Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Holidays from the U.S.

Well we  made it  to  the U.S. Just fine.  I am sitting in my parents kitchen  in Waunakee, Wisconsin  as I type this  blog entry.

Big  thanks to our good friend  Jeff Koren who  gave us  great advice on how to handle the pitfalls of  US  Customs and Immigration . He said I should  go through the  "visitor " line at passport control with Eric  and  that way  we  went through passport  control together.  Sure enough,  we breezed right through!

Got in  last Friday and  had a wonderful  Christmas  with  my Parents  and  my Sister and her family , who  also flew out from  California.   There even was a light dusting of snow still on the ground here , so we ended up having  a  White Christmas  after all.

We then had a fantastic  celebration for my Parents  50th  Wedding  Anniversary on December 27th.  There was a special church service  where they reaffirmed their  wedding vows, which was followed by a dinner and party  with  over  60 friends and  family .

We are here  through  New Year's  and will fly back to London  on Monday.   It is always surprising  how  fast  the time goes by.  There is never enough time to see  all the people you want to see, and who want to see you.  So  to  folks  who  we were unable to  connect with  this trip,  our apologies, but there  was just too much going on  and too little time.    

It is always great to get back to Madison.   I grew up   here  so  it is always  "coming home": for me.   Showing  Eric  around  the UW Madison campus  you find  yourself  awash in  memories.   

Yet as is always the case, you tend to notice the changes   more  than the things  that have  stayed the  same .    Which  is  interesting,   because it tends to be  little things that  change.  

One of my favorite stores on State Street; (The Puzzlebox) is no longer there, yet  State Street Brats remains  as a constant.  A firewall against  a tide of  changes  that might wipe away  all  Madison  traditions. 
Lots of  people have asked us,  if  living in London is   "all that  different"  compared to  here.  And  the answer is obviously,  yes.  It is  very different.  Yet  at the same time it is not so different.   It is the paradox of  how do you define  "home".     Where you  grew up will always be  home, in the sense it is  where you  come from.   Yet  home is far more a matter of where  your life is.   This  will always be where  I am  "from", but  it is  no longer  where  my life is.   

There  have been   some  wonderful moments  this trip.   One of the  most amazing  has been  introducing  Eric  to  one of my oldest  friends.

Some long time readers of this blog may recall one of my first entries was about my dilemma over  reconnecting with  my friend  after  being  out of touch for many years.    As has been so often the case in my life,  I am very lucky to have  friends  who are far  braver and much wiser than I am.

No politics in this posting, sorry. But have no fear, I will have much to say about the nuttiness of the Iowa GOP Caucus next week. The near collapse of the Euro, the Mayans predicting 2012 as the end of the world, and of course random thoughts on Doctor Who....

Happy New Year Everyone. Thanks for reading along!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finally!! ... And it looks BRILLIANT!

Who's ready to go back to Middle Earth?  :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Death of Kim Jong Il

There has been  various  reactions to the  news  that  North Korean  dictator Kim Jong-il  has  shuffled off his mortal coil.   The North Korean Central News Agency  announced the news with one of  their customary over the top performances.

The issues that  arise from  the transition of power in North Korea  are clearly very serious, given  the spectre of political instability in an insular, paranoid  nation that  possesses an atomic  weapon.   The issue of instability in the North is always  a troubling one for  South Korea.   The idea  that  the Korean  Peninsula will someday reunify, is one South Koreans  hope for,  yet in practice  the idea of the  border between North and South coming down,  is a problematic one for South Korea.

 North Korea is for all intents and purposes  a sealed bubble.  The image of the Korean Peninsula taken from the International Space Station  tells the story.  You see the  vast web of lights  that  outline  South Korea, and  the pitch dark outline of the North with one pinprick of light being  the  Capital  Pyongyang.  North Korea exists with  the vast majority of  its  population knowing only what  they have been told  by the Government.

Now imagine for a moment,  waking up one day and finding out  that  everything you have ever been told, taught or  believed about the world was in fact,  completely wrong.    Now times that  by  twelve million people, and you see  the dilemma reunification  poses for the South.   Unlike with Germany,  Korean reunification would create a refugee crisis on a biblical scale,  almost over night.

I remember my first visit to the border area between the two Koreas  (the "DMZ") .  It was in 1997.  It was , as you might imagine, a unique experience.  It remains essentially  the last remaining  front of the Cold War. It will be fascinating  to watch  the transition  of Power there.   Kim's appointed successor is his third son Kim Jon Eun, who is in his twenties, but  was recently made a four star General in the North Korean military.

It is in everyone's interest that  the  two Koreas  reconcile  peacefully.   The late Kim Jong il  was nothing if not unique.  His  flamboyant personal style and odd personality traits made him an easy target for comedy.  The  greatest example of course, being "South Park"  creators  Trey Parker and Matt Stone,  who used  Kim as  central villian  for their  movie  "Team America - World Police".  Giving the  "dear leader" his own moment in cinematic  history, and a song to go with it.

So we bid farewell to the  "dear leader"  with a look back at his moment of movie musical glory.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Christmas Mystery....

We have a little bit of Christmas mystery on our hands. 

