Archive for the ‘LGBT Equality’ Category

>A Gay weekend in Montgomery

February 27, 2011

>Last weekend was “Gay Alabama in Montgomery”. Two events took place that should have been better attended, but were meaningful and beneficial for those who did attend.

On Saturday Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out visited the capital of Alabama and spoke. Patrick McAlvey, a survivor of ex-gay therapy also presented his story. Equality Alabama sponsored this event. I got to spend a little time with Wayne on both Friday (in Tuscaloosa) and Saturday, and Patrick on Saturday.

If you haven’t seen Patrick’s video watch it. No one should have to go through this farce of therapy. Those who practice it should be prosecuted.

On February 20, 2011 the 13th Annual Vigil for Victims of Hate and Violence took place on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery. Alabama needs a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Remember, Billy Jack Gaither and Scotty Joe Weaver were both killed, in gruesome and torturous (thank you Gwen) ways that might have been prevented had the killers thought twice knowing that what they were doing was a hate crime that could result in stiffer sentences for their actions. Of course, many other hate crimes against the LGBT community have been committed, pretty much ignored by the press, and certainly ignored by our elected officials.

The Shouting Stones provided music…


…while the people gathered.


Rev. Paul Britner of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Montgomery gave the opening words and welcomed all of us. UUF also provided the venue for Truth Wins Out the night before.


Dr. Paul Hard gave a short intro that reminded us why we were there.

Equality Alabama Chair Dr. Joe Openshaw (me) also gave a welcome on behalf of Equality Alabama and reminded those in attendance of how important is is that they follow up EA’s letters to the state legislators with their own letters regarding an inclusive hate crimes law. EA sent letters to all the legislators last month outlining the issues important to us and to the state: hate crimes law, anti-bullying legislation and employment non-discrimination.

Mr. Rocky Twilley read a message from Rev. Jo Crisco, pastor at New Hope Metropolitan Community Church.


The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Choir provided True Colors.

Nancy Dobson presented the Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award, presented yearly to a deserving recipient based on their commitment to justice and equality for all people.

The award went to Robert and Jean Graetz. Read about their award here.

Equality Alabama board member Shirley Ann Rawls introduced the keynote speaker…

…Ms. Gwynedd Adelaide Thomas.

Ms. Thomas gave a wonderful presentation, but what struck me the most were her many reminders of hate crimes committed against members of the LGBT community here in Alabama and elsewhere, and her introduction of the label “torture” to those crimes. In reality, those victims actually are tortured, often being beaten, burned, urinated on. Remember Scotty Joe crying Chris, please stop” as his murderer tightened the rope around his neck? It’s torture, all right.

Equality Alabama believes this is not a Democrat v. Republican issue, but a humanitarian issue, a love v. hate issue. All legislators should be interested in adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our hate crimes law in Alabama, as this could help to reduce violence in our state.

My photographer did not get a picture, but Rev. Elizabeth O’Neill, pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, gave the closing words.

A reception followed at the Ken Baker Center, which is managed by Equality Alabama.

This picture is from the day the center was dedicated.

I urge you to support the LBGT community in Alabama and the Ken Baker Center by joining Equality Alabama by getting on our email list and with a monetary contribution. A yearly contribution of $35 is suggested, along with a monthly contribution of whatever amount you can afford at this time. Our work is far from complete, and we need your support to continue. Click here to donate to Equality Alabama.

You don’t have to be gay to join or support Equality Alabama. We have many straight supporters, and if you believe in equality you should join too!

Our big weekend would not be complete without sharing our accommodations while in Montgomery.

While in the capital we stayed at The Lattice Inn and enjoyed wonderful accommodations and an enlightened and entertaining host.

I recommend The Lattice Inn when in Montgomery. I look forward to visiting again when the temperature is just a few degrees higher and the pool is open.

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>MLK, what do you say?

January 17, 2011

>Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been celebrated for 25 years, and I wonder what he would say today.

I attended the Martin Luther King Jr Unity Breakfast in Birmingham this morning. Several hundred people; black, white, male, female, straight, gay, were present. There was definitely diversity in the room. But was there equality? Would King be satisfied?

Those are easy questions to answer: No!

Years ago the buzz word for the gay community was “tolerance.”

But we quickly realized that tolerance still left room for indifference, even hatred, as one can tolerate the cold of winter, even if one hates the snow and ice. So acceptance was adopted as a goal, rather than tolerance.

Likewise, diversity was a concept that was aspired to, but just achieving diversity does not satisfy. One can place a diverse group of cookies; say, chocolate chip, raisin oatmeal, and peanut butter; on a platter and call the kids in and 9 out of 10 times the chocolate chip cookies will disappear first. The cookies are not treated equally. So, for people anyway, equality is what needs to be achieved, not just diversity.

At the MLK breakfast, a film documentary about King and his effects on our city was shown. Rev. Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries was one of the people interviewed in the film. “Alabama has never voluntarily stepped into the future,” he said.

Douglas is a former member of the Board of Directors of Equality Alabama, so I am sure he would not mind me expanding his words to reflect the challenges confronting the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community in the state. The ultimate goal of equality for the gay community is seen to be marriage, and Rev. Douglas and others would agree that we don’t expect Alabama to voluntarily acknowledge that right.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell was the keynote speaker at the event. He urged the audience to “confront those in Montgomery (and elsewhere) who are holding you back.” This is precisely what Equality Alabama is going to do during the next year.

Mayor Bell also said that we may say, “Woe is us,” because Republicans have taken over the state legislature, or “Woe is us,” because Republicans have overtaken the House in Congress. But, he said, we should really be saying, “Woe is us,” if we sit and do nothing, which is often the case.

Many in the LGBT community “sit and do nothing” to help the cause of Equality. One thing you can do without having to become an activist or a political wonk is to tell your story. Tell your story to your family and to your neighbors and co-workers or fellow students. Let them know how discrimination has affected you, and how your life is not equal to theirs.

Here’s a start. You can be fired from your job for the simple reason that you are gay.

You can be kicked out of your apartment or denied a mortgage simply because you are gay.

You can be denied inheritance of your partner’s possessions simply because you are gay (including the home you might have shared for decades – you could be out on the street).

If you are a student, you can be harassed or bullied, simply because you are gay, or perceived to be.

If you are a parent, you can be denied custody or visitation rights simply because you are gay.

If you aspire to be a parent, you can be denied the right to foster or adopt simply because you are gay.

If you are partnered, you can be denied tax breaks worth thousands of dollars a year that a straight married couple enjoys, simply because you are gay.

The list goes on.

Equality Alabama
will be looking for LGBT people who are willing to share their stories. Watch for an announcement from Equality Alabama about this in the near future, regarding gay parents. (Also watch for changes to our web site, which we are in the process of updating.)

In the meantime, remember the words of Dr. King as we fight for equality.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.”

>Response to Western Star bigotry

November 24, 2010

>Bessemer’s Western Star is published by Trib Publications, Inc., and their president, Bob Tribble, exhibited his lack of education and his bigotry in a recent editorial. You can read it here.

Three letters appeared in today’s Western Star in response. One is from me, the others are from Elisa Macon and Trey Noland. This will make for a long blog post, but I am posting all three letters here. Click “Read more” to view the letters.

Trey Noland is a former Assembly of God minister and foreign missionary.

Dear Editor,

In his editorial regarding the repealing of DADT, Mr. Tribble manages to present himself as level-headed and makes sense until the last 4 paragraphs of the letter. That is where his logic is replaced by superstition (disguised as faith).

Mr. Tribble, as do many religious men and women, begins to claim to know what “God calls” and what “God wishes”. I would say Mr. Tribble may know as much about God as he does about gays. Just like his knowledge of gays is obviously prejudiced, here-say, and stereotyped perception (it’s ridiculous to claim all gays are covering up misery and unable to find peace)…so his understanding of God is prejudiced by his own perceptions and what others have told him about God.

Now, that’s a common human trait and not so horrible in and of itself. However, Mr. Tribble is going beyond just believing something…he is using his personal understanding and beliefs to condemn others.

There are only seven scriptures which address homosexuality in the Bible. Every one of those scriptures refer to either rape, sexual idolatry, or pederasty between two people of the same sex.

There was no concept of modern-day, committed, monogamous gay relationships…not to mention any understanding by Biblical authors of recent advancements in science that suggest one’s orientation is innate and unchangeable. Even if one believes the Bible to be without error, it is arrogant to believe your understanding is without error. Mr. Tribble and other Christians (myself included) need to keep this in mind before we speak out in condemnation of others.

Trey Noland

**********

Elisa Macon is a Birmingham Realtor, and former educator.

Dear Editor,

A recent letter writer spoke in support of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Please allow me to offer a different opinion.

It is wrong to expect our distinguished men and women in uniform to lie about who God made them to be. There is no honor in suppression of the truth. Therefore, DADT is wrong. Period.

The letter writer continued to share his opinion of homosexuality. He stated opinion as fact, and he was wrong on at least three very important points:

1. “The Bible is clear about homosexuality.” This is a false statement. As all Biblical scholars know, the King James version of the Bible is a translation from original language, and there was no term related to sexual minorities when the Bible was written. The translation of “homosexual” in Romans is from a word meaning “weak-spirited” and referred to those who refused to acknowledge Christ in public. The passage from Leviticus is also often quoted, but those who follow Christ know that He said the law (Leviticus) is to be put away, and He is the new high priest. Those laws were to a specific people at a specific time of near-extinction, and no one obeys these laws today (unless you sacrificed a calf on your front lawn last Saturday). There are in fact beautiful homosexual love stories in the Bible, including Jonathan and David. Read it for yourself. Finally, Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with homosexuality, but with inhospitality and greed; again, stop taking passages out of context and read the whole Bible for yourself.

2. “Homosexuality is a sin.” This is a false statement. Sin is an act, not a state of being. For instance, according to the Bible, judging and condemning others is a sin, because it is a chosen act; but Jesus himself embraced diversity in making sure we understood that there is no male or female, no Jew or Greek, but that we are all the same in God’s eyes. Homosexuality and other sexual minorities are just beautiful diversities in creation, like height and hair color. Though redheads are in the minority, it is not a sin to be born red-headed. It is a sin, however, to turn souls away from Christ’s love through discrimination, as this letter-writer has done.

3. “Gay lifestyles can never produce peace and happiness in their hearts.” This is a false statement. First, gay is not a “lifestyle” any more than being short or tall is a “lifestyle”- again, it is a creation by God. But those who are living God’s will for their lives are filled with the fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace- whether gay or straight. The only misery comes from denying who God made you to be. This letter-writer obviously lives in misery, but there is no misery in truth. God blesses and loves his gay children who have the courage to acknowledge Him and be honest about who He created them to be.

This letter writer would do well to observe Jesus’ commandments to love God with all his heart and love his neighbor as himself. This includes everyone- every “whosoever” God ever made.

Elisa Macon

**********

My letter. Y’all know who I am.

Dear Editor,

A recent editorial in the Western Star (written by their out of state owner) urges congress and the military to keep the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in place.

The writer bases his position on the errant belief that military chaplains would have to leave the service if they could not preach against homosexuality. As the acting chairperson of Equality Alabama I feel that this issue should be addressed, but it was another statement in the editorial that motivates me to respond.

“Homosexuals call themselves gay but that is only an attempt to cover up their misery. Gay lifestyles can never produce peace and happiness in their hearts,” the writer says.

Across this state gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are leading happy and fulfilled lives, some in partnered relationships, and others as singles.

To assume that all gays are trying to “cover up their misery” is ludicrous, and stems from outdated mid 20th century beliefs that homosexuality is a mental disease, which we now know it is not.

It is true that some gays suffer from low self esteem and depression but so do some heterosexuals. And many of the problems that those gays have stem from the uneducated and hateful rhetoric they hear from people like this editorial writer.

At a time when anti-gay bullying and LGBT teen suicides are in the news, one would think that an editorial writer could show more compassion and sensitivity toward their gay readers.

As for the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, 75% of Americans (ABC News/Washington Post 2010), including 60% of churchgoers (Gallup, 2009) are in favor of repeal. The recently leaked military survey reveals that those currently serving are also comfortable with lifting the ban, and that there will be little if any effect on the operations or effectiveness of our military.

Let’s base our support for repealing the policy, or lack thereof, on whether it would affect military readiness and on the wishes of the American people, not on hateful rhetoric based on decades old research.

LGBT soldiers are serving and are dying for our country now. If they can die for our country, they should be able to do so without being asked to lie about who they are. Where is the honor in that? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed now.

Joe Openshaw
Equality Alabama Interim Chairperson
Bessemer, Alabama

>It Gets Purple (and purple is better)

October 20, 2010

>This is a colorful blog. We’ve turned pink for the month of October (and turning pink has messed up our format a bit, the videos overload some if the sidebar items, but that’s OK, for a while. If you’re new, Bessemer Opinions is normally not this sloppy looking).

And for today, we are purple, to bring awareness to the problem of bullying in schools.

We are getting ready for fall around here. More pictures below.

If you’ve kept up with this blog for the past couple of weeks, you already know how concerned we are about the bullying problem. Well over 200 people have sent letters to their state Senators and lots of people are wearing purple today. If you haven’t sent a letter, please go here, add a personal note to the suggested text, and send it away. We do the work. We print out your letter and deliver it to the senator.

The employees of Google say that it gets better.

I’ve not reported much on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell developments, one reason being is that by the time I write something and you see it, other new developments have occurred. But this is neat. Dan Choi has re-enlisted in the army as an openly gay man.

Now, we all love Hillary. She’s joined in with those making “It Gets Better” videos. From the heart, and compassionately, she makes the case. and sounds very presidential in doing so. Ahem.

I’ve added a new blog to My Blog List on the sidebar. Shadetree Theology is the reflections of a man who is still recovering, if I may, from being a minister in a “charismatic/Pentecostal” denomination, and having to break through that cloud when he came out as a gay man. He is going through a lot of what I did with his family, and he reveals a lot of the unfairness of the process of divorce and trying to do so amicably. Been there. There are hundreds if not thousands of such stories, but Trey is local. Trey, I can offer you this: It does get better.

Today I am visiting the Bessemer School Board. This could be interesting. If you are a Bessemer student, read this.

I think there are going to be some stories about Bessemer in the next two weeks, but for now, things are calm and cool. Martha would be proud of my fall decor.

>Coming out

October 11, 2010

>

Coming out as a gay person, or a lesbian, a bisexual, or transgender, is not an event, it’s a process. A series of events, actually, because one must choose whether to share that information again and again and again.

One might be out to friends and not to family. Or out to friends and family and not at work. Or out to friends and family and at work but not at church.

Today is National Coming Out Day. That is a day, according to Wikipedia, for civil awareness for coming out and for discussion of LGBT issues.

It’s also Columbus Day, but that’s a bit controversial since Christopher came over here as what may be called an illegal immigrant and as a result the Native Americans had their land taken away.

So I’ll avoid controversy and write about being gay and coming out.

I came out to a co-worker (an employee of mine actually) 15 years ago on this day, by coincidence. I didn’t know it was National Coming Out Day until the next year. What a relief, to finally be able to say what I had bottled up inside for years. Of course, I knew that this person I told would be OK with it.

But in actuality I had come out a couple of months prior to that when I(figuratively) knelt before God and asked forgiveness for lying to Him and others about my sexuality and for strength as I sought to finally become the person He wanted me to be). That is when the big burden was lifted off my shoulders.

Then I came out again; to my family. At 40 something years of age that was difficult enough. I can’t imagine doing so at 13 or 17 or 20 like kids are doing these days. My hat is off to them and I offer them all the encouragement in the world.

But for some of them, in fact, even for some who do not come out, things are not rosy. Some are harassed. Some are bullied, some think they have have no where to turn, some take their own lives.

Such must have been the case for 19 year old Zach Harrington in Norman Oklahoma, the most recent young gay person to be in the news for taking his own life, reported yesterday.

Yesterday, as vigils were being held, across the country and in Birmingham, to highlight the problem of anti-gay bullying and teen suicide. Read about the Birmingham vigil and view pictures of the speakers here.

So here we are urging people to come out, but with the knowledge that some will put their relationships, their jobs, their lives, in jeopardy.

I admire those brave kids like 16 year old Garrett Hopkins who attends Vestavia Hills High School, where I graduated way back when, who has been a target of bullying at his school, yet bravely attends last night’s candlelight vigil in memory of bullied kids who took their lives and speaks to the media with no apparent reservations.

I’ve been urging kids by telling them “It Gets Better,” and for me it certainly did. Who knows what my life would have been like had I come out at 16 years of age. But at that time in Vestavia there was nothing to come out to. No support groups. No Equality Alabama, no Trevor Project, no cell phones to text my friends, no facebook and no internet and not even a cordless phone where I could get out of the kitchen to talk to someone on the phone. How was I to learn that being gay is OK?

Everyone is in a different situation and each individual must take many factors into account when deciding who to confide in. But as far as confiding in oneself goes, the first very important step, that can, and should, be done by anyone.

Now a word to the parents out there. If you have a child, that child could be gay. “Gay” here means any sexual minority. Go ahead, regardless of the age of your child, and tell yourself, “I will love my son or daughter regardless of who they chose to love or who they are attracted to.”

And let your kids know at a young age that you are accepting of all people and they will feel more comfortable if and when they let you in on the secret they’ve been hiding.

Like most gay people, I knew as a kid that I was somehow different.

Maybe not quite this young, but a couple of years after this picture was taken I knew. I love that shirt by the way, think I could find one in my size? And I realize there’s a little phallic element to the picture with the rocket and all…but I digress.

But even after I went off to college, I still could not admit to myself what I actually knew. Does that make sense? It will to some of you.


I immersed myself in religion, Campus Crusade for Christ to be precise, while submitting to secret urges on the downlow. I was as big a hypocrite as Pastor Eddie Long, I guess. Well, not really. I didn’t preach or speak against homosexuality, I just shared the Four Spiritual Laws.

I only share this information in order to let questioning people of any age know that where ever you are there are steps you can take to gain self confidence and eventually to come out.

And I hope that when you do, it does get better, just as it did for me.

>Equality: it belongs to you and me

August 11, 2010

>There are some people in Bessemer and really, everywhere, that need to see this.

My friend Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend has shared this video of Coretta Scott King speaking at the 1996 Atlanta Pride Festival.

Some people do not understand that equality belongs to everyone. She, and her husband, certainly did.

I certainly tried to make that point in my book, Those Others, and a review that came out yesterday recognizes that. Read it here.

Look for my upcoming article on the Prop 8 overturn in Noise Magazine. I’ll let you now when it comes out.

I’m not going to post the videos and rants from those who disagree with the Judge’s opinion because there are no valid arguments against it. His perceived sexuality has nothing to do with it. The misinterpretation of the Bible has nothing to do with it. The constitution and our founding documents are about equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nowhere do those documents (nor the Bible) say “for straight people.”

“Justice is indivisible,” Mrs. King said. “The church burners and the gay bashers drink from the same poisonous well of hatred…”

I would add that some of the church leaders drink from that well of poison as well. And some talk radio hosts. And the “professional right.”

>Openly terrific

June 23, 2010

>The President hosted a reception in honor of LGBT Pride month yesterday.

I’m wondering if Rick and Bubba will be able to hold their tongues. They’ve been warned by their sponsors and by their syndicator to hold down their rhetoric or face the music.

While most of the local community has heard what the sponsors are saying (both Academy Sports and Bojangles Chicken have said they don’t agree with Rick Burgess’ comments and told the radio hosts as much, and that if they targeted gays or any other group like that again they would pull their sponsorship. The syndicator of the show is unhappy as well, and he doesn’t want to hear any more reports of such talk.

Here is the president speaking at the reception. He called Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis, lesbian and gay members of the House of Representative, “openly terrific.”

I think that’s a great new term for us. Because being gay is terrific.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke at an event celebrating LGBT Pride month.

She was the first first lady to march in a Pride parade.

“Human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights once and for all.”

One of my facebook friends, and straight woman who took part in the civil rights struggles during the 1960’s posted this comment on one of my facebook posts yesterday.

June is Pride Month. President Obama has called upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their lives and everywhere it exists.

    I am so proud of our straight allies and the way they take up for us against the hurtful rhetoric of the right.

    So many people have told me or have posted on facebook that this year’s Pride has given them more inspiration than they have felt in years. Polls are showing that Americans are now more accepting of Equality than they have ever been, and many religious groups or individual churches are realizing that LGBT people are created and loved by God just as they are.

    In spite of the vocal frustration with the Obama administration on the slowness of advancement of LGBT Equality, we really should be thankful of the progress that has been made.

    These things come to mind.

    Passage of the (inclusive) Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act.

    Repeal of the HIV ban on travel.

    Hospital visitation for lesbian and gay partners (in hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid.

    Federal employee benefits.

    Broadening of the definition of “son and daughter” so employers would be required to offer workers in same sex relationships the same right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for partner’s newborns or to adopt (announced yesterday by the labor department).

    And the president’s call for congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), to pass an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the pending end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell(DADT). The House has passed the repeal, the Senate Armed Services Comittee has approved, and the full Senate will vote someday.

    Country singer Chely Wright was at the President’s reception.

    Here is her video for “I Already Do.”

    >Southern Baptists oppose DADT repeal (no surprise)

    June 19, 2010

    >
    I looked back over the archives of this site and was quite surprised at how seldom I write about Southern Baptists. They are all around me, are mostly virulently homophobic, but in the last couple of years haven’t had much to say about the subject.

    Part of that may be because they are realizing that the denomination is shrinking, (an article in the Birmingham News a few weeks ago pointed out that teen baptisms was down and so future growth of the denomination was in question) and during their “strategizing” haven’t wanted to seem too mean spirited (but when has that ever stopped them?).

    Anyway, in today’s Birmingham News is an article titled “Baptists fear end of Don’t Ask” with the subtitle “Chaplains might lose freedom, group fears.”

    It seems that Southern Baptists have more chaplains in the military (448) than any other denominations (Roman Catholic – 252, Assemblies of God – 119, United Methodist – 110, Seventh Day Adventist – 43, Mormon – 37, Orthodox – 25, United Church of Christ – 17, Islam -10, Judaism – 21, Buddhist -1).

    The article says there are about 3,000 active-duty chaplains, so those numbers don’t add up. I think the “3,000” includes Reserve and National Guard chaplains, and the other numbers are just Department of Defense numbers.

    Here’s the fear.

    “Southern Baptists…have told Congress and the Pentagon that chaplains
    could lose their freedom to preach and counsel against homosexuality if openly
    gay members are accepted by the military.”

    I’m thinking that if I’m in Afghanistan and am worried about an IED maiming me or knowing that the next day my unit is beginning a dangerous offensive in which I may be expected to take another person’s (terrorist, woman, child) life and I go to my chaplain for counseling, that I want to hear something other than a preaching about my sexuality.

    And under the current policy, since there are no “openly gay” members of the military (wink, wink), and the assumption is therefore that everyone is straight, there is absolutely no reason for a chaplain to be “preaching” against homosexuality anyway.

    “Southern Baptist leaders have warned their chaplains may have to leave the
    military if don’t Ask/Don’t Tell is repealed”


    So if you can’t be over there preaching your intolerance, then you don’t think you can be over there making soldiers feel OK about what they are doing? That is weird, man.


    Gays are in the military, and always have been.

    Always.

    During the Revolutionary War, Friedrich Wilhelm Augustin Ludolf Gerhard von Steuben, who was crucial in the modernization of George Washington’s army, stands out.

    This statue of Von Steuben by Albert Jaegers is in Lafayette Park in Washington DC.

    From Gay Military Signal:

    Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge, that cold winter of 1778, with a young
    French nobleman who was his ‘assistant’ and lover. As he spoke almost no
    English, Washington assigned two young inseparable officers, who were fluent in
    French and were lovers, to work with Von Steuben to translate his work.
    They were 20 year old Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton (who was also likely to have been this nation’s first mixed race officer) and 24 year old Lieutenant
    Colonel John Laurens (who was the son of the President of the Continental
    Congress that year, Henry Laurens). Laurens later died in battle, becoming
    one of America’s first Gay heroes. Their love letters still exist.

    So, Southern Baptists, get over it. We were here before you were.

    >Artur Davis? No!

    March 19, 2010

    >

    Update: Update about Artur Davis. From a comment from a friend. ” Please call his office…….1-202-225-2665 (congressional office). 205- 322- 9096 (local campaign office). They are getting lots of calls and maybe he will reconsider…….” Call both, the person at the campaign office tries to put you off but tell her, no, his “no” vote will mean a “no” vote from me and many others in his race for governor. I called both.

    Till after the vote is taken, at least…

    My lack of support for Artur Davis is now solid.

    After what he said about the Health Care bill yesterday, it is clear that he is putting his aspirations to be governor above the needs of the people who voted for him, including myself and my family.

    I met Artur Davis years ago at a neighbor’s house here in Bessemer when he was first running for congress. Like so many of the politicians who begin their run, we had such hopes for him. I called his office in the days that followed to see what his views on gay issues was, and was assured that he was a supporter of the gay community. His predecessor, Earl Hilliard, was 100% supporter on our issues, so Davis had some big shoes to fill as far as equality issues went. We believed him.

    His failures in LGBT issues are well documented. He voted against ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, so he voted against my economic security. He voted against the hate crimes bill, which means he voted against my safety.

    At a forum sponsored by Over the Mountain Democrats in January 2008, when discussing LGBT issues, Davis said (paraphrased), “It is not the role of government to tell people how to think,” referring to proposed legislation.

    Does he not realize that he was sitting on that stage only because the government, in the 1960’s began telling people how to think? That despite the will of the people of this state and others, the government told “us” that “we” could not fire a worker because of their color? That “we” needed to believe that people of his color were equal and treat them that way?

    But he believes “it is not the role of the government” to influence people in this way?

    He threw the gays under the bus. The same bus, that a few decades ago would have seen him sitting in the rear of. Equality for him is a black and white issue. That’s all, though. Lady Gaga got it right in DC when she said, “It’s not equal if it’s sometimes.”

    I sent his campaign an email yesterday. I told them that the CBO report was out, and that the Office of Energy and Commerce report was out, and that I hoped he would look at those and change his vote on the health care bill for the sake of the people in his district. The Energy and Commerce report shows how Davis’s district would benefit under the Health Care bill.

    I heard Davis’s interview on Fox 6 last night, and it is obvious that he has received the same Republican talking points memo that the GOP members have. He mischaracterizes the bill and in doing so, only shows his ignorance about it.

    I even told them I would offer my support (in spite of the gay issues) if he would vote for the bill.

    They must have gotten my email because on my caller ID last night was “Davis 2010”, but I tried to call back and they don’t answer and the message says they don’t have voicemail.

    Here are some of the benefits to AL-07 from the health care bill.

    Improve coverage for 309,000 residents with health insurance.

    Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 179,000 families and 12,800 small businesses to help them afford coverage.

    Improve Medicare for 105,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.

    Extend coverage to 61,500 uninsured residents.

    Guarantee that 11,900 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.

    Protect 2,200 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.

    Allow 55,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.

    Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 39 community health centers.

    Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $304 million annually.

    And

    No deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for, in large part by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and excessive profits for private insurers. The legislation will reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the next ten years, and by about $1.2 trillion over the second decade.

    It’s going to be hard to vote for him for governor (should he win the June primary) in November even if I hold my nose, if he votes against this bill. Maybe I should start paying more attention to the Republican candidate ads.

    >Prodigal Sons and A/X ads

    February 12, 2010

    >Today begins the Great Backyard Bird Count. Get out your checklists. birds are easy to spot in the snow. Oh wait. Misled again, it seems. Maybe we’ll still see some. But we know we will see birds.

    You can count birds today, tomorrow, Sunday, and/or Monday.

    Prodigal Sons

    Well Oprah was not off base, the show yesterday featured the former high school quarterback standout Paul McKerrow, who is now Kimberly Reed, and is indeed a lesbian, and in a relationship with her partner Claire.

    Kimberly has produced a documentary, described as “Superb” (San Francisco Chronicle), “Jaw dropping” (The Independent), “Exceptional” (the Village Voice), “Amazing” (Variety), about her and her brother, called Prodigal Sons.

    Here she is in an interview taped during the 2009 Florida Film Festival about the movie.

    Prodigal Sons is not yet scheduled for viewing here, but there are screenings in Atlanta and other cities. Dates can be found on the web site.

    A/X and Valentines Day

    Valentine’s Day is this weekend, and advertisers are trying to target the LGBT market, it seems.

    I have a few comments about the Armani Exchange ad, which appears as a 10 foot poster in the window of their stores.

    1. Nobody I know is celebrating Valentine’s Day with anyone who looks like any of these people.

    2. We’ve seen more skin and sex than this in many hetero ads for clothing, perfume and beer. Abercrombie, Marky Mark…to name a couple.

    3. A mother’s support group is claiming the ads “poison children with 10 foot posters that are nothing but soft porn.” No, not teaching your children about the diversity of humanity is poisoning them with bigotry and in some cases, hatred.

    4. One of the comments about this poster at the link above: “Posters like the AX ones are needed, to help us remember that people are not made of society – society is made of people. And people, in all their combinations, must come first.”