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An Open Letter to the Residents of Maine

October 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

noon1Dear Resident of Maine:

Although I fancy myself as someone who will retire in the New England states, I’ve only visited Maine once in my life. It was late September and the leaves were just barely starting to show variations in their colors. I spent a long time at the airport in Bangor waiting for the luggage the airline had lost. While at the airport, authorities spotted a suspicious package and evacuated the entire terminal. I stood outside with a hundred or so other people. We were all caught off guard, a bit confused and even a bit scared.

I suppose we stood outside of the airport behind the police line for at least two hours waiting for the “all clear” from those with the power.  Eventually, a baggage cart came out and we were able to retrieve our belongings.  While waiting and curiously watching the bomb squad, I met several Maine residents, but I couldn’t talk to everyone while there, and considering the circumstances at that time, I didn’t have a chance to ask them the question that I now feel compelled to ask you.

You see, I’m in love. I’m very lucky in that regard as almost 12 years ago I met my soul mate. We’ve had our ups and downs, but mostly we’ve had ups which is the most any of us can hope to have. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the love of my life sleeping soundly next to me and think, “Could it get any better than this?” I’m sure many of you have felt the same way before. I’ve wanted to take our relationship to the next level for many years, but we just haven’t been able to manage it. It seems there have always been obstacles well outside of our own creation that get in the way, and that is why I’m writing to you today. I need your help.

I want to get down on one knee, look up into my darlings beautiful blue eyes and declare my devotion and commitment, but in order to do so, I have to have your permission.

I know, it seems silly doesn’t it? I’ve tried every other way I could think of to make this happen without having to ask for help from complete strangers. I don’t want to force you to take sides – the side of love, the side of your church, the side of your family’s ideology – but I’ve been left with no choice. I’m being forced to ask you for permission to marry the love of my life. My life, my relationship, my love, my American Dream is now in the hands of people like you; people I’ve likely never met, and although I wish nothing more than to prevent you from being burdened with decisions about my life (let’s face it, you probably have enough problems of your own), I haven’t been given a choice.

When you walk into the voting booth and you prepare to push the button, remember me and those in situations just like me. We are standing outside, behind the police line doing all we can, but we need you to give us the “all clear.” Our love is in your hands, please treat it gently.

Vote “NO” on 1 in Maine.

Louisiana Judge Refuses to Preside Over Interracial Marriage

October 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Marriage Equality

ourmarriageAccording to an article in the Huffington Post, a Justice of the Peace in Hammond, Louisiana has denied an interracial couple their right to marry.  The Justice claims he is not a racist, but is concerned for the future offspring of the children.

I’m continually struck by the number of people that claim not to be racist or bigots while practicing racist or bigoted things.  Apparently, they know that being a racist or a bigot is wrong, and they are on the side of right — right?

WRONG.

As a Justice of the Peace, he should be aware that interracial marriage is not illegal anymore – having been deemed unconstitutional 40 years ago.  This particular instance hits home after this weekends National Equality March wherein I briefly interviewed an straight, interracial couple, the Newmans (pictured) about why they are marching.

Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance and other biases  can and do exist in our society, but they must not exist under the law.  To allow an employee of the government who is paid by the taxes of the “free” people of the United States (or in this case, a state in the United States) to use his/her own personal beliefs to decide matters governed by civil law is abhorrent.  If he doesn’t agree with interracial marriage, he needs to find a new job – perhaps Grand Master of the Ku Klux Klan?

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: You Do Know Someone Who is Gay.

September 09, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

0006 crop - CopyThis is the story of my friend Kurt. I was the new kid in high school and I discovered that in a small town, it is difficult to break into social cliques. I was marginalized by the popular kids because my dad worked in a factory and I was from Chicago. One had to be in the right social circles. Somewhat ironic in a town of 8,000 after living in Chicago. One country club does not a social scene make.