Today we received a package addressed to both Eric and I that contained this wonderful ceramic Doctor Who collectors TARDIS Cookie Jar.

There was no card, and no name on the package, just a return address near Manchester. 

We are thrilled with the amazing gift, we just would really like to know who it is from so we can say thanks!!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Right Wing Theo-fascist Nut Jobs are REALLY REALLY Mad...

It has not been a good week  if you are a  bigoted  Gay-hating  evangalooney-toon member of the American Taliban.   First,  U.S.  Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton gave a remarkable speech at a United Nations conference commemorating  the  anniversary of the  UN Universal  Declaration of Human Rights.

That same day, the Obama Administration took steps similar to those already taken by the British Government in making how nations treat their LGBT citizens, a factor in considering future foreign aid.   (via the huffington post.)

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is announcing a wide-ranging effort to use U.S. foreign aid to promote rights for gays and lesbians abroad, including combating attempts by foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality.   In a memorandum issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed U.S. agencies working abroad, including the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to use foreign aid to assist gays and lesbians who are facing human rights violations.

The President also  ordered U.S. agencies to protect vulnerable gay and lesbian refugees and asylum seekers. "The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Obama said in a statement.

Add to that, the fact the most rabidly gay sex obsessed homophobe running for the GOP nomination just can't seem to get any love from GOP voters. Rick Santorum, may as well be Ron Paul for all the attention he is getting these days.

So channelling that frustration, Santorum beats his "gays are destroying our nation" drum louder, harder and faster in hopes that the Tea-baggers of Iowa will finally notice him. (hat tip to  Rick Santorum told a crowd in Spencer, Iowa this afternoon that equal rights for gays and lesbians would “destabilize the family” and “accomodate a different values structure.“It’s about what America’s basic moral values should be that would be reflected in the law,”

If that wasn't enough, just last week  Marine Gen. James F. Amos, the man who was for a time, the face of opposition in the military to lifting the ban on gays serving openly, acknowledged his concerns were unfounded. In fact, he says, Marines have embraced the change.  He said that at the annual ball in Washington this month celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, a female Marine approached Amos' wife, Bonnie, and introduced herself and her lesbian partner.    "Bonnie just looked at them and said, `Happy birthday ball. This is great. Nice to meet you,'" Amos said. "That is happening throughout the Marine Corps."  In an Associated Press interview, Amos called the repeal in September "a non-event."

Having all this in the space of less than a week was just too much for the American Taliban, and their collective heads pretty much exploded.   Matt Barber, the oh-so butch,  spokes-bigot for the Right Wing hate group the "Liberty Council"  attacked Clinton and President Obama for having an “obsession with the radical homosexual activist agenda.” 

Over at the Family Research Council, (another group certified by  the Southern Poverty Law Center as a Hate Group, just like the Klu Klux Klan)  they didn't even wait for  Hillary Clinton to finish her speech before they started sputtering with incoherent  rage.  FRC "Senior Fellow" Peter Sprigg (aka "Porno Pete" due to the extensive  'research' he likes to do in sex clubs and at fetish events, about the dangers of  Gay Porn,) spewed:  "It is startling that President Obama is prepared to throw the full weight and reputation of the United States behind the promotion overseas of the radical ideology of the sexual revolution."

Sprigg's boss and  everybody's  favourite white supremacist and faux Christian , Tony Perkins couldn't contain  himself, and had to had his oddly effeminate  voice to the  chorus of rage on the wing nut right, saying that Obama is hostile and disdainful toward Christianity, and that Christians who voted for Obama should repent, saying; “Any Christian that voted for Obama in 2008 should be repenting [and voting differently] in the next election," Perkins told the Christian Post. "This administration has been the most hostile toward religious freedom.”    Apparently, according to Perkins, if you say torturing and killing gay people is a bad thing, you are infringing on his religious freedom.

 Not one to be left out of a good hate fest, Texas Governor and political rodeo clown, Rick Perry chimed in saying, "Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn't get any more out of touch with America's values. ... This administration's war on traditional American values must stop."

 SO just to be clear, Rick Perry feels  upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a  war on American Values.  You know, it worked out so well  the last time The Republicans nominated a  Texas Governor with a 4th grade vocabulary and a penchant for confusing the voices in his head, with God, I can see why the  GOP might be considering giving it another go.

Wow!  I  am so glad  Rick Perry cleared THAT up for all of us!  It's not unemployment, climate change, a broken financial sector that bilked the country out of  trillions. No!  The real problem facing America is  that Gay Soldiers hate Christmas!!   Why didn't  I see it before!

And of course...  last  but  certainly never least.   We have  everybody's  favorite  hate mongering dementia patient  soiling his  adult diaper  over  all things  Gay.  Predicting that  his personal  angry God will SMITE  Barack Obama and  the rest of us  godless liberals  for  daring to , actually  follow the  example of Christ,  and do that whole  work for justice  stuff.  According to Pat,  God really  hates that!

