Archive for May, 2009

>Net Loss – 60

May 29, 2009

>The Episcopal Church has ousted 61 priests that severed their ties and aligned with the Anglican archdiocese of Argentina over gay issues.

Jerry Lamb, the new Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, called the decision to oust the clergy “heartbreaking.”

“But, the fact is, they chose to abandon their relationship with the Episcopal Church,” he said.

That is offset a little bit by the gain of Father Cutie (appropriately named, but pronounced KOO’-tee-ay), the priest that jumped ship from the Catholics after being photographed frolicking on the beach with a female cutie, and became an Episcopal priest (he must complete a little more training).

AP Photo

“I believe that I’ve fallen in love and I believe that I’ve struggled with that, between my love for God, and my love for the Church and my love for service,” Cutie said.

And from another source:

He quoted from the book of Psalms and said, “More than ever, I’m assured that God is love.”
He continued, “I have searched my soul and sought God’s guidance for a long time.”

I wonder if he believes that since “God is love” that all love comes from God?

>New Pics, Old Pics and Anniversaries

May 28, 2009

>1. A Bessemer Improvement

For months (meaning years) we have waited for this to be cleaned up.

Now it looks like this.

Before you know it, a building will rise and this part of downtown will be reborn. Cleaning was delayed due to environmental concerns. The Public Building Authority has seen preliminary drawings. Nice.

2. Bonnie and Clyde

Did you know that it was 75 years ago this week that the two were ambushed and killed. In honor the FBI released new information and photos. Since I am on their favs list, I got them.

Not quite Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, huh?

Here’s Bonnie Parker, wanted.

Here’s Clyde posing by a road sign.

Here’s a crowd gathering around the car after the ambush. Crime does not pay.

Go here for more.

3. History of Stonewall by Varla Jean

Speaking of anniversaries, this summer marks the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. I will be in NYC to celebrate!

>Prop 8 Reaction – Buddhist

May 28, 2009

>From Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Proposition 8: What Happened to Change?

by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

While Prop 8 is the catalyst to our actions and the stimulus to a meta-dialogue on marriage, I would go further to say Prop. 8 is harmful legislation that is being used as a tool to further moral issues of many who feel that same-sex relationships are immoral and an “abomination to God.” The clear message is that there really isn’t a question of marriage for same-sex partnerships simply because the California Supreme Court has upheld 18,000 (!) same-sex marriages. The court could have easily denied the right to marriage to those 18,000 people.

Meanwhile, many Americans in this Obama era advocate for change on a national level and have celebrated change. Many have celebrated difference this year with the victory of a different kind of President. When it was announced that the California Supreme Court had decided to affirm Prop. 8, what I saw and experienced as a Zen priest that lives in a same-sex relationship, is the unbelievable shock of not being part of the change America claims in this 21st Century.

What happens when we must deal with change (and may I say inevitable change) that is meant to transform hatred among us? Despite, Obama’s win there is still racial hatred. What if the change we were to embrace included the end of oppression of one group over another? Letting go of a superior or inferior being is what Shayamuni Buddha taught in his lessons on “no-self” or interrelationships with all living beings. We are nothing without each other. So, the denial of freedom to one is to deny freedom to all.

At the core of the “Prop. 8-struggle” is not marriage, but the transformation of massive pain into freedom and liberation. At the core of this struggle is finding the deep and meaningful purpose of our lives as human beings. Can the fire we feel be transformed into non-harming ways for reconciliation and peacemaking? Legislation alone will not do this. After same-sex marriage is legalized, we will still have the hatred to contend with in our living on this planet.

The saving grace is that as the seasons shift, the sun rises, the moon wanes and waxes, as nature continues to show us each day on this earth…change is coming. In the meantime, may there be peace in our hearts and minds so that we have room for the love necessary.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Buddhist Peace Fellowship

So my take on this is that the Buddhist priest is right on. Some of those who call themselves Christians and some Mormons are using this issue to promote their hatred. Don’t throw me that “love the sinner” garbage either. As I said a couple of days ago, its about power, and as long as they can keep the gays down, less than equal, dirty sinners then they remain in power.

I DVR’d “Intervention” this week and watched it last night. Poor Gabe (watch), adopted from a foreign land to a white Christian family, told all along he was loved, but that he was a sinner, but having his difference pointed out every time he looked at a family portrait.

“That pain, and that depression, it’s something inside you that just grows and grows and grows and grows.”

He felt that he could never live up to his father’s expectation and was doomed to failure. He ended up addicted to heroin and cocaine to mask the pain.

“When all you say is ‘look to God, look to God,’ I know, look to God, but there’s more to it. All you do is judge, you just make me angry, you just make me want to go use.”

Christianity, when used as it was in Gabe’s case, and as it has been in the fight for equality for gays, is a religion based on hatred. Jesus himself would abhor the way his teachings are being ignored or twisted to promote divisions and a class system.

The priest is right, however. The change that we are fighting for, and that involves more than gay marriage, is inevitable. And they are blind to it, but the divisive Christians are only hurting themselves.

>Prop 8 Update Update

May 27, 2009

> Be sure to read my Plug and Play column that follows this.

A challenge to Prop 8 has now been filed in Federal Court. I am not going to comment on whether this is a wise move or not, but it certainly keeps the issue alive (as if it needed a boost).

The attorneys argue that relegating same-sex couples to domestic partnerships instead of granting them full marriage rights is a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The attorneys are former rivals in the 2000 Bush v Gore suit that handed the presidency to W.

Theodore B. Olson, the U.S. solicitor general from 2001 to 2004 under President George W. Bush, and David Boies, a high-profile trial lawyer who argued on behalf of former vice president Al Gore, filed the suit May 22 in U.S. district court on behalf of two California gay couples.


I said yesterday that our resolve was strengthened. Not just mine.

Oh, the caption for the picture at the beginning of the column, from the San Francisco Chronicle is:
Spouses Frank Capley-Alfano (left to right) and Joe Capley-Alfano of San Francisco hold each other while listening to speakers during a meeting for an action before the service at St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco.

>Plug and Play: Western Tribune Column 5-27-09

May 27, 2009


This is my column from The Western Tribune this week. (Images added for drama)

Is Bessemer a “plug and play” community?

Are we a community where everyone fits in and where newcomers can find opportunity and a support system while being themselves?

I have been a close observer of Bessemer over the past decade and still can’t answer that.

Richard Florida, a professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that it is important to be such a community to attract what he calls the creative class.

Florida’s research focuses on larger cities, and suburbs are always linked to their big sisters even when we would rather not be. Birmingham ranked number 9 out of 23 medium cities on the Creativity Index developed by Florida in a 2002 study.

But we are not Birmingham. If Bessemer wants to be the hub of the area, we need to keep and attract our own creative class and here is why.

The creative class that Florida writes about includes creative professionals such as lawyers and health care providers and business managers that have to use creative problem solving in their daily lives. But also included are university professors, writers, editors, artists, analysts and opinion writers and such.

People who are creative in their daily work also bring that ability home and into their neighborhoods. In general, they enjoy outdoor life, and desire walking trails and parks but also cultural venues such as art galleries and theaters and concert halls. When these things are in place, according to Florida, people don’t try “to get away from it all,” they want “to get in to it all, and do it with eyes wide open.”

Graphic credit Randi Wolfe, Northern Illinois University

Diversity is valued by the creative class because they value a mix of influences. One measure cited by Florida is the “Gay Index” developed by a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon. They found that the hot spots of high tech industries and talented people correlated well with concentrations of gay people. When they applied statistics, they found high correlation between the gay index and several other measures of high tech growth.

All this boils down to: if Bessemer wants to be the hub, and wants to retain and attract talent both for the arts and for industry, we need to become a diverse and inclusive community that values all of its residents and recognizes the contributions of all. At this point, I am not sure that Bessemer does.

(End of column)

Flag Wars is a documentary about…well, you can read. Flag Wars. Maybe this should be aired in Bessemer.

>Prop 8 Response and Bessemer Meet Up

May 26, 2009


The California Supreme court just upheld Prop 8.

If I say that the gays are saddened or disappointed or feel cheated because Prop 8 was upheld in California I know I can depend on the homophobes to poke fun as they have before. But sure, there is disappointment. But I will respond with what has become a cliche: It only strengthens our resolve.

Because, as Cody Daigle said in his Prayer for Prop 8, “…if we are forced to fight this fight again (and we will fight this, and we will win, because justice is ultimately on our side), Tuesday’s ruling makes us wiser, stronger fighters.”

Efforts are already underway to gather signatures to bring the issue up again in 2010. The fight will not end until equality and justice are realized.

Here is the real question the justices were asked to answer. Can a majority of voters take a right away from a minority? Well, they did.

A right, like the right to fall in love and establish a legal partnership, exists, whether we recognize it or not. I mean, people are getting married, right. It’s just a matter of recognizing that the right applies to all. California is having a hard time recognizing that, because there are those who want to exclude those who are different. It’s just a power thing. They see themselves as better and as long as they are able to deny a group of people equality, they retain that status.
But like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, we are getting tired of waiting. As Dr. King once wrote, “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait,’. It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ ”

And as we wait, the resolve strengthens in California. And in Bessemer. California is a long way from Bessemer, but the same prejudices and hatred and misconceptions are prevalent in our community, and today, inspired by and responding to the announcement in California, the efforts to bring Bessemer into the 21st century begin in earnest.

The Facebook group Bessemer Equality continues to grow and we will meet tonight to discuss our strategy. Bessemer Equality is a group of straight and gay people who believe that our city can only grow and prosper if all of its residents are treated with dignity and respect.

Communities across the country are responding to today’s announcement, just as they did after the passage of Prop 8 in November. Join us on Facebook where you can learn details of tonight’s meeting. If you are not on Facebook, but are interested, email me.

As for President Obama’s reluctance to act on issues like DOMA and DADT as quickly as expected, read Frank Rich’s recent column from the New York Times.

To go along with the column, here’s Adam Lambert singing “A Change is Gonna Come” from last week’s Idol finale. Sorry, no live video (the sound and video were not in sync on the video’s I saw.)

>Happy Memorial Day

May 25, 2009

>As Memorial Day approaches, think about what our men and women have died for. Isn’t it for the rights and liberties that we all enjoy?

Well, most of us.

13 Love Stories tells the stories of 13 gay or lesbian couples who have not been able to enjoy the same rights as others in our country.

Here are Travis and Greg.

There are other stories, too. Watch Leona and Grace

OK, one more. I can’t put all 13 on here, but you can watch them from the link.

Cas and Ricky.

From the website of the California Supreme Court:

The California Supreme Court has announced that it will issue an opinion in three cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. (Strauss v. Horton, S168047; Tyler v. State of California, S168066; City and County of San Francisco v. Horton, S168078.) Tuesday at 10 a.m., the opinion will be available on the California Courts Web site at this link: .

So expect a comment about that on Tuesday, around noon our time. In the meantime, have a great Memorial Day and let’s remember what our guys and girls in uniform have died for.

And here’s Jason Mraz and the 13 Idol contestants, “I’m Yours.”

>Memorial Day Weekend

May 23, 2009

>This Memorial Day weekend take a moment to honor those who have been killed in defense of our rights and values. These flags are flying for that reason.

Briefly, the first two flags were flown during the Revolutionary War (13 stars), the next during the War of 1812 (15 stars), the Civil War (34 stars), World War II
(48 stars) and Vietnam and the current wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, (50 stars).

I know I have left out some flags and wars, but maybe I’ll purchase those this year.

Problems at the Grill

Don’t be surprised when you fire up the grill this weekend and the flame goes out before the ribs are done. Here, we learn that “When oil prices soared in 2008, propane suppliers quietly reduced by two pounds the amount of gas pumped into each 20-pound tank, saying they wanted to avoid raising prices.”

I have a little problem with that. I mean, when you get less for the same amount of money, prices have been raised.

Here’s another quote from the article:

“Until last year, Blue Rhino and Amerigas, two major suppliers, put 17 to 18 pounds of propane in each 20-pound tank. Tanks should not be filled completely for safety reasons.

About a year ago, that amount was cut to 15 pounds to save consumers a price hike, Blue Rhino spokesman Chris Hartley said.”

Hey Blue Rhino, that is a price hike.

Of course, if you are a purist and use charcoal, or if your grill is fueled by natural gas, you don’t have to worry about that.

>Police Chase Thoughts

May 22, 2009

>I got to thinking about this car chase/police beating thing, and realized that whenever I begin to beat someone with a billy club, I usually know immediately whether they are unconscious or not. I mean, the five officers’ attorney says they didn’t know. I wonder if she would be willing to lie down, pretend to be unconscious, and let somebody take a swing at her with a billy club and see if she doesn’t flinch.

Now I don’t really beat people with billy clubs, I never have, but I’m just saying…

She also said the officers did not know the man had been thrown from the vehicle. Since the police cars stopped either behind or beside the overturned smashed vehicle, I don’t believe that.

She said the officers were doing what they were trained to do. But on the news, a spokesperson from Virginia College said that is not what they are trained to do in the criminal justice program.

From The Birmingham News, in an interview on CNN mayor Larry Langford said, “Neither of us (he and Chief Roper) saw this. It was under the previous administration.”

Of course Langford took office on November 13, 2007 and the incident took place on January 23, 2008.

Former mayor Bernard Kincaid spoke out, “Normally I don’t make public comments involving the activities at City Hall, but this is so egregious that I feel I must. It did not happen on my watch and I wish anyone who made public comments to that effect would correct it publicly.”

Former police chief Annetta Nunn said she too was shocked by the mayor’s comments.

Langford later said it was immaterial who was in charge when the incident occurred.

Well, yeah, if you hadn’t tried to blame someone else, maybe so.

Trying to blame this incident on the prior administration because some supervisors from that administration were still in place is like Republicans trying to blame 9-11 on Clinton even though W was in office when it happened.

We’ve almost gotten to the point where young people and outsiders don’t think of police dogs and fire hoses when Birmingham is mentioned. Now we will have to spend the next 50 years trying to get this image of Birmingham out of people’s minds.

>Updates from yesterday

May 21, 2009

>Kris Allen won American Idol, and no one was more surprised than Kris himself.

“Are you freakin‘ serious? … It feels good man, but Adam deserves this. I don’t even know what to feel right now. This is crazy. Thank you so much.”

I said yesterday that gays would feel cheated if Adam did not win, and sure, the greater talent did belong to Adam. But like my friend Glenn said (in response to my facebook status) “Adam will be a huge star but Kris needed the win.”

CW says that most of the Gokey votes went to Kris, and that is what propelled him past Adam.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution was sure that Adam Lambert would win, and posted this at 10:11 (Eastern time) last night after the winner was announced:

From towleroad , who also reported that this was the fault of the AP, not the AJC.

Be sure to read my Western Tribune column this week (about the occupational tax), posted directly below this.

And the California Supreme Court posted this on their site yesterday:

Forthcoming Opinion Filings
May 20 2009 — No opinions were announced for filing on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

There is no pending notice of forthcoming opinion filings. When opinions are expected to file, notices are generally posted the day before. Opinions are normally filed Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m.

There was a rumor that San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome asked the court to delay the filing so as not to coincide with the White Night Riots anniversary, but his office denied that.

The California Courts are closed Monday, so we shouldn’t expect an opinion then.

Here’s Kris singing “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

And there’s some strange goings on in a neighboring city. That’s all I can say right now. (But I’m not talking about Midfield’s mayor, though I might real soon).