Archive | Marriage Equality RSS feed for this section

Where The Wild Things Are: Family Week in Provincetown Day 3

31 Jul

The wild things were abound this morning in Bas Relief Park. The park, for those who haven’t been to Provincetown, features…wait for it…a bas relief of the pilgrims signing the Mayflower Compact. I happen to have two ancestors who were on the Mayflower who both happened to sign the compact. This makes me fancy. But I digress.

The morning activity for the smaller kids, called ‘The Littles’ featured two bouncy houses (when I was a kid we called them “Moonwalks,” what happened to that?), face painting, parachutes and a story telling from Family Equality Council Board Member and children’s book author, Tommy Starling. His book, “Bob the Ladybug” is one of those great new children’s stories that hits home the idea that it’s okay to be different – the terrifying gay agenda at it’s best.

Following that, Kidapalooza and afternoon camp activities began. While the kids played, the parents participated in “Parent Cafés.” At the cafés. parents get the opportunity to discuss the specific challenges they are facing raising children – everything from adoption and pregnancy options available to fighting discrimination in their local schools. It’s a really useful tool for LGBT parents and this kind of thing is where Family Equality Council is able to provide the leadership that our families really need.

On to afternoon activities with teens from the Outspoken Generation (teen children of LGBT parents), gatherings for Moms and for Dads, and an Interfaith Photo Exhibit. We Have Faith is a touring photo exhibit which highlights LGBT people of many different religious backgrounds and their stories. It’s a truly eye-opening and stunningly photographed display. They are currently seeking funding and partnerships to bring the exhibit to more locations. More information is available at their website.

Here are some photos from yesterday’s activities!

7 Ways to Change Minds on Marriage

27 Jul

Coming out is a tough thing to do. It’s tough for everyone involved for the most part. Of course there are those rare occurrences where a kid popped out of his mother’s vagina and POOF! Everyone knew and everyone was okay with it. But for everyone else, it’s a journey. For both those who are coming out and those who are hearing it for the first time.

The same is true for those who are coming around on marriage equality – it’s a process. Just look at President Obama. He was able to model for the whole world that it’s okay to evolve on this issue. We have to take into consideration that for generations, we’ve been told that it’s not okay to be gay and it’s even less okay for two men or two women to be married. The idea for older generations is sometimes simply inconceivable. So, just like programming a VCR setting up a DVD player learning how to text, it takes some of us a little longer to figure it all out.

So here are some helpful hints on how to have a conversation with someone who may not be 100% on your side about marriage equality.

1. Respect their position - They’ve probably had that position for a long time, and as outlined above it takes time to work through those ideas. Whether their opinion is based on their religious beliefs or tradition or anything else really, it’s a position they’ve had for a long time. Maybe they haven’t had a lot of time or opportunity to even consciously think about marriage as something other than what they’ve always known. So give them the same respect you would expect in return.

2. Don’t attack. - This one’s difficult. Sometimes you’ve heard the same anti-gay, anti-intellectual and amoral arguments a hundred times before. But you have to remember that in many cases, the person you’re talking to is expressing these feelings and thoughts for the first time. If you come out swinging, you can bet they won’t be changing their mind anytime soon. And things may get heated when you least expect it. Wind it back by talking abou

3. Don’t get stuck in the Bible. - For generations, the Bible has been used as an excuse for someone’s bigoted beliefs. While you and I know that marriage between two men or two women was never mentioned in the Bible, and that “Traditional Biblical Marriage” never once allowed for the consent of the woman/women, and that the same book that says “man shall not lie with man,” also condemns eating shellfish, playing football and wearing polyester, these argument will ALWAYS turn contentious. If you wind up in a conversation that goes there, ask politely if you can change the subject to what love, commitment and family means.

4. Don’t say “Gay Marriage.” - Language around this issue is a touchy subject. But at the end of the day, we’re not looking for something different from what our straight friends and families have. We want marriage. We want marriage equality. We want marriage for all. As the now-famous facebook meme goes:

“It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage, or as I like to call it, “marriage.” You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. And I parked my car. I didn’t gay park it.” – Liz Feldman

5. Make it about Commitment instead of Equality. - Rights, Equality and all those other lovely things we’re striving for are great words that engage and energize LGBT people and our activist friends. But to others outside the movement, they aren’t something most have had to fight for, so they don’t think of them in the same terms you and I do. What most people do understand are words like “commitment,” “love,” and “family.” So instead of using words that aren’t as easy to grasp, use words that we can all identify with. Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and her colleagues at Third Way have done some extensive research in this area and here’s what they found:

When asked why “couples like you” might want to get married, they overwhelmingly said “to publicly acknowledge their love and commitment to each other.” But when asked why gay couples might want to get married, just as many people said “for rights and benefits, like tax advantages, hospital visitation, or sharing a spouse’s pension.” Over 3/5ths of those who thought gay couples wanted to marry for rights and benefits opposed allowing them to do so, but more than 3/5ths of those who thought gay couples wanted to marry for commitment supported it.

6. Don’t make comparisons. – We really love likening our struggle to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. We love talking about the similarities our movement has with the fights of the past. Funny thing is, this only causes people to spend time thinking about how our movements differ as opposed to our intent to find similarities.Keep them thinking about why this is important to YOU.

7. Don’t get stuck in the mud. - In your discussion, you won’t always come to a conclusion or life-changing realization on every topic. But we all know that we sometimes get to points so frustrating that if we don’t track back, the chat will be done. If you hit a sticking point where clearly you’re not seeing eye to eye, agree to disagree and move on to the next part of your discussion.

These are of course just a few hints to help make your conversation a little easier. If you have other ideas about how to approach a conversation like this, please put them in the comments! Thanks again to Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Third Way and Freedom to Marry for the excellent research which backs up much of these recommendations.

Romney ‘Seeks to Establish Full Equality for America’s Gays & Lesbians’…in 1994

11 May

Photo by DonkeyHotey on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.

The fact that Mitt Romney’s opinions change more frequently than a traffic light is no surprise to anyone. But as the marriage debate continues to heat up, and as he makes claims that his opposition to equality is somehow the same stance he’s always had, it seems we need to once again, check his record.

Yesterday, Romney said:

“When these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender and I don’t favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name.”

Now, I’d like to ask Governor Romney what he thinks the definition of the word “equality” is. If it’s “the state or quality of being equal” as Dictionary.com tells us, it would seem these are not the same values he held before.

On October 6, 1994, when Romney was running against Ted Kennedy for Senate, he issued a rather heartfelt and supportive letter to the Members of the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts.

“I am more convinced now than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gays and lesbians, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.

“I believe we can and we must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.

As I mentioned, this is far from breaking news and this letter has been circulated far & wide at this point. I just couldn’t let yesterday’s comments go by without pointing out his apparent backwards evolution from support for “full equality” to no protections whatsoever.

Maggie’s Flip-Flop on Immigration and Baiting of the Latino Community

5 Apr

NOM's Maggie Gallagher

In case you haven’t heard or are living under a rock, a couple weeks ago the National Organization for Marriage found themselves in hot water following the release of some internal documents.

The NOM papers, which had been released as part of a court agreement in Maine revealed some rather atrocious plans to divide the LGBT, African American and Latino communities. I don’t need to rehash the story here, but if you haven’t read about it, you can check it out here, here and in the New York Times.

I want to focus for a second though on one of the divisions NOM tried to make. In the released papers, NOM states:

“The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values?” the document asks. “We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

Maggie Gallagher, former President and Chairman of the the board for NOM more than likely helped craft much of this messaging. So I thought I’d do a little research into Maggie’s stance on immigration. At first I was really pleasantly surprised by a 1995 column written by Maggie. It was titled “America’s Meltdown Can’t be Blamed on Immigrants.” Of course, this is from 1995, before immigration was such a hot-button issue. In the column, she acknowledges her own status as a 2nd generation American and even goes on to mention how the post-60s immigration wave helped her “snag a husband.”

“Immigration is an easy scapegoat for our own cultural meltdown, our failure to maintain and transmit to our children a unified and vigorous vision of American history, institutions and heritage. Our system of government is under assault and our way of life threatened by ignorance, crime and social disorder. But grind immigration to a total halt, and you’ve done nothing about this real cancer eating away at the heart of American civilization.

The fault… lies not in our immigrants but in ourselves.”

Me…dumbfounded. Did Maggie just write something I agree with and goes utterly against her own party’s platform? Did she really just use our own pro-immigration argument to say that our country’s history and very founding depended on immigration? Wait…no. She didn’t “just” say it. She said it in 1995.

Upon further Googling, I find Maggie’s column from 10 years later, after George W. Bush, (her former employer) made immigration a “thing.” Maggie has clearly changed her tune and taken on the mantle of a racist, “illegals” hater.

“For me, personally, illegal Mexican immigration means that when a foot of snow falls, two nice guys show up and offer to shovel the driveway for $25.

But for my friend “Mary,” the whole issue looks different. She cleans houses and baby-sits for a living. Her son paints houses. In both cases, they are competing directly with a new flood of immigrants who don’t mind living doubled or quadrupled up (changing the character of neighborhoods) and for whom $10 bucks an hour is a premium wage.”

Happily though, Maggie’s opinions and her organization’s racist tactics don’t seem to be making much of a difference. According to a poll released yesterday from Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos support LGBT equality by a number of 59% to 30% who oppose it. Another takeaway from the study is that 3 out of 10 Latinos consider themselves “liberal,” compared to just 21% of the general population.

LGBT equality should not be a Republican or Democratic issue as all people should share in the equality offered by our Constitution. Immigration is similar in that our country is a country made up entirely of immigrants. Outside of indigenous peoples, we all came from another country…not so long ago in the grand scheme of things. It is utterly hypocritical of Americans to be anti-immigration.

Catholic Church Fires Gay Music Director Suffering From Parkinson’s

26 Feb

As gay people, we are certainly no strangers to criticism, hatred and discrimination coming from the Catholic Church. And those who stand against equality are very fast to make claims that if marriage equality is passed, they will most certainly be sued until gays can marry in their churches. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they continue to make these bogus statements.

Of course, we see the utter hypocrisy coming from a place that has been no stranger to sexual scandals for generation upon generation, but what about the gays and lesbians who are still practicing Catholics? Specifically, what about the gay employees who continue to work for an employer which promotes intolerance against them?

Steav Bates-Congdon (R) and his husband Bill

One such former employee, Steav Bates-Congdon, worked as music director for St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC. Steav had worked for the congregation since 2004, and parishioners claim he’d been very open about his sexuality and his relationship of 23 years since his first job interviews. So imagine his surprise when he returned from his honeymoon after getting hitched in New York, to find his job was no more.

After a visit to the church following an emergency hospital stay for a burst appendix, he was handed a note by Rev. Frank O’Rourke which stated: “Employees of St. Gabriel … are expected to live within the moral tradition of the Church. … Your civil marriage stands in direct opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church, therefore ending your employment with us.”

In June of 2011, Steav told Rev. O’Rourke of his intended nuptials and O’Rourke responded with a “Congratulations, I’m happy for you,” and followed with “but I can’t give you my blessing.” Steav replied “I wouldn’t ask you to.” More than six months later, he was out of a job. Had O’Rourke raised any concerns at the time, Steav said they would have postponed the wedding until they didn’t have to depend so much on his income.

To add insult to injury, Steav suffers from young-onset Parkinson’s disease and participates in Michael J. Fox Foundation clinical research in the hopes of finding a cure. We hope that he is able to find another job that will pay his health insurance as the compassion of the Catholic church that once employed him has seemingly gone out the window.

Thanks to a Supreme Court decision, the church, along with 29 states can legally fire anyone they want for being gay or lesbian.

Ten States* Where I Can Get Married?!?

25 Jan

There is a whole lot going on around marriage equality in this country right now and it seemed like as good a time as any to review what’s going on! As of right now, as I’m planning my wedding, there are 7 places I can get married. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont (gotta love New England), Iowa, New York and Washington D.C.. While 7 weddings would be fun, wouldn’t 10 be funner?

Washington State: Our friends in the northwest are poised to become the 7th state to legalize marriage equality! The measure was proposed by Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and immediately, we began counting the votes. In the past few weeks, it was seeming more and more likely as we counted. Then after several undecideds had taken a stand on the right side of history, we stood just one vote shy before stating conclusively that we could win this. Then Democratic Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, after having taken time to listen to her constituents and consider her own beliefs and values, she announced that she would be supporting the bill.

“For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” Ms. Haugen said in a statement. “That is what I believe, to this day. But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.”

A vote there has not yet been scheduled, but when it passes, opponents are expected to challenge it with a voter referendum in the fall.

Maryland: The Free State has grappled with marriage on several occasions before. In 2004, a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and Equality Maryland on behalf of 10 gay and lesbian couples. The suit claimed that the anti-gay marriage law on the books was unconstitutional because it discriminated based on sex. The judge found in favor of the plaintiffs, but her decision was immediately taken to appeals, where it was overturned.

Anti-gay legislators spent the next few years going crazy, trying to pass additional amendments to the constitution to make sure the discrimination was enshrined in their laws. They even went so far as to have the judge who first found in favor of the plaintiffs impeached for her decision.

Then last year, a new marriage equality bill was widely expected to pass. With Catholic Governor Martin O’Malley announcing he would sign it into law, things looked good. The Senate (which was seen as the biggest hurdle) passed the measure and then it was sent to the House. That’s when the religious groups and the out-of-state National Organization “for” Marriage jumped in and began lobbying legislators to vote against it. The bill was sent back to committee as it was clear it would not pass if brought for a vote.

This month, a new bill which contains the most explicit religious protections of any in the nation, was introduced by the Governor. Keep your fingers crossed!

New Jersey: Having moved from New Jersey to DC just this past year, I have particular interest in this race. You see – when anti-gay Republican Governor Chris Christie was elected, it was made clear that NJ would not be seeing marriage equality anytime soon. Christie made an election promise that he would veto any marriage equality bill that landed on his desk.

In recent weeks though, as discussions of a marriage equality bill made their way around, Christie seemed to hedge. There were some thoughts that he might let the bill pass without actually signing it. There’s a rule that says if it sits on his desk for 30 days without him signing it, then it becomes a law. But just in time for the debate to start, Christie announced he would stick with his homophobic decision to veto the bill should it be given to him.

But then this happened. State Senator Steve Sweeney was asked by a reporter why they were still going through with a debate and vote if the Governor had already promised a veto? What followed was one of the most poignant and clear arguments I’ve ever heard from a legislator:

Reporter:Senator Sweeney, would you comment on this veto promise of the Governor as to what the point is of even going through this exercise?Senator Sweeney: The point of going through a fight for civil rights? Are you kidding me? For standing up for people to give them the same rights? I’m offended by that.

The Governor’s a governor. He’s got his opinion. But there are many Republicans — because I’ve spoken to them — that want to vote for this bill. Now, if the Governor wants to stifle and silence his colleagues that’s one thing, but he’s not going to stifle or silence us. Someone has to stand up for equality and fairness.

You know, I apologized in the past, but I’m telling you right now, I’m fighting to get this done. And if we have to go for an override we’ll work every angle we possibly have to. But right now it’s about getting it onto his desk.

And it’s offensive for anyone to think, why bother if the Governor doesn’t want to do it. Well guess what? He’s wrong on this one.

You know his announcement today was to try to put a damper on what we’re trying to do. It’s not happening. We’re not walking away, we’re not backing down, we’re not giving up. This is about civil rights, period.”

* – About the asterisk – While Washington D.C. is not technically a state, it is still a US locale where I can get married. Some of you may not realize that D.C. has no representation in the Congress or Senate, which means we are fighting the same thing the U.S. fought in the American Revolution. We still pay local and federal taxes but have no representation. For more information on this, visit DC Vote.

I Said Yes: The Video

2 Jan

It’s been a little more than 36 hours since my boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

Since then, more than a thousand people have commented, liked, called, texted or sent smoke signals congratulating us. We couldn’t be more happy at the outpouring of love and support.

I’m still in so much shock every time I look at my finger. I just keep jumping back to when I was a kid thinking this wasn’t something that would ever happen for me because I was gay. Even when I was older and I’d become more comfortable with myself, I would rent gay movies like Maurice or Beautiful Thing,  and while it was certainly encouraging to see our stories being told on film, there was rarely a “happily ever after.”

Our friend, Tom captured the moment on his iPhone and just posted it to youtube this morning and we wanted to share it. To be honest, I don’t recall it being that loud or 3/4 of the things that were said, but it certainly is nice to have this record of it. Please watch and share if you like.

Maybe some kid out there will watch this and realize that their prince or princess is out there looking for their fairytale ending too.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 929 other followers