The Year of Moving Forward

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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ex-gay pushback

This is background for what you will hear next week about so-called "ex-gay" therapies, which have been discredited by every professional organization.

  • American Psychiatric Association (“the risks…are great” and include “self destructive behavior,” and “reinforces self hatred…already experienced by the patient”)
  • American Psychological Association (“so-called conversion therapy is not supported by the science”)
  • American Medical Association (“oppose any psychiatric treatment, such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy”)
  • American Counseling Association (supports “appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based on ignorance or unfounded beliefs about same gender sexual orientation)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated…provokes guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation)
  • National Association of Social Workers (No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful).

We believe that truth wins out, and here are the facts. Gay teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and are at higher risk of dropping out of school, being kicked out of their homes, and turning to life on the streets for survival. They are at risk because their distress is a direct result of the hatred and prejudice that surround them, not because of their inherently gay or lesbian identity orientation.

Next week several events will take place in Birmingham regarding an ex-gay ministry. Watch this site, facebook,, and the news for more information.

Thank you Mitchell Gold, Wayne Besen.

Update in Bessemer. Aaron Killings and Denise Blue Poe are back on the job. No explanation given.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekly wrap

If you've missed me...I've been at a loss for words since Larry Langford was convicted. It's not the conviction that has me baffled, its what his wife, Melva said:

Only in Alabama can a black man not get a fair trial.
Then her husband agreed:

They struck as many blacks off that jury as they could.
Oh, well, my response to that will be forthcoming, probably in the form of a Western Tribune column. I'm trying to avoid a letter writer's bait that has been dangled in front of me. You know...if not, see the notes on my facebook page.

So on to other subjects.

This has to be just about the quickest response to one of my columns I have ever seen. This column was printed on Tuesday and posted on Wednesday, and then the next day the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Regina Benjamin as U. S. Surgeon General.

Glad to know that Senate republicans are reading my column.

Of course their quick action may have also been because they got a tongue lashing from Senate majority leaders Harry Reid.

Late last week, President Obama declared a national emergency because of the flu
outbreak, Mr. Reid noted, adding: “Unfortunately, though, right now we have no
permanent surgeon general in place. And the reason is as simple as it is
mind-boggling: Republicans in the Senate refuse to confirm President Obama’s
exceptionally qualified nominee for this job.”

In addition to Dr. Benjamin, Mr. Reid singled out Dr. Tara O’Toole, who would oversee bioterrorism defense at the Department of Homeland Security. “For that position, President Obama nominated an expert in combating both pandemics and bioterror attacks,” Mr. Reid said, adding: “Imagine that: Americans are bracing against a flu epidemic here at home and threats of terrorism from abroad, the President nominated someone highly experienced in both of those areas, and Republicans are saying no.”

Congratulation to Dr. Benjamin.

In Bessemer, the Western Tribune is reporting that city attorney Charlie Waldrep has fired two of its attorneys, Aaron Killings and Denise Blue Poe.

That might throw a wrench into...well, let's just wait and see.

Update: Aaron Killings and Denise Blue Poe Are back on the job.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Be sure to read my Western Tribune column that follows.

It's time to celebrate.

In my Western Tribune column on November 19, 2008 , I made the following prediction:

"Barack Obama may not immediately grant all of our wishes, but I would be willing to bet that the first legislation that mentions sexual orientation to be passed and signed by a president will occur within the first year of his administration. And then we will be on the way to a nation that values each of its citizens."

Moments ago, that prediction came true. President Obama has signed legislation enacting the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

It took 11 years after the murder of Matthew Shepard and and James Byrd, Jr before this legislation was signed.

Thankfully we now have a president who supports (however slowly) our community, unlike the previous president who...well we won't even bring that up.

To see what the gay community must do to see that equality is reached, go here.

Locally, in Birmingham, we can celebrate because the Board of Education has passed a policy on Anti-Bullying that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and expression!!! The first of its kind in the state. Thanks to board member Howard Bayless for leading the way on this. Will Bessemer follow suit?

