Sunday, August 31, 2014

To the Craigslist Ranters Who Are Upset by Gay Marriage and Who Fear that Marriage Equality Activists Will Sue Your Chuch...

I've written before that I enjoy visiting the Craigslist "rants & raves" section -- sometimes. There is a tendency to break into racist rants and those rants never seem to get successfully flagged, which bugs me. But otherwise I enjoy reading the rants.

Somebody posted the following rant yesterday on Craigslist:
A Christian couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding on their New York farm has decided to close the venue rather than violate their religious beliefs. The gay New Jersey couple took the farm owners to court when they refused to host their 2012 wedding, they host about a dozen weddings a year. The farm owners were willing to host the reception, but not the actual ceremony. 
The "farm" in question is a business that offers employment for "over 100 positions" (according to their Facebook page) that operates as a wedding venue and event facility and that is open to the public. They operate in New York and that state has a law that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Incidentally, the state also bans discrimination on the basis of race and gender and religion and a few other factors.) The business is a place of public accommodation and cannot discriminate against potential customers on the basis of sexual orientation. They were then fined for violating the law.

The business in question is considering an appeal -- especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court judgment in favor of Hobby Lobby, which said that a closely-held company could deny some forms of contraception to its employees because they conflicted with the religious beliefs of its owner.

I'm always curious about these businesses that refuse to work with same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. Why do their religious beliefs only apply to same-sex couples?

I just glanced at the website for that "New York farm." They do not identify their business as a religious venue. They don't say that they only allow certain types of Christian weddings. Would they turn away a family who wanted to host their son's Bar Mitzvah there? What if a couple wanted to host a traditional Hindu wedding at the facility? Maybe they would indeed turn away such groups on the basis of religion, but that would violate the law also.

Here is the deal. Some states and some communities specifically ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They added sexual orientation to a laundry list of attributes that you cannot discriminate against, such as race, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, etc. If your governmental representatives are going to legislate that you cannot discriminate against folks on the basis of -- among other things -- sexual orientation, then do not be surprised when you get in trouble for discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

I read one article where the couple who owns this "New York farm" said that they have teens living on the property and that they do not want those teens thinking that a lesbian wedding is moral. Here is one possible solution that could meet that desire while staying within in the law: Have your kids go to a friend's home for a sleepover. You don't violate the law and your kids won't have any opportunities to witness any same-sex nuptials.

I do find it interesting that the "New York farm" will stop hosting weddings, but they will continue assisting with wedding receptions. Both are essentially celebrating the new couple's marriage. One is just the ceremony. The other is a dinner and dance party with lots of kissing and drinking and public displays of affection. Just something to think about if you are concerned about what your kids might see, if you see what I mean...

Personally, I wouldn't want to work with a venue that was antagonistic towards my wedding. This is to be one of the most special days in my life. I don't want to run the risk of the venue staff treating my family or my guests badly. There are other venues who would gladly work with a gay or lesbian couple and I will gladly spend my money there instead.

Anyway, that original Craigslist post prompted this response:
Remember this post. Holy men are next. Gays will start taking legal action against holy men and churches that refuse to provide marriage services to them.
Remember the whole "public accommodation" thing? Churches are private religious entities. They are free to discriminate against anyone that they want. That's why certain denominations get away with banning female leaders. That's why they can refuse or revoke membership to anyone.

That's why this Baptist church in Missouri was well within its legal rights to cancel this wedding two years ago because the couple is black. It's true that there was public backlash against the pastor and the church for making that choice. But nobody ever said that there aren't consequences for the choices that one makes.

Gay marriage has existed in at least one corner of the USA for over a decade -- even longer if you count Vermont and its civil unions. Have you ever heard of a church sued or fined for refusing to allow a gay wedding on its premises? No. Have you ever heard of a pastor (or a priest or a rabbi, etc.) being sued or jailed for refusing a gay wedding? No.

I have heard of politicians who have sought to ban chaplains from voluntarily choosing to officiate at gay weddings.

I have heard of denominations that have punished and defrocked minister after officiating at gay weddings.

I have personally assisted gay couples (back when I was a receptionist at a gay-affirming UCC church) get in touch with my pastor to discuss wedding planning. They had been referred by pastors at other churches who refused to allow their wedding. And that was the legal right of that church and that pastor.

And don't get me started when it comes to churches who legally cancel funerals because the deceased was gay, or churches who fire staff because they are gay and/or gay married, or religious schools who fire staff because they are gay and/or gay married, etc., etc., etc.

So stop worrying about churches getting sued by gay activists. Because it isn't happening and if it ever does happen, they will be quickly laughed out of court.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robots Protest Fryfest Over Pink Locker Rooms

Roughly 25 robotic activists protested Fryfest yesterday, an event honoring former University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry. This "Million Robot March Against Pink Locker Rooms" was organized by the RoboProfessor and his human counterpart, UI Professor/frequent prankster Kembrew McLeod. The RoboProfessor and his robotic counterparts were protesting the UI's pink-colored visitor's locker room:
McLeod is calling for the school to ditch the pink, which he says amounts to a school-sanctioned taunt that exudes homophobia and sexism. He said previous protests haven't been successful, so he's taken an absurd approach to draw attention to the issue.
Hayden Fry had the walls within the visitor's locker room painted pink back in 1979. The University of Iowa has continued this tradition over the years despite periodic public objections. Back in 2005, the UI stepped up the pink coloring in the visitor's locker room, adding "pink across brick walls and shower floors and (installing) pink metal lockers, carpeting, sinks, showers and urinals."

Fry and his supporters always claimed that they used pink coloring to subconsciously calm and pacify their football opponents. And there appears to be some data that backs that suggestion up... to a point:
While pink's calming effect has been demonstrated, researchers of color psychology have found that this effect only occurs during the initial exposure to the color. When used in prisons, inmates often become even more agitated once they become accustomed to the color.
The robot protest appears to have met its goal. It attracted a lot of attention and encouraged people to rethink the purpose and the need for the UI's pink locker room:
About 25 protestors turned out for the march, many of whom, like McCleod, came costumed as robots. Security at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center wouldn’t allow the protestors to march through the building to the convention hall, as planned, so the robots made a quick march around the exterior of the hotel, drawing more than a few sideways looks, along with “we like pink” chants from some fans.

“It was fun, and it was nice that no one tried to beat us up,” joked McLeod, who has donned a robot costume to heckle Bill Clinton and Michele Bachmann in Iowa City in past years. “The worst thing that was said was when someone called us weirdos, which I think is a perhaps a fair assessment. People were in good spirits.”

The protestors called on the university to change the color of the locker room, which McLeod says smacks of a juvenile taunt in the vein of calling a person a “homo” or “sissy.” McLeod has said that the lock room, which UI renovated in 2005 with new pink finishes, is “rooted in an antiquated age when homophobic and sexist epithets were the norm in sports.”
As noted above, the RoboProfessor made his last appearance here in Iowa City back in 2011 when he protested Rep. Michele Bachmann over her anti-gay policy positions.

