WBEZ | marriage equality http://www.wbez.org/tags/marriage-equality Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en After marriage equality, what's next for the LGBT movement? http://www.wbez.org/news/after-marriage-equality-whats-next-lgbt-movement-112269 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/prideap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Amid celebrations about the Supreme Court&#39;s decision legalizing gay marriage, some within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are also raising concerns about what may lie ahead for them.</p><p>J. Bryan Lowder, an editor at&nbsp;Slate,&nbsp;outlined his own concerns earlier this week in a piece that he published before the Supreme Court decision, titled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/06/25/some_unintended_consequences_of_marriage_equality_worth_taking_seriously.html">&quot;The Real Dangers of Same-Sex Marriage</a>.&quot; In the article, he writes the he is &quot;worrying ... about what the solidly established right to marriage might do to queer people and to the unique community we&#39;ve created over the past century or so.&quot;</p><p>Aside from marriage, &quot;there are many other issues in the community that are more important to certain individuals,&quot; Lowder tells NPR&#39;s Arun Rath. Marriage &quot;is a very happy kind of cause,&quot; he says, and &quot;I do worry that once marriage equality is done, we&#39;re going to lose some of the allies that we&#39;ve had in the past because it&#39;s just not as fun to be involved in it.&quot;</p><div><hr /></div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Interview Highlights</span></p><p><strong>On why marriage may not be right for everyone</strong></p><p>In some cases, couples don&#39;t want to get married, they would prefer to have the domestic partnership. And that can be for ideological reasons, they may not, sort of, like the institution of marriage.</p><p>But also, in certain states where there are no discrimination protections for LGBT people, you know, there&#39;s the line that says, &quot;If you get married on Sunday, you could get fired on Monday.&quot; So forcing people, in a sense, to get married by getting rid of these domestic partnership agreements could make them have to come out to their communities ... [putting them] in danger of being discriminated against.</p><p><strong>On implications for future support for other LGBT causes</strong></p><p>The interesting thing about marriage as a social cause over the past few decades or so has been that it is a very happy kind of cause. It&#39;s easy to brand it as a beautiful thing because we all love to see pictures of people being happy and in love. It&#39;s very easy to share on social media, which ... incidentally [has] arisen alongside the marriage equality movement. And so marriage in some ways has been an easy sell. I don&#39;t want to overstate that, because obviously there&#39;s been a lot of intense activism to get to the point we got to.</p><p>But the things that are coming up for the LGBT community next &mdash; such as discrimination or trans-phobia &mdash; all the things we&#39;re coming to next in our movement are just not as easily shareable and happy. So I do worry that once marriage equality is done, we&#39;re going to lose some of the allies that we&#39;ve had in the past because it&#39;s just not as fun to be involved in it. And I hope that&#39;s not true, but I think it could happen.</p><p><strong>On other LGBT issues that deserve attention</strong></p><p>A lot of, for instance, trans[gender] individuals would much rather have more protections for their particular issues than for marriage equality. Also, LGBT homelessness among youth is a huge problem in this country, in cases where parents kick people out for identifying as queer. So fixing that problem might be a more immediate concern for those individuals than, you know, getting married. ... There are many other issues in the community that are more important to certain individuals.</p><p><strong>What marriage may mean for gay culture</strong></p><p>Because gay people and lesbian people and the entire community did not have the ability to get married, that was not a goal within the community. So you didn&#39;t grow up as a gay kid hoping for your wedding, because it just wasn&#39;t a possibility. Some people may have wanted it, but most of us, you know, just didn&#39;t think about it because it wasn&#39;t on the table.</p><p>And so, I think that that allowed us to imagine different ways of being in romantic relationships and loving. So for some of us, that meant monogamous relationships that looked exactly like a married couple, and just didn&#39;t have the legal imprimatur of the state. But for other people, they had many different kinds of arrangements.</p><p>And so what I do worry about is, with this opportunity being offered to everyone now &mdash; which is clearly a great thing &mdash; maybe we will lose some of that imagination that the gay community has had in the past to think about how to live in different ways and, you know, really offer a critique to straight culture of how we can arrange our romantic lives.</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/06/28/418327652/after-marriage-equality-whats-next-for-the-lgbt-movement">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 19:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-marriage-equality-whats-next-lgbt-movement-112269 Clergy who support same-sex marriage in Illinois might not perform ceremonies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-11/clergy-who-support-same-sex-marriage-illinois-might-not-perform <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7323_DOMARallySmall%20%2818%20of%2024%29-scr.jpg" style="float: left; height: 267px; width: 400px;" title="Illinois clergy rally for marriage equality (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" />Clergy of different faiths support same-sex marriage in Illinois.</p><p>In fact, over 300 <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2012-12/158835580-23185637.pdf">signed a letter</a> asking members of the Illinois House to support The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.</p><p>And the House did, this week, by a vote of 61-54.</p><p>Of course, supporting the Act doesn&rsquo;t mean clergy have to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.</p><p>The bill passed this week does not require any <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/23072883-452/gay-marriage-bill-preserves-religious-freedom.html">religious organization or leader to</a> &ldquo;accommodate&rdquo; same sex marriages.</p><p>But state law doesn&rsquo;t mean much when it comes to church law.</p><p><a href="http://www.episcopalarchives.org/Afro-Anglican_history/exhibit/leadership/tolliver.php">Reverend Doctor Richard L. Tolliver</a> is Rector at St. Edmund&rsquo;s Episcopal Church in Washington Park.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re given authority from a secular point of view,&rdquo; said Reverend Tolliver. &ldquo;But from a religious dimension we are not.&rdquo;<br /><br />Instead Reverend Tolliver and his Episcopal peers are permitted, as of 2012,&nbsp; to &ldquo;witness a same-sex marriage and perform a rite of blessing.&rdquo;</p><p>The Reverend says that includes everything but the &ldquo;contractual parts,&rdquo; the &ldquo;do you takes&rdquo; and the &ldquo; I now pronounce you&hellip;.&rdquo;</p><p>For many, that&rsquo;s kind of the meat on the bone of a marriage ceremony. But Illinois Episcopalians will continue to follow their Book of Common Prayer, which still defines marriage as a rite between a man and a woman. Revered Tolliver says that situation is unlikely to change until 2015, when members hold their next general convention.</p><p>While the Episcopal Church has taken a one-size-fits-all approach, Larry Greenfield, the Executive Minister of the <a href="http://www.abcmc.org/contents/regionalStaff/regionalStaff.html">American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago</a>, says his organization leaves it up to individual churches.