Thursday, August 28, 2008

Different Century, Same Tools

I was up at the library looking for editorials on race and came across a 1954 speech given at BYU by Mark Edward Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church. I found an online copy, here. I recommend those interested in the LDS leadership's thinking on gay civil rights issues take a look. The reasoning used today, if not the category by which discrimination is made, is strikingly familiar and telling.

To warn his audience, Elder Peterson starts out by quoting a black politician who indicates that there should be no law against interracial marriage, and even states they're prevalent in... any guesses?

That's right. Europe, a region, according to the last LDS press release supporting Prop 8, now being troubled by the anti-family effects of gay marriage (pff, as if).

After he's done with the quote he goes on:
I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the oppor[t]unity of sitting down in a cafe where white people sit. He isn't just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. From this and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that, we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that they used to say about sin, "First we pity, then endure, then embrace."
Isn't it striking how the issues change, doctrine changes, but 50 years later the tools of justification remain the same? Today, gay people don't want equal rights; they want special rights, and they want to marry right along with us and for us to embrace them and their sin. By tolerance and love they mean for us to embrace sin.

You can see the modern conservative LDS reaction to people like Carol Lynn Pearson at the end there. It takes such tactics to get people to excuse away the Golden Rule, harden their hearts, and do wrong to their neighbors--family even--against their conscience. Every abrahamic faith doing harm, from the inquisitions to modern killings of gays by Islamic governments, has ironically used something like Isa 5:20 to justify their cruelty, and we see such used here to justify racial segregation and anti-miscegenation ideas.

The same old message is that you can hurt those others, and their families; it's okay, good even. God approves. Elder Petersen even goes on to say it's for the children, as they do today with gay marriage. Oppose marriage for the children cursed, literally in this case, by living under their parent's union.

Elder Petersen then talks about the Chinese and how good they are for not wanting to marry white people, unlike black people. A similar tactic is used when people argue it's okay to hurt gay and lesbian headed families because they've convinced some LDS gays to be celibate or single. Why can't you be good, like them? Like the Chinese, they obey supernatural law, and that means you should too.

In this speech we, of course, see a lot of declarations about how the supernatural works, the plan of salvation, and the use of eternity to justify injustice. God segregated the races and His law "is eternal" and He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" and He is "fair to all" and "will meet us according to what we deserve". Familiar, right? Just do what we men teach you; it's the only right way; it'll work out.

Elder Petersen quotes Joseph Smith to prove some races, like those coming from Africa, were sinners in the preexistence (we know this because we treated them as slaves) and thus our cruelty and laws of segregation are justified. God made people with certain attributes, based on the indelible quality of their spirit, and placed those spirits in certain races (or sexes), justifying our poor treatment of those who'd violate His segregation in interracial union (or not violate his segregation in same-sex unions).

The best thing about claiming and believing you have evidence from the supernatural or know what God really means has to be that you can justify about anything with magical thinking. Some people, including yours truly, can trigger that special spiritual feeling for just about anything in the freedom of their own mind. You can pose laws and use complicated worldviews that rival any book by Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. Black people can be segregated because of some great ethereal war, spirits are either boys or girls, and Xenu killed a bunch of people in a volcano making some feel depressed and others feel same-sex attraction (if you're a Scientologist :-)). Opponents who value skepticism and evidence are powerless against your authority and faith. How frustrating it must have been to be a black man in Utah back then.

Elder Petersen even goes on to say black people should be grateful and thankful. "In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life" God still lets the black man have some chance, even though they are "cursed as to the priesthood". "He will go there as a servant, but he will get a Celestial resurrection".

Similarly, gay men should feel grateful, not sad or upset with church leaders. Gays are bound by the same rules as everyone else. Black men are too and are facing the consequences for their pre-existent sins in Petersen's day, sins for which white men would be equally punished. Gay men can have a celibate life, and get their reward by marrying a girl with whom they'll have that sort of purposeful intimacy afforded by orientation, later, in heaven. Be grateful for what the leaders offers you in this life, and for what they promise in eternity. And, really, who can beat eternity? It's the infinite trump card and there's no doubt why most every faith picks it up and promotes it, and why most every skeptic of most every faiths is at a disadvantage for their epistemological restraint.

To top it off Elder Petersen uses the old "some of my best friends" tactic. He isn't hateful to black people; he feels love for them; he feels good about how he treats them and that matters (if only to him). He would even "be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it", just as you'll hear some express their generosity for letting gays even have freedom from incarceration, or capitol punishment (I last heard that one from a local LDS radio host). We should be grateful for such love, right? Elder Petersen even has a black friend, brother Hope. Just like LDS author, Orson Scott Card, who, because he works in the arts (of course...), has a lot of gay friends, friends he regards as defective and fights to keep their families from equal rights.

I'm sure, though, Elder Petersen may have had such a friend, and maybe Mr. Card does too. I'm sure some black friends back then meekly forgave such men; they, after all, had faith they and others like them deserved it. Personally I'd not choose even "to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car" with such a friend, but to each his own.

He Concludes:
Now what is our policy in regard to intermarriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro.
On the upside, magical thinking is not based in the stark facts of an outside world; only the mind needs be changed. Nevertheless, a supernatural worldview does best when it feels like an assuring, comforting, and immovable foundation, and so they are notoriously difficult to change on a scale smaller than a generation. But it doesn't have to actually be immovable. In fact, it can't be immovable or the worldview will fade away with all the thousands of other dead faiths of human history, as the LDS faith would likely have if it did not change with regards to race (or maybe even polygamy). They can change by generations and do; adherents will forgive and membership will grow.

Today, it seems the LDS church only advises against interracial marriage, here:
“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred)...”
(Though, "some of those are not an absolute necessity"? If only some aren't then which ones are necessity? Is there still an "absolute necessity" to keep from marrying some races, as Petersen claims, or is it class?)

But now look at how long that change from absolutely against to advising against and granting the priesthood took on race, and then consider how quickly the LDS church is moving on same-sex marriage in comparison. Just 4 years ago they were against any legal recognition of same-sex unions. Today they are still against "marriage" but now "The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights..." That's not yet equal rights for our families, but I couldn't have imagined the LDS church of my youth ever taking such a liberal stance on gay rights and so quickly.

Still, sure, there's a good ways to go and a lot in the way. I've mixed feelings to find the same tools repeatedly used to block that path to equal rights. It's annoying that such tactics still live on to have any effectiveness in the hearts and minds of people today, but, to the credit of the LDS people, it's comforting to know such tools have eventually failed, as they should.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Catholic Charities of Boston Case

One argument the LDS church used in its last news release regarding it's opposition to marriage for gay couples was that:

The prospect of same-sex marriage has already spawned legal collisions with the rights of free speech and of action based on religious beliefs. For example, advocates and government officials in certain states already are challenging the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs and only place children in homes with both a mother and a father. As a result, Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped offering adoption services.
So I took some time to look into the facts of this case, as, apparently, the author of this press release should have.

Catholic Charities of Boston (CCB) was established over a century ago to take care of "poor Catholic children" and to assure orphaned Catholic children were not placed in protestant homes (1). For about two decades, though, CCB had been placing children with same-sex couples (2, 3), which means they were doing so even before the Ma anti-discrimination law included sexual orientation, and well before there was gay marriage in Massachusetts. Of the minority placed "The children placed with the gay couples [were] among those most difficult to place, either because they have physical or emotional problems or they are older". The Catholic Church claims it was made aware of this decades old fact by a Boston Globe article in 2005, which made this practice public (3).

Without any government official taking action to shut them down, the church leadership decided to halt finalizing all adoptions in Boston. They could have continued their adoption work while attempting to clear up the non-discrimination law in the courts, but they chose to shut themselves down. They did this even though Catholic Charities in a couple other areas of Massachusetts were (and by all accounts I've found are still) operating while refusing to adopt to same-sex couples, and after being told by the state's legal representative "We're going to wait and see how the legislation plays out".

At this decision by the Bishops, 8 board members of CCB resigned in protest of the church's move, not the state's. Furthermore, the board had voted unanimously to continue offering such adoptions "saying many gays and lesbians have proven to be exemplary parents who took in some of the toughest foster children" (4). Now, ironically, many, including the LDS church, are using the Catholic church's actions here to claim they were "forced" to make such a move when it did, and using this sad event as an effective tool of propaganda against marriage equality, as though this whole event was a PR stunt.

Marriage equality opponents tend to make two main claims with this event.

The first is that religious freedom was compromised by gay marriage. In fact, Massachusetts' non-discrimination law was the law in question here and the church doctrine was not even asked by the state to be changed, let alone insisted upon. To say this is a case about gay marriage is misleading, and to say this is a case about religious freedom would be akin to claiming, for example, Scientologists have the right to promote their faith in state funded drug rehab programs.

Simply, where the state is involved it cannot act favoring any particular faith's doctrine over equal treatment and rights of its citizens, both the prospective parents and adoptive children in need of homes in this case. If the Catholic church cannot work with the state because of such state responsibilities, they can always keep their doctrine and others will work with the state. For example, the Lutheran Social Service spokes person in Boston commented on their continued desire to aid in adoptions, saying "We're one social service agency, not one church body. We know our parent bodies have firm positions not to ordain practicing gay persons, but on this issue, that's got nothing to do with the welfare of children" (1) .

The second claim is typically that, even if the Church was wrong, this event still harmed Boston children as a side effect and therefore gay marriage should not be allowed. First and again, this was the result of anti-discrimination law, not marriage. Next, disallowing gay couples to adopt harms children by only allowing them to have one legal parent when being raised by gay couples. Also, CCB did not end all of its adoption services (see here), only those in need of a state contract. CCB still assists in adoptions, all those Catholics interested in adoption may do so through the state, or organizations such as the Lutherans that do not violate non-discrimination laws, against gays or Catholics. There is clearly more harm to children done when adoptions are conducted without their best interest primary in the mind.

Lastly, no harm is seen in the available data. We only have half a year's worth of adoption data after CCB stopped finalizing adoptions, but from 2005 to 2006 the number of adoptions increased from 833 to 858. Furthermore, the average time between termination of parental rights and finalization of an adoption decreased from 15.34 to 15.16 months. There were more adoptions and they were processed more quickly in the year during half of which CCB stopped some of their adoption work (5).

Forgetting marriage and regarding the non-discrimination law and adoption alone, though, the state has a solemn responsibility to children without parents in its care to find the best home available as quickly as possible. As the state cannot rely on, say, a particular Muslim faith that gay parents (or even Jewish parents) are evil, or an Episcopal faith that such parents are fine in the eyes of God, the state must use research and the opinions of professionals. Research on families headed by same-sex couples has shown over and over again that there is no significant deficit found in these children (Related isocrat.org article). Regardless of how anyone feels about them, and given the fact that willing and qualified adoptive parents are always in need, sometimes the objectively best option for a child will be a same-sex couple, over a single person, gay or straight, or even over some heterosexual couples. The state would be ignoring its responsibility to these children to delay their journey to a loving home and to discriminate for a prospective parent's sex.

Besides all that, isn't it clear a church's threat to stop helping children if they cannot keep on discriminating, to be blunt, ethically problematic from the start?

1. Paulson, M.. Church's rift with Beacon Hill grows. www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/03/11/churchs_rift_with_beacon_hill_grows/. (2006).

2. Wen, P.. Bishops to oppose adoption by gays, Exemption bid seen from antibias laws.http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/02/16/bishops_to_oppose_adoption_by_gays/. (2006).

3. Pink News. State allows gay adoption discrimination. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-1166.html. (2006).

4. Wen, P.. Bishops' gay ban may cost millions, Private donors wary of adoption policy .http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/03/05/bishops_gay_ban_may_cost_millions/. (2006).

5. US Federal Goverment. FedStats. http://www.fedstats.gov/.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paper

We, just yesterday, received our certificate of marriage in the mail from the state of California.

Now we have three such certificates (or four depending upon how you count them), and, while I do enjoy weddings, I hope this will be the end of our collection.

The first one is our certificate of Holy Union from the Unitarian church that conducted our wedding. It's not nearly a legal document. It's smaller than the rest, and a bit sun bleached. Nevertheless, it's the one I'd grab if the house was on fire (and the kids, Rob, and my hard drive with all our photographs on it were already safe... and the dog too).

After that there's the License and Certificate of Marriage from the city and country of San Francisco. In this one, the printing goes off into the embossed border. In the Mayor of San Francisco's haste of political disobedience in the service of justice (or socially eroding act of anarchy, depending on your politics) they were printing the official certificates on the spot, as there was the feeling they would be shut down at any moment. I like this one for the memories of the time more than it's effect; I knew it had a good chance of not lasting in legality. We left the boys with their grandparents and that ended up being one romantic day-long date, before we hurried home.

Now we have this new 8.5 X 11 piece of paper, a Certificate of Marriage from the country of San Diego. It's printed correctly, and it's legal. Our names are there, along with our parent's names and it's signed by the county clerk. With it, we could move to California again, and have our family treated justly, as family. Rob could get on my health insurance. We could stop shuttling money in the small legal increments between us so as to eventually get our boys the same inheritance rights other kids would get. We could live without legal threat in our home zoned for "single families". All this could be fixed (with regard to state law, if not federal), if only we left Utah... and our extended family and all the familiarity and what we love about this state. That's what this paper represents, and I guess it's a bit bitter sweet now that I'm thinking on it. It's far more sweet than bitter though; it's far more of an option than we had and one we could use in a prolonged medical emergency. We just have to do all we can to keep Proposition 8 from annulling us again.

It's funny how that series of letters, "Marriage", that appears only once in this document, causes so many people such grief and righteous indignation. By most all evidence, the weather of vocabulary has already pushed the front lines here well past those aiming to demean same-sex unions. Most Americans know familial sacrifice, dedication, mutual care and love define the best aspects meant in the syllables of "marriage". The rest of the fighting is merely insults about who's ideal, and who's children deserve different parents, and whose God disapproves of whose family. They're seemingly entrenched to keep same-sex couples from reaching the actuality of the word, not to keep a word from changing meaning, as all words do and with no conscious control.

It's funny also how bureaucratically important these little flammable records of the inflammable bonds of family are. Something could even happen to Rob or me, but the past is still the past, and a union of human souls and human families is still a union. It's one of the most indelible and echoing connections engraved in that metal of the past. Still, I suppose the government needs their papers and the people their politics.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Clone Wars

Last night Alan and I went to the animated Star Wars movie, The Clone Wars.

Err, boy was that bad. How bad? How can I express this?... Here is a list of five other Star Wars related activities I'd rather have done.

1. Sit through a one man production of Hamlet performed by Jar Jar Binks.

2. Moderate a panel discussion on the Han shot first debate, and its sociological implications.

3. Eat a wamp rat, and they're about 2 meters long, I hear.

4. Sit through a one man production of Hamlet performed by Hayden Christensen.

5. View Sand People pornography.

It was bad.

Brian was wise enough to decide to stay home with his dad, because he said he had read "it has bad reviews". Alan and I should have listened.

Oh, and spoiler alert, as if anyone could harm the plot:

What's worse is that one of the villains, Zero the Hut, was such an over the top gay stereotype: a huge lisping queer slug, tattooed and be-feathered. Following the archetype used in the Lion King, he was the gay uncle out to kill his nephew for political power. Really, in all of the Star Wars univierse, the gay character has to be a Hut? I think I'll work out today.

Anyway, parents beware.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Moabite Wedding

Yet again, we just got back, this time from Moab. Seems we're spending most of this month out of town. We had Rob's cousin's wedding to attend. Like our Helper trip, this was with the side of Rob's family this time that are mostly Gentiles. That, I suppose, should go without saying, as we were invited to the wedding :-) and not just the reception, which is, for those unfamiliar with my cultur's ways, what happens if you're a non-LDS family member and it's a LDS wedding.

We got there a day early so that we could hike a bit and play before insisting the boys keep their dress clothes clean.Those pictures were taken in Moab's Millcreek canyon. When we're there in the heat of summer it's one of our favorite hikes, one I'd recommend. We just park the car and walk up the cool stream instead of a trail.

At the rehearsal dinner Brian battled his cousin, Darth Vader. See, I told you they're heathens like us.
For the wedding Rob, once again, helped with the flowers. Poor guy, he's now got a reputation for being good at it in both families and so upholds another stereotype. But I don't care; at weddings I'm one of the first to get watery in the eyes... for the allergies, you know.

I do love a wedding. The whole idea behind public vows and watching them take hold in front of friends and family, young and old chokes me up and easily. I appreciate every chance we get to take our boys to them. Much, in fact, of the next generation in my family are now getting married, and we go to a reception about once a month it seems. I only wish my family could be invited to more of the weddings.

Still, as I was reminded with our Helper trip, we are rich in family of all sorts, even with the faith-based divisions. It's just been nice to spend the last couple weekends after our legal marriage with family who greeted the news with jubilant congratulations instead of a thought of how to possibly change the conversation before it got to Proposition 8 :-).

We'll be spending next weekend with that less jubilant part of the family, but, really, I'm looking forward to it and am more concerned about school starting for the boys soon. First Grade! I can't imagine where the time since their birth has gone so quickly.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Note to the Utah Pride Center

(EDIT: I feel now I was quite wrong with my first impressions in this post; this incident may have been a genuine anti-gay hate crime. Thanks to those of you who've shown me the other side of the story presented in the Tribune. I apologize for jumping to conclusions.)

I'm out of town so this will be quick, but I just read this story in the trib, here.

A man (who happens to be gay) is accused of a kidnapping. Read the story for the details, or the following may not make sense.

I just want to say, I hope your stance on this was misrepresented, Marina Gomberg, spokeswoman for the Utah Pride Center.

Even if everything went down as the suspect claims (originally) and even if he thought he was doing right to help get these kids some z's, he took children from their parent's home without telling their parents (allegedly...). Thank goodness nothing happened to the children. That is the most important fact here. Look though, even with the kids being okay, I'd be likely to have performed a "hate crime" on that gay man if I were those parents. My sympathies are with them here, not the gay man, and the leadership of the gay community should not be putting a concern about whether or not the family overreacted because of the suspect's orientation at the top of the heap. I mean, who the h*beep*l does the suspect think he is? And now he wants to claim his beating was some anti-gay hate crime?! When he was supposedly invited to their party? It makes no sense.

This is exactly the thing that makes hate crimes laws less and less likely. As a gay man, I don't feel threatened by this man's beating, why? Because I'd don't take children from their parent's home. I feel threatened by the gay man's (alleged) actions here, as a parent. It's that simple. Gay community leaders, backing this guy seems like a good way
to sink hate-crime laws and hurt us everywhere else.

In fact, next to anti-gay rights activists, such gay men and women, crying homophobia when they are at fault, are the greatest threat to our rights. Most conservative LDS in Utah reading that article are going to think, "Yep, look at that. Look at how those gays want to kidnap and molest children. And they want marriage rights? To be parents?! No way." They will use this to harm the gay community on whole and my family. It doesn't matter that in the same paper, the same day, a heterosexual was convicted of much worse, of actually kidnapping and raping a child. They won't see that as a critique on themselves. As a minority we are judged by the worst of us and no one thinks, for example, "Remember Wanda Barzee and Brian David Mitchel? I guess you just can't trust those straight folks with children."

So please, Utah pride center, be careful and thoughtful. When interviewed, try to find some objective perspective, if not for the right reasons, for sake of justice, then for the sake of the gay community on whole. It is not pro-gay to be only pro-gay.

I hope I'm wrong and that you'll tell me so. I hope it's not like it seems in the article: that your main concern was that these people will be prosecuted for beating a man who took their children, gay man or not. Please, tell me I'm way off base; this is one instance in which I'd love to be reprimanded for jumping to conclusions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Irreversible

After we got home I caught up on recent events. One editorial of note from Sunday's paper was an editorial about gay suicide by Carol Lynn Pearson, a vocal and prolific LDS and gay LDS advocate. You can read the editorial here.

I'll not go into the details of it all. Others have and many (ironically most of them on the anti-gay relationships side) are doing enough online to prove her tragic point. Heck, as if to highlight the willful blindness to the harm, in the same paper that day this editorial, "Don't Bother Us," appeared asking gay groups to "just leave us [the LDS church] alone."

I wish they could ethically do so,
Douglas. I really and deeply wish you would adopt a live and let live approach and that we then could in turn. But you show no signs of slowing down, right? If anything, with the Proposition 8 fight, you and the LDS church leaders are stepping further into the most intimate and important relationship in my life and my children's lives. I can't just stop bothering you.

In fact, considering what most gay men and women around here go through, I'm not even slightly sorry you feel put out.

Anyway, I got distracted. What's newly eating at me with this editorial, is the fact that
Carol refers to a gay suicide in my sphere of influence, a gay man who killed himself while working where I was working.

I haven't hid my orientation at work for over a decade. If a person's orientation would come up in a conversation with a heterosexual, it will come up with me. Everyone close enough to me in my work environment to see my desk would see pictures of my family. But that's it. I didn't wear a rainbow rhinestone lab coat, or anything. I can count a substantial conversation about being gay at my work maybe once per year, when someone felt comfortable enough with me to ask me.

The thing is, the thing that I've been trying to put out of mind for the past couple days is that I probably knew this young man, not well enough to know his name, but certainly his face as we'd pass in the halls or occasionally sat in on the same seminars. But work was work, no place for being vocally out. I wasn't about to create a gay support group for my traditionally conservative area of the campus, put up fliers, or make a point of coming out to strangers in a strained, unnatural way. Maybe I should have, though.

It's just such a train wreak for some gay men. This article took me back to the first gay suicide I personally encountered, and, while I consciously know I don't hold even a fraction of the same blame in this case, I still feel that guilt through the associations and reflex of memory.
I know it would be some sort of sad savior complex to feel I could have saved this young man too, if only I'd been more out, if only I asked more about the lives of those around me... But I keep going back to the fact that, from outward appearances, I could have seemed to young gay men working around me like yet another damning, anti-gay bigot (and there were those in our area). I could have appeared like yet another person in their world who'd look down on their "vile afflictions," when I am really one of their brothers. That tiny sliver of a possibility is far too much of a possibility.

Anyway, if anyone wants to know why gay issues become a life's work for some people, such irreversible events and what if's are reason enough. Thank you
Carol Lynn Pearson, for trying to get in the way, for being a bother.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Scenic Helper

We spent the weekend in Helper. That's Helper, Utah. What, haven' heard of it? Here, it's right here:


View Larger Map

Just after a time wherein I was feeling worried about family, this was good remedy, a great reminder of what I'll always have in family, even if a split does occur down the gay-friendly divide.

First, one must admit that Helper has seen better days:
Nevertheless, it has a good deal of historical character and has become a hang out for some talented artists. We go down to to help my cousins during Helper's arts and music festival. They've bought a home and a couple buildings on main street, I'm sure at a surprising bargain. My mother's side of the family all come from that area, and my cousins are trying to help revitalize and redefine the old town.

Now you may be thinking what I was thinking. Helper? Isn't that just a place to get gas and a stick of beef jerky on your way to Moab, or, heck, Price even? In all honesty, while the town is not ever going to be a showcase city of Utah, the arts festival there is a great event and some of the galleries are well worth a visit.
I know I may be an irrational sucker for such community events, but all in my family agreed. You can find a good time and great art in Helper, and next year keep them in mind; bringing some tourism dollars would, um, assist them a good deal.

During the heat of the day we went to the Dinosaur Museum in Price:
That's their terrified-because-I'm-being-chased-by-a-dinosaur face. We had a good time there; while Alan was walking around he told me, "When I have a son, I'm going to name him Random." Cool huh? Where do they get such ideas?

Almost lost Alan there to a Utahraptor.

That night was the big reception and art competition. Rob was asked to arrange the flowers for the reception... What can I say? He's good at arranging flowers; sometimes you just have to admit to a stereotype or two. They ended up being used in an artist's still life, for their so not-gay beauty.

Brian took his job of punch-cup-refiller with a purpose and focus usually only seen in men who disarm land mines:
And me, I was just a manual laborer, my talents not being in fancy dinner parties. I was also the Alan Wrangler:
It's more difficult than it looks (or maybe just as difficult?).

Anyway, another great weekend. The nice thing about having a huge family, is that, by the statistics alone, there will be a good number you connect with and can trust with every bit of your self and your family. A split in our family would break my heart, but last weekend reminded me that there'd still be plenty of family to go around, more than most people are blessed to have, even if they're all heathens ;-).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Luke 14:26

Rebecca Walsh had an article in the tribune yesterday about being gay in Utah, here.

In it she writes about Gary and Millie Watts and their family. I know the Watts, just barely well enough to say that. They are some of the nicest people you could meet, though, the sort that give Utah its good reputation for character and friendliness (It's not just my imagination. We do have that reputation, right?).

Gary and Millie are parents to a couple gay children, among others (a big Utah family) and were once a very active LDS family. They went to bat for their kids with their church for many years, thinking it could be resolved and they could keep their faith and their acceptance of their children and their children's families. But I read now, and to my surprise, they have all--parents, gay siblings, and straight--left the LDS church over the issues of how same-sex unions are treated.

I'm kind of sad to learn that. I'm sure everyone involved has their reasons; it just all seems so... so much like wasted conflict, an unnecessary cut. Of course, I guess, if you think same-sex unions are sin, it could seem like some families, those who support the families of their gay children, should best go.

What really hit home though was that, my mom, after reading this, called me up and said she wanted to send the article to all of my siblings, in the hope they'd follow their example. My parents, a sister and a brother have already left the LDS church, but some are very much involved. I think I successfully discouraged her from it. There's no point to that, here, in a family. Is there? Is it okay to just keep from fighting in your family on issues like this? Was it okay for interracial couples to just swallow relatives' bigotry to get along, to keep those bonds? I'm not sure, but we just keep away from politics with some family and they do the same and we most all get along great.

Nevertheless, they'll bring religion up with my dad. My brother, he's a bishop. He is vocal about his hope to convert our dad back, which upsets me. My dad was always there for me as a kid, he's become one of my best friends in my adult life, and one of the most important persons to our children. My brother hopes to make him into a man who sees my family as sinful, something to be "tolerated". Can you see how threatening that comes off? It's tough for me to not be angry at my brother for such aims, no matter how prone to failure they are, for both the hoped for consequences to my family and my relationship with our dad, and my brother's apparent obliviousness to them, as he'll do it right in front of Rob and me.

But all this seems to have stepped up even more with the Proposition 8 fight. Just two days ago my dad and my sister got in a fight over us, when she told him she doesn't "agree with our choices", something she'd never say to us directly. These are the choices that brought his grandchildren and Rob into this family and so he got heated. He's a very smart man and, as she was using religion in her reasoning, came back at the weak spots in her ideas of the supernatural. I've never seen my dad phased by such confrontation--a quality I'd hope to learn still--but I'm told it wasn't pleasant for her. I'm sure she regrets bringing it up, and I wonder if it will be uncomfortable the next time we get together.

Simply, I too can feel the politics and religion tearing at my family, not just at the rights of the four of us in our home, at our extended family. Often, I find myself trying to make excuses for my siblings to my parents. As long as my siblings can keep from undermining our family in the open, where our children can be harmed by it, I want our children to have their cousins. And my siblings have been good about that so far. Should I, instead, be as ardent as my folks? I'm not sure. I love my huge family and want to be able to keep going to reunions without a fog of mistrust and things said in anger hanging over the funeral potatoes and games of kick the can. Is that sacrificing ideals for pleasantries? Is that pointless? There's already a fog there knowing they are most all paying for the church to put on a political campaign against my marriage.

I want to hold it together, but on some days it's not easy, regardless of want. By November and the vote on Prop 8, I'm afraid it will only get worse.
I don't think we have the same end in the works for us that the Watts had, where the family acts together. I'm afraid we must keep on balancing a delicate truce, or it would tip and each would go their separate ways.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Note to the LDS Church

The LDS church has put out more info on their hope to limit marriage to heterosexually headed families, Here. Thanks for pointing me to it MoHoHawaii (or maybe I should be mad at you; I've not yet decided). I'll jump right in.

"The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference."


That's not advocating for equal rights and it's smartly worded so they can wiggle out of any one of them, but there's a big step for them there. I'll give them much credit for that.

Only four years ago, during the Amendment 3 debate (an amendment which took away marriage and any other "substantially equivalent" rights), they had a chance to speak up for these rights and say exactly this. They only spoke up for denying marriage and added:

"any other sexual relations, including between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family."

The message sent was clear, they knew what their followers heard and they were just fine with letting the enforcement of denying all those other rights stand. I am grateful they have made this step towards "Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people".

"The Divine Institution of Marriage"

There's not much to say about the supernatural points, save that we all have different knowledge about the supernatural and it should not be used to impose law on others and limit the rights of those to practice their faith, or lack thereof. We may as well argue about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

In that section though, I would find it interesting to know how they choose their research. Out of all the research on families out there, much of it on children of same-sex parents, they have 4 (!) references, and make the logically fallacious comparisons to single mothers, quoting from what seem to be the weakest and most biased sections of any research, the discussion. This is a total misrepresentation of what's out there and I'd love to know how such was defended (or if it needed to be).

"Tolerance, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom"

"Those who favor homosexual marriage contend that “tolerance” demands that they be given the same right to marry as heterosexual couples."

This is a case of you just not listening, or putting up straw men.

Search my blog, or isocrat.org for "tolerance." This isn't about "tolerance" or your love; this is about men and women trying to protect their families from your real world attacks. I get that when you feel you are God's representatives, it can color your vision. There are many other Gods with representatives on this earth though. I'm sure you're fine people, but you are strangers. I don't care how you feel about me, if you can tolerate me, if you "condone" my family, or how good you feel in still loving me despite my "sin". This whole "gay marriage is all about getting my approval" angle is really weird. I do care, though, about how you concretely affect my children and my husband, and the many other families I know you are advocating harm towards with your political actions.

Aside: Isn't quoting Jesus a bit problematic when you're tying to mobilize a huge group against equal treatment of our families? You think same-sex relations are evil, right? Even assuming you're right, yes, Jesus did say "go and sin no more"; he also said "resist not evil." I don't agree with Him here either, but trying to put Jesus' seal of approval on a huge political action campaign against a large group of people who just want equal treatment from their government, well, even if that could possibly be a posed as a fight against evil, it strains the imagination. WWJD, indeed.

"We can express genuine love and friendship for the homosexual family member or friend without accepting the practice of homosexuality or any re-definition of marriage. "

I'm glad you can, really. But surely you can see that, while it means something, it's not much to know a stranger out to legally diminish my family feels love. There are historical accounts of the love felt for the sinner when they were being tortured and burned to death for "sodomy". Simply, your love doesn't mean much when your actions might annul my marriage. I really want to know if you can you see that. (as if anyone is listening :-))

As for religious freedom, I'm right with you. But your beef is with anti-discrimination laws, not marriage. No one, for example, is forcing the catholics to marry divorced couples. If a church isn't taking public money, they should even be able to discriminate against mixed race marriages, and I don't want the government in religion any more than you do. But look, you pulled this pendulum, over the decades, strongly towards your end and hurt a lot of gay people in the past, and I get that you may be afraid if you let go it may swing too far in the other direction. I want it to stop where I have my family with equal treatment and you have your religious freedom, no more and no less. We could work together to that end, instead of trying to pull each other off our footing.

"Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions."

So? Let them suggest; you know people suggest all sorts of crazy things. I can't hold it against you that people suggest the Levitical death penalty be put in place for homosexuals, right? Again, this is not about marriage, but anti-discrimination laws.

"Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished."

What I don't get is this. Two churches perform a wedding, and the government looks into the sexual anatomy of those involved and decides to recognize only one church's union but not another's. You don't see that as religious discrimination? Is it because you think they aren't "true" churches? What if the government did that to your weddings? You are free to perform your weddings how you like. No church synagogue or mosque has been forced into same-sex unions. It is fear mongering to suggest otherwise.

"How Would Same-Sex Marriage Affect Society?"

"“It won’t affect you, so why should you care?’ is the common refrain."

Really, it is?

"The experience of the few European countries that already have legalized same-sex marriage suggests that any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally."

FULL STOP. Why no reference here? Why no data? It seems very suspicious, as though you know what's there and didn't want to share anything but innuendo. Look at the data right from their censuses and try to tell us this again. I have to hope you aren't simply counting on the average person not looking further into this, because that above statement is fiction, to put it kindly, and if you honestly are studying the issue, carefully, as you say, you should know that.

"there are many practical implications in the sphere of public policy that will be of deep concern to parents and society as a whole. "

I'm all ears, to read about what my concerns as a parent should be.

"When a man and a woman marry with the intention of forming a new family, their success in that endeavor depends on their willingness to renounce the single-minded pursuit of self-fulfillment and to sacrifice their time and means to the nurturing and rearing of their children."

Great, you've given one way in which man-women marriages are just like man-man marriages. Of course, you don't mean to insinuate otherwise, and demean our families, right? Gosh I hate PC language.

"Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners, for it is not the purpose of government to provide legal protection to every possible way in which individuals may pursue fulfillment."

Sadly, you are either not listening to us, or misrepresenting us, and in a piece meant to "reduce misunderstanding".

"By definition, all same-sex unions are infertile, and two individuals of the same gender, whatever their affections, can never form a marriage devoted to raising their own mutual offspring."

So? If you think raising, loving, and nurturing children who aren't similar to you in their genetic code is some sort of weakness, I guess we truly do differ in our moral codes.

" It is true that some same-sex couples will obtain guardianship over children"

Some? In Utah, of cohabitating same-sex couples, we're talk about 40% and that number has certainly grown since the 2000 census. Only 49% of all marriages are currently raising children. Let me put that in other terms; Utah, with our anti-adoption for gay couples and anti-marriage equality laws is 3rd in the nations when it comes to the percentage of cohabitating same-sex couples raising children. You are trying to minimize and misrepresent our families. You are, ironically, treating the fact that we have children and will keep becoming parents in greater numbers as a minor consideration here.

"Traditional marriage provides a solid and well-established social identity to children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation."

Then you should be advocating legal marriage for the parents in our families too.

"By contrast, the legalization of same-sex marriage likely will erode the social identity, gender development, and moral character of children."

At least you admit you don't know. You do know, though, you start out talking all nice, and then you go and insult the moral character of a man's child. Do you think we're somehow a wildly different sort of humans than you? That we wouldn't notice? You didn't mean it like that? Are you going to retreat and go back to "there's just something missing, neither good nor bad"? Spin it as carefully as you like but you can't both be the good guy and the bad guy here; these children and their parents hear you loud and clear, even if you're counting on others to make excuses for and ignore such tangled messages.

As to your other concerns about our children. Much, and I mean a lot, of research has shown no difference in their "gender development". You found some research to quote above; why not here? And what do you mean by "social identity"? Do you mean they may correctly identify they are children of same-sex parents, just as other children correctly identify they are children of LDS parents? Such words, not defined, come off in the imaginations of your followers as all sorts of crazy things; they teach their children such things and those children go to school with my children. Do you see that? When you're vague most followers fill in the voids in a way that most demeans our children.

Oddly, I both hope you know and don't know that.

"As just one example of how children will be adversely affected, the establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably require mandatory changes in school curricula."

You mean not only may gay people have equal treatment, but their children in our schools may be given consideration too? Come on. My kids' class read and Tango Makes Three (without us asking) last year as one of many books. Yes, right here in Utah. It was one book in hundreds, and such inclusion has nothing to do with legal marriage and everything to do with humane treatment of all children, and creating an environment where all children can feel comfortable enough to learn reading writing and arithmetic without bigotry getting in the way. Is the LDS church against that? What, in schools are they actually against? You have to be specific. True, if you're not, there's less room to change doctrine when you need to, but your followers will often assume the worst otherwise.

People, even gay couples, will simply have children regardless of the government's okay. Those children should be able to talk about their family at school too. There is only one way to make them and your growing problem here disappear, but if you want to know what an actual society's erosion and collapse looks like, you just try to take our children from their homes.

" Finally, throughout history the family has served as an essential bulwark of individual liberty."

Well... Eh, the irony and de-family-ing of our families just gets too thick towards the end there to go on.

Anyway, the sad part is I'm sure the author of this felt, deep in the cockles of their heart, they were showing "love, kindness and humanity toward all people." They felt such white-on-white warmth even when insulting other's children, and cherry picking and misrepresenting the research, of which they choose a very tiny amount (though enough to fool the casual reader that science was on their side).

I know I went off half-cocked here and may regret pressing publish in an hour or two. But, eh, I've got to go and want to stop feeling distracted by this, I'll feel better doing something too :-).

At least they are moving their position a step towards civil unions. It's just frustrating. Frustrating and sad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Note to Affirmation

Sure, I know, Affirmation, we haven't interacted much and so who am I to chime in, right? Nevertheless, if you didn't see coming what came back to you from the LDS church in reaction to your press conference yesterday, someone needs to bring this dynamic to your attention. Maybe you did and just went on anyway; I don't know.

I get where you're coming from, I think. It'd be frustrating to have my anxiously awaited meeting with my religious leaders postponed indefinitely, even as the same church is finding much time and effort to make bold political moves against our families in California. And you're right, "You can't just walk in and say, 'Hi, President Monson, here we are.' " I'm sure it's frustrating, to have that wall in an area so important to you.

You are also right to think "
six or 12 months can be an "eternity" in the lives of individuals struggling to resolve their sexuality and their faith." You feel that urgency; I do too. In that time, yes, another kid may kill themselves and you feel, even if you know it's naive, you can help that, if only they'll listen. I know such feelings, how they motivate, but also how they can blind us to sad political realities and push that time out even further. You feel it; you feel like it has to be done yesterday. But they don't. To them, they aren't harming people and so there's no urgency for them to change, and this imbalance of drive can be used against you.

Please, now, tell me if I'm off base here, or if the media misreported what has occurred. But fact is, you are weak and they are strong. You are, on average, unpopular, and they, well, for many here, are the most moral, most compassionate, and simply super awesome organization on this entire planet. What I don't get is how you could think you could still hold your meeting without them and not be effectively slapped down, and in that very useful rhetorical style we Utahns possess.

The members of the LDS church didn't hear your concerns. Of all you said, both sides only got a tiny sound bite on the news I watched (KSL), and the LDS church's statement fit into a sound bite and they knew best how to use it. All the members heard was their church tell us, in effect, that Affirmation doesn't care about gay issues as much as the church does. It sucks, I know, but it doesn't matter how wrong you feel that is. Affirmation doesn't think "issues surrounding same-gender attraction deserve careful attention." Affirmation would rather go for shallow "public posturing." That was the message they got out to the masses, and they did it through your efforts. Like facing some judo master of PR, your momentum was used against you.

I hope I'm not coming off as harsh, and, no, I don 't direct, know how to, and wouldn't want to direct a large group such as Affirmation. I may be completely ignorant here, and hope to be told if I am. It just seems you jumped right into the losing role of this PR game. Why? Does it just seem that way and there's a reason to which I'm blind? Did you not see this coming? Did you try to head off this likely response in your news conference and it just didn't get reported? Am I totally off base in thinking it'd just be best to have stuck with your sunstone speeches and cancel the Monday "meeting"?

Yours confusedly and, maybe, somewhat accusingly (but you'll forgive that, right? :-)),
Your brother in Same-Sex Attraction,
UtahCog

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isaiah 47:13-14

Before I biases you, and if you're game, you may want to take the test that I'll be writing about here:

The Inverse Astrology Test

You done? My results you ask? Well, okay (I can't get the table to work here for some reason, but):

Your Inverse Astrology Results from Isocrat.org:

Aries - 47.8%

Taurus - 63.5%

Gemini - 49.1%

Cancer - 55.9%

Leo - 48.6%

Virgo - 76.3%

Libra - 50.5%

Scorpio - 52.7%

Sagittarius - 40.2%

Capricorn - 63.4%

Aquarius - 46.6%

Pisces - 43.1%

You claim to be an Aquarius but we predicted Virgo. Please consult a parent or guardian as to your actual date of birth.

Turns out my parents are liars, and I was born a Virgo (I guess, then, my real birthday is coming up, if you want to get me anything... Just say'n).

So why do such a "test"?

Among the many reasons I wanted to have something like Isocrat.org was that I missed having a place to just put random stuff that interested me. That's why we have individual author hubs, just for random stuff that has nothing to do with GLBT concerns. There were about 5 years in our life when being gay wasn't a noticeable issue. But, in that time, I was still a guy up for questioning various faiths, long before our parenthood made it a practical priority.

One day a pregnant friend told me that she was sure she and her child will not get along, because that child was going to be born with a certain sun sign, one that she believed conflicted with her own. It shocked me, and I kept thinking about it. She got the idea from reading astrology books that describe a person's personality by their sun sign. Like many people who have faith in astrology, she had read the descriptions, picked out adjectives that she thought described her, ignored the rest, and, there you have it, proof in astrology. People do this all the time with all sorts of faiths; they remember the hits and forget or excuse the misses.

So I thought about how one could demonstrate this was a wrong way to come to a belief, and I came up with my inverse astrology test. A detailed explanation of the test is here, methods here, and the averaged results of all who've taken the test here. So far Astrology is batting zero.

Anyway, just a little diversion, but I hope it's somewhat illustrative and I'd love to know what some of you end up with (and if there are any bugs to be found in the test).

(I'm sorry if I've offended a reader's belief in this bit of the supernatural with this post. Sometimes I fear I get too used to being innately offensive to most people's ideas of the supernatural, and may not know when I've gone too far. Nevertheless, once people start making real world choices and judgments for their various faiths, particularly stuff like entering parenthood with prejudice against your child, it kind of puts it up for grabs, right? If that's not how you use astrology, I've no argument with you.)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

We Could, but...

As a gay parent involved with gay parenting groups, we get, every so often, bulk email pleas from social workers and such for someone to adopt a particular child. Often, they are difficult to place children, and the person making the plea knows same-sex couples are a good bet for finding homes for such children. The most heart-wrenching I can remember was regarding a little girl born without arms and legs.

We got another today. Rob asked me if we should pursue it. I couldn't really tell if he was completely serious about it, and I considered it... Then thought of our boys and all the effort that would go into an infant and away from them. I told him now is not the right time. Besides, we've a good excuse, right? In a Utah adoption, only one person of a gay couple could be this child's legal parent, and it'd be better if a couple out of state took up the responsibility.

I hope they do, but they may not. This child may end up being passed around in foster care. It ain't easy to say no in such a situation, knowing that there is a child out there, waiting for someone to step up, knowing, as most every US family knows, your family could raise a child in need, but you've chosen not to.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Two Days of Legal Marriage

Well, we're back. Instead of doing it in a comment on that last post let me just say here thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations in both comments and e-mail. I know online relationships can be somewhat impersonal, but it did mean a lot to see my inbox full of good tidings from you all. Thank you very much.

We had a beautiful time; maybe even the best vacation we've taken. It's funny, we were reminded of what we were there for right as we got in. Every trip we take Rob has to drive the car the whole time because he rents it and picks it up while I take care of the kids. Unless you're legally married, you're not automatically added to the rental car contract. In California, this would be the last time that happens. Damn, I'll have to drive next time ;-).

With a bit of change in plans we went to Lego Land right after we got into San Diego. We were just too excited. And, you bet, that was fun, but, with the lines, even the boys ranked it at about 4th on their list the things we did, which is saying something about the rest of the trip.
After Lego Land, a bit of a commercial here, we ate at one of our favorite pizza places in San Diego, Pizza Bella, in "Old Town" (Some of the buildings there are rumored to be over 50 years old! Take that, Paris.). Anyway, Rob and I used to eat there about once a week and it is always good. Get the pizza with the works and the salad with the pesto dressing, delicious. On top of that it has a great courtyard in which the kids can have a sword fight.
The next morning we had our big appointment with the county clerk.
Again, we didn't want to dress up too much, hence the Hawaiian shirts on the boys. I have to say, that gentleman you can barely see there in the background, around his 80's, he and his husband of 51 years got legally married just before us. When I told them we had been together for 16 years, they were, of course, unimpressed and said our family had many wonderful years to go. I love it when the universe adds those little extra bits of beauty to beauty. Life may as well have street signs.

That wonderful couple took our picture as we waited.

I even got butterflies again. Thank goodness the waiting area was populated by children more noisy and antsy than ours :-).

Finally, they brought us into their "chapel", which may have been their old storage room. Nothing fancy, but it served its legal purpose. We made our vows, again, and once again we said "I do." Once again, I choked up, and again I gave him my ring and he gave me his. This time though our boys saw us promise to keep their family together, "forsaking all others"; they held and handed those rings, those symbols of that promise to us. This time we were legally married, bound. While I'll never want to diminish that first day I said "I do" with all those friends and family by our side, I have to admit this day was very special too, in its own way.
And it did feel a bit different to know the state would be there to protect them, from tragedy, even from me. It felt great, in fact, for those couple days.

That, though, is certainly not the end. Off to the beach!
Yes, the beach is great, but the reviews paled in comparison to the tide pools we visited after lunch:
After about 4 hours and 8 coats of sunscreen we had to bribe the boys away from the fish, snails, and crabs with food. This was rated the most fun activity of the trip; save the Lego Land and Sea World money and go to La Jolla's tide pools.

Dinner, well, we had a reservation at our favorite fancy restaurant in San Diego, overlooking the water, but with twin 6-year-olds? We smartly canceled and went to the mall for dinner, yes, on our 13th anniversary/wedding night, where they'd have fun too:
How did I get so lucky? Really.

By far, that was our best anniversary yet. But that's not all. The next day we toured the Midway aircraft carrier, which Alan absolutely loved:
He even got to steer the ship:
Finally, we picked up an In-and-Out burger and went hiking in the spot Rob and I used to always go when we lived there, at Torry Pines State Park:
It was a perfect end to a perfect vacation. We talked a lot about moving back to California even... but we are undeniably Utahns, all our family (the kid's extended family, more importantly) is in Utah, and so on... Anyway, we then got on the plane, landed back home and were no longer legally married.

Last night we easily put the boys to bed, I laid on the couch with my ex, and we watched the Daily Show as we always do just before bed. But I actually felt there, and feel now pretty secure in the knowledge that he won't forever be my legal-ex, even in Utah. No prejudice, misunderstanding, superstition, selfishness or even hate can live up to stark facts of family, maybe even especially in Utah. One has reason to be hopeful, right?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ringing Those Wedding Bells, But Quietly

The house sitter has sat, the bags are packed, and we will, within a day, be off to California to get married, once again.

Everyone in our lives has been congratulating us and making a big deal out of this. We very much appreciate it, and it is a big deal to us too. But I have an emotional reflex to keep it low key. We had our wedding, 13 years ago. We forged our vows in front of all those friends and family. We felt that overwhelming emotion and celebrated with our loved ones, some of whom, like my grandpa and uncle, aren't here to celebrate with us today. We rented the tuxedos, ate the cake and had our honeymoon too.

That specific August day is so important to us, so much so that I recoil from making a big deal of geting married again. We are doing this because we have to, because the law and equity should have been there on our wedding day but it was not. We are doing this for the right for my family to be treated as equal if something bad happens, even though that would mean I'd have to see death coming and move them to Ca or Ma. We are doing this before those fighting for Proposition 8 snatch it away from us. We will just hope they don't find a way to retroactively take rights away.

These are kind of mood killing considerations, you know? And we really wouldn't want this coming day to be as special as that first day anyway; it shouldn't be.

So it will be a simple, pleasant affair at the courthouse, the morning before we head off to Lego Land. We don't want to give our boys the impression that we are getting married in a better way than we did before, or even that we are "renewing" our vows, as that may give their young minds the impression their parent's promises, what they rely on, have a problem to fix. I've been trying to make it clear that this is about getting more legal protection for their family from the law because we couldn't get it when their daddy and papa were first married. Still, these aren't easy ideas to get across to a 6-year-old.

Nevertheless, this morning the very first thing Alan said to me was, "Papa, are you excited? One more day!" They get it, some of it at least. Yep, I am excited... and worried this will be for naught, but I didn't tell him that second part.

I'll try to post while there. It may be my only post while legally married, who knows? The last poll I saw looked good but there is some fervent and well-funded opposition lining up to convince the people of CA that my family and the equal legal treatment of my family are somehow the biggest threats to children and families in existence. They may succeed. But heck, they may not. I'm going to try to not think too far ahead in the next couple days and just enjoy the beach, the amusement park, and the legal right for my family to be treated as family, until we land back here in Utah.