June 25, 2013

Republicans In Congress Are RINO's Acting Like Imbeciles

A graphic depicting the Republican party's mascot - the GOP elephant. jiveinthe415.com

Whenever my birthday rolls around, I get nostalgic and sentimental. When I think about growing up in New Jersey, invariably I think about politics, because my parents and me and my siblings were so entrenched in the Republican party.

As I observe the GOP today, I really believe with each passing day, that most Republicans in Washington today are “Republicans In Name Only” (RINO’s). The 20th century GOP that I knew bears no resemblance to the party that exists currently. Republicans in Congress behave like imbeciles that have no interest in doing anything constructive.

Republicans in the Senate have demanded changes to the immigration reform legislation, so that border security is airtight, and no one can cross the border from the south. This demand will cost upwards of $30 billion dollars a year, when the number of immigrants entering the US from Mexico is a negative number! These same Senators claim that we need to reduce government spending, as they demand more spending for this bill, which is wasteful and an outrage! In the next breath the GOP wants to cut $20 billion dollars from food stamps. It's better that people go hungry in their eyes.

Back in the olden days - - -  well not that long ago really, the Republican party believed in public service, and that government could be a force for good. The GOP was known as the “party of Lincoln,” because they fought for racial equality, and didn’t believe that the impoverished should go hungry, and authored legislation that mandated affirmative action in government hiring and college admissions.

It was Republicans who started the Environmental Protection Agency after a catastrophic oil spill devastated the Santa Barbara Coast, and Co2 emissions obscured the urban skylines with pollution so bad that you couldn’t tell if a building was 4 stories high or a 60 floor skyscraper.

The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) was a Republican idea that Democrats in Congress, with President Obama, adopted when the GOP decided to disown the legislation. This same party was once driven by the idea that government could offer an outstretched hand to a family having hard times, because when the family got back on their feet, they would work hard and pay taxes, which was giving back to the government and contributing to the economy.  

When Republicans lost the popular vote in the 5th national election for president out of the last 6, the few intelligent people still in the party, acknowledged that the GOP had to change, and that they had to stop talking about rape, and alienating women. They said they had to be more kind to undocumented immigrants. They said they had to do better outreach to people of color, and they acknowledged that gay marriage was inevitable, and they should build a bigger tent that was more tolerant.

Two years ago, in June of 2011, I wrote about what Republicans were up to in Congress, and noted how divisive they were then, and also discussed growing up in the Republican party. How much has changed in 2 years?

The Republicans I knew were fairly easy to support, because they stood for things like clean air and cleaning up the environment, and they supported many libertarian ideas about less government and less government regulation. They supported a woman's right to choose, promoted affirmative action and civil rights for all, and they believed in taking care of senior citizens, and the poor and less fortunate. They viewed government as an entity that was good, and effective, and a force for positive change.  
Today they’re the political party known for hate, as they detest LGBT citizens, and they have hawkish views on war. Republicans created the largest budget deficits in the history of our country, and started culture wars with women, gays, and minorities, while they employed inflammatory rhetoric around equal rights and marriage equality, to fan the flames of hatred. They did this to encourage alleged Christians and evangelical voters to show up at the polls, to vote Republican and advance their cause. This is NOT the party of Abraham Lincoln! 
The blame for the mortgage and banking crisis can be attributed to both parties, with the multi-trillion dollar corporate welfare that Congress allocated to corrupt wall street investment banks, on both parties backs. 
Aside from the awful culture wars, the biggest travesty is the fact that Republicans want to cut taxes further, and in order to “pay” for this tax cut, and appear to reduce the federal deficit, they want to make substantial cuts in education, hospice care, student loan programs, Medicaid and Medicare.  
The GOP believes it's OK to give wall street trillions, but tells the unemployed, senior citizens, the hungry, students, the disabled, and the impoverished, to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. They say the disadvantaged don’t have clout, so they don’t care about you and me.

Those same words could describe the Republican Congress today, just like two years ago. The only reason I mention it, is to illustrate that nothing has changed at all.

It's pathetic that nothing has changed in Washington, DC, and I wonder what has to happen, in order for Americans to wake up and do something about it.

The problem isn’t Barack Obama, the problem lies with Republicans in Congress.

Are the American people ready to send the Republicans a message in 2014? I hope so - because I'm beyond ready. 

Today's GOP is insane.


straight talk in a queer world.         jiveinthe415.com              
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved
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June 23, 2013

"Who is the man, and who is the woman, in the relationship" she asked out loud!

The gay rainbow flag flies with two gold wedding rings superimposed over the rainbow flag. jiveinthe415.com
A Gay Marriage Parable

By Roy Steele

I was up at the crack of dawn last Thursday here in California, because I wanted to hear the Supreme Court’s decision in the two gay marriage cases, as the world learned about them. I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but made sure that I was awake before 6:00am.

The terrific and informative SCOTUS Blog --- live blogs from the Court on decision days, so I joined thousands of others on their website, as they live blogged from the Court, and relayed each decision to their huge online audience, as they were announced.

I was disappointed that the Court didn’t announce their ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry, and United States v. Windsor, like everyone else. I also knew that if they didn’t announce the decisions last Thursday, that the Court would make the announcement this week (on Monday June 24th or Thursday June 27th).

I remember the first time the notion of gay marriage – or marrying one’s gay partner – entered my conscience.

The Supreme Court in the state of Hawai’i had ruled in 1996 that the state discriminated against same-sex couples by denying them a marriage license, under the state’s equal protection clause. The court didn’t mandate that gay marriage was a fundamental right that the state had to recognize, but they did order the state legislature to study and address the issue with the appropriate legislation.

News of the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruling was like a shot heard ‘round the world, a mere decade and a half ago.

"Marry a boyfriend?" Right. And I suppose Tinkerbell will be the maid of honor. "Two girlfriends marrying?" Only if Joan Armatrading provides the music. "Marry a gay partner?" Whatever hallucinogenic drug you're on, I wanna go on the same trip man, please share. "Two lesbians walking down the aisle to get married?" Are you kidding me? Are the Harley's in the wedding party too? Anyone hearing these scenarios had the same reaction, not bloody likely to happen. Ever.

I thought it was funny, and somebody was pulling my leg, because it was a practical joke. Even when every news outlet reported it, I dismissed the news as a gimmick that would never be.  

In the late 1990’s commitment ceremonies were just starting to be the rage. A gay couple would make a commitment to each other as life partners, and have a ceremony to reaffirm that commitment in front of friends and family. The couple would send out invitations to the ceremony (think wedding). A priest, pastor or rabbi, would officiate and offer the relationship a blessing, and a big party would follow the ceremony (think wedding reception).

I was ambivalent about commitment ceremonies. I thought that a commitment ceremony was too hetero-normative, and couldn’t comprehend why any gay couple would want to emulate a “straight” wedding, or a “straight” relationship.

I went to a commitment ceremony that was lovely in every way, it was fun, and I was genuinely happy for my two friends. What I found alarming and disarming, was that a woman seated next to me at the “party” asked me an idiotic question, out loud (which meant that everyone at the table heard it). 

She said that she was "curious" about the happy gay couple's committed relationship, and wanted to know "who was the woman in the relationship, and who was the man." And I said "seriously? That's your question? That's easy to answer. Which one is wearing new Manolo Blahnik pumps? That will tell you who the woman is."

She turned around in her chair and looked at the couple, who were talking to guests at the next table, and craned her neck to look at their shoes and was disappointed that she didn't see a pump.

That wasn’t the first time I heard that question, and it wasn’t the last time either. The woman seemed both sincere and dumb, and I knew there was no malice intended. I was still offended though. She believed that a gay man in a committed relationship would close the door and turn into Lyndsay Wagner herself, the real "Bionic Woman" who could do everything. Because only a relationship that had a man and a woman, or a man masquerading as a woman, was a viable and valid relationship.

I found the question offensive, and since I abhor conflict, I mumbled and fumbled and stumbled, before I could offer a real and honest answer.

I tried to explain that gay relationships didn’t comport with the straight married stereotypes we see portrayed in popular culture. Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver were before my time, but weren't before her time, and I knew enough about them to remind her that they were fiction. I tried to stress that gay relationships aren't cookie cutter, and don’t fit a stereotype. I said that no one was "the woman." I realized she didn't get it when she asked me to define stereotype, and that was when I gave up.

The clueless and sincere nice woman didn't get it, so she stared at the couple's shoes all night. She was waiting for the woman in the relationship to reveal herself. It was as if she believed that the "female" guy in the relationship was going to click his heels together 3 times, and a pair of Manolo's would magically appear on her feet.

Twelve states officially recognize our non-traditional relationships and marriages, and there’s no question that our nation is marching toward full marriage equality, and I don’t feel ambivalent about gay marriage. In fact, I’ve evolved and feel quite strongly that it’s a moral imperative for every state to recognize gay marriages.

Gay marriage is about love, as well as the over 1,100 rights afforded to straight married couples. Marriage is sanctioned by each state because of the laws inherent in their state Constitution. Marriage is not defined by scripture, or religion, or even Congress, or by me.

There are lots of straight people who still wonder who the man is in a gay relationship, and who the woman is, and there’s not too much that we can do about that --- except to be patient when we’re asked the ignorant question, and honest when we proffer an answer.

Since the Supreme Court will be announcing their historic decision in both cases this week, it’s important to remember that if they rule against us, at the very least...things will remain the same as they are today. 

If they rule in our favor, it will be a different and more welcoming world that we wake up to the next day, and there will be dancing in the streets and the sheets, with hopeful beats, in every city and town across the country.

Whether we win or lose, I know that more people will be emboldened to speak up and live their lives authentically and out loud, and that’s a damn good thing.

Live out loud and very very proud is the way it ought to be.

straight talk in a queer world.         jiveinthe415.com              
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved

June 21, 2013

Infographic: What Will The Supremes Do?

A graphic representation of the 2 gay marriage cases pending before the US Supreme Court.

straight talk in a queer world.         jiveinthe415.com              
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved

June 20, 2013

The GOP And Right-Wingers Use Litany Of Lies To Justify Anti-Gay Discrimination

Time magazine cover of 2-14-2013 with Senator Marco Rubio on the cover, that reads Republican Bigot.

Discrimination in any form is unacceptable and reprehensible, and who knows that better than those of us who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Bullies target us, right-wing extremists belittle us, religious leaders malign us and spread lies about us, while certain politicians think that extending equal opportunities to the LGBT community will confer “special rights” upon us, and infringe on their right to free speech.

Religious leaders falsely claim that outlawing LGBT discrimination will infringe upon their “religious freedom,” because bigoted Christians want to be able to continue to denigrate and defame us.

Politicians say that banning LGBT discrimination will impact their “free speech” rights, because they want to be able to bully and slander us, wherever and whenever they see fit.

In 1974 the Equality Act was introduced in Congress, because even then, politicians recognized that the LGBT community was subjected to discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation, and the bill was meant to address those issues. The bill went nowhere.

In 1994, the focus was narrowed to employment, and the first Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced. The legislation prohibited discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Needless to say ENDA has never passed both the House and Senate, and there are no federal employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people.
 
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA) was introduced this past April in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and in the Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The House bill (H.R.1755) currently has 175 co-sponsors (174 Democrats and 1 Republican), and the Senate bill (S.815) currently has 52 co-sponsors (50 Democrats and 2 Republicans).

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was asked last week if he would support banning LGBT employment discrimination, and he said “By and large I think all Americans should be protected, but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.” Rubio thinks it’s perfectly fine to be fired if you’re LGBT.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) was also asked last week if he supported making it illegal to fire an employee because they are LGBT, and he replied that “I don’t particularly like the federal government telling anybody to do anything.”

The Family Besmirch Council, the anti-gay hate group, has created a new website to fight ENDA. They’re exercising their right to free speech (though it's wrong speech), and the anti-gay website is filled with abject lies and misinformation.

They falsely assert that ENDA is related to marriage equality, which would be laughable if they were just stupid. They can’t win any campaign on the merits, so they falsify information.  
ENDA is a "one size fits all" solution to alleged discrimination that erases all marriage-based distinctions. It grants special rights to homosexuals while ignoring those of employers. The federal government should not force private businesses to abandon their moral principles.
In a letter that accompanies the petition they ask their supporters to sign, they continue their false assertions. [emphasis mine]
Please do not tarnish the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement by treating a person's chosen sexual behaviors or their gender self-identification as a protected category in the nation's civil rights laws. The choice to engage in homosexual conduct and the choice to adopt a "transgender" identity (sex change or cross-dressing) are not equivalent to the established (and immutable) protected categories of one's race and biological sex, nor are they protected by the Constitution (as is the freedom of religion, also a protected category).
The Supreme Court of The United States ruled in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas ) that being gay was legal, and the government couldn’t regulate the behavior of 2 consenting adults in the privacy of their home. That’s why the country’s sodomy statutes were invalidated. That court decision designated the LGBT community as a protected class in the Constitution.

Writing for the majority Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote “The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

Despite the efforts to demean our existence by some members of Congress, and a large number of errant religious leaders, and fringe right-wing extremists like the Family Besmirch Council, I’m sure that most Americans can recognize that they are mischaracterizing what ENDA is all about.

Republicans in Congress and the Family Besmirch Council are fighting another losing battle.

Whether ENDA is enacted this year or next, it will pass in both houses sooner or later. I hope that it’s sooner, because our economic prosperity depends on it. 
straight talk in a queer world.         jiveinthe415.com              
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved
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James Gandolfini - A Brilliant Actor And Loyal Son Of Rutgers Dies At 51


James Gandolfini,51, a brilliant actor who was best known for his role as Tony Soprano in HBO’s The Soprano’s , died yesterday while visiting Italy with his 13 year old son, Michael. The cause of death has been attributed to an apparent heart attack.

Gandolfini won multiple Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actor’s Guild Awards for his outstanding performances playing the family patriarch and mob boss from 1999 - 2007.

He grew up in Park Ridge, in northern New Jersey, and graduated from Park Ridge High School, before enrolling in Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As an alumnus, he was a big supporter of Rutgers football, and the athletics department up until his death.

After graduating from Rutgers, and prior to becoming an actor, James worked for a number of years at the popular Manhattan gay club in the Flatiron district known as Private Eyes. He strongly supported LGBT civil rights, and marriage equality.

This is incredibly sad news, and James’ family is in my heart and prayers. I know the Rutgers community was devastated to hear about his death, and as I thought about him last night, I was flooded with fond memories of so many great times spent at Private Eyes.

He will be sorely missed.

RIP James


straight talk in a queer world.         jiveinthe415.com              
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved

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