Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2010

I write this today in somewhat of a state of bliss. I am high, having taken a few Percocets (please, spare me the bullshit – my life, my body, my right – DEA be damned) which has had the desired effect and taken the edge of these last few insanely stressful days, but I am also sort of out of it. But my mind is clear and I am relaxed. I am taking some down time right now, unwinding from a stressful last few days. I think by the time you are done reading this post, you’ll understand why. I am sitting here watching Logo and reflecting on a lot of things while I answer the occasional e-mail, Facebook comment and such.

So the first thing up on the list is the hospitalization this evening of Kerri Logsdon, a friend and board member of Norman Queer Pride. She is in OU Medical Center tonight in intense pain. The doctors don’t know exactly whats wrong with her, but they are going to do a lot of tests. I took her to the hospital tonight and am now staying at her place to keep an eye on things. Someone came and kicked the door in to the apartment next door, so this will ensure that her place stays safe while she is away.

Kerri has driven me nuts this week, but its not really her fault. Her family life is a mess and I know I am not the most pleasant person to be around when I am hurting. She is just lonely but unfortunately, having someone around who wants to go on and on about their medical problems really brings me down. None the less, since no one else is there for her and I don’t have anything better to do (actually, I do…) I may as well try to ease someone else’s suffering even if only by a little bit. What goes around comes around, so I figure that if I do this good turn, maybe someone will be there for me when  I need it. So I am happy to do it, but also glad I have a break now. I hope Kerri feels better and gets some relief, she is not a bad person to be around.

In other news, I am expecting a settlement check today for a lawsuit against a company I used to have a warehousing contract with. Their insurance company decided to settle and they finally got around to mailing the check a couple of days ago from Phoenix, so I expect it will arrive at my attorney’s office today. Nevermind that according to the terms of our agreement, the check was to be sent via FedEx and was supposed to be in the mail like two weeks ago, so this insurance company apparently just decided to do what they felt like doing. I feel sorry for the opposing counsel, John Walkup of The Edmonds Cole Law Firm in Oklahoma City. He is stuck in the middle of the whole thing and helpless as much as anyone else. I think he is sincere in his efforts and while I am not a patient person when money is concerned, I remind myself that its indecent to hold someone in Oklahoma City responsible for the actions of some twit for a claims adjuster at an insurance company in Phoenix.

But all is well that ends well, so now I am deciding where to put the money to work for me. I did get a bit more than I expected, so I am reminded of my civic obligations to help others when I am able to do so. To that end, I think I am going to make some charitable donations with some of the funds, and I have decided I am going to start by giving $100 to RAIN of Oklahoma, which provides HIV testing services with no cost or obligation. While I disagree with some of the things the organization has done recently, I am not going to be petty. The mission is worthy of support.

I have already donated $200 to Mike McKee, my attorney who handled the case. He was only going to take $700 for his services, I told him to go ahead and take $900. Mike is from a different time, a time when people became lawyers to serve their communities and help others, not to get filthy rich. Mike and I have many viewpoints that are worlds apart on topics like religion and politics, but I have a great amount of respect for the man. He works tirelessly for his clients and in this case, he is giving me a very fair shake.

A third donation is going to be made in the way of a loan to a guy in Oklahoma City I know. While he is not gay, he is still part of our community and has had a string of bad luck. Without going into details, he has been out of work and his landlord told him he could work around the complex doing make readies and such in exchange for free rent. He did a bunch of work, but didn’t get it in writing, and so when the rent came due, the landlord took $100 off the rent, which was not the deal. Then the jackass posted an eviction notice. So I am gonna loan the guy about $550 to help him get on his feet. He says he’ll pay me back and while I believe he is sincere, I dont know the guy that well so I am considering it a donation until proven otherwise. I do expect it back, but I’m not counting on it.

Other, smaller donations will be going to causes that I have long supported including The National Association of Railroad Passengers, The American Motors Owners Association, Earth Island Institute and The Fully Informed Jury Association. I will probably also find some funding for Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Oklahomans for Equality. Its one thing to sit around and bitch about the direction our country is taking, but if you aren’t willing to put your money where your mouth is, then there is not really any point, is there?

In other news, I have launched three new blogs to cover specific aspects of my life. I created a blog to cover and provide updates on the License Plate Lawsuit. You may want to bookmark that page if you wish to follow the case. I opened a second blog to be dedicated to my love of travel, called Traveling with Keith. Few people know about my hobby of screen writing, but the other night I fired up Final Draft and cranked out a few pages of script that maybe one day will turn into something marketable. The name of that blog is Keith Silver Screen. I haven’t done anything with it yet, but I will sometime soon.

I am looking forward to buying an iPhone and dumping Cricket’s lousy service. While I don’t miss having a $200 a month cell phone bill for unlimited everything, I do miss having unlimited everything. And while I hate AT&T with a passion, I hate Sprint even worse. In fact, look for the announcement soon: I will be filing a small claims lawsuit against Sprint for the manner in which they fucked me over on my account. Plus, I am starting to become a real fan of Apple stuff, and for many years I was about as anti-Mac as they come.

I really like the idea of Apple’s MobileMe service, which allows you to use a computing cloud to have ONE address book, calendar and so on that updates itself without having to plug in dongles and such. For instance, you add an appointment on your iPhone while in the field, then you come home to your MacBook and the thing is already there without having to plug in and sync. Yes, I know you can sync Outlook on Windows, but Windows sucks and Outlook is such a piece of shit (its full of security holes) that I refuse to install. As if that weren’t enough, to have Outlook you have to buy Microsoft Office which is not something I’ll be doing. Not when I can use the freely available OpenOffice which is every bit as good and comes with the low, low price of free. Of course, this does require me to make my next computer a Mac as well, which I think I will be doing. In fact, I really like the new iMacs with their big, beautiful and bright displays. I’ll wait to see what the verdict is on the iPad before I ditch my Toshiba in favor of a MacBook or iPad, as the Toshiba still has a lot of life left in it.

Being as how I have been up for damn near an entire day now, its time to wrap this up. So I will close with a brief talk about my longing for Chicago. More specifically, an adventure that possibly awaits me next time I go there.You see, I have never been able to stay away from Chicago for very long. For me, the windy city will always be my true home. No matter where I go or how long I stay, I am still only visiting. Home is where the heart is and my heart always belongs in Chicago and its memories.

Anyway, the adventure I speak of is as follows: there is a guy who now lives there and works at a gay bar, but he once lived here in Oklahoma. I like him, not necessarily as a boyfriend – but I haven’t ruled that out. I am not going to identify him, but those who know me know that I like them barely legal. This guy is in his mid 30s and has gray hair, which for anyone who knows me and what I like is probably reading this in utter shock. While I do find him attractive, its not his body that I am drawn to. He has an aurora of mystery about him that really intrigues me. He is very shy despite working in a job that puts him in a position to deal extensively with the public. I think he isolates the personal him from the professional him. He is a deep thinker and extremely intelligent, with a vivid imagination capable of painting very thought-provoking pictures in the mind. I have had occasion to read some of his short stories and thats how I know this. He is well read, can hold an intelligent conversation that keeps me on my toes.

His writings do seem to indicate low self esteem as he is always beating up on himself. He seems to feel unwanted. I do admit that I dont know much about him, I only met him a couple of times while he lived here and he does not remember me, but I remembered him. He has been single for quite some time and I think its likely that he has been hurt before, probably very badly. I must say with what I know of him thus far, he is the partner of my dreams. Smart, intelligent, witty and good looking in a way that generates appreciation and respect instead of someone who is just hot in a “piece of meat” sort of way. I don’t think he has any idea just what a wonderful person he is, though, of course I need to get to know him much better before I can say this is the way of it. I am speaking purely based on what I have found out about him thus far.

Someday soon, I will find my way to Chicago for yet another visit. I talk to this guy online occasionally. He has said he’ll let me buy him a cup of coffee if I find myself in town. But where, if anywhere, does it go beyond that? Do I want it to go beyond that? These are the things that I have been thinking about. I have a habit of scaring people away and this is one that – if I decided to pursue him – would be worth keeping. I can tell that if I was his and he mine, he would be a loyal companion who would be in it for keeps.

The only question that remains is how do I explore the possibilities without scaring him away. The plate case ensures that I am going to be living in Oklahoma for quite a while as the case winds its way through the courts here. Perhaps thats a good thing for this situation, it will force me to take it slow and steady, which is whats going to be needed here for sure.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So this past Friday, I appeared on The American Heathen Radio Network’s talk show. We had a great time talking about the issues, and we also made an announcement. There is going to be a second lawsuit regarding vanity plates in Oklahoma in the near future. The host of the show, RJ Evans has previously been granted a tag reading “ATHEIST” by the OTC. However, the OTC has in the past denied the tag “GODLESS”. Evans is going to apply for the GODLESS tag later this week and when it is denied, bring suit against the OTC for the improper denial.

This is particularly disturbing (while at the same time being quite amusing) because it shows the highly subjective manner in which the OTC grants and denies tags. Simply put: the manner in which the OTC adjudicates applications is both arbitrary and capricious. Atheist means godless. The idea that the word atheist is not offensive but godless is offensive is pure poppycock. Whats more, it shows that the OTC is not even consistent in denying one side of a single issue the right to speak. While they have (as far as I know) kept all the gays from getting plates that could express their gayness, they clearly haven’t done the same for the atheists. No doubt, they’ll claim that this was another one of those plates that “slipped through”, but its been issued for over three years. As the Administrative Law Judge pointed out in the administrative hearings phase of the protest, each year a plate is renewed was an opportunity to deny such renewal and correct any plates that had “slipped through” and the OTC, in all of the examples that were considered at the hearing, elected not to do so.

So now we have the two biggest hot button issues in on this fight. We have religion and we have homosexuality. As RJ has astutely pointed out, this a separation of church and state issue as much as its a free speech and gay rights issue. We have a government agency which has claimed for itself the right to exclude certain people from the conversation that is taking place on about 56,000 vanity plates in the state based on criteria that is neither written nor specific. Who gets and plate and doesn’t get a plate is up to the personal prejudices of the individual encoder examining the application. When you let some people on one side of an issue talk and deny that right to others, its viewpoint-based discrimination. In Cimarron Alliance v. City of Oklahoma City, Ok, 290 F.Supp.2d 1252 (W.D. Okl., 2002), the federal Courts took a definitive stand against viewpoint-based discrimination.

While this started out being about me getting a license plate I wanted to express myself, it has quickly become about so much more. Its no longer just about me or my plate and its not even about gay rights. While all of these are components and motivating factors, This is about free speech and separation of church and state. Two of the most fundamental rights we as citizens of the United States hold to be of paramount importance. If the Oklahoma Tax Commission gets away with its conduct in this case, this signals a huge change in our rights. It will be the dawn of a new era in which the 1st amendment is void where prohibited, restricted or taxed by law or administrative rule. This case will set precedent and change the direction of free speech in this country.

Read Full Post »

I have been crazy busy these last few days to my regret, have not really had time to keep up with local news.  Whats up with Jim Pope? Well, our Republican friends did a great job of summarizing his accomplishments. Tim Pope was an enemy of the people. He worked to undermine equality. As a human being who gives a shit about this kind of stuff, I am glad he is dead. I hope they dig the hole post haste and plant him deep so that he can begin making the world a better place post-death (something he failed to do while he was alive) by fertilizing a cemetery plot.

Read Full Post »

Well, I expected that the local Oklahoma City-based media would pay attention to the lawsuit I filed against The Oklahoma Tax Commission. I figured some outlets from around Oklahoma would also pay attention. I even thought that I might get a few “Attaboy!”s from a few concerned homos across state lines. But I did not expect CNN to call me about Nancy Grace possibly being interested in the case nor did I expect celebrity gossip blog Dlisted to turn the case into a referendum on my fashion choices by naming me “Hot Slut of the Day”. But all of those things have happened today, and many others.

Something else has happened as well. I have received dozens of communications from folks telling me what kinds of plates they have seen around or had issued to them. Its become a discussion about license plates and the phenomenon. I am convinced now – more than at any other point in this whole fiasco – that the OTC has lost this case. They may as well tape all applications up on the wall and throw darts at them to decide who gets a plate and who doesn’t. Its all based on, well, who knows what its based on. I don’t even think they know.

Here are two observations from those communications:

  • A fellow Norman resident called to tell me they granted his tag “ATHEIST”. Odd, since they have denied “GODLESS” and others. So not only do they engage in viewpoint-based discrimination, they are not even consistent in their discrimination within a single topic.
  • From a comment on the News 9 Story: “I don’t see anything wrong with the tag. There is a guy in Norman that has a tag that reads NOFTCHX. Which means NO FAT CHICKS, he can have that but an outwardly gay man can’t have an IM GAY tag. Get real people whatever happened to freedom of speech???”

Oh, and last – but certainly not least – there is this:

Media coverage in the case has apparently reached a nationwide level already, as I have some lonely, single (presumably, gay) guy who thinks I am cute and wants to get to know me in a really hurry. He is 22 years old, works at Sams Club and is from some town I have never heard of in New York. He found my cell number somewhere (probably the damned press release) and started texting me telling me he wanted to be friends on Facebook. I approved the friend request he sent and he immediately started chatting me up.

I was on the phone with a reporter when all this happened, so I had to ask him to stop messaging me on my Facebook chat like a dozen times so I could concentrate on my call and not sound like a stuttering idiot to the reporter on the other end who was trying to get me to come on his radio show (which I will be appearing on this Friday from 7 to 10 PM, I am sitting on the entire show). He would stop for about a minute and then start back in and ask me if I am still there and such. He was half groveling and half worshiping me, while asking what I thought of him looks wise.

It was a bit over the top and I finally snapped and swore at him out of frustration (and immediately felt bad for doing it, how was he supposed to know I am not a patient person) and told him I was looking for the block button on Facebook. He asked why and I told him, point blank: he was annoying the hell out of me. He then freaked out and begged for forgiveness and for me not to block him. It was at this point that I realized a measure of humility was needed here.

Honestly, I felt sorry for the guy. Clearly, he was happy to have found a friend. He doesn’t have many on Facebook and I wonder if I am the only gay guy he knows or who will talk to him. The world is a cruel place for a homosexual when you are all alone. Even when you are around folks who understand and support you, its not much less cruel. Some of the things being said about me in the comments sections of various news sites are completely uncalled for. There are areas of New York that are every bit as conservative as Oklahoma, so I can understand and appreciate some of what he is facing. Hell, I was there not so long ago.

I don’t know his situation, but I’ll try to find out and help if I can. He’s offline now and the reporter is off the phone. I just hope he doesn’t kill himself or something. He did strike me as perhaps a little unbalanced and/or desperate for human contact and he said something about him having ADHD. The way society treats gay people, its a wonder that they manage to survive at all, much less some of them become truly awesome. Bigot Sally Kern once made light of how gay kids have high suicide rates. I wonder if it ever occurred to her that maybe thats the case because society – led by people like her – so often treat these people like utter trash to the point that they as human beings just shut down and lose all desire and reason for living.

Overall, I feel very good about where this case is headed. The media is covering this story fairly and accurately, which surprises me a little bit. I figured we’d have some outlet come out with a hatchet job of a story, spun around to fit some biased viewpoint. But they don’t seem to be doing that. The Oklahoman ran a factual story, followed closely by The Associated Press’s take on it. I take that in and of itself as a sign of progress. We’re going to open some doors in Oklahoma with this one. Now, some folks are not going to want them opened, but they will be opened none the less.

I say all this is all a good thing. We’re moving forward. Attitudes are changing here.

Read Full Post »

On February 10, 2010, I – through my attorney Brittany M. Novotnyfiled a civil lawsuit against The Oklahoma Tax Commission in The Oklahoma County District Court. The case seeks to have certain sections The Oklahoma Administrative Code (specifically, sections of O.A.C 710:60-3-150) dealing with the content and issuance of personalized license plates declared unconstitutional. You can follow the case on it’s Facebook page.

The press release issued upon filing was as follows:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Keith Kimmel, 405.886.5095, http://tinyurl.com/otcplatecase

Oklahoma City, OK – An Oklahoma taxpayer has filed a civil lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court against the Oklahoma Tax Commission, continuing a battle for freedom of speech on vanity license plates. The suit seeks to have part of the Commission’s rules regarding the issuance of personalized license plates declared unconstitutional.

Keith Kimmel, who filed the suit through his attorney, provided the following statement: “The Oklahoma Tax Commission is continuing to subject Oklahomans to a subjective decision making process in issuing personalized vanity license plates. Under our state Constitution, all Oklahomans enjoy the right to freedom of speech and an equal opportunity to express their viewpoints. Previous testimony in the administrative proceedings held on this matter have shown that the Commission is selectively granting and denying applications based on Commission employees’ own personal prejudices and viewpoints. The Constitution requires that state rules are viewpoint neutral, with an objective standard that puts the taxpayer on notice of what is legal and what is not. This suit is intended to put an end to the Tax Commission’s unconstitutional practice of subjecting taxpayers to the whim of individual employees.”

The case is Keith Kimmel v. State of Oklahoma, ex rel, Oklahoma Tax Commission, Oklahoma County Case No. CJ-2010-1072.

Read Full Post »

One of the favorite arguments the Tort Reform lobby likes to make in favor of its position is that tort reform is necessary to prevent a slew of people from abusing the system to get rich filing lawsuits for exaggerated or made up claims.Not to mention, it will free up the Courts to deal with important cases by easing the flood of meaningless claims.

There is one case in particular that is always pointed to as an example of this treachery. We’ve all heard about the lady named Stella Liebeck and her encounter with hot coffee at McDonalds. Most folks don’t know her name, yet they still judge her and think that she was a greedy old woman who took advantage of a situation. Well, thats what people who don’t know the facts think. The real facts of the case are at Public Citizen. Still think that verdict is so ridiculous? I sure don’t.

“So what!”, you say? Further, you argue: “One case proved incorrect. There are still gobbs of people who abuse the system which is experiencing a flood of lawsuits filed by greedy system abusers. Corporations just want to protect themselves and their shareholder’s profits from this ludicrous behavior. Tort reform now.”

What if I told you that there is no flood of litigation being filed by these people? What if I told you that people in the United States are not nearly as sue happy as we often think? What if I told you that well over half of the litigation filed in this country is not even filed by people? Would you believe it? What if I told you that I could prove it?

Fun Fact: The overwhelming majority of civil litigation filed in the United States is filed on behalf of corporations.

Don’t believe me? Lets put it to the test. Take a look at the cases (excluding criminal and traffic) filed in Oklahoma County District Court on February 10th, 2010. Oklahoma County holds the capital of the State of Oklahoma and the docket sheet I showed you is typical of any day. Go here and try another date. For that matter, try another county. The format for entering dates is MM/DD/YYYY. Sure, the numbers change a little here and there, but by and large the overwhelming majority of lawsuits are filed on behalf of corporations. Its this way everywhere, not just in red states. It doesn’t get more liberal than California, go look at the daily dockets for their courts. Its the same everywhere. Could it be that the corporations are the only ones who can afford the lawyers to get their cases into court?

There is a flood of litigation in the United States all right. Most of it comes from the same people who are funding the Tort Reform movement. Tort Reform is a lie. It designed to slam the courthouse doors in the faces of people who seek to hold those responsible for victimizing them responsible.

Read Full Post »

If one was looking for things to be unhappy with the advocacy establishment for, we can look to the recent Dont Ask, Dont Tell show for plenty of ammunition. The manner in which the gay advocacy organizations are attacking this issue is ineffective and wrong from a moral standpoint, an intellectual standpoint as well as a logistical one. No one seems to be calling for any major changes, however. This shouldn’t be entirely surprising, considering that the same the Gay, Inc. coalition of mega advocacy outlets gets it wrong early and often.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) affects millions of people in states like this one, where it can be impossible for a queer person to get and hold a job due to the bias against them. ENDA would make firing a queer illegal and make it illegal to refuse to hire them, too. Just like you can’t refuse to hire and can’t fire people because of their sex or race.

We’re going after Dont Ask, Dont Tell (DADT) first because its patriotic and no one wants to appear remotely non-supportive of our veterans and no other reason. That’s poor advocacy. The mission should always be to help the most people simultaneously, when its not possible to deliver service to everyone at the same time. Just like in a hospital emergency room. A guy with a heart attack gets seen before the lady with the tooth ache.  The ER is better run than the Gay, Inc. advocacy groups. At least in an ER, the triage staff ensures that the ER treats people in the order of severity of their medical needs instead of who is screaming the loudest, who is most sympathetic or whoever has the most family members advocating for them. Draw the similarities between this example and the DADT lobby.

The DADT lobby is the loudest, it has lots of friends and its very sympathetic. Its also less worthy of our attention and resources when compared to ENDA. Protecting our veterans is important – no one is arguing this point. But under the manner we are currently operating, we are guilty of using the same tactics we decried of the Bush administration: using fake, phony patriotism to push an agenda. It’s the same agenda that got Bush’s Patriot Act onto the books. It’s dangerous and its pursuit is ignorant. Moreover, its at the expense of millions of Americans for the benefit of an incredibly small group of people.

For starters, there are honestly not that many queers in the military. Sure, there are plenty, I am sure. Supposedly 10% of the population is gay, so that means that 10% of the military should be gay. Based on current numbers, there are about 2.6 million people in the military (including all services and the reserves) we are talking about 260,000 people at the most. Of course, you can slice and dice the numbers any way you want. Anyone who has been through a college level statistics course or a political campaign knows you can create a number to support any argument, no matter how ludicrous. No one has numbers on how many gays there are in the military right now because they aren’t allowed to declare their status, thats the whole point, remember? So all of these numbers on how many people are effected are just best guesses, not hard facts despite the fact that you’d never know as much by the way they are relied upon and cited.

Now, let us keep in mind that being in the military is a want, not a need. People may want to serve their country, but they wont die if they don’t. They will, however, die if they are unable to provide for themselves in the way of food and shelter. This is not just my opinion and common sense, I have scientific research to back this up. American Psychologist Abraham Maslow came up with “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” to explain a human’s needs and what order they come in and he expressed this in a pyramid. At the base are things most important, towards the top are things that are still important, but cannot exist without a foundation and therefore we consider them more important because other things depend on them. We find things like food, water, shelter, employment on the  bottom two levels of the pyramid. While membership in the military is not specifically mention, a reasonable argument can be made that it would fall under “Love/Belonging” and “Esteem/Achievement” categories. Therefore, being in the military is less important than being able to obtain gainful employment and the things that come from it. This is high school stuff, kids — not rocket science.”

It is true that queers kicked out the military under DADT face a variety of challenges, including the inability to find work. You’d think this would cause folks to see the ability of queers to be employed to be a more significant issue. It impacts more people and one problem goes a ways towards solving the others. If we took care of the ENDA issue, at least queers kicked out of the military could return to the states and obtain gainful employment. But our current approach has us pursuing protections for a special interest group with limited success. Meanwhile, there is some queer somewhere sleeping under a bridge because no one will hire them.

To build a strong queer community, we need to strengthen our foundations. We need to focus on the basics before we take that larger leap forward. Under our current approach, we are trying to put queers on the moon when none of them can even pass the NASA entrance exams. Something is wrong with this, obviously.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »