Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Socializing With Evangelicals

Last night I spent the evening socializing with a bunch of evangelicals, along with members of the GLBT community; about 8 people on each team.

I would not normally want to do such a thing, seeing how we've interacted in the past. Fact is I am so tired of this. This point in Utah's legislative session is where I typically start to wear down and this session has been difficult, from the loss of all Common Ground Bills on the heals of Prop 8, to Buttar's declaration that gays have no morals, followed by the agreement of his Legislative buddies (they just didn't like the way he said it...). But I went because, frankly, I'm a desperate man; I'll drag myself along and will take on most forms of discomfort and exposure to just be heard on the other side, just in case that helps the three huge responsibilities I left at home last night.

I'm glad I did it though.

The conversation was moderated, and cushioned between periods of socializing. It went well and the only time I got stirred up was in listening to one of my friends talk about the hurt our families have gone through this last year in Utah and in regards to the LDS. There wasn't any hostility from either side, though. No one was trying to be cruel, even with that veneer of love, and no animosity was engendered that I could detect, and that is a tribute to their and the moderator's approach. It seems some leaders in Utah can't advocate even love and "mutual respect" without being insulting and inflammatory :-).

In short, these were not the evangelicals who protest at Pride or LDS conference. They were folks who love and are adherent to their faith. They were people who believe Paul when he seemingly wrote to the Romans that homosexuality is a sin. However, they were sincerely looking for common ground; it wasn't the sort of bait and switch I've come to expect. They actually heard our fears for our homes, and agreed on issues of equal rights and law... or at least seemed to, my cynical side wants to add, but I'm trying to give these folk the benefit of the doubt.

We talked about the legal issues our homes face here; we talked about the trouble the adoption law, for example, causes some of our children. We talked about how dehumanizing it feels when it seems like the average evangelical looks at us and all they see is something relatively unimportant to us, sex, not a parent, not a spouse, not a citizen. The christian gays and lesbians talked about the challenges they feel in finding a community of faith for their families.

But we were there to hear their fears too.

They wanted to know from the christian gays and lesbians if love, inclusion but not a blessing of their unions was enough for them to fit into their congregation; they agreed it was. They were even wondering "why don't we sit in the same pews?", which is much more religious inclusion than we're used to, seeing as the church of our youth would likely excommunicate every gay couple there. Nevertheless, we don't want their faith to change in their churches; we want the government we share in the secular world to be blind to our anatomy, and to treat us how they'd want to be treated.

Also, as they said, they've been in the majority in the US for a long time and they fear their numbers are dwindling, and that's scares them. No one there said this was their personal fear but they said it was an evangelical fear that, if they give us equal rights, it eventually will lead to gays treating them the way they now treat us. They are afraid of payback, that the same tools the LDS and some evangelicals are using on us now will some day be turned on them, if they give us any ground. I think the gay community should be more sensitive to that fear. Even if we don't see that as a likely event and it's not in our hearts, we need to get it across that, if that day ever came, we'd still be on the side of religious freedom and equality, on the evangelical's side on that day. We also need to get across that, to aleviate any chance of that fear comming true, they should not be putting tension on the pendulum of politics. They should fight to bring the mass to the middle, fight for equality and protections for us both under law, else, when they're forced to let go, they might convert their potential to kinetic energy against them down the line.

Anyway, while we may never agree about a letter from Paul two-thousand years ago, it seems we can still render unto Caesar what's Caesar's and have each other's back in the political arena. In the end, cliche as it is, bridges were built; there weren't two teams. I hate that gulf of misunderstanding between my family and the majority of LDS Utahns out there; it's one I'm nearly certain we could bridge with 90% of them if we just spent a similar evening together... but there are only so many evenings and I'm looking for my family to spend them elsewhere. Nevertheless, you have to celebrate the small steps, right?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Refrigerator Door

Something different.

Naturally, when you find a drawing like this, you wonder what your kid is picking up from other kids at school:

At first look it seemed to capture the exact sentiment I'd like to put across to a certain local senator, and the legislative leaders here who say they don't disagree with him...

However, when asked what the hippie there is doing with his hands, Brian said that dot on what appears to be the middle finger is actually the "o" in the "okay" sign. Upon further questioning, it seems that's intended to be the meditation fingers. You know: the sort you see folks hold under bodhi trees. It seem Brian thought those in deep meditation were just sitting there signing "okay", which, I guess, isn't too far off.

Aside from his new artistic direction, he's just began taking a strong interest in math, to my excitement. I've been introducing him to the basics of algebra, and he is absolutely eating it up, making me write down an equation for each letter of the alphabet each night this week. I swear, I don't push this on him; I am, though, happy to oblige :-). He did this one yesterday:
I only had to give him some help on only about a third of them.

Of course I certainly wouldn't leave Alan out of this refrigerator door blog post. Our boys are just so different; it's very easy for Rob and I to find unique ways to connect with each of them, but Alan's interests leave less of a paper trail.

