Found on the internet:
Found on the internet:
Found on the internet:
So, I know it’s been a while since I have written a blog post. Things have been very crazy in my world and they are just starting to settle down. I have been, somewhat, politically and socially active, but I haven’t really had the chance to write.
Fortunately, with most of this behind me, my time has opened up and you are going to be able to enjoy my snarky sense of humor!! My goodness, how I’ve missed all of you!
I have recently been involved in a court case. I’m not going to go into the details just now. That is for a later couple of blogs. I am also writing a book about that. Suffice to say, it wasn’t me that was in trouble. However, there are some things that have really opened my eyes as to the issue of equality for LGBTQI people here in the State of Montana.
I was told to shy away from the relationship aspect as the courts tend to be somewhat paternalistic in regard to LGBT relationships. It is better not to mention them. Why is that, I wonder? Just doesn’t seem really fair. And, that means that trials and hearings tend to move down a different path. Yuck. It’s glaringly obvious that we need marriage equality.
There are things that are taken for granted and things that are just naturally assumed for straight marriages, but those things are not just assumed for LGBT relationships. This is a problem. It’s just another area where we are left outside and we are somehow “different” and our relationships are somehow “different” than other people.
There are many reasons to promote marriage equality and this is just one of them. But, having it so close to home reminds me of how far we have yet to go.
My partner and I have tossed around the idea of heading down to Colorado, or possibly Washington to marry, but then we decided that we are probably going to hold on and fight for our home state. It may take a while. We want the legal recognition, but we also want to do this where our home is.
Montana has taken a step in the right direction by striking down language that would make us felons, but at the same time, there’s a long way to go. In the meantime, we will probably go through the proper legal channels in order to secure some of our rights. Although, with what we’ve seen in the news lately, that may not necessarily help. But here’s hoping.
Anyhow, since I’m back, I’m prepping a few other blog posts to go up. Hopefully, you all will enjoy!
Today, the Fourth of July, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 2nd “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign comes to an end, and it looks like this effort was not any more successful than last year’s program. The campaign, which began on June 21st, was intended to rouse Catholics to become motivated to work to protect religious freedom in the U.S. The bishops have proposed that the freedom of Catholics to worship and govern their church is under fire, particularly because of the advancement of marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples in the political world. The fact that Catholics do not envision the issue with the same sense of threat that the bishops do is a major factor in the failure of the campaigns the last two years.
Marcos Breton, a columnist for the Sacramento Bee, points out that the Catholic bishops seem afraid of the changes that are happening in American culture, and that may be why they have latched on to the religious freedom argument. ”The world is changing rapidly,” he wrote, “and it’s natural for some to view the change with trepidation.”
But that doesn’t mean that religious people need to fear for their freedom. Breton suggests a positive toleration on both sides of the marriage question:
“Same-sex marriage is now legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia, meaning that roughly 30 percent of Americans now reside in states that support marriage equality.
“Within five years, gay marriage could very likely be legal in all 50 states. Public opinion has tilted in favor of marriage equality so quickly, it seems history is on fast forward.
“Watching same-sex couples arrive at the Sacramento County clerk’s office on television Friday reminded me of the night the Berlin Wall came down.
“Years of pent-up emotion suddenly found a release. Old restrictions dissolved into thin air. There were tears. There was exultation and a sense of giddy disbelief. Isolated people suddenly joined a broader community.
“With due respect to fellow Christians who disagree, this was cause for celebration – one that doesn’t have to come at the expense of religious freedom or with intolerance toward religious people.
“You can support the idea that government has no business restricting same-sex marriages while loving your church and trying to live the Gospel.”
And toleration for religious institutions is not only a good thing to do, Breton points out it is also the law:
“In a ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to invalidate, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote: ‘Affording (same-sex) couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom or any religious organization, official or any other person; no religion will be required to change its policies or practices with regard to same sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.’ “
Steve Chapman, a columnist for The Chicago Tribune, also challenges the idea that religious freedom is under attack because of the spread of marriage equality. Speaking of religious people who make such a claim, Chapman wrote:
“It’s a bit rich for these groups to complain that the court is infringing on their freedom to infringe on the freedom of gays. Advocates of same-sex marriage are not trying to exclude heterosexuals from matrimony. They are only asking to be free to practice it as well.
“But opponents charge that churches will be forced to host same-sex weddings and their clergy will be required to perform them. Churches that refuse, they say, may be stripped of their tax-exempt status.
“The likelihood that any of these fears will come to pass ranges from minimal to zero. State laws allow divorce, but Catholic priests haven’t been forced to preside at the weddings of divorced Catholics. Employment discrimination laws haven’t been applied to end bans on female clergy. Nor have such internal church policies led to the loss of standard tax exemptions.”
Chapman notes that marriage equality, far from eroding freedom, is actually an extension of it:
“When Justice Anthony Kennedy made the case for overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, though, he relied on a different provision. DOMA, he wrote, ‘is a deprivation of an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.’ “
Let’s hope that the failure of this second year’s campaign may teach the bishops that Catholics do not see their religious liberty threatened by marriage equality. Indeed, many Catholics see the support of marriage equality as an important way to practice their faith, not an impediment to it. Instead of Fortnights for Freedom, the bishops would do better to have Fortnights for Dialogue, so they can learn from Catholics how issues of LGBT equality proceed from their love of God, neighbor, and the church.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Obama: “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free. ”
In stark contrast, here are the statements issued by Montana’s Congressional delegation in light of the historic DOMA and Prop 8 rulings today:
Daines “I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling today. Marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, matters for our children, and I remain a strong believer in defending the family.
While I do not agree with the Court’s ruling concerning the application of federal benefits, I am encouraged that the Court did not rule against states’ rights, ensuring that the voice of the people, not a ruling from a court, is the driving force behind marriage laws in Montana and the other states.”
Tester: “The Supreme Court today made the right decision. The federal government has no place telling Americans who they can love and who they can marry.”
Tester affirmed his support for same-sex marriage earlier this year, saying “how Montanans define a family should be their business and their business alone.”
Baucus: “Today is a proud day in American history when we can say to all Montanans, Americans and their children: your love and your family are just as good as everyone else’s under the law. For too long, same-sex couples and their children have been denied more than 1,000 federal rights and obligations that married couples enjoy. That was wrong. In the United States of America, no one should be treated as a second class citizen simply because of who they choose to love.
I believe each of us has a moral obligation to leave this place in better shape than we found it, and today’s decision puts our country on the right side of history. Now it’s time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and guarantee all Montanans the same opportunity to succeed in the workplace.”
In a landmark moment for lesbians and gays in America, another amongst many over the last few years, “the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California.” http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/26/19151971 As the LGBT world’s collectively held breath exasperates in a crescendo of joy, it is difficult still to catch a glimpse of perspective. It is hard to know, as the euphoria winds down, just what it all means and what I should feel.
I am of course elated for Edith Windsor, and hope she feels the sense of vindication that I feel. I hope also that the IRS is forced to pay her estate taxes back, together with penalty and interest in a like amount to what she would have to pay had the tables been turned. I am tickled pink-er, for gay friends in Butte, America, who announced their engagement only this week. I am ecstatic for the LGBT Equality Movement, and its ever escalating advancement toward full justice and inclusion.
Yet, for me, something is missing. I have this niggling sense that for all the good that is happening around me, and the excitement that it brings me, it is not really meant for me. While I may share the joy, I may not reap the blessing. For it brings to mind yet again the great trans-lament, and just how far we still have to go. Who will accept me enough into the full fabric of society to love me? Who will lie next to me, hold me close and keep me safe? Who will share their life with me? Who will marry me?
