March 1, 2013 by

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam ultrices, purus hendrerit tristique fringilla, nulla risus cursus massa, nec ornare enim sem eu enim. Pellentesque orci diam, feugiat vel cursus sit amet, vestibulum eget ipsum. Aliquam id fermentum mauris. Fusce facilisis, est vel tristique pharetra, libero ipsum porttitor ipsum, sed viverra quam diam vitae arcu. Aliquam sit amet pretium sapien. Etiam cursus erat eu tortor venenatis euismod. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Donec quis nunc lacus. Vestibulum elementum, lectus ac volutpat ultricies, quam dui imperdiet dolor, et mattis felis mauris vel nibh. Donec luctus, erat quis scelerisque suscipit, nulla ligula tempus ligula, ac vulputate tortor nulla sit amet purus. Curabitur cursus congue laoreet. Quisque hendrerit bibendum sapien, ut bibendum nisi sodales at. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean semper blandit vehicula. Sed laoreet fermentum urna, quis scelerisque turpis dictum eu. Read the rest of this entry »

preschoolers and the supreme court

March 7, 2009 by

I wasn’t able to watch yesterday’s CA Supreme Court proceedings. Like many of you, I spent the day at work with no streaming video or television broadcasts to keep me up to date.

I spent the day with young children. I spent the day with children whose home lives reflect the permeating diversity we understand to be quintessentially Californian. I spent the day with children who have working parents, lesbian moms, mixed ethnic backgrounds, and birthplaces located outside of the United States.

My morning was filled with much laughter as the three year olds I spend my days with gave mock presidential speeches. It’s a highly politicized time and even preschoolers are getting more exposure to politics as their parents fretfully tune in to the news.

The children’s presidential addresses were spontaneously created by them, as a group. It was an unusual endeavor and entertaining to witness. One particularly savvy child suggested lollipops for all people. Then they called me to the floor. I promised bikes and garden beds and schools for all children. As I concluded my stump speech the lollipop proponent reminded me I had failed to promise “friends” for all people.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I heeded his advice and promised “friends for all people”.

These three year olds are a remarkable group. I count myself among the very lucky to spend my day with such loving, aware and compassionate human beings.

These three year olds are tomorrow’s thirty year olds and at their core they understand that a loving community is an essential part of their well being.

My opposition to Proposition 8 is rooted in these same sentiments. Will my love for my same-sex partner change because the guy across the street is morally opposed to it? Absolutely not. Will a law prevent me from choosing a same-sex partner to share the joys and responsibilities of life with? Again, no.

But does it matter that hate is sanctioned by Proposition 8? Absolutely. It impacts our culture-it creates a climate that nurtures bigotry. It communicates to Californians and all of those watching that it is acceptable to discriminate against those whom are different from you. It validates the irrational notion that two loving, mature adults do not deserve to be accepted as they are and make decisions for themselves.

I spend my days with young children. I am sending them a much different message. I am teaching them to allow for and embrace the differences in their friends and their peers.

Yesterday’s addresses told me that I am being effective in my effort. It also reminded me what I’ve heard so many times-homophobia will die with the passing of a couple more generations…

The Bible and gay marriage, in three mediums

December 18, 2008 by

I’m a lesbian and a preacher’s kid—both my mother and step-father are ministers—so organized religion and biblical interpretation as relate to gay rights are subjects near and dear to my heart. Well, near anyway. In any case, I tend to listen up when that stuff gets debated on the radio and folks start regurgitating Leviticus and Romans. (As someone said in the wonderful film For the Bible Tells Me So, “There’s nothing wrong with a fifth-grade understanding of the Bible—as long as you’re in the fifth grade.”)

Anyway, I made a point of catching NPR’s Talk of the Nation segment on Monday about Proposition 8 and the Bible. It featured Lisa Miller, religion editor at Newsweek, who, as you may know, wrote the magazine’s recent cover story: “Our Mutual Joy.” (Subtitle: “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”) The December 15 cover story prompted a flood of letters from readers, print and online—thousands of letters so far. It spawned a follow-up debate between clergy and caused this Newsweek blog about the flood of letters to suspend its comment functions. Yep, churches are talking about this gay-rights business.

(There are other interesting stories on marriage equality on the Newsweek site, which you’ll see if you just click around. There are videos, slideshows, polls, and all sorts of stuff.)

