Honoring Matthew Shepard

There is some excellent news out of the Senate today.  Yesterday, the Senate voted to extend Federal hate crime laws so they will protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual and disabled Americans.  Previous laws only covered people who were attacked based on skin color, gender, national origin or religion.

Read all about it:

Senate Votes for Expanded Federal Authority to Prosecute Hate Crimes

The bill is named after Matthew Shepard, the young man from Wyoming who was tied to a fence, beaten and left to die in 1998.  I cannot think of a better way to honor his memory than to extend hate crime laws to include the GLBT community.

Of course, President Bush has indicated he will veto the bill when it gets to his desk.



An Old Fashioned Sit-In

 Some news out of Denver:

Same-sex couple to stage sit-in for marriage license

That’s right!  An old fashioned sit-in.  Will more join Burns and Schroeder?  We can only hope so.  Will it make a difference?  We can only hope so.

I’ll keep an eye on this story and post updates if anything happens.

UPDATED 9/25/07: 6:24 PM

Well, something happened.  As I’m sure most people suspected, the couple was arrested.  Read all about it:

Same-sex couple arrested after marriage attempt

No surprise here.  In order to commit civil disobedience you have to break the law and be willing to accept the punishment.  Martin Luther King, Jr. did this in Birmingham’s jail.  With any luck, Burns and Schroeder’s story will have a happy ending.


Oh, Come On, Part Two!

Really?  I mean really?  Oh, just check it out for yourself:

Hillary Clinton: I’m not a lesbian

Will someone explain to me in what universe this is a necessary and appropriate question to ask Senator Clinton? 

Maybe I’m rushing to judgement here.  Maybe this is a serious question.  Maybe I have serious questions.

Yes, in the name of democracy, for the safety of our nation and for the love of mom’s apple pie, I want answers to the following questions:

Is English really George Bush’s first language?

Is Mitt Romney’s tan real or sprayed on?

Is Rudy Giuliani a goblin?

How old exactly is John McCain?

Is Fred Thompson a real person or a Hollywood invention?

And are these people from Mars?

Republican Candidates Don’t Believe in Evolution” posted by BlissfulKnowledge

UPDATED 9/24/07: 3:34 PM

This thread has been picked up on a discussion board.  Check it out:

I Am NOT A Lesbian


Pride and Shame in Northwest Ohio

A couple news reports from my very own neck of the woods: Toledo, Ohio.  One makes me very happy and proud to be from the Northwest tip of the Buckeye State.  The other shows me once again that things are not perfect here.  But first, the pride:

Arabic schools gain foothold in the region

I’m somehow not at all surprised that there was great demand for Arabic schools in Toledo.  I was always surrounded by Arab Americans and immigrants, especially during my college years at the University of Toledo.  Thanks to a couple poetry and film courses at UT, I met a young Palestinian woman who became a wonderful friend at the end of my undergraduate years.  The Middle Eastern restaurants have been incredibly successful in Toledo, thanks to Toledoans’ love of food and the fact that Middle Eastern food is fabulous.

And this sounds like a great school.  If I had children (or planned to ever have children), this would be one of the few schools I would feel comfortable sending my child to.  Well done, Toledo.  Well done.

But why am I not surprised that there are people opposed to such a school?  One of the (many) great challenges of this generation will be to overcome the negative sterotypes and downright racism that exists in regard to Middle Eastern folks.  I pray and hope for my nation.

Which is a good segue into the shame:

Former Gillmor aide won’t seek vacancy

I don’t know anything about the politics of Wood County commissioner Tim Brown other than that he is a Republican from a heavily Republican district.  I don’t know if he had a chance of winning and I don’t know if I would have been happy about him winning.  But I find this news story really sad for two reasons. 

First, the fact that he was outed by a blog, to me, seems viscious and unnecessary.  But it is pretty emblematic of how politics is run these days.  The negativity of contemporary political campaigns is not, in my humble opinion, good for our nation or our democracy. 

