Saturday, July 06, 2013

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

George W. Bush To Push Immigration Reform

As regular readers know, I have nothing but contempt for George W. Bush, a/k/a the Chimperator.  Yet to many delusional Republicans the man is held in some level of respect.  Thus, it will be entertaining to watch the reactions of the racist Neanderthals of the GOP base.  The Dallas Morning News reports that Bush will speak on Wednesday lauding the benefits of immigration reform and providing a path to citizenship.  Here are story highlights:

A president named Obama may be most linked to overhauling immigration policy. But on Wednesday, George W. Bush will weigh in.

Bush will deliver opening remarks at an citizenship ceremony and immigration forum at the Dallas presidential center bearing his name, where it’s expected he will talk about how immigration reform will be good for America. A panel discussion titled “What Immigrants Contribute” will follow. The day will start with 20 immigrants taking a quick pathway to citizenship at an actual naturalization ceremony.

It’s unclear whether the ex-president will stick to generalities during his remarks at the citizenship ceremony, or elevate the conversation with details about the super-sized immigration bill now being debated in Congress.

The George. W. Bush Institute has thrown some weight behind measures to overhaul immigration policies and linked it to its “4% Growth Project,” which proposes such growth would create 10 million additional jobs during the next decade with no rise in government spending. The event will include panels discussing immigration and economic growth, why naturalization matters and “how immigrants serve America.”

The Bush Institute has pushed a small stream of reports and posts advocating an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. Many are blunt: “How Conservatives Should Think About Immigration Reform.” Others note that the Bush Institute has backed “immigration reform” with a book co-sponsored with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

New York Times Slams Cardinal Timothy Dolan

In a previous blog post I noted how Cardinal Timothy Dolan - a/k/a Porky Pig on this blog - worked to hide $57 million in church funds form victims of sexual abuse by priests aided, abetted and protected by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.  And not surprisingly, (i) Dolan lied about his activities in the past, and (ii) Dolan's actions were blessed by the Vatican in a matter of a few days.  The New York Times has rightly joined in the condemnation of Dolan and the Church's larger moral bankruptcy.  Here are editorial excerpts:

Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests. 

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy. 

The release of about 6,000 pages of documents provided a grim backstage look at the scandal, graphically detailing the patterns of serial abuse by dozens of priests who were systematically rotated to new assignments as church officials kept criminal behavior secret from civil authority. 

It is disturbing that the current Milwaukee leader, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said last week that the church underwent an “arc of understanding” across time to come to grips with the scandal — as if the statutory rapes of children were not always a glaring crime in the eyes of society as well as the church itself. 

The documents showed how the Vatican slowly took years to allow dioceses to defrock embarrassing priests. Yet the same bureaucracy approved Cardinal Dolan’s $57 million transfer just days after the Wisconsin court allowed victims’ damage suits. 

I ask again: how can any moral person give these foul men any respect or deference?  They belong behind bars and a full blown government investigation of the Catholic Church should be commenced.

The Death Toll from Homophobia and Family Rejection

With a new grandson of my own I am not surprisingly reminiscing about the births of my own three children and how the center of my whole world changed with their arrival into my life.  When speaking to my daughter yesterday, I teased her that now she would understand a parent's worry about their child and perhaps understand better the things that I and my former wife did to keep them safe and happy.  Sadly, some parents don't seem to get that message and, worse yet, reject their children out of slavish belief in ancient myths s that modern knowledge increasingly disproveand the propaganda of those who blogger friend Bob Felton calls the "holy men" whose number one concern is power and control over their congregations.  These "holy men" are the antithesis of family and proper parental love and support for ones children.   Here are two quotes from Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Convention that make this point:

As the Gospels make clear, loyalty to Christ exceeds that of any family commitment, . . .

The believer in Christ acknowledges him as Savior and Lord, with an allegiance that exceeds any earthly commitment

Bob goes on to correctly note in the context of the Supreme Court gay marriage rulings that the only thing impacted is as follows: "All that is marginalized and subverted is the power of the clergy — and that’s a good thing."

As note, too many people continue to cling to the lies and bullshit peddled by despicable, power hungry individuals like Mohler who in the final analysis don't give a damn about others.  And the consequences of such unthinking and foul allegiance to the rants of the holy men has all too often deadly consequences. A piece in Huffington Post reveals how one set of parents learned this the hard way and lost their son - their refusal to accept his homosexuality basically killed him in the end - as a consequence.  Religion and "faith" are too often a toxic evil and anything but a "common good" as claimed by Pope Francis.  Here are article highlights:

On the night of Nov. 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our 12-year-old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something
Mom says: Yes I am listening
Ryan says: well i don't know how to say this really but, well......, i can't keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can't believe i just told you
Mom says: Are you joking?
Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don
Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?
Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don't like hannah
Ryan says: it's just a cover-up
Mom says: but that doesn't make you gay...
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don't understand
Ryan says: i am gay
Mom says: tell me more
Ryan says: it's just the way i am and it's something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing
Mom says: what do you mean?
Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that
Mom says: I love you no matter what
Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this
Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?
Ryan says: i know
Mom says: thank you for telling me
Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now
Mom says: I love you more for being honest
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn't know and love gay people; my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails and all boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all our reactions over the next six years was fear.

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:

We love you. We couldn't love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We'll get you their books; you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we -- and God -- were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to an abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies and got baptized. He read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from . . . .

But nothing changed. God didn't answer his prayer, or ours, though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe, the God for whom nothing is impossible, could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.

We had unintentionally taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan's death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity and his mounting anger at God.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, whom I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by faith instead of by fear. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan's gravestone.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

What is so troubling about this story is that Ryan's torment and ultimate death is not unique.  I lived with self-hate for years and only got over it when I opened my eyes and realized that all of the teachings I had received from the Catholic Church on sexuality were lies promulgated by morally bankrupt men who were little better than criminals given the cover ups exposed when the sex abuse scandal exploded in Boston.  Unlike Ryan, I had parents who never wavered in their support of me and who welcomed my boyfriends with open arms. Unfortunately, many LGBT individuals never get over the brainwashing and self-hate.  Two friends ultimately killed themselves and another became a debilitated alcoholic.  All because their families could not let go of ignorance and myths derived from Bronze Age nomads.

Again, the irony is that the Christofascists claim that gays and gay marriage threaten marriage and the family, yet is they themselves who constitute the larger threat.  Gays don't advocate for the rejection of family members, whereas the Christofascists do.  They have so much blood on their hands.  They are evil.

My Handsome Grandson!

We finally got some pictures of the new addition to the family, first via a text from my son who like my daughter lives in Olympia, Washington, and then via Facebook.  (With my new smart phone, I didn't know how to down load the photo sent by text or e-mail it to myself.  I spoke with my daughter and she was elated with little Ben as shown in the photo above, although exhausted after only two hours of sleep over a 24 hour period.  Needless to say, I am thrilled with Ben's arrival and I will treasure him along with my sweet granddaughter.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Ft. Lauderdale July 2013 - Day Four - - My Grandson is Born!!

Today has been a lazy laid back day for the most part with overcast skies.  Luckily, it gave us a day to recover from all the sun at Sebastian Beach yesterday.  It also gave the boyfriend a chance to hit the store in preparation for tomorrow evening's "Mo Down" as our hostess calls the gay parties we throw at their home every time we visit.   Tomorrow's plans include another excursion on the boat - pictured above flying a rainbow ensign the husband of one of the boyfriend's country club clients bought us and the Hampton Yacht Club flag - swimming in the pool and a barbecue.

The most exciting news is that my grandson, Benjamin was born this afternoon around 3:00PM Eastern time.  Mother and son are doing well at last report.  I am waiting to see some photos which I will share once I get them.  I treasure my granddaughter who is now 6 months old and will do the same with Ben.  

As far as the rest of the day goes, we had such a good time at The Alibi last night that we will probably venture back to Wilton Manors from Lighthouse Point and perhaps stop by the Gay Mart so that the boyfriend can buy a new swimsuit. 

More Friday Male Beauty

Pope Francis' First Encyclical Continues Anti-Gay Jihad

Some people - who might be described as either overly optimistic or delusional depending on one's perspective (I opt for delusional) - had hoped that Pope Francis would usher in a new era in the Roman Catholic Church's protracted anti-gay jihad.   Those misplaced hopes were dashed when Pope Francis released his first encyclical entitled “Lumen fidei” or “The Light of Faith” which makes it clear that the pathological anti-gay animus of John Paul II and Benedict XVI will continue.  Again I ask gay Catholics why the remain involved in a Church which seeks to dehumanize them and depict them as "inherently disordered" and "evil?" Masochism is about the only  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at this development.  Here are excerpts:
Pope Francis I just issued his first encyclical, chose former Pope Benedict XVI as his co-author, and chose to continue Benedict’s unhinged international holy war against same-sex marriage.

Benedict, as Pope, many times attacked same-sex marriage. Some thought Francis would focus more on less controversial issues and take the church back to its traditional home of caring for the poor, the sick, and the needy. Apparently, Francis has a different view than those who saw his elevation as a new time of unity for the Church.

What makes the encyclical all the more ridiculous is the fact that it argues that faith should be viewed as a "common good."  Apparently, Francis prefers to ignores the horrors done in the name of faith by his predecessors and the countless lives lost or destroyed thanks to people of faith.  Blind faith is a pernicious evil and provides the intellectually lazy and mentally disturbed with an all too easy justification for the harm they do to others.

"Religious Liberty" - The Far Right's New Ploy to Justify Discrimination

As numerous posts on this blog have previously pointed out, no element of society is more self-centered or inclined to believe itself above the law than the "godly Christian" crowd.  It's all about them 24/7 and they hold nothing but contempt for the rights - in some instances, the very lives - of others.  Meanness and selfishness and hypocrisy are their principal characteristics.  And when others stand up to the Christofascist effort to ride rough shod over everyone else, these modern day Pharisees have the gall to claim that they are the ones being persecuted.   With last month's losses at the Supreme Court on gay marriage and a recognition that demographics are increasingly against them, it can be expected that the claims of persecution and efforts to use claims of "religious freedom" will escalate further.  A piece in Think Progress looks at the coming disingenuous propaganda campaign.  Here are highlights:

Religious conservatives, however, still have one more card to play in their efforts to deny equal rights to LGBT Americans. As the socially conservative writer Ross Douthat suggested shortly after the Court struck DOMA, the best way to continue to limit the rights of gay people is to “build in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.”

It’s clear that anti-gay leaders are already executing this contingency plan. Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint claimed on Tuesday that marriage equality “means trampling First Amendment religious liberty protections along the way.” At least fifteen anti-gay individuals, ranging from wedding cake bakers to bed and breakfast owners to t-shirt makers, have claimed the right to discriminate against gay people — often in direct violation of the law — with many citing their religious beliefs as justification. The conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops claimed in a brief they filed in the Supreme Court that treating anti-gay discrimination permissively “protects the religious liberty of those employers with a religious objection to providing” health coverage to same-sex partners.

This, simply put, is the social conservative end game. They are not going to succeed in blocking marriage equality. But if they can exempt the very people who are most likely to engage in invidious discrimination against gay people from laws prohibiting such discrimination, then they can suck the life out of many pro-gay laws. Their exaggerated view of “religious liberty” can no more be squared with equality than it could when Bob Jones University claimed a similar religious right to engage in race discrimination.

Ultimately, social conservatives’ efforts to expand religious rights to the point where they devour other essential freedoms such as the right to be free from discrimination are likely to backfire. In the 1980s, the Supreme Court developed a workable framework for religious liberty. Such liberty is robust, but it does not include the right to engage in invidious discrimination, and it does not give businesses a right to “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.” Then, in 1990, Justice Scalia blew up this framework with his majority opinion in Employment Div. v. Smith. Smith shrunk religious liberty far more than many Americans were willing to tolerate; Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to restore the religious liberties lost in Smith almost unanimously, and it was signed into law by President Clinton.

Now, however, religious conservatives want to go far beyond the 1980s framework that RFRA restored. They claim both the right to defy anti-discrimination law and the right to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Lee, which held that “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Religious liberties are rightfully enshrined in our Constitution, but they have not been understood as a sweeping right to deny equally important liberties to others. If religious conservatives insist upon the right to do so, the consensus that led to RFRA’s passage is likely to break down, and people of faith could ultimately wind up with fewer protections than they enjoyed before a small number of religious conservatives decided to overreach.

The task before the LGBT community is to educate the larger public on this fraudulent approach of the Christofascists and make it clear that this twisting of the concept of "religious freedom" ultimately will threaten the rights of many other in addition to LGBT citizens.

"Out in the Line Up" - A Film That Challenges the Taboo Gays in Surfing

Homophobia is all to prevalent in professional sports and nowhere does homophobia seem stronger than in the pro-surfing circuit.  Yet, the reality is that there are many thousands of gay surfers world wide.  A new film which was the brain child of the founder of and an Australian surfer aims to break the taboo and help gay surfers come out and help change heretofore closed minds.  Here is a synopsis of the film:

Even after winning amateur surf contests in Australia, the fear of others finding out he was gay, made David Wakefield abandon competitive surfing. David kept his sexuality a secret for another 20 years. But when he finally decided to come out, he didn’t expect it would be on national television.

The turning point in David’s story came when he met a French surfer named Thomas. Thomas had just set up, the world’s first online community of gay surfers. Suddenly David can connect with thousands of other like-minded surfers from all over the world. David and Thomas decide to march in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, and David becomes the unsuspecting media focal point of TV news coverage – outing him to the whole country on national television.

As unsettling as this is initially, David becomes more connected to his life, his sexuality and surfing. He leaves his job and embarks on a global journey to meet other gay surfers, ride some great waves together and hear of their fears, joys and experiences. David meets world champion Cori Schumacher, ex US pro-surfer Robbins Thompson and many more. He reaches out to pro-surfers, journalists and psychologists in a bid to understand why most gay surfers live a closeted life, how homophobia in surfing has come to be, and what needs to change. David’s discovery of the hidden side of surf culture reveals stories of discrimination and exclusion, but also of hope, energy, the love of the ocean – which create of a vision of the world where the new generation is free to be themselves and live their dreams.

Watch a trailer for the movie here.

I love surfing myself and will always have fond memories of surf trips with my son and his friends.  As in everything else, gays have every right to be who they are and excel on the pro-surfing circuit if they have the talent, determination and courage to take on the ocean.

Today's "Real Americans"

As I noted in the post on day three of our vacation, the face of America is changing rapidly and the "real Americans" look far different than the fantasy image that the Republican Party and its racist/Christofascist base.  I for one  - unlike the angry, extremest base of the far right/GOP - am not threatened by those who look different from me and/or who have allegiances to other faith traditions so long as they are likewise accepting of others.   A column in the New York Times looks at what real Americans look like.  Here are excerpts:
Is America in 2013, in any meaningful sense, the same country that declared independence in 1776? 

The answer, I’d suggest, is yes. Despite everything, there is a thread of continuity in our national identity — reflected in institutions, ideas and, especially, in attitude — that remains unbroken. Above all, we are still, at root, a nation that believes in democracy, even if we don’t always act on that belief.
And that’s a remarkable thing when you bear in mind just how much the country has changed. 

America in 1776 was a rural land, mainly composed of small farmers and, in the South, somewhat bigger farmers with slaves. And the free population consisted of, well, WASPs: almost all came from northwestern Europe, 65 percent came from Britain, and 98 percent were Protestants

America today is nothing like that, even though some politicians — think Sarah Palin — like to talk as if the “real America” is still white, Protestant, and rural or small-town. 

But the real America is, in fact, a nation of metropolitan areas, not small towns. Tellingly, even when Ms. Palin made her infamous remarks in 2008 she did so in Greensboro, N.C., which may not be in the Northeast Corridor but — with a metropolitan population of more than 700,000 — is hardly Mayberry. In fact, two-thirds of Americans live in metro areas with half-a-million or more residents. 

What do we do in these dense metropolitan areas? Almost none of us are farmers; few of us hunt; by and large, we sit in cubicles on weekdays and visit shopping malls on our days off. 

And ethnically we are, of course, very different from the founders. Only a minority of today’s Americans are descended from the WASPs and slaves of 1776. The rest are the descendants of successive waves of immigration: first from Ireland and Germany, then from Southern and Eastern Europe, now from Latin America and Asia. We’re no longer an Anglo-Saxon nation; we’re only around half-Protestant; and we’re increasingly nonwhite. 

Yet I would maintain that we are still the same country that declared independence all those years ago.

Of course, our democratic ideal has always been accompanied by enormous hypocrisy, starting with the many founding fathers who espoused the rights of man, then went back to enjoying the fruits of slave labor. Today’s America is a place where everyone claims to support equality of opportunity, yet we are, objectively, the most class-ridden nation in the Western world — the country where children of the wealthy are most likely to inherit their parents’ status. It’s also a place where everyone celebrates the right to vote, yet many politicians work hard to disenfranchise the poor and nonwhite.  

But that very hypocrisy is, in a way, a good sign. The wealthy may defend their privileges, but given the temper of America, they have to pretend that they’re doing no such thing. The block-the-vote people know what they’re doing, but they also know that they mustn’t say it in so many words. In effect, both groups know that the nation will view them as un-American unless they pay at least lip service to democratic ideals — and in that fact lies the hope of redemption.

Two Former Popes Who Protected Sexual Predators to Be Made Saints

If one need yet another demonstration of the moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the announcement by the Vatican that Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II will be canonized certainly fits the bill.  Why do I say this? Because both, especially John Paul II, oversaw a worldwide conspiracy to protect sexual predators who raped and sexually molested hundreds of thousands of children and youths during their years of misrule.  But for the undeserved deference given to religion John Paul II should have been criminally prosecuted.  The same holds true with former Pope Benedict XVI.   The New York Times looks at this travesty which ought to be repellant to anyone truly moral.  Here are highlights:

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II, the globe-trotting pontiff who led the Catholic Church for nearly 27 years, and Pope John XXIII, who called the reforming Second Vatican Council, will be declared saints, the Vatican said on Friday. 

The Vatican said Pope Francis had approved a second miracle attributed to John Paul, a Pole who was elected in 1978 as the first non-Italian pope in 450 years and died in 2005. His progression to sainthood is the fastest in modern times. 

The Vatican also said Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council - which enacted sweeping reforms to modernize the Church - would be made a saint even though he has only been credited with one miracle since his death. 

Liberals in the Church say John Paul was too harsh with theological dissenters who wanted to help the poor, particularly in Latin America. Others say he should be held ultimately responsible for sexual abuse scandals because they occurred or came to light when he was in charge. 

John Paul also drew criticism for supporting the late Father Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order, defending him despite charges of sexual abuse that later turned out to be true.

Gay Star News reminds us of John Paul II's toxic views of gays:

John Paul II was deeply opposed to gay rights and said transgender people should not be allowed to have any position within the Catholic Church.
In his book Memory and Identity, he said the push for same-sex marriage was part of a ‘new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.’
He also described equal marriage as threatening society and culture, adding family ‘must never be undermined by laws based on a narrow and unnatural vision of man.’
- See more at:
John Paul II was deeply opposed to gay rights and said transgender people should not be allowed to have any position within the Catholic Church.
In his book Memory and Identity, he said the push for same-sex marriage was part of a ‘new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.’
He also described equal marriage as threatening society and culture, adding family ‘must never be undermined by laws based on a narrow and unnatural vision of man.’
- See more at:
John Paul II was deeply opposed to gay rights and said transgender people should not be allowed to have any position within the Catholic Church.

In his book Memory and Identity, he said the push for same-sex marriage was part of a ‘new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.’

He also described equal marriage as threatening society and culture, adding family ‘must never be undermined by laws based on a narrow and unnatural vision of man.’
Gays are evil, but the rape and molestation of children was perfectly fine so long as the media did not find out about it.  Talk about moral depravity.

Ft. Lauderdale July 2013 - Day Three

Our third day in the Ft. Lauderdale area was truly a busy one.  We spent a good part of the day enjoying near perfect weather at Sebastian Beach - the so-called gay beach - along with throngs of others.  Thanks to a steady wind, the temperatures were comfortable.   Besides the gather in of gays, what struck me as I walked along the water's edge was the racial and ethnic diversity of the crowd: black, white, Hispanic, and a mix of others with several languages being heard among the crowd.  It represents the future diversity of America even in states like Virginia.  It also represents what frightens the Hell out of Christian conservatives who see their strangle hold on society slowly and deservedly dying.

We had dinner at a French restaurant named Sage Cafe with our hosts and other friends visiting the area from Hampton Roads.  After dinner, we made our way over to Wilton Manors and did some clothes shopping since there are so many options for shopping for items one never sees in our backwater area.  We ended the evening by having a good time at The Alibi which was packed and playing great dance music.  

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Christianists - The Real Threat to American Democracy

Despite the much repeated lie of the Christofascists that America was founded as a "Christian nation" all the facts point to the opposite conclusion.  Virtually all of the leading founding fathers were skeptics of organized religion and might be best described as Deists.  Moreover, they all respected education, science and knowledge and recognized that the world was not static and unchanging and that America would need to change with the times.  It's a mindset and view that is diametrically opposed to the agenda of today's Christofascists who embrace ignorance, reject science and seek to trample on the religious freedoms of others in order to impose their own fear and hate based vision of society on all.  What is even more disturbing is the fact that these ignorance worshiping, anti-democracy elements now control the Republican Party.   In an interview with The National Review, the always bovine and anti-liberty for all (and self-enriching) Maggie Gallagher exposes this mindset in a rant in the wake of the U. S. Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings.  She accuses Justice Kennedy of issuing a fatwa against Christians, yet is Gallagher and her allies that have issued a fatwa against anyone and everyone who refuses to knuckle under to them.  The woman, in my view, is mentally ill.  Here are interview highlights: 
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: What you are really asking is: Will we concede the legitimacy of Kennedy’s fatwa against us, or will we respond with a sustained opposition — legal, political, cultural, and of the moral imagination?

I don’t believe in inevitability, I believe in human freedom and our power to shape the future. So it depends on us. But certainly I believe, as I wrote in the Los Angeles Times, that the questions raised by marriage — deeply rooted in our conception of who we are as men and women, the meaning of sexuality and gender — cannot be put to rest by the power of five lawyers on however high a court.

The cultural struggle I predicted in “Banned in Boston” is clearly playing out. Will they succeed in persuading us to accept the second-class status Kennedy lays out for us?   Not me, what about you?

Note how in Gallagher's warped mind not being able to force one's views on all equates to "second class status."  Meanwhile, in 29 states gays can be fired at will and face duiscrimination because of people like Gallagher.  The piece goes on:

GALLAGHER: The legal implications are vast. I think this is, in fact, Roe v. Wade. The majority on the Supreme Court has clearly accepted that our Founding Fathers guaranteed us all a right to gay marriage in our Constitution, and is just prudentially biding its time — probably two to three years at most — before a case with clear standing gets in Justice Kennedy’s hands.

Already Kennedy has refused to accept for review a case in Arizona limiting marriage benefits to married couples. A Michigan federal judge also ruled our Constitution requires giving marriage benefits to non-married same-sex partners.

I think we are now in the post-Roe phase. Will we accede to the Court’s right to rule our values on marriage or not? And of course into the ever-more-intense religious-freedom phase.

I don’t think gay marriage is inevitable. But if the Supreme Court imposes it, of course it will happen.

With Kennedy’s judgment, and his contempt of dissent, we’ve entered into a new era of the relationships between the American political order and traditional Judeo-Christian moral views.

There's more blather, but you get the drift.  Gallagher and her kind have no problem with the imposition of beliefs and  social views as long as they are the ones doing the imposing on others.  No one has more contempt for the rights of others or is more self-centered and selfish than today's "godly folk" who make the case of why conservative Christianity needs to die.

Was The American Revolution A Flop?

The mere title to this post will cause hysteria amongst the chest beating uber- patriot crowd who constantly proclaim that America is the greatest nation on earth,  regardless of many statistics that suggest otherwise - e,g., our life expectancy is less than in a number of developed nations, our infant mortality is much higher than in many countries, our prisons are overflowing, many of our citizens have inferior legal rights compared to in some nations, a fact known all too well by gays, etc.,  But the post title does raises some much needed questions that a true American patriot might want to ask himself/herself.  Sometimes being patriotic means not being the mindless cheerleader and instead asking questions some would prefer not be asked and/or exposing America's sins.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the results of the American Revolution from a foreign perspective.  Here are highlights:

The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy, particularly Canada, which experienced an influx of American refugees after the British defeat. The U.S. performance should also be assessed against the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The new republic started advancing life and liberty by keeping a substantial part of its population enslaved. (This, at least, proves the frequent British put-down that Americans don’t have a sense of irony.) By contrast, in British-controlled Canada, the abolition of slavery began almost 20 years before the War of 1812, sometimes called America’s “Second Revolution.” A good number of free blacks fought with the British against the United States in that conflict, even participating in the burning of Washington. And if, as some scholars argue, the Civil War was the unfinished business of the American Revolution, then Americans — like the Russians — paid a very high human cost for their revolutions.

[T]he International Centre for Prison Studies ranks the United States ranks first in the world in the number of prisoners per 100,000 residents. That’s well ahead of Canada (which ranks 136th) and even Russia. The U.S. incarceration rate for African American men, which is about six times higher than that of white men, according to 2010 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, points to yet more unfinished business.

Most Americans work longer hours and have fewer paid vacations and benefits — including health care — than their counterparts in most advanced countries. Consider also that in the CIA World Factbook, the United States ranks 51st in life expectancy at birth. Working oneself into an early grave does not do much for one’s happiness quotient. This year the United States tied for 14th in “life satisfaction” on an annual quality-of-life study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That puts the United States behind Canada (eighth) and Australia (12th).  

Which brings us to the related matter of the revolution’s long-term impact on politics. While the Canadian, Australian and British governments have shown they can get things done, including passing tough austerity budgets in recent years, the norm in Washington has become paralyzing partisanship and gridlock.

In these senses, the American Revolution was a flop. Perhaps it’s time for Americans to accept that their revolution was a failure and renounce it. (For their part, many Russians have.)

Alternatively, rather than being wedded to every practice or institution that arose from the revolution, however counterproductive or dysfunctional today, perhaps Americans can rekindle some of the boldness of the nation’s Founders to create a “more perfect” and happier union. 

Last Fourth of July, while I visited sweltering-but-beautiful Washington, I came across an inscription in the Jefferson Memorial in which the third president warned against allowing institutions to calcify: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. . . . [W]ith the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”

I am not anti-American.  In many ways America IS a great country.  But it could be much better.  The best honor and respect that we can show to the Founding Fathers is to continue their work to make America keep pace with the times and changing knowledge and circumstances.  The irony is that nowadays those who are the biggest obstacles to this are those who claim loudly to love America the most.  Yes, you guessed it.  The GOP base, the Tea Party and, of course, the Christofascists who are the antithesis of what Jefferson, et al, believed.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

National Organization for Marriage Implies Being Gay Is Incompatible with Being Americanble

For those who have followed the National Organization for Marriage's  ("NOM")always disingenuous claims that the organization's sole concern is to "protect marriage," learning that NOM is now alleging that being gay is incompatible with being a patriotic American  will come as no surprise.  NOM's true agenda has ALWAYS been to denigrate gay citizens and depict us as being "other" and/or a threat to normal society.  Metro Weekly looks at NOM's latest foul anti-gay propaganda campaign which is merely an extension of its campaign to depict us a should be pedophiles and much worse.  Here are excerpts:
In a fundraising email sent late Wednesday hours before 4th of July celebrations kick off across the nation, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) implied being an American and being LGBT or pro-LGBT are incompatible.

"We're a republic founded on the principles of religious liberty, freedom and democracy, endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. We're a nation where citizen rights come from God, not from government, and where the people are sovereign, not politicians or judges," NOM President Brian Brown wrote in an email to supporters. "But those principles are under siege, by the culture, by our federal government and, increasingly, by the US Supreme Court."

Attached to Brown's email was a simple image of an American flag juxtaposed next to an LGBT Pride flag with the caption, "Which Banner Will You Choose?" -- seemingly implying that a choice must be made between being an American and being LGBT or pro-LGBT.

NOM's fundraising email comes one week after another set of losses for the organization, when, on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled in two cases to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and return marriage equality to California.

"If we do not fight back against these governmental attacks on our fundamental right to act in the public square in support of the truth of marriage as God created it, then none of our cherished liberties and rights are safe," Brown wrote.

Calls to NOM's offices for comment on the implication that being American and LGBT are mutually exclusive[were not returned].

NOM. Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher and NOM's financiers in the Vatican and the Knights of Columbus are despicable.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

A fourth of July preview!

Ft. Lauderdale July 2013 - Day Two

Today was a great day even though it started out with me dealing with office e-mail and drafting documents for a couple of hours.  Kudos to my youngest daughter for holding down the fort at the law firm while we are out of town.   After lunch, we went out on our hosts' beautiful Intrepid 40' boat from which we flew the Hampton Yacht Club red and blue pennant (shown in the photo above).  Cruising around Lighthouse Point and parts of Pompano Beach, I was struck by (i) the wealth in this area and (ii) how much of a backwater Hampton Roads is in comparison.  The image below is looking down the creek from out hosts' dock, followed by a shot of one of the  boats we saw on our cruise. 

