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

 

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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.

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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.

poignant

poignant

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.

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goodness

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!
Mark  
_____
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,
[tigerlilytoph]
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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:

LMAO

"get back in the car, honey."

finally, irrefutable evidence

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badness, life

The boycott begins

Ok seriously, wtf is wrong with people?  This whole anti-gay movement is just… bizarre.
I came across this article about how Chic-fil-A is ani-gay marriage, and I wonder when I’ll get used to this level of intolerance.  It just continues to blow my mind.  Will I ever not feel shock and revulsion?  I wonder when it will stop.  I had a chat about this issue with someone who voted yes on prop 8, and the conversation degenerated into something like this:
me: Everyone should be allowed to get married.
him: But marriage is between a man and a woman, everyone knows that.
me: Says who?
him: I’m not sure why I have to explain this part.  Where do people get married?  In a church.
me: Or in front of a judge.
him: Well, if they want to, but let’s be honest, people get married in a church.
me: If they’re Christian, yeah.
him: Right, and that’s what we’re talking about.
me: Says who?  You’re jumping to conclusions, not everyone in the world is Christian.
him: We’re talking about America.
me: Not everyone in America is Christian.
him: Most of them are, and that’s the point.  The majority rules, and the majority of people are straight men and women who would marry in a church.  So when they vote, that’s how they’ll vote, and that’s their right.
me: You’ve missed the point completely.  If they were voting for their own rights, that would make perfect sense, but they’re voting on the rights of others.  They’re restricting the rights of others for no reason.
him: Of course there’s a reason; marriage is between a man and a woman.
me: Ok, what’s the point of a law?  To protect people.
What if gays could marry?  Who would get hurt?  Who are we protecting by preventing gays from being allowed to get married?
him: Well the whole idea of marriage is between a man and a woman.
me: But that’s not the point of marriage, right?  The point is to spend the rest of your life with someone you love.
him: Then they can say, “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”  What’s wrong with that?
me: Are you asking me why a legal marriage certificate is a necessary part of marriage?  It’s not.  It’s a benefit that you’re withholding from certain people because of their sexual orientation.  That’s illegal.
him: If it was illegal, it wouldn’t have been on the ballot.
me: Did you know that our president’s parents weren’t allowed to get married because one’s black and one’s white?
him: …No, actually, I didn’t.
me: I don’t see a difference here.
him: Well of course there’s a difference, you can tell just by looking at someone if they’re black or white.
me: So if all gays had a rainbow tattoo on their forehead, the two scenarios would no longer be different?  Just because you can tell them apart from straights?

Then the topic magically got changed.

I just don’t get it.

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