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. 

How I stand against the vile, intolerant, hateful speech and policy proposals of the President-elect (and how you can, too)

You may have noticed if you follow me on any form of social media that I haven't been quiet about my opposition to the President-elect.

I can't be.

This is not a Democrat-Republican or liberal-conservative divide. Those who have known me for a long time or read this blog on a regular basis can attest that during previous Presidential campaigns, I have been far less vocal about my political positions, simply because I felt that Americans were faced with the choice of two serious minded candidates who were both more than fit for the office. 

While I certainly preferred one candidate over another, I did not think that either candidate was bad for America, and therefore, I did not feel the need to be overly vocal. 

In the case of Donald Trump, I believe that we have elected a fundamentally indecent man who has said vile, despicable things about enormous numbers of American citizens and proposed unconscionable policies that in many cases would violate the Constitution of the United States and the fundamental rights of American citizens.

I do not believe that he is fit for the office of President of the United States.

Since he will soon be the President, I have sought ways of personally counteracting his hateful speech, his xenophobic policy proposals, and the fear that he has instilled in so many of the people who I know.

If you are feeling powerless, hopeless, angry, or afraid, it's important that you take action. Doing something productive and meaningful will always make you feel better and stronger. I promise you.

So far, I have done this by embracing, supporting, and promoting the things that he he has stood against most often.

For example:

  • I have strongly supported my Mexican, Muslim, female, immigrant, and disabled friends and promoted their acceptance and success whenever possible.
  • We have purchased subscriptions to The New York Times and Slate Plus in an effort to support the journalists who will work tirelessly to hold Trump accountable for his words and deeds.
  • My wife and I have called Senators and Congresspeople in order to express our opposition to appalling Presidential appointments like Steve Bannon.
  • I have sought to engage in constructive discussions with reasonable people who voted for Trump in an effort to understand them better and promote a more positive, liberal agenda to them.
  • I have sought to bring the voices of the marginalized and the maligned to the Speak Up stage in order to allow them to be heard beyond the hateful speech of Trump and his surrogates.
  • I have shared, endorsed, and proliferated news stories and other bits of media that stand against the Donald Trump's racist, misogynist, religiously intolerant, and xenophobic speech and policy proposals.

This holiday commercial for Amazon, starring an actual priest and imam, is exactly the kind of thing that I am talking about. It offers a beautiful message of religious tolerance, inclusion, and understanding. It has also incensed the religiously intolerant and xenophobic supporters of Donald Trump (especially when it aired during NFL games last weekend), so sharing it whenever possible warms my heart.

I'll do what I can, whenever I can, to stand against Donald Trump's vile and hateful speech and unconscionable policy proposals. Sometimes this simply means embracing and sharing the opposing voices.

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.

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?

So much nuance in just 30 seconds of bigotry

This anti-Obama, anti-gay marriage ad is fascinating.

First, despite the enormous amount of money that Super PACs are pouring into the campaign, they apparently cannot afford professional actors or writers. The ad is embarrassing in terms of its production value.

If I had paid for this ad, I’d be angry as hell.

Second, this may seem picky, but does anyone other than me think that the shot of the coffee mug being placed on the napkin is a little strange? I’ve watched the ad a dozen times, hoping to discover a subliminal message hidden  within the shot, but I can’t find anything save the inexplicable decision to focus on the mug and the napkin for one awkward second.

Bad acting, bad writing and bad direction. Way to go, Campaign for American Values PAC.

Third, I’d like to know what newspaper the woman in the ad is reading, because President Obama has not proposed any legislation regarding gay marriage, nor has he expressed any desire to do so.

In fact, he doesn’t need to. The states will eventually legalize gay marriage on their own. According to recent CBS and Pew polls, more Americans now support gay marriage than oppose it, and support is increasing rapidly. Six states have already legalized gay marriage, and at least two more are likely to join the ranks in 2013.

Perhaps the producers of this ad haven’t noticed, but even the Republican candidates have been mum on gay marriage. They know it’s a losing battle.

Fourth, I’d like the Super PAC responsible for this ad to find me one person in America who:

  1. Voted for President Obama in 2008
  2. Believes that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman
  3. Believes that President Obama is attempting to “force gay marriage” on the American people
  4. Would switch his or her vote to the Republican ticket based solely on this faulty belief

There are a lot of people in the United States, but I would venture to guess that not a single American citizen could meet all four of the criteria that the characters in this ad represent. This person simply doesn’t exist. It’s an ad directly solely at the two fictional people who appear in the ad. 

Last, did you notice the final, gauzy image in the ad? The family has gathered in the living room, presumably to discuss how disgusting gay people are and how legalizing gay marriage will make everyone gay and ruin the country and stuff.

When I saw the couple’s three smiling children, I immediately thought, “Quick! Someone save those kids from those bigoted, poorly portrayed parents! Remove those kids from the home! Now!”

Then again, the kids probably don’t need any rescuing. Support for gay marriage among young people is extraordinarily high. More than two-thirds of people born after 1981 now support gay marriage and those numbers are also increasing rapidly. The odds would seem to indicate that at least two of the children in the ad will ultimately reject their parents’ bigotry in the same way that my generation rejected the racism of our parents’ generation.