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Archive for the ‘Establishments’ Category

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.

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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.

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When it comes to hurting people in the Queer community, it is true that I can be pretty damned heartless when it comes to taking pleasure in the demise of those responsible for doing the hurting. One such case came when I was browsing the Internet a few moments ago and I learned that Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria was gutted by a fire last night. I could hardly sit still, overcome with glee. Until I learned that the wretched place is going to reopen. As far as I am concerned, the only travesty here is that it’ll reopen – and that two fire fighters were injured trying to put it out.  Oh, and that Gail Vines – its homophobic co-owner – is likely going to obtain a huge settlement from fire insurance. Yes, those are the only tragedies here today.

Of Course, not mentioned in the coverage provided by The Oklahoman (not surprisingly) is the fact that Flips has been under boycott by the smarter half of the Oklahoma queer community for several months. The reason for this is that Gail Vines also sits on the Oklahoma City School Board, where she voted to fire an openly gay teacher Joe Quigley. The Oklahoma City School District really wanted to get rid of Joe. Why did they want him gone, you ask? Did he molest a pupil, rape a turtle or smoke a blunt in class? No! Our friend Joe committed the audacious sin of trying to get sexual orientation and gender identity included in the district’s anti-bullying policy. Thankfully, he has since been reinstated while the school district pisses away taxpayer money pursuing a frivolous appeal.

Often after a fire, people get soft and compassionate. Gail doesn’t deserve our compassion. There is nothing to indicate that she has changed her queer-hating ways. Lets not allow this to be used by a homophobe and an enemy of our community. Gail had her chance to walk her talk and show she was not homophobic. She instead choose to hide behind her lawyer. May all of you stay strong in our joint mission against queerphobia – and stay away from Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria.

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Its been happening in the queer community for a while now – and it disturbs me on several levels. I have watched as various Christian churches setup shop in our community, claiming to welcome and embrace all. In Oklahoma City, we now have a so-called “affirming” Church right next to our bars, on the main drag in the gayborhood. For the most part, they do embrace all as far as I can tell. But by us accepting them, we are sending a message to the younger generation that Christianity is an acceptable belief system by which to pattern your life after. By allowing these establishments into our community, we are legitimizing them and saying that a belief in them is OK.

Anyone who has spent any time reading the Bible (any version, take your pick) knows that said book is full of hatred for women and minorities of nearly every stripe. Further, Christianity is a life blueprint, its followers are expected to follow the plan laid out in the Bible in all aspects of their lives. The fact that several generations of holy men have worked tirelessly to present a gentler, kinder face for Christianity does not change the fact that its roots are in the barbaric practices of racism, sexism and hatred for those not like them. As such, Christianity is irreconcilably incompatible with values most of us in the queer community hold up: equality, freedom to personal belief, etc.

Let me be direct: Christianity, or more specifically – a belief in it, is a mental defect. If you believe in Christianity, you have a mental illness. Pure and simple. Why do I say this? Because belief in Christianity requires belief in things that you can neither see, nor prove exist. If someone talks to themselves and claims to see things that no one else sees, we call this person retarded, insane, mentally defective or whatever the current politically correct term is at the time. Why do we allow Christians a free pass on this?

The practice of Christianity has resulted in more bloodshed worldwide than every war humanity has ever fought combined. The queer community has suffered more unpleasantries at the hands of so-called men of the cloth than from all other sources combined. This is a fact that most do not dispute. Those who do dispute it are unable to provide any convincing evidence to the contrary. When someone espouses a hatred for or disapproval of homosexual/queer conduct, the justification for spewing forth that hatred or disapproval is overwhelmingly the spewer’s belief in Christianity. If you, as a fellow queer, recall all of the times you have been verbally assaulted for being who you are and then think of what justification the person who assaulted you had, 9 times out of 10 you’d find that you were dealing with some flavor of Christian religious nut.

I guess I am somewhat biased when it comes to this matter, for I do not believe in Christianity. I don’t believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, nor do I believe that there is a man in the sky who made the world in seven days. I don’t believe that I can be struck dead when said man chooses and I firmly believe that (except when I am drunk or high) I and I alone am in control of my actions, my life and my destiny. Numerous challenges to prove the existence of the Christian god have went unfulfilled. No one has ever proven beyond reproach that he even exists. This being the case, why do we allow our community to be taken yet again by Christianity? Haven’t the queers collectively suffered enough at the cruel hands of Christianity?

Friends don’t let friends become Christians. If you or someone you know is being taken in by the Christ lie, please help them see the light. And by see the light, I mean see reality. There is no god. Jesus never existed. And Christian churches exist solely to take money from the community and keep the queers in line so that they don’t become a force for good. As long as we allow Christian churches into our communities, we will always be oppressed. Only when we can rise up and call the Church on its bullshit beliefs, will we have a shot at truly being free.

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Oh, I’m not going to list all of the reasons. Just point out one that’s relevant this time of year. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Like many cities in the United States, there will be a celebration and remembrance of those who lost their lives. Thankfully, one city in Oklahoma is also taking part. But its not Oklahoma City – its Tulsa. That bothers me. This is a capital city. If any city in this state is going to have such a resource first, it should be us. We’re bigger, we have more people and we have more money. Now, this is not an Oklahoma City vs. Tulsa thing, so lets not go there and I’m hardly advocating taking Tulsa’s center away in favor of us getting one. I’m simply expressing outrage that our own folks here haven’t seen fit to get their asses up or together and make it happen here.

As you might expect, the event I mentioned above is taking place at the The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, which is run by Oklahomans for Equality. For those unaware, thats Tulsa’s community center. Every month of every year, the center plays host to numerous events of all varieties. The center is what allows Tulsa to call itself a gay community and its the glue that holds that community together in trying times. Trying times like when Brandon Patrick was bashed. Who was right there, organizing community support and demanding action? Thats right, OkEq.

Tulsa’s equality center is more than just a building. It provides a place for small, underfunded organizations and community groups to maintain an office and have their meetings. It plays host to numerous safe, responsible gatherings for the queer community. Its where Tulsa Pride comes together, planning happens and the event gets executed. Community members who need help can go there for referrals, information and help. Its a central point for dissemination of information. When an authoritative comment is needed by the media or elected officials on queer folks, its the center that they turn to. Tulsa has all this and we don’t. Why don’t we have it? Well, I addressed that in another recent note.

In 2010, I am going to dedicate as much time, energy and resources as I possibly can to getting a community center off the ground in Oklahoma City. We need it. We’ve needed it for a long time. Not just so transgendered people can be remembered, but so that the queers who inhabit Oklahoma City can become the Oklahoma City Gay Community. Because we don’t have a gay community here, we have a bunch of queers who happen to live near each other.

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The Issue: Queer Marriage

I have heard the entire issue of gay marriage debated ad nauseum, like most citizens. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about it because the level of intelligence in the conversation has devolved to the stone ages. Like most political issues of the day, we have a few smart people involved who are making intelligent arguments and looking for real solutions. Then we have them being vastly overshadowed by a factor of ten by the uneducated, ill-informed and sometimes mentally defective masses.

On one hand, we have the religious quacks who think that we are trying to take their pulpits away and break up their happy marriages. Then there are the insecure straight people, who simply can’t handle seeing two guys who love each other kiss in public. Somewhere in there, there is probably a Catholic priest or two gravely worried that his supply of smooth, underage altar boys will be cut off. The religious quacks make up the majority of the against gay marriage folks and thanks to the hysterics of a few preachers abusing their tax exempt statuses, a large majority of the religious public is in hysterics.

On the other side, we have the gay folks and there are several factions here, too. First, there are the I don’t give a shits. These are the same folks who you can’t get to do anything in the gay community and there are a bunch of these. As long as there are still a few bars open and a circuit party every now and again, they don’t give a shit about anything. Sadly, in most gay issues, this is a very large group of people. Our community is very often its own worst enemy and this would not be any exception to that rule to be sure.

Then there is a large group of people who are fighting the right by mobilizing huge grass roots campaigns to run initiatives through the ballot boxes of every state. This group consists of GOTV (Get Out the Vote) folks, PACs (Political Action Committees), Facebook campaigns, protesters, street marchers and every kind of activist you can think of. At the head of this are old-school Gay, Inc. activist organizations like The Human Rights Campaign. We’ve spent alot of money, pounded alot of pavement, knocked alot of doors and burned up more airtime running ads than O.J. Simpson’s murder trial trying to legalize marriage at the ballot box on a state to state basis. What do we have to show for it? One failure after another. Not a single success.

Gee, I dunno, maybe we need to change something.

Queer Marriage: Its About the Benjamins, Stupid

Many people fail to grab whats really at stake here. Gay marriage has never been about getting married. Its not about the cake, the flowers, the ceremony, the marriage license, love or the honeymoon. Its about all of the things that come with marriage. Like health insurance, lower taxes, joint checking accounts, inheritance and spousal benefits at work. These are just a few, but there are many, many more.

Lets not forget divorce, too! You’d think we’d be seeing a huge surge in contributions to pro-marriage campaigns by the trial lawyers associations, since the increase in the need for estate planning services, divorce and litigation would be a boon to the lawyers. Either that, or maybe the lawyers are the smart ones. They do make lots of money and are generally not called stupid. Gee, maybe we’re on to something here. Lets look at this. Maybe they’re saving their money because they realize that under the current plan of attack, we’re not gonna win jack shit.

Ugh oh, I said it. This is not going to get me on Cimmaron Alliance Foundation’s (CAF) holiday card list. I am writing this for a national audience, so I need to keep in mind that not everyone will get my references to the Oklahoma gay activist political landscape. CAF is Oklahoma’s version of HRC. They have raised lots of money and in the past ten years, have both done damn near nothing in terms of moving gay rights forward. But they sure have managed to hold alot of dinner jacket and tie, preach to the choir type gatherings. Oh, and lots of fancy dinners and cocktail parties. I routinely get hammered by various members of the community for calling a spade a spade, as powerful people (like Oklahoma City attorney and wannabe politician Richard Ogden) sit on these organization’s boards.

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

Epic Fail: Gay Rights on Life Support

Gay rights in this country are on life support. We’re under attack from every angle and we’ve hardly prepared to go to war with the establishment. If we don’t wind up getting stuffed back in the closet (or worse) it will be a miracle. Because the race is on to stuff the homos back into their closets before society has to deal with us and acknowledge that yes, despite the fact that we may suck cocks, we are humans too and thus qualify for equal protection under the Constitution.

As a community, we picked a fight with a very powerful enemy (the church) and we are going about it on the basis that the general public (which has been attending public schools for about two hundred years – and significantly dumbed down as a result of it) will examine the facts, determine that homosexuals are people (despite the fact that they engage in some things they’d rather not know about – like cock sucking) deserving of all the same rights as everyone else. Then, the public, after being poked and prodded by the TV ads, news stories on the rallys and GOTV effort, will run to the polls and give homos their rights.

Does this all sound deluded to you? Because it should. Here is a hint: people who believe that a man in the sky controls the world are usually not rational people. In fact, most psychologists (who are unbiased on the subject of religion) will tell you that most religious people could be diagnosed with a mental disorder. In fact, they are not far removed from being insane. And they are especially prone to doing things they would not normally do, especially if they believe that god wants them to, or (worse yet) god is telling them to. One only need study mass murders and serial killers for validation of this fact. Many report that god wanted them or event told them to kill. So is it really surprising that they are willing to take away our rights when their preachers convince them that god wants them to do so?

It shouldn’t come as any huge shock to you if you have been a student of the past. We can look to history to see what religion has allowed stupid people in large groups to accomplish before. A little stroll down memory lane, if you will. It brought Hitler to power, provided for the crusades and allowed Wiccans to be burned at the stake. If they are willing to kill millions of people, do you think they’ll have any qualms with stuffing us in a corner somewhere where they can pretend like we don’t exist.

They ignore the other pages of their bible (remember, the Bible is God’s word – despite the fact that God has been dead for 2,000 years and yet they keep releasing new versions of the bible) that say you should love your neighbor, treat others as you wish to be treated, not judge others and not kill people. They ignore those parts and selectively focus on and then exaggerate the ones they like. And if god is perfect and never makes mistakes, then everyone was made exactly as they were supposed to be. Every person. Including every faggot. Thank you to Queer as Folk character Michael Novotny for giving us this line of thinking. Like George Carlin has observed, these people are full of bullshit.

These people are nuts! Bat shit crazy! There is no reasoning with them! Oh, the truth. Its just so damn inconvenient sometimes!

Setting the Record Straight

And lets get one thing straight, while we are at it. The ballot boxes are not being fixed. In all of the states that have refused gay marriage at the ballot box, its because – gasp – a majority of citizens in said state do not believe that homos should have the right to marry. And yes, they really do believe it! Its not because we didn’t spend enough on TV ads, knock enough doors or hand out enough flyers. We could have spent ten times more and our opposition a hundred times less and the outcome would have still been the same. So we need to stop acting like the there is something wrong with the results. The results reflect the wishes of the people.

Only in the United States of America, we have a Constitution that says ALL people are equal. Even if some would rather certain others not be considered so. And thus, what the majority of the American public thinks about homos being equal doesn’t fucking matter. Thats right, its irrelevant. We need to stop pretending that it does matter by going to the ballot boxes.

Learning from Our Mistakes: Moving Forward

Thankfully, its not too late to pick up the pieces and put together a movement that can rescue our rights and finally end this sad chapter in American history. Below are my ideas on how to resolve the matter.

Option #1: Dismantle Marriage as We Know It

In my opinion, this is the best option. The religious nuts are all in a fervor that letting homos wed will destroy marriage. Lets give them what they want. Thats right, lets take their sacred institution of marriage apart, brick by brick. This fight is really about rights, so lets make it about rights instead of marriage.

  • Get a few single straight and gay people to file a class action lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service and have the tax code declared unconstitutional because it taxes single people at different rates than married people, a violation of equal protection.
  • Get a few more to sue for denying survivor’s benefits to gay couples on the basis of equal protection violations.
  • Another group can sue to invalidate inheritance taxes when they are imposed after a spouse passes on.

This is doable. It takes a few brave souls, a lawyer and about $300 to file the lawsuit in federal court. One of two things will happen. Either they’ll sit back and let us tear the whole thing down or they’ll RUN to implement my next option with the hope of saving whats left of the institution of marriage. This would be an automatic win for us, for the reasons explained below.

Option #2: Privatize Marriage – Get the Government Out

I am a fan of giving credit where its due and not re-inventing the wheel. So I will let David Boaz present this argument to you. He astutely articulated it way back in 1997. And its still just as valid today as it was then, maybe more so now. By getting the government out of marriage, we remove the ability of the government to tell us who can get married and who can’t and put that back in the hands of the church. Fred Phelps is proof that anyone can start a church, no matter how insane they are. I am sure that we have a couple of good homos somewhere who could start a church that recognizes and officiates our marriages.

Folks, its time to take the gloves off. No more Mr. Nice Fag. You want your rights? Then demand them and be willing to fight for them. Or shut up.

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