Tag Archive: gay marriage

A Marriage of Equals

My dad really offended me the other day by circulating an article he had found online called, “How the Left has sabotaged marriage.” His fairly progressive Lutheran church has been holding a lecture series on their evolving position on gay marriage and Christianity. I don’t know if the article my father found was part of that series, I know that I felt alienated regardless.

Having a safe place for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people to worship might be a game changer, yet most traditional churches tolerate alternative sexual orientations, but don’t really go to the extra effort to welcome us into their fold. There’s something especially empowering about a group of people coming together to worship a God of their understanding, whatever religion that is. Unfortunately, traditional churches still have not made a place at the table for those in the minority.

I can’t really go to my local parish and feel welcome, and that’s a shame. I find myself casting about, looking at other religions to see what might fit, but not finding any religion particularly open-minded. Having a place to belong, and knowing you belong there, is life enhancing, yet it’s not something I truly experience.

And now, of course, it’s the political season. I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter, but even Saturday Night Live made fun of the Left for its glacially slowly evolving position on gay marriage. Kate McKinnon, playing Hillary, went for a drink at a bar where the real Hillary Clinton was working as a bartender named Val. Val tried to bring up, “Oh, you’ve really helped out gay rights,” and Kate’s character kept insisting, almost to the point of absurdity, “But I could have done more.”

The democratic position is practically the only tenable position for a gay man to hold unless he’s so wholly self loathing that he likes being relegated to second-class citizenship status. Aside from transgendered icon Caitlyn Jenner, the Republican party rarely embraces the LGBT community.

I look forward to the day when I can get married in a traditional, not entirely alternative, wedding service, but I’m not sure that will happen in my lifetime. Still, we’ve come miles and miles since Stonewall, and the fight has changed from the basic right of being seen at a bar in public to the right to marry and spend your life with one person.


Short and Sweet

Dating during these treacherous times, the electronic age of byte, can prove problematic, and make one give up all together, yet I for one remain an optimist at heart. Surely these must be that one special person for each of us, that lifelong companion we are meant to be with. Then again, I have a library friend Judy in her early 60’s who’s deliciously attractive, emminently desirable, and still certainly marriage material–no Sadie, sadie, married old lady for her. She’s never given up on the premise that she can find true love again. And I applaud the effort. I wish I shared one iota of her optimism. I ask that you pray for her to find her way.

We all have to have passions. Hers is horses, mine is tennis and word play. I’m a regular bard, if I do say so myself. Electronics, as most of us learn, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, is a double edged sword–you have to be careful not to impale yourself on it. It can serve you, but it can also suck you in, you need to know how to get it to work for you, also a tricky proposition.

Nevertheless. I remain an optimist. Just because I am like a loon, doesn’t mean you need to be too. Loons, just an FYI, mate for life, and never form another partnership on the same intimate level.

That’s enough profundity for this morning.

Equal Under The Sun

Take Off The Gloves

In 2008, California, a supposedly progressive state, passed a bill titled, Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage statewide. Now that very law, a seemingly discriminatory law, is before the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2008, the ban passed with 52 percent of the public vote, but the pendulum has swung, and attitudes in California have seemingly shifted radically. As it stands right now, nine states recognize either civil unions or gay marriage whereas 30 states have statewide constitutional bans disallowing that basic civil right.

Now, as I write this, the legality of Proposition 8 is being challenged in the highest court in the land. President Barack Obama’s team took an unprecedented step in filing a brief with the court asking the Supreme Court to consider the merits of marital equality for all.

I’m Catholic, and I certainly understand the reticence of the more conservative members of society to embrace Marriage Equality, and I’ve coached other Catholic parishioners and friends to pray about whether to support gay marriage. I’ve told my Catholic friends that it’s indeed a discernment process. For those who’ve not been paying much attention to the movement within the Catholic faith, the new pope, Francis I, though stopping short of supporting Marriage Equality, made a radical reversal in the Church’s stance on contraception by issuing an edict stating that contraception is acceptable to stop the spread of disease. For all those Catholics who’ve practiced safe sex outside of the sanctity of marriage, this is an enormous leap forward. It virtually allows for the use of contraception for individuals who aren’t bonded by the legal contract of marriage.

Back when Bill Clinton was president of the United States, Congress and the Senate in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act, more commonly known as DOMA. This law clearly defined marriage as a contract between a man and a woman, excluding the right of gay men and lesbians to marry. This law had the effect of denying Social Security survivor benefits and federal tax deductions to gays.

In Illinois right now, there’s a bill before Congress, called, The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act that has already been passed by the Illinois Senate. I encourage supporters of gay marriage in the Chicagoland area or throughout Illinois to contact their Congressional state representatives by email or online petition to indicate support for this bill as this new bill is about to be voted on in the Illinois legislature.

Like the Virginia Slim’s cigarette commercial, “We’ve come a long way baby!”

A Good Man Named Harold

After the first Mayor Daley, and before the accendancy of the second Daley, Richard M., there was in-fighting in Chicago, and after the Bilandiac fiasco with the snow storm that never got cleared, there was room for change, and that change came in the form of a black man named Harold Washington. Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley were competing for Chicago’s votes, and there was at last the opportunity for something new. Ironically since Lincoln freed the slaves, it seemed especially appropriate that a black man would rule the once oh so corrupt political machine politics Chicago is famous for. Remember this is also the state that elected our very first Black president. Like the Virginia Slims commercial proudly states, “We’ve come a long way baby. . .”

And now we have Jewish mayor Ramh Emmanuel. Can you imagine?

Legalize Love

Despite the superfluity of recent conversations, conflicts, and contentions, I had not intended to blog on the topic of gay marriage, but with the president stating his revised opinion, I felt I might as well weigh in with my thoughts.

My father, when I first came out as a gay man, worried about being shamed by my sexual orientation, and told me when I was nineteen, “Just don’t ever embarrass us.”  I think he had seen what he deemed radicals stumping for the cause of gay rights.

Homosexuality itself was included in the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) of abnormalities until 1973.  Being gay used to be considered a mental disorder.  These disorders were traditionally diagnosed when symptoms substantially interfere with daily functioning.  This was eventually shown not to be the case for gay individuals.

After the Stonewall riots in 1969, gay rights activists focused on educating people that being gay is an orientation, not a “alternative lifestyle choice” made by “maladjusted individuals.”  These activists also put civil rights for gay men and women on the fast track to being afforded to all, not just heterosexuals.  I’m reminded of the Virginia Slim’s ad for cigarettes:  “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

My father has come a long way in not only accepting me, but also being proud of who I am.  Still, he supports civil unions, but not gay marriage.   Many heterosexuals balk at allowing the word marriage to refer to a union between a man and a man or a woman and woman.  To me, it is a matter of semantics, and I’m constantly amazed how one little word can inflame the passions of a fair number of heterosexuals.

Several states now allow gay marriage, including,  New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, the District of Columbia, and even Mitt Romney’s home state of Massachusetts.  In May, 2004, Massachusetts became the very first state to issue same-sex marriage licenses.  (Comment on that, Mitt, especially when you are accused of being out-of-touch with the will of the people since you don’t even support the will of your own state’s constituency).

Other states, including Illinois (my home state), now allow civil unions.  (I personally have never really figured out the qualitative difference between civil unions and gay marriage, but that’s only one aspect of the issue).  Romney has commented recently, saying, “My view is that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman, and that’s my own preference.”

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg struck back in saying, “No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people, and I have no doubt that this will be no exception.”

Jesse Jackson also had his say:  “If the states had to vote on slavery, we would have lost the vote.  If we had to vote on the right (for black men and women) to vote, we would have lost that vote.”

Many black people distance themselves from the issue of gay rights and civil legislation to protect the rights of what can sometimes be considered “an invisible minority.”  They don’t seem to want comparisons between the rights of African-Americans and the rights of gay people, which makes it all that much more meaningful that Jesse Jackson stood up to be counted, making sure his voice was heard as a supporter of the inalienable rights of every individual.

Change comes slowly, incrementally.  If you don’t want gay marriage, don’t marry one of us.

In the meantime, let’s legalize love.