Saturday, May 31, 2008
An Out Lesbian Chancellor at UW-Madison: The Importance of Out Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans Role Models in the Academy
I have taught at five institutions of higher education, a.k.a., colleges, universities, and I never worked with an "out" gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans person. Granted, there were other LGBT people in the administration or staff, or in another department, division, or school (in the case of a university). In one case, there was one "out" lesbian who taught before I arrived to teach, but she was denied the chance to teach a course not because of the content of the course, but because she is a lesbian.
Because of the paucity of out-LGBT people, I knew that my being out was a sure-way of getting axed. When I was outed, and subsequently blackballed by one institution, this prediction or hunch was proven true.
Upon the news of out-lesbian Dr. Biddy Martin, being named Chancellor at the Univ. of WI-Madison, I found the first university or college I know I could teach at without fear of harassment or denial of promotion because I am a gay man. That is how significant her choice is to those of us who are out-LGBT people. She is the "canary in the cave," letting those of us who are LGBT and trained to teach in college know that it is a "safe place" to teach. She is the embodiment of a large "Safe Zone" sticker on the entire university campus.
Click here for more.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Click here and here for more.
What caught my eye this morning when reading the NYT on-line was the simple title, "Gay Marriage." This is before I cruised towleroad.com, queerty.com, or andresullivan.com It is an important move!
"Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway..." Time to celebrate NY!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
What Gilreath forgot to include was this: LGBT people also face unrelenting harassment not only at school and home but also church, mosque and synagogue as well. Every time a denomination stands up and denies LGBT people ordination, marriage, and even baptism and Eucharist, we, who are members of community of faith participate in acts of harassment.
Click here for more.
When the California Supreme Court made their most recent decision, what they did was send out a climate of love for and among all. What Sen. Jim Forrester did, in posting an amendment of the Constitution of the state of NC against LGBT marriage, is send out a message and a climate of hate for and among all.
It is time to change.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
As I mentioned in many recent emails, I lived from years 4-12 in Maplewood, NJ, and from ages 12-18 in Portland, OR, before the constant move to various colleges, seminaries, and universities. My life began in Brooklyn, NY. I was born in Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, and we lived on Flatbush Ave. until 4 years old. I've always held on to my New Yorker identity, for better or worse, whether living in Oregon or in North Carolina, though I do not have a New York accent.
My pride in the state of New York was polished or bolstered in the last few hours when I read this article in which the Governor of NY made it possible for all state agencies to recognize gay marriages from other states or countries as a "marriage" in the state of New York as well:
"Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada."
Click here for more.
Again: it is crazy that we live in a country in which those of us who are LGBT, married in other states or countries, do not have these marriages recognized in certain other states. This is not something that people who are heterosexuals have to worry about or think about at all. Heterosexuals married in Oregon are in marriages that are recognized in all 49 other states. But such is not the case of those of us who are LGBT and married. I understand that this is a matter of state's rights, but, come on!
"You go, New York!"
Now, "Come on, North Carolina!"
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
In the homes where I grew up, both in Maplewood, NJ and later in Portland, OR, in front of our home there was a silver-plated flag pole mount firmly screwed into the part of each house that jutted out on the wooden frame of the house, located near where the house was closest to the street. On every Flag Day, June 14th, my Dad would take the American flag out of the front hall closet, unfurl it (of course, each time he furled it carefully, and also burned one of our flags when it was tattered in a storm, as is the "right way" of discarding a flag), and with golden eagle pointing out toward the sky, he would put the flag in its special mount, step back, and salute. After all, he was an Air Force Reservist for over 30 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
In California, June 14th is the first day that LGBTQ folks will be allowed to marry, legally, in the state.
As a proud American, and envious North Carolinian, I may go out and buy an American flag, mount it in front of our house in Chapel Hill, and along with the eagle, put streamers on the end, rainbow colored of course, celebrating this happy day of California's move toward upholding the rights of all people to wed, gay and straight alike. Click here for more on coming nuptials in California.
There is movement in the land. But a "fight" is always before us from those who would want to take away this day. After all, polls are showing that over half of the state of CA would approve a ban of same sex weddings.
The importance of standing up, rising up, and being known and counted and engaged in this fight is made dramatically clear in the recent inauguration of a memorial to the LGBTQ folks who died at the hand of the Nazi regime of WWII Germany. Seeing the play/movie "Bent", or going to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., or to Yad Vashem in Israel, one is reminded of who died, and why: because many were silent in the face of extermination of others with the excuse, "thank God that's not about us," until, in the words of Niemoller, they came for us, and no one was left to defend us. Click here for that article.
Monday, May 26, 2008
...we gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples are covered. Maryland just voted to make our "domestic partner" benefits stronger: we have rights to visit hospitals and have our say regarding our partners health care, along with funeral arrangements; and there is more coverage in terms of property transfers in the face of death of one's partner.
Herein lies a case in point: these are "given" issues in the case of marriage of heterosexuals. No heterosexual couple has to fight and win laws for this simple request: that in the event of our partner's ill health, we, the other partner, have a "say" in our beloved's health care.
On the one hand, "Yeah" we won that privilege. On the other hand: isn't this just plain logical that we should have this ability and legal right to care for our loved ones?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Growing up in Maplewood, NJ, Memorial Day weekend usually included going to a parade either in our hometown or in New York City. Usually, my Dad would march in such a parade with his Air Force blue uniform on him. My Dad was an Air Force Reservist for over 30 years, having served in WWII as a translator, and then serving the Reserves doing work with the Civil Air Patrol. Instead of making it to the Eagle Scouts--like so many of my gay brothers--I went into Civil Air Patrol because of my love of flying, and hope of one day getting a pilot's license. That hope is still there.
On this day may we remember all the women and men who are LGBTQ who served this nation, whether in the closet or out, and who died in service to our country, or those who died having served this country in military service. While I am a "pacifist" (which is a loaded term that needs to be unpacked in so many ways), I understand the right to defend one's self and community as a right shared among many in this populace.
So is the right to be free to be who we are without fear of discrimination.
May those women and men who are or were LGBTQ, who defended the rights of this country, be honored by our securing the rights they fought to have while they were alive.
Friday, May 23, 2008
On towleroad.com, there was an article on the Russian Health Ministry ending the ban on LGBTQ people giving blood donations (Click here for more). Why would LBTGQ (mixing it up a bit here) be denied the opportunity to give blood? Why, aren't we all HIV+ or have some other STD?
Let's see: Russian Health Ministry ends the ban on LGBTQ people giving blood donations in Russia while we in the USA are denied the opportunity to give blood donations to the Red Cross during blood drives. I mean, you know you are gay in the US when people come begging for donors for blood donations at Red Cross stations in churches, synagogues, schools, YMCAs, and I cannot give because they will ask, "Have you ever had unprotected sex?" along with "Have you been outside the country, on a farm with mad cow disease?" as if the two are synonymous.
Hey, Red Cross: not all LBTQG people are HIV+, or have STDs, or have Hepatitis A, B, or C!
This is but one more place that we who are LGBTQ are treated as second class citizens in this country, along with:
* Not being able to marry or have domestic partnership rights in all 50 states;
* Not being able to adopt children as a gay or lesbian couple;
* Not being able to necessarily bring our partners from overseas over here to live with us like married couples do, with all the rights and privileges of at least Green Card status;
* HIV+ folks from overseas, well...don't get me going;
* Not having same tax benefits as married couples;
* Being denied baptism and communion in churches, though that is a church case, not state case, but what the heck: even in the American church the bias is present;
* Our children being denied baptism and communion in children, even if they aren't LGBTQ;
* Gay hate crimes;
* Not protection against being denied housing or employment because we are LGBTQ;
* Our partners not being on our health plans nationally in places of employment;
The list can go on...really long list, but I have to work on my book DIVINITY about a weird little School of Theology at Earle University in Dunedin, SC.
Just because California's Supremes voted for us to have the right to be married doesn't mean we've won this war: it is only one more battle among many battles facing us all, gay and straight alike.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Reading this morning's Oregonian on-line, my hometown newspaper, I was caught by the news that the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the ban against lesbians and gays from marrying, which was voted to be part of the state constitution in 2004. Click here for more.
Herein lies the irony: Portland, Oregon voted in the first openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, who is now mayor of the 40th largest city in the country who, by law, is not able to marry someone because he is gay. Thus the mayor of Portland, Oregon is treated as a second class citizen in a first rate city?!
When "Ellen" is aired today, with John McCain on the show, she asks him about his stand on gay marriage, and he is against it. He is "for" us in having some of the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples, but is against us being married. Ellen did ask him to walk her down the aisle when she weds Portia in the next few weeks.
