My friend Barbara, the daughter of the deceased
woman, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. She was the first in line
and Fr. Guarnizo covered the bowl containing the host and said to her, “I
cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin
according to the church.” To add insult to injury, Fr. Guarnizo left the altar
when she delivered her eulogy to her mother. When the funeral was finished he
informed the funeral director that he could not go to the gravesite to deliver
the final blessing because he was sick.
I will tell you a little about the woman who drove
that priest from the altar. She is kind, she is smart, she is funny and she
works hard promoting the arts. She pays her bills, she cares deeply for her
family and she loved her mother and her mother loved her right back. And now
she will never set foot in a Catholic church again and who can blame her?
It is time for Christians of all stripes to stop and
think about the teachings of the Jesus they proclaim to love so deeply and
revere so much. I spent twelve years in Catholic school and the Jesus I was
told about would never have turned away anyone for any reason and certainly not
on the occasion of burying a parent. Fr. Guarnizo has a lot to learn about
Christianity and the Catholic Church has a lot to learn about the teachings of
Jesus if behavior of this sort is tolerated.
. . .
As for me, I send my love and condolences to my
friend Barbara and all of the other family members who were made to witness
such an egregious display of prejudice in such an inappropriate setting. To
Father Guarnizo, I say, “Jesus would weep.”
hope the woman whose funeral he disrupted will make it her business to haunt
him. Maybe draw rainbows on his vestments.
In the first two
months of this year, same-sex marriage news has been as plentiful as wedding
guests around an open bar.
I need to
pause.Catch my breath.Tot up the wins and losses of January
Starting on the left
side of the country, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled 2-1 that California's Proposition 8 is, to use the legal term,
Supporters of the
ban on gay marriage responded by asking that all the judges of the Ninth
Circuit rehear the case.There's no
truth to the rumor that all the judges threw their robes over their faces and
chanted, "Nyah, nyah, we can't hear you!"
In Washington state,
Gov. Chris Gregoire opened 2012 with a strong endorsement of same-sex marriage,
after wrestling her Catholic doubts to the mat.The Democrat's backing seemed to be the oomph needed, as the
legislature passed a marriage-equality bill, and she signed it with emotion.
Mere hours later,
opponents of gay marriage filed Referendum 73 to repeal the legislation.Other foes are backing Initiative 1192,
which would reaffirm the definition of marriage as between a man and a
woman.I'm ready to file Proposal
123, inventive suggestions for what bigots can do with their fear-mongering.
Leap with me across
the country to Maine, where three years ago voters repealed a same-sex marriage
law, such a devastating blow that I'm surprised gay-rights advocates can speak
in complete sentences, let alone return to the fight.
But return they
gathered signatures to put the matter on the ballot, and in late February state
officials certified their efforts.So come November, Maine voters can undo their error of 2009.Lucky ducks.
In February Maine's
neighbor, New Hampshire, displayed its intention to abandon Yankee sense.At a statehouse rally in support of a
bill that would repeal same-sex marriage, the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep.
David Bates, said, "I think it's time to move back, back to the true meaning
I think it's time he
moved forward.At least to the
Leaving New England
for the Mid-Atlantic states, we land in New Jersey, where in February the state
Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, the state Assembly did, too, but Gov.
Chris Christie, as promised, vetoed the measure.
"He won't veto
the bill because he's anti-gay," said Steven Goldstein of Garden State
Equality before Republican Christie did the deed."He'll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina
presidential primary electorate is anti-gay."
Who knew South
Carolina was part of New Jersey?
Maryland had a
better result.The House of
Delegates and the state Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, and Democratic
Gov. Martin O'Malley, who sponsored the bill, plans to sign it into law before
you can say "Nuts to New Jersey."Opponents, of course, have plighted their troth to a
In federal marriage
developments, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco ruled that the
Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.DOMA is discriminatory, the judge decided, enacted by a 1996
Congress hot to show its disapproval of homosexuality.
White's ruling was
quickly appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court with
which I started this column.Between Prop 8 and DOMA, that court has a lot on its plate.Maybe the judges really did throw their
robes over their faces.
In January and
February of 2012, two states legalized same-sex marriage, and two courts ruled
against same-sex marriage bans.During this whirlwind period, we came out ahead.I'm not ready to say the tide has
turned—but it surely has budged some.
this photo, staffers from Equal Rights Washington (ERW), the Evergreen State's
LGBT advocacy organization, pose with posies.The gift came from Empire State Pride Agenda, ERW's opposite
number in New York, with a card that read, "From
state #6 to state #7, the torch is passed! Congratulations!" ERW hopes soon to be able to send a bouquet to Equality
Maryland, state #7 congratulating state #8.
Sweet sentiments in every sense.
I could be wrong, but I suspect other sorts of
advocacy groups with lots of men in them don't often send flowers to each
other.But when the guys are gay,
the flowers fly.FTD on speed dial.
It goes Christmas, New
Year's Eve, Valentine's Day. Is that fair to anyone who's alone? These are all
days you gotta be with someone. And if you didn't get around to killing
yourself at Christmas or New Year's, boom! There's Valentine's Day. I think there
should be one more after Valentine's Day just called, "Who could love
The LGBT news in my
part of the world has been good lately.Stunningly good.The
governor of Washington mastered her qualms, the legislature mustered the votes
and soon misters will be marrying misters in the Pacific Northwest.
This process has
been so speedy and gratifying that I've been in a happy place for all of 2012.
Anyone who knows me
knows that couldn’t last.
Recent LGBT news
from around the world has plucked me from my happy place and plunked me down on
an anxious acre.Listen, if it
weren't for that continuing glow from local news, I'd be on an irate island.
Start with the fact
that the "Kill the Gays" bill has resurfaced in Uganda.Oh, this time the death penalty has
been dropped, according to the bill's daddy, MP David Bahati.Now anyone convicted of
"aggravated homosexuality"—which last time around included any
HIV-positive gay person who has sex—will merely get life in prison.
Such a relief.
Openly lesbian Pepe
Julian Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda told the BBC that in the few days
since Bahati reintroduced his bill, anti-gay harassment increased.In other words, Bahati got a
lightning-quick return on his investment.A hate dividend.
worried about most is not even the police coming to arrest me, it's my neighbor
attacking me—it's the [taxi] refusing to take me to a destination.I'll be killed before I reached my
destination," said Onziema.
Suddenly I'm filled
with warmth for North American cab drivers.
The prime minister
and cabinet don't support Bahati's bill, having gotten an international earful
about it in the past, but the legislation will receive an airing."The facilitation of this debate
should not be confused for the government's support for this bill," read
an official statement.
Will the government
manage to quash the bill?Will there
be some hideous compromise?How
many more LGBT Ugandans will suffer at the hands of their neighbors?I have room if you want to join me on
my anxious acre.I'm generous that
Now to another part
of the world that currently calls for hand wringing.St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia and
considered the nation's most sophisticated metropolis, moves ever closer to
The city legislature
advanced a measure banning "gay promotion."Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the bill puts the
kibosh on any gay Pride events.Authorities can levy fines up to $16,700 for "public activities
promoting homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexualism and transgender
legalizing homosexuality thing that happened in Russia in 1993 seems to have
passed a lot of Russians by.Rather like democracy.
The St. Petersburg
legislature gave the second of three required approvals to this terrible
measure, and the third reading is imminent.The bill first went before the legislature in November;
between then and now the fines grew 10 times higher.Just how much does vodka cost these days?
Not all the
appalling LGBT news comes from abroad, of course.Ask 20-year-old Brandon White, who was beaten outside a
neighborhood store in Atlanta by gang members hurling anti-gay slurs and
shouting that his kind wasn't wanted in the area.
Their kind tends to
be not so popular either.
White didn't plan to
report the assault until he heard a video of it had been posted and gone viral."By them going ahead and putting
it on the Internet, I feel that they wanted the attention," said White,
according to The Huffington Post."They wanted to make themselves
look like they were brave or strong, but in my opinion, I'm the brave
sentiment.Powerful enough to
fling me back to my happy place.Or at least within spitting distance.
This has been an incredible week! On
Tuesday a three judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of
Appeals ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In the majority opinion,
the court wrote,”Prop 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than
to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in
On Wednesday, the Washington State House
passed a same-sex marriage bill, and now it the bill is headed to
Governor Gregoire’s desk for her signature. She promised to sign the
bill before Valentine’s Day!
Governor Gregoire’s leadership was instrumental to the success of
passing a marriage bill in Washington State. She not only supported the
bill, but she introduced the bill. This is as much her legislation as it
is our community’s legislation.
Please join us during this blog swarm to
thank Governor Gregoire for her leadership and her friendship. There is
little doubt our opponents will make their voices heard, but we know
that together our voice for equality is so much stronger.
This speech is a keeper. Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla explains her position during yesterday's debate over marriage equality in Washington.
And by the way, the House voted 55-43 to grant same-sex marriage. All that remains is for the governor to sign the bill, which she will do soon. Then: in all likelihood, the joy of a referendum. 2012 is not a dull year in the Evergreen State.
At about 8 p.m. on February 1st, 2012, the
Washington State Senate voted, 28-21, to approve marriage equality. I was
there, standing in the gallery along with hundreds of other LGBTQQI (etc.) and
allied Washingtonians. And for about 24 hours afterwards, I forgot to be ambivalent.
Now it's coming back . The ambivalence. Some of it might be better
defined as pessimism. There will almost certainly be an ugly referendum.
National so-called "family values" groups have had their eyes on our
state for months now, and are already pouring money into local religious coalitions
who have promised a ballot challenge. We'll be called pedophiles,
necrophiliacs, hell-bound harbingers of social chaos, German Shepherd-marriers.
Maybe – probably – we're headed for a California-style pendulum. We'll be allowed
to marry on one Wednesday in July, but it will only be recognised if the papers
are signed before 4:03 p.m. when another referendum will be filed, but not if
the judge was on lunch break; then it'll be back to domestic partnerships
(which will have been dissolved if we got married, so we'll have to reapply,
but since our DP was nonexistent for two hours we will actually find ourselves
to be legally separated). And then, Focus on the Creepy Old Testament Family
will start chipping away at domestic partnerships too, so we'll find ourselves
back in the 1970s before it's Thursday.
And then there's DoMA. State-based marriages don't address
the federal limbo we live in. We pay "gay taxes" on health insurance
for partners; we're not eligible for Social Security; we can't sponsor a
non-US-born partner into the country; we can have an accident in a neighbouring
state and die alone in a hospital while our partner is legally refused access
to our room. And that's just four
of the hundreds of ways in which DoMA reminds us of our status (social chaos, hell,
necrophilia, German Shepherds).
Some of my ambivalence comes from the M-word itself. Despite
my own utterly assimilated life as a middle-aged monogamously partnered lesbo
with the metaphorical white picket fence and the literal Subaru, I respect many
of the arguments from within our community against the current focus on gay marriage.
Anti-assimilation activists argue for a more radical understanding of rights.
Some argue that marriage is a patriarchal and homophobic institution to which
we should not aspire, that marriage itself requires queering. Others –this is
more where I've aligned myself recently – argue that same-sex couples don't
need the term "marriage" as long as they have all of the state and
federal rights associated with the institution. Call it whatever you want. Call
it Sid, or The Institution Formerly Known as Marriage, just give us the rights.
Even as many of us celebrate, we should not dismiss the ways
in which marriage continues to divide LGBTQ communities themselves. If it
becomes legal in this state, I will almost certainly take advantage of it. As
an already-privileged person, a white, employed, able-bodied, US citizen, I
will garner even more privileges for myself and my partner (like the right to
inherit her fleece collection without paying taxes). I don't get to dismiss the
experience of someone who tells me that they feel that their racial identity has been problematically co-opted by the marriage debate, or someone who feels that marriage legislation is taking energy and funds away from causes more immediate to their needs, such as safe
homes for queer youth, or immigration rights.
Many of these people are ten times smarter and more engaged in social justice
activism than I ever will be, and part of me understands why they didn't break
out the champagne on Wednesday. They were probably busy facilitating a peer
intervention for HIV-positive homeless drug users.
And yet. Marriage is a category that matters, and not just
to the middle-class bourgaysie. Whatever we may think of it, whether you want
to join it or queer it or abolish it, the reality of our current world is that "marriage
is how society says you are a family," as Senator Ed Murray put it the
other night. Given that we don't yet live in a utopian, gender-fluid,
all-kinship-respecting, radically anti-oppressive society, the opening up of same-sex
partnerships to a state-sanctioned definition of family can surely only be seen
Ambivalence and complexity aside, it was quite simply
amazing to witness the yes vote in the state senate that evening. And kind of
humbling. When I hear people like Senator Swecker (R-Rochester) claim that
heterosexual Christians are the real victims of discrimination, I get to roll
my eyes and mumble some recommendations of nice places from which he might, if
so inclined, take a jump. Marriage equality advocates in the senate – those
advocating to expand the rights of, you know, me - don't get to do that. They have to listen, talk to, negotiate
with, and perhaps even learn to respect this person who they know believes them
to be sinners (hell, German Shepherds). That's how political change happens,
and it's no thanks to any sophisticated deconstruction I might perform of
marriage's complicity with patriarchy or capitalism. It's thanks to the work of
politicians and activists, and their willingness to work with people I would
rather pretend don't exist.
It's not about me, although I'm hugely looking forward to
figuring out how to use both cats and dogs in our ceremony (yes,
simultaneously). It's about the gay teenager in Senator Swecker's district who
might finally feel a little more human dignity when he sees the local fags
getting married. Even if said fags have beer cans thrown at them as they walk
out of the municipal court. It's about the gay kids yet to be born, who, when
Adam and Steve live on every block, will look back on the appalling statistics
of suicide among gay youth the way we look at medieval torture devices. It's
about the lesbian couple in a retirement home, who finally have equal legal
recourse in mistreatment cases, and who, after decades in the closet and 5
years of domestic partnership, finally get to say "I do" in the way
they assumed would always be withheld from them. Marriage matters to so many of
my people. And other things matter, too, like they always did.
So: marry me, Virginia. And let's volunteer more.
Scottish-born Louisa Mackenzie is a college professor in Seattle. She is happy to be marrying into a decent fleece collection.
Babylonia Aivaz recently got married--to a 107-year-old abandoned warehouse. The Occupy Seattle protester staged the event to call attention to gentrification. Since Aivaz is female, and so is the building--I've no idea how the Occupy folks ascertained that--this was a gay wedding. Alas, the union will be a short one, as the warehouse is due to be demolished by mid-February. Aivaz will have to struggle on as a widow.
The Washington State Senate votes this evening on same-sex marriage. While Aivaz married herself up to bricks and mortar on Jan. 29 to make a point about community space, I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of the senators cites the nuptials as an example of what granting gay marriage can lead to. If Washington legalizes same-sex marriage, soon everybody will want to marry the Space Needle.