To thank our hosts for their hospitality, the boyfriend and I took them (and a friend who they are also hosting) to dinner at the Lauderdale Yacht Club in Ft. Lauderdale proper.  Through our Hampton Yacht Club membership, we have reciprocal benefits with yacht clubs around the country (and other parts of the world).   The dinner and the club facility were both amazing.  Thankfully, our guest membership is good through the day we head back to Virginia. :)  A photo of the club's pool and pavilion complex is set out below.

Tomorrow's plans include a visit to Sebastian Beach - the "gay beach" in Ft. Lauderdaler - followed by a get together with friends in Wilton Manor for drinks and dinner.  On Saturday, we will be throwing our traditional gay house dinner/party at our hosts' home.

Again, I hope local readers will drop me an email at in the hope that we can perhaps meet for a drink or something.

North Carolina GOP: Anti-Sharia Bill and Extreme Abortion Restrictions

Republicans had not controlled the North Carolina legislature for 100+ years until recently.  Now, with the GOP in control, the flood gates for far right and Christofascist (a/k/a Christian Taliban) extremism and batshitery of all kinds have been opened.  Abortion, gay marriage and Sharia law are but a few of the North Carolina GOP's obsessions.  One can only wonder what is going to happen to the state's former pro-business atmosphere now that the culture wars seem to trump all else.  As Think Progress reports, an insane anti-Sharia law bill is being used to assault abortion rights as well.  Here are some story excerpts:

The North Carolina legislature is advancing a package of stringent abortion restrictions that appeared in the Senate this week without any public notice. The anti-abortion measures popped up on Tuesday night, tacked onto a controversial measure to ban Sharia law, and caught women’s health advocates completely off-guard.

House Bill 695, which would prohibit the recognition of Sharia law in family courts — an increasingly popular conservative tactic that essentially serves to demonize the Islamic faith — was slated for consideration in a Senate committee on Tuesday. As soon as that committee convened, it quickly approved several abortion-related amendments to the legislation. HB 695 now combines several different anti-abortion measures that were in different stages in the legislature into one omnibus measure.

The new amendments would prevent insurance plans on Obamacare’s health marketplaces from covering abortion services, ban “sex-selective” abortions, impose unnecessary restrictions on doctors administering the abortion pill to women, and require the state’s abortion clinics to adhere to complicated new regulations that would likely force most of them to close. 

As the News Observer reports, several supporters of the bill — like lobbyists and representatives from the N.C. Values Coalition, the N.C. Family Policy Council, and N.C. Right to Life — were present during the committee meeting when the new amendments were proposed. But the pro-choice lobbyists in opposition to the measure “were not told it was being debated.” A few hours after the committee agreed to tack on the amendments, Senate Republicans decided to bring HB 695 to a floor vote.

Women’s health advocates, who had no idea these measure would be taken up on Tuesday, denounced the last-minute legislative move. They pointed out that state lawmakers are attempting to avoid massive outcry by quietly sneaking through unpopular abortion restrictions right before a holiday weekend.

Now that the abortion amendments are folded into an entirely unrelated measure on Islamic law, some Republican lawmakers are already claiming that “a vote against the abortion restriction bill is vote for Sharia law.”

Even if North Carolina Republicans may have hoped to avoid mass protests against HB 695, activists in the state are already loudly voicing their disapproval with the GOP-controlled legislature. Over the past several weeks, thousands of people have been participating in a series of “Moral Monday” protests to stand up against ongoing conservative attacks on the poor, minorities, women, and the environment.

Attacks on the poor, minorities, women, and the environment.  That is today's GOP agenda.   And what makes it all so dripping with hypocrisy is that these "godly folk" wrap themselves in Christianity even as they betray virtually every aspect of Christ's Gospel message.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Washington Post-ABC Poll: Most Americans Support Supreme Court Gay Marriage Rulings

A new Washington Post-ABC poll provides more bad news for the Christofascists and anti-gay extremists within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.  Most Americans believe the Supreme Court got it right in ruling that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional and - to be candid, was motivated by anti-gay animus.  The findings make clear that opponents of gay marriage will largely die off within a generation or less and that the GOP is courting long term disaster by prostituting itself to the Christofascists.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

Most Americans think the Supreme Court got it right last week in decisions that bolstered same-sex marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The court by a 5-to-4 margin struck down part of the the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which withheld federal recognition and benefits from same-sex couples who are married in states where it is legal. The poll found that 56 percent approve of the ruling “providing legally married same-sex couples with the same federal benefits given to other married couples,” while 41 percent disapprove.

By a smaller margin, 51 percent to 45 percent, Americans say they approve of the court’s decision to let stand a lower court ruling that will return same-sex marriage to California.

In the Post-ABC poll, the gay marriage decisions drew strikingly different partisan reactions, while the decision on voting rights showed a deep racial disparity.

On the question about DOMA, support for the court’s decision is defined heavily by ideology, partisanship and age. The poll showed that 79 percent of self-described liberals and 68 percent of Democrats approve of the decision, while 62 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of conservatives are opposed. Over six in 10 independents and moderates approve of the decision.

The age difference was also pronounced: two-thirds of 18-29 year-olds approve, while 56 percent of those over 65 take the opposite view.

The decision was supported in every region of the country except the South, where people were pretty evenly split.

Justice Scalia's Son Says Homosexuality Doesn't Exist

One has to wonder whether Justice Antonin Scalia was homophobic first or if he learned his batshit craziness  from his son who is a priest and who doth seems to protest too much that homosexuality doesn't really exists.   Paul Scalia (pictured at left), has praised books perpetuating the "change myth" and "choice" myth for the insanely named "Courage" program which is the Catholic Church's home grown version of the now defunct Exodus International.  Right Wing Watch looks at the younger Scalia's disingenuous bullshit that will no doubt harm many young Catholic gays - all so that the closeted self-loathing closet cases can avoid facing the reality that the Bible is wrong about gays and homosexuality.  Here are excerpts:

Courage, a Roman Catholic group that encourages gays and lesbians to live lifetimes of abstinence, is planning to hold its annual summit this month at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., which will include a speech by Fr. Paul Scalia.

Paul Scalia is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and his involvement in Courage is well known.

The conference’s website lists Scalia as “the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Courage apostolate” and says he will speak on “Fearing the Lord ... and Not Being Afraid.”
Courage also points to an article Scalia wrote for the Fall 2012 edition of Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science, in which he reviews three books authored by Courage founder Fr. John Harvey.

Scalia’s piece claims that critics of homosexuality are being silenced and mistreated, while in “this radical transformation of society, one of the greatest casualties is the individual who experiences homosexual attractions but who desires to live chastity.” He adds that it is unfortunate that Harvey used the term “homosexual person” since according to Scalia, those people do not exist: “We should not predicate “homosexual” of any person. That does a disservice to the dignity of the human person by collapsing personhood into sexual inclinations.”

After hailing Harvey for having eventually “ceased using the term “homosexual” or “homosexual person,” Scalia goes on to claim that many people have “have found freedom, to varying degrees, from homosexual attractions” and deny that people have sexual orientations: “Homosexual tendencies (to use a term from magisterial documents), do not constitute a fixed, unchangeable aspect of the person and therefore should not be considered an “orientation”…

Consider how swiftly American society has changed as regards homosexuality. The “Stonewall riots,” the touchstone and unofficial beginning of the gay rights movement, occurred in June 1969. Since then, the demands from the gay community have progressed from simple tolerance, to acceptance, to the right to marry, to now the silencing of any opposition as bigoted and “homophobic.” Those who once insisted on tolerance for their lifestyle will now tolerate no disagreement. Society now requires everyone’s approval of what not long ago was regarded as morally abhorrent.
In this radical transformation of society, one of the greatest casualties is the individual who experiences homosexual attractions but who desires to live chastity. He finds, on one hand, the homosexual community encouraging him to live out his sexual desires, to claim his gay identity, to embrace the lifestyle, and so on. Worse, even some in the Church will encourage him to do so. Unfortunately, among those to whom he turns for help, he may find insensitivity, ignorance, misunderstanding, or simply an unwillingness to help. This individual is caught in the crossfire of the broader battle. He suffers great loneliness and often despair in the face of a struggle that some see as futile and others ignore.
People suffer because of the ignorance and bigotry of people like Scalia.  Would that they would accept modern knowledge of sexual orientation and cease clinging to the myths and writings  or Bronze Age nomads.  Reparative therapy and programs like "Courage" should be illegal, particularly in the context of minors.  

Courage, a Roman Catholic group that encourages gays and lesbians to live lifetimes of abstinence, is planning to hold its annual summit this month at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., which will include a speech by Fr. Paul Scalia.
Paul Scalia is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and his involvement in Courage is well known.
The conference’s website lists Scalia as “the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Courage apostolate” and says he will speak on “Fearing the Lord ... and Not Being Afraid.”
Courage also points to an article Scalia wrote for the Fall 2012 edition of Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science, in which he reviews three books authored by Courage founder Fr. John Harvey.
Scalia’s piece claims that critics of homosexuality are being silenced and mistreated, while in “this radical transformation of society, one of the greatest casualties is the individual who experiences homosexual attractions but who desires to live chastity.” He adds that it is unfortunate that Harvey used the term “homosexual person” since according to Scalia, those people do not exist: “We should not predicate “homosexual” of any person. That does a disservice to the dignity of the human person by collapsing personhood into sexual inclinations.”
After hailing Harvey for having eventually “ceased using the term “homosexual” or “homosexual person,” Scalia goes on to claim that many people have “have found freedom, to varying degrees, from homosexual attractions” and deny that people have sexual orientations: “Homosexual tendencies (to use a term from magisterial documents), do not constitute a fixed, unchangeable aspect of the person and therefore should not be considered an “orientation”…
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