The first student to approach me was Vicki, as she muttered in the library that they had no good books. She introduced me to  her brother, who was a living doll, cute butt and very funny. Kurt and I spent the better part of an evening at an “accidental”  date discussing the worlds problems, as teenagers love to do. I discovered that we had nothing in common and we argued for literally hours. He was a Republican, a bigot and, worst of all for this young hippie chick, he littered.

And yet, he was funny, witty, smart and completely charming. We became the best of friends and for many years people  believed that we were dating. It was always difficult to explain to potential boy/girl friends that we were just friends. Very few  got it and most were jealous. Kurt’s life became more troubled. He disappeared from school, starting doing drugs, then harder  drugs. His parents sent him to a psychologist and it got worse. When he returned after disappearing for a week, our circle of  friends discovered that he was doing heroin and had thoughts of suicide. We watched him like a hawk. He had many, many friends.

Not once did the thought cross my mind that he was gay. He chased girls like there was no tomorrow and he called kids queers and faggots. We would argue about that. He had me completely fooled.

After high school, we lost touch and when I looked him up, he was living in San Francisco, in the time of Harvey Milk. It was the only safe place to be out in that time.  He watched the White Night riots from his window as he lived near Civic Center. San Francisco was a place where he could be happy and began to accept himself. Then HIV came and wiped out the gay community. His partner died, his entire circle of friends died. He feel into a very deep depression. This was during the 1980’s when Republicans were doing things like putting bumper stickers on their cars that said “All the right people are dying of AIDS.”

Each day this month brings me closer to the grief that I know that I will feel. Because his birthday is at the end of September and his death was in early October. Outside of my husband, I was closer to him than any other man. He was my friend. We knew each other and loved one another unconditionally. I cannot begin to fathom the fear, the internalized homophobia and shame that he had to overcome. He was so smart and could have achieved anything. Instead, he fought a society that constantly told him that he was sick and a pervert. he loved his friends, was an amazing host, was knowledgeable in so many areas and was always entertaining. He was the epitome of graciousness, with lovely thank you cards and birthday cards. He was always excited when we visited and loved to show us his city. There is a hole in my heart that no one else will ever fill. I keep my memories of him alive on a flash drive, with photos, letters and music, that I store inside a little box from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, his favorite building. Not a gay bar. A church. An amazing church.

Every person who has lost a loved one, for whatever reason, knows what I mean. Everyone is human. Everyone is vulnerable and has feelings. Everyone can be hurt and struggles to protect themselves from hurt. My friend was as human, as worthy, as amazing as anyone else. Being gay was such a small part of his personality, of his potential. Yet others could see only that, not the real person underneath.

Someone you know IS gay. You may or may not know it. When I hear people say “I have gay friends and they know how I feel”, usually in reference to not supporting same sex marriage, I ask you “Are they really your friends? Have you asked them how your opinion makes them feel? Friend? Really? Or just acquaintances. While I applaud you for not preaching hatred, it is truly naive to believe that gay people don’t fall in love and don’t want stable, legal marriages. They are just like you and me. In the grand scheme of things, don’t each of us deserve the right to marry the person we love? How can love ever be wrong? How can a fight to legalize marriage take so long and so much money? How can love make us more uncomfortable than words of discrimination and marginalization. Do you really want to be the one to say “I won’t give you rights to Social Security, Medicare, tax benefits, the right to visit your partner in the hospital”.

Nothing will convince me that my LGBT friends are less worthy in any way. Not Shirley Phelps Roper, not Maggie Gallagher, not Pastor Steve Andersen, not Ann Coulter, not the Pope, not James Dobson, not the conservative in the cubicle half way down the hall from me, and most importantly, not the Bible. I have way too many LGBT friends. They are diverse, amusing, amazing, and a few are annoying. Because they are human. In the forty years that I have known gay people, and I’ve known a lot, not a one has tried to abduct my son or indoctrinate me with some kind of gay kool-aid. They talk about the same things as everyone else. Work, money, pets, car trouble, grocery shopping, their knee hurts, the kids don’t sleep at night, the cable company screwed up the bill. It’s only a myth that the gay lifestyle is glamorous. Most of them live just like you and me. Except we don’t have to be afraid that someone will kill us for being straight. Love is not a sin.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude 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.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays: Gays Attempting to Obtain Privilege Nobody Else is Allowed

February 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Stupid Things People Say About Gays

In part 20 of my posts exposing the stupid things people say about gays, we will analyze the following comment as it related to the gay marriage debate:

It’s not about equal rights. It’s about homosexuals obtaining a privilege that nobody else is allowed to have. Colorblind people are expected to accept red as red, green as green, and yellow as yellow. If they don’t have the capacity to see it that way, it’s nobody else’s problem. It’s their lot in life. Nobody is depriving them of their right to see. Same with homosexuals. Hemaun (a 36 y/o vlogger and religious zealot)

First, I’m going to talk about the comment, “It’s about homosexuals obtaining a privilege that nobody else is allowed to have.”  As a long time resident of Texas, USA, Earth, I know with certainty that no one has ever been allowed to marry except the homosexual.  In the United States, homosexuals already receive numerous privileges that are denied to everyone else, like marriage, adoption rights, 401K benefits from a spouse, Social security death benefits, etc…etc…etc…  Those privileges are provided gladly by our government to homosexuals, but no one else… they are exclusive to us. (Note the sarcasm?).  It is relevant to note that same-gender couples can, and often do, “marry” in a religious ceremony sanctioned by the church they attend.  Such is just not recognized by law.  It is the law denying recognition that is at the core of the issue.

Colorblind people are expected to accept red as red, green as green, and yellow as yellow. If they don’t have the capacity to see it that way, it’s nobody else’s problem.”  Wow, how myopic (pun intended).  I’ll have to use that argument against the fundamentalist Christians, that they are like Colorblind people and they just have to accept the fact that their anger, disillusionment, invocation of fear, bigotry and hatred is why the religion is dying.  I find it ironic that he uses such a very poor metaphor to say one group should just accept themselves and not try to force a belief on another when the group in which you are a part has been and continues to do just that!  Again, I say: How many gays have showed up at your door asking you to be gay?

Gay Rights, What Are We Fighting For/Against

December 22, 2008 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Unfriendly, anti-gay, heterosexuals have attacked the marriage issue and the LGBT community has stood its ground, highlighting historical evidence, state law, U.S. law and regulations.  The community has even had to defend itself against the Bible, just like many other minorities over the years including African Americans and Jewish people.  But what is this talk of civil marriage equality really about?  Surprisingly, it’s not about marriage at all, it’s about freeing a people from the fetters of bigots, extremists and homophobic people in society.  It’s about no longer being afraid and about being allowed to live and pursue the American dreams of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Although not providing civil marriage equality to same-gender couples is unconstitutional, an argument which should be strong enough standing on its own, the issue is much more personal for LGBT people.  We have watched as our friends and family have been brutally and unforgivingly beaten, raped, attacked and/or murdered by the homophobic right wing; such attacks often being declared to be because of “God”.  It is an underlying issue for LGBT people, to believe that governmental equality under the law may help to end the social injustices we are faced with every day.

So that we may never forget what it is we have lived through and what it is we are fighting against, let’s take a walk down memory lane:

  • Nazi Germany:  The “fathers” of the pink trianlge ,placed this badge upon homosexuals in concentration camps in order to identify them as such.  Homosexuals, like other groups of persons, were murdered under the Nazi reign.
  • Giovanni di Giovanni, a Florentine boy, was castrated and burned on his anus with a red-hot iron by court order for homosexuality.
  • Knight von Hohenberg and his lover in 1482 were burned at the stake for being homosexuals.
  • Jacques Chausson (1661) was burned alive for allegedly attempting to seduce the son of a nobleman.
  • The Shia death squads in present day Iraq have increased their extrajudical killings of LGBT people.  “In 2005, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa on his website calling for the execution of gays in the ‘worst, most severe way’.”
  • Robert Hillsborough in 1977 – murdered by a man shouting “faggot.”
  • Harvey Milk – assassinated by Dan White in 1978.
  • Tennessee Williams – assaulted by five teenage boys who were inspired by an anti-gay ad ran by a Baptist minister.
  • Terry Knudsen, murdered in 1979 in Minnesota.
  • Rick Hunter and John Hanson who were beaten in 1982 by police calling them queers and sissies.
  • Declan Flynn murdered in Fairview Park, Dublin in 1983 – his attackers received a suspended sentence.
  • Charlie Howard, murdered 1984.
  • Rebecca Wight – murdered by Stephen Roy Carr who claimed he was enraged by her lesbianism.
  • James Zappalorit (1990) – stabbed to death.
  • Julio Rivera (1990) – beaten with a hammer and stabbed to death with a knife.
  • Paul Broussard (1991), murdered.
  • Brandon Teena – raped and murdered in 1993.
  • Scott Amedure (1995) – murdered after revealing his homosexuality on a Jenny Jones’ show.
  • Roxanne Ellis and Micelle Abdill in 1995 by a man who stated he thought their lifestyle was “sick”.
  • Eric Robert Rudolph bombed the lesbian nightclub, Otherside Lounge, injuring five patrons in 1997.
  • Matthew Shepards beating and death from exposure after being left tied to a fence in 1998.
  • The bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub which wounded 723 and killed at least 2 people.
  • The murder of Pfc Barry Winchell due to his relationship with Calpernia Addams, a transgendered woman in 1999.
  • The 1999 murders of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder by Matthew and Tyler Williams, White Supremists who claimed they were “obeying the law of God.”
  • The murder of Steen Fenrich by his stepfather in 2001 – his skull had “gay nigger number one” scrawled into it along with his social security number.
  • Arther “J.R.” Warren in 2000 by a group of teenagers who believed that Warren was spreading rumors about his sexual relations with one of the boys.
  • The shooting of 7 people in Roanoke, Virginia in 2000 (killing one) because a Ronald Gay was upset over what his surname “meant” and was told by God to find and kill lesbians and gay men.  He described himself as a “Christian Soldier” working for his Lord.
  • Aaron Webster was beaten to death in 2001 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Fred Martinez, a transgendered student was attacked and beaten to death in 2001.
  • Hundreds of soccer fans attacked participants of a Pride Parade in Belgrade in 2001.
  • In 2002, Nizah Morris was murdered in Philidelphia, the case was dreadfully mishandled.
  • Bartrand Delanoe, Mayor of Paris France, was non-fatally stabbed in 2002.
  • Gwen Araujo (17 years old) was murdered in 2002.
  • Sakia Gunn was a 15 year old African American lesbian who was murdered in New Jersey.
  • Richie Phillips was lured to his death because he was gay in 2003.
  • Nireah Johnson and Brandie Coleman were murdered in 2003 because Johnson was transgendered.
  • Glenn Kopitske was killed after a homosexual encounter with Gary Hirte in 2003.  Hirte believed that the homosexual act was “worse than murder.”
  • Brian Williamson, a Jamaican Gay rights activist was murdered with a machete in 2004.
  • FannyAnn Eddy, a gay and lesbian activist was murdered in 2004.
  • Daniel Fetty was murdered in 2004 by two men in Waverly, Ohio who beat him to death with bricks and boards.
  • Ronnie Paris, a THREE YEAR OLD boy, was murdered by his father because his father was concerned that Ronnie was gay and would grow up to be a sissy.
  • Jason Gage was bludgeoned to death with a bottle and stabbed in the neck with a shard of glass.
