Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why I Can't Vote Republican

There are a multitude of reasons why I feel the Republican Party has been hijacked by radicals on the extreme right, but for argument’s sake, I’ll narrow it down to a few bullet points to explain to my friends why it is not an attack on their beliefs, just not in the best interest of my own beliefs. Hopefully, though quite honestly I doubt it, I can do so without offending someone.

First of all, I’m gay. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but the Republican Party is very interested in that fact. Specifically, they are interested in the fact that I have been in a long-term monogamous relationship that in every way resembles a traditional marriage except that it is with another man, and that is apparently a threat to their own marriages. The party platform has specific language that it will repeal and defeat any laws allowing same-sex couples to be recognized in any way, shape or form, while at the same time they “embrace the principal that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.” I’m sorry, but I cannot support a candidate who says that five to ten percent of the population of his country do not deserve to be treated as full citizens based on how God made them.

Second, I don’t mind paying taxes. I know what these taxes are going towards. I know the people they are helping. I understand the reasons behind them. Could the government be more fiscally responsible? Absolutely. Perhaps that is why the government is actually smaller now than it was during President Bush’s terms. However, that also leaves more people out of work because the private sector simply is not hiring. One and a half million more. To say this is due to government restrictions is bullshit. When Clinton was President, government regulations were greater and taxes were higher than today and the private sector economy was booming. Paying more taxes that are spent on building up the infrastructure of the country creates jobs, which benefit society. More people paying taxes means more revenue, which in turn means actually paying for everything we’re spending money on, like, say, the two wars we started a decade ago under the previous Republican administration. Giving tax breaks to the wealthy only benefits the wealthy. Personally, I think that if the Republicans truly feel the way they do, I should be given a tax break because of the simple fact that I am not allowed the same rights as my heterosexual friends, but then I would be called un-American for not wanting to pay my share instead of just my fair share. Or I could be like the Republican candidate for President and keep most of my money in accounts overseas to avoid paying taxes because that is apparently not un-American, just smart business practice.

Third, I don’t make more than two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, the amount at which voting Republican makes sense if you are interested keeping a majority of your tax dollars from going into government funded programs like the military, education, and healthcare. Hell, I don’t even make one-tenth of that! But even if I did, I grew up knowing how much better public assistance made my life because my family had access to food stamps and unemployment when times were tough. I went to public schools and was allowed to hear what was going on by way of state-funded hearing aids. These so-called entitlement programs kept us from becoming homeless and hungry, and me from failing in school, and were paid into when times were not so tough by that nasty T-word again, taxes.

I can’t vote Republican because I firmly believe that society should strive for equality, not promote legislation that, in essence, creates more government intrusion into our personal lives. I can’t vote Republican because our taxes should benefit everyone, not just the majority or those in power. In conclusion, I can’t vote Republican because I am a gay man who wants to marry his partner of sixteen years legally (not just ceremonially), have a family, and chase the American Dream. None of that would be possible if I ignorantly vote against my best interests.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


While doing the dishes yesterday, as mindless a thing as it really is, I was struck by Inspiration. It has been a good eight years since this last happened.

When I was in high school, I had an idea for a young adult novel. By the time I finished the book (or as finished as a seventeen year old would write a novel), I realized that the storyline wasn’t complete and it really should be a trilogy. And so with that, I started writing book two immediately and, well, haven’t written much since because that middle chapter in a series has the most pressure to be better than its predecessor. Alas, it is now seventeen years later since I’ve plotted out any words for this book… until yesterday.

First of all, I’m horrible with doing things like “Outlines” and “Character Dossiers” even though I attempted to do both of these things with part two. I actually have more written for book three than I had total pages for book one when I originally wrote it, although after fleshing it out and deleting unnecessary or unneeded scenes (a painful process to say the least) back in 2004, I managed to double the size of the first book. Book two, on the other hand, I only had three chapters written, along with random thoughts and ideas thrown out on two different computers for possible plot points which, of course, would only come in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping.

Second, I love the process of writing that involves nothing more than an inanimate object for  inspiration. My Creative Writing teacher in high school gave us an assignment whereupon he brought a pile of dirt and told us to write about it. I immediately started writing what would become a key chapter in the first young adult novel in this series I’m trying to finish. Of course, the teacher asked for a poem or short story, and me being me, chose to write a chapter in a book. Poetry isn’t one of my strong suits, but I must admit, I find them easier to write the older I get. Anyway, the teacher wanted more, so each weekly assignment we were given was the next chapter in the book and by the end of the year it was done. Well, mostly done.

After submitting it for publication the following year, I received some excellent feedback, but ultimately a rejection. The editor asked one very simple question that has stuck with me ever since: “Why should we care about these characters?” It was blunt and honest and true. In my head, these characters were very real, but in black and white they were one dimensional and lacking personality. After that, life got in the way. Being out in the real world made for a very different perspective. Experiencing life that, while sheltered in high school I never could fully appreciate, helped me realize what I needed to do. I knew I had to reread the first book and figure out what I could do to make it work. It was a promise I made to my grandmother on her deathbed, and a promise I intend to keep, no matter how long it takes.

And so, while holding a knife and cleaning bits of stuck-on garlic carefully so as to not slice my fingers off because, yes, it is that sharp, a scene that would fit perfectly into book two popped into my head which helped me plot out the rest of the book. Sometimes Inspiration takes her time, but when it hits, magic happens. I can’t wait to continue with this next chapter in my life.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Decorating for Halloween

Halloween is one of those short decoration seasons that often gets overlooked. However, with rather competitive neighbors from the looks of their yard, it appears we need to kick it up a notch.

Now, inside the house we seem to be, well, okay. My rare fake preference is leaves because they almost always look and keep better than the real thing, unlike their cousin the fake flower (aka silk) which tend to always look, uh, fake. I’m sure if I would’ve gathered some leaves outside before the rains set in (since we just came off a record summer with no rain) those would’ve kept nicely, but alas, the thought never pervaded my mind. I especially love the packages of loose leaves because they can be used to scatter across a table or here and there for a casual wind-tossed look either in place of a centerpiece or in conjunction with one. However, my favorite thing to do with them is attach masking tape to the underside and place them on the walls in a way that they look like they are falling. It’s a quick and easy way to add color and interest without committing to, say, wallpaper.

 I also like to decorate for the rest of autumn at the same time as I put out the Halloween décor, or at least get a head start. Garland made from fake leaves makes a great valance above the windows and large mirrors, especially if you live in a rental and only have vinyl blinds. Dried corn with the husks pulled back work well for a simple table centerpiece, piled on a platter, or in a galvanized bucket. Intermixing all of this with black taper candles, lighted Halloween shops, and various themed paraphernalia gives the Halloween stuff a boost of decoration, and means I’ve got a head start when I finish decorating for fall on November first.

 Of course, no Halloween decorating would be complete without a little humor. I recently spotted on Pinterest a rather funny little jar filled with glitter and labeled “Edward Cullen’s Ashes”. I felt this would be appropriate to display on one of our bookcases in the living room with the Twilight books behind it and the far superior Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles novels on the other side. If I had a spice rack, that would also be a good place to put it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

When Did We Vote on Heterosexual Marriage?

If laws are in place for a reason, and understandably they are, I’d like to pose a simple question: When did we as a society vote in favor of a union between one man and one woman as the only form of recognized relationship? Well, quite simply put, the answer is 1862… kind of.

In 1862, congress enacted, and President Abraham Lincoln signed into law, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act in direct response to the polygamous Mormons. So really, there wasn’t an actual citizen vote on defining marriage. Upon further research I couldn’t find one instance in the history of our nation where we as a society put so-called traditional marriage up for a vote by the people on whether it is a right or a privilege. So I must ask, should it be?

There are many things we take for granted, mostly because the basic rights we have in this country were put in place because they do not directly interfere with the lives of others. So why do some groups feel threatened by views that differ from their own and feel the need to restrict certain inalienable rights? The answers vary anywhere from strict religious interpretation to stereotypical bigotry, neither of which has any place in a government with a policy of separating religion and law, as well as stating in our Declaration of Independence, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” True, there is plenty of room for interpretation here, but it seems that denying individuals the chance to live their lives freely with whom they wish to live is in direct contrast to that famous phrase, especially if those people wish to enter into a contract recognized by law for the same equal protection already granted others within that society.

Personally, I feel that laws prohibiting marriage to some groups while encouraging it to others are unconstitutional. Voting on something as personal as marriage should never be allowed. But in a society where marriage is both a religious and civil ceremony, one can understand fanatics clinging to claim dominion over its definition. However, the laws already in place protect religious organizations from having to recognize or perform ceremonies that interfere with their belief system. Alas, those claiming biblical authority ignore the fact that polygamy, rape and conjugating with slaves are also sanctioned forms of marriage within the Bible. Of course, they’d have you believe otherwise.

My husband and I are fortunate to belong to a church that supports marriage equality. Our pastor is even preaching a sermon today on the subject and has been an outspoken ally for equal rights. While I will be busy teaching Sunday School with the kiddos, I will most definitely be checking this sermon out when he posts it on the church’s website at I hope you will do the same.