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Saturday , October 20 2018
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Fifty Years and Counting: The Marriage of Mr. and Ms. Heimer

For me, I don’t when it started, or how it even began. But, somehow my life began to resemble that of Zsa Zsa Gabor. My relationships score is almost on par with hers.

If our love lives were scored like an MLB batter, we would have been out of the game a long time ago! And that, my friends, seems to be a growing trend.

The world is moving too fast, and our concept of love and marriage is changing. When I was younger people would marry, and stay married, that’s just how it was.

But that has changed. It seems that more and more people change spouses as often as some of us change our underpants. It’s sad.

I spoke to a few of my friends about their thoughts on marriage and was blown away by their ideas and beliefs. Let me share just a few of their thoughts with you.

Stephanie told me that she thought marriage was never to be only one man and one woman. “Getting married is like when my grandparents, or parents were going steady,” she told me. “You get married to someone you would date long term. Then, when you are done a divorce is easy.” She snapped her fingers when she said “easy.”

Then there is Muhammed Siraj Adeel. I’ve known Muhammad since the army from the United Arab Emirates was stationed, and training at Ft. Bliss. Muhammad and I are the same age, and I expected him to have a much different belief on marriage than what he expressed.

“Marriage must be equal partnership,” he began. “Most think because I am Muslim I must have many wives. Not so. Amina is all I need for this life, and we teach this to our children. We teach they must find one love, and love them with all they have.”

Then there is my sister, Nancy Gomez. She has never said “I love you” to the person she is with. “I think people over use that word,” she said. “And what most people perceive as love is lust or comfort.” I need to find someone my sister will fall in love with, and then be able to say “I love you” to! (Hey, one can wish, right?)

Muhammad, who now lives in New York City comment on what he sees today.
“Too often marriage is seen as a throwaway part of life. ‘It didn’t work so I will find another woman or man’ is what younger people think. I won’t even start on this thing I see of open relationships and open marriages!”

After talking to another of my friends, David Sabor.

“The marriage Bri and I have works,” he pointed out, sounding just a tad bit defensive. “It works because we have a truly open marriage. If just to show you, Bri does not feel like being with me, or me with her, we can seek other partners and still come home to each other.”

Again, he sounded defensive in his answers, so I must wonder about that.

I also wanted to ask some of my friends what makes a marriage work. What keeps them with that person, even when they want to tie bricks to them and toss them into a river.

“Being equal,” is how Muhammad started. “And being in love.”

“Lots and lots of liquor!” Okay, when Ryan said this he was laughing. “It’ takes a sense of humor at best. And a vast quantity of forgiveness!”

Jay and Daisy Wills I met when I lived in New York City. They used to own one of my favorite bookstores in all of NYC. “It has to be give and take, finding the happy middle ground,” Daisy mentioned.

“What you need, we all need, is time away from one another,” was Jay’s answer.
“Once a year we take separate vacations and sow our wild oats, be who with who we need to be.”

When I told them this is almost the definition of an open marriage, or of swingers, they both laughed.

“No,” said Daisy, “It’s in the Bible. We are commanded to do this.”

I wondered just what version of the Bible they were reading. But, that got me thinking. I do know one couple that has been married for almost fifty-two years. FIFTY-TWO YEARS! I can’t even figure out what I am going to be doing ten minutes from now, much less fifty-two years from now.

Karl and Jeanette Heimer met over fifty-two years ago in Central Texas. Back then people didn’t rush into marriage or sexual relationships. They took the time to get to know each other, and the other person family.

That seems to be a very rare thing these days.

I was able to sit down with them and talk about their marriage, and what they would say to people looking for someone to marry.

Listening to the both Mr. and Ms. Heimer, I think the world be a better place, as far as marriages go. Some of their advice just seems to be lacking in today’s modern world.

One of the things Ms. Heimer pointed out is taking the time to get to know the other person before you marry them.

Oh, and do I know more than a few people that were married after only a week or two of dating. That’s what happened with me and my ex-wife, we were married after only a couple of weeks. No surprise that it didn’t last.

