Wednesday, December 24, 2008

439 Days

I've always wondered where people my age belonged in the generational hierarchy. To my knowledge, we've never had a societal nickname, like the ubiquitous Baby Boomers or the "cool kids" of Generation X, and I guess no one gave us much thought, til one of our own (Barack Obama) was elected to Highest Office In The Land. Now we are semi-quasi-officially called Cuspers (a.k.a. Generation Jones or Generation Obama).

So, just like everyone else, we get a label, too (A label??? Wait. Why I am happy about this again???)!!

In defense of the "labelists", though, the link to the CNN article referenced above, in elaborating on the phenom known as Cuspers, contains at least two paragraphs that describe me pretty accurately:

Whether we call them cuspers, Generation Jones or Generation Obama, there are enigmas and paradoxes within this generation and its fans. They respond to Biblical imagery, but they're not dogmatic in their faith.

They value traditional notions of family but see men and women as equals in parenting. They go back to older American values -- civility, community, responsibility -- yet keenly embrace technology and use the Internet naturally.

As an aside, being that Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 and I was born October 17, 1962, our next Prez is exactly 439 days (which is 1 year, 2 months & 13 days) older than I am.


Finally, there IS a name for what I am...well, at least a name for ONE of the things I am, anyway.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Traditional Marriage???

Next time someone tells you how important “traditional marriage” is & how important it is to protect it from people like me, remind them of the history of their sacred institution. Found this on a website called On The Journey.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And I say to myself, "What A Wonderful World..."



The colors of the rainbow,
so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands,
sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying, "I love you"
"What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong

The New York Times reports that for the first time in United Nations history, a declaration in support of gay rights was introduced in the U.N.’s General Assembly.

According to the Times article, the resolution, which condemned human rights violations based on homophobia, saying such measures run counter to the universal declaration of human rights, had the support of 66 of the member nations, including much of Europe and Latin America.

Such a “radical” statement, right??

Can you guess who opposed this non-binding resolution?

Well, if you guessed, the Roman Catholic Church’s UN representative, Russia, China, and the Islamic Conference, you’d be almost-completely correct. Of course, you can’t forget the George Bush’s version of the Good Ol’ U.S. of A.

According to the Times report:
The official American position was based on highly technical legal grounds. The text, by using terminology like “without distinction of any kind,” was too broad because it might be interpreted as an attempt by the federal government to override states’ rights on issues like gay marriage, American diplomats and legal experts said.
So, states’ rights are vitally important when a non-binding statement of basic human rights is the issue, but if we’re talking about an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that outright appropriates those self-same states’ rights (i.e., the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment") for the all-powerful Big Brother, then those rights--like those of GLBTQI people--are quite expendable.

Hypocrisy much??

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

One of the newer sites on the World Wide Web is Change.gov, which is being used at the official website of the "Office of the President Elect". On this website, our next President solicits ideas from everyday folks like you & me. On the site's first page, they encourage each of us to tell our own stories & make suggestions on how our government can be more user-friendly:
Your stories and your ideas can help change the future of the the country. When we come together around a common purpose, great things are possible.
Of course, being me, I was just curious if the new administration was going to not only acknowledge the existence of the GLBT community, but speak to the issues that matter to us & other equality-minder people, and, I was pleasantly not surprised!

In the Civil Rights part of the website, President-Elect Obama mentions issues several time that directly involve GLBT people...like he wasn't afraid to acknowledge we're here & that, as citizens of the U.S. of A. we, too, are yearning to breathe free!

So, check out The Obama/Biden Civil Rights Agenda

Combat Employment Discrimination: Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Breath of "Fresh Air"

On The Advocate's website, it is being reported a prominent member of the National Association of Evangelicals, Rev. Richard Cizik, has resigned from the organization after announcing his support of civil unions for same-sex couples.

It's worth noting that in it's May 12, 2008 issue, Time magazine called Cizik one of The World’s Most Influential People .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't Tell Me Who To Love (Part 2)

The Ray Boltz song, Don’t Tell Me Who To Love, the video in the previous post, starts with this historical reference:

The year was 1966 and they were wearing their wedding bands.
She was black and he was white and some people didn’t understand.
The judge said that’s not legal, the preacher called it a sin,
But they couldn’t stop them cause he loved her and she loved him

Not only is this a beautiful & touching song, it’s also a lyrical re-telling of actual events, to wit:

In 1958, Virginia residents, Mildred Jeter & Richard Loving left the state of their residence, which prohibited interracial marriages, and were married in Washington, DC. After they were married they came back to their home state.

