Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity..."

WOW....


Rather than try to blog about  this   I will let the man speak for himself...  Brilliantly.


The greatest  thing  I have heard  in  YEARS  at ANY rally in Washington, DC -  "We live in hard times,  not "End Times"."

Thank you Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bishop Mark Hanson - It Gets Better

Bishop Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, lends his voice to the "It Gets Better" project in a new video.
Says Hanson: "Sometimes the words of my Christian brothers and sisters have hurt you. I also know that our silence causes you pain...You are a beloved child of God. Your life carries the beauty and dignity of God's creation...There is a place for you in this world, and in this Church."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear Wisconsin GOP.. Really?? THIS is your idea of a Lt. Governor?


Hat tip to Eric Dolan over  at  RAWStory for this  little gem  from my  home state...
Republican candidate for Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch compared same-sex marriage to marrying a clock during a radio interview.

"This is a slippery slope," Kleefisch said. "In addition to that at what point are we going to be okay marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs?" "This is ridiculous," continued Kleefisch. "And biblically, again, I'm going to go right back to my fundamental Christian beliefs marriage is between one man and one woman."





Wow... the only things she's  missing  are Tina Fey glasses,  and a husband who doesn't speak but  just  poses with a dead moose and a snowmobile.  But I say  let's take  little  Becky Kleefisch  at her word and she really means it  when she says;  I'm going to go right back to my fundamental Christian beliefs".   

So if she wasn't lying and just  trying to use  homophobia  to rally her tea-bagging, civil rights fearing, home skooled minions.  And we accept  that  she  truly holds real honest to God, fundamentalist Biblical beliefs;   Then we can expect Kleefish to announce any day now, that  she is quitting the race and submitting herself to death by public stoning.  The fundamentalist biblical punishment  for a woman daring to speak in public and seek public office with out her owner's (Father's, husband's  or oldest male sibling's) permission.

We can expect in her next speech on agriculture,  one of Wisconsin's major industries;  Kleefish will confirm her deeply held  belief that any WI Farmer  who plants  different  crops side by side  is to be arrested  and put to death for committing  an abomination unto the Lord Thy God.

And since  Kleefisch holds her fundamentalist beliefs  so  deeply and honestly,  we  can safely assume that any member of her campaign staff  wearing  clothing made from two different  types of  material  will also be  turned over to the authorities  for capital punishment.      Not to mention the fact that  The Kleefish campaign certainly  has NEVER held any events  or done any campaigning on  Sundays, as  that would be in violation of the Sabbath itself.

In fact,  lets  take  a good look at exactly how  the GOP Candidate for  Lt. Governor of  Wisconsin's fundamentalist  beliefs  actually DO define  the institution of  marriage...



But in all  seriousness...  Rebecca Kleefisch is a either a  blasphemous  bigot or an idiot.    What I find most interesting about tea-bagging  troglodytes like  Kleefisch,   is  their  constant  selective  bible thumping.   They say the "Bible" is the inerrant word of God and want to use it to deny civil rights and basic freedoms to other Americans, but  they NEVER practice what they preach.

Their mis-use of the Bible is to pick bits of it selectively  and use  ONLY  random lines  that  can be taken  completely out of context to support  whatever it is  they are saying at the time.  But that isn't even  the real issue  here.   Neither  is Kleefish's  tired  re-used  comparison  of  Same Sex marriage to someone wanting to marry  a piece of  furniture or their  pet..

It was the same  argument racists  screamed in opposition to inter-racial marriage.  It was bigoted nonsense then, and  it still bigoted nonsense  now.

But what is most  galling  about  Kleefisch's  homophobic bile,  is not her  assertion that  somehow her beliefs are "Christian", nor is it  her desire to make those beliefs  the basis  of public policy in the State of Wisconsin.    What is most galling about  what Kleefisch does, is  that when she says "Christian Beliefs"  she really means  only HER beliefs.

I am a Christian,  and I worship regularly at one of the  oldest  protestant  churches  in the  Western United States.  St. Mark's  Lutheran Church in San Francisco is in fact,  the oldest  Lutheran Church west of the Mississippi River, founded in  1849.    I am the son of Lutheran Pastor  and  yes,  have  even taught Sunday School and  Confirmation classes.

So  when Sister Rebecca  over there  starts  talking about  what  Christians  believe,  she certainly  doesn't speak for me,  or  millions of Christians  just like me,  who DO believe that  all of us  Gay and Straight are loved  equally by God, and deserve the SAME rights.  Including the right to get married.

