Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Let Life Be Filled With Love And Fun... Live Fearlessly"

"The Truth Of What Could Be..."

United Nations "Free & Equal" Campaign
Our Indian brothers and sisters are at a crossroads in their nation today.  The path ahead perhaps leads to a bright new future or their continued oppression under colonial-era laws and attitudes towards same-gender-loving people.  The Indian Supreme Court is to soon revisit its ruling reversing a High Court decision that for a short time decriminalized same-sex relationships in the world's largest democracy.

Here the United Nations "Free & Equal" campaign presents the first-ever Bollywood music video for gay rights, featuring Bollywood star and Miss India winner Celina Jaitly.   The video, entitled "Welcome" presents a large family's reactions to meeting their favored son's beloved and creates a vision of the truth of what could be someday, that everyone's beloved should be welcomed into their family's hearts, regardless of their sexual orientation.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"This Is The Reason We Fight For Equality..."

"Sometimes In Advertising..."

"Selfie Love..."

"Selfie Love" - those beautiful, grainy, out-of-focus self-pics that capture the truth of true love...

"The Views To Love..."

"Because life should be a celebration, let love be its crowning moment..."

"We Were Always There..."

"Yes, it was bravery, but love was always brave..."

"The Truth About Why We Fight..."

Tennessee Wedding Venue Changes Policy, Will Now Host Same-Sex Ceremonies

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee wedding venue that told two Iraq war veterans they could not host their commitment ceremony because same-sex marriage is illegal, has changed its policy and will now open its facilities to same-sex couples.

Mint Springs Farm
Mint Springs Farm in Nolensville, Tenn., rose to national attention when it told Anthony Wilfert and Brian Blas that state law prohibiting same-sex marriage prevented them from hosting commitment ceremonious for same-sex couples. “Our hands are tied in this situation,” the owner told the couple in an email.

The couple called the owner’s response “a horrible excuse” for not wanting to hold a same-sex ceremony, and said citing a state law was both erroneous and “baffling.”

Now, after consulting with the Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide advocacy organization, Mint Springs Farm announced Tuesday it was changing its policy and will welcome same-sex couples for both weddings and commitment ceremonies.

“As owners of Mint Springs farm we have had time to regroup and reflect. We have reached out to the community and started a dialogue with Tennessee Equality Project. The Executive Director, Chris Sanders was able to meet with us. In order to move forward we have decided to change our policy,” Mint Springs said, in a statement released through the Tennessee Equality Project.

“We will offer commitment ceremonies for any future couples that have a legal license from other states or countries. We also want to broaden this offer to include couples who simply want a commitment ceremony with no intention of obtaining legal marriage license. This will be our policy moving forward, it will remain true to all future prospective clients,” the venue announced.

This is why every fight must be fought... Because right is right.

Thank You, Mint Springs Farm

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1683"

"Love Moves Inexorably To Life Together Forever..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Artist's Corner..."

By Kent Tucker

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Pride In Love Is Its Strength... Live Fearlessly"

"This Made Me Smile..."

from Maxim Magazine's "Beat This Caption" contest

"Adam and Andy..."

I love James Asal's "Adam and Andy" strip
Married life really is like this.

"Selfie Love..."

"Selfie Love" - those beautiful, grainy, out-of-focus self-pics that capture the truth of true love...

"Sometimes In Advertising..."

"We Were Always There..."

"Love and bravery live together..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1682"

"Where There Is Love, Also There Will Be Joy..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Truth Was Beautiful To See..."

A Gay Dad Recognizes His Real Life In Nabisco's Inclusive Honey Maid Ad

Rob Watson | The Next Family

I have always looked forward to Super Bowl Sundays. I did so for other reasons than most people do, however. It was not to watch “the game,” but rather, to go out and enjoy venues that were normally packed on a Sunday afternoon, now under-populated with the vast majority gathered around television sets across the nation. Last year, those plans changed when my son Jesse announced that he wanted to watch the game. Oh, where did I go wrong? (Kidding!)

I thought with his attention span, this would be a short-lived exercise, but it was not. He avidly absorbed the game and got into it for the full duration. “We were robbed by that black out,” he grumbled as he saw his team fight back, but come up short in the end. “Next year.”

His team did not get in this year, but as it turns out, his family, or a representation of us, did. Coca-Cola knocked out a surprise commercial featuring the diversity of America. It portrayed a diverse snapshot of the cultures, religions and orientations of our country all while voices sang “America the Beautiful” in different languages. About halfway through, there is the depiction of a gay family, two dads and their daughter, ice skating. It was the first time in history that a family such as mine was shown in a Super Bowl ad. It was a sixty-second rendition, but the waves it created have reached much further.

Waves of hatred for the commercial hit Twitter immediately, most around the complaint that America the Beautiful should only be sung in English, and most projecting more xenophobia than homophobia. Immigrants and non-whites were un-American to these offensive and offended voices.

The dissenters might be a bit distressed to know that it is unlikely the author of America the Beautiful herself would not be counted among their number. Katharine Lee Bates reportedly left the Republican party late in her life due to its growing xenophobia at the time. Moreover, the inclusion of a gay family would have likely been applauded by Ms. Bates as well. According to Biography, “Bates wrote a set of sonnets to honor her love Katharine Coman. She and Coman, both been professors at Wellesley, lived together for roughly 25 years. Bates was heartbroken over Coman’s death in 1915.”

Watching the commercial, I needed to be told that it featured a gay family. The footage moves fast, and literally, if you blink, you will have missed it. The inclusion is spelled out much more fully in the excellent video Coke released called “Coca-Cola -- It’s Beautiful -- Behind the Scenes.” Within this five minute video, one of the gay dads states, “It’s been very hard for my family when it comes to the gay issue, and it’s what caused us so much pain over all these years… Today I see people, you know, asking us to hold hands, people embracing us as a family and respecting us.” Another participant in the video states, “You should know who you are, you should embrace who you are.”

Recently, Nabisco stepped into a similar limelight with its commercial “Honey Maid: This is Wholesome.” The thirty second spot shows a baby, in the arms of a man. Another man comes and kisses the baby on the head.

This time, I did not miss the subtlety. The minute I saw that simple scene, I burst into tears. That was me. That was my family. While the Coke commercial may have made history for the Super Bowl, Nabisco made history for me. It was at that moment that I realized I had never, ever recognized my real life in a commercial before.

I realized that of all the millions of commercials I had seen, that I was relating to common humanity, but not my own life. There was not another instance in all of my lifetime of TV watching that gave me such a complete and total realization of self identification as seeing a gay dad, holding his baby, while another dad gave the baby a kiss.

I now understood what LGBT families had been missing in the landscape of America—we have been missing from the branding of the national consciousness. Naturally, there have been those who rudely trashed the Nabisco ad as they had done to the Coke ad before it. They did not get to me though or the euphoria of having a whisp of a thread in the public awareness known as the “TV commercial.”

They did not get to me because I see more clearly now what it is they want to take from us. The protest remarks are from ones who decry “normalizing” LGBT relationships and families. They do not want us to have dignity. They want our dignity, even if it is the simple dignity in being depicted in a commercial to hawk cookies. Or soft drinks. Even that is too much for them.

Dignity is a funny thing however. It is like the indelible ink my sons love so much to scrawl on the walls of their bedroom. It does not wipe off. It often does not scrub off. Once applied, you get to keep it.

So no, they can’t take this away from me, from us. We get to keep our newly applied dignity and wear it. We can now languish in the sun munching our graham crackers and drinking our Cokes. We are home.

Rob Watson is a writer for The Next Family and Evol Equals. He lives in Santa Cruz with his family.


I must confess I felt the same way when I saw the Nabisco commercial... There is something very powerfully affirming about seeing people like yourself depicted as a real part of our collective culture.  

And although I hadn't thought about buying Graham Crackers in many years (I used to buy them for my father when he was living), as a way of thanking Nabisco for daring to show the world that my life and my family was "wholesome" too, I bought and enjoyed a box.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Holy Sh*t...!"

