After NBA player Jason Collins came out this week, there was a flood of support for his courageous move. Everyone from his family members to President Barack Obama and the First Lady publicly showed their support.
Of course there were the detractors as there always are, but they were most definitely in the minority. Breitbart blogger Ben Shapiro showed his bigotry by claiming it was no big deal that Collins came out. Shapiro found himself on the same side as the Westboro Baptist Church when they announced they’d picket his games.
And right on cue, a church in Wisconsin has shown their true (intolerant and ignorant) colors. Former Green Bay Packers safety Leroy Butler was scheduled to speak at a Wisconsin area church, but when that church found out he tweeted four words this week “Congrats to Jason Collins,” they cancelled his appearance.
Butler took to Twitter to tell the story.
“Wow, I was schedule to speak at a church in WI, and a member said that the pastor wants to cancel my event, I said ok why?”
“Then I was told, because I said congrats to Jason Collins on twitter, I said really? we have a contract, he said check the moral clause,
“FYI the fee was 8500$, then I was told if I removed the tweet, and apologize and ask god forgiveness, I can have the even, I said no,
“Only god can judge,”
I’ve always heard that the three most stressful things in a person’s life are moving, depression and planning a wedding. I’ve dealt with the other two, but this is my first wedding. I can happily say that overall, it’s been a very happy event. A few minor disagreements here and there, but overall it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Except for one little thing.
We all know stories and maybe even have friends who’ve experienced direct discrimination when it comes to wedding planning. A good friend of ours just dealt with someone on Etsy who refused to make a guestbook for them because Jesus didn’t want her to or something. And then there’s the story of the Washington florist. A gay man went to her regularly, spending lots of money and developing a nice relationship with this florist – all of a sudden, when it came time for the man’s wedding – the woman could no longer take his money. Having zero to do with marriage equality of course, and everything to do with that state’s anti-discrimination laws, the woman is now being sued by the state for violating those laws.
Those are huge infractions and those business owners who choose to violate state laws banning discrimination against gay people should absolutely be held accountable for breaking those laws. But then there are the seemingly little things.
With nearly every vendor we’ve dealt with (with the exception of the caterer who is located in Provincetown and services more gay weddings than straight) has asked us “who’s the bride” at one point or another. It’s an understandable question as I realize that gay weddings are a relatively new phenomenon. But it’s nonetheless a constant reminder of the fact that we’re still not “normal.”
Luckily, we haven’t run into any outright bigotry with any of our wedding vendors – so we feel very fortunate. But every time I see a form, or am asked for the name of my soon-to-be wife, it’s another conversation I have to have. But instead of feeling that shame I spent much of my 20s trying to get rid of, I take it to the next step and ask to speak to a manager. Or I simply make a formal request for that company to change the form and educate their employees.
From the time I was a little kid – every movie I saw, every book I read, every TV show I watched – featured straight couples, causing me to think there was something wrong with me. If by asking a company to correct a form or change their phrasing to “what’s the name of the other party?” or “what is your fiancé’s name?”, I can help stop someone from recalling those unfortunate feelings of inadequacy, I’m happy to do it.
At the end of the day, we’re in a very exciting time – it means more work for us – more calling out of the things that make us feel less than, and most importantly, more patience and assumption of good intent.
The guy who works at Men’s Wearhouse who asks me the bride’s name isn’t intentionally trying to make me feel bad that I’m not straight. But if I take a moment to calmly tell him that there’s no bride, but I’m happy to tell him the other groom’s name, he may stumble and feel awkward for a moment – but I bet he’ll think twice next time he makes that assumption.
Look, it sometimes sucks to have to be the ones who forge new territory, but at the end of the day we have an awesome opportunity to make the next generation of LGBT people feel more comfortable through some really easy conversations. Speak out when someone says one of those things that makes you feel less than. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to change their form so that it’s inclusive of you and your family.
Again, most often, there’s no ill-intent, just a lack of education or experience. It’s up to us to make it easier for the next generation.
When it comes to marriage, one of the final arguments of the anti-gay movement is “Why not civil unions?”
This week, Roger Gorley was visiting his husband’s bedside at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. When the ill man’s family demanded Roger be ejected from the room, Roger refused. He and his husband took part in a civil union ceremony 5 years ago and they also holds Power of Attorney for one another.
When the nurse was informed of this, she didn’t even bother going to look for the paperwork, she merely called security and had Roger removed from his partner’s bedside in handcuffs. Furthermore, the hospital has now taken out a restraining order keeping him from visiting his husband in the hospital.
