Do Your Taxes Mean More than My Equal Rights?

Photo: Socialworker.org

Photo: Socialworker.org

Today’s political landscape tends to ignite so much emotion and confrontation that I avoid speaking about it at all cost. This does not insinuate that I don’t care about the nation, or that I’m not educated on the issues. I just try to be the better person and agree to disagree. In my mind, talking politics to some people is like talking to an ex-wife about her recently divorced husband’s adulterous affair…with her sister…over Thanksgiving dinner.

It just doesn’t bode well.

I also don’t write much about being gay. Being gay is one part of a whole that I call, “me”. I’ve always said that it’s part of who I am and not what I’m about. My principles, my personal and professional track record, and my relationships with friends, family and colleagues are what’s important to me – and how I feel history should judge me. This post, however, ties these issues together.

I’m extremely happy to have the right to vote. I’m also happy that I was able to vote, and excited about the outcome. I also have realistic expectations about this presidency — that things will move slowly over the next four years. This will occur because Americans have voted for an increasingly conservative Congress that will, no doubt, continue to block the President’s efforts for progress. Supporters of both parties should understand that to get things done, there needs to be cohesion for the American people, not just for a select demographic. (As far as the economic situation is concerned, let me remind you that President Obama didn’t create this catastrophic meltdown that destroyed almost every major economy on the planet, he inherited it.)

I know (a lot of) people who voted for Gov. Romney. I have family members that voted for Romney. I have friends that voted for Romney and, sadly, know gay people who voted for Romney.

What I would like to know is how these people – people who know the kind of person I am and the level of trust I engender – could vote for someone who would deny me equal rights as a citizen? I want to know how they could place (sketchy) economic reform, which [probably] wouldn’t work in four years, over my right to be a parent? I’d like to have them look me in the eye and tell me how a small tax break means more to them and me having the ability to have equal hospital visitation when a partner is ill.

This idea is not singular to me. I was inspired by a quote from Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Doug Wright, who posted to Facebook:

I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.”

It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you ‘disagree’ with your candidate on these issues.

If you voted for Romney, you did these things to me. You voted to take away my rights as an equal. You voted to take away the same tax benefits that you receive as a married individual. You voted to demean my lifestyle and those of others.

This issue doesn’t solely revolve around me and my rights. You also voted to take away affordable health care to millions of Americans. You voted to take voted to take away what a woman could do to her body. You voted to unravel what progress we have made over the last four years.

I don’t write this out of spite, or to take away your freedom of choice. I write this to make you understand there’s more at stake than what is in your bank account. Christopher Hennessy, a Huffington Post contributor, wrote, “We need to make clear to our friends and family what the stakes are for them. The stakes are our relationships with them, our continued willingness to meet them without rancor, to feel like part of the family, to not wonder how a slight decrease in their yearly taxes could mean more to them than we do.”

Yes, these are turbulent times and we have a long road ahead. We have made some progress. My hope is that we will continue down that road with each passing moment. But keep in mind that voting is not exclusively about party lines, tax incentives, economic reform and jobs. It’s about voting for the right candidate for your city, district, and state. If voting for the President, your vote impacts everyone living in this great nation, even those individuals right in front of you.

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Kanela Offers Local Ingredients Served Up Right

4.0 out of 5        http://www.kanelacafe.com/

Two posts this week. With organic and local ingredients, combined with tasty Julius Meinl coffee, this place rates as one of the best for breakfast.

Atmosphere is upscale casual, with simple lines and a comfortable space. The noise level does tend to get a bit loud but you can still hear the people sitting across from you. The Lakeview crowd, east and west, come to enjoy. We arrived pretty early so didn’t have to wait, but the place fills up quickly – and not sure if they take reservations. New parents beware – it’s not really stroller friendly.

The menu offers a selection of sweet and savory, mixing things like the loukoumades (a fried fritter with lemon-honey syrup and walnuts) and banana split crepes to a spicy feta omelette or chorizo and eggs. (I’ve only had breakfast here but the lunch items look pretty damn tasty. Either way, it’s a win-win).  The best part is that they’ve just started serving dinner!

