Argentina Does It! Now Marriage Equality at Both Ends of the Hemisphere as U.S. Held Hostage by Social Stick-in-the-Muds

I’m happy for what happened in Argentina in the wee hours this morning, when that country’s senate by a vote of 33-27 voted for gay marriage, and based on earlier passage by the house and the strong support by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the Senate vote was the final hurdle to be passed.

Wow! Argentina, you as a country have my respect.  It’s almost unreal, that now we have gained rights at both the southern end of the hemisphere (Argentina) and the northern end (Canada).

I’m sad too for my own country.  I used to think of the U.S. as the country of progress–in both the areas of invention and technology as well as culture and civil liberties.

But here we sit, a nation whose industrial and technological might brought an end to World Wars and put a man on the moon–here we sit, stagnant and controlled by our unfettered need for oil and all of the problems it has brought along with it, yes, and here we sit, stagnant and controlled by religious and political conservatives, who in reality want to take us back beyond the Disco 80s, the Love-in 60s, maybe even further back than the Eisenhower 50s.

These Tea Partiers, these Glenm Becks, these bible holders (yes, they really only want to hold them, for some sense of tactile security it brings them) spit out the word progress like its something dirty.  They don’t want a country that’s moving ahead in any way.  Whatever happened to being a country of forward thinkers?  The country that does it first?  The country that others want to emulate?  I really don’t believe that most Americans want to go backwards, but for whatever reason, too many in federal and local governments have given an ear to these stick-in-the-muds, who, if they had their “druthers”, would  take us back to the 1920s, when many in the country gave the same attention to another group: the Ku Klux Klan.  (Do your history homework.  The KKK didn’t just go after Blacks.  They were against unions, Jews, Catholics, and anybody else that didn’t think like they did.)

So, hurray! Argentina!  I have hope that one day soon, this country will put on its hip boots and wade through this languid river, kicking the muddy carp to the side, and follow you to the other side, then keep marching forward, only to glance back at the muck that kept trying to hold this great country back, in this world that does not stand still.

(Take a look at the celebration in the streets of Buenos Aires when the announcement of the vote was made.  Progress–it’s a good thing.)

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When It Comes to Gays in the Military, Many “Developing” Countries Are Forward-Thinking, While the U.S. Continues To Discharge Highly Qualified Service Members

Growing up, I always saw my country as the one which was the most inventive, the most progressive, the one with the most forward-looking people. I mean aren’t we the country that put the first men on the moon, the country that fought in wars so other people could live in freedom?

What I see now is a country that has so many people that are not only afraid of being on the cutting-edge in all aspects, whether in science and medicine (think stem cell research), inventions (think new forms of energy), or social progress (think equal rights), but also people who want to live in the past, rather than help move the country forward.

south-americaI’m really amazed when I see what is happening in some “so-called” third-world, or developing, countries when it comes to equal rights, especially in terms of gays in the military. While President Obama has been waffling on his campaign promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, President Tabaré Vázquez of the South American country of Uruguay announced that his country would no longer deny entrance into their armed forces to someone who is gay. In a meeting with Vazquez, the President of the neighboring country of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, agreed, saying his country will follow suit because Paraguay does not discriminate in any manner, including on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

Additionally from South America comes the news of the first same-sex couple to receive spousal benefits through the Armed Forces. Based on the decision of the Constitutional Court (Supreme Court) of Colombia, the gay couple of Fabián Chibcha Romero and Javier Osorio will be able to take advantage of these benefits because one of them is a member of the Public Forces (includes both the military and civil police). After processing their Union Marital de Hecho (which formalizes common law marriages after two years of cohabitation for both heterosexual and homosexual couples), Romero and Osorio sought the spousal benefits and were the first same-sex couple to be granted them based on military membership.

However, here in the U.S. even with the change to a new administration, valuable members of the military are still being drummed out based on their sexuality.

Lt. Dan Choi, discharged Arab Linguist

Lt. Dan Choi, discharged Arab Linguist

Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Army told Lt. Dan Choi, a member of the New York National Guard, that he would be dismissed for being gay. Choi is a graduate of West Point, and an Arab linguist recently returned from Iraq.

Today, the Service Members Legal Defense Network said the the Pentagon is ready to kick out another highly-skilled, veteran service member for being gay. SLDN says the U.S. Air Force is about to discharge fighter pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach, after 18 years of service to his country. Among his long list of accolades is that he was especially selected to fly sorties over the U.S. capital after the 9/ll attacks. (I’m not going to do a “cut and paste”; read more about Fehrenbach’s illustrious career here and watch the eye-opening interview and report from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.)

It is really a sad situation that we have in this country when we are ready to kick people who have given so much of themselves for their country out of the military just because of their sexuality. Is this what kind of country we are? One that judges people based on antiquated social mores? Are we a country that would rather let some people’s bigotry get in the way of having able-bodied and well-qualified service members protecting our country?

I don’t get it. Our forefathers came to this land with the idea of making a better life based on the principles of individual freedom and strove to be the best. They and their descendants were creative and worked to invent the best and newest, whatever that might be.

Now we have become a country of too many stick-in-the-muds. They only want to hide themselves in their “moral values” because, in reality, they are scared of the future. How did we ever get so many of these who are so filled with their own self-interest–yes, really these political and religious conservatives are really very selfish people; though, they would claim otherwise–that they cannot see that this country has to be progressive and future-thinking in order to be the country that we used to be.

The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act Would Not Stop Anyone’s Religious Free Speech; Read the Bill, Then Shut Up!

hate-crimeFirst of all, I can’t say I am whole-heartedly in favor of the hate crimes bill in Congress. For my tax dollars spent on social issues of this kind, I’d much rather see Congress, first, get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and the “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The bill, which if enacted, would be called the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. (Click to the bill from the Library of Congress. Read it; it’s just one page.) After reading it for myself, I’m getting sick of all the christian whiners all over the net crying that they are going to lose their ability to spew out hate. The bill does basically these things:

  • Gives the necessity for having such laws
  • Defines what hate crimes are
  • Says the support, both financial and otherwise, can be given to state and local jurisdictions, especially when the crime involves more than one state or in rural areas, basically in the form of grants
  • Gives more specifics on what hate crimes are (those involve bodily injury and death)
  • Explains in what situations the federal government can get involved
  • Explains what evidence is admissible
  • Explains that the Act follows the Constitution, which gives free speech.

In fact, the bill directly stipulates that speech, including religious speech, is still protected; read from Section 10:

    • (3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.
    • (4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

If someone says that his religious speech will be limited because of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, he hasn’t read it, or he is just lying and trying to stir things up for others who won’t bother to read it.

Who Are These Republicans Nowadays Anyway?

After all the viciousness that the McCain and Palin have been putting forth in their campaign speeches, finally, but finally, today McCain had to admit that “Obama is a decent man”, only to be booed by many of his supporters for saying that. However, what I liked about it was there was sincerity in his voice and on his face when he answered the questions about Obama, something we haven’t seen from him in the debates. What is unfortunate is that the Republican campaign has spent so much time and energy before today revving their voters into almost a rampant frenzy. Where do they get all their ideas anyway?

My mom and dad were Republicans. I grew up thinking the Republicans were the good guys and the Democrats were the bad guys. My mom didn’t like JFK, mostly I think because he was Catholic. I remember her telling me about when she was a girl there was a KKK in or around Dorrance. Back in the 1920s, the KKK was a big political force in the U.S., but of course, in places like Kansas in those days, there were very few black people, so there had to be someone to be the scapegoat–someone to blame–someone to discriminate against–so it was the Catholics. I don’t know if my grandparents liked Catholics or not, but my mom sure didn’t.

She also said that only the Democrats got the country into wars. I guess that was because FDR was President when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was forced into WWII. She always loved George W. Bush, but when your mother is in her 90s, you just don’t say, “But Mom, I thought you used to say ‘Only Democrats get us into wars.”

I always liked Eisenhower. Still to this day, I think of the 50s as the “good days”, even though I was just a little kid, and I know that for most little kids as long as they can play, have enough food to eat, and don’t get abused, childhood is “the good days”. I remember seeing “Ike” in some parade in Salina, maybe when he was running for his second term. And, of course, Ike and Mamie and the baby are buried right there in the Eisenhower Center, where I’ve been many times.

Bob Dole was our county attorney. Because Dad was township trustee, I’d sometimes go with him up to Russell to the courthouse to Dole’s office. Mom and Dad were also the Republican precinct chairman and chairwoman some of those years, so sometimes Bob Dole would come out to the farm campaigning, both for when he was still running for county attorney, then later when he was running for congress from Kansas’ Big First District. If I remember right, Kansas still had 6 congressional districts at that time (now it has just four). I still have the letter of congratulations from him from when I was sent to Kansas Boys’ State at KU. I always thought and still think that he is a pretty good guy. He did after a McCain-like marriage situation. He divorced his first wife, and a lot of people said it was because she was good enough to be a politician’s wife–a Washington wife. She eventually got married to a farmer from Sylvan Grove, and I would see her off and on when I was working over there in the summers. Then later, he married Elizabeth. She’s now a Senator from North Carolina and probably get beat this year, but why either of them wants to stay in politics at their age is a wonder.

I guess I liked when he ran for President the first time, but the first time I remember voting was for John Anderson. I guess by that time I’d already started thinking more about the realities of what the political parties stood for, but I still wasn’t ready to vote for a Democrat. By the time, Jimmy Carter came around, I had more idea of which side thought more like I do, and I haven’t changed my mind much since when Ronald Reagan’s time when all these religious right people started getting more and more control in the Republican party.

But really, it’s hard to tell who these people are; they’re not at all like the Republicans from earlier years that I remember. For sure, those on either side of the political fence could get very argumentative about their positions and put their feet in the ground about where they stood on the issues. But where does all this hate come from? They don’t even seem to care about the issues. Actually, some of things I see from them at rallies looks more like Serbians or other Eastern Europeans, when they were fuming about their former neighbors, who were of a different ethnicity. Or like what I’ve seen on old news reels of some of the German people lashing out against the Jews during Hitler’s early years, before WWII.

It’s really frightening.

I know there are probably still lots of good Republicans out there, but at the moment, the ones who the McCain-Palin campaign are attracting to their events act more like doberman pinschers guarding the junkyard fence.

Matthew Mitcham–The Golden Boy Brings Notoriety and Attention to Australia

When they throw the ball to you, the only thing to do is make a run for it. Or as some would say, give a dog a bone. So this dog is going to chew on this bone just a little more.

It seems that it’s not only me, but A WHOLE LOTTA PEOPLE are very interested in Matthew Mitcham after his win in Beijing over the past weekend. Here almost four days later, the net is still buzzing about his Olympic victory.

A lot of people are complaining in different articles about why NBC didn’t talk about his personal life and the fact that he is an out gay athlete. I’m not sure where I stand on that. On the one hand, I didn’t notice NBC doing much in-depth reporting on the personal aspects of any non-American athletes. Some people were complaining that they talked so much about Michael Phelps and his mom, but not about Matthew Mitcham and his relationship with his mom and boyfriend. The big thing here is (A) NBC is an American television network, (B) Michael Phelps is American and Matthew Mitcham is not, and (C) Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals.

Or if you want to look at it from a more negative perspective, maybe NBC didn’t want to get into trouble like CBS did a couple years ago at the Super Bowl, when Janel Jackson and Justin Timberlake made some fancy moves on stage during the half-time show, and Janet’s boob was showing for a split second before a world-wide audience. Then all the religious conservatives and other straight-laced folk got so up in arms that in the end CBS paid a big fine to the FCC.

Maybe, NBC was worried that these same tight-assed people would get upset seeing Matthew with his boyfriend, which would have terrible effects on their children, and God, forbid, they should see them kissing. Anyway, with everyone having a computer these days, whoever wants to find it can find it if they want ( and probably also Janet Jackson’s boob, not that I have any interest in that).

Even though, NBC didn’t give Matthew much limelight during the games, Australia still seems to be on the young man’s bandwagon. Today (Tuesday), the Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald’s sports section named him the Performer of the Week, and there’s a nice wrap-up about his dive there.

Anyway, because of Matthew’s success, I’ve learned that there’s more to Australia than kangaroos, shrimp on the barbie (Is it spelled like that doll?), Crocodile Dundee, and last, but certainly not least, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Despite being surrounded by all that ocean, the Aussies can actually be quite funny. I ran across this clip of an Aussie TV show doing a parody of the Chinese lip-syncing during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Looks like she might have a future in the Drag Kings.

(Check here if you’re looking for a photo of Matthew and Lachlan.)