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Texas Sees First *Legal* Same-Sex Wedding

October 11, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Marriage Equality

Marriage Celebration ProgramThe wedding between Mark Reed-Walkup, a provisional Board Member of the LGBT equality organization, GetEQUAL, and the “love of his life,” Dante Walkup, wasn’t the first wedding ceremony performed in Texas, but it was the first same-sex wedding performed on Texas’ soil which will have legal recognition.

The couple applied and received a “Certificate of Marriage” in Washington, D.C. back in May.  On October 10, 2010, Mark and Dante declared their love publicly to their friends and family in a small ceremony in Dallas, Texas.

As I took my seat in the ballroom, I began reading the wedding program.  “The Marriage Celebration of Thomas Mark Reed and Dante Karl Walkup” declared the program in a traditional fashion.  My heart swelled with joy for the very happy (and nervous) couple.  As I continued thumbing through the program, I quickly saw a difference between this wedding and those of heterosexual couples I have attended:

We Remember: Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase & the many other young LGBT lives who died due to suicide.  It does get better.

While weddings generally bring tears to my eyes, the tears are usually due to happiness for those celebrating their love.  In this instance, the tears were for the children we have lost before they had a chance to truly live.  Somehow, in spite of all the efforts of so many to make the world better for them, they lost hope.  I immediately thought of the words of Harvey Milk, “You’ve got to give them hope.”

As the wedding procession began, my tears continued to flow swelling with pride, joy, hope and even sorrow.  These amazing men were standing before me, declaring their love, declaring their devotion and declaring to all watching that “It does get better.”  This was no ordinary Texas wedding.

In order for Dante and Mark’s wedding to be legal in Washington, D.C., the ceremony had to be performed by an official authorized by the District to conduct weddings.

To overcome the jurisdictional issues, Mark and Dante arranged for the officiant to appear via Skype along with several witnesses in D.C., while the couple stood within the boundaries of their home state before their friends and family.

Mark and Dante have shown us that love endures and regardless of how hard people try to stop us, our love will carry us through.  It seems, after all, love does conquer hate.

On a more personal note to the newly weds:  Thank you for being a part of my life.  You have inspired me, pushed me and even carried me in more ways than you can possibly realize.  You have given me hope.

I am dangerous for believing in LGBT Equality.

March 18, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Thursday, March 18th,  three LGBT activists were arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo and Robin McGehee. It made more news than the 200,000 LGBT equality supporters made when they marched on Washington D.C. last October.

This is only the beginning. I will not wait any longer for my friends to have the equality and protection that they deserve.

I am not willing to wait for a world where LGBT children can grow up in a society where all of us know that they are normal. Where being LGBT is as different as being a redhead or left-handed.

I’m imagining a day where LGBT activists go into every legislative building in this country.

This is not a call for violence. This is a call for demanding equality. Citizens have the right to peaceful assembly to protest the actions of their government. We did that last October. Very little changed.

Some have called this a juvenile act that will set back the LGBT movement. A circus. A stunt.

Do we remember Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Mahatma Gandhi as juveniles?

If refusing to move off the White House lawn, Capitol Hill, an elected official’s office, a government building in order to stand up for what is right, results in me being arrested, I will wear that as a badge of honor. I will have accomplished something with my life. I will make my family proud of me. I will have harmed no one. I will be living my values, not just writing words on the Internet.

I’m straight. I’m a child of the sixties. Civil disobedience is in my blood. I’m going to be wearing comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, have my cell phone, some cash and a jacket just in case. My civil disobedience survival pack is ready to go.

I would like to see the embarrassment on a politician’s face when an older, average looking, slightly overweight, mom-type gets hauled off by the police. Because I am so dangerous for believing in LGBT equality.

Now. Who do I visit?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

GetEQUAL Goes to Jail, But Passes Go.

March 18, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts, LGBT News, Uncategorized

Today, I learned that action is inspiring.  Tomorrow, I hope to learn that it’s also contagious.

As my facebook, twitter and email exploded today with little clips of the DADT Rally, I marveled at an act of well timed genius.  While the HRC was negotiating equality with the well-oiled political machine, the people were speaking.  Grassroots activists took to the streets refusing to negotiate their rights… our rights.

When the group of marchers reached the steps of the White House, Robin McGehee assisted Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo as they handcuffed themselves to the gates and demanded a repeal of the militant Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy established under the Clinton regime.  For her assistance, Robin was thanked with a set of charming silver bracelets becoming the first arrest of the day.

Simultaneous demonstrations were underway.  By 3:00 p.m. activists such as Kip Williams were staging “sit-ins” inside Nancy Pelosi’s offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. demanding an inclusive ENDA be taken to the floor for a vote.

But now tweets bounce back to Lt. Choi – he and Capt. Pietrangelo have been cut down from the gates and arrested.  My Spanish Novellas are suddenly much less dramatic than my twitter feed.  Gay, Inc. and their supporters are pissed and claiming that the jouvenile acts of today set us back, are immature and make us look crazy.

Now, not only do I have to wrap my head around one of the most important moments in LGBT History, I now have to think of it in terms of “politics.”  Am I not allowed to simply be proud of my brothers and sisters?  Must I now think in terms of political strategy.

But what has that political strategy been – what has it done for us at the Federal Level?  It’s the same kind of political strategy used during the Clinton Administration to keep him in office as an LGBT friendly president while allowing him to pass Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a compromise to our rights.  It’s the same kind of political strategy used that allowed the same LGBT friendly Clinton to pass the Defense of Marriage Act.

I’m tired of negotiating my rights.  I will not stop until my personal life is deregulated.  It’s time to GetEQUAL.

Will Phillips’ GLAAD Media Award: Support our LGBT Heroes.

March 15, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Will Phillips - the mightyBeing on the side of justice and “what’s right” isn’t always easy.  Just ask anyone who has had to fight for equality under the law.  Many will tell you stories about hate mail, the toll activism takes on their relationships, the shouting matches and derogatory comments made to and about them.  However, when you are a member of a “suspect class” finding and using your voice is a bit easier; after all, you’re fighting for yourself – your own family.  Who wouldn’t fight hand and fist to defend their own family?

But there is a rare breed of activist that I’ve often heralded as our great defenders – the straight allies.  They come out for equality as they recognize that the pursuit of happiness involves not only “the American Dream,” but the most pure of emotions… love.

Will Phillips is one of our great defenders, a 10 year old boy from Arkansas whose refusal to pledge allegiance until all Americans, even the LGBT ones, receive liberty… and justice.  On his own accord, Will recognized the extreme discrimination suffered by LGBT people in the “land of the free” and used what voice he had to make a statement; thus, he was rocketed to Internet stardom, humbling even the most hardened of activists.

During his acceptance speech for a GLAAD Media Award, Will Phillips stated:

I believe activism is important. Activism is CHANGE! It is the fuel, lubricant, & engine that drives the slowly moving turtle-mobile that is progress.

I accept this award on behalf of those who have been struck down, beaten up, & instead of attention & praise have gotten intolerance, violence, or even worse… indifference.

Will’s strength, courage and compassion toward the equality movement didn’t come without a cost.  In the initial days after his refusal to say the Pledge, his mother, Laura Phillips, wrote to me regarding the negative impact on Will:

My concerns to the principal of the school is that if this is what a straight ally is going through, what must it be like for the GLBT students there?

Now with this award and his video on getequal.org, Will is gaining more attention.  May we remember to show him that for all the “negative” there are positives and that an entire community stands with him.

Please consider contributing to Will’s college fund.  To do so, you may mail a check or money order to:

“Franklin Templeton 529 College Savings Plan”
P.O. Box 33090
St. Petersburg, FL 33733-8090

In the memo section you must write:

“Will Phillips Acct# 472-321-7514”

If you cannot contribute monetarily, please consider sending Will a note of thanks:

Will Phillips
c/o NWA Center for Equality
PO Box 9014
Fayetteville, AR 72703