 Rev. Joe Hoffman, senior minister at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C.
Courtesy Campaign for Southern Equality
United Church Of Christ Files Lawsuit Challenging N.C. Same-Sex Marriage Ban
My denomination — the United Church of Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies,” said a North Carolina minister. “But Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

Tony Merevick
April 28, 2014

The leadership body of the United Church of Christ, clergy, and same-sex couples in North Carolina filed a lawsuit Monday, challenging the state’s ban on marriage between same-sex couples and laws making it illegal for clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The lawyers filing the case, General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, say it is the only lawsuit challenging a state ban on marriage for same-sex couples that includes claims based on First Amendment religious freedom protections. In other words, same-sex couples in the case seek the right to marry in the state, while religious leaders and clergy seek the ability to perform wedding ceremonies for them.

“In addition to bringing 14th Amendment claims under equal protection and due process, this lawsuit introduces a First Amendment claim that the marriage ban in North Carolina violates the right to the free exercise of religious beliefs by denominations, clergy, and congregants who believe that same-sex marriages are theologically valid and want to perform marriage ceremonies,” said Jake Sussman, a partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in the suit.

North Carolina’s 2012 constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples states, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Another section of state law prohibits clergy from performing any ceremony of marriage without a marriage license having been obtained (reprinted below), and lawyers for the plaintiffs say those laws prohibit clergy from performing religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, even where allowed by their church and religious beliefs. As such, they argue, those restrictions violate their religious liberty.

“The core protection of the First Amendment is that government may not regulate religious beliefs or take sides in religious controversies,” said Jonathan Martel, a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and counsel in the case. “Marriage performed by clergy is a spiritual exercise and expression of faith essential to the values and continuity of the religion that government may regulate only where it has a compelling interest.”

With that argument, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, or the church’s leadership body, is leading the case as the main plaintiff. The church, a mainline Protestant denomination, has more than 150 congregations in North Carolina and over 1 million members nationally. In 2005, the church declared support for marriage equality, according to the suit. “The United Church of Christ has a rich history of boldly joining faith and action, and we filed this landmark lawsuit against the State of North Carolina to protect the religious freedom of our ministers — one of the essential freedoms of all Americans,” said the president and general minister of the UCC, Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, in a statement.

The UCC is joined by several other clergy from across the state, including Rev. Joe Hoffman of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C.; Rev. Nathan King of Trinity United Church of Christ in Concord, N.C.; and Rev. Nancy Kraft of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte, N.C., among other church leaders.

“As senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation,” Rev. Hoffman said. “My denomination — the United Church of Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies. But Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

The case, filed in U.S. District Court For the Western Division of North Carolina, also includes six same-sex couples, many of which are members of these congregations.


What will they do if we prevail on the merits of their ban being a violation of our religious freedoms and the 1st Amendment?  The christianists and other haters must all be going, OMG and Holy Sh*t!

I have to admit, this made me smile...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Artist's Corner..."

Oil on panel
Cody Furguson

Monday, April 28, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Love Is Happiness And Freedom... Live Fearlessly"

"A Thought To Ponder..."

"Because Fear Eats The Soul..."

 War Veterans denied a Wedding Venue in Tennessee
Same-Sex Couple Given Approval By Wedding Venue, Then Denied

Forrest Sanders
April 27, 2014

WSMV Channel 4 

NOLENSVILLE, TN -Two Iraq War veterans said they'd picked the perfect venue for their same-sex commitment ceremony. They said just days after employees told them they could hold their ceremony there, the owner called it off, saying they can't host the event until same-sex marriage is legal in Tennessee.

"It's pretty disheartening," said Anthony Wilfert of Nolensville. "I would've thought in 2014 that we're a lot more ahead of our time than we are."

Wilfert and Brian Blas became a couple nine years ago while serving with Fort Campbell.

"We served under Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said Wilfert.

Looking for a place to hold a commitment ceremony, Wilfert and Blas said an employee took them on a tour of Mint Springs Farm where they believed the rustic charm and fences along winding roads would be the perfect backdrop. The website even says, 'Mint Springs Farm is an all-inclusive venue.'

"I made it clear from the get-go that it was a same-sex ceremony," said Wilfert. "He explicitly made it clear that it was not an issue, that they would host that type of ceremony."

Wilfert and Blas said days after two employees told them it'd be fine to hold their ceremony at the venue, they got an e-mail from an owner at Mint Springs Farm reading, "Unfortunately, until same sex marriage is legal in the state of Tennesse, we cannot participate in this ceremony at our venue. I wish we could help, I truly do, but our hands are tied in this situation."

