Monthly Archives: June 2009

Disgusting

Westboro Baptist Church is protesting at a soldier’s funeral today in Germantown, IL.  It’s a tiny community of 1,100 near where I went to high school.  Illinois National Guard Staff Sargeant Joshua Melton was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan June 19, leaving behind a wife and 16-month-old daughter.  If you don’t know about these people, the loonies from this “church” aren’t protesting the war.  They’re there to blame American soldiers’ deaths on our country’s acceptance of “fags.”  At least 80% of the “church’s” 90 members are related to leader Fred Phelps.  I don’t understand them at all.  Their tactic of picketing funerals is sickening, and I don’t see anyone joining their movement.  My thoughts are in Germantown today, where a family and community should be left in peace to honor and remember a fallen loved one.

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Rhetoric, shmetoric

It’s nice to have a president who can actually string two sentences together.  It’s nice when he says things like this:

While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

or

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read the full proclamation here.

But what good are those words, when his Department of Justice writes things like this:

To deny federal recognition to same-sex marriages will thus preserve scarce government resources, surely a legitimate government purpose.

or

As a result, gay and lesbian individuals who unite in matrimony are denied no federal benefits to which they were entitled prior to their marriage; they remain eligible for every benefit they enjoyed beforehand. DOMA simply provides, in effect, that as a result of their same-sex marriage they will not become eligible for the set of benefits that Congress has reserved exclusively to those who are related by the bonds of heterosexual marriage.

or

DOMA does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits. To the contrary, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in federal employment and in a wide array of federal benefits programs by law, regulation, and Executive order…. Section 3 of DOMA does not distinguish among persons of different sexual orientations, but rather it limits federal benefits to those who have entered into the traditional form of marriage.

Read the full brief here.

Please join me in expressing disappointment about this brief.

Contact the President

Online.

via Twitter @barackobama or @whitehouse

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

Contact the Department of Justice, including Attorney General Eric Holder.

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

askdoj@usdoj.gov

Department of Justice Main Switchboard – 202-514-2000

Office of the Attorney General – 202-353-1555

Contact your legislators.

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Remembering Stonewall & Moving Forward

Washington State Senator Murray Op Ed – June 11, 2009

On June 28, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community celebrates an earlier generation who, one evening, finally had enough of being marginalized, drew a firm line in the sand, and fought back.

Forty years ago, at a little bar in the West Village called Stonewall, a group of LGBTQ people spontaneously staged an uprising by resisting police arrest, discrimination, persecution and public humiliation. Their show of courage – particularly that of the drag queens, who were the bravest on that night – launched the modern-day gay rights movement.

Forty years later, as we honor the anniversary of this historic occasion with Pride Parades around the country, I look at how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go. That seems to be what forty asks us to do: look back to measure our success and look forward to make sure we accomplish our goals.

As of 2009, five out of fifty states recognize the love, partnership and marriage of same sex couples – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine. Around the world, many countries have made huge advances accepting that love is equal.

And in Washington State we have made significant strides towards equality. In 1994, under the leadership of the late Sen. Cal Andersen, the state Legislature passed hate crime protections for gay and lesbian individuals. In 2002 the Legislature passed my bill to help ensure that our schools are safe places for gay and lesbian students. In 2006, the Legislature passed my civil rights bill to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, and financial transactions. For the past three years, I’ve sponsored legislation to extend domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples, so that we are now treated the same as married couples under state law. And this year, under the leadership of Sen. Joe McDermott, the Legislature passed hate crime protections for transgender individuals.

We are standing together united as couples in love and as individuals, recognizing that our country was founded on the premise of equality and acknowledging that none of us are free until all of us are equal.

This last 40 years hasn’t been easy. We’ve made many strides, and we’ve suffered many disappointments. We have overcome and reversed discriminatory laws. And we have lost many fallen heroes along the way from Harvey Milk, to Matthew Shepard, to the too many victims from AIDS and the ones that remain unknown as they took their lives when rejected by family, friends and the only community they knew. As of 2006 studies showed that LGBTQ teens are four times as likely to take their lives then their heterosexual counterparts. Yet we are still here, as a minority and being joined by our heterosexual counterparts who understand the meaning of freedom and justice for all.

Let me be clear, this is not just a fight to legalize marriage equality for same sex couples. That is one of many battles that the LGBTQ community faces. Just as the patrons of Stonewall were not safe to express themselves openly and honestly in public, we as a community and as individuals are not always safe in our families of origin, our schools, places of worship, our workplace and our communities. We are fighting for safety. We are fighting for recognition. We are fighting for acceptance. We are fighting for equal rights under the law. And we are fighting to explain that we are all in this together, as human beings with the same needs for food, shelter, and love.

And with that I call on all citizens to join forces and unite to make sure that all people, LGBTQ people in particular, are safe and protected by law as individuals, couples, in business, schools and communities. We must stay engaged and turn our disappointments into positives. We can gently come out to the communities who don’t recognize our rights. If they know us, it will be easier for them to accept us. Be visible. Continue this fight and one day we will know longer need to have this conversation as we will be recognized as equals.

Every person around the state needs to be willing to work for equality. That is how they won Stonewall, and that is how we will win here.

Please join with me in the month of June to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall and continue in our fight for equality. The full calendar of events to raise awareness and funds for the equality movement can be found at http://www.celebratestonewall.org

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Just a little nugget today

Yes, the worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy. But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril.

-Paul Krugman, New York Times op-ed

Read the full article here.

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Rethinking late-term abortion

In my earlier post about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, I said “I’m not much of a supporter of late-term abortions.”  When I wrote that, I was in the category of ignorant people disgusted by the idea of a woman who took six months to decide if she wanted a baby.  Additionally, we’re having this enormous argument over a tiny percentage of the total abortions performed.  In 2003, only 1.4% of abortions in the U.S. were performed at or after 21 weeks.

Since Tiller’s murder, story after story have come out about types of situations where women choose late-term abortions.  (There are various definitions of “late” so I’m going with after 21 weeks.  No fetus is viable before 21 weeks, and nearly all are viable after 27 weeks.) They are stories of horrible birth defects that aren’t detected early.

I just had a baby, so I know how some of these screening processes work.  An amniocentesis is done after the 16th-18th week.  They provide a diagnosis for certain DNA abnormalities, but since they present risks for the fetus, they are not recommended for every pregnancy.  The quad screen is also done around the 16th-18th week and assesses risk for certain abnormalities, but does not actually diagnose.  If the quad screen shows a high risk for something, it will be followed up by an ultrasound.  The ultrasound can be done between the 17th-22nd week, but my doctor said to wait til the 20th-22nd weeks to ensure the best view for the ultrasound.

So at this point, a woman may not know of a serious abnormality until the 22nd week of pregnancy.  After receiving this terrible news, it must take a woman a bit of time to decide how she wants to proceed.  If she chooses to terminate the pregnancy, there’s only three places in the whole country–now only two–that will perform the procedure for her.  Even more time will pass as she has to make an appointment and travel arrangements.  Time is passing, but now it cannot be blamed on indecisiveness.

Furthermore, I’m concerned about people, including our President, dismissing the mental health of the mother as a legitimate reason for a late-term abortion.  Then-Senator Obama stated:

Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term.

Carrying a fetus with genetic abnormalities is not physically harmful for the mother, unless the fetus dies and the body doesn’t spontaneously abort it.  But can you imagine the distress it would cause a woman–her entire family, really–to give birth to a baby with one of these disorders?

First let me say, I am not classifying Down Syndrome as a justification for late-term abortion.  The average lifespan of someone with Down Syndrome is 49 years, and only a small number suffer from severe to profound mental disabilities.  While working in therapeutic horseback riding, I met a woman in her early-20s who had Down Syndrome.  She lived in a group home, bagged groceries at a local supermarket, got to ride horses once a week along with other Park District activities, and generally seemed very happy with her life.

What do I think should justify a late-term abortion?

Trisomy 18 (aka Edwards Syndrome): Heart defects, kidney malformation, intestines protrouding outside the body, cleft palate, small head, small jaw, difficulty breathing, difficulty eating, extra fingers and toes.  50% of babies born with Trisomy 18 die in the first 2 months, 5-10% will reach their first birthday, 1% live to be 10.  The median life span is 5-15 days.

Anencephaly (warning: link contains graphic images): Fetus is missing all or part of the brain, top of the scull and scalp are usually missing.  Of the babies that survive birth, 60% die within 24 hours and 95% die within a week.

These are the two I am most familiar with, but there are probably others.

Now I understand when people who knew Tiller talk about how much he cared about women.  Now I’m concerned that there’s only two places left in the country where women can end such ill-fated pregnancies.

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How terrible

I never would have thought that I could actually hope that someone was enormously ignorant–til now.

She denies knowing spouse raped stepdaughters

1.  I hope she didn’t know he was raping her children, because what kind of mother would allow her daughters to be abused for four years?

2.  I hope she didn’t know he served eight years in prison and is a registered sex offender for “lewd acts on a child,” because what kind of mother would even risk exposing her children to that degree of harm?

If she was aware of these facts, she’s almost as much of a monster as her husband.  If she is as ignorant as I hope she is, I still don’t find her totally blameless.  You have to know what is happening in your own home with your own children.  And–sad as it is to say–in this day and age you have to know who you are letting near your family.

UPDATE:  I’ve done some further reading on the case, and it seems that the mother knew of her husband’s past.  This article claims that she had to wait to marry him since not having contact with children was part of his parole agreement.

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Be a little more Christian, pt 2

Abortion_Shooting_Tiller.sff.standalone.prod_affiliate.81

Galatians 6:7 — “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap.”

You’ve heard it before, and probably in reference to Dr. Tiller– “You reap what you sow.”

The problem with this line of thinking is that they’re forgetting that God is the judge.  Who are we to decide who has done wrong and how they deserve to pay for their deeds?  If God wants George Tiller to burn in Hell, he’ll make that happen.  It wasn’t anyone’s job to speed up God’s decision.