What the past couple days have made clear is what the American right wing nutters  plan to do in 2012.  The GOP  can't run on their economic plan, because that is what  drove the economy off the cliff in the first place.   They can't run as the Party that "fights the war on terror"  since they completely failed  in more than seven years, to get Osama Bin Laden, but  the Obama Administration got him in three. They cant run against Obamacare, because there is no such thing,  and  they cant run against Nancy Pelosi because she isn't Speaker of the House any more.  So  what's  left to motivate their small minded, fearful, angry base to get out and vote?

Oh yeah...   The Gays!!

All kidding aside,  these people are insane.  But  the  great  irony here is  still the  baffling  twister-esque  contortions on  the issue of  Marriage Equality  by President Obama.  He has his Secretary of State stand up before the world  and say loudly and clearly  that "Gay rights are Human Rights".  He issues executive orders saying  loudly and clearly that nations that  persecute their LGBT citizens  will lose out on  American aid.

He says DOMA is unconstitutional , won't defend it in court,  even  refrains for enforcing it in a select few cases. YET when asked to support the right of all Americans to marry he  cowers behind  nonsensical babble of supporting equal rights, but marriage is only between a man and woman.  Then says  his position is still "evolving".    Does the President actually think that by refusing to support marriage equality, there are people who will vote for him who otherwise wouldn't?  

When the best  the  other side can come up with is  Newt Gingrich  or Mitt Romney,  it's not like the guy has that much to lose by standing  up for a core Democratic  constituency.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

No Place Like Home for the Holidays?

The old song goes; “There’s no place like home for the holidays...” For many Americans living overseas, that means getting on planes and trekking across the globe to spend the holidays back in the good ‘old U.S. of A. Nothing could be finer, right?

Well in theory, yes. This year, Eric and I will travel to Madison, Wisconsin to spend Christmas, New Years, and my Parents 50th wedding anniversary with my family. THAT part of the trip, actually “being home” for the holidays is fine. We both are really looking forward to time with family and friends back in the United States. That’s not the problem.
It’s the “going “ there that is the issue.  Not the travel itself.  British Airways will get us from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare non-stop with their usual decent service, moderately edible food, and passable in-flight movie options. 
Then after a 2 hour layover, American Eagle airlines will  take us the final 40 minute or so hop from Chicago to Madison with little effort. No, the problem is what happens during the lay over between these two flights.
As a married couple, one would think the process of entering the United States would be simple. Right? After all, for the vast majority of bi-national married couples, (couples where one spouse is an American citizen and the other is not...) entering the United States is a pretty straight forward exercise. As long as you have all the right spousal visas etc. The non-citizen spouse should have little or no delay joining you on the other side of the little booths over at baggage claim.    Guess again.

For bi-national married couples who happen to be of the same gender, Immigration and Passport control at any major American airport, is for lack of a better metaphor, something of a crap shoot, all depending on the mood of the homeland security passport control agent you encounter.
For both Eric and I this is the most stressful part of the entire trip. To such a extent, that were it not also my parent’s golden wedding anniversary, we probably would have opted not to come at all.
Because of the ridiculously mis-named “Defence of Marriage Act” (or DOMA) , the Federal Government is barred from recognizing Eric as my Spouse, despite the fact that we are legally married in the United Kingdom. So the Department of Homeland Security must  treat Eric not as part of my family, but instead as just some non-American guy who is travelling with me. 
 So after an 8 hour transatlantic flight, we will stagger into the international arrivals hall and then (thanks to DOMA) have to split up into different lines to get through passport control. Eric who has a valid multiple entry tourist visa, will go the non-US Citizen line, while I go through the line for Americans and US Permanent Residents .

Eric will get to the little booth and hand his landing card and passport to the Agent. Now, let me explain why both of us tend to get very stressed  at this point.    Eric is  a Malaysian Citizen permanently living in the UK. He isn’t British, but is travelling from Britain,  his passport is Malaysian (an Islamic country) but he isn't Malay or Muslim.  He is Chinese, and  Buddhist. His landing card says he is visiting the United States to see his in-laws in Wisconsin.  But he isn’t in the US Citizen / Permanent Resident line with his “spouse”.   All of this, often  will  mystify and confuse the  US border agent.

Eric will then be subjected to a barrage of  more than slightly  aggressive  questions.  Such as  "So who is it  you are  travelling with, what is your relationship with this person,  and where are they now?"  All in spite of having a VALID multiple entry  tourist visa.  He will patiently answer  all the questions  (usually  three or more times).  At this point, the  TSA Border agent's brain completely fails to  grasp the concept of two men travelling together as married couple.  As a result , Eric is  “pulled aside” for additional screening that has at times, lasted more than four hours, where he is asked  the exact  same questions all over again.  

All because the U.S. Federal Government (which happily taxes me to support the Dept. of Homeland Security,) can’t treat us the way the British Government, treats us, as a married couple. Thanks to DOMA

In the past it has gotten so ridiculous that once I stood outside the international arrivals gate at the San Francisco Airport, loudly threatening to call all my members of congress and every single media outlet in Northern California if they didn’t let Eric through NOW!  (Thankfully at that point, they did...)  Mind you that was in San Francisco, a city where the concept of a same-sex couple travelling together was hardly unusual. This trip it will be Chicago O’Hare that will once more, put our faith in the Department of Homeland Security to the test.

How would you feel if; 1) In order to even be with, let alone marry the person you love, you had to move overseas. Then; 2) every time you wanted to visit your family,  it was entirely possible that  based on nothing more than a border agent’s mood, (not for any logical reason, evidence or probable cause), your husband or wife could be detained for hours, or even barred from entering the country.

All for no other reason, than the basic legal protections other married couples enjoy, we are denied, because the Republican Party needs to keep Gay and Lesbian Americans as the one group they can still legally hate, and discriminate against.

Welcome to our world, Happy Holidays. To our friends and family back in the States, we are looking forward to (hopefully) seeing you soon.

Dave & Eric

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Why Barack Obama will be Re-elected. Continued....

Writing this week in The Washington Post,  conservative heavyweight George Will, examines  the  now two-horse race for the GOP  Presidential  nomination  between former  Massachusetts  Governor, Willard, "Mitt" Romney, and former  House Speaker, and Georgia Congressman  Newt Gingrich.

In the piece,  Will characterizes  the reversal in  political fortunes of the two as a move from  "bad to worse".   In fairness,   George Will  is not what you could call  an unbiased  observer.  His own wife is an advisor to  rival  GOP Presidential candidate,  Texas Governor Rick Perry.  

When  the topic of  Newt Gingrich comes up  with  his fellow talking heads, on ABC's,  "This Week",  George Will  tends to  make it clear, he doesn't  take  Gingrich even remotely seriously.

As far as Mitt Romney goes, in his piece in the Washington Post, Will compares an Obama-Romney match up to Harry Truman going up against Thomas Dewey. Hardly a metaphor for Republican success. So who does George Will think the GOP should pick to go up against President Obama next November? Former U.S. Ambassador to China, and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.

Huntsman's positions of being in favor of civil unions for same sex couples, believing in climate change and evolution, mean he is the one candidate in the current GOP field who is not either, woefully opportunistic in their policy track record, or completely insane.

Thankfully for  Democrats  it also means  he is  the one man who  the Republican Party will never, ever, not in a million years,  pick as their nominee.  For the simple reason, the  nutjob  theocrats who now control the GOP would never allow it.

Why not?  Simple.  It's the same reason they are now  willing to  overlook Newt Gingrich's three marriages and track record of serial  adultery.   Huntsman, like Romney is a Mormon and that just gives  the Evangelical nutjobs  of the GOP the willies.

The fact that the opinion of George Will,  one of the  American Conservative Movement's most  prominent minds is being completely  ignored,  is a fascinating  glimpse into  the  Republican Party of  2011.  Their lockstep allegiance to  an American Taliban-esqe conservative social agenda at all costs,  will all but hand  a second term to  Barack Obama on silver platter.

It will be interesting to see  what  will happen  when the  Republican Party, which went completely insane when they lost to Barack Obama the first time,  faces the reality that  his  re-election  was far more their own doing,  than a result of anything the Democrats did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Amazing Ad from GetUp Austrailia

This is the latest ad for  Marriage  Equality from  GetUp Australia.  Like so many Americans  I  have  scratch my head in wonderment  at  how simple and yet  powerfully effective this Ad is.   All the  while lamenting  the fact that   back in the  US,  the HRC and their  assorted  ilk have yet  to  come out with anything even  half as good as this...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Now that Thanksgiving is Over...

The  Christmas-mania  can   begin...  So what better way to  kick things off, than with the best version of this song,  EVER...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

GOP 2012 - Why There is Nothing Left to Say....

Blogging tends to be something of a self-indulgent pastime. You pour your thoughts, ideas, opinions, pet peeves, hopes and dreams out onto a keyboard and post them on the internet with the hope that they are read and understood.  Yet with some topics there comes a point where  there is nothing more you can say.

With the 2012  Republican  Presidential  primary process,  we have reached such a point.

For the most part I have not posted much about the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates. Mostly because I kept expecting the somewhat crowded,  and nonsensical herd of lunatics to eventually thin out, leaving two or at the most three,  semi-rational contenders for the GOP nomination.

Yet  less than three months  out from the  Iowa Caucus  and  New Hampshire Primary,  the most  amazing  thing so far  about  the  2012 GOP race  has been the  complete  lack of  sanity,  rationality  or  even  reality.    There have now been  11 GOP "Presidential Debates"  each one  less rational than the one before it.  Culminating  with last night's   "Family Values Debate"  in  Iowa.  Hosted by the American Family  Association.  A group that  the Southern Poverty Law Center  has  officially classified as a Hate Group.

I have posted  in the past  about  AFA and  what bunch of hate-filled nutters they are.   It boils down to  this;   They are  the American Taliban.  They  want to  take their extremist  religious beliefs and  codify them into Civil Law.  All the while shrieking hysterically  about the (non-existent)  threat of  Islamic Sharia law taking over  America.   I won't  waste time or  blog space re-hashing the  limitless examples of  how  insane these people are.   If you are really that curious  you can see for yourself, by clicking here.

The "debate" was not  carried  on any of the American television  networks.  This event  was so, ugly, so far removed  from reality that  even  FOX News didn't  broadcast it.   So when your  "Presidential  Candidates Debate" is too nutty for even  FOX,  congratulations; - the Shark has officially been jumped.  So much so, that the two Republican hopefuls who most need to win the approval of "social conservatives",   didn't even bother to show up.  Former front runner  Mitt Romney,  and  current  "is he still running?" candidate John Huntsman,  both Mormons,  knew  that their own  religious  beliefs  would be as big a target  as  abortion and  Gay Rights.  

 Knowing that  there was no way they would  get out of there with their political lives,  they wisely opted out.  Which then  prompted this twitter hissy-fit  response from  the AFA's  spokes-bigot.   (hat tip to  joemygod)

So last night, six of the eight GOP hopefuls strove to show the AFA and its assorted minions just how uber-socially conservative each of the them was. Struggling at times to show just how much more they hated Gays and Women's rights to control their own bodies, and loved  Jesus, than their opponents. 

The best moment, came when a question was asked, about a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. (DOMA),  the Federal Law that bans recognition for Same Sex Marriage. Former Godfather's Pizza CEO and alleged serial sexual harasser Herman Cain just couldn't resist showing his complete ignorance of the U.S. Constitution.

Did you get that?  According to  Herman Cain, and Newt  (thrice married serial adulterer) Gingrich,  the President of the United States  can  just  "overturn"  Supreme Court rulings he  doesn't like.  Well, that's  nifty.

The result of all this may well be the death of political blogging until after the 2012 GOP National Convention. Why? Simple, there is nothing left to say. There are only so many ways to express gob-smacked incredulity. Eventually the English language exhausts itself trying to express shock and dismay at people so completely detached from reality, devoid of sanity, and ignorant of basic American principles.

People who truly believe that those who ran our economy into the ground for the benefit of a select view,  are to be admired, and people who created prosperity  and opportunity for  all  are "socialists out to destroy America".

The level of delusion on the American Right Wing, is beyond belief. It is no longer Political,   it is pathological.

To anyone  who  would even be considering  voting for any of these people.  I have only one question.    Why do you hate  America?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Yeah ok... I admit it...

This  video made me a little homesick...  

The City from WTK Photography on Vimeo.

Real homophobes don't Google

Brilliant column by  San Francisco writer Mark Morford.   


By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CBS, Google, Levi's, Starbucks, New Balance, and Xerox are among the 70 companies and cities that have signed an amicus brief stating that DOMA, the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, hurts business.

Woe to you, oh modern card-carrying homophobe. For it can't be easy to be you right now, what with all the terrifying changes taking place, all the dramatic sexual upheavals and flagrant displays of "unnatural" love being hurled like exotic sushi in your plain hamburger face these days. Oh, you poor dear.

I see you there, glumly sipping your Starbucks gingerbread latte while Googling Swedish fetish porn in between checking the latest news on in your lightly stained Dockers and beat-up Nikes, Cartoon Network blaring in the background, tattered copy of Shooters Monthly on the bedside.

I see you there, mumbling angrily at how New York has had legal gay marriage for four whole months and so far, no hellfire, chaos, no petrified Christian children melting into goo in the streets. I see you horrified at how seven other states and 10 countries are thriving happily with gay marriage, God apparently not really giving the slightest damn about how anyone expresses their consensual, reverential, wholehearted love, so long as they just do.

To be fair, I suppose it's too soon to tell if the end of DADT means our valiant U.S. military, during our next war, will end up offering the enemy a giant cupcake disco meth party, instead of kicking ass and keeping those pinko commie terrorists from poisoning the beer supply and stealing your HBO.

Did I say HBO? What a shame you have to give that up, no? Same goes for all those other brands, shows, shoes and companies I mentioned above, given how they all openly disrespect you and everything you stand for. Or haven't you heard?

Behold, dear homophobe, the upwards of 70 major U.S. companies who have just signed an amicus brief -- basically a formal f-you complaint to the federal government and its odious Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- saying the damn thing is bad for business, forces discrimination and inequality in company practices, was written by/for angry encephalitic right-wing thugs who don't know their God from a hole in the seminary wall. I might be making up that last part. But only barely.

Which companies are protesting DOMA, you ask? Starbucks. Google. Microsoft. Levi's. Nike. Time Warner Cable. Aetna. New Balance. Xerox. The list is impressive indeed, especially given how it's more or less an addendum to a much longer list, one that includes all the other enormous U.S. companies who already openly support gay rights, like Apple and Disney and Pixar, like Hershey and Coca-Cola and Dell, American Express and Mattel and even big media daddies like Time Warner, Inc. and Viacom. Et al.

Are you not furious, righteous Republican homophobe? I bet you are. I bet you're dialing your angriest, most confused buds right this moment to write letters, post barely punctuated rants to the hate forums on Free Republic, call in to Rush to demand a Tea Party-wide boycott of every single one of these sicko companies.

I mean, you can't really call yourself a true American, a real Christian and still openly wear Nikes or Levi's, use Microsoft or Google, or watch Warner Brothers movies, can you? If you really walk your anti-gay talk, well, every one of these companies should be banned from your life, right?

It shouldn't be too bad. Easy enough to kick that Starbucks addiction to the curb. Damn them to hell with their Norah Jones and their mediocre espresso, anyway. Same goes for those hippie perverts over at HBO. Can grudgingly live without Air Jordans or New Balance tennies, too.

But oh, cutting out Google might be a little trickier, as that means the end of Gmail, Gmaps, Google Earth, Google Plus, YouTube (!), you name it (I'd suggest switching to Yahoo, but alas, they love those icky gays too. Maybe Bing? Oh wait, Microsoft. Uh-oh. Is Lycos still around?)

But hey, you can make do, right? Screw those depraved, godless companies. Who needs 'em? At least you have Fox News. And Exxon. And, um, Pilgrim's Pride. They make deep-fried frozen chicken blobs. So you're good for basic protein. Suck down a giant platter of breaded, hormone-injected patriotism while sipping a silver bullet and watching some NASCAR, and all is right with the world, am I right?

Oh dear. Bad news, lovebug. It seems Time Warner owns the broadcast rights to every single NASCAR race nationwide. Time Warner! Dude! They love gays! As if that weren't bad enough, they also own WTF?

Would you like to read that again? A clearly pro-gay megacorp basically owns the straightest, manliest, most pseudo-macho sport in the entire known world next to beating things with clubs and skinning buffalo with your teeth. Whatever will you do with your boycott now?

Before you answer, might want to check out what else you're going to do without. Time Warner, for one, is everywhere.

New Line Cinema movies, Loony Tunes cartoons, TT Games? Gone. Sports Illustrated, People magazine, Practical Parenting, Motorboat Monthly, Shooting Times? You know it, honeyball. What about DC Comics (Superman, Batman), CNN, Harry Potter? Sorry. Totally gay, each and every one. (Yes, I know. Harry Potter was a no-brainer. But still).

Did I forget to mention CBS? That's right. No more "CSI." No more "Survivor." Damn homos are everywhere.

It's OK, take a moment. I can hear your head imploding in abject confusion. How could this be? How could these powerhouse companies be sucked into the vile gay agenda that's destroying the land, brainwashing our kids and making it OK to order arugula salads and enjoy trance music and the BMW 3-Series?

Don't worry, homophobic American. No one really expects you to boycott all these companies, or even any of them. No one expects you to actually walk your hateful talk. It's not really possible anyway.

Besides, the backwards lug in you and the jaded cynic in me could easily argue that most of these companies couldn't care less about gay rights, per se. They only really care about the money DOMA costs them. They care about health care expenses, administrative overhead, profit and loss. They only care about, you know, capitalism. And everyone knows, capitalism doesn't discriminate. It's an equal opportunity exploiter.

But unfortunately for you, I'm not sure that really matters anymore. Be it for economic, moral, political or cultural reasons -- or more likely, some wondrous combination thereof -- gay rights and gay marriage are gaining on you. Fast. I know it, you know it, even capitalism itself knows it. Your imminent obsolescence is assured.

Not sure what that means? It's OK. You can Google it.
© 2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

Mark's column appears every Wednesday on

Sunday, November 06, 2011

For all our fellow DOMA exiles...

huge hat tip to our brilliant friend Peter for this one!

Married In London

Janis Ian
We're married in London
but not in New York
Spain says we're Kosher
The States say we're pork
We wed in Toronto
The judge said "Amen"
and when we got home
we were single again
It's hard being married
and living in sin
Sometimes I forget
just which state I am in
Thank God I'm not Catholic
I'd be a mess
trying to figure out
what to confess
My passport in Sweden
says I've got a wife
Amsterdam tells me
I'm partnered for life
but back in America,
Land of the free,
I'm a threat to
the national security
If I were a frog
here is what I would say --
It's hard being green
It's hard being gay
but love has no color
and hearts have no sex,
so love where you can,
and bugger the rest
© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cardinal Spirit - circa 2011... Wow.

I came across this  Video  on Facebook today.  It is  a mass  "lip dub"  done by the students  Sun Prairie Senior High School in  Sun Prairie Wisconsin.   The  American High School that  I  graduated from in  198... something  or other...  Watching this  video   I was struck  by some  amazing  differences and changes that have taken place  there  over the past  quarter century.  

The first and most noticeable  the new  School building,  which  makes the old hallowed halls look like something  out of  bad  80's  after school special.   But even more  striking is  the  the diversity of the  Student  population.   When I  attended  SPHS there were  three students of color , that's it.   SPHS  today  makes  a Benetton ad look monochrome.

Then  there is  the  just the fact that  so many  students  came together   to make this.   I will  confess,  I don't think I could ever  imagine  my own  classmates  coming  together to do anything  even remotely similar.   Well,  maybe,  but  highly  doubtful..   It seems that  times  do change, and  change for better.

Wow...  Well done  SPHS!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Right To Love... An American Family

Trailer to a  fantastic  documentary  about  one American family's  journey  towards  equality.   I  have such deep admiration for  Jay and Bryan  and the magnificent  family  they have  in Northern California.

If you have not  done so already  you  really should  check out their amazing blog  and their  YouTube  channel.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Remembering Matthew Shepard.

