Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Power of Compassion

By Madame Curie

In the wake of my recent disaffection, I have been much more vocal about my support of same-sex marriage. This cause caused a lot of contention, particularly on places such as Facebook where my apostacy is not so widely known. Tonight, I got to thinking about where my change on this issue occurred. It wasn't so long ago that I seriously started questioning what my response would be if Prop 8 were in Philadelphia, rather than in California. I recall in those days (it seems like ages ago, really) wondering whether it is better to vote your conscience or to vote in accordance with the Prophet. I think I had decided that it was best to abstain from voting, rather than to cause offense either way. Obviously my feelings have undergone a radical transformation. So, what effected the change?

When I was in high school, my best friend Mary* and I fell in love. We meant everything to one another, I believe. We attended prom together, and neither of us dated anyone else while in high school. Our relationship continued through our first few years of college, although we attended different universities. We would travel to visit one another, enormous distances. As our friends married their high-school sweethearts, I remember in my mind thinking of how wonderful it would be to set up a home with my Mary. We would talk about growing old together, no matter where else our life's paths took us, grey and wrinkly on rockers in a cottage by a stream. At times, the situation was somewhat confusing, since I felt that there was nothing at all wrong with our relationship, but she would occasionally feel guilty about it.

When I joined the Mormon church my senior year of college, in my baptismal interview the Elders asked me if I had ever been in a homosexual relationship (this is a standard question in the baptismal interview, I believe). I was a little surprised by this question, as I wasn't expecting it. I answered "no," since I wasn't currently in a relationship with Mary (I had been dating a guy for the past year). However, that question and its implications haunted me for a long time thereafter.

This was honestly the first time in my life that I had ever considered my relationship with Mary to be "bad" in any way. It seemed like such a strange thing, that something so special as the tender love that we had for one another could be wrong. The phrase "harrowed up" goes a long way to describing my feelings for the next several years whenever I would think about myself and how evil and depraved I must have been. Nevermind that when we were dating (although we never called it that), I knew God smiled on us and had sent her to me. I also tried hard to never, ever think back to my relationship with Mary, casting it aside as a confusing and "evil" time in my life.

When Prop 8 hit the scene at the beginning of 2008, and the Church started taking such a strong stand in it, many of the memories with my sweet friend Mary came back to me. It seemed unfair that the Church would try to forbid other homosexuals from marrying, although I frequently told myself that God (through the Prophet) must know better than I. However, as I started seeing myself within the LGTB community, I began to deeply understand where they were coming from, what they wanted, and why it was not only acceptable, but necessary and just. I understood their plight, because it was my plight. Understanding brought compassion, love, and eventually, acceptance - both of the right for gays to marry, and of myself for my relationship with Mary.

Compassion is a powerful thing. It changes a man from mere mortal to something better than himself. Thank God for that.

*Name has been changed

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vote for Equality!!

Cross-posted from Main Street Plaza. Original post by Chino Blanco.
Progressives are closer than ever to a victory on health care reform. As 2009 comes to a close, we’ve also moved forward on other issues. But what’s looming up ahead could be a disappointment. Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009, there will be critical votes on LGBT equality in three states: Washington State, Maine, and Michigan. With so much attention devoted to other issues in the political realm, progressive bloggers are banding together to ensure we don’t forget the ones with a firm deadline next week.
In support of that effort, the Courage Campaign has put together a summary of the who, what, and how of these three contests. If you haven’t heard of these campaigns, and/or haven’t done anything yet to support them, please consider helping out. If you are a blogger please feel free to grab this content whole cloth and use it for your blog posts. Last year, as Obama and Democrats were winning across the country, we lost marriage equality in California. It was a bittersweet victory. Pitch in to make sure 2009 isn’t a bittersweet year. Take action to support LGBT equality TODAY.


Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year’s legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.
What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.
How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We’ll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.
Who we are: The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine’s recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine’s early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.
What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn’t effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We’ll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.
How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.
Kalamazoo, MI
Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo’s twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.
Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say “No to Discrimination” (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn’t true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.
How To Help:
1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign’s final field and GOTV efforts.
Give here:
2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign’s online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.
Contact voters: