Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Category: Civil Rights (page 1 of 2)

Commuting with Julie — Media and Tragedy

By now most of you have probably seen the newscasts about the Police Shooting in Milwaukee over the weekend.  It’s disheartening.  A young man lost his life, while another young man has to live with the knowledge that, while he did what he must, he took another life.  Add in a volatile community, already reeling from multiple shootings across the country, an irresponsible media, and an oppressing class who bark things like “Why don’t we do something about black on black crime” and you have a recipe for disaster.

Let me get one thing straight, right up front, depsite Fox News and their “expert”, this is not President Obama’s fault.  How could it be?  He has not committed one act that denounced the police.  He has not created an environment of distrust between the Police Departments and the Black Community.  This has been going on for generations, not 8 years.  We had a lull where we didn’t hear of these types of things very often, but with Facebook, the Internet, Twitter, and 24 hour news; we hear of these tragedies nearly everyday.

Sadly, racism is alive and well in this country and we only have ourselves to blame.  Distrust on both sides – black and white – needs to be mended.  Not all blacks are lazy thugs and not all whites are oppressive, ignorgant masters

I don’t have the answers.  But, I know looking to the media for the answer isn’t a solution.  They’re not in it to make it better, they’re in it to sell it.  Discord, distrust, and riots in the streets sell news and make money.

Blessings

Separation of Church and State

“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” — Thomas Jefferson

We were married!!!

Giving Cheryl her ring

Photo courtesy of “Loki” David Lott

On November 14th, just after 7PM, Cheryl and I did what thousands of couples before us have done – we were legally married.  We’ve been together for nearly 19 years and it has been an amazing ride.  We’ve gone through home ownership, trying to have children, having grandchildren and more.  Our journey isn’t ending, but this new beginning is, well, just something.

I honestly didn’t think that when I awoke on the morning of November 15th that I would feel any different.  After all, Cheryl and I had married in 2001 in a ceremony complete with gowns, unity candle and the breaking of the glass.  I have considered myself married for the last thirteen years.  How can a piece of paper make that much of a difference?

Lighting the Unity Candle on April 28, 2001 - our first wedding. (Look how young I was!)

April 28, 2001 – our first wedding.

Well, it does.  I feel closer to Cheryl, more involved, safer.  I know that my family would never be the kind that would toss her out on her ear if something would happen to me and I’m pretty sure her family wouldn’t do that to me,.  But, I’ve been kept out of her hospital room (not for long) and a nurse did tell me that I wasn’t Tommy’s grandmother, so I wouldn’t be able to be in his room.  No one will ever be able to tell me that again.

Cheryl’s daughter, Kim, has always treated me as a true step-parent.  She’s always respected our relationship and I’ve always treated her like a daughter. Dustin took a little time to warm up – accepting your wife’s family can be

Listening to Pastor Dana

overwhelming – but he’s always called my parents grandma and grandpa and he’s been a pall bearer for my family, I think more times than for his own.  His acceptance of Cheryl and I extended to his family.  Having all of them be a part of our wedding day was amazing.

The outpouring of love from friends and family was amazing.  Having our relationship be recognized by the state, as well as people close to us is an indescribable joy.  I can’t wait for the whole country to come to their senses and legalize gay marriage.

Our first official introduction as Julie and Cheryl Totsch

Photo courtesy of “Loki” David Lott

 

Marriage Equality

Going to the Chapel and we’re gonna get married…

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal cases for Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Indiana.  This means that marriage equality in those states have won.  Virginia has already changed their forms.

This morning at around 11:30, I called the Racine County Clerk’s Office and spoke with Pat. She very sweetly informed me that yes, they were issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.  I cried.

I’m really torn and stunned by this.  I’ve overjoyed that Cheryl and I can now make it legal, but I wish my mom was still here.

For a very long time, my mother was against gay marriage.  We went round and round.  Then, one day, I either explained it better or she just gave up the fight, because she agreed with me.  For the rest of her life, at least once a month, she would say to me, “Why don’t they just let you get married?”

Now, they are letting us get married and she’s not here to see it.  In the year and four months, since she’s been gone, I don’t think I’ve missed her more.

So, now, Cheryl and I have to pick a date.  I think we’ve narrowed it down to two.  🙂

 

GOP Voter ID Laws to Curb Democratic Voting

Voter ID laws aren’t about fraud – we all know it.  Republicans don’t like losing elections and, due to their lack of any agenda resembling polices that will help America, they don’t win many National elections.   How will they fix this?  They’ll scream about non-existent voter fraud and pass voter laws to prevent it.

But, finally, one Republican has admitted the truth.  It’s all about taking votes away from the Democrats.  Robert Gleason, chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, when asked about the voter ID laws responded with “Yeah, I think a little bit. We probably had a better election. Think about this: We cut Obama by 5 percent, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won. He beat McCain by 10 percent, he only beat Romney by 5 percent. I think that probably photo ID helped a bit in that.”

Indiana’s Unconstitutional Anti-Gay Law

According to Indiana law, which will take affect next July 1st, breaks the separation of church and state in a manner that is shocking:

IC 31-11-11-5
Solemnization of marriage in violation of this article
 Sec. 5. A person who:
(1) is authorized to solemnize marriages by IC 31-11-6; and
(2) solemnizes a marriage in violation of this article;
commits a Class C infraction.
As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.3.

In other words, if you are legally capable of performing marriages in the State of Indiana and you perform a gay marriage, you commit a Class C infraction (“A person who commits a Class C misdemeanor shall be imprisoned for a fixed term of not more than sixty (60) days; in addition, he may be fined not more than five hundred dollars.*“)  Really? And, two sections down, there’s this:

IC 31-11-11-7
Solemnization of marriage between persons prohibited from marrying
Sec. 7. A person who knowingly solemnizes a marriage of individuals who are prohibited from marrying by IC 31-11-1 commits a Class B misdemeanor.
As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.3.

If you perform a gay marriage, you commit a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine*. I’d like to mention that this is not only against the Constitution of the United States of America – it is, also, hypocritical. One of the right-wing arguments against gay marriage is that it is against their religion (which isn’t true).  But, if they believe in religious freedom, how can they possibly support a law that restricts religious freedom?

Oh, who am I kidding?  Anti-Gay people would give up their own freedom in order to harm gay people.  They’re truly crazy!

So Called Christian Right

So, you joined a group that is fighting for freedom, but all it’s really doing is fighting gay marriage.  And, you vote for a politician because he believes in unfunding Planned Parenthood, again while claiming to be something you’re not – Christian.  You claim that you’re following Jesus, but you vote for politicians who want to make it harder to become a US citizen.  You claim to follow the Constitution, but you want to impose YOUR religious beliefs on the rest of us.

Sad, really.  The whole Taxed Enough Already crowd is full of hypocrites.  The Constitution supports the separation of church and state.  And, no matter how many times some wrong wing person wants to proclaim that we are a Christian nation, we’re not.  This isn’t a “Christian” nation and we weren’t founded on the Christian religion.  We even put that fact in a treaty in 1797.

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. ~ Article 11 Treaty of Tripoli

There are groups who dispute the Treaty of Tripoli.  They claim that George Washington never saw it, even though it was written during his administration, and when the Senate heard it Article 11 wasn’t there.  Sigh – sad, isn’t it?

Moving on to the whole point of this which is this: Stop being a hypocrite.  Stop supporting politicians who would rather give a tax break to a billionaire, than feed hungry school children.  If you want to show your love for Christ, then follow what He preached:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:31-40

Everytime a program that feeds the poor or clothes them – offers health care to them or just gives them a hand to help them help themselves is knocked down or cut by a politican, our country moves from Jesus’s right hand to His left hand. We move from being one of His sheep to being one of His goats. And, we all know how that story ended, right?

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”
He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:41-46

I can hear the unrighteous (the ones who think they are righteous) speaking now, “But, I give to charity, so I’m good. We can’t have the government spending that money.” Oh, no? We can’t have the government taking our taxes, which is our money, and giving it to the poor? We can’t have that, but we can use religion to justify your hatred of gays? We can use religion to justify control of what a woman can or cannot do with her own body? We can use religion to go to war? We will vote for a politican who will give that money – our money – to an oil company in the form of a subsidy? But, we can’t take care of the least of us, which Jesus actually commanded?

If you don’t agree with gay marriage, fine – you have the right to your opinion.  If you don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose, fine – you have a right to that opinion, too.  But, don’t claim that your love of Jesus is why you don’t believe in the freedom of others, because you’re full of crap.  I know it and He knows it.

Gay Marriage: The Real Inequality

Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional.  That means that gay people in states that recognize or have gay marriage will have their marriages recognized.  This is good – for them.

For those of us who are gay, in non-legally recognized marriages and living in the wrong states, nothing has changed.  We still do not have the right to inheritance, hospital visitations and joint income tax returns.  It, also, means we don’t have the responsibilities and protections that marriage offers.

There are legal ways around this.  My wife and I have registered as Domestic Partners, so we have some of these rights.  And, prior to Domestic Partnerships being legal in my state, we had signed power of attorneys for health and legal matters.

BUT…

What we can’t do is file a marriage, filing jointly income tax return.  And, this is what burns my butt.

By myself, I will pay $12,260 in Federal Income Taxes in 2013.  My wife (who earns less than I do) will pay $2,978.  Together, that’s $15,238.  (This is based on the IRS Withholding Calculator.)  Using the same calculator, I calculated what we would owe if we could file as a married filing jointly couple and the amount is $13,901.  That’s $1,337 less than what we’re separately paying now.

I don’t think I’m receiving $1,337 in extra Federal Benefits, do you?  What am I getting for this money?  Why is MY marriage not recognize by the Federal government because a bunch of bigots didn’t want gay marriage nine years ago – and they won. (By cheating, the question was worded so that yes meant against gay marriage and no meant for gay marriage.  I can’t tell you the number of my friends who were happy it passed, because they couldn’t figure out the difference.)

In any case, we have a long way to go.

Draw the Line – Sign the Bill for Reproductive Rights

I just signed the bill – you should too. It’s time we take back our country from the cranks and the crazies. This is the 21st Century – this discussion should be over.

Sign the bill here.  I’ve posted a video on the video site.

What are you waiting for?  Go, go, go!

Gay Marriage Rights…

‎”Marriage is a tax shelter and a smart way for a couple to combine assets. Love is the thing that’s sacrosanct. The sooner we understand the difference, the sooner we’ll understand why Kim Kardashian’s wedding was never holy, and why countless gay couples around the United States who love each other despite marriage bans are truly righteous.” – Cord Jefferson

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