Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 13, 2010

Five ways to talk to the religious right about marriage

This post was inspired by Five Ways To Talk To The Left About Same-Sex Marriage, by Eric Pavlat, and the discussion thread that followed.

The “religious right” in this instance may be Catholic or Evangelical or Baptist… as I noted to Pavlat in his post, “the left” in his definition would include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The post which led me to Pavlat’s had already used the title Five Ways To Talk to the Other Side About Same-sex Marriage, or I might have used that.

1. Bear in mind that pretty much everything these people know about homosexuality or transgender identity is wrong.

If you want to know the kind of stuff they’ve been told is The Truth About Homosexuality, the Friendly Atheist blog recently paid for two people to attend an AFTAH event and hear the kind of stuff being said and write an outline of it post-event: but for example: Pride events are portrayed as public orgies in which people have “dangerous sex” right on the street. (This is the kind of thing that would only make sense to people who have not only never attended a Pride rally or march as participant, but also have never had one held in their home town.) And being gay or lesbian is “caused” by having been molested by an older gay or lesbian person: for a more detailed account of how this kind of unspeakably cruel lie is promoted to the homophobic parents of LGBT children, see Love Won Out.

Also, right at the start: in eleven countries round the world same-sex couples can already marry: in about twenty more same-sex couples can register a civil union with rights equivalent to marriage: and in none of them has the freedom to marry led to any of the awful consequences which the anti-marriage activists evoke.

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November 4, 2009

Bigots win in Maine

It’s beginning to look like a pattern: US legislatures agree there’s no point in legally enforcing bigotry by denying marriage to same-sex couples, and pass a law repealing the ban. Then homophobic bigots force a referendum, and a majority of Americans, asked if they believe in liberty and justice for all or if they want to deny rights to a minority… go for the bigoted option.

What is it about liberty, about justice, about equality, that so many Americans loathe so much? Why do so many Americans really believe that if a majority don’t want a minority to have the same equal rights as everyone else, the majority ought to get to deny it to them?

No doubt I will cool down about this later on. The homophobic bigots have more money and the power to shout louder: but they are also an ageing group. Opposition to the freedom to marry is a losing game: eventually the anti-Constitutional DOMA will be overthrown, by a Supreme Court decision even if there’s never a federal legislature with the guts to affirm the US Constitution in the face of the bigots who think it doesn’t apply to queers. Eventually: there are twenty-plus countries round the world who support the legal right for same-sex couples to wed. Homophobic Christians may proclaim all they like that they know their God hates queers and the law of the land ought to enforce their God’s will, but in a functional democracy theocratic law is eventually doomed. Eventually.

But it takes so long, and the cause of bigotry leads to so much human misery as it dies.

To the bloggers who rejoice today because they hate children and want them to be forcibly removed from their parents: well, there’s nothing worse I can wish you than your corrosive hate for children and their parents will do to your own mind.

October 16, 2009

Bigots never think they’re bigots

And when a man like Keith Bardwell refuses to perform the marriage ceremony for two adults legally allowed to be married, he’ll claim it’s for the sake of the children or because these kind of relationships don’t last long.

Four decades since Loving vs Virginia, and racist scumbags still think they have the right to judge the success of a relationship by the colour of the couple’s skins. The least surprising thing about Keith Bardwell is that he believes himself not to be racist.

People who argue that same-sex couples ought to be denied marriage invariably claim not to be homophobic, too.

July 7, 2009

Bigots or sociopaths?

Two people meet, fall in love, decide to get married, decide to have children together: what could be more humanly understandable?

Christians who oppose same-sex marriage or same-sex parents or who promote anti-gay discrimination in other ways, usually come across as inhuman, because they really appear not to understand what’s so very human.

“Lesbians and gays have equal rights – they can just get married to a person of the opposite sex, just like straight people do”

What this says, unpacked, is that your Christian advocate against same-sex marriage really believes that marriage isn’t anything to do with making a lifelong committment to the one person in the world whom you have chosen to love, honour, cherish and live with to the end of both your days – marriage is just a legal emotionless contract where anyone will do so long as they’re the right gender. This isn’t just unChristian – it’s inhuman. It’s sociopathic. The notion that people are interchangable – just pieces in a game where what matters is not the individual but the gender – is something completely off from normal humanity.

The usual argument brought forward to support opposition to same-sex marriage is that a same-sex couple “can’t have children”, which actually makes it even worse: marriage has now become a means merely of producing babies which are biologically the offspring of husband and wife, and any couple who aren’t biologically capable of producing babies together ought not to be allowed to get married. In this scenario, marriage has nothing to do with parenting children together, nothing to do with children growing up sheltered and protected by a loving and committed relationship – it’s purely and solely about biological fertility.

A same-sex couple can of course have children: either by AID or by surrogacy, or by adoption or fostering, or step-children from a previous marriage. These are ways in which mixed-sex couples have children too. But legally, while there are countries in which a spouse can divorce their wife or husband for being infertile, in practice it is only these anti-gay Christians who advocate that a couple ought to separate and find other partners if they can’t have children together and still wan them.

Arguments against same-sex marriage have, to my knowledge, included strong statements that a married couple ought not to expect love or passion – that marriage isn’t anything to do with the joy that two people may take in each other. This is an argument against the idea that a same-sex couple are justified in wanting to commit their lives to each other because they love each other. When it’s argued simply and directly as that it’s fairly plain bigotry – if a lesbian or gay person wants to be married and can’t fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, well, they should just marry without love. But when – as these advocates often try to do – it’s argued as if it were a general principle, that marriage isn’t about love, passion, or joy, it’s a legal protection for engendering children – this sounds horribly as if these people have themselves no other experience of marriage. They don’t argue for love in marriage because they don’t themselves feel love for their partner, nor can they imagine that other people do.

Are these people bigots, or sociopaths? Does it matter? Are they ill from the inability to love or even to imagine love, or are they just sick haters who cannot bear the idea of two men or two women who do love each other taking marriage vows to love, to honour, and to cherish each other lifelong?

The problem expands horrifyingly when these people talk about children – not merely when they try to come up with pseudo-scientific ideas about how two men or two women can’t parent children “properly” (no study or research backs this idea, it comes directly from the Institute of It Stands To Reason, which is based at the University of What Everyone Knows) – but when they try to argue that same-sex couples ought not to have children together.

Same-sex couples can be prevented from adopting or fostering children together by passing legislation. (What this means for children in need of adoptive parents is simply that a gay man or a lesbian will adopt a child as if they were a single parent, and the child won’t be allowed the security of a legal relationship with their other dad or other mom.) Nothing but a strongly fascist state can prevent a lesbian from using a sperm donation to conceive, if she wants to: the only legislative options there are to prevent the child conceived from having the security of two legal parents.

All the legislation against same-sex parents being able to adopt or foster as a couple, or having their joint parenthood of a child conceived by donor acknowledged, is primarily damaging to the children of the couple. Though I’ve often asked the question, no anti-gay Christian has ever explained how they justify attacking the children of same-sex couples merely so that they can proclaim their loathing of same-sex relationships. That is, they have responded with something like “I want to protect children”, and then the argument usually circles round to some justification about how the children of same-sex couples shouldn’t exist anyway and their parents are selfish for wanting to have them, and these paired arguments – these children shouldn’t exist, and their parents are bad people, appears to justify the case for attacking the children in the minds of these anti-gay Christians.

When this argument gets expanded out – as recently, when an anti-gay Christian argued that people are just selfish if they have children just because they want children, any parent who chooses to have children because having children will bring them happiness – this sounds even more appalling for these people’s children.

You’d have to be a bit starry-eyed to believe that children are invariably a source of happiness. And I know from bitter personal experience, that the lesbian or gay child of a homophobic parent is in for a world of pain from their parent, as their parent is in for a world of self-created pain. But the pain is because of love. I know from my own personal experience: I hurt my homophobic parent enormously by being a lesbian. What I came to understand after many years was that the pain was not inflicted by me: I was not in any real sense the cause of it, nor was my coming out the cause of it. The pain suffered by my homophobic parent was caused by the awful conflict between the sure knowledge that a homosexual is an evil and depraved person whom no good person ought to associate with, and the equally sure knowledge that this lesbian daughter is a beloved source of joy. What can it be like for a homophobic parent who cannot stop loving their child, and yet cannot let go of their knowledge that being homosexual is something deeply wrong? My parent’s solution was (a) to blame anyone but me for “corrupting” me, (b) to hope I’ll grow out of it (c) to be coldly and rejectingly polite to any partners (the latter, I believe, isn’t a conscious strategy, just an unhelpful kneejerk reaction). This isn’t much of a solution, but such as it is… it’s based on love, on joy. Because if I wasn’t loved so much, I would have been absolutely cut off long ago. And I never was.

But that is human too: to love and to take joy in your children – even when they’re a source of so much pain. This may be “selfish” – in the sense that it’s all about your feelings as parent – but you can’t love someone else without being a self who loves. You can’t take joy in your children – in anyone – unless you are a self who feels joy. A sociopath may not be able to see what’s good in feeling that joy, in feeling that love – a bigot may not be able to understand how a lesbian or gay person can feel that love for their children, or – in a worse-case scenario – a bigoted parent may not be able to love their lesbian or gay child any more.

Are these people sociopaths, to so dismiss the humanity of parents who just simply want children, parents who are made happy by their children? Or bigots, who think anything attack is justified so long as it makes clear to lesbians and gays and their children that Christians believe them to be inferior and unworthy?

Does it matter? I do have a homophobic parent, but one neither bigot nor sociopath. Capable of comprehending, thanks to me – I don’t know if thanks are ever spoken, but by damn I deserve them! – thanks to me coming out, 25 years ago, capable now of recognising the humanity of lesbian and gay people who would once have got a knee-jerk rejection. There’s been a world of pain in that, but the pain was caused by the love which Renaissance Guy has repeatedly dismissed as “selfish”. Because he is sociopathic and cannot feel it and cannot understand it? Or because he is a bigot who cannot conceive that lesbians and gays are human beings like himself?

April 12, 2009

Lesbian and Gay Books Disappear

Years ago, in the city where I lived then, there was a gay bookshop. This wasn’t usual by any means in most UK cities, but my city had one. And then Waterstones came to the city. And they had the money to stock lots of lesbian and gay books – detective fiction, science-fiction, erotica, teenage fiction, humour – and they did. Instead of heading out of the way to a small bookshop that had a limited kind of stock, LGBT people could stop off at a mainstream bookshop and browse their way round a vast stock.

So when the gay bookshop went out of business, which it did, it didn’t seem to matter so much (well, lots of us were sad and angry, of course …. Waterstones wasn’t the only reason: but it was certainly a strong contributing factor: the main culprit was, as is usual with UK gay bookshops, HM Customs and Excise) …except that as soon as the gay bookshop had gone bust, Waterstones stopped stocking lesbian and gay books, and moved them. Instead of shelves out front for anyone to find, and a vast range of titles and genres – within a year, all the lesbian and gay books that Waterstones stocked were fitted into one shelving unit, in the basement, next to the heterosexual erotica shelving unit. I’m not joking. That’s exactly what happened. I may even have exaggerated how long it took.

Waterstones needed to stock these books when it was competing with a gay bookshop: when it was no longer competing, when we didn’t have a choice about where we shopped, or what books we could buy, Waterstones knew they could serve up crap. And they did. That’s the free market in action to diminish choices.

Amazon is most LGBT people’s gay bookshop of choice. Or rather non-choice: these days, unless you live in London, the odds are there is no where else you can buy gay books. There may be a shelving unit in Waterstones, somewhere at the back out of the way, or there may not.

And now Amazon have decided they want to do the online equivalent of pushing their gay stock to the back of the bookshop.

Mark R. Probst, author of The Filly, noticed something rather odd on April 10th:

On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book “The Filly.” There was buzz, What’s going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books? Is it just a major glitch in the system? Many of us decided to write to Amazon questioning why our rankings had disappeared. Most received evasive replies from customer service reps not versed in what was happening.

And this is the answer he got, from Ashlyn D, at Member Services for Amazon.com Advantage:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

“Adult” materials, eh? Well: that apparently doesn’t include this:

With the first Centerfold, who just happened to be the radiant Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Hefner masterminded a cultural icon: Playboy’s Playmate of the Month. Now, for the first time ever, Playboy has gathered together every Centerfold from every issue into one luxurious collector’s edition. That’s over 600 beauties. We’ve reproduced these Centerfolds exactly as they appeared in the magazine to create a full-size, deluxe volume. Paging through this colossal, chronological collection provides a breathtaking view of our evolving appreciation of the female form: from the fifties fantasy of voluptuous blondes to the tawny beach girls of the seventies to the groomed and toned women of today.

But perhaps Amazon think people only buy Playboy Centrefolds for the articles.

I’ve never read these novels – so I checked out the Amazon pages for a few I do know. The Fires of Bride, by Ellen Galford, a beautifully funny novel about a lesbian artist who goes to live on a Hebridean island. No graphic sex whatsoever. No pics of naked women. No sales rank on Amazon, either. But it’s out of print, so perhaps that isn’t surprising.

How about Desert of the Heart, by Jane Rule? Even less sex than The Fires of Bride, and it’s in print. But it has no sales rank. How odd. What about Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson? Well, well: that has a sales rank on Amazon.co.uk, but not on Amazon.com. (Perhaps the .co.uk webmaster went on strike when instructed to consider Winterson, who is quite famous as a literary writer in Britain, a “lesbian writer” all of whose books are “adult” material to be pushed to the back of the shop out of sight?) Of course this is disgusting that Amazon should be doing this to any writer, any novel, simply because the subject matter is LGBT. It wouldn’t surprise me if, next week, Amazon.com reverses its decision over many novels with famous writers or with pro-active publishers: but the less-known novels, the small-scale publishers (and most LGBT books are published by small-scale publishing houses and are less-known novels) will find themselves still relegated to the shelving unit, in the basement, tucked away out of sight where the decent men who buy Playboy Centerfold won’t be disturbed by them.

c_smith_author writes:

Please note that just before this, Erastes’ Transgressions and Alex’s False Colours were topping out the rankings. Also note that The Filly is a YA Books, and therefore I would suggest one of the more important books to have out there for kids questioning their identity, and Transgressions and False Colours are being shelved with the Romance section of Barnes and Noble. Though as Mark points out, that is of no fucking importance because this is homophobic bias pure and simple.

I have no idea what to do about this except spread the message. If anyone has any ideas on what to do, tell me. Because I am not letting this lie. As vashtan said, they are happy to take the money, but not happy to give these books the recognition they rightly deserve.

I don’t know what to do either, beyond publicise Amazon being homophobic gits.

Update: Nicola Griffiths speaks out:

Amazon’s policy is idiocy of the highest order. Some thoughtless manager OK’d the low-hanging-fruit approach. (“Hey, if you want to protect Moral Americans from na-s-s-s-ty sexual content, then deleting all queer books from the rankings—and therefore the bestseller and some search listings—will get lots of ’em at once! Woo hoo, straight Christians will be safe!”) That manager should be fired.

And then I want a public apology from Jeff Bezos.

This is important. A quick and quiet revocation of the policy is not enough. I want a public acknowledgement and a pledge to never again try to shove queers under the carpet. It’s the only way to counter the perception queer readers and queer writers don’t count.

Being invisible is dangerous. It ruins careers and it puts young readers at risk.

Nicola Griffiths is the award-winning writer of Ammonite and Slow River and other books with many lesbian characters. As far as I can see, all her novels had their sales ranks removed in the Easter wipeout, and though Amazon is restoring some of the high-profile books, they’re evidently not in a hurry to do that for all of the titles blocked from sales ranking.

I agree with Nicola Griffiths, wholeheartedly: the least that should happen is that the “glitch” is fixed, and fast, and then Jeff Bezos should publicly apologize for wiping so many LGBT books off the listings at Amazon.

Below the fold: Screenshots of the page for Playboy Centerfolds on Amazon.com (which is evidently not “adult” material, as it has a sales rank) and the page for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, on Amazon.com, with sales rank suppressed on account of it being “adult” material. Also compared: Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, by Nathaniel Frank, with Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk. One’s about DADT, one’s about young straight men beating each other to a pulp; guess which one is considered “adult”?

Update: Amazon Rank Open letter on Booksquare Amazonfail on Twitter.

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September 12, 2008

our heartbeats are a sword at their throats

Must be read:

“It is time for us to acknowledge that our love is an act of war.
It seems distasteful to say. It feels wrong. Our love, our lives, our nurtured gardens and families, we say, these are not weapons. These are not acts of violence. To us, they are not.
Nonetheless, there are those who insist breathlessly, endlessly, that they are. That our families are destroying their way of life. That our existing in public shocks and harms them. That attending school, sitting in a restaurant, having to hear at all that we exist is an affront that threatens to annihilate them. And they gather their stormclouds over and over, they teach their children, they shout from the pedestals and rooftops and radio waves that we are, by virtue of drawing breath, destroying them. That we are at war, and that our heartbeats are a sword at their throats.” – the sky is falling, 11th September 2008

Jerry Falwell, appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” hosted by Pat Robertson on 13th September 2001, said of the terrorist attack on the WTC on September 11: “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’ ”
Pat Robertson: “I totally concur.”
(Washington Post, 14th September 2001: Youtube recording)

July 11, 2008

Civil partnership is not a religious ceremony

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: Lillian Ladele, an Islington registrar, came back to work in November 2005 from a long period on sick leave, to find that she was listed as a registrar who would conduct civil partnership ceremonies when the Civil Partnership Act became law in 2005. Ladele claimed she had told her manager a year earlier that she would not do civil partnership ceremonies, asserting that as a Christian she believed gay sex is sinful, so she felt she shouldn’t solemnize same-sex relationships in a civil ceremony.

I believe Lillian Ladele’s reasoning was thoroughly faulty – first in thinking she had any right to let her private religious beliefs affect another couple’s civil ceremony, second in supposing that a civil partnership ceremony had anything to do with gay sex.

Two other registrars had already said they did not want to conduct civil partnership ceremonies because of their religious beliefs: one had decided to leave, the other had taken a different position at the same salary. Ladele was offered a compromise solution: she would not be asked to conduct ceremonies, but she must agree to take part in the non-ceremonial aspects of civil partnership. Ladele refused this compromise. She also objected to being moved off working Saturdays, which meant she had less to do with civil partnership or marriage work – Saturday being the most popular day for either – but also meant she didn’t get regular overtime payments.

This came into the news earlier this year, when Ladele took her employer to a tribunal, alleging harassment and discrimination on the grounds of religion. And I have to admit, the first news reports suggested that the tribunal ought to uphold her employer. Ladele complained of “hostility” from the other members of the team, especially two gay men who’d complained about her homophobia: I thought (I still think) that if Ladele thought she could say “Hey, my religion tells me you people don’t deserve the same civil rights as I do!” and not get hostility, she was the sheltered child of heterosexual privilege.

But unfortunately, I then read the tribunal report. And while the sections where Ladele outlines her gay-hatin’ gospel are painful to read, it’s equally if not more painful to read that her manager handled it very, very badly.

Ladele’s views on civil partnership had become matter for open discussion around her workplace: her refusal to perform ceremonies was discussed at a staff meeting and at a team day: her manager did nothing to stop this public discussion, and even may have abetted it (Ladele says her manager told her she was “discriminatory” in front of other staff). Two colleagues went to an external group (the council’s LGBT Network) and told the Network about Ladele’s refusal to perform ceremonies and why, and this was way over the line.

It’s possible that Ladele herself started this – that she herself had said openly to other staff what her views were about gay sex and civil partnership. If so, her manager ought to have warned her not to do that, in private, and made clear to the rest of the staff that Ladele’s views were not for open discussion. It doesn’t appear that this happened. Even if Ladele did start it, her employer had a duty of care towards her: she was owed the chance to have a private verbal warning about making other colleagues uncomfortable with open discussion of her homophobic religious beliefs.

I don’t think Ladele behaved well: I think she’s a homophobic bigot who uses her religion as justification to deny others civil rights, and who seems to have no notion that asserting “gay sex is sinful” is an offensive thing to say to LGBT people and their friends.

But I don’t actually care if homophobic bigots behave well or not. I do care if we ourselves and our allies behave well. And it seems clear from the tribunal report that Ladele’s refusal to perform ceremonies was handled badly, and that she was bullied at work because of her refusal. She shouldn’t have been. I don’t want my civil rights defended by workplace bullies, because that puts us in the wrong.

June 18, 2008

Why do people get so panicky about falling birthrates?

There are two short answers to that: racism and sexism.

The sexism part is fairly obvious: the anti-choicers (who hate the idea of women getting to decide whether we have children, how many children, and when to have children) see in a “falling birthrate” that a significant proportion of women in a country who have become uppity. (Anti-choice women seem to have achieved the far-from-unusual hypocrisy of thinking that all other women have become too uppity to have all the children they should want to have. (As David P. Barash (via Pandagon)points out in the LA Times op-ed pages recently, humans are evolutionarily inclined to eat when we feel hungry, drink when we feel thirsty, and have sex when we feel horny. We are also inclined to take care of and feel protective of babies when they arrive, but this is a separate bit of programming from wanting to have sex.)

The racism part ought to be just as obvious. The human species is in no danger of becoming extinct. None at all. There are over 6 billion humans worldwide: while it’s possible that a human-created catastrophe could end up wiping out our entire species, in plain fact, a species with as large a breeding pool as ours and as a wide range, is not in any danger of extinction short of a human-created catastrophe such as a nuclear war.

What several people have argued (most recently, I had this argument on Family Scholars Blog [before I was banned] but it’s a standard right-wing anti-choice Thing) is that there’s a problem with demographics – that countries where women are both educated and independent enough to be able to decide for ourselves how many children we want to have and when (and which are usually countries with a good enough health care system that all the children a woman decides to have will most likely survive to adulthood – this is not coincidental) are countries with an aging population, where “soon” there will be too many people too old to work and too few younger people to support them.

One may then – logically enough – point out that immigration generally solves that problem. It’s not as if there’s a real shortage of human beings: if there’s any country in the world which really is having trouble because there’s too many old people and not enough young people, it’s because that country has managed to block off most legal and all illegal immigration. (Needless to say, I do not believe there is such a country, nor ever will be.)

Then your average racist Christian right-winger (I mean that as a compound: Christians who are neither right-wing nor racist, and right-wingers who are not Christian nor racist, should not feel included, but FSB’s right-wingers are both Christian and racist and homophobic and sexist… you can see why they banned me….) frothing gently at the mouth, will say that they want their culture to stay their culture, and it won’t if there’s mass immigration from other countries that don’t share their culture. Right now, this fear is usually ostensibly anti-Muslim. A century ago it would have been anti-Eastern European/anti-Jewish/anti-Irish, and fifty years ago it would have been anti-West Indies. It is the same racist fear, and it is unfounded every time, as one can see by looking back at previous examples.

What this fear of falling birth rates ultimately comes down to is: we want our women to have more and more of our babies. What that means to your average right-wing Christian racist is: white women should have white babies, and a white woman shouldn’t under any circumstances be allowed to abort just because she can’t afford to take care of a child: she should hand the baby over to a white (and heterosexual, and married) couple. (Egg-donation and sperm donation, however, are bad, because anything that lets a woman feel in control of reproduction is fundamentally bad: women who are in control of reproduction have fewer children.)

I got banned from FSB because the moderators objected to having homophobia identified as bigotry, or indeed identified at all: the preference of your average right-wing Christian homophobe is for their feelings about LGBT people to be regarded as normal, not as homophobia – still less to have homophobes called out as bigots. But in a sense, their homophobia is a side-effect: the real motivation behind all this twisted nonsense is a knotted-up combination of racism and sexism. Hard to pick out which comes first, which is more important to them: a riddle as unsolvable as the chicken and the egg.

But it all ties together: these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Lovely. Let’s cut it down, burn it up, and party on the ashes.

=====

This post was first published on my greatestjournal, on 13th May 2006.

June 17, 2008

How to celebrate your 55th anniversary

Get married.

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon made history – again – at 5:07 p.m. Monday [16th June] when they were declared “spouses for life.”

At that moment, standing next to each other in the mayor’s office in San Francisco City Hall in front of cheering friends and relatives, the couple of 55 years became the first same-sex newlyweds in San Francisco and among the first in California under a new right bestowed by the state Supreme Court.

“And it feels great,” said Lyon, 83. (link)

These days, unless of course you’re in the military, or you’re a teenager still at school, or financially dependent on homophobic parents, most Americans can come out about their sexual orientation in reasonable certainty that while some people may be stupid and rude enough to publicly disapprove, no one is likely to kill them over it.

When Del and Phyllis met, 55 years ago, their love was legally regarded as a illness or a disability: a feeling that they were supposed to be ashamed of or want to be “cured” of.

That things have changed so much in 55 years is due, in part, to the courage and hard work and sheer admirable stubborness of these two women, and many others.

Thank you, Del and Phyllis.

There haven’t been very many days like these around the world, where suddenly couples who had been denied the right to be married may at last be legally wed.

“A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage kerchief, may you be healthy all your days. May you be blessed with long life and peace, may you grow old with goodness, and with riches.”

For Del and Phyllis, this wedding blessing is already so: they’ve lived their lives to grow old with goodness, long life, and peace.

But there’s another traditional blessing, even more appropriate for this day:

May those who love us, love us.
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we will know them by their limping.

Don’t let the anti-marriage activists try to redefine marriage for everyone by eliminating from marriage the love, respect, devotion and joy that Del and Phyllis feel for each other, and cutting marriage down to a card figure of any man or any woman.

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