Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Politics in Dayton—lots of choices but little interest

Plus some comments about selected candidates

Earlier this week Dayton held its runoff elections for mayor and city commission. Lots of people were running (and even more wanted to run but failed to qualify), but hardly anyone cared enough to vote.

Mayor (pick 1)
Nan Whaley 4,965 50.3%
A.J. Wagner 2,566 26.0%
Gary Leitzell 2,338 23.7%
Commission (pick 2)
Joey Williams 6,384 36.1%
Jeff Mims 5,282 29.9%
David Greer 2,230 12.6%
David Esrati 2,087 11.8%
Joe Lutz 1,696 9.6%

Dayton’s population is about 142,000, and only 9,869 people voted in Dayton’s May 7th election. The adult population of Dayton is about 109,596 people, so only 9% of adult Daytonians cared enough to vote.

I wasn’t part of that 9%.

Shocking, I know, and this is the first time in quite a while that I haven’t voted. It’s very simple to vote. My polling place is directly across the street from where I live. But I found none of the candidates running to be compelling enough to vote for and didn’t think it really mattered who won.

However, I did vote in a way that’s almost as important as casting a ballot, by making a campaign contribution. I gave Nan Whaley $50, a drop in the big bucket of $106,502.06 Nan collected so far this year and $32,928.20 Nan collected in 2012.

Plenty of people think that the amount of money involved in politics is obscene, and I won’t argue with them. That people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a runoff election where fewer than 10,000 people vote is insane.

Or is it?

The candidates who pledged to spend less than $10,000 this year (incumbent mayor Gary Leitzell, perennial candidate David Esrati and community volunteer David Greer) and the candidate who couldn’t even raise $1,000 (Joe Lutz) all lost.

Leitzell and Lutz lost absolutely—they will not be on the ballot this November. (Leitzell is the first sitting mayor of Dayton in 50 years to lose before the general election.)

Greer and Esrati technically won the right to be on the November ballot, but I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that neither will win in the fall. Williams and Mims each got more votes than Whaley; Greer and Esrati each got fewer votes than Leitzell. I see absolutely nothing to make me believe that Greer and Esrati are going to do significantly better in the general election.

So the winning candidates know something about elections that the losing candidates do not—given the status quo, money matters in winning elections. Wish that it didn’t at your peril. Even President Obama, given the choice between taking the high road by refusing SuperPAC money or winning re-election, was realistic about money.

 

So why’d I give money to Nan Whaley?

A small reason was that I wanted to see the inside of Michael Ervin’s $1.6 million Oregon District house (formerly the Southern Belle bar). Clever idea to hold a fundraiser there. Good relationship building to gain Dayton mover and shaker Michael Ervin’s endorsement.

A much bigger reason was that I very much appreciate Nan’s support for amending Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin lost her seat in part for her support of this change. I’ve said before that I’m a single issue voter, and I mean it: be supportive about gay rights and gain my loyalty—be stupid about gay rights and I won’t vote for you.

Certainly there are valid reasons for people not to vote for Nan. If the amount of money in politics offends your principles, I can’t fault you. Nan’s push polling was distasteful. And I can understand why some people say she’s been on the commission long enough and that it’s time for a change.

The other choices, however, weren’t ones I could make.

A.J. Wagner, although having expressed support privately to me on gay issues, has not taken a clear public stand on his website and has shown a less than clear understanding of things such as Dayton’s domestic partnership registry.

And Gary Leitzell is someone for whom I simply would not vote, for reasons about which I’ve already written. Add to those reasons one more—at a recent event Mayor Leitzell came up to me, our conversation turned (as it is wont to do when I’m involved) to gay issues, and the mayor told me that gay people could manage without marriage, by, for example, getting health insurance through their employers based on domestic partnership. That’s just not true. My employer, a small non-profit, would like very much to offer coverage to same sex partners of employees, but we’ve simply not been able to find an insurance company that will provide such coverage to us. When Mayor Leitzell did not believe me, I pulled over our company president and CEO to explain how he’s tried, to no avail, to find same sex partner coverage.

I do have plenty of friends, gay and gay supportive, who did support the mayor’s re-election, and I don’t blame them for that. I’m a single-issue voter, but many people are not. Reasonable people can disagree. Unfortunately for my friends who supported Leitzell, they were vastly outnumbered, unable to convince 91% of Dayton voters to vote at all and unable to convince 76.3% of those who did vote to vote for Leitzell.

About David Esrati

One friend who supported the mayor’s re-election, however, is not really of the mindset that reasonable people can disagree. That friend is David Esrati. What made me realize David’s mindset, and also made me decide I couldn’t vote for him this time, was a Facebook post in which he told his friends that if any of us had Nan Whaley signs in our yards, we should go ahead and defriend him.

I didn’t have a Whaley sign (I don’t have a yard), but I wondered what David would think if he knew I gave Nan money. Would he defriend me? Not that it would really matter—I’ve been defriended before.

Back in 2010 when David was running for Congress, I wrote “An endorsement, of sorts, of David Esrati for Congress,” in which I said, “David Esrati may be crazy, he may be annoying, [and] he may be unelectable.”

How Esrati conducted himself during this campaign confirms that all these things are still true. He’s still unelectable—his coming in fourth out of five in this week’s election shows that. He’s still annoying—for example, see his blog post “Disrespectful, stupid (and my mother dresses me funny).” And he’s still crazy—that old saying about doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results certainly applies here.

However, something else I said in that 2010 endorsement of sorts is also still true—“Esrati makes his opponents more accountable” and “he offers something” to Daytonians. The Dayton Daily News report on this week’s election says that “Leitzell claimed he’d be more powerful as a private citizen than as mayor.” I think something similar is true about Esrati as well.

To explain that, let me mention two emails David sent me last month.

One was to ask me if I was going to update my 2010 endorsement of him. I delayed answering that one because I didn’t want to write something negative before the election, although I was already starting to think about writing something (which has become this post you’re now reading).

The other email was to let me know that the DDN was compiling a list of the Top 50 Thinkers in the Miami Valley and asking if I would recommend him for that. I did not hesitate to write that recommendation. I pointed out that many Dayton Daily News articles originate from posts on Esrati.com—that’s so true that David’s April Fools post this year, “Esrati.com to shut down, Esrati to work for Dayton Daily News,” actually fooled some people.

In my email to Ron Rollins, I also wrote:

Whether or not people like David Esrati or his ideas, there’s no denying that David Esrati is worth paying attention to, that he puts out ideas for moving our community forward, that he encourages participation in thinking about those ideas, and that therefore he is a Top Thinker in the Miami Valley.

Although David Esrati’s not clever about getting elected, as election after election shows, he is rather clever about using running for office as a way to get people to hear and discuss what he says. If you, like so many people, decline to vote for Esrati, I understand—you might not want to throw away a vote. But if you’re one of Esrati’s few vocal supporters, I can respect that as well. Given the overall apathy in Dayton, a political blogger and community activist who cares about Dayton is someone to value (even if he is annoying, crazy and unelectable).

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

A.J. Wagner on the issues

Click to embiggen this screenshot
of A.J. Wagner’s issues page:

A year ago I wrote about hijacking A.J. Wagner’s first Twitter account after word leaked of his original out-of-state website for his then-unannounced mayor campaign. Yesterday Wagner achieved some moderate success in Dayton’s mayoral runoff, getting 26% of the very low turnout of 9,869 votes, a result that pales in comparison to Nan Whaley’s 50.31% of the vote but that outpaces that of the incumbent mayor, Gary Leitzell, who got only 23.69% and has thus lost his position as mayor. Wagner thus advances to the general election this November and will likely garner many of the votes that might otherwise have gone to Leitzell.

Last year I wondered about Wagner’s positions on gay rights, including issues such as the domestic partnership registery (since enacted but then under discussion by the Dayton City Commission) and marriage equality. Wagner wrote a column in the Dayton City Paper about what he termed a “marriage registry” (an inaccurate term), and he assured me in an email that he is “supportive of gay marriage.”

I wrote that I hoped when his new mayoral campaign website, designed by the Dayton-based firm Eight Deuce, came out that Wagner would clearly state his position on LGBT issues there.

“site:domain.com query” is a useful Google parameter that lets you search a specific website. A year later Wagner’s new site does not list any position on LGBT issues. Google “site:ajwagnerformayor.com marriage” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com discrimination” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com gay” and you won’t find a single result.

We queers needn’t feel slighted, however, because Wagner’s “Issues” page has absolutely no substantive content on it, as you can see from the screenshot to the right (click to see an embiggened version).

Why Wagner or his web developer would choose to put a link to his Issues page at the bottom of every page on his website and yet leave that Issues page devoid of content I do not know.

Another interesting item about Wagner’s Issues page is his or his web developer’s choice of name for the page. If you go to Wagner’s website and hover over the Issues link at the bottom of any of his pages, you’ll see the URL for that Issues page, which is http://www.ajwagnerformayor.com/donations-to-the-max/. Yep, you read that correctly—Donations to the Max.

Wagner is not a novice politician. He’s been elected to office before. Heck, he even made it past the first post on the way to the mayor’s office. So perhaps he doesn’t need to explain on his campaign website where he stands on any issues.

And I’m no politician. I’ve never run for any office and never will. While I might naively assume that a campaign website is a way for voters to learn about candidates, a campaign website is really, as you can see from the name “Donations to the Max,” about raising money for the campaign.

Experienced politicians seem to think a majority of folks are fine with that.

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Sorry about your divorce, Mike


Mike and Lori Turner and their family, from when the Turner marriage was still sanctified
Congressman Mike Turner, on behalf of all teh gayz, I want to apologize for destroying your marriage.

I know you tried valiently to save your marriage, voting in 2006 and in 2008 to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect heterosexual marriage from the queer onslaught.

You can be proud of getting an absolute zero on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, having voted against every issue from the “Gay Agenda™” that comes up in Congress. Alas, your votes against the queers have failed to protect your marriage.

I wonder if your perfect score from the Family Research Council will continue, now that your own marriage is “dissolved.” (Let no man put asunder what God has joined together, but I guess you can “dissolve” it, right?)

Your divorce probably won’t affect your re-election. After all Newt Gingrich can trot out his adulterous wife everywhere and still get invited to say with a straight face on TV that he “believe[s] as the Bible teaches, marriage is between a man and a woman.”

So yeah, sorry again about having finally succeeded in wrecking your marriage. I’ll be eagerly awaiting news of your next marriage.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Mark Luedtke has as much credibility as Don Rasmussen (et al.)

Mark Luedtke Mark Luedtke The Dayton City Paper is now featuring a column, “Conspiracy Theorist,” by their regular contributor Mark Luedtke, who also often takes the “Right” side in their regular Debate Forum feature. Luedtke bills himself on his LinkedIn profile as the “Best Damn Writer at Dayton City Paper.” DCP puts a disclaimer on his Conspiracy Theorist column, saying that the views expressed in it “are published strictly for entertainment purposes only,” and with what Luedtke writes it seems he really must just be trying to get laughs.

In this week’s column, “It’s the Candidate, Stupid!,” Luedtke writes about the recent presidential election. Luedtke provides a lot of material one could analyze but the most entertaining sentence in his column (written “for entertainment purposes only”) is this:

Rasmussen reports that Americans favor repeal of Obamacare by 15 points.

Luedtke goes on to talk about Mitt Romney’s credibility or lack thereof, but by citing, of all pollsters, Don Rasmussen, Luedtke demonstrates a lack of credibility himself.

There are plenty of polls about whether Americans support the Affordable Care Act, including a post-election one by the Kaiser Family Foundation (see this Washington Post article, “Poll: Support for Obamacare repeal is plumetting”), but the pollster Luedtke chooses to bolster his arguments about Obamacare is the same one who said, a week before the election, “The most entertaining fall-out will be the recriminations of pollsters and polling generally in the wake of Romney’s 330+ electoral vote win next Tuesday.”

Switch out one name in that sentence—Obama for Romney—and Don Rasmussen would look remarkably prescient. Rasmussen got the entertainment part right, but the entertainment’s all at his expense and that of other pundits (see also the “Pundit Shaming” tumblr).

Luedtke didn’t share Rasmussen’s disadvantage of writing before the election. Luedtke was analyzing the election after the fact and yet in arguing against Obamacare chose to ignore the most important poll of all, the election itself. President Obama was re-elected and the Senate remains in Democratic hands. That doesn’t look to me as if Americans overwhelmingly favor repeal of Obamacare.

Rasmussen was right about the “entertaining fall-out” and “the recriminations of pollsters” after the election. People are asking why people like Jennifer Rubin and Karl Rove still have jobs.

Locally one might also ask why Mark Luedtke still has a job at the Dayton City Paper, but luckily for him he writes “strictly for entertainment purposes only.”

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Pocket dialed by Obama for America

Obama for America logo I’ve been getting a few calls from them lately because they want to make sure I’ve voted. They have my number because I donated to the president’s re-election campaign. I don’t mind their calling me—it’s reassuring that they’re working so hard to get out the vote—but I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, and although my voicemail identifies the number afterwards, my phone’s caller ID does not show a name as the call’s coming in, just a number.

Sunday I got two calls, one with no message and one with a message where the caller said she hoped I was doing well and that they were just calling to touch base with Ohio voters. This morning I got another call with no message and then this afternoon yet another one with a 60-second voicemail, not quite a pocket dial but not an intentional message. Instead it was a recording with the background noise of a campaign office and the laugh of a campaign volunteer bantering with her colleagues.

Listen to it here. The funnest part is at 0:23, where she says, “Every time you say Obama, I'm gonna do an Al Sharpton and say, ‘Yo mama!’”

Thanks to everyone who has been working so hard to re-elect the president. I may not take your calls, but I do appreciate your work. I hope we all have something to celebrate later tonight.

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Happy first birthday, Occupy Dayton!


Click to embiggen the above screenshot of
Occupy Dayton’s likes on Facebook
You may know that I “like” Occupy Dayton.

I put “like” in quotes because I actually don’t like them, bless their hearts, but I “like” Occupy Dayton’s page on Facebook. Now although I don’t really like Occupy Dayton, I don’t dislike them—I sympathize with them and their goals—but I think they’re rather silly and ineffectual.

I don’t actually give them a lot of thought—I haven’t blogged about them (and their process-y-ness) since a couple posts last fall. The only reason they came to mind today is that, because I still “like” Occupy Dayton on Facebook, I see their posts, the most recent of which was one today about their planned rally tomorrow on Courthouse Square to commemorate their first rally there exactly a year before.

Unfortunately for Occupy Dayton, not many other people in Dayton think about them either. When I first blogged about Occupy Dayton, last November 11th, 5,325 / 537,602 = 0.991% there were 4,046 people who “liked” them on Facebook. A year later 5,325 people “like” Occupy Dayton on Facebook. That’s growth of 31.6%, but unfortunately 5,325 is still only 0.991% of the 537,602 residents of Montgomery County.

In other words, Occupy Dayton is the 1%. No, not that 1%, but still not the 99% they hoped to represent.


Click to embiggen the above screenshot of Occupy Dayton’s online forum, innundated with SPAM
Their website, not at its original domain of occupydayton.org (which the group lost after some of the processing and bickering they seem to have continued after I blogged about them last year) but rather at the new domain of occupydaytonoh.org, also does not paint a pretty picture. The last post on the home page is dated June 20th, the last General Assembly minutes are from February, and the forum is awash in ads for products I will not name here for fear of drawing unwanted visitors to my site. No one, not even any of the 1% of Daytonians who purport to care about Occupy Dayton, is minding the Occupy Dayton store.

Of course, not being part of the solution, I am part of the problem. I could go to the rally tomorrow, but I won’t. Instead I sit in my easy chair and poke fun at a group made up of earnest, well-intentioned volunteers rather than doing anything constructive myself to try to make a difference. Shame on me!

I’m jaded, and old, I admit. Once I was a newly out 20-something who was a member of Queer Nation Dayton, a group that liked to process and that perhaps did a tiny bit of good but that didn’t last. Perhaps, in some ways, I’ve turned into one of the older fags despised by those of us in Queer Nation back in the day. (But only to a certain extent—I’m still visibly out, I still do some volunteering, and I’m not a member of the Log Cabin Republicans or GOProud.)

Will Occupy Dayton have a second birthday? I wouldn’t bet against it, but I also wouldn’t bet any money that they will either. I will, however, predict that they won’t have many more Facebook “likes” if they don’t change something about what they’re doing.

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Some notes after hearing Walter Brueggemann

Walter Brueggeman This afternoon I and a group of almost 20 people from my church, Cross Creek Community Church, UCC, went to Southminster Presbyterian Church to hear Old Testament scholar (and UCC pastor) Walter Brueggemann speak on the topic “Hope and Healing in a Broken World.” Afterwards most of us Cross Creekers met together over a meal to talk about what we’d heard.

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard Brueggemann speak—in October 2009 I took a day off work to go hear him at the SONKA Clergy Day. I don’t exactly remember why I went to hear Brueggemann that first time. I’m not clergy myself, nor do I wish to become clergy, but since returning to church in the early ’90s I’ve hung out with a lot of clergy. Cross Creek counts among our membership way more clergy than do most churches. I’ve learned through this association with clergy that they are human beings, usually with specialized education in theology, but as fallible as the rest of us and whose interpretation of what the Divine may be telling us is subject to challenge by non-clergy.

I didn’t blog about that SONKA Clergy Day in 2009, though I did take a lot of notes. Tonight, however, I feel called to process some of my thoughts about what I heard from Brueggemann today. That’s a bit ironic given my somewhat cynical blog post from just two days ago about Occupy Dayton’s love of processing, but a friend (retired clergy) who was part of our discussion (processing) after Brueggemann’s talk spoke of how writing letters to politicians was helpful not just to get her voice heard but also to organize her thoughts. Also, despite the fact that my blog post of two days ago could be taken as opposition to Occupy Dayton, I do claim to support some of their goals and I found that much of what Brueggemann said today resonates with their movement.

I’ll try to sum up what Brueggemann said in a sentence: Brueggemann compared what the Bible has to say about departure from empire (systems of money and power), whether exodus from the Old Testament empires of Egypt or Persia or from the Roman empire in the New Testament, to choices we as present day Christians must make about departing from the control of the American empire with its system of consumer violence and militarism.

That’s where the resonance with the Occupy movement starts. The Occupy movement is not one (only) of Christians but it is about the violence done to our society and the brokenness caused by the consumerism and militarism of the American empire.

Brueggemann also spoke about the anxiety and stress that comes from staying in the rat race and trying to avoid loss (loss of what, you might ask—perhaps the privilege I mentioned the other day). Brueggemann said that instead “we should seek a Gospel zone of freedom for our lives” and that we should “organize our lives for an alternative to the imperial system.”

A “Gospel zone of freedom” isn’t exactly something Occupy campers would picket for, at least not using those words, but they sure would advocate “organiz[ing] our lives for an alternative to the imperial system,” wouldn’t they?

Brueggemann explained that alternative as “neighborliness in an anti-neighborly socio-economic system” and gave four “marks of neighborliness”:

  1. Hospitality (as opposed to being exclusionary)
  2. Generosity (as opposed to “miserly selfishness”)
  3. Forgiveness (as opposed to “calculating vengeance”)
  4. Economic justice (or “valoriz[ing] people” that our dominant system discounts)

That economic justice stuff is certainly what the Occupy movement is about. Brueggemann went on to explain it by saying that it is “important to provide viable life resources and support for all people.” (Contrast that message to Michele Bachmann’s recent declaration that “if anyone will not work, neither should he eat.”)

Brueggemann then reminded us of what he called “the most dangerous Biblical teaching,” found in Deuteronomy 15, about the forgiveness of debts during Jubilee years. The Occupy folks aren’t calling for the cancellation of all debts, but they sure are calling for the cancellation of some debt (see OccupyStudentDebt.com).

Some other nuggets from Brueggemann’s talk:

  • Church is like a 12-step program for addicts to consumer capitalism.
  • The God of the Gospel is not the God of Empire.
  • The Gospel is a subversive revolutionary summons.
  • The Golden Rule is that the one with the gold makes the rules.
  • Our government is in the grasp of the rich.
  • President Obama is in bed with big bankers.
  • Loss brought to speech turns to energy. Loss not brought to speech turns to violence.

Brueggemann also made reference to something Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, said about change being effected not by institutions but by movements. Brueggemann then pointed out that movements begin small. So my mocking Occupy Dayton the other day for being 1% of Montgomery County’s population rather than being comprised of the 99% they claim to represent could really be a mistake.

Brueggemann then told the story of a woman in Liberia who started a movement for peace by sitting down in the street. I did some googling just now to find out more about who he was talking about and found out it was Leymah Gbowee, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her actions in leading other women in protests that stopped the second Liberian civil war.

Interestingly, Brueggemann then confessed, “I am not a candidate for sitting in the street.” Perhaps that’s because he’s 78 years old. Perhaps that’s because he himself isn’t ready to give up all his privilege (he’d mentioned earlier his anxieties from worrying about his retirement portfolio). Perhaps that’s because he’s a white man—white men, he said, are the last people to “get it” in any movement.

I too am not a candidate for sitting in the street, nor am I, as I made clear the other day, a candidate for camping out on Courthouse Square to occupy Dayton. But can I just dismiss everything Brueggemann called to our attention? Can the others in my church (many of whom, like me, have substantial privilege in our lives)? I don’t know. Cynics might say that yes we can dismiss challenges to our privilege. Others might say that change begins with movements that start small.

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Occupy Process Dayton (to death)

I’m one of 4,046 people on Facebook who “like” Occupy Dayton’s Facebook page. I like it in part because I do, theoretically, support the Occupy movement’s goals of attempting to rein in corporate greed and influence, but if I’m honest, I’m not part of the 1% who are the Occupy Dayton movement.

4,046 / 535,153 = 0.756% 1%, you ask? Wait, I thought the Occupy folks were the 99%.

Well, let’s do some math, shall we? According to the 2010 Census, Montgomery County, Ohio, has 535,153 residents. Take 4,046 divided by 535,153 and you get 0.756%, which, if you’re feeling generous, is 1% of Montgomery County’s population. (If you’re not feeling generous, you’d reduce that 4,046 because some of those people do not live in Montgomery County and because some of those “persons” are instead other Occupy movements—for example, Occupy Northside-Occupy Clifton “likes” Occupy Dayton on FB, or you’d reduce it because there have never been 4,046 people at Occupy Dayton’s camp or any of its marches.)

I’m also not a part of the more famous 1% because I’m not so wealthy that I don’t have to work or that I can afford multiple homes. I’m not poor though. I have a financial cushion that most people don’t. If I weren’t gay, I might selfishly think that the incessant Republican drive to reduce taxes for the rich could be worth voting for. (In case you wonder, no, I’ve never voted Republican, and yes, I voted No on Issue 2/SB5.)

So I’m in neither 1%, not the über-rich nor the people so angry they are protesting in the streets and Occupying public spaces.

But would you like to know another reason, besides my being an employed white man with a financial cushion, that I’m not part of the Occupy 1%? It’s that the Occupy movement, including Occupy Dayton, likes to process things to death.

It’s an indication of my lack of privilege in one area, being gay, that I have experience with processing things to death. Because I am queer, I have been involved in the gay rights movement. I was a part of Queer Nation Dayton in the early ’90s. I have Marched on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal rights and Liberation. I have volunteered on LGBT political action committees and Pride Dinner committees and attended countless meetings of more groups than I even remember now. I have been a co-facilitator for the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations. I have served on the council and on committees at a justice-loving church. If I’m honest, I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have done any of these things if I were a straight white man instead of a queer one, but I am queer, and believe me, I know processing.

It’s only because of my lack of privilege in one area and consequent involvement in these things that I even recognize the enormous privilege I have from all the other aspects of my life (being male, being white, being American, being lucky in family and personal connections). And I know that it’s because of the enormous privilege I have that I’m able to say I can’t stand all this processing. But I can’t, and I won’t.

How much processing, you might ask? Here’s a sampling:

Occupy Dayton General Assemblies
Date Start time End time Amount of processing
10/22/2011 3:15 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Only 45 minutes of processing
10/29/2011 3:15 p.m. 5:35 p.m. 2 hours and 20 minutes!!! of processing

Best comment: are yall still only holding GAs on saturday only? in eugene and portland we hold them every night. i think the camp is bigger here though. that way we can vote on pressing issues everyday rather than putting them off till next week… just a suggestion. and maybe get more involvement if people know that issues are voted, came to a consensus, every day [italics mine]. more people might come down to the camp??

11/2/2011 7:20 p.m. 8:42 p.m. 1 hour and 22 minutes of processing

Now on Wednesdays too

11/5/2011 3:35 p.m. 5:15 p.m. 1 hour and 40 minutes of processing
11/9/2011 7:13 p.m. 8:27 p.m. 1 hour and 14 minutes of processing

Followed by 239 (and counting) comments on Facebook

Why are there 239 comments on Facebook about the 11/9 GA? Because that GA had a special guest, Sandy Gudorf, of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, who came to ask Occupy Dayton if they would, pretty please, decamp to Dave Hall Plaza for the period of 11/23–11/25, during which time the Downtown Dayton Partnership has a permit for the setup and lighting of Dayton’s Christmas tree, the “Grande Illumination.” Want to instigate some processing? Ask the Occupy Dayton 1% to move so the larger crowds who fill Courthouse Square can continue a decades-long Dayton tradition.

This is not something that is going to end well. The Dayton Daily News is already putting the spin on this, saying that “Occupy Dayton protest must relocate for Grande Illumination.” If you wade into the 11/9 GA comments on FB, you’ll see there is dissent as to what the Occupy Dayton campers should do. And Occupy Dayton is not the only Occupy movement facing eviction.

So, no, I’ve not been down to the Occupy Dayton camp to use hand signals to participate in a General Assembly. By writing this blog post, I guess I can be taken as an opponent of Occupy Dayton, a viewpoint that if the Occupy Dayton campers take I can understand.

I think that’s a bit strong though. I wouldn’t count myself as an opponent of Occupy Dayton. They have valid points about the vast inequality in America and the world and about the power of corporations. I’m just too comfortable in my privilege to deal with their processing. That might turn out to be a poor decision on my part.

Update 11/13/2011: The number of people who “like” Occupy Dayton’s Facebook page has been growing since all this Grande Illumination publicity. Now 4,125 people (including “persons” such as other Occupy groups including Occupy Columbus, Occupy Wright State University, Occupy Ohio, Occupy Toledo, Occupy Detroit, Occupy Indianapolis, Occupy America, and Occupy Wall St.) like the page, an increase of 79 people or almost 2% since Friday (bringing them to 0.77% of Montgomery County’s population).

Also, the processing continues. In the last 24 hours there have been 173 comments on two posts about a possible counter-protest against Occupy Dayton and 44 comments on a post about whether a Dayton police officer was being truthful or misleading when he told a camper that driving on Courthouse Square was inadvisable because its foundation is crumbling and it might fall in (despite, as commenters have been pointing out, Dayton police pulling their cruisers onto the square, heavy equipment being brought onto the square for the Christmas tree, and plans for huge Grande Illumination crowds remaining in place).

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The history of deanlovelace.com and the difficulty of running deanlovelace.com ads

What the current deanlovelace.com is

Say No! to Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011 If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I created a website, deanlovelace.com, about Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace. You may know this because I blogged on February 28, 2011, about doing so; you may know this because whenever you’ve come since then to the main page of davidlauri.com you’ve seen a teaser, linking to my February 28 blog entry, about the “special present I’ve put together for Dean Lovelace.” That “special present” is a website outlining three reasons to vote against Dean Lovelace for Dayton City Commission on November 8, 2011.

Even if you had never heard of me, you may know about deanlovelace.com because whenever you google Dean Lovelace the number three result is the website entitled “Say No! to Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011,” namely deanlovelace.com.

At the bottom of that website is an “About this site:” box that states “This site was developed and paid for by David Lauri and is not affiliated with any candidate” and that links back to davidlauri.com. When I created deanlovelace.com I did not try to hide who I was. I’m not ashamed of having created deanlovelace.com.

Why I created deanlovelace.com

Why did I create deanlovelace.com? Because the opportunity to do so presented itself. David Esrati remarked on February 27, in a post he made about why people should sign petitions so that Esrati could run for city commission, that he couldn’t find a campaign website for Dean Lovelace. I did some googling of my own and discovered that Esrati was right—Dean Lovelace was a Dayton City Commissioner running for re-election but did not have a campaign website up. Dean Lovelace used to have a campaign website at deanlovelace.com—if you go to my current deanlovelace.com website you will find a link to the Internet Archive cache from 2004 of the old deanlovelace.com—but did not feel it important enough to keep up and running. I was not surprised that Dean Lovelace did not feel it important enough to keep his website current with commentary on his views, but I was a bit astounded that he would have let his domain name lapse. I was not surprised that Dean Lovelace did not feel it important to keep his website current with commentary on his views about issues facing the City of Dayton, but I was a bit astounded that he would have let his domain name lapse.

And so I decided, on a whim, to register deanlovelace.com myself. Having done so, I announced in a tongue-in-cheek comment on Esrati.com that I had found a site that “tells you everything you need to know about Dean Lovelace.” (I still believe that deanlovelace.com tells you what you need to know about Dean Lovelace.) I posted a few more links to deanlovelace.com on Esrati.com, on my own website, on Facebook and on Twitter, but after posting a few final links on March 8 after Dean Lovelace lucked out and did not have to face a primary in the Dayton City Commission race (my March 8 post on Facebook is visible only to my friends and friends of my friends but you can see a screenshot of it; my tweet on March 8 is still visible to the public), I really didn’t give deanlovelace.com much more thought.

I did not contact Dean Lovelace to let him know about deanlovelace.com, but I would not have been surprised had he contacted me. I did not contact Mr. Lovelace to let him know about deanlovelace.com, but I would not have been surprised had he contacted me. In September 2009, I created a website, www.notojoey.com, opposing the re-election of Dayton City Commission Joey Williams because of his abstention on a vote to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Commissioner Williams found out about the website, took steps to get my cellphone number, called me, asked to meet with me, and asked me what I would want to take the site down. I told him I would not take the site down but that if he would state clearly on his campaign website that he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation I would amend the site to remove my objection to his re-election. He did so, I did so, and you can still view the results on www.notojoey.com, a site that is now nowhere near the top of the Google search results for “Joey D. Williams” (although it still appears in them).

Dean Lovelace, unlike Commissioner Williams, made no attempts to contact me. I assume he’s aware of deanlovelace.com because on April 22 he registered a new domain name for his new campaign website, given that his old domain name was no longer available. I decline to share his new domain name here, but if you like you may go google for it yourself to see if you can find it. I’ll give you a tip though—you have to go way down the page past the results for deanlovelace.com to find the official Dean Lovelace re-election website. I myself was unaware of Dean Lovelace’s new campaign website until doing a bit of research for this blog post.

Placing ads about deanlovelace.com

However, although it is true that I did not give deanlovelace.com a lot of thought since creating it (the page has remained unchanged except for fixing a link that no longer worked), it was in the back of my mind that it might be fun to run some ads this fall to promote deanlovelace.com. To that end I sent two emails earlier this month inquiring about placing ads for deanlovelace.com. In those emails I explained that deanlovelace.com was not owned by Dean Lovelace but rather was a site that I had created to oppose his re-election and that I would like to run some display ads for the site. The recipients of my two emails? The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival and the Dayton City Paper.

The response of the Downtown Dayton Priority Board to my request to place an ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival

The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival, in case you haven’t heard of it, is rather amazing for a city the size of Dayton. The festival, currently in its 6th year, will take place September 23–25 at the Neon Movies downtown and is a great opportunity for queers and our allies to see independent LGBT films and to meet some of the people making these films. Jonathan McNeal, the manager of the Neon, is the curator of the film festival, and he’s done good work not only in finding films worth watching but also in finding support for the festival and promoting it. I figured placing an ad of interest to Dayton’s LGBT community in the film festival’s program would be a good idea.

However, Jonathan, despite being the curator of the film festival, does not have carte blanche in accepting ads for it. He quoted me a price of $175 for a 1/2 page ad but explained that “though [he] curate[s] the festival, [he] still [has] to answer to the Downtown Priority Board as they are the banner sponsor for the event.” That’s understandable. The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival is not primarily about politics, although in the United States in 2011 anything queer is in part about politics. The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival is not primarily about politics, although in the United States in 2011 anything queer is in part about politics, and Jonathan’s primary responsibility is keeping the festival viable. Jonathan checked with the Downtown Dayton Priority Board and was told that its chairperson, Stephen Seiboldt,
The ad rejected by
the Downtown Dayton Priority Board
declined to accept my ad, saying that the Priority Board did not want any political ads in the film festival’s program.

I wonder if Stephen Seiboldt checked with the Dayton City Commission and in particular with Dean Lovelace. The Downtown Dayton Priority Board, as is the entire Priority Board system, is a program of the government of the City of Dayton. Read about the Priority Boards on the official City of Dayton webpage. Whether it is legal for the City of Dayton to quash advertisements opposing the re-election of Dayton City Commissioners I do not know, and although I have enough personal resources to be able to afford an ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival, I do not have enough resources or enough energy for a prolonged battle with the City of Dayton.

Getting a response from Jonathan about running a deanlovelace.com ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival program, although I did not get the response I wanted, was quick and easy. Here’s the cost; here’s who I have to check with; sorry, I can’t take your ad. The whole process took a day.

The response of Paul Noah, Publisher of the Dayton City Paper, to my request to place an ad in his paper

Getting a response from the Dayton City Paper was not so easy. Two days after I sent an email to them asking whether they would accept a display ad in October and possibly also in September for deanlovelace.com (pointing out, as I’ve said above, that this was a site I created to oppose Dean Lovelace’s re-election), I got a brief email from the publisher of the Dayton City Paper, Paul Noah, saying, “I am considering your request. Patience please. Plan to hear again from me before the end of this week. Genuinely, Paul Noah.”

Okay, I can understand that Paul Noah, like Jonathan McNeal with the film festival, does not have carte blanche as to what ads he may accept for the paper he publishes. Paul Noah is not the owner of the Dayton City Paper, and even if he does not have to run ads by the paper’s owner, he does have to be concerned about the viability of his newspaper. Would it piss other potential advertisers off if the Dayton City Paper accepted an ad for deanlovelace.com?

Apparently that was not an easy question to answer because despite Paul Noah’s having said he would get back to me by the end of the week, he did not in fact do so. A week after having gotten his brief email urging patience, I sent him a follow-up email to ask if a decision had been made yet. The following day Paul Noah sent me a reply, not a reply with a decision but a reply explaining that he could still not decide and moreover chastising me for my actions in creating the deanlovelace.com website.

As to whether the Dayton City Paper could accept an ad from me about deanlovelace.com, Paul Noah says, “[A]s your ad would be for the purpose of promoting the idea to voters to vote against Mr. Lovelace, I would need to see a sample of the ad copy you intend to run. More specifically, I would need to forward your ad copy to our legal dept. to review your ad in addition to having them view your website for libelous commentary.”

I am not a lawyer, but I do not think that my deanlovelace.com website libels Dean Lovelace. If Dean Lovelace thinks that anything I have said about him is libelous, I invite him to bring a lawsuit against me. I make three contentions about Dean Lovelace—that he let his registration for deanlovelace.com lapse, that he supports discrimination against LGBT people and that it’s time for a change—and I support those contentions. The first two contentions are fact-based: Dean Lovelace did let the registration for his domain name lapse, and Dean Lovelace did vote twice to keep discrimination against LGBT people in the City of Dayton legal. The third contention is one of opinion but also based on the fact that Dean Lovelace has been in office since 1993. If Dean Lovelace thinks that anything I have said on deanlovelace.com about him is libelous, I invite him to bring a lawsuit against me.

Had Paul Noah left it at that, that he needed to be cautious about accepting an ad in his paper for legal reasons, I might have been disappointed but would have had to accept his caution. However, Paul Noah had more to say to me.

Paul Noah thinks I was wrong to register the domain name deanlovelace.com. In his email to me he went on to say:

For the record, I have no opinion of Mr. Lovelace or of his record as I know little about him. However, I am disappointed that you decided to use Mr. Lovelace’s domain name for the purpose of campaigning against him. I believe if you would have left his domain name alone and, instead, created and promoted a website domain name such as “VoteAgainstDeanLovelace.com” you would have accomplished the same results without appearing to obviously and blatantly having taken advantage of Mr. Lovelace’s failure to remember to renew his domain name. In all fairness, it’s most likely that Mr. Lovelace had confided in another individual to register his domain name on his behalf and, therefore, it was likely the failure of his confident to renew the domain name. In my eyes, the fact that you had exploited Mr. Lovelace’s domain name expiration by purchasing the rights to it and utilizing it as a resource to campaign against him significantly reduces the credibility of your mission. It is for this reason that the Dayton City Paper may end up declining your request anyway.

I’m a bit surprised by Paul Noah’s righteous indignation at my having created the website deanlove.com. I replied to him to tell him that I could have understood such indignation if I had created a spoof website purporting to be by Dean Lovelace himself but not given that the website clearly states that I own the site and that it is not affiliated with any candidate.

I also told Paul Noah that I was a bit surprised that he claimed to have no opinion of Dean Lovelace’s record. Why is it difficult for Paul Noah to form an opinion about Dean Lovelace? If he had visited deanlovelace.com, he would have found links to newspaper articles and to Dayton City Commission pages documenting what Dean Lovelace said and what he did. In 1999 Dean Lovelace said that all discrimination is wrong but then voted to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation legal. In 2007 Dean Lovelace said that passing an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation was the right thing to do but then voted again to keep such discrimination legal. Why is it difficult for Paul Noah to form an opinion about that?

I agree with Paul Noah that Dean Lovelace probably was not personally involved in the registration of or the lapse in registration of the deanlovelace.com domain name. I doubt very much that Dean Lovelace has the technical expertise to register a domain name or build a website. However, I pointed out to Paul Noah that Dean Lovelace does have expertise in campaigning for office, and part of campaigning for office these days is having a campaign website. Dean Lovelace should have known that his campaign website from 2004 was, at the least, out of date because Dean Lovelace never directed that anything be added to it. That deanlovelace.com was no longer a functioning website in February 2011 when Dean Lovelace was running an active campaign for re-election is a reflection on Dean Lovelace’s management skills and worthy of consideration.

Paul Noah ended his chastising email to me by saying, “I am interested in your thoughts about my commentary above as I would hope that you consider doing the right thing and play fairly here.” He did not say what he himself would consider “the right thing” and what “play[ing] fairly” would be. Perhaps he thinks I should apologize for my actions. Perhaps he thinks I should give Dean Lovelace back his domain name.

My response to Paul Noah

Well here’s my response. I decline to apologize to Dean Lovelace. I stand by what I have posted on deanlovelace.com. I stand by what I said: Vote against Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011. Unlike in my interactions with Commissioner Williams, who merely abstained from a vote to ban discrimination in Dayton based on sexual orientation, there is nothing Dean Lovelace can do to make me retract or change what I have said.

Dean Lovelace voted twice to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation in the City of Dayton legal and that by itself is reason enough for people who value the equal treatment of all Daytonians to vote against Dean Lovelace on November 8.





Updates:

David Esrati wrote about my attempt to place a deanlovelace.com ad in the Dayton City Paper, in which Esrati says, “[Paul Noah] should not only accept the ad (with the addition of who paid for it) in his paper, but that he should keep his opinion on his opinion pages — and not insert it into political ads.”

The Dayton Informer ran an interesting video interview with Dean Lovelace about this issue, asking him what he thought of me and what he thought of gay rights. Dean Lovelace called me a jerk, which I can understand, and he said that “gay rights are not civil rights” although he later admits that gay rights may be “human rights.”

An Esrati.com reader had questions about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance, and so, in a comment on Esrati.com, I give some more background about the laws in Ohio banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and on Lovelace’s actions to keep such discrimination legal in the city of Dayton. I also respond to Dean Lovelace’s correct contention that the LGBT civil rights struggle is different from the African American civil rights struggle; in the Dayton Informer piece when Dean Lovelace said that gay rights are not civil rights, I think what he was ineptly trying to say was that the struggles faced by queers and by African Americans are different. He’s right about that, and I point out some of the differences in my comment on Esrati.com.

Jeremy Kelly wrote an article in Dayton Daily News reporting on my taking over of deanlovelace.com.

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010


Business Reply Envelope from the DCCC
I got a letter from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking for money. My first thought was to throw their pitch away, but I thought better of it and wrote a letter to their chair, using the handy postage-paid envelope to mail it in.

Here’s what I said:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen
Chair
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
PO Box 96039
Washington, DC 20077-7243

Dear Rep. Van Hollen:

I’m sorry, but I’m just not motivated enough to give the DCCC any money.

I gave money to President Obama’s campaign in 2008, and I have been a faithful Democratic voter, but lately I’m just not seeing the point.

You see, I’m gay, and as much as the DCCC might be right that we queers have no other realistic choices when it comes to politicians who might stand up for our issues, frankly I’ve been feeling as though we queers really have no choices at all.

Even with a Democratic President, a Democratic majority (even 60 votes until earlier this year!) in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, you all have not managed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or even to extend equal immigration rights to same sex couples.*

How about you manage to get any of these tasks done—and I mean signed, sealed and delivered, not just promising to do them—and then get back to me about my giving any money?

Sincerely,
David C. Lauri Jr.

*Yes, you did finally get the federal hate crimes law amended last year. Sorry, but that’s not good enough.

The Democrats want me to spend money, but the Democrats don’t want to spend any of their political capital. President Obama will throw us queers a bone or two when it doesn’t matter, but when the Republicans are filibustering DADT, does he say anything? Nope. And speaking of that filibuster, why can’t the Democrats make the Republicans actually hold an actual stand-on-your-feet-talking-until-you-drop filibuster?

Yes, there are other political partiesparties that actually support full equality for queers—but giving them money or votes would be as good as throwing my money or vote away.

So instead I’ll continue voting for the Democrats, because I don’t want a Republican appointing Supreme Court justices, but I won’t give the Democrats any more money. (And I’m not the only faggot to stop giving the Democrats money.)

Update 9/22: It seems that the DCCC got my message more quickly than I’d anticpated—according to my site logs, someone from 192.43.248.17, an IP address assigned to the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, DC, visited my blog yesterday evening. Not that it’ll make any difference in how the Democrats approach keeping their promises on gay issues or in dealing more effectively with filibusters in the Senate, I’m sure.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

I'm kinda pissed at black people right now.

President-Elect Barack Obama
Change, but not for everyone?
It's not because Obama won — I'm glad he won. I voted for him, I donated money to his campaign, I think the country and the world will be better off with him as President, and I even think gay people will be better off with him instead of McCain appointing justices to the Supreme Court.

The stupid Yes on 8 campaign logo, protecting their damned families from the horrors of gay marriage
California families are safe now that the queers can't marry any more
What pisses me off is that Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in California to "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California" won fairly narrowly, about 52 percent to 48 percent, but what pushed the measure over the top was the overwhelming support of black Californians, who voted 69 percent to 31 percent to discriminate against their gay and lesbian neighbors.

And I'm kinda pissed at Obama too. His campaign encouraged record turnout among all kinds of people but especially among African Americans. And although Obama thought Proposition 8 was a bad idea, speaking out widely against the issue wasn't something he felt important. And perhaps he was right to shy away from it, although with the polls in the last days of the campaign showing how overwhelmingly he was going to win in California and nationwide, I think he could have risked appearing in a No on 8 ad the weekend before the election.

This is just the latest in a long string of episodes involving African Americans joining up with other people to push for discrimination against LGBT people. Just last year "black ministers [in Dayton were] outspoken in their oppposition to" updating our city's non-discrimination ordinances to include protections for LGBT people. Of course last year's episode also included a courageous African American politican, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, who stood up for the ordinance and got it passed despite the potential harm to her career.

A big part of why I'm pissed off is that I've worked to end discrimination against black people, and yet tons of black people feel compelled to discriminate against me. My involvement's not been only token stuff, like marching in Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches, which, yes, I have done every cold January for years (thank God we queers picked June for our marches!). I've volunteered with the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations since 2001, helping to faciliate groups in churches, schools, businesses and homes to get white people to understand the trememdous privilege we have because of the color of our skin and the structure of our country and to help black people to work with their white friends, co-workers and neighbors to find ways to change the status quo here in Dayton. I've spoken out to people at my predominantly white, suburban church about the need for us to work not only for justice for gay people but also for justice for people of color, and I've worked with others at my church to forge relationships between our church and a more racially-diverse urban church.

Of course my work on race relations hasn't been altruistic. I probably would never have gotten involved in it if I weren't gay, if I hadn't heard a black man at an ugly city commission hearing in 1999 ask me and other white gay activists where we'd been all these years when black people were struggling. While I don't introduce myself to DDRR groups as a gay man and while the point of these discussions is to dialogue about race not sexual orientation, I don't hide who I am, and my being gay usually comes up at some point (such as on the second night of a dialogue group last month where some of the participants noticed my gay car as we were talking in the parking lot afterwards). I work for racial reconciliation not just because I think it's the right thing to do but because I think the more black people who see a gay man working on their issues, the more black people who might take a more positive view towards my issues.

Hence my anger and disappointment.

Is this family safer with gay marriage banned?
This family's safe, so long as daddy isn't down low
Of course I realize that the black civil rights movement has a much longer history than does the gay one. African Americans and their allies have been fighting for their rights much longer than have LGBT people and our allies. So considering the hundreds of years it's taken to end slavery, to end dejure and reduce defacto discrimination, to gain African Americans a political voice, the gay rights movement's come a long way quickly. And white privilege and racial steering and inequality in housing and employment and the criminal justice system aren't going away simply because a black man's been elected President.

Yet despite the differences between the discrimination faced by African Americans and that faced by queers (most blacks can't hide — most queers can; most blacks grow up with supportive black parents — most queers grow up with unsupportive straight parents), our struggles do overlap. In every black church in America there are black gay men and lesbians. Voting to discriminate against queers doesn't affect just white guppies but also affects African American families. And a culture which fosters diversity and equal treatment for everyone, including LGBT people, is more likely to foster diversity and equal treatment for African Americans. And the real danger to African American families isn't white openly gay men and lesbians getting married — it's pretending that no African Americans are queer.

Maybe it's time we had some dialogue about that.

Sunday, October 12th, 2008
John Lewis, one of "three wise men" Senator McCain has said he would consult as president, recently reproved Senator McCain for his and Governor Palin's personal attacks on Senator Obama, warning McCain that he could be inciting his supporters to violence.

And so does Senator McCain heed the words of "a man [he's] always admired," someone whom McCain said could "teach us all a lot about the meaning of courage and commitment to causes greater than our self-interest"?

No, instead Senator McCain "call[s] on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate."

In my book that makes McCain a hypocrite, and I've written a letter to tell him so (for all the good that will do).
October 12, 2008

Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McCain:

You are a hypocrite.

You “call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate [John Lewis’s] outrageous and divisive comments” and yet you yourself, along with the running mate you’ve chosen, make outrageous and divisive comments about Senator Obama’s character, and, until very recently, stand idly by when your supporters shout out cries of “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” in reference to Senator Obama.

You speak against the “shut[ting] down of debate” and you’ve spoken against “negative attack ads,” yet all you’ve done lately is to shut down debate by attacking not Senator Obama’s policies but rather his honor and patriotism.

And has making these personal attacks benefited you? Only if you think given up your own honor, throwing away your good reputation of having sacrificed for our country, and sullying your good name have been worthwhile.

If in fact you do still care about your own honor and reputation, the way to start to restore them now is not to get Senator Obama to repudiate John Lewis, a man whose advice you yourself have said you would value, but instead to heed John Lewis’s words and indeed to heed your own words. Stop making personal attacks, get Governor Palin to stop making them, and instead talk about the issues.

Stop being a hypocrite.

Sincerely,
David C. Lauri Jr.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
Ugh. Politics makes me tired, and here are two examples from yesterday as to how.

The first came after hearing Barack Obama respond on the CNN YouTube debates to a question about the difference between banning interracial marriage and banning gay marriage. Senator Obama say that he wants "to make sure everyone is equal under the law" and then proceeded to say that he thinks giving one set of people civil unions and another set marriage will accomplish that. Great, Obama's officially come out in favor of separate but equal.

So I took the time to look up Obama's campaign website and to send his campaign an e-mail in which I said that he'd never have accepted separate but equal in place of interracial marriages, so how can he think that's right for same sex couples?

And to Obama's campaign's credit, I got a response to my e-mail within 24 hours, but here's what makes me tired. Either their incredibly sophisticated e-mail response computer program or their incredibly stupid unpaid human campaign volunteer read my e-mail, saw "civil unions" and sent me back a lame response explaining all the rights for gay people that Obama supports (and explaining how great Obama is on AIDS issues — why is AIDS (including in Kenya?!) still just a gay issue?), completely ignoring my point that what Obama supports is separate but equal. I already knew Obama supports civil unions and did not need them to send me an automated e-mail telling me so. I might as well not have wasted my time.

The second political thing yesterday that made me tired was attending the Western Ohio regional meeting of Equaliy Ohio. One of the few political activities recently that did energize me somewhat was participating in Equality Ohio's Lobby Day earlier this year, not that it actually accomplished anything such as repeal of Issue 1 or passage of a state-level non-discrimination act, but it was a step. So when I saw that Equality Ohio was having a meeting, I figured I would go.

And what I saw when I got to the meeting, not counting the 2 Equality Ohio organizers who'd driven down from Columbus, was 14 people I already knew from Dayton-area LGBT groups and 1 new person I didn't already know. And what I heard, despite the Equality Ohio guy's asking us how many of us were already on Equality Ohio's mailing lists (all of us but the one new guy) and how many of us had participated in Lobby Day (almost all of us), was a repeat spiel of the history of Issue 1 and the formation of Equality Ohio and how Lobby Day works and how precinct analysis and voter identification helped us in the 2006 election (and how, in a state whose population is 11,353,140 and thus whose LGBT population is at least 113,531 [1%] and more like 1,135,314 [10%] we managed to get 6,500 [0.06%] postcards signed in support of ENDA). Brilliant. Way to reinvigorate the choir.

Finally after that spiel and another fairly brief spiel on the types of activities we could do (outreach, activism, education and visibility), we broke up into smaller groups to talk about specifics. Despite the loss of energy during these spiels, I did have a small energy boost at the idea of doing some local lobbying, similar to what we did on a state level in Columbus, so I headed over to the activism corner, to be joined by two friends from church and PFLAG and by the new guy. Most people, it seems, were more interested in the education-type activities, including, as it turned out, the new guy, who, when asked about what he wanted to do, kept talking about stuff like letting the public know about our issues. Goodbye, small energy boost.

We get back into the larger group, and to wrap things up the Equality Ohio guy wants to know what day next month would be good for us all to meet again. Wait, I said. Why do we need to schedule yet another monthly meeting for all of the same people (Diversity Dayton, Greater Dayton LGBT Center, Dayton PFLAG, Cross Creek Justice and Witness Committee) to come to? So we all came to our senses and did not schedule another Equality Ohio regional meeting, deciding instead that our working groups could stay in touch via phone and e-mail and meet separately if necessary.

If I can drum up some more energy, I might run the idea of a local lobbying effort past some of my friends and acquaintances and maybe something will come of it. Or maybe not.
Monday, October 23rd, 2006
Last Thursday, Andrew-Bryce Hudson of the Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center at Wright State posted an announcement to Wright State’s announcement listserv about an appearance to be held Saturday the 21st by Jeff Johnson.

Jeff Johnson,
BET star,
Youth advocate,
Blackwell campaign
Shortly after Hudson’s announcement was posted, another person posted a reply pointing out that Johnson was employed by Ken Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign as its “advocate to young and urban voters” and saying that perhaps Hudson should have mentioned that fact. Hudson quickly replied with a simple “His appearance to WSU is non-partisan. Thank you.”

That sparked my curiosity. If Johnson’s appearance had been scheduled for several months, as is common for busy speakers, it could well have nothing to do with his work for Blackwell. However, if it had been scheduled recently, after his appointment, then perhaps it was for partisan reasons. I sent Hudson an e-mail asking only “How long has Mr. Johnson’s appearance been scheduled?”. Friday I hadn’t heard anything so I sent another e-mail saying that my question hadn’t been meant facetiously and that I really did want to know. Friday afternoon I saw a post on another matter from Hudson on the listserv, so I knew he was in the office. Today I sent a third e-mail saying that my question wasn’t outrageous nor was it posed impolitely and that I deserved a response, if it was just to say he couldn’t answer my question.

Well imagine my surprise when I received a phone call this morning from Hudson. I hadn’t included my phone number in my e-mails, so he’d taken the trouble to look it up. He said he’d only just received my second and third e-mails today and that it sounded from my third e-mail as if I thought he was ignoring me. I said that yes, I had gotten that impression, and he said he’d been busy with Johnson’s arrival. I said that I understood that but I’d seen he’d been able to post something on the listserv on Friday. He asked why I wanted to know how long Johnson’s appearance had been scheduled and said that he wondered if I’d had any conversations he’d not been a part of. I said that no, I’d seen his original posting and the replies and was just curious, and he said he didn’t like the tone of my e-mails. I said my first e-mail had simply said “How long has Mr. Johnson’s appearance been scheduled,” how could that have a tone, and shouldn’t that be public information. He finally gave me the information I’d been looking for, that Johnson’s appearance had been arranged “for about three months.” I thanked him and thought that was that.

However, I get the feeling that Hudson must be feeling defensive because he also took the time to send a reply to my e-mail, explaining that “[p]er our phone conversation today, you[r] email was not answered until today because of Jeff Johnson’s arrival on Saturday” (which I agree is reasonable—even if he had time to do other announcements related to his job on Friday, he wouldn’t necessarily have time to reply to every e-mail he received) and that “[a]gain, Mr. Johnson’s speaking engagement was arranged this past summer.”

Okay, so Jeff Johnson’s October 21st appearance’s being scheduled three months or so beforehand would put the arrangements at July 21st, before the August 11th announcement of Johnson’s joining Blackwell’s team. Simple enough, especially if Hudson had simply sent me an e-mail saying that, instead of taking the time to find my phone number and call me to question my tone and motives. Actually I can understand why Hudson would question my motives, because my motives were based on what he feared, a suspicion that he wasn’t being entirely truthful or forthright in his original listserv post or his reply to it, a suspicion that he has not allayed. Perhaps Johnson didn’t know on July 21 that he was going to work for Blackwell. Perhaps Hudson didn’t either, and perhaps Hudson wasn’t being disingenuous in omitting the info about Johnson’s employment by Blackwell in the announcement of Johnson’s WSU appearance. Or perhaps not.
Friday, October 20th, 2006
This evening, courtesy of MVFHC, I went to the Dayton Branch of the NAACP's annual Freedom Fund Banquet, the 55th year the dinner was held but the first time I'd ever attended.
The event was held downtown at the Convention Center, and so I can't help comparing the NAACP banquet to the Pride Dinner, which was held several years at the Convention Center and was the last dinner-style event I'd attended there.
frowny face
The first comparison is that at Pride Dinners there were several cash bars set up around the periphery, but at the NAACP banquet there are none. Apparently the NAACP membership, made up of lots of African American pastors and their congregations, want attendees to be sober, although when it comes to fundraising, I'm not sure that's necessarily a wise tactic.
smiley face
The food was better than I remember from years past. The menu featured chicken, of course, but instead of being bland institutional chicken it was actually pretty good and was served in combination with pork in a sweet sauce.
frowny face
The NAACP entertainment in general paled in comparison to that of a typical Pride Dinner. Bless the little ACT-SO performers' hearts, but they weren't exactly enthralling. (And a lip-synching drag queen is? Point taken, but again, alcohol helps loosen an audience up).

Corrine Brown as seen from my distant seat
neutral face
People certainly have no qualms about leaving the NAACP dinner early. NAACP Dayton Branch president the Rev. Dr. Robert E. Baines Jr. bragged about there being two tables for members of his congregation, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, but after his part in the program, a bunch of Macedonians got up and left, obviously not caring to wait to hear the keynote speaker.
smiley face
The NAACP pulls in higher powered politicians. You can count on local Democrats to attend Pride Dinners, but the NAACP banquet gets Republicans too, and not just local ones. Ohio's beloved Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell made a surprise appearance, I guess hoping to shore up what he considers a key constituency, but I was pleased to hear only lukewarm applause for him (Update 10/23: A friend who attended with me disagrees and thinks that most people in attendance probably will vote for Blackwell). And then there was the evening's keynote speaker, Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida.

Corrine Brown
in pink
Brown was fun, and though she was politic enough not to mention Blackwell by name, she didn't spare him any punches, exhorting the audience to vote for people not just cause they "bought a ticket to the NAACP barbeque" but instead because of their stand on the issues and their voting records and reminding us that we need to be vigilant to make sure this year's election is a fair one, unlike the 2000 election in Florida, in which 27,000 voters in her district had their ballots tossed out, and the 2004 election in Ohio, for whose handling Blackwell has been so widely praised (not).
I couldn't see Brown so well from my distant seat on the edge, but she stood out since she was pretty in pink, a color I guess she likes to wear other places too. Now Brown is prettier than a drag queen, but, bless her heart, I have to admit the comparison did cross my mind. I looked for a pic of Ms. Demure (of Harper's Bizzaroworld fame) in pink but couldn't find one.
Looking for websites tonight while writing this, I see that people are just plagued by expiring domain names. The Dayton Branch of the NAACP is one of only a few in Ohio listed on the NAACP website as having its own website (the big three, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati don't have websites), but daytonnaacp.org expired in June this year and was snatched up by a domain name prospector. Ms. Demure used to have a domain name for her show at bazzaroworld.com, but that expired and has been taken over too. Google lists an article about Ms. Demure on queerohio.com, but that just expired this month, though its proprietors may yet reclaim it. How difficult is it to keep track of your domain names, people?
Stupid idea: NAACP is commonly pronounced as N double-A CP. I think it'd be cool if they updated their name to American Association for the Advancement of African Americans, cause then they'd be the quintuple-A.
Monday, October 16th, 2006

Senator Mike DeWine
(soon to be retired, I hope)
I got an e-mail just now from Senator Mike DeWine. I'd e-mailed the senator on September 26 to urge him to vote against authorizing the use of torture and the suspension of habeas corpus rights. Senator DeWine's reply, dated today not only in the header but also in the body of the e-mail (so it's not like a timely e-mail message got delayed in transit), talks about the Terrorist Surveillance Act that DeWine introduced (Senate bill 2455), ending with DeWine's "hope that [his] colleagues will support this measure and give our nation an important tool that it needs to win the War on Terror."

Okay, I can understand that senators can be overwhelmed with correspondence, especially during periods when controversial legislation is being debated, so taking almost three weeks to reply to me isn't the issue. What I don't get is why Senator DeWine's staffer with the initials cak (the e-mailed was signed RMD/cak) would bother almost three weeks after my e-mail and over two weeks after the final vote to send a now-irrelevant e-mail with outdated information. Thank God I don't rely on DeWine's staff for information, or I'd think that the Senate was still considering this issue and might even vote to support DeWine's bill. I hadn't thought before today that DeWine (and his staff) might be not just conservative but also incompetent.

However, an article in today's New York Times, which says the Republicans have decided it's not worth spending any more money in the DeWine/Sherrod Brown race, means that perhaps the conservative DeWine and his incompetent staff won't be around next year.
Saturday, September 30th, 2006
Well I took an hour and a half today and made some phone calls (80, to be precise) for MoveOn.org's Call for Change program. I don't know how much difference it will make, but it was fairly painless. The last time I did this kind of calling was in 1992, at a phone bank set up in a union office on a back street in the Oregon District. Now you don't need a phone bank — everyone just uses his or her cell phone, which is especially good because, since cell phone long distance is free, organizers can have volunteers call across the country to key districts.

All my numbers were area code 724, south west Pennsylvania, near West Virginia, places I'd never heard of, like Waynesburg and Carmichaels and Wind Ridge and Jefferson. So I was in Ohio calling on behalf of Bob Casey, who's running against Rick Santorum for Senate. Casey's adequate on gay issues (also a bit stupid on gay issues — he supports "same sex unions that would give gay couples all the rights, privileges and protections of marriage" but just doesn't want to call it marriage). However, Santorum is pure evil, so it felt good to do a little work towards getting him defeated. Don't forget, santorum means "that frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" (oops, yet another thing Mr. Pyle probably shouldn't see).
Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
Yesterday evening I attended a Community Conversation put on by the Centerville Washington Diversity Council at Centerville High School on "Gay & Lesbian Issues at the Intersection of Faith & Public Policy." I would not have chosen to go to this on my own — I'm way past the point where I need to hear the same tired arguments brought out by conservatives that homosexuality is wrong and homosexuals need compassion and cures — but my friend and pastor, Mike Castle, was on the panel and asked for people to come be in the audience to support him. Another friend and Cross Creeker called me at work a few hours before the event to see if I'd be going; he was worried about going alone. As you can see from the picture, he needn't have worried. Between Cross Creek and PFLAG there were lots of supportive people there.

Tom Harry
Tom Harry
Normandy United Methodist Church

John Bradosky
John Bradosky
Ephiphany Lutheran Church
Mike Castle
Mike Castle
Cross Creek Community Church

Paul Pyle
Paul Pyle
Dayton Christian High School
I suppose it's good that Centerville and Washington Twp. have a diversity council and that they're willing to discuss gay issues. Still the diversity of the panel selected for the program was a bit ironic — four white men, all Christian, all Protestant. That last bit was unplanned; Dr. Brad Kallenberg, professor of theology at the University of Dayton was originally supposed to be a panelist (no, wait, Kallenberg may actually also be a Protestant), but his spot was filled by Mr. Paul Pyle, who teaches Bible and Yearbook at Dayton Christian High School. Rounding out the panel, in addition to Mike, were the Rev. John Bradosky of Epiphany Lutheran Church and the Rev. Tom Harry of Normandy United Methodist Church. I hadn't met any of these other panelists before. It was only upon hearing about the event that I learned that Harry is the father of a friend of mine at Cross Creek, and it was only after googling Bradosky that I learned he is Centerville's official chaplain (thank God I don't pay Centerville taxes or I'd be pissed).

