Healing Hearts, Changing Hearts

It’s easy to get cynical about politics. I often tout the importance of making personal connections when trying to make change–which for me, is often about LGBT rights. It is rare, however, that I see an example of the importance of such connections as powerful as this story from RH Reality Check, by Jaime Jenett. Jenett writes from her perspective as the nonbiological mother of a critically ill child, and says, “policies designed to prevent same sex families from having legal protections took on a whole new meaning for me” after the birth of her son.

She also describes her neighbors in California, whose “Yes on Prop 8″ sticker hurt her every time she passed by. She wrote them a letter (also posted at her blog)—and got a response, not from the same neighbor, but from another Yes on 8 supporter whom they had met at a camp for children with cardiac disease.


The woman wrote, “After meeting you two and reading your blogs I’m so sorry for my stupidity. I saw the love you and Laura shared with each other and Simon. As a fellow heart mother I know whats it’s like to have a child fighting for their life. Why would I or should I deny you or Simon the same rights as me.”

You should go read the whole response at Jenett’s blog. You might want a box of tissues handy.

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Prop 8 and Other Questions Regarding Equality

First of all, I love this:

Ever since the California court struck down Proposition 8, I keep seeing all kinds of questions regarding marital equality, such as this one in the Washington Post’s Carolyn Hax column:

Arlington, VA: I work as a peer mentor at a small nonprofit. Which doesn’t make me any kind of licensed counselor, but it does mean that people let their guard down and I hear some things from them that they’d never say in polite company.

Because of the rather virulent homophobia of one person I help, and the likely homophobia of many others, I have chosen not to keep a photo of my partner on my desk. This saddens me, but so it goes.

But lately with all this Prop 8 stuff in the news, I keep thinking about what would/should happen should she and I ever be able to get legally married, which I think I might like to do. What would I do about my ring? Put it on after work, when I get home? Wear it and tell them point blank my wife’s name is Susan? Wear it and wave away any questions about my personal life?

Carolyn Hax: As someone in a listening profession, you probably want to wave away questions about your personal life anyway, sexual orientation notwithstanding. You aren’t friends; their sharing of their personal stuff is a business transaction.

Regardless of your profession, I would say to share (or not share) as much information about your personal life as you would if you were hetero. You wouldn’t say, “I’m married to a man, and his name is John”–you’d just refer to “my husband,” or say, “John and I ….” And, because of your profession, I would advise setting that orientation-neutral bar very, very high–say and display little to nothing about your life outside of work.

This situation is more sticky, and Arlington felt the need to explain:



Arlington again: I’m not quite a social worker, but yes, people do reveal some very personal stuff, and I think Carolyn’s spot on with the neutrality point. That’s something we have to carefully cultivate, and why I asked.

I wouldn’t volunteer information about my life or relationship, so I was wondering about how to deal with someone seeing a ring and asking questions like “What’s your husband’s name?” when a person who might really not like “My wife’s name is Susan” is someone I am supposed to be serving.

If I weren’t in a listening profession, I could say “My wife’s name is Susan” and give someone who went “Whoa” or “Uh… oh… Sorry, but um, I feel kind of uneasy around you now, sorrysorrysorry!” the Glower of Doom. In the profession I am in, “My wife’s name is Susan” could poison the trust someone has for me, if that person is prejudiced and didn’t realize I’m gay.

So the question was, in essence, “Wear it and hope that never happens, or leave it at home?”

Carolyn Hax: There are ways to deflect, if you’d like to do that: “Oh, we’re not here to talk about me,” or some such.

But I would argue for a simple statement of fact, after which you move on: “Her name is Susan. So, have you tried those strategies we talked about last time?”

There may be all kinds of political noise surrounding gay marriage, but that doesn’t change the fact that gay couples have been mainstream so long in so many places that they’re almost whateverstream at this point. Going far out of your way to conceal your marital reality–hiding the ring, deflecting questions, etc.–would almost be a disservice to the people you’re counseling.

Yes, they may have these deeply held and rarely spoken prejudices, but that doesn’t change the fact of who you are, and the fact of who so many people are who play supporting roles in their lives. The surgeon, the tailor, the guy leading the training seminars on the new computer system, anybody, right? So, show them you aren’t judging them based on who you married, and indicate by example that they’re welcome to do the same.

Someone else cued that s/he has never been asked for a spouse’s name even though s/he is wearing a wedding ring. Now that I think of it, I too, have never been asked for my husband’s name, at least not since I met him and loved ones were the ones doing the asking. It may very well be a non-issue.

What do you all think? To tell or not to tell?

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14:59

I don’t have a problem with people who express their religious views.  I don’t have a problem with people who share their religious views. What I do have a problem with are the people who work to impose their religious views onto others.

Let me explain…

I was angry, disappointed, and hurt over the passing of Proposition 8 last year. I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand what motivates someone to work so hard over something that really doesn’t affect them, but imposes such a discriminatory restriction on a number of people. However, at the same time, I was able to understand and even respect those that practiced their religious faith and felt strongly against the right for gays to marry. In other words, I was okay with their views if they practiced what they preached.

Which leads me to Carrie Prejean. When she was questioned during the Miss USA Pageant by Perez Hilton on gay marriage, I felt her answer was uninformed, but brave. She had her beliefs and shared her convictions no matter how unpopular. Then we found out that the pageant paid for her fake tata’s. Then we learned that she posed for topless photos. Now, we hear about her sex tape, which was, from what I understand, a solo act. Not very Christian, Ms. Prejean.

Carrie Prejean continues to make the rounds of talk shows promoting her book, as well as her victim mentality. I loved when the ladies from The View cornered her with their questions, which she didn’t bother answering by the way.

Look, if you want to get fake boobies, GO FOR IT! If you want to masturbate in front of a camera and have the tape “leak”, the stage is yours. If you want to marry someone who is the same sex as you, hey – as long as they make you happy! But don’t preach about others “non-Christian” and “sinful” acts while you’re posing your hoo-ha in front of a camera.

Hey Carrie! Your 15 minutes are up.

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Prop 8: The Think Positive Edition

The blogosphere is awash in news and analysis of Prop 8. I’m working on a more thoughtful piece of my own, but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight a few of the more positive pieces I’ve found. Call me an optimist, but I do believe in that bendable arc of the universe.

First, lesbian-rights icon Phyllis Lyon wrote in the LA Times, before the decision was announced: “I’m optimistic about the future. Look at all the states that have now done this. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. They may not all last. But it’s going to be all right. It may not be while I’m alive, but eventually it will work out that if two people want to get married, they can get married and it won’t matter to whom. We went through this before with people of color. It will be OK.”


Columnist and gay dad Dan Savage reminds us: “We witnessed an eighteen point shift in favor of gay marriage in California in just eight years. We can move another four points. We just have to stay in the fight and remind ourselves and each other that we are winning.”

Mark Morford of SFGate.com suggests that we “Ask the various wary, bepimpled youth of Generation Tweet what they think about those scary gay people getting married,” and predicts: “Gay marriage is a foregone conclusion. It’s a done deal. It’s just a matter of time. For the next generation in particular, equal rights for gays is not even a question or a serious issue, much less a sinful hysterical conundrum that can only be answered by terrified Mormons and confused old people and inane referendums funded by same. It’s just obvious, inevitable, a given.”

Finally, for all you law geeks out there, Radical Russ at Pam’s points out a very interesting Daily Kos diary by lawyer Seneca Doane, who says that while we didn’t win, the other side lost. How? The Court “unanimously upheld the substantive fundamental right” of same-sex couples “to [have] every single advantage that heterosexual couples do.” Doane notes that the decision “does not even say that these legal relationship aren’t marriages. It just says that the voters decided that in California, if they occurred after a certain date, we aren’t going to call them that.” Furthermore:

If you look at who won and who lost today, we lost something emotionally important and our opponents, the people who paid for Prop 8, lost almost everything of substance. In time, they will realize that the battle was really over In re Marriage Cases [last year's case that first legalized marriage for same-sex couples], and they got their butts kicked.

So, while I’m disappointed, I’m no longer outraged. It’s hard to be outraged when a unanimous California Supreme Court just reiterated that California law gives every couple regardless of gender the fundamental right to be married in fact, even if voters have messed with the labels. Our opponents lost more today than we did.

It’s an interesting argument and worth reading in full.

Although I want to be positive, I also want to acknowledge the pain and loss of so many in the LGBT community today, especially those in California. My thoughts are with you.

Your observations, comments, and venting over Prop 8 welcome in the comments.

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Prop 8: The Musical

This made my morning.

(Yeah, they use that old Bible gag from The West Wing. But since Allison Janney is in this, too, I’ll forgive them.)

Featuring (besides Janney) Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Kathy Najimy, Rashida Jones, Sarah Chalke, Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris and Marc Shaiman.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

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Prop 8: This Is How Bad It Is

Judith Warner wrote a spot-on column in the New York Times about the impact of California’s Prop 8 on several LGBT families she knows. About two gay dads, she says:

They’d also had to go to parent conferences and tell the teachers that their five-year-old daughter, Liza, might be struggling in school because she was scared that her family might fall apart. . . .

“They can’t take [your marriage] away, right?“ she’d asked her parents. “They can’t take yours away when you have children, can they?“

“That’s when we realized she was afraid something would happen to us,“ Swanson told me by phone on Wednesday. “We said, ‘They can’t take us away from you. We will be here for you forever.’“

“It’s difficult to explain to a five-year-old why it is people don’t want your parents to be married,“ he continued. “They’re young enough that there was a chance they could have grown up thinking all their lives that their family was equal and accepted. Now they’re not going to have that chance. They’ll have to spend at least part of their lives knowing that their family is something that people don’t feel is acceptable.“

Best. Interests. Of. The. Children.

In another story, a lesbian mom in Fresno says a priest from her diocese made her resign from her position as president of the parent-teacher association at her son’s Catholic school after she went to a No On Prop 8 vigil last Thursday.

If you’re not convinced already, here are my two cents on why we can’t make children of LGBT families invisible like the No On 8 organizers did during the campaign.

Information on Saturday’s national protests against Prop 8 is here. Whether you protest in a group or simply by talking with your neighbors, may these stories infuriate and motivate you.

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Thursday Open Thread – Proposition 8 Edition

Last week was really a turning point for our country. We elected the first African-American President, and it seems as if our country is heading in a new, positive direction.

Then Proposition 8 passed…or as people have called it, Proposition H8.

This past weekend, my friend Jennifer introduced me to her wife, Beth. Inevitably, the talk turned to Proposition 8 and their (and my) confusion as to what the passing of the proposition means? Is their marriage legal? For how long? What’s going to happen? What should they do? etc., etc., etc.

I can’t begin to understand why anyone would vote yes on Proposition 8. It is so hateful and discriminatory. I just don’t get it. So I did what I always do, search the internet for any glimmer of hope. I found a few that I thought I should share.

LGBT Advocates in Utah are taking the Church of the Latter Day Saints at their word. State Senator Scott McCoy and two lesbian colleagues — with the help of Equality Utah — plan to introduce legislation in Utah in January that will codify other rights afforded to LGBT individuals in California that the LDS swore it supported. Good for them!

Anti-discrimination groups and bar associations are sending letters to the court contending that the initiative, which bans gay marriage, is a sweeping revision of the state Constitution, not an amendment. They are joined by 44 state legislators and are calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn the anti-gay marriage initiative.

Even the Governator expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8. He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative.

“It’s unfortunate, obviously, but it’s not the end,” Schwarzenegger said.

So, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that this hateful anti-gay marriage initiative will get overturned by the California Supreme Court. But if it doesn’t, I’m hopeful that in the very near future, people like my friend Jennifer won’t require the “authorization” or “approval” of the short-sighted, hate-filled, 52% of Californians, who say they have “nothing against homosexuals”, yet voted “yes” on this initiative.

Jon Stewart had some interesting things to say about this topic. But I think Keith Olbermann said it best…

/rant.

Ok, this is an open thread. What’s going on with you?

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More on Proposition 8

The No on Proposition 8 campaign, which fought to protect marriage rights for gay couples, just released this statement:

This has been an incredibly difficult week for Californians who are disappointed in the passage of Proposition 8, which takes away the right to marry for same-sex couples in our state. We feel a profound sense of disappointment in this defeat, but know that in order to move forward we must continue to stand together as one community in order to secure full equality in California.

In working to defeat Prop 8, a profound coalition banded together to fight for equality. Faith leaders, labor, teachers, civil rights leaders and communities of color, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, public officials, local school boards and city councils, parents, corporate law firms and bar associations, businesses, and people from all walks of life joined together to stand up against discrimination. We must build on this coalition in order to achieve equal rights for all Californians.

We achieve nothing if we isolate the people who did not stand with us in this fight. We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss. We know people of all faiths, races and backgrounds stand with us in our fight to end discrimination, and will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is critical that we work together and respect our differences that make us a diverse and unique society. Only with that understanding will we achieve justice and equality for all.

There are outstanding lawsuits against Proposition 8 and the legality of the 18,000 gay unions in the state is in limbo. The Washington Post had an in-depth analysis of the legal arguments against Proposition 8. Even Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposes Prop. 8, is confident it will be overturned by the Supreme Court.

Nonetheless, it is a tough legal road ahead and disappointed gays, lesbians and their allies are venting in creative ways. Silicon Valley Moms blog covered a No on Prop 8 vigil in Palo Alto. The Orange County Register covered a protest in front of Rev. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. I especially loved this video on fellow MTer Dana’s website, Mombian, calling for a proposition banning divorce. What better way to protect marriage and children, right?

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Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Devra over at Parentopia wrote a beautiful tribute to her husband and father-in-law for Veteran’s Day, which was yesterday. What did you do, if anything, to mark the occasion?

Reaction to President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory last Tuesday is still pouring out on the blogs. Fellow MTer Lorin wrote a heart-felt reaction as well as some history from her native Tennessee to capture how far we have come as a country. Also, San Francisco Mom of One in Austin, Texas, apologizes for her misplaced cynicism in the American public. The PBS Engage blog captured reaction from across the country. I love reliving that moment.

This generation of Down’s syndrome children will be the first to outlive their parents, according to the Washington Post. The Post covered the challenges faced by parents seeking services and making plans for their children to live independently. In related news, Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Can this marriage be saved?” columnist counseled a couple bickering over their severely disabled son. The ending was bittersweet.

ParentCenter doled out tips on how to keep children in their beds at night. In BabyCenter: Moms offered tips on what they wish they had known in preparing for the arrival of a newborn.

Outdoor Baby offered this great tip of the week: The Hyatt hotel now offers this service, in which it delivers baby supplies, baby diapers, infant formula, organic baby gear, etc. to your hotel room. The service is called “Babies Travel Lite” and is available worldwide.

Orange County is experiencing an uptick in domestic violence calls due to the economic downturn and family tensions, according to the Orange County Register.  

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids reviewed the book Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous Eco-Friendly Holiday Season.

Keeg’s Mom over at Kids’ Flix reviewed the documentary Sharkwater.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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