Saturday, July 17, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
A FRIEND INDEED!
Every once in a while, good things happen that make you appreciate the fact that not every heterosexual positions gay marriage the way George Bush and his right wing conservative cronies do. Here is a perfect example.
Take one tall, blond, good looking, seventeen year old linebacker on a high school football team, give him a video camera and tell him to tape a documentary. What would you expect to get in return? A film about sports? Hot cars? Hot babes? None of the above, my friend. How about a film concerning the fight to make gay marriage legal in the United States?
Oh, he must be gay, right? Wrong. Zach Landman is a slice cut from the pie of middle class America. He’s a rich white kid from suburbia who probably never talked with a gay person in his life, unless he was hassling them. To look at him, you’d think he and his buddies would give gays at his school a fairly rough time. Such is not the case at all.
Landman chose a courageous topic to film and was supported by his class advisors. Naturally, he felt a bit self-conscious when he took his camera to San Francisco in February to film interviews with the hundreds of gays and lesbians waiting in line around the courthouse to be issued marriage licenses. “I was nervous, but everyone was open and warm,” he said.
For four hours, Landman spoke with gay and lesbian couples about marriage and their concerns and happiness. He came back a second day and a third. What he was looking for was, “a portrait of the people behind the same-sex marriage movement – the faces, the mood, the spirit.” What he got were images and comments from a cross section of couples that loved each other with the same intensity and commitment as married members of his own family. “I find the contention that same-sex marriage can somehow harm straight people like myself to be illogical.”
When he came home from his filming, Landman stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning, editing his film on his computer. He mixed scenes of gays and lesbians celebrating their marriages with clips of President Bush, and with slides of quotes from others both for and against gay marriage.
“I contacted more than 20 organizations who are against gay marriage but none of them got back to me. The non-response from those organizations sent a powerful message to me.”
Landman’s advisors encouraged him to enter his film in the C-SPAN sponsored California Student Media and Multimedia Competition. His film, aptly called A Nation Divided, placed second out of over 700 enteries. He won a $1,500 prize.
The Orinda Film Festival will be showing the film in October. Randy Holleschau, executive director of the festival, was emphatic. “When I saw the emotions it brought out in me, I realized other people have to watch this.”
I have stated over and over again that heterosexuals need to see the human face of gays and lesbians in our day to day life. They need to see that we’re people, not sex-starved animals trying to recruit their kids into our lifestyle. Zach Landman’s film goes a long way toward doing just that.
Thank you, Zach, for your support and hard work.
To view A Nation Divided, click here.
©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre
Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
CONGRESS AND THE COURTS
During the recent senatorial debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment almost every speaker on the Repubo side of the aisle said that the need for this amendment was to stop “activist judges,” like the four on the Massachusetts State Supreme Court, from redefining marriage. They claim that only a Constitutional amendment will stop Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from altering the Constitution from the bench.
Of course, the courts don’t alter the Constitution, they interpret it. But that doesn’t matter to right-wing Repubos who’s will to exert their beliefs upon all Americans can’t be deterred by simple things like checks and balances. The intolerable smearing Repubo Senators gave to the four justices who voted to extend the equal rights of marriage to gays and lesbians in Massachusetts were unmerciful. Even though three of the four justices were Republicans!
One of the jobs of the courts is to protect minorities from the repressive will of the majority. Without the ability of court justices to go against the majority, women would not be able to vote in this country, segregated schools would be the norm, oral sex (an act preformed by over 70% of heterosexual couples) would still be against the law, and no black or Latino person would be able to marry a white person.
Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado (R), a sponsor of the FMA, says, “Why do gays and lesbians want to hide (the issue of gay marriage) in the courts where the American people don’t have the opportunity to even enter into the debate?” As if the heavy hand of discrimination can’t be felt in the courts. It’s only when justices concede that “Equal but separate has proved to be not equal at all.” that the likes of Allard get upset.
How far are these people willing to go to keep discriminating against gays and lesbians? They’re willing to sacrifice the very checks and balances written into the Constitution that give Federal courts the right to decide what conforms with the Constitution and what does not.
Prompted by Republicans, the House Judiciary Committee voted today 21-13 in a meeting to enact legislation that would strip Federal courts of the power to rule against the constitutionality of DOMA and order states to recognize same-sex marriages sanctioned in other states. This bill will move to the House floor next week. Imagine if Congress had made laws ruling the courts were not able to question the constitutionality of giving women the right to vote.
This would only be the beginning. Every time the majority wanted a law that discriminated against individuals, all they would have to do is establish a law prohibiting courts from ruling it unconstitutional. Where would we be with that kind of precedent set? Suppose 100 years from now, Christianity would become unpopular with the majority of people in America? Congress could pass a law stating courts could not rule on the constitutionality of oppressing Christians. Once you open that door, anything can waltz through.
The courts are the only safeguard all of us have against the old institution that Might Makes Right. Take away the court’s ability to rule and you take away any chance of overturning discrimination against any minority in this country.
Diane Mellen of Park City, Utah, wrote to the Salt Lake City Tribune saying, “Our government’s job is to protect the rights of all of us, including those who are gay, not to uphold irrational prejudices of the masses. It is the government’s responsibility not to uphold, in this case, the prejudiced will of the people, no matter how much of a majority they constitute, but to defend the rights of its people.”
I concur. So should you.
©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre
Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
President Bush, in his radio address last Saturday, said that legalizing gay marriage would redefine the most fundamental institution of civilization. His exact words were, “If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost and the institution is weakened.”
I’ve listened to the debates on the Federal Marriage Amendment on CSPAN-2 for the past two days. Led by Mormon Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), almost every Repubo who spoke supported the FMA because they didn’t want “activist judges” to redefine marriage, thus ditto-heading what the president said in his address.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the definitions involved. First, the definition of marriage as the FMA would put it:
“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”
The redefinition people are talking about would read thus:
“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union between two people committed to each other through love.”
Big deal, huh? If you think this is all that the hubbub is about, you’re naïve. If you think these people only want to “protect traditional marriage,” you’re equally naïve. The phrase they don’t talk much about in the FMA is the real crux of the argument.
“Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidence thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”
Consider “the legal incidence thereof” for a minute. The legal incidence of heterosexual marriage are the 1,049 federal benefits of marriage and the multitude of state benefits that are consigned to marriage. While the senators supporting the FMA fall all over each other telling how they have nothing against gays and lesbians, nor do they want to interfere with their lifestyle, almost EVERY state marriage constitutional change due to be voted on in November will eliminate the availability of civil unions and domestic partnerships to gay couples. Virginia goes even further by stating that gays cannot enter into any kind of legal contract that resembles marriage. Other states are specific in stating that the benefits of marriage may not be given to couples entering into civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Who’s kidding whom here?
Black ministers are against gay organizations comparing our fight to the discrimination blacks went through during their struggle against segregation. They say gay marriage has nothing to do with the institution of slavery from which blacks were freed. No gay organization that I know of ever said that. They do say that our fight is similar to the fight to make interracial marriage lawful. But even that gets twisted by the radical right calling it the gay agenda to destroy traditional marriage.
Gays don’t care what states call it – marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, as long as the benefits their unions incur equal those of heterosexual marriage. Fortunately, most freedom minded Americans realize that, which is why the FMA will fail.
©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre