Tag Archives: Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality Not the Cure All…

29 Jun

marriage equalityWhile I am absolutely elated and ecstatic about the SCOTUS ruling for both healthcare and marriage equality — for I never thought in my lifetime I would see marriage equality in the United States — I am also reflecting on how complicated the institution of marriage is, with its deep roots of misogyny and racism. I am also grateful that I benefit from marriage and happy that the SCOTUS decision was on the anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, and US v. Windsor.  

There remain many problems around marriage equality. Marriage equality hardly signals the eradication of homophobia, racism, or misogyny. In twenty-nine states, it is still legal to discriminate against the LGBT community in employment, housing, and education. In fact, fourteen of the states that already offered marriage equality simultaneously refuse to provide these basic protections (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming). This is a horrible disconnect. In practice it means that a couple who celebrate a happy, significant occasion are in fact opening themselves up to more discrimination, perhaps even the loss of their homes or livelihoods.

I also want to address why the conversation has to address more than just marriage equality. I hope we will devote our collective energy in eradicating white supremacy, in solidarity around trans rights, in supporting undocumented people, and dismantling poverty.

I am also exceedingly sad about the legacy of hate, bigotry, homophobia, and racism that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia (and Scalia’s minions) are leaving.  Talk about being on the wrong side of history. Scalia is now a parody of himself, with his dissenting commenting, “jiggery pokery.”  Here we have two of the most powerful men in the world, using their power to undermine civil rights. Something to think about as we look at a presidential race in the United States that will be appointing new justices.Demons

While I am happy to celebrate marriage equality, I hope we take a call to action individually and collectively to address all of the intersections of racism, homophobia, misogyny, ableism, and poverty.

National Coming Out Day: Obsolete?

11 Oct

national_coming_out_day-395x400I know many of you will be clutching your pearls and grabbing your smelling salts when you now realize I am gay! Yes, there I said it.

I cannot underscore enough how important it is for LGBTQ people to be out and visible and I also realize there are still yet so many places in the United States and around the world where it is not safe to be visible. The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to marginalize us and treat us as sub-human, or second class citizens, denied over 1,300 rights that our heterosexual brothers and sisters are granted just for being heterosexual. NO! National Coming Out Day is not obsolete, for it is still quite relevant and needed.

Much has improved! Watching President Obama advocate for LGBTQ rights during his inaugural speech brought me to tears, for I never thought in my lifetime I would witness the President of the United States talk about issues of equity for my community. Despite the fact that the LGBTQ community has made great strides in the past year, however, we are far from eradicating homophobia and all of the intersections that are linked to homophobia, such as racism and misogyny.

I actually think marriage equality is on the horizon for the United States and I caution people to remember this DOES not mean the end of homophobia.  While I am a great supporter and beneficiary of marriage equality, I also know we have to address the constant inequities for people who do not choose marriage. I would also encourage people to look at the many barriers transgender people still face, not to mention the increase in violence against the LGBTQ community in the past four years.

I hope that today there will be much celebrating as people find the courage to use their voices individually and collectively to be Out and Proud as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, or Transgender person.  Living one’s life authentically allows for great freedom and of course supports the Gay Agenda!

 

LGBT Pride and History Month 2014: Thank You Justice Kennedy

5 Jun

Official Photograph of Justice Anthony KennedyOnce again those merry pranksters at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) tried their best to crush equality for loving same-sex couples. Shortly after federal Judge Michael McShane issued a strong ruling striking down Oregon’s ban on marriage equality for same sex couples, NOM tried to intervene.

NOM demanded that the Supreme Court issue a stay on McShane’s ruling while they desperately scrambled to find a way to reverse it. The petition went to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who presides over such matters for the region that includes Oregon. Kennedy requested briefs from NOM, the plaintiffs who won McShane’s decision and the state of Oregon. After those briefs were filed on Tuesday, the Justice referred the matter to the entire Supreme Court.

The full Court responded with a clear “go away!” message to NOM.

The application for  stay presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied.

It’s that simple. NOM doesn’t get any legal justifications or consideration. Just one sentence that rejects and rebukes their tragic, hateful energy.

Congratulations to Justice Kennedy for getting the weight of the Court behind this matter and to the assembled Justices for standing up for equality. Every once in awhile the Supreme Court gets things right — what a lovely example this is!

Thanks also to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. She carefully analyzed the case before McShane and correctly decided that Oregon’s ban was unconstitutional “under any level of scrutiny.” Refusing to waste taxpayer money defending injustice, she did not defend the ban. When replying to Justice Kennedy’s request for briefs, she made it quite clear that NOM and its anonymous three Oregon citizens did not have the right to assume the power of state government. Thank you, AG Rosenblum! How sad that NOM continues to leave a legacy of hate and is on the wrong side of history.  Thank you to the strong LGBT voices and the strong voices of our allies.

Call to Action: Now we must not rest. We must look at ways in which each of our voices can be supportive of LGBT people here in the United States and all over the world.

Marriage Equality Makes It To Oregon At Last!

19 May

Oregon-United-for-MarriageMay 19, 2014 what a lovely, historic day for the state of Oregon and for the country. The Honorable Judge McShane made it clear that same sex couples should enjoy the privileges of marriage.  This is a time to rejoice and celebrate, for I believe that the liberation of LGBT people only contributes to the liberation of cisgender heterosexuals.  Here we have a decision that has a far reaching ripple effect. Marriage equality by design addresses issues of sexual orientation, race, class, privilege, power, and the intersections of all of these identities.

Well Done!  It looks like Robert and I need to get in line to get a marriage license.  Today we celebrate and tomorrow we pick up the torch to continue our dedication to expanding civil rights for all.

Toxic Tea Party: Repealing Obamacare?

19 May

Tea PartyAs the midterm elections grow near, the bizarre behavior of extreme right wingers moves into action.  Of course, they are bringing out the typical fear mongering tactics with heavy doses of homophobia and misogyny, but now we are hearing right wingers such as Oregon U.S. Senate hopefuls Jason Conger and Monica Wehby threaten to “overturn Obamacare.”

I would love to see the implementation of this overturning of Obamacare. Do the Tea Party and GOP plan on visiting every one of 8 million plus people to revoke their health insurance?  Who will pay for these home health revocation visits? One by one the Affordable Care Act horror stories funded by the Koch brothers have turned out to be lies, half-truths, willful misrepresentations, and strange irrelevancies. By the thousands come the stories of people whose lives were improved — often saved — by better access to healthcare. The ACA is far from perfect, but it is making a positive difference in the lives of millions and the changes needed look nothing like Conger’s repeal-and-replace demands or Wehby’s wishy-washy wanderings.

One has to love Wehby’s mantra of “We need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps”  (a phrase heavy with racist overtones). Well that would be lovely, Dr. Wehby, if we were all on a level playing field and if all people started off with bootstraps to pull up.  I must confess that I do so enjoy watching her fumbled and waffled attempts to answer ANY questions on pressing issues such as marriage equality, poverty, and abortion. Wehby clearly took inspiration from Charles Durning’s performance of “Dance a Little Sidestep” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  

Sadly, Jason Conger makes Wehby look reasonable. Lacking her ambiguity, he is burdened with the ability to form coherent sentences, most of which are toxic odes to the furthest Tea-stained extremes. Conger’s anti-marriage equality and “only men should be able to govern women’s bodies” approach to politics makes me think he took his inspiration from Rick (the P is silent) Santorum.

Across the nation GOP candidates are stuck trying to explain how they would actually care for their constituents whose healthcare they want to strip away. Supposedly endangered Democratic senators like Mark Pryor of Arkansas are defying expectations by standing up for the law and leading in the polls. The right’s racist obsession with dismantling the President’s signature accomplishment coupled with a narrow-minded and oppressive desire to block fundamental rights is a scary thing indeed. Let’s hope voters are smart enough to make choices that help move the country forward. I know here in Oregon, Jeff Merkley is the right choice.

My Interview with Chris Christie

8 Feb

chrischristie_ap_img_0I was recently able to catch up with Governor Chris Christie for a brief interview.  While I want to be “fair and balanced,” I do worry that I need to be prepared for Christie to do a bit of sidestepping. 

Governor Christie, can you talk about what happened when Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she would not support your candidacy for President?

Yes, I will tell you! I told her she better be careful, or I Would Bust the Windows Out Her Car.

My, I see how that certainly would make people take you quite seriously. What about the allegations that you withheld Superstorm Sandy relief funds?

My management of money is none of your business!

Governor Christie, how do you wish to address the issues of your implication in the lane closures on the  George Washington Bridge?

Michael, what bridge doesn’t have troubled waters?

Governor Christie, can you talk about why you do not support marriage equality?

I am  so tired of all you people–you “friends of Dorothy” people

Governor Christie, what do you think of Speaker of the House John Boehner?

All I can say is: If only he had a brain.

Governor Christie, what would you say to those that are a bit fearful of the consequences if they do not support your presidential candidacy?  Is there a justified fear of further retaliation from you?

I would tell these good people they have nothing to fear but a final countdown.

While I had many more questions, Governor Christie reported in a mumble that he was in a hurry “to get out of this place.”

I tried to chase after the governor, but he was on a plane to go and visit Vladimir Putin.

Number 1 Hero of the Year Award 2013: United States Supreme Court

31 Dec

marriage-equalityI always love to find people and events to celebrate, especially when they move humanity forward.  This past June, the Supreme Court helped to create equity and equality and move humanity forward with its decision to end the nefarious Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a rather sad legacy of President Bill Clinton. One presumes he has had a change of heart.

Sadly, the move towards equity and equality was not a resounding unanimous cheer.  The country certainly needs to celebrate and acknowledge the wonderful work of Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Not a big surprise that the following four justices leave a legacy of hate, bigotry, and discrimination:  Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin (I hate the gays) Scalia, Samuel Alito, and of course Clarence Thomas.  How very sad for these four powerful men and even more sad that the Chief Justice sent a very loud message about how he will misuse his power regarding civil rights.

Today, we now have 18 states (if one counts Utah) that provide marriage equality; this is far better than what I expected in my lifetime. Now I have hope that we will see full marriage equality throughout the United States within my lifetime.

There were many nominations for the following Honorable Mentions this year:

Antoinette Tuff

Russell Brand

Pope Francis

I look forward to being able to celebrate many heroes in 2014!  Happy New Year!

Victories for the LGBT Community and for Humanity

8 Nov

ENDA copyThe past week has seen a number of big events in LGBT news and the majority have been very positive. It’s nice to have a chance to celebrate!

A major milestone happened yesterday when the U.S. Senate finally passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Some version of the law — which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — has been in the works for nearly 40 years. The current ENDA has been floated in almost every Congress since 1994; the inclusion of gender identity has been a point of contention and has been in and out of the bill. The current version is the most comprehensive, requiring most employers with more than 15 employees to comply and with a very narrow religious exemption. ENDA was a lifetime goal of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D – MA). Just before he died, he passed the torch to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D – OR), who was instrumental in similar legislation in this state. I’m very proud of our Senator for pushing so hard to make this a reality.

I feel that such discrimination is wrong and our vision of equality in the Constitution, our vision of the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution and kind of a fundamental sense of fair play—all of those things mean that it is just wrong for people not to have a fair shake at getting or retaining a job.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid built on the post-shutdown debacle momentum and rounded up enough Republican support to break a filibuster. In fact, when opposition voices were invited to speak, no one stepped forward, not even rabid opponents like Ted Cruz. After a bit of amendment posturing, the bill got a full vote and passed by an impressive  64 – 32 vote. Now it’s up to House Speaker John Boehner to move it forward. He has expressed skepticism, saying that ENDA would lead to “frivolous lawsuits.” Points to Sen. Reid for this sharp rebuke:

Speaker Boehner opposes ENDA for fear of frivolous lawsuits? He led a frivolous lawsuit defending DOMA that cost taxpayers over $2 million!

Well said, Sen. Reid. Let’s hope the House can help move equality forward. President Obama has expressed his full support and encouraged Boehner to do the right thing.

On the marriage front, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to have full equality for same-sex couples. The Illinois House finally passed a Senate bill from May. Gov. Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill soon. When he does, another 13 million Americans will live in a place with marriage equality, moving the nation up to 37%. In Hawaii, a similar bill is moving forward and seems likely to pass by the end of the year. True equality is never piecemeal, but this is certainly movement in the right, inevitable direction.

Also in workplace protection news, Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has said that his first act after being sworn in will be to reinstate an Executive Order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for state workers. How nice to see him living up to his promises already!

Also on the gubernatorial front, things heated up in Maine this week. Toxic Governor Paul “Tea, please” LePage tried to start a smear campaign against his chief competitor, Rep. Mike Michaud. Showing his rabid disregard for many of his constituents, he hinted that Michaud was gay and that this was sufficient grounds to vote against him. Merging the kindergarten playground with McCarthyism — how lovely! Michaud’s response was flawless:

Yes, I am. But why should it matter? […] I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.

Well said, Rep. Michaud, and best of luck in next year’s election.  I guess current Gov. LePage is only interested in serving selected residents of his state.

Good News in Oregon and New Jersey, While Rick Scarborough Foams at Mouth

21 Oct

MarrNewsNJORWhat a lovely way to start off a Monday morning with good news for LGBT folk who want to get married. Today marks the first day for marriage equality in the state of New Jersey, despite Governor Chris Christie’s homophobic protest.  To make this story even lovelier, Senator Elect Cory Booker, is performing same-sex marriages right now in his position as Mayor of Newark. Booker has made a point of not officiating weddings while equality was blocked in his state. A NJ appeals court had ruled that the lack of marriage equality was unconstitutional but stayed that opinion pending further legal action; the state supreme court lifted the stay last week noting that equality was legally sound.

More good news across the country in Oregon. Last week, the state of Oregon now recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.  Now we just need to achieve full marriage equality in Oregon. Despite a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the Oregon Department of Justice released an opinion that a refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages was unconstitutional. The state COO immediately issued a memo requiring all state agencies to begin recognizing legal out-of-state marriages. Oregon United for Marriage is moving a marriage equality initiative forward for Nov. 2014; it is widely expected to succeed. The effort got a surprise boost last week when all three Oregon professional sports teams (the Portland Thorns, Timbers, and Trailblazers) endorsed the initiative.

While I certainly am taking time to celebrate this movement forward in civil rights for the LGBT community, alas we cannot rest here or grow complacent. Sadly, one of the  homophobic leaders of the Tea Party (Gays, Blacks, any non-white “Christians” not welcome), the odious Rick Scarborough, has announced that he wants to file a class action law suit against homosexuality.  Hmm, I wonder how that will work? Of course, he has partnered with the nefarious homophobic Peter LaBarbera.

It is clear that the Tea Party learned nothing from holding the country hostage during the Government Shutdown.  When will this small racist greedy group get it? Is there no chance of them showing any sense of decency or humanity?  Of course, I guess when your pockets are being filled with Koch money, there is less to motivate people to love rather than to hate.

Parenthood: Childless

9 Sep

ParenthoodMy husband and I watched Parenthood last night.  It is one of my favorite movies. It was also the first time I fell in love with Diane Wiest, who does a great job of showing the difficulties of being a single parent with unconditional love for her two children.  The movie does a fantastic job of showing the tensions, troubles, and triumphs of being both a child and a parent. While I still loved watching the movie, I was also quite mournful.  As a middle aged gay man, I had always wanted children.  I always saw myself as a parent before I saw myself as a spouse. I was quite comfortable not having a husband and thought I would just adopt a child and live my life out as a parent.

My world changed about 15 years ago and I fell in love with a man who is nothing less than wonderful and amazing.  He is so amazing that I chose being married over being a parent.  Of course, there are times I still break down in tears that I don’t have  children.  in fact, a short time ago, my husband and I were at a restaurant and I saw this young child with dark skin and really curly hair and thought, “this could be my child.”  I started to weep over my hamburger.  While my husband was quite supportive, he did not feel the loss I was feeling.

Sadly, while watching the movie, Parenthood, I reflected on how neurotic I would have been if I had children and how overly involved I would have been.  Fortunately, we have some very dear friends who allow us to watch their four children — we love them dearly!!!  However, I am able to observe my neurosis even while spending time with the kids.  For example, when one of the kids wants to show me her head stand, it takes everything I have not to say “please don’t do that,” for fear she will hurt herself.

I am so elated that same-sex couples have children.  The same-sex couples I know who have children love them so dearly. Regardless of sexual orientation, children need structure, guidance, and most of all love.  How sad that Justice Scalia and his  merry little band of homophobes try to justify their homophobia under the guise of bearing children.  Where does that leave all of my heterosexual friends who either choose to be childless, or are unable to bear children?  Again, we see Scalia and his fellow haters on the wrong side of history.

Finally, I am also grateful for all of the children (now adults) that I have had the honor of teaching.  It is an amazing honor to see students grow up as adults and still keep in contact with you.  While I don’t have biological children, I am very lucky to have generations of kids in the past 25 years.

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