Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Supreme Court Sides with Equality

Filed under: American Life and Society,GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:25

Today, the Iowa State Supreme Court ruled that outlawing gay and lesbian marriage was unconstitutional within the state. The ruling was unanimous. According to the Court:

“In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court today held that the Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.  The decision strikes the language from Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman.  It further directs that the remaining statutory language be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.   Today’s ruling resolves an action brought by six same-sex couples who were refused marriage licenses by the Polk County Recorder.  Except for the statutory restriction that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, the twelve plaintiffs met the legal requirements to marry in Iowa. ”

Moron (and of course, Republican) representatives in Iowa now say they will fight the ruling by trying to pass a disgusting and bigoted anti-marriage amendment to the state’s Constitution similar to the one ignorant and bigoted Floridians passed back in November. But Democrat Matt McCoy (who is openly gay) said Iowa will not turn back the clock on civil rights for gay citizens and Democrats (who hold the majority in Iowa’s House and Senate) will fight the Republicans head-on to ensure equality for all Iowans remains. Here is McCoy’s video press release from today:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gainesville Says No to Discrimination

Filed under: American Life and Society,GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:57

hrclogo.jpgWhile news coming out of Gainesville tends to be related to the University of Florida or their beloved Gators (which everyone knows I am NOT a fan of), a heated battle over gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) equality was decided yesterday, with fairness and equality “coming out” on top! Right-wing conservative religious morons tried to repeal the city’s anti-discrimination policy protecting GLBT persons from discrimination in employment, public housing, and the use of public amenities by employing a hate-mongering campaign filled with blatant lies and ignorance that thankfully, the citizens of Gainesville saw through. 58% of voters voted to keep the policy in-place. This is a breath of fresh air given the disgusting anti-marriage amendment passed statewide last November. Education is so important and it can shine a light on hatred and bigotry. Good work by Equality Florida who worked hard to expose the lies and educate the public on why GLBT protections are so important in ending discrimination.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Religion Losing Ground

Filed under: American Life and Society,Religion — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:57

downward_graph_small2.jpgAfter an explosive piece by the Washington Post was published Monday indicating the number of Americans who identify as Christian or with a major religion is dwindling, one evangelical is conceding, the writing is on the wall. Michael Spencer has written an excellent op-ed piece for The Christian Science Monitor this month in which he predicts the eventual extinction of evangelical Christianity in the not-too-distant future. Spencer articulates his opinion based partly on the fact that evangelicals are out of step with mainstream America on social issues like abortion, gay and lesbian rights, and stem cell research but mostly because of their allegiance to conservative Republican political ideology and quest for political prowess.

Evangelicals have been able to donate large sums of money to mostly staunch-conservative Republican politicians and have worked diligently to show their muscle in getting their voters out to the polls to affect elections. No one can doubt the past 8 years of George Bush were largely the result of the huge funding arms of fundamental Christian groups like the Christian Coalition and their ability to bring voters to the polls in droves. While I believe Spencer’s thesis is partly correct, I believe he is ignoring one of the largest contributors to the demise of traditional Christianity: Science.

Scientific discovery, which has proliferated over the past century, has disproved so many Christian beliefs that Americans are beginning to become more disenchanted with ideologies that aren’t based in scientific reason. Evolution, genetics, physical law/theory, and discoveries in medicine and health have covered the falsehoods of supernatural powers being responsible for things like creationism, mysticism, and magical healing of the sick. And as science begins to show more mundane explanations for facets of life previously considered unexplainable by humans, religion loses not only its appeal, but its merit and fidelity as well. 

Spencer’s piece is meant as a “wake up call” for evangelicals and he might have some short-term success. But as social experiences of Americans continue to change and science continues to cast such a strong shadow of doubt over long-standing Christian and religious-based doctrines, religion will continue to dwindle in its relevancy in American life. Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs and as a Christian myself, I work to be the best person I can be and live how I believe God wants us to live. But when religion begins to spew hate, take away the rights of minorities, and perpetuate ignorance and unreasoning, my conviction it has no place in politics or any aspect of secular life grows ever so stronger.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Michael Phelps Getting Just Rewards

Filed under: American Life and Society,Sports and Athletics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:30

phelps.jpgEarlier this week, a photograph showing 14-time Olympic gold medalist and professional swimmer Michael Phelps smoking marijuana from a water bong was leaked to the press. The photo was published by News of the World and was allegedly taken when Phelps was partying with a girlfriend at the University of South Carolina in early November 2008. Yesterday, the Olympic Swimming Committee handed Phelps a 3-month suspension and today Kellogg dropped him as a sponsor and is not renewing his endorsement contract. While generally speaking I am a fairly liberal person, I have a low threshold of tolerance for drug use and abuse.

Many people think marijuana is an “innocent” drug and claim it is safer than alcohol and should be legalized because of its strong medicinal value and relatively “harmless” effects. These people are dead-wrong. Research has shown that one marijuana joint causes the same amount of lung damage as between 2.5-5 tobacco cigarettes. If every American quit smoking cigarettes, 1 out of every 3 hospitals could be permanently closed! As a Nurse Practitioner who has worked in Pulmonary Critical Care for over 5-years now and from my RN experience managing patients in the Emergency Department who are slowly reaching their deaths from asphyxiation, I have witnessed the horrific effects of smoking first-hand.

Legalizing marijuana would only further cripple our healthcare system and drain even more resources from federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid that are already pouring-in millions of taxpayer dollars annually to care for smokers who have acquired debilitating lung diseases which make their lives an absolute living hell. Watching a patient gasp for air because their lung tissue is ravaged by emphysema, seeing patients die painful and difficult deaths due to lung cancers which have spread through their chest and brain, and witnessing a patient fail medication regimens because lung diseases are non-reversible is one of the most heart-breaking and challenging aspects of my practice. And of course, the crimes supported by the purchasing of marijuana  have devastating effects on our society. Gang-related crime, murder, and theft are just a few crimes perpetuated by the purchase of marijuana.

Marijuana is not an “innocent” drug and it’s essential that Americans understand that. Michael Phelps is a role model that millions of children admire. He represents the athleticism of America and the victory and success that hard work and dedication can ultimately provide. Being caught in a photograph isn’t Phelps’ issue here. The real issue is that he made a terrible decision that not only poorly reflects his character but has far-reaching negative impacts. Phelps deserves to lose sponsorships and the money that comes with it. But perhaps even worse, he has simultaneously lost the respect of people all across the world. Forgiveness is divine and after all, Phelps is only a 23 year-old young man and 23 year-old young men often make immature mistakes. But repairing a reputation that was built over years and years of hard work but destroyed in a matter or minutes might take the rest of his life. For more information about smoking cessation and the damages caused by smoking cigarettes and marijuana, please visit the Web Site of the American Lung Association at http://www.lungsusa.org.

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