Thursday, April 30, 2009

After A Bleak Start It Was A Nice Day After All


All righty then, so yesterday, the day after The Email, Carlos was not working. he has been doing presentations on at least one weekend day for the last several weeks, and this past weekend he worked both Saturday and Sunday doing HIV education-counseling-testing. He was ready for a day off, and i was ready to spend the day with him, so I, too, was not working.

First thing, we talked about the friend's email; he was hurt, too, and couldn't understand it. I told him that i expected her to call, but that I just couldn't speak to her that day...maybe someday...but not that day.

So, we had pancakes! Carlos Pancakes are dee-lish!

Then the phone rang. It was her. I said I wouldn't talk. Carlos put her on speaker phone and she talked, and apologized and so on. I listened from another room, and I felt bad for her, but there is always, and will always be, that lingering doubt that "Is she sorry for what she said or sorry that I found out."

But it was over in a flash.

So, we headed out. We have been talking for months, or years even, about joining the 21st century and getting a flatscreen TV. We've looked, researched, questioned, priced, touched, watched, smiled, talked, and come home empty handed. Not so yesterday. We finally broke down and replaced our old TV, thereby retiring the tiny squirrel who lived inside it and ran on the treadmill that powered the set. it was sad to see the little guy at the door, tiny suitcase in hand, a small tear in the corner of one of his squirrel eyes.

Screw that! Flatscreen baby! And, we're moving on.

We've been looking for an umbrella for the outside table. We like to eat out there, but breakfast and lunch in the summertime get a bit too heated--and not because of our discussions--because of the actual sun. Then, as if by magic, a brochure from Bed Bath and Beyond came in the mail, and they were having a sale on patio umbrellas. Then, the postman delivered a 20% off coupon from, wait for it, Bed. Bath. And. Beyond!

We headed over there instantly because, next to Free, Twenty-Percent Off is one of my favorite things. We made a pit stop at Home Depot first because Carlos, my sweet butch Carlos, wanted to check out chain saws. Lumberjack, he ain't, but he does love his yard tools.

While in the HD, we spotted umbrellas, and decided to do a simple price comparison. They had one we liked. You know, self-cranking, like me; I tend to self-crank.

Where was I?

It was also tilt-able. Again, like me. But it also had teeny tiny solar lights inside the umbrella, and a tiny solar panel on the top. So Carlos, my bartering baby, had a Light Bulb moment, a solar light bulb moment, if you will. He asked the Home Depot is they would honor a 20% off coupon from The Beyond....not beyond like, you know, from the grave, but Bed Bath And....

And the HD said they would!

Huh? What? Huh?

So we bought the solar lighted, crankable, tilting umbrella for the 20% off. As we left the store, I was carrying the umbrella-in-a-box and Carlos asked if I needed help. Because I am sarcastic and childish and will say and do just about anything, I answered, "No thanks. i may not be good enough for you, but I can carry an umbrella."

He chased me around the parking lot and then made me buy him lunch.


All in all, a good day.

Six By Twelve, Baby


We may just do this; we may just have marriage equality in all six northeastern states by 2012--hell, maybe before 2012!

Yesterday. the New Hampshire state Senate voted 13-11 to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislation goes into effect January 1, 2010 unless it is vetoed by Governor Lynch. Lynch, a Democrat, has said he opposes same-sex marriage, but has made no comment as to whether he would veto legislation legalizing gay marriage. If he takes no action, the bill automatically becomes law.

New Hampshire will join old guard marriage equality state, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and my new hero, Iowa, as sates that do not discriminate. And, of course, we also have Vermont in the mix, whose marriage equality legislation also begins January 1, 2010.

I do so love good news.

Maine Maine Maine


Inch by inch, step by step, we're moving along a path to marriage equality.

Last Tuesday, up yonder in Maine, in Charlie Country, a bill to allow same-sex couples the right to marry won the endorsement of a panel of lawmakers.

Next up: a larger debate in the full Legislature.

The Judiciary Committee voted 11-2-1 in favor of a bill that would repeal Maine’s prohibition on same-sex marriages. Two committee members opposed the bill, while a third proposed sending the issue to a statewide referendum. Some of the lawmakers who supported the bill called it a move toward civil rights and equality for gay Americans.

Yes, It is equality. Pure and simple.

“I want my kids to grow up in a place where everyone is treated equally and fairly and with respect,” said openly gay Democratic Senator Lawrence Bliss.

Opponents of marriage equality predict that the bill, if passed by the Legislature, would end up going before the people of Maine, where they hope it will be defeated. I'm not so sure about this since we've seen a growth in people in favor of marriage equality in the United States. I think people are beginning to understand that this is a simple civil rights issue, a case for an end to discrimination of gay Americans.

The discussion leading up to the vote forced lawmakers to look at this new legislation as a matter of law, of upholding the state constitution, not based on religious beliefs. That is what we call 'Separation of church and state" fellas, thanks for using that approach.

Crazy showed up, however, when a woman shouted at the panel that there was “only one true marriage” and accusing the lawmakers of immorality and lack of leadership. This particular wingnut held a handwritten sign that said “The Judiciary does not have the moral authority to redefine marriage.” She continued ranting after leaving the committee room, and was escorted out by police.

Just a note, dear. The judiciary is not "redefining" marriage, that's been done to death. What they are doing is holding up the state constitution allowing that all citizens of Maine deserve equal treatment and protection under the law.

You can't "redefine" equality.

Years In The Making


Finally!

The US House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, yesterday with a bipartisan majority.

Those who supported the bill say it will provide local law enforcement agencies with additional resources to investigate hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. It will also allow federal agencies the means to participate in local hate crimes cases when local agencies can't, or won't, investigate.

Two key provisions of the law expand federally protected categories to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Statistics show that one in six hate crimes are committed against an LGBT person, and that number is rising.

"The nation cannot wait any longer to protect all of its citizens," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "We should all be able to walk the streets without fear."

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau, rejected the idea, that many have put forth, that the law would limit free speech or religious rights. "Nothing in this bill prevents people from saying what's on their minds in the streets and certainly not from our nation's pulpits," she said.

Free speech is protected. You can say whatever you want about us, but you cannot physically attack us anymore. Even the ACLU, the enforcer of free speech, supports the bill.

Caroline Frederickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, pointed out that authorities will have the authority to investigate issues of speech only when the speech act in question is directly linked to the crime under investigation.

Still, and unbelievably so, GOP opposition to the Matthew Shepard Act centered on seeing hate crimes as modes of free expression protected by the Constitution.

Murder is not speech; it is not an expression. Brutality is not speech; it is not an expression. Just when you think the GOP cannot go any lower, you discover an entire sub-basement of their stupidity.

This one is for Matthew Shepard because we will never forget.

Ladies & Gents: A Republican

I can only imagine that after seeing this beacon of Repugnant intelligence, Arlen Specter is sure he made the right choice to drop the GOP for the Democrats.

GOP crazywoman Michelle Bachmann finds it "very interesting" that the last Swine Flu epidemic broke out in the mid-70s when another Democrat was president. Trouble is, Michelle, honey, that last outbreak of Swine Flu occurred in '76 when Gerald Ford was in the White House.

Ever heard of a fact-checker, Michelle, or do you like looking stupid. I mean, you do it so well.

The Old Switcheroo


Growing as discontented with the disjointed Repugnant Party as many Americans, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced this past Tuesday that he was switching to the Democratic Party, gifting the Dems with a possible 60th vote, and the power to break Senate filibusters.

Specter, who decided that the Repugs have moved too far to the right--a idea I never thought possible--said: “I’m not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate, not prepared to have that record decided by that jury....I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

If Al Franken prevails in his ongoing court case
in, and Specter begins caucusing with Democrats, Democrats would have 60 votes and the ability to deny Republicans the chance to stall legislation. Specter was one of three Republicans who supported President Obama’s economic recovery legislation.

The news shocked Senate Republicans--really?--who had been hanging on to the thread of being able to block legislation. Repug leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, called an emergency meeting of party leaders. I can only imagine what the conversation was like when that coven gathered.

Democrats, obviously, were jubilant.

President Obama got the news from an aide and almost immediately called Specter to offer his complete support. Apparently, Obama told Specter the party was "thrilled to have him."

Understatement!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More discrimination Of Gay America By The US Government


The Social Security Administration has reversed a decision to deny benefits to the children of a disabled gay father following a three year battle waged on behalf of the family by Lambda Legal.


“This is long awaited relief for Gary Day and his children, who just want to be respected as the family that they are,” said Lambda attorney Beth Littrell in a statement. “The Social Security Administration is supposed to provide families with help in a time of need regardless of a parent’s sexual orientation. After three long years and a federal lawsuit, the SSA has finally come through for these children.”

In February 2006, Day completed the applications for Child Insurance Benefits for his children. He provided birth certificates and court documents that acknowledge him as a legal parent of the children. The SSA acknowledged that they received the application and promised to provide a response in 45 days and yet more than a year passed and he received no response whatsoever.

Then Lambda Legal sent a letter on Day’s behalf and still the SSA still did not provide an initial determination of eligibility citing unspecified “legal questions and policy issues” involved with the application.

Gary Day did all the right things, all that he was asked. He provided the necessary documentation to establish a legitimate parent-child relationship and fulfilled all of the SSA’s prerequisites, yet his family was left without the social safety net that Day had paid into for decades and that all other families are provided on a regular basis.

In May 2008, over two years after his initial request, Lamda Legal and Gary Day had had enough. They filed suit against the SSA forcing the agency to act on Day’s application, urging them to recognize Day as a legal parent of the children. Finally, just last Friday, almost a year later, the SSA recognized the legal relationship between Day and his children without discrimination based on his sexual orientation or family status.

“As a parent, it is my job to provide for my children,” said Day. ” I am relieved to be able to fulfill my promise and also relieved that the SSA will provide the benefits my family needs, just as they do for other families.”

This was man who simply wanted to provide for his children, and was denied, at the most, or ignored, at the least, in trying to do so. It's another form of discrimination that gay Americans face every day, that straight Americans take for granted.

It was a good day, then, for Gary Day, and gay America.

The Tiara Is On But Nobody Is Home


More from THE STORY THAT WOULD NOT DIE!!!

In California yesterday, a spokesman for the Miss California pageant denied that contest officials told the reigning beauty queen, Carrie Cavewoman Prejean, to publicly apologize for her statement opposing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant or risk losing her crown.

See, Carrie Prejean took to the pulpit on Sunday and claimed that producers of the state pageant told her to apologize to the gay community and to avoid mentioning religion when she appeared last week on the “Today” show and other national programs.

Lying in the pulpit? How could someone do tha.....Oh wait.....never mind.

A San Diego public relations representative by the name of Roger Neal, who said he was one of the people advising Prejean, called her claims lies, saying that contest officials only urged Prejean to reiterate that she didn’t mean to offend anyone and to use the national spotlight “to heal some wounds,” he said.

She chose to stand up in church and in front of the media and say something that was a lie,” Neal said. “No one ever said, ‘You must apologize to the gay community,’ and no one ever said, ‘Don’t talk about your faith or your religion.’ Those two things never came out of anybody’s mouth.”

Prejean, of course, did not return a call from The Associated Press.
Now, I did say the other day that Prejean was entitled to her views, whether I agree with her or not, and it's pretty clear that i don't. She has since, however, come out and said that being gay is a choice, something we choose to to over time. You know, us gay folks aren't so smart. We choose to be less than, beaten, denied equal rights, and for what....the fabulous clothes, the parties, the nightlife? Carrie, honey, I didn't choose to be gay--though I wouldn't change it for the world even if I could--but you, dear, have clearly chosen the road marked Stupid.

Really, Newt, You Need To Stop And Think....And Then Keep Quiet


Lat week on Fox News--I don't watch, but I hear--Greta Van Susteren interviewed former House speaker, thrice-divorced, newly Catholic, presidential wannabe, and all-around-moron Newt Gingrich regarding President Obama's release of Bush-era torture memos.

I posted it below, and It's worth a listen.

The whole time, Gingrich talks but says nothing; he won't come down one way or the other unless he can blast the president. He uses phrases like "debatable" and "I don't know" and "I think," sounding quite 'presidential' all the while.

He says this: "releasing the documents last week was a big mistake" and then says this: "I want to see the United States run the risk, at times, of not learning certain things in order to establish a standard for civilization."

Then, when asked what he thought of waterboarding, if it is, in fact, torture, Newt said, "I think it's something we shouldn't do." Of course, then he changed direction again and said that "[l]awyers I respect a great deal say it is absolutely within the law. Other lawyers say it absolutely is not. I mean, this is a debatable area."

Is his middle name Waffle?

Asked if waterboarding violates international law, Gingrich 'played' dumb:

VAN SUSTEREN: But you said a minute ago that it was torture, waterboarding...
GINGRICH: No, I said it's not something we should do.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Is it torture or not?
GINGRICH: I -- I -- I think it's -- I can't tell you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does it violate the Geneva Convention?
GINGRICH: I honestly don't know.

He then says he is on the same page regarding torture as John McCain, but McCain, to his credit, has said that waterboarding is torture, and a "horrible torture technique" at that. McCain went on further to say that it is not debatable; it violates both U.S. statute and international treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory.

Newt? Go away. You aren't presidential. You're posturing. You're old guard, old, stupid guard who doesn't know that it's long past time to pack your toys and go way.

Here's a snippet from the interview:


A New Face Of Hate

With every step forward we, as a community struggling for equality, take, we are pushed back a little by bigotry and hatred. Sometimes we see the face of hate as a minister or priest, some right-wing politician, but hate also looks like this.


And it's name is this: Karl and Judy Schowengerdt
And this is what it says:



from the DesMoines Register
__________________________

This April marked our 47th wedding anniversary. My wife, Judy, and I have been blessed with an enduring love that has brought us through the ups and downs of nearly five decades together. We raised three wonderful children, and now enjoy being grandparents. Ours has in many ways been a storybook life.

The single most tragic event in our years together has been the untimely death of our oldest son, Randy. Our firstborn was a blessing that brought so much joy into our lives. He was extremely smart, he participated in extracurricular activities, graduated with many honors and went on to college. After college, he moved to Omaha and took a job. It was while he was living in Omaha that one of Randy's co-workers recruited him into the homosexual "lifestyle."

We loved our son as much as any parents have ever loved a son. Even when we became aware of his homosexuality, we assured him of our love. That is not to say that we condoned or accepted what we knew to be a dangerous "lifestyle," but we always maintained our relationship with the son we had raised and the man we prayed would be delivered from homosexuality.

When we discovered that Randy was sick, we invited him to come home to seek medical attention. We suspected the worst, but hoped for anything else. Either way, we wanted to help our son and see his health restored. We knew the tests would leave no doubt, but there simply are no words to describe the pain of hearing your firstborn say, "Dad, I'm HIV positive."

As a parent, nothing can prepare you for the loss of a child to a terminal illness. It's somehow worse when that illness resulted from your child's reckless decision and his own actions. Witnessing the daily physical deterioration of our son caused great pain and sadness to us as parents and on the extended family as well.

It was interesting to note that once Randy was diagnosed HIV positive, the homosexual community who had actively recruited him and had claimed to be his "family" were nowhere to be found. As his health declined, he spoke frankly about the homosexual experience. Randy said, "It is not an alternate lifestyle. It is a cult."

For years, my wife and I have watched the media and homosexual activists work together to redefine family and marriage in our society. The consistent message has been that homosexual "marriage" will hurt no one, and that those of us who support marriage only between one man and one woman will not be impacted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our hearts go out to people caught up in homosexuality. The destruction and pain that homosexuality leaves in its wake is deep and impacts so many more than just the individuals caught up in the activity. We now know several other couples who are struggling with a son who chose to engage in homosexuality. We know the pain they endure, and understand when they reach out for help. One person's homosexuality causes stress and strain on every friend and relative who truly cares about them.

For the Iowa Supreme Court to sanction homosexual "marriage" is to encourage and underwrite the negative results that naturally come from the homosexual "lifestyle." Aside from the physical destruction inflicted on those who practice homosexuality and the incredible stress homosexuals cause their extended families, society often pays a hefty price as well. Randy lost his job when he was no longer strong enough to work. With the loss of that job, he lost his ability to insure himself. As a result, you the taxpayer paid for more than $250,000 in medical bills for this one AIDS patient.

For those still uncertain about homosexual "marriage," please understand that the more accepting we are of homosexuality as a society, the more likely it is that your family, and society in general, will suffer the pain that ultimately results. Homosexuality took the life of our son. We oppose homosexuality and homosexual "marriage" in the hope that we might help another family avoid the pain that we have endured.
_______________________________

Sad that they live their lives in such hatred and ignorance. Sad that they made their own son feel "less than." Sad that they cannot see that homosexuality did not kill their son, a virus did that; the same virus that has killed children and women, straight and gay, and men, straight and gay. Homosexuality does not kill, but homophobia does.
Sad,

Hurt


It's midnight in Smallville and I was in bed a few minutes ago, listening to Carlos Breathe Right, but I cannot sleep, so here I am.

I received an interesting email from Carlos' aunt, Gloria, who lives in Mexico City; those of you who've been here awhile may remember her as the aunt who had a, shall we say, unpleasant stay here last fall. She and Carlos fought and words were exchanged and the last thing she said to either of us is that we would never see her again.

Well, times change, and the wounds of that last visit have healed. Carlos and his aunt talk all the time, and she and I email back and forth. I was glad about that because she has been so very important in Carlos' life, and, with my arrival in his life, mine, too.

The email she sent was in response to an email a friend of ours in Miami had sent her. Gloria talked about the swine flu epidemic in Mexico, and how many places are closed, from churches to Burger King. She told us about people wearing the masks in the street, and how you can't find masks anywhere anymore, so the soldiers stand on street corners giving them away. She doesn't sound too worried, but she is taking every precaution.

But Gloria is less computer knowledgeable than either Carlos or myself, so she sent her response to our friend in Miami to us as well. The only problem is that in her response was the original email our friend had sent her.

This friend starts off telling Gloria about the wonderful weather in Miami, the cool breezes, the low humidity, the fragrance of the gardens around her house, and then, she says this:
"Carlos reminded me the other day that he and Bob have been together for about 8 years. (actually it's nine years) I can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. I still think that Bob is not good enough for Carlos, but after 8 years, I have stopped hoping. You know what they say: We can't change other people; we can only change ourselves."
I felt my face flush and my heart began beating so fast. i was so angry, and then disappointed, and finally hurt, that she would say something like that to a woman i consider my aunt as well. And I stared at the email for a long long time, wondering what to do.

Anger I can handle. I have a sharp wicked tongue and know how to use it.

Disappointment I can deal with, because I speak my mind.

it's the hurt that I don't handle well.

This is a woman who has said to my face how glad she is that Carlos and I found each other; how lucky we are to have one another. This is a woman who has said to me time and again how good I am for Carlos. And, apparently, these were not the truth.

So, I sat, and stared at the email, wondering what to do, what to say. Carlos was asleep, but his aunt had sent her response to him as well, so i wondered if he'd read it and what he thinks. But that discussion is for the morning.

I finally decided I needed to write to this friend, and express myself. I held back the anger, though the hurt and disappointment came through, I think.

"Hello ____,Gloria made a small mistake when responding to your email in that she sent her response to both Carlos and myself, and I was quite shocked/disappointed/hurt that you would say this to her:
"I can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. I still think that Bob is not good enough for Carlos, but after 8 years, I have stopped hoping. You know what they say: We can't change other people; we can only change ourselves."
I'm sorry you feel this way. And sorry you felt the need to share it with Gloria.Bob"
I sent it and thought it would make me feel better, but the whole thing is keeping me awake. I'm not posting this for a Bash The Friend Pity Party; I'm not posting it to get back at her. I think I'm posting it to get it out me, and out in the atmosphere, and away from me.

Here's hoping it works.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Change Is Coming....Every Day


It's quite a shift, I'll say that.

While it was only a month ago that thirty-three percent of Americans favored marriage equality, the number has jumped to forty-two percent.

That is excellent news.

And even better news is that the numbers of people who say that Gay Americans should not be allowed marriage equality has fallen from 35% to 28%; twenty-five percent favor civil unions, which is still less than marriage equality.

I think people are waking up to the idea that marriage equality will not destroy civilization, it will not lessen traditional marriage, it will not be taught in schools, and it will not affect your right to freedom of religion.

This is a great shift, brought about, no doubt, by the victory for equality in Iowa and in Vermont. ..Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington D.C...and by politicians like David Patterson, Gavin Newson, Christine Todd Whitman and others for standing up for marriage equality.

It's a big step in a fight not yet over.

Make the Call


The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which is also called "The Matthew Shepard Act" will be up for a vote tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would amend the federal hate crimes law to include to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Right-wing-nuts are contacting congress at an alarming rate, calling the bill a "thought crimes bill" and flat out lying that this bill will somehow impede on their free speech rights.

It isn't about speech, it's about hate.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is asking all of us to take action by calling our representatives. It's easy to do; just call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and tell your representative's office:

* Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise. One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim’s sexual orientation.

* Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.

* The Matthew Shepard Act targets only violent acts--not speech. It does not tell any clergy member what he or she can or can’t preach.


It's about violence, not speech. If you want to call me names, and tell me what you think of me? G'head. But you do not have the right to harm me, simply because I'm gay.

They're Reading "I Should Be Laughing" In Iowa!

I received this email from Barb and Jess regarding my post about gay marriage in Iowa.

"As a bride about to be married here in Iowa, thanks for your blog. It is a well written piece. We appreciate the message is heard outside of Iowa... especially in your neck of the woods.
Its funny about the Hurley's quote "Hurley said, because most supporters of traditional marriage were “probably raising children, going to work.” Just after passage, he pointed to the fact that there were "no supporters" out there (like those that were there were non-entities), just protesters, and that must "mean something" (he could not tell us what).
Well, the reason was ... we were planning weddings man, not yappin' at the obvious... great post. Consider linking to our blog at IowaGayWeddingDirectory.com.
We are growing.

barb and Jess
founders of IowaGayWeddingDirectory.com"

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. One day soon, I think, we'll all be celebrating our marriages, and it will be no big deal at all.

And check out their site...whether you live in Iowa and want to get married, or you plan on travelling to Iowa and getting married.

Also, check out OneIowa.

Congraulations Iowans


More than 380 same-sex couples felt what it feels like to be equal yesterday in Iowa. They applied for, and were granted, marriage licenses under a state Supreme Court ruling that gave them marital rights equal to those of heterosexuals. And dozens of those applicants were granted waivers of Iowa’s traditional three-day waiting period and wed almost instantly. They were celebrated by friends and family in Iowa, and around the world.

Shelley Wolfe and Melisa Keeton, of Des Moines, were the first gay couple in Polk County to marry under the new ruling. Judge Karen Romano quickly agreed to waive the waiting period. The women have been together nearly three years and have a young son, Baxter, who played a part in a religious ceremony the women had in 2007. Melissa Keeton, who is pregnant with the couple's second child, said, “I’ve had a lot of medical issues. To me, it’ll be a lot less stressful because we’ll have legal rights. Really, today is about making it legal.”

And equal.

Wolfe and Keeton asked the Reverend Peg Esperanza of the Church of the Holy Spirit to officiate at their ceremony, which took place on the courthouse steps just two hours after they applied for a marriage license.

"Your lives, girls, have already been entwined as a loving unit. The contract of marriage is most solemn and is not to be entered into lightly but thoughtfully and seriously, with a deep realization of its obligations and its responsibility,” Esperanza said. “No other human ties are more tender, and no other vows more important than those that you are about to make today.”

But not all waivers were granted.

Tearese Bomar and Shamera Page requested a waiver, but it was turned down by Judge James Kelley, who would not comment on the decision, except to say the couple lacked the necessary emergency reason. The couple left dejected, but said they would try another judge. "I don’t believe he wanted us to get married today,” Tearese Bonner she said. “Why do we have to keep waiting when we’ve already waited long enough?”

Denny Schrock and Patrick Phillips-Schrock, a couple for five years, wore tuxedos to the recorder’s office in Des Moines. “I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime,” said Phillips-Schrock, 58, a retired school teacher. “It’s incredible. In Iowa, of all places.”

Indeed. In Iowa. Of all places. Marriage is equal.

Judge Monica Ackley in Dubuque granted waivers to four couples, saying she rarely denies the requests. “I pretty much knew I was OK with it,” she said. “This is a kind of circumstance of hope. When we can present that kind of atmosphere to the general public, I’m all for that.”

Lori Blachford and Karen Utke, her partner of 25 years, also received a marriage license. Speaking to the media, Blanchford first introduced Utke as “my friend,” before settling on “my Karen.” They have two sons, age 13 and 17, conceived with an anonymous sperm donor. “They’ve grown up with us just acting like a married couple and in a normal family,” Blachford said. “But they understand the legal issues. They realize the inequity. They don’t understand why we should be treated any different.” The couple plan to marry in the summer.

“It’s a little anti-climactic to us,” Blachford said. “Twenty-five years of married life, it kind of seems silly to organize a ceremony. But we’re thrilled to be able to do it.”

Ramona Brown and Neva Stewart waited until late afternoon to file for a marriage license at the Pottawattamie County recorder’s office in Council Bluffs. Of the 28 same-sex couples who applied there, they were the 11th from Nebraska. But they were the only African-Americans. “I don’t feel any different,” Stewart, said. “We’re in love and wanted to do this for a while.” The Omaha couple with four children will marry in June. They hope to adopt another child and maybe move to Des Moines.“We’ve got a lot of big plans,” Stewart said.

Monday was a bit of a letdown for the Reverend Susan Millett of Burlington, who had expected to marry some same-sex couples. “I was ready for it. I was in my rock ’n’ roll clothes,” said Millett, dressed in a red blazer, black pants and a polka-dot boutonniere. She has six same-sex weddings--it's so nice to say 'weddings' rather than 'commitment ceremonies'--scheduled through June.

Still, as much joy and love and equality that was felt in Iowa yesterday was matched by ignorance and bigotry and, well, downright stupidity.

Opponents of marriage equality delivered petitions that asked county recorders to withhold applications from same-sex couples “until such conflict between the Supreme Court’s opinion and the law is addressed by a vote of the people of Iowa.” Such a vote probably would not take place until at least 2012, under rules specifying how the Constitution can be amended.

Yet not one recorder refused to issue licenses Monday, although some had misgivings, and one stomped a bit and threatened to resign; but he didn't, and what does that say about him?

Chuck Hurley, a former legislator and head of the Iowa Family Policy Center, said, “I told them we would defend them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.” However, he would not identify the recorder threatening to quit.

Of course not. Hate works best when it's anonymous.

Protests were low-key, Hurley said, because most supporters of traditional marriage were “probably raising children, going to work.” Which is exactly what the gay couples would have been doing if marriage equality had existed all along.

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors--all Repugnants--unanimously passed a resolution Monday that asked lawmakers to move against marriage equality. “We expect the Iowa Legislature to resolve the issue,” said Stephen Burgmeier, chairman of the three-member board. “We hope it either leads to a public vote or to a constitutional amendment.”

But marriage equality foes have no legal options because they were not a part of the lawsuit and no federal issues were raised in the case. Their only recourse appears to be a push for a constitutional amendment and, again, it wouldn't be on the ballot until 2012 at the earliest.

The Iowa Legislature did not address the issue before lawmakers adjourned the 2009 session Sunday. “They ran right out of town,” said Bryan English, a spokesman for Hurley’s group.

Probably because they understand equality? Just sayin'.

Some people were less than thrilled Monday in Orange City, where a dozen opponents of gay marriage shivered on the steps of the Sioux County Courthouse and waited to hand over their petition.

“We just feel this type of judicial decision not only doesn’t reflect what most Iowans believe, but it’s also harmful to our state and to our country,” said Kurt Korver, an Orange City doctor. “If a neighborhood is filled with homosexual couples, you wouldn’t want to have kids in that neighborhood. The purpose of government is to restrain bad behavior for the good of society.”

Really? A doctor still thinks homosexuality is a threat to children. He still trots out the pedophile argument, really? The only threat to children is growing up in a family that wants to legislate hate, a family that will raise more bigots.

I think children and Iowans are smarter than that.

It Does Come Around


Karma.

What goes around comes around.

You hear a lot of people talk about it...Karma'll get you.....My Karma ran over my dogma...but do they really believe it? Do they know when it happens or does it slip in unnoticed and leave it's mark? And is it equal to the good/bad that they did in the first place?

I believe in karma. I believe that what you put out, good energy or negative energy, you'll get back. So, knowing that, do I always try to do the right thing, the good thing, the noble thing? Of course not. I'm human. I snap and curse and get pissed off, and say things I don't mean, and it comes back to me. Sometimes I recognize it, and sometimes I don't.

It's true what they say: Karma is a bitch.

But this isn't about me, it's about someone I work with, or used to work with.

This woman had the moral character of plywood...in that she had no moral character whatsoever. She was nice, I guess, funny, I suppose, friendly, at times, but she was the kind of girl who, as I am apt to say, looked like she'd been rode hard and put away wet. And a personality to boot.

Plus, she was a thief on top of all that. She was caught stealing at work one day, and in an instant she was gone. Word spread like Swine Flu that she'd been caught stealing and was fired. The villagers rejoiced and a new day dawned. The little people came out from beneath their toadstools and sang a song about her demise. Life was good.

The next day she was back. Apparently, the people I work for only require a few tears and an apology for stealing and then you keep your job. Call me crazy, but don't people get arrested for stealing, and this bitc....woman....gets to keep her job? And to make matters worse, she begins to brag that she stole from the company and her repayment consisted of: I'm sorry.

I'm sorry, too.

I'm sorry I stood next to her a few days later when she told a co-worker about her stay-of-execution, and listened to her brag about how she could literally do whatever she wanted and no one would say a word. Then she looked at me, and said, You, too.

Me, too, what?

You could get away with stealing because they love you around here.

And the other co-worker said, They like you so much they'd probably hold the door open for you as you ransacked the place.

I said, Maybe they would, but, see, here's the difference between you and me. I. Would., Not. Steal.

