Sunday, May 30, 2010

 

A Pleasant Surprise

Just when you thought he was lagging on things yet again . . .

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2010

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2010
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.

LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors. Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level. Thanks to those who came before us -- the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance -- we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union.

My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life-saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.

In other areas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of proposals to ensure core housing programs are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD also announced the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.

Much work remains to fulfill our Nation's promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.

As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

Sunday, May 23, 2010

 

Happy Anniversary to Us!


Fritz and Will
Met 23 May, 1997 (Thanks, Hugh!)
Married 23, May 2004 (Thanks, Massachusetts!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

 

Dear Democrats

BosGuy, my latest discovery of a gay male blogger in Boston and surrounding areas, posted the following on his blog and invited others to pick it up and post it on theirs:

Dear Democrats:

We need to talk.

This may be a hard letter to read, but I need to figure out if this relationship is still healthy for me. For the longest time, I thought we had something special. Remember how much fun we used to have back when we were young, and control of the Congress and the presidency was just a crazy dream? You always used to ask me for help, and you knew I'd never turn you down.

You were so adorable when we were courting. Sure, you never really understood me, but I liked that you seemed to try. The White House cocktail parties were totally fun, and that Easter Egg Roll is something I'll always cherish. Or remember the time you let me march in the Inaugural parade! Other than that whole Rick Warren thing, I really thought we had a connection.

I know you kept telling me that you weren't ready for marriage, but I was willing to wait since you had promised so much else in the meantime.

But now, I've kind of had it. I'm just not getting what I need out of this relationship. You rarely call me anymore, and when you do it's to ask for money. We talked about joining the military together -- but now it seems like you are flaking on that commitment. You promised to protect me from the homophobes at work, but you don't seem to be in a hurry to actually do it. And that Department of Justice brief thing was just cruel. I'll never understand why you did that.

It almost seems like you're embarrassed by me in public. I know not everyone in your family approves of us, but before you got your new job, it seemed like you didn't care what they thought and were always ready to fight for me. Now, it's like you're a different person.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I still think we have a future. I want us to have a future. But I need this relationship to be healthy for both of us. And I just can't get excited anymore by your empty promises and half-gestures.

I need you to take a real step. You know what I'm talking about -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

I still worry every day that I can be fired in 29 states just because I'm gay. And my friend who is transgender can be fired in 38 states. I know you can do it. You've helped protect people from employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability and many other characteristics. Each time my friend and I have been left behind. It's our turn. ENDA's time has come.

It's our turn to be welcomed into the military as well. I want to serve my country openly and proudly. I was so excited when you promised you would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year after 17 long years of putting up with it.

Now, I can't even get you to talk about DADT. You promised to change. I know that you can. But why should I stand by your side when you can't keep your promises to me?

I get that you're scared. But I'm scared too -- scared of losing you. You need to prove to me that you really care. You need to finally give me the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, like you promised.

I have enough disappointments in my life. I need you to not be one of them.

Love,

The Gays (and all those who love and care about them)

Written by Courage Campaign
Thanks, Bosguy!

*******

A couple of animal pictures from inside and outside the house:


I have a lovely sedum growing near the front door of the house. I've been collaring my seduns (seda?) with natural rock which sets them off beautifully; I did the job on this sedum yesterday and within five minutes, the tiny toad emerging from the space between two rocks had taken up residence. The little fellow is smaller than the final joint on my little finger.

I don't have a picture, but a female sparrow has begun building her nest on the ledge between the door-height glass window and the transom on one side of my front door. Starr got quite interested today seeing her gathering nesting material in front of the house and ferrying it up to the ledge. Fritz and I checked it out this evening, but it looks like she might have abandoned the project. The transom ledge is about three inches deep, which may not seem like much but I've seen birds build nests on less. We're hoping she returns tomorrow to finish the job.

