Posts Tagged ‘Gay Marriage’

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Unbeliveable

April 7, 2009

Who would have believed that Iowa and Vermont would join Massachussettes and Connecticut in permitting Gay Marriage before California. I applaud the courage of the legislature in Vermont in passing Gay Marriage and overriding the Governor’s veto and the Supreme Court of Iowa in their recognition that all of us, gay and straight, are entitled to equal protection and to exercise the most basic of fundamental rights – to love the person of our choosing. Now we only need wait and see if the California Supreme Court has the courage to do the right thing and ensure equality for all Americans.

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The L Word is a Lie

December 5, 2008

About 5 or 6 years ago, the lesbian community rejoiced at the creation of a Showtime original series “The L Word” whose story lines focused on several lesbian characters, their lives and relationships. Every Sunday lesbians across American sat together in living rooms, bars and community centers and watched with deep satisfaction and joy as the lesbian lifestyle was exposed to all of America.  L Word parties became the rage and were the highlight of many a woman’s weekend as well as the hot topic of conversation. Lesbians were finally main stream.

The problem, as I see it, is that the show presents a mythical, fictional and unrealistic view of lesbians and their lives. I mean, come on, have you ever met as many hot, sexy and gorgeous lesbians as the main or supporting characters on the show? Do you know any lesbians who live the kind of life the women on the L Word live? Maybe you will see these types in small numbers at the annual Dinah Shore event in Palm Springs or on occasion in Provincetown, Los Angeles or New York but in my everyday life, I can count the lesbian women I know who look, dress and act like the women on the L Word on one hand, and then using only one or two fingers.

I recently married my partner and we are now one of the 18,000 gay couples who got married in CA before a slim majority of ignorant and bigoted voters passed Prop 8 (it should actually be called Prop Hate) prohibiting gay marriage. For our honeymoon we went on an Olivia Cruise to the Caribbean. In case you don’t know, Olivia cruises are lesbian cruises. Prior to departure we were excited at the prospect of being on a ship with all women, in a community where we could be a couple, hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes at dinner without fear of hateful looks or nasty comments. We could enjoy a real romantic and celebratory honeymoon as a couple and not have to pretend to be roommates or sisters. And, as an added bonus,  having seen footage of Olivia cruises on both the L Word and Work Out, I had a vision that the ship would be filled with beautiful lesbian women such as those featured on both of those shows. For one short week, my wife and I could live the L Word life! Boy was I in for a surprise.

As we embarked on the cruise I looked around at the women on board and thought to myself “The L Word is a LIE!” The majority, and I am talking 80 to 85% of the women on this cruise we not only fat, they were obese. They were not, as a whole, beautiful, hot, sexy or gorgeous. Most had short butchy haircuts. Most were older. Where were the normal looking women? Where were the women like me? I exercise, eat healthy, am fairly attractive, and dress somewhat fashionably. In short, I take care of myself. Before I stepped foot on the ship I thought I would see and meet a lot of women like my wife and myself. This was not to be.

Another thing I found disturbing is how masculine many of the women were.  I am a lesbian because I am attracted to women. I have never understood why a lesbian who purportedly wants to be with another woman would chose to be with a woman who looks like a man. What is up with that? The number of extremely butch and masculine women on this trip astounded me.

Now there is nothing wrong with a woman being athletic, wearing her hair short or having masculine qualities, (I have straight women friends like this) but I really cringe when I see women dressing in men’s clothes and acting like men. I just don’t get it.  On formal night, I was shocked by the number of lesbian women wearing men’s suits, and I mean real men’s suits complete with ties and wing tips. This is not to say that dresses should be required (I only own two and rarely wear them) but couldn’t these women dress in female clothes? Is it lack of self-esteem that drives them to men’s clothes or is it rampant obesity? I guess the obesity should have come as no surprise. After all, nearly two-thirds of Americans are obese or grossly overweight. Why should the lesbian community be immune to the epidemic?

Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the cruise. Olivia is a great company and provides travel opportunities for women in safe, secure and comfortable environments. They have created settings where we can feel free to and simply be ourselves. The company does a great job and I recommend that more lesbians take advantage of the Olivia experience.  But don’t expect to see the type of lesbian community the L Word or Work Out projects. Beautiful, hot, sexy and gorgeous lesbians were in the minority on my cruise. But one thing you can count on, you will feel safe and free to be yourself in a loving and open community.

The point? The L Word IS a lie. Isn’t most everything we see on television or at the movies? If television simply held up a mirror to society, no one would watch. Who among us would watch a show about fat, unattractive lesbians? Every one of us, gay, straight or questioning wants to believe in something better and more beautiful, more perfect than ourselves or our everyday lives. Come the beginning of the final season of the L Word, you will find me and my wife in front of our television every Sunday night imagining ourselves living in the fantasy world created by Showtime.

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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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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.