Wednesday October 7th, 1998 was a fairly ordinary day in Chicago. I was working for a small consulting firm in the near West suburb of Oak Park, and had spent the day in a series of fairly productive meetings. So I felt pretty good when I got home from work. I was puttering around my apartment making dinner when I picked up the remote control for the TV and turned on CNN. The lead story was a brutal attack of a young man in Laramie Wyoming named Matthew Shepard. Shepard, age 21, had been beaten into a coma and left tied to fence along a rural highway outside the city. The news report noted that the victim was a young gay man and was not expected to survive.

I remember walking down into “boystown” (the north Halstead area of Chicago, and the center of the city’s Gay community). There were lots of people standing around outside the bars, and restaurants along Halsted Street, talking about what had happened in Wyoming. A makeshift memorial had been set up on the corner of Halsted and Roscoe.

I walked into the 7-11 there on the corner and bought a small votive candle, lit it and placed it with the growing number of candles, handwritten notes and flowers that were being placed around a picture of Matthew that someone had printed off the internet. I stayed for a little while talking to people who were gathered there. Some people were angry, others sad, but we all knew that something in our own community had changed as a result of what had happened,  hundreds of miles away in field outside Laramie.

In 1998 I had just moved to Chicago after being overseas in South Korea. I was in the middle of my own “coming out” process,  and was gathering up my courage to have “the talk” with my parents when I went home for Thanksgiving in a few weeks time. I will admit the news of Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder shook me up. Suddenly the decisions I was making to live openly and honestly as who I was, had potentially fatal consequences.

On an intellectual level you always knew that there were “gay bashers” out there. People who were so conflicted about their own sexuality that they felt the way to “cure” themselves was to attack others for what they feared most about themselves. Yet now those hypothetical risks, were not so hypothetical.  What's more, those cosequences now  had a face, and a name.

As I walked home, my thoughts turned to Matthew Shepard’s parents. What must they be thinking and feeling? Had they known Matt was gay? Did it really matter? Years later I would have the great honor of meeting Judy Shepard,  and hear her tell her own powerful story .

Thirteen years later, I marvel at how my own life has changed. I am married to an amazing man, we have incredible friends and loving families who remind us every day,  that the world is not as bleak and dark a place as it seemed,  on that October night in 1998.

Yet I am still saddened and angry that there are many people in America who honestly feel that Matthew Shepard got what “he had coming to him”. That demonizing , discriminating against, and even murdering Gays and Lesbians is somehow “doing God’s work”.

People with a vested interest in keeping LGBT people as the one group it is still safe to hate. People who seek to profit, personally, politically and even economically from fomenting deadly hatred and fear of others. Bigots whose actions and beliefs are the farthest thing from being Christian, yet claim to have a monopoly on what they claim God thinks and who they claim "God hates".

I really don’t have a point to make here, other than to say it’s important to remember Matthew and so many others like him who have died as a result of hatred and bigotry. If you want to get involved, here are a few great places to start...

The Matthew Shepard Foundation:

The Trevor Project:

The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation:

The We Give a Damn Campaign:



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Seriously Cool Footage from the ISS

The "Southern Lights" as seen from the International Space Station

Friday, September 23, 2011

When Bigoted Hypocrisy Replaces Sanity and Patriotism ... Welcome to the GOP

Last night was  one more  of  the  seemingly endless  Republican  "Presidential Candidate Debates".  A sad pathetic effort  to  make people think  that  the  2012 election campaign is somehow  in full swing in September of  2011.

I didn't watch the latest American Taliban bitch-fest.   For one,  I would have had to stay up until 4 am here in London to  catch it live.   For another it was on FOX News,  and  if  given the choice of  undergoing a combination  root canal - colostomy  or  watching Fox News?  Pass the Novocaine.

So  I missed  what  was the  defining  moment for the modern Republican Party.   It was the moment where all the  slogans, all the speeches,  all the  remaining trappings  of  any resemblance to a legitimate political party  seeking to offer  an alternative  electoral  choice to the American People,  finally  fell away.  Revealing for  the entire world  what is left;   Rancid,  ugly  hate filled  hypocrisy.

The  modern day Republican Party, which has made it's living off of claiming  to  "support the troops"  more than anyone else, showed the world  just what  a warped twisted lie all that patriotic posturing really is.

From The Hill
Some members of the GOP debate audience booed a gay soldier who asked via video whether the Republican candidates would reinstitute the recently repealed "Don't ask, don't tell" policy of banning openly gay soldiers.

After Stephen Hill, who is serving in the Army in Iraq, asked his question, a handful of members of the audience booed loudly. None of the Republican candidates responded to the audience's reaction. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) answered that "Any type of sexual activity has no place in the military" and that he would return to the policy of requiring gays and lesbians to stay silent on their sexuality or get thrown out of the military. His response garnered loud applause.

Here it is...

I have said it before. The Republican Party of 2011 has nothing that they can ask the American People to vote FOR. Their policies are designed to direct all resources and opportunity to only the top one tenth of one percent of Americans.   Anyone who doesn't fall into that category of the uber-wealthy is in the mind of the GOP,  insignificant and disposable. 
Dying as result of poverty is to the GOP, a natural cause. Anything government does to help anyone outside that one tenth of one percent, is "Socialism!!", and President Obama is some Indonesian-Kenyan-Marxist-Leninist-Islamic Manchurian Candidate, planted in Hawaii decades ago as part of some long term plot to destroy America. 
All that doesn't really play well on a bumper sticker. So the GOP knows their only hope is to give America something to vote AGAINST. To do that you need voters to be two things, angry and afraid.   So the plan for 2012 is simple,  get Americans angry at the scary Black man in the White House,  and get them afraid of....?

Well, let's see. The GOP can't campaign against Women, Blacks and Jews anymore, (at least not openly, Pat Buchanan apparently didn't get that memo.) Telling Americans they need to hate Hispanics has turned out to be a losing electoral strategy thanks to America's shifting demographics, and the "Islamo-facist" boogie man lost it's punch when it became clear most of the post 9-11 terror alerts were based far more on George W. Bush's poll numbers, than any actual intelligence.   So who's left?

Oh yeah... The Gays. When the GOP is too crazy for life long Republicans like Senator Alan Simpson, you know the Republican Party has jumped the shark.

In 2011, the Republican faithful will jeer and boo at an American soldier, serving his country and risking his life in a war zone because it fits the narrative of who their party has told them they should fear and hate.

This is not about "Don't Ask Don't Tell", or even about what the assorted Republican candidates think about LGBT rights. It is about living up to words they spout so freely, professing their admiration and support for those brave men and women who risk their lives serving our nation in the military. 

We now know what all those bold "we support the troops more than you...", words were... A lie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another Teen in America is bullied to death...

Jamey Rodemeyer needed help. At 14, he was grappling with adolescent demons that could torment grown men. And when he was online, he wrote about it.

"I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens," he wrote Sept. 9. "What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"

Just over one week later, Jamey was found dead outside his home of an apparent suicide.In the months prior, he routinely blogged about school bullying and thoughts of suicide in between upbeat posts about his pop star idol Lady Gaga and the ordinary types of teen rants typical for kids his age.   On Sept. 8, he wrote: "No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you're the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down."

He put up a separate post that day letting everyone know it was National Suicide Prevention Week.  On Saturday night, he posted a lyric from Lady Gaga's song "The Queen" on his Facebook page: "Don't forget me when I come crying to heaven's door."

Then around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Jamey posted two final messages to his main public Tumblr blog. One said he really wanted to see his great-grandmother, who had recently died, and one offered thanks to Lady Gaga.

That was his last entry.

Jamey did have bad days. Issues of bullying and even suicide talk were not new to many of Jamey's family or friends. They were common topics for him and seemed to ramp up to an extreme level when other students started making taunts with gay references to Jamey about 12 months ago on his Formspring account, which permits anonymous posts.


Another read: "I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!"


Earlier this year Jamie had created and posted a video for Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project"

It's hard to know exactly what to say when something this horrible  this  preventable happens.  What is clear is Jamey's school and teachers  failed him.  Failed him with  fatal  consequences.   I could  write  for pages and pages about how  so many self-proclaimed  "Family Values Conservatives"  have Jamey's  blood on their hands today.

I could  go on and on about how the  dehumanizing  rhetoric  of  hate groups  like "Focus on the Family" and  the  "American Family Association"  directly contributed to this young man's  tragic  death.   I could write for  days on end  about how the quest by  hate mongers and bigots like  Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum to  prevent  anti bullying  programs in our schools  is killing  our  kids....

But no amount of words on a screen or a page will  bring this  remarkable  young man back,  it won't  bring back any of the  lives that have been lost  to hate .  So  I will simply say,  those who hounded this  young man and others like him to their deaths, are the farthest thing  from Christian.  They are  evil itself,  and I have no doubt that they will rot and burn in hell.  With all their  hate which  they are so sure  will  buy their way  into heaven,  they will instead, find  themselves standing  before  God, who will look away and say:  "I do not  know you ..."

The  streets of heaven are too crowded with  Angels  tonight.     I am sorry  Jamey.   America  failed you .  Rest in peace.

Left Behind - from "Spring Awakening"

You fold his hands and smooth his tie, you gently lift his chin.
Were you really so blind, and unkind to him?
Can't help the itch to touch, to kiss, to hold him once again.
Now to close his eyes--never open them....

A shadow passed, a shadow passed, yearning, yearning
For the fool it called a home.

All things he never did are left behind.
All the things his mama wished he'd bear in mind,
And all his dad had hoped he'd know.

The talks you never had, the saturdays you never spent.
All the 'grown-up' places you never went.
And all of the crying you wouldn't understand.
You just let him cry, 'make a man out of him.'

A shadow passed, a shadow passed, yearning, yearning
For a fool it called a home.

All things he ever wished are left behind.
All the things his mama did to make him mind,
And how his dad had hoped he'd grow.

All things he ever lived are left behind.
All the fears that ever flickered through his mind.
All the sadness that he'd come to own.

A shadow passed, a shadow passed, yearning, yearning
For the fool it called a home.

And it whistles through the ghosts still left behind.
It whistles through the ghosts still left behind.
Whistles through the ghosts still left behind.