Tag Archives: DOMA

Being an Ally at Pride

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about my own exposure to gay rights as a kid, why I love Pride, and how I think children of the future will all be allies by default. Or maybe we won’t even need the word “ally” in this context at all. Maybe the kids of the future will just be like, “Allies to what? Mom,  you’re so lame.”

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Related Post:  Pride 2011 and why I call this blog Rosie Says.

Related Post: NOH8 Photoshoot

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Times Change

Look what one of my Massachusetts friends found from back in the day:

Oh hey, remember when Romney was just that moderate Republican that Massachusetts voters elected to Governor?

On the other side of the aisle, as everyone in the world knows, President Obama gave the big thumbs up marriage equality. I’ve since “evolved” in my own views, but my initial instinct was not the cheering/applauding/hooraying of many of my friends and the internet.

My initial reaction was one part skepticism, one part “not enough, Sir,” and one part “too little too late.” It’s hard for me to believe that a black lawyer could ever be on board with a separate but equal policy, which is what we mean when we say we think civil unions are good enough. I felt like the timing, after the crushing blow of North Carolina, was infuriating. And then I got a campaign email and I felt pandered to. The email included this:

I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.

This is what would make me a terrible politician, and possibly a dictator handing down mandates from on high, but this is how I feel: I do NOT respect discriminating beliefs of others. I do NOT believe civil rights should be a state-to-state issue. I do NOT believe that the federal government should condone states removing the civil rights of a particular group just because the people in that state feel like it. Obviously, this is not how our government works, and I’m pretty sure there are really good reasons for that. But then I watched this speech by NC’s Reverand Barber (skip to 3:10), and I got all fired up again:

“The question should have been, do you believe that the majority, by popular vote, should get to decide the rights of the minority. That’s a dangerous precedent, because that means that the rights of people are determined by who’s in the majority at a particular time.”

All of the above happened in the first five minutes after I saw the President’s announcement, but I mentioned my views have evolved, so what happened? Well, you internet people happened. I started reading Facebook posts, blog posts, Tweets and the like from some of my LGBTQ friends, and I was reminded of a few things.

My friend Helen, at Bettencourt Chase, wrote this: Today feels momentous and magical and full of hope. Will this change everything? Perhaps not in a big immediate way. Equal marriage is not going to be legalized across the country tomorrow. But things are changing, and they are changing with greater and greater momentum. I am so proud of President ObamaThings are changing. I have so much hope. I feel so lucky to be alive right now, watching this unfold.

My friend Jon, at The Daily Quinn, wrote this: Nothing the President said yesterday will change any law.  It will not erase the passage of North Carolina’s anti-equality amendment.  But if you believe that politics still matters, that words have meaning and make a difference, that symbols are an important part of our culture, yesterday was a big day.  Because the leader of your country was willing to talk about you on TV and say that he supports you.  Supports you in spite of the voices that hound you and the laws that deny you.  The President is the only person who represents the whole country, and so the voice with which he speaks is the vessel of our collected voices.  And so it is the word of the land, going forth to say: Your lifestyle has value.  Your love has value.  And instantly you are a confused teenager again, and that man on the screen, that symbol of your country, is saying the words you so longed to hear at that young and impressionable age.

And I was reminded by Helen and Jon, and so many others, that this really is a monumental moment in our history. What’s more, it’s not really my monumental moment to judge and politically dissect. I was never a confused teenager who wondered if what I wanted was good and right and allowed. I never had an authority figure tell me my lifestyle was “wrong” and I never had to worry that my relationships wouldn’t be validated in the way, however flawed, that we in this society validate them. I was reminded that it took Reagan years to acknowledge AIDS. I was reminded that Clinton put into to place DOMA and DADT. I was reminded that I will get to be there for the weddings of my LGBTQ friends, a pleasure denied my parents.

So perhaps maybe I should step off.

Related Post: Do you hope your kids will be straight?

Related Post: Happy Equal Pay Day

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Dream City in the era of DADT and DOMA

"Dream City" by Paul Klee, 1921

In a 2008 speech to the New York Public Library, Zadie Smith spoke about Obama and a place called Dream City:

It is a place of many voices, where the unified singular self is an illusion. Naturally, Obama was born there. So was I. When your personal multiplicity is printed on your face, in an almost too obviously thematic manner, in your DNA, in your hair and in the neither-this-nor-that beige of your skin—well, anyone can see you come from Dream City. In Dream City, everything is doubled, everything is various.  You have no choice but to cross borders and speak in tongues.…It’s the kind of town where the wise man says “I” cautiously, because I feels like too straight and singular a phenome to represent the true multiplicity of his experience. Instead, citizens of Dream City prefer to use the collective pronoun we.

...He had the audacity to suggest that, even if you can’t see it stamped on their faces, most people come from Dream City, too. Most of us have complicated backstories, messy histories, multiple narratives. It was a high-wire strategy, for Obama, this invocation of our collective messiness. His enemies latched on to its imprecision, emphasizing the exotic, un-American nature of Dream City, this ill-defined place where you could be from Hawaii and Kenya, Kansas and Indonesia all at the same time.

The President’s understanding of complexity, his willingness to see from multiple sides, to hear input from various voices, these skills in a leader that make me sleep soundly at night. I’m rarely disappointed in the man.

When asked in this week’s press conference about his views on gay marriage, President Dream City responded: “I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.”

Not enough, Mr. President, not enough at all. The strength of It Gets Better is in the potential for formerly impossible dreams to be realized: to serve your country, to be respected by your peers, to find love, to have a family, and for some, to get married. To support steps 1 through 4 and hedge your bets at marriage, Mr. President, is an incomplete articulation of Dream City.

Maybe there’s hope after all, from a man who’s Dream City citizenship is not written across his face, skin or hair. This week, Vice President Joe Biden said on Good Morning America: “I think the country is evolving, and I think there is an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. That is my view — but this is the President’s policy. But it is evolving.”

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