He may not like math like his pop did and does, but he likes many other things. We make a lot of Lego structures and vehicles together, when we aren't in a pitched lightsaber/martial arts battle. He's more rough and tumble and, to that end, he does do something on paper I remember doing a lot as a kid:
We play this game, the result of which is above, where you start out drawing your character and then take turn dreaming up ways to beat the other in "war". I know, I may not get the parental peace prize, but Alan was the McCain supporter last year in our family, and just because "armies are pretty cool". In that one he started off as the moth-man and I was the tank that eventually surrendered, after my moth-man-eating plant, and sonar-locating-of-invisible-moth-men bats died. Alan seems to win every time :-).

Anyway, I guess I was just sick of anything serious today and finding the "peace man" was just what my day needed :-).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dear John,

Can you believe I’ve never broken up with anyone before? I must be one of the only guys I know who’s never had his heart broken by another, never thought up a way to cut a lover loose, never been cut loose.

I’m just saying I hope you know this is hard on me, honey. In general, I do not give up on established relationships. I’m not sure why; it may be because I tend to and prefer to see myself as being defined by my roles in my relationships. To lose a relationship is to lose a part of myself. To lose a significant relationship, say, with my husband or kids may as well mean to remove a vital organ, and I don’t want to know and I don’t even care about the new man that could come from such losses in life.

Of course, my dearest Utah, you know a relationship between a person and his state is not that serious; we’ve never even kissed. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that I reflexively see a big part of myself as your good friend from birth, as a Utahn by heart. From my polygamist pioneering ancestors to the accent in my English, you are a part of me, and I don’t want you to ever doubt that I love you. I do. It’s evidenced right there in the blog title, in our many dates together in your beautiful deserts and mountains. Heck, I said my first words cradled in your suburbs, I learned to ride a bike on your streets, I had my first date and fell in love in your capitol city, and, so far, I’ve raised my children here… Good times, many great memories that I will cherish forever. I hope you will too.

It’s no secret we’ve had our differences, though, and I’ve been happy in the past to just try to manage them, but we both know things have changed, dear. Primarily, my children came into the picture, and that changed things for my husband and me in ways I couldn’t predict. So I’d say "it’s not you, it’s me", but, lets be honest;Utah, it’s us both. Your love has become even more moody and sharp, and you’ve really let your religious and legal attractiveness go downhill. For just one example, I knew you had issues with me too, but I didn’t think your culture, or the faith of my youth would attack our children’s character.

Now I find my husband has, in his mind, already severed ties with you. Any married man knows how hard it is to keep a friendship when your spouse can’t stand the person, and I wish I had the motivation to make a case for you, but I don't and you don’t make it easy. Frankly, you’ve betrayed our trust; you take our money and play me like a chump. Sure, you love me when you want to buy yourself some bling: slick digital road signs, or guns for your armories, or health insurance for your legislators. But then you dig in your heals on most any small form of fair treatment for me, for those relationships sacred to us. If I want equal access to wrongful death rights, or housing, or health insurance for my spouse (not even the sweet deal I help buy for you), then you’ve suddenly got vague plans with someone else.

Yes, I've been naive, and kind of thought we had a deal; you’d come around when you understood how you been treat’n me. However, for the sake of legally and socially protecting the relationships more vital than the relationship I have with you, I’ve had to make some tough decisions about our future together.

I best just say it: Utah, honey, I’m breaking up with you.

Now now, let’s not cry.

Oh… yeah, okay… you’re not a bit upset or even listening to me? I’m being a whiny b*beep*ch, and you never loved me? Sure, whatever. I guess I knew it was a one way relationship, the bulk of you being glad to see my family cut ties and try to leave, if the bulk could even notice us. That’s how you want to be, then fine.

What kills me, though, is that I know you. You’ll break another boy’s heart. Right now, to you, that heart is a time bomb ticking in some Salt Lake Bishop’s son, or in some 3rd grade girl in, say, Nephi or some other dainty small town appendage of yours. They will love you too, and then, come puberty, they’ll realize you've been leading them on; who they are is exactly who you don’t want to associate with. And I’ll be gone, off to love another state, like a quitter, along with all the other people and families I’ve seen leave over the past decade for kinder jurisdictions.

Good riddance you may say; and yeah, I’ll not let the door hit us on my way out. I hope if anything, though, you recognize one of my larger fears for you, for a state I still love even as we part ways. I fear you’ll step up your work in creating the sort of gay people you claim to fear most, after you drive out those I suspect you truly do fear, deep down: those who got by your roadblocks and don’t conform to your stereotypes, those who have a good marriage and children and homemakers to protect, from you. No one in charge of an abusive relationship wants their partner to see a way out; they want to “love” them from above, as their "beloved" struggles. Your legislative body language has made it clear; when it comes to your gay citizens, you don’t want to have a relationship with an equal, or with someone healthy. You've even proudly tattooed it on your face, right in your constitution, that you don’t want equals in your gay citizens or their families.

I just hope you consider, Utah, that you can be uniquely sadistic in your love, particularly of “the children” and "the family", and you have a tendency to create the problems you often speak out against. Even forget us and my whining; the fact is you do hurt yourself and your character each time you make an excuse for not following the golden rule when it comes to your gay citizens. I know you think it's no big deal and blow off the ridicule of outsiders and my concern for you as worldly forces trying to bring you down or something. You'll do what you want. But I know you've thought that before, and I'll keep my hope in the fact that you have stopped and taken a good look at yourself in times past, and turned yourself around. I know you can do it again.

Anyway, take care honey, and here’s to hoping time can bring us back together some day. I do not and will not look back in anger, and you’ll always be a part of me, even if I do have to excise most of what you once owned. However, I'm taking the kids, the dog, all our possessions, including our record collection; you never liked my music anyway.

Yours truly and with some non-ironic sadness,
Your Ex-Utahn Looking for a New State to Love.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Bright Spot

I also wanted to point out Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, just not in the same post about Buttars :-). Her bill allowing partners of gay and lesbian county employees to get on their health insurance passed yesterday (see here).

We met with Jenny last week about this bill; I left very impressed with her sense of fairness, knowledge, and compassion, if not a bit worried about her plans to bring this up while the legislature was in session. This bill should even allow children of gay employees to get health insurance like any other child would, and it may cause a backlash. Anyway and regardless, I just want to say thank you! Thank you Jenny and thanks to all those on the council who voted for it, particularly Max Burdick, the only republican member who did the fair, right thing.

As of now, all the Common Ground bills have been killed. It seems common ground, at least today, is a sad illusion--I think even I forgot who we are dealing with and had too much hope than was reasonable--but there's this one new thing to hang hope on; there is a spark of the golden rule in Salt Lake County. That means a lot.

Anything Goes

Where I blog on isocrat is kind of a place for my political frustration, and I posted about this there. But I want to be sure as many gay Utahns as possible understand what we're up against. Sun Tsu and all that.

From Reed Cowan's documentary, the words of Senator Buttars:

Take a listen.

Or read the story.

...comparing us to terrorists, calling us "the greatest threat to America", insinuating we aren't monogamous, saying that making it illegal to fire or evict a person, gay or straight, for their orientation is giving gays special rights, calling us abominations, saying we have children in order to "indoctrinate" them, saying we don't have morals... "anything goes"... That familiar mess of falsehoods and inhumanity is coming from one of the most powerful law makers in this state, and he seems to feel ethically good about it. I have to wonder, if we're the "greatest threat", what would he do to our families if he had more power than the significant amount he already wields, or if there were more of him up on the hill?

What do I do when my kids are at the age to catch wind of such leaders on the news? And that's why I'm hoping to get out of here.

I mean, how can you talk to, or reason together with a person who won't even see or hear you?

Ug, I can't wait for Utah's political season to be over.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Man Behind the Header

Of course, our kids don't get to read this blog :-). When they're older, I wonder, though, if they'll ever care to go through the many posts about what's gone through my head in this period. Will it matter to know how the politics were, or why we live where we do or did, or why I got stressed with every legislative session and the sorts of things it literally brings to their front door? Though I live in a town where most folks are supposed to keep a record of some sort for their kids, it's still strange to think the adults they will become may someday read what their old man was thinking when at their same age.

I mean, I can remember the week the realization hit me that my dad is just a man and my mom is just a woman, just as human as the rest with fears, mistakes, and conflicting emotions. Don't get me wrong, they are great, good and strong people and great parents, but, when you're a kid, parents have almost magical qualities as providers, nurturers, teachers. It's no wonder it's common to keep all that behind a supernatural curtain even after you've seen behind the mortal curtain.

I'm certainly not saying it's a bad thing to come to that realization as an adult, though. My parents, they may be human, but they are some of the best humans I know and I cherish our relationship; besides, every person on a pedestal is done a disservice. I guess I'm just wondering how much I'd care to read through their thoughts. If our adult boys ever do read back through this, though, I'd want them to know what I hope they know by heart: that I love them with all I am. I'd want them to know that I desperately hope the decisions we make, especially in this next, precarious year, are made correctly. And if they aren't, I'm sorry.

Anyway, all that wondering came to mind just because there's a new picture in the header here; my mind does ramble :-). They may not understand a blog, but every now and then Brian has noticed his old drawing in the header, and he didn't like how big he made Rob.
FYI, I'm the littler guy with the big ears there. He has been trying all weekend to get me to put a new picture of us "on the internet", and thus the header change. Though I'm attached to the old one, I've changed it. I wonder, when I'm 65 and they're 36, if they'll still do my artwork; thing is that's about my current level of drawing skill right there :-).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Okay, Maybe We Did Celebrate

Last night I grilled steaks (and hot dogs) on the back patio as the kids played in the snow. Rob made a blue cheese sauce and some pommes frites to go on top of the steaks, and a great salad. We fed the boys and then jokingly told them to give daddy and papa some time to have our fancy Valentine's day dinner. At that Brian got the idea to be our waiters.

We spent the rest of the meal being waited on by the kids for a change. It was adorable, even if our water was served in little plastic kid's cups and they insisted we needed ketchup to add to the wonderful blue cheese sauce on my steak.

But (and as long as I'm calling fried potato strings pommes frites...) the coup de grace was dessert:
Chocolate covered strawberries... Mmmmm...

Isn't even Brian's "ugly face" cute :-)?

So yeah, then we put the boys to bed and, for not celebrating Saint Valentine's Day, I'd say we did just fine.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Discoveries in the Field of Romance

As I’ve written before, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, never have in our 16 years together. I’m not exactly sure why. For one, it’s hard to ignore the Halmark prescribe romance… we’d rather make our own cards and make a big deal of anniversaries; Lupricalia is just too public. Secondly, we’ve no babysitters we trust on such days, but even when childless we weren’t into it… Truth be told, it’s probably greatly because this holiday, when we were coming to terms with being gay, kind of felt like someone else’s holiday, like Chinese New Year, but for heterosexuals :-). So tonight we’ll do what we want and have a nice home-cooked meal and probably play a board game with the kids, before we put them to bed and watch the Battle Star Galactica waiting on the Tevo; he in my arms or me in his, as humans and cylons work out their cylon/human issues.

Clearly, I’m no Casanova.

As I was joking Rob about our tame plans for tonight, though, he said what I already know: romance comes in different, more subtle but potent ways in long-lived love. A squeeze while I’m unloading the dishwasher, a call home during work just to hear his voice, a little note on my computer, and so on; all that works better than a dozen roses. Sure, that getting-to-know-you phase is great fun, but it doesn’t match up to the I-know-you better-than-myself epoch :-). Not many couples get to feel that sort of stable, strong center in their family, and, while it would not make for interesting drama--cylons or no--that’s more than enough romance for us.

But this is a day for love, and, if I do say so myself, I’ve done pretty well in that department. As part of my continual attempt to spread the gay lifestyle, I’d like to share some long-term relationship discoveries. My credentials? Well I am a doctor (still waiting for my doctor of love diploma, but still), add to that the 16 years of happy monogamy, and the fact we have never fought and that’s pretty good, right? So here’s what I’ve found in trying to figure out why we get along smoothly:

Touch him. We’ve never fought but we do, of course, disagree sometimes. I know there have been times when my feelings have been hurt and I’m sure it’s gone both ways. I’d say we have a significant disagreement about every other year, but they never escalate past the day they're realized. When most people feel at odds with their spouse it seems to me their tendency is to pull back. This is a terrible instinct to follow here. If you feel hurt, get closer, touch him and see what happens. In me, just a hand on the shoulder can change perspective immediately for you both, as though it was a discharge of a shock. Funny that that works, but it really does.

Always keep a white flag ready. I think a lot of couples get in trouble for their constituent’s tenacity. If there is anyone to whom you should never honestly care about beating or saving face in front of it’s your spouse. Everyone can be wrong or a jerk sometimes, but that isn’t important if you keep from spending energy looking for ways to better justify it. So, unlike in other areas of life, when in doubt, give up; roll over; surrender easily. Just say “you’re right; I’m wrong” and be done with it. Of course this means often you’ll both end up surrendering and arguing the value of the other’s position, but what better way to find the right position? Your loss is his win is your win; like a team, the only points that count are awarded to the family on whole.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience seem to show our decision making and moral reasoning is the result of different areas of the brain duking it out, but we have the sensation of being one whole personality, only cognizant of the result of their arguments. I think a healthy relationship should feel that cohesive, like a healthy mind does when compiling the results of disparate interests of the brain.

Never Wave the White Flag. I think a lot of couples get in trouble for their lack of tenacity :-). You, the individual can and often should give up, but the family you're a part of can't. I'm of the school that you never go more than a day without addressing an issue, and I'll not go to sleep unless I know we're on the same page. Given the above techniques, I've never had to stay up past 11 :-).

Date. Each other, that is. Sure, tonight we’ll be home, but we try to get out alone at least once a month. I blogged about how important I found this, a long while ago, here. Yes, it’s all about the kids and they need a lot of attention, but the kids rely on you two being a solid team and so some alone time to pair bond and gaze at each other over desert in a fancy restaurant is more than permissible. It’s as healthy as exercise, and more fun.

Framing. I’ve seen several couples, now divorced, seem to look at each other as more like roommates with benefits, even when they have kids. It’s the “You complete me” problem. The other person is seen as someone who fits into your life, makes you whole, when it is more robust to look at the two of you as making something larger whole. As a husband you are half of something bigger than the sum of its parts, and the relationship is not meant to complete or fix you, the individual. To me, that perspective alone goes most of the way to making the rest a happy cakewalk.

Eh, or maybe we're both just easy going guys benefiting by luck... Whatever, I'm just glad for the romantic holiday evening I have ahead of me :-).

Friday, February 13, 2009

200 Years of Survival

I wanted to mark Darwin's 200th, but got too busy yesterday. As a present to the old man, I'll put up an old example of artificial evolution that I wrote... oh my... 10 years ago?

It only seems to work on internet explorer, and I'll fix that later, but if you want to play around as a predator, or watch the fruits of pixel sex, switch to IE and take it for a test stroll:

Evolution Toy

If what is going on there is unclear, the instruction manual is here. I like putting the critters on asexual reproduction and automatic hunting and just watch the "genes" change as I radically alter their background... but enjoyment may vary.