"It is a private venue," said Wilfert. "We purposefully chose a place that is not tied to a religious organization for that reason, so to mention something about state law is baffling."

"I just think it's a really horrible excuse for not wanting to host something," said Blas.

In a statement to Channel 4, an owner at Mint Springs Farm said, "We are deeply sorry that a staff member of ours was unaware of our policy and truly understand the disappointment of this couple. Our employee was simply trying to be helpful to this couple who visited our venue after hours.

We only do weddings at our facility. When we went into this endeavor, we knew that due to the nature of our business, this situation would arise. However, Tennessee law currently states that same-sex marriage is prohibited by the Tennessee State Constitution. Because we only host weddings, we cannot violate Tennessee law.

This decision does not in any way reflect or convey any personal feelings on this matter.
We wish this couple the very best."

"To have fought in the military for freedoms and liberties of all Americans, it can be quite deflating to come back to fight a whole new set of obstacles," said Wilfert.

As for Wilfert and Blas, they said they're making new plans for a day friends and family can gather to celebrate their nine years.

"We'll go somewhere else, and I think that'll make for a better wedding at the end of the day," said Blas.


Despite so many victories in our struggle for equal rights and dignity, we must still endure this...? As bad as this is, the owners of Mint Springs Farm only made matters worse when they decided to fall back on the "we're just following the law" excuse.  That they couldn't even tell the truth about their real reasons for refusing to host the ceremony speaks volumes about how far we have yet to go in the battle for equality... 

If I had to guess about the owners of Mint Springs Farm, they probably don't care one way or another about who gets married (or same-sex committed) at their venue, but they got scared of a hateful backlash in their rural community.  At the end of the day, they chose to stand with the haters rather than risk their profits to stand with these two war veterans on the right side of history.  It's a sad truth, but...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth About Love..."

"Love is the force that transforms and improves the soul of the world." 

- Paulo Coelho 

"A Life Lived In Fear Is A Life Half-Lived..."

EFF: Gay Dating Sites Being Used To Entrap Men Across Middle East

Nick Duffy
April 27, 2014

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned that gay dating sites are being used by police to entrap men across the Middle East.

The group states that cases of entrapment have been reported in several countries where homosexuality is illegal, and that police are frequently using apps to convince men to meet them, before arresting them.

A 30-year-old man was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012, after asking men out for dates over Facebook.

The group wrote: “In countries where homosexuality remains taboo or punishable by law, it makes sense for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and other queer-identifying people to explore their sexual identity online.

“But the Internet is increasingly becoming a risky place for exploration.

“More and more governments in the region are using digital surveillance to entrap, arrest, detain, and harass individuals who visit LGBTQ websites or chat rooms, or who use social media to protest homophobic laws and social stigmas.

“Meanwhile, nationwide filtering and complicit Internet search companies have censored content relating to homosexuality by blocking websites and restricting keyword searches in countries like Sudan, Yemen, and across the Gulf region.

“State censorship of sexual content abounds online, and LGBTQ content in particular is frequently a target. Support and health websites, and LGBTQ publications are regularly shut down or become inactive.”


When we are forced to live in secret, we become easy prey for those who would seek to destroy us...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The GIFt of Love..."

"Love is bravely unafraid..."

"Selfie Love..."

"Selfie Love" - those beautiful, grainy, out-of-focus self-pics that capture the truth of true love...

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1681"

"Love Is The Celebration Of Life..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"We Were Always There..."

"It wasn't legal then, but it was real for us, we were in love..."

"The Artist's Corner..."

"On The Elevator"
Acrylic on canvas
Chris Phillips

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!

"Love Is The Only Necessary Journey In Life... Live Fearlessly"

"This Made Me Smile..."

"So True..."

"The Things That Love Says..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth About Love..."

"The problem with being passionately in love ... is that it deprives you of too much sleep."

- Dan Simmons

"The View To Love..."

"Happiness is easy, it comes from love..."

"We Were Always There..."

"It was our summer of love..."

"A Thought To Ponder..."

When you love someone, you don't have a choice.

Cassandra Clare

"Selfie Love..."

"Selfie Love" - those beautiful, grainy, out-of-focus self-pics that capture the truth of true love...

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