Houston’s Mayoral Inauguration Day Brings Along Prayer and Protestors

Annise Parker, Houston's newly inaugarated mayor

Downtown Houston’s Wortham Center was the site for the public inauguration ceremonies of Mayor Annise Parker as well as city council members and other newly-elected officials on Monday, January 4th.  One of the Houston Chronicle’s political writers blogged the event.   Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S. and the largest with an openly gay mayor.   Mayor Parker was the winner of a December 12th run-off election.  (Watch the new mayor’s inaugural speech here.)

A big surprise for me is that giving the prayer for the inauguration was Joel Osteen of Houston’s mega Lakewood Church, which is now housed in the building that was the previous arena for the Houston Rockets of the NBA (the Summit, later called Compaq Center).  I put this in almost the same category as Rick Warren giving the convocation at President Obama’s inauguration just a year ago.  It was only a couple of months ago when Osteen appeared on The View and said, “. . . homosexuality is not God’s best.”   If Osteen doesn’t think Annise Parker is one of God’s best, why did he consent to give the prayer at her inauguration?   Also why was he picked to speak by those doing the planning?

Osteen has a big draw in Houston, and I know some gay people that go to Lakewood.  I also know gay Catholics and gay Mormons.  I don’t know why gay people would want to belong to a church whose leader doesn’t think they are God’s best.  I also don’t know why gay people want to belong to any church that keeps hammering them down.

Speaking of hammering, some of the Phelps clan from Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church are in town to protest Annise Parker’s inauguration.  However, the Phelpses aren’t one-stop shoppers when it comes to hating;  according to their website (the name of which is such a pejorative that I would not deign to give them the satisfaction of writing it), they are making a 2-day trip of it  in order to picket a wide spectrum of venues, which include among others, the Co-cathedral downtown, the Holocaust Museum, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish school, and even Osteen’s own Lakewood Church.

Watch part of the ceremonies at the Wortham Theater:

(Click on Home for other posts on Annise Parker’s election.)

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It’s 2:15 AM, But You Should Read This Book

Boswell book(Yes, it’s 2:15 AM, and luckily, tomorrow starts my vacation, and I will only have to wake up to take Annie out to do her business, and then I can crash again if I want. But someone posted a comment to one of my old posts, and responding to took enough time and effort that I decided to add a bit and use it as its own post.)

Beliefs. When it comes to beliefs, we have to make some distinctions.

If I put a pan of water on the stove, add some salt, turn on the burner, and wait until the water starts to boil at 212 degrees fahrenheit, I believe that if I dump the linguini into the water, it will be cooked a little more than al dente in about 8 minutes. On the other hand, maybe I’m cutting the grass, and I spy a four-leaf clover at the edge of the sidewalk, and say to myself, “Hey, I believe I’m in for a bit of good luck. Then, if some positive happens, I can attribute it to finding the four-leaf clover; however, if nothing significant takes place, I can just forget about it, and say, “Oh, well,” and wait until another “sign” like another four-leaf clover comes along.

That’s my take on beliefs, and if I haven’t drawn a clear enough picture for you, you’re not ready for Philosophy 101.

So that’s what applies in my comment below. (If my transition is weak, now it’s 2:30 AM.)

I always get tickled when religious people want to come back and say to me, “You’re angry.” Obviously, you haven’t read much else here on the blog.

You say you’ve made sacrifices. Most people in their lives have made sacrifices, but there is a difference between rights as a citizen of this country and whatever personal sacrifices people make to have the life they want. Just because some people have certain personal religious beliefs should not mean that others in this country should be prevented from having the same rights as everyone else. You as a married person have a whole slew of rights granted to you by the government besides the most obvious–marriage itself, but also the many spousal benefits that go along with it, not to mention being able to be open about who you are in the military, or even more simply to give blood.

When you start to add god into the picture, I say, “Whose god?” There are many denominations that have no problem accepting gay marriage and full equality across the board. We don’t have a theocratic government system in the U.S. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran have governmental laws based on Islam, and whatever side of the political fence you sit on in this country, I have heard few people advocating they would like a government like that in this country.

You say: “I don’t think gay people are less than others, I never said that, so I don’t know where you got that. I think that gay people choose to believe that God is okay with their choice and I believe that they are mistaken.”

I “get that” because you chose to comment to my post and indicate that you are against gay marriage. What is inherent in what you say is that you think your beliefs are the correct beliefs and based on those beliefs, gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married in this country. You say “they are mistaken” and that indicates that they cannot have what you have–marriage–which indicates you do think gay people are less.

This is really no different than in theocratic countries where women are treated as “less”. Based on those laws, the wife has to walk behind the husband, cover her head and most of her body, and in some countries not be able to drive a car. Oh, but sure, he doesn’t think she’s “less” than he is, does he?

One thing that always gets me and every other gay person I know is that when people tell them being gay is a choice. I just don’t buy that you have any gay people whom you are really close to; otherwise, you just would not say or even think that.

Did you make a choice NOT to be gay? Chew on that a moment, and you have to realize that gay people don’t make a choice NOT to be straight. Are you left-handed or right-handed? Did you make a choice about that? Back in the good ol’ days, especially in parochial schools, left-handed kids got their hands whacked with a ruler or even had their left hands tied behind their backs to force them to use their right hands because being left-handed was thought to be wrong by some people. I guess in your way of thinking being left-handed wasn’t in god’s plan.

There’s no fork in the road of life where people choose to be left-handed or right-handed. Likewise, there’s no fork in the road where people choose to be gay, straight, or even something in the middle. Like being left-handed or right-handed, it just how we are wired.

The problem is that some religions and some people want to attach some kind of moral significance to that wiring.

Where there is a choice, however, is in what people choose to believe. As part of their beliefs, the Aztecs sacrificed other human beings; the people of Salem believed that some of the local women were witches and burned them to death; some people from Latin countries believe that if a pregnant woman looks at a full moon, the baby will have a mark on its face; some Hindus believe that cows are sacred; and the Pope of the medieval church believed that the earth was flat, and, thus, Galileo was a heretic and driven out of the church.

Through the ages, beliefs have changed. People learn, people grow, people use logic and knowledge. (Others, however, keep on with the same ol’ superstitions and fairy tales.)

But just what is it with christians and homosexuality anyway? The bible really doesn’t say that much about it, and the lines there are come from way back in the part where there are all sorts of weird old Jewish rules, like not letting dwarfs or invalids anywhere near the altar and not touching the skin of a pig. There’s a bunch of stuff like that back in Leviticus, but nobody, even those people who say they take every word of the bible literally adhere to any of that, but somehow they pull out homosexuality as being just about the worst thing anybody could be.

Never mind that it’s not on the top ten list of biblical no-no’s. I mean shouldn’t adultery be written into U.S. law? I’m pretty sure it’s there on that big ol’ tablet that Moses came down the mountain with. But I didn’t see any christians advocating for any laws against adultery when Governor Sanford was/is having his fling with his Argentine “soul mate” or after Senator Vitter got caught cheating on his wife with prostitutes. Why aren’t all the christians up in arms about that? (Remember that ol’ song “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”?)

Why did the Aztecs believe they should sacrifice other humans? Why did the people of Salem believe some of the local women were witches and burn them to death? Why did people believe the world was flat?

(But based on your thinking, not those sacrificed by the Aztecs, the women put to death in Salem, nor even Galileo were “less”, because, of course, the Aztecs, the people of Salem, and the medieval church were all just following the laws based on their beliefs.)

And I think this should be a question for you. WHY do you believe what you believe. (I heard that ol’ Sunday School song “Cuz the Bible Tells Me So” many times, but that just doesn’t cook the linguini any more than the four-leaf clover cooks it.)

In the end, you can believe whatever you believe. If you want to believe a rock is a hairbrush, you can believe that, especially if some church elder has convinced you that a rock is a hairbrush. And would you dare question that with a “Why?”.

In the same way that some parents’ religious beliefs should not prevent their child with cancer from being treated, your own and others’ religious beliefs should not prevent gay people from marrying the person whom they love.

Finally, you need to read this book: “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality” by John Boswell.

We Should Be Fearing the Terrorists Among Us, They Are Just as Bad as the Ones Who Don’t Speak our Language

You Kill2the owner of a legally operating business, just because you don’t like what that business does and you want to close down that business and other similar businesses. In my books, that is terrorism. That’s exactly what happened in the case of murderer Scott Roeder, who killed Dr. George Tiller. This is pure domestic terrorism. Worse yet, in Kansas, this is not a capital murder case, so the taxpayers are going to have to pay for the keep of this diabolical killer for the rest of his life. Hopefully, he will croak soon. And hopefully so will some of the wacko commenters to the article about it.

And now today, we have another killing, this time in Washington, D.C. by another right-wing extremist–the murder of an innocent guard at the Holocaust Museum.

When will it stop? Who is next? We know there will be a next because people like Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Bill O’Reilly want to keep their pots of hatred bubbling, inflaming these crazies into the “Chicken Little Syndrome”, making them think that the sky is going to fall just because the political pendulum in this country is moving in the other direction.

Some people want to blame extremists on both sides, but think about it. During the last administration, even when Bush’s popularity was at an all time low, would anyone have ever conceived of an anti-gun proponent going into an NRA meeting and shooting someone? After the Proposition 8 vote against same-sex marriage when so many people were upset at the Mormons for loading the coffers of the Prop. 8 measure, would anyone have ever thought that some gay activist would shoot the leader of that Utah-based sect? And even though many people on the left truly hated Bush’s war in Iraq and what it had done to the country, would anyone have imagined some left-leaning extremist trying to assassinate him?

I doubt that even those vile news commentators who spill out so much hatred against our President and his administration today would have expected that “lefties” would try to murder any of those they disagreed with.

But with the killings of Dr. Tiller and now the museum guard, Stephen Johns, these TV and radio inciters have to be held accountable. They are causing violence and death in this country, and it must stop! If you are one of their listeners, you must stop. Because if you are listening to them and keeping them on the air, and in your own way, you support these inciters, and , thus, support murder. Think about it, and just stop.

“First the Penguins and Now the Blue Ducks. My Gawd, Marianne, There Goes the Neighborhood. What’s Next? The Gays?”

ben-and-jerryAll those holy rollers, baptists, morons (oops), and other so-called christians will be railing once again about what the bible says about what is and is not “natural”, in spite of their total lack of understanding of the meaning of the concept of “natural” a couple of thousand years ago. (If you want to read a very good book that deals with this concept and much more, I recommend finding in the library or bookstore John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Be warned this is a lengthy, well-documented, scholarly work, so be prepared to wrap your brain around it.)

But anyway, after the commercial interruption, back to the story.

It seems in England, a couple of ducks have fallen in love. And these two ducks are Ben and Jerry–that’s right two boy ducks. The sticky wicket (Writing with an accent is fun!) is that first, Ben, and later, Jerry were brought in for blind dates with a girl duck, Cherry, though neither Ben nor Jerry wanted much to do with Cherry. (The name “Cherry” makes me think of one of Barney Fife’s rough girlfriends.)

nysfc2Anyway, when Ben met Jerry, it was like–well, like “New York Super Fudge Chunk”–the perfect combination. And Ben and Jerry have been getting along like ducks and water ever since.

Well, now some people are in a pickle about this (or else they want a pickle with their ice cream) because these ducks–Blue Ducks they are–originated in New Zealand, and these are the only three ducks left in Merrie (or is that “gay”) Ol’ England. And if these ducks don’t have ducklings, who’s going to do the queen–I mean who’s going to save the Queen?

Read more about these cute Blue Ducks from the London Telegraph.

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Read about the gay penguins.

Sean Penn Wins Best Actor and Dustin Lance Black Wins for Best Screenwriting for MILK; Watch Their Moving Acceptance Speeches at the Oscars

I only watched bits and pieces of the the Oscar Awards Show last night.  I hardly ever watch it all the way through; I’m too much of a remote control channel flipper.  Even more, I hardly ever know many of the movies up for the awards because I’m just not a big movie fan.  It takes a lot of recommendations from friends to get me to go see almost any movie.  I suppose it’s because at the movie theater, I miss being able to have that remote in hand in order to flip the channel when a dull moment comes along.

So to tell the truth, I haven’t seen MILK yet, even though it’s been playing at the River Oaks Theatre since it came out.  Now I think I’ll go.  Mostly because of Sean Penn.  Not because Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk and got the Oscar for doing so.  No, it’s because I was fortunate to be watching last night when he accepted his award (luckily, I hadn’t flipped to another channel).  I was definitely touched and choked up by what he said.  Last night, I thought someone might be very quick and get the clip up somewhere on the net, but no one had.  Tonight I found it, watched it, and was very impressed once again.  Take a look.  It’s worth it.

I guess my flippting channels caused me to miss out on another great acceptance speech by the winner of the writer of MILK, Dustin Lance Black, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  I don’t know much about this guy, but from hearing a bit of his own story in his speech, Black himself might be worthy of having his own story told in a book, or perhaps even on the big screen.  Watch his moving acceptance speech; this guy is the real deal.