The hospital released a statement which insinuates Roger was somehow putting people in danger or perhaps even reacting violently to being asked to leave his husband’s room.
“We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process. And, the patient’s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”
In 2010 President Obama mandated that any hospital that receives federal funding such as Medicare or Medicaid must allow visitation privileges for same-sex partners.
The fact of the matter is that not everyone knows what “civil union” means and this story is not isolated. For every story like this which makes it to the news, there are a dozen more for gay and lesbian couples who don’t have the resources to get their story out there. And in most states, if a story like that were to get out – someone could lose their job or be evicted from their home for being gay.
I live in Washington D.C. and I’m getting married in a month. If Sean were in the hospital and someone in his family were to try to make me leave, you can bet they’d have to arrest me too.
I got to go to the Macklemore concert on Friday night. If you want to hear about how that went, ask me, seriously, I want to talk about it until I die. The whole thing was great; but the best part was when Macklemore sang “Same Love.” Augustana’s gym was filled to the ceiling with 5,000 people, mostly aged 18-25, and decked out in thrift store gear (American flag bro-tanks, neon Nikes, MC Hammer pants.
After spending the past two days organizing and helping run the stage at the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court, doing about a dozen radio interviews and holding my soon-to-be husband’s hand while Edie Windsor walked down the court steps, I’m tired.
Yesterday after the rally, Sean and I walked to the anti-gay rally and were surprised to find a remarkably tiny crowd and horrifically boring rally. The only fireworks were from a 15 year old gay activist being bullied by some adults in the crowd. I was able to take a few photos of the scant crowd before leaving (or being bored to tears). Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage claimed 15,000 people attended the rally and NOM President Brian Brown claimed over 10,000. Of course, the pictures show otherwise and the Capitol Police count (you know – the people in charge of counting crowds) claimed between 1,500 and 2,000.
And then there’s science. You may have notice 1 or 2 or 1,000 of your Facebook friends have changed their profile photo to a red equal sign or some version of it. According to SpotCo’s media team:
-The photo was shared over 77,000 times just from the organization’s Facebook page directly.
-Number of profile photo changes to HRC logo estimated in the over 1 million.
-Big Brands jump on board to support. (Madonna, Beyonce, Martha Stewart Bud Light, among others…).
-People from 26 other countries chimed in for support – Japan being at the top of the list.
-Photo remixes estimated over 3,000 just yesterday
I spend my days working for the New Organizing Institute. I work with some pretty awesome people and I can be myself uncensored in the workplace. At NOI, we teach people about something called “Engagement Organizing.” And no, it has nothing to do with getting a ring on your finger or helping you sort your closet.
We teach people about how to get involved and stay involved in progressive organizing – fighting for the things you believe in. It truly could not be a cooler job.
One of the most important things we teach is that you have to take breaks and find ways to rest now and then as spending every day doing something you’re passionate about can wear a person out. A lot of people have jobs they can leave at the office – but when your job is fighting for equality and teaching people to do the same, it’s a 24 hour thing.
I’ve been tired as of late and just at the right time tonight, I got a little inspiration. I want to share with you a note I got on Facebook that took me by surprise and is just what I needed to move me to the next steps I need to get to. We don’t always see when we’re making a difference when we fight, but know for every letter like this, there are a hundred more that haven’t been written.
10 years ago, I was producing my very first benefit concert, barely involved in the LGBT movement, but doing what I could when I could.
Thanks my friend, for pushing me to the next mountain to climb.
I keep seeing your name pop up recently, and I couldn’t help but PM you.
You probably do not remember me… but I wanted to let you know that you saved teenage-me’s life many years ago.
Long story short, I had been going through a rough time while figuring out that I am queer. A friend of mine had been gunned down for being assumedly gay and I had been considering ending my own life out of fear of having the same outcome.
Your words had somehow convinced me that life does indeed get better, even for gay kids. That I would make it out ok and grow to love myself.
Here I am, nearly ten years after you saved my life. I have a college degree, about to accept a full time position working with special needs young adults, and an incredibly supportive partner of nearly four years. We live together with our insane little cat-child in a small town near very accepting Philadelphia.
I’m a very active voice for lgbtq rights in my community. I proudly perform with the local Freedom Band, and marched openly for the President in January with my partner and 250 proud musicians from all over the place. It was unbelievable, and something I would’ve never expected to happen to me.
In hopes that I can be a voice for that struggling teenaged-me amongst our youth that you inspired so many years ago.
I thank you dearly for your kind words and encouragement, and your fearlessness.
Here’s one for the books…
A Roman Catholic father in Maryland has asked his lawyer, Paul C. Sullivan to pen one of the most horrific pieces of undeniable bigotry I have seen in recent years.
Ed and Kelly were married, had two children and then divorced (as has been known to happen). Kelly was awarded custody of the children with visitation from Ed. Since then, it seems Kelly has become friends with a gay man – Chris. Kelly has since re-married and she sometimes asks Chris to babysit her kids (as has been known to happen).
Apparently, that’s not okay with Ultra-Catholic Ed. The following letter was sent to Kelly with regards to her parenting. In it, Paul Sullivan engages in a homophobic tirade ignorantly linking being gay to being a child predator, claiming that by having a gay person around the house, Kelly is “encouraging a homosexual lifestyle” and threatens investigations and custody trials should Kelly not reverse the child’s dangerous course.
Additionally, the lawyer and father have been in communication with the Sheriff, the county commissioners, the vice principal and the guidance counselor of the middle school Kelly’s son attends.
Kelly’s friend Chris has no record of being a child predator or really any criminal record whatsoever, but the lawyer’s letter also threatens to pursue criminal proceedings against him – merely for babysitting Kelly’s son.
Some further research and a conversation with Kelly has brought some more information to light. It turns out Ed has released some videos about his wife, “The Drug Slut,” and it turns out their son’s behavior problems include getting detention for talking in class and simply not wanting to participate in the extreme dogma his father tries to force upon him.
Ed’s organization, Maryland’s Fathers Rights League is also known for lobbying against the Violence Against Women Act
If this were 1950, I might understand some of the homophobic and vitriolic things being claimed here by Paul Sullivan, but it’s 2013. Here is the full text of the letter followed by images (emphasis is mine).
Dear Mrs. XXXXXX
I have been retained by Mr. XXX again to address parenting issues related to your two (2) sons. As you know, there has been considerable difficulty recently related to your refusal to support and encourage the children’s Roman Catholic faith and certain biblical precepts related to lifestyle choices. It appears as if you are encouraging a homosexual lifestyle for the children and allowing your eldest, XXXX at age 13 to be placed in an environment where he could, and likely would, be exposed to a child predator.
As you know this case was previously assigned to Judge Kenneth long who is currently the administrative judge for the Washington County Circuit Court in Hagerstown. In the event you continue the destructive parenting that encourages XXXX’ exploration of decadent choices in behavior, we will have no alternative but to file to obtain sole legal custody and sole physical custody of both children. We have been in communication with Sheriff XXXX, the vice principal of XXXX Middle School, the guidance counselor at XXXX Middle School and the president of the XXXX County Commissioners, seeking their assistance and support in helping XXXX change the path which you seem to be encouraging.
It may be necessary for us to file a CINA petition, because the actions taken at his school related to detention do not seem to be having any corrective effect. This child appears to be out of control because of your refusal to co-parent with Mr. XXXX on Saturday, March 16th at 8:30 PM as ordered by the court. It is our understanding that you allowed XXXX to stay overnight at the home of a known homosexual whose probable intentions related to XXXX are suspect. Further investigation may lead to the request for criminal charges against that individual due to XXXX minority.
We’re attempting to obtain additional assistance to help XXXX abate the current course you have encouraged him to travel. You seem not to understand the eventual adverse consequences that may occur for XXXX and which could adversely affect him for a lifetime.
If, however, you would be taking the position in court that you are not encouraging XXXX in the way it is believed you are, and are in fact unable to adequately discipline XXXX or institute and enforce parental boundaries that are needed, you certainly have the option to enter into a consent decree allowing Mr. XXXX to have sole legal and sole physical custody of the children so that he will have the authority, within the bounds of law, to take the corrective action needed to safeguard the best interests of the children.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions concerning this matter. If you are agreeable to the entry of a consent order as suggested above, please call me at your earliest convenience and I will prepare it for your review and signature.
Thank you and kindest regards,
Very truly yours,
Paul C. Sullivan
It’s been a tumultuous week for the National Organization for Marriage. Last week, they released a video to advertise their anti-gay hate march in Washington D.C. – that video has now been yanked from Youtube because NOM had stolen the background music from the equality-supporting Katie Herzig.
The Lee Boys, one of their two announced acts to play at the big anti-gay hate march pulled out seconds after they were announced. Seems someone tipped them off to the fact that NOM exists solely to attack gay families.
Then a little poll came out announcing Americans were 58% in favor of marriage equality.
And upon researching their 2nd announced act, I discovered the band didn’t exist. Called “Ultramontane,” the celtic fiddle boy band was actually 3 of the 5 members of a popular ensemble known as Scythian. There was great mystery shrouded in the circumstances surrounding the split, but the band released a statement essentially saying they agreed to disagree.
Since then, an uproar from equality-loving and some gay-hating fans have caused them to delete their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The individual band members have also been approached on their personal social networking sites and while we’ve heard nothing from the band members who’ve decided to play for the anti-gay march, the two who’ve opted out are now speaking out.
Drummer Andrew Toy briefly took to his Facebook page to state his support for equality a few days ago and now his fellow equality-loving band mate has made a beautiful statement of his own:
“I’ve always made it a point to leave politics at the door when it came to Scythian, but I feel I have to go on record as saying that I am completely in support of full equality for all couples, no matter their orientation. I can only hope the Supreme Court agrees.”
It’s been a rough week for the anti-gay group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM) – actually, a really rough two days to be specific.
In an AP interview on Thursday, John Eastman, chair of NOM blasted families with adopted children and specifically the family of Chief Justice John Roberts (who has two adopted children):
“You’re looking at what is the best course societywide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option.“
Next, NOM released a commercial for their hate march happening March 26th the same day as the United for Marriage rally outside the Supreme Court. As with any anti-gay propaganda they release, it was full of lies which have been debunked dozens of times – and were debunked again by our friend Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou.org.
Then last night, NOM proudly announced the talent they’d acquired for their big gay-hate fest. Two musical groups were announced, The Lee Boys – a “sacred steel ensemble,” and an adorable celtic fiddle-playing boyband called Ultramontane.
This morning, Jeremy Hooper started reaching out. In the first few hours of the day, he discovered that Katie Herzig, the writer of the song used in NOM’s hate march video is actually a big fan of marriage equality. Additionally, NOM stole her song without permission – apparently ignoring one of the Ten Commandments. Katie is now demanding it be taken down.
Following that, it seems the Lee Boys weren’t aware that NOM was an anti-gay group and immediately upon finding out, pulled out of the rally. One band member told Jeremy “Music is about love.”
So what was up with these attractive young men and their fiddles? Jeremy had done enough great work, so I took this one on myself. After googling Ultramontane for hours, I discovered this band clearly didn’t exist. Then Jeremy swooped in again and found the photo NOM had used on another band’s website. It seems this band was known as “Scythian” just moments ago…well 4 out of 5 of them anyway.
Why would they change their name and cut that poor sweet boy with the beard out of their little fiddle club? The band had plenty of recent concert dates and upcoming ones as well, had they split up?
Upon further research, it seems they have not split up and actually only 3 of these guys will be playing for the anti-gay march. Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka and Ben-David Warner apparently have no problem aligning themselves with the hate group, while drummer Andrew Toy and Josef Crosby apparently didn’t want any part of the bigoted goings-on.
The band’s representation, Skyline Music LLC released the following statement:
“Like this country, the members of Scythian are divided on the definition of marriage, but, remaining great friends, they have the utmost respect for each other’s’ freedoms of speech and assembly.”
While of course no one can argue that when disagreeing, we should do so respectfully, I can’t help but wonder how Andrew and Josef feel about the other members of the band using their photos to help promote this hate march. Though I hadn’t heard of this group before yesterday, it’s a DC area band I would have loved to see play some time. But after this, I certainly can’t see myself supporting the livelihoods of young men aligning themselves with people who think I’m “worthy of death.”
The band has since removed this photo from their website, assumingly so they won’t be associated with the new anti-gay band “Ultramontane,” but one must wonder if the anti-gay NOM will be the Yoko Ono of Scythian. Apparently NOM isn’t happy just breaking up gay and lesbian families.
Following an announcement on Friday evening of the band’s intent about the rally (that three members were playing it and 2 were staying out), as of Monday morning their facebook page and twitter accounts have both disappeared.
Before now, none of the band members had publicly acknowledged their support of the LGBT community. But on drummer Andrew Toy‘s facebook page, he replied to one thankful commenter:
“I have always been and will always be an LGBT ally and supporter of marriage equality!”
Thank you, Andrew for your support!