What Mayor Leitzell should read in Judge Walker’s decision
Given that everyone and her sister is reporting and analyzing (an analysis I particularly like is “Analyzing the Prop 8 Win: A Few Large Points” by Brian Devine) and slicing and dissecting and giving her two cents’ worth on yesterday’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturning Calfifornia’s Proposition 8, there’s really not much need for me to join the crowd.
However, given my own run-in with Dayton’s current mayor on this issue, I can’t restrain myself from pointing to a part of Judge Walker’s decision with which Mayor Leitzell should acquaint himself.
You may recall that shortly after Mr. Leitzell announced his candidacy for mayor of Dayton I e-mailed him to ask his position on Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance, and, unbidden, he felt compelled to comment on same-sex marriage, saying:
I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.
Here’s the thing, Mr. Leitzell: tradition isn’t reason enough to deny people their rights. As Judge Walker points out on page 124 of his decision:
Tradition alone, however, cannot form a rational basis for a law. Williams v Illinois, 399 US 235, 239 (1970). The “ancient lineage” of a classification does not make it rational. Heller, 509 US at 327. Rather, the state must have an interest apart from the fact of the tradition itself.
The people defending Proposition 8 were given every opportunity to explain why the state should deny queers the right to marry—in other words to explain, as Mr. Leitzell phrased it, the “very dangerous course” on which allowing queers to marry would put our society—and they failed to do so.
Indeed, as Judge Walker points out, they couldn’t even prove that “the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage” in our society hadn’t changed (also on page 124):
[T]he evidence shows that the tradition of gender restrictions arose when spouses were legally required to adhere to specific gender roles. See FF 26-27. California has eliminated all legally-mandated gender roles except the requirement that a marriage consist of one man and one woman. FF 32.
Of course a mayor’s views on same sex marriage are unimportant, given that marriage isn’t a city issue, which is why I never asked Mr. Leitzell for his thoughts on marriage. Nonetheless, given just what his views are, Mr. Leitzell should just be glad that he doesn’t hold an office (such as that of the President of the United States) in which his views on marriage would matter and he would have to be able to cogently defend them. (President Obama, who has expressed opposition both to Proposition 8 and to same sex marriage, is not so lucky.)
An open letter to a Twit
“Please tell me what I should read,” you whine, after I’ve told you to “go read some state supreme court decisions on same sex marriage.”
Well, I’ll tell you one last time. Read Varnum v. Brien, Iowa 2009. Read Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, Conn. 2008. Read In re Marriage Cases, Calif. 2008. Read Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Mass. 2003. Read Baker v. Vermont, Vermont 1999. Read Baehr v. Lewin, Hawaii 1993. For good measure, also read Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, Canada 2004.
Yes, I get the fact that 52% of voters in California amended their constitution to proclaim that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” perhaps the only section of any constitution you actually have read.
But have you also read the part of California’s constitution that says that revisions or “substantial alteration[s]” of that constitution require the prior approval of two-thirds of each house of the state legislature before voters may vote for them? You may argue that Proposition 8 was only an amendment and not a revision, but you can’t say that people who disagree with you are pulling something out of their asses.
For, you see, marriage is a substantial right. You seem to think that my referencing Turner v. Safley, U.S. Supreme Court 1987, and Loving v. Virginia, U.S. Supreme Court 1967, was an attempt to say that these two cases justified same sex marriage, but that wasn’t why I pointed out those two decisions. I pointed them out to rebut your silly argument that marriage is not a right. Marriage is a “fundamental freedom,” one of the “basic civl rights of man” (both from Loving v. Virginia). The right to marry is even more important than the right to vote—in many states convicted felons lose the right to vote, but no convict in the United States loses the right to marry.
You keep harping on the fact that in states other than California the voters haven’t had a chance to vote on whether queers may retain their constutional right to marry. Well guess what? Voters in these states had the opportunity to ratify their state constitutions, including the processes for amending those constitutions. It may well be in California that a 2% majority can vote to take away a fundamental right such as marriage, but voters in other states decided, when they ratified their constitutions, that they wanted stronger protections of the rights their constitutions guarantee.
And it’s been 10 long years since Baker v. Vermont and 6 years since Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. So your claim that what happened in Vermont and Massachusetts “were not decisions made by the people of those states” doesn’t have much substance, does it? If you were right, the people of these states have had quite enough time to vote out the legislators who have supposedly stymied their right to vote on same sex marriage.
Call me ignorant all you want. You’re the one saying you don’t have to read further on this issue than the most recent amendment to California’s constitution.
So, no, you can’t say that I haven’t “put forth a coherent argument.” You may not want to hear my argument, but I’ve put it forth.
I will concede that I’m not going to make you change your mind. Luckily I don’t have to. You and your ilk may win some battles. California’s supreme court may well let Proposition 8 stand. But it won by 2%. And we queers and our allies can keep coming back until the tides turn, which, MAConservative, they are.
Okay, one last post about this and then I’ll try to stop being so obsessive about it. Apparently Mrs. Leitzell’s last name isn’t Leitzell but rather a different hyphenated name. How do I know this? Not from being too cyberstalkerish, I think, but rather from reading this post on Gary Leitzell’s This Old Crack House blog, in which he posts a photo of his house complete with its parcel ID number as well as a link to the County Auditor’s page, where one can find all sorts of information about properties in Montgomery County, which I took as practically begging people to look up info on his property — I could post a direct link to the property and even a photo of it (not the photo from Mr. Leitzell’s site but one from the county website because I’m pretty sure county photos are public domain [United States government creations are]), but I’ll be (somewhat) nice and leave this as a homework exercise for you.
At any rate, the property in question is not titled to Mr. Leitzell but to a woman with a hyphenated last name. Could this woman be his wife? Could Mr. Leitzell, advocate of the traditional legal definition of marriage, have such an untraditional marriage that not only is he a stay-at-home father but also his wife did not take his surname?
Now let me be clear — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women keeping their own names when they marry — my own sister’s last name is different from my brother-in-law’s, and I certainly would keep my own last name if I ever get married. I also don’t see anything wrong with stay-at-home fathers or home schooling kids — my own nephew is a student of the very same Internet public charter school (again, not overly cyberstalkerish but gleaned from a post on one of his own blogs) that Mr. Leitzell chose for his daughter.
However, what drives me crazy is someone telling me on the one hand that changing the legal definition of marriage to extend equal rights to same sex couples will set our nation on "a very dangerous course" and on the other hand himself adopting a non-traditional lifestyle. Mr. Leitzell, let me introduce you to Mr. Ratta, who I’m sure can tell you a thing or two about the dangerous course of letting your wife not take your last name upon marriage.
One really last thing: Same sex marriage is not a mayoral issue, unless you’re Gavin Newsom. I didn’t ask Gary Leitzell about same sex marriage. I asked him his position on the addition to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance of sexual orientation as a protected class, and he volunteered his position on the definition of marriage. I also asked him if he’d be opposed to any attempt to take sexual orientation out of Dayton’s ordinance if he were mayor. I got no answer to that. Would Gary Leitzell pander to the same Christianists to whom our former Mayor Turner, who I will admit did some good things for the city, pandered?
Update 8/24/2009: I was right — Gary Leitzell’s “traditional marriage” is so untraditional that Mrs. Leitzell’s double-barrelled surname doesn’t even include “Leitzell” as one of its barrells.
Reading Frank Rich's commentary today on President-Elect Obama's inaugural invocation invitation of Rick Warren as well as some of the blogospheric commentary on Frank Rich's commentary reminded me what it was Warren had actually said in his BeliefNet interview:
The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that [rights granted to gays by domestic partnership laws] as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.
Sound somewhat familiar? It should, and it did to me because Warren's concern about the redefinition of marriage is shared by Gary Leitzell, about whom I wrote yesterday. Leitzell, you'll recall, is worried about the "dangerous course" our country will be headed down if we "chang[e] the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage." Ding! Now I know what Leitzell was worried about. He's worried, as is Warren, that if we let the queers marry then next we'll let brothers marry sisters and men marry children.
Just like has happened in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Massachusetts and probably will happen soon in Connecticut and would have happened in California were it not for Proposition 8.
Oh, wait... it hasn't happened yet, has it? Is there a push in these jurisdictions to legalize marriage between siblings? Maybe I'm just unaware.
And wait, men marrying children? Didn't that actually used to be legal? Wasn't it as recently as 2006 that a Nebraska man drove his 14-year-old knocked up girlfriend to Kansas in order to marry her because at that time Kansas had no minimum marriage age? So do tell me about traditional marriage, Mr. Warren and Mr. Leitzell. Seems that traditional marriage legally sanctioned what most people today would call illegal pedophilia. Let's return to traditional marriage?!
And one guy having multiple wives? Perhaps this isn't a danger Leitzell's worried about but Warren, a Christian pastor, specifically cited it as a danger that altering the "5,000 year definition of marriage" might lead to. Um, hello, pastor? Does that 5,000 years cover any of the polygamous marriages in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible?! Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
And that's probably Obama's master plan. Letting people like Warren and Leitzell talk about the dangers to American society presented by the gays getting married helps most Americans to realize how ludicrous that is.
A copy of a photograph of Gary Leitzell with his lovely wife and daughter was originally posted here, but he asked me to remove it.*
Traditionally no husband would be a stay at home father. So much for changing the traditional definition of marriage, huh?
I read in today's Dayton Daily News of Gary Leitzell's mayoral candidacy, so I e-mailed him to ask where he stood on last year's addition of sexual orientation as a protected class in Dayton's non-discrimination ordinances. He very quickly replied, saying that he has "no problems with equal rights for gays" but adding, unasked, that he does "have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage."*
Funny, how equal rights for gays so obviously, even to a straight man, relates to marriage.
Funny, also, how people don't understand what marriage traditionally meant. Traditionally marriage meant a man was master of his wife or wives. He'd acquired her (or them) from her (or their) father(s) and legally couldn't even rape her (them) for how could a man rape what was basically his own property. Women had no rights in marriage traditionally.
You don't hear too many people advocating a return to truly traditional marriage, do you?
No, most people have grown comfortable with the idea that marriage is a relationship between two equal partners. And if the definition of marriage has changed to that, and don't tell me it hasn't, then what's so wrong with those two equal partners both being men or both being women?
*Update: Gary Leitzell e-mailed me to ask me to remove the photograph of him with his lovely wife and daughter, so I've done so, though you can still see it (at least for now) on his mayoral campaign blog or on his personal blog.
He was also dismayed that I had asked him "a question anonymously" and then posted his answer, taking it out of context.
Well first, I did not ask him a question anonymously. I used my real name and used my davidlauri.com e-mail address, not some made up AOL or Yahoo screen name totally unconnected to any real person. And second, he's a candidate for mayor; that he should be surprised that people discuss his positions on issues is itself surprising. And no, he did not specify that his answer was "off the record," though if he had done so, that'd be pretty interesting, wouldn't it? A candidate for mayor who didn't care to take public stands on issues?
So let's look at the rest of his reply:
I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.
I suppose that could mean he doesn't mind changing the legal definition of marriage if it wouldn't line the pockets of lawyers to do so.
Or it could mean that he thinks that despite our having changed the legal definition of marriage in the past to preclude polygamy or to make divorce possible or to change a wife's rights that to change it by extending it to same sex couples would mean that we'd start changing the definition of other words too — perhaps we'll end up dangerously redefining legally "blue" to mean "red" or "expenses" to mean "income."
Why he'd think that, I've no idea. Seems to me that marriage has had a relatively straightforward (no pun intended) legal evolution and extending it to same sex couples doesn't mean we're going to be redefining everything.
And I think it seems that way to the justices on the Supreme Courts of several states (Hawaii: Baehr v. Lewin, 1993; Vermont: Baker v. Vermont, 1999; Massachusetts: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003; California: In re Marriage Cases, 2008; Connecticut: Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, 2008 [update 04/03/2009: and Iowa: Varnum v. Brien, 2009]) and a foreign country too (Canada: Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004) as well as to the legislatures of some foreign countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada). But what do they know?
|If only gay marriage were illegal…|
Dan Savage notes, after seeing an MSNBC report about the high number of abused and neglected children at a Utah polygamist ranch, that "none of this polygamy crap would be happening if it were illegal for gay people to get married in Utah." Damn Utah for legalizing gay marriage! Don't they care about the children? Oh, wait…
Well I guess I've managed to piss someone off (not that it was the first time nor will it be the last). The author of the class reunion letter from my previous post asked me to remove his name from the letter and probably would have preferred that I take down the letter altogether because he thought I'd displayed his name "in a derogatory manner" and he felt "humiliated and offended." You can read the post and decide for yourself whether I mistreated him, but I don't think I did since I didn't even mention his name (you'd have had to click on the letter even to have seen it, and I didn't make any comment whatsoever about the content of the letter). Now I did make some comments about two people who'd gone out of their way to be unpleasant to me in high school — that should be proof enough that if I want to be derogatory towards someone or to try to humiliate or offend someone, I'm quite capable of doing so (just ask my friend Mr. Pyle).
I thought that this cartoon, which is making its way around the gay blogosphere in response to the full-page ad
in the New York Times
by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, might be pertinent to this blog post.
At any rate, this class reunion committee person and I exchanged a few e-mails, and he stressed that he's a "tolerant, accepting person" but didn't seem to think that I believed that. Really, I do believe he is, and I take him at his word that he voted against Issue 1. He told me about attending the union service of friends of his that my friend and pastor Mike Castle officiated at. Let me say here for the official record that if you manage to figure out his name via clever Googling, I absolutely do not mean to imply that he's anything other than a decent guy. Just as most of my former classmates are probably decent "perfectly nice people" (to quote from my post).
I'm thinking, however, that this class reunion committee person doesn't share my sense of humor. I don't think he appreciates the comments I put in place of his signature and name in the letter, and judging from his last very brief response I don't think he likes that I found online a record of his $500 donation in 2006 to the Republican National Committee, which I mentioned to him in what I thought was a playful way, saying that people do tend to stereotype Republicans as intolerant.
Well it is true that people tend to stereotype Republicans as intolerant, based on things such as the Republican party's 2008 platform, which "call[s] for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman," stresses the "importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married" (meaning that officially Republicans are opposed to the raising of kids by people like my friend and pastor Mike and his partner Dan, who, as this class reunion committee person pointed out to me, also went to Fairborn High School) and decries the "judicial activism" that might "impos[e] upon the rest of the nation" what happened "in Massachusetts and California." (What did happen in Massachusetts and California [and Connecticut too]? Didn't the state supreme courts say that equal protection applies to queers too?) Last time I checked, we queers weren't trying to say that all churches have to allow same sex marriages or union services or that straight people have to attend gay weddings or that straight people have to divorce their oppose sex spouses and marry people of their own genders. We can tolerate people thinking that homosexuality is wrong. We just don't think that the civil laws of our nation should reflect the religious views of only a part of the nation. So yeah, I do tend to think that Republicans in general are intolerant.
But I wasn't trying to say that my sensitive former classmate is intolerant just because he's a Republican. I would follow his example, though, and say that one might want to be accountable to the publically espoused views of a group to which one belongs. In his first e-mail to me, he quoted from my church's Value Statement, suggesting that my blog post didn't fully live up to those values. He's absolutely right — I don't fully live up to those values. But while I really don't believe that he's intolerant and do believe that he was happy for his lesbian friends who got unioned, I also know he donated money to an organization that makes a big deal of wanting to make sure I don't have the same rights he has. If it's mean (intolerant even?) of me to point that out to him, so be it.
Like the sign I made?
All of us?
Here I am in all my glory
Jim and David want to defile the sanctity of marriage
Randy wants to defile whatever he can
Protesting is fun,
even in the rain!
A bunch of Mormons and blacks and Catholics and old people along with some Hispanics and Asians and whites passed Proposition 8 in California and took away the right of their queer neighbors to get married. So queers across the country decided to hold protests today.
Gathered at the Old Courthouse
Even queers in Dayton. Neither rain nor sleet nor snow kept us from demanding the right to wreck marriage as badly as breeders have.
I even printed up special stickers and posted them around downtown. (I recommend Inkpress Adhesive Vinyl sheets — they even hold up well in the rain!)
Mocking str8 people’s inability to protect their stupid marriages may not have accomplished anything, but at least it let a bunch of angry queers vent.
I'm kinda pissed at black people right now.
Change, but not for everyone?
It's not because Obama won — I'm glad he won. I voted for him, I donated money to his campaign, I think the country and the world will be better off with him as President, and I even think gay people will be better off with him instead of McCain appointing justices to the Supreme Court.
California families are safe now that the queers can't marry any more
What pisses me off is that Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in California to "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California
" won fairly narrowly, about 52 percent to 48 percent, but what pushed the measure over the top was the overwhelming support of black Californians
, who voted 69 percent
to 31 percent to discriminate against their gay and lesbian neighbors.
And I'm kinda pissed at Obama too. His campaign encouraged record turnout among all kinds of people but especially among African Americans. And although Obama thought Proposition 8 was a bad idea, speaking out widely against the issue wasn't something he felt important. And perhaps he was right to shy away from it, although with the polls in the last days of the campaign showing how overwhelmingly he was going to win in California and nationwide, I think he could have risked appearing in a No on 8 ad the weekend before the election.
This is just the latest in a long string of episodes involving African Americans joining up with other people to push for discrimination against LGBT people. Just last year "black ministers [in Dayton were] outspoken in their oppposition to" updating our city's non-discrimination ordinances to include protections for LGBT people. Of course last year's episode also included a courageous African American politican, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, who stood up for the ordinance and got it passed despite the potential harm to her career.
A big part of why I'm pissed off is that I've worked to end discrimination against black people, and yet tons of black people feel compelled to discriminate against me. My involvement's not been only token stuff, like marching in Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches, which, yes, I have done every cold January for years (thank God we queers picked June for our marches!). I've volunteered with the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations since 2001, helping to faciliate groups in churches, schools, businesses and homes to get white people to understand the trememdous privilege we have because of the color of our skin and the structure of our country and to help black people to work with their white friends, co-workers and neighbors to find ways to change the status quo here in Dayton. I've spoken out to people at my predominantly white, suburban church about the need for us to work not only for justice for gay people but also for justice for people of color, and I've worked with others at my church to forge relationships between our church and a more racially-diverse urban church.
Of course my work on race relations hasn't been altruistic. I probably would never have gotten involved in it if I weren't gay, if I hadn't heard a black man at an ugly city commission hearing in 1999 ask me and other white gay activists where we'd been all these years when black people were struggling. While I don't introduce myself to DDRR groups as a gay man and while the point of these discussions is to dialogue about race not sexual orientation, I don't hide who I am, and my being gay usually comes up at some point (such as on the second night of a dialogue group last month where some of the participants noticed my gay car as we were talking in the parking lot afterwards). I work for racial reconciliation not just because I think it's the right thing to do but because I think the more black people who see a gay man working on their issues, the more black people who might take a more positive view towards my issues.
Hence my anger and disappointment.
This family's safe, so long as daddy isn't down low
Of course I realize that the black civil rights movement has a much longer history than does the gay one. African Americans and their allies have been fighting for their rights much longer than have LGBT people and our allies. So considering the hundreds of years it's taken to end slavery, to end dejure and reduce defacto discrimination, to gain African Americans a political voice, the gay rights movement's come a long way quickly. And white privilege and racial steering and inequality in housing and employment and the criminal justice system aren't going away simply because a black man's been elected President.
Yet despite the differences between the discrimination faced by African Americans and that faced by queers (most blacks can't hide — most queers can; most blacks grow up with supportive black parents — most queers grow up with unsupportive straight parents), our struggles do overlap. In every black church in America there are black gay men and lesbians. Voting to discriminate against queers doesn't affect just white guppies but also affects African American families. And a culture which fosters diversity and equal treatment for everyone, including LGBT people, is more likely to foster diversity and equal treatment for African Americans. And the real danger to African American families isn't white openly gay men and lesbians getting married — it's pretending that no African Americans are queer.
Maybe it's time we had some dialogue about that.
Ugh. Politics makes me tired, and here are two examples from yesterday as to how.
came after hearing Barack Obama respond
on the CNN YouTube debates to a question about the difference between banning interracial marriage and banning gay marriage. Senator Obama say that he wants "to make sure everyone is equal under the law" and then proceeded to say that he thinks giving one set of people civil unions and another set marriage will accomplish that. Great, Obama's officially come out in favor of separate but equal.
So I took the time to look up Obama's campaign website
and to send his campaign an e-mail in which I said that he'd never have accepted separate but equal in place of interracial marriages, so how can he think that's right for same sex couples?
Separate but equal is a fallacy, and you know it. If, in the 60s, people had said, "marriage is between people of the same race, but we'll set up civil unions for interracial relationships," you'd have been offended, and rightly so.
Civil unions are by their very nature not equal to marriage. People in civil unions can't take their civil union documents to other states and have them recognized. They can't attach them to their federal income tax returns and have them recognized. They can't take them to immigration and have their foreign partners allowed into the country.
Civil unions are in fact separate and unequal, and if you stop to think about that, you know that to be true yourself.
I'd certainly agree that no religious body should be coerced into performing same sex (or interracial for that matter) marriage ceremonies. But that's a separate issue, one that's simple enough to explain.
If you are truly for "mak[ing] sure that everybody is equal under the law," then stop spouting this "separate but equal" nonsense, Senator.
And to Obama's campaign's credit, I got a response to my e-mail within 24 hours, but here's what makes me tired. Either their incredibly sophisticated e-mail response computer program or their incredibly stupid unpaid human campaign volunteer read my e-mail, saw "civil unions" and sent me back a lame response explaining all the rights for gay people that Obama supports (and explaining how great Obama is on AIDS issues — why is AIDS (including in Kenya?!) still just a gay issue?), completely ignoring my point that what Obama supports is
separate but equal. I already knew Obama supports civil unions and did not need them to send me an automated e-mail telling me so. I might as well not have wasted my time.
Thank you for contacting Senator Barack Obama and Obama for America with your thoughts on gay rights. We appreciate hearing from you.
Senator Obama supports economic, social, and legal rights for gays and lesbians. He supports full civil unions, expanding hate crimes statutes, fighting discrimination at work and in housing and other places of public accommodation, and wants to increase adoption rights. He opposes any Constitutional ban on gay marriage, opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, and opposes the current "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military, which weakens us in a time of global challenges.
Barack is a global leader in the fight against AIDS. He traveled to Kenya and took a public HIV test to encourage testing and reduce the stigma of the disease. In late 2006, Barack Obama worked to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, one of the largest sources of federal funds for primary health care and support services for patients with HIV/AIDS.
Senator Obama has consistently supported gay rights, and will continue to work for an open, tolerant society where people of all sexual orientations are protected and their contributions are valued. Thank you again for writing.
Obama for America
political thing yesterday that made me tired was attending the Western Ohio regional meeting of Equaliy Ohio
. One of the few political activities recently that did energize me somewhat was participating in Equality Ohio's Lobby Day earlier this year, not that it actually accomplished anything such as repeal of Issue 1
or passage of a state-level non-discrimination act, but it was a step. So when I saw that Equality Ohio was having a meeting, I figured I would go.
And what I saw when I got to the meeting, not counting the 2 Equality Ohio organizers who'd driven down from Columbus, was 14 people I already knew from Dayton-area LGBT groups and 1 new person I didn't already know. And what I heard, despite the Equality Ohio guy's asking us how many of us were already on Equality Ohio's mailing lists (all of us but the one new guy) and how many of us had participated in Lobby Day (almost all of us), was a repeat spiel of the history of Issue 1 and the formation of Equality Ohio and how Lobby Day works and how precinct analysis and voter identification helped us in the 2006 election (and how, in a state whose population is 11,353,140 and thus whose LGBT population is at least 113,531 [1%] and more like 1,135,314 [10%] we managed to get 6,500 [0.06%] postcards signed in support of ENDA
). Brilliant. Way to reinvigorate the choir.
Finally after that spiel and another fairly brief spiel on the types of activities we could do (outreach, activism, education and visibility), we broke up into smaller groups to talk about specifics. Despite the loss of energy during these spiels, I did have a small energy boost at the idea of doing some local lobbying, similar to what we did on a state level in Columbus, so I headed over to the activism corner, to be joined by two friends from church
and by the new guy. Most people, it seems, were more interested in the education-type activities, including, as it turned out, the new guy, who, when asked about what he wanted to do, kept talking about stuff like letting the public know about our issues. Goodbye, small energy boost.
We get back into the larger group, and to wrap things up the Equality Ohio guy wants to know what day next month would be good for us all to meet again. Wait, I said. Why do we need to schedule yet another monthly meeting for all of the same people (Diversity Dayton, Greater Dayton LGBT Center, Dayton PFLAG, Cross Creek Justice and Witness Committee) to come to? So we all came to our senses and did not schedule another Equality Ohio regional meeting, deciding instead that our working groups could stay in touch via phone and e-mail and meet separately if necessary.
If I can drum up some more energy, I might run the idea of a local lobbying effort past some of my friends and acquaintances and maybe something will come of it. Or maybe not.
|Not very bright today, are we?
I read an article in today's New York Times about the same-sex marriage bill that just passed in New York's State Assembly (and will die in its Senate). In debate about the bill one assemblywoman said something that, even if the year were 1989* and not 2007, is really just incredibly stupid. Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, who voted against same sex marriage, was concerned that "same sex couples can't reproduce and repopulate the United States." Now I'd never heard of the assemblywoman before reading this article, and so I have no idea whether she's mentally challenged, but saying something like that really makes it seems as if she is, doesn't it?
Assemblywoman Clark worries:
How are we going to
repopulate the United States?
- Does Ms. Clark think that if same sex marriage passes, all the heterosexuals are gonna turn gay? Perhaps she voted against the bill to save herself from temptation.
- Is the assemblywoman privy to news from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that the rest of the world is not? Is it a well-kept secret that no baby Bay Staters have been born since the queers have been able to marry there?
- Is it possible that Barbara, in 2007, hasn't actually met any gay people? Could she really not know that these days the gays are all about having kids?
I mean, come on, if you're gonna be against same sex marriage, don't say it's because you're afraid there'll be no Children of [Gay] Men. Instead fall back on something that can't be refuted, like the Bible tells you that homosexuality is an abomination and you want to make America a theocracy.
* In 1989 Denmark because the first nation in the world to allow same sex registered partnerships, conveying most of the rights of marriage to same sex couples. Denmark's birth rate has been declining somewhat but remains above 10 births/1,000 population, not too far below the U.S. rate of 14.
Well I took an hour and a half today and made some phone calls (80, to be precise) for MoveOn.org's Call for Change program. I don't know how much difference it will make, but it was fairly painless. The last time I did this kind of calling was in 1992, at a phone bank set up in a union office on a back street in the Oregon District. Now you don't need a phone bank — everyone just uses his or her cell phone, which is especially good because, since cell phone long distance is free, organizers can have volunteers call across the country to key districts.
All my numbers were area code 724, south west Pennsylvania, near West Virginia, places I'd never heard of, like Waynesburg and Carmichaels and Wind Ridge and Jefferson. So I was in Ohio calling on behalf of Bob Casey, who's running against Rick Santorum for Senate. Casey's adequate on gay issues (also a bit stupid on gay issues — he supports "same sex unions that would give gay couples all the rights, privileges and protections of marriage" but just doesn't want to call it marriage). However, Santorum is pure evil, so it felt good to do a little work towards getting him defeated. Don't forget, santorum means "that frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" (oops, yet another thing Mr. Pyle probably shouldn't see).
Yesterday evening I attended a Community Conversation put on by the Centerville Washington Diversity Council
at Centerville High School on "Gay & Lesbian Issues at the Intersection of Faith & Public Policy." I would not have chosen to go to this on my own — I'm way past the point where I need to hear the same tired arguments brought out by conservatives that homosexuality is wrong and homosexuals need compassion and cures — but my friend and pastor, Mike Castle, was on the panel and asked for people to come be in the audience to support him. Another friend and Cross Creeker called me at work a few hours before the event to see if I'd be going; he was worried about going alone. As you can see from the picture, he needn't have worried. Between Cross Creek
there were lots of supportive people there.
Normandy United Methodist Church
Ephiphany Lutheran Church
Cross Creek Community Church
Dayton Christian High School
I suppose it's good that Centerville and Washington Twp. have a diversity council and that they're willing to discuss gay issues. Still the diversity of the panel selected for the program was a bit ironic — four white men, all Christian, all Protestant. That last bit was unplanned; Dr. Brad Kallenberg, professor of theology at the University of Dayton was originally supposed to be a panelist (no, wait, Kallenberg
may actually also be a Protestant), but his spot was filled by Mr. Paul Pyle, who teaches Bible and Yearbook at Dayton Christian High School
. Rounding out the panel, in addition to Mike, were the Rev. John Bradosky of Epiphany Lutheran Church
and the Rev. Tom Harry of Normandy United Methodist Church
. I hadn't met any of these other panelists before. It was only upon hearing about the event that I learned that Harry is the father of a friend of mine at Cross Creek, and it was only after googling Bradosky
that I learned he is Centerville's official chaplain
(thank God I don't pay Centerville taxes or I'd be pissed).
The format of the evening was that the moderator, WDTN's Marsha Bonhart
, posed six questions (presumably written by the Diversity Council), each of which was answered by two panelists (one from each side). Then after a break there was a very brief time during which she read selected written questions from the audience for various panelists to answer. I liked how Bonhart started her duties as moderator; she said she had to be impartial but implied (especially later) that she personally supported the pro-gay side. Rather than echo the questions and responses, I'll highlight some points that caught my attention.
incest is not!
Bradosky talked about the holiness code found in Leviticus and pointed out that although lots of sexual behaviors are banned, such as adultery and incest, it is only homosexuality to which the term "to'ebah" or abomination is applied. Since Bradosky took such care to point that out, I suppose he feels that homosexuality is worse than incest. I guess it's refreshing that unlike most conservatives he sees a difference between incest and homosexuality.
Bradosky also went multiple times to the creation story in Genesis (surely he realizes there are two creation stories in Genesis) and said that since the story's all about God creating Man and Woman for each other, homosexuality must be wrong. Sex, he said, is about the reunion of two parts. Penises and vaginas fit together. Poor guy doesn't seem to realize that penises and rectums fit together too, as do penises and mouths.
Bradosky certainly knows the party line on homosexuality. Other old faithful points he trotted out include:
- love the sinner and reject the sin
- marriage has always been defined as heterosexual (hmm, well marriage hasn't always been defined as one man, one woman, though, has it?)
- that the majority decides issues is the American way (too bad the majority in the South couldn't vote to continue slavery or Jim Crow laws?)
- Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair (hmm, I guess there's no need to work for justice here on Earth; just believe in Jesus and you'll get your rewards in heaven)
- research on long-term same-sex marriage says such relationships last only 7 years, while the average heterosexual marriages last 21 years — pressed later for a source he said the Institute for Sex Research, which I couldn't find online (does he mean the old Institut für Sexualwissenschaft from Berlin? does he mean the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction?)
What I did find online says that marriages last an average of 9.4 years, not 21.
Pyle did pretty good for his team too. He kept insisting on two things, that we have to live our lives by Biblical authority and that homosexual behavior leads to destructive behavior. Pyle does acknowledge that the Bible is silent on some "disputable matters" on which people may disagree, but lest we think that Jesus was silent about homosexuality, we need to remember that Jesus went back to Genesis to answer a question about divorce and Genesis is, as Pyle's teammate Bradosky already pointed out, all about Man and Woman fitting together, so actually Jesus said homosexuality is wrong without having to resort to so many words. In the words of the Church Lady, how convenient!
that we have Pyle to interpret the Bible for us.
Responding to a later followup question about what he would do if a child of his came out as gay to him, Pyle told us about his daughter who suffers from mental illness and how he struggles to help her find counseling that will help her avoid destructive behaviors. It's obvious that Pyle didn't get the memo that the American Psychiatric Association doesn't consider homosexuality to be a mental illness
and that he doesn't know a whole lot of gay people. After the forum, I went up to Pyle to invite him to come to Cross Creek where he can get to know some gay people whose lives aren't all about destructive behavior. (I suppose I should hope Pyle never finds the pics I took at Folsom
, though he can find plenty of pics of heterosexuals engaged in destructive behavior too if he cares to look.)
Harry did an okay job explaining what he saw the purposes of marriage to be (procreation, faithfulness, sacrament which points to God's loving nature, and support/companionship) and explaining that procreation was more than fertilization but also nurturing and caring for children. I'm sure he came across as wildly secular humanistic though to the conservative members of the audience because when asked in a followup question what the authority for his beliefs was, he said he'd sort of come up with his views on his own (an honest answer which probably mirrors my own thoughts but not appealing to people who like Biblical Authority).
Mike personalized the issue, talking about his partner Dan and their children Gideon and Jamie, about how Dan wouldn't receive Social Security spousal benefits if Mike died and about the difficulty in providing legal protections for their non-heterosexual family. Oh well, in the words of Pastor Bradosky, "Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair."
Issue 1 votes in Montgomery County
Presidential election 2004 in Montgomery County
See that island of dark blue slightly to the right of the center of first map to the left (you might need to zoom in to see it)? Those are the precincts in Montgomery County that voted against Issue 1 by a margin of at least 2:1. I live in one of them, Dayton precinct 1-B, which voted 307-90 against Issue 1, or a margin of about 3:1. (The gray areas also voted against Issue 1, just much more narrowly.) The vast majority of my immediate neighbors think that I should have equal rights, or at least that Issue 1 went too far in denying me equal rights. That shouldn't be too surprising since many of my neighbors are gay. So if you have to live in Dayton and want to live in the best part of town, check out the Oregon District.
The second map shows how precincts in Montgomery County voted in the presidential election. (Both these maps come from an article by Dayton Daily News reporters Jim DeBrosse, Lawrence Budd and Ken McCall.) You'll notice that in this map I live in a somewhat larger island of blue, roughly corresponding to the city of Dayton. (My precinct isn't dark blue, however, as some of my neighbors, even some gay ones, supported Bush.) Interestingly, there's a gray section from the first map that is pink in the second map (perhaps Oakwood and parts of Kettering?). Maybe these are the Republicans who actually listened when Governor Taft and Senators Voinovich and DeWine told them Issue 1 was a bad thing.
What does this mean for me? I'm still leaving. I wouldn't mind living on an island, but I'd prefer a different one.
I knew it was coming and I knew what people in Colorado and Cincinnati felt like when their neighbors voted to make them second-class citizens, but I didn't expect to feel so depressed once it officially happened in Ohio. I suppose I should take some solace in the fact that Ohio's amendment passed with a lower percentage than amendments in other states (only 62% of Ohioans think that not only should I be barred from marriage but also from even civil unions -- whoopee!). I suppose I should take some solace in knowing that 2 million Ohioans did in fact vote against Issue 1. I do take some solace in knowing that most of my friends and family voted against Issue 1.
It's not solace enough however. I didn't choose to be gay and I didn't choose to be an Ohioan. Although some might argue that in fact I can do something about the former, everyone must acknowledge that I can do something about the latter. There are states and in fact countries in which gay and lesbian people can have equal rights. I don't have to beg and plead with people in Ohio to treat me equally. I can leave and go someplace where I will be equal.
This is similar to a decision I made several years ago to leave the United Methodist Church. It wasn't that there aren't good people in the Methodist church, but it was that I was tired of being in a place where people were always arguing and voting about whether I deserved to be treated equally as a child of God. I was incredibly lucky to meet people forming a new church in which all would be truly welcome and equal, and we were lucky to find a denomination which has already had the arguments about whether gay people are made in God's image and deserve fair treatment. That church is Cross Creek Community Church, and it's something about Dayton that I'll miss.
I have a scholarship to study in Germany for six months next year, so I was going to get away from the divisiveness in the United States anyway. I'm not sure what I'm going to do after that. Probably grad school, probably somewhere in the United States, but it won't be in Ohio. The incredible freedom of being out is that I face less (overt, at least) discrimination, for example, in employment, because I wouldn't take a job someplace that didn't accept gay people. I'm going to apply that freedom to where I live too.
|Two reasons for feeling rather hopeless about tomorrow's election:
Here's hoping the concentration camps have good dance music.
- This morning a nice guy in one of my classes thanked me for being honest with him about why he should consider voting against Ohio Issue 1, said he had to vote his conscience nevertheless, and hoped we could still be friends. I replied that I appreciated his integrity in being honest with me, that we could still be friendly (there's no point in hating), and that I didn't think I could truly be friends with someone who would vote to make me a second-class citizen.
- This evening I spent a little time in gay.com's Dayton 1 chat room where I learned that at least two ditzy faggots there did not even know what Issue 1 is. One said he spends too much time chatting with his online friends to read newspapers. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that straight people haven't done any research on gay issues, but I naively hoped that gay people at least would be less apathetic.
I have a very close straight female friend who voted against Bush in 2000 who confessed to me last night that she plans to vote for Bush this time. The reason? She doesn't like John Kerry. She saw a documentary that said he lied to get his medals in Vietnam, and she's offended that he spoke against the Vietnam war. She thinks if Kerry wins we'll have socialized medicine. She doesn't trust John Kerry. She thinks that Bush is what this country needs to keep it safe against terrorism. To top it off, even Robin Williams, she says, is conservative.
I love my friend dearly but her using Robin Williams as justification for voting for Bush seems to explain Republicans in a nutshell. She'd been forwarded an e-mail that listed a bunch of sarcastic conservative statements that Robin Williams supposedly said. See, she said, even Robin Williams is conservative. Except it just ain't so. First of all snopes.com found the original e-mail with no mention of Williams. Second of all, Robin Williams does fundraisers for Democratic senate candidates and jokes that "Bush complaining about a lack of intelligence seems sort of redundant." My friend would rather take some conservative propaganda at face value instead of examining it critically. Are all Republicans like that?
The documentary my friend saw was probably the Sinclair Broadcasting program featuring information from Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal. Whether Sinclair's airing of this program was right has been covered by many other bloggers and columnists, but what gets me is that my friend criticized Fahrenheit 911 as being biased propaganda that she didn't need to see. She can make judgments about John Kerry based on one program, but it offends her sensibilities to even watch something that's critical of the president. I pointed out to her that Kerry is the man who risked his life in Vietnam while Bush pulled family strings to stay as far away from Vietnam as possible. That doesn't matter to her. She thinks Kerry lied to get his medals and then dishonored them by speaking against the war. She wouldn't put it this way, but for her a coward is better than someone brave enough to speak his mind.
She also said that most veterans are against Kerry. She's seen the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads. She hasn't bothered to do any research as to whether these claims are valid. She has a computer which she uses to forward chain e-mail (such as the Robin Williams one), but she can't be bothered to google "Swift Boat Veterans" and do any reading. I've sent her a link to a truthout.org report discrediting one of the Swift Boat vets. I've also sent her a link to MoveOn PAC's Republicans Voting for Kerry ads. Considering that my friend herself is a Republican who voted against Bush, I hope she'll take time to consider her decision this time instead of just voting against Kerry based on having heard only one side.
I had to laugh out loud when my friend cited Kerry's plans for socialized medicine as a reason to vote against him. First, I'm not sure "socialized medicine" is an accurate way to describe his plans for reforming health care. More importantly, I asked her if she thought Democrats were likely to take control of Congress. When she finally quieted down and listened to me, she admitted that Republicans would probably retain control of Congress. How then, I asked, was Kerry going to implement socialized medicine? Were Republicans in the House and Senate going to roll over and pass whatever he suggested? Hell, Bill and Hillary Clinton had a Democratic House and Senate and couldn't get health care reform passed. My friend is a nurse and so perhaps she knows more about our country's great health care system than I do, but even if Kerry's plans for health care are bad, couldn't she hold her nose and vote for Kerry anyway, counting on political gridlock to fend off major changes?
My friend knows I'm gay, of course, and she has many other gay friends. She doesn't think we're evil or sinners. She's conservative enough that calling gay relationships "marriage" makes her uneasy, but not so uneasy that she hasn't gone to gay weddings. Yet she had the audacity last night to tell me that gay marriage wasn't her issue. That made me angry, it hurt me, and I feel betrayed. I told her I was disappointed in her. She tried to say that friends can have different political views, which I guess is true if you disagree about taxes or health care, but to me it's not quite the same when it comes to amending our state and federal constitutions to make me a second class citizen. I pointed out to my friend that she's been divorced twice (a low blow, perhaps, but it's the truth that she, like so many heterosexuals, is hardly in a place to tell gay people anything about how sacred marriage is) and asked her how she'd feel if these amendments were about restricting marriage to people who'd never been divorced. That thought had never occured to her, because heterosexuals just take their rights for granted. It doesn't matter that she's failed at two marriages; she automatically assumes that she should have the right to marry again if she wants. That I would not have the right to any recognition of a relationship, not even civil unions, is less important to her than feeling safe against terrorists.
"Marygate" came up, and my friend, who doesn't think homosexuality is a choice, said she was offended by Kerry's having brought up Mary. Never mind that Mary was already out, never mind that Dick Cheney himself mentioned Mary specifically when asked a general question about gay marriage, my friend was offended by Kerry. Why would she be offended by Kerry but not by the fact that Bush and the Republicans have demonized homosexuals? I truly do not understand. My friend is not alone, however, because most heterosexuals, even those who say they have no problem with homosexuals, were offended. I've already accused Lynne and Dick of being hypocrites about the matter. They're also quite sly, too. Tap into the latent homophobia that most heterosexuals have and divert their attention from real issues. It works well, and I have a very personal example of it.
I was angry at my friend, but now I'm really just tired, and yes, a bit bitter. Tired, because I really don't feel like wasting the time it will take to try to get my friend to think, to read information she wouldn't go out to find on her own, to see other points of view, to make an informed decision about whether she can really trust Bush more than Kerry. Bitter, because if my friend hadn't let her intentions slip, she would have gone on to vote for a man who uses oppression of people who are her friends as a way to retain power. This is not an apt comparision (at least I hope it's not), but I feel like a Jew in Germany in 1932 whose Christian neighbors held their noses about Hitler's anti-Semitism because they liked the feeling of security and national pride he brought them. Ironicially in 2004 I think I'd rather live in Germany than the United States.
Today was a pretty gay day for me. I was part of a queer panel for a psychology class at Wright State, and I attended a presentation at UD called "Gay and Straight, Our Common Ground" by renowned gay Catholic Brian McNaught. The panel was organized by the Rainbow Alliance (formerly Lambda Union -- I'd point you to a web site, but they don't have one, an issue I'll speak more about in just a minute). I don't go to many Rainbow Alliance meetings, in large part because I'm older than many of the members, but I'm on the mailing list and I wanted to do this panel. It was rather serendipitous that the panel and the McNaught presentation were on the same day since they stirred some of the same thoughts for me.
Part of the serendipity of today was that if a couple of things had been different I might not have gone to hear McNaught. I'm not Catholic and I've always sort of thought of McNaught's message as being more for Catholics. I knew some of his story, and left to my own devices, I would have thought it was good that he was speaking at UD, but it wasn't really for me. However, Juli Burnell, the woman who worked so hard to arrange McNaught's visit, not only for tonight's presentation but also for his workshops with UD faculty and administration, is a friend of mine from Cross Creek. Seeing her excitement about the event I wanted to go if only to support her. In addition, as it happens this quarter, I'm on campus at UD every Tuesday and Thursday evening for my GER361 class. How could I not go?
I'd seen a video of McNaught's years ago. Speaking of being older than most Rainbow Alliance members, I guess today is in some part also a day for me to feel old. His video was called "On Being Gay... A Conversation with Brian McNaught," which, when I looked it up on imdb.com, I was surprised to remember was from 1986, 18 years ago, and longer than I've been out. He also had a book with a similar title, On Being Gay: Thoughts on Family, Faith, and Love, which I also read years ago. The thing I remembered most about the book, however, (if McNaught ever googles himself and sees this, I'm in trouble) was thinking that he was cute. He's still not bad looking, but he no longer matches the picture I've always had in my mind of him.
McNaught is a very powerful speaker, more so than I remembered or could tell from a video, and what makes him so powerful is his ability to express things in ways to which so many people can relate. Part of what he spoke today of was the importance of "singing our song." He said that he thinks that after he dies, God is going to ask him whether he sang the song he was taught, and that each of us has a unique song to sing, songs that tell who we are and let people get to know us. As McNaught pointed out in his speech, his audience was made up of all sorts of different people, including openly gay people from the greater Dayton community, including PFLAG members whose meeting this month was to come to this presentation, including UD students and faculty who heard about the event and wanted to come and including students of Greek 101 who were required to come (I'm impressed that Juli pulled that off).
I think McNaught's words were aimed primarily at the non-gay students in the audience, perhaps especially frat boys who are stereotyped as being unfriendly to gay people, to try to get them to understand what it would be like growing up gay and being unable to sing one's song and to get these non-gay people to understand how their own words and actions are songs that send messages to the gay friends they most certainly and usually unknowingly have. However, McNaught's words were also aimed at gay people in the audience to remind us how important singing our songs is both for straight people who think they don't know anyone gay and for gay people who are following us out of the closet.
I felt good because I've been singing my song, even though at times it's tempting just to let others sing. I arrived at Wright State this morning half an hour before the PSY200 class the panel was for was supposed to begin, only to find no convenient parking and tempted after 15 minutes of stalking to just go home. I went ahead and drove to the other side of campus, parked in lot 4 and made it to the classroom with a few minutes to spare, only to be asked, "Oh, are you in this class?" "No, I agreed to be on the panel; don't you remember?" As it turned out, they needed more men, so I stayed, and I'm glad I did. Students in that class needed to hear that although I am gay, I'm also Christian and that there are churches including mine that not only oppose Issue 1 but also support same sex marriage. A female African American student in the class responded emotionally to a panelist's comments about the civil rights movement by pointing out that she can never shed her black skin if she decides one day she's tired of dealing with discrimination or worst case wants to avoid anti-black violence but that gay people can simply deny being gay. Perhaps another panelist might have said something equally appropriate had I not been there, but I was glad to be able to tell her that she was right, that black people face oppression every day and cannot get away from it but that black people also are usually born into black families that love and accept them and help them to deal with the ugliness they encounter while gay kids are usually born to straight parents to whom they cannot turn for support when they first are called fag or dyke (a point that McNaught also brought up tonight).
There was something about which I thought briefly as I left that classroom that hit me more as I sat in UD's Kennedy Union later listening to McNaught, and that is how lucky I am that I'm in a place where I can sing my song. (Of course I wasn't thinking in terms of that metaphor earlier in the day at Wright State, but I like how McNaught uses it.) Taking a GER361 class now is not the first time I've been a student at UD. Exactly 20 years ago this fall I was a freshman at UD, attending courtesy of a full scholarship and feeling extremely lonely in the midst of a big crowd. I'd spent the past four years trying my damnedest to appear straight in high school, trying to date girls, even attending prom, being told that these years were the best years of my life, and failing really to fool anyone but myself. Yet I didn't know anyone who was gay, or at least I didn't know anyone who was honest about being gay, and there I was at UD, facing the prospect of four more years of the same thing. The guys on my floor in Stuart Hall were grabbing each other and pretending to butt fuck each other and calling each other fag, and to borrow McNaught's terminlogy, I wasn't liking the songs I was hearing. I dropped out and spent several more years feeling sorry for myself before I finally got to the point where I just had to come out, which I did at age 25.
Look how much things have changed, despite so many things also not having changed. The Catholic Church still teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin (and accordingly endorses Issue 1), but the University of Dayton now has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and has at least a few openly-lesbian and openly-gay staff members. Perhaps there are still guys in the dorms acting out their homophobic feelings by grabbing each other and pretending to butt fuck, showing through their nervous humor that they of course are not gay, but now prospective frat boys at least have to hear a gay man explain to them the effects of their behavior. I'm sure there are still freshmen at UD who think they will never be able to come out and be honest about who they are, but at least now they know there are gay and gay-friendly people on campus, including Student Allies, a gay/straight student alliance.
I suppose I should be jealous that Brian McNaught wasn't at UD to speak when I was a student there or that I should regret not having been smart enough to have come out then anyway, but I'm not and I don't. I've had a great time being in college this time around, at Wright State, not only saying things I wouldn't have said back then but also taking classes I wouldn't have taken back then. It's never too late to sing your song.
Now if I were a better person than I am, I'd end this posting on that idyllic note, but I'm not perfect and life does have some nitpicky frustrations, such as parking, as I noted above. Another frustration, also noted above, is that the Rainbow Alliance does not have a web site. It's great that Wright State, like UD, has a gay student group, but how do gay students find out about such groups? How do any students get information about anything these days? They google it. If I were 17 and picking colleges again, even if, or especially if, I were closeted, I'd want to know what gay groups were at the colleges. During the PSY200 panel today a student asked if the Rainbow Alliance had a web site, only to be told, "Um, no, we changed our name and therefore we don't have a web site." Stupid, stupid, stupid! Google "Wright State gay group" and you'll find the stale site for Lambda Union, the Rainbow Alliance's predecessor. There is a web site, it still exists, and they haven't bothered to even update the web site to say that there's a new name. To me not having done even that seems extremely bureaucratic.
However, as it turns out, I should cut the Rainbow Alliance some slack, not that they shouldn't update their stupid web site, but because it seems to be the nature of many nonprofit web sites to be rather stale and infrequently updated. The only event on UD's Student Allies' online calendar is a meeting from last January, no mention even of tonight's presentation by McNaught. The site for Sinclair's group is still under construction. And the site for my church, Cross Creek, still touts last month's Eyes Wide Open exhibit (by the way, another friend of mine, Bill Meers, has a simple but eloquent site documenting that event). So it's best to remember that these groups, including Rainbow Alliance, do good things such as today's panel, and nitpicky issues such as their web sites are relatively minor.
Today I read a report on Queer Day that Ohio's two senators, both Republicans, oppose Ohio Issue 1. Not that they don't believe marriage shouldn't be restricted to opposite sex couples, but, amazingly, they think the proposed amendment to our state's constitution goes too far.
I'd been thinking for a while now about writing something about this issue. The other day a guy who's been in a couple of my classes, a nice guy who knows that I'm gay, told me that he thought marriage by definition could be only between a man and a woman. I told him that my church disagreed and asked whether he would vote for an amendment that would deny me rights. He didn't have an answer. Perhaps that means he's going to vote for Issue 1 anyway but couldn't say so to my face. Perhaps that means he's going to think about it.
Also this week I've received a few mass mailings from the Human Rights Campaign, encouraging me to talk to people about the difference between Kerry and Bush when it comes to LGBT rights. That's important too, and compared to Bush, Kerry is wonderful on gay rights, but even Kerry originally said he was for state level amendments such as the one passed earlier this year in Missouri. This is one issue on which Kerry really has flip flopped, later saying that he opposes Missouri's amendment because it not only banned gay marriage but also banned civil unions. I realize in the grand scheme of things that there are issues more important than gay rights, but it's depressing that a presidential candidate can be so ill-informed. Ohio Issue 1, like the amendment passed in Missouri, would ban civil unions, and if Kerry could be ignorant of that fact, millions of much less politically aware heterosexual Ohio voters could be too.
So today I've done it. I wrote an e-mail and sent it to my family, neighbor, professors, and friends. You can read it below.
Now it's your turn. If you live in Ohio or if you know people who live in Ohio, you need to talk about Ohio Issue 1. Even people who feel compelled to vote for Bush should be forced to think about whether they really want to vote for Issue 1. No one should be able to go to the polls on November 2nd without thinking about a gay person they know or at least a person they know who cares about gay people.
This New Yorker cartoon is funny
but the issue is serious.
From: David Lauri
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2004 11:34 AM
Subject: Please take a few minutes to read my thoughts on Ohio Issue 1
I know that many people find discussions of politics distasteful, and that friends and families often avoid talking about political issues for the sake of keeping peace. While that is understandable, I'm violating that practice with this e-mail because I believe it is important that each of you consider Ohio Issue 1 not as some abstract question but as real policy that affects people you know. Each of you receiving this e-mail probably knows many people who will be affected, but you all know at least one such person, namely me.
In case you're not already aware, Issue 1 would amend our state constitution to restrict marriages in our state to "union[s] between one man and one woman." In addition it would ban any "legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."
That first sentence may seem a no-brainer to you. However, have you considered the significance of the second sentence?
Many people, including Ohio's two Republican senators, think that the second part of the amendment would not only ban civil unions but would also ban things such as health benefits offered by state and local governments for same sex partners. Both Senator DeWine and Senator Voinovich said yesterday that they oppose Issue 1 because they think the proposed amendment should not contain this second clause.
Realize then that if you vote yes for Issue 1, you are not only voting to ban same sex marriage but that you are also voting to take away medical insurance coverage for same sex partners of students and employees of state institutions such as Wright State. Do you really think that such benefits harm you or your families? Is taking away such benefits so important that you want to put it in our constitution?
I also want to ask you to consider whether Ohio should ban civil unions. A great deal of the debate on the issue of gay marriage has centered around the word "marriage." Many people believe that marriage by definition is between a man and a woman and that the term "gay marriage" is an oxymoron. I don't agree, but I can understand the basis of that argument.
Yet just because you believe the word "marriage" should not be redefined does not necessarily mean that you must be against equal treatment of same sex couples. You may think that two men living together is a sin, but do you really think it necessary to deny them the right to visit each other in hospitals or nursing homes? You may disapprove of two women having spent their lives together, but do you really think it's necessary to prevent one of them from making decisions about funeral arrangements for the other?
Civil unions are the answer that Vermont chose in order to grant its gay and lesbian citizens some protections while retaining the traditional definition of marriage. California has similar provisions that fall under the term domestic partnership. Do you really think that civil unions or domestic partnerships harm you or your families?
Realize that if you vote yes for Issue 1, you're not just saying that you believe in a traditional definition of marriage, but you are also voting to deny any protections whatsoever to same sex couples.
Lastly, I have to ask you, what possible good do you think this amendment will do?
Do you think Issue 1 will make gay people realize the errors of our ways and convert to heterosexuality? Well whether you approve of my "lifestyle" or not, I'm sure you will believe me when I say that I will not be marrying a woman, no matter how the voters of Ohio constitutionally define marriage.
Do you think Issue 1 will strengthen the institution of marriage? Do you seriously think that straight people will stop getting divorced because of Issue 1? Even if you believe that heterosexual marriage is the pillar of our society, do you really think that Issue 1 will cause more straight people to take marriage seriously? How does preventing me from legally marrying a man keep Britney Spears from entering frivolously into marriage?
Do you need Issue 1 in order to live your life righteously? In other words, are you going to become homosexual if Issue 1 does not pass? Are you going to divorce your wife or your husband if Issue 1 does not pass? Does your relationship with God depend on denying me rights?
Think about these questions and the concerns I've raised. If you've taken the time to read this far, Issue 1 is no longer abstract for you. Even if you still intend to vote yes on Issue 1, you can no longer do so without thinking of me.
And if you intend to vote no on Issue 1, think about talking to your other friends and relatives about this issue. Make this issue personal for them too. Tell them that you have a gay son, a gay brother, a gay nephew, a gay neighbor, a gay student, a gay friend, and that therefore Issue 1 affects you personally too.
Proving that there are indeed gay people everywhere is the group Log Cabin Republicans, gay men and lesbians whose admiration for the likes of Ronald Reagan persuades them to set aside their distaste for things such as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment because they believe that core Republican values are more important than any single issue. However, I read that even they are uncomfortable about endorsing President Bush (not that they're about to endorse Kerry instead). As far as I can tell as of today, they haven't made their decision.
Do Log Cabin Republicans think that Bush worries about not getting their endorsement? Perhaps it's more likely that he worries about actually getting it. In an article released today Bob Knight, from the Culture and Family Institute, writes that "LCR is just part of the radical, leftist crusade to transform America into Sextopia" and that "It's time for the Republican Party to realize its mistake in giving Log Cabin any official recognition." It seems to me that if those
dirty left wing cocksuckers fine young gay Republicans do actually endorse Bush, the president will have to decline their endorsement to save face with a more important wing of his party.
I can appreciate that Log Cabin Republicans "work within the[ir] party for change." I just wonder if they appreciate that their voting for Bush will likely result in laws and Supreme Court justices who meet the approval of Bob Knight and Concerned Women for America.
Bush tells the truth for once
I'm still not going to vote for him, but I have to give President Bush credit for finally telling the truth once. Before signing next year's defense appropriations law, he admitted that he and his cronies are always thinking about ways to damage this country and its citizens and are just as bad as the terrorists he claims to oppose. His exact words: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Of course the president probably didn't really mean what he said, but that's just as bad since it shows what an idiot he is. I first read about his latest poor choice of words in one of my favorite online features, Bushism of the Day, part of the web magazine Slate.com.
Fahrenheit 9/11 shows that
making faces is one skill
the president does have.
I wondered what Bush supporters might say about this column, and one thought that crossed my mind is that they'd say its author, Jacob Weisberg, was making things up. So I hopped over to another favorite site of mine, news.google.com, and typed in part of the quote. Sure enough, lots of papers verify that the president did in fact say he was as bad as the terrorists.
Is Kerry any better?
Now here's a man who does
choose his words carefully,
perhaps too carefully.
Having picked on Bush, I also want to comment on the man who will get my vote this year, John Kerry. Of course I do know that Kerry is in fact better than Bush, but somehow I can't whip up the same enthusiasm for him that many people seem to have. If you're wondering why, it's his stand on gay rights.
I take some comfort in the fact that Kerry was one of only 14 senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. Logically that makes Kerry better not only than Bush but also than Clinton, a "gay-supportive" president who signed the damned thing into law. However emotionally I can't help remembering that Clinton mentioned gay people a lot, including in his 92 and 96 convention speeches, and with Kerry we're back to being the love that dare not mention its name. Kerry did say we should "honor this nation's diversity" and that we should "never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States." Yet he seemed to have decided that saying the "g" word would be too big a risk. That doesn't leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy for him.
And when it comes right down to it, Kerry does not support equal rights for gay people. He's against amending the federal constitution, but only because he's a states righter, not because he supports gay marriage. He's completely fine with the proposed change to the Massachusetts state consitution, having said, "If the Massachusetts Legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection." He obviously doesn't care that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that separate is not equal, or at least he thinks that concept doesn't apply to gay people. He also doesn't get that giving the citizens of his home state civil unions denies them the equal protection that married couples get from the federal government.
So there you have it. I do think we need to get rid of Bush, who is at best stupid and at worst evil, but my vote in November won't really be a vote for Kerry but rather a vote against Bush. (And no, I'm not going to vote for Nader, who does support gay marriage, since I think voting for Nader would really just help Bush win re-election.)
|I read today on The Only Juan that Bob Taft, signing Ohio's DOMA into law, said that "it is important that our message be one of tolerance, free of prejudice."
Free of the prejudice that decided gay marriage is the end of civilization? One of the tolerance that decided even giving medical benefits to same sex partners of state employees is too tolerant?
It makes me wonder if Ohio's Log Cabin Republicans think they've had a success today in their goal "to remove hypocrisy and bigotry from the policies and structures of our party, our government, and our community." I'm guessing that'd be a no.
|Since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court finally issued its ruling yesterday (that gay and lesbian citizens of Massachusetts have a right to marry whom they choose), I've been rather surprised by two things. The first is the excitement in the gay community over online polls about the public's opinion on the issue. The second is the news media's short memory.
Starting shortly after the ruling was issued yesterday and continuing on throughout today, people have been coming into the Dayton 1 chat room on gay.com to urge us to vote in polls about gay marriage on web sites of papers around the country. People popped into Dayton 1 to tell us about local polls by papers in Pittsburgh and Seattle and elsewhere and national polls by CNN and USA Today. Today the Dayton Daily News had a poll and I got at least three e-mails from people urging me to go vote in it.
It's just a shame that so many people are putting so much effort into such a waste of time. These polls don't mean anything, and even if they did, they shouldn't.
First, the software used by DDN doesn't prevent multiple votes. I voted "yes" three times and in that short period there were twenty-five "no" votes cast. Somehow I don't think there happened to be twenty-five people voting no at the same time I was voting yes. More than one person, sure, but more than one person voting multiple times. When the DDN closes the poll, the only thing the poll will tell us is whether it's left wing or right wing fanatics that care more about voting in the poll.
Second, even if the poll were an accurate and scientific representation of public opinion, it doesn't matter. The rights of minorities shouldn't be subject to the whim of the majority. That's why we have federal and state constitutions, to protect inalienable rights that shouldn't be subject to revocation by the majority.
That brings me to the other things that bothered me. I read in more than one media account of the Massachusetts ruling that it was unprecedented and unique. Well, it's not. The supreme courts of both Hawaii and Alaska ruled that denying their states' gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry was unconstitutional -- Hawaii's court did so ten years ago, in 1993. The fine people of both Hawaii and Alaska then amended their state constitutions, both in 1998, to be sure that a minority was not protected from the will of the majority.
So what's the best use of the time and energy of queer people and our allies? To run around and urge each other to vote in a thousand little online polls? No.
Instead we need to give each other a little civics lesson, we need to give that civics lesson to our friends and family, and all of us and all of our friends and our relatives have to write our state and federal representatives and senators and
give them the civics lesson. And that lesson is that Americans have constitutions for a reason, to protect the rights of Americans. If we start amending our constitutions to deny rights to certain Americans, what's to stop us the next time from stripping another group of its rights.
We might also want to remind our elected officials that allowing gay people the right to marry does not harm anyone's religious freedoms. Right now any church, mosque or synagogue can refuse to marry a heterosexual couple on whatever grounds it chooses, whether it's that the groom is of the wrong religious faith or that the bride is divorced. That won't change when it comes to gay weddings. If your church thinks gay people are going to hell, fine -- don't do gay weddings. There are plenty of churches that will welcome gay couples.
If my little rant motivated you, get busy and write some letters. Here are the links to find the addresses of your Ohio state senator, your Ohio General Assembly member, U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senators. After you write some letters, if you want to go vote in some polls, have fun, but you might find writing some letters to the editor more productive.