Amendment One: The Morning After


This morning as I woke up and put my plan in place to get some work done and visit my son in the hospital, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Since I moved to NC I have often be proud of the state, but last night was not one of them.  I will never understand why we had to go over and beyond what was already illegal.  Gay marriage was already illegal according to the state constitution.  Why did we have to go over and beyond that.  Is there that much hatred towards our gay brothers and sisters, that we had to go so far to discriminate against them?  Is the hatred so much that we needed to harm straight couples who don’t believe in marriage, or weaken protections for victims of domestic violence who aren’t married, or potentially harm children of unmarried couples.

That is what makes this so hard for me.  The state didn’t just further prevent gay marriage, instead it stripped the rights of tens of hundreds of people and children in the state.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like for any of those impacted to wake up this morning and know that over 1 million people in their home state voted against them and their rights.  How do we explain to our children that hatred won out?  How can we expect our future generations to not be driven by hate, if we can’t lead by example.  North Carolina had another chance to lead the south by example, only this time we failed.  I hope every couple gay and straight, and their children will take solace in the fact that over 800,000 people stood with them, and that they do have support here.  I hope that those same couples who live in other states, who once considered moving here, will not be discouraged and change their minds, and realize that there are people here who will stand and fight with them.  I hope that the coalition of people who stood together to fight this hateful amendment will continue to work together to keep the fight going, and show those impacted that we love and support them and will stand with them to the end.

The quote that I live my life by forbids me from believing that hate will win out in the end.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why I oppose Amendment One


I know it has been a long while since I wrote a post.  My last post gave some insight to what is going on in my life that has kept me from blogging.  However, as I sit here this morning trying to mentally prepare for my son to have his sixth surgery in under six months, I believe this is an issue that I must write about.

While I know that this amendment is about more than gay marriage, despite what supporters want you to think.  That is what I want to focus on.  I can’t bring myself to believe that supporters of this amendment really want to prevent children from healthcare, or protect people from domestic violence, or discriminate against their straight brothers and sisters who believe in relationships not defined by marriage. Instead, this amendment is rooted in hatred of people who love differently from what society deems as normal.

I was raised in what most Christians would say was a good Christian home.  My parents were loving parents who were fundamental Baptists and took the King James Version as the only true Bible.  The churches we attended were always very conservative in their politics and anything that strayed from the teachings of the Bible were not looked at favorably.  One result of that was being raised in a very homophobic environment.  Until I went to college, I never had any real interactions with the gay community.  My only view on the situation was that they were sinners destined for hell unless they changed their immoral lifestyles.

It wasn’t until college, when I made friends with people who were not anti-gay, and friends with people who were gay, that my view began to change.  I started to see that they were no different from me other than who they chose to love. The big lesson I learned though, was that I had no reason to hate them, and that who they loved had no impact on who I wanted to love.  My love for my girlfriend was in no way diminished by their love.  One friend in particular, Jason Willis, was very passionate with his boyfriend at the time, and that passion was no different from the passion I wanted in my relationship.  Other than the fact the he was with a man and I wanted to be with a woman, we were no different.  Those nights of hanging with him and his significant other and our mutual friend Terica West changed my perspective on the whole situation.

Fast forward to today.  I am married with three children and in no way feel threatened by gay marriage.  Even if this amendment was only about gay marriage (which it isn’t), I would still oppose it.  My marriage is in no way threatened by gay marriage, I don’t believe the sanctity of my marriage changes one bit.

Even though I do not attend church on a regular basis, I still am a Christian.  I don’t understand how my other Christian brothers and sisters who speak about loving their neighbor as themselves, or who talk about the love Jesus showed for everyone, could support this.  I will not believe for one second that Jesus’ message of love included stripping the rights of people we are supposed to love.  How can people see the love of Christ in us when we want to take away their rights and attack them for who they love.  I don’t think we can.  And I don’t think one can preach about the love of Christ, while demonstrating hate at the same time.

This is simply about love versus hate.  I for one stand for love and hope that others including my fellow Christians will stand for love. If we truly want to carry out the love of Jesus, we can’t vote for hate.

What is the most Predatory type of lending?


Yesterday, my coworker and I got into a discussion about what we thought the most predatory type of lending was.  We never came to a solid list, but thought it would be interesting to find out what people thought.  So here is our unscientific poll to find out what people think is the worst type of lending.  Please vote and share with others.

New life brings joy and challenges


For people who regularly read this blog for BBQ and Politics information, you may have noticed a lack of recent posts.  I apologize for the lack of posts and want to update everyone on the reason for this.

On November 14 at 8:30 am, my wife and I welcomed our third child and first son into this world. This joyous occasion was also accompanied by a lot of grief and stress.  Aaron was born with a rare heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, basically this is when the left side of the heart never fully develops and does not work.  The right side of the heart has to do all the work and if left untreated would fail ending the baby’s life.  Many parents do not know of this diagnosis until after the baby is born and they see certain symptoms.  We were lucky enough to where our doctors discovered this condition back in June and so we were able to take months to prepare for everything, and the doctors could have a treatment plan in place.

To treat this condition, there is a series of 3 surgeries done over the first 18 months of the baby’s life.  These surgeries restructure the heart to take pressure off of the right side and allow the heart to function as close to normal as possible.  As with any open heart surgeries, there are risks.  These risks are heightened when operating on a beating heart the size of a strawberry.

