Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all

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By the time Americans graduate high school, we’ve repeated those words hundreds – if not thousands – of times.

If they mean anything to you, we have a lot of work to do.

We lost control of this nation. Uncle Sam pitted cruise control against autopilot while we were distracted in the back seat, drunk with arrogance, and became assholes.

Our allegiance to each other deteriorated and we collectively blacked out. We woke up in a ditch – face-down, ass-up – just in time to elect President Trump.

Now we’re in some sort of ongoing episode of Scared Straight.

A wake-up call of this magnitude – as ugly and disturbing as it’s been – is a blessing. It was loud and painful. We all felt it in different ways and now realize the once in a lifetime opportunity before us.

I believe in this country and I believe in Americans.

The 21st century turns 18 next January. Let’s graduate to the next level. This opportunity is too big to fail. Level heads will prevail. Humanity will prevail.

Otherwise, this is basically Lost in real life.

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Who won’t turn 40 this year?

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Matthew Shepard won’t celebrate his 40th birthday on December 1, 2016. He hasn’t celebrated his birthday for 18 years. 

Cause of death: Homicide

On October 6, 1998, Matthew, 21, was lured from a bar in Laramie, WY. He thought he was getting a ride home. Instead, he was driven to a rural area where he was beaten, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die. A cyclist discovered him 18 hours later. What he thought was a scarecrow, was Matthew in a coma.

Matthew died on October 12, 1998, the way no human should. He passed away laying in a hospital bed in Fort Collins, CO.

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Matthew was murdered because he was gay. Aaron McKinney, 22, and Russell Henderson, 21, are serving life terms. They deserve it.

What they didn’t deserve was growing up in a country whose government politicizes civil rights by planting deep seeds of discrimination and hate toward fellow Americans who are diverse in different ways.

Two administrations later, we spend money faster than technology evolves. Yet, our politics traveled back in time.

Both parties are guilty. The LGBT was ignored by one and attacked by the other. At least attacking acknowledges existence. Without the attacks, would we still be ignored? But, President Obama pushed a lot harder and made a little more progress.

I get it, it’s a process. A slow, slow process.

The Great American Hypocrisy: All lives will never matter.

As long as civil rights are politicized, America will remain a nation of enemies. Fear leads to discrimination. Discrimination leads to hate and so on.

Political parties don’t solve civil rights issues, they create them. Civil rights are platform poison.

To all the do nothing politicians.

Civil rights are constitutional and belong in the judicial system. Civil rights aren’t for you to repeal if you disagree with the outcome.

There are countless combinations of the civil rights menu and we have two options?

How many more sessions will you challenge Roe v. Wade? How much money do you have access to? Now you want to repeal gay marriage? Deny hospital visits to my partner…my family? You want to spend money on conversion therapy? Oh, now I can be fired? 

Talk about setting a precedent – which is exactly why civil rights should not be political.

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Watch this movie.

Being gay isn’t a choice! You know what is a choice? Taking bribes. Adultry. Lying. Living your life in the closet. Homophobia. Religion. Ruining your family. Ruining my family.

Go convert yourself.

Tell you what, fix our schools. Fix healthcare. Fix wages. Enable parents to be parents. Give Americans a real chance. Quit preaching fiscal responsibility while killing your citizens and flooding the world (and your basements) with taxpayer money.

I’ll tell you what we’re all.

We’re all sick of your bullshit politics.

And stop accepting bribes. Dig deep and find your merits – run on those. Actually do something for the people.

The establishments are in stalemate. 

It’s simple. Either we’re all created equal or we’re not. Which is it? At least answer that. I know what you’re going to say. We all…what? Matter? Are equal? What? Spit it out.

*cricket*

You keep wasting our time and money playing tug o’ war with civil rights. If you want to argue civil rights, practice law. Otherwise, be the legislative, public-serving representative you signed up to be.

laramie-book-cover
Watch this movie.

It wasn’t until 2009 when Congress passed The Matthew Shepard Act which President Obama signed into law. Matthew’s gruesome murder would finally be considered a hate crime. It took 11 years.

The Gone Old Parties

The 2016 GOP Platform is nothing short of horrifying. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, it’s right here.

There are no parties. The choice is conscience. Next month is not the time to leave America’s future to chance. Next time there will be more options.

Let’s land the plane, refuel, and continue the work that needs to be done.

Not voting is not an option. Take a stance! 

A Note to Matthew

Matt, I was 24 when the world learned what happened to you. Your life inspired and motivated LGBT movements across the planet.

If you were born the day you died, you’d be casting your first vote in a historic election in November when the U.S. elects its next President.

Your sacrifice brought awareness of a hatred that makes anyone a vulnerable target.  

We won’t let you down. Not anymore. We’ve evolved. We continue to evolve, albeit slowly.

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Is not voting, in a way, voting?

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“Did you vote today?”

“Yes, I didn’t vote.”

Huh?

No, not voting isn’t a vote. It’s literally not a vote.

It’s been a tumultuous year in U.S. politics. Some Americans are so disgusted, many say their vote in November will come in the form of not voting at all.

How does that work? It doesn’t.

Most Americans don’t fully support either ticket, much less the party platforms. However, there are only two candidates who have a chance at winning.

Be part of the solution, not the problem. Swallow your pride and make a damn decision.

This one should be easier than figuring out what to do for dinner.

In the land of the free, you have the freedom to be stubborn. If you want to sit on the sidelines this year, that’s your choice. Bite that hand that feeds you and punish America by foregoing your right to vote. I can’t imagine anything more American.

Except, I don’t know, actually voting?

Take your ball and go home. Don’t be a poor sport because the game isn’t going your way. You don’t like the players. You don’t support the teams. You go home, alone, and play with your ball, pretending it’s a game. Don’t be selfish.

This election isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. Get that out of your head. The bases will disagree, but this election is about humanity. It’s about common decency. It’s really that simple. This election will define America’s collective conscience for the rest of the world.

Not voting supports your least favorite candidate. Not voting is even worse than voting for (who you consider) the lesser of two evils. It supports (who you consider) the greater evil. That greater evil is just fine with you not voting. They don’t expect your vote anyway. You’re playing right into their hands.

Three’s a crowd. My heart dropped when the supposed nominees became official. I believe the majority of Americans realize the desperate need for a third party, but now isn’t the time. Reread the previous point. Voting third party only supports the greater evil. If you do, at least you voted. Somewhere in your mind you have to know it’s a wasted effort.

If neither earned your vote, which one lost your vote? If they’re not worth voting for, they’re worth voting against. What better way to send a heartfelt ‘fuck you’ to the candidate who failed you?

Failure without consequence? Come on!

If you’re anti-Trump, you should vote for Clinton. What’s the best outcome for Trump if you’re anti-Trump? Not voting for Clinton. That’s all the support Trump needs from you. As hard as voting for Clinton might be, you’re only helping the guy you refuse to vote for.

If you’re anti-Clinton, you should vote for Trump. If Clinton annoys you so much, go ahead and vote for Trump. Do it. I dare you. You’re the one who has to live with your decision. Good luck sleeping at night. Seriously, go cast a vote for Trump if you believe Clinton is the devil’s spawn. Just one request – be proud of and stand by your decision!

Bernie Sanders supporters should vote for Clinton. That’s right from the horse’s mouth so I can’t say much more. Bernie cares about you. He endorsed Clinton. By not voting, you’re failing the candidate you so-called “supported.”

Still undecided? You’re either lying or in denial. By now neither candidate has anything new to say. Now, the claws come out to motivate people who never vote by scaring them with rhetoric. Trump’s only going to get worse. Clinton is only going to gain more surprising endorsements. It’s almost as if the decision is being made for us. But, it isn’t and the bullshit polls will remain close. The truth about the choice America will make on November 8 is being laid out.

If you won’t take a stand for yourself, take a stand for America. There’s only one side who doesn’t think everyone should vote. Gosh, I wonder why. That’s because they know they would lose. And it’s not because people are uninformed. It’s because the majority of Americans know the difference between right and wrong.

We’re all in this together.

Even the people who disagree with what they just read.

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Marco’s Goodbye and Bella’s Hello

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I expected I would soon bid farewell to Marco. He was 14 and had surgery in October. By February, another ailment diminished his ability to walk.

MarcoDuo
Marco in 2012

We suspect cancer, but never confirmed. He deteriorated quickly so we simply made the best of his remaining time.

His spine became contorted and his hind legs couldn’t support his body beyond hobbling from bed to his bowls to the backyard and back to bed.

Eventually, he stopped returning from the backyard. Instead, he laid down in spots he never laid before. He looked sad and tired and finally looked his age.

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His body was failing; medication was useless. One night he stopped walking entirely.

On February 17, 2016, we put Marco down, effectively ending the Denver and Marco era that began in 1999.

Marco’s Last Day.

The day I woke up knowing Marco would be gone before I slept again was one of the saddest days of my life.

We didn’t have a set time that day – we had an ‘arrive by’ time.

We reminisced and thanked Marco for all he gave us over the years. We cycled through laughter and degrees of breakdowns as the day wore on.

Every memory ended with the harsh reality that he was leaving us within hours.

The biggest hurdle was taking Marco to the car understanding it was his last exit from my house.

In the car, Marco had an energy I hadn’t seen in a while. He smiled and wagged his tail once again. The excitement in his eyes was comforting. It’s as if he knew and told us it’s okay.

We carried him into the vet clinic. Our tears spoke for us. There wasn’t a dry eye in the waiting area as the staff escorted us to a private room.

We cradled him as he was prepped for injections. By the time we were ready, Marco was sleeping. The vet explained what would occur. As the final breakdown ensued, a single nod gave the green light.

We sat with him until his final breath.

An unavoidable void.

I was sad leaving the vet clinic, but relieved. I felt lighter. The worst was over and it was time to grieve.

I broke down everyday for two weeks. My house felt empty. I felt empty. Everything reminded me of unconditional love lost. I swear I heard Marco bark from other rooms. I caught glimpses of him in my peripheral vision, but saw nothing when I looked directly.

Denver and Marco added so much to my life and the lives around me.

What dogs provide us is worth every painful responsibility required when owning them.

Through their lives and losses, it became apparent how much of a ‘dog person’ I am. Letting our loyal companions go will never be easy, but I will do it again.

Sooner than expected.

I wasn’t looking for a puppy when a friend sent me the link that led to Bella.

BellaBed
She has this look mastered.

If you would have told me a girl would change my life this year, move in, and I’d pick up her crap, I would have told you that happened two years ago – and his name’s Eric.

Bella was born on January 30, 2016. I’ve accidentally called her Marco and Denver, but her nicknames are piling up.

BellaSunset
Adapting to her new home well.

She makes me smile. She’s a positive spirit and loves everyone. Her eyes say everything. She makes me happy and makes me think. I feel like a kid when she’s around. Best of all, she doesn’t care about my alleged snoring.

I pick up her poop and she tries to get in the bathroom when I poop. That’s a first.

Puppy energy is exactly what this house needed. It’s exactly what I needed.

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Poli-tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock. Boom!

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“Hello darkness, my old friend”

If people hate America, it should be because over 40% of us allow less than 60% of us to elect our president and that’s an optimistic election year.

It’s usually closer to 50%.

“Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping”

I accompanied my stepmother to the polls during the 1984 presidential election. While she waited to cast her vote, I stood by the entrance of the school and asked people who they voted for as they exited.

As she walked out, she heard me. Immediately, she cut me off, told me my question was inappropriate, and apologized for me.

I asked her why? I was under the impression one candidate was far superior to the other and I just wanted to see if people made a bad decision.

She told me politics are personal.

Turns out, one was far superior that year according to voters. Only 53% of US voters showed up that year. 59% of them elected Ronald Reagan to a second term. He beat Walter Mondale 525 electoral votes to 13. Minnesota and Washington D.C. chose Mondale.

“And the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains”

My grandfather defined Republicans and Democrats for me.

He said Republicans teach a man to fish and Democrats give a man a fish.

While there were other easily digested anecdotes, religion was never part of it.

“In restless dreams I walked alone, narrow streets of cobblestone”

I’ve known I was gay since I was in first grade; I did not choose this supposed lifestyle.

I played hockey for 10 years. In those locker rooms was where I heard the word faggot.

Every time I felt I needed to be interested in a girl, I chose someone unattainable, sometimes from another school.

I began to think I was sick, but the thought of a girlfriend gave me anxiety because it would be a lie and she would be a tool.

I never told anyone until after I left Alaska to attend college.

I was 37 when I realized someone else in my graduating high school class was gay.

To this day, politicians waste money fighting basic workplace protections preventing harassment or discrimination against me.

They tout job creation.

I thought we’d be beyond this by now.

“People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening”

We act like life is black and white, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Today’s headlines would have us believe life is simple and matter-of-fact.

We, the people, are divided by absolutes and armed with free speech.

Follow, share, repeat, but whatever you do, don’t think.

“Silence like a cancer grows”

Spoon fed and distracted, we’ve become stoic and desensitized.

We are not malnourished.

“Hear my words that I might teach you; take my arms that I might reach you”

Screw baseball and football; America’s favorite pastimes are manipulation and hypocrisy.

Forget everything you’ve heard because today’s party names are labels and nothing more.

The first and second amendments should be honored, literally, and handled responsibly.

Neither are going away, no matter who is president.

Lump separation of church and state in there too.

Knitting needles have put more religion than the constitution permits into the fabric of our nation.

Freedom to think you’re right isn’t the right to define freedom.

Every citizen of this country should be able to form and build a family.

Every citizen of this country should be protected at work from any form of harassment or discrimination.

When you hear something scary from anywhere but the source, you’re being manipulated by fear.

Fear equals desperation and is the lowest form of manipulation.

So long as we can make each other feel stupid, scared, or insecure, we don’t have to admit what we don’t bring to the table.

Hate perpetuates fear and fear leads to war.

You have a choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Fear causing hate will never produce a solution.

We have a lot to fix and it won’t happen over night.

It may not happen in your lifetime.

We shape a better future by being better people.

Love thy neighbor.

People will die no matter what.

“But my words like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of silence”

We all agree opinions don’t matter, except the opinions we agree with.

It’s easy to feel right when everyone tells you you’re right in the safety of your very own chamber of echos.

“And the people bowed and prayed, to the neon god they made”

The United States isn’t mentioned in the bible.

7.3 billion people are on this planet and less than 5% live in the United States.

There is no war on Christmas.

There is no war on Christianity.

Anyone who tells you differently is a war monger, looking for a fight.

The Pledge of Allegiance was originally written by a socialist minister in 1892 and did not contain the words ‘under God.’

‘Under God’ was added in 1954.

‘In God We Trust’ first appeared on US currency in 1957 followed by coins in 1964. Personally, that doesn’t bother me so long as our currency is strong.

Religion is good, but can be dangerous in the wrong hands, especially a government.

Freedom of religion is not going anywhere and neither is my right to say that.

It’s time to rip off the tape.

There are no official presidential candidates, but we’re seeing the dress rehearsal.

Believe it or not, we are in a safe phase of our election process. The rubber meets the road after the primary elections.

The vitriol you hear today is between leaders fighting for supporters to represent their parties and is not representative of the American population.

First world problems.

We live in a world of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’

One party wants to raise taxes to fund programs while the other believes there are plenty of tax dollars for what they care about.

Lobbyists pad the pockets of both parties as our tax dollars are astronomically wasted with little effort to fix.

We have a financially irresponsible government and we face ongoing tax increases, yet there are plenty of sources they aren’t collecting from.

Did I say lobbyists earlier?

Global warming enthusiasts fly around on private jets and contribute as much, or more, to the carbon footprint they shame others for denying or even caring about. Do nothing or deny, neither contribute to the solution, just make sure to throw your aluminum in the blue bin, okay?

Some people perfectly understand the second amendment, but twist the first amendment to accommodate their own selfish interpretation. Mostly, this affects other people more than it affects themselves. 

The people who want to do away with the second amendment altogether, expect literal compliance with the first amendment, while their gun carrying bodyguards protect them.

Neither are willing to negotiate because any mention of being responsible is an all or nothing argument.

People waving the flag of ‘family values’ get exposed for infidelity, adultery, or same-sex shenanigans. They’d rather risk keeping a secret and destroy the family they value so much than deal with their own unhappiness.

Self proclaimed pro-life loyalists only care about the moment a sperm penetrates an egg, but do nothing for the life the embryo eventually lives.

People who identify as ‘pro-choice’ don’t often approve of people who choose to think differently.

The party ruling the executive branch of our government cannot gain the population’s confidence to simultaneously rule the legislative branch, thereby causing an endless stalemate, all while we foot the bill. These are our leaders.

The stuff that gets done becomes campaign fodder for the next election cycle to undo.

States start their own controversies that require intervention from the judicial branch of our federal government.

Both sides have taken notes on the legal acrobatics of defining what the word ‘is,’ is.

It used to be obvious when a headline was from The Onion or an actual news source. 

Polarizing hypocrisy is more common than bullet holes in this country.

We are better than that.

Baby steps.

Today’s parties are two different degrees of unappealing with two fundamentally different strategies.

Power, greed, corruption, hypocrisy, narcissism, and complete disrespect have beat the living crap out of politics and have filtered down to how we act toward one another. They pander to us for our votes enough to not disturb the base.

That doesn’t mean don’t vote, if even reluctantly.

New leaders with new ideas and unifying messages will emerge if we are willing to accept them.

I believe in a passionate majority.

We can change politics in America.

Be part of the solution.

Pay attention.

Vote.

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