This is why it is important for us to write letters to editors, get on call-in radio shows, and to protest and be parts of large rallies. Yet the most effective way to bring about change is to vote, to vote, and to vote (as Rep. Barney Frank reminded me a few years ago).
In this case, with John McCain letting us know where he stands on the issue of gay marriage, and because this single issue is so important for all of us, I hope those who read this blog, even if they hate single issue reasons to vote one way or another, will consider this: John McCain and the vast majority of Republicans do not want us to marry. While Democratic candidates for President remain, sadly, quiet, it is time for them to also speak out and support us.
Time to vote which will bring about the change we need in this country.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Yeah for my hometown Portland, OR, who voted in Sam Adams to be mayor. Portland is one of the top 40 largest cities in the country, and this election is very important in terms of being a role model for other LGBT folks. Click here for more.
Like my current "home town" of Carrboro, NC, who voted in Mike Nelson, who is openly gay and now an Orange County Commissioner (NC), and Chapel Hill, which has an openly gay Town Councilman, Mark Kleinschmidt, the second one after Joe Hertzerberger, having openly gay elected representation is a good thing. Policies and laws change for the better for not only LGBT, but other minorities when those who consider themselves a minority are elected officials.
This calls for celebration! Ice Cream anyone?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, and their song from the musical "Carousel," "June is busting out all over," I simply felt this song fit my mood as I read of all these states that, either before or California Supreme Court's ruling for gay and lesbian marriage, are celebrating, expanding, or revising their domestic partnership and civil union laws, even in this presidential year of voting. Gutsy!
For example, there is this tid-bit from www.365gay.com:
Civil Unions Come Into Effect In Australian Capital Territory
(Canberra) Same-sex couples began arriving at the Registrar General's office Tuesday as the civil union law in the Australian Capital Territory came into effect.
Miami-Dade OKs Domestic Partner Benefits
(Miami, Florida) The Miami-Dade County Commission voted 8-4 Tuesday to create a domestic partner registry for the county and to extend health insurance and other benefits to the domestic partners of county employees.
(St. Paul, Minnesota) The Minnesota House has passed legislation that would allow local governments to to offer health and other benefits to the same-sex partners of their workers.
Year Of Waiting For Conn. Gay Marriage Ruling
(Hartford, Connecticut) One year ago this week the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving 8 same-sex couples seeking the right to marry.
In an article in the Raleigh "News and Observer," guest columnist Steven Petrow--and Chapel Hill neighbor--wrote "In NC, Dare We Hope?" in which he focuses on the recent decision by the California Supreme Court's decision in letting those of us who are in same-sex relationships, um, wed each other, entering into the bonds of marriage. Ian Palmquist, of NC Equality, thought that the decision would jump-start discussion of legalizing same-sex unions throughout the country, including states like NC. Of course, the down-side, or the fight before us is this: there are those in this country who will also be stimulated to be sure we who are LGBT and in relationship do not have the opportunity or option of being in a legalized marriage, or in the state of NC, a civil union or domestic partnership arrangement (oh, this language!). Click here for the article.
Having worked with people with disabilities as an advocate for over three decades (yes, I'm dating myself), I know that there will be many "battles" (what else can you call this long siege of discrimination?) as we fight (literally and figuratively) for our rights as LGBT people in all arenas of this country, both in the private arenas like communities of faith, but also in public forums, such as the laws of the land. Yes, the Rove-Bush machine will be busy putting constitutional amendments in various states, trying, again, to use "gay marriage" as a wedge issue to drive up the number of Republicans who will vote. But there are many of us--Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents--who are saying "enough is enough."
And fight we must.
It is time to change, for all of us.
Monday, May 19, 2008
On towleroad.com, along with 365gay.com, there was an article on two women, lesbians, who killed themselves by setting themselves on fire. Their respective families tried to keep them apart. They died in each other's arms. They had been life-long friends, as well as lovers, partners, and truly in love with each other.
"Around midnight, they poured kerosene on their body and set themselves on fire," a police officer told the Times of India.
"They appear to have hugged each other during the final moments of their life."
In bitter irony both families agree to allow the remains of the two women to be cremated together.
Click here for the rest of the story.
What is amazing to me is this: the countless number of LGBT who are also dying by not coming out and living freely. While I was "one of these" recently, I now know what it is like to live more freely as well, and none too late. When I watched "Saul", who is the 60+ year old character on ABC TV's "Brothers and Sisters," I am struck by the importance of coming out, no matter one's age. The sadness, I think and feel, is not coming out and living the life we were meant, called, created to live and to be.
Are those who are ot able to live "out" and "be" who they were created allowing themselves to die a slow death in the absence of love?
Sunday, May 18, 2008
There was a rally in Havana, Cuba that was reported in the back pages of Raleigh's "News and Observer." The article pointed to the largest anti-homophobic rally in Cuban history, organized by Mariela Castro, Fidel Castro's niece, and Raul Castro's daughter. They celebrated International Day against Homophobia, including watching the movie, "Brokeback Mountain." There was the acknowledgment that homophobia is an ongoing problem on that island, in which, given the Catholic and "machismo" culture of Cuba, homophobia has been a constant problem.
A point of reflection: here in the state of NC we had to work hard on anti-bullying laws in our schools, but could not imagine having an entire day focused on the infection of homophobia in our culture. Homophobia in the state of NC is part of the very texture of the state's culture, its ethos, both public and in the areas like communities of faith.
Click here for more.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This just in: the state of California is the second state in the union, a.k.a., the United States of America, that allows us folk to be wedded and married! Bi-coastal reality: Massachusetts, now California!
"I now pronounce you husband and husband" or "wife and wife" or any derivation from there.
Now, while most mainline Protestant churches were sure to put in their constitutions that "marriage is between one man and one woman," what do you do if more and more states offer something more or something other than that? After all, we who are LGBT, who are wedded together, are, in the eyes of the state, married and thus called to live (if your vows so state it) in fidelity? And all wedding and marriages are state mandated contracts that we Ministers of the Word and Sacrament are party to as we sign off on them!
Congrats Californians! I'm envious! Click here for more.
From the red state of North Carolina (regardless of our elected representatives who all supported DOMA in the state and federal level),
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
California Dreamin'? Will the Supreme Court of California Support Legal Marriage of Gays and Straights?
All the bloggers and website writers are holding their breath for tomorrow's decision by the State Supreme Court of California, in which a ruling is to be aired tomorrow at 10 A.M., Pacific coast time. Will the Court say that LGBT people should have the right to marry, as do straight people?
Click here for more.
What does this mean for us? Having purchased the house we were renting for the last twenty-two months, what this means is as follows:
* Not having to ask a lawyer to write up separate drafts of documents, putting them in lock-boxes, securing rights of home ownership that married couples get gratis with marriage;
* Being able to be the "kin folk" when our partners are in the hospital without having to show papers;
* Being able to file jointly and get the same tax advantages--and disadvantages--as married couples, at least in the state tax systems;
* Providing our children (if we have them) a sense of security in who and what we are;
* Providing ourselves some security in knowing who and what we are in relationship with each other (it helps during family therapy!)...
And the list goes on!
Is this California dreaming?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Hospitals: Where Being in a Legal, Contractual, Partnered Relationship (Some Call it Marriage, Others Civil Union) Matters
The importance of this work was dramatized lately in my own family: when my father spent a great deal of time going in and out of hospitals last year, my mother, his wife, walked into the emergency room with no question from staff in being by his side. But Dean, my partner, and I have no assurance that we would be treated in the same way. What many couples who are LGBT have had to do is bring legal papers to show the relationship is legitimate while married heterosexual couples need no proof of relationships...well, perhaps a ring on a finger.
It is time to change.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Kiss! On "Brothers and Sisters", Actors Luke and Matthew Celebrate Domestic, Um, Commitment, Um, Civil, Um...
Well, whatever you call it in a place like California, the actors Matthew Rhys and Luke McFarlane did more than kiss on t.v. tonight: they went all the way...to a commitment ceremony. The "Brothers and Sisters" family was there for "Kevin and Scotty." While "Scotty's" parents did not attend, "Kevin's" family were all there in their wide-act of dysfunctional glory and gore. Heck, the show ended up with more cliff-hanging than any family on earth deserves or wants, thanks to the highly noted promiscuous behaviors of the straight patriarch of the family...and have I mentioned the promiscuous behavior of the rest of the straight characters on this show?! What a wonderful nighttime soap opera.
As a man who is in a 13 year long term commitment with another man, in a state that does not legally recognize us as a couple, what fun to see a ceremony like this on television. There is nothing "normal" about it, because we are not normally filmed or televised being in a commitment ceremony. As other bloggers have noted, "Kevin's" character has gotten more sex than "Will Truman" ever did on "Will and Grace."
The character that Calista Flockhart plays said it best: "Sometimes we have to go beyond what 'was' in order to get to something new and different and beautiful that we never considered, well, possible before."
For those of you who read this site and hate us or are scared of us because we claim without apology to be the people that God created us to be a lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gay people, knowing fully well who and whose we are, there is an important lesson to be learned in all of this: love between two people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender, will always win over fear and hate. As God said and says: "Behold, I am doing a new thing!"
A toast to ABC-TV, "Kevin and Scotty," and all of us as a country who have an investment not only in straight unions like Jenna Bush and her beau Henry Hager getting married in Crawford, TX this past weekend, but for all of us discovering relationships that give life and are embraced by love, gay, straight, transgender, and bisexual people alike...and however they define their commitment to one another!
It is Mothers' Day! Notice where the apostrophe is located: after the "s" and not before it, showing that this day commemorates those who are mothers, or are like mothers, or wannabe mothers, whether one is male or female. After all, whether our mother is someone we are close to (speaking as a momma's boy), or are in a tenuous relationship, or are grieving lost opportunities of care, our mothers are necessary for being here. And, for better or for worse, there are certain emotions and habits associated with the "maternal" in this society.
The origin of Mothers' Day in this society has a strong justice-edge to it, which is often forgotten in this modern day of celebrating the Betty Crocker image of motherhood, versus the Bella Abzug image of mothers. Here is a portion of the entry in Wikipedia regarding Mothers' Day:
The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was imported by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. However, it was intended as a call to unite women against war. In 1870, she wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
When Jarvis died in 1907, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on 10 May 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Originally the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, this building is now the International Mother's Day Shrine (a National Historic Landmark). From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
We who are LGBTQ honor, remember, celebrate mothers, whether we are moms, grandmothers, aunts, god-mothers, wannabe mothers...we are here because of mothers!Peace, Brett
Thursday, May 8, 2008
We are not alone as a state when it comes to denying people the right to share our benefits and coverage when it comes to sharing health care benefits--like straight couples--let alone insurance. Click here for a story from Michigan, in which LGBT couples cannot share health care insurance if one of the partners work for the state, while heterosexuals can share their coverage with each other. Nod to towleroad.com for this essay.
In NC, I found that I needed to have another document signed in order that Dean would be covered in case our house was destroyed when it comes to home owner's insurance. This was a first: we had to have legal papers to secure the right that either Dean or I shared responsibility were our home damaged. However, if we were married heterosexuals this would never have been an issue.
It is discrimination in black and white "and read all over."
It is time to change.
Peace...and charged for change...Brett
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Back in NC after a great trip to Oregon, where I visited with my folks, spent a marvelous time with the Interfaith Disabilities Network of Oregon (IDNO) as keynote lecturer, and preached at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton (and visited Silverado in downtown Portland).
My friend Mike Nelson, Orange County Commissioner (NC), blogged from his "Leading from the Left" site, about a new state law that let's hospital patients designate who can visit them: "The state has adopted new rules that will allow a patient to designate anyone, regardless of relationship status, to visit his or her room. While this does not address the very real and very serious issue of participating in medical decisions, it is a step toward fairer treatment for all."
Dean and I have written our "living wills" and given each other power to make decisions for the other person in case we are in the hospital. But, unlike married heterosexuals, we had to go to a lawyer in order to get this "power" in caring for each other in case of an emergency.
Click here for more.
Step by step...
Friday, May 2, 2008
The United Methodist Church voted this ironic way on Wed., April 30th:
Approved, 517-416, keeping the statement that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.
Rejected, 574-298, a measure that would have changed the church's definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.
Approved, 544-365, a resolution opposing homophobia and discrimination against lesbians or gays.
So how do you maintain a statement that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching while opposing homophobia, which is what the the statement is: a case of homophobia? Am I missing something?The Anglican communion meets this summer, as do us Presbyterians. I'm sure we'll also send confusing messages. It is what we do best.
Let's see: who was it who called on his followers to simply do this: love one another as I first loved you? Hmmmm...