When Aaron was first-born, he had to have an emergency procedure done to relieve some pressure from his lungs.  A complication of his condition, had caused some pressure on the lungs making them not be at 100% at the time of his birth.  Aaron has been progressing nicely, and could soon be out of the ICU.  He still has ways to go before coming home, but considering everything he is doing well.

So that is what I have been focusing my attention on over the last month and not work or BBQ or politics.  Today is my first day back at work, and I will slowly get back in the swing of things about what is happening with our country.  Slowly regular posts will begin to show up.  I will also post some updates on my lil man as well.

What Congress Should Learn from OWS


This post written by me was orginally posted on Policymic and No Labels

 

Occupy Wall Street has taken off. The movement is quickly spreading across the world, with new Occupy movement surfacing seemingly daily. The movement is not without its critics, who point to the vast number of messages coming out of the protests as a sign the movement does not have a singular voice.

While there may be many messages out there from the participants, it is not hard to find some central themes from the movement. Not just Wall Street needs to be listening. Congress can and should learn a lot from the Occupy movement, using the protests as a motivation to end our partisan gridlock and do what is best for the country.

Neither Congress nor Wall Street is innocent when it comes to causes of the current crisis, and because of this, neither has been good at finding solutions. The OWS movement has come clear asks, listed on their website as a series of complaints against the industry.

Here are a couple that Congress should pay particular attention to: stop illegal foreclosures; no more bank bailouts; and create jobs.

All of these have direct links to actions that Congress can take. People are angry that despite the robo-signing scandal, big banks are still trying to foreclose on homes with fraudulent paperwork and/or without being able to produce the note. Congress can pass legislation making this illegal, which would force banks to clean up their paperwork. The robo-signing scandal has banks like Bank of America facing lawsuits that could cripple them.

This leads to another ask of the movement, no more bank bailouts. Congress should listen, stop fighting the provisions in the Dodd/Frank Act that stop too big to fail, and provide a path to winding a bank down instead of bailing banks out.

The biggest grievance of the movement and every other American is creating jobs. Neither side can agree on how to create jobs, but everyone in Congress should take the growing anger as a sign to put aside partisanship and get some legislation passed. Getting people back to work is the single most important demand. Jobs can help homeowners pay their mortgage and avoid foreclosure, help recent grads pay their student loans, can get people spending money to boost the economy, and can create a bigger tax base to generate more tax revenue.

To me, the message is pretty clear: People are clearly angry by the direction of this country. Even though the brunt of the anger is being directed at Wall Street, Congress is not shielded. The messages should not only be heard by the big banks on Wall Street, but also through the halls of Congress. There are specific asks that Congress can act on, and they should listen carefully to the occupiers. Both Congress and OWS are made up of varying people with different mindsets, yet OWS protesters have managed to find a way to work together.

Here is to hoping that Congress is not only listening, but learning from OWS on how to work together, so they can end the gridlock and do what is best for the country.

Uncle Yammy’s Grillin Sauce (original)


We were out of BBQ sauce, and my wife wanted some BBQ chicken. Typically, I have some of my own sauce in the house, but all  we had left was the fire version and that isn’t exactly family friendly.  So off to the store I went.  This was the perfect chance for me to act on my decision to no longer buy traditional brand sauce at the store.  I want to specifically buy sauce made here in NC, as a way to promote local sauce makers.

This time I chose Uncle Yammy’s Grilling Sauce.  The only one in the Food Lion I was at was the original recipe, they have others listed on their site.  The label indicates that it is “sweet with a little bite”.  That is a good description of what this sauce brings to the table.  It is sweet, but not too sweet  but there is a slight bite that kicks in just as you think it is all about the sweet.  Everyone seemed to like it and, it did add a nice touch to the chicken.

If you want to learn more about them check out their website, www.uncleyammys.com.  It originated in Greenville, NC and I recommend trying this sauce.

Why Obama’s refinance plan is still missing the point


Yesterday, President Obama announced that he used an executive order to revamp the rules for the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The hope is to make it easier for struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgage and take advantage of historic low interest rates.  The new rules include allowing homeowners who owe more than 125% of the value of their home to refinance their homes as long as they are current on their mortgage. The process is also supposed to be streamlined and eliminating some of the fees. White House officials estimate these new changes will help 1 million homeowners (14 million are underwater) get some relief.

Forgive me if I sound skeptical.  The last time the administration announced a refinance plan, they estimated 5 million people would be helped. So far, less than one million have been through the program. Once again there is a lack of standing up to the banks.  The only loans that qualify for the program are those held by Fannie and Freddie.  The reason why the initial version of this plan and other plans to confront the crisis have failed, is because they lack any real pressure on the banks.

I am sure a decent number of homeowners will get relief from this move, but the impact on the crisis will be minimal.  These loans are not the ones hurting the housing market, since they aren’t sitting empty or for sale.  These are homeowners who while underwater are still current on their mortgage and not in danger of facing foreclosure.  The administration has said this will be the first in a series of moves, but once again I will not be holding my breath.

Until the President and Congress are willing to stand up to the banks, hold banks accountable, and force them to  help fix the crisis, any program will have minimal impact.  We can’t continue to use a spray bottle on a wild fire when it comes to finding solutions.  Until someone is willing to stand up to the banks that is all we will be doing.