Prop 8 protest

Prop 8 protest
One of my favorite signs seen at a marriage equality protest.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Make a plan for your companion animals

Reading an article this morning reminded me about a blog post I have been meaning to write. The article is about a woman who passed away suddenly and how the local animal shelter is taking care of her dog.

We have run into this a lot. I remember several years back when we met Linus and Lucy. I was at Maxfund cleaning cages. They were sharing a cage and I realized that they were petrified. I learned that their person had passed away suddenly and they had ended up in a shelter. In the couple of hours that I was there they pooped all over themselves three times. I called Mike and we took them in as fosters.

Linus and Lucy were both older, Maltese-mix dogs. Beautiful and loving. We could tell that they had been loved and adored. They were definitely freaked out about losing their person AND ending up in a noisy shelter.

They loved being with us. Whenever Mike was home they were on his lap. There was never enough cuddle time for them!

After a couple of weeks with us a wonderful woman adopted them.

Please make a plan for your companion animals. Yes, I mean including them in your will. If you don't have a will, you can still plan for your animals by making agreements with your friends or family. We have fostered and cared for so many beautiful dogs whose person did not have a plan. The ones we have cared for were the lucky ones.

We have a plan. And we are part of some of our friends' plans. We want to make sure that all of our family members will be taken care of and loved by people we know if anything tragic happens to us.

So go ahead. Do it today. Call a friend or favorite family member or someone who works at your vets office.  Make sure your family member(s) is/are going to be safe if something unforeseen happens.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why we ask you to vote for President Obama

Mike and I voted today!

I am starting this post with a line from within the post. It's towards the end and I want to make sure that anyone who even browses this post will read it:

The simple reality is that for gay people and women (especially poor women), life will be much different under a Romney/Ryan administration than under President Obama.

I clearly remember the day Mike and I went to vote in 2008. I was ecstatic to vote for Barack Obama. Election night was a thrill.

There were a lot of promises. I have heard them before. People have been talking about ending the ban on gays in the military for a long time. That's just one example.

I believed that he would close Guantanamo. I believed he would work for equality. I believed that the economy would get better.

It all hasn't come to be. And I am once again ecstatic to go vote for President Obama. Because we have a ton of readers in several of the "toss up" states, I wanted to write a blog asking you to vote for President Obama.

There is a huge difference between the President and Mitt Romney, more so with social issues. There are many reasons why I am voting for President Obama and not Mitt Romney:

I believe the economy will get better with the President's continued leadership.

I believe we will not get involved with wars we cannot afford with President Obama.

I believe that President Obama honestly wants to make our education system stronger, that he believes in strong, vibrant, innovative public schools.

President Obama believes in equality and will not attack my family or my marriage.

I believe President Obama (and his wife!) truly are concerned for veterans and the care they receive after military service.

President Obama ended the ban on gays and lesbians in the military.

A vote for President Obama is a vote for tolerance (in many forms). A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for intolerance (in many forms).

I believe Mitt Romney is anti gay. His desire is to attack to my marriage by making it unconstitutional.

I believe Mitt Romney has no regard for women in regards to their own health and choices.

I believe Mitt Romney would cave to the religious zealots in our country.

Mitt Romney has said (when he was asked in Colorado) that he does not believe in civil unions for gays and lesbians if they (the civil unions) are "too close" to marriage.

Most of Mitt Romney's charitable giving was to the Mormon Church. The same church that funded Proposition 8 in California.

I believe that Mitt Romney seriously believes in what he said about the 47%.

I understand that many people support Mitt Romney for a variety of reasons and I also understand that many will disagree with my reasons. The simple reality is that for gay people and women (especially poor women), life will be much different under a Romney/Ryan administration than under President Obama. Not just different, Progress made towards equality will falter and the level of freedom for gay and lesbian people and for women will decrease.

I have heard from many people we know who want to vote for Romney, a third-party candidate or who will not vote at all. Please reconsider, and vote for President Obama. Your vote could mean the difference between an administration that fully supports equality and one that fully believes that gay people should not have equal rights (and that's putting it nicely).

Meanwhile, as we count down to election day, if we disagree let's disagree with love and kindness. There is a huge amount of vitriol out there and I know that me, Mike and our readers do not need to be a part of that.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pro animal but anti gay?

It was many years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. Rick Santorum, then a US Senator, was being honored by a national animal group. I was disgusted. It was like gay people were being kicked to the curb by this group. Betrayal in it's deepest, harshest forms.

I understand that animal groups are animal groups. They have a mission, one that does not include equality or even support for gay people. With so much animal cruelty going on in this country I totally understand that animal groups have to focus on their mission.

And I am one who works daily to be a voice for all of the voiceless. My mission includes speaking out against cruelty, hate, bigotry and intolerance in any form.

So what are animal advocates to think when a national group writes an op-ed in a national magazine, Veg News, in support of a candidate. Like everything we have to do these days, investigate.

If you are an animal rights activist and you support equality for gay people, I urge you to look into any candidate that is supported by a national animal group. I personally could never vote for or support a candidate for Congress who does not believe in equality regardless of what they may support or not support in Congress regarding animals.

A wonderful example is a positive note about Representative Mike Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania. We know from the Veg News article that he is the lead sponsor of a bill to ban the trade of primates as exotic pets. We do not know how his Democratic opponent feels about this and, being solely focused on animals, we do not know by this account that he does not support marriage equality or that he received just a 5% grade from the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group.

There is a similar note about Representative Michael Grimm, who was highlighted in the same Veg News article. He is against marriage equality. He has received a 0% grade from the Human Rights Campaign.

Of course HRC grades solely on how an elected official votes for gay/lesbian/equality issues. I get that. And i hope you get that a 0% or 5% grade means that they basically do not like gay people.

This blog post is just vegan food for thought. As I get to know many of our readers and supporters I know that they fight for animals and also believe in equality. Pro animal does not mean pro equality.

I want both in a candidate.

Please do not support anti-equality candidates, no matter what the national animal groups say.

Thank you so much for reading this!



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mourning a dead child

Although I live in the real world and know that there are thousands of missing children out there, my first reaction to a local 10 year old girl going missing was " what the ____ is wrong with this world?".

Over the days of her disappearance I became very emotional about her. For the record, we do not know her or any of her family. She is simply a sweet little girl who went to a park a block from her home to meet friends so they could walk to school together yet never made it to the park. Her family lives just north of me and Mike.

I had to watch every press conference and read everything I could about the investigation. Anger, sadness, even crying for a little girl who at one moment is headed to meet friends in her neighborhood and the next moment she has vanished.

Mike and I do not have children. I can't relate to what the parents are going through. Yet like many who have expressed themselves at vigils and community gatherings, I am outraged. I keep thinking about what I can do and the clear answer is nothing. At least I can't do anything for her but my wheels are turning on what I can do for others.

The last press conference I watched was with the Chief of Police of Westminster telling us that the body found two days prior was indeed that of little Jessica.

I cried.

I want to live in a world where this does not happen. Where even the thought of this would be strange.

And I am surrounded by violence: against children, against women, against animals, against gay people.

Deep breathes.

I am disgusted.

Loving thoughts and prayers for sweet Jessica and everyone who loved her.

Thank you for reading.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Gratitude for friendships

It was a fun, sunshiny day in Denver. I was attending a fundraisers conference at DU (University of Denver) and as always I arrived early to scope out the place and meet the speakers who always arrive early to test the audio visual. Mission accomplished and I chose a place in the middle of the room and started checking out what was going on in the world of Twitter. The conference was based on using social media in fundraising so the Twitter check was appropriate.

I was the only attendee in the room, a room seated for 600+ folks.

Suddenly a woman says hello to me. I can't remember if she just joined me or if I invited her to join me. She commented on my bright pink laptop cover.

This is how I met my dear friend Sarah.

Friendships to me have always been hugely important. I don't mean folks I see once in a while or those I see at different activist events. Those folks are great. I am thinking of those friends who make up the human fabric of of your life. Those who touch your soul and add an immense amount of love to your life. I'm sure you can think of them right now.

Sarah became that for me. We are both in the non-profit world. We both were married to the loves of our lives. Lunch or coffee with Sarah always makes my day, sometimes my week.

Horrific tragedy struck Sarah this year. She will never be the same. I don't want to go into the tragedy but will say that as a friend and as someone who cares deeply for her all I could do was be there for her. I could love her, hold her, hug her, run errands for her, be loving to her family and other friends who were around. I couldn't take away the excruciating pain.

I still can't. I can still do everything else I just mentioned though.

I had to say "see you later" to Sarah last night. She had moved here from England and made the difficult decision to take her sons and move back. The other night we had an amazing talk and I left with my eyes filled with tears and feeling emotionally numb.

And filled with gratitude.

As a gay man, family was not always available to me. They are now, but the whole coming out process isn't easy for anyone. These days it's a bit easier but still causes havoc in family relationships. My friends become family. They know it. I talk about it a lot. Even with great relationships with most of my family these days, my friends are my rock. They are part of what makes my life so charmed.

So it's not easy saying goodbye to one. I know I'll see her again. We talked about me and Mike meeting her in Iceland!

Thank you my dear friends. I love you.

Thanks for reading. If you'd like to connect but don't want to leave a comment, my personal email is vegandude@msn.com