Category Archives: Uncategorized

Marriage Proposal

Tambry makes a long-distance proposal to Suzanne

Tambry makes a long-distance proposal to Suzanne

Tambry arrived in Massachusetts from Honolulu, HI, a week ago to help out with Maine’s “No on 1” campaign. Then she realized, she could do more than fight for the right to marriage—she could marry her partner of 28 years here in Massachusetts. So an elaborate proposal was put together long-distance, that included the above photograph. Suzanne said “yes”—and on Saturday, November 7, Suzane and Tambry will marry in Salem, MA, with many of our Courting Equality friends there as witnesses. Suzanne and daughter, Shylar, fly in on November 4 to begin the festivities! Everybody wish them well!

Swift-Boating Gay Marriage

Swift-Boating Gay Marriage

Pat Gozemba

A look at the election maps for California shows how the LGBT community blew it on Proposition 8.

First of all, we ran TV ads that did not include LGBT people and our families. Jonathan Rauch called us “invisible.” No loving families smiling at each other on their wedding day, at the breakfast table getting their day started, or at their kid’s soccer game. Instead we had straight people from parents to politicians talking about us. Isn’t that what went on before we all came out and spoke for ourselves?

Secondly we forgot to use simple addition in calculating how many African-Americans and Latinos would come out to vote for Barack Obama in his historic candidacy. With all of these folks at the polls, we really needed to prepare them with our view of how important marriage is. Instead of doing this, we allowed bigoted fundamentalist preachers in the Catholic, evangelical, and Mormon churches to psyche these folks up to vote “Yes on Prop 8.”

How did Prop 8 succeed in Los Angeles and San Diego counties? Dismal. These counties are predominantly people of color. They came out to break a hold on another privilege denied all of us, having an African-American President  by voting overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. People who ought to “get it” about being denied civil rights voted to take away ours. They and people of color throughout the state did not vote to uphold our civil right to marriage. They never made the connection between our civil right and their civil right to marriage. We lost big-time in communities of color.

Did anyone on our “No on Prop 8”side, during the campaign, effectively remind people of color that until the California Supreme Court ruled in 1948 in Perez v Sharp that their marriage rights were limited?  They could not marry a white person. The same court that granted people of color that civil right of marriage granted us our right to marriage. Did any of the “No on 8” folks believe that deep organizing in communities of color was crucial? Did we believe that homogenized “No on 8″ ads would appeal to voters of all communities?

There is no question that the time of the campaign was short. But the lack of work that we have done in an ongoing way in communities of color came back to haunt us. We learned again the mistake of taking communities of color for granted.

Here’s what my friend and heterosexual ally Karen Rudolph, who coincidentally is married to a man of color, had to say about this:

“I think that we didn’t get LA and San Diego because of the larger African American and Latino populations.  The next time around we have to focus on them.  We need African American performers speaking in ads on Black radio stations.  We need television ads with Black grandmothers saying how they want their grandchildren’s father to have the right to marry his partner.  We need ads on TeleMundo in Spanish and Spanish language robo calls.  This intellectual stuff in the English language didn’t reach those communities.”

Rudolph went on to say, “I think that we need to let people know that gay marriage doesn’t turn kids gay, that no one is recruiting, that no teacher is forcing children to approve of gay relationships.  We need to let them know that no church will be forced to approve of the morality of gay marriage and no one will be forced to have gay weddings in their churches.  If we don’t confront those slanders head on, we allow ourselves to be swift-boated.”

And swift-boated we were.

48 More Hours of Gay Marriage in CA?


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In 48 hours, a California minority group may lose an important civil right at the ballot box. Almost sounds Machiavellian. Certainly it sounds un-American. In an election that by all indications looks as if it will be historic in elevating the first African American to the presidency, mean-spirited and biased California voters can still show that all prejudice is not dead by voting Yes on Proposition 8 to eliminate gay marriage. Or a majority of California voters, led by their better angels, can uphold the California Supreme Court decision approving gay marriage and sweep aside homophobia along with racism.

 

As the November 4th election looms, same-sex couples in California are rushing to town and city halls to get marriage licenses and marry. California courts have determined that couples married before (or if) their civil rights are voted away will still be legally married. Another class of Californians will be created, gays who once had the civil right to marry as opposed to those who weren’t born at the right time, or in love at the right time, or . . ..

 

Approximately 16,000 couples have married in four and a half months.

What a mind-boggling situation these couples are thrust into because they are part of an apparently despised minority. Some folks like Focus on the Family, the Catholic Knights of Columbus, the Mormon Church, and clusters of other right-wing ideological groups have raised millions of dollars to convince Californians that some people do not deserve full civil rights. They are urging a Yes vote on Proposition 8.

