The Year of Moving Forward

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I will NOT vote for Mitt Romney in 2012

I noticed that 14 of my facebook friends like a page called "I will NOT vote for Obama in 2012."

Well, I will not vote for Mitt Romney and most of those people should not either.

Here is why, in no particular order.

1. Mitt Romney said that FEMA is immoral. He wants to privatize disaster relief. He said so in a presidential primary debate. In light of hurricane Sandy, and in light of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that ripped through Alabama, and in light of the Gulf Oil Spill, and in light of Hurricane Katrina, I believe that not having a Federal Emergency Management Agency would be immoral.

Picture credit -  Daily Beast

Some of the people who are supporting Romney (or who are anti-Obama) have experienced disaster and have received help from FEMA, and all are subject to a disaster since we never know when or where they might occur. But I guess they won't mind being told "you are on your own," or "Governor Bentley will take care of you," when their house is blown away.

If you remember, Obama visited Alabama after the tornadoes. And Michelle came back, as promised.

Obama in Alabama - picture credit - Essence
And I think he will do a great job with Sandy. We will see.

2. Mitt Romney flip-flops. All politicians do this to some extent, but he has made a career of it. His views on women's health care and choice and his views on gay rights are just two examples of his pandering to the right to get votes in this election. In 1994, when running for senate against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, he told a gay paper that he was even more pro-gay rights than Kennedy.

Some of those Romney supporters are women but I guess they won't mind being told by a middle-aged man how to treat their bodies and that they cannot have birth control.

Some of those Romney supporters are gay, but I guess they don't care that he thinks of them as second class (or no-class) citizens. To me, that means that they don't think that much of themselves. But then again, self-loathing has always been a problem among the LGBT community. Mitt Romney says he will reverse the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He will defend marriage "as between one man and one woman." We need a president who believes in equality, even if it takes some evolution to get there. We need to move forward, not backward.

3. Mitt Romney cannot admit when he is wrong. He pretends that he never said something. Or tries to explain his way out of it. Take the "47 percent" comment. He told it, in private he thought, revealing how he feels about society. Then, when it was made public, he changes the story, as if he never said it. What amazes me is that people still believe he is telling the truth, or will be, if he becomes president. Why should he be truthful? He is being rewarded even now for his Etch-a-Sketch policies.

4. Mitt Romney has no foreign policy. I don't mean a lack of foreign policy experience. I mean he has no policy regarding foreign affairs. At the last debate he agreed with every foreign policy view that Barack Obama spoke of. Do we believe that he wants to stay in Afghanistan and keep troops in Iraq, like he said before?  Or does he want to follow the timeline for withdrawal that he most recently said? Which way is the wind blowing?

5.  Mitt Romney does not believe in fairness. Most Americans agree that the rich should pay more in taxes. Most rich people agree. CEO's agree. Mitt Romney does not.

6.  Mitt Romney is hiding something. It's in his tax returns. After his recent release of a tax return, it was quickly pointed out that he refused to use some deductions that he was entitled to, in order to make his tax rate a "respectable" 14.1%. What a joke. What a hypocrite. What about the previous years? Show us those, Mitt!

7. Mitt Romney believes in privilege. He thinks those who want to go to college should only go where they can afford, or should ask their well off parents for money. Some of us think that those who have the greatest ability and the most promise, should go to college. Oh, and my kids, who may or may not fall into those categories (of course they do).

8. Mitt Romney does not believe in climate change. Or that we need to do anything about it. Or the environment. They can ignore Sandy. They can ignore the tornadoes. They can ignore the oil spill. They can ignore Katrina. But some day it's going to smack them (Romney and his supporters) in the face. Actually it just did, but they will not face reality.

9. Mitt Romney does not love women. He said, "I love women." Was he talking about the ones in his binders? He won't say whether he supports equal pay for women, only that he is in favor of women in the workplace. That's very 1920 of you, Mitt.

10. Mitt Romney does not love cars. He said, "I love cars," when defending his lies about the auto bailout ("Let Detroit go bankrupt). More recently he said that Obama caused Jeep to be sold to an Italian company and that all the Jeep jobs will be going to China. Not true said Chrysler, who owns Jeep. Not true, said Obama, whose first vehicle was a Jeep. Not true said Sergio Marchionne,CEO of Fiat. (This is another example of a lie Romney has been caught in but will not back down from).

Those are 10 of the reasons I will not vote for Romney. But the main reason I will not vote for Romney is that I am casting my vote for Barack Obama. And that is because I believe in him, I believe in his policies, I believe in his results, and I believe in most of the policies of the Democratic Party.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Ignorance: the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness

In today's Birmingham News there is a column by John Archibald in which he calls out Birmingham City Councilwoman Lashunda Scales for her reaction to the "Living in Limbo" exhibit at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute earlier this year.

Archibald is correct, and his column is worthy, but he missed a chance to explain the reason for Scales' opinion.

"Scales said she was "floored" when she saw the "Living in Limbo" exhibit," Archibald wrote. he then quoted Scales.

Councilwoman Lashunda Scales

"I didn't choose to be black," she said. "I came here black. That's the difference. I know there's a difference between a choice and being black."

Now those who have kept up with this blog over the years know that my pet peeve is people who say being gay is a choice. And those who do, do so out of ignorance. Or hatred.

Scales may be well educated but on the subject of sexuality she is ignorant. I hope that the gay people in her district and elsewhere will contact her and let her know that being gay is NOT a choice.