I was listening to Dr. Neil Shubin on a podcast yesterday about his book Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, and it really is an amazing thing, the theory developed by Darwin. Looking back it seems so obvious, as clear as arithmetic, but we're looking back with a good body of transitional fossils and knowledge of genes, and clear mechanisms of passing on this information that will be weeded through by nature, something Darwin did not have. The scope and predictive power of this theory has been remarkable since it's formalization, and it's hard to think of a theory with a similar record of success. Maybe, say, the standard model of subatomic particles' predicting the finding of Z bosons, or the theory of relativity's prediction of the shift in the apparent position of Mercury when viewed near the sun compare.

Lincoln and Darwin happened to have been born on the same day, and I also listened to a podcast yesterday about Lincoln's personal and political transitions on slavery and the rights of citizens with African ancestry (lab work allows for many podcasts :-)). In a way, both men made great discoveries about the human condition. Even if Lincoln wasn't the first to come to his theory (well, arguably, neither was Darwin), he did put in into action, and freed many men and women.

In a smaller and very different way, each big scientific discovery is a sort of emancipation. To avoid misunderstanding :-), I'm not saying freeing slaves is morally equivalent to discovering, say, a new subatomic particle. However, nothing more consistently holds a people from what's right and what they want than ignorance. False ideas about the way the world works, superstitions and such, can be every bit as oppressive as what people impose on each other. Misinterpreting, say, a volcano's natural rhythms as divine emotions can even get people killed. But each transistor shrunk, protein virtually folded, planet found, engine design improved, and fossil unearthed unhitches us a bit from a massive web of human ignorance and allows that much more freedom in ability through understanding. Not that I want to be a complete cheerleader for science, though... Sure, we have abilities and predictive powers today that would look like magic a couple thousand years ago, but there's still the matter of putting that freedom to good use.

Anyway, happy belated Birthday Darwin, and Abraham.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Metal Brigham

Last night we attended the rally up at the capitol regarding the adoption bill. It's being held in committee where its opponents hope it will die. We want it to be debated and voted on, even though it doesn't stand much of a chance.
The problem is most up there will look at this bill and see it as giving rights to gay people, the equivalent of tattooing the bill on the back of a drunk Wiccan leper in a legislature of so many Ultra-conservative LDS lawmakers. In actuality this bill is more about helping people who are neither gay or lesbian.

So many of our Utah children, even when raised by two loving and wonderful parents, can only have one legal parent in this state because of the current adoption law, leaving them with far fewer rights than other children when it comes to items such as getting on their breadwinner's health insurance or keeping both their parents legally responsible for, say, child support. Some of our friends have children where a fraction are legally attached to both parents and their younger siblings, born or adopted under this law, only have one legal parent. You can imagine the legal mess they're in. Instead Utah tax payers pick up some of the slack when something bad happens in these families... and that's the difference between conservatism and wacky social conservatism :-): they'd rather the state pay than a child have two legal parents, both with personal responsibilities to be held to.

Utah is in fact one of the top 5 in the US in the percentage of same-sex headed households also raising children, and gay people can still adopt here as single people and they do. These laws do nothing measurable to stop gay parenting. So many children are in need of homes and they just cannot stop families from forming, even when they legally hobble them. But, yeah, most lawmakers will only see in this bill "gay=bad", and come next year these kids will still only have one legal parent. I'm just grateful we are both our boys' parents by heart, mind, and law, even though our legal route hasn't yet been tested in Utah (and I hope we're not here the day it is tested).

Anyway, the twins were just goofing off but I thought this picture was kind of funny:

Like Brian, we're up there, with our dukes up, trying to fight the deaf, 12 foot tall, metal Brigham Young, Utah's beloved founder and symbol of tradition. I bet he shoots lasers from his eyes too.

There would not be enough room in Brigham's corner of the capitol to also fit the metal forms of his 50-something wives (or is that "civil partners"?), but we're the controversial ones :-).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I knew I voted for this guy for a good reason:

Guv, at odds with most Utahns, backs civil unions for gays

Thank you Governor Huntsman! This more than makes up for the time your dad hit me when I was just an undergrad (there's a story behind that but I think I like it better with fewer details :-)).

The Sutherland representative's response was telling:
"He had to be dragged to the altar of Amendment 3," Reynolds said in an e-mail, "and everyone has known since then that Governor Huntsman would rather be nice than right."
Everyone, huh? At least this Reynolds knows he's being mean. It's just a matter of getting him to see what should be obvious, to see the morality in the Golden Rule. The fact that he finds nice and right to be at odds should be bothering him.

Boy, I have a hard time understanding this mindset, but it clearly works. As I write in amazement too often here, this same thinking--hurting people is helping them, it's self preservation, it's long-term loving and for their own good--has done much worse. It has put gays on burning piles of wood. Again, it's what you find in books like the
Malleus Maleficarum, and it can justify far worse than firing someone for being gay in many human minds. Maybe I just don't want to get it.