</p><p>&ldquo;I can advise, counsel, urge, even come close to twisting their arms,&rdquo; said Greenfield. &ldquo;But in the end, it&rsquo;s that local congregation&rsquo;s decision.&rdquo;</p><p>There are 64 churches in the ABCMC and Greenfield says they run the gamut, from &ldquo;highly supportive to fervently against, and then everything in the middle.&rdquo;</p><p>To Greenfield, that mix reflects both the mission of his church and democratic principles.</p><p>&ldquo;The imposition of state or religion on the freedom of a congregation to make that decision would be a violation of our position about the nature of Christian faith,&rdquo; said Greenfield.</p><p>If he were asked to perform a same-sex marriage, Greenfield says he would, &ldquo;absolutely.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I am member of a faith community that believes love is the supreme reality and responsibility of all human beings,&rdquo; says Greenfield. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d welcome the opportunity to bless that union.&rdquo;</p><p>The decision is a little more complex for <a href="http://www.wpmbc.org/senior-pastor/">Reverend Dr. L. Bernard Jakes</a>, senior pastor of West Point Baptist Church in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood.</p><p>He came out in support of gay marriage in 2011, a decision he says wasn&rsquo;t at all difficult.&nbsp; But he won&rsquo;t perform a same-sex ceremony in his church sanctuary anytime soon.</p><p>&ldquo;The church would have to come together as a body and say how they feel about it, how comfortable they are,&rdquo; said Reverend Jakes. &ldquo;Because it&rsquo;s not a dictatorship. I really do engage them in the process.&rdquo;</p><p>The Reverend says he hopes they come to terms through conversation. Right now though, he&rsquo;s more focused on keeping his flock together.</p><p>&ldquo;Character assassination is going to happen,&rdquo; said Reverend Jakes. &ldquo;We are to continue to pray for one another, because we will be bastardized and demonized based upon what we believe.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author"> Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram </a></em></p></p> Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-11/clergy-who-support-same-sex-marriage-illinois-might-not-perform Promposals: the new culture of public ritual http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-06/promposals-new-culture-public-ritual-107807 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screenshot 2013-06-21 at 1.22.57 PM_0.png" title="Twitter" /></div>Now that Chicago schools are letting out for the summer, we have officially reached the end of prom season, the city&rsquo;s annual paean to toule and spray tans. Even though the music might have changed, high school is still the same as you remember it: the couples accidentally stepping on each others&rsquo; toes as they pretend to be adults in oversized formal wear. It&rsquo;s awkward and not like TV, but prom imbues the impending graduation with a gauzy magic, the kind of night you&rsquo;ll recall more fondly 20 years from now.</div><p>However, this prom season introduced a new ritual to the yearly pageant: <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2319002/Rise-elaborate-promposal-How-students-using-grand-gestures-love-high-school-halls-ask-date-prom.html">the promposal</a>. Although inviting someone to prom is overtly a performative act, these asks add another layer of showmanship to the gesture. Viral videos show students using <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uCP1bkpe9o">flash mobs</a>, &quot;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-VdfNmS_AQ">Draw Something</a>&quot; or <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvB4evIbK7I">Inception</a> to add flair to the formality, and a YouTube clip entitled &ldquo;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0u0EIRb2wY">The Senn Way of Asking Someone to Prom</a>&rdquo; shows a student dancing for his girlfriend in gold&nbsp;lamé hot pants. The word &ldquo;Prom&rdquo; is written across his buttocks.</p><p>In the age of Facebook and Twitter, young people are constantly being asked to make their private lives a performance, so it makes sense that these asks would move into a public space, where everyone can see your date say yes. It&rsquo;s like instantly sharing your proposal with all of your friends, letting word of mouth do the work that a Facebook &ldquo;like&rdquo; would otherwise.</p><p>An interview with <em>New York</em> magazine, however, <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/05/15-teens-discuss-modern-prom-and-promposals.html">tells another side</a> of the story. Reporter Maya Kaufman interviewed David, who asked out his girlfriend during an assembly, in front of the entire school. David told Kaufman, &ldquo;It completely embarrassed her &mdash; that was the point &mdash; and everyone else loved it.&rdquo;</p><p>The students Kaufman talks to report that traditional norms and gender roles in high school are changing, where boys and girls are now both free to do the asking (although girls rarely do). The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/the-prom-posal_b_3331189.html">public promposal</a> allows young men to take control over the relationship and reassert their self-appointed dominance. One student, Isidro comments that women doing the asking &ldquo;would feel kind of weird in a de-masculinizing sense; it&rsquo;s like our unwritten duty.&rdquo;</p><p>However, this re-assertion of male dominance often puts female students in an uncomfortable position, where they feel like they have no choice but to say yes; otherwise, the entire school would be watching you break someone&rsquo;s heart, a guy who was brave enough to put himself out there in front of everyone. If you say no, you instantly become the villain in a society quick to label women as &ldquo;bitches&rdquo; or &ldquo;ice queens&rdquo; for unpopular behavior.</p><p>For instance, when men propose to women at baseball games, a proposal so common it&rsquo;s become&nbsp;cliché, the woman is expected to say yes and kiss him in front of the cameras. It&rsquo;s like getting a rose on <em>The Bachelor;</em> you don&rsquo;t turn it down. Anything else is a violation of the ritual.</p><p>Although it&rsquo;s gender policing, respondents rarely comment on the underlying psychologies behind it. They are more interested in romance, reenacting the teen movie beats they&rsquo;ve been taught to expect from movies like <em>Sixteen Candles</em>, Jake Ryan pining for you next to a juiced up Trans Am.</p><p>Danica said, &ldquo;It has been engraved in our teenage dreams that our stud for a boyfriend or the chiseled boy in the front of the class would come and awkwardly ask you to prom, but this is not reality.&rdquo;</p><p>For girls like Danica, the enactment of these promposals give them the &ldquo;princess&rdquo; fantasy that many young girls seek out in Disney movies, a feeling that consumerist fever dreams are attainable. When young couples are increasingly <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130884&amp;page=1#.UcSA0lV7P2E">waiting longer to get married</a>, having these pre-marriage rituals of romance give young women a taste of the real thing.</p><p>From an early age, women are taught to visualize their wedding day and prepare for it, whether that&rsquo;s in hope chests or wedding magazines. For girls acculturated in this youth bridal culture, promposals are the next step to total wish fulfillment. It&rsquo;s like taking a peek inside the box.</p><p>At a time when many traditional institutions are changing and religious worship attendance continues to decline, these created rituals serve to fill that void. Ritual has come to take the place of myth, which we can see in the explosion of wedding season and the number reality programs devoted to one specific day in your life.