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A night long remembered

I’m still trying to fully process everything that happened last night. I spent most of Tuesday on the edge of nerves waiting for the election results to start coming in. Cautiously optimistic yet preparing myself for bad news. Instead we got:

  • President Obama re-elected with a significant lead in the Electoral College, and the first Democrat since FDR with 50% or more of the popular vote.
  • The Democrats made gains in the U.S. Senate (including the first openly gay Senator in Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin) and the prospect of real filibuster reform is closer than ever.
  • Marriage Equality won in three states (will now be the law in Maine and Maryland, and defeat of a constitutional amendment to ban it in Minnesota) and is looking good to win the fourth (Washington), after losing 32 consecutive times.

Marriage Equality

After the punch to the gut that was watching North Carolina vote against equality this spring, I was terrified of what would happen in these four states. Obama’s coat-tails hadn’t been long enough to defeat Prop 8 in California in 2008, and the ballot box record on these issues was not encouraging. But by the end of this year, nearly 20% of Americans in 9 states will see that full marriage equality is nothing to be afraid of.

The other side yelled “Judicial Activism” when the courts ruled that gay people deserved equal treatment. They demanded that the people have a say when State Legislatures passed laws recognizing the dignity of all families. And now the people have had their say, so I ask them what now?

In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear cases challenging the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and California’s Proposition 8, and in social issues cases, popular opinion is often an important factor in what the court decides. And four states voting in the affirmative for the equality of gay Americans is a good thing.

The U.S. Senate

The most important thing that can and should happen in January 2013 is the end of the 60-vote Cloture requirement. For too long now, a minority of Senators has been able to effectively hold hostage all manner of bills with only 41 votes. This is not a responsible way to run a country, and it must end. If the minority (whichever party it may be, and the Democrats will hold that position in the future at some point) wants to block a piece of legislation, they need to actually filibuster. In the style of Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” or The West Wing’s “The Stackhouse Filibuster,” hold the floor of the Senate until either you have worn the opposition down or the American people demand you stop, but no bill should lose when 59 Senators support it.

Obama’s Second Term Means The First One Sticks

The Affordable Care Act will now become the law of the land, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s good. It is true that we have one of the best health care systems in the world, but it is more expensive by factors that are obscene. What good is the availability of good treatment when you can’t afford the doctor visit? And most importantly, My friend, Justin Scott, will no longer be denied insurance or over-charged for it because of a lung condition that is “pre-existing.”

The President who signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can with our help push forward on ensuring that everyone is protected from being fired for who they love with an expansion of the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” And his support for marriage equality and fighting alongside us at the Supreme Court make us stronger.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan will happen as planned, and we just might finally come to the end of being a nation at war. In time allowing videos of soldier homecomings to become rare and special, and not a regular feature of the local news.

Today, I am so happy and excited for the future of our country. We can continue to move forward and grow more equal.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

On Newspapers and Responses

Back in August, Ryan and I were interviewed by the Kansas City Star about our lives. The article ran on September 4th.

When I agreed to be a part of the article, I did it for one reason. I wanted people to see that we’re just a normal couple who want normal couple things. I did not for a moment consider the response. My father-in-law was the first one to raise the prospect of reaction to me. He complimented how brave we were being to share our story. And how he and Ryan’s mom were so proud of us for speaking out.

I’ve read some of the comments that have appeared on the online version of the article, but it seems that anything truly mean were moderated out long before I got there.

The only direct response I got from the article was a frequent customer at the bank. She wanted to pass along how proud she was of me, but I wasn’t in the branch at the time. She became very concerned that my absence was some form of retaliation. That’d I’d been fired for revealing my orientation. One of my co-workers reassured her that I was in fact still employed, and that the bank includes sexual orientation in its own diversity policy.

Because the truth is there is no reason why my employer couldn’t decide tomorrow to fire me because I’m gay. It’s perfectly legal in Kansas. And in more than half of the United States.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Opinion Sandwich

I try to have a thick skin when it comes to media coverage of gay rights struggles. The push to show “both sides” of every issue often gives voice to people with hateful things to say.

I haven’t said anything here about a certain chicken restaurant and their increasingly public stance against marriage equality, because as private citizens and a private company, they are entitled to their views. I can and have chosen not to eat there.

But in the wake of the most recent dust-up, and the national media attention that it gained, several groups and media personalities (including former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee) organized an “Appreciation Day” for the restaurant yesterday.

National media buzzed with images and video of long lines and crowds at the restaurant’s many locations, and I was struck by something.

What did I do to deserve their scorn? Their derision? Their anger?

I just want to marry the man I love and live a quiet life together. Maybe have a son or daughter I can teach to ride a bike and take to Pixar movies.

But an apparently large number of people in this country believe strongly enough that I shouldn’t be allowed those things, that they lined up around the building to buy a chicken sandwich in “solidarity” against me.

This is what “second class” feels like.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Perspective

A couple of times in the past few days, I’ve seen Facebook friends share a photo with a version the following message:

“I was going to complain about the heat, but then I remembered that there are US soldiers in desert countries carrying lots of gear and being shot at.”

I get the sentiment that these people are trying to convey. That the current discomfort caused by the heat is nothing compared to what someone else might be going through.

But why aren’t they posting:

“I was going to complain about something my mother said, but then I remembered that upon ‘coming out’, 1 in 4 LGBT youth become homeless.”

Or:

“I was going to complain about having to wait 45 minutes for a table at this restaurant, but then I remembered that in the richest country in the history of the world 25% of children in the United States are in poverty and many of those kids will go to bed tonight with dinner.”

We live in a country where a great many of us have our basic needs met on a daily basis. We don’t worry whether we have a bed to sleep in or food to eat. And these same people are suffering in the heat too.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

They Are Not The Same

“What does it matter who you vote for? The two parties are pretty much the same anyway.”

“It’s like picking between the lesser of two evils.”

“It’s just a matter of deciding who’s gonna lie to you less.”

Every time I hear someone say something like this, I get hot under the collar. Because the only ways you could realistically think that the Democratic and Republican parties are the same is to be completely uninformed or lack any intelligence.

Democrats argue for raising the minimum wage, Republicans want it to stay the same or get rid of it.

Republicans want to privatize Social Security, Democrats want to strengthen the system as it is now.

Democrats think that regulating polluting is necessary to protect the environment, and Republicans think that it puts an undue burden on businesses.

Republicans think Labor Unions are a hinderance to the Free Market, but Democrats think Labor Unions are important to maintaining workers’ rights.

And last…

Democrats are for full marriage equality and protections from workplace discrimination for gay and lesbian citizens. Republicans ARE NOT.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The joke isn’t as funny as you think it is

We’ve all heard the joke.

“All marriages are same-sex marriages. Because after a few years it’s always the same sex.”

“Gays should have the right to be just as miserable as the rest of us.”

And I want you to know something about these jokes.

They’re not funny.

I know the comedian thinks he’s being funny. Or that the comedienne is using humor to try and show support for my equality.

But I’m going to be a wet blanket. The joke isn’t funny. I’ve written about why getting married is important to me. About all the protections that come along automatically with that change in legal status. And when a comedian tries to show their support for my cause by belittling the thing I’m fighting for, it makes me angry.

Because my parents have been happily married for 30 years, and while I know there have been bumps in the road, their lives have never seemed miserable.

And I just want the chance to be as happy as they are.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Somewhere in the Crowd

Do you know what is the single thing that most gay people have in common? Straight parents! (It’s also the leading cause of being straight, just so you know.) So even if this man who calls himself a pastor were to successfully round-up all the “lesbians and queers,” he wouldn’t succeed in his plan, because new gays are being born every day.

If that’s all there was to this clip, I wouldn’t care. People say stupid things all the time. Don’t believe me? Spend an hour on a video game message board or in the comment thread of a news story about a social issue. Actually, don’t.

But something else made me care about this clip. This clip made me sad. Not because this awful man is the pastor of a church, but because of what you can’t see in that video.

Somewhere in that audience is teenager who is starting to realize why he feels like an outsider when the other guys on the baseball team start talking about girls. And the pastor he’s been listening to for years, who his parents look up to as a spiritual leader, just said that he should die.

Growing up, I was very lucky to not attend any virulently anti-gay sermons. But I still lived in fear that I’d somehow give it away. That someone might find out about my secret.

Somewhere in that audience is a teenager who’s been picking on another boy in school because that boy’s slightly effeminate. And the pastor he’s been listening to for years, who his parents look up to as a spiritual leader, just reaffirmed his feeling about that boy deserving scorn and ridicule.

I was never the victim of bullying. But I still heard (and continue to hear) the many synonyms for “gay” used to describe undesirable things on a daily basis.

The realization that you’re gay is very isolating at the best of times and coming out is fraught with peril. And it breaks my heart that this sermon probably made someone’s journey that much harder.

And hopefully somewhere in that audience is a mother, brother, aunt, grandfather, cousin, uncle or father of someone who’s gay. And when they heard the hateful words of this narrow-minded man, they walked out of that church and decided never to go back. And then called their gay relative and told them that they are loved.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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