Friday, August 29, 2014

To the Gay Christian Whose Friend Wants to Give Him an Exorcism...

I discovered another frightening discussion thread over on the GCN threads. Here is the gist: A gay Christian from a nearby community here in Iowa has a couple friends who attend a nondenominational church. Those two men are convinced that this GCNer (let's call him "Joe") is possessed by "demons and/or spirits of homosexuality." These friends want to try to exorcise these demons away from Joe.

Joe was seeking input from other GCNers. He was "fairly confident" that he is not possessed and he really doesn't look forward to sitting through an exorcism. However, he has some minor doubts and figures it couldn't hurt to undergo an exorcism "just in case." Secondly, he believes that he will serve as a witness and a testimony to his friends that they are wrong about him being possessed by an evil spirit if/when they fail at exorcising a demon. He thinks that these men will come to the realization that "maybe you can be gay AND Christian, and maybe God does bless committed, monogamous same-sex marriages." Joe then sought opinions from the rest of GCN.

Most people thought that Joe was crazy for considering this. A few had participated in similar exorcisms before. Most of those folks were traumatized by the effort and none of them experienced any change. At least two people noted that Joe himself will be blamed if the exorcism fails. It will be seen as evidence of his lack of faith and of the power of that particular demon.

But then this one GCNer (let's call him "Blaine") stepped up and encouraged Joe to let them perform the exorcism. Blaine believes that this failure will surely shake the faith of these two Christian friends. He believes that Joe should be fine if he undergoes this exorcism because obviously there is no spirit of homosexuality inhabiting him.

And Joe agreed with Blaine. He is certain that these two friends mean well. They just want to help him.

Anyway, this is where I lost my patience!

I have my own experience with a well-meaning Christian who once wanted to help someone out with the assistance of an exorcism. Several years ago, I worked with a young nonverbal teen who's diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability and who frequently displayed aggressive behaviors. He was in foster care and his foster mother once sought money from my department to help her travel with him to a guy who is experienced with performing exorcisms on disabled kids with behavioral problems. My department turned down her funding request and I threatened to report her to the DHS if she ever followed through with her exorcism plans on her own. But can you imagine?

I pointed out to Joe that I don't believe that his friends actually mean well. There is enough evidence out there in the world and within the church for anyone with an open mind and an open heart to realize that this type of thing doesn't actually help LGBT people. In fact, it usually kills their faith. All because of well-meaning Christians.

Who goes up to someone and recommends that they get an exorcism? And why would you allow them to perform an exorcism just because they asked? Did Joe need an exorcism two weeks ago? If so, why? If not, why now? Because his "friend" believes that he is infected with demons? Based on what? What are the signs of demon possession? Not only that, but what makes Joe believe that these guys actually have the spiritual gifts needed to successfully perform an exorcism? Have they done this before?

And then I went off on Blaine. I mean, if Blaine believes that Joe should offer himself up for an exorcism just because his friend demands it of him and Blaine believes that this would be a wonderful teaching tool for would-be homo-spiritbusters, why doesn't Blaine himself offer himself up for an exorcism at his nearest anti-gay nondenominational church? It's easy to tell someone else to allow a bunch of religious nuts to gang up on him for hours at a time and yell and scream and do everything in their power to rip supposed spirits from his soul. But it's not so easy to follow your own advise.

My final message to Joe: You don't own these people an exorcism. Don't do it. And then find some new friends.

Two Men Arrested // Three Kids Placed with DHS from Eldridge, IA, Meth House // UPDATE on 08/29/14: Third Person Arrested in Connection to this Case

(Originally written on 08/28/14): Two men have been arrested and three kids placed in DHS care earlier today after police discovered an operational meth lab at a home in Eldridge, IA.

Those arrested included 33-year-old homeowner Nolan DuFloth and 24-year-old roommate Benjamin Meyers. The two men have been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine with children present, which is a class B felony; and three counts of child endangerment -- meth exposure, which is a class D felony. It is possible that other charges will be filed against the men in the future.

As noted above, three children also lived in this home. Their ages are 2-, 7-, and 10-years-old.

I have a bad feeling about this case, which was echoed by a commenter following this article:
I'm wondering about the kids. Is this a day care or are they the fathers? It really doesn't matter, they should never see those kids again but DHS will return them.
I will just leave it at that for now!

Updated on 08/29/14: There has been another arrest connected to this case. 27-year-old Amber DuFloth, the mother of these three children, was arrested from her home in Lost Nation, IA. Here is the break-down of the various charges:

*Nolan DuFloth has been charged with three counts of child endangerment, meth exposure and with manufacturing methamphetamine.

*Benjamin Meyers was charged with three counts of child endangerment, meth exposure and with manufacturing methamphetamine.

*Amber DuFloth has been charged with three counts of child endangerment, meth exposure and with possession of meth-making materials.

All three of their children tested positive for meth, according to police.

The two men are both being held at the Scott County Jail on $100,000 bonds and Amber DuFloth is being held on a $50,000 bond.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Archie Andrews Completes the #ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

Remember the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge?" This online phenomena has raised $94.3 in donations to the ALS Association. This goes towards research and awareness efforts. It seems like everyone is doing a challenge these days (including my son, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law) -- even comic book characters!

It looks like Reggie Mantle challenged Archie Andrews to complete the "Ice Bucket Challenge," which he did with a little help from his girlfriends and artist Dan Parent, colorist Rosario Pena, and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa:

As you can see, Archie went on to nominate Batman, Wolverine, and Hellboy to complete the "Ice Bucket Challenge" next!

Omaha Cop Shoots & Kills Sound Technician from the "Cops" TV Show

A sound technician from the "Cops" television program named Bryce Dion was killed by Omaha Police last night. He was the victim of "friendly fire" during a robbery call at a local Wendy's restaurant.
Dion and (cameraman Michael) Lee had followed police officers to a Wendy's restaurant where a robbery was reported to be in progress. When police confronted the suspect he fired twice, according to witnesses cited by Schmaderer. Officers returned fire, striking the suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, multiple times. One shot also hit Dion.

It turned out that shot could not have come from Washington, because the suspect was only armed with an Airsoft pistol, which fires plastic pellets.

Despite his injuries, Washington managed to escape out the back door before he collapsed in the Wendy's parking lot. It was there police discovered he had not been armed with a real pistol.

"The Airsoft pistol looks and functions like an actual firearm," Schmaderer said. Police presented stills from video of the robbery to demonstrate why the officers felt the suspect was threatening them with a real handgun.
According to CNN, Washington tried escaping from the police through a portion of the restaurant where Dion was positioned.

The "Cops" team has been filming alongside Omaha Police since June 2014. The program plans to air "six or seven" episodes based out of Omaha.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hey Iowa City! Have You Seen This Guy?

The Iowa City Police Department is asking for help from the public. They want to know if you recognize this guy. He is a white guy wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans and appears to be vandalizing one of the downtown parking ramp arms. The incident in question took place on 08/21/14.

Anyone who knows anything about this incident of criminal mischief is encouraged to contact the Iowa City Area Crime Stoppers program at 319-358-TIPS (8477). Your call will be confidential. You may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if your tip leads to the arrest of this suspect.

Girl Accidentally Kills Gun Instructor with Uzi

A 9-year-old girl was traumatized earlier today after killing her shooting instructor with an Uzi at the Burgers & Bullets shooting range/restaurant near Las Vegas, NV:
A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use an automatic Uzi, authorities said Tuesday. Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff's officials said. Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said. Authorities said the girl was at the shooting range with her parents. Her name was not released.
According to the website, Burgers & Bullets has a minimum age of 8-years-old to shoot their weapons. However, you must be accompanied by your parent or legal guardian at all times.

Nero at Daycare -- 08/26/14

Nero seemed to have enjoyed his time at doggy daycare today, but you wouldn't know it from this pic. Maybe he heard the news about his future death (at the hands of a future teenage witch, no less! -- more on that later!) But I really think that other dog is trying to put Nero in his place. What kind of mischief do your suppose our favorite poodle was up to before that scene??

Check it out:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Deadpool Versus Brute Force in DEADPOOL BI-ANNUAL #1!

I am super-stoked about the upcoming DEADPOOL BI-ANNUAL #1, which will be published sometime next month. It's a 40-page story featuring Deadpool and a nearly forgotten team from my earlier comic book days: Brute Force!

Brute Force is a team of cyborg animals who use their enhanced intelligence and weaponized tech to save the planet. They consist of Lionheart the lion, Hip Hop the kangaroo, Soar the eagle, Surfstreak the dolphin, and Wreckless the bear. They end up going up against a team of bad animals called Heavy Metal and causing all sorts of mischief. Frankly, I assumed that they were part of some toy franchise, but apparently Marvel Comics owns the rights to these characters outright!

Which allows these great eco-warriors to go up against Marvel's Merc with a Mouth!:
(Deadpool takes) a contract from an aquatic amusement park called Water World, which entails dealing with a bunch of eco-activists who have been causing trouble for the company. Things get a little more complicated than that when he realizes that said “eco-activists” are actually Brute Force, the Marvel Universe’s very own team of cybernetically enhanced humanoid animals.
I actually read the original BRUTE FORCE four-issue limited series back in 1990. I liked the idea of animal super-heroes and initially hoped that Marvel Comics would find it's own version of Captain Planet with this team of conservation heroes. But the artwork was flat and the stories were uninspired.

And now they are back! Is it too much to hope for a future team-up with the Pet Avengers??

Sunday, August 24, 2014

D'Angelo Completes the #ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

I wrote earlier this week about the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenges" that have been circulating recently on television and social media. I shared my reservations about this effort there, but also noted that tens of millions of dollars have been raised through this online phenomena.

One day later, I got challenged to do the "Ice Bucket Challenge" by my mother-in-law. I would share it here, but she has her Facebook settings set on private. I toyed with doing a video, but then decided to make a donation instead.

Then I came home this afternoon and was asked to help my son with something. It turns out that D'Angelo was challenged to do the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" by a friend and he needed me to help him complete the challenge. How could I turn down my beloved son??

I filmed D' on our back porch -- and quickly realized that I forgot to record the video!! We decided to chill some more water for a second challenge. One hour later, we stage another challenge video -- and quickly realized that I again forgot to record the video!!

Fortunately, my video recording efforts were successful on our third attempt!! So D' ended up dumping icy water on his head three times -- all in the name of ALS research and treatment! What a trooper!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Breaking Hawk Alert: Attempted Armed Robbery Near UI Campus in Iowa City

I just received a Hawk Alert call from the University of Iowa. There was a report of an attempted armed robbery here in Iowa City tonight near the UI Dental Science Building about an hour ago.

The suspect is described as "a black male wearing a gray shirt and possibly a hat and sunglasses." His victim was on a bike and was approached by the would-be armed robber with a gun.

I will post more as I learn more.

To The Christian Lesbian Who Wants to Outlaw Surrogacy (& Artificial Insemination & Same-Sex Parenting in General...)

I was fuming following a visit to the GCN boards back on Wednesday. A twentysomething lesbian started a discussion about the ethics of surrogacy. She started a similar discussion on this topic earlier this spring. Basically, she believes that it is unethical for same-sex couples to become parents via surrogacy. I know from her previous discussion that she also opposes IVF treatment and other medical treatments that assist same-sex couples with having children that are biologically connected to at least one of their kids.

She went to great pains in this latest conversation of stress that she does not hate anyone who chose surrogacy (or IVF), but she also stressed that she believes that it should be unlawful. Here is why:

1. She believes that it gives the illusion that babies are "products, luxury, commodity."

2. She believes that surrogate children ("like adopted children") "tend to have behavior disorders and psychological issues."

3. She believes that parents who choose surrogacy are more likely to choose the sex of their baby and "whether or not the child with have disabilities."

4. She believes that surrogate mothers regret their decision give up the child and feel "as if they sold their child for thousands of dollars."

She went on to assert that God is the one who ultimately conceives and bring children safely into the world and knows each child before they are conceive. And yet she also believes that surrogate children are destined to "face emotional trauma (sic) from separation from one of their birth parents/the mother they knew for 9 months of gestation and are likely at risk for behavioral disorders and psychological problems."

She then went on to stress that people who've chosen surrogacy ("especially on the GCN") aren't viewed as "terrible people." They just made adult-centered choices vs. child-centered choices that were unethical and that should be illegal.

So I called B.S. I pointed out a 2011 study that found no significant differences in child adjustment  for surrogate children. I pointed out that many of the criticisms that she slung at those who chose surrogacy could easily be tossed at adoptive parents. After all, we were literally handed a check-list of disabilities, ages, and genders when we went through our home study process. And we could easily turn away a foster child by giving a 10-day notice to the DHS social worker if we decided that it wasn't working out. How many dads who chose surrogacy can say the same?

I then pointed out that many of the same arguments that she was using against gay parents are the same arguments made by religious and social conservatives, such as Robert Oscar Lopez. "Our kids are just commodities to us. We are purposely separately our kids from their rightful birth parents."

The only difference, IMHO, is that people like Lopez don't go to great lengths to soften the blow of their arguments against our choice to become parents. You can't tell people that their parental choices should be outlawed and that we are more concerned with ourselves as opposed to our kids' needs and that we're creating problem kids and then tell us that you love us and wish us well.

She then returned to the conversation and confirmed that she also wants to outlaw IVF and other forms of artificial insemination for lesbians. She is okay with adoption, but only if the adoptive kid was unplanned and/or unwanted as opposed to planned and/or wanted. Frankly, I would never say that either of my boys were ever unwanted by their birth parents. They all got caught up in stuff that I'm not writing about here. But what does that say about families like mine in this whole discussion?

Basically, she believes that kids should not be separated from their birth parents or else they will be forever at risk for being messed up.

Which really got me riled up!

I mean, she is debating (in an online community that includes same-sex parents and others that she knows who have chosen surrogacy and artificial insemination) and trying to tell us that the gold standard for becoming a parent is shooting your wad up a woman's vagina. Everything else leads to ruin and degradation.

This says nothing about your parenting skills. This says nothing about the quality of time that you spend with your kids. This says nothing about the amount of time that you spend with your kids. This says nothing about your ability to financially provide for your kids. This says nothing about your ability to form emotional bonds with your kids, or to set appropriate boundaries for your kids, or to adequately discipline your kids, etc...

If you and your wife stabilize your household and careers and decide to start a family through an anonymous sperm donor, then you are being unethical because you did not have vaginal sex with that father. If you and your husband work with an agency to contract with a surrogate mom so that you can become dads and raise a family, then you are being unethical because you did not have vaginal sex with that mother. Heck, if you are a heterosexual couple who struggles to conceive babies without medical supports, then you are also being unethical because you're working around your biological limitations. (Yes. She literally asserted that in her posts.)

According to her, it is only ethical to create a family through vaginal sex. Anything else, is contrary to God's plan and actively works against the needs of the children.

But she loves us and she really loves our kids!

Once again, the most frustrating thing is that this is being debated at all in an online community for gay Christians. I can go to all sorts of regular Christian boards and hear about how awful it is that gay men and women are messing up our kids. I shouldn't have to hear that kind of crap from my own people.

Giraffe Kisses & Then Kicks Woman at Zoo

One woman met the wrong animal when she broke into a giraffe enclosure at the Henry Villas Zoo in Madison, WI. 24-year-old Amanda Hall got past one of the barriers to the giraffe pens and met up with 2-year-old Wally the Giraffe. The 12-foot-tall giraffe licked her and then kicked her in the face! Hall survived the encounter, but ended up with 10 stitches below her lip.

She has been charged with harassment of zoo animals and faces a $686 fine. Police claim that Hall climbed over one fence and was trying to get through a second fence when she encountered Wally.

Hall disputes this, claiming that she "easily stepped over a 3-foot-high gate-like barrier and did not climb the second fence." She plans to dispute this charge:
Hall said she grew up with animals like horses and cattle, and stressed that she doesn't fault the zoo or the giraffe. Nobody is to blame for what happened, she said... “I got hit in the face by a giraffe. I had to deal with all that. That was a lot of pain to deal with already.  I don’t need a fine and this on my record. I don’t 'harass' zoo animals. I’m an animal lover.”
Hall apologized to the zoo for "stepping over the line."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ohio Catholics Throw Cold Blanket on "Ice Bucket Challenge"

It's hard to go on Facebook or to watch television this week without watching somebody dump icy water on their head in an effort to raise money for ALS (AKA amyotrophic lateral sclerosis AKA Lou Gehrig's disease) research and treatment. I have my own reservations about this effort, especially when I see images of people wasting gallons of water in drought-plagued areas of the country!

That said, it's hard to argue with the results. Over $40 million has been raised for the ALS Assocation directly because of the "Ice Bucket Challenge."

But don't expect too much of it to come from any of Ohio's Catholic schools. That's because ALS research violates church doctrine:
A Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, citing its funding of research involving embryonic stem cells. In a letter sent Tuesday to its 113 schools, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's superintendent of Catholic schools says the research being funded is "in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. The superintendent told the schools that students and staff can still do the ice bucket challenge, but any funds raised should be given to organizations that combat ALS without embryonic stem cell research.
The ALS Association admits that one of their studies involves embryonic stem cell research. But they also assert that donors can request that their monetary donation is directed to other forms of research.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Michelle Duggar Advocates Against Anti-Discrimination Ordianance // Hints that Transgender Women are "Men with Past Child Predator Convictions"

The City Council in Fayetteville, AK, will be considering a new law later tonight that will protect citizens from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status, or veteran status.

Local social conservatives are, of course, against this proposed ordinance and what better way is there to express your opposition than by scaring parents into believing that their kids will be exposed to sex predators in public restrooms? And who better to lead the charge than Michelle Duggar from TLC's "19 Kids and Counting" series?

This is a transcript from a robocall that is circulating throughout the Fayetteville area:
Hello! This is Michelle Duggar. I'm calling to inform you of some shocking news that will affect the safety of northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance next Tuesday night that will allow men -- yes, I said men -- to use women's and girl's restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas, and other areas that are designated for females only.
I don't believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want men with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents: Who do you want dressing next your daughter at the public swimming pool's private changing area? 

I still believe that we are a society that puts women and children first. Women, young ladies, and little girls deserve to use the restroom and any other women's facility in peace and safety. Will you speak up for protecting women and children?
1. Convicted sex offenders are generally banned from accessing public restrooms, regardless of their gender identity.

2. Transgender individuals have the right to access public restrooms. Everyone has the right to access public restrooms.

And seriously, when was the last time you heard of a transgender individual sexually assaulting or harassing anyone in a public restroom? Like everyone else, they go in, they do their business, they clean up, and they take off. And most of the time nobody ever notices.

Michelle isn't the first Duggar to speak out against transgender people. Jim Bob Duggar spoke out publicly against a transgender girl who belonged to the Girl Scouts back in 2012. And, of course, their oldest son Josh Duggar is the executive director of FRCAction, the legislative wing of the Family Research Council. Among other things, he has advocated against gay families.

Iowa Judge Rules Against Telemed Abortion Treatment Services

A Polk County District Judge ruled that state medical providers in Iowa were well within their rights to ban physicians from prescribing abortion-inducing medication via telemedicine technology:
The 40-page ruling by Polk County District Judge Jeffrey Farrell is a victory for pro-life advocates who sought to halt a first-in-the-nation telemedicine practice at clinics operated by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Planned Parenthood officials said Tuesday they plan to appeal the decision.

The Iowa Board of Medicine voted 8-2 a year ago to approve an administrative rule that would establish standards of practice for physicians who prescribe and administer abortion-inducing drugs. Board members cited concerns over the medical care being provided to rural women as a reason to require in-person meetings between doctors and patients along with direct after-care services...

The rules were to take effect last Nov. 6, but a district judge granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary stay that blocked the rule’s implementation pending this week’s outcome. Under Farrell’s ruling, the Board of Medicine’s rule would take effect in 30 days, but a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman said her agency planned an appeal to “block enforcement of a rule that ends abortion access” in rural and medically underserved areas...

At issue is a practice whereby licensed physicians use a remote-controlled system to conduct medical assessments with patients in rural Iowa clinics. They then are able to dispense Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, in the early stages of a pregnancy. 

Proponents say Planned Parenthood’s practice — implemented in 2008 — is safe and patients get the same level of care as those who see a doctor in person. They also contended the telemedicine procedure was thoroughly researched to ensure it was in full compliance with Iowa law and service helps women in remote parts of the state.
The Iowa Board of Medicine has argued that patients need direct access to medical doctors in order to be safely prescribed medications, such as RU-486.

Meanwhile, remote hospitals and clinics in Iowa are able to access TeleStroke out of Iowa City, which uses telemed-techonology to evaluate stroke patients and to remotely prescribe stroke medications.

Additionally, psychiatrists throughout the state routinely use telemed-technology to diagnose patients. They are allowed to use this technology to remotely prescribe psychiatric medication and then to routinely check in and re-evaluate the effectiveness of those treatments.

Those are two areas where telemedicine is used in Iowa. What other sources of telemedicine are you aware of?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nero at Daycare -- 08/19/14

It's hot out today, which makes me want to stay inside. But Nero cannot be contained. He's all about soaking in the sun. Check it out:

Monday, August 18, 2014

PFOX Marketing New Ex-Gay "Safe Exit Plan"

PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) came up with this "safe exit" plan for homosexuality:

Basically, PFOX is reaching out to conservative anti-gay churches who are so anti-gay that even ex-gays are too frightened to share their stories.

Personally, I don't understand the evacuation plan described above in context with their overall plan. Normally, there is a progression of steps within these types of diagrams. Or at least some sort of guide to push people along. This looks one should progress from disgust to fear to rumor and to suspicion in order to get out of homosexuality.

Is that what PFOX is peddling??

Iowa Gay Teen's Organ Donation Rejected Because He Was *Assumed* to be Sexually Active

A 16-year-old gay teen from Altoona, IA, committed suicide earlier this year because of chronic bullying. Months before his death, he had registered to become an organ donor and many of his organs were successfully transplanted; including his kidneys, his liver, his heart, and his lungs.

However, his mother now reports that his eye cannot be donated because of his sexuality:
His eyes were rejected because of an FDA regulation. It came about decades ago, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It makes would-be donors ineligible to donate certain tissue, if they’re believed to have a “risk factor.”
“They asked me if my son was sexually active, and my response was something to the effect of ‘No.’ He’d never had a boyfriend. I’d never known of him going out on a date, but then I was like, ‘I don’t know. He’s 16 years old,'” Moore said.
With that, the donor network had to assume he’d been sexually active in the last five years, and thereby ineligible to donate his tissue or eyes.
You read that correctly. This boy cannot donate his eye because it is assumed that he was sexually active.

Frankly, I'm shocked that he was able to successfully donate his other organs.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm largely over the FDA's rejection of donated blood and organs from gay men. When I think about it too much, it irks me that I cannot donate blood or plasma -- despite being sexually monogamous for over 20 years and despite actually knowing my HIV status. They all just assume that I am lying about my HIV status or that I'm too stupid to know my status.

My church once hosted a blood drive. This was back when I was the receptionist. The pastor tried to get me to donate my blood and I told him that they won't accept it because they assume I'm HIV-positive. He confirmed this with them and then got all indignant and was going to rally some sort of protest.

But nothing changed. There is no desire by the federal government or by the FDA to re-look at the universal blood ban by gay men. I mean, it's not that they don't already test their donated blood. And it's not like they don't allow heterosexuals who have slept with an HIV-positive person to donate after a year.

But I'm assumed to be too diseased to donate after 20 years of gay monogamy.

So I try not to think about it too much.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Walking Dead's" Daryl Dixon Might Be Gay

There have been hopeful moments of speculation amongst some of The Walking Dead's viewers that fan-favorite Daryl Dixon is a gay character. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman was asked about Daryl's sexuality in a recent issue of the comic book series. Keep in mind that Daryl was created specifically for the TV show and does not appear in the comic book:
One question that has often been posed in fan speculation has been whether Daryl might possibly be gay, and the question was put to Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman in the letter column to The Walking Dead #130. In the comic series, Jesus is a tough character and all around badass, who also just happens to be gay. A fan letter pointed out that a parallel could be drawn to Daryl in the TV series, as Daryl is also a badass whose sexual orientation is still somewhat of a mystery.

When asked if the possibility of Daryl being gay had been considered, Kirkman answered, “All I can say is that it’s been discussed. We have very specific ideas about Daryl’s sexuality (or the seeming lack thereof), and if there’s ever a quiet period in the show where he’s not consistently distracted by crossbowing… we’ll tackle it in the show.”
The Walking Dead currently features a newer lesbian character named Tara Chambler. She briefly had a girlfriend on the show, who got killed during the Governor's assault on the prison refuge.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mid Con Comic Show Debuting in Iowa City on Weekend of September 19-21, 2014!

Do you live in or relatively near Iowa City, IA, and do you enjoy comic books? A couple months ago, I learned about Mid Con Comic Show. This is a brand new comic book convention scheduled to debut in Iowa City during the weekend of September 19-21, 2014, at the Clarion Highlander Hotel.

There will be an assortment of comic book professionals present including Phil Hester, Mike Norton, Steve Seeley, Ryan Browne, Jeremy Haun, B. Clay Moore, Seth Peck, and Alex Grecian. My understanding is that there will be opportunities to meet the various creators at the convention.

It's $25 for the weekend if you preregister. It's $35 for the week if you purchase your ticket after September 1st or at the door. If you buy an admission ticket for yourself, you can also bring two children age 10 and under for free with you.

I haven't seen a definitive schedule of events for the convention, but that should be released soon. As of August 8th, I'd heard that "26 panels throughout the weekend, plus a number of special events" had been arranged. Assuming that nothing has changed, one of those panels will be an Archie Comics panel featuring me. Some of the panels will focus on Cosplay (i.e., doing it, how to Cosplay, and how to make cool props). There will also be a Cosplay ball

 And of course there will be a Dealers Room where you can buy all sorts of stuff.

Check out the website and don't forget to save yourself a bit of cash when you preregister. I look forward to seeing everybody in a month!

American Family Association Criticizes Archie Comics over "The Occult and Homosexuality"

This bit of commentary from the American Family Association has been circulating all week. Bascially, Tim Wildmon and Ed Vitagliano of the AFA are upset with various forms of media for promoting "the occult and homosexuality" and specifically targeted Archie Comics for their recent "Death of Archie" storyline for scorn, noting that Archie was recently shot saving his friend Kevin Keller who is married to another man and who advocates for gun rights.

Follow this link for video footage of their discussion, but here was the money quote from Ed Vitagliano:
Young people and children have been targeted through television, through cartoons, through comics. This is not a new development. Since the 90s, comic books have changed and have been increasingly had the occult and homosexuality... All this stuff. When kids grow with this and y'know music and pop stars... When kids... I know I sound like an old crank, but when kids grow up being fed lies, why should we surprised if they believe lies? Why should we be surprised if they suddenly say "I see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage." These kids grew up watching their parents laugh at "Will & Grace," which changed people's opinions, and now the kids don't have a problem with it and Christians looks around and say "What happened to our children?"
Jonathan of the Riverdale Podcast was noting this commentary earlier today and had an interesting opinion. His thought is that Archie Comics is less about leading on the popularity of LGBT inclusion or magical characters and instead responding to those elements within the larger culture.

