Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sonnets 16 and 17 by Richard Barnfield

Sonnet 16By Richard Barnfield
Long have I long’d to see my love again,
    Still have I wished, but never could obtain it;
    Rather than all the world (if I might gain it)
Would I desire my love’s sweet precious gain.
Yet in my soul I see him every day,
    See him, and see his still stern countenance,
    But (ah) what is of long continuance,
Where majesty and beauty bears the sway?
Sometimes, when I imagine that I see him,
    (As love is full of foolish fantasies)
    Weening to kiss his lips, as my love’s fees,
I feel but air: nothing but air to bee him.
    Thus with Ixion*, kiss I clouds in vain:
    Thus with Ixion, feel I endless pain.
Sonnet 17
By Richard Barnfield

Cherry-lipped Adonis in his snowy shape,
    Might not compare with his pure ivory white,
    On whose faire front a poet’s pen may write,
Whose roseate red excels the crimson grape,
His love-enticing delicate soft limbs,
    Are rarely framed to entrap poor gazing eyes:
    His cheeks, the lily and carnation dyes,
With lovely tincture which Apollo’s dims.
His lips ripe strawberries in nectar wet,
    His mouth a Hive, his tongue a honeycomb,
    Where Muses (like bees) make their mansion.
His teeth pure pearl in blushing coral set.
    Oh how can such a body sin-procuring,
    Be slow to love, and quick to hate, enduring? 
Richard Barnfield was born in Staffordshire, England. In his youth, Barnfield was deeply influenced by Virgil’s work and the 1591 publication of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella, which popularized the sonnet sequence. Best known for his poem “As it fell upon a day,” Barnfield is the only Elizabethan male poet apart from Shakespeare—whom he admired—to address love poems to a man.
Little is known about Barnfield’s life and career, but it is thought that his maternal aunt raised him and his sister after his mother died during childbirth. In 1592 he graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford. At the age of 21 he published his first two books, The Affectionate Shepherd (1594) and Cynthia (1595), both addressed to “Ganymede.” Originally published anonymously, The Affectionate Shepherd expands upon Virgil’s second eclogue, and its homoerotic themes made Barnfield’s poems controversial for his time.
*  Ixion, in Greek legend, son either of the god Ares or of Phlegyas, king of the Lapiths in Thessaly. He murdered his father-in-law and could find no one to purify him until Zeus did so and admitted him as a guest to Olympus. Ixion abused his pardon by trying to seduce Zeus’s wife, Hera. Zeus substituted for her a cloud, by which Ixion became the father of Centaurus, who fathered the Centaurs by the mares of Mount Pelion. Zeus, to punish him, bound him on a fiery wheel, which rolled unceasingly through the air or, according to the more common tradition, in the underworld.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Quotes from the Obergefell v. Hodges Opinions

As a historian, I often wonder how certain events and people will be remembered in history. As Obergefell v. Hodges made its way through the Supreme Court this term, I began to ask myself: how will historians look back at the Roberts Court? The Marshal Court (three three previous Courts of Jay, Rutledge, and Ellsworth heard few cases) is known for establishing judicial review and establishing the court as a equal branch of the federal government.  The Taney Court is best remembered for the Dred Scott case. The Reconstruction Era Courts developed the doctrine of substantive due process based on the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The White and Taft Courts extended due process and the Bill of Rights to the states. The New Deal Courts upheld and strengthened the power of the federal government. The Warren Court was probably the most influential since the Marshall Court, establishing numerous rulings on equal protection and equality during the era of the Civil Rights Movement. The Burger Court gave us one of the most controversial cases, Roe v. Wade, while the Rehnquist Court gave us Lawrence v. Texas and expanded due process. The Roberts Court will probably go down in history as the Kennedy Court. Kennedy seems to be the swing vote on the court as Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito usually vote as a block for conservative issues, while Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan usual vote as a block on more liberal issues. Therefore, Kennedy is the moderate who makes the real decisions in the courts. Decisions tend to go as Kennedy goes.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy once again was the most important vote and laid out Americans' right to marry. But the court was deeply divided, and I think that will be what the Roberts court will be mostly remembered for. In a 5-4 landmark decision Friday, the nation's highest court deemed same-sex marriage a constitutionally guaranteed right, effectively nullifying all state laws that bar gay and lesbian unions.
Justice Anthony Kennedy crafted the court's majority opinion, but the final ruling was hardly unanimous, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all authoring individual dissents. Here are some of the most important quotes from the major opinion and dissents in Obergefell v. Hodges:
"Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations."

"As all parties agree, many same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted. ... Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples."

"In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
"Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening. ... Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept."

"If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."
In Roberts’ dissent, he says that the five justices who voted in favor of marriage equality are making laws instead of interpreting them. However, we all know that as Justice Kennedy so eloquently wrote, “The nature of injustice is that we may not see it in our own times.” All of the important civil rights cases have been decided because there was an injustice that the states or congress refused to address. It has often been the duty of the Supreme Court to I force the principles of due process and equal protection under the law. I disagree with Roberts, the Constitution had everything to do with the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
"The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance. ... It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court."

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”
Scalia consistently belittles Kennedy’s majority opinion on its prose, but if one were to read Scalia’s eight page dissent, you would see that Scalia makes a mockery of his position. His dissent is not based on legal precedent but one childish rant replete with name calling. Scalia should hide his head in a bag because he demeans the prestige of the court as he whines like a toddler who did not get his way.
"The Court’s decision today is at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our Nation was built. Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits. The Framers created our Constitution to preserve that understanding of liberty. Yet the majority invokes our Constitution in the name of a 'liberty' that the Framers would not have recognized, to the detriment of the liberty they sought to protect."
Thomas is merely a hypocrite.  Obergefell v. Hodges does for same sex couples what Loving v. Virginia did for interracial couples. If the Court did not have the right to make decisions about marriage equality, then Thomas would not be a the lone African-American on the Supreme Court Justice but a Virginia prison inmate for his marriage to Virginia Thomas, a white woman. Thomas needs to understand that he can't have his cake and eat it too.
"Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed. A lesson that some will take from today’s decision is that preaching about the proper method of interpreting the Constitution or the virtues of judicial self-restraint and humility cannot compete with the temptation to achieve what is viewed as a noble end by any practicable means."
Alito misses a major point of what the judiciary of the a United States is there for, to protect the citizens of the United States. When legislators fail to protect citizens and make arbitrary and bigoted laws, it takes the judiciary to step in and correct those wrongs. Justice is the conscience of the United States. It is what makes us a land where “all men are created equal.” We are not a nation where some men are created equal and the legislative bodies of this country can create second class citizens of others.
I think the fundamental problem is that the conservative members of the Court do not understand what the purpose of the Court is, which is to provide equal justice for all. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hypocrisy and the Nones

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:26-27
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
Matthew 23:13
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Ephesians 5:11
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."
John 8:7
There is a crisis of faith in the world today. It's not because of liberals, the LGBT, sexual promiscuity, science, drug use, or any of the myriad of things that religious conservatives claim is at the heart of every problem in the world. The greatest problem religious leaders face is their own hatefulness,a me what often turns out to be hypocrisy. I think this tactic of evangelicals is one that is fueled with hatred and fear, two things that I do not believe Jesus would have ever approved of using, but that of something Satan would wholeheartedly approve.
Before I go any further, I want to briefly discuss the concept of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, behaviors, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that one does not actually hold. Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. The modern notion is that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does another, a person who is two-faced, who is inconsistent or phony. Jesus’ teaching on Hypocrisy does not exclude this notion but is far richer. The Biblical understanding enunciated by Jesus is rooted in the original meaning of the Greek word ὑποκριταί (hypokritai) which means “stage actors.” At one level it is easy to see how this word has come to mean some one who is phony. For what they claim to be, they really are not, they are just acting a role. But when no one is looking (i.e. the audience is gone) they revert to their true self, which is some one quite different. But Jesus in his teaching here develops the understanding far more richly that shows how sad and poignant hypocrisy is, what its origin is and how it can be overcome.
In effect Jesus describes hypocrisy as the sad state of a person who reduces himself to being an actor on a stage, because he does not know God the Father. There are many people who live their life in a desperate search for human approval and applause. They discern their dignity and worth, not from God, (who is in effect a stranger to them), but from what other human beings think of them. They are willing to adapt themselves often in dramatic ways to win approval. They are willing to play many roles and wear many masks to give the audience what they want. They are like actors on a stage, who seek applause or perhaps laughter and approval. Most politicians fall into this category. Notice the way Jesus describes the heart of hypocrisy:
Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” ( Matthew 6:1) Jesus goes on to say that they blow a trumpet so that others will see them giving alms, they pray ostentatiously so that others may see they are praying, and they alter their appearance so that others may see they are fasting.
There are many examples of people Jesus would call a hypocrite. I doubt mp that very many of us could pass His test, but there are those who are in the limelight who are outward examples of hypocrisy. The Duggars are the latest example, but far from being the only example, of people who have held themselves up as a model of Christianity: wearing their religion on their sleeves, being politically active, and professing deeply conservative, anti-LGBT, patriarchal, and anti-science views. Some members of the family have adopted a particularly evangelical bent to their faith, telling other Christians: if you aren’t as conservative as us, you’re not real Christians. 
"Real Christians" like the Duggars would like to think they're doing God's work. But if they're judged by the fruits of their tree, as the Bible teaches, they've actually driven Americans away from churches. And new research indicates that their entrenched, anti-LGBT positions are part of why Americans are abandoning the faith in record numbers — and not coming back, but it's not just their anti-LGBT positions, it's their intolerance of anyone who disagrees with their brand of hatred. However, this is not something new, and numbers have been declining since the 1950s.
When the Pew Research Center released its latest religion in America survey results, it highlighted a trend that has been ongoing for years: people are leaving organized religion in droves. In response, churches have been attempting to combat this declining attendance, with attempts to “jazz up” services that range from engaging youth pastors, rebranding efforts, building activity centers (I know of one church that put in a bowling alley, while several others have put in coffee bars), and anything else they can think of to get Millennials back — apparently to no avail. The number of people who identify with any religious denomination keeps shrinking.
There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults (those identifying as agnostic, atheist, or “nothing in particular”) in the U.S., according to Pew. In light of this group’s “none of the above” attitude toward existing organized religion, the group is sometimes referred to as the “Nones.”
The Nones are more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to Pew’s latest survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S., and growing faster than any other group. The Nones are more likely to be young, white, and educated, although growth is occurring across almost every demographic.
But the Nones also tend to be one of the most solidly Democratic and pro-LGBT demographics as well. This isn’t coincidental; prior studies from the Public Religion Research Institute have shown that up to a third of Millennial Nones left traditional faith communities because of religious intolerance, especially toward LGBT people.
You would think that because Mainline (Non-Evangelical) Protestants tend to be more accepting of LGBT Christians, that their numbers would be growing, however membership in these churches have fallen faster than for any other group in the Pew survey, by virtually any measure. Some, particularly those in evangelical denominations, blame the declining attendance on the liberalization of these churches, saying they have watered down Christianity into moral relativism, with no clear delineation of right and wrong. Some sociologists hold that demographics, such as differences in birth rates, are the real reason why the ranks of mainline Protestants are declining faster than evangelicals.
Others point to a groundbreaking 2010 study by Putnam and Campbell, which argues there is a strong link between Millennial disenchantment with Christianity and the rise of evangelical conservatism in the 1980s and ‘90s. That study hypothesizes that Millennials have come of age in an environment where being Christian means being conservative (and Republican). More socially progressive Millennials — which is most of them — view the choice before them as an ultimatum of sorts: identifying with one’s political identity, or their religious identity. When it comes down to brass tacks, Millennials are apt to change the latter, given how little effort it takes to drop out of organized religion. In short, when there is a conflict between religious and political identity, the path of least resistance involves giving up the religious one. I tend to think that with twenty-four hour news channels comes more sensationalism that points to the hypocrisy of those who profess their beliefs in Christianity but yet have secret lives that are in direct violation of what they profess as right and wrong. The hypocrisy turns people away from Christianity.
The solution, from Putnam and Cambell’s perspective, would be to sever the link between religion and politics. But recent polling indicates that 57 percent of Republicans want to see Christianity as the official religion of the United States. Additionally, greater religious involvement in government is a core tenet for many evangelicals. But given the shrinking number of mainline Protestants compared to the sizable and growing membership of the evangelical community, the researchers’ solution seems a slim chance of becoming reality.
Sadly, the LGBT community is less likely to be religious than the American population as a whole, according to a recent Gallup poll. Given the scarcity of LGBT-affirming faiths, how often LGBT people have been mistreated by the faith communities they were born in to, and the link between anti-LGBT religions and politics, this reality is unsurprising. But that hasn’t stopped national organizations like The National LGBTQ Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign from having dedicated religious outreach campaigns. These organizations see such efforts as essential to their missions. Chad Griffin, HRC’s president, describes religious outreach as one of the group’s top priorities in fighting for LGBT equality:
“There's sort of two pieces of this work. Number one, and first and foremost, is changing hearts and minds. You change hearts and minds by building bridges and by having a conversation with business leaders, with faith and religious leaders, with community leaders, and also with elected officials at the community level and at the state level.”
These religious outreach efforts have several purposes. According to a National LGBTQ Task Force Report on inclusive religious organizing, “Pro-LGBTQQIA faith-based leaders and leadership structures bring significant resources to the fight — the ability to speak with moral authority to large numbers and through a variety of communication vehicles.”
The ability to have religious leaders testify in favor of pro-LGBT legislation significantly alters the perception that LGBT issues are purely religious or moral, according to the report. It also allows for greater reach into communities where people of color suffer the most from the confluence of multiple forms of discrimination and oppression.
Unfortunately, the influence of LGBT-affirming churches is waning as their membership declines. Relatedly, research shows that increased Internet access — especially when used to access progressive media sources like Right Wing Watch and ThinkProgress — helps tighten the spiral of religious de-identification by consistently pointing out the link between conservative religions and politics.
“For people living in homogeneous communities, the Internet provides opportunities to find information about people of other religions (and none), and to interact with them personally,” wrote Allen Downey, a computer science professor at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering who studied the impact of web access on religious identification. The Internet also provides LGBT Christians, like myself who find that in rural America LGBT inclusive churches are basically nonexistent, with a place to interact with other LGBT Christians. It's one of the reasons for my blog, to reach out to other like-minded individuals.
No matter how the demographics are sliced, the decline in denominational identification is accelerating. So is the decline in church attendance. It seems likely that this trend will continue for years, if not decades. While the end result is uncertain, current shifts in religious messaging imply that a segment of conservative religions will hold on to a core constituency for a long time to come, even without moving toward greater acceptance. A contrarian social outlook (no matter how unpopular) will always have adherents: just look at interracial marriage, which has been legal across the U.S. for more than 50 years. But approximately one in six Americans is still opposed to interracial marriage, according to the Pew survey.
Right-wing pundits who support the church maintaining its anti-LGBT stance have seized onto the fact that evangelical groups are holding on to members better than denominations that affirm LGBT people, yet they don't seem to realize that their own intolerance is what is driving people away from all churches.
In an August op-ed for the Federalist, Daily Caller reporter Alex Griswold sardonically concluded that the fastest way to “Shrink Your Church in One Easy Step” is to become LGBT-affirming. “A number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes,” wrote Griswold. “On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.”
This observation is factually correct, but it misses the bigger picture. Conservative faiths are holding steady while moderate progressive ones are shrinking, but Pew’s research indicates that it’s actually conservative faiths that are making all of Christianity toxic to moderate and progressive Millennials.
LGBT rights aren’t the only social issue where conservative theology drives younger moderates and progressives away. As prominent atheist blogger Hemant Mehta noted at CNN, those conservative faiths are “antigay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, to name a few of the most common criticisms.”
Churches that dig in their heels on anti-LGBT positions might hear more about how that issue is driving away new members, but that’s because public opinion on LGBT people has shifted faster than any of the other issues the church is refusing to evolve upon.
As proof, look no further than a 2007 study by the Barna Group, which found that the most common word used by Millennials to describe Christianity was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about key Christian qualities. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. The next most common negative descriptors were “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics,” according to David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ book UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… And Why It Matters.
Whether the rise of the Nones — and the concurrent decline of moderate religions — ultimately speeds up or slows down efforts to secure legal protections for LGBT people as a whole remains to be seen. What we do know is that is that the rise of the Nones and the increasing acceptance of LGBT people are strongly linked.
And neither is likely to be undone.
A friend of mine who read an early draft of this post, brought up an important point and one that I find the saddest of all about the Nones. While the LGBT and the Nones may be turned away from religion by anti-gay religious organizations and the conservative right wing, each individual has his own choice/free will to choose his faith, religion, and God. All of the blame cannot be put onto these hypocrites - but each individual who turns away from God is ultimately the one who holds the blame and will be accountable for his or her own decisions. God will not give those individuals who turned away from Him a free pass because they were driven away by fanaticism and hypocrisy. The reality of this breaks my heart, which is why I am a primitive restorationist (the core idea of the churches of Christ that we should return to the original church Christ established), who believes we should return to what Christ taught about love and faith in God’s grace.
In the wake of the Surpeme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, we have seen many evangelicals speak out against marriage equality now that it has become the law of the land.  I think more clergy should follow what Episcopal Bishop Robert Wright said in a statement on the Supreme Court decision:
"Today the nation's highest court has concluded that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.
In the days ahead, whatever your position, I ask you to keep close to your heart and lips the words of scripture, that "God is love." Christ's church is trans-political, above all earthly partisanship.
Therefore, if love has won even a small victory today, then let us rejoice."
It's been a very historic week for LGBT Americans, but we must still remember on this, the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, that our struggle for equality is far from over.  We cannot rest on our laurels, but we must persevere and continue our fight until no one will fear being able to come out and stop hiding who the are.

Source: This post is largely adapted from an article from The Advocate, “How The Nonreligious 'Nones' Are Driving LGBT Equality in the U.S.” http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2015/06/08/how-nonreligious-nones-are-driving-lgbt-equality-us

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Moment of Zen: "It is so ordered" #LoveWins

Moment of Zen: Wet Dreams

OMG, did I have a sweet dream about 24 hours ago. I can't believe this but I had a wet dream. I thought only teenagers had those, but it was so intense.
I dreamed that I had come back from dinner and there was my roommate/boyfriend/whatever, and I just went up to him and grabbed his crotch and said, I want dessert.
He was wearing jeans and he flipped over and showed me his ass, and I began to bite and eat his ass through his jeans. By this time, I am rock hard.
I begin to pull down his jeans licking and nibbling as I go, high on his scent and just as I got his jeans halfway down his ass, almost at the exact moment in the picture above, I came.
The smells, the feelings, everything seemed so real.  I assumed it was just a dream, but when I woke, I felt a wetness and realized that I really had cum in my shorts just as I had in my dream.
It was an amazing experience.  I've only ever experienced a wet dream once or twice in my life before this one.  I can't decide if I should be embarrassed or just enjoy the experience.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Won!

The news just came down from the Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges: Marriage equality is officially the law of the land!

Today is a historic day, first for everyone who can now marry the person they love no matter where they live, but also for all of us who are invested in the advancement of equality. Thanks to today's decision, same-sex couples will have their marriages recognized in every state and can no longer be discriminated against for wanting to adopt a child -- just like any other married couple in this country.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Friday that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. The justices found that under the 14th Amendment, states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex unions that were legally performed in other states. Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The decision is a historic victory for gay rights activists who have fought for years in the lower courts. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia already recognize marriage equality. The remaining 13 states ban these unions, even as public support has reached record levels nationwide. As gay Americans we have waited with bated breath and wondered why the Supreme Court has waited until the final days of the term to issue this seemingly obvious decision. Every major LGBT equality (or, inequality) decision from the Supreme Court–including, Bowers v. Hardwick (it is ok to criminalize sodomy), Romer v. Evans (the you-can’t-discriminate-against-gays-just-because-you-hate-them case), Lawrence v. Texas (it is not ok to criminalize sodomy), Hollingsworth v. Perry (marriage freedom in California), and United States v. Windsor (the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional)–were handed down toward the end (in the case of Romer) or on the very last day of the Court’s term.  Lawrence and Hollingsworth were both argued on the same day one decade apart and decided on the same day a decade apart (March 26 and June 26, in 2003 and 2013, respectively). The other cases were decided at around the same time: Windsor was argued the day after Perry and decided the same day. Romer was argued on October 10, 1995 and decided on May 20, 1996, the earliest of the bunch.

In the majority opinion, the justices outlined several reasons marriage rights should be extended to same-sex couples. They wrote that the right to marriage is an inherent aspect of individual autonomy, since “decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.” They also said gay Americans have a right to “intimate association” beyond merely freedom from laws that ban homosexuality. Kennedy consistently used the arguments by the opponents of same-sex marriage against them. He said that same-sex marriages would not diminish the dignity of marriage but increase it.  Kennedy said that those who wanted to be married are upholding the dignity of marriage because they want the same respect that opposite-sex marriages have. In answering the traditions of marriage, Kennedy said that there is not an overall traditional definition of marriage because marriage has consistently changed over the centuries. Arranged marriages are no longer the norm, interracial marriages are no longer illegal, and gay equality has become accepted by the majority of Americans. Marriage equality has followed political and social change.

The majority determined that extending the right to marry protects families and “without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.” The majority concluded that the right for same-sex couples to marry is protected under the 14th Amendment, citing the clauses that guarantee equal protection and due process. Kennedy said that marriage is a fundamental right of the constitution, which the Fourteenth Amendment’s a Due Process and Equal Protection clauses guarantee.

I am sure that opponents will voice arguments against following the Court and many have already said that they will use civil disobedience to resist the ruling.  However, let's be clear, they Supreme Court did not make the same mistake as in Brown v Board of Education and call for the implementation to be done “with all deliberate speed.” Not is this the 1830s when Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court ruling in Worcester v. Georgia when he said, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!". I have no doubt that lower courts will be busy as people will be forced to file cases forcing local officials to issue marriage licenses. I have little doubt that this will be the case in Alabama.  There are some politicians who will use their hatred of equality to attempt to fight, but they will ultimately fail. LOVE WON! 


Occasionally, and it seems to happen more and more often, the sheer ignorance and stupidity of the politics of hate astounds me. On article I read stated that, “It was only a matter of time before anti-gay ultra conservatives used the debate over hanging the Confederate flag in governmental buildings to take aim at the display of the rainbow flag.” However, I have to disagree with that because the thought would never have occurred to me because it is so utterly ridiculous.
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer took to his radio program Tuesday to demand that if the Confederate flag is going to be removed from government buildings, so should the gay pride rainbow flag, which he called a symbol of "the Gay Reich."  Fischer said:

If we are going to remove symbols of oppression from our culture, if we come to the point where we say any flag that represents bigotry, any flag that represents hatred, any flag that represents slavery or oppression needs to be removed, then I want to suggest to you that the next flag to go ought to be the rainbow flag of the Gay Reich. 

The rainbow flag represents the gay lobby, it represents Big Gay, it represents what I'm calling for the first time today, I'm introducing a new term: the Gay Reich. They've got a flag just like the Nazis had their flag. 

That flag is a symbol of slavery and oppression and bigotry and prejudice and bias. So if we're going to go after symbols of oppression, we ought to make the rainbow flag the next target for removal in our culture.
As a southerner and a historian, I have many many problems with the use of the Confederate Battle Flag as a political symbol. It is a flag of losers. The Confederacy lost. That should be enough. However, it has been taken by even greater losers, i.e. racists, as a symbol of pride and hate. I personally believe that the only flags that should at state agencies is the American flag and the state flag. There is no reason for there to be any other controversy about this. If the government wants to fly the “six flags” of Texas or the “five flags” of Alabama, then it should not be on the Capitol grounds but instead at a historical park separate from the Capitol.
In Alabama, Governor George C. Wallace raised the Confederate Battle Flag above the state Capitol building as a symbol of white supremacy. It was a political move of hatred. It remained atop the dome of the Capitol until controversy over the flying of the flag in the early 1990s. The controversy was quietly and with no fanfare ended six days after Jim Folsom, Jr. became governor of Alabama in 1993. In a move Folsom’s father Governor “Big” Jim Folsom, Sr. would have been proud, Folsom simply ordered the flag to no longer be raised. It actually took a few days for anyone to notice. (A quick historical note, Big Jim spoke to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature the day after the Brown v. Board of Education decision was handed down by the Supreme Court and called for an immediate desegregation of Alabama schools, to which the legislature ignored and passed a law reaffirming school segregation.) 
The only place that the Confederate Flag (and it should be the national flag not battle flag) should be flown near the Alabama Capitol is next door at the Little White House of the Confederacy Museum, but it shouldn't be on the Capitol grounds. However, Alabama's Governor a Robert Bentley (an idiotic dumbass) has chosen to make a political scene and take down the Confederate flags around the Capitol grounds. He should not have made a big fuss over it, like he did, and instead should have used Little Jim’s example and taken the flag down quietly. He's making a big scene to cover his own incompetence over the Alabama budget crisis and to get publicity on the national news.
Some of my southern readers may disagree with me, but I do see the Confederate flags as symbols of oppression. If the South had won, LGBT acts would still be criminalizes, and we would have been hunted and jailed. The one thing that might have kept that from happening is that southern “hospitality” and “manners” would have demanded that we were hidden from sight. We would be the skeleton in the family closet. I think the Confederacy would have been an oppressive place for all those who were not the white elite.
I've gotten a little off topic talking about Confederate flags, but the whole matter is about bigotry. It honestly has nothing to do with “southern heritage.” However, no matter how you feel about the Confederate flag, the idea of comparing it to the rainbow flag is utter stupidity. The rainbow flag is about openness and acceptance, not about oppression. There is not such thing as a Gay Reich. I find the mention of a Gay Reich to be highly offensive. The Nazis of the Third Reich did their best to destroy homosexuality in Europe. They murdered, tortured, and lobotomized homosexuals merely for being alive. It is the idiotic argument of Reductio ad Hitlerum. When people have lost an argument and it goes to the ridiculous, they always resort to the Nazi Card, because they have run out of stupid arguments.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Six Flags

My niece really wanted to ride roller coasters yesterday, so I took her on the Georgia Cyclone first. The Georgia Cyclone is a wooden roller coaster that is a mirror image of the original Coney Island Cyclone, but ten feet higher.  If you've ever been on a wooden roller coaster you know they will nearly shake or beat you to death.  There isn't a damn thing fun about them, which is why I took her on that one first.  It cured her of wanting to ride another one, most of which she was too short for anyway.  That may be a bit mean and sneaky of me, but they give me vertigo, make me sick and usually I end up with a headache, so better to go on one then have to ride them all.
Silvereagle, yes, it was hell.  The heat index I'm sure was over 100 degrees, and by the end of the day, it was thundering and lightning and most of the park closed down, so we went back to the hotel.
Susan, my mother and I have had this discussion of not volunteering me for things without my knowledge.  I made it absolutely clear that this was the last time I'm going to Six Flags.
Michael, yes, I do cherish these memories with my niece, and more importantly she cherishes them too.
JiEL, it is particularly nice that my niece loves it so.  Her aunt on her father's side insists on taking her to Disney World (which I cannot afford), but the nice thing is, she has said on numerous occasions that it much more fun to go to Six Flags with me.
Jay, it's getting harder for me to fit in some of these rides too.  Have you ever seen Gabriel Iglesias talk about getting on rides and seeing how many clicks they can get on the safety bar?  It is too funny. His amusement park stories are some of his funniest.
Amanda, people watching truly is the most fun, even if the outfits that some of these people wear makes you want to gouge your eyes out.  Example:  big woman with too many rolls of fat in a neon green shirt that was soaking wet and leaving nothing to the imagination, with short shorts on.  However, there is one major reason to enjoy amusement parks and people watching: many, many hot guys!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sacrificial Lamb

I feel like I'm being led away as the sacrificial lamb.  I am taking my niece to Six Flags today.  I hate amusement parks.  I hate the crowds.  I hate the rides.  However, I love my seven year old niece, and she did make straight A's all year long.  My mother promised her a trip to Six Flags as a reward, and I get the supreme pleasure of doing something I hate with a passion.  I know it's probably wrong of me, but I hope that she's too short for the only two roller coasters that I'm "almost" willing to ride (The Great American Scream Machine and the Georgia Cyclone).  Pray for me to survive.  Especially, since it's going to be 97 degrees today and God only knows how high the heat index will be.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


by Frank Bidart 
Lie to yourself about this and you will
forever lie about everything.
Everybody already knows everything
so you can
lie to them. That's what they want.

But lie to yourself, what you will 

lose is yourself. Then you
turn into them.


For each gay kid whose adolescence

was America in the forties or fifties
the primary, the crucial


forever is coming out—
or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.


Involuted velleities of self-erasure.


Quickly after my parents
died, I came out. Foundational narrative

designed to confer existence.

If I had managed to come out to my
mother, she would have blamed not

me, but herself.

The door through which you were shoved outinto the light
was self-loathing and terror.

Thank you, terror!

You learned early that adults' genteel
fantasies about human life

were not, for you, life. You think sex

is a knife
driven into you to teach you that.
Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1939 and educated at the University of California at Riverside and at Harvard University, where he was a student and friend of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop.
His first volume of poetry, Golden State (1973), was selected by poet Richard Howard for the Braziller Poetry series, but it wasn't until the publication of The Sacrifice (1983) that Bidart's poetry began to attract a wider readership. Bidart's early books are collected in In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-90 (1990).
His recent volumes include Star Dust (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), Music Like Dirt (2002), and Desire (1997), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic's Circle Award. He is also the co-editor of Robert Lowell's Collected Poems (2003).
About his work, the former U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Glück has said, "More fiercely, more obsessively, more profoundly than any poet sinceBerryman (whom he in no way resembles) Bidart explores individual guilt, the insoluble dilemma." And about his career as a poet, she said, "Since the publication, in 1973, of Golden State, Frank Bidart has patiently amassed as profound and original a body of work as any now being written in this country."
His honors include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation Writer's Award, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Shelley Award of the Poetry Society of America, and The Paris Review's first Bernard F. Conners Prize for "The War of Vaslav Nijinsky" in 1981. In 2007, he received the Bollingen Prize in American Poetry.
Bidart was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has taught at Wellesley College since 1972.