Category Archives: Policy & Politics

When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

13 June 2016

I had my first radiation treatment today.  I will go every weekday for the next three weeks. When walking into the facility, my beautiful wife reached out to hold my hand – and I was nervous, in a way that I haven’t been in a long time.  It reminded me of all of the times that we have gone dancing, or to play Gaybingo, here in Dallas, or out to the theater in NYC.  In those moments, we are safe (or so we think). 13394187_10153754358297309_8892603861900442623_nWe can securely hold hands, dance together, share a kiss. Yesterday, in the early morning hours, a deranged man with assault weapons stormed an Orlando nightclub, filled with members of the LGBT community, along with their friends, allies, and club employees. Those who were at the club, Pulse, this past weekend were in a safe, secure space where they could be themselves without fear. Have you ever felt afraid to show love or affection towards the one that you love in public? Every time I think of it, I shudder, because that could have been US, pre-baby days when we went dancing more often, or went out to socialize with friends for a drink at one of our “safe havens.” It has sickened me to see tweets from not only high profile figures like Dan Patrick or Donald Trump, hours after a massacre, using phrases like “you reap what you sow” or blaming current administration. It has sickened me even more to see people I know – people who are supposedly my friends that care about me – posting similar “reap what you sow” statements. It’s too much, and I almost just. can’t. even.

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When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

What the hell is wrong with people? This massacre of human life did not happen as a result of our current political administration – how ridiculous is it that anyone would even utter those sentiments?!  It isn’t the parents’ fault. It isn’t because “God has been taken out of schools” – I NEVER prayed in school growing up. It is unbridled, unmitigated and uncontrolled HATRED.  It was not carried out by someone in our country illegally – this was a US citizen, born in New York.  It was not carried out by someone who conducted a back-alley gun purchase with no criminal background check – this was a military grade assault weapon that was purchased legally through a FLAWED system. If background checks came back clear (and federal background checks were obviously NOT done, or done correctly), then something is seriously wrong, considering the murderer had a history of domestic violence and had been investigated by the FBI not once, but at least twice; yet he still was able to not only purchase the murder weapon, but also hold a job in security.  I don’t really care anymore if I piss someone off with my distaste for guns – enough is ENOUGH.  Something MUST be done, and NOW!  I see all of the screaming that Obama and Hillary are trying to take away guns, and second amendment bullshit – but have yet to see any evidence of such attempts to take away weapons OR rights.  Just because someone states that there needs to be gun reform, that doesn’t equate to “taking away my guns!”  Just today, I read an article of a mom in Philadelphia who had the ability to purchase one of these heinous weapons of mortal combat in SEVEN MINUTES. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVEN minutes. No waiting period – HA! That is laughable! I want to know how in the hell that is possible! I want to know how a 20 year old kid with an expired driver’s license was able to also go and buy one of these weapons in FIVE MINUTES?! THIS. THIS is part of the huge overlying problem.  A very, very flawed system for background checks that is the biggest joke that any of us have ever seen! So yes, as Samantha Bee has said on her show this week, we DO want to take away your guns, if they are military grade assault rifles! So come on people, how can you see children get gunned down at school, or a nightclub full of people be systematically murdered by the spray of bullets from an assault weapon that only belongs in a military combat situation?!  When is it going to be ENOUGH for everyone?  sandyhook-heart

 

Twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook obviously wasn’t enough.  Forty-nine more people are dead today, and more than that are injured, some may not recover, but all are never to be the same – is this not enough?  Do these lives not matter as much because many of them were LGBT?  People screaming back and forth at each other angrily about their stance on guns, or radicals, or LGBT citizens does nothing but create more noise, overtaking the sound of the tears and sorrow for those who were lost.  Is today the day that you, or I, have to be right? We may not ever agree on who is right, but I hope we can agree that it is most definitely ENOUGH! Those of us who feel this pain for our brothers & sisters who perished, who feel the outrage at the loss of life being overshadowed by arguments about politics or gun control; we still see you, the silent ones who normally pray for every tragedy or post your condolences when the unthinkable happens. We see you and notice the absolute absence of commentary from you on THIS particular tragedy – what is THAT about?   13407221_10153450633247820_179011674951000247_n

When is it ENOUGH for you?

Hatred for that which is different from ourselves can take on an ugly life of its own.  It seems that somewhere along the path in the life of these terrorists, this kind of hatred became perfectly acceptable. Most of us, civilized human beings, are mortified by the atrocities of the Holocaust during WWII, asking over and over why more people didn’t step in and stop the systematic murders of millions.  We are appalled when we hear of those who stood by and let it happen, not willing to step out of their fear and stand up to the obvious wrong that was happening before their very eyes. But that was something in our history books, right?  Yet here we are again, only the murders aren’t by the millions, in another country out of sight.  It’s 26 here, 50 there, a high school or a movie theater in Colorado. When WE see hate directed towards another, and we say nothing, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE see hate physically manifested towards another, and we take no action, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE hear a teen call another faggot, or tell them that they’re “gay” when they really mean “dumb or stupid,” and WE don’t call them out on it, then the message we give is that we don’t have a problem with that kind of hate speech. When is it ENOUGH for YOU?  Will it be enough when it’s YOUR child, YOUR brother or sister, YOUR childhood best friend who was dancing in a nightclub, but then is on your television screen as just one among the bodies? Will you be arguing about your guns then? Will you be pointing fingers at politicians then? Or will you be face to the ground, arms around a stranger who mourns next to you, because THEIR person silently lays among the carnage next to YOUR person? When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

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Today I laid on a table in a cold room, alone, with a mask locked tight around my face, while a huge machine clicked and buzzed while circling my head, giving me the radiation that we hope will keep me alive. FullSizeRender-7 I had to remain completely still. I fought the urge to scream, to freak out in claustrophobic madness. I fought the tears as panic tried to take over. I gritted my teeth in anger, knowing that if I don’t do this, my chances of winning – of living – become markedly lower. FullSizeRender-8 

 

 

Today, fifty people will also lie on a table in a cold room, alone – no mask on their face needed. They will remain completely still, too; no fighting panic like they surely experienced during the moments before they died.  I cannot imagine the terror that went through their hearts and minds during those final moments.  They no longer have the urge to scream, or cry, or panic; their lives were cut short by a terrorist who hated them, just for BEING. Is this too harsh for you to read?  When is it ENOUGH for YOU?? Most of the victims were young, with a full and productive life ahead of them.  Some were coupled, some were not.  Some were out, others were not.  Some were there with friends, others were there with a supportive parent.  But rather than give this terrorist a minute of time learning his background – hell, even learning his name – I choose to remember as many of the names of those who perished that I possibly can.  I will try to remember their stories, as I hear them.  

Like Amanda Alvear. She was 25 and was at the club Pulse with her best friend, celebrating having lost 200 pounds. And Brenda McCool, age 49. She was a two-time cancer survivor.  She raised twelve children, and was at Pulse dancing with one of her sons, who survived the shooting, but had to watch his mother die. Stanley Almodovar III was 23 and a pharmacy tech. Cory Connell, age 21, was leaving the club with his girlfriend when they came upon the shooter.  He was a college student who hoped to become a firefighter.  

They were all people just like you and I. Instead of everyone standing around with raised fists in the air, angry and indignant about who or what to blame, why don’t we learn what we can about the only people who really matter in all of this.  Click on their name; if there is an available profile, the link will take you to it:

 

When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

 

 

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Coming This Summer!

Domestic Dyke and family are going on the road this summer! I am expanding my blogging to travel writing and photographing, and looking forward to some amazing adventures starting summer 2014!
We are starting our journey with the whole fam loading up in June to Golden, Colorado, and probably some visits to Denver while we are there as well. In July, the wife and I will be traveling to San Francisco and Napa Valley, and plan to visit some cool, LGBT friendly venues as well. I will take tons of pictures – like I always do – and write up blog reviews as we go. I want to be able to pass on all of the good to all of our peeps, especially the LGBT friendly ones! Somewhere in there, hopefully sooner than later, I want to book a trip to one of our favorite spots – Little Rock, Arkansas – now that marriage equality has landed there! Hopefully there will be a lot more LGBT traffic in that beautiful, green state now that marriage is a reality. So if you have any destinations that you have been to and can recommend that might be interested in hosting us/me in exchange for a photo blog review, send me a message or list it in the comments – and I will check it out! Who knows…maybe I’ll be visiting in a town near you. If I do, let me know and let’s have a drink!

travel pic

The Versatile Blogger Awards 2014

February 26, 2014

*I’m not sure why none of my spacing in between paragraphs made it here.  I inserted space in three different times, and every time I save my work, it takes it away.  My apologies for everything being crammed together 😉

So I was looking at my blog tonight, and making sure that all of my “About Me” information was current, when I noticed that like, two years ago, a follower of my blog bestowed upon me a Versatile Blogger Award!  And somehow, somewhere, it completely got past me and I never knew!  Now how dumb do I feel??!!  But I read through the entire post from October 25, 2011 and was so honored to have been mentioned among her choices for versatile bloggers from all walks of life.  Plus I LOVE the idea of an annual list of awardees to come up with and share with readers, so that all of MY favorite blogs can get a public head knod and hopefully increase their traffic each year!  So thank you first and foremost to Kana Tyler of Kana’s Chronicles (http://kanatyler.com/) for giving me this awesome honor so long ago – and my apologies for not offering my thanks sooner!

Now, for those of you out there who write – especially if I have missed your blog or didn’t realize that you have one – this is a pay-it-forward award, so you can also participate and have your own award show over there on your page as well.  Also, you can comment on my blog with a link to your site, for my benefit as well as for my readers.  Here are the rules:

  1. Thank your nominator with a link to their blog.

  2. Bestow the award on 10 bloggers (sharing links to their sites, and letting them know) – I, however, am bestowing it on 11 bloggers, because I’m just crazy like that

  3. List seven things about yourself.

Easy peasy.  So here we go.the-versitle-blogger-award

Domestic Dyke’s Versatile Blogger Awards 2014 (in no particular order of importance):

* Gayby Boom Blog (http://blog.chron.com/gaybyboom) – dads Michael and Matthew Burrus-Pearce with their humoros quips about life with a toddler daughter and new infant son

* The Robot Mommy (http://therobotmommy.com) – follow along with this SAHM, as she shares her “grumps” pics, and TCIF memes (Thank Coffee It’s Friday, right?)

* The Herzy Journey (www.theherzyjourney.com) – Jenny Herzberger’s wild ride through breast cancer, treatments, and reconstruction

* Happy Herbivore Blog (www.happyherbivore.com/blog) – Our favorite resource for all things plant-based (diet, that is)!

* A Journey Through the Carcinoma Wonderland (http://mapelba.wordpress.com) – Austinite wife and artist blogging her way through breast cancer… and all that comes with it

* Slap Dash Mom (www.slapdashmom.com) – the adventures of Sadie Lankford, her wife Rachel, and their three daughters (the oldest has her own jewelry line! www.slapdashthings.com) about anything from cooking/baking, to school, to crafting, to movies, to LGBT rights, to whatever they encounter in their new home of Arizona

* Madgew-musings (http://madgew-musings.blogspot.com/) – the inner workings of Madge Woods, her friends, her family, and her travels around the U.S. and abroad!

* The Next Family (www.thenextfamily.com) – a wonderful compilation of blogs that come from a diverse family of writers on a wide variety of unique topics

* Simple Life Yoga (www.simplelifeyoga.com) – Brandie Sellers’ blog about her journey that led her to yoga, its teachings (and hers in turn as a yoga instructor), life coaching, vegetarian cooking, health & wellness, and her own experience as a breast cancer survivor

* Online with Zoe (www.onlinewithzoe.com) – amazing tales and treasures from the mind of Zoe Nicholson, human rights activist and feminist who has been on the forefront of activism, writing and speaking for many years, her writing is full of rich experiences and historical significance

* The Davey Diaries (http://daveydiaries.com) – follow along as David Mailloux rips open his insecurities to share them with others, as a white, male, educated, openly-gay recovering alcoholic…one day at a time, one step at a time

Congratulations to all of you versatile bloggers!  And thanks for sharing yourself with the rest of us!

Now for my obligatory 7 things about me (according to the rules listed above):

1.  I am still mildly addicted to Friends, the television show.  I watch at least one episode pretty much every night of my life.

2.  I once adopted two poodles from a shelter, naming the female Phoebe and the male Chandler (see?  A little addicted).

3.  I could eat tacos, in some form, every day, I think.  Egg, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, veggie, black bean, crispy, soft….I could go on and on.

4.  I have had 4 models of Jeep in my life:  Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Grand Wagoneer.

5.  I took tap, jazz, and ballet for several years as a kid (yes, with the big tutus and everything), and my mother wouldn’t let me be in any sports because that was for boys.  Yeah.

6.  When I was in 5th grade, my best friend was visiting her grandmother in Wylie, Texas the night that Candace Montgomery murdered Betty Gore with an ax (and was found “not guilty” after using a self-defense argument).  Shortly after that, there were rumors that the murderer and her kids moved onto my street, one block down; never found out if they were true or not.

7.  I do not now, nor have I ever, played Candy Crush Saga.

With THAT, I say, “Keep writing my friends!  Keep reading my friends!  Keep sharing my friends!”

And take care of each other.

The Pathology

3/18/2013

It’s Monday, March 18th.  My sweet Noah’s 13th birthday.  I can’t believe this kid is already thirteen; nor can I believe how crazy I am about him (despite him being 13…hahaha)!  It is also the day that I hope to hear back from the doctor, all the while knowing that it could very likely be tomorrow.  By about 3 PM, I have given up most hopes of getting a phone call today with my biopsy results, so I start planning for a short trip to the store before Noah gets out of school at 4 PM.  I still feel lousy, but I need to make Noah’s birthday dinner, so I change clothes and head off with my list to the Kroger around the corner.  It’s 3:45 PM, and I am two steps out of my Jeep when my phone rings; a familiar Dallas number pops up and I stop, frozen in my tracks.

“This is Tanya.”

“Hi Tanya.  This is Dr. Seiler at UT Southwestern Medical Center.  Do you have a minute?”

Really?  No.  Do I have a minute?  Like I’m going to say, “Now isn’t a good time to find out about my cancer.  Can I call you back?”  Sorry.  Inner sarcasm comes out during times of high stress.

“Of course!  Let me jump back into my Jeep and turn some air on.”

From there, his calm, soothing voice led me through every step of the pathology report that he has so far.  He went in the same order that he performed the biopsies:

1.  The Stereotactic Biopsy of calcifications on the left breast – OK.  Fibroadenoma.  Benign changes.

2.  The mass on the right breast – OK.  A stromal hyperplasia.  Also benign changes.

3.  The mass on the left breast (the one that I felt) – Cancer.  Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.  The most common form of breast cancer, he said.  In the ducts and outside of the ducts.  Wonderful.

4.  The lymph node area of the left armpit – Cancer.

4.0.4

Big, deep breath.  Okay.  Do we have a stage yet?  No.  The specimens are being sent off for further testing and staging.  It is Grade 3, which is the highest grade – and the worst.  It got a score of 8 out of 9, which I guess is bad.  My next step, he tells me, is to see a surgeon.  They might do more testing (like MRIs and xrays), but they will formulate a treatment plan and decide if surgery will be needed first or chemotherapy first.  He answered all of my questions, and made sure to ask me at the end if I had any OTHER questions.

I then spoke with Amanda, the coordinator at UT Southwestern with the nurses at Moncrief Cancer Center, the program that funded my mammograms, sonograms, and biopsies.  She put me on hold, contacted my nurse there, and came back to tell me that they will begin the process of Medicaid paperwork for me, and not to worry about any of it for the time being.  She said that I would get a call the next day from the nurse handling my case, and they would get me in to finish up paperwork, and it would take 6-10 business days to get an active Medicaid number.  Once I have that, I can make the appointment with a surgeon that they refer me to, and hopefully get a good plan in place for treatment.  More waiting.

I know that if I had insurance, I would just pick up the phone to the surgeon of my choice (who accepted my plan, of course), and make the appointment.  Things are different for the non-insured, but thankfully, I am no longer panicked at the thought of having to self-pay EVERYTHING.  Now, I know that Medicaid does not pay for everything, and I will have out-of-pocket expenses; and thankfully I have wonderful people in my life (and in others’ lives) who have already started a fund for that!  And if anyone is wondering how I am able to get Medicaid, it is because we live in a state that does not recognize our marriage (as well as on a federal level).  Therefore, Erikka, in the eyes of Texas, is considered my roommate; and I am considered a single mother of two children at home (since I legally adopted Harrison).  Crazy, huh?

It just keeps coming back to me that all of those who are opposed to same-sex marriage, for whatever messed up reason, have no clue how it can, and DOES, hurt real people, in real families to keep a “separate but equal” mentality anymore.  The Defense of Marriage Act has no good merits, except to discriminate and divide.  Having marriage legal in all states for some people, yet only legal in certain states for others, will do nothing but complicate matters large and small, on many levels.

And breast cancer is no small matter.

I Adopted My Own Daughter

As seen on August 22, 2012 on TheNextFamily.com:

Three Weeks Ago:

I get the phone call that I had been waiting for, from my best friend and attorney, Kim.  She had finally gotten ahold of the ad litem attorney in San Antonio, and they were trying to pin down a date for court.  I had wanted to go on my birthday, August 6th, but it wasn’t feasible as they were still waiting for one last document from Austin.  So what about the 10th of August?  Kim thought it would be okay, but then upon examination of my dear wife’s work schedule, she said there was no way that she would be able to go on the 10th.  Since we were aiming at a Friday, in order for all of the attorneys involved (Kim and Erikka primarily) to only miss one day in the office, I then asked for the next Friday – August 17th.  It seemed to work for everyone, and all she had to do was get it confirmed with our ad litem attorney.  I awaited confirmation (impatiently, as usual) so that I could book rooms, reserve a rental vehicle, etc.  A few days later I got the text:  August 17, 2012 @ 11:15 A.M. in front of Judge Peter Sakai, 4th floor Bexar County Courthouse.  Hot damn we have a court date!  Finally – it’s REALLY going to happen!  I am finally going to adopt our baby girl – for real!

One Week Ago:

We had originally planned to travel to San Antonio the Thursday evening before court, and stay through the weekend as a mini-vacation for our family.  Turns out, however, that I would have a wedding to photograph on the 18th of August. (It had been a little up-in-the-air for a few weeks there and we thought that it might be postponed.)  So it was decided that we would go to San Antonio on Wednesday, take the kids to Sea World on Thursday, Erikka’s parents and Kim would all arrive Thursday afternoon/evening, court on Friday morning with lunch after to celebrate, and then travel home Friday afternoon so that I could be at the wedding Saturday evening.  Dear Lord if I had only known THEN how exhausting all of that was really going to be!

Wednesday, August 15th:

Our morning was, as most starts to trips can be, a bit chaotic.  Did you pack this?  Did we remember to put that in the car?  Do we have the baby’s bath seat?  We took the dog to my mom’s last night, right?  Extra food and water for the cats – check.  OK.  Let’s load up.  Noah, do you have your headphones, iPod, Kindle, and my laptop for watching movies?

Noah happily enjoying all of his travel amenities :)

Sheesh.  Do you remember how WE had to travel when we were kids?  A piece of duct tape down the middle of the back seat so that my brother couldn’t get on my side, no books for me because I got car sick, and we were stuck listening to whatever Mom and/or Dad was listening to on the radio.  Oh but there was always the alphabet game with billboards or license plates!  But most of our travel time was actually spent fighting, pushing, or trying to go to sleep to get through the boredom that my younger A.D.H.D. brain was raging against.  But I digress.  We get all loaded up and make our way through Dallas.  We get to Hillsboro, Texas (just North of Waco) when I have to stop and pee already.  Just before I stop I gasp as I realize that, HOLY CRAP, I forgot to pack the diapers.  ANY diapers.  Not a one.  Great.

Harrison giving me her scruntchy face when I said I had forgotten to pack diapers

Here I am, off on the trip of my life – to adopt my baby girl – and I forget to pack her diapers.  But at least I remembered to buckle in her carseat before I put her in it!  A quick stop in Waco at the Wal Mart, and we were back in business, with a full package of diapers in the back.  We made pitstops in Austin for lunch, and New Braunfels to visit the new Bucee’s roadside stop (like a couple of fanatical loons, I might add), until finally we were in San Antonio and checking in at our bed & breakfast.  After getting our stuff to our room and cleaning up a bit, we headed out for a wonderful dinner with our awesome friends, Jay and Christopher.  It was a great ending to our travel day, and we soon were back at the B&B and falling into bed with a very cranky baby girl.

