Protecting Gay Marriage: How to Support the Respect for Marriage Act

In a total shocker, last week the U.S. House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex marriage, on a bipartisan vote. Roughly a quarter of the Republicans joined all Democrats to pass the bill. Next up is the Senate where the bill needs to get 10 Republicans to pass. So we have work to do.

What do we do?

Anyone who values freedom, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and civil rights should be interested in persuading senators to support the bill. This kind of advocacy has worked in the past (remember protecting the Affordable Care Act in 2017?) and we can do it again with the right organization.

What can I practically do?

I created a Google Doc listing all Republican senators and where they stand on the bill. Currently we have five yes’s and a lot of undecideds and no comments. So these senators need to hear from their constituents.

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Star Wars Has Guts (Sometimes): Obi-Wan Kenobi Series

I loved the new Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Trying to fill in gaps between two established trilogies is a tall order and they do it really well. But it raises some interesting questions about when Star Wars is willing to take risks and how much they listen to fans.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to spill it all, so you’ve been warned.

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2022 Seattle Vacation

I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, so that was a major vacation destination for us. Especially when I learned how many National Parks are there. We hoped to go in 2020, but we kept putting off our planning as we heard worrying reports of a pesky virus. But we finally came back in 2022. And what a vacation—I’ll call it the summer vacation of snow and starfish.

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Support Local News

It’s my birthday. If you’d like to help me celebrate, consider supporting one of my projects and becoming a member of West St. Paul Reader through Patreon.

What Is West St. Paul Reader?

Back in 2019 I started reporting on local news here in West St. Paul. I attend city council meetings, I find out what’s being built on the corner, I low-key bug people, I interview candidates, I research history, I take a lot of pictures, I try to celebrate the amazing things and people in this town. I can be a very dorky tour guide.

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Give to the Kids

A while back I remember a kid coming to the door selling something. I don’t remember what they were selling, but I think they were on the girl’s hockey team at the local high school. Whether in a bad mood or feeling cheap, I turned the kid away without buying anything.

Almost immediately, I regretted it. That student had a lot of guts to go door to door, and their team clearly needed the help if this student was putting forth that much effort.

And I let them down.

Here’s a general tip for being a nice human: When kids ask for money, you should try to help.

So when I heard about the local elementary school doing away with door-to-door fundraisers and instead doing community service projects, I wanted to help. Students are doing acts of kindness in the community and asking for support. I wrote a story about Moreland’s Raise Craze fundraiser and then we did another story on their first kindness event.

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My COVID-19 Experience

I haven’t given a pandemic update in a while, and that’s felt like an oversight. It’s helpful to capture how we’re feeling at the time. Unfortunately, it’s been a bit of a time lately.

Since late February when Russia invaded Ukraine, it’s all felt like a little much. I noticed my reading dropped incredibly after the invasion, and it’s only gotten worse.

Here we are, supposedly at the end of the pandemic, with health and safety requirements dropping like flies, and that’s when I get COVID-19. I got sick two weeks ago, after a weekend of family coming to town for a visit. Because hey, we’re all vaccinated and things are better so it’s about time, right? I guess not. I don’t actually know how we got exposed, but something like 8 of the 11 family members got sick. Fun.

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But I Want Them to Live

Today is Trans Visibility Day. I see you. I love you. I am here for you.

These past few months have felt like a dark time for the trans community. I’m sorry.

We’re in a place right now where attacks on the LGBTQ community, and specifically trans folks, are coming fast and furious. Not just from a minority of bigots and haters, but from state governments and seemingly an entire political party. Not just a few red states (where these bills are passing and becoming law), but nearly the entire country.

I’ll say this as simply as I can: This is a civil rights issue. Some people want to deny LGBTQ people their civil rights because they some how think that’s wrong or feel threatened by it. But it’s discrimination, it’s rooted in hate, and it’s evil. It’s anti-American.

And no, I don’t care about your religious exemption or your fake concern for women’s sports or your gross and wrong conflation of abuse and homosexuality (ready for “grooming” to become the new scare-word?). There’s no excuse for hate.

Here’s why I think this issue is so simple: Kids are dying.

You either care about those kids and want to see them live, or you don’t.

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The Right Read for the Right Time

I loved John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society. It’s a fun, quick sci-fi story about a parallel planet Earth where animals evolved into Godzilla and we’re crossing dimensions to study them. Weird, quirky, fun.

I knew I would eventually read a novel that incorporated COVID-19 into the plot, and this is it. It’s relatively a minor part of the plot and not exactly crucial, but it does ground this work in time in a unique way.

Perhaps the most unique way is in how Scalzi describes how the book came to be in the acknowledgments. He was working on a dark, serious book when the pandemic hit. His work ground to a halt and he just couldn’t pick it up again. He eventually gave it up and found incredible freedom in letting it go.

There’s a right book for a right time, and that time wasn’t it.

As soon as he gave up on that idea, he got a new one and out popped The Kaiju Preservation Society. He calls it a pop song, saying: “We all need a pop song from time to time, particularly after a stretch of darkness.”

So true.

While that’s a story about writing and creating, I think it’s also true about reading. There’s a right book for a right time, and if you’re struggling to get through a book, it’s probably the wrong time for that book. Its OK to move on and try something else. Don’t feel guilty.

As we’ve moved from one calamity to another (pandemic, protest, insurrection, back to pandemic, war), keep that in mind. If it’s really hard to read, that’s OK. Find the right read for the right time.

An Inspiring Quote in a Troubling Time

The news is really hard right now (as if it hasn’t been for months and years and… oh). Russia invaded Ukraine. Texas is trying to bully trans kids. People are trying to ban books and pretend racism wasn’t so bad and doesn’t exist today.

It’s just a lot.

It’s hard to focus, it’s hard to work, it’s hard to stop doom scrolling. (guilty)

When that happens, I find it best to focus on small acts of love and kindness.

So among other things, I shared this on social media today from my West St. Paul Reader accounts (nothing gives me more joy than using my platforms to be a positive voice):

“I could not look my granddaughter in the eye and tell her things needed to change but do nothing to change them.”

-KaeJae Johnson, the first Black candidate to run for municipal office in West St. Paul
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Anniversary Vacation to Maine

2021 became the year of vacation with trips to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Madeline Island, Rocky Mountain National Park, and corners of Minnesota. So it’s fitting that Abby and I finished the year with a belated 20th anniversary trip to Acadia National Park in Maine.

There’s something magical about winter, and with our anniversary in December we wanted to go somewhere that still felt like winter—not an escapist trip to the tropics. We finally settled on Maine as somewhere we’d never been to before that we could feasibly get to for a short trip.

On Monday we took a drive to the Schoodic Peninsula and found this frozen bay.
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A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.