She can be contacted at

Birmingham City Hall
710 20th Street North
Birmingham, Alabama 35203-2216
Phone: 205-254.2349

This reminds me of when, in 2007, Birmingham was set to pass an inclusion resolution and Miriam Witherspoon made a heartless comment. Other Birmingham Council members joined her in supporting exclusion of gays. Two months later, however, after some education, the council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

This state is slow to change. Just look at the struggle black people had when seeking equality. That is why I am "floored" when people who should understand discrimination (and ignorance) fall victim to the same mentality that governed our state during the Civil Rights era.

But, here we are, about to elect Roy Moore defeat Roy Moore in his bid to regain the Chief Justice position. Let's hope Judge Bob Vance can put Roy Moore to rest for good.

And let's hope Councilwoman Scales can evolve on the issue of sexuality.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BRIMF Ribbon Cutting

Norfolk Southern officials and dignitaries and invited guests were at the site of the Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility this morning as the ribbon was cut to welcome the infrastructure project to completion.

As is typical of Norfolk Southern events and meetings, a safety briefing was offered to begin.  Norfolk Southern is proud of their safety record.

Remember the obstacles that were faced as Norfolk Southern worked to get the project approved?

Local, state and federal agencies and officials came together with Norfolk Southern people to overcome the difficulties, and the result is a beautiful facility just west of Bessemer. (Click here to read everything I've written about this "hub," as it was called.)

This facility will have a profound effect on our community and on the state for years to come, the assembled crowd heard.

It will create about 200 jobs immediately, but has the potential to create or benefit between 8,000 and 9,000 jobs in the area.

By 2020, it will divert 600,000 trucks to rail, and save more than 17 million gallons of fuel by doing so. It will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 190,000 tons. More than $59 million in congestion-related costs will be saved, and over $15 million in accident costs will be avoided. Each intermodal train typically removes 280 long-haul trucks from the highways.

The facility itself is impressive, with an Automated Gate System that shortens the wait time for trucks entering the terminal, which improves driver productivity as well as air quality. This gate system will have optical character capability, meaning it can automatically recognize trailers and containers.

The facility is environmentally designed to minimize light and sound spillover (a concern of nearby residents).

The main administrative building meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification standards.

The facility will begin operating in November as existing international Birmingham services are transferred to the new facility.

Full opening will occur in January 2013 with new domestic services, including 20' and 40' international freight service to and from seaports in Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans; and 53' domestic freight service to and from Bethlehem, PA; Greencastle, PA; and industrial markets in Mexico.

Governor Robert Bentley, Representatives Terri Sewell and Spencer Bachus, and numerous state legislators and officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting.

Terri Sewell spoke and delivered what might have been the most meaningful thought of the event.

Speaking of the 7th congressional district, she said, "What we lack in economic prosperity we make up for with heart and spirit." Amen.

I didn't see any elected officials from Bessemer at the event (although I could have missed someone), but Bessemer's business community was well represented, with folks from the Chamber of Commerce and several local businesses on hand.

Let's give Norfolk Southern an official Bessemer Progressives welcome to Western Jefferson County. We look forward to having you and the benefits of your presence here for decades to come.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coming out

Today is National Coming Out Day.

That means that it is a good day for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people to be honest with themselves and with those around them.

Seventeen years ago on this date I came out to the first non-gay person that I told, an employee who supported me from the beginning.

I had a family consisting of a wife and two children. Coming out is not easy.

Recently our home burned. The rainbow flag survived.  (One day I will write about the house fire and share more pictures. I'm not ready for that yet.)

Among the ashes I found a letter that I had written to my other employees. I want to share some of that today.  Parts of the letter are too personal to make public.

Dear Staff,

I hope that writing this letter is the hardest thing that I ever have to do, I don't think I can go through this pain again. For years I have been living with a terrible burden, with hurt and with fear. You will never understand this because you have not gone through it. I have tried every way I knnow to resolve, to ignore, to change myself, to MAKE IT GO AWAY. But it never will. I now realize that I can't change. It's a part of me that has always been there. I thought I was in charge, maybe I was, but I no longer am.

I am gay. Think back, you won't find it hard to believe. maybe hard to believe that I am admitting it, or that I'm telling you.

Without revealing too much about myself I have known this for 20 years, since I was in college.

(A couple of  "too personal" paragraphs).  
You may not understand what is in me that forces me to be honest with myself and with my world but hopefully you will understand that I am the same person you have known for years. I'm not a bad person, I thought I was doing right then. I know I am doing the right thing now.  
(A couple more "too personal" paragraphs).

One other last thing. A couple of weeks ago B**** asked A**** and me if people just wake up one day and decide they are gay. No they don't. They struggle. They know it. Then one day they realize they have to accept it. It's not easy. But one's sexuality is not a decison. How one deals with it is.
You can see how I struggled. For some it is not as difficult, especially in 2012, with positive gay role models and the internet and facebook and Modern Family. But in 1995, it was a struggle.

Everyone comes out in their own time, when they are ready. For me, it was October 11, 1995. But even a week or so later when this letter was written, you can see that I was not entirely comfortable with who I was. But I have grown. I have educated myself.  I have become an advocate, and an activist. And my, how things have changed in the past 17 years. We now have a president who supports marriage equality for gay people!

Happy National Coming Out Day, 2012