As unbelievable as it may sound, once the Lovings came back to Virginia a group of local policeman entered their home hoping to find them engaged in a sexual act! Although they had a valid marriage license issued to them by the District of Columbia & had even posted on the wall in their home, they were both arrested, and the marriage certificate was used as evidence against them! In January 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty to “miscegenation” (the name of the so-called crime back then of interracial marriage), which was, in many states, a felony. In Virginia, it was punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Having pleaded guilty, the "kindly" judge told them that he would suspend the one year prison sentence for up to 25 years if they would leave Virginia altogether. In 1963, the couple moved to Washington, DC. There the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit on behalf of the Lovings to vacate (overturn) the judge’s ruling, and to invalidate the state law under which they were prosecuted.

It took 4 more years before the case was heard in the Highest Court in the Land, but on June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court, in case 388 U.S. 1, more commonly known as Loving vs. Virginia, unanimously ruled that the Lovings were improperly prosecuted & had been deprived of their 14th Amendment right to due process and equal protection, therefore, reversing their conviction.

In striking down the Virginia law, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote:
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
I am sure that there were people back then who absolutely hated this Supreme Court decision & who fought tooth & nail to keep interracial marriage from becoming reality. These racial purists no doubt lamented “activist judges”, the same as the anti-gay activists do today. What those folks didn’t get back then & what those today who oppose my equality even now don’t get is that, fragile as it can be sometimes, you can’t stop a heart from doing what hearts do: Love. You can preach against it 'til you’re blue in the face & you can make laws designed to hamper it & to even try to kill it, but love is not ethereal & it outlasts all else. Jesus’s greatest commandment was that we love one another as He loves us. His people should no more be about denying love than they should be about denying Him.

I’ve said it before, but I really do believe that our opponents—those who want to deny me a legally-recognized family—truly have no idea who & what they’re fighting. This isn’t just some political issue to me, THIS IS MY LIFE. Nothing in the temporal realm could possibly mean more to me. They can whip up fear & scream their lies until our Lord finally comes to take us home, but—-if I have anything to say about it--they will never know one moment’s peace in their Spiritual War Without End as long as they keep insisting that I am undeserving of the right that they so often take for granted: to have their government recognize & honor their decision to make a legal bond with the person whom they love.

Tragically, Richard Loving died in a car accident in 1975, but Mildred, his wife, in 2007, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Loving vs. Virginia prepared a statement about the historic court case which bears her name & the cause for which she fought.

In the last paragraphs of her statement, Mrs. Loving lovingly wrote:
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Mildred Loving died less than a year later, on May 2, 2008, but the cause for which she & her husband so bravely fought still burns in the hearts of those of us who never even knew them. Times & laws & even people may change, but love is always love; that's why I truly have no doubt that, as the last line in Ray's song goes, "...love is gonna make it in the end."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't Tell Me Who To Love

A gift from my friend, Jeff, sung by Ray Boltz...




SONG LYRICS: “Don’t Tell Me Who To Love”

written by Ray Boltz (c) 2008 Shepherd Boy Music/ASCAP

VERSE ONE

The year was 1966 and they were wearing their wedding bands

She was black and he was white and some people didn’t understand

The judge said that’s not legal, the preacher called it a sin

But they couldn’t stop them cause he loved her and she loved him

CHORUS

Don’t tell me who to love, don’t tell me who to kiss

Don’t tell me that there’s something wrong because I feel like this

I know what’s in my heart, that should be enough

Don’t tell me, don’t tell me no, don’t tell me who to love

VERSE TWO

Maybe you’re in love today and you’ve been making wedding plans

But there is someone in your way shouting things cause they don’t understand

The judge says that’s not legal, the preacher calls it a sin

Oh you just remember they were wrong before and they’re wrong again

REPEAT CHORUS

BRIDGE

Now there always will be hatred and voices that condemn

Oh but I believe that true love is gonna make it in the end

REPEAT CHORUS (fade)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Keith Olbermann: Person of the Year

People of the Year Extended: Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann has long been a reliable ally of LGBT people, but the host of MSNBC’s Countdown became a full-fledged hero with his November 10 Special Comment passionately denouncing California voters’ passage of Prop. 8. Olbermann sat down for an extended interview with The Advocate to talk about his commitment to equal rights, working with Rachel Maddow, and that impersonation by Ben Affleck.

By Trudy Ring

An Advocate.com exclusive posted December 5, 2008

Keith Olbermann has long been a reliable ally of LGBT people, but the host of MSNBC’s Countdown became a full-fledged hero with his November 10 Special Comment passionately denouncing California voters’ passage of Proposition 8, which amended the state’s constitution to eliminate same-sex marriage rights. “This vote is horrible,” he said. He told Prop. 8 proponents that gay couples simply “want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world” and asked them, “What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?”

The commentary made Olbermann one of The Advocate’s People of the Year for 2008. Here, Olbermann -- who also cohosts Football Night in America, the pregame show for NBC’s Sunday Night Football -- discusses the motivation for the comment, the possibility of a major team-sport athlete coming out, his role in Rachel Maddow's career, life after Bush, and that impersonation by Ben Affleck.

Advocate.com: You have been a great ally to gay people for a long time, but people feel you really hit it out of the park with your Special Comment about California’s Proposition 8. Where did your passion about this issue come from?
Keith Olbermann: Well, that’s like saying where does the intention to breathe come from. What happened in California does not make any sense on any level. That people would so misunderstand their obligations to each other... it’s hurtful, wasteful, stupid, and hypocritical. This is like saying one group of people is not allowed to buy batteries. Why not? It’s not like there’s going to be a battery shortage. If you substitute in this entire equation the phrase alkaline battery for marriage, you can reduce it to the absurdity that it is.

Why do you think that some people don’t feel as you do on this issue?
It’s probably the standard, the exposure concept -- you take a member of group A looking at a member of group B. If he doesn’t actually know anybody in group B, the likelihood that he’s prejudiced against him or suspicious of him is statistically something like 90%. As soon as he personally knows somebody from group B, his odds of being prejudiced against that group drop to 10%. It’s as simple as that.

You said that you were hard-pressed to name even an extended family member who is gay or a close friend who had suffered antigay discrimination, but you obviously know several gay people, some of whom have appeared on your show --
One of whom has a show after mine.

Yes, Rachel Maddow -- so for you, it has been exposure and getting to know people.
I’m trying to think if there was ever anything in my upbringing at which I had to say, “No, that’s not true, gay people are fine too.” I don’t remember ever having to make that decision. It did take me a while to remember there is at least one gay member of my family. But, as important as it is to your community, the premise is not gay versus straight. It goes back to the idea of prejudice.

My family name is German. We are German Lutherans; however, because of the similarity of that name to a lot of Jewish names … My father told me this story when I was a kid. He’s an architect, and early in his career, the people at a major department store wanted to hire a full-time in-house architect. They interviewed him, and he came home and said, “You wouldn’t believe this. After the first couple questions, they gradually started asking questions that were hints -- like questions about what did I like to do on Saturday.” He said they were getting around to the point, without actually asking it, because it was already illegal to do this in a job interview, of whether or not he was Jewish. Finally he said, “I know what you’re getting at, because the last three or four questions have been obliquely about my religion. I’ve got to tell you something: I’m not Jewish. In fact, I’m not very religious at all. And in fact, I would never work for” -- fill in a serious string of colorful expletives -- “blank-a-blank-a-blank-a-blankers to whom it makes a goddamn difference.” And he got up and left. That makes an impression on a kid in a very good way because you understand the material things that have to be given up sometimes.

In the early ’80s I went out on a date with a great girl, and she happened to be African-American. We went to a restaurant I’d been to a thousand times. It was almost empty, and they took us over to one corner. I noticed another couple being seated about two tables away from us, which was really strange, because it was basically one couple for every 30 tables. This was a black guy with a white girl. I thought, Why did they seat them over here? I guess the waiter over here has more time on their hands than the waiter over there. About 15 minutes after that, in comes another white guy with a black girl, and I turned to my date and said, “Seriously, is it like this?” She said, “Every damn day.” I got it before, intellectually, and just saw enough of it to understand in a different way, viscerally.

So it applies to all people who are subject to prejudice. I am an honorary member of every minority group because I got the tour, and it is something that everybody in this country should go through. Just that moment, nine out of 10 prejudices would evaporate.

We have not seen a major team-sport athlete come out as gay, at least not before retiring. Is the homophobic atmosphere in sports lessening? Can we expect in the near future to see anyone unafraid to be openly gay, say, in Major League Baseball, in the NFL?
I’ve talked of this with some of the more enlightened and intelligent athletes of my acquaintance and come up with this conclusion. A friend of mine said, “When you're on a team of athletes, it’s kind of like a war without actual bullets; you get that close to the people you work with. There are all sorts of really important human emotions going on, and it’s all men. We come from this testosterone-filled, amped-up atmosphere of clanging helmets and running into people and knocking them down, and a guy gets traded and you want to start crying and you give him a big hug. There’s nothing that’s going to confuse athletes faster than nonerotic emotion toward members of the same gender.” They have been raised in an environment in which affection has to be physical, ’cause everything’s physical -- it’s a sport, it’s running into a wall -- so if they feel affection toward another guy on their team, they go right to a big macho announcement that they’re not gay. A guy like me will then say, “Nobody asked if this was gay; we’re just saying, ‘How do you feel about your best friend being traded?’”

There’s such an overreaction to this that I think the sports world is probably going to be the last cultural thing in America that admits anything. I say, “You’ve probably collected a baseball card of at least a couple of gay all-stars.” In sports the reaction to that is “No, it can’t possibly be true,” because that would also mean guys that might have been raised in an environment of prejudice discover they could have nonphysical affection with a guy who turned out to be gay. That’s way too much for the average athlete to understand. So it’ll be a while, I think. Someday some prominent athlete is just going to casually mention it and then the edifice will come tumbling down. But in the interim, it’s “Nope! Never. 0%!”

Back to someone who is openly gay and quite successful, Rachel Maddow --
Rachel’s gay?

Believe it or not! She had appeared on your show several times before getting her own show; do you feel you helped launch her?
There’s a practical answer to that -- I taught her how to use a TelePrompTer. Her big lack of confidence was, “I don’t know how to use a TelePrompTer.” I said, “Let me clue you in. The entire, four-year program we can do in seven minutes. And we’ll have lunch, and then we’ll go back and get your master’s in another three minutes. It’s not very complicated.” She, of course, being who she is, came in and practiced for 20 minutes at a time. She said, “Am I any good at this?” I said, “By this point, no one will know you’re reading a TelePrompTer.”

As to getting the show, the only thing I did that other people didn’t was, having done television shows and been the centerpiece of many of them, occasionally somebody else’s personality traits are so obvious that you can say, “That person can successfully carry the weight of a show on their own shoulders.” Other people here, long before me, said, “Rachel Maddow is great on television, a great guest, and a great analyst,” and I said, “I think she’s a host.” I think I was the first person that noticed that, and I did talk to people in management about her and say, “Host!” Finally, they said, “Well, if you’re willing to try her out on your show,” and I said, “In a minute.” She started guest-hosting, and although she didn’t fully know it at the time, that was basically an audition. The rest was what we expected, and even more delightfully, faster than we expected -- with negligible resistance or even acknowledgment that there’s anything special in her orientation.

It’s maybe the first postmodern story about this in media. Like, OK, “Big news! Lesbian to host news show!” And then it’s like, “Oh, OK.” There really wasn’t any story there, was there? She’s doing really well, and people like her, and people watch the show, so that’s all there is to that, isn’t there? It goes back to that theory of, if you know somebody of a particular group, it doesn’t make any difference anymore. I don’t think Rachel will ever position herself as any kind of flag-waver, but in a subtle, just by being there kind of way, she becomes for many people the person in that group they didn’t know before.

What do you see is your role as a broadcaster?
Do the best job you can seeing the truth and then do the best job you can telling the truth. Risk whatever you have to risk, because ultimately it’s probably not going to be as much as you think it is. Even if it is, at least you will have collapsed, been fired, shot at, or whatever for good reason rather than something stupid or self-serving. I suppose there was some risk in [the Prop. 8 commentary] -- the only risk I felt was, 'I’m not sure if I can read this aloud without getting too choked up to be understood.' I suppose there was some risk to it still, but it’s always worth the risk. Take the chance, because people are willing to speak up in support after you've made your stand. Because I had said that I didn’t have anybody truly in my life who’d been affected by this in any direct way, Ellen DeGeneres called me and said, “I wanted to make sure that you knew somebody who was personally affected by it.” She was very nice.

Many of your Special Comments have been aimed at the Bush administration. With George W. Bush leaving office, any worries about a shortage of material?
Does Prop. 8 give you an answer to that question? [There will be commentary material] possibly on the Prop. 8’s to come. And covering this landmark [Barack Obama] administration and holding them accountable to their promises is going to be interesting.

I’ll close on a frivolous note. What did you think of Ben Affleck’s impersonation of you on Saturday Night Live?
I’ve never had anybody do a successful impersonation, so this by default is number 1. This is kind of my red badge of courage. Sunday Night Football and Saturday Night Live share a studio, and awaiting me was one of the cue cards [signed by Affleck], saying, one, “I didn’t write it” and two, “I did the best I could.” I was delighted.

Newsweek: A Gay Marriage Surge???


I was reading an online article for Newsweek titled, A Gay Marriage Surge. It discussed the slow-but-sure acceptance by the American public of same-gender relationships. The report notes what I have long known: the younger you are, the more likely you are to support not just full & equal rights of GLBTQI people, but full marriage equality: nearly 5 out of every 10 of those aged 34 & younger support same-sex marriage, as compared to 4 in 10 for those aged 35 to 64, and 2 in 10 for the 65+ group. Women also tended to be more supportive of gay marriage (44%) than did men (34%).

Apparently, also the way you view marriage affects your support of equal marriage rights: two-thirds of those who see marriage as legal matter support gay marriage, whereas, two-thirds of those who see it as a religious matter oppose gay marriage.

To me, the Newsweek poll shows the American public’s schizophrenia where equal marriage rights are concerned, and some people's hangup on the word "marriage". While only 39% of those polled approve of actual gay marriage, more than half (55%) are OK with same-sex couples forming “civil unions”--the separate-but-unequal version of what heterosexuals have always had the luxury of taking for granted. These numbers both represent gains since a similar poll was taken in 2004 (when 33% approved equal marriage rights & 40% approved of “civil unions”).

When asked about specific rights (like inheritance rights, health insurance & other employee benefits, Social Security benefits, hospital visitation, adoption rights & serving openly in the US military), relatively big majorities of those polled said they approved of such rights for GLBTQI people (the lowest approval was for gay adoption rights with 53% approving; the highest was for hospital visitation rights at 86%).

The poll also showed that support for the so-called “Federal Marriage Amendment” (FMA) has begun to wane with most respondents now against such an amendment (52%). In 2004, a plurality (47%) favored the FMA. As an aside, voters in Colorado’s 4th district mercifully kicked the hateful Marilyn Musgrave, the principal sponsor of the FMA in the U.S. House, to the curb in the Obama landslide this year. In a year when Prop 8 in California & Amendment 2 in Florida were approved by voters, this sliver of good news was particularly satisfying.

One more nugget of information that proves what I’ve always believed: If you personally know a GLBTQI person, you’re more likely to support equal marriage rights for committed same-sex couples. The report shows that, while in 1994, only a little more than half those polled knew a gay person; in 2008, that proportion increased to more than three-quarters!

That just proves to me the importance of smashing down the closets that hold our lives & our hearts captive. I have long believed that the best thing any of us who have had to spend even a moment of our lives in hiding can do to help not just ourselves but the cause of GLBTQI equality is to start living our lives out loud, because if they know you, it’s harder for them to hate you…at least that’s been my experience.

Newsweek also includes a nice slideshow of gay rights fights around the world, A Changing Tide.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hatred in the Key of "G" (but not "G" for "Gay", Of Course)

Prop 8: The Musical

You'll notice a lot of familiar faces including Margaret Cho, Neil Patrick Harris (from Doggie Howser, M.D.), Kathy Najimy (of Sister Act & Hocus Pocus), Maya Rudolph (of Saturday Night Live), Nicole Parker (of Mad TV), Allison Janney (of The West Wing), John C. Reilly (one of those character actor types whose face looks familiar because he's played hundreds of roles) & a lot of other familiar faces, including Jack Black as our Lord & Savior.

If it weren't all so sick & sad, it would be absolutely hilarious...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fox Who???

I know it’s petty, but this simply tickles me.

As if I wasn’t “gay” enough for our next President!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just in case you needed a reminder...

Because sometimes, it's easy to forget...



Lyrics

Don’t give up
It’s just the weight of the world
When your heart’s heavy, I
I will lift it for you
Don’t give up
Because you want to be heard
If silence keeps you, I
I will break it for you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don’t give up
Because you are loved

Don’t give up
It’s just the hurt
That you hide
When you’re lost inside, I
I’ll be there to find you

Don’t give up
Because you want to burn bright
If darkness blinds you I
I will shine to guide you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don’t give up
Because you are loved

You are loved

Don’t give up
It's just the weight of the world

Don't give up
Everyone needs to be heard

You are loved

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

If you haven't seen this clip from Jay Bakker's former Sundance Channel series One Punk Under God , you should. Even if you have seen it, take another look.

I've seen it many times, and even now, it still makes me cry...

God bless you, Jay!



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vive Le Mariage!

My hubby got a great book recently that was supposed to be one of my Christmas gifts, but patience is a condition with which I rarely suffer, so—with my wonderful enabling husband’s OK--I opened the heaviest present I got this year.

