Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving

How my son dressed himself for Thanksgiving Dinner:
How he ended up being dressed for Thanksgiving Dinner:
We've been learning a lot about the word compromise this month. After a substantial discussion on how a historical pirate would sooner be seen in a sweater and black pants than shorts and a t-shirt, particularly a Saint Patrick's Day t-shirt (Were there Irish pirates?), we all got our way :-).

Anyway, I hope you all had a great holiday, and none of you are in some God forsaken Walmart right now fighting over half-priced Chia Pets or something.

We had a wonderful day of family and food, though I seem to have lost an arm:
I blame the pirate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks

Or fanks as our kids used to say (I miss their speech impediments!).

My husband, my kids, my parents, family, friends, health, food, home, shelter... One could go on and on but there's no time today.

I'll just say, for the first day since Proposition 8 passed I didn't wake up at 5 AM or earlier from a frustrating debate in a dream with some guy justifying harm to my family in one way or another. I've been in full subconscious (and conscious) protective mode for a long time now.

Instead I woke up with the twins hopping in bed with a tickle assault. After I soundly defeated them and they begged for mercy, I went back to half sleep as they watched the parade. Now, there's something to be thankful about.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Could Be a Lot Worse

At times I like to think of how bad it could be or has been for gays or other groups, in order to make my family's current legal treatment in Utah feel smaller and conquerable in comparison.

It is so frustrating to be on the business end of faith when it's used as a weapon. There's little to do to defend yourself when people will act even against their conscience, and there's less to do when they feel like they're being loving and righteous when hurting another person. I thought the days of major, world-ruining damage done in this way were somewhat behind us, but I came across this story and I am still in shock:

'Child-witches' of Nigeria seek refuge

Christian religious leaders in Nigeria have taken to "curing" demonically possessed children, "witches" as young as newborns. Words fail me. Here's a bit from the article:
During the "deliverance" ceremonies, the children are shaken violently, dragged around the room and have potions poured into their eyes. The children look terrified. The parents look on, praying that the child will be cleansed. If the ritual fails, they know their children will have to be sent away, or killed. Many are held in churches, often on chains, and deprived of food until they "confess" to being a witch.
And worse than that occurs, but the point is there. The religious leaders perpetrating this crime (a word that is grossly inadequate here) are likely out for money, but I can't care one bit if they believe the supernatural worldview they're promoting or not; clearly they break my rules of engagement with regards to religious tolerance. But the parents, who are certainly acting against their conscience for their faith, are as much to blame and their betrayal of morality and familial love is even more striking.

Theses are the horrors of magical thinking, though it often starts out so innocently. This is the hedonism and the devil of my worldview, of agnosticism at work. Though I consider myself fairly liberal and broad in my support of religious freedoms, in this case, religious freedom be damned; Our government should be strongly pressuring the Nigerians for a crackdown.

What gets to me is that I like to think humans are far removed from such behavior. It was something we did in Salem, or Spain years and years ago. But I see stories like this and have to admit that that is who we are, today. It is what we are all capable of doing if we don't keep constant restraint, discipline, and deference to science in our beliefs.

Sorry for the rant but this story got to me. Gays here are often called satanically guided or inspired or whatever, but at least such claims are seen as ridiculous enough that we don't need to address them on protest signs as these children do. We have it great in comparison. I hope, if you have some extra charitable dollars to spend, you might send them their way (or talk your church into getting involved. I'm all for faith when it does good.).

You can donate to the center in Nigeria taking in these children here; unfortunately, though, they don't seem to be organized or vetted like a regular charity. Here may be a better option.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Boycott

A couple days ago we saw the new James Bond movie, which rocked. While we were driving to the theater, it made me realize just how many businesses we effectively boycott.

We quit going to our favorite movie theater a long time ago after it pulled "Brokeback Mountain." It's owned by Larry Miller and he apparently felt showing a drama where gay people actually look human was much less acceptable than films showing murder, gore and sadism. There have been issues with his political contributions as well, and so all his businesses are now off limits for us. If you are a Utahn, you know how hard it would be to avoid all things owned by Miller, but we do it (as if Larry Miller misses our $30/month on movies :-)... well, I also pointedly wouldn't buy our last two cars from him).

We also now drive a couple extra blocks to avoid shopping at our once favorite grocery store. I've also stopped eating at a sandwich shop I used to go to about two or three times a week. The owners of both contributed to Proposition 8.

In all, our family has limits on everything from gas stations to electronics stores.

What's weird though is that I don't think of ourselves as "boycotting" these establishments, though we are. There seems to be an implied emotion in that word that I just don't have. It is a dry pragmatic decision.

We are charged so much extra in our jurisdiction in taxes, insurance, lawyer fees and so on (that doesn't even tally up the unquantifiable value of legal marriage). We pay more because some people don't want to treat a family with our anatomical shape the way they want theirs treated. When we give money to such people and they then put some of that money into campaigns to make sure we keep paying more, that indirectly ups their prices, though for only our sort of family. What they are promoting makes what they're selling too expensive, in several ways.

They of course have a right to do so, and we of course can and do shop elsewhere. But I'm not really upset at, say, my favorite sandwich shop. I'm sad their employees, who may support equal rights, won't get my business. But, at another shop, we get to pay nearer the price every other customer pays, or at least we don't invest in a future where we will still have a round-about added gay-tax. So I'd rather give other employees and other owners our money.

But I've not stopped going to all sandwich shops, or stopped eating out. In the same vein, I'm very glad to see our local gay leaders come out against calls to boycott the entirety of Utah. The state of Utah did not contribute to Yes on Prop 8, and a state is not like a business anyway. You can come here and avoid using businesses that fight against our families, as we do. You can safely spend your money, particularly in places like Salt Lake City, Park City, or Moab. Simply, there are several friendly drops of oil in this red state water and they should be nurtured, even if it means, say, sitting in a theater you don't enjoy as much.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One of Ours?

According to the trib, a BYU student, "upset over an unspecified disciplinary action he'd received from the church," showed up at the Provo Temple last night with a hand gun and a short standoff occurred.

Another article says:

He...pointed the firearm at his chest, said Provo police Capt. Cliff Argyle.

A male friend was trying to convince the man to put down the gun when police arrived...

Add to "unspecified disciplinary action", "male friend" and a suicide threat on temple grounds...

I may be seeing a pattern where there is none but it sounds way too familiar.

Regardless of why, though, there is a tragedy there. There is also a great blessing in that the man had a friend to talk him down. I know my experience with a suicidal friend tells me there's a lesson to learn in the humanity behind this short news item, even if this has nothing to do with gay issues.

I know it can seem so bad that death looks to be the solution; I dare say most all gay men of my generation in Utah know there are times during the coming out process when it can seem that bad. I just wish anyone entertaining such thoughts, gay or not, could feel what it feels like to have them decades behind you. Thank goodness some measure of hope, or even fear, or stubbornness, or whatever does the trick, and pulls most all people through those times and onto many happy lives. Friends though seem to be the main means by which those without hope or fear can make it through.

For that reason, that "male friend" pleading up at the Provo temple two nights ago deserves to be honored. Whoever he is, he is a hero of mine.

Where We Agree

I attended diversity training again a couple days ago.

This is about the fourth class I've attended in about 2 years. No, I don't keep on slapping the secretary on the behind for a job well done. It's relevant to one of my volunteer responsibilities where I interact with a whole host of other cultures. I have indeed made some mistakes along the way; there's a lot to learn.

One thing we had to do was break into the groups which we felt society would pigeonhole us into, and answer a couple questions:

1. What do I never want to be called again? (I'll just put my contributions, so as not to get near another's privacy):
--fag
--faggot
(With cruel intent. If there is no doubt the intent is benign and is just meant to be, say, a friendly jab between friends, I have no problem, but others will disagree.)

But then I realized there's now a bunch of new words for "fag" that get to me just the same, if not more nowadays:
--anti-family
--anti-marriage
--anti-traditional marriage

These are the PC words our opponents use today, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly by advertising themselves in their fight against us as "pro-family" and "pro-traditional marriage" or as "defending traditional marriage".

Anyway, that realization caused me to opine on what unbelievably horrible people homosexuals are, yesterday. We're terrible: uncivil, sore losers, religiously intolerant, disrespectful of the rights of others, and a lot more. I've heard gays called all that recently... I kind of miss the good old days of "faggot" ;-).

2. What do I never want done to me again?
--I never want to lose legal rights for my family again; this one hurt more than the others added together and it's still negatively affecting me, physically even.
--I want to never be threatened with bodily harm again, especially with my kids there.
--I never want to work under a boss' anti-gay bigotry again.

3. How do I want to be treated?
This was the point of this exercise. Everyone's answers to #1 and #2 were all very different. But here, from the woman's group to the LDS group to the Hispanic group, everyone's answers were the same, almost word for word.

We all want to be treated "how others would want themselves to be treated". We all wanted to be treated "fairly" and with "r-e-s-p-e-c-t".

The LDS group wrote down exactly what the GLBT group wrote down.

So why, in practice, is this so difficult? I really do want their families to have every right and responsibility ours does, no more and no less. I want them to be able to decide in their own homes and in their own churches what a marriage is. I don't want to publicly label their unions non-ideal or their children as deficient.

I heard the Golden Rule on their list and it was actually kind of jarring, though I know it shouldn't be. I just don't understand why it doesn't go both ways, when we both know how the other would want to be treated and how we'd want to be treated. It's frustrating.

We were asked to make a single goal to change ourselves as we left, and write it down and keep it in our pocket. I'll admit, such symbolic acts strike me as silly. But I did it, and in my wallet right now is a piece of paper telling me that I will drop my resentment towards the LDS organization. The tough part is going to be doing that while still being denied and fighting for those answers to #3. It seems new wounds are being opened each news cycle and many LDS are still fighting to take away even meager rights for our families (I'm looking at you, Mrs. Ruzicka).

Eh, I'll start with my unfair resentment :-).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tough Religious Question

I'm kind of tired of the serious. I've been wanting to share this semi-serious anecdote for a while though.

We attended a baptism not too long ago. It was the baptism of the oldest son of one of our good friends, another family who was put in legal limbo with Proposition 8!

Okay, okay, I know. Focus...

We've tended this boy since he was a baby and he's been a friend to our boys and so we wanted to be there to support him. Also I wanted to show the boys what a church service is like, to address the eventual curiosity.

We are not Episcopal, though I've respected them for their strong focus on the teachings of Jesus. Also, I was impressed with the minister's understanding of the origins of the Bible (is that what they are? Ministers?). He actually admitted imperfections in the text and gave examples of scribe-inserted changes, books about Jesus that the early Catholic Leadership left out, and conflicting accounts that were left in when they compiled the Bible, but only to emphasize that the exact wording and assurances of inerrancy were distracting from the core of the teachings of Jesus. None of us left interested in becoming episcopal--I know we'd still have many differences regarding what can be a justifiable belief--but I left with a new respect for them.

Anyway, we're sitting there waiting for the baptism, trying to do all we can to be respectful in our participation, but not disrespectful or patronizing in participating too far into something we don't hold true. Eventually they got to the Eucharist and the minister, along with the congregation, begin talking about the blood of Christ and the flesh of Christ as they prepared the sacrament up in front of us all. Then people began filing up to perform this ancient ritual of bread and wine (Which they all drink from the same cup! Score one for the LDS and their hygienic, if-not-totally-green individual paper cups.).

I felt a tug on my arm as we were waiting for the ritual to end. It was Alan and he asked, "Papa, are they eating a person?" :-). I hadn't noticed how unusually quiet he had become next to me. He paid attention to nothing there but that, of course.

Now, this is not an easy question to answer, and this was not a conversation I anticipated, as I probably should have. This breach of such a strong taboo was likely chosen to be shocking and thereby powerful, and it is, but over the years it's lost shock value... not, though, for a person hearing it for the first time apparently. Do episcopals believe in transubstantiation, anyway? I doubt it. Nevertheless, people have been killed over similar questions, and early Christians were hunted down like witches for their practice of "cannibalism".

I just told him "No, it's symbolic. That's just bread and wine to us." Then realizing another can of worms opened up... "Symbolic is kind of like pretend but it has important real meaning to them. It's important to them. But yeah, eating a real person would be disgusting." (I wanted to make sure I didn't come off as condoning cannibalism :-))

Anyway, I thought that was cute... and a bit disturbing. Did my kid really think I'd take him to a place where they ate human flesh?

One last thing: we've been to a couple churches for several reasons in the last couple months. From the episcopals to even the New Age temple we visited they're all a lot like a LDS church, but for one thing: cry rooms. I never noticed this before but I remember the Baptist having cry rooms for fussy babies as well. They're nice too, with a sound system piped in from the pulpit, toys for the kids, and a glass window to watch the service along with the congregation. LDS parents IIRC go out into the hall and listen. There's got to be some deep sociological reason behind it. Something to do with baggies of cheerios and back rubs :-).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Busy Day, and Phychic Powers

Let me see if I can explain how impressive my man is. Yesterday we woke up, he prepared and got cooking a ham and a turkey. Then we went off to karate, and then right off to the anti-prop 8, pro-marriage rally at the city and county building.

We then hurried home, where, within an hour, he finished off the ham and turkey, separating the white from dark meat while making the gravy.

Then we arrived, just in time, for the thanksgiving party for our group of same-sex headed families.
We had a lot of fun. It was held in one of our member's church, which was much better than the cramped quarters we used to use; the group is just getting to big for homes and the GLBT center. It's just nice to let the kids socialize and run wild, while the parents get to commiserate about politics; is there a sound more joyful, though, than the sound of a herd of children chasing each other? It's hard to commiserate with all that laughing :-).

We had a surprising amount of new members: people with infants and some grown families moving into the Salt Lake valley. One couple moved here from Ca to be around family, which made me reconsider our thought of moving away. But their family was completely on their side, not part of the politics fighting against us, and not part of the predominant faith here. So there are some differences; besides, we'd be taking the grandparents with us.

After we were stuffed with stuffing and turkey, we headed up to the candle light vigil at the capitol.
Here we were trying to spell out "EQUALITY" on the lawn. You can see it partially done by ksl's coverage, and it eventually got done, but it was tough to fight the wind and shelter the flames from going out faster than we could light them... There's an analogy in there somewhere :-).




Also, I thought this was cute: On the way home, Brian asked me what a mutant was (something he saw on T.V.?). I explained again about our genetic codes and such and then talked about some special mutations humans sometimes have. We talked about some genetic and semi-genetic differences humans have, like albinos, dwarfism, perfect pitch, and synesthesia. With each they were more and more enthralled and I was loving it.

After we talked about synesthesia and some people "hearing" sights and seeing numbers as colored, Alan wondered if some people can hear other people's thought. I told them that was called telepathy, and, without telling them what I believed, I asked them what they thought.

On the freeway on the way home we ended up conducting many experiments, trying to read each other's minds (and me trying to teach a lesson about science and skepticism :-)). Most tests were, of course, unsuccessful... but when it was my mind's turn to be read I picked a thought and thought hard, and they tried to hear me.

Alan asked if I was thinking of our dog and I said no. Then Brian asked if I was thinking "I love you."

I was! I laughed and said "Yes, how did you read my mind?" Wondering if I'd now inadvertently initiated him into new age magical thinking :-).

Brian said, in his little kid incredulous voice, "I didn't read your mind; that was just a lucky guess."

I'm lucky for many reasons. I'm lucky to have two sweet boys and an amazing husband. I'm lucky to have these teachable moments. I'm lucky, even in Utah, to have groups of tens and hundreds and thousands of activists and families to gather and hope with us.

I'm especially lucky my son finds it to be a good guess that his pop is thinking "I love you".

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We're Here... Again

We have a busy day today and it's only half over, but I thought I'd hurry out a post so that there's not too much later.

After the boys' karate this morning we headed out to the local pro-marriage equality rally (I think they're weekly now :-)).
Again, it does my heart so much good to be around such support. I mean that both figurativly and literally; I can feel my pulse rate slow and the stress of protecting my family in this climate fall off in the optimism that I can find in all those many friendly faces.

One thing that is kind of amusing and disturbing is the difference in tone from what's being portrayed by those against our marriages. The angriest face I saw there (well, on our side) was this one:
And that's just Brian's pretend angry face (and yes, he's carrying a remote control; he likes to pause and rewind me sometimes).

Everyone was in a great mood and there were a lot of conciliatory and respectful words said with regards to the LDS church and others. I think the community as a whole is quite confused as to how they could think we want to alter their temple ceremonies, or take their rights, and such, and I hope the message gets across the polarization that all we want is for our families to be treated in law the way they'd want their families to be treated.

And despite the hope of some on the other side to make this into a race issue, and pit minority against minority, every community in Utah was represented there from our Latino friends to the Dakota native American who gave the blessing. It was a very heart warming event, once again.
Of course, others there we're in a less than good mood:
But that wasn't more than just kind of strange. It's funny how the group calling us hateful can't see a couple yards from their face into the love of that crowd, and it's odd they're the same group calling us "ignorant fools" and going on about our torture in hell. It's also odd that a group would be telling us we shouldn't exercise our right to free speech and assembly, while mistakenly assuming they were defending a person's right to vote.

We can vote, and we can speak. If there is a silver lining here, it certainly is the new strength we've found in each other.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pressure Valve

I’ve been trying to move on from Proposition 8, really; or at least I hoped to. It’s not been easy; there are lasting changes. In my extended family, there are now serious fissures to the point where legal documents have been changed and our holiday celebrations are probably not going to ever be what they once were. There’s probably no sense in focusing on that, though; it’s done and not by me.

I really have been trying to put it behind us in our personal lives and move on with it in our politically lives, but it's not happening; to put it behind us now seems to mean that it would merely be chasing us.

For example, the boys were with my dad the other day and my dad got into an argument with a LDS man about Prop 8. Goodness only knows how my dad can find a way into such debates with strangers but he’s a vocal advocate, and has never been the type of man to back away from the good fight. He heard this guy talking bad about our families, and my dad spoke up for us. I guess this guy eventually said that we are not a family, we are not married, that we are mentally ill, and that our boys wouldn’t be alive if not for a “real family”, and, sadly, I know this because that’s what Brian related to me about the incident. It’s tough to hold a calm face wile adsorbing something so horrible; thank goodness we were talking while I was driving. Brian also said this man said he loved us; that absolves the guy, huh? I’m sure it made him feel better, but what an awful lesson to teach about “love”.

We just talked about how silly some people can be. We talked again about how most families are like us in their love and dedication and daily life, but also how we’re different in the boy/girl ratio; he brought up how other families are different for their divorce, again, and we talked again about that…

For the first time, though, I had to really have a conversation with him about the people who don’t like our family’s difference. I couldn’t honestly deny that he heard right; he was sure of what he heard. Some people don’t think we’re a family, but, as I told him, we know what’s in our hearts and they do not.

This was probably the first time I had to go into the fact that adults can be cruel too, about anything. So far adults in his world have been above even the petty name-calling you’d see in 1st graders. They have only been friendly to him and us, as far as he knew. But that bit of innocence has been lost now and the fact that adults can be cruel and just for stuff like biological sex is now loose in his ever churning mind, as it is for too many children in this world.

Furthermore, I’m glad we have my father’s support but am troubled that grandpa didn’t get the boys out of there before such careless words for our family were used. You just cannot argue with most of the people who are against our rights without them saying something cruel about our families, and they’ll even feel they’re being civil while they do it. I wish I had talked about this with my dad before; I just assumed he knew what this battlefield was like and I shouldn’t have. It’s bizarre and maybe it was unexpected to my dad that they’ll ask for our civility and respect without giving it, nevertheless we still need to protect our kids and so I ended up having to have a strange talk with my parents. Fortunately they are some of our best friends as well as parents and they understood, but I hated to have to say that there are times to retreat from defending us.

I’m glad for once, though, to say Alan listens to such talk between adults as intently as he listens to being asked to clean his room. Though Brian pays close attention, I’m also glad to say he seems to regard this encounter like one would regard a crazy guy on the street yelling at a fire hydrant. But how long until one of our opponents goes beyond this point with our kids there, a point which is already well past common decency?

I’m back in defensive mode again, nonetheless. I’m feeling like this can’t be put behind us; as others have said, something has changed. From here on the pressure will only build as our families grow and make their way through the schools; it will build as our children marry your children. It will build until something breaks, but no one will stop fighting for their family, and maybe no one will stop fighting for a faith that another man's family should be legally less than theirs. I just worry when something gives, it won't be pretty.

Okay, I'm upset and I'm officially at the rambling point. But just consider the white powder incident, the burning of an anti-prop 8 sign, acts of vandalism on the anti-8 side. Consider words like this, from Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, meant to mislead minorities into fighting each other:

"Tragically, some opponents of Prop. 8 who claim to cherish tolerance and civil rights are unabashedly trampling on the rights of others. Protests and boycotts have taken place against a Hispanic restaurant owner in Los Angeles, African American religious leaders in the Bay Area, and a musical theater director in Sacramento, among many others."

For the record Mr. Prentice, free speech, marching in public streets, and even boycotts are not violations of your rights. You know that, though, don't you? This is just some PR game for you. You're not saying the civil rights movements of times past were conducted by those who "claim to cherish tolerance and civil rights" but were "unabashedly trampling on the rights of others" with their boycotts and protests, right? If we were to, say, vote to make your marriages illegal, you'd have a case, but this is just a shameful attempt to stoke hatred and get groups that have been traditionally held down to hold each other down.

I mean, just look at how ugly it is both when you zoom in and out. How does it find an end? And is this calming down or revving up? Wish I knew.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Inter Solstice

Long time blog readers may remember last Christmas I got you all presents, some irrigation water and some public radio to share, and I hope you enjoyed them.

I was very happy to get gifts in return... from some of you, and I in no way think less of the those who wouldn't get me anything, even though I wasn't asking for much at all, and it would have been totally easy just to get me a measly mosquito net or something; I'd have shared it with your other readers even.

Anyway, I'm sure you had your reasons.

But darn it, I'm not giving up. In fact, I'm pushing it further and we (yes that we means you too) are going to create a new holiday.
The holiday is the Inter Solstice (it was an available domain name :-)) and here are the preliminary holiday traditions:
1. When. The Inter Solstice is celebrated on the Winter Solstice, of course, with the giving of gifts presented in a blog post, comment, tweet, or so on. This year the Inter Solstice will fall on the 21st of December (at 11:59 AM UT, for our orthodox celebrants).

2. What. All Inter Solstice gifts are charitable and tax-deductible donations of any size, given in the name of your digital friends. Learn how to get your Inter Solstice shopping and gift wrapping done, here, and get your gifts out early that day so others may have a chance to reciprocate.

3. Who. Inter Solstice is nondenominational, requiring only a provisional belief in the sun and a vague understanding of the internets. There is no reason to worry if your friends or followers celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or nothing at all; we're all under the sun.

4. Appropriate Gifts. Inter Solstice is nonpartisan. You have a lot of different online friends and lurkers, some who hate everything you stand for, right? Be honest. So, how do you find a gift they'll all enjoy? As with art or pornography, you know it when you see it. Oxfam and Toys for Tots are probably kosher, for example, but celebrants should stay clear of donations to, say, organizations like the Family Research Counsel or Planned Parenthood. You can find gift ideas here.

5. Guilt. As with many traditions, guilt is a significant part of Inter Solstice. A life-saving vaccination is a life-saving vaccination, regardless of whether it came from spontaneous charity or grotesque ego manipulation. And really, what kind of person refuses to get their friends a present on the holidays, right? You don't want to be thought of as some unmannered good-for-nothing, do you? You see, shameless pandering is an Inter Solstice staple and should be used to spread charity like a virus. You could help do that by listing your gifts and recipients, here.

We here at InterSolstice.org hope you will consider celebrating and expanding this fledgling hint at a holiday. You can show your appreciation for your friends, encourage charity in others, and make a difference in people's lives when they need it the most.

Contact us; we'd love to hear your suggestions on how to build on Inter Solstice traditions. Maybe you could share a neat new gift wrapping graphic, or help build some elaborate and false mythology around the day. Or you can simply share an Inter Solstice miracle (Like experiencing a preternatural lack of spam for a week after donating or something... I don't know what to expect; it's a new holiday).

See some suggestions for how to get shopping, here, and thank you.
I'm looking for:

1. Of course, about a week before the solstice I hope other will indicate on their blog, facebook, what have you that they will be celebrating, in order to give warning to others. Then I hope they do celibate in the (1st annual) traditional manner on the solstice. You have a lot of online friends for whom you should get gifts on the holidays but many would freak out if they got a package in the mail from on online personality, right? Instead, get a charitable donation in their name and encourage them to do the same. Like I said, lets spread charity it like a virus.

2. Help me make the site work and presentable. The draft is here, and please note not all of it is working but you can get the idea. I've been working on it for a while but got sidetracked with the election. Don't, for example, use the contact form there, just yet; you can send your suggestions by email or comment here. I really want this to work and spread charity, particularly at this time when many families are in financial trouble. So can you give me your suggestions? What would make this into a substantial internet meme and spread charity? I'll take anything: criticism on the color pallet, new "traditions", ideas for interactivity, new graphics...

And consider this your traditional Inter Solstice warning; you will all be getting a gift from me for the holidays and I want one back :-).

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Day Off

So how did this guy:end up with and fall so deeply in love with this guy:
?

Beats me. It has to have something to do with having terrific luck, as it certainly wasn't common interests in music.

On Rob's "bucket list" was to see a Madonna concert live. Now, I do not enjoy Madonna's music. I appreciate her support for our rights, but I'm sorry, Madonna; I'll not try to account for my taste. I took a bullet yesterday and we went to her concert in Vegas (yes, this was very similar to our Cher experience but Rob promises me he didn't know Madonna was coming when he forced me to see Cher in Vegas months ago).

First, a couple things about our room: Notice anything odd about this list of outrageously priced minibar items?

Weird, huh?

After an exhaustive search, we finally found it, just above the m & ms and next to the soda (note: not because we were in the market, but out of pure scientific curiosity). For all those as Pollyanna-ish as us, it turns out a $25.00 "intimacy kit" fits into a 3 inch black cube, and is, perhaps contrary to one's intuition, kept refrigerated. Other than those facts, we dared not touch it to better determine the contents by weight and so on, but I still wonder how they packed intimacy in there.

Next, look who was peaking through our window all day and night:
Utah's own Donny and Marie.... Um, yeah... it was kind of unnerving.

Anyway, Rob had been waiting for this for months and, when he bought the tickets, he didn't check the arena's seating diagram. The only seats left (the sale of which wouldn't necessitate involving a loan officer) were these:

Madonna looks much shorter in real life.

At least Rob had a good time. I spent the concert trying not to grimace too apparently, but my man knows me. When it was done he told me I was a good husband for the sacrifice; that made it worth the trip for me.

