Two different weddings, one common perspective

I’ve been to two different weddings in the past month.

One was a traditional wedding: Bride and groom, church, reception, dinner, dancing, etc. etc.

The other was a gay wedding: Groom and groom, non-denominational minister, held outdoors at a museum, reception, dinner, dancing, etc. etc.

Both were decidedly called “weddings.” There were rings and vows. There were promises made to each other and to their families and friends. There was advice from each of the ministers on how to make their love survive in this world.

I attended the gay wedding as a member of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. We sang during the ceremony and left afterward. I knew the groom — ok, groom #1– because he used to sing with us. It was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art– a very fancy affair, but with an air of casualness. Both grooms wore modest suits, not tuxes. And the minister was fabulous– a big swath of blonde hair and a bigger personality. The ceremony didn’t mention religion, God or Jesus once. It was purely about love and how true love is a challenge that not only the couple has to face, but all of us. It was completely inspirational and beautiful, without being too over-the-top or in-your-face about anything. Best of all, it was short and sweet. I just wish I got to stay afterward for the big party.

I attended the traditional wedding this past weekend in Michigan. The bride is a co-worker of mine, and I’ve heard so much about her wedding plans (she sat across the hall from me) that I felt like I was co-contributer to her plans. And although it was a far drive for a wedding, I didn’t mind. The ceremony was decidedly more religious, but also short, sweet and to the point. Again the celebrant had words of advice for the couple and his words were quite inspirational. It was a lovely affair overall (though the use of the organ was a little dirge-y for my taste).

The reception, however, was amazing. It was held at a country club, overlooking the grounds in all of their autumnal splendor. The room was beautiful, modestly decorated, and full of people ready to celebrate the big event. And celebrate we did. I actually had fun.

Which brings me to the next point about all of this. When I returned home, I had a chat with someone about my weekend activities and he asked me, “Don’t you feel like you’re being cheated when you go to their weddings?”

I thought about this for a second and said, “No.”

He retorted and said “But… we can’t get married.”

“Yes,” I replied. “I am fully aware of that.” We went back and forth a few times on this, and I then informed him I would be writing a blog post about this soon, so hopefully he’s reading this now.

I am fully aware of the marriage fight being waged on behalf of GLBT people. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to celebrate with those who choose to marry.

In my eyes, we can celebrate a union any way we wish. If that means getting married in a church– fine, go ahead. Find a church that is open to gay weddings and do it. If that means professing your love in front of family and friends, without a minister or a judge to make it ‘legal,” fine.

How we choose to do it is completely up to us. It would be nice if we could get the same thing as everyone else, but in my eyes, I don’t need the ‘blessing’ of a church or a government seal of approval to celebrate that union.

I realize this goes against popular opinion on both sides of the debate, but that is simply how I feel.

Love is a personal and extremely powerful thing. No certificate; no seal of approval is going to change that feeling.

I do want to state that I believe the fight for marriage equality is worth fighting. But to close ourselves off from the supposed “enemy” (straight couples) in the fight for equality is completely absurd. Straight couples are not the enemy in this war. Refusing to attend a wedding on the simple basis that “because I can’t get married, I can’t celebrate your marriage” is being bull-headed and stupid.

Grow up, people. We’re all in this together. If we can’t be supportive of each other, how can we expect them to be supportive of us?

Naturally, I don’t have anything to lose or gain in this fight at the moment anyway. I don’t have anyone to marry, and I certainly don’t have anyone waiting in the wings.

But if I did, and I found myself ready to commit myself to him for the rest of my life; I would do it… whether or not a church or our government decides it’s legal or “right” to do so. Because in my eyes, it’s right. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s all that matters.

Bush tries to pin the blame on the Democrats… AGAIN!

Our illustrious president strikes again– this is from his weekly radio address:

“Good morning.”Today I am signing emergency legislation to fund the federal government for the next seven weeks. This legislation was necessary because Congress failed in its most basic responsibility: to pass the spending bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the government. There are 12 of these bills this year, and Congress did not complete a single one of them, so Congress had to send me a stop-gap measure before the fiscal year ends this Sunday at midnight.

“Congress’s failure to pass these 12 spending bills is disappointing, but I do thank the Congress for passing this temporary measure, and for passing it without any new spending, new policies or new projects. It would have been wrong to deny essential government services to the American people while Congress works through its annual spending bills.

“I also appreciate the way this bill handles our disagreements over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Congressional leaders have put forward an irresponsible plan that would dramatically expand this program beyond its original intent. And they know I will veto it. But it is good that they kept the program running while they try to work out a more responsible approach.

“Congress now has more time to complete its work on its annual spending bills. Earlier this year congressional leaders promised to show that they could be responsible with the people’s money. Unfortunately they seem to have chosen the path of higher spending. They have proposed spending increases that would add an extra $205 billion on top of my Administration’s budget request over the next five years. There’s only one way to pay for such a large spending increase, and that is to raise taxes on the American people. So it is no surprise that the same Members of Congress who are planning this big increase in federal spending are also planning the biggest tax increase in American history.

“If these members get their way, the tax relief my administration delivered could be taken away from you. Let me explain what this would mean for an average taxpayer. If you have children, your taxes would rise by $500 for each child. If you’re a family of four making $60,000 a year, your taxes would be more than $1,800 higher. If you’re a single mother with two children, working to make ends meet, your taxes would go up by more than a $1,000. If you’re a small business owner working to meet a payroll, your taxes would increase by almost $4,000. And if Congress allows our tax relief to expire, more than 5 million low-income Americans who currently pay no income taxes would once again have to pay taxes.

“These are not the only taxes Congress wants to raise. They’re proposing higher taxes on dividends and capital gains. They’re proposing higher taxes on cigars and cigarettes. They’re proposing to raise taxes on domestic oil and natural gas production. They’re proposing new taxes on stock and bond transactions. And they refuse to make the Internet tax moratorium permanent. If this tax ban expires, it would open the doors for State and local officials to impose new taxes on your access to the Internet.

“At a time when many American families are dealing with rising mortgage rates, college costs, and health care expenses, it is wrong to take even more money out of your paychecks. Washington’s elected leaders can do better. By working together, we can keep taxes low, help keep the economy growing, balance the Federal budget, and build on our record of fiscal discipline and greater economic opportunity for all Americans.

“Thank you for listening.”

Higher spending!? Oh NO! What a horrible situation we’d be in! After all, what’s a few BILLION dollars spent on a useless war? What’s a few BILLION dollars on programs that don’t — and haven’t — worked?

Bush should look in the mirror when he makes statements like these. He’s overspent more than any Democrat I can recall in my lifetime. Our budget is in the toilet because of what HE did. The Democrats are just trying to clean up the mess HE made. I’ve never known someone try to conjure up fear in more ridiculous ways than this feeble president of ours.

This is just another pitiful attempt by Bush and the Republicans at trying to pin the blame on someone else. I fully expect that our taxes will have to be raised– how else can we pay for the disaster of his presidency?

Whether a Democrat, Republican or Independent makes it into the White House in ’08, taxes are going to HAVE to be raised. Otherwise we are going to be in even worse trouble.

So Bush can just stop trying to scare the voters into believing his “Doomsday” predictions.

Doomsday is already here.

A pretty good summary of why I'm no longer Catholic

I was raised Catholic. I spent 12 years of schooling in the Catholic system. It’s a wonder I haven’t guilted myself into jumping off a bridge yet– but somehow, I survived.

I found this video on Feast of Fools recently and just had to share it here. The subject is a bloke by the name of Pat Condell from London, England (hence the bloke comment), and he classifies himself as a comedian– but I think he’s much more than that. He’s witty, yes, but he is very well-spoken and he seems to have a good grasp of why Catholicism is the farce it truly is. And why the church should not only be feared, but avoided at all costs.

Crystalline Fructose

Lately I’ve tried to be much more cognizant of what goes in my body — staying away from things like high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) and partially hydrogenated oils, among other things. For the most part I’ve been doing fairly well, but occasionally I can’t avoid it. The best thing, in my mind, is to cut down the amount I’m ingesting, and keep it at a low minimum.

Recently, I’ve seen something called “Crystalline Fructose” on bottles of “Vitamin Water.”  I never thought anything of it.  I figured if it didn’t SAY “High-fructose corn syrup,” it wasn’t so bad. 

HA!  I was so wrong.

Through research, both in articles, on blogs, and even on a website called “Fructose.org,” I found the general makup of this ‘nutritive’ sweetener:

Fructose    ≥ 98.0% and £ 102.0%, after drying
Arsenic    ≥ 1 mg/kg
Chloride    ≥ 0.018%
Glucose    ≥ 0.5%
Heavy metals (as Pb)    ≤ 5 mg/kg
Hydroxymethylfurfural    ≤ 0.1%, dry basis
Lead   ≤ 0.1 mg/kg
Loss on drying   ≤ 0.5%
Residue on ignition   ≤ 0.5%
Sulfate   ≤ 0.025%

Ulp!

ARSENIC?  LEAD!? HEAVY METALS!?

This is what they are sweetening our drinks with, folks.  These are known toxic materials– things that are known to KILL people.

Sure, the quantities are microscopic, at best, but when you really break it down, WHY do they need to use these properties in something that they are labeling as “nutritive?”  This is false labeling at its worst.

No wonder we are falling victim to a multitude of diseases– including diabetes– every year.  No wonder we are the most obese nation in the world.  It scares the hell out of me what we put into our bodies these days.

Remember when they used to say that sugar was bad for us, so they came up with saccharine?  Then when they realized that saccharine caused cancer and other health problems they created Aspartame?  Whatever happened to good old fashioned sugar?  They turned it into a cancerous killer, too.  It’s nearly impossible to find pure sugar in any soft drinks anymore– unless you go to a “Whole foods” store. 

The important lesson here is that you should read your labels well.  And if you see something you don’t recognize in the list of ingredients, look it up.  You might be surprised– and dismayed– at what you find.

Needless to say, I won’t be buying any kind of fructose in the near future. 

Sources: Fructose Information Center, “What is Crystalline Fructose?” (The Fit Shack)