That said, have you ever noticed that when people criticize Archie Comics for its inclusion of their gay teen character Kevin Keller that they never comment negatively about the recent portrayals of incest between the Blossom twins?

"Riverdale Podcast #128" Scoops Kevin Keller and Betty & Veronica!

You guys know that I'm a big fan of the Riverdale Podcast. This Archie Comics fan podcast has been running every week for a few years now. Jonathan has asked me on a few times in the past and that has always been a good time.

You should listen to episode 128 right now, but there is so much goodness in it! Not only does he review KEVIN KELLER #14. Jonathan also has two interviews with Mark Waid and Dan Parent from the recent Boston Comic Con! Both interviews are great and full of tons of exclusive reveals.

Check out these cool scoops:

1. Dan Parent gave more definitive hints about the new KEVIN KELLER series that is to be launched in 2015. He suggested that the new series may be launched initially as a digital-only title, though that's still being decided. More official details should be revealed at this year's New York Comic Con.

2. However, he was pretty clear that Kevin Keller will be slightly older in this new series. Archie Comics has been struggling a lot (it seems from my perspective) with how to write a gay teen character. They appear to be uncomfortable with gay teen PDAs, though this has improved a bit in recent months. Also, I get the impression that they prefer the older Kevin Keller from the LIFE WITH ARCHIE series compared to the younger one.

My prediction? This new series will feature Kevin Keller as a cadet or private in the military and it will also introduce Clay Walker. 

3. Dan Parent also discussed the upcoming "Farewell Betty & Veronica" storyline in BETTY & VERONICA #272. It was confirmed that this will be a six-issue storyline.

Additionally, it cleared up that the Indian character filling B&V's shoes will indeed be Amisha Mehta!! Which is completely, totally cool! Originally it was going to be a completely, totally new Indian character. However, they decided to use Amisha for this storyline following her recent move to Riverdale in ARCHIE #653.

Lastly -- and this has nothing to do with the Boston Comic Con --, Jonathan reminded his listeners that Power-Teen predates this week's KEVIN KELLER #14. Veronica assumed this super hero identity back in VERONICA #111-112. I cannot find those issues on the Archie App Store, but I did find a subsequent storyline featuring Power-Teen. I'm toying with doing a retro-review of that second appearance later in this blog!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Iowa Lawmaker Arrested // Charged with Felony Sexual Abuse

Representative Henry Rayhons (R) of Garner, IA, was arrested today and charged with sexual abuse. The 78-year-old Republican legislator is accused of having sex with his mentally incompetent wife on May 23, 2014, in her room at a nursing home:
The complaint said that Rayhons was told on May 15 that Donna Rayhons did not have the cognitive ability to give consent to any sexual activity. On May 23, Henry Rayhons went into his wife's room and pulled the curtain closed, the complaint said. Donna Rayhon's roommate told authorities that she "heard noises indicating to her that" Henry Rayhons was having sex with Donna Rayhons, the complaint said. Surveillance video showed Henry Rayhons leaving his wife's room and discarding undergarments into a laundry bag, the complaint said.
News sources reported in June 2014 that Mrs. Rayhons' daughter was awarded temporary guardianship and conservatorship and implied that "certain issues (had) arisen" involving various family members that necessitated this transfer of decision-making power.

Rayhons eventually announced his retirement from the legislature on 08/04/14. This announcement was made 11 days before the deadline for getting a new candidate on the general election ballot. Donna Rayhons died on 08/08/14.

Rep. Rayhons was charged with 3rd degree sexual abuse, which is a Class C felony. This criminal case will be prosecuted by the Iowa Attorney General's Office.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet the Equalizer in KEVIN KELLER #14!

Have you read KEVIN KELLER #14 yet? You should because it's a lot of fun! This is the final story arc of this comic book series featuring Riverdale's first gay teen. Dan Parent assures us that a revised comic book series featuring Kevin Keller will be published in 2015, but this is the beginning of the end for now.

This story transforms Kevin into a comic book super hero. This was promised nearly a year ago, but several months of publishing delays pushed back the debut of The Equalizer way too long. You can see a full image of Kevin Keller as the Equalizer at this link. (Or if you'd prefer Stuffed Animal's Golden Age-inspired Equalizer, check out this link!!) I personally prefer his Las Vegas reject costume, but nobody promised me!

How exactly did Kevin adopt this new alter ego? Let me tell you...

Kevin and Veronica are exercising in Smithtown. Is this Riverdale's answer to Boystown? Either way, they interrupt the mugging of an old woman. Kevin shows off all of the self-defense moves that his military dad had taught him and takes out the mugger. This attracts a ton of local media attention, which begins to drive Kevin batty!

Veronica then reveals her new scheme. She has built a secret crime lab and created new super hero identities for both Kevin and herself: Equalizer and Power Teen! It takes a test mission and a sexy male assistant, but Kevin eventually accepts his new comic book origin!

KEVIN KELLER #14 introduces two new (implied) gay characters: Young Peter...

... and Equalizer's new assistant Tony!

Personally, I'm betting that Tony becomes Equalizer's new criminal nemesis! That's my hunch and I'm sticking to it!

"That's Really Super Kevin!" is written & penciled by Dan Parent and inked by Rick Koslowski.

"Twilight" Impersonator Prompts Revised Visitor Procedures at Schools in Newton, IA

Remember earlier this summer when a 33-year-old guy from California named David LaVera tricked a bunch of people -- including school officials -- into thinking he was an actor from the "Twilight" movies? He was allowed to demonstrate his acting and stunt abilities at the elementary and high schools in Newton, IA, before getting arrested and charged with all sorts of stuff such as enticing a minor and carrying a weapon.

Earlier this week, the Newton School Board approved new procedures for admitting guests to any of their schools. Under the revised policy, everyone will be required to show a photo ID when visiting the schools. Those photo IDs will be photocopied and kept on file at the school.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mark Regnerus: Gay People Have Different Values than Christians Who Oppose Gay Marriage

Sociologist Mark Regnerus made a name for himself a year or two ago by getting a now-discredited paper published indicating that gay parents are bad (even though the one set of lesbian parents in his study actually raised a pretty well-adjusted kid). Anyway, he just came out with a new study that has determined that gay people (with or without faith) and people who support same-sex marriage are less moral than churchgoing Christians who oppose same-sex marriage:
Churchgoers who oppose same-sex marriage sense that they are out of step with the rest of the nation about sex and relationships. (The numbers above reinforce that.) And Christians who favor legalizing same-sex marriage often remain embattled with those who oppose it, and yet sense that their own views on sexuality still lag behind those gay and lesbian Christians from whom they’ve have become convinced of the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. That, too, is true. Gay and lesbian Christians, in turn, have much in common with gay and lesbian non-Christians—their social circles often overlap. The sexual norms of the former are not as permissive as those of the latter but are still well above the national average in permissiveness. The latter likely constitutes a reference group for gay and lesbian Christians (together with heterosexual Christians with whom they are in fellowship).