When you claim  that  religion  has the right to dictate  to the State  how to function,  you then by that very fact,  must allow the State to dictate to the Church in the same way.   THAT is what Thomas Jefferson knew and was warning against,  when he spoke of  the separation of Church and State.   If you truly don't believe in that separation  then you don't really believe in  religious freedom either.   Without  a  the clear  constitutional separation of Church and State,   America  would  be essentially  no different  than Saudi Arabia,  or Iran,   or  the Taliban in Afghanistan .

Tea-bagging wing nuts  like  Rebecca Kleefisch,  Christine  O'Donnell,  and  Sister Insanity herself,  Sarah Palin  will spew nonsensical rantings about the "threat" of  Sharia (Islamic religious) Law, being imposed upon the United States.  Then in the same breath,  selectively advocate for codification  of  some of  the Sundry Laws  from the Old Testament.book of  Leviticus.

The hypocrisy  and ignorance   on display in the Wisconsin Republican Party of 2010,  would  make the men who gathered in that school house in Ripon Wisconsin  and established that party, break down and weep.

Rebecca Kleefisch says that all Americans  having equal rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, would lead to people marrying ....a piece of furniture.    Hardly surprising, since  Kleefisch just proved she clearly has the intelligence of one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tonight's "Special Comment" on MSNBC

Keith Olbermann breaks it down clearly and concisely. The GOP/Tea Party wins next Tuesday,  ALL of America  will lose...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

President Obama Makes the Case...

From Library Mall  in my hometown.. Madison, WI

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Message from The President of the United States



Thank You Mr. President...

and  Thank you  Dan Savage.  You started a conversation that now reaches  from small town America  to the Oval Office.   Well done.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Google it! Search Result = "It Gets Better"

Show Your Support Today ....



The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is asking Americans to wear purple on Oct. 20 to show their efforts to support the end of anti-gay bullying.
GLAAD has set up a website that lists a number of steps participants can take to help stop the bullying of gay, lesbian,  bisexual and transgendered people.
Organizers say those who participate in "Spirit Day" can change their Facebook profile picture and/or Twitter profile to reflect that they're wearing purple for the occasion.
According to GLAAD's website, the event was created by teenager Brittany McMillan earlier this month, following several high profile suicides following alleged anti-gay bullying in September. Rutgers University Freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate allegedly broadcast video of Clementi having sex with another man online. Seth Walsh, a California 13 year old, committed suicide after reportedly being bullied because he was gay.
Facebook pages have also been set up by several participants, one with the message that "This event is not a seminar nor is it a rally. There is NO meeting place. All you have to do is wear purple."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Marriage Equality... It really DOES feel different.

In  the musical  "Guys & Dolls", long suffering  night club star, Adelaide  has been "engaged" to gambler Nathan Detroit for  fourteen years.   In the song  "Adelaide's Lament"  she  sings of her desire to FINALLY get married  and how  the stress of not knowing when or if she ever will,  is giving her a cold.



At the risk of being  completely clich├ęd,  the  now  decades long  saga of  marriage  equality has,  had same sex couples in the United States  feeling  a lot  like  Adelaide.  back in the  1990's Bill Clinton  was going  to be the champion for  LGBT  Equality,  but instead  he signed both  the  Defense of Marriage Act,and the military's  "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy  into law.

Then came the 2008 election and  Illinois Senator Barack Obama.  Candidate Obama said he didn't  believe in  "Gay Marriage" but  said he fully supported Civil Unions and  promised to repeal the  Defense of Marriage Act.

video

Yet just this week,  President Obama had  "his Justice Department" file an appeal in federal court defending the Defense of Marriage Act  and putting forward the argument that  allowing same sex couples  equal rights somehow would cause harm to  the United States.   Thanks a lot  Mr. "Fierce Advocate"...

And  in the middle of all this  debate on DOMA and  Proposition 8 here in California, which banned  same sex marriage.   We have not even touched the  issue of how the lack of  Marriage Equality impacts  bi-national same sex couples;  Where one person is an American and the other is not, and many couples are forced apart by that.   

Or,  as is becoming more and more common,  the American half the couple is forced to choose between love or country,  and  move to one of the twenty nations   that give equal treatment under the law to same sex couples.

And that is where our story begins.   in 2008 and 2009, my partner Eric and I did what a lot of  same sex couples did.  We waited to see if President Barack Obama would keep the promises he made as  candidate Barack Obama.

When it became clear that the inspiring words he spoke to LGBT voters were just that,  words,  we began the process  to apply for a Civil Partnership Visa,  for me to move to the U.K.
The United Kingdom has Civil Unions for same sex couples that have the same rights as Heterosexual marriages.   So  Eric  would be able to sponsor me as a spouse to live and work in the  U.K.   We started this process back in  January  and it is a long, tedious and  very expensive one.    Back in July  we  finally submitted all the required documentation, financial records, letters from friends and family,  airline ticket receipts, telephone bills and skype chat transcripts all proving our relationship was real.  
Then we waited  to hear back from the U.K. Home Office if the visa was approved,  and have been waiting ever since.

This afternoon I was sitting at  my desk at work,  it was one of those days that you could swear someone had tied invisible weights to the hands the the clock because the day  was just going by so slowly.   I had just finished a very long and  somewhat dry conference call , when I heard the  familiar  buzzing sound of my blackberry and felt  the vibration on my hip.   

As I started working on a power point presentation, I  took out my Blackberry and  hit the key to open the email that had just come in.   What I saw on the screen was this:  

 "Your application has been approved and the visa has been issued.  Please check your visa immediately on receipt to ensure that we have completed your visa correctly. Please send details of any errors or omissions to visas.losangeles@fco.gov.uk ASAP."    

 Many well intentioned  people, both inside and outside the LGBT Community have often asked what is the "big deal" about  Federal recognition  of Same Sex couples,  after all  with powers of attorney, living wills and the like,  Gay couples can have the same basic rights and protections  as opposite sex couples.  

Did it really matter if the Government gave its blessing or even its permission?   Libertarian friends of mine have long argued that  Government has no business being involved with marriage at all, and  it should be simple matter of  contract law.   So does  having  a Government say  "Ok, you can get  married"  really make any difference?  I often wondered that myself.  Many couples  have "commitment ceremonies" with family and friends in spite of the lack of  civil recognition.  Does  some sort of official civic approval really matter?

Then today I sat at my desk and  saw that short, to the point email message, in which  the Government of the United Kingdom was essentially saying to me;   "We approve of you and Eric  wanting to spend the rest of your lives together,  Cheers!".  The answer to that question was as clear as the text  on my blackberry screen.  

Yes,  it does make a difference.    

It does  feel different  when Government, the  civic will and voice of a society says  that  you matter,  you count  just  as much as everybody else does.  Your relationship,  your love,  your life that  you  want to build together,  is just as valid as everybody else's.    

How does that feel?  It feels incredible.

I have to admit  I didn't get much work done after that.   Instead I found myself staring at my blackberry with a huge grin on my face,  thinking one thought for most the rest of the day.

I'm Getting Married!

Ok... this was pretty funny

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Welcome to Norman, Oklahoma - Gay Teens Please Kill Yourselves...

From the Dallas Voice - A 19-year-old gay man from Oklahoma has taken his own life, and his parents say a hate-filled recent City Council meeting he attended may have driven him over the edge.

Zach Harrington was a talented musician who’d endured years of struggles due to his sexual orientation in high school in conservative Norman, Okla.

On Sept. 28, Harrington attended a three-hour public hearing on a proposal to declare October gay history month in the city. Although the council ultimately approved the proposal, Harrington’s parents described the meeting as potentially “toxic” for their son, a private person who internalized his feelings.

From the Norman Transcript - One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights. Some of those who opposed the proclamation claimed that members of the GLBT community would use it to infiltrate the public school system, essentially allowing the “gay lifestyle” to become a part of the curriculum.

For those in attendance, it was hard to ignore the intolerant grumblings, the exasperated sighs and cold, hard stares that followed comments from supporters of the GLBT proclamation.

Zach's family, who described him as a private young man who internalized his feelings and emotions, said it was this “toxic” environment at the Sept. 28 council meeting that may have pushed their gay son and brother over the edge. Nikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister, said her brother likely took all of the negative things said about members of the GLBT community straight to heart.



The  message  the people in that  room sent to  19 year old  Zach Harrington was  loud and clear;   You don't belong here,  you are  something "less than" the rest of us,  God is sending you to Hell,  and  what's more,   we know that you  are  really out to  destroy us all,  and our town.

