Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Extreme Oklahoma: Wake Up, Now!

It’s no secret that the state legislature in Oklahoma is made up of a bunch of right-wing extremists. Sally Kern became famous last year for screeching about how homosexuals posed a bigger threat to our nation than terrorism. Mike Ritze, while not so well known, wants to put up a monument to the ten commandments at the state capitol despite the fact that the Supreme Court already ruled against this in McCreary County vs. ACLU. More recently, on Feb. 10th of this year to be exact, twenty of these right-wing nuts voted to strike a prayer from the official House Records because it had been given by a gay man. Fortunately, they lost because 64 legislators approved it, proving that not all Republicans in the Oklahoma House, while conservative, are necessarily nuts.

But just because they are not all the extreme right wing, plenty of conservative republicans and some democratic legislators vote with these core twenty people. That is why last week the senate was able to easily pass a bill making stem cell research illegal. The Daily Oklahoman, a conservative paper, is finally waking up to the fact of just how extreme Oklahoma’s rule making body has become with this editorial. But is anyone paying attention?

Now I don’t mind if Kern and her cohorts hate homosexuals and think it is unnatural, yada, yada, yada. What I do object to is the fact that her ultimate goal is to impose biblical law on society. If she thought she could get away with it, she would introduce a bill tomorrow calling for “stoning by death” of all known homosexuals. Next, would be return African-Americans to slavery and outlawing divorce and bank accounts for single women.

Banning stem cell research is just another way of saying ‘no’ to science and the modern age. It is another attempt to move Oklahoma in the direction of the stone age. Charles Key, with help from Randy Brogdon, recently passed a resolution, not a bill as World Net Daily proclaims, declaring Oklahoma a sovereign state. Is this what Oklahomans want? To leave the union and live in darkness?

It’s time to wake up, people. It’s time to take notice of what your elected representatives are doing. It’s time to quit drinking the Republican kool-aid and take action.

Call Gov. Brad Henry tomorrow and ask him to veto HB 1326. His phone number is : (405) 521-2342

Of course, if he does veto it, the veto could be overturned by the house and the senate, so then you will need to call your representatives and ask them to sustain the veto.

Click this link to find name and contact info for your representative: http://www.okhouse.gov/

Click this link to find name and contact info for your senator: http://www.oksenate.gov/

Do not take my word for it. Do your own research. Find out what your legislature is doing and let them know how you feel about it. Study the issues and make up your own mind.

Lobbying at the Liquor Store with Lucky

I was sitting in the car today while my girlfriend went into the liquor store when who should pull up beside me but Lucky Lamons. Normally, I wouldn’t be so quick to recognize a member of the Oklahoma state legislature, but this is a figure who used to be featured quite often on the evening news back when he was a cop.

So while I sat in the car, I thought of all the things I could say to him. I could ask him about why House Joint Resolution 1003 was allowed to pass. That’s the one that declares Oklahoma as a sovereign state. I wasn’t sure offhand if this guy was a democrat or a republican, but somehow I felt like he was on our side or could, at least, be persuaded. Still, I figured he probably voted for it since the final vote was something like 83-13.

And I thought about how I could ask him why that bill by Ryan Kiesel was allowed to die in committee, the one that would fund a couple of scholarships for students who wanted to study geriatric medicine and commit to serving in rural areas.

But it was a Saturday. And there was a cold wind blowing. And I was only 95% sure it was him. But then, as he was stowing his beer and liquor into the hatch of his SUV, I glanced over at his car and saw a sticker that looked quite official. So I knew. This was a person who was a member of the Oklahoma Legislature.

I had to say something. I couldn’t pass up such a golden opportunity. As Lucky Lamons came around to the drivers seat, I rolled down my window and said. ” Hey , that Sally Kern is really insane, isn’t she?”

Lucky didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, Yeah, she’s insane. She’s a real nut”.

It was a great. I gave him the thumbs up and told him to keep up the good work. Later, I looked up the fact that he is a democrat and also a member of the NRA. And yes, he voted for the Oklahoma sovereignty bill.

