Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

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We’ll Have a Gay Old Time

May 13, 2008

My supplemental contract at my teaching job required that I travel for the weekend.  So on Friday morning, I climbed on the bus with the students and headed for Harrisburg, Six Flags NJ, and Philadelphia.  I had no expectations of this trip other than what the director had described in the itinerary:  a performance in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania state capitol building, an adjudication of the choral group followed by a day at Six Flags Amusement Park in New Jersey, and a stop at Independence Hall on the way home. 

What a gay weekend it turned out to be!  We had some extra time to tour the capitol building, and I realized that I could pay a visit to my State Senator’s office.  SB1250, the so-called  “Marriage Protection Amendment”  was recently tabled and the reason given, courtesy of Equality Advocates PA, was this:

The prime sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Michael Brubaker (R-Lancaster), stated that he was proposing the legislation be tabled because the Speaker of the House, Dennis O’Brien (R-Philadelphia), was going to assign the legislation to the House State Government Committee if it passed the Senate.  The House State Government Committee is chaired by Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia), a strong supporter of the LGBT community, who is opposed to the legislation. Rep. Josephs has stated that she would not move the legislation out of committee.

That happened on Tuesday, May 6, and I had not heard any more information since then.  I decided to pay a visit to Senator Kasunic’s office, gather more information on the status of the bill, then ask again that my Senator oppose this proposed amendment.  I wandered the halls with the paper from the information desk and eventually found his office.  As I suspected, the Senator was not in, as it was a Friday, but I did speak to a gentleman in the office.  I was caught off guard.  He told me that the bill was going  “nowhere.”  I was a bit speechless.  I asked more about his statement.  In our discussion, I learned that there was a lot of dissension among the Republicans about the bill.  I also learned that very few of the Senators wanted to cast a vote on this bill during an election year.  It would appear that SB1250 is dead, and those who wish to write discrimination into the state constitution will have to start from scratch during the next legislative session.  This means that the earliest such an amendment could go to a public vote would be 2011. 

PA Senate Chamber

 

On Saturday, we spent the day at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.  I don’t usually like theme parks unless I’m with my kids or my partner.  I rode some rides with the students and the moms who were chaperoning the trip.  It wasn’t long before I started noticing “family members” in the park.  There were groups of gay men, couples enjoying the park.  At one point, I noticed a lesbian couple that had a great situation:  one of the women was butch enough for them to look like a straight couple.  They walked through the park hand in hand, and virtually unnoticed by the thousands of visitors. 

On Sunday morning, we loaded the bus and headed for Philadelphia for a visit to Independence Hall.

 

Independence Hall

Gay Rights Historical Marker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we rounded the corner to the Independence Mall, I felt welcomed by the Equality Forum banners hanging from the lampposts.  Of course, I was a few days late for the events.  I left the bus to explore on my own before our scheduled tour of Independence Hall.  I discovered the historical marker you see above on the corner across from Independence Hall.  It intrigued me, and when I returned home I did some research about the demonstrations in Philadelphia that pre-date the Stonewall riots.  I discovered that there is some disagreement about the influence and importance of the Philly demonstrations, but have decided that any public demonstration that early in our quest for civil rights is of some importance. 

The weekend that I thought would be lost, save for the obligations placed on me by playing piano for the choral group, turned out to be a learning experience and provided several affirmations of my life, my interests, and my goals of working toward equality for LGBT people. 

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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.

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Holiday Clean Up

March 21, 2008

I’ve been meaning to post here as I like to have some consistency to this blog.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened for the past month or so.  There are several entries I want to write, but I want to do them justice, so I’ll take the time to work on them before I post.  Let’s just use this entry as a catch-all, general update.

 The musical:  Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods went rather well.  We performed the show March 13-16.  The music is difficult, but I had strong singers for most of the parts, and I also had a talented pit orchestra.  The show is a big reason I didn’t get to update as regularly as I’d like.  Rehearsals were up to 4 hours every evening, and more intense as opening night approached.  It’s rewarding to work with a talented group of singers/actors to produce a fine piece of entertainment;  rewarding, in the sense of gratifying emotionally, not monetarily.  Not many community theater productions exist for their ability to generate a profit.

The situation at church:  Things have improved.  I’ve made peace with “C” and while we may disagree on things, I think we both understand each other a little better.  I’ve also given some information to another person who holds the opinion that a person cannot be gay and christian.  He was receptive to the brochure I gave him, and came to me last night to say that he found it interesting, is continuing to study it and looking up scriptures.  He is looking forward to meeting with me for a discussion of the information.  Ah, another chance for me to hone my debating skills! 

I’ve still got a pet peeve about the discussion that took place at an Elders’ meeting.  You may recall that this is what brought about the stress I’ve had at church.  Last evening, for our Maundy Thursday service, half of our Elders and even fewer of our Deacons attended.  This really bothers me, given that they felt they needed to discuss whether my partner should be attending church with me.  At least we’re there!

Pennsylvania Government:  HB1400 which amends the PA Human Relations Act to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, is still as far as I know, in committee.  This should be a no-brainer, and as I pointed out in an earlier post, my own State Representative, Deberah Kula, has promised her support of the bill.    

Unfortunately, SB1250 has been voted into the Appropriations Committee, which means this amendment to our state constitution has cleared another hurdle on its way to becoming law.  PA already has a DOMA law on the books.  This amendment would not only prevent same-sex marriages, but would also permanently prevent same-sex couples from participating in civil unions.  Read more at Equality Advocates Pennsylvania

Finally, it is time to wish you, my faithful handful of readers, a Blessed Resurrection Day!  In spite of all the teachings I’ve heard about Christ being all about “love”, it has taken some time to sink in, at least for me.  I believe that Jesus came to teach us a radical new way to love each other, and because his message was such an affront to the religious leaders of his day, the only logical outcome for him was death.  I have great trouble with the idea of substitutionary atonement theories.  I’ve discovered that others do too.  Want to take your head for a spin?  Read this article by S. Mark Heim.  As I write this, on Good Friday (one could ask good for whom?  certainly not Jesus) I am filled with thoughts about the use of the word “Easter” in connection with this celebration.  The word itself has pagan connections, and while I hold nothing against the pagans, I’m not sure Christians should be borrowing so heavily when presenting what is to be the most important event of the church year.  So, once more, let me wish you a Blessed Resurrection Day!