Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pres. Obama Meets with Some People Who Are LGBTQ

Yesterday, in commemoration of Stonewall--the civil rights touchstone moment--riot of 40 years ago, the President met with some people who are LGBTQ. I get tired of people who are self-ordained, self-elected leaders of a "community" that is anything but singular in size or shape.

Anyway, meet with some LGBTQ people is what Obama did.

And this is novel, because most Presidents have avoided being seen public with us. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George Bush...and don't get David Mixner excited about Clinton.

In salon.com, the essay about the event was interesting: George W. gave us a "big gift" at this very same time of the year with a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:

The last time the president of the United States marked gay pride month with anything official at the White House, it was June 2006. George W. Bush decided to throw the weight of his office behind a proposal to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage. After all, the fate of Western civilization hung in the balance. "Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them," Bush said at the time. "And changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure."

The reception of his ideas was mixed, to put it best:

And while those who were at the reception seemed mollified, other critics were still blasting away. The Servicemen's Legal Defense Network, which represents gay and lesbian troops, held a protest outside the White House over the weekend to urge faster action on "don't ask, don't tell." "We keep hearing that the noble people who are going on Monday are planning to talk about issues and really let the White House know we've got problems," wrote Joe Sudbay on AmericaBlog. "That's BS. Many of them had a chance two weeks ago in the Oval Office to tell the president what they thought, and how many of those groups let him have it?"

Still, the message Obama was trying to convey -- relax, I'm with you -- seemed to sink in. "He's been in office six months, and in six months, not much has happened to help us," said Jerry Hoose, one of the two Stonewall veterans who met Obama privately before the meeting, and a founder of the Gay Liberation Front in New York not long after Stonewall. "But again, six months. I mean, what do you expect? The man is president, not a miracle worker." If nothing has changed a few years from now, keeping gay and lesbian supporters in Obama's corner may indeed take a political miracle. For now, though, the White House is hoping some kind words will do.

Click here for more.

What do you think? He is with us? Against us? Using us?



Monday, June 29, 2009

40 Year Anniversary Celebration of Stonewall

Throughout the weekend, and today with Pres. Obama welcoming leaders and families in the LGBTQ community to the White House, the attention is on Stonewall, the NYC bar in which the drag queens had had enough of the harassment of the police department, and a riot ensued. Before Stonewall, to be LGBT or Q was something one hid. After Stonewall, being LGBT or Q was a matter of pride.

I will be posting articles--in which there are lots from NYC.com alone--throughout the next few days, asking the question: isn't it time for equality in society, communities of faith, and in government?

First one: cnn.com: Gayby Boom: an article on "our" children--all of us who are LGBTQ parents--and what it is like to live with an out mom(s) or dad(s). in our family, my children remind me constantly "You don't know what it is like to have a gay parent in NC!" They are correct. I am learning from them. But at least we talk about it in the open rather than in the days 41 years ago in which it was not discussed. Click here!

Second: Frank Rich's piece/op-ed in the NYT.com, where he talks about that Stonewall happened 40 years ago, and we are still second class citizens. Still. In the Church--most Protestant and Catholic, as well as Eastern Orthodox Churches--this is truly the case: we are second class citizens. Here's the theological dilemma: in God's purview, we are all equal, and there is no first or class citizenry (read and re-read all of Paul's letters, and remember, he doesn't write about our modern understanding of human sexuality). So who has it mixed up: God or the Church? Click here.

Third: loved this article also in the NYT.com about gay and straight friends. As a gay minister, I have a congregation full of straight parishioners. This is not an issue. And that's what this article is about: it is a non-issue...for most of us. Click here.

Fourth: significant article here about the culture around us being more inclusive of LGBTQ people while the politics of the State (and the Church) are lagging behind. How true! Click here.



Friday, June 26, 2009

The Sanctity of Marriage and US Politicians

No more talk from the holier-than-thous regarding the sanctity of marriage.

This is forbidden.

Gov. Mark Sanford reminded us of silly talk about the sanctity of marriage. Sanford--who would impeach Clinton--is guilty of the very same indiscretion, a.k.a., cheating on his wife, doing the very same thing he found Clinton guilty of doing.

This is a Letter to the Editor I saw posted on andrewsullivan.com and WaPo letters that is very telling, expressing how many of us feel and think:

I am a gay man. My partner lives 12 time zones away. We are in a monogamous relationship, and we do not cheat. We get to see each other only twice a year for less than three weeks. Although he is a professional in marketing, the United States will not let him immigrate because he was not picked in the lottery. The federal government would not recognize our relationship if I married him. The government will not allow us to be together.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford ["S.C. Gov. Sanford Admits to an Affair," front page, June 25] and Sen. John Ensign (and former House speaker Newt Gingrich and senator Larry Craig) oppose same-sex marriages even as they do their best to destroy the institution of marriage in the United States.

