-sex marriage was at 27%. Opposition to same sex-marriage started at 68% in 1996 versus 45% opposition now.

Interestingly, 79% of Americans polled believe that same-sex marriage will have no effect on society and/or will create negative change for society in this current poll.

Edited to Add: Husband Mark suggested that I could re-frame that final paragraph. Gallup News' recent poll also found that 59% of those polled believe that same-sex marriage will change society for the better or will have a neutral effect on society.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's Official! Minnesota is the 12th Marriage Equality State!

(Dayton Signing Marriage Bill Into Law)
Earlier this evening, Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) of Minnesota signed into law a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage! This bill will go into effect on August 1, 2013:
"By your political courage, you join that pantheon of exceptional leaders who did something extraordinary," Dayton said. "You changed the course of history for our state and our nation... Progress has often been difficult, controversial and, initially, divisive. However, it has always been the next step ahead to fulfilling this country’s promise to every American.”
I was not born in Minnesota, but I spent much of my childhood living in that state and I still have family living there. I love Iowa City and the state of Iowa, but there may come a day when it makes more sense for me and my immediate family to move closer to our extended family. When contemplating this hypothetical action in the past, I figured that we'd move to Decorah or some other border community in Iowa. Now our options have broadened considerably.

For the people of Minnesota who disagree with same-sex relationships and who believe that our marriages disrespect your marriages. For those who fear what this might mean for you and your churches and your communities. It will be okay.

Your churches can continue preaching what they have always preached. Your pastors can officiate at any wedding that they want -- just like before. Most likely, Minnesota will adjust to marriage equality just like Iowa did and every other state that has accepted this. Little will change accept that the gay and lesbian families among you will be able to benefit from the marriage laws that had previously been withheld from them.

I celebrate with my brothers and my sisters of the north. This is an exciting new chapter for your state and for this nation. Rejoice!

D'Angelo and his Art -- 05/14/13

(D' Wearing his New Contacts)
It's been a long afternoon. My son D'Angelo and I spent a couple hours at the local hospital trying out his new contact lenses. He was born with a condition that has led to multiple complications related to his vision. One result of this is that he has to wear very thick eye glasses. Generally speaking, he does okay with his eye glasses and pretty much everyone accepts them in stride. But he's going to be starting junior high school soon and decided that he wants to try contact lenses again. We consulted with the various professionals in his life and now he has a new set of contact lenses!

We'd actually tried contacts a few years earlier, but that was a disaster. As much as he wanted them, D' couldn't put the lenses on his eye balls and he barely tolerated my attempts to do it for him. Also, his first attempt with contacts required hard lenses. They were uncomfortable and eventually he decided that it wasn't worth the effort.

We started out this time with a loaner lens and D's been doing much better this time around. He finally got the knack of putting on his own contact lenses and taking them off without any assistance and there doesn't seem to be as much discomfort this time around.

Which led to today and our decision to make the final plunge into contact lenses. We dropped off the loaner lens and picked up his own contact lenses. So far, so good! We still need to get a prescription filled for reading glasses to accompany his contacts (yes, he needs to wear glasses with his contacts), but we're not going to tackle that task until the weekend.

All that aside, I actually wanted to use this blog article to show off some of D'Angelo's artwork. The school year is wrapping up and he's beginning to bring home his various school projects. I was really impressed with his work and asked if it would be okay for me to show off some of his art and he agreed. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did:

(Experiment with Perspective)
(D's "Andy Warhol" Project)

Gay Marriage Map of America -- 05/14/13

Now that Minnesota's legislature voted in favor of marriage equality and paved the way for the governor to sign that bill into law as early as later today(!!), it seems like we need to update our ever-changing "Gay Marriage Map of America." Here is the latest map.

Enjoy!:

Fan Tweets Actress Ashley Tisdale Nearly 18,000 Times // Leads to Police Investigation

TMZ reports that actress Ashley Tisdale -- whom I remember from High School Musical and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, but she's also been in a ton of other TV shows and movies -- has found herself on the receiving end of nearly 18,000 tweets since November 2012 from an obsessed fan. I guess he even showed up at her home:
The tweets are pretty creepy -- the person (believed to be a man) seems to be delusional, writing as if the two have some sort of ongoing relationship. For example:

"My body is yours & even as friends I f***in love how I make u feel like mom maybe we both got issues cuz nobody's perfect."

"I'll never lose u baby even in 20 years til infinity you'll always b my best friend."

"Let it all out on me u can have my heart put a lock on it throw away the key & my soul is yours to keep."

Even scarier ... we're told the suspected super tweeter recently showed up to Ashley's house ... but we don't know if he ever made contact.
I actually did a quick Twitter-check of one of my ex-boyfriends as I could see him doing something like this -- to a point. It was a long-shot and it fortunately doesn't appear to be him!

The police have identified a suspect and are still trying to figure out how worried they should be about the guy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Minnesota Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill! Minnesota Will Become the 12th Marriage Equality State (Post-Prop 8)!!

Last week, I shared that the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a same-sex marriage bill. Earlier today, the Minnesota Senate passed a similar marriage equality bills by a vote of 37-30! Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) has promised to sign this bill into law as early as Tuesday. Once approved, this law will go into effect on August 1, 2013!


This makes Minnesota the 12th marriage equality state (post-Prop 8) and the sixth such state to successfully pass a marriage equality action within the past six months.

Back in January, I would have thought Minnesota to be a long shot and Illinois to be a sure thing for marriage equality. I'm totally shocked!

Congratulations, Minnesota!