</p><p>In addition to <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2289572/The-rise-GROOMZILLA-Modern-men-hands-weddings-brides-be.html">the rise of &ldquo;groomzillas,&rdquo;</a> where men now are expected to <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/we-have-ourselves-a-groomzilla/275205/">take up arms</a> in the wedding wars, the marriage equality movement has served to support the primacy of marriage as a modern ritual. For many gays who didn&rsquo;t get to go to prom (and still don&rsquo;t), weddings are a chance to finally have their day&mdash;to dress up and pretend that you have it all figured out.</p><p>A couple of years ago I attended a group wedding at the Chicago History Museum, after Illinois passed Civil Unions. The day was one of the most beautiful of my life, watching couples who had waited years just to say two words to each other; you couldn&rsquo;t help but cry with them. I initially wondered, however, why you would want to share a moment so personal with 500 couples.</p><p>Then it hit me. That day was like uploading your wedding photos with 500 of our closest Facebook friends, getting to instantly &ldquo;share&rdquo; the moment. What&rsquo;s the point of being a part of history if everyone isn&rsquo;t watching you? Whether it&rsquo;s a YouTube proposal or your wedding day, it&rsquo;s not just about romance. It&rsquo;s about making love public.</p><p><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Twitter</a> and <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-06/promposals-new-culture-public-ritual-107807 Want to get back at the politicans who denied marriage equality? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-06/want-get-back-politicans-who-denied-marriage-equality-107564 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5276_IMG_2395-scr.JPG" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="File: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The failure of the Illinois state legislature to pass the marriage equality bill has certain folks suggesting payback for those elected officials at, of all misguided and silly things, the annual Pride Parade coming up June 30. There&rsquo;s even <a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/deny-entry-of-illinois-politicians-in-44th-annual-chicago-pride-parade" target="_blank">a petition</a> over at Change.org asking that politicians be denied entry into the parade. It&rsquo;s already garnered more than 1,800 signatures.<br /><br />But as Tracey Baim very reasonably explains in a current editorial in <em>Windy City Times</em>, it&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Editorial-Politicians-and-Pride/43080.html" target="_blank">questionable tactic</a>.&nbsp; For starters, the only two state reps who are registered to participate are Greg Harris and Sarah Feigenholtz. Denying them would actually be denying ourselves.<br /><br />And, anyway, it&rsquo;s too late: the Parade is set, whomever was going to come and party with us decided to do so before the vote on marriage equality. Want to make a political calculation out of the parade? Count the absences, then cross reference them with the promises we&rsquo;ve been hearing this last year.<br /><br />Over at the <em>Reader</em>, Ben Joravsky makes some <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/06/05/gay-marriage-breakdown-the-republican-state-of-chicagos-democratic-politics" target="_blank">salient observations</a>&nbsp;about the vote: It boils down to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel suckering the LGBTQ community for bucks and votes in exchange for their &ldquo;concern&rdquo; and &ldquo;support.&rdquo;<br /><br />As Joravsky explains, there&rsquo;s a Democratic majority, with a sitting governor who&rsquo;s promised to sign the marriage equality bill, and a speaker whose better known as the Great and Powerful Oz. The math doesn&rsquo;t add up, especially when you factor in the passing of Emanuel&rsquo;s pet project, the $300 million <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/20113457-419/with-rahms-depaul-plan-weve-entered-a-new-arena-of-stupidity.html" target="_blank">giveaway to the Catholic Church</a> at McCormick Place. I&rsquo;m referring to the new DePaul stadium, a project announced and passed in less than a month&rsquo;s time, with barely a breath for citizens to respond.<br /><br />Think about that and the years it&rsquo;s taken to bring marriage equality up for consideration. Think about the kind of power that can put that kind of deal together in such a blink of the eye but then chooses to sit on its hands for marriage equality.<br /><br />Michael Madigan and Rahm Emanuel both claim to be strong LGBTQ supporters.<br /><br />So what happened?<br /><br />Joravsky suggests that keeping the LGBTQ community on the precipice of equality means we keep giving to make it happen. A personal ATM, that&rsquo;s what he says we are to Madigan and Emanuel.<br /><br />And I don&rsquo;t think he&rsquo;s wrong.<br /><br />But I also think there&rsquo;s a different deal going down, and it&rsquo;s less about us and more about Madigan. By denying Gov. Pat Quinn important legislative victories&mdash;same-sex marriage, pension reform&mdash;he&rsquo;s setting the stage to run daughter Lisa against him.<br /><br />Some activists recently called for <a href="http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2013/06/03/marriage-equality-advocates-disappointed-we-were-promised-vote-video">holding Lisa Madigan responsible</a> based precisely on this reasoning.&nbsp; That too would be disappointing: We don&rsquo;t visit the sins of the fathers on their children in this country, and Lisa Madigan has been an unwavering&mdash;and real&mdash;supporter.<br /><br />And some even called for Harris&mdash;the gay Representative who led the pro-marriage charge&mdash;to pay a price for backing away from calling a vote. Madness, if you ask me. Has anyone been more dedicated?<br /><br />Want to get back at those state legislators who actually screwed us? Don&rsquo;t vote for them. Don&rsquo;t vote for their acolytes. Don&rsquo;t vote for Emanuel, no matter how chiseled and flirty he is at the next big gay event. Keep your hands in your pockets and don&rsquo;t give a dime to any of them.<br /><br />Want to get some respect? Stop playing the spurned lover.</p></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 09:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-06/want-get-back-politicans-who-denied-marriage-equality-107564 The (un)equal sign: It’s time to break up with HRC http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/unequal-sign-it%E2%80%99s-time-break-hrc-106422 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/seeing-red_20130327142736_320_240.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: tahoma, geneva, sans-serif;"><object height="338" width="601"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633106819470%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633106819470%2F&amp;set_id=72157633106819470&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633106819470%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633106819470%2F&amp;set_id=72157633106819470&amp;jump_to=" height="338" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="601"></embed></object></span></span></p><p>When you look at the pink and red Human Rights Campaign equal sign&nbsp;that many queers and their allies displayed on Facebook <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/you-can-support-equality-without-being-marriage-106303">last week</a>, you might see a simple testatment to marriage equality. You might see a promise to fight for equal rights. However, a recent <a href="http://www.back2stonewall.com/2013/04/hrc-discriminates-scotus-hearing-discrimination.html">incident</a> forces us to ask this question: Members of the community might stand with HRC, but does HRC <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2013/03/hrc-you-have-problem.html">stand with them</a>? Does the organization&#39;s commitment to equality <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-juro/even-after-all-these-years-hrc-still-doesnt-get-it_b_2989826.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&amp;ir=Politics">include everyone</a>?</p><p dir="ltr">Sadly, the answer is no.</p><p dir="ltr">When gay marriage supporters gathered in <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2013/03/what-hell-happened-in-dc-today.html">Washington, D.C.</a> to stand against DOMA and Prop. 8 last week, attendees brought rainbow banners that suggest the diversity of our community. But at the rally, the HRC proved its true color-blindness.</p><p dir="ltr">During the rally HRC staffers asked one of the attendees to move a flag bearing the transgender equality symbol away from the stage, as it was too close to the podium. This was after another HRC staffer <a href="http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2013/03/29/activists-seeing-red-over-hrc-antics-at-scotus-hearings/">asked</a> the holder what the sign meant and was upset to find that <em>there were transgender people there, too</em>. The staffer then allegedly <a href="http://thedcgayz.tumblr.com/post/46475109689/hrc-asks-trans-protesters-to-remove-trans-flag-from">told the</a> attendee that &ldquo;marriage is not a transgender issue.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In defense of the move, the HRC claimed that many rally goers were asked to move their flags, so as to stage a patriotic photo-op. <em>Yay, America</em>. <a href="http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2013/03/29/activists-seeing-red-over-hrc-antics-at-scotus-hearings/">According to HRC</a>:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Featuring American flags at our program was the best way to illustrate this unifying issue which is why when managing the area behind the podium, several people were asked to move who were carrying organizational banners, pride flags or any other flag that was not an American flag.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;m not quite fluent in &lsquo;Murican, but this statement is, how do you say, total bullsh*t: Jerame Davis of National Stonewall Democrats <a href="http://www.bilerico.com/2013/03/hrc_and_the_trans_flag_incident.php?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BilericoProject+(The+Bilerico+Project)">witnessed</a> the <a href="http://dearcispeople.tumblr.com/post/46651162487/the-hrc-told-a-trans-person-and-activist-to-take-down-a">altercation</a> and confirmed the attendee&rsquo;s story.</p><p dir="ltr">Davis writes: &ldquo;I was there. I saw it happen. It was only the HRC reps asking for the trans flag to be moved. If they&rsquo;d only asked once, I&rsquo;d have given them a pass, but they continued to harrass this person over a flag.&rdquo; According to Davis, it was only the transgender attendees who were asked to relocate.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2013/03/undocumented-queers-demand-hrc.html?showComment=1364700470366">John M. Becker</a> of Freedom to Marry <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2013/03/hrc-you-have-problem.html">stood behind</a> Davis&rsquo; account. He stated:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure it was not HRC&#39;s intent to exclude or deeply offend, but regardless of the circumstances, people felt excluded and were deeply offended. HRC really should <a href="http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/united-for-marriage-coalition-apologizes-for-mistreatment-of-trans-and-undocumented-activists-hrc-signs-on-then-denies/politics/2013/03/29/63826">apologize</a> for this regrettable incident before it casts any larger a shadow on an otherwise beautiful event.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">HRC initially <a href="http://transitiontransmission.tumblr.com/post/46519107813/hrc-denies-any-wrongdoing-in-transgender-flag-incident">ignored criticism</a> of its actions, but as opposition to the organization&#39;s douchery spread over social media, the group was forced to <a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2013/04/01/hrc-and-coalition-apologize-silencing-undocumented-trans">apologize</a>. HRC issued a statement that read in part:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;We apologize for having caused harm to the individuals involved. Apologies are being made individually and collectively and we are working to make amends.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Then they frowned, collectively put their hands in their pockets and spent the rest of the day sulking in their room while playing XBox.</p><p dir="ltr">A forced mea culpa is better than<em> noa</em> culpa, I guess, but I don&#39;t think we can take the organization&#39;s apologies seriously. This is <a href="http://sundial.csun.edu/2011/10/equality-for-some-a-critique-of-the-human-rights-campaign/">far, far from the first time</a> the Human Rights Campaign <a href="http://spaceykate.tumblr.com/post/46544373088/about-those-red-equal-signs-that-are-all-over-the-place">has been criticized</a> for its <a href="http://amplifyyourvoice.org/u/jordan/2012/11/28/hrc-releases-municipal-equality-index-throws-trans-under-the-bus-again">relationship</a> with trans people. Remember: This is the same organization whose former Executive Director Elizabeth Birch said that fighting for transgender inclusion in employment legislation <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2007/10/why-transgender-community-hates-hrc.html">would happen</a> &ldquo;over [her] dead body.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The HRC is kind of like that boyfriend you had in college who claimed to &ldquo;love you so much&rdquo; but then wouldn&rsquo;t take you out on dates or be seen with you. You never got to meet his friends, and you always ended up paying for him on dates. When it came to the bedroom, it was all about him. &ldquo;Next time, it&rsquo;s your turn,&quot; he would say. &quot;Just be patient. I&rsquo;ll get to you.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">How many more ways can HRC tell trans people, &quot;I&#39;m just not that into you?&quot; The organization has been neglecting trans rights and taking trans support for granted for years, whether that meant <a href="http://www.questioningtransphobia.com/?cat=96">throwing trans people under the bus</a> during the <a href="http://www.campkc.com/campkc-content.php?Page_ID=952">ENDA legislation negotiations</a> or having <a href="http://www.bilerico.com/2009/02/hrc_throws_trans_health_equity_under_the.php">transgender health initially left out</a> in HRC&rsquo;s Corporate Equality Index. In a survey on the nationwide <a href="http://amplifyyourvoice.org/u/jordan/2012/11/28/hrc-releases-municipal-equality-index-throws-trans-under-the-bus-again">Municipal Equality Index</a> in 2012, the group referred to transgender inclusions as &ldquo;bonus points.&rdquo; <em>Bonus</em>, meaning &ldquo;doing more than what is expected.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In the brief, the HRC referred to trans protections as &ldquo;not achievable by all people at this time.&rdquo; HRC didn&rsquo;t even include trans folks in their mission statement until 2001:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;The Human Rights Campaign is America&#39;s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">I don&rsquo;t understand, HRC. If you&#39;re fighting for &quot;equality for all,&quot; what about equal health for trans people isn&rsquo;t achievable? Can you only get T on the moon, or is it lost at the bottom of the ocean like the heart necklace in <em>Titanic</em>? Is the idea of protecting trans people so alien that we can&rsquo;t hold employers to a standard of basic humanity?</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, HRC <a href="http://www.queerty.com/watch-lana-wachowski-talks-growing-up-transgender-in-hrc-speech-20121025/">honored</a> transgender filmmaker (and all around awesome person) Lana Wachowski with its (Token) Visibility Award. In her moving speech, Wachowski detailed her struggle to find a community that could accept her and move past seeing herself as &ldquo;broken&rdquo; or a &ldquo;freak,&rdquo; while acknowledging that sometimes our greatest struggles are for self-acceptance and to simply endure.