It is one of those huge coffee table books titled The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages: 1851-2008. The book itself does not contain every front page of the NYT ever printed (being as how the cover of the book says there are 54,267 front pages included; they have included inside the book itself selected dates of important events such as the Civil War, World Wars I & II, September 11, etc.), but the book also comes with 3 CDs from which you can pick nearly any date from 1851 to April, 2008, and view the front pages on your computer. Because, as with most newspapers, the front pages rarely contain entire articles, and refer you to pages further inside the newspaper, there are links that allow you to view—-as Paul Harvey says--“the rest of the story”--that begin on the front pages. The only problem with accessing anything beyond the first page is that you must either have or be willing to buy a subscription to the NYT. I may yet do it, but just seeing the headlines & the pictures (some of the older editions of which are unavoidably grainy & of poor quality) of past historical events & reading (even the partial) articles & noting how the writing styles have changed through the years is interesting enough to me, even if I don’t buy a subscription!

I went looking through the book & found the pages from my birthday (October 17, 1962), my husband’s birthday (April 2, 1976) & my mom’s birthday (February 12, 1938). It was while reading the page from my mom’s b-day that, below the fold (as they say in the newspaper biz), I found a news story that really caught my eye.

We’ve all been hearing for a good long time now about the “sanctity of marriage” & how important so many people think it is to keep marriage in its pristine traditional form. Considering the foregoing, I got a real kick reading this article from over 70 years ago, that shows how drastically the “obviously” frail institution of marriage has changed in just a relatively short span of human history. I know it deals with marriages in France, but it gives you an idea how marriage has indeed evolved not just here in the U.S. of A., but around the world.

Reading this article, it seems to me that a there have certainly been a few tweaks here & there to the “marriage contract” through the years, and so far it’s survived pretty well. Allowing me to marry the person I love seems to me to just be a logical next step…then again, why drag inconvenient logic into the marriage equality argument???

Hope you find this article as interesting as I did (in case the copy of the actual article is a little difficult to read, I have typed it up), and that you see, too, how sometimes, just because things are the way they are, doesn’t mean it’s right.

From the February 12, 1938 edition of The New York Times:

French Bill Drops ‘Obey’ in Marriage Vow,
Gives Wives Independent Legal Status

PARIS, Feb. 11 – French wives will no longer be obliged to promise to obey, it is provided in a bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies without debate early this morning. The bill, originating in the Senate, contains many other reforms in the status of married women which go further, some feminists believe, in their emancipation than if it gave French women the vote.

Under the French civil code to date a wife has been under the supervision of her husband almost to the same extent as minor children. Unless otherwise stipulated in the marriage contract, she could bring legal action only with her husband’s authorization, sign checks on her own bank account only with his countersignature and make a will, dispose of her goods or make a contract only with his approval. The bill passed today permits her to do all these things in her own right with the condition that she must not thereby pledge the family fortune in any way.

As to the marriage service, French brides used to be told on their wedding day by the Mayor: “The husband owes protection to his wife and the wife obedience to her husband.” Now he will say: “The husband is the head of the family.”

The old law forbade a wife to bring legal action without her husband’s authorization, even when she was authorized to have a separate business property. The new bill states that a married woman shall enjoy full independent exercise of her civil status. This cannot be restricted except by special legal provisions or by stipulations in the marriage contract.

French women, who since the war have faced a scarcity of husbands, complain frequently that men will not marry unless they obtain full charge of the community property in the marriage contract. Despite the new bill, this feature of the marital status stands.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Dads Are Better Than None...Sometimes....


Is it me, or does the sentence, “…it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent” seem like just plain old (not-so) common sense to you??

Maybe it is in most places, but it seems that this “radical” idea has only now found its way to Florida.

Monday, November 24, 2008

LBJ & MLK & BHO

Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, recently wrote a commentary for CNN about her father’s part in the election of Barack Obama.

She explains how her father laid the foundation, strengthened by Dr. King’s work, life & heart-but-not-dream breaking assassination, back in the 60s that paved the way for an African American with a decidedly African-sounding name 4 decades later to have a chance to prove to a still majority non-African American country that the content of one’s character & of one’s heart has always meant more than the color of one’s skin.

It’s long been part of the uniquely American story that any child in the Land of the Free could hope to be President, if that child studied & worked hard & believed, but for too many of those children, it was but a theory. With the election of someone to the highest office in the land of someone who only LOOKS different than the 43 citizens who held the office before him, we’ve finally proven to ourselves & to future generations of American children that hope just isn't meant to be theoretical or exclusive to only "the right people."

