Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As my family comes together for Thanksgiving, it is hard not to think of families like the Wilfahrts

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. For most of us, it is a day for families to come together, celebrate, and be thankful. But for some families, it is a sad day which only serves to magnify the pain and loss of a beloved family member.

There is one family in particular I'd like to honor and thank for their unwavering support of the lgbt community and its allies and that is the family of Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, an openly gay soldier killed last February in Kandahar at the age of 31.

Andrew was an amazing son, brother, and soldier. His death left a huge hole in the lives of everyone he touched. And yet, in spite of their loss and with wounds still so raw and paralyzing, Andrew's parents, Jeff and Lori, have chosen to continue the fight for the rights their son was denied simply because he was gay. They have chosen to continue the fight for the rights and dignity of my son and the lgbt sons and daughters of millions of other parents. For this momma, there is no greater gift.  

So this Thanksgiving I want to honor and thank the Wilfahrt family for selflessly continuing to fight for rights their son never got to enjoy. There simply are no words to describe the magnitude of what they are doing.

Thank you Jeff and Lori.


Monday, November 21, 2011

At what point does extreme homophobia cross over to mental illness?


Homeless LGBT kids at crisis levels

From NPR today:
A number of studies of homeless youth in big cities put forth a startling statistic: Depending on the study, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
It's largely because gay youths are more often kicked out of their homes than straight youths. And even if they are not kicked out, they may feel so uncomfortable that they leave.
In New York City, nearly 4,000 young people are homeless every night — many of them gay.
In New York city alone there are 3800 homeless kids on the street and only 250 beds to offer them. And according to AMERICAblog Gay even that piddly number of beds was being threatened by a budget deal which threatened to cut 100 of those beds. Truly horrific.

And as someone who has seen up close and personal the cruelty inflicted on gay kids in the name of "Christianity" (through my experiences at PFLAG and in my own family), I can only assume that a good number of these lgbt kids are discarded like trash by their families because it conflicts with their parents' so-called "good" Christian values. From NPR again:

Carl Siciliano is the founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center, which he describes as the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. When he started the center almost 10 years ago, he says, "kids were dying in the streets; there was no shelter for gay youth; every couple of months, I would know someone who was murdered in the streets."
In the beginning, Siciliano's goal was just keeping kids safe. But as the years have gone on, he says, "it has become clear to me that we are living in a societal moment, where kids are coming out at younger and younger ages, and there are so many parents who can't be parents to their gay kids. They can't cope, they can't deal with it, their religion is in conflict with the reality of their kids' lives, and these kids are getting thrown away."
Here is a video clip titled,  A Day in Our Shoes - Homeless LGBT Youth:

I don't know what the solution to this horrendous problem is, but I suspect so many of these "good" Christian churches could play a big role in helping to fix it. Sadly the will just does not seem to be there.

"I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay"

Powerful, powerful, powerful!

You must read these two posts, in this order:   First this.   Then this.

And then, if you have a blog, please think about posting both these links. If you have a Facebook page or Twitter account- same deal. If you don't have any of these things, put ink in the printer and start printing or just open your mouth and start talking. These two posts are that important and that powerful. In fact this is soo important, I am seriously thinking about sending these posts to my "good" Christian brother and his "good" Christian wife, although I won't hold my breath while waiting for any miraculous epiphanies ...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Unhate Campaign - The film

There is a lot going on in my life right now and unfortunately when that happens, it is this blog that gets neglected. I don't see much down time for the next few weeks, but I will try and sneak a post in here and there when I can. In the meantime, let me offer you this cool little clip from Benetton's Latest Campaign, which has managed to get the prissy little men in the Vatican so angry they are threatening to sue (over a picture of the pope kissing a Muslim leader).


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Michigan state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is not letting Republicans get away with "creating a blueprint for bullying"

This is a follow up to a post I wrote last week about "Matt's Safe School Law", which passed 26-11 with no (that's zero) Democrats voting for the anti-bullying bill. Why? Because the bill, named for Matt Eppling, a 14-year-old who committed suicide after being bullied by classmates in 2002, was changed to allow expression of religious or moral beliefs, basically giving a free pass to people who bully gay children in the name of God (yes, this is supposed to sound as hideous as it does).

