Marriage Counseling: Gays Welcome!

Here are my thoughts on gay marriage published in TODAY February, 2004. I am soooo far ahead of the curve on this one! (Ouch! I dislocated my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back!) Plus, the idea of an expiring/renewable marriage license is nothing short of brilliant!

What is a marriage?

Gay Marriage—Fully endorsed by divorce lawyers everywhere!

In the eyes of the law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman. But in San Francisco, that law has changed. Newly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom recently lifted a ban on gay marriages. So far more than 3,000 same-sex couples have legally tied the knot.

But gay marriages in San Francisco may not be allowed for much longer. Several conservative groups have filed suit against the city, and the State of California is also trying to re-enforce the ban on gay marriages. “The Governator” is against it. San Francisco’s city elders have filed a counter-suit claiming that the government is violating the civil rights of its gay citizens.

The question here isn’t one of should gays be allowed to marry. It should be a question of why aren’t they allowed already. Our Constitution promises every citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A certain segment of our citizenry is homosexual – it always has been and it always will be. Some people are just…gay. Yet the powers behind most government and religious institutions still refuse to recognize these citizens as equals.

Committed gay couples are entitled to the same legal benefits as married heteros; namely, some tax breaks for maintaining a home together, additional breaks if you have kids. That’s only fair – anybody who helps raise a child or maintain a piece of property in this country deserves those benefits, be they married or single, gay or straight. The Constitution also states “all men are created equal” yet they are rarely treated that way in America.

1,2,3 … What Are We Fightin’ For?

That being said, what is it the gay community really fighting for? The right to further complicate their already complex relationships by legally binding themselves to one another? How long after we hear about the first gay marriage will we hear about the first gay divorce? How will this impact our already-overwhelmed family courts?

Several years ago I wrote a column suggesting that we could reduce our nation’s high divorce rate by having marriage licenses expire after five years. A marriage would continue only upon the mutual agreement of both partners. Now, after examining the issues raised by gay marriage, I’d like to take that idea a step further – abolish marriage licenses all together. I’m not comfortable with the idea of any politician deciding who can get married and who can’t. The government shouldn’t sanction who people love. It’s not what we elected these people to do, and it’s not what the Constitution of this country intended.

Gays are fighting hard to have their relationships legally validated. Their efforts would be better spent trying to reform tax and insurance laws that would benefit any couple with a home and family. If a couple of single moms decide to buy a house together, they should get the same tax breaks as any man/woman couple who are homeowners and parents. Who cares what goes on in the bedrooms of these people? Nobody should question or pass judgement on anyone else’s sexual preference in this, “the land of the free.” Yet our nation’s leaders do it routinely. That’s why the government should get out of the marriage business.

And the gay community should realize that a marriage has very little to do with the documents that make it official or declare it null and void.

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Originally published Wayne TODAY, February 2004

The Incredible Hulk Is Dead! Long Live Hulk!

Here’s one for all the of the original Hulkamaniacs out there…everyone knows who the coolest Avenger is! BONUS : Check out my “20 Questions With Lou Ferrigno!

I read all sorts of comic books growing up, but The Incredible Hulk was my favorite. But the big green galoot’s run is coming to an end, and I’m not sorry to see him go.

The Hulk has a dark side that’s haunted me since childhood.

hulk and bruce banner
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!” Really?

Publisher Marvel Comics announced recently the 49-year-old title would be ending this August with issue #635. (Since nothing ever truly ends in the comic book universe, the green goliath will still he-man his own title, simply called Hulk, which launched in 2008.)

The incredible Hulk was the strongest of all superheroes. His brute strength was…well, incredible. But his power was tied to his temper. The Hulk’s simple creed was, “the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!”

Don’t Get Mad, Get Hulky

The comic book had a brilliant premise, creator Stan Lee’s combination of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Meek scientist Bruce Banner harbors a monster inside him, a big green wrecking machine who comes out when Banner is angry or stressed. Push pansy Bruce far enough and he transforms into a Not-So-Jolly Green Giant. Hulk smash!

Who among us wouldn’t like to have that transformative power on occasion? As a kid it represented a chance to right a thousand injustices, a chance to tip the scales against bullies, older kids, and adults.

But it was all a lie. Losing your temper never makes you stronger. It makes you weaker. Lose your cool, and you lose your advantage.

Note To Self: Don’t Get Hulky

It took me a long time to learn this. I punched a lot of holes in walls, and busted innumerable telephones over the years. In 2003, I raged against an ATM machine, a stupid stunt that cost me hundreds of dollars in fines and almost landed me in jail. (Did you know there are cameras in those things? You did? Oh. My bad.) My temper has never worked to my advantage. Rob smash! But the only thing it ever got me was heartache, a reputation as a hothead and a jerk, and a hand injury.

kirby hulk
Original artist Jack Kirby made the Hulk menacing.

I’ve finally managed to control my temper (well…I’ve improved…) I’ve mellowed with age, therapy, and medication. But it wasn’t until recently that I began to wonder how much growing up with The Incredible Hulk played into my violent outbursts. I can’t lay all the blame on the Jade Giant, but I don’t think following his temper-fueled adventures  did me much good as a kid. Unlike many superheroes, Hulk wasn’t a very good a role model.

Superhero or Super Asshole?

Stan Lee created many memorable superheroes, characters that were very human despite their special abilities. Daredevil was blind. Spiderman was a high school geek. The X-Men were all misfits – mutants– looking for a way to fit into society. These Marvel heroes taught young readers respect, hard work, and other basic building blocks of self-confidence.

But Hulk wasn’t Hulk unless he lost his temper.

Some superheroes use their powers to enhance the lives of their alter egos. Peter Parker and Clark Kent always had great scoops for the newspapers they worked for. Daredevil would capture bad guys, and his alter ego, criminal attorney Matt Murdock, made sure they stayed in jail.

But Bruce Banner’s superpower actually ruined his career as a brilliant scientist. Most storylines involved a few pages of Hulk smashing things up then leaving poor Bruce Banner to either pick up the pieces or run from authorities. Banner lived the life of a loner, a fugitive, no friends, no family, always on the run.

That’s what a bad temper will get you.

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Originally published in Wayne TODAY, February 2011