Sunday, June 30, 2013

Zombie Apocalypse: The Lifestyle

I should be sleeping with one eye open, just think about how sharp those little teeth would be.

ETA: Credit where credit is due, all body modification was at LB's own hand.  I don't dress my child up as a zombie, I just take pictures when it happens.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What the Other Side Says

The conservative Catholic publication, The Remnant, offers this analysis.  Synopsis: Blame Justice Kennedy because he is a REALLY REALLY bad Catholic and the Church should punish him.

From conservative Catholic mom Kendra at Catholic All Year, "An open letter to my facebook friends" is here.  Synopsis: I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but you (my Catholic friends) need to love the sinner a little less and hate the sin a little more.

A statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints here. Synopsis: SCOTUS hates democracy, and traditional marriage today, traditional marriage tomorrow, traditional marriage forever.

From the Family Research Council: FAQs on the re-definination of marriage here, and a roundup of FRC press statements here.  Synopsis: Public opinion will now turn against gay marriage, as Americans  observe the devastating consequences of gay marriage (specific examples TBA).

National Organization for Marriage: "What you can do today to help save marriage" is here.  Synopsis: We didn't totally lose and now we're taking it to the people with our quixotic drive for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Concerned Women of America responds here.  The money quote (and writing that makes me chortle like a 14-year-old boy): "Five Justices of the Supreme Court have just compromised the entire initiative process with this decision."

Analysis from MASSResistance here, with a particularly interesting section towards the end titled "How the pro-family movement botched these cases." Synopsis: The "pro-family movement" needs to take the gloves off and stop pretending they are cool with gay people and shit.

From Southern Baptist Russell Moore here. Synopsis: We are all sinners in the hands of an angry God, and if God is angry at the gays, don't worry he's also angry at you.

Pinterest board for Marriage: One Man One Woman Only! here.  Findings: for as much as conservatives seem to love pinterest, the anti-gay marriage pins seems sadly lacking.

And, of course, there is Call2Fall, an organization asking Christians to beg God's forgiveness for sin-y stuff (I'm not quite sure).  I'm just going to let the graphic do the talking (you should really check it out) here.

In my personal conservative blog watch, I've observed that the conservative chatter specifically about/against gay marriage has declined a lot since 2007 and the 2nd Bush election.  Some anti-gay marriage folks are really wrestling to reconcile their religious teachings with compassion for the actual gay people they know.  I would characterize the people who are posting in this vein as "the crisis of the compassionate conservative."

Other people who aren't posting publicly don't wish to appear publicly mean-spirited by expressing their beliefs, and some don't wish to open themselves up to public mocking, ridicule, or accusations.  Examples from The Loveliest Hour, C. Jane Kendrick, and an older post from the Prop 8 fight by Elizabeth Esther.

A particularly interesting subset of people are those who are now rejecting "government marriage" and instead pursuing only religious "covenant marriage," but I'm leaving that discussion for another day.

Friday, June 28, 2013

HomOsexuals on Voting Rights

First some camp:

From Black Girl Dangerous, "Calling in a Queer Debt" here.

Joint press release from a bunch of LGBT advocacy groups in support of voting rights here.

 A report from Transgender Equality on voting discrimination issues for trans people here.

 From the ACLU, "Voter Suppression is an LGBT Issue," here, and some broader analysis from the ACLU about why voter protections are still needed here.

 From the Center for American Progress, "Voter Suppression 101" here. And finally, from The Atlantic, "Why Progressives are still worried about voter suppression," here.

And a VIMEO video from New Southerners on the Ground (SONG) about the importance of organizing across categories.


 To recap: democratic societies must not only allow, but also encourage their citizenry to vote.  Voter suppression has a direct and negative effect on progressive politics.  Voter suppression hurts people of color, particularly poor people and elderly people, regardless of their sexual/gender orientation.  Voter suppression hurts trans people of all races and colors.

Now on to writing to my legislators.  It's great to live in a liberal state, but it makes it harder to motivate to write letters when I know my legislators will vote for the things I believe in even if I don't contact them, oh the burdens of representative democracy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Dance with the one who brought you"

When I got my hair done today, the salon was abuzz...with discussion of the murder charges against Pats player Aaron Hernandez.

Everyone else in my world was on SCOTUS Watch, and B, LB, and I all went down for the little celebration rally they held in Providence.  Personally, we are among the clear winners in today's decision along with other married gay couples in states that have gay marriage, gay military families, and gay federal workers.  Other gays are wading through the state-specific morass, and the answers to their questions are likely to be negative, or at least unclear, for a long time to come.

And then there are the other decisions.  Not such great times for voting rights, racial diversity on campus, the rights of employees.  Until today, I spent my SCOTUS Watch saying, "it could have been worse?"

The title to this post is a quote from a very smart friend of mine (and Shania Twain), in reference to this video of John Lewis speaking in support of gay marriage in 1996.

One of the surprising victories of the recent gay marriage fights at the state level has been the success of progressive coalition politics.  A wide range of progressive activists came together to fight for gay marriage because that fight is tied to a broader vision of a nation that values equality, toleration, and the protection of minority groups.  If gay issues are going to matter to straight people of diverse races, religions, classes, and regions, then racial equality and workers (just to name a couple) need to matter to gay people.  And since I'm likely preaching to the choir, consider this a note to self to keep me honest.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Through the mansions of fear/ Through the mansions of pain"

Some twenty years ago, when I was still a sweet young thing, I read Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line at the Copley Square branch of the Boston Public Library.  Rivethead is Ben Hamper's memoir of working on a GM assembly line as American car manufacturing died.  From what I remember of the book, Hamper makes it compelling because no one looks good.  This story isn't about the triumph, or even downfall, of the working man.  Instead it's a story of the distrust, bitterness, and sloth that comes with economic decline.

I've been thinking about that book lately as I consider my structural place in an economy that doesn't want to pay for the skills I've got.

With LB, I've been reading a lot about work in the form of Katy and the Big Snow.  Cities that work, where everyone has a job, imagine that.  I've been trying to introduce my Lois Lenski's to LB, but so far nothing has caught her fancy.

I loved these books as a kid, and I find it sad that she seems to have fallen out of favor (and print).  You would think Lenski would fit right in with the contemporary problem novel.  Maybe it's too clear in her books that the problem is capitalism?  Or maybe her characters deal too well with their problems?  In any case, I really want a copy of Shoo Fly Girl to replace the one I had as a kid.

My attempts at Lenski indoctrination may be unsuccessful, but we did take LB on a field trip to Slater Mill (first water-powered cotton textile mill in America), where we learned a lot about child labor and the Rhode Island System of industrial labor (hire the family and get the kids for cheap).  Maybe life an an unemployed intellectual isn't so bad after all.

LB was most impressed by the river that once powered the mill, and least impressed by the loud, creaky, underground water wheel: "No like it! No like it! No wheel, no!"

Luckily the machinery was so loud that no one could hear a child scream-I'm sure that's what they said back in the day too.

Monday, June 24, 2013


If you're anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, and you haven't checked out SCOTUS Blog, you should definitely take a look.  You can find SCOTUS Blog here.  They usually start live blogging at 9:00am on decision days, and they will be doing so tomorrow (Tuesday, June 25).  They have a great live blog, which makes a weirdly addictive clicking noise every time that it updates.  They also take reader questions and provide both law-speak and regular-people explanations of the decisions.

And here you can find some analysis from The Onion, and here a for real LGBTQ response to today's voting rights ruling.

Shut the Door!

"Shut the door, Mama!" is what LB tells me when she wants me to close the laptop and engage in actual human interaction.  This weekend the door was shut much of the time.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Affordable Care Act and Me

This morning found me sweating and shaking on my front porch as I opened the envelope from MD Unemployment.  Thankfully the skinny envelope/thick envelope laws did not hold, and my skinny envelope held an APPROVAL!  Thank you safety net, thank you nanny state, please feel free to peek at my metadata as long as you keep those debit card payments coming.

The payments, less taxes, should be enough to keep LB in daycare*, and both me and LB in healthcare, perhaps with enough left over for a bag of groceries.  The health insurance is really the problem for us.  We can just about make it on B's salary, but add in $790/month for COBRA and the numbers stop making sense.  We Americans are a peculiar people.  Who would design a system where an adult making a salary could have very good insurance for one adult and one child for about $120/month, but an adult making $0 needs to pay $790/month for the same benefits?

As a middle aged asthmatic with an unmasked cardiac risk (thanks preeclampsia) and a 1/2 million dollar baby there aren't many good choices.  I've applied for our state subsidized insurance for both of us.  We'll only qualify if there's a "your marriage doesn't really exist" loophole.  I respect people who wouldn't take benefits only gotten through an anti-gay loophole (what was that they said in Women's Studies class about the master's tools and the master's house?), but my inherent cheapness would make me happy to stick it to the man by exploiting a loophole.  If that plan doesn't pan out, I'll be waiting anxiously for the final pieces of the ACA to kick in on October 1, 2013.

RI is definitely working on the state insurance exchange, but there isn't much specific information.  Information from the Governor's office is here.  In the few examples with actual dollar amounts, the subsidies are significant, but the actual cost is crazy high, making the cost with subsidy really pretty high.  Sigh.  I need a job...

* I used to wonder about people who were unemployed and still had their kids in daycare, but now it makes perfect sense.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"She Loves Me Like Jesus Does"

is my least favorite song in heavy rotation on country radio right now.  Crappy songs are bad enough, without crappy songs that make you spend way too much time pondering what it would be like if you life partner "loved you like Jesus."  Isn't Jesus all about the agape love, not the carnal love?

Could I suggest instead

B's been on a work trip since Tuesday, which means that my interactions with adult human beings have been limited to "Could I please have a large Deluxe with everything," and "How did she do today?"  Just me and the radio here.

I tried to distract myself from some super-productive cover letter writing with SCOTUS Blog, but the SC didn't release any of the exciting decisions today (next Monday at 10:00am, it's on!).

So as I wait, I've been trying to figure out what's happening on the ground with anti-gay (or anti gay sexual acts, if you prefer) attitudes.

The hard edge of anti-gay thought and strategy can be found on this list put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  These groups, NOM for example, increasingly seem to have trouble translating their arguments for a mainstream audience.  SPLC also finds that LGBT people form the group most likely to be targeted in hate crimes.

The rhetoric of MASS Resistance (homosexuals will indoctrinate your children in school) played well in the first gay marriage popular vote in Maine, but I saw little of those arguments in the second Maine campaign and the Rhode Island state house fight.  Although there will always be a whiff of Anita Bryant in the "Homosexuals!  And children!" arguments, overall that strategy seems to have shifted from "sex perverts!" to "religious freedom!" and "tradition!" You can find some real analysis here.  Broadly it seems that as gay folks have moved from a strategy of talking broadly about rights to a strategy that focuses on actual gay people, the anti folks have moved away from talking about actual (perverted) people and towards talking about broad principles of religious liberty.  The reason for those respective shifts is a big one, a majority of Americans feel some sort of sympathy for actual LG(BT? because I'm not sure if the sympathy really extends to the B and T)people, so says Pew, therefore it makes sense for pro-gay folk to stress gay=person and for anti-gay folks to focus on themes other than actual people.

On the many conservative Christian blogs that I read, there is not much discussion of gay issues or gay marriage, particularly compared with the issue of abortion, which is often discussed.  For people who are morally opposed to abortion, there is a clear (innocent) victim.  In contrast, who is the victim of a person walking through life with a gay identity?  Perhaps the gay person himself, but then how is a gay person different from any other sinner?  So what's a person who thinks gay sex is immoral, but doesn't want to persecute gay people, to do?  Our friends at Focus on the Family say "invite them over for dinner." Interesting.

The issue is likely most simple for conservative Catholics.  The Catholic Church has a long theological and cultural tradition of celibacy.  This fact means that conservative Catholics can offer their gay brethren an established path to a legitimate place in society, if those brethren are willing to be celibate.  This is an interesting gay, Catholic, celibate blog.  And some pieces by conservative, straight, Catholics trying to work it out can be found here and here.  Conservative Protestants and Mormons sometimes also espouse celibacy for gay (or "same sex attracted") people, but it's clearly a more marginal status within those religions, and, thus, the phenomenon of the "mixed-orientation marriage."  I know they don't want my pity, but, damn, that seems hard.

So much more to say, but daycare pickup calls..

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"LB has two dads!"

Or so she told me confidently while reading Todd Parr's The Family Book.  Last week, daycare asked me what they should do about Father's Day cards (card for granddad or gramps), and this week they read books about dads and granddads, so I'm assuming that's where the two dads came from-or maybe LB's been sneaking downstairs for some late night reruns of My Two Dads on our new cable.

Last year we bought LB her first pair of real shoes and encountered the oppressive world of toddler gender norms.  This year, our sales associate was a busy gayboy in a tie who expressed no concerns about our sartorial choices, probably he was thinking about who he was going to meet up with at Pride after his shift ended.  The choices were unfortunate.  LB lobbied for a pair of blister inducing hard leather slippers with a poofy flower on the toe-no.  I was hoping for some a sturdy, closed-toe, sandal in a neutral color.  Apparently that shoe does not exist-this isn't Europe ya'll!  So, B was the winner by default, picking a pair of red, white, and blue Pumas.  They are cute, will clash with everything, and, so far, LB refuses to wear them despite our insistence that they are "kittycat shoes."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Now with more COX

Cox Cable that is.  Despite our current financial situation, they made us a deal we couldn't refuse, what with the money we won't spend on Hulu Plus, or episodes of Mad Men on itunes, or B watching baseball in bars.  And now B can cross "having NESN" off her bucket list, and how often does that happen?

When did they stop showing the hometown team's games on network tv?  Even though I'm not really a sports person, it's clearly a sign of the breakdown of civil society leading inexorably to big government peaking at our intimate metadata.  It seems like New Englanders would have been outraged when the Red Sox moved to NESN, but no one I've asked seems to understand what I'm talking about. But, they also don't care that Dunkin' Donuts killed the donut as an American culinary form, so what can you expect.

Hopefully I'll soon be drowning my sorrows over baseball widowhood with a Duggar mega marathon.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

This is all I've got

The crib has become a big girl bed, and we'll see how it goes.  Once upon a time I was pretty sure I wouldn't want my child to be the last one drinking from a bottle, and sleeping in a crib, and wearing diapers.  Now it doesn't seem like such a big deal.  The child is who she is.

This is the second day in a row that LB has played quietly behind the couch and then emerged covered in marker.  It's never too young to embrace body modification my child.

In other news I have applied for unemployment (fingers crossed as my recent employment status was "it's complicated"), I tried to read The Happiness Project, but couldn't get through it (it's not that it's a bad book, but I think it would be more fun to go back in time and read her blog), I'm trying to use up 10lb of Vidalia onions (I would love some really good beef stock right about now), and having eaten over three lbs of G.H. Cretors Chicago Mix popcorn we still have another 3lbs-trying to exert some self-control, trying.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Good speech visit.  ST was impressed by LB's increased articulation, but we're not really sure how or why that happened.  LB wowed with her sorting and stacking skills, even though she didn't like this week's toys as much as last week's.

I loved this article "Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Boxes," from the BBC Magazine.  Scroll down to see a picture of the contents of the box Finnish families receive for baby.  There's also an interesting sidebar about Finnish babies napping outside in the winter.

Amazon is getting into the grocery business, read here.  I'm a little leery of trusting Amazon to be the company store for the whole country, but I think expanded  home deliver of groceries could be a good thing.  Thinking about the food desert issue historically, one of the things that has changed for people is that as cars became more ubiquitous, groceries stopped coming to people.  There must be some kind of efficiency involved in one truck brining food to people? Maybe?

Some 1970s nostalgia-"Brothers and Sisters" from the Free to Be You and Me album.  The first three minutes is kids chatting with Marlo Thomas, then comes the fabulous singing, dancing, and costuming.

The review of Water in the Park, a kid's book by Emily Jenkins in this past Sunday's NYtimes, made me want to buy it.  Austerity sucks!

I have decreed that this will be the Summer of Soup, so if anyone has any good recipes, I love to hear them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Year of the Gayby

It's been a pretty good year to be a gay person and a gay parent.

Gayby with bear.

For us, gay marriage is now available in our former home city and our current home city.  Gay folks are getting a lot of public support from our straight allies (thank you Mr. President).  We're watching the Supreme Court with a not unhopeful eye. The Boy Scouts have acknowledged that gay kids are people worthy of inclusion, even if they think gay adults are sketchy pervs.  Cue rainbow-hued unicorns gamboling through fields of non-GMO wildflowers...

So what's not to like.  Sadly for me, much of my professional training was dedicated to the following statement: "Never trust a narrative of progress."  By which I mean, if you were living in the cosmopolitan, multicultural paradise of Sarajevo in 1989, life was good, and if there were some hints of danger, really, what could go wrong in such a place?  By 1992 Sarajevans found out.  History is replete with similar examples.  But my point isn't to get all apocalyptic on you, or even to sell you hand knitted go-bags made from sustainable yak fur now available in my etsy shop (jk!).

My point is that we still have a long road ahead and its obstacles are unequally distributed.  As a queer lefty, I've heard a fair amount of talk that gay marriage only serves the gay elite.  Even though I have my own ideological issues with marriage, I disagree with that argument.  On average gay families are poor and more vulnerable than our straight counterparts, and marriage can be a cheap way to secure some basic rights.

But marriage won't solve all our problems.  As a community of queer people we are vulnerable.  Despite our current popularity (collectively we are the geeky girl who had a makeover and got asked out by the captain of the football team), we are still an unequal, and sometimes distrusted and despised minority.  This inequality is particularly burdensome for those who also occupy some other vulnerable category(s).  Now that we are riding high, we should make this the year of the QUEER and old, and disabled, and young, and chronically ill, and undocumented, and incarcerated, and poor, and don't forget our trans friends and allies (and I just couldn't fit person first language into that sentence).  And don't forget that gay people face many mental health problems, particularly high rates of addiction.  Even for those of us who don't fit into a category that adds additional complications to our gay experience, life can throw us into situations that make us vulnerable.

For our family, our strongest sense of vulnerability came in the days before and after LB's birth.  She came before our paperwork was signed and I was very sick.  I never asked my half-formed questions about what would happen to our family in a variety of medical worst case scenarios.  I had been in the hospital for ten days, when the doctor finally said it was time for LB to come.  I was 29w and had been desperately holding on, but by that moment I felt so sick that I new that it truly was time.  We went into the birth counting on the kindness of strangers to protect our family because that was all we had.

I was unconscious for about five hours after LB's birth.  In this, our experience was similar to Hillary and Julie Goodridge, the lead plaintiffs in Goodridge et al. v. Dept. of Health (the Massachusetts gay marriage case).  While her partner was unconscious, Hillary Goodridge was denied access to her baby daughter in the NICU.  She only gained access by lying and saying she was the baby's aunt.  In our case, B. was quickly sent up to the NICU.  She was the first family member to hold LB and did kangaroo care while I was still in recovery.  The hospital staff treated her like the mom that she is.

Why were things different? Broader social acceptance of gay people, a progressive teaching hospital, a recent lawsuit in our city against a different hospital that denied a gay man access to his dying partner?  Whatever the reason, I was thankful, but also pained and saddened by the thought that our girl could have been born and died alone.  What if she had been sicker?  What if B. hadn't been allowed in?

Anyone who's gay can be gay and vulnerable.  As we seek to built on these recent victories, I hope we can also find ways to share the burdens.  And for me, personally, that is a lofty idea that I'm not quite sure how to put into practice.  Suggestions solicited.

Check out the many other posts for Blogging for LGBT Families Day at Mombian.