Defense of Gender Act Goes Down, But We’re All Still Missing the Point!!

Most people believe the current gay marriage debate is about whether gay people can legally marry.  In actuality, nowhere in the US does sexual orientation have any bearing on marriage legality.  A gay man and a lesbian could waltz up to any justice of the peace in this country, in any state, wearing matching rainbow leggings, carrying pride flags instead of flowers, and tie the knot, no questions asked.  Constitution upheld, fabric of society unscathed.

The truth is, Proposition 8, DOMA, state marriage amendments, Chris Christie’s veto in NJ, the Pope, the protests, and the two major Supreme Court opinions received today aren’t about gay or marriage at all.  They’re about gender.  The act struck down by SCOTUS today might more appropriately be called DOGA –  the “Defense of Gender Act.”

If the introduction of “gayness” into marriage was really what folks in California, and elsewhere, wanted to prevent, then why do we allow the many mixed-orientation marriages that occur all over the US, many of them involving children?  If “gay marriage” isn’t about gay people getting married, then what is the “profound redefinition of a bedrock social institution” Mr. Cooper, legal counsel defending Proposition 8 (the  California same-sex marriage ban) was debating with the supreme court justices?  Mr. Cooper’s argument wasn’t about gay people at all.   He repeatedly referred to “redefining marriage as a genderless institution.”  Mr. Cooper was arguing a case for upholding the gender binary.

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Pro-Life Means Fighting for the Already Born, Not Just Fetuses

Part 2 or a 2-Part Series on Abortion.  Trigger warning for, well, most upsetting things.

In my last post, I told the story of 18 year-old Alma, a pregnant girl in the child protective services system who has an unusually good chance of becoming self-sufficient and getting her family off government support if she has an abortion.  I discussed the various pro-life ways of looking at the situation: pro-baby’s life versus pro-Alma’s life as well as her future children and descendants’ lives.  Who decides which life and what aspect of life to prioritize?  I chose Alma’s story because is not black and white.  I believe in Alma’s case, the choice to keep her baby and the choice to abort it would both come with tremendous grief, both result in extreme loss, and also both be life-enhancing in different ways.  I saw both choices as “pro-life.”  But Alma’s story is not common for kids like her.

In order to choose what is “pro-life” we have to ask ourselves what IS life?  Are there points at which life becomes much like death, or even worse than death?  Are there times when in order for life to continue to mean something someone who is “pro-life” might advocate death?  This may sound extreme, but how many of us have thought an elderly or suffering relative was “in a better place” or “not suffering anymore.”  What these statements essentially suggest is that someone is better off dead.  Yes, I understand, we don’t actively kill folks in those situations, but most of us can imagine the point at which life would be worse than death for us or a loved one.  That line is different for each of us, but most of us have experienced a situation where we feel that the kindest thing, the most life-affirming, pro-life thing, would be for someone to die.  For most of us, fortunately, it’s harder to imagine a “living death” when we think of a child.  But not for me.  Not after seven years working with poor, abused, and neglected kids and teens.

Walking to and from school dodging gunfire.  Is that life?  Being repeatedly raped by one’s father over the course of years while family members do nothing, or blame you.  Is that life?  Is being slammed in the head with a two-by-four for coming home past curfew, life?  Is being severely burned or shaken to death, life?  Is having one’s limbs broken at 6 months old, life?  Is weekly fist fights with a parent, life?  Is eating paint and dog food for weeks until a neighbor discovers you’ve been left in the care of a dog at 3 years old, life?  Is watching your twin slowly starve to death because a parent refuses food as a punishment, life?  Is being kicked out of your home because you identify as a lesbian, life?  Is watching your father beat and anally rape your mother while she screams for mercy, life?  Is raising three younger siblings at eight years old while your heroine addict parents vomit on themselves, life?  Is beating your mother’s boyfriend with a metal pole after he stabs her in the face, life?  Is being shot by gang members and left to bleed out after fighting back during a gang rape, life?

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My “It Gets Better” To America

Marriage Equality is on the move!

Too many times throughout history, people in economic distress, feeling hopeless and scared, have chosen hate over love, broken the bonds that should have held them together, and turned backward instead of moving forward.  Too often under stress, human nature propels us to choose the false promise of a quick fix, rather than slogging through the difficult work of true progress.

This week, Americans made a different choice.  Ironically, despite all our disappointment in Obama for not delivering the hope and change he promised, after our collective reckoning with how hard and slow change truly is, we chose hope anyway.  We chose the vision of a society we create together, where freedom is truly shared, rather than lies and false promises based on sketchy math and reactionary social positions.  Rather than returning to historical practices limiting reproductive freedoms, to the view that men are the most capable of making choices about women’s bodies, we said no to moving backwards, and yes to equality.

We said no to Minnesota’s attempt to limit the definition of marriage to one man, one woman.  For the first time in our country’s history, citizens went to the poles and affirmed the rights of gay couples to marry.  In Maryland, Maine, and probably Washington (in every state, in fact, that posed the question) citizens voted for civil rights. The same country that after September 11 passed laws based in hate, to ascribe second class status to queer citizens, and that allowed irrational, self-destructive foreign policies to prevail, said no to war-mongering and yes to common sense.  We said yes to love, yes to fairness, and one vote at a time, brought gay people closer to full participation in our democracy, with the rights and privileges those of us perceived as heterosexual enjoy.

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The “Marriage will fix it!” Presidential Platform

Dear Mr. Romney,

I am concerned that despite being a presidential candidate, you seem a bit perplexed by our world.  When you suggested a causal link between folks shooting each other up with automatic weapons and… single parents, I became highly disruptive to the small gathering of progressive viewers I was hosting at my home (not that that’s your fault, of course).  My high pitches shrieks of “NO, no, oh HELL no, whhaaat?” brought me back to a time when Dan Quayle tried to blame societal ills on sitcom character Murphy Brown.  In addition to single moms, you Republicans also seem to put quite a lot of blame on teachers for everything from the recession to colon polyps.  Remarkably, It always seems to be some almost entirely female group that is to blame for societal ills.  Why do Republicans do this?

“We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the — the benefit of having two parents in the home — and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them in the American system.”

It seems to me the last few horrific gun crime incidents were perpetrated by highly educated males.  The Aurora shooter had a PhD.  Another recent shooter was a psychiatrist.  Just heard today the Aurora and Giffords shooters both came from two-parents households.  Oops.  Not hanging together so far, Mitt.  I’m thinking if we want people to stop using mass murder weapons we have to stop people from getting them – smart people, uneducated people, people with single and married parents, almost entirely male people.  I don’t think blaming female people is going to get us anywhere.

But okay, the other points you make about marriage are valid, sort of.  Married folks do enjoy a higher quality of life, do better financially, are healthier, better educated, (oh, and have more sex, but you wouldn’t care about that, now would you Mr. Governor, sir?).

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