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3-8-12: Yes, I know it has been a very long time since my last update! The reason? New computer system... Ya see, last year Keith and I finally decided to break down and get iPhones. Our best friends here in Phoenix had them and we were tired of having phones that never really could perform in the way that we wanted, so we ditched the phones we had at the time and switched to the iPhone 4. Not long after that we realized that it would be REALLY CONVENIENT if we had iPads, so we went out and each bought the first generation iPads. Coincidentally, Keith's laptop (PC) was finally on its last legs... Mine still had life in it, but Keith's was just slowly failing. He then decided to go ahead and make the switch to a MacBook Pro. I don't have to tell you how much he loved having that new computer! It wasn't long after that we went ahead and replaced my old laptop as well. Herein lied the impending problem... All of the software that I enjoyed using to maintain my websites was on my old Dell laptop, and I couldn't quite find anything for the Mac that suited my particular tastes. I'm sure that there are software packages out there, but I was really happy with the web tools that I had and wanted very much to stay with them. Luckily, we were able to install a program on my Mac which allows me to run Windows programs! This of course means that I was able to fire up those familiar web tools and could start updating my website again! Of course I ran into a few other problems, namely one of the sites I used to host a few of my graphics decided, without any announcement, to shut down which caused me to lose those same graphics. That of course meant I had to go on quite the hunt to either locate them elsewhere, or in one case, reconstruct it. Not much fun. Luckily, everything appears to be working again and I've been working like a maniac on updating all of the pertinent info on my page as well as revamping my photos page. Now I can't promise that I'll be able to update my page with any regularity due to the fact that I have Facebook and tend to post a lot of info there, but I'll give it a serious effort to be as up to date with this site as well, and whenever I have something to post on Facebook I'll also try to point it back to here. Until later my friends!!!
12-19-10: Yes, it has been a very long time since I've written. As I had said in my last blog entry (July???), a lot has happened to me.Yes, I'm still dealing with issues, most notably health related stuff. I'm pretty much okay, but I have to keep my focus on it almost 24/7 now, and at times it tends to sort of "get me down," especially when I'm forced to consider that I'm just 7 months away from turning 50. I also get a bit more tired easily (What do you want? I'm almost 50!) plus I'm taking a beta-blocker to slow down my heart (which had an abnormally higher heart rate) as well as help lower my blood pressure. The medication also tends to make slightly more tired than normal, but it's not the end of the world. It just means that I find it hard to motivate myself to maintain my website, and I continually hope that I'll be able to find the time to "kick myself" and write more often.
Now, I think we all know what the big news is. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is all but a thing of the past! After suffering a crushing defeat in the Senate recently (when it was attached to a defense finance bill) by way of a filibuster, several Senators crafted a new, standalone version of the bill which was overwhelmingly approved by the House and passed the Senate yesterday! All it needs to do is get President Obama's signature and that will legally be the end of it. True, there are some procedures that need to be looked at in terms of implementation of it, but at least gay men and women can now look forward to the day when they'll be able to serve openly and freely.
There are two things that must be looked at. One, there is going to be a backlash. It's inevitable. It may not come politically from the federal level, but it will come. We will definitely see an uprising from segments of our society who still feel that we need to be oppressed. Heck, there are still a few, stray politicians whose mandate is to outlaw homosexuality. As sickening and disgusting it is to hear someone like that stay such stuff, we must remember that for such a thing to happen it would need to pass a majority vote, and while there are those who would like to see that happen, the simple majority of politicians in office (and that includes Republicans) wouldn't dare, especially when you consider that the majority of Americans are showing a growing acceptance of the GLBT community. The fact that most Americans polled were in favor of the DADT repeal clearly shows their acceptance and support of our community. This is all good, and in the long run we will continue to see advancements towards full and equal civil rights, but there will be setbacks along the way, and I can guarantee that we will see some very soon, most especially after the New Year. As the new batch of Republican/Tea Party politicians take their newly won seats in both the House and the Senate we will also see a rise in the anti-gay rhetoric. We will no doubt see some bad news come out of local and state politics, but we must keep our eyes forward to the larger goal. As much as we will take several steps forward towards full equality, we will see the occasional step backwards. We must never let this discourage us! We, as a community, have done an admirable job of keeping the fight going. If we had given up the fight years ago (something so many conservatives would just love to see) then the passage of the DADT repeal in the Senate yesterday might not have happened.
I'm so grateful for the passage of the bill to repeal DADT. I've known far too many wonderful soldiers who were gay (both men and women) that were discharged as a result of being gay. These wonderful men and women brought talents and skills that clearly benefited the military as a whole, but bad politics demanded that these people, honorable, talented and dedicated as they were, be kicked out because of who they loved. This is clearly wrong especially when you consider that heterosexual soldiers are free to talk about whom they love and the families they have without fear of recrimination or repercussion. I even knew of a gay man who was serving in the Navy, spoke fluent Russian, and was very much an asset when it came to military intelligence. However, through no desire of his own, it became known that he was gay, and as a result was discharged from the Navy which he so very much wanted to be a part of. While he no doubt has no desire to return to the Navy at this time, we can be optimistic now that many gay soldiers who are gifted in linguistics (a huge asset for military intelligence) will be able to serve and help provide for the defense of this nation which they also love dearly.
Lastly, might I say again that it is important we keep our eyes up and forward in the struggle for civil rights. This is a huge victory, but there are other victories to be won, and we must press on. Just as the inclusion of certain minorities into the military helped the cause of their civil rights, we must do the same as well. The proverbial snow ball has started rolling. Let's keep pushing it so that it might grow into a gigantic snow ball and then pave the way for our civil rights!
7-25-10: I know that I don't post much anymore, but this is something that so outraged me that I felt the need to share it.
The responsibility falls to us now. If any signature gatherer asks you to sign something, please read it carefully, and if you're then asked to sign a "back-up copy," please try to read it and make sure you're not being tricked into signing a different petition.
Now for all you wondering what's going on with me, I'm okay. I've had some pretty trying months which included a hospital stay to open a blocked artery. My health is good, but I'm facing different obstacles now, which is why I've been quiet. They are not "end of the world" problems, but they're enough to keep my focus elsewhere. I'm hopeful that once I get over these hurdles that I'll be able to contribute here more often.
Khristos anesti!!! CHRIST HAS RISEN!!!
Jesus has shown us the way to God. May we all embrace the truthfulness of that. BLESSINGS TO ALL OF YOU!!!
3-21-10: It's been a long time since I've written, but this occasion is a reason as any to dust off my writing skills and share my thoughts with what's going on today.
Healthcare reform is finally passing through the House. This is historic. I am so in favor of this for reasons which I'll give later. What I want to first address is how polarized this country has become. I have become absolutely disgusted with the hatred being expressed by members of the Tea Party. Just over the last few days, members of the Tea Party have been accosting Democrats who have publicly stated their support of Healthcare reform. One of those Democrats who was verbally and publicly attacked was Barney Frank. As he was passing through the Longworth House office someone from the Tea Party movement called him a "fa**ot" and also called Representative John Lewis (a hero in the civil rights movement) a "ni**er."
What has happened to our society? Where did we take such a wrong turn where expressions of hatred can be accepted as commonplace in our daily lives? I thought the days of using such racial slurs like "ni**er" were a think of the past among mainstream society, but here we are witnessing it again.
I've observed a strange behavior come out of the right. It's an idea of "the haves versus the have nots." "Basically, if I have something I don't want for YOU to have it. I want to be better than you. I want to be endowed with all of the rights our government can bestow, but I want to keep you oppressed. Why? BECAUSE YOU'RE DIFFERENT FROM ME!!! You're not like me and I won't tolerate anything or anyone that doesn't think or live like I do." This is the world we live in today. Where did this come from? Well you can cast part of the blame with the conservative Christian movement. Here is a group of religious zealots that have started proclaiming that God's finest attribute is his hatred towards those who don't fall in step with EVERY SINGLE LAW SET DOWN BY GOD. I could point out the fallacy in this, but I've exhausted that issue to death many blog entries ago. What is important is their belief that God is a being of hatred and that He should be praised for it. Couple that with the neo-conservative movement (the Republican party and now the Tea Party) that have this ridiculous idea that the nation needs to return to the days of Family Values that existed in the 50's. Are they kidding? This is nothing more than a fiction! They have romanticized that era through movies and television into believing something that never happened!!! Now they want to go back to an era which is totally false and by doing that they wish to oppress the rights of minorities, they wish to oppress the rights of women, and they wish to oppress the rights of people from the GLBT community, all because we (those that are different) don't fit in with their cozy fictitious picture of what life should be. Now you combine those two groups, the neo-conservative movement along with the "not so right" Christian groups and you come up with an unholy alliance that has done more damage than I care to think. For this, we now are living with this legacy left to us where hatred, racial slurs, and even the threat of violence, is accepted because one group of people detest another. To quote Rodney King, "Why can't we all get along?"
Lastly, regarding Healthcare reform, I'm glad it passed. Why? Because in less than a month I have to go into the hospital and have a cardiac catheterization performed because of an arterial blockage near the lower region of my heart. Do I have health insurance right now? Yes and I'm glad that it will cover this rather expensive procedure. However, there were many years where I had no coverage whatsoever. I was employed and made just enough money which prevented me receiving state aid in the area of health coverage, but I didn't make enough money to buy my own! Add to that, my husband was unable to cover me at that time because the company he worked for wouldn't recognize our relationship. For several years I had absolutely no health coverage at all. True, in the event of an emergency people can go to hospitals or clinics for care, but it's for that reason only. Those are for immediate and emergency care. Well what about pre-emptive care? I have a family history of heart disease. If I could have had health coverage provided to me then I would not have to face a cardiac catheterization procedure.
So to you naysayers who feel that health coverage reform isn't necessary, I say "walk in my shoes."
10-11-09: I don't really know how to put this together in a concise manner so if it just all over the place then please forgive me.
First, it's National Coming Out Day. I don't know who started it (shame on me). All I do know is that it exists. This day is to help provide a sense of solidarity for those poor young men and women who are still struggling with their sexual identity and are afraid to admit to anyone that they might be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. For them this day is dedicated.
I am quite open about being gay. I'm continually coming out to new people every day. And now, with social websites such as Facebook and Myspace, I've been coming into contact with people who knew me back when I was closeted, who thought me to be a straight, God loving Christian. As a result of these cyber-reunions, I find myself still coming out this very day. Luckily I've been blessed to be treated with respect by these people I have known from many years ago. Still, on this special day, I will come out once again and proclaim who I am.
My name is Ben Ragunton. I am gay, I am proud of who I am, and I will not hide from the world and from those who do not accept me. I hope that those people who are afraid to come out will know that there are many people who are coming out this very day, whether they are out of the closet or not, they are coming out again in solidarity to stand beside each and every one of who has not come out yet. We are here with you and we will be your family. Let us proudly proclaim who we are on this National Coming Out Day.
The next thought I have is regarding President Obama's speech at the HRC dinner last night. Obama had run on a platform that he would repeal both DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Since that time he has given THE APPEARANCE of backing away from his promise to the GLBT community, instead only giving some small bread crumbs in the form of domestic partnership rights to those who work in his administration. Splendid, but what does this do for me?
There are some who say that he has been nothing but talk and no action, that he's a brilliant orator, but a terrible President. There are others who are saying that he's a very crafty man when it comes to politics, that he picks his battles very carefully as well as the timing of them. Regardless of that there are many in the GLBT community who felt he had a lot to answer for. The result was a speech that many felt was absolutely brilliant and gave hope that perhaps he will deliver on his promises that he made during his campaign. Here is what he said:
I will be watching President Obama's actions very closely, as I'm sure will everyone else in the GLBT community. As someone that I am friendly with at Sirius/XM OutQ said, "Obama's words were brilliant and beautiful and hopeful. I pray that he actually keeps to them, otherwise prepare for full-on queer anarchy!"
I want to close with something that has affected me on a deeply personal nature. As some of you may have heard, the young lead singer of the Irish boy band Boyzone (Stephen Gately) has died tragically at the young age of 33. This is not a man with a troubled past such as Michael Jackson. He was a very happy man who was a talented performer and a gorgeous Irish tenor voice. He was also gay.
It is not lost on me that there is some cosmic irony that Stephen's death would be reported on our National Coming Out Day. What I do think is important is the quality of life Stephen had. He had joined Boyzone in the 1990's, and one year before they broke up to go their separate ways he came out as gay. Since that time he has not only been performing as a solo artist, he has also been on the stage performing in several different shows including "Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." More importantly, he met the man of his dreams and entered into a civil partnership in the UK. Last year he reunited with his Boyzone bandmates. What I have learned is that not only did they NOT cast him aside for being gay, they actually embraced it and him. This is what coming out does. It opens the eyes of those who are around us. It helps them to realize that we as GLBT people are not freaks of nature as many on the radical right would have people believe. We are worthwhile people who are deserving of respect and love. Stephen showed that and he received it. He was respected and loved by those who knew him. Now he is gone. We don't know why or how he died. All we do know is that he was vacationing and had gone out for drinks with some friends. He then returned to his hotel room where he fell asleep and never woke up.
While I don't consider myself to be a true fan of Boyzone, I do respect their accomplishments and I have the highest regard for Stephen Gately himself. A friend who lives in London managed to put it brilliantly in this manner: "Gately was to most gay men what they'd like to be themselves. Happy, loved and successful.
It's a shame that younger gay men may well (I've seen one or two comments abound today closer to me than I would have expected which have left a sour taste in my mouth) dismiss Gately as unmemorable, questioning why news of his untimely death has warranted so much attention. To many younger than the singer, he was just a popstar in a boyband. Shame on them.
Yet there is a shatteringly positive message his gay life has promoted – illustrated in the appearances he makes in this video. It's vital gay men and women remember consider that at this moment in time. His life experience was unusual and one some people are still striving for."
Thank you Jon Jacob for saying something that desperately needed to be said. In closing I'll leave you with a video that was made last year. I had seen it before and found it to be quite beautiful in both imagery and song. However, when I watched it today all I could do was cry.
Rest in peace Stephen Gately.
9-9-09: So how many of you watched President Obama's address to the joint Congress where he addressed Healthcare Reform and how it impacts our economy? I did and found it fascinating, educational and inspiring. I've heard many speeches from Obama, and I would have to say that this was one of the best. Now I'm sure there will be plenty of analyses on the points that were made during his speech so I'll not go down that road. However I will talk about the Republican rebuttal that came from Louisiana Republican Representative, Dr. Charles Boustany.
I found what he had to say absolutely laughable. The Republicans were given a copy of Obama's speech so that they could craft their rebuttal and present it immediately afterwards, however I question if they even read it! From the start Boustany opened his mouth and out came one lie after another. The one that actually had my mouth drop open was when he made the claim that the plan would replace the current insurance plans that many Americans have through their employers and replace it with a government program. Is he kidding??? Obama even addressed that very issue by saying that any American who is currently covered would not see any change in their coverage (except to suggest that through this reform plan the insurance companies would provide better coverage at a lower cost) and that Americans would not be forced to give up their current health plans for one that is government run. And yet, on the heels of Obama's speech, Boustany had the audacity to actually say that Americans would see their current health insurance coverage be replaced by a government program. I couldn't believe that a man in Congress, even one who may be ideologically opposed to the proposed healthcare reform plan, would actually make such a bold faced lie! All I could keep asking is, "How does this man sleep at night???" However it was shortly after this when I learned that he had been sued for malpractice three times, is part of the "birther" movement, and even sought to BUY a Lordship from the United Kingdom. Once I learned this any credibility that this man may have had was completely lost and I simply chalked up his rebuttal to the rantings of a lunatic.
Let me leave you with one last thought. There are those in the extreme Republican right (or "not so right") that honestly believe this healthcare reform plan would set up "death panels" which would decide how senior citizens die. Keep in mind that these same neo-conservatives, along with their evangelical beliefs, hold to the idea that the government should stay out of the lives of those senior citizens who are at the end of their lives, that the passing from this life is a deeply personal matter where government should have no voice whatsoever. Does anyone remember Terry Schaivo, or how the Republican controlled government actually passed legislation to keep a woman who was clinically brain-dead on life support?
Make no mistake about it. When it comes to how the health care of our lives is managed, the people we really need to be afraid of are those same Republicans who preach about the dangers of a government takeover of our healthcare system. Please never forget that!!!
8-3-09: Let me share something with all of you that makes me deliriously happy. MUSIC!!! Everyone who knows me even casually is aware of my deep passion for music. My greatest passion is progressive rock. So, instead of sharing my rants about what is going on in the world, let me share my love for progressive rock. If I start to ramble then please forgive me, for I just love this genre of music.
I was raised listening to classical music as a child. My mother has a rather large catalogue of classical LPs and would constantly play them. It would be no surprise for me to hear a Beethoven piano sonata one moment only to hear an aria from Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte." This was the environment that I grew up in and it would forever shape my musical development.
As I was growing up I was immersed in one form of musical instruction or another ranging from the clarinet (I actually became rather good during that time as I was generally the 1st chair clarinetist with most concert bands I played in), piano (even though I enjoy playing it today I hated taking lessons), the guitar and also voice. It was the combination of learning the guitar and singing that really led me to progressive rock.
During my teenage years I always had my guitar set up for me to just grab and play at a moment's notice. I loved playing it. One night I was in my bedroom reading and had the radio on and the song "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas came on. I was instantly taken by the acoustic guitar part and immediately grabbed my guitar and started to play along. At the risk of putting myself on a pedestal I learned the entire song in roughly 10 minutes. I was intrigued with its structure and the vocal harmonies. Shortly after that I purchased the album "Point Of Know Return" from which Dust was appeared on. I started listening to this album religiously and was immediately captivated by the sheer musicianship of this amazing band. Not only was I dazzled by the instrumental work of each member of the band I loved the harmonies. I found myself starting to sing along with them. However the lead vocal was always too high for me so I started singing the lower harmony. It was here that I started to teach myself about harmonic structure. It was as if a brand new world was opened up to me. Here was a form of music that spoke to the classical part of me. I could see how these musicians were truly skilled in their craft. Even more so were the content of the songs. They weren't just singing the cliché "boy meets girl" rock/pop song that had started to become so prevalent in the 70's. Their songs touched on strong philosophical ideas as well as painted pictures of famous figures from Albert Einstein (Portrait) and Howard Hughes (Closet Chronicles). It was at this time that I found my appetite for progressive rock had become insatiable. Over the years I started to explore a wide range of progressive rock groups which led me to bands such as Rush, ELP, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes and Dream Theater. Even to this day if I hear progressive rock on the radio I have to just stop and give it a serious listen because of the structure of the music. I try to go to the concerts of these great acts and I constantly find myself just dazzled by the musicianship of these amazing artists.
I have tried describe what it is about progressive rock that drives me. It has even shaped the manner in which I play the guitar. For a time I was the lead guitarist for a Praise Team at the church I used to attend. As I started to really find "my voice" as a guitarist I started to arrange my part (and sometimes even whole songs) with a progressive rock influence. They wouldn't have the complexity of Yes' "Heart Of The Sunrise" due to the fact that people wanted to sing along and a certain amount of familiarity was needed, but I would try to give them strong instrumental development.
So again, what is it about progressive rock that pushes me the way it does? Let me share a definition I found somewhere on the Internet. I don't remember where I found it. I just saw it one time and transcribed it into a notepad file and I constantly find myself reading it, relishing in all those elements that make progressive rock great.
"Prog Rock: Intricate as a snowflake's structure, heavier than a neutron star, progressive rock (unlike most other classic rock) was located firmly in the body's upper half. Performed by flaxen-maned keyboard wizards inhabited by Bach's ghost, guitar sorcerers who approached their instruments with neurosurgeon's finesse, percussive brutes who flailed at stage-spanning kits, and angel-voiced singers weaving tales of unicorns, gnomes, or some other profound revelation, prog rock was home to the eight-minute "single." In fact, some "magnum opuses" rolled on for an entire album side, or BEYOND. But counterbalancing the occasional - well, regular - excess was a level of sheer musicianship unrivaled at any other time in rock history, and a charmingly naive eagerness to slip the bonds of earth and gaze into the endless universe beyond."
This is what I love about progressive rock. So why am I bringing this up now? Because I found a website which plays nothing but progressive rock!!!
7-23-09: The other day I was looking through some blogs on Myspace and I came across one that really startled me. It was questioning the necessity of the Matthew Shephard Act which would expand federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual orperceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or, disability. What astonished me was what the author of the blog stated. He honestly couldn't understand the need to have such a bill. He saw no reason to expand any punishments for someone who is convicted murder. After all, a crime is a crime and justice is blind when it comes to prosecuting the guilty. Now I had heard all of that before. What bothered me is that this came from a young gay man. I posted a response to his blog. It was not the best written piece of work as it was early in the morning and I was also getting ready to go to work. Nonetheless here it is just as I wrote it.
I'm somewhat astonished by what I just read.
First off, there are hate crimes that are being committed which do not involve murder or the death of some victim. It can range from really bad vandalism (which I've seen happen to both gay and Jewish owned buildings) to really severe beatings which left the victim alive, but in really bad shape. These are cases where the hate crime laws can really come into play.
If an action is deemed to potentially be a hate crime it gives the law enforcement agencies extra financial resources, as well as man-power, to investigate and bring to justice those who committed the crime. Additionally, it can add penalties to the person if he is found guilty. While that may not seem like much in terms of murder, it does make a huge difference if we're talking about vandalism, arson, or even assault and battery. A person who beats the crap out of another man because they were both drunk and acting stupid might not get as strong a penalty as someone who almost beats to death another guy for simply being gay. If you have any doubts about that, just think about any GLBT friends you might have in your life. How would you feel if one of your friends was beaten badly because of a robbery? Now ask yourself, how would you feel if that same friend was beaten to the point of hospitalization because he was gay? What sort of justice would you personally want then?
Lastly, in the arena of murder, you must remember that there are degrees of murder penalties in the justice system. It can range from 1st degree all the way to down to involuntary manslaughter. Are you aware of the number of GLBT folk who have been murdered, but the defense successfully managed to lower the level of the crime to involuntary manslaughter? Way too many!!! The argument that the accused went temporarily crazy because of the victim's homosexual advances towards him have been far too numerous in our country. However, if it can be proven that hatred was a motivating factor, then it increases the level of penalty in which case the accused might not see an involuntary manslaughter charge, but instead be charged with 1st degree murder which would give him a higher penalty should he be found guilty.
In an ideal world the idea that crime is crime and that justice is blind is a beautiful notion. However, if you look at what goes on judicially you'll see that not only is intent a key factor (not the only factor, but certainly an important one) in determining the level of the crime, but that in many cases justice is indeed NOT blind.
It's a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless.
7-18-09: It’s tragic that I write now. It’s tragic because I’m usually so busy that I have very little time to write anymore. It’s also tragic because there is so much that I want to say, but due to the lack of time it just gets lost in the ether.
I’m writing this time because of something very sad. I have a friend in New York named Jethro (Yes, that is his real name!). He’s a really sweet guy who just experienced something that many of us have had to face, or will face, at one time or another. He had rescued a male cat named Remy. I don’t know if Jethro gave him the name or if he came with it. It doesn’t matter for Jethro loved Remy very much. They had several wonderful years together until yesterday. Remy had been dealing with some health issues and developed cancer. Yesterday, Remy was put to sleep. Jethro had told me for some weeks now about Remy’s health issues and we both knew that this might happen. I don’t have to tell you how heartbroken Jethro is right now. I fully understand his pain for I’ve also lost family pets over the years, and I know the day will come (hopefully not for a long time) when Keith and I will have to say goodbye to our two girls. When Jethro announced on Myspace that Remy was gone I sat in front of my computer and just cried. I never met Remy. I haven’t even met Jethro, but that doesn’t matter. He’s my friend and I understand how sad he is right now. Pets play an important part in our lives, whether we wish to acknowledge it or not.
I also wish to state that I firmly believe that these pets we’ve come to love have an eternal soul. I know there are many who don’t believe that. If so then the loss is yours. I do because I’ve seen intelligent thought in many of them. I’ve seen a dog reason out how to grab a remote control, it likes to use for a toy, that has been placed on the top of a very high bookshelf. I’ve seen the dog somehow obtain the remote control and then walk up to his owner where he would the spit it out in front of him in act of defiance. I’ve seen a gorilla who can use sign language (Koko) express grief when his pet kitten (named Ball) was killed by a car. When the handlers of Koko gave her a new pet kitten the first Koko signed (after some close examination) was “not Ball.” Somehow this gorilla recognized that this kitten was not her beloved Ball, but a new pet. Nonetheless Koko learned to love her new pet. I’ve also seen two dogs playing when one of them was given instruction by the owner to go get the other dog because it was time to come home, and then that dog did! I’ve also seen that same dog instruct a new dog to the family where the doggie door was, where the water was located, and also where to go to the bathroom. Lastly, I’ve seen my own cat come into the living room and start meowing in a very agitated manner. She would then direct us to the bedroom where we discovered that the screen to the window had been knocked down and that her sister had run away. Each of these animals have displayed some rudimentary form of intelligence. It may not be at the level of humans, but there was some basic thought that took place and any animal that can show such intelligence must have an eternal spirit. When we see what these pets are capable of and that they have a definitive personality, is it any wonder why we love them so much and why we grieve so much when they leave us?
For these reasons I wish to remember several of them right now. Some of them were family pets, others were the pets of friends.
Leo – a beagle owned by Brendan Mahoney and Gordon Street
Bruiser – a dog also owned by Brendan Mahoney
MeiMeu – beloved cat of Daniel Hughes (my brother) and partner Keith Byron
The following pets were all owned by my family:
Boris – orange tabby cat
Joe – labrador/retriever
Dee Dee – german shepherd
Licorice – terrier/Chihuahua
Shogun – Great Dane
Primo – Great Dane
Sasha – mixed breed of dog
Bandit – mixed breed of dog (Bandit was so incredibly intelligent that we all thought she was going to speak English at any time)
Remy – Beloved housecat to Jethro. I now wish to leave you with a writing that speaks to the heart of all of us who grieve when we say goodbye to our beloved pets. The author is unknown, but the first time I read it was shortly after my cat Boris died from kidney failure. It’s called “Rainbow Bridge.”
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
Rest in peace Remy...
6-17-09: I've been quiet. Quiet for far too long. Yes, I have a very busy life which includes spending personal time with my husband, but now I just have to speak up.
A lot has happened over the past couple of months. There was a soldier who was about to be discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the President Obama, who could have easily signed an executive order waiving the discharging of this honorable gay soldier, chose to not do anything. All during the campaign, he spoke of repealing this as he felt it was a terrible policy, and yet when an honorable gay soldier was about to be discharged he sat by and did nothing.
Just last month the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 which banned all future same-sex marriages. Now I realize that Obama has stated during the campaign that he opposed same-sex marriages in of themselves, but was fully supportive of equal benefits for couples in the GLBT community. Now he could have come forward and had said something in terms of trying to push for rights and protection for same-sex couples, but instead he chose to remain silent.
Now there is this memo that came from the US Justice Department regarding Defense Of Marriage Act. While it did address some legal aspects regarding the lack of rights and protections for the GLBT community, it used a language that was just mean-spirited and nasty. If I didn't know better I would have thought this came from the likes of Pat Robertson himself! Once again, where is President Obama on this? Has he come out and stated that he doesn't approve of the mean-spirited wording of the memo? Hardly. Instead, and only after being the subject of some truly scathing editorials and growing criticism from the GLBT community, he signs a memorandum authorizing the issuing of same-sex benefits for Federal Employees. A memorandum??? Does anyone realize this means? This will only be valid during the period of his Administration. Once he leaves office the benefits will lapse and we'll be right back at the beginning!!! He could have issued an Executive Order, but he chose not to. He could have spoken out against the wording of the memo, but again he didn't. His silence has been deafening throughout this entire time.
Now I realize that changing policy takes time and that there is a process. I'll give him time, but I have to see that the process is actually happening! All I do see are table scraps and all I hear is empty rhetoric. Could this be a case of Obama trying too hard to reach across the aisle, to try to placate others to the point where we are being ignored or forgotten? I have likened Obama's decisions to a table with many chairs around it. He's been going out of his way to invite people from all walks of life, especially those who do not agree with him, to this very table. He's been saying, "There is room for discussion and you are welcome." However, in trying so hard to invite all these other people to the table we've found ourselves being crowded out.
After what was an exciting campaign, one filled with hope as we stood shoulder to shoulder with other Americans with joy knowing that finally our voices were being heard, we are now feeling terribly disenfranchised as we find ourselves not quite so welcome at this table President Obama has set, and I for one do not like how it makes me feel.
5-7-09: Hello my friends!
Yes I’m still around, but as I’ve posted in my last couple of blogs my music involvement has kept me extremely busy!!! I can say that I’ve personally never been happier in my life. Having this outlet as well as the demands it places on me has filled a void in my life that I didn’t consciously know was there! However I have not forgotten you my good readers and I’m now here with a little tidbit that I’m sure will fascinate all of you.
I’ve posted many times in the past what my thoughts are when it comes to hypocrisy, especially that of the conservative/religious right. I’m most disturbed by those closeted gay individuals who, in a desperate need to convince others that they are not gay, go out of their way to either gay bash or just take political stands which do not truly serve their best self-interests. In doing so they end up hurting many honest and decent members of the GLBT community and set back social equality which only fuels the hatred that many of us are subjected to. This has caused the formation of investigative teams who go out of their way to expose such hypocrisy, and the best way to do that is by trying to out them.
Now I’ve said many times that if a person wishes to remain in the closet that is his or her choice so long as that person doesn’t actively engage in a manner which is damaging to the gay community. However, once that person crosses the line and starts attacking that very community then all bets are off! I’m not interested only in who is gay or not. I’m interested in seeing hypocritical behavior be exposed, and on Friday, May 8 2009 there is a movie that will do just that…
4-13-09: I know it’s been some time since my last update. I’ve got lots to cover, but some of these I’ll address at another time. What I do want to address is the plethora of lies the evangelical/conservative/religious reich continues to throw out there hoping that no one will notice it and that the general public will accept it as truth.
Recently I read an article that talked about how the “not so religious right” feels they are losing ground in the “culture war” going on. With the courts in Iowa ruling that the banning of same-sex marriage is discriminatory, and the Vermont legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, and with the general population feeling that same-sex couples do deserve SOME legal protection and recognition, the fundamentalist religious organizations are completely up in arms as to how they feel they are losing power. What got my attention were two alleged issues where the law came down on the side of religious people in what was viewed as acts of discrimination. They are as follows:
A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney's costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple's commitment ceremony.
A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to counsel a lesbian about her relationship.
Now I read these and became immediately fired up because it had been revealed that the reason these people were either fired or fined is actually different from what the conservative Christian groups are claiming! Now I was content to just move on until I read some of the comments that followed it. I won’t repeat them because they were filled with some pretty angry hatred, and one person on this board actually proclaimed that she was going to commit acts of violence in the name of God. Pretty demented stuff there! What I did do was post a reply that came from more of a Christian point of view than a gay one. This is what I wrote…
First, two of the examples given (the Christian photographer and the Christian psychologist) happen to be lies. Yes, they did get fined, but not for reasons of discriminating against someone who is homosexual. The law actually protects them and allows them to take on any clients they wish. They have always had that right and will ALWAYS have that right.
As a Christian I find it offensive that the fundamentalist movement seems to find it necessary to take stories and then change them to fit their own agenda. This is why the conservative Christian movement is starting to falter. The younger members who are growing up in their respective churches are seeing the lies that the leadership feels they must make in order to retain their power and authority.
As for ********** (Editor: I’m protecting the identity of this poster) , let me remind you of a fundamental right as outlined by the Bill Of Rights, and that is the basic premise of separation of church and state. Just as the church cannot determine how a government may or may not enact and interpret law, the government does NOT, nor will it ever, have the right to tell religious organizations how they are to worship, practice their beliefs on a daily basis, or even tell individual members what to believe. This is another lie that has been spun out of control thanks to the conservative Christian movement. I happen to know that while gay marriage was being practiced in California that there were churches which did not allow such ceremonies in their places of worship. As much as the fundamentalists would like for all of us to believe this, the truth is that the government, both local and federal, never punished or prosecuted those religious organizations for their refusal to honor same-sex wedding ceremonies. They were free to refuse to recognize such relationships and ceremonies as they wished without fear of legal reprisal.
If Christians wish to regain their place in society as the "moral compass" for our country, then it must be done on truth. Trying to get one's way based on a lie will not only do more damage than good, but it is a direct violation of one of the 10 Commandments - "Thou shalt not bear false witness."
3-15-09: Hello my friends, I’m still here!!!
I just wanted to apologize for anyone who has wondered where I’ve gone (yet again), and simply put… I’M BUSY!!!
Music has again reared its lovely head and has taken over much of my personal life. Last January I auditioned and joined The Phoenix Symphony Chorus. If you’re on Facebook you can get a better sense of who they are over here. Anyway, much of my free time is now taken up with rehearsals and practices. On top of that I just sang in the 2nd Annual AZ MusicFest held up in Carefree, AZ. As if that wasn’t enough I’m also preparing for an audition to sing in a small group performing the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Oh, and I also have to prepare for my “re-read” in a few weeks which will allow me to sing with the Symphony Chorus next season as well as prepare for our next big concert where we will be performing Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” To make things even worse I’m also working lots of overtime with my day job. Are any of you beginning to get the idea???
I also wanted to brag about my husband’s new creative adventure. For years he has had a fascination with photography and has dabbled in it here and there. Then after we moved into our house he sort of went on an Ebay craze and bought tons of photography equipment and even converted the master bathroom into a darkroom. What is so exciting is that 6 of his photos were actually purchased by a local law firm to hang on a wall in their new office space. I even gave one of the prints to a friend I sing with and another chorus member inquired as to how she could obtain some of Keith’s work to hang in her own office.
I find this all terribly exciting! After 12 years together we are now embarking on our own individual artistic endeavors. Now if any of you are concerned about us drifting apart through this have no fear. I’m always involving Keith in what I’m working on by asking his opinion on what he thinks about the music I’m rehearsing and I always accompany him on his photography excursions as well as assist him with his camera equipment.
Anyway, if any of you are interested in looking at his work just go to Keith Lane Photography and you can read his photo-bio as well as see some of his work. I've also posted many of his photos online at Flickr!.
1-28-09: I had debated for days now if I was going to write this, but after much consideration I decided it was necessary to say something.
I don’t have to tell any of you about the monstrosity named Fred Phelps or his church of hate called Westboro Baptist. I’m sure you’re all aware of his various websites that proclaim God’s hatred of the week. I call it that for a reason which I’ll explain shortly. I mention Fred because it was revealed to me just a few days ago that Fred and his cronies (mostly members of his own immediate and somewhat extended family) are going to be coming here to Phoenix on Friday to protest at a high school that has one of the biggest Gay/Straight Alliance groups in the area. As a result of that I saw on Facebook that there is a gathering of people who will be protesting the protesters. This is where my stomach went into knots.
If any of you reading this feels that it’s necessary to counter-protest that idiot then so be it. I will not give that man such pleasure and if I had my way I would not even be writing about it now, but I feel there is something important to point out. Fred and his followers are nothing more than media whores. Please forgive me for the use of the word, but it is correct. Fred wants nothing more than to have people pay attention to him and his insane rants. Likewise his followers (usually led by one or both of his daughters) also crave that spotlight. That’s why they scream and carry on the way they do. However, to ignore them is like stabbing them collectively in the heart.
About 8 years ago they announced that they would be coming to Phoenix to publicly protest our Gay Pride Parade and festival. The announcement itself caused some heated discussions as to what we would do in response to their presence. After weeks of debate it was finally decided that we would do NOTHING. Instead of allowing ourselves to get caught up in their hateful rhetoric we thought it best to just ignore them and not let them ruin our day. Now they had made plans to actually put on some sort of demonstration very close to the entrance of our Gay Pride festival and that they would be there into the early evening. That did not come to pass however. We pretty much ignored them during the entire parade and people made a point of pretending they weren’t even there upon entering the festival. In short, they were COMPLETELY IGNORED BY EVERYONE!!! What did this do? After standing there for just a few hours they packed it in and left with their tails tucked between their legs. To me this was a true victory.
Again, I believe that Fred and his merry band of loonies are media whores based on the intensity of their hate-filled messages. For the longest time it was all about how (Please pardon the terminology I’m about to use, but this is what they say.) “God hates fags.” They even have a website on it. I will not sully my own page here with that address. You can easily find it should you wish. They even added with that message that AIDS was God’s punishment to homosexuals. Of course anyone with a brain can easily point out the holes in this illogical argument of theirs. Much like Aesop’s fable about the boy who cried wolf, the public just began to ignore what Phelps was saying. If you’re exposed to a specific type of noise you begin to get used to it to where eventually you don’t even notice that it’s there. The same happened with Fred’s message of hate. People just ignored it. Then the unthinkable happened…
September 11, 2001 was a tragic day. Many lives were lost and we as citizens of this country were collectively wounded by the attack. What is more irritating is the opportunity Phelps saw in this. He jumped on the anti-gay bandwagon that was started by the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. While Jerry and Pat claimed that gays and abortionists were the reasons for God allowing the terrorist attacks to happen (both recanted after public pressure), Phelps took it a step further and proclaimed that “God hates America.” Again, there is a website that proclaims this and again I will not give the web address here. Anyway, for a time this was their mantra. They even went so far as to proclaim that the soldiers who were dying over in Iraq and Afghanistan were being killed because God hates America. Now anyone with a shred of logical thought can easily see how terribly stupid this is! Nonetheless, the hate is what permeates in all of this. After a time Phelps raised the bar by saying that “God hates Sweden” (that one personally made me laugh because it was so silly) and has recently proclaimed that “God hates the world.” Now as a student of the Bible I can easily point out that all of this is utter bollocks!!! However it is pointless to argue with someone who is so filled with poisonous hate as Phelps and his family is. Besides, to argue with them is to give them what they want, and that is attention. They crave to be noticed. It doesn’t matter that the attention they receive is negative. So long as they are noticed they are happy. Oscar Wilde said, “There is one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is NOT being talked about.” They want to be talked about and they so desperately desire to be in the public consciousness wherever they go. This is how they have power, but to ignore them would be to take their power away.
As I said earlier, if any of you reading this truly desire to be a part of the counter-protest this Friday here in Phoenix, just be prepared to be in the presence of hate that is so palpable that it would make you physically ill. If you go and try to respond, you will have given Fred Phelps and his circus of hate the victory they want. It doesn’t even matter if they are outnumbered 10 to 1. So long as they are noticed they will have won. I for one won’t go, and it is my sincerest hope that no one shows up to even notice that they are there.