</p><p dir="ltr">Was Wachowski&#39;s survival marginal, HRC? Is she a <em>bonus</em>?</p><p dir="ltr">HRC seems fine with transgender people if they are part of an appeal for dollars or a face on an ad campaign&nbsp;&ndash; as long as the group doesn&rsquo;t also have to actually fight for trans rights.</p><p dir="ltr">HRC also <a href="http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/2/9/harvard-goldman-glbt-award-shameful/">honor</a>ed Goldman Sachs with a Workplace Equality award in 2012. This is the organization whose &quot;<a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/02/14/an_offensive_advocate_for_lgbt_rights/">corporate malfeasance</a>&quot; and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/02/14/an_offensive_advocate_for_lgbt_rights/">subprime lending</a> helped us get into the financial crisis, mind you, one that has particularly impacted those at the margins. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/homeless-lgbt-youth_n_2411884.html">Statistics show</a> that 40 percent of America&#39;s homeless population are queer.) This is the same organization that has, in the words of Samuel Bakkila of Harvard, <a href="http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/2/9/harvard-goldman-glbt-award-shameful/">consistently</a> &ldquo;supported <a href="http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18683">conservative politicians</a> who <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/12/12/143590615/romney-stance-on-gay-rights-issues-its-complicated">oppose LGBT equality</a>.&quot; Goldman Sachs was also one of the largest donors to <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-02/goldman-sachs-joins-wall-street-to-fund-romney-over-obama.html">Mitt Romney&rsquo;s presidential campaign</a>. You might have forgotten him already. Let me remind you. Mr. Romney once <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/romney-some-gays-are-actu_b_2022314.html">informed us</a> that &quot;some gays are having children.&quot; According to Romney, &quot;it&#39;s not right on paper, [and] it&#39;s not right in fact.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Oh, and did I mention that <a href="http://www.queerty.com/hrc-appoints-goldman-sachs-honcho-as-new-marriage-equality-spokesman-20120206/">HRC hired</a> Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein to be a spokesman for its <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/02/14/an_offensive_advocate_for_lgbt_rights/">marriage equality</a> campaign in 2012? <em>Salon</em> called the move to honor our toxic 1 percent &quot;<a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/02/14/an_offensive_advocate_for_lgbt_rights/">offensive</a>.&quot; I call it licking the hand that feeds you.</p><p dir="ltr">HRC also receives funding from other financial companies like <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000071">Citibank</a>, <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000103">JP Morgan Chase</a>, <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000090">Bank of America</a> and <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000106">Morgan Stanley</a>. These political donations go to conservative and anti-gay causes at disproportionate rates. There&rsquo;s a reason HRC&rsquo;s nickname is &ldquo;<a href="http://thenewgay.net/2011/07/in-defense-of-gay-inc.html">Gay Inc.</a>,&rdquo; and it&rsquo;s not just the pretty penny it makes off those shirts. It&rsquo;s because of the group&#39;s status as a tool of big business, its consistent valuing of &quot;<a href="http://open.salon.com/blog/avimecca/2012/02/07/dont_support_human_rights_campaign">profits over people</a>.&quot; The symbol shouldn&#39;t be an equal sign. It should be a dollar sign.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite what HRC would have you believe, the reality is that this organization doesn&rsquo;t speak for our community, or even reflect it. The HRC&#39;s cadre is made up of disproportionately white, cisgender people of wealth, power and privilege, who end up fighting, not for social justice, but for personal self-interest. Donors think they are putting their dollars toward equality, but they are merely paying for <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2007/10/why-transgender-community-hates-hrc.html">homonormativity and assimilation</a>. There&rsquo;s nothing equal about deciding who gets rights and who gets left out.</p><p dir="ltr">As <a href="http://agnesgalore.tumblr.com/post/46709012222/why-i-almost-defriended-everyone-who-had-an-hrc-logo-as">marriage equality</a> continues to dominate the<a href="http://mamamantis.tumblr.com/post/46505304978/darnganronpa-posted-on-fb-so-basically-as"> media conversation</a>, I think back to the HRC logos I saw slapped on bumper stickers and windows as a queer youth. I grew up in a conservative city often hostile to anyone who wasn&rsquo;t drunkenly tipping over cows on a Saturday night. But seeing that little blue and yellow square made me feel like there were safe spaces for me. I knew I had people in the world looking out for me. I knew I would turn out OK.</p><p dir="ltr">As a white, cisgender-ish individual, I still have that privilege. I can look at that symbol and know that HRC portends to fight for my rights and protections. But that&rsquo;s meaningless unless we start working to extend our systemic privileges to all. HRC needs to grow up and stop hogging all the toys for itself. It needs to start sharing.</p><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;m fine with organizations working to become more trans inclusive and fighting their histories of transphobia. I&rsquo;m incredibly proud of GLAAD for making the <a href="http://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-affirms-commitment-trans-people-lgbt-community-and-allies-melissa-harris-perry-show">necessary moves</a> to include trans folks in the organization&rsquo;s name, realizing that an acronym that leaves the B and the L out contributes to the very marginalization it&#39;s hoping to fight. Its work isn&rsquo;t perfect, but it recognize that. A first step is still a step worth honoring.</p><p dir="ltr">However, I&rsquo;m tired of HRC saying it will change later. I&rsquo;m tired of HRC telling us, in more ways than one, that transgender rights aren&rsquo;t everyone&rsquo;s rights. I&rsquo;m tired of the group pushing trans people to the side. I&rsquo;m tired of HRC <a href="http://americablog.com/2010/10/hrc-caves-on-dadt-appeal.html">patronizing</a> the <a href="http://www.questioningtransphobia.com/?p=96">trans community</a>, <a href="http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2011/12/hrc-starts-abc-work-it-petition-leaving.html">speaking for them</a> instead of working with them and claiming it is fighting for trans rights in <em><a href="http://www.questioningtransphobia.com/?p=20">its own way</a></em>. You&rsquo;re not Jesus H. Christ. I don&rsquo;t want you to work in mysterious ways. I want your ways to be visible and transparent. I want to know your ways even exist.</p><p dir="ltr">More than that, I&rsquo;m tired of being tired with the HRC and complaining about their commitment to shiny, $<a href="http://www.queerty.com/angry-protestors-pro-gay-corporations-democratic-politicians-and-hungry-journalists-descend-upon-hrcs-nyc-gala-20120205/">450-a-plate</a> galas and &ldquo;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/derrick-clifton/human-rights-campaign-same-sex-marriage_b_2973131.html">surface-level politics</a>.&rdquo; Our community needs to stop giving HRC free passes and instead needs to look into the face of the organization we enable. We need to stop being nice and start getting real.</p><p dir="ltr">Let&rsquo;s be clear: HRC is the problem. They are a giant, wailing infant of a problem and they need to be spanked and to change their poopy diaper politics. However, we are also part of the problem when we keep giving this group money. We need to stop rewarding an organization that we know doesn&rsquo;t speak for the diversity of our community, one that fights for the wealthy few at the expense of the many. We need to stop accepting later as an answer and expect change to start today. We need to start voting with our dollars.