This is True
Randy Cassingham

Randy Cassingham’s Blog

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bullet  "Gay-Baiting"

I've made no secret that I'm pretty much 100 percent egalitarian. I've defended the religious, the non-religous, the "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians", and others in True's stories. I'm interested in whether people walk their talk, not whether they're religious, gay, atheist, pagan, Muslim, employed, educated -- whatever.

And not just in stories. And let's focus on the "gay issue" (if you will). In recent months on my very popular Facebook pages, I've pointed out that retailer JC Penney "has guts" for something they did recently:

(Click the pic to see the post on Facebook, or here to see the article on Gawker about JCP being threatened by "Homophobic Boycott Calls" -- and responded with Father's Day Ad featuring a real-life gay couple playing with their two kids. Now that's guts! And note that as of the time I grabbed a screen shot, the post had been "shared" by readers on Facebook alone 42 times, spreading the thought-provoking item to many hundreds of others.)

In May, after voters in North Carolina voted to deny civil rights to some citizens by amending the state's constitution to not recognize gay marriages, I fired up my graphics software and created the graphic shown here -- putting a sentence that came to me in a dream into graphic reality. This one was posted on my Get Out of Hell Free Facebook page (and was then shared on This is True's Facebook page (and my personal page) following that vote, to give my readers and friends something to think about:

(Again, you can click the pic to see the post on Facebook; as of this screen shot, this thought was "shared" by readers 160 times.)

So imagine my surprise to be told by reader Nanci in Maine that I was "gay baiting" with a story in the 3 June 2012 issue, which reveals me to be "too homophobic for my tastes" and "Not the first time, either."

The story? Here it is:

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Rich Dewberry exchanged his cell phone for a new one at a Best Buy store in Aurora, Colo. By the time he got home, someone had used his old phone to update his Facebook account. "I am gay. I'm coming out," the post read. "Calls started coming in immediately to my house phone," Dewberry said. "Friends, ex-spouses, they were all calling." Dewberry, 39, says he is not gay, but it has been a year now, and he's still getting questions. He has thus retained a lawyer. "My reputation has been tarnished and they're responsible for it," he says. "It just put a bad taste in my mouth." (RC/Denver Post, KMGH Denver) ...Wait: I thought he said he wasn't gay?

Does the tagline "push the envelope" a bit? You bet it does! Just like many taglines. It's meant to be so unexpected that someone foolish enough to be drinking coffee while reading might spray some on their computer. Just as I do with occasional tags about heterosexuals, politicians, cops, ministers, etc. (and whether they're black, white, American, or not) -- in other words, I treat gays (or in this case, someone terrified to be called gay one time over a year ago) just like anyone else.

Of course, anyone accused of being homophobic (or racist) is supposed to just accept it: denial supposedly just "proves" you're out of touch and don't know that you're homophobic (or racist or whatever).

I call bullshit on that.

The proof is how you treat people: do you treat one race differently? Do you treat those in the "LGBT community" differently? (For those of you not In The Know, that's the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community.)

Well, look above at just a couple of recent samples of posts I've made in public -- even knowing that a considerable portion of my readership is very conservative, and I'm certainly going to get angry ranting about making such posts (and I did, as you can see if you look at the comments on Facebook).

The above image was posted as a comment -- see comments below. (Click to see larger.)
And it's not just recent: I pointed Nanci to this story and the editorial about it that I wrote in HeroicStories from more than a dozen years ago, when I was that publication's publisher, after readers complained that I allowed a story to be published about "those people." That editorial "doesn't appease me," Nanci said. Instead, she violated True's copyright and excerpted the story to her mailing list of 90 gay friends and (gasp!) got concurrence from two of those 90 -- people who got the story out of context with, of course, Nanci's I'm-outraged-please-back-me-up introduction. Yet only two did.

"I stand by my original comment," Nanci concluded. "It was tasteless (no pun intended)."

Well yeah it was tasteless, even keeping out of the pun realm! This has what, exactly, to do with my supposedly being a "gay-baiting homophobe"?

Let's just say my list is a lot bigger than Nanci's -- and in this case, size does matter. If it's true that LGBTs are not quite 4 percent of the population (source), the gay readership of This is True is much larger than Nanci's list. And yeah, I also got exactly two complaints too, including Nanci's.

But here's the real point: If straight opinion leaders who have the guts to make such postings in public are castigated for treating LGBTs just like everyone else, what does that say to those who would deny them their rights? That yes, "the community" demands special treatment -- to be treated "more equal" than others. That's a terribly dangerous thing to demand, because it gives bigots a compelling and defensible reason to deny them simple equal rights. I'm of the opinion that "all men (and women) are created equal." I stand up against those who would deny black people, Asian people, Latino people, and LGBT people their basic rights, such as the right to marry each other -- and blacks, for instance, were denied the right to marry whites in my own country, and in my own lifetime, and we finally put a stop to that crap. But I also stand up against those who would demand to be treated better than others too, whether they're white, or black, or Asian, or Latino, or LGBT.

Equal: nothing less -- and nothing more, since that puts the lie to their demands. And yes, equality includes being able to laugh at those who insist for over a year that they're not gay ("Not That There's Anything Wrong With That") -- yet sue over the "damage" of one idiot making one post to their Facebook account that was quickly repudiated.

So to Nanci as well as to Rich Dewberry I say this in all seriousness: grow the hell up, be equal, and choose your battles more wisely just like everyone else has to. Because otherwise, the world will make fun of you -- and rightly so.

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91 Comments on This Entry

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Posted by Stephen, Australia on June 10, 2012:

I get so tired of people who feel obliged to leap to the 'defence' of those who can very readily look after themselves.

Nanci will also need to remove me from her Xmas card lst because I chortled at your tag line (as I often do).

Curse you sir and your humour, leading me into hateful ways.

Posted by Randolph, Alberta on June 10, 2012:

I'm a long-time subscriber (and, incidentally, a 6 on the Kinsey Scale), and remember the coolest response to an email I sent you a while back when I mentioned my husband.

You wrote ";-)", and that spoke more to your character than a thousand words about Nanci.

Keep up the good work. If I'd had been drinking coffee (I don't anymore when I read your newsletter), I'd need a new keyboard right now.

Posted by David, Arizona on June 10, 2012:

I thought you were homophobe-baiting with that tagline.

---

That was my intention, and I'm glad at least someone got it. -rc

Posted by Wesley; Ashland, Oregon on June 11, 2012:

"Equal rights are not special rights." So it follows that "Special rights are not equal rights." I think that covers it.

Posted by Arachne, Florida on June 11, 2012:

As a member of the LGBT Community, as well as the Pagan Community, I LOVE your posts and have never felt that you are bashing anyone except idiots -- who,IMHO, need a kick in the ass to get their brains functioning, Keep right on writing, and I will keep right on reading,sharing your stories -- and occasionally snarfing coffee through my nose!

Posted by Keith, Reading, UK on June 11, 2012:

My first thought on reading the tag line was to wonder how you (Randy) knew the taste was bad.

But, in seriousness, I can see why Nanci thought the way she did, but I also think she was wrong. Your commitment to equality is pretty clear to me through what you have done in the past. Making one joke in dubius taste (oh, dear!) does not remove that. Context is all. We all make jokes that in certain contexts are acceptable, but not in others. (For example, I am white English, my wife is black African, we can make jokes between us that would definitely not be acceptable in "polite" company -- even if they were understood.)

Posted by Geoff - Los Angeles on June 11, 2012:

Let me say up front that I am a gay man. To paraphrase my father, Americans have an infinite capacity for outrage. We revel in it and it's a bit sad.

What was my take on the story and tag line? I thought the tag line was in poor taste. (Pun intended.) I think the fellow who had his Facebook account hacked with that comment was within his rights to sue. I would be more than annoyed if someone had posted anything that wasn't true on my Facebook wall and I had to spend a year denying it, no matter what it was.

So do I think Randy was "gay-baiting"? Ms. Nanci, you've GOT to be yanking my chain. When there are "men of God" out there in this country calling for my death or imprisonment, when there are politicians out there in this country who want to codify into the constitution that I am at best a second class citizen, no matter how much I don't like a small off-color fellatio joke, it barely registers on my things to be concerned about.

I suggest, if you must be outraged, you might want to find something that really deserves it. Randy certainly doesn't.

