Well, whatever it takes

June 15, 2007

From this morning’s Boston Globe, in a story about vote-switchers in yesterday’s 45-151 defeat of the proposed marriage amendment:

[Senator Gale] Candaras had voted for the amendment when she was a House member representing a relatively conservative district with a large number of elderly people in Hampden County; now that she is a senator, she said, her new, much larger constituency made its sentiment clear to her.

Some constituents wrote saying that they had changed their minds, like the elderly woman who said she previously asked Candaras to support the ban.

“But since then, Gale,” the woman wrote, as Candaras told it, “this lovely couple, these two men, moved in next door to me, and they have a couple of children and they’re married, and they help me with my lawn. And if they can’t be married in Massachusetts, they’re going to leave — and then who would help me with my lawn?”

Indeed. Forget taxes, insurance, hospital visitation rights, the existence of second-class citizens, and the threat of minority rights being up to a majority vote–the real issue here is lawn care. And nobody knows how to maintain a plush turf like homos.

Goin’ to the [roundhouse] and we’re gonna get…

April 29, 2007

So, naturally, after arguing about marriage for a couple of days, I went to a wedding this weekend and now I’m totally suffering from Wedding Lust.

Unlike a lot of other little girls (or so I’m told), I didn’t dream about my wedding growing up. For starters, although it took me a while to realize I was into the ladies, I definitely wasn’t into boys. Sorta hard to picture yourself at the altar with some dude in a tux when prince charming doesn’t do anything for you. From a pretty young age I somehow knew that a traditional wedding wasn’t for me.

Now that I’m a little older, though, I know that a wedding–even a straight one–doesn’t have to be the plastic cake-topper I always envisioned it as in my youth. The one I attended yesterday is a perfect example: casual dress, no veils, vows written by the bride and groom, the bride’s young daughter as flower girl, a woman performing the ceremony in a beautiful roundhouse instead of a church, and a big emphasis on the folks actually getting married rather than the religious authority supposedly giving a big ol’ thumbs up to the union.

Ignoring the arguments about whether queer folks should want to get married, I think it’s interesting to think about how we get married. While the aforementioned ceremony stressed me out a little because it got me thinking about which family members I would and wouldn’t feel comfortable inviting to my hypothetical future wedding, it also really made me think about the way a ceremony can leave everybody feeling good. How can a ceremony encourage participation from the audience without asking them to go through the motions of a religious tradition they don’t share? How can a ceremony joining a man and a woman keep from alienating the members of the audience who don’t have the legal luxury of such a union? How can a wedding inspire, rather than alienate?

Then, of course, there’s the other side of the coin: how do you have a same-sex marriage without alienating the traditionalists in the audience? Are there aspects of the traditional marriage ceremony that can carry over for the union of a non-traditional couple?

I realize that a wedding ceremony is, of course, more for the folks gettin’ hitched (or, as is often the case, their parents) than for the folks in the cheap seats, so the happy couple shouldn’t bend over backward to cater to the masses. But I do think there’s something to be said for an inclusive ceremony, and for making The Happiest Day Of Your Life something that can be a positive experience for everyone in attendance.

Today’s Gays

April 22, 2007

I’ve more or less finished Stonewall (rereading some bits; I decided that my new quest to read a lot should include the pile of books I bought for a seminar last spring and didn’t end up reading because the class in question was so lame) and probably won’t be reading the final bits, since I’m not all that interested in a catalogue of various GLBT activisty groups. The narrative structure of the earlier chapters is great and very readable, and I appreciate that Duberman at least attempts to acknowledge differing viewpoints of what really sparked the Stonewall riots.

That said, I just learned that Larry Kramer (most recently author of The Tragedy of Today’s Gays) will be speaking nearby in a couple of weeks. Loyal readers may remember that Kramer got me all fired up this summer for a time, and the ideas his book germinated are still growing (very, very slowly) in my brain, even if I haven’t put them to paper yet. As I was thinking about the possibility that the lottery for tickets will end in my favor, I pondered the kinds of questions I might ask (provided he even has a question and answer period). My first inclination would be to find out his opinion on the whole marriage issue.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m disgruntled with the current emphasis on marriage rights among LGBT activist groups (particularly the larger, more visible ones, like HRC) . Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that I live in the one state in the union that currently legally recognizes same-sex marriages. I recognize that a lot of the rights associated with legal marriage are important ones, and I would never argue that LGBT individuals shouldn’t enjoy those rights should they choose to marry. My problem, rather, is with the attention (and time, and money) the issue receives at the expense of other important issues.

I know that this may sound like the ol’ “Why can’t you focus on the important issues?” argument I so despise, but it’s not; I don’t think people should stop fighting for marriage equality. I even hesitate to hierarchize the issues at all–who am I to say that workplace rights are more important than marriage rights? I’d just really like to see other LGBT issues getting the same kind of national attention that same sex marriage has enjoyed (although, given the results of the 2004 elections, it’s hard to say if “enjoyed” is really an appropriate word).

Consider some words from LAMBDA Legal:

There is no federal law that expressly forbids workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Less than half of all states specifically ban workplace discrimination in the private sector based on sexual orientation. Only a handful of states ban discrimination based on gender identity, but many courts have held that transgender employees are protected under sex discrimination laws.

Want more?

About half of all states permit second-parent adoptions by the unmarried partner of an existing legal parent, while in a handful of states courts have ruled these adoptions not permissible under state laws. This leaves parents in many states legally unrecognized or severely disadvantaged in court fights with ex-spouses, ex-partners or other relatives.

And let’s not forget the (lack of) transgender rights:

There is no federal law explicitly prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing, public accommodations or any other area of law, although many courts have held that transgender employees are protected under sex discrimination laws. Only a handful of states have laws specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.

Yet in 2004, when much of the nation was once again glued to television sets watching the returns come in, we weren’t eagerly awaiting the results of workplace discrimination laws, same-sex adoption laws, or transgender discrimination laws in 11 states. I’ll be willing to bet money the case will be the same in 2008.

Random thoughts roundup

November 22, 2006

Plenty of Boston folks have gotten up in arms over the BUCR offering a caucasian scholarship. (For those non BU students out there, the BUCR is the Boston University College Republicans.) To summarize, the BUCR is protesting the University’s half-ride scholarship for Hispanic students (I’m using their language; I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t say Latino) by offering a privately funded, $250 scholarship for students who are at least 25% caucasian, full-time undergraduates, and currently pulling a 3.2 GPA or better. They believe that race-based scholarships constitute bigotry, and believe that scholarships should be based solely on merit and/or financial need. (I’m being generous here; the Metro article I read this morning mentioned financial need, but the above link only mentions merit.)

Personally, I’d like to talk to the guy who ends up applying. Cause you know someone will leak names.

From the AP and CNN.com, starting January 23rd, the US will require everyone entering the country to show a passport. This includes US citizens, who were previously able to enter using other forms of ID, like driver’s licenses. (Licenses, I might add, being considerably easier to change than passports when it comes to matters of trans* name changes and the like.)

And, finally, the Israeli Supreme Court requires the government to register the marriages of same-sex couples who wed abroad. This comes from a Boston Globe news in brief article online, so it’s a little unclear what this really means–the Globe calls the decsion “limited in scope”–but as a 6-1 decision, it looks like a step in the right direction.

Random thoughts roundup

November 14, 2006

I think I finally figured out what bothers me so much about Lieberman. It’s that he didn’t trust the voters of his own party to nominate the best candidate. Yes, yes, ultimately he won- but he lost the damn primary. He lost and said, you know what? I don’t think you Really know who you want to represent you, so I’m going to give you one more chance, and then insist you treat me like a democrat even though I didn’t treat you like informed voters.

On the subject of same-sex marriage, I’ve seen a couple of analogies that seem to equate civil unions with “separate but equal” treatment from the days of segregation. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m deeply grateful for the right to marry in my current state of residence, and I’m hopeful that our new governor will do something about Gov. Stupidface’s enforcement of that ridiculous 1913 law prohibiting out of state marriages if they’re not recognized in the other state. But I think people are getting awful hung up on the word “marriage.” If civil unions can come with the same legal status as traditional marriage, I’m all for them. The current pursuit of same sex marriage above all issues is political suicide for queer communities.

But as for recent ballot amendments–minority rights should never be up for majority votes, as long as the majority is still a bunch of idiots.

And, finally, on the topic of what the dems should be doing next: consensus seems to be getting our troops out of Iraq in some kind of timely fashion, which would be great. But I’d also really love it if someone could take a good hard look at No Child Left Behind and realize how much it sucks. What’s going to happen in 2014 when, oh, uhm, not every kid in the country passes state tests, not to mention federal standards?