badness, life

It’s past time we had a chat

Marriage equality is an inevitability, regardless of what’s happening in Russia right now (why are they hosting the Olympics again?).  But at least progress is happening in California.

Still, I’ve never had a logical, productive discussion about marriage equality with someone from the opposite camp, and feel as though my experience of this social phenomenon is diminished as a result.  Even if we disagree, I’d like to hear an intelligent dissenting opinion, if one exists.  So I went to the Protect Marriage website and submitted the following:

I have yet to have a productive discussion regarding marriage equality with someone who believes, as your group does, that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. Instead of having pointless Facebook discussions (that typically consist of someone quoting religious texts as a justification for secular law, or end with someone leaving the conversation in a huff) I figured the best thing to do would be to contact a group of people who have a clear idea of why they believe what they believe, and are capable of having a logical, productive discussion on the topic.

With that in mind, I’ve gone through the “Who We Are” page on your website, and am unclear on a few claims there.

Your website says that “children are most likely to thrive when raised by the father and mother who brought them into this world.”
-How did you come to this conclusion?
-Are adoptive parents (of any gender) therefore inferior?

Your organization claims to want “to protect and preserve traditional marriage…”
-How far back are you extending the word ‘traditional?’ 50 years? 100 years? 1,000 years?

Your website says that our government has “protected marriage to ensure that it exists to conceive and nurture healthy children that will sustain civilization,” and that “procreation is intrinsically connected to marriage.”
-Should the infertile (of any gender) receive the same government protections?
-Are relationships between couples who choose not to procreate inferior in any way?

When you say that children “sustain civilization,” I’m not sure I understand what you mean.
-Do you mean that they maintain the status quo, or that they maintain the same morals and laws that they inherited?

How will same-sex marriage “further [weaken] the societal norm that men should take responsibility for the children they beget”? How did you come to this conclusion?

How will same-sex marriage “corrode marital norms of permanence, monogamy, and fidelity”? How did you come to this conclusion?

Your website quotes Judge Stephen Johnson Field: “marriage is the foundation of family and society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.” This statement was made in 1888, eight years before he voted to uphold racial segregation.
-Do you contend that this man’s opinions on social norms (125 years later) are still relevant?
-Please define what you believe he meant by “progress.”

How does an opposite-sex couple’s ability to procreate make their marriage superior to one (made up of any gender combination) that cannot, especially if members of an opposite-sex couple choose not make use of their ability to procreate?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

I’ll post here if they respond.  I’m expecting total radio silence, but remain optimistic.

Meanwhile, here’s how I feel about people who think marriage equality will degrade the current (horrendous) rate of successful marriages between straight couples:

divorce, the silent killer of a full 50% of straight marriages

divorce, the silent killer of a full 50% of straight marriages


goodness, life

The great American tradition: change

Still pretty excited about the death of DOMA.  Plus, this announcement that Californians don’t have to wait the usual 25 days after a Ninth Circuit Court ruling to exercise their right to marry.  In fact, the LA Times reports that ” Los Angeles County and some local cities are offering special procedures and extended hours Monday to meet heavy demand” for marriage licenses.

we need more of these

we need more of these

I’m not sure how to express my excitement over this, since it is, at its core, a depressing statement of my country’s lack of empathy for one another.  We’re all pretty excited, but what should I say to a gay/lesbian couple?  “Congratulations!  You are now considered human in the eyes of the law!”  I’m desperate to find a way to let the LGBT community know that they have support in the straight community, but Facebook status updates and an equality magnet on my car aren’t enough.

I’m volunteering at an ESL (English as a Second Language) school four days a week for a few hours per day, and try to make time for a ‘free question time’ before we start class.  I try to encourage the students to ask about language, news topics, anything really, and that day one of the students asked about DOMA.  I explained the ruling, the structure of the supreme court and the history of prop 8.  I gave no indication of my personal opinion about the ruling, but finished with a quick mention of why it’s good for California economically: more weddings = more money for the state!  The students didn’t offer their opinions, even when I asked if anyone wanted to contribute anything before we moved on.  But many of the students are religious (Christian), so I felt I could assume that many of them would be displeased with the ruling and didn’t want to start the day by highlighting something about the US they might not like, especially given the depressing nature of that day’s topic (funerals).  Still, I tried to leave them with a positive impression of the ruling without imposing my opinion on them (which would be an abuse of my power as an instructor).

My coworkers joked last week that in two years, the divorce rate will jump, given that there are probably plenty of couples getting married because they finally can (again), and are trying to be legally joined before their right to do so is revoked (again).  But I’m too happy to worry about that, so here are some of my favorite pro-marriage equality images that have been floating around the interwebz:

cats: official mascot of the internet.

cats: official mascot of the internet.

"conservative/religious/republican/crazies devastated?  GOOD."

“conservative/religious/republican/crazies devastated? GOOD.”

Boyfriend plays Ryu in Super Street Fighter IV rather well.  he's so talented.

Boyfriend plays Ryu in Super Street Fighter IV rather well. he’s so talented.

goodness, life

It bends toward justice

Being an adult who keeps up with politics can be an emotional roller coaster.  We were electric the day Obama was elected president, but that evening I attended a protest in West Hollywood with a devastated crowd: Prop 8 had passed.  I stood among throngs of people, angry, confused and disappointed by their fellow Californians’ callousness, and held signs that asked passing cars, “When do I get to vote on your right to marry?”

I realize I never posted the photos I took there.  It seems appropriate to post them today to commemorate our disappointment and burning desire for equality.  Almost five years later, the nation has changed for the better.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  Let’s keep fighting.

media exposure was minimal, given Obama's election win that same day

media exposure was minimal, given Obama’s election win that same day

finally, those signs speak the truth.

finally, those signs speak the truth.



holding his adopted daughter, this man spoke eloquently to a reporter on the passage of prop 8

holding his adopted daughter, this man spoke eloquently to a reporter on the passage of prop 8

our numbers swelled, and eventually there were enough of us to claim the Santa Monica/San Vicente intersection

our numbers swelled, and eventually there were enough of us to claim the  intersection (today, it has rainbow-colored crosswalks)

we received a surprising amount of support from inconvenienced commuters as we marched east on Santa Monica Blvd

we received a surprising amount of support from inconvenienced commuters as we marched east on Santa Monica Blvd

she asked if she could climb onto his hood, but the taxi driver thought she was asking for a ride and yelled at her to get down

she asked if she could climb onto his hood, but the taxi driver thought she was asking for a ride and yelled at her to get down

the police were calm and gentle with the few protesters they arrested, including this man in the blue striped shirt (far left)

the police were calm and gentle with the few protesters they arrested

I stood with the people in this last photo in a kind of mutually respectful standoff with the police at Santa Monica Blvd and La Cienega.  There was a sense of defiance and desperation in the air.  An officer on a megaphone told us to get out of the road and back onto the sidewalk.  I stayed where I was, along with almost everyone else.  The officers were discussing something and pointing toward our section of the crowd.  I had positioned myself in the front of the group to get some good photos, and was rethinking that decision.  I thought about how much trouble I would be in with my very conservative, white, Republican boss if I didn’t show up for work the next day because I had been arrested at a protest for marriage equality.  There was a very real chance I might be fired, which worried me (the job market was gut-wrenchingly bad: I had put in 50 job applications, gotten two interviews, and one job offer in order to land that job, which I hated).  I took a breath and elongated my perspective; I saw my future self reflecting on this moment when I would quietly comply, or be escorted to a police car.  I stood very still.  As the officer approached us I felt a hand on my arm, and was gently pulled backwards into the crowd by a woman who seemed to be accustomed to attending protests like this.  “They’re going to arrest someone,” she said calmly.  “Back up.”

They took the guy on the far left in the blue striped shirt.  The crowd yelled and cheered as he was slowly led away toward a waiting police car.  No one harassed or boo’d the police.  We had effectively stopped traffic on two (now three) of the busiest streets in Los Angeles, and we recognized they were just doing their job, regardless of moral standing.

this should really feature her now famous neon sneakers, but who can complain?

this should really feature her now famous neon sneakers, but who can complain?

My Facebook feed is lit up today with support for the end of DOMA, the renewal of weddings for gay and lesbian couples in California as early as next month, and the federal legitimation of already existing gay and lesbian marriages.  But it was a victory for women of all sexual orientations today, too: Texas Senator Wendy Davis (D) successfully filibustered an anti-abortion bill that would have threatened to shut down “all but 5 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state.”  Thank you, Senator Davis.

As an English-speaking, American, white, employed, middle class graduate student, it’s easy for me to say: I dread not future, for I am its architect.  My goal as a teacher of English as a foreign language (and a supporter of marriage equality) is to share this sense of empowerment with others, every day, one word at a time, and watch as the arc of American history bends toward justice.

badness, work

Grow some ovaries, ladies

I’m in charge of social media in my office, and occasionally get tips from less technologically adept coworkers that I try to implement without letting my eye twitch too much.

For example, today, when I posted an article about how our university is attempting to make gay athletes feel more welcome, Hollywood Coworker told me to “tread very lightly when you post LGBT stuff” because the parents who visit our page are not all as “advanced” as we are on the topic.

my immediate non-verbal response

my immediate non-verbal response

I could tell she assumed this would turn into a disagreement (as her suggestions about what to do with social media often do), so I used my most soothing voice, and said something like, “Well, we can’t cater to every opinion, and even if we could, our job is to inform them about the university. This is happening right now. It’s a fact.”  Her hands came up in a ‘don’t get me started’ fashion, because we both strongly support the LGBT community, so she thought I was preaching to the choir. But I wasn’t, because the topic wasn’t about the LGBT community, it was about deciding whether or not we would do our jobs right, or be cowards.  She honestly believes that I should watch what I post about the LGBT community, especially anything demonstrating support of said community. Why? Because it might offend some parents. As if our job is to:
1) Cater to bigots
2) Lie by omission about university policies
3) Neglect to inform the other parents for fear of offending a few
4) Any of the a-fucking-bove.

This is an amazing university. I’m proud to have gone here, and delighted to be working here. So I’m left wondering: What does Hollywood Coworker think our social media is there for, if not to inform our constituency? If there’s a bombing on campus, we’d post about that too because our job is information distribution, not whatever-makes-you-comfortable distribution.  Remember that newspaper that published an article about the first gay marriage in a small community, and caught all kinds of grief for it?  The owner of that paper wrote a great reply to all the negative feedback: “The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn’t take place or ignoring it because it will upset people.”

This bothered me quite a bit, so I mentioned to Little Mole Boss that I had published this article, and she winced.  I asked why she had that reaction, and she said that some parents are prejudiced.  So I asked, “So should we not inform parents because some people might be offended?”
Little Mole Boss: “No, let’s just see what the reaction is.”
me: “Ok… I just want to make sure we’re not avoiding posting stuff because some people don’t like it.  We’re not posting opinions, these are facts.  Our page doesn’t have an LGBT agenda…”
“I know, of course of course…”
“So what’s our policy on this?”
“We don’t have one.”
“I guess if it’s already up, it’s up.  Let’s just see what the reaction is.”
“Ok, sounds good.”

really?  REALLY?

frustrated kitty is frustrated

So there’s some work to be done in the “do the right thing without being a big fucking baby about it” department.

So I’ll keep working on it.


Neutral journalism: I found some

A local paper in Jones County, Mississippi, published a front-page story entitled “Historic Wedding” about a lesbian couple in the local community who were recently married.  Naturally, the paper got a ton of feedback (mostly negative) from its local readership, which both saddened and infuriated me.  The owner of the paper, Jim Cegielski, wrote a response entitled “Doing Our Job” that contains a few gems of journalistic wisdom:

weddingThe job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn’t take place or ignoring it because it will upset people.

Most of the complaints seem to revolve around our headline, “Historic Wedding” and the fact that we chose to put the story on the first page. My answer…is pretty simple. You don’t have to like something for it to be historic. The holocaust, bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Black Sox scandal are all historic…whether you liked the story or not, the first known gay wedding to take place in Jones County is still historic.

Many of the calls received had the caller stating something to the effect, “I don’t need my children to read this.” Ugh. We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying “I don’t need my child reading this.” Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children.

You have every right to cancel your subscription…But you have no right to berate and belittle anyone on our staff.

Color me amazed.  I didn’t want the people working at this paper getting only negative feedback, so I wrote an encouraging email to the editor, and the following exchange did not disappoint.  Warning: Beware of feels.

Hi there,
I recently read a story about the headline you ran regarding a “Historic Marriage” and the following backlash your paper and its staff received from the local community.  I also read about Mr. Cegielski’s response to said complaints.
I was very impressed by Mr. Cegielski’s statement in defense of this story’s publication.  The points he made about the lack of negative response regarding stories about murder, rape, molestation, etc., and the fact that “historical” are not always pleasant were both right on the money.  I am so pleased with this public statement in defense of journalistic integrity and the staff who work at the paper.  Well done.
I live in Los Angeles, but I’ve bookmarked your newspaper’s website and will visit it often to increase traffic to your site.  I hope your paper continues to uphold the same high standards of journalistic integrity in the future.

Thank you, [tigerlilytoph] … I can’t wait to pass on your kind words to our staff. It will mean a lot after so much hate-filled criticism.
I appreciate you for taking the time to write!
Then I heard from Jim, the owner of the paper who wrote the op ed in defense of running the story.
Hi [tigerlilytoph]:

Mark forwarded your email onto me and I just wanted to add my gratitude and thanks for your kind message.
Warmest Regards,
Jim Cegielski
Laurel Leader-Call
So I wrote a probably-too-long email back:
Hi Jim,
It was my pleasure, and well deserved.  An impartial news source is not easy to find, so I was delighted that your response to all the negative feedback you got was to point out that the job of a news organization is to report just that: the news.  Not what people want to hear, or a political opinion on current events, just facts.

Although I’m a strong supporter of equal rights for all, I’m glad you didn’t cite any personal bias (no matter what it might be) on that topic as your reasoning for reporting that story.  The fact is, if I wanted to read individuals’ opinions of current events, I’d look to blogs instead of news outlets.
Please give my warmest wishes to your staff.  I know how it is dealing with wrankled customers: it sucks out loud.  They have all my support (and the support of all the friends and family whom I’ve told about your experience).  I hope they keep a good sense of humor while dealing with this and any future backlash for doing their jobs right.
In friendship,
goodness, life

My old friend

I just found out another friend of mine from way back in the day (elementary school this time) is a big, fat lesbian.  I also found out she just got married (like two days ago).  The first thing that occurred to me was what a shitty friend I am not to have noticed that not only is she a lesbian, she’s also been dating someone seriously enough to marry her.  God I suck.

But good for them!  So exciting.  I wrote on her Facebook wall congratulating her, and letting her know how happy I was for her.  Then I started feeling all misty-eyed about Obama winning his second term, all the women taking office, all the gay rights measures that passed (4 for 4 ain’t too shabby), and I went a little overkill on the well-wishing.  I messaged her partner (now wife) to congratulate her, and to deliver a poorly veiled threat of violence if she messed with my old friend.

Hey Danielle,

I knew Charlene back in grade school, and though we’ve basically lost touch aside from being Fb friends, I wanted to let you know how happy I am for you both, and congratulate you on your wedding.

She and I sang in a choir together in our teens; I remember her being very kind, and sharp as a tack. She also struck me as a bit fragile. All the kids in school knew it had to be tough being the new kid whose father was the new pastor. And I remember James [her little brother] getting into trouble here and there. I realized during one of the fleeting moments of clarity I experienced in my early teens that she had a lot on her plate, but she handled it like a champ.

Please treat her well. She is, and will always be, my friend. Even if we haven’t spoken in years, I’ll still break your knees if you hurt her. Just kidding. But not really 🙂:)

Yes, I cried a little, sitting on the floor in my friend’s apartment while Obama was declared winner of the election.  But this really brought home what was at stake.  My old friend.  I am so happy for you.

happy tears in Minnesota over the smallest of victories: being told that your kind of love should not, after all, be outlawed

goodness, life

Secret friends

super gay 🙂

I got pulled into Little Mole Boss’s office today to get an earful about how she’s heard that I’m not “friendly” enough, and that I’m not “giving 100%.” She recognizes that my part-time position here is not super mentally stimulating, but she still expects top-notch work, which is an enigma as far as I’m concerned.  I was also instantly annoyed at the assumption that women should be ‘friendly’ all the time.  There’s a guy in our office who is terse and occasionally downright rude, and he’s worked here for six years or so.  I’ve never said an unkind word to anyone in this office in the two years I’ve worked here, so why… *sigh*  It was not a good start to the day.

But then it got better. Grabbing lunch around noon, I noticed the black woman running the register had two linked female symbols tattooed to her arm. I’m a huge supporter of gay marriage and the gay community in general, so I said, “I like your tattoo.”
She froze with her arm out so I could get a better look. “Thanks, you know what it is?”
She smiled back, “Are you one?”
I gave her a big smile and said, “Nope, but I got your back.”
She gave me a tiny salute and said, “Thanks for your support.”

And that is why today was a good day.


Human rights: a new anthem

I probably cry more at work nowadays than anywhere else, since it’s there that I read articles about the state of the world, and find videos like this.

Upworthy is right: equality just found a new anthem.

But now what?  What can I do?  Watching a video, clicking ‘like’ is not enough.  What now?  What do I do now?

goodness, humor

Still str8 against H8

This collection of pro-gay marriage protest signs made me smile today.  Nothing like a sense of humor to invigorate your cause.

My personal favorites:


"get back in the car, honey."

finally, irrefutable evidence