Tag Archive: politics


So who’s heard the good news?  In a surprise move after the rider on the defense budget was struck in the Senate/House reconciliation of the bill, the House of Representatives introduced a stand-alone bill which dealt exclusively with repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  It passed the House last week and the Senate on Friday, officially ending the long-standing discriminatory policy.

But what does this mean?  For right now, the symbolism behind the act is HUGE, but the actual impact may be minimal for several more months.  There’s been a big push for a complete implementation of the policy within the first quarter of 2011 and an 80  page manual for dealing with the policy implementation has been published by the Defense Department.  These are good first steps, however, the way the repeal bill is written will slow the process for beginning implementation.

The New York Times explains: “Under the terms of the legislation that passed the Senate on Saturday and the House earlier last week, the Defense Department will not carry out the repeal until Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates , Mr. Obama and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “certify” that the military is ready to make the change. After that, the legislation requires a 60-day period before the change takes place.”

I highly recommend you read up on the language of the bill and how it handles procedural and policy decisions regarding soldiers in this same article.

Regardless of the stall in implementation, I’m incredibly thankful that we have senators courageous enough to take on this bill as a stand-alone and finally allow LGBT men and women to serve openly in the Armed Forces.

The Hate Queen Returns…sorta.

For those of you who are not familiar with the slimy, gay-hating past of Anita Bryant, here’s a quick history lesson.

Anita Bryant started out as a singer, TV personality, and the spokeswoman for Florida Orange juice.  Good for her.  Later in her career, however, she developed some strange version of a moral conscience and decided to dedicate her life to god by becoming involved with politics and headlining for the “moral majority” (an evangelical Christian campaign started by Jerry Falwell).  POINT BEING, during her crusade, in her home state of Florida, the Dade County Board of Supervisors created a law which protected the rights of LGBT people from discrimination in housing, hiring, and a variety of other areas.  Cue Anita Bryant’s outrage.  She launches a giant campaign to get this bill overturned, which she does, then goes a step further by invading California through her political network to create PROPOSITION 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative.  The Briggs Initiative would forcibly fire all LGBT teachers and make it impossible for openly gay people, or in some interpretations of the law, anyone who even supported LGBT rights, to be hired as an educator.  Prop 6 failed epically in the 1978 referendum, and Anita Bryant sunk into obscurity.  Thank god.

This lovely piece of unbiased journalism from Gossip Boy notes that Anita has resurfaced to the speakers track, albeit on a much, much lower radar to continue spreading hate.  However, to note her co-speakers and the legitimacy of the events where she will speak (which is to say, racists and homophobes; non-existent), it seems as if her hate messages are not reaching nearly as far anymore.  I’m not going to cite this article as a definitive piece of evidence to support my belief that America is slowly but surely rejecting homophobia and those who promote it, but it does put a little sparkle in the argument.  Additionally, the total shame of Anita Bryant’s legacy comes to the fore in this article, as Gossip Boy notes that there is actually A WARRANT FOR ARREST on her person in Oklahoma for writing a hot check.  Makes it hard to believe she was once the spokesperson for upstanding Christians everywhere, huh?

ALAS THE LONG AWAITED COLLEGE ARTICLE AND BIANCA HAS TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS SHE’S SO EXCITED!!!

I’ve pretty much been waiting to write this article ever since I borrowed the book “The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life” from the library in the spring of senior year (ohhh, it’s Princeton Review- spiffy, right?). http://www.amazon.com/Lesbian-Guide-College-Admissions-Guides/dp/0375766235 Seriously, the link is here- you can get it used for $4.  Just do it.  Do keep in mind though that since it was published in 2007, some of the info is a little outdated.

Let’s start with the most obvious decision- which school do I want to go to?

If you are looking to find a school with a LGBT-friendly atmosphere, consider what kind of school you are looking for: religious, private, secular, and/or public school?

Not to generalize, but private, secular schools are often have the most LGBT-friendly populations.  There are many exceptions to this rule however.

  • American University- my school; full of awesome; private and considered secular, although it was founded by Methodists whose community is still very active on the campus (they are also incredibly LGBT friendly).  American is the prime example of a super gay-friendly private school.  We have an active, loud community, a well-staffed LGBT resource center, a bunch of queer programming from our student group Queers and Allies, and so on…
  • St. Vincent’s Academy- private, religious university (Catholic); St. Vincent’s is an example of a religious school that has embraced tolerance.  They have a loud and active LGBT and ally population (my friend once told me that when a speaker began spouting homophobic remarks at a St. Vincent’s event, ¼ of the audience actually stood up and left.  The monks at the school are very supportive of LGBT students, and I believe there is a GSA or similar group
  • Penn State- a huge, public, secular university.  Penn State is big enough that any minority is bound to find a niche for themselves.  Penn State has a huge resource center, lots of queer programming, and a generally accepting population.

So yes, there are some of every kind, but you have to look closely.  A good research tool is campusclimateindex.org, which has a “Gay checklist” for LGBT-related policies and resources of many major universities.   The Advocate published a similar guide a few years back, but I take issue with their nomination process and research methods.    Nonetheless, I can confirm a few of the schools on their “20 Best-of-the-Best” as having legitimately good LGBT climates.  My approval noted with an asterisk.

  • American University******  (YAY!!)
  • Duke University
  • Indiana University***** (ALSO YAY!)
  • New York University*****
  • Oberlin College
  • Ohio State University
  • Pennsylvania State University******
  • Princeton University * (with some hesitation- their resource center is fabulous, but upon my visit, info about the student population was ambiguous)
  • Stanford University
  • Tufts University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-Santa Cruz
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Pennsylvania******  (Bisexual communities have noted some discrimination, however)
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of Southern California

Whether or not your potential school is LGBT friendly, consider the implications of the surrounding city. Bigger cities are more likely to have a resources and pro-LGBT populations, but they are also bigger hubs for hate crimes and extremism.  THERE ARE 2 SIDES TO EVERY COIN.  While Washington, DC is considered one of the most gay-friendly places in the country (next to NY and San Francisco), there was a violent LGBT student beating on the Georgetown campus only 10 minutes from where I live.  Keep this in mind.

On the positive side, big cities like LA, DC, New Orleans, Miami, San Fran, NY, etc. almost always have HUGE, beautiful PFLAG chapters (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays-http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2), Gay and Lesbian Community Centers, and counseling, health, and aid organizations designed specifically for your needs.

So once you’ve decided on a school, the real research begins.   One of the best things you can do is find out what program and resources are available for you at your school.

Like high school GSA’s, colleges have support programs too.  At American, we have the Rainbow Speakers Bureau, which allows LGBT students to give presentations in classrooms at dorm floor meetings about LGBT identity and issues.  We also have a group called Queers and Allies, although many schools have a similar student groups known as Spectrum or Pride. This site, http://www.glbtstudentpride.com/United%20States%20Colleges/unitedstates.htm has a GREAT database of student associates for most US colleges.  If you are going to a college that is known to be less LGBT friendly, I would highly recommend checking if there is a safe-space program, which trains students and faculty to be mediators and host “safe spaces” for students who are being bullied or harassed on campus.  http://www.equal.org/safespace.html This website explains the program in more detail.

The next big decision is How Out Do You Want To Be?

Are you telling your roommate, your friends, your teachers, your academic advisors?  Are you comfortable with getting into a relationship, with having a random hookup, with casually dating, with walking down the street holding hands and BEING GAY?  Are you ok going to LGBT events, and if so, will you need to pose as an ally, or will you be comfortable with the tacit assumption by attendees that you “might be gay?”  These are questions you DEFINITELY need to answer before heading off.

Part and parcel with this question is Where Do You Want To Live?

Some colleges offer gender neutral housing or queer-themed learning community floors. These can be especially useful for transgender or transitioning college kids, who need the privacy of an independent bathroom or appreciate the lack of pressure in gender-neutral showers and rooms.  Keep in mind that in religious institutions, this may not be an option.  A special note****- if you attend a school that segregates dorm floors or buildings by gender, find out if you will be allowed to house in a dorm that matches your gender identity- this will definitely require a special call (probably several) to the school.

Also, make sure that the gender on your ID does not cause problems.  Because most colleges (even progressive ones like Indiana and American U.) still identity students using a gender binary, it is important that the school knows if you are currently transitioning and what that means for your life on campus, including housing, advisor placement, and health center plans.  I wish I had resources for this and I HATE that I don’t, but I will keep you posted.  The Guide I recommended at the beginning of this post has a few fabulous chapters on trans issues and several websites- so CHECK IT OUT.

If you are living in a double or triple (as most 1st year students will), think about how you will negotiate questions of guest policies and girlfriends/boyfriends.  Hopefully, the issue of sexuality will not affect these, but its better to come in with EYES OPEN and make allowances for what makes your new roommate comfortable.

Like other students, you must consider What Will I Do About Medical Care?

For LGB students, this is less of an issue.  In addition to a student health center that will usually meet all your needs (including requests for a same or opposite-gender physician or nurse), there are lots of city clinics that offer sliding-scale payment options for LGB people and specific health issues.  For transgender and especially transitioning transsexuals, health questions are a lot more complex and tricky.  If you are getting hormone therapy, you absolutely need to figure out how those treatments will continue in your new city.  I highly recommend extending your college visits and looking for a primary care provider before committing to any university.  Even if you aren’t getting therapy, but are living transgendered, make sure to find a provider who understands your medical and psychological needs, because the last thing you want during the stress of finals week is a doctor telling you that “if you just dressed like a normal girl, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

And once you’re finally settled into your life, got your stuff unpacked, and start LIVING, you have to figure this one out: What Do I Want To Learn?

Well, obviously, if you’re reading this, you’re either a really good friend of mine, or you are already curious about sexuality studies.  If you play your cards right at university, you can often find classes that mesh with that interest.  A few select universities (but growing numbers!) offer a Queer Studies or Women and Gender Studies Major, which

focuses on the intersections of gender identity, sexuality, sexual development, and attraction across history and cultures.  It’s pretty cool.  But even if you don’t want to commit to this major, there are usually classes (mostly in anthropology and psychology disciplines) which have queer focuses.  And if you get lucky enough to have a gay

teacher, they’ll often slip some queer material into their lesson plans as applicable.  ((I had an amazing Lit. teacher,

Prof. Brideoake, who did a fantastic unit on Nella Larsen’s Passing while focusing some discussions on the sexual tension between the main characters Irene and Claire.  These references are very subtle and nuanced, and I would highly recommend the book!))

Finally, you have to ask yourself, How Politically-Active Do I Want To Be?

College campuses are often intensely political affairs.  There are organizations for every political agenda in the world, and you, as a student, have the opportunity to play a large part in them.  So do you want to be visibly involved in politics?  Want to march in the National Equality March?  Want to volunteer for phone banks to help fight anti-gay legislation?  These opportunities will probably be available to you, and if they aren’t, you have the opportunity (and often, if you look in the right places, the college funding) to create them!

TO SUM UP:

  • Find a college environment that fits you: city/rural, religious/secular
  • Check campusclimateindex.org to see the policies and resources available to you
  • Make medical and housing arrangements that suit your needs as an LGBT student
  • Take advantage of queer course offerings and political involvement opportunities
  • Get in on student groups and activities
    • American University recently hosted an S&M 101 workshop, which is great for LGBT teens and their straight friends alike!  Also, dialogue groups like the SpeakOUT program are amazing for discussing problems and ideas related to the LGBT community
    • Go out into the city!  Take advantage of the health clinics, clubs, social organizations, etc. that your new city offers
    • GET A NEW START.  New city, new friends, new staff, new life.  If you want it, you can try it here.

Good luck, queer kids!

Ireland ala Gays

Just a quick news post for you guys today:  Ireland just voted to approve same-sex civil partnerships.  Whoot!  Equality for the Irish.  It still has to be approved by President Mary McAleese, but her acceptance of the bill is pretty much seen as a forgone conclusion. If you’d like the full story, check it out here: http://www.gcn.ie/feature.aspx?sectionid=14&articleid=2775

In other news, antibodies found in Donor 45- an older African American man being treated for HIV- have been noted to disable a large portion of the active strains of HIV.  When combined with one of the current antibodies in marketed anti-retroviral drugs, these two antibodies are able to combat 91% of all known HIV strains.  Scientists have a long road to travel in getting this antibody into vaccine form, but if they can do it, it could mean an incredible reduction in the number of transmissions and diagnoses of AIDS.  For the whole scientific spiel, check out the Wall Street Journal article.

Stay queer, kids.

The Politics of Pride

This past month, cities and towns around the world have been celebrating LGBT freedom of expression and visibility with Pride Festivals and parades.  These explosions of rainbow have become known for their highly commercial influence and focus.   See: rainbow beads, queer stickers, LGBT wine and porn companies, et. al.

The presence of these commercial companies has a distinctly positive flavor to it in a capitalism-driven world: they indicate the growing importance and relevance of the queer demographic in marketing and product creation.  In other words, we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re loaded- so give us something worth buying.  Now a lot of people would argue that having gained sufficient mass and visibility to be targeted by advertisers is not an amazing feat, but it does show that society has progressed to the point where a company aligning itself with a queer audience is actually a smart business move.  That is, as opposed to, you know, social and commercial suicide ala straight people boycotts and whatnot that would have been prevalent 50 years ago.

So this can really be an excellent thing.  The targeting of LGBT audiences can be especially beneficial to traditionally queer-negative industries, like (if I can make this broad, sweeping generalization) the porn and fashion spheres.  (Rodeo Drive needs a genderqueer clothing influx, baby!)  As gays become more and more of a marketable demographic, you will be begin to see more lesbian porn, queer-oriented sex toys, androgynous clothing choices, and the like.  I mean, can you imagine if JC Penny sold chest binders for transgender men?  How excellent! Point being, the more queers buy, the more queer items that will become available, making it easier and easier to live the kind of lifestyle you are accustomed to.

HOWEVER (and it’s a BIG however…), the negative side of Pride’s commercial complex is the reduction of political content to the celebrations.  Pride parades began as protests- in 1969, thousands of LGBT citizens and allies marched on Washington and New York City in reaction to the arrests and subsequent police violence at the Stonewall Club in New York.  Throughout the decades of their evolution, Pride Parades have always maintained strong and profound political messages, demanding social and legal equality for all LGBT people.

In this new decade of Pride, political issues like gay marriage, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, employment discrimination, and adoption rights have faded to quiet murmurs in the background of the celebration.  They are instead replaced with dancing drag queens and Mardi gras beads.   Now there is a place for both drag queens and plastic beads, but when the celebration of the right to party overshadows the political struggles still occurring in society, have we misplaced our emphasis?

Consider one step further: the global LGBT scene.  Pride Fests abroad often consist of a few brave citizens standing with “Equality Now” signs in their central squares and face police violence as well as death threats, rapes, and/or beatings from the general public.  A group of LGBT people and allies in Sri Lanka were not even able to assemble formally for fear of arrest, so instead they protested silently by flying rainbow kites on a nearby beach- a commonplace activity in that area.  If people around the world are willing to put their lives in danger to fight for the basic humanity and public decency that we take for granted, don’t we as free Americans have an obligation to honor them and inspire our own action?  Or should we sit back and enjoy our own success?

Oh my, there’s so much more to say on the issue of Pride, but I won’t put that on you now.  But if you’re interested in the evolution of Pride celebrations and their forms and focus abroad, check out Beyond Gay: the Politics of Pride. Trailer here: http://biggaymovie.com/films/beyond-gay/trailer/

Also, my favorite site of all time, Carnal Nation, wrote a rolly-polly rambly piece about similar issues of action vs. inaction/party vs. politics Pride Parade conflicts.  Check it out: http://carnalnation.com/content/57421/1064/so-isnt-pride-sin.  Actually, check out the whole site, because it’s amazing.  I’m sure I’ll be citing it again soon.

Stay cool, queer kids.

Good morning Queer kids,

There is a LOT going on in the Rainbow world this week.  First on the docket, Prime Minister of Iceland, Johanna Sigurdardottir, married her partner on Sunday after a unanimous vote by the Icelandic Parliament to legalize gay marriage. Yay!

Johanna, now 68, has been legally bonded to her partner since 2002 in a civil union, but the couple filed for a “marriage upgrade” once the bill legalizing gay marriage passed through congress.  This makes Johanna not only the first openly gay head of state, but certainly the only MARRIED gay head of state.  Congratulations.  The article on the vote in Congress, which is rather remarkable, is

here: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65A3V020100611

In other news, the Supreme Court voted to uphold university non-discrimination clauses in the case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.  In this case, the Christian Legal Society brought charges against California’s Hastings College of the Law because the college would not grant recognition to their student group on campus.  Hasting’s College claimed that the Law Society violated the college’s anti-discrimination policy by requiring its members to sign a statement of faith, which included language about “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle” as being inconsistent with that faith.  This clause is considered discriminatory against LGBT students and their allies on the Hasting’s campus, and thus, the group is not allowed to meet officially under the sanction of the University.

The Christian Legal Society brought its case to the Court claiming that its rights to freedom of assembly and expression were being violated; the Supreme Court, however, ruled 5 to 4 that they were not.
The full article from the San Francisco chronicle is here, including direct quotes from the majority decision and minority dissents: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?

f=/n/a/2010/06/28/national/w074528D65.DTL&tsp=1#ixzz0sFjLuxNJ

This court case echoes a parallel decision made in Grove City College v. Bell back in 1984 which affirmed that colleges practicing discrimination in their acceptance of student applicants could not receive government funds.  The decision derives from Title XI  of the Education for All Act:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”


Grove City College is one of over 20 schools in the US that practices out-and-out discrimination against LGBT students, who can be kicked out of the institution if they are found to be engaged in homosexual behavior- even simply kissing or holding hands with a member of the same sex- or promoting acceptance of that behavior.  Thus, Grove City students cannot receive Pell Grants or Stafford Loans, and the College itself does not accept any government funding.

Although Grove City will not change its incredibly stringent policies any time soon, both the Grove City v. Bell case and CLS v. Martinez show a trend from the Supreme Court of supporting LGBT students and protecting their rights on campus.

If anyone is interested in further information on colleges which prohibit homosexual behavior, I would HIGHLY recommend the movie Equality U, which aired on Logo several years ago, and is available on their website, here:  http://www.logotv.com/video/equality-u/1602603/playlist.jhtml This movie is absolutely BRILLIANT- it chronicles the work of the Equality Riders, a group of college-aged Christian students who visited schools across the country which have LGBT discrimination policies in place and tries to engage in dialogue with them.  The courage of the students on those campuses is what truly makes this film worth watching.

For those of you who haven’t heard, the vote on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is rapidly approaching.   Here’s a quick history and policy update:

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was implemented during the Clinton years as a political compromise to allowing LGBT Americans to serve in the Armed Forces.  Previous to the policy, service member applicants had to openly declare their sexuality in order to joined the armed forces (and obviously, gays were excluded from eligibility).  Clinton ran a campaign promising full acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military but recieved major political backlash during his term in office and a promise from Congress that such an executive order would never go through.

Instead, Clinton offered an alternative- to allow gay servicemen and women to participate in the military as long as they did not publicly disclose their LGBT identity.  The US military is the only branch of government that maintains a discriminatory policy against gays and lesbians.

Mercifully, repealing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is not a one-shot decision.  The amendment is attached as a rider to the Military Spending Budget for this year, so if the budget passes, so does the amendment.  However, there is the potential for either chamber of congress to call a vote to remove the amendment with the clause about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell- which, if it passes, another vote would then be taken to approve the budget without the amendment.  If the DADT amendment (or any amendment, for that matter) is stricken from the bill, however, the entire budget must be returned to the other chamber of congress for re-approval.

So LGBT supporters have two things to keep them positive- one, repealing the policy is an amendment, rather than a seperate bill, which is attached to a crucial buget.  This is wonderful because budgets are often heavily compromised-upon documents, and removing an amendment could upset the political balance which allows it to pass.  Thus, it is dangerous politically to suggest removing an amendment for  fear of bringing attention to your opposition’s less-desirable components of the bill.  Two, because the bill is so important to get through efficiently (it does, after all, control the spending for the entire US military), Congress will not want to repeat the time-consuming process of reconciling two different versions of the budget bill.

If you’d like a little more information, CNN did a decent cover on the upcoming vote and the political controversy surrounding it:  http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/living/2010/06/24/obrien.dadt.whats.next.cnn.

Your thoughts?  Any potential military recruits out there?  How will this effect your future?  If the bill (god forbid), does not pass, would you still offer your services to the US military?

Also, this offers a great segway for my next post, which will be about living closeted.  Give me feedback, dahlings.

Alright queer kids, it’s official blog time!

I’d like first to thank everyone who gave encouragement to this project and who have submitted comments or ideas about content.  Following their suggestions, the first blog of Forever the Queerest Kids will be…. A congressional watch!

In December, New York joined 31 other states by shooting down legislation which would have legalized same sex marriages.  The vote, which came out at 38 to 24 against gay marriage, is nothing remarkable.  But the proceedings did bring to the forefront an outspoken LGBT-positive senator Diane Savino, whose speech on the senate flood I have included below.

If you’re looking for a breakdown of where same-sex marriages are legal, I’ve got that too.

http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=15576

Here are the highlights:

  • The District of Columbia passed a law legalizing marriages on December 15th, 2009, although it did not begin to take effect until early March of this year
  • In California, gay marriages were legalized under a Supreme Court ruling in 2008 (by  striking down an earlier CA law prohibiting them).  HOWEVER, the infamous Proposition 8 referendum which passed during the 2009 election made them illegal once again.  The Supreme Court has just heard closing arguments on June 16th for the challenge to Prop 8’s legislation in the trial Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however it is unclear when a verdict will be delivered
  • Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont are holding strong to their commitments and all allow same-sex marriages
  • Maine, unfortunately, was subject to a California-like referendum during their senatorial elections and Proposition 1 made gay marriages illegal once again

Now for the editorializing.  My question- which has been posed by queer historians, critical theorists, and everyday citizens alike- is this: why do we need the state to legitimize our relationships?

The two primary arguments are-

1. It validates the love and commitment that gay couples express and shows that LGBT are inherently equal to straight people and deserve equal rights.

2.  Marriage offers legal protections like adoption rights, hospital visitation rights, and social security benefits that all couples are due.

Now I agree with both of these, so let me address them in turn.  I believe (and I think most people do) that it is exceptionally important for a legal rights like inheritance, medical benefits, insurance, and hospital visitation to be protected, and under the current US statutes, they are most certainly not.  If you’d like to learn more about the different rights denied to same sex couples, I highly recommend equalitymatters.org and check out there 1138 reasons Equality Matters.  HOWEVER, the interesting paradox I find is in those people who use the legal rights argument, but who are opposed to civil partnerships/unions.  Speaking from a purely theoretical perspective (as many civil partnership bills have been poorly crafted and strip away as many rights as they afford), civil partnerships should provide all the same benefits of marriage, only under a different name.

This of course, loops to the second argument for gay marriage: namely that separate but equal is an inherently discriminatory standard and undermines the legitimacy of gay relationships.  Once again, I affirm.  Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case which legalized racial segregation, was overturned for its inherent discrimination, and legal distinctions between gay and straight marriages should follow suit.

However, I disagree with the argument that a different name for gay marriage somehow undermines its importance and legitimacy.  Shakespeare wrote in his timeless classic Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.”  I stand with the bard regarding petty distinctions and categorizations of marriage.  As long as the person I care for is protected, they can call our union cow dung.

As for the second keystone argument for marriage, I will take a slightly differential tone.  While there is some legal validity in a law or court case which says, “Yes, you are equal and in your right to be married,” the idea of putting my relationship on trial before the masses of society is not any kind of social validation, but rather degrading instead.  A pro-equality group in Ireland made this touching video expressing this sentiment:

In terms of love, commitment, and validation, I don’t think the act of marriage proves anything.  I have been in a relationship with a magnificent woman for the past 9 months, and though we’ve spoken about marriage (which is legal where we live in DC), it is not a high priority.  I have all the assurance I need about her commitment to our relationship, and it has nothing to do with a ring on my finger, a license from the Marriage Bureau, or a ceremony with flowers and cake.

The day before my girlfriend left for her intensive language program in Vermont (which enforces an honor code where she cannot speak in English for the duration of the program except in very strict, exceptional situations), we spoke at length about the future and our plans for life.  There have been financial troubles in my family lately, but she told me, in no uncertain terms, that she would do all she could- emotional, financially, and spiritually- to help me achieve my dreams.  She said that what she truly wanted was for both of us to go after the experiences in life that matter, even if it separated us for a time.  And she wanted to be able to make those experiences possible for us.

My girlfriend has made a commitment to living her life with me, financially assisting in sending me away from her to do aid work on the dark and not-entirely-safe continent of Africa, and emotionally supporting whatever I want to do with my life.  All this after only knowing her for the course of an academic year.  What in the world do I need a marriage certificate to tell me?

But every relationship is different, and I have the luxury of living in DC and being able to choose whether or not to marry.  So what are your thoughts?  Marriage, civil unions, social legitimacy?  What have your relationships taught you?  What are your thoughts politically?

And most importantly, what else do you want to hear about?  As it comes closer to time for college, I’ll be putting the spotlight on some youth organizations that may have chapters in your area.  If you are going somewhere that you’d like specific information about, leave me a comment, and I’ll collect some resources for your school or city.

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