 

In perhaps their most despicable moment, these Yes on Proposition 8 folks just sent a targeted mailing to African American voters indicating that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are also for Yes on Proposition 8. In response to the duplicitous direct-mail piece, Obama campaign spokesman Ben Bolt released this statement: “Senator Obama has already announced that the Obama-Biden ticket opposes Proposition 8 and similar discriminatory constitutional amendments that could roll back the civil rights he and Senator Biden strongly believe should be afforded to all Americans.”

 

What Obama and Biden have never said is that they are for marriage equality. Of course, that’s the stickler. They’ve said that they are for civil unions. Californians had that separate but equal solution and their high court said that it was not enough—just as Connecticut’s high court said a few weeks ago. There’s a lesson here about being for full equality—unequivocally. Nonetheless in this last minute showdown the Obama campaign has said it “opposes Proposition 8.”

 

Meanwhile gay and lesbian couples in California are rushing to marry while they still have that civil right. Let’s hope this last ditch ad by NO on Prop 8 helps. It says all the right things but I just wish that some of the political heroes had the guts to really be for marriage equality.

 

Parents Fight Another Iwo Jima for Marriage Equality

by Pat Gozemba

Shortly after the Goodridge decision affirmed marriage equality in Massachusetts on November 18, 2003, Rev. Lou Sheldon of California mustered his troops declaring, “Massachusetts is our Iwo Jima.” Well, the Rev. Sheldon and his ilk lost that battle and now Iwo Jima has come to him in California—the land of sequels. Sheldon’s Yes on Proposition 8 folks are up against a powerful No on Proposition 8 band of Love Warriors—parents.

In Massachusetts our ground troops of families, religious leaders, and committed citizens willing to go out and speak with their neighbors, co-workers, fellow-worshippers, and anyone with a willing ear and an open mind won the day. Families of origin, the families we have created, and our families of choice played a huge role in protecting marriage equality and the constitution of our state. That’s the message that Karen Kahn and I brought to a MarriageEqualityUSA training session a few days ago in San Francisco.

One workshop attendee, Sam Thoron, wields a powerful weapon, love, for the No on Prop 8 campaign. Both Sam and his wife Julia are actively involved in PFLAG and are extremely proud of their lesbian daughter. Their commitment to equality for all of their children is unconditional.

thorons.jpg

Sam and Julia Thoron

“All we have ever wanted for our daughter is that she be treated with the same respect and dignity as her brothers—with the same freedoms and responsibilities as every other Californian. My wife and I never treated our children differently, we never loved them any differently and now the law doesn’t treat them differently, either.”

The mothers and fathers of LGBT children speak with a very compelling voice about their hopes for their children. With his wife at his side, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, sent seismic waves throughout California and the nation in September 2007, when, in an about-face, he delivered a very moving endorsement of marriage equality.  Why did he do it? He believed that his lesbian daughter should have the same rights as everyone else.

Right-wing conservatives immediately pledged to unseat Sanders. But in June 2008 as weddings of same-sex couples began in California, Sanders was returned to office. Another Iwo Jima won by fair minded citizens.

What the conservatives did manage to do was get Prop 8 on the ballot which amends the state constitution and “Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry.” Thanks to Attorney General Jerry Brown for this forthright wording of Prop 8. The Lou Sheldons of the world wanted the language wrapped in the Bible, the flag, apple pie, and motherhood. In other words, obscure but sounding good. Few will be confused by what they are voting on with Prop 8.

For millions of LGBT Americans this vote in California is an Iwo Jima. Money is pouring into the state from Catholics, Mormons, and every other stripe of religious conservatives—all those supposedly pro-family groups.

I’m hoping that Californians will listen to the eloquent and passionate voices of the Thoron and Sanders families, the real Love Warriors, and vote No on Prop 8.

Crossing Borders, Expanding Equality, and Seeking Justice

 by Patricia A. Gozemba

Equality is a core value in Massachusetts. More than two weeks have passed since our Massachusetts borders fell to the further expansion of equality. When Governor Deval Patrick signed the repeal of the 1913 law that prohibited out-of-state same-sex couples from coming to our state to marry, our state borders became more permeable and we are glad of it. At the July 31, 2008, signing ceremony, Patrick said, “the repeal will confirm a simple truth: that is, in Massachusetts, equal means equal.” More

Blacks Lead Repeal of MA 1913 Law


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Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) first alerted me that the 1913 law prohibiting out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from getting married in Massachusetts would soon be history. Rushing the great African American leader of all civil rights causes in our state was out in front of even the gay movement in announcing impending justice.

