just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

June 5, 2010

I’m  a lousy blogger. I admit it – but I never said this would become a full out blog.  I won’t write unless I have something of value to write about.  Which I do.

Here’s the update on what’s been going on since we invited Mike Huckabee to dinner (and it’s pretty cool). Congressman Mike Quigley (Illinois) approached us and requested that we think about hosting a family dinner at HEARTY. Long story short, we’ve met with his staff and this Monday (6/07) we’ll be having a dinner here for about 19 families (about 40 people with kids) at the restaurant and we hope for a lot of press to keep this conversation going.

Mike Quigley has written a press release re-inviting Mr. Huckabee http://bit.ly/9ZcnTH which includes the following line “When there are so many kids in need and so many parents who are unable to care for their children adequately, why we would criticize or think twice about a loving couple providing a loving home is beyond me.”

And Dan and I continue to ponder the bigger picture here.  Will this lead to a non profit to aid families in need? I am thrilled to see that already I don’t need to bear the pressure of this alone. We have numerous Chicago parents who have already become active in organizing this event and planning for the future.  And I am way proud of the name I came up with. “Families Valued”. I think it says it all.  I felt both relief and victory to see that it hadn’t been thought of before and grabbed the .com and .net domains.

So, we have a need that must be addressed, we have a group that wants to organize, we have a kick ass name, we have a Congressman who wants to bring pictures that our kids draw of their families directly to Mike Huckabee and we have many people who feel this conversation is only just beginning.

So, in closing, I would like to say to the guy who wrote me that hateful letter saying that I am beating a dead horse on this dead issue…bite my ass, pal.


Another push…

April 23, 2010

OK, so it’s a week later and it’s no surprise that Mike Huckabee hasn’t contacted us.  It looks like he spoke on Rosie O’Donnell’s Sirius radio show today. (Side bar: why can’t we get any love from Rosie? We’ve tried  to approach her numerous times over the years.  We’re fighting the same fight, we’ve really wanted to reach out a hand…she could have helped us out with the dinner invite…it’s disappointing.)

The biggest push we can think right now is to talk about the fact that the invite has gone unresponded for nearly a week and read the letter on Youtube.  Mr. Huckabee is Southern, we expect that he’s been brought up with better manners.  We’re going to see what we can do to make it go viral (definitely not our forte or area of expertise.)

So we taped a quick spot at the restaurant before dinner service.  If you can help us spread this and gain more momentum, it’d help us all.  If you just want to go to the Hearty Boys Youtube channel and make up a batch of the Cilantro Garlic Ribs we demo, I’d understand.  But try to focus on the Huckabee invite!  And Rosie…come on now.  Maybe we should be inviting you for dinner after Mike.  I’m feeling like we’d get a quicker answer from him.


Next moves

April 21, 2010

I’ve been sick and out of commission for the last few days.  Thank goodness Dan’s parents had just come into town to visit so they were able watch Nate.  With  Dan at work and me barely able to get out of bed, it was just another weekend of wacky “experimental” family life. Extended family, caretakers, grandparents…crazy stuff like that.

We’ve received so many responses to this.  Our families are displaying a real need to be heard and feel protected.  Some of the letters stunned me, especially this one:

I just wanted to say thank you for taking the higher road. I don’t think I could have done it. I live in the State of Arkansas, and Mr. Huckabee does not represent us! He so does not represent family, morals, or values. I am a lesbian mother of 3. In this state the trend over the past 3 years of taking children from there gay birth parents has increased. The world does not know about it because of guys like Mr. Huck. If a 3rd party petitions the courts for guardianship due to ” cohabitating in a gay/lesbian relationship”, their order will be granted and birth parents have just hours to turn over their children forever. We (5 of us in this county) are all loving, doting, and very caring parents. Arkansas will not allow gay marriage, but they will rip your family apart in a heartbeat. That’s the heartbeat of this America for us. And when ACT 1 was voted in in 2008, it was the nail in the coffin for our state…And thousands of children that so desperately need to be loved through fostering and adoption. This week Judge Piazzi of Pulaski County overturned ACT 1.. Fingers crossed it will stay so. It can’t bring our children home, but it will open loving homes to countless others. Thank you again for taking that higher road. Much love from our home to yours… Erica G

Children are being taken from thier families and we (at least around here) are unaware of it? Has this been just  a passing news blip?  How has this become possible in the new millenium?

The more response we get the more I see we need to spread this even further and with more vigor.  Dan and I will tape a version of our letter with a short message and post it to our Youtube channel which is launching late this week http://www.youtube.com/user/theheartyboys. I hope that you will all watch it and forward it as much as possible.  Viral videos seem to be a great tool now and we’ll ask you to help us continue the exposure and pressure…if nothing else, to increase awareness about our family situations.

Thanks to Bill Daley at The Chicago Tribune for a wonderful article on the inside page of the Sunday edition (!) and thanks to HRC for coming on board, connecting with us and blogging about it.

Oh, and if you aren’t already you can follow us on http://twitter.com/heartyboys or on http://www.facebook.com/heartyboys

Like Les Mis

April 17, 2010

So, I’m feeling kind of Les Miserables about this whole thing.  Didn’t they spend days up on that rickety-ass fort shooting at the big army and ended up dead anyway?

But a great day today!  The response to our stand has been much greater than I expected. I’ve had dozens of letters from families like mine just saying thank you for being vocal. There has to be something bigger here that I’m missing…some bigger need that we can fill.  Dan and I are thinking on it.

So quickly; today. CBS News blog did an interview, E Online, multiple newspapers, CBS national is mulling it, and then local CBS came into the restaurant and filmed for a segment tonight at 10.  I had a friend tell me I needed to google “hearty boys and huckabee” and that there are dozens of pages and blogs about it.  But you know what…I’m not going to.  Because we learned years ago with Food Network that in among these wonderful kindred souls are some people in crazy pants with time on their hands.   So, I’ll just let it play out and keep my eyes on my own paper.

This has gotten bigger than we had thought and I couldn’t be happier!!  In an interview today we were asked what we would ask Mr Huckabee. The answer was “Nothing.” We’re not looking to grill you, put you on the spot or make you uncomfortable. What kind of hosts would we be? We want you to have dinner with us, meet Nate, have a glass of wine.  You’ll see him be sweet, loving, mischevious, naughty…you’ll see us be sweet, loving, annoyed and whispering  ‘behave’ through our teeth. 

We expect you to come with a preconcieved notion of our family and to leave with a full belly and a better understanding of another boring American family.

More tomorrow?  Fingers crossed; where are you Ellen?! Oprah…a shout out to your neighborhood homies please, don’t you remember the meals we’ve fed you?  This is a conversation America is ready to have before Cosette bites it on the barricade.

Huckabee update

April 16, 2010

So, someone asked me if I was going to update the blog. My first thought was “I have a blog?”  Really, I just wanted to find a way to link this letter I had sent to people.  But there was some action on the letter so let me tell you about it.

First off, I was so bouyed by the response I got from the community.  There were so many really positive emails, Facebook and Twitter reactions. It made us feel good to see that other people cared that we’d take a stand.  The thing is, Dan and I have been saying for years that we have a responsibility to represent two dad families to America.  We don’t have huge exposure, but we are definitely the only gay parents some people may ever come in contact with and get to know…even if that is only through the TV or a book or whatever.  We want to represent families like ours and do it honestly and hopefully help to dispel the fear some people have regarding our families.  So, thanks everyone for listening and touching base with us.

As far as Mr. Huckabee is concerned, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of us that he has back pedalled from these statements and begun to blame the university journalists who interviewed him.  He’s called their integrity into question and accused them of manipulating his words.  These kids aren’t backing down though and released the audio transcripts of the interview.  And, of course, we can hear him say exactly what he meant to say and hear what is in his heart of hearts.

I’ve tried really hard to get as much exposure with the letter as I can.  It’s an earnest invitation; not a prank or a stunt.  We thought that as restaurateurs and event planners that reaching out in this way makes it harder for him to decline.  I called friends and contacts and we had some play on Michael Signoreli’s Sirius radio show last night.

TimeOut Chicago wrote a blog about it, no response from CNN (even though we have someone who has a huge connection to an anchor there), we’ve sent it to contacts at CBS News, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, a couple of free lancers and The View.  I was really hoping that The View would be interested as it seems right up their alley…the kind of thing that would be important to them and their audience.  Didn’t fly though.  They said that they don’t want to give him any more of a platform on this…fair enough…I guess they’re not fans either.

I also had a call with HRC today.  I’m anxious to see if there is anything they can do.  Our hope is that we can gain more steam with this and at the very least get some sort of acknowledgement from Mr. Huckabee.

But here’s the deal.  I’ve been in this business long enough to know that Mike Huckabee’s statements made for prurient news copy yesterday and that today it’s all about getting footage of the English stuck at Heathrow due to the volcanic ash.  The circus will move on and we’ll all get worked up at the next attack.  What sticks in my mind though is that there is one group of people who won’t forget this moment.  And that’s the kids that are old enough to hear this vitriole and understand what is being said about them and their families.   That they are being told they are in an unsafe place with caregivers who are not qualified to keep them secure.  Thank God nate is too young to have heard that.

But all in all, if nothing else happens, it made me feel better to actually take action as opposed to just calling Huckabee names or posting a bitchy Facebook status update.  It also made me feel connected to the community in a broader way.  So, I’ll keep you posted on anything else that might come of this…and I appreciate that we’re all together in this.

Huckabee invite

April 14, 2010

My partner Dan and I are inviting Mike Huckabee to our home for dinner. As cookbook authors and entertainment experts, this is not a prank. It is a serious offer for Mr Huckabee to meet with a family like ours. We have decided to do this because we need to address the fact that Mr. Huckabee likened our parenting to “adopting a puppy”. Here is a copy of the letter I sent to Mr. Huckabee this morning:

Mr. Huckabee,
You may know me from Food Network. My partner, Dan Smith, and I are The Hearty Boys. We’re Chicago caterers, restaurateurs, cookbook authors and most importantly, dads. Dan and I have been in a stable, monogamous, loving, positive, nurturing and healthy relationship for 13 years. We were blessed to adopt our son, Nate, at his birth 4 1/2 years ago.
Sir, your comments likening my parenting my son to adopting a pet are beyond hurtful and dangerous. My love, passion and commitment to Nate is not one iota different than what you have for John Mark, David and Sarah. Our son is loved and cared for just as much. He feels just as loved and cared for. He is a happy, well adjusted little guy whom I fiercely love.
Mr. Huckabee, I invite you to spend the evening with us at our home in Chicago next time you come through. You need to understand and see firsthand what a family like ours is like. We are no less a family than yours, and in fact, we are healthier and more stable than most.
Americans are no longer going to sit silent as our families are attacked. And even though I find your comments reprehensible and irresponsible, I will open my home to you and pray that we might help you better understand the damage you could inflict.
Steve McDonagh

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April 14, 2010

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