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January 2017

 

The Year to Be Queer

Why I Am Coming Out Now

Why We Won't Go Back

What Could a Gay Utopia Teach Urban America?

10 Reasons I Will Never Date a Gay for Trump

What Has and Has Not Changed

Still I Rise: A Look at the LGBT Struggle

Sage Advice to Young Queers From a Gay Elder

We're Living LGBT History: Will We Remember It?

 


Why We Won't Go Back

 

December 2016

Jared Milrad / Actor, Writer, Lawyer, Entrepreneur

 

The last decade was a time of historic progress for our country. Now, as 2016 comes to a close, we have come upon an uncertain crossroads: whether to return to a time of even greater discrimination and inequality, or to declare with one clear voice that We Won’t Go Back.

Late in the night of November 8, as I stood beneath the Jacob Javits Center’s towering glass ceiling in Manhattan alongside my husband, Nate, that crossroads came into clear view.  A few steps away, a little girl was sobbing on the floor. She had spent hours coloring a map of the United States, atop which large, colorful crayon print read, “Hillary for President.”  By then, the map had more red than blue, and we realized that little girl’s wishes — and more than half of the country’s — were not to be.  As we exited the building amid fallen American flags and discarded “Clinton/Kaine” buttons, I unconsciously whispered, “It feels like we’re in an alternate universe.”

That sentiment was certainly shared by millions of my fellow citizens November 8. But for me, the outcome of the electoral vote soon felt both very personal and real — that somehow the collective decision of more than 62 million strangers was a recalibration of everything I thought true about my country.  Perhaps this was because, like many other young people, I had volunteered and worked for Barack Obama even before he decided to run for president — holding a “Draft Obama” sign on the frozen streets of Manchester, N.H., working for his campaign in 2008 and 2012, and later in the White House.

Then, on New Year's Eve in 2012, I had asked my fiancé to marry me inside the historic Stonewall Inn, the site of the origin story for the modern LGBTQ movement.  And just over a year before walking inside the Javits Center, I married my husband in front of our friends and family — equal in their eyes, but also equal in the eyes of the country I love.

Suddenly, on November 8, 2016, the progress that I felt in my own life seemed to be reversed by 46 percent of the electorate — and many of the reasons why are well documented.

Donald Trump is assembling one of the most anti-LGBTQ Administrations in modern American history. Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, James Mattis, and many others filling his Cabinet (without even mentioning the abysmal record of Vice President-elect Mike Pence) have categorically opposed equality for years. And then there’s the troubling rise of hate crimes since the election; the disconcerting spike of calls to suicide hotlines, many of them LGBTQ; and the elevation of a candidate who has personally promoted bigotry, misogyny, and division throughout his entire pursuit of elective office.  Surely, these developments were more than enough to keep millions of my peers and me curled up in a fetal position for a few days in early November.

Yet in the thick of my vow never to leave my house again, I was reminded of the words of the legendary LGBTQ activist Sylvia Rivera: “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.”   Said differently: We Won’t Go Back.

Surely, those four words must have motivated great Americans like Sylvia, when she rioted for justice in front of Stonewall; they must have inspired Harvey Milk when he confronted likely death to tell us that we must “never be silent”; and they surely gave James Baldwin solace when he said, bravely, “Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?”

For me, We Won’t Go Back not only summed up the LGBTQ struggle to come — but the African-American, Latino, immigrant, American, and human struggle as well.  As soon as I said those four words out loud at the end of that long week in November, I again found hope. So I created a campaign with the same name — to give Americans of all backgrounds the opportunity to fight for the highest ideals of the country they love.

We Won’t Go Back is now a place to contact our elected officials; to support the causes we believe in; to organize, volunteer, and get registered to vote; and to build an inclusive, hopeful future.  Most importantly, I hope We Won’t Go Back enables new voices to be heard and stories to be told. Using #WeWontGoBack, you can tweet, write, or record a video telling the world why you won’t go back, what you’re fighting for, and what’s at stake for you, your family, and your community.

As one of our supporters said, “I won’t go back because I’ve fought so long to be here.”  Indeed, we all have — and we’ve come too far to turn back now.
 

LINK:

 

Advocate: Why We Won't Go Back

 


Current Comments

 

December 2016

 

Open Letter to the Queer Community

Trans People Are Not a Threat to You

92 Year Old Woman Holds Same Sign for 30 Years

TED Talk: LGBT Life Around the World

Advocate Mag: The Acronym Struggle is Real

My Dad Says You're a Fag

I Refuse to be Scared Back Into the Closet

Gender Neutral Pronouns: My Personal Pep Talk

If You Think Trans Bathroom Access Doesn't Matter...

The LGBT Movement is in Chaos

What it Means to Be Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming

Homophobes & Transphobes are Destroying America

92 Year Old Mom of 2 Lesbian Daughters Participates in NYC Pride Parade for 30 Years

 


Here’s Why We Grieve Today

 

November 2016

John Pavlovitz / Pastor of North Raleigh Community Church

 

I don’t think you understand us right now. I think you think this is about politics. I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer.  I can only tell you that you’re wrong. This is not about losing an election. This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

 

Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.

 

Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation, and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

 

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed pussy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote:

 

Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated.  Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed.  Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on.  Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American.

 

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.  We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

 

Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so. Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted. Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery. Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages.  Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.

 

This has never been about politics.

This is not about one candidate over the other.

It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.

It is not blue vs. red.

It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.

It’s not her dishonesty vs. his indecency.

It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.

It’s about religion being weaponized.

It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.

It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.

It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

 

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance, it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside. That is the most horrific thing of all. We now know how close this.

 

It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

 

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over. It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people, not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

 

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today. As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are, and we said no.

 

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon.  And this is why we grieve.

