No More Business as Usual

I have to admit that, while I am passionate about a number of political issues, I frankly couldn’t have cared less about the government shut-down. To be totally honest, my life pretty much carried on as normal while those clowns in DC hosted the biggest pissing-match in recent history (sorry, sensitive readers).

boys fightingAnd, with all the “eleventh hour drama” and “deal-making” that went on, I’m not really even sure what happened or why. Ashamed as I am to admit it, I guess that “who-gives-a-hoot” attitude speaks volumes about my faith in our current government and, in a broader view, our current political system in general. That is sad. And it makes ME sad, too…

whatever

Listen I get it – non-essential government services and personnel were cut. People lost wages. People had crappy vacations (“No Old Faithful?”) And I regret all of those losses and inconveniences. But, again, the bigger picture here is that our current, seated government is – for the most part – a joke. America? We deserve better. And it’s about time we started demanding it – “better.” 

mad as hellI suggest we all dwell less on who voted how and more on how the Hell can we change the existing “politics as usual” stalemate… As my father so often says, “Change is coming, Son, you just wait. Just grab your ass, duck and wait. It’s a comin’ for sure.” 

In a way, I hope my Dad is wrong but increasingly, I hope my Dad is right. I mean, I can do without the duck-and-grab-your-ass part, but the rest? The CHANGE? It cannot get here soon enough for me…

Ready? Set? GO!!!

Today, my Beloved and I started the process of applying for his green card, with the ultimate goal of him becoming a United States citizen at some point in the future. Our more immediate goal is that we can be together here in The States as a couple free from the tremendous emotional and financial worry that comes from being part of a male, bi-national couple. We took the first step about six weeks ago –

wedding bandsWe got married. Today, we signed on with a law firm that specializes in immigration law and will petition the US government on my behalf to issue my husband a marriage-based green card. We had our initial intake interview today –

ChecklistAnd we still have (I fear) a LOT of paperwork and filing to do in our future. I suspect at some point the computer room in our apartment may look like this –

paperworkand that everything we submit will be reviewed and scrutinized with a keen eye –

detectiveFinally, at some point my Angel and I will be questioned by uniformed government officers as they review all the materials we have submitted, vetting our relationship and documenting that it is “legit.” According to our legal team, and based on anecdotal information I have received from other couples going through the same process in different cities/states, this can be an intimidating part of the process – but I am not worried…

interrogationSee, I am reminded of two pieces of wisdom, shared with me by two people I loved and admired. One of my old bosses, Mr. Pearl, always said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you lied about.” And my Mom always said, “You never have to be afraid when you are honest and tell the truth because the truth is always the right thing to say.”

Here’s the truth –

After five years together, weathering challenges no regular couple – straight or gay – should ever have to weather, I love my SBF, I mean my HUSBAND, more than ever… 

We are ready to “get the party started.” I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks for coming on this journey with us…

 

 

 

No Time for Hate

This is the second post I have written today; the first was all sturm und drang, a tribute to 9.11 and all that has happened since that horrible event. But I felt the post “wasn’t me” – I am not one to dwell on sensational sadness or milk tragedy for effect. That said, I did take time to pause and honor the memory of all those lost as a result of the events around 9.11, and prayed that a similar event never, ever happens again. You will not see my original post. Instead, here is a sunflower to make you smile…

sunflower

Rather than post a dark, morose entry, I was inspired to focus on a quote I found from one of the 9.11 widows, Sandy Dahl. The quote struck me to the core – Ms. Dahl said, If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” 

Profound, yes? I like having no time for hate.

So today, honor the memory of all those lost on  9.11 by freeing your hearts of hate, opening them instead to love. Maybe I am being too much the “sensitive soul” here but I believe that love is a far more effective weapon when it comes down to healing the world. Plus, doesn’t it just seem like a much nicer alternative?    

heart-hands

Half and Half

Lately I have been battling an ongoing period of sourness and agitation.

The reality is that nothing majorly bad has happened but it does seem that recently I have suffered a NO END IN SIGHT RUN of a thousand small irritations in my life, back to back to back. It definitely reminds me of this cartoon:

Half and half

This daily choice – half full or half empty – has been a bit of a lifelong challenge for me…

I think that most people that “know me” would say I am a happy guy that is really, really funny. (My absolute, life-long dream come true would be to be cast as a regular player on Saturday Night Live!) The thing is, lately I have been working very hard at being “up” all the time and it kinda’ pisses me off…

Many things in my life are AMAZING: I have the most amazing spouse ever, someone that makes every day bright and sunny for me. I have a super group of loving and supportive friends, who put up with my moodiness and love me anyway. My family is pretty great I have a job I love. So why am I “half full” some days?

I guess maybe its because the world at large disappoints me. The Russia/Olympic situation. The nightmare in Syria. A seemingly escalating wave of hate crimes against gays and lesbians all across America, including two recent incidents right here in my hometown of Cleveland. I see the rich getting richer every day while the rest of us little people work harder and harder to maintain – not improve, but maintain – our current level of living. I used to dream of owning a brand new Corvette convertible; now I hope I can buy a new set of tires for our seven-year-old Saturn. It’s hard to be “bright and chipper” every day. Hard.

However, the other option – the half empty option – is even worse:

Life is hardLike, no one wants to mope around and be all sad all the time. So, I make the conscious effort to look for happy things every day – and that usually starts with my Sweetie’s face every morning. He is pretty awesome. And then, as the day rolls on, I try to forgive/forget the clerk that pissed me off and remember instead the kid that held a door open for me, or the lady humming/singing to herself in the grocery – the one that smiled and looked embarrassed when I said that I liked her singing. I intentionally try and filter out the not-so-pretty and focus instead on the awesome events every day. Most days, I can get the job done.

Some days, though, it is definitely harder than others…

 

Let The Circus Begin!

Very soon, Senate hearings begin on the proposed immigration reform bill submitted by the “bi-partisan” Gang of Eight (what a joke!). This is what I imagine those proceedings will look like in the Senate Chamber:

Under The Big TopThe immigration reform package is HARDLY perfect – and far, FAR, FAR from comprehensive (my previous unhappiness with the provisions for binational same-sex couples being withdrawn in the final hours has been publicly-aired in previous posts). That said, the bill as it stands now is a starting point and will – perhaps – begin the long-overdue and undoubtedly tedious process of overhauling America’s antiquated, unjust and just plain discriminatory immigration system.

I try to be optimistic. However, when these are the “learned politicians” working towards the goal of immigration reform –

Clown Faces…it is definitely a little hard to believe anything good will come from this endeavor. I just read a post about the recent passing of a Democratic Senator (that means he died) and now the Senate Democrat “odd-makers” were scrambling to replace his assumed supportive vote with someone else’s. In the vernacular of my Dad, what kinda’ friggin’ BS is that anyway? I mean, when politicians begin acting like bookies, running numbers and quoting odds, something is wrong with the measure being considered. Or our political system. Or BOTH!

Side Show Barker

I have to admit, I have a whole “List of Dis-es” generated as a result of these proceedings. I am: disappointed, disillusioned, disenchanted, disheartened, disenfranchised, discombobulated. I often joke with close friends that, if I ran MY business the same way politicians run our country – delivering poor customer service, ignoring client wants/needs, demanding salaries far above the level of work performed – I’d be out of a job…

Maybe America should put Washington “out of work.” I think it is time. Don’t misunderstand me – there are a few fine men and women who do SERVE their constituency, that PERFORM the duties required and put CITIZEN rights before their own self-serving interests. But, sadly? Those men and women are rare…

I think we need a whole government re-set, from The President on down. I don’t know – maybe I’d let President Obama stay. He seems to be trying. But OMG – I’d do some house cleaning in the House and Senate for sure. Who knows? Once they leave office, hopefully they will be able to find jobs better suited for their unique skill sets:

Circus vendors

Politicians seem to be able to “sell” anything when they set their minds to it, am I right?

 

 

No Go, No Dough

I am encouraged by recent reports streaming across the internet. It seems that, FINALLY, America’s gay and lesbians are tired of the BS that Washington has been feeding us all, especially binational same-sex couples, and we have/are deciding to make a statement.

Our emerging new mantra seems to be, “NO GO, NO DOUGH.”

And it appears that Washington might finally, actually be hearing us…  No DoughWho woudda’ thunk that, when we FINALLY threatened to let the well run dry, all of a sudden, NOW politicians are starting to sit up and listen. It seems maybe The Hill is finally on the brink of a huge WTF? moment. It makes me sad to realize that politicians are a lot like children – when children misbehave and lose their allowance, they “try harder.” When well-heeled, politically-involved gay and lesbian philanthropists “call out” elected officials and announce they will be withholding their donations, well I’m guessing like a dozen pages, a few aides and a handful of spin doctors run up to Senator whomever, or Congressman what’s-her-name or dare I say – The President – and say, “Look, we have a HUGE PR problem brewing, not to mention the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.”

And I say, “Hell yeah – FINALLY.”

I think Miama-based philanthropist Jonathan Lewis best summed it up when he said, “Now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our  friends’ actions and deeds align with their rhetoric,” as well as “Pretty words about fairness and equality under the law from the president and Democrats in Congress do not absolve them from their moral duty to act.” (view the original Huffington Post piece here.)

From the same article, “The issue of marriage is a fundamental right,” said Juan Ahonen-Jover, a Florida-based entrepreneur and philanthropist who spends his time promoting equal rights for the LGBT community. “Even prisoners on death row have the right to marry.” (view the original Huffington Post piece here.)

EVEN PRISONERS ON DEATH ROW HAVE THE RIGHT TO MARRY.

Think about that for a minute then you’ll understand why “the gays” have finally had it with Washington.

Gay and lesbian citizens in binational, same-sex relationships are especially fed up. The carrot of The Uniting American Families Act – legislation that would allow gay and lesbian citizens the right to sponsor their foreign permanent partners for immigration purposes – has been dangled in their faces for almost a generation. Within the past few weeks, that dangling carrot was “jerked away” again when amendments with UAFA provisions were removed in the eleventh hour from the immigration reform proposal crafted by the infamous Senate Gang of Eight. Binational couple are now starting to paraphrase Peter Finch from the iconic film, Network – “I’m a human being, goddammit, and my life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna’ take this any more!” (view the original Network clip here.)

By withholding our dollars, maybe we can FINALLY get Washington to “make good” on all the years and years of promises they have made – and subsequently broken – to get our money and our votes. Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, …insists real damage has been done. “Very, very, very large donors to the Democratic Party have told me how angry they are, how much they feel politicians lied to them,” she said. (view the original New Republic piece here.)

For years I have always wished that our leaders in Washington – one leader in particular – would “grow a pair.” Now I see that wish was misdirected. It is the gay and lesbian community at large, and binational same-sex couples in particular, that have needed to do “the growing.”

I’m glad I realized that and have started chanting, “No Go, No Dough.” I hope my brothers and sisters join the chorus, and soon. We need all the voices we can get for our song to be heard.

Honoring the True Meaning of Memorial Day

I guess I have never considered myself to be super patriotic and, if you have been reading my posts lately, I am currently pretty disillusioned with the whole United States political system in general. That said, days like today give me a chance to pause, reflect and re-engage.

America is still regarded as the greatest country on the planet, with the best overall standard of living, the best educational system, the best/most stable economy – the best place to “simply be.” America is the country where “Dreams come true.” Our country was founded on the notion that all men – and women – are created equal. We profess to have the greatest civil liberties of any country on earth yet America’s gays and lesbians are, by and large, still treated like second class citizens. Oh sure, we endure “polite” elevator speeches about gay and lesbian rights and equality but the fact is you can still be fired from your job just for being gay or lesbian in many states, less than 20% of the states offer some form of marriage “equality” for us homos and we STILL cannot sponsor our foreign partners for immigration. Those are just three of the hundreds of rights currently denied gay and lesbian American citizens.

Memorial Day. A day of remembrance, honoring those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Sounds noble and pretty, right? Here is a photographic reminder of what Memorial Day’s “ultimate sacrifice” really represents:

Draped CoffinsAccording to web resources, Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those brave men and women who have died in the service of our country, protecting all that makes America great. I definitely cannot speak for any of those soldiers, nor do I want to put words in their mouths but I imagine quite a few of them would be disappointed with the America we have today – which, in my opinion, is NOT the idealized America they died defending and protecting.

I was fortunate to be spared military service but feel I have contributed much towards making America a great country. I do all the things every American should do – obey the laws, pay taxes, rah-rah on patriotic holidays. But I also believe in the American ideal enough to have opened a small business, to have invested in the local and national economy and to be the best “ambassador” I can be for my city, state and country to the world at large. I am politically-involved and work very hard to make sure that eventually ALL Americans, regardless of age, race, ability, gender or sexuality, are treated fairly and equally. I feel we as a country are doing these fallen soldiers a great disservice by STILL quibbling over gay and lesbian equality/rights. These men and women died so ALL Americans could enjoy the same rights, treatment and privileges under the law, including gays and lesbians.

Today has re-energized my spirit to pursue that same goal, albeit in a non-combat setting. Or maybe not – I sense a huge battle coming in America. Maybe I have been a soldier all along, training and waiting for the big battle yet to come…

 

 

How Quickly Things Can Change…

Having lived in Ohio virtually my entire life, I shouldn’t really be so surprised by today’s weather flip flop. But I am. I mean, for the past few days, my beloved Martin and I have been basking in central air-conditioning comfort at Xander’s house while the weather outside has been miserable, hot and humid. I wanted these on my feet –Flip flops

I wanted these flip flops. I love flip flops. I don’t wear them often (they are SO bad for your feet) but they are comfy and cool in hot weather.

However, given today’s dramatic temperature drop, now all I want on my feet are these –

ragg-wool-socks

Yup, I want some ragg wool socks. My feet are like two little icebergs today – OK, like two size 11 icebergs today. Anyway, today’s weather has been a welcome distraction for me from the BS happening in Washington. Oh, don’t think for a minute that I have forgotten – or forgiven – the cowardice displayed by key Democrats regarding the proposed immigration reform bill. You know, it’s where the gay and lesbian-inclusive immigration reform provisions were withdrawn to prevent the entire process from collapsing. It was just another example of how things can change drastically in less than one day, how politicians can flip-flop in the blink of an eye. Additionally, other than a few “strongly-worded statements,” I have failed to see the forceful, passionate call-to-arms support from our “alleged” allies.

But as I said, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten and I will have trouble forgiving…

Hmmm… Maybe today, in addition to keeping my feet warm, I could take those thick ragg wool socks and stuff them in the mouths of Senators Rubio, Graham, Franken, Durbin, Feinstein and Schumer. The first two I just want to shut up, period, and the next four? I want them to keep quiet and really think about what they are saying before they open their mouths again…

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round…

DOMA
So, today, in a totally unsurprising move, the proposed amendment which would have FINALLY granted gay and lesbian American citizens the “privilege” (word used sarcastically here) of sponsoring their foreign same-sex partners for immigration was “withheld” to avoid the “…total collapse of the strong but fragile bipartisan coalition” supporting the bill crafted by the Senate Gang of Eight. See details here. That is just BULLSHIT. At a moment in American history when support for marriage equality has never been greater, when it seems like every other week ANOTHER state is extending marriage equality to its gay and lesbian citizens, a handful of spineless, career politicians caved in to the bullying of organized religious groups and several small but deep-pocketed and vocal groups. Today is a dark day in this country’s history and I hope EVERY Senator feels like crap – sad thing is, they won’t/don’t/can’t. I believe the VAST majority of our elected officials are nothing more than spoiled, overpaid, holier-than-thou jerk-offs.

My father has always warned me and my siblings that we would see a revolution – a class war – in America, and I believe that time is upon us. The “chosen” that have ensconced themselves in DC ALL need to be ejected. I would like to re-boot our government from the ground up. EVERY POLITICIAN NEEDS TO GO. The abuse and blatant disregard that IS Washington – the political system, not the city – proves the existing system needs to be completely dismantled and re-invented. But I digress a bit from the original topic of this post; more on my political dissatisfaction some other time…

For now, binational same-sex couples have been thrown under the bus – AGAIN! The Uniting American Families Act is a pariah among legislation and I will no longer waste my time or other resources promoting it. UAFA and I are breaking up. I am still holding out some hope that perhaps DOMA will be repealed by The Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS) but I have little reason to believe that august assembly of learned legal scholars will have any more balls than any of the other clowns in DC. Change IS coming, Washington, and you better be ready. We are tired of being ignored, dismissed or traded-off.

Separation of Church and State

At the risk of alienating some readers, I feel I must state my feelings on the topic of separation of Church and State – I am 100%, totally for it. Religion has no place in government and government has no place in religion. Period. End of story.

What has my hackles up today? A group of Southern Baptists, talking out against proposed legislation that would allow gay and lesbian Americans – U.S. CITIZENS – the privilege of sponsoring their foreign spouses for immigration. Today it is Southern Baptists but on any given day it could just have easily been the United States Council of Catholic Bishops or any number of televangelists. I mean – and excuse my language – who give a flying F*CK what they think anyway? What gives them the right to weigh in publicly on ANY political issue? Was our country not founded on the premise of a separation of Church and State, for the benefit of both?

disagreement(click on image above to enlarge)

Please do not misunderstand my anger – I do not “hate” religion, organized or otherwise. I just feel they have no right commenting on issues that are of no concern to them, especially given the preferential treatment our government affords them, tax-wise. When a church begins paying taxes like all the rest of us Joe Schmoes, THEN they can shoot their collective mouth off in public about an issue. Till then, shut the F*CK up!

I think most people forget – or choose to ignore – that most organized religions are businesses at their core. They have political influence and “lobby” DC and our elected officials as hard as any other business or organization. Yet, we all just let them go on about their sneaky way, undermining the advancement of our society in the pursuit of their own interests. It has to stop…

Separation 2(click on image above to enlarge)

Now, before any one suggests I am a God-less heathen, or some soul-less sodomite, let me state publicly that I was raised Catholic and feel that many of the “good things that make me me” are a result of that upbringing. I no longer observe the faith, not out of hate or resentment but out of respect for those Catholics that are observant. At least for now, I cannot reconcile my life with the teachings of The Church – not the teachings of God, but the teachings of the Church – so I am no longer a Catholic.

I leave The Church alone. And I want The Church to leave me alone, too…

I remember reading recently that America is one of the “least faithful” countries on the planet – something like fewer than 30% of American families attend a faith-based gathering once a week. That kinda’ makes me sad but that is the stuff of another post. For this one, that less than 30% of America figure makes me wonder just why in the heck any politician even bothers to listen to organized religious organizations anyway. Seems like they represent a very small, albeit super vocal, voter base.

As I said, I do not “hate God” or churchgoers but for now, please – organized religions, et al? Ask your national organizations, conferences and assemblies to get the heck out of politics, leave me alone and mind their own business.