We Are in This Together… Jeez…

I was sitting on the bus reading through my news feed on Facebook and I found a post made by a friend that comes off rather angry and dividing. The post is regarding an article (link at end of this post) that discusses Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend allegedly kissing another man. I say allegedly because I do not know what the terms of Cooper’s relationship (they may be open) or if the photo is even real.

 

Here is the text my friend’s post:

Love this article. It openned the door for a lot of really awesome discussion About relationships. I feel like gays advocating for marriage has done more harm than good. case and point here…what if their agreements for their relationship were different than yours? I’ve seen it time and again, people using the phrase “WE are just like YOU. WE just want the white picket fence, with our 2.5 children, with a dog and cat and cute house, just like YOU”…I ask that for future reference speak for your fucking self. If you are gay and YOU want to model YOUR relationship after an antiquated heterosexual ritual to show ownership and unhealthy mentality of co-dependence of ones partner DO IT. Use I, not WE though. As one person of the WE that YOU are speaking of and lumping in the same category as YOU…FUCK that. I don’t want the white picket fence in the burbs, with the dog and cat and FUCK having kids. Not all of us are like you! You just assumed that that is what all of us wanted. I do not, so for future conversations I would ask that you name me as someone who is gay and militantly does not support the institution of marriage. As well as modeling my life in a codependently focused heteronormative fashion. kthnx

I honestly don’t get that impression from people advocating for marriage equality. I have been to many events/rallies and have had many conversations regarding marriage equality. In these times, I have of course encountered a few militants who truly think all gay couples should have the “white picket fence” life, but they are but a tiny minority. Every time you have a group who share a common belief, there will always be the tiny “militant” minority.

 

I for one feel that we should all fight for marriage equality – regardless of personal preference of family/marriage structure. The people wanting monogamous “white picket fence” marriages can help fight for better acceptance of polyamorous relationships and the polyamorous people can fight for marriage equality. Whether you are gay, lesbian, trans, queer, straight, monogamous, poly, or blissfully single – we all want to be treated with equality and respect. Saying “we” does not cause harm – categorizing and dividing ourselves is what’s harmful.

 

Further, I think my friend cast a wide brush with his codependency remarks. Codependency can exist in any type of interpersonal relationship. Having the “white picket fence” style marriage is not automatically codependent.

 

I suppose I shall close with the fact that language and assumptions are a dangerous combination. I have personally noticed that the people who get militantly up in arms over the minutia in language are the ones who tend to be more divisive. When the word “we” is being used, it does not automatically mean the entire GLBTQ community or only the GLBTQ community. It does not automatically mean the person speaking wants everyone to live a certain way either.

 

We are all in this together, jeez!

 

Link: What Those Photos of Anderson Cooper’s Boyfriend Kissing Another Man Could Teach America

Sales Tax: How It Ought to be Done

I was talking with a friend about sales tax, so I thought it would be a nice breath of fresh air to lay out how sales taxes should be managed. I live in the state of Oregon which has no sales tax and every attempt at instituting one has met fierce opposition.

 

The most common reason I hear from people is that they are afraid of a sales tax slowly creeping up and up and up and up over the years. I hear that complaint from people who live in states with sales tax as well. This is perfectly valid, and I agree with them. Some places such as Chicago or Seattle have sales taxes topping 10% as the result of 0.1% here and there being “tacked on” over the years. It’s a classic scenario of the frog being cooked alive ever so slowly. With that said, my take on sales taxes is as follows.

 

  • Set a basic rate for the state, county, and municipal levels. This would be the default rate without any additions.
  • Any increases beyond the base rate must be approved by the voters. The proposal must lay out in plain language exactly what the funds are the be used for.
  • If the proposed increase is for a specific project (e.g. building new infrastructure), then the increase may only be temporary. The proposal must state exactly how long the increase is to remain in effect (e.g. 0.2% increase over 5 years to fund building a new transit station).
  • If the proposed increase is for something on-going (e.g. to fund operating the local library), then it is to be reviewed every X number of years.
  • All increases would be subject to a cap, with one assigned for the state, county, and municipal levels (e.g. each level can only increase the tax up to a maximum of 1% over the basic rate).

 

Finally, I would enshrine the above rules in the state constitution. That way, if any lawmaker comes up with the cute idea of simply “increasing the cap”, it would be very difficult.

 

Oregon is a special case since we have no sales tax already. Because of this, we must pay obscene income and property taxes. I do not believe it to be fair to have the entire burden shouldered by property owners and incomes. With that said, I would only vote in favour of a sales tax in Oregon if it was accompanied by a decrease in income and property taxes.

 

This is just a basic framework. Specifics such as where the caps should be set, whether or not any specific items should be exempt, etc ought to be determined by each state.

A Slap in the Face

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Yup, I found this bumper sticker at plaza downtown where the Red Line used to turn around. Someone has also reported seeing this sticker affixed to a Tri-Met vehicle.

Tri-met, Oregon’s largest transit agency, has been embroiled in a fight with union drivers over benefits for quite some time. I understand the fight and I am not here today to comment on it.

I just find this sticker (especially it being emblazoned on Tri-Met property) crass and distasteful. This is right on the eve of yet another fare hike and round of service cuts. As a regular bus rider and taxpayer, I feel like the screwed party here.

On a side note, I wrote this while riding the No 12 bus to my private sector job.

Just How is Chick-Fil-A Anti-LGBTQ?

Hate More GaysIt’s easy to go around crying “RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!! XYZ COMPANY IS ANTI-GAY!! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!” However, few seem to examine what specifically the company in question is/was doing that is so anti-LGBTQ. I found a great article on the Huffington Post that provides some well-cited insight on what specifically Chick-Fil-A does as a company to undermine the LGBTQ community. Because the Huffington Post conveyed this point so perfectly, I only intend to offer a brief summary and a list of relevant articles.

 

Ladies and gents, I bring you five specific things our faux-chickeny fast food chain has done (hint: follow the money)!

 

  1. They have contributed $5 million dollars to organizations that say gay people are pedophiles, that want to make gay behavior illegal, or they want to “export” gays from this country.
  2. Their president, Dan Cathy, has stated that supporting same-sex marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation”. He goes further to say that it is the result of a “deprived” mind and called it “twisted up kind of stuff”.
  3. They support and provide funding for organizations that “pray away the gay”.
  4. They have been involved in over a dozen cases of workplace discrimination. Truett Cathy has said he would likely fire someone for being “sinful”. Given their fundamentalist beliefs and their logic, he would probably fire someone for being an atheist or other non-Christian.
  5. The discrimination does not end at religion or LGBTQ matters. One woman is currently suing them for firing her so she may become a “stay at home mom”.

This goes far beyond a company and its leadership expressing their own beliefs. By providing funding to the sort of organizations listed in No 1 and 3, they are endorsing those positions. They are saying that gay should be “prayed away”, gays should be “exported” out of the country, etc. Numbers 2, 4, 5 are flat-out illegal as religion, gender, and marital status cannot be discriminated against.

 

Below is a list of sources.

 

I Am Back With a Chicken-Tasting Vengeance!

It has been ages since I have posted here largely due to life and work circumstances. Further, it often takes a good controversy to motivate me to write at all. With the impending election and our friends at Chick-Fil-A (amongst many other things), I have noticed a limitless buffet of controversy and fawkers to write about. With out further ado, let’s examine Chick-Fil-A and their fundy positions!

 

I will start off by saying that I have never personally eaten their food, so I cannot comment on that. With no locations within 300 miles (nearest Chick-Fil-As being in Boise and Sacramento), it just isn’t feasible.

 

Obviously, as a company they are very Christian and make a point to operate their business with those values as the first consideration. That is the part I think is great – we live in a country where we are all free to build an enterprise and shape that business according to our beliefs and values. Further, we are free to outwardly express those values to our customers in virtually any way we choose. That is what the First Amendment and being an American is about. The vast majority of my own beliefs and values are polar opposite to those of Chick-Fil-A, but I cherish the freedom of expression and thought that we both enjoy.

 

However, our constitution does not guarantee us the freedom from the consequences of our speech. You are free to go on a ledge and spout off any vitriolic hate speech you want. If you do, however, count on there being an aggressive counter-protest. Expect the crowds with the torches and pitch forks. The groups calling for Chick-Fil-A boycotts are just as free to express their disdain for the fast food chain. I think this is a very important aspect of the First Amendment that many seem to forget.

 

I find myself reminded of a similar (but roles reversed) situation not too long ago involving JC Penny. They hired Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson and have supported the GLBTQ community. There were calls of protests and boycotts of the retailer from the religious right. I witnessed conservatives picketing JC Penny stores, setting up Facebook pages, circulating petitions to have DeGeneres fired, etc. During all this, they [correctly] cited their free speech rights. I find it curious that those same conservatives balk at us providing Chick-Fil-A the same treatment they gave JC Penny.

 

The shoe is on the other foot, eh?

The shoe is on the other foot, eh?

 

In short, all of us are free to express our views by means of protest, boycotts, petitions, etc. That right is protected by our constitution. However, we are not protected from the consequences of our speech.

Family is Family and That’s That

Just a little break from the normal politics and fawkery…

I was strolling through the interwebs and came up with a post on Lifehacker that provides strategies on dealing with family members that drive one crazy. Read through the comments – oftentimes the comments are more interesting than the blog post itself.

A couple of the commenters appeared to be in their early to mid teens judging from the situations they describe. They talk about having hatred for their parents, not wanting to form/improve any kind of relationship with them, etc. For the sake of this post, I am assuming that these two people are not abused and are living fairly “typical” teenage lives.

Speaking as someone who has spent a quarter-century on this planet, I really hope these two people gain some perspective. In fact, one other person followed up with a comment that really resonates with the point I am wanting to convey here:

@yehoshua 

Step one: remember that some day, your mother will die. And remember that death is forever and ever. 

Step two: try and imagine what it will be like with her gone. Think of the silence where she once will have been. Think of the space where she once will have stood. Imagine the empty, barely-perceptible breeze in the living room, the kitchen, the hallway, that was once her body, flitting to and fro. 

Step three: while imagining what it will be like with her dead forever, add a whopping dollop of regret about the fact that, at some point, you stopped trying to connect with the person who squirted you out of a hole which, while flexible, is not normally bigger than your thumb. 

Step four: maybe try picturing her as your age. If she still has photos, check them out. Ask her what being your age was like for her. What hopes and dreams did she have in that carefree time before she gave them all up just to raise you? 

Step five: ask yourself: if she died tomorrow, instead of in twenty or so years, will you honestly want to have had the negative feelings about her that you do today? How might you feel then about how you feel now? 

(optional) Be super sad. When she asks about it, tell her the plain, honest truth. Let her hug you. Remember her hugging you; store it away for when she really does die, because you’re going to need that memory badly then. 

We all only have one shot at this game called life. Family – especially siblings – are among the few people who will be there with you from cradle to grave.

So The Banks in Portland are Being Shut Down?

That is the stated goal for the Occupiers today. Their antics have already resulted in the closure of the Steel Bridge which almost made my commute a no-go. Their tactics apparently involve marching to banks and businesses and sitting in.

I am curious to see what will happen when the owners of those private parcels of property ask the trespassers to leave? What about the privately-owned Steel Bridge (it is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad with leases to the city and Tri-Met)?

Further more, how does clogging up traffic for middle-class commuters trying to get to work going to help anything? Not one single top executive with any decision-making authority is in Portland. Fucking up the days of commuters and front-line workers in bank branches solves nothing.