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The Elephant Sneaks into My Wheelhouse

Posted: March 25th, 2013

I’m not a “one issue” per­son. No, really. Some (read: most) of my friends will chuckle at that. They’d tell you that I’m all over LGBT equal­ity, and that I’ve been that way since the GAY LIB days of the 1960s.

That part is true, but I have lots of things on my agenda. I worry about the bro­ken health care sys­tem in the US. I am con­cerned that Uncle Sam flexes his mil­i­tary fist way too quickly. I fear that too many peo­ple remain unem­ployed even though there are pot­holes in the streets that are large enough to swal­low small children.

Those are all crit­i­cally impor­tant issues, and I’m con­cerned about each.

But (and this is often a show-stopper)… you don’t get to talk to me about all those other things until we get past LGBT equal­ity. It is my sine qua non issue.

That’s why the recent switch of Sen. Rob Port­man on mar­riage equal­ity is so inter­est­ing to me.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Sen. Rob Port­man (R-OH)

Mr. Port­man is a Repub­li­can from Ohio. He and I will most likely have a short con­ver­sa­tion because I am def­i­nitely not a Repub­li­can, and Ohio is far too cold for my ten­der bones. But he is the only elected Repub­li­can who doesn’t think my life is a waste of space. He thinks my love for my hus­band has merit, and that (by my own def­i­n­i­tion) lets me hear what he has to say on a whole agenda of topics.

My par­ents started out like most Repub­li­cans. They used words like F*g. It was incon­ve­nient for them because I was never “in” the closet. I was out my entire life. They knew my boyfriends in high school and col­lege, and they main­tained an uneasy silence. They knew I’d react noisily.

When I was out on my own, invi­ta­tions to fam­ily events would come in addressed to me but not my lover. I’d always ignore those kinds of invi­ta­tions. When mother asked about that, I told her why. It was an uneasy truce: no ver­bal bar­rages, but no real peace.

They finally came around. Before they died, they both accepted my lover/husband as part of the fam­ily. I started going to fam­ily out­ings again. My rel­a­tives (adopted fam­ily, no blood) didn’t like the arrange­ment, but nobody ever said any­thing. I can’t ask for more than that. What you think of me isn’t any con­cern of mine. I don’t care what you or any­one else thinks. You can talk behind my back, and that’s just ducky. We’ll only have prob­lems if you say some­thing impo­lite within earshot. That usu­ally includes say­ing things about gay kids who aren’t strong enough to stand up on their own.

My rel­a­tives (adopted) finally fig­ured all that out. Peace was at hand.

I think I’m still a Yella-Dog Demo­c­rat. That term goes back to when Rep Sam Ray­burn (D-TX) was Speaker of the House. When some­body asked him if he’d ever vote for a Repub­li­can, Mr Ray­burn said he’d rather vote for an old Yella-Dog.

Will and Sen. Rob Portman

Will and Sen. Rob Portman

I think I’m still one of those, but now I will eagerly give Sen Port­man a listen.

What’s more, I am so happy to see what came from Will Portman’s com­ing out. Will is the senator’s son. He’s a stu­dent at Yale Uni­ver­sity. After Will told his father that he’s gay, it started a two year process of evolv­ing into believ­ing that mar­riage equal­ity ought to be the law of the land.

So, thank you Will. Thanks for being hon­est about who you are. And thanks to your father for hav­ing the guts to go against what has been a rightwing lock on the social poli­cies of the Repub­li­can party.

 

 
 

We the People: Equal Justice under Law

Posted: March 25th, 2013
"Equal Justice Under Law" (SCOTUS)

Supreme Court build­ing, Wash­ing­ton DC

Jus­tice Anthony Kennedy wrote that big deci­sions shouldn’t be made by nine unelected Supreme Court jus­tices. [Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle cov­er­ing a Sacra­mento, CA speech]

I am not a lawyer, but I dis­agree with that. We have a fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion whose Arti­cle Three spends a great deal of ink say­ing the Amer­i­can court sys­tem is in place to keep the major­ity from being a bully.

We the Peo­ple of the United States, in Order to form a more per­fect Union, estab­lish Jus­tice, insure domes­tic Tran­quil­ity, pro­vide for the com­mon defence, pro­mote the gen­eral Wel­fare, and secure the Bless­ings of Lib­erty to our­selves and our Pos­ter­ity, do ordain and estab­lish this Con­sti­tu­tion for the United States of America.

With­out fed­eral courts, the insan­ity that per­me­ates poli­cies in the state of Texas would have no check, no bal­ance. The Con­sti­tu­tion is in place as a social con­tract. It has the abil­ity and duty to tell the hate-mongers to sit down. We have a Con­sti­tu­tion that makes it unnec­es­sary for any­one to vote on the basic rights of any­one. Mar­riage is one of the fun­da­men­tal of being American.

LGBT Amer­i­cans want… expect… to be treated equally. Noth­ing more. But cer­tainly noth­ing less.

 
 

Bill Clinton: where we went

Posted: March 8th, 2013
Bill and Al's Excellent Adventure

Seri­ously Pho­to­shopped pic­ture that made the rounds in the 1991 pres­i­den­tial election.

For­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton wrote a piece pub­lished in the Wash­ing­ton Post in which he says it is time for mar­riage equal­ity. That’s nice, but please par­don me if I don’t jump up and down breathlessly.

Bill Clin­ton is the pres­i­dent that got us into this mess. He signed the Defense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA). Dur­ing his reelec­tion bid, he even ran radio adver­tis­ing tout­ing how much he sup­ported so-called “tra­di­tional” marriage.

Clin­ton also insti­tuted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), that awful mil­i­tary law that caused hun­dreds of LGBT sol­diers out of their cho­sen line of work. Back then, Clin­ton met with sev­eral LGBT activists. When they expressed their dis­plea­sure over DADT, the pres­i­dent just shrugged and said we had to accept things.

Where else are you going to go?” he asked.

I still remem­ber DADT and DOMA. I’m still hurt that a politi­cian who actively sought gay sup­port would be so hate­ful in the laws he sup­ported. I am still hurt that he would do radio com­mer­cials brag­ging about how he stuck it to us.

I know for a fact that his wife lost LGBT sup­port because of the hurt of his pres­i­den­tial actions. Maybe we’d have our first female pres­i­dent already if Mr. Clin­ton hadn’t pushed DOMA and DADT. Maybe Hillary would be pres­i­dent if her hus­band hadn’t gone on radio to explain how anti-gay he was at heart.

Where else are you going to go?”

Barack Obama, Mr. Clin­ton. I went with some­one who did what he promised and didn’t change his tune to match what he con­sid­ered expedient.

And if Bill Clin­ton really thinks the Supreme Court ought to strike down DOMA, an op-ed piece in the Wash­ing­ton Post is the wrong forum. The news­pa­per gets a larger read­er­ship. It gets Clin­ton pub­lic­ity about how he has changed.

He could have (and should have) done some­thing more on-the-record. He could have been part of an ami­cus brief, filed offi­cially with the Supreme Court. That would have been some­thing of sub­stance, not merely some­thing with sizzle.

Regard­less of the forum, what Bill Clin­ton said this week is miss­ing two impor­tant words. With­out those two words, his grand­stand­ing efforts in print are just so much hooey.

The two words Bill Clin­ton has shame­fully failed to use: I’M SORRY.

 
 

The National Debt

Posted: January 5th, 2013
14 Amendment (original)National Archives

14 Amend­ment (orig­i­nal)
National Archives

I don’t under­stand why the Con­gress talks about the “debt limit.” When they do some­thing like start two wars, they also say the US will pay for them. Maybe they could read the Four­teenth Amend­ment to the Constitution:

Sec­tion 4. The valid­ity of the pub­lic debt of the United States, autho­rized by law, includ­ing debts incurred for pay­ment of pen­sions and boun­ties for ser­vices in sup­press­ing insur­rec­tion or rebel­lion, shall not be ques­tioned. But nei­ther the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or oblig­a­tion incurred in aid of insur­rec­tion or rebel­lion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or eman­ci­pa­tion of any slave; but all such debts, oblig­a­tions and claims shall be held ille­gal and void.”

What I think needs to hap­pen (short term) is for Mr. Obama to pay what the Con­gress has spent and ignore any debt limit. Isn’t that what he’s required to do by the Amend­ment?
 

 
 

Words Together for the First Time

Posted: December 1st, 2012
West Point chapel

Chapel, West Point, New York state

It’s been a great era for the LGBT com­mu­nity in the USA. Nothing’s per­fect, but the changes have been amazing.

The chapel at West Point — the US Army col­lege in New York state — is hav­ing a wed­ding of two lesbians.

Pres­i­dent Obama, who said that he’d end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” did just that. The Amer­i­can mil­i­tary didn’t implode. Reen­list­ment by non-gay sol­diers didn’t cave like some homo­phobes predicted.

More states have approved mar­riage equal­ity. Hate laws are still on the books in some states, but it is an improv­ing sit­u­a­tion. Every­thing could change in a flash, but it’s good right now.

The big news didn’t make any news­cast. I was watch­ing a TV show (Per­son of Inter­est on CBS). There was an extor­tion attempt against one of the episode’s char­ac­ters: some­one threat­ened to kill “her wife” unless the char­ac­ter did some­thing. Les­bians on prime time tele­vi­sion. It’s hap­pened, even in the tightly puck­ered world of US tele­vi­sion plots. This time was different.

Her wife” was men­tioned with­out com­ment. The fact that the char­ac­ters were LGBT was just an accepted inci­den­tal. There was no sub­plot relat­ing to their gay­ness. Noth­ing in the sto­ry­line was aug­mented or dimin­ished because we had a les­bian cou­ple. That’s just who they were.

I noticed because it was so matter-of-fact. Words that are put together today are com­bi­na­tions I never thought I’d see –

  • her wife
  • his hus­band
  • mil­i­tary same-sex wedding

There’s lots more work to do, of course:

“I think that gay mar­riage is some­thing that should be between a man and a woman.”
— Repub­li­can Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger, August 27, 2003 (Fox News interview)

 

 

 
 

Las Vegas: Only breeders there.

Posted: November 30th, 2012

A fed­eral judge in Nevada upholds that state’s anti-gay mar­riage law.

Dis­ap­point­ing but not a shock: he’s Mor­mon and was appointed by “W”. The rea­son is weird. The judge says gays can’t marry because we can’t “cre­ate” chil­dren. So this guy — who has polygamy in his fam­ily tree — says mar­riage is only for one woman and one man and only because they can make babies. Pro­duc­tive sex is more impor­tant than rais­ing chil­dren. Good to know.

I guess elderly straight cou­ples are next to be hit.

The judge also says that if gays can marry in Nevada, then boy/girl cou­ples would stop tak­ing mar­riage seri­ously. Seriously!

 

 

 
 

2012

Posted: November 7th, 2012

The 2012 elec­tion is over. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with results I like more, if you pre­tend Texas doesn’t exist.

Gov. Mitt Rom­ney gave a gra­cious con­ces­sion speech. If he had talked like a states­man dur­ing the elec­tion, he might have been elected. Some of his more vir­u­lent sup­port­ers are (nat­u­rally) foam­ing with talk of rev­o­lu­tion and impeachment.

I’m not a pun­dit or any­body spe­cial. I just have a set of sen­si­tive feel­ings and expertly honed viewpoints.



Two points and then I’ll shut up about pol­i­tics for awhile (that’s a lie, of course, because I never shut up about pol­i­tics).

  • I was hav­ing a fairly calm con­ver­sa­tion with a guy who prob­a­bly voted a straight Repub­li­can ticket. I didn’t ask; he didn’t tell. I waxed a bit about one of my heroes, for­mer Sen­a­tor George McGov­ern. He died a few days before the elec­tion, and he would have been so happy about the results of the 2012 vote. Back in 1972, I worked my butt off for that man as he tried to keep Richard Nixon from being a two-term pres­i­dent. McGov­ern lost. Nixon kept him­self from serv­ing two com­plete terms because he was a crook and had to resign in dis­grace. The point is that the guy I was chat­ting with said some­thing shock­ing about George McGov­ern: “Who?” Oy.
  • The other point I want to make has to do with voter sup­pres­sion and rigged vot­ing machines. Repub­li­cans sup­pos­edly tried to keep minor­ity vot­ing to a min­i­mum. When they “allowed” vot­ing, it was allegedly on rigged elec­tronic vot­ing machines. If all that’s true, they need to get a new batch of hooli­gans and pro­gram­mers. Their rigged vot­ing machines didn’t rig the vote.

 

 
 

Prop 8 — Mormon Connection Documented

Posted: November 1st, 2012
"8"

8” (doc­u­men­tary)

We watched “8″ last night on the doc­u­men­tary chan­nel. It’s about how the MORMON church pres­sured its adher­ents into donat­ing huge sums of money to the Cal­i­for­nia state bal­lot that removed rights from its LGBT cit­i­zens. There was a time when gay cou­ples could get mar­ried, but Propo­si­tion 8 changed all that.

It isn’t easy to watch. I kept think­ing the IRS ought to declare the Mor­mon church a cult and tax the heck out of them. That kind of neg­a­tive wish is out of char­ac­ter for me, but it’s how I feel.

The doc­u­men­tary dates to 2010, and it’s still hard to watch. Prop 8 has been resoundly rejected by the courts and is headed to the US Supreme Court.

Prop 8 took hun­dreds of LGBT cou­ples who were legally mar­ried and stripped them of that sta­tus. It’s never hap­pened any­where in the US before.

The doc­u­men­tary shows how the Mor­mons secretly orga­nized a mas­sive amount of money to send into Cal­i­for­nia. Church doc­u­ments show the mil­lions of dol­lars being col­lected from adher­ents. Other church doc­u­ments lay out an exotic plan of decep­tion: to make it seem like the church had noth­ing to do with the effort. They came up with a dol­lar amount for each Mor­mon fam­ily, and they strong-armed each head of house­hold to donate that amount… or else.

They threat­ened peo­ple. They lied to the IRS so egre­giously that the US gov­ern­ment had to con­front them about report­ing polit­i­cal activ­ity. The church amended its report on the con­tri­bu­tions, but the num­bers are far from credible.

These guys can’t be trusted, and watch­ing “8” under­scored that to me in indeli­ble ink. They lie. They blud­geon gay kids (caught on sur­veil­lance tape),

Mormon Temple in Utah

Mor­mon Tem­ple in Utah

Church muckety-mucks say gay kids would be bet­ter off dead. And the state of Utah (kind of the Mormon’s ver­sion of a Vat­i­can) has the largest inci­dence of teenage sui­cides in the coun­try. Most of those kids who off them­selves are LGBT. They kids get harangued by their church, and the par­ents usu­ally side with the church (mainly because of strong warn­ings of reprisals both here and in the Mor­mon afterlife.

What is it about this money machine that is a church?  Their choir sings pretty hymns (rak­ing in more money of course).

They do “sub­stan­tial” activ­ity in polit­i­cal cam­paigns (money, bully pul­pit, social net­work­ing), and that is some­thing that the US’s IRS is strictly for­bid­den. The church knows this, so they try to con­ceal their work: sub­terfuge with a sedi­tion chaser.

Shame on them for lying and cov­er­ing up their polit­i­cal activ­ity. Shem on their mem­bers for being the sedi­tion. Triple shame on the IRS for call­ing these lying hate-mongers the tax­able entity they really are (based on their doc­u­mented and sub­stan­tial actions).

I’ve never been so bla­tant about a so-called reli­gion because I really believe in Live and Let Live. But this morn­ing church is — in many ways — about the “Got hates Fags” loons.

 

 

 
 

Care and Feeding of a Retired Archbishop

Posted: October 27th, 2012
Abp Wynn Wagner (ret) on a Rhine River boat (Germany, 2012)

Abp Wynn Wag­ner (ret)
Rhine River boat (Ger­many, 2012)

Unless you are a pub­lic fig­ure (or Mark Raven), I am prob­a­bly going to be slow to anger. That’s my goal, but I am def­i­nitely a work-in-progress.

[WTF]Oth­ers don’t take the same tact. I still have 30+ “friends” on Face­book who report they “like” Mitt Rom­ney. That’s down from about 300. I still feel like I have 30+ “friends” who don’t have enough in com­mon to start any kind of con­ver­sa­tion. They seem to want to stick around, and I don’t know how.

It’s none of my busi­ness who fol­lows me on Face­book. You can “like” whomever and what­ever you want. But.…..

My goal here is to avoid trou­ble “down the line.” I usu­ally don’t do a flame­war in pub­lic (the excep­tion being if you pub­licly bully some­body). But just so you know–

Books

  • I write spir­i­tual books and gay romance nov­els. I even have one tarot book. Yes, that’s all over the pub­lish­ing map. No, I don’t use pen names to keep my romance fic­tion from inter­min­gling with my litur­gi­cal books. Maybe I should, but I don’t.
  • Some authors have sep­a­rate pro­files for their books. It’s a nice divi­sion: per­sonal vs shame­less pro­mo­tions. (shrug) Maybe I’m too stu­pid to do that kind of social pars­ing, but I have one page where every­thing gets thrown together like a tossed salad. My two pub­lish­ers — Mys­ticWays Books (MWB) and Dream­spin­ner Press — have Face­book pages. MWB has pages for Wynn Wag­ner Books and Brent: the Heart Reader. Brent gets its own page because it’s an inductee into the Gay Book Hall of Fame, and MWB says that is a huge deal. I don’t run or edit all those pages: just my per­sonal page. The point is that I still get homo­phobes on Face­book who swear they want to be my “friend.” (scratch­ing head)

Pol­i­tics

  • My pol­i­tics is way out on the left where the busses don’t even run. I’m lib­eral (rad­i­cal?), and I don’t mind say­ing so in public.
  • I’ll usu­ally react when my Annoy­ance Meter goes over about 40% on polit­i­cal matters.

Reli­gion

  • My reli­gion is Old Catholic. That means I like really tra­di­tional litur­gies and very pro­gres­sive spir­i­tual teach­ings. Yes, it’s Catholic. No, it isn’t Roman Catholic. If you’re curi­ous about that, I have some awe­some books to suggest!
  • I am a retired arch­bishop of the Old Catholic Church, and I’m fairly sure that the Church would appre­ci­ate my stress­ing that I don’t speak (or write) for any­body but me.
  • When orga­nized reli­gion crosses what I con­sider a theo­cratic line of proper behav­ior, I will stand up and wag my fin­ger and scream about it as loudly as I can. In many cases, reli­gion (mainly Chris­t­ian and Mus­lim) ought to be ashamed of their bul­ly­ing. It’s fine for them to order their adher­ents to do such-and-such or believe a cer­tain way. It’s a whole other mat­ter if they want me to do or believe what they preach. And I think it’s almost crim­i­nal for a reli­gion to try to insert their dogma into civil law.
  • You don’t have to be Old Catholic for me to pay atten­tion to you. I won’t even sug­gest you “con­vert” but will try to get you pointed in the right direc­tion if you ask.
  • I honor your spir­i­tual pathway.
  • I’ll usu­ally react if you cross the line and demand every­one fol­low your path. Reli­gious fire­fights get nasty quickly, and I really don’t like it when that hap­pens. [cf., Billy Jack]
  • If you really want a philo­soph­i­cal fight, I will usu­ally try to give you a head start. I have a cou­ple of advanced degrees in phi­los­o­phy and the­ol­ogy, so I have the home field advan­tage and I’m not too proud to use it (if push and shove come to play)

 LGBT

  • I’m gay, but I never-ever came “out of the closet.” That would have been dumb because I’ve never been in the closet (except to get fresh clothes each Spring).
  • Since I retired from my day job and from my duties in the Old Catholic Church, I don’t have any kind of tether (or net) to keep me quiet around homophobes.
  • Pick­ing on any LGBTQ per­son in my earshot usu­ally doesn’t end peace­fully. (Just sayin’)

Sports

  • I don’t think it’s a big deal. It isn’t my defin­ing moment, but you hang around me on foot­ball, you will prob­a­bly see me screammg about sports teams (espe­cially Amer­i­can foot­ball). In advance… sorry ’bout that.

The Red Line

  • Finally (and this is the real rea­son for this blog post), I take threats of death and injury seri­ously. Please don’t do it. The “Unfriend” but­ton is fairly sim­ple to use on Face­book, even for a right-winger or homo­phobe. I won’t mind if you use that but­ton. I won’t even mind of you decide to block my posts. Promise.

 
 

Christianity and Islam: the violent underbelly of religion

Posted: October 24th, 2012
The Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834)

The Inqui­si­tion

I take death threats seri­ously, not because there’s any­thing wrong with dying, but because I worry about the peo­ple around me. What is it about self-proclaimed “reli­gious” peo­ple that gives them a license to threaten others?

Because of my gay books, both fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tians and Mus­lims feel it’s their duty to tell me they want me to be dead. Because I wrote a book called Tarot for Chris­tians, one lock-jawed loons wants to burn me at the stake in a fire fueled by copies of my Tarot book.

When the goons pop up on Face­book, they get deleted and blocked and reported. When they com­ment on one of my web­sites, they get deleted. If I see where they are, I usu­ally get their local law enforce­ment in the loop. In other words, I take it as seri­ously as I can.

To the best of my knowl­edge, I’ve never been assaulted or threat­ened by a Bud­dhist or Hindu or Jews. Those reli­gions must be full of slack­ers or something.  ;-)

e-book-burning

Dude, “Kin­dle Fire” is just a trade name.

It’s the Chris­tians and Mus­lims who want to stir things up. The Inqui­si­tion was ever-so real. It was run by a spe­cial orga­ni­za­tion in the Vat­i­can, the Inqui­si­tio Haereti­cae Prav­i­tatis (Inquiry on Hereti­cal Per­ver­sity). The trou­ble is that this orga­ni­za­tion is very much alive in the Vat­i­can. It’s mor­phed a cou­ple of times and has a new name. It’s now called Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith (CDF), but it is the same kind of group pop­u­lated by the same kind of peo­ple. Until a few years ago, the CDF was headed by a for­mer mem­ber of the Hitler Youth. That man had to resign as chief inquisi­tor to become Pope Bene­dict XVI.

God bless Chris­t­ian haters. God bless Mus­lim haters.

To my friends and faith­ful read­ers, a sug­ges­tion: please stick to get­ting e-books instead of paper­backs. E-books don’t burn as easily.

 
 

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