That put a damper on the chat. And for the next few weeks I avoided sticky fingers and her moll like the plague. If they were in a room, I left; if they came into a room, I left. I told my boss that I'd lost the lone iota of respect--that's a joke--for him because he hadn't fired her, but I respected that it was his business, his decision.

Fast forward about three weeks, and Sticky Fingers is a raging bitch about how she needs to leave work. She paces and stomps and sneers, telling anyone and everyone within earshot that she has to go. She ignores a client and walks outside for a cigarette. Finally, a supervisor follows her outside; he's gone about ten seconds before he's back in the building asking me to take care of her client.

She was fired.

Karma. I thought you'd forgotten her.

This Week In Holy Crimes from Joe.My.God.


Joe.My.God. publishes his list every week, but it's definitely worth sharing. Not because I think all church officials are pigs, but to remind people that they are human and subject to the same frailties as all of us, so please, do not hold them up, place them on a pedestal, or forget for one moment that they're human.

On with the list:


Indiana: Salvation Army Pastor Jonathan Hartman arrested for molesting three girls, youngest was 13, one is pregnant.

Alabama: Pastor Randall Pardue arrested for securities fraud.

California: Rev. Arcadio Larry Pineda and wife sued by congregation for embezzling over $100K.

North Carolina: Bishop Anthony Linwright charged with tax evasion, mail fraud, perjury for evading hundreds of thousands in income tax while driving a $175K Bentley.

California: Pastor Allen Harrod sentenced to life in prison for multiple charges of interstate transportation of minors for sexual activity.

New York: Father Steven Valenta charged with sexual assault on adult female family member.

Mexico: Father Rafael Muñiz Lopez arrested in bust of kiddie porn ring.

South Dakota: Pastor Timothy Stewart busted as peeping Tom.

Indiana: Pastor Chester Mulligan pleads guilty to stalking the 14 year-old girl he'd allegedly been fucking.

Arkansas: Pastor David Pierce arrested for sexual indecency with a minor.

.Delaware: Pastor Timothy J. McDorman charged with rape of 16 year-old and possession of child pornography.

This week's winner:

Maryland: Pastor Kevin Jerome Pushia charged with murder-for-hire for putting a hit out on the blind and disabled man in his care. Pushia allegedly used $50K in church funds to pay for the murder so that he could collect the victim's life insurance settlement. Lemuel Wallace was found dead in a park restroom with multiple gunshot wounds. A notation in Pastor Pushia's daily planner read that day: "L.W. project completed."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Heal Me Jesus....Them Gays Want Equality


It was like a good old revival meetin' up there in Maine last week as the debate raged over whether or not gay Americans should be treated equally or not. Both sides of the issue--the right side and the wrong side--raised their voices, some to Heaven, others to the audience, trying to get their messages out. One message was for acceptance and equal rights, while the other message was one of hatred and bigotry couched behind pulpits and collections plates, arguments as old as time and just plain ignorance.

There were gay couples reduced to begging for the right to have their unions recognized, while those in favor of anti-gay-equality told stories of damnation and hellfire, the fracturing of society.

Other voices:

“This bill is fair. This bill’s time has come...It recognizes the worth and dignity of every man and every woman among us.”
--Democratic Senator Dennis Damon who sponsored the bill.

“We speak in opposition to same-sex marriage because we are deeply concerned about the institution of marriage itself - in this state, and in this nation.”
--Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone.

Our forefathers would be ashamed that we are gathered here today to discuss this horrendous issue. Do not make the decision of not voting on it and passing it back to the Maine people as a lame way of getting out of your responsibilities.”
--Reverend David Adams of the First Baptist Church of West Gardiner.

“Jesus led a life of doing justice. We are called to do the same."
--Reverend Deborah Davis Johnson of Immanuel Baptist Church of Portland, a Baptist church in favor of equality.

“The (law) will not will not affect my relationship with my God.”
--Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.

“More than 40 years ago, even people here in Maine told us it was wrong to get married. People say the same thing now about gay and lesbian couples. It was wrong 40 years ago, and it’s wrong now.”
--Robert Talbot, a black man from Bangor who is married to a white woman.

Same-sex marriage is an impossible situation for children, and I think our culture and our state will suffer as a result of adoption of this legislation.”
--Howard Allen.

As you can see, some voices told the simple truth about equality, and doing what is fair and right; other's told stories as old and dusty as time itself. One man spoke from his own personal experience, and another gave us rhetoric without reason.

It's simple: Equality.

A Truly Compassionate President


"To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened, who perpetrate every form of intolerance -- racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more -- hatred that degrades its victim and diminishes us all. Today and every day we have an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to confront these scourges. To fight the impulse to turn the channel when we see images that disturb us, or wrap ourselves in the false comforts that others' sufferings are not our own…"
--President Barack Obama

Accountability...Plain & Simple


David S Broder has written a piece for the Washington Post stating that President Obama should "stick to his guns" and not prosecute those guilty of instituting and instigating torture.

Bush. Cheney. Rumsfeld. Rice. Those guilty ones.

Really? Let them off the hook when they took this country and dragged it through the mud, all the while touting our moral superiority, and saying that they are our protectors from the mighty Axis of Evil? Just say, You shouldn't have done that, George, Dick, Don and Condi, and shake an index finger at them? Really?

I wonder how those men who were tortured all day every day would feel about that? Their friends and families? Their countries? All those men that were accused of something but never charged, never tried, never convicted, but were nonetheless subjugated to waterboarding and humiliation at the hands of the Good Old US of A.

We cannot, in good conscience, walk the world with our head held high while we're treating people as less than human. Would we, as a country, stand for that, for even a nanosecond, if that same torture and degradation were being inflicted on our citizens in some prison camp on the far side of the globe? Of course we wouldn't, so we shouldn't have been doing it ourselves.

Broder makes the argument that it will be the "underlings" at the White House, CIA, and the Justice Department, that will bear the brunt of prosecution for the torture. It won't be Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, as it should be. But then he makes the most amazing statement of all. He says, and I quote, "if he is at all a man of honor, George W. Bush would feel bound to say: That was my policy. I was the president. If you want to indict anyone for it, indict me."

Yeah. That'll happen.