 

(From John Pavlovitz, Pastor, North Raleigh Community Church, November 9, 2016)

 


Religion is Not a Reason to Discriminate

 

June 2016

Chandler Gory / Crimson White, University of Alabama


Who needs a time machine when you can read the news or scroll through some Facebook comments and find yourself smack dab in the 1950s? Ah the sweet smell of racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, you-name-it-phobia and milkshakes in the morning. Sadly, acceptance for minority groups in America, especially the LGBTA+ community hasn’t made much progress in the recent years. There’s a whole boatload of legislation that’s been passed in an attempt to protect Americans from discrimination. Just go onto Wikipedia and you’ll see that the United States has the longest list of antidiscrimination acts, bills, and amendments out of any other country listed. But none of them federally protect members of the LGBTA+ community.


According to the United States Department of Labor, “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, or ethnic origin.” The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prevents discrimination against employees 40 years and older. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of disabilities and requires that employers reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities who can otherwise perform a job. Under federal law, you can’t be discriminated against for almost anything, except your sexual orientation or gender identity.
 

In many states, a person could marry someone of the same gender and then turn around and be fired, evicted from their apartment, or denied a home loan. It doesn’t make very much sense. Though some states have passed laws protecting LGBTA+ individuals from discrimination, many states, my native Alabama included, are a little slow on the uptake.

The Bible Belt, arguably the most conservative area of the country, leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to non-discrimination laws for LGBTA+ individuals. And it’s partly because religion is the name of the game. Churches may be the only things in Alabama that outnumber Alexander Shunnarah billboards. People from all over Alabama head to their church on Sunday and spend a few hours throwing their arms towards Heaven and shouting Hallelujah. I know that there are many, many religious individuals and religious organizations that respect LGBTA+ individuals, but there are also many that don’t. And though I’m not religious, I completely and totally respect people’s customs and beliefs. I understand that it’s central to many people’s lives and existences. I don’t, however, think that religion should be an outlet for discrimination.
 

People carry their First Amendment rights around in their pockets like a secret weapon. They whip them out any time they need to defend saying something bigoted. People make the argument that, because of their religious freedoms enumerated under the First Amendment, they’re allowed to discriminate against members of the gay community. But that’s just not true. No one has the right to violate someone’s civil rights in the name of religion. Every religious
person and organization has the right to control their own personal beliefs and ceremonies, but their right to religious freedom ends as soon as they begin harming others. And harming others goes way past physical harm. Making a wedding cake for a gay couple or letting a gay couple eat in your restaurant doesn’t infringe on your religious freedom. Government must stay out of churches, synagogues, and mosques. Consequently, religious institutions must be kept from intruding on public life.
 

Discriminating against someone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity in the name of religion isn’t right. Trying to push your religious beliefs onto LGBTA+ people by refusing them service is the same as discriminating against someone because they are black, Latino, or Muslim. The federal government has to pass laws to protect the LGBTA+ community from blatant discrimination, because at the heart of all discrimination is homophobia, and covering up homophobia by invoking religious beliefs is cowardly and wrong.

 

(From Crimson White, UA Campus Publication, Chandler Gory)

 


The LGBTQ Movement is Not Just About Sexuality

 

January 2016

Stephanie Farnsworth

 

For a great number of people their sexual orientation does match their romantic orientation -- but not always. The LGBTQ+ movement has managed to conflate sexual and romantic orientation through the decades and yet this risks leaving many people confused about where exactly they fit.

The narrow definitions and conflation of identities have been so clearly shown by the treatment of aromantic and asexual people within the LGBTQ+ community. Aro and ace communities have been far better at recognizing different nuances of identities than the wider LGBTQ+ movement. The grey scale is a term in itself which clearly shows the wonderful world of complicated and personal identities. It is an acceptance that there are not just 'on' or 'off' switches with sexuality and romantic experiences. Yet ace and aro people face erasure regularly within the LGBTQ+ community. Conversations are designed around sexuality, the right to always have sex but excluding those who do not have the same desires. It is all about sex with members of the same gender. Queer spaces are so often simply pulling spaces, particularly when centerd around alcohol.

LGBTQ+ people do need places to fulfill sexual and romantic desires free from harassment but that shouldn't be the sole focus of spaces claiming to be for all identities. We also need to address our terms, not only is crying that we're for 'the freedom of love' incorrect as it erases trans people, but it also erases aromantic people which immediately says that this movement is not for them.

The shift to make LGBTQ+ politics respectable has risked abandoning many people who should be embraced into the community. The constant focus on presenting LGBTQ+ people as always in stable, loving, same gender relationships (especially marriages) and with children presents a very one dimensional idea of who belongs in this community. If you don't want a romantic relationship but just want sexual partners then there is the implication that you're doing harm to the reputation of the community. If you don't want sexual relationships with someone of the same gender then the implication is you don't fit in at all. Everything is designed around making LGBTQ+ people's presentation as acceptable as possible to cisgender heterosexual people.

This is also an issue for many who do not identify as asexual or aromantic. For instance: it is entirely possible to experience sexual attraction to one gender but romantic attraction to another gender. One may be heterosexual but that doesn't mean that are automatically heteroromantic. I myself am bisexual yet homoromantic (although because I experience romantic attraction exclusively to women then that means I often find far more acceptance in the LGBTQ+ community than other bisexual women I know because they are heteroromantic).

The LGBTQ+ world has become a marketing machine. Our images and PR campaigns whether it comes to marriage equality or floats at Pride have become carefully crafted over the years. Gone are the radical political elements that wanted to smash binaries and capitalism and in its place is the LGBTQ+ happy family presented in a very narrow and manipulated way.

LGBTQ+ organizations have become solely focussed on selling the Disney story: where two white, middle class cis guys or two cis girls fall in love, get married and have wonderful children. We've forgotten why we started this fight. It was not for cis, straight, white, middle class people to finally be able to tolerate us but for the complete liberation from narrow binaries and prejudices that dominate society. It was not just for 'gay love' but for people to be treated and recognized as human beings who deserve nothing more or less than total respect for their identities. It was for all those outside of the norms society tried to force upon us and that includes all of the variations of sexual and romantic attractions that are not solely heterosexual or heteroromantic.

 

(From Huffingtron Post / Stephanie Farnsworth / Charity Worker and LGBTQ Rights Activist / Follow Stephanie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephFarnsworth)

 


Thoughtful Commentary

 

December 2015

 

Deciding Who We Are

The Frozen Conflict of LGBT Rights

Coming out as a Christian

Where Would MLK Have Stood on Marriage Equality?

Kissing in Public

The LGBTQ Movement is Not Just About Sexuality

Thank God I'm Gay

The People for Whom Human Rights Have No Meaning

Celebrating Marriage Equality

Drag Queen Delivers Great Speech About Homophobia

Dear Newlywed LGBT Couples: What You Should Know About Life After the Wedding

 


Reaction to DOMA Ruling

 

June 2013

John Archibald / Birmingham News

 

I was maybe 11 years old when my mom sat me down to talk about my brother, Murray. It was the 70s, in the parsonage of First United Methodist Church of Decatur, where my dad served as senior pastor. "Do you know what a homosexual is?" my mom asked. My first reaction, of course, was Dear God, No! I didn't want this conversation, I didn't need this conversation, I wanted to be anywhere but there, talking homosexual with my mom.
But I nodded, and my mother went on.  "Murray has told your father and me that he is, homo...er, well,... gay," she said.  "I'm not sure what it all means, but he is still your brother – our son – and nothing has changed. We love him."  And that was it. Forever.

 


 

(Pictured here: John Archibald's Father on the right and his bother Murray on the left.)

 

So forgive me today if I do not quote legal experts on what will happen now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Forgive me if I do not consider the implications in Alabama or beyond, if I don't ponder the future of wedded bliss in America, or in Alabama, where enchantment for marriage is matched only by addiction to divorce.  Because I can't see the issue without seeing ... family.
 

It became clearer last week as we buried my father. The funeral was right back there at First United Methodist in Decatur.  And Steve Elkins, my brother's monogamous partner since I was 15 years old, sang "Shepherd Me O God" at the funeral. And it was beautiful. And Murray spoke from that pulpit where dad so often preached. And it was beautiful, too. He told of dad's discipline and his ethics, his love for his God and his family. And then, right there in a Southern church in the utter silence, he described bringing Steve home to meet the family 35 years ago.


Dad and mom welcomed him the same way they would later welcome my own wife and the spouses of my other siblings.  And it kept a family alive. It kept a family together. It even restored my own brother's faith.
"During a period in my life when I felt that the church had turned its back on me, I never felt that from my dad," Murray said from that pulpit. "And the strong faith and deep relationship I have with God today is built on his example."

 

Dad – good old, old school dad – would never think of himself as a bold fighter for social justice. He did not speak often of Murray being gay, except that once when he gathered the strength to stand before thousands of Methodist preachers debating the acceptance of gays. He argued for equality by stating his undying belief that Jesus is love. And love is unconditional. It was a losing argument, as it turned out. But it was enough for us.
 

So forgive me today if I don't see a threat to the sacrament of marriage. Forgive me if I cannot see the looming danger of allowing gay people in committed relationships the same privileges awarded the rest of us. Because I see only my brother and the man I've considered a brother-in-law for 70 percent of my life. I see the best uncles my children could know. I see Murray and Steve, and when I do, I see a lot more than gay men. I see a family.
 

(From John Archibald  /  His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Birmingham News, and on AL.com / Email him at jarchibald@al.com)

 


You've Had All of Recorded History to Come Up With a Reason Why Gays Can't Marry

 

April 2013

Larry Womack / Huffington Post

 

Something very important happened on Bill O'Reilly's show this week that I'd like you to consider for just a moment. The current conservative case against same-sex marriage was laid out, and it is...     We'll come up with something later alright, you can't just spring this on us, OMG leave us alone already, we'll do it okay!

A quick recap, for context: O'Reilly had come under fire for observing -- quite rightly, I might add -- that his fellow conservatives have yet to offer a compelling case against gay marriage. He noted that, instead of offering substantive arguments, conservatives simply "thump the Bible." Laura Ingraham dropped by to say that she wasn't personally offended by his wording, but that O'Reilly shouldn't poo-poo everyone's awesome future anti-equality arguments just because they do not yet exist.

In Ingraham's exact words: "Give it some time to percolate. People will come up with better arguments."

Rationalizing bigotry is hard, man.  To continue her metaphor: Ingraham hasn't yet smelled the coffee. Actually, I suspect that she has. She just doesn't want to get out of bed yet.  Do take a moment to watch the clip, though. The explanation comes at about 6:09 into the video. It only takes a few seconds if you skip ahead. Go ahead. I'll still be here when you get back.

Note also how casually she says it. It doesn't read like she's announcing on live television that conservatives are struggling to find a reason to justify prejudice so much as like she's telling a shop girl that she lost the receipt but will gladly take store credit.  It should go without saying that if you don't have a reason for doing something as serious as denying one group of human beings of over a thousand legal rights, you probably shouldn't do it. It should. But in the year 2013, in the United States of America, it does not. Here and now, "I have no reason," is the new reason. It was even suggested in the Supreme Court oral arguments last week.

The excuse for holding a position with no rational basis behind it is that the very concept of same-sex marriage is somehow just too new, too alien to have been properly considered. Anti-equality forces can only assure us that once we have weighed their forthcoming argument, we will be solidly on their side.

At this point I feel someone should observe that same-sex unions are just about the least new thing about our current definition of marriage.  A few years back I was struck by a somewhat off-hand comment I read in, of all places, Charlotte Chandler's biography of Mae West. In interviews conducted shortly before her death, West recalled: I had homosexuals I knew tell me that their dearest desire was to marry their lover of the same sex. It didn't satisfy them just to live together, as if they were married. They were more anxious to be legally married than a lot of man-woman couples I knew. Certainly more anxious than I ever was to be married.

Apparently there are no Mae West fans on the Supreme Court. I guess that's not such a surprise. Delivering this line to a real judge helped land her in jail in 1927.  What's interesting is that Mae West was born in 1893. She was recalling all of this in either 1980 or the late 1970s. But while the thought of same-sex marriage was undoubtedly outside of West's time, it was also not exclusively ahead of it. After all, gay marriage has been happening just about as long as straight marriage -- and not just in old Mel Brooks movies.

