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Archive for the ‘Queerphobia’ Category

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Keith Kimmel
Ph: 405.795.3800
E-mail: keithontap@gmail.com

(Norman, OK) Keith Kimmel, the man who filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the State of Oklahoma’s Tax Commission to secure a personalize license plate, says he was the victim of a gay bashing at the hands of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department this weekend and has filed a complaint.

On Monday March 29, 2009, he filed a complaint by US Mail with the Internal Affairs Department of the Tulsa Police Department, claiming that he had been dragged across a parking lot, punched in the testicles and verbally assaulted by officers of The Tulsa Police Department after being involved in a fight at a Tulsa gay bar. The complaint included pictures of injuries Kimmel sustained in the incident. The complaint was filed by mail after Kimmel was unable to reach the Internal Affairs Department all day by telephone to find out how it could be faxed or e-mailed. “I would like to get this information into the hands of the Internal Affairs Officers as early as possible, but I have tried calling all day and have been directed to voicemail. I tried calling various other offices within the department, but they continually redirect me back to the Internal Affairs number that no one answers”, Kimmel said.

Kimmel says he isn’t sure if the incident comes as retaliation for his earlier suit against the state. “I do not know if someone in the Tulsa Police Department has taken it upon themselves to dole out justice in their own way because of the suit, but what I do know is there has been alot of media coverage about the case in Tulsa, and I think its something that should at least be looked into. Regardless of why it happened, it was completely unacceptable and unprofessional. I am currently seeking the advice of an attorney on the matter and will pursue the internal complaint procedure of the Tulsa Police Department to the fullest extent possible in the meantime.”

In the complaint, Kimmel asks the Tulsa Police Department to utilize the recently passed federal hate crimes legislation to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help investigate the incident, despite the fact that Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell has recently introduced legislation designed to allow Oklahoma to “opt out” of the new law. “Senator Russell may belive that the protections of the new federal hate crimes law are not needed here in Oklahoma, but I think I have just learned how sorely they are needed in a very personal way. This is not an issue where TPD should be allowed to investigate itself, an unbiased party should be brought into to examine the incident throughly and through an unbiased lens.”

A copy of Kimmel’s complaint may be downloaded in Adobe PDF format (6.17 MB) by going to: http://files.me.com/keithkimmel/l4g041.

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I have not been blogging (or doing much of anything else) as I have been suffering from a bout of toothaches and headaches lately. I think I may have an impacted tooth, which means a visit to Dr. Drill n Fill is in my future soon. Those are always fun. Not.

I just finished up an interview on Sirius/XM for The Jay Thomas Show, which was kind of a crazy, but fun show. We talked about the plate case and they had callers suggest plates I could get and we also kinda had a “Ask the Gay Guy” segment. They had a caller come and ask me if I had ever gotten poo on my wong, which was kinda disgusting. Thats why you always check your boys before you do them, folks. Always, always inspect that ass. Hey, this advice goes for you straight boys, too. Always look before you insert your roll of quarters in the vending machine.

Its St. Pattys Day, so tonight I’ll be going to End Up in Tulsa to hand out with my boy (hes dancing tonight, gotta support the home team) and I bought a new green shirt just for the occasion. The fun starts at 8 PM, hope you to see some of you there. I know Chris and Gary will be there.

So in other news, The Oklahoma Supreme Court has admonished the legislature yet again for seeking to enact and enforce unconstitutional legislation. You’d think they would have gotten the hint after the first dozen times. I also finally got tired of answering e-mails from folks asking about the plate case, so I posted an update to the site for the plate case. I wasted about twenty minutes of my life and read the drivel on The Advocate about the train wreck that is Johnny Weir. I think he is really is a brat. A cute one, though.

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I really wish I didn’t have to make this post, but unfortunately, I do. Unlike many folks I encounter, I have a code of ethics and morals and I believe in true equality. Many folks seem to have this hypocritical habit of supporting things like free speech and equality only when it suits them or their interests, or only when the topic in question is not too controversial or only so long as certain people they place upon pedestals don’t object. This is not the mark of a patriot, a freedom fighter, an independent or someone worthy of support. Its the mark of a coward, a hypocrite, an imbecile and folks who ought not to have the right to inhabit our country.

I don’t hate very many people or organizations, but The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is one fundamentalist Christian organization I do reserve a special spot in the deep, dark bottom of my cold, dead heart for. WBC is better described as a cult and its a disgusting little organization run by a deranged lunatic who appointed himself to be a preacher named Fred Phelps. The flock is comprised mostly of members of his family. I truly hate this organization, its membership, its leaders and what it stands for.

Being a gay homosexual myself, I am one of the groups of people they have targeted. So far, I have had a couple of run-ins with this organization, the most recent of which was when they came to Moore, Oklahoma and decided to picket Moore High School. Moore has alot of gay youth, as one friend of mine so politically incorrectly observed, “Moore is where all the bottoms come from.”. There is a video about the protest that I got involved in on my YouTube channel.

Now word comes that The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is going to hear an appeal regarding a lawsuit filed against him Phelps for WBC’s activities. One fine day in 2006, Phelps decided to picket the funeral of a dead US solider in Maine with their usual vile message of hate. The family sued WBC and Phelps and was awarded the family over $11 million in damages for emotional distress. The judge reduced the award to $5 million, then a federal appeals court threw out the award all together. The family now appeals to SCOTUS to reinstate the damages.

This is an important case because we are about set a key precedent. That family deserves the money, that I will tell you. But unfortunately, if they are awarded those funds, it will come at great expense to all of us. Because the case will not just decide if they get the money, it will decide if free speech extends to funerals. While most decent people know that a funeral is no place to make a political statement, this is not about decency – of which Phelps has none – this is about freedom of speech. As we should all be aware, the right to speech in this country includes the right to speak at times when it is not socially acceptable (at a funeral) and also the right to say unintelligent, disagreeable, stupid things (as WBC does early and often). As we should also be equally aware, rights are have often been lost by taking a well-meaning step towards silencing a highly offensive message in the name of cleaning up the public forum.

Fred Phelps is an old man, soon he will be in the ground dead and no longer voicing his hatred for all. WBC has not been very successful in recruiting new members, either. When his family dies off, so to will his church and its vile message of hate. While the message Phelps and WBC have for the world is annoying and undoubtedly painful for those who have to hear it, it is not worth gutting the first Amendment over to rid ourselves of it! If we start saying that objectionable or offensive speech is not allowed at funerals, we have just set a dangerous precedent that you can bet will be promptly extended to other areas – like churches and other religious gatherings. Will it be illegal for homosexuals to protest WBC while they are in session if SCOTUS decides in favor of the family? Thats a real possibility if SCOTUS finds in favor of this family.

Many people are going to argue that funerals are off-limits and that no one has the right to come into a funeral and make a statement. In other words, SCOTUS should find in this family’s favor because the ends (stopping people from being assholes through speech at funerals) justify the means (making it illegal to be an asshole through speech at places where such conduct is prohibited by law). In one way, they are correct. Funerals are closed events and there should be a legal right to exclude undesirables. Funerals, when held on private property as they usually are, are off-limits to anyone who does not have permission of the real property owner to come onto that private property. All that is needed is for the property owner to tell the Phelps that they are not welcome and ask them to leave. If they don’t, a phone call to the police will result in an arrest for trespassing.

But if they stand beyond the property line on public property or on the property of someone who allows them to be there, then that’s fair play. Legally, there is no sound argument to be made for silencing WBC so long as they stand beyond the property line. That wont keep them from sending their message, and the best thing to do would to be to use a very large piece of property, so that the property line is far enough away that the Phelps are out of sight and out of mind. If this case is about protecting the privacy and sanctuary of funerals, this will be an adequate fix to the problem. But I suspect alot of people want to see this family win to silence the Phelps and thats not an action that should be undertaken.

I must say that in this case, I support the right of WBC to speak because it’s a right granted to all citizens of this country – even at funerals and even when the message being spoken is morally repugnant and devoid of value. I hope that SCOTUS, with its conservative makeup, makes this connection. True conservatives tend to understand these types of arguments and will see them under the Castle doctrine, so there is hope that common sense will prevail.

We must resist the temptation to take feel-good actions in extreme cases that have far-reaching consequences. Part of not being a hypocritical coward is having the courage to defend people you truely hate when their ability to remain equal is threatened. In this case, the equality of WBC and Phelps is being threatened in a manner that threatens our collective right to free speech. This I cannot and will not be a part of supporting.

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I promise you what I am about to say is true: I don’t take the unpopular side of every issues just to be a douche.

I know that making a statement like that is an odd way to begin a blog post, but we are going to be talking about local politics and specifically Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal, so in light of these circumstances, I felt it might be appropriate. Plus, I am preparing to go on a tirade here of epic proportions and I wont be mincing words, so use of the word “douche” in the first sentence was the most thoughtful way I could think of to fire off the opening salvo.

I should also warn you that this is the scene in my hotel room right now. Well, more specifically: this is the scene as it applies to this post. Yep, thats 190 Proof (95% pure alcohol). Its a generic version of Everclear. In other words, I’m quickly on my way to becoming drunk. Don’t ask me why I am calling a hotel my residence until I find a new place that meets my very particular requirements in Norman. Lets just say the lease on my last place ended on February 28th and I elected not to renew and got lazy about finding a new place.

Anyway, first up is the election results in Norman. Mayor Cindy Rosenthal was re-elected, carrying 53.65% (6,798) of the vote and two spending measures passed as well. 64.72% (8,170) of the voters decided to spend $19 million on roads and infrastructure projects, while 62.07% (7,814)of the voters decided to spend $2.5 million on expanding the warning siren system. I voted against both spending measures and against Mayor Cindy.

I voted against the spending measure because the roads within the city limits of Norman are fine. There is nothing wrong with them. Oklahoma City roads are far worse. I voted against expanding the warning siren system to cover the entire city way out into the boonies of Lake Thunderbird because (and this is another reason I voted against the infrastructure bond, too) while it is something that should be looked at in the future, we are in a recession and money is tight for alot of people. City government should be tightening its belt with the rest of us, not continuing the frivolous spending spree that has gone unchecked in Norman for quite a while. The area that will be served is sparsely populated and because most tornadoes stay on the ground for less than a mile, the risk of a tornado hitting and doing serious damage to many homes (as opposed to one or two or a few homes) is very small. Those who are concerned should buy emergency weather radios (which receive the same signal that the sirens receive to activate and sound an alert locally), not force the cost of government-funded sirens on a struggling population.

I voted against re-electing Cindy Rosenthal because she is a liar. She campaigned on a platform of reducing government waste and making Norman city government efficient. Throughout her time in office, she has consistently reaffirmed this mission and used as her central theme at times. Being fiscally conservative, you might wonder why I have a problem with someone who takes this platform. The reason I opposed her is because she did not follow through. That is, she said one thing while doing another. Last year, she worked to get a $50 million spending measure passed to build a new city library. While I am in favor of education, I believe in delivering education in an educated manner and what Cindy did was just stupid. Less than three miles from The University of Oklahoma, which has one of the state’s largest and best libraries by any measure (size or depth of collections, number of items, computers, resources, hours of operation, staff, etc) she wants to spend $50 million bucks to build a new library to serve the exact same population. This is a massive waste of money. In a flyer supporting the most recent two spending measures, mailed at taxpayer expense (of course) city officials forced their agenda down our throats on these two issues. The fact that these things are even allowed to happen on her watch prove that she is incompetent as a mayor.

Now, we go to the Oklahoma City mayor’s race, where homophobe and parasite Mick Cornett was – according to The Daily Oklahoman – “comfortably re-elected, with 58.3% (14,073) of the vote favoring another term. This really pissed me off because this guy is a complete louse and I cannot understand for the life of me why every queer in the city limits is not out marching in the streets right now. Well, actually I do know why the queers are not doing anything about him, but thats another topic for another day.

For those who think our pal Mick is still an all right guy, lets look at what makes him who he is, shall we?  First off, there is the disturbing little incident which no one seemed to notice except Gossip Boy (its worth noting that this news outlet is really run by a nutcase, but on occasion, even nutcases say things that are relevant and spot on, this was one of those incidents) whereby Cornett tried to pack the library board with anti-gay religious nuts. Perhaps it was an isolated incident, but a look at his connections suggests that this was no mere coincidence.

Mick is tied to organizations that are unfriendly to homosexuals. Mick is not just the mayor, he is also the Executive Vice President of Ackerman McQueen (AM), a powerhouse of an ad agency. AM manages publicity for OPUBCO, which publishes The Oklahoman, also known as America’s worst daily newspaper according to The Columbia Journalism Review. AM also manages public relations for The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. What a shock that The Oklahoman, The OKC Chamber of Commerce and Mick all just happened to come out in favor of MAPS 3. AM clients have helped further Mick’s agenda in the past before, for instance Taco Bell (which is owned by Yum Brands – whose public relations are, you guessed it, managed by AM) came out in support of Mick’s This City is Going on a Diet campaign to encourage weight loss. The diet campaign is not a bad thing for the most part, but this level of corporate involvement in politics is rarely a good thing.

MAPS3, well, now thats another matter entirely. Most people are well aware of the fact that I don’t believe in corporate welfare or the abuse of imminent domain. As such, I was mostly opposed to MAPS3, which Mick managed to pass by a narrow margin. I say “mostly opposed” because there was a small nugget of useful, responsible spending on public transportation. However, if I were an Oklahoma City voter, I would have voted against the proposal because spending a few million in a responsible manner in a spending bill that has a pricetag of $777 million and contains reprehensible amounts of pork and corporate welfare is complete and utter bullshit. Just because a  bill has one redeeming aspect does not mean it should be passed, and alot of people voted for this bill solely because of the inclusion of public transit which folks have been clamoring for over the course of many years.

Before Mick became mayor, he used to own a company called Mick Cornett Video Productions, which provided production services to the commercial and legal sectors. He has worked in the media as a reporter, anchorman and manager. He has worked in nearly every aspect of media and he knows how to spin an issue and manipulate people like a master. This is evidenced by the passage of MAPS3, which had lots of opposition, but not enough to stop it. All of these facts come down to this: Mayor Mick Cornett is as slick and as dangerous as they come. His political career needs to be terminated before he makes a run for the governor’s office and wins, bringing his special, seductive brand of homophobia and fiscal irresponsibility to the rest of the state from it’s highest office.

So is there a point to all of this, or am I just trashing Cornett? Yes, there is a point – and I am going to make now and do so directly to my fellow queers. With another four years of Cornett, as sure as the sun will rise in the morning, there will be another MAPS proposal. This time, we should be smart and make sure that we get something out of the deal. By we, I mean us queers. More than anything else, Oklahoma City needs a comprehensive queer community center that serves the needs of the queer community exclusively. That should include not only a center that provides comprehensive programing and services like Tulsa’s Oklahomans for Equality but it should also provide shelter services for homeless and struggling queer youth. You might be surprised to know how many queer youth in this city are homeless or abandoned by their family. Further, the center should provide educational services and job training.

We should must work together and send a message to Cornett that reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Cornett,

You have been re-elected. We’d rather you were not, but you are. We’re going to make the best of it, but we have a condition.

If you want to tax us further for one of your fancy little urban renewal projects, i.e. MAPS4, then you’re going to stop taking our money and spending all of it on amusements for straight rich people in Bricktown. You’re going to spend some of that money helping us, providing basic services that we need to enjoy a quality of life.

We’re tired of you taking our queer money and not providing us basic services. It amounts to taxation without representation. We’re not taking it anymore. Either play ball, or we will shoot down your next project.

Sincerely,

The Oklahoma City Queer Community

Will we rise to the occasion and come together for something that this city desperately needs? Or will we continue to be more interested in doing nothing particularly useful and playing the victim? Time will tell. Cornett’s re-election is bad for us, but we can and should turn it into something useful. Cornett is one of those people that could careless that queer youth live on our streets. As long as he gets his MAPS proposals passed, he is happy damn us all to hell. The only thing he will understand or heed is a direct promise to torpedo his proposals (and by extension, his political career) and then he will play ball.

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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.

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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.

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