Thursday, August 16th:



After a long night with very little sleep, thanks to our beautiful baby girl, we got up, had breakfast, and got ready for a day at Sea World.  We loaded up and took off, spending the day with both of our children having fun just being a family.  Harrison loved all of the Sesame Street characters that were out and about, and smiled and giggled every time she got near one.  We took her on her first carousel ride, and even Noah willingly rode, too.  I love that he will do things like that for and with his baby sister, and simply because he loves her so much.  She was so much fun to watch because she seemed absolutely amazed about everything – it was awesome!  By about 5 PM we were all pretty much worn out and ready to go, so we headed back to the B&B to meet Erikka’s parents, who had arrived earlier in the afternoon.  We all went to dinner before coming back and passing out again, eagerly anticipating court in the morning.

Friday, August 17th:

I was awake before the alarm went off – which almost NEVER happens.  It was finally here!  This was the day that I had waited almost ten months for – the day that our baby girl would legally be mine.  I was finally going to be recognized, under the law, as her mother…just like Erikka.  Soon, everyone was up, including Kim and Erikka’s parents.  We had breakfast and began getting ready for pictures, as I had hired a photographer to come and take some family photos, as well as to take photos during the proceedings at court.  Photos were taken outside of the B&B, and soon we were on our way to the courthouse, which was about two blocks away.

I was nervous, although I’m not sure why – I guess because I had never anticipated that the judge might say “no.”  While we waited for our court appointment, we all sat outside of the courtroom on old, wooden benches, where Kim prepped me for how things would go, and we finally all got to meet Harrison’s attorney (the ad litem).  I had, in my mind, of how the courtroom would look and that it would be filled with other people awaiting their turn (like when Noah’s dad adopted Nicholas), so I was shocked when we were ushered inside to a small courtroom that was completely empty.  It was just going to be our family, our attorneys, and the judge.  Wow!  Harrison had fallen asleep while waiting in the hallway, so I was starting to get her out of the stroller when the judge came in.  It was weird because I’m not sure how many of us noticed him come in, until I said, “Oh hey there’s the judge!”  We were all invited to come up to the front of the courtroom, in front of the judge – Us, Noah, Erikka’s parents – we were all invited to join in!  The photographer moved about however she wanted, which was awesome!  The judge wanted to know who everyone was, and we all went around and gave our names.  Kim then introduced me as the adoptive parent, and established for the judge my relationship with Harrison; then she did the same with Erikka.  She had laid out a plan of questions for me, Erikka, and even Noah, but before she was able to carry them out, the judge kind of took over.  He asked me if I knew that it was irreversible, with “no exchanges, returns, or refunds,” and asked us both to promise to raise her in a loving home, educate her, and help her grow into an honest and upstanding citizen.  We promised that we would, and before any of us knew it, he had granted the adoption and it was over!  Just like that!  I think the whole process took five minutes!

 

She is finally legally my daughter.  While everyone who knows us knows that Harrison is my little girl, now I finally have the letter of the law declaring that she is such, and no one can ever take her away from me.  We walked out of the courthouse knowing that the security of our family was finally in place, and there is no longer a fear hanging over my head.  It is such a huge burden taken off of my shoulders, and while it was a pain to have to go down this road, I can say that in the end it was totally and completely worth every bit of it to give me the peace of mind that I now have.  It was a day that changed my life forever.

Taking a Stand

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (8/1/2012):

So we all know and have heard the latest broohaha regarding fast food chain Chick-Fil-A.  Our social network sites have blown up with constant updates, stories, blogs, feeds, protests, counter-protests and such about it.  Most people, by now, are pretty sick of it – at times, myself included.  About a week or so after the news broke that the CEO openly and proudly declared his stance as anti-marriage equality (and thus speaking for the entire company, franchises and all), I read an interesting blog written on The Huffington Post regarding the whole situation.  Here was my comment about the blog, as well as a link to the blog itself:

“It is sometimes so hard to sit by while people who say they are my friend/family who care about MY family, will also say that they have no intentions of boycotting anything. That’s fine. As long as they are fully aware that their money goes to organizations who are determined to keep my family from being equal to theirs. It’s not about the chicken sandwich. And yes, everyone is entitled to free speech, freedom of religion, and an opinion. But please think about it, before you go and spend your money there, of all the times that you have said that you support my family – and then don’t. Either don’t spend your money at a business that supports inequality, or don’t tell me that you love and adore my family. These are the kinds of organizations that keep MY marriage from being recognized, and require ME to adopt my own daughter. Just so you know.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/conor-gaughan/chick-fil-a-homophobia_b_1711566.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

I encourage anyone who reads my blog to read Conor Gaughan’s piece.  It is just another real person writing from his real perspective, trying to reach his readers so that they can see where he is REALLY coming from.

So the supporters have now planned a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1st, and the opposers have planned all sorts of protests on the same day.  There will be same-sex PDAs/kiss-ins at some chains, while others plan to wait in line and order water, or order food and then cancel.  To me this seems like an open show of hostility that will only make us, the LGBT community, seem petty and ridiculous.  Get mad at me if you want, but I think that the best way to show our opposition to the company’s declared stance is to first NOT GO THERE.  And if we choose to go there for an organized protest, then fine, exercise the right to peaceably gather with signs that show our thoughts and feelings (grammatically and spelled correct, of course).

www.thenextfamily.com

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Protest Rally @ White House – May 2010

All of this has also got me to thinking about my children.  What would I want my children to learn about all of this?  Yes, we used to eat at Chick-fil-A, but it has been a long time, as we stopped going there over a year ago when we first learned of the company’s donations towards hate and anti-equality groups.  Now, Noah is twelve, and when we stopped going there, he didn’t really get it, and we didn’t really try to explain it.  But now that he IS twelve, with all of it in the news and on the lips of virtually everyone, I did try to explain to him the reason why WE, our family, doesn’t go there anymore.  I’m not sure if he understands completely, but I wanted to take the time to explain to him this stand that we are taking.  I also explained to him that yes, one small group (ie: our family) CAN make a difference in the bottom line when there are lots and lots of small groups doing the same thing.  I also explained to him that it is no difference than in school, where I expect him to stand up for anyone who is getting treated differently, for any reason, because it is simply the right thing to do.  Nicholas, on the other hand, is a grown man who lives on his own.  He worked at our local Chick-Fil-A when he was a teenager, and has decidedly chosen to continue to frequent there.  Sure, it is disappointing to hear him say that he loves his gay moms, but he also loves their chicken sandwich.  Did I not teach him to take a stand against bigotry and inequality?  I thought I had, but once they are grown and gone, it really isn’t my decision to make for him.  I love him regardless of where he eats.  And I know that he is young, and one day he will be faced with something in HIS life that will force him to either make a stand for what is right, even if it means giving up something he likes or doing something that might be uncomfortable.

This is the conclusion that I have come to, since I have many conservative friends and family, who think that all of us should just “shut up and get over it:”  It doesn’t affect them personally, so it isn’t as important to most as it is to those of us fighting for marriage equality and equal treatment.  Their marriage is always recognized, and they enjoy all of the rights and privileges that go along with that.  But as for me and my house, I will always and continually teach them about taking a stand in the face of something that is wrong.  And I will continue to teach them to take a stand against anybody doing wrong against another group, whether it directly affects them or not.

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”

 ~ Thomas Jefferson

Lincoln Had it Right

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (7/3/2012):

So we’re kind of at a stand still right now with Harrison’s adoption.  After we found out that we had to have an ad litem attorney (in San Antonio) to represent Harrison, that is where things have slowed down.  Everything else is done, and now we are waiting for this last step to fall into place so that we can get a court date.  I anxiously await for the phone call that says when we can go!

In the meantime, all across the nation, LGBT Pride was celebrated throughout the month of June.  Dallas has its Pride parade each year in September, rather than June (like the rest of the world).  But while most of the world celebrates equality and pride, there are still hate crimes and suicides happening to young gay and lesbians in our country.  Just last week, in Portland, Texas (a suburb of Corpus Christi) a young lesbian couple was found in a waterside park, having each been shot in the head.  One of the young ladies, Mollie, died from her injuries; her girlfriend, Kristene, remains in the hospital, recovering from hers.  It did not make the news here in Dallas, but word traveled swiftly on news websites and social media.  Soon, LGBT communities across the country reacted, planning candlelight vigils on behalf of Mollie and Kristene, signing and sending rainbow flags to their families, and raising money to assist Kristene’s family with her growing medical bills.  Sadness, anger, outrage, and fear have spread throughout our communities, and only recently is there hope – the Portland police have reported that they have a possible suspect.  The shooting has, however, been minimized in some media outlets, saying that they “aren’t sure that it was a hate crime.”  Um, really?  Somebody took this young couple and SHOT THEM IN THE HEAD.  Whether or not it was because they were gay is irrelevant – it was fueled by hate.

Dallas Candlelight Vigil for Mollie & Kristene

Last weekend, before we headed to Dallas for the candlelight vigil in our gayborhood, we dropped the kids off with my mother and decided to catch a movie.  We went to see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter for some mindless entertainment.  Since I have degrees in History, and we both enjoy a good vampire movie, we thought it would be right up our alley for a good time.  Now, there wasn’t a whole lot about it that was historically accurate, except maybe for some names and dates, and few events.  But when it got toward the end of the movie, and President Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address, it hit me – Abraham Lincoln GOT IT.  He valued life – ALL life – and maintained that all man[kind] deserved freedom and equality, as set forth by our founding fathers.  Think about it:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

 The second paragraph reminds me of the LGBT community now, in 2012, and what could be equated as a modern “great civil war.”  We are engaged in our great civil war, testing whether WE, so conceived and so dedicated, can endure.  How many have given their lives so that WE, as a community, might live?  How many Harvey Milks have there been over the years?  How many young men and women have lost their fight on the battlefield of homophobia, and taken their own lives?  How many Mollie and Kristenes have their been, losing their lives to hatred and violence?

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ~ President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863

 Just like President Lincoln being unable to consecrate the ground in Gettysburg, neither we can consecrate or hallow any ground where our LGBT sisters and brothers have lost their fight.  It is they who do so for us.  And while we have our marches, our rallies, our parades, and our vigils, most of what is said will be soon forgotten by our peers.  But we cannot forget those lives, and we must always resolve that they, too, will not have died in vain.  We can see change on the horizon, but there is still so much work to be done.  I have hope that I will see our new birth of freedom during my lifetime, and that our government will return to the thought (and hopefully practice) that it is one of the people, by the people, and FOR the people – ALL people.

Lincoln had it right, even in 1863.

Now We Wait

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (6/20/2012):

Fingerprinting was the step that I took to kick off our adoption process.  My next step, which I did the day after my trip to the police station, was to meet with my attorney (aka, BFF Kim).  I had filled out the Adoption Intake Form, which I have blogged about previously, to take to her, along with a copy of our marriage license and a copy of Harrison’s birth certificate.

We went over what else needed to be done, and I wrote the first check to her for the first phase.

Once we were past the initial paperwork and the fingerprinting (which I turned over to her), my next step was to get ahold of the social worker that Kim had for us to use for our home study.  In the very beginning, when we first started talking and planning for the adoption, I had wanted Kim to petition the court to waive the home study, given that I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that I had to do it in order to adopt my own child.  Unfortunately, after speaking with some advising attorneys, she didn’t feel that it was worth it to even attempt a waiver of the home study – after all, we DO live in conservative Texas.  With every step I want to stomp my feet and rebel against the system, or go to the state capital building in Austin and scream at Rick Perry while throwing tomatoes at the beautiful, domed rotunda.  However, I won’t, since I would rather be granted this adoption instead of spending time behind bars…haha.

I was soon put into contact with the woman who would either become my new best friend, or who could possibly decide my fate in a less-than-positive way.  My experience (which has been one time) with a social worker was several years ago, when Noah’s father was doing a step-parent adoption of Nicholas.  That home study, with a social worker chosen from a list, was very nerve wracking for me.  Hours of tense questions and answers, delving deep into our pasts – and he was MY kid!  I wasn’t even the one adopting him!  So when I knew that I would have to have a home study for Harrison’s adoption, all I could think about was how stressful the last one was.  I spoke with her on the phone to schedule the visit, and she was very warm and laid back, telling me that she preferred to have two visits in order to cover everything that she needed to for a complete report.  We scheduled it for a Monday, and I spent the days leading up to it tidying the house of clutter and cleaning what I could, without making it look TOO polished and unlived in.  When she arrived, I was instantly put at ease by her capri pants and flip flops, along with her reassuring smile and personality.  She took a quick tour of the house, not very in depth at all (which made me VERY happy), then we sat down in the den for almost three hours and talked, just she and I.  She asked me questions about my marital history (now THAT was fun to explain), my history with Erikka, and about my relationships with both Noah and Harrison.  She didn’t ask very many questions about Nicholas; I’m sure mainly because he is off and married now.  It was very relaxing, and I felt like I was sitting and chatting with a new friend.  When it came time for her to go, I called Erikka and we scheduled the second visit – for the next day.  No time like the present, right?

Our wonderful social worker, Anne, with Harrison & I on her second visit :)

So she returned the next afternoon, where she visited with Erikka for a bit, and then the two of us together.  It was a wonderful experience, with no negatives whatsoever.  Within two days, she emailed me her report and asked me to look over it before she sent it over to Kim for submission to the court.  I couldn’t believe that the process was going this quickly!  This could soon be a reality, one that is signed, sealed, and delivered in court!  Our adoption process for Bud to adopt Nicholas took from August until December the year that we did it; this might very well all be done within a month or six weeks.  I am simply amazed that it has gone this smoothly – and pray that it continues to do so.

Tomorrow I meet with Kim again to hand over a few more documents that we had to sign and have notarized.  She found out at the end of last week that we will have to also hire an ad litem attorney in San Antonio – an attorney who will represent Harrison (also another ridiculous, but required, expense).  I will cut a check to Kim for this attorney’s fees tomorrow, and then I believe that we will be done with all of the steps, aside from traveling to Bexar county to attend a hearing in court.  She will send off my fingerprints to the DPS in Austin, and then all we have to do is wait for my criminal history report to be submitted to the court, as well as back to Kim.  That’s it.  Now we wait.  I’m not very good at waiting…

The Adoption Journey Begins…With Fingerprinting!!

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (6/6/2012):

“You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  ~Desmond Tutu

The time has finally arrived, and the adoption journey has begun.  While we had to wait until Harrison was at least six months old to do it, it ended up being 7 1/2 months for financial reasons.  Now I am sure that some of you have gotten the impression from me before, but I will say it again – it is utterly ridiculous and unfair that we have to go through all of these extra steps and a lot of extra money for me to adopt my own daughter.  Every step of the process is just a reminder of the fact that we live under a state that is willing to change a constitution to make discrimination state law.  But no matter how unfair it is, how inconvenient it is, how infuriating it is, or how expensive it is…I will do it, because it is THAT important to me that this little girl is legally and forever mine, too.  I look at her, and she flashes me that crinkled-up-nose snaggly-one-toothed grin, and all I know is that I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

And the first step in my journey to becoming Harrison’s other mommy legally…began with some fingerprints.


I have known for a while all of the things that have to be done to get this adoption completed:  file the petition with the district court in San Antonio, have a home study done by a social worker, get a set of fingerprints for my attorney to send to Austin for a report, then plan our trip down to San Antonio for our court date.  I don’t know if there is a particular order, but I decided to go ahead and get the fingerprinting done, so that when I visited the attorney (aka my BFF Kim) with the paperwork to get started, then I could also have those with me for her to send off.

