It sounds reasonable, until you put the shoe on the other foot!

Jerry Falwell’s website recently had commentary about a lesbian woman who filed suit against a company who provided film/video copying that refused to provide their services to her because the documentary she needed copied was about Gay Pride. His point seems to be that he doesn’t feel one should have to provide services to the gay or lesbian community, if it is offensive to you or goes against your religious beliefs. It sounds like a reasonable argument, until you put the shoe on the other foot.

Take for instance my own case. I am a Registered Nurse, and I work in the emergency department. I personally find alcoholics, drug addicts, religious bigots, and republicans morally objectionable. Should I not have to provide them services when they come into the ER? Can I pick and choose who gets CPR and who doesn’t? How about a Police Officer who happens to be gay or lesbian, are they not responsible for protecting the lives and property of religious bigots who persecute them, as well as the rest of the communities they serve? Should a gay or lesbian firefighter not be required to put out the flames at a church that regularly preaches against their rights to work, marry, and protect their families?

If someone is requesting something illegal, then I believe you have the right to refuse service to them. If you operate a business, and offer your services to the community, then you have to follow anti-discrimination law. You might not like it, believe me, we don’t either some times. It’s not easy to stand over a drunk who’s cursing you and calling you a ‘dyke’, while you’re trying to clean the urine they’ve dribbled all over themselves and help to suture up the gaping lacerations in their heads from the bar fight they were just in, and all the while they’re explaining how YOU are an abomination in God’s eyes. It’s not easy for a gay or lesbian police officers, firefighters, doctor’s, or paramedics who do their jobs every day without asking to be allowed to “pass this one up” because we don’t like the ideology of the person who needs our expertise.

Suck it up Falwell, we do it every day.

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The word “Lesbian” doesn’t make it porn!

A friend called me the other day, and told me that while she was at work, she could not look up any sites that had the word “Lesbian” in them, because the word is flagged by the company’s IT guys as “pornographic”. Well, at first I laughed about it, and thought that it’s just one more example of a man’s views on lesbian sex. Of course it’s pornographic to them! How many heterosexual porn flicks are there that DON’T have a lesbian sex scene in them? (Although I have to say that those scenes certainly are not representative of my experience with Lesbian sex in any way).

But then I began to think about it, and I realized how unfair it was. My friend works in a healthcare setting. Is there any reason why “The Lesbian Health Research Center” should not be available to her? How about the Office of Women’s Health site which hosts a Lesbian Health Facts page? This is a government site with health information that is important not only for lesbian women, but also professionals who provide care to them! If you do a search on Google with the term Lesbian Health, you get over forty nine THOUSAND sites in a half a second. I bet “Heterosexual” isn’t on the little list of porn words.

My friend is a private person, and a consummate professional. She would NEVER look up something inappropriate at work, and it is ridiculous that she can’t read anything that is of interest to her, even news articles with the word “Lesbian” in them for fear of jeopardizing her job for looking at “pornography” on the internet. It would almost be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

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The Conservative Right: Defining Marriage Right out of Existence

If you let the conservative right republicans define marriage, the only people in the U.S. who will be married in the U.S. will be heterosexual couples, of child bearing age who are fertile and capable of procreation, and who have a legal marriage certificate.

You see, according to Mitt Romney, and the rest of the right hand of the Republican Party, “marriage is primarily about the nurture and development of children”. It’s not about love, or interdependence, or nurturing each other. It’s about having babies in a religiously acceptable setting, and they get to define “acceptable”.

So tell me Mr. Romney, what about the thousands of people in this country who are infertile? What about the folks out there who are beyond child bearing age, but still desire the comfort of human companionship? What about the hundreds of thousands of heterosexual couples out there who are not married, but have been together for decades (and which by the way can file joint income tax returns despite not being married). What about those American’s who simply do not want to have children, are they not allowed into your heterosexual procreators only club?

The discriminatory amendments that are being written into many state constitutions and the one that the Republican Party is trying to have slapped into the U.S. Constitution are meant to only exclude gay and lesbian couples from getting married. But they are poorly written, in part because the authors are trying to write bigotry ridden amendments without sounding like bigots. As a result, all kinds of relationship issues are called into question, not just marriage. The right for a gay or lesbian partner to be at their loved ones bedside during times of illness or to be protected financially when they lose their partner, all of these issues are at risk of being invalidated by these bigoted amendments.

It is time for the religious right, and the Republican Party, to stop hiding behind arguments that they THINK sound less bigoted and more acceptable to main stream America, and say what they mean. In his speech at the Republican State Convention, Romney said, “Some people think we’re intolerant and not willing to let people choose their own lifestyle,”. If he were being honest, he would have left the “Some people think” off.

Romney is considering a run for the Presidency in 2008. I can’t even imagine replacing the bigot we have in there now, with this bigot.

© Suzanne Magee, All Rights Reserved

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Is it pride? Or a Party?

There are thousands of gay pride celebrations going on this month all across the U.S. as gay and lesbian Americans pay tribute to those who stood up in defiance during the stonewall riots in New York, and gave birth to the gay rights movement. At least that is what some of the celebrants will be doing at gay pride. Truth is a lot of the people that attend gay pride events this time of year, don’t know what the significance of the month is, or why we celebrate it. Many just see it is a chance to foster a sense of belonging and community. Some see it as a great opportunity to party. Some see it as platform for activism.

I guess in a sense, the event itself is a form of activism, regardless of your personal reason for being there. It does give our community an opportunity to be more visible and to remind local governments that we are here, in ever increasing numbers. Local officials understand that, numbers I mean. In a national election, a minority group doesn’t hold the political power that numbers entail. In smaller local elections (City Councils, Mayors, Judges, Sheriffs, etc.), having a minority group strongly behind you, or against you, can make a difference. I can’t imagine a candidate for the Governor’s office in Texas riding in a gay pride parade. But at the Alan Ross Freedom Parade in Dallas (Dallas’ Gay Pride Event), Mayor Laura Miller is a regular and respected participant. Last year, the first openly lesbian sheriff of Dallas was a welcomed participant and was cheered as she passed by. The event itself is without a doubt an opportunity for activism, but that’s not all it is.

Pride events are typically held in larger metropolitan areas, most of which have vibrant and active gay and lesbian communities in them. For the people who live in those areas, pride is a chance to get together and have a great party. But there are thousands of gay and lesbian Americans who live in rural areas where there are NEVER any gay pride parades or celebrations. They live in small towns where there is no “gay” part of town where it’s safe to hold hands, or put your arms around your partner. In a state like Texas, where they can still walk up to you and say “You’re fired, because you’re a lesbian”, the opportunity for activism has a real price attached to it. Living in areas where you have real fears of being the target of hate, or losing your ability to support your family is hard. Getting the opportunity to participate in an event like gay pride, being around thousands of other gay and lesbian Americans, being exposed to the activism that does go on, and getting the chance to breath a little easier while you hold your partners hand is well worth the 2 or 3 hour drive to get to “the city”. So we go, every year. We go to be activists, to party, to be with our community in a setting where we are safe for one day. We sit in parks and listen to music, play with our children, throw Frisbees with our dogs, listen to music, and buy HRC T-shirts and caps with fun slogans. My favorite cap last year said “Yes, I am a Lesbian” on the front, and “No, you can’t watch” on the back.

We don’t go to offend, or to fight, although as we in Dallas walk from the parade route to the park, we are always confronted with protestors carrying signs telling us to burn in hell, or that Jesus hates us. The Police keep the screaming, hateful crowd away from us though, and we just walk past and smile. We don’t have time to listen, or waste any effort trying to talk to them. After all, we just have today. Just this ONE day. Tomorrow, we go back to rural little towns and try to live not in the closet, but under the radar. We need our jobs and we have to live here. It was great to have that ONE day though. One day to party, and participate, and not feel so isolated and oppressed. One day to hold her hand and not be afraid. One day to life up my voice and still have a job. One day to stand with thousands who are just like me, and feel hope that someday, ONE day, we’ll be treated just like everyone else.

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A Crew of Bigots?

When Senator Hatch asks if anyone really wants to suggest “that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?”, do you think he REALLY wants an answer? Well that was exactly what he asked Senator Kennedy, who said “The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution,”. Senator Kennedy also said “A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law.” The Republican backers of the marriage amendment want Americans to believe that the wording of the amendment does nothing except prevent gay and lesbians from having a union defined as marriage. It’s easier to get people to swallow than telling them that they are trying to pass an amendment that would prevent any gay or lesbian couple from having the legal benefits associated with marriage, ever.

They don’t want to say that they are trying to destroy the thousands of legal marriages that have occurred between gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts, essentially “divorcing” those couples with their votes. Protecting marriage? It doesn’t sound like it to me.

I have no problem telling Senator Hatch “Yes. I think every single person who would vote for that amendment is a bigot.”

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Banishing Marriage in Mass

I heard a compelling argument against the marriage amendment today, one that almost made me laugh. The speaker was talking about the MASS state supreme courts ruling that does NOT specifically grant the right to marry to same sex couples, but simply states that same sex couples have to treated the same as heterosexual couples. The court basically said that if straights can marry, then gays and lesbians have the right to marry as well.

Here’s where it gets good. When the sodomy laws were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, they made the act of gay or lesbian sex, even between strangers, legal. Now, if the marriage amendment passes, two things happen. First of all, it means that the constitution of the United States recognizes and supports a persons right to have “casual” sex with whoomever they please, but prevents a group of those people from forming lasting, committed, and recognized relationships. Second, it means that in MASS, where the state’s supreme court has said that ALL people must be treated equally there, will have a dilemma. If gays and straights have to be treated the same when it comes to marriage, and the federal government forbids gays to marry, guess what happens to heterosexual marriage in MASS? It ceases to exist. If they can’t grant the right to gays and lesbians to marry becuase of a federal amendment, then they have to deny that same right to heterosexual couples.

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How about a constitutional amendment banning heterosexual divorce?

I’ve been listening to the Alliance for Marriage press conference as they push for passage of the marriage amendment today. The first thing that I noticed is that almost every person that spoke on their behalf today was a religious leader of some sort, and again they were dancing around their true agenda. If you listen to what they are saying out loud, you would think that their support of the marriage amendment was designed to help ensure that children in america don’t grow up in single parent families, and that their support has nothing to do with the desire to enshrine their own religious views into the constitution to limit the rights of an oppressed minority. They keep saying it’s not religious bigotry, or social bigotry, but a genuine concern for the state of the american family, which by their own descriptions is in a sorry state of decline.

Well, if the american family is in a state of decline, it isn’t because of same sex couples folks. Same sex marriage is not a cause of heterosexual divorce, or heterosexual promescuity outside of marriage, or rising numbers of unwed teenagers becoming parents. Remember that WE are the minority, and the overwhelming role model for young people in this country is now, and has always been heterosexual marriage. If it’s in decline, don’t point your finger at us and try to use it to justify writing your bigoted agenda into the constitution.

If the goal of this legislation is to prevent fractured families and single parent homes, then how about a ban against HETEROSEXUAL divorce? It makes about as much sense. If your goal is to “save” heterosexual marriage, then why be looking at relationships that have nothing to do with it and hoping that by diminsihing them, you somehow improve your own familial relationships? The answer is really pretty simple. They are not seeking to strengthing families, or protect children. They are trying to force their particular religious opinions on everyone, in every state. But they can’t SAY that, not overtly anyway. They have to make their argument be about something other than their religious views, because they know that making the issue based on those views would preclude it from being written into the constitution based on the first sentnce of the bill of rights.

What we’re seeing now is an attempt to amend the constitution by using the back door, because the separation of church and state is blocking the front door.

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January 20, 2009

There are a lot of dates that you look forward to in your life. The kind of dates that you mark on your calendar and scratch off each day counting down to them off, thinking that’s one down and however many to go. Marking the days off helps, you can look at the big red “X” over the previous day and say “Hey, I made another one. That’s one less to get through!” Days like that for me in the past have included my 18th birthday, my 21st birthday, and the due date of my son (what a great surprise when he came early).

But the date that I’m waiting for now is different. It’s not a milestone in just my own life, but one that affects everyone. Waiting for the the current administrations last term to end, finally. It’s a little frustrating though, try finding a calendar that looks that far ahead that’s not computer based (I like the ones I can hang on the wall and look at every day). Want to make it even more interesting, try making a note on everyday that Bush says or does something that ticks you off. LOTS of stars on MY calendar. Even better, make little check marks every time one of his right wing nut buckets gets indicted or convicted of something. The Calendar is starting to look REALLY busy now.

Have you ever had to clean up when one tenant moved out, before the next one could move in? Can you imagine trying to clean up after Bush? Try cleaning up the budget deficit (which was a surplus when he got a hold of it), immigration, border security, the attack on american civil rights, the wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, the one on the middle class of America, and probably Iran by the time he’s finished). Our next president will be “X”ing off a lot of days doing clean up, before they can even get started on rebuilding.

Still, the days are getting “X”‘s one at a time. January 20th, 2009 is coming. Let’s just hope that we do a better job picking a new tenant for the Whitehouse this time, one who see’s ALL Americans as equal, and deserving of the same civil liberties that he enjoys. A president that thinks before he speaks, and understands that most Americans want to hear intelligent conversation about important issues, not egotistic cowboy slang. Most of all, I hope we choose a president this time who understands that it is the American voter that put him there, and not divine intervention (That is REALLY scary).

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