This must be what it’s like to have a dream come true.

God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.

The subject of this post is a quote from 17th Century British writer, Izaak Walton. It seemed to fit well here, as does this line whose author I am unable to determine:

I wake each morning with the thrill of expectation

and the joy of being alive.
And I'm thankful for this day.

Watching this video reminded me not only how short life is, but that it's not the quantity of our years that is important, but the quality of our years. Brenden had only 11 years of life, but he lived a real life, and was thankful for the time he was given.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, it also personally reminds me that--while sometimes I may lose sight of it every now & again--I don't need a national holiday to be thankful for all the blessings in my life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

“I don't want to be in your future. It's frustrating enough being in your present.”

The title of this post comes from a quote by former professional baseball player, Roger Erickson, and it seemed quite appropriate for this occasion.

I know that "This is not a scientific poll" because CNN tells me so, but still, it just makes me giggle a little to know that (as of 5:53 am Eastern Time on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008) 191,000 random people in the world voted on this question, and three-quarters of them think that uber-hockey mom & former John McCain soul mate, Sarah Louise Heath Palin, should limit her future damage to the 663,268 square miles inside the state of Alaska. Besides, I'm sure that keeping an eye on Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as he "rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America" is more than enough to keep her busy when she's not fighting to make Alaskan women pay for their own rape examinations, or battling witchcraft.

Can you guess how I voted on this one??? I bet you can!

While this may not be a scientific poll, it's pretty well-known that our Mrs. Palin doesn't have much use for Science anyway.

No matter what this poll reveals about what some people may think of Sarah Palin, I'm sure she'd be the first to tell you that "success" is a relative term: while she may have been the co-runner-up in this year's political beauty pageant, at least it's a step up from her third place finish in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The G.O.P. & G-O-D

I never thought I'd agree with conservative syndicated columnist, Kathleen Parker, but in this piece she wrote for this past Wednesday's Washington Post regarding the Republican Party's "God" problem, I found myself not only agreeing with her, I even let out a little, "Amen!" when I finished reading it!

Of course, I'm no fan of the obviously self-destructive GOP, and there is no doubt that after all these years of sowing an ill wind, they are now most deservedly reaping the inevitable whirlwind of no good. The question is: Will whatever-is-left of the Republican Party own up to their mistakes & allow a little of some long-needed introspection to set them free, or do they decide to re-double their efforts at stubbornly careening down the hill at an even more rapid pace towards political oblivion by fueling their political Edsel with more of the same old snake oil they call "that Old-Time Religion"?

Giving Up on God

By Kathleen Parker

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

Meanwhile, it isn't necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world's architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won't get whiter. And the nonreligious won't get religion through external conversion. It doesn't work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base -- or the nation may need a new party.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bless The Beasts & The Children


Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice

Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

For the first time ever, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) endorsed a candidate for President: Barack Obama. Obviously the Humane Society is comprised of many kinds of people who are animal lovers & pet owners, and I'm sure they represent nearly every kind of ideology on the political spectrum, so the HSUS has resisted making presidential endorsements, although they do endorse congressional candidates.

Per Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) President Mike Markarian, in regard to political endorsements:

One of the guiding principles of the Humane Society Legislative Fund is that we evaluate candidates based on a single criterion: where they stand on animal protection policies. We don't make decisions based on party affiliation, or any other social issue, or even how many pets they have. We care about their views and actions on the major policy debates relating to animal welfare.

In breaking with their long-standing tradition of refusing to endorse any candidate for the Highest Office In The Land, the HSLF explained on their website that

...in an era of sweeping presidential power, we must weigh in on this most important political race in the country. Standing on the sidelines is no longer an option for us.

The HSLF Board of Directors (comprised of both Democrats and Republicans) was unanimous in its support of the Obama-Biden ticket. In urging their members to vote for the Democrats, they stated simply:

The Obama-Biden ticket is the better choice on animal protection, and we urge all voters who care about the humane treatment of animals, no matter what their party affiliation, to vote for them.

And, when the Humane Society urged a vote for "them", they meant them! In speaking of the next Vice President of the United States, the HSLF proclaimed Joe Biden

...a stalwart friend of animal welfare advocates in the Senate [who] has received high marks year after year on the Humane Scorecard.

As you may remember, President-Elect Obama, during his victory speech after winning the election, had promised his daughters, Sasha & Malia, a puppy when they moved into the White House; he even addressed the issue in his first post-election news conference.

He has said he’d also like to adopt a hypo-allergenic breed because of Malia’s allergy. Apparently there are quite a few breeds to choose from. He also said he’d like to get the girls a shelter dog, many of whom (in the future President’s own words) “are mutts like me.” I honestly had no idea that our next President is such an animal lover! For me, it just shows that Obama not only has a great mind, but a great heart, too, and that’s just icing on an already fantastic cake!

Oh yeah, if she’s not already been adopted, I personally would vote for Baby (the dog in the pic above).

According to Care2, a 9-million member online social network that helps to connect people who want to help with deserving causes:

The above photo shows Obama with "Baby," a three-legged dog that lost its fourth limb following years of mistreatment at a California puppy mill. The toy poodle spent much of its life locked in a small wire cage. The breeders cut out Baby's vocal chords so that they would not have to hear her cries. In cages next to her, other dogs literally went insane, spinning repetitively with blank stares. Still others were gravely ill, maimed and had filthy, matted coats. A number was tattooed on the inside of Baby's ear, marking her as just one of many dogs at the mill

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Surely, You Jest!

The Associated Press reports that Sarah Palin has just sounded the clarion call for the newly (and much deserved) diminished Republican Party to be the watchdogs of the new strengthened and widely-voter-approved Democratic majorities:
Sarah Palin called on fellow Republican governors to keep the new president and his strengthened Democratic majority in check on issues from taxes to health care as she signaled she'll take a leadership role in a party searching for a new standard-bearer.
Wha..The...?

The party which, for 8 years, not only eschewed any oversight & manipulated any & all levers of government to deflect the light of day from the ill-conceived schemes & shenanigans of their "good ol' boy" network but who--eyes wide open--recklessly maneuvered our country into the the sorry economic ditch in which we now find ourselves actually believes that it is in any position to play referee for a game to which elephants haven't even been invited? Just goes to show that the pachyderm party has still not come to terms with the fact that the American public cannot love a political party that it cannot trust.

And Sarah Palin's claim that she could become the party's "new standard-bearer"? All I can say is that it couldn't happen to a better group of unwitting soon-to-be-if-not-already-almost political has-beens! If our Mrs. Palin is trying to position herself as the archetype leader of the brand new Grand Old Party, and the true believers & movers & shakers of the Far Right fall for it, maybe American voters will mercifully put the this poor deluded band of political blood brothers & sisters out of their electoral misery once and for all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"...the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America"

If you haven't seen this yet, please take a few minutes to watch this interview conducted by Charlie Rose of Mitchell Gold (founder of Faith in America), who wrote the book Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America.

The interview is broken up into 2 clips.

I think & hope it will bless you, as it did me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

I didn't want to let this day pass without honoring the real-live American veteran-heroes who gave so much , so that we may ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves & our posterity.

We, as a country, could never ever be thankful enough for those who placed their own personal lives in harm's way, so that we can all continue to enjoy the fruit of their hard-fought labors.

"Thank you" seems so woefully inadequate in expressing how much we appreciate our true American heroes giving their all in service to the country they so deeply love.

So Happy Veterans Day to all of you who shed blood, sweat & tears & to their families back home for making such a sacred sacrifice for an always-grateful country.

Thank you, Keith.

Just. Thank. You.



Transcript:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8, and I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics; this is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did, or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them, "No You can't have it on these terms; maybe something similar--if they behave, if they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, "No, you can't marry." What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that: If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized. You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman.

The sanctity of marriage.


How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term meaningless?

What is this to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love, but don't you, as human beings, have to embrace...that love? The world is barren enough: it is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate...this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe He represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this, and then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate: you don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know, it is, in fact, the ember of your love for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have, and the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How about taking away THEIR rights???


I am not 100% if this is legitimate and/or if it’s even a good idea (I’m not usually one for taking rights away from citizens, being that I'm usually on the receiving end of such propositions), but if the Right is so intent on really, truly honoring & saving marriage, why not outlaw divorce?

What do you think???

Better yet, I wonder what those people so in love with hetero marriage think???

Speak now, or forever hold your peace, as they say!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why Can't the State of Florida Be More Like Key West???

Just found out that Monroe County (a.k.a. Key West) was the one & only of Florida’s 67 counties where the majority of voters did NOT approve Amendment 2. Only 7 other counties in Florida gave the Amendment more than 50% of the vote but less than the required 60% to pass (Alachua, Broward, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas)

Of course, if you know anything at all about Key West, that just would not surprise you! Still, nearly half (48%)of the residents of the open-minded, fun-loving, welcoming Conch Republic crossed over to the dark side Tuesday.