As the fight for Marriage Equality continues — now with the U.S. State of Alabama grabbing headlines for the insolence of Justice Roy Moore — and the Supreme Court having announced that they will hear arguments regarding cases overseen by the 6th Circuit Court of the United States I’ve been contemplating how this all came about. There have been several groups working tireless for decades to see equal rights extended to all people within the United States that do not hold to the hetero-normative standards; without the efforts of groups like The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders helping make the U.S. State of Massachusetts the first U.S. state and only the sixth jurisdiction globally to recognize the basic human right of marriage for same-sex couple we would not be living in an age in which acceptance and recognition of same-sex couples’ rights has expanded exponentially. And yes, while the decisions within the courts — and the rare legislative motion — have been the means through which the official recognition of same-sex marriage has come to pass, the driving force behind the rising levels of acceptance has not been driven from exclamations from on high but rather by changing the thoughts and attitudes of the general populace. For this I believe we have these most visible people for their bold, fearless leadership in driving forward proper equality for all within the LGBTQ community.
Today the United States Supreme Court released a list of cases it will review during this current term. Vividly absent from this list were any cases regarding same-sex marriage validity. While this does not prevent the Supreme Court from taking up such as case in the future, what it does do is further cement the validity that there is no valid reason to prevent two consenting adults from having the same marriage benefits long since enjoyed by Good Christian Couples. But what is exactly is a Good Christian Couple (term my own), and why should it enter into the realm of legal recognition or protection of a relationship?
For those keeping track at home — or not but think these things are cool anyway — in the past week the United States saw
* Oregon have it’s gay marriage ban deemed unconstitutional
* Utah be ordered to recognize the 1300 marriage certificates issued to gay couples
* Pennsylvania have it’s gay marriage ban deemed unconstitutional
*Maryland passed a law banning unequal treatment of trans* people
This makes 16 consecutive rulings since the DOMA ruling that have been in favor of equality. Slowly yet surely that section of the listing ship that is inequality in the United States is being repaired. As Maryland has demonstrated, full inclusiveness requires more then granting two people in love the ability to seek equal recognition under the law.
We’ll get there. Someday soon, I hope.
Stay SINful, friends.
Less than one week ago, the NFL draft — in and of itself a terribly boring thing to watch — found itself in the center of a media blitzkrieg when openly gay player Michael Sam became the first such player to be drafted. His reaction was televised live and included a very heartfelt kiss with his boyfriend in reaction to the good news.
Some perspective for non sports fans — Michael Sam was the Defensive Player of the Year in the NCAA Southeastern Conference, or SEC. The SEC is widely considered the most competitive and elite of the college football conferences. Other NFL players from the SEC include Emmit Smith, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and Champ Bailey. Generally speaking, the SEC players are very good; in several recent years more NFL draftees hailed from colleges that were members of the SEC than from any other conference. Michael Sam was the best at what he did in a conference considered the best in the game. The fact that he was drafted based on talent is little surprise. The fact that he was drafted next-to-last is of mild surprise, despite the fact that several teams and high-profile players commented than his sexuality would have no bearing on his draft status. What is sadly surprising is the amount of open bigotry displayed since the airing of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend in celebration.
Right now a Google search of “Michael Sam kiss” yields 114 million results. The first page focuses nearly entirely on the homophobic and bigoted reaction from members of various local media organizations — most prominently a female TV personality from the Dallas – Fort Worth area who became so incensed at the idea of ESPN “pushing their agenda” and giving her “no choice but to watch this kiss” that she stormed off the morning set when two of her co-hosts disagreed with her.
We have reached the odd balance point, where an openly gay potential NFL player can get drafted — and quickly generate the 2nd fastest player jersey in history — yet in the process of kissing his boyfriend in spontaneous celebration help reveal just how narrow minded large swaths of society remain. Some of the remarks have been as outrageous as “I don’t want my children being forced to see that kind of thin”, when nearly every stadium or arena has a “kiss cam” that at some point during the game will distract the fans with images of heterosexual couples in the stands kissing or being encouraged to kiss. The audacity of the double-standard is stunning.
Let us not be downtrodden, though. After all, we’ve now seen the NBA and the NFL — two of the most testosterone driven sports organizations in the United States — feature an openly gay player. This is progress, let there be no doubt, the pace of which is yet to be determined. Slowly public perception will shift and this will stop being a source of controversy. In the mean time, as Galinda from “Wicked” would say, we’ve got an awfully long way to go.
Stay SINful, friends.
Today was a standout day in terms of the ongoing fight for equality for my wonderful LGTBQ community.
First we had the wonderful surprise ruling from U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who ruled that the Texas ban against gay marriage violated the 14 Amendment of the United States Constitution. In his ruling Judge Garcia wrote “Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.” Similar decisions have recently been handed down in Virginia and Kansas, and the swelling tide is pushing toward one of these decisions eventually leading to a case being heard by the United States Supreme Court. As more decisions are made in favor of equality, the precedence will be further set for the Supreme Court to finally rule on the matter altogether. Such a hearing and decision would not come for a few years out, still, but the evidence thus far shows that the soon this chapter of legal discrimination will be able to be closed.
Additionally, today also saw Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona veto State Bill 1062, which included language that would have given any person or business legal standing to deny “impactful service” that would have required a compromise of one’s religious convictions. While the most popular reaction was that right-wing Christian businesses could then refuse services to non-heteronormative individuals, the broad spectrum written into the bill would also have allowed Muslim business owners to refuse service to “infidels”, or Catholic business or charities to refuse service to divorcees or unwed mothers. There was no discernible distinction between what would be considered an undue burden, and the evidence needed was nearly as sparse as simple testimony of conviction and belief. This was a victory not only for the LGBTQ community but also for every minority religious group in the state of Arizona that needs protection from the far too common bigotry paraded as Christian values.
Granted, neither of these rulings directly affect me. I don’t live in either Texas or Arizona, and while I identify as Bisexual, to the general public I appear to be relatively hetero-normative. I have Mrs. AP as my soon-to-be wife. We have a family together. While we have dated other men together in the past, and have had some wonderful threesomes with them and others, none of that translates into our public appearances seeming to be anything other than a normal, stereotypical American family.
I need these rulings to help be able to break out of appearing to be the stereotypical hetero-normative male. I need these rulings so that public perception can be further pushed into acceptance and eventual embrace instead of discrimination. I need these rulings so that I don’t have to worry about making a comment about another man in public, or kissing another man right after Mrs. AP finishes with him, or the three of us all holdings hands in public will cause uproars and become public issues. Yes, I’m terribly to live in one of the most liberal portions of Florida, so that when Mrs. AP and I have been out in public with another man we’ve not been met with derision, but not every county in Florida is that accepting. The state law bans marriage between anybody other than one man and one woman. Non-heteronormative couples are not allowed to adopt. For as non-Southern as Florida may be, it’s still conservative. Consider, then, that Florida isn’t even one of the top 5 most conservative states. If my fellow human beings who identify within the LGBTQ spectrum cannot receive equal treatment in any state, the fight is not yet over. If those same fellow humans cannot receive equal protection in every state, the fight must continue.
Today included victories in two important battles. Let’s work to keep those victories coming.
Stay SINful, friends.
As has been widely reported, in the near future there is a strong likelihood that the National Council for the Boy Scouts of America may convene, and that during this convention they would vote on a change to the national by-laws for the organization that would allow Area Councils or individual Troops to choose to lift the current ban on accepting openly gay, bisexual, and other non-heterosexual oriented men and boys. For an organization as old and as publicly homophobic as the BSA, even the potential for such a vote to swing in favor of progressive, albeit moderated, acceptance is a large step. As a former Scout, I do not think the current proposal goes far enough.
I grew up as an active member of the BSA. My parents enrolled me during my first year of grade school, and I remained a member until a combination of school requirements, poor area Troops, and an increasingly full event calendar essentially forced me to drop out. Nevertheless, I gave 10 years of my life to the BSA. I attended the weekly meetings, in uniform. I joined every monthly hike, camping trip, or canoeing trip that I could. Every summer from the time I was first eligible, I attended a week of camp. Courtesy of the High Adventure program, I spent a week in a replica schooner in the Florida Keys. Because of the efficient organization of the BSA, I have hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail, I have attended regional Camporees, I have learned First Aid, how to properly care for a rifle, how to tie elaborate knots, how to whip and fuse rope, and how to be both a good leader and a good follower. The lessons I learned as a member were invaluable, and carry with me still.
Some of the core tenets of Scouting that I learned and embraced are contained with the Boy Scout Oath. While I will not recite the entire Oath here, I will focus on the key tenets that apply to the current debate over proper acceptance of members who do not fit the hetero-normative mold. “On my honor… I will do my duty… to help other people at all times … to keep myself … mentally awake and morally straight.” Those tenets apply strongly to this fight. Allow me to break them down.
Today is a day of celebration.
Today marks the celebration of the life and aspirations of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., who sought for unity and equality among all people.
Today also marks the second public memorial inauguration of President Obama, who has worked toward realizing the dreams of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Regardless of your race, your creed, your orientation, your household status, your heritage, your partnered status, your age, your sex, your gender, or any other qualifying label under which you may place yourself, remember this: until we all hold the same protection under the law, until we all seek to protect the oppressed, the frail, the wounded, and the persecuted — indeed, until we all rise up in love and hope — we all stand to fail.
Choose love and help fulfill a dream.
Stay SINful, friends.