Given the rather massive divide in attitudes about sexual and romantic relationships evidenced in the table above, reference group theory—if employed here—would suggest that the current division between these groups of churchgoing Christians will remain far into the future. Even if a share of American Christians who presently oppose same-sex marriage track in more liberal directions—and it would be shrewd to presume that this will occur—those Christians who already support same-sex marriage are themselves still tracking in that same direction. And, from the looks of it, they have plenty of territory to cover yet.
His research interviewed nearly 16,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 60 earlier this year. He asked them if viewing pornography was okay; if it is a good idea for couples to live together outside of marriage; if it is okay for two people to have "no strings attached" sex; if a married couple should remain together (barring abuse) for the sake of their kids; if it's okay for a married person to have adultery; if it's okay for three or more people to live together as a romantic group; and if they support abortion rights.

Here are the results:

I won't say much about the last two points, but I think (at least when it comes to the churchgoing straight Christians and the average person. I mean, 94.6% of Churchgoing Christians who oppose gay marriage might also believe that viewing pornography is bad; but an awful lot of them still do it! At least, the men do it...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So I Thought I Was Having A Mild Heart Attack Late Last Night...

So I thought I was having a mild heart attack late last night.

I guess I should explain. I was at a family wedding this past weekend. I spent a good hour Sunday morning cleaning up a reception hall -- specifically loading roughly 350 folding chairs onto a wheeled storage unit and then shoving them into one corner of the building. As a result, my pecs and my arms had become increasingly achy. Additionally, my stomach muscles were bothering me too. On top of that, my back was sore and I was developing a horrible headache last night.

All of these symptoms became uncomfortable enough last night that I woke up at around 4:30 in the morning today. I took some Tylenol and went back to bed and tried to go back to sleep.

Except then I began thinking about my symptoms. Which got me thinking about my dad, who had his heart attack when he was roughly my age.

So I decided to go online and look up the symptoms of a heart attack, which included chest pain and pressure, headaches, uncomfortable limbs, and back pain. It also listed nausea, which I really didn't have, but my stomach was a little sore, which was close enough!

On top of that, they listed general dread and anxiety as a possible symptom, which didn't help me at all! I mean, why else would I be web-searching the symptoms of heart attacks at five in the fricking morning if I wasn't generally anxious about having a heart attack??

And then there was the list of symptoms that included "lack of symptoms" as a sign of a heart attack(!!). How does one cope with that??

My OTC pain meds started kicking in about this time and then Husband Mark -- sufficiently awoken by my fretting -- checked my pulse and administered some creme for muscle pain. And gradually I decided that I wasn't dealing with a heart attack. But that's how my day began.

Anyway, I already needed to schedule an appointment with my doctor for a physical soon. So I guess I will be making that call within the week.

Court: O'Face Bar (Featured on "Bar Rescue") Can Keep Its Liquor License

Iowa has a unique relationship with the Spike TV reality show Bar Rescue. Only one of our bars has been on the show so far and it ended up being the first and, so far, only bar that Jon Taffer walked away from before actually rescuing it. I'm talking about O'Face Bar in Council Bluffs, IA. You can read my earlier posts on this bar here, here, here, and here.

Back in May 2014, the Council Bluffs City Councils voted 3-4 to recommend the denial of O'Face Bar's liquor license. The city's mayor claimed that Council Bluffs had been "irreparably harmed" by the bar's episode of Bar Rescue and most of the city council agreed.

O'Face Bar's owner, Matthew Overmyer, appealed this decision and, as I predicted, he got his liquor license back:
Administrative Law Judge Margaret LaMarche overturned a May decision by the Council Bluffs City Council to deny the O Face Bar's liquor license after it was featured on a Spike TV show called "Bar Rescue," The Daily Nonpareil reported...

Matt Overmyer, who owns the bar with his wife, appealed the city's decision to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. He claimed the show's producers encouraged his staff to engage in staged fights and disorderly conduct for the cameras. He also said business has declined at the bar because of the show...

Overmyer said the business has had only one liquor law violation in more than three years.

LaMarche agreed with Overmyer, saying there wasn't enough evidence to justify denying the bar's liquor license renewal.
Representatives from the City of Council Bluffs have indicated that they will not be challenging this court decision.

Monday, August 11, 2014

To The Lesbian Who Plans to Marry a Straight Man Later this Week...

I really don't get my fellow gay Christians sometimes. I know that there is a wide spectrum of religious beliefs and life experiences out there and that they don't jive with mine, but I really get upset when I learn of young gay and lesbian folks who are so fearful of their non-heterosexuality that they succumb to pressure and marry heterosexually.

This topic just came up again over at the GCN boards. Ironically, the wedding announcement (scheduled for later this week) was shared on a private board for people struggling with "mixed-orientation marriages." In other words, the board is filled with stories of people who are married heterosexually and who are barely hanging on. It also contains bitter posts from a couple straight spouses whose marriages were wrecked when their gay spouse finally came out or was outed. Of course, there are a couple who are successfully maintaining their mixed-orientation marriages. But these few are the exceptions.

This young twentysomething lesbian posted a thread announcing that she is getting married later this week. She is seeking prayers -- and everyone is wishing her well. Because, no doubt, she will be one of the very few who makes her mixed-orientation marriage turn out just fine.

I don't dare write what I think of this woman's choices on that board, given its nature and my perspective. But why drag a husband and eventually kids into your sexual/religious confusion? And the others who have actually walked in the shoes -- as well as those who've had their lives shattered when they later learned that they married a gay or lesbian spouse... I really don't get why they just offer hopeful platitudes. There isn't even a tiny bit of opposition, push back, or challenge. And that's really sad.

If you are an LGBT person who is struggling with reconciling your sexual identity with your religious identity, please don't try to fix things by getting married! It might seem like an ideal solution, but it just turns a difficult situation into a messy complication.

I've been around long enough to personally know gay people who've been pushed into mixed-orientation marriages because of religious beliefs and I've seen the horrible emotional fall-out of the straight spouse and their kids after the divorces. It's not pretty.

This response might seem contradictory given this blog post from earlier this month, but celibacy is a much better response to conflicting sexual and religious identities than mixed-orientation marriages. IMHO, as always!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Florida Church Cancels Funeral At Last Moment Becaused Deceased Was A Gay Married Man

Pastor T.W. Jenkins of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of Tampa, FL, canceled a funeral because the deceased man was married and gay:
Julie Atwood was standing at her son's casket when the phone rang. The church where her son's funeral was scheduled to be held the next day decided to abruptly cancel the service, after the pastor learned the deceased was gay and his obituary listed a surviving "husband." Atwood said she was told it would be "blasphemous" to hold the services at the church because her son, Julion Evans, 42, was gay. "It was devastating," she said. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."

Evans' husband, Kendall Capers, says the pair were partners for 17 years and married last year in Maryland. Evans died at home after a 4-year battle with a rare illness called Amyloidosis, which destroys organs in the body. He says the obituary named him as "husband," and that their marriage was no secret. "Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship," he said. "We didn't keep secrets."
The family's had sought New Hope Missionary Baptist Church because they expected to have hundreds of mourners at the funeral and their own church was too small to accommodate those numbers. Atwood had been baptized at New Hope and used to attend that church when she was younger.

Apparently, members of the congregation objected to Evans' obituary, which indicated that he was survived by his husband Kendall Capers, among others.

The family were left with 24 hours to find a new location for the funeral and to notify everyone of the change in venue. Unfortunately, not everyone heard and several people showed up at New Hope as originally planned and missed Evans' funeral.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Video Surfaces of Fight at Cedar Rapids Food Court // Updated: Cedar Rapids Police Have Begun Arresting Individuals Connected to this Fight // Further Updated: Two of the Three Men Arrested Have Pleaded Guilty to Disorderly Conduct

(Originally written on 03/03/14): Online video surfaced today of a huge fight that occurred at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids, IA, a couple weekends ago. Police were called to the mall's food court on Saturday, February 15, 2014, but everyone involved had already skedaddled. And then somebody posted the video online.

Now Cedar Rapids Police are reviewing footage of the fight to determine the identities of those involved and eventually to press charges. The 90 second video shows people slugging and screaming. Several people were smashed with chairs. It was pretty wild. Check this out:

Updated on 03/06/14: Cedar Rapids police have announced the arrests of various individuals who are alleged to have been involved with this fight, including...

*37-year-old Kenneth Keith of Cedar Rapids and two minors (age 15 and 14) were all charged yesterday with disorderly conduct. The two arrested teens have not been identified, but have been released to the custody of their mother.

*19-year-old Brandon Fitzgerald Johnson of Cedar Rapids was arrested earlier today and charged with disorderly conduct.

*21-year-old Roberto Alicea of Cedar Rapids was also arrested and charged today with disorderly conduct.

Updated on 08/07/14: KGAN reports today that two of the suspects have pleaded guilty in connection to this fight. The two younger men have pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct -- fighting or violence behavior and are expected to each serve 10 days in jail along with 50 hours of community service.

37-year-old Kenneth Keith did not accept a plea deal and instead opted to move forward with a trial. His trial took place yesterday and will be decided by a judge. He faces up to 30 days in jail if convicted of disorderly conduct.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Archie Needs to Meet a Quota in ARCHIE #658 -- If the Riverdale Girls Will Allow It!

ARCHIE #658 was published earlier today and it was a delight to read! Archie and his pal Jughead are enjoying a day at the beach when it suddenly occurs to our lead character that there are only two more weeks left to the summer and he's way behind on his dating. Not only that, but he wants to date anyone except Betty because "I can always date Betty during the school year. Summer is for dating new girls!"

Jughead is embarrassed by Archie's cavalier treatment of Betty -- as are Chloe and Bobbi! These two "New Kids" overhear Archie and decide to stick up for their friend Betty and teach him a lesson about how to treat his girlfriend -- and women in general!

What follows are a series of disastrous dates with a whole assortment of Archie Comics girls, including Suzie and Ginger Lopez and Sheila Wu and Ginger Snapp and Laurie Lake and Linda Moore, etc., etc. etc.! It takes a lot of punishment to teach Archie a lesson -- especially when it comes to women! But will Betty appreciate her friends' efforts??

Best part about this story? ARCHIE #658 features Classic Moose! I'm talking about Mr. Keep-Away-From-Midge//No-Questions-Asked//My-Fists'll-Teach-You-A-Lesson Moose! You see this side of Moose in the digests, but it's been a long time since I've seen Moose fly into a fistful of rage. I always assumed that this was a result of anti-bullying efforts. It's good to see Classic Moose again!

"Dating Drama!" is written by Tom DeFalco, penciled by Fernando Ruiz, and inked by Rich Koslowski. Each and every one of them did a stellar job with this issue!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Challenging a Defense of Celibacy for Gay Christians

My online friend Donny/Stuffed Animal shared an editorial from the Advocate titled "In Defense of Celibate Gay Christians" and asked me to offer my opinion. I have three thoughts:

1. It really doesn't matter to me if a gay man or a bi lesbian or a heterosexual man decide to choose celibacy.

2. The editorial writer is kind of naive if he truly believes that most LGBT people are choosing celibacy for the same reasons that heterosexual people are.

3. The editorial writer must think that we readers are naive by falling for his double-speak -- i.e., "This shift in thinking has helped any religious lesbian, gay, and bisexual people recognize that their desires are natural, not sinful" and "Some lead a life of celibacy because they still believe same-sex sex is a sin."

Those two quotes summarize the reason why most LGBT people and more specifically most LGBT people of faith are unimpressed with the notion of faith-based celibacy. Almost always, heterosexual people choose celibacy because of some inner calling -- to serve in the priesthood or as a religious leader, as an example. By the same token, LGBT people of faith are almost always pushed by external church forces to seek celibacy. It's not a calling for us. It's a demand.

Let's make something clear. The Bible clearly states that celibacy is wonderful vocation, but it also clearly acknowledges that most people are not meant for lifelong celibacy. The Church does a disservice to LGBT people when it insists on universal celibacy for this one group of people. Any other church member is groomed and prepped for marriage. LGBT people are told from our earliest years that our relationships are contrary to God and to Christianity.

That is false teaching and that is wrong.

Celibacy works best as a gift, not a tax. That's an important message for all to acknowledge this.

Nero at Daycare -- 08/05/14

It was a full-blown poodle party earlier today at doggy daycare! Nero spent some time hanging with another poodle. She seemed a little concerned with his antics, but he don't care. Nero doesn't spend too much time fretting over his image.

Check it out:

Nebraska Protects Heterosexual Marriages by Refusing to Issue Driver's License to Married Lesbian

The state of Nebraska protected the marriages of its heterosexual population by refusing to issue a state driver's license to a married lesbian. You can read the details here.

Here is the nutshell. A married lesbian from Council Bluffs, IA, moved to Omaha, NE, with her wife and children. She attempted to update her driver's license and they refused to acknowledge her marriage certificate which reflected her married name as opposed to her maiden name.

Here is where she made her mistake: she and her family moved a few miles to the west from a state that recognizes and protects her marriage and others like it to a neighboring state that refuses to legally acknowledge her family.

I was born in Nebraska. I will never live there as long as it is a marriage inequality state. It's not safe for me or my family.

This family needs to shift back into Iowa again. IMHO, as always...