My Statement On The Death of Rush Limbaugh
I’ll begin by saying that cancer is a terrible disease. It has taken several people close to me and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even a creature so vile as Rush Limbaugh.
But Rush did have cancer, and he died today at the age of 70 from it.
I know he was married four times and had no progeny, a fact that I will freely admit I am grateful for. I send my condolences to his current wife Kathryn.
That out of the way, I once read that when Freddie Mercury died of AIDS on Nov. 24, 1991 Rush noted the occasion by playing a snippet of “Another One Bites The Dust” on his radio show. I feel that he deserves that same level of respect.
Refugee. It’s an interesting word. Webster defines refugee as “one that flees – especially a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.”
I’ve met a number of refugees during my lifetime. One escaped Vietnam with his family the night before the fall of Saigon. Other folks I know have fled persecution in Russia for the crime of being gay. So it’s not a word I use lightly.
That said, the irony of the words I’m about to type doesn’t escape me.
Earlier tonight I fixed us a dinner of pan grilled chicken breast served with sautéed kale and pasta. We enjoyed it with a glass of Chardonnay, served in glasses we brought back from a trip to Thailand. A vintage I discovered on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. In business class, naturally. I liked it so much I ordered a half case. Over the in-flight Wi-Fi. Opened it up with a corkscrew we picked up in Australia.
Yes, we have privilege. And on most days we try to use our privilege to help others. Some days we simply enjoy it because it helps get us through all the negativity that seems to envelop us all these days. Today was one of those days.
We arrived back in California last Wednesday after being at our place up in Victoria since mid-March. Initially we had gone up for what was meant to be two and a half weeks, then COVID kicked in, flights began to drop, and you know the rest. We simply felt safer to stay put, which we did until last week.
So now we’re here, and as John Denver once sang it was like “coming home to a place we’d never been before.” Seven months may not seem like a long time but to a cat it’s around 3.5 years. That’s how long it had been since Teddy and I had seen one another and believe me, he let me know it. Tigra came around a bit more quickly. But I digress…
Over the past several days we’ve been cleaning up, prepping the house so our real estate agent can show it to potential buyers, and packing as many possessions as we can fit into the one-way rental car that’s taking us and our two kitties back to Canada.
We’ve been advised by a friend who knows what he’s talking about that it’s probably a good idea to be north of the border before 5 pm on November 3rd so that’s our target date. That may sound ominous, but while I’m an optimist I’m also a realist. To that end, I’ve made absolutely sure to pack at least a few things that I’d feel sad if I never got to see again.
So back to the original word I typed, I never thought I’d face the real possibility of being a refugee. I was born in what many thought to be the greatest country on the planet just over 56 years ago. I’ve literally seen a person attempt to rush the border in Tijuana just to get into the USA, only to be tackled by two US CBP officers and dragged back into Mexico, so clearly I’m not the only one who thought so.
But now I face the possibility, perhaps remote, perhaps not, of becoming a refugee myself.
I’m lucky and I’m grateful to have a spouse who sponsored me for residency in a country where things are still stable – at least for the moment. But I feel so sad for all the folks who don’t have the same privilege I do, many of whom have already escaped ruthless regimes one time already.
I hope my fears are unfounded, but I’m prepared for the possibility that they might not be. Whatever happens, I know this: no matter what side of the border I find myself on I will always help those who need my assistance. That you can count on.
What Happened Next…AND What Happens Next?
Much has happened since I last posted here (CLICK HERE if you missed it) on August 10th. You know the saying “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” right? Sometimes it’s difficult to find a picture that accurately expresses how we are feeling. For me, this is one of those times – thus, this post is “pictureless.”
We’ve been “stuck,” and I use quotes because it’s actually a good thing, at our place in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island since March 12th. Over the past 6+ months Victoria has become home for us. Sure, we miss our friends in Southern California. A lot. But we’ve made some great new friends here. We’ve discovered great places to walk, wonderful restaurants, stores, and adjusted to island life. We miss our cats too. More about that later.
You may have heard the cliché that the view from up here is akin to living on the second floor apartment above a meth lab. In some ways that’s completely accurate. Watching the news from this side of the border – on a good day – can be downright depressing. It’s sad to see the country of my birth essentially imploding. But I digress…
Fingers crossed, we’re finally headed back down for a short time in early October. Our plans have had to be flexible because of reality – one never knows from one day to the next if a flight will be operating as scheduled. For someone who plans things for a living it can be maddening. Luckily, we’re also taught to plan for the unexpected, so we always have various alternative scenarios as back-up, and even back up plans for the back up plans when warranted.
To make matters more complex, our home in the greater Los Angeles area has been surrounded by fires. We had a near miss and a couple of smaller scares but so far, so good. Thank whatever God you believe in that we have good friends who live close by that have not only been looking after our kitties but also spending time at the house. Without them I can assure you we would have gone completely mad. They say everything happens for a reason and this must be the reason we bought our house where – and when – we did.
Back to part two of the title of this post – what happens next? I don’t think anyone knows. We’re going down, doing what we need to do, retrieving what we need to have, packing up the kitties in a one way rental vehicle and driving back up for the duration of the pandemic. Then we face a 14 day in home quarantine which in many ways is a good thing – it’ll give us and the cats time to get to know each other again. If they forgive us for taking them on a three day road trip, that is…
I could go on but I’ll stop for the moment. Suffice it to say that just like the great flood, the next 40 days and 40 nights – and likely beyond that – will have all of us on information overload. I’ll be back at some point after November 3rd. For now, stay safe, stay healthy, limit your time on social media (yes, I am too), and vote!
Accidentally Becoming a Canadian Permanent Resident…
…well, not exactly accidentally. Becoming Canadian residents is something my husband and I have had planned for a while as we prepare for our eventual retirement. We bought a condo in Victoria in late 2018 and since Joseph was already a Canadian citizen he was able to sponsor me for residency and eventual citizenship. We just didn’t think that the living here full time part would happen so soon!
The pictures above highlight just a few of the differences we have noticed when we see familiar things. Restrooms are called washrooms. The gas station we know as Exxon is called Esso here (funny enough, I remember Esso from my childhood – I always liked going there because of their tiger mascot).
McDonald’s has a maple leaf smack dab in the middle of their golden arches and center is spelled centre. Checks are cheques, and, finally, Denny’s has a maple leaf in place of the apostrophe.
I’m sure there are more examples, but you’ll get my point – Canada is a land reminiscent of those cousins you used to visit as a child – their habits and culture were almost identical to what you were used to but they were different enough that you could tell you weren’t in the proverbial “Kansas” anymore. But I digress…
Back to my story, I officially “landed,” as they call it, on February 8th, 2020. Joseph and I had been visiting my parents and sisters in North Carolina then flew to Victoria via Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, where I was “processed” (a term that always reminds me of being a chicken in a factory) and my paperwork was stamped, signed and returned to me, making me an official Permanent Resident of Canada.
With that piece of paper, I was able to get my Social Insurance number (Canada’s version of a Social Security number), open a bank account, and, once I received my PR card in the mail, apply for a British Columbia drivers license. I accomplished all of these things in February, then we flew back south on the 26th with plans to fly back up on March 12th and stay until the 28th to get a few more things sorted. I’m sure glad I got these things taken care of when I did, as you can imagine.
So when we landed in Vancouver on that infamous Thursday morning in March we knew something was up minutes after arrival. We’d never seen the customs hall so empty, especially at that time of the morning – under normal circumstances, arriving passengers on our lowly regional jet are lost among the morning arrivals from all over the globe – but not that day. Even with NEXUS cards, it still normally takes a while to navigate our way through the sea of inbound international travelers, but not this time. I’m sure you have a fairly good idea about what happened next…
TO BE CONTINUED
I’m Glad I’m Not The Only One Who Feels This Way
I wasn’t going to post anything this week. Just couldn’t seem to make it happen. Then “wham,” a post from the amazing Derek Penwell came across my newsfeed, I read it, I liked it, REALLY liked it, and I asked his permission to share. He said yes, so here you go.
If you’re not familiar with Derek, here’s his bio:
“Derek Penwell is an author, editor, speaker, and activist. He is the senior minister of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky and a lecturer at the University of Louisville in Religious Studies and Humanities. He has a Ph.D. in humanities from the University of Louisville. He is the author of articles ranging from church history to aesthetic theory and the tragic emotions, as well as the forthcoming book from Chalice Press, The Mainliner’s Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World, about how mainline denominations can avoid despair in an emerging world. He currently edits a blog on emergence Christianity, [D]mergent.org, and blogs at his own site. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.”
Here’s his latest piece, published today on the Huffington Post:
5 Reasons Franklin Graham Is Once Again the Worst Thing to Happen to God in a While
Man, this guy never gives up. Franklin Graham seems once again to be suffering from an all too common form of fundamentalist pathology that has him spouting off hateful imprecations in the name of Jesus without the apparent filter that allows most properly socialized adults to navigate the world without a significant portion of the population thinking you’re a pestiferous twit.
You think that’s harsh? Hyperbolic? Not sufficiently deferential to the scion of the Billy Graham empire?
“Shouldn’t the son of the man who built up such good will over the years receive the benefit of the doubt?” you may be asking.
I can see how you might be feeling a bit protective. Franklin Graham is something of a shrinking violet, unused to the rugby scrum of public life. Having kept himself out of the limelight for so long now, keeping to himself, refraining from comment, it’s understandable that you might be a little sensitive when he seems under attack from the mean, vindictive bullies on the left.
If you consider Franklin Graham a prophet, a steadfast man of God only doing his duty as God’s ecclesiastical hitman, you’ll probably want to stop reading now, because the rest of this is just going to raise your blood pressure. Because Franklin Graham is at it again, stirring the pot, making life difficult for those who follow Jesus to raise their heads in public.
A casual review of his Facebook page over the past couple weeks turns up these heartwarming examples of Franklin’s public theological reticence:
1. On the Boy Scouts decision to allow Gay adults be scout leaders:More disappointing news about the Boy Scouts of America yesterday as they voted to allow gay adult leaders. 79% of their Board voted in favor of this unfathomable change–I still find it hard to believe that BSA doesn’t see the dangers in this. Why would anyone want to entrust their son to an organization that has gone this direction?
(It’s not your job to protect the dignity of people created a particular way by God. Your job is to heap as much public scorn on folks as you can muster.)
Question: Um, excuse us, but aren’t you heaping scorn on Franklin Graham right now?
Answer: The difference here is that whereas Franklin Graham (a rich, straight, white, male) sits atop his own religious media empire, immune to the slings and arrows of plebeians like me, the folks Franklin Graham regularly takes aim at are very often the people who’ve traditionally found their place at the back of the socio-politico-economic line. Trying to put a crack in the protective armor of someone that well-insulated for the purpose of calling attention to his violent and harmful dictums is an entirely different thing from carelessly humiliating those who’ve too often lived in a fragile place their whole lives. The difference, to use an unfortunate analogy: I’m punching up; Franklin Graham regularly punches down.
2. On the apocalyptic influence of MuslimsWe are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now?
Question: What would Jesus do?
Answer: Put Muslims in internment camps, apparently.
Ok, to be fair he didn’t actually say that. But boy did he tiptoe right up to the line. Does anyone honestly think that, given the power (and half a chance), Franklin Graham wouldn’t imprison Muslims–just because they’re Muslims? What would stop him? Certainly not his theology, since it’s pretty clear that Franklin believes Jesus hates pretty much everybody he hates. [Which certainty, I imagine, has God cringing every time Franklin opens his mouth. Because, let’s face it, it’s often difficult for even God to escape the advanced billing of God’s most enthusiastic (but unfortunately, enthusiastically wrong) supporters.]
3. On public civility:Ripping into each other, mocking each other, telling lies about each other and to the American people isn’t a display of leadership. You have put yourself forth as a candidate for the highest office in the land. Take the high road. All of us want to hear your ideas for the future. No one wants to hear the backbiting, petty squabbling, and negative attack ads that make a mockery out of our elections.
Wow! We’re (mostly) among friends here, right? Does anyone not see the delicious irony of this quote coming from the keyboard of Franklin Graham? One gets the impression that he wakes up every morning drafting new lists of people in his head God really shouldn’t have to be bothered with anymore. This is the guy who in practice seems to believe that the high road is simply the most strategic vantage point from which to pick off the enemies of God–or at least the challengers to Franklin’s vision of who God would have as enemies if God had the sense to ask Franklin.
4. On President Obama evangelizing on behalf of things Franklin doesn’t like:I didn’t know that we were sending our president halfway around the world to promote the gay & lesbian agenda!
Interesting that Franklin Graham is heir to a tradition, one of the primary functions of which is sending people halfway around the world to promote a variety of agendas much closer to Franklin’s heart; Christianity, for one–at least a fundamentalist version of it. Before I go any further, let me just say that I’m not against telling the story of Jesus to those who’ve never heard it. Sharing something you care about deeply with other people can be a wonderfully generous and human (not to mention, Christian) thing to do. But let’s be honest, much of the history of western Christian mission work is as much about creating Westerners (even if only inadvertently) as about sharing Jesus. All of which is to say, Franklin Graham is a part of a tradition used to sending people halfway around the world to promote agendas. The difference is that the President’s agenda calls for people to be given dignity and respect for who they are, while Franklin Graham’s agenda often leaves people feeling they’re not worthy of dignity and respect until they become like him.
5. On Christianity in the crosshairs:As Christians we’ve got to take a stand for our religious freedoms. It’s a new day in America–Christianity is in the direct line of fire
Turns out, though, Christianity isn’t in the direct line of fire, only Franklin Graham’s version of it is. If your faith commits you to treating LGBTQ people and Muslims and liberals as though God’s only use for them is populating the seedier sections of hell, then it’s going to feel like you’re in the direct line of fire; when people say you don’t get to do that if, on the other hand, you happen to be seeking to widen the embrace envisioned by the reign of God (as is a significant portion of the rest of Christianity), you will find that your faith not only isn’t in the direct line of fire, it’s often celebrated (even by those who disagree with you) as a gift to a world bent on destroying itself in the name of parochial orthodoxies.
Here’s the thing, Franklin Graham isn’t the voice of Christianity, let alone a stand in for the voice of God. In fact, much of the rest of Christianity has to work overtime because Franklin Graham invests so much energy saying things that make the rest of us who take God seriously shake our heads; which is why Franklin Graham is once again the worst thing to happen to God in a while.
Follow Derek Penwell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/reseudaimon
“Kindly Step Aside”
Photos courtesy the Internet
Kim Davis, Rowan Country Kentucky county clerk, says she “prayed and fasted” before ultimately deciding to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality.
From HuffPost Gay Voices, “Davis is facing a federal class action lawsuit brought against her by two gay couples and two straight couples after she refused to issue them marriage licenses, The Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Davis, who is reportedly an Apostolic Christian and attends church three times a week, testified July 20 in a Covington, Kentucky courtroom that she ‘sought God’ as she contemplated her options for months ahead of the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on marriage equality.”
“‘It was something I had prayed and fasted over,’ she said, according to The Lexington Herald-Leader. ‘It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.’ Issuing licenses under her name, she added, would violate her religious beliefs, even if a deputy clerk were to do so in her stead. ‘If I say they are authorized, I’m saying I agree with it, and I can’t.'”
From The New Civil Rights Movement, “Linda Summers was an Indiana county clerk who was fired in December after refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Summers, after refusing, wrote her supervisor an email requesting a religious accommodation. That request was denied and she lost her job. ‘Linda Summers,’ her lawsuit reads, ‘has a sincerely held religious belief, based upon the tenants of her faith and biblical teaching, such as Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27, I Cor. 6:9-10; and I Tim 1:9-10, that it is a sin for persons of the same sex to engage in sexual relations and, based upon Genesis 2:18-25, and other biblical authority, that persons of the same sex cannot and should not be morally or legally recognized as husband and wife, and that God will judge individual Christians, as well as the society of which they are a part, who condone or institute same sex marriages.'”
From Towleroad, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has a message for county clerks in his state: be prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or resign.
Speaking at a press conference (last) Tuesday, Beshear said “When you voluntarily decide to run for office, and you win, and you raise your hand and you take the oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States…that oath doesn’t say ‘I will uphold the parts of the Constitution that I agree with and won’t with the parts I don’t agree with.’”
“‘You can continue to have your own personal beliefs but, you’re also taking an oath to fulfill the duties prescribed by law, and if you are at that point to where your personal convictions tell you that you simply cannot fulfill your duties that you were elected to do, than obviously an honorable course to take is to resign and let someone else step-in who feels that they can fulfill those duties.'”
And finally, from Saipan, (located in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US Territory), “Mayor David M. Apatang officiated at the marriage of a Chinese lesbian couple on July 22, Wednesday, in his office, a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the nation. Although a devoted Catholic, Apatang said he believes that his religion also requires him to abide by the law of the land. ‘I cannot deny them because that’s my legal obligation to perform,’ he said, referring to the marriage of the two women.”
I tend to agree with Governor Beshear, Mayor Apatang, and dozens of other government officials who are standing on the right side of history. Even if their personal beliefs differ, they are following civil law and urging others to do so, or, if they feel that they can’t do their jobs, to step aside.
In my opinion and the opinion of many others folks like Kim Davis and Linda Summers are conveniently hiding behind their religion as a cover for their bigotry. Where does it stop? Would Davis or Summers refuse to issue a marriage license to an opposite sex couple where one had been married before and divorced? What about an interracial opposite sex couple? Isn’t that a violation of some of the same biblical texts Summers’ lawsuit has referenced? Oh, “that’s different.” I forgot.
This is going to get worse before it gets better, of that I am certain. In the meantime, taxpayers are going to be served unequally and lawsuits are going to wind their way through the courts. “Separate but equal” was found to be unconstitutional before; I’m fairly certain it will be again.
Issuing a piece of paper doesn’t mean you condone same sex marriage. It simply means you’re doing your job. If you can’t do that, like Gov. Beshear said, I’d suggest you “kindly step aside,” consider a career change, and let someone who understands the law do the job. #ItsNotOver.
I Told You It’s Not Over (Part 2)
Photo credit the Internet
As follow-up to last week’s post, my Facebook friend Thom Watson gave me permission to share one of his recent posts. He nicely sums up pretty much everything I’ve been thinking:
“I want to delve a little more into my strongly held belief that there should be no ‘accommodations’ for public servants who want to opt out of serving some segment of the public due to a personal or ‘strongly held’ religious belief. I’ve been asked, if the person can still get the service from someone else, or from a different office, why shouldn’t we provide the accommodation. Here’s why I believe such accommodations always are wrong.
- In some places, there might not be anyone else to perform the service. We already saw one county in Tennessee where the entire clerk’s office resigned. Couples — whether opposite-sex or same-sex — in that county now have to travel, at additional effort and expense, to another county. (And bonus: same-sex couples and LGBT Americans will be blamed for the inability of opposite-sex couples to get government services from their government officials.)
- We’re paying public servants with public monies to provide service to the public. If they’re no longer serving all the public, then they’re de facto not public servants, and they should no longer expect to be paid with public funds.
- When engaged in the responsibilities of a public servant, the person holding that job is acting not as a private citizen but as the government itself. Private citizens have religious beliefs; governments (at least in the U.S.) constitutionally do not and may not. Yes, we’re asking these people to do things that they may personally disagree with; that’s part of the package of accepting such a position, and we don’t generally hear of public servants refusing to issue drivers’ licenses to women (if they have a personal religious belief that women should not drive), or to refuse to give marriage licenses to the divorced (if they have a personal religious belief that the divorced may not religiously remarry), etc. I think most people would feel a visceral sense of outrage, that the Constitution were being violated, if it were suggested that a government official could just opt out of ever serving African Americans, or women, or Christians, even if someone else in the office would still provide such services; why should it not cause the same level of outrage and inherent sense of legal wrongness when the official wants to be able to opt out of serving LGBT Americans?
- Being able to get a marriage license to marry the legal adult of your choosing (assuming they’re not already married, etc.) is a fundamental right, according to the U.S.’s highest court’s interpretation of the U.S.’s highest basis of law, the Constitution. Holding a government job is not a fundamental right. When there’s a conflict between the two, then, the first should trump the second.
- We’re inflicting an additional harm — and in some ways I think it’s more serious than the actual denial or deferral of the service itself — on the member of the public whose right is denied or deferred. In addition to whatever inconvenience or costs (in dollars or time) you incur by having to wait, or to travel elsewhere, when someone else similarly situated is not similarly inconvenienced, we’re sending a message that the government considers you to be someone whose fundamental Constitutional rights are secondary to someone else’s private beliefs. We’re sending a message that the government — remember, the public servant IS the government when performing her public duties — considers you to be someone that it may consider, and to act upon that consideration, as unclean, as sinful, as unworthy of your rights.
Many people get this, especially those who, because of the color of their skin, their national origin, or their gender, or some other factor, have experienced something similar, an expectation that their fundamental rights are secondary to someone else’s private beliefs. But it just takes some basic empathy to understand it. Imagine that you show up at a government office, and you’re told that you’ll need to wait because the person on duty has a religious belief that doesn’t allow them to serve you (maybe because you’re a person of color, or you’re a woman, or you’re left-handed, or you have a tattoo, or you’re a Catholic–there are lots of things that people have found religious reasons to condemn.).
The office has put in a call to another government employee who doesn’t think you’re untouchable, or who is willing to do her job even if she does believe that you’re a monster, but in the meantime, until she gets back from lunch, or maybe even only after she’s back from vacation, other people come in, walk up to the counter in sequence, get their government business transacted, and leave, without being publicly humiliated or questioned just for asking for the same thing everyone else is getting.
Or maybe everyone at that particular office shares the same religious inability to transact official business with you, and you have to get back in your car and drive 60 miles to the next nearest government office, hoping that there will be someone there who will help you.
How might that make you feel, knowing that your government has just told you that you’re not actually equal under the law, that your inconvenience is worth someone else’s satisfaction at knowing they’ve put you in your place? How might your children feel when you try to explain to them that the government is permitted to treat them differently, because some government employees personally believe that they’re going to hell? There’s the harm inflicted by not getting the service, or not getting it as timely or without a tacit moral judgment as everyone else, but there’s an additional harm inflicted by having the government justifying those employees’ private moral judgments. There’s a personal cost when even your own government is permitted to hold and to act upon a belief that you’re sick, sinful, or subhuman, or that the majority is allowed to decide what rights you should have.
Imagine that your state decides to put it to a public vote whether or not you should be allowed to vote, or to marry, or to own property. Even if the vote fails, what might it be like to go through a year of having people debate not just your citizenship but your very humanity and your very likelihood of being condemned to eternal infinite torture (even if you don’t believe it, you can’t escape knowing that they believe it and that they think you deserve it), on radio and television, online, in signs in front yards and billboards, every single day? That might have a cost, too, don’t you think? Personally, I don’t think it’s a cost the government should — or, constitutionally, can — be endorsing, subsidizing, or accommodating.”
Thom’s absolutely right – “separate but equal” was wrong then and it’s wrong now.
Share your thoughts and let me know any future topics you’d like to see discussed.
I Told You It’s Not Over (Part 1)
Photo credit the Internet
Earlier today Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk Kim Davis was expected to be in court to argue that her faith prevents her from issuing a marriage license to two people of the same sex. Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in June. Two gay couples — and two straight couples — have sued her, asking a judge to force her to issue marriage licenses.
“I disagree with the way this was all handed down,” Davis told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “As much as the same-sex couples feel they have a right to marry, I feel the institution of marriage was ordained by God in the Bible. It’s a hard place to find yourself, especially in a situation like mine. But I have to do what I think is right for my conscience.”
In Kentucky, it’s a Class A misdemeanor — first-degree official misconduct — for elected officials to refuse to perform the duties of their office. But since Davis apparently “disagrees with the way it was all handed down” it’s OK to refuse to follow a decision that she personally doesn’t agree with. Is it just me or does anyone else have difficulty following this logic?
Let’s step back for a minute and look at the definition of “county clerk.” Merriam-Webster’s very basic definition is “an elected county official whose duties vary widely but are likely to include serving as secretary to the county board, issuing licenses, keeping records, and acting as county auditor or comptroller.” When I looked up the definition of the word “clerk” on the same website I found this: “an elected or appointed official whose job is to take care of official papers and business for a court or government.”
So let’s get this straight (no pun intended): it’s essentially an administrative position. Kim Davis (and others in similar positions) was elected or appointed to do an administrative position, to serve all citizens in their respective jurisdictions equally — even those they might personally disagree with.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear previously issued the following statement: “Our county clerks took an oath, as elected officials, to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Kentucky and to provide important duties in their communities. This oath does not dictate what our clerks must believe, but it certainly prescribes how they must act in carrying out their duties as elected officials.”
“Same-sex couples in Kentucky are now entitled to the issuance of a marriage license by every county clerk, based on Friday’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court. While there are certainly strongly held views on both sides of this issue, the fact remains that each clerk vowed to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal beliefs. I appreciate the clerks who are fulfilling their duties, issuing licenses to all couples, and I would expect others to execute the duties of their offices as prescribed by law and to issue marriage licenses to all Kentuckians.”
Governor Beshear’s statement sounds like this issue, at least in Kentucky, is relatively cut-and-dry but clearly that’s not the case. As the days go on and resistance to following the law, both in Kentucky and elsewhere, continues to escalate, I’m increasingly reminded of the 1967 ruling in Loving vs. Virginia which struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The after effects of Loving took years to get settled in the southern part of the nation and I dare say the same is likely to be the case here.
As stories like this one continue to unfold we can be sure that those in the marriage discrimination camp will continue to point fingers in our direction as being the cause of it all because of our push for what they call “special rights.”
In a July 2nd blog on the conservative website “The Patriot Post” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said “Gay activists have started picketing Davis’s office, but she refuses to resign. If the government won’t force her, the ACLU vows to. Which may be why the only people busier than state officials are U.S. attorneys. On both sides, offices have been inundated with requests for legal help. In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton has promised to find legal representation for any government official whose beliefs are under attack.”
Perkins closes this blog entry by saying “The reality is, the First Amendment has been around a lot longer than whatever ‘rights’ the Court invented June 26. And with a growing chorus of conservative leaders, Bobby Jindal is willing to go to the mat to defend them. Your state officials should too. Contact your leaders and ask them to follow in the footsteps of courageous conservatives like Governor Jindal and Ken Paxton.”
Of course everyone knows what he’s doing here — fundraising. Blatantly and unabashedly. Perkins and his cronies are cleverly hiding behind these elected officials while shamelessly using this situation to get their base to donate so they can make sure the vicious cycle continues to perpetuate itself.
Like everything else, this will play itself out in the courts, and in the media. Meanwhile those of us on the right side of history have to continue to be vigilant and keep our eyes and ears open, because as I said above, I told you it’s not over.
I’ll be back next week with part 2.
How Do We Reach Out To Those Who Don’t Want Us To?
Photo credit the Internet
We just returned from a quick visit with my side of the Chan Massey family, celebrating the 4th. We’ve made it an annual tradition to take my parents down to Charleston, S.C., where I went to college and we have historical family connections.
It never fails that “family dirt” comes up in random conversations, so it was no surprise to me to learn that about 35 years ago a “relative” (those of you who follow me will understand that when I put a word in lower case with quotations, such as I often do with “christian,” it means I don’t consider them such), when learning that one of my unmarried cousins was pregnant, said that if the same were to happen to one of his three daughters he would rather them be “dead and in the grave.” What a “christian” thing to say, right? Well guess what: it turns out that one of his unmarried granddaughters is now pregnant. That’s called karma, folks.
It’s no big secret within my immediate, and much of my extended, family that I have very little respect for this branch of the family tree and I’m pretty certain the same is true from their side. There’s also no doubt in my mind that this same “relative” isn’t terribly keen that I’m legally married to a man. I’ve no place for bigots in my life, even if the intentions are good…because you know what the road to Hell is paved with.
That said, the meme at the top of this week’s blog also started going around the Internet last week and a friend from Malaysia sent it to me and asked my thoughts. Feeling a blog post essentially creating itself I decided to do a bit of “field research,” so I posted it on my personal Facebook page.
It didn’t take long for the comments to start pouring in. 16 “Likes,” 67 comments and 12 shares later, I was certain I’d hit on a hot topic. Here are just a few of the comments folks shared on my initial post:
“I lost a friend over that one. After I tried to educate her I finally gave up. And since she is divorced and remarried three times, I asked when should we schedule her stoning? She was appalled!”
“This particular post got several family members and friends deleted from my life. It is time for the gay community to not accept any more of this homophobic bigoted b.s. If someone is not a positive attribute to your life then it is time to remove them permanently because life is too short to waste your time on them!”
And my personal favorite: “Too much text, no pics, terrible graphics…I give it a D+”
Then I saw this comment from a dear friend, the mother of a gay son, and I knew immediately that I’d done the right thing by posting it:
“Whenever you marginalize a group of people, which includes voicing an opinion that the group is somehow ‘less than’ or ‘other’ and not deserving of the same rights, you contribute to the conversation that they are different and bad. While it might seem harmless these voiced opinions can have a ripple effect, they are just one more drop in the lake of dehumanizing members of the LGBT community. This can contribute to a culture of hatred and violence against LGBT citizens. My gay son’s love is the same as that of his straight brothers. His heart feels love and pain exactly the same as yours and mine. His love is not a sin. It is not ‘other’. Instead of being so quick to voice an opinion that marginalizes an entire community of people, this particular brand of “Christian” (I am also a Christian) should strive to learn and understand about human sexuality. Sexuality is NOT just about sex. It is intrinsic to who we are as individuals, it informs who we love and want to build a life with. I believe if they opened their minds and educated themselves they would no longer want to cause pain to the LGBT community.
When I read this comment, and believe me, I read it over and over and over again, it made me think. A lot.
I opened last week’s blog post by saying “Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get back to work.” Truly, much of the work that lies ahead is outreach to folks who believe – on the molecular level – the feelings expressed by this meme, no matter how poorly designed it is.
We must reach the parents of the trans girl or boy who jumped to their death from the freeway overpass because these same parents tried to “fix” them, told them they were an abomination, convinced them they were worthless, assured them they were going to Hell if they didn’t “change their wicked ways.”
We must reach the man or woman with emotional scars so deep because when they were a kid they were bullied to a point so severe that the only reason they didn’t “pull a Sandy Hook,” as I call it, was because they didn’t have access to firearms.
And we must reach the families who tossed their LGBT child out on the street when they learned of said child’s orientation. Certainly the child is hurting, but so are the parents.
On an emotional level, of course I want to put on the boxing gloves and take them on in the ring, but in truth I know that the power of my story, our collective stories, will have much better results.
Some folks, like my aforementioned “relative,” are a lost cause and we have to accept that. Others are more willing and open to engaging in dialogue. These are the folks that we need to spend our time reaching out to.