Sunday, November 16, 2008

The "Invasion" of Gays

At random, I came across this video of older people sitting around and talking about the issue of gays. Don't ask why this was on video, I wouldn't know. I was looking up videos on equality and somehow found this one. At any rate, the man doing most of the talking of course referred to God's will as the reason "homosexuality ain't right" (as he stated). He then said something about being scared of the direction this country was headed, because "Gays are trying to take over...look at them, they already are."

At that point, I envisioned a militia of stereotypical gay males, uniforms decorated with neat flower arrangements and fancy hairdos, fighting alongside stereotypical lesbians, all gruff and taking charge. I couldn't help but laugh to myself with these thoughts. I knew better than whatever the man was describing about "gays taking over." He was apparently full of fears...fear of the unknown whenever you let less popular groups have the same rights as the majority.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending both the rally at the Capitol as well as the candlelight vigil in Midtown. Kristin and the kids were right there with me, of course. We cheered, listened to the speakers, and enjoyed small conversations with the strangers (but allies) surrounding us. It was great to see a crowd, but I really thought it could have been larger. I attribute some of the absences to the short notice. But, other fellow gays told me they wouldn't be in attendance for fears that the media might capture their image and they'd be outed. I definitely respect their reasons. It's just a shame, though, that so much negativity could be imposed on a person because of his or her sexual orientation.

So, while in attendance, and thinking about things, a few thoughts crossed my mind. Morghan, my 11 year-old, expressed concerns about her and her brother being taken away from me. I told her that yes, it was a concern for a lot of same-sex couples, but not for us and our circumstances. In our case, it would only be an issue if the dad brought me to court, but there's a larger chance of him winning the lottery than taking me to court. At this point, he wouldn't have a leg to stand on. I've raised them on my own since they were born, and he has yet to prove that he can take care of himself, let alone two children. It made me realize how lucky I was in that department.

That spurred me to think about all the older children and teens who have been left in Nebraska, a state whose "safe haven" laws were written too vaguely. I wondered if any of those people who chose to leave their kids behind are gay. OR...was it "those straight people." There those straighties go with their natural abilities and then leaving their kids to be raised by someone else.

Here's another thought that crossed my mind (Yeah, I was thinking again)...

I thought about the evolution of civil rights in the United States. When European males decided to "come in and take over the place," it was only THEM who had rights. In fact, the initial reason for our Electoral College system of presidential voting was because the powers to be didn't feel an average citizen was informed enough to decide who gets into office. So...the first major step was allowing "average Joes" the chance to vote. After all...there was fear that folks outside their "clique" would ruin things for the current system, most comfortable for them.

We all know, of course, it was a long time before Americans came to terms with the fact that blacks were people, too...not property. It was an even longer time before they could vote, and it was a bit after that before women could vote. Later down the road, Americans had to come to terms with the idea of us all being able to attend the same schools and get the same service in the same location, all at the same time. Many feared what would happen to America if those without equal rights were actually treated like real citizens and given the same respect. Oh my!

I wasn't around during the 50s-60s civil rights movements (nor do I have any past life memories of such). I really have nothing to say in defense of the fears going around. As I teach in a diverse environment, one being recognized as an official "No Place for Hate" school, I must say I really like this integration thing. Get day in class with my 7th was at the beginning of the year when there were only 4 kids in the group...I asked them about their ethnicities (first explaining the difference between race and ethnicity). Would you believe that in a group of just 5 people, every last one of us had a different ethnic origin? We all traced back to different countries and most of the kids were multi-racial as well. How neat. Would you believe that just 50 years ago, my classroom would have been empty?

Anyway, my slight...and very slight...defense of those who were against desegregation is that they had no experience with people unlike them, and therefore, they were uncomfortable with the idea. This meant allowing their kids to attend school alongside different kids, they'd have to possibly work with people of other races, and most of all, they'd have to go about life alongside others (That seat at the front of the bus wouldn't be so "safe" anymore). It was a major step outside their comfort zone. Although their comfort zone was unfair and ignorant, it was something they had to make mental adjustments for.

This brings me to today...the civil rights we are currently asking quite nicely for (Yes, us gays who are "taking over" are being quite kind about it.)...don't actually require the concessions of the majority as the civil rights reforms of the past. Think about it...we want sexual orientation to be included in EOE statements right alongside race, sex, religion, disability, etc. We want to have our unions formally recognized...our partners given the same legal privileges as opposite-sex spouses inherently claim upon marriage...and we want to be able to raise a family...give it the love, guidance, and responsible upbringing that opposite-sex couples can legally do...not only without obstacles, but also with the encouragement of others. In fact, opposite-sex couples who choose NOT to have children often catch slack about it. So anyway...these rights I speak of (or type of)...these require no adjustment on the part of others who do not agree with same-sex relations.

Sure...people say that gay relationships aren't good for kids, aren't good for the public, etc. They refer to their beliefs about God (though my beliefs about God tell me I'm okay with Him), and why this should not be allowed. However...all they really gain from our lack of civil rights is their mental comfort of knowing it's not formally recognized. I'm certainly not going to leave Kristin to find me a husband. I don't know of any gays who are planning to drop their partners and marry opposite-sex. In reality, we just have more hoops to jump through with paperwork. But the essence in what they are trying to relationships altogether...won't happen. When people see me and Kristin in public, they know we are a lesbian couple (except for the few who think she's my oldest child...hahaha....and I only have 3 years on her!). Thus, we are visible, like many others. The rights we don't have at this point in our life don't change the things that Proposition H8ers want to see changed. We are still here. We are still gay. Our lives haven't changed, but most of all, neither have theirs.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Day Glory and Devastation

Wow, election day was exhausting this year. This was such an important day. Election morning I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. The only thing I could compare it to was the feeling of excitement I had leading up to Christmas. This was going to be my best Christmas ever, and my present would be President-elect Obama.

