You can’t make this stuff up…American spring break students, partying in Cancun, Mexico, chant: “Build the Wall”

© Chuck Duboff

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Take a few minutes to process this: American students, enjoying the beauty, great weather and beaches of Cancun, Mexico, begin chanting: “Build the Wall.”  No, seriously; these half-wits, perhaps buzzed on too much Tequila, are a metaphor for the insanity overtaking the populace of the United States.  It is no wonder that when traveling the world, anywhere but the United States, even the mention of that country draws outright anger for what was once such a great country.

What Donald Trump (read: Steve Bannon) has unleashed upon the world, is beyond troubling.  Racism, hatred, disrespect, lying, lying and more lying, has given permission for seemingly all Americans to bring out their most vile behaviour.  When the President of the United States is spewing lies on a regular basis, when anti-semitism is tolerated, when hatred of Muslims and Jews and Mexicans and Gays is cheered, when the President proudly talks about “pussy grabbing”, when Russian operatives control the goings on in Washington…

It is no wonder that the youth of America goes down to the beaches of Mexico and taunts their hosts with chants of “Build the Wall.”  Perhaps next year they will celebrate Spring Break in Fargo, North Dakota.

This is Donald Trump’s America…

MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN!! 

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Part 2 of Josh Alen’s story: “I have overcome physical, mental and sexual abuse…and there are many people I would like to thank for helping”…by Josh Alen

© Chuck Duboff

Editor’s note: Upon first reading Josh’s writing for yesterday’s blog, I anticipated that there would be a very large number of reads and a positive response.  That is in fact what ensued, with 219 reads of Josh’s story.  It took a lot of courage and strength for Josh to share…and today we get to read a little more of what Josh has been through.  When you see him at the ballpark this summer, stop by and say hi and tell him how very proud we all are of him.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes are much more than just a baseball club.  They are our local professional baseball team, positive role models, community supporters and a place where people come together on hot summer nights to laugh, share, cheer and cry.  This has been evidenced in so very many different ways…most importantly, they are an organization which cares deeply about its fans

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© Josh Alen

Chuck asked me yesterday if there was anything I wanted to add to the piece that I’d written.

 There are a few things I’d like to touch upon.

First, is how painfully much I miss Luis, every single day.

How much I miss feeling like a kid in a candy store every time I watched him go up to bat, whether it was the first time I ever saw it in person, or the millionth time, the feeling was the exact same, magic without a doubt.
I miss the pre-game chats. I miss the times where I was so overwhelmed with feeling that I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to even muster a simple hello.
I miss getting to watch my favorite player every night all summer long, and getting to congratulate him on every single great game, and every milestone or record set.
I miss hearing his walk-up songs, and having my heart skip a beat, every-single-time.
I miss all the times he made me laugh until I cried, (“la loca” is the one that I’ll honestly never forget). I miss getting a full summer to make all those memories.
I miss counting down the days until open house, and the best and biggest hugs you could ever imagine, seriously, the hugs…have I mentioned his are the greatest in the world?
I miss every single tiny little thing about him being my favorite player.
Everything about this past baseball season was hard, at times even agonizing, including the championship victory, and it will continue to be hard in his absence for a very, very long time to come.
There is nothing in this life that I would not give to have my Louie back.

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Secondly, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to a few people:

First and foremost to Luis, for simply being one of the most incredible people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I can never express in words how grateful I am for all the summers I got to spend at Shaw Park with you, or how truly honored I feel to share a last name with you. Thank you, for everything.
To sections S & R. Alex, Angie, Jim, Carole, Kerri, Miles, Sue, Karsten, thank you for taking me in and making me a part of your group. You folks gave me the family that I’ve spent my entire life looking for.
To Annette, Cheryl, and Sean, thank you for being some of the first to start chipping away at the rubble.
To Daniel and Reggie. Damn, thank you both from the bottom of my heart for taking me under your wings all year and taking such good care of me. Thank you both for all the hugs, the love, the support. The two of you both have very special places in my heart.

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To the Winnipeg Goldeyes organization as a whole, you are collectively and individually some of the most unbelievably incredible people on this planet. The amount of passion and sincerity that you all put into everything you do, the way you all pour your entire hearts and souls into this organization, that’s what makes this what it is, that’s what’s given a kid a second chance at life. I’ve never experienced a more loving and genuine group of people, keep up the fantastic work, thank you all!

To Chuck, thank you for believing in my story, and giving me the opportunity to put it out there. I’ve been reading your blogs for so long, I never imagined getting to be a part of it. Your dedication is unreal, and your writing is something I look forward to every day, especially in the offseason. Thank you!

Lastly, I’d just like to say, for anyone that read my original piece, or that is reading this one. You can do it!
At twenty-three years old I have overcome it all, abuse-physical, mental, and sexual. I struggle with, and overcome daily the crippling effects of BPD, Anxiety, PTSD, and more.
Three years ago, I came out to my friends, and later my biological family as a transgender male, and while that’s agony most days, it’s so beyond beautiful to finally find yourself and to find people who love and accept you for everything you are, and even everything you’re not. 

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I promise, even if it feels hopeless or impossible some days it isn’t. You will find yourself, you will find what you were meant to be on this earth for, you will find people to call family. I promise, it’s out there, and it will be the most overwhelming joy you could ever imagine feeling. Keep going, even on the days that you feel you cannot, just keep going. I promise you, it is worth it. I promise, I promise, I promise.

First They Came…by Pastor Martin Niemoller

© Chuck Duboff:      I am asked why I keep talking, writing about issues like racism, tolerance, human rights…when racism ends, when human rights for all is not questioned, when tolerance is our way of life…then I will stop…until then…ask yourself why, in 2016, racism still permeates society.

Chuck's Eclectic Blog.

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First They Came

Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left To speak out for me.

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Basic Human Rights…what are they? What are your own personal thoughts about the state of human rights in the world today?…by Chuck Duboff

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© Chuck Duboff

“Human Rights: rights which are inherent to all human beings, regardless of nationality, race, sex, ethnic origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, or any other status.  We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination.”  United Nations.

Questions to ponder:

Ask yourself these questions: do you believe that every human being living on this earth is entitled to basic human rights?  Is there a piece within you which believes that you are more entitled to these rights than others?  Do you look at individuals and say that they are deserving of their less than ideal living conditions and are therefore not as entitled to basic human rights?  Do you believe that basic human rights are bestowed upon all individuals throughout the world, or is there a class of human beings which controls and subjugates others, to their benefit?  Do you ever look down upon others?  Do you generalize and stereotype others and develop a belief that they are less worthy of basic human rights?

Do you believe it is your responsibility to ensure that all citizens of this planet are receiving basic human rights or do you hide your head in the sand and let others do the hard work?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

  1. We are all free and equal
  2. Don’t discriminate
  3. The right to life
  4. No slavery – past or present.
  5. No torture
  6. We all have the same right to use the law.
  7. We are all protected by the law.
  8. Fair treatment by fair courts
  9. No unfair detainment
  10. The right to trial
  11. Innocent until proven guilty
  12. The right to privacy
  13. Freedom to move
  14. The right to asylum
  15. The right to a nationality
  16. Marriage and family
  17. The right to own things
  18. Free to say what you want
  19. Freedom of thought
  20. Meet where you like
  21. The right to democracy
  22. The right to social security
  23. Worker’s rights
  24. The right to play
  25. A bed and some food
  26. The right to education
  27. Culture and copyright
  28. A free and fair world
  29. Our responsibilities to others
  30. Nobody can take away these rights and freedoms from us.

While reading this list of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what were your thoughts?  Did any of these rights make you uncomfortable?  Do you believe that our society is making these rights available to all of our citizens?

I asked a wise man, my very good friend, Al Bryski, retired teacher, writer, philosophizer, how he would define Human Rights:

“To me a human right  is the right  for every person, every single one, to have equal rights to choice and opportunity, whether it be the freedom to get a job, to get a partner of one’s choice, the right to   move freely, and the right to work at any job that they, the person,  is qualified for, without threats of harassment, without any abuse, or any threat of being fired. It also means to me the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech and the right to equal treatment in the due process of law. Summing it up, it is for me treating every person with the dignity and respect they are entitled to.”

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What are you doing to help promote Human Rights?  Are you sitting on the sidelines or are you doing something to make this a healthier world in which we live?

“Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society.”  Muhammad Yunus

Winnipeg Goldeyes demonstrate leadership in promoting Tolerance and Acceptance; by Chuck Duboff

Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not necessarily agree with.”

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Winnipeg Goldeyes, Reggie Abercrombie , and former Goldeye, Luis Alan; African American and Latino.  It doesn’t matter…they are brothers!!!

©Chuck Duboff

On Saturday evening, June 4th, during Pride weekend in downtown Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, management, staff, players, fans and the Lincoln Saltdogs celebrated Diversity and Tolerance.

“This is a one of a kind event, I’m so excited to see how it goes.” said Dan Chase, Goldeyes Director of Sales and Marketing, who brought this idea to life.

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Winnipeg mayor, Brain Bowman, throwing out the firs pitch at the Diversity Game.  Credit Winnipeg Goldeyes Photographer, Tara Miller.

In a multi-cultural city like Winnipeg, on Pride weekend, the Winnipeg Goldeyes demonstrated for all what it means to be tolerant and accepting of others opinions, beliefs, race, culture and sexual orientation.  From video messages on the scoreboard, to an eclectic mix of cultural music, to hoop dancers, Scottish dancers, a special ceremony for San Francisco baseball fan, Gilbert Baker, who designed the Rainbow Pride flag in 1978, the Goldeyes demonstrated leadership on a very important societal issue.

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From San Francisco, Gilbert Baker, baseball fan, who in 1978 designed the Pride Flag.  Credit to Winnipeg Goldeyes Photographer, Tara Miller.

Last year, Winnipeg was identified by MacLeans magazine as the most racist city in Canada; I would suggest that that is a statement which can’t be quantified,  however, I will say that Winnipeg has taken on the challenge of improving our acceptance of those whose lifestyles, beliefs or skin colour may be different than our own.  That does not imply lesser than…it simply suggests “different”, nothing more

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Aboriginal Hoop Dancers; credit to Winnipeg Goldeyes Photographer, Tara Miller.

Whether it is recognizing the first African American baseball player who made it to the majors, Jackie Robinson, respecting the religious beliefs of others, not being afraid of someone whose skin colour is different, tolerating a sexual orientation which is different than yours…Tolerance of others is the key to a healthy Winnipeg, a healthy society.

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Scottish Dancers; credit to Winnipeg Goldeyes Photographer, Tara Miller.

Winnipeg Goldeyes 1st annual Diversity Day…by Chuck Duboff

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Credit to Mike Deal of the Winnipeg Free Press for this picture of Dan Chase and Goldeyes staff.

© Chuck Duboff

On Saturday evening, June 4th, the Winnipeg Goldeyes will be holding their first annual Diversity Day, when they play the Lincoln Saltdogs.

Spearheaded by long time Goldeyes front office employee Dan Chase, staff and players will all lend a hand in promoting tolerance of race and sexual orientation.

Check out this great You Can Play video by the Winnipeg Goldeyes:

On a personal level, I am very aware of the Goldeyes support of human rights initiatives. When I led a human rights group which stood up to racism and promoted tolerance for all, the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ Field of Dreams always hit a home run, by lending their support to our initiatives.

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At Saturday evening’s ballgame, there will be special recognition of Jackie Robinson,  multi cultural music, a special ceremony for San Francisco baseball fan, Gilbert Baker, who designed the rainbow pride flag in 1978 (he will be in attendance) and video messages by players and staff in support of You Can Play…an organization founded by Patrick Burke, to bring an end to homophobia in sports.

On a personal level, I couldn’t be prouder of the Winnipeg Goldeyes.   They are “my team” and to see them take this initiative…my respect for this team couldn’t be any greater.

circle of friends.

Watch for a complete story Sunday morning on the Goldeyes’ Diversity Day.

Tickets for this very special evening or any other Goldeyes game can be purchased at Ticketmaster, http://www.goldeyes.com or 204-982-2273.

Editorial #2: Pallister and insulting comments, unions, homosexuals, abortion and misremembering; by Deanna Jay-Aych

©Deanna Jay-Aych

I honestly don’t care if Pallister owns 100 mansions all over the world. His conduct and his intentions are far more important to me.

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So far, through his own words and actions, he’s proven that he values profits over workers (seeking and partially accomplishing the deregulation of industry and his stated intent to make organization of labour more difficult)

He has plainly said that he sees the relationships of same-sex couples as “lesser” than those of heterosexual couples and that he believes in a religious definition of marriage, rather than a legal one.

He’s shown that he believes that religious definitions of “life” are more important than a woman’s autonomy over her own body.

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He’s shown that he’s not above calling his colleagues “feeble-minded”. What kind of person , who constantly touts his past as an educator as some measure of his integrity and inclusiveness, use a more ‘high-class’ version of “retarded” as an insult?

And finally – his “misremembering” and omission of details surrounding his income, assets and whereabouts (because despite what the apologists insist – an elected politician doesn’t only and isn’t only expected to -work when legislature is sitting.)
Perhaps Mr. Pallister doesn’t want people tracing all his sources of income and his business connections…

Wpg Sun: “Brian Pallister arrogant & secretive”; Wpg Free Press: “Pallister won’t respond truthfully” by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

“People of Manitoba can rest easy knowing that Pallister plans to visit Manitoba a little more if he is elected Premier”

Well, aren’t we lucky to be graced by his presence.  Hope we don’t interfere with your Costa Rica life.

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Brian Pallister recently stated that he doesn’t care if he is likeable; well, sir, you have succeeded.  A significant portion of the Manitoba electorate doesn’t trust you and the revelations about your lying about your time in Costa Rica only add to the perception of you being an arrogant, pompous PC leader.

You very clearly lied to Manitobans when asked why you weren’t helping out with the floods in 2014; you stated to the Winnipeg Free Press that you were at a family wedding in Alberta.  Well the facts do come out Mr. Pallister, and in fact, you were once again, vacationing in Costa Rica.  Costa Rica, where you have made 15 trips to and spent 240 days since becoming leader, is enriched by your vacation home and self-admitted bank account.  Given that both the NDP and Liberal leaders revealed their tax returns, it is becoming quite evident why you resist the call to show your tax returns.

Costa Rica

You have railed on Mr. Selinger regarding his increasing the PST by 1% after saying he wouldn’t.  He has owned up to this, taking responsibility, while at the same time explaining that the flooding created a serious need to protect those towns most vulnerable to flooding.  But, like both the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Sun have stated, you are arrogant, secretive and not willing to speak truthfully to the Manitoba voters.  When asked about your Costa Rica “story”, you refused to answer questions and one of your Tory lackeys stated:

“It was an oversight, an unfortunate lapse in memory.” Tory spokeswoman.

When I am fortunate enough to go on a vacation, I have great memories of dates and details.  But, I would suggest, when you spend 240 days down there in the last couple of years,  Costa Rica really is like home to you.  You have repeatedly castigated Mr. Selinger regarding the PST, well Mr. Pallister, the cloak is coming off and you are being seen for the man whom you truly are.

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Mr. Pallister has stated that he will make every effort to break up Unions.  He did not attend a forum held by the Manitoba Teacher’s Society, which both the NDP and Liberals were a part of.  He has stated that he believes homosexuality is merely a “social experiment.”  He will not state his position on health care in Manitoba regarding privatization.

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However, what is most infuriating is that Mr. Pallister will not state how he will “find savings” in the government.  Given that he will reduce the PST by 1% ($320 million), he will not answer the question as to how this money will be made up.  A majority of Manitobans have stated that they believe the PST should remain at 8%; yet Mr. Pallister is going to remain dogmatic about this one tax, money which has been used to improve Manitoba’s infrastructure.

Pallister’s $2million Winnipeg Mansion

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When last in Government, Mr. Pallister and his PC henchmen, cut over 1000 nursing jobs, 500 teaching jobs and imposed Filmon Fridays ( government employees had to take an unpaid day off).  If Mr. Pallister is not willing to explain how he will go about finding savings,  and is afraid to attend a Teacher’s Society Leaders forum, one could extrapolate what his plans are.

Manitoba currently has one of the best economies in Canada, along with the lowest unemployment rates.  We have a province which invests in social services for ALL Manitobans, not just the wealthiest 1%.  Yes, Mr. Selinger erred in the manner in which he implemented the 1% PST increase, he has come forward and admitted that.  But when both the Wpg Free Press and the Wpg Sun castigate Mr. Pallister for being arrogant, secretive and untruthful, I don’t believe he has what it takes to be the leader of this province.  I would suggest he get dual citizenship in Costa Rica and run for government there.  Would his bank accounts down there have enough to fund a campaign?  We will never know.

 

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band take a stand against bigotry in North Carolina…by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff
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Being a fan of Bruce Springsteen my whole life, I am so very proud to see him and his band stand up to the neanderthal legislation which was recently passed in North Carolina.  The law which was enacted would take away basic human rights for LGBT citizens…and essentially give permission for the bigots of North Carolina to spew their venom on innocent citizens.
Many an actor, writer, athlete, musician has taken a stand for something they believe in.  At the same time there have been many celebrities  who have stayed on the sideline in order to protect their image and not offend anyone.  (Michael Jordan is one who comes to mind.)
Bruce Sprinsteen’s music has always spoken to justice, fairness and human rights for all.

In Springsteen’s album The Ghost of Tom Joad, the title track reminds us that there are still many people living in the underbelly of society, who need somebody to fight on their behalf.

By cancelling the band’s concert in North Carolina, Bruce Springsteen is taking a stand against bigotry.  He didn’t have to do this…he could have shut his eyes and earned another big pay cheque.  But any true fan of Bruce Springsteen knows…that isn’t the Boss.  He will stand up for what he believes in, as should each and every one of us!!
As Bruce said yesterday: “There are some things in life that are bigger than a rock concert.”
“Evil will flourish when goodness remains silent!!”
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A Statement from Bruce Springsteen on North Carolina
As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Sunday April 10th show is canceled. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

Kristin Walker; as a gay person: “I am troubled by so many things in the U.S”

This is a reblog of a post from two years ago; I’m so very proud of Kristen, a former student of mine, who has grown into a wonderful woman.

Chuck's Eclectic Blog.

© Chuck Duboff

The spread of antigay legislation throughout the world is troubling; the hyperbole spewed by the likes of Vladimir Putin only reinforces the views of so many close minded people.  Uganda brings forward laws which would see any “gay behaviour or support” result in prison time.  Our friends just south of the 49th parallel have states like Arizona, Georgia, Texas  and Mississippi, presenting hate filled bills which would see gay people treated much like the Jews during the Holocaust and Black people during the Apartheid of South Africa.  It took serious public outrage and financial backlash for the Governor of Arizona to veto her states’ legislation.

When citizens are morally outraged by the actions of their governments, it is important to speak up against blatant human rights violations.  “When goodness remains silent, evil will flourish.”

During these past few weeks of antigay movements being in the news…

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“How Gay Rights Won in Indiana; by Nate Chute of Reuters News. Stand up and Speak out for what is Right!!

© Chuck Duboff
Whether it is Gay Rights…Racism…standing up to Bill C51; if there is a human right being infringed upon, and this is something which you oppose…the news about Indiana changing its proposed legislation should inspire you to stand up and speak out!!

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How Gay Rights Won in Indiana

Nate Chute—Reuters

Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally at Monument Circle in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.
Liberal activists and big business joined forces and humbled a governor

Indiana lawmakers announced changes to a controversial state law on religious freedom Thursday, essentially conceding defeat to a concerted alliance of liberal interest groups and large corporations over gay rights.

The new version of the law clarifies that it will not allow businesses to discriminate against gay Hoosiers, a fix that Republican backers and Gov. Mike Pence had once argued was not necessary.

On Thursday, Indiana lawmakers said the changes still weren’t necessary from a legal standpoint, but were needed in order to stem a national uproar over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“The change in the RFRA law will hopefully put an end to the greatest misperception of all: that Indiana’s people discriminate, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David Long.

But gay rights groups point out that the changes only stop discrimination that might have happened as a result of the religious freedom law. No Indiana state law explicitly bars businesses from discriminating against gay customers.

Still, the quick turnaround on the law in a Republican-led red state showed a sea change on how gay rights fights play out. The fix was the outcome of 48 hours of intense negotiations as lawmakers tried to quell concerns from companies such as Apple, American Airlines and Salesforce as well as the NCAA college sports league and a bevy of celebrities.

But while the national fight over the bill lasted a few short days, left-leaning groups in Indiana had been laying the groundwork for months. The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and others began working with friendly Indiana lawmakers and businesses late last year, sowing the seeds of grassroots opposition as rumors of a religious freedom bill began circulating.

Without the close alliance between big Indiana businesses and liberal activists, the national outcry this week over Indiana’s new law could have been just a muffled whimper.

“This was a moment years in the making,” says Fred Sainz, vice president for the Human Rights Campaign. “The reason we are able to rely on this level of corporate support now is we’ve cultivated this garden for a long time.”

Opposition Takes Root

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was conceived last year by conservative Indiana lawmakers who sought a bulwark in the culture war over gay rights. A proposed state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman petered out last year, and in October a federal court legalized same-sex marriage.

By Thanksgiving, whispers about a religious freedom bill began surfacing in Indianapolis. Lambda Legal, the national gay rights group, got a tip from a friendly legislator in the Indiana House that a bill was in the works and alerted friendly groups and businesses. Word got out that a bill was going to be completed in January, and by the end of the month, it was filed.

MORE: Uproar Over Religious Freedom Law Trips Up Indiana’s Governor

Civil rights groups primed Indiana businesses for a fight. Cummins, a major diesel and gas engine manufacturer in the state, was an early opponent of the bill. After consulting with activist groups before Christmas, the $19-billion company deployed two in-house lobbyists to try to sway Indiana state legislators against the bill. The company also used an outside lobbying firm, Krieg DeVault, to help lobby the general assembly. Activists notified Indiana companies such as Salesforce, Eli Lilly and Alcoa of the bill, who also put pressure on legislators. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which represents the state’s businesses interests in the state capitol, opposed the bill, as did its Indianapolis equivalent.

“The bill has been brewing since gay marriage become legal in October,” says Jim Bennett, Midwest director for Lambda Legal. “We’ve all been able to stay close together throughout this fight going back to the beginning.”

In early March, the Indiana Senate passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act along party lines. The ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the American Unity Fund banded together into a group called Freedom Indiana to better coordinate opposition to the law.

Business groups scored a legislative win late in the process when they convinced the Indiana House to add an amendment that protected corporations from religiously fueled employee lawsuits. But they were unable to prevent the passage of the final bill through the general assembly.

Harsh Spotlight

The carefully tended tinder of opposition erupted into a national firestorm when Pence signed the bill into law last Thursday.

Apple’s openly gay CEO Tim Cook, whom civil rights groups had been privately courting as a key civil rights ally, tweeted his opposition. The NCAA denounced the measure as well, and additional businesses signed on to a critical letter addressed to Pence, including Internet company Angie’s List and healthcare company Roche Diagnostics. On Monday, the Indianapolis Star featured a rare front-page editorial. “FIX THIS NOW,” the headline screamed in huge letters. “Indiana is in a state of crisis,” the editors warned the governor. “It is worse than you seem to understand.”

Beset on all sides, Pence sounded the retreat on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to fix the law. “After much reflection and consultation with the leadership of the General Assembly, I’ve come to the conclusion it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said in a news conference.

MORE: 5 things to Know About Mike Pence

Even as Indiana scrambled to amend the law, the Human Rights Campaign diligently worked its corporate contacts. The group released a statement on Tuesday signed by American Airlines, Microsoft, Wells Fargo and six other major businesses that denounced similar efforts around the country. Meanwhile, left-leaning activists clamored for language that would protect LGBT Hoosiers, and lobbyists for the manufacturing, healthcare and tourism industries complained the law was bad for business. Many rank-and-file Republicans staunchly stood by the old bill as party leaders rallied their caucuses.

By Tuesday evening, the rhetoric had reached a feverish pitch. “The business and civic leaders were telling legislators yesterday that the financial impact to the city of Indy would be similar to Katrina,” said one Indiana business leader on Tuesday. “Today, they are saying it’s more like Pompeii.”

Conservatives insisted the outburst against the law was overblown and blamed the erosion of the law on outlier groups. Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham wrote in a Facebook post that liberal groups “don’t want Christians’ freedoms to be protected.” Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the response a “lynch mob.”

Wednesday saw intensive meetings with Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Long, the Senate leader, as well as sport and business leaders and lobbyists. The Star reported that Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Mark Miles, Indy Chamber Vice President Mark Fisher and a representative from tech company Salesforce were also involved in meetings.

Kristin Walker; as a gay person: “I am troubled by so many things in the U.S”

© Chuck Duboff

The spread of antigay legislation throughout the world is troubling; the hyperbole spewed by the likes of Vladimir Putin only reinforces the views of so many close minded people.  Uganda brings forward laws which would see any “gay behaviour or support” result in prison time.  Our friends just south of the 49th parallel have states like Arizona, Georgia, Texas  and Mississippi, presenting hate filled bills which would see gay people treated much like the Jews during the Holocaust and Black people during the Apartheid of South Africa.  It took serious public outrage and financial backlash for the Governor of Arizona to veto her states’ legislation.

When citizens are morally outraged by the actions of their governments, it is important to speak up against blatant human rights violations.  “When goodness remains silent, evil will flourish.”

During these past few weeks of antigay movements being in the news, I wondered what gay people were feeling; were they concerned, outraged, ready to fight back?  I contacted a friend of mine, someone I’ve known for a long time.  Only through Facebook had I become aware that Kristin Walker is gay; through her postings, she seemed quite happy with her life.  I contacted her and asked if she would be comfortable answering a few questions about what has been going on around the world and how she has responded to it.  Kristin seemed very comfortable answering the questions I put forward. 

 

INTERVIEW WITH KRISTIN WALKER.

 

Chuck: How are you responding to, and what are you feeling about, all the antigay legislation and activity that is going on around the world?  

Kristin: It’s such a tough question.  It makes you think about traveling and where your friends/family vacation or live.  I have a gay male friend who has been toying with the notion of buying a condo in Arizona.  He loves the community there and has never had any negative encounters on his many vacations there.  He has decided not to move forward with the purchase and has said he won’t go back until he is certain that he will treated fairly and with respect.  I personally will make sure me and my wife stay safe and will not spend my money at establishments or in States that would gladly kick us out.  What I find really interesting is Social Media is very quick at spreading the news and keeping us all informed but I work in an environment no different than an everyday water cooler where conversation is all sports, movies, weather and even a good political rant, but no one ever talks about anti-gay movements.  It is still a private conversation with a specific audience.

Chuck: When you see so much anti-gay commentary coming right from our neighbours to the South…how do you react? 

Kristin: America has always been odd.  As a Canadian, I grew up with diversity. There were no race issues, no gender issues and no sexual orientation issues because I just didn’t see them.  I am troubled by so many things in the US.  Mississippi is on the fence with an anti-gay bill which would be really unfortunate, but honestly, guns, race violence and southern evangelists sadden me more. 

Chuck: Do you think you were born gay?

Kristin: I don’t know.  I was born with a disposition to be right handed but had someone put a pen in my left hand and taught me how to write, how would it have ended up?  I was never exposed to homosexuality as a kid and had no idea what it even meant as I entered puberty.  I will also say that when I entered straight relationships, it never felt natural.  

Chuck: When did you realize you were gay? 

Kristin: LOL .when my boyfriend/fiancee told me I was.  Actually, I knew I was “different” as early as grade 6 but had no words for it or even the ability to explain it.  I was 17 when I started feeling down right confused and angry with my lack of interest in men.  I did become seriously involved with a man when I was 21 (which was also my first sexual experience) but as we were planning our wedding, I started to show intense interest in a mutual girl friend and I finally had all of the answers I was looking for.  

Chuck: How long before you shared with family and friends?  How did they respond? 

Kristin: I told my best friend only a few months after I came to terms.  She was really cool but she also had concerns for me, my safety and my future.  It was 1995.  2 years before Ellen came out.  It was not common conversation.  Coming out to my friend didn’t make it easier. In fact with every confession, it became more exhausting.  It got to the point where I didn’t want to say anything and I started to ignore friends.  It was easier just to move on.  It is my one regret in life.  As I got older and friends resurfaced, I have been pleased with the love I have received.  I did seek guidance from the Rainbow Resource Centre.  They helped me to maintain my self-respect and understand how my friends and family were feeling. 

Chuck: Have you met with any discrimination, roadblocks, because of your sexuality?

Kristin: As I came out and wanted to spread my wings, I moved to Toronto.  I was able to be loud and proud there.  But, what I quickly found out, drawing attention to yourself also made you a target.  I had put a rainbow sticker on my car and was put into a scary situation at a Tim Hortons drive thru.  What is surprising to me is that when I lived in Thunder Bay and now back in Winnipeg, I have not had any issues.  I have also been careful and aware.  I’m just not young and carefree as I once was.

Chuck: Do you have a life partner and if so, how has that gone?

Kristin: I do.  We have been together for 17 years and married for 7.  She has 2 children that were 5 and 7 yrs when we met, so I am another parent for them.  We have had a lot of chapters in our relationship, but every moment has been shared with each other.  I still feel the love we felt so many years ago.

Chuck: What has been the most challenging aspect of being gay?  Do you find there is a difference in Canada? Winnipeg? compared to any places you’ve travelled?

Kristin: Life is challenging for all in some way.  I just want to stop making decisions on who and what I say.  It would be so much easier to just speak freely and not worry about what happens next.  

Chuck: Are you comfortable with me writing this up and putting it up on my Blog?

Kristin: I wouldn’t have answered these if I didn’t want you to post them.