Friday, October 31, 2008

Legislating Love


Surrounded by friends and family in a traditional circle of love, their unremitting smiles warming my heart that sunny day on the beach in Cape May. Two close friends vowed their love and lives together. A culmination of 9 years of happiness, loyalty and love through good times and bad…a perfect example of what a marriage should be.


In a 4-3 decision, Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state's civil union law and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Connecticut thus joins Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriages. But these progressive inroads to equality are quickly being challenged. In a few days, Proposition 8 will be voted on in California to overturn the courts ruling by banning same-sex marriage. Similar legislation is being issued in Florida and Arizona.

Religious conservatives note that California sets cultural trends for the rest of the country and even the world. They fear that if same-sex marriage is allowed to become entrenched in California, it will open the floodgates to same-sex marriages everywhere. “This vote on whether to stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “We lose [Proposition 8], we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.” 1

Argument 1 insists that churches will be forced to perform weddings because churches have a tax-exempt status and that the separation of church and state is a guise by which they hide the approval of these laws. The Massachusetts high court in 2004 held that same-sex marriages were legal. It has been four years since this groundbreaking decision, and there has yet to be a lawsuit against a church not sanctifying a same-sex marriage. Rev. Karen Sapio, the minister of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Southern California, “I have not heard of a single Catholic church forced to marry someone who has been divorced, or a rabbi forced to perform an interfaith marriage or an evangelical church forced to marry a couple who has been living together.” 1

According to the Code of Canon Law 1084, antecedent and perpetual impotence at the time of marriage invalidates the marriage.2 Hedir Antonio de Brito, a paraplegic man, was two weeks away from marrying Elzimar de Lourdes Serafim when he received a shocking letter from the local bishop denying their application for a marriage certificate since his condition rendered him impotent. A requirement for marriage in the Catholic Church is that both parties must be “open to children”. If it is known that one party is unable to produce children, the marriage can be annulled on that basis alone.3 Although this took place in Brazil, the Catholic Church throughout the world, has rules governing who can marry, and despite lack of case law in the United States, the government has never attempted to legislate these church rules.

Argument 2

Glenn Stanton, Director of Social Research and Cultural Affairs for Focus On The Family argues that it “would open the door to polygamy” because the first same-sex marriage that was issued in Massachusetts, the couple commented that they will have an ‘open marriage’. Polygamy was taught and practiced by Joseph Smith, Jr. and formally introduced to the public in 1852. Mr. Smith was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was the foundation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.4 Ergo in the name of the church, polygamy was first introduced through Christianity. And although the church officially abandoned the practice in 1890,4 anyone who has opened a newspaper over this past year is aware that polygamy is still being practiced.

Argument 3

“The traditional family, supported by more than 5,000 years of human experience, is still the foundation on which the well-being of future generations depends.”5 Let’s see how this ‘foundation’ has done thus far:

The CDC reported for 2005:

· Marriage rate: 7.5 per 1,000 total population
· Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population

According to Child Maltreatment 2006, the most recent report of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect...
…And, one or both parents were responsible for 75.9 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. As of September 30, 2005, there were an estimated 513,000 children in foster care in the U.S. alone.6

Justice Barbara A. Madsen wrote in the an opinion upholding the ban on gay marriage in Washington State, “Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents.”7 Despite ignorance rooted in Ms. Madsen’s statement, many people should not be procreating and are in no way fit to raise children. By the way, there are 6.7 billion people on this planet and a current growth trajectory expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2042.8 What we need for the human race to survive is compassion.

Argument 4

“No culture needs same-sex marriage…if it was necessary, it would have been invented earlier.” 9 Let’s see…Women’s Suffrage…1920…Civil Rights Act…1964. It is never too late for progress, and equality is always necessary.

Argument 5

“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard N. Palmer declared in the 4-to-3 majority decision for the Connecticut Supreme Court. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”10

But why aren’t Civil Unions sufficient? Civil unions still deny the same financial, social and emotional benefits accorded in a marriage. Therefore producing what the court called a “suspect class”- a group, like blacks or women, that has experienced a history of discrimination and was thus entitled to increased scrutiny and protection by the state in the promulgation of its laws.10


It is not about a bride and a groom, a bride and a bride, or a groom and a groom. It is about two consenting adults vowing their love to one another. Cynics will say that love is not enough to create a future together, but it is the key ingredient that is missing in almost half of the marriages each year. Because love is truly rare, when you find someone to love, hold and cherish him or her, and make sure no law prevents you from sharing your lives the same way that needs be entitled to everyone.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
-- Corinthians 13:7-8

1 “A Line in the Sand for Same-Sex Marriage Foes,” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, 10/27/2008
5 “Two Mommies Is One Too Many,” by James C. Dobson, Time Magazine, December 18, 2006
7 “Washington Court Upholds Ban On Gay Marriage,” by Adam Liptak and Timothy Egan, The New York Times, July 17, 2006.
10 “Connecticut Ruling Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Marriage,” by Sharon Otterman, The New York Times, October 11, 2008

Congratulations A&J, and M&G! Best wishes to you always!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paying For Your Life

“Aren’t you kind of young for this?” inquires the pharmacist at my local Walgreens. “It would seem that way except my mother was just diagnosed with colon cancer two months ago. So I am doing this as a precaution.” The pharmacist eyes widened, “Oh my gosh, I ‘m sorry.” “It’s ok…she is fine now thank god,” both breathing a collective sigh of relief.

My mother, a 59-year old of relative good health, underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy to try to find out the reason she has always suffered stomachaches. Having dismissed it as something minor, both her and her doctor assumed they would just find some digestive valves not working.

Three days after the procedure, my mother phoned, asking me to come over after work. When I arrived, my father and her were sitting at the table. Composed, she explained that a tumor was removed during the colonoscopy and that the biopsy revealed it was malignant. Located near her appendix, this would require her to undergo surgery to remove a section of her large intestine, blood vessels, and lymph nodes all in the area where the tumor had been located, making sure the cancer did not spread. Cancer? Our family? Unable to hold back the tears, my sobs became uncontrollable. My mother’s once calm demeanor morphed as well.

A tense two weeks followed, but after a successful surgery and a clean biopsy, my mother was given the ‘green light.’ Now it was my turn. Although harboring my own fears of the outcome, I knew that I was doing the best for my health and if something was wrong-catching it early. My parents motto to my brother and I was that our health was most important. With that in mind, I made the arrangements.

Schedule the doctor, the hospital, pick up my ‘enjoyable’ prep-pack, and call the various billing departments to find out how much out-of –pocket I would be responsible for. Having insurance, I was floored by the $873.21 I shelled out for a 20-minute procedure. Maybe I should have had them take a kidney out while they were there so I could try to sell it to pay this medical bill. And this grand total is WITHOUT anesthesia.

When I was thirteen years old, I had a tonsillectomy, and remembered my parents’ shock at the cost of the anesthesiologist bill. With that engrained in my memory, I explained to my doctor that I do not want anesthesia for this. Understanding, it was the nurses that then urged me to ‘go-under’ when they wheeled me in. Explaining once again, it wasn’t necessary. After pressing me further, I told them flatly, “Not unless you want to pay the extra 700 dollars.” With that, silence.

Doctors, nurses, health care professionals…these are the people in our society that should be making the most money. Not actors, or sports figures, but those who choose to save lives, or at least help make lives longer and healthier. I begrudge them nothing, but there needs to be point where their efforts and the institutions they work for and with, do not cause people financial strain, and in many cases, bankruptcy.

The main reason so many people lack health insurance is because of its cost.(1) Currently 47 million Americans are without insurance(2) and increasingly, this is a problem for the middle class, not just the underemployed. Seventy-four percent of people without insurance are part of working families; sometimes they can’t afford their employer’s health plan (employee premiums have skyrocketed 74 percent since 2000) or their job doesn’t provide benefits. Michelle Jones is a single mother of two working as a case manager at a center for brain-injured adults. Grossing $36,000 a year, rent already gobbled half her take-home pay. The medical coverage that was offered with cost her over $200 per pay period and there was still a $500 deductible. Crunching the numbers, she turned down the coverage.(3)

For those looking to gain insurance, they can have doors slammed in their face because the insurance company may suspect that they will not make money off of you. Cheryl Gorham eats right; exercises regularly…can’t even remember the last time she took a sick day from work. Applying for an individual health plan, she was baffled when she was denied. “I’m young, I’m healthy, I don’t smoke,” says the 42-year old. “I never thought I’d have a problem getting insurance.” Turns out, the insurance company cited preexisting conditions, namely uterine fibroids and “infertility with consultation/treatment.” She had experienced bleeding from fibroids while on birth control pills but once she went off the Pill, the bleeding stopped. As for infertility, Cheryl had been trying to get pregnant but with no success. Her doctor sent her for a hormone test, which came back normal but the simple fact that he’d given her a referral, made Cheryl uninsurable. “I had no idea that anything you tell your doctor can wind up hurting you.” (3)

Even with the phony safety net of insurance, you can still be denied treatments and pay outrageous out-of-pocket expenses. In 1999, Sandy Flanigan was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Her insurance company promptly raised her monthly premiums to more than $2,000. Over the next four years, Sandy received chemotherapy and immunoglobulin treatments to boost her immune system costing $46,000. This expense does not include the doctor bills, body scans, lab charges, medicines, vitamins and special food. Sandy sold her jewelry, car and dining room set. She and her husband cashed in annuities and, as a last resort, their children’s college funds. One illness has shattered her family financially. Sandy had worked all her adult life and always carried health insurance, yet she cannot obtain the care that might keep her alive. An estimated fifty five percent of bankruptcy cases are caused at least in part by medical bills. As Sandy puts it, “you’re one diagnosis from being where I am.” (3)

Even people like my mother who had no symptoms, was lucky enough to find this tumor at the early stages, but even that ran a bill of almost $45,000. Screenings are recommended to start at age 50, but many people refuse because they cannot afford them. Deaths could be cut in half, meaning 26,000 lives a year could be saved, if all those who need screening where to receive it.(4) What costs $2000 for a pre-emptive colonoscopy could cost an insurance company tens of thousands for extended care for letting a condition develop further. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy…for a tumor that might have been easily cured if it had only been found sooner. And why wouldn’t health insurers want their ‘customers’ to live longer and therefore, pay more premiums? Because with older age, usually concludes more health care expenses that an insurance company would have to pay out. With that, they look for excuses to deny coverage.

At 65-years old, Mary Rose Derks began scrimping together about $100 out of her grocery fund each month to pay for an insurance policy that promised to pay eventually for a room in a assisted living home. Twelve years later, after bouts of hypertension and diabetes had hospitalized her dozens of times, she reluctantly agreed it was time. Moving into Beehive Homes, she filed a claim with her insurer, Conseco. Conseco denied her claim stated that Beehive Homes was not an approved facility despite its state license and that Mrs. Derks was not sufficiently infirm, despite her early-stage dementia and the 37 pills she takes each day. More than four years has passed and she has yet to receive a penny from Conseco while her family has paid about $70,000. “The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims,” said Mary Beth Senkewicz, who resigned last year as a senior executive at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.”(5)

With insurance companies having a stranglehold on our lives, we need each individual to push policymakers to enact regulation to protect Americans from financial devastation due to improper insurance and overwhelming medical bills. So far the cries have not been loud enough…in October 2007, a bill providing health insurance for 10 million children failed to override President Bush’s veto.(6) Administration officials had stated that it should be the states that make better use of the money they already have.(7) This is unacceptable and each representative that did not vote to override the bill, should have their constituents vote them out of office. Health care affects each American and there are representatives that want to help.

Visit your governor’s, senators’, and representatives’ websites to see if he or she has prioritized reforming health insurance. You can find their contact information at Call, write or send an email outlining your concerns. Also go to the National Conference of State Legislatures ( for up-to-date information on which states have proposed health-insurance legislation. Numerous non-profit organizations are dedicated to health-care reform such as CodeBlueNow! ( and Health Care for All. The Commonwealth Fund ( has a quarterly online newsletter that outlines state initiatives...sign up and get informed!

How much will you pay for your life?