I think the next  act by the Norman City Council should be to approve  sister city project with Terhan, Iran.  As both cites  are clearly full of  fundamentalist religious extremists  who are terrifed  by diversity, and feel threatened by democracy.

Thank you Ben!

UK Rugby  Superstar  Ben Cohen  speaks out about  the teen suicides here in the US.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Think Progress Nails it....

The GOP Midterm Campaign ... All sound  no substance.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Brilliant Video from Maine

My  unbelievably  brilliant  and talented  friend,  Khris Francis   posted   a link this  video  to his Facebook Page today.



Wow...

A Response to an "Evangelical Conservative" who is Sorry...

Seattle Columnist  and Civil Rights Activist  Dan Savage  (The brain behind the amazing  and powerful  "It Gets Better" Project.)  Received this letter this past week:
-----------------------
Dear Dan,
I was listening to the radio yesterday morning and I heard your interview with Beth McDonald. I have been thinking about it a lot since then and I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you. I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bulling. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man that took his own life after being humiliated by people who should have known better. I think you need to be aware of your own prejuduces and how they might play into your thinking. At best I think your comments were hypocritical.

If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preferance, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man and I know for a fact that is true of many other people who disagree with your viewpoint. Please be aware that your words are powerful and people are listening to you.
To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are imperfect, fallible and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people. I have never in my life know someone who loved the Lord who wished ill will on other people and certainly not death "so that [we] can perpetuate [our own] agenda."
Please consider your viewpoint and please be more careful with your words in the future.
L. R.
--------------------------------------
When I saw this letter  reprinted on  Savage's  website,  I so wanted to post my own  "response" to it, but  Dan Savage's  response sums things up far better than I ever could...
--------------------------
I'm sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I'm not. Gay kids are dying. So let's try to keep things in perspective:fuck your feelings.
A question: do you support atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All legal, of course, and there's no Christian movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or to people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not?
billyjustinashercody.jpg
Being told that they're sinful and that their love offends God, and being told that their relationships are unworthy of the civil right that is marriage (not the religious rite that some people use to solemnize their civil marriages), can eat away at the souls of gay kids. It makes them feel like they're not valued, that their lives are not worth living. And if one of your children is unlucky enough to be gay, the anti-gay bigotry you espouse makes them doubt that their parents truly love them—to say nothing of the gentle "savior" they've heard so much about, a gentle and loving father who will condemn them to hell for the sin of falling in love with the wrong person.
The children of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or at your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. You may only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, but your children have the option of attacking actual real gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.
Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not "sinners." Real gay and lesbian children.
The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from lips of "faithful Christians," and the lies that spew forth from the pulpit of the churches "faithful Christians" drag their kids to on Sundays, give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your straight children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to the family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry himself to sleep—feel justified in physically attacking the gay and lesbian children they encounter in their schools. You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" gay kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we can see the fruits of it.
Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words.
Did that hurt to hear? Good. But hearing it couldn't have hurt nearly as much as what the boys in the photo above had to listen to—day-in, day-out, for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the images of the hateful and false "followers of Christ" they call "mom and dad."

P.S.: The religious right points to the suicide rate among gay teenagers—which the religious right works so hard to drive up (see above)—as evidence that the gay lifestyle is destructive. It's like intentionally running someone down with your car and then claiming that it isn't safe to walk the streets.
Which is why I argued that every gay teen suicide is a victory for the religious right. Because, you see, your side does use those suicides to "perpetuate [your] agenda." Tony Perkins and all those other oddly effete defenders of "Chrisitian values" and "traditional marriage" will point to this recent spate of gay teen suicides to argue against gay marriage, anti-bullying programs, against allowing gay people to serve in the military—basically, they'll gleefully use these tragedies to justify what they like to call the "Christian, pro-family agenda."
But right now Tony Perkins is being strangely silent. Why is that? Could it be that even Tony Perkins has a conscience? Nah, couldn't be that. He must be away on vacation.
I wonder who's lifting his luggage.
--------------------------------------
Thanks Dan,  people like Tony Perkins,  James Dobson,  Maggie Gallagher  all have  blood on their hands  this week.  

Friday, October 01, 2010

Maggie Gallahger Wants You to Know She Cares... Really.

Writing on her organizations hate-blog today Slaggie Gilamonster had this to say: 
"The suicide of that teen was not only a tragedy it was a crime. The young people who violated laws out of mindless desire to bully or embarrass or whatever the heck kids do this stuff will be prosecuted and probably jailed, I hope. Nothing in the press accounts suggest the kids who did this were motivated by homophobia, and the cruelty of cyberbullying is causing teen suicides among those who are not gay, as well. I do not think the absence of gay marriage is the cause of these tragedies or its presence will resolve them. We can make this a symbol of all our other fights, or we can try to save all our kids, gay and straight, from this kind of ugly and mindless cruelty. My heart goes out to the family of the young man. God bless him and them."
- Maggie Gallagher, commenting on NOM's blog. 
Oh look, Maggie Gallagher the woman who has made her career out of saying how evil Gay and Lesbian Americans are, feels bad that a teenager killed himself - how nice. But of course, according to Maggie, the fact that Tyler Clementi was Gay should not be the issue. Maggie feels we should make Tyler a "symbol"in the fight to protect ALL our children. Wow. 
Maggie Gallahger of the National Organization for (some people's) Marriage wanting to find common ground on stopping bullying. What could possibly be wrong with that? 
Plenty. Because, you see, Maggie's sudden outbreak of sensitivity has NOTHING to do with keeping kids safe. 
The wing nut social conservative Right knows they need to get control of the Bullying debate and get control of it FAST. 
They are desperate to take sexual orientation out of the debate. Because if you say it is wrong that a kid was bullied because he was gay, you are really saying there is nothing wrong with being Gay; and NOM can never allow that to happen. 
This in spite of the clear evidence that bullying based on sexual orientation was the direct cause of a number of recent tragic suicides across the the United States. So much so that the United States Government was compelled to issue this statement:
--------------------------------- 
STATEMENT BY U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAN On the Recent Deaths of Two Young Men 
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today released the following statement: 
"This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear. 
"This is a moment where every one of us - parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience - needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it's students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop." 
-------------------------------------------
Maggie's dear friends and bankrollers over at "Focus on the Family" figured out the danger to them, and the threat this poses to their arguments against LGBT equality right away.  So they quickly  launched an all out attack on anti- bullying programs and proposed safe school legislation, because it might say things like a kid shouldn't be beaten and tormented simply for being Gay. 
As I mentioned in my previous posting. Focus on the Family knows they have to change this debate so that any efforts made to protect Gay and Lesbian Teens are portrayed as part of some sinister Gay plot to indoctrinate children; 
" LGBT groups use bullying prevention to promote their homosexual agenda, including the idea that homosexuality is normal. Focus on the Family education expert Candi Cushman said that the group is against bullying but that bullying prevention “is being hijacked by activists.” She claims that anti-bullying programs are gay activism in disguise and that these programs conceal their true purpose." 
OF COURSE Maggie and NOM want to have a nice generic "gay free" discussion on "Cyber bullies", and not have to answer for their barnstorming around the country constantly spewing the talking point that Gays and Lesbians are inferior to Straight People, and don't merit any legal protections. 
It's hardly a surprise that Maggie wants to say that this is about generic "Bullying" and NOT about homophobia. 
Maggie Gallahger has spent millions of dollars saying that Gays and Lesbians are "attacking families" and are out to "destroy traditional marriage", that Gays and Lesbians have a "Radical Agenda" and are a "threat to children". So I am sure the LAST thing Maggie would want to do is have to answer for the impact that her "work" might have on people like Tyler Clementi's Roommate Dharun Ravi and  Ravi's friend Molly Wei. 
So from NOM"s point of view, if you take the fact that Tyler was GAY out of the discussion, (as Maggie DESPERATELY wants to do) , you can be "sympathetic" but NOT have to examine the motives behind WHY Tyler's roommate Dharun Ravi did what he did. 
Talking about the death of Tyler Clementi in it's true context means you have to ask the question; why didn't Ravi and Wei feel that Tyler Clementi had the SAME rights to privacy, dignity and common courtesy they would expect and even demand be given to them without question? 
To have to face the honest answer - That Ravi may have felt that Tyler Clementi was somehow "less than" because he was Gay; means you have to accept the idea that someone being discriminated against because they are Gay or Lesbian, is wrong.  Maggie's whole world view  could never allow for that.. 
Maggie Gallagher is the face and voice of an organization that has spent millions of dollars putting out the message that Gays and Lesbians do not deserve to have equal rights. To even allow the argument that homophobia is a bad thing is to risk the entire premise upon which her career and her organization's very existence is based. 
NOM's "concern" over bullying has NOTHING to do with protecting kids, and EVERYTHING to do with protecting homophobia.