Archive for November, 2008

>Queen Rania of Jordan

November 27, 2008

>Be sure to scroll down to read my Thanksgiving column from the Western Tribune, to see what I think we should all be thankful for.

Queen Rania of Jordan has her own YouTube channel.

Here are her top 10 reasons for starting a YouTube channel, as expressed in her video acceptance of YouTube’s Visionary Award.

“Suspicion, intolerance and mistrust are driving us apart,” was her number one reason. She wants to change that, and this is her way. She’s not your average Queen.

Congratulations on the Award, Queen Rania, and thanks for taking this on.

>Western Tribune Column November 26 2008

November 27, 2008

>Today is Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy some time with your family, have lots of good desserts with your turkey dinner, and get in a good nap afterwards. Like so many columnists, I wrote a Thanksgiving column for the Western tribune this week. Here it is.

*****************************************************************

This week we ponder what we are thankful for and across the country and in our own city people seem to be thankful of the change they see coming. In spite of the crumbling economy, about 70 per cent are optimistic about the future. This includes a number of people who did not vote for Barack Obama, but who see better things ahead knowing that he will be their leader.

We should be thankful that we live in a country where democracy works, and that so many people were engaged in the political process this year. This shows us that a great majority of the people really care about our country.

We should be thankful that we will soon have a president that wants to end the war in Iraq. Americans are war weary, and are tired of seeing their sons and daughters returning from serving their country with physical or mental problems, or worse. We should be thankful that our new president has pledged to improve mental health treatment for our veterans and to rebuild the Veterans Administration’s broken benefits system.

We should also be thankful for the food on our table. Improvements in agriculture, food storage and preservation over the last few decades, along with the giving spirit of our people, should mean that everyone can enjoy a good Thanksgiving meal, and hopefully, continue to have adequate food on a daily basis. The economic crisis could mean that more will be required of some of us to ensure that no one goes hungry during the holidays.

Let’s also be thankful that science and research will regain credibility as the new administration takes over. Although a lot of money will be necessary to solve the energy crisis, good science is the key to progress. It has been clear for years that the green that is pocketed was more important to automakers than the green that represents our planet’s health, but now we see that the future of the economy and the environment are tied to the auto industry and a big, necessary, shift in their operations and policies would help to solve both problems.

There is much more to be thankful for: our families, our faith, our freedom. Take a minute and tell those around you that you are thankful for them. We will all benefit.

>Jesus and Marriage

November 26, 2008

>First, though, why do people not stop at red lights? This happened at our corner yesterday.
No serious injuries, but a really p-o’ed young man and a shook up woman (who ran the light in the white pick up).

Pay attention when you are driving. I don’t know why the woman didn’t stop, but don’t text or read emails when driving. In fact, don’t use your phone. Watch the road, and pay attention to the traffic lights. Don’t screw up your holidays with a wreck.

Jesus and Marriage

In response to Kristi’s comment yesterday in which she wrote “Marriage, and the guide for marriage is laid out in the Bible. And clearly it is for a man and a woman. There is no question about that. So let’s recognize the true unity of marriage, which is two people of opposite sex.”

(Anonymous…this is not an attack on Kristi. I respect her and her right to have her beliefs. I just disagree.)

Like Dianne said, Christians did not invent marriage. But Jesus did speak about marriage. In response to Kristi’s comment yesterday, let’s consider what Jesus had to say about it. I will turn to a good resource, which I have quoted from before: The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley.

Beginning on page 44:

Some Christians confidently assert that God did not create homosexual people “that way.” This is important because they realize that if God did create gays “that way,” rejecting them would be tantamount to rejecting God’s work in creation. In pressing their “creation order” argument, some Christians are fond of saying, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” To bolster their position, they often cite Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-5, where he responds to a question about whether divorce is permissible:

“Jesus answered, “have you not read that the One who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”? Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.’”

From these words, some Christians draw the conclusion that heterosexuality is the creation norm and, thus, heterosexual marriage is the only legitimate way for people to form romantic relationships. Ironically, Jesus’ own words in this very same passage refute these conclusions.

As the dialogue continues, Jesus’ disciples are disturbed by his strict teaching on divorce. The disciples say that if a divorce is not a ready option, perhaps it would be best for a man not to marry a woman. Jesus responds:

“Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are enough eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:11)

Here Jesus identifies three classes of men who should not marry woman. Taking his categories in reverse order, first, there are those who have made themselves “eunuchs” for the kingdom of heaven, i.e., those who forswear marriage to better serve God. Second, he mentions those who have been “made eunuchs by others,” an apparent reference to castrated males. But Jesus mentions a third category – eunuchs who were born that way. Some might argue that Jesus was referring to males born without testicles, but this would be extremely rare. Moreover, this interpretation ignores how the term “born eunuchs” was used in other literature of the time.

As we have already seen(there is an interesting discussion on this in the book), in the ancient world, including ancient Jewish culture (as reflected in the Talmud), “natural” or “born” eunuchs were not associated with missing testicles. Rather, they were associated with stereotypically effeminate characteristics and behavior (just like modern gay men, and were thought by Rabbi Eliezer to be subject to “cure” (just like modern gays). Moreover, as we have also seen, eunuchs were commonly associated with homosexual desire. As a reasonable informed person of his time, Jesus would have been aware of this common view of eunuchs. Yet he very matter-of-factly asserts that some people are simply born that way. The implication of his statement is profound – God created gay people the way they are! Jesus says so.

Unlike Rabbi Eliezer, Jesus feels no need to “cure” these born eunuchs. He speaks no words of condemnation. Rather he lists people born gay alongside another honored class (eunuchs for the kingdom), and accepts them as a natural part of God’s creation order.

Thus, when Matthew 19 is read as a whole, we see Jesus teaches that most people are created for heterosexual marriage. (We too accept this as God’s predominant creation paradigm.) But, unlike some modern Christians, Jesus does not see this as the only honorable way to live. He acknowledges that some human beings have been created by God to follow a less common, but equally legitimate path. There are some who have been eunuchs from birth – made that way by God.

But we’re not quite done. In fact, we’ve saved the best for last.

From here to book continues with the story of Jesus and the Gay Centurion, which I have previously posted and recently referred to. (I hope I don’t end up publishing their whole book here).

Of course this does not say gays should marry gays. But when you factor in the centurion’s story, David and Jonathon, Ruth and Naomi (Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God my God.) Ruth’s words of love and devotion for another woman are used in countless straight marriages (and gay ones) and their love is further exemplified when the passages that follow focus on their relationship, and not the convenience marriage of Ruth to a man.

David expressed his love for Jonathon in a song after Jonathon’s death, “Greatly beloved you were to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” This is not “male bonding” with a beer and a football game.

So, same sex relationships are legitimate according to the Old and New Testaments. But while same sex marriage is not specifically drawn out in the Bible, what does the Bible have to do with civil marriage anyway? I mean, marriage as a sacrament, by the church, certainly should be decided on by that church. But marriage as a contract, recognized by the government, should be based on our constitution, including the equal protection clause. The constitution is the “sacred” document of our country, not the Bible.

Here’s a little video of Mikey and Jaz’s wedding (music, No One by Alicia Keys). This dispels the rumor that there are no black gays, and that all blacks are against same sex marriage.

>Tom’s Marriage Manifesto

November 25, 2008

>If you are looking for the owls, just scroll on down.

Let’s just not recognize anyone’s marriage, until we can recognize all marriages.

This comic by Mar Bennett:

…expresses what this blog by Tom Ackerman: A Marriage Manifesto…of sorts
proposes we do. Thanks John for sending this.

I no longer recognize marriage. It’s a new thing I’m trying.

Turns out it’s fun.

Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.
She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”

“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”

….Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. … (Read the post)

So, we can take this away. We can refuse to recognize marriage in the cultural sense. It is totally within our rights, as Americans, to follow our beliefs and recognize or not recognize what we like.

I guess this is a call out to all Americans with beliefs similar to mine.

If you believe that all people should have equal rights, and if you believe that marriage is one of the greatest destinations of a relationship, then perhaps you believe that nobody should have marriage until everybody does.

That’s what I believe.

Seems like a harmless way to make a point.

>Who – hoo knew?

November 25, 2008

>Have you sent your postcard to President elect Obama urging him to ask congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act? We sent 2, one says “Alabama” and the other “Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.” You can get souvenir postcards like these at Petro (exit 100 on I-20/59) and probably at Flying J and Cracker Barrel too, in and around Bessemer.

Who-Hoo-hoo knew? Northern saw-whet owls live in Alabama. Birders previously thought the little owl lived only in Canada and Northern US.

Photo credit Wikipedia

Bob Sargent and his wife Martha have caught nine of them near their home in Clay. They are bird experts and worked on this project for three years before capturing any this year. Jackpot. They document, photograph and put an ID band around its leg. They only weigh 3.5 ounces. Cute, huh?

