List of organizations providing Disaster Relief

Just received an e-mail from Mel White & Gary Nixon at Soulforce. While I don't always agree with them or their organization, I do agree with their latest message encouraging people to donate to charitable organizations "providing relief to the victims of the quake and tsunamis." Click here for a list of organizations providing Disaster Relief in Southeast Asia.

Beauty & Gay Reality in San Francisco

I write this post in San Francisco where I am visiting the PatriotSisterWest (who lives here) and the PatriotMotherWest (who came out here to see her California kids). (My remaining siblings live in the Midwest and New York.)

Every time I come to San Francisco, I am struck by the charm, the loveliness of this town, built on what is perhaps the most stunning natural setting of any major American city. I love looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge, especially when shrouded in fog. What a magnificent combination of natural and man-made beauty. And looking out on the Bay, during the day where you can see the contours of the hills behind the houses and skyscrapers or at night when myriad lights twinkle in front of the dark outlines of those hills. On Friday, we had lunch at the Cliff House and between bites, we would turn north to see late afternoon shadows darkening the magnificent headlands of Marin County and west to watch the setting sun create spectacular patterns of light on the Pacific Ocean.

And no matter where we ate, the food has been amazing, from the most tender spicy chicken at Paul K my first night here to delicious ginger & garlic chicken with broccoli at Aux Delices. (Franco-Vietnamese food) tonight.

That first night, after our wonderful meal at Paul K's, my sister took my Mom and me to a drag show. I am perhaps the only gay man whose straight sister would take him to a drag show that he would otherwise not have attended.

I did find much of the show amusing, but, as I watched I noted how anti-Bush jokes in particular and anti-Republican jokes in general seemed a staple of gay humor. In that crowd the anti-Bush jokes earned the largest laughs and the loudest applause. It is commonplace for gay entertainers to do -- as those drag queens did -- and make scatological references about the Republican president. Or otherwise make jokes at the expense of President Bush and the GOP.

It's not just our entertainers. A lesbian friend once e-mailed a joke to all those in her address book where the punch line was that the president was stupid.

Now, I'm all in favor of political humor. It is a sign of free society when humorists can readily make fun of our leaders -- and do so in public fora. We should encourage such mockery. It reminds us that our leaders are human. And it is an essential aspect of political speech, a means to criticize politicians while having a chuckle at their expense.

That said, the drag show I saw Thursday night reminded me (yet again) why it's so difficult for gay people to come out as Republicans. Our entertainers take it as a given that we will laugh at anti-Republican jokes, no matter how crude, no matter how mean. Humorists assume that gay (and gay-friendly) audiences all cast Republicans as the villain. That we all see the world the same way they do.

To counter this, gay Republicans should be braver than I had been for much of my time in California; we should be more open about our politics. To be sure, the largely gay crowd's warm reaction even to the meanest of anti-Bush jokes Thursday night reminds us how difficult that task can be. Too many gay people assume the worst about Republicans -- and those who support them. Nonetheless, our entertainers may stop taking it as a given that gay audiences are anti-Republican when gay Republicans start coming out and making clear that gay and lesbian Americans do not all share the same political world view.

A Nation Divided? I don't think so

After spending Thanksgiving with my family in the great red state of Ohio, I wonder at those who define our great land as a nation divided. My Kerry-supporting sisters and mother don't love me (or my brothers and sisters-in-law) any less for supporting a president they all worked so hard to defeat.

Outside of New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, college towns and other very "blue islands" (as Dirty Harry would put it) in our increasingly red country, most Americans don't feel themselves alienated from their fellow citizens just because they voted for different candidates for president -- even in an election as divisive as the one just passed.

A story my sister-in-law (who like a majority of married women voted to reelect our man W) related confirms this. A friend of hers called her inviting her to a fundraiser for Senator Kerry. My sister-in-law declined politely saying that they while she disagreed with the president on some issues, she planned on voting for him. Their conversation was cordial. They exchanged pleasantries and politely ended the conversation.

As my sister-in-law reports when next she met this woman, nothing had changed. Their friendship continues despite the political difference.

Now, we all have stories of how our political adversaries have insulted us or cast us aside when they learn that we are conservatives or that **GASP** we voted for George W. Bush. And the rudeness of their response makes these stories stand out. They make more interesting anecdotes than the one my sister-in-law shared. Yet, more often than not, our relationships with our political adversaries resemble her story more than they do those of the name-calling left.

This is not to suggest that this blog will (from now on) ignore stories of liberal intolerance of conservatives, particularly conservative gays. Quite to the contrary. We will continue to report them and wonder at their hatred. But, the evidence continues to mount that while this mean-spirited voices of intolerance often drown out other more sensible sounds in our universities and our cultural centers, they remain a minority in our society.

My sister-in-law told a tale of the real America -- and told of a woman who, unlike many of Senator Kerry's staunchest advocates, resembles most closely the overwhelming majority of those who cast their votes for him last November 2.

Or so I hope.

Log Cabin's unusual way to work with the administration -- take it to court

This morning I received Log Cabin's latest Urgent "Action Alert," requesting money for Log Cabin's lawsuit to overturn the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy codifying (but modifying) the ban on gays in the military.

While I support Log Cabin's desire to overturn this unnecessary ban, I believe that we risk a backlash by turning to the courts to define military policy. Now, I agree that this is a bad law and quite possibly unconstitutional as the Constitution (Article II, Section 2) makes the President the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Before Clinton and the Democratic Congress of 1993 meddled in this, it was the executive branch which set policy on gays in the military. Without the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, the president, by the stroke of a pen, could have repealed the law.

Log Cabin's goal, however, is not to return military policy to where it belongs, the executive branch, but to deliver it to another branch of government, the judicial. And by doing this, they risk the same backlash that we saw in thirteen state referenda this past year (eleven in November, in Missouri and Louisiana earlier this year) when citizens responded to the Massachusetts judicial fiat changing the definition of marriage. Since states can't define federal military policy through referenda, should Log Cabin succeed at the judicial level to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," expect a move from proponents of the ban on gays in the military to seek a constitutional amendment excluding gays in the military.

Instead of raising $50,000 to provide "every resource" to its legal team, Log Cabin should be working to raise money to lobby Congress to overturn the ban.

But, unfortunately, like the gay rights' organizations of the left, Log Cabin seeks to bypass the people and their elected representatives and go to the courts. At a time when Log Cabin should be building bridges with the GOP, it is instead diverting its resources to a battle which will do little to help it gain favor in Republican circles. Indeed, by making this fight their primary post-election project, Log Cabin's leadership undermines Patrick Guerriero's November 8 letter where he wrote, "More important than winning in the courts of America is the harder work all of us must do to win over the hearts and minds of the American people."

Instead of devoting its limited resources to winning over the hearts and minds of the American people, Log Cabin is using them in an attempt to win the courts. In the unlikely case that they win this one in the courts, they risk a backlash from the people they claim they wish to influence.

It's not a strategy to win the hearts and minds of the American people. It's not a strategy to influence the political party they claim to support.

Few Republicans believe any more that Log Cabin is a Republican organization. It's been more than a month since the Republican president was reelected and Log Cabin has yet to issue a statement congratulating him on his victory. They haven't even praised him for welcoming the vice president's daughter and her lesbian partner on stage when he claimed victory. Nor have they issued any statement showing the common ground they share with this Republican president's second-term agenda.

In that November 8 letter, Patrick also wrote that Log Cabin "must find a way to work with [the president] and his administration over the next four years." With Log Cabin's e-mail today, it appears Log Cabin has found a most unusual way to work with that administration. He has yet to praise the president and yet his organization's first post-election fundraising appeal is for resources to take his administration to court.