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Archive for the tag “marriage equality”

Equality is a Beautiful Thing!

So much has been said and written about yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that I wasn’t going to do more than just jump for joy and yell “YES!” in the background. Then I watched this clip of Andrew Sullivan talking about what this means to him personally and I just had to share it:

He emphasizes that Justice Kennedy used the word “dignity” nine times in his opinion. Dignity. Exactly. All of this, at its core, is about dignity, about equality, about justice, about all the things we’re supposed to stand for in America but still struggle with every single day. We are far from perfect in how these ideals play out in our country, but the fact that the struggle for marriage equality, for equality for LGBT people in general, is finally being seen as a civil rights issue and finally being embraced by majorities in our country is huge. The first sitting President to say he believes in marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, DOMA in the trash, thirteen states where same sex marriage is legal–we can, with confidence, say to bigots “You are on the wrong side of history. You and your bigotry will be left in the dust.” I know there is a lot more progress that needs to be made but I’m so damn excited about this, what it means for our country, what it means for LGBT people, what it means for my children to know equality isn’t just an ideal! And a big cheer to the State Department for releasing this photo with a statement by Secretary of State Kerry (yea, my hubby has an awesome boss and for all the complaining I do about the Department I LOVE that it embraces equality and has for quite some time)

"The U.S. Department of State applauds the Supreme Court’s decision striking down an unjust and discriminatory law and increasing freedom and equality for #LGBT Americans." - #SecKerry (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

“The U.S. Department of State applauds the Supreme Court’s decision striking down an unjust and discriminatory law and increasing freedom and equality for #LGBT Americans.” – #SecKerry (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


When I opened my Facebook yesterday morning one of the first things I saw was the status of a friend of mine who married her wife quite some time ago, yesterday she proposed to her and now they get to be legally married and given protection under federal law. It’s just so exciting! I haven’t seen my friend in ages but she is such and sweet, kind person and when I see pictures of her with her wife the love that they have for each other shines through. And, now, that love is going to be legally recognized! Have I said I’m excited?

And a word to people who are upset about this …

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Equality is a beautiful thing!

How Can You Not Love the Softies?

I’m not much of a football fan, more of a rugby girl, but football is a big deal in my house, more to the point the Baltimore Ravens are a big deal in my house. I married a Baltimore man who has passed on his love (or obsession, you know, whatever) for football and the Ravens to our children. While I love that the hubby and the kids get the chance to bond over football, and I find no small amount of amusement listening to them yell at an inanimate object while watching a game, game time was always just “me” time–time to read a book or do my nails since I had zero interest in football. Then I learned that several of the players on the Ravens are involved with an awesome campaign called Show Your Soft Side, which promotes kindness towards animals, and I immediately went from “don’t care a bit about football” to “awww, how can you not love a bunch of big, tough softies and want them to win?” I mean, seriously, how can you not love this

Torrey Smith with his ridiculously adorable dogs

I even sat down and watched a game when the Ravens played the Eagles, in part because I took great pleasure in watching Michael Vick get the snot sacked out of him by the Softies (as the Show Your Soft Side guys are called). I’m not usually an advocate for violent retribution but I make an exception for Vick and his dog torturing, dog fighting ass.

Each time a photo from the Show Your Soft Side campaign pops up in my FB feed I smile. Far too often we only hear about the bad things that happen in cities like Baltimore, but it’s so important to focus also on the good that people do in order to combat cruelty and promote kindness. As I started learning more about the ways in which these Softies not only promote compassion towards animals but also involve themselves in their communities I found myself slipping deeper in love. A shining example of this is Running Back Ray Rice who, when he learned about an 8-year old fan whose family lost their home and their pets in a fire, and the ways her school was rallying around them, decided to throw a school-wide party for the students. The girl’s mother said “It was shared with Ray Rice on his Facebook page. His publicist came out and contacted us immediately and he was touched by two things. He was touched by the kids kindness and the school because he is all about anti bullying, and about the pets, the loss of the pets.” I’ve never been someone who thinks that sports figures, or celebrities in general, should be held up as heroes simply for their talent but these are some awesome guys who have involved themselves in their communities and with campaigns that make a difference.

Which brings me to Brendon Ayanbadejo (you can find him on Twitter here). Ayanbadejo is not only a Softie but also an outspoken advocate for marriage equality which, particularly in the arena of professional sports, is a big freaking deal. In an editorial he wrote for the Huffington Post in 2009 Ayanbadejo wrote

If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can’t a loving same sex couple tie the knot? How could our society grant more rights to a heterosexual one night stand wedding in Vegas than a gay couple that has been together for 3, 5, 10 years of true love?

He also made this spot in support of marriage equality in Maryland

And did this photograph for the NoH8 Campaign

Apparently he and Viking Chris Kluwe, who backed Ayanbadejo up when he caught heat for being so outspoken about marriage equality, were even named Honorary Gays of the Year by GQ. I didn’t know that was a thing but I’m going with it.

So what’s my point, other than indulging in some post-Superbowl rah-rah for the first time ever? My point is that I LOVE to see these big, tough football players do tender things, love to see them speaking up for equality and kindness, love to see their acts of compassion, their dimensions, their depth, and to see them live with grace and courage (Wide Receiver Torrey Smith, who features in that first Softie photo up there, is a perfect example of living and playing with grace and courage.)

One lesson we’ve always driven home while watching sports with our kids is that you don’t succeed by giving up, or losing faith in yourself. You succeed by moving forward, sometimes slogging through. We’ve also stressed that success doesn’t always mean winning a prize or a game, it’s also defined by graciously accepting defeat, and by having the courage and determination to give whatever you are doing everything you have. So thank you, Softies, for being a great group of guys and for doing good things. I feel pretty darn good about holding these guys up as examples for my kids of good men doing good things. Congratulations on winning the Superbowl and we look forward to another season of you giving it everything you’ve got!

The Gay Experience, TCKS, and The President

When I heard the President state this past Wednesday in an interview that he supports equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian partners I got tears in my eyes. True, it doesn’t change legislation, but to have a sitting President state his support for marriage rights for ALL Americans–that’s HUGE!  The person whose opinion I was most looking forward to hearing after the President’s statement was blogger/writer/pundit and all-around brilliant man, Andrew Sullivan. I read Sullivan’s blog daily, it’s the one thing on-line that I never miss. I love him because you can’t stick him in a box, he doesn’t wrap himself in a political ideology. I love him because, while I don’t always agree with him, the intellectual and emotional honesty with which he approaches politics and life is something I greatly admire. Sullivan, of course, did not disappoint me. When I read his initial thoughts in a piece on his blog entitled “Obama Lets Go of Fear,” I cried again. Just to clarify, I’m not a crier but this is a subject I care deeply about for a lot of reasons so it gets to me.

Today I read Sullivan’s Newsweek piece on the subject, again I found him insightful and eloquent. I can’t imagine how it must feel for children and adults alike who have been marginalized, bullied by family and schoolmates, made to feel that they’re not “normal,” to know that the President of the United States has their back. So Joe Shmoe down the block thinks there’s something wrong with you, well, the President begs to differ. I don’t know if it will help in what, for some, must be a daily battle to maintain self-esteem but I’d reckon it’s a very big step in the right direction.

There’s one other thing about Sullivan’s Newsweek piece that hit very close to home for me and it was this bit:

Barack Obama had to come out of a different closet. He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family. The America he grew up in had no space for a boy like him: black yet enveloped by loving whiteness, estranged from a father he longed for (another common gay experience), hurtling between being a Barry and a Barack, needing an American racial identity as he grew older but chafing also against it and over-embracing it at times.

This is the gay experience: the discovery in adulthood of a community not like your own home and the struggle to belong in both places, without displacement, without alienation. It is easier today than ever. But it is never truly without emotional scar tissue. Obama learned to be black the way gays learn to be gay. And in Obama’s marriage to a professional, determined, charismatic black woman, he created a kind of family he never had before, without ever leaving his real family behind. He did the hard work of integration and managed to create a space in America for people who did not have the space to be themselves before. And then as president, he constitutionally represented us all.

As the mother of three children who are growing up overseas I watch them straddle different cultures, different norms, different habits, languages, ideas of what is “normal” and what is not. I watch them struggle to try to reintegrate when we go home, sometimes it’s simple and sometimes it’s complicated. Parts of them transition from culture to culture easily, in many ways they are chameleons who can change their colors as needed. They’re as comfortable sitting around a communal bowl of food on a dirt floor in Guinea as they are sitting in a posh restaurant in a castle in Ireland or a Johnny Rockets in Virginia–that’s the nature of their lives. But there’s a difference between fitting in and feeling like you belong to a place and a people and, sometimes, they feel like they don’t quite belong even at “home,” in America. Prior to our decision to become a State Department family I’d never thought about how much one’s nationality impacts ones sense of identity and belonging.

When we’re overseas, while our kids are sometimes singled out for being American, by and large they are accepted because they go to school with other nomadic kids so they generally don’t feel like outsiders. When we go home, however, I always worry it’s going to be a different story because I’ve heard about the struggles of Third Culture Kids, as their called, trying to reintegrate into American culture. It’s perfectly understandable for an American kid to feel a bit out of place in Guinea or Costa Rica but in America? While I understand why they don’t automatically feel “at home” I worry that they won’t understand why they don’t automatically feel at home. I worry that they will feel like outsiders in their own country, which could be painful or it could be something they don’t care about, I guess we’ll see. My hope for them is that they’ll create their own sense of belonging and, while they will know they are American, they will also know in a tangible way that they are citizens of the world–they’ll be like cultural soup, rich with flavors from all over the world but still uniquely them.

Either way, Sullivan’s description of the gay experience, of the President’s own struggles to figure out where he fit in relation to the cultures he was straddling, sounded so much like the TCK experience–belonging to different places, different cultures, sometimes feeling like an outsider, and trying to figure out who YOU are in the middle of all of that. It reminded me to be vigilant with my own children to the difficulties that our lifestyle can cause but it also drove home in a very personal way a truth; our humanity has so many different aspects that bind us. Even in the midst of feelings of alienation, of being unsure about where one belongs, there are others there with us, we’re not alone. It brings me comfort to know that there are so many people who can understand my kids in a way even I can’t. I like the fact that a gay, British born, American intellectual has more in common with my (as far as I know at this point) straight, American born nomads than I ever thought possible. I like the thought that Sullivan, and the President, and people like them, have my kid’s backs and that they’ve got theirs. That makes me smile.

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