Here is a great YouTube clip of  Michigan's Children (led by Sen. Gretchen Whitmer) Speaking Out Against this Republican Pro-Bullying Legislation:


Monday, November 07, 2011

Dear 6th District of Minnesota

Please, please spare yourself any more embarrassment and throw this pitiful, loathsome idiot out of office. The only way people like Michele Bachmann can even begin to comprehend someone else's pain is if they are feeling that pain themselves. So if this pitiful, sorry excuse of a congress woman and "representative" of the people cannot grasp the concept that one's unemployment status has jack-shit to do with one's work ethic --- especially in this Republican-caused recession, then she is not fit to hold office.

Please District 6, let Michele get a taste of unemployment - up close and personal - and maybe, just maybe, she will think twice before going in front of a CNN camera again and telling a country full of people who have lost their jobs, lost their savings, lost their homes, lost their health insurance, and lost all hope of ever achieving the American dream that if they do not work they do not get to eat.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

Awwwww - this is so lovely

Via JMG:  Conan Marries Two Gay Men


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Michigan- what the hell is up with you?

I just wrote a post this morning about about the Michigan Senate Republicans passing an anti-bullying bill that they had gutted and essentially made into a blueprint for bullying. It passed 26-11 with all the Democrats voting against it. It basically paves the way for those who bully the right kids (read: gay or perceived gay) to receive a get-out-of-jail-free pass with the Republican seal of approval stamped on it.

And now I am reading that the Michigan House of Representatives approved a bill, House bill 4770, in September that will strip domestic partner benefits for state employees —including staff at Michigan’s 15 public universities. Causing a big worry, according to the article,  that this will cause a "mass exodus" (brain-drain) of professors and other valuable employees if passed in the Senate where it is currently under consideration:

U-M Latin professor Sara Ahbel-Rappe said that if bill 4770 passes there will likely be a large exodus of professors who leave the university.
“It’s a total slap in the face. It tells me that I don’t deserve the same consideration” as heterosexual couples, she said. “People will leave.”
Ahbel-Rappe and six other professors authored a letter to Gov. Rick Synder asking him not to sign bill 4770 if passed by the senate. The letter calls the bill discriminatory and says it will negatively affect staff recruitment at the university.

So as a parent of 3 college students myself, one of them gay, I can tell you in no uncertain terms, University of  Michigan and any other state university in Michigan that would be affected by this bill would be immediately removed from the list of schools my kids would be considering. And we foot the bill, so yes, we have a say-so.

And I say this with a lot of certainty because when we found out our son, Michael, was gay, we happened to be right in the middle of figuring out which schools he was going to apply to for college. Once we learned Michael was gay, some schools came off that list, and others got added. And this was not just for Michael. It applied to our other children as well. We don't spend money on any organization that is discriminatory or homophobic. And we'll try damn hard not to spend money in any state that legislates which of its citizens are treated with dignity and respect and which are just plum out of luck (hello Michigan).  Not one red cent!

So what was our criteria for picking worthy universities? Well first and foremost, safety. That was nonnegotiable and I can tell you right now, this anti-bullying law the Michigan state senate Republicans just passed would have been a deal-breaker, no question about it. Secondly, good professors and teaching environment. And this discriminatory bill 4770 under consideration by the Michigan Senate and already approved by the Michigan House would also have been a deal-breaker, no question about it.  And lastly, a progressive state that treats everyone with dignity and respect, which immediately rules out Michigan because of criteria one and criteria two.

So too bad Michigan. You elect homophobes and bigots to your state government and guess what happens? You Lose.


And there is no shortage of anti-gay hate going on in my beloved Minnesota either

Oh my, where to start....

First up on the MN anti-gay haters and shakers' agenda:

Minnesota For Marriage Announces Drive For Five!:  
This campaign asks each person to obtain five pledges to support the ban in order to be considered for a prize drawing. Drawing winners will receive a $100 Visa gift card. The drawing will be held daily through the month of November.
Is it legal? Possibly. These organizations have gotten quite good at slithering close to, but not quite breaking laws in order to achieve their bigoted, hateful goals. But regardless, it is worth asking, and many bloggers are.

But here is the Minnesota state statute so you can decide:
Bribery, advancing money, and treating prohibited. A person who willfully, directly or indirectly, advances, pays, gives, promises, or lends any money, food, liquor, clothing, entertainment, or other thing of monetary value, or who offers, promises, or endeavors to obtain any money, position, appointment, employment, or other valuable consideration, to or for a person, in order to induce a voter to refrain from voting, or to vote in a particular way, at an election, is guilty of a felony. This section does not prevent a candidate from stating publicly preference for or support of another candidate to be voted for at the same primary or election. Refreshments of food or nonalcoholic beverages having a value up to $5 consumed on the premises at a private gathering or public meeting are not prohibited under this section.
Here is Minnesota For Marriage's Facebook profile (click the link to get a clearer look):

Facebook Profile

Next up on the MN anti-gay haters and shakers' agenda:

Bachmann, Kline send letter to Senate to block gay soldiers from using military facilities:
Reps. Michele Bachmann and John Kline were among the signers of a letter to the U.S. Senate urging that body to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit gay members of America’s Armed Forces from using military facilities for marriage ceremonies.
Well no surprises here. Because as we all know, Michelle Bachmann has built her political career on pure unadulterated gay hatred and homophobia. And she is banking on all that pure unadulterated gay hatred and homophobia to take her all the way to the White House.  So why should we be surprised that the most honorable odious Michelle Bachmann would be first in line to strip rights from honorable gay and lesbian military members who fight for her right to be an ignorant, hateful homophobe?

And last up on the MN anti-gay haters and shakers' agenda (mainly because my stomach can't take any more):

NOM brings high-powered tea party lawyer to Minnesota in marriage ballot disclosure battle:

The National Organization for Marriage has tapped tea party attorney Cleta Mitchell as the organization’s Minnesota lobbyist during the state’s contentious 2012 battle over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Mitchell’s expertise is in campaign finance law and Minnesota for Marriage—of which NOM is a member—has already announced plans to challenge Minnesota’s finance law surrounding ballot initiatives.

I guess the possibility that donor names might be exposed is causing many of God's "loving" Christians to quake in their little bootsies. But rather than looking to the Almighty for protection, they are bringing in a Tea Party big gun attorney instead. JMG has more:
Mitchell has already written a letter to Minnesota's election board in which she claims that rabid homofascists will physically attack innocent Christians should their anti-gay donations be made public. Mitchell: "This regulatory scheme is unlawful, is not constitutionally sound, threatens NOM members, donors and supporters with personal injury and harm and the Board should cease immediately its efforts to rewrite Minnesota law to achieve this unlawful purpose."
A big thank you to Jeff Wifahrt for alerting me to all this MN anti-gay ugliness.

Related stories:
"Andrew’s Round Table" aims to defeat MN marriage amendment
DADT Cannot End Soon Enough!
Of loaves and fishes by Jeff Wilfahrt
Dear Minnesota,


A Republican's license to bully: "Matt's Safe School Law" gutted

 I am sickened. I am filled with rage. I am shaking so badly I can hardly type. Just when I think Republicans cannot go any lower or be any more putrid, I am smacked in the face with yet another example of just how bankrupt of morals, decency, and compassion this party is. Will I ever learn?   

This morning's shining example of Republican vileness comes from the state of Michigan, where state Republicans senators prove yet again, they have no problem with a dead kid or two or three or ten, if they are gay or even perceived to be gay. Protecting our glbt children is NOT on their list of priorities, but protecting the bullies who beat the sh*t out of them, is. 