Mr. and Ms. Heimer also point to their faith as another key part of making their marriage work. Muhammad and Richard and Beth Owens agree.

“The ten commandments are a good guide,” says Ms. Heimer. “Do not kill, do not steal, do not take, do not trespass into the other person’s territory.”

“I agree with Ms. Heimer,” said Beth after she watched the video. “We can take what we read in the Bible and apply it to our lives, which will give us the happiest of marriages,” Richard said he couldn’t agree more.

“Though I am Muslim, I must agree with these wonderful people, the Heimers,” said Muhammad.

“For me, Allah has said for me to be most faithful to Amina. I believe God will bless us we make the keeping of this commandment. Jew, Christian, Muslim. Make God partner in marriage, and marriage will be most beautiful.”

“We must not if we are persons of faith,” cautioned Amina, “have a marriage that bars God.”

Pastor Heimer says we must continue to improve our relationship, “by going out for dinner, doing things she likes, and from my point of view, doing things I like.”

Another bit of advice that Pastor Heimer mentioned was to think of the other person. It’s too easy for us, even if we are married, or in a long term relationship, to become self-centered. Think of the “man cave” where guys go to escape and do many things. This was just how my father acted.

William Cottingham, my father, was rather self-centered. For me, he was the worst example of how marriage was to work. Over the last few years, I’ve determined to do the exact opposite of what he did. And what did he do? Would come home and watch television. That’s it. TV from the time he came home until he went to bed.

What family outings we did have were mainly because of the grandparents.
When my grandmother Josephine invited us somewhere, we would go. Outside of that, he was not thinking of anyone else, much less my mom, Janet. So Pastor Heimer’s advice is something I wish my father had known and taken to heart.

“Love the Lord your God with your all your heart,” the Heimers say together. “And love your neighbor as yourself.” Then, Ms. Heimer adds, “and you have to start with yourself.” That is a good place to start.

“I got this belief that all my marriages fall flat,” says Divina Sobiach, “because I just hated myself. Nothing good came from my childhood. Not a thing. That left me just not liking myself for some reasons. Ms. Heimer is right. When I turned thirty, I began to love myself. That changed my life.”

Divina says she is making sure that both of her daughters grow up not only their value and self-worth but also how to love themselves.

“Marriage is like a lifetime workshop,” says Ms. Heimer. You also get to know yourself during that life time she points out, and I think she is right.

We could all learn a lot from Mr. and Ms. Heimer. The lessons they have for us are the same ones they shared with their children.

There is one thing most everyone I showed the video to agrees about, “You want your marriage to work,” said Amina, “no matter your faith, or where you may be finding yourself in life, watch and listen to what these two dear people have to say.” What Amina says summed it up for the others.

You can watch the video by clicking the picture at the top of the article.  Watching this video, and spending twenty minutes with the Heimers will be time well spent.

Study: Legalizing Gay Marriage Brings Drop in Teen Suicides

HOUSTON – New research says state laws legalizing same-sex marriage have brought a reduction in suicide attempts among high-school students.

The study particularly notes a decline in suicides among gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers in those states, prior to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage.

Advocates for the Texas LGBT community are hoping that trend will continue. Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, says laws granting civil rights can have a profound effect on a person’s self-image.

“The larger takeaway is, this is a study that can begin to make a connection between policies or laws that either affirm or stigmatize people and their psychological and physical health,” he said.

The study from Johns Hopkins University found in an average year, three in 10 gay teenagers attempt suicide, six times the rate for straight teens. But in states where gay marriage was legalized, there was a 14-percent drop in suicide attempts by gay teens. The authors say while the study doesn’t directly link the two events, it suggests additional studies to see if the trend continues.

Smith says gay teens are often stigmatized or bullied because of their sexuality, and that laws granting them civil rights can make them more hopeful for the future, and less inclined to harm themselves.

“If laws and policies are enacted that are affirming of lesbian and gay people’s sexual identity, that actually can have an effect of reducing the triggers that could negatively impact mental and physical health,” he explained.

He says recent events in Texas confirm that acceptance, by the legal system and society, is critical to people who are gay.

“We saw in Houston after their non-discrimination ordinance was repealed, there was an increase in calls to suicide-prevention lines,” he added.

The research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, reviewed published data about more than 750,000 adolescents from 47 states, with 231,000 identifying themselves as gay. The researchers did not study transgender students.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

A Year Later, Gay Marriage Debate Shifts in Texas

When Collin Acock became engaged to Shane Parsons in New York in August 2014, the Austin couple anticipated returning to New York to marry the next summer.

When they realized last year that the U.S. Supreme Court could legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in Obergefell v. Hodges, however, the “incredible possibility of us getting married at home in Texas came up,” Acock said. They made plans to hold the ceremony immediately if that decision came down. On June 26, 2015, it did, and the couple promptly wed at the Travis County Courthouse.

A year later, like hundreds of other gay people in Texas, Acock will celebrate his first wedding anniversary on Sunday. “I’d never thought that that was going to be a possibility for me, for any gay people,” said Acock, 37. “It just never was on my radar until it was becoming a reality.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services doesn’t keep track of same-sex marriage numbers, but officials estimated that more than 465 couples received licenses in 10 counties within the first day. Chuck Smith, the chief executive officer of the advocacy group Equality Texas, said “thousands” have likely married since the ruling, and this weekend marks the anniversary of a “momentous decision.”

But settled law is not the same as settled politics, and resistance to same-sex marriage in Texas has not gone away — it’s just changed focus, according to lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Still angry about the Supreme Court’s mandate, some conservative lawmakers hope that it is someday overturned. In the meantime, they expect to propose a series of what they call religious liberty bills to blunt its impact. Those efforts worry liberal advocacy groups — Steve Rudner, with Equality Texas, called them “backlash” to the marriage decision — who argue such legislation is discriminatory.

Both sides agree that last year’s landmark ruling ignited a debate over social issues in Texas that will demand the attention of the next Legislature.

Conservatives pivot to “religious liberty”

Nationwide, celebrations greeted the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. But in Texas, whose longtime ban on same-sex marriage was overturned, some lawmakers made it clear that the debate was not over.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly condemned the decision as federal overreach. Attorney General Ken Paxton declared “religious liberty” the next fight, charging that “the debate over the issue of marriage has increasingly devolved into personal and economic aggression against people of faith who have sought to live their lives consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

ttSmSxPaxton issued an opinion suggesting that county clerks could refuse to hand out same-sex marriage licenses but might face litigation, as one later did.

A year later, opposition to same-sex marriage for religious reasons has become the focal point of demands that the Texas Legislature act in response.

“I do think that it is very important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that part of religious freedom is that citizens do have that inherent right to not have to do things that put them at odds with their religion,” said state Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., R-Magnolia.

State Sen. Charles Perry, a Lubbock Republican who described the ruling as an “assault on family values,” expects that charge to be a focus when lawmakers convene next year.

“I’m not going to be surprised at whatever level on both sides this is attacked,” Perry said.

While Perry has not seen specific legislation, he hopes the Legislature addresses the rights of businesses to choose whom to work with — such as same-sex couples — and suggested “that’ll be one of the more contentious debates.”

Some laws have already passed: Before the Supreme Court decision last year, the 84th Legislature passed the Pastor Protection Act, which allows clergy members to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. Some lawmakers have suggested more responses along those lines, such as allowing religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples or granting tax accommodations to religious organizations.

Bell said he would not be surprised to see proposals to limit the abilities of cities to extend anti-discrimination protections to gay and transgender people. Lawmakers also expect to debate transgender people’s bathroom access.

Perry argues that the federal government has forced Texas to address the issue. “It will unfortunately take up time during the session,” he said. “I hate that, but at the end of the day, it’s important. The underlying principle here is that we had a Supreme Court that overran.”

Freedom or discrimination?

Conservative rhetoric about religious freedom alarms gay rights advocates, who often refer to religious liberty legislation as “license to discriminate” laws. They say they are preparing to fight an onslaught of legislation they view as hostile to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Smith, of Equality Texas, described the debate as one that is not partisan, but “reasonable people versus extremists.”

“What they’re doing is turning to these religious refusal laws in which they try and give an out for folks,” said Dan Quinn, communications director of the liberal Texas Freedom Network. “That’s not religious freedom. That’s discrimination, plain and simple. They’re trying to change the terms of the battle.”

Perry resists that argument, maintaining that the views of a minority should not be imposed on the majority. Bell said his positions are far from extreme.

In addition to lobbying against legislation they oppose, gay advocacy groups plan to put fort their own legislation to address challenges they ttSmSx2say gay Texans still face.

State Sen. José R. Rodríguez, D-El Paso, said he plans to file proposals to take Texas’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage off the books and “clean up” the language of state codes and statutes to reflect the Supreme Court ruling.

Rodríguez also expects Democrats to call for a statewide ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as employment, public accommodations and housing.

Other states have passed similar laws. Still, Bell said he doubts it will find traction in Texas’s Republican-controlled House or Senate.

Acock, who recently started working at Equality Texas, said those challenges are on his mind this weekend, especially in light of the recent shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. There are married people in Texas, he noted, who can still be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“That didn’t really hit me until this week as we’re coming up on this celebration,” he said. “We just have a lot of work to do.”

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

UT/TT Poll: Texans Say Mental Health Top Cause of U.S. Mass Shootings

Mental health issues, gun laws, unstable families and media coverage get most of the blame for mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Voters also attributed either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of the blame for shootings in the U.S. to the spread of extremist views on the internet and to drug use.

“When we look at the explanations for the shootings, what we see is that there is bipartisan agreement on the failure of the mental health system,” said Jim Henson, head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll. “It was the No. 1 response among most major subgroups. If I was a political leader looking for an area where we could get agreement on gun violence, this is where I would look.” 

“It prompts immediate reactions that we ought to regulate guns.  But when you offer a plethora of options, I think people respond to the notion that there are crazy people out here and you ought to do something about these crazy people.”

Shaw noted the 41 percent who want stricter gun laws in a state that is generally seen as pro-gun rights.  That said, he said 54 percent either want gun control laws left alone or loosened.

Asked how they view the National Rifle Association, 48 percent say they have a favorable opinion, while 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of that group. While 56 percent of Republicans have favorable impressions of the NRA, only 7 percent of Democrats do. And while 24 percent of Republicans have a negative opinion, 78 percent of Democrats do.

Immigration and the Border

Texas voters consistently rank immigration and the border as top issues facing the state — a signal to politicians that those positions matter — and the voters have some hardline views on the subject.

More than half agree with this statement: “Undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be deported immediately.”

While 39 percent disagree, 55 percent agree. Some are more emphatic: 30 percent strongly agree, and 21 percent strongly disagree.

Partisan and ethnic differences are deep. While 74 percent of Republicans agree, 64 percent of Democrats do not. Anglos (63 percent) and blacks (54 percent) agree, but Hispanics (58 percent) do not.

“I don’t know that the public has a set way of viewing immigration in the way they have a set way of viewing something like taxes,” Shaw said. “There are reasons to question whether you can frame this in a way that advantages you in 2016, and whether that’s in the long-term interest of the party.”

Almost half of Texas voters favor amending the U.S. Constitution to repeal automatic citizenship for children born here regardless of their parents’ legal status. But while 48 percent favor that notion, 39 percent oppose it.

“Republicans continue to have highly restrictive attitudes on immigration,” Henson said. “You see overall support for deportation, but that number is driven by lopsided results among Republicans and especially, Tea Party Republicans.

“To the extent that we are hearing the drums beating loudly and persistently on immigration in the Republican presidential primary, this is where the sheet music is coming from,” he said. “These numbers are extremely one-sided.”

 Sanctuary cities — a term for cities where local law enforcement agencies do not actively enforce some federal immigration laws — are not popular with Texas voters.
The survey found that 60 percent disapprove of sanctuary cities while 23 percent approve.
As with the other immigration questions, the answers were marked by partisan differences. For instance, only 2 percent of Tea Party Republicans said they approve of sanctuary cities, compared with 46 percent of Democrats.

“It suggests that the Trump/Cruz line sells pretty well in Texas,” Shaw said, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were tied for the lead for the presidential nomination among Republican primary voters in the poll, and each has taken a particularly hardline approach to immigration policy and favored deporting undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. “It’s important to get it right because so many people think it’s a big important issue.”

Abortion

An overwhelming majority — 87 percent — say women who want to avoid becoming pregnant should have access to birth control. Only 5 percent say they should not have access; the remainder express no opinion.

Almost half of Texas voters — 45 percent — consider themselves “pro-life,” while 35 percent consider themselves to be “pro-choice,” the survey found. The remainder — about one voter in five — chose neither label.

“I think the label matters, because candidates use the label,” Shaw said. “If you drill down and ask people more detailed questions, the label matters but doesn’t specifically map their policy positions.”

“The clear problem here is that because Planned Parenthood is an abortion provider and because they have a political arm that is very active and very identified with Democratic candidates, they have become a political target,” Henson said.

While 34 percent say they have a favorable impression of the organization, 46 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion.

Included in that last group are 38 percent who say they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of Planned Parenthood.

Republicans lead the way to those ratings, but the organization’s Democratic support has weakened in Texas, compared with results from the May 2012 UT/TT Poll. Then, 77 percent of Democrats had favorable opinions of Planned Parenthood, but that dropped to 62 percent in this poll. Most of those Democrats landed in the neutral/undecided bin, Henson said.

Planned Parenthood has spent much of 2015 responding to a series of videos released by abortion opponents — the Center for Medical Progress — that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sales of tissue and organs from aborted fetuses. Though Planned Parenthood has criticized the videos for being heavily edited, last month the organization said it would no longer take reimbursement for fetal tissue research.

“The recent negative campaign against Planned Parenthood at the national level and in the state seems to have successfully reframed them in the mind of some people and weakened them with some Democrats,” he said.

Voters’ views of Planned Parenthood contrast sharply with their opinions of the NRA, another highly politicized organization in the news. Each is seen by voters largely through partisan filters.

“Any of these organizations that come across as being intrinsically involved in the partisan debate have kind of a stench about them,” Shaw said. That’s reflected in the partisan underpinnings of voter opinions.

Same-sex marriage

Texans are split exactly down the middle when it comes to same-sex marriage, with 43 percent saying gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry and 43 percent saying they should not have that right.

Those overall numbers mask partisan differences. Among Democrats, 65 percent approve of same-sex marriage. But 59 percent of Republicans disapprove.

There is also a gender gap: 48 percent of women approve, while only 38 percent of men do.

And there is also a big church gap: Same-sex marriage is not okay with 68 percent of Texans who attend church more than once a week and 56 percent of those who attend at least once a week. Among those who never attend church, 51 percent say same-sex couples have the right to marry.

“Texans are very divided,” Henson said. “If you look at it, they are still more open to gay marriage now, but Republicans are still resistant. Democrats have moved much more rapidly on the issue than Republicans. With some of the recent politicization of gay marriage and the national conversation, it’s not surprising to see Republicans not moving much on this.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

  • REFERENCE MATERIAL
UT/TT Poll, November 2015 – Methodology
PDF (66.2 KB) download
UT/TT Poll, November 2015 – Summary
PDF (209.1 KB) download

This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Thursday: The race for president. Friday: What Texas voters think about various state and federal officeholders and institutions. Tomorrow: The mood of the state.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of the Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Author:   – The Texas Tribune | All graphics by Emily Albracht

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, pol itics, government and statewide issues.

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