Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008, The Year Here

New Years is more like the last gasp of the winter holidays for us than the climax. Rob hasn't been awake to see the new year come in for about a decade--I usually just give him a careful kiss on the cheek--and goodness knows I don't want to face two 6-year-old children new years day that have been up past midnight. So tonight we'll be celebrating early and at home.

So what do you have to say for yourself, 2008? Looking at my blog sidebar, it has been a rather large and mixed bag. In fact, if I didn't have a blog I fear I'd not have remembered all the ups and downs.

Firstly, we went on many great vacations, and they were very fun (needed more words for links :-)). The best moments of 2008 really have been those when it's just the four of us on an adventure.

I learned to never kiss aquatic mammals.

Rob herniated a disk and I became much more domestic.

Alan got glasses, I got minor surgery, and we got a bunch of new pets.

I was smuggled into a panel on children of minorities in Utah schools.

Senator Buttars had his fun harming our families, for the sake of families.Nevertheless, I hope he had some Happy Holidays.

Peter Danzig was fired for supporting Nielsen for supporting GLBT people.

I was optimistic about the new church leadership. Did I have reason to be?

I began to worry about how living here affects my health.

I did political stuff, as a delegate.

We opened isocrat.org, but it still needs a lot of work, time we don't have. We also got the blog going and that's still trying to find the right voice.

I finally got my doctorate, and there was much rejoicing.

I was rightly worried about California allowing us to have equal rights.

Rob became the "Room Mom" for our boy's class.

We met a bunch of MoHos at Pride.

I went to prison and consorted with police officers, but that turned out problematic.

I got engaged to be married, again.

The LDS church told their members to "do all you can" to be sure our legal marriages wouldn't last.

I got upset at family who support such a message.

I did what I could to address those against us at isocrat.org and reviewed the research on children of gay parents, along with the arguments against marriage and such.

A suicide got to me, as well as a beating, and an attempted suicide.

We left for California, and we were, again, married on our 13th anniversary. Those two days, described in that last link were the best days of this year and of many others, right below the birth of our boys and our first marriage. I wish we could look back on them now without that bitter sweet haze, without remembering it knowing we'd be hit down so soon afterward. Ah well...

The LDS church totally drank Affirmation's milkshake.

Then their PR department claimed they were victims if gays kept equal rights. They lied about Europe, mislead about the Catholic Boston Charities case, and insulted the moral character of my children, all with much love, in press release meant to "reduce misunderstanding".

Evergreen backed them.

LDS families broke, mine a bit as well.

We got our 3rd marriage license, and held much hope that it would keep legal weight come November.

As soon as the ads started, the poll swung from a 17 point lead for our families on Proposition 8 to a deficit. And man, talk about the ads, deceptive and dehumanizing and paid for by some in my family and many in my state. That hurt.

As the LDS seemed to have paid for the majority of such ads, I tried to introduce them to the GLBT nation.

The LDS church then pushed harder, telling college students in a video that they would get supernatural blessing if the fought against our families using "viral" online methods. Then the chain letters started; those were so full of misinformation that they would have been funny, if not for their effect on many families like mine.

But hey, Conneticuite made our marriages legal! If only I had a job prospect there.

Then a purple badger ate our pumpkin.

I began having a hard time sleeping.

Rob began wanting to move from Utah, and from the hostile culture here.

The election happened and we lost Proposition 8, but my guy won the presidency. My family was in legal limbo again.

Looking back on those posts, I was more hurt than I realized. It's not easy feeling like there's a tide of people out there who think it's a moral good to hurt those you love and need to protect the most. It's frightening. To be honest, I'm still not over it; it still stings. Back then I thought I'd be over it all by now but something was different this time; having your family being held back is not the same as them being knocked back from the legal ground once held. Best not think too much of it on a holiday though.

We spoke out, and the LDS church was shocked that we did. Honestly? They were surprised? I still don't get that.

I felt some despair, but the new and stronger gay community helped end that.

Regardless, I revealed myself to be an unimaginably horrible person.

I finally started to sleep normally again, but still feel a physical pain from the stress of Prop 8, even today. Should I get that checked?

I tried to get everyone to give a charitable gift for the holidays. I tried to make it work, but not many were interested. I really don't know how to give up on this either, and they will gift next year :-).

I leaned on friends, both old and new.

Lastly, I'll list that I got engaged again, twice in one year. If I need to, I'd renew my vows to my family every day, every hour. I'll take on those legal responsibilities and try to secure the stability of equality under the law for them as many times as others forcibly divorce us, plus one. We will start again, if we need to. This cog, in this family, will spin until it's done; that's simply the thing that I am.

In ways it's been a hard year on my family. I've three people, though, that make surrender impossible and all the losses well worth it. Come on 2009, I'm ready for ya.

And Happy New Year All.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My First Chanukah

You may remember we just decided to incorporate a couple Chanukah traditions.

Last night we celebrated the last day of Chanukah with a Jewish family whose children go to our boy's school. Actually, they invited us to their grandmother's home to celebrate along with their larger family. The mother said she was just so glad to have other parents in the school interested in Jewish traditions; we rarities in Zion have to stick together :-).

But just picture it: A gay-headed family was there with a bunch of strangers and we were invited by a couple we only know from brief chats when we drop off and pick up our children. We were there celebrating one of their important religious holidays, a religion that's based on a book that, in centuries past, called for our murder.

Sounds potentially awkward, doesn't it? I know it did to me.

It was anything but awkward, though. Everyone was exceedingly warm and welcoming. We get a cold reception from uncles and such at Rob's extended family Christmas party, held each year in their ward house, but not here for Chanukah in a stranger's home. We were warmly embraced and felt more than welcome. We had a wonderful night. The boys did too, playing with a bunch of new friends and their classmate. The older kids organized games for the younger; they played dradle and such.
And man, the latkes... When I thought "potato pancakes" I was thinking they'd be kind of bland, something I'd eat to be polite--I even made sure I snacked before we went :-)--but boy was I off. I went back for a larger plate of seconds. The yam and parsnip latkes were the best but the traditional latke, with a bit of gingered sour cream, were delicious too.

Good food aside, these are the sorts of experiences that trigger an irresistible reflex of hope in me. It was much like our recent dinner with leaders of various minority groups. We fit right in; differences were there and apparent but were a source of interest and interaction, not conflict. And it wasn't that all too thin some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay friendliness in those who "hate our sin" and love us... while posing us as a threat to humanity, family, marriage, and goodness. It dosen't take long in a social conversation for me to taste the difference and this was the real thing.

We had much in common anyway. I've never been in a social situation outside of a university before where I was asked what my dissertation was about and my description wasn't met with automatic regret for asking and that social flight response. Even I'm sick of that work :-), but I actually had to answer some questions that showed they heard the answer to their first. Most every adult there was a doctor of some sort, one quite near my field.

And charitable... Talking about a class on Islam one man was taking, the conversation turned to the local refugee community and it turned out most everyone there was involved in helping out, from the school system to working at the free clinic.

In all it was an evening spent with some really great people, strangers who felt like friends. That means a lot to me, living where most strangers have it out for us, politically and religiously.

Simply, I left more happy than ever to incorporate into our holidays a bit of the traditions celebrated by such a great group of people, and to tell our boys that's where some of the "plans" for their build, as their know genes, come from (Must also get Rob to ask for their latke recipes! Mmmm...).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Wrap Up

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

I've been so busy the last couple days; it's been a blur of family, games, puzzles, movies, toys, and repeated snow blowing.

As predicted Alan liked the punching bag the best:
He's got quite a left hook. Now maybe he'll stop ambushing his papa with his karate moves, but I'm not betting on it.

Brian was all about two things:

The white board in his room:

On his bed there he sat his stuffed animals. He's their teacher. I could watch that for hours.

The other thing he loved was the scrabble game:

That's his very first scrabble board (Yes, "HECK" was my word and, sure, it's probably not in the scrabble dictionary but it's an Utah word for sure). I've probably played a dozen games with him since Christmas morning and he's pretty good for a 6-year-old. Actually... Brian and I are about equally matched in Scrabble; he's already called me on misspellings twice. They should really have never given me a doctorate :-).

Christmas morning we had family over for brunch.
I always feel a bit like we're caving in to expectations each time we serve our guests quiche :-).

Now we're off to sled and then celebrate the last day of Hanukkah. Then New Years... This has to be the best time of year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Waiting for the Sugarplums

Right now we've got two kids fake sleeping in their rooms, and I just have to waste time to wait it out. Then my fun starts. I'm as excited as a kid myself :-).

To pass the time I may as well post, eh?

I got a kick out of a very strange sight this morning. I came back in from getting the paper to find Alan was, to my shock, emptying the dishwasher without being told to do so! I had to document the event:
Christmas Eve coincidence or Santa bribe? I don't know/care but that's a pleasant first :-).

We had a great Christmas Eve dinner with family.
And then we went to the grandparents home to open gifts from family.

Here is a clear illustration of the different philosophies my boys have regarding present opening:
That's dust all over Alan's suit. After each unwrapping he kept, in excitement, crawling under the coffee table, which apparently had not seen a vacuum for a while (Do LDS have "coffee tables"?...).

Anyway, so now here I sit, waiting for sleep to overtake excitement in the two rooms down the hall.

I hope you all are having a great Christmas... and that I get to sleep at a reasonable hour because I know I'll be up early :-).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Harvey Milk Saved My Life

Two days ago we went to the Christmas celebration at our local club. I've been to this particular party ever since I was our boys' age. Now we take our children; we go as a family, they all know us as a family, and I never think twice that people may object to a gay couple attending in such a conservative part of town.

And aren't the boys getting to be little gentlemen:
Most in my family have no issue with us either, and I too often don't take the time to say how lucky I am to have all those people in our lives. Sure, the family members who fight against my home hurt me in a unique way, but they weren't there and, really, they are the minority.
(yeah, the purple; that was my sister's idea... She's always been 100% there for us and so I'd have put us all in pink if it made her happy.)

Yesterday morning we sent the boys off to their grandparents and my husband and I wrapped presents in front of the tree and a cozy fire in the fireplace. We talked and joked and fought over the tape. Cliche, but it's true; he's my best friend; he knows me better than I know myself. We're closer to two decades together than one and we still ain't tired of each other's company :-). In fact, each year brings us closer, and to not be deeply in love with him would mean to not be myself.

In the afternoon we all went out for Mexican food at one of our favorite spots. We sat and ate together; I think it's clear what our family is to any waiter or anyone paying attention. Our kids out us everywhere we go and I'm sure our body language does too. But that's not a problem; I usually don't even think of the fact that there's some political controversy surrounding us while we're out.

Grandma collects nutcrackers and so the boys bought an unpainted nutcracker to give to her for Christmas; after dinner they selected the colors and we all got to work.
Once our masterpiece was done, we all went into the living room and sat on the couch and put on The Curse of the Were Rabbit. I fell asleep with my legs on Rob while the kids sat on my back, like I was a booster seat. It must not have been uncomfortable because I fell asleep before the movie ended. When I woke up I found my husband had the kids in bed and was just telling them goodnight. I kissed them both goodnight and sat in Alan's room until he was out, feeling very lucky.
But it's not truly luck, right? I don't have such days by chance, even though I happen to be a gay man; I have them because of a lot of hard work by people I'll never know.

One thing thing I left out between wrapping presents and Mexican food was the fact the Grandparents agreed to watch the boys for a couple more hours and we finally got to see Milk. I'll have more to say about the film than what I'll put here (probably over at isocrat after Christmas, though).

I just want to express my gratitude for now. Maybe it's the season, but I've been quite emotional with hope and gratitude since leaving that theater all puffy eyed.

Sure, I don't much identify with the 1970's gay scene in San Francisco. My last two days would probably be alien to those gay men too, if not outright boring, campy, or conservative. Also and of course, Harvey Milk and many of those other activists of his day were not perfect people, and the film made that clear. There was a good deal of sex and drugs and politics. But the only "perfect" hero is the hero to whom we've done a disservice, dehumanized.

The fact is my life would be unrecognizable today without those men and women three decades ago; I would not have had the last two days without those folks standing up for my rights, when I was still in the womb. I'd probably be single in "therapy", under the weight of superstitions and self-hate, thinking there was something wrong with me and especially with gay people who were out and proud. I may be desperate in some LDS therapist's office undergoing shock treatment like so many other men of that day I now know. If people like Briggs and Aneta Bryant were left unchecked, and no one stood up, things would likely have stayed at that awful level or gotten worse.

That world that could have been, where I couldn't see there was a solution... it seems unbearable enough to make me feel, at a gut level, it's impossible, as though the very laws of physics could never allow such a thing. I suppose there is actually an upper limit to human loss before a person collapses under it's weight, into suicide, and I've seen that happen enough times to know it's another could-have-been for me and many others.

All that could have been, and yet it isn't, and I think it's pretty clear why things changed for gay people. Simply, my life, either in full or in great part, was saved a long time ago by people I'll never know. I can't thank them enough. I can only hope this generation of GLBT is doing as good of a job of addressing today's hurdles and bigots for the next generation. I know I have a debt to them I've not nearly repaid.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Lot Under the Tree

We had our big family Christmas party yesterday. It went off without tears, wailing, or gnashing of teeth; not a garment rended that I know of.

There's just too many people there we love and who have nothing against our family to focus on the few, and we were just too busy with our kids to get serious. I think I got at least a point across when introducing our family and talking about what's new for us. One family is having a 3rd marriage and so I announced that, this year, we just celebrated our 3rd marriage too, and that we may be engaged for our 4th depending upon what happens in Ca. So no confrontations, just that slight joke and family fun. I'm sure some family can tell that something is different, broken since Prop 8. That comes across pretty clearly in body language--I swear I could feel it in a hug or two--and maybe that's enough to satisfy my concern. But hey, the majority of our extended family is great; I shouldn't complain.
Before anyone comments on those odd Ed Hardy shirts as oh so cliche for our sort of family, I must assure you we had nothing to do with it :-). Grandma is crazy about getting the boys to wear the latest clothes; I swear I know nothing about brand names. Nevertheless, what a hansom family, eh?

In all it was another great event. We ate the traditional LDS potluck meal (I love to mix my potato salad with my baked beans... mmmm). Then the kids put on a talent show. Alan sang Christmas carols, and did so repeatedly. He went up again and again; he can be the most adorable ham.
Brian would rather not stand in front of a crowd. He'd rather not sit on a lap of some stranger claiming to posses magic powers either, but Santa came to him anyway:
He's my little skeptic. I've been absolutely Santagnostic with the boys, but he thinks he's figured it out and I think he loves Christmas more than any of us.

Anyway Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas! I'm just feeling gushy with the Christmas spirit, if you can't tell.

Oh, yeah! Your present. I almost forgot. ;-)

I got you two this year again. First, the practical gift, the underwear and socks in the stocking (click to "unwrap" :-)):


Who wouldn't love a little attention, particularly medical attention, right? As far as I can tell, this seems to be a very deserving charity. An abnormally high percentage of the donation goes to programs. I hope you like it but never need it.

Finally, the toy:



Listen to all their programs online or as a free podcast, guilt free, from me to you. Radio Lab programs, well, I've not been disappointed in any of them, even if I love some more than others. I hope you all find them as thought provoking and enjoyable as I have.

Again, I want to say how much I've appreciated my online friends, acquaintances, buddies, comrades, lurkers and, sure, even the reluctant and not so reluctant foes. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I.S. Eve

Hey, tomorrow is the solstice and therefor, as we all know, it will soon be time to give holiday presents to your internet friends and foes.

This well-established holiday will be celebrated by everyone you know online and I'm sure you have your charitable gift ready for your visitors already. I know I can't wait for you to open my gift.

Since I first brought up the Inter Solstice, though, there's been a change in one of the time honored traditions. I was listening to Glen Beck the other day and heard him link the winter solstice, of all things, to the war against Christmas! Then I heard another conservative talk show host do the same. I had no idea that the very tilt of the earth conspires against the righteous.

So now I kind of feel like the Inter Solstice won't catch on, except amongst diabolical atheists and maybe some subset of baby seal fur traders. I only picked the solstice because I felt it was memorable, non-political, and it generally came before the most popular holidays, thus giving time to guilt others into giving before Christmas or whatever. I swear, I only ruin societies by accident; it's the story of my life.

The new tradition is that only the orthodox celebrants of the Inter Solstice give their visitors a charitable donation on the solstice. But that's not necessary; give for Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid... I just hope people do give their internet friends a charitable gift on or a bit before their respective holiday; spread charity, especially with the economy the way it is for so many.
You can find out more about this wonderful holiday here. Though I never found time to completely finish the site, the bare bones are there and if it catches on I'll put more work into it for next year. That's right, guilt; I can only hope there's a contagious holiday miracle to keep this going...

Also, I want to be clear: it's tradition to just give as though everybody gives a charitable donation to their blog readers and such on the holidays. Make it seem like all the cool kids are doing it, right? For goodness sake do not link back to me or this blog. Nothing would kill a fledgling holiday like linking it to gay guy's blog.

Also, let's add, though it shouldn't need to be said as it's just like Christmas or a Birth Day this way, there's no need to leave the price tag on. The idea is just to give something. If it's 5 or 500 bucks to, say, Habitat for Humanity, great, but make sure your online visitors and followers know you gave something to them. No need to make a whole post out of it or anything, a sentence or a tweet would do; just spread it. It may be small this year, but who knows, right? It could grow into something wonderful, and you, yes you, can make that happen [to be read in a platitudey voice, like everything I write].

At that, I hope you all have a spectacular Solstice, along with all the other wonderful days this time of year has to offer. I hope you all know I've appreciated the company and following your lives as well. I wish you and yours the best.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Yearly Christmas Problem

My kids, they are nearly impossible to shop for for Christmas.

They aren't like I was as a kid. I was obsessed with Transformers. Each new Autobot or Decepticon may as well have been a crack rock. I'd go through the toy magazines and mark them up with ranked desires, and leave them out for parents or Santa to stumble across. I was, in short, way into getting gifts as a kid. That seems like (and was) childhood selfishness, but looking back now it had an upside for my parents; they had it easy.

Our Alan, though, he asks for very little. Usually it's something like a specific stuffed animal, and trying to get him to list more only sets him firmer in his insistence that that one thing is all he wants.

Brian, well, he usually wants the unattainable (by mankind or by children): a real blue light saber, a purple magic wand (must also be "real"), a red cell phone, a blue camera. This year all he wants is a silver laptop, which he, as a 6-year-old, will not be getting, and a trip to Hawaii, which he, as long as we can come along, will be getting. Fortunately, Brian isn't the sort of kid to be upset by not getting a laptop, though he'd be thrilled to get one.

Between the two of their lists there's nothing to make a big eye-popping scene of under the tree for when they wake up, and so I'm improvising again.

I've got a bunch of stuff they've not asked for from white boards for their bed rooms to Wall-e action figures. I'll be going out and making more guesses tomorrow. I'm pretty sure on some of the stuff I already got, knowing our boys. For example, Alan will go crazy over the punching bag I got, and Brian, I'm sure, will carry around the thesaurus just as he does his tattered dictionary now. But I thought I knew they'd love the parakeets last year too, and now no one in our home likes those noisy, messy and vicious flying vipers. In short I guess, each Christmas I wish my kids were more greedy, or, in Brian's case, had more practicality to his material desires :-).

You know what's odd? It seems, if it's a toy or product advertised for children on the TV, my kids won't care for it. Never have they asked for anything they've seen a commercial for that I can think of, and that's the exact sort of thing that, when I get it for them anyway, it just ends up at the bottom of the toy box. It's not that we don't let them watch tv, either; we're not above using the electronic child mesmerizer every now and then. They just seem to have different tastes from what the commercials are selling.

Anyway, do any other parents out there have some good, alternative gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for child? Quirky things that your kids like that may not be on the radar?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It Took A Political Scandal...

...to make us decide to get Brian's haircut before the holidays.
Curse you Blagojevich!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Simple Lives

No heavy politics today. Nope, on my mind is Alan's ant farm. Remember? They moved in two months ago. They were all named Ben. Anyway, I've become fascinated with them.

They stayed in Alan's room for about a month, until he came to me and told me he wanted me to have them. It was clear why; he told me why; they're "lazy" little buggers. A whole month and they did nothing but stand around, feel each other with their antennae, pointlessly paw at the walls, and eat sugar.

However, as soon as they got into my office they started digging. They dug this and only this after a week of off and on work:
That was it. They'll walk through one end and out the other. Presumably, to the little ant brain, they enter into a whole new world each time and so why bother with another escape hole, right?

Then it looked like they were about to build another tunnel at the base of their garbage pile. But they put a dead colleague in the shallow grave and buried him back up, after a short but tasteful service:
Now though, check out the grave site a week later:
What are they making? Some sort of fungus? Biological weapon?

Anyway, I'm just enjoying my kid's ant farm more than an adult should. Thanks goodness having children gives people a passable excuse to have ant farms, play with Legos, and watch stuff like Wall-E, right?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ira Furor Brevis Est?

Soon, next weekend, we'll have our huge family Christmas party.

They will all be there, from the sister who made a point during the Proposition 8 fight of saying that she cannot support my family (though, she enjoys nothing but love for us), to my Bishop brother who stays away from the topic, to our various gay family members. Most were right behind us, despite their church's instructions, but some were not and others, I'm sure, would rather the whole issue just go away before they have to stand up and say what they believe one way or the other.

As I said, in October, something has broke in my family with Prop 8. That wasn't temporal. It has. I can feel it, see it clearer each time we're together. I see it in a sister's fumbling around simple pleasantries, in my parents' curtness with some of them, and I see it in me, as I described in that post.

But the thing is I don't have really strong feelings about these relatives. I've never been able to hold anger well, even when I wanted to... or maybe even when I should. For all their strange talk of free agency, about magical actions somehow neither caused or not caused, the reasons some of my family did what they did here seem fairly clear; the causality in humans is often quite simple, too simple. Once I take time to think about the whys, I've no place left to set anger. It's just a lesson learned about how that person's mind works.

My wonder is, though, should I feel anger, to change how their mind works next time? Or, as the subjective emotion is not really a choice, should we gay relatives show some form of anger when we're together with extended family who acted to harm our homes? A cold shoulder? A verbal confrontation? Do we have to be abrasive now to get the point across, make it uncomfortable, so that later they'll factor us and our children into their decisions more strongly? I think Edgy brought this to my mind with a comment a while back and it's been on my mind.

I know. People want to say anger doesn't help anything; "people" often including me. People want to say they'll never negotiate with such tactics and I'm the sort to recoil from the use of it anyway.

But I'm wondering; is there a use for it here? I mean, my family knows me. I'm probably the calmest guy they know. They know I get my kicks out of bland stuff like collecting data and look at the world in much the same way I look at my lab: I feel wonder and awe, and I'll also feel frustrated or sadness when things go bad, but anger at anything just comes off as silly. Point is, when it came time for family to decide what to do in the marriage debate they knew I'd not get angry. They knew I'd still be pleasant at our next encounter. Hurting us offered far less of a threat than the threat of "disobedience to God" the other side was selling them. If they were to bet, why not bet on their leaders instead of me? I offered very little downside.

I'm not sure it's in me to act hostile without feeling it. To be honest, I probably am unable and this post is a bit pointless because 1. I'm a horrible actor and 2. it strikes me as dishonest to act angry without actual anger. But I'm still wondering... Is anger what's needed to make their calculations come out right next time? Does a show of anger have a useful place when someone hurts your family? I'm not really sure. Does anyone have in-family experience they could share here? Does it just end in tears and frustration, as I reflexively expect, or do people actually act more inclusively when they can't count on us being a good sports?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Welcome

I just thought this was cute.

A refugee family is part of our holidays this year. They're from Africa and Brian wanted to write their son a card, as they are about the same age, to welcome him.
I printed out one of the journal pages so he could add a picture too; that's a butterfly and a bee hive dripping with homey on the tree.

I love seeing them take this kind of interest on their own. I only had to tell him to probably not wish a Muslim kid merry Christmas. I also love that he thinks the important things to know about Utah is that it gets cold in November and pizza should be given a chance.

And yes, I'm the one who told him how to spell sincerely wrong :-); he'll be a much better speller once he stop's asking me how to spell.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Growing Up

They're doing it quickly.

Our boys just got their first belt promotion in taekwondo.


Check out these deadly moves:Note: Those black belts are just for inspiration during their promotion. They can't beat us up, not yet.

On top of that they just started skiing (I know late for a Utahn, but we've had enough going on):It won't be long before they don't need help unbinding themselves from all those winter clothes to us a bathroom, and they'll be off with friends without a care for hanging around their pop or dad on the slopes. Six years have gone by in a blink and in another they'll be all about cell phones and friends and High School Musical XII or something.

I'll enjoy it while it lasts, though.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

As Many Times As It Takes

Hey, I'm engaged again!... for the fourth time (if I'm counting right :-))... to the same guy.

Sure, as a Utahn it may be expected of me to have 4 to zip marriage to divorce record, but we may be one of the first here to do it without polygamy. (I wonder, is there a world record we could apply for?)

I know, I know. Our last marriage, in California, might still be legal come Summer, and the court could rule taking rights from a certain minority group is a violation of and revision of their constitution's equal rights guarantees and thus Proposition 8 should not have been up to popular vote according to law. I hope that's the case, but it may not be and I just don't feel like I can be comfortable without having this ability to protect my home somewhere in the US, or know where I can move our family to have it quickly, or be ready for when the federal government repeals DOMA.

Having that for my family last summer, I cannot get used to not having it now; stepping back hurts more after the step forward. I'm still periodically having dreams about protecting them and I hope getting back to the legal standing we had before Prop 8 will help with that.

Though, thank goodness, my family-defence dreams are now just getting silly; I can wake from them with a laugh rather than heart-pounding stress. I had one the other night where I was defending them from a terminator robot (a subconscious comment on Schwarzenegger's veto of CA marriage rights :-)?), and last night I dreamed we were robbed, and it had something to do with zombies. Clearly it's still weighing on my mind, but at least it's more action/adventure than tragedy. I mean, I can wake up and laugh at protecting my home from zombies, but I'll still be stressed from a dream about fighting people saying how horrible it would be for our children to even talk about their family at school. The two opponents may have some similarities ;-), but one opponent doesn't disappear at waking up.

Anyway, we'll be headed to pioneer territory, to Providence Town Ma late in the summer. We'll be sharing a condo on the beach with a couple other gay and lesbian parents and their kids and it should be a lot of fun, even if we won't need to be re-re-re-wedded... *sigh*... But if we do need to, we'll have one more legal document protecting at least a fraction of our rights to equal treatment, in a fraction of our country, and holding us to a fraction of our responsibilities. It's something. One more marriage license added to our bitter-sweet collection is better than nothing.

Anyway, as they always say, fourth time's the charm, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Laundry

Sometimes I lose track of our children when we're tying to get ready for school in the morning...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Holiday Agnog

I've been trying to think what I could say to this post by Ben since it was put up and failed in comment form; so I just winged it and the comment got too big to be a comment (and now, for a post ,I even made it longer... and more about the general topic of agnosticism). It ultimately drifts away from Ben's post is what I'm saying :-).

[In short Ben said he's missing the religion behind the season, as a fairly recent agnostic.]

Maybe it's been too long since I became a non-believer to remember well how it used to be. It seems Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays (second to Easter--I'm a sucker for the whole Spring renewal thing... and hiding eggs). I just look at them now as something like a play that a whole culture puts on each season (which is probably why we've no problem incorporating a bit of Hanukkah :-)).

We have our big four here: Easter, 4th of July (or the 24th ;-)), Halloween, and Christmas. To me they all embody different important human qualities, and hopes, purposes; all appropriately tie themselves to the rhythm of seasons. There are some almost instinctual notions in there, and it seems to me one can get the gist of the holidays as an agnostic; maybe it just takes time to reframe them. I mean, there's still great value in the play, even if it's just a bunch of actors reading lines. Sure, it can seem silly to think of the actors and fiction while watching it, but I feel we can find worth in the broader ideas without buying into the "facts", as we do with, say, Hamlet.

[Ben also mentioned studies that show religions have a health benefit]

As for such studies, I've wondered about them too. People with a lot of people in their lives do live longer; church's give a sense of community; they offer answers to big pressing questions; they can be a safety net... There are a lot of benefits to belonging to a religion and I'd not be surprised if some extend life a bit.

I know I could join a faith that even supports my family, if I wanted those benefits. By the studies I've seen, it doesn't matter which faith you join. I'm sure I could, after enough repetition and investment, come to feel this or that church is true; I've been there before. I'm sure I could also raise our children to believe in most any faith of my choosing; a parent's faith is, after all, the predominant cause of a person's faith.

My problem would be the cost (and I don't mean tithing :-)). It seems believing without objective evidence will always have a human cost, as each human, without objective evidence, can easily come to conflicting truths. Such faith eventually comes to conflict, sometimes violently, and can often blind people to new evidence (I know this may sound offensive but I'd wager, say, any LDS talking with an ardent and faithful Scientologist would find the same problem). I know people get a lot of joy from religions and many absolutely KNOW their faith is the Truth, but people get that joy and certainty even from faiths that require them to hurt others for it. I know it is often innocuous, but when it goes bad and faiths clash with no hope of surrendering to objective experiment, it really goes bad. The cost in violating that agnostic core principle seems simply too high, even if there is truly a health benefit, even if what I'm asked to take on faith seems innocuous at first.

In general, I think many people may look at agnosticism or skepticism as laziness or confusion or cynicism, but there is actually quite a demanding and, for me, inspiring principle there. The bad news is we are far from perfect truth detectors and that is something agnostics must live with: every human sees patterns where there are none; our senses and feelings leave us eternally susceptible to error; we reflexively use superstitions as coping mechanisms; we'll even rewrite memories to match our expectations. All that is well documented... if you trust the documentation ;-).

We say great truths have great value, though, so much value that to feel you know truth is to admit your disinterest in knowing truth. Every sentence we write would start with an "it seems" if we were up to wasting the effort. But, on the up side, there is honesty and humility for us in doubt. There is a resolve in the universe that you don't imagine has you in mind. There is nobility and respect in being torn apart by a tragedy, not pretending to know why it hit or if someone is, say, in a better place. There is meaning in a life that means what it says, and purpose to be found in the purpose you openly choose, and morality to be found in actions done for morality's sake, no reward and no punishment in mind.

In a way, there may even be a religious quality to my agnosticism. There is temptation and demons and hedonism for the agnostic, especially for agnostics in some cultures. Strong faith can feel really good; it can make you one of the group (or even keep you in your family). There is also the sacred for the agnostic in epistemological discipline and restraint. I'm also sure every agnostic is a sinner to their own principles; I'm guilty; no human gets through life without some sort of magical thinking (hey, it's agnostic original sin). Or maybe I'm just too used to framing things in religious terms... :-)

There, I'm done proselytizing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

I think one of the greatest aspects of being in a gay-headed family is one of the things people often deride: our inevitable lack of direct genetic relation. Like many other infertile couples, until science advances, at least one parent will always be genetically unrelated to their child (well, unrelated is misleading as humans share so many genes it's hard to quibble about a tiny percentage of single nucleotide polymorphisms, but some people do and you get the point).

I think nothing more shows the meaning of family, though, than the ability of some to get beyond those Darwinian urges and just love.

Which brings me to the fact that our boys are ethnically Jewish, and neither Rob or I are. We've debated back and forth how far into Jewish culture we should get, if at all. There's the idea that, because they are our children and genetics don't matter to either of us, we should just keep passing on our LDS-Christian-rural Salt Lake culture, green jello and all. There's also the idea that, because their genes carry some cultural baggage in the eyes of the greater public, we should change our culture to show how the child has changed our family, to show some sort of integration and pride to those who'd pick on yet another minority. Heck, when I was in High School, being Jewish was still a bit of a problem in Utah and such bias still hangs around, I'm sure.

So far, though, I've leaned towards just sticking with what we know.

I suppose these decisions are differently made when your child is visually put in a different racial category. Outsiders may continually remind them they are different from their parents and so it makes more sense for parents to take on a new cultural dynamic. While it's clear we're not all genetically related, we look to be in many of the other artificial categories; people tell us our boys almost look like clones of Rob and I. But the twins know how they came to be and they know they are, in significant part, ethnically Jewish, just as their dad is predominantly French and their pop is predominantly German/English. And they aren't shy telling people about such info. We've left no traumatic surprises about our family's history for them to have in the future and that's worked great so far; such facts are just facts to them now, like their eye color.

Recently their school began teaching about Hanukkah, though, along with Christmas and they were bringing home related work. The other day Brian sang us a song about the menorah and we asked if he thought we should light a menorah. At a yes, we researched the meaning behind it and consulted a Jewish friend, to make sure it wasn't any more offensive to Judaism for us to do so as it would be to Christianity for us agnostics to put an angel on our tree.

In the end, this year, we'll be incorporating one more culture into our holidays.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a menorah, or, well... you probably would, considering where we live. It wasn't easy, but we found one. This was the best we could find:
I'd like to have had something a bit more simple, but the kids like it.

Anyway, I now hope you all have a Happy Hanukkah!

(We're Chris Buttar's nightmare, aren't we?)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Art at BYU and the Worth of Words

With the recent backpedaling of the LDS church on the issue of "certain rights" for our families, my view of the organization has changed. I once viewed the organization as just a bunch people in a tough position under yet another strong meme's weight, trying to do what's right. History is full of such folks and I've a hard time blaming them.

It seems some wrong, though, in one way or another, is being consciously excused now. It seems they did a political calculation and decided they had to throw us a bone in some states so as to not appear against equal rights even when they were, for PR reasons. That leaked internal LDS memo already revealed as much, I guess, and I should have known. It's just difficult to actually see people act that way, particularly when you know first hand how well people of various and diverging groups could get along in a straight forward manner.

I guess the annoyance is that the harmful political actions are more than enough. The refusal to take responsibility for how they so directly hurt families and then to claim the organization is fine with some rights for our homes in CA and then refuse to live up to those words where it's not politically necessary to do so, here in Utah, is added to injury. It's an attempt to use the appearance of good, pro-equal rights, in order to do legal harm and I'm sure many Californian LDS voted for Proposition 8 under the impression they, as their church told them, were not hurting anything but, possibly, some percentage of the gay community's feelings; I've read several of such account.

Now, though, I'm beginning to look at their talk of love and inclusion the same way as their talk of rights and respect.

I just read this blog post by Michael. It's about his art project at BYU:
"These portraits are of BYU students who identify themselves as homosexual and a person that supports them. This support person could be a family member, friend or may also identify themselves as homosexual and both people may provide support to each other. I have not included labels with these portraits as I feel that labels only create separation and division and further ungrounded stereotypes. We never know who may identify themselves as homosexual and I felt that not labeling these images would force us as a society to question what it is to be homosexual."
The message behind such an exhibit seems to be quite a smart and potent message of love and inclusion, two things the LDS press releases and pamphlets have been ostensibly offering gay members. These were not images advocating gay sex or anything near that; to me, they just seemed to say gay people exist and they are part of our community.

The message behind its censorship by those in charge, though, is another potent message.

The LDS organization has gotten good PR out of their moves away from their harsher past, even in the gay community, but when the actions don't match the rhetoric, it seems to show the nice rhetoric to be a simple tool of PR; "love" along with "certain rights" are used to deny equal rights and to continue promoting the idea that merely being gay is something you don't want in your group. It's a tragedy when words like love, respect, and civility are used this way.

I should say, I'm sure this is changing. I'm sure some Bishops are great nowadays and many other members are too; I know and very much respect such folks. It is just becoming more and more difficult to hear the official press releases without increasing skepticism, without wondering if even the person composing them believes what they say in the carefully selected words regarding homosexuality.

Personally, I'd bet those in charge who decided to censor this work did so because they are afraid of the consequences of BYU's new inclusion of gay individuals; they want it in sentiment but practice is another issue. I suspect what I said might soon be coming last year after their change in the Honor Code with respect to gays is right on time--I should have put money on it :-)--the fact that such an exhibit made it up at all may be evidence of that. They probably can see they are being pulled by a power bigger than any one person or organization or community, and I'm pretty sure it'll bring them where they, for now, don't want to end up, at unqualified love and equal rights.

So, actually, maybe such a bit of resistance is, while I'm sure it hurts, a good sign? It is a sign that they see what we see; it's not just me. Open gay people, even if they follow all the LDS rules and support the LDS organization completely, are a threat to the old guard and old way; they are a step along the way and, again, as I posted in April of 2007, the line has been moved and is moving; there are new good cops and new bad cops now. But putting them back in the closet would be putting the genii back in the bottle.

It will just be interesting to see how this and future conflicts play out.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Everything Will Be Alright

Last night we had a Holiday party at our home.

This was a celebration for a council on minority issues and so, from the outside looking in, it'd appear that the defining quality of the crowd was the fact that the only people who belonged in the same category were spouses. There were people coming from every continent (save Antarctica, our Antarctican was, um, sick) and nearly every religion or lack thereof. And man, the food! This is one of my favorite holiday parties because where else can you get, on the same plate, authentic and skillfully made tandoori chicken, funeral potatoes, enchiladas, that Thai noodle dish, and those middle eastern pastries with that uniquely spiced meat inside (no I can't remember all those names)?

I'm still stuffed.

But the best thing is the fact that, from the inside, we all belong to the same group. We are all good friends. I can connect with my conservative Muslim friend from India better than with many people in my own LDS or gay culture. I love their company, their humor, and, especially, their passion and compassion. These are some of the best people I know, the sort who make you want to be better and do more for others yourself.

Some days, it feels like the world is composing its suicide note, and the earth might become one more silent speck in the infinite sea of silent specks. It seems religion or politics are just hoping for their Armageddon. Mumbai is, of course, the latest troubling incident, and along with the growing instability in nuclear Pakistan... It can be overwhelming to think of the what ifs.

But I can't help but be anything but optimistic after a night like last night. This wildly diverse crowd mingled around this socially controversial couple's kitchen table and there was only holiday joy, regardless of if we were celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, or secular Christmas, or just another Thursday. The adults all enjoyed each other, laughed and shared anecdotes, some with a glass of wine and others with the virgin Mormon punch, as the kids watched WALL-E. We talked politics and religion and no one got hurt, no one wanted the law to hurt the other person's family. The only negative note being our unanimous agreement that Senator Buttars is a jerk, but I'm sure we'd still let him have a plate of our food, if he dared.

Anyway, when we do find a way to leave Utah, I'll miss the diversity ;-). I will miss our friends.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Puppy Love

Fellow blogger Beck is going through a bit of an emotional crush.

This bit brought back a bunch of semi-fond memories:
"Because I went chasing off after Thomas when he got married and blowing all my savings (if that doesn't tell you that I was gay and giddy and madly in love with him, with passion dictating my actions - I don't know what will - for who else (read non-gay /non-passionate) would have done such a thing?)"
Before I was out to myself (a bit earlier than Beck here, when I was 15), I went through a couple bouts of puppy love and, looking back, it's so weird that I couldn't put 2 and 2 together either. I was similarly oblivious to my orientation and simultaneously head-over-heals, behaving like, well, like what I was: a teenager with a crush.

The boys I'd get infatuated with were almost always outside my group of close friends, as though I subconsciously wanted to keep distance between friendship and infatuation so as to not get hurt. There was that boy a grade ahead of me that I had a very surprising dream about kissing, even when I'd never thought of kissing a girl. There was that cloistered but terribly nice LDS boy whose mom wouldn't let him associate with me, a kid with heathen parents, until I got baptized. Maybe her instincts were right ;-).

There were a couple more, but the one that sticks in my mind is David. We met in Scouts. Yes, I admit it, Scouts. It's okay to be in Scouts if you don't know you're gay, right?

I was so immediately taken with him. As I remember it, he was kind of the bad boy type, from divorced parents and not much for listening to leaders. I excused my infatuation as an attempt to befriend the loner, but I know now it was a crush. I spent the most strenuous weekend of my young life laying sod with him at a widows house, and to my shame, just to be near him, instead of for the charity. I remember thinking again and again about him in his tank-top shirt, and yet I could still keep my illusion of heterosexuality going :-). Thinking back, it's kind of nice to not have known I was gay, or even really know that a person could be gay without wanting to be. I'd be cheated out of stuff like school dances and high school dating for the most part. I still wince thinking of the trials of being in the closet at that age. But I can still look back and remember puppy love fondly.

And there are some fond memories there; I tried to have David with me all the time. Though we went to different schools I remember even taking him to my school's end of the school year festivities. I even tried to integrate him into my group of buddies, but they obviously didn't see him the way I did :-).

Then I started to realize what I'd been doing, what I was. I put an end to all such crushes as I came out to myself, seeing puppy love as what I was taught it must be for gay people, the devil's doing, a sign of my corruption.

Then, a couple months after I'd stopped seeing David a girlfriend of mine told my mom that she heard David was gay. Was that a sign that she or my mom knew more than I thought they knew? Either way, this really accelerated me on my downward spiral. I was trying to deal with being the ONLY gay person in Utah, I still couldn't say "gay" even in private, and now I find out that the kid I had such a potent crush on was a similar pervert. There were two of us in Utah! And we knew each other! What are the odds!?

My anxiety and depression accelerated, not sure what I should do with myself but torn about what might have been with David. I was thrilled in absolute misery.

But I made it through, out, and, eventually, on to a really good man, my man, the best husband a man could ask for.

The kicker is that I came to find, about five years later, that David was not gay after all. He just dressed nicely; that confused my once girlfriend. Sadly, I found this out when a mutual friend told me David had died. He was, in fact, quite a womanizer, and had even died trying to impress a girl. Still, though I didn't know him anymore and what I imagined was between us never was, I felt for him and was quite upset to learn of his death, way too early in a life.

I guess a lesson to learn was that my crush and all my anguish over him was not about him after all. He saw nothing between us or in me but a strangely affectionate friend, who, like a huge jerk, suddenly wanted to end the friendship as though he was dropping a bad habit. That anguish was just the short pain of taking my leg from the bear trap this culture sets for gay teens. But it's not much in the shadow of the parents who lost their child.

It's too bad we, David and I, can't get together and laugh about this. Here's to hoping the dramas of today seem so small and conquerable with the perspective of added years.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Frivolity

I'm in the mood for it.

Yesterday I came across shreds (thanks to x96), where you take footage of a band and dub in terrible music over their rock star seriousness.

Even the muscles on the back hurt from laughing at them, and I want to share:



Am I officially crazy, to crack up at "Fat-man-Philanthropy"? Please tell me it's not just my odd sense of humor.

Anyway, here's the original:



Not as funny... Still though, grown men in costumes licking blinking guitars... Fit your pants! That's something.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Happy Holidays, Senator Buttars

It seems Senator Buttars, our head anti-gay legislator here in Utah, has, once again, found the liberal plot to destroy the US at work.
"[Buttars' new bill] would encourage the use of 'Merry Christmas,'" Buttars said of the non-binding statement that is still being drafted. "I'm sick of the Christmas wars -- we're a Christian nation and ought to use the word."
That's right, my dear honorable Senator, the liberals are out to destroy your this christian nation, and your favorite holiday, your precious "Christmas". You better fight hard on this one. The gays are behind this conspiracy too, yeah. But you already knew that.

Mwah-ha-ha-ha.

Truly you are a clever opponent, and we here in the secular-humanist cult are trembling at the thought that you may tell us to stop saying "Happy Holidays" with a nonbinding and unconstitutional resolution. That's like our biggest weapon in the culture wars. Some may think you to be comically repugnant to get upset at a "Happy Holidays", but I hear ya. Only a jerk would wish you a happy holidays, right? It's not meant to cover the multiple holidays like Christmas and New Years. It's not said to avoid seeming stupid by wishing our Jewish friends a good time celebrating Jesus' B-day. It's a vocabularic salvo in a war. That's right, it's a lot like a W-A-R, the kind with blood and death and stuff; you're not being hysterical. And we would have gotten away with it too!

Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

We're so upset, now that you're on to us, we're gnashing our teeth and all that. At the next Anti-Christians League of Doom meeting, in our dank cavern buried deep beneath Utah's only Hooters, you can bet you'll be on the agenda. You've struck the fear of God into the black pebbles of coal we call hearts... for now. But you will not win.

Mwah-ha-ha.... ha.

Fact is, as you should know by now, our whole gay rights thing was just a means to distract you from the Christmas Wars (Copyright Bill O'Reilly, all rights reserved). We are disheartened to hear you'll now be spending resources where it really counts. Sure, we wish you'd start blindly flailing at our families again, instead. I mean, how will I make it through the winter with you busy on this pressing legislative issue and not attacking my family in one way or another? How will I even know when the legislature is in session if I'm not afraid for my loved ones? That's why we're here, for your abuse, to distract you. Please, think of the children, Senator; there's so much more you could do to harm children!

You can't stop all of our plans this year, though, and we're planning something big.

Mwah-ha-ha. ha.... Mwah-ha.......

Just you wait and see how we defile your precious holiday. We plan to do all this pagan stuff, like decorate trees and hang lights and stockings. And we'll do it right around the mystical winter solstice, as though we're worshiping some dying pagan god, coming back to life with the sun's return! We'll also worship fat bearded men at malls, and we'll tell our kids he's the true judge of their character and that he has magic powers, just like a demon-fueled wizard in Pharaoh's court. We'll spend and spend on materialistic crap no one needs, especially at stores that wish us "Happy Holidays", the bastards! Just you wait and see how we'll ruin Christmas this year! You won't even be able to recognize it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

By Heart

(I’m half-way through this post and I’m returning to the top here to warn, this will be a long rambling hashing-it-out post.)

When we lost the first battle for legal equality in California and the LDS church was involved, it didn’t bother me for very long or with much potency. I figured it was just a bump on the road to inevitable justice. Sure, we lived in Ca, but both Rob and I had jobs and our own health insurance. Most importantly, we weren’t parents. I see now that was key.

Everything is difference now. Having children changes everything, and I’m still ashamed to say I was not nearly as involved in the gay rights movement before we brought our boys into their nursery for the first time. I was up for a fight but complacent and, ironically, it was having to take care of a stay-at-home parent, and our children that made me into the radical gay activist I am today.

Now though, these losses and fights get to the heart of me, of what I’ve become as a parent and a husband. They harm my primary purpose, not just another aspect of myself, like being gay. They make me feel powerless in a whole new way, and they make humanity seem so much less civil, less hopeful under our veneers; like respect for equal rights is just a polite illusion, love is just a PR device, and any person can be defined away from justice by vote, and it could all just crack and crumble given a shake of this house of cards. Ugg, too dramatic? But what you gonna do? That’s emotions for ya… With the loss of Prop 8, I can actually feel the chemistry in my body changed. As I said a couple days after the vote, I’ve been feeling defensive, isolationist, and more worried about what might happen to my family even outside gay politics. I’m sure my stress hormones have been up.

A month later, I’m feeling them ebb, thankfully; I feel good today, if not a bit tired. I was waking up every morning around 5 from a dream argument, facing that frustrating wall all true-believers have, and all those lies that were used against us in the Prop 8 fight. Some of the dreams have been about people taking our boys to live with “ideal families”, or attacking our boys and me being unable to stop them. I’ve had such dreams before, but not one right after another, not like this. I’ve been starting each morning feeling unable to protect my family from this tide of anti-gay memes that is so widely spread by the predominant culture here in Utah, and spread under a denial of the harm done to us, or even being “anti-gay” at all. I’m sure that’s a good sign that some people couldn’t do this to their neighbors otherwise, but such feel-good denial increases the frustration and makes the problem seem that much more intractable. But it is ebbing and I finally went a couple days without such dreams.

So here’s my problem. All this is calming down and I’m feeling almost back to normal, but something is lingering this time; my heart hurts. It literally hurts. Each time I woke from one of these dreams I woke with my heart pounding, and now it feels like a sore muscle in my chest even when I’ve calmed down and realized I’m no longer in need to fight for my home. I remember the research on the chemicals that cause such a reaction, and I am under the impression they are deleterious to the vasculature in the long run (right?). I’ve worried that Utah may be bad for my health before--yes, I'm repeating myself--but is this hard evidence? Something I can’t ignore?

If so, we can’t stay here. I want to be the man who can suffer losses for his family without physical effect, but maybe I’m not that man. I want to be the man who can fight back and defend those who are where I was two decades ago here in Utah, without getting hurt. I remember being that man, before I had kids. I could tell the other guy to f*beep*ck off in his ignorance and remain calm in the assurances that right will beat their might, some day. Only the death threats used to bother me. But, with kids, that doesn’t work anymore; some day isn’t soon enough for my family. Maybe that unmovable man, as a father, doesn’t exist; maybe, if he did he’d be a poor, detached father and husband anyway. I don’t know.

So how much time of my life does it cost to live in Utah with the stress of all this, with watching our legislature do what they do to us each session, and having such a strong anti-equality force running our local culture and politics and repeatedly defaming our home? How does a person measure this? Will it cost me a year? Two years? Could I be at greater risk of dying before I see our grandchildren? Before I see our boys graduate? I’d spend a year or so from my 80’s for what we gain for living in Utah, near so much family, but not time from my 50’s, not while they still need me; not when we could move to a place where I can protect my home like any other man. If we move, I can get my spouse on my health insurance, I can live in a home zoned for us, he could inherit our possessions without so many strings, and I can be sure, if something terrible does happen, my family will be treated as family; none of this legal limbo crap. That sounds great. I can move us to a place where we’d be much less likely to be treated like a second-class family, both in law and culture. But I’m still stuck here by the fact that, heck, we’re doing good here, in our circle, if not politics or the broader culture. Most all friends, family, teachers, and our children’s classmates are great. Our boys don’t see a problem; they’re just two happy little Utahns… People who know us treat us good and so why leave?

But if this fight is going to rage here in Utah and if it does cost life (but does it?), then we can’t stay here. Funny, maybe if I could become less defensive of my family I could protect them better, or longer. Can I change my concerns here? Should I try to ignore them? I don’t know. Will I be able to better understand of the consequences of two trails ahead of us in another month? Two months? Shouldn’t I wait to see what this new administration accomplishes? After all, our Ca marriage woudn't be legally respected in UT anyway, until DOMA is gone.

There I go again, though. Putting it off. I’m beginning to think all I need to know about these complicated decisions is the simple sliver-like sensation in the left side of my chest. Right now, at that thought, if I had a job lined up in a friendlier jurisdiction, I think I’d be telling my family to pack our bags ASAP. That’s it; I’d wave the white flag, and retreat to a civilization that counts my family as a valuable piece as well. My work here and the bad economy probably means we have to stay and fight for a good while… but I’m going to significantly step up looking for out of state options, and I’m writing this down to make sure I’ll do that. Hold me to it.