The Year of Moving Forward

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There I said it.

Well, I wrote it; against the Associated Press's recommendations.

The AP Stylebook is a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles for journalists and editors and writers (and grad students). 

Yesterday it was reported that they no longer want writers to use the word "homophobia."

Technically, the word should mean an irrational fear of homosexuals, or "queer fear."

But the word has come to include all of those who are against gay equality, whether fear is involved or not. And homophobia can be internalized, as when a person who is gay is afraid of their own sexuality and works to hide it or even legislate against their own self interests, in the case of lawmakers such as Larry "I am not a homophobic" Craig. Homophobia can also be institutionalized, as when governments or churches pass restrictions against gay people.

The AP now says that -phobia denotes "an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness." And that to use the term homophobia makes an assumption about the person that may not be true and that we just don't know, like assuming they are mentally ill or irrational.

But homophobia often nearly always  does indicate an irrational fear. Maybe not of an individual gay person, but this.

Most anti-gay (to use AP approved words) attitudes are related to religion. And religious leaders in the anti-gay movement often nearly always say things like allowing gay marriage will lead to the downfall of society and that gay acceptance is angering God and He is retaliating by bringing storms like Sandy and Katrina to our shores.

Now if those are not irrational fears I don't know what is.

And institutional homophobia is based on fear too. Lawmakers fear that voting for acceptance of gays will cause them to lose their position in office. That is irrational. Across the country gay people were elected in record numbers at all levels of government, including our first gay (lesbian) senator, Tammy Baldwin.

Word control

I'm reminded of being told several years ago by a prominent gay leader in Birmingham not to use the word "homosexual" in writing. "Ever!"

This was after I had written about articles (on this blog) about people of his (our) sexual orientation. And when talking about the orientations; heterosexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality, there are no other words to describe them. "Gay" is not an orientation.

And when writing from a historical perspective sometimes it is necessary to use the word as well.

And finally, I am not going to let the religious right scare me into not using the proper term to describe myself, as they had scared that person into denying himself of being a proud homosexual. In fact, I guess that man was a victim of his own internalized homophobia.

Likewise, I am not going to allow the AP to water down homophobia into "anti-gay."

I live with the effects of homophobia every day. I cannot marry my partner. Homophobia. I can be fired from my job (if I had one) for being gay. Homophobia. I can be beat to within an inch of my life because I am gay and it not be called a hate crime in this state. Homophobia. I can be jeered at and taunted for holding my partner's hand walking down the street. Homophobia. I am hesitant to put my arm around my partner's shoulder in church even though I see straight men doing it every Sunday. Homophobia. I can't donate blood even though I am HIV negative and have been in a monogamous relationship for 11 years. Homophobia. I had restricted visitation with my children after my divorce. Homophobia. I was banned from visiting my son for lunch or other activities at Green Valley Elementary School in Hoover. Homophobia.

I could go on.

But with so much homophobia around us, I don't see how we can stop using the word.

(photo from the Wipe Out Homophobia facebook page.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fired up! Ready to keep going!

After digesting the election results last night, I went to bed full of hope (like I did four years ago). But I woke up this morning and checked a few facebook pages belonging to Republican friends and listened for a minute to Fox News and then reality sunk in.

We can hope that cooperation will take place in Washington, but John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are still in charge of their House and Senate caucuses, respectively,  and Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh are still bloviating.

But let's just think about what happened last night.

The United States re-elected its first African-American president.  This is huge!

Here is President Obama's speech from last night (this morning) in case you missed it. You need to listen, because he is YOUR president, and he has your best interests at heart.

Four states voted in favor of LGBT marriage. Maryland, Maine and Washington affirmed same-sex marriage, and in Minnesota a constitutional amendment to prevent it was defeated. This is huge!

Here is a song about marriage equality by Sean Chapin.

The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is safe. In 2014 it will be in full effect and people will see that it is a good thing, and by 2016 it will be appreciated.  This is huge!

Here is a video about Health Care Reform through political cartoons.

The Supreme Court will not become more right-leaning over the next 4 years. This is huge!

Here is a video to remind you how crazy the Supreme Court makes people.

And this is Bruce Springsteen from a few years ago, looking good. Springsteen brought some crowds to see the President during he campaign, so he gets a mention here.

So we progressives are still fired up, and we are ready to promote our agendas.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Amendments - how to vote

My philosophy regarding amendments to the Alabama Consititution for years has been to always vote no unless something really, really important to me was being addressed by a particular issue. This is because our constitution is so outdated, and voters need to send a message to the legislators and the other voters that we want a new constitution and we want it now. It's ridiculous that we have to vote on an amendment every time a local water system needs to change (Amendment 5), or a city wants to annex rural land (Amendment 3) or when police jurisdictions are in question (Amendment 11). But in some years, an issue tops my ideology.

This is one such year. Forever Wild, the agency that has purchased 231,000 acres reserved for public use, is funded by revenue from the state's oil and gas trust fund. This amendment allows funding to continue for the next 20 years.

Alabama ranks dead last in availability of public lands for recreational use.

The Birmingham News says "And we will almost certainly still be in last place in 2032," when this will probaby come up for funding again, assuming it passes this year.

So the Bessemer Progressive says to vote "Yes" on Amendment 1.

Amendment 2 is tricky. Some Democrats are saying to vote yes, but I say hold your ground and vote "No."

"Borrow, borrow, borrow," and "cut, cut, cut,"  have been the answers from Republicans when asked about solving our state's fiscal problems. The Republicans refuse to responsibly consider raising revenue to help address our problems, and this is just another example of their philosophy. Vote "No" on Amendment 2.

All of the other amendments deserve a "No" vote for the reason pointed out in the first paragraph.

But Amendment 4 needs special mention. This amendment removes racist language from the Constitution. But it really doesn't. Alabama's Constitution was written in 1901and amended many times and is peppered with words and phrases that are demeaning to African Americans. If this amendment passes, do those words just disappear?  Will my copy of the Alabama Constitution then have blank lines and pages where the racist language once appeared?

No, the language will still be there, the amendment just says we will ignore it.

As long as the 1901 Constitution is our state governing document, we will live under it's shame, regardless of how many coats of whitewashing are applied.

The rich, white, racist men that wrote the Alabama Constitution in 1901

But this amendment is harmful in another way. It would affirm that the children in Alabama do not have a right to public education.

Here is how Judge Mark Kennedy explained it.

In 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated schools, Alabama added Amendment 111 to our state constitution. Amendment 111 has three paragraphs: the first eliminated the right to a public education, the second helped start private segregation academies, and the third demanded the segregation of students. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down amendment 111, but it still embarrassingly remains in the state constitution. We tried to eliminate Amendment 111 altogether in 2004, but the attempt failed. The legislature took up the cause again this past year, but the Republican Supermajority decided to only take out the third paragraph and leave the other two in place. If we vote “YES”, we will be reaffirming paragraphs one and two. Why didn’t the Republicans bring up a clean bill that got rid of all of Amendment 111? After their attempts at charter schools, their attacks on teachers, and attempts to raid the Education Trust Fund, you can only imagine what they’re up to.

So vote "No" on Amendment 4.

And vote "No" on all the other amendments, except for Amendment 1.

But most of all, Vote on Tuesday.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mormon takeover

People who know me understand that I am a firm believer in freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I think no more or no less of anyone for what they choose to believe or ignore. Having said that, I do not believe that a president should be elected without some understanding of what they believe.

Uh-oh, now we are mixing religion and politics.

But this is very important.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I remember when I was growing up my mother had a Book of Mormon. My parent's bed had a headboard that contained a place for books, and the Book of Mormon sat right there with the Bible, some Dale Carnegie book about winning friends and influencing people and a few other books. But we were not Mormons.

I did ask about the book, and learned way back then that the Mormon religion is a little more science fiction like than the Christian religion.*

*Mormonism is NOT a Christian denomination. Many right wing Republicans are trying to make us think that they are, but they are not. They do not believe in the Trinity and they do not think of God in the same way that Christians do. They do not believe that God and his son are the same, or even that they are equal. They believe that the Son is subordinate to the Father. And they believe that God the Father was once mortal, and after he died he achieved his "god" status. Then he had a sexual union with the Heavenly Mother, and from that all of us human spirits were derived. Jesus was the first born of these human spirits.

Of course, Christianity was founded, I guess by Jesus. Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, who is pictured below.

And then there's the planet Kolob. This interested me as a kid because I was familiar with other fictional planets such as Krypton, the birthplace of Superman.

They think that in the end times, the earth will be plucked from its orbit and placed near Kolob (since God's throne is near there, I guess, and he doesn't want to travel all the way to our solar system to do his end time things).

Granted, many of the stories of the Bible may seem just as fictional, but I don't believe in a literal interpretation of some of those stories either.

So why am I picking on Mormonism. Because of this.

Mitt Romney is a good and faithful Mormon. He is a Bishop and has been a missionary and a state leader of his faith. Like any good Mormon, he will do what his church asks him. And what might they ask him?

Mormons want control of the government.

Joseph Smith had a supposed vision (prophecy) that one day a Mormon would become President of the United States, FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE, of letting the Mormon Church take over the U.S. Government. You can take it to the bank, that if Romney were President, the church leaders would have another “vision,” that a church takeover must happen. By the way, that prophecy was simple revenge for perceived wrongs done to Joseph Smith by the government.

If the church directed Romney to do something, he would do it.

Romney avoids mentioning it, but Joseph Smith ran for president in 1844 as an independent Commander in Chief of an “army of God” advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government in favor of a Mormon-ruled theocracy. Challenging Democrat, James Polk and Whig, Henry Clay – Smith prophesied that if the U.S. Congress did not accede to his demands that “they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them.” Smith viewed capturing the presidency as part of the mission of the church. Smith’s insertion of religion into politics and his call for a “theodemocracy where God and people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteous matters” created a sensation and drew hostility from the outside world. But his candidacy was cut short when he was shot to death by an anti-Mormon vigilante mob. Out of Smith’s national political ambitions grew what would become known in Mormon circles as the “White Horse Prophecy” — a belief ingrained in Mormon culture and passed down through generations by church leaders that the day would come when the U.S. Constitution would “hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber” and the Mormon priesthood would save it. Mitt Romney views the American presidency as a theological office.

This is scary stuff.

And like I said before, I don't care what people believe, but I do care what our President believes.