Saturday, October 18, 2014

Accepted violence at animal non-profits

We all have our favorite animal non-profit. Whether that is our local pound or a far-away animal sanctuary whose work we love and respect, most of us financially support groups that are helping animals in some way.

In Colorado we have a variety of such groups. They are a diverse lot, many companion animal groups saving the lives of mostly dogs and cats, some with huge operations and smaller ones with all volunteer fosters. I have worked with and/or fostered animals for many of these groups. I love that there are so many organizations here working to end animal cruelty and working to support companion animals who have been abused.

As a side note, the first time I met a cow, and fell in love with pigs, was at a sanctuary here in Colorado, one that is no longer around. I remember loving on the cow and being a little surprised about how big she was. And strong. And how much she loved it when I scratched her neck.

So many organizations. So many wonderful people working against animal cruelty.

Several months ago an activist friend of mine asked me if I would help with asking a local animal shelter to stop serving meet at their fundraising dinners. It is a fundamental problem that I have always thought about: Why do I have to order a vegan-specific meal at a fundraiser for a group whose mission is to end violence towards animals and to love and support animals? My point being that, in my head, all of these groups would of course be serving only vegan meals at their fundraisers.

I passed on helping for the same reason that I have passed on other actions: time. I have never in my life felt as crazy busy as I feel now. It has a lot to do with my day job, a job I am hugely passionate about, but nonetheless I simply do not have time to jump onto another campaign.

And I haven't stopped thinking about it.

I haven't stopped thinking that those of us who support animal liberation, who want to end cruelty to all animals, who cannot deep inside of ourselves pick and choose which animals to fight for and which ones to not fight for, can make our voices heard via a simple request: please make your fundraising events all vegan.

Any hotel catering manager will tell you that there has been a surge in requests for vegan and vegetarian meals. I have noticed that when people see my vegan dish delivered to the table at an event they decide they want the vegan dish. You see, these days, many hotels and banquet spots have been rocking at vegan meals. It's because we have been asking for better.

I have actually been at a big dinner or lunch and asked for a second plate because my meal was so delicious. The days of pasta with some cold veggies on top as the vegan choice are over. If they are not over where you last ate for one of these meetings/conferences, remind them that we are living in the 21st century, a time when there are a zillion delicious vegan options.

It's time to stop perpetuating violence and supporting violence against animals within the same community that is supposed to be helping animals.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't forget what the bigots did.

What an amazing week!

Watching gay couples get married in Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia, Nevada. Legal marriage is now in a majority of the states. I wept as I watched couples who had been together 20, 30 years finally being allowed to legally marry.

Of course many are not happy. As I write, the state of South Carolina is doing everything they can to not allow gays to marry.

And as hundreds of couples marry around the country, I ask each of you to not forget.

Please don't forget the bigots and the religious extremists. Please don't forget those who used every waking breathe to keep marriage from us.

Please don't forget those who had the power to simply say yes, or vote yes, and instead said or voted no.

Please don't forget those who demonized us, and continue to demonize us.

Which brings me to my point.

Many of these same people are running for election or re-election across the country. Some of them want people to forget their horrible words and votes against gays and lesbians. Some of them think they will get more votes by demonizing us.

Don't let them do it. Don't let them win.

We have the power. It's called the vote.

Vote. Make sure they know we haven't forgotten. Make sure we speak with a loud voice.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The JeffCo School Board fiasco Part III

This is Part III of a series of posts I am writing about our county school board.

As schools closed and students began walking out in protest of a proposed curriculum committee, all of a sudden Jefferson County Public Schools was in the news across the country.

The curriculum committee would be a form of censorship.

The board is not transparent.

The student's walking out of class are pawns of their teachers and the ever-powerful union.

Students are being manipulated.

This is all really about the teacher's union.

There are certainly no shortage of opinions. Those who have always supported public schools are voicing their opinion. Those who have always disliked teacher unions are voicing theirs.

Some are going hard core. Ross Kaminsky, an apparent conservative who does not care for teacher unions, wrote this in a recent note to our local paper: "But truth is the first casualty of war, and so it was in Jefferson County as the unions implemented their plan to use students as human shields while assailing the school board with misinformation." This was in response to a part of his note in which he wrote that the school board was really fighting censorship.

The student human shields have a lot at stake. Pawns as they might be, AP History is important to them as they can get college credit for it. (I am still learning more about AP topics so will write more in another post.)

As I watched students leaving class in protest and listened to the nationwide name calling against students in JeffCo schools, some coming from our own school board members, my first thought was that all of these name callers have never met a teenager. Pawn? Easily manipulated? Seriously?

Those who support our "reformist" school board say it's all about the money. And union power. My challenges about our new board have indeed included issues about the money. The $80,000 for an additional lawyer just for the three "reformist" board members. The huge increase in pay for the new school superintendent, especially when so many conservatives complained about the pay of our former school superintendent. $300,000 for a charter school that is struggling and money had not helped before.

And one of the semi-funny issues is the pay of the new superintendent. I listened to many folks complaining about how much our past superintendent was paid. These folks are supportive of our current board majority. Yet I didn't hear any complaining when the new superintendent was hired at a salary of about $80,000 more than the past one. 

As the new superintendent said this week, "the past week has been quiet". Indeed it has. I'm curious to see what the next steps are. I'm also looking forward to our local elections to see if tea party candidates are affected in JeffCo based on the support of the board majority. I want to see if more people start voting based on what the board is doing.  

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chipping away at bigotry

Tony London and Tim Bostic check their marriage license out. Photo from the Virginian Pilot.

You might have heard about a US Supreme Court decision this morning. The Court decided not hear gay marriage cases, which means marriage equality has now come to a handful of additional states and perhaps even more. Before the news had gotten around, couple were getting ready to get married in Virginia. By the time I had a chance to get to my blog site, many couples had married in Virginia and even in Colorado, which has been indirectly affected by the ruling as we are one of the states that is part of the US Court of Appeals for the 10th District, which lifted its stay on marriages right after the ruling.

Whew! I apologize for the run-on sentence. This is an incredible day to me. It has honestly been difficult to not shed tears. Of joy, of course.


This morning Colorado's Attorney General told all 64 county clerks to get ready to issue licenses. As of right now, two counties have begun. They decided not to wait.

All of the marriages that occurred in Utah last year but then held up until a Supreme Court ruling are now legal.

The plaintiffs in the Virginia case married in Norfolk just a couple of hours ago. They were the first to marry in Norfolk, my home town.

I am ecstatic.

Yet marriage equality is not law in every state. This was not a ruling making equality the law of the land. Many still cannot marry. Yet.

So please keep speaking out for marriage equality. Please keep fighting against bigotry, in any and every form.

Those who hate gay people and those who are against marriage equality won't stop fighting. Nor can we.

With elections coming up it is especially important to vote for candidates who support equal right and equal marriage. Vote!

Now it's time to go celebrate with Mike.

Thanks for reading.