If you’re more a film person, I highly recommend For the Bible Tells Me So, which I mentioned above. I recently saw it again and have decided I need to buy it for my mother and will probably insist a whole bunch of people watch it before I take it back to Blockbuster. You can see a trailer for it here and read reviews of it here.

It’s also available on Netflix, and I also hear they’ve got it down at the Lavender Library on 21st Street.

Two things

December 11, 2008 by

Ever read Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer? My former editor at SN&R, Tom Walsh, lent it to me a while back, and I later bought it and read it again. It’s a combination of some amazing history of the American West I’d never bothered to get into before, long-form investigative journalism about the Mormon Church and its fundamentalist offshoots that just blew my mind, and fascinating insights into the various problems with religious extremism and fundamentalism generally. Check it out if you’re in the market for some nonfiction.

Also, I hope you all are subscribing to e-mail blasts from Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign, Courage Campaign, Equality Action Now, and whatever other fabulous organizations people are getting into. Through their e-mails this week, I learned about a pretty messed-up ad in The New York Times, Jon Stewart’s recent Prop. 8 conversation with Mike Huckabee, and this idiot article from Pat Boone, which compares anti-Prop. 8 protesters to the terrorists who attacked Mumbai. Yeah. Really. Anyway, visit their Web sites. Sign their e-mail lists. Take advantage of the tools they’re providing to help you be involved in the fight to overturn Prop. 8.

Prop. 8: The Musical

December 7, 2008 by

You’ve likely seen it already, but just in case you missed it, here’s Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Chalke, Margaret Cho, Kathy Najimy, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, and a whole mess of other talented star-types in Prop. 8: The Musical.

Survey says

December 5, 2008 by

The Public Policy Institute of California released a new survey yesterday that further elucidates the voters who passed Proposition 8. No major surprises to my mind–except that this survey doesn’t pin the blame on blacks the way you’d expect if you’ve been reading mainstream media lately.

In case you missed it, the survey, “Californians & Their Government,” is available as a PDF. According to the PPIC’s Web site, “Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban that voters approved, drew support from evangelical Christians, Republicans, Latinos, voters without a college degree, and those aged 55 and older.”

Also see the Proposition 8 fact sheet and commentary from the CEO/president of the PPIC, Mark Baldassare.

Why churches fear gay marriage

November 25, 2008 by

On Salon today, I read Jeanne Carstensen’s brilliant interview with gay author (and devout Catholic) Richard Rodriguez about what he feels are the real issues behind the passage of Proposition 8. He discusses parallels between the modern gay rights movement and feminism, and has some great points about how the changing face of female sexuality is inexorably linked to the gay movement because they both represent a similar threat to the traditional male-led family structure.

Snip:

“The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.”

Read the story here.

The glory of YouTube

November 23, 2008 by

Just happened upon a few videos I thought I’d share — all from YouTube. These are all different reactions after the passage of Proposition 8.

First the satire:
Protest at Princeton three weeks after the passage of Proposition 8.

And then the celebrity: Guns n Roses’ Slash and Perla, encouraging people to protest Prop. 8 on November 15. And Ellen’s take on it the week of the election.

(Also, celebrity-wise, see: Lily Tomlin and Kathryn Joosten discussing Prop. 8 on The View, Dr. Phil grilling those Yes on 8 folks about the extortion letter, Ashton Kutcher on church/state on Bill Maher’s show, Cynthia Nixon talking Prop. 8 on Larry King Live, and Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels on Oprah. They’re all on YouTube.)

And the heartfelt and moving: Singer-songwriter Sam Harris’ vlog two days after the vote.

Here he is again, later, reflecting on his initial reactions and feeling somewhat hopeful about Obama’s plans for change. (The president-elect’s plans for civil rights as regards the LGBTQ community are here. And you should check them out if you haven’t already. There’s actually a hell of a lot to be hopeful about.)

history books can be good company

November 22, 2008 by

I’m going to give it to you straight; the passage of prop 8 sucked. It pissed me off. It hurt my feelings. It surprised me. And at the same time, it didn’t surprise me at all.

 

We all live with daily injustices. We all know that there are fringe religious zealots who stand on the outskirts of our Prides and our parades with hateful signs and cruel intentions. We’ve heard the derogatory epitaphs hurdled in our direction.

 

Knowing these things doesn’t make the “marriage amendment” any easier to swallow.

 

Marriage equality is so obvious to me-like it probably is to you, too.

 

I was raised in the Midwest.  I was raised to be God fearing Christian (I’m not anymore). I was raised in a community where homophobia was and is the norm.

 

Turns out, I’m queer.

 

And. I still don’t “get it”. I truly do not understand how someone can be so offended by my very private sex life, by my genuine love for people that is blind to gender-that they actively support restricting my access to the legal protections they thoughtlessly enjoy. I don’t “get” how a conservative person who claims to desire “small government” and “self-reliance” cares so much about the private lives of other people that they went to the polls in November and cast a ballot that took away their right to marry the person they love.

 

While I don’t “get it”, I am getting through it.  Here’s how:

 

The Saturday following the election my dining room turned into a Factory for Equality. A long time friend (and yes, once lover) and I spent the length of the day reading our history books, culling from the texts of speeches made by our predecessors, gems of wisdom. We read essays on peoples’ movements dating from 1766 up until today. Then we turned these little pearls of wisdom that connected our modern desire for marriage equality to the early suffrage movement, to abolition, to civil rights for African Americans, and turned them into signs.

 

We paraphrased Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in paint, on used cardboard and we carried her call for laws to be written by the people they most affect with us to a rally of more than 1,000. We quoted Langston Hughes, Howard Zinn and The American Heritage Dictionary-then we gave our signs away. We brought blank cardboard and we left it with markers in the grass, so that anyone, inspired by the events of the day, would have an immediate outlet for expressing it.

 

That day, holed up with cardboard and cans of paint, has made all the difference.

 

That day connected, in my mind, our contemporary struggle for fair and equal protection under the law to the many, many movements for justice that came before us. Our road is long, it is also well travelled. We are on the right side of justice. We are also in good company.

 

“Living in the basement of the Great Society…” Martin Luther King Jr. 1967

 

“Compelled to submit to laws, in the formation of which we had no voice.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1848

 

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” Rosa Parks

 

“The people have the power to redeem the work of fools.”  Patti Smith 1988

 

“There is nothing sacred about the law” Howard Zinn 1970

 

“What happens to a dream deferred?” Langston Hughes 1951

 

 

The good stuff

November 20, 2008 by

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since Proposition 8 passed in California.

It can be debated, of course, whether its passage was primarily a result of money, lies, fear, and politicking or the genuine intention of more than half of California’s voters to express an opinion about who’s deserving of basic civil rights. Either way, it hit me hard.

I actually called in sick November 5—a mixture of bad allergies, a sore back from being out in the cold the night before at a polling place, staying up late to watch the returns, and the sick realization that my state had just passed a law restricting my rights and pursuit of happiness.

Not to compare the passage of Proposition 8 to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, but I had some of the same emotions November 5, 2008, as I had September 12, 2001. Not the shock, per se—it’s not a big surprise to me that a minority should have a hard time making a case for itself in the face of a massive effort to scare, threaten, and manipulate voters—but definitely the anger, sadness, disappointment, and general concern about what might be coming next.

A few days after the election, I watched The Laramie Project, the film by Moisés Kaufman about the small town of Laramie, Wyoming, and its townspeople’s response to the 1998 beating and murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. I’d seen the film before, but, while watching it this time, I noticed my hackles were up, more than usual, as though a similar crime had happened very near to me and very recently.

Proposition 8 was one big hate crime. That’s how it felt to me. And it was perpetrated not just by a few errant and mean-spirited religious organizations, but also by our neighbors, colleagues, family members, and so-called friends.

So, I still feel sad, angry, and disappointed. I still feel some amount of worry. After all, the Yes on 8 folks got away with this. What might they manage next if this kind of state-sanctioned discrimination is allowed to stand? But the outcry from right-thinking people—people who get it—has been really moving, and I’ve had countless reasons to smile in these past two weeks, also. For my first blog posting for Equality Action Now, I thought I’d recap some of the things that have kept me motivated and hopeful and given me some amount of comfort since Election Day (presented in no particular order, by the way). It’s a long list, which is a good thing, I suppose. I promise shorter blog posts in the future. Keep fighting the good fight.

1. Positive Election Day experiences: OK, these were actually the day of the election, before all the returns were in, but they’re still helpful to me in mitigating the impact of the vote.

I was one of about 7,500 Election Day volunteers for the No on Prop. 8 effort (an uplifting thing in and of itself, I should say), and the conversations I had during and after my four-hour shift made a lasting impression on me.

I went with two other volunteers to a polling place in Land Park. The idea was to stand beyond the 100-foot line, pass out cards with information about Proposition 8, and encourage those who already opposed the proposition to make it past the presidential candidates all the way to the end of the ballot. After a frustrating experience early in the evening—a resident of the neighborhood stormed out of his house shouting at us, took our signs and tried to tear them up, threatened to blind my eyes (whatever that means), called the police on us, and continued to shout and glare from his front yard until they showed up—we had a series of great encounters with people we’d never met before.

The police—four cars were sent out—retrieved and returned our signs. They made sure we knew we were in the right as far as the law went and gave us their contact information in case we felt further threatened or harassed. Then a pollworker sent out fresh and very yummy chocolate chip cookies, which greatly improved standing around in the cold and dark. We had supportive and sometimes lovely conversations with the vast majority of voters who stopped to talk to us. A car drove by, and the passengers shouted out, “No on Prop. 8! Represent!”

And, most importantly, a voter who’d passed by earlier with his wife and son went home after voting, changed his clothes, and rode back on his bike to stand with us. He held a No on Prop. 8 sign for the next hour-and-a-half, and we all shared our thoughts about election issues, our families and backgrounds, our careers, and so on.

After my shift, I went to the Fox & Goose to watch the returns with some friends. After it seemed clear Proposition 8 might pass, or at least that it would be down to the wire, I had another bunch of interesting conversations with total strangers who were vowing to get involved in whatever could be done to invalidate it. I came home on Election Night crushed but sensing that a real movement might be starting. And it was.

2. Signs of a cooler White House: Though it felt like too little too late when he said it, President-elect Barack Obama included the word “gay” in his Election Night acceptance speech. As author Marc Acito wrote for NPR, “After the rhetoric of the last eight years, that was certainly a change we needed.” Obama also plans to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; expand hate crime statutes, including by passing the Matthew Shepard Act; and end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (a major factor, by the way, in my own decision not to reenlist after my five-years as a Navy journalist were up).

3. Efforts to change the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ tax status: As has been widely reported, the church was one of the largest proponents of the amendment that took my rights away. Its members made phone calls, walked precincts, produced ads, and donated millions of dollars toward the campaign. It’s unclear whether anyone can prove the church violated the law in promoting Proposition 8, but given the weight of the church on this issue, I’m all for investigating and sorting out how to keep church and state separate in the future.

4. Sportscaster, news anchor, and political commentator Keith Olbermann’s special comment for MSNBC: Olbermann’s six minutes or so on the topic of Proposition 8 were touching, reasoned, and passionate. They also reached millions of TV viewers nationwide, not to mention several hundred thousand on YouTube.

5. Local and state elected officials’ support: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed sympathy for the gay and lesbian community after the election and urged us to fight back. A few dozen California legislators (one third of the California Legislature) signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8. And legislators and mayors, including those of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and West Sacramento, have participated in countless protests, vigils, and rallies since the vote.

6. Local activists’ tirelessness! My neighbors haven’t taken down their No on Prop. 8 signs yet, and neither have I. The turnout at Sacramento’s major rallies has been amazing. And there are other kinds of events breaking it all up and keeping up the momentum: among them, the National Day Without Gay, independent/personal boycotts of the local folks who funded the proposition, blue lights in windows and on porches for support, and Sacramento’s silent all-night march. (Can I just say I love the idea of 100 silent marchers walking through Midtown late at night? And stopping to use the bathroom at Safeway, no less.) My friends are constantly sending me stuff by MySpace, Facebook, e-mail, and phone. Folks are dedicated. Committed. As event organizer Jade Baranski told News10, “We’re not going to go anywhere. … We’re your neighbors, we’re your sisters, we work for you, and we’re here and we want our rights back.”

7. Local media are paying attention: Fox40, KOVR, The Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento News & Review, Capital Public Radio, and other local media are covering it all: events, the legislative battle ahead, and whatever related issues come up. They’ve got video from rallies, photo albums, and archives of news coverage. Just one bit of advice: Don’t read the comments from readers unless you feel like a good cry or a nasty fight. Can there really be so many hateful and ignorant people? (Really, anyone who doesn’t understand parallels to the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, might want to take a look. A lot of these people sound an awful lot like the racists of a half-century ago. One comment I read the other day was from a California voter who voted no on Proposition 8 but said she’d vote yes today based on the LGBT community’s response to its passage. In other words, she didn’t mind us too much until we started speaking up for ourselves.)

8. The whole world is watching! And participating! Proposition 8 is generating news coverage and debate in national and international media. Friends in foreign countries are sending e-mails of support and encouragement. And last weekend, rallies were scheduled for close to 300 American cities. We are not alone.

9. Petitions! OK, we don’t typically overturn election results through petitions, except maybe to get another initiative on the ballot when it’s time to do so, but it’s encouraging that almost 300,000 people have signed Courage Campaign’s petition and similar ones in only two weeks. (Courage Campaign, by the way, also presented petitions to the Mormon Church in advance of the election, which the church rejected. The video on that is worth the watch.)

10. Blogs! Bloggers—Angry Black Bitch, Your Daily Lesbian Moment, Advocate bloggers, The Huffington Post, Kel Munger for SN&R’s Snog, Broadsheet, and many others—have been all over this, offering humorous headlines and insights.

11. Creative fund-raising efforts, like the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center’s “Invalidate Prop. 8,” through which you can make a “tax-deductable donation, in the name of the president of the Mormon church, to support the legal organizations working to invalidate Proposition 8 and to fund grass-roots activities in support of full marriage equality.” With the click of a few buttons, you can donate money and have a postcard sent to the church’s president, thanking him for his support. “Invalidate Prop. 8” has raised more than $60,000 so far.

12. Thought-provoking reality checks and different perspectives on communicating with voters: Not that the basic rights of a minority group should be up to popular vote in the first place, but in case our next step is another ballot initiative—hell, even if it isn’t—we’re going to need to improve how we reach out to those outside our usual pride parades and social circles.

Institutionalized heterosexism is a fact: marriage and adoption laws, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” workplace discrimination, and so on. This is a society that highly values marriage. It’s a civil-rights issue. No two ways about it. Still, the phrases “civil rights” and “separate but equal” and the invocation of Loving v. Virginia connote different things to different people, and we could have been more thoughtful about how we used them during the election season. The phrase “Jim Crow” is being used rather freely on protest signs now, too, and that isn’t necessarily helping our cause with African-Americans.

As writer Jasmyne Cannick has argued, No on 8 activists weren’t going door to door in black neighborhoods in the same way the Yes on 8 folks were, weren’t thinking about some of the big challenges facing other minority groups, and weren’t as thoughtful as they could have been about the ways they communicated about the proposition. Bloggers have chimed in on this point, too.

And after the election, many in our community took the media’s word for it that African-American turnout was a primary factor in Proposition 8 passing (exit poll here) and let that create unneeded division and hostility.

Also on this point, sort of, a quick look at the Yes on 8 web site shows that its campaign materials were translated into 10 or more languages. I don’t believe No on 8 efforts were quite so multilingual. Lesbians and gays exist in all cultures. They are all our communities, and we need to do more to reach out to them generally.

And even though we should continue to push the point that this shouldn’t be about religion in the first place, we need to avoid condemning all people of faith, reach out to religious communities, and get liberal churches to be more vocal on our behalf.

We need to have conversations, and we need to say what should be obvious. Yes on 8 materials talked about “indoctrination of schoolchildren,” and we weren’t able to convince voters that (a) schoolchildren would not in fact be indoctrinated by anyone; (b) letting adolescents in on the fact that gay couples exist shouldn’t be a problem in the first place; and (c) passing Proposition 8 inherently teaches children that it’s OK to discriminate by popular vote and constitutional amendment. That’s just an example. We could have done a better job of nullifying the proponents’ arguments about morality, sin, legal bugaboos, and all sorts of other stuff.

13. More and more people coming out! For example, Wanda Sykes, at a rally in Nevada on November 15. She’d been vocal in the past about Proposition 8 and had included gay marriage in her standup, but the election moved her to talk about her own relationship and to work harder for equality nationwide.

14. Lots of support from straight folks, like my ex-husband, who’s been helping with this blog, running sound at rallies, holding candles at vigils, working on the Equality Action Now web site, and just generally being a great person.

15. Protest signs and buttons: My favorite buttons so far are these ones, which were being passed out at a rally at the Capitol on November 9 and show the number of years couples have been in their relationships. There’s even one that says <1, which is appropriate for me. It’s all about having some pride in ourselves and our relationships. For some recent shots of Sacramento protest signs, just do a search on Flickr.

16: There were only going to be 15, but today the California Supreme Court accepted three lawsuits to invalidate the proposition. Oral arguments could come as early as March.