If Bush had been a man of honor, even a man with one iota of honor, we wouldn't have tortured one single person in the first place.

So, I disagree with Broder. I say go after those who instigated and ordered torture, not the ones who simply followed orders from their superiors, but from the so-called superiors themselves. Let's show the world, and our own country, that this kind of administration is not who we are, what we are, nor what we will be, it's is merely the remnants of one of the darkest, dirtiest ages in US history.

You can read David Broder's piece HERE

Today Is The Day


Today is the day when marriage equality happens in Iowa. Today same-sex couples can join the rest of Americans in making their unions legal and recognized.
To all the grooms-and-grooms and brides-and-brides, Congratulations!

MaxGoldberg Monday

They say pets are just like children, the trouble they get into....
Makes me kinda glad I don't have children--of the two-legged variety.

Monday Morning Music

There aren't better ways to start a work week than listening to Judy Garland.

Clang-clang-clang!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Should Be Laughing: Beach Baseball


“Hey! C’mon Seaton! You’re up!”

Leaping off the railing, Jimmy hustled over the sand toward the flattened piece of driftwood the boys called ‘home plate’. After searching the pile of bats on the ground for his favorite, he grabbed it up and bounced it on the sole of his shoe like he had seen the pros do on TV. Mostly, however, he did it because the bat was sweaty and sand stuck to it.

“C’mon Jimmy!”

Settling in at home plate, he wiggled the Louisville Slugger behind his right ear and looked arrogantly into the outfield. All his friends, even Frankie Bishop, not really a friend but the best ball player in school, moved back toward the wetter, flatter sand. The last time Jimmy had been at bat, he sent the very first pitch sailing into the surf.

Facing him from the top of a slight sand dune the boys had formed earlier in the day, Marty Grundy wound up. Holding the ball close to his chest, he lifted his left leg and, in-a-flash, his right arm flew behind his head and then forward, letting the ball loose. Wiggling the bat once more, for good luck, Jimmy stepped forward a half step. He swung hard, eyes glued to the ball, and clipped a piece of it, not enough to hurl it into the sea, but enough to launch it toward the rickety stairs that climbed from the beach to the row of fast houses on the cove road.

Smirking, Jimmy smacked the bat against his shoe again, and then tugged at the bill of his cap, for added luck. He looked toward the stairs as Clark Morgan’s little brother ran after the ball; Joey was a good kid, but screamed like a banshee if the boys didn’t let him chase foul balls. Scampering under the stairs, Joey captured the ball, hands, then crawled out on his belly and tore across the sand, holding it aloft like the flame on Lady Liberty. Tripping, he fell face first onto the ground, instantly righted himself and took off running. “I’m okay,” Joey shouted every time he fell—and he fell every time. “I’m okay.”

While waiting for the game to resume, Jimmy stared around the field at his friends, boys mostly, though a few girls were good enough to play, that made up for the family he had lost, that family that lost him. It had been over three years since Harry left, and Renny had been gone…. well, she’d been gone as long as he could remember. So Jimmy turned to his friends for the sense of family he never knew; they gathered every Friday after school, and most Saturdays during the summer, for a game of baseball. The games were so popular that friends and relatives of the team would sit on the stairs, on the benches behind the fast houses, or bring towels to the beach, to watch them play. With no Little League in Beal’s Landing, these beach games were the next best thing.

As Joey tossed the ball back to Marty, Jimmy studied the fans that had come out that day. Most of them had heard, no doubt from their own kids, that Jimmy Seaton was the best ballplayer on the coast. He loved standing at the plate, or at shortstop, and hear the shouts from the cliffs—“Go Jimmy!” “Hit it outta here, Jim!”—but someone new was on the stairs today, working her way down to the sand; someone who never came to the beach games because she never, ever, left the house. Jimmy squinted at the fuzzy pale pink shape on the stairs. It was her, he thought; terrycloth slippers on her feet, housecoat flapping open to reveal the filmy nightgown she wore everyday and, now apparently, everywhere.

“Hey Missus Seaton,” Joey yelled, confirming Jimmy’s fears, as he raced back to the sidelines to await the next foul ball. All eyes turned toward Barbara Seaton; most of them had never seen her, though they had all heard about her; their interest was peaked. Jimmy couldn’t move; he stared at his mother, tottering uneasily down the jagged stairway. What was she doing…she never left home…Why would she…..

“Seaton?” Terry Shoemaker, the catcher, hissed. “You playin’ today or what?”

Nodding sickly, Jimmy resumed his stance, yet the sight of his mother coming to the beach so unsettled him that he forgot to tap the bat on his shoe like the pros; he didn’t tug the bill of his cap either. He hunched over the plate, trying to keep one eye on Marty and one on his mother, the bat jerking awkwardly behind his ears.

Marty wound up, ready to heave the ball at Jimmy, who couldn’t stop looking at his mother, in that tattered housecoat and see-through nightgown, nearing the bottom step. He felt the whoosh of the ball as it sailed right through the strike zone; the perfect pitch for him, low and outside. He could have sent that one sailing to 'Frisco if it weren’t for—

“Strike!” Terry shouted in his ear. “Strike two, Seaton!”

”I heard you, Shoemaker!” Jimmy barked. He turned back to see his mother step onto the last landing; it was a straight shot to the beach, just twenty steps or so and she would be among his friends. Closing his eyes, he tried to concentrate; he hunkered over the plate and waved the bat in the air, then brought it down solidly against his shoe. He jerked the cap low over his eyes and noticed the outfielders were moving closer …like his mother. Jimmy raised the bat and glared at Marty Grundy.

The next pitch was wild, veering away from Jimmy and floating high above his head and Terry Shoemaker’s outstretched arm. It rolled down the beach where the surf gobbled it up and hurled it back onto the sand. The pitch was wild because someone screamed just as Marty was about to let go of the ball. Everyone stopped, turning toward the shrieking, and Jimmy saw his mother lying in a heap on the bottom step. Dropping the bat, but unable to move, he watched everyone else race to her side; friends sped across the sand, parents raced down the stairs, strangers gawked from benches behind the fast houses. Other than Barbara Seaton, Jimmy was the only one not moving.

The crowd of the curious gathered around Barbara, crumpled on the weather-beaten wooden steps. Her housecoat was undone, her nightgown rose high on her thighs, exposing the fact that she wasn’t wearing underwear. Mothers shooed their kids away; fathers tried not to stare. One woman leaned down to Barbara, who lay there, with her eyes closed and her hands folded across her breasts, laughing.

Howling crazily, surrounded by Jimmy’s friends, and the mother’s and father’s of his friends, and the strangers who had driven over to the coast to watch the ball game and were now being treated to a show of a different kind, Barbara flopped lazily on the bottom step, half-naked, and laughing insanely, making no move to cover up. Befuddled, and unable to move at all, Jimmy stared from home plate; he studied her face, all contorted and red, and dripping with tears of laughter, then looked into the shocked eyes of his friends and their parents, the strangers, who stood beside Barbara, not knowing what to do.

Finally, one of the women, Jimmy would later learn it was Frankie Bishop’s mother because whenever she saw him in town after that day she would always look away, helped Barbara sit up and pulled the filmy nightgown down over her knees. The other adults now began to move closer, asking if she needed anything; should an ambulance be called? Did she need a ride back to Skeleton Road? The kids on the sand, their interest already on the wane, began to drift away, huddling in groups and giggling nervously.

Jimmy faced the mob of kids, his friends when the game started, but now drifting into an all-together different direction. Marty Grundy, back on the mound where everyone could see him, held his hand to his mouth, curling the fingers into his palm and sticking his thumb out; he titled his head back and began guzzling from an invisible bottle. Soon all the other kids were mimicking Marty, and their parents, the same ones who were helping his mother, reprimanded their children, even though they couldn’t hide their own smiles; they started to laugh along with the kids who were Jimmy’s friends only moments earlier.

“Quite a mother you got there, Jimbo!” Somebody yelled, and another voice, rising from the surf, agreed. “Nobody light a match near Seaton’s mother!”

“You on the sauce, too, Jimbo?”

“I guess that’s why he struck out.” Someone laughed.

“Hey Jimbo? Bottle up!”

“Jimbo…Jimbo…Jimbo…” The chanting commenced, drowning out the tide, until someone, one of his former friends though he would never find out whom, started shouting, “Jim Beam.” All at once, those kids who used to be his friends, who fought to have him on their teams, began calling him Jim Beam. In a matter of seconds, it became Beam.

“C’mon Beam,” Terry Shoemaker shouted as Jimmy…as Beam…headed down the sand toward home. For Jimmy, the game was over.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

We'll Miss You Old Friend


Bea Arthur died today.

Bea Arthur.

God, I loved her. As Maude. As Dorothy. As Vera Charles. As Bea Arthur.

She was, what my grandmother would call, a pistol. She was her own woman, funny as hell, smart as a whip, with a voice that could carve grooves into granite.

But she went peacefully, and that's good; surrounded by her family, and that's good, too.

Carlos and I had the pleasure of seeing her one-woman show in Ft Lauderdale a few years back and she was fantastic. Funny, self-deprecating; singing, laughing, sharing recipes. She was a true gem.

A true Golden Girl.

As Maude she spoke for a generation of women who'd never before has a voice.
I admired her.

As Dorothy she was mother and child, and piss and vinegar and sweetness and light.

I adored her.

As Vera Charles she was the best Bosom Buddie a gal, or gay man, could have.

She was spectacular.

And she's with Sophia now, threatening with Shady Pines.

Bea Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City, and by age 12 she was five-feet-nine, and not quite the petite blond ingenue she dreamed of being. But she took advantage of her height and that voice; she played the male roles in the school plays.

She moved to new York and began working in theatre and that lead to television and Maude and Dorothy and great great memories. She was in the original company of Fiddler On The Roof and, of course, Mame, opposite Angela Lansbury. She took home the Tony for her portrayal of Vera Charles. But she might best be known as Maude and Dorothy, women who said it like it was, took no prisoners and damned the torpedoes. I wanted to be Dorothy and Maude and Vera. I wanted to speak my mind and cut through the crap with a quip and a one-liner.

So, in tribute to Bea, I'd like to tell a story she told in her one-woman show. I'll paraphrase because I don't know it verbatim, but you'll get the gist:


A woman is invited by her son John to visit him in New York and she makes the trip. She finds her handsome son living with an equally handsome man named Michael. She spends a week with them and watches how Michael and John interact and she wonders about their relationship. One day she decides to ask John and he cuts her off, saying Michael is a roommate and nothing more. She leaves it at that and heads home.

A week later she gets a letter from John. He says:

"Dear Mom,
We haven't been able to find the silver gravy ladle that we used when you were here. Now, I'm not saying you took the gravy ladle and I'm not saying you didn't take the gravy ladle. All I'm saying is that we haven't seen it since you left.
Love John"

A week later John received the following reply.

"Dear John,
I'm not saying that you and Michael are lovers, and I'm not saying that you aren't lovers. All I'm saying is that if Michael had been sleeping in his own bed you would have found the gravy ladle by now.
Love Mom"

Rest well Bea, and travel in peace. You left us with thoughts and joy and laughter. What a remarkable gift you were, and are, and will forever be.

An Abuse Of Taxpayer Money By The Not-So-Great State Of Alabama


There are people around the country who make fun of Alabama. Right or wrong, they say it's one of the more backwards states in the union. Hillbillies, rednecks, morons, all live there. That's what some say, and, I'll admit, I've done my share of Alabama bashing. But now we have good reason to wonder if Alabama isn't the sharpest knife in America's kitchen drawer.

See, the Alabama House has approved a resolution that praises Carrie Prejean, a Miss USA wannabe-that-never-was,
for speaking out against gay marriage.

Yes, with all that is going on in this country, banks failing, people losing their homes, their jobs, their lives, torture, bullied children killing themselves, hate crimes, Alabama took time out of it's busy day to praise Carrie Prejean.

Poor Carrie Prejean goes on TV to whine and cry that she should have won, would have won except....and that gave Repugnant Representative Jay Love all the ammo he needed to urge the Alabama State Government to pass a resolution praising a beauty queen.

Seriously, Alabama, you haven't got anything better to do?