Take Back Amerikkka

Phew! Good news! They finally got someone to sign on to play at the inauguration. I was getting really worried it was only going to be that teenage girl from “America’s Got Talent,” the Mormon choir, and two Rockettes.

 

 

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Windup Trump

Now that the Trumpenstein monster has been set loose, and he’s not steadily walking in a straight line. Oh, no; he’s wobbling all around like the windup toy he is—bumping into walls, suddenly reversing course, coming dangerously close to the edge of the living room table before he turns on a dime and wanders off in the opposite direction. And we’re all getting dragged along with him. Our headlines. Our emotions. And our country and its policy as a whole.

One minute, we get a tweet about how the U.S. should “expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” Major policy involving the possible nuclear annihilation of entire nations laid out in 140 characters!

A few hours later, his aides scramble to catch Trumpenstein and put him right again before he topples over. They put out a statement to clarify—or to muddy the waters, rather—with a statement that’s EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT TRUMP TWEETED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Don’t worry, folks! He was actually talking about “the thread of nuclear proliferation and the need to prevent it” when he talked about expanding our nuclear capability. We know that’s not what he said, but…  Oh, shit. Where’s he going, now?!?

There’s no off button for Trumpenstein now that the GOP has wound him up. They can only hold their breath, following at a safe distance behind him and watching, horrified, as he spins around tweeting about Lockheed Martin, sending their stock price plummeting.

trump-windup

Pets and Cancer… A Tough Two Years.

We’ve lost two dogs to cancer in less than two years. And now we’re about to lose our cat to the same terrible disease.

It started in 2014 with our 9-year-old dachshund, Andy, who was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. By the time he started showing symptoms, the tumor on his spleen had swollen up a huge size and had begun to bleed. Our vet advised us to put him to sleep as soon as possible. We got a second opinion from an oncologist who advised us to remove his spleen—but that we were only buying a month or so, as the cancer had spread to his liver.

We did the surgery and bought two wonderful months with Andy. He’d have short bouts of pain (which we’d treat with heavy painkillers) and would bounce back after a few hours, vibrant, happy, and ready to eat, snuggle and play. When he finally passed, he went into one of his usual rounds of pain, we dosed him up on large amounts of medication, and he simply went into shock and left us.

Three weeks after Andy died, Gypsy—our beautiful 11-year-old Great Pyrenees, started limping. What we thought was a simple sprain ended up being a fracture caused by osteosarcoma. We opted for surgery—having the doctor put a brace and pins in the bone to keep it stable (as it was only a hairline fracture—and starting her on a regimen of pain medications to keep her happy.

And she was. She recovered from the surgery and was as good as new. We watched her carefully for any signs of pain or discomfort, continuing to keep her on a maintenance level of pain meds. We found a small, slow-growing cancer on her tongue, but it didn’t bother her or hinder her in any way. For nine glorious months, Gypsy was able to eat, play (gently, though, so as not to disturb the pinned bone!), get love, and be happy. When things did go downhill, they did it suddenly—with the growth on her tongue suddenly enlarging and bleeding and her limp returning all at once. She went from bright-eyed and happy to not feeling well within a matter of a couple of days and we knew it was time to let her go.

One year later…

I take our Beyonce cat in because she’s lost weight. I chalk it up to a recent food change (one of our other cats gets urinary crystals, so we had put all four of them on a urinary diet). I also notice a tiny nodule on her neck. Surely it can’t be cancer, I think; she’s a trim, happy, healthy 15-year-old kitty.

And it’s cancer.

Two days after her cytology, she had a brief seizure. It could have been a blood clot. It also could be cancer that has spread to her brain.

We can’t possibly know unless you take her and have more tests, the vet told us.

More tests.

Which brings me to the crux of this post.

We got Beyonce’s cancer diagnosis roughly three weeks ago. The vet X-rayed her lungs and saw what she thought was likely cancer that had spread (we found that out about a week and a half ago). Then we were given options, all of which involved specialists and dragging Beyonce to multiple appointments. We could have tests run to be sure the shadows in her lungs were cancer. We could have the neck tumor surgically removed. Have it radiated. Have it biopsied so we could try chemo. We could have her brain scanned to see if there was cancer there.

We opted to do none of the above.

Obviously, we’re not against trying lifesaving (or even life-extending) efforts on pets with cancer, as we’ve done it twice before. But there’s a difference between doing what you CAN do (just because you can do it) and knowing your pet…knowing in your heart what you SHOULD do.

Weight loss. A cancerous tumor on her throat. Shadows on her lung X-rays. A seizure that wasn’t consistent with a blood clot.

We didn’t need more tests to know that her cancer had spread.

We were heading out on an RV trip from Florida to Colorado and Beyonce was still feeling good. We took our two dogs and four cats and set out on what we knew would be a bucket list trip for Beyonce. (Our cats travel well in our RV and enjoy it.) One day from reaching Colorado (about ten days after the “you could do any of the above” discussion with the vet), Beyonce started going downhill. Breathing hard. Urinating outside of the litter box.

We had steroids and painkillers with us from our other cats (who had historically been the unhealthy ones), so—being in the middle of nowhere—we started her on those. Hoped that when we got to Colorado, she might rest, the meds might help her a bit, things might…

Our first day here, I called and made an appointment to take her in and discuss palliative care and what additional medications we could give her to make her comfortable. That was yesterday. Today, it’s apparent that the appointment will be a different kind of appointment. She’s no longer eating. Doesn’t want to drink very much. Despite the pain meds, she’s sitting hunched up under a bed or on a towel in the bathroom floor.

It all happened so fast.

We’re glad that her last couple of weeks weren’t spent dragging her from appointment to appointment.

While I’m dreading today’s appointment, it can’t come fast enough. I can’t quite get my head around it. I know she’s in pain and I know that this is the best thing we can do for her, but it goes against human nature to take the life of someone we love. We’re wired to save lives. We discover new ways to fight illnesses. We overcome major obstacles in order to survive. In emergencies, we are capable of superhuman efforts in order to save ourselves or others.

So it’s counter to everything inside of us to take the life of a loved one. It feels wrong, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. It’s strange to look at the clock and thing, “These are her last five hours on earth…her last four hours on earth…her last three hours…”

All the while, keeping her very doped up. We’d take her in sooner, but there were no available appointments and we don’t want to keep her waiting there, hurting and afraid in her carrier. We’d rather her wait here where she can hide where she feels more safe.

I’ll be so glad when this day is over.

 

beyonce and phoebe
Beyonce (on top of cat house)

The Fabulous Gay Lifestyle, Exposed!

 

Glitter_close_up
By Inkwina via Wikimedia Commons

 

Morning thoughts:

“I have nothing against homosexuals; I just don’t agree with their lifestyle.”
I hear this a lot.

Let’s break this statement down and analyze it.

A: “I have nothing against homosexuality…”
B: “…I just don’t agree with their lifestyle.”

If B is true, it disproves A.

If you truly believe that there is a gay “lifestyle” (whatever that means) and you don’t “agree” with it, then you DO, in fact, have something “against homosexuals.” I’m sorry, but you do. It would be like my saying, “I don’t have anything against your being straight; I just don’t agree with the entire part of your life that revolves around you being married to your husband of sixteen years and having a home and family with him.”

(And if you’re still using the outdated term “homosexual,” I can talk to you about that, as well…)

Another phrase I particularly enjoy is, “I don’t believe in the gay lifestyle.” Apart from the offensive and absurd idea of being gay as a “lifestyle,”* I’ve always found it a humorous statement. As though gay people don’t really exist, but are some sort of mythical creature that have been told of through centuries of folklore. It reminds me of someone saying that they don’t believe in unicorns.

*A bit more, though, on this gay “lifestyle:”

My wife got up this morning and took the dogs out to pee. About twenty minutes later, I got up, fed all the pets, gave Angelina cat her medicine, had a granola bar and am now checking FB and drinking green tea before settling down to do a bit of writing work. In about an hour, I will take 2 out of our 4 cats to the vet.

When I get back, my wife will probably take a break from the stuff she’s working on and we’ll eat turkey sandwiches for lunch. I’ll continue with the work I started on this morning. Somewhere in the middle of this, I’ll clean up the condo and do laundry.

Later this afternoon, we’ll likely take our dogs for a long walk. We’ll debate back and forth about what to have for dinner and will likely end up grabbing sushi at the place down the road from our condo. Then we’ll come home; she’ll watch “The Voice” and I’ll finish up whatever leftover writing work I have to do.

The dogs will go out for a final goodnight potty and (here’s where it gets freaky, y’all!) we’ll get in bed. My wife will watch TV and I will read on my Kindle. She’ll have a cat sleeping on her chest, I’ll have one on my head, and both of us will have a dog snuggled up next to us. She’ll watch Food Network and I’ll read “David Copperfield” until we both fall asleep.

Rinse and repeat.

There. The gay “lifestyle.” Is it greatly different from yours? More rainbows? Glitter? No? Sorry.

Putting “Religious Protection” Bills in Context

Putting “Religious Protection” Bills in Context

In cities and states across the U.S., we’ve seen a recent flood of proposed (and passed) so-called “religious protection” bills. These bills allow business owners to avoid penalties for refusing to provide service that violates their “sincerely-held religious beliefs.” Some of these bills are also described as ways for churches to avoid being forced to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.

All of these terms—“religious protection” and “sincerely-held religious beliefs”—are code words that sound nice (I talked about such code words in an earlier blog post), but refer to something rather nasty.

These bills sprang up as a direct reaction to same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land, as a way to keep various businesses from having to provide services to gay couples (or flowers for gay weddings).

Various people on all sides of the equation are worried. People who disapprove of homosexuality are worried that they might be forced to somehow take part in providing services for a same-sex wedding. I have friends who are very supportive of gay rights, but who wonder if such “religious” protection might buffer them against having to, for instance, tattoo a swastika on a neo-Nazi. Gay people are rightfully worried, as we are worried about being turned away from everything from restaurants and hotels to doctors’ offices and hospitals.

A Multi-Faceted Issue

This issue has so many aspects to examine and address; I thought I’d take them one at a time so we can come to a better understanding of what these laws do and don’t do, as well as what they resemble in a historical civil rights context.

Churches Are Already Protected

There’s not much more I can say. Churches don’t have to conduct same-sex weddings. They don’t have to conduct any wedding with which they feel uncomfortable. Skeptical? How about if a Christian couple wants to get married in a Jewish temple? The rabbi can turn them away. A Catholic church can choose not to marry a couple where one partner has not converted to Catholicism. A Baptist minister can require that a couple take pre-marital counseling for a specific amount of time before he will agree to marry them. Individual churches already have control over who they will and won’t marry; that already exists and has not changed.

Refusing to Make a Specific Product ≠ Refusing to Serve a Specific Group of People

“I’m a tattoo artist and I’m worried that a white supremacist might sue me for refusing to tattoo a swastika on his scalp.”

“Asking a Christian-owned bakery to sell a cake for a gay wedding is like asking a Jewish deli to sell someone a ham sandwich.”

No. The first is not a concern and the second is not the same. Why? Because no one is being asked to create or sell a product they don’t normally create, carry, or sell. If you’re a tattoo artist and you’re not in the business of creating images of Nazi imagery or burning crosses, you can refuse to do so. You’re not telling your client, “I won’t tattoo you because you’re white/gay/Hispanic/Muslim;” you’re telling them “I do not tattoo swastikas on ANYONE, period.”

As for the bakery/Jewish deli scenario, it’s the same. A kosher Jewish deli doesn’t sell pork products. At all. To anyone. But they’re happy to sell their pastrami and corned beef to everyone who walks through their doors. The same should hold true for all businesses. If you create a wedding cakes for heterosexual weddings and a gay couple comes in and says, “Wow! I love the cake you have in your photo book; this one right here! We’d like to buy this cake for our wedding,” and you refuse to sell them the product you normally carry for sale for everyone else—that’s discrimination.

“But It Violates My Religion!” Has a Nasty History

Let me progress to the next point in my imaginary discussion with the hypothetical Christian bakery owners.

“But doing anything that supports homosexuality or same-sex weddings violates my religious beliefs! *insert appropriate scripture from Leviticus…Deuteronomy, etc.*”

That may be the case. And you might, really, sincerely feel that way. Having been raised as a fundamentalist Christian, I can 100% understand how distressing this must be for you (really, I do).

That doesn’t make it right.

More so, history will prove how wrong you are. You see, arguments just like that were used not too long ago to argue for things like segregation. Actually, after a quick Google, I see that white supremacists are STILL using scriptural arguments against, for instance, interracial marriage. While this is abhorrent if someone believes it privately, it becomes problematic if someone conducts their business with these kinds of beliefs, because now they are affecting, disrespecting—and even possibly harming—other people. Someone who believes that interracial marriage is wrong because of the way they interpret the Bible is a nasty person, but it gets ramped up to a new level when that person owns a flower shop and won’t sell flowers for an interracial couple’s wedding.

Why the Free Market Isn’t the Answer

But we can just leave things alone and let the free market sort things out, right? I mean, if a florist, bakery, or wedding planner states that they won’t serve gay people or same-sex weddings, then gay people won’t patronize them and the community can vote, with their dollars, whether or not they think this is ok.

That seems like a good idea until we put it into another context. Imagine if—in the 50s and 60s—the free market had been allowed to reign to decide whether or not segregation or refusal of service to black people would be tolerated? There would have been entire areas of the country where black people would have been hard-pressed to find a restaurant that would serve them, to find places to shop, to be rented a room at a hotel, or to get an education. I can imagine that there are areas of the country today where similar problems might arise for gay individuals or couples…and not everyone has the choice to simply move somewhere else (nor should they have to).

And what about industries beyond just the wedding/restaurant industry? What about hotels? Doctors offices? Hospitals and ambulance personnel? If a florist can legally tell a lesbian woman, “It violates my religious beliefs to sell you flowers for your wedding,” then should a restaurant be able to turn that woman and her wife away if the owner suspects they are a couple? If the two women drive cross-country late into the night and pull into the first hotel they’ve seen in over an hour, can the hotel owner turn them out because renting a room to a gay couple violates their religious beliefs? What if there is an emergency and one of the women calls an ambulance for her wife? Do we want legal protections for medical personnel who feel that rendering aid to a gay person might violate their religious beliefs?

I know I’m going into a long line of “what ifs,” here, but as a gay person who listens to these “religious protection” debates play out, these are very real concerns. Being turned away from your wedding venue or bakery of choice would be heartbreaking, infuriating and embarrassing, but being turned away from a doctor’s office, denied care or denied entrance to your spouse’s hospital room because any of these things happened to violate someone’s religious beliefs are all terrifying possibilities.

Religious beliefs are subjective. There are no boundaries to what kinds of people or beliefs we are legally protecting with the passage of these laws. In promoting this sort of legislation, we’re not really protecting freedom for all; we’re protecting a mean-spirited (in the least) and dangerous (at worst) mentality that has been used for decades to deny freedom to certain groups.

(Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto.)

Minus Scalia, SCOTUS unanimously steers into progressive waters

The United States Supreme Court just reversed an Alabama Supreme Court decision that had stripped adoptive rights away from a lesbian mom. 

“The decision was unanimous.”
*jaw drop* Wow.

Long story short (and I’m not 100% sure of all the specifics, but here’s your TLDR version):

Lesbian couple lives in Georgia. They have kids and the second mother is granted adoptive rights over the kids, so now you have Birth Mother and Adoptive Mother.

The couple breaks up. Things get nasty and Birth Mother sues in the state of Alabama (where she was living? Where both of them were living at that point? I’m not sure) to strip custody/parental rights from Adoptive Mom.

Alabama is more than happy to agree with her, and their state Supreme Court rules that the state of Georgia had no power to grand adoptive rights to an icky, godless gay parent in the first place. Adoptive mom loses all rights, custody, visitation, etc for the kids she’s helped raise since birth.

Enter the U.S. Supreme Court. They say this is bullshit–UNANIMOUSLY–and restore parental rights to Adoptive Mom.

Unanimously. Holy shit. Do you now how huge that is that the conservative justices voted in favor of this woman’s parental rights? I’ll bet Scalia wouldn’t have. He must be rolling right now…and I don’t mean with laughter. 

 

The Republican Party’s Instant Karma

The Republican Party is in a full-out, nuclear meltdown. If they let Trump get nominated, he (statistically) loses to either Democratic nominee. If they go over his head to nominate someone else, he runs on a third-party ticket and still costs them the election.

As I watch the Republican Party begin to fracture, I can’t help but walk around humming this song. I’d like to dedicate this to all of the politicians who have spent the last few decades kicking around women, racial and religious minorities, as well as GLBT people, in order to unite their base.