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La Parola was originally the monthly newsletter of the Gay Italian American Club, a small, private, nonpolitical, social and benevolent society of men and women in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1984.

HEADER IMAGES: Our playing field image was taken in San Francisco by Bob Sibley at the 1974 Gay Parade. The Rainbow flag image was caught by me in 2014. I happened to discover sunlight, split into a billiant prophetic rainbow was cast 100 feet from the kitchen into a darkened hallway by a hanging crystal prism, of the sort that used to hang from chandeliers.

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Black Elk Speaks (Legacy)

I wrote “Black Elk Speaks” in 1993, in the old La Parola newsletter, some two years before this website was created. It remains one of my favorites. It is still rendered in the original HTML, but I wanted to create for it a WordPress presence.

“Black Elk Speaks” is all about knowing who we are and where the future may take us. I’m excerpting it below, but you can read the full article here.

Outside, a songbird chirps loudly and brightly in the darkness, happy to greet the new day. It is only a quarter to one Sunday morning. Perhaps Black Elk would have seen some good sign in this. Perhaps I should have chosen to go to the parade this year. There is still time, but then I would not have made that time to see all this from the lonely hilltop of which Black Elk spoke, and still have the fortune to hear the songbird chirp. There was a time, you know, when I would have resented the songbirds who make it their business to announce the coming day at one o’clock in the morning. But now I finally see again that it is given to each of us to see things in our own way and time, and it brings to me a special pleasure to realize it is just as important to be happy in being sure that the dawn is actually coming, as it is to be right about its exact time of arrival.

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Fred Phelps Dead

I’d vowed to dance on this person’s grave. When the time came, there was no exaltation. There was nothing. And that was appropriate, for it ended the way it began.

I take no solace or joy in this man’s passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding “God Hates Freds” signs, tempting as it may be.

He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.

More on this topic: See Huffington Post

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‘step in and define morality for them’

According to Daily KOS, the widely publicized anti-NFL-gays bill pushed by lobbyist Jack Burkman, CEO of Burkman Associates LLC, would give the Department of Justice the power to enforce the ban. He calls it “The American Decency Act of 2014.”

“I felt that if the NFL doesn’t have any morals, and people like [Commissioner] Roger Goodell, who are just go-along-get-along guys, just want to appease advertisers, appease corporate America and all that stuff,” he said earlier this week, “I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in Congress to step in and define morality for them.” [emphasis added]

It is rare for religious bigots to be so open about their unconstitutional agenda.

According to the Huffington Post, Burkman also has a gay brother.

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Arizona’s New Anti-Gay Law

My cousin wrote me today expressing shock at the Arizona legislature’s passage of a blatantly rabid anti-gay bill. The bill has not been signed by the Governor, and it is not yet law. The bill would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and others.

If somehow you missed it, you can read about the legislation any most anywhere. But here is The New York Times link.

I wrote back to my cousin:

Thanks for your support! AZ Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill a few years back, and I suspect she’ll veto this one. I understand there are already a very few anticipatory signs up in shop windows. There are so many places to eat and shop in big cities like Phoenix that a merchant with such a sign is just advertising, “we aren’t much interested in staying in business” or maybe even “I hate my plate glass window.” In small towns, and AZ has lots of those, there is bigger potential for harm and hurtfulness.

In the Phoenix Metro area (and in Tucson) there are large Democratic and moderate Republican populations and they are pretty good places for everyone to live. As for the bill itself, if actually passed into law, I think it would be struck down in the higher courts. That is not to say it isn’t dangerous, but that mindset belongs to a shrinking and discredited minority.”

And here, from the New York Daily News, is what one Tucson businessman did in response to the bill: “Arizona pizzeria’s amazing response to state’s anti-gay bill.”

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Christie Drops Same Sex Marriage Appeal


“Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced on Monday that his administration would drop its legal challenge to allowing gay marriage in the state, hours after same-sex couples started exchanging vows.
Mr. Christie’s decision to withdraw his appeal before the state’s Supreme Court, a reversal from his long-held position that the question of gay marriage should be decided by voters, effectively removes the last hurdle from making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.”

~~ New York Times Oct 21

Christie left unresolved the question of whether he thinks New Jersey voters should allow we gays and lesbians to vote, attend or teach in public school, use the same restroom facilities as “normal” New Jersey voters, own property, or be counted as whole persons for the purpose of the lawful census.

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Pope Francis: Who am I to judge gay people? (BBC)

Is change, however slowly, even coming to the Vatican?

BBC article link  Pope: Who am I to judge gay people? includes a short video which did not embed gracefully here.

“Pope Francis says gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society, in an apparent softening of his predecessor’s line on the issue.”

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Judging the Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage

From The Atlantic article “History Won’t Be Kind to the Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage” by Andrew Cohen, March 28:

Chief Justice Roberts attributed this “sea change” — nine states now recognize same-sex marriage — not to our society’s natural evolution toward empathy and compassion, not to our growing unease about judging our neighbors, not to the libertarian ideal that all consenting adults should be free to enjoy the benefits of civil rights, but to the “politically powerful” lobby and to “the political force and effectiveness of people representing, supporting your side of the case.”

Many commentators notes the SCOTUS performance in the last two days was weak-kneed, lacked conviction and pandered to popular sentiment and stereotypes.

I, one more gay person who is definitely unimpressed with the conservative block of SCOTUS, was nevertheless stunned by the appalling lack of principled legal argument or discussion among the defending and litigating parties, or, most particularly, by the Justices themselves. As far as I could see from media reporting, completely missing were discussions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or basic law and  constitutional principles of equal protection and non-discrimination.

Defending parties and some of the justices seemed to be arguing that, well, maybe we ought to let the States decide this — just as the states had decided that with slavery and Jim Crow laws before extraordinary measures had to be taken to stop them.

In Mississippi, it is reportedly still legal for a landlord to evict a gay person, and for an employer to fire a gay person. If this means the states can decide who gets basic civil liberties and how much of them they can get (and it does mean that), then the states are still doling out rights like party favors. Why is anyone waiting for the Supreme Court to put the “all” back into “all men are created equal?”

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“Gay Marriage Polls Not Yet Reflected In Votes”

From David Crary on Huffington Post:

NEW YORK — Poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage steadily increasing, to the point where it’s now a majority viewpoint. Yet in all 32 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, voters have rejected it. … For now, however, there remains a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted. It’s a paradox with multiple explanations, from political geography to the likelihood that some conflicted voters tell pollsters one thing and then vote differently.

My comment:

“Still not with you people yet, but thinking about doing the right thing.” We’ve seen all this before with the civil rights movement, and then again with women’s rights. “Yes, we’re in favor of liberty and equality, but not just now, and not next door. But we’ll let you know.”

“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience stands He waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” I think that about sums it up.

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