Shower Curtain Chronicles: April 2007

Shower Curtain Chronicles

Latex painted shower curtains make great, cheap, waterproof banners to display at demonstrations, over freeways or anyplace you want to take it to the anti-gay, anti-Constitution fascists. This blog will feature banners I've made over the years, commentary on the outrages du jour, general observations and accounts of the latest actions by our blog troop as we wield the bathroom accessory cum political billboard.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Tuesday, House Meets 10:00; Senate 11:00

I'm there at 9:30 and 10:30.

Today At The Capitol

I got some nice words of encouragement from Representative, Linda Slocum today while I was in front of the House, sporting a new shower curtain that reads, "SAME-SEX, SAME RIGHTS". She smiled and said, "Keep it up," as she passed by.
Another comment came from a Capitol worker who said of the new slogan, "Makes sense." The slogan wasn't my creation. A friend told me he saw it on a bumper sticker so, I stole it. I don't think the author would take offense at my use of his/her creation.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Monday, House Meets 12:30; Senate 1:00

There at Noon and 12:30.

Courageous Kid

Here's a view of University Avenue, looking west from the Capitol. Imagine the future light rail line running down the's coming.
"I support you." That was what one young girl said to me from amidst her class as they passed by me on the Senate stairs at the Capitol yesterday. It's got to take a lot of courage to speak up and open yourself up to ridicule from others in your class like that. I suppose it's possible that things have changed so much that it doesn't take a lot of courage, these days, to do what she did, but I think it does.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Are you gay?"

If I'd set up a moment later this morning, I would have missed DFL Senator, Jim Metzen, the Senate President, dancing for lobbyists at the top of the Senate stairs. Things must be going well.
Later, a school group made their way by (maybe third graders), and one boy asked, not accusatory but inquisitively, "Are you gay?" I said, "Yup." Another boy said, "You are?!" "Yes," I said. Then a few of them started running down the stairs. After while, some from the group came back to politely ask if they could take my picture. "Sure," I said. Then, their teacher shagged them back down the stairs, but not before they got their pictures.


Friday, House Meets 9:00; Senate 10:00

I'll be there at 8:30 and 9:30.

"What does the sign say?"

On Wednesday, shortly after I got set up in front of the Senate the House chaplain came smiling up the stairs toward me while unfolding a piece of paper. From previous experience I sensed this was a prayer he'd written that included something of interest to me...and I was right. He told me that he was substituting for the Senate chaplain and pointed out that his prayer included a reference to the children, spouses and "partners" of (I think) Senators. I said to him, "You're getting bolder. I like it." He seemed excited as he left to go into the chamber. I watched him deliver his invocation on the television set up near the Senate entrance. Later, when I was in front of the House, he came up to me all smiley like a kid that had just pulled off a prank. I told him I saw his prayer on television. He said he didn't think "some of them" would like his inclusion of partners very much. I told him I didn't think anybody would bother him.
There was a high school group from the Marshall area that hustled up the Senate stairs as one tall, kind of burly girl approached and shook my hand, then hugged me, thanking me for being there. She was great.
Many groups of Head Start kids were at the Capitol as well. The little peanuts were everywhere. One group, each little one clinging to the hand of their adult guides, laboriously climbed the Senate stairs. As the last one passed, he said to the man whose hand he was holding, "What does the sign say?" (It was "Gay Marriage Is Good Marriage...") The man said, "Do you really want me to tell ya? I'll tell ya." We both laughed as they turned the corner. I don't know if he told him or not.
While I was in front of the House, a little boy holding the hand of an older woman passed by, looking up at the huge, nude paintings on the walls of the rotunda. He jerked the woman's hand and exclaimed, "Hey, wait Gramma!" Transfixed on the paintings, he dragged her into the rotunda as she smiled rather sheepishly.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thursday, House Meets 9:00; Senate 10:00

I'll be there at 8:30 and 9:30.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wednesday, Senate Meets 11:00; House Noon

I'll be there at 10:30 and 12:30.

Hey! You can't park there!

An antique car group took over the Capitol lawn today with their vintage vehicles. It was a trip down memory lane for me. I saw a '48 Chevy and the dash board sparked memories from my childhood. It was our first family car that I can remember.
Well, it was the first day with a new shower curtain I finished last night. It reads, "GAY MARRIAGE IS GOOD MARRIAGE. MAKE IT LEGAL." I know, I've seen better, too. One senator wondered just how many signs I have. I told her I bring a half dozen or so with me because..."I never know what mood I'll be in." It would have been nice if I'd explained it in a way that didn't make me sound so crazy, like, "I like to have a selection with me so I can decide which one to use when I get here." But, no. "Watch out! I have no control over my emotions!"
People were touching me today, first a security guy and then two senators. It was nice.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The Best Thing That Happened Today

There was a busload of high school kids from Lake of the Woods at the Capitol today. That's a long haul. Anyway, they were having a group picture taken on the lower part of the Senate stairs when a number of girls from the group came up to the top where I was protesting and asked if they could have their picture taken with me. Delighted, I said yes and asked them if they would like to hold the banner. They did, and were all standing behind the banner with me posing for pictures being taken by a couple of boys with several cameras. I only wish I had asked them to take one with my camera so I could post it here. Afterwords, one of the Capitol security guys came up and said, "You've become quite a celebrity." I sure felt like one. They were great. I gave them all Marriage Equality stickers as a souvenir.


Coffee Talk

I'm at Dunn Bros on my way to today's Capitol blogging and recalling an interesting conversation I had with an unnamed gay lobbyist in the locker room at the Y this morning. It appears there's been a lose of appetite for gay bashing among some at the legislature. Reportedly, there are some prominent Republican legislators who are refusing to sign on to a ludicrous attempt by Senator, Warren Limmer (Michele Bachmann in drag) to resurrect the anti-gay marriage amendment. This includes former sponsors.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Monday, Senate Meets 11:00 AM; House 1:00 PM

I'll be there at 10:30 and 12:30.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm A TV Star...Again!

This morning KSTP TV, again, ran a sound byte they got from me at the Capitol a few weeks ago saying roughly, that it's not fair that same-sex couples don't have the same rights and responsibilities as different-sex couples. A few people came up and mentioned seeing it while I was protesting at the Capitol this morning including a state trooper. He told me that when a security person gets caught in the camera shot that that person has to bring donuts for the others and apparently one of them was in the background of my piece. I didn't understand what he meant at first and volunteered to bring the donuts myself. I might do it anyway, they're a good bunch.
The only opposing viewpoint aired, as with the previous time, was from Senator, Warren Limmer talking about how these gay-friendly measures before the legislature this session will lead to gay marriage. He's a pleasant enough guy and I am inclined to want to be friendly to him, but then I remember the fact that he is trying to prohibit people from seeing their spouse in the hospital. How devoid of humanity does one have to be in order to take such a position?
Anyway, I think television exposure like this enhances the credibility of my protest. In fact, since that television spot, I'm absolutely sure that those SEVENTEEN House Democrats that VOTED AGAINST DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS FOR STATE WORKERS yesterday, will see the error of their ways and now insist on making same-sex marriage legal in the state of Minnesota. Un-fucking-believable. The domestic partner benefits still passed because, thankfully, there were enough human beings voting.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lobby Day 2007

Some old friends in town for queer Lobby Day at the Capitol joined me in front of the Senate this morning. That's Mike Johnson(left) and Pete Golden proudly boosting the shower curtain. Thanks guys! After the Senate closed it's doors, we sped off to the local Caribou for a coffee break before the big rally.
I brought about seventy stickers with me today and handed out every one of them, including the one stuck on my shirt. Wish I had made more!
Many supportive legislators appeared on the dais at the rally including, first term Sen. Jim Carlson(told ya he was one of the good guys), and some others I was unaware of as queer supporters but it was great to see them up there. It was a good, concise program, with a turnout similar to past rallies.
And, of course, the nuts were on the periphery praying "for" us, but we're all still alive anyway.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"I'm Glad You're Here"

Just a note from yesterday's House blogging. DFL Representative, Carlos Mariani of St. Paul stopped by on his way to the chamber after attending the DFL causus. He smiled and said, "I'm glad you're here." I thanked him. I'm glad YOU'RE here too, Representative Mariani!


Some Unexpected Help This Morning

Local artist, Steve Clark, pictured here with Senator, Scott Dibble, made his way up the Senate stairs this morning looking for a gay-friendly petition to sign, but instead found himself recruited into the Shower Curtain Brigade. He had received an email announcing a petition signing event on the Capitol steps but none was there, which contributed to a 100% increase in participation in my protest. Thank you, Steve! And, Steve has expressed an interest in further participation. Incidentally, Senator, Dibble is not really eight feet tall, Steve is just standing one stair down.
I'm at Black Dog again, waiting for the House to convene at 1:00. Tomorrow is the big Outfront rally. I'll be doing my usual bit but I'll have a lot more stickers to hand out.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Senate Meets 9:00, Wed.; No Word On House Yet

"And, I'm Gay"

This post is coming from the Black Dog Cafe in Lowertown, St. Paul while I'm between floor sessions.
A woman from Bemidji with Elvis hair and a red pullover sweater approached me this morning in front of the Senate asking if there was "something going on with this (marriage equality) in this room (the Senate chamber) today." I said, "No," and explained that this was the Senate chamber and that some related legislation might be taking place but I don't know. I didn't tell her this but, I really don't keep careful track of the three or four bills that are in play this session because regardless of their fate I will keep doing what I'm doing. I'd sure like to see those bills pass, but my mission is different. I'm the only one pushing equal marriage rights and I try to stay on message. She also wanted to know how to get to the gallery but didn't seem to want to trudge up the stairs to the fourth floor.
As we talked, I found out that she's at the Capitol with the ACLU to lobby for, among other things, those domestic partner benefits bills, then she declared, "And, I'm gay." She admired my "Marriage Equality" sticker so I gave her one and pointed out the blog address. She was amused at the connection of Shower Curtain Chronicles to the shower curtain banners. Before she left, she thanked me for protesting and I returned the gratitude for her work. What a break to get somebody so nice for the first encounter of the day. I pointed her toward the elevator.
Senator, Linda Higgins had popped into the conversation on her way through, wondering if holding the shower curtain was good for my muscles. "Actually, I think it is, even though it's pretty light" I told her. Then she tested it herself, and she was off. Later, DFL Senator, Patricia Torres Ray(left) stopped on her way up the stairs saying that she hoped the media would cover my protest because I'd been so persistent. She congratulated me and I thanked her, then she was off into the chamber.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Senate Meets At 9:00; House At Noon, Tuesday

There at 8:30 and 11:30.

Interesting Monday At The Capitol

I made both the Senate and House today but I got too busy over the weekend to announce today's floor sessions beforehand. Oh well, I trust nobody was inconvenienced.
"GAY FAMILIES DESERVE AND DEMAND EQUALITY" was the shower curtain du jour and the first person to cross it's path in front of the Senate was a lady who said twice, "Yes they do." She said it halfway up the stairs and then again when she got to the top. Nice lady.
Next, a group of school kids about ten or eleven years old wearing "St. Thomas" monogrammed sweatshirts, being led by a docent, passed by while carefully reading the sign. A girl read it out loud and then pumped her fists and exclaimed, "Alright!" A boy, thin with dark messy hair and taller than the rest of his class, the only boy carrying a shopping bag, seemed delighted and sort of mesmerized by the sign. He read it out loud a couple of times moving backwards, seeking the support of the bannister and then repeated what the girl had said, all the time looking at the sign and moving sideways down the stairs with his back against the railing. Alright then.
And, a troublesome comment from DFL Senator Rod Skoe as he hustled by this morning, saying, "I'm not sure the words 'AND DEMAND' add anything to your sign." It was clear he thought use of the word "demand" was just too pushy. Well, I guess "demanding" equal treatment for our families from the government we pay taxes to and our gay military people fight and die for is just too uppity for Senator Skoe. I guess we should just whine about our second class citizenship and hope the aristocrats will pity us and throw us a bone if they feel like it. Well, FUCK THAT SHIT! WE DEMAND OUR FUCKING CIVIL RIGHTS!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bye Bye Snowman

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday The Thirteenth At The Capitol

My first encounter today was with Senator Linda Higgins. I got there a little early so there was really nobody around when I noticed her scurrying out of the door that leads to Senate offices. She stopped before starting down the stairs and said "It's just so heartwarming to see you here every day." I told her I was glad and that "Well at least I'm doing some good then." She responded by saying my being there is a very good thing. She also commented that the atmosphere at the Capitol has changed greatly this session, meaning as a result of the new DFL majorities. I agreed.
Shortly after that, there was a small group of people, some young, some older staring up from the bottom of the stairs at the "LET ME MARRY MY PARTNER..." banner and talking to each other for several moments. Then, slowly making their way up the stairs some turned to wished me luck and I thanked them. The last one in the group, a short, chubby woman with short gray hair, dressed in stretch slacks and a purple cardigan sweater stopped and smiled at me. She wished me luck, then a wistful look, the kind older people get when they remember something long passed, crossed her round, weathered face. She told me that many years ago her uncle in Oklahoma, who was Native American, had to leave the state in order to marry his white girlfriend. She shook her head and said, "The world has to change," nodding to my sign. With another smile and wish of good luck, she finished her climb and moved on with her group.
Later, a very handsome young man I had previously barely noticed...really, approached from the east. He wanted to verify that I was a proponent of gay marriage and said that he had with him a female visitor from Mexico who is a marriage equality advocate and that she would like to take my picture. He politely asked if I would mind. "Of course not," I said, "go right ahead" . He signaled the overcoated young dark-haired woman with braces on her teeth who then positioned herself on the opposite side of the staircase, camera in hand. There were problems with the flash which left me standing there uncomfortably for some time with my best "Welcome to our country" smile frozen on my face. After the flash, she came over and we briefly discussed the recent advances in Mexico such as, civil unions in the state of Coahuila and Mexico City. She acknowledged that there is a movement to expand those rights to other areas of Mexico. I welcomed her and wished her a pleasant visit as she and the young man left.
More later.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Want My Hospital Visitation Rights Dammit

I ran into Outfront lobbyist, C. Scott Cooper today in front of the House. He informed me that the Hospital Visitation bill was getting a committee hearing at 3:00 in room 112 and urged me to go. I stopped by the hearing room after I was done at the House but it was crowded with suits and cameras and people were jammed into the doorway so I decided to split. I'm sure Outfront had their testimony all lined up anyway.

I asked C. Scott if the bill carried any mechanism for validating a relationship such as a registry, but he said it didn't. Straight couples aren't required to prove that they're married when they want to be with their spouse in the hospital and neither should we.

One guy in a suit who was playing with his cell phone walked by while I was blogging the House and said, "I'm glad you're here." I'm not sure why he was glad, but I didn't ask him...I just thanked him and resumed staring at the walls.

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Senate Meets Friday At 11:00; House ?

Today I'm skipping the Senate but I'll be at the House at 2:30. I'll be at the Senate at 10:30 tomorrow, Friday. If the House meets at 3:00 Friday, I wont' be at the House. If the chambers meet four hours apart like this I'll just alternate between the two chambers. One trip to the Capitol per day is enough.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One Of The Good Guys

Senator, Jim Carlson marched up the Senate stairs this morning and instead of his usual cheerful acknowledgement, he stopped to pose a question. He leaned in and whispered, "Quick! How many businesses provide domestic partner benefits?" "You mean nationally," I asked. "No, in the state," he answered. "I don't know," I responded. "172... I'm writing a letter," Carlson said. Assuming he meant that he was writing a letter to the editor supporting the domestic partner benefits bill, I said, "Thanks," and he was off into the chamber. I don't know much about Senator Carlson. I just figured out who the "friendly guy" (as I think of him) was a few days ago. If I checked his voting record, I'm guessing it would come up pretty positive.


Washington State To Get Partner Registry

I'm at Dunn Bros. on University and 280 right now, waiting to go blog the Capitol. I'm across the street from Hubbard Broadcasting (KSTP TV, radio, etc.). The Hubbards are the largest contributor of money to the Republican party in Minnesota. I think it's interesting when those responsible for providing the citizenry with the unbiased information they need to make important civic decisions hold such a "distinction."
365 Gay has a fresh story this morning reporting that the Washington state legislature has now passed a "domestic partner registry" bill that will be signed by the Democratic governor. Yay! It's not even marriage light; it's civil union light. It's not even "back of the bus;" it's the running boards, but at least it's some needed positive movement and more than we're likely to see in Minnesota anytime soon with that fascist prick in the governor's office.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Senate Meets 11:00 Wed./Thur.; House 3:00

That's just too big a spread for me. I'll be at the Senate at 10:30 but I won't be at the House tomorrow. Thursday, I'll not be at the Senate but I'll be at the House at 2:30. One chamber per day is enough to make my point.

"It Was Nice"

Senator Jungbauer told me on the Senate stairs this morning that he read my blog post about our conversation and that he was now getting heat from his supporters because of it. He says they are concerned that he is changing his position to which he responded that it's important to be able to talk to people. I said I thought the post was a fair account of our conversation and asked him what he thought. He agreed that it was fair and said, "It was nice," and thanked me. I was wondering when he would get around to reading it.
The House still hadn't been gavelled into session a half hour later than its advertised meeting time, so I left anyway.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Senate Meets Tues. 4/10 At 11:00 AM; House Noon

I'll start at 10:30 with the new "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man" shower curtain. Other Marriage Equality signs are available for you. Please join me.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Why We're In The Mess We're In

Six years later we are still suffering the manifestations (illegal war, torture of innocent people, pilfered national treasury, massive illegal spying on citizens, shredded Bill Of Rights, destroyed international image, etc...) of an unprecedented stolen election. I'll never forget it. On December 12, 2000, five treasonous bastards on the U.S. Supreme Court stopped a presidential election vote count so they could install their boy, the election's loser. What a humiliating disgrace for our country to let this happen.
We were using the above-pictured shower curtain over freeways during the first term of the junta. And, of course as we all now know, the 2004 election was stolen too, making the second term as illegitimate as the first. We used other signs relevant to the second term. Why hold up signs? Just to tell the truth to the public - truth that was being ignored, and is STILL being ignored or lied about by nearly every media source, corporate or PUBLIC.
After the 2006 election when we thought that with a Democratic majority in Congress we finally had a chance to enforce our Constitution and restore our national dignity, the Democrats have announced, "Impeachment is off the table." Un-fucking-believable. The impeachment of Cheney/Bush should begin immediately and those five treasonous "justices" (including Rehnquist) who overthrew our government should be impeached and tried for treason along with them.