In Bessemer, no owls, but lots of turkeys. 400 turkeys were given out by Earl Cochran Jr and DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans players from Bessemer.

>New Blog Links and a Prediction

November 24, 2008

>Since my kids have become “adults” (sorry about the “”, kids, but you know), I don’t know many younger people. If I know any 12 year olds, I hope they are as articulate and progressive as Joey. Here is what Joey wrote for a school project:

I think it is so amazing and so wonderful that Obama won the presidency. It’s just that all throughout history in America we have never elected a black president or anyone for that matter who is not in the category of white men who have been oppressing so many people throughout history through slavery and racism. I just can’t believe that it has taken people so long to realize that no matter what color, no matter what gender, no matter what religion, straight or gay, it doesn’t matter. We are all people, aren’t we? But last night I saw on the television that Barack Obama had won the spot of the 44th President of the United States of America, and I just thought to myself: this is change; that we as a people of America can change. And that we will change from this awful past we have had. I just hope this is a milestone for America and for the world, that there can be people from more different races elected for president and for senate.

Joey’s thought were posted on The Wild Reed. The Wild Reed is labeled as Thoughts and reflections from a progressive, gay, Catholic perspective. I discovered The Wild Reed because google told me he linked to this post about Jesus and the gay centurion. You know how I appreciate progressive gay religious perspectives, and Michael offers that.

My other new link is Homer’s World where Homer, A Queer Archaeologist Living in Tuscon, writes. Homer is like me, he just writes about anything. And like me, he was fuming after Prop 8 passed. Like me, he cooks interesting things, and bakes. Homer owns cats.

You can link to The Wild Reed and Homer’s World from my blog lists.

Speaking of writing about anything, we saw Quantum of Solace yesterday.

Everyone knows not to wear heels when you’re going to be traipsing across the desert, or formal wear either, for that matter. And Bond and Camille don’t seem too happy about it, do they.

We were recently in the desert (not in Bolivia) but we didn’t see anything like this.
Great movie, though. I’ll leave the vampires and Twilight to the young females.

Now, a prediction. I hate to say this, but I am afraid the movie theater in Bessemer (Premiere) is going to fail, because they don’t advertise. Many people have asked me about this. Some people still grab the newspaper and run out the door to see a movie. When the listings aren’t in the paper, we aren’t gonna go there. We went to Rave in Patton Creek.

Play, the Birmingham News entertainment supplement, does not have listings for Premiere. If you go to the Birmingham News web site, they aren’t even listed. It’s difficult to find them even if you google their name. So come on Premiere, give yourselves a chance. Advertise a little.

>Chinese Democracy

November 21, 2008

>Well, right wingers are accusing the incoming president of being a socialist (still, I listen to talk radio at times), so wouldn’t Chinese Democracy make sense.

Actually it’s the title of Guns N’ Roses new album, in the works since 1994.

Why does Bessemer Opinions care?

Because Dr. Pepper made a promise of free soda to Every One In America if the album was released before the end of this year.

We never thought this day would come,” Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement. “But now that it’s here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper’s on us.”

There’s one catch. You must visit the Dr. Pepper web site to retrieve a coupon, and the offer is only available for 24 hours beginning Sunday at 12:01 AM. I assume the coupon will be here. Remember to do this on Sunday.

The Colbert Report

Robert sent me this. You know that I don’t blame any race for the defeat of Prop 8 in California, but I also love political comedy. Watch this clip from Comedy Central where Dan Savage takes on Stephen Colbert regarding Prop 8. Do not watch at work, if others are listening. Be prepared to embarrass yourself laughing. Savage actually made Colbert blush. How cute.

http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml

>Postcards

November 20, 2008

>Join the Impact has a good idea. Buy one of those touristy post cards, you know, that has a picture of something related to your state or city, and send to President Elect Obama with a hand written message.

Something like this:

Dear President-elect Obama,

Please ask Congress to repeal DOMA! All Americans should have the right to marry. Thank you in advance for advocating for the civil rights of your LGBT citizens.

Sincerely,

Your name and state


Take a picture of yourself with the postcard and email it to Join the Impact to add to their album, like this guy from Seattle, Washington did.

Mail the postcard to:
President-elect Barack Obama Presidential Transition Office
Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S. Dearborn St., 38th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604

To learn more about Join the Impact and how they might be working in Birmingham (this is new) come to the Alabama Stonewall Democrats meeting tonight at 6:00 at Logan’s in Crestwood. We will also be electing officers for next year.

Obama and Civil Rights

If you visit the Obama transition team site you can get an idea of what Barack Obama wants to accomplish in all areas.

“The Obama Administration has a comprehensive and detailed policy agenda.”

Click on Civil Rights and you will lean that he includes the rights of GLBT folk as civil rights. Included are:

Employment Discrimination: This includes passage of the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay, as well as ENDA, the inclusive employment non-discrimination act.

Expand Hate Crimes Protection: Passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition you can read about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell“, expanding adoption rights, promoting AIDS prevention with a comprehensive AIDS/HIV strategy, empowering women to prevent HIV transmission, and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and ensuring “that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions.”

The participation of tens of thousands in the recent protests who have never been involved in gay equality before is akin to the participation of thousands in the election who had never been involved in voting before. We are entering a new age of participation, both in general and in GLBT support. Equality Alabama, Central Alabama Pride, ACLU, Stonewall Democrats, Join the Impact, all of these organizations need your support. Become involved with one or more.

The opportunity before us is immense. Equality awaits us.

Back to the postcards. Obama will be receiving cards from all fifty states, from the state capitals, as Wakko points out, and other cities as well.

>Caring for Veterans plus Music for Lovers

November 19, 2008

>Be sure to read the post directly below this one. It is my column from today’s Western Tribune, where I explain the significance of Barack Obama’s election to the gay community.

This story, seen on NBC News last night, will touch your heart. Well, it did mine. Because I think we should do a better job in caring for our vets who come home with physical or mental wounds. And because it involves dogs. I am still a veterinarian, you know. And even though I focused on cats during my career, what dogs can do is amazing.

Service dogs, being trained to assist wounded service persons, are being trained by veterans with PTSD, and the training is part of their therapy as well. This is great.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/27792698#27792698

Shifting gears a bit…

Boyzone
, the boy band from Ireland (now more of a “man band”) with openly gay heartthrob Stephen Gately, will be releasing a new song in December. “Better” is a cover of a song recorded by Tom Baxter last year and is touted as being the first “boy band” music video that shows a gay couple in love. The band first wanted to use their real love interests in the video but the partners would not agree. The other pairings are straight couples.

This song reflects the feelings that any couple, gay or straight, might have as they consider a life together. And separate but equal institutions of recognizing those lives are not right. So watch the video, consider how you feel about your husband, wife, partner, bf or gf or whoever, and think about how everyone in love should have equal rights.

At any rate, Tom Baxter recorded the song in 2007, and his video is just as diverse.

So, which video, and which version of the song, do you like?

But “gayish” videos go way back. Some of us remember Pet Shop Boys “Being Boring” from 1990. Don’t let the bare bunned guy at the first scare you, the video is really just about life when you are young, and the song is actually in remembrance of people lost to AIDS.

But what memories…(although our parties never featured donkeys or chimps on bicycles).

>Western Tribune Column November 19 2008

November 19, 2008

>This is my column from today’s Western Tribune.

What a mixed bag of emotions the gay community is feeling after the election. A president-elect who believes in equality, and the negating of established marriage rights in California, often thought to be the most liberal state in the nation.

Civil rights did not come easy for African Americans, and this setback will not stop the progression toward equality for gays.

For starters, the Democratic National Platform calls for passage of the employment non-discrimination act, which will prevent employees from losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation, as well as inclusion of sexual identity in hate crimes legislation.

We will also see the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell,” the exclusionary policy that prevents gay and lesbian servicepersons from serving openly, in spite of the fact that they have served in our armed forces since day one, probably by your side or in your foxhole if you are a veteran.

But full equality will not be recognized until same sex couples can receive the same benefits that married heterosexuals do. There are over 1000 rights that come with civil marriage.

Since the passage of Prop 8 in California, huge protests have occurred across the nation. This repeal of established rights has left many wondering who is next. Will they try to take away the right of interracial couples to marry? Apparently all it takes is a vote to remove people’s rights. What about the right of Jews to worship? That could be gone with a vote in California. What a dangerous precedent for that state and our nation.

But the one positive thing that has happened as a result is the mobilization of the gay community across the nation. Our country will not be at full strength until we recognize the value and equality of all of our citizens. Fortunately, this mobilization comes as we are looking forward to working with a President who believes in equality.

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.