Shower Curtain Chronicles: May 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.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Oh, That's What A Bus Looks Like Underneath!

Well, according to Andy Birkey at Eleventh Avenue South we were completely shut out of this legislative session in terms of accomplishing any steps toward equality for same-sex couples. Even the hospital visitation measure, with the basic decency it represented, was just too much respect toward gays for the Republicans to bare and for the DFL to prioritize. What a disgrace.

I sincerely believe that both parties are out of touch with the sensibilities of the average Minnesotan on gay issues. The DFL is immersed in the fear of being associated with queer rights and the contemptible Republicans use that fear to play the DFL like a dime store fiddle. The DFL should own it and bone it; the voting public would find it refreshing and respect their honesty. They did make a half-assed effort to adhere to Outfront's agenda but it wasn't enough and they did not press the issues with vigor. As Eva Young put it, we were "thrown under the bus" once again by the DFL.
But, it's important to remember that the real culprits here are the christofascist Republicans, unabashedly espousing values consistent with Naziism while making the degradation and oppression of gays a routine focus of their party's agenda.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

THIS PLACE Is About Man's Law

I couldn't finish the session this week without one last asshole reminding me why I was there. This chubby, middle aged "gentleman" dressed in business casual, waddled up the Senate stairs and asked soooooooooooooooooooo innocently what my sign, "SAME-SEX SAME RIGHTS" meant. Alerted to impending bullshit, I straightened up and glared down at him from three stairs above, answering, "It means gay couples should have the right to marry." He said, "But you HAVE the right to marry. You can marry a woman just like me. You HAVE the same rights, you just want 'special' rights." I said, "First of all, EQUAL rights are not special rights, that's why they're called EQUAL rights. Next, I'm gay so it would be wrong for me to marry a woman. I want to marry my life partner who is a man." He said, "But you can't marry a man." I said, "I CAN marry a man in Massachusetts, or Canada, or Spain, or Belgium, or South Africa, or The Netherlands." He said, "Not according to 'god's' law." I said, "THIS PLACE (the Capitol) is about man's law, not 'god's' law (like there is such a thing), that's why I'm here as opposed to a church. I don't care who the churches choose to marry or not marry, but THE GOVERNMENT is a different story. All I want is a marriage license issued by the state, the same as anyone else who wants to get married."
At this point he looked as if a light had come on in his head but he shook it off and repeated, with less enthusiasm, the old broken record of "you want special rights," to which I replied, "Equal rights aren't special rights." He turned to waddled back down the stairs, secretly wishing his wife was a really hung, young man.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

He's 43!

Does this look like I have a sixteen year old partner? A German tourist came up to me at the Capitol last week to ask that question. This happened once before but the question came from a Russian tourist which makes me think that that interpretation of the phrase may be a cultural thing. He's 43!
Anyway, after I explained the phrasing of my sign, she told me that in Germany people would not be able to protest inside the building. I told her that if there were a thousand of me, I wouldn't be able to protest here either. She was very nice and I gave her a sticker.


Monday, May 21, 2007

"You've Been Noticed"

Last Thursday, DFL Representative, Tom Rukavina from the Range came up to me while I was sitting on a bench near the Senate and congratulated me on my stamina in showing up and protesting every day. I told him it was no big deal to stand with a sign for a little while and split. He laughed and said, "Well, you've been noticed." I appreciated his gesture.
Too bad my being noticed didn't result in the DFL not stripping every reference to domestic partners from every bill. Pawlenty is despicable for vetoing what gay-friendly legislation did get through and for threatening to veto more, but the DFL caved early and often and it's sad. So, the spouses of queer state and municipal workers can just die for lack of health care while their heterosexual coworkers' families thrive, but hey, Minnesota's gonna get a fucking "Poet Laureate!" No shit!


"I'm With Ya"

On Saturday as I was standing in front of the Senate with the "SAME-SEX SAME RIGHTS" shower curtain, DFL Representative Tom Anzelc of Balsam Lake scaled the Senate stairs, looked up briefly without stopping and said, "I'm with ya."