Friday, April 06, 2007

"We Hispanics Are Against You!"

I didn't come up with this one. Duane and I actually saw it on the yard marquis of a church near Milwaukee while traveling a couple of years ago and wrote it down. I don't remember the church's denomination.
This one has gotten a couple of uses on the sidewalk at St. Paul's Cathedral when that controversy arose about the queer Catholics being denied communion. I remember that we showed up for Sunday morning mass to protest on the sidewalk opposite the church near the Arch Diocese. We were there just long enough to catch the gathering flock on their way in and after the last stragglers raced up the steps, we went out to breakfast. Later, we returned to "shock" the Noon mass arrivals. We did not expect to see the gay Catholic group protesting on the steps of the cathedral but there they were. When they finished some of them came over to see who we were and thank us for the unexpected support.
The reception we got from passersby, was generally positive, including the public and parishioners, however, there's always one particularly negative encounter that stands out in memory. A scraggly old fart in a beat up green Buick slowly turned the corner onto Selby and bellowed out his window in a Latin accent, "We Hispanics are against you!" I'm sure all "Hispanics" everywhere are just so pleased to have this man speaking on their behalf.
Oh, and on one other occasion when we brought this shower curtain to the Cathedral, a woman parishioner came up from behind us and proceeded to spew every bit of anti-gay nonsense she could think of. After realizing there was no point in arguing with her, I just told her to piss off. She then launched into her best rendition of a sidewalk exorcism, aimed directly at me. I felt like the audience volunteer for a magician. We continued giggling long after she was gone. After all, it was my first time.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Jungbauer Revisited

I'm always a bit embarrassed to read the report on my conversation with Senator Jungbauer and my exuberant declaration that "conservative Christian does not necessarily translate into closed minded." The recent Eleventh Avenue South article about my Capitol activities reminded me of having written that line and made me think how wildly optimistic it is when compared to the realities of conservative Christians' hateful, destructive behavior in Minnesota and around the world. It's true that "open minded" was what I was thinking while Jungbauer was talking to me, but I should have qualified my exuberance by saying "this time," or "in this case." As someone who has been spat on and had their life threatened by conservative Christians on the front steps of the Capitol in years passed, I shouldn't forget just how destructive and violent people who call themselves conservative Christian can be. I intend, however, to leave the door open...a crack. Ya gotta live with people.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday's Protest

Yesterday's capitol blogging attacted an interesting comment. A youngish man in jeans and sportcoat passed by while I was standing in front of the House with the new shower curtain, "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man." As he passed, he looked directly at me and had a kind of smirky expression on his face. I wasn't sure if he was flirting or dissing. Anyway, he wandered back later to tell me he thought the problem was that the government should not be involved in marriage at all. He said that when people get a divorce, they go to court and don't have to present any evidence for their case in order to get the divorce they want. "It's crazy," he said, "and that's why government should get out of marriage." Ok, then.


Monday, April 02, 2007

House and Senate In Recess Until Tues. April 10

Senate meets at 11:00, House at Noon. There at 10:30.

A Gratuitous Photograph

While the ice was melting on our local lake a few weeks ago, many of these isolated drainage systems formed on the surface. I've never noticed this before but I think it's cool.


Senate Is Off For The Entire Week

If the House follows suit, this could be a slow week. Yay.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Andy Birkey At The Capitol

On Friday I was joined in front of the Senate by gay blogger, Andy Birkey, author of the blog, Eleventh Avenue South. Andy was there collecting information for an article he's writing about my activities at the Capitol. Unfortunately, on Friday the Senate floor session was unexpectedly postponed for a half hour so there was hardly any traffic, and thus interactions to observe, while he was there. Andy said he intends to return to join in some protest action at a later date. That'll be fun!


House Meets 11:30, Monday; No Word From Senate

Here's a preview of tomorrow's shower curtain debut. This is a quote from the Loving v Virginia decision back in 1967. It was the case that overturned laws prohibiting interracial marriage. I think quoting a Supreme Court decision is more powerful than just saying Civil Marriage Is A Civil Right. Now, what to wear with green...