wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
Today, we submitted our application for marriage!!
Application-1 ApplicationSmiles
We have been telling friends for at least 5 years that when it's legal in NJ, we're going to get married.  So: WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!

1) For one, I never thought I would get married, even though Matt and I have been together for just shy of a decade:
2) I'm gay; never thought it would never be possible, though I used to fantasize about it.
3) I didn't think that I would ever want to settle down with someone - one person - for the rest of my life; this attitude came from my extensive years as a single man.
4) It didn't seem that NJ would provide marriage equality any time soon for us to get married here.
5) Neither one of us wanted to get married in another state (NY, CT, MA, etc.) and crossing into our home state, whose laws and/or constitution would render us divorced, unmarried, or legal strangers.  Prior to marriage equality, married same-sex couples from other states were not recognized in NJ as married and had to get a civil union or domestic partnership..

Then, all of a sudden - almost overnight, it seemed - it was legal for us to get married in NJ!!  We were on our way out of town when we got the news. Only two friends - a couple - called us to ask if we were going to hold to our promise.  And we both said, "YES!!  ABSOLUTELY!!  It's just that we're on our way out of town!"   We promptly went online to Amazon to purchase tentative rings for whenever our legal ceremony would happen.  We ordered three rings apiece, which we will wear interchangeably till our marriage celebration. Then we'll have real rings to give each other.  These interim rings will become Christmas ornaments or used at times when we don't care if we lose them or they get stolen.

Given the marriage application, licensing, and ceremony stuff here in NJ - that neither of us knew anything about - nothing was going to happen anyway for at least three days from the day we submitted our application. The news of NJ's new marriage equality came through just over 2 months ago, and we finally got our act together and submitted our application in our township this morning.  A friend of ours from down the hill was our application witness and we'll have two other friends be our ceremony witnesses.  The girl who worked on our application this morning seems to be family. She reminded me of Peppermint Patty, but prettier.

Thursday, I'm picking up the license from around the corner from our place.  Next week, we're getting married!!  It will be a simple civil ceremony at the courthouse in Hackensack (NJ - yes, the town in that Billy Joel song!) on Dec. 31.  A great day for New Beginnings!

We slowed our initial marriage gusto a bit when we heard that our governor withdrew his appeal to oppose the NJ Supreme Court's decision to allow marriages to begin. Our governor has tried everything possible to make marriage equality impossible in NJ; it has honestly been so embarassing to be the last mid-Atlantic state above the Mason Dixon Line to allow marriage equality. He even went on record to say that if his own child was gay, he would tell his child that s/he should not be allowed to marry the person of their choice.  So, initially we were afraid that we had to get married by the end of the year, so that if he appealed, we would stand with the throngs of married couples in a lawsuit against the governor.  But, thankfully, we didn't have to be put in that position and we considered waiting until the actual celebration simultaneously to make it legal.  But, the activist in me really wanted the "2013" date stamp on our license.

Frankly, I don't think anything spiritually or emotionally will change.  At a later date, we'll plan a celebration - perhaps in 2014 or 2015. No rush since the legal stuff will be done. It'll certainly be interesting to be able to file our taxes as a married couple. THAT will definitely be a change!! Plus, once all the legal stuff is done, I think I'll put Matthew on my health and auto insurance policies, since they're both less expensive than his.

Above all, we're VERY excited at this new stage in our lives.  We've been calling each other "husband" for years, but now it'll be HUSBAND!! OFFICIALLY! WOOHOO!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Matthew and I were graciously invited by a friend of ours to speak at an LGBT rally against DOMA and Proposition 8 at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, a couple of weeks ago. The timing was perfect, since on the day we spoke (27-Mar-2013), the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) was hearing arguments for an against DOMA that day and had heard arguments for and against California's Prop 8 the day before.

The speeches we wrote were not completely the speeches that came out, but the essences are here.  I spoke first and Matthew spoke second. What an exhilarating experience!  Three of our friends were there in real time and others have seen the initial video taken by one of those friends.  These videos below were done more professionally by a student at the university.  Enjoy, comment, and please forward these speeches to others who will benefit from them.  We are interested in becoming more and more active in these fights and would like many more opportunities to speak out against discrimination.



My original speech (behind the cut)... )
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
Please sign this petition and pass it on!
https://www.allout.org/en/actions/dccomics-osc

Orson Scott Card sits on the Board of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) - which is basically the KKK to LGBT community.  NOM is a SPLC recognized hate group that has been responsible for the environment of bigotry and oppression that has lead so many LGBT kids to suicide... and now you are giving him a platform in comic books to maximize his ability to denigrate and victimize the greatest possible amount of young people.

I cannot believe that the publishers of Superman would ever hire a hatemonger to speak to young people through their publications!  If this decision stands, it will truly mark the end for me and DC in all of its outlets and markets and I will certainly do my part to make sure that DC's decision (to keep or release) Orson Scott Card will be known throughout all of my social network contacts.  DC Comics needs to reverse their decision to hire Orson Card. Sign this petition!

https://www.allout.org/en/actions/dccomics-osc

UPDATE: For more info about OSC and potential destructive force on DC Comics' staff of writers, read through this article on Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/11/dc-comics-orson-scott-card_n_2663591.html

UPDATE:  Turns out, the people who've signed the petition about Orson are not the only ones who don't want this guy writing about Superman!
http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/06/artist-quits-superman-project-after-outcry-over-writers-marriage-views/?ref=arts
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
Would you travel to a country whose leaders actively persecute gays and lesbians?

Would you travel to a state where religious leaders want to round up gays and lesbians into concentration camps and leave them to die?  Would you travel to a place whose leaders advocate "punching the gay" out of innocent children?  Would you want any of these people making medical decisions for you?

What if you were rushed to the emergency room and your attending doctor's church advodates the killing of gays and lesbians?  How hard do you think he would fight to save your life?  What of that of your partner's life?

Could you expect these radicals to adbide by man's laws when they feel they're answering to a "higher law?"

If you're straight, would you want your gay children, family members, or friends to go to those places? Wouldn't you be afraid for them?

At first blush, what's your knee-jerk reaction?
wwcitizen: (US Flag - LEARN PPL)
When Scott Walker survived his recall in WI last night, about 1/3 of my feelings leaned toward wanting to escape this country and move to Canada or some place else, or just sink into Xbox role playing games and escape. But the other 2/3 of me got really mad, frustrated, and concerned.
  • MAD at the situation and voter determination in WI. I sense that Walker wouldn't be above tainting the voting pool further to secure a win by any means possible. Still hoping for an indictment against Walker for corruption - that'll get the fucker out of office.
  • FRUSTRATED at Citizens United, when the ruling decidedly isn't about citizens of the US at ALL - it's about corporations. And corporations are NOT people.
  • CONCERNED about people who are apathetic to their voting rights and who aren't paying attention to what's going on in our country.
I want to inform people around our neighborhood about voting (after meeting 2 somewhat apathetic college girls yesterday). What can it hurt?  I'm not telling people how to vote, but I'm presenting information about how to register - whether they vote or not. Hopefully, once they've registered, they'll want to vote, too!  I'm putting together the following flier to hand out around my neighborhood.  I'm thinking about making a VistaPrint card to hand out, as well - just to hand out to people in NJ.
_______________________________________________________
WE THE PEOPLE FIX WHAT IS BROKEN! REGISTER TO VOTE! 

NJELECTIONS.org

Click on “Voter Information” and read about:

How To, Who Can, & Where To Register, as well as answer “Am I Registered?”
Or call the Division of Elections toll free at 1-877-658-6837 for more info.

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!  ACTIVATE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!

If you want your voice to be heard, you must
REGISTER BEFORE OCTOBER 8, 2012

THEN: DON'T FORGET TO VOTE FOR YOUR PRESIDENT ON NOVEMBER 6, 2012
or
RockTheVote.com
_______________________________________________________

Feel free to copy/paste this information for your own state. Make copies and give to friends, neighbors, family members, and local businesses that you visit. Make sure that people are aware of their right to vote. Make sure that you have an impact on the 2012 election.

Here's how the VistaPrint card turned out:
REGISTER AND VOTE

wwcitizen: (US Flag - Old Glory)
"We the People of the United States... insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." 

WE do this. WE have a voice. WE have the rights. WE have the power as Americans under the US Constitution to make change happen. WE can make things right and turn the tide of injustices and discrimination around. WE can. YES, WE CAN! 

Not our legislators. Not the corrupt politicians in our state, local, and federal offices. Not our corrupt justices who refuse to recuse themselves in the face of blatant unethical bias. WE the people do this. WE the people have a voice. WE the people have the rights. We do.

If anyone tells a US Citizen otherwise about their rights within our country, they are lying. They are liars. You have the right to vote. You have the right to a soapbox. You have a voice in our country. Anyone who opposes a US Citizen in those rights or attempts to dissuade a US Citizen from exercising their rights to vote and voice their opinion stand vehemently against the US Constitution.

I am truly and utterly ashamed of the NC GOP today. I am truly and utterly ashamed of NC ministers over the last couple of months who claim Christian love, but articulate threats of violence: Jesus Christ is not a homophobe - why should YOU proselytize otherwise? I am truly and utterly ashamed of the majority of North Carolinians who feel justified in continuing discrimination against my minority by passing Amendment One.

In NC, my state of birth, I have no power. I have no say. I am not a legal resident. Others, however, do have that power, a voice, and the rights in North Carolina.

No doubt about it: I am (absolutely) NOT a Republican. It's not about whether or not I'm liberal, it's simply that I'm not a part of the GOP by any stretch of anyone's imagination.  And in their bigotry, insolence, depravity, greed, love of money, and lust after power, they have forgotten our nation's foundation of freedom and the right of ALL of US AMERICANS to pursue happiness. I, sirs and madams, am certainly and resolutely NOT a Republican.

Blatant discrimination is unconstitutional. It is up to US to prove it.
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
As if Amendment One wasn't enough, the NC GOP had to take their hatred a step further and deem it appropriate to discriminate against us.

North Carolina GOP Platform Says Government Should Be Able To Discriminate Against Gays

While I understand [livejournal.com profile] dan4behr's concerns about a NC boycott (granted, the Target boycott didn't put any real dent in its bottom line) and the people who live there and are trying to build lives there, it still seems like an every-growing hostile place to live.  Why would we want to subsidize that kind of behavior and discrimination?

And I cannot believe that my family WANTS me to step foot in NC now.  They are hurt that I'm not willing to come to NC??  Are they not seeing what's going on?  Don't they comprehend that NC for Matthew and me is becoming a more and more hostile place for us?  They don't think they can do anything about it, but in my opinion, that's just being complacent.  No apologies.

It would be nice to know that my family is doing something against all this, but we no longer talk politics because they were offended at my campaign against NC Amendment One.  Offended!  They were offended that I was concerned about possibly not returning to NC because of blatant, legal discrimination against me, my partner/family, and us. Concerned enough to plea with them to do more than just vote against Amendment One - encourage their friends and churches and communities to vote against it, too.  I sent the same message to many friends, who understood where I was coming from. Yet, they felt bullied by a campaign letters addressed to them over the course of two days.  As this is my cross to bear, here's a picture:
  • 1st nail in the cross: Amendment One.
  • 2nd nail in the cross: At least two NC ministers - supported by their communities and congregations blindly speaking of killing gays in concentration camps.
  • 3rd nail in the cross: The GOP proclamation-EXPLICITLY STATING-that they SHOULD BE ABLE TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST GAYS
Who'd want to go to a place like that? Who'd want to purchase stuff from there?  The landscape is beautiful and I'll miss visiting.  I'm becoming less and less of a Tarheel at every turn of the newspaper's pages.
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
Since the passing of NC's Amendment One, I've been doing a LOT of research into states that allow certain rights to same-sex couples.  The HRC and Lamda Legal provide a TON of information that's, while helpful, remains outdated in light of recent attacks on gay rights across the nation. 

At least Illinois recognizes the importance to reflecting the evolving American social mores: Same-sex marriage supporters take their fight to Illinois courts

I wish more states and people would accept facts, educate themselves, learn from the past, and exert more compassion in their every day. It's disheartening for me daily to have to search, read, research, and get a picture of how unequal in our relationship's current status Matthew and I are throughout this country. It's ultra sad to know that prior to any vacations or trips to other states, we now more than ever have to find out which hospitals would allow visitation rights to each other at the very least.  This sort of information isn't listed on their websites, either - you have to call to see whether you'd be treated with respect and compassion or if even your legal documentation would be recognized at the hospital to make medical and/or financial decisions for each other.  Some people find this kind of info finding stuff to be demoralizing. 

I'm starting to find this type of "confrontation" on one level empowering. Empowering because it helps me make informed decisions about where we're going to spend our money and take our vacations. If a place doesn't recognize us or allow visitation in a hospital, then we won't recognize the place; we don't have to visit it.

On another level, it's just sad to have to hunt and peck around to find places that legally affirm us and our relationship.  "Oh, can we go there? No. How about here? Maybe... just don't get into legal trouble.  How about there? Nope - no visitation rights at the hospital without a PLETHORA of legal docs, which might still not be recognized or allowed as proof of our legal bond. Oh, we can go here!! They do recognize same-sex partnerships and allow hospital visitations, but the state doesn't currently have any laws against hate crimes; that means no PDA, including holding hands.  :-("

Family has little or nothing to do with our qualms or our burgeoning apprehensions to traveling to particular locations in the US (like NC, VA, or SC where my family might want to go on vacation).  One of my sisters, in fact, asked about our trip to Disney; Orlando, FL, as a city has specific provisions for same-sex partners, but the state doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships. An issue with a lesbian couple in Miami was the impetus for federal mandates of hospitals to allow same-sex partners to visit each other in the hospital.  In any of these places where my family would want to vacation, Matt couldn't go with me; I wouldn't be able to make any health-related decisions for him and that would break my heart. In NJ, we're afforded the "luxury" of greater civil rights.

I hate feeling that we are being forced into a NJ civil union when our ultimate desire is to be legally married.  It's unfair that we have to be put in that position. Elsewhere throughout the nation (not in NC now, since Amendment One, btw), if an opposite-sex couple had cohabitated as long as we have (8.5 years thus far!!), we'd enjoy a common law marriage.

Even still, throughout the US Southeast, Midwest, and parts of the Northwest, when we get our NJ civil union, it most likely will not be recognized in most of those states, including NC, SC, and VA. It doesn't have to be like this, but it's what we as a couple have to deal with. Same-sex couples don't have to go throughout this level of crap and take soooo many things for granted.
wwcitizen: (NC - Lighthouse)
Because NC Amendment 1 passed with the language that would restrict protections for all unmarried couples (straight or gay), the courts are free to interpret the amendment to deny any protections to unmarried couples (straight or gay). The following points are true and have NOTHING to do with how my friends and family in NC feel or voted about the issue. 

NC courts can legally deny Matthew and me the right to:
  • determine the disposition of either of our deceased partner’s remains (God forbid),
  • visit each other in the hospital in the event of a medical emergency,
  • make emergency medical decisions for either of us if either of us is incapacitated, and
  • make financial decisions for either of us if either of us is incapacitated.
NC's attorney general said Amendment 1's lack of clarity will result in a significant amount of litigation on many issues, which will be decided by courts for years to come.  NC courts can now interpret Amendment 1 to invalidate trusts, powers-of-attorney, wills, and end-of-life directives by one partner in favor of the other. 

These are reasons why Matthew and I cannot step foot in NC for vacations and holidays. We will not spend money there. We will not order goods and/or services from NC (that we expressly know come from NC).

This is about our civil liberties, our civil rights, our safety, and us as a couple of US citizens making a life together, "created equal, ... endowed by [our] Creator with ... [inalienable] Rights, ... among [which] are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with how any of my friends and family in NC have voted (even if ALL of them voted against the amendment, which I hope they didn't, but have no way of knowing).

This link opens a really useful article with an info graphic explaining state-by-state what rights are afforded the LGBT community.  Check it out, read up on it, be informed, and let's put our money where we're supported!  Let's go places we are supported and are safe!! 

I'm REALLY thankful that Matthew and I live in the US NE:
wwcitizen: (TARHEEL)
My home state has decided: They legislatively discriminate against gays. It's blatant, it's harsh, it's painful, and it's truly, truly sad. They were willing to sacrifice their families, seniors, children, single/unmarried women, and heterosexual domestic partners in order to serve up a double blow against the gay community. Same-sex marriage was already illegal in NC; domestic partnerships were not - now they are. The cascade effect of the broad-stroke wording of this amendment is the problem. There is no limit to the ramifications of this amendment socially, politically, and economically.

For as many LGBT folks that live in NC (it's fair to assume that there potentially almost 900K LGBT living in NC), this amendment was a referendum against them and our community - full stop.

Now's the time to work against that system. Now is a further uphill battle to tear down the amendment and overturn it.  Now is the time to boycott my home state. 

I encourage my community and all of those opposed to Amendment One living outside NC: Do not go to NC. Do not purchase goods from NC (as best you can). Do not promote NC. Do nothing that supports NC's economy.  Bank of America has already stated that they may have to move their headquarters out of NC.

It's not out of hate or anger that I'm calling for this boycott, even though NC has legislated hate and discrimination. This boycott is purely economically driven to show NC where their funding is coming from.  NC has chosen not to support our community and has legislated against us. Why should we support NC if we don't have to?  We've been boycotting Target for MUCH less!

Personally, Matthew and I cannot return to my home state because legally, Matthew and I are now legal strangers in NC.  We cannot return to NC until either the counties or cities we'd travel to (as across FL) nullify the amendment's effect or the amendment is overturned at its root.

We cannot feel safe in NC. We cannot rest in the knowledge that either one will be able to take care of our best interests if the other needs us for whatever reason while in NC.  We will not feel safe traveling to and vacationing in NC - as domestic partners and US citizens. 

If something were to happen to Matthew and he ended up in the ICU, the hospital could legally not allow me to visit him and he would be alone in a hospital in NC without his family; I would not be his legal family.  To NC Matthew and I are strangers, though we've been building a life together for over 8 years.  If he were to die in NC, I would not be able to be involved in any end-of-life decisions.  But that is a horrible thought.  Simply put, even if I used his ATM card, in the state's eyes, I would be committing theft.

It's a shame and it's painful, but it has to be done: BOYCOTT NORTH CAROLINA

Read this info about the legal implications of the amendment.

Wikipedia article about same-sex marriage - great information here that includes international scope.
wwcitizen: (US Flag - Old Glory)
I saw this on a friend's Facebane wall tonight and clicked "Like". Then I commented, "SO TRUE!"
Someone reacted to the comment by asking, "Why are we more worried about what Romney is doing with his money then what Obama and congress are doing with ours????" (NOTE: Four question marks, implying that they really DO.NOT.KNOW.)  I really cannot stand people who aren't informed and allow themselves to be spoon-fed FauxNews lies and vitriol. 

I had to reply with (and bear with this rant):

"Because if Romney is elected and handling our money, who's to say that he'll not outsource more of our businesses and work to the likes of India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and other countries, keeping jobs away from Americans. Or who's to say that he wouldn't develop/invent MORE loopholes for corporations and the ultra rich to not pay their fare share within our tax needs? If Romney lies about his taxes, hides money away in other countries (some not totally friendly to American interests, btw), how can we trust him with the office of the president??

"Romney will become just a pen-pusher because he's got the working 5 digits needed for the GOP to push things across his desk to sign. Romney clearly cares about himself and his own financial interests. Romney doesn't care about our country. Romney doesn't care about the needs of the many. Romney doesn't care about the down-trodden and helpless. He scoffs at the working class. He, the Tea Party, the GOP, and all the Republicans in all levels of state and federal and city governments are trying to create a larger working class by denying contraceptives to women, by denying abortion to women, by forcing women to birth children into poverty or lower income situations burdened by either an extra mouth to feed or the death of the mother, and by trying to spread abstinence as the "best option for a moral America". It's all BULL COCKY and lies. They're NOT trying to do good by our people and our nation. They are trying to drive our nation further into the dirt to create the ultimate corporatocracy, thank you very much!!

"Romney made his money in America - by killing companies and American jobs and corporations and "loving to fire people". Then he took his money and shipped it around the world so that he didn't have to pay American taxes - thwarting America's opportunity to be paid back for the opportunity America gave HIM to become ultra-rich. We have no way of knowing fully how much Romney made in a given year because for probably the majority of his monies around the world, he doesn't have to report the funds. Ever. He doesn't have to pay taxes to America for money stored in other countries. Ever.

"Romney is a liar, a cheat, and a dirty opportunist. Whoever votes for Romney is digging his/her own financial grave. Romney won't dig it for you. AND YOU will have to buy the shovel from HIM!


"Romney got around the draft by becoming a missionary. He flip-flops at every opportunity to get ahead and make more money. He's a legal tax-evader because lobbyists have pushed legislators to corrupt our tax structure. The lobbyists and billionaires he supports now fund his campaign, so that they can perpetuate their financial growth and our country's financial ruin. Is that enough reasoning for you?"

Oh, and IF Obama, god forbid, did hide money or avoid paying taxes, he would have been sent back to Illinois for sure.    
wwcitizen: (NC - Lighthouse)
My birth state is NC.  My heritage and roots very deep there. Over 250 years of my family have been born there, have moved away from there into other parts of the country and world, and have died there. My family's burial plot is surrounded by magnolias and dogwoods. I was reminded of my strong and proud NC heritage today when the copy of my birth certificate arrived noting both my parents as "born in NC". 

I'm actually from "Down East", which is part of the area called the Coastal Plains. Growing up in North Carolina, we learned about the state's three distinct geographical areas: the Coastal Plains (first, cuz that's where we were), the Piedmont (named for the rock under the section and where my grandparents hailed), and the Mountains (the Appalachians).  We also learned about the state bird (the cardinal), the state flower (the dogwood), and the state tree (the Loblolly pine).  It's amazing how little tidbits of useless information get put into our little heads as children and stick with us throughout our lives. Even the term Tar Heel, a siblinghood into which NC descendants are born and to which I undoubtedly and unapologetically belong.  The Tar Heel is NOT (necessarily) a student of or graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, but, alas, modern times have given way to that bastardization of the term. Happily, UNC-CH uses the term "Tarheels", not "Tar Heels" - notice the separation. 

This is a poem about the Tar Heels:
"Here's to the land of the Long Leaf Pine.
The Summer land where the Sun doth Shine.
Where the Weak grow Strong and the Strong grow Great.
Here's to North Carolina, the good Old Tar Heel State."

Isn't that majestic?  Written back during times when people wrote more eloquently and when penning one's pride in his/her heritage or a state-based patriotism wasn't considered nationalism or fascist. 

I love North Carolina and I love being from there. I also love New Jersey and now calling NJ my home.  I really enjoy returning to NC and visiting places I've known all my life. There are few areas of NC I can say that I have yet to discover or visit. I love to have been born in Greenville; growing up there was pretty awesome (till I was bullied in high school and church for being gay to the point that I felt the need to move).

I would venture to say that of the Southern States, NC is probably the most progressive and (dare I say) the most liberal.  It, therefore, really shocks me - and saddens me - that there is a great effort right now to add an amendment to the state's constitution that would ban same-sex marriages.  I do really hope that North Carolinians (not all Tar Heels, I'm afraid) do the right thing and vote against the amendment. Please vote against Amendment One, if you're registered to vote in NC.

It's sad to think that NC won't recognize legally married same-sex couples - even now.  When Matt and I are able get married legally in NJ and we have our marriage certificate in hand, and then cross the border into NC, my home state won't recognize us and many other same-sex couples as legally married couples.  It's disappointing that within the 2nd decade of the 21st century (!!) same-sex marriage is such a big issue. Antiquated, misinformed, misguided Christian theologies are swaying the legal decisions of not only my home state but other states trying to maintain my minority as second-class citizens. What happened to the Separation of Church and State?!

I hope that North Carolina does the right thing. Please vote against Amendment One.
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater released a statement concerning the One Million Moms planned boycott of ToysRUs for carrying Life with Archie#16 in their stores:
“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”

I don't even want to link to the articles because there are links to vicious, hate-filled emails to ToysRUs.  I sent this email to combat what the hate-mongering OMM group is doing.  It might be a little lame, but I got the idea from the OMM site and targeted the same guy they are. Feel free to copy/paste this email into your own (and tweak a bit as you see fit) if inclined to send him a note, as well. 

Email:  clay.creasey@toysrus.com
(click on the email address, it's pretty cool!!)

SUBJECT:PLEASE KEEP SELLING Archie Comics!!

"Dear Mr. Creasey,
I was extremely happy to learn that select Toys R Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books and especially the one with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. The sentiments of the comic reflect my and my family's own belief that this world will eventually be as inclusive and hate-free as Archie's world portrays. 

We chose to shop at Toys R Us just last night (and spent over $150!) because your company is selling Archie Comics. Please, please, please keep selling "Just Married - Archie" comic books. You will have greater support and many more sales if you stand your ground and do not bow to pressure of anti-gay organizations to stop selling them. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Stephen Lambeth" 
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
For those unaware of the ultra right-wing, Tea Party-backing, Bush-loving group of women One Million Moms, the funny part is that their Facebook fan page has only around 40,000 likes as of this posting. The first time I'd ever heard of One Million Moms was on Facebook. They posted this picture, which is not clear and I can't find it anywhere else on the web or on Macy's website for their fliers:

I've been holding back on an LJ posting on this particular issue simply because I don't want to give voice to One Million Moms, who I feel are helping in holding this country back from its true potential as a nation.

Their post stated "Sorry, not the best photo (but the best we have), and better than nothing...Macy's new Bridal Registry Ad." Granted, a weak start to more than 230 anti-gay and bloated religious comments, along with about 50 shares.

I thought, "I'll give this a go," and "liked" the page in order to comment on the post. By the time I commented, there were around 100 different comments already and this was my comment:

"You sound like terrible, hate-filled, and hateful mothers!! Granted, only 38k, not a million... I shudder to think of the gay children that God placed in YOUR care and households because there will be limited love in them - limited by hypocrisy, bigotry, spiritual myopia, and archaic theology. Open your minds and spirits to God's truths and relinquish your years of brainwashing.

You're the kinds of mothers under whose care 1000s of children commit suicide because they're gay. There is every possibility that your child has read this post, is gay, and could very likely consider suicide after reading about how his mother feels about her child. Consider the consequences of your words and hate.

For the record, God did create Adam and Eve. And Adam & Steve, Bonnie & Julie, Jane & Susie, Naomi & Ruth, and Nancy & Melonie. And you say you're Christians... children of God? Much like Anne Rice, confronted with people like you, I'm saddened that God accepts even YOU into our family. With you in the fold, I'd rather call myself simply a follower of Christ before saying I'm "Christian". You spew hatred and wickedness with such ease."

Of course within a couple of days, the owners of the page blocked me from the group so that I couldn't comment any longer and removed my comment. BUT, at least my comment was sent to at least 100 people who commented before me and possibly 100s more saw my comment before it was removed. One can only hope.

When Matt and I are finally able to get married legally in NJ, we're going to register at Macy's, of course.
wwcitizen: (US Flag - WATCHING)
Last week on Facebook, during the Komen vs. Planned Parenthood vs. women vs. breast cancer upheaval, I posted a link to a CREDO petition to fire Karen Handel, who is (still) the Komen's Sr. VP for public policy. I repeat "PUBLIC" policy - not church-related, "moral majority", or any other oxymoron; "public". Public includes everyone, such as people from different religious, economic, moral, and social backgrounds. Here's how I posted the link, after I signed the petition:

"I was appalled (and still am saddened) that this whole thing transpired this week. Planned Parenthood is being bombarded for no reason, but thankfully, they now have more funding than they ever expected to get. Karen Handel, you're a disgrace to your gender, your industry, and your party."

A female friend of mine commented (and I received only one comment) with, "Does that mean all women who don't support Planned Parenthood are a disgrace to their gender? Is it mandatory that those who desire to see an end to breast cancer must give money to Planned Parenthood? Can one be pro-life and still be a woman and support breast cancer prevention. I can understand people's concern over this issue, but I don't think these two organizations must be in bed together in order to perform the functions of their individual missions."

Prior to my signature on the petition, I had thought about the implications, why I was doing it, and what it meant for both organizations. Here was my reply, which I didn't want to lose in the shuffle of future posts. My reply here also encompasses both my thought pre-signing process and my reasoning for posting the link with that blurb to my FB wall.

"Komen is a collection agency for the prevention of breast cancer. For them to decide to deny funding to the largest breast cancer screening agency in the country is ludicrous. Especially in these times when mid to low income women are faced with greater financial turmoil! Komen understands all too well the benefits of early detection. Their move was politically motivated and disgraceful.

People have been led to believe that PP is synonymous with abortions, which is a joke. PP performs 1000x more breast cancer screenings, along with other female-specific health care issues, than any other organization period and is the primary source for health care for middle to low income women. THAT is my issue.

I wasn't generalizing. I specifically said that Karen Handel was a disgrace to her gender. If you don't support Planned Parenthood for whatever reason, I (personally) could care less. Her organization under her direction specifically stated that because PP was under investigation by Congress that she (pretty much on her own and by herself, representing an ENTIRE organization that had supported PP before the investigation for YEARS) decided to withdraw funding. THAT was my problem. Furthermore, PP has been under investigation for over 6 months. Why all of a sudden would SHE choose now - as if it's a surprise that PP is under investigation - to withdraw funding? It was a political move in an election year. Period.

If the Komen Foundation doesn't want the funded clinics to perform abortions with their donated monies, then they can stipulate that in the transaction, and from what I understand, that's what they've done. "About 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. and 40,000 women will die from it." (from an article on PP's website) If another clinic out there did as much work on women's issues as PP and had as many facilities that were coordinated throughout the country, then this wouldn't be an issue at all - Komen could take their money elsewhere. I wouldn't have a problem with that.

The facts stand for themselves. I don't believe in politically motivated maneuvers that potentially put 1000s of women's health at risk. Komen has relied upon PP to perform screenings from as early as 2004. And PP hasn't changed their focus. The only issue now is that this is an election year."



I felt I had to capture this instant in political discourse. My non-US friends might not understand our country's need for Planned Parenthood, especially within those countries whose governments supply socialized health care. For women, this is a form of socialized medicine, especially for those who can't afford other forms of health care.
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
Andrew Sullivan was so spot on when he explained Obama's policy making efforts: Obama plans for the future, long-lasting, less retractable, more entrenched changes. While we all might not see what Obama sees right now, in about 5-10 years and well after his (hopefully) second term - I believe that gay rights will be more firmly in place and in motion than where they would have been under any other president.

One thing about Obama, that I've witnessed when he makes a promise, he intends to keep it. He can't fulfill every promise every day. Some promises CLEARLY will take more years than a first term to fulfill. Moreover, in order to achieve some promises (due to politics, the current political climate, and a "broken" Washington), a year or two of ground work - even grassroots efforts - have to be achieved before more obvious strides toward completion can be realized. All Obama has asked the American people is, "Come with me on this journey of rebuilding our nation. Together we can do it!"

We in the LGBT community need to realize that the struggle for civil rights in this country began when the first slaves hit American soil (not colonial soil). The struggle for women's suffrage in the US was about the same, but really began in the late 1800s. Even today, African Americans and women are still facing lack of equality in the work place and in other places. It's shameful and disgusting how much racist verbiage is used and allowed by the conservative establishment that is not highlighted. You can hear the verbiage in every Republican debate and interviews with the candidates.

So far, with Obama's help, DADT was repealed. DOMA is losing its battle in the courts. There are actually so many other wins along the way during Obama's first 3 years, that it would be too long to list for an easy read. The HRC has posted a list of new policy changes under Obama that are directly geared toward the LGBT community and many people don't realize it. These new policy changes go well beyond some expectations, and like I mentioned before, have gone unnoticed; these changes fall into the category of "a year or two of ground work".

Obama is, thankfully, building the foundation of change for the LGBT community that will be harder to tear down overall in one fell swoop. Obama's ideas of change are not immediate or readily evident. But, I believe that when those changes are in place, they will represent changes for moving forward, not returning to archaic times.

The only issue that could possibly pose a greater threat - after his presidency - to our community is the National Defense Authorization Act. Yes, "the president [signed the act into law] with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge." [livejournal.com profile] holy13nation asked whether any of us had reservations about that act and I certainly did when he asked the question. I was signing petitions against the legislation, but there wasn't a large wave of general American opposition. I think most people didn't understand how the act could affect them or our country. That one law - under any future president - could turn this country overnight into a form of the Spanish Inquisition, but without charge, questioning, or sentence.

The potential for this law hit me when Rick Santorum (one of the 5 ludicrous candidates currently running for president) said that gays were on a jihad against him because of his stance on same-sex marriage. In that statement alone, it became poignantly clear that if (GOD FORBID) Rick Santorum ever became president (and note, I didn't say "elected"), there is now no stopping him from declaring outright that the entire LGBT community is an organized terrorist group. He, Rick Santorum, under the National Defense Authorization Act, could arrest and detain everyone in the US who is known or suspected to be gay (right or wrong). We could all be rounded up and put into US-based holding camps indefinitely. If you think this is hyperbole, read more about Santorum's support of any anti-gay legislation and extreme comments he's made across the board. As much as Germany should have been more worried and concerned about Hitler and Italy about Mussolini, the US should be worried and concerned about the extreme right where Rick Santorum plays.

There are no concerns about Obama's perspectives or the future he is planning and exacting for a stronger America. I wish that he had not signed the National Defense Authorization Act, but that is not specifically targeted solely at our community. Obama has done right by our community and will continue to do so, as long as he's in office.

If you're an LGBT American, vote for Barack Obama to be a 2-term president in the face of the contrary history.

If you're an African American, vote for Barack Obama to be a 2-term president in the face of the contrary history.

If you're a female American, vote for Barack Obama to be a 2-term president in the face of the contrary history.

Let's make history happen AGAIN!
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
This post comes from an email sent to me by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund.  I am posting this so that people can be informed that organizations like this exist, learn about this history and current status of HIV/AIDS in the US, and, if so moved, can donate to support the Fund's efforts.

"30 years ago the Task Force hired the first lobbyist in the nation to focus on AIDS issues. The Task Force ran the first toll-free AIDS hotline in the world early in the epidemic. In 1984, we secured the first federal funding for community-based AIDS service organizations. Today, the Task Force continues to push the federal government as we have for 30 years to ensure that community AIDS service organizations have the funding they so desperately need. We are pleased that the CDC recently granted 34 community organizations $55 million to be spent over the next five years to increase HIV prevention services for those most at risk, including young men of color, transgender youth, and their partners.

But that is not nearly enough. We must also put an end to the discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, who are disproportionately transgender women, gay and bisexual men, and people of color.

Results from [the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund]'s National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that transgender individuals have a rate of HIV/AIDS that is more than FOUR times higher than the general population. And, tragically, the survey also found that 1 in 4 transgender African Americans live with HIV/AIDS. Discrimination and lack of education is the reason for this tragedy.

[People] can help to end discrimination against people living with HIV by urging your member of Congress to co-sponsor the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act which addresses the unfair use of criminal and civil laws against those who test positive for HIV. Today, 34 states have laws that criminalize transmission of HIV. It’s time to repeal ... harmful laws that demonize people with HIV. Call 202-684-2468 today and tell your representative that this bill needs their support.

[Personal Note: I do believe that, if you know that you are HIV+, you are committing a crime act by 1) not disclosing your HIV status to the other party(ies) with whom you are going to have sex, 2) having unprotected sex with others, if you are HIV+, and 3) not asking the status of people with whom you are going to have sex. Communication, education, and knowledge are two-way streets. For instance, if you send someone an envelope full of anthrax virus, you don't know if the recipient will get the envelope, open it, or get anthrax, but it's still a criminal act - same principle here without the sex bit.]

We honor and stand with those who have dedicated their lives to the fight against HIV/AIDS. We mourn everyone we have lost in the past three decades and we vow to continue working toward the end of HIV/AIDS. This World AIDS Day, join [the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund] in supporting the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act to reduce the stigma and fear of living with HIV. Take action now [by calling] 202.684.2468.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund builds the grassroots political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Task Force Action
Fund does this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation, and works to pass pro-LGBT legislation and other progressive initiatives. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the Task Force Action Fund are not tax-deductible.
"
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
It was surprising to discover that Amazon.com doesn't have "partner" or "domestic partner" as an option to select from their "Relationship" drop-down box in their Gift Organizer. Granted, they might have their headquarters in a state that allows same-sex marriage; there's also the philosophy of "Be the change you want to happen," as pointed out by my partner.

Still, I'm sending Amazon a note today to encourage them to add that option to the drop-down list. The gender drop-down already exists, so "husband" or "wife" isn't necessary. And, gay or not, it's an important distinction as even straight folks can have domestic partnership without getting married and being "husband" or "wife" to the other. :-)

(pssst... the title of this post implies that I have a beef with Amazon and a bone to pick with them...)

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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