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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Sage Advice on Coming Out

I caught this in the Huffington Post. It covers an aspect of Coming Out to friends that I never thought of. When I got to thinking about it, it covers a lot of other different situations.  ” … And wants to be in relationship with the person they need you to be” explains a lot of failed friendships.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”

It doesn’t hurt to state your piece, shut up, and wait to hear what the others think (as Shore himself narrates that he did.) Shore correctly identifies that particular specie of humankind who frantically tries to hijack any conversation about someone else’s life into a conversation about “me, me, me.”

Check out the full article by John Shore, “With Friends Like These.”

The bottom line, though, is that a gay person coming out soon learns that, like all people, they have two kinds of friends: true friends and faux friends. A true friend of yours loves and wants to be in relationship with the person you really are. A faux friend of yours loves and wants to be in relationship with the person they need you to be.

When push comes to shove, a true friend puts you and your needs ahead of themselves, but a faux friend puts themselves and their needs ahead of you.

Your friends blew it; they definitely proved themselves, at least during that car ride, to be your faux friends. They made your coming out to them about them: about their needs, their comfort level, their convictions. That’s a giant Friend Fail, for sure. When you come out to your friends, it’s supposed to be all about you. Period.

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California Domestic Partners Act of 2003

My partner Bob and I celebrated our 15th anniversary last Monday. We filed for domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State in June, 2000. Since then, we have taken advantage of a number of benefits with our wonderfully supportive employer, not the least of which was the ability to add Bob to my HMO plan under domestic partner coverage when his health failed and he had to go on disability.

We are no stranger to the health care system, having faced a number of threatening medical issues in the last few years. We notice how often I have to explain why I’m entitled to stay by and visit Bob when in a hospital. Many times, saying “I’m his domestic partner” produces only a blank stare.

Kaiser Permanente is in the forefront of equitable and accessible health care, yet nobody seems to know what to do when a domestic partner arrives on the scene. “Family” works better, and it’s truthful. I have only been denied the ability to stick with Bob in a couple of emergency hospital situations, where the answer “spouse” would have worked. In a medical emergency, we’re more interested in timely attention to Bob, than in proving a point.

We face banking issues, mostly stuff we should have taken care of years ago. I can’t open a joint account with Wells Fargo, where Bob has banked for 25 years or longer, because my own account with Wells Fargo is new, and we haven’t gone the Financial Power of Attorney route. For this Wells Fargo customer, Bob has to come in, presumably, with oxygen and hospital bed and meds.

In short, nobody knows exactly what rights and responsibilities we do have, including us. I researched it a bit. The following is excerpted from a Google html version of the PDF file http://www.ucop.edu/sas/sfs/programs_and_policies/AB205Q&A5a.pdf.

What is the California Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003?

It is an Act passed by the California legislature and signed by Governor Davis in September of 2003 that is designed to give persons living in registered domestic partnerships rights and responsibilities more similar to those of marriage. The Act is sometimes referred to by its bill designation of “AB 205.” It is in California’s Family Code beginning at section 297.

In general, what rights does the Act provide for Domestic Partners?

Generally, partners “shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits . . . under law as are granted to . . . spouses.” Specifically, partners have rights equal to those of spouses under probate law, employment law, and discrimination law. Public entities are required to extend to Domestic Partners any rights extended to spouses in terms of insurance and retirement benefits and any other employment rights mandated by law.

What I find is that there are specific rights in dealing with CA state entities, and in applying for student financial aid. More general provisions are tied to a governing body of law, The California Family Code.

In short, domestic partners – and all those with whom we deal institutionally – have to be attorneys to argue effectively for a specific right in a specific situation. “Because the California Family Code says so” is a guaranteed show-stopper, if it might have any effect at all. Don’t try it if you’re in a hurry. We, and the folks we deal with, are not equipped to make a legal determination on the spot whether the Act covers a given situation or not. And, of course, none of this is any good at all outside the state of California (we own property in Arizona), even in other states which do support domestic partnership or even same-sex marriage.

In order to mitigate the harm done to same-sex households by feudal reactionaries – who believe that your partnership or marriage is fundamentally a matter of public property and consent – we’ve created a horrible hodgepodge of laws. Some rights are undefinable, some are denied, and some are in hopeless conflict with other laws and other levels of government.

The short-term workaround is for domestic partners to continue dealing with obstacles issue-by-issue, as we have. In our experience, by far most of the people we deal with bend over backwards to be fair.

And, in the long run, the person who is permitted those bedside visits is probably going to be the one paying the bills, and authorizing the treatments, who has already been sitting by that bed for weeks.

You were probably wondering, what is the California Family Code? Here is the currently famous provision:

FAMILY.CODE SECTION 300-310

300. Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil
contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the
parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone
does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the
issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this
division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing
with Section 500).

In conclusion: “In general, what rights does the Act provide for Domestic Partners?”

Nobody knows exactly what rights and responsibilities we do have, including us.

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Racism in the Gay Community

Rainbow flagWake up, America. Racism in the Castro needs to be dealt with firmly. It needs to be discussed openly in the gay and straight communities. But when the day is done, we will still have racism in the Castro (and in America) — even if more covertly. When the day is done, our pervasive anti-other attitudes are undermining civil liberty efforts everywhere.

They are among the most maligned groups in society, but when it comes to discrimination, many say, gays can give as good as they get.
A city investigation of S.F. Badlands, one of the largest and most popular bars in the heart of the Castro neighborhood, has added evidence to that argument. In April, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that the bar discriminated against African American customers and job applicants.
— Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle staff writer, San Francisco Chronicle Sunday June 26, 2005

Racism in the GLBT community is not new, nor did it originate there. Massive family and cultural ethnic contradictions snake their way from generation to generation, without regard for the ethnic background or sexual orientation of individual members of the adoptive new generation. Racism in the greater communities, in the diverse ethnic and regional groups themselves, has improved since the 1960’s. But the ugly spirit of the KKK festers deep and heals slowly, and it is actively undermining efforts to bring real equality to the gay lesbian community, and other minority communities, today.

Racism in America has lost most of its political clout, meaning, it is now generally illegal to hurt you because of your ethnic origin. But the superstition, ignorance and mean-spiritedness, rooted now more in low-lifers and misguided individuals than in most institutions, is still there. You can say what you want, but victims of this prejudice know it when they see it. And they see it.

No student of history or current events would fail to look at this in the context of the racism and ethnic warfare that has infected and plagued all the regions of the world. Globally, tolerance and understanding has a long way to go.

What we need to understand about racism:

  • People who would deny some minority groups equal protection under the law, or discriminate in behavior and attitude against whole groups of people because of their ethnic origin or sexual orientation, are intellectually and morally disarmed in defense of their own civil liberties.
  • Ethnic slurs, discrimination, and derogatory smears of whole groups of people are unacceptable, not only because they are rude and unjust or downright illegal, but because they undermine any rational defense of civil liberties for any of us, including you.
  • Racism in the gay community is unwelcome twice over. We have seen minority groups engage in wholesale attack upon other minority communities before, but it is no less ugly when our own group is doing the mudslinging.
  • If you think you have a grievance against others because of what one or several individuals did to you in the past, don’t tar the entire group with the same brush. A straight white male who “hates blacks”, say because he was beat up in high school, has actually made a deliberate choice to embrace those unacceptable attitudes in his own life. Good-bye, Selma. Welcome, Kosovo.
  • Whether one understands and agrees with this or not, those who continue denigrating other groups on account of race, color, creed, sex, or sexual orientation make a day-to-day choice. And that choice says: “I opt out of any pretense that my civil liberties are justifiable. I’ll hang on to them as long as I can, but I can’t defend them. I choose a posture which says that universal rights are a myth, my rights are indefensible, and I’ll just take what I can get and hope I don’t get caught.”

    The next time you hear an associate use the “N” word, or make snide remarks about gay civil unions, speak out. Remind them their civil liberties are at stake too. As go the rights of the least popular minority, so goes the nation.

    On this day of San Francisco’s own Gay Pride parade, it’s time to reaffirm the “rainbow” in the Rainbow Flag.

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    “Ask Alex”

    Ask Alex bannerIn which we tackle the really tough issues and some that are not so tough. Sometimes flippant, sometimes introspective, always concerned that being gay in twentieth-century America has to be such a big deal by contrivance and artificiality, or (some say), by demonizing conspiracy. Here are our answers to commonplace questions from and about our communities, family, identity, and living a gay life in an un-gay world. Copyright 1996. New page browser: Ask Alex – Gay FAQ’s and Fancies

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