Tag Archives: Supreme Court

What’s Good for the Goose…

There is a dichotomy in these United States of America that is so vividly being presented in the State of Connecticut regarding our freedoms.  In the second of five states in the country to allow gay marriage, there comes a video from the  Manifested Glory Ministries that shows a sixteen-year-old young man having a “homosexual demon” exorcised from his body.

Calvin and Patricia McKinney

Calvin and Patricia McKinney

Prophet Patricia McKinney, and the church overseer and McKinney’s husband, Calvin McKinney, have apparently performed several exorcisms on young people who are attempting to release themselves from the perceived grip of their homosexuality.  The video, as one can imagine, is dynamic in that the young fellow, whose name was withheld, was seen thrashing on the floor, eventually vomitting during the twenty minute, vociferous event.

As revolting as the concept of a “gay exorcism” is to my mind and heart, one question is raised,  “Is the family’s freedom of religion alive enough  to practice their faith as they see fit?” 

If the child’s parents gave the McKinneys permission to perform this rite, the McKinney’s were willing to perform the rite, and if the child himself agreed to experience it, does the family of the parishoner have the right to practice their religion in whatever way they choose, so long as the boy wasn’t injured physically? 

Some might say that the boy should feel free to be gay if that’s what he is.  If that is true, which I believe it is, as well, then shouldn’t he also be allowed to participate in the rites of his church just as freely? 

Concern is correctly expressed that the exorcism will damage his psyche and sense of self because he is not being supported by his community for being who he genuinely is.   We must invite the question as to whether there are other religions who, perhaps not so vehemently, do the same thing to their beloved children.  Families often criticize and shame their offspring because of their sexuality.  Doesn’t that also do horrific damage to the child to have people he or she loves dispense separation, vitriol, and, perhaps, violence against that individual because of the child’s sexuality?

How obscene should it be to us as  a people to wag our fingers at the McKinneys for doing what we do to our own children in other ways? 

“God, I wish my son wasn’t a freakin’ fairy.”

“Jeez, why can’t my daughter just find a nice man with whom to settle down and have a family, instead of that horrible dyke?”

The high horse on which many are riding right now is growing more and more lame.  The pedestal on which many of our fellow Americans would like to believe they sit is cracking under the pressure of our own hypocrisy. 

In this video, there appeared to be a belief that this child harbored a demon named, “homosexuality.”    Isn’t that what many in our country believe?  Those who fight against the equal rights for marriage certainly are making that statement to their children.  Those who sit idly by and watch our junior high students commit suicide because they are being perceived as gay are saying the same thing.

Let’s see things as they are for a change.  We are culturally a bigotted and judgmental people on the whole.   We see ourselves in distinct and separate groups and we like it that way.  The good news is that we are slowly recognizing it and the damage it is causing.  We are changing.  We may even arrive at a place where, for example, in this country, we are all Americans first, instead of insisting on being hyphenates, such as Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, or Straight-Americans.

Change is hard.  Cultural therapy is phenomenally painful and difficult.  We will, however, survive and flourish once we get to the other side.  At that point, we will be able to better see our brothers and sisters as equals in every way. 

What a great day that will be.

What we must not do, though, is lose sight of the fact that for each of our rights, there are those who will show us the extremes of what having them means.  The McKinneys are just those people.  For some, Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen Degeneres would be just those people, as well.  

There must be room for everyone if we want our equality and rights to live in the broadest possible way.

The only exorcism I’d like to see is the banishment of hatred and ignorance.  I’d go to that ritual today!

DOMA, DADT, and the President of the United States of America

Life is too short to ask anyone to lie about who we are.  Life isn’t long enough to deny our dreams. 

A gay married couple in California

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. 

Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, discharged for being openly gay in 2008

Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, discharged for being openly gay in 2008

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.

Why Is Hate So Easy?

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.

15488-07at“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.

From the Chair of an Older Queer

Junior in high school

Junior in high school

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.

James at the Stonewall Inn

James at the Stonewall Bar

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.

Not Quite Finished

I have been watching the video of yesterday’s oral arguments regarding California’s Proposition 8.  On the personal side, I would be most challenged by the State high court’s constant questioning within responses to questions, and in some cases, their seemingly self-indulgent oratory.  I understand, too, however, that this is their right and their obligation if they are to come to a reasonable decision. 

The question as to the people’s right to offer Prop 8 in the first place seems to be a weak argument.  I suspect that when the decision is rendered, the right for the people to be asked the question on the ballot will be found to be valid.  The strength and challenge in our state is that virtually anything can be placed on the ballot.  We, in California, have seen some doozies.

The stronger question, I believe, is the question of equal rights.  Should we, as a people, grade peoples’ rights into distinct levels based solely on their sexual orientation?  In my mind, of course not; no more than we would by color or disability or any other divisive, unchangable assessment.  Would we ever ask that people who could not walk be restricted in their level of marriage simply because they were quadraplegic? 

“Those who are wheelchair-bound can have a domestic partnership, but you can’t call it marriage.  Only people who can walk up the aisle can get married because that’s the tradition.”

People everywhere would be up in arms and ironically, the same people who are supporting Prop 8 would be in the front of the line of defenders. 

“Latinos can’t marry Asians and California will not recognize or validate any marriage between the two, no matter where or when that marriage was created.” 

First of all, the entire Phillipino population wouldn’t be able to be married since their heritage stems from both of those cultures. 

Would these be allowed?  Never.  Not in California. 

There has been a suggestion that all governmental marriages be called, “civil unions,” and that the word, “marriage” only be used by the churches.  I actually laughed out loud when I heard that suggestion.  I thought, “Perfect!”

It reminded of the story of Solomon when he was confronted by the two women who purported to be the mothers of one child.  Solomon the Wise suggested that since both women had valid claims, they should split the child in two with a sword so that each mother could have a half of the boy.

One of the women said, “No, you cannot kill this child to satisfy our claims.”  She gave up her claim so that the child would live.

Finally, the woman who stopped that insanity was given the child because, as Solomon said, she was the true mother since she was willing to put her own needs aside for the safety and well-being of the child.

We may be faced by this same option.  We give up the term marriage all together in California so that we are all on an equal footing.  I would be so tickled by that somehow. 

Watch what you wish for, ladies and gentlemen.  Neither side would be satisfied, I think.  I wonder who will speak up first?