Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Will The Mighty Bob Casey Do?

Some Democratic Senators have decided to walk in the true light of justice. Why?  Either they have truly looked into their hearts and have seen the way forward or they have seen polls that tell them it is better to be pro rather than con.

Either way I welcome this latest rush of announcements from Democratic, mostly moderate to conservative Senators in support of marriage equality.

But where is my Democratic Senator?

I certainly have no expectations that my Republican Senator (and former Allentown bar owner & high paid lobbyist) Pat Toomey would ever betray his rigid, extremist, right wing ideology and stand up for truth, justice and the American way.

My Democratic Senator Bob Casey has been a pretty descent "left of center" Senator.  He votes the right way on many of the issues that I care about both economic & cultural.  He has been OK on the "gay" stuff - closer to Chuck Schumer than to Orin Hatch.

Having watched Senator Casey and the entire Casey family for years I have found that they are not politically expedient people, they do not seem poll driven and I believe they always try to do what is right.  I may not always agree with the stands on issues like Women's choice or gun restrictions but I think his and for that matter his father's views come from a genuine place and their deeply held beliefs.

He is struggling with the marriage equality issue, he is in favor of Civil Unions, which I was too as long as they were recognized with the same rights and privileges as marriage both at the state and federal levels.

I think Sen. Casey wants to do the right thing but he is devoutly Catholic and opposing his church does not come easy to someone named Casey from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

So when The Mighty Casey comes to the plate on the issue Marriage Equality will he strike out or will he hit a home run for justice and equality?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I Want To Hope But Should I?

If Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill believes her political career is safe enough to come out in support of marriage equality then maybe just maybe my guy will be able to make an honest man of me before I die.

Am I too hopeful?

Am I wrong to not trust this Supreme Court to act in the best interest of justice?

I am prepared for the worst.

But, I am really hoping for the best.

But, Clarence Thomas has a vote and we all know if he votes the wrong way his wife will make his life miserable.

But if Clarence Thomas was a liberal and his wife was a liberal there would be calls for impeachment but because his wife is a tea bagger Congress is silent.

I hate not knowing whether I am acceptable or not.

Can you relate?

In Today's New York Times; Scott Fujita Lends His Support

From Today's New York Times:
Mr. Fujita is a NFL Linebacker currently with the Cleveland Browns.

Acceptance by Example, on the Field and at Home

My three young daughters, like most kids, are curious and ask a lot of questions. My wife and I are as open and honest with them as possible. But there’s one question I’m not prepared to answer: “Why aren’t Clare and Lesa married?”

I don’t know how to explain to them what “inferior” means or why their country treats our friends as such. I don’t want to tell them that “Yes, our friends love each other just like Mommy and Daddy love each other, but that their love is considered ‘less than.’ ”

As my girls grow up, they will learn about a few of the more embarrassing moments in our nation’s history. And I expect they’ll ask questions. But for the most part, I’ll be prepared to respond because I can point to the progress that followed.

They will learn that their great-grandmother Lillie delivered a son, their Grandpa Rod, in a Japanese-American relocation camp during World War II. Initially, they might be shocked that this is part of America’s past. But I’ll be able to tell them, ”I think a lesson was learned from that experience, and it won’t happen again.”

They will learn that couples of different races, like their grandparents, were once denied the right to marry. But at least I’ll be able to say, “Thanks to a Virginia couple named Richard and Mildred Loving, things are better now.”

At some point, they will hear the term “separate but equal,” and will learn there was a time when their father would not have been able to go to the same school or sit in the same restaurant with many of the same friends that he now shares an N.F.L. locker room with. But then I can say to them, “That was a long time ago, and look how far we’ve come.”

I anticipate us having similar conversations about women’s suffrage or Rosa Parks. And each time, I’ll be able to say that this country moved toward progress. Sometimes, change is slow, but when we know better, we do better.

Sometimes, people ask me what any of this has to do with football. Some think football players like me should just keep our mouths shut and focus on the game. But we’re people first, and football players a distant second. Football is a big part of what we do, but a very small part of who we are. And historically, sports figures like Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King and Muhammad Ali have been powerful agents for social change. That’s why the messages athletes send — including the way they treat others and the words they use — can influence many people, especially children.

Believe it or not, conversations about issues like gay marriage take place in locker rooms every day. In many respects, the football locker room is a microcosm of society. While there is certainly an element of bravado in our sport, football players are not the meatheads many think we are. For some of my friends who raise personal objections to marriage equality, they still recognize the importance of being accepting. And many of them also recognize that regardless of what they choose to believe or practice at home or at their church, that doesn’t give them the right to discriminate. I am encouraged by how I’ve seen such conversations evolve.

Recently, I heard someone say: “You can legislate tolerance, but you can’t legislate acceptance. That takes a societal shift.” Such transformation requires more than just common sense. It takes love, understanding and time. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. I agree with the lower courts that said Proposition 8 violated the constitutional rights of gay men and women without any evidence-based rationale for doing so, and I, along with other professional athletes, signed my name to a brief sent to the court stressing the importance of marriage equality. Now the Supreme Court — like a referee in a football game — has the opportunity to simply enforce the rules as written. And I’m confident the justices will.

I support marriage equality for so many reasons: my father’s experience in an internment camp and the racial intolerance his family experienced during and after the war, the gay friends I have who are really not all that different from me, and also because of a story I read a few years back about a woman who was denied the right to visit her partner of 15 years when she was stuck in a hospital bed.

My belief is rooted in a childhood nurtured by a Christian message of love, compassion and acceptance. It’s grounded in the fact that I was adopted and know there are thousands of children institutionalized in various foster programs, in desperate need of permanent, safe and loving homes, but living in states that refuse to allow unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, to adopt because they consider them not fit to be parents.

In articulating all my feelings about marriage equality, I almost don’t know where to begin. And perhaps that’s part of the problem. Why do we have to explain ourselves when it comes to issues of fairness and equality? Why is common sense not enough?

Years ago, my wife and I became friendly with a young woman whose teenage brother committed suicide after coming out to an unsuspecting and unsupportive father. This woman explained that her father was a football guy, a “man’s man” — whatever that means. She challenged me to speak up for her lost brother because, as she said, the only way to change the heart and mind of someone like her father was for him to hear that people he admires would embrace someone like his son.

I hope that soon after Tuesday’s arguments in front of the Supreme Court, people like me won’t have to speak up for those sons or daughters. No one owns the definition of love. It comes in all shapes and sizes. As Toni Morrison wrote, “Definitions belong to the definer, not the defined.” One thing I know for certain is that you can’t put a face on love, and you can’t tell me what a family is supposed to look like.

I recently received a message from a friend who has been in a committed relationship with her partner for eight years: “Pretty much my entire adult life I’ve always felt like I should settle for not having similar rights because I’m old enough to see how far we’ve come. I’ve grown accustomed to it. But I so hope it changes for the next generation because I hate to think that because they love, they should feel ‘less than.’ ”

I don’t ever want to explain to my daughters that some “versions” of love are viewed as “less than” others. I’m not prepared to answer that kind of question.

Instead, in just a few short years, and in the same way we now sometimes ask the previous generation, I hope my daughters will ask me: “What was all the fuss about back then?” I’m looking forward to hearing that question.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Two Years? Really?

Conservative Republican US Senator Rob Portman has come out in favor of marriage equality.  The reason; his son is gay.

Very nice, he loves and accepts his son.

His son came out to him two years ago.

It has taken Sen. Portman two years to decide that his son, whom he claims he has never stopped loving, is entitled to the full rights and privileges of citizenship.

I am trying not to be too negative about this and I welcome Sen. Portman's support on this issue but really two years?

My coming out to my family was easy and that was 30 years ago so perhaps I am spoiled by never having experienced the trauma that clearly Sen. Portman went through.

A few years after I came out the son of one of my father's best friends since childhood came out and the man who I always have and still do refer to as Uncle really struggled with it.  When Uncle reached out to Dad Flad to discuss the issue my father had a simple response.

"Either you love your children or you don't"

So, I welcome Mr. Portman to side of justice and freedom but really it took two years of soul searching to decide whether he loved his child enough to change a political position.

Oy!  I am not here to judge but ya gotta wonder how or why these conservatives are so screwed up.

Note:  Please stop using the term "Gay Marriage" there is nothing especially "gay" about it.  It is just marriage nothing more nothing less.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Part Two: Gay Jokes are funny!

Some don't get the point of my last post or think that I was in some way offended personally or had my feelings hurt let me clear some things up. (Note: Responses were not made as comments here but to me personally via other forums)

I do not offend easily and my feeling don't get hurt on a regular basis.  I am old enough and overcame my childhood of being bullied to develop a pretty thick skin.

I can find humor in just about anything - read my twitter feed - very little is sacred.

 This isn't about me it is about the impact of mocking Gay people, it is about causing hurt and damage to a portion of our community.

John Kennedy spoke about "A rising tide lifts all boats".  Gay slurs; especially those told by non gay people under the pretext of humor do just the opposite of the rising tide; they diminishes the entire community.

Making a fudge packer joke doesn't make you witty, clever or terribly funny; it makes you a bigot and a bully.

Double standard alert:  I can make a fudge packer joke - I'm allowed to because well I am or have ... err um - well never mind that. I'm gay so I can.  But, I choose not too.

It has been reported that 71.3% of LGBT students hear a gay slur on a regular if not daily basis. Words are important, words have an impact and words can lift us up or words can bring us down.

Calling something GAY that you think is stupid or lame is very hurtful to the esteem of those people still coming to terms with their true self and it empowers those people who seek to hurt and suppress those very same people.

I think I have beaten this should be dead horse enough.

There is another reason I was provoked to come out of my self imposed blog silence.

Jobs!  yes Jobs.

An entrepreneur, a small business person, a person who has offered up his/her energy, ideas and personal fortune to open a business that will create jobs is being mocked and his/her personal commitment to our community and to our economy is being diminished by the mocking and the slurs.

The person opening this establishment is going to hire electricians, carpenters, plumbers, craft people and general laborers before the business opens.  He/she is going to hire servers cooks, bar staff, cleaning crew, marketing people and of course security people.  His/her efforts should be encouraged and embraced and not mocked.  (The comment on the my previous post defending the blog post I referenced conveniently neglects to mention the writers demeaning suggestions for the name of the new establishment.)

The last time I was at the Stonewall (the most prominent of local gay bars) there were at least 2 uniformed police officers stationed outside the club, they were there to protect the patrons from the very same people who think using gay slurs is acceptable or those people who are emboldened by the people think nothing of using gay slurs.  The  salary for these police is paid for by the owners of the bar.  Money that could have been spent on other things inside the business.  Money diverted from improvements or enhancements, but the owners needed to protect the entrance of the building.   As we left and once we crossed the street we were on our own and as we turned the corner to the parking lot we were sounded by young people all calling us names and asking us disgusting questions.  They used many of the same slurs used in the blog post I mentioned last time and by the comments to that blog.

The owner of this new establishment is going to have to cut costs elsewhere in order to afford enhanced live security and a security system that will have to cover a wider range of issues than if he/she was opening a seafood house.

A new business in this economy should be welcomed it should not be mocked and called hateful and hurtful names.  Words matter.