(1)“Health Care as if Costs Didn’t Matter”, David Leonhardt, New York Times, June 7, 2007
(2)“Health Plan Used by U.S Is Debated as a Model”, Reed Abelson, New York Times, October 24, 2007
(3) “How Bad Does the Health-Care Crisis Have to Get”, Fran Smith, Redbook, June 2007
(4) “Cancer Patients, Lost in a Maze of Uneven Care,” Denise Grady, The New York Times, July 30, 2007
(5)“Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers,” Charles Duhigg, The New York Times, March 26, 2007
(6)“House Fails to Override Child Health Bill Veto,” David Stout and Robert Pear, The New York Times, October 18, 2007
(7)“Child Health Care Splits White House and States”, Robert Pear, The New York Times, March 1, 2007

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Country Music Half Marathon

Marathon Weekend-Thursday, April 24th to Sunday, April 27th: Despite many people staying in to rest the first night in Nashville, Janine and I closed down the bars. Hitting up numerous spots, we knew Friday night would be early to bed. Setting a 3:30am wake-up call, I awoke to Janine yelling, “Geiss, you gonna get that?” Morning person, I am not. Janine, however, was ready to go! Dragging my feet all the way to the hotel lobby for a group photo, we then packed into the buses and heading out to Centennial Park where the race was to begin at 7am. It was raining at a steady pace and we spent the next two hours finding new ways to stay dry.

Our corral finally started at 7:40am and the rain subsided at that point but it remained overcast. Thousands of spectators cheered throughout the entire course. Nervous about the “rolling hills”, my legs took better to the ups and downs than I thought they would. I was able to stay ‘in the zone’ for the first six miles when I realized I should probably get a little water, though most of it ends up on you rather than in you, my clothes were now wet from the earlier rains, sweat and dribbled water that was meant to be ingested. By mile 12, I hit a wall (no, not literally). Blisters were forming on my feet and sweat was pooled in every orifice. Even the theme from Rocky was not motivating me!

My mind turned to the previous evening…huddled in our TNT chapter after the Pasta Party, one by one; people stood up and told stories of how blood cancers have affected their lives and the ones they love. One young woman burst into tears at the memory of her brother that she lost three years ago. Sobbing, “…he was my best friend”, my eyes welled-up. Why didn’t anyone tell me to bring Kleenex?! As if that wasn’t enough, another woman cried out that her mother just called and told her that her brother’s liver just failed and would not have much longer to live. So at mile 12, I thought about these people and what they were going through. My legs heavy, my whole body aching and wet, I had nothing to complain about. The pain and exhaustion I felt was insignificant compared to what these people were going through. So with the last ounce of energy I had left, I kept running. Crossing the finish line in my personal best time of 2 hours 16 minutes and 39 seconds. But I was not alone. Each one of you, who donated and supported me through my training, was there with me. It might sound ‘hokey’, but it is true.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Missing blogging and hope to get some posts up soon but life came out me fast and haven't had time to sit and collect my thoughts. Stick with me...will back in action soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Published...Again!

Titled "The Industrialized Distortion of Our Life Cycles"

Check it out at:


Monday, February 11, 2008

Who Wants To Be Me?

That's strange...a Macy’s bill? I cannot remember the last time I was at a Macy’s. Tearing open the envelope and expecting it to display around $30, which is the usual amount I would charge on the card, the account summary read: New balance = $657.68. Minimum payment due on July 9. Eyes widen taking in the numbers once more...$657.68. As I scroll down, the account details list three separate transactions all on June 14, 2006 at the White Plains store in New York. White Plains? I have never even been to White Pla...Oh my god...I’ve been robbed!

Luggage, Lauren bedding, Baby Phat, Girls 2-14 Furnishings…a list of items I have never purchased were now listed on my account. Immediately I contacted customer service at Macy’s to try to get this matter cleared up but instead, another nightmare was still to come.

After speaking to three different account representatives, I had learned that someone had visited the store in White Plains with a Massachusetts Driver’s License with my name on it. I have never lived in Massachusetts so Macy’s does not have a current or previous address for me there. Why was this driver’s license accepted? No response. Ironically, the bill still came to my Florida address. Guess Macy's didn’t update their computers with my "new" Massachusetts one. Not only was this accepted by Macy’s as valid proof of identification, since the person did not have my Macy’s card, but they allowed her to give an incorrect phone number AND year of birth! To add insult to injury, my new birth year was 1970. At least she could have made me younger, not 8 years older. This imposter also added a password on my account..."Chase". Some sense of humor!

Would have been slightly comforting to know that when the thief went back to the store on 6/27 to place a $1170.00 charge, that it wasn't just denied because it was over the credit limit but because I had already called and alerted them to them to the fraud. Not to mention, the perfect opportunity to catch and arrest this person. Instead, she escaped and vanished.

Livid at the complete disregard for my personal information, I was ready to wage war on Macy’s. They agreed after a 90-day investigation that it was their fault and would take the charges off of my account but that had little resolve for me. I wanted to make sure that this did not happen to anyone else, contacting numerous lawyers, my calls went unanswered. No one wanted to take the case, especially since it was under $1000 and Macy’s took the charge off. But this could happen to someone else since Macy’s obviously does not care about their customer’s safety. My rants feel on deaf ears. Even the police shrugged off my calls. Sure they filed a report and when I picked it up, I could see the traces of raspberry-filling smeared on it.

Trying to put aside my anger, I focused on future safeguards:

1. Pay cash at restaurants and any other stores/services where they take your credit card out of sight to run. Special hand-held devices can store all the card information if swiped or the person can simply write down the information.
2. Shred all bills and documents.
3. Do online banking...and shopping. Many credit card companies still list your credit card account number on each bill you receive. If a bill is misplaced or stolen in the mail, someone now has your name, address and credit card number. Not to mention, your credit limit. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, only 12 percent of identity theft occurs online while 63 percent could be traced to traditional retail shopping. The web addresses should start with https. When online, be wary of phishing through pop-ups or asking you to re-login or re-enter information.
4. Opt-out of preapproved credit offers. More information that can get misplaced in the mail. To opt out, call 888-567-8688. Do not let you bank share information about you with other financial institutions. Call your bank to make sure!
5. Make a photocopy (front and back) of all the cards you carry in your wallet and keep in a secure place. If your wallet is stolen, you have all the information you need to start calling the card companies and closing your accounts and if needed, reissuing new ones.
6. Make sure the credit cards you have offer a zero liability for fraud.
7. Never answer unsolicited phone or email messages about your accounts, even if they sound or look legitimate.
8. Do not disclose your social security number nor carry your card in your wallet. Doctor’s offices almost always ask for your social security number...why? THEY DO NOT NEED IT. They have your insurance information and that is all they need to file a claim.
9. Medical ID fraud accounts for 200,000 ID thefts a year. Protect your insurance card as carefully as your credit cards. Be selective about where you get care- avoid clinics that advertise free exams as they may just want to copy your health insurance information.

If you have been a victim of identity theft:

1. Contact the issuing card bureau of the theft. Make sure they open an investigation and close or freeze your account.
2. Go to to obtain a list of steps and important resource links.
3. File a police report. Not that anything usually comes from it but your creditors will need to see that you have taken this step. Anyone who has filed an identity theft report with a police agency can have a "security alert" placed on his/her credit bureau file for up to seven years.
4. Order a credit report a few times a year. You are even entitled to one annually from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
5. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (877-438-4338).
6. If mail has been stolen, alert your post office.

Approximately 9 million Americans will fall prey to identity thieves this year, and only one in 700 cases will be prosecuted. A risk-reward equation that suggests these kinds of criminals will keep multiplying.("'Tis The Season For ID Theft", Kadlec) Even with safeguards in place, companies that contain sensitive customer financial data can be pilfered by identity thieves. In early 2003, an intruder had gained access to a computer system containing the private records of customers, including credit and debit cards, check’s and driver’s license numbers for The TJX Companies. Unless you have all your money in a shoebox under your bed and pay cash for everything, you are at risk. Best bet is to always keep track of your statements before you find out that someone wants to be your clone!

Other helpful websites:
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse:
Identity Theft Resource Center:
Internet Crime Complaint Center:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Help Me Race to Save Lives!


I am training to participate in a half marathon (13.1 miles) event as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training. Team In Training raises funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives.

Although I have never done a marathon this of this length, I have found inspiration in my friend Terri Lavelle. A former rugby teammate who took on the 2% odds of surviving Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and has now been in remission for four years.

I'm taking part in this event in honor of Terri and all individuals who are battling these cancers and hope that enough research will expand treatments and one day, find a cure!

Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance the Society's mission, or get involved by training for an event or volunteering. I believe we can all be heroes, everyday, by showing compassion for one another.

Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress.
Thank you for your support!

Donations are tax-deductible! Tax ID 135644916.