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Love Is Love

My profile picture with the FB celebratepride filter.

My profile picture with the FB celebratepride filter.

I have to say I didn’t get too emotional yesterday with the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision in support of gay marriage. Maybe because I knew it was still only a small step– a very historic step—  but still just a small step towards acceptance and equality in the United States. Perhaps it’s because I’m a little numb from a lifetime of exposure to hate and bigotry. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I never thought I’d see this day.

The court’s decision isn’t going to instantly change people’s opinions. Only time will accomplish that.

But then this morning, as I scrolled through my Facebook Newsfeed, something happened. Not only were there a myriad of posts celebrating the landmark decision– friend after friend had also changed their profile pictures, using the celebratepride filter, overlaying the rainbow pride flag over their image. I found myself incredibly moved.

It suddenly became real to me.

Love equals Love. Equality gives way to the very Freedoms we are supposedly all guaranteed in the Constitution. Maybe there is Hope. Maybe Amerika can become America again– or maybe even, for the first time.

Every step we take in this country to remove Hate, opens the door to love and acceptance.

Gay marriage can now just be called marriage. Eventually, Gay pride may become an unnecessary celebration and can give way to American pride. It’s all about Equality. Each and everyone of us equal.

Some of the love being shared on Facebook.

Some of the love being shared on Facebook.

I think it’s important to be consciously aware that the Supreme Court’s decision was not a strike against Christianity. Many people are choosing to take it that way; and I find it extremely sad and nearly pathetic. The fight was never about changing anyone’s religious beliefs; it was the always about equal rights under the law. In ancient times, marriage may have only been strictly viewed as a religious contract– not anymore. There are too many rights under the law regarding married people to maintain that defense.

Love is Love. It transcends gender and race. It is more powerful than contracts, vows or religion.

All we need is time.

Liberty And Justice For All: An American Fallacy, Pt.1

Justice is a fallacy. A fallacy is a flaw in reasoning.

Justice is an ideal. Ideals are models for imitation. An Ideal is the conception of something in its absolute perfection.

Absolute perfection does not exist.

Perfect Justice does not exist.

10403056_10152842025119780_8786610817675958005_nLast night, the grand jury decision to not press charges in the case of Michael Brown – the black 18-year-old who was shot and killed in Ferguson on Aug. 9th by white police officer Darren Wilson, was announced live on national television.

My social media network immediately began to blow up after the announcement, with mostly– expressions of anger and distrust; and only a few in support of the decision. For most of my friends (and the people I follow), it was about the seeming lack of justice and ongoing racism in this country.

At 1:30 a.m., Police Chief Jon Belmar announced at a briefing that at least 12 buildings were set on fire, two police cruisers burned and reports of bottle throwing, broken windows and gunshots were widespread. The police responded with smoke, pepper spray and tear gas aimed to disperse potentially unruly crowds.


It was reported that the jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 separate days and heard more than 70 hours of testimony from approximately 60 witnesses, three medical examiners and other experts on blood, toxicology and firearms.

frederick-douglass-justice-deniedFerguson is just a match re-igniting the fire that is racism in America. This is not the beginning of something new– it is only another episode in the long, ongoing battle of inequality and racism, sparked by distrust and a long history of violence.

As long as there is the perception of racism…

Then racism is real.

Tyrants-Opposition-10513500_1508536292711859_522097056596663394_nI do not condone the outright unlawful, destructive behavior of the violent protestors. They have become terrorists. They are no different than ISIS or Al Qaeda.

They are destroying their very own community. They are hurting their neighbors and themselves. Unfortunately, for many of them, this is the only way they know how to be heard.


Treat people like animals and they’ll eventually behave like animals.

The American Justice System is not perfect. It’s certainly not absolute perfection. But, it is the system we have. It works in theory. But theory in itself is a test. A test that at times, America seems to be failing.

I think it’s important to draw a line between the justice system and the the issues it is forced to try and reconcile.

Any unlawful act creates a situation in which there will never be complete justice for all. Not to mention all the legal acts that unjust.

A friend of mine on Facebook shared this:

The West Wing Season 7, Episode 8- Undecideds Written by Debora Cahn

Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits)
You know, I find myself on days like this casting around for someone to blame. I blame the kid, he stole a car. I blame the parents, why couldn’t they teach him better. I blame the cop, did he need to fire. I blame everyone I can think of and I am filled with rage. And then I try and find compassion. Compassion for the people I blame, compassion for the people I do not understand, compassion. It doesn’t always work so well.

I remember as a young man listening on the radio to Dr. King in 1968. He asked of us compassion and we responded, not necessarily because we felt it but because he convinced us that if we could find compassion, if we could express compassion, that if we could just pretend compassion it would heal us so much more than vengeance could. And he was right: it did but not enough. What we’ve learned this week is that more compassion is required of us and an even greater effort is required of us. And we are all, I think everyone of us, are tired.

We’re tired of understanding, we’re tired of waiting, we’re tired of trying to figure out why our children are not safe and why our efforts to try to make them safe seem to fail. We’re tired. But we must know that we have made some progress and blame will only destroy it. Blame will breed more violence and we have had enough of that.

Blame will not rid our streets of crime and drugs and fear and we have had enough of that. Blame will not strengthen our schools or our families or our workforce. Blame will rob us of those things and we have had enough of that. And so I ask you today to dig down deep with me and find that compassion in your hearts because it will keep us on the road. And we will walk together and work together. And slowly, slowly, too slowly, things will get better.

God bless you. God bless you and God bless your children.

The West Wing episode 7.08 “Undecideds”, original air date 4 December, 2005 – See more at: http://westwingwiki.com/2014/04/season-7-episode-8-undecideds/#sthash.z0J1gg11.dpuf
Dialogue, discussion, education, truth and understanding are what is needed here.
Not violence.
America is still young. The American ideals of freedom: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; liberty and justice for all; all men are created equal—  didn’t even exist in reality when this country was founded. Slavery and the inequitable treatment of women the most blatant at that time.
Today, we are dealing with racism, equality, gay rights, women’s rights, immigration… the list goes on.
Lip service in this country must end.
Eyes must be opened.
The blind faith of justice revealed.
Positive action needs to occur.
Otherwise, the violence will never stop.

Exercise Your Right: VOTE!

Mid Term Elections– not important? Wrong! There are many important elections and ballot initiatives this cycle, happening all over the country.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 is an important day. Many communities have early voting for those that find it difficult to make it to the polls on the 4th.  Locally, early voting is possible at multiple locations, seven days a week.

We’re all pretty tired of the constant negative campaign commercials. But it’s almost over!

No matter what side of the aisle you support, please make sure your voice is heard and VOTE!

Whatever you do, don’t accept the lame attack ads as the truth. Attack ads spin facts and take quotes out of context.

Take just a few moments and educate yourself before you head to your polling place.

Don’t vote based on fear…. vote based on fact!

Workplace Survival: 12 Rules To Protect Yourself

I finally broke down this morning and filed for unemployment. It’s been three months since I was notified that my contract would not be renewed and I had hoped I would have secured a new job by now. I have some good prospects but for now, the search goes on.

I promised in an earlier blog to talk a little bit about what led up to my release. I’ve waited until now because I didn’t want my words to be fueled by hurt or anger. I finally decided I would rather do it in a positive way and give some advice that might help others who find themselves in similar situations.

Here are my 12 suggestions that might help you survive in the workplace:

Rule #1 Don’t be too good at your job or know too much.

Rule #2 When a superior says, “Don’t Worry” — watch out.

Rule #3 Climbers don’t look down. They don’t have time for you.

Rule #4 Open Door policies can get one slammed in your face.

Rule #5 Keep records and be able to account for everything.

Rule #6 Never feel that your job is secure.

Rule #7 Change isn’t always good but don’t fight it.

Rule #8 Learn to deal with incompetence.

Rule #9 Don’t expect to be treated fairly. Even good people behave badly.

Rule #10 Right doesn’t always win.

Rule #11 Don’t expect rewards for loyalty.

Rule #12 Rules (and policies) are made to be broken (and will be).

Bonus– Rule #13 Work to live, don’t live to work.

Holding a job and being successful at it, isn’t about showing up on time and doing what is expected of you. It’s not about your education or knowledge and expertise. It’s not about your dedication or going the extra mile. Those are all givens. To be successful, you have to be constantly aware of two things: company politics and money. You have to keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground if you want stay aware of what’s really going on behind the scenes.

You, as an employee, are expendable. Simple as that. What makes you important is how you fit into the political and social climate of the workplace and what impact you have on the bottom line.

— I’ll address and explain this set of rules, my experiences and their importance in future blog posts.

Today I do want to explore my Bonus Rule– and I know you’ve heard it before:


It sounds simple enough and yet it is probably the hardest rule to follow. I have always struggled with this, even with jobs that weren’t necessarily in my main field of interest. It is too easy for many of us, to become so vested in our jobs that it’s hard to let it go when we punch out at the end of the day. Unless you own your own business– and even then, you have prioritize what is really important– living a good life and hopefully, sharing it with other people.

Why do we work? To pay bills, provide for families, plan for the future… to live.

Remember that the business doesn’t care about you. Unfortunately, in many cases, neither do employers. You may think they do– but if you step back and look at it clearly, you’ll realize you are there to perform a specific function. You are only one small ingredient in the recipe of success. Being responsible and taking ownership in your job is a wonderful thing. You have to learn to set limits. This is especially difficult when you are doing something you love. When work becomes the only thing, it’s probably time to move on.

I personally have lost years of friendships, family gathering and missed opportunities to experience and enjoy life– either from the necessities of the jobs I’ve held, or by my own drive. You can’t buy back that time.

You may find it necessary to put work first— but at what cost?

That is the most important question.

An Open Letter To My Biological Family

Dear Family,

First let me say, I love you – unconditionally — more than you’ll ever know.  We have our own unique history and are forever bound together by the miracle of life.  We are all alike and at the same time, quite different in many ways.

I unfriended you all on Facebook for one simple reason: I didn’t like seeing some of the posts you made that I found false, hurtful and unfeeling. I’m not saying you had any intention for that to happen — but it has, repeatedly, especially over the past three months.

We can still view each other’s pages—I did not block you – but I now feel freer to post my thoughts and opinions and you can do the same. If I choose to view your page, it will be a risk I’ll take but I promise I won’t comment on it. I unfriended the kids as well, not that we communicate that often—but out of respect for you as parents and any concerns you might have that I am too controversial or influential.

I have never suggested that you not share your feelings or beliefs—even if they hurt me deeply. I have tried to get you to understand, to verify, and to support (through sources and links) any of your stated ‘facts’ that I have questioned. Instead of defending your comments, you’ve chosen to ignore or delete mine—completely invalidating my concerns.

I’m sorry if I embarrass you—and I only say that because Dad told me in an email recently, that I was “too gay” – I believe intending to mean that he thought I was too publicly open about it.

I cannot help who I am. I know you can’t fully believe that because you think that God would ‘change’ me if I let him, or at the very least, I should abstain from any semblance of what, for me, is a normal life.  I tried that. I hated myself for years because I wasn’t what I was taught God wanted or what you wanted me to be.

For nearly half my life, I lived in a hell on earth trying to be different. I stopped and won’t do it anymore. I am a proud, happy, gay man. The only two things that make us different are that I don’t have children and I share my life with another man—who has loved me unconditionally for over 19 years. (Yes, I know I’m a handful!)

You’ve accused me of being completely blinded by ‘the Obama agenda’ and think that is why I have been upset with all of you. You’ve also accused me of smearing the family name because I have spoken out against what I see as hateful talk. I have been upset because you say you accept me, then vote for a man and a political agenda that will do anything to make sure that I am nothing more than a second-class citizen and not afforded the same rights as you.  I don’t want special rights — just equal rights.

Actions speak louder than words. You have publicly posted and declared your support for businesses and political candidates that oppose my civil rights. I realize there is more to your decisions and probably little has anything to do with human rights issues. When your posts have offended me, I have tried to open up a dialogue with limited success.  I hear your words to me personally… but your actions speak differently.

Why is this so important to me? You brought me up to believe in unconditional love. Doesn’t that also mean you would want to support my equality? This goes beyond me personally—when as many as 1 in 3 LGBT youth attempt suicide and many bullied youth take their own lives as well. The message of love and acceptance couldn’t be more important today. These are young lives that I would think as Christians, you would want to save. Ignoring it, or voting against it, doesn’t make it go away.

I turn 50 next month — maybe that’s why I feel the need to speak out now. Maybe it’s time to communicate after nearly 30 years of silence on the subject. Or, maybe it’s just the right thing to do.

I just ask that you look in your hearts, find the compassion you profess and share that love with others, as you brought me up to believe was right.

I love you,


PS– I am posting this publicly, not to embarrass you– but in hopes that it might help someone else going through the same experiences.

Christians: Do You Remember How To Love?

This blog was extremely difficult to write. In a way, it is my response to the recent polarizing Chick-Fil-A controversy and heated religious debate over the 2012 presidential election. My intent in writing this was not meant to be accusatory but instead, a challenge to those that read it. –JL

I have only one question for all the self-identified Christians of the world: “Do you remember how to love?

I was raised on the Christian faith. For most of my first 18 years, if the church doors were open– my family was there. Yet, I was taught to believe interracial dating and marriage were wrong, homosexuality was wrong (it goes without saying that gay marriage was an abomination) and that basically, all other religions and even Christian denominations outside our own — were misguided and most likely would not reach the kingdom of heaven. I was taught Catholics were not true Christians and that the Baptist belief, once saved always saved was a fallacy.

In my late teens, I decided I wanted to change churches and go to my cousins’ church which was charismatic. My Dad was so angered by this decision, he told me I would have to move out if that’s what I chose. So I did. After some thought, he quickly reconsidered and came to the conclusion that as long as I was going to church… it was better than me not going at all and I was allowed to move back in.

Now at the age of 49, I am coming out as Agnostic. I’m not sure what to believe.

From my earliest childhood memories, I was taught to ‘Love one another‘. The Bible verse, one of many that repeat this phrase, comes from John 13:34:

I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (International Standard Version)

In preparing this blog post, the phrase ‘and the greatest of these is love‘ kept sticking in my head. So I had to look it up. The verse reads:

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, New Living Translation)

I was taught love the doer not the deed. Love the sinner not the sin. That’s Unconditional Love.

But where has it gone?

It is supposed to be the goal of all Christians to not only lead by example but also to witness and bring the hope of Christianity to the whole world. What I’ve seen in my lifetime, is the growing desire to create laws and alienate people that do not subscribe to the same belief system as those of the Christian faith. How is that demonstrating unconditional love? The gay rights movement is not about receiving special benefits above those of others. It is about seeking equality. Equality that is prevented by unnecessary laws created by Christian lawmakers in an effort to secure special rights for themselves and in effect, taking away the rights of others.

Marriage Equality is a legal issue, not a religious one. No one is trying to force churches to recognize, perform or accept marriage ceremonies in religious terms. Laws make marriage a legal contract and give many special benefits to married partners not available to unmarried couples. Tax breaks, issues over property ownership and healthcare are all brought into play. The Christian right campaigns and preaches against marriage equality because they believe it weakens the very definition of marriage and somehow impedes on their rights. It has become a hateful game of morality vs. legality… and exhibits anything but unconditional love.

This might be a good point to remind you that the origins of marriage were actually based on a man’s declaration of ownership of a woman. Marriage was not originally based on a religious contract with God.

The staggering divorce rate in our county is at 60% among those without an expressed religious affiliation but is still a huge 38% among those identified as practicing Christians. Maybe Christians could focus more on counseling and nurturing couples through those difficult times, sharing love and support with those that need guidance, instead of blocking loving partners from legally committing to one another.

The alienation that Christians are creating in the name of protecting their religious beliefs is having a devastating effect on the moral and religious fiber that was once tightly woven into our society. People are being driven away. Hate and fear is replacing love.

Religious Differences. The Religious Right has continued to accuse our President of being Muslim despite his identification as a Christian believer. They see that as a threat and fear that any religion unlike theirs, challenges their existence. Our country protects all religions and provides for their freedom to worship. The Christian proclamation that theirs is the only true religion is yet another example of hate and divisiveness in our country. More than ever, we need unity, compassion and acceptance.

Fear-Based Christianity has replaced the Christianity based on love and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So where is the love? The saying goes, You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  In that case, why are so many Christians so bitter? If only Christians could return to the basic concept of loving their neighbor instead of fearing them, there might actually be a chance of a Christian resurgence in America.

All  you need is love.

Political Rant: UNITED States of America?

The biggest thing that I have realized from the Republican and Democratic conventions is that the United States is anything but united. Whether the differences are separated by borders or by party and ideology– the leaders, or people that hope to lead our country are ignoring the basic fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty and justice for all does not exist.

Why are the parties in our country constantly fighting the same battles over and over again? How hard is it to see that All Men Are Created Equal, means equal rights for all people– regardless of skin color… male, female… old, young… straight, gay… rich, poor… Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim…EQUAL. I am entitled to no more rights than you– and you have no more rights than me. EQUAL.

Do I really need to remind anyone that it wasn’t that many years ago that in some states it was illegal for Caucasians and African Americans to marry? Now the issue is gay marriage. What’s the big deal? The deal is that marriage, which was once strictly a religious commitment, has been made a legally binding contract with rights and privileges. Eliminate the legal benefits of marriage and the problem is solved. No one is asking for a church to be forced into marrying a couple whose union does not agree with that church’s beliefs.

A side note: I actually heard a TV preacher back-tracking on the issue of interracial marriage last week, claiming the church was never against it in theory— but that in biblical times, it was forbidden solely to protect Jesus’ bloodline from being polluted!

Too many Americans feel they are uniquely entitled to something… marriage benefits, welfare, tax breaks, special privileges, wealth… Entitlement does not spell Equality. It amazes me that there are people that actually believe the upper class are wealthy people because they work harder than the middle and lower class. Unfortunately, our country is unfairly dominated by the upper class.

We live in a country where people will sue for anything because they are entitled. Who wins? The person who can pay the best lawyer. Money talks. How is that fair and equal?

I don’t think it’s right to penalize someone for being rich but they should have to pay their fair share of taxes, as should the poor. Wealth people can spend their money any way they like… if they choose to give back to their community– even better. They don’t need to be rewarded for it. Poor people can spend their money how they want as well– but shouldn’t expect handouts if they choice to use their resources foolishly and live beyond their means. The existing class structure is killing our country and entitlement is at fault.

I took a political quiz yesterday that suggested my political leanings ranked in the following order: Democrat, Green, Libertarian, and finally, Republican (a distant 20% from the other three parties; Democrat, ranking 89%.) Does this mean that I hate, or am against anyone that is Republican? Absolutely not. But, as an educated and fairly knowledgeable person, I just can’t understand, or agree with the philosophies and platform of the Republican party. What’s worse, I can’t understand why Republicans can’t verbalize the grounds of their beliefs or justify their actions.

I grew up in a Republican household. In my first election, I voted a straight Republican ticket, but it was because I was uninformed. I simply tied ‘Republicans’ with religion and what was right and ‘Democrats’ with sin and all that was wrong with the country. Ignorant, huh? I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t mature enough to think for myself and let others tell me what was right and wrong.

The Republicans constantly babble on and on about smaller government, yet their beliefs and ideals force the need for more laws and bigger government to protect and provide for those that are victimized for not holding the same beliefs and ideologies. In addition, at least the past three Republican administrations have grown bigger government, increased the national debit and added many jobs to the public sector but not the private sector as they claim is their goal.

What has happened to the separation of Church and State? The Republicans have made a big deal over the fact that the Democratic platform didn’t initially mention God. It’s my belief that politics and religion shouldn’t mix. Religious freedoms are protected by our Constitution and that should be enough. The insinuation that the Democratic party, as a whole, is against religious freedom is ridiculous. It just shouldn’t play a role in politics.

The Republicans claim their biggest concern is the nation’s economy, yet from past examples and current lack of a communicated plan, they are only concerned with their own assumed wealth and prosperity. Which is also amusing, considering that many people that side with the Republican party are not wealthy– but continue to support people who are only concerned with making the rich, richer and which does nothing to improve their own quality of life. As former President Clinton pointed out in his speech to the DNC last night, with what little is known about the Republican economic plan– do the arithmetic and the numbers don’t add up.

I don’t want anyone to think that I drank the Kool-Aid and believe the Democrats are perfect– far from it. I do believe that most of what they strive to achieve is to build a better, stronger and unified America. Our country has to work together for the good of all people.

It should be the goal of all good Americans to contribute to their communities in the best way they can. Some people are wealthier, some are better educated, some are more creative and some are better organizers. If we all worked together and shared our collective strengths– think of what an amazing country this would be!

In this election year, I encourage everyone to do their own research, make their own decisions and stop taking people’s word for granted on the important issues. Look at the facts and do the math. You might be surprised at the solution to the equation.