Anyway, it is much better to be "
dragged to the altar of Amendment 3" than have your family offered up on it, and I would have appreciated the Governor not going there in the first place. Nevertheless, this is a big and much appreciated step for a highly popular Utah govenor to make. I have to think it will be a significant help in bringing justice a bit closer to the Beehive State, if not on the Hill, then in the minds of the public.

Thank you again
Governor Huntsman.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Between Thee and the Woman

Every morning after we get the kids off to school, I listen to Radio From Hell's "Boners of the Day" while in the tub, and attempt to finish the Tribune's sudoku before that segment ends. It scratches that itch for ritual I've kept from my youth :-).

Today they had a story of "Satan" being apprehended in a bathroom. As Monday is the simplest sudoku day, my mind wandered off on this story to think about what some folk--not just terribly troubled people, such as the guy in the story--actually do believe about some invisible world of demons and the devil surrounding them.

What if Satan was in the realm of horses rather than unicorns, and, above that, apprehended in a men's bathroom, for "staring and pointing at himself in the mirror"?

Would that mean some of my siblings would expect us to wake up the next day free of temptation, thinking that it'd be best if we dissolved our union, split up our boy's home? We'd look for a couple of girls, who we would suddenly find attractive, or at least we'd stop seeing coupling up with them as wrong in all sorts of ways? Would brains, hair sworls, and such of the average homosexual all morph back to the God-desired heterosexual male template? Boy, I hope we'd have a smooth custody battle and at least remain in the same ward :-).

I mean, I hear a lot of people talk about devils and their influence on the world and gay people in particular. It's weird, and, frankly, creepy, insulting, and dehumanizing to suspect that some of my family, when they think of me and our home, may think like, well, like Jack Chick (see here for one of the funniest examples of serious homophobia I know of). I kind of feel like, just for kicks, I should learn to roll my eye back into my head and talk backwards in Latin; really freak them out.

I've often heard people say the greatest success of the devil is making his influence so imperceptible that people do not believe in him. I probably bought that at one time too. I find this framing clever, sure--to them the absence of evidence is the best evidence of all. But it sucks to be the one powerless to address the unaddressable evidence on the other end of it.

All this reminds me... On my shelf I keep a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, along with a whole bunch of other religiously themed book. As Wikipedia summarizes:
The main purpose of the Malleus was systematically to refute arguments claiming that witchcraft does not exist, refute those who expressed skepticism about its reality, to prove that witches were more often women than men, and to educate magistrates on the procedures that could find them out and convict them.
This book, at one time, was second only to the Bible in its spread through Christianity, and it should be required reading for anyone who, for religious reasons, has decided to hunt the "witches" of any age. Not for instruction, but for perspective.

A lot has changed since then, but it's amazing how much has not: the righteous focus on sex, satanic trickery, claiming the person being harmed is the victimizer. Posing people as influenced by or tools of demons seems to be an efficacious and time-tested way to hide the humanity in the targets. No one wants to hurt us gays and our families, right? But they have to stop us from souring their cow's milk and truing their families into a bunch of newts, right?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

How is Babby Formed?

Ah, the value of learning from Yahoo! Answers. Take this question and answer for example:

This came to mind as Alan and I just got into a half hour long conversation about were babies come from, on our way up the canyon.

It's surprising how easy it was. That's the sort of thing they teach you to fear as a parent, but by the end of it I'd answered all his questions comfortably and honestly. We even got into pretty involved topics of genetics, identical vs fraternal twins, and the influence of genes on both a person's body and mind.

Okay, so there were some lies of omission, but it worked and led to a good discussion and some wonderful realizations about cells and genes on his part. Someday they'll ask how people physically bring the two "cells, containing half your plans" together to build another cell that uses those plans to divide and make more cells until you have a baby... I'll deal with that then :-). I'm just glad to get this far without leaving him with what I had gleamed from cartoons at his age and beyond: the vague idea that it has something to do with cabbage and big awkward birds.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Sutherland's Ground

Last night I was supposed to go to that Sutherland Institute event. I was personally invited ;-) but others hoped to "infiltrate".

However, I've been up two nights in a row with sick fevery kids, and I came home from work yesterday to find everyone but me had finally shared the germs. As any parent knows, it's much easier to be sick than the only healthy person in your home :-).

So I skipped the event and took care of dinner for my three sick men. Fortunately many others from the gay community went, and even though the Sutherlands tried to keep gay people out, some got in and were able to hear what they were selling our fellow Utahns.

This morning, the fevers were gone and just a cold remained for the kids, and so I got them ready for school, after a brief debate about germ theory and immunology. No, Alan you'll not get a worse version of the cold you gave to Brian if you use Brian's bath tub... I only won by invoking my Dr. title and an argument from authority; thank goodness he's still young enough to fall for it :-).

I read the paper before taking the boys to school, and found the Tribune article on the Sutherland gathering, though. It turns out they're main hope is that lawmakers will fall for a bunch logical fallacies, much more blatant than the one I used to get my kid in the tub.
600 Utahns gathered inside to answer what they saw as a "challenge to family and freedom."
Appeal to fear, begging the question... It's just simple double speak: we have to limit their freedoms and harm their families to answer a challenge to family and freedom? But people buy it easily. Very often here, limiting a person's and their entire family's rights just on sexual anatomy is called standing up for freedom. I have to wonder what these groups will do when faced with the business end of their own tactics; how will they react if given the sort of freedom they now want gay citizens to have?
The Common Ground Initiative, declared former Rep. LaVar Christensen, the author of Utah's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Amendment 3, "is actually very uncommon."
Well, that's just demonstrably false. According to public opinion polls and even the church to which most of them belong, there is common ground. It's there in words and PR at least, and only seems to disappear when anyone tries to stand on it.
"It would be groundbreaking and lead to what we just witnessed in California," he told the crowd,
Slippery Slope fallacy, one countered just today even by one of the anti-marriage equality architects of our Amendment 3. But that won't matter, not up on the hill. Rights for gay people mean pride marchers will be sauntering through the Celestial Room, and jacuzziing in the baptismal tubs in a matter of months.

Groundbreaking, though? I'd love to take a look at Christensen's dictionary, right? :-) Yeah, truly new and shocking to all sensibilities if my husband could sue a drunk driver who killed me, as most people could and as has been possible for gay couples for a long time in many other jurisdictions.
"Some claim that standing up for the enduring, even sacred, definitions of marriage and family is showing hate for those who disagree," she said. "They are wrong. Defending marriage and family is an act of love for our children and our children's children."
Where to start in this mess of non sequiturs? Who doesn't want to defend marriage and family? How is making it illegal to fire or kick someone out of their home because of their sexual orientation (gay or straight) even touching their definition of marriage? This is just weird and yet I know it sells with an easy nod.

Anyway, I don't think, Sutherland Institute, you're hateful; I think you can be hysterical and cruel to your neighbors and still enjoy feeling a sort of love for them. History is ripe with so many good intentions.

I wish you'd listen to us, though. No one is mad at you for "standing up for the enduring, even sacred, definitions of marriage and family", no matter how wrong you are in this fallacy of argument from tradition (e.g. 1, 2). Stand up and believe all you want; I won't care. Just stop trying to take my tax dollars with one hand and push your rules about which anatomy goes with which into my home with the other. It's your harm to real people and real families that get's them frustrated, not your special dictionary or beliefs or what you want for yourself. The problem is your hope to, based only on their sexual anatomy, make legally invisible another family's "enduring, even sacred, definitions of marriage and family". From my view, you are a threat to the definition of marriage and family.

The difference between us, though, is that I want the government we are all forced to share and pay into to respect your family and how you want to define it. I want your family to be treated in law the way I'd want my family treated.

Again, I have to wonder, these people who disdain the idea of finding common ground and claim to be the only side holding sacred ground, how would they defend themselves if the tide turned and the weapons of thin "love" and "freedom" they work to establish now were pointed back at their families? I bet the Golden Rule, live and let live, and common ground would look a lot better to them than it does now, and I would hope to be the person to do my best then to be on their side.

Anyway, I guess I'm glad I missed it, took care of my sick guys, and stayed in our world. This morning was "Moms and Muffins" day at our boy's school. We all went, had a great time, runny noses aside. No one shows any care if two dads sit on the floor and read books and eat muffins with their kids along with a bunch of mothers. We have as many friends there in parents as our boys do in classmates. No one there sees excluding our family as somehow "upholding" anything near right or sacred. They're all reasonable enough to understand that there are exceptions, and there's no threat to the majority to treat the minority how they'd want to be treated. If only we could have muffins with all those other folks :-).

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Funny Money

I just posted on a questionnaire I got from BYU about the LDS church at isocrat, here. They gave me a dollar to fill it out. But look how odd:
The ink on the dollar bled onto the letter. I've never seen that before. Now, this is certainly not concrete proof, but I fear BYU may be printing one dollar bills deep below the Cougar Eat ;-).

If only I drank coffee, I'd use it to buy a cup.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

If Then Else

Okay, I screwed up in moving us back to Utah.

Simply, I’m realizing we shouldn’t have moved back. I’ve got some comforting excuses: We needed our family, wanted our friends around, and Gay rights weren’t as much of a topic in Utah’s legislature back then and only became so after we returned. To my shame, I never even knew who my representative was before then.

Looking back, I misjudged two things: 1. I forgot in great part what Utah was like with the strong LDS church influence, and 2. I didn’t realize how practically important the legal rights they don’t want us to have would become to us once Rob became a stay-at-home dad. I’d never had to, for example, get him on my health insurance before as he had his own. I guess I kind of also got used to not realizing we were gay while in California, and was caught off guard when I found again that living in Utah makes being gay a very important characteristic. I’m just feeling grateful now it wasn’t as bad as it could have been; at least neighbors and school friends have been great to our kids and they haven’t noticed any problem yet. However much I love our state, though, we are essentially working without a legal net here, the religious and political climate is getting more heated, and fighting it is taking too much of my attention; which I would feel was my duty to give if not for the fact that I am a father of young kids. Importantly, Utah law would simply not be there for them in an adequate or just way, should something happen to me.

