31 March 2013

Happy Easter! I grew up in the Presbyterian Church that my mother co-founded. It was a comfortable, non-dogmatic, religious upbringing and one that centered on God’s grace and love. I never rebelled against it because there wasn’t anything that I particularly needed to rebel again. It wasn’t like I couldn’t play cards or couldn’t dance or couldn’t drink. 

As I got older, I began to question more and I also found myself moving to the Episcopalian Church and its more progressive, inclusive message.  There are all these things we can’t know that I struggle with: the usual “If God exists, how could he/she allow [throw in any atrocity here] to happen?” or the much more existential question of if I believe in Jesus, then what does it mean to truly live a godly life in his image? Why do so many conservatives cling to their notion of Christianity that is so antithetical to mine? How can we both be right? What about all the hypocrisy and violent acts that are committed in the name of God and/or Christianity? The Episcopal Church seems to let my intellectual and faith sides co-exist and one doesn’t have to trump the other.

I’ve never had trouble reconciling God and evolution or had trouble justifying all different types of religious faith. I just figured that God was big enough and omnipotent enough to speak to you in whatever language/faith you best received him/her, whether it’s Christianity, Judaism,  Islam... or none of the above: we all know secular humanists who carry out Jesus’s message far better than people who claim to be Jesus’s followers.   And, it may come back to haunt me at the Pearly Gates (if Heaven exists, and I’d like to believe it does), but I have never, ever felt compelled to try to convert someone to my way of thinking or to Christianity. That just seems disrespectful. 

Last year, I started a class offered through the University of the South’s  theology school called Education for Ministry (my fellow Episcopalians may be familiar with it). It’s the equivalent of a Masters degree in theology over four years (though we don’t have the write papers or take tests so I don’t actually get the Masters degree). I wanted to read and discuss the Bible from a primarily historical perspective and this was the closest I could find. In our first year, we’re studying the Old Testament. Well, as anyone who has really studied the Old Testament can attest, you can’t get through the Book of Genesis without stories conflicting left and right, so for me  (not that I believed in it anyway), any notion of the Bible’s literalness went out the window from the start. And, may I add, I'm convinced you only really need to read the Old Testament and the collected works of Shakespeare to learn everything you need to know about human nature and that it doesn't change... 

What I believe— and this has only increased as my religious questions have also mounted— is that what matters is that we love each other and that we be kind to each other. That’s really what it comes down to to me now: Kindness. I value it in people I meet and I desire to be kinder in my own life because I know what it feels like to be treated unkindly, I know what it feels like to feel unloved, and they are both horrible. I also know what it feels like to be treated kindly and to be treated with love and to know that kindness ought never be confused with pity. 

Everything I’ve read about Jesus, in whatever way/role you want to believe he existed, focuses on his kindness and his love for the disenfranchised. I honestly don’t know how any lesson to be learned from Jesus can be interpreted as anything other than to serve, love, and help your fellow man, especially those less fortunate than you, with compassion and kindness. ALL of your fellow men, not just the ones who think, look, or believe like you do. 

It’s easy to write that from my lofty perch here and much harder to put into practice. The church I go to now serves lunch to more than 100 homeless people every Monday and shares my thoughts about Jesus and social justice, so today’s $10 goes to my church. I’m not saying the name of it here to respect the privacy of my fellow churchgoers, but I’m so thankful to have found a place that welcomes me despite all my doubts. 

March 31: My local Episcopal church.

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30 March 2013

The first charity I really remember having any sustained involvement with was Youth For Easter Seals. I just googled it and it looks like that division of the Easter Seals doesn’t exist anymore, though Easter Seals definitely does. 

Easter Seals provides services for people with autism and other disabilities. When I was volunteering with them, autism wasn’t as recognized as it is now, so I remember dealing primarily with kids with Down’s Syndrome. I was around 14 or so when I and some friends took a group of disabled kids to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. My friend’s older brother played chauffeur.

Looking back, I was too young to deal with the challenges that taking care of disabled kids and young adults entailed. I remember my charge needed to go to the bathroom and I was terrified that I would do something wrong. I also had no idea if the kid I was assigned to could have snacks of if I needed to regulate her sugar intake. I don’t remember getting any training, but that seems unlikely, doesn’t it? I must just not remember. Everyone survived, but I felt like it was too much responsibility and I was too scared that I would screw up. 

However, when I look back on it now, I realize there wasn’t much that could have gone wrong and while I felt burdened, I also learned early on that it’s so easy to give back. It really takes so little to make a difference in someone’s life. There’s no minimum required. Whether it’s giving to the homeless person in front of the grocery store, teaching kids to read, coaching a youth sports team or serving on a board, the one thing I’ve learned is that you can always find some charity that needs your help that will work with your schedule and you can give as little or as much as you want. The other great think I’ve realized is that any time I spent volunteering, I somehow got back in spades. 

March 30:  Easter Seals

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29 March 2013

Cate Edwards was interviewed on “Today” this morning. Cate is the eldest daughter of John Edwards and the late Elizabeth Edwards. As I watched the interview, I was tremendously impressed with her poise and her ability to convey how she felt while giving the bare minimum of a reply, such as when Savannah Guthrie asked her about Rielle Hunter, the woman her father had the affair with.  Cate answered very politely, but her eyes were screaming “Trailer trash!!”

God knows there’s no shortage to choose from, but I don’t know if a politician ever let me down more than John Edwards. With his youthful good looks and his emphasis on social justice, he had a Kennedy-esque air about him and I loved that he represented my home state, North Carolina. He had ideas that I really agreed with and seemed almost destined to be president. And then, well, then, he fell into the honey trap. As we see politician after politician fall, I honestly do think that is the difference between men and women. We don’t see female politicians getting into these kinds of scandals. Every time it happens, I’m torn between why we care at all (since it’s someone’s private life) and anger that the man just couldn’t keep his pants zipped, especially when he has so much to lose. As usual in such cases, his lies about the affair and his paternity were way more disturbing than the actual affair.... though had I known that all it took to get a guy to fall for you was to walk up to him and say “You’re hot,” my life could have been a hell of a lot more interesting. 

I digress. While Cate had to spill about Rielle and her dad, the main point of her “Today” show appearance was to plug the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation. The mission of the EEF is to “educate, enrich, and empower” youth from low-income backgrounds through mentoring, public service, and community leadership. Today’s $10 goes to EEF. 

On a side note, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of my hometown than when the cretins from  Westboro Baptist Church decided to protest at Edwards’ funeral for reasons that make no more sense than any of their other protests do. The service was at Edenton Street Methodist, a beautiful, 200-year old church in downtown Raleigh. Several hundred locals lined the streets around the church and linked arms to block the protesters and to pay their final respects for Edwards. 

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28 March 2013

I write a lot about reading in this blog, I’ve discovered. I’ve mentioned the Bookmobile and what joy it gave my sister and me when we were growing up to be able to walk without adult supervision the few blocks from our house to where it parked and pick out our own books to read. 

It gave us such a sense of independence. We got to choose which books we wanted to read, not some librarian or other adult. I still remember the Bookmobile was a weird turquoise and it looked old and smelled funny but it was filled with magic and possibilities because there were books inside. It probably only held about 1000 books, but I loved pulling a book off the shelf and deliberating if I’d take that one home or select another one. When I think about it, I have a full sense memory of standing in the bookmobile, overwhelmed with possibilities and aglow with what I may discover next.

Tonight was my monthly book club. For the first time, everyone really, truly loved the book. I wrote about it a few weeks ago:  this month’s selection was “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green. Since I finished it, Shailene Woodley has been cast as the lead in the film version. I’m glad I didn’t know that when I read the book because she is not at all how I imagined the lead. At. All... I think she’s a fine actress, but I was disappointed when I’d heard she got the part. Hazel needs to be played by a younger Mae Whitman-type.  See, it’s only a book, but it really matters to me how this one translates to the screen, because, even though I just wrote the first part of this sentence,  I don’t believe a great read is ever “only a book.” It’s something way more special than that. It’s a gateway to another world; to a world you have no other way of experiencing other than by turning the page. You are never alone if you have a good book with you. 

I had no idea what charity to give to today and then one of my fellow book club members suggested Centro Latino for Literary. Founded in 1991, Centro Latino addressed a critical need among the Los Angeles Latino community: the ability to read and write in their own language. Centro Latino teaches non-literate adult Spanish speakers how to read and write in Spanish, which then gives them the confidence to learn how to do so in English.  In 20 years, Centro Latino has expanded greatly to now teach Pre-ESL literacy skills, math, grammar, and job readiness skills. 

March 28: Centro Latino

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27 March 2013

Today is my buddy Dave Koz’s birthday.  I normally don’t use last names here but it makes sense with the story I’m about to tell. If you're not familiar with Dave, he's a Grammy-nominated smooth jazz saxophonist. 

Dave had a birthday celebration this weekend in San Francisco. It was so much fun to hang with him and so many of the great people I’ve met through him. It was one of those weekends where even if I didn’t already know someone, they felt like an instant friend because we had Dave in common. 

In the 20 years that I’ve known him, Dave has never been anything but a stand-up guy. In fact, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He returns every phone call or email, he is considerate, he does not gossip (or at least almost never). He’s just a solid citizen. I may know people who don't like smooth jazz, but I know absolutely no one who doesn't like Dave. It is impossible not to like him. 

Of my many Dave Koz stories, this is my favorite. In 2005, my sister and I decided to throw our parents a surprise party on the 50th anniversary of their engagement because because we weren’t sure what kind of shape mom would be in when their 50th wedding anniversary rolled around. She had developed Parkinson’s Disease and some kind of brain cognitive disorder (they weren’t actually calling it Alzheimers) and she seemed to be slipping away quickly. She was already growing less mobile and using a walker, plus she had begun to get flustered very easily if she felt overwhelmed or in an unfamiliar situation, so we decided to hold the afternoon party at the residential continuing care facility where our parents lived in North Carolina. 

I asked Dave if he’d make a video to wish them happy anniversary because they knew and loved Dave. He said he could do better than that. In some kind of cosmic twist of fate, he was on tour and was playing in my home town the night of the party. 

Dave walked into the event, and my mom’s face lit up with a smile a mile wide. He played “In The Mood,” one of her all time favorites, and played it right to mom. At a time when her mind was leaving her, Dave created a brand new beautiful memory for her and for my father, years after they thought they were past creating  new ones.  Dave left to get ready for his concert and several of the elderly ladies in their 80s came up to me to tell me how cute Dave was, how talented he was, and, more importantly,  how they really, really hoped he made it one day.

Happily, even by then, he’d more than “made it” and he continues, seven Grammy nominations in, to “make it” very, very successfully. 

Dave’s one of those guys who’s the first to jump in when people need help and for years, his main charity has been the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Starlight helps sick children and their families around the world from helping with their treatment, offering educational programs, providing distraction therapy, and connecting families with each other to make them feel less isolated. They incorporate social media so that sick kids can chat with other sick kids; they even offer events including cruises and movie premieres to help families create special memories together, just like Dave did for my mom. Dave now has his own brand of wine available through Whole Foods (and it’s delicious). Proceeds go to Starlight Foundation.

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26 March 2013

Today was a big day, wasn’t it? The Supreme Court heard arguments on same-sex marriage. 

The question before the court is if the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution means that individual states cannot define marriage in a way that counteracts that protection.

Today’s arguments provided at least one exchange, below, that was certainly food for thought for anyone who wants to define marriage as solely a procreative purpose. 

"The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will ... refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires ... of adult couples," argued pro-Proposition 8 attorney Charles Cooper, according to CNN.

Justice Elena Kagan then said: "Mr. Cooper, suppose a state said that, because 'we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55.' Would that be constitutional?"

"No, your honor, it would not be constitutional," Cooper replied.

Today’s arguments focused on California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage.

Tomorrow’s arguments will address U.S. v. Windsor,  which challenges 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that keeps married same-sex couples from getting the same federal benefits as opposite-sex couples. 

As a political science major, it’s always fascinating to me to see how the Supreme Court parses up its decisions and how complex they are. Often their ruling has nothing to do with the actual question at hand— in this case, same-sex marriage —and they will dismiss the case because they feel it should be decided by the individual states, which could happen this time. 

But it feels like this is the right time to fix this wrong. It’s time to make same-sex marriage a fundamental right guaranteed by the Supreme Court, not something that each state decides on its own. It's time to be on the right side of history. This is a civil right, it has nothing to do with religion. We’ll know how the court decides in June. 

In the meantime, this graphic, which has been floating around Facebook all day today, describes my thoughts on the matter perfectly. 

Normally, Tuesday is Chooseday, when I donate to a charity in the person’s name who suggested a charity to me. That will return again next week. 

Today’s  $10 goes to Freedom To Marry, a non-profit that works to win the right for same-sex marriage. The 10-year old organization partners with other organizations across the country to allow same-sex couples the same rights afforded opposite-sex couples. 

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25 March 2013

I was in San Francisco this weekend and had I known there was a new otter exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I would have included that in my plans. 

I’m quite convinced there’s no animal that has quite as much fun as an otter. When I was growing up, my mom and I both loved otters. She said she wanted to be reincarnated as one, so whenever I see an otter looking like it is having the time of its life --and when do they not-- I like to think it may be my mom. 

The tagline for the sea otter exhibit is “Play.Eat.Nap.Repeat.”  Really, what more is there to life than that? The exhibit features rescued otters who can’t go back into the wild. They rotate out of the exhibit and then serve as mentors to other stranded otters at the Aquarium.  Can we have a collective “Awwwwww.” Look, the two otters below are waving "Hellllllooooooo!" Do you really have the power to resist that? 

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24 March 2013

Many of you have probably already read the letter that Iraqi vet Tomas Young recently wrote to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Young, the subject of the documentary “Body of War,” enlisted in the Army two days after 9/11, believing he would be part of a military team that would bring to justice the people responsible for the terrorist attacks.  Instead, he went to Iraq and was paralyzed in a 2004 battle after being shot in the spine. He has decided to stop any nourishment that keeps him alive and to die the way he wishes. 

The letter is powerful stuff. Even if you’re one of the minuscule, tiny minority who feels the war in Iraq was justified, I’d still encourage you to read Young’s letter. It’s impossible to not be moved by his words at the inadequate treatment returning soldiers receive. These are the words of someone who paid an unbearably high price for serving his country, who has suffered in ways that most of us can never imagine, for a war that lined the pockets of Cheney and his buddies and, in the process, left close to 4500 U.S. soldiers and Marines dead and many, many more wounded and traumatized. 

Young, 33, isn’t anti-war. He writes: “I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend our country I love—the country I love.”

Here’s a link to the letter and Young reading it aloud. Young is under hospice care. I wish him a peaceful, painless passing. As he states, none of us escapes our day of reckoning. Not him, not me, not past presidents. No one.

Today’s $10 goes to Wounded Warrior Project, whose mission is to “honor and empower wounded warriors  returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a non-partisan organization. 

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23 March 2013

I’m in San Francisco for a friend’s birthday party. While that’s the main purpose of my trip, it’s been a wonderful way to get to see other friends who live up here. Today, two friends and I spent a good part of the day at Muir Beach in Marin County. We tried to go to Muir Woods to walk among the redwoods, but we couldn’t get within a few miles of the place, so we ended up at Muir Beach. It was one of those happy accidents. Muir Beach is a part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The cove and lagoon are stunning in their ragged coastline and the proximity of the ocean to the lush, green pine trees. 

We’d planned to hike in the Muir Woods, but instead we hiked here on trail that led to a ridge that overlooks the Pacific. Leading up to the ocean is Redwood Creek, which is home to salmon and may be the clearest, cleanest creek water I’ve ever seen. 

The Beach is undergoing a restoration project to restore the creek, tidal lagoon and wetlands to their natural functions. $10 seems a very small price to pay for the joy Muir Beach gave me today. 

On a little side note, part of “Memoirs of a Geisha” were filmed at Muir Beach. 

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22 March 2013

As I’ve remarked, I often feel like I’m writing this blog in a void. I know that’s not totally true because I see the page views-- which vacillate wildly with seemingly no rhyme or reason-- but the other day  I was reminded in the nicest possible way that what I’m writing does actually go somewhere out into the universe. 

On St. Patrick’s Day, I had tried to donate to The Ireland Funds, an organization that operates chapters in 12 countries (including 12 chapters in U.S.). Its mission, since its 1976 founding, is to promote programs of peace and reconciliation in Ireland, as well as arts and culture development. In the last 40 years, it has raised more than $430 million for more than 1,200 organizations, according to its website.

When I went to donate, however, the site’s menu did not allow me to enter an amount and the minimal amount to pick was $25. I very often have to enter my $10 under “other,” as very few charities have a designated amount that low and I totally understand that.  At the same time, allowing someone to give as little as $5 or $10 can serve as a gateway to bigger giving as someone learns more about the charity and it also allows kids to spend their allowance without breaking the bank and start a lifetime of philanthropy. The American Ireland Fund was the first charity in more than 75 days of giving that had no “other” designation to give any amount other than those suggested.

Much to my surprise, on March 18, Brian Beck, the I.T. Director for the American Ireland Fund, left me a comment that as a result of my blog (I have no idea how he has seen it), the Fund had added an “other” amount option. And sure enough, it has! Now people can give $10 or designate any amount. I hope the American Ireland Fund gets flooded with $10 (and more) contributions. I’m really humbled that the organization added the “other” option. If my rules allowed it, I would give the American Ireland Fund way more than $10 for being so responsive, but now that the “option” box is there, I am very happily donating today’s $10 to the American Ireland Fund.

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21 March 2013

Over the past week or so, there have been three times  I’m come out of my stairwell and seen a broken egg on the last step. I finally realized, much to my dismay, they must be coming from a nest built by the pigeon family that lives in my apartment building. 

A few weeks ago, several pigeons took up residence in the eaves right outside of one of my living room windows. They have provided endless hours of entertainment for my cat and I like the sound of their cooing. I can pretend they’re doves. They’ve completely covered the landing that runs between my and my neighbor’s apartment-- it looks worse than any windshield I’ve ever seen, if you know what I’m saying--but we can just hose it down. 

For an urban area, our little complex seems to get an awful lot of wildlife, whether it’s raccoons or possums or huge spiders or snails, there always seems to be something out there. We have a fountain with a pond with goldfish and those goldfish seem to learn early on that it’s a  Darwinian pool-- figure out how to get behind a rock or a raccoon is going to have you for dinner.  The current crop has been here for quite a while. 

But the pigeons are new. After the second broken egg, I tried to find the nest on the landing and looked around the eaves where I’ve seen the pigeons sleeping at night, but I can’t find it. It must be on the roof, which I have no access to.  I really wanted to find the nest to move it somewhere safe, even though I know it’s best that I don’t touch it even if I could find it. Still, it’s made me sad to know that my particularly pigeon roommates did not possess the necessary skills to build or place a nest where the eggs won’t fall out and that a heavily slanted roof may not be the smartest or safest spot. 

It’s too late for my little potential pigeon babies, but apparently, the birds at the World Bird Sanctuary fare much better. Based in St. Louis, the World Bird Sanctuary occupies 304 acres  and is open to the public. They take care of anything with wings and even have reptile displays. I feel like Tracy Morgan’s dimwitted “Saturday Night Live” character, Brian Fellow, who hosted "Safari Planet,"  but what on earth are reptiles doing at a bird farm? Anyway, the World Bird Sanctuary protects threatened bird species through “education, propagation, field studies and rehabilitation,” according to its website. They have released more than 8,000 injured birds back into the wild. For as great work as they do, I don’t think they can put my little injured bird eggs back together again...

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20 March 2013

I have yet to use this blog to fund a Kickstarter or Indiegogo or PledgeMusic campaign, but that’s about to change. I initially had mixed feelings about fan-funded projects. When a musician friend first did it a few years ago, it felt like a cheat to me. Just go get a day job and earn the money to pay for the studio time.

I later realized that was a bit harsh. Another friend and I were talking about how it’s really just asking fans/friends to pay in advance for something they would normally buy, but just pay for later. I still don’t like it when someone like Amanda Palmer raises more than $1 million. I understand that no one is twisting anyone’s arm to give, but that just feels like a slight misuse of the power. The recent “Veronica Mars” movie campaign, which raised more than $2 million in less than 24 hours, felt like a great publicity campaign, but Warner Bros. should have just kicked in the money itself. 

I have contributed to some Kickstarter campaigns, mainly to help out friends, but I still have a few unresolved feelings about the whole process. I do like the idea of the different rewards for the different level of donations. It’s like a PBS pledge drive. 

A New York-based publicist that I’ve occasionally worked with over the years has a Kickstarter campaign for a poetry book. Her campaign, as much as it is to help pay for the publishing of her book, The Leighton Explosion, is to fund her readings in five markets.  

The most interesting part of the story here for me is that Anne is recovering from agoraphobia, which is a part of her life I never knew about and, from what I can tell, happened after I moved from New York to Los Angeles. I’m not really able to judge her poetry and prose, but I find it remarkable and want to support someone’s journey to go from being unable to leave her house to progressing to being able to walk out of her home, albeit with panic attacks, to being able to walk down the street, to getting over her crippling fear of crossing a street to now believing she can go on a five-city Northeastern tour. That definitely seems worth $10.

