Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Forward. Backward.

Last night, this country and one man rendered me: speechless, emotional, proud, invigorated, hopeful, determined, heard, triumphant, tearful and peaceful.

Barack Obama. The 44th president of the United States of America.

The LEADER of our country, the same country who would have denied him the right to vote, based on his skin color, had he been born before 1870 and the passing of the 15th amendment.

The significance of this achievement can not be denied.

Not that he deserved the presidency based on skin color. He didn't. Just like Sarah Palin didn't deserve my vote simply because we share the same anatomy.

My point is we'd be remiss not to stop and reflect on how far we, as a nation, have come in seeing PAST the color of a person's skin - so that we may hear his or her voice instead.

I realize that while much of the nation celebrates this morning, there is a large percentage of people who did not vote for Obama who are disappointed, scared, angry and worried about the safety and direction of our country. Both mine and April's families are among that group and I respect their concerns and sincerely hope Obama serves them in ways they don't anticipate, and surprises them by governing with their concerns in mind.

For the first time, in a victory speech, a President included ME, as a gay person, in his remarks.

He said:

"It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

He didn't trip over the word GAY. It didn't sound dirty. Or Shameful. It sounded...like it belonged.

Here's his victory speech, one of the most humbling, inspiring, eloquent speeches I've ever heard. (You'll have to endure the commercial first, sorry).


Watch CBS Videos Online

Obama's appeal and promise of CHANGE was enough to turn Republican strongholds the color blue. Last night was the first time in forty years the state of Virginia voted democratically. Florida and North Carolina also switched things up, voting for Obama.

Those voters agreed that his platform, not his skin color, was the issue. Their vote proved there is no place for discrimination in the White House.

However, thousands of people who are this morning patting themselves on the back because they helped elect the first African American president, also voted to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into the Constitution.

The irony is painful.

How can we travel so far forward AND backward in the same night?

Voters in Arkansas said gays and lesbians can't be foster parents. I know, without a doubt, April and I would provide a loving, stable, strict and safe environment for any child - whether it was biological, adopted or fostered. To suggest children are better off left in "the system" than with us is insulting, hurtful and punishes children who long for the stability that many loving same-sex couples could provide. Shame on you Arkansas. Shame on you. (Anyone who doubts the type of home a gay or lesbian could provide need only visit my friend Lori's blog. She adopted two special needs kids and they are thriving.)

Voters in Florida and Arizona said no, same sex couples can't marry. Voters in California voted YES on Prop 8, stripping the rights of gay couples who until today, could get married anywhere in the state. My friends Heather and Chelsea have been married a little more than a week. Now, California, the state that recognized and blessed their union, is telling them the love they share is a second-class love, not worthy of the same type of respect and protection given to heterosexual couples.

Separate, not equal.

Sounds familiar, right?

A little like the road traveled by others facing discrimination based on race or gender...

Forward. Backward.

34 comments:

dolphyngyrl said...

And how ironic is it that nobody in California can deny me a job, housing, the ability to access services or spend my money based on my sexual orientation, but the State of California can deny me the right to a legally recongnized marriage simply because my spouse has a vagina, too.

Tina-cious.com said...

...sigh...

It's amazing, isn't it...

I can't even believe it.

Hahn at Home said...

I went to bed knowing, after seeing the Los Angeles County results that we didn't have a shot.

But, perhaps this is the dawn of a new day with Obama's win and we will actually head in a direction that will ultimately help all of us achieve our dreams of full equality under the law.

Look a the new Congress - absolutely amazing. I hope they don't blow it.

Miss Scarlett said...

It breaks my heart, both ways. Breaks my heart for the millions of african american children whose parents can now say with certainty that they CAN be anything they can dream of. For our older americans who can finally gain some healing for the sins of of our country's past. And for all of the people that have heard no all their lives to finally be able to stand up and say "Yes We Can!"

But for those of us, gay or straight, who wish that our children could grow up in a more tolerant and open-minded society, it is a soul crushing defeat. Amy says that in all actuality, GLT rights have not really changed in her lifetime. That the majority of Americans, if they got the chance, would still throw a beer bottle at our heads if they thought no one was looking.

It is strange to me that America can progress so far as to elect an African American man as the most powerful leader in the world, but be scared shitless of two people who love each other and want to be recognized as a family.

Reticent Writer said...

It has left me speechless. I am so thrilled that the country took such a huge step but it is truly tempered with the disbelief that we can vote to deny equal rights.

Rubyfruit Radio said...

The speech was amazing. I felt included for the first time by a president. Honestly, that's one of the reasons I've always like Obama, because I always felt like he wasn't just talking at me, he was talking to me.
Forward.Backward. Could not put it better. I am saddened by the blantant bigotry of the votes against gays.
For months, I've been getting emails from republicans I know. I would usually respond with something that made Republicans look dumb and let it go. The other day, one of the people who was in this mass email list sent an email about Barack Hussein Obama wondering why no one was talking about his birth certificate. I kind of lost my mind for a second and sent email to this person, my father and one other person who kept sending me emails like this and I basically told them to STFU and that if they wanted to know what kind of person he really was to see his stance on gay adoption where he basically says that my daughter would be better off with her drug addict, alcoholic birth mother or her drug addict, alcoholic, 3 time felon birth father, both of whom cannot hold down a job and rely on money from their respective tribes than to be with 2 lesbians who are responsible, and have the means to take care of a child.
It's very disheartening.
This morning in Twitter, straight people seemed surprised that Florida has had a ban on gay adotpion for a while. Where have they been? These are people who seem to pay attention, but they don't know about our struggles until something like Prop 8 happens.
I don't even know where I am going with this. I think I just had to vent to someone who faces the same predjudice.

Lisa McGlaun said...

I'm going to link back to your post this morning. I hope that's okay with you.

Peace,
Lisa

thewishfulwriter said...

dolphyngyrl: I don't get it. I don't. I don't. I don't.

Tina: I truly thought, at the very least, California would rise up and defend the rights of same sex couples. I truly did.

Hahn: From your lips to God's ears (or the ears of whoever or whatever moves you). I thought of you IMMEDIATELY when I learned the YES vote would likely win. I got fired up. You are an amazing mother and I shudder to think about what would have happened to your kids if you hadn't loved them.

Miss Scarlett: Couldn't agree with you more. On all of it.

Reticent Writer: Yep, me too. Exactly. Thank you for believing April is as important to me as your husband is to you.

Rubyfruit Radio: I know. It's tough. And frankly, it hurts.

Lisa: I'd be honored. I'd also like to thank you and your husband for all the support. You truly believe we should have rights, not that you are doing us a favor by considering giving them to us.

Renee Gannon said...

Your article resonates so deeply.

California, a self-professed "liberal" state has just taken one giant leap in the wrong direction and for the first time ever, has made me feel regret for moving away from MA and coming to live in CA instead.

California, I had such high hopes that you would do the right thing and now you have let me and so many others down.

What do you have to say for yourself?

Anonymous said...

Federal law, federal law, federal law...do you smell that...it smells like federal law! That all sounds like two for the price of one plus a dollar and I say FEDERAL LAW! Weeeeeeee...sorry just excited that I will be hanging out with my friend day after tomorrow! XOXO ~ Melis

Deb said...

I married my wife on 8/8/08 in West Hollywood surrounded by love and support. Today I still have that love and support - but the rest of the state disappoints - as well as the rest of the country who continue to take rights away from families who are hurting no one.

Thank you for your post - beautifully done.

Mars said...

...and lets not forget muslims get groped at airports and searched or blacklisted because of their names.

Schriftstellar said...

This clip (http://tinyurl.com/5m7yck) gives me faith that Obama is on our side and that eventually we will be guaranteed our civil rights. Until then, WE CANNOT STOP LOVING AND WE CANNOT STOP FIGHTING.

Hbear said...

thank you heather.

the optimist in me is trying to get the bitter taste out of my mouth right now... the sickness and sadness of all of this...

(and keeps trying to remind me that the trend shows that in 4 years, the same ballot would NOT pass) - (and barack DID win) -

but i woke up, checked the stats, and held my wife... ashamed of what my country has to offer her and i, and us as committed partners, in terms of rights.

Stephanie said...

Heather,

I read your blog this morning as I do every morning with my cup of coffee and it was like you had been reading my thoughts. You hit the nail on the head this morning friend.

As happy I was that Obama won, I was deeply saddened that the marriage amendment was defeated in Florida and many other states.

As I sit here in the hospital with my very ill partner, "through sickness and health" it makes me sad that gays and lesbians are still do not have the same rights.

Anyway, great blog today. Hopefully others will ponder and get more involved in the movement of Equality for all.

Stephanie Mitchell

Cassie said...

I'm not gay and I didn't vote for Obama however I am still pissed off that Prop8 and all the stupidity that it entails was voted in. I just don't get why people want to discriminate against something as simple and basic as Love. Some people are just dumbshits I guess. I think any child would be blessed to have you and April as parents. You guys have it way more together than alot of the parents I know. Love for your partner or Love for a child Love is Love !!!

Emily. said...

It absolutely amazes me that we can go from slavery to a black president... but not from two people loving each other to two people loving each other.

I really didn't think it would happen.

lynt said...

ditto on all counts. nicely stated, per usual.

i went back and forth all day -- jubiliation then the mix anger/sadness at Prop 8's outcome. Never really thought CA would take such a step back...

thewishfulwriter said...

Renee: Apes and I wish we could be there tonight, at one of the many rallies being held in California, to protest the discriminatory vote. I'm still amazed by it. Truly.

Melissa: Get loopy, I love it! I can't believe after several years, we FINALLY get to meet. Is Brandy still worried I'm an ax murderer? I've worked really hard to hide my creepy side from her...

deb: Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your marriage :) There is some comfort in knowing our neighbors can't vote to keep us from loving one another...as small as a comfort as that is...although, they might try....i mean, THIS bull shirt worked. Who knows what else they might try to sneak in to the constitution. Maybe gays have to go to their own grocery stores. Or have their own water fountains. Or schools. sigh.

Mars: ...there is no end to how much time and energy our world puts into disliking a particular group for one reason or another...

Schriftstellar: Agreed. We must never stop demanding our rights. I'm tired of people acting like they are doing us a favor by "considering" we might deserve rights. Seriously. It shouldn't even be a question. INALIENABLE rights. For ALL.

Heather: You and Chels have been in my thoughts all day. Big love and good luck at the rallies tonight! :)

Stephanie: I had no idea your partner was ill - I am so sorry to hear that. I will check in with you via email to see how things are. What a sad, perfect example of why it was so important for people NOT to vote to discriminate. How does you, sitting with your ill partner, affect the lives of anyone else? HOW?! Do their taxes changes? Do they suddenly have a shortage of food? Does their car stop working? HOW DOES IT AFFECT THEM? I need to go calm down. I do. I'm sending big love and prayers your way. H

Cassie: I love you for saying that. Thank you for your support and friendship. It means a lot.

Emily: I worried Florida and Arizona weren't ready. I truly believed California would get it right. I truly did.

Lynt: Thank you :) I too am still on a roller coaster of emotions. I've seen pictures/videos of the YES on 8 folks celebrating as though they've just won the lottery. I wonder how many of those crusaders, fighting to protect the "sanctity of marriage", went home and cheated on their spouse, had premarital sex or even GAY sex. You know some of them are closet cases. You know they are.

LuckyGirl said...

While I hate to see it get tied up in the courts, I would love to see this decision reversed.

It should never have been an option for voters to decide. Voters would still make it illegal for a black to marry a white in some parts of this country and that's not an option now is it??

PLEASE join me in supporting EQCA to help fight this proposition and provide equality to all and fight these hate supporters.

http://www.eqca.org/donate

Supports are $10-$39
Individual Memberships $40-$74
Family Memberships $75-$124

And thanks to all of you for your help in making equal rights for my son and the gay/lesbian community. You all deserves the same rights we straight folks have!

Geri Ventura, Santa Barbara CA :-)

Ang said...

Very true, nicely put.

Corbin said...

Yeah. We need more wife-beating alcoholic rednecks eligible to be foster parents. [end sarcasm]

meleah rebeccah said...

"How can we travel so far forward AND backward in the same night?"

I dont know honey and that really is such a shame.

I am appalled with the outcome in CA regarding Prop 8. That is horrid.

Jenny said...

Heather, you totally need to write a book of all your blogs and thoughts. You have a way of saying what you think without controversy. What a talent! Between a book AND owning stock in Diet Coke, you would be rich!!! Plus it would be something else for Gage and Cassie to thing that you and Apes are the coolest Aunts EVER!

BOSSY said...

Black, white, gay, straight... that was Bossy's favorite moment of the night; and from what Bossy saw of the Obama rallies, Barack's list of diversity couldn't be more true.

Todd McGlaun said...

Heather,

Thank you for you kind words yesterday and thank you so much for your post. I followed the link there from Lisa's blog (as I have done on past occasions) and found in your words much of my own elation and frustration.

How is it we can come so far as to finally begin to see one group of humans as being just that, human, and at the same time be so blind the the humans standing right next to them, to us. To quote you, "I don't get it. I don't. I don't. I don't."

To be clear. I am a white, straight, man, raised in the South to be Christian. I long ago walked away from the only "Choice" I had in that batch, choosing spirituality over dogma, specifically because it freed me from the instruction to hate those who were different. Unfortunately, I am stuck with the rest and find that in times like this I am often ashamed for my gender, my race, and much of my upbringing. And infuriated by the religion that tried to tell me that "God is love" as their very actions betrayed the lie of any understanding they might have of that truth.

Please know that there are other humans out there like me, like Lisa, who see you only for your humanity and love you for it. And are raising our children to see the same.

I know you only through your words and second-hand through my wife's friendship with you, and through that alone a can say unreservedly I would gladly place my children in the care of you and your partner. That is not something I can say about a number of the people I know who happen to have been born heterosexual. Or white. Or male. Or who choose to be religious.

LuckyGirl said...

Strange that my liberal brothers and sisters of California chose the rights of chickens over people.


http://amothersmanifesto.blogspot.com/

Lisa McGlaun said...

I just have to say that the outpouring of support here is amazing. Too bad we don't all live in California. The stupid Proposition would not have passed.

Also, a little shout out to my hubby, Todd, who posted a comment to you that I am very proud of...just one of the reasons I love him so.

Again,
Lisa

thewishfulwriter said...

LuckyGirl: Thank you for loving your gay child - I wish every GLBT kid could experience true unconditional love. Thank you for getting the message out there about eqca!

Ang: Thanks!

Corbin: uh huh. My thoughts exactly. Why put a kid with Apes and I when we'd do horrible things like ground them for bad grades/disrespect, make them eat dinner around the table every night, play board games, care for them when they are sick...i mean, why do that when the kids can bounce from home to home, often the victims of physical and sexual abuse. Makes sense to me...ps: i love you.

Meleah: thank you for being such a strong ally and support :)

Jenny: Aw, thanks :) Sometimes Apes wishes I was a little more diplomatic with her! I thought Gage and Cassie thought we were the coolest aunts because we came to Johnny's wedding bearing an electronic darth vader mask and princess shoes! :)

thewishfulwriter said...

Bossy: Mine too! My mouth fell open when he included gay in that sentence. The feeling that our President is fearful of the word, or of what people will think of him when he says it, gave me so much hope.

Todd: I can not tell you how very moved I was, reading your comment. Normally, I don't let other people's bigotry affect me, but after so many people made their opinions clear about who they THINK I am and what they THINK I deserve, I felt deflated. Angry. I wanted to lash out. As a community, gays and lesbians can't change things on our own. That's why the support of straight people, like you and Lisa and so many others, is vital. I can't tell you how comforting it is to read your words. I've read them several times. And you should know, I'd be happy and honored to look after your beautiful children - any time :) Thanks again, Todd. really, really thanks.

LuckyGirl: um, wow. Just WOW... *hangs head*

Lisa: I am, without a doubt, full on in love with your husband. I just think you should know. I like to be honest about these things...you both rock.

Corbin said...

Love you too Fitz.

I think we should tell you Jenny and I would rather you and Apes take custody of our kids vs letting another relative of mine, whose family might fit the conservative bigot's dream, watch my kids for one minute.

playwrighter said...

You have a couple of problems for the near future...

1. Blacks voted in droves. Like never before. They voted overwhelmingly FOR Obama and AGAINST you. And I suspect they'll keep voting in huge numbers.

2. Three states voted AGAINST gay marriage. They were the largest state (by population) and the two fastest-growing states (by percentage). We're not talking hayseed backwaters here.

I don't see anything changing any time soon. And you're going to find over time that Barack is like Hillary: a liberal facade hiding an essentially conservative core.

Remember this: A lot of people who voted AGAINST you voted FOR Obama.

Deal.

http://tiny.cc/prop_eight

thewishfulwriter said...

Playwrighter: If you had read my post carefully instead of rushing to post your "Deal." comment, you'd have seen I already know that many people who voted FOR Obama voted AGAINST gays having rights. Um...that's kinda the point of my whole post. You are wrong, though. Things will change - they already have. The votes are getting closer, the margins closing in the For/Against. It'll happen. DEAL.

LuckyGirl said...

Playwrighter

Keep in mind that many of the people who voted FOR prop 8 were misinformed and even lied to - many didn't even know the facts.

I personally turned many yes votes to no when they understood that civil unions aren't the same as marriage.

We won't "deal" - this is just plain wrong, and we plan to keep fighting until it gets made right!