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

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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!

Stonewall Riots: 43rd Anniversary

43 years ago today on June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City. Many people in the nation, including the younger gay generation, are ignorant to the significance of this day in our nation’s history. While June has become National Pride Month, celebrated by parades and parties nationwide, Stonewall is often overlooked.

We simply cannot let that happen. Why is that?

Because without the riots at the Stonewall Inn, caused by gays and lesbians who had grown tired of being persecuted, we would not have the Gay Rights Movement we have today. Without those pioneers for equal treatment under the law, gay pride wouldn’t exist. Neither would same sex marriage or a president that has come out in support of gay marriage.

The progress we made started on the streets of New York City at Stonewall Inn, when the persecuted minority rose up and found its voice, and it is that voice that has carried us as far as we have come and will continue to carry us to full equality. Those voices gave birth to the parades, parties, and clubs we now take for granted because prior to Stonewall, those gatherings were illegal.

That’s what I tell my friends who ask me: I support gay rights, but I don’t understand the “need to parade.” Why do gay people feel compelled to line up in streets in provocative costumes and make spectacles of themselves?

The answer is quite simple–because we now can. Many people have no clue what it’s like to live your life in the dark, but homosexuals do. Now that we are no longer forced inside the dark closet of shame, we “parade” to tell the world that we are here, we are not going anywhere, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Ever. Again.

So, to those brave men and women who fought back at Stonewall, I applaud you, but more importantly I respect how you helped shape the nation from what it was to what it now is. We still have a way to go, but with the strength and the voice you gave us, we will get there.

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War on Religion? Give Me A Break!

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of hearing right wing extremists spouting that any effort for equality is a war on religion. Here are a two cases in point that drive me crazy. Texas State Representative Louie Gohmert believes that the Employee Non-Discrimination Act clearly proves Obama’s war on religion and opponents of The Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) believe that forcing private organizations that use state funds to pay for employee birth control is another sign of Obama’s war on religion.

Let’s look at these for what they really are. The ENDA is a proposed bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. We currently have laws that prevent discrimination hiring practices against race, faith, gender, or physical handicap. What this shows is that this nation, over time, came to realize that discrimination in any form was unjust. In fact, 26 states currently have some form of state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

To claim that the ENDA is proof of an attack against religion is absurd. The ENDA promises equal protection under law for every citizen in the nation. How could that goal possibly be connected to a war on religion? Isn’t religion, in theory anyway, supposed to come to the defense of those being mistreated? Not according to people like Representative Gohmert from Texas. But then again Gohmert isn’t really trying to defend his religious principles; he’s advocating bigotry against gay and transgendered people.

As for private organizations being forced to pay for employee birth control thanks to “Obamacare,” they too have it wrong. Churches are exempt from this, as they should be, but church sponsored organizations that utilize government money are not. Just like every other citizen and public organization that accepts money from the government, they too must follow the law. The government isn’t forcing people to use contraceptives, even though a majority of people including Catholics do. In fact, “28 states already impose such requirements,” which shows that this, once again, isn’t indicative of Obama’s war on religion.

There is a war in America, but it isn’t a war against religion. It’s a right wing extremist war against homosexuals and those who don’t prescribe to their views with hatred and prejudice at its very core. I just wish they would call it what it is. Though the Westboro Baptist Church is filled with a bunch of loons, at least they don’t hide their hatred. They are upfront about it. I can respect that more than politicians using the veil of religion to mask their bigotry.

If you want to hate me or someone else, then just hate. You’re free to do so in this country, but you’re not free to deny me or anyone else in this country equal protection under the law, and whether some people want to admit it or not, The Constitution of the United States of America proclaims we are all created equal.

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.

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.

Marriage Equality Bill Advances in Maryland

Earlier today, a marriage equality bill passed by a vote of 7-4 in the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, as reported by ThinkProgress. The measure now heads to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass. Governor Martin O’Malley has promised to sign the bill into law if it makes it to his desk. This brings us yet another potential victory for marriage equality in the nation.