Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pocket Change

It turns out the LDS church just reported about $190,000 in donations to pass prop 8. I blogged on the details of that at isocrat, here.

The funny thing is I knew they gave more than the couple grand they were initially claiming; everyone did, right? But I find I was happier with the illusion.

Rob's mom is staying with us and I find this news to be kind of upsetting. That's where some of her money went: to deciding on those commercials, threatening California parents that children in school may talk about the same sort of family that her grandkids have, if they didn't act to forcible divorce her son and I.

I know the LDS people we love didn't mean to pay for such. I know most don't even want to. However, many believe it's like a supernatural necessity to give money to the LDS church. I get that it probably breaks them up too, and I'm not angry at her for it; though I'd much rather family not fund legally hurting family. Can't the LDS church set up separate accounts :-): one for families who don't want to pay to harm the gay couples in their clan, and another for those who don't mind?

Anyway, I just liked it better when the illusion was that their inadvertent contribution was more like a fraction of a cent, than anything that could be shown in real coins.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Solving a Mystery

Brian came home with a little plastic ring the other day. I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought it was a piece of junk, the sort Brian is always appropriating as a toy; he’s been using a glue cap as a tiny bowler hat for days now :-).

Eventually Rob took a closer look and found that it was a CTR ring. For those who do not know, CTR stands for “Choose the Right” and it’s a LDS thing; around here you can often pick out the LDS kids by such rings. It’s kind of like the LDS cross, a mark of the group, without the blood and drama.

Anyway, we had a mystery to solve:
[names have been changed to protect those with cooties]

I set out. “Hey Bub, where did you get that ring?”

“John gave it to me.”

John? We don’t know a John from soccer. New kid? I went on, “Is John your friend at school?”

“No. John is mean.”

Yikes! “Mean? What does he do?”

“Today, he yelled at Jenny and made her cry when we were playing a game.” Brian said.

“That’s not nice. John is a student in your class, though?”


“Is John mean like that to all the kids in your class?”, I asked, wanting to be sure Brian wasn’t being picked on.


Okay, so far so good, “Did John give everyone in your class a ring?”

Brian replied, “No, just me.”

So was he picked out specifically to get this ring then? I asked, “Did he say why?”


“Did he say where he got the ring?”

“John said his mom gave it to him.”

Yikes, again! “Did he say his mom told him to give it to you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is that John’s ring? Did he wear it?”

“No, he has one.” Now this all is kind of odd, right? I was under the impression that LDS kids didn’t start wearing CTR rings until after they are baptized (at 8). Am I wrong?

“But he said it’s okay if you have it?”, I asked.


“Did he say what CTR means?”

“No. ”

At that I let it drop. Now, I know what I’m going to do. Brian has since lost interest in it and I’ll just give it to the teacher to give back to John’s mom, or I'll find her when I pick the boys up next. If it was just a kid who gave a plastic ring to a randomly chosen classmate (who's not his friend), then the ring goes back to the mom. I hope she'll tell her son to be more careful with religiously charged gifts to the non-LDS families there. I’m not sure if the JW family, for example, would be calm about this. On the side of paranoia, if it was some attempt to get a missionary foothold in the heathen family, send us a message, or save our children from us, I hope the message will get across to the mom also.

I blogged about a similar event before
, but I’m wondering. Would handing out CTR rings be seen as an acceptable act of LDS proselytizing in school? Would this be bizarre for a parent to initiate, in, say, Provo?

However that ring got on Brian’s hand, the thing that strikes me with this event is how threatening such a little thing felt. I know, I know… “Choose the Right”; how could anyone have a problem with that? I don’t, not with the literal meaning of the words.

It’s all in the code, association, and symbols. I don’t see that CTR in that shield as a symbol of unmitigated good as most here would. The R in that CTR ring doesn’t exactly mean “Right”. Sure, it does mean the same thing in great part. We agree on honesty, kindness, the Golden Rule and so on… But, to me, it’s a long tried tactic of all religions to mix morality with temporal regulations of tradition, convenience, or superstition. Everything from eating bacon to drawing pictures to being a good slave has been attached to, say, “Thou shalt not kill.” Wrapping them in the same package gives them the influence on other humans they’d never hold on their own, though at the price of diluting genuine morality a bit.

For us the problem is that symbol signals being part of a certain faith, placed in the same package as what we teach our children is right. That R in that shield was worn by the bigots who harassed me when I came out, and by the people who claim today hurting my family is a way of shielding themselves. That R means in part to say that Brian’s family should never have existed, that his parents should never have fallen in love and built a home. That R means to use a sheen of morality to undermine our family, to keep all of us from equal legal protections, and to uphold the notion that our relationships are not sacred, that our family belongs at the back of the bus. Worse, that R comes from people who’ve questioned the “moral character” of the amazing and wonderful child who came home wearing it, because of the sex of his parents. It means to teach children, our children, that their family, our union, the institute they depend on most and that will always have their back, is the opposite of R; that it’s evil, something in the LDS leaders' words that’s a “grievous sin” “inspired by the devil” on par with “adultery”, something to “terminate”.

I know many people I love do love this faith and I hate to come off as being so at odds with it that I’d be worried by a tiny plastic symbol. I know it may be impossible to feel it from my shoes as a parent. I also know people can be a part of that faith, and mean the R that we do teach our children, and hold more nuanced positions than what comes out of the press releases and official speeches.

But just think of the ramifications if anyone did successfully convert one of our children. Imagine, for example, if you were a mixed race family and your kid came home wearing a symbol from an organization that said your union was immoral, your children defective, and fought hard to be sure your home can’t have equal legal protections. No matter how much of a sliver that was of the whole teachings, no matter how charitable, moral, without malice, or how much value the members of that organization see in that organization or its symbols, I imagine most all would be worried too, if it was slipped around your child’s finger. Or am I being hypervigilant?

Brian would not understand any of this, of course, and at this point he shouldn’t. All he saw was a cool new ring, maybe one that matched the rings some of his friends were wearing, and I kept all seriousness out of my voice while talking about it. This incident is over, but the issue isn’t. In time they both will feel that pressure to become one of the group, unless we find our way out of Utah soon. I hope, if that day comes, it comes when we all can agree better on what that R stands for.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yesterday, I saw that Rob was tagged in a facebook photo from one of his friends from high school. It was during a stint as a best man, and the date on it was 1992, the year we met. It brought back a rush of fond memories: that awkward and exciting getting-to-know-you phase, that not so awkward first kiss, those many hours up late on the phone with each other... It's hard to imagine a me that didn't know him, but there it was, the most familiar face to me at a time I didn't have it in memory (at least consciously ;-)). In short and of course, it got me all emotional.

Just then the boys got home from karate and ran into the office, and immediately laughed, seemingly with incredulity, at the sight of their dad so... um... how to say such nicely? Unseasoned? They can be blunt; I told Rob at least they don't keep drawing him as bald. I'm not bald!

Anyway, I told them that was their dad when I first met him, and I went over a short version of the story they already know. Alan then asked to see what I looked like at that same time, in that adorable putting-together-a-narrative way he has. The only photo from that year I could find was my high school senior photo, but that worked great; at least we were both in formal wear and both just months before we met.
Looking at them side-by-side I'm struck by both the mystery and fate those 1992 faces hold for us (that, and by the 1990's hair).

We didn't know each other when those non-digital cameras snapped those images. In fact, we both thought we'd never be able have what we have today. But in a matter of months everything would fall into place and our union would never stop growing from there. In a matter of years we'd be changing diapers and rocking our boys to sleep, something that would have struck me, at least, about as possible as the US electing a racial minority for a president in 2008.

Thank goodness for the ignorance of young adults, right? It leaves room for some great surprises.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

MoHos in the News

Yesterday's March for Common Ground Bills
About 300 people braved driving rain to take part in Saturday's march on the Utah Capitol, a peaceful event marking possibly the most expansive legislative push for gay rights in state history.


Said Landa Mavety of Draper who postponed a Saturday of housecleaning to support her 23-year-old lesbian daughter: "There's a long road ahead, but this is a beginning."
Micheal's Photography at BYU
"Last fall, Embree was one of several gay BYU students who posed for portraits shot by photography student Michael Wiltbank. The portraits were hung as part of a class show, but after a week college administrators ordered the portraits taken down.

The move disturbed some BYU arts faculty, as well as critics who lit up the blogosphere with renewed allegations that BYU does not tolerate a free exchange of ideas. Within days, officials declared the portraits acceptable for public display and invited Wiltbank to rehang them."
I guess we must move papers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wet Common Ground

Today we marched from the Salt Lake City building up to the capitol to show support for the common ground bills. Unfortunately the kids had skiing lessons and so I was alone, but it was a great turnout. Utah's GLBT must be serious about their rights to come out in these numbers, in icy rain.

It always does me good to see such a show of solidarity.

The legislative session starts Monday. As always the gay community is probably in for 45 days of stress--forgive me if I become more grumpy. But, as the public opinion in Utah is on our side on several of these bills, we may see some legislators come around and we may have something to celebrate, come Spring. Stranger things have happened.

Ant Farm Update

For all the many people on edge, waiting to know the fate of our ants, have I got a treat for you.

Remember, they had a small funeral:
After which something strange began to radiate from the grave:Well, it took over the farm.
Note the little tunnel about half way down. They dug that in apparent attempt to head off the fungus, which eventually jumped the tunnel. Now some ants are yellow, and others spend all their time on the clean side of the farm.

It was a great chance to teach the kids about quarantine procedures. :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wrongful Death, SB32

Yesterday I wrote "If I could get close enough to the men in power I'd be begging." Yesterday, that's what I did.

Though I did not talk to those LDS church leaders weighing in on law, of course :-). I've no right to speak to those leaders, but lawmakers are another matter, and so I phone banked with Equality Utah yesterday, calling those on the committees that will be hearing SB 32, Wrongful Deaths Amendments.

You can read the bill here.

In short, it would let Rob sue my killer for compensation if, say, I was killed by a drunk driver, something he could only do if he were a legal spouse. As with all the common ground bills, it applies not only to same-sex couples; a dependent nephew could be given grounds for compensation, for example.

To me this bit of equal protection for my family would mean some peace of mind, to know Rob, our main homemaker, could have some recourse to be compensated for my death, if I were killed on my way home from work. Our loss of companionship and support, both emotional and material, is every bit as horrible as the average person's loss and the law should respond with that in consideration when someone acts to take our life, as it would for any other family. We're human too.

I'd like to think, "How could anyone argue?", but they will. Last night, I got the answering machine of almost every lawmaker I called and I left a lot of messages. But, when I did get a person on the line, I heard some resistance. We'll see.

Please though, this bill may be voted on in committee Monday or Tuesday. Call your senator if they are in the committee:

Gov’t Oper. & Political Subdivisions
Peter Knudson, Chair
Greg Bell
Jon Greiner
Scott Jenkins
Dan Liljenquist
Scott McCoy
Luz Robles

Well, you probably don't need to call McCoy... he's the sponsor. You can find their contact info here.

All we need to do for now is express support of SB32 (I'll try to find the IDs for the other bills as they come in). You should probably point out that the bill doesn't only help gay couples; helping gay citizens isn't often seen as a plus here :-). Also, point out the bill should decrease reliance on government welfare and transfer the costs of supporting a homemaker who's breadwinner has been killed on to the killer instead of the taxpayer.

Call your state senator or representative on SB32 and the other "common ground" bills anyway, even if they are not in this committee. Call them on any bill that interests you. With the number of them, I'm sure there are some on which you would want to be heard.

They are your representatives, your voice on what becomes law; they should hear you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Utah Haze

In the Salt Lake Tribune: LDS open to liquor change
"The effort to do away with Utah's private club law received a major boost Wednesday, as LDS Church officials told Republican leaders they would be amenable to an alternative put forward by Utah's hospitality industry."
As a side note in this article about the liquor laws discussed by "GOP legislators and LDS Church officials Wednesday", the Common Ground initiative was mentioned:
"Officials did not specifically address a series of proposed "Common Ground" bills that would extend some rights to same-sex couples, except to refer lawmakers to their previous statements on the topic."
Why take the time to clarify the LDS affirmative position on liberalizing alcohol laws but not where they know people are hanging on their every word for more clarity in their opinion? They know their "previous statements" are being taken in a hundred different ways. They don't need to reference specific bills or even the common ground initiative by name, if it's a face saving thing. I'm sure they know that all they'd need to do is what they've done for alcohol laws. All they need to say to sway some lawmakers is that what they said in the Prop 8 fight in California is also what's right in Utah, otherwise capitol hill takes it as "only in California". So why?

If I could get close enough to the men in power I'd be begging. Real families and children are hurting because of the laws here. This is much more important to Utah homes and families than a guy in a bar being able to buy a drink without first buying a club membership, isn't it? Not that I don't think our liquor laws are ridiculous in parts, but why do bar goers get a big discussion but my husband and my kids get a side note?

I have a hard time figuring out why the LDS church leaders are okay clarifying that they're okay with making it easier to get a drink in Utah but not health care for homemakers. Personally, equal access to health insurance alone would be a huge help to our home and our ability to take care of each other. Making job and housing discrimination on orientation illegal will strengthen many homes too.

It's just tough living here, you know? Knowing my family's legal fate is decided in significant part by such meetings, by a Church to which I do not belong. The sense of helplessness in defense of my family and the frustration it breads is another sort of pollution I take in too much of while here. I think I can feel it take a toll, every bit as much as our polluted air.

Can't those Ca Supreme Court Judges hurry up and decide, so that we can finally decide where best to head? Man, I can smell the ocean breeze of our old home if I think hard enough.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Utah's Environment

I took this picture while driving down from skiing over the weekend, and the air has only gotten worse since.

We breath this. It drives me crazy that our kids are breathing this. The air here is on the substantial move side of our reasons to move list.

Utah actually has the worst air in the nation, and it is, by all the research I've seen, killing people. Maybe we all should take up smoking; at least those pollutants would be filtered.

Some Utah lawmakers this session will try to make sure children can't see alcohol bottles at Chilies, or gay homemakers can't get health insurance, but what about this air? (as I get off my high horse and ready for my commute ;-)).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Under New Management

Today, I'll be meeting with several members of our local minority communities, everyone from the Pacific Islander to the African American groups (yes, there's enough folks to make up a community, even in Utah :-)). We'll be there to discuss projects that have been long under way and various minority issues, as we have each month for several years now.

But today, I'm sure, will be special.

I'm sitting here in anticipation of the vicarious happiness I'll get to take back to work with me, to add to that which I'm feeling directly. I'm happy for my friends who never thought a person from their community could break that barrier, and I'm happy for all those other groups, including mine, to which that barrier now looms not quite as large. Who knows? It sounds impossible to me now, but my kids may see a gay president (aside from Andrew Jackson. I mean, just look at him.).

Say what you will about the political left or right, today means something to all minority communities. It means something good about and to the modern majority too. It shows that our imagination of an impossible to break barrier a generation ago only revealed our ignorance of barriers, of human potential.

Simply, such a step in the decline of racism helps me believe human ethics will continue to evolve towards true morality and the artifacts of our animal past, such as bigotry tribalism and superstition, won't ultimately stand a chance.

Now, let's just hope for a great, fruitful presidency, in practical terms too, symbolism aside. Someone around here (was it Ben?) said a while ago that hope is the agnostic's form of prayer. I'm praying hard.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Small Cuts

When I was getting my BS I was working in a lab around heavy machinery. My lab partner knew I was gay but didn't seem to have a problem with it.

One day I was tightening a nut and slipped and cut my knuckle. This lab partner was viably upset, but to me it seemed not so much by the fact that I was hurt but that I was bleeding. She was stand-offish the rest of the day. I specifically remember, even after I cleaned and bandaged myself up, she wouldn't even take my pen when I asked her to write down a measurement while I couldn't.

Let me add, of course, with anyone, you should not be touching their blood with bare hands, but that was not the case here. It was just my knuckle, I washed up with soap and water, it never touched my pen, and I was bandaged up completely. It was not like I was handing her a bio-hazard, but she acted like I was.

I didn't ask why; I assumed I knew. I assumed she thought I had some horrible infection because I was gay, and I just took it as a lesson on how I, for being gay, can put fear in even the hearts of people who are ostensibly without prejudice. Maybe I was being prejudiced but it seemed she was okay with gay people, just not when she, in her mind, had to risk something for her tolerance.

Also while getting my BS I first learned that homosexuality was associated in some people's minds with harming children. I related that story here, but the point is the same lesson held true there.

No matter who you are, how strongly you adhere to your ethics, how chaste you are, or your utter disgust with some actions, being gay alone will cause unreasonable fear in some minds. When the stakes are high, even allies may take precautions against fears they know to be irrational; they may just think it worth while to walk 10 yards to get their own pen... you know, just in case.

I don't think this is uncommon and it really doesn't bother me much. When the stakes are high all people will fall back on reflex and prejudice. It's hard to blame them; it's something I dare saw we all do. The purpose of prejudice is, in fact, to make a snap judgment when you don't have all the information. It can be wholly unfair and immoral when applied to people, such as the prejudice that was fought by King (happy MLK Day!). Or it can be quite useful when applied to various objects and situations.

As long as a person wants my family to have equal rights to theirs, I can more than forgive some exorcise of irrational fear. It'll diminish in time, with experience. But the odd thing, the thing that caused me to post this is that I find that I'm still quite sensitive to those fears. They affect how I behave today.

E.g. yesterday, sledding, it was so warm I took off my gloves and coat. While racing down the hill, about to beat a 5 year-old :-), I fell and skidded along the icy snow. I was careful to wear my gloves the rest of the day to cover my ice-rashed knuckles, even while plenty warm and fumbling with my hot chocolate. It got me thinking back to that incident in that lab years and years ago, and made me realize, even among gay people, I still reflexively worry they would worry and I try to make sure they don't.

These are little things and they don't much matter to me in the big picture. But I'd like to know. If you are gay, do you find yourself particularly sensitive to such fears in others? Is this a generational thing? A scot-irrational thing?

If you are straight with gay friends, or even gay with gay friends, do you hold such fears? Would you consider taking a pen from a straight friend with a band aid on his hand differently than a gay friend? Please, have no worry of saying so; comment anonymously if you like. I just want to know how much of this is in my head. As long as the actions and the rational part of a person's mind is with us, I don't care about the reflexive fears we cannot control. I just want to know if they really are there, or if it's just my prejudice coming through.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


On the first day of 2009 I decided it was about time I got on facebook. I did this so as to keep from feeling like I was falling behind on the trends, and because I was jealous of all of Rob's friends.

Oddly "To Compete With Spouse" is not one of the check boxes in the profile under "looking for:" and so I left that blank.

In short, I'm a facebook virgin. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with it or what the facebook manners are. Forgive me in advance.

There are a couple odd things, though, that it has made me realize.

For instance, I can't bring myself to say I'm "Interested in:" "Men" in my profile. I'm not. I'm just interested in the one. Call the NATH hotline; I figured out a partial cure to homosexuality! But does that mean I'm in the facebook closet? Even though everyone I know knows I'm gay?

Relationship status? There's no option for "married but in legal limbo or forcibly divorced". I picked married, and claimed my man. That's pretty gay.

Political views? In one line? My longwindedness and cafeteria liberalism cannot abide by that. I left it blank.

Religion? Again, it takes pages of blog posts for me to feel like I've even summed it up. I left it blank at first for that reason, and now I want to change it to agnostic so as to not be in two facebook closets, but does that then send out a notification that I've suddenly switched to agnostic? I don't want my agnostic street cred questioned by our non-religious leaders at our next non-church service.

Personal info? Is it custom to put all that in? Does, say, a coworker care to know that I like Sigur Ros, and No Country For Old Men? I guess I've had fun looking at friends' interests and so I'll get around to it.

And "friends"? I'm so bad with names and I've got people who've sent me requests that I'm not sure I know. Am I making some sort of horrible social insult by not adding them without more info? I can't even see their faces clearly in their pictures.

Then there's the whole being forced to talk about yourself in 3rd person when posting updates. I find it kind of disorienting.

Lastly, there's the world collision thing. I'm guarded with parts of our identity here, for threats I've received. But we have had no threats for a long while, other than those that come at every gay-headed family by vote. So yeah, it's probably time to let the two worlds of my blog and the rest mingle. As it's a one-way mingling though, I'm not dropping my alter ego, out of caution and habit.

It's not like we're near anonymous in the world at large, anyway. I squeeze an editorial into a paper or end up with a soundbite on the TV with my full name right under it at least once a season. Several of you have even been to the gay bat cave that is our home.

Besides, I have no choice; fellow mohos have found me.

The only horrible thing, though, is that they found Rob too! I will never have more friends than him if you keep adding him along with me!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Friend....

Rob called me yesterday while I was at work and asked me if I was a straight, anti-gay rights spy, like some mix between Ted Haggard and James Bond. Had he been sleeping with the enemy?

Now, I want to be clear. I am not straight. I have never been straight. I don't even have a wide stance.

While I have many straight friends, who I love with all my heart, I do not even condone their lifestyle or encourage that perverted predilection under which they suffer. Really. I'm so moral that I want to keep them from or annul the legal rights that strengthen their families (or at least that's what it would seem us gays were out to do by what Rob told me next).

After I assured Rob that I was truly gay (by reciting Olivia Newton John's part to"Hopelessly Devoted" from Grease, backwards), it came as a surprise that Rob was referring to a letter, addressed to me, from the Sutherland Institute, one of Utah's many groups out to harm our families in the name of Family(TM).
Click on it to better see the full text.

How sad and disturbing is that? You should have seen the donation card that came with it too. For 5K you can help them make decisions on how to best legally hurt us and our kids. What a bargain.

I am, of course, kind of surprised to be their "friend" and to be invited to such an event. Maybe I should go and bring all my friends, as they suggest :-). Hey, it's free; we should all go!

Seriously though, it may be educational to just sit there quietly and listen in order to hear what arrows they have waiting in their quiver, ready to hit my home. It would be educational... but difficult.

For example, I guess they are now calling the Common Ground Initiatives a dire threat to Utah's man-woman marriage law, one for which they need a bunch of money? What else could it be? Nevertheless, these bills don't touch Utah's man-woman marriage law, seem to at least be not objectionable to the LDS church (I just wish they'd stop this and say so), and they would help many Utah families and children.

It is disturbing to know these people will be getting together, scheming about how get money to best legally harm my most sacred institution, the people I love most and am absolutely obsessed with protecting. It can keep a man up.

They'll do it while imagining righteousness and God's blessing; imagining they know what being gay means. They'll do it while pretending it's moral to harm us in a way they'd never want their family harmed. They'll use words like "defend" while they attack families, and call our hope for equal treatment under law an "attack", as though taking our families' tax dollars puts no responsibility of equal treatment on their shoulders. They will say we are against traditional marriage when nearly every marriage we respect and support is traditional. They'll hope to hurt our children under another name, will probably insult them as morally deficient as the LDS press room recently did, and pretend it's all for the good of "the children". They'll believe it like a faith, with the best of intentions. And, frankly, that sucks too :-), because I know they aren't all bad folks, and I don't even get to blame it on evil or indulge in anger.

My best option is to just listen and try to react as best I can... Things like this really do make me feel like the stick gatherer. We don't share the same faith with these people; it often seems we don't even speak the same language. What I see as glorious in family--the dedication, the sacrifice, the love--they see as trash, or as something to fight, if the wrong anatomical shape is attached to it. Nevertheless, I'm caught here, and they will ditch the Golden Rule and force my home and even minority churches to live by their faith in law, if they can. And in Utah, they can.

Anyway, Sutherland Institute, nope. I'll not be sending you money to pay you to "fight to the bitter end", whatever that means for my home.

Eh, they will get something back, though. Rob stuck their return envelope in the mail with some coupons in it; he donated a little :-). At least that postage won't go to funding their righteous crusade again us enemies of proper society.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Common Ground Initiative in Moab

We just got back from a Common Ground Initiative Rally in Arches National Park. As a result, I've come to believe all activism should be performed in national parks: you get in for free and no one could argue with the scenery.

I wish I could feel more optimistic about the prospect of these bills. For those who don't know, they would:

1. Give our families equal access to health care. Personally, health insurance is killing us, as we can't all be on the same policy.
2. Keep us from being fired from our jobs or kicked out of our homes for the makeup in anatomical sex of our families.
3. Allow, say, stay-at-home parents to sue someone who kills the breadwinner of a gay couple. Right now the spouse in a gay marriage in Utah has no recourse and many would likely just end up on government assistance if, say, medical malpractice killed their loved-one.
4. Create a domestic partner registry to which the above rights may be attached.
5. Finally to get rid of the "substantially equivalent" part of Amendment 3 which may stand in the way of all of the above.

Please; contact your state representatives; I know mind will soon be sick of me :-).

However, the LDS church as backed away from supporting any of these, and without them the legislators will not help us in Utah. Even a statement of non-opposition for same-sex domestic partnerships, as they did for California, would be a huge help for our families here, but, if the blogs and the editorials are any measure, this is nearer amusing to many in the church than a chance to find some common ground and help strengthen minority families.

Is it just me or do many LDS here still feel like they were the victims in the Proposition 8 events? No matter how hard they make it on our homes or debase our marriages or even our children, I fear that will be the case, especially since forcibly divorcing a family in law from their most sacred union doesn't even seem to register as carrying much weight in some of their minds. Now they can keep us from victimizing them again by keeping these rights away from us too? Or do some feel this is a tit-for-tat thing? But, eh, such worldview of persecution is a strong, ingrained part of our local culture; I can't really get mad. It's just sad, and hard to understand why they won't stop, consider the real people in our families, and trust in the Golden Rule.

Nevertheless, even if it all comes to nothing, there was great worth to us in being among those who didn't feel my family was something to fight, all under such a beautiful backdrop.
I thought this was symbolic/kind of funny: as the pro-gay rights rally was hiking up the trail, a Mennonite couple was going the other way.
After the rally we went to a couple other arches:
We went with another gay-headed family that has three kids about our boy's age. By the look of things, I think their daughter may end up marrying Brian and end up with the first children who have 4 doting grandpas. I wish I felt okay showing a picture of the two... adorable.

Anyway, we took them up one of our favorite canyons (see last year).
The next day we went on a hike with Rob's aunt, to another favorite ice skating rink.

As I had to assure my parents, the ice there is much thicker than it looks :-).

Anyway, I wish I could quite you, Utah. You're just too pretty, or handsome in my case I suppose. The Common Ground Initiatives may be a long shot... but I can't help but hold out hope for the state that will always be my home, no matter where I have to take my family.

Friday, January 09, 2009

City Hall History

One of the other things that struck me after seeing the movie Milk was the history held in certain places.

This may sound obvious and it may seem strange that it struck me as special, but I grew up in suburbia, where, if they were people, I would have gone to high school with most of the buildings. Where recorded history goes back to the developer who named your street by, say, some combination of the name of a type of flora and the word 'view' or 'grove' or 'place'. I also grew up where those historical locations we do have primarily speak to my LDS background.

Through the movie, though, I kept recognizing places from our second marriage, in 2004 when San Francisco started giving licenses for the first time. That's all described here, but in this post I just wanted to share some of the snapshots I took that day, as they've taken on new meaning for me.

While there, for example, I had no idea about the protests that pushed up against these doors, the steps taken to be sure I could have the life I have now even in Utah.
I didn't know that Dan White sneaked into this building and killed Milk and the Mayor a matter of yards from where we prepared our paperwork.
I didn't know the first openly gay politician asked his staff to make a grand gay entrance up these stairs, to be sure we were seen.

These were the stairs on which we were married a second time, and, man, you'd not believe the feel of love and joy in that place that day. Each time a marriage was performed and the couple embraced a crowd gathered around the landing would burst into cheers. Those flowers were donated to us all the way from Canada. Read my description I linked to above; it was a great day.

(Doesn't our JP look like she should teach at Hogwarts?)

Check out also how beautiful the the dome above those stairs is:

If we have to do it again in Ca, I'd not mind doing it there once more. And to top it off we got to meet the Mayor on our way out (this time without the pigeon ;-))

Anyway, living in the suburbia and in the US it seems I get little chance to feel those ghosts of history. I was glad to have them inserted into a bunch of our old photos, even if they only date back to the 70's :-).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another Confessional

When the internet was young and the notion of a blog was alien to the zeitgeist, I had a site. It focused mainly on issues of skepticism but the fact that I was a gay man wasn’t hidden.

One day I got an email through the site from a gay kid. He was brought to mind recently during the movie Milk, and has been on my mind ever since, but I’ve thought about him off and on for years. In the movie a kid calls Harvey just as he’s about to be sent off by his parents to be ‘cured’, and Harvey tells him to run away. Unfortunately, the kid was wheelchair bound. The kid in the case here was in a very similar predicament; he had severe cerebral palsy, but I was no Harvey Milk.

Simply that tiny subplot really struck a chord in me, and some regret.

IIRC, the kid started off upset about an article by Oaks, a LDS leader. I just looked and I still have the printout of the link he sent me in my file cabinet, marked up by the hand written comments I’d eventually type and send back. Oaks' text may be found online here, without my 2 cents after each line :-).

We went through that, but he still had several serious practical problems with his family and church to get through. I didn't tell him to run away, and actually hoped to get the Bishop to step in and help within the family... Again, I'm not Harvey Milk. Happily, though, after a couple months he seemed to be doing much better.

At about this same time I was corresponding with this young man, I was a new father and the site (well, I...) started getting death threats, because that's what Jesus would do, right? :-) After talking to Rob, I decided to take the site down, and sure, maybe I was cowering but I had no time and two babies to take care of. Honestly, I don’t know how to deal with people who threaten physical harm to me or my family, especially for faith. How do you talk them down from the "word of God"? I know it's 99.9% hot air, and I fear backing down only makes them stronger, puts the problem onto the next generation (which of course includes my children), but what if?... So sure, I had other excuses but I also backed down. Call me a coward, but, eh, at least I came back with some extra precautions.

All that is beside the point, though. There's another reason I'm in the confessional here.

After I quit the site, I kept getting emails from this kid. He was doing better and better. He found a way to move out into a home for people with disabilities and seemed upbeat and comfortable with his orientation. Eventually it got to the point that his emails came less and less frequently, about once a month. But that was a good sign too; he was doing well, had friends, and didn’t have much more to talk to this stranger about.

One day, though, I went to check the email and found myself locked out of the account. We had been busy with the kids and out of town and it seems the account I was using had an expiration after a month of inactivity. I tried to reregister the same address but was told it was already in use, and I was just responding to his emails, without ever paying attention to his address.

So I’m ashamed to say the next email this kid sent to me went unanswered. I hope he knows it wasn’t by choice. I always answered his emails and so I hope he knew it was uncharacteristic and knows he wasn’t ignored.

Now that I know so many gay LDS, though, I’m wondering if he may still be online somewhere? Does anyone around here know a person who fits the bill? I’ll give the details that he knew would be put up on my public site: LDS, Californian, involved in computer access for the disabled, came out around 2002. I have more to verify if that gets anyone close. Alternatively, just ask any possibilities to look at my blog; he'll recognize my habit of using microscope images.

I’d just like to know if things turned out as they seemed they were turning out. That he was okay, and to be sure he knew I didn’t ignore him. (In fact, I kind of started this blog holding a hope he'd still be searching online and I’d run into him)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Face Unafraid

My parents have two main go-to songs they hum when comforting a child. They've hummed them for me, for every nightmare and scrapped knee, and they've hummed them for every tiny niece and nephew I've seen come through their home. They hum them for our children today.

I guess that's the kind of habit a person inevitably picks up from their parents, because the first song I ever sang to our boys was one of the two: You are my sunshine.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

The song is more about unrequited love in the verses, but the chorus gets right to the core of me. They are my sunshine, and they will never know how much I love them, at least not until they have children of their own. And that last line... When you have politicians and "pro-family" activists up at your state capitol citing their unquestionable faith in the "Word of God" to show that gay people shouldn't be allowed to parent... well, it holds a touch of one of my greatest fears.

The second song though isn't near as serious or, seemingly, applicable; it's Winter Wonderland.

I know. My mom may be caught humming it in the middle of summer, and now I'm guilty too.

In fact, after I reflexively hummed it at a low coming-out point 16 years ago, causing both of us to crack up and Rob to feel a lot better, it became our song.
Rob will lie and say that the jury is still out, in hopes for a better song, but you just can't choose these kinds of things. I'm resigned to the fact that we're stuck with Winter Wonderland; that is the song between me and the love of my life. No other meets all the criteria.

This all comes to mind because I'm putting together our family DVD for last year. I collect the stills and videos and put them to music. I've done this for every year of the boys' life (The first song is, of course, You Are My Sunshine). It's kind of my way of scrapbooking, and it seems to be worth while as the boys love to watch them.

What they haven't probably noticed yet, though, is that, while I use a wide variety of music, each of their seven Christmases are set to the same song, to Winter Wonderland, performed by everyone from the Cocteau Twins to Elvis.

This weekend I was putting together last year's Christmas and listening to the song, this time performed by Darlene Love, and I found the lyrics to be not quite as silly as I once thought:

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

I'm not one for making New Year resolutions, but, if I did, I'd hope "to face unafraid the plans that we've made" (or at least "conspire" to do so :-))... I just wish that California's courts could decide what our marriage license is worth there, and soon, so that we can get on to the business of facing those plans that follow.

Moving would not be easy, but it beats having your family treated by your government and culture as though it was worth a marriage solemnized by a snowman.