School kids ask: Am I the next to die?

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I’ve always lived by this rule: Your rights end where mine begin. And, conversely, mine end where yours begin. Far too many people think their right to bear arms obviates others’ right to life. I say, “No.”

The U.S. Constitution guarantees that the rights of the individual citizen will not be subject to the tyranny of the majority.

This means that even if a majority of the country’s citizenry would like to prevent African Americans from marrying Caucasians, the Constitution protects mixed-race couples and their rights. In 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Loving v. Virginia, the majority of Americans disagreed with the decision. Too bad.

Inalienable Rights

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We’ve faced a number of these challenges in U.S. history. And now we face one that means life and death—too often, the lives of our children.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution says that because a well regulated militia is needed for the security of a free state, citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. But the Constitution would never have existed if not for the document that set the stage: the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... inalienable… This founding document for the rights of U.S. citizens tells us that the right to life is something that cannot be taken away. 

Your Killer Owns Your Life

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And yet, in mass shooting after mass shooting, from Columbine to Sandy Hook to Orlando to Parkland and in far too many places in between, people claiming their right to bear arms are rendering the right to life moot. Individuals armed with weaponry not remotely conceived of by the Constitution’s authors are rendering the lives of multiple citizens very, very alienable. According to Merriam-Webster online, this means the ownership of the right to life is effectively being transferred to the individuals who slaughter them. 

So Dylan Roof owns the lives of the nine churchgoers he gunned down in Charleston. Omar Mateen briefly (before he was shot by police) claimed possession of 49 other lives when he opened fire randomly in an Orlando night club. 

Your Child's Killer Owns Your Child's Life

Many of the lives obliterated forever during this muscle-flexing of the second amendment have been children. 

We are massacring our children. The second amendment was never intended for this. Its current application was never what the authors of the Constitution had in mind. 

The amendment needs to be amended. Until we do, Americans school kids will be haunted by this terrible question: AM I NEXT?

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The Smoking Gun

It took the U.S. a long time to force the tobacco industry to admit that their products were killing people and even longer to convince people that they would die from using tobacco. Some people still aren't convinced.

Guns in the wrong hands are more dangerous than cancer, so is it now the gun industry that has some 'splainin' to do? Well, it would do no good to put danger labels on guns. So we need to neutralize the virtual weapons the industry is using. And the primary weapon, wielded through the industry's proxy (the National Rifle Association), is money.

Denying Gay Couples Art

Cathy Miller of Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, CA can refuse to sell to anyone who displeases her, according to the California Superior Court, because it's "art," and that makes it free speech. According to this Feb. 7 Washington Post article, Judge David R. Lampe opined that “Miller is a practicing Christian and considers herself a woman of deep faith.”

Miller evidently claims to have faith in her God. But if that faith doesn't outweigh this commercial transaction in her own heart, it is paltry indeed. And she shouldn't look to the courts to strengthen it; she should look to her God.

Are you out of your mind? It's all about love!

There is a delightful podcast called WROTE, hosted by two great guys who write—and support writers of—LGBTQ literature. And they interviewed me!

The episode, "Are you out of your mind? It's all about love," was great fun to record. I just hope I don't sound as cray-cray to everyone else as I sound to myself. In my defense, Vance Bastian and S.A. Collins are very good at getting people to reveal their inner truths.

A.C.L.U. vs. the Spirit of the Law

The ACLU needs to get better at understanding law—not just the letter. It needs to understand the spirit.

As ex-ACLU board member Waldo Jaquith puts it: What’s legal and what’s right are sometimes different. 

Facebook Says: No Christian Cross Emoji

On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself. Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.

Throwing Shade on the Women's Marches?

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, likes to teach dog owners that preventing their dogs from focusing on trouble (a letter carrier, another dog, a trash truck) is to give her a sudden, physical distraction as soon as that focus seems likely. This might be a gentle push on her backside, or it might be a sharp tug-and-release on her leash.

After reading the January 24 New York Times article by Jenna Wortham, I think what I got was a less-than-gentle push on my backside. For sure, the tone of this article distracted me from the enthusiasm I have felt since leaving the Boston Women’s March.

This is war.

For over a decade, I've written novels about gay teens. I'm a cisgender, straight advocate, and I write these stories because I hate injustice, I hate fear-driven paranoia, and I'm distressed at the vulnerability of LGBTQ teens.

When I began writing, I was certain that I would not see marriage equality in my lifetime. I knew very little of the hell that trans individuals go through. I knew nothing at all about what intersex means.

And since I began writing, I have celebrated win after win after win for LGBTQ people.

Then came Trump.

Electoral College Needs an Appendectomy

Every day since the November 8, 2016 election, we’ve seen the number of citizens who cast their presidential vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump increase. That lead is now roughly TWO AND A HALF MILLION VOTES.

Dear Governor McCrory...

I know you're suffering. And I have some information that I hope will help you and your family out of your current troubles.

As an advocate for personal truth, and in particular an advocate for the rights of LGBTQ citizens, I have read with interest a number of articles about you. In them, you describe the difficulties you and your wife have had to face as a result of North Carolina's HB2, the law you signed that requires people to use public facilities according to the gender on their birth certificates and limits the civil rights of LGBTQ people in general.

Black and White

It’s the end of a week full of horrible events.

The shooting death of African American Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana… The shooting death of African American Philando Castile by police officers in Falcon Heights, Minnesota… The shooting deaths of five white police officers by a single African American in Dallas, Texas, apparently as retribution for the week’s two previous events and for so many other shootings of African American men by police….

Orlando: Phoenix Rising

From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn. The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.

Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.

The chemistry of hatred

It’s a simple chemical reaction: Apply fear to ignorance and you get hatred. We’re seeing far, far too much of it lately.

Here in Massachusetts, the state legislature has been debating whether to pass a bill granting citizens the right to enter public bathrooms according to their true gender. I recently heard one misguided legislator insist that if the bill passed, women and girls would no longer be protected against assault. I understand what this guy and many other people who’ve said similar things are afraid of. What I think we need to get at is why they’re afraid.

Robin Reardon: Reading Aloud

When I have a chance to do a reading or a book signing event, I love connecting with readers. And after the events, they often ask me whether I’ve made recordings of the excerpts I read to them.

Well, now I have. There’s a new page on my website dedicated to excerpts I’ve recorded from my books. So far there are recordings from four books. If this feature is popular, I’d love to do more. This page is accessible from the Items of Interest, which you’ll see if you scroll down on my home page.

So… give it a try? And do let me know what you think, good or bad. Thanks!