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I wonder if the people who go to Las Vegas know that the United States is facing an economical challenge. I also wonder if they know and understand that people are not supposed to have money to burn. I only ask this because I’ve seen a whole lot of people throwing money into machines and on tables and at scantily clad women while I’ve been in Las Vegas the past few days.

If I were not a person who read or watched television and only based my knowledge of the condition of the American economy on what I have seen the past two days; I would honestly assume that we were the richest nation on earth, we have no poor or homeless, everyone had jobs, everyone was secure, and everyone had hundreds and hundreds of dollars to just give away.

I sat with a group of older gentlemen this afternoon who were a-waitin for their “women-folk.” Yes, they actually did call them their “women-folk.” We were all in this amazing Parisian bakery inside the Paris Hotel and Casino.  I was eating this chocolate twist that made me want to do a little happy dance, as it was almost as wonderful as the one I had when we were really in Paris, France.  I was totally enjoying the decadence of it all without one ounce of guilt, when these gentlemen asked if they could use the extra chairs at my little table.

They were from Alabama, and they wanted to sit and wait for their “women-folk” who were shopping, would I mind if they just “sat a spell?”  How could I possibly refuse?

The liberal lesbian from California with three white men from Alabama with their “God Bless America” baseball hats, their fanny packs, and their “Bama” t-shirts.  What on earth could possibly go wrong?

Had I won any money they asked?  Yes, I had won a little right here in the Paris Casino.  What was I playing? The nickel Wheel of Fortune machine. Was I in Las Vegas on vacation? Yes, I suppose I was. Was I with my husband? No, I wasn’t married.  “A pretty little thing (which sounds like thang in that southern drawl) like you?”  “I just caint believe a man hasn’t laid claim to you.”

Now – at this particular point in time – I wondered if I really needed to make my gay-marriage, gay-rights stump speech.  Did I really need to attack these 3 old white southern men who were simply a-waitin for their women-folk? Would it make a difference? Would they even understand what I was a-sayin?

They didn’t give me any time to answer them as they started drinking their Parisian coffee and talking politics amongst themselves.  I started to eat my chocolate twist a little faster as I was sure the Republican rhetoric was going to force me from the table. I was thinking of what liberal comment I could make before leaving the table, and what gay image I could leave with them. I was preparing my little speech in my head when I heard one of them say: “I sure hope The President shows that Romney a thang or two in the debates. That poor white boy don’t stand a chance.”

I must have had this look of total shock on my face as these 3 men looked at me and apologized if they had offended me.  I told them that I was not offended on any level and I apologized to them for just assuming they were white, southern Baptist, racist, homophobic men from Alabama.  They roared with laughter and said that no they indeed were not, but their “women-folk” most certainly would fit that description!

I sat with these three men for another 45 minutes and we talked about more things than I could ever write on paper.  These men were sweet and funny and knew the ways of the world. They hated the south of the 1960’s and never agreed with the whole slavery thang. They aren’t fans of the Rebel flag, they don’t like re-hashing the Civil War, they believe in the freedom of and from religion and don’t believe it has any place in government. They think Paul Ryan looks like Eddie Munster and they called Mitt Romney: “Milk-Toast.” I’m not exactly sure, but I don’t think it was a positive thang.

They do not like Chick-Fil-A, they love, love, love college football and confirmed for me that football in the south truly is a religion. These men were WWII veterans, and their voices changed when they spoke of their service to this Country during WWII.  War has a way of defining the people who fight in it, and live to tell the tale. Their eyes filled with tears and they spoke softly of buddies who never came home and they told me that some 70 years later they have never really come to terms with the men they were told to kill. Indeed – war changes people.

I wanted to stay and meet the “women-folk” but I somehow knew that I would have absolutely nothing in common with these women, so I hugged each of these men, and went on my way.  I stopped at a bench, pulled out my journal, and wrote down everything I could remember from the past 45 minutes. It was like taking notes during a college lecture on history, religion, philosophy, sports, politics and human nature all in one course!

I will smile every time I watch an Alabama football game knowing that these three men are somewhere together cheering on their Crimson-Tide.  I will forever be grateful for their honesty, their kindness and the lessons learned in that Parisian Bakery in the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  The jackpot I hit with these three men was far better than any I could have hit from a slot machine.

Roll Tide!

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This election is one of these moments in time when you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask the reflection you see just what it is you believe in.

You have to ask yourself if you want to keep perpetuating the anger and hate and blame and bigotry and homophobia, or do you want to rise above that and vote for acceptance and tolerance and citizenship.

There are a great many people in our country who will choose the path of hate, and hate is really is what it’s all about. If you ask any of the Mitt Romney supporters what he plans on doing about the tax policy, they can’t tell you. They can’t tell you because they don’t know. They don’t know because Romney doesn’t know. He has been real clear about not revealing his plan until after the election. Think about that: You have no clue how he will reform the tax policy – and then think of what sort of mind-set it would take to cast a vote for this man.

Mitt won’t discuss abortion – but you know that he was once pro-abortion and is now pro-life. But don’t ask him or his wife – they won’t discuss it because that isn’t what this election is about. Mitt is for an amendment to the Constitution to make marriage be between a man and a woman – but don’t ask him or his wife any questions about that — they won’t discuss it because it isn’t what this election is about. Mitt’s economic plan is to give more tax breaks to the rich and raise taxes on the middle class. Do you know his plan for Afghanistan? Do you know what his foreign policy is all about? Ask yourself what exactly it is you do know about this man – other than what he is against, which is: gays, women, Medicare and Social Security.

If you really know nothing about Romney and his plan for America, one must ask oneself, am I voting for Romney or am I just voting against President Barack Obama? And if you say yes to the later, then you must ask yourself why it is you are voting against President Obama? Is it the economy? Is it the whole gay-marriage thing? Is it his belief that a woman has the absolute right to equal pay? Is it his belief that a woman should make her own choice when it comes to abortion? Is it his stand on Afghanistan? Is it because he bailed out the auto industry? Is it his decision to kill Osama Bin Laden? Is it the fact that he ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and gave gays and lesbians the freedom to serve their country openly? Or, is it simply the color of his skin?

One cannot ignore the race question when it comes to this election. I’ve seen too many websites filled with racist cartoons and hate-filled rhetoric for me not to believe that we are still a nation filled with bigots who believe that gays, women and people of a certain color and religion have their place and need to be kept there.

Sadly, the Republican Party plays on that with their anti-gay, non-Christian-baiting, women-hating, “let them eat cake” platform. The folks who don’t know Wall Street from Main Street only know that this is the party that validates their hatred of gays, women and religions they don’t understand.

This is the party to associate yourself with if you want to own guns you don’t need, and have enough ammunition to kill whoever and whatever you want a hundred times over. This is the party to cling to if you want to blame everyone but yourself for what you perceive to be wrong in America.

Mitt and his party will take us down the road of hate, bigotry and towering fences at our borders. The poor will get poorer and the middle class will be no longer. You’ll have to leave the country to find a job, and anything with the stamp “Made in America” will be called nostalgia.

My fellow travelers in the gay community, our time is now. Our time is now to stand and be counted. Our time is now for you to be proud of who you are as a person and who we are as a community. Our time is now to vote as if our future depends on it, for it most surely does.

Vote!

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Our son informed us last night that he wasn’t going to vote in November.  Apparently he’s disgusted with everything and everyone, and he’s just not voting. I could see Susan’s head start to explode and then I saw her change her tactics – she went full-out for that whole Mother guilt thing. That – do it for your gay mother thing – and the do it for your mother who is going to be 71 thing – to the make that my birthday present thing – and it ended up being the: “Oh Brendan – you have to vote, you just have to” thing…

One would have to know our son to understand how surprising this “I’m not voting” statement is.  He’s compassionate and caring and believes in his soul that he is his brother’s keeper. He will talk with great fervor about liberal politics and has little or no tolerance for this gay-bashing, hate-filled, religious right of the Republican Party.

He also has little or no tolerance for what he believes to be wrong with the Democrats – hence his decision to not vote in November.

I understand that everyone has the choice whether or not to vote in this or any election. I also understand his disgust with all parties involved in this debacle that is November’s election.  I’ve been there.

The thing is – if you don’t vote – then you have given up your voice.  You may think – Oh Barb – I don’t have a voice anyway, no one cares, no one listens, no one gives a damn.  Okay – but don’t you care about your voice?

When you give up your voice the people you dislike most in this world – they win. They have beaten you; they have succeeded in shoving their agenda so far down your throat that you’ve given up your voice to them.

The fight for freedom is never, ever easy and the fight for what is right and just is never going to be agreed on – ever.  There will always be the choice for you to make between good and evil. Now, what you consider to be good others may consider to be evil, which is why every vote counts, every vote.

The choice in this election is really quite clear. The Republicans laid out their vision of what they want the United States to be in their Platform.  No abortions – no exceptions. No gay marriage – no gay civil unions. You can carry your guns – and use them – anywhere. No taxing the rich – raise taxes on the middle class – vouchers for Medicare – prayer in public school – the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and of our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage – it goes on and on and on and on… read it for yourself :  http://www.scribd.com/doc/104221532/2012-Gop-Platform

For those of us in the gay community and for those who love and support those of us in the gay community – your choice is an easy one.  All you have to do is read what they believe about gays and lesbians having the right to marry.

  • …We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.
  • Preserving and Protection Traditional Marriage
  • The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by  both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college,are physically and emotion-ally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engagein crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals. Furthermore,the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of  family  formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. We recognize andhonor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many  burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote throughlaws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

To all my friends and all the friends of gays and lesbians everywhere – please consider the importance of your vote. Consider all that you have – and all that the gay community doesn’t have, and all that the Republicans don’t ever want us to have.  Mostly – I want you to remember that it’s about respect and validation that we are simply Americans wanting to live the American dream of family…

So, to my son and to all the sons and daughters of gays and lesbians in this United States of America – if for no other reason than the fact that you love your Mothers and Fathers and want them to live in a County that no longer treats them as vile, undeserving, second-class citizens…

Please let your voice be heard – Please Vote.

Love,

Mom

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I read a comment on an article I had written about the Romney / Ryan ticket and their stand on their opposition to gay marriage.

   marriage IS about religion. If you don’t care about God why would you care about being married? Most people get married in a CHURCH, and then a preacher              wont marry them because it goes against what the Bible says.

I don’t know if this person is gay or straight, but they left a few other comments that showed their bias when it comes to issues that affect the gay community.  Let me enlighten this person and others who may be confused on the subject of marriage…

Marriage in the United States of America is NOT about religion.  The act of getting married to someone is not a religious act. It’s not based on any religion, any Bible, any book, any belief, any potion, any leader, nothing. One does not have to be religious to get married, and religious leaders do not have to preside over a marriage ceremony to make a marriage legal.  Religion has no legal influence on any marriage. You do not have to hear: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church: which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence…” to have your marriage be legal.

To be legally married in the United States you need a government-issued marriage license and a certificate of marriage. Period. This has nothing to do with religion – nothing. You can argue that it should have everything to do with religion if you’d like, but legally, it has nothing to do with marriage.

See the beauty of the First Amendment to the Constitution is that it prohibits the government from telling the many religious sects what the meaning of marriage is, AND it also stops the many religious sects from telling the government what the meaning of marriage is.  Well – allegedly, that’s what it was set up to do. This is where the problem begins and ends when it comes to marriage. – Religion.

I understand that there are some churches that do not now, and will never allow the concept of gay marriage to enter through their doors. Fine, I get that. I’ll leave you to worship whatever you chose to worship, I won’t try and close you down or picket outside your doors or give millions of dollars to politicians to keep you from your Constitutional rights as an American.  I’m not saying you have to accept gay marriage – I’m saying you have no legal right to ban it.

You don’t have to care about God, or even believe in a God to care about marriage.  If you need religion in your life to get you through the days and nights of what the world throws at you, then by all means you have the freedom to have your religion. Worship whatever god you believe sustains you and carry on with your life. Just try to understand that not everyone has to believe as you do, and live as you do.  However,  if your god and your pastor/priest/whatever doesn’t teach tolerance, understanding and loving one another, you might want to regroup and look elsewhere for your inner peace.

My partner Susan has been my wife in my heart for 30 years. She always has been, always will be.  Her children are my children, her grandchildren, my grandchildren.  We share a home, and all that goes with the daily struggle to survive.  We’ve been there for each other through the death of parents, friends, a grandchild, and pets. We’ve had good times, and bad times, we argue, we laugh, we cry, but mainly – we just love each other a little more every day.  Organized religion turned their back on us, so we looked inward and found our peace and our balance in the everyday living of life.

We have lived our life together without the benefit of a marriage license or a marriage certificate because here in the State of California millions of dollars were spent by the churches – Mormon and others – to make sure we couldn’t get married. They didn’t want us to ruin the sanctity of marriage… Well, we’re still together, so the churches have to keep fighting…

Marriage is about so much more than religion – so much more…

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Now that the Chick-Fil-A dust has settled a bit, do we all understand what the whole boycott thing was all about?

If you are saying; Religion – you would be correct.  If you are saying; Free Speech – you would also be correct.  If you’re screaming; Gay-Bashing – you would be correct. If you’re saying; Politics – you would be correct. If you’re screaming out loud; it was the Evangelical Christians – you would be correct.

This was about everything – except the chicken…

And what did we learn?  Well, we learned that the evangelical Christians of the Republican Party can pull their folks out of every little nook and cranny of this United States of America when it comes to bashing the queers.

We also learned that supporting a company who donates money to organizations that support the killing of gays in Uganda is far more important than human rights and respect in the United States of America.

We also learned that the American people are lazy. They don’t want to know the facts, they don’t want to be educated, they don’t want to have to discern the truth in anything.  They just believe what they are told by their pastors, and their political leaders as to what they perceive to be “the truth.”

What I know is this.  This was never about whether or not Chick-fil-A discriminates – for they most surely do not discriminate at the counter.  I was treated like gold when I used to go there. They were most happy to take my money with a smile and a “my pleasure.”    It’s where my money goes after it leaves the cash register that is the problem.

Dan Cathy – the owner of Chick-Fil-A – can say anything he chooses about gay marriage and he can stand on a mountain top and preach his gay-hating religion to the hordes of waffle fry eaters who will stand in line to listen and follow him until his maker comes to take him home, for that is his First Amendment right as an American.  However – when he takes Chick-Fil-A Company money and gives said money to organizations that support hate, discrimination, bigotry and in some cases the killing of people well, then he has crossed over the line of free speech. That’s more along the lines of hate-speech and that is not protected by the Constitution. That’s what this was all about.

See, it was never, ever about the chicken, it’s about what it’s always about.  This is an election year and nothing brings out that evangelical republican vote more than gays, guns and god.  It’s what I used to call the hater vote, and can now be known as the chicken vote.

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There are a myriad of reasons that I could never, ever push the little button beside Mitt Romney’s name in this November’s election for President of the United States of America. Here, in no particular order,  are my top 10 reasons.

     1. He’s a Mormon…

Now, I know that religion should not play any role in politics, but, since the Republicans insist on praying and bringing God into every little thing… I’m going to evoke my privilege as an American Citizen, and say that Mormons have spent millions of dollars trying to keep “The Gays” in their place. Therefore,  this Gay American will never vote for any Mormon. I don’t care if he wears special underwear, I won’t vote for him.

   2. He wants to defund Planned Parenthood…

It’s too much for my head to even comprehend – cutting women’s access to birth control and health care.  Seriously?

 3. He wants to repeal Roe vs. Wade…

My feeling is this: If you don’t want an abortion – don’t have one.  Just because you may not want one doesn’t give you the right to prevent women from having the freedom of making that hard choice.

4. He would put more judges on the Supreme Court in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Alito and Thomas…

This should put the fear of God in every independent thinker in America, and  send you to the polls to vote against this man.

    5. He would promote a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman…

I’m a Lesbian – I think that pretty much sums that reason up!

 6. He’s out of touch. 

He doesn’t know how many Cadillac’s his wife drives…  I’m thinking if you can’t keep track of your cars, how could you possibly keep track of, or even begin to care about, the homeless, the unemployed, or any of the other disadvantaged, lost souls trying to survive on nothing.

 7. He hasn’t had a job since he didn’t run for re-election as Governor of MA in 2006. 

Well, I suppose his job has been running for President and raising money for fellow Republicans, but… As far as holding down any sort of job, he hasn’t had one. I’ve heard he’s a businessman, but I surely don’t see him doing any of the business, if you know what I mean.

8. He’s a Flip-Flopper…

Abortion – He once believed that abortion should be safe and legal – Now he’s firmly pro-life.

Reaganomics –  When he ran for the Senate he stayed away from Ronald Reagan and his so-called economic policies. Now – he wants to “win one for the Gipper!”

NO-tax pledge – He refused to sign a pledge that he would not seek tax increases as a candidate for Governor.  As a candidate for President – he’s signed the pledge.

9. He put his dog on top of his car.

For me – any man who can put his dog on top of his car for 12 hours has no compassion what-so-ever.  And if you have no compassion for animals, you just have no compassion, and in my mind, you cannot lead this Country without compassion.

 10.  He’s a Republican…

Again, I’m going to defer to the; I’m a Lesbian reason… the Republican Party doesn’t really care for “The Gays.” A vote for Mitt Romney would be a vote against me, against my life, against my freedoms.  For me; It’s a no-brainer.

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Susan and I went downtown San Diego last evening to see a show called Rock of Ages. It was this loud, funny, wonderful musical full of the music of the 1980’s.  We sang along to Starship, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Twisted Sister, Foreigner, Journey, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Poison – and at the end of the show we were on our feet singing, clapping, cheering. It was a few hours of raucous fun, and I left the Theatre feeling upbeat with my throat a little sore from the singing and cheering!

As we were walking to our car we passed a woman wrapped up in a sleeping bad, sleeping in the doorway of a downtown building. I didn’t want to stare, but I couldn’t help but notice that along with her bicycle she had one of those carts people use to put their children in while riding.  She had all of her belongings in that cart, and she was using that as a sort of cushion for her head as she slept. Hundreds of people were walking by her, and still she slept.

I could feel the tears coming as I held Susan’s hand a little tighter and said:  “If anyone passes that woman and doesn’t say – there but for the grace of God go I, they have no heart.”

How do people end up on the street in the United States of America? How did this woman end up in a sleeping bag with all her possessions crammed into a baby cart for her bicycle? How does one even begin to think of sleeping on the street? How do these things happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave? And why is it so many of our brave are the ones on the street?

A friend of mine wrote of his time living on the streets and it simply broke my heart. I find after reading his story that I complain less about what I believe to be the tragedies of my youth!  Not that we all don’t face our own demons, for we most surely do – but, I always had a roof over my head and food to eat. His story of redemption and conquering his demons are worthy of my respect and my affection for him. He inspires me to be a person who now looks at the person on the street and question how they got there and how can I help them find a safer, warmer, loving place to call home.

It’s these unknown homeless citizens of this United States of America who have lost their way – lost their vote – lost their voice,  that need those of us who still have that voice to stand up. They need protecting – they need to be fed, and they deserve our respect.  I mean – think about it.  If you lost your job and couldn’t pay for your home or apartment where would you go? If you had no money for food – what would you eat? If you had no car and no money for the bus or the train – how would you manage? If … If… If…

They all have a story to tell, they are all someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister.  What if it was you or your mother or father or brother or sister or a grandparent?  This isn’t just their issue – this is a human rights issue, for it could happen to any of us, at any time.

Taking care of the homeless doesn’t seem to fall into any category on the upcoming Presidential election blurbs of what will help you get elected.  They all seem to want to spend millions of dollars to bash gay people, millions of dollars to kill folks in Afghanistan, millions of dollars to keep women in their place, millions of dollars to allow folks to be able to kill another person – well just because they can, and millions of dollars to force a solitary religion down the throats of a people who live in a land that was built on freedom of and from religion. I’ve heard nothing on jobs or the economy or helping the veterans or feeding the homeless or basically taking care of our own.

I used to believe as Americans we were better than this – I believe now – we have lost our way… Those of us in the middle, and those on the bottom of the scale have been lost in the shuffle that is now American politics and American justice.  The people with the money have the power and the people with the power have the money. The Honorable Lord Acton said it best: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

As a people – we must find our voice  before it’s too late for all of us. Can you hear your voice?

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