Thursday, November 30, 2006

Happy Holidays From Our Home to Yours





Fame Becomes Me

Yesterday we saw Martin Short's broadway show "Fame Becomes Me".
We really enjoyed the show. There were many gut busting laughs. Also part of the show was Short's Hamilton, Ontario heritage. With the extended "ooouts" and "abooouts".

We also enjoyed seeing the annual Macy's holiday windows on our walk from Penn Station to the Theater district.

In other news, this morning my complete letter to the editor posted here on Nov 20th made it into our county wide weekly newspaper. I was also happy to see a Universal Unitarian Minister also addressing the local Pastor's terrible article. Sadly The Warren Reporter does not publish the letters to the editor online.

I admit I am a little nervous about this one. This newspaper is a weekly freebie that goes to every single household in our county. We have plenty of crazy right wingers in the reddest district in NJ. I know I am not the best writer, it just feels good to fight back.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finally time for a life update

We've been very busy in our house lately. We had a total of 21 people at Thanksgiving this year (Including us). For the first time in a long time all three of my brothers and their wonderful families shared Thanksgiving together. We really had a great time. It was a lot of work but worth every effort. Emilio created another fantastic feast.

We also lost one of our pets last Sunday. Oro was the sweetest ferret you could ever meet. We knew he was starting to slow down for about a week, on Saturday I carried him around the house and just laid him on my chest for most of the day. We decided to take him to the vet Saturday evening and on Sunday they put him to rest. 4.5 years ago Oro and his sister Perla were abandoned in a Brooklyn Warehouse during a terrible heat wave. Emilio brought them to our home and they helped create our little zoo. We lost Perla in August of 2005.

Emilio and I have begun our outside Christmas decorations. Our across the street neighbor said our combined efforts will make it the brightest corner in town. Right now Emilio is sewing banners we decided to create with "Peace", "Love" and "Joy" to go with the new peace symbol wreath we created in honor of the woman in Colorado that is having trouble with the one she displayed. Our 8 foot inflatable polar bear is proudly on the side porch roof and the 6 foot toy soldiers Emilio created from paper mache are standing firm on the porch. They are my favorite. We'll post photos when we are done with all the work.

Tomorrow we are going into NYC for a Broadway Show with my folks and we are still waiting to hear from the Judge regarding asylum.

I am having mixed feeling this holiday season. I love the holidays, but my mind keeps saying this is the last one near our family and friends. A bit of sweet and sour mind games.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My latest letter to the editor

This one I am submitting to the local weekly paper we get for free. I wonder if they will chop it up, it's pretty long.

__________________________________________________________________________


I am writing in response to Pastor Les Kleffman’s column “Sexuality’s not incidental” (11-17-06). Les states that God has a “clear moral code” regarding gay families. Just because Les says it does not make it so. What I think Les should clarify is his personal version of God supports denying LGBT families equal rights in our state, not everyone’s. Les leads the reader to believe we need to have a discussion on legal rights for our families while his entire article surreptitiously goes on to offer a closed mind to any right being afforded to LGBT families, with the only justification from him being because his God told him.

What needs to be made perfectly clear is the NJ Supreme Court ruled every citizen in our state is equal under the secular laws that protect us all. A couple is not legally married until they file a marriage certificate with the state. That is why a marriage performed by Les Kleffman is not any more valid than one performed by a Judge. In addition the marriages of childless couples are not legally different than child bearing ones. Kleffman deliberately muddies the waters separating church and state. The State of New Jersey is not an agent for any church, nor should it be in order to ensure fairness to everyone. There are a number of houses of worship that wish to marry us. We already know our families are not welcome at the Washington Alliance Church, and the church as a private organization has every right to not marry whomever they want and to keep anyone they choose out of their pews.

The inconsistency from people like Les is stunning. I do not see him writing columns about taking away the legal right to divorce or to make adultery illegal, or even an attempt to ban second marriages. Divorce is something Jesus actually talked against while not even once mentioning gay people or gay families. I wonder why I never see support for constitutional amendments to ban divorce from these folks. We never hear a word from the Les Kleffmans of the world trying to make the state enforce these religious rules upon all citizens. In addition churches like his accept divorced people without impunity or scarlet lettering as seen in his writing against gays.

I find it sad to see some religious leaders unwilling to stand up for a powerless unpopular minority in our society; some choose to hit us while we are down others stand up with us and fight. Les is fighting for an intangible concept that will never affect his heterosexual marriage or religious belief, while we are fighting for our very real families. I know history will be on our side. The separation of church and state is for the benefit and preservation of both institutions.

Basically Kleffman is saying he believes he knows what is better for our families over the people that are actually in our families. He does this without even taking the time to get to know any of us. We simply want to protect our loved ones just like heterosexual families do.

_______________________________________

Update- After submitting my letter, I was so happy to find a Baptist preacher that gets it. When religion loses its credibility

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Press Release TTAT

NEW DOCUMENTARY ABOUT BI-NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES TO HAVE A BY-INVITATION-ONLY NEW YORK SCREENING

THROUGH THICK AND THIN, a documentary by Sebastian Cordoba about the immigration struggle of bi-national same sex long term relationships in America, has been completed and is to have a screening at the Jacob Javits Center, in New York City, on occasion of the Gay Life Expo, on November 19th, 1:00pm. The 75 minute documentary film narrates the daily struggle of seven couples, which were followed over the course of 16 months in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil and Canada. THROUGH THICK AND THIN is scheduled for a January 2007 premiere at a prestigious film festival. Following the screening there will be a Q&A session with the director, two couples featured in the documentary and officials from Human Rights Watch and Immigration Equality, the leading organizations in gay and lesbian immigration rights.

At a time when both the immigration bills passed by the House last year and the Senate Judiciary Committee last week do not address the issue of bi-national gay and lesbian couples, all 36,000 of these households in the United States have pinned their hopes to the Uniting American Families Act. This bill, passed, will solve all problems for Americans who have chosen a foreign born long term partner. Currently, the bill has 100 sponsors in the House.The goal with THROUGH THICK AND THIN (a documentary that enlists Lavi Soloway and Kim Fishman as producers) is an educational one. "Not only the public at large but also rural and urban gays and lesbians need to learn about the struggles that bi-national couples face in America," says Mr. Cordoba. "For some couples, this means moving to a different country, splitting families and leaving well paid jobs. For others, it entails commuting between two far away places. And for some, staying illegally in the United States. Our film intends to put a human face to the suffering of these 36,000 couples. THROUGH THICK AND THIN has partnered with Immigration Equality and Human Rights Watch to use film grabs (stills) and part of their footage, as well as some couples depicted in the film, for a lobbying tour in support of the Uniting American Families Act. For press tickets or more information about the film visit us on the web: www.throughthickandthin.net

Sincerely
Sebastian Cordoba Ian Makintosh

Director/Producer Publicist


The Filmmaker

Sebastian Cordoba, Director and Producer, is a lawyer and writer who moved from Argentina to the United States to pursue a career in filmmaking. In 2002, he completed LIVING PROOF, A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT GAY TEENAGE SUICIDE SURVIVORS, a piece that had a very successful run in the film festival circuit, participating in several of them both in the United States and abroad. He is also a well known AVID video editor and director of photography for several post-production facilities in New York, with extensive experience in TV pilots, fashion and non-fiction narrative . As an documentary editor, he has worked in numerous and prestigious projects, such as THE BALLAD OF GREENWICH VILLAGE, by award winning director Karen Kramer, which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2005. For Jim de Seve, he became an associate editor in TYING THE KNOT, a feature length documentary that opened commercially to great reviews all across the United States. With israeli director Yaniv Dabach, he is working on the documentary feature WITH YOU!, picked up by Logo Entertainment for future broadcast.

Important Issues regarding the plight of Binational Gay and Lesbian Couples in the United States.


According to the 2000 Census, there are 35, 820 binational same sex couples in the United States, in which one partner is American and the other one is foreign born (for a number of reasons, this number is considered grossly undercounted, those reasons being fear of deportation, couples living in separate countries or in exile, etc) . That figure represents 6% of all gay and lesbian couples counted in the country. United States immigraton policy is to help foreign spouses and fiance(é) immigrate and live with their US partner. But not if that partner is of the same sex. Therefore, this issue can be framed not as a gay and lesbian immigration issue but one of social inequality.
-Options for those couples to continue to be: exile, becoming a long-distance relationship or staying in the US, while the foreign born partner becomes illegal.
-Soon the latter option may prove the most dangerous for the American partner. If the provisions of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration House bill, passed in December 2005, are turned into law, the American same sex partner of an undocumented immigrant could be convicted of "smuggling" him or her, and imprisioned, and stripped of home and property.
-The Immigration Billl passed by the Senate has no provisions for same sex couples. Therefore, should there be a compromise between the two Houses, it is quite likely that the situation for binational gay and lesbian couples wil worsen.
-The human toll of this tragedy can be seen throughout the country, in the families torn apart by the forced emigration, the lost professional and job opportunities, the financial burden of lawyer's fees, phone calls and plane tickets

-Besides the human toll of this discrimination, our government also should consider the economic and tax implications of the current situation. -In some cases, particularly elderly couples, the foreign born partner is impeded from helping the American partner in the case of illness or disability. The loving care provided could not only improve the health of the American partner, but also reduce the cost burden to states for health care.
-Contrary to what many people believe, a legal solution can be achieved without resorting to gay marriage. Out of the 19 countries that provide a legal framework so that gays and lesbians can sponsor their beloved foreigners, only three, The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada, have instituted same sex marriage (Spain will soon be added to that list).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Farewell Douchebags

Parting isn't such sweet sorrow.

American in Exile- A new member of our immigration family

I hope American In Exile does not mind. I have added you to our links. Your story is compelling and it seems your move to Canada was not a very smooth one. I would like to know more about what happened to you.


Update: American In Exile tells us more of their interesting story. You can read it here. Link

Friday, November 10, 2006

Through Thick and Thin Premier

The premier for the documentary we took part in is taking place on November 19th at 1PM at the Gay Life Film Fesitival at the Jacob Javits Conference Center in NYC.

Through Thick and Thin

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bittersweet Victory

The Democrats have won control of the House and it seems might win the Senate this morning. I have waited since 1994 for Republicans to go down this badly and frankly I thought I would be much happier. Don't get me wrong, I am happy, but the reality is gay citizens lost a lot. Marriage amendments passed in WI, TN, VA, ID, SC, CO. The bright spot being the defeat of the anti gay marriage amendment in Arizona. Horray for Arizona!

The win in my opinion was because the Democrats went back to the center. The center is never a safe place when it comes to GLBT equality in this nation. The center is a horrible compromise that gave us "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the "Defense of Marriage Act" and will give us another generation without equality.

I am thrilled though that the House win offers subpeona power and much needed oversight. We will finally see the Bush energy policy, the political misleading that led into Iraq and war profiteering. We now have hope that the horrible war will end sooner rather than later and the American public will stop being raped by graft, corruption and greed that Republican culture allowed to grow and thrive.

My biggest hope is that ethics is restored, but I fear we might just be recycling the same damn thing over and over again.

Let us all rejoice in the slaughter of Rick Santorum. I thank my family for voting against that horrible example of a human being. There is justice in America after all.

Now to my thoughts on Canada. Canada you are my hope, my dreams and my yearning. Please remain the beacon of light for Emilio and me. Please continue to offer us equality and the chance to start over with so much more than the US offers our small but loving family of two. Please vote against the anti marriage endeavors of Stephen Harper and his conservative cabal. Please don't let us down.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting


Today I voted on a paperless E-voting machine. I could not help but think that Americans have bought the noose that is going to be used to hang us.

When I first entered the booth I noticed the "Welcome" screen was not there that the instructions advised. It seems the person before me didn't hit "Cast Your Ballot" twice as was instructed. I heard the poll workers contemplating what to do as I was sent to another machine.

Sadly while running on the treadmill this morning I was watching C-SPAN and a computer science professor was discussing how terribly easy it is to hack these machines. I also caught part of the HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy". Essentially we are screwed! The Justice Department for the first time ever is sending 800 people out to districts across this nation. I wonder if they are really going to secure our democracy or to steal it.

For my town council I only had Republicans to choose from so for the first time ever I chose write ins. Disney and Warner Bros will be happy to know their characters got votes in this election.

I am usually happy on election day knowing I did my part, but today I am sad that I do not trust that my vote will even be counted.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My latest letter to the editor of my local paper.

Extremist Doherty strives to deny rights of gays

New Jersey state Assemblyman Michael J. Doherty came out against the N.J. Supreme Court decision offering the same rights, obligations and privileges of marriage to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-gendered families in our state.

The irony is the Supreme Court is protecting us from ultra-right-wing theocratic activist politicians such as Doherty. I wish Doherty would come out of the closet and admit he shares the same extreme view of America as Pat Robertson.

In January of this year, Doherty and seven other activist Assembly representatives wanting to enshrine their extreme religious belief into our laws voted against S2083/A3429 that sought to enhance the Domestic Partnership law to include the legal right for a surviving same-sex partner to make funeral arrangements for their lost loved one. This horrible man does not even think we deserve the respect to bury our lifetime partners without legal challenges.

Doherty is out of touch with the majority of fair-minded residents in New Jersey. In fact, he is against the 10 rights and privileges that the Domestic Partnership offers to our families. His argument that he is protecting the sanctity of marriage rings hollow because he will not accept any legal rights and protections for same-sex families under any title.

If Doherty thinks my relationship threatens his marriage in any way, then I suggest he see a marriage counselor immediately. He has much bigger problems than gay families obtaining legal protections in our state.

Tom Smeraldo

Washington