Thursday, May 28, 2009

California Decision on the Proposition

Just wanted to quickly chime in on the recent Ca court decision on Proposition 8. It's been killing me not to have the time to get right on it as the news broke.

The significant up side for us personally is, of course: my family came out of all this with equal rights in several states and some countries with our still-valid Ca marriage license, along with 18K other couples, about 40% of which have children, judging from the 2000 census. That piece of paper there still puts some legal bite into the promises we made to each other so many years ago, and made again last summer in San Diego; it secures some rights in some jurisdictions, equal to other citizens, and could be used to enforce the responsibilities we've taken on as a couple and as parents. This is a great success for the best aspects of family and I hope no one overlooks that victory.

Okay, sure, we're one of the lucky same-sex couples who got there in time and maybe I'm feeling it with too much weight. It is personally important, though; we hope to and will most likely end up living in California, and equal treatment under the law is a requirement for the next government we have to pay taxes to, at least at a state level. So yeah, I'm personally happy and relieved and hope federal support of marriage is forthcoming. At least then we'd have something in effect while still here in Utah.

But, as everyone probably knows, this Ca supreme court decision is bitter sweet. Marriage is still between man and woman in addition to being between this man and his man in California, and the sky hasn't fallen. But the young gay couple just ready to make that sacred leap into marriage is left with an offer of only a "civil union" from their government. That's a good deal more than what we have in Utah, sure, and it should be appreciated but separate is not equal or tolerable in the long run. The first time they attempt to take their "civil union" into a jurisdiction unfamiliar with the what that practically means, or the first time the law makes a distinction between "married" and "civil union-ed" (as it does federally anyway), the need for all citizen to be in the same legal boat, regardless of their sex or the sex of the folks in their family, will be all too clear. You'd think it'd be apparent why heterosexual couples, in the vast majority, don't want the "equal rights" the Ca Supreme Court feels they found in "civil unions". Besides, talk about undermining the meaning of "marriage"; to legally ignore it's best aspects because of an M or a F on a birth certificate... And it's not just a matter for same-sex couples; one has to wonder what those couples that include an individual intersexed from birth, neither or both biologically M or F, are left with in Ca law now.

Anyway, 2010, or 2012, or 2014... The day is clearly coming when, throughout the US, the shape of your body or your chromosomes won't determine the amount of tax you pay, the rights of your children, if you can just run off on your spouse without legal consequence, or any of this stuff. I'm sure in California the day will return when "marriages", as performed according to the individual citizen's religious or secular convictions, will be treated justly and equally under the law, blind to our anatomy and focused instead on the weighty public interdependence, commitment, and responsibility found in the act of human coupling, be it in same-sex or, um, "opposite marriage". The day will come when people realize our children go to school too and have a right to talk about their home as much as any other kid. They will get tired of the fear mongering and will realize we can have different definitions for marriage in our homes and churches, and still be treated fairly under the government we must share.

Unfortunately, though, the mark of the Prop 8 vote, complete with the lies about everything from Catholic Charities to marriage in Europe, will always remain on those people and organizations who pushed it. It will be something we point out to our impatient grandchildren, just as I had the uncomfortable and strangely embarrassing conversation with my kids last year about how race used to matter in US law (and faith) as much as sex does in this instance. But if justice was easy, our species would have gotten it right long ago instead of in painful increments. Besides, maybe we need these bumps in the road to drive home the broader value of such ideals as the Golden Rule.

When all is added, though, I guess I can't be unhappy about this (and I've tried :-)). Tonight I'll go home to my family, to my kids, and to my husband, the man who is still my legal husband even if only when we're standing in certain territories between sea and shining sea. Hey, and at least next time we vacation in Ca, I, as a legal husband, won't have the added hassle or cost of being a second driver on the rental car contract :-). More importantly, of course, when we can move from Utah to our dreamed-of near-beach home, we will have what any man would want from his state for his family.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

If We Have to Be Stuck...

I may be busy with my new professional duties, but never, of course, too busy for our quarterly Moab trip:
A big part of the vacation is always visiting Rob's family... and then forcing them to walk miles through the desert with us:

Really, though, it takes no arm twisting. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend time with such hansom men, right? And look there at my man. He's lost a lot of weight in the past three months. A doctor warned him about his health and he thought of us and went on a serious diet. I'm proud of him.

But the rest of us are, arguably, cute too:

It's images like that that make me very glad we had twins. They may be very different but they are great friends and family to the other; I can see that last well past their parent's time and that gives a good deal of joy.

Their favorite part was the dunes. My sandbox can't compete with this:
I guess one other reason we need to get down to Moab as often as we do to purge some of the city-boy from the twins:
Every kid needs to wipe sheep snot on their shirt at least a couple times a year, right?

A bit of advice:
What once covered that empty plate there was the Jailhouse restaurant's Swedish pancakes, with loganberries (don't use the syrup; just the berries). Delicious. We go there for breakfast every trip down and each time I get the same thing, twice this trip even. I'm salivating just typing this.

Lastly, a fitting metaphor. We got stuck, in Utah:
To be exact, Rob got us stuck :-). It took two hours of digging, some frustration, a lot of sweat, blisters, the pull from two vehicles, and a good deal of the kindness of strangers, but we eventually got free. Our help was a bunch of local men there on dirt bikes and, with beer in hand and chew in lip, they helped dig us out. Strange thing: I worried the kids would out us to these rural guys at any moment and that they'd stop being so charitable and we'd have to call in help. But no, the kids we're having too much fun digging to chat up strangers. Still, maybe I shouldn't prejudge; heck, the guys may have been from the Southern Utah GLBT Dirt Bike Club...

Anyway, here the kids are in the deep, muddy holes our tires once spun pointlessly through:
All the while the boys had a great time, chasing lizards and jumping off dunes in this beautiful country, and we got a strenuous workout.

That's life in Utah for the men at the helm of this gay-headed family for ya.

Monday, May 18, 2009


As I mentioned in my last post, what, three months ago?... Man, blog days go by fast when you're absent and those posts do pile up in the reader...

Anyway, as I was saying, I took on a new professional responsibility that will keep us here through my parents' surgeries. It has me insanely busy, but it's something at which I enjoy being busy.

I just wanted to post a quick thank you again for the comic suggestions. That was exactly what Alan needed to get him excited about reading, and I'd recommend it to any parents having trouble setting off that spark.

We read them together each night, splitting the characters up so that I read a couple and he reads the others. We each have our voices for our characters and it probably sound like we're putting on a play each evening, but, as they only have dialogue, it's become one of the more fun aspects of reading, one that we didn't have with traditional books. While he'd probably rather I read the whole thing, he literally begs to keep going when it's time for bed. And I love that sort of pleading from my kids (I tell him it's time for bed but then leave the book in there next to his lamp, you know, to tempt him :-)).

The winner of his interest so far: Bone, by far.

We're almost on the 5th book. He loves the action and the story, and the fact the rat creatures are always arguing about quiche, something I had to define even though the kid has two dads :-). It is just a sliver more mature for him than I'd have chosen from the start, but it has him wanting to read. As they are, by both their accounts, the only kids in their class who haven't seen Wolverine or Star Trek, maybe I worry about PG-13 material too much anyway... Eh, Brian emphatically doesn't want to see either, but maybe I'll take Alan to Star Trek, and cover his eyes on bits, just so I can see it again ;-).

Anyway, I hope all is well for the lot of you and I hope time can bring me back to the blogs more often.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Shuffling Priorities

When I was young, about the age of our children, my mother sneezed and her left eye fell out. Fell right onto the carpet.

This was a surprise.

So much so that I can't say it was traumatic as much as it was stunning. I don't even remember being scared as much as being put on pause. I froze there in my parent’s bedroom, in our old home, as my dad grabbed the thing and, after a minute or so, situated it back in its proper place.

At that I was told the story of how, when my mother was in her twenties, she lost her real eye and had it replaced with the convincingly painted ceramic dome that had just come loose. She had and has a congenital eye disease and the only cure for it is a corneal transplant. She had three transplants, and her body rejected all three. After so many repeated rejections she lost the eye entire, and never dared risk the other.

All my life I've known her to struggle with the vision in her remaining eye. She's never been able to drive at night; always has had to wear a uniquely and stiffly fit contact lens, one that has to be retooled about twice a year by one of the few capable in the world. Heck, I owe my existence, or so I'm told, to a hotel room on a trip to a specialist in Texas.

I write all this to emphasize the weight of the fact that we just recently found out her remaining eye is going down hill; she will not be able to drive soon. Surgery is on the table again and will be decided on in a matter of months. On top of that we found out last month my father will be having both knees replaced this fall.

The point is last week I was in my lab and I got an email from Rob. In it he expressed a stark change of heart about moving, due to my parents’ health considerations, even though he wants out of here more than anyone. And I know he's right; I knew it as soon as I read it and choked up right at my desk for his thoughtfulness. That’s why I love him with all my heart; he’s a good man, the person who makes me a better person. Me, well, I get caught up in our home and in politics and research… I’m ashamed to say I didn’t put 2 and 2 together on this one, until I heard it from him. As my mom always tells people, “I’m so thankful my son is gay. I could have had a bitchy daughter-in-law, but instead I got a great son-in-law.” :-)

I know I have not written much about moving lately; family have begun reading here and I didn’t want to worry them until we had a solid plan on what we were doing and all that greatly depended on California’s Supreme Court. However, we have been looking forward to retreat and rest from this LDS-gay battleground, and I have been looking for a job all the while in any jurisdiction that would treat our family with fairness. Now, though, I want to tell them there's no need to worry.

Fact is we can’t move with my parents going through this. We can’t add to the stress with my mom having to choose between these frightening options. They are in no shape to go anywhere unfamiliar for a while and, even if the worst doesn't materialize, they will need our help come fall. They aren’t just my parents; they are our good friends, confidants, the people we trust with our children. They’ve been there for me all my life, from feeding me as an infant, to standing beside me when I came out, to giving us breaks when the twins were keeping us up all hours of the night. We have to, and we want to be there for them now.

I know, I know... I had broken up with Utah, made up a mind to retreat, asked to be held to it, and we were on our way out. But, like any break between long-time lovers, it is going to take more time and less simplicity than could be considered clean. The state has a key to my apartment, keeps driving by, and I seem to have another year added to the lease.

The strange thing is that, just a day before Rob sent me that email, I got a good opportunity here that I was about to pass up. But now I’ll take it. We’ll stick it out here until my parents are on their feet again and the kids are at the end of a school year. At least this new opportunity will make it easier to move later.

I am tired, though, and I worry, perhaps too much, about how living here could affect us in the long run, both legally and physically. Does that ever come across ;-)?

I’ll keep walking on here, but I’m worn from having to step on all the low, pointy tactics. I don’t care to ever hear another local talk radio host bring up, say, Catholic Charities of Boston. I’m tired of debates and panels where the other side should clearly be embarrassed about the display of their discernment and “facts”, and yet hold proudly to them. I’m sick of worrying our children will be hit with that side’s false pity for some handicap that does not exist, or their belief in the “idealness” of their family over that of our boys. I don’t want to hear another church official bemoaning the awful (and false) cost at which some European governments are treating gay-headed families with, of all things, the golden rule. I don’t feel I can stand another bit of sympathy for some silly beauty pageant contestant, in the face of thousands who can’t get their spouse and homemaker on their health insurance. It’s just frustrating that, to so many minds here, “defending marriage” means fighting the best aspects of it, and keeping people from their responsibilities, and from taking care of each other.

Yep, all old issues here, but it’s just bizarre, messed up, right? It's still somewhat of a puzzle, and I don’t want to feel, all my life, in order to protect my home I have to try to understand the hearts that hold such priorities; I don’t want to know anymore how people can do such direct harm to their neighbors with love on their lips. At least they ain’t burning us anymore—I do try to keep in mind it could be a lot worse here and we sure don’t have it bad relative to the average of the world—but I just don’t care to keep looking into that place at any level, and perhaps wish I could even forget some of its lessons about human nature.

Eh, while staying for another trip around the sun is the right thing to do, I’ll have some frustration to deal with, clearly :-); we both will. I’ll just have to try to find a way to better deal with it than I have, especially as Utah’s legislative session approaches again. It’s not going to be an easy year for my family on whole, in several ways, but at least our boys haven’t noticed a thing and being help to family in need is a great way to keep your mind on what matters most.

One last thing, I may not be around the blogs as much for a while. My free time is going to research the mechanisms behind corneal rejection as best as a non-M.D. D. can, and this new opportunity I’m taking will take a good deal of my attention. Nevertheless, thoughts and/or prayers for the best of outcomes, medically, politically, and socially (not to mention geographically), are always welcome.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Glory of the Brightest Eye Blinking

I've not been too much in a blogging mood lately, but they do start to feel like obligations. Maybe to break the spell I'll try going to the topic that I love best.

We were at the kids' school this morning to read to them. On Brian's class bulletin board they had colors and each kid had to describe them; for example, one kid had "Green is... like an apple growing". Alan didn't do this exercise but Brian did and I thought his answers were particularly evocative (even trying to imagine them without my obvious parental bias :-)):
Brown is... the spring mud oozing between my toes.

Orange is... a playful dog's warm fleece.

Purple is... the royal king swinging his cape.

White is... the glory of the brightest eye blinking.
Really, where do they come up with such things? I think we're raising a poet.

I don't like to post just on one kid without equal time, though, so... The other day I was at my computer and Alan was behind me with paper and scissors on the floor. He was abnormally quiet for the sort of kid Alan is, and after some time he tapped me on the shoulder and gave me this:
This work is entitled "Alan and His Papa Playing Together". For him to put that much attention and planning into a project he thought up himself was very special to me; it went right up above my desk. If I owned such green leggings and a purple onesie I'd wear them just to match the feeling I get from such works of art :-).