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. –Matthew 7:1-5

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Is someone trying to “out” Anderson Cooper?

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Our new baby, Emily

You might have already seen our Picasa album but I thought I’d throw up some pictures in blog form so I can add in some narration.

Baby Emily 2

This is us still in the delivery room (the OR actually)…can’t really see Emily in the pic.

Baby Emily 4

This is one of our first pictures of Emily.  She’s a few hours old and hasn’t gotten cleaned up too well yet.

Baby Emily 1

Emily was born at 30 weeks plus 4 days gestation. She was 17 inches long and weighed 3 lbs 11 oz.  She had to be in an incubator, initially set around 93 degrees.  The leads on her chest were for monitoring her heart and respiratory rates.  The blue cuff on her foot measured the oxygen saturation in her blood.  The white thing just above her diaper was a “bridge” to protect her UVC (Umbilical Arterial and Venous Catheter) line.  She got fluids with protiens and lipids through the UVC.  She’s been on vitamins and had some pre-emptive antibiotics the first two days, but other than that I don’t know that she was ever on any other medications.  Before the delivery we were told she had a 50% chance of needing a ventilator to help her breathe, but luckily that wasn’t the case.

You can’t see it in this picture, but Emily went onto phototherapy around the 3rd or 4th day and stayed on a couple days to fight her jaundice.  She had to wear little foam goggles to protect her eyes from the lights.  We didn’t get to hold her much those days because they wanted her to have maximum exposure to the lights.  The other thing you can’t see too well is her gavage tube, which went through the nose into her stomach.  They used the tube to feed her breastmilk, because breastfeeding and bottlefeeding take too much energy for babies that small.  After about three weeks, they gradually switched her over to eating everything by bottle.

Baby Emily 6

Here I am holding Emily skin-to-skin, also known as Kangaroo Care.  It helped her stay warm outside of her incubator.  It was easiest for me to hold her in this position.  Laying down in my arms, she tended to get her neck scrunched up and would block her airway.  Now that she’s over six pounds, it’s a lot easier for me to hold her in various positions.

Baby Emily, Nellie and Jerri 8

This is one of my favorite pictures from the hospital.  It’s probably the first day Emily got to be in a bassinette rather than the incubator.

EmilyPlottingToTakeOverTheWorld 5

Another one of my hospital favorites.  Beautiful eyes and tiny fingers.  One of her nurses said she’s a very serious baby.

Baby Emily, Nellie, Jerri and Steve 9

Here’s dad practicing bottlefeeding.

EmilyPlottingToTakeOverTheWorld 12

Emily’s first time in her crib.  Isn’t the sheet adorable?  She impressed everyone by leaving the NICU after only 28 days, still almost six weeks ahead of her original due date.

EmilyPlottingToTakeOverTheWorld 14

Emily’s first feeding at home.

EmilyAtHome 8

Passed out…  Gettin’ some luvins from mom.

EmilyOutAndAbout 4EmilyOutAndAbout 3

Two pictures from our first stroller outing–just a trip around the neighborhood.

Photo 47

June 2, 2009–six weeks old.  Still not supposed to be born for another 24 days.

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LGBTQ youth suicides & violence

You might have heard that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning youth are four times more likely to commit or attempt suicide than their straight peers.  They face disapproval at home and bullying at school.  Though some churches are gay affirming, many others demand that gays be celibate and/or attend conversion therapy.  Their self-esteem plummets as everyone around them bombards them with messages that their feelings are wrong, unnatural, and immoral.

And the problem doesn’t stop with these kids hurting themselves, they’re also being hurt by their peers at school.  And I don’t just mean emotionally.  The 2007 National School Climate Survey found that 44% of LGBT students reported being physically harrassed and 22% reported being physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation in the past year.

Adults should be helping protect these vulnerable children, but in the case of Sacramento radio hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States, they did just the opposite.  During their May 28 show on KRXQ 98.5FM, the two spent half an hour talking about what attention-seeking “freaks” and “idiots” transgendered children are.  They encouraged parents to verbally degrade children who experiment with gender expression.  States said if his son ever wanted to wear high heels that he’d beat him with a shoe, “Because you know what? Boys don’t wear high heel shoes. And in my house, they definitely don’t wear high heels.”  They suggested that shock therapy could “cure” transgendered kids.  Huffington Post has a good article about the show. During their June 3 broadcast, they insisted their comments were a joke.  Rashad Robinson,media programs director for GLAAD, said they were not satisfied with the response.  He said these types of remarks dehumanize LGBT people and “it sends a dangerous message that this kind of defamation against our community is OK.”  Barbara O’Connor of California State University, Sacramento’s Institute for the Study of Politics and Media sees it differently and says the effect is limited.  She said, “It reinforces existing attitudes of the listenership. … It doesn’t incite them, just affirms them.”  O’Connor is probaby right that a show like this wouldn’t change a tolerant parent into an intolerant one.  But listeners who hold these views shouldn’t be affirmed, and I think that was part of Robinson’s point.

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