Thursday, January 25, 2007

More from Venezuela

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hugo's backyard

This is an article I would love to share with everybody, from "the Guardian Unlimited" UK, Saturday January 20 2007 :

"Hugo's backyard"

Hugo Chavez grew up in Venezuela's Wild West, but is now planning to 'nationalise' it. Josh Lacey visits a land of desolate plains and prolific wildlife

The full article here

Monday, January 22, 2007

This and That

Emilio's Mom and her friend Ana will be arriving on the February 4th. Her other friend Flora will be visiting from Florida around the 20th. I have never met my mother-in-law so this should be interesting. These three women have been best friends for many years and Emilio loves them all very much.

Emilio is having surgery on February 8th. He has excessive cartilage in his nose and they will be removing some to make his sleep apnea machine work more effectively and solve some of his sinus issues. It's good thing his Mom is a nurse to help with the recovery.

We have decided to file for the Civil Union in NJ for the added protection while we are still here. We cannot seem to agree on how to celebrate it, at this point I would just like to file it and call it a day. Emilio wants his Mom there to witness the event. We'll figure something out as far as a dinner. We just don't need the added stress and expense of planning anything big.

Yesterday my cousin Diane came over and we watched "The Devil Wears Prada". We enjoyed the movie, Meryl Streep was excellent. It reminded me of "Ugly Betty" (one of my guilty pleasures).

I have started taking medication for anxiety and depression. The first time in my life I really needed some daily chemical help to get through all that is going on. As the Doctor explained I probably have normal serotonin levels, but when you pile stress on the body over extended periods of time the body cannot effectively process it. I noticed an eye twitch today, that has to mean something. I don't know why it is hard for me to posts about taking Lexapro. Must be a guy thing.

I have no idea what's going on with the asylum case, the lawyer has reviewed the transcripts. We are interested in hearing his strategy. I am not sure how much I should talk about the case online. We're in enough trouble as it is.

We checked at the CIC website yesterday and we are still "in process" according to Canada immigration. I am hoping we hear something soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Immigration Horror Story

Emilio got a call today from his friend Dennis. They became friends in Caracas in a support group for gay men who wanted to start a new life in other countries. Emilio came here first in 2000 and a year later Dennis went to Canada. Dennis was able to secure Canadian citizenship during his time there. Shortly after getting his Canadian citizenship Dennis accepted a job offer in Atlanta to be near his family. We had dinner with Dennis New Years weekend in NYC and he mentioned he was flying up to Toronto to renew his visa.

Well Emilio got a call from Dennis today, when he went to renew his visa the US immigration officer denied him stating his job was sponsoring him just to let him stay in the US and that an American could do his job (A requirement for work related visas).

In a panic Dennis rented a car and drove down through Buffalo, the immigration officer there had mercy and gave him a 10 day visa. Dennis has 10 days to quit his job, get rid of his auto lease and sell his portion of the home he recently purchased with his sister.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

One Issue Voter

I was just called a "One Issue Voter" again today because I dared to criticize Barack Obama for not supporting same sex marriage.

As if my family can easily be dismissed as an "issue". As if every important decision in my life including voting should not include Emilio in my thought process.

I am really sick and tired of Democrats to telling me to wait and be patient, to keep voting for the lesser of two evils. I am really sick and tired of this country in general and the ignorant masses that fill it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Congressman Ernie "Scott" Garrett is a disgrace

My congressman is the only NJ representative to vote against the minimum wage increase. This same insane theocrat also was the only one to vote against funding for hurricane Katrina aid, yet he voted for a raise for himself and for the bridge to nowhere in Alaska and so many more pork laden bills costing us trillions of dollars.

When will people wake up. He is the most absurd member of Congress and an embarrassment to New Jersey.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Years Pics

Karen, Emi, & Tom- The designated driver looks bored.

Dennis Dreaming of a restored Victorian

Nijl finding shoes more interesting than boring adults

Emilio, Tom, John, & Ash- Guess the Hetero?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ChChChChanges! One of my favorite Bowie songs.

We are already seeing good changes by taking exclusive power away from the Republican party. Four extremist judicial nominations have been withdrawn from nomination.

From Daily Kos:
Victory: Four Right-wing Judiciary Nominees Withdraw

From a personal point of view. Besides the horrible HR 4437 immigration law also known as the Sensenbrenner bill proposed early last year, the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court were other reasons for our application for permanent residency in Canada. The court is now tilted firmly to the right for the next generation. Anything going before that court from corporate oversight to civil rights enhancements is doomed to fail now that Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have two new friends to add to their lunatic fringe party of two. Moderation and common sense retired with Sandra Day O'connor. A balance of congressional power could have prevented Alito from taking O'connor's seat.

So while I am happy Bush will no longer be stacking the courts, unfortunately it is way too late. He already stacked the circuit courts over the last 6 years and as noted above the Supreme Court is already lost to extreme conservatives.

My letter to the editor is in today.

I didn't come up with the title, the did. We have to keep at the religious right's pile of lies, myths and distortions, one shovel at a time.

Same-sex couples equal, law says so

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Some Pics I Was Looking At Tonight

Emi's favorite

This pic of Emi always makes me laugh.

I think Immigration has aged us.

Papi, Buster, Tom & Katie

Our Katie

Our First Winter

My Favorite Painting done by Emi

Skiing Last Winter

Monday, January 08, 2007

Letter To The Editor

Below is my latest submission, this time for the Express Times in response to this minister's letter. I am a bit miffed they only allow me 250 words and the Reverend got almost 500. I had much more to say, but had to trim it down.

Rev. Bill Slack does not understand that the Mayor of Phillipsburg refusing to “civil unionize” gay couples while continuing to marry only straight couples is against the anti discrimination laws of our state. The Mayor has discretion over whether to marry/civil unionize individual couples, but not based on race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Mayor wants a pass to break the law because of his personal bias. Imagine if Mayor Wyant was refusing to marry Asian, Interfaith or Jewish couples based on his religion, we would certainly not see these irrational responses from Slack supporting Wyant breaking the law.

Let us all be reminded the Mayor is acting as a Civil Servant, not a minister. Making comparisons of Mayoral and Pastoral jobs is irrelevant. The church is a private organization and legally chooses to exclude anyone they wish. The Mayor’s job is public and he must treat all citizens equally under the law. Civil Unions for same sex couples is the law.

Reverend Slack needs education on sexual orientation; it is not a choice for homosexuals any more than it is for heterosexuals. It is his prerogative to reject science from the APA along with the testimony of real live gay people. We are not asking for him to agree with us or embrace us, we are asking to be treated equally under the law.

Rev Slack should be Rosa Parks but chooses to be the Bus Driver. Which do you want to be?

Just When You Think Things Cannot Get Worse

Emilio and I drove to the city on Saturday and met with Lavi Soloway. We went there thinking we were going to change the world and be a landmark case for immigration rights for gay couples. We quickly learned we're in more trouble than we thought due to the government appeal. We have a few options and Lavi is going to review the court tapes when Emilio picks them up today or tomorrow. We do not have the time to put in to be a landmark case and now we are in damage control mode for our existing case. Time has never really been a friend to our relationship. It's never really offered solice in our darkest hours.

Fortunately our friends David and Jim met up with us after the appointment and we actually ate outside on January 6th in NYC, it was that warm! Afterwards we went to a couple of our old haunts in the West Village.

I just needed a veg out day yesterday. The day was kind of a blur. This morning I was trying to think of the movies and shows I watched and it took energy to remember them. My mind is burdened.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Troop Increase

I have been watching the idiocy of the Bush administration wanting to increase troops in Iraq. This is obviously only a political move by the shrub to attempt to improve his horrible legacy without any regard for our men and women in uniform being used as target practice.

Aparently their goal is security. Why should we believe anything they say? This President and the Republican party have been wrong on just about every issue over the last six years of their control. I really enjoyed the GOP whining on C-Span yesterday within hours of losing the majority, they wasted no time playing victims of the big bad Dems.

The US population does not want the troop increase, the generals do not want it, a majority of the troops are against it. So what does our insane President do? He replaces the Generals in Iraq to put in "Yes Men" who will follow through with the bloody and disgusting policy set for certain failure.

I don't think we can take two more years of an insane idiot as commander in chief. The Democrats better listen as well, we want out of Iraq....NOW.

New Jersey Mayors-Bigots R Us

In New Jersey on February 19th they will start issuing Civil Union licenses which are supposed to afford gay families all of the rights, responsibilities and privileges of marriage.

We all know it's a second class option that can and is disputed on a regular basis. Emilio and I have been in a legal Domestic Partnership since 7/13/2004 and we have yet to see a medical form allowing us to state our relationship and it's supposed next of kin status for medical decisions. We simply make a new box called Domestic Partnership and check it. Last year when I had a colonoscopy we had a devil of a time getting them to understand our legal standing and even with a medical directive and power of attorney, we still had to explain it three times and we were never fully satisfied that they would honor our wishes should something go wrong.

This brings me to an interesting controversy happening here. Some Mayors are already refusing to perform civil union ceremonies. New Jersey now has a non discrimination law on the books, so these Mayors can be fined or arrested if they choose to only perform straight couple ceremonies and not gay. I understand a compromise might be made to give them a disgusting loop hole. I have to laugh at the responses of the mayors stating Christianity as their excuse and that marriage should only be between a man and woman. Do they not know that a Civil Union means? Do they only marry Christians in the civil ceremonies they perform?....I think not. The stupidity and hypocrisy can make a guy go insane.

So this morning I sent an e-mail to my town asking if our mayor will perform a Civil Union ceremony. I am interested in her response.

Update, I am happy to say our Republican Mayor will be performing Civil Union Ceremonies.
I am very proud of her. I voted for her a couple years ago, it was merely symbolic as she ran unopposed.

Emilio and I briefly discussed having a Civil Union so our family and friends can take part in the celebration, but we're still undecided if we should just wait for marriage in Canada.

Here is her response:

Yes, I will be performing civil unions ceremonies. If I can be of further assistance, do not hesitate to contact me.

Marianne Van Deursen
Washington Boro Mayor

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rough Day Yesterday

I realized I didn't tell the whole story when I sat down with my boss. The first thing she did was cry and I almost lost it too. Then we sat down and talked for about an hour. I asked to be put on the lay off list. This will give me a severence package should there be another layoff this spring or summer. We talked about Emilio's dream of owning a cafe, his art and what I might do when we get up there. She imagined Em and I with some sort of B&B.

In the back of my mind I sort of hoped to be able to take my job with me, at least for while, but it was a pipe dream. My ride home was a complete blur and my anxiety has been up. I had trouble with sleep last night.

Emilio is going down to the court today to obtain transcripts of the entire asylum case. This Saturday we will be driving to Manhattan to see Lavi Soloway an attorney and founder of Immigration Equality. (A group for binational couples) He also is a producer on the documentary.

We're going to talk about a lawsuit against the government. We don't want any more binational couples to go through the stress we have. I suppose he will review the merits of the case. I was thinking something like a class action lawsuit. We'll see what he comes up with this weekend.

I am so thankful for treadmills, I ran off some anxiety this morning and have physical therapy today for my stressed out back with a pinched nerve.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Compassion Should Be Rewarded With Honesty

I just finished explaining to my boss our final decision to leave for Canada. I would never have felt right about lying about it for the next 9 months or so.

There are people you choose to come out to in life, and there are people you have to come out to in life. There are also people you just simply do not feel comfortable coming out to for one reason or another. I would say mainly this category would be work related. I generally get along great with very relgious until they know I am gay, then sadly that is all they see. Perhaps that is simply my perception and I should not generalize. A lesson I learned with my boss.

I am sure with all my letters to the editor that people in the office must know. Only one person asked me directly outright and I of course told him the truth. Others just get edited version of my life, without me having to lie. It's just the way life is for gay people in the work world in large corporations. We don't want to be denied a promotion like I was in my previous job. We are out to some and not to others. You just don't walk up to people you don't know all that well and talk about everything. There are people here that I have no idea if they are married, single, straight, gay divorced...etc

Back in 2004 when Emilio was denied asylum by INS I was an emotional basket case and at a particulary bad moment my boss called me in to talk and I explained the whole story. I was nervous knowing she is a minister's wife, but it turns out I was thankful she was there for me and I was able to unload the baggage. I was able to be open and honest about what was happening ever since. She's followed the case pretty closely.

I guess I just want to say I believe compassion should be rewarded with honesty.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Meet The Fockers

In February I will be meeting my Mother in Law for the first time. I certainly hope it goes better than the film mentioned above. I am sure it will.

She secured a visa and passport and I used the air miles I have been saving up for six years to get her a ticket. Emi has not seen his mother since 2000, so this is going to be a real tear jerker.

I look forward to seeing how Emilio and Carmina interact, plus I cannot wait for some of those Venezuelan meals.

I really need to learn Spanish quickly!

Happy New Year!

We spent the night with our wonderful friends Dennis, John, Ash, Karen and little Nijl. We had a blast as we always do when we are with them. We even watched the ball come down on Spanish TV which was great for Emilio. Playing roulette with strawberry vodka might not have been the wisest choice. LOL. Emilio will posts some pics later.

Yesterday we had a New Years Day dinner with the young couple that are buying our house. I don't know why, but seeing their excitement and love of our home makes leaving the house we cherish a little bit easier. They also have a beautiful 10 month old daughter that melts my heart.

My advice for the New Year to everyone is simple and it's something I have been living by for a few years now. It's my motto of sorts. Why should I care what people think about me . I don't mean it in a sense of going around being outwardly rude, I mean I needed to define who I was and not let what others might be perceiving about me be a barrier to my growth. Just don't let anyone inhibit you, don't fear embarrassment or failure. Kill insecurity at it's root. For many years I avoided being an example of a gay man for the world. Now I say, why not me.

This mantra of sorts is the reason why I am able to write letters to the editor and participate in the documentary and why we do interviews. The Tom you see now is not the same man from just 5 years ago. This simple life lesson given to me from a man named Kramden on a NJ forum pretty much changed by life a few years ago.

On the day I came out to my family at a Sunday dinner many years ago, my brother Mark saw how hard I was struggling to come out with the words and how heavy my heart felt to the point I couldn't look anyone at the table in the eye. He proclaimed, "Tommy, lift up your head you should be proud of yourself". I then did just that and told my family with my chin up. It was the beginning of a long and fantastic road for me. I was able to share all of my life with my family and it improved the dynamic and closeness I yearned to have with them. I will be forever grateful for Mark's words of encouragement burnt into my memory.

My resolution is to try very hard to not fear the unknown road ahead, to embrace it.

Happy New Year!