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Posted by – June 25, 2014

Appleton’s Non Discimination Ordinance

Posted by – June 19, 2014

appleton NDO 2014Last night, the city of Appleton, WI passed a non discrimination ordinance that is inclusive of gender identity and expression. It passed the City Council 12-2, with awesome work by staff, council members, and Fair Wisconsin, and by my wife, who is not always thrilled about having to come out to people but does because it’s important.

It’s pretty damn cool to wake up & realize that I got to be part of getting more people a fair shake, especially those most vulnerable to discrimination.

Appleton is only the third city in the state to manage it (Milwaukee & Madison were first, of course).

What’s even more interesting is to wake up and read another column calling for NYS to get its act together and pass an inclusive GENDA. The Federal Government hasn’t managed it yet, either.

So yay for Appleton! It’s a pleasure being able to assist a city that is so clear on wanting to communicate a welcoming environment for all.

(& Yes, this is what I do for fun around here.)

 

Ryland Whittington

Posted by – June 18, 2014

(via SF Globe)

(I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cried about halfway through.)

Goodbye Zoraida Reyes

Posted by – June 13, 2014

She was a trans and immigrant activist out of South California, Orange County, and originally from Mexico. She was found dead this morning near a Dairy Queen under suspicious circumstances.

She started organizing in 2007 and 2006 for the DREAM Act,” Solorzano said. “She educated young people and adults about the importance about giving access to immigrants.”

A vigil was scheduled for Reyes Friday in Santa Ana. Friends and family were expected to meet at the Santa Ana Plaza at the corner of 4th and French streets at 5:30 p.m.

She sounds like she an awesome lady. Love to her family and friends, fellow activists, and everyone who cared for her.

 

Important Italian Court Marriage Ruling

Posted by – June 12, 2014

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this news, and I’m happy to say it’s good news, at long last.

Italy’s highest court has ruled that Alessandra Bernaroli can stay married to her wife after her legal transition to female.

Their marriage had been annulled, and then was un-annulled, and then got passed up to the highest court in the country.

Congratulations, Alessandra & Alessandra! With any luck, this trans marriage will pave the way for Italy to recognize same sex marriages eventually, too.

Outagamie County Clerk Update

Posted by – June 12, 2014

On reasonably good authority, here’s an update about Outagamie County Clerk Lori O’Bright: she will NOT waive the waiting period for marriages other than her three reasons which she stated in public on Monday:

1. the health of one of the individual’s marrying (although she did grant a waiver for one couple where the mother of one of the women is in hospice);

2. someone is in the military; and

3. for someone from out of state.

She is not granting waivers for legal emergencies, which this should qualify as.

Let’s elect a new county clerk when we get the chance.

Of course our Attorney General Van Hollen has now publicly stated that clerks issuing licenses could be facing legal issues. What a schmo. My hero of the day is Dane County’s Clerk Scott McDonnell, who said

the possibility of prosecution “doesn’t keep me up at night.” McDonell, the first clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Wisconsin, called Van Hollen’s claim of possible charges ridiculous.

“He needs to call off the dogs and turn off the fire hoses,” he said, invoking the civil rights protests of the 1960s.

Let’s move on, people. This fight is already over, and you’re just embarrassing yourselves now.

To That County Clerk

Posted by – June 11, 2014

On Friday, Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the state’s ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional. Madison and Milwaukee courthouses flooded with couples – people who’d been together 34 years, 26, 15, 2… excited at the prospect that they finally could. Our Attorney General threatened to stay her ruling, so it became twice as urgent that couples get married while they could in case the meanies decided to make it impossible again.

& As you all know, the cops brought the cake.

But in a lot of other counties in WI – I’ve heard Madison & Milwaukee referred to as Sodom & Gomorrah – County Clerks decided not to do the right thing. Ours here in Outagamie was one of them, and my friend Celia – who happens to be straight and married – got increasingly upset with her rationalizations and excuses for not doing her job.

She called the clerk and got treated rudely, and in order to be heard, Celia wrote a letter instead. Here it is.

On Monday, I called your office to urge you to waive the waiting period for marriage licenses for same-sex couples. You interrupted me mid-sentence, insisted that you would not be doing that, and thanked me curtly for my opinion. You never even took my name. 

But your rudeness to me is nothing compared to your gross abuse of your own authority over the past week. On Friday, you said you would treat same-sex couples and heterosexual couples exactly the same (your argument for not extending hours), but when couples arrived on Monday to receive licenses, you refused to issue any, claiming that you were awaiting instruction. You admitted that you had even not read Judge Crabb’s decision and only did so Monday morning.

When legal counsel reviewed the relevant sections of that decision and advised you to issue licenses, you relented, but still insisted on not allowing couples to waive the waiting period. Never mind the fact that, if the Attorney General were successful in his efforts to put a stay on marriages, these couples might not have the opportunity to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage. Legal exigency certainly would have been a reasonable argument for granting the waivers, but you insisted you were simply treating gay couples the same as heterosexual couples. 

I include this rather long summary because I contend that, at every turn, you allowed you personal feelings to cloud your judgment and prevent you from performing your duty to uphold the law. Initially, you upheld a law that had been deemed unconstitutional, and then, after counsel’s advice to change course, you clung to an absurdly narrow view of the law to guarantee that gay couples wouldn’t marry immediately.

I hope our next county clerk will fulfill his/her duties sensitively and without bias.

Celia Barnes, Appleton

Activist Clerks: Funny that the right wing hasn’t gotten all upset about them inflicting their politics on the rest of us.

AMA: Birth Certificate Changes Shouldn’t Require Surgery

Posted by – June 10, 2014

Great, great news. Not only is this requirement unfair and biased in favor of people who transition medically – not everyone does, or wants to – it also creates a problem with socioeconomic status, where those who can afford surgery are “real” and those who can’t, aren’t.

But this line in the Forbes article is a little silly:

Transgender people say they need IDs to accurately reflect their gender when they apply for jobs, travel and seek certain government services among other things.

Probably just a sloppy bit of writing, but um, everyone needs IDs that accurately reflect their gender.

This part of the article is, however, all too true:

“Birth certificates are primarily used for legal matters, not medical,” the new policy language approved by the AMA says.  “Requiring sex-reassignment surgery places a burden on an already marginalized population.”

Last week, New York State passed a law that states that people are not required to have surgery to change their birth certificates, so hopefully this new AMA ruling will mean other states will follow suit.

Same Sex Weddings in Appleton?

Posted by – June 9, 2014

Miriam Douglass (left) and Ligia Rivera were the first same-sex couple to have their marriage license application accepted by Outagamie County this morning. BUT…. there is a five day waiting period that wasn’t waived by the County Clerk.

In Madison and Milwaukee, the very legitimate argument that “legal exigency” required them to waive the waiting period because the ban might be overturned again.

Either way: same sex couples will be getting married next Monday, June 16th, in the birthplace of Joe McCarthy – Appleton, WI.

So, so happy, and so proud of all of my friends and fellow activists and local clergy who went to the County Clerk’s office this morning to make it happen.

Mrs. Douglass and Mrs. Rivera have been together 26 years.

Here’s a picture from the courthouse this morning. Jesse Heffernan and Monica Rico are the smiling people with that flag.

Bilerico is doing a good job keeping this information updated.

 

“I never realized that I was like a second-class citizen . . . until I wasn’t one anymore.”

Posted by – June 8, 2014

So the weddings have been taking place since the news that the ban was struck down here in WI, and there have been beautiful photos – like the one of the Madison cops bringing cakes to couples getting married on the courthouse steps – and some very interesting articles.

But it was this one sentence from this article that really got to me, because that’s how it feels even for us. Despite having been legally married in the state of New York in 2001 – because we were legally gendered heterosexual at the time – we have felt such a deep envy when NY & so many other states started recognizing and performing same sex unions.

Really, it’s a huge sigh of relief, even for us, who have had recognition from the Federal government for forever but who feel insecure no matter what we’re doing in-state. It is impossible not to feel like a second class citizen when you don’t know if an emergency room attendant is going to recognize your relationship or not.

So happy weddings, happy Pride, happy Wisconsin.

WI’s Marriage Ban Struck Down

Posted by – June 6, 2014

Honestly, the news made me cry the second I read it.

Unbelievable.

Forward, Wisconsin, and HAPPY PRIDE!

Amphibious

Posted by – June 6, 2014

CAN MONITORING DECLINING SPECIES BE DEPRESSING?

Yes and no. I am fascinated by life, but I don’t enjoy seeing so much just slipping away. Every generation thinks that now is normal. It isn’t. But I’m glad I am the age I am. I have seen things no one will see again and I have loved doing it. But I see things happening now on the planet that will not end well.

WHY DO YOU SAY YOU’RE GLAD?

Because I won’t be around.

- from an interview with Darrel Frost, the chief herpetology curator for the American Museum of Natural History

I was just having this conversation with a friend – that this is one of a million reasons I chose not to have children. I will feel lucky not to be around for the disappearance of the elephants, myself.

Choice.

Posted by – June 5, 2014

I’m teaching Amartya Sen’s “More Than 100 Million Women are Missing” tomorrow, mostly to bring out issues about choice, which we, as Western feminists, tend to think is almost always a good thing, supporting body autonomy.

But in patriarchy, if girls are so devalued, and a woman chooses to abort a female fetus, is that feminist, or not?

I love questions that have no easy answers.

There is a 2011 follow-up to Sen’s article called “160 Million and Counting” that we’ll be reading as well. The UN estimates are as high as 200 million.

This is the kind of tension in feminism that makes it impossible to express a glib, bumper sticker opinion, one in which an individual woman’s choice is an expression of a deeply misogynistic culture. Trust Women? Maybe not.

So what do we do? Keep women from choosing which fetuses to keep? Because – well, you see the problem there.

It’s one of the cases where the individualized ideas of “freedom” fly in the face of feminism. No one can support gendercide, and yet the women making these decisions are making a sound, pragmatic decision for the welfare of their own families.

Obama’s Pride Month Statement

Posted by – June 2, 2014

As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect — our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

Last year, supporters of equality celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling which, at long last, gave loving, committed families the respect and legal protections they deserve. In keeping with this decision, my Administration is extending family and spousal benefits — from immigration benefits to military family benefits — to legally married same-sex couples.

My Administration proudly stands alongside all those who fight for LGBT rights. Here at home, we have strengthened laws against violence toward LGBT Americans, taken action to prevent bullying and harassment, and prohibited discrimination in housing and hospitals. Despite this progress, LGBT workers in too many States can be fired just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; I continue to call on the Congress to correct this injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And in the years ahead, we will remain dedicated to addressing health disparities within the LGBT community by implementing the Affordable Care Act and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy — which focuses on improving care while decreasing HIV transmission rates among communities most at risk.

Our commitment to advancing equality for the LGBT community extends far beyond our borders. In many places around the globe, LGBT people face persecution, arrest, or even state-sponsored execution. This is unacceptable. The United States calls on every nation to join us in defending the universal human rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters.

This month, as we mark 45 years since the patrons of the Stonewall Inn defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement, let us honor every brave leader who stood up, sat in, and came out, as well as the allies who supported them along the way. Following their example, let each of us speak for tolerance, justice, and dignity — because if hearts and minds continue to change over time, laws will too.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2014 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Help Fund Upstairs Inferno Documentary

Posted by – May 31, 2014

If you don’t know about the fire that was set in a gay bar in New Orleans in 1973, you should.

The footage, photographs, and even the description of the events are hard to see and read. Very, very hard. But they are also what happened when an arsonist targeted a club for gay people and no one did anything about it – the cops didn’t find anyone or even try very hard to do so. Bodies weren’t claimed by family because of the stigma of them being gay.

Robert Camina is making a documentary about that night, interviewing people who were there, gathering the evidence of this tragedy so that those 32 people who were killed won’t be forgotten. You can contribute to the post production campaign and watch the trailer (although, once again, it’s hard to watch).

Honestly, this story makes me cry every time I read about it, but it has to be known.

And Yet, Meanwhile in Atlanta… #YesAllWomen

Posted by – May 30, 2014

two trans women are harassed on the local public transit, one of them stripped naked while the crowd videos the whole thing.

Honestly, humanity just sucks so hard sometimes. How does Laverne Cox end up on the cover of Time the same week that shit like this goes down? The harassers wanted to know if they were real women. People actually cheered. Police, after the incident, didn’t really seem interested in taking a statement.

Incidents like this one still scare the stuffing out of me.

#YesAllWomen

Richard Martinez Wants You to Send a Postcard

Posted by – May 30, 2014

His son was killed this past weekend at Isla Vista, and he wants people to send a postcard to their representatives asking them to get on the ball already with gun control.

It’s super fast & easy.

Trans Tipping Point?

Posted by – May 29, 2014

Whether we have or haven’t reached the “trans tipping point“, Laverne Cox is on the cover of Time magazine, and on her birthday.

She is such an awesome lady and has become too fabulous a representative for the whole of the trans community.

Triggery (But Funny?)

Posted by – May 28, 2014

I found it kind of stunning, either way. Pretty much the truth of it, as disturbing as it is.

It reminds me of that Margaret Atwood quote that’s circulating a lot- here’s a paraphrase: when men are asked why they’re afraid of women, they say women may laugh at them, but when women are asked why they’re afraid of women, they say men may kill them.

Elliot Rodger

Posted by – May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger was still a virgin at 22, and he was angry that he was because too often, men’s value is in their ability to “get women”. There are a lot of good articles out already – Slate’s & The Belle Jar‘s & Jess Zimmerman’s in Medium’s Archipelago are standouts – all of which have pointed out that Rodger was not a madman because he didn’t need to be. He only had to be a man, full of entitlement and male privilege – entitled to women’s bodies and to sex. His connections to various groups who persist in thinking that “game” is what convinces women to have sex with men, and that women are only attracted to jerks – never to a “perfect gentleman” as Rodger thought he was – has been well documented, despite those groups and online communities having scrubbed any and all of his posts. I assume they don’t want to be held responsible for failing to recognize someone who wasn’t just blowing off steam but planning to kill.

And what always strikes me about these kinds of complaints is the thing that I had to explain to my wife as she was transitioning: there are men who can yell that they want to do you across a crowded street and it’s a compliment, even if totally inappropriate, and there are others who can shake your hand politely who fill you with caution if not fear.

When I have made this observation (here on my blog and elsewhere), invariably someone who is male – or who used to be – says something about how the real difference is whether or not the man is attractive or handsome or whether the come-on is welcome.

That is not the case.

As Jess Zimmerman points out in parentheses:

“If women‘s mysterious disinterest drives you to consider murdering them, consider that you may be terrifying. Women are smart enough to notice that you’re the kind of guy who’s driven to blood rage by simple rejection.”

And I would add, not only do women pick up on someone who hates them enough to threaten or commit violence; they can, too, pick up on a more subtle and less violent misogyny as well. And that is what I feel is the difference between the men I’ve just mentioned: using “gentlemanly” manners to cover a deeply felt hostility or hatred toward women will not work.

And as someone who has hung out with kinky folks – for whom fulfilling a woman’s fantasy of rape, degradation, or humiliation is not uncommon – I know there are men who respect and adore women enough that even these difficult fantasies do not change their respect for the women they top.

By no means am I saying that only when men respect women enough do they “get” to exert power over them; that is the illusion, not the fact. The fact is that what comes first – what gains a man privilege into a woman’s trust – is their respect and understanding that only once their misogyny is something they have become aware of, worked on, realized and acknowledged does it go away.

It strikes me that this is not unlike racism, or transphobia, or ableism or any of the other kinds of blind hatreds are culture teaches us. And we are all taught them; women in a patriarchy can also be misogynists who do not trust or like or respect other women the same way that even gay men can hate themselves and other gay men because we are all raised in the stink of homophobia.

But the thing about Elliott Rodger is this: so many men who want to date or have sex with or marry women figure it out. They realize they love their moms or their sisters or their daughters and realize the women they are dating or sleeping with or marrying deserve the same respect as the women they know and love. Gay men, on the other hand, especially those who live in a very intense masculine homosocial environments, can express a misogyny that is raw and unchecked. That is, they haven’t had to do the work necessary to realize that women are awesome. Those gay men, I might add, are very, very rare, and getting rarer by the day. The only time their misogyny is still apparent is in the disrespectful, violent attitudes they occasionally express toward trans women, which many, many people have witnessed in these recent uproars about RuPaul and Trannyshack.

What I’m saying, ultimately, is that people – not just women – are wise enough to pick up on someone who hates you for who you are. The white kid who loves rap but who hates black people will never feel welcome by blacks socially. Gay men and lesbians often know when someone who is truly a homophobe is in their midst.

And women, like all of these other groups, know deeply when a man hates them for being women. They may not know it enough to articulate it, but they know it enough to keep their distance.

No amount of chivalry or good manners or “game” will perfume over the stink of that kind of misogyny. In this time when we hear a lot of talk about how accepted gay people are, or how “post racial” we are, or when we hear a gay man talk about how much he really loves trans people but doesn’t want his language policed, we might do well to remember what Elliot Rodger accidentally taught us: that it’s only in owning and dismantling these kinds of systemic, taught, culture-wide hatreds that we free ourselves of them.