Obama, the Gay President?

I’m working on a theory, not yet totally formulated, that goes like this:

John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the United States, nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of black people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needed to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably Martin Luther King Jr, culminating in the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, to really get on board.

Barack H. Obama, the first black President of the United States, has nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of gay people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needs to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably ????, fulfilling the promise of his Democratic nomination acceptance speech on August 28, 2008, to really get on board.

Both as a civil rights supporter and as a data person, I was pleased that the Obama Administration is “determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are accurately counted” in the 2010 census. “The Administration had directed the Census Bureau to explore ways to tabulate responses to the census relationship question, to produce data showing responses from married couples of the same sex.” One does not need to “believe in” same-sex marriage to want a reporting of what is actually taking place.

There have been other positives such as the extension of benefits to gay federal employees.

These do not make up for my disappointment with Obama’s foot dragging on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and his Justice Department’s defense of the deplorable Defense of Marriage Act. But as he reiterated to some GLBT leaders Monday, the day after the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, he says he’s working on it.

As I pondered all of this, I came across a piece by Robert Reich called, What can I do to help Obama? The crux of the issue is in the subtitle: “The public has to force him to do the right thing.” Reiterating, we need to bug him AND Congress to, as the title of the best Spike Lee movie, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Do the Right Thing.
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As I’ve mentioned, I only recently discovered that an old friend of mine moved to Canada because same-sex unions were untenable in the U.S. and her now spouse already lived there. This bugs me tremendously. Still, since yesterday was Canada Day, props to the U.S.’s neighbors to the north.
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I came across an interesting survey: Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults Provides Surprising Insights. “People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts…The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians…It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles.” As someone noted, some of their margins of error are ENORMOUS. And identifying sexuality on a phone survey, when some people are terrified of answering Census questions about when they go to work, raises an eyebrow. Still, it is is an interesting repudiation of a stereotype, which is always good.
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Here’s a peculiar story briefly referenced in my local paper: Could gay marriage reduce HIV/AIDS? A study by two Emory University economists suggests the answer is yes. They “calculated that a rise in tolerance from the 1970s to the 1990s reduced HIV cases by one per 100,000 people, and that laws against same-sex marriage boosted cases by 4 per 100,000.” Not sure I buy the entire premise of their study, but I accept this sentence: “Intolerance is deadly.”

ROG

Vito and Stu


I wrote here three years ago about my late friend from my high school days, Vito Mastrogiovanni, who is commemorated on an AIDS quilt.

Also in Vito’s class was a very intelligent guy named Stuart. Generally, I admire intelligence. In this case though, Stuart knew he was smart, and it made him arrogant, obnoxious. I did not like this person. At all.

At this 20th reunion event, one which Vito boycotted, probably in part out of the rage he was feeling about having AIDS, Stu was there. I recognized Stuart but made no attempt at talking to him. Interestingly, Stuart made overtures to talk to me. He was – shockingly – pleasant and polite. He apologized to me for being such a prig. He said he learned a lot about himself over the years. He also revealed to me that he had AIDS.

I have no precise idea why Stu told me this, why he singled me out; he was a tool to just about everyone, I thought. Or maybe he was telling lots of people, but one at a time; I suppose a mass announcement from the microphone may not have gone well.

Unlike Vito, who made some peace with his disease before he died in July 1991, I have no idea whatever happened to Stu. His name does not appear in the 2003 school alumni directory, but that’s hardly definitive. His last name is so common that there was a guy when I went to college with exactly the same name; much nicer dude, BTW. But I am pleased he took the time to reach out to me, for whatever reason.

I have worked this event a few times in the past. I won’t have a chance this year, but I always make an effort to attend it, if only to see if Vito’s quilt has made it to Albany.

Event: NYS Department of Health AIDS Memorial Quilt Display
Description: Open to the Public

Location: Empire State Plaza Convention Hall (the Egg, Albany)
Date Time
Monday, December 01, 2008 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 04, 2008 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The program was cut from five days to four due to state budget cuts.

ROG

My Periodic Need for a Non-Thematic Post, January 2007 Edition

DEAD PEOPLE

I’ve seen saxophonist Michael Brecker playing somewhere. Maybe it was backing Joni Mitchell in Philadelphia in 1981, or maybe on one of his solo jazz excursions. He appears in that “Hot Tub” segment of Saturday Night Live I linked to when James Brown died last month. In any case, you’ve almost certainly have HEARD Michael Brecker, who played with Paul Simon (Still Crazy, among others), Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run), Frank Zappa, and zillions more, including the aforementioned James Brown, and who died of leukemia this week at the age of 57.
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Art Buchwald, whose wonderfully acerbic column I used to read, was probably best known for not dying when everyone, including himself, thought he would. That and the lawsuit over the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America.
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I would have said something about the passing of film producer Carlo Ponti, except that I might have accidentally revealed my grand crush in high school (and later) of his wife, and it seemed unseemly, so I won’t.

MYTHS
…DEBUNKED

HIV/AIDS attacks

AND NOT A MYTH: (A LITTLE) TAX BREAK

A SPECIAL ONE TIME TAX CREDIT ON YOUR 2006 TAX RETURN

When it comes time to prepare and file your 2006 tax return, make sure you don’t overlook the “federal excise tax refund credit.” You claim the credit on line 71 of your form 1040. A similar line will be available if you file the short form 1040A.

This is about the federal excise tax that’s been charged for long-distance calls on phone bill for years, based on the distance and length of the calls. When phone companies began to offer flat fee phone service, challenges to the excise tax ended up in federal courts. The IRS has now conceded this argument. Phone companies were given notice to stop assessing the federal excise tax as of August 30, 2006.
But the challengers of the old law also demanded restitution. So the IRS has announced that a one-time credit will be available when you file 2006 tax returns. However, the IRS also established limits on how BIG a credit you can get.
If you file your return as a single person with just you as a dependent, you get to claim a $30 credit on line 71 of your 1040.
If you file with a child or a parent as your dependent, you claim $40.
If you file your return as a married couple with no children, you claim $40.
If you file as married with children, you claim $50 if one child, $60 if two or more children.
In all cases, the most you get to claim is $60 – UNLESS you have all your phone bills starting AFTER Feb 28, 2003 through July 31, 2006 – which I certainly don’t – then you can add up the ACTUAL TAX AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR BILLS AND CLAIM THAT FOR A CREDIT. If you do that, you’ll have to file a special form number 8913 and attach it to your tax return. Individuals using the form 1040EZ will have to attach this form 8913 also.

One final point – this credit is a refundable credit. That means you get this money, no matter how your tax return works out. If you would end up owing the IRS a balance, the refund will reduce that balance you owe. If you end up getting a refund, the credit will be added and you get a bigger refund by that $30 to $60, depending on how many dependents are on your return.

WAR AND PEACE

January 27-29 gathering in Washington, DC, “to remind the new Congress that we elected them to end the war in Iraq and to bring the troops home now.”

LIBRARIAN HUMOR, NOT AN OXYMORON

Conan the Librarian
A REAL library’s take on Madonna’s Ray of Light
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A Biblical Understanding of Marriage
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Finally, watch Tom the Dog on 1 Vs. 100 (square 81) AGAIN tonight on NBC, at 8 EST.
Carlo Ponti,