Audio: What Michael Geer’s “Art of Marriage” means for us

In his attempt to shoot this site for simply messengering on the Chick-Fil-A sponsorship that his group, of its own accord, listed for an upcoming marriage conference, Pennsylvania Family Institute president Michael Geer said his “Art of Marriage” efforts are simply meant to “strengthen marriage.” According to the Christian Post reporter, he also said people — all people — should applaud such strengthening, and that he holds “disappointment” for online publications that would try to “taint” his group’s efforts.

So okay, let’s look at what Michael Geer’s strength means for legally married gay folks like yours truly. For insight, we will refer you to an 8/5/10 appearance that Geer gave to “The Bob Durgin Show. An appearance where Geer referred to marriage equality as a “tragedy,” connected gays’ unions to incestuous ones, likened the Perry decision to legal missteps like Dred Scott, suggested that bisexuals want the right to simultaneously marry both a man and a woman, and — in a truly odd turn — suggested that Judge Walker “shouted” portions of his opinion. Have a listen:



*SOURCE: Bob Durgin Show, 8/5/10 [WHP 580]

***

*Oh, and how about we stop with these fact-less claims, Mr. Geer? Because Vaughn Walker did not “shout” what you say he did:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 12.21.05 Pm

Although considering the way the “protect marriage” crowd has misrepped his lengthy and insightful ruling, perhaps there’s an alternate, far-right edition of the decision to which we are not privy.




Good As You

—  admin

Christmas Shopping At Wal-Mart Means Browsing ‘Faggoty Vampire Books’ With Your Daughter

Shawn, the mostly anonymous father behind the website GodGunsGutsGlory.com (which has a whole section devoted to "expos[ing] the LIES of the Filthy Homosexual Agenda), went Christmas shopping with his daughter at Wal-Mart. They visited the books section. And while we already knew the store stocked anti-gay parenting guides, little did we know it also has a whole shelf devoted to gay vampires. Somebody call the quality assurance department.


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Queerty

—  admin

Video: DADT repeal ‘opening a Pandora’s box of sorts’…’only the opening of a larger Pandora’s box is gonna fix it, and for the military that means war’

Some people commemorate Christmas week with new pajamas, and others opt for unwarranted, unprovoked fear-mongering that turns a completely benign, publicly supported policy change into a de facto nuclear weapon. It takes all kinds (to keep peace on Earth a distant dream).




Good As You

—  admin

Wait means never

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom:

“If we didn’t do it in 2004, do you think the party would have wanted us to do it in 2006 during the midterm elections to take back Congress?” he said. “God forbid. 2008? Well, it’s another presidential year. And now people are saying 2010? That’s another critical year to hold Congress, and we’ve got statehouses across the nation. 2012? Another presidential year. 2014? Another Congressional year. Wait does almost always mean never. That was Dr. King’s point.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Kerry Eleveld explains to the Wash. Post what homophobia means in 2010.

In this week’s “View from Washington,” Kerry Eleveld takes the Washington Post to task for its editorial endorsement of NOM-backed candidate Delano Hunter. (My post on the Post is here.)

This is an especially good column because it explains what homophobia means in 2010. And, it calls out the usual B.S. arguments used by those who oppose full equality:

First off, can we please drop the canard that allowing certain people to marry each other somehow impinges on certain other people’s religious freedoms? No one will be forcing churches or religious leaders to perform same-sex ceremonies against their will, and people will undoubtedly maintain their right to worship as they choose completely free of government interference—as they always have. And for the Post to suggest that recognizing marriage equality necessarily conflicts with the beliefs of all religious groups is completely disingenuous, especially after nearly 200 religious leaders in the district stood with the multifaith group D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality.

But perhaps more to the point, it’s time for mainstream America to realize that endorsing politicians who claim to support “equality” for LGBT Americans but not marriage equality is tantamount to aiding and abetting homophobia; that they are mounting a direct attack on the love shared by fellow tax-paying, law-abiding citizens who want to make lifelong commitments to care for one another; that they are relegating people they work with, live with, and, yes, worship with, to second-class status.

There is no gray any longer, no hair-splitting, no rationalization or triangulation that suffices anymore. If you don’t support same-sex marriage, you don’t support equality and that is quite simply homophobic.

Sure, some pols are more virulently homophobic than others, but the outcome is the same: equality denied.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

What the temporary stay in the Prop 8 case means

From NCLR (pdf):

Judge Walker struck down Prop 8 on Wednesday, August 4. On the same day, Judge Walker also temporarily “stayed” his decision, which means that the ruling isn’t effective right away. The Judge will decide whether to “stay” the decision for longer after all the parties respond to the Yes on 8 request for a longer stay. All responses have to be filed today, Friday, August 6.

Both California Attorney General Brown and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger filed responses opposing a stay and urging the court to let its decision take effect immediately so that same-sex couples in California can begin to marry. The plaintiff couples also are strongly opposing a stay.

Judge Walker can decide whether to stay the decision for longer at any time. If he grants the motion to stay, same-sex couples will not be able to marry in California until after the appeal is finished. The Judge can also delay the decision for a short time until the Ninth Circuit appeals court decides whether they will order a stay.

If Judge Walker denies the stay and permits his decision to take immediate effect, the Yes on 8 proponents can ask the Ninth Circuit appeals court to order an emergency stay.

Several counties have announced that, if Judge Walker lifts the stay, they are ready to begin issuing licenses and performing civil ceremonies for same-sex couples.

And, here’s the Olson/Boies motion to stay:
Prop. 8 Plaintiffs Opp to Motion for Stay




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright