What We are Fighting for… Thursday, Apr 9 2009 

In Springfield, Massachusettes, a young child, only 11 years old, committed suicide because he was bullied (called gay and made fun of for how he was dressed).  Sadly, even in Massachusettes, the first state to gain marriage rights through the courts, our children are affected by homophobia.

http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid78359.asp

Sirdeaner L. Walker said she found her son Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover dead on the second floor of their Springfield, Mass., home. She said he had endured another day of teasing from his fellow classmates.

“I just want to help some other child,” she said. “I know there are other kids being picked on, and it’s day in and day out.”

Carl played football, basketball, and was a boy scout — but that didn’t stop other kids from picking on him, his mom said. Students called him gay and made fun of him for the way he dressed.

Sirdeaner Walker said she began phoning his school repeatedly when Carl first told her about the bullying last September, but she says the school was unresponsive.

I can only imagine why the school would be “unresponsive”, but if it is anything like my community, the fear of taking a stand is overwhelming–especially when it could cost your job (in this economy, that is a huge threat).  The only way to deal with this is to make sure the teachers know we have their backs if they deal with the harrassment and bullying.  Also, to put forth through the media, positive images of families.  For your viewing pleasure, I give you: “My Two Mommies”:

Part 1

Part 2

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Iowa and Vermont: Cause for Cautious Celebration Saturday, Apr 4 2009 

Vermont’s House and Senate both passed a resolution for marriage equality, however, the governor has promised to veto that resolution.  Kind of defeats the “it should be up to the legislators” argument doesn’t it?  So if you live in Vermont, try to convince the governor that it really isn’t worth using his veto power on.  If the resolution survives, Vermont would be the first state to have marriage equality imposed by the legislature rather than by the courts.

Iowa’s Supreme Court has “all justices concur” to pave the way for marriage equality in the nation’s heartland.  My favorite part of the court ruling is thus:

“Whether expressly or impliedly, much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained — even fundamental — religious belief,” the court said, before adding that religious views are nonetheless mixed on the subject. “As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all. We are not permitted to do less and would damage our constitution immeasurably by trying to do more.”

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1889534,00.html?iid=tsmodule

  Interestingly enough, the current Iowan legislature appears satisfied to let the ruling stand (unlike California) and also has stricter requirements for amending their state constitution (unlike California).  If it were to go to the ballot, it wouldn’t be any earlier than 2012.

In the World… Wednesday, Apr 1 2009 

Congrats to Sweden for marriage equality!  Way more progressive than the USA.

http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/3/article_7278.php

Sweden approves same-sex marriages

Posted in: International Daily News
By GayNZ.com Daily News Staff – 2nd April 2009

Gender-neutral marriage legislation has been adopted in Sweden, passed by a broad majority in parliament after a sex-hour debate.

 

“The decision means that gender no longer has an impact on the ability to marry,” the government said on its website.

 

The new legislation will come into effect on Friday 1 May, replacing law approved in 1995 which allows same-sex couples to form a union in Sweden via a registered partnership.

Also, congrats to Switzerland’s newly elected lesbian mayor, Corine Mauch!

http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/3/article_7271.php

Switzerland’s second largest city has elected a lesbian mayor.

 

Zurich’s new mayor Corine Mauch, a member of the left-leaning Social Democrats, was elected by a large majority at the weekend.Her opponents had attempted to use Mauch’s sexuality against her in a heated campaign.

“Being a lesbian is an advantage, Zurich has a large gay community and the city people generally want to show you that they are open minded,” one Swiss academic opined, according to PinkNews.co.uk.

 

mayor.jpg

Marriage Equality Vs. Unhappy Exes Tuesday, Mar 10 2009 

  I have been reading many different articles where people have left comments about how they “would have voted for gays until their spouse decided to leave them to become gay”.  I would have thought them utterly without merit until I actually spoke to a real live co-worker who had the same feeling (talk about shock!)  So for all of you who were hurt by an unsuccessful marriage because your partner “came out” late in life, I would put forth to you that such unhappy endings would occur less often if same sex couples could marry and have/adopt children with minimal difficulty.  For example, an ex-gf of mine told me that she had to break up with me because she “had to get married and have kids” and THEN she “could go back to women”.  Yes, I attended her wedding followed by a divorce a few years later because she was only trying to make her family happy to begin with and that never works out well.

   I realize that some of these exes may not prize monogamy, but then not all heterosexuals are capable of sustaining a healthy marriage either.  Would you punish all of us because one person did you wrong?

   While California is dragging its heels, Vermont seems ready to put marriage equality to their legislature and–guess what–the Mormons aren’t winning Vermont. 

http://lezgetreal.com/?p=5142

A new Rutland Herald editorial for 8 March even asked these questions: “Have eight years of civil unions in Vermont harmed you or your state? Have civil unions harmed the marriages of heterosexual Vermonters in any way?” The answer, of course, it no. Vermont has not been harmed by having civil unions, and heterosexual marriage has not completely collapsed while it is in existence.

The battle for marriage equality in Vermont is beginning to look one sided. The Vermont Health and Human Services Professionals released a statement concerning the impact of sexual orientation on any children of a same-sex couple. Not surprising, they found that having two parents of the same sex had no impact on children. In fact, they stated that there was no scientific evidence that being raised by two parents of the same sex had any impact on children. However, they pointed out that the discrimination endured by same-sex couples, including not having the right to a civil marriage, was detrimental to children.

—————–

  In other news, the One has shown that he really likes women *cough* by appointing a lesbian to the Office of Political Affairs.  Her experience is that of a “field organizer” (is that like a community organizer?) and a “senior strategist”, but hey, it’s not like she’s auditioning for the office of President *cough*.

http://www.southernvoice.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=24429

President Barack Obama recently appointed a lesbian to serve as a regional director in the Office of Political Affairs, according to the National Stonewall Democrats.

Campbell Spencer, the new appointee, started her role as director of the office’s Midwest desk a couple weeks ago and will act as a liaison for the region’s Democratic governors and state Democratic parties.

During the presidential campaign, Spencer was a national co-chair of Obama’s LGBT steering and policy committee. She also has worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaigns of Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. She was director of LGBT outreach and base vote director for the Democratic National Committee.

Happy National Freedom to Marry Week! Sunday, Feb 8 2009 

Seven conversations in seven days.  A pretty reasonable request considering how many times a day we had the conversations about caucus cheating, bambi, and other uncomfortable topics.  Not sure how to bring up the conversation?  Look here for conversation starters and tips: http://www.glaad.org/talkingaboutseries/

Lots of events are taking place over the upcoming week, but the most well-publicized events are the 7 Conversations in 7 Days and the Marriage Counter-Action (go to your local county clerk’s office, request a marriage license as a same sex couple, get denied, and get back in line).   http://www.freedomtomarry.org/

Prop 8 Shows Their True Colors Saturday, Feb 7 2009 

How can a group claiming to protect marriage want 18,000 couples to divorce?

Sign this letter to the California Supreme Court:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/s/divorce

Welcome a new site to the blogroll:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/

Action Alert: Uniting American Families Act Saturday, Feb 7 2009 

Did you know that even in Massachusettes, married same sex couples do not have the same immigration rights in the United States as heterosexual couples?  Rep. Jerry Nadler plans to re-introduce the Uniting American Families
Act this February:

http://www.metroweekly.com/gauge/?ak=4023

Nadler also released a statement to Metro Weekly praising Immigration Equality’s help on the hill:

”I wholeheartedly welcome the opening of Immigration Equality’s office in Washington, D.C. Immigration Equality has consistently done critical work as an advocate for LGBT rights and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together.

”This Congress, with the support and outreach of Immigration Equality and other advocacy groups, I intend to reintroduce the Uniting American Families Act, a crucial piece of civil-rights legislation which will finally allow bi-national, same-sex couples the same opportunities enjoyed by other couples to keep their families together. Working with my colleagues in Congress and with our new forward-thinking president, I am hopeful that we can finally pass this essential legislation.”

So what is our Action Alert:

http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/thread/2373221/Get+your+U.S.+Rep.+to+sponsor+%22Uniting+American+%28LGBT%29+Families+Act%22

You can make the bill a success by convincing your Representative to support the bill from Day One. Reintroducing the bill with as many cosponsors as possible will show powerful momentum for the rights of gay and lesbian binational couples of all the 50 States!

Please call your Representative and ask them to be an original cosponsor of the “Uniting American Families Act of 2009”

It’s easy!
1. Find out who your U.S. House Representative is. Go to http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/index.htm enter your address, and you will be provided the name of your U.S. Representative.

2. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask to be connected to your U.S. Representative.

3. Tell your representative’s staff:
I am calling to ask Representative ________________ to be an original cosponsor of the Uniting American Families Act of 2009. To cosponsor, he/she must contact Rep. Jerrold Nadler who is the lead sponsor.

The U.S. government discriminates against gay and lesbian binational couples by not allowing us to sponsor our foreign-born life partners for immigration. Because of this, we face the terrible choice of separating from the person we love or leaving our country. As Americans, we should not have to choose between family and country. Please ask Rep. _________________ to cosponsor the Uniting American Families Act of 2009 by reaching out to Rep. Nadler before February 12.

Thanks for asking your member of Congress to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day by cosponsoring UAFA!

This is a Bill to allow ALL binational LGBT families in U.S. to sponsor Green Card to their foreign-born partners, just like heterosexual marriages:

No State marriages in MA, CT or CA can grant foreign-born spouses’ immigration currently; newly wed same-sex wives or husbands get deported by State marriage (can never come back, leaving children in the States) and the American-born spouses automatically become convicted felon w/ 5 digits fine$ on a base of ‘lying to Homeland Security’, if the foreign-born spouses were here on a non-resident Visa (i.e. student etc).

This bill opens up family based Visa sponsorship from ‘only heterosexual families’ to All 50 States’ LGBT Families overnight regardless of their current State laws (extends to no state same-sex couple recognition, state Civil Union, etc) so that they don’t have to choose between family and country.

Already there are many original co-sponsors of the bill from the past decade, but for the first time, we have a real chance to pass it during 2009 U.S. House session if we lobby.

For more information on the Uniting American Families Act, look here:

http://www.hrc.org/laws_and_elections/6985.htm

Democrats Want to “Wait” on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Wednesday, Jan 14 2009 

  Upon initial viewing of the CNN clip, I thought, “wonderful”–until I remembered that it was CNN and was probably not feeding me accurate information, but rather soundbytes.  Sadly, I was right.  Mr. Gibbs, an Obama spokesman, expanded on his statement,

Gibbs on Wednesday expanded on his answer, saying, ”There are many challenges facing our nation now and the president-elect is focused first and foremost on jump-starting this economy. So not everything will get done in the beginning. But he’s committed to following through with his commitment.”   http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/01/14/2009-01-14_obama_committed_to_ending_of_dont_ask_do.html

  What exactly gives Mr. Gibbs the right to tell us that the economy is more important than equal rights?  First of all, any economic improvements will take years to take effect, whereas a simple law change enacted by Congress would quickly make us equal citizens under the law.  Mr. Gibbs also points out that we shouldn’t expect Obama to do this–legislation is Congress’ purview.  Funny, I thought we had a DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS.  Sorry, Mr. Gibbs, your excuses don’t fly.  Either the Democratic Party puts its money where its mouth is, or it doesn’t–but they have no one else to blame.

   People across the country are committed to fighting for Equal Rights.  Join the Impact hosted a National DOMA protest at locations all across the country.  Even in Massachusettes, the only state where marriage is legal, gays and lesbians continue to be second class citizens as a result of DOMA.  In Massachusettes, Chris Mason states that gays and lesbians have ONE FOURTH the rights provided in a heterosexual marriage just because of federal laws such as DOMA.  People don’t like being treated as second class citizens, and we’re not going to continue to wait just so we can be used as a WEDGE ISSUE.  If we can rid our country of the bonds of slavery and racism (in the 60s: I’m not referring to our multi-national President Elect), we can rid it of homophobia and sexism as well.

Ruth and Naomi: A Family Unprotected by Proposition H8 Wednesday, Dec 24 2008 

Do not press me to abandon you,

To turn back from following you.

Wherever you go, I shall go.

And wherever you find rest, so shall I.

Your people shall be my people,

And your G-d shall be my G-d.

Where you die, I shall die,

And there I shall be buried.

Thus may Adonai do to me,

And thus may Adonai add

If even death will separate me from you.

(Ruth 1:16-17)

      There are those that would use a religious argument against Proposition 8, but right above you, you have an example directly from the Book of Ruth (English translation of course) where Ruth pledges a lifelong commitment to Naomi.  Lesbian midrash views Ruth’s declaration as the love of two women who overcome differing faiths and differing generations to spend their lives together.

“A Jewish lesbian midrash on Ruth requires that we read between the lines of the text and imagine Ruth’s words as a manifestation of her sexual desire for Naomi.” (Alpert, Like Bread on the Seder Plate)

     While many people view religious texts as written in stone, they forget that for centuries, Rabbis and scholars have interpreted the intent of the words in those religious texts and have certainly not agreed on everything.  Many words are open to interpretation, and sadly, many of those interpretations have been used to fuel hate against gays and lesbians.  Many of these interpretations have also been used to hold back women from becoming Rabbis…when the very first female “Rabbi” has been viewed to be Sarah, Abraham’s wife, or Miriam, Moses’ sister.

      Rebecca Alpert, a lesbian Rabbi, does a fine job of explaining the lesbian midrash, especially of the so-called “troubling texts” in the Torah in her book, “Like Bread on the Seder Plate.”  To give a taste of what is in her book– as I believe that it is worthwhile reading for everyone, not just Jews, who have concerns about “the Old Testament” or the Torah’s views on homosexuality–she goes into detail on the prohibition read on Yom Kippur from Leviticus, which has been interpreted from the Hebrew by many to state, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination” Leviticus 18:22.

“Perhaps the text is suggesting that any heterosexual man who wants to experiment sexually with ‘lying with a man’ should consider that such a ‘fling’ might be hurtful to his current partner and should therefore refrain from this action.  Another contemporary commentator, Yehuda ben Ari, focuses his comments on the phrase “as with a woman” suggesting that the text is only trying to tell us not to make love to a male as if he were a female-that is to say, gay love and straight love are indeed different.  One should not be confused with the other, because the acts do not evoke the same feelings or fulfill the same commandments.”

      She goes into depth about the interpretation of the word ‘to’evah’ which has been interpreted to mean ‘abomination’.  Again, I have provided only a snippet:

“Biblical criticism can explain why homosexual acts were considered to’evah (abomination) from a different perspective, by examining parallel linguistic uses of the word.  ‘To’evah’ may be a technical term used to refer to a forbidden idolatrous act.  From this linguistic understanding it is possible to conclude that the references in Leviticus are specific to cultic practices of homosexuality and not to sexual relationships as we know them today.  This explanation is supported by reference to the other uses of the term ‘to’evah’, which often refers to ritual violations.”

      I am very thankful to be a member of a Reconstructionist synagogue, which prefers the interpretation that monogamy is far more important and sacred than heterosexuality.  Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism both will perform same sex marriages for just this reason.

      Last I checked, America is about separation of church and state, which is something Proposition 8 violates.

      For those who are interested in this amazing book, http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Seder-Plate-Rebecca-Alpert/dp/0231096615/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1230169918&sr=8-1

Chanukah: A Time of Civil Rights Sunday, Dec 21 2008 

  This holiday season, as part of the celebration of Chanukah, Jews tell the story of the Maccabees.  However, we often leave out the fact that some Jews wanted to assimilate and give up their freedom.  Chanukah was a story about civil war just as much as it was a fight against oppressive tyrants.

There are really two Hanukkah stories — the one we tell our children, and the one they eventually learn. It’s true that Hanukkah is a celebration of the Jewish people’s victory over Syrian-Hellenist oppressors forcing them to assimilate around 168 B.C. The popular hero of the story, Judah Maccabee, hid in the hills for four years with a small band of brothers and fellow Jews to emerge victorious against a far larger Syrian army. The Jews reclaimed their holy Temple, then lit their eternal flame with a tiny spot of olive oil that they believed was enough for just one day. The oil burned, miraculously, for eight days, hence the eight-day holiday. What is often lost in the retelling is that Hanukkah is also a story of civil war. Many Jews wanted to assimilate and much Jewish blood was shed by fellow Jews. If nothing else, this back story helps us more clearly understand the sacrifices made.

  The story of Chanukah gives us hope in these dark times of oppression.  On the side of the Syrians, we have the Religious Right.  On the side of Assimilation, we have the Obots.  Above all, on the side of the Maccabees, we have the PUMAs.  We are the ones who won’t take it anymore.  We won’t accept the “selected” President-elect.  We won’t accept misogyny in any form.  We won’t accept being 2nd class citizens.  The PUMAs, like the Maccabees, are the ones who will be seen as heroes for fighting for what we believe in several centuries down the road.

  Chanukah is a time for “miracles”.  However, the real lesson behind Chanukah is that to get a miracle, you have to be willing to take a stand. 

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