Living there

I knew that the fallout from the new state constitutional ban on civil unions and same-sex marriage would take strange forms, but I didn't expect so much strangeness so soon. A recent edition of the Capital Times reported that, in the wake of the ban, LGBT rights advocates will be working to get domestic partnership benefits for UW system employees. That's not the strange part.

The strange part is the other side's response. Julaine Appling, executive director of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, told the Cap Times on Saturday that FRI would oppose any effort to use taxpayer dollars "to benefit sexual relationships outside of marriage."

Appling goes on to note, however, that FRI wouldn't stand in the way of using those dollars to support a domestic partnership that was based on simply living together rather than sexual activity. The reporter summarized Appling's position this way: "Domestic partner benefits based on living arrangements would pass muster, as long as the individuals were not sexually involved -- a domestic situation involving a grandmother, for instance, who wanted to cover her grandson under her health insurance policy."

OK, so FRI will endorse cohabitation -- even help couples get state health insurance and pensions -- as long as the partners involved don't have sex? Cool. I might be tempted to sign up, but I have a few questions for Appling first:

  • Will the state employee charged with checking on my daily behavior (let's call him "Chauncey") have to live at my house? If so, will the state be setting up some kind of subsidy program to help me remodel the attic so there's room for him? You see, the four kids my partner and I have are already using two of the bedrooms, and I have to use a third one for my home office.
  • Will Chauncey be watching only for physical intimacy, or will he also be concerned with phone sex, lustful thoughts or email? What about post-workout shoulder rubs? Will the state's concern reach as far as linge…


Friday afternoon, like so many afternoons since I've had children, all my plans were derailed by the needs of a kid. This one, whom I'll call "D," is my friend's former foster son.

D is a charming, brilliant 19-year-old, one of those smart people who never quite clicks with school. D was my friend's student at a local high school and he was staying at a group home because of problems at his mom's house. My friend took him in as a foster son and tried to give him some stability so he could focus on school.

One of the realities of foster care is that at age 18 the child "ages out" of the program. Towards his 18th birthday and this looming transition, D started getting into trouble. He stopped doing his work at school, and then he stopped going to school altogether. D entered a transitional program for foster children that helped him get an apartment and taught him some independent living skills, while requiring him to get a job that would pay at least half of his expenses. The job he got was a seasonal one and when it ended D quietly slipped out of the program and out of town.

When he came back a couple months ago, we reconnected and I started in on those mom questions: When are you getting your GED? Have you taken your driver license tests? Where are you going to live?

On Friday, D let me know why some of these questions have been so hard to answer: He'd been robbed in June and all his identification was gone -- his state ID, his birth certificate, his Social Security card. He can't get a driver license without some ID with his signature and photo. He can't get a birth certificate without his Social Security card or photo ID. But he also needs photo ID to get his Social Security card replaced. D was caught in a vicious cycle.

After tortuous and lengthy interactions with the Vital Records office down at the courthouse, D should be getting a copy of his birth certificate in a few days. Then we'll work on the photo ID and maybe he can finally move forward.

D's …


Gays on strike

I don't have a television, so I don't really keep up with these things, but apparently A&E is going to present a two-hour movie next week called "Wedding Wars: Gays on Strike." I only found this out because I was on the stair machine at my gym where TV sets overhead play shows without the sound. Some guy appeared on the screen with a sign that said, "Gays on strike!" and of course I had to Google this when I got home.

John Stamos will play a gay wedding planner (that is, he's gay; the weddings aren't) whose brother is marrying the daughter of the governor. The governor makes an anti-gay speech and Stamos' character refuses to continue volunteering his professional wedding-planning services for his brother's big day. His little action provokes a national strike. Just guessing from here: Wacky hijinks ensue. Wrists are flapped and bridesmaids' hair is mangled, but eventually a bouquet gets tossed, I'm sure, and I'd put money on Stamos' on-screen gay partner catching it.

I'm ticked, because this was my idea and somehow those crafty TV executives ripped me off and made a movie before I even got the Sharpies out for my storyboard. Damn their access to quick capital!

But seriously, the night of the November elections, as my partner and I sat in front of the computer watching the results roll in from around the country and crying in our drinks, we did threaten to strike. We shouted at the CNN site as every contested state but Arizona bent to bigotry and voted to outlaw same-sex marriage and civil unions. "Oh, yeah? Oh, yeah? I got two words for you, Ms. Family Research Institute: gym teachers! Gym teachers! What if all the female gym teachers refused to show up for work tomorrow?"

We got out paper and pen and made a list of whole industries and service sectors that would simply collapse if gays decided to go on strike:

  • Floral design
  • Hairdressing
  • Restaurant service
  • Ballroom dancing instruction
  • High school gym class
  • Graphic design
  • B…