Now, if we can just get a verdict in the Larry Langford trial.

Update: Langford guilty on all counts. Carole Smitherman is now mayor of Birmingham. Let's see about electing Patrick Cooper.

Here's a video from my college years. Three Dog Night

Western Tribune column October 28, 2009 Party of No

Western Tribune column today

The party of "no" will be left behind

I’m beginning to wonder why we trust our health care to insurance companies, and why anyone would trust the Republicans to lead on this issue.

We are in the middle of an H1N1 flu pandemic, and seasonal flu season has not even started yet. The H1N1 flu is affecting and killing people in different age groups than the seasonal flu.

The surgeon general holds a key position in educating the public on health issues, and presumably if we had one she could be at work during the current pandemic.

But the top Republican on the senate health committee, Michael Enzi, has indicated he will block the confirmations of Dr. Regina Benjamin and other top health picks from moving forward because of a so-called gag order on health insurance companies that would prevent them from telling their views on health care legislation.

Even after the Obama administration retreated on the order, Enzi is still working to stall the nominees.

Members of the party of “no,” the Republicans, claim health care decisions should be between a patient and his or her doctor. They say they do not want the government involved.

Yet they are fine with insurance companies making decisions about an individual’s care. On an almost daily basis we hear examples of such practices.

A friend of mine had a drug prescribed by a physician, and the pharmacy would not fill it because the insurance company wanted it changed to another drug. Not a generic. Another drug.

I requested a refill of a prescription from a pharmacy one day before I was to run out because I was leaving town. The pharmacy had no problem with filling it, but my insurance company would not pay because I was filling the prescription a day early.

Insurance companies have refused to cover babies who were too fat, and now refuse to cover those who are too thin.

The television and the internet are full of stories of people who have been denied a procedure, or denied coverage, because an insurance company decided so.

Yet when the government is involved, as with the veterans and the seniors, the decisions seem to be made by the doctors and patients.

The party of “yes, we can” is going to pass health care reform with a public option that is now being described as “Medicare, part E (for everyone).

And the party of “no” will be left behind.

Monday, October 26, 2009


There is an effort underway to ban divorce in California, based on the same arguments used to pass Prop 8, which took away the right of couples to marry in that state. Namely, protecting traditional marriage, and protecting the children.

Live blogging from Lala's trial here , not much going on yet. It's 9:51 and the attorneys are just now returning to the courtroom from the judge's chambers. Here we go!

Why in the world would the senate even consider health care reform with a public option where states can opt out. How fair is that? I live in a state where one company has a practical monopoly, and where the public option option is desperately needed. But we are also probably one that would opt out. So where does that leave us? Separate but unequal, that's where.

We need a public option. Plain and simple.

Did you know that slavery existed long after the Civil War in Alabama? Especially in Bibb, Jefferson and Shelby counties. More on this later.

The Tea Party Express is coming to Birmingham on November 9. At noon, at Linn Park. I hope that good supporters of health care reform and those who support our president will be there to contrast with the crazies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jefferson Jackson Dinner 2009

The Jefferson Jackson dinner was held last night, and as usual, elected officials and candidates from Bessemer or who want to represent Bessemer were there. State senator Priscilla Dunn and her husband Grover Dunn, tax collector for the Bessemer Cutoff, were there.

Claire Mitchell, aiming to take senator Dunn's place in the house, was there also.

As was Terri Sewell, hoping to take the place of Artur Davis as AL-07 representative.

Of course Davis and his competition, Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks were there, and most other elected democrats.

The big hit of the night was West Virginia governor Joe Manchin (who grew up neighbors with Nick Saban), who reminded us that politics was like driving a car. Park and neutral you don't go anywhere, but R, like republican takes you in reverse and D, like democrat, drives you forward.

He also made a quip about Abraham Lincoln probably being a closet democrat. That's not the only closet Mr. Lincoln may have hidden in if you believe a recent book, which I mentioned here, titled The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln by C. A. Tripp.

Manchin mentioned 5 key points to success, especially concerning children.

  1. Give them unconditional love.
  2. Provide a safe place for children. A home, or a grandparent's house, a school, or other place at times.
  3. Give them a healthy start and teach a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Teach them a livable skill.
  5. Have them grow to be a loving adult who is willing to give something back to the world.

Good advice, for both republicans and democrats.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good things

Today I am waiting on a call from the Jefferson County sheriff's department, but that's a good thing.

U. S. HUD announced that they will implement non-discrimination policies so that LGBT individuals and couples are treated fairly in housing and FHA loans, and that is a good thing. That means here in Bessemer, as well.

Tonight is the Jefferson Jackson dinner at which democrats eat well and meet and greet and listen to party stars, and that will be a good thing. West Virginia governor Joe Manchin will be the speaker.

Paving 18th, 19th and 20th streets in Bessemer will begin within 30 days, and that is a good thing. Except it costs $13 million for 27 blocks. That's almost $50,000 a block. Are you in the wrong business? I am.

UAB is offering same-sex partner insurance benefits, reported today in the Birmingham News, but reported weeks ago on Now the University of Alabama is looking into offering benefits as well, and that would be a good thing. Auburn? (My call to Auburn's Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual caucus have not been returned yet).

Christmas is 64 days away. That is a good thing. (Don't think this display is complete. It will be fabulous when it is completed).

Here is the video that helped inform the UAB community about the need for fairness in benefits policies. The article says the video was not a factor in making the decision, but we know better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My Western Tribune column (same-sex marriage) follows this post.

You can waste your day but have fun keeping up with LaLa's trial, with live continuous updates by Kyle Whitmire (Birmingham Weekly) here.

Terri Sewell, running to replace Artur Davis in AL-07, has recieved the endorsement of the National Organization for Women PAC.

This is her first national endorsement, and it highlights her support from women.

Sewell would be the first woman elected to congress from our state.

“NOW PAC is proud to endorse Terri Sewell in her groundbreaking campaign. We are confident she will be a strong leader in Congress for full equality for women and girls,” said NOW PAC Chair Terry O’Neill.

In the governor's race, former Birmingham mayor Richard Arrington has endorsed Ron Sparks. This is surprising considering that Arrington, in his own words, "I have spent most of my life making decisons based on race."

He says his endorsement is not anti-Davis, rather it is pro-Sparks. But he also has questions about the effect Davis at the top of the ticket might have on democrats chances down the ticket and on the control of the House and state Senate.

I giggled a little bit reading that the Davis camp said voters "will also make their own independent judgements" about who to vote for, while promoting the endorsement of their candidate by Judge U. W. Clemon. Should we make up our minds independent of his opinion, too?

Certainly, we all make independent decisions about who to vote for, I hope, after learning about the candidates and seeing if they share values and have a plan for whatever office they are running for.

Western Tribune column, October 21, 2009, Same-Sex Marriage

This Western Tribune column might turn some heads in Bessemer.


I keep having to remind people that we are living in 2009 and every once in a while I remember why. Earlier this month a Louisiana justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. This was out of concern for any children the couple might have, the justice said.

If he were to look around in the 21st century, he would realize that a child of an interracial couple can achieve the two highest honors in the country – president of the United States and American Idol winner. Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and Jordin Sparks was voted American Idol winner in 2007.

Loving v Virginia was the civil rights case that legalized interracial marriage in 1967. But did you know that the ban on interracial marriage up to that point was based on an Alabama case, Pace v Alabama, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that Alabama’s ban on miscegenation was constitutional?

Tony Pace, a black man, and Mary Cox, a white woman were actually charged with fornication and were imprisoned because of their love.

The court at that time condemned all sexual relations between whites and blacks regardless of marital status. The court argued that it was the duty of the state to protect the institution of marriage, similar to arguments used today against same sex marriage.

Details of Tony Pace and Mary Cox have been lost to history, but we can assume they knew their actions were illegal, yet their desire for intimacy was strong enough that they ignored the law.

There is no law against intimate relations between same sex couples. Some seem to be unaware that the sodomy laws in the United States were struck down by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v Texas, in 2003.

As a result, there is no legal basis for the various bans on same sex marriage across the nation, other than the anti-marriage amendments themselves. Our own state of Alabama, sadly, passed an anti-marriage amendment in 2006, thus adding to a constitution in which a discriminatory statute must feel very comfortable.

I know several same sex couples now living in Alabama who were legally married in other states. At some point, their marriages will be recognized here.

As Lady Gaga recently said regarding equality in our country, “It is not equal if it’s sometimes.”

When equality is achieved, it will be full time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marching for Equality by Zach Childree

My friend Zach Childree marched in Washington for Equality along with 200,000 others, including my partner and me. I have posted five accounts of the event, and may come up with more, on Examiner. (See what Julian Bond said here. See what Dan Choi did and said here. See what Urvashi Vaid said here. See what Lady Gaga Said here. See some of the signs at the march here).

Zach wrote a piece for the Chanticleer, the student newspaper at Jacksonville State University, where he is editor-in-chief. the piece is also posted on his blog, Sweet Homo Alabama.

Marching for equality

by Zach Childree

My feet hurt.

They hurt because I did a lot of walking this weekend during my trip to Washington, DC. I walked around the national mall, up and down stairs at the Smithsonian and at the Lincoln memorial.

My feet don’t just hurt because I walked, My feet also hurt because I marched in the National Equality March.

My partner, David, and I and roughly 200,000 other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people took to the streets of our nation’s capital with a simple message for the nation- we demand equality. We demand to be treated with dignity and respect and to be granted the same rights and responsibilities as straight Americans.

Right now, LGBT Americans in many states, including Alabama, can be fired from their jobs just for being honest about who they are.

LGBT Americans cannot serve openly in the military, nor can we marry the person of our choosing.

Right now, LGBT Americans are second-class citizens. We are denied the right to visit our partners in the hospital because the state doesn’t recognize the validity of our relationships.

A gay or lesbian couple could be together for decades, but the federal government still calls them legal strangers.

In some states, such as Florida, being gay means you can’t adopt children.

That it’s 2009 and the people of the United States still allow such a miscarriage of justice to continue is a travesty.

While President Obama has continually promised to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well as the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the LGBT community is still waiting to see action from the administration or even a suggestion as to when those promises will be fulfilled. We’ve grown tired of waiting for full equality.

We marched because we’re tired of hearing empty promises from the man we helped put in the White House.

We’re tired of hearing about another lesbian who wasn’t allowed to see her partner as she lay dying, alone, in a hospital.

We’re tired of hearing about yet another gay bashing where a young man lies bleeding and dying in a gutter. We’re tired of being told our relationships are somehow less valuable than straight ones.

We’re tired of watching family after family being legally dissolved because of the will a deceitful campaign misusing religious ideas.

We grow weary of hearing lies told about us from the floors of state legislatures around the country.

We marched because our voices won’t stay in our throats any more. They are bursting forth with a mighty yell as we demand equality for all Americans.

We marched on the streets of our nation’s capital on National Coming Out Day to stand together as one people and burn down the closet doors once and for all.

We marched for LGBT youth around the country who come out each year to be sentenced to homelessness by religious parents. We marched to bring those kids hope. Hope that one day they may come out and not be persecuted for who they are.

In 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California, was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by Dan White, a former supervisor.A few months before, Harvey sat down with a tape recorder to dictate his thoughts in case he was killed. On this tape, he told a story about receiving a phone call from a young gay man in Altoona, Pennsylvania who had just heard of Milk’s election in California. The young man thanked Milk for giving him hope.

Milk’s eerie words echoed in my mind as we marched toward the White House this weekend. “It’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power – it’s about giving those young people out there in Altoona, Pennsylvania’s hope,” Milk said.” You gotta give them hope.”

We marched for those young people.

We marched for Harvey.

We marched for hope.

My feet hurt, but I’ve never been more proud of my bruises than I am today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The National Cathedral, and a thought about Langford

Just a thought as LaLa's trial begins in Tuscaloosa. Frank Matthews, a paid employee of the city, and member of Langford's staff, held a prayer vigil for the "anointed" one yesterday.

From Matthew 6:6:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The Rev. Calvin Woods made it no secret that he wants God to find the mayor of Birmingham not-guilty.

Shouldn't the leaders and residents be praying for the city (and county) rather than, by prayer, trying to convince God to determine the outcome of a trial?

Just a thought.

The National Cathedral might just be the most beautiful building in all of DC. It took 83 years to build, so has modern elements along with classic Gothic architecture. It is the sixth largest cathedral in the world. There is a ton of imagery and symbolism, too much to post here, but here are some of my favorite images.

The wonderful stained glass windows in the cathedral allow a rainbow of color to tint the vaulting and piers that support the roof.

The Space Window is the most modern looking window and it commemorates the Apollo XI mission, and right in the center of that red spiral is a piece of moon rock brought back by the crew. This window is in some way mentioned in Dan Brown's new book The Lost Symbol (I haven't read the book).

Helen Keller is interred here, alongside Anne Sullivan, her teacher, downstairs at the rear of the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea. Their ashes are behind that gated doorway.

In the War Memorial Chapel, this piece, made from WW II artillery shells from Normandy sets the tone. To the right of this alter is a cupboard of books containing the Honor Roll of Americans who fought in World War II.

This arm rest was carved several years before Winston Churchill came to power, but it shows a lion with the face of Churchill clutching a snake with the face of Hitler in its mouth. Sorry the picture is not in good focus, you will just have to visit the Cathedral to see this better. The snake really does have a moustache.

This is the view from the tower. I only post this picture because just to the right of the middle of the horizon, the little stob sticking up is the Washington Monument.

An cropped image taken from that picture.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Random thoughts on a cloudy morning

This is really going to be random.

Balloon boy. I'm sure you've heard about the giant Jiffy Pop balloon and the boy spilling the beans last night on the Larry King show, and spilling his breakfast (or something) on cue on two different morning shows this morning. Yesterday afternoon I was driving when the boy was located in the cardboard box, and had the radio on the Lee Davis show. Davis is a certified right wingnut whacko, but he said that finding the boy in his attic was a "miraculous" ending to the story.

Huh? A miracle would have been if the boy fell from the balloon and landed on an albatross that glided him to safety or something like that. Saying that finding him at home is a miraculous ending is like saying it's a miracle I wasn't hit by a train on a morning that I didn't cross any railroad tracks.

Emails. Let me just say that I feel I have a moral obligation to respond to and correct the lies about our president and health care and other issues that I receive through emails. And if you have included my email address in a mass emailing with such lies, I will "respond to all" so that everyone you spread the lie to gets my response. If that angers your friends, then either quit sending me those hateful lies and don't include my email address in your mass mailings.

Defeating the right wing. How it's going to be done and who will do it. Here, on Examiner.

Support. Is it normal for a newspaper or magazine that one writes for to continue week after week printing letters that demeans the columnist? While I don't mind seeing letters that offer opposing views, four weeks of letters by the same author attacking my character just seems a little much. Especially when the letter writer is nuts. Would you continue to write for a paper that offered no support? Am I egging it on by responding to the ludicrous assertions? For those of you who haven't read the letters, I will soon post them on Facebook along with the columns that they are in response to.

Helen Keller. I will be posting some info about her and the National Cathedral within a few days. Did you know she was a big supporter of the ACLU, in fact helping to found the organization?

America the Beautiful. The words to this song were written by a lesbian, Katharine Lee Bates. After her partner Katharine Coman died, Bates wrote, "So much of me died with Katharine Coman that I'm sometimes not quite sure whether I'm alive or not." That is not the only evidence of their committed relationship.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back from DC in an activist frame of mind

Having just returned from a protest march in which 200,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans marched for equal rights, with the profound reminders of similar protests in view everywhere you go in Washington (the Mall, the Wall, the Lincoln Memorial), I'm still in an activist frame of mind.

For my first two reports on the march, including a slide show and Lady Gaga, visit here and here.

Tens of thousands of young people took part in this march, and among the young it doesn't matter if one is gay or straight, they just want equality.

When I was growing up, some of us wanted equality, too, and inequality at the time was defined along racial lines. Racial differences are obvious, and young people today are growing up without the racial prejudices so many of us older people were surrounded by. Many older people who hold animosity toward gays do so as a hold over from the way they or their peers felt about those of other races when they were young.

So when it comes to sexual differences, young people don't have that prejudiced background that they can transfer to the GLBT community.

And here's another comparison between the older generation and the younger one. The signs at Glenn Beck's 9-12 rally, attended mostly by older people, were negative, racist and hateful. The signs at the National Equality March, attended mostly by young people, were peaceful and uplifting.

"It's not about who you love, it's about do you love," the sign reads.

Last night on PBS, American Masters featured Joan Baez followed by Pete Seegar. Nothing gets an old hippie charged up like hearing those two sing again.

The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington sang several of the same songs that Pete Seegar was known for.

Equality is coming, there is no doubt.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Western Tribune column October 14, 2009, war memorials

I am adding some pictures from my recent trip to DC to this column. For pictures from the National Equality March see my (first) article about the event here.

Western Tribune column

While in the nation’s capital I was able to revisit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and to visit for the first time the National World War II Memorial.

Having grown up during the Vietnam War I feel fortunate that none of my close friends or older brothers died in that conflict. But like most Americans who are old enough I remember watching day after day the news reports about the conflict, and anyone of my generation can’t help but be moved knowing that so many our lives were affected by it.

Nearby the more recently constructed National World War II Memorial stands as a testament to those of my father’s generation who fought and gave their lives to protect our freedoms. Water and structure combine to reflect the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of that war, and there is too much imagery to describe in this column.

But one aspect of the memorial deserves mention. On the walls are bas relief depictions of various aspects of the war effort in both Europe and the Pacific. On the Atlantic side the progression ends with a scene in which the American forces and the Russian forces meet with a handshake in Germany.

It is an interesting scene in light of the commie scare coming from a letter writer who claims that communists were accumulating in the State Department “from before World War II until today because of our support of Russia and her leaders.”

While cooperation between the United States and Russia was necessary to defeat the Germans it can hardly be said that we have supported Russia in all the years since. Ever hear of the “Cold War”?

I shouldn’t be wasting my time trying to refute someone who re-writes history to fit their agenda.

Over the weekend President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Everyone, including the president’s staff, was caught off guard with this recognition, and some are saying it’s a little early for a peace prize seeing how the president has yet to decide whether to ramp up the effort in Afghanistan or begin to bring the troops home.

But those who voted for that award are recognizing Obama’s commitment to peaceful solutions where possible. We will have to wait and see what he decides for Afghanistan.

And in a few decades, I suppose my children will be visiting a memorial commemorating the efforts in that war and the Iraq war.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Seen around Bessemer

The modern day McCarthiest is still after me but I don't have time to fool with the fool today. It's a busy day, here are some pictures taken around Bessemer Wednesday, and a fun video.

Lots of these buttons around. With the Birmingham elections over (congratulations Johnathan Austin)this runoff for district 56 is all that's left to watch. In the unofficial unscientific Bessemer Opinions poll, Mitchell is winning hands down. Expect a low turnout and a win by Mitchell when the runoff occurs in November.

The building I mentioned the other day is still being torn down, I didn't think it would take this long. I have since learned the history of the building (thanks, you know who you are). The White Hardware Building was built in 1940 and originally housed Hill Grocery. It later housed Western Auto and White’s True Value Hardware.

I also got word that the burned out building I pictured the other day at 20th and 4th will begin to come down in a day or two.

This is the intermodal facility in Bessemer. The one that was developed and built with no controversy.

Bessemer is not all urban and industrial. We have a bit of rurality (?) too. This old grocery sits on the outskirts of town. You probably have seen it. It appears to straddle a creek. Interesting.

This video is great. A fun weekend for gays is coming up. So for fun, watch John, Jeffrey, Adam, Chris, the other Chris and Brian in Asbury Park during Labor Day 2009. Oh, and Whitney. You ladies can enjoy this too, but sorry... Thanks, guys. $ Million Dollar Bill $

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Western Tribune column October 7, 2009 GLBT Equality

Be sure to read my report on NFL players supporting gay equality on Examiner.

This is my column from today's Western Tribune. Is this the most "gay equality promoting" column ever printed in an Alabama newspaper by a regular columnist? Maybe.

Western Tribune October 7, 2009

I’ve had a good laugh all week after reading another letter in this paper. The phrase “gay or lesbian homosexuals” caught my eye.

As a knowledgeable gay person it made me wonder who the letter writer was referring to. I didn’t know there were any homosexuals who are not gay or lesbian.

This is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) History Month and this weekend tens of thousands of people are expected in the nation’s capital to march for equality. This will be the fifth national rally for gay equality, prior marches having taken place in 1979, 1987, 1993, and 2000.

The first protest in Washington DC for gay rights was in 1965 when about ten local men and women picketed with signs in front of the White House after several were fired from federal positions for being gay or lesbian.

But the most notable political rally in Washington was probably the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Just as the political climate was right in 1963 for national progress on civil rights, the leaders in Washington today all support GLBT equality. In some ways, this march is a celebration of what we expect to come, but more so it is a reminder to those leaders to get on the ball.

Recently Congressman John Lewis was the keynote speaker at Equality Weekend in Birmingham. He recounted some of his personal history in the struggle for civil rights, including being injured here in Alabama, his home state. He equated the fight for GLBT equality to the fight for civil rights. “You cannot wait. You cannot be patient. You want your freedom and you want it now,” he said.

He also said it is not the business of the state or federal government to regulate who should marry whom. One day, he said, we will look back and laugh at ourselves because “the stars didn’t fall over Alabama because people fell in love and got married.”

NAACP chairman Julian Bond has endorsed this march and will be one of the speakers. "GLBT rights are civil rights; there are no 'special rights' in America. Everyone has rights - or should have - and I am happy to join in this battle for justice and fairness," he explained.

Full equality, as guaranteed by the Constitution, is all we ask.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Olympic Spirit

Anyone that follows me knows how much I appreciate the Olympics, and not just for the good looking athletes, although that helps. One would think that everyone would appreciate the Olympic spirit and would root for the United States to bring the games here.

Giddy Rush Limbaugh practically had an orgasm when the United States was eliminated, and other Republicans could hardly contain themselves as well. Both can be seen in this video.

Meanwhile, wingnut "ex-gay" pretender James Hartline says that Chicago lost the games because of "Chicago's demonic gay agenda."

That's funny, because Rio, where the 2016 Olympics will be held, has one of the largest gay pride events in the world.

They have a huge parade with plenty of dancing boys.

The southern state of Rio Grande do Sul recognizes same-sex relationships with civil unions and their president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is gay friendly and is pushing for a national partnership law. Here you can read about Brazil and other Latin America countries and their status on equality.

It is unpatriotic to cheer against the United States. Oh, but Republicans don't care about the United States. They only care about teabagging the president and watching the country fail, and keeping the uninsured that way and oh, yeah, boosting the profits of insurance companies.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Religion and Spirituality

Parade magazine released a survey of our spiritual and religious values and the results are quite interesting.

Here are the complete results of the poll.

Here is Parade's article.

Below are the highlights.

Only 45% consider themselves religious. 24% consider themselves spiritual but not religious.

38% are less religious than their parents.

59% believe that all religions have validity. Only 12% believe their religion is the only true religion.

Only 53% think the world would be worse off without religion.

Only 30% attend religious services once a week or more. 50% rarely or never.

76% say their faith has not been affected during the current economic situation.

58% say religion and politics should not mix.

43% believe we go to heaven or hell after we die depending on our actions on earth.

62% expect to contact loved ones after they die.

I've posted Brett Dennen video's before, but this seems like a good place to replay "Heaven." Recently Brett re-recorded the song with Natalie Merchant.

"Whatever faith you practice, whatever you believe..." Brett's lyrics mirror the American public's beliefs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

BessOps: The Sex Issue

I get a lot of email (in addition to the comments posted on this blog) about the subjects I cover. My readers seem to be obsessed with sex...I guess most Americans are. I mean, even Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms talked about gay sex so much that one begins to wonder. Oh, but that creates bad mental images.

So, I know people want to know what I think about David Letterman. Kevin Jennings. Roman Polanski.

David Letterman admitted to having sex with women who worked on his show, after an extortion attempt regarding the relationships was uncovered.

It is no surprise that people in workplaces develop relationships and that sometimes these become sexual. We don't know what the circumstances were...if the relationships were mutually respectful, if coercion or harassment was involved, or what. So it's too soon to judge Letterman.

But I do wonder about the audience that laughed and applauded at the admission.

Kevin Jennings is the assistant deputy secretary of Safe and Drug Free Schools in the Department of Education.

He wants to prevent bullying and harassment and that kind of thing. He's come under fire, first because he is gay (right wing groups began targeting him before the current controversy began), then because he counseled a high school student who had sex with an older man and didn't report it.

Jennings says that was 21 years ago and that back then teachers had little training on how to handle those situations. But here is something that has been left out of the story. The student was of legal age when it happened. In Massachusetts, the legal age was, and still is, 16 years of age, and that is how old the kid was. So, there was nothing to report. Jennings is fine. Let him do his job.

Roman Polanski made good movies. Roman Polanski appears to have been a predator, I don't know all the facts. But there are certain legal proceedings that one subjects themselves to when they do illegal things, and he ran from these proceedings and has "served his time" in the South of France.

I don't think justice has been served. But, apparently the victim does not want the issue brought up again. So where do they go from here? I don't know. And France, to me, would not be a punishment. But to conservatives in this country, I guess France is a punishment, so there you go.

And I do know that Roman Polanski made great movies. Remember this scene from Rosemary's Baby? Don't watch if you haven't seen the movie. Rent it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hot in the Bessemer and in DC

I'm not going to create a long post on the City Council meeting in Bessemer last night. I'll leave that to the "illegitimate tabloid" and the other local newsflyer.

But here are some highlights.

"Council shouldn't be co-mingling with employees."

What smart-alec came up with the idea of changing the lock."

"My pacifying days are over."

"I will take your little tail across the street."

"And you call yourself a preacher."

"You're filibustering."

"There is no common area in the clerk's office."

This was an embarrassment to the city of Bessemer. There were people there from other cities who were disgusted at the way our city officials behaved. I asked one visitor if she had ever seen a body as dysfunctional as that and she replied "Yes," she used to live in Meridian, Mississippi.

This was her first time to a Bessemer meeting, she came because of the dog issue. It was the first time she heard the mayor lie (about the legality of BINGO, for one, about the dogs never being without food, for two), but we are getting used to it. Next summer can not get here quickly enough. I could skip the beautiful fall weather, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the spring flowers and the Final Four and a trip to the beach next June if it would get us to the city elections quicker.

But I guess I will have to wait.

The animal issue sort of gets lost in this report, but don't think it is going away. It is our responsibility to care for these animals. "Ours" as in humanity's. "Ours" as in the city's.

Things got hot in DC,too as Florida congressman Alan Grayson gave it to the Republicans by apologizing to the dead. 44,789 dead Americans. Americans who die each year because they don't have health insurance. Read it here.