Nor is pushing people out simply because they are gay.  I don’t want to come down too hard on the Republicans here because I don’t have the evidence to prove that a Democratic candidate who is gay wouldn’t bow out if he or she were outed.  Still, I think I feel comfortable making the assumption that the Republican party is far more homophobic than the Democratic party.  And it is their loss as they push people out of public office who have,  either voluntarily or by force,  come out of the closet. 

I keep hoping something will change in this country.  I keep hoping people will get a clue about this issue.  But, at least we can take to heart what Melissa Etheridge said in 2004 when so many same sex marriage bans were passed.  She told the audience at the GLAAD awards to look at the positives of the 2004 election.  Yes, many states voted for discrimination.  But in order to make that vote — in order to stand in the booth, look at the issue and make a choice on it — they had to think about it.  They had to acknowledge that the gay community exists. 

For Etheridge, that is a step forward.  And in a way it is.  I just hope we have more dramatic steps forward soon.


Oh, Come on!

I haven’t written anything about the controversy surrounding Senator Craig, partly because I have very little to add to this conversation.  If he is gay, then I feel bad for him because, clearly, our heterocentric social system, especially the hateful version of it that is deeply established in middle America, has caused incredible turmoil within his psyche.  On the otherhand, if he isn’t gay and this is all a big mistake, then I feel bad that he is a member of a homophobic organization that will, without a second thought, drop someone if there is anything surrounding him or her that smells like homosexuality.

But two news stories yesterday caught my attention.  The first is a little innocuous:

Craig Gets a Mixed Reaction Upon Return to Senate

I don’t know.  People are always complaining that Senators take too many days off.  Shouldn’t the pundits be praising Craig for working through to his last day?

The second news story is pretty absurd:

Fateful Bathroom Draws Crowds of the Curious

Are you serious?  People are actually visiting this bathroom as a tourist attraction?  A woman changed her baby in the stall so the baby could say she had been there when she grew up?  Have we become such an ADD culture that we have forgotten how common these scandals are and that, by the end of the year, barely anyone in America will remember who Senator Craig is?  Are we so indoctrinated into a new Reality TV mindset that we are making a bathroom a famous object?  What is wrong with you people?

If they hadn’t before, the American public are now offically the same as tabloid magazines.

I don’t know.  I’m happy to see people upset about the hypocracy of the conservative anti-gay movement.  But it all feels too much like a big joke at the GLBT community.  Which makes me feel the need to, once again, link to Harvey Fierstein’s Don Imus editorial.

1999 Video: Craig Calls Clinton ‘A Nasty, Bad Naughty Boy.’” posted by TownhallVideos

UPDATED 9/25/07: 7:24 PM

Here is an interesting and I think enlightening editorial about the Larry Craig case:

Larry Craig’s Great Adventure: Suddenly, He’s a Civil Libertarian  


Conservative Hat Trick

There are three news stories that occured in the past couple of days that I wanted report. 

The first comes from Maryland:

Maryland Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The second whammy came out of California:

Governor Promises Veto of Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Finally, because Mitt Romney needs to prove his conservative credentials, here is a story out of Iowa:

Romney launches anti-gay marriage ad in Iowa

I find all this disheartening, especially the Maryland case, though not just because it comes on the heels of Idaho’s ruling that a same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. 

More so, I find it interesting in light of the decision in New Jersey that a doctor is not required to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the fetus is an “existing human being.”  The New Jersey courts made that decision because there was no medical or public consensus as to when life begins.  It doesn’t seem, to me at least, that there is medical or public consensus that “homosexuality is not an ‘immutable characteristic,’ such as gender or race, that one is born with”. 

Yes, an election must be coming up.  Same sex marriage laws are coming to a head again.

UPDATED 9/19/07: 3:21 PM

If you want to read some responses to the Maryland case by gay rights groups and advocates, click here.

