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Same old pig, new shade of lipstick 

With the Republican convention underway, I decided to take a few moments and familiarize myself with the party’s platform.  In the pursuit of being an informed voter, I wanted to know exactly what the Romney Ryan ticket would get me.  After all, they are “America’s Comeback Team.”

I was somewhat surprised to find that I agreed with bits and pieces of it here and there.  What I was not surprised to find was that it is still a platform that pledges more invasions into the lives of women, and discrimination against people who are not straight, married, god fearing people.

Of particular interest to me was the section entitled “Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage” which claims that marriage is in fact the “foundation of civil society.”  I would tend to disagree.  With only a handful of states recognizing same sex marriage, most of our married couples fall under the banner of traditional marriage.  I don’t find our society to be particularly civil, and what about single parents?  Don’t worry; there is something here for them as well. 

We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard…”

I am not a single parent, but if I was, that would feel like a slap in the face.  A patronizing, “we know it is hard and you are doing your best, but your best isn’t good enough” kind of statement.  Anyone else?  And what is this national standard that they are speaking of, when roughly 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Then there is the section on “Adoption and Foster Care” about how important this system is and that there needs to be more funding.  Where do they suggest states get help with funding and support for their foster care children?  Faith based organizations.  Is that really the best they can offer?  An additional note here, LGBT adoptive parents tend to adopt children who are harder to place with adoptive or foster families.  This includes children with mental and physical health problems.  But, LGBT families don’t fit into their definition of traditional families, so they aren’t good enough for one of the over 400,000 children that need loving homes.

I think my overall problem with the platform is not that it is discriminatory, but that for a party who claims they want limited government intervention, they are certainly sticking their hands in a lot of pots.  At least the Democrats will legislate that you have to have healthcare, and tell you to your face.  Republicans would do the same and tell you that they are actively trying to have less influence over your life.


The Day has Finally Come

Do you feel that?  Don't Ask Don't Tell has been missing from the lives of American's for almost 24 hours now.  So, what has changed?  Not much if you ask me.  Our brave men and women are still fighting side by side.  The world did not end, and California didn't fall into the sea.  Just as Harold Camping was wrong when he told us that the world would end earlier this year, so to were many people wrong when they said that removing DADT would cause our military to colapse.

Here is the thing.  The United States is a vast country made up of people, all of whom can think for themselves.  Sure there are those who hate gay people, but most of them probably haven't met any.  The whole point of this website was originally to give people access to gay people so they could see how much alike we all are.  Today soldiers were able to get married, tell their father's that they are gay, tell his/her friends that they aren't interested in the guy/girl they are being set up with.  In short it was just an average day.  An average day that reinforced just how oh so similar we all are to each other.  Without differences this world would be pretty boring, so let's celebrate the small differences and let them unite instead of divide us.




What Can You Do For Your Country?

There is an interesting article in the January 31st 2011 edition of Newsweek that got me thinking.  Former general Stanley McChrystal has called on all Americans to serve their country.  Not necessarily in the military but instead by performing a service in their communities.  Focusing on young adults, McChrystal would like to see students graduating from high school or college take a gap year to perform service with an organization like City Year, Americorps, the Peace Corps, Teach for America or Habitat for Humanity.

While I think that all of these are great organizations and that giving a year of your time is something that everyone should do, I think McChrystal missed an opportunity.  Yes it tends to be the younger generation that has the flexibility to take a year “off” and perform service work, but there are many organizations that can help those who cannot devote an entire year.  The missed opportunity I see is that there was no encouragement of those in the working world to take some time and perform service in their communities.

The focus on a year of service may scare some off, but don’t back away from working in your community just because you can only give a few days a year, or a few hours a week.  There are plenty of organizations that can use your manpower and expertise to affect positive change in our communities.

Having worked with the YMCA for the better part of a decade I know what a great impact you can have on your community year after year.  I have greatly enjoyed my time working with youth, helping them develop leadership skills and the skills that they will need for every day human interactions. 

We are very lucky today to be able to go to Google and look up organizations in our area that need our help, but finding the right fit for you can sometimes be daunting.  Just keep at it, because there is an organization that needs your skills, and I guarantee you will walk away with a great feeling knowing that you have done something good for your country.

Don’t know where to start? Check out Volunteer Match, and here is a list of national organizations to help you on your way.


What's In A Word?

As 2011 approaches many of us will take the time to reflect on our lives and make plans to better ourselves in some way, whether it be mentally, physically, socially etc.  Instead, I offer this as a suggestion.  This year make a resolution to make society better, a better place for all of us to live.  It sounds cheesy and it sounds impossible, but it can be done, and it can be done with as little as one word.

Since I announced to the world that I was gay in November of 2004 I have been on a mission to eliminate the word gay from the lexicon of my friends, family and even some strangers that I come into contact with.  It would seem a fairly simple task, but this word has become so engrained in every day speech that it has proved difficult.

Dictionary.com defines gay as: having or showing a merry, lively mood. Bright or showy. A homosexual person. 

Take a moment and think about the last time you heard the word gay used.  Now ask yourself was the word used in conjunction with the above definitions.  The answer is probably no.  In fact, the word gay has taken on a whole new meaning.  It is now generally used in a derogatory manner, replacing the words stupid or dumb in a sentence.

So what's the problem with this?  Over the course of time the definitions of words change, and perhaps that is just what is happening here.  However, because this word is associated with a group of people, every time someone uses it in a derogatory way they are putting down an entire section of society.  This can be particularly hurtful to people who have not yet come to terms with their sexuality.  Generally when we are talking to our friends we don't think about others around us, but other people can in fact hear conversations that are being had in a public place. 

Imagine that you are a teenager again, trying to make you way through an already extremely awkward time in your life.  If you hear yourself being put down every day, this is going to have an impact on your self worth (See related posting).  With the recent teen suicides I think it is time that we take a look at how we impact people around us, even when we don't know them.  I know many of my friends won't use the word gay around me now because I have taken a stand, but some of them probably still use it when I am not around.  My message to them and to all of you is that you never know who is listening.

This year I am doing something that I normally don't do.  I am making a new years resolution.  I am going to eliminate the word retarded from my vocabulary.  I realize it is hard to change habits. All I ask is that while you are reflecting on this past year, take a second to think about how easy in the grand scheme of things it is to stop using one word.  Who knows, it could make a difference in the life of someone you have never met, or maybe on of your closest friends.

From me to you,  I wish you a safe, happy and prosperous new year.


Villains Posing as Victims

Over the course of yesterday while I was working I kept an eye on one of the most divisive issues of my generation.  Should same-sex marriage be legal?  I realize that this court case is playing out in California, but as we know, the decisions made in these courts will become precedent that could help or hinder the march toward equality throughout the country.

With all of that said, here is what I have gleaned from the events of the trial so far.  The lawyers that are arguing that same-sex marriage should be illegal really don’t have much of a leg to stand on.  They are using the same old talking points that have either been disproved (children will be harmed if they are raised by a same-sex couple) or are simply discriminatory (same-sex couples are not as good as their heterosexual counterparts).

The main problem for those standing in the way of same-sex marriage is simply that there is no good reason for keeping Lesbian and Gay couples who are in love from getting married.  From everything that NOM (National Organization for Marriage) has said so far it looks more and more like this trial is less about winning (Keeping Prop8 on the books) than it is about making noise.  NOM has already set the stage to play the part of the victim in this case, saying that the judges are biased because one of their spouses works for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and has previously worked on this case.  That is all well and good, but we all know that if the shoe was on the other foot and one of the judges had a spouse that worked for NOM, they wouldn’t be saying a word.

What this all comes down to is that NOM and its supporters will continue to undermine our constitution and try to paint themselves as victims all the way to the supreme court.

From what I have seen, I am hopeful.  The thin arguments that are being offered by opponents of same-sex marriage coupled with the strong arguments being put forth by the lawyers fighting for equality lead me to believe that equality will triumph over hatred in the end.