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6:06 pm EST        45°F (7°C) in Walcott, IA

Calendar of Updates

This update is being made from the parking lot of the world's largest truck stop — the Iowa 80, located roughly 20 miles west of the Quad Cities along Interstate 80. For those of you who have never seen Iowa 80, this place is monstrous. Roughly 800 trucks can park here, according to the billboards along I-80; my personal guess would put the number of spaces closer to 1000. Sixteen fuel lanes, 23 showers, three fast-food and one sit-down restaurant(s), two truck washes, and perhaps the most complete "trucker's store" I've seen anywhere complete the package of services this place offers. They must literally have 8-10 acres of space here; once you pull into the driveway, you can go close to ¼ mile before you reach the back end of their grounds.

Rumor has it, though, the Iowa 80 will soon lose its claim to "world's largest truck stop," as plans are said to be afoot to build an even larger facility along Interstate 40 near Forrest City, AR (roughly 45 miles west of Memphis). The more truck parking that can be built, the better; many drivers, myself included, can often find themselves in a struggle to find a legal place to park for the night. The recent change in the federal hours-of-service laws only exacerbated the problem; drivers must now take 10 hours off-duty instead of eight. Not to say that parking is a problem everywhere — certainly in the Quad Cities area, it's not a problem at all — but certain areas are prone to parking shortages. Interstate 81 in Virginia, except between Lexington and Staunton, sticks out in my mind as one prime example.

So Bushie went and did it Tuesday. He has now officially come out in support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. As I said here Sunday, this country obviously hasn't learned its lesson from 1865. Back then, the South had just had its ass thoroughly kicked and handed to it in response to its recalcitrance on the issue of slavery. We told them discrimination against non-whites was wrong, and specifically forced them to accept three new constitutional amendments banning many forms of discrimination as a condition for re-entry to the Union. It's not like that stopped the idiots in the South; they kept Jim Crow laws until the 1970s, when the courts finally started to get involved in the business of integration, and to this day you see Confederate flags and hear about the occasional cross-burning or hate crime.

Around 1970, some of these people must have seen that racial discrimination was becoming a dead end, and they shifted their focus to sex. The South became the hotbed of a less-than-honest form of "religion," often preached by the extremist, bigoted likes of Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps. During the 1980s, leaders of this movement got the Republican Party to sell its soul (to Satan, quite frankly) in the name of votes from the blinded followers of these people. Fast-forward to the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and suddenly these people felt they had free rein to install their backward ideas as government. Instead of actually helping to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by distributing condoms to people likely to use them, the CDC and other health organizations must now try to placate the bloody-murder screams of those who insanely equate the practice to renting 14-year-olds a room for the night. And now, of course, they're going for their pièce de résistance, this gay-marriage constitutional amendment.

Although this will go up again once I re-install Adobe Photoshop and can add new sections to the site, here's my view. Either you invalidate every marriage in the nation, in the legal sense — probably not gonna happen — or you give the legal rights and responsibilities currently reserved for heterosexual married couples to any pair of consenting adults. It's as simple as that. Any other solution is unconstitutional.

Now, do I give a rat's ass what this is called — "civil unions," "gay marriage," "EKKI-EKKI-EKKI-PIKANG-ZOOM-BOINGing"? (Apologies to Monty Python.) Absolutely not. Frankly, the fact that a majority of Americans seems to be caught up in the semantics is quite sad. Give us the rights, no matter what you want to call them, and you've got a deal. As for religious denominations, they will be allowed to do whatever the hell they want to do; they can perform these ceremonies, refuse to perform them, condemn the legal status, shout fire-and-brimstone threats to the "homosexual lifestyle" — the First Amendment protects their right to do so. At the same time, however, the First Amendment guarantees me the right that Falwell & Co. can't run the show, not even with 270 or so of their puppets in Congress and the White House. To paraphrase a saying of the so-called "religious right," separation of church and state guarantees us BOTH freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

Finally, to all those of you who claim that allowing gay marriage opens up a "slippery slope" of lawsuits from those who claim that their bigamy, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, etc., must also be permitted, let's face one fact. The above activities are illegal for everybody. Marriage, on the other hand, is currently a legal yet exclusionary activity that gives tangible legal benefits to those who partake in it; per the Fourteenth Amendment, such legal benefits cannot be denied to people who seek them. By the same token that state laws prohibiting interracial marriage were struck down in the 1960s, laws prohibiting two people of the same gender from obtaining the legal benefits of marriage today must also be not only struck down, but kept out of the supreme law of the land — the Constitution — by any means necessary. (Which brings me to ask one final question: Do these people realize that no amendment to ban gay marriage can pass muster without at least a partial repeal of the First and Fourteenth Amendments?)

Go ahead, Wacko Righties, and condemn me to hell all you want. Your views on religion vs. homosexuality will be proven to be the myths they are in a yet-to-be-created section of this site.

Rant complete. Anyway, tomorrow it's off to Chicago to get another load, and then off to New Jersey for a Monday delivery.