Posts Tagged ‘marriage equality’

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Absent

April 27, 2009

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here on this terrestrial ball.  For me, writing is connected to spirituality, and lately, I haven’t felt very spiritual, or even like I have anything of value to say.  I know my pastor would say that I am going through the “valley of the shadow”.  I suppose this is where I find myself, but not in a despondent, depressed, or desperate situation.  Let’s say that I’m “in transition”.

Back in December, I wrote about my experience of leaving a job and church that I loved, the way in which that it appeared I was forced out by a new, and interim minister, and the betrayal I felt by the congregation.  I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that experience.  I’m hurt that so many who greeted me warmly every Sunday morning do not care to know what is happening with me now, do not wish to understand what could have driven me away.  I keep asking myself “where is the love that they so freely professed?” 

I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve experienced alienation from a group of Christians.  As a matter of fact, recalling the experiences of my parents, other ministers that I’ve worked with in my career as a church musician, and a variety of  tales that have been related to me by those who’ve been mistreated at the hands of Christians, I’d have to say that it is the natural condition of churches to destroy its own members, or at least to ostracize those who are “not our kind of people”.   Of course, this is done in spite of the clear command in scripture to Love One Another.

I’ve been absent from church services since December.  Oh, I’ve gone a few times, but you could count those on the fingers of one hand.  Two of those services were to substitute for an organist who needed time off after surgery. We visited a Unitarian church but didn’t quite feel like it met our spiritual needs.   I attended my husband’s church but found it lacking of any real substance;  it felt like they’d found something that worked at one time and saw no need to review it’s effectiveness.  Now they simply continue performing the same empty rites out of obligation. 

Where I’m not:  I’m not sad, depressed, or suicidal.  I’m also not lacking any interest in spiritual things.  Despite some snarky comments around Easter  in which I may have stated that we should reinstate the practice of feeding Christians to the lions, I have no contempt for those who find spiritual fulfillment in organized Christianity.  But I also think I am no longer one of those who can find fulfillment in the church pew.

 

So yes, I’ve been absent, from here at my blog, as well as at church.  Where have I been?  I’ve been hanging out with some people that most would consider as being on the fringes of religion, and others would say that they are just plain heathens.  That’s ok with me.  I’ve learned that those who have been persecuted, those who have lived through painful episodes in life, are the ones with deep insight and compassion.  I’m happy to be in their company, they tend to be wise people. 

I’m also no longer able to suppress my trust in my own intuition.  Since I’ve been paying attention to those subtle urges and thoughts that enter so quickly, I’ve noticed that they are becoming more accurate.  It is as if I am becoming more aware of the emotions, motives, and likely actions of the people around me.  This awareness gives me clues about how to act and respond in positive ways.  I feel as though I am connected to the whole of the universe, including the God that is omnipresent, and so much bigger than the God that is spoken of in the churches I’ve attended in the past. 

I hope that I’m not shallow, not trendy, but it seems that I may indeed be what is known as post-christian.  I can no longer participate in an organization that routinely does the opposite of its mission statement.  I’ve long hesitated to call myself Christian, but that does not mean I have discarded the teachings of Christ.  As a matter of fact, I hope I’m able to do a better job of following the great commandment than the Christians who stood silently while their new leader ushered me out the church’s door.

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Where is the Disconnect?

October 25, 2008
 
Supporters of California’s Proposition 8, which would create a ban on same sex marriages in the state by amending the state constitution,  seem to have some trouble getting their facts straight, no pun intended. I’ve noticed many new blogs appearing on www.wordpress.com with the sole issue being the support of Prop 8.  I visited one such blog recently and made a comment.  I was surprised and impressed that the blogger made an effort to contact me by email and engage in conversation. Within a few email exchanges, however, this particular blogger retreated to anti-gay tirades while ignoring the substantive discussion that had begun.  Allow me to make a few quotes from Trey’s email and make a few comments.
 
I don’t think its right for you to have benefits as a domestic partnership but be subject to greater hassle and scrutiny than a married couple. In CA, domestic partnerships have all the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages do, under the family code. That is why I am taking a stand. When the argument is truly about civil rights, I am not in favor of denying rights; however, I am adamantly against redefining marriage as an institution, which is what the CA supreme court did.  
 
So here’s something that the Federal Supreme Court declared back in 1954:  Separate is not Equal.  Trey the blogger feels that because domestic partnership registries are available to same-sex couples, civil marriage should be denied to gay and lesbian people.  California’s Supreme Court decided that the state’s constitution did not define marriage as 1 man and 1 woman, and ruled that civil marriage can indeed be 2 women, or 2 men, as well as a woman and a man.  The Supreme Court did it’s job; it ruled on the basis of the existing state constitution.  It did not, as Trey claims, redefine marriage.  Nor are these activist judges as many Prop 8 supporters would have the public believe.  Three of the four judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage were appointed to the court by conservative Republican governors. 
 
I have an unshakeable [sic] belief that a two-parent, heterosexual nuclear family is the ideal situation for a child to grow up in. I think that single parent families are unfortunate too, and believe they are the result of immature sexual acts, very poor judgement, or, in many cases, the selfishness of one individual wanting out of a marital relationship to fulfill needs, sometimes carnal, sometimes emotional, etc.
Well, Trey, by all means, make sure that you maintain your two-parent, heterosexual nuclear family, and be prolific.  Encourage other heterosexuals to do the same.  But why view single parent families as merely “unfortunate”?  Why not work to make their existance illegal in the same way you wish to make gay and lesbian marriages illegal?  Given all this rhetoric about the importance of family and children, especially when considering same-sex marriages, it would make sense that Prop 8 supporters would also be working to make divorce illegal and doing all they can to prevent the creation of bastard children.  I don’t recall any legislators introducing that kind of legislation recently.
  
The biological procreation of society is only conducted through heterosexual relationships, for if a lesbian is inseminated by sperm from a gay man, there is not intimate love creating that life.  
 
Trey, my dear man, just what are you trying to say here?  Children produced out of acts of lust are not the same as children born to loving heterosexuals?  Or perhaps you are saying that assisted reproduction is a morally wrong.  Maybe you’re saying that gay sperm is less conducive to producing a viable life, or that the lesbian womb is hostile to the embryo.  The implication you’re making is that gay and lesbian couples are incapable of loving the children with which they are blessed.  Thousands of gay parents would disagree with you. 
 
If the gay community was not so adamant about pushing its lifestyle onto mainstream America, “forcing” acceptance through the courts, but was instead satisfied with equal protection in the workplace, equal rights in the courtroom during probate hearings, etc, there would be more harmony between the gay community and the rest of society.
 
Well, here’s the deal, Trey:  as a gay man, I am faced with countless expressions of the heterosexual lifestyle on a daily basis.  Billboards, magazine ads, pop ups and banners on the internet, signs on buses, radio and television advertisements, movies, tv shows, news reports, love songs on the radio, spam in my email inbox, all showing me some degree of heterosexuality, often blatant and even vulgar.  Your disgusting lifestyle is in my face 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  When I ask to have the same benefits of marriage as a straight couple, do not presume to tell me that I am forcing my lifestyle on anyone.  If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay guy!
 
But changing the definition of marriage, and then teaching homosexuality to young children upsets and shocks the conscience of many.
 
I’ve got news for you, Trey.  The definition of marriage has changed many times in the course of history.  Please don’t trot out the Biblical definition of marriage, or that God ordained marriage as 1 man and 1 woman.  It just isn’t so.  God ordained, and approved of the marriage of 1 man and 700 wives, and gave that man (Solomon) an additional 300 mistresses.  Marriage has quite often been 1 man and 2 wives.  Marriage has been arranged by the parents with the prospective bride and groom having no say whatsoever in the choice of their spouse.  In the past 100 years, we’ve come to believe that couples seek a mate in a process known as dating.  That couple marries, presumably, based on their love for each other and mutual compatibility.  In the course of history, this is a relatively new concept. 
Teaching children that gay and lesbian couples exist is socially responsible education.  And guess what?  Many children are already aware of this fact because of the kid in their classroom who has 2 mommies, or 2 daddies. 
 
Trey, when you’re willing to support a law that bans all marriages but those that can create the nuclear family consisting of a Mother, Father, and their biological offspring, I will take you seriously about your support for Prop 8.  Remember to include in your ban, heterosexual couples who are sterile, as well as couples who are past the age of childbearing years.  Sr. Citizens must be compelled to forego marriage and take advantage of that separate (but equal in your eyes) domestic partnership.  Younger couples who fail to produce children within a reasonable amount of time, should have their marriage licenses revoked. 
 
There is a real culture war going on, and I can’t sit back and pretend my family is not harmed by calling what my wife and I have the same thing that two men have.
 
And here is the real problem, isn’t it?  These good folks who claim to be so concerned about the family, about God, about country, just can’t stand to think that someone so different from them, someone whom they believe their God condemns, might actually be happy together.  Maybe even happier.  Draw the line, build the fence, create a group that is other.  And Trey, while you’re at it, why not round us up, load us on the train, and send us to a detention camp? 
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In the Meantime….

August 24, 2008

OK, I’ve been home a week and haven’t gotten a word written about the honeymoon or even the wedding.  I think that the biggest reason is that I have so much to say about it, I need to break it down into small pieces, organize, then write about it. 

So, in the meantime, here’s a picture:

 

and here’s a link to my pastor’s musings on the wedding:  No Difference. Really.

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We’re Just Defining One Word

April 13, 2008

On Thursday, April 10th, I took a personal day from work to attend a Pennsylvania State Senate hearing in Pittsburgh, concerning SB1250, the Marriage Protection Amendment.  (appropriate groans can be made here.)  It was a long hearing, and I invested more than 8 hours in driving, walking, sitting and listening to more than 3 hours of testimony, having a beer afterward as I waited for traffic to clear, then heading home again.  I’ve waited a few days on writing this entry because I wanted to write about the things that stand out in my mind. 

I am struck by the argument from the religious right that their purpose, their goal in proposing a marriage protection amendment is to define one word:  marriage.  At least, that is what some would have us believe by their testimony at this hearing.  Is it even possible for a government to define a word, and hold everyone to that definition of that particular word.  How would it be enforced?  Who would be responsible if the meaning begins to change, the person using it, or the word itself? 

Proponents of the bill would like to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  They claim that all other unions could be called anything else, just not “marriage”  which would be reserved for the union of one man and one woman.  It’s clear, from other information put forth by these conservative organizations, and from the wording of the bill itself, that they have something else in mind.  The intent is not to define marriage, but to exclude certain people from participating in marriage, and the attending civil benefits.  If it were not otherwise, there would be no need to include the phrase “functional equivalent of marriage” in the bill.  By adding this to the wording of the proposed amendment, supporters have guaranteed that gay and lesbian couples would never benefit from marriage, nor would they ever receive the blessings of civil unions. 

Words change.  Their spellings evolve, their meanings either change, or develop additional uses.  Think about a few words that have changed in the course of a generation or two:  smack is generally accepted to indicate a sharp strike with a hand or flat object; it has also come to mean a loud kiss, and an accepted term for the drug heroin.  Crack has developed in a similar fashion, acquiring the new definition of a form of cocaine in addition to meaning a fissure and at least 30 other concepts.  Awful is another word that has changed from something that is full of awe, to a word that has a negative connotation.  How many words have re-entered the language with new meanings with the advent of technology?  Words like backup, monitor, cell, download, hardware, virus, peripheral, and memory have taken on new meanings in the past 25-30 years. 

“Marriage” is one of those words that has changed.  In simple forms marriage indicates that civil or sacred contract between two individuals who are intent to spend the rest of their lives together.  It also indicates an intimate or close union, as in the marriage of vocal music and drama to create opera or musical theater for example.  At one time, marriage conjured up thoughts of the deals made by fathers as they negotiated the contracts dictated by arranged marriages.  Looking at biblical history, we can see that marriage could mean different things for the husband and wife, as the husband was considered of greater importance, while the wife could be just one of many women with a similar union to her husband.  Today when we think of marriage, we think of two people searching for that special someone, dating, building common experiences, and finally committing to each other.  Even “until death do us part” is optional.  Is it so hard to think that marriage is two people, either of different gender or the same gender, who have paired up, committed to caring for each other in a loving relationship? 

The bottom line for me, concerning the testimony given by William C. Duncan via Deborah Hamilton,  Randy Lee, Sharon Capretto, & Rita Joyce, is that they wish to legislate a definition of marriage that simply prevents a certain group of citizens from participating in a civil right that is offered only to those who happen to have been born as a heterosexual.  Some of those who testified in favor of the bill hid their agenda of religion-based discrimination behind convoluted explanations of the definition of a word, and how courts would then continue to define it.  Randy Lee even claimed it was a way of ensuring fair trade practices, and compared it to the labeling of canned vegetables:  businesses can not put a picture of corn on a can of peas.  In the same way, Mr. Lee claimed that calling a same-sex relationship marriage, is deceptive because marriage is reserved for two people of the opposite sex.  Sharon Capretto, and to some extent, Rita Joyce, were the most honest about their reasons for supporting SB1250.  They expressed their support for this bill based on their religious convictions, their understanding of scripture.  However, we do not live in a theocracy and no one’s religious views should be imposed on all of our citizens. 

Finally, in a dramatic testimony, Doris Cipolla of Erie, made a passionate, heartbreaking plea to defeat this amendment.  She pointed out that we are people, not cans of vegetables. Cans are man-made, vegetables, peas carrots or corn, come from the earth and are easily identified.  Sadly, Doris and her partner CharleneTanner lived their lives as a closeted couple.  it was only after Charlene’s death that Doris realized that she could no longer be silent.  She speaks with such a passion, that several times during the hearing we were moved to tears, or cheering, and spontaneous applause.  As she left the desk from which she testified, we stood to honor this woman who spoke so eloquently on our behalf. 

 

Doris Cipolla testifying against SB1250 in Pittsburgh, April 10, 2008

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Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day

March 31, 2008

Blog for Equality Day

 

So I was out doing some tag surfing and discovered that today is Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day, thanks to Irene over at Eleventh Stack.  I commented on her blog, and realized then that I needed to write something here today about marriage equality.  After all, my partner and I are in the thick of planning our own wedding.  (note:  we still don’t have a photographer; know anyone available on August 9th?)  I did a little more research and found that this event is being sponsored by The Pittsburgh Women’s Blogging Society, and though I’m not a woman, I do live near Pittsburgh and I certainly have an interest in obtaining marriage equality.  My partner and I deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to getting married.

It is interesting that this topic comes up today.  A few things have happened that seem to feed into this particular topic.  First off, there is my procrastination on calling my state Senator, Richard Kasunic.  I had intended to do that on Friday morning, but somehow neglected to do so.  It’s been almost 2 months since I contacted that office trying to get an appointment.  The secretary was to call back when the senator was taking appointments, and of course, that never happened.  I need to get on this again, and soon. 

I’ve spent the past few days working on our wedding plans, calling the dj, thinking of the guest list, contacting someone who might have been able to photograph our event.  So the wedding is very much on my mind.  With that, comes the thought that this is a ceremony for us, and our friends to share in our joy, but we will gain nothing as far as legal benefits are concerned.  Not only are same-sex marriages illegal, or not civilly recognized, but there is currently a bill in the state senate to amend the constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

I stayed at work a bit later than usual today, and as I headed back to my classroom after having a long conversation with a colleague, I could hear my cellphone vibrating.  It was Scott, my soon-to-be-husband.  He was quite excited, words rushing out of him, and ideas all over the place.  I kept asking him questions and finally figured out what had happened.  It seems we’re the talk of our little town.  I’ll go with exaggeration on this point, but it does seem that word is out that we are planning our wedding.  An aunt took it upon herself to visit Scott’s mom and quiz her about our upcoming nuptials.  Mom didn’t offer much information because she doesn’t have all that much to offer.  She knows we’re planning a wedding.  She might know that it is in August.  The rest of the conversation was spent talking about mom’s disapproval of the wedding and how the “kids” are taking it.  We both have children from when we tried to “choose” heterosexuality and married women. 

I doubt this meddling aunt would have grilled Scott’s mom if this were another straight marriage.  Families can be strange systems, and sometimes relatives swoop in to cast their opinions on matters that don’t concern them.  I suppose dear auntie would express her dismay if Scott were marrying the crack whore who lives down the street.  I’m even willing to guess that when pressured, this woman would have glowing things to say about me;  she knows me, and always speaks to me when I meet her out in public.  There’s no reason to be concerned about Scott marrying a character like me.  So that leaves the gay issue, and the mistaken belief that heterosexuals can declare who is worthy of a marriage license based on the gender of the 2 people involved. 

Please, if you believe in equality, if you believe that marriage is good for individuals, couples, families, and children, contact your state senator and ask them to oppose SB1250, the Marriage Protection Act.  Marriage doesn’t need protected from loving committed same-sex couples;  it needs protected from heterosexual couples who meet no other requirements for marriage except that one of them has a penis and the other has a vagina.  Find out more at Equality Advocates Pennsylvania.