Fear not. This is not an example of bigotry as I initially thought. It's simply stupidity.

Behold. The White House published this photograph of First Lady Melania Trump and the other spouses of NATO leaders at the Royal Castle of Laeken in Brussels during the recent NATO summit.

Initially left off the captioned list of names was the First Gentleman of Luxembourg, Gauthier Destenay, who is married Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, making Bettel the first European Union head of government to marry a same-sex partner. 

The man in the photograph is gay, and his name was the only name left off. 

I was inclined to assume that the omission of Bettel's name was an act bigotry given Trump's complete abandonment of his campaign commitment to the LGBTQ community, but in addition to the omission of Bettel, Melania Trump's name was listed twice, Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France, was listed as “Brigitte Trogneux,” and the year of the photograph was listed as 2917.

The trifecta of stupidity. 

So the omission was probably typical Trump incompetence rather than Trump bigotry.

Though possibly both.  

This should not be surprising coming from a President who didn't know that Frederick Douglass was no longer alive.

A President whose administration who invented The Bowling Green Massacre, the Swedish Incident, and "alternative facts."

A President who continues to assert that his Electoral victory was one of the largest in American history when it was actually one of the narrowest. 

A President whose administration managed to unbelievably include a typo in Trump's official Presidential portrait.  

It's almost always correct to assume the worst from this President. It's just difficult to determine if the worst is the result of his complete incompetence or his despicable nature. 

A note to my children regarding the shame and embarrassment of 2015

When you read about the year 2015 in the history books, little ones, please remember this:

Yes, it’s true. It is still perfectly legal in much of the United States in 2015 to terminate a person’s employment because he or she was gay.

But please know that many of us – and perhaps even most of us – are nothing like the bigoted, cowardly elected officials who allowed such laws to persist.

I don’t know a single person who supports this form of discrimination, little ones. I know these bigots exist. I see them on television from time to time, holding up grammatically incorrect and poorly spelled signs and expressing their support for the predominantly old, white men who either believe in this form of discrimination or are too cowardly to stand by their own convictions and oppose their constituency.

image   image

The country is changing fast, little ones. Same sex marriage is now legal in a majority of the states and for the vast majority of Americans. Ten years ago, there was just one state where same sex marriage was legal. The shift in attitude has been profound.

I have no doubt that by the time you are my age, the ability for an employer to fire an employee because he or she is gay will seem as archaic to you as Jim Crow seems to me. And like Jim Crow, a large majority of Americans opposed those laws at the time, too. But changing the law is oftentimes more difficult than changing attitudes and beliefs. 

Thankfully, the country is changing more quickly than anyone would have ever imagined. Just not quick enough if you are gay.

It’s a shame when people pose as Christians and give Jesus a bad name.

A Walkerton, Indiana, pizza shop is the state’s first business to declare it will not service gay weddings after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law last week.


“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Memories Pizza’s Crystal O’Connor told a local news station. “We are a Christian establishment.”

It’s astounding that a person could claim to be following the teachings of Jesus and believe that discrimination based upon sexual orientation is something he would support.

Recently Washington Post book critic Ron Charles tweeted this:

Seriously, how do you study the Gospels and conclude that Jesus wanted his followers to turn away people they disapprove of? #Indiana

I replied to Charles, offering a possible (and probable) explanation:

In all likelihood, there has been no study of the Gospels. At best, this pizza shop owner has probably listened to out-of-context selections of the Bible, read to her on Sundays by a person who is employed by an organization that discriminates based upon sexual orientation and demands that its employees teach this doctrine to their congregants.

This does not qualify as study. At best, it amounts to biased, second-hand browsing. At worst, it’s a form of indoctrination.

Study requires a careful examination of source materials. It requires an open mind and skepticism. It requires a person to ask difficult questions and give serious consideration to opposing views.

Not exactly the way that services are typically run on a Sunday.

I am not a religious person. I call myself a reluctant atheist. I have spent a great deal of time in Catholic and Protestant Churches and attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for years, but I simply could not find the faith required to believe. I desperately want to believe in a benevolent God and a glorious afterlife, but I have yet to be able to do so.

But I have read The Bible cover to cover three times – twice in college and once on my own – and based upon those careful readings, I can conclude that there is no way in hell that Jesus would supported the position taken by this pizza shop owner.

If the pizza shop owner actually sat down and read and studied The Bible from beginning to end, the message of Jesus becomes abundantly clear. I may not believe that Jesus was the son of God, but I think he was a brilliant philosopher and teacher whose belief in accepting all people regardless of their differences is clear and profound.

Jesus – without a doubt – would stand against any opposition to same-sex marriages.

Still, I suspect that Jesus would happily eat a pizza from Memories Pizza – especially if their pizza is good – because amongst the many things that Jesus espoused was his belief in both acceptance and forgiveness.

Crystal O’Connor may be wrong about her interpretation of The Bible, and her position on same-sex marriage may be bigoted, but that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t be able to make a living. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t make good pizza. I suspect that she is probably a good person – better than me – but misled by a church that picks and chooses its Scripture in order to support its own discriminatory positions.

Let’s be honest:

Any institution that places the text of Leviticus over the teachings of Jesus can hardly be called Christian.

Mike Huckabee is a bigot still living in 1996

Jon Stewart, while interviewing Mike Huckabee, said the following:

Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have for religion — we protect religion. And talk about a lifestyle choice —religion is absolutely a choice. Gay people don’t choose to be gay. At what age did you choose to not be gay?

You know, you talk about the pro-life movement being one of the great shames of our nation. I think if you want number two, I think it’s that: It’s a travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to make their case that they deserve the same basic rights as someone else.

I feel bad for Mike Huckabee. He talks about same sex marriage like it's 1996 and the world is still ruled by ignorant bigots and sensible cowards.

Someone please tell him that while he was busy doing his show on Fox News, the world finally moved on.


Exit the bigots

The Boy Scouts of America have lost six percent of their members since changing their policy on gay participants, the group recently announced.

Some may think this is bad news.

I think the opposite.

They’re merely weeding out the bigots.

It’s true that in some cases, unbiased boys may be denied the benefits of Scouting because of their bigoted parents, but I think the greater  percentage of the decrease in membership is the result of the elimination of bigotry.  

As a former Boy Scout who loves Scouting and owes a great deal to the organization, my hope is that they reverse their decision on allowing gay adult leaders soon, too.

Scouting may lose another 6% of it’s membership or more by allowing openly gay adult leaders to serve, but I’d much rather see a smaller organization that adheres to the tenets of the Boy Scout Law and Oath than a larger organization populated by bigots and fools.


Bigots are better than naked priests

Methodist minister Frank Schaefer was defrocked on Thursday for violating church law by presiding at his son’s same-sex wedding.


Obviously the Methodist Church sucks for doing this.

But in addition to ending their bigotry and buffet-style application of Biblical law, I would also suggest removing the word defrock from the church’s lexicon as well. 

I understand that defrock means to “deprive a holy person of ecclesiastical status,” but since a frock is an item of clothing and the prefix de- is used to add the meaning “opposite. reduce or remove,” the word also engenders the image of stripping a priest or minister of his or her clothing.

At least it does for me.

I don’t think that any church should allow the mental image of a forcefully stripped, naked priest to stand.

Why not just say that you fired the guy because the leaders of the church are apparently a bunch of stupid bigots who only read the passages of the Bible that most conveniently support their bigotry and ignore those passages that prevent them from eating bacon cheeseburgers, watching football on Sunday or wearing cotton blends?

I honestly think a statement like this would sound better than defrocking.

But perhaps it’s only a writer and wordsmith like me who would deconstruct the word defrock and end up with the image of a forcefully stripped naked priest.

I use the word “bigot” instead of “homophobic.” You should, too. Here’s why.

A reader noted my tendency to use the words bigot and bigotry in lieu of homophobia or homophobic when describing an idiot who is prejudiced against or hates homosexuals. Observant reader. This is actually a purposeful choice.

A phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear or aversion to something.” When attached to another word or word segment, the fear or aversion is made clear.

Hydrophobia is the fear of water.

Claustrophobia is the fear of enclosed spaces.

Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders.

I have always rejected the use of the word homophobic to indicate an individual who hates homosexuality because it’s inaccurate and in some ways lets those individuals off the hook for their hatred. It implies that their feelings about homosexuals are based more in fear than stupidity and cruelty, and it’s easier to understand or even forgive fear.

I can’t accept this. There is no understanding (and certainly no forgiveness) of a person who hates another based upon their sexual preference.

Also note that none of the other words used to describe hatred make use of the word phobia.

A person who is prejudiced against or hates someone of a different race is a racist. Not a racaphobe.

A person who is prejudiced against or hates a person of the opposite sex is a sexist. Not a sexophobe.

A person who is prejudiced against or hates a Jewish person is an anti-Semite. Not a Jewophobe.

Therefore, a person who is prejudiced against or hates homosexuals should not be a homophobe. And since the word homoist does not exist, I opt for the more universal bigot instead.

It’s a mean word. I like that.


In truth, there is no real word for a person who hates homosexuals, and I think that says a lot about the struggle that homosexuals have faced in attempting to gain political and cultural acceptance over time.

Even Webster’s fails miserably in its definition. The definition of homophobia is “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.”

Note that fear and aversion are listed first in the definition, ahead of discrimination (which still does not imply hatred or even dislike), and the word hatred or even a suggestion to hatred does not appear at all in the definition.

Compare this to the definition of racism:

a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

One definition describes a person who is possibly afraid of or dislikes homosexuals or treats them unfairly.

The other describes Hitler and the basis of the Nazi party.

Can you see why the word homophobic just doesn’t cut it for me?