1-20-09: “There is not a liberal America, there is not a conservative America, there is the United States of America.” (Barack Obama)
I’m writing this as I’m watching the inauguration of Barack Obama, and I cannot help but be deeply moved. Granted, I’m watching a recording as I had to work today, but having a hi-def television and watching it on ABC’s hi-def station makes it almost feels as if I were actually there. It helps that my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Washington DC in December of 2007 as it allows me the pleasure of really having a sense of the enormity whenever the camera pans out across the huge crowds of people all throughout the Mall of America.
Let me divert for a moment and once again address the Rick Warren issue. Today I heard on Sirius Satellite Radio’s OutQ, during the Michelangelo Signorile Show, more criticism of Obama and his selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation for the inauguration, in addition to HBO’s omission of Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation at the inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial. There have been some accusations that HBO probably saw a large number of transgendered individuals during Bishop Robinson’s invocation and HBO decided that was not something they wanted shown. I have no idea if there is any truth to that, but to even throw such accusations around on such an auspicious day really comes across as rather petty to me.
I also heard today someone call into Michelangelo’s show saying that while he believed Obama is indeed the President that we need, that he firmly believes Obama has “thrown us [GLBT community] under the bus” because of Rick Warren, and he added his own personal criticisms of anyone who doesn’t share his sentiments. I don’t remember what the criticism was because I became so disgusted by this apparent lack of vision for unity that I changed the channel on my radio. Thrown under the bus? Would someone please explain to me HOW this was done? Were any bills signed into law through the selection of Rick Warren? Was there any discussion of anti-gay policies that came about through the selection of Rick Warren? HOW WERE WE THROWN UNDER THE BUS??? As I have said time and time again, Obama made this decision to demonstrate that he intends to be the President for all of this country’s citizens, not just a selected group of people. To anyone who doesn’t understand this, let me ask this question. Now that we, as GLBT folk, are finally in a position where we’re no longer oppressed by a neo-conservative movement (and dare I say, fundamentalist religions through their alliance with the Republican Party), does this give us the right to turn around and oppress those who had previously oppressed us? Where does this cycle of oppression end??? Just because there are those who do not share our personal convictions and beliefs does not mean they deserve to be left hung out to dry just because we are the ones who are “in power” (Of course when I say “in power” I mean that we have leadership who has repeatedly stated that they have our best interests at heart.). Now maybe if the tables were turned we would find ourselves back under that oppressive thumb, but that does not give us the right to do the same. We need to rise up and get past our own bitterness and extend the welcoming hand of friendship to those who would not do the same, and that is precisely what Barack Obama did in his selection of Rick Warren. Now I say to all of you, to any of you who are harboring lingering resentment due to Rick Warren’s presence on this day that you set aside your feelings and look at both the larger picture and this large country that we are a part of. WE ARE ALL CITIZENS OF THIS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Let us come together in a spirit of peace and brotherhood (sorry for the sexist term) as Barack Obama wants and intends for us.
Right now I’m watching President Obama’s inauguration speech and one line really caught my attention. “The time has to come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, to choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation, that God given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.” Again, this applies to all, not just the GLBT community and our allies, not just the liberals, but it includes those who do not agree or stand with us. President Obama understands this just as our founding fathers did. Isn’t it about time that we, not just understand that, but put those words into action?
As I watch the (recorded) inauguration I’m now seeing the benediction being given, and all I can think is how grateful and moved I am with what is happening today. As I said to my husband earlier, this is a moment of significance. We are continually caught up in footnotes in the history books. This is no footnote. What we are watching is a brand new chapter like we’ve never seen before. I watch these ceremonies and I can’t help but be moved to tears repeatedly over what this means. For the last 7 years I’ve been ashamed of what this country has done under our previous administration. Now, today I can say that I’m very proud to be an American. Not just a gay American, but a proud American!!! “There is not a liberal America, there is not a conservative America, there is the United States of America.”
1-17-09: It’s been a few days since I’ve last written anything here and I think that after you read this you’ll understand why.
Let me start off with the blessings… For several years I’ve toyed with the idea of joining the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Actually this is something that I’ve been thinking about since 2000, but never properly pursued. Then last year I was given an opportunity to sing in a volunteer chorus for a special concert series in Scottsdale. Without going into too much detail I will say that I had one of the most enjoyable times ever. The music was hard to learn and I had a very short time to learn it, but I really worked my arse off and managed get the part learned to where I could sing with strength and confidence. When it was all over all I could say was that I had the time of my life. It was so exciting to me that I made the decision to formerly join the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. I made some inquiries and learned that there was an audition process that I had to go through, but that it would probably be okay since I was a tenor and that was a section the chorus was in dire need of. Unfortunately I had to miss the audition due to yet ANOTHER bout of respiratory illness which did some pretty significant, and long lasting, damage. As a result I missed the opportunity to join the chorus for their fall and Christmas concert series. However I had been told, just prior to Christmas, that there would be another opportunity to audition in January which was also the same time that the aforementioned special concert series in Scottsdale was to start up again for this year (and I was automatically a part of this year’s chorus due to last year’s participation). I was all geared up to audition when a whole slew of obstacles got thrown in my way, not the least of which was a work schedule that saw me working as much as 12 hours a day. For this reason I decided not to audition and wait until August. However my husband would not agree to that and he almost threatened me with bodily harm (Just kidding!!!) if I didn’t audition. I didn’t have any proper material prepared so I went in armed with a John Denver ballad. I met the chorus master and sang one verse. He stopped me and then asked me to sing out of a hymnal sitting on the piano. I did that and then finished up with some sight reading. That was it. He thanked me and I then went home. The next morning, at 9:00 AM, I received a phone call at work telling me that not only did I pass the audition, but that the chorus was having a retreat the next day (Saturday) which was to last all day where they would do some intense rehearsing of their next performance piece, Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms.” I made my way down there, met quite a few people (some of whom I already knew), and started singing my heart out!!! This is the blessing that I received. I’m now a full-fledged member of the Phoenix Symphony Chorus and will be performing the Stravinsky next month followed by Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” in April. I’ve got a lot of music I need to learn, and even though it can be hard work, it’s one of those things that can be quite rewarding. On top of that there is the special concert series in Scottsdale where we will be performing Vaughan Williams’ “Dona Nobis Pacem,” also to be performed in February. This basically means that the next several weeks are going to be extremely intense, but fun at the same time!!!
The second blessing is with my wonderful husband. For many years he has had a fascination with photography. Then, over the last couple of years he started acquiring all sorts of different cameras and equipment, as well as converts one of the bathrooms in our house into a darkroom so that he could do his own developing. Then last June we went on vacation to Oklahoma and took Route 66 to get there. During that entire trip he took a lot of photos, several of which came out surprisingly well. Of course this further inspired him in his efforts and for some time all we did was go out and take pictures of all sorts of different places, landscapes and structures. What has made this so special is that a law firm here in Phoenix saw some of Keith’s work and actually PURCHASED six pieces of his work. He’s worked closely with them on the layout and size of these photos that will go into their office, and I’ve can’t remember the last time I saw him so happy or proud of himself. He’s experiencing a sense of fulfillment that I can totally understand and I am so very proud of him!
Now, let me finish off with a follow-up to my last rant regarding Rick Warren. While most people appeared to agree with my sentiments regarding him, I did receive one rather pathetic reply basically call it both sad and sick, that regardless of what I felt, Rick Warren is an anti-gay bigot. Now maybe he is, then again maybe he isn’t. I’m not in a position to judge that man’s heart. However, I can give further comment on further developments regarding both him and Obama’s upcoming inauguration.
As we’ve all heard by now, Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson will give the invocation at one of the pre-inauguration ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial. When it was announced that a gay bishop would be giving the opening prayer, Rick Warren came out with nothing but praise for Obama’s selection, basically saying that Obama has yet again demonstrated that he intends to build common ground for people from all sorts of different walks of life, whether we may agree with that other person’s point of view or not, and that Obama is to be a President for ALL the people of this country, not just certain member’s of its population. This praise came from Rick Warren, and he echoed what I’ve been saying all along.
Some may say that I’m living in a fantasy world, that this is nothing but happy thoughts and empty rhetoric, but I know that this has substance. Rick Warren demonstrated Christian behavior with his praise of Obama’s selection of Bishop Robinson. He’s shown that he’s willing to “come to the table” and have a discussion with people of opposing viewpoints. We need to do our part and we can start by supporting Obama in his selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Inauguration. Obama is President of this country, and that makes up you, your neighbor, me, and even people who don’t agree with who I am. Let’s give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt and trust him in his decisions instead of condemning him before he’s even sworn in as our next President.
12-28-08: Well I’m hoping all of you had very happy holidays. My Thanksgiving and Christmas were for the most part uneventful aside from some minor drama here and there. I have had to work more overtime due to a crushing workload so there has been little time to myself. My greatest joy did come on Christmas Eve when I was given the opportunity to help provide music for the first of our church’s two Christmas Eve services. I was able to help with some classical guitar music which was something I truly enjoyed. Christmas day was rather quiet and I had a wonderful time spending it with my husband. It is my wish that all of you have a truly blessed new year. I fear that we’re all going to need it!!!
Now I do wish to address one small issue. The invitation of Rick Warren (Pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA) to give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration has certainly been one of the more controversial issues. All I wish to do is offer my opinion. This is not my way of saying that the decision IS a right one or ISN’T. This is not to say that people are wrong in how they feel regarding the decision. All I’m going to give is my personal opinion. Some of you will agree with it while others will not, and as my husband always says, that’s okay.
Barack has made a point of really trying to reach out to the GLBT community during his campaign run, to let us know that we have a voice in this country as citizens and that we are worthy of equal treatment and protection under the law as well as respect. Then came what some have believed to be the proverbial slap heard around the world. A pastor, who supported Proposition 8 as well as feels that homosexuality is akin to pedophilia, was asked to give the invocation at Barack’s inauguration. Now I’ll admit that I would not have asked this man to be my first choice for this occasion, I did have to take a step back and try to look at what Barack is doing and why.
Barack is something of an idealist. He really wants to see this country come together in some sort of peaceful acceptance towards one another. For the past 8 years George W. Bush has done nothing but to help divide the people who live here. He proclaimed himself as uniter (Is that even a real word?), not a divider. However all he did was succeed in turning people against each other, conservatives versus liberals, Christian Fundamentalists versus ANYONE who didn’t share their exact beliefs, not to mention the groups of people who rose up in opposition to anything GLBT related. We were (and still are) a divided country. Now Barack has the daunting task of trying to bring this fractured population together, to try to heal the rift that has scarred all of us to some degree or another.
Try to look at it from a fundamentalist’s point of view (scary as that may seem). To them Barack is reaching out to the enemy when he says he’ll try to dismantle “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in addition to saying that our same-sex relationships deserve equal protection under the law as heterosexual married couple do. From their point of view they can only think that he’s courting “the enemy.” That is their view. While I clearly don’t share it, those same people are citizens of this same country that we’re a part of. Now the tables are turned and he reaches out a hand of friendship to a conservative pastor and we’re completely up in arms about it. Barack is simply doing “the Christian thing” by reaching out to this man. Just as he states we have a place in this country, he’s saying that so do the conservative religious folk. He’s trying to bring us ALL to the table together. This is not an easy thing for him to do and I’m sure he’s going to catch more flak for it than he deserves.
I’m reminded of an instance in the New Testament when someone approached Jesus and condemned the inviting of certain people to a wedding party that he was attending. Christ’s response was basically, “there’s room for all at God’s table.” It’s about time we start taking the high road here. We’ve complained long enough about being left out. Let’s not do the same thing in return to someone else just because he doesn’t agree with us or with who we are. Let us also not condemn Barack Obama for his choice. He wants us all to come together. Let’s not condemn the man for doing this even before he’s had a chance to take office yet. Yes, he’s our elected leader, but he’s still just a man, and as a man he will make decisions that will not appeal to everyone all the time. Perhaps we should show more tolerance towards Barack as well.
“There is room for all at God’s table.”
11-11-08:[Editor: Before I start wih my blog I just want to say that I've updated all of the pages on my website to either correct the formatting ot fix any broken links. Check it out if you have time!]
I’m just now writing because I just haven’t had the time to compose anything sooner! I was very much politically involved and even attended a private election party held by HRC at one of the hotels. Add to that my company decided to move to a new location that same week so my life has pretty much been turned upside down for some time. I also had to address some much needed updates with most of the pages on my website throughout this past weekend which was grossly overdue. That’s why I’m finally getting a chance to write now.
Okay, so I guess it’s time I talked about November 4th, eh? Well let me start off by saying how happy I was that Obama won. Not only was it a resounding victory, but many Republican members of the Congress were essentially “fired” by their constituents and replaced by Democrats! It’s not a solid lock to get Democrat policy through, but perhaps that’s for the best. This way, perhaps the Democrats will remember what the Republicans did to them during the past 12 to 14 years (when Newt Gingrich was elected with his “Contract for America”) and how much they hated being repressed under the GOP’s thumb. If so then perhaps the Democrats will NOT do the same to them and perhaps they will work in a more constructive, bi-partisan manner. I have found that the country really moves along best when there is true bi-partisanship that leans a little to the left, but then again that’s according to my own personal political tastes. So long as there is cooperation between the two parties I think the government will be capable of doing great things. As for Obama, I’m very happy he will be my new President. I never voted for Bush. I don’t believe he was truly elected; rather he was adjudicated into the White House by the Supreme Court. At least this way there is no doubt who the majority of Americans want to lead this country. No controversy, no doubts, no questions as to who will be our next President.
Now it’s time to talk about the bad stuff. I’m thoroughly disgusted with the passage of Proposition 8 in California. I had hoped that with a large number of Democrats voting for Obama in California that a demographic that was favorable to the defeat of Prop 8 would come out and do the job, but that was not the case. The Mormon Church did a damned good job of seeing to that! I admit, I cried on Wednesday when I learned what the outcome of that ballot issue was. Even though it only affected California (here in Arizona we had our own Prop 102 which passed, but same-sex marriage was already illegal here anyway) I felt its repercussions would take on national tone, and indeed it has!
As I just stated, I cried. I felt marginalized like I’ve never felt before. I had finally, legally married the man I love, and now an amendment to their state constitution threatened to take that away from me. Thanks to the Mormons, and other fundamentalist groups pushing for Prop 8, I now felt like less than an American citizen, less than a human being. I’m sure there are some out there who would scream at me that I’m some sort of sick animal that needs to be put down. While the Mormons believe that what they did was born out of some warped version of Godly love, there are others who feel that this amendment doesn’t go far enough and that I should probably be put to death for even being alive, but I digress…
Another reason I haven’t written is because I didn’t know what to write, let alone what to even think or feel. I was angry and hurt. I needed to process those feelings in order to think more clearly. I’m now at that point where I am.
There are thousands upon thousands of angry citizens, both gay and straight, who are protesting at numerous Mormon temples and chapels. They are letting their collective voices be heard that they are not happy with what the Mormon Church has done with this past election. I’m sure that many of these people need a place to direct their anger. So long as there is no violence committed, I have no real problem with such protests taking place. However, I do have to wonder… Is this actually doing any good? Ask yourself this. Is protesting against the Mormon Church going to change their theological minds towards us? Is letting them know how hurt and angry we are going to cause them to come out of their buildings and apologize? Is just the act of protesting going to affect policy change in the state of California??? The answer to all of these questions is a big, fat NO! The Mormons might be surprised and taken aback somewhat by this very loud backlash coming from those who opposed Prop 8, but in the end it’s not going to change the way they feel. This is a church that has been persecuted for pioneering alternative lifestyles with polygamous marriages along with their somewhat unusual religious beliefs. They also pride on their church history and how they survived the persecutions that drove them out of Nauvoo Illinois and caused them to eventually settle in what would become Salt Lake City. They had been robbed, looted, lynched, and even murdered. They make a point of reminding each new generation of church members about what they were forced to endure. So, when a few thousand protestors start screaming and raising signs pointing fingers at the bigotry of the Mormon Church, do you think that they are really going to flinch and turn away out of shame and embarrassment? Not likely!
I like the idea of the people being galvanized into a protesting force, but let those protests have some sort of purpose and meaning! Don’t just protest so that you can scream your lungs out and then feel better after you’ve come home. The truth is that nothing will have been accomplished. Instead use these protests as a means to not just point out the terrible behavior of the Mormons during this past election, but also use it to bring together a socio-political force as well. Use these as a means to educate those who may still be living in the shadows of ignorance, to show them that we are decent human being who are worthy of loving and being loved, and that this love deserves legal recognition and protection. Use these protests to show the people in our community how they can contact their legislators and senators, to let the political leaders (both local and national) the importance of our cause. This is how we can truly affect change! If the protests were conducted in this manner we would start something that would be truly historic and constructive. To hold protests to just scream and wave signs is both counter-productive and sadly, a waste of valuable time. I know that I’m going to receive a lot of flak about this, but after having been on the periphery of political circles for several years now I have a somewhat clearer view of what needs to be done if we want to see change for this country and its citizens.
Well that’s about it. I could drone on and on about the merits of constructive protesting, but I think I’ve said enough on that particular subject already. Instead I’ll leave you with two items to look at.
This was sent to me by my mother shortly after the passage of Proposition 8. It’s a somewhat satirical look at the reasons why the anti-gay movement wanted to protect marriage. I’m not sure where my mother got it from, but I have seen it circulated around on the Internet. Now it has a somewhat bitter irony to it.
10 reasons why gay marriage is wrong
10. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
9. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
8. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
7. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
6. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
5. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
4. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
3. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
2. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
1. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.
Lastly I want to leave you with this stirring commentary by Keith Olbermann. It’s also seen some circulation on the Internet so some of you may have seen it already, but for those who haven’t I would like to share it with you now.
11-2-08: I’m not going to go on and on about political issues and candidates. All I want for all of you to do is just view these two videos regarding Proposition 8. I’m posting these because as a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I feel it’s my duty to point out when they are doing something wrong.
This video might be regarded as somewhat ridiculous, but if you scratch beneath the surface this is what Prop 8 means.
Here is another video where 16,935 were presented in Salt Lake City. These men wanted to give the letter and the attached signatures (mine was one of them) to the church leadership. Just watch how every person from the church just squirmed!!!
Now I can’t vote regarding Prop 8 being that I live in Arizona (although I did vote early against Prop 102 which pretty much does the same thing), but I am begging all people who can read this who live in California to please vote no on Prop 8. Perhaps these videos and others like them border on hyperbole, but the essence of what they say is true. And, if you don’t live in California, but you know someone who does, please contact them and tell them what a terrible tragedy it would be to actually write discrimination into the state constitution. If they doubt how bigoted Prop 8 is, tell them to read it but replace any terms such as “same-sex” with the word “interracial” and let them see how evil this ballot measure really is.
10-25-08: I’ve been sitting on this particular blog entry for sometime because I wasn’t quite sure what tone I wanted it to take. However, after having waited almost a full week I decided to just go ahead and write it and see where my mind takes me.
For those who either know me or have followed my blog entries for some time, you people know that on October 19, 2008 I celebrated the 11th Anniversary of the Holy Union to my wonderful “husband.” Of course holy unions are not legally recognized as a religious marriage ceremony, but as I’ve stated numerous times, I’m convinced that our commitment ceremony was viewed, recognized and validated in the eyes of God. For that reason I’m more than happy to refer to Keith as my husband or to call myself “married.” However there was still the legal component to consider.
In Arizona marriages between same-sex partners is not legally recognized, nor is Arizona required to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. However, such marriages ARE recognized and performed in California, so to celebrate our 11th Anniversary we decided to make the trek down to Southern California (as we usually do when we celebrate this particular anniversary) and spend the time down in Disneyland. We did set aside one day and made the trip to the Historic Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana. On October 20, 2008 I became the legal spouse to Keith Lane.
The ceremony was simple, and yet had a lot of personal significance for me. We got there around 11:00 AM to just fill out some paperwork along with payment for the marriage license. We had also decided on having two friends who live down there attend as witnesses, but to our delight we ended up having 5 people stand beside us that day. We were called into a small room where a Justice of the Peace officiated over the ceremony where we made an exchange of vows and were then pronounced married. It sounds simple, but I can’t emphasize how much it meant to me. Keith and I chose to do this, not because we never felt married or committed to each other, rather we did so to make a statement. We’re both tired of being regarded by sections of the American population as second class citizens who are not deserving of equal rights under the law, and even though this marriage is recognized in just a few states (Arizona not being one of them) I can still stand up and say that I’m a gay man and I’m legally married to the man I love!!!
After the ceremony we all went out to lunch to celebrate together this truly significant day and then Keith and I returned to Disneyland to finish out the day. What happened there was truly wonderful. We had been given special buttons earlier that stated we were just married and our names were on them so that people would know that were married to each other! Several times during our time in the park we would be stopped by cast members working there who would congratulate us and some of them even became deeply emotional and moved to tears over this! In short, it made for a truly memorable time and celebration of live and love.
Members of the fascist right might try to do what they can to undo this. Proposition 8 is on the ballot in California and stands a good chance of actually passing. Should that happen there is every possibility that my marriage to Keith would become invalidated due to the wording of the Amendment. Let them try. Prop 8 might pass, but it will in no way actually take away from how momentous that day had been. I personally hope it doesn’t as there is still a possibility that it might fail! Regardless of the outcome, I can say with great satisfaction and happiness that I’m currently recognized in California as a citizen of this country with the same rights and protections as anyone else. It feels good!
Keith has on his website a collection of photos that were taken by various people of our wedding as well as in Disneyland. Just click here to view them.
Let me finish by saying that this isn’t only about politics or making a statement. While we originally did it for that reason, it took on a greater and deeper meaning for me. In spite of everything else, I was making a re-commitment to the man I love. I was telling him, through the vows we exchanged, that I would stand by him in both good times and bad, that he’s also my best friend in addition to being my husband with whom I’m in love. Regardless of what anyone else says, there is no one that can that away. It feels good!!!
10-11-08: In my previous blog I had mentioned how unhappy I was with all of this hatred being spewed from the McCain campaign and its followers. Well I’m guessing things escalated to such a point that not only did the Secret Service start attending the McCain/Palin rallies due to the threats of violence coming from their supporters, but McCain himself was forced to lower the volume on this insane rhetoric. Over the last two days he has been holding town hall meetings and has been greeted with jeers and booing from people who are supposed to be his voting base. I even heard a segment from one such meeting where a voter kept yelling at how angry he was that McCain and Palin were not doing enough on the campaign trail to guarantee their victory in November.
At a different town hall meeting in Lakeville, Minn., McCain was booed when he defend Obama as being a decent citizen and family man. A woman then complained that she couldn’t trust Obama because he’s an Arab. At that point McCain took the microphone from her and told her again that Obama was a decent man who loved his family, and that McCain simply disagreed with him on fundamental issues.
I have two thoughts on this. Somebody has probably told McCain that the hateful attacks on Obama isn’t going to help him anymore than where he currently is in the polls. Those people who were listening to him on those points are already going to vote for him. It’s the independent voters and the undecided voters in both the Republican and Democratic parties that he needs to reach out to, and that kind of hate speech was simply driving his poll numbers down as those people started to turn away from McCain and begin to embrace Obama. I’m sure somebody brought this to McCain’s attention and now has to cut back on those attacks in an attempt to win over any lingering undecided voters to his side. I also think that he was warned that should things get violent towards Obama and/or his supporters that the McCain/Palin ticket might be held partially liable because of hate mongering that was initially coming from their campaign.
Regardless of the reason, I must commend McCain for doing this and for actually standing on behalf of Obama as an American citizen who loves both his country and his family. While I still don’t like McCain because of his political actions in the past, I can acknowledge that he did a very good thing here by turning away from personal attacks (in direct contrast to his claim of “taking off the gloves” and going personal in his attacks just after the VP debate) and decided to return to what this really should be about and that would back toward policy differences.
Now I do want to address something which has been talked about here and there for several months, and that is John McCain’s temper. He mentioned at the last debate that we need “a cool hand at the tiller,” but McCain has shown himself increasingly to be, not the maverick he claims he is, rather a totally loose cannon. Being President brings more stress than any one of us can possibly imagine. Do I want someone who can be an irrational hot-head running this country?
Please watch the video I have posted here.
Now I have one last video I just found that I wish to share with all of you. I do not need to further elaborate on it.
10-7-08: I hope I can be brief here. Today I heard something that absolutely shook me to my core. Apparently, during a Palin campaign rally yesterday, the crowd became so crazy that during one of her character attacks on Barack Obama someone from the audience showed, “KILL HIM!” Do you know what bothered me about that? Sarah Palin said nothing. She just smiled. Any kind of comment denouncing that cry would have been acceptable to me, but she said nothing at all. Why?
Also yesterday John McCain was at a different stop on the campaign trail and when he asked the crowd who Barack Obama really was, someone from the crowd shouted, “TERRORIST!” I’m not making this up. I actually heard it on the radio. People who saw it said that McCain flinched just a bit when he heard that, but like Palin, said nothing.
I am becoming increasingly disturbed by what I’m seeing here. I have always known that there were people who thrive on hate. That doesn’t surprise me. This was something else on an entirely different scale. Crowds of people whipped into some frenzy filled hate, and this particular type of hatred is toxic. Just hearing the reactions from these crowds bothered me so much it literally felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest with a butcher knife! Again, I knew there were pockets of the population who know nothing but hate in their hearts, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it could exist as big as this. It sickened me to know that I’m of the same human race that these other people are, and all I could do was ask myself, “What does this say about ourselves as a species? What does this say about us as children of God?”
10-6-08: Well things are heating up. The polls clearly show who mainstream America wants as their next President and Vice President. McCain and Palin are continually embroiled in scandal and controversy. Now, on the eve of the 2nd Presidential debate the McCain camp has decided that it isn’t worth their effort to address issues. Instead they wish to use “swift boat tactics” and have embarked on a smear campaign against Barack Obama. The only thing I can think of is how unbelievably petty they really are. What is going on is very important for all of us to remember when it comes time to vote! How a candidate conducts his or herself during a campaign can surely be indicative of how he or she will behave once in office. McCain and Palin are both going out of their way to demonize Barack Obama on issues and points that have already been proven to be false by journalists. Nonetheless they feel it is absolutely necessary to force their point that Obama is some sort of domestic terrorist in waiting. Well let me give all of you an eye opener here. If they are going to call Obama a terrorist then I will do the same to Sarah Palin. Her own husband was a member of a secessionist group where the members denied being Americans, rather they were Alaskans only and wanted no part of the United States. These were extremist militia wanted to have the U.S. surrender all federal lands back to Alaska. If the McCain/Palin ticket are going to accuse Barack Obama of allowing foreign terrorists to make their way into our country then I can accuse the Palins of being in league with those extremists behind the Oklahoma City bombing. Hey, what’s fair is fair!!!