  • In 2005, Yishai Shlisel stabbed three marchers in a gay pride parade in Israel claiming he acted on behalf of God.
  • Jody Dobrowski was murdered in London in 2005.
  • In 2005, Lauren Harries, her father and brother were attacked in their home because Lauren was transgendered.
  • In 2005, a Jamaican mob chased a man they believed to be gay.  The man jumped into the water to escape the mob and drowned.
  • Gisberta Salce Jumior, was tortured and anally raped with sticks over a period of three days, then thrown into a pit and left to die by a group of 12-14 boys aging between 12 and 16.
  • In 2006, Jacob D. Robida entered a bar, and upon confirming it was a gay bar attacked the patrons with a hatchet and gun, wounding three.
  • Students in Jamaica rioted in 2006 and attacked an “allegedly” gay student.
  • Richard Jefferson and Ryan Smith, CBS Evening News producer and researcher were beaten by a group of four men and two women with tire irons in 2006.
  • Kevin Aviance was robbed and beaten by a group of men yelling anti-gay slurs at him.
  • Six men were brutally beaten by a group of other men (one of which was a 15 year old boy) after leaving a San Diego Pride event in 2006.
  • Michael Sandy was attacked and while trying to escape, was hit by a car in 2006 by a group of youths who were luring gay men via the internet.
  • Gareth Williams, a gay rights activist and three gay men were stoned in Kingston, Jamaica in 2007.
  • In 2007, 100 men gathered outside of a funeral in Jamaica and proclaimed “We want no battyman [gay] funeral here. Leave or else we’re going to kill you. We don’t want no battyman buried here in Mandeville.”
  • Roberto Duncanson was murdered in New York by a man claiming that it was because Duncanson had flirted with him.
  • Sean Wiliam Kennedy, age 20, was murdered in 2007 by Andre Moller (18) because Moller didn’t like his “sexual preference”.
  • Micahel Marcil was attacked and beaten by Andrew Lefebcre and Sheri-Lee Rand in Ontario in 2007.
  • Also in 2007, 30 participants at a gay pride event were attacked by multiple assailants.  They were stopped by the police before they had the opportunity to use the Molotov cocktails they had prepared for the occassion.
  • In September of 2007, Osvan Inacio dos Santos, age 19, was attacked and murdered.
  • Craig Gee was attacked in 2007.  His skull was reduced to powderand his leg was broken during the attack.
  • In 2008, three gay men were attacked in their dwelling by an angry mob who had been threatening them to leave the community.  One of the three is still missing and feared dead while the other two survivied after hospitalization.
  • In 2008, Alexandre Peixe dos Santos was attacked and beaten in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Approximately 2,680 gay people were murered betwen 1980 and 2006 in Brazil just for being gay).
  • Duanna Johnson was beaten by a police officer in Memphis, TN.  The police were reportedly calling Duanna (a transgendered woman) a “faggot” and “he-she”.  Shortly after threatening a lawsuit against the police department, Duanna was shot by three “unknown assailants”.
  • 2008, Lawrence “Larry” King, a 15 year old junior was shot by a classmate and ultimately died from the wounds.
  • Lance Neve was beaten unconscious becase he was “gay”.  His skull was fractured and the attack also left him with a broken nose. (Rochester, New York, 2008.
  • Steven Parris was murdered by Steven Hollis and Juan L. Flythe after they found “gay messages” on Parish’s cell phone.
  • September 2008, Tony Randolph Hunter and his partner were attacked near Washington, DC.  Hunter later died from his injuruies.
  • In November, 2008, arsonists burned the home of openly gay Melvin Whistlehunt.  Investigators found anti-gay messages spray painted on the back of the house.
  • Lateisha Green (“Teish” Cannon) was murdered in November 2008 for being a transgendered person.

The above list is not definative (or all inclusive) of crimes against homosexuals.  It was taken in large part from information available from wikipedia.org.  Every time someone is beaten or murdered for their sexual orientation/identity, part of our humanity dies.  To our heterosexual friends who remain indifferent to our plight, I call out to you and ask that you stand up and be counted as our friends, neighbors and fellow country men.  We must stop this injustice.  We all have the right to feel safe.