Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Arizona

John Stewart cannot thank you enough for all material.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Arizona - land of the lunatic fringe and a governor appointed by God

Well she did it. Arizona governor Jan Brewer spent the night praying to the God she claims put her in office. And guess what? He told her to go ahead and sign Arizona Senator Russell Pearce's extremely odious anti-immigrant bill into law -- so she did. Cuz what God and Sheriff Joe want, God and Sheriff Joe get.

Boy oh boy what a busy little soldier our accidental governor is. With our former Arizona governor, Janet Napolitano, barely out the door and on her way to Washington DC, our new God-anointed governor got to work immediately. There was so much to do: she had health care and other benefits to strip from domestic partners and dependents of gay and lesbian state employees, she had weak gun laws she needed to water down into non-existence, and a state full of women who are not smart enough to make decisions about their own bodies without the moral guidance of our legislature and her.

Is it any wonder Arizona, under governor Jan Brewer's guidance, is no longer considered the Grand Canyon state, but a wingnut paradise? And who can be surprised that global commentary about Arizona includes phrases like “nuttiest legislative body,” “America’s dumbest state,” and “blazing a trail into the fringe”. Good Lord in heaven, with her proven track record as a rubber stamp for the most ludicrous legislation a wingnut can dream of, I wouldn't be surprised if our illustrious and equally bat-sh*t crazy, legislature were now working on some kind of "Birther Bill".

Oh wait! Too late. There already is one:

Representative Judy Burges is at it again.

The Skull Valley Republican, who's introduced such laughable legislation as the "I didn't pay enough fund," which asks taxpayers to donate money to the state to help Arizona out of it's current financial nightmare, has introduced a new bill that feeds the controversial fire about whether Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen.

Burges has introduced House Bill 2441, which would require a presidential candidate to prove his or her citizenship before being included on the ballot in Arizona.

So if you like a state that is more than happy to:

Then this is the state for you!

But hey, the upside is we provide plenty of material for late night comedians:

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Monday, April 19, 2010

If only ...

My husband and I are in Washington D.C. right now visiting one of our sons. We are getting ready to leave today to go home, but I wanted to post this picture before packing up the laptop.

This has been an amazing trip, full of sightseeing, eating, and drinking. And on one of our brief respites from the walking and touring, our son treated us to one of his favorite haunts, which has one of the most unbelievable beer menus I have ever seen.

So imagine my surprise when I finally looked up from this overwhelming menu and saw this beautiful church out the window of the saloon. It truly was a wonderful sight to behold. I just had run outside to take a picture.

If only all churches could be so welcoming and Jesus-like... Share

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is there something in the water in Itawamba, Mississippi?

I am really late to this conversation, but I needed some extra time to really wrap my mind around a story that just seemed to get uglier and more depressing with each iteration of reporting. The story I am talking about is that of Itawamba Agricultural High School student Constance McMillen. To refresh the memories of those who have blocked it out for sanity's sake, Constance wanted to attend her high school's prom wearing a tuxedo and take her girlfriend as
her prom date. But because this was about a teenage lesbian in the deep south daring to ask to take someone she cares about, the story quickly grew legs when the school administrators to whom Constance made her request didn't exactly come back with the response she was hoping for:
Jackson, Miss. (CBS/AP) When Constance McMillen fought the law, the law canceled the fight.

With the backing of the ACLU, McMillen fought an Itawamba County school board to be able to take her lesbian partner and wear a tuxedo to the Itawamba County Agricultural High School prom, in the small town of Itawamba, Miss. about 20 miles east of Tupelo.

The school board responded Wednesday by announcing they were canceling the entire prom, scheduled for April 2.

Like so many others around the country and the world who watched this story unfold, I was both taken aback by the bravery of this young girl and completely dismayed by the school officials' spineless decision to cancel the prom rather than deal with the issue. But then, just when I thought the story could not get any more depressing, the school officials, not content to simply go down in history for their moronic over-the-top reaction, decided to make themselves look even more rediculous and cowardly by diverting the blame for canceling the prom from themselves and placing it squarely on the shoulders of this 18 year-old student. If the goal of these school administrators was to bring out the ugliest and worst in their student body, I'd say they succeeded swimmingly. Constance became the school goat:

A Feb. 5 memo to students laid out the criteria for bringing a date to the prom, and one requirement was that the person must be of the opposite sex. [...]

McMillen almost didn't return to school Thursday for fear of retribution by her classmates who had just lost their prom because of her.

Many of the students did blame Constance, some even going so far as to tell her that she ruined their Senior year. Now for anybody with even the slightest memory of their high school years, I can think of few other things that would have traumatized a kid more than to be blamed by their fellow classmates for ruining their senior year.

I felt such sadness and admiration for this little girl. I can say, without a doubt, that I would never have had the kind of courage at that age that Constance displayed throughout this ordeal. My only goal at that age was to blend in and not stand out in any way that would have drawn attention to myself. And if I had been gay, I would have blended into the woodwork and suffered horrendously, but silently. And if by some remote chance I'd done something that made me fall from grace with any of my peers I would have prayed for a quick and painless death, the idea of returning to school with my head held high as Constance did would have never ever been an option for me. Watching this little girl march on with grace and grit has left me both awestruck and proud.

But then, to my absolute horror, this little town (yes, as the story grew, so did the mob willing to show their heartless, heathen side), which at this point knew they were now under the national microscope, collectively dug in their heels and took the story to an even uglier and more cruel level. And I must admit that this is where the story really shook me to my core:

To prevent Constance McMillen from bringing a female date to her prom, the teen was sent to a "fake prom" while the rest of her class partied at a secret location at an event organized by parents.

McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn't much to keep an eye on.

"They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them," McMillen says. "The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to."

Shocking huh? Well just wait, the story just keeps getting uglier. These kids had not hurt Constance enough so they found a way to digitally announce to the world that they were a bunch of heartless bullies and jerks by creating a facebook page called "Constance quit yer cryin." And boy what a walk through the swamps that turned out to be (seriously consider clicking over and reading this in its entirety, it is truly beyond belief:

JACKSON, Miss. (CBS) Apparently humiliating Constance McMillen, the lesbian teen who wanted to take her girlfriend to the prom, by sending her to a decoy prom while her classmates partied elsewhere, wasn't enough for some of her fellow students. Irate over having their original prom canceled - and blaming Constance - they started a facebook page called "Constance quit yer cryin."

While many of the early posts have been pulled by their authors, a few websites seem to have been able to grab them before they disappeared. The first post reportedly read "Seriously, you've pretty much eff'd up your fellow classmate's best memory of High School."

For me, this is the point in which I sunk into a deep depression and began to question everything I believed in. This story stripped almost every bit of the hope I had in this "next generation". I kept asking myself how could I have been so naive? I actually believed that it would be these kids, coming of age right now, that were going to save us from the stupidity and hateful descrimination that has defined so many within my own generation and the generations before mine and expose us for the knuckle-dragging neanderthals so many of us have been.

Oh my God, do I ever feel like a dumb sh*t. Not only were these kids more than happy to side with their school administrators and gang up on one of their own classmates, but they were actually willing to wear the label of knuckle-dragging neanderthals as a badge of honor. They felt zero shame and actually seemed to revel in the spotlight of the national media while doing it. And worse yet, the more attention they got from the outside world, the more shocking and mean their behavior got.

And then there were the parents! What the hell was wrong with them?? We all know kids can be very cruel, but I always believed it was our job as parents to use these situations as opportunities to teach our kids how to be civil human beings and decent members of society. But I guess the rules are different in this little southern town. These parents actually jumped in and joined their children in the bullying! These parents actually helped plan this fake prom and execute this vicious hoax their precious little darlings were planning against their own classmate.

I simply cannot believe that not one parent asked themselves how they would feel if this had been their child singled out for such cruelty. And my mind just reels at the thought that there was not one single parent among them who had a gut-check moment or even a fleeting nano-second of doubt about the decision to go through with this hideous fake prom idea. And yet, I'll bet that most of these petty small-minded people so involved in this travesty consider themselves to be good Christians who never miss a Sunday church service with their behinds planted firmly on a church bench, basking in the glory of their own self-righteousness. But not one of them even stopped and asked themselves if their complicity in treating this teenager like a pariah would have been something Jesus would do?

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that none of these parents ever read a newspaper or listen to the news because if they did, maybe one of them would have thought about another little teenager who was the recent victim of a heartless mob. Her name was Phoebe Prince and she killed herself last January leaving behind a whole lot of people who will forever wish that they'd had the courage to do the right thing and defend the victim rather than join the mob of tormentors.

Apparently, the parents handbook the rest of us follow to raise our kids is different than the one they use in Itawamba, Mississippi, or maybe it really is something in the water.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Another thank you to Arizona Republic's Benson


Ending my estrangement with one of my brothers - A complete fail

Note: this is the 3rd and FINAL post I will write about my brother and his reaction to learning one of my sons is gay. There will be no more posts on this subject after this. Part one can be read here. And part two can be read here.

I have been in a real funk lately. I've been vacillating between seething anger and reeling disbelief. Anger that my brother could actually think anyone would even care what the hell he deems moral or immoral and disbelief that he'd believe he has the moral high ground to stand in judgment of others after the way he has conducted a major portion of his own life.

I am quite taken aback by the ferocity of the emotions I am feeling right now. This is my brother for God's sake. And I have always been there for him, even when he'd lost his drivers license and couldn't make the daily 100 mile round-trip drive to jail to serve his month-long sentence for yet another DUI. And I not only showed up to drive him, but I provided the shoulder he cried on every single day, and a warm dinner all packaged and ready for him to eat while wailing about his out-of-control life. And mind you, I had 3 small children at the time so that huge chunk out of my day was quite the burden on me and my family. But I did that and so much more without complaint, without expectation of anything from him, and certainly without judging or condemning him.

I have no regrets about being there for him and I'd do it again if I had to, but I must confess that it does make the way this brother has reacted to the news about our son all the more hurtful and ugly. The feelings of betrayal, disgust and downright contempt for him are overwhelming right now. I am not sure whether I will ever be able forgive him.

I could just kick myself. I certainly had a pretty good suspicion deep down in my heart this brother was going to react the way he did when he found out I had a gay son (which is why it took me 7 years to tell him), but I guess I thought he'd at least show the same compassion we showed him when he was at some of the lowest points in his life. And at the very least I thought he would have the decency not to judge our son --- just as we had not judged him.

I have given this a lot of thought lately and now that I have had the time to think things through, I realize that it was me that was the idiot, not him. How on earth could I have thought that this brother would have reacted in any way other than the way he did? The signs were all there. He found the perfect way to escape any accountability for all the terrible choices he'd made in his own life. He "found God", declared Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior, and conveniently excused himself from any feelings of remorse, guilt, or the obligation to make amends to the many people he'd hurt throughout his life. But
probably worst of all, he skipped the opportunity to do the serious introspection and soul-searching that keeps one humble and in touch with their own humanness and fallibility and proceeded on to becoming an arrogant judgmental man who could, years later, sit in a car with me (again) and tell me he was going to heaven, but my son was not.

It just boggles my mind. For well over half of my 49 year-old brother's life he made the horrible life-style choice to abuse alcohol and be a supremely selfish, self-absorbed man who never ever looked at how his actions were affecting others. He never gave any thought to the innocent people he could hurt or kill when he'd make the choice to drive while under the influence. He never considered how damaging it might be for his little girls or his nephews and nieces to see him abusing alcohol. And he certainly never sought forgiveness from those who put up with his drinking all those years. And yet, he never missed an opportunity to tell anyone who'd listen how everyone else's actions affected him. The prism through which he viewed the world allowed but one perspective and that was with him as the eternal victim.

So why the hell am I surprised by his reaction to finding out he has a gay nephew? His response should not have felt like a sucker-punch to the gut, but it did. I absolutely should have known what was coming. But no, there I sat, like the world's biggest fool, trapped in a car with him, listening to his holier-than-thou schtick about loving the sinner, but hating the sin while completely forgetting his own past full of ugly life-style choices, and dare-I-say, sins. It was simply surreal listening to this brother tell me my son was going to hell for the "sin" of loving someone that did not meet his approval, but even more surreal was hearing him tell me to keep our son away from him and his family should he have someone with him. But I guess that is silly of me to expect that this brother would be capable of knowing how that would feel, after all, we never chose to shun him or tell him to stay away from our family when he was making some of the worst decisions of his life. Share