More thoughts on Amendment One NC

Obviously I strongly oppose every thing about Amendment One.

It’s not a new feeling.

Some of the things I’ve heard come out of the mouths of…

Ahhhh—- take a deep breath, shake up my calm-down jar. Pretty glitter.

Okay.

I’ve read the calmer statements– and man, oh man– I wish I could be them.

I do. Sort of.

Imagine graciously delivering a statement calling actions bigoted without being abrasive, or obvious?

I know a woman with a talent like that– though not, to my knowledge, used for that particular purpose. My cube sat outside her office for 3 years– you’d think some would have rubbed off, but alas no such luck.

Often I try to use sarcasm, only to get really sad when the recipient doesn’t get it.

Le sigh.

It was The Day After North Carolina Embarrassed Us All, but I still had to drive Zach to preschool. On the radio– NPR’s The State of Things with guest, Macky Alston, director of Love Free or Die. His voice… was so soothing, so rational, so healing.

Here I am exhausted, depressed, smelly, unbrushed hair… preparing to drive to carpool after a morning spent trying (and failing) to be positive and gracious. Attempting to explain the loss to my 5 year old–who has yet to lose an important vote. And, quite frankly, doesn’t understand why adults are so stupid about things.

Then I’m half-sobbing listening to this gay man– a christian, a father, a husband– reassuring the defeated that progress has been made.

I’m listening to him, and seeing the signs all over the interstate FOR the amendment. It’s exhausting, those kinds of sensory assaults.

I wish I could be that guy. Or, this guy, Justin Lee. I don’t share his religious beliefs, but the very existence of a Gay Christian Network makes me all gooey inside.

You see, I’m an atheist, but I don’t blame religion. One, I know too many decent religious/faithful people. Two, I know too many hateful people that need the threat of eternal hellfire to behave themselves.

Civil rights, for women and for blacks– started in churches. Having faith makes someone faithful, not hateful.

After all, I don’t support those that seek to blame all Muslim’s for September 11th– so for me to blame all christian’s would be… illogical and unfair.

I do, however, blame the men and women that pervert the text of a religious book to fit their own whims, politics, personal fears, or prejudices. Especially those that pluck out a passage or two to support their reasons, and ignore the rest.

It makes me furious that people use the constitution as a shield for their own rights, and as kindling for someone else’s. Furious.

But that’s okay, movements need the angry people, too. If for nothing more than to make the gracious people look better. That I can do, no problem.

NC Passes the Marriage Amendment

I remember the blazing disappointment when Dubya was re-elected. You see, I lived in Durham, worked in Chapel Hill; my perspective of reality was blurry.

By the way– it’s late, and I’m sad and angry. Raging, actually. I remain convinced that the intent behind passing the marriage amendment was always devoid of religious conviction, the purpose only for re-election. I see what conservatives mean about too much government because their power? That sort of extremist-fly-a-plane-into-building-mentality? Horrifying.

Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing. Ronald Reagan.

Even Ronald Freaking Reagan wouldn’t be down with this nonsense.

I saw the For signs decorating too many surfaces today. I suspected the outcome. But I was hopeful, mostly that many closeted homosexuals would say “for” and vote “against”. But it didn’t turn out that way.

But what made me pull over and park after carpool was my 5 year old saying, “don’t worry, Mom. I’ll fix it [discrimination] when I’m a grown up”. There you have it everyone. Even a 5 year old sees it as broken.

Perhaps the zealots plan to attack my atheist marriage? After all, if the origins and definitions of marriage are purely biblical, then my marriage doesn’t apply. Right?

Thanks to facebook I felt a little less alone, less isolated in my horror.

But then… then someone decided to point out that the people had spoken. And that I should just get over it. After mulling over what I wanted to say, it occurred to me. I had already written it.

Being a bigot is wrong. Complaining about big government, socialist spending, and then supporting an amendment to the constitution because you are terrified of homosexuals is WRONG. Racism, sexism, animal abuse– wrong, wrong, wrong.

Amending the constitution to restrict equal rights isn’t like disagreeing over whether McDonad’s or Burger King has the best hamburger It’s about people, who claim to be conservatives, supporting small government, only to turn around and vote for legislation that puts government ALL UP IN PEOPLE’s business. The children that will lose their health insurance? Guess who’s going to pay for that? Yup. those social welfare programs (also biblical, by the way) that no conservative likes to fund.

All those people who love each other, love their families, living a low-key life, just like me? Just trying to enjoy their life, here on earth? Thanks to this amendment NC just said, “screw you– there is something *wrong* with how you were born”.

You know what? I have one kid with brown eyes, and one with blue– determined because of biology and genetics– just like sexuality. Oh– and if it’s a biblical thing, then I’d like a constitutional amendment banning shellfish, pork, and wearing polyester (three of North Carolina’s very favorite things)– because all of those? Sins in the bible, too.

But, if either of my children–my sons– are gay– I stand proud in the fact that I will never, ever, never, ever have to look them in the eye, and say that I was once a bigot. Instead, they will always be secure in knowing that I LOVE THEM no matter whether they date/marry an Ann, or a Stan. And that feels good.

Yes, I truly can be mad that 61% of this state voted on bigoted legislation, especially considering my gender hasn’t enjoyed equal rights for very long. Are y’all going to take those back now, too?

I truly can BE FURIOUS that the biggest pushers of these flavors of religious legislation look exactly like the people who talk themselves blue in the face about government waste on social programs, lazy bums that won’t work, etc. Only to end the rant, complaining that the government has too much power!

Why does this attitude, in particular, raise such fury? Because it’s fucking idiotic to DENY things like universal health insurance in the “name of small government”, only to vote for a law intended to be a morality litmus test, based on some words in a book.

Cognitive dissonance (google it) Just Pisses Me Off.

Even worse is that the whole thing– ALL OF IT– is red herring legislature designed to get these folks re-elected. Can’t fix the economy or unemployment? Let’s attack the gay folks!

Go talk to a teacher– ask them how they feel about the frozen pay raises, lay offs and increased work load.

Instead of money for that, NC legislators spent it on a constitutional amendment to “protect” us from something that was already illegal. I mean, really– did y’all even read this thing?

“I AM NOT A BIGOT” A common refrain from the pro-side. I get it, I understand that saying that to another human makes them all itchy and twitchy. They stop listening to reasonable discourse, get all angry and defensive.

The problem? None of them were listening to reasonable discourse to begin with. So, why not calls them as I sees them.

I am baffled by the people duped into saving marriage by disallowing it for an entire population. But I don’t hate them. I am disgusted by their actions; I feel sorry for their ignorance. Mostly I wished all of them would have stayed home today!

Then again, I READ the words. I searched the history of the bill. Not on huffington post or fox news. I read it straight from the general assembly website.

I can honestly say, with complete conviction that I don’t respect a damn thing about someone that supports this law. Which makes me sad, because for every person that I stand with, in agreement, I’m probably related to someone that would support it. Which means all my biting-my-cheek-don’t-say-anything-is-all-used-up.

I can agree to disagree on politics, on religion, on parenting strategies, on whether or not red dye is unhealthy. But I cannot find a single reason to respect those that participated in this political maneuver.

Later, when their kids kill themselves because they are gay and alone; or when the police won’t press domestic violence charges on boyfriend Jimmy John when he beats her up again again– well, surprise, surprise Goomer.

Also, as an aside? If I hear the statement: “I don’t hate gay people; I have gay friends” one.more.time… Double shame on those of you with that positive exposure to that which is different from you, only to then vote in an amendment that purposefully and maliciously denies those friends equality under the law. Sounds similar to the old days (you know, about 40 years ago) when a similar type person might talk to one of their “colored friends”, and then go home and pull the white sheet and pointy hat out the closet.

Once upon a time, interracial marriage was illegal.

Once upon a time–for a LONG damn time, I was considered property because I had a vagina. I’m still not quite equal, what with that pesky pay inequality thing, but I’d like to keep moving forward. Are you planning to write me back into the kitchen? Will that be before, or after, you take away my birth control?

There are PLENTY of christians, conservatives, purple people eaters– friends of mine, that do not, and did not support this hate bill. They are the type of christians that I wish the rest of you could/would be; the ones that use faith as a personal enhancement rather than a weapon.

Oh, and celebrators? You might have won tonight, but I wouldn’t get too comfy. This action motivated all of the smart people I know. And I don’t mean, Jeopardy-smart, I mean Sheldon-smart. So, good luck with that.

Pastor Harris, Just Beating the Gay Out

To the rest of America from North Carolina: I’m by the explain to y’all that not everyone in North Carolina agrees with pastor Harris about just beating the gay out of kids. 

Unlike Jodie Brunstetter, the wife of Republican North Carolina state senator Peter Brunstetter, not all of us believe that the only way to save the Caucasians (we’re in danger? I didn’t know) requires the repression of equal rights for the LGBT community.

Unlike Pastor Sean Harris of Fayetteville– my Army-Brat-approved hometown– we don’t all advocate beating the gay out of our children.

It’s important, The Rest of America, that you understand that many of us consider ourselves native North Carolinians– and we don’t believe this way.

Just once– JUST ONCE– I would like to see my hometown/state in the news for something not related to crime and/or redneck bigots*. Which requires the law-abiding non-redneck bigot voice to speak louder.

*Note: Not all rednecks are bigots; not all bigots are rednecks. Conversely, redneck bigots exist outside of the South. Case in point, Pastor Harris was born in Massachusetts, so damnit, NC doesn’t have to take all the blame for him.

My Loud Voice:
I grew up in Fayetteville. My childhood home located less than a quarter mile from this church; I spent 5 years at the public school next door to Berean Baptist. I’ve watched it grow from a smallish church with some modular buildings to a mega church looming on a busy corner. The proximity of this place to my childhood memories makes me feel queasy and unsettled.

Dear Pastor Harris,

I spent most of last night listening to your sermons–many of them, not just the notorious one; I read all of your blog posts. I read your church’s Articles of Faith, and your Constitution (though navigating to it today proves difficult, glad I PDFed that sucker).

I found very little reason and logic, but one bit of good advice:— that a person has to explore the before and after of an event to truly understand the context. Of course, you were talking about verses in the bible, and I’m talking about your personal world view.

I understand the over-reach of political correctness is often a minefield. But–really, the blind guy doesn’t care, because he didn’t the spit coming? Gah, this made me feel icky.

He [referring to Jesus] pulls him [the blind man] out of town. He is not trying to have a big show of healing people in this town. He’s going to take care of this man, grabs him, leads him out of town, spits on his eyes. Gross! Right?

Moreover, if you are blind, it is not quite as big a deal.

It is not like you saw it coming.

Because of my time spent in your head— and listening to your words, reading your thoughts–provided me with a most unsettling glimpse– I’m 100% confident that not there wasn’t one iota hyperbole in the April 29th sermon. And I listened to the whole thing– all 54 minutes. A few times.

Even now I’m listening,— helps me focus– and I must say, dude, your micro-expressions and body language conflict with the words coming out of your mouth. In those moments when you start speaking of homosexuality, I find myself hearing the vehement hatred in your words, in your tone of voice, and watching the exponential increase of hand-flapping. That level of…is it self-directed hatred Pastor Harris? It’s hard, I imagine, to feel such loathing without personal experience.

I have complete faith in your belief that a parent can beat the gay out of their children. Who was it that beat the gay out of you?

Was it the pastor that “dealt” with you so very long ago?

I must admit, Pastor Harris, that when considering everything in context, that I find myself thinking that yes, you drove around Fayetteville lusting (your words, not mine)– but that it wasn’t females stirring your holy pole.

You, Sir, both moron and bigot, embody the perfect example of the supporters of this marriage amendment. I sat astonished at your bastardization of statistical facts and the absurdity fueling your political rhetoric. Around the 36 minute mark when you manage to draw a correlation between the closure of NC textile mills with the rampant procreation in the Malaysia? All for support of why we cannot allow gay marriage– because there will be no more children to be exploited in textile factories?

Oh my– priceless.

Though I am a bit perplexed at how you are registering folks (see minute 3:38, “not too late. you can get a voter registration form this morning”) to vote and maintaining your tax exempt provisions?

I’m also confused why y’all refer to yourselves as a corporation, yet don’t pay property taxes?

But, back to the point at hand:

A large part of me would like very much to “squash like a cockroach”– oh, you SO weren’t joking when you said that— the straight out of you. However, I payed a teeny tiny bit of attention during biology– so I understand that’s just an excuse for violence against something that disgusts me. That disgust, by the way– all for you.

Of course, you seem to believe that a person chooses homosexuality. According to you, this fact stems from the studies (not cited) of differing sexual preference between identical twins. Because if homosexuality were genetic, then both twins would be gay. Um, you do understand that for the first 6 weeks of gestation all fetuses are females, right? And while identical twins start from the same egg, that there is a lot of really complicated stuff that happens afterwards? Otherwise we’d all be born with tails?

Just saying.

You spend some time talking about the sin of stealing and correlating that to homosexuality. Because they are ALL SINS.

I admit I’m pretty hazy on many parts of the bible– something for which I thank my parents for every single day– but I’m reasonably certain that lying is one of those sin things y’all talk about.

On Wednesday, Harris said he regrets his choice of words and doesn’t advocate hitting children.

So, Pastor Harris, if you don’t support hitting children could you address the verbiage in your church’s constitution and articles of faith?

Here’s My Sign

I waited too long to get a sign for voting AGAINST the marriage amendment. Though the fact that I’m finding it difficult seems to be– if you’ll pardon the groan– a good sign.

Since we read a lot (and I mean A LOT) of Dr. Suess, I got all poem-y again.

A sign? Look–a sign!
To all of you, from all of mine.

Celebrate happy families of any combination.
Married. Single. Gay. Straight. Cohabitation.

No insurance coverage for birth control? Demands from Church to be apart from State?
Well back at ya– no Constitutional Amendment for legislated hate.

****“Checkmate”****

Learn to accept and live with your fellow (wo)man.
May 8th: VOTE AGAINST THE MARRIAGE BAN!

Of course, all that wouldn’t fit. Heck, even the modified version barely fit. And look– I discovered yet another non-talent to add to my list: sign making. Dude. I even had a stencil. Sad.

But then–huzzah– I found out they got more signs. Here’s to hoping I can get my hands on one tonight. Otherwise, I’ll be sporting this in the yard.

Explaining Why We Vote AGAINST the Marriage Amendment

Explaning why we vote AGAINST the marriage amendment banning gay marriage wasn’t part of my lunch plan.

I sat down a twice reheated cup of coffee and uninspired salad, when my 5 year old asked, “so what are we voting for on May 8th?”

Choke- cough. Do wha–?

The signs in everybody’s yard. About voting. Like when we voted at the fire station– I got a ballot and a sticker, remember–

—And a flag— interjects the 3 year old.

Great, even the little one is listening.

Oh, yeah. And a flag. So, why are we voting against something, mom?

I have many reasons to be grateful for having an observant-of-the-world-around-him child. I adore that he went from not reading to reading like it’s his job.

For both reasons, I should have expected that it wouldn’t be long before he 1) noticed the signs, and 2) asked me about them. To be sure, he’s heard the adults talking about it–despite trying to be discreet, the child hears like echolocating animal.

Thankfully in our neighborhood, most of those signs are AGAINST THE MARRIAGE AMENDMENT ON MAY 8th (why yes, I am yelling, thanks for noticing).

There are a couple of For signs… and I, with a need to avoid hypocritically destroying someone else’s First Amendment rights, have not defaced them in any way. *But I really need a lot of reminders about the hypocrite thing from my husband.*

Someone in the neighborhood is stealing them (per our listserv), but it’s not me.

If you need to take a few moments to go read some truth about what this amendment will do–go ahead. I don’t mind.

Anyway– back to explaining this to a five year old.

It took me several wordy starts– and stops– to finally spit out:

Some of our legislators want to change the constitution to say that marriage can only be between a man and woman. Basically, they want to make a law that decides how each of us defines family.

I watched his eyes glaze over, remembering too late the time JB started to tell him about Zoroaster…

But, why? with genuine confusion.

See, we went to a rally last summer on this very topic already.

His sign is showing the states (in red) where it is legal to marry your cousin. But thank goodness– in North Carolina, while legal to marry your first cousin you are absolutely not allowed to marry your double cousin.

We got standards down here, y’all.

Both of my children have friends that also happen to have same-sex parents. The kids aren’t horrified– they are oblivious. For them, parents are the grown ups that drive you to playdates, while carrying a constant supply of cool beverages and goldfish crackers.

You have to teach children to hate…they certainly don’t do it spontaneously.

On the way out to that rally, he walked up to my friend declared, “I think it’s okay if you want to marry a girl” and left again. For several of the following weeks, he’d randomly mention how cool it would be to have two dads (double the wrestle), or two moms (double the hugs). Or– and this was his preferred combination: TWO DADs and TWO MOMs.

Dude, if that other mom cooks and does laundry– sign me up! Bonus points if she enjoys carpool.

With each generation, we choose whether we create tolerance (love), or intolerance (hate) in our children.

How can you watch this video and not want cry for every mom, dad, or child that is spending one minute of their precious time on earth worrying about whether some asshole lawmaker is going to rip their family apart? A stable partnership raising intelligent, happy, WANTED children.

However, at this point in the meal Elliot was starting to shove strawberry slices up his nose.

Then my one–and probably last–moment of on-the-spot parenting brilliance:

Zach, do you want the government to decide we aren’t a family because there are two boys, instead of a boy and girl? Is that fair?

His answer was an emphatic, NO!

‘Nuff said. Literally– we were all done with the discussion. Well, except for asking when we were going to get– or we could make one, mom— a yard sign.

Allowing Kids to Participate in Politics

Allowing kids to participate in politics is a hot button issue. I mentioned that Z’s Rally to Restore sanity sign was making the internet rounds via the It’s Okay to be Takei Facebook page. The creator of that page was also at the Rally, liked the picture and added it to the page.

SQUIRREL——->
The original meaning of the sign was directed to the Faux (Fox)-news-watching-Henny-Penny-types, who have spent the past few years throwing acorns at their voting base, screaming “THE SKY IS FALLING” and talking ad nauseum about how liberals are trying to ruin the world with their equal rights, social programs, and alternative energy plans. Damn us liberals, with our progressive thinking and constitution following.
END SQUIRREL <———-

There were a few folks who appreciated the sign’s “Suck it Up” message, but disagreed with included children in the political game. (I’d like to point out that even as they disagreed, they were respectful– such a refreshing change when one is debating parenting choices.)

Some doubted that Z knew what the sign meant. Yes, at 4 he does understand–and has deemed it dumb–that adults struggle with nice words and teamwork. After all, aren’t these the “grown up” rules of polite behavior that I continue to talk about with him? Isn’t self-control the very reason that I don’t chase down and punch the SUV-driving, phone-texting woman that cut me off in traffic. Because I’m an adult. Theoretically.

Some questioned involving my child– what about the other side, including their children to follow the parents’ misguided beliefs? What about the little kids repeating their parents’ anti-equality message? As much as I despise adults teaching children to hate, and as much as it pains me to say this– the First Amendment protects both those that agree, and disagree, with my politics.

ARGHHHH— gawd, that really did hurt. But it’s true and to feel otherwise is hypocritical. I freely admit to continuing to struggle with my own hypocrisy in this.

However, the other side is certainly going to teach and influence their children– I’m damn sure going to involve mine. It’s their country, too.

Finally, someone questioned whether or not a 4 year old has the emotional and intellectual capacity of comprehending what is being debated. I really sat down and thought about this– and I liked so much how I responded:

Our decision to involve him (and his younger brother, for that matter) was not made lightly– in that we had many of the same discussions about appropriateness of their involvement, etc. But, to use a broad simile–it’s like this: Adults take their children to church, teaching them whatever is pertinent about their faith system. The average 4 year old doesn’t conceptualize the rhetoric of faith–God and Santa get all kinds of mixed up in their heads. [The average religious 4 year old is] really just repeating what they’ve heard and been taught, [rather than truly feeling faith]. Parents take their children to church, involving them in religious practice, in the hopes of instilling a lifelong involvement in that faith’s value system.

I’m a secular humanist, so I have to teach my version of moral lesson– we are all equal– in a more creative, non-churchy way. It’s not like nonbelievers generally get together on Sundays to talk about their non-belief.

To that end “by the people, for the people” *is* my religion; the rally to restore sanity my tent revival (urgh- that’s a Bible Belt-esque reference).

But it’s important (to me) that he [they] be raised comfortable in the process of peaceful dissent. Even if that means, one day, he is peacefully dissenting against my politics.

As I typed out my response that night, I was reminded that finding that type of moral foothold is a nonbelievers parenting challenge. As I read the responses from other adults, with their own memories of protesting as children (anti-war, pro-union) I was more convinced. It occurred to me that the excitement and camaraderie of the tent revival could be replicated in these rallies for equality. And I was stoked that someone had questioned me in such a manner that I was able to think about it, without immediately going on the defensive. It further motivated me to push forward with toting them along to these events. To using my unpaid time here to push my own American agenda. Yes, momsrising— I’m coming for you next. I want my kids to know (and I’m happy I was reminded) that there are small groups of people trying to change the world–for the better–every day.

Neither of them are going to learn that insulated in my living room, or at the pool, or even in preschool.

Now, would I take my children to a pro-NRA rally? No. People bringing assault rifles to a peaceful protest scare me. Are they going with me to a rally to fight SB106— proposed anti-gay legislation in my own home state? Yup. My little herd will go, with a close friend who happens to be a SAHM to triplets, in a loving, committed relationship with a woman she’s not allowed to marry. That’s just bullshit. And, in the words of Z– “a family with two moms would be cool. A family with two dads would be super cool, too.” (At this point, Dads are cooler than moms– I hear it’s developmentally appropriate, though it makes my inner feminist a bit twitchy.)

Now, I just need to come up with another cool sign. No pressure.