One thing though, I figured out the best analogy I can think of for Las Vegas. She's like a beautiful, drunk woman who keeps hitting on me. I know she's pretty; I know other men would be all over her, but me? I'm just not Vegas-oriented and I find her come-ons to be, well, annoying. And look girl, even if I was into that sort of thing, I think you got some personal issues; I mean, your streets are littered with pictures of naked women, you come off as desperate, and, frankly, you smell like an ash tray. I'm just say'n; get some help.
That city is impressive in it's marketing and artifice, but it can really get to me, between the pensioners throwing money down the drain to build up fake statues of liberty, and the impromptu weddings, where our 16-years together mean nothing to the city.

We were walking down the strip before the concert and I was trying to keep from showing my discomfort, in the hope of not bringing Rob down in the midst of one of his dream events. But he turned to me and said, "After this, let's not come to Vegas again." See, even despite Madonna, we're a great match :-).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

1. I kind of feel cheated out of experiencing the full scope of what Tuesday meant for our country. I just want to say again how excited and happy I am to see some of the barriers be broken down for racial minorities and to have a president who gives me hope for what's to come.

2. For our families specifically, the president elect has said he'd work to repeal DOMA, and allow our gay men and women in uniform to serve openly. But on top of that, for a great part, this election was about the future of the judicial branch, especially the Supreme Court, and the future of our rights will be in their hands. Obama makes more likely the appointment of justices who will actually take the equal protection assurances in the US Constitution seriously. I know... I can hear the anti-gay activists now... Doesn't it suck when activist judges uphold some of our most basic and sacred rights delineated in our most supreme law? How dare they?

3. Equal rights won in Connecticut. Okay, most of us here on the west coast will probably never live there, but we can be married in Ct and voters defeated a call to constitutional convention which was aimed at banning our marriages, 60% to 40%. That's substantial.

4. California could really be seen as good news too. The hard part was losing rights we had, having our marriages put in legal limbo, and that we were so far ahead in the polls until those demonstratively deceptive ads began. Yes, that'll sting for a long time. Nevertheless, the vote was only 52% to 48%, when in 2000 the Ca voters passed a marriage ban 61% to 39%. We are moving along with the help of many straight friends and allies, and so is public opinion. This was nearly our opponents' last chance--if the trends hold we will be past 50/50 public aprooval of our marriages by the next presidential election. They won, but that was not nearly our last chance.

5. We're hurt but look at what we have built in each other now. The gay community in Utah has come together so strongly and there's such a sense of camaraderie; it's heartening to me. As a 15-year-old kid coming out I never got to see a role model of what it meant to be a gay man. It's not that they weren't out there, but they weren't visible in Utah. Most of the gay people I eventually came to know kept quite; many hated themselves anyway and believed their church when they were taught their attraction and propensity for love was more of a weakness and an addiction than a strength and a blessing. An impromptu march of thousands in down town SLC would have been unimaginable.

When I think of myself, in my despair as a teenager, thinking I was the only one in my state, and then I think of a boy in a similar state reading the paper yesterday... Well, the hard work of many in the gay community from several generations has brought about a sea change here, despite ardent opposition; it's a sea change which I'm sure is saving lives. There is, simply, a lot to be thankful for, even here in Utah. Maybe especially here in Utah.

6. Finally and of course, there is a new Bond movie coming out :-)... I'm inexplicably compelled by the new Bond, James Bond...

Anyway, Always look on the bright side of life, right?

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

(Do the kids nowaday still watch Monty Python? :-))

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mutual Respect and Civility

So we went last night to the rally at the public park but left before the march (my dad said he was going regardless and so we had to tag along to keep him from getting into a fight ;-)). I was absolutely amazed at the turnout (the paper says about 3,000). In all, it seemed to go well, peaceful. I only saw a couple signs on our side that made me wince, which is much better than I can say for what we heard from the counter protesters.

The atmosphere was actually very pleasant, and there was a wonderful sense of solidarity and community, with people from all walks of life from infants to senior citizens; I recommend you read the article on it for specifics. I also see you can watch one of our fellow moho's on tv :-).

In response, the LDS church put out one of their characteristic press releases. It could stand a closer look:

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

Let me try to help explain.

The LDS church isn't experiencing a backlash for "speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election." We are all for your rights, to speak, vote, marry, have equal treatment from our government, and so on. Try, though, to think of the difference between speaking up in favor of, say, tax reduction for everyone verses speaking up in favor of tax reduction for white people. Maybe think back to when it was racial integration that the LDS leadership was speaking out against. There is a difference.

Simply, what has people upset is your hope to use your vote to take rights away from others. That is bound to cause some constitutionally protected "speaking up" to come back at you, and it's disturbing you find that exercise of free speech "disturbing".

As for being singled out, can you really not see the irony? Of all the problems with marriage, you pick on such an easy target as us, such a perpetual minority as our families and make fighting our marriages just under the importance of tithing. Most of the churches fighting against and for marriage equality do not have a centralized leadership to protest, but the route by which most LDS money got into making all those deceptive pro-proposition 8 ads (which you could have denounced) is clear. The cause can be traced to downtown Salt Lake City. If we lived in the Vatican and it was part of the US there would be protesters there too, but, come on, it's too late to deny the LDS church didn't have a big hand in this, right? You worked hard and did "all you can" to do what you did to our families, right? I mean, your argument isn't that you shouldn't be held morally responsible because other churches were doing it too, is it?

Furthermore, in Utah, the LDS church and many of its members have been behind a whole host of anti-marriage and anti-adoption laws for our community; history here doesn't start with Prop 8. Prop 8, where you took rights we had away, just pushed it over the edge. If not for your "speaking up" (which, yes, of course, you have a right to) our families would be in much better shape here; many of our children could get health insurance and our stay-at-home parents would have security.

We have a right to speak out in our public streets, and at least we aren't wanting to legally restrict your marriages in your private homes and churches, as you've done to us. To me, that would be unconscionable, and so I hope you can rest assured.

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

They did. Millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation voted against Proposition 8. The difference is that those who voted for Prop 8 voted to take away some of those "sacrosanct and individual rights," which you finally seem concerned about. Now it's kind of odd you feel entitled to ask for respect for them when you hold them. You'll get it nonetheless--we'll stand up for your right to vote and your right to equal rights--but it's just odd you don't see the irony.

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

Again, really? You think people are mad because you were "part of the democratic process"? You have no concept that your actions hurt, in real legal, financial and emotional terms, real people, families, parents and children? You don't see that you've targeted the most sacred institutions for us? Being upset because people gathered at a public park and then walked on public streets around your headquarters, seems to show an absolute lack of empathy and understanding for what you've done to what is sacred to us.

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

I wish you believed that. I wish the LDS church acted in "mutual respect and civility" in the first place. But we all know what's been said about our families, and we all know what you've done, and it was far from respectful of us or our families. You can't be taken seriously when you hit a guy and then call "no hitting", right?

Anyway, I hope that clears some things up for the PR department ;-).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Protest

Tonight there will be a protest at the SLC LDS temple.

Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, states "Friday's message will be one of hope for steady progress towards equality and fairness - a message everyone can believe in."

I hope she's right, and I hope the crowd keeps civil. Actually, I'm not really that worried it will get out of hand. We know a lot of those in leadership positions and I think I know that they'd keep it peaceful and I feel near sure it will remain that way.

I wish this all wasn't happening, though, and that we all could just live and let live. I also understand you just can't take it without defending yourself. I know first hand the damage done. They have played a huge part in stepping into the affairs of our homes, lives, and churches, legally harming many of our families. In rhetoric, they have insulted our marriages, our families, and even our children, and made it all worse in then asking for our respect for the incivility (for example: Chedner's blog and isocrat's blog). I could see how a peaceful protest outside their church may be a reasonable response.

But, remember who we are dealing with. They are our families, and they are our neighbors, and most are holding good intentions. Yes, they've brazenly broken the Golden Rule, and there is reason to respond, but it will do no one any good personally or politically if we do what they've done to us and start getting in the way of their rights.

Simply, I hope anyone going tonight will consider some suggestions:

1. Please, please let's do not harass anyone going into or out of the temple. We cannot get in anyone's face and we certainly cannot even touch another person (unless it's for a consensual hug, or possibly even a non-french kiss).

2. Let's keep from using the words "hate" and "bigot" on signs. They do not accurately describe the other side, and we, of all people, should know that telling your opponent what they feel directly when they don't feel it is the best way to shut their ears and tell them you don't know what you're talking about. They are "prejudiced" against our families by definition, and they are making choices that a bigot against us would also make, but they (well, most) are not experiencing the emotion of hate that typically goes with the word. In fact, the cloud and the silver lining here is that they feel they are being loving and good.

3. Let's try instead to tell them what they've done to our families, our couples, and our children, instead of telling them we're angry because of it. They know we're upset, in our satanically inspired rebellion against all that is good :-). More and more, though, I'm sure they do not understand, and this may be one more opportunity to get them to hear us. Or it could be just a PR mess; it's up to us.

4. Let's stay off their property. It's theirs, they own it, and can say who gets to be on it, even on that little bit of Paris where our public main street once ran ;-). Anyone has every right to speak at and be on public property; we all certainly have a right to gather and protest. And sure, I know they fight to take our rights and harm our homes, but let's not get into a tit-for-tat; let's show them, by example, what it looks like to respect the rights of others.

--To assure that end, please, let's leave our anger home. If we cannot go there with our calm wits about us, we should not be there. Sadness will inevitably tag along, and that's fine. Righteous indignation? Okay, but anger will likely end in more sadness. Yes, they are doing wrong and doing harm, but they have their reasons. As I always remind myself, being angry at people is as reasonable as being angry at the weather, the main difference being anger at the weather isn't likely to make the weather worse.

Anyway, I hope this all goes well, peaceful. We do not know if we'll be there or not. I can see reasons on both sides. But, as we'll be having dinner a block away tonight, I probably won't be able to keep my curiosity from letting me peak in. If I do it will be my second time protesting at a LDS temple (please note, the first time was a 100% complete accident :-)).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm Just Listen'n to Cold Wind Whistl'n

Rob woke up yesterday, and didn't really need to ask about the proposition, just by looking at my sad mug. We shared a long hug and started our day again.

Brian woke up at the same time and ran straight to the paper to see who won the presidential race. He was thrilled about Obama, and that, as was inevitable, lifted my spirits. Alan wasn't too upset that McCain lost, though; he always had a problem with McCain's position on cap and trade anyway.

Yesterday was, of course, tough. It's not everyday you're forcibly divorced, or at least that your marriage is made legally ambiguous (though, I'm pretty sure it happens more often to my family than most).

I can be a boob; I cry all the time for joy or sentimentality. If one of my kids asks for one too many hugs before they go to bed, I'll tear up. I haven't cried, though, for sorrow for a long long time, and I felt a spell under a lump in my throat off and on all day, just waiting to get out, but I was hardly without the kids or coworkers around. I stupidly agreed last week to help a PhD candidate practice her defense yesterday and I'm sure I was of little help.

I feel like I'd benefit by finding a quiet place and just letting it out, but that also just doesn't really feel like my place right now.

It didn't help to come home and into my office to check my email to find Rob has been looking at home prices in Ma and Ct. I'm not sad that he wants us to move; if that's what he really wants in a couple months I'll support it. It will be tough living here after what the predominant religion has helped accomplish. Things are just different. I'm sad that he's upset that much with our local culture; I'm hurt that he's hurting. I'm sad he's resenting his parents; even though they didn't support the church on prop 8 directly, he can't get past their financial support in tithing. They did help pay for this. I can't say I'm feeling much different about some of my family either, but these are our kid's grandparents. I'm sure/hoping things will look different in a couple days though.

When I think of my family, I feel a swell inside that seems like it could change the world for them. But it can't; I can't; it just feels that way and I know it and that is what's getting to me now, my inability to defend them. If a big organization wants to, they can put out a huge media campaign and change enough minds to hurt us, even in a way they wouldn't want their family hurt. All the power I have is bound up in the limits of a body and a piece of paper. The constitutional guarantee that it is our right to have equal protection under the law sounds noble and substantial, but that can be made into just ink on paper, if the majority wants, and I can be overpowered, if only a couple men want. At least I have it much better than many other troubled fathers through history who could do little but watch the world harm their family. Still, I'll do what little I can.

What's weird is that I can feel that well documented change in body chemistry that occurs with a substantial loss in humans. All the sudden the "lizard brain" in me is in defensive mode, even on unrelated items. Our alarm sensor on our front door had been broken for months and I've just felt absolutely secure in our neighborhood, like it's no big deal. Yesterday, I couldn't sleep until I fixed it. Various worries of harm coming to my family are suddenly coming to mind. I even had to check for coyote tracks this morning for the first time in a long time, after the dog had been gone too long.

This need to protect your family can be stressful and compelling. It's an obsession I don't care to give up, but I feel, with each loss or inability to do so, a toll.

I've noticed my blood pressure is up and so is my pulse rate, another consequence of such a change in body chemistry. Of course this makes me wonder again about about Utah needing a MSDS. Research shows incidences of discrimination lead to heart disease and various other life-shortening maladies seen in the African American community (see here and here for example). Discrimination, apparently, shortens lives. I worry I'm not only losing legal battles but time with each of these legal hits. What are you going to do, though, right? Stop caring? Stop fighting the good fight and run off to a friendlier jurisdiction? (well... :-))

Gee, I'm being gloomy :-), but what happened to gay and lesbian headed families in the US yesterday is a sad setback. As certain as we can predict the track of the sun through the sky, I know, given a week, I'll be back to my regular self and this blog can lighten up. Bear with me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

...a Man Who Bruises

My family has lost a lot of battles. Regardless of how this election ended up, looking back on that is how I should begin here.

We moved back to Utah, just in time to find a law passed that made it so only single gay men could adopt, not couples. With great emotional and regular effort, we fought our way past that to become parents. After we welcomed our boys into our home, there were then about three anti-marriage, anti-civil union laws passed in our state, pushed by LDS, and meant to make sure we had no "marriage-like" rights as a couple. We went up to the capitol on each to beg. Each time we were met with indifference or worse. Then we had our Amendment 3 which constitutionally took away all marriage rights and civil unions. Each time those laws passed handily, in the name of God, or family, or even marriage. Each time it was a kick in the head. Each time we regrouped and moved on.

Now Proposition 8 has passed, 52 to 48, and we may be once again without legal rights as a couple anywhere in the US, save those measly agreements a man could have with, say, his attorney. It is again difficult to take, and admit the world isn't what it should be and that this country isn't really the place where all have equal protection under the law. It's just tough to wrap your head around it.

I understand how it passed, though. I think the pro-prop 8 camp summed it up:
"We caused Californians to rethink this issue," Proposition 8 strategist Jeff Flint said. Early in the campaign, he noted, polls showed the measure trailing by 17 points. "I think the voters were thinking, well, if it makes them happy, why shouldn't we let gay couples get married. And I think we made them realize that there are broader implications to society and particularly the children when you make that fundamental change that's at the core of how society is organized, which is marriage," he said.
He's greatly right; we were going to keep equality under Ca state law, and their ads, backed by an influx of so much LDS money, did make a lot of good intentioned Californians "rethink the issue." Mr. Flint, though, didn't get people to "realize that there are broader implications"; he got people to fear us, their neighbors, to fear that we wanted to hurt their rights, to fear ghosts and mirages of "broader implications". He got them to believe they are the victim. Unfortunately, the lies worked, from the Boston Catholic Charities case to closing down LDS temples. They got the public to believe our case was about something as insipid as making gays "happy" or wanting "social acceptance", and convinced them that separate but equal isn't the oxymoron it inevitably is in law. Simply, let me say it again, they won by lies for which there should be guilt, no two ways about it (but how can you feel guilt about lying while doing God's work, right? ;-)).

The "fundamental core" of society here has been debased, not supported. Sacrifice, family, love and dedication are all made into a legal second class if the anatomy is off, and that sends a message that marriage isn't important to give to some families. Also they've set a precedence of putting into their constitution a retraction of and limitation on personal rights. All should be worried the tools they brought to the legal playing field are going to now find wider use, but I'm pretty sure they aren't worried right now.

Mr. Flint is also right about the broader implications for children, though wrong on which children he's worried about. Marriage doesn't make our children pop into existence, but treating our families like subordinates will hurt many children, and those for Prop 8 will still have to face the fact that their child will go to school with mine and learn that homosexuality is out there. What's worse for them is that their children will learn what their parents did to their friends' families. When the moral tide rises, and it is undeniably rising, even their children won't be buying what they're selling, and they'll be regarded as, say, I regard my well-intentioned, though undeniably bigoted grandmother.

Anyway, et cetera, et cetera, right?

I'm writing this now while my family sleeps. I don't want to be the one to tell this to my husband, but I will be. I don't want our kids to see the worry on my face. So I'm going to focus on what we have.

My family has lost a lot of battles, but I'll still start my day with my husband's embrace. I'll be greeted with our children's smiling faces. Family is simply stronger than "pro-family" groups can understand, and we'll find another way, if we need to. Nothing makes our inevitable victory in the face of so many lost battles seem more inevitable than the thought of the three of them.

What's better is that Brian is going to wake up and find his guy won; Barack Obama will be the next president. We have lost battles, but just think of how many battles the African American community has lost, how many times they felt beat down and were literally beat down. Today a man from their community, and apparently a great man (my distrust for politicians notwithstanding), is set to be the leader of the free world.

I am overwhelmed with a joy that dulls the sorrow for my family when I think of how that may feel to the African American who went through those tough time and thought this day would and could never come in the US. I am happy my boys will grow up with the first president they really know being a minority, and I hope this signals the death of much of our racist past.

I'm awake this morning in pain and bruised, but still proud of the US, even if our greatest ideals remain unrealized for some families, for my family. We will get there.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

At the Polling Place

I ended up spending a good deal of my day as a poll watcher, which would be about as exciting as watching a pole, if not for the climate of election day.

I was meant to be sure no campaigning was going on at the polling place, make sure provisional ballots were offered, and to see who had voted, so that we could call and remind (harass) those who haven't made it to the polls yet.

By noon, well over half the registered voters in my precinct had voted, so the turnout looks to be great.

Anyway, so there I was doing my duty when one of the poll workers asked me who I'm helping and I told her. She then said that person must be a Democrat because she didn't know the name, followed up with "I'd never vote for a Democrat, no matter who they were." Fortunately no voter was at our table, but still, that's at least a violation of the spirit of her duties. She knew it too, as after she said it she wanted to make sure to point out that no voters were around.

And it got odder, I had to listen to a whole conversation about why the Catholics don't care about orphans like the LDS and how Methodists don't take "care of their flock" when they're sick. All in the sweetest, most respectful terms, of course; boy, we know how to insult here in Utah :-).

I then stepped away to check in at another table and came back to hear her say something like "...just hope they don't get a super majority; that would be scary". She said this to a voter (one who she apparently knew, but still!).

To top it off she started in on Proposition 8 (yes, even and of course here in Utah). Words like "disgusting" were used. Talking about the menace our families posed, apparently to everything decent, she ended with "What else would you expect from those people?"

I didn't say anything; I was instructed to not discuss any politics there at all and so I swallowed my anger and kept at my tedious work. Importantly, the polling place is as near to sacred ground a government can get in my mind. I kept to my job and away from discussing any politics, save to remind her of our instructions. But it was interesting to know how some people talk about us when they don't think their bigotry can be heard.

Anyway, just wanted to vent I guess, after holding it in.

Finally, Nov 4

We just got the boys off to school, I'm taking the morning off of work, and am about to head out to help get the vote out. Yes, I'm that unhealthily obsessed.

Day light saving time, McCain, Obama, and Proposition 8 have had me up since 4. I don't much want to think of it, but tomorrow we may once again be without a legal marriage, equal rights, responsibilities, or protections anywhere in the US (or maybe not, even if Prop 8 passes). I suppose it'd be silly to not think about that, when the rights of the three most important people in your life are on the line.

I just can't stop my fascination with some of the reasons people are using to justify treating our families this way; the scientist in me keeps running through them in an infinite loop, when I should know better by now; it's not science.

Tomorrow we may have to regroup, redraw plans, add one more governmentally disregarded contract of paper to our collection. But we'll still have our indelible contract of spirit. We may have to start again. But we will start again; we can't afford not to and will keep working to the day we have equal rights in our law. We could buy a trip to Connecticut? Canada? While I'm sure we'll have to move from Utah for this in our lifetime (unless SCOTUS steps in and upholds the 14th amendment for all Americans), we'll still have to figure out if it's worth it to move elsewhere right now, wherever that is. California was really the only place, other than Utah, we wanted to live, for its job opportunities for me and for its relative proximity to family in Utah. Or maybe it will all work out and I woke up worrying about my family's legal fate at 4 for nothing. Who knows.

What's clear is that, if you don't vote, you're a jerk. That's right, I'm calling you out.

So vote. Vote well (meaning how I voted or would vote ;-)). Anyway, happy election day and good luck.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I Can See Better By Candlelight

Last night was the candlelight vigil to suppot LGBT individuals and families. With all that's going on with regards to our local predominant faith, Proposition 8, and our community, it was a needed event.

Before the vigil, we broke bread with some of those who came to support us. There was my parents, my aunt, my sister, and niece (and their dates and spouses). I was specifically touched to be joined by a family of four from our boy's school. It's one thing to have inclusion and acceptance in their school; it's another thing to have active support like that. (If you saw Rob talking to a handsome guy who wasn't me, no worries; it was the dad of this family:-))

We met more friends and family at the rally. It was raining off and on and I was surporised by the significant turn out.

We were also pleased to meet a bunch of fellow blogger there. And okay, I was 5 minuets late to the meeting spot because dinner went long, but where were you, Edgy? I'm beginning to think you're an elaborate webbot or something.

It was a pleasure meeting all of those never met before and still a pleasure to see familiar faces :-). I wish we could have talked more, but I spent the evening chasing children and going between family and friends. Altogether, our kids had to go pee 5 times in that hour! I hardly got to hear any of the talks. That'll teach us about not keeping an eye on the drink consumption at dinner, right?
Still, that really wasn't the point for me; I know the issues. I know why we were all there, what the LDS church thinks, and why we disagree and want to support the LGBT community.

I really just needed to chase my children around a crowd of people who we could count on, people who want a society were families are welcome and the Golden Rule applies. I needed to see that here, in Utah. I needed to be around a crowd that was missing that terrifying ability to "lovingly" damage their neighbors and even their children for religion. I needed to see many people here aren't so willing to pick up the infinite ego by proxy of believing they are doing and know, by book or leadership, what omnipotence and omniscience say is best for another man's family.

Too often I wake too early by the notion that I can't stop those who would turn love into a weapon, ignore evidence and even their conscience, and use strong faith for their excuse--so many people in history have been powerless to stop much worse being done to them under those banners. I worry at those times that I'm not able to protect my family, because there is no good defense from "God says so"; that's why it's used. But last night I got to see hard evidence that many others will have our back, and we have theirs.

And it worked. Yesterday, thinking of the polls and the possibilities and the precedence of taking rights away from us as a group, I was becoming more and more stressed. I walked into dinner last night feeling worried, but went home from the vigil relaxed, and sure the arc will bend towards justice for our families too, some day, even if not Tuesday (VOTE!).

After the talks by the Mormon mothers who put on the event, we all walked around the block in solidarity (funny how such ritual helps so much). We walked a bit, but this is what the view of that looked like while trying to find a restroom for Brian across the street :-):

Sunday, November 02, 2008

It's Already Happened

On Halloween we were driving from my mom's house to my sister's house to trick-or-treat. I was, as I have been most of my waking hours these days (and some hours when I should not be awake), thinking about Proposition 8, the culture here, and what our options will be. Ultimatums have been given in my family. My parents are becoming increasingly upset with other family, while I'm feeling more detached and resigned about them. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about living here.

I'll not deny my emotions are near the surface here. While I was thinking on this and driving, out from the back seat, Brian says, "I love [my school]; it's the best school ever," and suddenly there's a lump in my throat at the idea of moving him away from his friends and teachers.

But then, he started talking about friends in his school that have divorced parents. One of his good friends is having a tough time with the parent's back and forth. Brian ended by telling us "But you and daddy will never divorce."

"No we wouldn't", I assured him. We promised and have kept it for many more years than most all his friend's parents. He even got to see us do it again in California, and I'm sure we'll always be the other's spouce, come what may. As an explanation for why some people "fall out of love", we told him we work to keep our relationship strong, and this brought us into a whole talk about our responsibilities to our family, and led into a discussion about how, for family, you'll often compromise your desires as an individual to keep the institution healthy (some of the divorces he's known of ended for some less than great reasons, e.g. cheating, desire for "more freedom").

Now, I know there are some good reasons for a divorce; I don't mean to indiscriminately disparage people who've done so. It's just, 6-year-olds aren't known for nuance and I wanted to send the message that a marriage is not something that should be built with an end in mind.

Still, I find it odd no one is out to shelter kids "as young as 5" from being "exposed to learning about divorce in school. At least divorce is something on which you don't need wild theories about how it'll "threaten traditional marriage"; it is literally the end of a marriage. Anyway, here we are having this in depth discussion about families splitting up, about how marriages mean something else for us (not unlike what the pro-prop 8 folks are warning about), and yet no one in Utah, with our higher than average divorce rate, is trying to stop legal divore or such conversations with children using anything near a constitutional amendment. No one I've heard expresses near that much worry about these conversations with their kids, but they worry about talking about my little family, driving around on Halloween?

Isn't that odd? Some people honestly need to have a notion of a person's anatomy before they can decide what's worth promoting to their children in marriage and family? I just have a hard time understanding how that can be.

It's also ironic how easy it actually is to teach your children that some families are different than ours. They get it; it's not hard. Our kids don't know a thing about "gay marriage", and I'm not really sure I know how that's significantly different from "traditional marriage", but they know about marriage. They know our marriage is different; it's different from the terminated unions of some of their friend's parents and of some of our family, but it's not because their parents are gay.

When Brian was done talking about it, Rob said to me quietly, "I just wish everyone would choose a traditional marriage like ours, so that we didn't have to explain this to the kids". :-)

He can always change my mood for the better.

(and we'll be there tonight come rain or snow)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Walking the Neighborhood and Extorting Candy With Bounty Hunters

Here we are about to head out last night.
Aren't my little bounty hunters adorable? Boba Fet was always the coolest looking Star Wars character to me as a kid.

Me, well, isn't it obvious? I'm dressed as, uh, a...? Joe the Scientist? Average Gay Man? Guy Who Forgot to Shave That Morning?

Anyway, I hope you all had as much fun as we did. Remember, parents, your kids brought home a lot of tooth-rotting candy. It would be negligent of you to not help them eat it.