Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Militant Anti-LDS Queer on the Corner

A conference memory…

A number of years ago, I couldn’t keep myself from visiting the web site of… Hmm, let’s see... I dare not summon his spirit… how about “He Who Shall Not Be Named”, or, backwards, “SplehpDerf”.

Ever since my first reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, I’ve had a need to know and understand the enemy; sometimes to an unhealthy degree. That’s me, methodically trying to fix what can’t be fixed again.

I finally gave that up with Fred. I grew to even feel like I couldn’t maintain anger towards him anymore; it’d be like being angry at a person with tourettes for cursing. Also, I eventually realized he was one of the gay community’s best friends, from a PR perspective. At the time, though, I’d print all his outrageous pamphlets, and worry about him gaining ground.

Then one day I read on his site that he was headed to Salt Lake to protest at the LDS general conference. I knew I had to see it for myself, just see it. So, I got in the car, and left R at home. Saner regarding such things than I, he had no desire to witness this train wreck of humanity.

I got there and there the monster was, not really a monster at all. He was just an old guy in white gloves being as outrageous and insulting as he could be, feeding off the LDS passersbys, enjoying every angry word. It was more sad than the big confronting of my fears for which I’d hoped.

He had his typical signs, and his clan carried them in a line, mostly his family I gather. Aside: the next day, I think, I’d go to their protest at our friend’s Episcopal Church. There a little kid, about 9 I’d say, was protesting with them. He called to their minister and said, “Hi, I have a secret. Would you like to know?” She said yes, a kindly woman not expecting what was to come. The little kids said “You’re a dike whore.” Cute, huh?

Back to the general conference: I watched the interaction with the crowd, and felt bad for the LDS folks who had to walk past and see that on a day so important to them. There are times and places for protests, important religious events are not those times.

Then I noticed another group of protesters approach, protesters with gay flags. I was at first afraid they were doing what Fred’s clan was doing, and I approached them to feel them out. I was grateful to learn they were only there to counter-protest Fred. Still, they only had gay flags, and no visible explanation. Clearly they were not clear, not to the LDS folks.

Then the fascination with Fred took hold of me again when I saw one of the lesbians there had a camera; I needed a picture of Fred and me. Silly yes, but it seemed to be an invaluably funny thing to have at the time. I stood next to him and the photo was snapped (and she never sent it to me! Grr).

But once I asked that favor, she felt free to ask one of me. She had to go to the restroom and wanted me to hold her flag. I said sure, not thinking it through.

So there I found myself on the corner of North Temple and Main with a bunch of people holding gay flags as LDS faithful filtered between us to get into conference. Oops, I thought.

As soon as I wasn’t visibly talking to someone the angry comments started, and I realized I was trapped with a flag too big to downplay until the woman came back. “I’m not here protesting you; I’m protesting them” and “I’m just holding this for a friend” I’d counter, but I guess that doesn’t sound too reasonable...

In the end, I spent about 10 minuets in front of that huge granite building, being insulted and questions, and I knew I’d have deserved ever bit of it if things were how they appeared. What a pathetic protester I’d make, constantly apologizing :-).

I Keep the Wolf From the Door

A looming problem, a parenting episode has just been “resolved” and I want to write it out, to keep… It’s long…

Seven months ago, I found myself treading through wet snow in the dark. Moving through the undeveloped lands adjacent to our old home.

I’d just left our boys asleep. I left their dad sitting at the kitchen table, somber and trying to distract himself with the paper. We had just tucked them into bed, acting as though nothing was out of the ordinary, and I felt both glad and guilty they bought it.

The beam from my flashlight skimmed along a faint path ahead of me. I was tracking an animal, tracking the coyote that had just strangled our family dog by the side of our home.

I know now I set off without thinking it through, only on the reflex. But I was on automatic. I was single-mindedly, dispassionately intent on finding the next imperfection in the fresh snow, each distorted caved-in hint at a paw. The distance this animal could leap was remarkable.

I recalled the week before seeing the animal, across the yard, much larger than your average coyote. It sat there staring back, at our dog, at us, at our kids, from the boarder of the trees. How interesting and interested he seemed, and I was excited to point him out to my boys. It made an impression that I’d regret.

I kept going. I went up a hill, through thick growths of trees, through a field, hunting under the new moon. About a mile away from our home, it finally it hit me. What was I planning to do? Really, why on earth was I out here? Had I gone mad? Was I planning to tackle the animal to the ground and bring him to the authorities? Bludgeon it with my flashlight? I merely then remembered our gun and immediately felt my ridiculousness. He was just an animal following its instincts, and so was I, and there was no end to the path I was following that night. He’d just keep moving, with a speed and silence I did not have. Ridiculous.

So why? I realized I’d just been thinking to fix it, find and fix, do something. Our boys were going to be hurt in the morning. I wanted, at least, a better horrible story to digest down and lay out for them, once they realized our dog was gone.

I stopped. I’d not been out in the snow at night for years, and was glad to break it off, relax my posture, and become reacquainted with that old set of sensations.

After some time, I turned and went home, and straight to our bedroom where R was now trying to sleep. I gathered our dog’s “personal belongings.” It’s surprising how much a dog can own, from his bed to bones to stuffed animals donated to him from the twin’s collection. I wrapped it all in his bed and brought them to the garage, where he was. There was nothing to be fixed now; I could allow a break from going over the words I would use to explain in the morning. He was a little friendly shi tzu, sure, the gayest thing we owned, and he lay there in a box. We had bought him as a puppy when it was just R and I, in California. Now he was cold in our garage. I went to bed.

Our boys woke the next day as they always do, bright and smiling. It was too soon that they realized the absence, and we did our best to explain. We were honest, on their level, save for lies of omission. It was not easy. We didn’t know if we wanted to leave the villain in the story, not wanting them to fear the yard with that beast loose, but my Aunt let that out, regardless. In the end, thank goodness, it was more difficult on us than it was on them. They really were too young to understand much; they’d ask for months when their dog would be brought back.

They still ask about why he’s dead, and what death is, and if we will die to this day. I would have loved to postpone such worries for many more years, but it was out. What do you say to, “Papa, are you going to die?” Seriously, I am asking. I do my best, but every possible answer makes me feel like I shouldn’t even be talking.

When I was a kid, my favorite dog became a seeing eye dog in California [Lost in the woods while camping]. I was very proud of him. Another dog went to live with a kindly farmer on his ranch [lethal injection administered by the county for being a remorseless and frequent cat killer]. Did we already make the mistake in not following my parent’s lead, in not lying? I don’t know; they won’t feel betrayed and fooled out of their grief later, as I admit I did, but they wouldn’t have that worry, this soon.

On the night after the death, I heard them talking on the baby monitor while they were going to sleep. B bravely told A, “I’m taking a stick and I’m going to get [our dog] back from the coyote.” He then thought a bit, and said “But the coyote will take it”. A reassured B, “No he won’t. I’ll come with you.”

It was the sort of simple exchange on which parents live. They make the world seem so very and simultaneously hopeful and threatening.

Since that day we adopted a new dog, a grown, coyote-resistant pet. We even moved. But that was not the end of it.

Wildlife management tried to capture the animal at our last house, with no luck, and, though we moved further away from undeveloped lands, we did not make it out of his territory. In our new neighborhood, pets were often going missing. Twice in our first two months I had fathers ask if they could search our property for their family pet; once they found only part. Our neighbor even twice witnessed the (or a) coyote chase her dog right up to the back door.

It was disconcerting, of course. We called wildlife services again; their representative told us he had about 50 reports of missing or dead pets in the area and to shoot it if we could (not legal). We simply couldn’t feel comfortable with our kids in our backyard or even with our new dog being left out, as a grown German shepherd was killed just behind our home. Something had to be done, the neighbors agreed, and the guy went ahead and set snares.

We first caught a small female (his mate?), weeks ago. Clearly not the same animal I had hunted months earlier. Even so, the snares were removed and the pets kept disappearing, and my coyote was repeatedly seen between our old and new home. So the snares went back up.

Yesterday, though, I’m near sure we got him, one huge male coyote caught in a snare. We found him too late in the day, and the smell was already more horrible than anything I’d come across. Even still, we had to get close to this animal. And there he lay at my feet, a striking wild animal.

I found him, at the end of the trail I had followed many nights before in the snow. His prints lead into the radius of torn up and trampled earth and foliage around the snare, and they ended, at my feet.

We slipped the body into a bag and called for him to be retrieved.

I find it creepy and oddly appropriate that he was caught directly behind our new home, and that I was the one to “bring him in”. I find it sad, and ironic that he was killed in the same manner he had killed our dog and so many others, struggling for breath. It’s unfortunate that we’d all cross paths (oddly enough though, they moved into our neighborhood; never were they around when I was a kid). Still, I am unapologetically relieved.

I am glad, for my kids, to be able to play outside without the worry. I’m also glad to put an end into their narrative revolving around our old beloved pet for their little minds. The villain was caught. But I don’t feel the same way I did while tracking him, if I had caught him that night, armed only with a flashlight :-). Nature has a way of swallowing that motivation whole, gracefully, and effortlessly.

I’d just rather some different story altogether.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Blogging Rules and Regulations

This house needs some order. I look around at blogs and see a bunch of unwritten rules. Let me clear mine up:

1. None of my posts are ever going contain my lamentations over an inability to find low low prices on viagra. No advertising in the comments.

2. I don’t care if you put links in your comments to your blog or anywhere else, as long as they are at least vaguely relevant, and perfectly work safe, and family friendly.

3. Curse, if you must, but you’ll be bleeped. Pretend this is primetime TV with the same rules, save the gay people in it aren’t stereotypes, and they're not constantly out to sissify the straight guy.

4. Make your comments as long as they need to be. I, a longwinded guy, cannot through the first stone in this area and don’t a bit mind. (I feel the same about spelling and grammar. I’ll not criticize that; sometimes my hands type the oddest things…)

5. I am not a strict topic enforcer. I don’t mind if comments get off track.

Now, some other things…

Clearly, the names have been changed to protect the [in the eye of the beholder]. I don’t, of course, call my spouse by a single letter. For future reference, if I get comfortable enough to talk more about our children, I think they’ll have the names they had first, A and B.

I really most want to talk about them, and think the most useful information for other gay men and women I’d have is regarding being a parent, but am still thinking of the borders I want to place.

Also I don’t think I’ll be keeping it all gay all the time. Though that’s really the only thing that makes me not just another boring father and researcher ;-), I get tired of it. I think I’ll start straying a bit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Middlesex has put me in a mood to reflect on past generations. To that end, I’ll post one of the many blog posts I’ve waiting in the wings:

I was blessed in many ways with my family, but I was particularly surprised upon coming out by my grandfather, the only grandfather I ever knew. He’s now passed on, but I wish our children could have known him. He loved my partner like a grandson and repeatedly told me he was proud of us; he even encouraged us when we were attempting to become parents. This is the man who baptized me into the LDS church.

I was at a loss as to how I’d been so fortunate, but I eventually learned my grandfather might have had long held experience influencing him to some degree.

About 5 years ago, I was told his little brother, my great uncle, was gay (I’ve been surprised to learn how many of my relatives were/are :-)). My grandfather, along with the rest of his family asked my great uncle to ignore it, hide it and marry a woman, and he did.

He tried and succeeded in doing what they asked, but became increasingly miserable as the years added up. His unfortunate wife grew just as miserable, with his inability to connect with her in the way she had expected. There was no physical intimacy between them, not publicly or, as I was told, privately. I guess he was the sort of gay that not only was attracted to men but also strongly repelled by women, physically. To say the least, no children were brought into their home, and, in this case, probably for the best

He kept his family from one sort of shame, but, eventually, he failed. He did not divorce or ever cheat, to anyone’s knowledge, but there are other ways to fail. He eventually went into a strong depression, and began drinking heavily. Not that I can blame him too much for that. I suppose, lacking the pharmacology many rely on today, it was one of the better chemical “treatments” of the time, not to mention the “sin” least objectionable of the two to his society. Still, his drinking got to the point where he couldn’t keep a steady job.

Then, one night while headed home, he killed two people, a married couple with children at home. He was driving drunk and they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s, in a way, tragically symmetrical: the gay man who’d married a woman and couldn’t be intimate enough to raise children ended up making orphans of children he never knew. His life produced two miserable and complimentary halves of a whole that is the most common example of human beauty and selflessness.

Unfortunately, this was a time when drunk driving could merely be an “accident”, and he pretty much got off scot-free; legally, that is. He had to live with the guilt and he didn’t for long. He stepped up his drinking, and died of cirrhosis a couple years later.

I want to be clear, I don’t mean to at all say my great uncle’s miserable fate is fate for gay men who’ve made his choices. It was brought on by the same challenges in entering into a relationship unnatural to him, and hiding his true self, but he did not meet those challenges well, and it was his fate.

What does strikes me in this instance, though, is how his life, a near unmitigated tragedy, may be one factor by which I came out relatively unscathed, two generations later. I almost feel embarrassed to think I may have benefited in such a way, but I can’t help but thinking that’s what happened, in part.

My great uncle caused a lot of grief in his choices, from the children he left orphaned, to the woman he made his widow, and I’m guessing my grandfather had his ideas as to why, and it left an impression. He did not flinch when he learned I was gay, and, when the time came, there was no question as to if he’d be at our wedding. In the end, my life has been nothing like “Uncle Jack’s”, and people like my grandfather had a hand in molding both.

Funny, long before I ever heard this story, even before I came out, my dad used to repeatedly tell me to never drink to get drunk. He’d joke, “You’ve got Jack’s blood in you, and you don’t want to end up like him.” What an odd coincidence.

Maybe I do have Jack’s blood in me, but I didn’t end up like him.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Middlesex I

I’ve never turned in a homework assignment late or incomplete, but here I am, just getting into Book 4 of Middlesex, despite agreeing to read the thing. I’ve put it off for other matters I’d rather or should attend to. Why am I not into the story?

In front of me now, shelved above my head are many many books. Let’s see… 3 rows, 5 columns of shelves ~3 feet wide. The breakdown:

4 shelves – Science, Engineering, and Mathematics textbooks.
1 –Texts on programming languages, from what I use weekly to languages that may as well be lost dialects of dead civilizations.
2 – All my notes from every undergrad and graduate course I’ve ever taken; every lab book I’ve been allowed to keep.
1.5 – Photo albums, Yearbooks.
1 – Books on philosophy.
1.5 – Books on and of various religions.
0.5 – Miscillaneous reference books.
1 – R’s books.
0.5 – Books on gay topics.

And, finally:

1 shelf of books I’ve read for recreation. But, it’s mainly titles like Plutarch’s lives and Paradise Lost, nothing popularly considered a pleasant read, and for decent reasons. I think I may have read them all as I would the textbooks, anyway.

Do I like Middlesex? Technically, yes, but I’m not drawn to it. I’d rather read Where the Wild Things Are to my boys or my old organic chemistry texts if given the choice :-).

Gosh, now I’m feeling self-conscious. I entered college an avid reader, and certainly read throughout, but less and less for fun and more and more for facts. What I read most today are journal articles. Have I become so focused on reading for facts, that I treat all books like textbooks, forgetting to just enjoy it, as I do music or visual art? I fear I have.

I was let down that Middlesex was about a 5 a-reductase deficient male, an “under-masculinized male” and not about a biologically “true hermaphrodite”. Why? Because that’s the topic on which I most wanted facts, perspective. Oh well, though, it’s still very interesting and I went on. Once the focus moved more away from genealogically matters and related details that, sure, were vivid and clever, but not what I sought, I eventually reached the typical problem I have with fiction. I don’t enough relate to the characters, and where I do here so far it’s on issues so long ago resolved that I find fiction regarding it not very useful.

In a way, most fiction makes feel kind of out of touch. Books regarding topics of sexual orientation can do this even more so. There’s so much I’ve not experienced. I’ve never had my heart broken in unrequited love. I’ve never had any notable clash with my spouse, or family. Never led a double life. Never had more than one love, or intimate partner, thank goodness :-). The major drama of my life is near all posted, starting here, but even my coming out story is queer. For such reasons, maybe, I don’t want fiction to explain it. If I want facts, I’d want to hear it from those who are living it, which is probably why, today, most my recreational reading is done on blogs and forums.

I can hear them now, coming to take away my gay membership card again. What queer would write the above? Don’t we all love an artful, good book? :-)

I’ll keep reading; I can tell it’s moving into the area in which I was most interested anyway. I’ll just have to turn it in late. Hope I’m not graded too harshly.

Monday, September 25, 2006


A change of pace… McGreevey’s promotion of his book happened while I was posting my reasons for equal marriage rights. Here’s his interview on NPR (The “Listen” button is just under the title).


Don’t you hate it when you listen to a person and that alone makes you less willing to judge them harshly? Well, as harshly ;-).

A gay man cheating on his wife with many anonymous gay trysts, using political power to help "lovers", and advocating to keep committed monogamous gay couples from equal rights was not someone I was happy to hear say “I am a gay American”. He caused a lot of harm and sorrow. But, I must admit, he doesn’t seem that difficult to understand after hearing him out (assuming he’s innocent of the nastier claims about him which he denies). The way he puts it, treating your homosexuality like an addiction and being anti gay rights seem like reasonable bedfellows.

Anyway, I think some around here might find some of what he has to say interesting.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What We Get For Marriage Equality

It’s probably not politically useful to go on about what you’d get for equal treatment, but, one on one, I think most people do care, and have a hard time keeping a hard heart :-). So, I’ll finish this up with our reasons as to why we want legal marriage.

1--Our home. We just built it, not by ourselves of course :-), but a lot of our work is in it, from the electrical to the many extra earthquake straps around the kid’s bedrooms. We built it to suite our family, to get the boys a bigger yard, and to keep near their grandparents.

We were almost done and ready to move in when I read this story (a follow-up article here, and a local angle here). A couple not allowed to use the home they own, because they aren’t legally married and have more than 1 child. I checked our zoning law ASAP. It turns out we’re in the same position; to the law, our type shouldn’t be here, in our own home, zoned for “single families”. It’s very worrying to think one grumpy neighbor could complain us out of our property, our home because we don’t have the right anatomy.

2--Health Insurance. Now I pay for two health plans, one for the children and I and another for their dad. It’s very expensive, and wastes time when R has to take the kids in on an emergency, but legal marriage would put us all on one plan, and save that money. Some may say this is a private businesses issue, and it is in part. But it wasn’t when I worked for the government, and the private insurance companies need to be able to know when people have these sorts of relationships and have made these legal commitments.

3-- Taxes. If we could file jointly we’d save money each year (not the case for all gay couples, though). More importantly to me is to know we’ve escaped the “death tax”, a thing that is up in the air with the current legislature. R is a stay at home dad, and if I die, our money is not freely his money, as it is in other marriages. The way our accountant explained it, I’m not even allowed to give him more than 10K/year without him having to pay an exorbitant “gift tax”. This also severely limits what we can leave our children without a high tax. Other children have parents that can shuttle cash between them effortlessly and therefore can easily get twice the tax-free inheritance. It’s near enough to make a guy use the welfare we could get as single.

Simply, if tax and marriage law makes it so that R can’t keep our home and remain a stay-at-home dad for our boys until they’ve grown, I’ll mercilessly haunt the homes of Chris Butters and Gayle Ruzicka :-).

4--Social Security. There are some tediously dry considerations here. Simply, I’d want R to have access to my SS. He works in our home and should have it if something happens to me. I know it could go to the kids, but they barely know what money is :-).

5--Give peace of mind in an emergency. There are the little things having to do with medical problems. But I worry about the big things. We have a huge binder giving us legal power to make many decisions (spent a good deal of money on it too), but it’s not what marriage gives in this area, and it’s not something we can keep with us both. Maybe we should, but it doesn’t, say, go with us on trips. Legal marriage best assures family will be treated like family, leaves the least legal ambiguity, and with relatively little trouble. No one wants to have to run home for papers if their spouse is in an accident, or be in a court battle following the death of their spouse, even if they win, but it happens to many gay couples.

6--Strengthen our will upon a death. Rare sure, but wills can be and are contested, and sometimes invalidated by judges. We’ve known a couple who’ve lost court battles with family, as a gay “lover” is not a spouse in the eyes of many judges, no matter how entangled their lives were. Even if you can afford a lawyer to write a strong will, as our estate planner constantly disclaims about all his work, “it’s not as certain as a legal marriage.” I do fear, at the very least, my will being contested because I’ve left near everything to my beloved, though near legal stranger. I’d like to have more assurance that when I leave my home in the morning things would be as tolerable as possible, if I should be killed; that my family would be treated like the family of any other citizen.

7--Protect them from everyone. For those not married, this may be difficult to understand, but when I think of the man that would hurt my family, I want him punished. I want him punished, even if it’s me. If I break my vows to my R and our children, divorce law should be there to make me pay up, to keep R’s current standard of living and keep the kids in their home. The law should not be on the side of the cad who, say, cheated on them and left for Providence Town and left R with next to no good way to keep up his income. I made promises that led him to be a stay-at-home dad and not pursue a career or higher education. Even if they’d deny ever worrying, I want R and all our family to have the peace of mind to know they had that recourse, if I did go completely insane.

To be honest, that’s unimaginable. Though I’m sure many a guy has said that just before his midlife crisis, I’m more certain than I am the sun will rise tomorrow. Nevertheless, I want them to have the ability to harm me if I don’t follow through, for psychological reasons, if nothing else.

8--Help our friends. We’ve got it good compared to many here in Utah. Some couples have a parent in Iraq with no chance of getting the benefits deserving of military families making such a sacrifice. Some can’t afford the legal counsel to make up the necessary legal documents to get the bare minimum. Some children can’t get health insurance because the marriage law only lets them have one of their parents be a legal parent. Legal marriage may help them more than us, but they are people we love and respect, and I’d considerate help for them something “we get”, in a way.

Well, that’s all I can think of. In 4 big blog posts, all my reasons for giving equal rights to people and couples regardless of the sexual anatomy, and not one counter argument; my reasoning must be unbeatable ;-). Now back to the less political…

Friday, September 22, 2006

What You Get for Marriage Equality, 3 of 3

III. The Miscellaneous and Intangible

1--Give more gays a greater stake in society. Coupling up and making a home is important to most all humans, but, for gays, the natural path to that joy is made complicated, unworkably so for many. Those who have committed marriages and family often put their kids and their caretaker above every other want, above even their self-preservation. They go to work and work hard for their family, even to jobs they can’t stand. Making this basic human need and motivation more difficult for such people, often damages them, and decreases their productivity. Simply, the more difficult it's made for a person to gain a stake in society, the more damage done to society.

2--Stop the whining, and waste. “Pride” events, all those speeches and platitudes on both sides, all the campaign $ spent? What a waste. Wouldn’t it be great to be gay in the same way one is a brunet? How much time have I spent writing on this? But the conflict has to find a conclusion, particularly as the gay baby boom makes it way through the schools. The choice will be to make it a non-issue or a huge issue, as everyone had to deal with their friends or family members who are either gay or with gay couples as parents in their genealogy. Such people won't stop fighting for equal treatment under the law for their families, no human group would. The waste will simply continue until either draconian measures are put in place and there are no more of our families, or equal rights are given. But the non-issue costs less in time, money, and ethics.

3--Uphold our cultural values. It’s very odd to me that one side of this fight will go on and on about morals and moral relativism, while the other seems timid in comparison. The Judeo-Christian values I was raised on and treasure are fuelling both sides of this fight; gays would otherwise be nowhere. There is no steady state with the present popular ethics on this issue. It’s the “no gay relationships” norm vs. the “freedom, justice, equality, empathy, Golden Rule” norms, and they will all fall into a stable order, as other moral quandaries have. No judge or politician can stop it, only slow it. In fact, if the Massachusetts Constitution didn’t have equal rights, regardless of a citizen’s sex, spelled out in it, put there by the people, there would likely be no gay marriage in the US at all. If the any US state wants to demote that ideal for another, make an exception, they can and will by ballot, and there is nothing gays can do to stop them. We are, again, at the feet of the masses, and can only hope and do our best.

Society will simply go as far as it wants, even overboard. It’s hard to predict. Children could be taken from their homes and “reeducated” by the government. Gays could be sought out and jailed. Gays could even be treated as if we had shariah law. Or equal treatment could be given for our families. Who knows? But I don't think the politics can remain static here; something must give. I’m clearly betting, hoping, on one set of morals, and I’m actually quite optimistic. Still, we’ll see.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What You Get for Marriage Equality, 2 of 3

II. Family

1--Protect the extended family. Regardless of how you feel about gays getting married or raising children, you have to remember you’re talking about the lives of many real people, not simply the more easily dehumanized gays. A group that often gets overlooked in this debate are the in-laws and extended family. They all have a stake in a marriage, even for gay couples not raising children.

It does great harm to grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles when a loved one, or child is unilaterally removed from their family upon a split. For gay couples, one set of family is in the same boat as one of the parents, just out of luck, unless there’s a legal adoption (and that hinges on marriage, in Utah). I’d have a hard time believing even the most conservative, LDS, anti-gay rights grandparent would be okay with law making it so simple to lose their grandchildren in such a way.

2--Encourage more extended familial bonds. Traditionally, most gay men have not had nor were encouraged to have long term open relationships, and therefore they were basically an end on the branch of their family tree, the odd uncle. They did not often form familial bonds through their couplings with people not their blood, and their family did not benefit by those bonds. But these connections are very important, and encouraged by marriage.

Too many times to count R and I have helped out the other's family, and done it gladly, and we know they'd be and have been there for us. From his parents to my nieces, we work for one family or another weekly; they have both, after all, become our family. We are both needed, and we join two great families together.

Society should encourage and simplify these bonds for gay couples with equal rights in marriage. Certainly they save the public money, by helping and encouraging people to take care of each other instead of relying on the state, but they also make families on both sides stronger.

3--Get more children out of daycare. I know many don’t agree, but if it’s possible I think it best for children, particularly infants, to be taken care of by the people who love them most and are intimately responsible for them. The present marriage law actively discourages gay couples from doing this. As most law stands now, with gays unable to get on their breadwinner’s health insurance or have claim to their income if something goes wrong, they are extraordinarily encouraged to use day care for their children and both work . Odd how those “pro-family” politics play out.

4--Lessen the frequency of cheating. First, the punishments of divorce and promises of marriage certainly would play into encouraging gay couples to keep from betraying each other, and mitigate all the associated costs.

Second, this is speculative but check out, for example, this study (blogged on here) on the populating having gay sex. In New York, 9% of all self-identified straight men in the study say they’ve had sex with at least one man in the last year. 70% of those men are married. I also dare say most gay men know more than enough sad anecdotes regarding such men (not to mention those in the media). They are certainly putting their families, wives and children, at risk, on top of the betrayal, and no one would want their loved ones to experience such a scenario.

Now, certainly some gay men are making it work with women (I’ve linked to a number of the blogs of these good men), but, when it seems we have so many who can’t do it and are cheating on their wives, that's a problem. Taking away the legal incentive to favor heterosexual relationships for gay men and giving them the legal option of a marriage according to their nature should remove one more coercive force that can lead gay men into making promises to heterosexual women for the wrong reasons, promises they’d not keep. If they want to commit to a straight marriage, they should choose it with as little outside coercion as possible, so it is undoubtedly their marriage (and, again, some do). Otherwise, this can often be very dangerous and tragic for all.

5--Get more children out of state and foster care. From the government’s statistics, here, in 2004, 518,000 children were in foster care, 118,000 of them ended the year in need of adoption. That year, 304,000 entered foster care and 283,000 exited. Of those exiting, 51,000 children were adopted; the rest either became emancipated (many with a history of being passed around foster homes), or went back to their original family (or died). This situation is including the children now adopted into gay and lesbian homes.

There are simply not enough homes for the children needing them; that’s over 100,000 children waiting for a home and family of their own each year and only 50,000 adopted. Stop, try to clear your head of politics, and counter arguments for a moment, and think what that means.

In Utah, gay people can’t be stopped from adopting or becoming foster parents as if they were single. But infertile couples are the most likely to adopt, and gay couples, as opposed to a single gay person, have more time to devote. Like it or not, the qualified gay couple who adopts, particularly older, disabled, or HIV infected children (particularly multiple siblings) is doing the public a service, saving you money, giving the invaluable to a child, and it’s good policy to try to keep that home intact with legal marriage.

It’s also good policy to make sure both people raising the child are legally responsible, currently impossible for most children in families headed by unmarried couples in Utah. Such law isn’t stopping gays from raising children, but it is stopping children from getting health insurance, and many other benefits, and it is keeping parents legally able to abandon their children without consequence. If things go wrong and the remaining legal parent can’t manage, the taxpayer picks up the slack. Thank goodness that’s rare in my experience.

Simply, “pro family” should mean pro family. Encourage strong family bonds, give parentless children loving homes, promote responsibility, and give families the tools to take care of each other. When all that is held back from citizens by our government for the shape of one person’s anatomy, I think it’s clear the government’s priorities are not what they should be, and the PC words of politicians touting “family values” are, sadly, empty.

What You Get for Marriage Equality, 1 of 3

May as well start putting my arguments up for gay and lesbian couples to have equal legal treatment for their unions. I’ll start with what the majority gets.

I. Save Money

1--Get gays off welfare. Right now all US citizens are paying people welfare who live in great comfort. Because, in gay couples, a homemaker is technically an unmarried parent with no income and next to no assets, they can and some do get welfare and special tax breaks. We couldn’t stomach this, but, besides the approximately 5K/year “single mther” welfare, we could even get food stamps and Medicare.

2--Keep gays from taking other advantages in being legally “single”, yet married in all other ways. There are many other things “single” couples can do that married couples can’t. For example, R could rack up all sorts of credit card debt, declare bankruptcy, and make you pay for it, all the while still living comfortably for the rest of his life in our home. He could do it as many times as they’d offer credit. But, if we were legally married, I’d be part responsible too. For another example, I’ve done some business with the state and I’ve been made to grantee the person on the other side of the agreement is not “family”, by blood or legal marriage, for the obvious reasons. But I could just ignore all that and take advantage.

Now, you may say, “But that’s not right!” I’d agree with you, but it is legal and the majority wanted it that way. R and I can’t do such things; both ethically and emotionally we can’t act legally single, even though my state legislators want exactly that. So you all benefit by my recalcitrance ;-), but many gays would rather force the anti-gay politicians to put their money where their mouth is, and they’ll take whatever they can get for being “single”. If you want to blame those gays for acting like something they aren’t, remember also who first forced them, by law, to be treated like something they aren’t.

It’s tough to both push someone outside societal rules and then expect them to play by them nonetheless.

3--Make gays responsible for their obligations. Many homemakers can just be jettisoned from their home with nothing, and often, in Utah, they are their kids only legal parent. While their partner had made promises and in rare cases even signed contracts, they may be found unenforceable without marriage law and the public ends up paying for the newly made welfare mom or dad.

4--Spend less on health care, and lost productivity. Keeping same-sex relationships hidden and shameful significantly contributes to anonymous sex and short-term relationships. It leads to stress, compulsiveness, and drugs; it leads to what most call the “gay lifestyle” in the pejorative sense. If only I obsessed about gay sex half as much as the average closeted guy :-).

Eventually, we all pay for it when people get infected, in the loss of their productivity and health care costs. If you want a healthier society, hold monogamy up in acclaim for gay couples too; encourage them to consider all the friends, blood relatives, and in-laws they’d hurt if they were unfaithful. Encourage them to take on the legal consequences if they cheat. If it’s secret, and outside the realm of US culture, it’s easy to consider little but yourself.

It simply has to be kept in mind that forcing other couples to be legally single, and pay more taxes and health insurance than you doesn’t automatically mean you’re coming out on top. We both pay more in dollars (and I think gay rights opponents pay an intangible price on top of that). There are welfare programs, and divorces without divorce law, and debts, and emergency room visits without insurance, and other societal effects that must be considered. I mean, we could get back in “single mother” welfare near what I spend extra on taxes each year for not having a legal marriage--maybe if I could get incensed enough we would ;-)--but someone would still have to pay for the government bureaucrat shuffling the money around, when it could simply stay in my pocket.

By allowing one person the tools to take care of and be responsible for another, saves us all the cost.

For those who want numbers, these following studies, on both the federal and state level, show the projected savings to the taxpayer (my bold):

---The Potential Budgetary Impact of Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages”, Congressional Budget Office, here.

“On balance, legalization of same-sex marriages would have only a small impact on federal tax revenues, CBO estimates. Revenues would be slightly higher: by less than $400 million a year from 2005 through 2010 and by $500 million to $700 million annually from 2011 through 2014. Those amounts represent less than 0.1 percent of total federal revenues.”

In some cases, recognizing same-sex marriages would increase outlays and revenues; in other cases, it would have the opposite effect. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that on net, those impacts would improve the budget's bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years (CBO's usual estimating period). That result assumes that same-sex marriages are legalized in all 50 states and recognized by the federal government.”

---"Equal Rights, Fiscal Responsibility: The Impact of A.B. 205 on California’s Budget," by M. V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., IGLSS, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, and R. Bradley Sears, J.D., Williams Project, UCLA School of Law, University of California, Los Angeles, May 2003. here

“In conclusion, the positive impacts of AB 205 on means-tested benefit programs and tax revenues from tourism will outweigh a loss in income tax revenues and insignificant costs associated with the State's court system, State employee benefits, and administrative costs. The net impact of AB 205 on California's budget will be a positive impact of $8.1 to $10.6 million each year.

NOTE: this 8 to 10 mil savings for California includes an estimated 3 mil increase in tourism (Got to wonder how much San Francisco made with their noble civil disobedience/lawless publicity stunt?). Still, that strikes me as unreliable and, of course, totally void if many other states start offering the same; I’d subtract it out, 5 to 7 mil then.

---“Supporting Families, Saving Funds: A Fiscal Analysis of New Jersey’s Domestic Partnership Act," by Badgett and Sears with Suzanne Goldberg, J.D., Rutgers School of Law-Newark, December 2003. here.

“The only significant fiscal effects of the DPA will be on 1) expenditures for state public benefits programs, 2) expenditures for state employee benefits and 3) revenues from the transfer inheritance tax. We find that the savings from means-tested benefit programs will far outweigh any increased expenditures for state employee benefits and any loss in inheritance tax revenues. We estimate, conservatively, that the net impact of the DPA on New Jersey's budget will be over $61 million in savings each year.

No tourism in this one that I can see but it was conducted by an economist from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, so extra scrutiny should likely be applied. Not that I’ve found anything wrong with the study or want to tarnish the man’s character, but I know it’s easier to find reliable facts when I don’t care to find particular “facts”.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Some days it’s felt like it’s just R and I against the world (and, when I think of our boys now, I know the world doesn’t stand a chance ;-)). As I don’t exactly fit into the traditional gay culture or LDS culture, it has sometimes felt like I was a man without a culture, and it was only up to us to defend what we feel is important.

This is an old, bad habit of mine; it’s not true. The “gay community” is not what it was when I was a teen; it’s not what it was when we left it. It’s no longer “traditional” and neither is the LDS culture. Everything has changed in the last decade and we’ve changed too.

Last night’s Equality Utah Allies Dinner, was a great example of how much has changed (a small article on it is in the D-News). Near 1000 people filled the Salt Palace Grand Ballroom. There were politicians from the county council, to the school boards, to the legislatures, a record number of endorsements (37) and candidates looking for endorsement (56).

A local politician, a wonderful conservative LDS man, gave a great speech, upon accepting the event’s award. He eloquently explained why he took a stand against our state's anti-gay politics, and why the rights of our families are important to everyone. One odd note: He related his experience being called to task by legislators, after he ran a session teaching gays and lesbians how to become delegates. A nameless legislator had the gall to tell him gays shouldn’t even be voting, let alone delegates (I wonder who that was? ;-)). Simply, this is a man who makes me feel grateful to be a Utahn, and not so bad when I vote republican :-).

Neil Giuliano, the former four-term mayor of Tempe, Arizona, and now the President of GLAAD was the keynote speaker. It was another wonderful and humorous speech regarding the changing public opinion. He made a point of highlighting that is was in the 1970’s when more than 50% of the population began advocating for non-discrimination of gays in the workplace. On equal rights and responsibilities for our families, though, there’s a ways to go.

But with the help of all those good people, it doesn’t seem that long of a ways this morning.

So many great gay folks were there, form our very handsome pediatrician for whom my mom is desperate to find a husband (email her, not me :-)), to our fellow dads, to our great lesbian friends. But we’d get nowhere by ourselves, without our allies, families, and friends. We are just too small a minority and perpetually so. All of us, all GLBT are in great debt to our many straight allies. It takes an all too rare sense of empathy and justice to feel our cause is important to them, and I hope we all feel the need to do the same, in similarly helping others, those not in “our group”.

I tried to thank my parents for coming again last night, and generously donating. They refused to take credit, saying simply it’s what they want to do. The crack in my voice usually conveys what I’m feeling, but I hope they know. I hope they all know.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Couple Odd Studies

Some new relevant research:

Sackoff, J. E., D. B. Hanna, et al. (2006). "Causes of Death among Persons with AIDS in the Era of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy: New York City." Annals of Internal Medicine 145(6): 397-406.

“Non–HIV-related causes of death account for one fourth of all deaths of persons with AIDS.”
Good news there, it seems. But this is the one that struck me as really odd:

Pathela, P., A. Hajat, et al. (2006). "Discordance between Sexual Behavior and Self-Reported Sexual Identity: A Population-Based Survey of New York City Men." Annals of Internal Medicine 145(6): 416-425.

"Of New York City men reporting a sexual identity [gay or straight], 12% reported sex with other men."

"Many New York City men who have sex with men do not identify as gay."
This is from a sample of 4193 men. I wish I had found this while at work, as I won’t be able to see the full text until tomorrow, but a news report on the research, here, says:

“10 percent of men interviewed in New York who identified themselves as heterosexual reported having sex with at least one man during the previous year.”

70 percent of the men [I'd assume of that 10%?] who had sex with other men were married [to women?].”
Wow. Something seems off there, maybe the reporter’s mistake? I’ll have to read the study tomorrow.

Perhaps this just shows how unreliable interviews are, but even if it’s half true… You gays married to women are not that alone.

More data in the comments


We always start out charity walks as a speed governor for the good folks behind us. Eventually, they all trickle around our wagons and strollers until our group is left far behind. About the time we’re unable to see another walker (witness ;-)), the kids have had enough and we cut off the loop in the route to cross the finish a good 10 minuets ahead of the rest. This year’s AIDS walk was no different. Mia culpa.

AIDS may not be a “gay disease,” but it sure does hover about gay culture; it’s certainly on the mind of most gay men.

At one point in my life I was near sure I had contracted it… from a kiss. I was as ignorant and paranoid about the disease as most in my cloistered LDS neighborhood. Embarrassingly, I even went in to get tested.

My sexual history could’ve made a puritan pilgrim look like Caligula, but the nurse kindly explained my ignorance without making me feel it. I took the test anyway, and sat in the waiting room feeling like the most desperate creature on earth (what would I tell my parents?). I felt an enormous relief when I was told the obvious. Mia culpa.

I eventually learned better, found my husband, and I, still a virgin on all accounts, was tested again, this time as more of a gift we gave each other than a real concern. We felt no anxiety when we went in for the results. It was just something we thought (and think) couples should do before physical intimacy.

Another admission, then? Regrettably, my take on AIDS in the gay community took a turn for the worse here. I had my falling out with the old culture over a couple things, one of them being sex. Of course, the man of my above mentioned kiss set the tone, and my anger at him certainly spilled over into the lives of others. But that, of course, was not the only sad example I came across of gay kids, gay men damaging themselves for a reckless and quick bit of sex.

I don’t remember when, but at some point, many years ago, I found I had only a frail sympathy for such men (it “helped” that I knew none as friends). I chose a life that made me far less likely to contract any STD than your average heterosexual. Yet, I was told by vitriolic opponents that I spread diseases and should have a “warning label”. Our family dentist, a seemingly kind LDS man and oblivious to my orientation, told my mom the government should cart gays off “to some island and let them die” (not to mention the typical treatment of doctors). I was told I shouldn’t be a parent because my imagined promiscuity would leave orphans.

Just because one group of men and I had one thing in common, I was judged by their actions, and I felt raw about it. My sympathy could easily snap at one wrong word, at any hint, even imagined, at entitlement to help.

I now certainly regret it.

So many things, so many people came together, just right, to keep me from the common harms experienced by gays. But we do all have that common foe, though one that’s been relatively easy on me. I never, say, lost the love of my family, and watched it turn to cruelty. What it does to a person can make sad mistakes all too understandable.

Anyway, I apologize; I was rightly angry but that anger was misplaced by a good long ways. Today, I am honored to attend the various events with so many determined, kindhearted people and I always feel better off for it.

At the very least, I got to answer “Papa, what’s charity?”, yesterday (after a round of questioning aimed to figure out why we were walking with all these strangers). You never know how much sinks in, but, when I summed up and asked if they understood, our boys gave a convincing “yes”.

I got my money’s worth.

I just hope my (what’s a good euphemism for them both?)… “oversimplification of paths” is forgiven.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Palate Cleanser

As others seem to be doing, I’ll offer up this year’s butter sculpture as a palate cleanser, to get rid of that meaty taste. :-)

Aw, I love the fair; I love bringing the kids to the fair. No. It's not in the “I do so love kitsch; let’s get a garden gnome” sort of way; It's sincere. The fair is, after all, a veritable smorgasbord, isn’t it? (How’s that for a roundabout gay reference?)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What choice did you really have?

L, aka the only guy reading my blog :-), took an active step in hoping to exclude gay and lesbian couples from legal marriage, here. He explained why, and there’s nothing really to be said about the explanation. We went over it already, and it goes nowhere, as the reasons are, by their purposeful construction, unassailable. There’s no proof to be worked out or information to be imparted. He even agrees, and it’s done anyway, a pill irretrievably dissolved into the blood.

I feel sold out, betrayed by that traitorous cad. How dare he?! After all our many years of friendshi…

Oh. Yeah. :-)

Such is the queer world of the internet; you get so much personal information from strangers that it feels personal. It’s also too easy to let an online personality take on the role as spokes person for some group or another. And I have felt betrayed by LDS friends and family at times.

To mind now comes the first friend I ever told I was gay. Sad, I had almost forgotten him. It was a friendship built on a history prior to such things, but we easily stuck together through his adventures with drugs. The only night I ever broke curfew was the night we were up above the capitol, talking through his suicide threat. We clearly had our differences, but he was my friend and, for the greatest part, a good friend.

He eventually got married and moved away. He later came back to visit, now a divorced father, now a faithful LDS. It hit me that I had to know where he stood on my family, an itch I couldn’t ignore. Did he now think it was evil? What would he do to my family if the church told him to? Are we still friends? His silence and evasiveness said a lot. I was braced for him to make some horrible comparison to his drug use, ready to pounce, ready with examples from our history. All I could get out of him was “I’d even socialize with a thief”. But that was enough. That was the end. I knew it the moment he said it, and I think he knew it the moment he saw me register the words. He had new territory (ironically my past territory) giving him a pleasure he’d never found in drugs (though he still oddly used them), and my friendship could not compete.

We ended the conversation friendly and quickly, and he never called me and I never called him again. I suppose I could have maintained the friendship. I was confrontational in pressing him on his faith, and I could have just put up with his political stance, and his magnanimous toleration of prostitutes and tax collectors :-). But I did not; R and I were about to become parents and I was particularly defensive of our home at the time. Still, I do miss him today.

Anyway, what am I left with now? No anger, no betrayal, just trying to solve the same old, centuries-old puzzle. We are at the feet of the masses, greatly outnumbered. They and their politics may as well be inclement weather. To be angry with, to shout at, or to feel betrayed by a storm would be just as reasonable, effective. Each drop of rain and break in the clouds has it’s own set of reasons. And we do too.

For now, we’ll continue reacting to it all as best we can, as a family. I will work to pay over our fair share, for other’s health insurance, for other’s government, and so on. I will try to think of our family as an American family and a Utah family, instead of being outcasts in a stranger’s land. I will make sure our lawyers are up to date on our estate (and well paid :-)), and cross my fingers that I don’t die before taxes would take up what R would need to remain a stay-at-home dad until our twins are grown. If I see death coming, I will die in another state or country, if that’s what’s best for my family. I will keep hopeful that the “single family” zoning law on our current home isn’t enforced and we’re evicted. But if it is, we’ll move. Is it sad? Deserved? Does it matter? We’re really pretty simple in our reactions.

We’ll also brace ourselves for what could come, and try to remain calm, pragmatic, and thankful for what we have. Will they go farther? Will their followers follow if they do? Just how far? Do you know, L?

History is packed with horror stories of good folks doing the atrocious, faith over moral judgment, and we can’t ignore that. A climax is building as more and more gays build homes and become parents. It’s not our kids now, but the LDS leadership has their eye on them. The fact that coordinated threats can come, suddenly and en masse, from one man’s decree is something of which we must be wary. We must keep in mind that in one single Utah legislative session they may go after our parental standing, and we may have to up and move, away from our security and family.

The fact that such harm can come from individuals either filled with hate or just following orders and otherwise on our side... What does that matter? Did it matter to any minority throughout history, in far worse shape than us?

It’s the practical facts of actions that matter; the sort of asphalt on the road to hell is inconsequential. As L wrote, people are responsible for their choices. We will be judged in our afterlife, by God, or our children, or history. I think I’m right; he thinks he's right and we’ll just live our lives and someday the verdict will come in. It's tought for me to swallow, but so what?

For my part, on this blog, I’ll keep pleading our case, appealing, and hoping to be granted the attention of those now on the fence.

What other choice do I really have?

Aw, but I’m off to the fair, at this very moment. I’ll not let it get me down when there’s a butter sculpture begging to be admired.

Still, I’ll hang onto this one overnight, I never regret more than what I write in frustration. Right now I don’t feel it, but have been surprised with what can hide under the surface, in the past.

It’s the morning, I'm fine. See:


For the record, I still can't help but like you L. Darn you all to heck. ;-)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Common Ground

Thinking back as to why I was so struck by the blogs of gay men married to women, I think a large part of it was the bizarro world similarities I kept encountering, despite our significant differences. I almost identify with this group in ways I do not as often with the average gay man.

1. -- We’re both quietly resented by those in the (minority) extreme camps of our own activist groups. The far anti-gay camp sees the orientation alone as a reason to dislike another, or worse. In the other camp, married monogamous gay couples raising children are “mimicking their oppressors”. Why would anyone, particularly gays, ever want to be “tied down”, to be “subservient” and surrendered to their spouse and children? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

2. -- Regardless of #1, we are both used like currency by our respective activist groups. The “ex-gay” advocates put up a happy gay man and his wife of 10 years, and we put up an even happier gay couple and their entire family of 20 years, and on and on goes the gay arms race… I'm not against it, as it serves some of my aims, and I think both sets of “poster boys” can serve people looking for possibilities, but it can feel dehumanizing.

3. -- We are both called selfish for wanting our marriages; us for not wanting the norm and them for wanting it. But are we any more selfish for this than anyone else? We may be directed to our unions by different paths and personal desires and sacrifices, but we both want to commit to, take care of, and be responsible for a person we love and the families we’ve built… selfish.

4. -- We are both told we’re selfish for raising children, “playing dice with their lives” or “conducting a dangerous social experiment”. Sure there are exceptions, but is there any more common an example of selflessness than parenting? Any place in human lives where they’re more typically willing to give everything and expect nothing but the other’s health and happiness? Even when things go wrong, people error, and families fail, are they to say the child should never of had life, or their parents? I have a hard time understanding how a bit of anatomy or a sexual orientation, can so easily blind people to good, healthy, happy families, but even those that don’t run smoothly are precious. Really, if they cared about children they’d be trying to help, instead of insult and undermine their homes with law or encouraging husbands to leave their wives.

5. – We are both told we must be unhappy. For me, this one ironically and generally comes from a culture with double the average use of chemical antidepressants in the nation. It also comes from folks that are the source of all the major hurdles in my life today and most determined to harm what I love (for our own good :-)). So, how to counter the impeccable “stop hitting yourself” line of reasoning? Eh, who cares to, when your far happier than most people you know, and the person using it isn’t actually concerned for your happiness? There’s hardly a way to talk people out of their expertise on our lives, as it’s near a matter of faith for both sides.

6. – The love for our spouses is questioned and disbelieved. We’ve all heard it, too many times. “Gay couples don’t love each other. Instead, they are addicted to sex, to the gay lifestyle. Their sex and intimate relationships are an expression of psychological disease or past traumas. Compensating for failed masculinity? An oppressive mother? Molested as a child? It couldn’t be love!” Essentially “Gays don’t feel like we do for our families”, and how dangerous is that? On the other end, some gays claim gay men can’t ever love a woman. "They’re just caving in to social pressure, creating loveless “marriages of convenience” so they can fit in…" I’d encourage such critics to read their blogs; if their love isn’t apparent in their struggles and determination, we must not agree on what “love” means here.

7. -- I think the greatest similarity I feel with most these gay men married to women is in our role as parents and committed spouses. That’s simply something you can’t explain to someone who isn’t, and particularly to someone who doesn’t care to be. I think many gay men simply don’t understand what fatherhood does to a person. They don’t really understand what motivates me, or these gay men with wives and children (If they only knew how quickly I’d sell out gay causes if they worked against my kids, I’d never be invited anywhere :-)). But it makes perfect sense to me to give up pieces of yourself for them, and be floored if you loose them in the slightest if your orientation can't be ignored. I worry some in the gay community can treat these connections far too callously and casually, just as the anti-gay movement has done to our families and unions for decades. Sad how that happens.

8. -- Others?

Anyway, maybe when our radical activists are at their impasses, we married gay men have the best hope of finding the common ground.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The New World

History, Part 8 of 8

Okay… We eventually decided we should look for an option other than a Utah adoption. While we could do it with only one of us as a legal parent, it seemed and seems we both should be bound to the children we’d be raising, and so we found an option where that would be possible…

From here, I must be discrete for a couple reasons. Yep, I’m chickening out, the local and popular “pro-family” politics meaning the opposite and all. If you want to know how it’s done exactly, there’s a lot of info on the different options on the web.

What can I say, though? I’ll say as much as I can, as I’d hope to do my bit to explain to childless gays what it’s like (not only for their interest in becoming parents, but for their understanding of the gay fathers they might advise to “just leave your wife”). Besides, it is what I like to go on and on about most :-).

From the time we figured out what we were doing, to the birth of our boys, it was just over 2 years. These were two very amazing and trying years. We had setbacks that mark this period near the top in stress and sadness; we leaned each other and they passed. But we also had joys that easily make all stress and sadness seem trivial.

It’s hard to explain, but, before our boys had life by anyone’s definition, we fell in love with them, whoever they would be (or how many :-)). As the process progressed, our lives became more and more about inevitable them. We turned a guest room into a nursery, way too soon. We painted their bookshelves five shades of blue until we thought it was right, and bought the rocking chair that would become our best semi-inanimate friend.

And we waited, and waited, our whole world suspended in anticipation.

Then, finally, one summer’s night came and went, and the next sun I saw might as well have been an entirely new sun, one that had an aspect I’d never known. The whole world, in fact, may as well have been replaced; everything, everyone was changed. We were the parents of two beautiful baby boys, twins.

My world was suddenly their world; what I once owned, I now rented. I had a career I respected, but it became just another thing I do for them, until I can go home to see them. My life was suddenly a cog in their life.

My parents? Now their grandparents. My marriage, our marriage, was suddenly their family, and all those promises we made became promises made to them as well. We named them and they named us. I became “Papa”, and to remember what it was to not be a father became akin to remembering another’s life.

Did I make the point? :-) Everything changed. Years had been building to that moment, meant for that moment, and then it was a quantum leap. I’ve never felt so amazed, surrendered and determined at once, than when I first saw them.

I thought I knew all about love; I thought I knew what my parents felt for me. But I didn’t know a parent’s love, and it knocked us silly.

Much has happened since then. There are about 4 months I don’t quite remember :-). If one of our boys wasn’t up at night, it seemed the other was. We’d walk what seemed to be miles each night through our home. That was the only time in my life I’ve accidentally fallen asleep (sitting in a chair, chatting with guests, no less).

Still, every infant I see even today can’t help but make me think of those sleepless months fondly. I remember watching them kick and babble, and being brought to tears with their beauty, with what they meant, with how powerless and strong they made me at once. I remember breathing in time with them, as I’d lay blissfully trapped, as they’d nap on my chest. It was a wonderful, if not dream-like period.

The years since have flown by too fast. Each phase of their childhood seems to pass before I can grasp it fully. But the joys are replaced with joys. Their first smile, their first words (I’m Pop or Papa, but it was “Dad” for both of them, Grrr). They learned to walk, talk, count, share, and so on. We learned right along with them.

Today, they are becoming my little kids. They aren’t babies anymore, and they’re leaving toddlerhood behind. I can now see hints of the men they’ll be on their innocent little faces; it’s wonderful and scary to think of how quickly they’re growing. They’re already planning their careers, “lumber jack” and “mailman or scientist” :-). It seems to me they couldn’t have more different personalities, but that too is a treat.

We’re teaching them how to read now, do simple math, and I’m answering innumerable “why” questions, some of which go far beyond my scientific knowledge and/or my philosophical expertise (I do my best, though :-)). They love swimming, and playing in our yard; they love their dog, their friends and family, and, now, their school. They very much love their grandparent, and they are very happy grandparents at that (I think they’d written us off as a source for grandkids :-)). I know I’ve gotten off on my favorite tangent here and a bit too emotional, but, simply, our boys are our two greatest joys, motivators, and responsibilities.

One last thing here. My R, Dad, stays home with them, and I couldn’t be more grateful for what he does for us all. In just this week I’ve come home to homemade peach pie, chili sauce, raspberry jam, “twinkies”, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. He keeps our home cozy, clean, and welcoming, and takes our boys on all sorts of excursions (And my doctor wants to know how I know he’s faithful?! He hasn’t the time :-), let alone character). I take care of them in the mornings, letting him sleep in, and I’m the main play toy at night, but he’s there with them near all the time. I am eternally grateful (and jealous :-)).

Friday, September 08, 2006


History, Part 7 of 8

Another break. Some things just demand reverence and caution, but I’ll get to it.

Anyway, a quick anecdote on the way:

While we were working at becoming parents, we decided we wanted to be as ready as possible when the time came. We read all the typical books (and all the research we could find on our family type), but the most helpful thing we did was take care of our friend’s baby during the day. R quit his job and became a full time baby sitter, and, at the time, I was working out of the home most of the day.

We learned how to change diapers (how not to change diapers), how to get him down for a nap, how to make a baby laugh, all the jobs and tricks. After a couple months we felt like pros.

It was about then when a close friend of mine and his wife came into town, showing some friends of theirs from France around the US. These Frenchmen were a bit surprised a home like ours existed in Utah, and asked about “our baby”. I told them no, we weren’t parents yet, but in jest I told them that he was, instead, our practice baby.

After lunch they all headed off to Arches. As they drove away they were conversing in French, seemingly debating, and finally, switching back to English, one asked my friend, “Must all Americans have a practice baby, or only gay Americans?”

Not a bad idea, eh? We could all use a little practice, some of us more than others ;-).

But I am left wondering on the particulars of the government program these Frenchmen had envisioned, a program handing out “practice babies” to expectant couples. Where do practice babies come from? Where do they go, once the to-be parents are “trained” to the point of being entrusted with a “real” baby?

The French must have an odd view of the US :-).

Heading Home

History, Part 6 of 8

We had both always wanted to be fathers. I think we both actually always knew we would be, but for the first half of our union, all that seemed impossible.

We were living in California, and assumed we would never return to “backwards”, “repressive” Utah. This was a very odd, somewhat difficult, though important time in our lives. We were away from the familiar, and away from family. I was stressed with graduate school and he with work, but it was during this time we really refined our marriage. Also, during this time I’d go months without ever realizing we were “gay” (the sort with social consequences :-)), such was the climate where we lived.

I had just finished up a MS, and was thinking of going on with a PhD there. But, at some point, we looked up and saw what was once hard to imagine had become commonplace--gay couples were raising children everywhere. The scales were tipped. A severe case of nesting hit us both, realizing a destiny implied to be near impossible was always there, waiting for us to be ready.

And we were urgently ready.

Suddenly, our great place in California, 10 minuets from the beach, didn’t look so hot. We knew we’d want our family around, want our children to grow up with their grandparents and their 35 cousins (We are from LDS families :-)).

Suddenly Utah wasn’t “backwards”, it was the place holding all our fond memories of childhood. Utah seemed family friendly again (and, despite the politics, Utahns are largely so, even towards our family). It’s where we knew we should raise our children, and in a matter of weeks we sold our house and headed home.

But it turned out we jumped the gun. We moved back too soon. We were “gay” again, reminded repeatedly by the local politics that we were less than them. Gay rights became far more important, and I regret we had neglected it for years.

We first planed to adopt. But we got to Utah just after a law passed making it impossible for “unmarried” (gay) couples in Utah to do just that. There are so many children in need of homes that they could not stop single people from adopting, and the law stops no single gay man or woman from adopting and many do.

It does keep many Utah children from having two legally responsible parents. It does make it so they can’t get on one of their parent’s health insurance or a claim to other legal benefits, from Social Security to military benefits. It does allow one parent to just up and leave, devastating the child, but with no legal consequence, no child support, despite their promises or their actual role in the child’s life.

That’s the majority of the Utah legislature for ya. They are so worried about “the children” (an imaginary world ideal of theirs) that they’re willing to attack the legal abilities of real children and families. They work tirelessly to keep gays as irresponsible as possible, and keep our children’s homes at a disadvantage (it makes sense to them). At least some irony can be found in the fact that they aren’t near successful, Utah being in the top 3 of US states in the percentage of gay headed homes that are also raising children.

Okay, that was an angry tangent, fueled by the difficulties I see in the many families we know. Clearly Utah, while “we love thee” for many reasons, we still have our arguments :-). Take 5…

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Public Vows

History, Part 5 of 8

I’ve decided to get on to the point of my history and be done with it, but can’t skip this step:

After over a year of being together, we began “shacking up”. At the time, I’d never really heard of gay men having any sort of public commitment ceremony, but I still wish we had waited until after getting hitched. Regardless, we already had eloped, in our own way. We made those promises, already were committed to each other and no one else, and we couldn’t wait for something we didn’t expect (practicing my excuses for when I explain to my boys why they should wait :-)).

I believe it was one of my friends who brought it up first, asking us when we’d get married; then soon after most everyone was asking (something in the news?). At first I wondered why it’d even get mentioned, if it wasn’t legally binding? Now, that seems dense. It’s easy to think a marriage is mainly about two people, but the families have a big stake in keeping unions intact, and making these promises in public, even without law, goes a long way to comfort them, and solidify the bonds.

I certainly wasn’t against it, but I wasn’t sure it was needed either. One of the blessings (and curses) of being gay in Utah then was that you were a bit of an outsider to your culture. We weren’t pressured by our society into following many norms once we broke the no-gay norm (family, is a different story…), and we could regard the reasons for them through eyes regular folks could not, and more flexibly decide if they were for us. I think this helped make values like monogamy, mutual sacrifice, and so on more our cherished values, what we chose, because we found the value in them; it wasn't simply assumed into us. So we got to (had to) work out the reasons for public ceremony.

Could it be too offensive to some of our family? We know where we stand, and so why a ceremony? Do we really want to spend all that money? (No bride, so who pays? We do :-).)

Around this time I had the most vivid and life-clarifying dream I’ve ever had. It was a simple dream. I found myself years in the future, and R and I had split up (just one of those facts in a dream you know without knowing why). I'd found another partner, and we were entering a restaurant. There, seated and eating, was R with another guy.

I said hi, we exchanged small talk, laughed, I shook his date’s hand, and my partner and I sat down to eat. That was it, and there was nothing. No emotion between R and I. I felt nothing for him; I “loved” my new partner. R was just some guy I once dated, and we both were in love with and happy with someone else. Funny how dreams can make you feel what you’d never feel, and yet teach you a lesson about yourself.

There was no emotion in that dream, save for the knowledge that we were both happy and in love with another, but that’s exactly what made it a nightmare. I woke my self up sobbing; a hysterical mess over loosing him, loosing his family, my family’s lose of him, and so on. That’s been the only time a dream has ever affected me like that, and seemed so real. Once I got my bearings, I was immensely thankful to find R next to me, and I grabbed him and held him tight, probably too tight. He just had to put up with being horribly confused until I composed myself.

We’d been passively planning our ceremony, but that’s when I really knew it was the right thing, for us. I’d rather be tied to him, happy or miserable or indifferent, than happy with someone else, and private promises just would not do, too easily annulled. Furthermore, it was clear that, while our relationship was great, its foundation was not as broad and robust as possible, not enough for family (his, mine, or, eventually, ours).

So we decided to tie the knot.

The invitations went out. We sent them only to those we thought would come, and those we felt obligated to at least inform, hoping not to offend anyone needlessly (After the wedding I got a stern talking to from some of the more conservative relatives we’d left out, assuming they’d be offended at the invitation alone; “too pessimistic” is the story of my being gay :-)).

The morning of the ceremony we had a breakfast at the local club where I grew up swimming and playing golf (certainly a first for them). It was with all our close family and fiends. I think I cried through most of it, as I went around the tables thanking everyone for being there for us that day and all the many days past.

That evening we had the ceremony at my parent’s home (still wanted to save some money ;-)). To our surprise, we only had a couple no-shows. The house and yard were packed, and it meant so very much. So many great people: my amazing parents; my buddies from my youth; my grandfather, the man who baptized me; my soon-to-be in-laws; too many wonderful people to list. I knew I’d been greatly blessed, and seeing them there emphasized the weight of what we were about to do.

It then came time and we stood up in front of our minister, with everyone gathered around. The minister spoke just long enough to quell the nerves, as we stood anxious across from each other; it almost felt like I was seeing him again for the first time. We began by making all those many critical promises, our voices hardly clear under the emotion. I gave him my ring, and he gave me his, so in whatever choices we make, the other is right there, always considered. We were then finally given the okay to pull each other close, and we were joined in a way in which we’d never been before. I couldn’t have anticipated how important that act turned out to be, as our relationship was new again, larger and stronger in just one day.

Secondarily but important also, our family and friends were there, and heard every word of what we promised. They saw our faces; that we meant it, for better or worse, and they could now hold us to it. They could and can count on us.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


That’s me, there. I simply had to copy my CT scans before I dropped them off at my Internist’s. I hope no one is offended by such a revealing photo. How about that kidney, huh? Yeah, I’m quite attractive.

Now, nothing has been found wrong with me, I just have an odd new pain in my torso that’s likely nothing. Still, I can’t take a chance with our children.

So, I enter the hospital and am given the typical set of forms. The front page has the familiar options of “Married”, or “Single”. It kills me to check “Single”; I will not. Then again, I’m not legally married in the state of Utah. How important is it to gleam what exactly the hospital means and answer honestly, here? I leave it blank.

I’m called in and the doctor begins his examination. He notices the omission and asks about it. I tell him I am married, not legally here, but have been for over a decade.

“You are gay?”

I answer yes.

Then it starts, as it always does.

“When was the last time you were tested for HIV?” “Your symptoms could be caused by Hepatitis.” And something like “How many people have you had sex with in the past year?”

I immediately regret “coming out”. If I didn’t feel so much like I was betraying my home, I’d have lied. I used to do just that, but, once our boys were born, never again.

I explain that we’ve been together 14 years, neither of us have been with anyone else, ever, and we’ve never had the sort of sex people typically assume into the lives of homosexual men. But it doesn’t end.

“How do you know your lover is being faithful? You really can’t know where he is all the time.” he quickly counters.

Lover?! I wanted to get dressed and leave--in any other circumstance them’s fight’n words--but I calm down. “He’s just trying to do what’s best for me, to get to the bottom of this. It took me weeks to get this appointment” I think.

Just as I’m explaining how I know my husband isn’t sleeping around, he senses my aggravation. “I don’t mean to offend you, but I have to ask”, he says. No, I know he doesn’t mean to offend, and I tell him as much, and assure him it’s okay, but does he “have to ask” this of everyone?

Finally, he backs off all the STD tests, resolving to only look for Hepatitis. Could get that anywhere after all, right? Fine, but, nothing, of course, was found. He finally ended this bedside manner with a “Where did you get your children?”

I was glad to get back to work.

I don’t mind the needles, the scans, the waiting rooms (when else is there time for Sudoku?), but I rarely feel more treated “gay”, in the pejorative sense, than when I visit a doctor. Still, in the end, I don’t really feel any hard feeling towards the guy for his assumptions; he was in the wrong but it seems too understandable.

I have to worry, though, if that doesn’t say something about me, about my remaining biases against gays. I know I, at the very least, caved under the weight of authority, wanting to avoid criticizing his manner in favor of him finding out what was wrong with me.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ron Schow

For those interested, Professor Ron Schow had an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune today reacting to the recent article on “mixed” marriages (A term that continually strikes me as wrong, as they are actually the rare marriages in which the two people don’t have different sexual orientations). It may be found here.

Really, it struck me as kind of plain. Of course the marriages are more likely to fail if you’re higher on the Kinsey Scale, more sexually driven, and more repelled by the opposite sex. Bisexuals aren’t homosexuals, and so on…

But he did referred to “The Persistence of Same Sex Attraction in Latter-day Saints Who Undergo Counseling or Change Therapy”, here, at

There’s a couple posts that could be created from that site. Some other time... But is there any really good research on this topic? Anything not totally reliant on questionnaires, and/or sampling compromises? If not, all you have to do is send me a generous check, and, once the funds are in place, I’ll get right on it :-).

Friday, September 01, 2006

The In-Laws

My in-laws are staying with us again (“In-law”, the best word to convey the right idea, is literally wrong here in Utah :-)). But, contrary to what sit-coms have taught me to expect, I actually look forward to their visits. We all love them dearly, and they are wonderful grandparents.

Things weren’t always so clear, though. I remember standing next to my husband, when he was only my boyfriend, as he wrote the letter to them coming out. I was there when they made the unbearably brief call a couple days later, saying only they’d need some time before they could talk to him again. I waited with him, and did my best to consol him, and felt anger towards them without knowing them or what difficulties they were going though. I was elated when they finally called, and frightened when we learned they’d have us over for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving! Not only without my family, but with big scary them! In Provo! My father in-law was a Bishop and I didn’t know what to expect. Would we be drugged with tainted funeral potatoes and carted away to some shock therapy facility deep beneath BYU?

I made clear their address to my parents… Just in case. :-)

We entered their home braced for anything. But I had nothing to fear (dare I make an unfair mother in-law cooking joke here? Best not :-)). Anyway, we all miraculously survived Thanksgiving, and I can say never once have they treated me with anything but kindness. I hope they feel the same.

Over the years, we’ve grown much closer. They even came to our marriage, over ten years ago. We did not make a deal of them coming and certainly did not ask them to play a part that could be construed as “condoning”. Nonetheless, they came, though in looking at the photos, it’s clear they were more stoic than joyful. My parents were jubilant on that day, and I’m grateful they were, but it meant something extra to us that my in-laws even came.

Over the years since it had been painful to think of how they may regard our home. An abomination they merely tolerated with pleasantries? Something God would someday tear apart? It seemed best not to ask.

Then one day a couple years ago, we were talking to a friend while my father in-law was visiting and curiosity got the better of him. He asked outright how he felt about our family.

My father-in-law replied, “All anyone needs to know is: This is my son, and I love him. This is my son in-law, and I love him. And these are my grandkids, and I love them.”

I had to compose myself; remembering it still gets to me. That, of course, gives little theological explanation, but who cares? We couldn’t ask for more.

Then last month they were in a terrible vehicle accident. We rushed to their hospital in Idaho Falls to find they were, thank God, alive, but in terrible shape. They needed to be cared for and came home with us.

They were immobile for about 2 weeks and in that time the missionaries came by. I actually was hoping they would, as I knew we were going to ask to get the sacrament brought to our home on Sunday, and had no idea how. Unfortunately though, they stayed a little too long and said some things that upset R (I think I’ll just refer to my significant other as “R”, for now).

After they left, R told his mom it hurt him to have them in the home, his sanctuary, when the “Proclamation on the Family” pointedly leaves his family out, and with all the political attempts the LDS church has made to harm us legally. You debase and undermine another’s family and such resentment is inevitable.

But she explained she had never thought of it that way. She told him she never had because she knew our family was wonderful and meant to be. She told him that she didn’t know how in the afterlife it would work out, or how the apparent contradiction would be solved, but she knew it would be for our family.

When I got home I was first a bit upset. I suggested we should instead keep our emotions regarding the LDS church’s actions to ourselves when his parents are here. I felt bad that she, being a guest and in her condition, was put on the spot, and I don’t want to ruin a good thing. But, in the end, I was wrong. Just letting things go ignored keeps them from growing and allows for assumptions that may be far too pessimistic. That talk clearly brought her closer to her son, and all of us closer to these wonderful grandparents.

Are they compromising their LDS faith? Would they be chastised by the LDS leadership, if they found out they, in fact, stay at their gay son's home, treat his partner as family, and treat our children as they would any other grandchildren? Maybe, but I, for one, am more than happy they are able to keep their faith and us in their lives too, however they justify it.

Er, I was going to end with a joke complaint about them, but I honestly can't think of one. :-)