Tag Archives: Families

Marriage Equality Poised for Historic Gains in November

15 Sep

This November voters in four states are poised to make historic votes on marriage equality. Maine, Maryland and Washington have voter initiatives to create full marriage equality; Minnesota faces the latest in a decade-long string of state constitutional amendments to limit marriage to heterosexuals. What makes the 2012 elections especially interesting is the history of marriage equality votes. No state so far has adopted marriage equality through direct voter approval, depending instead on legislatures and courts. More significantly, all 28 states that have presented voters with constitutional amendments to ban equality have succeeded. It seems very likely that this November will see a major shift in these trends.

MAINE: In 2009, the Maine legislature approved marriage equality, replacing the existing limited civil union law. Anti-gay forces pushed the law to the ballot and defeated it 53-to-47. Since then, Mainers United for Marriage has worked diligently to change hearts and minds through a massive public education campaign. Question One on the November ballot will give voters a chance to re-establish full marriage equality in the state. The most recent poll shows the Question passing 57-to-35.

MARYLAND: Maryland also has limited civil union rights; it is also one of only three states that recognizes same sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Last March after strong lobbying from Marylanders for Marriage Equality and other groups, the legislature approved a marriage equality bill which was signed by the Governor. It was promptly referred to the ballot by anti-gay organizations as Question 6. Equality is polling strong in Maryland as well, at 57-to-37; it received a big boost — especially among the state’s African American population — when President Obama expressed his support in May.

WASHINGTON: Earlier this year Governor Christine Gregoire pushed the legislature to pass a marriage equality bill, which it did. As with Maryland, the bill was promptly referred to the voters as Referendum 74. Washington United for Marriage has mounted a strong public awareness campaign that also seems to be paying off. A poll released this week shows equality leading 56-to-33.

MINNESOTA: Unlike previous congressional election years, there is only one state with a marriage ban on the ballot this year. Minnesota is one of the few states with no law regarding same sex marriage at all. The Republican-led majority in the legislature passed an amendment in 2011 which requires approval by the voters. Minnesotans United for All Families is working hard to make their state the first to reject such an amendment. The vote on this measure is tighter, but the ban seems to be failing 43-to-49 in the latest polls.

True equality can only happen when the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is overturned and every citizen of every state has the right to marry the person they love. With every poll putting equality outside the margin of error and with most surviving even if all the undecideds swing negative, there is reason for optimism. Victory in just one state would be revolutionary; providing and protecting equality in all four would signal a sea change in American attitudes.

One of the Voices of Social Justice: Michael Anderson-Nathe

10 Jul

Those of you who have been reading TSM for the least two years now are clearly aware that this blog is dedicated to issues of social justice and civil rights; since you are reading this, I presume you share similar passions.  Today I was able to visit with my friend Michael Anderson-Nathe, and I have to say I love his voice of social justice, although he will not easily tolerate any accolades, for he is exceedingly humble and somewhat introverted.

Michael grew up in Minnesota: “I come from a Vietnamese mother and mid-west father. They met in Vietnam—my father was in the military.  I am a Vietnamese-American, and it was not easy growing up post Vietnam war being Asian-American; I’m a product of the war.  My siblings were born in Vietnam.  I was born here.” Michael is one of 10 children—the youngest. Four of them passed away.  He discusses his coming out to his family of origin, saying, “I came out when I was 17 and had a rocky period with my parents for two years. We did not talk.  Since then, there have been huge strides – they were at my wedding and love the family I have (my partner and daughter). My parents have come from one end of the spectrum to the other end.”

Do you consider you and your partner political?

We are always political, and now that we have a child everything we do is political whether we want it to be or not.  I also became Jewish, so we are a multiracial, queer, Jewish household.  There are times when it is easy to be political, but at times I just want to be a family—raising my daughter.  We had an open adoption, which means we have an ongoing relationship with our child’s birthmother.  Doing an adoption meant we had the opportunity to have a ton of very intentional conversations prior to adopting about how to raise a child and what will it mean to raise a child.  One of the most frustrating aspects of being a queer family is that people will often look around for someone that presents as female-bodied, and then look to them as though they must be Sophie’s mother regardless of context (despite obvious social cues as to who is parenting Sophie).  One thing I love about our parenting is how we talk about gender, sexuality, and body parts without shame. We make deliberate efforts to raise her in ways that don’t limit her own expression of who she is and that don’t oppress other people (reinforce socially constructed dichotomies)—we raise her with great intentionality—which is a continuously active, intentional process and we are better at it some days than others.

What made you become an activist for people living with HIV?

I stumbled into this accidentally.  When I was 17, I participated in a peer HIV education program and fell in love with working with the community and contributing to making sure people had information so they could make decisions that were right for them.  What I love about working in the field of HIV is that it truly is social justice work—working with the intersections of oppression that continue to fuel HIV. You can’t do this work without addressing issues of social justice.  It feeds a part of who I am.

What should marginalized communities do to have a stronger voice?

The biggest thing is that we need to come together; we need to stop playing into the game of who is more oppressed, which does not serve us.  To realize we are stronger together than divided.  We have a lot we can learn from each other.  I grew up with multiple identities.  I grew up not white enough, or not a person of color enough.  My identities were not integrated, so I went to hang out with the gay community when I wanted to celebrate my sexuality, but then I lost my Vietnamese ties. If I wanted to hang out with the Asian community, then I lost my gay ties.  All of the various intersections of oppression fuel HIV—all of the inequalities, homophobia, racism, transphobia—we have to address all of these if we are going to be successful in stopping HIV.

I don’t like the idea of “look at us! We are just like heterosexual families, so accept us”—we should be accepted regardless.  I don’t want to be considered the model queer family—I don’t think there is a model queer family, just as I don’t believe there is a model heterosexual family—those concepts just further ostracize other people in our community and I don’t want to be a part of that.  I don’t want my personal experience to be deemed acceptable at the expense of others in our community.  Who am I to say what a model family or what a queer person should look like? Doing so only further divides our community—who is the good gay who is the bad gay—and I think that is fucked up.  Ultimately, it is not their acceptance to grant and by doing so we subscribe to a heteronormative power differential.

Marriage Equality:

Is it the issue for the Queer Community?   Personally, it is not my top issue, but just because I don’t think it is the top priority does not mean I’m against it.  I think the whole “you’re either with us or against us mentality” of this movement oversimplifies a highly complex social issue and further divides us.  My main question for the movement is: At what cost does marriage equality come and who within our community is being left behind in our pursuit for marriage equality?

I want to thank Michael for taking the time to visit with me. I am most certain his words will inspire many, as does the way he lives his life.

Educating People Who Hate Gays: The Right to Love

28 Jan

Right to Love

Thank you to my friend Eric Rosswood for sharing the information on this documentary The Right to Love: An American Family.  This election year has been a particularly difficult one for the LGBT community, with all of the GOP candidates signing a pledge to actively discriminate against an entire marginalized population.  The hypocritical sanctimony coming from all of the GOP candidates is enough to make me want to spit up.

My friend Eric brought to my attention a way to educate people and eliminate the efficacy of the fear-based tactics of millionaire hypocrites like Gingrich, Romney, and the closeted Santorum.  We need to show how similar families really are–how much we have in common as we struggle to have our children become successful and happy adults.  The documentary, The Right to Love: An American Family works to educate our homophobic brothers and sisters.

It is time we started focusing on facts, rather than myths about LGBT families! For more reading, click here to read Eric’s article.

Lead with Love: How to Support Your LGBT Child

11 Dec

Thank you to my friend Erin for inspiring me to write this article.

Regardless of how anyone feels about gay rights, even those that spew bigoted homophobic hate (all of the Republican Presidential Candidates), there is bound to be someone that looks like me in your family.  Yes, this may come as a shock, but it is the heterosexual population that keeps breeding us gays.

Over the course of the past year, I have heard from many parents (mostly moms) about what to do if “my child is gay?”  I’m happy to say that most of the private emails I have received through the blog are from parents who want to be supportive, with only a few from parents that want to learn how to “change” their child.

I was very fortunate to come across an amazing resource for parents.  Lead with Love is a documentary created to help and support parents:

Our goal is to provide comfort, information, and guidance for parents who have recently learned that their son or daughter is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The film follows four families as they share their honest reactions to hearing that their child is gay, including the intense emotions, fears, and questions that it raised.

Click here for the amazing and powerful trailer.  I wish my parents had this documentary as a resource and I’m so grateful that current parents now have this resource to support and love their lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender child.  All we want is to be loved and treated equally. A huge way to combat homophobia and transphobia is to combat systematic and institutionalized misogyny.  Please click here to learn more about Lead with Love.

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