So last week I loaded up the baby and waited for a lull in the storms that were raging outside, and off we went to the police station around the corner.  When we arrived, I loaded her into the baby carrier and strapped her to my front, grabbed my camera and off we went.  My first stop was at the clerk’s window for the court, who directed me down a hall to another little window at the police station.  Once I got to THAT window, I was then directed to a door leading outside, and told to walk all the way around the police station’s building to the new jail entrance.  Ah.  Okay.  So off I went again, hoping that the dark, ominous sky would hold off until we got this done and back to the Jeep.  When I got to the jail’s entrance and waiting room, I was once again at a little window – with no one behind it.  Great.  Um, hellooooooo?  Anyone home??  I pressed a button on an intercom – nothing.  Finally, a few minutes later, I hear the nice Southern drawl of an older lady come on the intercom, “What can we help you with honey?”  Oh!  “I need to get my fingerprints.”  She came back with, “Alright sugar.  I’ll let the jailer know that you’re up there.  That’s an awfully pretty baby you have there.”  Thank you ma’am.

Soon a nice young police jailer dude was at the window, asking for my driver’s license.  He then called someone from somewhere in the back on his little batphone in there, and soon I heard locks clicking and he came out to the waiting area.  He humored me while I took pictures, and even assisted in taking some himself while he proceeded to take me through the fingerprinting process.  I asked him if he had ever fingerprinted anyone before who had a baby strapped to their chest, and he just laughed and said, “Well no.  This would be the first.”


He was very nice and helpful, and I was glad to be happily fingerprinted – and unfortunately, I have done it unhappily before!  Once he was done, we headed outside and trucked back over to the parking lot where I got Harrison back into her carseat just before the bottom dropped out and the torrential rains started again.  But I didn’t care.  I was thrilled to have taken the first step to begin the process!  It was a beautiful, beautiful day.

 

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (5/9/2012):

“Often the right path is the one that may be hardest for you to follow. But the hard path is also the one that will make you grow as a human being.”
Karen Mueller Coombs, Bully at Ambush Corner

This is hard to talk about.  It is embarrassing, humiliating, and somehow a reflection of how my parenting has somehow taken a wrong turn.  I am one who has no tolerance for bullying – EVER.  When my oldest son was bullied in high school by some redneck kid (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, went to the school, talked to an administrator, and it was straightened out and over.  When my youngest son was bullied this year in middle school by a snarky girl (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, called the teacher, who spoke to the counselor and together they dealt with it.  So imagine my absolute horror this morning when I receive a call from the assistant principal of the middle school:  my son was in her office…for bullying. 

She proceeded to tell me that he and another student had gotten into trouble during band class for talking too much, and when they didn’t stop, they got sent to the office.  The other student had told my son to “shut up,” but when pressed for the reason, the truth came out that it was because my son had been picking on him for weeks during band.  Teasing him and making fun of him when he got notes to the music wrong, or for making a mistake while they were all playing.  I hung my head as I heard her tell me that while my child had told the truth and admitted his role, that it was indeed a form of bullying, and she had just suspended another for ten days for the same thing.  What do I say?  What do I do?  I was immediately at a loss, and wanted to crawl under a rock.  I told her that I absolutely did not understand where it was coming from, considering he had gone through the same thing just a short time ago in the school year.  She also knew about the previous incident, and therefore didn’t quite understand herself.  So she said that she wanted to put him into in-school suspension for today, and for the two days following; I told her I was absolutely behind her one hundred percent.  But now I have to figure out what to say and do when he gets home – there has to be consequences here as well.  I am just at a loss. 

I have thought about it all day, since I got the phone call.  When I called Erikka, she was at a loss as well.  We have both seen how he can be with other kids, and have had talks with him about the way that he treats others.  We know he is very intelligent, but with that comes the problem that HE knows he is very intelligent.  We have seen and heard him with other kids, talking down to them like they are dumb, or not as smart as he.  So now he is apparently talking down to kids in band, speaking to them like they aren’t as good as he is as well.  After years and years, for as long as I can remember, he has been taught tolerance and to treat others as he would want to be treated.  We don’t believe that we are better than anyone else, so I’m not sure where he would obtain this arrogant attitude.  It is very troubling to me, as his mom, just as it was troubling when he was being bullied by someone else.  I absolutely cannot abide my kid being THAT kid – but how do I stop it?  I will, of course, call his dad this evening, and I am sure that he will want to talk to him.  It just seems that no matter what any of us say to him, or take away from him as punishment, nothing seems to get through.  I think this is what is the most disturbing to me – consequences don’t seem to phase him.  How do I get through to him, to make him see all of the potential that he possesses in that magnificent brain, if only he would use it for making himself into a productive and successful person on planet Earth?

What do you do when it’s YOUR kid who is the bully?

I tearfully told him of my disappointment, embarrassment, and disgust over his actions.  I told him about the little boy who lived a few miles from us, who killed himself three years ago at the age of nine, because he was bullied.  That boy would be twelve today, and in the sixth grade.  I told him that I could not tolerate my child being part of this horrible problem of bullying in this nation.

“Noah, you absolutely cannot be part of the problem, and it is a very big and very real and very wrong problem.  You MUST be part of the solution.  That kid that you picked on may not have very many friends, and what if you were the factor that pushes him to suicide – you don’t want to live with that kind of guilt.  Every one of those kids that have killed themselves over bullying experienced someone who was part of the problem – the bully.  You don’t want to be that person.  You can be part of the solution.  You can be his friend.  We can never have too many friends.”

“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.”   ~ Jeffrey Benjamin