Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in their consideration of the challenge to overturn California’s Prop 8, and then tomorrow the SC will hear oral arguments in their consideration of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Both of these are a huge deal and have the potential to radically change the legal rights of LGBQ people. We will not know what the SC actually decides until June, but they will be releasing the audio of the oral arguments later in the day after each of them.

In preview of this big news, I thought I would share a few other news topics of interest over the past week in regards to marriage equality.

Firstly, in what I believe might be the most important piece of news from the past few weeks, The American Academy of Pediatrics announced its endorsement of marriage equality. What I find so encouraging about their announcement is their reasoning: it is about the children:

All children need support and nurturing from stable, healthy, and well functioning adults to become resilient and effective adults. On the basis of a review of extensive scientific literature, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) affirms that “children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents.”

On the topic of popular opinion an ABC News/Washington Post poll found a dramatic rise in support for marriage equality over the past decade with support now reaching 58% of the American populace.

Following in the vein of the over 100 prominent Republicans that submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme court in support of marriage equality, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality in an interview with CNN and then published an op-ed further explaining his decision. This is a huge deal because it makes him the second highest ranking Republican to come out in support of it after former Vice President Dick Cheney. He said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

Senator Portman’s son coming out as gay to he and his wife is what prompted the Senator to really examine what he believed and ultimately what sparked his change. This importance of personal experience with an LGBTQ individual is something that we at QPHC have long believed is so very important in the changing of the hearts and minds of others towards LGBTQ people and issues. And it is not just a theory based on our experiences anymore. CNN reported on a recent national poll that “indicates that the percentage of Americans who say they have a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian is on the rise. And that increase matches a jump in the percent of the public who support legal same-sex marriages.” They are calling it the “Rob Portman effect.”

Senator Portman’s son, Will, just published his perspective on his dad’s announcement and some of his story about coming out in the Yale Daily News. I highly recommend reading it.

Senator Portman was not the only high profile political individual to come out in support of marriage equality though as Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) did as well in the past week. While their support is not particularly surprising considering they are Democrats, it is notable because they are both from more conservative states.

In addition former Senator and Secretary of State and possible future candidate for US President Hillary Clinton announced her support for marriage equality as well in a very powerful video:

Update:

Here is the link to the audio for the oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Powerful Testimonies for Marriage Equality from Minnesota

The Minnesota House and Senate have been having committee hearings on the passage of marriage equality bills. The bills (one in the Senate and one in the House) have now passed all of the committees and will be up for votes on the floor sometime in the future.

Yesterday, there were a couple of particularly powerful testimonies given and I thought I would share them. The first one is from Lynne Osterman (a former Republican member of the Minnesota House) and is in favor of passing marriage equality:

The second one is from Mike Frey and is against passing marriage equality. However, because of the direction he takes, numerous pro-marriage equality advocates have argued that his testimony was so out there that it helped the marriage equality movement because of his shocking lack of medical knowledge (he thinks male sperm causes AIDS) and his identification of AIDs as a gay disease. (Please be warned that he is rather graphic in his word choices, so this is probably NSFW.)

(While Mike’s testimony is absurd, it is important to remember always practice safer sex.)

Respect For Marriage Coalition

Since it has been in the news a bit recently and is all the more relevant with the approaching Supreme Court cases–Prop 8 and DOMA–and continued debates in different states towards passing marriage equality, I thought I would share this advertisement from the Respect For Marriage Coalition.

Respect for Marriage

Mrs. Bush has since asked that her picture and quote not be used in the advertisement, but her words still stand and she has long been a supporter of equal rights for LGBTQ people.

But these well know faces are not the only ones expressing their support for marriage equality. So far over 80 well known Republicans have signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court asking them to support marriage equality.

Margaret Hoover, a conservative commentator, author, and granddaughter or President Hoover, recently spoke to The New York Times to present the conservative case for the freedom to marry. Check out her video interview here. It always encourages me to find increasing support for LGBTQ people and rights among conservatives.

Not Just Homosexual, But Homoromantic Three!

In honor of Valentines Day I thought I’d add another post to my developing series about being gay is so much more than just sexual. (See my other posts here and here.)

You may have already seen this first video before, as it went viral a little while ago, but I thought it would be great to share anyway:

Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis:

A student from PHC, who requested anonymity for obvious reasons, actually sent us a link to it, but more than the video I wanted to share the student’s thoughts on it: “What I specifically appreciated about this video was the very end. It showed a lasting relationship. …gay or straight….you want a relationship, not just sex.”

And because they’re just so adorable together, and this song is just so perfect:

Stills of Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka set to Must Have Done Something Right by Relient K:

Happy Valentines Day!

Grammy-Nominated Musicians Support The Freedom To Marry

With the 55th Grammy Awards tomorrow several of the nominees have spoken out in support of marriage equality. Freedom To Marry put together a list of quotes from some of them. These are my favorites:

Jack Antonoff on the importance of everyone being free:

 

Michael Buble talking about his gay uncles:

 

The ever lovable Pink on the importance of being ‘color blind,’ so to speak:

 

Check out all the others at the above link to Freedom To Marry, and be sure to check out the Grammy Awards tomorrow.

Dawn of a New Day

Seeing as how it’s the dawn of a new month (the last one ever, if you believe the Mayans), I thought it apropos to share this video from the Human Rights Campaign narrated by the ever epic Morgan Freeman:

“Freedom, justice, and human dignity have always guided our journey for a more perfect union. With historic victories for marriage, we’ve delivered a mandate for full equality.
The wind is at our back, but the journey has just begun.”

Patrick Henry College Herald Tackles Homosexuality

The Patrick Henry College Herald, a student-run publication, recently published this article on out friends and family members of current students [PDF], which also features the story of a current student who describes her former relationship with a woman.

It’s worth a read, not because I agree with what is said, but because it’s one of the first times that PHC students have openly wrestled with this issue as a student body. While the article was upsetting for me to read for reasons that I will explain in just a bit, it is also a relief to have the LGBTQ community acknowledged, and in a way that does not simply make the queer community into a faceless, vaguely threatening entity. And while I disagree strongly with the tone of the article, I commend writer Elizabeth Stinnette for taking on this project and pushing the PHC student body out of the comfortable silence that they have maintained on this issue.

Nevertheless, I wanted to highlight two of the major misconceptions in this article.

1. Being straight is part of the Christian gospel message

PHC students tend to discuss homosexuality in relation to marriage amendments and as signs of a decaying culture. However, gays and lesbians cannot be painted with a single rainbow-colored brush. A sizeable minority of students has [sic] experienced the complexity of the situation—their relatives and friends are publicly or privately homosexual. Additionally, a few students have struggled with same-sex attraction themselves. While all of these students acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin, they realize that they need to extend grace to their relatives and show them the light of the Gospel.

I just have two questions: how does one paint with a rainbow-colored brush? And where can I find one?

On a more serious note, it would be a good idea for PHC students to move beyond only acknowledging the LGBTQ community when talking about marriage amendments or the supposedly decaying culture. The first is dehumanizing, the second is demonizing.

But I still take issue with the more “loving” approach that is outlined. When a relative is gay or lesbian (the article doesn’t really acknowledge the bisexual or trans* communities), the suggested solution is extending grace and showing them the light of the gospel.

As a Christian who also happens to be a member of the queer community, I am all for grace and the light of the gospel. I want to extend it to others, and I want others to extend it to me. But when did sexual orientation become an integral part of the gospel?

I guess I must have missed that verse in Romans 10 where it says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and promise to be straight forever and ever, you will be saved.” I must have been sleeping in Sunday School when we studied John 3:16, where it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, and turns away from their homosexual desires, should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now I know that some Christians don’t see sexual orientation as an integral part of the gospel. To them, homosexuality is a sin just like a bunch of other sins, and they believe that the gospel promises that God’s love has the cleansing power to get rid of all sins.

But other Christians take that idea and run with it, and preach the damaging message that you can’t be gay and a Christian, or that if you are gay, you have to be celibate if you want to go to heaven.

There is no room in this paradigm for the out, proud gay Christian who is in or looking for a gay relationship. In this mentality, you can be out if you’re celibate, or you can be out as a “former gay.”

2. Being gay or lesbian is synonymous with having emotional and/or psychological issues

And now we get to the part of the article that really broke my heart. A student with the pseudonym “Marie” tells the story of her longterm lesbian relationship with a girl named “Donna.”

Marie and Donna both grew close after dealing with incredible tragedy and hardship in their personal lives, including Donna’s abusive mother, the deaths of several of Marie’s close family members, and the death of Donna’s cousin “Trent”, who was “the only person who loved Donna.”

Marie’s parents forced her to attend PHC; neither they nor anyone at school knew about her lesbian relationship at the time. Meanwhile, Marie dreamed of getting a job at a law office so she could take Donna out of her abusive situation.

“Things were bad between me and Donna,” Marie said. “I felt like I had abandoned her.”

Marie didn’t realize how separated they had become until a high school quarterback took Donna out on a date, got her
drunk, and raped her. Donna called Marie while she was working on her second Spinney paper.

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Marie said. Both girls sobbed over the phone.

Donna became pregnant, but she lost the baby a couple of weeks later. She and Marie had always talked about having children together and had even picked out names.

“I felt that I had lost my own child,” Marie said. They named the baby Jasper. He would have had blonde hair, blue eyes, and Donna’s smile.

After a student at PHC witnessed to Marie, she “gave up the dross and took the gold,” and now considers herself straight. Donna is still trapped in her abusive home situation.

“I think about this woman who I loved, who I was engaged to for five years …. I have to look at her and know she will go to hell because no one loved her enough to show Christ’s love for her. And it breaks my heart beyond all bearing,” Marie said.

I can’t even begin to fathom the pain and personal tragedy that Marie has had to deal with. And it’s not up to me to decide whether Marie is straight, lesbian, bisexual, or some other orientation. But if Marie reads this post, I want her to know this:

Marie,

You and Donna had to deal with an overwhelming burden of pain that would have put strain on any relationship, especially one between two young girls who had to weather a long-distance relationship. Death, abuse, rape, a baby that you both loved and then lost — your strength and courage in loving each other through all of that is astounding. Such painful events would cause emotional and psychological trauma for anyone. If you had been a man, you might have still had to break up with Donna anyway. No one can be superhuman forever.

But you should know that loving another woman is not the problem. Loving another woman does not make you broken. You’ve decided that you want to be with a man someday and that you want to live as a straight woman. I don’t know you, and I don’t know the details of your situation. Maybe you will find lasting happiness with a man.

But you should know that if you are still attracted to women, that is OK. You can lead a full, happy, meaningful, moral life as a lesbian or bisexual woman. And if you remain a woman of faith, you can maintain a relationship with God that will only enrich your friendships and relationships with people of any gender and orientation.

If you fall in love with another woman, a woman with whom you could see yourself building a long and happy life, a woman with whom you could see yourself raising children, don’t run away from that because you’re afraid of losing God’s love. Not only does Romans 8 remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but a love that beautiful (even if it’s with someone of your own gender) brings us closer to God.

Whoever you are, Marie, my heart goes out to you.

LGBT History Month: Day 31 Rev. Robert Wood

Day thirty-one of LGBT History Month features the Rev. Robert Wood, who authored the first book in the United States on Christianity and homosexuality.

From his bio at the LGBT History Month website:

“Is it proper for two of the same sex to enter the institution of marriage? To which I must reply, ‘Yes.’ ”

The Reverend Robert Wood authored the first book in the United States on Christianity and homosexuality. He is the first clergyman to picket for gay rights.

Wood was raised in Youngstown, Ohio. He enlisted in the Army and was severely wounded in the invasion of Italy. He was awarded a Purple Heart, two Battle Stars, a Combat Infantry Badge and a Bronze Star. With the help of the G.I. Bill, Wood graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Oberlin School of Theology.

In 1951, he was ordained in Vermont in the Congregational Christian denomination. He served on the Board for Homeland Ministries for the United Church of Christ and on the World Ministries Board.

In 1956, he wrote an article titled “Spiritual Exercises” for a gay physique magazine, which featured a photo of him in his clerical collar. After meeting Edward Sagarin, author of the groundbreaking book “The Homosexual in America” (1951), Wood was inspired to write “Christ and the Homosexual” (1960). Wood’s book was the first to call for the Christian faith to welcome homosexuals without repudiating their sexuality.

In 1960, the Mattachine Society and The Prosperos honored Wood with Awards of Merit. Each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969, Wood picketed in his clerical collar at “Annual Reminders,” which launched the LGBT civil rights movement. He appeared in “Gay Pioneers,” a documentary about the demonstrations. In 2001, the Christian Association at the University of Pennsylvania honored him as a gay pioneer.

Wood retired from the ministry after serving 35 years in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. For 27 years, he lived openly with his partner Hugh Coulter.

A fitting conclusion to our series, as Rev. Wood was a ground breaker in the area we at QPHC are trying to address: the reconciliation of queerness and following Jesus.

LGBT History Month: Day 30 Tom Waddell

Day thirty of LGBT History Month features Tom Waddell, an Olympic athlete.

From his bio at the LGBT History Month website:

“Winning is doing your best.”

Tom Waddell was an Olympic athlete and founder of the international sporting event, the Gay Games.

Born Thomas Flubacher in New Jersey, Waddell’s parents divorced. At 15, he moved in with his neighbors, Gene and Hazel Waddell, who adopted him. Waddell attended Springfield College, where he studied pre-medicine and was a star gymnast and football player. In 1960, he enrolled at New Jersey College of Medicine. In the early 1960’s, he participated in the African-American civil rights demonstrations in Alabama.

In 1966, Wadell joined the Army and served as a medical doctor. Two years later, he competed in the Olympics, placing sixth in the decathlon. Because of a knee injury, he retired from athletics. After the Army, Waddell completed a graduate fellowship at Stanford University.

In the mid-1970’s, Waddell came out to friends and family and began exploring the burgeoning gay scene in San Francisco. After attending a gay bowling competition, he was inspired to organize a gay sporting event. Modeled on the Olympics, he founded the Gay Games, which first took place in 1982 in San Francisco. Originally called the “Gay Olympics,” the U.S. Olympic Committee sued Waddell for the use of the word “Olympics” and the organization was renamed “Gay Games.”

In 1981, Waddell began a relationship with Zohn Artman. That same year, he met lesbian athlete Sara Lewinstein, and they decided to have a child. After their daughter was born, Waddell and Lewinstein married to ensure joint custody.

Waddell experienced the success and international impact of the Gay Games. “Tom wanted to emphasize that gay men were men, not that they were gay,” said Waddell’s biographer. “He didn’t want them to lose their homosexual identity, or hide it; he just didn’t want them to be pigeonholed by it.” In 1987, Waddell died of AIDS-related complications.

LGBT History Month: Day 29 Jon Stryker

Day twenty-nine of LGBT History Month features Jon Stryker, a philanthropist and leading funder of national and international LGBT organizations.

From his bio at the LGBT History Month website:

“It’s about supporting people who are trying to live in peace as openly gay or lesbian or transgender people.”

Jon Stryker is a philanthropist and leading funder of national and international LGBT organizations.

Stryker was raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kalamazoo College and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He is an heir to the Stryker fortune and a major shareholder in Stryker Corporation, a hospital and surgical equipment manufacturer.

Stryker founded and solely funded the Arcus Foundation, the largest grantmaker for LGBT issues. Established in 2000, the foundation’s mission also includes conservation of the great apes.

In addition to the foundation, Stryker has personally donated more than $247 million to LGBT causes and great ape conservation. He is a founding board member of the Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya and Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida. The threatened colobine species Rhinopithecus strykeri was named in his honor.

A registered architect, he is the president of Depot Landmark, which specializes in the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Since 2004, he has been a Global Philanthropists Circle Member. In 2008, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force awarded Stryker the Creating Change Award.

Stryker is divorced with two children. In 2011, he was listed among The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s top 50 donors. The following year, Forbes named him one of the “400 Richest People in America.”