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A Call to Arms

The revolution is upon us. Our opportunity to ensure our freedom to marry who we choose, and to live our lives as we wish is at hand. We, the gay community must rise up and show the world we will not be identified as a stereotype of fear and malevolence. We will not tolerate others trying to infringe upon our civil rights while the covet their own. Here is the word-for-word post from Massachusetts Family Institute today:



"With over 400 activists demonstrating in front of the Statehouse in support of the Marriage Amendment, members of the Legislature took all of 6 minutes to reschedule the Constitutional Convention and a vote on the Marriage Amendment to next month. While supporters of homosexual marriage were also in front of the Statehouse, their numbers paled in comparison to VoteOnMarriage.org numbering around 30.



The Legislature will now meet on Thursday, June 14th to take up constitutional amendments. The Marriage Amendment is the first item of business. Senate President Therese Murray gaveled the convention open at about 1:02 pm, and quickly recognized Rep. Joan Menard who made the motion to recess, which was approved without objection.



"Senate President Murray gave her word that a vote would be taken on the Marriage Amendment after the state budget deliberations were concluded, and we take her at her word," said MFI President Kris Mineau. "We are confident that when a vote does take place, the Legislature will vote to place the Marriage Amendment on the ballot and before the people."



VoteOnMarriage.org will continue to take the lead in supporting the Marriage Amendment and would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers who took time away from their jobs and lives to come to the Statehouse today to support the people's right to vote on marriage. Chanel Prunier, campaign director for VoteOnMarriage.org, is encouraging you to mark June 14th on your calendar and plan to be in Boston for the Constitutional Convention.



"Today, our supporters made it loud and clear once again that the people want to vote on the definition of marriage and will continue to keep legislators' feet to the fire," said Prunier."



I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live. -Martin Luther King Jr., Speech in Detroit, June 23, 1963



Answer this slap in the face on June 14th. Be at the State House, and bring everyone you know. You cannot expect the moderates to stand up for what is right when we will not stand up for ourselves. Be there, or don't be surprised when you can no longer exercise your freedom of self expression, and live by your own terms. We get the government we deserve. Inaction is still a course of action, with ramifications and consequences of its own. Nothing worth having is free, even freedom.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

freedom is free john... I'm sick of white gay men quoting MLKJ, it is NOT the same..

John Hosty said...

You know, it's funny. When I look at Martin Luther King Jr., I see one of the most intelligent people that lived in my day. A kind, noble, peaceful, grace of God himself. How ironic you would simply see him as black. Do you think I don't have the right to believe in his words because I'm white, or gay? You think that through...

Kasey H. said...

By referencing MLK, you are bringing in his struggle, whether you intend to or not, and so I have to concur and ask that you not (even inadvertently) compare the two. While marriage equality and anti-racism efforts are both civil rights battles, no one is turning a fire hose on you as you march in the streets, or throwing bricks in your windows. It is important to acknowledge MLK as noble, peaceful, and Black, because the racism that he overcame is part of what made his efforts so remarkable, and the socialization he experienced as a Black man is a part of his identity, just like the experience of growing up with white privilege has shaped me. The struggles of People of Color in this country are very different from that of white folks, including white GLBTQ-identified folks, and invoking anti-racist struggles in the discussion of marriage equality is inaccurate at best, and belittling to People of Color at the worst. White people should draw strength from MLK's example, rather than by appropriating his experiences.

Also, I have to say that I don't connect with phrases like "we, the gay community." To me that means "gay men," and, in that case, you have called me and most of my friends who would read this something that we don't identify as. I suggest you rephrase that to "queer" or "GLBQ" if you intend to involve us in your call to action. And I do want to add that while I support the right to marry, marriage is not personally a part of my revolution, nor do I see it as a step towards real progress. How does same-sex marriage reform prisons or help our dwindling environment? How does two dudes getting legally married close the widening economic gap between wealthy and not, and contribute to ending cycles of gentrification? While same-sex marriage may allow a woman to pick up her wife's health insurance, it doesn't provide a federal socialized health plan that works. Being queer has been a privilege for me, because otherwise as someone who grew up white and with class privilege, I wouldn't know what it was like to be truly crapped on by society, and that is what I needed to feel in order to see that things need to change. Queerness should be an impetus for larger change, and not just a obstacle to overcome on the way to the altar.

Trevor Wright said...

Thanks for articulating that so well, I think you hit the nail right on the head!

Mark D. Snyder said...

Hi All,

Good discussion. First of all John is absolutely right that we need to stand up and defeat this ammendment. None of us want 2 years of anti-gay campaigning in this state.

Also, Kasey there are many gay men who are slaughtered, have bricks thrown in their windows (new hampshire last year), etc. etc. But you are absolutely right that it is not the same and not on the same scale.

Loretta Scott King always said that Martin Luther King Jr. would have been in favor of LGBT liberation and I take her word for it.

That said, I am also quite sick of white gay men quoting MLK - and I would never do it. Intelligently comparing and contrasting the movements is one thing but appropriating it - like singing civil rights songs at the gay marriage rallies ehem meq - is even worse! I am also sick of crusty old white politicians constantly quoting MLK too (john kerry). It's offensive, its tired, and its cliche'd.

And THAT said hehe, I also think there are a lot more things to throw our energy and anger towards than people quoting MLK. Let's learn from this and move on together in solidarity in the spirit of social justice.

John Hosty said...

"By referencing MLK, you are bringing in his struggle, whether you intend to or not, and so I have to concur and ask that you not (even inadvertently) compare the two."

Are you going to look at every great leader I quote by the color of their skin first, rather than the substance of what they say? I guess I can rule out Gandhi too then?

"While marriage equality and anti-racism efforts are both civil rights battles, no one is turning a fire hose on you as you march in the streets, or throwing bricks in your windows."

So unless someone has personally experienced these atrocities, they have no right to quote MLK? Jacob Robida tried to kill people in New Bedford, but because I wasn't there, it doesn't effect me, right? And how do you know what personal experiences I have had with discrimination?

"Also, I have to say that I don't connect with phrases like 'we, the gay community.' To me that means 'gay men,'..."

I didn't know their was a need to be so politically correct in my language. I see us all as brothers and sisters of the same cause, and as equals. Sorry you see somethig else, but I can't help you with that.

"I suggest you rephrase that to "queer" or "GLBQ" if you intend to involve us in your call to action."

What group are you speaking for?

"I do want to add that while I support the right to marry, marriage is not personally a part of my revolution, nor do I see it as a step towards real progress."

I would ask you to read up on Loving vs. Virginia and its effects on the black civil rights struggle, but I'm not black, so I guess that point can't be made.

"How does same-sex marriage reform prisons or help our dwindling environment?"

It doesn't fix my leaky faucet either. How did you get the idea that gay marriage would be a cure all? Our issues in the gay community are as diverse as our members. Each issue is going to have to be addressed in order to solve it. The struggle for gay marriage has brought the bigotry committed against our community into the spotlight, and in doing so has given us an avenue to fight for social change. It is one of the rallying points for GLBT people around the world, but it is not the only one.

"Being queer has been a privilege for me, because otherwise as someone who grew up white and with class privilege..."

Well, at least you have some frame of referrence. It is an important ability to be able to "walk a mile in another man's moccasins". When you can relate to where someone is coming from, you can better identify the problems of that person. Good luck with that, and keep trying.

Let's concentrate on making a difference, not only for ourselves, but for all people. In the end we all have to live together. By pointing out the social injustice of banning gay marriage, there is a bigger picture painted. Society must think of that bigger picture, and all its implications.

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." -MLK

Sandouri Dean Bey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mk said...

"I didn't know their was a need to be so politically correct in my language. I see us all as brothers and sisters of the same cause, and as equals. Sorry you see somethig else, but I can't help you with that."

There's a difference between "politically correct" (which I don't think kasey was asking for, though I don't want to speak for anyone but myself) and "inclusive." If you see us all as brothers and sisters of the same cause, it's not ridiculous to ask that you not rally us by calling us a name we may not answer to. If QueerToday really wants to represent the queer voice of the LGBT rights movement, please at least attempt to acknowledge our many identities, not merely a single letter out of the acronym. "Queer" certainly doesn't cover all of us, but I think there's an argument to be made that it could potentially cover more ground than "gay" historically has.

Sandouri Dean Bey said...

Wow, I’ve never been offended by anything I’ve read on queer today until now.

Quoting MLK, however clichéd it might seem, does not in itself amount to an appropriation of his struggles or the struggles of people of color. It is merely drawing strength and inspiration from his example. Criticizing Queers for quoting MLK is like saying that MLK himself shouldn’t have quoted Jesus, because the struggles of African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s paled by comparison to the struggles of first-century C.E. Jews living under Roman occupation. In fact, plenty of white southern Christians were quite adamant that he shouldn’t have been quoting Jesus. It didn’t matter that his detractors didn’t see the value of the comparison. MLK did. So he quoted Jesus and inspired hundreds of thousands doing so.

I also want to make it clear that I find Kasey’s statement: “no one is turning a fire hose on you as you march in the streets, or throwing bricks in your windows” incredibly offensive. Could Kasey be unaware of the violence Queer people have suffered and continue to suffer both at home and abroad? They are doing a lot worse than turning fire hoses on Queer marchers in Moscow and Jerusalem, and the struggle for marriage equality is part of the larger, global struggle for Queer liberation. What happens in Massachusetts matters.

I vehemently disagree with the statement that “invoking anti-racist struggles in the discussion of marriage equality is inaccurate at best.” For one thing, such a statement completely disregards the feelings of GLBT people of color, at least some of whom do see a parallel. Moreover, the struggle for GLBT equality, which includes the fight for equal marriage, is part of the larger struggle for civil rights and against bigotry, injustice, and inequality. There is, for example, a direct parallel between so-called “marriage protection” laws and constitutional amendments and the anti-miscegenation laws that were on the books of many states until they were struck down as unconstitutional.

It should also be noted that a great many of Boston’s African-American clergy—a group with tremendous influence—do not want Queer activists making the connection between our struggle and the struggle against racism. By continuing to point out the similarities between our struggle against bigotry and inequality and theirs, we are highlighting the hypocrisy of homophobic black clergy and helping to counter their influence, and that must form part of our strategy.

Finally, I’d like to address Kasey’s statement that marriage isn’t part of his revolution or a step towards real progress. He feels that there are more important things to be fighting for. I get it. And I agree that the struggle for marriage equality seems somewhat insignificant when one considers the bigger problems of economic inequality or war or climate change. Small fights and small issues matter, however.

The struggle against those who want to make intelligent design part of the public school curriculum, that matters. The struggle to prevent a historic building from being torn down, that matters too. It’s easy to dismiss these fights as insignificant, when compared to other bigger issues. However, the battle over intelligent design is a pretty important front in the Culture Wars and the struggle between those who want to preserve the separation between church and state and those who want to tear it down. Likewise, historic preservation, which is in many ways the whitest and most bourgeois of all pursuits, has become part of the larger “smart growth” movement against sprawl and overdevelopment, major fronts in the fight for environmental sustainability. Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here. It’s not just that small struggles make up the larger struggle. There’s more than one larger struggle, and they’re not all related. Each requires its own goals and game plan.

One could easily argue that the current fight to reinstate under-21 nights at Boston’s nightclubs is at best the product of a group of young people with too much expendable income and free time on their hands. I myself would never say that, however, because I understand that this particular struggle, while it prima facie appears insignificant and self-absorbed, is part of a much larger equation that has to do with youth rights, safe space, and insidious attempts at social control. Plenty of others wouldn’t be nearly as charitable in their assessment.

Kasey asks: “How does same-sex marriage reform prisons or help our dwindling environment? How does two dudes getting legally married close the widening economic gap between wealthy and not, and contribute to ending cycles of gentrification?” To answer Kasey’s question, it doesn’t accomplish any of those things. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. Those other battles are important to Kasey personally, and, I agree, they are important in general. Many of us who are fighting for marriage equality are also engaged in other struggles as well.

One might also ask how fighting for prison reform or protesting gentrification helps solve the problem of the military-industrial complex, which is arguably the primary source of global misery. Even thinking about environmental sustainability is very much a pursuit of the leisured class and remains largely the province of those who don’t have to worry about more basic concerns, such as where one’s next meal is coming from or, worse, someone coming through the door with a machete. How does Earth Day help the people of Iraq or Darfur, for example? My answer is that it doesn’t have to. Earth Day is not meant to be about the people of Iraq or Darfur per se. On the other hand, celebrating Earth Day doesn’t mean that one isn’t also thinking about or working in some way to address the dire situations in those places. Protesting war and protesting the destruction of the earth—while not completely unrelated—are for the most part two different struggles and require distinct battles.

Kasey might feel that he is thinking much bigger and being much broader in his scope than the narrowly-focused equal marriage folks, but in reality, politics is as personal for Kasey as it is for the rest of us. And that’s fine. To be even more clichéd than quoting MLK, I state with unwavering certainty that all politics is personal.

Nobody is saying that what Queers are fighting for is exactly the same as what African Americans fought for—and are fighting for—or that we’ve experienced exactly what they went through. The struggles are different. At the same time, the fight against institutional racism can have tremendous resonance for those waging their own, more personal struggles against a form of bigotry and oppression that has nothing to do with race. I think it’s incredibly shortsighted to think otherwise.

And btw, it’s Coretta Scott King, not Loretta.

Tom said...

Well said Mark.

Regarding John "invocing MLK, Jr" I have no problem with that quote being used. Where is John saying, that the LGBT struggle is equal to that of the Civil Rights Movement?

And Kasey, your comments, to me, are pretentious at best, as you speak for the African American community that you criticize others about doing. And the not "truly crapped on by society" comment...

I can tell you, I am "of the class privilege" also that does not "need" marriage to protect my assets nor my husband's--we took care of that. As a matter of fact, I am criticized on a weekly basis by straight friends who "want their Tom and Alex back." The Tom and Alex who were happy and content and suffered not in the least before they became activists around marriage.

But you know, Kasey, I got crapped on and it just doesn't seem to stop. As a matter of fact I get crapped on daily, so much that I could call this country the United Crappers of America.

When General Pace called gays "immoral," I got crapped on. When Hillary said that she "will let others conclude" when asked if she thinks we are immoral, I got crapped on again. "Don't Ask Don't Tell" as far as I am concerned is a Federally-supported policy of forced coprophilia.

When VOM launced a petition campaign against LGBT, wrought with fraud and forgery plus the demonization of a minority, I got crapped on.

And when it was determined that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had to be changed to segregate LGBT out of a civil right because some people just aren't comfortable with us, I got crapped on again.

Sometimes I think I might just welcome a firehose instead.

Mark D. Snyder said...

Oops - excuse me - typo - I meant Coretta. I met her at the HRC dinner (which I ashamed to admit I accepted a free ticket too years ago)and she was a wonderful warm spirit to be around.

I think we all need to take a deep breath here. It's easy for us to get all excited and hot headed with each other and not speak with each other, educate each other about our opinions and viewpoints with compassion in mind.

The great thing about queertoday is that none of us ever agree on everything, but we can let each other know how we think and feel. I disagree with Trevor sometimes - and we live together!

I'm with Kasey in that I do not view the battle for same-sex marriage as revolutionary or as a major part of what I consider my revolution or my prioritized fight or struggle. But in the situation at hand, I think we need to win because I do not want our community to endure 2 years of anti-gay radio ads, billboard ads, etc. So I will call legislators and senators, and I will show up at the sate house in solidarity with the gay and lesbian people who are taking advantage of the 1400 protections they get by joining the system of marriage.

In my experience I think it has been the marriage movement leaders who have not recognized the complexity and interconnectedness of our struggles by endorsing pro-war/pro-life candidates, emphasizing normalcy/assimilation, etc. But we don't need to rehash that again do we?

What offends me most, as I have said, is how upper-class white gay men stand in front of the state house and talk about how years ago they wouldn't be able to marry another race, and then they sing civil rights era songs. I would venture to guess most of those men who live in fancy townhouses in the south end or mansions on the north shore do not do much in their daily lives to combat racism or for that matter the broader systems of injustice in our world. In my experience the folks who are the loudest about gay marriage have been very, very single issue driven and have been willing to to push other issues aside for this fight that they view as SO revolutionary. And we have seen MEQ endorse racist anti-immigrant candidates while at the same time singing those songs at rallies, and telling drag queens to shush up, and having dinners with QueerToday leaders to tell us to "tone down our protests," the list goes on and on... No wonder queers who believe in social justice are a litle frustrated when that kind of stuff is happening.

Mark D. Snyder said...

I'd like to also say that I think the marriage thing has brought in some new people to the very idea of "activism," and perhaps this is a "teachable moment" for those of us who are queer, or more outspoken, or more radical etc. So let's seize the moment and approach people who are new to this way of thinking with patience and compassion so we can better educate and move forward together.

Tom said...

Mark,

I am going to let that Northshore comment go.

This is a learning experience that we are all going through, including QueerToday. We all begin to relate to the world based on our history and experiences.

Of course we all can do better in how we treat each other including from within the GLBT community. All our concerns are valid. The equal marriage movement has drained our community's energy and resources and that needs to be addressed, but please do not attack those of us who are trying the very best they can.

Sandouri Dean Bey said...

This conversation is a stark reminder to me how, without sounding too much like a drama queen, I don't really fit in on either side of this debate—no, not the debate between equal marriage proponents and homophobic bigots, but rather between those queers who see the equal marriage struggle as important and those who do not.

I remember at one of the con-cons being very harshly scolded by a high-ranking MEQ organizer for holding up a sign that read “Jesus was Queer.” Apparently that was too radical a message for his taste and he thought it was undermining their efforts. I held it higher. As a result, I engaged—after the fundies stopped screaming at me—in a very meaningful conversation with a young woman about the Bible, Jesus, the meaning of Christianity, and the plight of the poor.

My partner and I also were routinely told by MEQ organizers not to pass out our “Hi! I’m a Second-Class Gay Citizen!” buttons, because they sent the “wrong message.” I think we ended up passing out about 5,000 buttons.

I’d like to point out that my partner and I aren’t married. We had a commitment ceremony on the steps of our modest home—not a mansion by any stretch of the imagination—which is located in one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods, both economically and racially. Up until recently we felt (perhaps I’ve felt more strongly about it than he) not only that we did not need to be married, but that marriage as an institution has more negative baggage than positive. At the same time, we’re committed to the idea that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, if they so choose.

In an ironic twist, we’ve recently been told by an adoption attorney that in order to finalize the adoption of our son, we’ll need to get married. Once upon a time, the state could not require same-sex couples to marry as part of an adoption, because there was no same-sex marriage. Now, however, many judges have begun to require that same-sex couples be married in order to adopt a child because, the judges claim, unmarried cohabitating heterosexual couples are not allowed to adopt. So it is quite possible that Massachusetts will force us to marry, only to turn around and abolish same-sex marriage.

That aside, my point here is that my partner and I are too iconoclastic for MEQ, but find that we don’t really fit into the Queer Today mold either. That’s not really a lament. I don’t wish to fit into any mold. I do, however, think it needs to be pointed out that when a twenty-something says:

“I would venture to guess most of those men who live in fancy townhouses in the south end or mansions on the north shore do not do much in their daily lives to combat racism or for that matter the broader systems of injustice in our world.”

It sounds incredibly presumptuous and, well, offensive. When I’ve been at the State House, I’ve seen men and women of all different ages, shapes, sizes, colors, well-dressed Prada-weraing fashionistas, grunge kids, clergy, and parents with children. There has arguably been far more diversity in front of the State House fighting for marriage equality than Boston Pride could ever hope to muster.

You are entitled to your perceptions, Mark, but your comment is full of the same variety of stereotyping that we get from the Right all the time. There is so much more diversity in the GLBT community than any of us could imagine. You couldn’t possibly know the ideological leanings or the financial situations or the struggles of the middle-aged men standing in front of the State House singing civil rights anthems. Frankly, with that attitude, I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything but the most casual and superficial interaction with any middle-aged gay men. You might feel that MEQ’s assimiliationist rhetoric is harmful and alienating, but so is yours.

Mark D. Snyder said...

points taken sandouri, i really do appreciate your contribution to the discussions on this blog!!

John Hosty said...

I can't help but think that all this talk about what name I use to call us, and whether or not I should quote MLK is missing my point. It seems like people are looking at all aspects of the finger that is pointing to the house fire. Can we agree that we are in crisis? Can we act on that crisis come June 14th, and before? That is what matters most to me. We can talk more about the rest another time.

By the way, I also advocate for Ben LaGuer, a black man who many believe has been imprisoned although innocent. We don't see each other and black or gay, we see the content of each other's character, and we see a friend. This may not change our prison system, or it may change it completely. If he gets another trial, or gets the state to re-evaluate his case, he may well go free. How his case was handled will then effect everything, since he has been in jail for 23 years.

Sandouri Dean Bey said...

thank you, mark. sorry if i've come across as bitchy. i'm really not (in person).
:)