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.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Why Marriage Matters: Tim and Tony, Mary and Carol

Not content to rest on their laurels after the Supreme Court win in June, Olson and Boies are challenging Virginia's sweeping laws against all same-sex unions, not just marriage. The Advocate reports:
Ted Olson and David Boies, the bipartisan legal team who successfully argued Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop. 8 case, at the Supreme Court, have signed on to a pending federal case that aims to strike down Virginia's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the American Foundation for Equal Rights announced today.

The Virginia case, Bostic v. Rainey, was filed in the U.S. District Court for Virginia's Eastern District on behalf of two couples who contend that the Virginia Marriage Amendment, which prohibits gay and lesbian couples in Virginia from marrying, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. One of the couples, Timothy Bostic and Tony London, were denied a marriage license in July, while the secondary plaintiffs, Carol Schall and Mary Townley, married in California in 2008, have a 15-year-old daughter, and are asking Virginia to legally recognize their relationship.

The couples speak for themselves in these clips from AFER:






And Matt Baume reports on AFER's involvement in the case:





The Perfect Part

Oh, the spoiled, helpless children of this modern age.  They can't even part their damn hair without a gizmo to do it for them:



An operation which is already perfectly simple and easy with a straight comb - something your Head Trucker learned how to do merely from watching the barber do it, a hundred years ago when I was 15.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Straight Dude Learns the Real Meaning of Defriended

After attending his gay brother's wedding:




BTW, Your Head Trucker still finds it hard to believe that millions of straight guys are actually on our side now. But I guess it must be true. Hard to get my around that after all these many years, though. I remember all the abuse, and the scars still hurt.

Can the leopard change his spots? Really?

Sunday Drive: Time

I still like the young, unsophisticated Cher best - whom I had a totally-not-sexual crush on for years - my imaginary girlfriend in a time when I still thought I was supposed to have a real one.    Her songs from that era, and her voice, always spoke to my heart.  Still do.



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Love and Pasta for All!

I reckon you fellas have heard that the head of Barilla pasta really stepped into it this week.  Here's a legit ad response from a competitor in Germany:

click to enlarge

Gotta love it. But - who knew there was more than one company that made pasta? We're just not that into it down here in the provinces.  When I need noodles, I just buy the cheap store brand.

Bertolli also made a (somewhat strange) gay-themed video ad in 2009:





In other news: ExxonMobil to provide same-sex marriage benefits.  About damn time, it's been overruled at stockholders' meetings each year for the last sixteen years.

New Jersey Judge OK's Same-Sex Marriage

The New York Times reports:
A New Jersey judge ruled on Friday that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, saying that not doing so deprives them of rights that were guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court in June.

It is the first time a court has struck down a state’s refusal to legalize same-sex marriage as a direct result of the Supreme Court ruling, and with lawsuits pending in other states, it could presage other successful challenges across the country.

The decision was a rebuff to Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature last year that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry. His office said it would appeal to the state’s highest court. And he is likely to seek a stay preventing same-sex marriages from beginning on Oct. 21, as the judge ordered.




Fuck you, Christie. You coulda been a winner here, but you're just an opportunistic jerk.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

All right boys, it's time you peckerwoods got your minds out of the gutter and learned you some culture - like with this here little clip advertising the Masculine/Masculine exhibit currently on view over at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.  France, that is, not Texas.

And don't worry - there's enough, um, exhibited here to get your weekend started right. Use the full screen so you can catch all the details.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Better This Way


Here's your hairy bear fix for the day:  singer-songwriter Doug Strahm serves up this sweet story of true manlove from his debut album, Everything Has Changed:



You can download the album or any of its tracks via iTunes or Amazon at Doug's website. From his bio:
Born and raised in Fort Wayne, IN, Doug Strahm grew up in an Italian Catholic household knowing early in his life that he was different from what society expected. He began singing at the age of five to local neighbors for .25 cents a song.

Raised to march with the drum beat of family and social expectations, he married and fathered three children. At the age of 23, he divorced and gained full custody of his children – a 23 year old single father with two of his three toddlers still in diapers.

He spent his early years writing jingles and video commercials for local businesses while he owned and operated a critically acclaimed Italian restaurant. During this time he also was very involved with Nashville songwriting seminars, networking and writing with independent artists and publishers. Many doors would easily open for him when he would show up at A&R & publishing departments with lunch that he would prepare himself using recipes from his restaurant. A shameless bribe but it worked. ;-)

He continued to write, work his restaurant, do studio work, raise his children and fathered another son. Things changed later in life and after his last marriage, with full custody of his four children, he met the true love of his life. In October, he and his significant other will celebrate their 17th anniversary.

He holds his partner, Bruce, and his children very close. A proud father, he considers them his best friends and is a devoted family man.
Sweet.  They didn't make musicians like this in my day and time - or they certainly were never allowed to be out and proud.  This is the kind of artist we should be encouraging, guys. So go check out the other songs on the album and give Doug a chance. 

At least you know you want to see more of his hairy body here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 9/23/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:




Update, 9/26: Holy fuck, can you believe this?

George H.W. Bush is witness at same-sex marriage in Maine

"Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store" and longtime friends of the Bushes - The Washington Post, September 26, 2013.


Or this - from the official YouTube channel of the United States Department of Defense:




As Joe Jervis says, "Sometimes it feels like we've moved to a different planet."

You can say that again.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Queen is Born

Postcard depiction of the Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth

A charming little film from circa 1946 about the launch and early career of RMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest ship in the world when she was built:



I've never sailed on any ship, but I would love to have done so in the era when Britannia still ruled the waves. My father along with thousands of other G.I.'s returned from the war aboard the Queen Elizabeth, and somewhere among my things are a ship's newspaper and a metal candy tin with a cover very much like the picture at the top of this post, which my mother later used as a sewing box. Long gone, though, are the several hundred dollars he won off his buddies, playing craps all the way across the North Atlantic!

I also came across these Cunard menus and a cover - click to enlarge:

Menu cover, 1957, depicting two old English seadogs meeting in some exotic foreign port - Raleigh and Drake, perhaps?

Breakfast menu, 1950 - but who eats onion soup and cold ox tongue for breakfast?

Dinner menu, 1955 - by the way, the five-shilling bottles of wine
would be equivalent to about $8.65 today - believe it or not.
I wonder how big they were.

If you're interested, here's Part 3 of a documentary about the Cunard liners and others of the era, with some interviews of folks who were instrumental in their construction or operation - you can watch the whole 4 episodes on YouTube:







Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gaiety: What the Scientists Are Saying

Over at the NALT Christians Project channel on YouTube, co-founder Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has posted a fascinating series of short talks by scientists and medical researchers, giving us an update on what science now knows about your fabulousness. Here are three wide-ranging talks to get started with:










This last underscores what your Head Trucker has been saying for the last thirty years: the whole protective mother/distant father syndrome is not the cause, but the reaction to the kid's gayness.

Finally, science has caught up with me.  About damn time.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

First, can you pass the test?




Straight dudes, exit to the right for a screening of Girls Gone Wilder. Gay guys, please remain seated for a follow-up exam:



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Says Lay Off the Gays, God Is in Everybody


Whoa, this is big news, and a big breath of fresh air. Pope Francis, in an interview he granted last month to an Italian Jesuit magazine, says the Catholic Church needs to find a new balance. The New York Times reports:
Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.

In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” . . .

The new pope’s words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities. These teachings are “clear” to him as “a son of the church,” he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context. “The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” . . .

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he told Father Spadaro. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.” . . .

"I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God."

You can read the full interview in English at America magazine, a weekly Catholic journal.

In another story reported by the Huffington Post, a 25-year-old gay man from Toulouse, France, claims that the Pope called him on August 29 after receiving a letter the man wrote, telling of his experiences with bullying and self-doubt. The Pope supposedly said to him:
"I received the letter you sent me," he said. Then we talked about the situation in my life. He told me: "Your homosexuality, it does not matter. You must remain brave, you must continue to believe, to pray, and be good. "

He encouraged me to continue the volunteer work I mentioned in my letter. He encouraged me, told me to be strong. He told me this: "One way or another, we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good. We all return to God, and only God knows if we are good. "
A Vatican official later denied that the Pope had called the man, who nevertheless maintains that it was indeed the Pope who called him. But still, in your Head Trucker's opinion the story does seem very much in keeping with Francis's public expressions so far.


Update, 9/20:  On the CBS This Morning program, New York's homophobic Cardinal Dolan, full of porcine pep and cheer, says it was no biggie - the Pope was just talking about doing a makeover on the Church's PR strategy, 'cause the old one ain't pulling in the demographics like it used to.  I wonder . . . .



Why Marriage Can't Wait


It could happen to you:




The good news is, yesterday the U.S. Department of Labor announced that henceforth it will consider same-sex married couples, no matter where they live, as spouses under the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) - which concerns private pension plans and health insurance coverage:
"This decision represents a historic step toward equality for all American families, and I have directed the department's agency heads to ensure that they are implementing the decision in a way that provides maximum protection for workers and their families," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The department plans to issue additional guidance in the coming months as we continue to consult with the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to implement the decision."

"By providing greater clarity on how the Supreme Court's decision affects one of the laws we enforce, we are contributing to greater equality and greater protection for America's working families," said Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi.

EBSA protects the retirement, health and other workplace-related benefits of America's workers, retirees and their families. The agency oversees approximately 701,000 private sector retirement plans, 2.3 million health plans and other plans that provide benefits to more than 141 million Americans.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Auto-Lite on Parade

A 1940 offering that is a cut or two above the usual publicity film in artistry.  If you don't have the time or inclination to watch the whole show, be sure not to miss the concluding parade of products beginning at about the 19:35 mark - a stunning masterpiece of stop-motion photography, and a little bit trippy too.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Sister Eileen

I read the book once, many years ago, and now I've seen the movie - a lighthearted reflection of a simpler time.  Starring many names and faces you will recognize:  Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Bob Fosse, Dick York, Kurt Kasznar, and in a bit part, Richard Deacon.  (Two of these were gay - do you know which ones?)



Monday, September 16, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 9/16/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:




On the other hand, a Nobel-Prize aspirant at the University of Lagos in Nigeria has conclusively proven - with the use of bar magnets - that gay marriage is just totally wrong. And not only that, but two men can't be attracted to each other - it's a physical impossibility!

Well, that's it, I guess. You can't argue with physics. So read the scientific findings and straighten out your minds, boys!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Antikythera Mechanism

Them ol' Greek boys were a lot smarter than you ever thought. I tell you what.




Neighbors Sic Westboro on Wedding of Two Gay Veterans


Or at least they tried to. Via Huffington Post:
The Veterans Home in Chula Vista, San Diego, saw a historic moment on Thursday with its first gay wedding. WWII veteran John Banvard, 95, and Vietnam veteran Gerard Nadeau, 68, have been together for 20 years. They told Fox5 that they'd been waiting on the Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex unions in California before tying the knot.

"It was something we wanted to do for a long time," Banvard told ABC10.

The couple wanted to have the ceremony amongst friends, so on Thursday they were married outside the V.A. Home, where they've lived together for the last three and a half years. According to an ABC10 report, some of the residents who objected to a gay wedding notified Westboro Baptist Church who called in to protest to the V.A. Home.

"They used language I don't want to repeat," staff member Jim Karellas told ABC10.

But when time for the wedding came, none of the objecting residents and no one from the church came to protest, and the simple, yet historic, ceremony was only filled with love.
See the unembeddable video at the link, also the ABC10 news report here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend






Show and Tell

Your Head Trucker has been given to understand that these particular images are very popular on that Facebook thing now, which I suppose must be something like television, only with still pictures, maybe? Never have used it myself, and see no need for it, but these are worth a look:




 


 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Will You Marry Me - at Home Depot?

From the video description:
Dustin arrived at the Home Depot in Salt Lake City thinking he was there to help his roommate pick out some lighting for a party. When he was taken to the lumber aisle, what he found waiting for him was a mob of friends and family as his marriage proposal unfolded to the song, "Somebody Loves You" by Betty Who.



So this is the 21st century, oh my. Many things I could say about this, but I'm just going keep quiet and reach for a Kleenex.


Update, 9/13: Joe Jervis says the source of the video is the singer's publicist, which makes me wonder if this was a real proposal or merely staged for the cameras. I did wonder where all the other customers and employees were, didn't you?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Legacy of 9/11 and the Limits of American Power

Your Head Trucker very much admires the forthright clear-headedness of conservative Catholic, Vietnam veteran, retired U.S. Army colonel, and Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich, whose discussion of the Syrian crisis with Phil Donohue I posted last Sunday.  Here, in a highly pertinent clip from 2008, Bacevich incisively dissects the hubris and failure of the Bush response to 9/11, which continues to shape today's events in the Middle East and American foreign policy, even under President Obama:



Bacevich continues his provocative argument in this clip about his 2009 book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism:



If you are interested in hearing a fuller exposition of his views - and I wish every member of Congress and of the Obama Administration could be required to do so - you can watch this dialogue between Bacevich and Massachusetts School of Law Dean Lawrence Velvel:




For what it's worth, former KGB officer and Russian President Vladimir Putin has written about American exceptionalism too, in a New York Times op-ed that was published today - and though Putin's remarks, coming from a foreign head of state engaged in a diplomatic contest with our government, must be weighed on a different scale from those of Bacevich, it is perhaps instructive to compare the two points of view. A rhetorically adroit excerpt:
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.” . . .

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Notice how smoothly he has turned the tables on us, with the oblique reference to our founding philosophy in the Declaration of Independence. Putin's remarks may or may not be insincere, but they do offer a window into how we are perceived abroad - a corrective to our own admiring gaze in the mirror, perhaps.

And isn't that one of the big things we castigated Bush and his cronies for - being utterly indifferent, if not actually blind and deaf, to America's standing and reputation in the eyes of the world? Putin is not an entirely trustworthy writer, but there is much food for thought here, if the bright boys in Obama's West Wing can digest it.


Vince Gill Confronts Westboro

Country megastar Vince Gill, raised a good Baptist boy in the depths of Oklahoma, confronted picketers from Westboro Baptist Church (who are not really Baptists, but a single clan of fanatics) outside the Kauffman Center, his concert venue in Kansas City, Missouri, this past Sunday. The picketers were protesting at his concert because he and wife Amy Grant, another singing star, are "adulterers" according to the Bible. Via Towleroad:



Way to go, Vince! He's a good man.

Here are Gill and Grant discussing their initial friendship and later marriage in a Larry King interview from 2008:



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Obama's Address to the Nation about Syria



A transcript of the President's remarks is here.

Well, here are your Head Trucker's thoughts, just for the record:  the first two minutes were fine, with the President reviewing the use of poison gas since World War I and saying that the nations of the world have worked for a century to outlaw this terrible weapon of war.  Lofty ideas, noble thoughts.  All well and good.

ut from there, he seemed to tumble down one slippery slope after another, sliding on generalizations and doubletalk, vague claims and promises, and outright contradictions.  To wit, for example: "I've had letters from a number of citizens saying the United States shouldn't be the world's policeman, and I agree."  But then a few minutes later:  "For seventy years, the United States has enforced the rules of international law, and the world is a better place for that."  Um, so what exactly is the difference between a policeman and an enforcer, I wonder?  And also, what about all the debacles and destruction so carefully ignored by that far-reaching claim?  Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, and others we could name?

Another example:  "We are not going to try to remove a dictator, we already learned from Iraq that that's no good because then we are responsible for all that comes afterwards.  I am not going to put American boots on the ground.  We're just going to degrade Assad's ability to use chemical weapons."  But then:  "In response to some comments in Congress, this attack will not be a pinprick strike.  The United States military does not do pinpricks."  So WTF?  How big and how bad will it be, exactly?  What the hell will happen when the order to hit Syria goes out?  Why all this vagueness and obfuscation?

Another:  "Syria has no ability to attack our military.  And any other attacks that might happen, well we deal with those threats every day, anyway.  And our BFF Israel [which your Head Trucker has been thinking is the elephant in the room that Obama has never mentioned until this speech], well everybody knows they have the power to respond to any attacks with overwhelming force."  In other words, Syria can't possibly do anything to hurt us.  And yet:  "Even though there is no imminent or direct threat to the United States . . . I believe I have the power to order this strike in order to enforce international law and protect our own children from being gassed like those poor Syrian kids."  What the holy fuck???

In other words, boys, as much as I want to support this president - and I do believe his fundamental motive of stopping an outlaw use of chemical weapons is sincere - I am hearing nothing but the same old bureaucratic doubletalk that has been used every fucking time before, when this country has muscled in where it shouldn't have gone.

And on top of all that - What exactly was the point of this speech?  What was his point, what was he asking us citizens, or anyone, to do?  The first three-fourths of the speech sounded like it might have been written last week - not until towards the end did he get around to mentioning that, oh yeah, somebody has a crazy idea for a diplomatic solution here, so I've been chatting with my bud Putin about that - we'll see where it goes, and I've asked Congress to chill on voting for anything until I know more.  Then I'll let 'em know.

And so your point is, Mr. President?  Why have you just been talking at us for 15 minutes, then?  What kind of idée fixe is this, which you just keep repeating and repeating?

Something is just not right here. I am vividly reminded of a brilliant aphorism that I heard Judge Judy say once: If it doesn't make sense, it's not true.

Continued after the jump . . .

Marriage News Watch, 9/6/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:




Update: Hawaii Governor Neil Abercombie has called a special session of the Legislature to convene on October 28 to pass a same-sex marriage bill; the governor believes there are enough votes in both the Senate and the House to pass the measure, which would come into effect in mid-November.

Same-sex marriage in the United States was first given serious legal consideration by the Hawaii Supreme Court in 1993, causing conservatives to react with horror in many other states around the country and in Congress, eventually leading to the passage of the federal Defense of Marriage Act three years later, followed by numerous state bans.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Andrew Bacevich: It's Not about Syria, Mr. President

I never heard of Bacevich before now, but I like very much what he says.  Do make time today to listen to the whole lucid, plain-spoken interview, which covers much important ground besides Syria. Or read the transcript.



Okay, your Head Trucker is now officially opposed to this Syrian strike. But where are the marchers, the demonstrators, the protesters against the war? Does anybody care? 

Honk to Wounded Bird.


Update, 6:20 p.m.:  A lot has happened today - Kerry, speaking to reporters in London, made an offhand, strictly hypothetical remark that if Syria surrendered all its chemical weapons to international control, the strike would be called off. Well, in no time at all, Syria and Russia and the Secretary-General of the UN and even Hillary Clinton had all signed on to that idea, which seems a miraculous solution to the impasse.

Later in the day, the President gave interviews to six American news anchors and seemed to like the idea too - if it can be done, and verified.  He also said he's already been talking to Putin about it.  Here is the President speaking with Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour:



The President will address the nation tomorrow at 9 p.m., EDT. 

Meanwhile, as the Senate and House take up debate on the issue this week, a CBS/New York Times poll shows that 6 out of 10 Americans oppose a military strike on Syria; and a CNN poll shows 7 out of 10 would oppose a military strike if Congress votes against it, with the same number believing that such a strike is not in the national interest of the United States.

United Nations inspectors who went to Syria in the wake of the gas attack are expected to present their report later this week.


What I Say: Your Head Trucker understands the President's reasons for striking Syria, as he states them in the interview, and his sincerity is evident. But as history has shown times without number, it is quite possible to be nobly motivated and perfectly sincere - and still be dead wrong.

From all I have seen and heard and read this past week, I cannot believe that this supposedly "unbelievably small" strike, as Kerry foolishly put it earlier today, earning deserved mockery from John McCain, will accomplish what the President's military advisors tell him it will. It is the wrong thing to do, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the face of all the world's opposition, very nearly.

Let's all pray that Kerry's other gaffe this morning bears fruit, and quickly; and as you see, all the diplomatic possibilities have not been exhausted, as the White House has been saying hitherto, so this golden opportunity should be seized. Otherwise, I can forsee nothing but evil consequences from the President's strike plan, however well-intentioned it may be.

And I just know that somewhere in Dallas, W is rocking back, laughing his ass off, and so are Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Drive: Cops of the World

You really need to listen to this very pertinent song from the album Phil Ochs in Concert, 1966:



Why does this song still sound so relevant, nearly fifty years on?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

LGBTQrstuv

Dr. John Corvino is chair of the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University in Detroit and the author of several books, including What's Wrong with Homosexuality?



Friday, September 6, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

First, just for fun:




And here's some serious weekend material. Your old-fashioned Head Trucker got more enjoyment out of it by muting the godawful soundtrack, but your mileage may vary:



P.S. - The first guy in this vid after the title would totally satisfy my weekend needs. He appears again at 2:52. I call dibs on him both times - you guys can parcel out the rest among yourselves.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria: "It's Simply Not Our Problem"

Outspoken Congressman (D.-Fla.) Alan Grayson came out strongly against a Syrian strike on the PBS NewsHour today:




From the Washington Post, here's the latest count, as of 6 p.m. today, of Senators and Representatives - click to enlarge:



It's very curious, isn't it fellas, that many more Republicans than Democrats are opposed to this military strike, even though perennial-hawk Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham ("who never saw a country they weren't tempted to bomb"), as well as House Speaker John Boehner and others in the Republican leadership, are all in favor of it. Can it really be that the party of "Shock and Awe" is opposed to this act of war just because Obama thought of it first?

Your Head Trucker is still unsure, by the way, of the best course of action; but he is certain there is no good one.

And before all you boys rush over to sign the petition at dontattacksyria.com, please be sure to read this short piece by Steve Coll in this week's New Yorker, "Crossing the Line" - excerpt:
Saddam first used gas bombs [in 1987] to thwart Iran’s zealous swarms of “human wave” infantry. Chemical terror broke the will of young Iranian volunteers, a lesson that informed Majid’s subsequent Kurdish campaign. The Reagan Administration’s decision to tolerate Saddam’s depravities proved to be a colossal moral failure and strategic mistake; it encouraged Saddam’s aggression and internal repression, and it allowed Iraq to demonstrate to future dictators the tactical value of chemical warfare.

The consequences of similar passivity in Syria now are unknowable. After more than two years and a hundred thousand deaths, the war has descended into a miasma of kidnappings, executions, and indiscriminate attacks. It would not be surprising if Assad or his henchmen seized upon selective gassings as a way to break the opposition’s will, or to flush rebels from strategic neighborhoods. Obama has said that his aim in Syria is to prevent more gassings, not to overthrow Assad. Since the costs of even a limited Western military intervention in Syria might be very high, in diplomatic standing and in lives, it is reasonable to ask whether the cause of punishing and deterring the use of chemical weapons is worth the risks. . . .

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that the number of Syrians who have fled their war-torn country has now topped 2 million. That's a tenth of the Syrian population, says the Pew Research Center, and half of them are children.



For more videos and interviews with refugees, see The Guardian's coverage here.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From Russia with Love


 

 

 


Okay, this story and these pictures just made your Head Trucker lose it, totally. Groups of gays and lesbians and the rest of the LGBT community gathered quietly all across the vast extent of Russia yesterday, from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, to take pictures and thank the world for its moral support as the Putin government grinds down upon them. Stop whatever you are doing right now and go scroll down the page at Americablog, and look at those signs and those faces.

Event coordinator Natalia Tsymbalova explains in a Facebook message:
We, Russian LGBT people and their allies, would like to thank all the people around the world who support us and express their concern about the events in our country in hope of making a difference and pulling Russia out of a tightening medieval darkness.

To show that global support and solidarity are very important for all of us, we organized in response an acknowledgment action "From Russia with Love."

We did not plan this flashmob as an action to attract public attention. It was a friendly get-together to make a photo-shoot in the open. Our posters did not carry political information: we just wrote words of gratitude without even indicating to whom and for what: those who we are sending our smiles and thanks to, will understand it anyway.

Despite police’s nervous attention and a few attempts to disrupt us, we are glad that we were able to finish our action and send our friends abroad our deepest gratitude – this is the least we can do now. Thank you for your support and solidarity! Spasibo!
A tightening medieval darkness, exactly. And all of our gay brothers and sisters there are trapped like rats - as surely as the Jews were in Nazi Germany. 

The Jews in Germany and other Western countries at that time had enjoyed full civil rights and political equality for a century or more - but nobody went to war to save the Jews, or lifted a finger to stop the persecution of them.  Most countries, including our own, even refused to take as refugees the few Jews who could get out of Germany before the war started.

And nobody will go to war to save the gays, if it comes to that. No, they are trapped and completely at the mercy of their own dictatorial government and fanatical neighbors - whipped into a frenzy of hate by American evangelists who have toured around Russia, spreading every possible lie and stirring up violence.

You can protest and boycott all you want - but what concrete good will any of it do, really?   History, including our own recent American history, has shown time after time that governments set upon a certain course of action simply don't care what happens in piddling little demonstrations in other lands, or even in their own, which are easily enough dispersed and ignored.

What terrible things may befall our gay brothers and sisters as the shadows fall, I can hardly bear to think. It breaks my heart.  And yet there they are in these lovely snapshots, framed forever in sunlight and tranquility, smiling at us, heads yet held high with hope - bearing witness to the world.

God bless them.




Dan Savage Starts the NALT Christians Project


From the project's website:
The purpose of the NALT Christians Project is to give LGBT-affirming Christians a means of proclaiming to the world—and especially to young gay people—their belief and conviction that there is nothing anti-biblical or at all inherently sinful about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.



NALT Christians Project Co-founder John Shore, progressive Christian writer and activist:
For much too long now, anti-LGBT Christians have used the Bible and the pulpit to bully, malign, and shame LGBT people. And not enough LGBT-affirming Christians have stood up to boldly and clearly say how terribly wrong that is—to say that’s not what Christianity is, that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality, that ”Christian” leaders like Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher do not speak for us.

It’s time for us true NALT Christians—the ones who genuinely aren’t like that—to speak up and be heard, to affirm LGBT people as loudly and clearly as anti-LGBT Christians condemn them. We must stand up for young LGBT people, who are so vulnerable to feeling worthless and shunned. We must eradicate the culturally inculcated moral underpinnings that serves to support such bullying. And we must bring to the fore a renewed Christianity that, instead of standing for anti-gay bigotry, stands for the integrity and love that Jesus Christ himself so radically stood for.
Wayne Besen and Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out are also co-founders of the project. 

Dan's It Gets Better Project was and remains wildly successful, receiving thousands of video contributions from around the world, including many prominent people in politics, sports, and the arts. It will be interesting to see if this new project generates a similar response among "nice" heterosexual Christians.

Watch more videos or get your straight friends and family to contribute one here.


P.S. - Your Head Trucker devoted much study to the topic over a period of many years, and cannot conclude otherwise than that the Bible does indeed condemn homosexuality in both the old and the new testaments. People who say different, even so-called experts, are playing fast and loose with the facts of history, culture, and language, in my considered opinion.

But the Bible - which of course is not one single book but a collection, a library, of 66 different books (73 if you're Catholic) written by nearly that many different writers over a period of more than a thousand years - the Bible in one place or another also commands genocide, forced marriage, the execution of promiscuous girls and rebellious boys, group stonings, and slavery - not to mention the utter subjection of women to their husbands. The Bible is a product of the straight men who wrote it for other straight men to read - which is to say, a product of the solidly patriarchal, virulently homophobic Hebraic culture in which its various parts were written.

You remember those sickening pictures of Iranian teenagers being publicly hanged for being homosexual?  Well, that's just what the ancient Hebrew society that produced the Bible was like.

The Bible is simply wrong about homosexuality, as it is about those other things I just mentioned, and more besides. Yet in other places, the Bible contains some of the highest, best thoughts and precepts of mankind in its long search for the meaning of life and the divine nature. The fact is, the Bible - rather like the Internet, it occurs to me - is a very mixed bag, which must be read with care, and interpreted with caution, based upon deep and wide learning.

But of course, the vast majority of folks won't take the time or trouble to do that.  In the meantime, here's all you really need to know from the Bible - presented as a public service by your Head Trucker:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
 
 
 
See also the second half of the 25th chapter of Matthew for your quick-and-easy roadmap to Heaven.  Free gate pass included. 

You're welcome.

 

Marriage News Watch, 9/3/13

Matt Baum of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:




While the news from New Mexico is welcome, it's a pity Matt didn't give the IRS ruling more attention - it's a more momentous turn of events, and will affect millions of couples all across the country.


Update, 9/4: Via Joe.My.God.:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that President Obama has directed the Executive Branch to take steps allowing for same-sex spouses of military veterans to collect federal benefits. The new policy means that the administration will no longer enforce statutory language governing the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) that restricts the awarding of spousal benefits to opposite-sex marriages only. The language, contained within Title 38 of the U.S. Code, has, until now, prevented the Executive Branch from providing spousal benefits to veterans—and in some instances active-duty service members and reservists—who are in same-sex marriages recognized under state law.

Another update, 9/4: The number of New Mexico counties issuing or about to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is now up to eight.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Australian PM Defends Same-Sex Marriage

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, now in the middle of an election campaign for Australia's parliament, gives a rousing rebuke to a Christian pastor and radio show host on the issue of his support for same-sex marriage, which he says is based on years of reflection and "in good Christian conscience," saying:
I do not believe people choose their sexuality; they are gay if they are born gay.  It is how people are built, and therefore the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is wrong . . . .  If you accept it is natural and normal to be gay, then it follows from that . . . people should not be denied the opportunity for legal recognition . . . of their relationship.



Rudd was raised Catholic and attends Anglican services with his wife, but has never formally renounced Catholicism. Liberal Party opposition leader Tony Abbott, a staunch Catholic, believes marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman. Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, an atheist, ousted by Rudd in a Labor party revolt last June, also firmly opposed same-sex marriage.

Parliament rejected a same-sex marriage bill by large majorities in 2012, but Rudd has promised, if a Labor government is returned to Parliament, to introduce a new same-sex marriage bill within the first hundred days. The election will be held on September 7.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Define Me




Honk to Reluctant Rebel.

Sunday Drive: Peace Prayer

Also called the Prayer of St. Francis.  The video itself is mediocre and mawkish in places, but for me, no one can match the moving sincerity of John Michael Talbot's rendition.



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