Becoming the Guy Who Yells At the Small Town Newspaper

We won’t move to our new house in Winchester for another week—but I’ve already written my first grumpy message to the editor of the local flagship newspaper. Lord help me. I read my soon-to-be-hometown paper for the first time and, lo and behold, 4 of the 5 editorial pieces are slamming gay people. Are you kidding me?  If this isn’t a fluke, I predict I’ll be the offline version of “angry article comment writing guy” in no time.  Kyle will have to hide my quill and ink lest I send old-fashioned newspaper rants every day.get-off-my-lawn

Not until opening that editorial page did I realize how insulated I have been since high school (and coming out)–living in reliable, friendly places for social liberals–Champaign, Chicago, DC, Reston.  Winchester, VA is much more like my hometown of Bradley, IL…except with a slightly more conservative bite. I’m not complaining, local politics are much more fun when there is real disagreement. I’m looking forward to it.

I only write this post for two reasons: (1) To have a place to post this, because I’m sure the newspaper won’t touch it; (2) To remind those interested that we are nearing VERY important Supreme Court arguments that will decide the gay rights issue once and for all (April 28th). Fingers crossed.

Anyway, what I sent the honorable Adrian O’Connor, editorial chief of the venerable Winchester Star:

Is Winchester welcoming of all couples? On a recent editorial page (Friday, April 3rd), four of the five pieces directly or indirectly referenced same-sex couples as bullies, fanatical activists, or downright threats to society.

angryOne piece in particular (“For all the re-definition…) sought to warn the community of looming disaster if the United State Supreme Court upholds lower court rulings that would allow my fiance and I to marry. We are a gay couple and are exciting about moving to the area after buying a home in the Winchester Historic District. The editorial noted that our marriage would not be “normal” because our “chosen sexual behavior isn’t natural.” It went on to suggest that our marriage must be stopped for the sake of the children and grandchildren of Winchester. Really? I would assume, considering that the lives of children are apparently threatened if gay couples marry, that the author would much prefer if my fiance and I did not move into the area at all.  

The editorial argues that gay couples should not be given the right to marry because “the differences in motives, purposes, and practices that define homosexual and heterosexual unions are so great that the English language screams for definitive specificity.” By writing that sentence, I can only assume that the author does not actually know any gay couples.

To allay our future neighbors’ fears, we’d like to share the “motives, purposes, and practices that define our homosexual union.” We are getting married as a lifelong commitment…

  • To Provide one another with unerring emotional support during life’s inevitable challenges.
  • To Have a constant companion to share in life’s joys and triumphs.
  • To Build and care for a home, sprucing up our small corner of the world.
  • To Act as a strong unit to give back to our community in volunteer work, tax dollars, and participation in local organizations.
  • To Protect each of us individually from financial setbacks or career challenges.
  • To Blend our collective families, providing a larger net of trusted friends and confidants.  
  • To Challenge each other to grow beyond our own interests and explore new ideas, hobbies, and adventures.
  • To Push one another to pursue our real passions, regardless of our fears or worries
  • To Provide love, support, and care for a child who needs a safe and stable home.
  • To Ensure care, aid, and support to one another as we age, become disabled, and need to adapt in the twilight of life.
  • To Be a final smiling face one as we transition from this life to whatever lies beyond.

Sexual orientation has zero bearing on the motives, purposes, and practices of two individuals spending their lives together. Allowing my fiance and I to share in the benefits and obligations of marriage will not only benefit us personally, it will also make our new Winchester community stronger.

Let’s Do This Already; I’m Getting Exhausted

 Have you seen Abraham Lincoln/Illinois Outline/Marriage Equality pictures on Facebook recently? That’s because the Illinois General Assembly holds its first “veto session” next week: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday (Oct. 22-24).

That means we have yet another chance to finally allow same-sex couples to marry. You’ll likely be hearing a lot about this in the next few days. Here is a quick primer:

1) To pass in its current form, the bill needs 71 votes in the House. That is a high hurdle, because we could not even get 60 votes last May. However, the bill can be amended to change the start date (for next June) at which point it would only need 60 votes. We are VERY close to having those 60 votes.

Rep. Kate Cloonen is about to cast a vote on behalf of Kankakee County against equal rights.
Rep. Kate Cloonen is about to cast a vote on behalf of Kankakee County against equal rights.

2) A few representatives are still undecided. The single most important thing you can do right now is send a personalized email/message/call to your representative. GO HERE to send a message or LOOK AT THIS POST for contact information.

*A special note for those in Kankakee, Bradley, and Bourbonnais. Democrat Kate Cloonen met with the local equal rights organization this Wednesday at Family House Restaurant (my favorite breakfast spot on the planet, so I took this personal). At the meeting she said that she does not believe gay people in Illinois should be able to marry. Please take a moment now to kindly ask her to re-consider. Voting to keep people unequal (in the Land of Lincoln, of all places) should be embarrassing.


3) If you end up in polite discussion with opponents of equality this week (I hope so), here’s a quick Argument Cheat Sheet

  • Claim A: I do not support this, because I believe it attacks religious liberty. Christians should not be sued because they do not want to participate in these ceremonies.

–Religious liberty is important. That is why the bill does not force any church to perform services against their wishes. Also, the bill makes ZERO changes to discrimination laws in the state. A completely separate law governs non-discrimination rules in Illinois. In other words, passing this bill will not in any way impact the rights or obligations of any religious person or entity.

  • Claim B: I do not support this, because I believe all children deserve a mother and a father. 

–Great. But permitting a loving couple to get married in no way impacts the parentage of children.  Please do not use children as an excuse to perpetuate inequality.

  • Claim C: I do not support this, because gay couples already have civil unions; they just care about the word marriage. 

–Actually, gay couples in Illinois who have a civil union DO NOT receive federal marriage benefits (i.e. Social Security rights, estate tax breaks, +1,000 others). That is because the federal government does not recognize civil unions, but they do recognize marriage.


Earlier this week a GOP State Representative from the Naperville-Wheaton area, Jeanne Ives, said this in a radio interview with the Catholic Conference of Illinois:

“ It’s a completely disordered relationship and when you have a disordered relationship, you don’t ever get order out of that. So I’m more than happy to take a ‘no’ vote on the issue of homosexual marriage.”

“They’re trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy. And we can’t allow that to happen…To not have a mother and a father is really a disordered state for a child to grow up in and it really makes that child an object of desire rather than the result of a matrimony.”

Today, Chicago Representative Greg Harris–the man leading the fight for equal rights in the House–has this on his agenda per Facebook…

Another day of fighting for equality, fairness and otherwise weaseling my way into acceptability.

In other news, while many some Illinois Democrats are showing their allergy to courage, the first sitting Republican Senator announced he has changed course and supports the right for all couples to marry – Rob Portman of Ohio (whispered to be a possible 2016 GOP Presidential candidate).  In a touching interview he explained how the reversal was caused entirely by his son’s decision to come out to him.  His son is now a junior in college.  One person at a time…

Others Are Yelling – Don’t Stay Silent

“In the end we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– MLK Jr.

Large church congregations are sending mass emails, calls, and flyers to Illinois legislators urging them to ensure gay couples remain less than under the law.  The leading anti-gay organization in the state, the Illinois Family Institute, is telling congregations to pass out this flyer.  Among other things, the flyer claims that if gay couples are treated equally then….

gay-marriage-banner“CHILDREN, in some cases, will be deliberately deprived of the opportunity to
be raised by a mother and father.”

Apparently honesty is not an important commandment when playing politics.

We cannot allow ridiculous scare tactics to sway legislators into continuing discrimination.  One swing Democrat in the northern part of the state just announced that she is going vote to deny equal rights after a large church group  screamed at a recent public hearing.  That large group was mostly made up of  a congregation that arrived in a bus with a banner on the side reading “Say No to Same Sex Marriage.”

We will always have diverse religious beliefs.  But individual religious opinion about any issue can never be an excuse to deny equal rights to certain members of the community.  It was wrong when it was used to treat women as inferior.  It was wrong when it was used to treat African Americans as second-class.  And it is wrong to deny equality to same sex couples.

Thirty years from now I want to look back and know that I did not stand idly by while injustice prevailed…I want to tell my grandchildren that I used my voice to say: Enough!  I hope you feel the same.  More than ever before, NOW is our time to do something.


Reminder: Please take a moment to send a message to Rep. Kate Cloonen to let her know that our community is made stronger when gay couples in love are treated the same as everyone else. Also, please share with friends and family to ensure they do the same.

(1) Facebook message HERE

(2) Send her an email (

(3) Call her office (815) 939-1983

[Don’t forget…mention your address or that of relatives if you live in the area]

Let’s Win This

gay couple 2

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts transform the world.”

My dear family & friends-

I spent the first twenty years of my life berating myself over whether I should keep quiet about my sexual orientation.  What would people think?  Would I be ridiculed?  Who would joke about me when I wasn’t around?  Who would be disappointed?  Would my life be worse?

Guess what happened?  A lot changed.  And I’ve never been happier.

The people that matter most in my life didn’t just support me: You became my biggest defenders.  There is nothing so sweet as having others standing at your side, ready to challenge those trying to bring you down or treat you unfairly.  Every day I am humbled by those who stand up for love, fairness, and equality–even when it isn’t popular.  I know you don’t have to do it.  But you do.   And it means the world to me.

No good deed goes unpunished.  If you have any gas left in the tank, I would be so grateful if you could take one last step to finally end this battle in Illinois and ensure our state treats everyone the same, including people like me.  As you might have heard, in early January legislators in Springfield will vote on a bill that would allow same sex couples to solidify their loving relationship by way of a marriage. gay couple 3

The chief sponsor of the bill explains: “It’s very straightforward.  We treat all couples with the same respect and dignity in the eyes of the law and we protect the rights of religious institutions to either consecrate or not consecrate marriages within their faith as they see fit. It’s very important that government not involve itself in religion on either side of the issue.”

Here’s the reality: Right now, internal counts of those legislators show that we may not have the votes.  It is very close, but some representatives are unsure.  They will make up their mind based on how their constituents voice their opinion.

That is why I am urging you to take 5 minutes to draft a very simple email and send it to your State Representative and State Senator, asking them to treat all Illinois residents fairly by supporting marriage equality.

It does not have to be long or time-consuming.  But by typing out a few sentences and hitting the send button, you may be the tipping point.  All you need to include is this:


1) Share you name, that you are a voter in Illinois, and indicate where you live.  It makes a big difference if the lawmaker knows that you are a constituent in their own district.  Say if there are multiple voters in your household (or, better yet, have each one send an email).

2) Urge them to vote in favor of marriage equality.  You can say this in one sentence or fifty.

That’s it.  More than at any other time, that simple act can make a real difference.  This is not like casting a vote for President when you know what the outcome will be in Illinois.  It is VERY close, and every single email counts tremendously. Lesbian couple

It would be great if you could do this right now…as you are reading this.  Because if you don’t do it now, you might forget.  Life is hectic.  Below you will find a list of legislators and email addresses.

Please send a message now explaining where you stand.

Forever grateful-



Not sure who your legislators are?  Go to this site, type in your address, and get their names, then come back here to get their email from the list below….

1) Step #1: FIND YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS: HERE (Remember to look for your STATE Representative and STATE Senator)

2) Step #2: Find their names below (alphabetical) and send them a quick email.  You should send one to your State Rep. AND one to your State Senator.  If two email addresses are listed for that person, send them to both addresses.

NAME                          EMAIL #1                                            EMAIL #2

Edward J. Acevedo
Pamela Althoff
Luis Arroyo
Jason Barickman
Mark H. Beaubien, Jr.
Daniel V. Beiser
Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock
Maria Antonia (Toni) Berrios
Daniel K. Biss
Tim Bivins
Larry K. Bomke
Mike Bost
John E. Bradley
Bill Brady
Dan Brady
Rich Brauer
Adam M. Brown
Daniel J. Burke
Kelly M. Burke
William D. ‘Will” Burns
J. Bradley Burzynski
John Cavaletto
Linda Chapa-LaVia
James F. Clayborne, Jr.
Franco Coladipietro
Sandy Cole
Jacqueline “Jacqui” Y. Collins
Annazette R. Collins
Marlow H. Colvin
Michael G. Connelly
Fred Crespo
Tom Cross
M. Maggie Crotty
John J. Cullerton
Shane Cultra
Bill Cunningham
Barbara Flynn Currie
John D’Amico
Monique D. Davis
William “Will” Davis
Anthony DeLuca
William Delgado
Kirk W. Dillard
Dan Duffy
Lisa M. Dugan
Kenneth Dunkin
Jim Durkin
Roger L. Eddy
Keith Farnham
Sara Feigenholtz
Mary E. Flowers
Gary Forby
LaShawn Ford
Mike Fortner
Jack D. Franks
Michael W. Frerichs
Robyn Gabel
Susan Garrett
Esther Golar
Careen Gordon
Jehan Gordon
William R. “Bill” Haine
Norine K. Hammond
Don Harmon
Greg Harris
David Harris
Kay Hatcher
Chad D Hays
Rickey R. Hendon
Elizabeth Hernandez
Thomas “Tom” Holbrook
Linda Holmes
Constance A.”Connie” Howard
Mattie Hunter
Toi W Hutchinson
Eddie Lee Jackson Sr.
Mike Jacobs
Naomi D. Jakobsson
Charles E. “Chuck” Jefferson
Thomas Johnson 
Emil Jones, III
John O Jones
Thaddeus Jones
Dwight Kay
David Koehler
Renee Kosel
Dan Kotowski
Louis I. Lang
Chris Lauzen
David R. Leitch
Kimberly A. Lightford
Camille Lilly
Terry Link
David Luechtefeld
Joseph M. Lyons
Michael J. Madigan
Edward D. Maloney
Iris Y. Martinez
Sidney H. Mathias
Frank J. Mautino
Karen May
Rita Mayfield
Emily McAsey
Michael P. McAuliffe
William “Sam” McCann 
Kyle McCarter
Kevin A. McCarthy
Jack McGuire
James T. Meeks
Deborah L. Mell
Susana Mendoza
John Millner
Jerry L. Mitchell
Bill Mitchell
Thomas R. “Tom” Morrison
Richard Morthland
Rosemary Mulligan
John G. Mulroe
Matt Murphy
Michelle Mussman
Antonio “Tony” Mu√±oz
Elaine Nekritz
Michael Noland
Chris Nybo
Jo Ann Osmond
Harry Osterman
Carole Pankau
Brandon W. Phelps
Sandra M. Pihos
Raymond Poe
Robert Pritchard
Christine Radogno
Harry R. Ramey,Jr.
Kwame Raoul
Dennis Reboletti
David B. Reis
Dan Reitz
Sue Rezin
Dale A. Righter
Al Riley
Dale E. Risinger
Robert “Bob” Rita
Chapin Rose
Wayne Arthur Rosenthal
Pam Roth
Jim Sacia
Ronald L. Sandack
Martin A. Sandoval
Angelo “Skip” Saviano
Suzi Schmidt
Timothy L. Schmitz
Jeffrey M. Schoenberg
Darlene J. Senger
Carol Sente
Ira I. Silverstein
Keith P. Sommer
Joe Sosnowski
Cynthia Soto
Heather Steans
Ron Stephens
John M. Sullivan
Ed Sullivan, Jr.
Dave Syverson
Andre Thapedi
Jil Tracy
Donne E. Trotter
Michael W. Tryon
Arthur L. Turner
Michael D. Unes
Patrick Verschoore
Louis S. Viverito
Jim Watson
Arthur J. ( A.J.) Wilhelmi
Ann M. Williams
Dave Winters
Karen A. Yarbrough
Michael Zalewski

Push Us Together

A beautiful wedding video.  It’s long-ish (13 minutes), but one of the best of this sort that I have seen.  These things are great reminders that this isn’t about “winning” or “politics” but love and respect.

 “We do not live in a silo; we live in a community.  If they like our decisions or they don’t like or decisions, they are still our family.  They are the people that are going to be there when it is the hardest.  And we don’t want them to pull us apart.  We want them to push us together.  So that’s what a marriage means for us.”

It Hurts

Last Wednesday my Facebook feed–like yours–was filled with images of ecstatic faces jammed in long lines at Chick-fil-A stores.  “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” was a resounding success judging by the repeated cheers of record profits and stores that literally ran out of chicken.

It should be easy to brush off as yet another silly charade in the merry-go-round culture wars.  One side boycotting chicken sandwiches and the other side gobbling them up.  I’ve been a babbling part of those culture wars for a few years now, and I generally don’t take any of it too personally.  But  I must confess–those grinning faces waiting in line last week stung a bit.  Perhaps it was because I saw comments and photos about it from a wide range of folks I considered genuine pals…high school friends, college friends, family members. 

They were damn-near giddy to be sending a symbolic message that they were not on my side.  That’s what really hit home–the excitement to be lined up against people like me.  The happiness at joining the ranks and letting us know that we were wrong and they were right.

Since then I’ve been thinking deeply about what motivated those who supported the Appreciation Day.  What would motivate someone to drive dozens of miles and wait hours for a chicken sandwich?  Or to forward messages of support to the Boys Scouts for excluding a certain group of people that they don’t like?

All I could think of was Christianity.   The majority of those folks were motivated in various ways by their faith and how it informs their opinion of issues of sexuality.  All the political fights are just a proxy of that basic issue.

I am not a biblical scholar, but I’ve read the Bible cover to cover.  I am not a historian, but I’ve trudged through Diarmaid MacCullough’s celebrated  1,000 page tome, Christianity: The First Thousand Years.  I’ve attended various services in many Christian denominations.  And I’ve had many conversations about the Christian faith.  After all of that I can say unequivocally that I am not a Christian.

But I was still thinking I could use the Bible itself to discourage this sort of conduct, referencing something like this…

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself.” – Romans 2:1-2

But then again, they could just come back and spit out any number of alternatives, like…

“And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations.” – Ezekiel 22:2 (ESV)

Plucking out verses is no help.  All I can say is that the conduct of so-many professed Christians on these issues makes me so very sad.  I am not sad because I disagree with them.  I am sad because their conduct is incredibly harmful to some of the most vulnerable people.  Let me be clear: smiling at “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” and cheering on the Boy Scouts for banning gay people hurts others deeply.

Who is hurt?  Not me so much.  I was lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive and loving family.  And I’ve found a partner (and second family) equally as loving and welcoming.

Others are not so lucky.

There is a false perception of the gay community.  Those eating chicken on Wednesday likely think all gay people attend parades and political rallies. They may assume that all gay people are loud, vocal advocates filled with pride and without fear.  That is not true.  Those at rallies and parades are the exception.

Hundreds of thousands of gay individuals, many teens, are living in hiding, filled with self-loathing, and without hope that their own future can ever be normal.     The suicide rate among this group is scandalous.  What do you think these mass public displays of animosity  toward the gay community does to those teens teetering on the edge?

Last week there were thousands, literally thousands, of tweets like this…

Going to Chick-fil-A cause I hate fags ‪#Merica

yall faggots n dikes can serve n the military openly now yaw wanna take chick-fil-a from us. smh

Oh, I BEG you to go. Please, please, PLEASE go to Chick-fil-A and try to beat up some faggots. ‪#rudeawakening

Everybody needs to eat chick-fil a. Down with the faggots!! ‪#queerspolutingthiscountry

I love chick Fil a even more , now that they hate queers.

Hell no all this fags talking about walking in to chick-fil-a and kissing each other… Hell no whos down to shoot the place up?? Lmao

There are teens living every day around people who make these comments.  They would never dream of saying a word to anyone about their inborn sexual orientation.  They live in constant fear and often have little hope for the future.  And then they see a line out the door at their local Chick-fil-A, a forceful reminder of the contingent in their community that thinks they are disordered or sinful or disgusting or abnormal.

Those who showed pride in eating at Chik-fil-A last week should know that very vulnerable people saw it, felt it, and were stabbed by it.

I’m not sure whose lives were made better by Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day, but I know many lives that were made a bit worse.