</p><p dir="ltr">We need to expect more than <a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2013/04/01/hrc-and-coalition-apologize-silencing-undocumented-trans">sorry</a>. If not, we&rsquo;re just going to keep going back to the same <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2013/03/hrc-you-have-problem.html">broken relationship</a>, and we&rsquo;re never going to be happy. If the HRC can&rsquo;t learn to give back, we need to stop giving to it <a href="http://www.facebook.com/amigas.latinas.16">and</a> <a href="http://www.chicagohouse.org/">support</a> <a href="http://www.thenightministry.org/001_programs/040_youth_services/030_youth_housing/040_the_crib/">one</a> <a href="http://www.chicagoi2i.org/">of</a> <a href="http://www.aglochicago.org/">the</a> <a href="http://getequal.org/">many</a> <a href="http://www.howardbrown.org/hb_services.asp?id=50">other</a> <a href="http://www.lambdalegal.org/">organizations</a> <a href="http://www.almachicago.org/">doing</a> <a href="http://jointcra.org/">more</a> <a href="http://tjlp.org/">intersectional</a>, <a href="http://tjlp.org/">transformative</a> <a href="http://www.genderjust.org/">work</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">I think it&rsquo;s time the queer community breaks up with HRC, before it breaks us. If we want to fight for true equality, this is not the marriage we want.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang covers LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a> or Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Nico_Lang</a> or find them on the <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/unequal-sign-it%E2%80%99s-time-break-hrc-106422 You can support equality without being into marriage http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/you-can-support-equality-without-being-marriage-106303 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/prop8.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: right;" title="File: Prop 8 demonstrators. (AP/File)" /></p><p>F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that intelligence is the &ldquo;ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.&rdquo;</p><p>I thought of Fitzgerald today as SCOTUS deliberated on Prop 8 and God was flooded with prayers from queer people to strike Scalia dead and friends flooded my Facebook feed with equal signs to show their support for marriage equality. It should have been an easy decision, right? I click a button, make a red mathematical mark my profile pic and then go back to watching <em>Bob&rsquo;s Burgers</em> instead of being productive.</p><p>But I didn&rsquo;t do it. I couldn&rsquo;t do it. I support marriage equality, but my support deserves more explanation than a simple photograph can explain, and I saw a number of fights break out on Facebook as people struggled to articulate their mixed emotions on marriage to friends and family. Our politics are complicated. A picture might speak a thousand words, but in this case, those would be the wrong ones. These are my thousand words. They are my own.</p><p>As a queer person and a human person who respects the dignity of all people, I support everyone&rsquo;s right to love and to have that love recognized, if they so choose. I support my friends who have waited for years and decades to do something that Britney Spears can do when she&rsquo;s drunk.</p><p>I support everyone that deserves to be able to visit their partner in the hospital or inherit half of their life together when their partner dies. I support their right to completely, totally screw them up, just like straight parents do. I support the rights of distant gay dads and overbearing lesbian mothers. I support their right to a divorce -- to the ugliest, most Real Housewives-esque arbitration known to man.</p><p>I support everyone&rsquo;s right to have whatever beautifully imperfect love they want, to strive to do better than their parents and fail sometimes and post pictures of it on Facebook. One day, I spent an hour and a half looking through Facebook photos of my favorite professor and her partner&rsquo;s preposterously adorable twins, which they dress in matching baby jumpers. They even dressed them up like chickens for Halloween. Motherflipping c<em>hickens</em>. How can I not support baby poultry? I&rsquo;m not a monster.</p><p>However, supporting and affirming their marriages doesn&#39;t mean I have to support marriage as a concept or believe it should be the issue sweeping our social media. I want to see people coming together to think critically about assimilation and what marriage, as a value, means for us. Same-sex marriage isn&#39;t a shortcut to queer liberation, and it&#39;s not just society&#39;s views on who can get married that need to evolve. It&#39;s marriage.</p><p>Of all people, I feel that Rufus Wainwright put it best. Wainwright is a libertarian (like our good friend Ron Swanson) and doesn&rsquo;t believe in marriage in general. When asked about it his feelings on marriage equality back in 2008, Mr. Wainwright <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2008/12/rufus-wainwrigh.html">quipped</a>:</p><div><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Oddly enough, I&rsquo;m actually not a huge gay marriage supporter. I personally don&rsquo;t want to get married but I think that any law or amendment to the constitution that deals with sex and love should just be banned in general. I don&rsquo;t think any government should encroach on what goes on in the bedroom at all. Frankly, if you want to marry a dog, why don&rsquo;t you go ahead and marry a dog, I don&rsquo;t care.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">But despite his opposition to marriage in general, Wainwright affirmed his belief in the individual&rsquo;s right to decide for themselves: &ldquo;A girl likes options,&quot; he said. &quot;Maybe someday I will want to marry.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">I agree with Wainwright (who later did get married to his partner). I believe in a person&rsquo;s right to choose the relationship that&rsquo;s right for them, whether that&rsquo;s a beautiful lesbian family with heartbreakingly photogenic children or no family at all. I also want to celebrate the unattached people and everyone who resists our culture of Singleism and doesn&rsquo;t confer rights to healthcare and visitation just because they&rsquo;re in a relationship the state approves of.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/femmehulk.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 390px; float: left;" title="(Feminist Hulk/Twitter)" /></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">As a feminist, I don&rsquo;t want to tell anyone that they need to get married to be deserving of rights and protections. Imagine if you told a female friend of yours she had to get married to have worth. She would Hulk-smash you.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead, I think that we need to do more work to give the benefits of marriage to everyone. Single folks deserve healthcare, just like poly folks shouldn&rsquo;t have to decide which of their partners gets to have rights and which do not. While we figure out what the Affordable Healthcare Act means for queer and trans* folks, we must continue to fight for our community health, including the people that marriage leaves out.</p><p dir="ltr">The problem is that marriage, as <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com/post/46405747469/for-me-queer-theory-is-the-emblematic-example-of">an ideology</a>, speaks to a homonormative subset of the community, where our worth is predicated on our ability to fit into a straight-approved archetype of &quot;gay identity.&quot; It asks us to be a part of the new normal, rather than critiquing the idea of a normal existing at all. Instead, we need to fight for the people outside of the box and their right to critique the box and tear down the box. We need to recognize the institutions that created the box, ask whose agenda the box really serves and question why we need a box at all. Screw the box.</p><p dir="ltr">We can support our friends who want to get married while realizing that marriage doesn&rsquo;t speak to all of our experiences, reflecting on those whose systemic issues marriage can&rsquo;t fix. What about the queer and trans* youth who don&rsquo;t need a ring to fix their problems? We need to put a roof on it, providing shelter for all those who need solace and refuge. All of us deserve love, whether that love is a piece of paper that speaks to decades of struggle for recognition or having a community that supports you and gives you the safe spaces you need.</p><p dir="ltr">Our love needs to be bigger, greater and more inclusive. Our love needs to stop asking trans* people to wait their turn, to start recognize bisexuals as even existing and to work to create a culture that isn&rsquo;t just marriage positive: it&rsquo;s body positive, fat positive, single positive, sex positive and intersectional. While we fight for marriage equality, we must remember to simply fight for equality.</p><p dir="ltr">Equality isn&rsquo;t just an inevitability. It&rsquo;s a necessity. Our community needs equal rights, so we can stop funding the rights of some and focus on the rights of all. It&rsquo;s time for marriage equality, but it&rsquo;s also time to move on. It&rsquo;s time for trans people. It&rsquo;s time for gender non-conformers. It&rsquo;s time for the differently abled. That&rsquo;s what equality means to me. Equality means everyone.</p><p dir="ltr">I know they don&rsquo;t have a Facebook photo for that, but that&rsquo;s what I want to see my Facebook feed light up with. I don&#39;t want it just to celebrate some of the luminous people I know. I want it to celebrate all of you.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Nico_Lang</a> or find him on <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a> and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/you-can-support-equality-without-being-marriage-106303 Marriage equality fight heats up in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/marriage-equality-fight-heats-illinois-106151 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ap-closer-look-gay-marriage-4_3_r536_c534.jpg" style="width: 379px; height: 280px;" title="Greg Harris (AP) " /></p><p>Five years from now, Illinois&rsquo; campaign for marriage equality is going to make for a great docudrama on HBO -- or a soap opera.</p><p>Last week, queer and allied Illinoisians flocked to Springfield, awaiting a full House vote on equality legislation. As of March 15, the <em>Windy City Times </em>stated that the vote could &ldquo;come any day,&rdquo; which was the same thing that onlookers had been saying all week. Although Rahm Emanuel warned that the &ldquo;clock is ticking&rdquo; on equality legislation, the bill stalled as advocates struggled to rally the votes necessary to pass the bill.</p><p>The House needs 60 votes to pass the euphemistically titled &ldquo;Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act&rdquo; onto Gov. Pat Quinn, who has sworn to sign it. <em>Chicago Magazine</em> counted 43 affirmative &ldquo;yes&rdquo; votes, as well as another 20 &ldquo;toss ups.&rdquo; The <em>Huffington Post</em> claimed last week that the bill was still <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/illinois-gay-marriage-rol_n_2870528.html">12 votes away</a> from passage, and Windy City Times has their own running <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Representatives-How-they-stand-on-equal-marriage-in-Illinois-/41973.html">count</a> of how representatives will fall based on their previous votes.</p><p>With the fervent support of Emanuel, Quinn and GOP party leader Pat Brady, who stated that Republicans are &ldquo;on the wrong side of the issue,&rdquo; many thought the bill would sail through the House, based on its easy passage in the Senate. On Valentine&#39;s Day, the bill passed by a 13 vote margin, giving voice to the wide support for the bill in the state.</p><p>In the past week, national momentum has added pressure to our local conversation about marriage equality. Colorado passed civil unions at the same time that prominent politicians like Hillary Clinton and Ohio Republican Rob Portman have come out in support of equal marriage. Portman&rsquo;s son, Will, came out to his father two years ago, and the conservative senator announced his change of heart on the issue last Friday. Even George W. Bush recently signed a brief advocating that the Supreme Court overturn California&rsquo;s marriage ban. He was joined in his opposition to Prop. 8 by over 70 other prominent Republicans.</p><p>In March, Jon Huntsman advocated that the Grand Old Party officially embrace the issue as the GOP struggles to stay relevant in the Obama Era. For Huntsman, it&rsquo;s not just that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/gay-marriage-conservative-cause-argument-against-equality-106068">marriage equality is a conservative cause</a>. It&rsquo;s everyone&rsquo;s cause.</p><p>So, what&rsquo;s the hold up in Illinois?</p><p>Although Chicagoans often like to pretend we like in a totally Democratic state, this fight shows just how politically divided we are, between the Blue North and the Red South. Illinois is a little perfect petri dish of the national conversation, where polls show a <a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2013/03/18/poll-58-americans-support-marriage-equality">wide majority</a> of Americans (58 percent versus 32 percent just nine years ago) now support full marriage benefits for everyone, even though a sizeable minority of queer people live in states that offer them those rights. Only nine states have passed marriage equality legislation, and most of those are tucked away in New England.</p><p>Like Huntsman, the former governor of heavily conservative Utah, Pat Brady of St. Charles has supported marriage equality only to see his popularity plummet and his own party work for his removal. Although the meeting for his official ousting was cancelled, the <em>Daily Herald </em><a href="http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130315/news/703159681/?interstitial=1">claimed</a> Brady would have been only one vote away from losing his position.</p><p>At a time when conservatives are allegedly loosening their grip on marriage opposition, Brady and Illinois Senator Jason Barickman&rsquo;s experiences tell a different story. Barickman was the only Republican Senator to vote in favor of the bill on Valentine&#39;s Day. As he cast his vote, Barickman clearly shocked the room. One rumor mentioned boos in the audience, like something out of <em>Lincoln</em>. Rumors of Barickman&#39;s demise have been slightly exaggerated, but he has faced criticism from colleagues for stepping away from the party line and been attacked by a conservative lobby group.</p><p>Earlier this year, the National Organization for Marriage threatened to <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/gop-chairman-lawmaker-take-heat-gay-marriage">fight the reelection</a> of any Republicans who vote &quot;Yes&quot; on the bill, and another conservative group posted Brady&rsquo;s number online (ala MIA and the New York Times). The chairman&rsquo;s phone quickly overflowed with angry calls and messages from same-gender marriage opponents. According to Pat Brady, he &ldquo;didn&rsquo;t know [those words] were in the Bible.&rdquo; Exasperated with the excoriation by his own party, Brady said, &ldquo;It just plays into a national narrative of the GOP as being close minded.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the AP, just 47 Republican lawmakers have <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/gop-chairman-lawmaker-take-heat-gay-marriage">voted for marriage</a> in the eight state legislatures surveyed, and all of them have faced party retribution for it. Interestingly though, Freedom to Marry statistics show that 97% of legislators &quot;who voted for marriage and ran for re-election won,&quot; as well as 71% of Republicans. More than half of the Republicans who lost re-election did so for other reasons.</p><p>In Illinois, Brady isn&rsquo;t the only one getting hounded for his stance. In <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130312/chicago/chicagos-family-pac-behind-robocalls-against-illinois-gay-marriage">robocalls</a> from the ultra-conservative Chicago-based Family PAC group, PAC director Paul Caprio decried Hillsdale Rep. Mike Smiddy for receiving &ldquo;homosexual money&rdquo; in his campaign donations and (like our new virulently anti-gay pope) warned that &quot;same-sex marriage denies children the right to know who their real parent is.&rdquo;</p><p>This leaves me with two sets of questions:</p><p>1. Where can I get some of that homosexual money? Is it covered in glitter? Can I only use it at Homosexualland or is it valid everywhere?</p><p>2. Are Republicans against adoption in general? What about straight adoption? Are they in cahoots with the new Pope on this?</p><p>Elsewhere, Rep. Jeanne Ives of the strongly religious and wildly conservative Wheaton, Illinois continued Caprio&rsquo;s line of argumentation. In a February radio interview for the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Ives argued, &ldquo;To not have a mother and a father is really a disordered state for a child to grow up in and it really makes that child an object of desire rather than the result of a matrimony.&rdquo; Ives went onto call same-gender partnerships a &ldquo;disordered relationship&rdquo; and to refer to the marriage equality fight as queer people &ldquo;trying to weasel their way into acceptability.&rdquo;</p><p>Ives has since (kind of) retracted her statements, after being criticized by Think Progress, Civil Rights Agenda director Anthony Martinez and Illinois Rep. Greg Harris.</p><p>As the issue continues to <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/political-fix/illinois-gay-marriage-debate-is-splitting-parties-churches/article_34189858-9791-57cd-8611-fd774e79a3dc.html">divide our parties and churches,</a> and both opposition and support becomes more vocal, a recent email from Harris reminded followers that &ldquo;this is our chance to make history.&rdquo; The local leader of the marriage equality fight highlighted the campaign&rsquo;s &ldquo;incredible successes over the past several months.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Harris, advocates have &ldquo;grown support in every region of the state and made [the] case to lawmakers, Every time we&rsquo;ve faced an obstacle, we&rsquo;ve overcome it because of [Illinois&rsquo;] commitment to moving marriage forward.&rdquo; Although the bill is seeing short-term blockage, Harris stated that it could have never come this far without wide support. It&rsquo;s about playing the long game. &nbsp;</p><p>When I spoke to Jim Bennett, the Midwest Director of Lambda Legal, he recognized that the bill faces obstacles to passage but assured that &ldquo;we are confident that marriage is coming to Illinois, whether through the legislature or through the courts. No one should be satisfied with a second-class status.&rdquo;</p><p>The organization is currently working with the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition to get people to call their representatives.</p><p>&ldquo;The most important thing any of us can do right now is to contact our representatives and ask for their vote on the marriage bill,&quot; Bennett said. &quot;We have many priority areas, so we will continue to have plenty of work to do. Just because marriage is enacted doesn&rsquo;t mean that the potential for discrimination disappears.&rdquo;</p><p>Anthony Martinez, the Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda, (an organization I used to organize with) has been likewise working to keep the momentum going.</p><p>&ldquo;With initiatives such as this one, that take such a long time to pass, we find that sometimes supporters get tired, and so we have to ensure that we are able to reinvigorate folks as we move forward,&rdquo; Martinez said.</p><p>&ldquo;Anybody who said this is a slam dunk is fooling themselves,&quot; continued Martinez. &quot;Anyone who tried to put a timeline on this is fooling themselves and the community. The House has always been the heavier lift and we can do this, but the community must continue to push. This is not about public relations puffery, this is about getting the job done, and that is what we are doing.&quot;</p><p>I don&rsquo;t know when we will see marriage equality pass in Illinois, but I know I can&rsquo;t wait for the movie.</p><p><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBT issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Nico_Lang</a> or on the <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/marriage-equality-fight-heats-illinois-106151 Illinois House committee approves gay marriage bill http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-committee-approves-gay-marriage-bill-105781 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; An Illinois House committee narrowly endorsed legislation to legalize gay marriage Tuesday, setting up a showdown on the House floor that could come in a matter of weeks.</p><p>The House Executive Committee&#39;s 6-5 approval moves the measure to the floor. Approval there would likely mean Illinois would become the 10th state to OK same-sex marriage, because Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he will sign the legislation.</p><p>Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris says his bill is a matter of treating gay couples and heterosexual couples equally under the law.</p><p>&quot;What same-sex couples in Illinois want for their families is just what you want for your families,&quot; Harris told the committee late Tuesday night.</p><p>Tuesday&#39;s vote was split along party lines. GOP lawmakers opposed the measure despite its endorsement by state Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady. Some party faithful want Brady ousted because of his support of the issue.</p><p>Yet the vote coincided with news that prominent Republicans and retired military leaders are among those who will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to support marriage equality in two cases up for argument next month.</p><p>Harris said existing state law, which he shepherded through the General Assembly two years ago and allows gay couples to enter into civil unions, has created a &quot;separate but unequal&quot; system.</p><p>Supporters and opponents filling a Capitol committee room waited six hours before testimony. A fiery discussion over legalizing the carrying of concealed weapons consumed lawmakers all afternoon and evening.</p><p>Advocates who testified before the committee included Chicago religious leaders, a lesbian couple and a psychologist.</p><p>The Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor at Chicago&#39;s Trinity United Church of Christ, said the bill would enhance America&#39;s ideals as a nation and guarantee that all Illinoisans are treated equally.</p><p>&quot;We are called to live our faith, not legislate our faith ...,&quot; Moss said. &quot;It&#39;s the charge of civil leaders to ensure that everyone is treated equally.&quot;</p><p>Advocates also argued that the bill would help eliminate discrimination against children of same-sex couples.</p><p>But opponents say the plan steps on people&#39;s religious freedoms. They argue lawmakers don&#39;t have the right to redefine marriage.</p><p>Committee members, noting their fatigue after a day of intense debate over guns, cast their votes on the marriage matter after an unusually brief debate on a polarizing issue.</p><p>The Senate approved the measure on Valentine&#39;s Day with Democratic support and a lone Republican tally by Champaign Sen. Jason Barickman.</p></p> Wed, 27 Feb 2013 09:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-committee-approves-gay-marriage-bill-105781