By 1pm on election day I was exhausted from the intense excitement I was feeling. I needed a nap, but when you have a 3 year old anti-napping daughter, it was out of the question. So I dragged myself through the day. Working here and there, and checking the television periodically to see if there were any election problems, etc.

By 4pm, I am 100% convinced Obama is going to win the election. Not an ounce of uncertainty. I think this was some type of election mania, because I felt as if God had told me Himself that this would happen and I didn't need to worry anymore. It was such a relief, and I passed this information on to others, but they did not share my certainty.

By 6pm, I have decided this is an official holiday in our household, so we are going to celebrate with pizza, cupcakes, etc. (this is how we celebrate now). I give my daughter her special Princess Soup that she had picked out days before, and decide to call my mom to pass some time because I know my mom and dad are bouncing off the walls waiting for the election results, too. They live in Florida and have had an election or two stolen from them. My retired mom spent so many hours working for Obama--making phone calls, knocking on doors, handing out food to people waiting in line to vote (she rocks!).

It is 6:30pm, my daughter's gigantic bowl of soup is eaten and I look down and she is passed out in the Lazy Boy chair. At first, a little disappointed we didn't get to share more excitement about Obama's impending election, but then I realize, YES!, we get to have more time to watch the election results!!!

It is 7pm, the wife and I are sitting down in front of the tv with our delicious celebratory pizza and beer (a luxury in the Kelly household these days!!) with CNN on. Not enough is happening. I am flipping the channels between news shows, but nothing really exciting. The hologram on CNN was kind of cool, and I like they waited until election night to launch it. But, this night is about our Presidential win, so away with the holograms.

By 9pm, we are so exhausted, but the win seems apparent. My prediction coming true. Thank you, God. The wife passes out for a nap. I wake her for the official decision and to see Obama. We both agree John McCain showed his best side in his concession speech. We are grateful for the way he handled the loss ( I think that is the liberal in us).

The evening is so incredibly powerful. For so many of us, this election was critical for our existence. Could we go on without this win? I am not sure, and certainly so grateful to not test it.

The wife and I are an oppressed people. We are gay moms who want a world that respects our family with the same equality and dignity shown the heterosexual world. This want has grown so much stronger now that we are parents. Wouldn't it be so great for our daughter to grow up in a world where her parents were treated equally? If it weren't for our daughter, I could live with being discriminated against. I would still fight the fight, but it means so much more knowing there is a little life coming behind us that will one day experience the unpleasantness our world has to offer.

As an oppressed people, the wife and I hold hands as we watch Obama give his election night speech. We are so moved. It is such a powerful moment, and it causes us to feel so much more hopeful about our future as Americans, and as Gay Americans. The future couldn't look brighter.

It is 1AM, I go to my computer to check the election results for the anti-gay ballot measures in Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, and California. I am devastated by the results. The spiritual fulfillment I had moments before knocked completely out of me.

Arkansas votes to stop gay people from adopting or foster parenting. Jesus, how could this happen. 57% voted for the ban.

Florida, where they have worked so hard on their marriage amendment, loses its battle by a small margin. They needed 60% to pass the amendment, and they got 62%.

Arizona, which has been beating back marriage amendments in the past, loses its marriage amendment with 56% voting to approve the anti-gay measure.

And the most devastating loss of the evening: California, where marriage had just become legal earlier in the year. Now, the election has not been finalized, so I pray I have to eat this post, but it looks as though the anti-gay marriage amendment passed by 52%. I am so bummed. How could people vote on our lives that way as if we were property taxes or something. My God, we are human beings, and our rights are being voted on by the people. What kind of country is this?

Lots of lies were told by conservatives in these campaigns, so can I blame straight people for believing them? When the Catholic and Mormon churches tell the people lies about the marriage laws and about us as parents, can I blame people for believing them? If you can't believe your church, who can you believe?

I am sickened today by both the election outcomes and the fact that people think they have the right to vote on our lives in this way in the first place. I am reminded of the African American journey in this country, and how we proudly elected a Black man president tonight.

I probably have 20+ years to win my civil rights, but my daughter only has one childhood to experience and it is now. So, forgive me for my impatience, but my daughter is everything to me. I just want the best life for her, and people voting on our family is not part of my plan.

Tonight, you anti-gay voters suck. Tomorrow, hopefully, I will feel called to continue the work of educating you better.

God Bless President-Elect Obama.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The eve of a historic election

It is the eve of one of the most historic elections of my life. There is so much at stake, and I am both nervous and optimistic about our future. I, like many other Americans, have been anticipating tomorrow for so long. Will our families face a win tomorrow in the many elections in our state and across the country? I hope so.

We must keep our eyes on what happens in California with the efforts to overturn the right for same-sex couples to marry. It is critical to the civil rights of all our families that the marriage amendment, Proposition 8, lose tomorrow. It would be devastating and wrong to grant gay people the right to marry and then take it away again. Let's pray the people of California vote for equality for all families.

Keep an eye on Florida also. Thanks to the great work of Equality Florida, they have a good shot at defeating the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment.

So pray, cross your fingers, or do whatever moves you so we have a good outcome tomorrow. And please, DON"T FORGET TO VOTE!