Thursday, November 8, 2012

This is Not Politics. This is Everything.

The election is over. And many of my friends have been posting on Facebook about how now we can all just get along again. I too hope that things calm down and that civility can be restored - especially among the people I count as family and as real friends. But I'm also still reeling a little bit from what went on in the last month or two. I know that my candidate won and there were many victories for marriage equality across the nation on Tuesday but all is not won until we can begin to see beyond "political issues" to the human costs involved.

I was vocal about my feeling that a vote for Romney, especially publicly voiced support for him, was an affront to me as a lesbian and to all LGBT people. Many countered this idea with the argument that they couldn't base their vote on a single issue, and I get that. I really do. Besides MR's staunch anti-marriage equality stance, his ignorant statements about not knowing that same sex couples even HAVE families, and his unwillingness to extend gay people (including gay veterans) the right to visit their significant other in the hospital, I had many other reasons to not vote for him. As you can imagine I disagree with him and most republicans on just about every issue from abortion to gun control to education and the environment. Yes, I have very strong opinions on issues like abortion and gun control. And I'm sure you do too. I'm happy to agree to disagree with you about those things. At the end of the day, we just don't see eye to eye on everything, and that's OK. But none of those issues matter in the same way because they are ISSUES. My family and our right to be recognized as belonging to one another is not an ISSUE. And this is not just about gay marriage.
I know some of you feel you've been personally hurt financially by Obama's economic policies and maybe you have. As someone who identifies as coming from a working-class background and as someone whose family is currently struggling financially, I empathize with your distress over economic realities. Maybe Obama's economic policies have not been good for you or for me or for the country at large. But they do not deny you your humanity. They do not deny you your human dignities or single you and your family out as being worth less than other people in any way.

If you are a friend or family member--if you love me, care about what happens to me, my partner and our son, or if you claim to love and care about another LGBT person in the world then I don't think it is too much to ask you to try to put yourself in our shoes for a minute:

What if your family were being denied basic things that most people take for granted? What if Obama wanted to pass a law that said you and your family were not entitled to the same things that most other families in America were entitled to? What if he went out of his way to make sure that people like you - (people who were Mormon, or Christian, or disabled, or born with a rare genetic condition) could not visit their husband or wife as they lay dying in a hospital or that people like you could not be granted a proper birth certificate for your child?  I know if these things happened to me personally you would sympathize. I know you would care. I know you would worry for me and pray for me and hope the best for me and my family. And maybe you just didn't/couldn't allow yourself to really consider that these things could become a reality for me and my family. But in many ways, they already are.

I am lucky to live in New York State where Gay marriage is legal - and even luckier to live in NYC where people generally don't bat an eye when they hear my son has two moms or when I refer to myself as a lesbian. But every year when Kelli and I drive to the midwest to visit family, we pass through states where not only is same-sex marriage illegal, gay couples have no rights at all in hospitals, in child custody cases, in hundreds--yes hundreds--of other realms.... We pass through towns where being gay is not only widely considered a sin but also considered revolting. In many parts of the country we are feared and loathed, still, and our New York State marriage license means absolutely nothing, legally.

If on one of these road trips we were to, God forbid, get into a car accident and if one of us were critically injured and had to be rushed to the hospital, fighting for our life, any of those hospitals could deny us the right to even be together in an operating room or to make the medical decisions that a legally recognized spouse would make. If I was dead or in a coma, and our son needed medical treatment the hospital could deny my partner the right to make decisions about his  medical care or even to stay with him in the hospital. Most disturbingly, if I were dead and in a coma and our son was fine, the state could take him away from my partner - the only other parent he has ever known - and place him in foster care. And they would be legally in their right to do so. That thought terrifies me!

So please don't shrug this off as though I'm simply getting huffy over politics. This goes way deeper than that.

To have the person who holds the highest office in this country be so outspoken about thinking that these things are OK would be detrimental to all of us. There is a dangerous logic at work here when you seek to deny a group of people certain rights that are granted to others. If it can happen to one group it can happen to any group. Stripping someone of their rights is the first step towards dehumanizing them--it opens the flood gates for other kinds of discrimination, prejudice, bullying and even violence. And it sends a message to LGBT youth who are probably already struggling with who they are--the message that who they are is less than who everyone else is. This is a struggle that all of us LGBT people have felt at the very core of our being at some point in our lives. When Obama came out in support of marriage equality last spring that helped undo a little bit of the damage that's been done to us since we were children. And it made space for some hope in the lives of many LGBT youth.

I have never unfriended someone on Facebook before. I've made it my policy not to. Generally, I feel like it's my duty to represent myself and my tribe here. I know that there are some LGBT people who disagree with this idea, but I want people to see that my family is just like everyone else's in almost every way - that we are in every way that counts, a family. In short, that we are human. LGBT people whether we are partnered or not, whether we are parents or not deserve to have our humanity affirmed.

If Obama were denying you and your family hundreds of things that my family and the rest of the families in the country were entitled to I would not vote for him. I would never show public support for him and I certainly would never trounce you for asking me not to. I would understand your desire and expectation to have ALL of the good people in your life stand with you.

Please think about this from my perspective--as a parent, as a spouse. What's done is done. The election is over and we cannot unpost what has been posted on Facebook. Yet I still feel the need to explain myself and let you know how deeply hurt I've been by the attitude and the assertions that I have been making much ado about nothing. This is not nothing to me. This is not politics. This is my family, my self. This is everything.


  1. This is beautifully written. I can only hope that our country continues to move forward and that some day in the not so distant future, we will all be considered equal in the eyes of our government and the world. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you Bird and Cleaver! I appreciate this so much.

  3. I just shared. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and been getting really mad over it. Thank you for saying it calmly and in a way I can share. I wish everyone could read this.

  4. This is great! Can I share this on my blog at Please let me know, as I think this needs to be shared far and wide.

  5. Erin, thank you for putting this in such eloquent and moving words.

  6. This is so very beautifully written and had such amazingly true phrases like But none of those issues matter in the same way because they are ISSUES. My family and our right to be recognized as belonging to one another is not an ISSUE.

    As an advocate for Gay Marriage Rights for over 20 years I sometimes catch myself bursting into tears of shame at the world in which we live and the way LGBQT people are treated. It is a nightmare that is easy for me to forget as a cisgendered straight person.

    The other day I saw a post that stated this was the first time in US History that gay marriage was voted through in popular vote. I still can't even type those words without big choking sobs jumping up in my throat an tears gushing. An those who know me know that I am normally not a very emotional person.

    But this, oh this, yeah it jumps out because of the shame I have felt towards many of my so called friends who have the luxury of treating this as an issue towards which I take a position. I am so very proud of each and every one of them who voted it through. Many of them wouldn't a year ago. They wouldn't have cared.

    I am writing to you here longer than the supportive quip I intended because I strongly disagree about not UNFRIENDING people who don't support gay marriage. I DO THIS and have asked people I know to do the same.

    It started off as unfriending people, in real life but also on facebook, who were aggressively against gay marriage and ranted. Those people were easy enough for me to trounce on facebook mostly because I was a theology major and could bat back their stupid biblical misinterpretation and guide them elsewhere.

    But then it moved into something different. I posted that I no longer would be friends with people who did not support gay marriage on facebook and one of dear friends on facebook, my best friend High School from ages ago, posted "So I Guess you don't want to be my friend anymore do you" and I said "Yep"

    At first I tried to qualify the issue by saying 'Well I can respect your opinion as attached to your faith' I say this as an atheist who has respect for faith. But then I realized that this is a horribly wrong perspective.

    I began to realize that being 'polite about it' is like saying you'll be ok with being friends with a pedophile as long as he doesn't talk about it with you.

    People who are against gay marriage create the paradigm in which people exist. You shouldn't have to listen to some piggish bigot who doesn't realize your marriage situation who treats your children like abominations and your life like something vile.

    Parents who hold on to their religious views on this are teaching them to their children. We have a responsibility to stop being polite about this. This doesn't mean ruining Thanksgiving by throwing the turkey across the room during the means standing your ground.

    It means saying that this matters more to me than your friendship does or your relationship to me as a family member.

  7. To me it does because we are responsible for shaping the world in which we live an we are responsible for being lazy and letting oppression continue.

    I will not be friends with people who oppose gay marriage. I have friends on facebook now who voted for Romney and voted Yes on Question 6. I feel a tiny bit proud in thinking I changed some people's minds on this issue.

    I feel a little less ashamed in my life because I know that people who respect and trust me but who may not know that much about gay marriage or live in an area where it is not as common, NEED US who do know to make it perfectly clear how very offensive it is to even speak to someone who states they are against gay marriage.

    My commitment is and continues to be that I will not accommodate bigotry. I would no more be friends with someone who is against interracial marriage, thinks that the Jews are the problem with the world, or think that it's ok to be a pedophile.

    These are not issues, as you so very aptly wrote. These are core common decency that require us to stand against and say 'No it isn't ok,even if we don't talk about it. There is something wrong with believing these things an I will not participate in a complicity of silence.

    Sorry so long.

  8. Thanks, Miriam! XOXO. Tom, sure you can repost it on jesushas2daddies. I think the more people who read it the better. :) Thank you!

    And anonymous: thank you for being such a hard-core advocate. We need more people like you. You have given me much to think about here. I'm rolling it around in my mind and trying to decide to what extent I agree with you. I like what you said here: "We have a responsibility to stop being polite about this. This doesn't mean ruining Thanksgiving by throwing the turkey across the room during the means standing your ground." I get this and I think you're right to a degree. I think it may be one of those things though where the burden shouldn't fall on gay people to do this all the time but that straight people should take some of this on and take a hardcore stance like you're taking...In the same way anti-racist white people need to advocate LOUDLY against racism and xenophobia. Right?

    I come from a religious (evangelical Christian) family - many of my friends and relatives are still very Christian. I understand where they're coming from on the issue of believing that being gay is a sin even if I think their interpretation of the bible is wrong and hypocritical.

    Like I said above - in a way I think it's sort of my responsibility to continue to show up in the lives of these people (on FB or in reality) so that I might be a witness to them that LGBT people are good people, good parents, good neighbors, good friends. I don't know. I need to think more about this. Thanks for making me think.

  9. I am a bit shy about being so aggressive about something you deal with daily that I do not. But I use the word 'weeping' to emphasize this. I am not a weeper. I am a Spock. Google INTP if you want an understanding.

    Thank you for giving me an outlet to express myself. I'm sorry I'm hoggish on your blog, but I choose not to helpmyself. More long winded ranting will commence in my old blog post from 2009. It is hard to be an older adult and weep into my forearm only to recognize it as the same forearm that I wept into in 1989 for the same reasons.

    I am proud of you for writing one of the most resonating pieces of blogging associated with this fundamental value in human existence.

    The burden should not fall onto gay people. It should fall on decent people.