Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

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Prop Hate and the Boycott of the Mormon Church

November 17, 2008

I have not written specifically on this blog about Prop 8 in California or in any way other than tangentially about my sexual orientation.  But with the passage of Prop 8 it is time for me to take a stand, speak my mind and share what is in my heart.

 

When the California Supreme Court opinion came down in May of this year granting gay and lesbian Californians the right to marry, I immediately went to the Court’s web site and downloaded the over 120 page opinion. As I read it, I wept. Finally, someone was speaking up for me and my gay brothers and sisters, finally someone understood the importance of our relationships with our partners, of how much these relationships satisfied our souls, nurtured and fulfilled us.  At last, we were being told that we deserved and were entitled to the most basic fundamental human right- the right to marry the person we loved.

 

Now mind you, as a gay woman, I never believed that in my lifetime I would be given the right to marry. And so the Supreme Court’s decision buoyed my spirits and made me feel equal to all of my heterosexual friends. I could share with them my joy and invite them to help me celebrate the joining of my life with my partner’s. We would finally be able to have our union validated and legally and socially recognized. I would no longer be a second class citizen, looked down upon, considered sick and immoral.

 

That very evening my partner and I sat down and chose the date for our wedding. We took out a pad of paper and began scribbling out our plans and joyfully creating our guest list. It felt surreal to think about our wedding, an event we never thought we would celebrate.

 

As we made our plans; met with caterers, selected the location and finalized our guest list, never far from our minds was the looming threat that the voters in California would take away this fundamental right we had so long fought and hoped for. To ensure that we could and would be legally wed, we chose a date before November 4 to celebrate the union of our lives. My head told me that surely people would not discriminate against us and deny us the right to marry the person of our choosing; my love for my partner being no different than the love my closest friends have for their opposite sex spouses. But my intellect reminded me of the history of discrimination in this country. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that interracial marriage was prohibited. And it hasn’t been that long since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. I was hoping with an African American as our democratic candidate for President that I was wrong, that our country had advanced and become more tolerant and accepting.

 

And then the campaign of hate began. Commercials filled with lies, funded with money from religious organizations such as the Mormon Church aired night and day. My stomach turned. The hate and intolerance that spewed from the television over and over again each night told me that there were those who did not want me and my partner to enjoy the basic human right of forming a family with the person of our choosing. They did not want us to have the comfort and solace of the person we loved the most when we lay dying. In many states, only family members can be by the bedside of a person as they take their last breath. Without jumping through a bunch of legal hurdles, a gay couple cannot pass property to each other upon death. Absent being a heterosexual married couple, we have no right to the social security benefits of a spouse. These are only a few of the rights heterosexual couples take for granted and which are denied to us, simply because we love someone of the same sex. Prop 8 was really misnamed. It should have been called Prop Hate.

 

At the same time this country elected its first bi racial president, gay marriage bans passed in three states, California, Arizona (where it had been defeated twice before) and in another state that I can’t recall at the moment. In at least one other state the voters decided that gay couples cannot and should not be permitted to adopt a child. As the mother of a happy, healthy and married heterosexual male, this angered me. Sexual orientation does not impair ones parenting abilities. Just ask my son.

 

In California, at least, much of the money used to fuel the campaign of hate came from Mormons, with a significant amount coming from out of state. The Mormon Church actively advocated its members donate money to the Yes on 8 Campaign. Many heeded the call. Many others became political activists and organized; manning phone banks and canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors and spreading lies and hate. The Mormon Church and its members actively and substantially became involved in politics, something a non-profit, tax exempt religious organization is prohibited by law from doing. Remember separation of Church and State? The Mormon Church does not pay taxes. But we gay Americans do and yet we are denied the most basic and fundamental rights all other taxpaying Americans enjoy and take for granted.

 

There is a war cry being sounded in gay communities all across America – Boycott Mormon owned businesses. This is a war cry that should be heeded. While I understand that there are some in our community who do not support a boycott of businesses that financially or otherwise supported the passage of Prop 8, especially while we are experiencing such a horrible economic downturn, history has shown us that boycotts are extremely effective.

 

As a community we should not support or frequent any business or use the services of any professional who supports and/or encourages hate, intolerance or discrimination. Any business that takes our money and then works financially or otherwise to prevent us from enjoying basic fundamental civil rights does not deserve to have our business. The gay community is a very powerful economic force and we need to use the power of our wallets to send a message. After all, it was the power of the wallets of the Mormons, the Catholics and other religious zealots that contributed to the passage of Prop 8. Let those businesses and professionals who support hate, intolerance and discrimination experience what it feels like to be singled out and treated differently. Let us hurt them where it matters most, in their pocketbooks. Let them feel the pain and the consequence of their hate and discrimination.

 

Businesses that support hate, intolerance and discrimination want our green dollars but do not want us to have civil rights, the same rights many heterosexuals take for granted. These businesses are color blind when it comes to money – green is green regardless of who is paying – and want our green dollars to enrich themselves and their bottom lines but do not want us to enjoy basic fundamental civil rights. We will take your money and we will take your right to marry. By using the power of our wallet we can make a statement to all such businesses and professionals that discrimination in any form is not acceptable. If they can’t treat gay Americans the same in all respects as heterosexuals, they don’t deserve our money, especially when we can give it to others who believe in equal rights for all. Would any of us frequent an establishment that advocated or supported discrimination against Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, or Jews? The power of the wallet is one of our best weapons in this fight. Especially during these challenging economic times. After all, these businesses used the power of their wallets to take from us a right many of us desperately want.

 

Now is NOT the time to be invisible. Now is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines. Now is NOT the time to be silent. Now is NOT the time to give our hard earned gay dollars to bigots, religious zealots or businesses that care more about their bottom lines than they do basic
fundamental human rights. We need to let the public know we are here and that we are proud. We need to hold our heads high and share with the world our love for our partners and our community. We need to shape public opinion. We need to let people know who we are and kindly, passionately and proudly let them know we are just like them. We love. We cry. We hurt. We pay taxes and we raise children. And we must NOT let anyone take advantage of us in any way, especially financially. Many businesses have profited off of the backs of the gay community for far too long. A boycott against those businesses that do not see us as equal and only take our money to line their own pockets is the right thing to do.

 

We need to rally. We need to write letters to the editor. We need to boycott. We need to protest. We need to educate. We need to support politicians who will be there for us when it might mean they won’t be re-elected because it is the RIGHT thing to do. We need to picket and
stop supporting financially or with our vote ANY politician who does not believe that we deserve equal rights. Not separate rights, not rights by any other name, but the same rights as all other Americans take for granted. We need to stand up, be heard and counted.

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Guarantee Mentality: The Cancer of Relationships

September 24, 2008

Over the course of the last several years, I have seen the romantic relationships of many of my friends struggle, crumble and finally fail. There seems to be something inherently difficult in creating a satifying, fulfilling or succesful relationship. In pondering this topic, one day I had an ephiphany; most people view relationships with a guarantee mentality. What do I mean by this?

When we buy a product, such as a car or expensive piece of electronic equipment, we get a manufacturers warranty. This warranty assures, or “guarantees” us that if something goes wrong with our new toy, the manufacturer will either repair or replace the item. We need do nothing. All of the burden of fixing the problem falls on the shoulders of the manufacturer. In this consumption society, we have become accustomed to, rely on and outright expect others to fix any problem we may have.

I have come to the conclusion that this is how many, if not most, people view relationships. Perhaps not consciously but most likely unconsciously. If something is wrong in our relationships, we first blame the creation of the problem on our significant other. (If our car breaks down it is the manufacturer’s fault, right?) Second, we expect, and often demand that our partner fix the problem. After all, “it couldn’t be me who caused this problem. And besides, when we entered into this relationship you promised to stay in the relationship and to solve our problems. So do it!” I call this the guarantee mentality.

So, what is wrong with this? This mentality can, and eventually will doom your relationship to failure. If we always look to  the other to change or solve our relationship problems, we are not truly invested in the success of the relationship. Successful relationships are, or should be, co-creative. Two people must work together to define their relationship and resolve differences as they arise. It cannot fall on the shoulders of only one partner. When that happens it build resentment and contempt; a true relationship nuclear bomb. Once contempt sets in, it is like a disease that spreads and festers. By the time it is discovered, the entire system is infected and death is imminent.

But we can prevent this from happening. How? First, we must stay conscious in our relationship. We must voice our concerns as they arise and feel safe to express our feelings. We must own our part – and yes, there always is one – in any problem. We need to strive to understand before seeking to be understood. And we must be willing to work hard to have effective communication with our partner. It is not simply enough to listen. We must truly hear our partners and let them know they have been heard.

It sounds much harder than it needs to be. Look outside yourself and put your significant other first. If both parties to a relationship do this, everything else will come naturally.

The only guarantee we should expect or demand is from ourselves; to be the best we can be. To get the most out of a relationship we should expect and demand of ourself that which we expect and demand of our partner. Nothing less will result in success.

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I Am Resigning from My Family

September 15, 2008

My heart is broken. I am getting married on Saturday October 18 to someone who has opened my heart and shown me what it feels like to truly be loved for who I am and to love deeply. There is nothing more powerful than that feeling and I can’t wait to pledge my life and love to this incredible person. October 18 will be one of the most important days of my life and I want to share my joy with those I love and who are important to me. I want to be surrounded by family and friends who will bear witness to our celebration.

So why the broken heart you ask? Yesterday when I returned home from an out of town trip, I received an rsvp from my youngest sister declining to attend the wedding. I haven’t spoken with her since I called her in May to tell her of the wedding and to save the date. At the time her response was “I will do the best I can to be there but I might have homework (she is in college) and the girls (my nieces) may have a softball tournament.” After confessing my pain, there was no apology, no congratulations, no questions about details, no shared joy, just a short and somewhat strident retort “I will do the best I can.” Here I was telling her about one of the most important days of my life and how much I wanted her and her family to join us in the celebration and all she could say was “I will do the best I can?”  I hung up hurt and confused.

In the months that followed I have not had one single call from her to ask about the wedding or any of the details. There has been no sharing of my joy and happiness and no efforts to participate in any way. Nothing, nada, zip. I tried to talk to my mother about it but she just said something about my sister being busy and that it would work out. Even my mother has not asked for many details about the wedding. I get the sense she doesn’t know what to say so has opted to say nothing or very little. There seems to be no excitement about this momentous occasion the part of my family. This is in stark contrast to my partner’s family who is excited and enthusiastic. Every single one of my partner’s four siblings is attending and has shown nothing but excitement about the wedding.

Now please understand, I am an adult, 47 years old, and marrying another woman. My family has known about my lifestyle for nearly 20 years and except for their initial discomfort and distress some 19 years ago they have seemed to accept me and the various women I have had in my life over the years. I have participated in their lives and they in mine. Now I don’t know what to think.

I was raised to believe that blood is thicker than water and that you can’t depend on anyone except your family. Recently my father was reminding me, even though it felt like a lecture, that after he and my mother depart this life I only have my sisters to count on. He told me that we need to get along and be there for each other. After all, he said, you only have each other. Throughout my life I have taken these words to heart. While I may not have always been the best sister I have been there in the moments they needed me most and I have shared their joys and sorrows. 

My wedding is one of the most important events of my life. It is something I, as a gay woman, never thought I would have the chance to experience – to marry the person of my choosing and to have our relationship legally and publicly validated- to celebrate our love for each other with friends and family by our side. By her declination my sister is telling me that neither I or my partner are important, that our relationship is meaningless, certainly less meaningful than a softball tournament that a thirteen and ten year old girl have to play in.

To say I am hurt is an understatement.  The pain I feel is deep and unrelenting. I feel such a huge loss and so much grief, it is as if a death has occurred. And it has. I have lost my biological sister. Her decision flies in the face of everything my father taught me about family. It wounds me deep to the core and leaves me feeling sad and alone, as if I don’t have a sister at all. My father was wrong, you can’t count on your sisters.

And so, I have decided to resign from my family. At least from the role of sister. I don’t want to see or talk with my sister. I don’t want her to call or write or even send an email. I no longer want to participate in her life and don’t want her in mine. Harsh, you might say, but I have to protect my heart from further pain. Her decision to attend a youth softball game over my wedding speaks volumes about my place in her heart and her life. If I mean so little to her it is best that we have no relationship at all. Maybe I won’t always feel this way but today that is how I am feeling.

There is a saying “Friends are the family we choose.” And luckily for me I have some of the most incredible friends anyone could ever want. Several of my closest friends are flying in from across the country to celebrate this incredible and important event with me. They are excited and happy for me. One of my best friends who can’t attend because her 86 year old mother is taking her and her family on a cruise, sat down with me the other day and wanted to hear every minute detail about the wedding, from my dress to the napkins, to the schedule of events, so she could have a picture in her mind of the day and share in my joy. Her happiness for me was all over her face and it filled my heart. She insists that I must send her pictures and tells me she will be thinking of me on October 18. She tells me how much she wishes she could be with us and to help us celebrate. Her love and kindness are great gifts to me and I am blessed to have her as my friend. My sister should take a lesson.

In my quietest moments I wonder if I am overreacting. I addressed this with a group of friends this past weekend (when I simply suspected that my sister would make this decision) and to a one they said no, that if she decided to attend a softball game over my wedding it would be wrong and that I would be justified to be hurt and angry.  They wondered why she would ever do that and what was really motivating her decision.  Some asked why my parents weren’t stepping up to the plate to intervene and tell her she needed to be there. Most just simply couldn’t understand why my family isn’t more involved or excited for me. And everyone felt and shared my pain.

Maybe time will heal this wound. Maybe this is the final step on the journey of separation from my family.  I don’t know. I just know that my heart is broken.

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Are you listening?

August 13, 2008

One of my pet peeves is people who do not listen. Sadly, I am finding that this is true of most people. And I just don’t understand it. If you ask someone a question, don’t you want to hear the answer? If you ask someone what you can do to help them and they tell you, why don’t you listen and actually do the thing you have agreed to do?

In my job as Executive Director of a non-profit, I deal with many people on any given day. Some are our customers and some are the volunteers who help keep our organization running.  What frustrates, and at times infuriates me, are those people who do not listen. Time and time again folks ask me a question or sit in a meeting where a topic is discussed ad naseum only to leave the meeting and behave as if it never happened or as if they never heard a word that was said. I find myself repeating myself and the very simple instructions I give people over and over again. And then folks wonder why I am crabbing, upset or just downright bitchy.

I know I am not alone in my feelings nor am I the only person who isn’t heard. And by the way, being heard isn’t the same thing as being listened to. Tune into any one of the numerous psuedo news shows where talking heads are the norm and you will hear those talking heads spewing rhetoric that has nothing, or at least very little, to do with the questions posed to them. And when have you seen a politician actually answer a question that is posed to him?

Children don’t listen to their parents. Spouses don’t listen to each other. Doctors don’t listen to their patients and we all know damn well that insurance companies don’t listen to anyone. And our own government is the worst of all. Once a person gets elected to office, be it local or national, the ability to listen is simply lost. And so our country is leaderless and lacks direction. But who notices? We are all too busy watching our televisions, listening to our ipods or playing with our computers and video games. Attention America – We have an epidemic in this country! It is self-absorption, narcissism, egocentrism and plain old selfishness. People are so engrossed in themselves that they don’t take the time to listen or connect to anyone. I for one am tired of it and am looking for a way to change. Any suggestions?