Category Archives: gay marriage

Mary Bonauto Wins MacArthur Genius Award

GLAD attorney Mary Bonauto addresses the crowd at the March 10, 2004, MassEquality candlelight vigil. Rep. Byron Rushing, a longtime supporter of the gay community and a leader on the same-sex marriage issue, is standing next to her.

GLAD attorney Mary Bonauto addresses the crowd at the March 10, 2004, MassEquality candlelight vigil. Rep. Byron Rushing is standing next to her.

Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who brought same-sex marriage to Massachusetts–and has been the legal strategist who laid the groundwork for victories at the state and federal level–was among those who won this year’s MacArthur genius awards. This is a well-deserved triumph for the greatest civil rights leader of the LGBT movement. Congratulations, Mary Bonauto, and GLAD!

Advertisements

Salem Authors Chronicled Marriage Equality Struggle

On the tenth anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts, Tom Dalton of the Salem News interviewed Patricia Gozemba about Courting Equality:

SALEM — Marriage was on the minds of Patricia Gozemba and Karen Kahn when they set out nearly a decade ago to write their book: “Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriages.”

Marriage was on their minds — just not their own marriage.

The two longtime feminists and activists, who had been together since 1990, began working on the book in the summer of 2005, or about a year after the historic first marriage in Cambridge City Hall.

A few months into the project, however, they decided to get hitched. And they decided to hold the ceremony in Cambridge.

Watching history unfold before their eyes helped them realize what an important right marriage is.

“We’re both kind of old-time feminists …” said Gozemba, 74, a retired Salem State professor and local environmental activist. “But the both of us realized all the kinds of social and even societal benefits there were to being married in terms of legal protections, economic protections and all the rest.”

Although she says there is still a long way to go to achieve equality for the lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender community, Gozemba credits the current occupant of the White House with advancing the rights of same-sex couples.

“The Obama Administration has been tremendously helpful in assuring more equality … and allowing us to file taxes together. And new Social Security benefits are coming down where surviving spouses can get the Social Security (benefits) of their spouses.”

Looking back a decade, the two Salem women are proud to have been part of history as activists, authors and a same-sex married couple.

“We’re very excited about this 10th anniversary,” said Gozemba. “Massachusetts certainly showed the way.”

Betty White, 88, Supports Marriage Equality

Go Betty!

 

Okay, here’s a new strategy to use talking with people about marriage equality. Schedule a showing of “The Golden Girls” with some of your curmudgeonly “friends.”  Laugh it up and then when the show is over roll out the Parade  magazine quote from Betty White:

“I don’t care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time—and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones—I think it’s fine if they want to get married. I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.”

Go, Betty! Why do those right-wing religious nuts care about our lives so much?  Let’s offer them the opportunity to go feed starving Americans. Help the homeless. Lay off their lazy-ass activism of picking on LGBT Americans.

Marriage Equality Gains Support

The Pew Research Center reports that more Americans are supporting the supposed all-American principle of equality for all. I find this really refreshing–especially these days when LGBT kids especially are not believing that there is any future for them and are committing suicide.

I hope that older members of the LGBT community will go out there and talk to kids and let them know that there is a future after the travail of growing up gay. I applaud Dan Savage’s It Gets Better initiative. More of us have got to speak the truth to LGBT youth. I want LGBT youth to expect total equality. Not just marriage equality.

Lying to Defeat Marriage Equality

by Pat Gozemba

Karen Ocamb wrote an insightful and very instructional piece, “Federal Challenge to Prop 8 Hearing Today,” in LGBT.POV. Ocamb is focused on the Ted Olson and David Boies federal suit on behalf of Americans for Equal Rights. They have set out to prove the unconstitutionality of Prop 8. Ocamb gives important context for today’s case. All of us who are struggling to achieve marriage equality should read her article and consider the strategies that our opponents are mounting against us.

I’m back in Hawaii and looking forward to joining with the LGBT community and our many allies in trying to bring some semblance of equality to this island state where the contemporary marriage equality movement all began with a favorable court decision in 1993. Sure, the brave decision of the Hawai’i high court brought about the backlash of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, but it also woke up many of us to come to believe that we deserved the right to marry. No matter how many states put in place their own versions of DOMA, the very possibility of a hope for equality ignited the imaginations of millions of people committed to justice.

Since 1993, the creativity of civil rights activists across the country has brought us to courts, legislatures, and public forums of all sorts. It’s pumped up our grassroots organizations like the Courage Campaign and Join the Impact and some of the tried and true warriors on our side like the American Civil Liberties Union.

But that, sixteen year-old court victory in Hawai’i has done the same for the anti-equality movement, those who want to assure that they are more equal and more righteous. Their forums have largely been hidden behind church doors and fueled by church coffers. The religious engines that are stoking the denial of our civil rights are Catholic and Mormon. They have created the National Organization for Marriage, a slick hate group that has served as a conduit for Mormon and Catholic money and kept up an internet presence.

The anti-equality side also hit pay dirt when they hired political consultants Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint to run the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign in California (2008) and then the “Yes on 1 Stand for Marriage” campaign in Maine (2009). The campaigns were virtually the same and were fueled by the big lies of made up “consequences,” of marriage equality particularly the sure-fire inner, the teaching of gay marriage to schoolchildren. We will hear this and all of their other nightmarish projections all over the country. The lies work.

As the Hawai’i Family Equality Coalition focuses its attention on the state senate in hopes of passing HB 444 a civil unions bill, we would all do well to study Karen Ocamb’s analysis of the strategies that Olson and Boies are using in federal court as well as those of Schubert and Flint that local copycats like the Hawaii Family Forum and Transformation Hawai’i.

LGBT allies, read and study Ocamb’s article.


Fought in Maine but Married in Mass.

Tambry Young and Suzanne King wed in Salem, MA on 11.7.09

Tambry Young and Suzanne King wed in Salem, MA on 11.7.09

Tribute

by Pat Gozemba

Tambry Young and Suzanne King, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the people of Massachusetts, represented by those of us gathered here today on November 7, 2009 in Salem, recognize and celebrate your relationship of 28 years.  We honor the extraordinary efforts that you have taken to protect your relationship and your 9-year-old daughter Shylar.

You have travelled thousands of miles from your native land, from the state of Hawai’i, to Massachusetts a state where your love is honored, your family is acknowledged, and your civil right to marry is guaranteed. May that civil right be granted one day to all of the people in Hawai’i.

Karen and I met you when we joined the Hawai’i Family Equality Coalition struggle for civil unions. We had the privilege of seeing you emerge as leaders of the movement with Tambry becoming co-chair of the coalition.  As a Native Hawaiian family you speak out publicly for the rights of all lesbians and gays living in Hawai’i to have the option to marry.  You are profiles in courage for those who live in fear.

The joy and commitment of your lives inspires others, especially young people, straight and LGBT, to join the struggle for civil rights for all.

I wasn’t surprised at all when Tambry decided to come to Maine to join the fight to protect marriage equality in the “No on 1” campaign. What does surprise me, a bit , is that 15 days after she landed in Boston and we traveled to Maine and did endless hours of phone-banking and data tallying we are at this moment today—her  marriage to Suzanne.

The struggle for equality in Maine led to this celebration of equality today in Massachusetts. On October 24th the day Tambry landed in Boston, Karen took her on a little walking tour of our Salem Willows neighborhood and introduced her to some of the many LGBT families in our little community. Over cocktails later, Tambry mused “what’s up” all these out gay people and their kids?  Everybody is so open. She had met Olga and Julie and their daughters Mattea and Marina and that was just the beginning.

Two days later on Monday Karen mused, “You know Tambry you could get married in Massachusetts.” In a rare a-historical moment, I the lesbian historian said, “Yeah, you could use our address.” Karen looked at me and said, “Honey, anyone can come to Massachusetts and get married.”  Oh, yeah, we fought for that right too and we’re so glad we did.

A day later, Tambry and I went to Boston’s Top of the Hub, where Marilyn took Karen and me for our wedding luncheon in 2005.  Great spot.  Marvelous view of the city. Weddings were on our minds. Tambry wondered if she could get Suzanne and Shylar to Massachusetts. Next thing we knew, Suzanne was on the phone and a proposal was in the works.

An elaborate proposal ritual followed in which Tambry topped every gesture of courtly love that I had ever imagined. On Friday, October 30th in the lobby of the Coldwell Banker office in Honolulu, Tambry’s friend Amy delivered to Suzanne flowers and a box of chocolates with a card inside showing Tambry on bended knee outside the “No on 1” campaign office in Portland, Maine asking Suzanne to be her wife.  I encourage all of you to check out the card in the slide show. It’s a winner.

Well, Suzanne accepted the proposal and here we are today at this exciting moment of equality. I wish that every person in Maine who voted against marriage equality could look in their hearts and reconsider what kind of a victory it is to deny beautiful families like that of Suzanne, Tambry, and Shylar the security , commitment, and love of marriage.

We are blessed to be in Massachusetts where our constitution recognizes that Tambry and Suzanne are part of the “’we’ in we the people.” May equality take on a new life all over this country from Maine to Hawai’i. Our resolve and more importantly our love will win the day.

Tambry, Suzanne, and Shylar you are leading the way. May your lives be blessed.

Maine: Will Voters Protect All families?

Pat Gozemba

The “No on 1: Protect Marriage Equality” effort is a civil rights movement to support and protect all Maine families. In contrast, the conservative religious fundamentalist, “Yes on 1: Stand for Marriage Maine,” movement is an effort to limit the rights of families to the heterosexual one man one woman variety. Despite high divorce rates in heterosexual families, fundamentalists opposed to marriage equality insist that the heterosexual dyad is where it is at for raising children. They ignore the reality of successful parenting among single parents and same-sex couples—who are increasingly approaching over half of the families raising children in this country. Preserving heterosexual superiority is the agenda of the Catholic Church, Protestant fundamentalists, and especially Mormons. Not surprisingly these groups are the largest contributors to the Yes on 1 campaign in Maine.

In asserting heterosexual superiority, fundamentalists insist that granting the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples will be giving them special rights, privileges, and benefits. Unspoken is the conservative commitment to reinstating patriarchy. Their movement is bigger than an assault on LGBT civil rights. It is an assault on feminism and a longing for “the way things used to be” before women raised their voices for equality and gays and lesbians busted down closet doors. Most of all it is a cruel denial of reality.

According to the 2000 Census, self-identified LGBT families are in 99% of all US counties and in 96% of those counties these families are raising children. Maine is probably no different. Children in LGBT families are usually not LGBT. They are heterosexual kids who are in our schools and have to listen to ads on TV and radio that denigrate their LGBT parents.

Families are supposed to be our safe havens. Indeed they serve that purpose for other minorities. But LGBT kids are not likely to have LGBT parents and they often have no one at home who understands them. Perhaps they are in a heterosexual family that supports denying any rights, especially marriage to LGBT people. What message are these heterosexual parents giving to their LGBT kid? You’re not worthy of rights, especially the right to marry.

Maine voters have an opportunity to affirm all of Maine’s families at the polls on November 3rd. Voters have an opportunity to protect all of Maine’s children making sure that the families that they live in are protected by all the rights, privileges, and benefits that is the birthright of all Americans. Marriage is the gold-standard for family protection in this country and that is why LGBT people are seeking it.