Back in the Saddle

I am BACK, BISHES!

Not that I really ever went anywhere, but between jet lag and Maggie’s illness and general grumpitude on the part of the supposed adults in this hotel room, our intrepid exploring spirits were somewhat dampened. But today is sunny, we’ve had fantastic visits with friends, and morale is high once again.

This is just too delicious. Without going into too much information about Past Issues, I got the rundown about some people who once Done Me Wrong today and well, my life is looking downright charmed comparatively (even when you factor in Maggie’s sleepless days of illness). So charmed by comparison, in fact, that I have been singing “Schadenfreude” from Avenue Q all day long. One could argue that I am tempting karma myself by being so happy about their misfortune but I would then counter One by telling One it was a buzzkill.

Tomorrow is more sunshine, tonight there will be draft beer with longtime friends. It’s warm enough for the baby to have jettisoned her pants AND she has taken to pursing her lips and cooing “Oooooh!” whenever something fascinates her. It is so adorable I am overcome with an incredible need to gobble up her tiny neck and cheeks, which she enjoys as well. There will be grandparents and family togetherness on Friday in Florida.

How is your week?

Consider the Lobster

In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that our mechanic decided to get a jump on his work and call us at 6am this morning to clarify some paperwork. I needed a place to direct my rage at my home state, and he fit the bill nicely.

I had several friends who were out in high school. It just…wasn’t a big deal. I had some friends in the closet, too, and their concern was mainly how their parents would perceive them–not their peers or our town.

It’s quite a visceral gut-punch to see how Maine, which I genuinely believed until about 7pm HST yesterday would be different, in the end was just like the rest. Several people I know voted No, and were deeply ashamed and depressed today. I know the feeling. My sister spoke to a close friend from Biddeford who, as he cried, told her he had never in his life felt uncomfortable about who he was or where he lived until today. Of course, she was unable to offer comfort aside from a hollow “Next time.”

Next time. Why not this time? Why? What did you gain, Yes voters? You have the unique knowledge that you made several lives worse yesterday, and for whom and for what? My god, these are parents, children, families that you’ve hurt, to protect what? Is your marriage so insecure, your idea of right and wrong so skewed, that allowing gay and lesbian couples to have full marriage would destroy your own? Your lives would not have changed with a No vote.

Do you delight in the idea that a gay or lesbian couple is more vulnerable financially because it is harder to protect their assets? Do you think it fitting and right that non-biological partners have to go through humiliating second-parent adoptions to legally connect with their own children? Does it please you to know that a doctor may keep loving partners away from each other in the hospital as one dies, alone, without the comfort of the one they love most, because they are not married in the eyes of the state? These things happen all the time, and given the opportunity to make things right you decided to squash the civil rights of your fellow man.

Worst of all, watching the Yes coverage on the news, and the pictures and video, you did it with glee. You looked upon your neighbors and classmates and colleagues, your aunts and uncles and cousins and your own children and said from the anonymity of the voting booth, “Your rights are worth less than mine. You are worth less than me.” And then, you celebrated. How could you? How dare you?

I try, I try so hard not to be angry, to accept the differences of my countrymen and women, and sometimes I fail. I have failed at understanding that viewpoint. I have hatred in my heart tonight.

Mainers are a wacky bunch, distinct from the rest of New England, and until today I thought them–us–to be lovably so. I always saw a “mind your business and we’ll mind ours” philosophy from so many Yankee men and women who were fiercely independent. It’s hard knowing that the image you grew up with was a lie. My home county (York) carried a No majority, so I suppose my home is still what I remember it to be, but my faith in the state as a whole is shattered. I saw the opportunity there to make history and I believed with my whole heart that it could be done, that it would be done; instead the place that I love more than anywhere else in the world is just another footnote in the history of bigotry.

I don’t want civil unions or domestic partnerships. Nothing less than full equality for all of America’s citizens will do, as our founding fathers intended. Separate but equal is not okay, has never been okay.

Question 1 was called just after I went to bed last night. Reading the news this morning, I held my daughter and nursed her and cried and cried into her curls, hoping that someday she will inhabit a fairer world.

Maine, you broke my heart.

Election 2009: The Post-Mortem

Dear Maggie,

It was this time last year that I wrote you a letter. It amazes me, the difference of a year. Back then, we didn’t know how deeply and irreversibly you would affect how we saw the world, our values, and each other. We didn’t yet know that you were a Margaret Kelley, a Maggie, my Cranky Buttons, our baby girl; only that you were our little Thumper, long-planned and anxiously awaited. We didn’t yet know you, and what joy and challenge you would bring to our lives. We didn’t know what the world would look like when you were born.

In the year since our last letter, you have lived six of them outside of me. Health care is the battle now, with some fighting the fight to cover our most vulnerable citizens in the wake of a horrifying fear-based campaign. Dr. George Tiller, a true hero, gave his life in the abortion fight to ensure that women in life-threatening and gut-wrenching circumstances, the likes of which would break any person’s heart in two, could receive compassionate medical care.

Compassion and empathy, Maggie. If you live your life by no other principle, let it be the ability to try and see what it feels like to walk around in someone else’s shoes.

Also during this past year, a few states decided to enact laws in favor of same-sex marriage, one of the topics that I covered in that letter. One of those states was Maine, the place I grew up and still call home, and where your father and I plan to live out our golden post-child years. The measure was enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor, and under Maine law was subject to what is called a “people’s veto.” That is, if enough people oppose the bill, the citizens can vote to repeal the legislature’s action.

Tonight, the people of Maine voted by a slim margin to repeal the law, and the GLBT citizens of Maine were once again thrust into second-class citizenry.

I can’t put into words how bitterly disappointed I am, how sorry your father is. Bitter in the truest sense, that it makes me toss my head to get the repulsive taste out of my mouth, that I feel I cannot swallow the galling anger. Your aunt and uncle, who live in Maine, are sick over the repeal and questioning how they can raise your cousin there. I asked your aunt if she had heard any, just one, argument for Yes on 1 (the repeal contingent) that wasn’t based in religious tenets. She had not, nor had I. And it is there that I choke on so much angry bile; where I impotently spew about the separation of church and state built into this country’s founding documents. This country that I love, the country your father has worked every day of his adult life to study and defend, which proclaims that all are guaranteed equality and the pursuit of happiness. Bitter over the subjugation of this ideal? You bet. I’m so angry I could vomit.

But the tide is turning, Maggie. The vote was so close. Close enough to have flickered a little bit of hope, and it is on that flicker that we will sustain the fight. And we’ll do it; we’ll walk beside our friends, your surrogate aunts and uncles, and I hope that by the time you are old enough to marry that your love will be recognized and valid, no matter the sex of the person you love. Your father and I will fight for our loved ones struggling now, but we and your aunt Erika and uncle Erick will do it for you, and for Owen, and for our future children. We will fight, and we are going to win, so that you live in a world where love’s wonders and blessings are fully recognized.

We will win it for you.

Love,
Mama

Fancy That

CNN: “Survey: Americans Switching Faiths or Dropping Out”

My favorite chunk of the article:

“The Roman Catholic Church has lost more members than any faith tradition because of affiliation swapping, the survey found. While nearly one in three Americans were raised Catholic, fewer than one in four say they’re Catholic today. That means roughly 10 percent of all Americans are ex-Catholics.

The share of the population that identifies as Catholic, however, has remained fairly stable in recent decades thanks to an influx of immigrant Catholics, mostly from Latin America. Nearly half of all Catholics under 30 are Hispanic, the survey found.

On the Protestant side, changes in affiliation are swelling the ranks of nondenominational churches, while Baptist and Methodist traditions are showing net losses.”

Hey! That ten percent prefers to be called “recovering Catholic.” Or so my friends tell me. :-D

How completely unsurprising that “dropping confidence in organized religion” was cited as a key factor. As for me, the spiritual jury is still indefinitely out. When it comes to kids, mine can go with their friends once in a while when they are older if they want, but I think no extensive church exposure prior to high school is a good idea for us. Based solely on my own experience (not yours or anyone else’s), I feel it is too limiting to go through one’s formative years in a church group. Ahh…now that I’ve gotten that out, let the flame wars begin!