It was a complicated decision to live here and it still is, but, looking back, I think it was a poorly made, naive decision.

It’s funny how hard it is for me to admit that, but it’s true and I think, especially now, I need to put that out on the table. I want to be the perfect husband and father but my decade-ago self had some unwarranted optimism for living here and he tripped up, and—he being me plus ten years—he may again, right?

So now what is often on my mind is how to be sure I don’t mess up a move again?

It's a decision we need to make in a hurry too. We’ll need to find a house, new job, and a new school before the summer is up or it will be more tempting to let the kids finish another school year here. Ug, what about the new research grants I have been applying for, with researchers here?... Then there’s the fact that our decision will decide where my parents end up retiring; I’d like to keep them out of harsh winters and snow shoveling while past their 70’s... In short, it’s a mess of considerations and I’m stressed. And I guess I’m venting here as we can’t let it show at home, around the kids.

The trouble is that we won’t know our best options until after the legality of Prop 8 is decided in Ca (late spring, if I understood). Will it be overturned? If not, will those marriages performed still be legal? We most want to move back to Ca but Ma and even Canada come into the picture if we can’t have full equal treatment and protections in Ca. Then will DOMA be repealed anytime soon, as it seems it should with the new leadership? I just don’t trust not having my family in the same boat as everyone else anymore, and I don’t want to have to pull up our roots twice.

So, a plan for the record, to be held to: If our Ca marriage is still legal come early summer (Prop 8 overturned completely or not), then I’ve got a good job prospect there to follow up on and hopefully it will all work out, and we’ll be in the golden state before second grade starts. Heck, if we keep legal marriage but prop 8 is found valid and prevents future marriages, at least I can quell some of my guilt of leaving Utah by fighting for equal rights to return to Ca. Else, well, for now I’m looking for openings in Vancouver or Ma or Ct, and will just hope none of those are the best solution come Summer; that’s just too far from what will always be my home.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Salt Water

We did that Prop 8 interview with Reed Cowan yesterday. Each time we do anything like this I try to brace myself. Questions like "What does family mean to you?" or "Tell me about how you became a parent." or "What does your relationship mean to you?" are common. With such topics that slight cramp at the back of the throat eventually seizes and I can't get a thought out that's not too heavy with emotion.

That's another benefit to being a gay man, though. I can be as masculine as I am by nature, and still get emotional without feeling I have to hold up some masculine stereotype (I don't even have to watch the Superbowl today!). Example, I let loose a tear in Batman, The Dark Knight, for goodness sake :-) (when the convict takes the remote on the ferry...). In short, I'm a crier, but don't really care much to control it in most instances. I spent too much time when coming out trying to hide how I was feeling.

However, that makes me a bad interview, and so, in those instances, I've tried to learn ways to hold it down again. I've taken to just telling people interviewing me right off the bat they can ask what they want, but stay away from emotional questions about family until the end if they want anything useful.

Now, there is a certain reason anyone with kids and who knows much about Reed would find their emotions near the surface around him. I don't want to go into that; suffice it to say it was an emotional setting from the start.

He was great. He just let us speak, and normally I'd have been okay, but my parents went before us. My mom got emotional, talking about what we go through in this state and I expected that; I could keep composure with that much. However, my dad, he rarely loses composure but he did yesterday. That finished off the flimsy interview barriers I've reconstruct during our last 4 years in this fight. When it was my turn, I'm afraid I left them with nothing usable.

The potent thing is that you don't really know how much your parents love you when you're growing up. You can't. You know they love you, but not what that means for a parent, not until you feel it yourself. And when you are a parent, your focus goes to the love for your kids, and you kind of stop thinking much about the love from you're parents. My parents were and are wonderful parents, and as an adult they are two of our best friends, people we love spending time with. I may not take enough time as an adult to realize or enjoy that love they have for me, but, recognizing what I have for my sons in them, it was more than I could hold in.

At the end they had everyone say their name and what they want. My parents said for me and my family to be treated fairly; I said (or tried to say :-)) to be able to protect my family like any one else, to have my family treated in the way our LDS neighbors want their families treated. It's that same sort of drive, pointing that particular love forward, into the next generation; I wish my composure stood a chance in front of it when also in front of a crowd, but am also kind of glad it doesn't.

Anyway... getting a little too serious?

Why stop mid-post though, right?

I also want to take some time here to give some kudos to Scott and Sarah. We stopped by their home last night on the way back from the interview. They are very good hosts, and all that was appreciated. Thank you.

But the thing that strikes me most is the fact that they've generously given a nonjudgmental place to relax and fit in for gay LDS who either just want to hang out with others like them, or those who desperately need a break, a place they don't have to hide who they are. Sometimes families of gay kids in these parts lose track of that familial love for a time, or cause distance thinking it's love, and it's a great comfort to me to know people are there to catch them. To open up your hearts and home like that is impressive, and inspiring to me. Whatever the blog equivalent of applause is, I'm doing it.