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19 March 2013

I got a lot of response from yesterday’s post about gay marriage. All of it positive, but we know that’s not how everyone feels. As some of you may have heard, folk singer Michelle Shocked went off the rails at her concert on Sunday at Yoshi’s in San Francisco and expressed concerned that gay marriage would bring about the end times. She said more— some of it people in the audience considered hate speech— and the club pulled the plug on her. Since then, every concert date but one on her current tour has been cancelled by the club owners....perhaps because they disagreed with what she said or perhaps over fear that if she does that from their stages, some kind of violence may break out. 

I don’t know what’s in her heart and she’s not speaking publicly until Thursday, when she’s agreed to do an interview with Nicole Sandler, but from reports that I’ve read, it almost seems like she had some kind of breakdown -- not because she doesn’t think gays should marry, that’s her opinion-- but from how she acted after, from all accounts, putting on a perfectly fine, enjoyable, first set of the evening. 

But I think about what it must be like to be gay and to hear someone spout such vitriol towards you. To really believe that it will be the end of the world, literally, if you are allowed to marry. I don’t usually write about the same thing two days in a row, but it’s just been on my mind. That is inconceivable to me that anyone could ever think that just because someone were gay and decided to love differently than you and, just like you, wanted to marry the person they love, that their action could bring about the end of the world. That would be giving the gay person a little too much power, don’t you think? 

Today is Chooseday Tuesday, which means I give the $10 in someone else’s name. Today, I’m giving to The Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LBGTQ youth. Again, I don’t know for sure what point Michelle Shocked was trying to make and look forward to how she explains Sunday night's actions , but how horrible it must be to know that there are people out there who really believe, honestly in their hearts, that you are inferior because you are gay.  That God loves you any less because you are gay and, somehow, therefore imperfect (the God I believe in certainly doesn’t work that way). Part of the point of this blog is to fight hate with love. I have no interest in trying to change someone else's mind on any topic. Instead, I want to put good thoughts out that will cancel out their negative thoughts. The Trevor Project does that for people.

My friend, Joel, is on the Trevor Project’s board and he just did me a big favor that helped me with Liberty Hill Foundation, the organization for which I’m on the board, so today’s $10 is in Joel’s name. 

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18 March 2013

Today, The Washington Post ran the results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that shows that 58% of Americans believe gay couples should be allowed to marry. This is up from 37% only 10 years ago.

As readers of this blog know, one of my absolutely favorite sayings is from Martin Luther King Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  If these changing poll numbers don’t show that, I don’t know what does. 

In other positive news on that front (by now you may have noticed that I’m one of those “straight but not narrow” types - a straight female who considers herself an ally of the gay community — so this is all positive news to me), Ohio Senator Rob Portman came out in favor of gay marriage —a stance he formerly opposed —because his son is gay, and Hilary Clinton now supports gay marriage. It’s very easy, and understandable, to complain that Portman was all too ready to deny others what he now considers a basic right until the situation hit very close to home and that Clinton waited until she was no longer Secretary of State to make the pronouncement, but the point is they re-evaluated their positions and (I would say) evolved on the issue. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner, on the other hand, declared on ABCs “This Week” on Sunday that he could not “imagine” that his position  opposing gay marriage would ever change. 

Here’s how I see it. You are welcome to your opinion against gay marriage, but you are not welcome to infringe upon the rights of others and deny them the same basic rights that you have. It’s such a trite and tired test, but if we put any other word in there besides "gay" or "same-sex" and said “Blacks” or “Jews” or “Whites” were not allowed to marry, it would be seen as discriminatory and struck down. This is a basic civil rights issue, not a religious one. 

I read a piece on Bloomberg News today that posited that folks like Boehner and other politicians who feel the same way he does are secretly hoping that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of gay marriage this summer so that the Republican party can say it didn’t cave on same-sex marriage (despite the fact that it is turning off the more moderate Republicans on a daily basis). It will no longer be an issue that has been making the party look old, antiquated and out of step with current thought. 

All I know is I know and love plenty of gay couples who have been in loving, committed relationships for more than 20 years, and yet, other than in a few states, they are not allowed to be legally wed, even though Britney Spears can marry for 55 hours and Kim Kardashian can wed for 72 days and those are seen as acts that uphold the “sanctity” of marriage because they are opposite-sex unions. True love is so hard to find. Shouldn't finding someone, regardless of whether they're the same or opposite sex as you, be celebrated? 

Today’s $10 goes to the Human Rights Campaign, a D.C.-based powerhouse that works for LGBTQ equal rights because equal rights aren’t equal until everyone has them. 

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