What Does SCOTUS Decision on DOMA Mean for Married Same-Sex Couples Living in States that Ban Gay Marriage?

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In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down DOMA declaring it “unconstitutional [and]…a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

What Does This Mean?

Well, it means that the American government must now recognize same-sex marriage on a federal level. Therefore, same-sex couples, who are legally married in states that recognize their marriage, are now eligible for federal benefits. They don’t have to pay inheritance tax. They get social security survivorship and federal income tax benefits just to name a few. For a list of the 1,138 federal rights of marriage, click here.

This is a huge win for married gay couples everywhere, and I can’t tell you how excited I am as well.

Close but more excited than that!

Close but I was more excited than that!

This is about right!

Yeah, that’s about right!

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder:

What Does the Decision Mean for Married Gay Couples who Don’t Live in a State that Recognizes Same-Sex Unions?

First of all, it means that my husband and I are still not married in Texas, which has defined a marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

I know, right?

I know, right?

This will hold true for similar couples living in the other 36 states that do not recognize same-sex unions.

However, on a federal level, married couples like my husband and me will be able enjoy the federal benefits that had been previously denied to us. So while our state doesn’t recognize my marriage, my country now does.

That’s definitely a step in the right direction.

How a Final Exam Restarted My Writing Career

Many of you know that I teach college English, and this week is finals week. Cue the fanfare and confetti because in just a few short days, I will be on summer vacation and pounding my computer keyboard as if it were hot, sweaty man flesh. It will definitely be time to

celebrate.gif

But as I sit here today, I can’t help but think of an important final exam that occurred a couple of years ago.

While my students were taking their final and I was updating Facebook (because that’s what I do while they are taking their two-and-a-half-hour final!) I started thinking, and as Gaston says in Beauty and the Beast, that’s

Gaston from Beauty and the Beast

Lost of things were happening in our country at that time. I was extremely worried about the direction we were headed. I’m not going to get all political on you, so don’t worry. But I started thinking: what would happen if the “moral majority” took power and got everything they wanted?

So, I started a little writing exercise. You see, I hadn’t written in years. I had abandoned writing for my career in higher education and to focus on my family.

But at that moment inspiration struck.

Inspiration strikes me with rainbow stars :)

Inspiration strikes me with rainbow stars :)

I had to do something with it or I was going to explode right there in front of my students. So while they worked on analyzing poetry, I imagined a nation where morality became prescribed. Because basically, that’s what I felt some people wanted. They wanted everyone to share their values and their beliefs whether they did or not.

Who decides which one is which?

Who decides which one is which?

I then drafted The Moral Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America.

In that document, I created a fourth branch of government, one that was responsible for overseeing the moral character of its citizens. That fourth branch of government became known as the Moral Authority.

Once that new branch of government had been created, I made the Moral Authority get to work.

A year after the amendment that created them, the Moral Authority helped pass another constitutional amendment known as The Definition of Marriage, which stated: a marriage between one man and one woman was the only legal domestic relationship that would be valid in the country.

Naturally, that started a political firestorm in the America of my imagining. States that had previously allowed gay marriage were forced to abide by the law of the land. This created such a backlash among the gay community. The country was then forced to deal with angry Americans rioting against the new law. Therefore, a new amendment was passed two years later, where homosexuality was abolished. Being gay was now a criminal offense just like drinking alcohol had once been during Prohibition.

What? No more rainbows too?

What? No more rainbows too?

This created an uproar in my future America. Citizens started to revolt, claiming that the Moral Authority was overstepping its boundaries, so the Moral Authority enacted another amendment two years after abolishing homosexuality to quell the rising tide of unpopularity that threatened to remove their power. They established a Moral Code for all citizens. Everyone was expected to do as the government dictated by following prescribed standards of care, fairness, loyalty, respect, and purity in their relationships with others and within their daily lives. A new moral law force was created to uphold moral code, and a new armed forces division was created to serve as a moral army. They were dubbed the K3, and their purpose was to deal with domestic moral terrorists, who sought anarchy through breaking moral law.

The fist of moral order

The fist of moral order

Needless to say, I was exhausted after creating this new America, and my students still hadn’t finished their exam. Now, however, I needed to do something with that new America. I couldn’t just let it sit there. I needed to populate it to show what could happen if individual rights were continually stripped away by government interference.

And during that final, approximately three years ago, I once again reclaimed my passion for writing, which turned into my novel Moral Authority.

So as I prepare for finals this year, I think back on that momentous day in my life. I have come a long way since I started scribbling out a dystopian America. I now have two published books under my belt and three more set to be published this year, one of those is the second edition of Moral Authority.

Moral Authority 2nd Edition

I can’t wait to see what I come up with next during these final exams. Stay tuned!

Bruce & Jacob: 10 Years and Still Going Strong!

This weekend my husband Bruce and I celebrate a milestone in our relationship–ten years as a couple. As the date drew closer, I fretted about how to celebrate such a wonderful event in our lives. I wanted it to be perfect, and if you know my husband, he’s extremely romantic and outdoes me at every turn. Sometimes I think he should be the one writing romance fiction instead of me. He’s just that good!

So I thought: what could I do that would show Bruce how important he is to me?

The answer: shout it to the word!

So, friends, family, and those of you who have stumbled upon this post, I want to share with you some highlights from the past ten years of our lives together. Naturally, we shall start at…

The Beginning

When Bruce and I met, we had no intention of becoming a couple. We were going through some rather difficult times in our personal lives, and we were only looking for friendship. Nothing more. Life, however, had other plans in store. Bruce’s friendship quickly became a source of strength. For someone like me, who’s a loner used to taking care of himself, it was both comforting and disconcerting. I had no idea what to do with this man who didn’t play games and who showed, instead of told me, how much he cared. I mean, he brought me a dozen roses when I came down with the flu, and we hadn’t even started dating yet.

Men didn’t do that! At least not the men I had dated!

It didn’t dawn on me that I had fallen in love with Bruce until I encountered a personal crisis in life. You see, he was the first person I called. I bypassed my mother and my best friend, something I had never done before. Even though he was (and still is) a busy doctor, Bruce took my call and talked me off the ledge. When I hung up the phone with him, I realized I’d been hooked, and all it took was his kind attentiveness and a flash of his charming smile.

Shortly after, we moved in together, and not long after that, we bought a house, creating a new family with my daughter and Bruce’s two children. I’ll be honest. I worried what the neighbors would think and how the kids would be treated. We lived in south Texas in a very conservative town in an uber-conservative state. I was worried that we would find burning crosses in our front yard, and the children would be terrorized at school. None of the awful events I imagined ever occurred. In fact, life went along as normal, but the extremely pessimistic man I sometimes am, I waited for the other shoe to drop.

Until a magical event happened.

That first Christmas we moved into our house, when our families were all going to get together for the first time, it snowed on Christmas Eve. Now, keep in mind, this is south Texas, where snow rarely falls, and it didn’t just snow it snowed! I’m talking inches, and the snowfall stayed around until Christmas morning, giving our town its first white Christmas, an event not likely to happen again in 100 years.

I took it as a sign. The rare south Texas snow was just like the love I had found with Bruce–once in a lifetime. After that, I just didn’t worry anymore.

The Midpoint

After that first Christmas, Bruce and I settled into being parents and partners. It wasn’t an easy transition. Being a parent is tricky. Being a step-parent, as anyone who’s been there can confirm, is even trickier. A certain balance has to be maintained, or the entire applecart can be upset. I won’t say we didn’t have to run around picking up fallen apples at times, but like any couple we learned how to deal with the small disasters that sometimes create havoc in life. When we came across one of those situations, though, I knew Bruce had my back. We became quite the team, utilizing each other’s strengths and creating a pretty awesome parenting force.

 

But beyond growing as a father and a partner because of Bruce, Bruce also taught me about the powerful healing force of true love. You see, it was during these years that I became quite ill. I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say, that it was a rough time for me. Bruce, being the dear, sweet man he is, picked me up off the floor and carried me on his shoulders until I was strong enough to once again stand on my own. He became my champion, my knight-in-shining-armor, who fought my illness when I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself. He refused to let me give up, and his strength became my own.

Quite literally, his love saved my life.

After re-gaining my strength and my health, it was time to make honest men out of us both. I proposed to Bruce, and he accepted. A year later, we were married in Provincetown, amidst the town we both came to love, the friends we’d made throughout our many visits over the years, and the family who came to celebrate the day with us.

I fell in love with Bruce all over again in Provincetown, and when we were married, it solidified the commitment we made to each other. We told the whole world that we were unequivocally a couple! Whether it was legal or not in Texas didn’t matter. We were now and forever husbands to each other.

The Road that Stretches Before Us

Now, ten years after our first day as a couple, eight years after moving into our house and becoming a family, five years after beating an illness, and almost three years after marriage, Bruce and I are stronger than ever. Has it always been perfect? No. But then again, what in life is perfect?

I’m sure as hell not. And neither is Bruce.

But our imperfections don’t matter when we are together. They are merely bumps in the road, and it is these bumps that continually make us stronger and better capable to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

I know they are out there, coming our way, and that they might even be numerous. Our first child is now preparing to leave for college, and the other two aren’t far behind. We will have to grow and adjust to the challenges of an empty nest, and everything else life plans to throw at us. Still, I don’t fear what the future holds.

The road before us may be darkened by the unknown, but I know when I reach out my hand that my husband and my best friend will be there beside me. We will meet those challenges together, and against the two of us, life’s obstacles don’t stand a hell of a chance!

I love you, Bruce.

I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring!

And thank you, my love, for choosing to love me.

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In Nevada: Politicians Favor Brothel Over Marriage Equality

When I first saw this posted on ThinkProgress, I had to do a double take. According to a recent poll in Nevada, politicians in the “All For Our Country” State favor making brothels legal by a ratio of 3 to 1 over marriage equality.

Apparently, it’s good family values to pay for sex and cheat on your spouse. Well, better than two adults of the same gender committing to each other and raising a family. What does this tell us about our “family values” in this country?

For me, it reveals the true colors of many who oppose marriage equality. It’s okay for those people to screw up their own families with their own skewed version of “family values” because two men and two women are incapable of entering into a long-term, committed relationship and raise children.

Yeah, right. Tell that to your prostitute on your next visit, Nevada politicians

In Washington State: Marriage Repeal on Ballot

In February, I posted about Washington State’s Governor Chris Gregoire signing the Marriage Equality Bill that crossed her desk. Well, unfortunately (but certainly expected), the law has officially gotten a referendum.

As reported by Queerty, “The number of names turned in far exceeds the required 120,577, though there have been some reports of fraud.”

Even with the signature tampering, a recent poll indicates “54% of Washington voters support marriage equality.”

In all, I remain hopeful. Though there are some people in Washington who remain prejudiced against gay rights, the majority supports true equality.

Catholic Priest in Minnesota Argues For Gay Marriage

This past Sunday, Father Bob Pierson spoke to Catholics in Minnesota about why Catholics could vote no to the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment.

Father Pierson eloquently debunks common ecclesiastical beliefs on gay marriage.

He points out that the Catholic Church does NOT recognize civil marriage at all. Catholics who enter into marriages outside the church do not exist according to canonical law, whether they are gay or straight unions. Therefore, the Catholic Church, and any other church, should have no say what civil marriages a government recognizes. He further points out that reliable studies, not those sanctioned by bias, disprove that children are negatively affected by gay marriage. According to Pierson, love is love, regardless if parents are of same or opposite sex. And, finally, Pierson acknowledges that if gay marriage is recognized by the government, then the Catholic Church will have to follow government mandates on social services laws, if government money is used for those services. Neither the Catholic Church nor any other church or organization has any right to be excluded from government laws when government money is used. As he astutely states, that would lead to discrimination everywhere.

Father Pierson even uses words spoken in 1967 from “young theologian” Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict. Pierson said, ”Our holy father taught in 1967 that we must obey our own conscience, even if it puts us at odds with the Pope. I doubt that he knew that he was going to be Pope when he said that.”

To me, Father Pierson represents the kind of man the Catholic Church needs as a leader, someone who not only understands canonical law, but who doesn’t believe any religion has a right to “force its teachings on others outside the fold.”

Here’s the video if you’d like to watch it.

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(Story via Towleroad)

Marriage Equality in Maine?

Based on recent polls out of Maine, the northernmost state in the continental U.S. might be the next state to make marriage equality law, as reported by ThinkProgress.

According to Public Policy Polling, “54% think that gay marriage should be legal to only 41% who think it should be illegal. And when we asked about the issue using the exact language voters will see on the ballot this fall, they say they’re inclined to support the referendum by a 47-32 margin.”

Based on the numbers, same sex couples looking to get hitched in Maine might be able to do so by Christmas. And if it does go through, Maine will be the 9th state in the union with marriage equality.

I’m pleased to see marriage equality picking up steam. Now I wonder how long it will take before marriage equality comes to the south, where civil rights always seem to lag.

Marriage Equality in Maryland

Last night, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed marriage equality into state law, as reported by ThinkProgress.

Gov. O’Malley made the following statement as he signed the bill:

“[This is] for a free and diverse people, for people of many faiths, for people committed to the principal of religious freedom, the way forward is always found through greater respect for human rights of all, through human dignity for all…We are one Maryland and all of us at the end of the day want the same thing for our children. We want them to live in a loving, caring and committed home that is protected equally under the law.”

O’Malley’s words acknowledge what many of us already know: equality is not something that is for a select few; it’s for everyone, whether we are of different races, genders, faiths, or sexual orientations. In the end, all that matters is our rights as humans.

And, with his signature, Maryland becomes the 8th state (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, New York, Washington and Washington D.C.) to legalize same-sex marriage.

Opponents of marriage equality are gearing up for a voter referendum. If the required signature aren’t submitted prior to January 2013, same-sex marriage in Maryland becomes law.

Santorum: Children Better Off With Father in Jail Than With A Gay Dad

First off, I want to thank my good friend and former colleague Chris H. for bringing this article to my attention. It’s hard to believe I missed such stupidity spewing from Santorum’s face hole, but I did. Mea culpa.

According to Addicting Info, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke to an LGBT community in New Hampshire this past January. During his talk, Santorum said about gay parents and gay marriage:

You’re robbing children of something that they need, they deserve, they have a right to. They have a right to be known and be loved by their dad or their mom. Marriage is not a right. It’s a privilege that is given to society by society for a reason … We want to encourage what is the best for children. Even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children’s lives.”

Once again, Santorum’s hate and bigotry continues to corrupt his ethical character. Well, if he really had any to corrupt. Last year alone, there were 254,375 children entering foster care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Services. Those children, who were given up by their straight parents, had no home and were waiting to enter a loving home that would give them unconditional love, emotional support, and security that their biological parents could not. I wonder how many of those children would have loved to have been adopted by a gay couple, who understand being outcasts of society?

As a gay man and a father, I find Santorum’s condemnation of gay parents revolting and unworthy of a human being, much less a politician. I had a straight father, who had no problem casting me aside, and he is certainly not a better father than I am to my daughter. She has certainly not lacked for love, support, guidance, and discipline simply because I am gay. My sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to parent nor does any person’s sexuality.

Being a good parent involves never-ending sacrifice, infinite patience, and boundless love. Those traits are hallmarks of a good human being, something Santorum proves time and again that he is not.