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Gov. LePage demands sacrifice from state employees – except himself

March 14, 2011
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Following the fight in Wisconsin, I found this tidbit on Maine’s own Tea Partier-in-Chief stunningly bad policy and politics.

From the Kennebec Morning Sentinel:

Under Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget, teachers and other state employees will be required to increase their contributions to the pension system, from 7.65 percent of their salary to 9.65 percent.One public employee currently paying 7.65 percent, however, won’t see an increase.

The governor has exempted himself.

While public employees and teachers face this increase, as well as a raise in the retirement age, a freeze on cost-of-living adjustments for current retirees and a 2 percent cap on future cost of living increases, LePage’s personal contribution rate to the retirement system will remain the same, which means he’ll be paying $21,420 over four years.

Mike Tipping goes on to also explain that after serving as governor, LePage will receive a pension that a teacher would have to work 25 years to earn.  Tipping has more details and background at Maine Politics.

Glee’s ‘Teenage Dream’ and the message it sends to gay kids

November 11, 2010

I’m an admitted “Gleek.”  And yes, I love the show so much that I’ll even (grudgingly) use a term that sounds that ridiculous.  I think the show walks a remarkably fine line (with 98% success) between absurd caricatures, incredibly genuine and poignant moments, and even a bit of self-deprecating humor.

As any viewer knows, the story line they’ve advanced with the most time, energy and care has been that of Kurt’s coming out and the challenges one faces being young and gay.  While the humor around Kurt often relies on stereotypes, they’ve done a remarkably good job of making his emotions completely and totally typical.

For this week’s episode, I’d already seen the Teenage Dream video (at the bottom of this post), so the scene that struck me most was this one.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It resonated with me because by remaining closeted in high school (though it’s never a simple choice), I was choosing to run.  I’m not saying this with guilt or self-loathing, it just struck me that I made a choice and could have had a very different impact had I reacted to my feelings differently and acknowledged them openly.  Again, I say this more to comment on how impressive I find openly gay teens rather than to comment on my own experience.

However, that scene struck me because of who and where I am now.  When a friend sent me a blog post on Tuesday’s episode today, I completely changed my mind on the scene in the episode that held the most power.  From Tom & Lorenzo:

…To the straight people reading us: remember high school? Remember your favorite songs and movies, TV shows and music videos from that period? Imagine if all of that media bombardment telling you what to like, what to wear, and how to be attractive, popular, and cool, imagine that all of that aimed for and addressed everyone else but you. Imagine what it’s like when every sappy love song (or angry breakup song), every rom com, every trendy TV show and blockbuster movie, even every video game, imagine if they all depicted a form of romantic love that simply isn’t available to you. Imagine going through high school without even so much as a hint of yourself reflected in any of the things you watch and listen to, any of the things that literally every other kid is talking about. Imagine the one thing you want more than anything in the world: to be kissed, please god, just to be kissed, imagine you have never seen that depicted anywhere or referred to in any way but as something to be mocked and shunned.

We grew unexpectedly teary-eyed watching this number. Not because sappy teenage pop songs get us worked up, but because the sight of a sappy teenage pop song being sung by one cute teenage boy to another cute teenage boy is still, sad to say, an extreme rarity. All we could think while watching this number was, “My god. What would it have been like to see this at 14?” To have the media offer up a romantic fantasy that actually reflected what we secretly yearned for…

…Gay kids get none of that. Not one bit of it. The fact of the matter is, bullying is the natural result of all that socializing that reinforces heterosexuality as the norm and everything else as… well, so under-represented that it might as well still be a taboo. Teenagers see thousands of murders depicted onscreen by the time they reach 18 but most of them never see a boy kiss another boy or sing him a sweet love song. You want to prevent gay kids from killing themselves? Push for more scenes like the above. Giving a young gay boy the dream that someday Prince Charming will come and sing a love song to him? You cannot imagine. You simply cannot imagine how revolutionary such a thing is.

Reading this, I immediately thought back to the time when I was finally dealing with my coming out and my search for something as simple as songs that reflected my angst and were not gender specific (I didn’t want to give away too much).  It sounds like such a small thing, but when you’re at an age when the best way you know to express your feelings is to put your favorite lyrics up on Gchat (AIM was popular at that time I’m describing), it’s isolating.  This may even sound ridiculous, but at a time when you’re struggling to express yourself in any way and you can’t even find something in pop culture to relate too, it has an impact.

I do want to note that I disagree with their take on the effect of the It Gets Better Project.  They’re right that the campaign has mobilized thousands to speak out and raised incredible visibility to an issue that has been under the surface for far far too long.  Suicides among gay youth are not a new phenomenon.  Acknowledging, caring and seeing it as newsworthy is what’s new.  But we can’t underestimate the effect of so many leaders, media and celebrities getting on board with this campaign.  Regardless of what the President has or has not done in terms of policy, seeing him speak out to isolated LGBT youth as part of this project is incredibly powerful.  For perspective, when I was coming out, LGBT Americans weren’t just being ignored, we were being used by our President as a wedge issue in elections.  The contrast in the words being heard by LGBT youth about their worth couldn’t be greater.  The impact of this campaign is, I think, immeasurable.  Not because it’s not concrete but because we live in a society where we’re all bombarded by so many messages and this one is simple, effective, and rising above the rest.


And here’s the performance of Teenage Dream:

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sec. Clinton: It Gets Better

October 19, 2010

A fantastic message from a fantastic leader.  I’m so impressed she took the time to tape such an important message.  Leaders like Sec. Clinton help me to believe that tomorrow will be better.

Big Day: It’s Now Up To Obama To Reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

October 12, 2010

There’s a lot going on today (and the last month that I’ve been horribly MIA).  Two legal highlights:

  • The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice today announced it would be appealing the decisions from Massachusetts (Gill v. Office of Personal Management) which found parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.  Appealing the choice makes no sense on any front, especially when you consider the improbability of success with any plan to stand by the Administration’s promise to repeal DOMA through legislative action.  Considering what a fight Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been, I challenge anyone to present a reasonable theory on how this could happen through Congress.
  • A federal judge ruled today that all investigations and discharges under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell must stop immediately.  The ruling was not stayed, which means the era of DADT is over…unless the Obama Administration should decide to resurrect it by appealing the decision by U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips.  Based on all previous rulings that have found for gay rights, one has to expect that the Department of Justice will appeal this.  If one were to believe that President Obama wants to keep his campaign promises of repealing DADT and DOMA and enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the step after appealing this decision would be to finally push for repeal.  If this makes no sense to you, you’re not alone.

White House ‘Responds’ to DADT Repeal Effort

September 20, 2010

The White House responded today to an inquiry from the Washington Blade on the Defense Authorization Bill. You know, the one that contains both the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the DREAM Act. The repeal of DADT that the White House “supports” and that very well may not pass tomorrow.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is a good bill that is important for the overall health and well being of our forces, especially given the ongoing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said in a statement. “This legislation received bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate Armed Services Committee and the President hopes it receives similar bipartisan support in the Senate.”

Funny how at this crucial moment there is absolutely no acknowledgement that this is the make or break moment to repeal. No inspiring rhetoric. No comment at all.

It’s not just incredibly disappointing, it’s infuriating and sadly not shocking. With more than 75% of Americans supporting repeal, it shows a shocking lack of political backbone and is just plain baffling. Lots of people are to blame if the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell fails, and unfortunately it may be one of the few bipartisan efforts we’ll see this year.

Return to Blogging

September 20, 2010
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Apologies for a several week absence, especially a few very important weeks for efforts to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  I’m going to try to start writing more regularly, so please check back.

Violent Fallout from the Politicization of the NYC Mosque

August 25, 2010

A muslim taxi driver in New York City was stabbed by a passenger after being asked, and answering yes, to whether or not he was a muslim.  If anyone is surprised with this in the wake of the politicization of the mosque blocks away from Ground Zero.  As far as I’m concerned, this is in part the responsibility of people like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.  From ABC News:

A New York City cab driver was attacked Tuesday evening just after 6 p.m. by a passenger who asked him if he was Muslim, says the NYPD. A spokesman for a New York City cabbie group blamed the attack on the proposed construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack, but police said they were not aware of any link.

According to police, passenger Michael Enright, a 21-year-old from Brewster, New York, hailed a taxi at 24th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan driven by Ahmed Sharif, a resident of Queens.