Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Don We Now (you know where I'm going with this)

With Christmas coming up, I want to give myself the gift of rambling.

First, I still believe in the spirit of our highly-commercialized and pagan-festival-orientated holiday. Puritans outlawed it for having nothing to do with the birth of Christ, but we don't have any great indication of when that happened exactly, so why not now? Why not celebrate during the winter solstice, when the world (or at least our hemisphere of it) is at its darkest, acknowledge and hold up light, goodness, and love. Christ was and is about reconciling people to God - and, yes, Virginia, I do believe in God, and showing them how much they are loved. Not condemned, not hated, not excluded, not marginalized.

And I believe in the transformative power of God's love (along with action on our part) to change the hearts and minds of those who want to practice (and legalize) their bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance. I'm tempted to fully elaborate my "darkest before the dawn / light in darkness" allegory to the currrent state of all things gay in America, but I won't, as my holiday gift to you.

Christmas carols - I love them, but rarely the ones I love the most. They're all great except Jingle Bell Rock which must be pre-programmed to play just as I turn on the radio. But my very, very favorites are rarely heard.

Good King Wenceslas

Do You Hear What I Hear

We Three Kings

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

I just realized my top three carols all involve kings - queen envy perhaps?

And what tops my Christmas list this year, he says in full-commercialized, pagan-holiday reborn mode?

Planet Simpson

The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things

The Ultimate Matrix Collection

The Art of the Incredibles

Looney Tunes Vol 2 DVD


The Complete Far Side

The True History of Chocolate


All of that just for a peek inside my twisted little mind, not so that you'll go to Amazon and look up my wish list and order me something. No really. Aww, you shouldn't have.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Heaven Help Us

The following news item (found on 365gay.com) fills me with complete dread:

(Atlanta, Georgia) Thousands of African Americans marched Saturday to denounce same-sex marriage, invoking the name of slain civil rights leader martin Luther King to the anger of many gays and lesbians.

The march was organized by Bishop Eddie Long whose New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is one of the biggest black churches in the country.

The unofficial parade count was set at 15,000.

The church's website called the march a rally for traditional marriage and proclaims marriage between one man and one woman must be protected. Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage.

Standing with him at the King Center was Bernice King, one of King's daughters who is an elder in Long's church. Bernice King lit a torch at her father's grave and passed it on to Long, who carried it through the march. "I believe this day will go down in the history books as the greatest showing of Christ and His kingdom in this century," she said, calling Long and her father prophets.

Her participation in the rally and march illustrated the deep divisions both within the black community and the King over same-sex marriage. Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, has said on a number of occasions that her husband would have supported gay marriage.
"A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages," she said during a speech last March at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Today's march also angered gay civil rights leaders who accused Long of hijacking Dr King's memory.

The National Black Justice Coalition, the country's only national gay black organization, issued a statement prior to the march calling it "a slap in the face to the legacy of Dr. King." (story)

"Dr. King said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, but Bishop Long seems to think that injustice against gays and lesbians is perfectly fine," said NBJC Board president Keith Boykin.

Boykin also noted that one of King's closest advisers, Bayard Rustin, was an openly gay man.

I am deeply thankful of the stance that Mrs. Coretta Scott has taken in regards to gay marriage. I am embarrassed for Dr. and Mrs. King that their daughter does not share her parents' view of equality for all Americans.

Although I loathe the intolerance and hatred of all Christians regarding gays, I am especially troubled by this perspective by black Christians. It is both ignorant and hypocritical. Any black person coming out against gay rights is effectively announcing that we are not entitled to the same rights he/she acquired. It's a selfish attitude: I have mine and I won't share. It belittles the huge contribution of Bayard Rustin to black civil rights. Mr. Rustin was a close advisor to Dr. King. He would willingly hide in a car if he was riding with Dr. King because others felt uncomfortable with him being a known homosexual. He sacrificed his own self-worth and identity so a movement would prosper. Black civil rights could not have happened without white/majority allies, yet these men and women will not be allies for those in a different minority. These are small, selfish, deeply bigoted people.

It is a monumental display of ignorance. Black Christians who would use the Bible against homosexuals should remember that the Bible was used to justify slavery and prohibitions against black civil rights and interracial marriage. Fearful and hateful white people twisted the Bible to use it as a weapon against you and now you take this rifle, passed on to you from other bigots, and hold it to the temple of gay civil rights.

This is ignorance of what the Bible truly says about gays and gay marriage. It is ignorance of the revelations God continues to give us about His Word and how to use it for modern times. Women may now speak in church, slavery is not acceptible, and the only law we are bound to is the Law of Love.

It is fantastically ignorant of the fact that your rights are untouchable. Black people had to fight hard to gain them, but they are hardly secure. There are those in power who would happily rob you of them right from under your nose. It will start with gays, but it will creep into the black community through limiting the rights of black muslims and continue through other "dissident" groups. All Americans' rights have already been infringed upon by the Patriot Act; a minority group's rights are even more unstable and unsure.

It is this shameful ignornace that recalls another minister, whose words are often repeated, but cannot be heard enough:

"When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church -- and there was nobody left to be concerned. "

Pastor Martin Niemoller , survivor of the Nazi Holocaust.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ape Nation

Warren Ellis, a writer of some of the best comic books you can read today (and if you're not reading comic books, you should be - get over the Bam! Pow! Whap! stereotype - some of the best art can be found in comics today) sent this today over his mailing list "Bad Signal" (Warren is a Brit, btw):

I think it was after [the second Presidential debate] that some BushPR handler went off at a journalist, claiming that people out in the great Heartland of America were going for Bush because, quote, "they like the way he walks, they like the way he talks, they like the way he points to things." That weird alpha-monkey gait of his, with the palms facing backwards and the squared shoulders, is actually an ape-community tell denoting the leader.

Seriously.Clear Channel, the monolithic radio entity over there, has just bought in Fox as their news provider. Fox, of which I've had only the briefest of tastes, seems to me to be basically a right-wing den of liars. It's no wonder Air America are hysterical -- the right wing have sold the idea that the media is liberal and that their voice is the underdog. Meanwhile, you need to sacrifice a goat and pray for a strong north wind to be able to receive Air America in much ofthe country. And when left-wing thought does break wide, as in the works of Michael Moore -- well, that just proves the media is liberal, right?

Can the American right wing really be damned for learning how to play the game better than the left? When the Liberal Voice is making it this easy for them? Ann Coulter may be Crazy and Evil, but she's funny.People are currently up in arms over her comments about Canada, but, you know, she's on TV. She's paid to be a dancing monkey. You want people to pay less attention to her? Dance better.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Common Cents

There's still hope even in the wilderness...

From 365gay.com

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signed an Executive Order prohibiting employment discrimination against gay and lesbian state government employees. The Order also requires any business contracting with the state to have a non-discrimination policy covering their lesbian and gay workers.
The order is almost identical to the one signed by Governor Edwin Edwards at the beginning of his last term, but also includes harassment.

The order bans harassment and discrimination on the part of supervisors in their dealings with state workers. It also applies to state employees in their dealings with residents seeking benefits or services from the state.
"Because her order includes state service contracts, it reaches into the private sector, thereby protecting even more minority citizens from employment discrimination," said Christopher Daigle, a spokesperson for Equality Louisiana.

Must Not-See TV

And following ABC's unnecessary and insulting piece on Matthew Shepard's murder, follows CBS and NBC with their own particular pandering to the Religious Right.

These bozos are refusing to run an add by the United Church of Christ (not to be confused with the fundamentalist protestant denomination Church of Christ) that shows gays, a black woman, a hispanic man and other minority groups being turned away by two bouncers at church doors while a white traditional family is let through. The add then continues "Jesus didn't turn away people. Neither do we." You can view the video here.

NBC refuses to air based on no airing controversial ads. Suggesting that some churches don't include some populations is apparently a dangerous and radical message.

CBS allegedly told the UCC that "[b]ecause this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast." CBS now refuses to comment on whether they actual said this or not, although they confirm the ad banned. Perhaps that is for the best given that the ad says nothing even remotely related to same-sex marriage. Clearly CBS has picked up on the message the the FMA (or now the Marriage Protection Amendment) isn't truly about protecting marriage, but further marginalizing gays and lesbians as something other than an American citizen and certainly not as a person of worth.

I like what Rev. John Thomas, UCC general minister and president, has to say about all of this: "It is ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial. We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to the church's loving welcome of committed gay couples, that's where they draw the line."

Other stations airing it include AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land. Of particular interest is that ABC Family will air it (and did - I saw it while watching old Rankin Bass animation Christmas specials).

Looks like I'm going to have to quit watching all the mainstream channels...and I was so enjoying the Apprentice this season. Survivor has been fun too and decidedly lestastic (although it seems like some creative editing omitted a kiss between one couple during a surprise visit to the island).

Sooner or later I'm going to get around to posting my recant of the role that moral values (specificially religious fundamentalist values) played in this election. Although seemingly significant, further analysis suggests that the Relgious Right, while still dangerous, and obviously with a firm grip on the testicles of CBS and NBC, didn't play quite as significant a role as perhaps they (and we) think they did.

It's a travesity that for all the crap and dreck these networks spend money to push the receding intellect of America even further that they can't be bothered to accept revenue from somebody with a positive, affirming message. However, the problem isn't that UCC is too controversial or advocating any stance. The problem is they are challenging the status quo. They dared to send a message that might cause Mr. or Mrs. America to think they aren't as tolerant, broad-minded, or fair as they care to think they are. UCC had the audacity to confront the modern-day pharisees and tell them that they are not practicing the love and inclusion that Christ lived and taught. It's not a feel-good namby pamby "boy I could have figured that out for myself if I had half a brain" The More You Know segment. It hits people where it matters. For some that feels good, for others it hurts. And when you tackle the bully, the bully tries to shut you down.

Info from 356gay.com and beliefnet for resources on this story

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Art and Science of Biblical Interpretation

One of my best friends, John, who is a medical doctor, married, father of two, agnostic, lives in a small eastern Tennessee town, and all around swell guy sent the following email to me:

My bible reading project has not started yet. Sodom and Gamora is the most often quoted argument I hear around hear, and usually just the fact that I bring up an alternative view of why Sodom and Gamora are destroyed they start backpeddeling which tells me that most people use the Bible to argue position having never read the source. They are simply taking someone elses interpretation.

In medicine (which is more art than science every day that I practice) I used to take as fact things that were taught to me by respected professors.
Now that I have read some of the source material myself I have found many things in medicine are done on tradition and there is no good evidence for some practices. So I can imagine if I have come across so many instances of misinterpretation in medicine that Biblical lore is probably worse.

John explained in his initial email to me that people around him constantly bring up Sodom and Gomorrah when explaining the sins of gay marriage or homosexuality in general. But, as I explained to John, that's one of the worst passages they could use to justify their righteous indignation.

If you start thinking about it, it's hard to see a story involving gang rape as an indictment against consentual homosexual relationships. It's gets a little more difficult when you realize that Lot offers his daughters to appease the violent crowd. I don't think female virgins would placate a mob of rabid queers.When the the prophet Ezekiel discusses this incident later, he states the sin specifically: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." (Ezekiel 16:49 -KJV)

So, please pick a more artful argument next time.

But John makes an excellent point about the art of Biblical interpretation. While John continues to erode the little trust I had in modern medicine with his revelations of how so much of it is a guessing game, he properly illuminates a problem with modern theology, particularly within the evangelical/fundamentalist community.

Most followers don't take the time to check out the source material. They believe what they are fed by popular pundits, local pastors, tradition or even fictional literature. (The Left Behind series is an immensely popular book series based on a particular interpretation of the Book of Revelations, a theological bent that the authors insist is The Truth.) Modern church-goers might know their Bible verses forward and backwards and follow along when prompted during sermons, but few take time to truly read the Bible contextually. And this type of reading is no easy task.

Reading any book is more work than people typically consider. There is a whole field of study on the reading process and how we make meaning of what we read. Even casting the process of reading aside, when reading the Bible, one must read it with the appropriate surrounding text to understand the full context. To single any one verse out, as many ministers seem to base their sermons on, actually robs that verse of its full meaning. Nobody would dream of reading any other book or poem this way, yet modern Christians regularly use the Bible verse by out-of-context verse.

Understanding the Bible is further complicated by the need to understand some the words' original meanings in Hebrew or Greek. You have to understand ancient culture. You have to understand that some words were used differently than they are now and a direct translation of the word does not necessarily convey the author's intended meaning or frame of reference. All of these components, and more, is fundamental to truly understanding what is being said. How many evangelicals even know that the gospels were handed down orally and were not transcribed until decades after those events happened? How many understand the concept of the synoptic gospels? I certainly never learned these things in church, and I doubt many people do.

Given all the work it takes to understand the words that have been passed down to us, it's not surprising that most people don't undertake it (many probably are not aware that this much work is necessary). Instead, interpretation is left up to ministers, who while certainly qualified, are trained in certain traditions and schools of theology, bringing their own biases, prejudices, preconceptions, and, yes, agendas into the interpretive mix. I often wonder how many ministers get to seminary, come to different conclusions that what they are being taught based on their own work, yet still go along with the denominational line because that is an easier path to tread.

Karl Marx said that relgion is the opium of the masses. And, for those churches that do not teach their parishioners about how to read the Bible for themsleves, he's right. I certainly believe that fundamentalism, a characteristic of the Religious Right, is an anti-intellectual movement. It ignores or belittles a historical-critical analysis of the Bible. Fundamentalism insists that you turn off your brain not just at the church door, but at the Bible cover.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Common Cents

And interrupting my blogging flow for a quick news check will be my new semi-regular featurette (semi-regular meaning whenever I feel like mentioning something without adding much commentary to it) Common Cents.

Common Cents will be quick news snippets that show some positive event or progress for gay people, particularly here in the States.

To inaugurate this new feature, we have from the November 30th edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education:

"Colleges that bar military recruiters from their campuses because the armed forces discriminate against gay men and lesbians cannot be penalized with the loss of federal funds, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled on Monday.

In the 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said the Constitution's guarantee of free speech prohibits the government from requiring colleges to endorse a message they disagree with. The decision halts enforcement of a decade-old law, known as the Solomon Amendment, that allows the government to withhold Department of Defense money from colleges that do not provide access to military recruiters.

Last month, Congress expanded the law to apply to colleges that do not provide the recruiters with access "equal in quality and scope" to that offered to nonmilitary recruiters. Such institutions are now barred from receiving funds from the Defense Department and defense-related funds from other federal agencies as well.

In the past, some law schools have limited military recruiters' access to their campuses because the Defense Department's policy of excluding openly gay men and women from the military services ran afoul of the schools' antidiscrimination policies. Warrington S. Parker III, a lawyer for a coalition of law schools and others challenging the Solomon Amendment, said Monday's decision means that colleges can again "follow their nondiscrimination policies."


Daniel Mach, a lawyer who represented the American Association of Law Schools, said that nondiscrimination policies send an "important message of diversity and tolerance" that is "vitally important to law schools' mission."

The court, in an opinion written by Judge Thomas L. Ambro, found that the Solomon Amendment violated colleges' First Amendment rights by compelling them to "propagate, accommodate and subsidize the military's message." The ruling cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Boy Scouts of America to exclude a gay assistant scoutmaster because "homosexual conduct is inconsistent with ... the Scout oath."

"Just as the Boy Scouts believed that 'homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the Scout Oath,' ... the law schools believe that employment discrimination is inconsistent with their commitment to justice and fairness," the opinion states.

"The Solomon Amendment requires law schools to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives, and no compelling governmental interest has been shown to deny this ruling," the opinion concludes. "

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Crucified Again

Although I agree with some that Matthew Shepard, as a very disturbed and troubled young man, has become far too mythic in proportion, the heinousness of the crime perpetrated upon him cannot be overstated. The immensely cruel and brutal evil that befell poor Matthew is unthinkable and cannot be forgotten. And while we cannot live in fear of the same happening to us, we must never think we are immune from such inexplicable violence.

And, yet, somehow ABC decided to run a story that would suggest that the men who tortured and killed Matthew did so out essentially because of a drug deal gone bad, rather than because he was gay.

And my first response is, "does it matter why they killed him?" And not just killed him, but tortured and crucified the boy. It reeks of someone trying to make excuses. It reeks of a media outlet trying to pander to a perception that many viewers are anti-gay.

In any event, this sort of investigation provides no redeeming feature or merit. It advances no cause, except perhaps the one that would see Matthew as the creator and ultimate reaper of his own circumstances. The insinuation appears to be that had Matthew not been a drug-adled queer looking for sinful man-sex, he would still be alive.

I normally would not weigh in on a program I had not personally viewed. I was, and still am, so offended at the basic premise of the show, however, I could not bring myself to watch it. Even if the show managed to convince me that it wasn't a gay-bashing to the nth degree (and that would take a lot of convincing) , it wouldn't change the fact that the man in question is a killer and his vicitm, regardless of his faults, didn't deserve death, particularly a slow, inhumane, degrading death.

I would boycott ABC, but they don't have anything of quality on to watch in the first place. For responses to the "news" story aired on 20/20, you can start by visiting
GLAAD's analysis of the story

the response of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

Also echoing many of my statements, along with some additional insights, are John Rowe's observations here.

On Golden Porn

I've been out of town for both work and vacation the past two weeks, and during that time so much happened that I hardly know where to start. Topics cover the spectrum of the rainbow to frivolous to the deadly serious.

Let's start with some levity before we dive into deeper waters.

From VH1's Best Week Ever segment "What You're Celebrating This Year":

If you bought The Golden Girls Season 1, you're celebrating cosmopolitans, tiny dogs, and hot sweaty man on man sex.

I presume they're not referring to any nude scenes with Bea Arthur.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tryptophan Theatre

No blogger worth his or her salt passes up the obligatory "I'm thankful for..." blog at this time of year. Or perhaps the blogger possessing no original ideas passes it up. Regardless, I'm throwing my buckled hat into the ring.

Despite my trepidation (or is that tryptodation) about the next four years, I'm still proud and thankful to be an American. In spite of my worries about a continued suppression of civil rights and free speech for all Americans, I am thankful for the ability to fight for what I think is right and I'm still able to say and be who I am regardless. And, hey, there are at least a few other people who share similar value structures and ideas about how our great nation should be lead that I do.

I am both proud and humbled by the immense about of privilege I do have. Although I am deeply hurt by politicians and others seeking to legislate against me, simply because of who I am, with no thought to the totality of who I am, I, and many other gays and lesbians, have uncalculable amounts of privlege that others both in our country and out of it, do not.

I am (and presumably anybody reading this is) literate. I am, and likely you are, educated and have access to technology. You can probably afford some level of technology, if you don't own a computer. You likely have a job (as do I) where you have a computer and other technology, or access to one. My (and probably your) level of education is college or higher.

I am(and probably you are) not concerned about where our next meal will come from nor if we are going to have a place to sleep and stay dry tomorrow night. Most likely you will be eating an enormous amount of food with friends or family in the next few days. And, concerning the mode of transport to the houses of our loved ones, the ability to travel within a city, and between state to state is not only possible, but convenient.

We, despite what Republicans will tell you, are largely free from violence and terror. Some Americans do live in areas of our cities that are violent or are victims of heinous crimes or abuses. I have been fortunate to be largely free of that. And although I am convinced we will see another attack upon our great country, the vast majority of us are safe from this threat.

Finally, I, for some unknown reason or perhaps for no reason whatsoever, have had an immense blessing of grace bestowed upon me in terms of my sexuality. I have a loving partner and a supportive family. I have good friends and a fantastic work environment. I realized my sexuality at a point in my life where I could emotionally and spiritually cope with it.

Thanks for taking the time to allow me to share my thoughts with you.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Too Much Reality TV?

Do you think people have watched too much reality TV and thought their vote Tuesday was to throw someone out of the United States?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What We Need Now

Twenty-four percent of respondants to a CNN/Gallup poll expressed they were afraid of the next four years under Bush. Eighteen percent were merely pessimistic. This means that 42% had a negative expectation of this presidency. How did this man get elected when so many view him so negatively. Although Republicans triumph a three million vote popular vote lead, this is only 51% of the country, decisive but hardly a mandate and hardly historic.

Three things clearly stand out as to why George Bush got re-elected and Republicans picked up a slight gain in the Senate.

There was no reason to vote for John Kerry. The vast majority of people (79%) voting for Kerry did it because they were anti-Bush, not pro-Kerry. Only 30% of people voted for Kerry because they were for the man, compared to Bush's 59% allegiance of voters. And hate or dislike is not a strong enough reason to motivate people tovote. Being anti-candidate (Bush or Kerry) only caused 25% of the voters to turn out. The overwhelming number of voters (69%) turned out because they were voting FOR their guy.

Kerry never made a sufficient case for himself; it's not enough to be different. Although Bush is so bad, being "not Bush" nearly was enough in this election(and that, to me, is a horrible indictment of the President's leadership), Kerry should have and future politicians absolutely must make a case for themselves.

The second major reason is that voters cared most (22%) about moral values. Undoubtably, in this case "moral issues" translates to stances on gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and Supreme Court judge nominations (and all of these are strongly linked to the third cause). Democrats ran on policy; Bush ran on morality. Democrats, who during the 60's were strong activists and the moral voice for civil rights have lost that voice.

The smartest comment I have heard on this was NPR commentator Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton and Professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis University, on "Marketplace" who suggested that the Democrats must not touch religion - it's far too personal. But, they must find a moral voice. The commentator suggested they should talk about the morality of robbing from the poor to give to the rich (not surprisingly the majority of Bush voters made $50,000 or more). I'd suggest talking about the morality of legislating religious beliefs for a country based on freedom of religion.

Which leads me to the third reason: an unusual presence of Evangelical Christians, the Religious Right. Karl Rove managed to help turn out thousands of fundamentalists that did not vote in 2000. These were especially prominent in states with the gay marriage amendments on the ballots as well as the I-4 corridor in Florida. And now these people, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, and others are asking for payback for getting the faithful to vote. The Religous Right continues to be a growing power that is not being taken seriously. People wanting to avoid policies and lawmaking heavily influenced by ultra-conservative and religous values "far right of the mainstream" need to mobilize moderate and liberal people of faith. Those of us who are Christian must be as political as our fundamentalist brethern and talk about what Jesus REALLY would do and how our friends and family are lied to and manipulated by the true wolves, wolves posing as sheep. People of no faith or other faiths must also act and mobilize to counter this small but influential political voice within the Republican party and our nation.

My sense of self-preservation makes me seriously contemplate relocating to Canada and I've joked about it like many of my friends and other Democrats (apparently this joke is so pervasive, CNN ran an article online about the issues involved in immigrating to Canada: "Canada No Safehaven for Democrats"). However, my bully reflex has kicked in. Although I might move to a more tolerant area of the country, I will not abandon this country, which I love, and leave it in the hands of people who are either stupid, hateful, ignorant or intolerant. Our nation is better than this and I can help make it better. We all can. The next four years will be difficult, but what we need now is love for ourselves and our country.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Internalized Homostupidity

According to CNN, 23% of gays and lesbians voted for George Bush. To paraphrase Jon Stewart, that's nearly a quarter of our people who were wearing tin foil hats and chanting in their underwear before voting at the polls.

I know we are supposed to like it up the butt, but we aren't supposed to like Bush. I guess some of us just decided to shove a big Dick (Cheney) up there instead.

Were these people in a K-hole when they voted? Did they miss that the Log Cabin Republicans refused to endorse Bush? Republicans hoped to use gay marriage to garner votes from the highly religious black community and failed there - how did they succeed with our own people?

How do you support someone who has used the restriction of your civil rights as a tactic for maintaining their power? Bush owes the religious right now, who made special efforts, particularly in Florida and the eleven states where anti-gay amendments were on the ballots to bring in big numbers of voters. And they're already demanding their due - which will be the Federal Marriage Amendment. They won't be satisfied with the FMA either; we could possibly look forward to other restrictions of our civil rights. Bush will certainly appoint anti-gay judges to the Supreme Court.

Is this internalized hate run amok? We have enough closeted politicians pushing anti-gay legislation without our own people turning us in to the lapdog of fundamentalists. To these gay Bush supporters, I say you've earned the president you've elected. Can you all please pack up and go to Egypt or some place where you can be more fully oppressed?

My Favorite Quote of the Election

From a caller on a radio talk show..."I'm voting for Kerry because 'Yee-Haw' is not a foreign policy."

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Slash and Burning Passion

Comic professional Steven Grant wrote about a subgenre of superhero comics that I was completely unaware of in his most recent column Permanent Damage at Comicbook Resources. Steven details this small comic niche:

"Obviously, there's still ground to be covered with the superhero, and the post-superhero. There are different things yet to do with them. There are even weird, unexpected subcultures out there built around superheroes: a friend yesterday told me about "slash," which has apparently been an open secret for a long time but somehow I just missed it, basically self-generated fiction by and for educated, mostly straight, often married middle-class women, featuring homoerotic (male-male) revisions of popular characters of TV, screen and comics, like the old Kirk-Spock fantasies once prevalent among an offshoot of STAR TREK fans. (Female "slash" fans are reportedly a hefty chunk of the fans of DC's TEEN TITANS and OUTSIDERS comics.) Which ties in beautifully with the Apollo-Midnighter romance in THE AUTHORITY and shonen ai manga like GRAVITATION. Slash fans have their own conventions, websites and everything. " (Note: THE AUTHORITY features two openly gay men, essentially a Superman and Batman riff in a relationship.)

This ties in with the apparent love that some straight women have for the show Queer as Folk which features soft-core gay sex. This is an interesting flipside of the straight man's stereotypical fascination with lesbian sex. I'm honestly a bit baffled about this, other than to say that if you're attracted to good looking people of one sex, then you're likely to be attracted to a whole gaggle of them making out?? And although I doubt that this "slash" population is of any significant size, with straight America's continued fascination with same-sex sex, why can't they move from objectifying us to seeing us as people deserving of equal rights?

I'm Proud to Say I'm a Pawn American

Hey Hey
Ho Ho
Bush and Cheney have got to go!
Hey Hey
Ho Ho!

Did you do your part to get rid of one of the worst presidents in modern history?

I've been told on other blogs that I'm just a pawn of the media. I've fallen for the liberal rhetoric that Bush caters to the Religious Right and that he's intolerant. I've fallen for the propoganda that paints him as someone who doesn't think he's made a mistake. I've been misled by the vast left-wing consipracy that Bush is a stupid man. I've fallen for the Democratic talking point that he lied and misled the country for invading Iraq.

Only...he's culpable for all those things.

He's actively backed the Federal Marriage Amendment. He's stated that he would not have supported civil unions as governor of Texas. He, from the on-set, distanced himself from the Log Cabin Republicans. He advocates for "family values," the only opposite of which I can infer is apparently "gay values." He identified Christ as the philosopher he most identifies with (isn't that scary?) and talks regularly about how Christianity changed his life. His faith-based initiatives have strongly blurred the relationship between state and church. His stance on stem cell research and abortion are direct influences from the religious right.

He's been asked twice that I've seen about what mistakes he thinks he has made or what he has learned from his Presidency and has twice failed to come up with an answer.

Bush supposedly has a high IQ. However, the man refuses to read; he insists on aides summarizing reports to him. And his communication skills are pathetic. He constantly makes up words, uses malapropisms, forgets the simplest sayings, and doesn't listen to his own speeches. When he loses his place, he can't recover because he doesn't really know what he's saying. The man had the best education money could buy and squandered it making C's (and he's proud of that work).

And he constantly lied about why we should invade Iraq. He knew the information for justifying the war was tenuous at best, but Rummy, Cheney and company were looking for an excuse to go in since Day One. And Cheney still refuses to admit that their claims were bogus. They dropped the ball with persuing Osama Bin Laden and that is the biggest failure of all.
I don't agree with Kerry on "wrong war, wrong time." I never supported invading Iraq. It was clearly a diversion - something accomplishable because they probably knew capturing Bin Laden was too difficult. Bush even tried to write Bin Laden off as "not a threat" when he failed to capture him and now Osama has reared his head again.

I haven't even talked about the deregulation of industry and freedoms he has allowed major corporations. I haven't mentioned the damage to the environment he's allowing. I haven't brought up his tax cuts for the very rich. I haven't talked about the conflict of interests with Haliburton in Iraq. This man's career, and his presidency is no different, has been spent looking out for himself and his corporate buddies.

He needs to go and go quickly.

Monday, November 01, 2004

My Susan B. Anthony Dollar's Worth

In 1873, Susan B. Anthony delivered a compelling speech about women's right to vote after her arrest in 1872 for casting an "illegal" vote in the presidential election. I have co-opted a part of this speech on this presidential election eve. (For the original speech, go here).

It was we, the people, not we, the white heterosexual citizens; nor yet we, the heterosexual citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to a portion of ourselves and a percentage of our posterity, but to the whole people - homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. And it is a downright mockery to talk to gay men and women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while we are denied the means of enjoying all the same rights and priviledges of our heterosexual brothers and sisters.

For any state to legislate what a successful and ordained union of two people is that then results in the disfranchisement of up to 10% of the people is a violation of the very principles set forth in our Constitution and the defeat of miscegenation laws. To amend the Constitution against its own citizenry withholds the blessings of liberty the Constitution should protect.

This government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sexual orientation; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe. This oligarchy makes every straight person the ruler and sovereign over every gay person and carries dissention, discord, and rebellion into thousands of homes across the nation.

Are all gay Americans not citizens as our straight brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers? And, if being citizens (and I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the fortitude to say we are not) every discrimination against homosexuals in the constitutions and laws of any state or our great nation is today null and void, precisely as is every one against our transgendered friends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Roll in the Hayes

I've thought a long time on my response to Robin Hayes, who I will be happily voting out of office in just a few days, my representative who is a co-sponsor of the FMA. I've got a few responses worked out, and I may share one, that are very political and argumentative. The best one, however, has come from Peter, whose devilish genius I adore.

Peter suggests that I forward to the local paper, the Charlotte Observer, the segment of Rep. Hayes's letter (see my post below "This Means War") where he states he "hope[s] we can work together" with a new letter that I compose thanking Rep. Hayes for his wilingness to contribute to gay activisim and issues. I can see the headlines:

Local Representative Pledges to Work on Improving Local Gay Issues

Robin Hayes Offers Support to Local Gay Activists

Congressman Concerned for Gay Constituents
I'm tempted to go through with this.

Waffles With Pitiful Syrup

George Bush came out in opposition to the Republican Party Platform's position on gay civil unions. In an interview Sunday with Charles Gibson of ABC news, which aired this morning, Bush said he favored states giving gay couples civil unions and that the Republican Party Platform, which opposes any type of legal recognition to unions of gay couples, was "wrong" and that he disagreed with it.

Now, to be as fair as possible, Bush has always said he thought that states should decide what kind of legal recognition they wanted to grant to gay couples. But when you strongly and repeatedly state your definition of marriage as a man and a woman, fraternize regularly with leaders of the Christian Religious Right, and constantly call for the passage of a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage that would even further eliminate the possibility of one state recognizing the legal rights of another state to a gay couple (DOMA already does this, but the Amendment would solidify this) and has language in it that pretty much opposes civil unions, you lose the slightest ounce of credibility and respect.

Clearly this is a last minute appeal to moderate swing voters. Undoubtably figuring his conservative base will still vote for him, he's not worried about angering them, but more concerned about gaining those uncertain votes. Will it work for him however? Could he lose votes from his base that will now be upset with his statement? They likely won't vote for Kerry, but will they just not vote for Bush? It's hard to imagine what he hoped to gain with this statement. He's been such an adamant support of the FMA that hardly anybody is likely to view him as being moderate or compassionate on this issue. I'll be interested in seeing the Log Cabin Republican response. I'm hoping, and pretty sure, this will not cause them to endorse him at this late point.

Although it's hard to see what he could possibly gain from trying to pass himself off as tolerant (still a negative word - do you think being tolerant of, say, black people, Jews, or women is positive?) , this is just another fake pass at trying to win over voters in this area. Cheney's mention of support for Mary in a town hall meeting, her appearance after his debate with Edwards, and his alleged outrage at Kerry mentioning Mary's name, are all just political tactics. Did anyone really bring up Mary's absence after Cheney's RNC speech despite earlier appearing in the stands with her family?

And, as an aside, I'm sick of the whole Marygate issue. Kerry's mention was awkward and no doubt politically motivated, yet it's no less egregious than the Cheney's own use of Mary's name for their political advantage. And, guess what, Mary is an out lesbian who has used her orientation to help smooth relations between the gay community and Coors brewing company as well as helping the candidacy of her dad and Bush. She's put herself out there as fair game. I see no harm no foul here, folks.

I do cry foul with Bush, however. This just further illustrates his desire to say whatever will get him elected. The man is dumb and lacking principles. He says he stands firm, yet he constantly "updates" and changes his position and explanations to avoid scrutiny or criticism. The sandal is on your own feet, George.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Great Pumpkin Day

Halloween is one of my most favorite holidays. It is, perhaps coincidentally, probably the most gay of holidays. When else is acting like you're somebody else more acceptable? Thousands of people go into the closet and pick out some new identity to wear for a few hours that night. You get candy and tricks. Straight men and gay men alike bond in the socially acceptable post-dawn hours to wear drag in public loud and proud.

Halloween is about fun. Forget myths about poison in candy and fruit (it never happened). Adults get to be kids again and forget the responsibilities of work and other drudgeries. And being gay should be about having fun. Often it's not, unfortunately, but it should. Our difference should be celebrated and enjoyed. We should be able to dress however we want, flamboyant to conservative, femme to butch, whatever our "costume" is.

Halloween is about confronting demons and devils. The dark of life is brought out and celebrated. We can't have light without the darkness and confronting our demons can only elevate us. Halloween is about scaring away evil spirits and we certainly have plenty of evil to dispel in this world.

Halloween is about carving jack o lanterns. It's a chance to put on a new "face" to the world. It's a time to be creative. Gay people are some of the most artistic people in the world. Here is a chance to show it in design and art.

Halloween is about giving, just don't give your trick something he doesn't want. We give candy to kids or money to unicef. It's about doing something for others. The queer community needs to continue to help each other out and not fragment. We all need each other to lean on from time to time, the song goes. Halloween can be a symbol for year-long work. And you thought Christmas was only about the spirit of helping humankind.

Here's to caramel apples, grinning ghouls, good friends, and a chance to be as gay as we want anywhere we want.

And may you receive no rocks in your treat bag.

Get Out and Vote Unless You're Voting for Bush

I'm tired of businesses, organizations, and people to just "get out and vote" and "excercise their right." Yah, yah, it's all great and all that people participate in the "democratic process"; a process that is increasingly under suspicion as being democratic, fair, or untainted. But nevermind that, I don't want just anybody voting. I'm taking the very non-politicially correct stance that I don't want you voting unless you're voting to elect John Kerry president and voting out every politician who bows to the whims of the Religious Right.

If you believe that gays shouldn't be allowed to marry, that gays shouldn't be a protected work class, that you should be able to legislate your religious beliefs on the rest of the country, that you can't criticize a "war-time" president regardless of his lies and lack of planning and adequate support for our military without being a traitor, that America should force it ideas of democracy and government on the rest of the world, that a guy whose dad bought him a cushy job in a military unit that he may or may not have actually worked has the right to question the service record or even suggest that he can do a better job defending our country than a man who actually went overseas to one of the most hellish wars that Americans have fought, that you need an SUV to drive around your suburban neighbor, that you worry that some terrorist is going to drop a nuclear bomb on you while taking your kids to soccer practice in aforementioned SUV, or that Jesus would approve of the death penalty but not abortion, then I want you to stay home. Go ahead and take the day off work. Relax. Sit down with your favorite drink and watch the election results come in.

Because, really, if you believe any of the above, you're doing a greater disservice to our country in voting than contributing to the democratic process.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Master DeBaters Pt 1

Same old same old. I do think that Kerry came off a little better than he has of late, sound resolute for once. Bush seemed much more defensive and unsure than usual. Kerry's line about being "certain, but still wrong" was certainly strong and I'm glad he hammered away at Bush on handling the war the wrong way and ignoring North Korea. He fumbled somewhat with Osama, mistakenly placing him in Afghanistan when current wisdom is that Osama is in Pakistan.

Kerry needs to shed the flip-flop image more and place that blame squarely on Dubya's shoulders, who has waffled more than IHOP, but has not yet been stuck with that label because he repeats the same dumb four sentences.

Kerry also needs to hammer him on the constant lying and misleading Bush and Co did about why we need to go to war, including George's implicaiton tonight that Sadaam attacked us: "We didn't start this; they attacked us...we went to war." Kerry caught him on this, but more needs to be made on this.

The big stumper to me was Bush citing the Patriot Act as necessary to protect us, yet minutes later stating how adamantly he opposes Putin restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism. The American people need to wake up and realize that the Patriot Act has done the exact same thing! Bush is now not just a liar or an incompetent; he's a hypocrite.

And the Bushism of the night - "the enemy is fighting us so vociferously." What, are they yelling at us? Playing Motley Crue at loud volumes? Making loud bombs? You've heard of dirty bombs, now fear the noisy bomb.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

God Must Be Fond of Donkeys, 'Cause He Has Plenty of Asses in His Congregations

Tuesday, NBC's The Today Show ran a clip, one in a series on political issues facing the candidates and country, on the issue of gay marriage. The video highlighted two gay men living in Arizona raising a son. The son, in his early teens, was the product of one of the men's previous marriage. He had been raised most of his life by the gay couple and expressed his love for his same-sex parents and their family life. The video also highlighted an Arizona Baptist minister who, surprise, surprise, opposes gay marriage. One of his main points was that if you allow gays to marry, you're gonna have to let people marry donkeys.

True, the donkey marriage lobby is a strong one, but I think it will be a few years before it rises to national prominence. When the party line of the religious right gets drawn out - the "what's next? cats and dogs living together? mass hysteria?" - why does nobody challenge this ridiculous piece of logic. The slippery slope is one of the most famous logical fallacies, made popular with the Vietnam war - if we didn't regain Vietnam, all of Asia would fall to Communism. Yet, nobody points out that we can allow anything we want to and cut it off at any point. Not to mention that I'm reasonably sure there is not much demand for donkey marriages. Obviously some asses get hitched from time to time, but that's a completely different story.

In related news, famed fallen fornicating evangelist (and cousin to the well-known Jerry Lee Lewis, the R Kelly of his time), Jimmy Swaggart managed to stop blubbering for a few minutes to proclaim that "...I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died." Swaggart's congregation of about twelve approved his message with laughter and applause. (Swaggart, who used to run a mega-ministry prior to his prostitute scandal, now has to use curtains to hide the rows upon rows of empty pews in his church during television broadcasts.)

He has, to his credit, has apologized since: "It's a humorous statement that doesn't mean anything. You can't lie to God -- it's ridiculous...If it's an insult, I certainly didn't think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology."

Wow, what a great joke. Maybe he can make a similar joke about the President and then get thrown in jail where we wouldn't have to hear his simpering any longer(those of you unfamiliar with Jimmy need to know he usually spends a good portion of each message pouring on the water works. Hailing from Louisiana, he makes good use of alligator tears).

God caused Balaam's donkey to speak, saving them both from the waiting angel of death. God made an ass speak. Nowadays, seems like no divine intervention is needed.

A Keyes Moment

Far be it from me to miss hopping on a bandwagon. Much speculation is circulating the internet currently that Alan Keye's daughter is a very out lesbian. Chillinois , a blog, has presented some very strong evidence that this is true information, although the final word is still out.

Many of you may recall Mr. Keyes's recent comments that "The essence of ... family life remains procreation. If we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it's possible to have a marriage state that in principal excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism." Asked whether that meant Mary Cheney "'is a selfish hedonist," Keyes said: "That goes by definition. Of course she is."

Keyes stands to go on my list of politicians who have gay children, yet are virulently anti-gay in their voting, policy-making, or stances. This, to me, is even less understanderstandable than closeted gay politicians who are anti-gay in their civil service. The internalized homophobia manifesting itself as anti-gay legislation is not completely surprising; working against the civil and social interests of your child(ren) is. More on that particular train of thought in a future blog.

I'll let you know what the final count brings. Hopefully there will be no hanging chads (and with lesbians you wouldn't expect a hung chad now would you?).

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

You Realize, Of Course, This Means War

Hold on to your seats, people, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Following the push by the HRC to contact my representative regarding the impending vote in the House on the FMA, I emailed (and wrote) a letter to my representative, who happens to be co-sponsoring the bill. I asked Representative Robin Hayes to not vote for the FMA. Below is his reply. In a future blog, I'll post my reply, but I'll give any of my faithful readers (both of you) the chance to make suggestions for content in that letter. Any takers?

Dear Michael,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the Federal Marriage Amendment. I appreciate hearing your comments on such an important issue.There is no institution in this land more sacred than marriage and family. Marriage, between a man and a woman, has been the foundation of civilization for thousands of years all around the world. Protections for this vital institution are built into our culture and the laws of our country because of the centrality of the family unit. In 1888, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Murphy v. Ramsey, described marriage as "creating the most important relation in life, as having more to do with morals and civilization of a people than any other institution." I am proud to be a co-sponsor of H.J. Res 56, which was introduced by Representative Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04). This legislation declares that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. I am sorry we do not agree on this issue; however, I hope that our differing views will not prevent us from working together in the future on this and many other issues.It is an honor to serve as your United States Representative, and I look forward to tackling the issues 8th District voters sent me here to address. (Editor's note: Yes, why should denying my civil rights be an impediment to working together cooperatively?) Please know that I have assembled what I believe is the most responsive and courteous staff in Congress. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever we may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to call.

Sincerely,Robin Hayes
Member of Congress

Part Two coming soon...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Suburban Queer

Seems like the McGreevey rant made me have to catch my breath. Also, work life and the "married" life have proven very rewarding, yet time-consuming. I'm also trying to reestablish my exercise routine and Peter and I still strive finish the small nit-picky things around the house.

Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, is home to a small, but largely undercover queer population. Asheville, NC, home to the fantastic and historic Oak Grove lodge, and about two hours away, is reportedly one the nation's most gay-friendly cities and I've heard good things about the environment at UNC Greensboro, about an hour away. Charlotte, is by and large, a pretty quiet city and is comprised, like Atlanta, of many close suburbs and towns with very definite personalities. And although a queer presence is obvious to the trained or even semi-trained eye, it seems many of the city's denizens are still thrown for a loop or strongly curious to see two out men together and being/acting like a couple.

Peter and I generally refrain from many overt romantic or affectionate gestures in public, although certainly they do happen. But we act like a couple - at the grocery store we discuss what we want for dinner over the course of the week or argue over which flavor of ice cream to buy (usually ending up with both) - at a restaurant we might share some food or kid about who is going to pay -at home, I think we appear more than just roommates, often sharing a ride, or taking out the garbage together, and such. I hope that in all of these and other situations, it is obvious that we are together. But this togetherness does bring some stares.

People carefully trying to look like they're not looking fail pitifully as the follow us around or crane their neck as we go the other way down an aisle. These are looks I used to get going to places with black female friends. That "are they what I think they are" kind of look (no to the black woman, yes to the man on my arm). Granted we live in a smaller, quieter suburb, but we're not the only queers around here either. And other gay couples can be sighted time to time. Now, while this angered Pat the angry Lowe's Hardware lesbian, I'm rather quite happy with it.
I hope people can see us and say "oh look those fags aren't trying to molest children, entice upright Christian men, or sell us skin care products, maybe we were wrong about denying them civil rights."

Pat, as I'm sure you're wondering, is a woman we met on a home-improvement outing. I kid about lesbian rage, but she was full of it. The woman was incensed about being lied to about the availability of pineapple for her Hawaiian pizza. They told her they had the pineapple in stock, but, no, she saw that they actually had to run out and get the pineapple from a store. They were out and they lied about it. Also, she asserted, they singled her out by putting their bruschetta on a paper plate, while breeder received fine plasticware. I mean, serving an appetizer on a paper plate is a major faux pas, but it's hardly anything to carry a grudge about. You just don't invite those people over for your fabulous dinner parties. Also, Pat(named change to protect the incensed) was mad she couldn't get any privacy. People dared to recognize her and her "friend's" car that she would drive occasionally.

The saying goes that "familiarity breeds contempt." I hope that, in this case, familiarity will breed tolerance, maybe even acceptance. There's much political fodder in trying to show straight people that we are just like they are - that's not always a good thing. But straight people do need to realize that we aren't corrupters of innocent children and the American Way either. Plus, we throw fabulous dinner parties.

Cheney of Fools

RESPECT - find out what it means to me. I need to be shown some respect. Respect from both the Cheneys and news outlets.

Although it has been some time past now, I'm still vexted about the news media failure to encapsulate the facts of a situation and resorting to misleading and sensationalized headlines. The particular situation that I'm referring to is Dick Cheney stating that he believed that states should have the right to decide who gets married, but, hey, the President, who is a really nice guy and all, has a slightly different idea. And, after all, he is The Boss, so we gotta do what he says.

Every headline I saw about this event, which occurred just slightly before the National Republican Convention, blared that Cheney opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment. Didn't matter where the article was written, regardless of the author's sexual orientation or publishing house affiliation, "Cheney opposes FMA" was the headline de jour.

Well, actually, no.

Cheney never said he opposed the FMA. Not once. At best his statement suggests that he might, just might, oppose it. He said he believed that states should have the right to decide about marriage. But he never said he was going to fight for that right. He never said he thought the FMA was a bad idea. In the end, all he said was he was going to support the president. The president who is waging a war against gays and lesbians, including Cheney's own daughter, Mary, and her partner (neither of whom made it to the platform with the rest of the Cheney family during the RNC).

And so goes the whole chain-chain-Cheney of Fools. There is plenty to be said about how Cheney's ties to Haliburton is routinely ignored by America at large and news watchhounds. However, old Tricky Dick (where have we heard that before?) has made people believe that he opposes the FMA. That, hey, maybe that Presidential ticket isn't so right-sided after all. Sure, the President might be a nutjob after queers, but his running mate compassionately believes differently. He's not doing anything about it, but he's sincere. Not only Dick fool the media into publishing the headline he wanted, he conveniently had the opportunity to do it right before the convention. He's never voiced this particular opinion prior, but somebody just happened to ask him this question so he could speak from his heart right before national television coverage of him and the nu..I mean President. How fortunate for Mr. Cheney.

Down the chain we go with Mary. I've stood up for old Mare before. I have felt like she was unmercifully hounded by websites such as Dear Mary, and I greatly respect her right to not have to speak out. Still, it's impossible to discern the cause of her absence with the rest of the Cheney family on the RNC on the platform (as she was with the family while in the audience the night prior). Was this a silent protest? Was she asked not to appear for fear of offending the delicate sensibilities of the religious right? Was she just in the bathroom, unable to stomach all the crap her dad and the rest of the Republican leaders throw out? I've finally come to the point that I feel Mary needs to make a stand. Since her dad is now on the record as opposing the FMA, then she doesn't have to worry about saying anything he disagrees with or sounding non-supportive of him. Give the gay community a little respect, Mary.

I have been suckered briefly in the chain myself. I was wowed by Lynne Cheney speaking against the FMA openly back in July. Even though her words were not dissimilar from the Veep's current reiteration of his stance, she did talk more in-depth about not needing federal intervention. Also, she seemed more like a maverick at the time, with Dick silent on the issue since 2000. However, Lynne has a controversial past as perhaps the most right-wing ideologue of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) during the Reagan-Bush presidencies (a positon she now re-occupies). She vigorously opposed feminist thought and teaching or any teaching that presented a view of the world she disagreed with. According to Salon.com, "During her chairmanship of the agency from 1986 through 1992, Cheney was known for killing research projects deemed offensive to conservative orthodoxy, scribbling "not for me!" on proposals dealing with race, gender discrimination or the legacy of slavery. She considered the endowment so irredeemably left-wing that she campaigned to abolish it." No "Spanish Harlem" for Lynne, apparently. So much for my unequivocal praise.

And the chain of fools grows: the fools who think that Bush actually stands for family values, that he cares about anybody not in the top 2% of the American income stratus, the fools who think that the Cheneys show the moderate and compassionate voice of the Dubya ticket. The Cheneys try to come off as a Do-Right Woman and a Do-Right Man. Rather, I wonder who's zoomin who.

Think, America, think.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Getting Real on Getting Down

Being on the DL, or the "Down Low," has gained much notoriety lately, largely due to the writings of several authors, the most recent of which is J.L. King. Mr. King's book On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men who Sleep with Men has drawn much attention and Mr. King was featured on Oprah. E. Lynn Harris has written about this situation for some time, in mostly ficitional accounts, but has not drawn the attention that Mr. King's book has lately.

For those needing a primer, here's a link to a brief news clip about men On the Down Low .

I think a lot of unnecessary panic has risen over this topic. On the Oprah show, audience members were scared of Mr. King looking at their husbands in a seductive manner once he described how he could tell a man was interested. Still, I find the whole phenomenon of DL to be both complex and tragic.

Straight black women are one of the highest at-risk group for AIDS in America because of men pretending to be straight but having unprotected, high-risk sex with other men. As much as infedility outrages me, endangering another person's life, especially your spouse who trusts you implicitedly, for your own selfish reasons is unexcusable. This is a betrayal of the person who had commited the crime of loving you and the reward is death.

Certainly not all HIV positive people develop AIDS, and AIDS is much more controlled now, but still AIDS is physically and financially debilitating and certainly significantly reduces a person's life expectancy. Yet, the blame for this society is rooted firmly in societal expectations of not just black men, but concepts of masculinity.

I have played this harp before, but society expects black men to be tough. Popular media depictions almost always portrays the black man as womanizer and physically strong. More often than not, it is the image of the thug. Images of successful black men still carry an implication of hyper-masculinity portrayed through the accumulation of wealth and women. And both black and white culture buy into these images and perpetuate them.

The black man who is not macho is seen as victim. And any trace of feminity makes him pariah. And such, failing to acknowledge the feminine aspects of receiving in sex leads to unprotected sex. Not wanting to stop about the intimacy and sensualness of male to male sexual contact leads to risk for oneself and others.

In this I cannot fail to mention the strong influence that religion has in the black community. Conservative religious views dominate, at least in Southern black communities, leading to a supression of anything not in line with highly orthodox views. The church is such a locus of social interaction and status that to be removed from the church circles would mean almost total alienation and isolation for an individual. So, once again conservative religion, trying to save the world by policing behavior has helped lead to the destruction of its own children.

I believe the only way to help solve this problem is to change the images and expectations of black men. Conservative religious leaders, not just in the black community, but around the world, need to reevaluate how they implement their religion. And we need to help people understand homosexuality better and, also gender role stereotyping. We need, as a culture, to finally stop equating femininity with negativity. These may be pipe dreams, unattainable goals. Still, the only way to stop men from getting on the down low is to get real with ourselves and the world around us.

A Do Ron Ron

From The Advocate, August 31, 2004 (full article here):
I’ve been married for 23 years. Pretty good for a gay guy,” laughs Ron Reagan over iced tea recently in Los Angeles.
Gay buzz has surrounded the reed-thin son of former president Ronald Reagan since he dropped out of Yale University in his freshman year in 1976 to dance with New York City’s Joffrey Ballet. It follows him still, even though he and his longtime wife, clinical psychologist Doria Reagan, appear to be happily married, ensconced in Seattle with their three cats.
Being typed as gay “has never bothered me,” says Reagan, 46, a political commentator for MSNBC and dog show host for Animal Planet. He was in town doing interviews for the Television Critics Association meeting. “I’ve always thought of it like someone thinking I’m Chinese or something. It’s not pejorative, as far as I can see. It’s simply incorrect.”
Over the years, Reagan says he’s been attacked by the gay press “for not coming out. I guess it’s because I’m a man and ballet dancer. If I had been a truck driver, nobody would have brought that up.” Also, being portrayed as a closeted gay man “can be used as a weapon against my father, even posthumously.”

You can't help but like this guy for his views. That and that he hates the current administration.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

My Favorite Quote on the RNC

"When I wanted to see a second rate Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, I wait for it to come on basic cable." --my friend, Sharon Manson

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Truth is that I am a Pissed-Off American

There is nothing about the McGreevey situation that fails to induce a string of epithets so vile as to embarrass the most blue comedian spewing from my between my clenched teeth like so much spittle threatening to drown anybody in front of me. In short, everything about the New Jersey soon-to-be-ex-governor's circumstances induces contempt and loathing in me.

The entire fracas is "chicken or the egg" in regards to wrong and right. Our societal norms and values are still sufficiently misalinged to the point that many gays and lesbians feel the need to hide their sexuality or worse pretend they are straight. American law offers no protection to gays and lesbians in the workplace; being queer is sufficient cause to fire someone. And while many Americans probably wouldn't vote out an open gay man or lesbian, being out certainly adds an extra struggle to getting elected in the first place. Relgion, of course, plays a huge role in this. While debate rages in our churches over the place of the homosexual, most religious leaders condmen and ostracize us.

I still find it hard to understand the public fear against homosexuals and the stigmitization that accompanies this fear. I struggle with how people can justify the way they treat sons, daughter, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. when they find out they are gay. So the American stage is set and ready for such a opera.

Still, the actors are not absolved from their roles. Simply and crassly stated, McGreevy let his dick rule his brain. Whether he put a lover in a position he was unqualified for or sexually harassed his unqualified appointment, he chose to allow his gonads to overrise common sense, professionalism, and respect and love for his wife and family.

And, returning to societal norms and values, what a condemnation of our culture and judicial system that Cipel could, for all intents and purposes, blackmail McGreevy, ostensively for being gay. This also speaks to McGreevy's apparent lack of ability to judge character. Talk about a bad trick.

Again, however, McGreevy put himself in the situation, through one method or the other. And this perhaps is what angers me the most; the complete and total abdication of personal responsibility until the moment he was metaphorically caught with his pants down. Where was the responsibility to his citizens, his state, and even more importantly his wife. I have much sympathy for men who feel the need to get married because of family or societal pressure. Simultaneously, I have zero tolerance for these or any other men who then cheat on their wives. If you need a beard, then your beard deserves to know prior to the marriage. I have actually heard that some women willing enter into a marriage with a closeted man, knowing that he will find sex with other men (and presumably they will not have sex as husband or wife). If that's what you need, go find it. If you don't know that's what you need, then you need to either honor your vows or make other arrangements with your wife.

Finally, a few "fuck you"'s are in order. Fuck you, McGreevy for your proclamation that"At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into themirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world. My truth is that I am a gay American." You say it as if you are out and proud; as if you have been soul searching and come upon some great truth. You were about to have your entire personal life ripped apart; otherwise, you never would have come out. You would have continued to be an adulterer and presumably making appointments according to how hard the guy made you.

McGreevy earns a "fuck you" for proclaiming gay marriage, while under the cover of the closet, as having a "detrimental impact" on his state. To his credit, McGreevy signed into law a domestic partnership act for the state, one of five such statewide laws in the country. This is still no excuse for speaking out some vehemently against gay marriage.

And lastly, I award McGreevey an honorary "fuck you" for the general timing of his scandal and exploits, giving homophobes an example to point to when arguing against gay civil rights and marriage as well as justifying gay stereotypes of being promiscuous and sex-crazed.

Societal norms, as explained above, also earns a de facto "fuck you." Cipel, for being a low-life blackmailer merits a "fuck you." (If Cipel's claim had merit, he would have persued legitimate routes of complaint.)

The HRC comes close to earning a big FU for promoting the fact they helped McGreevey in his press announcement. I have no problem that they advised him, since their advice seemed to be sound; namely that McGreevy should point out that intrinsically being gay has nothing to do with his resignation. However, I question their motive for announcing their tenuous association with him. Other than letting other closeted politicians know that they can help when they are outed and scandal ensues, what is the profit?

Lastly, fuck the press for latching on to this as a GAY affair. It's not sufficient to simply announce that the governor of New Jersey was having an affair that is resulting in his resignation. Every headline I saw in print or television blared that this was a GAY affair; providing certainly a more salacious bent to the whole thing. Hey, politicians have affairs all the time, but how much more tantalizing and tawdry is it because it's with another man? Thus proving that we still have a long way to go before society as a whole sees us as something other than perverts, sex-fiends, and/or abnormal.

August is the cruelest month

Well, this blog seems mostly dedicated lately to making up excuses as to why I haven't been posting, but most of my normal routine has been on hold since mid-July. As any regular reader knows, I've been consolidating two households with my husband, Peter. (Thanks for the kind words, Keith.) But also, I work for university housing and the past month has also been getting ready for the start of the school year. This includes helping train staff and students. This means fun, but working retreats - time away from the house, Peter, and other work functions. This means I am experiencing the first weekend without some type of work obligation since mid-July. I love my job, but this is hurricane season. So all of this is not just physical energy, but mental and emotional energy drains as well.

Routine, however, is beginning to set in and that is very welcome. The house tends to go through phases of lookng great to be junked up again as more stuff is unpacked or purchased to organize all this stuff the both of us have accumulated. It can all be terrific fun, but it is also a lot of effort.

As things settle down even more, I will be back to posting more regularly. Lots of news recently means I have lots of opinions stored up just waiting to be vented. The advent of the RNC is also sure to inspire plenty of blog material.

Another happy note is that my father is again gainfully employed!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Sound of Silence

From Catholic World News
Swedish minister jailed for "anti-gay" speech
Stockholm, Sweden, Jul. 06 (LifesiteNews.com/CWN) - The Rev. Ake Green, the pastor of a Swedish Pentecostal church in Kalmar, Sweden, has been sentenced to one month in prison for inciting hatred against homosexuals. Green was prosecuted in January for "hate speech against homosexuals" for a sermon he preached last summer citing Biblical references to homosexuality.

Sweden has a "hate crimes" law that forbids criticism of homosexuality. According to the church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning , the prosecutor in the case, Kjell Yngvesson, justifies the arrest of Green: "One may have whatever religion one wishes, but this is an attack on all fronts against homosexuals. Collecting Bible citations on this topic as he (Green) does makes this hate speech."

Ok, this is going too far. You can't call all anti-gay rhetoric "hate speech." I know America would never pass a law this crazy (forbiding any type of criticism of an idea - although Bush has come close about criticism of his presidency in the Patriot Acts), but it gets to a problem that we experience here also. We can't shut off all negative speech.

Do I want to make it socially frowned upon to be negative towards gays, just as now it is to degrade blacks? Yes. But I want that change to come about because people think we're ok, that we are a welcome part of society. Enacting laws or going after everyone who makes a stupid remark is not the way to accomplish this.

I'm glad for media watchdogs like GLAAD, and they and others have done some truly good work, but I don't always agree with the relentless hounding they do, such as with Dr. Laura. Yes, she is an idiot; yes she said stupid, ignorant, hateful things, but is it necessary to financially ruin her because she's a bigot? Are we using tactics that the religious right would use on us?

Do we have to become the people who want to silence us and put us down? Is it necessary to meet equal parts force with equal parts force? I would suggest that this leads only not just to a cold war, but a cold world for all to live.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Tale of Two Cities

Well, the craziness of consolidating two households into one is subsiding somewhat. We still have a ton of stuff to do, but Peter has been wonderful about helping get things organized and set up. This time of year is one of the busiest for me at work and he's been a wonderful support of helping me stay sane during this whole time.

Internet access at the house has just recently been achieved, although I haven't had much time to post anything in any case. I was about to post something the other day during a lunch break, but became distracted and now I've lost the material that I was contemplating.

It's a fun and exciting time for Peter and me. We're finally starting our life together after five years of knowing each other and dating off and on with the last two years a fully committed relationship. We seem to both be in a good place in all sense of the phrase, and I hope that continues to be true.

The parentals are doing a bit better, but things are not as good as they could be. I hope things look better for them soon.

I cannot even begin to thank the wonderful people who took a great deal of time, effort, and energy to help us accomplish the move of two apartments in two different cities in two days: Turi, Carla, Anne, Leslie, Casey, Allan, Valencia, and last, but certainly not least, my little sis. These people went beyond being simple labor for us (and they all worked their butts off), but emotional support as well. Thanks to each and every one of you from the both of us!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I'll Be Back

Apparently some gays are mad at Califohniah Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his recent comment calling some Democratic politicians "girlie men."  I say we shouldn't be mad at him for making any type of allegedly "homophobic" remark, we should be mad at him for using an ancient and annoyingly over-repeated pop-culture reference best left in the grave with Dana Carvey's career.

Oh, and no blog entries for at least a week; I've got to move this weekend and then I'm off on a business trip. Be good while I'm gone.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

For It Is A Shame For Women To Speak

According to 365gay.com, Mike White, the head of the Oregon Family Council, said that he hoped that Lynne Cheney "doesn't address the gay marriage issue " at the Oregon state Republican convention and that he was "troubled" that she refused to endorse the Federal Marriage Amendment. 

Furthermore, Mr. White, who clearly suffers from severe cranial-rectal inversion, further stated that "[s]he is here to rally support for the president, and common sense would saythat she will only make remarks on issues she and the president agree on."  Fortunately, the Oregon GOP Chairman Kevin Mannix was tactful enough to just comment that the convention is"just delighted that she's coming. She's an excellent speaker."

I suppose that Mr. White would also favor Mrs. Cheney's, and probably all his female's constituents'  silence in any religious matters, given Paul's command that "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. / And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:33-34).   After all, what do women know about anything other than cooking and homekeeping?

A mother bear is not begrudged for protecting her cub, but Mrs. Cheney apparently should sit passively by and say nothing while legislation that would negatively impact her daughter tries to pass.  Mr. White's suggestion that Mrs. Cheney should ignore a threat to  her child is an interesting family value.  Why can't Lynne follow Laura Bush's example of having no personality and letting her man make all the decisions? 

Common sense seems to dictate, in this case, that Mr. White should only make remarks on issues that don't expose him as a hypocrite and dolt.  Or to quote a non-Biblical piece of advice, "Best to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

God, Love, and Fags

From the gay spiritual magazine, White Crane, an exerpt from an article by Timothy Leary on same-sex love:

So, if God did not approve of homosexuality, God would not allow homosexuals to actually love one another. Homosexual people would only be able to experience the physical sensations of sex, but not know the rich life-giving experience of shared ecstasy. We would not know that sensation of being lost in ecstasy with another human being. The idea that same-sex love creates ecstasy and direct experiences of the Divine is frightening to people who want (or need) these cultural myths about heterosexual-only romantic love to be true. They do not want to face the idea that God may not care who makes love with whom. From their perspective it's OK if what queer people experience is furtive and hollow, but they dare not assume that we can actually experience real ecstasy. That would mean that God approves of our love because God is involved in it. Perhaps that is why the idea of same-sex marriage is so threatening. It shakes many ideas of love and sex to the core.

As long as same-sex couples can be seen as people who do not, or cannot, love in the same way as heterosexual people, we can be discriminated against. If our experiences of love are incomplete we do not need to be treated as fully human. If our relationships were accepted as loving and life affirming, the entire tenor of the debate over same-sex marriage, and queer civil rights in general, would have to change. If the layer of sentimentalism about heterosexual-only romantic love were lifted, it would blow the "God Hates Fags" arguments right out of the water.

The idea that heterosexual-only romantic love comes from God is a key factor in the mind-set of the religious right and those who oppose our right to live our lives freely and openly. This idea makes it possible to objectify us, demonize us and discount our loving relationships. Our love is thought to be of less value because it is thought to be for only furtive pleasure. Opponents of queer rights and same-sex marriage ignore us when we say that our relationships are life-affirming because it is important for them to believe that the Divine is not involved in our relationships. They are wrong about this.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Words, Words

I was listening to a fascinating interview with journalist Hendrik Hertzberg on NPR the other day. Hertzberg served as President Carter's speechwriter for a time and is author of a recent book,  Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004. He was being interviewed about many different areas of interest, but the interview began with a look at the term "liberal" and the "far left."  The author noted that the far left does not exist any longer. The far left was truly alive during the 60's various civil movements and has actually become now the "far right" with the various militias and "people..who blew up Oklahoma City." 
Hertzberg bemoans the demonization of the term "liberal" and bemoans the fact that "progressive" has replaced it, since, for Hertzberg, liberty (the root of liberal) is a better virtue that progress.  He also rightly comments on how "liberal" and "far left" are both inappropriately applied to John Kerry, and, in general, are grossly misused to stir controversy.
Arguably, Kerry strides the liberal fence, although Republicans seeking to villify John Edwards as a liberal clearly have no conception of what the word means. For a North Carolina politician, the man is a bleeding-heart, but on a wide-scale, he's a step away from Republicanism.
Like Hertzberg I've also thought that "liberal" is a weak attempt at an insult. Why do people consider it insulting. People who are truly liberal must shed the label often just to be heard.  Yet conservative retains a positive connotation largely, when conservative politicians have continued to put power and advantage in the hands of large corporations at the expense of working citizens.
Prior to this broadcast, I was struck by a sermon from a local church broadcast on televison. The preacher railed on about the homosexual agenda and how homosexuals were working against traditional marriage. This was no simple country preacher; the man seemed educated and well-spoken.  How then can he, like so many in the Religious Right, draw such a simple distinction between "homosexual" and "Christian."  People use the terms like they are mutually exclusive.  Just as one can be Southern and Catholic, one can be homosexual and Christian. 
Even from a theological perspective, there is no exclusion. Even if homosexuality is viewed in the context of being sin, the gospels boldly proclaim that all people are sinners . How is this one supposed sin worse or different?  Again, words are used thoughtlessly and perhaps purposefully to hurt and divide.
All of which leads up to my most recently fume-inducer. Bill James is the Mecklenberg County Commissioner. (Mecklenberg is the county where Charlotte is located.  I happen to live just outside of the county in Cabarrus County.)   James is a fundamentalist with a mission: define or redefine the county according to his faith. According to the July 7-13 edition of the Charlotte Creative Loafing, James commented that he "[doesn't] know any liberal preachers of note anymore.  the left doesn't seem to have any activist ministers...Liberals in Charlotte have given up...and won't even bring up gay rights.  I don't know if there are any true liberals in Charlotte."
Actually, many liberal voices exist around Charlotte, no matter how James or his allies may try to drown them out.  This mere statement angers me for its complete dismissal of many good men and women who are fighting the good fight in the region.  It's the view of a man who probably sees anyone or anything that disagrees with him as, if not non-existant, inconsequential.
James, who opposes benefits for unmarried couples (gay or straight) and who thankfully failed to pass recently a bill prohibiting gays and lesbians from being foster parents or adopting,  is proud of his attack on a 1997 production of Angels in America at the Charlotte Repetory Theatere.   James proudly and smugly sees himself as the man to "rid society of behavior that is un-Christian and wrong."  He also implies that liberals can't be true Christians because liberals "historically [have] this inability to accept that Christ is the only way to God...Without the anchor of Christianity...they just make it up as they go along."
James's actions and words mark him as the mean and stupid individual that he is.  Clearly ignorant of anything outside his own world-view, he lacks the meekness, compassion and humility that Christ exhibited in His ministry.  Still, they are but words from a small man and, as they say," sticks and stones". 


Voters in the Hands of an Angry GOP

Bush continues to try and sell the line that a few special individuals (like, say, the same ones  who put him in office) are trying to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that hasn't changed for hundreds if not thousands of years. I find it interesting that Bushie wants to maintain and/or establish an enduring definition of  marriage.
The Constitution was established to be able to adapt to the needs and demands of the times and people. Many religious texts, the Bible included, are understood differently given societal changes and advancements. Shakespeare, for example, while rooted firmly in his time, has themes, situations, and characters that are so universal, they are easily enjoyed and understood by modern audiences or are readapted with modern dressings.

If a society or a people want to redefine marriage, they should be able to. I find it interesting that although the Bible explicitedly prohibits women from being church leaders or even speaking in church, many evangelical leaders and ministers are women today. Why? We have different cultural understandings and values. Sounds a little hypocritical doesn't it to ignore or reinterpret one part and not another?

I'm tired of this slippery slope argument that says gay marriage leads to cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Society always has the right to draw a line in the sand. We can say two men marrying is fine, but marrying your sister or daughter is not. Laws are a negotiation among different people for a common understanding. We may think one thing is fine, but not another. People said the EXACT SAME THINGS about interracial marriage. I don't think Rome is burning quite yet.

As for Bush, regardless of his belief, he is using this issue as a way to solidfy his base of the Religious Right and other conservatives. It's disgusting. He's playing with my citizenship and making a statement about my worth as a human being and American citizenship for political gain. I loathe the chimp that is Bush.

Do you want an American theocracy? Then vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA).

If this amendment were to be ratified, this would only encourage and fortify the position and power of the Religious Right. Already the false idol of the Republican party, this movement will not be satisfied with making homosexuals second-class citizens. 

Fundamentialist continue to define our great nation in the image they think is morally correct. I'm trying to avoid a slippery slope argument here, but it is not too hard to see that we could easily be headed for even more breakdown between state and religion.  Recently on Charlotte public access, I heard a conservative minister extolling the virtues of Christians becoming involved in politics. Indeed, this is one of the few points I agreed on with the man. People of all religions, as a matter of fact, should be encouraged to run for public office.  Mostly because if only Fundamentialist run, they will continue a clear agenda for setting the moral code by their faith.
Fundamentalists seem to completely miss the point of the Christian faith. The whole gospel, indeed the entire message of the Bible, is about people choosing God.  God never imposes Himself on people.  Yet, Fundamentalists seek to remove the choice that is our God-given right.  As an aside, I find it interesting to note that most Fundamentalists are economically conservative,  cutting money to charitable organizations. I personally think that Christianity, taken to its logical extreme, leads to a very socialistic society.  In any event, Fundamentalists labor under the delusion that they are, at any moment, about to be thrown to the lions for the hedonist secular throng. So, apparently, their tactics is to turn the lions loose on the public (or worse, try to invoke God to divinely punish the great unwashed masses).
Secondly, Fundamentalists assert that they are returning us to our great Christian foundation as a country. Much has been written and debated on this subject, and I don't have the time, length, or energy to get into it here, but a quick perusal of information on this matter leads to the conclusion that while some of the founding fathers were Christian, many were not.  Most certainly weren't the raving evangelicals we know today. 
Regardless of their religious faith, this country was established with the promise of freedom of a state-imposed religion. Part of the creation of this country was for the exercise of whatever religion you wanted to. Trying to re-create a "Christian" nation is wrong both theologically, morally, and historically.  Yet, under the guise of persecution, Fundamentalists seek to create a theocratic society. And we all see how well theocracy works in the middle East.  You think Calvin Klein will be excited to design burkas for the modern working woman? Oops, wait, she can't work.  Never mind.
Despite what the Religious Right tells us, I don't feel like God is dangling us over the flames of hell like a spider over a fire  so much as we are dangling over a fire created by these zealots. A fire probably created by book burning and the destruction of our Bill of Rights.