The staff was great too. Pretty attentive and pleasant, despite the business of the place. Southport Grocery better watch themselves. They’ve got some serious competition. 😉

Kanela
3231 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 248-1622
http://www.kanelacafe.com/

Lichtenstein at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest impressionist galleries in the world. It also currently plays host to the largest exhibit of Roy Lichtenstein pieces of all time. Unfortunately, since some of the most famous pieces are borrowed from private collections, photos were not permitted. I took what I could.  The museum is so large that I only wondered into two other wings while there.  Some of the photos are of the more famous works.  If you get to Chicago, this is a MUST!

Frankie’s Dishes Up Pizza, Pasta and some Pizzaz

Overall 3.5 out of 5.   http://www.frankieschicago.com/

I frequent Frankie’s Fifth Floor mainly because my office is in the same building.  This Lettuce Entertain You Italian locale offers a nice variety of quick, affordable lunches to a wide audience of locals, tourists and business consumers.  They also offer a decent selection of full entrees, including pasta, meats and salads.  Smaller style pizzas (10 inches, I think) are also available.

A marghertia pizza and small ceasar salad is a perfect lunch that will definitely leave you feeling full!  The chopped salad is also a winner.  I would, however, avoid the caprese salad.  The last two times I’ve ordered it, the mozzarella comes out extremely “wet”.  I know buffalo mozz is packed in water but the cheese has been lacking its creamy flavor and you end up with a plate full of water.  Not good.

The restaurant is basically a two-in-one offering.  You can sit “outside” (Frankie’s Fifth Floor Pizzaria) in the main area of the mall, which is nice due to the large window overlooking Michigan Avenue.  Frankie’s Scallopine (or “Inside”) offers a slightly more upscale and intimate aesthetic, sans pizza.  Either way, the food is quite good and you’ll be fine.

Be sure to check out happy hour on Friday’s, with martinis, select wines and small appetizers for $5!

See if Kevin’s working.  He’s the most considerate, attentive waiter I’ve experienced in a long time.  We always grab his section.

Bourbon and Burgers with Personality, Charm

Overall 3.5  out of 5.   http://www.rocksbargroup.com/lakeview/

This neighborhood bar, about a year into their expansion, offers a solid menu and great atmosphere.  It’s perfect for watching a game – day or night.  They feature a long list of whiskeys and have a great rotating beer selection on tap.  Be sure to check out their monthly drink specials and week night food deals.  (And some of the staff is VERY easy on the eye).

This restaurant is part of two. The sister restaurant is in Lincoln Park but, in my mind, this location has a lot more personality. Be sure to sit with Trista or Joyce.  They’re the best.  Start off with mac and cheese wedges with BBQ dipping sauce.  If you’re in the mood for a burger, you can’t go wrong with their BBBest BBBurger, which is topped with bacon, blue cheese and buffalo sauce.  Tots are a must.  For the more health conscious, the goat cheese salad topped with chicken is also a winner.

Best hangover sandwich in the universe – the Leroy Brown!  Take macaroni and cheese, top it with pulled pork and onion strings, and put it between two thick slices of Texas toast.  After a long night out, eating this will make you feel right as rain.

If you’re eating Sunday brunch, don’t expect a quick “in and out” experience.  Food orders take some time when crowded, due to overwhelming demand and their small kitchen.  This is also the reason they stop serving breakfast items at noon.

Lakeview locals frequent the place, as well as an occasional softball team on the weekends.  You’ll always find a variety of college fans (although not dedicated to one team) which brings in a great mix of straight/gay/families all the way around.

Seating tip: During the summer, sit outside on the side of the building, rather than the front.  The side street offers a little more shade on hot days.  There are NO trees on Broadway to break the pounding heat.  The best alternative is to sit inside next to an open window.  Either way, you can’t lose.