50th anniversary of March on Washington changed much, hopes to change more

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

Fifty years ago today, something momentous took place in Washington, D.C. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the podium at the historic March on Washington to deliver his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, the tapestry of the United States was set to be forever changed. Little did he realize that all these years later, his words would echo with as much resonance as they did that day.

What an amazing premise was the entire concept of the march. A peaceful, non-confrontational way to express the disappointment of a marginalized race of people, the walk drew participants from every walk of life. Rich or poor, young or old, even white or black, it didn’t matter; the mission was the same…equality. And 50 years later, Dr. King’s words still hang in the ears of those who still struggle for equality.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

In 1963, those words did indeed ring true; with some caveats. Even though for the first time in history blacks were to be viewed as equal to their white brethren, many didn’t see it that way. To many, to be black was to still be inferior. And sadly, this is still in the mind of many in this country today. But much of what the March on Washington stood for is outside of race. The poverty level for blacks in that time was huge, and no opportunities were available. Before the march, there was no hope of this statistic changing. So while race was the impetus behind the march, what it really stood for was having the opportunity to have a chance…a chance at a better quality of life.

“We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi and the Negro in New You believes he has nothing to vote for.”

Affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, and greater opportunities for education have all helped blacks in the U.S. to achieve that chance at a better life. Blacks have been offered greater opportunities in business, in their communities, in politics. Adopting the moniker African Americans, we have chosen to pick up the gauntlet that Dr. King threw down that day in 1963. Many of us have run with it, some have stumbled and fallen. But with the resiliency of a people long presumed to be destined for failure, we press on…and will continue to do so.

“We ain’t where we could be, we ain’t where we should be, but thank God we ain’t where we was.”

Fast forward 50 years, and today the struggle for equality has shifted. As African Americans, our pursuit of a better quality of life has been improved…but there is still ground to cover. And now, we need to take those lessons taught to us by Dr. King, and share them with those facing the marginalization and discrimination that many before us endured. And it is also important to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the pursuit.

“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last.”

Much thanks…to Dr. King, and to all those who had the courage to stand up to their beliefs. We all owe each and every one a debt of thanks.

Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

U.S. Supreme Court prepared to rul on monumental issues TOMORROW

p549007_mAccording to the U.S. Supreme Count’s online blog, decisions will be made on a number of key issues and released tomorrow. Among those include DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8. Check the SCOTUS page for updates beginning at 7:00a.m. MDT to learn of their decisions on these hot-button issues. What are your thoughts on the issues on the table? Weigh in with your comments.

Supreme Court begins hearing gay marriage issue today

Supreme Court building.The proceeding at the U.S. Supreme Court got underway this morning. The decisions regarding gay marriage will have a ripple effect that will be felt for some time, but does same-sex marriage really matter? Follow this link, and see real-time and time-delayed coverage of the proceedings. What are your thoughts on gay marriage? How will it impact your life or the lives of those you care about? Weigh in with your comments.

Public ceremony scheduled for Gov. Hickenlooper to sign Civil Unions bill

Pen makes signatureAt long last, civil unions are going to be signed into law. On Thursday, March 21 2013, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will sign the bill making civil unions legal in the state of Colorado. The 39-26 vote was a cause for rejoicing for state Democrats, and a source of contention for Republicans. The primary reason for the opposition’s stance centers on how civil unions and religion interact. Which raises the question; what ever happened to separation of church and state in politics?

Republicans protested the bill because it does not offer religious exemptions which they say will cause the issue to wind up in court. Still, Republicans who came out in favor of the bill say voting in favor was not just good politics, but good for people.

“What this bill is about is personal freedom and individual liberties,” said Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, one of two Republicans supporting Senate Bill 11. “This is a good conservative bill.”

The long fought battle is particularly sweet for two lawmakers; State Senator Pat Steadman and Speaker of the State House of Representatives Mark Ferrandino. The two have been on the front lines of the issue since the beginning, and both felt the sting of defeat at the end of session last year. In that vote, then House Speaker Frank McNulty mired the bill in bureaucratic red tape causing it to die before a complete vote could be held. But this time, it was Democrats who had the last word, inspiring Senator Steadman to take to the Twitter-sphere with a poem he wrote in honor of the momentous occasion.

“11 is a prime number. Eleven is a lovely word.  It’s binary; a pair of ones. It’s two like things, bound together, to make a whole of ones.”

So, when Governor Hickenlooper puts pen to paper this week, he will not only be changing the lives of countless men and women in this state. He will also be striking a blow for all those who fought so hard on the front lines for equality under the law for all Coloradans  Representative Ferrandino summed it up best when asked what the vote meant to the state;

“This bill is about three simple things,” Ferrandino said. “It’s about love, it’s about family, and it’s about equality under the law.”

Governor Hickenlooper is slated to sign the bill this Thursday, March 21st in a public ceremony to be held at the Historic Colorado Center. Scheduled for 3:00pm, we will keep you posted as to any updates in this auspicious event.

National Coming Out Day…remember you are worthy!

National Coming Out Day means a lot of things to a lot of people. And don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great that there is a day set aside as a day folks can stand up and finally be true to who they really are. For those of us who have made the choice to “come out,” it has to be one of the most courageous statements we can make in life. However, once we have chosen to emerge from our closets, the real work begins. The struggle to come out was hard, but often times the aftermath can seem much harder. Cliché as it may sound, the words are true; it does get better.

I was lucky. When I came out to my mom, she couldn’t have been more gracious and understanding. “Sweetheart, I knew that when you were eight,” was her only reply (I wish she had informed me of this little factoid a bit sooner, but I digress). That, and her sincere wish that I just be careful, take care of myself, and remember that I was worthy of love. That’s one of the components to our coming out process that we often forget; that we are worthy.

A fair cross-section of society would love to see us go back into the closet, and would gladly wield the hammer to nail the door shut. But the tide is changing slowly. There is more and more support from the “other side.” Still, in this election year, the cause of same-sex couples has been a topic up for discussion, but not a front burner issue. Why? Are we still considered “too hot to handle” in the volatility of today’s political arena? President Barack Obama, no pun intended, came out (finally) as an open supporter to the plight of gay marriage in this country. On the other side of the political coin, Presidential contender Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have campaigned to their conservative base a vow to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the U.S. Constitution. I think it’s safe to say that Msrs. Romney and Ryan are not celebrating this National Coming Out Day.

Our sexuality is such a minimal part of what makes up our humanity. And isn’t that our most important attribute; our humanity?  We are all here to love and be loved; regardless of the sex of the other person. And often when individuals come out, they forget that they are worthy of receiving love. Do not forget you are worthy….NEVER forget you are worthy. And if you have any religious stumbling blocks, keep in mind that God doesn’t make junk. Like my mom said all those years ago, we are all worthy of love. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer…it doesn’t matter. We all deserve to love and be loved in return. Wait…there’s a song in that last line, I am sure of it…

So remember, not just today but every day, to love one another regardless of their sexuality. And if you are making the choice to come out today, welcome! You are already loved!

Here, courtesy of the Huffington Post, are some groundbreaking celebs that have made the choice to come out in the public eye. If they can do it, you can do it. As always we welcome your thoughts. Happy Coming Out!

Russian President Vladimir Putin: fan of group sex?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and “Pussy Riot” singer Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

With the political climate here in the U.S. heating up, all the hate-speak and attack advertising being lobbed at either side is weighing heavily on voters. But there is always an assumption that things could always get worse. Or could they? They can, if your country’s President comes down in favor of some “questionable” sexual activity in an interview with the press.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent interview with Russian television station RT alluded that he might be a fan of group sex.  During the interview Putin came out as an orgy enthusiast to a stunned news commentator.

“Some fans of group sex say that it’s better than one-on-one because, as with any collective work, you can skive (avoid work or a duty) off,” Putin said.

Putin made these comments during a discussion about an orgy that occurred in 2008, in which Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, singer for the punk rock band “Pussy Riot,” participated. The event took place at the state biology museum in Moscow, and later a video of the event wound up online.

“It’s OK to do what you like privately,” continued the Russian president. “But I wouldn’t be that certain about uploading your acts on the Internet. It could be subject to legal assessment.”

Truer words were never spoken. Tolokonnikova and two of her band mates were recently charged with “hooliganism” spurred from a stunt involving the burning of a photograph of Putin during a performance of her band. She was sentenced to two years in jail; a decisions that has been denounced by others in the worldwide music community.

Attempts to urge Putin to commute the sentence have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, during a portion of the interview asking about the possibility of clemency, Putin took the moment to offer more of his own special brand of humor. At one point in the discussion Putin forced his interviewer to translate the word “pussy,” while making the point that the band has inappropriately injected the curse word into public discourse.

What are your thoughts on the Russian President’s interview? Is the sentence for Tolokonnikova too harsh? Weigh in with your comments.