Session's "Last" Day

The doors of the Senate chamber closed and the President began to call the role ending my last Capitol protest of the session the same way the rest of the daily protests ended. I rolled up the shower curtain du jour, this time the "MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS OVERDUE" shower curtain, the same one I started the session with, slid it into the green canvas satchel with the other banners and trotted down the treacherous Senate stairs.
Nothing remarkable or out of the ordinary happened today. It was actually rather quiet when I started in front of the House at 8:30. The only lobbyist there was Nancy Larson, former running mate of John Marty when he ran for governor back in the early nineties. We had a nice chat. She's very supportive of the cause.
Both the Republicans and DFL caucused this morning so each came to the chamber in a herd. After they were inside I didn't wait for the gavel because both chambers were meeting a 9:00, I just left and went over to the Senate. It was quiet there too and as luck would have it, they were far from ready to start so I was able to catch many of them on their way in.
While there, I bumped into a Planned Parenthood lobbyist and we chatted on the stairs for a while about their legislative interests. A St. Paul Pioneer Press photographer took our picture and jotted down our names. It'll be interesting to see if that's in the paper tomorrow. There was a small group of veterans huddled around the top of the stairs on a mission I could not discern, but they had their picture taken on the stairs and were nabbing some senators on their way in.
There is a lot of legislation still unpassed and unsigned so even though everyone speaks optimistically about this being the last day, we won't really know until tomorrow.
I have some experiences from the past few days I'll write about in subsequent posts.

Friday, May 18, 2007

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

There at 9:30 with extra signs. Here's your big chance! Saturday!

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

There at 9:30 with extras. Please come.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Today At The Capitol

Lobbyists just get silly this late in the session.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thursday, House Meets 10:00; Senate ?

Senate's still in session at this hour. I can probably assume they won't schedule earlier than the House tomorrow since they're going so late tonight.

Wednesday's Capitol Encounters

In front of the House this morning while holding the "MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS OVERDUE" shower curtain, a teenage girl who was a member of a small group of girls asked if my sign meant that I was for or against gay marriage. When I answered the affirmative, she said, "Me too!"
Later, while I was using the same sex equality graphics shower curtain (pictured), a small group of teenage boys led by a middle aged, mom-looking woman stopped in front of me. She directed the boys' attention my way and told them that the sign was about gay marriage, at which point she gave me a thumbs up and said, "Good for you!" Then, she went on to explain to the boys what each symbol represented. One of the boys must have quietly expressed disapproval to her because she then said, "Well, you may not agree with him but it is his right to stand here with a sign and try to influence what people think." She thanked me and the group moved on with some of the boys looking rather glad to be leaving.
A young police officer (I didn't notice the jurisdiction), new to the scene at the Capitol passed by, and with a rather wry grin, gestured his approval with several nods.
After while, when I was in front of the Senate, a large group of about thirty to forty teenagers made their way up the Senate stairs. The young woman I assumed was their teacher came up to me and said, "I'm so glad you're here." She wanted her students to see real protesters, so I told her I was happy to be her exhibit. She gathered her class around and asked me to explain to them what I was doing there. I started to say that I was in favor of gay marriage equality when the security guards began freaking out because the stairs were totally blocked from one side to the other. The teacher and security tried to get the kids over to one side but it was hopeless so they moved on.
After a few minutes, the teacher appeared before me with a small group of kids and asked me to present my case to them, which I started to do, but security freaked again so I took them all to a vacant corner away from the Senate entrance and made my case. When the teacher came back, I learned that all her students were from the Interdisciplinary School in Minneapolis and that the group I was talking to were members of the school's GSA (gay/straight alliance).
Having made my point about marriage equality and the politics surrounding the issue, I stressed to the group that they are not guests at the Capitol. I told them that the Capitol belongs to them, that their taxes and their parents' taxes pay for the building and everyone that works in it and that they should never be afraid to show up and make their voices heard.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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

Once again, I'm there at 8:30 with extra signs and stickers. Bring a date.

Marriage Equality For Caribou

In speaking with the nice state trooper in front of the House this morning I learned that security will have twenty four hour coverage at the House chambers starting on Thursday. I suppose there's no way to avoid those marathon sessions at the end like this when you have a divided government. Monday is supposed to be the last day of the session but I wouldn't count on it. Rep. Jim Davnie asked me this morning what I was going to do with my time starting Tuesday after the session is over. Of course, the answer is: I'll find other people to bother.

The Senate postponed its floor session to 1:00 so I'm blowing it off today. I didn't find out about the postponement until I was done with the House. They made the change at 11:00 last night according to the clerk at the Senate Information Office.

As I was getting coffee this morning at a St. Paul Caribou, one of the baristas said she liked my "Marriage Equality" sticker and kind of mumbled a desire to get one if I knew where they could be gotten. I was happy to give her one from the stack in my pocket. The other baristas also wanted stickers and I had enough for all.


Monday, May 14, 2007

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

There at 8:30.

Mayors' Day At The Capitol

Mayors were all over the Capitol today. I had a brief encounter with Mpls. Mayor, R.T. Rybak(left). He read the shower curtain, "SAME-SEX SAME RIGHTS," looked me in the eye and said, "You're right." Of course, I was also wearing a t-shirt that read, "SECOND CLASS CITIZEN"...oh well.
St. Paul Mayor, Chris Coleman was strolling around the hall in front of the House, as well, wearing those glasses that make him look totally gay. We acknowledged each other's existence as he passed by.
I had a nice chat with the mayor of Rosemount. He asked me if I was with an organization and I told him, "No, I'm just a disgruntled asshole that comes here everyday." He replied that he thinks impassioned individuals acting alone have more power than organizations. I said, "I hope you're right."

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The Last Week Begins

Hopefully, this is the last full week the legislature will be in session, but considering Pawlenty's veto orgy that may be wishfull thinking. The question now is, just how far is the DFL willing to bend over...oh right, that's always the question.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

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

I'll be there at Noon with extra signs.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Statehood Day!

I'm guessing this is the date in history that Minnesota became a state, an anniversary I wouldn't have been aware of if gay-friendly DFL Rep. Dianne Loefler hadn't wished me a happy Statehood Day while I was blogging the Senate this morning. She also chirped that the chandelier was lit in the rotunda, and that this is the only day that it's turned on each year. Others later told me that it's actually two days a year but I was unable to find out what the other day was. Anyway, there it is. The Capitol electrician told me he just hopes nobody ever wants the damn thing lowered. It's not easy to get at.
As a part of the festivities, there was a couple dressed in period costumes greeting Reps as they entered the House chamber. Many of the Reps and Senators left their respective chambers to come out to the rotunda and actually view the lit chandelier with their own eyes. Oh my, just look at it all lit up and glowing like that...just like a chandelier.
There was a group of childcare advocates handing out purple ribbons to lawmakers today. They were UNION childcare workers proudly wearing their SEIU union buttons. Republicans accepted the ribbons but were not so eager to wear them. I'm told that SEIU, a union representing members of the service sector, is now the biggest union in the country. It's a sign of the times, I suppose, with the decline of manufacturing in this country. I'm glad they're organized. Members of the group expressed support for marriage equality.
As usual at this time of year, there were quite a number of school groups moving through the Capitol and one group of young boys were particularly giggly about the "SAME-SEX SAME RIGHTS" shower curtain I was sporting today. One little boy approached me cautiously, the rest of his group waiting several feet away consumed with nervous anticipation. He must have drawn the short straw. He looked at me, pointed at the sign and said, "What does this mean?" I said, "It means same-sex couples should have the same rights as everybody else." He thanked me and they all ran away giggling. Cute.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

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

Tic Tacs for everybody!

Speaking With The Speaker

This morning, I was able to speak personally with Speaker, Kelliher, bagel in hand, on her way into the House chamber. I told her that I would sure like to see the Municipal Health Benefits language reinserted into the Health and Human Services bill. She told me it had actually been in the State Government bill...DOH! Oh well, she got the message and I hope she finds a way to reassert that measure. It would undoubtedly result in cities and towns across the state providing equal spousal benefits to their gay employees. This change in local government policy would have a pervasive warming effect on attitudes toward gay people and our issues in Minnesota.
On another note, the Speaker offered encouragement on the prospects for Hospital Visitation Rights becoming law.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thursday, House and Senate Meet 10:00

Call Speaker Kelliher 651-296-0171

Tell her you want the Municipal Health Benefits language that allows cities to provide domestic partner benefits to gay workers, and that Pawlenty vetoed, put back in the the Health and Human Services bill that will be resubmitted for his signature. I have been told by a reliable source at the Capitol that she is the one holding the language back from being reinserted. Leave a message with her assistant.


House Meets Noon, Wednesday, Pawlenty Blows

Well, Pawlenty has vetoed the Municipal Health Benefits bill. Wouldn't it be nice if the DFL had the nuts to just keep putting it back in bill after bill until Pawlenty shuts down the government over it. I think it would be a smart move for the DFL because it would make Pawlenty and the Republicans responsible for throwing the state into chaos in order to force their extremist agenda. A clear majority of people in the state support equal benefits and this mild measure, so Pawlenty's the one that would suffer for pushing the issue to the hilt. And, if he backs down, we not only win the issue but it weakens him and the right wing.
This is a golden opportunity for the DFL to marginalize the Republicans for a long time to come.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wednesday, Senate Meets 1:00; House ?

The House must still be in session.

"I'll Talk To Margaret"

I started out in front of the House and didn't see many lawmakers before I had to switch to the Senate side to try to catch some lawmakers from both bodies. Both bodies were convening at 10:00 so I couldn't cover both completely. As it turned out, I wound up seeing most of the Representatives anyway coming up the Senate stairs on their way to the House. Two birds with one stone, eh.

Senate Majority Leader, Larry Pogemiller (above) stopped to apologize to me for the failure of the legislature to provide some equity for same-sex couples. I had the "SAME-SEX SAME RIGHTS" shower curtain. I wasn't sure exactly what he meant because I knew Domestic Partner Benefits for state workers was dead, but I wasn't aware of anything else, so I asked him if he'd heard anything from Pawlenty about his intentions with regard to the Hospital Visitation bill. I added that I thought it is a disgrace that a bill dealing with such basic humanity was even generating debate. He agreed. He asked me if the bill had cleared the House yet and I said no. Then, as he was leaving, he said, "I'll talk to Margaret," meaning Speaker of the House, Margaret Anderson Kelliher. It'd be nice to get something out of this session because it's surely going to be worse next session with elections coming up.

This morning I had a chance to thank my Senator, Ann Rest, for signing onto the Hospital Visitation bill. She smiled and said, "Well, I support you."

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Tuesday, House and Senate Meet 10:00

I'll start out in front of the House at 9:30 and then switch at some point.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Monday, Senate Meets 11:00; House 12:30

There at 10:30 and Noon. I'll have extra signs.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Where do these people come from?

A strange encounter in front of the Senate yesterday, haunts me. I don't know where this youngish black man wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves and what seemed to be an empty child sized back pack came from, but he was suddenly smiling in my face and talking a mile a minute.
He was telling me that I shouldn't despair over the Domestic Partner Benefits bill being killed because it doesn't matter and that a constitutional amendment is the only thing that can stop me. I told him it matters to the spouses of state workers who will go without health care while their heterosexual counterparts will continue receiving that exclusive privilege. He seemed to be trying to convince me that he was "with" me, saying that if I just stick with it I'll win. It was difficult to keep up, he was talking so fast but I was sort of believing him until he said that he "used to be gay" but he "left that lifestyle years ago." OK. Now it's time to just smile and look into the distance because there is no point in trying to explain to this hyperblathering moron that sexual orientation is not a "lifestyle" and if he left anything years ago, it was his senses. Where do these people come from?!
Then, the Bachmann-in-drag, anti-gay crusader, Senator Warren Limmer showed up and this guy had his nose all the way up Limmer's ass, stroking him and bowing from the ankles. It was truly nauseating.
Anyway, as I was packing up to go, bent over and hurriedly arranging things in my bag so I could get out of there, it wasn't fast enough to escape having my shoulders totally felt up and rubbed by this "former" homosexual, encouraging me to "keep it up." That's right, I'll keep it up so someday lying, disgusting cowards like you can feel more comfortable sucking some other closet case's cock in the bushes by night while by day you profess your "ex" gayness and support the anti-gay fascists who would see us both dead.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Hell And Human Suffering

The House was at least 45 minutes late getting started this morning so I had to leave again before the DFL came in. I'm at Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul now.
DFL Representative, Linda Slocum stopped by outside the House this morning and told me that a conference committee had stripped Domestic Partner Benefits for state workers out of the Health and Human Services bill. She referred to it as the Hell and Human Suffering bill...seems more appropriate. Well, Pawlenty won't get to veto it and be a hero to his constituents anyway, but I wonder if his attention will now turn to the Hospital Visitation bill. I had a feeling that if he'd vetoed DM he might leave the other bill alone for fear of appearing too over the top. Now, who knows. What a sad state of affairs.
I'm at the Senate this afternoon.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Friday, House Meets 10:00; Senate 1:00 PM

There at 9:30 and 12:30. I always have extra signs.

Happy Unconstitutional Prayer Day!

I couldn't resist this lovely shot this morning with the (not quite yet) flowering crabs in the foreground.

The House was supposed to convene this morning at 10:00 but by 10:25 the DFL still hadn't finished caucusing, so I had to leave because the parking meter was running out. Oh well, I wound up seeing many of them later while I was in front of the Senate. When the House recesses, many representatives file by down the Senate stairs.

Outside the Capitol today, the UNCONSTITUTIONAL (my opinion), "National Prayer Day" was being observed while a "Day Of Reason" was being observed in the rotunda by the Minnesota Atheists. The difference? One is officially proclaimed by the federal government...guess which one. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says, "CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." It doesn't say "a" religion, but "religion," meaning ANYTHING having to do with religion. That means the PEOPLE are free to pray 'til hell won't have it, but the government is not. National Prayer Day is the result of Congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion...establishing a day of religious ritual. It's wrong and illegal and the founding fathers that bent over backwards to keep religion out of the Constitution are turning in their graves.

There are far more agregious breaches of church state separation these days, like the daily religious rituals that open sessions of the House and Senate, this is just the outrage du jour.

DFL Representative, Joe Atkins thanked me for being there today.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thursday, House Meets 10:00; Senate 1:30

There at 9:30 and 1:00.


Yesterday, these folks(left) demonstrating for medical marijuana across from me on the stairs, had a nice victory in the Senate. Good. I took a picture for them with their camera and they reciprocated.
These men(left) were demonstrating on the Capitol steps when I arrived yesterday demanding that more government construction contracts go the African-American firms. Nice signs.
Also, yesterday a group of high school age, female pages stopped to ask some questions about my activities in front of the House. One of the young women who seemed particularly enthusiastic about my activism stopped by today, as well, to have her picture taken with me while she helped hold the banner. I think she felt supported by my message, and that is so gratifying I can't tell you. It is the best thing about demonstrating at the Capitol. Kids come to the Capitol by the busloads from all over the state and many groups go right by my gay-affirming banners. Most importantly, is that the gay kids go right by my gay-affirming banners. I hope it helps.
Former House Speaker, Dee Long plopped down on a bench next to where I was demonstrating in front of the House this morning. I asked her how she was. She said she was fine, then jumped up and scambled away. Sorry!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Priestly Praise

"You're admirably persistent," said the smiling Catholic priest to me this morning, as he climbed the stairs. I was holding the "SAME-SEX SAME RIGHTS" shower curtain. I think he's the Senate chaplain.

DFL Senator, Rick Olseen(left), stopped at the top of the stairs to tell me that even though the funding had been removed from the state worker Domestic Partner Benefits bill, which Senator Olseen authored, Pawlenty was still going to veto it. I said to him, "See, it's not the money." He agreed. We agreed that Senator Betzold's move to strip funding from the benefits was a smart move, removing all credibility from the opposition's assertion that the money was the reason for their opposition. They can't use that bullshit again. It's just bald bigotry.