Monday, January 28, 2008

And Another Thing: Donkeys and Elephants and Homophobes... Oh My!

By Carole Taylor

[Editor's Note: This column originally ran during the election season in 2000. You could make a drinking game out of "How Many Things Haven't Changed." Enjoy and drive safe.]

Those of you who have read a few of these columns have probably surmised that I'm not a Republican. I didn't watch a lot of the Republican convention because way months ago when Dubyuh came up with that "compassionate conservative" crap, it was pretty clear anything he said after that was going to be smoke and mirrors anyway.

But like a train wreck or the 700 Club on cable, sometimes I have to glance in on my way by simply out of morbid curiosity. I didn't expect any substantive admissions from the GOP that human rights were a big issue for them, and I was not disabused of my prescience. They are concerned, naturally, about gay issues, but only about ridding us of our supposed affliction through divine intervention, and many of them did rise in prayer for poor Jim Kolbe, their only out gay US representative, and they asked God to forgive him or release him or strike him straight. So far no news has arrived from the Kolbe camp that any of the many prayers had their desired impact.

C-SPAN also carried much of the Reform Party's bitch fights. The Reform Party, as you may have heard, is now The Reform Party We're Really Just Republicans and The Reform Party Damn It, the Next Generation, each with its own candidates for alpha and beta dog. And you will be happy to know that one of their official vice-presidential candidates, Ezola Foster (a black woman who is also a member of the John Birch Society....huh?) has assured us that Pat Buchanan, her running mate and Reform Column A's presidential candidate, is not a homophobe. "He ain't no homophobe," she said. "He ain't no racist."

Isn't that a relief.

We've been given the final word on those questions, so we can all just relax. Buchanan wants to bring all US troupes home from everywhere abroad and station them arm-in-arm along the US/Mexican boarder. He actually said this. Not the Canadian boarder. Just the Mexican boarder. He ain't no racist. But maybe he will actually draw off a few of the truly rabid Republicans from voting for Bush, and if he does, Godde bless his little closet Nazi heart.

Down the road from the various Reform Parties in Long Beach, there's that other bunch. If you are interested in any of the political doings this week at the Democrats' show, you would have missed the most significant parts (to me) unless you were watching C-SPAN. The cable public affairs channel is the only one showing the whole thing unedited and uncommented upon. If you depended on any of the major networks for your coverage (and if you don't have cable, you're almost totally out of luck) you missed the fact that Melissa Etheridge opened the whole convention with a medley of songs, one of which was "America, the Beautiful" incidentally written ages ago by a lesbian. Probably hardly anyone watching knew that bit of history. But most of America didn't get to see Melissa at all since she was on way too early for anybody but political junkies like me.

Tuesday night at the Democrats' do, there was a bit of history made, but again the networks didn't pay any attention to it. Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, is the first head of any lgbt rights organization to address any major party convention. Again, her comments were ignored by the networks. Monday night was President Clinton's valedictory, and consummate politician that he is, his speech rallied the troupes. But Birch's speech for me was not only better written but better delivered. I'm sorry more Americans didn't get to see it.

Tuesday was Liberal Night at the Democrats' show, but at least they HAVE a liberal night. While Texans at the Republican House of Smoke and Mirrors prayed for conversion and remission of sins for their gay and lesbian members, the Democrats all over their house, as well as all the Texas Democrats, stood up and cheered for Ms. Birch and waved equality signs. My Cliff Notes of her speech won't do it justice.

Forgive me for the brevity of this column, but I've tried and tried to find something really funny or newsworthy about this political season, and so far the Republicans have been so redundant in their vacuousness that I'm at a loss this week. Maybe when Dubyuh and Al have their first debate. Except that I don't like to watch blood and Gore on television. I'm forced in the end to rely on bumper stickers. And not even a *published* bumper sticker because the person who came up with this one (a friend of mine, Gini Lester) is afraid it might somehow garner votes for the Republican ticket. She knows she could make some money from it, but she has this ethical thang, doncha know, and refuses to increase Republican exposure, so to speak. She has created the perfect slogan for the Log Cabin Republicans: FAGS FOR DICK/ DYKES FOR BUSH.

And on that sordid note, I urge you to register if you haven't already, and for goddesake and your own sake, vote. Live as though it matters. But puhlease don't take that bumper sticker to heart.

Booga booga . . .

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Amazon Trail: Left at the Altar

By Lee Lynch

The Pianist and the Handydyke were going to the county clerk's office to complete paperwork that would unite them in a civil union. Their friends came from out of town. I was to take photographs. My sweetheart and I had a union gift all planned. And, as soon as we could, we were going to make our own trip to the county clerk's office.
Then the Pianist told me that a federal judge, at the eleventh hour, had put the right to a civil union on hold. The judge would take a month to decide if a petition signature -- in this case the questionable signatures in the 65,000 on a petition to overturn our civil union law -- is the same as a vote. It's not, and has never been in over 100 years of Oregon voting law. I felt like gay people were being told that he'd let us know if he would give us the opportunity to enjoy the same rights as straight America. What the judge said concerned him was making sure that the initiative process is constitutional. I, in my impatience and fury, only heard the word I have been hearing since I came out: no, no and again, no. It took the Pianist to remind me that "we live in a country where nine states (almost 20% of the U.S.) have passed laws that legalize civil unions and even marriage for gay couples."
I'm all emotion when it comes to our seesawing rights. Our need seems so benign to me. We don't want to have sex in the streets and scare the horses. We, far from being outlaws, simply want to be able to live quietly with security and respect. The challenges to civil unions made by the religious right make me feel like we're being toyed with, like mice in a world roamed by cruel, giant cats.
I'd researched the new law and was waiting till the day the forms would be made available so I could download them, when Judge Michael Mossman, U.S. District Court of Oregon, quashed the plans of so many couples. What I learned by Googling Judge Mossman: he was nominated by George W. Bush on May 8, 2003. He attended Ricks College, Utah State University and the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Can I trust that his Honor is, as the Pianist pointed out, only trying to give the other side its day in court?
I feel bullied. Wearing suits and dresses rather than fur and claws, a moneyed, out-of-state anti-civil union group has come to beat us with petitions and signatures, club us down with hired-gun lawyers and sympathetic judges. They hate the sin and love the sinner? Where is the love in this? Lesbians and gay men are so ready to sign on the dotted line, to take legal responsibility for one another. It's something gay couples have done, outside the law, for a long time. Something a huge number of non-gays refuse to do, or do half-assed, running for divorces when things get rough, ignoring financial obligations even for the kids they share.
Instead of using my camera to record this small, proud, happy event in our little town, I find myself an herstorian of disappointment. What would happen if some judge tried to put on hold the unions of straight couples, no matter the legal reason, to give opponents a chance to make their case for referring the right to unite to voters? Even as my sweetheart and I planned our union, we knew that our chance might be stolen by the morality terrorists. Is this just a hold, or will the judge's ruling lead to a long, expensive obstruction? A setback here bodes ill for other hopeful states.
A retired military friend from Texas commiserated: "It is terrible to treat us like less than human beings – it seems like when we think we are going to get better treatment they take it away. Just like letting convicted criminals in the service, but not gays." No wonder we are a people of diminished expectations. Moral waivers are granted when felons join the armed forces, but legalizing our bonds of love is an uphill battle.
And then Huckabee won Iowa. Another four years of judicial appointments like Mossman? It is very clear what we have to do if we want even the cobbled, partial blessings of the states in which we live and pay taxes. We have to vote in candidates who leave the judging to their deities and treat all their constituents equally. We're going to have to work harder in every state so couples like the Pianist and the Handydyke are never again left at the altar.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2008 1/08

Lee Lynch is the writer of more than a dozen dyke books, among them "Sweet Creek", as well as book reviews, articles, feature stories and a syndicated column. You can read more about Lee here . You can check out her Lee's Myspace page . And visit Lee's Tripod homepage .

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