And speaking of Starr, here's the afternoon nap taking place not just on the upholstered top of the antique chest, but on a cushion on top of the upholstery. Cats always know how to do things right.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

 
Yesterday, Fritz reached the half-way point in his radiation treatment. He's a strong but deeply feeling man and has had a few emotional moments along the way. He's also been struck by the kindness of so many of you wishing him well as he goes through all this. He asked me if I'd post a piece he's written on the blog, and of course I said yes immediately. Here it is:

Strange thing this “cancer” business. I have been in it and around it for quite a while. My mother, sister and younger brother all died of one form or another and I have been going to the dermatologist twice a year for ages for him to freeze off spots on my head so they don’t develop into something tragic. In fact I even had one thing on my cheek operated on several years ago. But that was all on the outside. One could see it and feel it. Even the treatment one could feel.

But now it is inside. They poked around and said – good news is your prostate is small (it’s been massaged for 60 years!) – bad news is it's filled with cancer. So we heard the options and chose to get the radiation and hormonal treatments. Now every morning husband and I get up, I drink 24 oz of water – we drive into Manchester – I spend 15 minutes on a cold table while a monster machine rotates around, zapping at me. I think it is my friend but how can I tell? This cancer is inside me. I don’t feel it. I don’t see it. When the machine makes its zapping way around I hear it but I don’t feel it. I don’t see a ray of radiation. Is it all smoke and mirrors? Is there really something in there? Do I trust the doctor and all the technicians? I’m just a small mouse in this labyrinth not knowing what is really happening – if it is happening.

You see the same people coming into the radiation center each morning. We nod, say hello, comment on the weather, mention our plantings for the summer, smile. Some have lost their hair. Some seem a little halt. But we are somewhat cheery. I have my hair. I feel the same as I did before the cancer news. If I am all smoke and mirrors what am I doing here?

There have been so many words of support from family, friends, students and even from people I don’t know. I’m in their thought and prayers. But that may be smoke and mirrors too. I suppose I am in my Missouri mind right now. Show me. Show me that this routine is actually doing something. I don’t feel anything. I don’t see anything. Am I doing this right?

On Friday I was half way through the eight week sessions – each morning, five days a week. Some times it feels that the time goes quickly. Other days it seems that it will never end. Through it all I go along wondering which is smoke and which is mirrors.

*******

Joe Jervis (Joe.My.God) posted the following headline a couple of days ago

Friday, May 14, 2010
BOSTON: Catholic Archdiocese Comes To Defense Of Banned Student

The student in question is an eight year old boy, the adopted son of a lesbian couple. The Archdiocese of Boston has been staunchly anti-gay; Archbishop (now Cardinal) O'Malley has been openly homophobic (Fritz and I once briefly shared an elevator with him at Boston General Hospital -- it was all I could do not to introduce us as one of those married gay couples who "obviously" were intent on destroying marriage and harming children). The boy was denied admission to a school in the Boston Archdiocese. Joe's comment on the headline and story:

Well, this is pleasantly shocking. In reaction to yesterday's news that the son of two lesbian moms was denied enrollment at a Catholic school, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has issued a letter saying that it will not fund any school with a discriminatory admissions policy.

"Any such practice is at odds with our values as a foundation, the intentions of our donors, and ultimately Gospel teaching," said the letter from the foundation, which relies on corporate executives to help raise millions each year. The letter was signed by the group’s executive director, Michael B. Reardon. Jack Connors chairs the Campaign for Catholic Schools, which has raised nearly $60 million for major capital and program improvements in local Catholic schools. He called the incident an unfortunate aberration and said he was not concerned that it would discourage corporate donors. “But," he said, “I am disappointed that this faith that I love seems to find new ways to shoot itself in the foot." The archdiocese moved swiftly yesterday to clarify its policy and show support for the family. Mary Grassa O’Neill, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, issued a statement saying that the church does not prohibit children of same-sex parents from attending Catholic schools and that the archdiocese will “work in the coming weeks to develop a policy to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future."

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts is VERY displeased with the Archdiocese's reaction, saying, "The real question here is why two people who radically repudiate the moral teachings of Catholicism would want their child educated in a Catholic school."

My reaction to this is to note that O'Malley has hung back and taken no part in any of it, at least not so far as the public and the media have been able to tell. The Catholic Action League asks a very pertinent question, and my reply to them would be that the reason a lesbian couple want their child in a Catholic school may well be the same reason that gay men enter the priesthood or the U.S. Armed forces, knowing full well that they'll be persecuted and/or thrown out if discovered: they sincerely feel a calling to serve and will not let faulty policy in the institution rob them of their right to serve. In any event, at least some members of the Catholic organizational structure in Boston seem to have their heads screwed on right and I hope they aren't made to suffer for the fact.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

 
Things have been very busy this spring, more so than usual and I've allowed blogging to slide. So, here are some updates.

Fritz reaches the halfway point in his radiation treatment the day after tomorrow. It's been going very well, and his doctor says that since he's made it this far without side effects, the chances are he'll complete treatment without any.

The big news is that I bought a new car ten days ago. The Jeep is still working, and I'm keeping it. We'll use it for the heavy work of hauling lumber, supplies of one kind or another, buckets of compost, bags of crystals for the water softening system down at the Center, and for Fritz to have when I'm away chasing opera performances all over the East Coast, etc. But we felt that at 214,000 miles and with the occasional stalling incident (it always restarts, but still), we couldn't go away on big road trips with the confidence we'd like to have.

I did a lot of work on the web checking out every brand I could find. My choices were limited by the fact that I wouldn't consider anything without four wheel drive for the northern New England winters, particularly as we live on a hillside with a fairly steep driveway. I didn't want a big SUV; I wanted something no longer than the Jeep for ease of city driving and parking. Two weekends ago I was pretty confident I'd found the vehicle. I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was pretty sure it would be a Hyundai Tucson and was helped tremendously by many appreciative comments by friends who owned one or who knew others who were delighted with theirs.

On Monday the 3rd we went to the Hyundai dealership in Manchester and test drove one. That clinched it, along with going through all the various bells and whistles with the salesman. I did the registration and insurance that afternoon and after Fritz's radiation on Tuesday, we drove over and took possession.

So, there they are. The old veteran in the back, the new Hyundai in the color Chai Bronze (the New Hampshire DMV refers to it prosaically as brown) gleaming down front. It's extremely comfortable, has lots of storage space and far more leg room than the Jeep, has Bluetooth for hands-free telephoning, and glides along in virtual silence. We're very happy with it.

I've been on an orgy of outside work. Large portions of the property that aren't actually woods are part of the big landscaping plan. I had committed to putting in all the remaining trees and shrubs, as well as the herb garden and a patch of perennial flowers along the west side of the house this spring. One thing we've discovered is that the various birds and animals living around us in the woods are much more comfortable with us now. "Our" snake turns up here and there around the house and isn't spooked by my working near him/her, even if it involves digging or moving around heavy rock. We've also had a wild turkey making appearances very close to the house.

I shingled the upper sides of the new wood shed and filled it with stove-length wood for next winter.

There are some disadvantages to this healthy outdoor life. Despite slathering myself with Deep Woods Off, the black flies make a meal of me every time I go outside. My forehead looks like a war zone and my right arm is one mass of itch. As ever, I'm an insect magnet, but I have been lucky not to pick up any ticks -- yet.

This week, I've dug 48 holes for the new trees and shrubs. The earth is filled with rock -- in fact, several of the holes yielded a good deal more rock than soil, some of them forty pounders. The delivery is scheduled for a week from today.

The garden is going well. We bought our seed potatoes today along with more seeds and flats. I built a support trellis for pole beans. The cold frame will be moved out of the garden terrace as soon as I finish a cement block base that we can fill with good soil for it to stand on, just behind where I stood to take the picture.

Fritz planted a garlic bed last fall, heavily mulched it and covered it with black garden fabric for the winter. We uncovered it about a week or so ago. It's doing well as are the onions we planted in April.

At least somebody gets to rest around here!

We've got a little project going. It's for the opera company I design for and has to do with a new commission for a one act work to be produced, in all probability, a year from now. Yes, WE are working on it together. I always told my beloved non-opera loving husband that opera would come after him sooner or later and now seems to be the time. He's even enjoying it! I'll talk about it next time.


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