Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thanks Gregg for tipping this.
While I sit at home with Molly and Madison and Yule, my darling daughter is off on another adventure in Asia. Here's her "New Year's" email (with her permission.)
Dave and I are staying at the Chaweng Chalet in Koh Samui, Thailand. Koh Samui is a beautiful little island with white sand beaches, crystal water and lots of Thai food.
We are having a great time and it is very safe and comfortable. We paid about $40 dollars a night to get an "upper end" hotel bungalow which is clean, no bugs or pests, and they staff is very nice. It is right on the beach and breakfast is free (made to order eggs and bacon, ham, etc.)
We an rode elephant, swam in a waterfall, and rode a motorbike to a night market where a pop singer had a show.
Today we are going to the south end so I can have a surfing lesson.
We go back to Korea on Wednesday night (New Years Eve). We'll be in the Bangkok airport for New Years, but it was all worth it.
Okay, Love you all.
Sa Wah Dee Ka (Thai Goodbye)
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 2221, S. 1328) is a U.S. bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.
Every year, thousands of same-sex couples are separated or live in constant fear of being stopped by officials who demand to see documentation and threaten detention. In some cases, same-sex partners face prosecution by the Immigration and Naturalization Service - including hefty fines and deportations. U.S. citizens are sometimes left with no other choice but to immigrate with their partners to a country with more fair-minded immigration laws.
Change.org has an excellent website and a place for you to "sign on" as a supporter of this bill. Please go there and sign on to this this Net action.
Three Men Gunnede Down In New Orleans: New Orleans police are searching for the killers of three black gay men after they were found dead at their home on December 18th.
Felix Pearson, 19, Kenneth Monroe, 27, and Darriel Wilson, 20, lived together in New Orleans, all from Mississippi. They were found by the building manager who saw one of the victim's bodies through the window and alerted the authorities. At least two of the men are known to have been gay and one was possibly transgender, as one of the victims was found by police "wearing women's clothes." PinkNews
Gays Threaten Disruption Of Italian Music Festival: December 23 - Italian gay rights group Arcigay on Tuesday threatened to disrupt Italy's biggest musical event of the year, the Sanremo song festival, if a song apparently about 'converting' gays to heterosexuality is not pulled.The song by 36-year-old Milan singer-songwriter Povia, entitled Luca Was Gay, was announced on Monday as one of 16 numbers that will compete for the title of best song at next year's festival in February. ANSA
Good Prop 8 Activism Essay by James Hipp: (in part) After California voters passed Proposition 8 on November 4, which took away the rights of gays, lesbians to marry, the LGBT community and their straight allies took to the streets of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, in protest after protest, demanding the repeal of the ballot measure. The fallout from the amendment has also sparked numerous boycotts that forced many “Yes on 8” contributors like L.A. Film Festival director Richard Raddon into the unemployment line. GayAgenda
Vatican Breaks With Italian Law Over UN Declaration Of Human Rights: A new statute coming into effect on January 1st will allow the Vatican to bypass Italian law. This comes in the wake of a row at the UN, where the Vatican refused to sign up to a universal declaration of human rights regardless of gender or sexuality. Under current laws, the Holy See must accept Italian laws automatically apart from in the case of "radical incompatibility" with canon law. The new statute signed by Pope Benedict XVI will put an end to this system. PinkNews
"White Knot" New Symbol For Marriage Equality: The White Knot is the symbol for marriage equality. It takes two traditional symbols of marriage—white and tying the knot—and combines them in a simple way to show support for the right of gays and lesbians to marry. All loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows.
Visibility is the goal. Whether you are gay or straight, please show your support by wearing the Knot and telling people why you are wearing it. It may seem like a small thing, but imagine the White Knot gaining the pervasiveness and instant recognition of the AIDS Ribbon. WhiteKnot.Org
More Transgender Violence In Memphis Tennessee: Another transgender woman has been shot in Memphis, becoming the third transgender shooting victim in the city in just six months. Campaigners have blamed the murders on a lack of job opportunities for transgender people, saying that some have no option other than working on the streets where they are at risk from attacks. Leeneshia Edwards was shot in the face, side and back in the 'box town' area of the city last week and is recovering in hospital. Her family have said she worked as a prostitute. Pink News
GLBT Historical Society Opens Castro Museum: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society held a festive ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 18 at its new museum and exhibit, “Passionate Struggle: Dynamics of San Francisco’s GLBT History.” The museum is located on the corner of Castro and 18th Streets. Invited guests were staff, donors, and volunteers. “We are in a magical moment, where a few months ago we were offered this space by Washington Mutual Bank to be able to create an exhibit in time for the release of the MILK film,” explained GLBTHS Executive Director Paul Boneberg. The curators of the museum are Amy Sueyoshi and Don Romesburg. “We wanted to create an exhibit that tells the tale of both our sorrows and our happinesses,” said Sueyoshi. “We wanted to create a story that was as heroic as it was true,” said Romesburg. San Francisco Bay Times
Gay And Bisexual Black Men Least Likely To Seek Testing For Prostate: A new study published in the December issue of Medical Care claims that African-American gay and bisexual men are the least likely to be tested for prostate cancer than any other men. The study, by assistant professor Kevin C. Heslin of Charles Drew University, Los Angeles, explored rates of prostate cancer in relation to sexual orientation and ethnicity. Interviews with 19,410 men, all aged over 50 years, showed that the proportion of black gay or bisexual men who had been tested was 12-14%. This figure is significantly lower than the proportion of straight black men, and 15-28% lower than gay or bisexual white men. Pink News
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to stop prayer from being part of the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration. The Madison-based foundation, its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor and several of its members are among the 29 co-plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit, Newdow vs. Roberts, filed Monday by attorney Michael Newdow in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit seeks to stop the Presidential Inaugural Committee from sponsoring prayers at the official inauguration.
The 34-page legal complaint said for most of the country's history, clergy has not led prayers at inaugurations.
Similarly, the lawsuit seeks to stop U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts from using the religious phrase, "so help me God," in the presidential oath of office.
"Interlarding those ceremonies with clergy who espouse sectarian religious dogma does not unite, but rather divides, our citizenry," Newdow's complaint reads. "Similarly, instead of instilling confidence in our governmental structure, it tears at the very foundation upon which that structure is built."
This is Newdow's third lawsuit over the issue, so Gaylor said she is not holding her breath about getting the court to agree in time for the inauguration.
"But even if we don't get the injunction, it is also asking to have a judge declare this practice unconstitutional," Gaylor said. "The lawsuit could continue after the inauguration. We think we should win. Whether we will win in today's current climate, I don't know."
Of the nation's 57 public presidential inaugurations, Newdow pointed out, 39 were devoid of clergy-led prayers and only 18, spanning the last 72 years, have included them.
The notion that "so help me God" was added to the presidential oath by George Washington is a myth, Newdow said. Not until 1881 can the first use of "so help me God" as an addition to the presidential oath be traced. The phrase was apparently used only intermittently until 1933, according to the complaint. That unauthorized alteration has been used by the Chief Justice since then.
The complaint points out that the Bible that is traditionally used in the inauguration, not only calls atheists fools, but says atheists as blasphemers should be put to death, Gaylor said.
"There is good reason for those of us who are nonreligious to be offended by the Bible, by God being brought up at an official inauguration," she said.
This reminds me that our country's motto, "In God We Trust", was not added until the Civil War years. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and Monroe would have been appalled at this motto - they FIRMLY believed in the separation of church and state. Wish we did too.
ACLU Sues Over Arkansas Ban on Unmarried Couples Adopting: "More than a dozen families filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a new Arkansas law banning unmarried couples living together from becoming foster or adoptive parents. The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the families in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking to overturn Act 1, which was approved by voters in last month's general election. "Act 1 violates the state's legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else," said Marie-Bernarde Miller, a Little Rock attorney in the lawsuit." Fox News
Another Look At NJ Discrimination Case: "A church group that owns beachfront property discriminated against a lesbian couple by not allowing them to rent the locale for their civil union ceremony, a New Jersey department ruled Monday in a case that has become a flash point in the nation's gay rights battle. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to rent the oceanfront spot to the couple for their ceremony in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's Law Against Discrimination." Washington Times
Australian equality act inquiry could be delayed until 2011: "An Australian Senate committee has recommended an inquiry into the need for an equality act banning homophobic or transphobic discrimination, following complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The AHRC is currently unable to protect the LGBT community fully as federal protections do not cover homophobia in the media or commercial services as other forms of discrimination are. This inquiry, however, would not report its findings until after the next federal election in 2011, if it takes place at all." Pink News
Fighting Marriage Equality By Banning Marriage: "The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association regularly made the pavilion available for public use, including weddings, so Vespa-Papaleo stated it was bound by the state law against discrimination from barring civil unions.
The pavilion was not dedicated for use solely for the practice of religion, so applying the anti-discrimination statute would not impair the association’s “free exercise of religion,” Vespa-Papaleo added. The division did however reject a similar discrimination claim by a second gay couple due to the fact they applied for a permit to use the pavilion two days after the association banned all weddings there. It looks like they took a great measure of blocking all weddings to show their homophobia!" GayAgenda.Com
Mother Fighting Discriminatory Paramour Clause of Divorce: "Divorcee and mother of two Angel Chandler has approached the Tennessee Court of Appeals to allow her to have her female partner stay overnight. Ms Chandler, who has been with her partner for almost a decade, is appealing against a child custody restriction known as a paramour clause, in which she is not permitted to have her lover stay overnight if her children are present." Pink News
Playstation Game, PS Home, Restricts Gay Words: "A 3D social gaming community on Playstation 3, Home allows users to meet online in a virtual world, where they can watch trailers of new games, play virtual pool and bowling together, and chat to each other via instant messaging. Just weeks after the launch of the new product, however, Home has received complaints about its instant messaging feature; the text filter does not allow users to type the words "gay", "lesbian" or "bisexual" when communicating with other players. Gaming enthusiast Michael Marsh came across the restrictive filter when trying to create a "gay/straight alliance club" on Home. He said: "By blocking a word like 'gay,' which is a preferred term by the gay community, you're encouraging it as a bad word. I can understand if they're filtering out profanity, but if feel like it's discrimination." Pink News
Hochner opens doors for gay cinema in Israel: "As he looked around the Tel Aviv theater and asked questions of the audience, Israeli filmmaker Yair Hochner could see a smattering of Orthodox Jewish men distinguished by their religious dress - and the way they avoided his attention. "They were trying to hide - like putting their hands on their faces and stuff like that," Hochner says. "It was very touching to see." Touching because Hochner was screening "Antarctica," his dramedy about gay and lesbian Israelis, and the Orthodox Jews were wrestling with their consciences to be there. Orthodox Judaism prohibits same-sex relations, which "Antarctica" spotlights in an explicit way. " San Francsico Chronicle
Spanish judge suspended for discrimination against lesbian parents: "A Spanish judge has suspended from work after attempting to stop a lesbian adopting her wife's child. Same-sex couples are permitted to adopt children in Spain, and gay marriage was legalised there in 2005. South east Murcia's Superior Justice Court suspended Judge Fernando Ferrin Calamita for two years, and ordered that he pay the woman £5,778 in compensation." Pink News
Prop 8 Supporters Violated Election Reporting Laws In Fund Raising: "Those who ran the successful ballot proposal to constitutionally ban gay marriage in California (Prop 8) did not report all of the donor information as required by state law. The group failed to get the occupations of the most of those who contributed to the campaign. In a statement Monday however, Joe Kanefield, the state’s top election official said that the poor wording of the law allows them to get away without obtaining that information. He added they are not required to give back the donations or pay a fine for not providing complete information." GayAgenda.Com
Obama advisor supports choice of anti-gay preacher for inauguration: "President-elect Barack Obama's senior advisor David Axelrod has spoken in support of the decision invite evangelical preacher Rick Warren to his inauguration.
Mr Axelrod is a chief advisor to President-elect Obama. Speaking on NBC, Mr Axelrod defended the controversial decision to include Warren in the ceremony. "The important point here is you have a conservative evangelical pastor coming to take part in the inauguration of a progressive president," he said according to the Associated Press. President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to lead the invocation at his January 20th inauguration in Washington DC. The decision sparked outrage, particularly amongst the gay community.
Gay congressman Barney Frank said: "Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair. If he was inviting Rev Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing. But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honour. It has traditionally given as a mark of great respect. I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect." " Pink News
Religious Reich Up In Arms Over Anti-Gay Blacklist: This is a different entry - in several stories on Religious Reich and conservative websites, I read that the Religious Reich is upset that supporters of marriage equality have the audacity to hold people responsible for funding the negation of their civil rights. They really, really hate the anti-gay blacklist. Here is the website for the "Blacklist." http://www.antigayblacklist.com/
Monday, December 29, 2008
The truth is that the Methodist Church owns a square mile of ocean front property at Ocean Grove in New Jersey. Part of this property is a boardwalk. On this board walk is a pavilion. The Church organization allowed folks to use the ocean side pavilion for weddings - all faiths. But they denied two lesbians the right to use the pavilion.
Today, an administrative judge found that the Methodists discriminated against the lesbians in violation of state law.
Previously the Methodists lost their tax exempt status ONLY for the pavilion - not for the boardwalk or the other dwellings and buildings on the square mile of ocean front property. They lost their tax exemption because of PUBLIC USE of the pavilion, not for religious beliefs. The ruling was that if the Methodists did not allow ALL members of the public to use the pavilion, then it was not a public facility and should be taxed.
No "Church" or sanctuary lost its tax exemption, only one small pavilion in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
Imagine the outrage such a statement would provoke, especially if that leader was German.
His supporters are equally quick to insist his membership was compulsory and that the young Joseph Ratzinger was never a Nazi, just an innocent German boy who was forced into a form of national service while his country was at war.
Since he took control of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005, Benedict has displayed an obsession with gay people.
New Jersey Lesbians Win Part Of Case Against Methodists: "A lesbian couple that was barred from holding a civil union ceremony at a beachfront pavilion owned by a church group has won a legal victory. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said in a ruling Monday that there is probable cause that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns a square-mile of beachfront property near Asbury Park, discriminated against Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster by not renting the oceanfront spot to the couple for a civil union ceremony in March 2007. While the ruling is decisively in favor of the couple, it does not end the case, which has become a major symbol in the gay rights battle in New Jersey and beyond. An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties." New York Blade
Study Shows "Virginity Pledges" Put Teens At Risk: "Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today." Huffington Post
Pope Takes Another Swing At Marriage Equality: "That’s right, the Pope is at it yet again, with his third strike against gays in just weeks. This time it was at a
pro-family rally in Madrid, Spain this past Sunday. Spain is one of the few countries which has legalized same-sex marriage.
The pope spoke in front of hundreds of thousands of people who were attending a Mass aimed at reversing the country’s three-year-old gay marriage law. He insisted that Christian families need to “remain strong”." GayAgenda.com
Transgender Bangladeshis to vote 12-29-08: "Today's general elections in Bangladesh will be the first ever to allow transgender people to cast ballots. A Bangladeshi court ruled that transgender people are fully-fledged citizens and must have the right to vote. 100,000 transgender people are expected to be amongst the 81 million voters predicted to turn out to vote. Pink News
Homophobic Families Harm Gay Teenagers, Study Claims: "For the first time ever, researchers have claimed that there is a direct link between homophobic rejection of LGB adolescents by their families and mental health problems. A peer-reviewed article entitled "Family Rejection as a Predator of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults" summarising the research will appear in a January edition of Pediatrics. Pink News
Facebook Censors Homophobic Sites: "Social networking site Facebook has responded to calls for two Serbian homophobic groups to be removed from the web. Users of the groups posted death threats to gay and lesbian Serbians, and called for attacks on gay people and their properly. The members of the group also sent hate mail to LGBT activist leaders, and publicised their names, addresses and telephone numbers, raising serious concerns about security and proper use. These two groups have since been removed from the site." Pink News
Ugandan Judge Rules In Favor Of LGBT Activists: "Ugandan Justice Stella Arach yesterday (12-22-08) issued a ruling in favour of LGBT activists in their suit against the Attorney General of Uganda. The Uganda Hight Court ruling cited constitutional violations of the rights to privacy, property and the fundamental rights of women. It was the first time a gay or lesbian person has brought the authorities to court." Pink News
Straight Man Wins Case On Homophobic Harassment in United Kingdom: "A 56-year-old married man who was repeatedly taunted at work about being gay because he lives in Brighton has won his case at the Court of Appeal. An employment tribunal and an appeal tribunal had both rejected his claims of discrimination. Stephen English suffered years of abuse and insinuation from colleagues at Thomas Sanderson Blinds, based near Portsmouth, where he had worked in sales." Pink News
Religious Reich Lawyers in Arizona Seek Right To Discriminate Against Gays and Lesbians: "A conservative legal group is calling on lawyers to oppose a proposed revision to the Arizona Bar Association oath of office that pledges equal representation to LGBT clients. Alliance Defense Fund calls the proposal “unconstitutional.” The proposed revision to the oath states: “I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care.” 365 Gay News
Four Sought In Gang Rape Of Lesbian: "Police in Richmond, northeast of San Francisco, are hunting four men accused of the brutal kidnapping and gang rape of a lesbian. Investigators have appealed to the public for help and have posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrests and conviction of the men. Police said that the 28 year old victim was confronted by the four as she got out of her car on December 12. She was beaten, raped and robbed. When the attackers heard someone approaching they forced the women into her car and made her drive to a desolate area where the attack and rape continued." 365 Gay News
Episcopal Religious Reich Win Property In Virginia Court: "Nearly a dozen conservative church congregations in Virginia have won a lawsuit in which they sought to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute over theology and homosexuality. The final rulings came from a Fairfax County judge who said the departing congregations are allowed under Virginia law to keep their church buildings and other property as they leave the Episcopal Church and realign under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops from Africa." 365 Gay News
Tennessee Judge Discriminates Against Lesbian Mother: "A divorced Tennessee mom of two was recently told by the court that her lesbian partner of nine years can no longer “sleep over” when her kids are in the home. The reason? A “paramour restriction” imposed by a judge, despite the fact that a psychological evaluation found the woman to be a positive influence on her partner’s children. Meanwhile, the woman’s ex-husband shares his home with his wife of five years, who gets to “sleep over” whenever she wants." Gay Agenda
Religious Reich In Ethiopia Want Constitution To Criminalize Gays And Lesbians: "Religious leaders, representing various denominations in Ethiopia gathered Monday in the country’s capital of Addis Ababa to urge the country’s lawmakers to constitutionally ban being gay. Almost a dozen clerics said outlawing being gay simply wasn’t enough. Current Ethiopian law forbids gay sex and prescribes a six month jail sentence as punishment, but the constitution never mentions the issue. Gay Agenda
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In this instance the Religious Reich is the American Family Association (AFA) headed by Donald Wildmon. The AFA calls itself "Christian" but is really out to oppress gays and lesbians and others. This time they are mad at Campbell Soup Company. Campbell Soup had the audacity to run ads in The Advocate about Swanson broth. In one ad they show two women and a child. This outrages the Religious Reich. In a quote from their website they say:
Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their
agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell's a chunk of money, but they also
sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of
I assume that to the AFA, two women and their child is not a "family." I wonder what they would call this human grouping?
A "pack of perverts?"
A "herd of homosexuals?"
A litter of lesbians?"
If two women deeply in love with one another and their child is not a "family," then what is it?
Of course this photograph in the ad pictures an American Family. Of course Steve and I and Carey were a family. Of course I am a family now - a family of one, but part of a greater family. (A very nice family, thank you!)
Wildmon, the AFA, and the Religious Reich show their hatred in this website. By denying these women the dignity of "family" the AFA is teaching hate. Hitler denied the humanity of Jews. Wildmon is denying the humanity of lesbians. I see no difference in their attitude.
The full ads can be seen here - I note the AFA does not have any problem with the chefs photographed. These guys look gay to me, but what do I know?
Hat Tip to Box Turtle Bulletin.
I give full credit to my brother Dave for discovering this video. This and more items of interest can be found at his blog, Delete Me First.
The United States of America was the ONLY Western Nation NOT to support the resolution. The only advanced country NOT to agree with the universal decriminalization of homosexuality. Even knowing that in SEVEN nations, gay and lesbians are subject to death, the USA failed to support the EU resolution.
I cannot wait until President Bush and his cronies are out of office. I have high hopes for the Obama Administration. I hope I will not be too disappointed.
But the Bush Administration refusal to support decriminalization of homosexuality is a slap in the face of all Americans who value freedom. In the closing days of a horrible administration, President Bush manages to get in one more outrage against his gay and lesbian citizens. I am embarrassed to have George W Bush as my president. Embarrassed.
Catholics Need To Confess Voting For Obama: "Parishioners of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto have been told they should consider going to confession if they voted for Barack Obama, because of the president-elect's position condoning abortion.
"If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don't risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously," the Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph's, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 21." Modesto Bee
Federal Court Rules 2 Dads Belong On Birth Certificate: "NEW ORLEANS -- A same-sex couple in California has won a federal court ruling that their adopted son's Louisiana birth certificate must bear the names of both adoptive fathers.
The facts are so clear that no trial is needed, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey wrote.
"What a great Christmas present for these guys!" said Kenneth D. Upton Jr. who represented Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith of San Diego. " AP via Sacramento Bee
USA Refuses To Support UN Resolution Decriminalizing Homosexuality: "France fired the opening salvo last week in a battle at the United Nations over making homosexuality a “human right.” The European nation tried but failed to get the U.N. to approve a non-binding resolution decriminalizing homosexuality worldwide. The United States refused to sign onto the measure, the only Western power to do so. "It's disappointing," said Rama Yade, France's human rights minister, of the U.S. position. But former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer told CNSNews.com that he is very glad the U.S. held firm." CNS News
Warren Tries To Clean Up Act: "'Tis the season of empty gestures! Inaugural pastor Rick Warren rewrote his website so it no longer says gays are poison to his congregation. In fact a whole long lecture about gays was deleted." The Gawker
Rep. Barney Frank Thinks Obama Overestimates His Ability To Unify: ""I think Rick Warren's comments, comparing same-sex relationships to incest, is deeply offensive, wildly inaccurate, and very socially disruptive," Frank said. "And I'm glad he is talking to the Muslims. I'm glad everybody's talking to everybody. We're not here talking about not having conversations. We're talking about singling somebody out for a great honor. And I think the president-elect made a serious mistake in doing that." The Hill's Blog Briefing Room
Pope Says Saving Humanity From Homosexuality Is As Important As Saving Rain Forests: "Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound." Yahoo News
New York Times Publishes Wedding Announcement For Two Men: (Lovely Article): "Except, of course on Dec. 6, when they celebrated 32 years as a couple by getting married at the Carpe Diem Guesthouse and Spa in Provincetown, Mass.
Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Perreault wept while reading Walt Whitman poems to each other. Then, standing before Rachel Peters, a Massachusetts justice of the peace, they vowed their love as they removed the friendship rings from their right hands and placed them on each other’s left ring finger.
“The whole ceremony was more emotional than I expected,” Mr. Perreault said. He even teared up when applying for the marriage certificate. “I thought it would be just like getting a driver’s license, but it wasn’t.”
Equally moved, Mr. Weinstein was looking forward to what lies ahead. “John continues to surprise me,” he said. “I still don’t know what’s deep inside him. And I still want to know.” New York Times
What Rick Warren Really Preaches At Saddleback Church: Here is a website in Googles's Cache I found from links at several other websites and blogs. Here, Rick Warren says that gays and lesbians cannot join his church:
"Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church."
Here is the whole link - Question 48 is the one I quoted from. The Answers to his questions are at the bottom of this same web page.
Putting up the Christmas trees was a tradition for us. We have two trees - one with only animal ornaments and one with the family ornaments. I have always put them up on the day after Thanksgiving. That Friday each year was our decorating day.
A few disasters - gave a beautiful tie tack to a brother who never wears a tie. Gave lovely earrings to a sister who does not have her ears pierced. Other than that, the gifts went over over well.
Santa brought me some tea from San Francisco, a keyring for digital photographs, a very large check, a light for the grill, a great knife, much candy and a membership in Netflix. AND a plastic spoon-rest from Florida - it says so right on the spoon-rest. I will have to take a picture. It is one of those presents destined for re-gifting to another brother next year. I also received an absolutely exquisite card from Korea - might have to photograph that also.
Mom and Dad made me cry when they gave me a card telling they had a tree planted in a national forest in Steve's name this holiday season - they will never forget him. Neither will I.
But it was a lovely Christmas for me in Magalia, Paradise, Chico, Cherokee, and especially in Newark, Delaware.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
At the end of their discussion, Mr. Huckabee wanted to make clear that his favoring "traditional marriage" did NOT make him a "hater" or a "homophobe." Stewart said HE had not called Gov. Huckabee any pejorative names on air.
Many bloggers like this one and the good folks at Free Republic are making the same claim as Gov. Huckabee. "Being in favor of "traditional marriage" does not make one a homophobe. The gays are the ones being intolerant these days. They should tolerate our views in favor of "traditional marriage."
I have been pondering this viewpoint for many days. I sincerely believe Gov. Huckabee and others opposed to marriage equality ARE homophobes and haters. I do believe it. But why?
Gov. Huckabee et al believe that voting for Proposition 8 was simply a vote to protect "traditional marriage." I put "traditional marriage" in quotes because every person has a very different idea of what constitutes "traditional marriage." Is the woman to obey the man? Are finances to be equal? Is the woman to work outside the home? Are children a necessary ingredient?
Gov. Huckabee et al also make the argument that "traditional marriage" includes one man and one woman because a mother and a father in the home are the best way to raise children. They seem to argue that children are a necessary ingredient to marriage - yet they will never say so because they also allow couples to decided not to have children and they allow infertile folks and the elderly to marry. So Gov. Huckabee et al want it both ways - marriage includes children but married people are not required to have children. Both ways.
Gov. Huckabee et al also argue that if society gives First Class citizen rights of marriage equality to gays and lesbians, then that same society will have to legalize polygamy and incest and bestiality. They appear to argue that if a society leaves the Biblical tradition of marriage, then anything goes!
But they do not see these positions as hateful ...merely thoughtful. Not homophobic, only traditional. AND they demand tolerance for their positions - no protests, no boycotts, no consequences.
What Gov. Huckabee et al refuse to own is the hate behind their thoughtful position.
If it is better for a child to be raised by a man and woman than by two men or two women, then it is logical to assume that two men or two women are worse choices as parents than a man and woman. "Traditional families" are better than gay or lesbian families.
If the respect and dignity of marriage is reserved for heterosexuals then it is logical to assume that gay or lesbian families are not to respected or dignified as much as straight couples.
So in "defending traditional marriage" what they are actually saying is that my marriage was not as valuable to society as a straight marriage. That my family is not as good as their families. Second class, unworthy, not as good as.
And THAT is a statement of hate and homophobia.
My undocumented marriage to Steve was as intimate, as close, as committed as ANY straight marriage. We went through poverty and wealth, sickness and health ... and stayed together in mutual support and love. I sincerely wonder how many straight couples would have stayed together facing the challenges we faced. I wonder.
My parenting of Carey was as good as any straight person's parenting. I raised a bright, thoughtful, talented woman unafraid to seek her goals in the world. She is loved and loving, kind and giving, and a wonderful woman. I am largely responsible for that. MY PARENTING!
Yes, I AM as good as heterosexuals. Just as good. No better, but just as good and valuable to society.
To vote Yes on Proposition 8 is analogous to voting to keep schools segregated - to keep traditional societal values and traditions and institutions.
Sometimes, tradition itself is hateful to people.
The time honored tradition of slavery was hateful.
The time honored tradition of denying women the vote was hateful.
The time honored tradition of keeping in the home and out of the workforce was hateful.
The time honored tradition of never voting for Roman Catholics was hateful.
The time honored tradition of straight-only marriage is hateful, too.
You may not FEEL hate, but Gov. Huckabee et al, your words and actions spew forth hate and homophobia.
Gays and lesbians do NOT need to tolerate hatred and homophobia, any more than women need to tolerate sexism or Asians need to tolerate racism. Hatred is never to be tolerated in the USA ... never!
So Gov Huckabee et al, you are clearly mistaken. You ARE homophobes. You ARE haters. If you do not like being that way, then change your hearts and stop hating gay men and lesbians.
I woke up and thought the house was a bit chilly. The thermostat read 61 degrees ... that is a bit chilly. I go to the dreaded furnace to see what is what ... I cannot get it to start with the thermostat. Peering through the peephole on the monster, I can see no light at all. The pilot light is out and the gas furnace cannot work. Easy enough to fix.
20 minutes latter, after numerous tries, I realize the pilot is NOT going to be lit by me. Oh well. In the meantime, I realize that I am just awake, I have an appointment at 10 AM and have to leave at 9:30 AM and the very nice cleaning lady is coming at 9 .... AND I have not had breakfast or walked the dogs. Bah humbug.
Triaging the situation, I realize that I have to use the bathroom for business and shower before the cleaning lady arrives in 15 minutes. I release the dogs outside and head for the bathroom.
The toilet gets clogged and overflows. Another mess to clean up and fix ... thank goodness the plunger worked! Then into the shower.
The cold water faucet in the tub is broken .... you can turn it forever but no water. Bah humbug. Off to the alternative shower ... racing the clock.
Saved and showered, I dress in time to greet Christine. As she is setting up shop to work I begin making VERY expensive phone calls. Yes, my gas company can fix my furnace but not until Friday. The plumber can come on Friday morning too. But the plumber is charging me $85 just to come to my house because I do not live in the city ... what a rip off! But darned if I can fix the faucet. I have tried that before - struggled for a day or so and THEN call the plumber. No, I will pay whatever it takes.
As I hang up, I realize I better find a working toilet in a hurry ... I am VERY nauseous. What a pain in the neck to be vomiting while getting ready to leave. Most unnecessary. However I do feel a little better after.
I finally get out of the house and on the road.
Heck of a way to wake up.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. So yesterday afternoon, I decided to do something different. I usually read books. This afternoon I decided to watch DVD's. Things I have but have not had time to watch yet.
First up was "Another Gay Movie." This is a laugh out loud romp. Along the lines of a gay "American Pie" four young men graduate high school and want to have sex before they head off to college. It is like a moving comic strip - colorful, over the top funny, and a laugh out loud comedy. I enjoyed it.
Next up was "East Side Story" about a Latino man who lives and works in the East Side of Los Angeles. Gay couples are moving into the neighborhood - fixing up houses - and driving up the cost of housing and property taxes. The Latino residents who grew up there are having some difficulty sharing with white gay guys. But sort of like "West Side Story" without the music, the plot leads to ... well ... a lovely open ending. Again, highly recommended.
The evening ended with a dose of heterosexuality at its finest - "Henry VIII and His Six Wives." This movie is much like the BBC series of yesteryear. I recommend it for those of us who are die hard fans of the Tudor family. Otherwise I would save my money.
The end result was a break in my despair and a snooze on the couch until midnight. Up to feed the cat, stoke the fire, and take the dogs to bed. It was another two dog night - cold!
See you at the movies!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
After Thanksgiving, I entered a period of despair that was truly horrible. I have posted some about those dark days. I was grieving and emotionally hurting and was a real mess. Those dark days finally ended last Monday.
On Wednesday December 3rd, I had a root canal - well a partial root canal - the dentist was not able to get the filling gunk into all the roots. He completed the root canal this Wednesday past - December 10th.
The root canal dealt with roots that went way up into my cheek. It hurt - even after all the nerves were taken out. Apparently, whenever the dentist messes with a tooth - dead or alive - one can have pain for several days. In my case, the root canal pain triggered migraine episodes.
For the last ten days, I have been migraining fairly steadily. That means pain, confusion, anxiety, loss of clear speech and loss of motor control. I have been able to pull myself together for an hour or two at a time ... but I have been in pain and in episodes fairly steadily for the last ten days.
So? No posts on this blog. When I am in great pain or in emotional despair, I just don't feel like blogging. It is as simple as that.
I am better now ... still migraining more than I like, but I am better as the toothache decreases in intensity. So I hope to be blogging more starting Sunday.
Thanks to all of you who missed me!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Several loved ones have told me how difficult it is to read that I am contemplating suicide. A wise man has suggested that I stop blogging about such as it upsets they who love me dearly. I told him I would not make that promise.
Let me be clear before I start ... I have made a firm decision not to commit suicide. It would be counterproductive. taking my own life would not get me closer to Steve and would cause unnecessary anguish to people I love. So no suicide.
But yet, I may discuss suicide more if the feelings return. I know it may upset people who love me, but I will be honest about my grief. I will say things like I cried hard, I really sobbed, this morning walking the dogs. I did not want to, but I did anyway. I usually cry in the mornings, usually while alone on my walk in the woods.
Why am I sharing my vulnerability, my grief with the world? I decided to be honest and share my grieving experience with my family, my friends, and the world back in February.
At the time of Steve's death, I had attended one memorial service at the Palace Saloon in Fairbanks Alaska and one funeral at the Mormon Church in Oroville CA. I did attend the funerals of any of my grandparents, aunts, or uncles for various reasons. As a young man, I was the designated family member to sit home with my Great Aunt when her husband died. I was designated as too young to attend her funeral a year later. I was too far away and too poor to attend the other funerals in my family.
At the time of Steve's death, I had never seen a dead body. I had never witnessed a widow or widower grieving. Death was a physical mystery to me and so was grief. I had read about the stages of grief and I Had experienced them to some extant at various losses in my life. But nothing prepared me for walking in and seeing my beloved Steve dead in our marriage bed. Nothing prepared me for this grief journey.
I have learned a few things along the way.
Widowers, big strong men, all cry. I cry and I read about other men. But we cry in private, usually alone. And we do not just sniffle or leak a little water. No, widowers sob into the night; we wail and bemoan our loss with great hot tears that hit our chests like raindrops before a downpour. Big, heavy tears. And lots of them. Over and over.
I was told at the beginning that my heavy grief would last a year or so. That is NOT true. I am into the 11th month of grief and I feel in my heart that I will still be in heavy grief beyond January ... way beyond January. Actual widowers tell me in books that two, three, four, five years is a more realistic estimate. After a period time, one still hurts - but can find joy and happiness in the world.
I know know that this loss, this ache, this hurt will NEVER leave me. My heart will always ache for Steve - but as time passes the hurt will be easier to bear. That is what widowers I read about say and widowers tell me the same. It feels true.
Dead bodies, Steve's body, is just that - his beloved body. His dead body was not spooky or icky at all. It was my beloved's body. He relaxed into death - it showed on his face. I am so fortunate to have spent time with Steve's body after death. Nothing can teach us about death and dying more than a dead body.
So soon, Steve's body was whisked away - never to be seen again. With the wave of a VISA card, death was neatly packaged and presented by the funeral home. I cannot complain, it is the American way. Very tidy, very neat. Unless you ask questions as I did.
I know that Dr. Resk performed an autopsy on Steve's body. The chest was cut open and all the organs taken out and weighed and examined. I know that the organs were not put back in their proper place. After the autopsy, the parts were stuffed into the cavity and the skin quickly sutured to hold it all in. Then Steve's body was cremated.
I learned that if you desire to have your wedding ring on at cremation, the funeral home takes it off the body and drops it into the bag of cremains. The furnace is not hot enough to melt metal.
I know now that the amount of cremains is dependent on the size of the person - it is so logical, but I never thought about it. Large people like Steve create more cremains than small people.
I now know that cremains look like fine kitty litter. Gray and like a very fine litter. I know now that after the body is cremated in the furnace, the cremains are crushed into these fine particles. Yes, you can see white bone bits but they are so finely crushed that it all looks like ... well it does look like a very fine kitty litter.
I now know that the funeral home must give the cremains to the family. If the family refuses to receive them, the funeral home gives them to the county coroner. He is supposed to have the cremains buried but this costs money. He just stores them on a metal shelving unit in a county storeroom.
I now know that cremains come in a plastic bag tied up with a twist tie and a brass identifier. This plastic bag is then placed in a plastic box (or expensive urn) and the box is in a velvet bag. Many layers, much mystery, much respect - as it should be.
I now know that for weeks after the death of beloved spouse - through the Memorial Service and the visits of relatives - the widower is in a state of shock. He is numb and going through the motions of life.
I do not remember most of what happened from the day after Steve died on January 27, 2008 until May. It is all hazy in my mind. I hardly recall who was with me except for Carey. I was n a welcome state of shock.
Why was shock welcome? When I came out of shock I started feeling. The waves of loss hit me for all sides, all the time, for weeks and months. I felt like I was stuck in a whirlpool of emotions. They came at me and hit me and made me feel. It was horrible.
But those wild emotions passed. In their stead is a deep depression and feeling of loss. Remembering the past makes me weep in pain at my loss. Thinking of the future without Steve increases my anxiety level to frightening proportions. I can only live in the moment. I live best in the "right now."
But often the "right now" is a time of great sadness. In that sadness, thoughts of suicide come. The pain is so deep, it hurts so much, and I want SO MUCH to be with my Steve that thoughts of suicide are natural, expected, and utterly normal. I know that now.
I am also convinced that suicide is not a good option at all.
I know now that grief is not only emotional pain but also physical pain. There is an ache in my gut that has become so familiar that I often do not notice it. A constant ache in my solar plexus region as though I had been hit hard - hard enough to take my breath away and leave a purple bruise. But there is no mark - just the broken heart trying to heal.
I am told by the books I read and by my grief counselor that I am doing everything right. I talk about my feelings, I feel my feelings, I am not stuffing any feeling or holding anything back. I am told there is no way out but through. I believe it.
I have pictures of Steve all over the house. Nothing new since his death - we always had lots of pictures around. Seeing Steve all over saddens me. I cannot remove his photographs, yet they sadden me. Until late summer, I had Steve's picture as computer wallpaper - I saw him a lot. Then as time passed and I healed some, I was able to put other pictures up as screen-savers. It helps me to see Carey and Dave or the dogs there. It helps.
Tuesday of this week I finally took Steve's gold earrings out of my ears. I replaced them with earrings I like. I could not do this for many many months ... I needed the reassurance of Steve's gold in my ears ... like a memorial idol to him.
I wear Steve's wedding ring still. It is not close to time to take it off. It is no where near time for me to remove my wedding ring ... if I ever will.
I is so very hard, so terribly difficult, to begin to use "I, me, mine" instead of the normal "We, us, ours." It hurts to try to use the correct terms ... it is one of the things that makes men cry in private.
Grief hurts. The depth of pain is in direct proportion to the depth of love. Or so I am told ... I do not know - this is a "first" for me.
Widowers (and I suspect widows) need hugs - lots of hugs. I miss the touch of my beloved. I am not talking about sex, I am talking about the normal human contact between spouses. The little touches, the hugs, the casual affection. I miss that - my skin sometimes crawls in need to be touched.
I will stop now ... understand that as I share these things with you - my family, friends, and strangers - I am usually weeping (or sobbing) as I type. The sadness of grief is an old friend now.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Unemployment in Zimbabwe is about 90 percent, and the official inflation rate is 231 million percent, though unofficial estimates suggest it's higher. The opposition party, the MDC, blames the President - so does Jimmy Carter. Mugabe refused permission for President Cartr to visit Zimbabwe recently on a humanitarian visit.
The entire country seems likely to become a humanitarian crisis - thanks to President Mugabe.
For a full report on this nightmare of a country read this good article at CNN.
Jennifer Hyde at CNN write a beautiful article about this remarkable man - Raphael Lemkin. He was a Polish Jew who dedicated his life to the proposition that genocide is an international crime.
This is an excellent article about a remarkable man - a true international hero!
(CNN) -- Paris, 1948. In the shadow of the Holocaust, the fledgling United Nations meets to adopt one of its first human rights treaties.
Applause shakes the room, cameras flash -- and at the center, a single, tired, unassuming man: Raphael Lemkin.
It was, at last, a victory for a tireless crusader who had fought for his entire life against genocide -- and coined the term that describes the world's most heinous crime.
"This new official world made a solemn pledge to preserve the life of the peoples and races of mankind," Lemkin later wrote.Sixty years ago this month, the U.N. voted unanimously to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was ambitious, serious, far-reaching -- and largely the result of Lemkin's lifetime of effort.