independence day

Here’s to a future with no borders

Yesterday was July 4th. I admit I find fireworks (and crowds) overwhelming, and was relieved to be in bed with my wife and baby as the pyrotechnic thudding and loud, distant music did their thing.

But yesterday I felt what I’ve only begun to feel in the past few years, as my understanding of our country and the way we fit into the world has deepened: Pride. I feel proud to be American, and happy to be here. I love that I can be gay, and trans, and married to a woman. I’m bothered that there are still a lot of ways in which I’m a second class citizen but those are increasingly due to my status as an Earthling and a woman and a trans person and a vegan pacifist unaffiliated with any major religion, and not my status as an American. It turns out that 2013 is beginning to be a pretty good time to be queer in America. For the first time I’m really starting to feel like America doesn’t mind that I’m here, and maybe even values my family’s contributions to and presence in society.



Fourth of July Pignic at Farm Sanctuary

Freedom and compassion, two of America’s founding values, are habitually supplanted by exploitation and quick profit in the country’s treatment of its farmed animals. On Monday, July 4, at its annual Fourth of July Pignic, Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, will celebrate a nation’s nobler principles and demonstrate how their extension to farmed animals— the largest group of abused animals on Earth— is in keeping with the true spirit of America.

This free, festive event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the organization’s bicoastal sanctuaries for abused and neglected farm animals, located at 3100 Aikens Road in Watkins Glen, New York, and at 19080 Newville Road in Orland, California. Offering guided tours, plenty of one-on-one time with hundreds of lovable pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and other farm animals, and veggie hot dogs, the Fourth of July Pignic is an irresistible day of summer fun the entire family will enjoy.

“The way animals are treated on factory farms is out of line with American values,” says Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “Farm animals are every bit as interesting and full of feeling as dogs and cats, yet on factory farms they are treated like inanimate machinery and denied the most basic freedoms we hold dear. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, ‘the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ We invite everyone to come celebrate America’s birthday in a way that truly reflects the greatness of our nation.”

This year’s event promises to be even more celebratory than in years past, as it marks the midpoint of an important milestone for Farm Sanctuary: the organization’s 25th anniversary year. More information and directions can be found by visiting or calling 607-583-2225 ext. 221.