The format of the evening was that the moderator, WDTN's Marsha Bonhart, posed six questions (presumably written by the Diversity Council), each of which was answered by two panelists (one from each side). Then after a break there was a very brief time during which she read selected written questions from the audience for various panelists to answer. I liked how Bonhart started her duties as moderator; she said she had to be impartial but implied (especially later) that she personally supported the pro-gay side. Rather than echo the questions and responses, I'll highlight some points that caught my attention.

Homosexuality
is an
abomination
but
incest is not!
(You still
shouldn't
fuck kids!)
Bradosky talked about the holiness code found in Leviticus and pointed out that although lots of sexual behaviors are banned, such as adultery and incest, it is only homosexuality to which the term "to'ebah" or abomination is applied. Since Bradosky took such care to point that out, I suppose he feels that homosexuality is worse than incest. I guess it's refreshing that unlike most conservatives he sees a difference between incest and homosexuality.

Bradosky also went multiple times to the creation story in Genesis (surely he realizes there are two creation stories in Genesis) and said that since the story's all about God creating Man and Woman for each other, homosexuality must be wrong. Sex, he said, is about the reunion of two parts. Penises and vaginas fit together. Poor guy doesn't seem to realize that penises and rectums fit together too, as do penises and mouths.

Bradosky certainly knows the party line on homosexuality. Other old faithful points he trotted out include:
  • love the sinner and reject the sin
  • marriage has always been defined as heterosexual (hmm, well marriage hasn't always been defined as one man, one woman, though, has it?)
  • that the majority decides issues is the American way (too bad the majority in the South couldn't vote to continue slavery or Jim Crow laws?)
  • Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair (hmm, I guess there's no need to work for justice here on Earth; just believe in Jesus and you'll get your rewards in heaven)
  • research on long-term same-sex marriage says such relationships last only 7 years, while the average heterosexual marriages last 21 years — pressed later for a source he said the Institute for Sex Research, which I couldn't find online (does he mean the old Institut für Sexualwissenschaft from Berlin? does he mean the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction?)
    What I did find online says that marriages last an average of 9.4 years, not 21.

Pyle did pretty good for his team too. He kept insisting on two things, that we have to live our lives by Biblical authority and that homosexual behavior leads to destructive behavior. Pyle does acknowledge that the Bible is silent on some "disputable matters" on which people may disagree, but lest we think that Jesus was silent about homosexuality, we need to remember that Jesus went back to Genesis to answer a question about divorce and Genesis is, as Pyle's teammate Bradosky already pointed out, all about Man and Woman fitting together, so actually Jesus said homosexuality is wrong without having to resort to so many words. In the words of the Church Lady, how convenient! that we have Pyle to interpret the Bible for us.

Responding to a later followup question about what he would do if a child of his came out as gay to him, Pyle told us about his daughter who suffers from mental illness and how he struggles to help her find counseling that will help her avoid destructive behaviors. It's obvious that Pyle didn't get the memo that the American Psychiatric Association doesn't consider homosexuality to be a mental illness and that he doesn't know a whole lot of gay people. After the forum, I went up to Pyle to invite him to come to Cross Creek where he can get to know some gay people whose lives aren't all about destructive behavior. (I suppose I should hope Pyle never finds the pics I took at Folsom, though he can find plenty of pics of heterosexuals engaged in destructive behavior too if he cares to look.)

Harry did an okay job explaining what he saw the purposes of marriage to be (procreation, faithfulness, sacrament which points to God's loving nature, and support/companionship) and explaining that procreation was more than fertilization but also nurturing and caring for children. I'm sure he came across as wildly secular humanistic though to the conservative members of the audience because when asked in a followup question what the authority for his beliefs was, he said he'd sort of come up with his views on his own (an honest answer which probably mirrors my own thoughts but not appealing to people who like Biblical Authority).

Mike personalized the issue, talking about his partner Dan and their children Gideon and Jamie, about how Dan wouldn't receive Social Security spousal benefits if Mike died and about the difficulty in providing legal protections for their non-heterosexual family. Oh well, in the words of Pastor Bradosky, "Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair."
Saturday, September 16th, 2006
OK, it's official. Dick Chema will be running against Mike Turner in the November election to represent Ohio's 3rd district in Congress, having beat Charles Sanders handily in yesterday's special Democratic primary 5,263 (yes, one of those votes was mine) to 1,686, a 75% margin that might seem encouraging.

However, there are over 300,000 registered voters in the 3rd district, and less than 2% of them cared enough to vote for Chema. In May's primary election, Stephanie Studebaker for 12,363 votes, out of a total of 22,082 Democratic votes. Of course, more Democrats came out to vote in May since there was more to vote on. But in May's primary election, Mike Turner, running unopposed, got 35,511 Republican votes, or 62% of all the votes cast for 3rd district candidates. In November 2004, Turner beat Jane Mitakides 197,290 to 119,488, also by a margin of 62%.

So Chema's got quite a task in front of him over the next 7 weeks. Can he win just by convincing more Democrats to come out to vote? I doubt it. Can he get any Republicans to vote against Turner? It'd be quite surprising, wouldn't it?


By the way, why in God's name does the Montgomery County Board of Elections post election results in PDF format?
Tuesday, September 5th, 2006
I'd like to say that I met my new congressman today, but that might be a bit optimistic. I did attend the grand opening of the campaign headquarters for Richard Chema, one of two Democrats running in the special primary to find a replacement candidate to oppose Mike Turner in the race for Ohio's third congressional district. I went because I wanted a chance to talk to Chema and also because his new office is in my old neighborhood.

I figured Chema would be okay on gay issues, but it's always nice to hear it directly and to see how comfortable a candidate is talking about it. I asked him where he stood on gay rights, and he said that he didn't believe "government belonged in the bedroom," an answer that's not entirely satisfying, so I followed up by asking whether he'd vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would add sexual orientation as a protected class, and he said he would, going on to talk a bit more about keeping government out of "the bedroom."

There are two problems with his immediately thinking of the bedroom when asked about gay rights. The first is that when the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, they effectively got the government out of our bedrooms, so while I'm glad Chema agrees with that, it's not really a current issue. What's more important is that being gay's not just about sex, no matter how much the radical right would like everyone to think that, and no matter how often even progressive candidates like Chema think that subconsciously. Being gay, at least openly gay, is also about finding housing and jobs and public accomodations, and being in gay relationships is about providing for and protecting one another. Keeping the government out of our bedrooms isn't enough, which I think even Chema knows, although he's not at all articulate about it.
Monday, April 17th, 2006
No, the law doesn't give homosexuals special rights

Today while listening to WMUB I heard the depressing but not suprising news that Citizens for Community Values had succeeded in preventing implementation of an update to Cincinnati's human rights ordinance. What was even more depressing was listening to John Hingsbergen's explanation of what that update entailed. He said the law had been changed to extend protection "to homosexuals and transgendered people." Wouldn't that have been special? Homosexuals get protected against discrimination, but any of you heterosexuals can still be fired for being straight. No wonder there's talk about special rights.

Except it just isn't so. And amazingly CCV's website gets it right where WMUB and the Cincinnati Enquirer and even gay newsmagazine the Advocate all get it wrong. As the CCV notes in its headline, the law was changed to include "sexual orientation and transgender status." That means that not only would it be illegal to fire a faggot just for being gay but it would also be illegal to fire a breeder just for being straight. It's not about giving queers special protection. Sure, there's hardly an epidemic of straight people getting fired for being heterosexual, but they would get equal protection under the law, whether or not they need it.

To Mr. Hingsbergen's credit, after I e-mailed him to complain about the bias in his report, he promptly responded and acknowledged that his phrasing was biased, promised to include my comments in a Friday Feedback segment on WMUB and even asked if I'd be interested in sharing my views or even possible writing and recording a commentary on the issue.

Unfortunately the cross that I carried last Friday — apathy — is all too apropos. I really don't have enough energy or drive to write or do a commentary on this, beyond what I've just written here.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Today was a unusual Valentine's Day for me. It was Predatory Lending Lobbying Day in Columbus. Though I do work on a contract basis for the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC), which through its Predatory Lending Solutions Project helps victims of predatory lending, my job is web design and database development, not fair housing. My boss (and friend) wanted me to come along anyway, and it was certainly an interesting educational experience for me.

All the MVFHC staff plus some of the MVFHC board plus some MVFHC clients went to Columbus along with people from across the state to lobby state representatives to support Senate Bill 185 which would extend the Consumer Sales Protection Act to the mortgage industry and establish a fiduciary responsibility for mortgage brokers to act in the best interests of their clients (the day was organized in part by COHHIO). I got to meet one of

Rep. Dixie Allen
Rep. Dixie Allen's staffers (Rep. Allen, who was out of the office, covers the district in which I used to live),

Rep. John White
Rep. John White (who covers part of Dayton's south suburbs) and Speaker Jon Husted, in whose district I live now.

Allen was already on board to support the bill, but it looks like White and Husted will both support the bill too. Husted was interesting though because he explained that although he supports the bill, that it'll be difficult to get Republican representatives from suburban and especially rural districts to support it since they don't see predatory lending as a problem affecting their constituents.

What was even more interesting for me, though, were brief conversations I got to have with White and Husted about House Bill 515, a bill that would ban gay people from being foster or adoptive parents in Ohio and would also ban heterosexuals whose households included gay members from fostering or adopting. One of the co-sponsors of the bill is

I guess Seaver
hadn't taken enough
English classes yet
at Wright State
to be able
to write his
autobiography himself
Rep. Derrick Seaver, who is a student at Wright State. Apparently Seaver thinks people such as my pastor and his partner shouldn't offer homes to unwanted babies.

I hadn't planned on mentioning HB515 to White, but we actually met with White in Seaver's office, which White pointed out as we were leaving (the office features pictures of Seaver's "as told to" autobiography Kid in the House, which tells how he ran for office at age 17), and I couldn't resist saying that, yes, I knew who Seaver was, a co-sponsor of HB515, which White should oppose, and White actually said that he did oppose that bill, that it was a hate bill. Interesting coming from him since he touts his religious background and many religious people from his background would say this bill wasn't hateful but necessary.


Speaker Husted
Husted I had intended to say something to about the bill since I live in his district and had brought a letter to him about the bill. I stayed behind as people left his office so I could tell him that I hoped he would oppose the bill, and he actually had quite a bit to say about it, including that he wouldn't let the bill even get to committee to be considered and that he thought such bills were divisive and turned focus away from the real issues facing Ohio. Apparently Husted is himself adopted and knows that many kids in Ohio still need homes.

So that was a little encouraging, that there are Republicans willing to oppose such hateful nonsense. Of course I doubt that the proponents of HB515 see the legislature as their only avenue. They'd love to put a gay adoption ban on the ballot to get conservatives to come out to the polls in November and vote Republican. But we'll know by May if they plan to do that since they'll have to get their ballot measure language approved.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

Issue 1 votes in Montgomery County


Presidential election 2004 in Montgomery County

See that island of dark blue slightly to the right of the center of first map to the left (you might need to zoom in to see it)? Those are the precincts in Montgomery County that voted against Issue 1 by a margin of at least 2:1. I live in one of them, Dayton precinct 1-B, which voted 307-90 against Issue 1, or a margin of about 3:1. (The gray areas also voted against Issue 1, just much more narrowly.) The vast majority of my immediate neighbors think that I should have equal rights, or at least that Issue 1 went too far in denying me equal rights. That shouldn't be too surprising since many of my neighbors are gay. So if you have to live in Dayton and want to live in the best part of town, check out the Oregon District.

The second map shows how precincts in Montgomery County voted in the presidential election. (Both these maps come from an article by Dayton Daily News reporters Jim DeBrosse, Lawrence Budd and Ken McCall.) You'll notice that in this map I live in a somewhat larger island of blue, roughly corresponding to the city of Dayton. (My precinct isn't dark blue, however, as some of my neighbors, even some gay ones, supported Bush.) Interestingly, there's a gray section from the first map that is pink in the second map (perhaps Oakwood and parts of Kettering?). Maybe these are the Republicans who actually listened when Governor Taft and Senators Voinovich and DeWine told them Issue 1 was a bad thing.

What does this mean for me? I'm still leaving. I wouldn't mind living on an island, but I'd prefer a different one.

Friday, November 5th, 2004

local copy -- click for a larger view

This is incredibly something-ist (elitist, classist, academicist?) and is probably meant more as humor (snopes.com debunks an urban legend on a similar theme) than something serious, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Of course the fact that I learned about it on a university listserv probably says something about this viewpoint too, but I don't care -- I still agree with it. I'd point you to a blog entry or an article, but there isn't one, just this graph on a webserver that doesn't have an index page (though there are references on google to the site).

What am I talking about? This chart showing which states were blue and which red in the election along with the average IQ for each state. All the states with average IQs over 100 voted for Kerry; none with average IQs lower than 99 did. Bush has a mandate, all right, but not an incredibly bright one.

Update 11-09-04: Cartoonist Ted Rall, who happens to be an ex-Daytonian, has a column out today that explains why Kerry voters are smarter than Bush voters.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004

I knew it was coming and I knew what people in Colorado and Cincinnati felt like when their neighbors voted to make them second-class citizens, but I didn't expect to feel so depressed once it officially happened in Ohio. I suppose I should take some solace in the fact that Ohio's amendment passed with a lower percentage than amendments in other states (only 62% of Ohioans think that not only should I be barred from marriage but also from even civil unions -- whoopee!). I suppose I should take some solace in knowing that 2 million Ohioans did in fact vote against Issue 1. I do take some solace in knowing that most of my friends and family voted against Issue 1.

It's not solace enough however. I didn't choose to be gay and I didn't choose to be an Ohioan. Although some might argue that in fact I can do something about the former, everyone must acknowledge that I can do something about the latter. There are states and in fact countries in which gay and lesbian people can have equal rights. I don't have to beg and plead with people in Ohio to treat me equally. I can leave and go someplace where I will be equal.

This is similar to a decision I made several years ago to leave the United Methodist Church. It wasn't that there aren't good people in the Methodist church, but it was that I was tired of being in a place where people were always arguing and voting about whether I deserved to be treated equally as a child of God. I was incredibly lucky to meet people forming a new church in which all would be truly welcome and equal, and we were lucky to find a denomination which has already had the arguments about whether gay people are made in God's image and deserve fair treatment. That church is Cross Creek Community Church, and it's something about Dayton that I'll miss.

I have a scholarship to study in Germany for six months next year, so I was going to get away from the divisiveness in the United States anyway. I'm not sure what I'm going to do after that. Probably grad school, probably somewhere in the United States, but it won't be in Ohio. The incredible freedom of being out is that I face less (overt, at least) discrimination, for example, in employment, because I wouldn't take a job someplace that didn't accept gay people. I'm going to apply that freedom to where I live too.

Monday, November 1st, 2004
Two reasons for feeling rather hopeless about tomorrow's election:
  1. This morning a nice guy in one of my classes thanked me for being honest with him about why he should consider voting against Ohio Issue 1, said he had to vote his conscience nevertheless, and hoped we could still be friends. I replied that I appreciated his integrity in being honest with me, that we could still be friendly (there's no point in hating), and that I didn't think I could truly be friends with someone who would vote to make me a second-class citizen.
  2. This evening I spent a little time in gay.com's Dayton 1 chat room where I learned that at least two ditzy faggots there did not even know what Issue 1 is. One said he spends too much time chatting with his online friends to read newspapers. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that straight people haven't done any research on gay issues, but I naively hoped that gay people at least would be less apathetic.
Here's hoping the concentration camps have good dance music.
Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Understanding Republicans, part 2

I'm sure you've seen at least one yard this election season with signs both for Bush and for Kerry. It's understandable given how divided our country is that there would also be politically divided households.

Less conceivable is that even this year, when the Log Cabin Republicans refuse to endorse Bush and when famous gay Republican pundit Andrew Sullivan risks alienating his core audience by endorsing Kerry, there are still some gay people who not only are voting for Bush but aren't in the closet about it.

Still I wasn't terribly surprised to see a Bush sign in the yard of a single gay neighbor of mine, but I was surprised to see in that same yard a sign for Jane Mitakides. Okay, in case you've never heard of her, she's the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress for Ohio's 3rd district. Sorry to say, she has no chance of winning, despite her being endorsed by former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe (I think that in Ohio, Briscoe, Mitakides and senatorial candidate Eric Fingerhut all have name recognition issues). I plan to vote for her, of course, because I think her opponent, Mike Turner, was a shit when as mayor of Dayton he opposed an ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. I fail, however, to understand how someone who supports the president's core Republican values would not also be pleased by Turner. President Bush himself this week in Dayton said that he knows we're all "proud of Congressman Mike Turner" and that he thought Turner was "doing a great job."

I don't know if my neighbor is a Democrat for Bush or a Republican for Mitakides or just an independent (I did e-mail him to ask why he was supporting both George and Jane but he never answered). I guess it means I should cut my straight Republican friend some slack. (Or then again, maybe not, considering the photographic proof this week that Bush's campaign isn't above lying to win votes.)

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

Understanding Republicans

I have a very close straight female friend who voted against Bush in 2000 who confessed to me last night that she plans to vote for Bush this time. The reason? She doesn't like John Kerry. She saw a documentary that said he lied to get his medals in Vietnam, and she's offended that he spoke against the Vietnam war. She thinks if Kerry wins we'll have socialized medicine. She doesn't trust John Kerry. She thinks that Bush is what this country needs to keep it safe against terrorism. To top it off, even Robin Williams, she says, is conservative.

I love my friend dearly but her using Robin Williams as justification for voting for Bush seems to explain Republicans in a nutshell. She'd been forwarded an e-mail that listed a bunch of sarcastic conservative statements that Robin Williams supposedly said. See, she said, even Robin Williams is conservative. Except it just ain't so. First of all snopes.com found the original e-mail with no mention of Williams. Second of all, Robin Williams does fundraisers for Democratic senate candidates and jokes that "Bush complaining about a lack of intelligence seems sort of redundant." My friend would rather take some conservative propaganda at face value instead of examining it critically. Are all Republicans like that?

The documentary my friend saw was probably the Sinclair Broadcasting program featuring information from Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal. Whether Sinclair's airing of this program was right has been covered by many other bloggers and columnists, but what gets me is that my friend criticized Fahrenheit 911 as being biased propaganda that she didn't need to see. She can make judgments about John Kerry based on one program, but it offends her sensibilities to even watch something that's critical of the president. I pointed out to her that Kerry is the man who risked his life in Vietnam while Bush pulled family strings to stay as far away from Vietnam as possible. That doesn't matter to her. She thinks Kerry lied to get his medals and then dishonored them by speaking against the war. She wouldn't put it this way, but for her a coward is better than someone brave enough to speak his mind.

She also said that most veterans are against Kerry. She's seen the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads. She hasn't bothered to do any research as to whether these claims are valid. She has a computer which she uses to forward chain e-mail (such as the Robin Williams one), but she can't be bothered to google "Swift Boat Veterans" and do any reading. I've sent her a link to a truthout.org report discrediting one of the Swift Boat vets. I've also sent her a link to MoveOn PAC's Republicans Voting for Kerry ads. Considering that my friend herself is a Republican who voted against Bush, I hope she'll take time to consider her decision this time instead of just voting against Kerry based on having heard only one side.

I had to laugh out loud when my friend cited Kerry's plans for socialized medicine as a reason to vote against him. First, I'm not sure "socialized medicine" is an accurate way to describe his plans for reforming health care. More importantly, I asked her if she thought Democrats were likely to take control of Congress. When she finally quieted down and listened to me, she admitted that Republicans would probably retain control of Congress. How then, I asked, was Kerry going to implement socialized medicine? Were Republicans in the House and Senate going to roll over and pass whatever he suggested? Hell, Bill and Hillary Clinton had a Democratic House and Senate and couldn't get health care reform passed. My friend is a nurse and so perhaps she knows more about our country's great health care system than I do, but even if Kerry's plans for health care are bad, couldn't she hold her nose and vote for Kerry anyway, counting on political gridlock to fend off major changes?

Understanding heterosexuals

My friend knows I'm gay, of course, and she has many other gay friends. She doesn't think we're evil or sinners. She's conservative enough that calling gay relationships "marriage" makes her uneasy, but not so uneasy that she hasn't gone to gay weddings. Yet she had the audacity last night to tell me that gay marriage wasn't her issue. That made me angry, it hurt me, and I feel betrayed. I told her I was disappointed in her. She tried to say that friends can have different political views, which I guess is true if you disagree about taxes or health care, but to me it's not quite the same when it comes to amending our state and federal constitutions to make me a second class citizen. I pointed out to my friend that she's been divorced twice (a low blow, perhaps, but it's the truth that she, like so many heterosexuals, is hardly in a place to tell gay people anything about how sacred marriage is) and asked her how she'd feel if these amendments were about restricting marriage to people who'd never been divorced. That thought had never occured to her, because heterosexuals just take their rights for granted. It doesn't matter that she's failed at two marriages; she automatically assumes that she should have the right to marry again if she wants. That I would not have the right to any recognition of a relationship, not even civil unions, is less important to her than feeling safe against terrorists.

"Marygate" came up, and my friend, who doesn't think homosexuality is a choice, said she was offended by Kerry's having brought up Mary. Never mind that Mary was already out, never mind that Dick Cheney himself mentioned Mary specifically when asked a general question about gay marriage, my friend was offended by Kerry. Why would she be offended by Kerry but not by the fact that Bush and the Republicans have demonized homosexuals? I truly do not understand. My friend is not alone, however, because most heterosexuals, even those who say they have no problem with homosexuals, were offended. I've already accused Lynne and Dick of being hypocrites about the matter. They're also quite sly, too. Tap into the latent homophobia that most heterosexuals have and divert their attention from real issues. It works well, and I have a very personal example of it.

Feeling tired

I was angry at my friend, but now I'm really just tired, and yes, a bit bitter. Tired, because I really don't feel like wasting the time it will take to try to get my friend to think, to read information she wouldn't go out to find on her own, to see other points of view, to make an informed decision about whether she can really trust Bush more than Kerry. Bitter, because if my friend hadn't let her intentions slip, she would have gone on to vote for a man who uses oppression of people who are her friends as a way to retain power. This is not an apt comparision (at least I hope it's not), but I feel like a Jew in Germany in 1932 whose Christian neighbors held their noses about Hitler's anti-Semitism because they liked the feeling of security and national pride he brought them. Ironicially in 2004 I think I'd rather live in Germany than the United States.

Friday, October 15th, 2004
Andrew Sullivan points out a reason why Mary Cheney's parents are hypocrites that I hadn't remembered yesterday. Dick Cheney said that Kerry's reference to Mary's being a lesbian made him "a pretty angry father." Well, do you remember that Illinois Senate candidate Allan Keyes called Mary "a selfish hedonist" since she was a homosexual? As Sullivan points out, neither Dick nor Lynne Cheney denounced Keyes for what he said about their daughter. It's okay for Allan Keyes to call Mary a selfish hedonist but not for John Kerry to say Mary is being who she was born to be? Kerry's remarks make Dick an angry father but Keyes' remarks don't?

Well there's a dirtier name than "selfish hedonist" to call Dick Cheney. Just like his wife, Dick Cheney is a hypocrite.
Thursday, October 14th, 2004
Remember how Chris Harbinson got so upset because he thought outsports.com called him gay?

Apparently Chris Harbinson is not the only one to think that being called gay (which actually he wasn't) is a horrible slur. Lynne Cheney is quite upset that John Kerry called her daughter a lesbian in last night's presidential debate. Lynne thinks that Kerry's having said that Mary Cheney is a lesbian is a "cheap and tawdry political trick." I can see why she might think that. Kerry making up something like that to further his liberal agenda really would be horrible, wouldn't it?

Except wait.

Unlike Chris Harbinson, Mary Cheney not only is gay, but she's also said so herself. Apparently Mary doesn't think being gay is so horrible. She even worked as the gay liaison at Coors. Of course one might question Mary's judgment since apparently she also doesn't think Bush having a second term is so horrible either and she also doesn't think a Federal Marriage Amendment is so horrible either, at least not so horrible that she should speak out against it. (If you want to ask her why, send her a letter.)

So Mary doesn't think being gay is so bad, but perhaps Lynne has deeply held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong and that homosexual sex is wrong.

Except wait.

Lynne Cheney is an author, and one of her books, Sisters, features hot steamy lesbian sex. Did Lynne write the book under a pseudonym? Nope, she sure didn't, but she did write the book long before she knew her husband would be Vice President in an administration that sells a conservative Christian agenda. It's okay for Lynne to write about hot steamy lesbian sex, but it's not okay for John Kerry to tell the truth about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation?

It seems to me that it's Lynne Cheney who's agreed to play tawdry political tricks. I also know a name to call Lynne Cheney that's worse than "gay" or "lesbian." Lynne Cheney is a hypocrite.
Thursday, October 7th, 2004
Today I read a report on Queer Day that Ohio's two senators, both Republicans, oppose Ohio Issue 1. Not that they don't believe marriage shouldn't be restricted to opposite sex couples, but, amazingly, they think the proposed amendment to our state's constitution goes too far.

I'd been thinking for a while now about writing something about this issue. The other day a guy who's been in a couple of my classes, a nice guy who knows that I'm gay, told me that he thought marriage by definition could be only between a man and a woman. I told him that my church disagreed and asked whether he would vote for an amendment that would deny me rights. He didn't have an answer. Perhaps that means he's going to vote for Issue 1 anyway but couldn't say so to my face. Perhaps that means he's going to think about it.

    Also this week I've received a few mass mailings from the Human Rights Campaign, encouraging me to talk to people about the difference between Kerry and Bush when it comes to LGBT rights. That's important too, and compared to Bush, Kerry is wonderful on gay rights, but even Kerry originally said he was for state level amendments such as the one passed earlier this year in Missouri. This is one issue on which Kerry really has flip flopped, later saying that he opposes Missouri's amendment because it not only banned gay marriage but also banned civil unions. I realize in the grand scheme of things that there are issues more important than gay rights, but it's depressing that a presidential candidate can be so ill-informed. Ohio Issue 1, like the amendment passed in Missouri, would ban civil unions, and if Kerry could be ignorant of that fact, millions of much less politically aware heterosexual Ohio voters could be too.

So today I've done it. I wrote an e-mail and sent it to my family, neighbor, professors, and friends. You can read it below.

Now it's your turn. If you live in Ohio or if you know people who live in Ohio, you need to talk about Ohio Issue 1. Even people who feel compelled to vote for Bush should be forced to think about whether they really want to vote for Issue 1. No one should be able to go to the polls on November 2nd without thinking about a gay person they know or at least a person they know who cares about gay people.

   
This New Yorker cartoon is funny
but the issue is serious.
    From: David Lauri
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2004 11:34 AM
Subject: Please take a few minutes to read my thoughts on Ohio Issue 1

I know that many people find discussions of politics distasteful, and that friends and families often avoid talking about political issues for the sake of keeping peace. While that is understandable, I'm violating that practice with this e-mail because I believe it is important that each of you consider Ohio Issue 1 not as some abstract question but as real policy that affects people you know. Each of you receiving this e-mail probably knows many people who will be affected, but you all know at least one such person, namely me.

In case you're not already aware, Issue 1 would amend our state constitution to restrict marriages in our state to "union[s] between one man and one woman." In addition it would ban any "legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."

That first sentence may seem a no-brainer to you. However, have you considered the significance of the second sentence?

Many people, including Ohio's two Republican senators, think that the second part of the amendment would not only ban civil unions but would also ban things such as health benefits offered by state and local governments for same sex partners. Both Senator DeWine and Senator Voinovich said yesterday that they oppose Issue 1 because they think the proposed amendment should not contain this second clause.

Realize then that if you vote yes for Issue 1, you are not only voting to ban same sex marriage but that you are also voting to take away medical insurance coverage for same sex partners of students and employees of state institutions such as Wright State. Do you really think that such benefits harm you or your families? Is taking away such benefits so important that you want to put it in our constitution?

I also want to ask you to consider whether Ohio should ban civil unions. A great deal of the debate on the issue of gay marriage has centered around the word "marriage." Many people believe that marriage by definition is between a man and a woman and that the term "gay marriage" is an oxymoron. I don't agree, but I can understand the basis of that argument.

Yet just because you believe the word "marriage" should not be redefined does not necessarily mean that you must be against equal treatment of same sex couples. You may think that two men living together is a sin, but do you really think it necessary to deny them the right to visit each other in hospitals or nursing homes? You may disapprove of two women having spent their lives together, but do you really think it's necessary to prevent one of them from making decisions about funeral arrangements for the other?

Civil unions are the answer that Vermont chose in order to grant its gay and lesbian citizens some protections while retaining the traditional definition of marriage. California has similar provisions that fall under the term domestic partnership. Do you really think that civil unions or domestic partnerships harm you or your families?

Realize that if you vote yes for Issue 1, you're not just saying that you believe in a traditional definition of marriage, but you are also voting to deny any protections whatsoever to same sex couples.

Lastly, I have to ask you, what possible good do you think this amendment will do?

Do you think Issue 1 will make gay people realize the errors of our ways and convert to heterosexuality? Well whether you approve of my "lifestyle" or not, I'm sure you will believe me when I say that I will not be marrying a woman, no matter how the voters of Ohio constitutionally define marriage.

Do you think Issue 1 will strengthen the institution of marriage? Do you seriously think that straight people will stop getting divorced because of Issue 1? Even if you believe that heterosexual marriage is the pillar of our society, do you really think that Issue 1 will cause more straight people to take marriage seriously? How does preventing me from legally marrying a man keep Britney Spears from entering frivolously into marriage?

Do you need Issue 1 in order to live your life righteously? In other words, are you going to become homosexual if Issue 1 does not pass? Are you going to divorce your wife or your husband if Issue 1 does not pass? Does your relationship with God depend on denying me rights?

Think about these questions and the concerns I've raised. If you've taken the time to read this far, Issue 1 is no longer abstract for you. Even if you still intend to vote yes on Issue 1, you can no longer do so without thinking of me.

And if you intend to vote no on Issue 1, think about talking to your other friends and relatives about this issue. Make this issue personal for them too. Tell them that you have a gay son, a gay brother, a gay nephew, a gay neighbor, a gay student, a gay friend, and that therefore Issue 1 affects you personally too.

David
   
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004
Andrew Sullivan points out a report that the Social Security Administration wants to remove language protecting gay and lesbian employees from its next labor contract. Without that language, the SSA could say to any gay employee, "We don't like gay people. You're fired," and there'd be nothing to be done about it.

Many Americans think that firing someone just because he or she is gay or lesbian is illegal, but that's true in only ten states. If you're thinking about voting for Bush, think about your gay relatives and friends. Do you really want a president who thinks it's okay to fire us for being gay?
Wednesday, September 8th
If I'd waited a day before posting yesterday, I'd have had the news I was looking for: the Log Cabin Republicans have decided that they cannot endorse the President. Not endorsing Bush however is not an endorsement of Kerry. I wonder who Patrick Guerriero will be voting for.
Tuesday, September 7th
Proving that there are indeed gay people everywhere is the group Log Cabin Republicans, gay men and lesbians whose admiration for the likes of Ronald Reagan persuades them to set aside their distaste for things such as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment because they believe that core Republican values are more important than any single issue. However, I read that even they are uncomfortable about endorsing President Bush (not that they're about to endorse Kerry instead). As far as I can tell as of today, they haven't made their decision.

Do Log Cabin Republicans think that Bush worries about not getting their endorsement? Perhaps it's more likely that he worries about actually getting it. In an article released today Bob Knight, from the Culture and Family Institute, writes that "LCR is just part of the radical, leftist crusade to transform America into Sextopia" and that "It's time for the Republican Party to realize its mistake in giving Log Cabin any official recognition." It seems to me that if those dirty left wing cocksuckers fine young gay Republicans do actually endorse Bush, the president will have to decline their endorsement to save face with a more important wing of his party.

I can appreciate that Log Cabin Republicans "work within the[ir] party for change." I just wonder if they appreciate that their voting for Bush will likely result in laws and Supreme Court justices who meet the approval of Bob Knight and Concerned Women for America.
Friday, August 6th, 2004

Bush tells the truth for once

I'm still not going to vote for him, but I have to give President Bush credit for finally telling the truth once. Before signing next year's defense appropriations law, he admitted that he and his cronies are always thinking about ways to damage this country and its citizens and are just as bad as the terrorists he claims to oppose. His exact words: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Of course the president probably didn't really mean what he said, but that's just as bad since it shows what an idiot he is. I first read about his latest poor choice of words in one of my favorite online features, Bushism of the Day, part of the web magazine Slate.com.
 

Fahrenheit 9/11 shows that
making faces is one skill
the president does have.

I wondered what Bush supporters might say about this column, and one thought that crossed my mind is that they'd say its author, Jacob Weisberg, was making things up. So I hopped over to another favorite site of mine, news.google.com, and typed in part of the quote. Sure enough, lots of papers verify that the president did in fact say he was as bad as the terrorists.

Is Kerry any better?


Now here's a man who does
choose his words carefully,
perhaps too carefully.
  Having picked on Bush, I also want to comment on the man who will get my vote this year, John Kerry. Of course I do know that Kerry is in fact better than Bush, but somehow I can't whip up the same enthusiasm for him that many people seem to have. If you're wondering why, it's his stand on gay rights.

I take some comfort in the fact that Kerry was one of only 14 senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. Logically that makes Kerry better not only than Bush but also than Clinton, a "gay-supportive" president who signed the damned thing into law. However emotionally I can't help remembering that Clinton mentioned gay people a lot, including in his 92 and 96 convention speeches, and with Kerry we're back to being the love that dare not mention its name. Kerry did say we should "honor this nation's diversity" and that we should "never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States." Yet he seemed to have decided that saying the "g" word would be too big a risk. That doesn't leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy for him.

And when it comes right down to it, Kerry does not support equal rights for gay people. He's against amending the federal constitution, but only because he's a states righter, not because he supports gay marriage. He's completely fine with the proposed change to the Massachusetts state consitution, having said, "If the Massachusetts Legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection." He obviously doesn't care that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that separate is not equal, or at least he thinks that concept doesn't apply to gay people. He also doesn't get that giving the citizens of his home state civil unions denies them the equal protection that married couples get from the federal government.

So there you have it. I do think we need to get rid of Bush, who is at best stupid and at worst evil, but my vote in November won't really be a vote for Kerry but rather a vote against Bush. (And no, I'm not going to vote for Nader, who does support gay marriage, since I think voting for Nader would really just help Bush win re-election.)
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003
Since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court finally issued its ruling yesterday (that gay and lesbian citizens of Massachusetts have a right to marry whom they choose), I've been rather surprised by two things. The first is the excitement in the gay community over online polls about the public's opinion on the issue. The second is the news media's short memory.

Starting shortly after the ruling was issued yesterday and continuing on throughout today, people have been coming into the Dayton 1 chat room on gay.com to urge us to vote in polls about gay marriage on web sites of papers around the country. People popped into Dayton 1 to tell us about local polls by papers in Pittsburgh and Seattle and elsewhere and national polls by CNN and USA Today. Today the Dayton Daily News had a poll and I got at least three e-mails from people urging me to go vote in it.

It's just a shame that so many people are putting so much effort into such a waste of time. These polls don't mean anything, and even if they did, they shouldn't.

First, the software used by DDN doesn't prevent multiple votes. I voted "yes" three times and in that short period there were twenty-five "no" votes cast. Somehow I don't think there happened to be twenty-five people voting no at the same time I was voting yes. More than one person, sure, but more than one person voting multiple times. When the DDN closes the poll, the only thing the poll will tell us is whether it's left wing or right wing fanatics that care more about voting in the poll.

Second, even if the poll were an accurate and scientific representation of public opinion, it doesn't matter. The rights of minorities shouldn't be subject to the whim of the majority. That's why we have federal and state constitutions, to protect inalienable rights that shouldn't be subject to revocation by the majority.

That brings me to the other things that bothered me. I read in more than one media account of the Massachusetts ruling that it was unprecedented and unique. Well, it's not. The supreme courts of both Hawaii and Alaska ruled that denying their states' gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry was unconstitutional -- Hawaii's court did so ten years ago, in 1993. The fine people of both Hawaii and Alaska then amended their state constitutions, both in 1998, to be sure that a minority was not protected from the will of the majority.

So what's the best use of the time and energy of queer people and our allies? To run around and urge each other to vote in a thousand little online polls? No.

Instead we need to give each other a little civics lesson, we need to give that civics lesson to our friends and family, and all of us and all of our friends and our relatives have to write our state and federal representatives and senators and give them the civics lesson. And that lesson is that Americans have constitutions for a reason, to protect the rights of Americans. If we start amending our constitutions to deny rights to certain Americans, what's to stop us the next time from stripping another group of its rights.

We might also want to remind our elected officials that allowing gay people the right to marry does not harm anyone's religious freedoms. Right now any church, mosque or synagogue can refuse to marry a heterosexual couple on whatever grounds it chooses, whether it's that the groom is of the wrong religious faith or that the bride is divorced. That won't change when it comes to gay weddings. If your church thinks gay people are going to hell, fine -- don't do gay weddings. There are plenty of churches that will welcome gay couples.

If my little rant motivated you, get busy and write some letters. Here are the links to find the addresses of your Ohio state senator, your Ohio General Assembly member, U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senators. After you write some letters, if you want to go vote in some polls, have fun, but you might find writing some letters to the editor more productive.
 
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