I also want to address this smear attacking John McCain. What he is doing is just noisy rhetoric. What I have here is a matter of fact. Since I live in Phoenix, Arizona I was well aware of the whole S & L collapse that happened here, more infamously known as the “Keating Five Scandal.” It bears an eerie resemblance to the problems facing Wall Street right now, and John McCain was in the thick of it! Now this is not the same type of attack that McCain is waging against Obama. What I’m bringing up here is a matter of judgment and leadership. How can we have a President try to lead us out of probably the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression when his ethics on the subject are in question? Oh, that’s right. John McCain doesn’t seem to think that there is a problem. “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” I’m sorry, but that’s an absolute crock of prairie shit!!! If the so-called “fundamentals” of our economy are so strong, then those rich CEOs and Presidents of the failed financial institutions would not have gotten us into this mess!!! The “fundamentals” are NOT strong and the economy is sliding into the abyss. Do you know who we have to thank for it? John McCain!!! Just look at his track record in the Senate! He has pushed for financial deregulation so much you would think it was going out of style. His judgment, his economic ethics brought us to this very brink and now he wants to be our President!
Again, I refer back to the Keating Five. Just watch the video below. It’s just over 13 minutes long, but I beg all of you to hang in there and watch all of it. You will be disturbed as to the type of man John McCain really is!!!
9-16-08: It’s late in the evening and I’ve been intending to write this latest blog, but by the time I’m able to sit down at my computer and actually write it’s so unbelievably late that all I have time to do is read my e-mail and then go to bed. While it’s late now I must write this latest blog because I feel it is imperative to share these few things.
Let me start off with the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life and that came from the right-wing nut mental midget, Gary Bauer.
The Republicans, and especially the neo-cons, are going out of their minds to do what they can to keep the Republican Party in the White House. They have spun all sorts of smear lies regarding Obama which have ALL been proven false. Even John McCain has had to admit that lies have been told, something which I’m sure he absolutely hated doing.
The other lie that is being propagated is based on fear. Once again the neo-con idiots are trying to use 9/11 and terrorism as a means to scare people into voting for John McCain. Gary Bauer spoke on this. View the video below and see if you can find the deception just as I did.
Now this made me so unbelievably angry. Gary stated that Islamic fascists who worship death want to detonate a dirty nuclear bomb. I’m just bewildered as to how the neo-cons love to just throw science out the window and report anything that pops into their pea-sized brains as fact.
He claims the dirty nuclear bomb would kill 100,000 people in 60 seconds. WRONG!!! He’s equating a dirty nuclear bomb with a thermo-nuclear device. Dirty nuclear bomb would only initially kill anyone who is within the immediate blast radius which wouldn’t be all that big when you’re talking about a city the size of Washington DC. It’s just a simple bomb (which in of itself can do considerable damage if you remember the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City) that scatters radioactive materials. These materials are not weapons grade and simply cannot undergo spontaneous fission. It would be bad for anyone who within that immediate area, but it would NOT do the damage he says it will therefore it will not plunge America into the state of chaos he claims would happen.
This is nothing more than a disgusting scare tactic used by the Republican Party to desperately hold on to whatever power is slipping through their fingers. DO NOT LET THEIR LIES GO ANY FURTHER THAN THIS!!! To all who read this, tell others what they are doing and show them the proof. Anyone who has half a brain would realize that the stuff they are tossing out there as fact is pure and simple BULLSH*T!!!
Now I want to conclude with a remarkable video by Keith Obermann.
My husband and I could not watch the Republican National Convention without having to refrain ourselves from throwing objects at our TV so I didn’t see the so-called tribute to 9/11. I do know that once again they are throwing that out in an attempt to sway the voters. And, as Keith Obermann points out, if McCain really does know how to get Bin Laden, then why isn’t he saying something? I remember McCain once saying it was more important to win the war and lose the election. Well he certainly seems to be whistling a different tune because he only wishes to reveal his secret strategy if he should become the President. How nice of John McCain to hold on to that valuable bit of information because he would rather see soldiers die in Afghanistan than to give up his “gambling chip!!!”
We know that McCain is a proven liar. He even admitted it after the 2000 South Carolina primary where he admitted to breaking his promise of always telling the truth. He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. “I broke my promise to always tell you the truth,” McCain said.
I guess once he began to lie back then it just became easier to lie whenever he felt like it!
9-13-08: Holy cow, where do I begin?
Just after the Democratic convention’s final night the American people were pumped for Obama. They loved his message and they honestly believed that he could lead. Then, out of the blue, McCain pulled a swift trick and announced his running mate, Sarah Palin.
Now I should have been commenting on this from the very start, but to be honest this has been something of a roller coaster ride from the start! I started to think that the moment I would write anything on the subject that the entire landscape would change. She has scandal written all over her from “Troopergate” to the “road to the bridge to nowhere!” She professes a religious belief that is SO arch-conservative that others in the Assembly of God have declared the church she attends as heretical.
What bothers me most out of all of this is how the American public seems to be fawning all over her! This is the same American public that brought George W. Bush’s approval rating to the 30% range if not lower, who became excited over Barack Obama because they felt he genuinely cared for the country’s plight and all of its citizens, the same American public that wanted to pack Denver for the final night of the convention to hear a true leader come forward and speak. Then, in the course of less than 48 hours, Sarah Palin is announced and this same American public was lulled into some hypnotic trance and has started repeating her name and rhetoric like it was some sort of mantra. What also worries me is that Palin has gone after that long-proven false idea that Iraq was behind the attacks of September 11. In the Washington Post Sara Palin was quoted as saying to a brigade of Iraq bound soldiers (that included her son) that they would ‘defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.’” WHAT?!?!?!? She’s actually trying to bring up that tired old argument again?!?!?!? Even the Bush administration has been forced to acknowledge that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11!!! And don’t even get me started on her religious beliefs and how they may impact our way of life! Yes, she’s only up for the position of VP, but she’s a heartbeat away from the Presidency should anything happen to McCain, and given the combination of his age along with repeated bouts with melanoma, I’m rather concerned that she’ll “ascend to the throne!”
She claims to be a reformer, but that has been a proven lie! When she was presented with a bill that would ban domestic partnership benefits for government workers she was told by the State Supreme Court that the bill was unconstitutional at which point she was forced into vetoing it. She did this not because she’s a reformer or because she’s some sort of social moderate, but because she was told to. She has gone on record since then that she believes same-sex relationships are sinful and that she would like to see an amendment to the constitution banning domestic partnership benefits. How does this make her a reformer? She’s repeating the same song and dance that the neo-cons have been blathering about for the past 8 years!!!
Take the case of the Bridge to Nowhere, which supposedly gives Ms. Palin credentials as a reformer. Well, when campaigning for governor, Ms. Palin didn't say "no thanks" - she was all for the bridge, even though it had already become a national scandal, insisting that she would "not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative." Oh, and when she finally did decide to cancel the project, she didn't righteously reject a handout from Washington: she accepted the handout, but spent it on something else. You see, long before she decided to cancel the bridge, Congress had told Alaska that it could keep the federal money originally earmarked for that project and use it elsewhere. This whole story of Ms. Palin's alleged heroic stand against wasteful spending is fiction which again, just proves that she’s NOT the reformer the McCain campaign would have you believe.
There is so much more to talk about, but it’s long enough already! Let me just add that my stomach turned as I was writing this. It infuriates me that people are buying the lies. After 8 years of being lied to I had hoped that Americans would have come around and not fallen for all of this again. Still, as much as it bothers me to have to write about this, I will continue to voice and express what I know is not just personal opinion, but matters of fact, and I will do this repeatedly in the hopes that maybe my words might make a difference and help bring about the change that this country, that this world, so desperately needs.
9-7-08: I have more serious stuff that I'm going to be writing about in the days the days to come, especially regarding this whole nonsense regarding Sarah Palin. However, I thought it would it would be fun to re-introduce some mirth to this page. Now I love baseball. It really is such an awesome sport to watch. I found this very funny video of a squirrel who decided to hijack a game between the Chicago White Sox (Imagine that?) and the Cleveland Indians. It's a few minutes long so just sit back and enjoy!!!
8-31-08: Hi everyone, I’ve managed to move my tired old bones from my comfortable chair in the living room into our home office so that I can write here.
I’ve been working very long hours (I doubt that ever will change) so I’ve been unable to bring myself to actually sitting in front of a computer for any lengthy period of time. I’m guessing that many of you figured with all of the political activity going on that I would be rather vocal. Well to be perfectly honest I had become terribly burned out by the entire political madness going on. I was frustrated with registered Democrats who were disappointed that Hillary didn’t fare better during the primaries and in return tried to demonize Obama, to the entire Republican machinery for trying their old “swift boat” tactics as well as the sickening hypocrisy (not to mention stupidity) of McCain during the last couple of months of campaigning. The whole thing really started to leave a bitter taste in my mouth so I became quiet due to having nothing to write as well as not even having any desire to write. That has changed.
Last week saw one of the most spirited political conventions in recent history. I won’t deliver a blow by blow breakdown analysis of the entire week, but I will give you a few thoughts as I watched every night of the convention. I would have posted this sooner, but due to a massive monsoon storm that blew through Phoenix we were without power thus I’ve been unable to put this online until today.
From a first night where the mellow attitude was meant to soothe bad feelings due to the turmoil felt amongst the Democratic voters (Barack vs. Hillary), to the genuinely supportive speeches given by both Hillary and Bill Clinton, to the speeches which brought tears to my eyes given by Beau Biden about his father Joe (as well as Joe’s speech) which reflected true Family Values (the Republicans have completely co-opted and corrupted that phrase), to the final night where, in that gigantic football stadium, Barack Obama was able to deliver a speech of such power that it energized everyone who was there!
For many years I’ve voted for my candidate of choice simply because I couldn’t stand the idea of “the other guy” winning. That’s not how elections should be won. Now we have a candidate who I feel excited about, who stirs my emotions and tells me the things that speak to my values and ideals. Barack Obama is the kind of leader who can inspire others around him, both politicians and just everyday citizens, to achieve great things and higher ideals. After all, isn’t that what a leader is supposed to do?
7-4-08: Well here I am back from the vacation that Keith and I took a little over two weeks ago. It’s funny as I write that as it already feels like almost a lifetime has passed. I could not write as soon as I got home because there was just too much to do in terms of getting settled back into the home life in addition to a grueling work schedule. Still, I’m back now and wish to share just a couple of things.
Some people had expressed a great concern about us taking a trip to Muskogee for a high school reunion. “You’re going back to Oklahoma as a gay couple for Keith’s 30th High School Reunion?” Well truth be told the entire vacation went beautifully well. We had a great time driving up and back (we drove along much of Route 66) and the reception that we both received was better than anything either one of us could have ever imagined. Keith had been posting on a special class reunion page and put both of our websites out there. Basically our lives were exposed for all to see. I’m not sure why he did it, but the response was great. Whenever we would run into former classmates or friend of his people would point and welcome me as if they had known me their entire lives. Some others would walk right up to me without any introduction whatsoever and state how extremely happy they were to meet me. As it turns out we ended up becoming one of the most popular couples at the reunion, only to be eclipsed by another couple where the husband was a female to male transgendered person who had most beautiful blond wife. They were clearly the favorite couple during the entire reunion weekend, but that’s not to take anything away with how much people loved me and Keith. The support, friendship and acceptance meant more to me than words can describe. It was almost as if I discovered a whole new branch of my “extended” family, and to know that literally brings tears to my eyes with pure joy, and all I can do is fall on my knees and thank God for such a glorious blessing.
This event has taught me a great deal about our society. We are bombarded by reports about how conservative citizens from all over this country despise us and would love to see us just disappear, as to how our very existence apparently threatens their lives and their very own beliefs. Well I’m here to say that those reports are GREATLY exaggerated! While I’m sure such things exist, my own personal experience has shown me that even in a tiny place like Muskogee Oklahoma there can be peace, acceptance, and even love between people from all walks of life. This has given me a greater hope than I could ever possibly imagined!!!
Now we did take quite a few pictures while we were on our little trip. Since this was part vacation/part road-trip Keith decided to take almost all of his good cameras and just went to town taking pictures of anything that we found to be of interest. He has a great love of black and white photography and many of the subjects along Route 66 make for great pictures. He used film cameras, but after the prints came back he scanned what he thought were the best ones, and you can see those pictures below. Just click on the thumbnails to see the full sized picture.
6-12-08: I don’t know how coherent this entry might be, but I feel it is imperative that I write it tonight. My husband and I are going out of town Saturday morning on a relaxed drive to Tulsa, OK where we will be attending Keith’s 30th High School Reunion. We decided to take a long holiday (We haven’t had one since 2004) and really enjoy ourselves, but since I only have a few more days before we leave I knew that this had to be written tonight. I will be bringing my laptop along with me, but I do not intend to do much blogging unless something of great importance should happen.
What I had alluded to in my previous entry is something that has me downright pissed off. Now for several years I’ve really been harping on the hypocrisy of the neo-conservative Republican fascists that are in office, all the way from state government to the federal level. What I’m angry about is Democrat hypocrisy, however this is not aimed at any politicians in office, rather it is aimed at the voters.
If you remember I had posted not too long ago my thoughts about the split that has occurred among Democrat voters regarding Obama versus Clinton. I had made mention of the antagonism that has existed in each camp when it came to the other. It was for this reason that I privately wanted to see an end to this bitter campaigning as I truly believed that it was providing a disservice to our political party. Well as we all know Hillary did finally concede and Obama is the presumed Democratic candidate for the Presidency. This is where the real hypocrisy among the voters showed up.
I was listening very carefully to talk radio for several days following Hillary’s concession and I was bewildered at the number of people who maintained that they were going to vote for John McCain instead of Obama. Forget the fact that Hillary herself said that it was important for us to get a Democrat into the White House. People are apparently pissed off that Hillary did not win and are now acting like spoiled children, displaying blatant double standards when trying to make their point.
There are numerous reasons why I’m disgusted with what some of these people are espousing as reasons for voting Republican, but I’m going to identify only one, and that is gay rights.
I would agree that I don’t think Obama did enough to court the “gay vote” during this primary season, and he did make a tragic mistake when an “ex-gay” Christian performer was to sing and a big rally some months back and did very little to correct it. HOWEVER, Obama has stated several things which we must realize are truly beneficial to our community. First, he wants to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He knows what a travesty this policy has been and that it has only done more damage than the good it was supposed to provide. What has John McCain said about this? He has publicly stated that he sees no reason to get rid of this terrible policy. He has stated that the moral of the troops, and their ability to function as a unit, might very well be compromised if gays and lesbians were allowed to serve. Second, Obama wants to repeal ALL of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is true that he has not come out in full support of gay marriage, but does believe that gays and lesbians do deserve FULL and EQUAL rights and protections that married citizens are able to enjoy. Now with the news of same-sex marriages to be performed in California any day now the mere idea of DOMA being overturned is an even more important one. It is DOMA that has allowed various states (Arizona being one of them) to have the right to not recognize any marriage that has been performed out of state. We currently do not have an amendment to our Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman (though that may unfortunately change soon) so if DOMA was to be overturned then I could go to California with Keith, have an actual marriage ceremony (which we are planning on doing anyway) and then the Arizona government would be forced to recognize it here. Now John McCain had originally stated that he did not favor an amendment to the US Constitution rather it should be left up to the individual states. Well he has started to whistle a different tune after the California ruling. While he has not publicly stated that an amendment needs to be drafted, he has made it clear that he does not support this at all and would defend the more “traditional marriage,” which is stupid for him to say considering how he even treated his first wife, but that’s an issue for another time. The point here is that, while Obama has not been 100% supportive of the gay community, he has by no means been an enemy. McCain is clearly an enemy of the gay community which is where the hypocrisy comes in. How is it that our very own community can vote against their own self-interests? This man has voted against Hate Crimes legislation and even against ENDA. His record speaks for itself!!! I have even heard irrational nonsense such as, “I just don’t trust Obama and will NOT vote for him,” or “I don’t know what he stands for so I’ll vote for McCain instead because I know where he stands on the issues.” THIS IS RUBBISH!!!
For people who don’t know what Obama stands for all they need to do is go to his website at Barack Obama | Change We Can Believe In and do the research yourself. Not only will you find what he stands for, but you can learn what it is that he has done in his career thus far. To say that you’ll vote for McCain because you don’t know where he stands on the issues is tantamount to just burying your head in the sand because you don’t like what you see. As registered voters it is totally irresponsible for anyone to behave in this manner.
For those who will vote for McCain because they simply don’t trust Obama, let me give you this to chew on. McCain has already stated that he has no idea on how to handle the nation’s economy. He has also said that he feels the country is going in the right direction, both domestically and internationally, and has said that there is no reason to change what we are doing. Now I don’t know about you, but if we were to vote this idiot in it sounds like we would be getting a Bush impersonator. Now please people, think about this!!! Can any of you honestly believe that having Obama in office, who was voted to be the representative of the Democratic party, could actually be worse than having McCain, a man who has already proven to be an enemy of the gay community and feels that our country is going in the right direction??? WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! No matter how bad or inept Obama might ever turn out to be (which is something I personally do not believe), there is NO WAY that he could possibly be worse than McCain! In fact there is every indication that, in spite of any inexperience Obama might have, he would clearly be BETTER than McCain when it comes to being President of the United States!!! So, to all of you Democrats and members of the GLBT community, are any of you really willing to vote against your own community and vote against your own self-interests just because you have a bad feeling??? Are any of you so upset that just because Hillary lost you’re going to act like spoiled children and take all of your toys out of the sandbox and go home??? Are you people that deluded???
WAKE UP!!! Get over your bruised feelings and realize that there is much more at stake here! Study and do the research!!! Use logic and reason to dictate how you’re going to cast your vote in November instead of irrationality. Don’t be stupid!!! Be responsible voters. Having the right to vote is practically a sacred one. It needs to be treated with respect, not carelessly by a bunch of raving hypocrites who are also behaving like spoiled brats!!!
6-08-08: I will try to be brief… I have been sick. There has been a really nasty upper respiratory illness spreading throughout this country and I’ve been sick with it. It has laid me up with a cough that has brought me to the point of collapse accented by periods of mild, but still very unpleasant fever. Add to the fact that I made a decision not to take any time off because I was trying to build up my hours as Keith and I are taking a well-deserved vacation at the end of this week and will be gone for 10 days. I couldn’t afford to lose any of my vacation set aside for this due to illness so I had to work through the sickness at which point I would come home and completely collapse. It wasn’t until early last week that I finally started to see a real improvement in my condition, but then my mother took ill and had to go into the hospital to fight off an infection in her leg which had potentially serious ramifications. 3 years ago this month she took violently ill due to a bad case of “flesh-eating bacteria” in her right leg. After having 4 surgeries to remove the dead tissue (her leg still looks like it’s been through a meat grinder) and clear her blood of any bacterial infection (which literally had her very much near death) she was finally released and sent home after having been in the hospital for 7 weeks. Then, last Monday, her leg swelled up and turned a very ugly shade of red. After three years the infection had returned. Luckily we caught it early enough and she was able to receive the proper antibiotic treatments in the hospital to rid herself of the infection before it became too serious. This time she was only in the hospital for 7 days, but it was still a nightmare of a week. I spent all of my free time either with her or running errands for her. The only saving grace in all of this is that I had finally kicked the illness that had been plaguing me for the past 3 months. Perhaps my healing was from divine intervention. Perhaps it was just dumb luck. In any event, I am thankful to God that I could be well enough to take care of her and be there for her in this time of need.
Anyway, I do have much more to say regarding the political situation, but that will wait for another time. It’s late and I’m tired as my mom was discharged from the hospital today and I (along with Keith) was terribly busy taking care of her and making sure she was comfortable in her home. She’ll be fine, but I’m exhausted. This means that you’ll have to wait a few more days before I make my next posting here. I do have plenty more to say about what is going on regarding this election. I am spotting hypocrisy abound, and this time it’s not just coming from the Republicans, but I’m seeing it from our own registered Democrat voters, so expect my next blog entry to be “not so nice.”
4-19-08: Hello y’all…
Sorry I’ve been away, but as is the pattern my work has been keeping me busy. Add to that I got sick with a persistent respiratory problem which has me coughing to the point of collapse. On top of that is probably one of the worst allergy seasons I (along with my hubby) have had to contend with. In short, I either haven’t had the time or the energy to write, but my sense of “duty” has me sharing with all of you a few thoughts. First, let me briefly address the whole Sally Kern issue again. She had originally stated that homosexuals were more dangerous to our society than terrorists. However, when asked what she would do if she had a gay son (her own son has denied the gay rumors surrounding him) that she would love him unconditionally. Oh? What about the other mothers in this country? Does their love for their own gay sons (and daughters) count? What makes her hypothetical situation so better than any of the rest? Hey Sally, can you spell “hypocrite?”
I didn’t think so…
Now let me share with all of you something wonderful I read today. Lee Iacocca has just written a new book called “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?” and I was blessed to read an excerpt which really caught my attention.
A couple of years ago I posted a blog called “The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism” written by Dr. Lawrence Britt. While his analysis clearly demonstrates what our current leadership is, the following excerpt from Iacocca’s book illustrates what our current leadership SHOULD be. It is called “The Test of a Leader.” It is reprinted here without permission.
I’ve never been Commander in Chief, but I’ve been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I’ve figured out nine points—not ten (I don’t want people accusing me of thinking I’m Moses). I call them the “Nine Cs of Leadership.” They’re not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let’s be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It’s up to us to choose wisely.
So, here’s my C list:
A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. “I just scan the headlines,” he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” Bush disagrees. As long as he gets his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound system, he’s ready to go. If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn’t put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he’s right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care. Before the 2006 election, George Bush made a big point of saying he didn’t listen to the polls. Yeah, that’s what they all say when the polls stink. But maybe he should have listened, because 70 percent of the people were saying he was on the wrong track. It took a “thumping” on election day to wake him up, but even then you got the feeling he wasn’t listening so much as he was calculating how to do a better job of convincing everyone he was right.
A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping. There’s a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty. Senator Joe Biden recalled a conversation he had with Bush a few months after our troops marched into Baghdad. Joe was in the Oval Office outlining his concerns to the President—the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanded Iraqi army, the problems securing the oil fields. “The President was serene,” Joe recalled. “He told me he was sure that we were on the right course and that all would be well. ‘Mr. President,’ I finally said, ‘how can you be so sure when you don’t yet know all the facts?’” Bush then reached over and put a steadying hand on Joe’s shoulder. “My instincts,” he said. “My instincts.” Joe was flabbergasted. He told Bush, “Mr. President, your instincts aren’t good enough.” Joe Biden sure didn’t think the matter was settled. And, as we all know now, it wasn’t.
Leadership is all about managing change—whether you’re leading a company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt. Maybe Bush was absent the day they covered that at Harvard Business School.
A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I’m not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I’m talking about facing reality and telling the truth. Nobody in the current administration seems to know how to talk straight anymore. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem. I don’t know if it’s denial or dishonesty, but it can start to drive you crazy after a while. Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it’s painful. The war in Iraq has been, among other things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who didn’t cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we’ve stopped listening to him. A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” George Bush has a lot of power. What does it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops (not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to their deaths—for what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show his daddy he’s tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.
A leader must have COURAGE. I’m talking about balls. (That even goes for female leaders.) Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.
If you’re a politician, courage means taking a position even when you know it will cost you votes. Bush can’t even make a public appearance unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He did a series of so-called town hall meetings last year, in auditoriums packed with his most devoted fans. The questions were all softballs.
To be a leader you’ve got to have CONVICTION—a fire in your belly. You’ve got to have passion. You’ve got to really want to get something done. How do you measure fire in the belly? Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. President—four hundred and counting. He’d rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that the high point of his presidency so far was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.
It’s no better on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006. That’s eleven days less than the record set in 1948, when President Harry Truman coined the term do-nothing Congress. Most people would expect to be fired if they worked so little and had nothing to show for it. But Congress managed to find the time to vote itself a raise. Now, that’s not leadership.
A leader should have CHARISMA. I’m not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It’s the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. That’s my definition of charisma. Maybe George Bush is a great guy to hang out with at a barbecue or a ball game. But put him at a global summit where the future of our planet is at stake, and he doesn’t look very presidential. Those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he enjoys so much don’t go over that well with world leaders. Just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who received an unwelcome shoulder massage from our President at a G-8 Summit. When he came up behind her and started squeezing, I thought she was going to go right through the roof.
A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You’ve got to know what you’re doing. More important than that, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent? Well, let’s see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we’ve got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we’ve run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that’s just for starters. A leader has to be a problem solver, and the biggest problems we face as a nation seem to be on the back burner.
You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE. I call this Charlie Beacham’s rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford’s zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham, who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner, with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to tell me, “Remember, Lee, the only thing you’ve got going for you as a human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you don’t know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you’ll never make it.” George Bush doesn’t have common sense. He just has a lot of sound bites. You know—Mr.they’ll-welcome-us-as-liberators-no-child-left-behind-heck-of-a-job-Brownie-mission-accomplished Bush.
Former President Bill Clinton once said, “I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality-based world—and I like it here.”
I think our current President should visit the real world once in a while.
The Biggest C is Crisis
Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. Where was George Bush? He was reading a story about a pet goat to kids in Florida when he heard about the attacks. He kept sitting there for twenty minutes with a baffled look on his face. It’s all on tape. You can see it for yourself. Then, instead of taking the quickest route back to Washington and immediately going on the air to reassure the panicked people of this country, he decided it wasn’t safe to return to the White House. He basically went into hiding for the day—and he told Vice President Dick Cheney to stay put in his bunker. We were all frozen in front of our TVs, scared out of our wits, waiting for our leaders to tell us that we were going to be okay, and there was nobody home. It took Bush a couple of days to get his bearings and devise the right photo op at Ground Zero.
That was George Bush’s moment of truth, and he was paralyzed. And what did he do when he’d regained his composure? He led us down the road to Iraq—a road his own father had considered disastrous when he was President. But Bush didn’t listen to Daddy. He listened to a higher father. He prides himself on being faith based, not reality based. If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, I don’t know what will.
What Lee has so eloquently shown is that not only does our current leadership fail to stand up and be the leaders we as a citizens “elected” them to be, but our country is currently being led by a group of radical fascists who clearly have their own agenda and they are willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to see it through. Is there anyone out there who is still not afraid of what is going on?
I just want to share a small thought regarding our military.
I was reading an entry on some newsgroup and the moderator of the group posed a question regarding Gays plus the military, then and now. Now while his question did seem to focus only on the gay perception of men in the military, I had decided to broaden the scope in my reply. Below is the original question followed by my response.
There's a Love/Hate relationship between gays and the military. On the "Love" side there's the youthful, strong physical specimens; the courage and bravery; the alphamale attitudes; the "touch me" buzzcuts; the fetish gear and accessories...
On the "Hate" side of course is the institutionalized homophobia, racism, violence and killing.
I'm very interested in how the military was reflected in the mass media in the 40's-50's and how that's different from today. There were posters encouraging sacrifice for the troops, or even enlisting! There used to be soldiers in ads for towels and cigarrettes. You'd never see soldiers in any ad today.
I see this reflected in the gay content as well. Physique Pictorial, Tom of Finland, etc. all are full of the military as lust objects. Today's porn and gay illustrators seem to leave it out, opting instead for images of the leather scene that have adopted some of the military trappings.
Perhaps the national experience of several unpopular wars and news reporting of war atrocities have diminished the troops in our cultures eyes. Perhaps back when there was a draft, they were more "Our Boys" rather than the boys of the lower middle class of america. Perhaps the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" dialogue has made it un-PC to objectify the military in the gay culture.
Here is my reply.
I realize that your question is totally based on the gay perception of the military. I wish to broaden that scope to general public perception in my reply.
There are no organizations on this Earth that are so good as to be beyond any form of reproach. While I have heard that the attitude regarding gay soldiers in the military is changing for the better in parts of the world (namely the Middle East), I have heard the opposite in other areas where there is no conflict (e.g. Germany, Japan, etc.) presently going on.
The media has presented us with very strong mixed signals regarding our military. In one story we'll hear about some terrible atrocities being committed to prisoners from the war over in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be followed up with the story of a fallen soldier who died while doing his/her duty to the best of his/her ability. Is it any wonder why civilians (both gay & straight) are confused when it comes to public perception of our military?
I once heard a wise man say, "I trust in individuals, not organizations." The military is an organization, whether we say so or not. While the branches each have their basic charter as to the duties they've been set aside to perform, it is in the individuals that public perception is defined. Unfortunately sometimes the acts of the individuals, whether they are good or bad, tend to be reflected on all of the troops serving at that time. For that the military then unfairly receives either public commendation or public condemnation.
When I look at the military as a whole, I do so with a blank slate. Any judgments that I may pass will come from observing the individual soldiers serving, regardless of the capacity in which they serve.
Again, these are just my thoughts regarding our military. I found it important to express this because my brother-in-law (who I think very highly of) is to be deployed to Baghdad. I have also corresponded with an openly gay soldier in Iraq, plus I am acquainted with another gay soldier currently in Korea. Am I out to change people’s minds regarding the war? No. Am I out to change the public perception of our military? No. I just want to remind people that the military is made up men and women, each of whom are completely unique in this Universe. When my brother-in-law goes to Iraq, he may be numbered among the hundreds of soldiers who are already there, but in this entire magnificent Universe that God created, there is only one Kurt Lane.
When each and every one of you sees a soldier, I ask that you do not view him or her as just a member of whichever military he or she is a part of, rather I ask that you look at the individual, the person, the soul that is wearing the uniform and to always remember that the person you’re looking at is just a much a child of God as you are.
I was also reviewing my website here to see if there were any changes that I needed to make in order to keep it current, and I reviewed an article I had written called The Republican Party and the Christian Right. Given the heated nature already seen this year for the upcoming Presidential Election, I would recommend that this essay be viewed yet again. Just because George W. Bush is about to step down from office doesn't mean that the threat from the neo-conservatives and christo-fascists will go away, or has even gone away! Please read it again, and remember that we started a movement for change during the mid-term elections. Let's see what we can do to keep that momentum going.
3-12-08: I just have a short blog entry to make here. It’s in regards to Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern. She was speaking to a Republican group in January and equated sexual orientation and religion (specifically Islam) with terrorism. Among the ridiculous claims she made in her speech she said:
1. “The Homosexual Agenda is destroying this nation.”
2. “No society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades.”
3. “What’s happening now is they’re going after, in schools, two-year-olds.”As insane as these comments are, she still refuses to apologize for any of it even after being called on the carpet by numerous groups and individuals.
The Homosexual Agenda is destroying this nation? Can someone tell me when this is happening??? Are we doing this while we all meet at Starbucks in the morning, or perhaps during the dinner parties that we hold? I realize I’m being facetious in saying that, but based on our collective activities I can’t seem to find any ulterior motive in our daily lives which suggests we’re trying to destroy our country.
No society has totally embraced homosexuality that has lasted for more than a few decades. This very thought is stupid because while homosexuality has been around for thousands of years, it’s only been in the last couple of decades that any kind of acceptance started to show, so there is hardly any historical documentation which supports this idea.
As for going after two year olds in schools, is she referring to Nursery Schools??? Again, the fact that she even SAID that just goes to show how unbelievably STUPID SHE REALLY IS!!!
She made the original claim that sexual orientation is worse than terrorism. Is she aware of the poor 15 year old student who was gunned down by a 14 year old classmate because of his sexual orientation? He wasn’t hurting anyone, and yet this other kid comes up and kills him after having suffered taunting and bullying. After all of that, she dares to say that the 15 year old gunned down gay student was worse than a terrorist???
She really needs to take a close look in the mirror. People like her are the real social terrorists in this country.
3-9-08: I’ve been quietly observing what’s been going on with all of the political insanity going on. I’m sure that some of you have wondered why I’ve remained silent for so long with all that has happened and is happening. Well personal issues aside, I kept quiet because I’ve been trying to digest what has been going on with this extremely odd election cycle.
Let me start off by saying that I’m thrilled with the fact that the Democrats have finally put forth candidates that party members could actually get behind! For so long it’s been a case of us voting for our own candidate, not because he (or in some cases she) was so positive and great, but because we just couldn’t stand “the other guy.” For too long this is what we’ve been reduced to. Then we saw a crop of Democratic candidates for the Presidency come forward that actually excited this nation of ours. As always we had a large number of candidates who, after a period of time, dropped off one at a time until we were left with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This is where things took a strange turn.
Throughout the course of debates that Clinton and Obama participated in I started to see a divide occur within the voting public. Instead of seeing people supporting the candidate of his or her choice, they started turning on their own candidate’s opponent. Clinton supporters weren’t pushing Hillary; rather they started engaging in trash talking Obama. I started hearing these same people venomously criticizing Obama for his lack of experience, for not having any accomplishments in Congress, for only spinning rhetoric about how this country needs change. Likewise I heard Clinton bashers (particularly members of the gay community) jump on her for not doing more for the GLBT community, for only wanting to repeal part of Defense Of Marriage, and voting for going into Iraq. What had started as an exciting campaign with candidates that we could fully support and get behind, has turned into heated and angry arguments about how each other’s candidate is worse than their own.
This country is teetering on the edge and about to fall headlong into the abyss. The Bush administration over the last 8 years has destroyed almost everything that this country truly stands for and has also diminished our standing in the global community. We are trapped in a Middle-East conflict that is a powder keg ready to explode, and we have an economy that is worse off than has been seen in over 30 years. It’s going to take many years of healthy administrative rule to undo the damage wrought by the neo-conservatives currently in power. Having a split Democratic Party isn’t going to help the situation. We desperately need to come together in support of our party. It’s good to have a candidate to get behind, but I fear that this continued fighting within our own party will spill over into the months leading into the general election. There is so much anti-Hillary sentiment from the Obama camp and followers, and vice-versa. Already I’m hearing Democrats claim that if the “other guy” gets the nod that they will either vote Republican, vote for a third-party candidate, or worse not even vote at all! Does anyone else see how terrible this is? Do I need to remind all of you what happened during the 2000 election? Because of personal issues between Gore and (Bill) Clinton, Gore wasn’t able to solidify the Democratic voting base. Ralph Nader was able to siphon just enough votes away from away from Gore making it easier for the Republicans to steal the election thus putting us in this socio-political quagmire we’re currently burdened with.
Again, we need to come together as a party if we want to not only reclaim our government, not just save our country, but potentially save this world we live on!!! It’s great to get excited over your choice of candidate, but let’s not do it at the expense of “the other guy.” As for me, I’ll be happy regardless of who gets the Democratic nomination because I feel that both of them have plenty to offer and can be good for our country.
1-13-08: A few days ago I heard an interview with a man named Scott Hall who had founded an organization called the “Gay American Heroes Foundation.” Its purpose is to remember the many members of the GLBT community who have been taken from us through the hateful actions of others.
We all remember Matthew Shepherd (and we should!), but there have been many more victims that we are not aware of and the purpose of this foundation is to remember them and to stop the hate.
Please click on the banner below, visit their website and see what they have to say. If you’re moved as much as I was then please do what you can, not just for the sake of the surviving families and friends, but for our own community and possibly even the world.
1-10-08: Two quick announcements. First, as you can see from looking below I have removed all of the news items and announcements from 2007 and placed them in the "2007 Archived Announcements" page.
Second, I just realized that my page of links was not available. Not only did I put it online, but it gave me an opportunity to update it a bit and make sure that all of the links were properly working.
1-3-08: [I wrote this blog while I was at work today, so if it seems a bit rushed and strangely composed you’ll know why!]
While listening to Howard Stern today I heard an interview with Stephen Baldwin. For those who don’t know who he is he is (I believe) the youngest of the famous Baldwin Brothers whose most famous member is brother Alec. Stephen has done several B films and raunchy comedies, but recently did something of an about face and became and born-again Christian. This phone interview was the first time Stephen had talked to Howard since his conversion and Howard (who professes to be something of an Athiest) really wanted to figure out what was going on in Stephen’s head. It was during this phone conversation when the subject of gay marriage came up. What was astonishing is that Stephen said that the Bible speaks out against gay marriage therefore he opposed it. Why this was astonishing is that really the only perceived anti-homosexual passages are in the Old Testament (it actually doesn't, but that's where the majority of anti-homosexual sentiment stems from) while the New Testament really doesn't speak out against it whatsoever (I'll challenge anyone who doesn't believe me). When the subject of masturbation came up it was mentioned that "spilling one's seed" was considered a sin. Stephen responded that it didn't count because it's not in the New Testament. Howard final analysis on this interview was that Stephen really didn't believe any of these things that he was saying.
I'm also sure that there are people who also feel that Stephen, and others like him, are hypocritical. I'll go so far as to say that he really does believe what he's saying, but he's caught up in a situation where "the blind is leading the blind," basically being spoon fed religious nonsense and accepting it all at face value. I have said on many occasions that when it comes to studying the Bible that it must be done with a completely open mind, that if you want to fully understand the text it is necessary to understand the culture of that time. Only then will people start to understand why Biblical passages were written in the manner that they were. Just because the Bible is a God-inspired book doesn't mean that everyone suddenly wrote in with God's voice. All of the authors spoke with their own voices and in their own styles. All one must do is look at the different ways each book of the Bible is written, not just in the grammatical structure, but in the use of words and verbal imagery. This only proves that each person wrote on what he (or she) saw and how everything around them was perceived. The Gospel according to John doesn't read like any of the other three gospels. Titus doesn't read Isaiah. Hebrews doesn't read like 1st and 2nd Peter. Romans doesn't read like Acts, and Revelations doesn't read like anything else in the Bible! The passages are inspired, but each author revealed the truth in his or her own words, and such writings are colored by the culture and understanding of the time.
God gave us a brain and intellect. God also gave us an inquiring mind so that we can search out truths for ourselves. The people who believe much of this fundamentalist nonsense aren't evil people. They are slaves to a lie that has been passed down over the last 50+ years, and when a lie is repeated enough times it becomes truth to the minds of anyone who is willing to listen. Such people who believe these falsehoods are not to be rebuked, but rather we should show compassion and understanding. I believe that is what Christ would want us to do. Then we'll be in a position to help point them towards the truth. It will then be up to those individuals to decide to either walk towards the truth and learn for themselves, or to turn away from it and to hold on to the lies that they have been told by others. The choice is theirs.
"Let your [the] light [of Christ] so shine before all that they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven."
...people have visited this web site since May 17, 1997!!!