C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Drive: In the Garden

This was my mama's favorite.  She would have turned 89 this month, strange to think.  I'm glad she is in a better place than this rough old world.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Afternoon Drive: Chances Are

The ex-roommate called last night excited about this clip of actor Garrett Hedlund from the movie Country Strong, and I can see why:  the boy is hot, with a magnificent smile and a gravelly voice that grabs you someplace deep.  Probably straight as a board, but oh well.

Give him a whirl, see what you think.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Upside-down World

Click to enlarge.
Gives a whole new perspective on things, don't it?

From BuzzFeed via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hey Baa-by

The women of The View discuss Biblical restrictions on marriage:

Corpus Christi: The Documentary

Corpus Christi is a play by Terrence McNally that reinterprets the Passion of Christ against the backdrop of McNally's own experience as a gay teen in the 1950's in deeply homophobic Corpus Christi, Texas.

The play was met with furious protests at its opening in New York in 1998, but lately a theater group called 108 Productions has been successfully touring with the play, and is making a documentary about it.

I've never seen the play, but would love to. Probably won't ever get the chance, since Texas is full of Bible-believing, gay-hating Christianists. Just last year, there was nearly a nuclear meltdown over in Stephenville when a college drama class attempted a performance in a student workshop on a Saturday morning - not even a public performance, mind you. But that was enough to create a major outbreak of full-tilt, off-the-rails, hang-em-high Pharisaism here, I tell you what.

NY Episcopal Bishops OK Gay Weddings

From Episcopal News Service:
The bishops of the dioceses of Central New York, Long Island, Rochester and Western New York have announced that priests there may preside at the marriages of same-gender couples while in Albany and New York the bishops have refused. . . .

Enactment of the New York law takes place for Episcopalians against the backdrop of General Convention 2009 Resolution C056m, which says that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." . . .

As the bishops weighed in with their policy stances, the NYC-Metro chapter of Integrity USA said that while it "would rejoice if all bishops were to immediately solemnize marriages, we realize that this is not immediately likely for varying reasons, and we urge charity and pastoral engagement on all sides in other dioceses." The group also said that clergy ought to hold same-gender couples to the same standards of preparation expected of heterosexual people as well as the marriage rubrics in the prayer book. . . .

Citing the marriage rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer, Diocese of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano said in a pastoral letter that he will "allow for the use of such rites that bless marriages between persons of the same gender and further permit the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the midst of such blessing."

His letter, titled "A Theological Perspective and Practical Guideline on Marriage in the Diocese of Long Island as New York," was sent to all diocesan clergy and is to be read in Long Island parishes on Aug. 7.

"It is not the priest or bishop who marry the couple. The priest or bishop is present to witness and bless and, when included, celebrate the Holy Eucharist," Provenzano noted. "The function of the ordained person in the rite of marriage is to bless the marriage and provide the appropriate words in the exchange of vows, which indicate within the vows the church's call for permanence and fidelity on the part of those who marry each other." . . 

Resolution C056 directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to work with the House of Bishops to collect and develop theological resources and liturgies for blessing same-gender relationships. The commission is to report to the 77th General Convention in 2012 in Indianapolis, which is expected to make some statement of such blessings. A website here contains some of the materials gathered thus far.

Today's Quote: "Don't Give a Fuck"

Drag artist Cyon Flare
I love the gays. Always have. I respect the hell out of them. Because at some point in his or her life, every gay person has to look society straight in the eye and say: “I’m gay, and I really don’t give a fuck what you think.” And that isn’t an easy thing to do. If everyone had that kind of courage, there’d be a lot less frowning faces on the subway. There’d probably be more people dancing on floats, half-naked, covered in metallic body paint, and waving peacock feathers in the air. Because you can’t really be free until you don’t give a fuck. And not giving a fuck is just about the hardest thing there is to do. And every gay person has to do it. And I respect the hell out of that. Always have.
--Photographer Brandon Stanton via Americablog Gay.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Obama: "A Dangerous Game"

With only a week left before the U. S. Government defaults on its financial obligations, the President addressed the nation tonight and urged citizens to take action:
Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills -– bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s AAA credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis -– this one caused almost entirely by Washington. . . .

Now, I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They’re offended by that. And they should be.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

You can contact all of your elected officials in Washington via USA.gov, and your Head Trucker hopes you will - while you can still pay the electric bill.

Update, 10 p.m. - Response to the President's message seems to be overwhelming Congressional servers.  I was able to get an email through to my representative, but no luck so far with my senators.

Keep trying, guys.  Or are you just going to lie there and let the teabagger fucktards keep gang-banging you?

Lesbian Couple Rescued Dozens from Norway Massacre

Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen
 From Towleroad:
Hege Dalen and her partner Toril Hansen were eating supper in the camping area opposite Utoya island when they started hearing gunshots and screaming....

Dalen and Hansen drove their boat to the island, and fished out of the water people who were in shock and young people who were injured and transported them ashore. Every now and then bullets almost hit the boat.

Since they couldn't fit everyone into the boat all at once, they returned to the island four times. They might have saved as much as forty people from the clutches of the killer.
Other campers rushed to the rescue too, bringing about 150 kids to safety.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Yorkers Say "I Do"

Niagara Falls was lit in rainbow colors last night as gay and lesbian couples wed in this iconic honeymoon location.

Historic day:  Some pics of happy couples celebrating the first legal same-sex marriages in New York.  Congratulations and best wishes to all of them!

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd

Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov

Michael Johnson and Michael Roberts

Kawane Harris and Jeannette Coleman, fighting back joyful tears
Dave Lewis and Adam McKew get some sporran action going for their wedding

Fredy Kaplan and Anthony Cipriano

Bonus:  According to Joe.My.God., even the little peg man on Google maps is joining the celebrations in New York with a rainbow flag today:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Today's Quotes

Norwegian flags and flowers left in mourning for the slain at Oslo Cathedral

1.  From Truth Wins Out, about suspected Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik:
This passage from the suspect’s postings to an anti-Muslim website struck me though . . .
I dare not even think of how many Norwegian children who have been suicide because of these experiences (assault, robbery, rape, psychological terror committed by Muslim youths). There are probably several hundred in the last 15 years. . . .

Non-Muslim youth in Oslo aged 12-18 are in a particularly vulnerable situation in terms of harassment [from] Muslim youth.
This from a man who (it is said) methodically killed 80 kids at a youth camp, some while they were swimming away for their lives. Always, the monster the bigot sees in others is themselves. And they are right to fear that monster.

2. From Box Turtle Bulletin, about New York state clerks refusing on religious grounds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

It goes without saying that many churches, the Catholic Church in particular, oppose the very existence of medical clinics which offer abortion services. Yet they do not suggest that the County Building Inspector refuse to issue a building license or that the city Clerk refuse to process a Business License. None of this administrative process is considered to be a part of, or the administrators culpable for, the abortions that will be conducted at the site.

There simply are no religious beliefs held by any of these public employees, sincerely or otherwise, which forbid them to administer the paperwork involved with any other businesses, marriages, divorces, or other vital statistics which they find morally objectionable. And if there were, their argument is a bit specious considering that they’ve been violating those beliefs with regularity for years.

3. From AmericablogGay, on the Vermont resort that turned down a gay couple who wanted to hold their wedding there:

Catholic beliefs strictly prohibit them from having a gay wedding on the premises. But they're okay with gay couples staying the night in their rooms, they say, and presumably having gay sex. . . .

In addition to married couples who refuse to sign a document promising they won't use contraception and won't have sex unless it's for the express goal of having a child, and single people would need to promise that they won't masturbate.

I'm tired of bigots trotting out the religion card when they actually couldn't care less about enforcing the actual tenets of their religion when it affects anything other than the gay.

4. From Andrew Sullivan, on "America's Cold Civil War":

The Republican refusal to countenance any way to raise revenues to tackle the massive debt incurred largely on their watch and from a recession which started under Obama's predecessor makes one thing clear. They are not a political party in government; they are a radical faction that refuses to participate meaningfully in the give and take the Founders firmly believed should be at the center of American government. They are not conservatives in this sense. They are anarchists. . . .

They are clearly calculating that the economic devastation their vandalism could create will so hurt the economy that it could bring them back to power through the wreckage. And they will use every smear, every lie, every canard possible to advance this goal. The propaganda channel dreamt of by Roger Ailes in the Nixon era will continue to pump poison into the body politic, until they defeat the man whose legitimacy as president they have never truly accepted.

Coming from abroad, this country seems as if it is beyond dysfunctional. It looks like a banana republic on the verge of economic collapse. Now that Nixon's dream has come true and the GOP is fundamentally the party of the Confederacy, it was perhaps naive to think they could ever accept the legitimacy of this president, or treat him with respect or act as adults in the governing process.

But this is who they are.

5. The President in yesterday's press conference:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Obama Certifies End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

DADT ENDS. News just broke

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 22, 2011
Statement by the President on Certification of Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality. In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days—on September 20, 2011.

As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal. As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war. I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition. Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans.
Accompanying documents here.

Great news. Thank you very much, Mr. President, for promoting and finishing the repeal of this hateful, hurtful, unncessary law.

The only downside is: Gay and lesbian spouses of military personnel will not be able to use family housing or obtain medical care, travel, and other benefits that straight couples get because the federal government - due to DOMA - does not recognize same-sex marriages. So that's the next big hurdle.

Still - what an historic change for our country. And I have lived to see this day.


Further reading:  For the record, Mike Signorile gives his recap of DADT repeal efforts since the President's State of the Union address in January 2010.

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What a Billion Muslims Really Think

Today I stumbled across this very enlightening film, the result of a six-year project by the Gallup Poll:
Gallup researchers began by asking the questions on every American’s mind. Why is there so much anti-Americanism in the Muslim world? Who are the extremists and how do Muslims feel about them? What do Muslims like and dislike about the West? What do Muslim women really want?

Crucial policy decisions hang on these questions. They continue to generate passionate disagreements in the public square. Yet for all the heat and controversy, the actual views of the world’s Muslims have been conspicuously missing from this debate.

Now, we have the missing answers and statistics, gathered, parsed, and analyzed not by pundits but by professional researchers.

As part of this groundbreaking six-year project, Gallup conducted tens of thousands of interviews with residents in 35 predominantly Muslim nations, as well as smaller populations in Europe and the USA. The broad extent of the polling has delivered findings for the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims with a plus or minus accuracy of 3%

Focused on the issues of Gender Justice, Terrorism, and Democracy –the film presents this remarkable data deftly, showing how it challenges the popular notion that Muslims and the West are on a collision course. Like the research, the film highlights a shared relationship that is based on facts – not fear.
I've been wanting to find something like this ever since 9/11.  It was produced in 2010, before the "Arab Spring" uprisings this year.  You can watch the whole 58-minute film at Snag Films.

Watch more free documentaries

A personal note:  I had a date one time years ago with a Muslim IT professional from North Africa; he was a sweet guy, very likeable.  I knew some Muslim foreign students in college, and have occasionally met or worked with some other Muslims through the years since.  Of course, none of them were monsters or terrorists.

But try telling that to all the proud ChristiansandAmericans here in small-town Texas.  The analogy of the Ku Klux Klan versus ordinary peaceable Christians they don't even get; washes right over their heads.

Which of course is the same reaction as with any other group that is Not Our Kind.  The old, old human story.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Lost Horizon

Poster by James Montgomery Flagg, who also did the famous
1917 recruiting poster of Uncle Sam saying "I Want YOU"

Steve Hayes reviews the marvelous 1937 classic, one of your Head Trucker's favorites:
Ronald Coleman and a party of kidnapped refugees from a war torn country find themselves crash landed in the Himalayas, rescued and taken to a hidden valley called Shangri-la in Frank Capra's classic LOST HORIZON. Taken from the novel by James Hilton, the story deals with a man who discovers paradise and doesn't know whether to give himself over to it or battle his way back to a civilization from which he was relieved to have escaped in the first place. Coleman was at his romantic best in this film and Capra, having just won an Oscar, never attempted such a visionary film again. Lost footage has been salvaged and somewhat restored from the original print and the result is a remarkable film with a subtlety and spirituality all its own. You'll be moved and mesmerized by the hauntingly beautiful LOST HORIZON.
Ingenue Jane Wyatt is most famous, of course, for her later role as Margaret Anderson, the mother in Father Knows Best; and after that as Spock's mom on Star Trek.


At the moment it's actually 99 degrees here in Texas, which feels like one big toaster oven.  Don't feel like writing much today, so you guys can go read these stories if you want to:

Ghana Regional Minister Orders All Gays Arrested

--Both Christian and Muslim groups rejoice, now that God's wrath has been averted; an MP looks forward to lynching parties.

Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Man as Federal Judge, 80-13
--A surprising yawn.  Even major homophobes like John Cornyn (R-TX) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) didn't bat an eye while voting for J. Paul Oetken's lifetime appointment to the Manhattan bench.  Go figure.

15 Years after DOMA, Hearing Reveals a Nation Transformed

--This last article gives a good recap of pre-DOMA attempts to win marriage recognition, and profiles two early leaders in the marriage fight:  Evan Wolfson and Andrew Sullivan.

Boehner Says No House Vote on DOMA Repeal

--The Republican Speaker of the House will not allow a vote on DOMA, regardless of the Senate hearings on this topic.

DOMA Repeal and the Truth about Full Faith & Credit

--Gay law professor and activist gives a very detailed explanation of why repealing DOMA won't force all states to recognize same-sex marriages.

Photo:  Honk to Shawn Stingel.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Traditional Marriage: The Real Story

Unknown couple in a tintype - from the 1850's, I'd guess by their costumes.

Documenting the American South is a splendid online collection of original texts and images about the the South from colonial times to the twentieth century.  Historical-minded folks like your Head Trucker can easily spend hours or days just browsing through the many and varied sources that, unlike Hollywood, give a true picture of my beautiful, tragic native land.

Yet the picture is not always a pretty one.  Here is an excerpt from a speech given by the learned - and often wry and witty - Walter McKenzie Clark, a Confederate veteran and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, to the Federation of Women's Clubs in New Bern, 1913.  In light of the then-raging controversy over giving women the right to vote, the Chief Justice surveys the history of laws subjugating women to men over the course of the centuries from the ancient Hebrews down to his own time, showing that marriage was always a changing, evolving institution - sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Along the way he has much to say about the conditions of marriage in his own state - all of which gives the lie to the idea that rightwing ranters are so fond of repeating, that "marriage has always and everywhere been the same." 

Naturally, the anti-equality voices in his day prophesied the ruin of the nation and the destruction of the family if women were allowed to vote - just as they had previously cried when women were given property rights, and before that when women were given access to higher education.  You see, fellas?  It's always the same old shit:  the world will come to a screeching halt, utterly collapse, if anybody is allowed to do anything even a hair different from the way Grandpa did it. Because what Grandpa did was the Will of God! Q. E. D.

Here's a relevant excerpt, but go read the whole speech if you have the time - it's a kicker.
The legal status of women under the common law may be briefly stated. It was simply that of a slave. A married woman under the common law owned no property, except after the death of her husband. She could make no contracts, not even for necessaries and not even with the consent of her husband. She could not will or devise her property. Upon her marriage the husband and the wife became one--and that one was the husband. He was master, the wife was a nonentity. The moment she married, he became entitled to all her personal property. He was entitled to the rents and profits of her real estate, which he could sell for his lifetime, or it could be sold for his debts. If she died, the husband still possessed the right to the rents and profits of all her realty for the rest of his life, while at his death she received only a child's part of his personalty and a life right, called a dower, in only one-third of his realty, and for a long time under North Carolina law she could be deprived of even this, for, if he chose, he could sell his realty without her consent and deprive her of dower. She could not appoint a guardian for her children even when she outlived her husband.

As to her personal rights, the married woman came under the absolute control of her husband, who could chastise her if he saw fit, provided the chastisement inflicted no permanent injury. The reason given for this by Judge Pearson as late as 1868 was that it was the husband's duty to "make the wife behave herself," and if he beat her without good cause it was held that the courts would not punish him, because it was too small a matter to take notice of, unless she was permanently injured. The reason seems to be worse than the decision. The husband had the right to imprison his wife, and if in her terror she was driven to take his life, she was guilty of petty treason, as was a slave who took the life of his master, and the penalty as to both was to be burned alive at the stake. This last law was not repealed in North Carolina till 1793, and even after the Revolution, in Iredell County [1787] a widow was thus "drawn and burned at the stake" for the murder of her husband. There were doubtless other cases if the records have not been destroyed by the lapse of time. This was the law in England for many centuries. . . .

If, conditions becoming intolerable, a wife left her husband, at common law he had the unquestioned right to bring her back by force, like any other runaway slave. About twenty years ago, in the famous "Clitheroe case," this was done, but the highest court in England, without any change by statute, reformed the common law and set the woman free. Old-fashioned lawyers were shocked, and asserted that this was the end of marriage; but the prophesied evil has not materialized. . . .

In this State, down to 1899, in at least two sections of our Code "married women, infants, idiots, lunatics, and convicts" were placed in the same category. Practically they have been more or less deemed in that category, in all respects, by decisions of the courts til these have been overruled by the Constitution or by legislative enactment.

A single woman was held fully capable of contracting and controlling her property. On marriage she instantly lost that capacity. The fact of marriage proved her in the eye of the law fit to be classed with idiots and lunatics. In view of the legal status of married women at that time, it may be that there was some force in the idea. . . .

N. B. - Using the very same metaphor, both Queen Victoria and Virginia Woolf - and two more dissimilar personalities can hardly be imagined - testify in their writings to the truth of what the learned jurist says - namely, that "women are but slaves to men."

Now you young'uns must not take that metaphor as a literal description in black and white:  the laws were what they were, but nevertheless, your great-great grandparents and those who came before them danced, flirted, courted, fell in love, married, made babies, and lived happily together most of the time.  Women were not beaten all day, every day, no more than slaves were; in fact most women were never beaten, women being regarded as the "weaker sex," and placed on a pedestal of respect - the "angel in the house," as the saying was. Decent people would have severely frowned on wifebeating as an unmanly act. Most of the time, people just got on with living and made the best of things, as we do today, even while hoping for more freedom and equality.

Then as now, it was just as true in most homes: "If mama's not happy, nobody's happy," as Chief Justice Clark humorously shows in his anecdotes about Lord Coke and his lady.

The horror, however, was not that these terrible things happened all the time to everybody, 24/7 - but that they could happen at any time to a wife, or a slave, depending on the whim of their husbands or masters, or on circumstances that caused a change in their condition.  Likewise, most gay people today have never been the victims of a gay-bashing; though of course we are all aware that it could happen, anywhere, anytime. And the history books record many instances in which injustices or terrible things did happen; so the need for change was not imaginary, as Chief Justice Clark so eloquently shows.

Your Head Trucker believes it's important to have a clear, realistic view of how life was really lived - neither too rosy nor too grim - if we want to truly understand the past, and thereby, understand our own time.

Oh, and about Victoria and Virginia - despite what they wrote, they both had happy marriages with devoted, loving husbands who supported their work.  But still, they felt the chafing inequality of the social system in which they lived.

Unknown male couple in a daguerrotype from the 1850's.

Spanking the Gay Away

Over at Box Turtle Bulletin, just read this deeply moving seven-part series, "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" on the case of a 5-year-old boy who was subjected to George Rekers' anti-gay therapy - something I wish all my truckbuddies would go check out.  Brings up a lot of thoughts and reflections for me, maybe it will for you, too.

Rekers, in case it's slipped your memory, is one of the big honchos in the conversion therapy movement, a founder of the Family Research Council and an officer of NARTH - and last year was photographed at Miami International after a European jaunt with a rent boy he hired to, um, "lift his luggage."

Kirk had learned that playing with girls’ toys in the clinic was a bad thing to do, but that lesson didn’t extend to the home. So the Murphy home became the scene for the next phase of Kirk’s therapy with Kaytee set up as Kirk’s primary therapist.

“And so then they set me up with the poker chip program,” Kaytee said, referring to a system of punishments and rewards devised by Dr. Lovaas and adapted by Rekers. Mark and Maris would simply remember it as “the chips,” and they always spoke of it with dread. “Well I didn’t know,” their mother sighed. “I trusted these professionals to know what they were doing, you know?”

She explained how it worked: “When Kirk would do something bad, or play with the doll instead of the train or the truck or whatever, he would get a red poker chip. If he picked up a helicopter or an airplane or did a boy thing, then he would get a blue chip. At the end of the day, I would deduct the red from the blue. And then however many blue chips there were, they told me to give him an M&M for each for a reward. And then I had to keep this all written down.”

They also put Mark on the chips even though he wasn’t under treatment. “I think we put Mark on it so that Kirk wouldn’t feel intimidated,” she said. “It was to show Kirk that big brother was on them too.” . . .

“If it (the study) was based on the numbers of chips,” Mark countered, “I screwed with those chips like you wouldn’t believe. I used to take some of his ‘whip it’ chips and put them in my pile.” As he said that, a note of pride crept in his voice. His reasons for doing this would prove to be the study’s fatal flaw: the terrible consequences of collecting too many red chips.

Mark took a deep breath and explained, “My goal was to take the beating for my brother.” Mark had long been accustomed to getting into trouble and being punished for it, and so he reasoned that he could take the beatings more easily than his younger brother. “I saw my brother’s whole back side bruised so badly one time, my dad should have gone to jail for it. Of course, he was somewhat carrying out instructions from the therapist. But my dad whipped my bare ass so many times before that, I figured I could take it. I mean that’s the way we got spanked. You dropped your pants, you bent over the bed, and he whipped your bottom with a belt.”

“My dad would come home, and every Friday we settled up with the chips. It was like ‘you go to your room; you go to your room’ and the whippings came on, it was over. And then we started with a clean slate.”

The chips became a system of terror. . . .

Update:  Just found this four-part video report by Anderson Cooper.

FDR Warns the Nation

Well, isn't this the fucking truth.

Honk to Americablog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Marriage Matters

Ron and Tom's story:

Edie and Thea's story:

Kelly and Dennis's story:

And though I can't find the video that used to be available on this, read Sam and Earl's story - a sort of real-life Brokeback Mountain, which ended with Sam losing the Oklahoma ranch they built together as well as being sued by the greedy relatives for 23 years' back rent for the years he spent living there with Earl.

And don't think all these things can't happen to you.

It did to me.

Proof of Evolution?

Historic news:  In advance of Congressional hearings on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that begin tomorrow, President Obama has announced his support for the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA).  Your Head Trucker thinks this may not be the actual missing link, but it sure is a big support to the theory of evolution - regarding the president's attitudes, anyway.

A little refresher course in the federal law for you:  DOMA was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, at a time when it was feared that the Supreme Court of Hawaii would legalize same-sex marriages in that state (which didn't happen).  Up until then (except for interracial couples; see below) states had generally recognized marriages validly contracted in another state, under the "full faith and credit" provisions of the U. S. Constitution.

DOMA did two things:  1) It specifically exempted states from having to recognize same-sex marriages entered into outside their borders, though individual states could allow such marriages; and 2) for all federal laws, rules, and regulations, it restricted the definition of marriage to one man and one woman.

The RMA will repeal both of these provisions, wiping DOMA off the statute books.  Thus, 1) there will be no federal law exempting states from recognizing same-sex marriages contracted elsewhere (some legal minds have already postulated that the exemption is unconstitutional); and 2) the federal government will recognize all marriages validly contracted where they were entered into, including those of same-sex couples.

The catch is:  RMA will not necessarily force states to recognize outside same-sex marriages if they don't want to.  The relevant parallel is interracial marriages, which for decades were recognized by some states and not recognized by others in a patchwork situation like the present laws on same-sex marriage, until the Supreme Court finally struck down all anti-miscegenation in the Loving v. Virginia ruling in 1967.  (And that was on equal protection grounds, not full faith and credit.)

What to expect then?  If RMA passes, a huge, noisy clamor about "states' rights" and "federal dictatorship," and a long march of court cases leading to the Supreme Court, eventually.  Remember that about three dozen states already have their own "mini-DOMA's" in the form of statutes and constitutional amendments forbidding same-sex marriages or the recognition thereof.

But still - it's a start.  And it is a Big Fucking Deal, to quote Joe Biden, because same-sex couples in states where it's allowed will indeed be recognized by the federal government for all the rights and benefits that any other married couples have, including taxes, insurance, pensions, immigration, and Social Security, to name but a few of the 1,138 federal rights and responsibilities of marriage.

So thank you very much, Mr. President, for having our backs on this momentous issue.

Buy this image on tee shirts and more at Damntees.

It Gets Better: Accountant, Judge, Marine

Some moving testimonies from the It Gets Better Project.  The first one particularly resonates with me; as I've blogged about, when I was in the middle of my college career, I thought I wanted to be a CPA, and Ernst & Ernst (as it was then known) was one of the major accounting firms that my university had an internship program with.  Like the guys and gals in this video, I too had a dream of making big bucks and even seeing the world by working at their overseas offices.  But it was not to be:  thirty-five years ago, I couldn't imagine how I would relate to my peers as the solitary (so I thought) queer in the corporate office, so I dropped out, and majored in something totally different. 

Which perhaps was for the best, after all; it allowed me to indulge my queer faggot homo expressive side a bit more than accounting ever would have. Still, it would have been better not to live in fear and isolation.  And to have a choice.

I also at various times thought quite seriously about becoming an attorney, like my father, and about joining the military, ditto.  But again, a large part of what held me back was the fear of being different, of not fitting in, of not measuring up - of being shunned, or bullied, or even beaten.  And I simply couldn't imagine - had no clue - that there could possibly have been others like me in the same fields, to pal around and find support with.  Videos like these might have made a profound difference in the direction my life's course followed.

All water under the bridge now.  But I'm so glad the young generation has more and better choices.

Ernst & Young employees:

Judge Angela Bradstreet:

Corporal Andrew Stevens, USMC:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Andrew Sullivan: To Love and Be Loved

Andrew Sullivan and Aaron Tone wed in Provincetown, Massachusetts,
on August 27, 2007.

Andrew Sullivan writes a powerful essay today about the meaning of marriage - for him, for us, for all Americans, gay or straight.  Do go read the whole thing.  Excerpt:

You can have as many debates about gay marriage as you want, and over the last 22 years of campaigning for it, I’ve had my share. You can debate theology, and the divide between church and state, the issue of procreation, the red herring of polygamy, and on and on. But what it all really comes down to is the primary institution of love. The small percentage of people who are gay or lesbian were born, as all humans are, with the capacity to love and the need to be loved. These things, above everything, are what make life worth living. And unlike every other minority, almost all of us grew up among and part of the majority, in families where the highest form of that love was between our parents in marriage. To feel you will never know that, never feel that, is to experience a deep psychic wound that takes years to recover from. It is to become psychologically homeless. Which is why, I think, the concept of “coming out” is not quite right. It should really be called “coming home.” . . .

But when I first set eyes on my husband, I knew I had lucked out. Some things you simply know. And when we finally got married, a few years later, and our mothers walked us down the makeshift garden aisle, and my sister gave the reading through tears, and one of our beagles howled through the vows, and my father put his arms around me and hugged, I did not hear civilization crumble. I felt a wound being healed. It is a rare privilege to spend your adult life fighting for a right that was first dismissed as a joke, only finally to achieve it in six states and Washington, D.C. But how much rarer to actually stumble upon someone who could make it a reality. And to have it happen to me in my own lifetime! This joy is compounded, deepened, solidified by the knowledge that somewhere, someone just like I was as a kid will be able to look to the future now and not see darkness—but the possibility of love and home. That, I realized, was really what I had been fighting for for two decades: to heal the child I had once been—and the countless children in the present and future whose future deserved, needed, begged for a model of commitment and responsibility and love. . . .

And in the years of struggle, as more and more heterosexuals joined us, we all began finally to see that this was not really about being gay. It was about being human.

Just like being gay is no longer necessarily about being an outsider. It is about being an American.

Tom Goss: Lover

Damn. This music vid just blew me away is all I can tell you, guys.

Honk to Americablog Gay.

Chely Wright: Wish Me Away

Chely Wright at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, 2010

When you're in hiding, you have nowhere to turn because nobody knows your secret, and when you're in pain, you can't reach out to anybody. . . .

I have a network now, whereas before I didn't have anybody. And that is the beautiful benefit of living in the light.

Country star Chely Wright came out - on the Today Show - last year, the first major country artist to do so.  Now a documentary about her journey out of the closet is winning awards at LGBT film festivals across the country, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

Boys, I can't tell you how fucking brave this gal is; you guys living the easy life up there in the blue state wonderland have no idea what kind of balls it took for her to come out to everybody and his brother down here in Bibleland. As a friend of Chely's says in the film:  "There's nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus."  I tell you what.

Chely now lives in New York City and is getting married on August 20 to LGBT activist Lauren Blitzer. The documentary will be released this fall. Some clips:

Chely tells the story of an interview on a country radio station:

You can order an autographed copy of Chely's autobiography, Like Me, at her official website.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Past and Future

"Secretly" - A Vintage Montage Of Guys Together from MJS on Vimeo.

Honk to Born This Way.

Honk to Joe.My.God.

Bishop Now Requires Gay Priests to Marry

Well if that headline doesn't knock your socks off, what will? Your Head Trucker is still trying to get his head around the fact that the Episcopal Bishop of Long Island, the Right Reverend Lawrence Provenzano, has given all gay and lesbian priests in his diocese nine months in which to marry or split up:
"I deem it to be honest and fair, and I do so direct and require, now that it is legal, that only married couples may live together, either in rectories or elsewhere as a clergy couple living in the midst of our faith community," wrote the bishop, who had earlier welcomed the new law's passage.

Provenzano told Episcopal News Service in a telephone interview July 11 that after he consulted with the leadership of the diocese "it was clear that the consensus of thinking was that there ought to be some time frame" on fulfilling his requirement. "If we left it completely open-ended, it might not be acted on" and that inaction would create a "disparity," he said, noting that he would not allow a heterosexual clergy couple to live together outside of marriage.

The bishop said he has not received any criticism from the gay and lesbian clergy of the diocese. "At least as it applies to the Diocese of Long Island, I don't think it's going to feel to anyone that I am being unpastoral or punitive in any way or creating a hardship for them by saying nine months," he said. "I suspect that most of our partnered gay and lesbian clergy have been living in committed relationships for a fairly long period of time and that the concept of being married is exactly what they've been waiting for to happen, so the church moving in this direction with them is welcomed."
Other Episcopal bishops in New York are still weighing the matter in discussions with clergy and laity, and have not set such a firm rule.  Presbyterians, Lutherans, and other denominations in states where same-sex marriages are permitted are also reconsidering their positions on church weddings or blessings of same-sex couples, clergy as well as laypeople.

Of course, some people still think we are "godless" whether we get married in church or not.  Gee, wouldn't it be interesting to hear the comments and ravings if interracial marriage were put up for a vote today - even now, in 2011?

"Stop the Race Mixing March of the Antichrist" -
segrationists demonstrate in Little Rock, 1957

cartoon gay marriage interracial marriage Pictures, Images and Photos

cartoon gay marriage interracial marriage Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gay Troops March at San Diego Pride

About 200 gay active-duty troops from every branch of the military said to hell with it and marched in the San Diego Pride parade today - probably the first time this has ever happened. Your Head Trucker admits that he couldn't help losing it over this little cellphone video. USA! USA! USA!

Update: Veteran gay reporter Rex Wockner counted more like 300 gay troops, and has another video of the march:

See still pictures of various non-military contingents over at his blog.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Edu  Boxer

Bear Week in Provincetown

Frank - I'm like, so totally jealous of New England now.


The Lavender Scare

Your Head Trucker believes it to be very important that we remember the past and deeply consider where we were just a few years ago, only half a lifetime.  People who don't remember the past are liable to be sucked under the wheels of the ever-turning hate machine that is always, always in the midst of the human race - and always in the human heart - let's not let that happen.

It was a time when a federal agency could send a memo like this to an employee - just before firing him, with no recourse, no appeal:

We have received a report concerning you. It has been reported that you had permitted a man to perform a homosexual act (fellatio) on you. Also, that you related that you find members of the male sex attractive; that you have been in bed with men; and that you have enjoyed embracing them. Is this report true?
New film:

And do take time to listen to the story of our grand old man, Frank Kameny, the first who ever took the government to court over gay rights, and the guy who invented the phrase "Gay is Good" (we should bring that back and use it more often):

You have to remember it was a very different period; kids and adults alike had it drilled into their heads that the homos were an active, terrifying danger to society, as this warning film from 1961 shows:

And so gays and lesbians were spied on, sent to reform school, expelled from college, fired from their jobs, beaten, arrested, imprisoned, confined in mental wards, lobotomized, and hounded to death for being evil queers: go read up on the Boise witch hunt in Idaho or the Johns Committee in Florida. To name but two.

All our gains have been very hard-won.  There are many among us who remember those days; and many an unknown soul, isolated and afraid, who did not survive the hatred and persecution.  Don't forget, is all I'm saying. 

Never forget.

More striking in his correspondence, however, is an almost magisterial serenity. He exhibits an unshakable and unmistakably American confidence that all the great and mighty, no matter their number or power, must bow to one weak man who has the Founders' promise on his side. "We are honorable people who deal with others honorably and in good faith," he insisted to the Un-American Activities Committee. "We expect to be dealt with in the same fashion -- especially by our governmental officials." There you hear the pipsqueak, indomitable voice of equality.

For Kameny's papers to join Thurgood Marshall's and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's, and for his signs to join Jefferson's writing desk and Lincoln's inkwell, seems fitting. All of those men understood that the words of 1776 set in motion a moral engine unlike any the world had ever seen; and all understood that the logic of equality could be delayed but not denied. Kameny, like them, believed that the Declaration of Independence means exactly what it says, and like them he made its promise his purpose.

My partner, Michael, and I are among the millions who owe some large measure of our happiness to Kameny's pursuits. This Thanksgiving found me grateful that one pariah fought back, never imagining he could fail; even more grateful to live in a country with a conscience; most grateful of all to know that there are generations of Franklin Kamenys yet to be born.

Rick Perry's Army of God

Oprah Winfrey is the Antichrist - or at least his BFF: you can tell by all the good deeds she does. Japan is cursed because the present Emperor is banging a sun goddess. The Statue of Liberty is a demonic symbol. And only certain Christians have a right to rule America.

And all this is coming soon to a holy nation near you, if Rick Perry has anything to do with it.

Its 14 minutes, but you really should watch this excellent presentation Rachel does on the raving Dominionist preachers who are lined up as the main demagogues for that prayer rally in Houston next month that Butthead Rick Perry, our governor, is heavily promoting:

And the District of Columbia has been renamed the "District of Christ" by this loon, who says, "I have more authority than the Congress does."

And this peckerwood says man-woman marriage is going to be outlawed now that gay marriage is here, and straight from hell:

And forget about Magna Carta and Parliament and a thousand years of British legal history: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States all came straight out of the Bible. Don't you remember from civics class?

It's not just a few isolated wingnuts. Texas and other red states are loaded with them, go read this excellent exposé in the progressive magazine Texas Observer. Excerpt:

On September 28, 2009, at 1:40 p.m., God’s messengers visited Rick Perry. . . . The two Texas pastors . . . told Perry of God’s grand plan for Texas. A chain of powerful prophecies had proclaimed that Texas was “The Prophet State,” anointed by God to lead the United States into revival and Godly government. And the governor would have a special role. . . .

At the end of their meeting, Perry asked the two pastors to pray over him. As the pastors would later recount, the Lord spoke prophetically as Schlueter laid his hands on Perry, their heads bowed before a painting of the Battle of the Alamo. Schlueter “declared over [Perry] that there was a leadership role beyond Texas and that Texas had a role beyond what people understand,” Long later told his congregation.

So you have to wonder: Is Rick Perry God’s man for president? . . .

The movement’s top prophets and apostles believe they have a direct line to God. Through them, they say, He communicates specific instructions and warnings. When mankind fails to heed the prophecies, the results can be catastrophic: earthquakes in Japan, terrorist attacks in New York, and economic collapse. On the other hand, they believe their God-given decrees have ended mad cow disease in Germany and produced rain in drought-stricken Texas.

Their beliefs can tend toward the bizarre. Some consider Freemasonry a “demonic stronghold” tantamount to witchcraft. The Democratic Party, one prominent member believes, is controlled by Jezebel and three lesser demons. Some prophets even claim to have seen demons at public meetings. They’ve taken biblical literalism to an extreme. In Texas, they engage in elaborate ceremonies involving branding irons, plumb lines and stakes inscribed with biblical passages driven into the earth of every Texas county.

If they simply professed unusual beliefs, movement leaders wouldn’t be remarkable. But what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take “dominion” over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the “Seven Mountains” of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an “army of God” to commandeer civilian government.

In Rick Perry, they may have found their vessel. And the interest appears to be mutual.

Honk to Right Wing Watch.
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