---

Within his rights to sue? Absolutely. Do I think it would be smarter to move on, and pick his battles more carefully as well? Absolutely. -rc

Posted by Phil, San Antonio, Texas, USA on June 11, 2012:

I feel your pain, Randy. I don't speak against anyone's opinions or their right to live their lives as they see fit as long as their choices do not infringe on my rights, yet my right to an opinion of my own is constantly being criticized and condemned. Exactly where does the line get drawn? Oh, by the way, I am a white heterosexual male in a monogamous life-long marriage. Apparently we are in the minority these days and our rights mean nothing.

---

Yet the majority support you. Imagine how it would feel if they didn't. -rc

Posted by Kevin, Arlington VA on June 11, 2012:

Doesn't your "Well yeah it was tasteless, even keeping out of the pun realm!" open the door to your being vilified and castigated as a "punster-baiting humorphobe?"

Keep up the good work!

---

Oh dear: does this now mean I have to show I really don't have an aversion to puns by providing examples? -rc

Posted by CathyAC Brevard Florida on June 11, 2012:

There is always going to be someone who objects to whatever is said. While they may make you stop and consider what you have said, you can never quite get what they have heard through their own filters. No defense necessary.

---

Yeah, but it was fun to write one -- and I hope it is fun, and thought-provoking, to read. -rc

Posted by Robb, North Walpole NH on June 11, 2012:

I'm bewildered. I can only imagine that Nanci mis-read the tagline. I cannot see how any reasonable person could confuse that thought with being homophobic rather than supporting the movement of genuine equal rights for EVeryone. Assuming I'm wrong, then my next thought is that as a homophobe herself, she's doing whatever reverse-psychology thing she can do to try to derail your goal of making us think.

The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.

Posted by Chris from Indiana on June 11, 2012:

I was a bit put off by the vulgarity and snarky tone -- but as a woman with a lesbian daughter, I didn't consider it to be gay-baiting. I WAS sorrowed by the manner in which people use the LGBT issue to try to harm others (meaning the person at Best Buy), and grateful that you were publicizing the issue to make others think about their actions. The issue is that he was emotionally assaulted by someone with access to his private information, and I wish you'd stuck to that.

Sometimes I think that we become so worried about being politically correct in all things that we lose the ability to talk about issues that need to be discussed. So here's a vote for talking about LGBT issues as well as a wish that you'd been able to do so without getting vulgar and snarky.

---

One out of two ain't too bad these days! -rc

Posted by Mike, Michigan on June 11, 2012:

Right On, Bro! And to paraphrase, we need to judge people by the content of their character, not by any outward trappings or labels. If someone sticks a wrong label on you, politely correct them, and use the opportunity, Mr. Dewberry, to (re)connect with them -- it's not a terrible thing!

And "Gay baiting"??? True does a lot "thought baiting" in the sense that you direct readers to think about issues, often from angles people haven't (thoroughly) considered, but that certainly does not invite bashing, just thinking.

And Nanci, have you noticed that humor (a primary focus of True) often relies on "tasteless" for the surprise factor needed to evoke the laugh? So, on one level, it's just a JOKE.

(And out of respect for JCP's courageous move I am certainly looking anew at their product offerings.)

Posted by David, Canada on June 11, 2012:

Tagline is gay-bating? No. Sophomoric (and thus not really up to the standards I personally expect from True)? Yes. Worth getting into a lather about and complaining about? IMHO, no.

Posted by Haley, Oregon on June 11, 2012:

[image]

---

Unfortunately, images cannot be posted in comments, so I've added Haley's "image comment" to the page above -- the one about how silly the anti-gay-marriage will look in 40 years. Because of how silly the "no white/black marriage" folks look now, I think the "no gay marriage" folks look silly now as they learned nothing from history. The exact same arguments are being trotted out now as then, e.g., "Where does it stop! They'll be able to demand the right to marry animals next!" Still, the image is thought-provoking. -rc

Posted by Susan, Mississippi on June 11, 2012:

THANK YOU! This is not Animal Farm where some animals are more equal than others.

Posted by steve in st louis on June 11, 2012:

Question, such I failed to ask earlier: what is he suing about? The dispersal of his personal information? Or the implied slander? That us what bugged me about the story -- not enough info. If Best Buy is the target, well maybe....but, and I don't know this answer, whose responsibility is it to delete private info from a phone?

To Nancy and Rich: b_zzz...thank you for playing, but obliviots can exit the rear door any time.

Randy: what is the guy's position? Suing the imposter poster, or the person-people- store that allowed his Facebook info to be abused?

---

I'd guess he'll be suing Best Buy, who did require employees to adhere to a privacy policy. But they have the deepest pockets. I presume he'd sue for "needless infliction of emotional distress." -rc

Posted by Michael, Fla. on June 11, 2012:

Since I don't consider Nanci's charge worth refuting (she doesn't even start to make a case), I'm more interested in knowing whether you're considering legal action against Nanci for violation of copyright law (x90).

---

Maybe I'll just send her a bill. -rc

Posted by Ed, New York on June 11, 2012:

About time that people started standing up to those who want/expect more than anyone else. I caught the original story, but somehow missed the JC Penney's one. While I am not sure about forcing idiots to recognition "non-traditional" marriages in part because of the "force" and sadly many people are against it (nearly 60% if the polls are right?!?!) you are absolutely correct that those who demand to be more equal will not help anything.

---

I don't expect to force the idiots to recognize gay marriage. I expect that the states will. I also, by the way, don't expect to force churches to recognize them. But as long as the state is in the marriage business (and it is big business!), they must provide "equal protection" (and access to the legal benefits) afforded to married people. -rc

Posted by Ruada on June 11, 2012:

There is always going to be someone who objects to whatever is said. While they may make you stop and consider what you have said, you can never quite get what they have heard through their own filters. No defense necessary.

Posted by Ben, Arkansas on June 11, 2012:

You've had much more tasteless puns in the past than that one.

---

Perhaps, but that just proves my point: that no one is exempt. Not even "protected" classes. -rc

Posted by Marsha, Yorktown, VA on June 11, 2012:

Ms Nanci is the type of person whom, I fear, goes a bit out of her way to "find" things to be offended about. {Really? 90 gay friends? Ms Nanci, I think you might be upset because of something a tad more deep seated, but that's just my bit of pop psych for today....} What was she really upset about? The guy who had his Facebook page status changed, then had to take an entire YEAR to "convince" people it "just wasn't true!" when really, if there was no fire with all that smoke, why the need? Just post a simple explanation, and let it go. But Ms Nanci focused on your tagline, using {gasp} an implied act between two consensual gay men. What? This Is True using TRUTH?? She's right....that IS upsetting....

Posted by Mike from Dallas on June 11, 2012:

Poor taste tagline? Perhaps. Everything is poor taste in someone's mind. So what? I found it funny. But if I were reading this for the Very First Time, I might assume that Randy was homophobic. And I might never read any of his stuff again. But that's the risk anyone takes when publishing his thoughts. Doesn't seem to stop the thousands of print columnists and radio/TV commentators that continue to proliferate, so a couple of outraged readers just aren't an inherent danger.

But this is NOT the first time I've read Randy's stuff, and I didn't get a homophobic connotation from his tagline. See, it's a little something called a Track Record. I noticed long ago, I could drive the speed limit 364 days a year; yet on the 365th day, I don't pay attention and I go a little over the limit, ALL that safe driving doesn't count for diddly. I still have to pay the fine, and now I'm no longer a safe driver. Same with work. I could go in every day and work my butt off, but the manager never sees me. On the ONE day that it's slow, he comes in and sees me sitting on that butt and decides that I'm a worthless worker.

Track Record. That's Randy. He's consistent. He picks on EVERYBODY that makes mountains out of molehills. Frankly, I have to wonder WHAT kind of "friends" (and "family") that Rich Dewberry has that he still has to "defend" himself a year later.

Posted by Michelle, Arizona on June 11, 2012:

I got it; I laughed at the tag. I think that Nanci is being way overly sensitive, and that has warped her perception.

I liked the way that Jason Stackhouse (on True Blood in last night's episode) handled it when a gay man said that he loved him: He said, "I'm flattered, but I just don't swing that way," or words to that effect.

If called gay when you're not, just say, "I'm not gay, not that there's anything wrong with being gay."

Posted by David, Arizona on June 11, 2012:

I was going to let your accusation of copyright violation slide, but Michael above seems to take it seriously and you encouraged his misunderstanding of copyright law by saying you might send Nanci a bill for use of this story.

Nanci made fair use of one paragraph from one issue of True, for the non-commercial purpose of criticism and discussion. Given the topic, her use can be considered political speech which is given the highest protection against overreaching claims of copyright infringement.

True's existence depends upon the fair use doctrine. I wouldn't do anything to undermine it, if I was you.

---

You took my joke of sending her a bill too seriously. Fair Use is a slippery doctrine that can lead toward ruin if one's not careful, but I've never had any intention to prosecute Nanci's transgression. That said, TRUE does not make use of Fair Use, which allows limited quoting of copyrighted work! Facts cannot be copyrighted, only the way they are expressed can be. Rewriting the facts into a new story in a different style is not copyright infringement, and is not even Fair Use; it's simply using facts, which are in the public domain. -rc

Posted by Fernando, in Monterrey, Mexico. on June 11, 2012:

You should erase the memory of your phone before abandoning it anywhere (Best Buy included).

Maybe someone thought to be teaching a lesson by saying "I'm gay" in an obliviot's facebook.

Suing? come'on! Can't he just erase that post in his FB account? Can't he comment on that? this looks like a frivolous lawsuit already.

The tagline? Working as intended ;)

Oh my!

Who (men) have never been called gay? This guy has such a low self-esteem he needs to say out loud "I am not!"

Posted by Tim, PA on June 11, 2012:

I have been a long-time reader of your True e-mail newsletters, both paid and free at varying times (currently only free, hopefulyl back to paid soon). One of the things I like about your writing (and now those that you have brought on board to help) is that you are fair. As a Christian, there have been plenty of chances for me to be outraged when you poke fun at Christians. If that was all you did, then I probably would be. The truth is quite the opposite, though. You blast anyone and everyone, usally (in my opinion) deserving. There has been the occasional story that makes me wonder just what you were thinking, but they are few and far between.

The fact that you are not afraid to call out anyone that needs it, including those that choose to e-mail or comment (I do like hearing some of the angry letters -- they are quite entertaining), is what makes me look forward to each issue of True. Keep up the good work (as if I really need to say that). You make people think. Frankly, I think that scares the crap out of a bunch of them.

For what it's worth, I think you need to call Nanci on the legal carpet for the blatant copyright violation. It is pretty clear to me the terms under which I may share True -- but then I have also been known to think. :)

Posted by Chris, Seattle, WA on June 11, 2012:

The 24-carat question is whether or not you're dangling a carrot in front of someone, trying to get a response.

Oh, wait -- that's homophone baiting. Never mind.

---

Chris White is the former proprietor of the Top 5 list. Looks like he's testing material for his new project, HumorLabs. -rc

Posted by George, N.C. on June 11, 2012:

As a gay man, I thought the story was funny -- headline, tagline, and all. The only question I had was how many ex-spouses does this guy have.

A New York court, by the way, recently ruled that it's not slander to call a straight person gay: http://www.towleroad.com/2012/05/calling-a-straight-person-gay-is-not-slander-says-new-york-court.html

Posted by Camille, Montana on June 11, 2012:

Nanci in Maine is off in her own little world. The original This Is True story was not "gay-baiting" or homophobic.

I agree with most of the other commenters here, there are people who seem to look for reasons to be outraged.

I wonder more about Rich Dewberry in your This Is True article: who does he know that is asking him about a Facebook status post from over a year ago???

Coincidentally, also today a friend of mine who is a Christian minister put up a link to this blog post on his Facebook page: http://bobhyatt.me/2012/05/last-chance-for-a-win-win-on-same-sex-marriage/ . The post points out that both sides of the gay marriage debate are becoming entrenched in an all-or-nothing stance. As you pointed out, certain members of a community (any community, the LGBT community in this case) wanting more-than-equal rights gives a bad reputation to the rest of the community and any of the community's supporters who want equal rights. And some of those who are opposed to gay marriage are so strident in their views they are giving their own communities a bad reputation.

Ultimately, the government will probably have to get out of the marriage business and find a new term ("civil union" or whatever else) for that type of partnership. Currently there are legal ramifications to being married or not married, many of those having to do with inheritance, child custody, ownership or property, etc. I don't know all the details of the legalities and it varies by state, so each state will have to come up with their own solution.

Whatever solution each state comes to, claims from people like Nanci that any type of joking is offensive, gay-baiting, and homophobic only add to the problem. They don't help.

Also, thank you for posting a further explanation of Dewberry's lawsuit in your response to Steve in St Louis. I too had wondered who exactly he was planning to sue and for what.

---

That's just a guess on my part. The Denver Post reported:

Now, he has a lawyer and that lawyer, Linda Lee, said she's not sure how she'll proceed.

"The first thing I want to do is see what policies and procedures Best Buy has put in place to assure everyone that their private information will be protected," Lee said.

Minnesota-based Best Buy did not respond to requests for comment.

...so nothing specific has been announced that I've seen. -rc

Posted by Chuck, Houston on June 11, 2012:

Sorry, amigo -- that wasn't guts. That was caving to the gay agenda. Guts would have been standing on their hind legs and saying that "homophobe" is a meaningless word, designed to instantly trump anyone who disagrees with you, instead of actually trying to debate them about the subject.

---

I presume you're talking about JC Penney. Had they gone the other way, I'd call it "caving in to bigotry." I think they took the high road. -rc

Posted by Lance, Texas on June 11, 2012:

I'm perfectly happy to make fun of people who would benefit from it. There was a meme going around on FB - if you are lacking in one sense, your other senses become sharper to help compensate for that lack. That's why people with no sense of humor have a heightened sense of self-importance.

Posted by Matthew, Pennsylvania on June 11, 2012:

As a gay man, I take serious offense to the fact someone took offense to that. ;-) I think some people are out there searching for things to get offended about, and often get offended on behalf of others.

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Which I find condescending, since that implies the people they're complaining for aren't capable of defending themselves. -rc

Posted by Ron, N.Y. on June 11, 2012:

Was this a long time reader? And if so, what have they been reading? There's really not much else to say.

I've been a long time reader, although I need to sign up again with a new address so I don't get lost anymore. I don't always agree with things, but I usually understand the context and it prompts me to think quite often.

To people who can't understand or take a joke, then scr3w them. I'm getting too old for worrying about others' precious feelings. I don't want you editing (censoring) yourself, I like that you let things fly.

---

Thanks, Ron. Nanci is a six-year Premium subscriber. I presume she was on the free distribution for some period before that. -rc

Posted by Mark New York on June 11, 2012:

homophobic is just a made up word by the gay community to make the straight community feel bad. to each there own, you homosexuals wanna get married? that is all fine and dandy with me and dare I say MOST people. BUT it is NOT a real marriage. Marriage is between and MAN and a WOMAN. You ppl are damaging the sanctaty of being married. Call it something else like civil-union or something, Have all the rights of a marriage but just do not call it marriage. Oh, you say but that is not fair cause that is being different, well, you ARE different. Face it. Shit, I have a head injury and I am different than MOST others and I FACE it. We are all different and we all, or at least most of us, FACE it. Quit looking for specal treatment.

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I don't think they're looking for "specal" treatment, just equal. Marriage in the religious sense is one thing, but it also has a legal sense that creates benefits and rights that the unmarried cannot have. There's a legal term for that: discrimination. -rc

Posted by Corrie, Oregon on June 11, 2012:

I must admit that when I initially read that tag I was a little taken aback. It stayed with me for a few days. I thought about writing to you and saying something along the lines of "you should know better" but I decided that it was one of those things that perhaps I needed a little perspective on, so I let it be. I'm not 100% sure where I stand on it at the moment, but I do agree with you that equal rights are not special rights, and if I wasn't media-programmed to be so sensitive about it I probably wouldn't have given it a second thought.

I do believe in equality, so at this point I am glad I didn't message you with a reprimand and that, once again, I am being exposed to alternate perspectives that help make me a better person. So thanks for that.

Posted by Marsha, Yorktown, VA on June 11, 2012:

Well said. I SHOULD know better than to read "True" while drinking coffee, but that's what I was doing. What I did immediately AFTER was send the "homophobic slur" to my bisexual son, who thought it was hilarious. And I feel I need to qualify something I said about Ms Nanci having "90 gay friends": I have a bunch of gay friends, too, but I could no more give you an exact NUMBER than I could get to the moon by Friday. That just struck me as odd, her having this precise number, all ready to be offended at her offense....or whatever. Party on, Nance, but if being offended is an issue for you, perhaps "True" is NOT.

Posted by Craig, Melbourne Australia on June 11, 2012:

I insist that you only post opinions in your blog that I fully agree with. Actually, can't take the risk that you may post something I don't agree with (and that is obviously therefore wrong) -- I'm going to create my own blog and read only that exclusively.

As for your tag, I laughed. Oops.

Posted by Michael; La Grande, OR on June 11, 2012:

You have always taken pot shots at any-, and every-, one who needs a wakeup/shakeup, or who simply needs to have a little hot air removed from their over-inflated egos. In my book, that makes you an "Equal Opportunity Offender".

I, too, take shots at any humorous target I find, but I'm always careful not to aim my humor exclusively at a particular group. More than once, an explanation using that phrase has saved me from a poke in the nose. I hereby grant you the right, in perpetuity, and with no restrictions, to call yourself an "Equal Opprotunity Offender".

Carry on, Randy.

Posted by Ben of Houston on June 11, 2012:

I have the utmost respect for you, and I'll certainly agree with you that Nanci is being an idiot. However, I find myself compelled to join in the conversation about gay marriage here.

I'm not against gay marriage for some tawdry nonsense like it would damage marriage or destroy the sanctity of whatever. The entirety of Hollywood has done that quite well enough. I'm against gay marriage for simple purposes of definition. A marriage is a union between a man and a woman. That is the beginning and end of my argument, and I cannot debate anyone on it any more than I can debate that the sky is blue. I don't understand how refusing to change the definition of marriage because it does not fit into the lifestyle choice of a group of people is denying anyone a civil right.

You have a way with words, Randy. Perhaps you can explain it in a way that I can understand (I'm not being facetious here, I'm serious). How is refusing to redefine marriage to accommodate someone's chosen lifestyle denying them a civil right?

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I don't believe anyone "chooses" the LGBT "lifestyle" but rather that it is thrust upon them. Why would someone choose to take on that role? Exactly when -- at what age -- did you *choose* to be straight? If you didn't make such a choice, why do you assume others did? And if it's not a choice, should you denied the rights and benefits afforded to those with a license from the state because of who you are? Why should anyone else be denied those equal rights and benefits (and responsibilities!)? -rc

Posted by Jordan, Calif. on June 12, 2012:

I think government should get out of the marriage business, period. Almost everything associated with "marriage" can be covered through contract law -- the two exceptions I can think of being tax treatment and the spousal testimony rule, and those seem manageable. Create a set of contracts that's assumed for any existing marriage and for any marriage imported from another jurisdiction, and otherwise expunge the concept from the law. I'm sure that by the time the change takes effect, Nolo Press will have a book out with boilerplate contracts to sign.

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In response to a 2007 story, a Catholic priest argued that the church needed to get out of the marriage business entirely. His logic is good. -rc

Posted by Miguel, CA on June 12, 2012:

I do not see the homophobia here, but you are a complete idiophobe. I am incensed at your continued harassment of stupid people. At every opportunity you humiliate them by accurately reporting their stupidity and then you cruelly punish them with your comments. You attack stupid people of all races, colors, creeds, and sexual orientation. (@Tim, PA - Randy is not abusing Christians for being Christian. He's abusing stupid people who happen to be Christian.)

As the legal counsel for the Association to Stop Stupid Hate, Abuse and Torture, I call on you to cease and desist all actions ridiculing these people. The vast majority of stupid people are stupid due to innate conditions and therefore should be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As they say, "Ignorance is temporary, but you can't cure stupid."

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What an honor! I had no idea that such a high official of ASSHAT was reading TRUE! But I don't think the TRUE treatment is about heaping abuse; rather, it's shining a light on the obliviots (or, in many cases, smart people acting like obliviots) so that others can more clearly see what's going on. -rc

Posted by Nanci, Maine on June 12, 2012:

Just for clarification: I know I have 90 gay friends because my list-serve tells me that is the number of subscribers. Actually, having been an out lesbian for over 35 years, I'm quite sure I have more than 90.

I didn't mean to cause such a sh*tstorm. I merely let Randy know that I thought that tagline was over the top. I am, as is he and all of you, entitled to my opinion. My "outraged please-back-me-up introduction" amounted to this: "I'm in touch with the author of this newsletter about this article. Would appreciate your thoughts on the tagline."

And thank you, David; I know Fair Use is a slippery slope but I think I'd win this one.

I'm not going to unsubscribe in a panty-bunched huff. I've been reading TRUE for years and intend to continue to do so -- in fact, to PAY to do so.

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I did and do appreciate that you're not plugging your ears and stomping away, as many before you have (aka, unsubscribing). I do absolutely agree you have a right to your opinion, too. That said, I maintain that you do your own cause damage, not good, by choosing this as a battle front. You're fighting an ally, not an enemy, and that always causes more harm than good. -rc

Posted by Kirby, Ohio on June 12, 2012:

Straight talk is so uncool today and that is a shame. Oh -- I mean correct speak is used instead of honest opinions.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on June 13, 2012:

Ben of Houston says, "I'm against gay marriage for simple purposes of definition. A marriage is a union between a man and a woman."

There is no "definition" of marriage. Anthropologists have been arguing for decades over an established definition that fits all cultures, governments, and religions. Under Islam, a man is permitted up to 4 wives, so the singular definition, already, is incorrect. Although rare, polyandry still does exist, where a woman has more than one husband. Actually, it's a function of a culture where women are less available, and two or more men may share a single wife. Avoids them killing each other off in cultures where there are already few in population.

While the Bible has passages condemning men who lie with other men (nothing about women who lie with other women, though), there is actually nothing in the Bible that defines marriage. As for government laws, those are routinely changed and updated to reflect new definitions as the society evolves. Even linguistically, definitions evolve. There is no singular definition of anything that is fixed and forever unchanging.

And the arguments about people marrying animals or children is without merit. Gay marriage, and associated rights, can not be extended outside the legal union of two adults. By law, marriage must consist of the consent of both parties (so much for shotgun weddings), and animals do not have the capacity to consent. Same with children. Even between opposite sexes, children are legally denied the capacity for consent.

And I don't even understand the "defense of marriage" concept. MY marriage requires no defense. Two men getting married won't affect MY marriage in the least. It doesn't even create any burden on society to extend legal benefits to a partner as to a spouse. My wife and I both work. Each of us carries employer insurance that benefits both of us. Neither employer is unduly burdened by it, as both insurance plans coordinate together to cover us. Not like we're paid twice for the same service.

I visited a co-worker's home where he and his wife allow their cats to roam the dining table, the kitchen counter, etc. While I'm personally repulsed by such a concept, it IS their home and they can do what they want. I can just avoid their home if it bothers me that much. Same with gay marriage. Even if I'm repulsed by it, nothing requires me to witness what goes on inside their home. People carrying on cell phone conversations in public restrooms is much more repulsive to me.

Posted by Brandon - St. Louis, MO on June 14, 2012:

Thoughts in a nutshell: I'm a gay man. I didn't like the tagline. I thought it was low-hanging fruit and low-brow. It, however, did not offend me. I do not for a moment think of you as homophobic. My criticism of the tagline is simply that it wasn't up to the usual high-brow standard I expect from True. I rarely check to see who authors various stories, but I was disappointed that it was you.

In other words, no complaints, just disappointed. Only someone who takes him/herself far too seriously would ever actually be offended or complain.

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I would find it difficult to believe that there was any issue where every tagline was perfect from any specific reader's point of view. That's the beauty of 10-12 stories each week: if you don't like one, there's more that may be more to your taste (no pun intended). -rc

Posted by Michael - Irvine CA on June 15, 2012:

If you only slammed one particular group, I would call that bias or racism. What I've discovered, however, is that you spread the wealth pretty equally. Yes, I've occasionally thought you went too far, but oh well! Keep up the good work!

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And I still don't feel like I "slammed" gays with the comment. -rc

Posted by Mia, Victoria, BC, Canada on June 15, 2012:

Going back to the initial story (if I'm not confused about which story we started with on this page), congratulations to JC Penney for running that ad -- and I think it's rather sad that running an ad showing gay fathers is something that needs any congratulations.

Posted by Eric, Nebraska on June 15, 2012:

After I read through the article a second time, a thought occurred to me. Why didn't he just delete the post? You can delete posts on Facebook. People puzzle the hell out of me. (I realize that isn't the point of what's being talked about but it would have saved him a lot of aggravation.)

Posted by Dave, MO Ozarks on June 16, 2012:

The US constitution says "life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness". Period! WTH is up with people demanding that OTHERS live according to THEIR expectations?!? Sorry, but BS!!! Live your life your way; don't define or live anyone elses life for them!!

I know this country was founded by religious radicals & political exiles...but it's the 21st century now. Get over it, grow up people!

(Sorry, Randy ... just had to say something I have no problem with anyone with an open mind; only with those who are closed minded.)

I've been a long time subscriber (recently off work) and I love and support your emails!

Posted by Matt Fort Worth, TX on June 16, 2012:

If a LGBT individual had written the tagline as opposed to you, Randy, do you think that Nanci would have been as offended?

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Hard to say, but I doubt it. And your point is clear: which of us is biased, then? Which is why I think it's nuts for African Americans to use the "N-word" and then complain about anyone else using it. If it's a terrible word, it's a terrible word -- period. -rc

Posted by Patrick, Madison, IN. on June 16, 2012:

What's the BIG DEAL here? A tag line that offened? Geeze! You can't please everyone and you'd be a fool to try.

Posted by Bonnie, Florida on June 16, 2012:

I think most comics or humorists do use the most eye catching headers, certainly to stir up the audience for a must see follow up of the article. It isn't like the article itself said anything pejorative. And if they have any history with you they will know that you are not phobic anything. While you may not practice every form of human expression you promote a live and let live philosophy. As long as the basic rule of "nobody gets hurt" is followed it seems to be humane and reasonable. But if you are looking for elephants, you will find them, same with homophobes. Some people just want to be outraged.

Posted by Jim, Cardiff, UK on June 16, 2012:

In the UK we have had civil ceremonies for gay couples for several years now. There is a debate at present about gay marriages being allowed in church, and society hasn't crumbled as a result. I don't care who does what to/with whom in their own homes -- provided all parties are happy with it, what does it matter? Leviticus also bans you from eating shrimps and mussels, by the way, so the Bible isn't a great deal of help here.

More importantly, whether people like your taglines or not, freedom of speech is more important than ruffled feathers. Considering the hoopla and stickybeaking most gays have to put up with, having a go at you for your tagline seems a little OTT to say the least.

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I presume you mean Over The Top there. Yep, just as many have been over the years, and just as admitted above. -rc

Posted by Jim in Winnipeg on June 16, 2012:

RE: Geoff - Los Angeles "To paraphrase my father, Americans have an infinite capacity for outrage."

You do indeed but you get outraged over all the wrong things. It's been eight years and your courts are still arguing over Janet Jackson's nipple. And I see on Survivor that full frontal, bending over in front of the camera cleavage is great but side-boobage cleavage gets blurred out.

I am well aware that we Canadians have our faults, but seriously, while your entire school system gets driven into bankruptcy and you give triple life sentences to college students who sell small amounts of drugs to each other while billion dollar crooks get off with not even a slap, nipple slips throw the entire country into convulsions? You people are seriously screwed up.

And to return to topic -- I am completely on your side on the gay-baiting charge. I know when outrage is appropriate and when it is not.

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We are in agreement about American prudery. Politicians rail over it -- and then are arrested in airport restrooms after "foot-tapping" to the guy in the next stall, or sexting juveniles. Maybe some day this country will grow up, but I'm doubting it will be in my lifetime. -rc

Posted by Dan -Georgetown, TX on June 16, 2012:

In the recent primary election, our local DA lost to his female opponent. When I mentioned the fact on another site, I was immediately accused of being a liberal-communist-progressive etc because I had "brought up the femanist issue by referring to her as 'her'. Oh, did I mention that it was the REPUBLICAN primary? Lots of liberal-communist-progressive there.

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You're either with them, or you're against them. -rc

Posted by Jim from IA on June 16, 2012:

I don't think they're looking for "specal" treatment, just equal. Marriage in the religious sense is one thing, but it also has a legal sense that creates benefits and rights that the unmarried cannot have. There's a legal term for that: discrimination. -rc

All laws are "discrimination"...if you speed you're ticketed, if you don't speed, you're not. ...if you have money you can acquire goods and services, if you don't, you cannot. ...if you are a good writer that makes people think, many will read your stuff, if not, you won't have a following. In regard to that last one, I'll keep reading (the free version). =:-$

Posted by Dusty in Dallas on June 16, 2012:

First of all, Thank You for sharing this story with the rest of us, the non-payng subscribers. Seeing what we missed may push me over the top this time to upgrade! Count me among the coffee-nose-snarfers from your tagline in this story! I enjoy your stupid is as stupid does attitude, regardless of any pigeon holing readers may wish to impose upon the participants. If (when) the story is a little too close for comfort I sometimes do a little self reflection, but only after enjoying the humor you present.

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It doesn't escape me that those who send the most indignant complaints laughed along at everyone else, but when I dare to skewer something close to their home, they get all huffy. The former is the entertainment part of TRUE, and the latter is the thought-provoking part. I particularly appreciate those who are willing to be provoked to think. -rc

Posted by Bob, Illinois on June 16, 2012:

Your point on "equality" is well-taken. When I was a young adult living in Chicago, a driver cut me off on the Eisenhower expressway. I had not seen the driver, so did not know if it was a male/female or white/black. Being alone in my car I used some choice expletives. Later as traffic patterns changed, I passed that car and realized the driver was black (I am white). I felt a real tinge of guilt over using that kind of language on a black person. It didn't take too long for me to realize that if I couldn't call a black man an SOB when he deserved it, THAT was racist.

Posted by Fred (New York) on June 16, 2012:

Perhaps a little off topic, but I always wonder how people can repeatedly mix something like race, which is beyond ones control, with behavioural choices. If LGBT behavior was genetic, or evolutionary, wouldn't it be extinct? -- the ability to reproduce by artificial means is only a recent possibility. Common sense (and actual biology) tells us it's a chosen behavior.

Moreover, if I was born a paedophile then why can't I marry the 6 year old that loves me back. Who are you to say the child doesn't want to marry me. Who decides paedophile is wrong and LGBT is al-right? The .3% LGBT population? Yeah, the noisy .3% (point three percent).

I do enjoy the thought provoking nature of your stories & comments, and sincerely hope my post also provokes some though -- although I do expect a heated backlash from a certain group. Let's not group genetically inherent issues (race) in the same class as behavioural choice issues.

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Your arguments are illustrated by the graphic at the bottom of the essay. They're pretty dumb, right up there with "what's to stop people from marrying animals?" Why is it so difficult to understand consenting adults entering into contracts? How does a "6-year-old child" fit into "consenting adult"? Also, I gave a source for my 4% figure; where is yours for your 0.3% figure? You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. -rc

Posted by Walter, Florida on June 16, 2012:

The only problem with the post is who is paying for my new keyboard. It wasn't coffee, it was a glass of wine.

Posted by Dave, Portland Oregon on June 16, 2012:

If you have any bias, it is a bias towards comments to make us think!

Thanks for including the link to the HeroicStories posting. I hadn't seen that before and that story helps reinforce the very positive idea of accepting people as individuals and not letting labels get in the way, which to me is the approach to life that makes the most sense. I am dismayed that not everyone thinks like this, but we are all individuals, after all.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on June 16, 2012:

Really, gay marriage WILL become legalized. What's surprising is that it's taking so long. And it will be under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause: "...nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

It was the 14th Amendment that provided the basis for Brown v Board of Education in 1954 that removed racial segregation in schools. And it provided the basis for Reed v Reed in 1971 that removed sex discrimination in the laws. It provided the basis for Lawrence v Texas in 2003 that ruled any sexual activity that is legal for heterosexual behavior is legal for homosexual behavior as well. Private homosexual behavior is now legal in all 50 states and the Territories.

I can only imagine that it hasn't provided the basis YET for legalizing homosexual marriages only because the Supreme Court is reticent about upsetting the popular status quo, so they're dragging their feet. When thrust in front of them, there's not going to be much for them to argue about. I've already covered the fallacies that marriage to animals and/or children would be next, since marriage in the U.S. requires the Informed Consent of both parties. Animals are incapable, and children are legally prohibited.

Like it or not, it's going to come to pass.

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And why not? If your marriage is so fragile that someone else's love damages it, your marriage is already damaged beyond repair. -rc

Posted by Eileen in San Jose on June 16, 2012:

Gay, straight, female, male, blond, brunette, redhead, black, white, brown, yellow, tall, short,fat, skinny, young, middle-aged, old, innocent, guilty, Pagan, Muslim, Jew, Hindi, atheist, Christian...and any other labels one can think of...are just that...labels pasted on for categorization. Some are by choice, some not. We need all different types around for contrast. How would Shaq know he was tall without short folks around for comparison? We have many aspects that are not within our control. The easiest part of our existence to control is how we behave toward others. Choosing to be kind and tolerant just seems to me to be the sensible choice. I think it's harder to hate someone who has chosen to be kind to you. To quote my favorite bumper sticker, let's COEXIST.

Posted by Lynne, Troutdale, OR on June 16, 2012:

After reading TRUE for many years I've come to the conclusion that there's no limit to human stupidity; I read TRUE for the puns.

"Tasteful" humor elicits a polite chuckle; thanks, Randy, for rockin' guffaws!

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I'd say it's "less filling" too, but size doesn't matter. -rc

Posted by David, Belton, Missouri on June 16, 2012:

1. I've noticed we are more likely to get away with "offensive" jokes if we cover them with "no pun intended."

2. The comment refers to something factual. Oral sex does leave a taste in the mouth, and some (gay or heterosexual) practitioners who love it and love their partners still describe it as an unpleasant taste. So how is that homophobic or insensitive? It seems to me that it's a joke more insensitive toward Mr. Dewberry than it is toward homosexuals. Still, it's just a joke. All of the jokes on True are at somebody's expense. We should stop reading if we don't think making fun of real people is "fair."

Posted by Des in Oz on June 16, 2012:

Regarding Randy's comments -- no problem.

Regarding the underlying issue of free speech, vs fair speech, equality vs "Special equality" -- well that's a whole other issue.

I read an article a while back basically claiming that schools were to reach a certain "score" in LGBT issues -- where the range of scores started at blatent homophobia, and the top of the range was active encouragement into the lifestyle. "Live and let live" mentality only rated 2-3 on a scoer of 0-7. In short, the scores the schools were required to each (minimum 5) meant the schools were supposed to actively defend and decry anything which would cause offence to LGBT sentiments -- basically PC (Political Correctness) with a LGBT supercharger.

Like it or not, Nanci's mentality is being propagated -- and few leaders seem to really stand up and say "Enough!! -- the pendulum is swinging too far" for fear of being labelled as homophobic, rascist, or "anti (insert current lobby)". Last time I heard the real issues at hand was for HUMAN rights -- not "other rights". So if their lobbyists ask for my vote -- the first question I ask is "are they Human?" Then ask what's wrong with their current human rights, and why they want special rights.

Posted by Fred (New York) on June 16, 2012:

True, one should not give figures without reference to statistics. The truth is, it is not known for sure, and both sides have their agenda to exaggerate the figures - I just get a sense that it is less than 1% (THAT is my personal opinion).

So who has determined that two consenting adults can do whatever they like, but a child can't? Is it common sense? Says who? The word marriage has a definition, isn't that common sense? How is changing the definition common sense. Creating a new word for a new behaviour, that's common sense.

I notice you steered clear of the behavioural choice issue. Is that because there is no real argument? There are many behaviours that seem natural but are discouraged -- like walking around naked or killing someone to take their stuff. So who decides what is ok and what is not?

Food for thought.

Even if we say "as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else's rights or harm someone" -- who has the right to decide that? are we not all equal? So who is the greater one to decide what is right or wrong? How about nature? This behavior doesn't exist in nature.

Being equal also does not mean we should change the definition of words.

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The Wikipedia article I cited isn't a wild-assed guess, it has references. I see you ignored (in other words, probably didn't read) that I've already addressed the "lifestyle" "choice" issue in a previous comment. Nothing else here is worthy of my time to rebut. -rc

Posted by Cheryl, Rochester on June 16, 2012:

The tagline was not homophobic. Tasteless and crude, yes, but not homophobic. Your track record more than shows the only people you're against are idiots and an equal opportunity mocker/offender. Occasionally, things you've said have rubbed me the wrong way, and my response was to mentally shrug and move on to the next story. You're an intelligent, thoughtful man who calls it as he sees it and the only bias apparent in True is a bias against idiots.

I disagree that the church should get out of the marriage business. In Christianity, it's a Big Deal and the Bible makes it clear marriage is (supposed to be) the earthly representation of Christ's relationship with the Church. A religious ceremony should always be an option.

I think what needs to be done is establishing, at the state level, the legal definition of marriage as a union between two consenting adults (in as many words). It's general enough to cover non-hetero couples while excluding beastiality, child marriage, marriage to inanimate objects, etc. (not that I think we're in danger of those things becoming a problem anytime soon), the latter clearly being important to many opposed to gay marriage. At the federal level, the government has no businesses mucking about in this area because the Tenth Amendment makes it clear the issue of marriage is to be handled at the state level. I find it interesting so many of those who are all State's Rights in pretty much every other area have no problem with an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act, or similar instances of the federal government interfering in the lives of citizens.

Any White, straight Christian who complains about persecution and being in the minority needs to get outside their comfort zone and travel overseas so they can see what genuine persecution and truly being in the minority are all about. Are Christians given a hard time on occasion in America? Yes. Is that persecution? Yes, but what's at risk? What peril are they in? They aren't in danger of losing their lives, their livlihood, their home, their family. There's no danger of their wife and daughter being raped, their husband and sons dragged off and shot because of what they believe, or having to flee government troops in the middle of the night and travel several hundred miles on foot to the nearest refugee camp or safe place. Whites might be a minority of the population now, but you need only look at who holds the positions of power and influence in America to know power still rests very much with White people -- and the huge majority of those White people are men. Christianity is not in danger of being wiped out, and Christmas is just as secure and safe. To see those things requires associating with people who aren't White Christians, a mind that is open, and to let go of long-held beliefs if the facts show you're wrong.

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Just to clarify, I wasn't the one to propose that the church get out of the marriage business. That was a Catholic priest (in response to a story). -rc

Posted by Joe NC on June 16, 2012:

I appreciate talking with people who have differing points of view, makes for interesting conversation. But when the conversation become a (one-sided) sermon, I have the same right to tune you out as you have already done to me.

I don't want any "special" treatment, I am smart enough to secure my rights. What does really grind my gears is to have someone from a moral minority get all high-and-mighty about what a bad person I am? "Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone". "Judge not, lest you be judged", and all that.

I have several friends who are zero Kinsey's and have told me they are not offended by either sex telling them they are attractive. It's just a compliment. The ones that DO get offended are usually not quite so confident, so the attention might somehow "convert" them?

And finally, people REALLY need to loosen up and learn how to take a joke? Makes life a lot more fun.

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I'm unclear who has "tuned you out" since you've not made any previous comment, but it appears we're in good agreement here. -rc

Posted by Ben of Houston on June 16, 2012:

I know you beat me to this, Randy, but please let me this reply.

Fred of New York, shut up. Seriously. There are rational reasons, tenuous reasons, and there's argument to the ridiculous. Why this issue seems to force people to the final one, I don't know. While does have some "slippery slope" aspects as far as polygamy is concerned, the pedophile case is sheer nonsense. You insult and debase your position by bringing it up.

However, to reply to the others, I must disagree with the main point of your reply, Randy. Being homosexual might not be a choice. However, living the lifestyle and choosing to dedicate your life to someone of the same sex is very much a choice. We have reason and are not slave to our passions. Being married is a choice, and living in a homosexual relationship is very much a lifestyle choice.

Mike of Dallas, you make an interesting point about international and historical marriage customs. However, when I use the English term "marriage", it refers to the institution of marriage as practiced in the English speaking world, a monogamous union between a man and a woman.

Long story short, I see no reason to really oppose it, and I find those marching in the streets about this fools. However, I still must disagree that this is discrimination.

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Sure, people can choose not to be married. And I defend that choice. But that's their choice. They're not being forced into that by the government. I simply argue that gays should be able to make that choice too, as well as straights. To deny that choice is, again in a legal sense, discrimination. That doesn't seem to be a hard thing to understand, not counting Fred in New York. -rc

Posted by RangerJim in Houston on June 16, 2012:

David, Belton, Missouri: Thanks. I was wondering if anyone would bring up the fact that a lot of hetros practice fellatio, so the "bad taste" tag goes both ways. ;-)

Eileen in San Jose: Your comment reminded me of a couple of quotes from one of my favorite philosophers, Robert A. Heinlein. "Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."

And, "When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives."

To which I would add, "this you must not do," to his list.

Posted by Frank, Bronx NY on June 17, 2012:

*sigh* I should know better than to even read these discussions anymore, Because, by now...

+ I know what I can expect of TRUE's readership,
+ I know that the vast majority of what's said will be level-headed, sane, and sensible,
+ I know that even though the reader at the center of the complain-a-thon du jour may indeed walk their statement back, or come to a less charged & more nuanced view after reflection/discussion (as Nanci does here), their view will have collected a comment or three of agreement/support/escalation. There are better odds of every single commenter being simultaneously struck by lightning, than those people budging one iota.
+ (There is the possibility of them doubling down on the unreasonableness/outrage/ire, which grows roughly proportional to how loudly, absolutely, and completely they're disagreed with by everyone else.)

Still, like a lemming over the cliff's edge, I make my way down the comments. And as the conversation unfolds pretty much how it's sketched out in my head, there's always at least one surprise. Occasionally a pleasant one, some well-made point or clever observation. Alas, far more often it's a comment I read that delivers, like a slap on the face, a harsh reminder that no matter how far we come as a society, we never get to completely leave behind all the same old crap.

Here, it was the comment from Chuck in Houston, who still talks about the "gay agenda" like that's ever been any sort of thing, like it would ever in a million damn years include worrying about things like how JC Penney hawks their crappy products at straight middle America, or like an "agenda" somehow has the clout to bend a national retailer to its... will? (How can an agenda even have a will?)

Chuck, there's never has been and never will be a "gay agenda", just like there's no "christian agenda" or "black agenda" or a "male agenda". Social "classes" (terrible word) don't have secret meetings where they lay out their plot for world domination and scheme on how to realize it! That's something an organization could do, but it requires just that: organization. Hierarchy. Structure. There really is no Head Queer In Charge. Just like you, as a male (I assume, from your name) don't have a Male Supervisor you report to, or Man Quotas you have to meet every month!

The Big Scary Gays are not out to mess with your mind or push their agenda on you. I guarantee at least 99.9999% of us spend no time at all worrying about your life or how you live it. Nor do we have a unified agenda, even for our own communities!

What's my "gay agenda"? Probably rougly the same as your "straight agenda": Live my life fully, and with purpose. Share it with the people I hold close to me. Contribute to society, and to the human experience. Try to leave the world better than I found it. And, perhaps, find soemone I love and would like to partner my life with, rather than making the journey alone.

Sorry if that somehow messes up your agenda. I honestly can't comprehend how it would.

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See? You just confirmed it. There is a Gay Agenda! Now, who do I report to in order to be assigned and report back on my monthly Man Quota? -rc

Posted by Matt, Fort Worth, TX on June 17, 2012:

An F.Y.I. for Fred from New York:

Homosexual tendencies do occur in nature.

A wikipedia page (it has sources too):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

And a National Geographic article about such occurences:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0722_040722_gayanimal.html

Now THERE'S some Food for Thought....

Posted by Emilio, Mumbai on June 18, 2012:

On a different note, I have somehow never understood why people put in a disclaimer "pun not intended." Methinks when the pun is genuinely not intended it would be hard for the writer to spot it in the first place.

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I think you're right: it's mostly to point out the pun. -rc

Posted by MaryAnn - Alabama on June 18, 2012:

"If your marriage is so fragile that someone else's love damages it, your marriage is already damaged beyond repair. -rc"

Considering me applauding.

Posted by Dori in Maryland on June 18, 2012:

I especially loved the pictures you added from Haley. Thanks.

I'd like to add my agreement to those who said that government should get out of the "marriage business." YES! I think government should sanction unions for the sake of the legal ramifications. I don't especially care whether they're called civil unions, partnerships, or whatever; I DO care that such a union is available to any consenting adult.

Those who insist that a marriage is a union sanctified by whichever Deity they believe in, should consider this: there are many religions that do not recognize the marriages performed by clergy of other faiths. I am a Jewish woman, married to a Catholic man. We are both in our early 60's, and have raised two wonderful daughters. We are also both active in our respective congregations; my husband is an usher in his church, and I am co-chair of the Social Action Committee in my synagogue.

Our wedding ceremony, nearly 30 years ago, was performed by both a rabbi and a priest. Since it was important to my husband we did all the paperwork for the church (other than promising to raise the kids Catholic -- they were both raised solely as Jews), and we have a valid Catholic marriage. Judaism, however, does not recognize the marriage of a Jew to a non-Jew, and in the eyes of my congregation, I have a civil marriage.

My faith, and my faith ALONE, has the right to decide whether I'm married or not. It does not have the right to pass judgement on the marriage of someone who does not accept its' beliefs, nor does anyone who accepts another religion have the right to determine my status.

Maryland passed the right for LGBT people to marry this year. A coalition led by a Ministers' Alliance is putting this issue to referendum in November to try to overturn the new law, which will not take effect until, I think, January. I'm proud to say that I will be attending a meeting tomorrow evening of an interfaith coalition working to defend the law and defeat the referendum, as a representative of my congregation.

Posted by Pete in VA on June 18, 2012:

I sincerely hope Nanci sees this and truly understands it -- but I will not hold my breath: "I stand up against those who would deny black people, Asian people, Latino people, and LGBT people their basic rights, such as the right to marry each other -- and blacks, for instance, were denied the right to marry whites in my own country, and in my own lifetime, and we finally put a stop to that crap. But I also stand up against those who would demand to be treated better than others too, whether they're white, or black, or Asian, or Latino, or LGBT."

And a reply to Fred from New York: "So who has determined that two consenting adults can do whatever they like, but a child can't?" Dictionary.com defines a child as "a person between birth and full growth; a boy or girl: books for children." They key part is "between birth and full growth". IOW a child lacks the maturity and experience to make a decision of the magnitude you've been suggesting. To suggest otherwise is a fallacy.

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Nanci did at least come to the page to make a comment. I have to assume she at least skimmed my essay. -rc

Posted by Erin in CA on June 18, 2012:

A large part of the reason I am a True subscriber is because you make fun of everyone equally (we all have our True-worthy moments). Am I offended sometimes? Yes, but that's part of the reason I keep reading. Keep it up!

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Unfair! You have an open mind! -rc

Posted by bandit, Albuquerque on June 18, 2012:

When I read the story, I was first amazed that employees at a national chain store could be so stupid, but then if folks were bright, you would be looking at other lines of work.

The tagline? I thought you had outdone yourself. Punny, low-taste, unexpected -- perfect. I almost ran outside to the parking lot screaming and holding my nose, but I was at work. Sigh.

The thing about marriage that people don't seem to get: All Marriages Are Civil Unions! (speaking about the USA).

The license to marry comes from the State. Preachers (of any religion) MUST get their marry/bury license from the State, exactly like a justice of the peace. A marriage is a sanctioned Contract by the State -- that is why you need legal proceedings to get divorced. Why a contract (IANAL)? From a practical viewpoint, it is basically the only thing that works in practice - just look at high-profile divorces.

(Note that common-law marriages are the *result* of State law -- some states basically say that if you *act* married, you *are* married, even to the point of simply registering once at a hotel as a married couple.)

So, as a Christian, I don't see any problem with consenting adults getting married. I even know some "poly" groups, and could be persuaded that they should be legal unions, although I think any man with more than one wife is foolish (said after 21 years of marriage).

I have yet to find one person who can tell me how *anybody else's* marriage is going to affect mine. I will conceded to immediate family, but that has nothing to do with the gender of the people.

Keep up the great puns. Spider would be proud. I rate it a full round of glasses!!

Posted by Lee-anne - Mount Gambier on June 19, 2012:

I have read all the comments and have noticed that there is some discussion as to whether homosexuality is a choice or is genetic. I don't actually understand why it matters. Whether a person chooses to be gay or not is irrelevant. How does the marriage between two people whether of the same sex or not affect anyone else. Homosexuality is not a contagious disease, it is not catching. What two consentual people do in their own home is absolutely no business of anyone else.

Also I would just like to add, I feel the inclusion of peadophelia in the discussion is offensive, it has nothing to do with the subject.

Posted by Robert, Pleasant Hill, CA on June 19, 2012:

"The thing that puzzles you is an accepted saying that happens to be impossible. The phrase is 'hurt somebody else'. We choose, ourselves, to be hurt or not to be hurt, no matter what. Us who decides. Nobody else."
-Donald Shimoda in Richard Bach's "Illusions"

"I'm not going to guess what your personal line of decency is. I cross my own from time to time, it's how I know I still have one."
-Daniel Tosh

To the gripers, get over yourselves. Just because you don't like something or you disagree with it, it isn't wrong or bad or anything except what it is.

We all have our personal tastes and comfort levels. If you are taken out of yours, consider it an opportunity for enlightenment and growth rather than a personal offense to your boundaries, which no one except you knows.

I don't agree with or like everything that's said on True. I don't have to. But I "get it" and use it as an opportunity to learn and stretch. So I read every word.

I don't often read comments but these intrigued me. The more I read the more open-minded I found myself. Hearing varied points of view on some topics that I thought I'd made up my mind about changed my mind -- not completely in all cases, but enough.

I appreciate that and the fact that we can all say what we want.

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Or, to put it another way, you thought about it. That's a good thing, as you have observed nicely. -rc

Posted by Dan, Massachusetts on June 19, 2012:

A bad taste in his mouth? From what I've heard it's not a bad taste at all -- a little salty perhaps....

But then again I'm an oyster lover.

Posted by Teresa, Shreveport, LA on June 19, 2012:

In the spirit of this thread, I truly, honestly hope this is a joke, but I fear it isn't.
http://offthebench.nbcsports.com/2012/06/18/man-wants-buckeye-removed-as-ohio-state-nickname-because-the-buckeye-tree-is-bisexual/

Seriously? Have we, as a society and a country, completely lost our minds?

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I think it's a joke, and a good one. But even if he was serious, that would mean he, not society, had lost his mind. -rc

Posted by Lucy, Texas on June 19, 2012:

"There isn't enough information here. Are we talking about rights as defined by the Constitution?"

This person needs a wake up call. It sounds like she may believe the only rights we have are defined by the Constitution. She needs to learn about the Bill of Rights and read the words of the authors who indicated that the purpose of the Constitution was not to define human rights but place limits on the government.

Come to think of it, more than a few of our politicians need this lesson as well.
Keep up the good work, you homophobe baiting liberty proclaiming fool. You are awesome.

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To expand on your thoughts a bit, the framers of the Constitution argued over the Bill of Rights, with many saying it was unnecessary to do things like spell out a freedom of speech or a freedom to bear arms because of course anything not prohibited in the Constitution was already a de facto right "endowed by their creator". And yes, most of our politicians -- and citizens -- need to be reminded of that. -rc

Posted by Frank, Bronx NY on June 20, 2012:

Hahaha! Oh dear, I guess I did slip up and reveal our big secret!

Worst part is, I'd had every intention of writing it as, "What's my personal 'gay agenda'?" specifically to avoid giving anything away. Unfortunately, my sloppy editing omitted the critical word. (Which is in keeping with the overall quality, I noticed upon review; I can't believe how sloppy my typing was!)

Of course, my slip-up in turn led to your very amusing response, so all things considered I think I'm glad things went as they did. :-)

Well, now that the cat's out, I don't see any harm in giving the TRUE community a little glimpse of our inner workings. There is, indeed, a Gay Agenda. In fact, since all us Teh Gheys™ are young, hip cyber-warriors (as you know), it's probably no surprise that our agenda is as plugged-in, connected, and online as we are!

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Randy [ ;-) ], I present: The Homosexual Agenda!

It's quite handy! If you explore a bit, you may even notice another confirmation: Yes, it's true, we really do recruit! There are even quotas. (It feels so good to finally let the truth out!)

One final note, regarding the JC Penney ad. For the perfect "happy ending" to that story, see this lovely piece The Advocate ran from Dad Conner (the one on the right), writing about the response he and Todd received after their ad ran.

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I replaced your Google calendar URL with the one I ran earlier this year -- I have no idea whose calendar that is, and whether it might change, and I can be pretty sure about the other. -rc

Posted by gregory, ny on June 20, 2012:

I had a real estate agent who told me something thought provoking. Discussing the "gay marriage" thing, he said: "thank god there's no gay marriage! I'm gay, and I by the number of partners I've had, if they all sued for divorce, I'd be bankrupt now!"

Now if he can make and tell jokes about it, why the heck is an "outsider" concerned? Intelligent people get jokes, idiots don't, the end. That's kind of the purpose of "this is true", isn't it? To point out the foolish behaviour of people? C'mon! Grow Up.

Posted by Garth in Everett, WA on June 20, 2012:

Just thought I'd comment on the whole "choice" thing: So what if it is a choice to be gay? Personally I have no doubt that it isn't; I certainly didn't choose to be straight.

You know what else is a choice? Religion, speech, assembly, and bearing arms, to name a few. I don't see people arguing that those things shouldn't be protected from discrimination. Why would sexual orientation be any different, even if it were a choice? How would you feel if you were told that you couldn't get married because you were a Christian, because you owned a Colt .45, or because you play basketball with the guys every week at the Y?

The Supreme Court confirmed in Loving v. Virginia that "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man'" and under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, nobody should be denied marriage unless there is a compelling government interest to deny it (like there is in cases of bigamy, incest, and zoophilia).

Bottom line: Live, and let live. Who cares what legal contracts two consenting adults choose to enter into? That's their business, their choice, and it won't affect my marriage in the slightest.

Posted by Frank, Bronx NY on June 22, 2012:

I know we've traveled a long road from where this conversation began, but I just wanted to ask Randy's indulgence in permitting me to respond directly to Garth's comments above.

Garth, thank you. As a gay man living in this country, nothing gives me greater hope on this issue than reading words like yours from enlightened straight folk such as yourself. (And I have to say, in recent years, I have encountered more and more such folk who see things as you do. That, of course, gives me the greatest hope.)

I also wanted to share some quotes from one of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" interviews with Mike Huckabee, specifically their December 9, 2008 conversation. Video is available on the show's website, for anyone interested in watching the full interview -- all of these quotes are from the second part.

Huckabee is in many ways a great frustration for me. Unlike many conservatives who pretty much wear their prejudice on their sleeve (people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin), and who quite frankly scare me -- and, I think, many reasonble people -- Huckabee is a very level-headed, intelligent, personable leader who argues his views reasonably and articulately. He doesn't sound crazy. But he expresses social-policy views that, quite frankly, make my skin crawl. Stewart, to his immense credit, never fails to challenge him on these views, and to press him to respond to those challenges. And while Huckabee (being a skilled politician) may not concede any points, the flaws in his arguments are (in my opinion) typically laid bare by the close of the interview.

Anyway, from their discussion of the gay marriage issue, here are Stewart's "money" quotes:

"This gets to the crux of it. I think it's the difference between what you believe gay people are and what I do. [...] And I'll tell you this: Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. [...] We protect religion, and talk about a lifestyle choice -- that is absolutely a choice! Gay people don't choose to be gay. At what age did you choose to not be gay?"

"I think it's an absolute travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to make their case that they deserve the same basic rights as someone else."

and, the absolute winner:

"You keep talking about, 'Ooh, it would be redefining a word', but it feels like semantics is cold comfort when it comes to humanity."

It's hard not to get teary-eyed, to hear someone argue so passionately and tirelessly for your cause when they themselves have "no skin in the game" -- other than the basic desire to live in a more tolerant society, which of course benefits us all.

Just as it was hard not to be deeply touched when, after coming out to my TEΦ brothers during my sophomore year of college (1993) as the first openly-gay brother in our Chapter, the language in our party invites, calendars, and other communications began changing from "girlfriends" to "signficant others". This was not something I asked for, ever raised with them, or even felt was an issue, but simply something that 22 straight male college "frat guys" took upon themselves as a sign of their respect for me and their desire to be inclusive and respectful of my lifestyle.

Thank you again, Garth, for providing yet another such experience. Your words mean more to me personally than I can properly express, and (I believe) do more good for the entire gay community than you may know. If everyone felt as you do, and there was as much respect for each other as you've demonstrated, I don't think anyone would bristle at something as trivial as one of Randy's tasteless jokes.

(HAH! See? Managed to bring it back around!) \o/ ;-)

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Your frat brothers were awfully cool. -rc

Posted by Paul, Miami on June 22, 2012:

Count me among those who "got" it.

In fact, not only did I enjoy a good groan at the not so subtle twist, I quickly figured out that any critique of the tagline could only come off worse for the commenter.

Now that is artistry. Kudos for yet another example of wit and excellent writing.

Posted by Gerry, Boise, ID on May 21, 2014:

Sorry to be cynical about the entire marital equality issue, but there's a reason that so many folks are opposed to letting homosexuals tie the knot. It's because it's the only way they can keep them from having sex legally.

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