But hey, I think he knows that I think that Sally Kern is insane. And I think that he thinks that, too.

Calling Mike Ritze

Well, I just got off the phone a little while ago with Mike Ritze. Ha, ha. Seriously. He’s the Oklahoma legislator who has sponsored a bill to put up a monument of the ten commandments. It just made it out of committee today. I had left him a message saying that there was no way a ten commandments monument can be construed as secular or not endorsing a particular religion. I didn’t expect him to call me back since I am not a constituent of his.

But there I was, shopping for tofu and fermented black beans at the Asian grocery story, when my cell phone starts ringing. So we had a little one-on-one, me standing in the soy sauce aisle, with neither side achieving a clear victory. I have a tendency to get angry and am not the best debater, but for a dickhead elected to public office, he wasn’t much better.

Oklahoma Asshole of the Day

Mike Ritze: Oklahoma Asshole of the Day

Clearly, I should have done some research before calling. He cited a Texas case that went to the Supreme Court in 2005 – Van Orden v. Perry – as his justification for putting up the monument. I told him that such a monument was not necessary for people to know that murder is wrong and that the only purpose it served was to send a message of divisiveness. He somehow took this mean to that I thought murder was acceptable behavior. Huh?

He asked me what I did for a living and I asked why he wanted to know that. “Well, you’re home during the day so you obviously don’t work for a living.” This is the brilliant sort of mind that some Broken Arrow residents voted to represent them. If I’m against a ten commandments monument, I must be a welfare bum or some such ne’er-do-well.

The fact is that the monument in the Van Orden v. Perry case had been around for four decades before anyone filed a complaint. So while the ten commandments display was ruled secular in that case, an entirely different yet similar case occured at the same time. It was called McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. The same Supreme Court ruled in that case that the purpose of a ten commandments display was to advance religion and was, thus, unconstitutional. The swing vote in both cases was Justice Stephen Breyer. You can read about both of these in the Christian Science Monitor.

According to the Tulsa World, Tamya Cox of the ACLU of Oklahoma said they are considering a legal challenge so I know where I will be sending my money if this stupid thing passes. I mean, what year does Mike Ritze live in? He wants to think this is some Christian nation where murder is unacceptable, yet he conveniently forgets all the Native Americans murdered by these so-call “Christians” during their westward expansion. Sure, people didn’t think that way several decades ago but they do now.

Let’s pick and choose which biblical laws we will follow, which Supreme Court cases we will cite, which murders are wrong and which are necessary for economic development. And don’t forget, prayers by gay people aren’t really prayers so let’s vote to strike them from the record.

So now I’ve done the research. It would be pointless for me to call again, but don’t let that stop you from calling. His phone number is:

(405) 557-7338

Leave a message. He’ll call you back.

The Power of One

While attending a local meeting the other day to discuss LGBT civil rights here in my hometown of Tulsa, OK, a participant related a story about a firefighter she knew in a small town nearby. This firefighter had been married for some ten years and had a couple of kids. He got along well with his co-workers and appeared to be part of the community. After years of fitting in, he decided he could no longer continue to live a lie. He was gay. His co-workers were shocked and threatened to beat him up. Needless to say, he no longer works in that town.

This story reminded me of another story that my 14-year-old daughter told me. Her eighth grade English class had been assigned to read “The Lord of the Flies”. In preparation, they divided into four groups and were each given a list of twenty fictitious people with various skills and characteristics. They had to decide as a group which of the twenty people would live and which would die. One of the people on the list was a gay man. Immediately, a jockish member of the group suggested killing him off and other members of the group were quick to agree, all but one. My daughter pointed out that the gay man was on the verge of graduating from medical school. None of the other people on the list had any medical training. The smart thing to do would be to save the almost-doctor who just happened to be gay.

As it turned out, her group was the only one that did not kill off the gay doctor. After completing the exercise, the teacher berated the class for killing off someone with such valuable skills. I’m sure it was a valuable lesson for some, if not all, of the students on how dangerous an unreasoning hatred of gay people can be.

As I told the people in the LGBT civil rights meeting, sometimes it only takes one person speaking out to get others to see the light. Had just one of those firefighters said “Hey, this guy is our friend,” then surely some others would have gone along with him. If no one is willing to speak, then a mob mentality ensues. Adults begin to act like middle-schoolers, afraid of being different, of not being part of the crowd.

So I ask you, both you gay people and you straight people who know us, are you adults or are you still stuck in your pre-teen years? Who among you is brave enough to speak out for LGBT people?

tell3_10

Shoe Unfortunately Misses Bush’s Face or What is Hate? Part II

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the incident of the Iraqi reporter throwing his shoes at Bush. What a fine example of hate! And what an appropriate target. Below is my favorite version of the incident, complete with Disney music.

I have seen this incident countless times now, but every time I watch it, I find myself thinking, “Gosh, if only that first shoe had hit him in the face”. That would have been so incredibly funny. I can see it happening quite clearly, and my disappointment that it didn’t is palpable.

So I curse Bush’s ability to duck which, after 8 years in office, seems to be the only thing he can do competently. When I watch this and laugh, it is with bitterness rather than the belly-shaking sort of laughter that would spew forth had the shoe actually connected.

Is this hate on my part? Yes, I would say so. But already this story is a bit of history. It does me no good to dwell on it. What’s done is done. All I can do is count down the days ’til this prick leaves office. But then what do I have to look forward to?

In keeping with my new resolve to try to do positive things, my partner and I attended a ‘Change’ meeting at the Tulsa Democratic Party office. It was crowded and we both immediately felt uncomfortable. Perhaps it is because we find the whole political process disgusting. I know I’m not really cut out to be an activist, at least not in the sense of working with the powers-that-be. The word that keeps popping into my head lately is “mainstream”. It’s like everyone is part of this stupid herd, but I’m standing way over on the side shouting for equal marriage rights. And no one hears me.

We ended up leaving early, of course, but I’m glad we went. My partner stood up at one point and talked about how schizophrenic gay people in this country felt on election day. Had she not mentioned it, the words gay or lesbian would probably not have been heard in that meeting at all. We are aware of how many Democrats voted for the gay marriage ban in Oklahoma in 2004. Quite a fucking few.

What the Democrats fail to realize is that a hell of a lot of LGBT people in these here parts vote Republican. And why shouldn’t they? Sure, some of them are racist pigs. Some might be fiscal conservatives. But what has the Democratic party really done for us?

So if Oklahoma Democrats want this red state to vote a bit bluer four years from now, they might want to think about why Okies hate homosexuals so much. As for me, I doubt I will still be living here in 2012 because I’m reaching the point where I really can’t stand it anymore. Or actually, I’m a bit beyond it. Maybe I will try volunteering at my local pride center. It’s the one place in town where I feel like I am me.

Join the Impact – The Best Day Ever!

Remember how I said in the last post that I didn’t own a video camera? Duh! I am so stupid. It finally occured to me that my Sony cybershot digital camera can take videos. I found this feature completely useless when I first bought it because the videos couldn’t be very long due to memory requirements. Also, I hate video. But then I realized I could buy a memory stick for 20 bucks and now I can make all kinds of videos.

Suffice it to say, I no longer hate video. Here’s my take on Tulsa’s Join the Impact rally which attracted some 300 people. The camera work is pretty lousy, the quality sucks, but I think there’s some good edits and mostly, I think it radiates a very positive energy. I am tired of hating. I have hated just about everyone and everything since the gay marriage ban was passed in Oklahoma in 2004, but I am not going to hate any longer. I believe that there is a great period of change just ahead, and I am going to do my part to make sure that it is change for the better.

What’s All This Fuss I Hear About Gay Marriage?

I saw this over at The Lavender Newswire about the Census Bureau editing out data on same-sex couples. I’m certainly not surprised and I’m not sure just how much I care. Before the GLBT community in hip places like Massachusetts and California started demanding their marriage rights, I figured it would be about 20 years until we had gay marriage in this country. That was 4 years ago so I now estimate it will be another 16 years. Fine with me. I expect to live just long enough to see it, so I can die happy.

What happened, of course, after we achieved our “victories” on the far-flung coasts is that the bigoted folks where I live were so scared and yes, disgusted, that they had no choice but to do the righteous thing and vote for a gay marriage ban. Some 78% of Oklahomans voted for that ban, compared with 56% who voted for Bush. So I guess a lot of Oklahoma Democrats are homophobes. Again, I’m not surprised, but somehow seeing those numbers on the TV screen the day after the election filled me with a mindless rage.

Since then, I’ve made a killing. No, not homicide. About 8 months after the ban, my company forced me to attend a Diversity training. I won’t tell you the company name, but the initials are BCBS. I told my boss that I was gay and if I went to that training session, I would be fired because I would say things that the people there would not take kindly. The diversity training was as lame as I expected it to be, talking mostly about people’s different hobbies and a bit about skin color. I pointed out that even though there was a gay marriage ban, I was still gay and I was still married. The next day I was asked to resign.

I guess I did the wrong thing. I cut a deal and resigned instead of letting them fire me. I really hated that job and I was afraid if I got fired, it would be hard to find another one. As it turned out, I still couldn’t find another one. I knew I could never return to office work, so it took me five months until I found a part-time job repairing vacuum cleaners. In the meantime I was burning through all my IRA savings which I’d been forced to withdraw. Six months later the repair center shut down and I was laid off. I decided to declare bankruptcy, thus writing off $20,000 in credit card debt. It was a great deal of fun!

It took another five months to find a job through a temp agency wiring electrical control systems. I thought I was going to make a fresh start, maybe go back to school and get an Associates Degree in Electronics Technology and work my way back up to my old pay scale. Target sued me for fraud, but there was one little problem. For the last two years, I had a lump growing in my breast. It was actually there before I left my job at the health insurance company, and I had a mammogram and was told it was nothing. I checked Web MD which said most breast lumps are benign and so I didn’t worry about it. But still, it kept growing.

Now, America being what it is, it’s quite possible to work full-time and not have any health insurance. I was working in the factory for two months when one day I discovered a small bump under my armpit. I figured it would take at least another 1-3 months to get hired on permanently, and three more months after that to get health insurance, but now I could no longer wait. I was able to schedule a free mammogram and a $25 biopsy through a local charitable organization. And that’s how I found out I had stage III cancer. This is the best thing that ever happened to me!

Due to my wage of $8.00/hour, poverty level for a family of three, I qualified for Medicaid. It was a simple matter to get Target off my back after that. Plus I got eight rounds of chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, a bunch of pain and sleeping pills, and six weeks of radiation practically for free.

Compare this with what would have happened if I still worked at BCBS. I would have still had all my credit card debt plus I would have been hit with $10,000 in copays, plus I wouldn’t have been able to work very much to pay all this off. I would have been forced to declare bankruptcy anyway.

As it is, I was able to qualify for disability which ended up paying as much as I would have earned working 50 hours a week at the temp job. Plus, I still work there, only about 10 hours a week, but that’s all I want to work right now.

Oh, did I mention that my 15-year-old daughter wanted to spend her junior year in Beijing? We found out she was accepted about a month after I received my cancer diagnosis. The program cost $38,000. She received $37,000 in financial aid. She’s already gone and come back now, and she had a great 9 months.

The trip to Beijing and all the medical care I’ve received would not be possible if I was actually married to my partner. But as long as the possiblity for us to be legally tied together does not exist, I certainly don’t feel any need to declare her income.

Even if they made gay marriage legal in Oklahoma tomorrow, I would not tie the knot. My kids are both bright and get good grades, and I’m planning on sending them to expensive private colleges, tuition-free, of course.

In the meantime, I do feel bad about some of the stress I’ve put my partner through these last few years. We’ve been together over eight years now, and our relationship has only grown stronger. So it’s fine with me if the Census Bureau wants to edit out same-sex data. I’m still gay and I’m still married, and I know we’ll get ours in time.