I pay my taxes. I served in the military. I was an Eagle Scout. In short, I am a good, but second-class, citizen. It's very hard not to be infuriated by the double standards.



Click here for authenticity.

Amazing world we live in, yes?



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NC News: House votes to protect gay kids

The anti-bullying bill, that lists those children and adolescents must susceptible to bullying, that has died in the various committees and legislative bodies in the state of NC is on its way to becoming law! The split is 59 for, 57 against in the House, and there has to be three readings of the law and three votes before such a measure becomes law.

Third reading today. Not likely that anyone will peel off and not vote like they did previously.

And who were the ones who were holding it up and railing against the measure? Many of my brothers and sisters who are ordained in various denominations. In other words, clergy and many conservative Republicans...and a lone Democrat.

Click here for more.

As my partner said: This is HUGE!



p.s., today's final vote: 58-57: anti-bullying bill off to the Governor's desk to sign. Yeah!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dad's Day

We took the kids out tonight to celebrate Father's Day, and I must admit I haven't laughed so hard so long in a good long time. Great night. I not only love my kids, but love them!!!

So, as I've already written in ON BEING A GAY PARENT and in my Q-Notes column, I wrote about Father's Day, and the idea of re-naming or carving out a day: Gay Parents' Day. After all, Mother's and Father's Day were carved out in the earlier part of the 20th century because of the need to pay attention to the work mothers and later fathers do in this world.

Again: rather than fighting over whose day it is, name it a "cultural icon that needs a new addition," and let's find a day to call Gay Parents' Day.

And what day should it be? May is Mother's Day, June is Father's Day: thus July is a suitable time. Third Sunday in July?

What say you?



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Capehart: Give Obama Time

Jonathan Capehart (WaPo) believes that Obama made some missteps, but believes he is an ally:

Let's face it, the Obama administration bungled the politics surrounding its filing of a brief in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. But the searing criticism that President Obama is getting for it borders on a blind rage that obscures some positive changes for gay men and lesbians from his administration in both style and substance.

But he argues to give Obama time.

The pressure is on.

Here's his argument for giving him time:

If gays and lesbians want big victories, such as the repeal of DOMA and the "don't ask don't tell" policy, they should focus their fire where it belongs: on Congress. Each bill will take 218 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate to reach the president's desk, and the votes aren't there yet. Saying no one is going to hand gay men and lesbians their rights, Berry told me, "We have to get out there and fight and get those votes." That won't be easy. But if last week's announcement is a sign that Obama will be vocal, persistent and public in his support, the fight can be won.

But Capehart is wrong on DADT: Clinton signed an executive order to make DADT law. All that Obama has to do is sign an executive order to over-turn DADT. He doesn't need an act of Congress, because this is the military service, and he Commander in Chief. He is taking his cues from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the Pentagon who are dragging their heels (pun intended).

Capehart is speaking for the Administration...a mouthpiece.

It is time for Obama to move on these issues.

Time is moving quickly...so should Pres. Obama.



p.s., click here for more.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Simple, Really...

What do some of us in the LGTQB community want from Obama's Administration and Congress?
* DADT overturned;
* DOMA overturned;
*ENDA enacted;
* International Folks who are HIV+ welcomed;

...and a few more things as well.

What do we get? Federal employees get a few fringe benefits and now being able to be counted on the census in 2010, but ONLY if you are gay married folks.

So what about those of us who are in relationship and NOT living in a state that allows gay marriage? We won't count, right? We will be two roommates living in one house, correct? Just like 2000.

Give me a break.

I'm a Democrat who is more and more persuaded that this White House is about as clueless as the Clintons and Bushes on both ends when it comes to LGBTQ issues. They are tone deaf.

Click here for more.



Allowing LBGT People Serve Openly and Honestly

There is a similarity between what is going on in the military service and working in the church for LGBTQ people: first, we are not able to serve openly; second, that there has been a great loss of people for the military services and churches that are desirous of growing while losing members; third, that there is a growing openness of LBTQG people to serve in both the military and churches.

Today's op-ed in the WaPo is telling: John Shalikashvili (retired Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman), argues that there is really no reason for why LGBTQ people couldn't serve in the military in the USA. They serve well in other nation's armies. The argument that some retired personnel put forth a few weeks ago show a generation bias against LBTQG people, e.g., calling what we live a "life style choice."

These retired officers are the very same people in the Church who are blocking the ordination of LGBTQ people, using the same tired old, antiquated, biased perspectives.

What has been loss in the military? Read on:

The officers who oppose lifting the ban argued in The Post that there is "no compelling national security reason" to let openly gay troops serve. They also say, however, that "losses of even a few thousand sergeants, petty officers and experienced mid-grade officers" -- those they believe might bolt -- are unaffordable. Under current policy, we have lost more than 13,000 of those people, such as the Arabic language speaker featured in the new film "Ask Not." In addition, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have found that nearly 4,000 people leave voluntarily each year because of the ban, and that more than 40,000 recruits might join if the ban is ended.

Likewise in the Church that is losing members: we've lost a generation of pastors, counselors, musicians, educators, etc., because of our societal bias.

It is time to change.

Click here for more.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our Cautious New President...or the Thud Heard Around the World

On reading salon.com this morning, I noticed these two "War Room" notices about Obama: first one was re: Biden and Clinton suggesting that Obama be more outspoken in his support of Mousavi protesters in Iran. They claim he is being cautious to a fault.

The second entry was in re: to the benefit package for Federal employees. This did not include health or retirement benefits for Federal employees. It was a salve, a balm, for those LGBTQ folks who feel that this Administration is dragging its heels on LGBTQ issues:

"But for all that, the policy really doesn't go all that far. It does mean that most federal workers -- non-civilian employees of the Department of Defense are not included -- will now be able to take sick leave if they need to care for their partner or their partner's children, and it will help with some visitation rights and provide long-term care insurance coverage. But the biggest benefits, like healthcare and retirement, are not included; they're prohibited under DOMA. And some gay federal employees already had these benefits, depending on their supervisor's policy."

As I said before, Obama is governing through incrementalism on many issues, including LGBTQ concerns.

Is this Clinton Redux?




Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Anti-Bullying Bill in NC

Praying for a light to appear in the NC legislature, and that the Anti-Bullying Bill that is going to the House today passes, even though there are mis-guided souls who keep on thwarting this important Bill.



Tossing Us a Bone

The Obama Admin., and Pres. Obama, are going to toss us a bone--probably hoping to shut us up for awhile--with the promise of "benefits" to gay partners in Fed. government--except that the benefit not included is health care, and that takes Congress to add that perk.

Well: that should shut us up about DADT and DOMA and ENDA and travel for our partners with HIV bans being overturned.


And while it reflects an incremental movement of inclusion--a Bill Clinton move if I've ever seen one who loved to do things via incrementalism--this is an important small step, I guess.

So: how does this impact Joe and James, Mary and Louise, LGBTQ partners in the rest of the US who are not part of the Federal government?

Except for symbolism, not one wit.

All it was meant to do was mollify us:

But administration officials said the timing of the announcement was intended to help contain the growing furor among gay rights groups. Several gay donors withdrew their sponsorship of a Democratic National Committee fund-raising event next week, where Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to speak.

Please write Pres. Obama and whitehouse.gov, and tell him: More, and sooner rather than later. I did.

You can too.

Here's the article with a click.



Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Gay Dads: A Multicultural Story of Love and Parenthood

This was just sent to me! Enjoy this beautiful story of love and hope.

Click here for more.



My Two Dads PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maria Mancia PHOTO Eddie Quiñones
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 13:04

The painting that hangs above the coffee table is anything but unassuming. It is clearly a dauntless display of indomitable colors, audacious yet harmonious, making one yearn for the ocean and a hot summer day.

Erik Sosa-Kibby, the painter extraordinaire, has an easy laugh, hearty and lush, making him instantly approachable and alluring. The powerful combination of his engaging personality and undisputed talent, have made him extremely successful. However, three years ago, this Mexican-Guatemalan artist placed his career on hold to pursue something he considers of much greater import: fatherhood.

“I have always wanted to be a father, especially to twins,” he explains. “My childhood was typical in many ways: we were poor and undocumented, and in search of the American dream. My father had machista views and ways. He was very stern and remote, and I had a challenging time relating to him. Having my own children has given me the opportunity to view things from his perspective, helping me close old wounds.”

It wasn’t until college that Erik officially told his family that he is gay. Telling his father was particularly stressful. However, it helped them understand each other better and the animosity was finally put aside. “He finally understood who I was and suddenly our differences made sense,” he says. “That’s not to say that my dad was necessarily ecstatic. I was gay, but my family accepted me.”

Erik concedes that the challenges he and his family overcame have made him who he is today: “I do not regret one single thing I have experienced. How I interact with people, resolve issues and conceptualize my art is due to my past.”

mytwodadsErik’s desires to be a father became reality when he met and fell in love with his now lifetime partner, Mark W. Sosa-Kibby, a corporate executive. In the early stages of their relationship, they established their individual desires to have children. They are now happily settled into a house and a happy routine. They have also hyphenated their last names to symbolize their commitment to each other and to insure that they will be recognized legally as a union.

“We had everything we could want: each other, wonderful friends, financial security and the support of our families,” Erik says. “It was obvious to us that we were ready to adopt, allowing us to raise and nurture a child in need of a better environment.”

Before long, they began the grueling period of navigating through the complex legal and emotional process of adoption. For almost a year they underwent dozens of interviews with social workers, psychologists and lawyers.

Months later, Erik and Mark received word from the adoption agency that there was a child who might be a good match. They immediately flew to Guatemala. However, instead of one child, there were two beautiful baby boys waiting. Suddenly the question became, “why not two boys?” The children were not blood related, but they were born only 13 days apart. One was gravely ill and required immediate medical attention. The decision was easy: they adopted both boys, and Erik finally had the twins he always wanted.

The boys, Cole and Parker, are healthy today and nearly 3 years old. Cole had a heart murmur and required medical care, which he may never have received if not for the adoption. Nowadays Parker is busy painting and Cole has discovered the harmonica.

The biggest obstacle Erik and Mark are currently facing is the nightmare of potty training. “Now that the era of diapers has come and gone, the washing machine is always spinning. It requires a lot of patience, and when we think they have mastered the art of the potty, they have a relapse”, Erik explains. “It’s frustrating, but how can one be mad at the cries of, ‘Papa, I potty in my undha-whaaa!!!’”

Erik’s days are filled with caring for the boys. He is a stay-at-home dad and is deeply immersed in every aspect of his children’s lives. Among his biggest concerns are making sure the boys are well adjusted and receive a great education. Erik also wants Cole and Parker to be cognizant of their heritage and is raising them to be bilingual. Mark is also bilingual, and even majored in psychology and Spanish literature in college. Together, the family travels extensively through Latin America.

“My parents emphasized the importance of an education and a successful career. I was on the football and soccer teams in high school and participated in many school plays. But I was also confused about who I was back then: poor, Latino and gay. I want my sons to have all of the advantages I had, plus more, minus the worries. I want them to be proud of their accomplishments and of having two fathers who care and provide for them,” says Erik.

Erik and Mark will soon celebrate their 10th anniversary. Together they are driven by the desire to transcend stereotypes and simply define themselves as a loving family.
“The dynamics of our relationship are no different than any other couple out there, gay or straight,” Mark explains. “We have good times and bad times. Our children make us fight harder to keep our relationship moving forward.”

Erik also believes in teaching his sons the importance of being altruistic. He leads by example, and has raised money for the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. To date, he continues to donate pieces of his artwork and uses his art openings to raise funds for organizations he supports.

“One day my sons will be faced with major decisions in life. I am confident that by then, they will have gained the skills to choose wisely and become leaders,” Erik says. “Most importantly, I hope they find happiness. Ultimately, we want Cole and Parker to know their parents love and support them, unconditionally.”

Debut Column in Q-Notes!

Here's the debut column in Q-Notes, the Carolinas' LGBTQ magazine:


I was mesmerized by the conversation around the Church’s governing board as we discussed what we would give the men of the congregation for Father’s Day. As a pastor for over 25 years, I’ve heard this conversation many times, always with the same formula being used: the “mothers” — a.k.a., all women in the church regardless of whether or not they have children — will get a carnation on Mother’s Day. Fathers — meaning all men in the church — will get an industrial drafting pencil for their workshop. This discussion focused on a charming deviation from the norm: giving men a small pocket size carabiner that would possibly have the church’s name printed on them. “Nice gift,” I said with an almost imperceptible measure of incredulity in the tone of my voice. No one seemed to notice this around the table.

As I thought about this inaugural column, it was this awkward event that sprung to mind: being in the middle of this conversation and feeling out of place with these gifts for Mother’s and Father’s Days, even as a dad of two children. I wouldn’t have minded the carnation myself. I like a live flower or a small bouquet of wild flowers on my desk, kitchen windowsill, dining table, on a bedside table to look at in the morning when first rousing. The last thing I need is a small carabiner or many of the other token gifts associated with men in a congregation. In our society — in and out of communities of faith — we fall easily to the preconceived notions and ideas of what it means to be a mom and a dad, regardless if we are gay or straight. And gifts on these days reflect the assumptions of both gender and parenting we live with daily, passing them down from one generation to the next.

It was at this church meeting that it struck me: What is it that we who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender who are moms and dads want on these specially carved out days of the American hit parade of holidays? How do we want to be recognized? Should we establish a Gay Parents’ Day? What are the cards we would purchase for one another or that our children would purchase? What would be the image on the front of a card? Would it play into stereotypes of gay dads going to Broadway shows with our children in hand? Lesbian moms and children all wearing matching flannel clothes?

As Mother’s and Father’s Days were created in the early part of the 20th century as society’s way of honoring our parents, consider what it would mean to carve out and honor LGBTQ parents with a Gay Parents’ Day. Perhaps, for a short time, we would honor those LGBTQ parents in our society for being pioneers in a day and age when the only visible role models of parenting were straight parents. While there will be some commercialization of the day — with appropriate cards for the occasion — it would be a day of telling our story of what it was and is like being a gay parent in a world largely populated by straight parent images. We would tell of how we are singled out in public schools as the “lesbian parents” while no one describes the others as “straight parents.” We would describe the small jabs our children live with in their social groups when others find out that their parents are gay. And, we would describe the joys and often the normalcy of simply being family.

As more states pass equal rights marriage bills or legislation for domestic civil unions, I hereby propose one day of the year in which we honor LGBTQ parents and families. Happy Gay Parent Day to one and all!



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Catching the Wave For Gay Marriage

I love reading articles and op-ed essays re: LGBTQ. Maybe it goes back to the old axiom that good or bad publicity is, in the end, good publicity. Why? Because it announces that we are here, and that we matter.

Take this op-ed today by a former candidate for Governor of NY, Tom Suozzi, who seems to be going beyond his Catholic heritage to being a citizen of the greater public. He is catching the fever, the wave, of being pro-LGBTQ marriage:

Many civil marriages are not considered “holy matrimony” by religious institutions because they do not conform to the rules of the religious institution. Those marriages have not challenged religious liberty. We must see that civil marriage, which has always been separate from religious marriage, will remain so.

But most important, gays and lesbians have suffered too long from legal discrimination, social marginalization and even violence. They are entitled to clear recognition of their equal status as citizens of a country that is founded on the principle that we are all inherently worthy. By delivering a clear message that same-sex couples can no longer be treated as separate and unequal in New York, we will also reduce discrimination in everyday life. We will all be better for that.

Equal civil marriage should, and likely will, pass because of the public’s growing unwillingness to sustain inequality. Society will also be strengthened as more people take responsibility for one another in marriage. I now encourage others who oppose gay marriage to re-examine the reasons they do so, and to consider changing their minds too.

Tom Suozzi wrote this.

Click here for more.

I like it when mainstream politicians "get it."



Friday, June 12, 2009

Slow Boat: Obama Admin. and DOMA and DADT, ENDA, etc., etc., etc.

In reading towleroad.com, andrewsullivan.com, and a host of other blogs and webbies, it is clear that the Obama Administration is currently not doing anything to repeal DOMA or DADT for starters.

Here's the latest regarding DOMA: click here.

So, here's a question: is his administration doing this so that the LGBTQ community builds up enough hatred and anger about the slowness of change, forcing the hand of the Obama Admin., so that they can turn around and make the changes, charging that there was a "movement in the country for change"?

Is this their strategy? That we will be angry enough to force their hand?

Because if it is, by God I think it is working!

Change now.

Justice delayed is justice denied.



Marriage: Coming Soon to a State Near You

Note this interesting statistical survey:

In the past fifteen years, gay marriage has increased in popularity in all fifty states. No news there, but what was a surprise to me is where the largest changes have occurred. The popularity of gay marriage has increased fastest in the states where gay rights were already relatively popular in the 1990s.

In 1995, support for gay marriage exceeded 30% in only six states: New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont. In these states, support for gay marriage has increased by an average of almost 20 percentage points. In contrast, support has increased by less than 10 percentage points in the six states that in 1995 were most anti-gay-marriage--Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Idaho.


Click here for more.



Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pink Pilgrims

Just got back from walking 120 miles in NM, from Estancia to Chimayo.

Fantastic! Incredible scenery, fantastic discussions, and spiritual awakenings.

I will be writing about the phenomenon of out and closeted gay men on pilgrimage.

It is true.

More to come!