There is though, a hero in this story and I am posting a clip at the end of this post (I need something to take some of the stench out of this post). It is an emotional speech given by Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer who stands up and calls out the Republican slimebags who gutted the "anti-bullying bill" meant to save children (gay or straight), but in her words, actually created a blueprint for bullying them (or at least the ones who might be gay):

From The Detroit News:
Lansing— The Michigan Senate passed an anti-bullying bill Wednesday over strong objections from Democrats and even the father of the bullying victim after whom the bill is named.
"Matt's Safe School Law" passed 26-11 with all Democrats voting against it. The bill is named for Matt Eppling, an East Lansing 14-year-old who committed suicide after being bullied by classmates in 2002.
The law includes a section noting it doesn't abridge First Amendment free speech rights or prohibit expression of religious or moral viewpoints — a provision Democrats fear could be used to justify harassment of gay, lesbian or transgender students.
"I am ashamed that this could be Michigan's bill on anti-bullying when in fact it is a 'bullying is OK in Michigan law,'" Kevin Eppling, Matt's father, whose letter was read by Sen. Glenn Anderson during Wednesday's session.
And here is clip of Senator Gretchen Whitmer shining the spotlight on her fellow Republican colleagues true intentions:


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

I wish coming out were always as easy as this

This morning I had a phone conversation I was dreading with my ex-sister-in-law (originally from Alabama but transplanted to California after she married one of my 4 brothers and then here to Arizona after she divorced him). She and my brother have and share custody of an adorable and very bright 8-year old little girl. And she is spending this weekend with us, splitting her time between my mom's house and ours. I've been looking forward to it, but I was also starting to worry about some potential problems as well.

Our gay son is also in town and staying with us. He is doing some post-graduate work and will need to live here in Arizona for about 6 or 7 months to complete the program he is in. And of course this has meant he had to temporarily leave his boyfriend and his home, both in California, in order to get this done, an inconvenience they agreed they'd soften by alternating visits on days off.

Yesterday my son mentioned that his boyfriend has a 4 day weekend this weekend and would be coming to Arizona for their first visit. Now ordinarily I would not even give this a second thought, but I had not yet gotten around to telling my ex-sister-in-law that my son is gay. And despite my brother's assurances that his ex-wife would be fine with their little girl being around my son and his boyfriend, I still had a nagging little worry that this could present a problem for her. After all, I had already had one brother (my homophobic evangelical brother) tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I was NOT to bring my gay son and any boyfriend he might have around him or his family, which also includes an adorable 8-year old little girl. So I admit, I was a bit skittish about telling my ex-sister-in-law about my son being gay and his boyfriend's coinciding visit - hey - once bitten, twice shy as they say.

Well I worried for nothing. Telling her was a non-event. Not even a blip on the radar. And she said it would not be an issue for her daughter either. They have numerous gay friends, including a gay couple they visit and stay with in San Diego. The conversation could not have gone better and I started feeling badly that I had anticipated trouble -- partly because she was from Alabama and partly because of my other brother's nasty reaction.

Shame on me for not giving her the benefit of the doubt - lesson learned.

But the most delightful part of this story came in an email I got from my ex-sister-in-law a few minutes ago. She wanted to let me know that she spoke to her daughter and told her that her cousin Michael and his boyfriend Kyle would also be there when she came to visit. And her response was a question: "okay, are they called gay?" to which her mother said yes. She then followed that up with another question: "so what do we call opposite gender couples?" (and yes, she said "opposite gender" and not "opposite sex" when she asked the question - smart huh?) Simple curiosity, followed by thoughtful questions, followed by thoughtful answers. No horror, no drama, no damage, no fear. This will be a child prepared for a world full of diversity and wonder.

It all goes to show you, children are very adaptable. They are born without bias or phobias. It is we adults who instill our bigotry and hate in them. And I am very grateful, and a lot ashamed, that I so misjudged my ex-sister-in-law in such a big way.

Below is a clip that this whole incident reminded me of. And it is further proof that children will not break or be freaked out if they are exposed to deviations from societal norms: