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The Supreme Court Decision that Almost didn’t Happen

Posted: Monday, July 1st, 2013
Justice Anthony Kennedy

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Justice Anthony Kennedy is the person who wrote the majority opinion in the DOMA cast, as well as several other opinions that have been important milestones for LGBT Americans.

Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by a conservative President: Ronald Reagan. He was not the first name submitted by President Reagan, and how different my world would be if the Senate had confirmed the original nominee.

Senate democrats blocked that first one: Robert Bork.

 

 

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

 

We the People: Equal Justice under Law

Posted: Monday, March 25th, 2013
"Equal Justice Under Law" (SCOTUS)

Supreme Court building, Washington DC

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that big decisions shouldn’t be made by nine unelected Supreme Court justices. [Washington Post article covering a Sacramento, CA speech]

I am not a lawyer, but I disagree with that. We have a federal constitution whose Article Three spends a great deal of ink saying the American court system is in place to keep the majority from being a bully.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Without federal courts, the insanity that permeates policies in the state of Texas would have no check, no balance. The Constitution is in place as a social contract. It has the ability and duty to tell the hate-mongers to sit down. We have a Constitution that makes it unnecessary for anyone to vote on the basic rights of anyone. Marriage is one of the fundamental of being American.

LGBT Americans want… expect… to be treated equally. Nothing more. But certainly nothing less.

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.

Words Together for the First Time

Posted: Saturday, December 1st, 2012
West Point chapel

Chapel, West Point, New York state

It’s been a great era for the LGBT community in the USA. Nothing’s perfect, but the changes have been amazing.

The chapel at West Point — the US Army college in New York state — is having a wedding of two lesbians.

President Obama, who said that he’d end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” did just that. The American military didn’t implode. Reenlistment by non-gay soldiers didn’t cave like some homophobes predicted.

More states have approved marriage equality. Hate laws are still on the books in some states, but it is an improving situation. Everything could change in a flash, but it’s good right now.

The big news didn’t make any newscast. I was watching a TV show (Person of Interest on CBS). There was an extortion attempt against one of the episode’s characters: someone threatened to kill “her wife” unless the character did something. Lesbians on prime time television. It’s happened, even in the tightly puckered world of US television plots. This time was different.

“Her wife” was mentioned without comment. The fact that the characters were LGBT was just an accepted incidental. There was no subplot relating to their gayness. Nothing in the storyline was augmented or diminished because we had a lesbian couple. That’s just who they were.

I noticed because it was so matter-of-fact. Words that are put together today are combinations I never thought I’d see —

  • her wife
  • his husband
  • military same-sex wedding

There’s lots more work to do, of course:

“I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”
— Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, August 27, 2003 (Fox News interview)

 

 

2012

Posted: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The 2012 election is over. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with results I like more, if you pretend Texas doesn’t exist.

Gov. Mitt Romney gave a gracious concession speech. If he had talked like a statesman during the election, he might have been elected. Some of his more virulent supporters are (naturally) foaming with talk of revolution and impeachment.

I’m not a pundit or anybody special. I just have a set of sensitive feelings and expertly honed viewpoints.



Two points and then I’ll shut up about politics for awhile (that’s a lie, of course, because I never shut up about politics).

  • I was having a fairly calm conversation with a guy who probably voted a straight Republican ticket. I didn’t ask; he didn’t tell. I waxed a bit about one of my heroes, former Senator George McGovern. He died a few days before the election, and he would have been so happy about the results of the 2012 vote. Back in 1972, I worked my butt off for that man as he tried to keep Richard Nixon from being a two-term president. McGovern lost. Nixon kept himself from serving two complete terms because he was a crook and had to resign in disgrace. The point is that the guy I was chatting with said something shocking about George McGovern: “Who?” Oy.
  • The other point I want to make has to do with voter suppression and rigged voting machines. Republicans supposedly tried to keep minority voting to a minimum. When they “allowed” voting, it was allegedly on rigged electronic voting machines. If all that’s true, they need to get a new batch of hooligans and programmers. Their rigged voting machines didn’t rig the vote.

 

Civil Unions is a half-measure

Posted: Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Photo is from Diane’s Muse

By Wynn Wagner

Several states now allow what they call civil unions.

I’m happy that my gay brothers and lesbian sisters can approach equality with those born heterosexual. It’s a step, but it isn’t equality.

This isn’t a gay issue. It is a matter of religion.

My church — the Old Catholic Church — teaches that sexual orientation is not a barrier to marriage. Gay men and lesbian women can marry in the Old Catholic Church. Most priests don’t blink an eye or hyperventilate when they’re asked to perform a gay wedding. In fact, one of the oldest marriage rites we have is for two men from what we call the Orthodox Church.

The Roman Catholic Church thinks it differently. Rome’s church was established in the year 1054, regardless of their marketing attempts to claim it is the “original” Christian sect. Rome says that so-called traditional marriage is always between one man and one woman. Balderdash.

The Roman emperor Charlemagne (742-814) is considered one of the great Christian emperors. He led the Rome back when there was one Christian denomination. He was the leader of Rome when the Old Catholic Church was formed in Holland, by the way.

But here’s the thing: Charlemagne had eighteen children over the course of his life with eight of his ten known wives or concubines. He had multiple wives at the same time, and he never apologized for that. He was a Christian with a stronger claim to “traditional marriage” than anything Rome can put forward.

It’s find for a religion to define marriage however they like. If the Romists and Baptists want one-man-one-woman as their prototype, they’ll never get an argument from me. The argument comes when they try to inflict their dogma onto my reality map.

I’m not Roman Catholic. I’m not Baptist. Yet, they try to control my church.

The Bill of Rights in America says that government isn’t supposed to pass laws that restrict the free exercise of religion, but they do pass those laws. They have judges who claim to be reasonable but restrict my religion every day.

What needs to happen is this: the US government needs to get out of the religion business. My church heralds love in a diverse array. Marriage is a glorious gift.

I shouldn’t have a law that promotes rules of some johnny-come-lately churches like the Roman Catholics and the Baptists.

Bravo for civil unions! Now, can y’all stay the heck out of dogma?

Photo is from Diane’s Muse.

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.