And in good news, San Diego City Council has voted to support a law suit that challenges California’s same-sex marriage ban.  This could, of course, then lead to a showdown with Governor Schwarzenegger.

Updates, The Smashing Pumpkins and More

Okay, so I have a few updates about previous posts that I need to make.  So here goes.

“Good News, Part Two”

As expected, Judge Hanson’s ruling didn’t last very long.  A stay on the ruling was issued less than 24 hours after Hanson made his decision.  In between the ruling and the stay, 27 same sex couples filed applications for marriage but only one made it to the courthouse.  Read all about it:

Iowa Gay Marriage Applications Halted

“Grand Rapids Literary Review Issue Two is Now Available”

I don’t know what is going on with the web site for The Grand Rapids Literary Review, except that the site is down.  I have emailed the editors in hopes of finding out.  If the site is down permanently and the journal no longer exists, then I don’t know what that means regarding the poems that were published there.  I still have the interview in my email, so at the least I will post that here.  The poems, if I am allowed, will likely have to be resubmitted elsewhere if the site is down.  I may be overreacting though and it may be resolved soon, in which case I will post another update.  My apologies to anyone who has been trying to find the poems and the interview.

“Bring Anthony Bourdain to Toledo”

The Toledo Blade has an article in today’s paper about a project in Columbus that is similar to the Live/ Work/ Create project that Toledo artists and Mayor Finkbeiner recently announced.  Check it out:

Short North in Columbus offers vision for Toledo

“Poetry Challenge”

There are a lot of great spontaneous poems in the comments section of Rane Arroyo’s “A Challenge And Be Eye Candy Too” posting.  If you haven’t read them yet, you are missing out.

“A Question for Young Americans”

The comments section of this posting has involved a discussion of the current U.S. economy that has mentioned many issues, including the housing market, interest rates, and the unemployment level.  The New York Times issued a report last Wednesday about the economy based on the results of the recent census.  Read the report, by Abby Goodnough:

Census Shows a Modest Rise in U.S. Income

“And So Ends Another Summer”

My classes are settled, the students are registered and I’ve compared the gender ratio of my students to the average reported in “And So Ends Another Summer.”  The national average says that 57 percent of students registered nationwide are female.  Approximately 62 percent of my students are female.  I’m above average!

“Election Fatigue”

Many of us might be fatigued, but Reuters apparently is not.  Today they announced:

Race for the White House kicks into high gear

Many debates, rallies and speeches to go.  And four more months before the first vote is cast.  Meanwhile, everyone is still asking if Fred Thompson is in the race or not.  It seems this week we will find out, according to The New York Times:

After Months of Flirting, Thompson Is Almost In

“Let’s do the Time Warp Again”

Read this interesting article, also from The New York Times (what can I say, I get free copies at school), regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban using race to assign children to public schools.  Unfortunately, to read it you have to have TimesSelect (meaning you pay for the ability to read “older” articles) or you have to purchase the ability to read just this one article.  But here’s the link anyway:

A Successful Plan for Racial Balance Now Finds Its Future Uncertain

If you google the title and find the full text of the article for free, let me know so I can post it.

And because I’m upset no one can see my poems, here is something fun:

Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket” posted by jfu79

Finally, I’m adding three new editorials to the Supplemental Readings page (yes, from The New York Times) by Paul Krugman.  One is about Race and the G.O.P.  The other deals with the current administration’s failures, highlighting Hurricane Katrina.  The last has to do with the attacks on universal health care and that scary, scary word, “Socialism.”  The full text of these are archived on the blog Economist’s View .  And you can read them here:

Paul Krugman: Seeking Willie Horton

Paul Krugman: Katrina All The Time

Paul Krugman: A Socialist Plot


UPDATED 9/19/07: 7:59 PM

The New York Times has changed its policy regarding the TimesSelect articles.  They are now available for free on their website.  You may have to endure a short ad, but there is a “skip this ad” button for those of you who, like me, are impatient.