Here’s a little Japanese cultural lesson I put together for you, dear viewer. And it’s only $1.50 for a three pack!
The Vermont Senate, finding (correctly) that Civil Unions for gay couples fall short of providing equal rights, voted overwhelmingly to approve Civil Marriage for gay couples. The matter still has to go before the Vermont House (and since I’m late to this, may already have gone), where it is expected to pass. The margin by which it was approved is too great for the governor to veto (if he were to try).
As others have said before me, This Is How We Do It!
This is another lecture that was put on at my school, this time by the ACLU, in response to Prop 8. The California Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments about the Constitutionality of Prop 8 a week from tomorrow. In preparation for that, the local ACLU chapter invited to gay people who grew up in religious families to tell their stories to us—one whose family eventually accepted him and the other whose family is not as accepting.
My first thought at arriving at the appointed time & place was that I must be in the wrong room. There was far too good a turn out (including a number of professors). The president of our local chapter introduced the two panelists and said that she felt it was important, with Prop 8 looming on the horizon, to put a human face on the reality of our homosexual friends and neighbors. She wanted us to hear the story of people struggling for acceptance in their family, community, and faith, but that it was not her story to tell. Read more >>
And watch this vid. An MoF favorite singer and an MoF favorite cause: Regina Spektor and No On H8. Do this before V day and enjoy your partnership on Valentine’s Day guilt-free (and full of hope).
Let’s dedicate this Valentine’s Day to love.
It’s Blog for Choice Day and I encourage everyone to visit the blogroll of bloggers taking part and to visit their blogs, if only for this one post. Also, feel free to revisit my posts from ’07 and ’08. This year’s topic is “What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress.”
I always find these kinds of things difficult. I don’t have a favorite band/book/movie, but I could give you a top five. So I think I’ll take that approach. These aren’t in any order except the order they come in, but they’re all up there.
1. Repeal of the Bush doctrine of the “conscience clause”. This is near the top of my brain right now because I recently read (and was subsequently incensed by) this, the story of a woman whose IUD was removed by a religious nurse, who then proceeded to lecture her about why she was morally opposed to it and then refused to put it back in. The nurse stated, “Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull these out on purpose because I am against them, but it’s not true, they accidentally come out when I tug,” which suggests to me that she’s a serial assaulter.
The medical profession is different from most professions (it’s usually lumped in with the legal profession) in the sense that certain things are required of medical professionals that are not required of anyone else. I’ve likened conscience clauses before to a vegetarian working at Subway and refusing to serve meat. That was probably a wee bit flippant, but I do believe that, since the medical profession is so specialized, when one goes to an doctor, one is entitled to the best medical care that doctor can provide. Having an surgeon refuse to provide a patient with an appendectomy because the surgeon is a Christian Scientist should be illegal. Sure, where it is possible, allow the surgeon to find another surgeon who can provide this (often emergency) procedure. Where none can be found, the trained surgeon employed in the capacity of a surgeon at the hospital the patient has been admitted to may be expected to provide that surgery, regardless of the surgeon’s religious beliefs. The fact that it’s even being considered is repulsive and baffling to me. We require attorneys to provide legal service to criminals, regardless of the attorney’s belief of guilt or innocence. Where attorneys don’t want to face that kind of situation, these attorneys choose a different area of practice.
Replace “appendectomy” with “abortion” and my views do not change.
2. Codification in some way of the right to reproductive health services nationwide. This probably involves both the Congress and the President, since we all know Bush would have vetoed anything that allowed women to have a shot at doing anything for themselves. Roe v. Wade objectors are working their way up the courts inch by inch in an effort to get it repealed. Many states have laws-in-waiting that will go into effect as soon as it is repealed. With a Supreme Court stacked against reproductive rights and a rabid base who routinely files cases intended to make it to that Court regardless of the success of the last case, having a statutory law, rather than a common law, is a necessity.
The oft-quoted fact that Viagra is covered by many insurance companies that do not cover birth control pills is proof positive that there is a problem in this country with treating women as full humans when it comes to health care. Codification of this right would solve the insurance issue as well as the access issue. It may even solve the education issue, since more and more medical schools are removing certain reproductive health care procedures from their required curriculum making them instead optional.
3. Age-appropriate sex-ed classes that have a medical, rather than a religious, basis. How are we even having this conversation?! If I want to learn about god, original sin, or hell, I will go to a religious teacher. If I want to learn about oil, the periodic table, or sulfuric acid, I will go to a chemistry teacher. This is not rocket science, folks: if we want our children to learn about penises, ovaries, and menstruation, what is required is a biology course. Perhaps a sociology course to cover things like “no means no” and the etiquette of being sexually active in a world of STDs. And yes, abstinence should be included in a sex-ed course; but not exclusively. Options and consequences should be truthfully (I know that’s hard for religionists…and some parents) and openly discussed, explored, even debated. Each person will then be able to decide for him or herself what choices will be made. But choices cannot be made if options are not given.
And yes, as indicated above, I think that a rudimentary course in how men and women should act toward one another in a sexual context (“no means no” and epithets like “slut”) should be included.
4. Support for parents in the workplace. Note the plural. Women may well need some physical time to recover following childbirth, but the child itself requires more attention when it is first born than later in life. Whether the parents are two gay men adopting, a het couple having a natural child, or a lesbian couple with a sperm donor (or any of the myriad other options and combinations), both parents should be assured of paid leave to care for the new addition to their family. And, upon returning to the workplace, they should be assured that they have a job.
I’d like to work into this some sort of acknowledgement that often, one parent quits their job and returns to the workplace some years later (above I was thinking more in terms of months), to find that her (it is most often a woman) marketability as a worker has vastly decreased, but I can’t figure out how to work this into legislation.
5. Repeal of the Global Gag Rule. I would hope that, if the above hopes come to pass, this would be an obvious inclusion. If we secure reproductive rights internally, we have no call to presume to infringe upon them externally. But it may slip through the cracks. Not only does the Gag Rule reek of imperialism and I-know-better-than-youism, it is inherently dangerous to men and women alike, especially in regions beset by an AIDS epidemic. People in need of medical care are entitled to the best medical care that society and current medical knowledge can give them—not the best care that the United State wants them to have (how is it that these are two separate things?!). Not only has the US no right to impose religiously-based medical care upon its own citizens, it has no right to do so for citizens of other countries.
Finally, as an aside that I don’t think either the President or Congress has much, if any control over, I think that (daily) birth control pills should be over-the-counter, since there’s no LD50 for them. For morning after pills, an argument may be made for keeping them behind the counter in the same way that cigarettes are.
Our story begins at the Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles’ Silverlake District. There are thousands of galleries in SoCal, but CatGirl and I love this one because it showcases some of our favorite artists, “low-brow” creators often featured in the likes of Juxtapoz (which William Gibson apparently reads to cure writer’s block). When we visited for the Amy Sol exhibit in June, we met the curator, Andrew, who was very kind and generous to us and especially supportive of CatGirl’s artist aspirations.
Flash forward to December 29th: I yelped a little Ethiopian dive, just off U-street in DC. We were tired of the National Mall–only so much Church of the U.S. a group of pilgrims can take before needing a taste of something different. We were sponging up the last bits of chicken wat and spicy lentils with our flat bread when a friendly couple sat down at the table next to us. When their food arrived, I realized that I hadn’t captured an image of our meal. Obsessive chronicler that I am, I asked them if I could take a picture of their spread. She asked me if I was going to blog it. A kindred spirit, I thought. I may flickr it, I said. I’m mind on fire. We parted.
January 3rd, in Manhattan. Again, we were museumed out. It was possible to get Van Gogh fatigue. Who knew? I viewed my flickr updates, and there was a comment from a haiku575, thanking me for taking her picture at the Ethiopian Restaurant. I checked out her profile and photostream, and not only was she from New York, but she had an eye for Awesome: Street art, flash mobs, an abandoned prison. I sent haiku575 a flickr mail, asking for advice on how to see the City through her eyes. We committed to roam bookstores in Lower Manhattan and set off for a bakery I yelped in SoHo.
The Grandaisy Bakery was heaven manifest in wheat form. Bellies full and brains caffeinated, we began wandering. While Jana and the kids were oohing and ahing in LittleMisMatched, I stepped outside to wander down the block and check my email. There was a response from haiku575. Her recommendations began: “SoHo is a great place to wander. You can start out at Wooster and Spring and move on from there.” I looked up, and this is what I saw:
I’m still blown away by the serendipity of it. How many street corners does NYC have? We spent some time seeking out and capturing street art between the encroaching boutiques and fashionable chain stores. Following a street address provided by haiku575, I walked up to a non-descript steel door and pushed one of the buttons. The door latch clicked, and I opened it, revealing a poorly lit concrete corridor. The kids were worried: Dad, what are we doing? What is this place, really? I led them up the narrow staircase, and finally up to Walter de Maria’s Earth Room. It’s very easy to describe the installation but not the experience. There we met the amiable Bill, the self-described “Keeper of the Earth.” His job is to curate the exhibit, raking it once per week, buzzing in visitors, and reading Thoreau:
The next day we met up with our friends Amy and Logan for brunch in Brooklyn, hipster capital of the world (I felt much more at home there than in most places in OC). Again, following haiku575′s advice, we visited the Ad Hoc Gallery. In addition to having way more fun and inspiration exploring a combined gallery-installation than we did in just about any place in the Met or the Smithsonian, we chatted for a bit with the curator, and learned that the Ad Hoc Gallery was curating a show in Thinkspace this month, called From the Streets of Brooklyn.
As a skeptic, it’s difficult for me to insert any kind of grand cosmological meaning in the unlikely serendipity of these connections we made, but I can appreciate them. As each line is drawn between two seemingly random dots, a link is made and significance given where none existed before. This is the magic of the social web, of Yelp, of Flickr, of FaceBook, of WordPress, to increase our ability and propensity to connect people and places and ideas. There’s something miraculous about that.
Special thanks to haiku575 for adding a little magic to our time in NYC.
But also anti-woman! A true uniter. See here for his creepy-ass discussion of why divorce is worse than your spouse abusing you (hint: because if you divorce, then God gets to abuse you! And whose abuse would you rather?) Ugh. via.
I’m sorry I’ve not been posting recently, law school has finally caught up with me and consumed my life. I had to cancel the event that makes the holidays bearable for me (a goose-filled gamer fest) because I simply hadn’t the time to prepare and plan it. One of the prospective attendants told me that, while she wasn’t glad to miss it, she was glad that I couldn’t handle it because it made me seem more human. I’ll send her a card when I fail my first semester: “from xJane, now officially a Human.”
I have, however, been reading blogs mostly regularly (I didn’t yesterday, what has happened to me?!) and have compiled a bunch of links that I
wanted to share wanted to dedicate a whole post to each one. I haven’t the time to do so, so this is effectively a link-dump. I’m sorry, but Safari thanks you (“There are 7 windows open in Safari, with a total of 32 tabs.”).
Read more >>
WaPo’s On Faith asks its panelists Does religion empower women? This is one of the few On Faiths that I’ll probably read each response to. I’m looking forward to the Christian/Catholic answer, which I’ve found generally centers around “having kids is empowering!!1!” There is some wonderful evidence for non-child-based empowerment which I’ve yet to hear a priest mention when trying to keep women in their flock.
or, xJane gets mushy
Yesterday was DH’s and my 3rd anniversary. It gave me a chance to reflect on love, marriage, and rights. Specifically on why I did (and did not) get married & what that makes me think about the rights of others.
I did not get married so that I could bear DH’s children. I did not get married so that his father’s name would be carried on. I did not get married because it was a “respected social institution” that I desperately wanted to be a part of. I did not get married so that I could be a “wife”, nor did DH because he wanted to be a “husband” (whatever those words are supposed to mean). I didn’t get married because my religion told me that marriage was good. I didn’t get married because marriage was the only way for me, as a woman, to be completed or live a full life.
I married DH because I love being around him. I got married because when I am with him, I feel like I’m with only myself—that I don’t need to be anyone else but the true me. I got married because his presence makes me smile. I got married because, when I come home & find him there, the tensions of the day disappear. I got married because I love waking up next to him & watching him sleep (in a totally non-creepy way). I got married because DH is a great cook and I’m a great baker. I got married because we are equal partners in life—each supporting the other. I got married because we love playing video games (separately and together), camping, judo, and computers. I got married because even when he pisses me off, I love him. I got married because even when I piss him off, he loves me. I got married because DH makes me happy.
I got married so we could own property together. I got married so that we would have enforceable rights if anything happened to either of us. I got married because he’s got great insurance benefits & I’ve got a great credit union. I got married because when we weren’t married, the world seemed to look at us differently, like we weren’t really in love. I got married because it made everything (taxes, renting, car ownership, illness, life insurance, nearly everything) easier. Just one document & so many issues simply evaporated.
And that surprised me. Social issues, family issues, governmental issues—completely resolved simply because I had a different last name, a legal document, and a [white] gold ring.
For these reasons and for all the reasons I didn’t list, I cannot condone restrictions on marriage between consenting adults of any gender. Nor can I sit idly by while bigots and homophobes attempt to restrict rights on the basis of religion at best and ill-articulated arguments at worst.
Marriage is not an institution I like. I think it’s misogynistic, religious, and unequal. I think it has been hijacked by people who still believe that women should be property and held in too high esteem by people who think a wedding means white dresses & expensive blood jewelry. I think it needs to be reformed or dismantled. But it’s what we’ve got. And it’s powerful—powerful enough to get my parents to talk to DH, powerful enough to allow me to speak for DH in forums where he is uncomfortable (and he for me), powerful enough to change part of my name for no good reason (but not his). And because of that power, it cannot be denied to people who want it.
It was sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Society, who described its mission as exploring how religious belief influences practice of the law. Proposition 8, the student representative told us, is just such an intersection of religion and the law. I don’t know about you but that freaks me the fuck out.
After appropriate ego stroking (student saying how honored he felt to host this forum, Starr how honored he was to introduce Stewart, and Stewart how honored he was to be introduced by Starr), he began argument. One of the things that concerned me the most about his tone and some of his arguments was that it sounded exactly like my father. Overly calm but with an undertone that these are vitally important issues and that life as we know it will cease to exist if we don’t do [whatever they tell us to].
He started with an argument that the “man-woman” definition of marriage is completely compatible with the constitutional requriements for equality. He did not, however, expand this point, he merely asserted it. He did refer us to some papers he had written, which are conveniently available online! I’m not in any emotional state right now to read through them, but I’m calming down.
He continued by stating that he was going to present an institutional, or “wholly secular” (which I thought was an interesting choice of phrase) argument, not because he believes that faith is illegitimate in the public square but because some people do believe that religious perspectives ought to be excluded from the public square and these people demand a wholly secular argument. He wishes to address these people in such a way as to influence them as well as to provide arguments that can transcend faith for supports to discuss with those against the proposition.
He began by defining his terms and discussing social institutions. The “big five” social institutions in all societies are: politics, including government, law, & elections; education; religion; economy, including markets & money; and, of course, marriage & family). They are constituted by a unique web of interrelated public meanings. They teach, form and transform individuals in the society in an unconscious manner. He gave the example of two pieces of paper: a $20 bill and a blank printer sheet; he then invited an audience member to the state in order to choose one or the other (of course, the $20 bill was taken). The point being, of course, that social institutions teach us what things society values over what other things—and people. Social institutions, however, can change or even end (with scary voice “end!”). For example sometimes money loses its social value (as expressed economically) or private property ceases to be an accepted social institution (like in Russia).
When he brought marriage into the equation, he said it with the same scary “end” voice and immediately linked it to scary Russia, who apparently made a conscious effort to delegitimize marriage as an institution but found that the social costs were too great. Social institutions, he reminded us, provide social goods (like money, like law, like marriage) and in “all societies” man-woman marriage is a “universal social institution”.
He then indicated that he was going to list some social goods provided by man-woman marriage (but presumably not by same-sex marriage). He only, however got to two and referred us to his articles for more.
The first was “the child’s bonding right”, an internationally recognized human right that “a child has a right to know and be raised by his or her own mother & father with exceptions made only in the best interests of the child (not in response to the interests or desires of any adult).” So now we hear a different child-centered argument against gay marriage. Rather than that only one man and one woman may raise a child, that a child has a right to be raised by both of them. Again, I would like to play the adoption card—given that same-sex couples cannot accidentally procreate, they must intentionally do so. If they choose to adopt a child who has already been denied his or her own parents, are they adequate parents? If not, why not? Given that the child has a chance now to have two parents who love him or her, what are the arguments against allowing a same-sex couple to be those parents?
The second social good provided by man-woman marriage were the words “husband” and “wife”. He did not expand what exactly is “good” about those words. But he seemed to think that it was extremely important that they would no longer be the parties to a marriage. I don’t know if the thinks that “husband and husband” or “wife and wife” are poor substitutes or if we will all start calling each other “spouse” (I can’t see anything bad about that).
In California, he said, we have the opportunity to decide whether the meaning of marriage will be “the union of a man and a woman” or “the union of any two persons”. He went on to say that it cannot be both at the same time: that one meaning necessarily displaces the other meaning. He claimed that “genderless marriage” is the correct term, as same-sex marriage is a misnomer—”marriage” is always defined as either of the above. “Genderless marriage” will be the same marriage entered into by opposite-sex couples as by same-sex couples. And again, I fail to see what’s bad about that…
There is another alternative, however, to the two definitions above: no normative marriage institution. He alleged that many proponents of genderless marriage hope that it will lead to “no normative marriage institution”. Once again, I’m part of that group & don’t see anything wrong with it. All that will be left for him and his hangers on to “traditional marriage” is “a motley crew of lifestyle options” which “are to marriage what a Monopoly bill is to a $1000 bill”. Of course, “genderless marriage is radically different from man-woman marriage. There is some overlap but the radical divergence is evidenced by a difference in social goods that each will provide.” For example, the child bonding right.
He stated that, on the day of his marriage, the law did not make him a husband, a social institution did. “Socially positive statutes and identities will be desiccated, turning a husband into any male party to a legal marriage” (although again he does not define what other meanings for “husband” might be might be “positive”). “Equality for homosexuals will not come about by allowing genderless marriage.” This is quite an entertaining assertion, especially, coming as it does with absolutely no evidence. Apparently, “there is a price tag for allowing genderless marriage” and harm will result to man-woman marriages if genderless marriage exists. Future children will no longer be able to understand what the difference between genderless marriage and man-woman marriages. And that’s…bad?
Since the law is powerful, the law will suppress the current meaning of marriage and “we will lose the social goods it uniquely provides.” We take the definitions given us by social institutions for granted. A genderless marriage regime will have three powerful messages:
Enshrinement of genderless marriage will have “very negative consequences for religious liberties”. A fact that is not widely disputed by either side—but the pro-genderless marriage proponents think that it is a price that we should all be willing to pay. He ended by hoping that none of us is so blind to choose a genderless marriage regime because it will have no cost.
He then opened the floor to questions. I didn’t really catch a lot of them, so I’m not going to get into that.
UPDATE: the video is available online but only to students of Pepperdine through iTunesU. If there is interest, I’ll create & post a transcript. However, his arguments are just as well (or poorly) laid out in the articles available on his website.