It's Only Civil

Location: Wisconsin, United States

I'm an ex-fundamentalist PK (Preacher's Kid) gone good. I live in Wisconsin with my partner of almost 5 years. We hope to be adding to our family in the near future. Currently, my hot topic of interest is the proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage for gay and lesbian folks in Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin and have no interest in living anywhere else, but I feel slapped in the face almost daily by those who are pushing this amendment that could threaten all legal protections for gay families and which will affect my family personally. My blog will likely be focused on this issue - might throw in a bit of other things just for kicks though.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Octavia Butler

I went to the library today to pick up a book I had on hold - Fledgling, by Octavia Butler - and the librarian mentioned that she'd recently died.

I was stunned.

Octavia Butler is my favorite author. Never afraid to deal with tough issues of race, class, poverty, violence and war, difference and discrimination and in the genre of sci fi, Butler is - was - an incredibly talented author and someone I would have loved to meet.

(for those who don't like sci fi - Butler's sci fi is not the standard alien worlds and interplanetary travel, so try it!)

The world has lost something. Her words will live on, but her presence and the work she would have done will be missed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday morning debate

I just caught the debate over the constitutional ban on civil unions, marriage and other protections for gay couples on Channel 3 this morning.

Joshua Freker from Fair Wisconsin and Rev. Curt Anderson from Christians for Equality did a good job, I thought. It was refreshing to see a discussion/debate and not a portrayal of only one side with nobody to answer until the following week or some such thing.

There was contentious argument about this amendment hurting real people in Wisconsin, which I'm glad didn't go too far - I couldn't believe that Appling, from the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin actually started an argument over who gets hurt worse by this amendment. (Her example was a couple who owns a business who doesn't want to be forced to provide health benefits to couples they don't support - I'd be curious to know more about this couple and their business and actually how many gay and lesbian people they have on their payroll, cause I'm guessing it's not many. As an aside, large companies have repeatedly found economic benefit in providing these type of benefits to families of all their employees - as someone who has domestic partner health benefits thru an employer, I can attest to the kind of loyalty that helps to encourage, despite the fact that the benefits are legally required by the IRS to be unequal.) In the face of stories about partners of 30 years being kept from one another during times of serious health crisis, Appling brings up this example of a situation that isn't even possible at any foreseeable point right now - the amendment would endanger all legal protections for gay and lesbian couples. We are hardly at a place where the state would be requiring all companies to provide equal benefits!

At any rate, nice job, Josh and Pastor Curt!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I hate gays more than you do! nyah, nyah, nyah

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, has endorsed a “Reciprocal Beneficiaries” bill in the state of Colorado. This is a bill that that would grant to certain people who cannot legally marry many of the legal rights currently reserved for married couples. These rights would include property-sharing, decision- making powers over funerals and organ donations and, possibly, health-care policy benefits. (By the way, this bill is actually being proposed in response to legislation that would grant domestic partnership status and rights to gay and lesbian couples in Colorado - legislation that would provide more rights that the "Reciprocal Beneficiaries" bill would)

The bill specifically does not name gay and lesbian couples as eligible for this, but they would, in theory be able to acquire several of the rights that are currently reserved for solely heterosexual couples. (talk about special rights!)

Paul Cameron, from the Family Research Institute, has criticized Dobson for supporting ‘gay rights’ and the two apparently continue to trade arguments, defensive responses and jabs (including a jab at Cameron by Dobson in which Dobson said Cameron “calls himself a researcher” – an interesting jab as Dobson relies on Cameron’s debunked research to push his anti-gay anything agenda and as Cameron has been thoroughly debunked and kicked out of the APA for improper research techniques. For more information on this, see the Cameron Fact Sheet and this report)

So who hates gays more?

Dobson has said “I don't believe that homosexuals should be denied a job. I don't believe that they should not be able to buy a house. I don't believe that they should not have the same rights everybody else does.” However, his actions show pretty much the complete opposite of these words and he and his organization have lead fights against rights of nearly any form for gay people and their families, including boycotts of privately held companies which extend domestic partner health benefits to their employees.

Cameron, on the same hand, has been so virulent in his efforts against gay people and families (going as far as to advocate marking people with AIDS with tattoos and considering extermination of gays an option), that he can’t even tolerate this type of legislation because it might provide a few rights to gay and lesbian couples, too. The rights granted would not include the over 1100 federal rights and responsibilities or even most of the state rights reserved for heterosexual couples (in Wisconsin there are close to 200 state rights and responsibilities associated with marriage), but Cameron believes that even those that would be allowed under this bill are too many.

And here in Wisconsin? Thanks to the second sentence, the proposed amendment to the state constitution that will be on the ballot in November would permanently deny even this type of law that Colorado is considering.

And the major state-wide organization supporting the ban on marriage and civil unions and other legal protections for gay and lesbian couples in Wisconsin? Family Research Institute of Wisconsin. Associated with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, it bears the same name as Cameron's organization, though I could find no claim of direct affiliation with Family Research Institute and Paul Cameron. I have to wonder where Appling would come down on this question.

Regardless, all of them have made it clear that they do not believe gay and lesbian couples, no matter how long they have been together, how devoted they are, how much care and responsibility they have taken on for one another, should be allowed any rights or recognition whatsoever. And if the proposed amendment were to pass here in Wisconsin, we would be facing a situation where even a bill that Dobson could support would be illegal.

And if it were to pass, I doubt that FRI of Wisconsin and their ilk would be stopping there. If Appling objects to that insinuation, then she should publicly support the protection of domestic partner benefits and at least some family rights for we who already take on all the responsibilities of marriage with none of the legal protections.