It is a struggle that not even the LGBT community collectively can get their head around, let alone the broader world of which I am equally a part. For example, some of the larger world remains blissfully ignorant of even the larger LGBT struggle. In my exuberance this morning I burst in on a co-worker and said, “DOMA is unconstitutional!” In truly Ozzie-esque fashion she replied, “What’s DOMA?” If the larger world is not even aware of the LGBT struggle for marriage equality, how on earth will they understand the trans struggle to even get a date?
It begs the question: What is equality? And just what is its genesis? We can say that we seek to be equal in our application of the laws of the land, and we should. We should scream it from the rooftops. But, what about ideas, philosophies and judgements? Should we not seek an even playing field with these too? Let me put a finer point on this that might sting a little.
I have been playing the field of the on-line dating scene off and on for the last year or so – with absolutely no degree of success. That’s right – not a single date from the on-line sites including Planet Sapho, Cupid, Tagged and Are You Interested. Planet Sapho is more like planet scamo. Cupid and Sapho are related I’m pretty sure. Tagged is for people who take vicarious pleasure through sending e-porn back & forth, and for foreigners who look for love in all the wrong places (like 1000s of miles away where dates are literally impossible). Are You Interested is yet another way for Mark Zuckerberg to suck the ever living advertising dollar out of the world before we all get fed up with Facebook.
The faults and foibles of these sites notwithstanding, my experience has been remarkably repetitive on way too numerous occasions. I have been scammed, slammed, avoided, evaded , judged and condemned – everything but loved. Here’s what happens. Gay guys may think the world of me, but they are gay, okay. Straight guys always call me dear right off the bat – I mean in the very first message. And I know immediately where it is headed. They will profess great and enduring love for me, for my picture, my smile and my wondrous beauty, then evaporate when I reveal my transgender nature. And reveal it I must for the tragic potential of omission. Plus, all I have to do is Google my name to see that there is absolutely no potential to live in stealth.
Then there is the lesbian reaction which is perhaps the most deflating and discouraging of all because, for reasons we shall see, I identify as a lesbian. First, the story. I have loved women all of my life, and I have felt in heart and soul for just as long that I am a woman. Before I ask you to do the math, let me ask you to consider what determines our gender? It is physical or, God forbid, merely our genitals? Or does it include the way we think, feel and believe? Can a manly woman be a man despite the lack of a penis? Can I be a woman despite the lack of reproductive organs? I do not hold the answers to these questions, but this I know; If I was not always a woman I defy anyone to deny me that description now. I have at the very least become a whole woman in body, mind and soul. Yet, when I come out to a would-be suitor, she turns me down flat every time, unless of course, it’s a scam. I do not get it.
I know my way around a woman, really! As a dude, I was all that and a bag of peanuts, or something. I always had dates. I dated many girls in high school and college, even married a couple. Once, with my ex-wife, we counted up the number of people we had made love to. I suppose it was in the interest of full disclosure prompted by the pre-marital blood test. I do not think that I have made love to fifty women, but, I know it was more than thirty. This is not about conquest, and I write this just to say that I do know how to make love to a woman. I know what works, and what does not. I know how to give and take love, to have, hold and help her . . .and the weird thing for me is that I was always a woman even though she thought she was with a man.
Yet, though I live and love as a woman in all respects and am capable of great emotional support and attachment, and sexual pleasure, I am somehow off-limits to lesbians. I cannot figure it out, and that is the trans-lament. I belabor this point to demonstrate an even greater and more fundamental point – discrimination and prejudice lie much closer to the heart than most of us are willing to admit, for to do so would mean that we must cast it aside. I suspect few of us are prepared to do so.
My greatest fear as we secure marriage equality (it appears ever increasingly certain that we will) is that many if not most LGB activists will abandon the movement. They will stop pressing for other rights and greater equality. So, I write this rant. I reveal myself to the possibility of disagreement and perhaps ridicule, not out of self pity but as a plea. Please do not let the pendulum stop swinging.