Just as the Peabody Essex Museum June 26th panel on same-sex marriage was about to close, Rushing pleaded for one more word. He urged members of the audience to call their legislators and ask them to support the repeal of the outdated racist law that had its origins in preventing out of state inter-racial couples from coming to the Bay State to marry. “Mark my words, we can do away with that law before the end of this legislative session. Call your legislators.”

As the panelist sitting closest to him, I blurted out, “Really?” He smiled.

Sixteen days later, it fell to the lone Black member of the Senate, Sen. Diane Wilkerson (D-Boston), to lead that body in taking the first step to repeal the law. With a unanimous voice vote on July 12, 2008, the Senate began the process of dismantling the racist law. Wilkerson told The Boston Globe that the law’s racial history makes her proud to back the repeal. “This is one of the most pernicious statutes on our books. This bill puts the final nail in the coffin of those dark days.”

A skilled orator, Wilkerson, during the 2004 Massachusetts constitutional convention debates over whether the legislature should undo the Goodridge decision, gave one of the most searing rebukes to those legislators wavering on the issue of equality. Recalling her upbringing in Arkansas during Jim Crow, she declared, “I know first hand that world of almost being equal, I could not in good conscience ever vote to send anyone to that place from where my family fled.”

If history is prologue, it will probably fall to Rushing to steer the bill through the Massachusetts House. The cause of justice could not be in better hands.

The truly “final nail in the coffin of those dark days,” will be the signature of African American Governor Deval Patrick on the repeal.

More Wedded Bliss

Brian Jewell is right when he notes in his Bay Windows article, The bliss off, the Peabody Essex Museum “Wedded Bliss” exhibit doesn’t explicitly address same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, it does an exceptional job of including art that both celebrates and critiques this central social institution. One of my favorites is a piece by Robert Boyd called “Cake Cutter,” in which a large knife is wielded to hack apart bride and groom wedding toppers. With the white bride and groom lying lifeless by the wedding cake, viewers are invited to think about all those who are excluded from the happy white wedding images that are so common in our culture. That made me think about what it meant to have been newly invited to the wedding party. What has changed for our community in Massachusetts–and now in California? Here’s a little of what I said at the museum on June 26:

Whether we are conformists or rebels, we cannot escape the importance of marriage to our society.  Thus it should be no surprise that gay men and lesbians have finally forced open that once tightly closed door. Being denied the social legitimacy and material benefits of marriage hurt—it hurt our self-esteem, it subjected us to psychological and sometimes physical violence, it threatened our relationships to partners and children. Marriage is no small matter.  

In Massachusetts, after four years of same-sex marriage, we can see the results of broadening the definition of marriage. Same-sex couples and their children have far more legitimacy as “families,” accepted by their communities (whether neighbors, school teachers, hospital personnel, car mechanics, or city clerks) in ways that gay and lesbian people in other parts of the country can hardly imagine. As our friend Steven Galante explained so eloquently in our book Courting Equality, “When marriage was made legal, it relieved people of their moral struggle with this particular issue. It allowed them to follow their hearts, their best instincts, and embrace our family.”

That embrace has been very important to LGBT families. But it is also important to remember, that as we move from the margin to the center, we can wrap ourselves in the romanticized commercialism of the white wedding industry or we can unpack the contradictions as many of the artists do in the Wedded Bliss exhibit.

Karen Kahn
July 6, 2008 

The bliss off
Brian Jewell
arts writer
Wednesday Jul 2, 2008

Sandy Skoglund’s faintly ominous
Sandy Skoglund’s faintly ominous
“The Wedding” provoked much discussion.   

While enjoying the beautiful Wedded Bliss exhibit at The Peabody Essex Museum, it is hard not to notice that something is missing. A survey of weddings as artistic inspiration, the exhibit gathers together both art inspired by marriage and objects associated with marriage (such as American wedding dresses and Japanese furoshiki). As the Museum’s Education Director, Peggy Fogelman, explained at a panel discussion last week, the exhibition explores courtship and weddings “across cultures, across centuries, and across lifestyles.”Yet same-sex relationships and marriage equality are all but ignored. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot a few gay couples in a video montage of wedding imagery, and a copy of Courting Equality, a chronicle of the journey to the country’s first same-sex marriages, on a table with other books about marriage. The biggest innovation in marriage since at least The Divorce Act of 1857 is given less attention than a handful of contemporary critiques of heterosexual marriage, and a couple of humorous nods to divorce. It’s a strange omission for an exhibit whose breadth reminds viewers that marriage rituals and traditions are constantly evolving. Never mind the fact that the country’s first same-sex civil marriages took place right here in Massachusetts.On June 26, the Peabody Essex addressed this omission with a screening of the film The Gay Marriage Thing and a panel discussion on same-sex marriage. Read the rest of this article.