The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Gay Mafia

Of course the fundies think we are all part of the Gay Mafia, and that we go around spreading gayness. In fact, one of the fundie commenters on here keeps accusing me of "forcing" the gay agenda down his or her throat (they are anonymous). Off the point, but how does me posting something on a "puny" and "pitiful little" blog force anyone to do anything? No one has seen me with a gun pointed at someone's head (like Angelina Jolie in Wanted) making them do anything.

Anyway, we don't make anyone gay. My son is not gay.

If he were gay, wouldn't he have better fashion sense? Just kidding Daniel.

But what we can do is make pets gay. Here is my daughter's dog. I bought the outfit.

Does that not make you think of The Village People "In The Navy"? As a mascot, maybe?

Anyway, this article was in the Advocate, and I was a bit surprised thinking they were giving away our secrets. But really they don't. they don't even give any real specifics of successes we have had, although they do imply credit for advances in several states.

"Smith and Guerriero won’t confirm where they directed Gill Action’s donor base in the 2006 cycle. But by way of example, three states that have shown night-and-day progress since Democrats took control of the legislature that year are Iowa, Oregon, and New Hampshire. Prior to 2006, New Hampshire and Iowa were debating bans on same-sex relationship recognition, and Oregon’s domestic-partnership bill had been blocked by Republicans in the statehouse. That all changed when Democrats regained control of both chambers in New Hampshire and Iowa and flipped the house in Oregon. Since then, Oregon has enacted its domestic-partnership bill along with an equal rights bill that had been stalled for 34 years; New Hampshire has passed a civil unions measure and signed it into law; and Iowa has enacted both an LGBT civil rights law and legislation to protect LGBT students from being bullied. "

This is done with grass roots advocacy, working from the bottom up. The only thing secret about Gill Action is where they are focusing their efforts. They wisely don't want to give away which states they are targeting races in. They could actually be working in Alabama.

The article does point out that they are just using the same tactics that Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich have used in the past to make Republican gains. And since Rove had gay staffers, I guess it is only fitting that they should see the folly of their ways and use their talents to help the Democrats. Or should I say "the progressives." Actually this is not a partisan group. The executive director, Patrick Guerriero, is a former Massachusetts state legislator and former head of Log Cabin Republicans, and in Massachusetts Gill Action worked to change the votes of Republican legislators to prevent the proposed amendment against same sex marriage from passing the required second vote to being placed on the ballot. They were successful.

Again, the article makes it seem that Gill Action is some big secret society, but we've heard about it for years, and they do have a web site, Gill Action. The only big secret is the donor list and the specific races and initiatives they point their donors toward.

Rush Limbaugh sees things a different way. He gets graphic in describing how the Democrats are giving in to the "whacko nuts" and "kooks" as he calls the blacks and the gays and anyone else with any sense.

He says "Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles and say 'have your way with me' for 10% and 2% of the population."

Actually, Rush, could it not just be that Democrat leaders and candidates listen to the blacks and gays the rest of the "kooks" because they agree with what we say? But you really have a classy way of putting forth your misguided opinion.

Tomatoes, Honeybees and Goldfish

Kathy has written about bees and tomatoes recently, so I will as well. And goldfish.

We have Cherokee Purple, Celebrity and Beefmaster tomatoes. The first Cherokees and Celebrity tomatoes are ripe, and I think we will have BLT's for dinner tonight. My tomatoes, like most of my yard, do not get a lot of sun all day, so production may be low.

When we were up on the farm near Hartselle in the spring we found a bee tree. When we went back at Memorial Day, I was able to get some pictures, although not the best. If you look closely, over to the lower left, with the branch as a background, you can spot a bee buzzing toward the hole in the tree.

Here is the bee:

Here is the bee's destination, the opening in the tree.

I used to raise bees in Vestavia when I was in high school. I learned a lot about bees then, mostly from a book called "The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture." One of the neatest things was learning that if you go to a popular bee site like a patch of clover or a peach tree, early in the morning when the first bee arrives, you can watch the bee fill up with nectar and then she will leave the site, circle around and take off in the direction of her hive or bee tree. Measure the time until the bee returns (or another bee...from that direction) and, knowing the speed of bee flight, you can calculate the distance to the hive. I remember doing this, and finding a bee tree about 200 yards down the creek that ran behind our house.

This first bee goes back to the hive and communicates to the rest of the bees where the bounty is. Bees use what is called the "waggle dance" to communicate the direction, distance and quality of the location.

This fascinating video shows this process:

Honeybees, of course are in trouble. Read this article from The Guardian and then hope like the rest of us that we discover the cause of bee disappearance and that the bees recover.

Goldfish. We have goldfish in the basin of the fountain, and yesterday I noticed babies!!! This would not be a cause for excitement for those who have had goldfish in ponds for any length of time, probably, but since we are used to declining populations from whatever cause I was glad to see the little guys. I only noticed two, and they are about 3/4 inch long now. Lot's of "nature" goes on in and around the fountain, so they may not make it to big fish size, but I will be watching.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Empty Nest, and Thurso Surfing

The nest is empty. No more Rock Band at all hours. Daniel went back to Tennessee, driving his Suzuki Reno. Getting ready for college.

This morning the Bessemer Barack Obama headquarters opened. The kids (both are voting age) and I got Obama shirts, and there will be other Obama items there, and voter registration going on. I neglected to find out what the hours will be, but when I do I will post them here.

Chris's friends, whose civil ceremony pic I posted the other day live in Thurso, Scotland, and last night we did a little research (very little) and discovered Thurso is known, among other things, for surfing. Wow! In the North Sea.

As a comment on another youtube video said, "when you surf in Scotland there is only one thing for sure that will happen is that your WILLIE will nearly disappear..." Well, this video was shot in January 2007. The middle of winter. When you see spectators dressed in Arctic wear, you have to wonder about the guys in the water. Just goes to show, people can do anything anywhere, if they really want to. And there are lots of Thurso surfing videos on the net. Who knew? The music is Foo Fighters Down in the Park. (I am taking someone's word for that).

Like a lot of Scotland and surrounds, Thurso has some historic buildings, like this one. This is St. Peter's Kirk, this picture was on wikipedia. I could spend a week walking around places like this.

You know I do have some Scottish roots, so it would be right for me to explore. Someday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Great Day for Dems and Gays

While the Bush economy is falling through the cracks (Stocks tumble) it is a banner day for democrats and gay rights.

Start with the democrats. Obama and Clinton appeared together in Unity, New Hampshire today. From CNN,

"We may have started on separate paths ... today our hearts are set on the same destination for America ... to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States," Clinton said.
"We are one party, we are one America."

She said the the way to get her issues addressed was to elect barack Obama as the next president. So come on, the rest of you Hillary supporters, join! There are events all over the country tomorrow, including in Bessemer. From the Barack web site:

Please join Alabama Barack Team Bessemer for our UNITE FOR CHANGE RALLY.
We will kicking off the opening of our local official Barack For President Headquarters in the city of Bessemer. We will be doing a voter registration drive and planning for future activities. We will be selling Barack t-shirts, buttons and other paraphernalia.

Saturday, June 28 at 9:00 AM

Alabama Barack Team Bessemer Headquarters (Bessemer, AL)
Unity flowers and gifts
2301 9th Avenue North Bessemer, AL 35020

Other local events can be found at Barack Obama .

As for GLBT equality,yesterday for the first time in the history of our country a hearing was held on transgender issues Advocate article
"For far too long, transgender people have lived with the fear of losing their job simply because of who they are," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. "Today’s hearing marks a critical step in addressing this travesty once and for all."

Let's hope this leads to an inclusive ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act) .

And also, today Michelle Obama spoke before the Democratic National Committee's Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council.

From the article: ''We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union,'' she said at the event, held days before the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots between gays and New York police, and the city's annual gay pride parade.

Chris sent me this picture of her two good friends at their civil ceremony in Thurso. Wonderful people she says, I hope we get to meet them when we travel to Scotland. No, Chris, we don't have travel plans yet, just wishes.

Congratulations, guys!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Western Star Apology and Water!!!

In The Western Star this week another apology ran. This one is more suitable:


The Western star did not follow company policy on running letters to the editor when a letter ran in the June 4, 2008 edition signed by the Bessemer Neighborhood Association. Association secretary, Joe Openshaw, informed The Western star the letter was not written by the BNA. The newspaper apologizes to the Bessemer Neighborhood Association and to those mentioned in the letter for any inconvenience or problems that its publication may have caused.

Thanks Dale, for setting the record straight. The association accepts the apology.

But the individual wonders about the sincerity. I say that because this apology was read to me and OK'ed by me by Mitch Tribble on June 19 over the phone, and he seemed sincere and concerned that the letter was even published.

Quite different from the email I received from Dale the other day. However, being a peacemaker...I will let it slide, and just be thankful the readers of The Western Star know the truth now.

I might as well admit I also read with interest Representative Priscilla Dunn's column titled The First Steps Toward a Statewide Water Plan. Rep. Dunn (who by the way is always complimentary to me regarding my columns) is absolutely right on the importance of developing a statewide water management team. I have written about water both in The Western Tribune and on this blog enough that everyone should know my concerns.

One such concern is bottled water. To make the bottles used for America's and our water, over 17 million barrels of crude oil are used annually. this is enough to power a million vehicles for a year (Update). That doesn't account for the diesel or gas used to transport the bottles to the retail outlets, or across the sea for those waters that come from Fiji or Europe.

While our household has not cut down 100%, we have greatly reduced our bottled water use by getting a refillable big bottle and cooler for our drinking water. We get refills at Lowes. We still buy an occasional case of Dasani for use in special situations.

Most tap water is fine, and a lot of people I hear are returning to tap water, either with or without a filter. Many refrigerators have a filter and the water that is dispensed is fine.
Enjoy this Water Sculpture.

Plus think of the money you will save by not buying water that is costing as much or more per gallon than gasoline. Conservation. Fiscal. Good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

They're wascally, they are

Those wascally wepublicans

What rock do these people crawl out from under?

This from Doc's Political Parlor. Start with Harri Anne Smith, in a runoff with Jay Love for the Republican nomination for AL-02 to run against Democrat Bobby Bright in November. She accuses Love of voting “for higher income taxes,” trying “to raise taxes one billion,” and voting “for Alabama’s largest tax increase" and the bill referenced in the ad is one, that if you do your research, you find that she voted for as well. Find all of this on the link above.

And from Daily Dixie this is just bizarre. Matt Chancey (you remember,The guy who doesn't know fish) is running for Public Service Commission president. Just go here and see what his wife wrote. What century? Let me give you a hint:

"Was the 19th amendment misguided? Should all women (or all people, for that matter) have a vote?
We have to walk carefully here. Let it be understood that there are good, thoughtful people on both sides of the suffrage issue."
Really? Today?

All I know is that I am for all republican households casting only one vote. For that I give her credit.

And Karl Rove says Obama reminds him of “the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by." Isn't that a laugh, an old white guy from the republican party calling a black guy "country club," when most country clubs full of GOP (Gas, Oil Petroleum) party members won't even let black people in? at least historically.

And I won't write a thing about McCain, he provides his own brand of ineptness on a daily basis without me pointing it out. At least not today. 5:30 Thursday morning comes early.

Oh, and if anyone wants to read my take on Paul's letter to the Romans, read yesterdays comments. He wasn't criticising gays or lesbians in loving committed relationships.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another challenge

From Blethers a link to Frying an Egg where a new challenge has been presented.

"There's a lot to said for cold meat." 100 words or less.

Stop now and compose your own before reading my twisted story, and submit it here and there. I am inserting a picture here so you don't see my subject before writing. This steer was helping in the Foreign Animal Disease exercise last week. Cold meat? No, not this guy.

A bruised jaw and a black eye was not what mom expected. And a raw filet was not what I expected to be slapped on my face, after the backside of her hand slapped my bottom. “There’s a lot to be said for cold meat,” she said, adding “the rest of the family will have theirs on the table tonight, “Warm, grilled.”

I felt like cold meat while my father was pounding me in the stairway. He called me a faggot. “Filthy faggot.”

That was 6 years ago. I am a faggot. A good faggot. Father is dead. Cold meat.


While "faggot" is an offensive word I am using here in literature and in reality, this is how homophobes often refer to gay people, including fathers who beat their kids.

Monday, June 23, 2008

About marriage

I am involved all day for the next few day taking some Incident Command courses from Homeland Security this week. Going well so far. this is ICS 300 and 400...great training.

The Conservative (most were appointed by Republican governors, including conservative hero Ronald Reagan)California Supreme Court that allowed equality in marriage to begin has been asked to keep the initiative to ban the marriages off the November ballot. Story

If these guys married, why shouldn't gays of today. These are 4th century Christian martyrs Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus who were united in the rite of Adelphoesis, or brother-making, considered an early form of religious same-sex marriage, according to John Boswell, noted historian. In this picture, Jesus is the "best man" overlooking the two. This 7th century painting is in the public domain. The links are wiki.

Here is a celebration of marriages from California. this will warm your heart.

And here is Bernard and Nicks wedding from 2006 in London. Nice.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I've had Enough

Everytime I allow open commenting eventually fanatics from the righteous right begin posting hateful comments and use name calling and slander to try to get their point across, so once again, I will be moderating comments. That means some may not show up as quickly.

They think this is a forum for discussion. They criticize the site as not being "democratic." It is not, it is a blog. If you want to spew out hatred and show your lack of concern about ethics and integrity then go somewhere else.

I am tired of having to respond to people who think it is OK to lie, plagiarize and ignore ethical standards in order to promote one's position. Lesson: the end does not justify the means.

How many times do I have to respond to the same questions with the same answers and have them ignore my responses and questions? Since you can't argue with the facts I present, you attack me. Republican tactic.

They say their extremist views are the conservative majority in Bessemer. While I am sure that they are extremists, I doubt they are in the majority. When I respond that McCain represents the conservative viewpoint and Obama the progressive viewpoint, and that I am sure that Obama will carry Bessemer, which will prove my point that progressives outnumber conservatives they just ignore it and shift the discussion to "gay this" and "liberal that".

It is as if a bunch of little Karl Roves are running through Bessemer, trying to ignite hatred with lies and innuendo, just like Rove did in Bush's campaigns, while ignoring the real issues. Well, you are not going to do it on Bessemer Opinions.

It all boils down to: they can't stand the truth.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A More Enjoyable Day (and Post)

Yesterday's post resulted in a busy day with emails and phone calls relating to the "letter" beginning almost immediately after it was posted and lasting the rest of the day. I should write a book. The most interesting call came from Mitch Tribble of Trib publications. We had a...conversation, let's say. And another apology is forthcoming.

Alabama Stonewall Democrats had a great meeting last night, with almost a full house. We welcomed guests from the local Obama campaign as we endorsed Barack Obama for president. Following that we heard from three transgender folks about their concerns and how current and proposed policy and attitudes affect them. We really appreciate Roxanne, Ox and Jay for coming to our meeting and sharing their stories. There is much educating to be done, and I have tried to do so with this post about "The T" and this one about Thomas Beatie. Thomas's baby is due in just a few weeks and I will be following that story as well.

After a day like yesterday let's just relax and watch videos today. I saw this video by Oded Gross on my cousin Wayne's blog. Hope you don't mind me lifting it, Wayne.

And while in the gay vein, this guy explains why he personally is against gay marriage. Thanks Tyler.

And you might have seen this, but Jim and Danny both sent it. Thanks guys.
"I'm voting Republican"

Have a good day and a safe weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Our Patience Has Run Out

Two weeks ago, on June 4, 2008 The Western Star ran a letter under Readers Opinions with the title "Illegal activities on Owen Avenue." The letter was signed "Bessemer Neighborhood Association."

The letter, which I will not reproduce here in its entirety, began with "The Bessemer Neighborhood Association would like to inform you of the activity of the tenants of *** Owen Avenue, Bessemer."

It continued, making accusations of illegal drug activity and sales, truancy, vandalism, and animal cruelty. The letter named 4 people, and described two vehicles and gave their tag numbers and addresses where the people live.

From the paper, "People believed to be involved in illegal drug sales and theft: 'person 1', 'person 2', 'person 3' and 'person 4'.
Tag numbers of cars involved: 'AL tag # 1' and 'AL tag # 2'. "

The letter also said copies were being sent to community leaders, and ended with "We strongly encourage you to take action."

Where do I begin. First and foremost, the Bessemer Neighborhood Association did not write, authorize, or suggest that this letter be written. Furthermore, the officers of the association are not aware of the activities mentioned in the letter.

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association's mission is to improve the quality of life in Bessemer, but trying to do this with slanderous accusations is not in our methods list and we feel that the printing of this letter will be counterproductive to our efforts.

We were promised an apology yet the attempt that was printed in yesterday's paper falls short. Here is the apology as it appeared in the June 18, 2008 Western Star:


The Western Star did not follow the company policy on running letters to the editor when a letter ran in the June 4, 2008 edition from the The Bessemer Neighborhood Association. The newspaper apologizes to those mentioned in the letter for any inconvenience or problems that the letter may have caused them.

Dale Jones, the editor, knows that the Bessemer Neighborhood Association did not send the letter. He knows that we feel a letter of this type will be counterproductive and will undercut our efforts to improve things in Bessemer. Yet his "apology" states that the letter was from our association. The apology says that "he" did not follow company policy when running "our" letter, indicating that the problems with the letter were ours. They were not, because the letter was not ours.

Those are the facts. This is the opinion. Dale Jones should not be running a newspaper. Already, we have documented plagarism by Jones, and now a breach of ethics and professionalism. Any newspaper editor who would:

  • print a letter that defames individuals with no basis
  • would print such a letter without verifying its authenticity
  • would print a letter from an organization without an individual letter writer's name
  • would print such a letter without even getting the name of the person who sent it (so he claims)
  • would print a letter that endangers individuals,

...should not be editing a newspaper. He should be relieved of his duties.

This newspaper is owned by Bob Tribble of Trib Publications, PO Box 648, Manchester GA, 31816. 706-846-4336.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sharing Our Nuclear Technology with Saudi Arabia?

While we ponder ruining our coastlines?

If you read nothing else, at least read this piece from the Wall Street Journal that I mention down the page a bit.

But first,

"President" Bush needs to realize that concerns about the environment do not end when Americans are inconvenienced. Bush asks congress to go along with forgetting the environment.

I realize that the high gas proces ar more than an inconvenience to some, in fact, a hardship. But the Bush administration's failure to seek alternative, progressive forms of energy over the last 7 years is no excuse to endanger the fragile environs of the seas and shores.

I know it is the Republican way to be reactive rather than proactive, and this is just another example of lack of forethought (in spite of scientists and environmentalists and progressives thinking and speaking out about it for a decade).

It would probably take a decade before we saw any oil from offshore drilling. It's not like you can just go out there, insert a tap and start the flow. If we have to wait 10 years, even 5 years before we stop the escalating of gas prices that is not going to help John Q. Public.

Hopefully Congress will not fall for this "destroy the earth but help out big oil" ploy that was probably designed by Bush's oil buddies.

And flip flop McCain is just as bad, thinking this will gain him the Virginia electoral votes.
Meanwhile, why did Saudi Arabia decide to increase production recently. Maybe in return for the U. S. handing over nuclear technology to the nation with all the oil and sunsine (as in solar).

From the Wall Street Journal: In a ceremony little-noticed in this country, Ms. Rice volunteered the U.S. to assist Saudi Arabia in developing nuclear reactors, training nuclear engineers, and constructing nuclear infrastructure. While oil breaks records at $130 per barrel or more, the American consumer is footing the bill for Saudi Arabia's nuclear ambitions.

That was written in this opinion piece, and it just shows the whole world is screwed with Bush as the screwdriver.

Good Lord, bring us Obama!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What I am Doing to Celebrate

I probably won't post anything (but I will respond to comments) for the next couple of days, as we are making a quick trip to Palm Springs to tie the...

Oh, just kidding, but it would be nice. Actually though, the trip is to Montgomery. We are having a statewide disaster drill Tuesday in the Department of Agriculture and I will be preparing and taking part.

But isn't it a grand day as equality comes to California. Anybody, from anywhere, reading this and getting married to your same sex partner? Let me know, we will celebrate. Equality for All

for updates from California...365 Gay or L A Times

While reading the LA Times yesterday I came across this, an article about science trying to determine the origins of being gay or lesbian:

Science asks what gay looks like Well, we knew that part about size, didn't we?

Our project this week might not arouse as much curiosity, but is certainly interesting:

From the June 6, 2008 press release about what we are doing this week:

A Foreign Animal Disease is defined as an important transmissible disease of livestock or poultry believed to be absent from the United States. Foreign animal diseases are considered a threat to the United States when they significantly affect human health, or when there is appreciable cost associated with control or eradication of disease in livestock. In addition to disease control costs, the most immediate consequence of an FAD in the United States is the loss of export markets.
This particular exercise will focus on the state’s response to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

FMD is a severe, highly contagious disease of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer. Humans are not affected by FMD but can carry the disease on their clothing and infect other animals. The 2001 FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom is estimated to have cost the U.K. $20 billion and their cattle market is 10 times smaller than that of the United States. The economic impact of FMD as well as the fact that it is a highly contagious disease makes the preparations to respond to FMD a main concern for the State of Alabama and the United States.

Friday, June 13, 2008

When Jesus Met a Gay Man

I put this on my myspace page a few years ago and probably would not have thought to post it here but then Darryl came along. Darryl has been posting comments on a previous post ( Vote Today... ) about my views on religion and sexuality and he wrote, "There is nothing in the Bible that supports the gay lifestyle. Not a single verse..."

Now Darryl, unlike some of the people placing comments in the past, is cordial, seems intelligent, and is able to carry on a conversation in writing without resorting to screaming and name calling. However, he is wrong. And what he wrote sounded like a challenge.

I could have paraphrased this, but the authors do such a good job and I didn't want to mess up their logical progression of their case.

When Jesus met a Gay Man

An excerpt from The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. Emphasis is mine.

From our days in Sunday School, many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. The story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said he was willing to come to the centurion's house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so. He believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man's faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story.

Just another miracle story, right? Not on your life!

In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians is much clearer. The Greek word used in Matthews account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean son or boy; it could mean servant, or it could mean a particular type of servant one who was his masters male lover. (footnote18) Often these lovers were younger than their masters, even teenagers.

To our modern minds, the idea of buying a teen lover seems repugnant. But we have to place this in the context of ancient cultural norms. In ancient times, commercial transactions were the predominant means of forming relationships. Under the law, the wife was viewed as the property of the husband, with a status just above that of a slave. Moreover, in Jesus' day, a boy or girl was considered of marriageable age upon reaching his or her early teens. It was not uncommon for boys and girls to marry at age 14 or 15. (footnote19) Nor was it uncommon for an older man to marry a young girl. Fortunately civilization has advanced, but these were the norms in the culture of Jesus day.

In that culture, if you were a gay man who wanted a male spouse, you achieved this, like your heterosexual counterparts, through a commercial transaction purchasing someone to serve that purpose. A servant purchased to serve this purpose was often called a pais.

The word boy in English offers a rough comparison. Like pais, the word boy can be used to refer to a male child. But in the slave South in the nineteenth century, boy was also often used to refer to male slaves. The term boy can also be used as a term of endearment. For example, Jeff's father often refers to his mother as his girl. He doesn't mean that she is a child, but rather that she is his special one. The term boy can be used in the same way, as in my boy or my beau. In ancient Greek, pais had a similar range of meanings.

Thus, when this term was used, the listener had to consider the context of the statement to determine which meaning was intended. Some modern Christians may be tempted to simply declare by fiat that the Gospels could not possibly have used the term pais in the sense of male lover, end of discussion. But that would be yielding to prejudice. We must let the word of God speak for itself, even if it leads us to an uncomfortable destination.

Is it possible the pais referred to in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 was the roman centurion's male lover? Lets look at the biblical evidence.

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion's entimos duolos. The word duolos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke's account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion's son; his use of duolos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care for indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means honored. This was an honored slave (entimos duolos) who was his master's pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion's son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option: he was his master's male lover. (footnote20)

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Mathew's account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus' power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, "When I tell my slave to do something, he does it." By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking of his slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to offer a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos duolos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing: a slave who was the master's male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: in this story Jesus healed a man's male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion's pais becomes ill experiencing some type of life threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus' healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before him. "Rabbi", my the word gets caught in his throat. This is it the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. "Rabbi, my pais, yes, my pais, lies at home sick unto death." Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, "Then I will come and heal him."

Its that simple! Jesus didn't say, "Are you kidding? I'm not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!" Nor did he say, "Well, it shouldn't surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God's judgment on your relationship".

Instead, Jesus' words are simple, clear and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. "I will come and heal him."

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus' word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around him those who were already dumbfounded that he was willing to heal this man's male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthews account, "I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel." In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn't just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn't miss the point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: "I tell you, many will come from the east and the west (i.e., beyond the borders of Israel) to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs (i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven) will be thrown into outer darkness." By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion, those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God's grace are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And he also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

With this story, we rest our case. Who could ask for more? In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. What more do our fundamentalist friends want? Who is Lord? Jesus or cultural prejudice?


18. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978), page 16; Bernard Sergent, Homosexuality in Greek Myth (Beacon Press, Boston, 1986), page 10.

19. Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, Macon, 1994), page 554.

20. For an excellent and thorough discussion of the terms pais and entimos duolos in these two gospel accounts, see Donald Mader's article The Entimos Pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, (Source: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy, Harland Publishing, Inc, New York, 1998).

If you have made it this far, you may want to read more. The book is The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, published by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jesus MCC. Or just ask. I will loan you the book.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hate Crime in South Carolina No Big Deal

Sean Kennedy was killed in May 2007 by Stephen Moller, of that there is no doubt. But Moller will only spend about two and a half years in prison for the crime. His sentence is a whopping three years, but he gets credit for time served. In South Carolina, cock fighting lands a harsher sentence.

Sean was openly gay.

Moller punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground and causing a fatal head injury.

Moller claims he didn't know Sean was gay, but an openly gay kid in town who particpates in pride and frequents the same bars...that's hard to believe. Plus there's this.

The warrant issued soon after the crime alleged that the assault was motivated by the fact that Kennedy was gay.

Moller made a phone call shortly after the crime and here is a transcript from MSNBC: "Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend's feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the f--- out. (laughter). The f---ing faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-f---ing nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The mother-------. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my god---- hand on his teeth that f---ing bitch"

He calls the person on the phone "man" and refers to Sean as the listeners "boyfriend."

South Carolina doesn't have a hate crimes law.

Moller will spend two and a half years in prison. Under South Carolina law, felony ill treatment of animals (torture or killing) is punishable by up to five years in prison. Cockfighting can land you three years in prison, plus a fine, a stiffer sentence than killing a gay kid, according to South Carolina Equality.

Elke Kennedy, Sean's mother, said "There was no justice today for Sean. The sentence that Stephen Moller received, in my opinion, is a joke and a slap on the wrist. Once again, it proves that in South Carolina there is no justice."

"I understand that the judge had to sentence according to the plea agreement and the existing restrictions under the law. But it doesn't make it any easier for me. Our judicial system, in my opinion, is a joke."

"Our solicitor invited me to help him with the changing these laws. Well, Mr. Ariail, I am here and I am willing."

"I will still continue to push to get laws changed so no other mother has to stand here to tell you the same things," she said.

In Alabama, there is no hate crimes law either, and Alabama justice is no better. But at least since that post the Alabama House of Representatives did pass a hate crimes bill, only to see it die (it was ignored, caused by a filibuster) in the Senate. But we made progress. Let's hope progress continues... for Sean in South Carolina, and for Scotty Joe, Billy Jack and the others in Alabama.

You see, in Birmingham last weekend a thousand people particpated in the Pride Parade, many of them young like Sean. Every one of those parade participants walked by a sign saying that gay are "Worthy of Death." There were other signs, too, but that one sticks out in my mind.

Worthy of Death. Aside from the fact that we are all going to die, displaying a sign like that only serves to encourage people like Stephen Moller and Christopher Gaines, whether they have carefully planned their crime or are caught up in emotion or drunk, "worthy of death" is now in their twisted mind, and to them, the killing is justified.

And it may not be that particular sign. It can be hateful language from the pulpit, or from a "pro-family" organization or such.

Someone tried to post a link to a group that encourages hatred toward gays on yesterday's blog and I removed it. Read the comments from yesterday to learn more about that.

Stop the hatred, that's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obama and Christian Leaders

Barack Obama met with Christian leaders, including Bishop T. D. Jakes, Rich Cizik (vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals), Rev. Franklin Graham and others.

Graham, son of Billy Graham, found the senator "impressive" and "warm".

Cizik said the issues discussed Tuesday included "protecting the traditional family, same-sex marriage, gay rights, religious freedom, genocide, poverty and hunger in America, and how we might even improve America's standing in the world."

He said he told Obama: "Religious Americans want to know why is it you love this country and what it stands for and how we can make it better."

Cizik said participants agreed not to give specifics of Obama's responses to their questions, but that "there was nothing softball about this meeting and that's the way he said he wanted it."

Cizik also stresses that this was not a meeting of people endorsing Obama, just a learning experience, I guess.


You know, its OK to be religious and support Obama. Christianity is, in spite of what some think, and in spite of how the media often portrays it, made up of a diverse group of beliefs and followers, and Barack Obama is, a Christian.

It is not like the United Church of Christ is way out there or anything. It is considered a "mainline Protestant denomination" with about 1.2 million members . Surveys show that some of their congregations are very progressive, some are very conservative and most are middle of the road. Their beliefs and practices are certainly no more controversial than, say, the Catholics (who previously had denied one of the attendees at Obama's meeting communion because he has endorsed Obama) or Southern Baptists (who are still struggling with how to suppress women..."To consider churches with women senior pastors to not be "in friendly cooperation" with the denomination" is a proposal they are considering for next years convention. Plus there's that whole "submit graciously" thing).

Anyway, United Church of Christ began a campaign a few years ago, based on the quote "Never place a period where God has placed a comma" meaning God is still speaking. Remember this ad that was banned from some tv networks:

The "Bouncers" ad allowed the white, straight (appearing) couple and their children into church, but denied the African American, the gay couple, the disabled and the Latino entrance. Then it shows the text "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

They followed this with the "Ejector Seat" ad, in which certain people are "ejected" from church and states "God doesn't reject people. Neither do we. The United Church of Christ: No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here."

This is not an endorsement of the United Church of Christ, rather a suggestion that all Christians seek an understanding of God's inclusiveness and reject the exclusionary policies that many churches practice. After all, it is kind of ridiculous to believe in God's creation but to place higher value on those members of creation that are just like oneself and a lesser value on those who are different. But that is exactly what sexism, racism and homophobia practiced by some churches are doing.

No wonder membership is down among most denominations. American people are more interested in uniting around stopping genocide and war, enviromental issues, and human rights than in the divisive messages we hear from some church leaders. Start doing something that really helps the world and your membership might grow.

Oh, and vote for Obama.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Here comes Barack!

Check out Alabama Stonewall Democrats new myspace page and become a friend. Alabama Stonewall

We also have a Facebook group, Alabama Stonewall Democrats, that we invite you to join. Both of these sites are new, and we are growing and updating things almost daily, so visit frequently.

Sunday Alabama Democratic Party executive Director Jim Spearman told me that the Barack Obama campaign said in a conference call on Friday that they would be putting campaign staff in every state. That includes Alabama, and the presumptive location will be Birmingham.

While I think it is entirely possible for Obama to carry Alabama ( Hey, I thought Kerry could too) I am not sure the campaign thinks that. What I do know, however, is that if Obama is spending money here, it helps in three ways.

  • Spending money here forces McCain to spend money here. That draws money away from his campaign in other states, states that might be more of a toss-up.

  • Spending money here and running a campaign here generates excitement for the party and will help other democratic candidates (such as Vivian Figures) get votes (and money).

  • Running a campaign here will help to maintain the excitement among young voters who supported him in the Alabama primary, and keeping them engaged will result in higher voter turnout among young people in November.

I wonder if Barack Obama himself will come to the Alabama headquarters to speak to local staff and volunteers. He spoke to his campaign staff in Chicago a few days know, he had more people in his campaign office than John McCain had at the event in Kenner the other day.

If you are planning to help in this campaign (and you should), watch this video. It is kind of long, but pretend you are one of the volunteers or staff members he is speaking to, and then be ready to roll.

Here is what the campaign says about campaigning in every state:

Our presidential campaign will be the first in a generation to deploy and maintain staff in every single state.

We need to expand our base to register new voters and reach out to Independents and Republicans in every part of the country. And we need to overcome the three-month head start that John McCain has had to raise money and build support.

You can help take our campaign for change to all 50 states.

Make a matching donation now and double your impact

I want to urge you to make a donation, because your donation will be matched by a fellow supporter, thus doubling what you contribute.

Donate to Barack here and double your contribution.

There is so much at risk if we let this opportunity slip by.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Beauties of Pride

Part of Pridefest is entertainment by local and not local performers. These girls are all locals, I believe, and appear regularly at local clubs, although I didn't catch the name of each.

Sorry for the anonymity, girls.

This picture was actually taken Saturday night, amongst the bubbles. How beautiful.

Here is Libertee Belle, thrilling the audience as usual. At the end of her performance, she threw off her hat and the delight of everyone.

More entertainment

Wow. I mean...WOW

In a hurry

Look at those...heels!

How pretty!

These are but a few of the entertainers, as I spent much of the afternoon manning the booth. Next year I plan to recruit others to work the table and catch more of the entertainment.

Central Alabama Gay Pride Parade 2008

If you missed the parade, or even if you attended, here are a few pictures taken as we were getting ready. Since I was driving, I could not take pictures of all the entries, but you can see it all here. About 90 pictures.

Thank you Central Alabama Pride, thank you Parade Committee, thank you Larry Langford (for creating such interest and boosting attendance to record levels).

Preparing one of the flags

Ben and Jason helped carry the huge flag from Atlanta.

Here is our Stonewall Democrats truck...the letters across the back spell out AlObama. Our chief bubble maker is Bessemer resident Glenn Shadix. Other Stonewall members are there ready to load up.

Obama bubbles like these decorated the sides of the truck.

Real bubbles floated from the truck

Here Glenn has met Libertee Belle, who has been a parade participant since the first parade in 1989. Libertee performed at Sunday's Pridefest, more about that on the next post.

Read what the Birmingham News said about Glenn and Pride Here

Our elected officials, Howard Bayless and Patricia Todd.

One other picture taken Saturday night will be posted with Sunday's pictures because it of of a beauty. On that post I will have nothing but beauties.

Be sure and look at the pictures on the Central Alabama Pride link at the beginning of the post

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Challenge

On Chris's blog Blethers she wrote of a challenge, of writing a story or a poem of 100 words based on the sentence "She was just frying an egg when she expired."

She had seen the blog on Wordswordswords and you can go there and read all the "entries." But please, compose your own, and post both here and there. Come on Southerners, show 'em what we've got.

Here is my story, to get it started:

At daylight she arose and put the coffee on. She sat the cream on the table, and would wait. One cup was all that she would allow; caffeine had ceased to be her friend. A bowl of grape nuts, and her day would begin. Since her husband had passed, this was her morning.


Today would be different. After three years of grief, she would start over. Her dress had been ironed; today would be sunny side up. She poured herself a glass of juice. The toast was in the oven.

She was just frying an egg when she expired.

And here is my favorite, 80 words I believe, from Alison:

He heard the thump and went upstairs to investigate. She never locked the door. The smell of hot cooking oil met him as he stepped into the flat. She was lying across the kitchen doorway where she’d fallen backwards. Lightly, he stepped over her and turned off the gas. He put a finger to her neck. Nothing. he shrugged his shoulders, picked up a fork that was lying on the draining board and ate the egg straight from the pan.

Amazing what can be told in few words. Give it a try, and go to Wordswordswords and read the rest.

If you have difficulty posting a comment, email your story or poem to me and I will post it for you.

The Flags are Flying

Channel 6 reported last night that the Rainbow Flags are flying in Birmingham!

This video is dedicated to Mayor Larry Langford. Listen to the words, mayor. For the rest of us...Dance!

Actually the video isn't that great, but the song is nice.

I want to urge everyone to come to the parade Saturday. You don't have to be gay to enjoy a parade, but if you are gay, you have no excuse. You should either be part of a group taking part, or on the sidelines cheering us on.

If you are not gay, please lend your support. Show the mayor that Birmingham is an accepting city, and is proud of all its residents. The line up for the parade starts at 6:30...the parade kicks off at 8:30. Just go to Five Points South and join the crowd lining up for the parade.

The lead unit in the parade will be a Veterans group. How fitting, on the week that Sam Nunn, one of the principle lawmakers responsible for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, speaks out telling America it is time to revisit the policy. Gays and lesbians now and always have fought to defend our freedom, even when they do not enjoy the rights and freedoms they are fighting for.

Alabama Stonewall Democrats will be in the line-up. Watch for our bubble blowing pick up truck, and speaking of Stonewall Democrats, join us at our next meeting June 19, 5:30 at Logan's in Crestwood. We heard at the Interfaith meeting the other night that we need to get more political, and certainly if policy is to be changed it must come through the governing bodies, local, state and federal. And face it, the Democrats are the only ones who (somewhat) consistently stand up for our rights. So join us.

And make friends with us on myspace:
Join our group on Facebook: Alabama Stonewall Democrats Group

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The "T"

Last night a Town Hall Meeting was held at Covenant Community Church and several issues were presented by panelists as well as members of the audience. Inclusion of the "T" was a hot topic. "T" is the T in GLBT and means "transgender" and one aspect is whether "T" can be included in Alabama's hate crimes law...which someday may pass*. Of course, the immediate response is "Duh," of course transgender people should receive the same protections as other sexual minorities, but the nuts and bolts (no pun intended) of the issue requires analysis of what version of the bill could actually pass, etc.

* The house version of the bill did pass this year, but senate filibustering did not allow it to be brought up in the senate.

Transgender is always a topic that interests people, for a variety of reason, whether they admit it or not. That is why this post (Thomas Beatie) was my most popular post ever, and still gets hits on a daily basis. Some people are interested because they have a family member or friend who is dealing with such issues. Others are interested only because they see an issue of human rights. Some just think it is hot.

The Lady Chablis, in her book "Hiding My Candy", defines "T" as "[n.] The truth", and certainly, that is a part of a transgender person's conflict. Discovering themselves and determining how and when to let others know. The Doll (The Lady Chablis' stage name) defines "My T (to know my T, to tell my T)" as "[n.],[v.phr] Knowing where my candy's hidden; knowing that I even have candy". OK.

If you saw the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", The Lady Chablis played herself in the movie. I met The Lady Chablis in Savannah and saw her show at Club One.

Watch this clip, and in addition to learning about The Lady, you will hear her say "One thing I believe in with every human being is if your soul and your spirit says its the right thing, then it is the right thing."

The Lady Chablis "pours the tea" or tells the truth, as she defines the phrase in the book.

Jim Berendt, author of "Midnight..." says "In the South, people regard other people's lives as works of art." That may be the "southern way" of looking at others, but it sure has been lost here in Birmingham. One only has to follow the story of Larry "Flip Flop" Langford and the Pride flags. After refusing to allow the flags on city property, he said that the flags could be put up after some pressure from William Bell and other councilors. But late yesterday, he reversed himself again and said the city would not put the flags up.

We have been assured by Central Alabama Pride that the flags will be up, however, in time for the parade (of course they were supposed to be up during all of Pride Week) but that could mean Pride Committee members on ladders which might not be a good thing. Let's hope they find a bucket truck to use.

This parade on Saturday will include a 100 foot rainbow flag from Atlanta, and another large flag from Memphis, so we will not be short on rainbow color that day. Come join us (6:30, line up, 8:30 Parade, Five Points), and show the Mayor that Birmingham does support the gay community. With Pride.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Change I Can Believe In

Didn't I say last night would be historic? Of course, we knew that Barack Obama would gain enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination...and it would have been just as historic had Hillary Clinton been able to claim victory. But for those of us who grew up in Birmingham Alabama, and were alive when, say, George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door, this is monumental.

My kids do not seem to be amazed at Obama's nomination. That is change. In spite of all the health disparities that still exist, in spite of systemic racism in education, and in spite of the misguided visions of some African American leaders (who don't realize that new challenges require new methods), America has changed over the last 40 years and we now have a candidate who as a result of those changes will take America in a new direction in November...well, January.

Pundits on all the networks think the election in November will be close, and it might. But I don't see how. There is an old, tired campaign full of old, failed policies and a young, vibrant campaign exploring solutions to the problems that the 8 Bush years are leaving us. That is what it boils down to.

Contrast the speeches last night of John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain, in Kenner Louisiana, drew a crowd more the size a mayoral candidate might draw, and certainly was less than inspiring. Barack Obama spoke before 17,000 supporters in the arena that will hold the Republican convention (with 15,000 more waiting out side) and delivered one of the great speeches of our time. Here is about 8 minutes of it, and unlike yesterday, this video is SFW, suitable for work and home and school and everywhere.

All the world is a stage, and if you don't believe it, consider this. Forty five years ago, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his "I have a dream" speech.

This year, on August 28, exactly 45 years later to the day, Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. With Obama's history of oratory and the fact that the real history will be made that night as he accepts, you can bet that this will be one of the most electrifying speeches ever and that the number of televisions tuned in will break records.

If you remember, I said it was not easy for me to make the decision to support Hillary, and so throwing my support to Obama is easy. As it should be for all Democrats and independents.

Let's make our state AlObama 08.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Vote Today...but why? And Marriage Equality

You should too. Polls are open till 7:00.

People in South Dakota and Montana are voting today as well. I expect Senator Clinton to bow out gracefully, after tonight. If and when she does...I will unite with other democrats in support of Barack Obama.

In the meantime, we will watch tonight's returns with interest, as history unfolds before us.

But as I voted today, I couldn't get Hacking Democracy out of my mind.

We watched the HBO documentary last night, and if you see the first 5 minutes, you have to watch the rest. During those five minutes, they remind us that in Volusia County Florida in 2000 that Al Gore received negative 16, 022 votes in one precinct. A precinct that had only 585 registered voters. 412 of those voters actually cast ballots, and Bush got 2813 and Gore -16, 022. On Diebold Voting machines. You don't think their machines can be hacked? Watch .

You can watch Hacking Democracy on HBO in Demand, or just go to Youtube and search "hacking democracy" and there it is, in several parts, 1,2,3...9.

And we are supposed to have faith in the system? Well,! And believe that housewive's in Seattle and professors at Princeton are on top of things.

Meanwhile, as we wait for tonight's results, attitudes about same sex marriage are changing. Much like attitudes toward interracial marriage changed, but at a slightly quicker pace.

Here is a graph of attitudes toward interracial marriage.

In 1958 94% of Americans were against the concept while only 4% approved. In 1968, around the time the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that interracial marriage could not be denied, only 20 % approved. Not until 1991, 25 years later, did more people support than oppose, and now, a large majority does.

Now look at the graph for same sex marriage.

Blue line is support, red is oppose and black is don't know. The blip is around 2004 when Republicans used gay marriage as a wedge issue. At this point, according to the latest Gallup poll, about 46% approve, so the clear trend is acceptance, and I predict that 2009 will be the year that the lines cross. As marriages occur in California, people will see that it is OK, even preferred, to allow people to live in loving committed relationships that support one another and support society.

Jay Brannan has a new song, Housewife. Who would not want a life partner like the one he sings of? This song is NSFW, it includes the F word, so don't play at work. Unless you work in a really cool place. The song is available on itunes, the album will be out in July.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tuesday's Primary...and the Alabama Sturgeon

I will be surprised if this post ends up on Bessemer Opinions because, at least at this end, the "internets" (to quote our president) is acting funky.

Tomorrow is the Alabama Primary, and although we already had the presidential portion of our state primary, the rest of the offices are up for grabs Tuesday. Believe it or not, I only have a couple of comments.

Number one, if voting in the Democratic Primary, which everyone should, vote for Dan Weinrib for tax assessor. He is the incumbent, and even though his office slipped up a bit when assessing opponent Gaynell Hendrick's tax liabilities, he took full responsibility. Dan came and spoke with us at an Alabama Stonewall meeting, and certainly is the most qualified candidate.

His opponent, Ms. Hendricks, you remember, played the race card and tried to prevent Patricia Todd from assuming the office she had won at the ballot box. We are moving past race based politics (one can dream, again) so we should move past her as well.

On the Republican side, there is not much to crow about, except for the Public Service Commission President race. Here there are three candidates. One is Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who has the endorsement of Mike Huckabee. That in itself is reason enough to vote against her, but in the ad he stresses that she is pro-life. Of course, that is the expected position of republicans, but does being pro-life have anything to do with the public service commission?

Then there is Matt Chancey, whose ads make me laugh every time, still, that I see them: "Radical environmentalists have stopped nuclear power and are the leading cause of our high energy bills."

The leading cause of our high energy bills? Radical environmentalists? Which oil field covered desert sand does this guy have his head buried in? TVA may be interested in building a nuclear plant, and there are pros and cons of this type of alternative energy, but Matt...the Public Service Commission has no oversight over TVA and neither will you.

Also, Matt seems upset that the Alabama Sturgeon is being protected, saying "Recently, Alabama Power and others lost a lawsuit in federal court to remove a certain type of fish from the Endangered Species List. The fish in question is genetically identical to other fish not on the endangered list. But this did not stop environmental extremists, who care more about the habitat of one type of fish than they do about the habitat for human beings" on his web site.

But he fails to mention that Alabama Power Company's customers are paying for both sides of the lawsuit, as our tax money funds the government side of the case and your (in Bessemer we don't use Alabama Power) rate payments paid for Alabama Power's side. A waste of your money, just like those stupid bird advertisements.

article about that.

As for the claim that the fish are genetically identical, Chancey needs to read this article, Genetic distinction of pallid, shovelnose, and Alabama sturgeon: emerging species and the US Endangered Species Act , by Donald Campton et al, published in Conservation Genetics in March 2000 ISSN 1566-0621 (Print) 1572-9737 (Online).

From the abstract: "Overall, these mtDNA results indicate significant reproductive isolation between pallid and shovelnose sturgeon in areas of natural sympatry, and recent evolutionary divergence of Alabama sturgeon. These mtDNA results provide the first molecular genetic evidence for distinguishing the three Scaphirhynchus species and, coupled with morphological and biogeographic data, indicate that pallid and Alabama Sturgeon should be evaluated as distinct species under theESA."

"Recent evolutionary divergence." Something that Chancey may not understand. But what it means is these three fish have/are in the process of becoming distinct species. OMG! Evolution, right before our eyes!

About the fishies

So, just don't vote in the Republican primary, that is the solution to this problem.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cahaba Lilies, Pitcher Plants and George Folkerts

Saturday Bobby and I travelled to West Blocton to see the Cahaba Lilies. Nice. The annual Cahaba Lily Festival was going on, but the river and its flora was really the draw.

You can learn more about the Cahaba Lily, aka shoals lily, at where there are really nice pictures and directions on how to get to the shoals where they are in abundance and more. My pictures were made from a little bit of a distance, because I was not prepared with flip flops or old shoes to wade in, and a woman exiting the water barefoot was complaining about cut feet.

The portion of the Cahaba river that holds the most lilies is in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge

In Sunday's paper is an article about pitcher plants and George Folkerts, former professor of mine at Auburn. I would provide a link to the story but on they ask me to sign in as an archive reader or some such nonsense (the story is a current story of today's paper) to view this story.

Dr. Folkerts instilled in me an interest in ecology and preservation that still is a great part of my biology interest. There is a site dedicated to him at George Folkerts Blog , there I have found comments from people I was in school with.

One was Audrey Goins, who I used to travel to Baldwin County with to do research on pitcher plants and a mosquito species that laid eggs that hatched in the pitchers. I can't remember the species name of the mosquito, but I remember being fascinated walking through the bogs and seeing the variety of plant life and learning how the animal and insect life interacted with the plants.

Maybe I can re-connect with Audrey, she lives in Oakland California now, and is now Audrey Brichi. Email me if you see this Audrey.

There is a poem written by Dr. Folkerts on the site. Here it is ( the links were already in the poem):


My former choice collecting spots
Are shopping center parking lots.
The meadow, once abuzz with bee
Is still now, thanks to DDT.
Shades of Rachel Carson,
Whatever will become of me

The glen where trilliums lolled in shade
And toadlets hopped, and chipmunks played,
In a watery grave has lain for years
Drowned by the Corps of Engineers.
My wild world is sinking fast,
Whatever will become of me

The marsh, a haunt of coots and rails,
Where Typha waved and wagged its tails,
Succumbed to an ignominious fate,
It's a cloverleaf on the interstate.
Nature heaves a dying breath,
Whatever will become of me

Clear birch‑edged stream with fauna rank,
With iris blue upon your bank,
Your poisoned pools I now scan,
My seine haul yields one Falstaff can.
Everything I love is gone,
Whatever will become of me

The fields are being, with great precision
Transformed into a subdivision,
The eagle falls, the lily dies,
And on the road a 'possum lies.
No doubt what will become of me,
Molecular Biology.


There is also a salamander named after him, Desmognathus folkertsi, and I lifted this picture right off of the site, with apologies.

George, you and I both have gone from bog to blog and you have left a mark, a positive one, on many people. Thank you.