In the United States Attorney General’s written support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), another slap in the face arrived for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community on embossed Federal letterhead.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) states that state-sanctioned marriages between same-sex couples are not required to be acknowledged in other states, nor are they to be recognized by the federal government.
In the case of Smelt v U.S., the plaintiffs, a gay married couple, propose that DOMA is unconstitutional. In their response, the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ), as required by law for all currently operational statutes, provided a document of support for DOMA. While it is statutorily appropriate for the DOJ to act in this fashion, it was also possible for the President or a member of his cabinet to make a statement about this untenable situation. This was not done.
As with the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, President Obama’s silence regarding DOMA is akin to Ronald Reagan not speaking the acronym “AIDS” (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for the first several years of his presidency. In all three cases, the silence is a tacit statement of neglect for these important issues.
What is apparent is that there is a willingness to dismiss the LGBT community through governmental inaction, perhaps because it is too hard to face for the Federal or State governmental bodies, or perhaps there truly is an assumption of second class citizenry for those in this section of the electorate.
DOMA and DADT must be repealed. They are discriminatory. It’s that simple. Any president of the United States that does not understand that, does not see the history of our country repeating itself once again, no matter what is said about his education or background.
Lyndon Johnson took a strong stand against discrimination toward Blacks in the 1960’s. Woodrow Wilson signed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote in 1920. In 1862 and 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the two documents that comprised the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in the United States. What will President Obama’s legacy be? Will it be one of neglect toward fully ten percent of the population of our country or will it be as a dynamic force for liberty for all in the same light as his courageous predecessors?
I, for one, am hopeful that President Obama will come through as a strong leader. His history indicates that this hope is grounded in his focus prior to becoming president. Unfortunately, thus far, his actions have told a completely different story.
Perhaps a page from California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s book would assist the President in his education regarding how to be an effective and dynamic force for change.
Within the next year, we will see exactly where he stands. I suspect by the first anniversary of his oath of office, we will have a clear view of how the LGBT community is perceived by this standing president.
I pray the news is good.
In every regional idiom of our American English language, we have many ways to say, “I hate that.” It’s as simple as a sound and a face, “Ugh,” with our mouth and eyes and nose looking as though we have just smelled something phenomenally foul. Why are we surprised when our government says the same thing to us? Our elected officials are selected by us and reflect our values.
“You may not marry.”
“You may not serve your country with pride.”
“You may not receive adequate health care or education.”
“You may not be considered beautiful.”
Those who have had to live with the impact of these messages are all being told that we have no value in segments of society and that our needs and dreams are unnecessary to the overall happiness of our country.
Why does this disregard, discrimination, and distrust come so easily to us as a nation? At this point, with the media having such a rich influence in our lives and policies, we cannot claim ignorance any longer. We are making these choices consciously and with the full understanding of how our fellow citizens are being affected by these choices. We are fully responsible legislatively, culturally, and personally.
And, yes, it is personal.
To someone I love very much, when she is told by a physician that he doesn’t have time to discuss why he is making the determination he is on her health, he is saying that because she is brown and poor, she doesn’t deserve compliance with the hypocratic oath he took when he became a physician. This person is going to be allowed to continue his practice for many years to come, I’m sure, because who is going to listen to his painfully neglected patient?
When only twelve percent of our nation’s states have acknowledged the love and commitment between two gay people, we are saying that a large majority, 78%, of our people feel that our lives together as a couple have no meaning. These 78% of states are being supported by the United States Supreme Court when they said that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy was not unconstitutional at the national level, and when the California Supreme Court did not overturn Proposition 8.
It’s as simple as not receiving an e-mail from a teacher. When a parent writes and asks for information that will assist her in supporting the assignments the instructor gives, and all she receives is silence, the teacher is saying, “Your child has no value to me. His education doesn’t count and what happens to him at the end of the year is of no consequence.”
Here in Sacramento, there was a shock jock who stated that if his son ever wore high heels, he, as a father, would beat that child with a shoe. This was not something he said in the privacy of his home. This person said this statement on the air and laughed about it.
Now, we must face the truth that one of our citizens has walked into a museum honoring the memory of those who lost their lives during World War II and shot someone to make the statement that the shooter believes that there was no holocaust.
When does it click, my friends? When do we get that we cannot allow this to continue? When does everyone in our country become full Americans to everyone else? We have waited for 232 years. Isn’t that long enough?
It’s time we decide, consciously and lovingly, that we will only tolerate respect in our homes and on our streets. We will only permit those who understand the genuine value of every single person in our country to be elected to our legislative and judicial offices. Only those who recognize the critical need for an exceptional education for every child, even when it’s difficult to accomplish, will be allowed to receive a teaching credential. Every physician will be personally held accountable for ensuring that each of their patients understands his or her medical situation.
Simply put, we must only allow love to guide us. Everywhere. Always.
It is criminal that at the federal and state level, discrimination is being presented in such a light that it appears those in authority are surprised that anyone is questioning their intentions toward the LGBT community.
I have a simple note to President Barack Obama.
Dear Mr. President,
First, allow me to congratulate you on your election as President of the United States. As a citizen, I am personally and nationally challenged by recent events that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Please accept my comments in the constructive and immediate way they are intended.
Every moment you allow honorable people who happen to be homosexual, like Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach and Lt. Daniel Choi, to stand before your tribunals, and let there be no mistake, they are your tribunals as Commander-in-chief, you are standing against equality and non-discrimination. There is no middle ground in that truth, Mr. President. None.
In the same way that we must stand against the abuse of children, unavailability of health care for the poor and middle class, and declining education funding for those students most in need, we must, too, stand against codified hatred and disrespect of any of our citizens, especially those who serve our country in the most valuable way possible, some of whom, losing their lives in the process.
We are watching, Mr. President, with a hopeful eye; however, that eye is daily growing increasingly full of tears awaiting your response. We are truly blinded by your stagnancy, deafened by your silence, and crippled by your inaction on this issue.
Take a moment and look at sites like bannination.com at what your inaction is permitting some people to say about Lt. Col. Fehrenbach. Yes, we have free speech, but without true leadership in another direction, you are their leader first. The irony is that Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is fighting equally for these people’s rights, as well as everyone else’s. Is it any wonder why our children are committing suicide for being perceived as gay? How can they possibly respect that aspect of their lives if their President and military commit punitive actions against others like them so publicly? What message are they receiving when at many of the state and national levels, they are told they are second class citizens?
It is time for real leadership in this arena, Mr. President.
First, an Executive Order must be signed discontinuing all actions related to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It was a bad policy and a bad law to begin with and should be shut down as soon as possible.
Second, you must personally let Congress know that there is a deadline by which time you expect a bill to be on your desk that revokes any and all laws related to discrimination of any kind, including against the LGBT community.
Third, you must clearly state that the laws of the Federal Government that pertain to the rights of one citizen pertain to the rights of all citizens. That includes marriage.
Only in these three actions will you truly be remembered as a leader in Civil Rights.
Thank you for reading this correspondence, Mr. President. I trust that you will do the right thing soon.
James C. Glica-Hernandez
Citizen of the United States
There are tears being shed all over California, perhaps by the forty-eight-plus percent of people who voted against Proposition 8, banning gay marriage. These tears are bitter and disheartening in the extreme. These tears, too, are completely understandable.
There is sadness because the highest court in the state has said that those who believe that we should live as a theocracy within our boundaries are correct in their vote. They have stated to approximately ten percent of the population that our desire to join in a state-sanctioned marriage is invalid. They have confirmed our deepest fears and supported the voices who have yelled from the highest roof tops that we have no right to an ultimate family status in the State of California.
From this day forward, I will no longer capitalize california because we are less of a state than the other forty-nine. We are starving our children. We are not educating our young people as we should. We are validating discrimination. We are allowing the weak and the infirmed to struggle to find adequate medical care. We are a tragic and nearly obscene version of who we were in the past.
There are states of bliss and joy. My truest happiness is not dependent on this ruling. I am nonetheless married to my husband because in our wedding ceremony, we invited God into our lives to guide our paths together in the presence of many witnesses. According to the laws of Judeo-Christian belief, not elsewhere forbidden outside of man’s interpretation, we have met the standards of marriage. Even the Roman Catholic Church, at one time, sanctioned these unions of spirit. My happiness is found in my faith and in my family. No one on this planet can diminish that joy. So, it is amongst my family and friends where I find my satisfaction.
I find none of that in the citizenry of california.
There are states of despair and horror. As a gay, Latino man who is married to another man, if only in the eyes of God, on the lower end of the economic scale, I am in the states of sadness and shock, living in the state of california where people believe their personal comfort and consistency takes precedence over the rights and equality of all people. They call themselves people of conscience. Although I must believe that they are operating at the highest level of truth for themselves, I have to wonder.
God bless us all in our journey. This is a challenging time for everyone involved. I understand that. I simply hope that we find the core issues that stand before us. Clearly, we have not yet dug deeply enough.
When we do, we will agree that all of God’s children were created by Him. We will agree that each child of God has the right to share in all the blessings He has promised us. We will agree that there is no shade in the light of God.
And, for those who do not believe in a higher power, well, I’m certain they, too, have already seen the light of truth that each person has a right to live as they see fit under our United States Constitution.
The question is begged, “What if the atheists and agnostics have a better understanding of what is truly right and just between human beings than the conservatively religious?”
I have to admit, that question brightens my day.
When I first discovered that I was different than most of the other boys, it was the 1960’s and I was in elementary school. Homosexuals, or as my father pronounced it, “homuh-sekshuls,” were depicted as limp-wristed, pink-kerchief-wearing, wilting flowers. The epitome of this was Roger, the hairdresser in our tiny berg, who wore shiny hotpants and lived with a rugged, coarse man who used to grab my derriere when I was in high school. They were actually run out of town by the populace for being so different.
There was never one moment in my youth when I ever imagined that anywhere in our country, let alone in the world, that gays would be sanctioned to be married. Being gay was something that one hid in shame and self-loathing. They were arrested by the police. They wore dresses and hit police with beer bottles in New York.
Gays were hated for being an abomination by Christians and didn’t deserve rights. That’s the way it seemed to me as a young gay boy.
My first glimmer of hope came as my liberal, agnostic, Polish father walked with me in one of the first Sacramento gay pride marches in 1979, with the full support of my more conservative, Roman Catholic, Mexican mother. I was accepted for who I was at my parents’ home, even though I was already married to a woman with two children by this time.
Today, Maine signed into law the rights for two individuals to get married, whether gay or straight. What is particularly notable for me is that this is not the first time in the United States of America that this has occurred.
As Californians awaits a court ruling as to the constitutionality of Proposition 8, I sit in my home that I share with my husband wondering what will happen and where we are going in our country.
My husband and I acquired our Registered Domestic Partnership in 2005. We had our wedding in 2006. We chose not to get married when it was temporarily legal in California because we felt that we didn’t want our marriage questioned. We would wait for the law to become firm in the state in which we live.
We are married in spirit and when I talk with people, I always call him my husband. He calls me his husband. It’s what is. We don’t need anyone to tell us whether we are married or not. Perhaps, that is the greatest freedom for us as individuals.
It is nonetheless true, however, that we are not recognized as a married couple by the state or the nation yet. Will it happen in my lifetime? I’m more hopeful today than I ever have been, but I still don’t know.
I hope so.
The gratitude I feel for my brothers and sisters in the 1960’s in Greenwich Village is enormous. So much so that in 2005, when David, my husband, and I went to New York City, we went to the Stonewall to pay homage to those who took the enormous stand on June 29, 1969.
Unlike other shrines to major advances in our lives, the bar smelled of vomit and exhaustion. Yet, it was important that we go to pay our respects. Perhaps, many of those who fought this earliest battle for freedom are gone now. Old age, AIDS, and gay bashing may have taken the lives of some of these freedom fighters, but those of us who are old enough to remember, do.
So, thank you, drag queens, top men, previously closeted people and everyone else for taking a stand from which we are reaping the ample rewards forty years later.
“Society” couldn’t hold us down then and they continue to increasingly embrace a new vision of freedom for all men and women in the U.S. One voter at a time, one legislator at a time, one judge at a time, we are finding our way to the place where every person, regardless of classification, are able to enjoy the rights enjoyed by everyone else.
For me, sitting in my home office, with my husband watching television on his day off, with our dog sitting on the floor, I am grateful and full of wonderment that we find ourselves where we are today.
We have never had anyone scrawl hateful epithets on our garage door. No one has thrown anything at us or called us names on the street. No one has ever threatened our lives because we are a couple. Although these things happen all too often still, the fact that they haven’t happened to us is a miracle, as far as I’m concerned. We are simply plain ol’ members of our community. That’s all.
It is not lost on me that we are thankful for things that others have had all along; but, today, I choose to focus more on how far we’ve come.
Someday, we may actually have the full rights of everyone else, but from my vantage point, we’ve come a long, long way. It’s not enough, certainly, but we have made progress and that’s something great.
Those days when I feel like a high school student again learning something new are my best days. Days similar to when I was not yet a dozen years old and my father, the pharmacist, taught me to read and write in the Latin prescription abbreviation lexicon, such as q.i.d. meaning four times daily, help me feel empowered by the fact that my still available brain cells are in fully working order.
Today was just such a day. I read State Attorney General Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown’s official response as an amicus curie regarding Proposition 8. This brief, filed in anticipation of the upcoming hearing about the constitutionality of Proposition 8, was lucid and vibrant in its language. AG Brown hit every salient point in his attempt to respectfully remind the California high court of the specific law and precedent regarding this case. As a citizen who remembers when he was referred to Governor Twinkie, I am especially grateful to The Honorable Mr. Brown for his insightful and powerful points of law.
Amongst his many important points, Mr. Brown reminds the court that in Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution, our citizenry is imbued with inalienable rights afforded to all its citizens. Not unlike our Federal Constitution, these rights are to be wholly ensured for the entirety of the population without prejudice.
I am no lawyer and I have not done any research on the case law whatsoever. I can only say that reading his words gave me hope; a hope that resonates within me back to a time that may have even been before my own birth. In these last few months, I have learned that I can, once again, have the pride and hope in my state and country that we are moving in the right direction and that everyone will be given a map for the journey there.
When my Aunt Mary would bake one of her delicious chocolate cakes for my birthday, my mother would make sure everyone at my party would get a piece and that each piece was the same size. She would remind me, if I happened to complain that I was the birthday boy and should have the largest piece, that I did nothing to earn the cake. This dessert was simply a way to celebrate with everyone the event of my birth. Everyone there got the same size piece of cake. It was automatic.
Mr. Brown has suggested to the court that everyone should get an equal share of the cake in the State of California. He is promoting the concept that whether one is homosexual or heterosexual, Asian or American Indian, short or tall, young or old, no one has earned the right to have a larger share of happiness in their lives. We are each entitled, by our very citizenship in this state, to the right to be offered a slice of California life and joy equal to anyone else’s. Whether one chooses to accept is up to them, but the offer must be there in the first place.
Certainly, Mr. Brown did not talk about cake or height or age, but that is what I read between the lines.
Is it possible that the signateurs of all the Amici Curie in this case who support the overturning of Proposition 8 all believe similarly with regard to the law, even if, in their private lives, they may feel differently? Can it be true that a small majority of a population can vote to erase the codification of joy and then be held accountable for that blatant discrimination? Apparently, these things are true.
There are many who wrote in support of Proposition 8. They, too, have the right to speak freely and put forth their cause before the court. From the briefs I read on their part, I was a bit shocked at what I read; however, I know that beliefs long held are strong.
I have no idea how the court will rule. I know what I want to happen, but fortunetelling, especially in this day and age, is a bit beyond me.
Thanks to Mr. Brown, however, I have found another level in my resurgence of hope.