Sunday, May 21, 2000

Before the Blog: Whew!

Our letter to the editor ran on May 9 and the feedback we've received couldn't be more positive.

Oh, of course, a couple of the "bad guys" have had letters in response printed, but that was to be expected.

Our biggest concern was that the letter would, obviously, out Shrike at work, but she's gotten nothing but support from her coworkers.

Saturday, May 6, 2000

Before the Blog: Letter to the Editor

Our local newspaper recently printed a letter to the editor, in which the writer quoted from the Bible, to try to show why same-sex marriage should not be legalized. The following is the letter we wrote in response:

As a lesbian couple, we were deeply troubled by a letter printed recently, against the legalization of same-sex marriages.

We find it ironic that anti-gay Christians are so intent on upholding "God's laws" of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, yet few seem to heed those proscribed in the surrounding chapters. Leviticus 17 sets forth guidelines for animal sacrifices to God, while chapter 19 prohibits, among other things, fully harvesting ones crops, interbreeding cattle, planting fields with more than one kind of seed, wearing clothing of mixed fibers and eating fruit from a tree that is less than four years old. Furthermore, when Jesus himself was asked, in Matthew 22: 36-39, which was the greatest of all God's commandments, he said that there are only two commandments - to love God and to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

The more important issue here, however, is that the question of what the Bible may or may not say about homosexuality is moot. The fact is, the Bible and the laws of the United States are two separate entities. The founders of our nation granted us not only freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion. The same amendment that gives the writer the right to practice her faith according to her beliefs prohibits the government from imposing those beliefs on us.

There are many "sins" named in the Bible which are not reflected in the laws of the United States. In fact, of the sins prohibited by the Ten Commandments themselves, only murder, theft and lying - if under oath - are illegal. The Bible says that pride is a sin; we shudder to think how many prisons we would need if that were declared illegal. If one chooses to make the Bible the authority that guides his or her life, that is fine, but one cannot expect the government to force the rest of the nation to do the same.

The freedom to marry is not a religious issue, it is a legal one. There are already many churches that perform same-sex unions, and those that do not want to could still refuse, just as they can refuse to marry any couple who does not meet their requirements. We are not asking anything of churches; we are asking that the government grant us the same rights and responsibilities afforded to opposite-sex couples who wish to marry.

Gay and lesbian couples face a number of obstacles based on the fact that we cannot legally marry. If one of us becomes ill, the other can be denied the right to visit her in the hospital, or to take time off work to care for her. If one of us dies, the other may have no legal claim to the property that we have obtained together, has no voice in decisions regarding funeral arrangements, and may not even be granted bereavement leave by her employer. No matter how long we have been together, the survivor cannot receive the social security or pension benefits that an opposite-sex spouse is entitled to from the moment the couple says, "I do." In addition, it is legal to fire us from our jobs, or to evict us from our homes, based on our sexual orientation. We must conceal one of the most important aspects of our lives or risk harassment, discrimination, or even bodily injury. However, unless we speak up and demand equality, we have no chance of getting it.

Before the Blog: Millennium March

Since the last update, Shrike turned 31, so a belated "Happy Birthday" is in order. We are now the same age - for another 5 days!

We spent last weekend at the Millennium March on Washington, and it was absolutely incredible. We went to the Equality Rocks concert on Saturday evening, and marched on Sunday. We even saw Margarethe Cammermeyer - she came up from the Metro (subway) station while we were waiting to meet our friends. Later we were able to take some pictures of her, and our friend shook her hand and gave her partner a hug.

Since we got home, we've been really anxious to "do something," to not just have enjoyed the party, but forgotten to take the message home, like so many of the speakers warned us about. We've come up with a couple of ideas, but then another one presented itself to us.

Last week, the newspaper that Shrike works for ran a letter to the editor, that was written in response to Deb Price's column on same-sex marriage that they had printed a few days before. The letter was spouting quotes from the Bible and going on about the road to ruination that America was going to be on if we went against "God's laws" and legalized same-sex marriage.

We were furious. You can see the letter we've written in response [in the next post]. We're hoping it will run next week. We're a little nervous about it, because we will be outing ourselves to the entire community, but we're also fairly sure that we're ready to handle any possible fallout.

Wish us luck!