Gay dad Rob Watson is tired of being talked about by religious leaders, so he pops the question to the visiting pope: “If you are going to make pronouncements about us, couldnâ€™t you at least meet us first?”
In March of 2013, I was writing a column about the pope. The last line of my request: â€œSurprise us.Â Inspire us.Â Show us what love really looks like.â€
In many ways, he has done just that. As he arrives in the United States, we are reminded that loving embraces of the pope may only go so far. It is rumored that he has concerns about LGBT people greeting him at the White House. The pope has already tasted a bit of the right wing kool-aide it seems, encouraging the population to keep fighting for “religious freedom,” which has become a euphemism for LGBT oppression. Tacky protocol not withstanding, however, there is a rumor going around that within the huge dogmatic monolith of a bureaucracy that is the Catholic Church, there is a living breathing human with a heart: Pope Francis. It is to him, and that heart, that I make this invitation:
Dear Pope Francis,
Welcome to America. Welcome to the land of moneyed politics where the common man is being drummed out of having a voice. It is where the wealthy are running for office and the current Republican front runner has the advantage of being his own rich person, setting him apart from the others who are merely owned by other rich people.
It is a land that boasts as a major finance stream a â€œhate industryâ€ operating under the guise of â€œChristianityâ€ that raises millions of dollars by making media martyrs out of bigoted people refusing to do their jobs. It is a land that doles out regulations and restrictions over a virus that kills a few people and ignores proliferated weapons that kill hundreds of thousands.
Your brand of humility could be a breath of fresh air. Oh, yeah, and our air is heating up causing weird weather patterns. Weâ€™re not doing anything about that either.
I am a gay dad. I donâ€™t detect that you come across very many people like me in your travels. You certainly did not when you hosted â€œHumanumâ€:Â The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium, at the Vatican with Pope Francis. That forum represented the worst of the worst in the intellectual rationalization of homophobia. Your Humanum videos represented fictions created by the now discredited anti-gay â€œresearcherâ€ Mark Regnerus.
The forum itself included nonsensical speculations that:
- Same sex marriages are a trend that will go away
- Teens lose sight of their gender as they become aware of their sexual orientation
- The universe, the stars, planets and ecosystems were created through a heterosexual act
- The earth is a heterosexual creation â€“Â the ocean is female and the land is male
- There is a â€œcounterâ€ sexual revolution that is about to happen
- That same-sex marriages will somehow impede â€œhuman flourishingâ€
Just as Mark Regnerus included NO families like mine to interview in his thousands of surveys (even though his study was supposedly to comment on LGBT families), no families like mine were at your forum either.
It begs the question, if you are going to make pronouncements about us, couldnâ€™t you at least meet us first?
So, letâ€™s change that and get together â€“Â shall we? You are cordially invited to come to Friday dinner with my family. In a sort of throwback to a previous Catholic mandate, we have fish on Fridays. I guess that is no longer a rule for Catholics, the having fish on Fridays thing, as you once did, but no matter.
It is funny how rules are re-evaluated and then changed, donâ€™t you think? We can just call our Friday dinner a â€œtraditionalâ€ one, protecting the sanctity of dining. Plus, our â€œfishâ€ is actually sushi, so we can even upgrade the old tradition a bit.
While you sit and eat with us, I will proudly introduce you to my children: my sons Jesse and Jason.
The Catholic Church has not been generous about children in LGBT families. In the 1990s there was a Vatican document that stated that fathers like me were doing â€œviolenceâ€ by parenting our kids, by exposing them to us.
You can chat with my boys, happy, healthy energetic 12 and 13 year olds, and tell me if you see signs of violence. I doubt that you will see any, even though, ironically, there has been violence there.
Not by me. Jesse is my son because his birth father battered and beat him when he was two years old. That act ended a process that would have reunified them and removed Jesse from my foster care. Instead, it made him my son for life.
You would have a lot in common with Jason. He, like you, comes from a Latin American ancestry. He can tell you his worries about Donald Trump building a wall attempting to keep any of his, and your, heritage from further penetrating our country. He can also tell you how his birth parents were Catholics, who ingested heroin, causing him to be born six weeks prematurely while fighting for life.
He is not being raised Catholic, as our family would not be welcome in that environment. Your environment. We are open to hearing how you might change that.
He is living proof that being physically born to two people who can biologically create life is not the same thing as being loved and parented by someone who cares for you above all else. Other children bearing out that sad reality are little Zachary, and little Gabriel, both beaten to death by their birth parents when each was suspected of growing up gay.
While we share our fish with you, we can talk about Christ, who taught all men to fish. We can share how we used the nets God gave us and cast them into life. Our nets were not made of sperm and egg, they were made of love and hope. What we netted was our own family.
There is nothing you could say to me that would dissuade me from knowing that my sons and I were meant to be together. We were and are each otherâ€™s destiny.
One of our family values is kindness. We think it is one in which you would agree, and appreciate. We also honor humility. To us, that is the quality which says we are all teachable, we are open to looking at things fresh, from a new point of view.
Many who have had a change of perspective about LGBT families, did it through insights made by their kids. Through their eyes, they see that the modern world is being formed more by love than by DNA, and not only is that alright, it is a good thing.
In the past fourteen years, my kids have made me see things differently, better. It has changed my world.
I know this would be hard for you, as you do not have kids. You never have, and never will. So, with the meal we would share, I will give you something more.
My kids. You get to pretend they are yours for the evening. Laugh with them, communicate with them, and experience their joy. Give them a few hours to rule your world. Trust me, if you do, that world will never again look the same.
You have broadened the embrace of your church from your predecessor. We applaud you. We want to believe in the compassion you seem to express. As you have extended your range to include many others who have felt forgotten or discarded, I ask you to reach just a little bit farther.
Please include LGBT people and families like mine.
If you canâ€™t, at the very least, be looking into the eyes of kids like my son Jason when you explain why. If you succeed getting through that explanation, then the heart I thought was thereâ€¦ isnâ€™t.
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‘Volunteer’ Santos Congressional Staffer Alleges Sexual Harassment: ‘Proceeded to Touch My Groin’
A man who says he was hired by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) as a congressional staffer, told he had to be listed as a “volunteer” until his paperwork was processed, then subsequently told his job offer had been “rescinded” nine days later despite having worked several days during that time, is now accusing the embattled New York GOP congressman of ethics violations and sexual harassment. He is calling for both a congressional and a police investigation.
In a two-page letter to the House Ethics Committee dated Friday requesting an investigation, Derek Myers alleges Rep. Santos invited him to a karaoke club on his second day of work, then “proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin.”
He says Santos then told him, “My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over” and told him where he lived.
Myers is also asking the congressional investigation examine his being told he had to work as an unpaid volunteer while being offered a full-time job, which he says is a violation of House ethics.
He says he has filed a police report.
These matters will not be litigated on social media or through news media. They are serious offenses and the evidence and facts will speak for themselves if the committee takes up the matter. This tweet is being made public in light of transparency. pic.twitter.com/oSs4F3xyqc
— Derek Myers (@DerekMyers) February 3, 2023
In his letter (above) which he posted to Twitter, Myers says was interviewed by Santos, offered the job on Monday, January 23, asked by Santos’ chief of staff to come into the office the following day.
“On Wednesday. January 25, I was alone with the Congressman in his personal office going over mail correspondence from constituents and making my recommendations for which letters we should respond,” Myers’ letter reads. “The Congressman earlier in the day had asked me if I had a Grindr profile, which is widely-known as an LGBTQ+ social networking app, more commonly used for sexual intercourse. The Congressman shared with me that he, himself had a profile.”
Myers says Santos called him “buddy” and “insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa.”
“I proceeded to move forward with the discussion about the mail, but the Congressman stopped me by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee and saying, ‘Hey buddy, we’re going to karaoke tonight. Would you like to go?’ I kindly declined the invitation by telling the Congressman I was not a fan of clubs and bars and that I was not a good singer,” the complaint reads.
“The Congressman proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin. He proceeded to look at me and say, ‘My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over’ and went on to tell me where the Congressman lived. I quickly pushed the Congressman’s hand away and grabbed the mail from the table and proceeded to discuss the topic of constituent correspondence. Shortly thereafter, I left the personal office and returned to my desk.”
He alleges the following Monday, one week after being made the offer of employment, he was asked about his background as a journalist. He says on Wednesday, February 1, “I was informed that my job offer was being rescinded.”
The New York Times reports, “Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.”
“There’s no corroborating evidence whatsoever,” Myers told CNN. “It’s simply going to be his word against mine.”
Santos is currently facing at least three federal investigations, including for allegedly absconding with thousands of dollars raised to save a veteran’s dying service dog, and for campaign finance issues.
Myers was in the news last week after sharing what he says were conversations with Santos he recorded. Talking Points Memo published some of that audio and reported some of Santos’ statements to Myers, including, “Stop going to Colombia for your diluted Botox.”
Santos claimed the recordings “violated the trust that we had” in Myers.
TPM also reported on Myers’ background, which Santos allegedly used to terminate him.
“A local news reporter from Ohio, Myers faced unusual criminal charges last year after he published surreptitiously recorded audio of courtroom testimony that he said he obtained from a source. The criminal case, which is in limbo, sparked a national outcry from press freedom organizations who rushed to his defense,” TPM says.
“It was quite a mesmerizing feeling to be in that proximity to power,” Myers told TPM. “Not only was I working with a sitting congressman, but I would see all these other U.S. senators and congressmen and women who I would only see on the news walking through the basement.”
He also told the news outlet of the “dream that drew Myers to Santos: a potential book or Hollywood project.”
“George Santos is making history,” Myers told TPM. “There’s gonna be a book about it. There’s gonna be a movie about it.”
ABC Host Pops Marco Rubio’s Balloon Rant: It ‘Happened Three Times’ Under Trump
ABC host Jonathan Karl reminded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that former President Donald Trump had failed to notify Americans on at least three occasions when Chinese balloons entered the country’s airspace.
During an interview on ABC, Karl asked Rubio if President Joe Biden should have gone against the advice of the U.S. military and instead shot the balloon down over populated land.
Rubio agreed that the debris could have “hurt, harmed or killed people.”
“If that was the case, then I think it really would have been helpful for the president of the United States to get on national television and explain to the American people, this is what we’re dealing with, this is what I’m going to do about it, and this is why I haven’t done it yet. None of that happened. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why they waited so long to tell people about this.”
But Karl pointed out that Trump had failed to disclose similar incidents at least three times.
“This happened three times under the previous president,” the host said. “Obviously, there were no public notifications there.”
Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed
Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.
“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.
Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.
Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.
Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.
A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.
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