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The “M-word”

Posted: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

There was a time when I didn’t think being mar­ried was a big deal. It’s the “M-word.” It’s just a word.

I would call les­bians and gays who wanted to be mar­ried “assim­i­la­tion­sts.”  There wasn’t any good rea­son to imi­tate straight peo­ple. Being gay was dif­fer­ent, I thought.

If my broth­ers and sis­ters wanted the M-word, I thought they should have that right. The right was denied to us by Pres. Bill Clin­ton. Instead of actual equal­ity, he came out for gays in the mil­i­tary. “Huh?” I said. It didn’t work, and he set­tled for that awful rule called “Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell.” Under DADT, les­bian and gay sol­diers kept get­ting thrown out. Bill Clin­ton — the man I sup­ported — signed DADT into law. I didn’t just sup­port him, I was an eager staff mem­ber who worked my butt off for his elec­tion. Then… awful got added to hideous. Clin­ton came out in favor of the fed­eral Defense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA). Pres Bubba said he was in favor of the law. He didn’t think peo­ple like me should get mar­ried. DOMA was the law of the land, and that fam­ily con­nec­tion is why I was a total sup­porter of Barack Obama. I wasn’t going to lift a fin­ger to help Clinton’s wife. Maybe that was wrong on my part, but it is how I felt. It is how I still feel to a cer­tain extent.

There were gays and les­bians in the Oval Office, and they were hop­ping mad at Clin­ton. Here’s the hate­ful phrase that pres­i­dent used for them: “Where else are you going to go?”

Betrayal is the sad­dest word ever defined.

So now, Clin­ton is all smiles when he says DOMA was a bad idea. He thinks me get­ting mar­ried would be fine. I don’t buy it. He wants us to for­get that he signed the law. More recently, we’re sup­posed to for­get that he sug­gested John Kerry come out strongly against mar­riage equal­ity (Kerry has always been for LGBT equality).

Clinton’s wife now says that gays and les­bians should be able to get mar­ried. I don’t buy that either.

Guilt by asso­ci­a­tion for Mrs. Clin­ton. Yup. It’s prob­a­bly wrong, but that is my hon­est feel­ings on the family.


Rick and I have been together for 20 years. He’s the love of my life.

Then some­thing weird hap­pened. We got married.

It was in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. Same-gender cou­ples don’t even get a dou­ble take in the nation’s cap­i­tal. It hap­pens all the time. He and I went before a judge, and then we got a piece of paper.

The mag­i­cal thing hap­pened on our way home. We took the train from Wash­ing­ton to Chicago and then to Dallas.

Wow. I saw wheat grow­ing, and they really looked like those amber waves of grain. Beautiful.

For the first time in my life, I felt ordi­nary. I love ordinary.

That judge in Wash­ing­ton told me (not in so many words) that our life together had merit.

I can’t find the exact words to tell you how I felt on the train, except that my life with Rick was some­how hap­pier and richer.

edgy

Those who want to deny this M-word to gay cou­ples have no idea how caus­tic their mar­riage apartheid is. They say that boy-girl cou­ples can get mar­ried, but I can’t. When I was in the mid­dle of that mind­set, I had no idea of the spir­i­tual and emo­tional dam­age that soci­ety was doing. Once free from those sticky chains, I could look back and see the tragedy. I cried to think of my gay broth­ers and sis­ters who have never known mar­riage. I felt the hor­ror of all those young men and women who killed them­selves over society’s con­stant drub­bing. I felt angry at the hate-filled politi­cians in my home state of Texas.

The goody-two-shoes say “No mar­riage for queers.” In the same breath they berate les­bians and gays for being promis­cu­ous. They don’t see (or ignore the fact) that being mar­ried is society’s way of encour­ag­ing a healthy and lov­ing atmos­phere. There was a time when I’d see a gor­geous actor on TV and dream of rip­ping off his clothes and hav­ing wild sex with him. There’s one gay actor on prime time TV that used to be a reg­u­lar in my fan­tasy world. But he’s mar­ried. He and his hus­band have adopted chil­dren. Since Rick and I got offi­cially mar­ried, I love see­ing that actor on TV. He is still one of the most adorable peo­ple I’ve ever seen, but my heart soars for his mar­riage. How lucky those kids are to wake up every day to such a lovely father. I’m told that they live their lives out of the Hol­ly­wood spot­light. They’re just a reg­u­lar fam­ily. Until Rick and I were mar­ried, I couldn’t be happy for the actor and his hus­band. I wanted to be promis­cu­ous. The change wasn’t forced on me. I didn’t decide to stop think­ing about rip­ping his clothes off. It just hap­pened. I smile when his show comes on, and I am so happy for him.

I need to have hope and char­ity for every­one. The self-styled “reli­gious” right is included in the group of things I am sup­posed to love. I’m sup­posed to forgive.

To tell you the truth, I’m not there yet. I don’t like what the rightwing has done to Chris­tian­ity. That minor­ity of mon­sters have turned the reli­gion of love into some­thing with buzz saw blades. It’s like the Inqui­si­tion and the Witch Hunts all over.

What I love about Amer­ica is that it remains edgy and exper­i­men­tal. That’s the way the coun­try was started, and I hope — maybe even trust or expect — that the Con­sti­tu­tion will keep evolving.

I believe there will be a time when my mar­riage to the man I love will be rec­og­nized by my home state (Texas) and by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. That won’t come from any change in Texas pol­i­tics. It will only hap­pen when a higher and more pow­er­ful author­ity tells the rightwing to sit down.

Upstream from me: Gov Rick Perry, Rep Pete Ses­sions, Sen John Cornyn, and Sen Ted Cruz. I’m the gay bug. They’re the tea party windshield. The only thing that has my back is the US Con­sti­tu­tion. I look to the Supreme Court for cover. There is so much religion-wrapped hatred in Texas. I pray the court gets engaged with the destruction of DOMA. Some states let lesbians and gays marry, while Texas politicians don’t even want to know that I kiss and hug my husband.

My political overseers want to deny me liberty. They don’t see any reason to let me pursue happiness.

Texas will see marriage equality one day. We aren’t there yet. I may not live long enough to see it, but I am con­fi­dent in the tra­jec­tory of Amer­i­can society.

What I can do in the meantime is to release the hate­ful rightwing from ani­mos­ity. I want to keep a char­i­ta­ble atti­tude toward the hate-mongers because–

  • I am mar­ried to the love of my life, and noth­ing any­body says or does can change that; and,
  • the Lords of Karma are much bet­ter at lev­el­ing the field than I could ever be.

One other note. Rick will con­firm this. That actor? If he calls my cell phone, I have told Rick that I may not be around for a cou­ple of days. Mmmm.…

Rick and Wynn Wagner

Rick and Wynn Wagner

Lion King equality

Lion King equality

Grumpy Kitty equality

Grumpy Kitty equality

True Blood equality

True Blood equality

Bacon equality

Bacon equality

Smirnoff equality

Smirnoff equality

Paula Dean equality, y'all

Paula Dean equality, y’all

Matzah equality

Passover equality

Star Wars equality

Star Wars equality

Peanut equality

Peanut equality

 

Bill Clinton: where we went

Posted: Friday, March 8th, 2013
Bill and Al's Excellent Adventure

Seriously Photoshopped picture that made the rounds in the 1991 presidential election.

Former president Bill Clinton wrote a piece published in the Washington Post in which he says it is time for marriage equality. That’s nice, but please pardon me if I don’t jump up and down breathlessly.

Bill Clinton is the president that got us into this mess. He signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). During his reelection bid, he even ran radio advertising touting how much he supported so-called “traditional” marriage.

Clinton also instituted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), that awful military law that caused hundreds of LGBT soldiers out of their chosen line of work. Back then, Clinton met with several LGBT activists. When they expressed their displeasure over DADT, the president just shrugged and said we had to accept things.

“Where else are you going to go?” he asked.

I still remember DADT and DOMA. I’m still hurt that a politician who actively sought gay support would be so hateful in the laws he supported. I am still hurt that he would do radio commercials bragging about how he stuck it to us.

I know for a fact that his wife lost LGBT support because of the hurt of his presidential actions. Maybe we’d have our first female president already if Mr. Clinton hadn’t pushed DOMA and DADT. Maybe Hillary would be president if her husband hadn’t gone on radio to explain how anti-gay he was at heart.

“Where else are you going to go?”

Barack Obama, Mr. Clinton. I went with someone who did what he promised and didn’t change his tune to match what he considered expedient.

And if Bill Clinton really thinks the Supreme Court ought to strike down DOMA, an op-ed piece in the Washington Post is the wrong forum. The newspaper gets a larger readership. It gets Clinton publicity about how he has changed.

He could have (and should have) done something more on-the-record. He could have been part of an amicus brief, filed officially with the Supreme Court. That would have been something of substance, not merely something with sizzle.

Regardless of the forum, what Bill Clinton said this week is missing two important words. Without those two words, his grandstanding efforts in print are just so much hooey.

The two words Bill Clinton has shamefully failed to use: I’M SORRY.

St. Thomas Aquinas would be Ashamed of this Roman Church

Posted: Friday, October 19th, 2012
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

The pope’s gang of hyper-dressed thugs are being called out as being the biggest contributor to homophobic political groups. The all-male (and allegedly all-hetero) bishops of the Roman church don’t like the idea of gay marriage. In addition to the Roman Catholic church itself, big anti-gay expenditures are reported from the Knights of Columbus, the church’s beer-drinking bingo-playing men’s fraternity.

The pope doesn’t like queers. The Knights of Columbus doesn’t like queers. I get all that. I think it’s silly, but I get it. I think it would be tragic to grow up in a family of Roman… wait: I did grow up in that kind of family. It is hard on kids, but most survive with a few scars.

Where the Romans cross the line is when they say that everybody has to march in lock step with their code of conduct. How Counter-Reformation of them. Right?

What’s interesting is that they’ve conveniently forgotten the teachings of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). He would be dead-set against all this meddling in secular law. The Roman Catholics say he’s one of their greatest teachers, and he would tell today’s bishops to stay out of non-church legislation.

Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican priest from Naples, Italy. The Roman Catholics call this guy Doctor Angelicus (Angelic Doctor). They call him their Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis (Universal Doctor). This is the scholastic doctor, not a medical term. The Roman church reserves the term for their biggest of big-deal-thinkers. In other words, whatever Thomas Aquinas said is something you can basically take to the bank.

Back in seminary, I had to read his works until I was almost cross-eyed. One of the cool things he did was bring the logic of Aristotle forward. The Dark Ages were so dark that the only intellectual activity was in the east. Thomas Aquinas did his best to change that. (Mazel tov!)

Why is all this relevant to his church’s activity in gay rights? He wouldn’t approve. That’s why.

This Angelic Doctor said, for example, that governments should never make prostitution illegal. [gasp]

He wrote that the church is right to teach that prostitution is a sin. Maybe it is a serious sin, but the whole point to having a thoughtful church is to encourage individuals to overcome sinful things. He said that people who don’t tie themselves to the church’s teachings shouldn’t be forced to follow those teachings.

It would be like Jews trying to get Kosher laws written into criminal statutes.

Pope Pius V (1504-1572), also considered a saint, said St. Thomas Aquinas was “the most brilliant light of the Church.” And yet the modern Romans ignore his teaching.

Bishops of the Roman Rite studied the same Thomas Aquinas that I studied. They know this stuff, but they have a selective memory. Getting homophobic laws on the books fits their current map of reality. They want Roman adherents to be anti-gay. They want to expand that teaching to Jews and atheists and even Methodists. It tells me that they are so inept in their ability to control their own flock that they have to call for a lifeline. Rather than press the flock, they need to hire the government to do their enforcement.

I wish I could believe that they are singling out gay people, leaving the rest of humanity in peace. That isn’t the case if you consider their action on contraceptives. The Spanish Inquisition. The Crusades.

It’s a long history, and it is quite un-Christian.

 

 

So fast, it’s hard to follow

Posted: Friday, May 25th, 2012
Photo by Mark Singleton

Photo by Mark Singleton

When the homophobic California law called “prop 8” up for a vote, it passed mainly because of two things.

  1. Religions dumped millions of dollars into anti-gay advertising in the state. The Mormons and Roman Catholics gathered up their tax-free donations and used the money to influence a political struggle for equal rights. They’re hate-mongers, and there’s little excuse for not taxing them if they are going going to act like political machines.
  2. African American voters came out in record numbers because Prop 8 was on the same ballot as Barack Obama, the first black president. At the time, people of color were solidly against equal rights for gay men and lesbians. They helped push the anti-marriage measure through. It passed with 52% of the vote.

Since then, there has been a shift in public opinion like I’ve never seen before. In just a few short years, support for equal treatment for LGBT citizens has grown.

There are three reasons, I think.

  • More gay people have begun to live their lives in the open. They don’t hide. They aren’t closeted. This is huge. Study after study says that when straight people support equality for LGBT people, it’s because they know somebody who is gay. Just living openly and honesty is the best thing any LGBT person can do.
  • President Obama announced that he is not going to challenge DOMA (anti-marriage federal statute). He says his administration considers it unconstitutional. It is. When I was a kid, people could go to Las Vegas or Mexico to get a “quirky” divorce when their home state disallowed the divorce. After the quirky out-of-town divorce, it was accepted by the home state. There was never a question about it: if you get divorced in Las Vegas, you’re divorced everywhere. DOMA says that doesn’t apply to gay couples. Rick and I were married in Washington, DC. It was a legal wedding that is recognized by the civil authority in DC. It is recognized by the canons of my church. It is not recognized by my home state of Texas. It is not recognized by the federal government. What happened in DC is supposed to stay in DC, and that’s wrong. If a straight couple had gotten married there, Texas would see them as married. I don’t have equal protection. Texas is homophobic and wants to keep queers in their place. That’s wrong. DOMA is evil. The Texas constitutional amendment that says two dudes can’t get married is hateful and un-Christian, but bubba likes to be hateful. President Obama started a change in attitude when his administration told government lawyers to stand down in DOMA cases. It’s more than a legal move. It changes public perception of DOMA and all the anti-gay hate laws.
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden and several Cabinet secretaries have said publicly that they support marriage equality. The NAACP (the largest group for racial equality in the US) came out in support of gay marriage. The Southern Poverty Law Center has branded some of the worst anti-marriage organizations as Hate Groups. They are! I personally am so grateful to the NAACP and SPLC for their action.

There was a time recently when I was building up a big resentment over this. I worked for equality for people of color. When I was a pimply-faced kid, I even took part in a march headed by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I am not a newbie to the issue of equal rights. The content of ones character really is more important than some accident of birth, like skin color. I’ve worked and pushed and marched and protested, and I never did it wanting anything in return. It was just the right thing to do.

Then Prop 8 passed, and it passed because of people of color came out to vote for Barack Obama. LGBT equality isn’t a “civil rights” issue, they said. Marriage should be between one man and one woman, they said.

They are wrong. What we have in the US is marriage apartheid. Heterosexuals can marry, but they don’t want anybody else to have the same laws opened to same gender couples.

And then came Biden… and Obama… and the NAACP… and the SPLC. Reports about bullying and gay suicides became everyday reports on the news. The military started letting gay soldiers serve without lying about their sexual orientation (and the effectiveness of the military hasn’t suffered). Cadets who are openly gay are being graduated from American military academies, and they are beginning to serve with honor.

Now the shift has begun. Latino voters have always supported LGBT rights. In the big cities, gay ghettos are often situation right next to Latino neighborhoods. We’ve been buddies for years.

The change is with black voters. When President Obama and Vice President Biden talk about equal rights and justice, people listen. When the NAACP goes public over gay rights, people of color — especially older black people — notice.

I am so grateful to them. I am in awe of Mr. Obama. He truly is the first “gay president” … like Bill Clinton was the first “black president.”  President Obama didn’t have to do such a risky thing as come out so strongly for equal treatment for LGBT citizens. It was gutsy, and I am so grateful to him. What he did was more than the occasional lip-service some pandering politicians have done in the past.

When I first heard about it, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I was wrong. This is epic. It is huge, and I wish that we could get all those suicides back to see it. I wish we could bring soldiers like Leonard Malcovich back to life so he could see that soldiers don’t have to lie in the America.

It’s going to be huge when my marriage to Rick is recognized in Texas and the other hate-filled South. But the real news will be when two women get married, and it doesn’t make the news except in the wedding listings of the local paper. The real news is when we have equality that isn’t a big story.

Leonard Matlovich grave
Matlovich’s grave at the Congressional Cemetery. The tombstone reads: “A Gay Vietnam Veteran When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one” Photographer: Michael Bedwell

An Elephant of a Different Color

Posted: Friday, March 30th, 2012

The Elephant of a Different ColorAccording to POLITICO, Congressional Republican leaders have quietly put the kibosh on several anti-gay marriage bills.

“Santorum is spinning in his grave.”

“He isn’t dead.”

“The news may give him a heart attack.”

The idea is that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — which is already Uncle Sam’s law — is awful and unconstitutional. Unrelated and unfair, but DOMA is the reason I wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton for President. DOMA was put on the books when her husband was president. I first met Bill Clinton when I was a pimply-faced kid in Fort Worth, and he was running George McGovern’s campaign in Texas. Whatever goodwill I held for him went bye-bye when he got DOMA passed. BAD JOB, BILL. SHAME ON YOU.

Republicans — like Carl Rove — went on to use gay rights as a wedge issue. Rove got “W” re-elected by putting anti-gay propositions on the ballots in lots of swing states. Those propositions were magnets for people who would also vote for “W”. SHAME ON YOU, CARL.

They pushed really hard against gay people. They stirred up lots of dust and got plenty of right wing bigots to the polls. “W” was reelected because of Rove’s shenanigans.

Here’s the deal: Carl Rove overplayed his hand.

State Rep. Glen Maxey once told me that he didn’t get too worked up when the hateful right attack him. Maxey was the first openly gay member of the Texas Lege. He said he just stayed calm because the people would hear all the commotion, and they’d see it for what it really was. It was silly and hateful, and homophobia was a prejudice that had no place in our republic. Maxey said that when gay bills came up a second and third time, the screaming from the bigots would be a little softer each time.

That’s apparently what has been happening in the national capitol.

Allen West, a U.S. Rep from Florida is way out on the Right, and he’s had strong opinions against gay people in the past. But listen to him today: “I personally have deep convictions about my children having a financially stable country that they can live in, I want my daughters to have the opportunities that I had, and that’s what concerns me That’s what keeps me up awake at night, not worrying about who’s sleeping with who.”

When I hear Santorum focus on what my husband and I do in the privacy of our bedroom, I’m annoyed but calm. I know that the younger generation will see the bigoted froth-filled hatred of private feelings (love and commitment) as the residual slime of a sad chapter of ignorance dressed up in religious dogma.

 

Government Imprimatur of Marriage

Posted: Monday, November 28th, 2011

Government Imprimatur of Marriage

By Wynn Wagner

When I was a kid, divorce laws in Texas were so strict that it was darn near impossible to get un-hitched. Married couples once went to Nevada or Mexico for divorces because their laws were more lax. When the non-Texas divorce was final, there was never a question that it was a legal divorce. Get divorced in Mexico, and you were divorced everywhere.

That’s all different from the marriage apartheid that some right-wing religions are imposing on citizens. Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics don’t cotton to same-gender marriage. If their own gay members can’t marry, they say that no gay couples should marry.

It’s one thing for a religious cult to keep a sacrament or rite of passage from a minority group within their ranks. It’s quite another to let them dictate the canons for other religious groups.

These religions style themselves as “mainstream.” What they are doing is trying to weld themselves into secular government. These finaglers are trying to be the state religion. In Texas, they’ve succeeded beyond belief.

If cults like the Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists can’t control their own members, they shouldn’t be allowed to get the government to do their enforcers. No government should be the muscle for any religion what can’t keep its own membership to live withing its rules.

My church says that marriage is good. Old Catholicism teaches that we all need love, regardless of race or gender or any of the other accidents of birth. That isn’t good enough for Texas, of course.

My church says I’m married, but Texas thinks it knows more about theology than my church. New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Canada, Scandinavia, and the District of Columbia all say I’m married.

Couples can get divorced in Nevada but can’t get married in New York.

I don’t remember any Southern Baptist saying Texas should ignore Nevada divorces. Some said Nevada was immoral, but that’s different from the caustic effects of getting government to enforce your bigoted notions. If Nevada divorces were legal, then New York marriages should be legal.

This is gerrymandering morality laws.