Monthly Archives: July 2015

A Return to Maycomb

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For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
Isaiah 21:6

The above passage from the Book of Isaiah is where the title for Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman comes from. The title itself tells us much about the book. The twenty-first chapter of Isaiah for tells the fall of Babylon because of its wickedness. Babylon had once been a shining city admired by all, but it was filled with wickedness: decadence, liars, manipulators, and all sorts of other evils. For Lee, Babylon symbolizes the South. While the watchman would tell of the fall of Babylon in the Book of Isaiah, the Supreme Court has ruled that the South must change in its decision Brown v. Board of Education. The old South can no longer stand and its old principles of “separate but equal” must end. Thus the South follows the fate of the fall of Babylon. Nothing will ever be the same.

Like Isaiah, who is an outsider in Babylon, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch is an outsider to her home in Maycomb, Alabama. The twenty-six year old Scout has been away for eight years, first to college then to New York. When she returns to Maycomb in the summer of 1954 or 1955, at first she thinks Maycomb has changed, but not as drastically as it really has. She merely sees the cosmetic changes of an ice cream parlor where the house she grew up in once stood. Her Aunt Alexandra is the woman of he house, not Calpurnia, the black maid who helped raise her and is now too old to work. As all people who go away and come home again, she thinks she knows more than everyone and is more enlightened, though she feels that her father is as enlightened as she is. Atticus is her idol, as he is for all who ever read To Kill a Mockingbird.
Then her world crashes around her when she discovers that her father is part of Maycomb’s Citizens Council. For those of you unfamiliar with the White Citizen’s Councils of the South, they were social organizations similar to the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, but with the sole purpose of maintaining segregation. They formed throughout the South in the aftermath of the Brown decision. When she sees Atticus and her fiancé Henry sitting idly by listening to a speaker deliver a hate filled speech, she becomes physically ill. She feels betrayed by her father and all she thought she held dear. The first half of the book is introducing us to Maycomb after a decade or so has passed since To Kill a Mockingbird; the second half deals with the fallout of Scout’s discovery.
First let me address the provenance of the book, the official story is that Go Set a Watchman was the original draft of To Kill a Mockingbird submitted to the publisher. According to the story, Lee was told that the editor liked the flashbacks to childhood, and she should rewrite the book and focus only on the childhood. Lee did this and it became To Kill a Mockingbird, while Go Set a Watchman was placed in a safety deposit box and basically forgotten until Lee’s lawyer came across it a year or so ago. Others have speculated that this was a failed sequel, which I do not believe and let me tell you why. First of all, while it may read like a sequel, there are parts of this book in which the passages are nearly identical to those in To Kill a Mockingbird. I can see Lee using passages from a first draft in a rewritten final draft, but I cannot see Lee using passages from a first book in the sequel. That would be far too lazy and completely out of character for Lee. I don’t think the question should be “Is this books first draft or a failed sequel?” but should be, “Did Lee’s lawyer manipulate the then 88 year old Lee into publishing a book that she had not wanted to be published?” Alice Lee, Harper Lee’s longtime lawyer, protector, and and sister, is dead, and her young partner is now Lee’s lawyer. Alice, who died in November 2014, wrote in 2011, that Lee “can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.” In February 2015, the State of Alabama, through its Human Resources Department, launched an investigation into whether Lee was competent enough to consent to the publishing of Go Set a Watchman. The investigation found that the claims of coercion and elder abuse were unfounded, and, according to Lee’s lawyer, Lee is “happy as hell” with the publication. I not so sure that Lee wasn’t coerced or tricked into publishing the book, but we have to hope it wasn’t against her wishes. There will always be questions surrounding the publication of Go Set a Watchman, and I doubt we will ever know the truth.image
Second, let me address the nuances and changes of racial attitudes in the book. This has been one of the major criticisms of Go Set a Watchman, that Atticus is a racist in the book but was a champion of black people in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus was a champion of fairness and the law, but there is no doubt he had prejudices. He was a rural white southerner and a product of his times. Remember that Atticus was a legislator during To Kill a Mockingbird. In Alabama in the 1920s, few politicians were elected who were not members of the Klan. I’m not saying it was right, but most of the people in the Klan of the 1920s thought of it as being members of a social club or civic organization, much like the Masons, the Kiwanis, and Civitans. Hugo Black, a Supreme Court justice and champion of civil rights on the bench had been a member of the Klan. Furthermore, most white southerners felt a paternalistic relationship with blacks during the early 20th century, but southerners have always been conservative which means they don’t like change to come quickly. Southern men like Atticus Finch would have felt that southern blacks were not ready for full equality or for desegregation. He would have felt they needed more time. One of my pet peeves is for people to place modern beliefs and ideas on their interpretation of the past. We can look back and say something is wrong and backwards by our way of thinking, but we also must put ourselves in their mindset. To Kill a Mockingbird is very frank about racial attitudes of the South, and the good guys are champions for southern blacks, but Go Set a Watchman is a far more complex and insightful book on the realities of race in the 1950s. Not everything is cut and dry like in To Kill a Mockingbird.


Go Set a Watchman
may never be seen as the masterpiece that To Kill a Mockingbird was, but it has a historical significance far greater than its literary significance. Go Set a Watchman allows us to see the nuances of racial attitudes in Alabama in the 1950s. Whether that is how Calpurnia is portrayed, how Atticus is portrayed, or how Jean Louise is portrayed, the realities and subtleties are portrayed quite vividly. In Go Set a Watchman we get an almost firsthand account of what it was like for Harper Lee to return to Alabama after living in New York City. Jean Louise thinks she has become enlightened through her education and her time in New York City, but the big question is: has she? We get to see her real attitude, and we are fortunate to have Uncle Jack Finch guide us through the subtleties of southern racial attitudes. We like things to be in black and white, but in reality they never are. And that’s what makes Go Set a Watchman a true masterpiece.

I had planned on discussing the parallels of race in the 1950s to gay rights in the 2010s but I’m not up for writing that right now. Hopefully, that will be a post for next week. In the meantime, go out and buy Go Set a Watchman if you haven’t, and give it a chance. I think if you read it objectively and with an open mind, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I look forward to a day when someone collects the writings of Harper Lee from the newspapers and journals she contributed to as a student at Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. I’m not sure that will be anything soon because of copyright and legal issues, but maybe some day. And there has always been the rumor that there really was a second book, Harper Lee’s great race novel, that Lee has refused to allow anyone to see because she was afraid she could never live up to To Kill a Mockingbird again.


P.S. I personally think she already did live up to it with Truman Capote’s
In Cold Blood, which I believe she wrote as she had the talent for it and Capote did not. It was well known that Capote, a childhood friend (Dill in TKM and GSW) was jealous of the success of TKM, and I’ve always suspected that Lee actually wrote most if not all of the book but let Capote put his name on it because she had already decided she wanted out of the limelight.


The Hunt Is On

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About a week ago, a friend of mine told me that he had been watching this great little web series, and he thought I’d like it. The show is called Hunting Season and he described the show as a gay version of Sex and The City. In many ways that is exactly what it is, but it’s also a whole lot more. As he was talking about it, I googled the show to see what it was all about, and I was shocked at what I found. Hunting Season was inspired and largely based on the popular blog “The Great Cock Hunt” by “Alex” and the novel of the same name published by Kensington Books.

Alex chronicled his sex life in the blog “The Great Cock Hunt” from 2005 to 2008. I loved reading the blog and even read the book. I have missed Alex, and once I read that Hunting Season was based on his blog, I couldn’t wait to watch the series. I watched all of the first season in one day, almost in one setting, and then watched season two with the friend who introduced me to the series.

The basic premise of the series is that “Hunting Season” tells the story of Alex (played by the engaging and incredibly sexy Ben Baur ), who has been keeping a secret sex blog and enjoying all the benefits of being young and single in New York – where take out, dry cleaning and sex can be at your door in 15 minutes. The series also involves his best friends are Tommy (Mark Sinoway) and TJ (Jake Manabat) – both also grappling with their own ups and downs.

Written and directed by Jon Marcus, Hunting Season started out in 2013 as a censored version airing on LogoTV and an uncensored version available for purchase on Vimeo. The first seasons episodes ran for about 12 minutes each. The second season, which premiered in 2015, has notably abandoned its short web series format for a longer, cable TV –like “half-hour” length, consists of four episodes, and will cost $4.99 each to purchase and $2.99 to rent. Unlike Season 1, there is not a “censored” version. Both seasons have a slick, professional feel, with sharp, snappy dialogue, and grown-up gay sensibilities.

These are characters that may seem a little unlikeable at first but once you start to get under their skin a little it’s fascinating to see what makes them tick – a lot like real life to be honest.

As well as talking a lot about sex, and showing its characters having lots of sex, Hunting Season embraces the bodies of its characters – taking a realistic approach to how the world works and not shying away from full-frontal nudity when it makes sense within the context of the narrative.

I don’t live in New York City, and my life and experiences are a long way from those of these characters, but the questions, the conversations, the doubts, hopes, fears, and aspirations that all form part of these stories have a universality that most gay men will be able to identify with in some way.

Hunting Season is a grown-up gay series for grown-up gay men. Well worth watching. I hope they will have a season 3, and hopefully it will not take two more years.
 It needs support though, so please go watch it.

Website: http://huntingseason.tv

Season 1: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/huntingseason

Season 2: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/hs2/126528348


Being Unemployed Is So Much Work

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For the first time in nearly a week, I was home and able to work on job applications. For nearly fourteen straight hours, I worked on retooling my résumé and CV to best showcase my skills and crafting different cover letters for each different job. It’s a much longer process than most people realize.

The academic jobs are the easiest because the CV and basic cover letter remain the same with a few changes here and there, but the kicker is the electronic submission of applications. Nearly all colleges use the same system, and those who don’t still ask for the same information, but none of the systems talk to each other. They should have one place to enter the job application information, but no, it has to be made more difficult so with each application you have to enter the same information over and over again. The thing is, all of that information is already on my CV. One college was actually smart and had you uploaded your CV first, and the program culled it for information and filled in the blanks. Then it allowed you to edit it or add anything that was missing. Sadly, it was the exception to the rule. Most require you to type in all the information over again.

Then there are the non-academic jobs. Because the jobs at museums, archives, and historical societies are so different, the cover letters have to be almost completely different. I may be going about this all wrong, but I’ve read all the articles I can stand to read on how to create a better résumé, how to tailor your CV, and how to write a cover letter that will grab a potential employers attention and showcase all the skills I have and how they are relavent to the position. Oh and don’t forget the longer the CV the better, but a résumé shouldn’t be no more than three pages max, and of course, the cover letter needs to be one page (It can be two but no one’s gonna read it if they think it’s too long). All the rules just makes you want to scream. If someone has any advice on how to make this process less painful, I’m all ears.

Anyway, I have tomorrow mostly at home too, so I’ll be continuing to keep churning out applications. I work all day and at the end of the day, it still seems like not much has been accomplished. But I will keep plugging away at it, until I’ve applied for all the jobs for which I’m qualified. Some of these jobs would put me in some pretty cool places: Richmond, Charleston, Austin, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, Houston, etc. and y’all already know I’m ready for a move.


Are You Going to Stay?

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Are You Going to Stay?

Thomas Meyer

What was it I was going to say?
Slipped away probably because
it needn’t be said. At that edge

almost not knowing but second
guessing the gain, loss, or effect
of an otherwise hesitant remark.

Slant of light on a brass box. The way
a passing thought knots the heart.
There’s nothing, nothing to say.

About This Poem

“Why not take a reflective, little lyric moment, a sort of ‘negative capability’ sigh, and ignite it with a title (question) that demands a yes or no, not a maybe. The result struck me as oddly erotic.”
Thomas Meyer

Thomas Meyer is the author of Essay Stanzas (Song Cave, 2014). He lives in the mountains of western North Carolina.


Perspectives

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Today was the absolutely worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
Because
True happiness can be obtained
Only if ones surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
Creates
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day

Now read from bottom to top.

Optimism versus pessimism, it’s all about perspective, but science has proven that optimism has real benefits to our lives. “Think happy thoughts” is common wisdom that many people rely on for getting through feelings of depression, and painful or difficult situations. Often, people try to be happy when they’re not; hoping that they will become the happy person they’re impersonating.

Much of our behavior depends on our attitudes. If our attitudes are negative, we can expect to be vulnerable to addictions and depression, and the resulting lack of focus and concentration may degrade every area of your life. A positive attitude can be developed by monitoring and disciplining your thoughts on a moment-by-moment basis.

If you are like me, however, this is hard. Yesterday, was actually a bad day for me. My cluster headache shave come back, and I’ve only had brief moments without pain for the past week or so. Furthermore, I’m frustrated with my job hunt. I’m worried about what I will do when the money runs out. To say the least, I’m scared, very scared. I’m also depressed because it looks increasingly like I will end up with a job that once again will it put my education to full use and might not even need me to use it at all. I worked too hard to let it go to waste.

So yesterday I was feeling very depressed. Even on antidepressants, there are days like yesterday. So when my mother called asking me to do something else that would keep me away from putting out more job applications, I got angry, and we had a fight. I always end up being the one to apologize because as many of us know, mothers are very good at guilting their children. I admit that I was unfair to my mother. She has a lot on her mind right now.

She’s getting her mother ready to move into an assisted living home, and she’s packing up the house I grew up in because they are finally selling it (they built their other house several years ago as a vacation home but decided to move their full-time). She also suffers from fibromyalgia. So I know she’s under a lot of stress, and she’s on constant pain. But am I just selfish because I want her to remember that I am unemployed and looking for a job and I need time to be able to look for that job? Maybe I am, but I already feel like I’m being pulled in a dozen directions when there are other family members who could help, but because I am unemployed and childless, I am the one expected to do it all.

Also, I have a problem with saying no. I hate to disappoint, and I often care too much what others think of me. So on most days I “put on a happy face” and “think happy thoughts” even though I feel like I’m dying inside. I tried very hard to keep a positive outlook on things, but right now, it’s looking very bleak.

A friend sent me the words above, and at first, I thought, “Well, they kind of summed up my day.” But hen I got to the end and red it from the bottom to the top. The words were the same but the message was the complete opposite. So, I am going to try to put on a happy face. I do have wonderful friends who help me when I’m down. But while I keep a happy face to the public, no one really knows (except those who are reading this), that I sometimes cry myself to sleep at night because I scared of what the future holds. Yet, I keep praying and hoping at hat God will help alleviate those fears and things will be for the better when all the dust settles and I find a job.


Christian Persecution

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Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.1 Peter 4:16

Lately in the news, we’ve heard a lot about religious freedoms laws, because people are afraid they will be persecuted for being Christians. The idea that in America that people would be persecuted for being a true Christian who follows a loving God, is preposterous. Sadly, however, Christian persecution in the United States is real. It’s just not what you think.

Christian persecution isn’t about having to offer birth control to women. It’s not about having to serve wedding cakes to gay and lesbian couples. Christian persecution isn’t even having people call you out when you spout homophobic, sexist, or racist opinions, veiled blasphemously as biblical.

Real Christian persecution is having your church burned to the ground because black people worship there.

Real Christian persecution is sitting in a church as a minister misinterprets the Bible to fit his own narrow minded views.

Real Christian persecution is having your church graffitied hatefully because gay and lesbian people can worship there. Real Christian persecution in the United States terrorizes people — often Christians themselves, and more often then not, it is done by people professing to be Christian but persecuting LGBT Christians and LGBT-affirming Christians.

This type of Christian persecution uses hate and violence, because hate always leads to violence, done in the name of God and continuing in the name of God. And Christianity— particularly as it has been historically practiced by white, heterosexual people in the United States—has a very deep, very long history of perpetrating this kind of violence.

The latest victim of such persecution is the Church of Our Redeemer, a Metropolitan Community Church in Augusta, Georgia (MCCOR). It’s an open and affirming church in the midst of a deeply homophobic culture that birthed the Southern Baptist Convention.

The church is a beacon for LGBTQ equality, a home and safe haven for many in the town.

But a neighbor Tuesday morning called the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Rick Sosbe, after noticing a vandal had sought to extinguish the church’s light for equality. Someone had spray-painted “Leviticus 18:22” on doors of the church along with the words “burn” and “lie.” And just an hour away, the KKK, a self-professed Christian organization, is protesting the Confederate battle flag being removed from the South Carolina capitol in the most vile and hateful of ways. Certainly, these two shouldn’t be simply equated with each other, but at their core, both are motivated by hate and by violence toward difference.

Hate, it seems, has become a “Christian” value for some. These Christians use biblical verses out of context to spew their hate and to justify their violence. They may not be as well-organized or as violent as ISIS, but they are no better. Many would love nothing more than to have a Christian version of ISIS in America, yet in the same hate speech they will denounce ISIS without seeing the correlation between the he two.

How in God’s name has Jesus been fashioned into an idol for bigotry? Need we be reminded that almost half of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community are professing Christians? Need we be reminded that the vast majority of Black Americans are Christians? Need we be reminded—yet again—that in the United States, it has almost always been Christians terrorizing Christians?

White Christians have been terrorizing Black Christians for centuries since whites forced African slaves into conversion to Christianity. Heterosexual Christians terrorizing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians for decades and longer. Those categories aren’t mutually exclusive mind you, but it bears remembering that hate crimes in this country have tended to be committed overwhelmingly by Christians, frequently against Christians.

It’s terribly ironic. Christians like Franklin Graham fret and worry about attacks on the Christian faith from Muslims or other vague bogeymen who aren’t white, who aren’t Christians, or who aren’t heterosexual. But the real attack on Christianity is coming from Christians.

As tempting as it is to focus just on this evil and hateful crime in Augusta that’s not the whole story. The MCCOR community is continuing to shine its light in Augusta . Church and community members—even a few passersby—have rallied together to repair the damage, to clean and re-paint. There has been shared joy in the joining together to literally erase the hate, according to folks there.

As always, the whole story can be so much bigger and more generous than an act of hate, and we can be a small part of that. In many ways, MCCOR is a beacon—and a fairly isolated one at that—in Augusta for ministry to and among LGBTQ people. My sister used to live in Augusta, so I know how it is not one of the most welcoming of cities. She and her husband only stayed a couple of years.

May God bless LGBT Christians everywhere and especially MCCOR.

Sources: This is an edited version of a Believe Out Loud post by David Henson who received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He is ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He lives in North Carolina, is a father of two boys, and the husband of a medical resident.

http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/real-christian-persecution-augusta-church-hit-anti-lgbt-hate-crime


Moment of Zen: Coffee

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You sometimes don’t realize how much you miss something until it’s gone.  I’ve missed my coffee the past two mornings. I’ve been with my granny (with limited internet access, only from my phone since she doesn’t have internet) for the past few days.  She will soon be moving to an assisted living home but right now she needs around the clock care and my mother needed a rest, so I’ve been here.  Although no internet is hard enough, having to drink instant coffee is awful.  It honestly doesn’t taste like coffee to me, but it’s the only thing Granny has since she won’t have a coffee maker.  She likes instant coffee for some reason, so I’m desperately ready to get home and be able to have areal cup of coffee tomorrow morning.

PS If you have emailed me in the last few days, I’m thinking of you, but it’s hard to email anything more than a short email from my phone.


EEOC Victory 

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Hopefully you’ve already heard that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a groundbreaking ruling protecting gays and lesbians from employment discrimination. With this ruling in place, LGBT workers in all 50 states who experience employment discrimination can now file an EEOC complaint. “Allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the commission concluded in a decision dated July 15.

While a few Congressmen have tried to introduce non-discrimination legislation that included the LGBT workers, it has always failed to make much headway. For years, Democratic Senator Al Franken has been trying to pass a bill to protect LGBT students in public schools from discrimination. And for years the bill, known as the Student Nondiscrimination Act, or SENDA, failed to even get voted out of committee. Recently, Franken’s legislation was added as amendment #2093 to S1177, aka the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” and last week it came up for a vote on the Senate floor. Senator Lamar Alexander led the charge to vote “no” claiming that it would cause lawsuits. As someone who was tormented as a child with “faggot” and “queer” while,in school, there needs to be some lawsuits to force teachers and administrators who often do nothing, to stand up for kids in their schools. This and other bills that have attempted to end discrimination against LGBT individuals in the public sector have increasingly been voted down by Congress.

Because of the issues facing such legislation, it is a huge step when the EEOC rules that all types of discrimination based on sexual orientation are forms of sex discrimination banned by the Civil Rights Act. Previously, the EEOC limited sexual orientation discrimination claims to cases where workers alleged they were victims of sex stereotypes. The 3-2 EEOC ruling came in a case brought by a federal air traffic control specialist in Miami, who contended he was denied a promotion because he was gay.

So that settles the issue, right? Sadly, that’s not necessarily true. Courts give weight to EEOC rulings, because they are the experts in the field, but it’s up to each court to decide whether to apply this ruling to claims by private-sector employees. SCOTUS does tend to rely on EEOC rulings, but that’s no guarantee.

In many states, it’s legal for employers to discriminate against workers — or not hire people in the first place — because of sexual orientation. That’s why gay activists have been pushing for federal legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, that would make workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity against the law.

The EEOC ruling “is an enormous leap forward and will provide another important tool in the fight against employment discrimination and unemployment experienced by LGBTQ people,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task force. “We need to further attack the scourge of discrimination in a comprehensive manner — and while LGBTQ people may file employment discrimination cases with the EEOC, we still need more. We must push for legislation that provides clear and strong protections for all LGBTQ people in every area of life — from housing to health care.”

“The fight for basic civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people just took a big step forward,” said American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project director, James Esseks. “Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people all across the country now have a place to turn if an employer fires them because of their sexual orientation. This is a significant development because protections for gay and transgender people are almost nonexistent in federal law, and 28 states also lack state-level protections.”


The 25 Days Have Passed

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Finally yesterday two more Alabama counties say they will issue wedding licenses following the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Both Houston and Henry counties had refused to issue any licenses because of gay marriage. After the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage nearly a month ago, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore advised Alabama probate judges to wait 25 days to see if the U.S. Supreme Court would allow for a new hearing. The change in Houston me Henry counties came at the end of a 25-day window in which the U.S. Supreme Court could have reconsidered its decision. Conservative groups in Alabama are still trying to challenge the ruling and are asking the Alabama Supreme Court to follow anti-slavery precedents from the 1850s and resist gay marriage.

Most Alabama counties already are issuing marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight, though a few have refused to issue any marriage licenses at all, forcing people seeing a marriage license to go to another county. I personally think those probate judges should have resigned instead of inconveniencing their constituents, but Alabama law (stupidly) says that probate judges “may” issue marriage licenses but doesn’t say they are required to do so.

“Considering the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act in which Alabamians as well as Houston County residents overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman, it can be reasonably concluded that on the whole, Alabamians and specifically Houston County residents do not support same sex marriage,” Houston County Probate Judge Patrick Davenport said in a statement. “However, after the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling last month and the expiration of the time allowed by law for a rehearing, it is now my legal opinion that same sex marriage is the law of the land and consequently, I am obligated to follow the law.”

The change was very special for two men in Dothan, the county seat of Houston County. Finally, Keith Ingram and Albert Pigg (pictured above) who had attempted to get a marriage license in Houston County several times in recent months got what they’d been seeking on Wednesday morning. The couple were issued a marriage license at the Houston County Administrative Building just before 10 a.m. Wednesday and were married immediately afterwards in front of the building.

“We’re happy that it’s finally come to this day, that love wins, and we’re full Americans (who) have every right that every other American has,” Ingram said. “I was relieved that we don’t have to take any further steps, that we could finally move on to bigger issues that are affecting our country. This is our day.”

Elli Canterbury, who officiated the wedding, said the moment was particularly emotional for her. “I’ve known Keith and his family for quite a while, almost eight years already, and I know they’ve had a long struggle to get to where they needed to be here,” Canterbury said. “Thank God (that) Judge Davenport saw the light, and I’m grateful for him that it happened. I can’t really put into words what it means to me to be here for Keith and Albert.”

Ingram and Pigg first attempted to obtain a marriage license on Feb. 9 after a Mobile Federal Judge ruled that the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Since then, they’ve made numerous requests and attempts. Until Wednesday, Houston County was among about a dozen Alabama counties not issuing marriage licenses to any couples in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples had the right to get married.

Henry County also announced that marriages licenses will now be issued to all couples. Geneva and Pike counties are not issuing marriage licenses to any couples.

“Love does win eventually,” Pigg said. “It’s just a matter of how hard you fight for your rights to be a true American.”


Bunch of Clowns

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Every time I watch the evening news, which I do nearly every night as I cook supper, I get discouraged, and trust me, I don’t need more discouragement after being on the job market. Yet, I keep watching. Of course the big news for the last few days is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump lead the Republican polls with almost twice the support of his closest rival. When I think of Trump, I think of a loudmouth, a real estate magnate, and a man who has driven several of his companies into corporate bankruptcy. The United States has enough problems without Trump causing chaos. Lindsey Graham called Trump a jackass, which is defined as a “silly, stupid person,” but Graham used the wrong noun to describe Trump. Trump is not stupid, but he is an asshole, which is defined as a “mean and contemptible person.”

The reason I say that Trump is not stupid is because, at least right now, his strategy his working. He is drawing attention away from other Republican candidates, and his face is all over the news. The Republican presidential race is so packed with fifteen people running, (or is it sixteen now, I can’t keep up) that Trump is able to lash out at other Republicans and get in the news. In fact, he’s using what I consider the Fox News strategy: he’s being brash, he’s being insulting, he cares little about the truth, and he is playing on people’s fears. Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Carson, Christie, Huckabee, Jindal, Perry, Santorum, and Walker all do the same thing, but aren’t as media savvy as Trump. The others in the pack just aren’t “up to snuff” as my granddaddy would say, but Jeb Bush, I think, will let the dust settle and then he’ll be back in the running.

The saddest thing about the whole Republican race is that most of these people are just plain mean. They have few redeeming qualities in my book. And while Trump said this about the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it should be applied to the group seeking the Republican nomination: “Bunch of clowns. Bunch of real clowns.” The problem is that this set of clowns is of the Stephen King It variety. I honestly believe that they would be disastrous to this country, and it greatly saddens me because I see so many people nodding and agreeing with so much that they say. It is sad to say but it’s true, many Americans have a mean streak a mile wide, and they like bullies like Trump. Trump knows it and he has them eating out of his hands.

image“Just as Hillary Clinton’s clothing and make-up choices should be absolutely off-limits to anyone of substance discussing American politics, so too should Donald J. Trump’s hairstyle. Is it any wonder that a guy like him would surge in the polls when we treat national elections like High School Bullying contests. We’ve pushed this election into his comfort zone with name calling, intensely personal attacks, and useless spin. It’s all he has. We can take it back from him by actually focusing on real issues…something he can’t do. Demand substance and model it. Care about what his politics look like, not his hairstyle.” ‪#‎DemandSubstance‬ – Brian Sims

I am so thankful that the readers of this blog are an extremely kind and giving group of people. You comments and generosity warm my heart on a daily basis. Why can’t more Americans be like y’all? The United States would be a better place if they were.

Here’s a palate cleanser, because politics can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

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