When anti-equality Christians are forced to acknowledge gay marriage in history, they usually go right to Nero, who viciously persecuted Christians -- and married two men. So did Elagabalus (yep, two,) and his reputation is nearly as bad, depending on which historian is doing the analysis. But these are, obviously, calculated, aberrant examples.

While it is likely that no copies of the Roman daily Acta Diurna survive, the infamously homophobic Juvenal lamented the regularity of its gay wedding announcements. It's a little surprising, in fact, that Juvenal isn't more of a hero to paleo-conservatives -- after all, he was railing against foreigners and gays when certain contemporaries were conspicuously silent on these core Christian issues. Combine this with his claim that young male sex partners were preferable to those damned demanding women and one gets the sense that, had he been born 2,000 years later, he could very well have been a United States Senator.

Available records show the same thing all over the world and throughout human history. Pan Zhang famously married Wang Zhongxian a thousand years before Christ and Nero. This is probably a work of fiction, of course, but one that shows gay marriage was not unheard of in the early Zhou Dynasty. Eusebius, Aristotle and Bardaisan all write that the Gauls honored same-sex marriage. Native American tribes are known to have performed same-sex unions. And, of course, same-sex marriage wasn't banned in Rome until well into its decline -- just six decades before the barbarians crossed the Rhine. Even in the face of church prohibition, it went on. Surviving documents suggest that gay marriage was still common in late medieval France. Basically, if we have records of marriage in a given culture, we probably have records of same-sex marriage in it, too.

That's a rather rushed history, and one that I'm sure historians would love to nitpick and expound on, but my overall point is that conservatives have had all of recorded history to come up with a compelling argument against gay marriage. If Laura Ingraham can't come up with one in 2013, I'd say it's about time to give it up.

Certainly they've had the entire history of democratic debate. After all, if Harmodius had not spurned Hipparchus for Aristogeiton, Hipparchus probably wouldn't have publicly humiliated Harmodius' sister, the gay lovers might never have killed the tyrant and Athenian democracy might not have happened. Do consider that next time gay rights land on your ballot.

Instead of using all that time to come up with an argument, however, anti-equality forces have chosen to simply re-write history as their argument. Mitt Romney was probably the most daring offender, brazenly standing on stage and declaring to the world that marriage had been "between one man and one woman," for 3,000 years. Then 6,000. I like to imagine that he has doubled it each time he made the claim, his starting point having been the moment his father was born in a polygamist colony, with at least six known grandmothers. (I don't know how many wives his mother's father had, but his father's father had five.) Hell, even that Bible O'Reilly accused people of thumping records the polygamous marriages of Abraham, Jacob, Saul, David (that one's tricky,) Solomon, Lamech, Gideon, Esau, Rehoboam, Elkanah, Ashur, Abijah, Jehoiada, Ahab, Caleb, Simeon, Ezra, Zedekiah, Belshazzar, Jerahmeel, Ahasuerus, Joash, Eliphaz, Mered, Jehoram, Ashur, Machir, Benhadad, Nahor, Jehoiachin, Manasseh, and maybe Moses.

Let's face it: marriage ain't what it used to be, and for damn good reason. Human history probably shouldn't be our guide when it comes to matters of human rights. But it also shouldn't be misrepresented to excuse prejudice when no other rationalization presents itself.

So, here's what I'm going to do, because the other side won't. I'm going to tell you the two main reasons people are against gay marriage.

The first is the unspoken belief that straight people are just better than gay people. The prospect of losing privileged status really freaks some people out. That is the position from which idiots like this approach issues of gender, race, class, nationality, sexual orientation and anything else that can be summarized as "us vs them." It's ugly and, when people see it in the mirror, they usually change their mind.

The second is the belief that Ingraham seems to hold: that societies are just stronger if they adhere to certain traditions and customs, even when those customs harm some individuals. There is some value to tradition, of course, but this is dangerous (and uneven) territory. So we require laws that limit individual rights to serve a legitimate state interest.

On the topic of same-sex marriage, prohibition just doesn't pass muster. Bill O'Reilly knows it. Laura Ingraham knows it. At this point, everyone knows it -- they're just afraid of what Alabama will do when it finds out. O'Reilly is willing to say it and, for that, he should be commended.

Still, it's a little difficult not to enjoy O'Reilly's headache as the latest victim of the "oppressed Christian" outrage machine just a little. After all, his outlandish annual "War on Christmas" coverage is one long parade of imagined sleights against Christians, usually aimed at people who are actually just trying to be considerate and inclusive. Sounds a lot like what's happening to him right now. Except, of course, that unlike school administrators in towns you've never heard of, he probably enjoys the attention.

We can't be too hard on the guy when we're thinking about history, though. Just as there were gays and homophobes, immigrants and xenophobes throughout history, so too have there been Santas and Scrooges. Though Caesar induced vomiting to continue feasting and Cicero showered his soldiers with generosity at the end of each December, Martial complained about cheap presents and re-gifting. Libanius took the opposite view, directing his outrage at all the consumerism. "People suddenly go mad," he wrote one fourth century December, "and blow what they took a year to save."

So the good news is that if O'Reilly doesn't want to talk about gay marriage anymore, there's still no end in sight to that War on Saturnalia. History, eh?

 

(From Huffington Post)

 

LINK:

 

Huffington Post: Larry Womack's Commentary
 


Top Ten Arguments Against Gay Marriage

You Tube Tribute to Gay Pride

Same Sex Marriage Debate on Meet-the-Press

My 8-Year Old Mentee Told Me: I Hate Homos

My Coming Out Story: One Heterosexual Christian Minister's Response to Homosexuality

Sometimes I Wish I Was a Lesbian

50 Pro-LGBT Companies

 


Coming Out as Straight

 

April 2013

Malcolm Marler


My Coming Out Story: One Christian Minister’s Response to Homosexuality

I have been wanting to say this publicly for most of my adult life, but I have been afraid to admit this to myself, to my loved ones and to my friends. I was afraid what my family would think or say or do. I did not want to hurt them. I’ve always wanted them to be proud of me. I’ve tried hard to be who they wanted me to be. But, I have to be who I am, who I believe God created me to be.

I know that some of you have been wondering about my sexual orientation. I have wanted to be truthful about my feelings from the time I went to seminary, became a pastor in rural Kentucky, and worked on the church staff of two churches full-time in Kentucky and Connecticut. What I am trying to say is I know that at least a few of you have wondered if I am straight or gay for all of these years especially since I worked as a Chaplain in an HIV/AIDS clinic for 15 years.  So, during this month of my 35th anniversary of my ordination in full-time ministry, I have decided to come out of the closet.  Here goes. Deep breath.

I am straight. There, I said it. It is true, I am a heterosexual. While I prefer you refer to me as “straight,” I know others are more comfortable with the term “heterosexual” or “hetero.” Either are better than some names I’ve heard. Some of you are probably saying you knew it all along and it does not come as a surprise to you. For others, I realize this may come as a shock and I hope and pray you will still love me regardless. I am the same person you have known for all these years. But from this day forward, I’m not looking back. I’m choosing to move forward as a child of God.  Maybe one of the easiest ways I can answer many of your questions is to just answer the TOP TEN questions I have been asked over the years.

1. When did you first decide to become a heterosexual?   I knew in the first grade when I loved sitting by Andrea in our reading group in elementary school in Montgomery. We even secretly told one another we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but neither of us knew what that meant so nothing happened. I have felt this attraction towards girls for as long as I can remember.

2. What do you think caused you to be a heterosexual?   Now that I am in my 50′s, I see life differently than I when I was younger. I look back and believe God created me to be a “hetero.” I always had a very close relationship with my mother. Tragically she died when I was ten and I used to think I was maybe straight because I’ve always wanted to love a woman the way I loved her, since she was the center of my universe. But now I know that her death was not the cause of me becoming a heterosexual. I have been this way all my life.

3. Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase that will change?   No, it is not a phase. I can’t imagine what it is like being with a man sexually. It is very natural for me to be attracted to a woman.

4. If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex, how do you know you wouldn’t prefer that?   Well, that’s personal. But let me put it this way, I just don’t have the sexual attraction and desire for a person of the same gender, though I have many close friends who are male. Does that make sense?

5. Why do you heterosexuals insist on flaunting public displays of affection with a partner?   I agree it is uncomfortable for me when I see people hanging all over each another in public. I recently sat behind a man and woman in church, and they either had their arms around each other or held hands during the whole service. It was distracting. But I do admit I like to hold my partner’s hand when we walk together, or give her a little kiss on the lips when I am leaving home or when I see her initially in public. I don’t mean to be offensive with my PDA, it just the way I feel.

6. Why are heterosexuals so promiscuous?   I admit that many fellow heterosexuals are promiscuous and they get a lot of media attention. Politicians, sports figures, movie stars, and clergy do not always help our reputation as straight folks. Of course, I can only speak for me. I have been faithful to my partner.

7. What do you believe the Bible and God thinks about heterosexuals?  Well, I believe that God loves all of God’s creation. Since I’m a Christian, I believe God loved me so much that God sent God’s Son to show me and others how we should live. I know God must be disappointed with many of us as heterosexuals. We all fall short. All of us. I am thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness.

8. How can you enjoy a fully satisfying sexual experience with a person of the opposite sex when the physical, biological, and psychological differences between you are so great?  No comment. Next question.

9. Why do you think heterosexuals are so unhappy?  There are many reasons straight people are unhappy. Sometimes we try to find happiness in what we can buy, or through sex, or drugs, or alcohol. Sometimes we are unhappy because we are disconnected from our Creator. I can think of hundreds of reasons why heterosexuals are unhappy, as well as a few homosexuals I know.

10. Why are heterosexuals always trying to seduce others into their sexual orientation?  I have never tried to seduce another person to change them into being a heterosexual. I can only speak for myself.

So there it is for all the world to see in bold letters: MALCOLM MARLER IS A HETEROSEXUAL.  I hope you will still love me, because this is who I am. We all want to love someone, and want to be loved by our beloved.  Thanks for listening.

 

LINK:

 

My Coming Out Story: One Heterosexual Christian Minister's Response to Homosexuality

 

 


Witness to Extraordinary History

 

December 2012

Chris Gregoire / Governor of Washington

 

We have few occasions in life to be witness to extraordinary history. This is one of those days. Today same-sex couples in Washington are getting married under a law approved by the voters. For the first time in the United States, their marriage is legal not because of actions by legislatures or courts but because their equal rights were affirmed by their peers across the state at the ballot box. That shift is momentous and one of which I am incredibly proud.

 

 

On election night I was overcome by emotion as I took the stage for a celebration of our state's same-sex marriage efforts. I looked out over a crowd of several thousand who had fought so hard for this moment. They were young and old, families and couples, military members past and present, businesspeople and public servants, of all races and all backgrounds, and for the first time marriage equality was within their reach. It was the most memorable moments in my 20 years in elected office.

 

Like any journey, ours was one of a million steps by thousands of everyday people. Nearly 25 years ago Washington elected the first openly gay member of our legislature, Cal Anderson. Today, 17 years after his death, Cal's dream has been realized. We stand on his shoulders and the shoulders of so many who brought us to this point.

 

 

In Seattle the first couple to receive their marriage license had been together for 35 years. Today, after a very long engagement, they are getting married. Across Washington similar stories abound. Hundreds stood in line overnight so that they would not have to wait a moment longer for the rights they deserve. Within the first 24 hours more than 800 same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses.

 

Just as importantly, the voters have told all our families that they are equal under the law. They told the children of same-sex families that their parents' love is not different. To the parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children, Washington said they, too, will someday witness their son's or daughter's wedding. And we told the young people out there who are wondering about their future that it does in fact get better, that they will have the chance to grow up in a state that loves and values them for who they are, not for whom they love.

 

 

As my own daughters taught me, this is indeed the civil rights issue of our time. There will come a time when, across our country, the ability to marry the person you love will not be an issue. Future generations will look back and wonder why we ever denied this basic human right. We can't rest until that moment. I will be with you every step of the way.

 

(From Huffington Post)

 

LINKS:

 

Huffington Post: Message From Washington Governor
George Will: Opposition to Gay Marriage is Dying
Poll Finds Most Americans Support Gay Marriage

 


Gay is Good for America

 

September 2012

Nathaniel Frank / Slate Magazine


At their convention, Democrats finally say it loud and clear.  More than a dozen speakers mentioned LGBT equality on the first two nights of the Democratic convention, including Michelle Obama, who positioned marriage equality as a new ingredient of American greatness: “If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.” Openly gay speakers are getting primetime billing. A record-setting 8 percent of delegates are LGBT. The party’s unprecedented embrace of gay equality comes a week after Joe Biden thanked gay rights advocates in Provincetown for “freeing the soul of the American people.” The gay rights movement, said the vice president, was advancing the “civil rights of every straight American.” For gay people’s “courage,” he said, “We owe you.”

 

There you have it: For the first time ever, Democrats at their most public, high-profile moment are treating gay rights as a political winner. They’re moving along with public opinion: In the latest Harris Interactive poll, 52 percent of likely voters favored same-sex marriage, including 70 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents.

 

 

If the gay love affair is part political calculation, it also reflects a lesson from both American history and queer theory: minorities need not always conform to the majority, and their advances can actually make things better for everyone. This message helps rewrite the false script conservatives have created (with too much help from liberals) that representing the needs of minorities is mere interest-group politics, the doling out of goodies in exchange for votes.

 

Instead, equality is increasingly—and correctly—cast as a means of improving not only the lot of minorities, but the country for us all. New York magazine recently reported the trend of a growing number of straight couples quoting gay marriage court decisions in their own wedding ceremonies. Expanding access appears to be rejuvenating rather than destroying the institution. As Slate reported earlier this year, statistics bear this out. The marriage rate in Massachusetts, the first state to allow gay couples to wed, actually went up in the years same-sex marriage became legal, even adjusting for the initial 16 percent increase caused by pent-up demand by gay couples waiting to wed. What’s more, in each of the five states that legalized same-sex marriage starting in 2004, divorce rates dropped even while the average rate across the country rose. These figures give the lie to breathless warnings that same-sex marriage will harm marriage. Also, an estimated 2 million kids have a parent who is LGBT, and a subset of them have two gay parents who are raising them together—for all the reasons conservatives praise marriage, these kids benefit when their parents can make their commitments legal, another benefit to LGBT equality that goes beyond the rights of gays themselves.

 

Add to the list the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy deprived the nation of thousands of capable service members across its 17 years—on average, two were kicked out every day, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Many were mission-critical specialists with skills like Arabic translation and counterterrorism expertise. Today our military can harness that talent. And now that the controversy has been resolved, elite colleges that used to supply our military with top talent are again welcoming recruiters whom they’d moved off campus due to their discriminatory policy.

 

Equal rights fosters openness, which has positive fallout of its own. There are no doubt fewer sham marriages than there were in the 1950s. Gay-straight friendships are more authentic without a lifelong secret blocking discussion about love and intimacy. Straight men are likely more forgiving of their own nonconformist impulses—perhaps including passing same-sex desires. Parents have fewer estranged relations with sons and daughters whose deepest secrets and fears they once could never know, and whose struggles with depression and loneliness they sought in vain to understand. And the nation has embarked on an important discussion about bullying and youth suicide that stands to have real benefits for all young people, not just LGBT ones, who feel despair because they sense they are different or alone.

 

The principle that minority equality helps the majority was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most important insights during the black civil rights movement. “The stirring lesson of this age,” King declared, “is that mass nonviolent direct action is not a peculiar device for Negro agitation,” but a “method for defending freedom and democracy, and for enlarging these values for the benefit of the whole society.” As the historian, Taylor Branch has explained, “The civil rights movement liberated segregationists themselves,” just as King had theorized. Racial terrorism dropped and integration led to business growth and a decline in poverty. Enfranchised black voters helped revive a genuine two-party political system in the South as the politics of white supremacy faded. Meritocracy replaced arbitrary exclusion.

 

In 2009, Brent Childers, a Southern Baptist and onetime anti-gay bigot, wrote movingly in Newsweek of the kind of personal liberation that both King and Biden described: “Once I walked away from the Church’s teachings of rejection and condemnation [of gay people], my relationship with God transcended to a higher spiritual plateau.” Childers’ religious transformation is a secular experience for many others. But the point is the same. Americans suffer for holding prejudices that we know enough to shed. The souls of Americans really do need freeing. And the battle for gay rights is helping. It’s good for the Democrats that they’ve figured this out. More importantly, it's good for the country.

 


Discrimination is Immoral

 

Matt Foreman / Executive Director

National Gay And Lesbian Task Force
 

I'm hearing both gay and straight people say that the long string of losses we've faced at the polls around marriage equality are really our own fault; our community pushed too hard and too fast, they argue. The prominent theme being generated is that we have failed to "educate" the public about who we really are and get beyond the stereotypes of leather people, butch dykes, circuit boys and drag queens – and that it is now our obligation to reintroduce ourselves to the American people. I also repeatedly hear that it's up to us to reframe the terms of the debate away from "moral values" to simpler concepts, such as fairness, which polls indicate resonate most with the public.
 

I disagree. This is nothing more than the blame-the-victim mentality afflicting our nation generally and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement specifically.  Rather than reframing the debate away from moral values, we must embrace them. Or more precisely, the utter immorality of the escalating attacks against LGBT people. And, equally, the utter immorality in the failure of so many people of good will to stand with us. It is time for us to seize the moral high ground and state unambiguously that anti-gay discrimination in any form is immoral.

 


Webster's defines discrimination as "unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice." By any measure, LGBT people are targets of discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. FBI statistics show that more people are being murdered because of their sexual orientation than for any other bias reason. Our young people are still routinely bullied in schools. The examples of injustices in the area of partner and family recognition are too many to list.  No thinking or feeling person can deny these realities, which, as always, fall hardest on LGBT people of color and those who are poor.
 

But, alarmingly, rather than seeing a groundswell of support for measures to combat these injustices, the opposite is occurring. In Congress and in statehouses nationwide, it's rhetorical and legislative open season on LGBT people. For example, over the last nine months, anti-marriage state constitutional amendments were put on the ballot in 14 states, 10 of which also prohibit the recognition of any form of relationship between people of the same gender. It's likely another 12 states will have similar measures on the ballot within 3 years. Nothing like this has happened since the Constitution was ratified in 1791 – essentially a national referendum inviting the public to vote to deprive a small minority of Americans of rights the majority takes for granted and sees as fundamental.
 

And who's been there to fight these amendments? Basically us, the very minority under attack. Mainstream media and churches are largely silent to our opponents' lies. Most progressive organizations and political campaigns, meanwhile, steer clear. There have been sterling exceptions, but they have been few and far between.
 

Many people who see themselves as supporters of equal rights for all tolerate this because they believe prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation is profoundly different than that based on race or religion – that it comes from an understandable disapproval of our behavior – not on some "immutable characteristic." Homosexual behavior, they feel, is "unnatural" (doesn't the Bible say so?). Pundits say there is an "ick" factor – that the thought of gay sex revolts non-gay people, and that this seemingly innate reaction is proof there is something wrong with homosexuality.
 

 

This rationale is hardly unique to gay people. Scholars point to comparable "ick" sentiments about Irish immigrants in the 1880s, and describe how in preceding generations sexual ideology was used to strengthen control over slaves and to justify the taking of Native American lands, and that for centuries Jews were associated with disease and urban degeneration.  Fact is, there is no justification for anti-gay prejudice; the "justifications" for it are as unfounded as those used to support the second-class treatment of other minorities in past generations.  So, what needs to be done?
 

First, everyone must realize that when straight people say gay people should not have the freedom to marry, they are saying we are not as good or deserving as they are. It's that simple, no matter how one attempts to sugarcoat it.  This is unacceptable – and it is immoral.
 

Second, while we should talk to straight people honestly about our lives, we must flatly reject the notion that we are somehow to blame for all of this because we have not effectively communicated our "stories" to others. Fundamentally, it is not our job to prove to others that we can be good neighbors, good parents, and that gee whiz, we're actually people too.

 

Third, equality will remain elusive if we keep relying on intellectualized arguments or by dryly cataloguing, for example, each of the 1,138 federal rights and responsibilities we are forced to forgo due to marriage inequality.

 

The other side goes for the gut; it's now our turn.  In this vein, we must put others on the spot to stand up and fight for us. As the cascade of lies pours forth from the Anti-Gay Industry, morality demands that non-gay people speak out with the same vehemence as they would if it was another minority under attack. Ministers and rabbis must be challenged with the question, "Where is your voice?" Elected officials who meet with and attend events of the Anti-Gay Industry, must be met with the challenge, "How can you do that!? How is that public service?"


The orchestrated campaign to deny us jobs, family recognition, children, and housing is immoral. Silently bearing witness to this discrimination is immoral.  America is in the midst of another ugly chapter in its struggle with the forces of bigotry. People of good will can either rise up to speak for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Americans, or look back upon themselves 20 years from now with deserved shame.
 


Affirming LGBT Youth


Michael Lebeau / ALGBTICAL Past President

In response to groups and organizations that insist sexual orientation is a conscious choice and that gays and lesbians need to be rehabilitated, LGBT advocacy groups are compelled to offer strong protest against efforts that would seek to demean lesbian and gay people.  Moreover, in the interest of airing an alternate perspective, these gay advocacy groups would like to provide further information on the much misunderstood subject of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Professional advocacy organizations like the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama would like to suggest that supportive and respectful approaches to dealing with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are more helpful and less harmful than the judgmental and demeaning approaches offered by groups intent on promoting their own narrow ideological agenda.

 

Young people, and indeed people of all ages, who are confused about or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity often feel alienated and marginalized by the systematic demonization sponsored by groups whose ignorance of and insensitivity to the complexities of sexual orientation and gender identity foster an atmosphere of oppression and hatred.  Heterosexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression lead to discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, harassment, and violence.

 

Local gay advocacy groups have been working diligently for some time now to address the critical issues of bullying in the schools, harassment on the college campuses, intolerance in the communities, and discrimination in the workplace.  Various Safe Zone programs and Gay Straight Student Alliances throughout the area provide much needed support.  Such organizations as Equality Alabama, the Alabama Safe Schools Coalition, and PFLAG, and indeed many local churches and religious organizations, have been providing intervention programs, critical resources, and accurate information to students, adults, workers, parents, and teachers seeking support regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. 

 

While research on the subject is not complete, it certainly is extensive.  Many scientific and medical professionals agree that sexual orientation is not a choice.  Nor is it a disease, illness, dysfunction, or disability.  It is not abnormal or unnatural.  It is not an ailment or condition that requires therapy, repair, healing, or conversion.  Such professional groups as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Counseling Association, along with countless others, support a more enlightened understanding of the sensitive issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

ALGBTICAL is committed to facilitating and promoting the fullest, possible development of each individual and works to reduce the barriers of misinformation, myth, ignorance, hatred, and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  

 

Many internal and external obstacles exist in society that inhibit individuals from accurately understanding and developing a healthy view of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. ALGBTICAL is opposed to harm perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals through language, stereotypes, myths, misinformation, threat of expulsion from social and institutional structures and other entities, and from beliefs contrary to their identity.

 

ALGBTICAL is committed to the inclusion of and respect for individuals of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.  ALGBTICAL supports the raising of awareness of all individuals regarding issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as well as the increased modeling of inclusive language, advocacy and equal opportunity for all people.  ALGBTICAL seeks to lessen if not eliminate individual, social, and institutional behaviors and expectations limiting the full development of human potential in all populations.

 


Message to Older Gays


Gianni
/
Tampa Bay Coalition

 

 If any of you are at least 50 or older, you, along with me, can remember how important it was to keep your gay secret. Of course, before the 70's there weren't any polite words like gay. All the standard insults were there. Being homosexual was the epitome of perversion and degradation; something never spoken of in any type of polite or common conversation. 


For example, before the early 70's, New York had a law that prohibited any bar or club from serving alcohol to a homosexual. Of course, most gay men passed easily. Imagine not being able to legally get a drink in a public bar like the other straight patrons. This was the law that the police used to back up their bar raids. When things were slow out on the streets, they would just get prepared with the paddy wagons and go raid a couple of known gay hangouts, arrest and fine the patrons, close and fine the bar owner, and call it a night. Imagine kids, being hustled out of a bar and arrested for being gay and having a drink! In Atlantic City there were gay clubs but you couldn't dance or touch in any fashion. Even when dancing became permissible, you were not allowed to touch because that would get a club closed down and fined. Try to imagine it.


 One night in 1969 (yes only 30 years ago) in New York's Greenwich Village at the Stonewall Inn, the police pulled one of their many gay bar raids and all hell broke loose. The fight started and continued for several nights. Gay Liberation as a national struggle was born.


 I remember in 1972 (I was 22 at the time) tuning in to The David Susskind Show because he was having a panel of lesbians on to discuss being gay and gay liberation. You young people won't remember but, at that time, talk shows were not like they are today. The David Susskind show was a serious show with serious and informative discussions. The audiences at the talk shows were adult and quiet and sometimes allowed to ask questions at specific times. There was nothing like the ridiculous carrying-on that you see all the time on Springer, etc.


Anyway it was the first time I had ever seen such an open discussion on TV. Where I grew up, I was absolutely certain I was the only gay man within many miles. I watched that show on every channel it appeared for a whole week. Being that there was no such thing as a video recorder, I taped it on cassette tape. I still have it and listen to it at least once a year. I had to make a copy of it about 3 years ago as the tape was getting too old and fragile. It still stirs me like it did 30 years ago.


Things have changed and we are not so much the filthiest things on the planet. However, as we all hear and see all the time now, the hatred is still very much alive and as vicious. It's just all out in the open. The old myths about "queers" are still going strong.


 Kids, let me reassure you that these self-righteous bastards will do anything to send us back into nonexistence. We see that in the news all the time. This year Oregon will be voting on an antigay measure for the 32nd time. They are relentless and we have to be also. Don't take it for granted that someone else will do the fighting for you. We all need to do this together in any legal fashion that we are able. We deserve everything that the law grants to them. Don't wait expecting them to someday get nice to us. Your society still would rather you didn't exist.


 And for us older people, we must not allow ourselves to just sit back figuring that we don't have to bother because it's up to the younger folks. They need our voices as much as we need theirs. Do something to help us all become equal citizens.

 


Stand Up for the Right to Marry

 

Evan Wolfson

February 14, 2006

 

Evan Wolfson is executive director of Freedom to Marry, the gay and non-gay partnership working to end discrimination in marriage nationwide (www.freedomtomarry.org), and author of "Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry."  Here is his Valentine's Day message:

 

A robust debate and many personal conversations are helping our nation, in President Lincoln's words, "think anew" about how America treats gay couples and their kids and loved ones.

 

Every year, around Lincoln's birthday and Valentine's Day, gay and non-gay people gather in living rooms, houses of worship, parks and civic halls to celebrate the values of equality and love, and call for an end to discrimination in marriage.
 

Today is Freedom to Marry Day, a day to share personal stories, and ask others to push past discomfort and embrace fairness and marriage equality. Freedom to Marry Week, which stretches from Feb. 12-18, helps even more Americans get to know the real faces behind this civil rights movement.

 

Two years ago on Feb. 12, the nation watched as hundreds of couples lined up in San Francisco to legally wed in that state for the first time.

 

This year, in hundreds of American cities, citizens will be hosting statehouse rallies, wedding ceremonies, book parties, family picnics and discussion groups to learn and inform about the freedom to marry.

 

Ministers and rabbis from Texas to Vermont and from Washington state to the Sunshine State have given sermons in support of equal marriage rights, helping their congregations to understand the scriptural underpinnings of embracing their neighbors with love and compassion as well as the importance of equal civil marriage rights for all families.

 

This is a week to engage the people around us in this conversation about fairness. Gay people - and our friends, families and allies - cannot assume that just because a person loves us and is generally a good guy that this person understands how the denial of marriage harms us. We have to challenge each other and ourselves to make a more substantive, moral case for what we stand for.

 

It is not enough for gay people and our allies to say we are for marriage equality, and then wait for the courts or legislators to do the heavy lifting. Rather, it is our job to take every opportunity to address people's concerns and discomfort, answer questions, and give them the time and information they need.

 

When non-gay people talk about marriage, they mean love, clarity, security, respect, family, intimacy, dedication, self-sacrifice and equality - qualities that describe the relationships and lives of gay and lesbian couples just as well.

 

Trying to avoid supporting marriage equality by suggesting other, lesser solutions such as civil unions only complicates the issue. It invites questions about how such arrangements would be defined, what form they would take, how they would differ from marriage and what role states or the federal government would have.

 

Why do we need two lines at the clerk's office, or unequal protections for some couples and kids? With marriage, on the other hand, rights and obligations are already clearly established in all 50 states as well as with the federal government. Marriage is the system we have.

 

All families should share equally in the rights, protections and responsibilities currently afforded only to some. Gay families also deserve health care, retirement protections, the ability to use money to pay for education or a home and the ability to give kids the security to openly and proudly describe their families. This would make our nation stronger.

 

When our friends and families are given the truth about the injustice and unfairness of marriage discrimination, they are able to see past the false distractions and put a human face to the issue.

 

With justice and equality within reach, Freedom to Marry Week is an opportunity to engage our neighbors and fellow citizens in the personal and informational conversations they deserve - and trust that from this commitment to engagement will come understanding about why marriage matters to our families.

 

Lincoln stood up for freedom, equality and fairness for all, even when it was at its most unpopular. Freedom to Marry Week also offers a unique opportunity to stand up for freedom, equality and fairness.

 

 


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ALGBTICAL

Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama