Saturday, July 30, 2005

"P" is for "Parthenogenesis"

I have finally figured it out.

I have finally unraveled one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

I have finally determined the underlying logic (if it can be called that) of why gay rights and abortion rights are inextricably linked.

This eureka moment came about as a result of a conversation over on GayPatriot, where GayPatriot himself discussed a current flap taking place in Massachusetts in regards to the wording on birth certificates for the children of same-sex couples. As it seems, the designations "Mother" and "Father" are insufficient for gay "activists", who want the state to change certificates to read "Parent A" and "Parent B".

When I opined that I could not see why gay parents did not put the name of the biological parents on the certificate, then file to have it amended later along with an attached declaration of non-paternity, I was told:

NDT, I don't understand your desire to see government impose itself in this way on the parents of a child.

At first that threw me for a loop. As I see it, what I advocated is following exactly the same process as is required when a married woman bears a child whose father is not her husband. As someone who grew up in a town where most of his friends did not have the same last name as the parents with which they lived, I am well-aware of the fact that marrying a person does not give you automatic custody of their biological children. Invariably, to change names or amend birth certificates away from the biological parents, additional documentation is required -- adoption paperwork, certificates of non-paternity, and the like.

Then, in a flash, I realized....since it is "government imposing" for same-sex couples having to do so, but not for heterosexual couples with a child that is biologically not both of theirs, same-sex couples are able to bear children that biologically belong to both of them!

My mind reeled.

Suddenly I understood why lesbian Ellen Malcom founded EMILY'S List to support pro-choice candidates -- because she was concerned about access to abortion for people engaging in same-sex intercourse!

I realized why Chris Crain, editor of the Washington Blade, argued in a recent editorial on which I commented, "...abortion is essentially a gay-rights issue" -- he was concerned that he and his boyfriend would not be able to end an unplanned pregnancy!

Most importantly, I understood once and for all why the first reason HRC gave for opposing Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts was that he would undermine the right to choose abortion!

I sobbed as I slowly realized how I had been lied to and deprived in my education.....that the vast right-wing conspiracy had so infiltrated both the public university and private school system that I had grown up being taught that it takes two people of opposite sex to have a baby. I couldn't believe that I had lived my entire life ignorant of the fact that men and women were the same biologically.

Fortunately, I was informed in time....and now, so are you. Be sure to tell everyone. Swarm the Massachusetts State House and the governor's mansion, demanding that they remove the insult of a man, fresh off nine months of pregnancy and twenty-two hours of labor, being forced to sign as "Mother", or the dyke who successfully impregnated her wife without any men and is damn proud of the fact having to be "Father".

Meanwhile, I'm off to Kroger for a pint of strawberry ice cream, a jar of pickles, and a bag of Doritos. Jeez, ever since last weekend, I've been nauseated one minute and starving the next.....

A Challenge for ImpeachBush

Frequent poster and Worthy Adversary ImpeachBush recently posted a series of comments in regard to my post below taking Joe Solmonese, current head of HRC and erstwhile head of EMILY'S List, as well as EMILY'S List founder, Emily Malcom, for their endorsement and large monetary support of FMA-supporter Inez Tenenbaum.

ImpeachBush argues for Solmonese and Malcom with the following:

Emily's List has a charter, and collects money in good faith from donors that they will support candidates that are pro-choice. BOTTOM LINE. That was Joe's job.

Based on that, ImpeachBush, I have a challenge for you -- a very simple one.

Answer yes or no to the following two questions:

Question 1: It is acceptable and not "self-loathing" in any way, shape, or form for a gay man or woman, as the head of a chartered organization that collects money in good faith from donors that the organization will support candidates who are in line with its chosen policy, to support with money and endorse a candidate who espouses a view that is patently antigay, so long as that candidate is in line with the chosen policy.

Question 2: It is acceptable and not "self-loathing" in any way, shape, or form for a gay man or woman, as the founder of a chartered organization that collects money in good faith from donors that the organization will support candidates who are in line with its chosen policy, to support with money and endorse a candidate who espouses a view that is patently antigay, so long as that candidate is in line with the chosen policy.

We're waiting. Anyone else may feel free to answer as well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.....

Blog Ally Eva Young, aka Lloydletta, has been showing over the past few days why she's a NDT award-winning blogger with her relentless pursuit of a story involving -- surprise! -- complete and utter hypocrisy on the part of a Democrat when it comes to gay rights.

As outlined at the Dump Bachmann blog devoted to the antics of antigay FMA-supporting Minnesota state Senator Michelle Bachmann, it seems that Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has decided that she needs to kick some money to one of Bachmann's DFL (it's a Minnesota code word for Democrats) opponents in the race for the Minnesota Sixth District. Understandable. However, there's just one problem....the person she's funding, Elwyn Tinklenberg, supports the FMA as well. What makes this particularly appalling is that there is another DFL candidate in the race, Scotty Mortenson, who has made it clear that he does NOT support the FMA.

Blog Ally Robert of Lime Shurbet, another NDT award winner, San Francisco resident, and future NDT neighbor, then takes the handoff from Lloydletta and runs with it in his own pungent prose.

I would simply answer in my own cynical fashion.....what most likely will get Pelosi in trouble for backing Tinklenberg is not that he's antigay, but that he's pro-life. As Joe Solmonese and Emily Malcom showed last summer, even if you support the FMA, as long as you're pro-choice, it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you and an endorsement. This is, as far as I can tell, the same logic that led them and others to proclaim John Kerry and his support of antigay state constitutional amendments and banning gay marriage because of his religious beliefs to be pro-gay and gay supportive.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Time for Happy Hour.....

NDT is flying off to the coast this weekend to see the husbear, so I shall not be blogging, most likely, but shall be consumed with committing flagrant acts of public affection and private acts of sodomy. Before you ask, the NDT Mascot is staying with one of my good friends, enjoying the life of an urban loft and being used as a means of picking up hot men. (grin)

Anyhoo, before I take off, thought I'd post this nice column from the Dallas Voice concerning the Round-Up Saloon -- my favorite bar in the Dallas area, and not just because.....I used to work there. (wink).

Happy weekend to all....and remember....extinguish all candles before leaving a room.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stupid Mistake of the Week...Maybe Month..Heck, YEAR

As a erstwhile pilot myself, I know full well the sheer, visceral attraction of flying. Even though my budget, my spare time, and other considerations confine me to letting someone else do the driving, I still get that intense thrill when the wings bend and Bernoulli's magic pushes a plane aloft. Precisely because of those reasons, though, I also understand the disappointment of having your pilot-in-command status taken away.

Part of the requirement of piloting virtually any form of powered aircraft in the United States is to regularly pass a medical examination as cleared by the FAA -- something which is never pleasant and quite often prone to screwups or outright manipulation, as happened to world-famous aerobatic pilot Bob Hoover. However, the necessity of doing this is obvious -- pilots absolutely must be in good physical condition, and most importantly, not subject to anything, especially recurring conditions, that will endanger them or their passengers. Driver incapacitation in a car moving at 60 miles per hour on the ground presents far less of an issue than it does in an aircraft moving at 160 miles per hour in the air.

However, as it seems, several pilots in California decided it was more important to fly than it was to be safe, and faked medical records to hide conditions like schizophrenia, drug and alcohol abuse, severe heart conditions, and incapacitating back pain that would have automatically disqualified them from flying. Worse, several of these individuals held commercial and airline transport pilots' licenses -- meaning they could fly commercial airliners. It's bad enough to put your family and friends, who at least have a snowball's chance of knowing about your condition, in danger -- but it's beyond reprehensible to put passengers who would have no way of knowing about your condition at risk. That's reckless endangerment at best.

Fortunately, karma, as it often does, stepped in to catch these pilots -- when they started collecting disability payments for the conditions they faked their records to hide.

My guess would be that the FAA is looking into crosslinking their database with insurers and state workers' compensation groups. There will be serious howls about data privacy when this happens.

All I can say is -- tough cookies.

Now, For a Bit of Lunchtime Lightness

While I was over researching the blog Inside Larry's Head for my immediate past post concerning his statement on gay marriage, I came upon something else that I thought I would post for your enjoyment.

WARNING: Please put down and cease imbibing any liquid that would be uncomfortable coming back up through your nose before viewing.

Here it is.

And Yet ANOTHER Perspective on Gay Marriage

Blog Ally Roaring Tiger of Big Cat Chronicles tipped me off to a blog entry concerning the issue of gay marriage by Larry Bernard of Inside Larry's Head, which I thought deserved a bit of additional commentary on my part.

While it isn't the easiest post to read -- and indeed, almost appears a marvel of free association -- I agree with most of what is expressed in it. However, it does seem necessary to add a little elaboration.

Cases in point:

I don’t believe in heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or omnisexuality. I know they exist and I know people practice these sexual behaviors but I don’t believe they are some fundamental biological imperative. I believe sexual development is a process in your brain that develops for whatever reason your brain grows and becomes what it is.

I would respond that the biological imperative is that of attraction. There is a significant degree of hardwiring in the brain, in my opinion, that governs particular shapes, forms, appendages, etc. to which we are attracted sexually. However, how those attractions are modified and carried out, on the other hand, is much more a product of environment than it is of any inborn drive.

In short, there's a two-position switch -- "Same" or "Opposite". It's up to you to define what exactly that means.

Sexual matters in those ages were products of power, politics, and economics. Today they are emotional and products of being fully actualized in your desires. Marriage was born to fuel the power aspects of sex into organized societal ends. Marriage today is about personal happiness.


I want to present civil unions as my political libertarian nature tells me is the “right thing to do” but when I look at the past of the “gay rights movement” and look at what other civil rights movements I am left with a problem “they will use it to try and bully society into giving them shakedowns and the like ala Jesse Jackson.” See sexuality is about power. They sued groups and pressured groups who supported the boy scouts. And in today’s world they can do the same to church groups and any other civic group that dares to disagree. We simply aren’t able to come up with an evolved answer right now as a human family.

I can certainly see where he came up with that impression. While I disagree that most gays as a whole would do such a thing, the problem is twofold -- one, there are groups that most definitely WOULD within the gay movement (i.e., the anti-religionists), and two, the inadvertent issues that are created by people who have the best of intentions, but forget that gay rights have to fit within and be consistent with the societal fabric as a whole.

Towards the example of the second, I had an exchange yesterday with Blog Neutral Michael of GayOrbit over his condemnation of the archbishop of Quebec for pointing out that, under canon law, the Church could not baptize the progeny of a gay marriage. Michael has a good point (with which I agree) that what the Church is doing is wrong and bigotted; however, as I pointed out, we TOLD them that they, or any other religion, would not have to recognize gay couples, period. This ties to that, we should have thought of it in the first place, and lambasting the Church now over what we knew going in makes us look like we didn't really mean what we said.

Another example is the comments regarding the whole flap over gays in the military that I provoked below. As I said before, I support gays serving in the military, but I foresee real issues with housing, especially given current sexual harassment laws that forbid requiring employees to accept uncomfortable situations -- and the fact that these laws have been repeatedly shown to apply to the military. None of these commentors would advocate forcing a woman into an uncomfortable situation or telling her to deal with her hangups, citing her "right to privacy", but would actively support doing so with men.

Again, in both situations, our intentions are right and good. However, the fact is that we ARE asking for special treatment and we ARE asking for "shakedowns" with the laws in question as they stand today. In order to completely undo DADT, sexual harassment laws will have to change. In order to baptize the children of a same-sex couple, canon law towards gays will have to change.

In Europe, where such things are more likely to have happened, we see the decay in their birth rate, their family rate, and a far more cavalier attitude in much of Europe about sex. There the desire to present civil unions comes out of the sense that much of the civil rights laws do of “we are the bad majority so we have to pass laws to make ourselves feel more enlightened.” Instead of as the movement in the United States is packaging it (gay Main Street) the European model shows about the same amount of familial decay as the rest of their familial structures.

I would agree with part of this assessment. In the US, the concern is much more integration-oriented -- we select a single view and tend to stick with it -- while in Europe, the concern is much more that every viewpoint is represented equally. However, Europe's problem is not that civil unions are granted; it's that respecting every viewpoint gives voice and equality to ones that are WAY outside the mainstream, even if they are destructive to society as a whole. It's very difficult to condemn polygamy, for instance, if it is required that polygamists receive equal legal protections for their practices. It is this schizophrenia that creates the cracks through which decay percolates as society splinters.

Sex and loving commitment are two different things, maybe if we can discuss how loving committed relationships that build families and help people function better in society can be supported we might have a chance of developing something socially that might work… tab a and slot b won’t work when people will argue that a “trouser snake” doesn’t count if the person with it has “fun bags”.

Some relationships make the person in them better, and make both people a more productive unit of society. That should be where we build from… the gay marriage movement has shown it is no more a product of that philosophy then heterosexual marriages because both are sexually focused, and not relationship focused.

Absolutely. This is why I support the idea of covenant marriages, which focus primarily on that commitment, as the ultimate goal of marriage for gays AND straights, while allowing domestic partnerships with lesser benefits for those of both sexual orientations who are unable or unwilling to approach that level of commitment.

Talk amongst yourselves. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Another Position on Gay Marriage

When I was a kid on the ranch, one of the smaller ways we had to amuse ourselves between bouts of work involved raiding the arsenal of firecrackers we kept on hand for coyote-scaring (in theory), then lighting a Black Cat or two and sliding them into an ant hill. The resulting explosion would send ants flying left and right, the remainder scurrying around crazily like shoppers at an IKEA opening. This was the best way to remove these vermin before they took over the place -- or at least, that was the explanation Dad got the day we set the lawn on fire in the process.

In the gay blogosphere, mentioning the word "marriage", especially with the words "the conservative position on" attached, is the rough equivalent of my childhood destruction from the ants' perspective, so it should be no surprise that GayPatriotWest's post on the topic has generated a similar level of frenetic activity over on GayPatriot. In that same vein, after last week's discussion on my positions, which included a mildly-provocative statement about what I believe concerning gay marriage, it's high time to put electrons to screens and go a bit farther in depth.

First off, when it comes to civil and legal marriage, I simply believe that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. No "separate but equal", no "gives all the benefits of", no "marriage by a different name" -- just the simple realization that, if you're going to have legal recognition of peoples' relationships at all, the same rules apply regardless of sexual orientation and gender. Period.

Now comes the really-controversial part.

Gryphmon over at Gryphmon's Grumbles republished, in response to GayPatriotWest's post, a wonderful commentary on the spiritual and theological applicability of gay marriage in which he makes the following point:

A gay or lesbian union is in fact not exactly the same as that of a heterosexual union. But it is still the union of the man in the woman and the woman in the man. It still takes place in the Blood of Eden.

It's in a different, but completely natural configuration and proportion than that of an opposite-sex couple. It's merely a different expression of Complementarity. And it also deserves respect, because it is the design of the Creator, and it's a beautiful and intricate dance.

The sheer elegance and genius of the way in which God created the male and female principles of men and women to work with each other, in all it's permutations should be acknowledged, celebrated, and respected but above all else, understood.

As one of my theology professors so eloquently put it, what sin is in a nutshell is the introduction of complications to a world that didn't have them. In the Garden of Eden, things were pretty simple -- do what comes naturally, as long as you stay away from those two trees. It was when Adam and Eve started playing with subtleties (did God tell us not to eat that fruit because He was concerned about us, or because He was concerned about us becoming like HE is?) that the problems came and the simple order of the world was shattered.

To plug into what Gryph talks about, I believe that, before the Fall, sexuality only came in one color and was clear as a bell. After, to use the apostle Paul's words in II Corinthians, we see "through a glass darkly". Anyone who's ever tried to make out interior details on a car with heavy window tint knows that it distorts colors and details and obscures the picture. You can see several different variations and possibilities, but as long as you're looking through that glass, you don't know what the "real" one is -- unless you have the car's spec sheet standing next to you, and even then that depends on your interpretation of what things like "wheat" and "bone" constitute for interior colors.

In this case, we have the Bible as the spec sheet, and it says that the only relationship that there is a clear divine imperative to recognize and promote is the male-female union. However, I do not believe that the Bible precludes the recognition of any other, and in fact I do believe it would be in churches' best interest to promote that which affirms the commitment between two people to love, cherish, and support the other in the name and to the glory of God.

The point of the admonitions against homosexuality in the Bible is the same as those against adultery, sexual licentiousness, gluttony, greed, and others, which is very simply that anything you value more highly than God or that interferes with your relationship to God will cause a problem -- and that can INCLUDE an unhealthy marital relationship between two people. For example, the problem with the men of Sodom can be neatly shown by the fact that their sin would have been the same whether they wanted the men in the house or whether they took Lot's daughters. Regardless of WHO they gang-raped, they were still gang-raping.

In short, I believe that the issue of religious recognition of relationships is not one of which relationship is lesser, but which is more. It makes sense on several levels to accept the simplest, which is the male-female procreative union, as the highest. Some churches may choose only to recognize that; some may choose to recognize others in addition to that.

Ultimately, the question how do we get from point A to point B? While I believe wholeheartedly that gay marriage is the only legitimate legal configuration that can be had, at this point, the temper of the country, given the large majorities against gay marriage, is to oppose it. In addition, we have the issue that a slim majority of the country still considers homosexuality itself to be "morally wrong", which is going to color and complicate the issue further.

From that perspective, I would say the next logical step is to make an end run around the marriage traditionalists by doing the unexpected. First, we should lobby for the right of domestic partnership or civil union, where it exists and where it's being discussed, to be extended to straight couples as well as gay couples. Second, when gay marriage is proposed, it should come in the form of covenant marriages, NOT "conventional" marriage. Finally, assuming that covenant marriages are given, the right of same-sex couples to adopt children should be limited to covenant marriages.

While you clean up where you spit out whatever beverage you were drinking when I said that, let me explain. First off, it makes it clear that our point is marriage equality, as in that whatever's available to one orientation should be available to the other. Second, given the culture of the gay community, it makes sense that we would have short-term legal partnerships and long-term committed marriages; furthermore, I doubt that any gay couples in existence who truly want marriage would chafe greatly at the additional conditions placed on covenant marriages. Finally, it co-opts and defuses the argument of the religious right that gays will destroy the institution of marriage when we are willing to accept and lobby for marriage with stronger restrictions based on ideals than heterosexuals are willing to place on themselves -- in short, seizing the moral high ground.

The floor is now open -- as is the bar. (grin)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

An Immediate Sign That You're Aging

As I've mentioned before, one (or more) of the radios in the NDT Household is usually tuned to my favorite country music station, 99.5 The Wolf. Today, as I was preparing my breakfast, I heard Barry Corbin, the official "Voice of the Wolf", boom:

Here's a vintage Texas tune that just keeps getting better with time!

The song was country supergroup Alabama's number one hit, I'm in a Hurry (and Don't Know Why).

That song was released in 1992.

I was in college and working in 1992.

Somehow I can't quite get a grip on the fact that a song from the soundtrack of my commutes to work and my first real bouts of drinking is now the pleasantly-titled equivalent of a "golden oldie".

On a good point......if that song is "vintage", with people currently paying exorbitant prices for "vintage" preworn clothing, given what's in my closet, my net worth may just have tripled.

Still.....I need a drink. I wonder how a beer will go with cheesy scrambled eggs?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

More on the U.S.S Iowa Situation -- Please Help!

Gryph and I have tag-teamed a bit of additional information concerning the aforementioned flap over locating the battleship U.S.S. Iowa in San Francisco.

Turns out that if we don't act quickly, the loony decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to reject a resolution to permanently berth the ship in San Francisco as the centerpiece of a museum will be a moot point.

Seems that a House Representative inserted a bit of language into HR 1815 (Section 1014), the massive defense spending authorization bill for fiscal year 2006, that specifically states that the Iowa MUST go to the city of Stockton, California, provided they submit a suitable application! My guess is that it was House Representative Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who raised a separate bill with almost identical wording, HR 492, with cosponsor Representative Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

Obviously, the issue here is that San Francisco, despite having the dedicated Historic Ships Memorial At Pacific Square Foundation, which has been working since 1996 to provide the planning and resources to berth the Iowa there, is about to be outflanked by congressional fiat. Gryph has provided links to the Iowa's veteran's organization, which is mounting a letter-writing campaign to get this section struck from 1815.

I would go a step further. HR 1815 is currently in the hands of the Senate Armed Forces Committee for review. I would ask that you notify those individual Senators and Senator Diane Feinstein specifically about this provision (SEC. 1014. Transfer of U.S.S. Iowa), and ask that it be removed from the final legislation. Senator Feinstein in particular ought to be particularly receptive, given her heated response.

The Iowa represents an enormous opportunity for my soon-to-be-adopted city of San Francisco, both culturally and economically -- an echo of its maritime and military history as the bastion of defense for the California coast and the Golden Gate, and a nod to its current popularity as a tourist destination. From a gay standpoint, as Gryph previously pointed out, the Iowa's own history presents a natural opening for an exhibit and discussion concerning the attitude towards gays in the military for a city that is symbolically the center of the entire gay liberation movement.

Please don't let this opportunity be lost. Email the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and express your opinion (or, even better for you non-Bay Area folks, get your friends in the Bay Area to do it as well); then contact your Representatives and Senators, as well as the Armed Services members, to let them know that the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square Foundation has spent enormous amounts of dollars and volunteer time to plan and prepare for a museum that will honor those who served, on the Iowa and elsewhere, and be a proud memorial for the history and valor of the United States armed forces. They deserve the opportunity to have the ship and should be allowed to compete, not have that taken away by a provision buried in a massive bill.

Thank you!

An Eloquent Expression of Righteous Outrage

This humble blogger cannot possibly improve on this posting by occasional commentor Patrick of Gryphmon's Grumbles.

This is a golden opportunity for the gay community to both deal with issues of the present and with the past. As Gryph so eloquently puts it, this is an opportunity to honor those who have served in the military, both gay and straight, as well as to provide a unique insight into the gay experience in and with the military in a city that arguably is the symbolic center of the gay community.

Now, it's just wasted.

Go, read, think, debate. GayPatriot weighs in here, as does Lime Shurbet.

Then, take action. Gryph has kindly provided the email addresses of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors so that you may voice your concerns (please do it politely and respectfully).

Thanks, Gryph. Let me know if you'd like to be added to the blogroll here.

UPDATE: I never thought I'd be saying this, but you go, DiFi!

News of the Whatever

There seem to be more than the usual bits of unusual news today, so I thought I'd flash a few up to lighten some spirits.

-- For Blog Ally Lab Kat....the next time someone accuses you of letting your kittens run the house, send them here.

-- I hope the note was, "I have a grenade and will send it to you"......

-- Note to congregation: in God we may trust, but we still should lock the door and take the keys.

-- Any bets on whether this makes it to the Supremes?

And, the Grand Prize Gold Medal Bull Moose Winner for the day....the story which packs the most disturbing questions and double entendres into one.... right here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why Books Should Never Carry an Age Limit

Blog Ally (I think) Michael over at GayOrbit was opining the other day about the impending release of the new Harry Potter book.

I’m 35 years old. And I just got a chill when I realized that the new Harry Potter book is going to be released in just a few days, and that I’ve pre-ordered it from, and I’ll have something to read on the way to work while I’m on the stinky MARTA train, but it’ll only take me a couple days to read it and I’ll just have to wait for the next one to come out or re-read Chronicles of Narnia because I just can’t wait for that to come out in the fall because it’s just going to be one of the best fantasy movies in such a long time, which you can tell if you go see the trailer that I have linked here.

I’m 35 years old.

This fell out of my subconscious this morning in my usual peruse of the Dallas Morning News over my milk and toaster pastries when I noticed one of my favorite DMN columnists, Victoria Loe Hicks, going toe-to-toe with Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein about adults who read Harry Potter books.

Let's just say I got your back, Vick and Michael!

Oh, and by the way, when I say in the title that books should not carry an age limit, I mean it. That doesn't mean that kids should be given access to any book willy-nilly; it means that parents should read it first and make the decision whether it's what they want their kids reading. That way, not only do they take active responsibility for what goes into their kids' minds, they become more literate themselves. Clever, eh?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Peek, Don't Stare, Don't Touch, Don't Think.....

As I surmised, the content to my post of yesterday regarding what it is I believe and don't believe triggered a veritable avalanche of comments from our board contrarians, several of which shall spawn over the next few days additional posts.

For this one, we'll talk about the issue of gays in the military. When I was stated to be someone who would "let-gays-in-the-military", my response was as follows:

I am in favor of the general idea of this, although how it's to be implemented will be an absolute bitch. You can separate heterosexual males and females, but what do you do with gay men and women? If I were straight, I'd have questions about ogling in the showers (although I consider that an ironic reversal for male chauvinism) if gay men were mixed with straight men -- and putting gay men in the same barracks is like putting together straight men and straight women. Someone has to come up with a good answer before we can really push this as such.

The reaction, of course, was swift and pointed.

Oh, one more thing about the gays in the military:

Are you saying that straight soldiers are incapable of following orders to treat gay soldiers with respect, or are you saying that gay soldiers are incapable of obeying the rules about fraternization?

What a low opinion of our men and women in uniform you must have.

Next one:

On gays in the military: I think it's odd for those who trumpet their support of our military and its prowess to doubt the ability of its soldiers to deal with open gays in their midst. This attitude also betrays a parochialism peculiar to the US in that it ignores the experience of the militaries in other countries.

The question I would ask is simply this: does the fact that US armed forces choose to separate male and female living quarters whenever possible mean that male soldiers are incapable of treating female soldiers with respect, or that female soldiers are incapable of obeying the rules about fraternization?

In both cases, I would say certainly not; what it means is that the armed forces are aware of the logical point that, while one may certainly be able to resist temptation to violate practices and rules, it makes sense to limit it as much as possible if it can be done.

What makes the situation an "absolute bitch", as I put it, is that previously, there was only one issue with which you had to deal -- gender. Separate the two genders, and you minimized the problem of virile people being tempted into non-military-spec behavior. With glbts, though, it now becomes TWO issues -- gender AND the gender to which one is attracted. You can still separate men and women, but you now have to consider that you have men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to other women.

At many points, that doesn't make any difference whatsoever. Gay men and women are theoretically no different in terms of physical or mental capacity or trainability than their heterosexual gender counterparts. Despite the fact that they ain't straight, it doesn't seem to affect their ability to shoot that way. On the battlefield, on the training ground, in the tactics room, there's no difference on the basis of sexual orientation -- just like at any other workplace.

However, unlike the vast majority of employers, in the military, you shower, sleep, eat, and live your life in the presence of your coworkers. While it's nice to focus only on the workplace aspects of the military, it is an inescapable fact that communal living is part of it, and the solution to that is what ultimately will determine the success or failure of integrating gays into the US armed forces.

This is, to be kind, an area that seems to be completely ignored by gay activists and produces a roaring double standard in the process. If we were to tell a woman she would have to live in an environment of minimal privacy with men, strip in front of them, and shower in front of them, and then, if she felt uncomfortable, say her concerns are unwarranted since none of the men were attracted to her and that she needs to be more accepting of differences, the words "massive sexual harassment lawsuit" would not begin to cover the scope of what that would create. It wouldn't be the first time the military has been sued (and lost) for it, either. However, when it comes to putting a straight man in with a gay man or a straight woman in with a lesbian, what do we do? Tell them their concerns are unwarranted and that they need to be more accepting of differences.

Making this more difficult, sticking gay people together fixes the issue of making straight people uncomfortable, but it runs full bore into the other reason we don't stick straight men and women together -- the temptation of fraternization and the potential effects of unit cohesion. Sure, there are rules against it, but, in the words of Martin Luther when describing priests and their housekeepers, why should we stick fire next to straw and not expect it to burn?

I don't have an answer to this. I wish I did, because polls show a majority of Americans think gays should be allowed to serve in the military; however, there are inescapable issues with communal housing and rules about sexual harassment as they are. I don't think it's possible to get rid of communal housing; however, perhaps it's time we simply say that one of the issues of being in the military is having to deal with uncomfortable situations and limit sexual harassment to overt acts.

Monday, July 11, 2005

What in the World IS North Dallas Thirty?

One of the interesting little side discussions that have been taking place here is mine with noted blog contrarian Demesne Lord about whether or not I qualify as a "conservative". His post today attempted to give a paragraph description of what I am as a springboard for discussion -- or more precisely, why I am NOT a "conservative".

You are a pro-sodomy, gay-marriage-supporting, let-gays-in-the-military homosexual rights activist. You think gays should be teaching in the public schools. You think men having sex with other men should be legal. You approve of gay ambassadors, gay cabinet members, gay soldiers, and gay preachers. You don't think homosexuality is a choice, and you don't think it can be changed by prayer and/or therapy. Your flaunt your homosexuality.

Whew, that's a lot! Let's break it down and try to get a little deeper into what exactly it is I do believe for the sake of clarity.

You are a pro-sodomy

Yep -- as long as one defines sodomy as sex between men or, as Wonkette defines it, "buttsex"; I'm definitely not pro-bestiality, although I do kiss my dog on the lips.


Totally from a civil and legal standpoint; I have my doubts about the applicability of religious marriage for gays.


I am in favor of the general idea of this, although how it's to be implemented will be an absolute bitch. You can separate heterosexual males and females, but what do you do with gay men and women? If I were straight, I'd have questions about ogling in the showers (although I consider that an ironic reversal for male chauvinism) if gay men were mixed with straight men -- and putting gay men in the same barracks is like putting together straight men and straight women. Someone has to come up with a good answer before we can really push this as such.

homosexual rights activist

Absolutely! I prefer the term "faggot freedoms facilitator", though (grin)

You think gays should be teaching in the public schools.

Of course. Why should straight people be the only ones who get the fun of teaching children who don't care of parents who don't care for administrators who don't care unless you're flunking the star quarterback?

Seriously, gay isn't contagious, and it's not like we can sneak subliminal messages into things like mathematics. "OK, if it takes Rory ten minutes to woo and ditch a guy and Charlie twelve, if both start at opposite ends of a circuit party of one thousand half-dressed men, at which point on the dance floor will they meet?"

You think men having sex with other men should be legal.

It sure is nice if it is, and that's a function of convincing the voters that it should be.

You approve of gay ambassadors, gay cabinet members, gay soldiers, and gay preachers.

If you'll pardon the expression, damn straight -- indeed, I not only approve of them, I may even have committed "crimes" with some of them under pre-2003 Texas law.

You don't think homosexuality is a choice, and you don't think it can be changed by prayer and/or therapy.

I think whether or not you're attracted to men or women is something with which you're born. Whether or not you act on it (or how you act on it) IS a choice, and I think if you want to be straight bad enough, therapy CAN help you act that way. I don't think that therapy can ever turn off that biological attraction.

I never underestimate the power of prayer to change things, and it's entirely possible that God HAS turned peoples' attractions in a different direction. All I can say positively is that His answer to that whenever I asked was "No, I have other plans for you."

Your flaunt your homosexuality. people who know me will tell you, it ain't in the way I dress, decorate, or talk. However, it IS mentioned whenever it needs to be among my coworkers, my straight friends, professional acquaintances, politicians, entertainers, fellow friends of Dorothy that I spot in airport security lines.......

As I say in my sidebar, I don't fit neatly into any box (and being claustrophobic, don't like being put in them either). I support gay rights, but am emphatically pro-life. I dislike government regulation, but support higher fuel-economy standards for SUVs and trucks. I may approach things from a conservative PERSPECTIVE, but quite often reach conclusions that are neither conservative OR liberal.

If you asked me why I think I'm conservative, the answer would be, "Because you always have to convince me otherwise." After all, remember -- I'm still working off broadcast TV because I watch it exactly a half-hour daily. In order to get me to spend more money or time on it, you have to convince me that I should.

Anyway, the responses to this one will be entertaining......

Thursday, July 07, 2005

This.....Is London....and It Was.....Dallas

Both Michael of GayOrbit and Andrew Sullivan are doing a great job of covering the London bombing and cataloging various reactions, so I shall not attempt to do the same.

I would, however, like to call specific attention to one excellent piece by Johann Hari. Two parts in particular struck me:

In the scarred miles between each explosion – walking from Moorgate to Liverpool Street down to King’s Cross – you could see several fights taking shape yesterday that will grip us for years. The fight against Islamic fundamentalism became clearer. Anybody who tells you these bombers are fighting for the rights of Muslims in Iraq, occupied Palestine or Chechnya should look at the places they chose to bomb. Aldgate? The poorest and most Muslim part of the country. Edgware Road? The centre of Muslim and Arab life in London and, arguably, Europe.

Does anybody need greater evidence that these Islamic fundamentalists despise Muslims who choose to live in free societies, and they would enslave Muslims everywhere if they were given the opportunity? Nor is this tit-for-tat revenge for deaths in Iraq: very similar jihadist plots have been foiled in France and Germany, countries that opposed the invasion. Anybody who doubted that the fight against Islamic fundamentalism – a murderous totalitarian ideology – was always our fight should know better now.

What I find most striking in Johann's piece is his following insight:

But another fight began yesterday: to defend our civil liberties – and especially those of the decent, democratic Muslim majority – in an age of terror. I headed for the East London Mosque – a few minutes’ walk away from the bomb in Aldgate – to watch afternoon prayers. Chairman Mohammed Bari said, “Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning… Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace.” Everybody in attendance agreed; many headed off to the Royal London Hospital to give blood. But they were afraid the message would not get out: several people were expecting attacks on the mosque tonight.

If these attacks turn out to have been committed by British Muslims, we have to fight to prevent an outburst of rage against the wider Muslim community. If these attacks turn out to have been committed by rogue asylum seekers, we will have to batten down for a hard fight to defend the rights of refugees in this country.

This yanked me rather abruptly back to the night of September 12th, 2001....a night that I spent with others looking up at the dark Texas sky, seeing nary an airplane's lights on one of the busiest flight routes on earth....quietly discussing the latest news, the reports, the security we'd had to go through at work, the people to whom we had lent our cars and money to get them home.....all while standing in front of one of the Dallas-area mosques, lending a thin layer of protection to our friends who we feared were being targeted.

Thank you, Johann, for making it clear.....the terror of the attack itself can be made even worse by the terror of the reaction.

To Londoners, to the British people, and to those around the world whose loved ones were lost or are fighting for their lives....our hearts, our souls, and our grief are with you.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth of July!

To celebrate our nation's birthday, I want to share with all of you the immortal words of John Adams, as written in a letter to his wife, Abigail Smith Adams.

But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.- I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. - I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. - Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

You quite often see the first paragraph quoted, but not the second, which I think is perhaps the most powerful of all. Over on GayPatriot, there's been a bit of talk about "rediscovering" American history -- a talk which I think is long overdue.

The miracle of the American Revolution and of American history as a whole is that it was carried out, not by gods and demigods, but by mere mortals like ourselves -- people who quarreled, had personal problems, doubted themselves, worried about money, had trouble balancing work and family life -- but, despite all of that, maintained their devotion to a goal higher than themselves. Too often, history is taught as a remote subject, a topic in which the characters are, like their memorials and monuments, larger than life, cast in white marble, and almost inhuman -- which ignores the core message of it, and especially OUR history.

Finally, on this day, I would leave you with what seems to be a surprise -- a request that you watch and listen to Martina McBride's video for her song, Independence Day (click on the link for "Independence Day (full length)").

This is a powerful and intense song, and after you view it, you may wonder why I've asked you to do this on a day of celebration. I ask this because the beauty of the United States is not only our freedom to do as we please, but our freedom to do as would please and help others. To borrow from the song, "be about when time runs out" and never "look the other way".

Happy birthday, America!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A Culture of Dissonance?

NDT has relatives visiting this weekend, so my blogging time over the past couple of days has been a bit limited. Still, I wanted to share an article from the Sunday Dallas Morning News about gay composers and American music and ask for your opinions.

Frankly, there's something in this article that bothers me -- and I can't quite summarize what it is. I definitely get a sense that the writer -- Scott Cantrell -- is trying to make a point -- that gay composers tended to write "softer", less-dissonant music and straight composers otherwise -- but I also feel like he's trying to "stretch" that point when the original work doesn't generalize to that degree (which he acknowledges).

Anyway, it's a decent read; let me know what you think.

Friday, July 01, 2005

NDT Travelblog......Destination, Madison, WI

One of the magical (or at least annoying) things of being in NDT's line of work is that your schedule is perpetually prefaced with, "Subject to change at moment's notice". Such was what happened Sunday night, when NDT was foolish enough to answer the phone at 10 PM:

NDT: "Hello, this is NDT"

Leader: "HI NDT....look, the deal signed, and we need you at the site in Madison, Wisconsin, on Tuesday morning at 9:30."

NDT: "Well, I...."

Leader: "Great! Thanks."


At any rate, Monday found me at DFW, boarding a flight guessed it....St. Louis. Since the mantra in my group is "Fly the farthest distance on the least amount of chargeback to the account", the best option for a last-minute flight, especially given American Airlines and its absolute domination of flights in and out of Dallas, was to connect through Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

Lambert used to be one of my least-favorite airports in which to make a connection and for good reason -- it was crappy. After American's rape (and there is no better way to phrase that) of TWA in 2001, Lambert was put into direct competition with American's other hubs in Chicago and Dallas -- two airports with vastly-larger facilities, service capabilities, and room to expand, not to mention the fact that they're barely more than an hour's flight time away. The body blow of 9/11 only accelerated that competitive weakness, especially as American slashed its domestic routes and focused on stopping its hemorrhaging.

However, times change, and Lambert seems to be changing with the times. The airport, rather than being the international hub that it was under TWA, has retooled and adjusted to its new reality of being an endpoint destination for most travelers and a connection point for smaller regional flights. The terminal has undergone some cosmetic sprucing (desperately needed) and is adding logistics changes to deal with its most glaring problems. Because there aren't as many flights and they are mostly of smaller planes, the idiotic alleyway design of the C and D terminals that used to force planes to have to back almost completely out to the runway to avoid hitting a widebody (and making STL an almost-inevitable thirty-minute ground delay airport) is no longer a killer.

NDT Travel Tip: If you have a layover in STL and want to spend some quality laptop time, the passageway between the B and C concourses has T-Mobile hotspot access, an abundance of electrical outlets -- and, for those who, like NDT, are aviation junkies and find beauty in the mechanical ballet of flights going in and out, ground crews scurrying, and planes taking off, a panoramic view of the main runway and the B/C concourse gates.

Next up was the flight to MSN on American's remnant of TWA's regional airline, AmericanConnection -- and to my surprise, it was a dash of nostalgia, being on a Jetstream 41 turboprop. Most US airlines have made a concerted push to get rid of their propeller fleets and convert over to regional jets -- but in some cases, the turboprops are more efficient (and definitely cheaper). For some reason, it was comforting to clamber in, squeeze into the smaller seats, and hear the mutter of the propeller blades as they pulled you through the sky. Kind of like smelling meatloaf when you walk into a restaurant; not something you necessarily want to order, but a pleasant experience nonetheless. In addition, our flight attendant was one of the cabin comedians who can turn a safety briefing into a howling moment ("OK, I have to show you how to work a seatbelt, even though I know every single person on this plane, including that beautiful baby who is now crawling out of his safety seat, can do it already!") To cap off the flight, it was a beautiful moment when we pulled up to the gate and, at the captain's request, the entire plane broke into loud cheers and applause for the young man who had been in Iraq serving his country in the seat next to mine -- after his explaining to us the odyssey of days that it had taken him to get to this point, what he had seen and done, and how glad he was to get home to see his mom and dad.

Airports, as a whole, tend to fall into one of three categories -- functional, with the same aesthetic and lighting one finds in a domed stadium; wildly modern to the point of being ridiculous, with glass and steel everywhere to ensure that no succeeding generation will think their forbears weren't "with it"; or pathetically inadequate, with gates crammed into every corner, waiting areas the size and with the same seating amount of closets, and reeking of some industrial effluvia (or cigarette smoke) present from its original construction during the Great Depression. Thus, it was truly a jaw-dropping experience to step out into the gorgeous Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) and its beautiful architectural touches, finished in the Prairie style popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, everything from the podiums for the gate agents to the glass panels that shield the outside sidewalks and are etched to cast a shadow of a stylized head of wheat. Truly a magnificent experience and one of which the denizens of Madison should be proud.

Oh yes, Madison. As the capital of Wisconsin and the home of the central University of Wisconsin, Madison definitely has a different beat than the other cities you'll find in the Badger State. Bordered on by two large lakes, the city does indeed revolve around water, with little canals dug everywhere to make sure that no resident is too far from a boat launch. Unfortunately, while I was there, the city was going through a heat wave, with temperatures well into the nineties -- an event which my counterparts there assured me rarely if ever happens. I guess I brought some of our Texas summer with me!

While there, I hit two places of particular note at the prompting of Blog Ally Dunner of Dunner's Stunners -- the Essen Haus, a fine German restaurant famous for its glass "boots" filled with beer (and yes, I had one....well, maybe two), and the Terrace at the University of Wisconsin Union. I must say that one of the finest experiences of my life has been eating an ice cream cone made fresh by the U of W's dairy program, feeling the cool northern breeze, and swapping stories with an old friend while watching the sunset dance off the waters of Lake Mendota.

All too soon it was time to leave the land where bodies of water are not automatically considered suspicious and head back to the plains of North Texas. We won't go into details, but let us just say that the curse on NDT still is in effect for whenever he flies through Chicago O'Hare.

At any rate, to all a fun, joyous, and safe holiday weekend.