Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Those are our pumpkins this year; we're all there. I'm in the back, Rob is in the front and Alan is the tiny speck of a pumpkin between me and Brian with the magic marker vampire face you can't really see (It's the one he wanted...).

Brian, of course, has been wondering if our jack-o-lanterns will lure Roadie the purple badger back for another snack. If kids smash them tonight, I'm sure Rodie will get the blame. I'd still love to know where he got the idea that badgers live off of pumpkins.

Also, check out the cool spider web we have up: It took a bunch of string, theft of one of Rob's Halloween decorations (for scale that spider is about a yard in diameter), and a google image search of "spider web". The web goes from our roof to the ground. I have to brag and show it off here because my family is officially sick of hearing me say "Didn't I do a great job on our spider web" each time we pull into the drive. Nevertheless, didn't I do a great job on our spider web?

Anyway, Happy Halloween! (then 4 more days of politics and... well.. Happy Halloween.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Important Announcement, Really

Please Read:

Earlier this month some Mormon PFLAG mothers of gay children gathered for a luncheon date. The luncheon stretched out to almost four hours as these mothers talked about what the Mormon Church’s active support for California’s Proposition 8 was doing to their families and to their loyalty for the church.

While these mothers have tried to give their church leaders the benefit of a doubt with respect to their church’s policies, the church’s recent public support of the California Proposition that would take away the civil rights of their gay children seems to have been a tipping point.

They want to do something to show their support for their gay children and for the larger gay community. At the mothers’ urging, Salt Lake City PFLAG, Equality Utah, the Pride Center, the Inclusion Center, Affirmation, and the Human Rights Campaign have joined together and scheduled a candlelight gathering for all supporters of our homosexual friends and neighbors this Sunday evening, November 2nd, at the Salt Lake City Library plaza at 6:00 p.m.

The gathering is open to the general public, gay, straight, Mormon and non-Mormon alike and is intended to be a positive pro-community show of support and inclusion of our gay brothers and sisters. There will be a short program featuring Millie Watts, Katherine Steffensen, and Linda Barney. Candles will be provided for everyone following the program and we will join together in a short procession around the city block of the library.

Please spread the word and encourage your friends and families to be there. This event is free. Everyone sympathetic to gay civil rights should be there. The sponsoring groups foster equality for all people. Having a large number of participants will be an eye opener to many who honestly believe our numbers are few. Let’s join with our gay friends and show them that they are valued and equal members of our community.

WHAT: Candlelight gathering

WHEN: This Sunday evening, November 2nd, 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: The Plaza of the Salt Lake City Library, 200 East 300 South



I hope you all can be there; and spread the word, online and in person.

As Dr. Watts explained it to me, It won't be a church bashing session; it will be an event to focus on what we have here in Utah. We all need to heal, and feel some sense of community here. Even some of those out to legally harm our families are suffering with the split and backlash in response to the LDS push for Prop 8.

Personally, I've been feeling less and less part of my home state, I do not feel my family is welcome here, and you've all heard me whine about maybe moving (aka retreating). In short I know I need this, and, regardless of whether or not Proposition 8 passes or fails, we'll all need the warmth that will be there Sunday night.

If you are coming (and you are :-) ), be sure to tell me and we can meet up, have a blog reunion. Maybe Edgy won't stand us up again.


Evan has just brought to my attention that we are shown in a video on a LDS site I've never heard of, here. Now, it's not a site promoting Proposition 8, and so I'm not mad or anything. It's a good anti-8 piece, in fact. I'm just confused. I don't remember this picture being taken (though it is in our home) and am wondering where it came from and how it got there (if you know and the story reveals too many of our personal details, send it along in an email rather than a comment, if you please).

I do know where another of their pictures came from. I saw it when I was looking at for images for Does this mean someone is selling our image? I should take another look there... I imagine, if they are, it's under the keywords "unbelievably adorable" "gay" and "family" ;-).

Anyway, I guess such goes with the territory of speaking out. So many of the other same-sex headed families in these parts have to fear for their jobs or family backlash, and we're thankfully in a safer position. But it's just odd to find such things.

EDIT: Okay, when I showed this to Rob he told me he gave them permission to use this photo. Not only that but he also told me that he told me about it... there's a reason he calls me the absent minded professor sometimes :-).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Break

I'm in the mood for something different.

How about a list of podcasts I love and would recommend, those I'd pay for if they weren't free?

Radio Lab - I admit it; there are some geeky podcasts on my ipod but I think this is one science podcast everyone would love. Give it a chance. They are near works of art in their audio production, and their content always seems to reveal something new about what it means to be human. They are about to start a new season, but go through the archives and the check out the episode on sleep, or memory, or moral judgment; I've not really heard one I didn't enjoy.

All Songs Considered - Podcasts aside, I love my music; I love to be surprised by new music. To that end, All Songs Considered is a great way to be exposed to something new.

This American Life - of course.

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me - of course.

Philosophy Bites - A nice short but thought provoking podcast, showcasing a variety of modern philosophers. It's just the perfect length for my son to fall asleep while I wait in his bedroom, somehow keeping monsters away. I used to read works of philosophy; now I have no time and so I appreciate this little podcast to oil those gears.

Skeptic's Guide to the Universe - Again, I used to spend much time involved in the skeptic movement also, but then the kids came and they made gay rights much more important, and where did the time go, right? But I still love to get my news about developments in the realm of homeopathy, faith healing, and perpetual motion machines, and these guys (and girl) put on a great weekly podcast that can be both funny and informative.

Nature Podcast -Interesting news and interviews from the latest research showing up in the journal Nature. It may be a little jargon-ey, but it's a great peek at what may be on the horizon.

The Naked Scientist - Neither as sexy nor as repulsive as the name might imply. It's more pop-science than the Nature podcast but it's a good way for anyone to get easily digestible news on some of the latest research.

This Week in Tech - A great source for new tech news. On top of that, they all praised Google and Apple for opposing Prop 8 in their last episode. I'm now a loyaler fan.

Of course there are others I love but probably wouldn't pay for, like Radio West (for a lot of issues specific to Utah delivered by the dreamy Doug Fabrizio :-)), and Selected Shorts (near an hour of short stories read by actors; great for road trips).

So what's missing? Can anyone give us some great podcast recommendations?

Monday, October 27, 2008

At This Kitchen's Table

I've got a dentist appointment today and so I'm working from the home office this morning. Rob just got back from a walk, came in here looking serious and asked, "What are we doing here?"

He had been listening to the "Mormon's and Proposition 8" program done by Radio West. I recommend it, if only to hear the Evergreen International representative use this easily debunked argument against marriage equality (you can listen here).

We went to the kitchen and talked about it.

What are we doing here?

My initial response: Well, we were born here. That's not as flippant as it sounds. Utah is in our blood, damn it, from our regional accents to our culture. We're the product of polygamists, handcart pushers, Bishops, and teetotalers. We love our funeral potatoes, our broad Brigham Young streets, and our amazing landscapes. We are carriers of the gene for Utahn, for better or worse.

Of course, seriously, we are here also because all our family and friends are here. We have a lot of support here, concentrated in a shell around us in a sea of passive-aggressive and outright aggressive hostility. I'm glad to say my parents, now retired, have said they'd move where we move as they are very important people to our boys and to us, but there's much more in family and friends to consider.

Our home is paying a great deal in health insurance, as we have to have two different policies; we could fix that if we moved. Eh, there's a lot of things a move could fix (though only on a state level, unless we became, say, Canadians). It'd be nice to not have to worry as much about dying in, say, a car crash, before I can transfer enough money to my spouse (we are limited to a minimum by a "gift" tax each year). Rob could feel more secure knowing he'd be treated as my family in a tragedy; I could relax too.

I know I'd like to live out my life where I was born, but I don't want to die here, in Utah, not without legal marriage for my family. It's funny, when you're young you fear death; now you fear what death means for your family, and we could soften the possible blow if we moved.

Rob thinks we may be obligated to our children to move. Maybe we are. There are benefits for them in both choices as well though. From family interaction to cultural hostility to inheritance law. It's complicated and, while we understand the legal problems, we don't really know if they will have social trouble here or not; so far so good.

We're also obligated to strangers here, aren't we? There are gay kids coming out every day here and what happens if the gay families move out? We keep losing leaders and activists here to friendlier jurisdictions. Do we owe it to those who couldn't take it and couldn't see any options and took their lives here to stay and fight? Of course, I should outright admit I'm still eager to fix this unfixable demon. Maybe it's time to surrender the old fight. Can we justify a cut and run by saying we have to think of ours first? It feels like an excuse, but is it?

I think of our boys and I know Utah is seeping into them too. Maybe we should move before they feel their roots are down here, before they are Utahns. Maybe now's the time if there is a time, before they have a huge social network of friends. We can become strangers in a strange land and they can learn to be Californians, or Canadians, or, heck, even Spaniards in their heart.

These things are just too difficult to measure. I think of harms we (they) may face and the emotion of it is tough to hold back, but know I can't feel it right now. Measure twice and cut once and then get all emotional, right :-)?

We left it with a long and much needed hug and a "we'll see what California does," but in all it may not matter. The reality is that my husband is fed up with our home state and the LDS church, he's worried about our family here, and he has reason for both. In the end, when it all comes down to it, we'll each be all the measurement the other needs. We'll see.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Utah Mormons Will No Longer Aid Prop 8

A couple days ago the tribune reported:

Church: Utah Mormons will no longer aid Prop 8

While I doubt the headline is completely accurate, there has been a change and I've been wondering about this for a while.

The reason given is:
"It would be more troublesome for Prop 8's public relations if non-Californians were making those calls," said Davis, who teaches political science at Brigham Young University. "If a caller says, 'Hi, I'm calling from American Fork, Utah,' that might be a turn-off to a California voter."
They aren't going to call people because their calls will make marriage equality for our families more likely?
Have you ever gotten a political call where the person said "Hi, I'm calling from [not your state]..."?

For all I know every political call I've received was from Bolivia.

Rob thinks the actual reason is fear of having to pay taxes while acting as such a significant political force. But, as I understand it, they're fully within the IRS guidelines.

Why did they think these calls were a good idea and put out a call for them and then change their mind so quickly, though? Even if they did plan to ID themselves as Utahns in their calls, you'd think the negative consequence of that would have occurred to them right off the bat.

Maybe they did rethink the whole thing... but I guess I'm saying I'd like to think the true reason was that they saw the trouble this was causing in families like mine, and they wanted to pull back and doing so in Utah was as much as they could afford. Yeah, it's a little late, and I'm probably being naively optimistic.

I am glad I've less reason to be upset with some of my family, though it's not much when you know they'd just have to move a day's drive and they'd be as active in the anti-marriage equality campaign as possible. Still, it's something... or it might be?

Ug, I'm tired of having so much of my family riding on the choices of strangers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Boy Witch

I picked the boys up from school yesterday and Alan apparently had something he wanted to confirm, something he had heard from another kid.

He asked, with all that adorable 6-year-old innocence, "Papa, is a boy that's a witch called a B*beep*ch?"

Trying not to laugh too hard I told him, "No, bub, that's a word for a girl dog, but that's also a grown-up word, okay?"

I think everyone in the gay community has known some boys, though, most people would call "boy witches" :-).

Thursday, October 23, 2008


A couple days ago Brian came home and he suddenly started crying and wanted a hug. Eventually we got out of him that a girl was very mean with him and told him he was too little to be in 1st grade and called him a baby. I, admittedly, got furious. They are the youngest in their grade and they are little but who the *bleep* does she think she is, right? Someone would teach her a lesson. I reflexively wanted to tell him to tell her “I’m in the highest reading level in our class and you’re not. Maybe you’re too stupid to be in 1st grade”, but, of course, I didn’t :-).

It was a chance to learn a sad lesson about people for Brian, though, and we talked about it quite a bit.

He is such a sweet kid and doesn’t have anything near that kind of cruelty in him, neither of our boys do. They’ll fight over toys and tease each other for laughs, but I can’t remember them saying things just to be mean like that. What to do?

I did some research and found out that the child has problems at home, and at mother’s visiting day yesterday I watched her (I wrote more about Mother’s Visiting day at the isocrat blog). I can see what the problem is, the mother understands, and it’s not just with Brian, but he’s more likely to take it personally; Alan is so much more carefree with his feelings. So my plan is to bring it to the attention of the teacher and ask her to keep an eye out for now. I want to protect him, but know part of learning in school is social learning about how to manage these situations.

It does cause worry though, specific to us. When I first heard him say a girl was mean, I immediately thought she may have picked on him because our family is different. I can only hope other parents will do their part to make the learning environment civil and inclusive for all children or there will be a situation. I have to hope we can continue to keep the outwardly benevolent hostility nurtured here by our predominant culture out of our home and school. But people who vote to bully us out of equal protections have children too, I'm sure they pass on their bias, and we will interact. Maybe we can do it civilly. If not, though, I feel I’ve got armies of potential waiting to deal with that moment, and we will.

All that aside though, yesterday at Mother’s Visiting Day was wonderful. I learned about vertebrates with Brian, I sang a song, played dodge ball, and wrote a fairy tale with Alan about a talking leaf and the sun. We are so lucky to have the school administrators, teachers, and parents there that we do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I voted early....

...for that one.

I can't say I did it without some hesitation. I fear for the debt our kids will have to pay with our ballooning deficit and am leery of beginning a new governmental step into health care right now. But really, republican administrations have been horrible on debt and the last Democratic administration had a surplus. I just like to complain when I vote :-). The future of SCOTUS alone is reason enough to vote Obama.

I'm sorry Alan; armies are just not "pretty cool" enough, not when I've got you and your brother to think of.

I also know Obama promises hope and greater equality for many of our families and I want to believe it, and I did weight that in significantly. My first vote, though, was for a guy who promised to repeal the army's ban on gays and lesbians, and he sounded great too. Later he'd enact don't ask don't tell, and sign the "Defence" Of Marriage Act", while he was cheating on his wife. So, yeah, vote one left me a bit cynical when it comes to considering gay issues and the presidency. We'll see.

There were several votes on which I was truely conflicted, but ended up just doing it (these people for example). One vote, though, that I was not conflicted at all with regarding Salt Lake County Mayor, Peter Corroon. I've had the benefit, as a volunteer, to work with many of the people at the county for more than a couple years now. It's one thing to respect a man from what you read in the news; it's another to find unsolicited praise from his employees. This is a man I've come to respect, one I trust with my tax dollars and one that makes the label of politician sound honorable. I'm Scot and I agree with this message; vote Corroon.

Anyway, I resisted voting early last year because I like the ritual of election day. But I had a meeting at the county building and thought I better just do it. What if I get sick? I'm glad now I did it and hope others take advantage of it as well (for Salt Lake county residents).

Boy, won't I look stupid though if tomorrow Obama comes out with a proposed Gay Labor Camp Initiative to solve our economic woes?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Time rolls down the hill of order, they say... or they might?

No one has, for example, seen a shattered window reassemble assemble itself, and if we did we’d assume we were watching the world rewind, and for good reason. There are simply many more ways a system can be chaotic rather than ordered, and thus, with each time step, black holes decay, carcinogenic replication errors become more likely, and our i-pod ear buds become more tangled in our pockets.

Damnable entropy.

There is no truly irreversible action, in the universe or in our relationships. Everything leaves a mark. It takes energy to melt and reform a shattered window. It takes great effort to even approximate a fraction of justice after an injustice. For some crimes, the act is truly irreversible in any sense. Regardless, all work spreads more entropy. Thank goodness the earth has a tiny water wheel placed into the stream of solar energy radiating into the void, else we’d be... well, we’d not.

Anyway :-), these are the sorts of things my mind wanders to when considering the feeling that something irreversible has happened. I’ve been feeling like this business with the LDS church, Proposition 8, and my family has broken something, irreversibly. With their aims, ads, accusations, ominous predictions, and even literal demonization of my family, that pro prop-8 team of churches has put out a lot of energy, and, by it, many stones were thrown through my extended family and our relationships with LDS friends. By the laws of chance and nature, by the thermodynamics of interpersonal relationships, something valuable and intricate was bound to be broken, right?

I think it has.

I just don’t see some people the same now. I love them; I’ll be polite, but I don’t feel for them what I used to, knowing what they supported being done to my husband and children, acting on orders or not, feeling love and righteousness and good about it or not. They hope to debase and harm in very real terms my family and then think asking for respect for their faith, their motivation sounds near reasonable? You can shoot into a man’s home, hope he understands, and complain if he comes out and decks you? The excuse being you feel, with all your heart, that God wants and will reward you for shooting guns into people’s homes? That’s not an excuse; it’s a statement of guilt, selfishness, and lack of regret.

Sure, it sucks for us both. I understand they feel such motivation deserves respect--every supernatural claim must ask for special treatment, from Scientology to Islam, or they'd never last a day. I wish I could give it to them. Such God-given, moved-by-the-spirit feelings are a dime a dozen, though, all over the world and to many different ends; when the ends are to take rights from so many families, respect necessarily ends.

I've read some research that shows some people's brains are literally built to believe with special spiritual feelings and I know some of my family may be such people. In a way, maybe I'm being intolerant of their build, their nature to be intolerant of us on faith. But my home can only afford to give leeway to them if they can control themselves and keep away from harming us and others first; I wish they could see that. When the Golden Rule is broken, a line is crossed and they make their faith fair game. I can respect faith in, say, that people can become gods, that people can be resurrected, or that bread turns to flesh; all that is fairly benign and I'll keep away. But not the rest, not that they have to legally harm my family. Slapping a label of "Faith" on that makes it no more deserving of respect than any other bit of bigotry; it only drags down the brand name.

And sure, maybe I should be a bit more understanding as there was a day when my whole world was the spiritual, and being moved by unheard voices of the spirit decided all sorts of decisions (one of which was leaving the church that most of these family members belong to :-)). I do understand these feelings can be quite pleasing and assuring to the human mind; it's the hedonism of agnosticism. I'll try to be understanding of their use of them, but it’s just not the same as it was for me last year; something broke.

The funny thing is that I probably have become, with respect to them, as they were with me. All these years, when they were doing it to us, I just never really knew how it felt for them. I’ve always had an issue with their choices, but never felt it was much of my business and I could be happy that it pleased them. I could look at it more like their preference for certain foods than being on a different team. More and more, though, their choices are becoming my home's problem. I love all my extended family, but, for some of them, not in the way family should love each other anymore; I love them the way they love me, without that deep feeling of support for who they are and what they want out of life, when what they want means harm to the 3 most important people in my life. We’ll hate each other’s sin, love the sinner, and be pleasant when we interact… And that’s the way it is; that’s the broken window.

And look here, adding more work to the system just increased the overall entropy, didn't it? I wish the analogy didn't hold :-).

The question remains, though. Could we find the energy to melt the glass down and reform? It can’t be undone, but can it be remade? Don't know; I just know I'm not willing to do it alone.

(Boy, that was supposed to be a short post; guess I needed to vent :-))

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Little Things

1. - Yesterday we took the kids to a corn maze with a bunch of other same-sex headed families:
The kids had a great time, more with playing with the dried corn cobs than the maze, and the parents got to feel a bit of solidarity during this difficult time for all our families here in Utah. Brian was a trail blazer:
I was more of a pack animal:

2. - I slept in late today, and was woken up by Brian sneaking into bed with a hug, and a "Good morning papa" followed by a couple pats and a "You're a good papa."

3. - On Sundays Brian usually goes with my parents from our breakfast to our family dinner but Alan always like to stay with us. So I asked Brian "Why do you like to go to grandpa and gramee's house?"

Brian: "Well [with his adorable smile]... They let me eat a lot of cookies, and I can watch cartoons all the time, and I don't have to say please or thank you."

Ah ha, Mom and Dad! You've been ratted out. Typical Grandparent behavior, if I can be so prejudiced.

4. - At breakfast we talked about Prop 8 and what the LDS church is doing. I'm so blessed to have parents more on "our side" than even I am at times. My dad gets more strident in his frustration with the LDS church than is in my nature, and who knows the result of my mom's letter yet, but I run out of patience at times too and wouldn't risk changing a thing about my parents. Knowing you've got family at your back makes most opponents less likely to succeed.

5. - We have even more pets now. Add to the dog, two rabbits, frog (we lost two, may they RIP), and two parakeets about two dozen ants. Here they are moving in to their farm:
Alan has been staring at them for hours. Turns out they are all named Ben.

I guess I'm trying to say the sum of the little things in a day or two makes a lot of difference.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Standing Guard

I was having this great dream. We, my family, were flying over some sort of turquoise tropical ocean, just playing in the air like we would on land. It's funny how you can just take something like flying as a given while in a dream state; all powers of reasoning are tuned off. While looking down, I saw Rob's brother swimming under the water, and suddenly I'm thinking of his possible role in Prop 8, which jarred me awake a bit.

Then the door to our bed room opened some and that woke me. I thought it was one of our boys with a night mare, and so I called them in but no one was there. Our door, if not shut tight enough will eventually spring open with the furnace kicking in; either that or I was still dreaming.

So here I was, thinking of this dream, and then our kids, and then of my extended family, and then that chain letter, then the comments I got on it over at the other blog, and then the letter my mom sent out in reply, and then what it might mean to our family, and then about all the excuses people give to treat others badly, and then what I'm going to do about it... At 4:45 AM, I'm thinking of this painful event for my family that's looking more likely to be on its way, and it's comming, in large part, from my local culture, and for some underhanded reasons.

No sense looking to sleep again, right? I get up at 6 anyway.

Not much sense to this post either, and it's still up in the air if this gets posted eventually :-).

Being awake now kind of reminds me of how it used to be, when the boys were little and neither slept through the night for months and months. Note my tower of Diet Coke, next to that really sleepy guy in the picture there. It's from those days, about 5 years ago. I lived on caffeine, had effectively no short term memory, and could mix baby formula in half sleep. I think I got addicted to the stuff (the caffeinated pop, not the formula), and so I quite cold turkey about the time I took this picture to document my recovery :-). Haven't had one since.

Anyway, this house, usually noisy with the sounds of twin six-year olds or just silly banter between husbands, is so quiet. I feel extraordinarily protective and able to protect them at these times of night, as I remember I did back then. I suppose it's kind of like standing on guard: being up, trying to figure out how to best care for and protect your family while they sleep and we're under political attack. But I'm not really worried as much as working it through. They, even in their sleep, have a way of making me sure I'll figure out something; we'll get there somehow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chain Letter Reaction

A LDS chain letter just got to me through my brother. He was upset by it and wanted to share his response, which was supportive and loving (This is the younger of my older brothers, not the brother who’s a bishop). In short I was touched to know exactly where he stood, but even more so appreciative to know he’ll stand up and say it and that he wanted to make sure I knew he would.

I went through bits of the letter on, but this blog is more about the personal. In short, it’s a deceptive, strange and kind of sad attempt to garner support for Proposition 8.

Anyway, the letter is written by a Sharon, who I don’t know from Adam (or Steve). But the person who spread the letter is a person in the periphery of my extended family. We see them here and there. I don’t care to address them directly and will put my energy elsewhere. I don’t think it’d do much good to confront such people anyway.

But my brother has entered the fray, and is now a couple letters into it. Furthermore, this letter was also sent to my parents and other family, and they’ve gotten upset as well. They are sending out a letter of their own to everyone on the long string of emails listed, which will include family closer to us. The man who sent the letter to my brother is a man on his 3rd marriage, and a guy who my parents know to have physically abused his children; they also tell me his current wife has been convicted of fraud, some pyramid scheme. So you can guess how personal this could get, now that the first stone has been thrown.

I can’t blame my parents for getting personal, though. I’d be upset if a guy I knew was spreading the message that equal treatment of my son’s family is somehow an insult to marriage and a goal of the Devil. I guess I’m just wary of how these things spread and grow in a family. Will my siblings or parents get too heated? Will other siblings or cousins take the other side and defend this guy?

And yet, another part of me is admittedly beginning to want to get it all out, get it over with, to stop the sublimating and self suppression on all sides and have our trial by fire. I want to know who we can trust and who is just being polite to our faces; I need to know to whom in my family my family is family (I think if you read that again it might make sense). Maybe it's naive, but I suspect, while it may hurt, we'd all get through one intense big event closer and better for it, instead of second guessing through all these little things.

Maybe we should do it at the family Christmas party ;-) (or maybe :-\).

I guess all families have fault lines. I just fear each little event like this, a chain letter from a guy I hardly know, could cause the tremors that lead to the earth splitting for our extended family. Or maybe it's the start of the refining reaction we need. Or maybe it’s just a flash in the pan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Brian wants a badger.

It will be named Roadie, it will live in our back yard, and we will feed it pumpkins, because that is what badgers eat, apparently. Furthermore, it will be mostly purple and will not be like your typical badger in disposition… or maybe I’m a badgerphobe? Maybe to say you're being "badgered" is just as unjust as saying something is "so gay"? Either way, I’ve been assured this one will be well mannered and gentile.

So we are in the market for a badger.

To this end, we bought a pumpkin a couple weeks ago (not for lack of trying to grow one). This pumpkin was placed in our garden, at Brian’s direction, in order to lure the creature, and the fruit sat there for many days without event.

Now, though, it has disappeared, vanished. Only the dry stem was laying there in the garden, just as though it was the inedible bit of a purple badger’s snack. This, of course, caused some gaping smiles because, really, not even Brian thought that would happen. He was pretending just for fun, like pretending we were in the Star Wars universe, but instead of light sabers we get badger pets.

I am a scientist and am, of course, purple badger agnostic--some neighbor kid probably went to pick up the mushy thing, the stem pulled off, and he ditched the rest of the evidence--but Brian says he thinks he may have heard Roadie in the trees the night after the pumpkin disappeared.

I think I like Brian’s hypothesis better; too bad it doesn't work that way :-).

Monday, October 13, 2008


We decided, having a 3 day weekend, to escape bear markets and anti-gay politics and seclude ourselves in a cabin just outside Zion's National Park. Not even a cell phone signal could find us.

I was feeling good, even after last week, but this was exactly what I needed to top off the tank in the last stretch to the November elections.

Just look at this:

How could anyone think of politics there, right? Even better, the fall colors were on:
I love the scenery but the boys get a big kick out of finding photo opportunities to use to freak out Gramee, who is deathly afraid of heights:

I photoshopped Rob's hand out of that first one but I should alter the angle of that tree in the last one.

Anyway, if we ever move from Utah, we'll all miss what we get from our quick trips to our amazing national parks down south.
Now back to work, and for a couple of great reasons.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hand Holds

I used to rock climb quite a bit, before our boys were born. Once, due to a mistake of communication and a blinding overhang (note: not hangover), I almost dropped a friend to a rocky riverbed and, long story short, I caught him and dropped the desire to do that again.

A couple days ago it felt kind of like it did when, while you’re ascending a new climb, you look around to be unable to plan an obvious route to the top. I couldn’t see what our next move should be, with family, law and the simple geography of where our family should live. Really, I still don’t know how to surmount those large questions. Nevertheless, it seems the analogy holds in that you don’t really need to see every move to get to the top; you know others have done it on far more difficult climbs. You just need to see how to move one hand or foot even an inch higher, and you’ll eventually find a higher place on the rock for your other appendages.

So I'm feeling good after inching up a bit in a couple areas.

Family: My Father in-law, well, I asked him if he’s been involved in any the pro-prop-8 movement, making calls or asking his congregation to act on it, and he told me no, he hadn’t. But that was it; his reaction was abrupt, the sort that says "no but let's not get into this". Okay, I learned the minimum of what I needed to know. I can live with leaving it at that without a debate on what the LDS church is doing. I love my in-laws and it continues to hurt us that they indirectly support people working so hard to undermine our family, but it’s not direct support. Maybe I’m a hypocrite for not holding more ground, but I see the way Grandpa is with our boys and I can swallow some of it for now, rightly or wrongly. Maybe these are things that defy measurement anyway.

On my side of the family: I came home from work to find out that, after my mom read that “go viral” article, she spent the day calling all our family and asking for their help and asking about what they’ve done on Prop-8. There was some good news and some bad; sadly, the wedges have been driven deeper for some others, but my family is still attached to the bulk. I’ll deal with the bad new when we have to all interact again. But it was a great blessing to find out that my mom had done that. I feel grateful and phenomenally lucky to have the parents I do. They have always understood and are probably the reason I have the home I do; they gave me the freedom and example to do so all the way back to the day I came out. I’ve been too lucky both as a father and a son, and may deserve to be told to shut up when I complain too much about the extended family (Note: not a license to tell me to shut up. Shut up are the only two words that are "a bad word" in our home.).

Doing Something: I spent my lunch calling organizations. If only the gay community were more like a church or a business. If only it really had a monolithic gay agenda. But no, there’s a bunch of people with a bunch of aims and we’re brought together by others' bias and demonetization, sometimes literally by our local culture. No one really had an organized reaction to the interstate LDS push, and we really need help getting organized here. One local community leader suggested that the members of these various boards should meet once a month, just to know what everyone is doing (I think that’s a great idea and hope it’s implemented). Anyway, I’m going to try to help put something together; just waiting a weekend for suggestions from HRC. I know whatever we come up with may not do much, but it's something.

PTC: We had parent teacher’s conference and our boy’s are doing great. Scholastics come much easier for “way above grade level” Brian, but Alan is not struggling either; he’s “where he should be”. Their teachers told us they are doing great socially and have a lot of friends. Hoping to head off any problems, I asked if our family structure has been an issue in any way. They both separately gave back a quick no, almost shocked that I’d ask. They both even went on to compliment our family for our extra involvement and familial support. One said "Everyone here thinks so highly of your family and I can tell your son has all the support he needs", and the other said "I wish we had 20 more like him". I eat that stuff up :-).

I think we’ve been very lucky with teachers and parents at their school. While it is predominantly LDS, it seems to not be your typical suburban Utah political atmosphere; most don't seem to be buying what their leaders are telling them about our family. Or perhaps it just changes the atmosphere by breathing it and giving others the chance to see us for what we are, instead of amoral monsters backed by activist liberal judges out to destroy The Family (TM) and convert their children (Brian’s teacher even has an Obama pin… Brian must have convinced her in political debate ;-)).

So maybe, as a repeating theme of this blog, I worry about our family here in Utah more than is justifiable, but not less than I want to; just in case.

Anyway, there are still problems to face, opponents to challenge, and more hand holds to find in this climb to equal rights, but at least we’re moving. In leaning on our loved ones, whatever November holds, we'll be okay and we'll keep inching up.

Oh, and today is National Coming Out Day. FYI, I'm gay. Your 18th (or 19th?) coming out day really ain't that special :-), but kudos and good luck to those for whom this is their first.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Needed Some Good News

Conn. court overturns same-sex marriage ban
"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice," Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote in the majority opinion that overturned a lower court finding.

"To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others," Palmer wrote.
I have to wonder how this will affect CA? More Californians will feel like this is reason to grant equal protections, or more Californians will decide to hurt our families to get at those darn activist judges who actually follow the equal protection clauses of their state constitutions?

Anyway, Congratulations Connecticut!

We Have Something in Common

This editorial in the Trib made me laugh this morning, and we need that in these parts:

Residual Irritation

Christopher DeSantis writes of being accosted by evangelicals protesting outside of conference last weekend:
"How it warmed my heart to be told that I was worshipping the wrong Jesus, or that every time I opened my mouth, I was speaking for my father, the devil. How decent of these people to come and shed a ray of sunshine on my otherwise miserable existence."
This wouldn't be the same conference in which, when speaking of "defending" man-woman marriage, you were told that "some marital options" are crafted by the devil and lead only to "misery", would it? :-)

To be clear, I think these evangelicals are behaving reprehensibly, but, Christopher, come on man, I think you broke my ironimeter and I'll be unable to discern the truly ironic for weeks, just like Alanis Morissett. See, it's already happened.

hey, buck up. At least they aren't trying to annul your devil-inspired marriages with a constitutional amendment. Not yet. I'm sure they'd like to see your play book, though, for how you're doing it to gay and lesbian headed families, for future reference. You know; just in case they get in power and have nothing to do with us gays adequately put in our place.


This whole thing can be sad, but really, step back a bit, and it's a passable dromedy, right?

(no, I've not talked to my father in-law yet; he got in late and is still sleeping, but at least I'm feeling much less raw about it and don't fear losing my temper as I may have yesterday)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

LDS Videotaped Conference: Go Viral

Young Mormons urged to join fight against gay marriage in California

In their videotaped conference M. Russell Ballard encouraged young member to "go viral" and told them "God will bless you as you do your part."

Why is not it clear to all how dangerous this is? God will bless you for campaigning against my family, for degrading the union of many children's parents? It is, at best, low to use God for such a goal and it's worse to bribe young people with supernatural rewards. The sad part is that, as one can see in many religions, you will get people to act against and alter their conscience with such talk. It's tried and tested.
Robert Chambers, an LDS area authority for Pocatello, Idaho, wrote in a letter to stake presidents in the Rexburg area. "We ask you to commit initially to a minimum of 150-200 volunteers from your stake."
I have to wonder what my brother and my father in-law are asking of their local members? How can I be around them on the holidays without knowing? If they truly do act to so directly to undermine our home, how could they come into it? This is a mess.
"If tolerance is the premise, it should go both ways," Bednar said. "There could be sanctions against us for teaching our doctrine."
This could almost be funny. Again, I've never once asked for your "tolerance",
Bednar, and don't care how you or your faith regards my family or what you sanction in your church. Why can't anyone over there see that? We are asking for morality in your actions in the public sphere, in the sphere we have to share no matter how much sharing it disturbs you. We are asking that you follow the golden rule and stop doing to my family in law what you would never want done to yours.

The funny thing is that, with the LDS church's actions, they are making it far less likely that anyone will care to "tolerate" them down the line if they win this battle. If you want the world to do what you say, you should be an example.

Even more ironic is that the main fears they seem to be spreading regarding Prop 8, like children learning of homosexuality in kindergarten, are going to happen regardless. Our children go to school too. The LDS church seems to think gay marriage leads to gay parents, but why then is Utah in the top three states of the percentage of same-sex couples raising children? We have to live together and unless you want to get medieval, so to speak, our children will be going to school with yours and, just like yours, they should be able to talk about their families and your children should be civil, right?
"Because you are here tonight," Clayton said into the camera, "there is hope for the family."
Yeah, "the family"... I'm sure most watching could feel the love, and the sad thing is that that's not sarcasm. You can't get people to act like this without feeling good.

I'm tired of this. Worse than all that, this morning, after I read this and got all riled up, I was notably short tempered with our boys. They were goofing off while they should have been getting dressed for school and I raised my voice when I could have just refocused them. I'm disappointed in myself that I let the yes-on-8 crusade get into my home; it's just hard to hold the line without a couple minutes to digest new news.

I wonder if we can stay here, or, really, if we should? We are here for family, but there is a wedge there now, and the family we need most, my parents, are retired and willing to go where we go. Or maybe, again, I'm just frustrated and it'll look different later. Or maybe it'd be best for us all if I remained frustrated this time. I don't know.

It's funny; yesterday we were driving to soccer practice and Brian asked if we got new rings when his dad and pop got married in California (he wanted to know if the ring was new because I've told him he eventually can have either the my wedding band or the ring I got the day they were born). I told him no, that we only got married again in California to get new legal rights. He said, "so that we can be more safe and you can't break up?"

He was cheery and nonchalant about it, but I thought of what might happen in November and had to recompose myself before I could answer yes without my voice failing. I can't let them know about this threat, I don't want to tell them if they do take those legal rights away, and I don't want them to see my worry. But it speaks volumes that he has picked that much up, right? He gets it. This 6-year-old gets the importance of marriage, when a church of adults misses the point.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bad Week

Eh, the last couple days have just not been very pleasant.

There are the big, seemingly unassailable problem. Prop 8 is gaining and my marriage is looking more likely to be, once again, annulled or in legal limbo come November; that will really limit our options. On top of that, it will likely be thanks to the church of my culture and the church most of my family funds. To be serious, I really don't know how I will be able to be around them, knowing what they have chosen to do to us, even indirectly. Can they even imagine how they'd react if I supported the same legal hobbling and insult to them, their spouse and their children? It's disturbing how quickly people ditch the golden rule, even for their actual brother... But hey, it could be worse; they could be turning me in to the inquisition, right?

So no, today I'm going to focus on the trivial problems of the week.

Like Heroes. What's up with Heroes? How many plot lines are we following now; 5 for every character (10 for Niki or Barbara or whatever)? Focus! Now, Season 2 was troubling and I was told you'd fix it. I mean, will we ever find out what happened with Mica's backpack plot-line from season two? I was worried about that stolen back pack and all, even with a pandemic threat.

But things look less than hopeful. I mean, wasn't Sylar adorable in an apron, just after we watched him probe through a brain and kill several people in cold blood? Clare gets into torture (or was that enhanced interrogation?)? Really, Heroes? Really? Someone goes into the future and sees something scary, again? Everyone gets powers... Mohinder's power is, what? To have sticky stuff on his back, get horney, and make it impossible for cameramen to hold steady when filming him? Ooo, and the psychic cop can see into the future now if he eats paste...

Honey, I liked your first season quite a bit, but come on. You were supposed to distract me like a shiny object up to the election, yet I find myself groaning at your day-time TV twists (Identical triplets! Camping up the guy I loved to hate. Oh and he's that other guy's brother, adopted out at birth!). You make me sad.

Secondly this week, I lost my Nigerian scammer. For about a decade now I've been taking their letters and trying to keep them busy with me instead of grandmothers in Florida, but I also like to see how ridiculous I can be while keeping them hopeful that they can pick my pocket. I had one guy convinced I was a protractor sales man from Texas that looked just like PeeWee Herman's mug shot. I may have pushed it too far when I promised this person a +2 lab coat of frost giant intelligence if they'd come to work in my lab.

Still, they replied after I sent this photoshopped image of me in a wetsuit:

I took off my hair, removed a tooth, enlarged my nose, and pulled out my ears, and she/he still told me she liked my picture! I'm that handsome. (if you're into such stuff, I'll put the exchange in the isocrat forum in the member's humor area. It's too long for a blog and I don't want them to find the text by searching for it; there's still hope).

Anyway, here's to next week.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I know I said I will be trying to separate the complicated, heated world of politics that surround my family, from my family in this blog, but sometimes that just can't be done.

I found this story on queers united today. Support for Proposition 8 seems to be gaining in the polls after their ad campaign began, which uses some of the great examples of deception, fear mongering, and personality politics.

Now there seems to be a 5 point lead by those who want to make our marriages illegal. I know the polls are of questionable worth (let alone one poll), but this has me quite worried for my home and the future of our rights in the United States. If there's something both sides agree on it's that what happens in California this November matters a lot.

Last I checked, the pro-prop 8 folks had much more money than those defending our families had. Please consider helping us get our message out as well:

Donate to No on 8

I mean, who needs that extra dinner out or new shoes, right, when the money we save can go to truly defend marriage.

Now to just get the worry off my face before the kids see me. Man, I know I've said it before, but I'll be glad when the election is over.

Monday, October 06, 2008

More on the Debate

I asked Brian yesterday if he could tell me other reasons (besides war and peace) he thinks he likes Obama and his brother likes McCain. He thought for a while and said "Maybe because I look like Barack Obama and my brother looks like John McCain?"

I guess he kind of does.

While I would never advise to vote by who looks most like you, I was touched to realize the boys really have never noticed or mentioned the race of even the children in their classes. I hope it goes to show how hard people have to work to make children measure race as difference.

Now, as for Alan and Senator McCain, I wasn't seeing it. No offense Senator, but my kids are the most adorable children on the planet and it isn't easy to compare. The closest I got was in looking back at the baby pictures:

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Heated Political Debate in Our Home

This morning I had to document the views of these little pundits:

I don't think we push political views on them, as may be evidenced by their partisanship. I'm disappointed, though, that a negative tone seems to come through in my voice after Alan says "McCain", complete accident :-).

I'm surprised they've picked sides because we don't really talk politics around them that much either, as we don't want them worried about such stuff, just yet--the future of the Supreme Court alone can give me a nightmare--but they pick a lot up from friends, family. They even chose to watch a fraction of the debates with us and with some interest, to our surprise (still that didn't change their minds and they've not been in the " undecided" camp for a couple months now; Brian was a Barack supporter throughout the primaries).

Anyway, the message they come away with is:

Obama = Brings Peace.
McCain = Sends Armies = "Pretty Cool".

Of course it's a mess more complicated than that. I guess I should explain to Brian about the extra troops Barack wants to send to Afghanistan and his expressed willingness to cross Pakistan's boarder. And maybe I should explain to Alan that war is not near cool.

Eh, but I won't, just yet.

My name is Scot and I approve of this message.

Friday, October 03, 2008

It's Happened Already

It's humbling, but I know my weaknesses and can take Brian correcting my spelling, as he has a couple times now. He does it so tactfully too. I'm even okay that he had to explain to me what 'expository' means when he was telling me about one of his stories the other day.

They are growing up and I can take it.

But yesterday I was dropping them off at school and I like to take them all the way in, you know, to see what they have on their bulletin boards and such. I went to leave and asked for a hug good bye. Brian didn't hesitate but Alan whined a "Papa" just like a teenager and motioned his head to two girls waiting to be let into their room.

What?! This is the kid who pats my hand as he goes to sleep, and makes sure I have a pillow and a stuffed animal every night. It's only first grade and his father can't get a hug in front of friends. No one told me that could happen so soon; it's too soon. Curse you peer pressure!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In The Workplace

I've just begun a new professional endeavor with a once-professor of mine, now colleague (that still feels weird). In this role I've been dealing with new folks and I often forget that my family may strike people as... unexpected? I don't have a filter on how I talk about my home; if the subject comes up and it does in any workplace, I don't hesitate to let it. Still, it's far from a problem, and only a problem if their curiosity leads us into a conversation about being a gay parent in Utah when there's other things to do.

Reminds me of how things used to be, though.

My first professional job (if you don't count my 5 years as lumber yard stock boy) was for the US Bureau of Mines. It was my first job in a lab and I was thrilled to be hired as I was working towards my BS.

I hit it off great with my boss. It was just him and me in the lab and we talked a lot and I enjoyed his company, along with the invaluable experience I was getting. But about a week into it we were having lunch together and were talking about a training session I'd have to complete, part of which was diversity training.

This comes out of his mouth:

"Let me warn you, the poor woman conducting the class has a fag for a son. She went on and on about his disgusting lifestyle. It was all I could do to keep from telling her her son will be burning in Hell."

Now I have to say, I am ashamed even today for what I did then. I changed the subject, and didn't let the force of what had happened affect me until I got home. Everything was going so great; I loved my job, and, worse, I really liked my boss before this... I didn't speak up the next day. It's funny thinking on it now, because I thought that my similar experience at Boy's State was a turning point for me. I mean, this is even after I manhandled a bigot right in the student union. But I failed here. I guess I've 3 big mistakes as a gay man: Boy's State, the other one, and this.

And it gets worse. Rob and I were getting married that summer, and it got back to my boss through other students working there who knew me, but it only got back to him in part. He, in his eavesdropping, assumed I was marrying a girl. He began a not-so-subtle campaign to be invited to the reception; I mean, who wouldn't invite their boss, right? All the while he'd shoot off an anti-'fag' salvo about once every other week, telling me about their disgusting lives and why they deserve what's coming, in love of course, from Jesus. At some point the work situation became both ridiculous and hostile.

Finally, after a couple months, I couldn't take it anymore and I gave my two weeks notice without a good explanation, and went back to being a stock boy.

But, it gets worse, again.

During my last two weeks, my boss boss took me aside and told me how much he respected me and my work. He went to try to impart some lessons about married life, with sincere emotion--he choked up--and topped it off by giving us a wedding present, an antique crystal candy dish. He was clearly hurt and confused as to why I didn't want him to come to my wedding. I kind of felt sad for him. No, I did feel sad; damn it, I liked the guy, if not for that one thing.

I could have told him then too. I was quitting and had enough for our wedding. Maybe I could have changed his whole world view regarding gays, but I didn't say anything. I just escaped. To this day he doesn't know that he once gave a wedding present to a gay couple 13 years ago. Heck, he's probably in California right now going door to door in support of Proposition 8.

It should never cease to amaze how some people can be antagonistic, bigoted, and yet oblivious to it, even feel like they're your friendly mentor. But it's painfully common. Conservative churches take on this PC stance quite often, from the inquisitioner loving the sodomite to death, to the churches of today loving families headed by same-sex couples out of equal protections. It must feel better to hurt a person while feeling love rather than hate for them, but you're still hurting a person and the love is only for your benefit. But, eh, we've been over this ground before.

Thankfully, I'm at a point in my life where I'm the one with the doctorate. That was the last job I took without introducing my family right away, and now I don't have to rely on bigots for my family to make a living. I'll never work under those circumstances again and I guess there's value in this experience found in that lesson.

Still, it's easy to be brave when you're strong, right? It's a world apart to be brave when you're weak.