Gay Marriage

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I used to think that the gay marriage issue didn’t belong to me. It wasn’t my fight, I’m straight. I used to think that it didn’t matter if it was called a civil union or marriage. To me, it was all semantics. I privately thought that the citizenry was probably doing gays a favor by not allowing them to marry. Don’t more than 50% of marriages end in divorce now, anyway?

Then Proposition 8 was put on the ballot in California in a year where I was paying attention to politics closely. Earlier in the year, the California Supreme Court overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage citing that the state’s Constitution protects the fundamental right to marry. Afterwords, thousands of same sex couples married. Then in November, the California electorate stripped that “right” away by changing the state’s Constitution to say that marriage is between a “man and a woman”. And then last week, the same Court that affirmed gays’ right to marry only a year earlier, upheld the same sex marriage ban imposed by Proposition 8, stripping their rights away.

Now, some will say that same-sex couples in California shouldn’t complain because they still have the right to civil unions. It is equal to marriage. The problem is that civil unions only protect same sex couples under the law in the event of a death. In other words, if one partner were to die, then the law protects them in property rights and in the receipt of insurance benefits. Same sex couples aren’t afforded about 1400 legal rights that are given to married couples. That may be separate, but it is not even close to being equal. Gay marriage should be legal and recognized–not just in California, but by all 50 states and the federal government.

I know that the majority of Americans don’t agree with me. A recent Quinnipac poll showed that 55% of Americans oppose same sex marriage in their states. But I find it odd that the majority of Americans think that same sex couples should get social security death benefits if their partner’s die, should be allowed to openly serve in the military, and should be allowed to adopt. Also, it surprised me that a majority of Americans disagree with the notion that same-sex marriage is a threat to traditional marriage. So what’s the beef with allowing them to marry, then? I don’t get it.

To me, it seems that the people are opposed to same sex marriage just to oppose it. To disallow one group of consenting adults the right to marry is discrimination. That is just wrong.

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Remembering Lost Soldiers

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I had an uncle, my mom’s brother, who was a towering giant of a man. As a child when you were around him you felt incredibly safe and protected but at the same time, scared of him – you never want to anger a six plus foot tall man when you’re only three feet tall, lol.

I remember our families, my sisters and I and our cousin Rebecca spending a lot of time together when we were younger, before our families all settled in different areas and our lives became too busy for regular forays to visit family in other states.

We had a lot of fun, for a long time all of the kids in our family were girls until my cousin Wesley came along (named after my uncle). Regardless when we were younger we would all inevitably anger the big man, always far too late at night for us little girls to be awake and giggling, and we’d hear the giant bellow from the living room, “Girls, GO TO SLEEP!”. We would all gasp and close our eyes very tightly, laying as silently as we could in case he came to check.

And when he did, those footsteps through the house lasted an eternity! Rebecca always gave us away, she was defiant from the start, and that still hasn’t changed about her.

My uncle’s name was John, and he had a tour in Vietnam when he was young, lost a best friend there. In the late 90’s when I was still too wrapped up in my own teenaged life to notice, my uncle started battling the big C. Cancer.

I didn’t really become cognizant of the battles he was going through until my son and I got our own place and I became much more involved with my family. (my marriage had isolated me from them).

I remember one year when my uncle was having a particularly hard time, and this was after battling cancer off and on for probably ten years or so, and he had indicated to the family that he didn’t want to fight it anymore. I was devastated, my uncle had been a deacon in mine and my sister’s baptisms and we all felt a closeness to him, almost like a father to us. My mother and I arranged to visit for a weekend and did, staying in a motel room and visiting with my Grandfather while we were in Oklahoma, where my uncle had settled.

After we came back home, I wrote my uncle a letter, and though I don’t recall everything that I said, I remember recording raw emotion and desperation like I’ve never felt before, pouring out of me into that letter. I wanted him to continue to fight, a big man such as he, a vehicle of God like himself, surely could push on and beat this, just around the next corner.

He continued to fight after that, and I wrote a few more letters to him, but increasingly his health got worse, and for most of the last I’ll say two years of his life, he was in declining health and leaving home less often.

In the spring of 2006 we buried my Uncle. It was a very hard time for our family and we’ve all struggled since that time to remain close and in touch, sometimes when family suffers a loss like this it’s hard to get together without thinking of those we’ve lost. My grandmother, who is a confirmed saint, had to bury her oldest son – and her best friend. I have a huge frog in my throat as I write this, it was an incredibly painful time for all of us.

Days like tomorrow remind me of him, and the Agent Orange that he was exposed to in Vietnam that eventually took his life. When I look at my cousin Rebecca it pains me to think about her having to continue her life without him in it, they always shared a closeness and a bond that was palpable to the rest of the family. I envied her relationship at times, as I didn’t have that kind with my own father.

I think about all the fathers and sons at war for our country right now and worry for them, praying to an unknown god that they will return to their families and enjoy a long and plentiful life.

This post is in memory of my Uncle, John Tuck, who fought and died for his country. I miss my uncle.

Pictured below: John & Rebecca Tuck.

Photobucket

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Keep Theocracy out of Our Democracy

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The US Constitution was ratified by the 13 states in 1789. Realizing the original Constitution failed to protect individual liberties, the Bill of Rights, or the first ten Amendments, were introduced to Congress in the same year, and came into effect on December 15, 1791. The first Amendment, as Thomas Jefferson described it, built a “wall of separation between Church and State” (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).

Even so, many fundamental Christians feel that the United States is a Christian nation and prayer should be mandated in public schools; creationism should be taught to children; and the 10 commandments should adorn public buildings. And they have taken over the Republican Party. That gives the Fundamentalist power to pursue their agenda: to rid the country of secularism.

We only need to look at the legislation passed in previous eight last years to know that this is true. George Bush won the war on the very unbiblical taxes by cutting taxes on the wealthy, which passed in the House at 1:56 am on a Friday in May, under the cloak of darkness. Those proponents of the flat tax—they are proponents of the Biblical tax, the only tax mentioned in the Bible. To fundamentalists, the free market rewards good Christian behavior and punishes the unrepentant. And so the Republicans did their bidding and cut regulations on corporations. Then of course, George Bush’s abstinence only sex education program, where lots of government funds were given to faith-based programs. Also there were multiple calls for an Amendment to the Constitution making marriage only between “one man and one woman”, to keep the Biblical definition of marriage law of the land.

The past eight years clearly chipped away at the wall between church and state. Even for the most devout Christian, this should be alarming. We only need to look at theocracies like Iran and Afghanistan under Taliban rule to see what we could become. The most literal interpretations of our Bible would put our society backwards 2000 years. Women, Jews, gays, Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists would all become second class citizens. Science would not have the place it does in our society today. We must remember that this country was founded by men and women escaping the tyranny of the Church of England; and Nazi Germany was led by a very religious man wishing to rid its country of moral decay.

We need to rebuild the wall. As a nation, we need to understand that a marriage under the law is not the same as a marriage in the Church. We need to understand that faith-based programs have their place, but not in government. We need to understand that science does not necessarily preclude the supernatural. We should know that someone else’s beliefs, or lack thereof, do not in any way diminish our own beliefs. Most of all, we should know that our salvation can not be legislated or coerced.

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. In neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. – Thomas Jefferson

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Moving Right Along…

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In light of recent discussion, I’ve been thinking over the weekend, more like reflecting on my past relationships. My friendships, the relationship I have with my Mother, etc. I have always felt that having regrets were a sad sad state of affairs and that I never wanted to have any.

In your hardest times in life, you will find out who your friends are, and the saddest thing is most of the time, you walk away from it with less friends and a broken heart. The important thing however is that you walk away from it.

Friends will swear they will be there for you and for some reason or another when the time comes, they are nowhere to be found. Sometimes out of spite we might be inclined to wish we’d never had that friendship, or relationship. But that’s no way to live at all. Regrets haunt you, make you bitter and give you wrinkles.

I think it’s impossible to go through life with no regrets, you will always have some, but ideally they’ll be small regrets. I say this because I believe that even if you’re in a bad relationship, if you can walk away from that having learned something about yourself, having learned anything at all, that’s a benefit that negates regret.

I have had my share of relationships in my life sour, my relationship with my Mom, a marriage that lasted a short short time, thankfully, acquaintances and several friendships that have come and gone through the years. Most of those I’ve learned something from. I think that life is a classroom and it’s our job to make sure we take everything away from it to expand our minds and lives that we can.

I’d like to know if you think so too. Can you tell me something you’ve gained from a relationship that you don’t have anymore, perhaps a memory that you cherish, a knowledge you gained that you never otherwise would have gained, a relationship that was borne of another that is now no longer, even.

We all have struggles and problems but if we learn from experience, including relationship experience, I think we gain the upper hand in life.

I am sure you’ve heard the expression that people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime. I believe that’s true.

I often talk about my mother here, and our relationship, or lack thereof – by my choosing. While I am estranged from her now, and that makes me, I believe, a happier person, I would not be who I am today had I not come up that way. I am proud of me on most days and though I don’t understand the way my mom did things, I think it’s a vital part of who I am.

I had friends in high school that taught me the value of friendship and a shoulder to lean on, teachers that taught me things that I still enjoy doing, I learned how to write in high school not just from teachers, but from classmates as well, Ruby, who guest posted here, being one of them.

So now it’s your turn. Tell me some of your experiences, something you’ve taken away from a friendship, a relationship of any kind; teacher/student, parent/child, friend to friend, etc. Something you cherish and would never trade.

Here’s the Monday Mojo video for those of you that were waiting for it.

🙂

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