Category Archives: Legal Issues & Activism

Worldpride 2014 Means a Road Trip to Toronto!

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Worldpride 2014 was hosted by the lively city of Toronto, located in Ontario, Canada. Known as “The City That Works”, Toronto definitely worked for me as I jumped on the chance to pack up my BFF and take ourselves on a little road trip. Rainbow-clad everything, foxy Canadian girls, art exhibits, the most fabulous drag queens, and of course some of my all time favorite musical acts. Yes, I was definitely in.

We live in Michigan, so it was about a 4 hour drive one-way, so we got an early start. We drove into a nearby town, then took a train into the heart of the city. Because I work full time and motherhood consumes the rest of my time, I was only able to attend the last day of Worldpride. But any time is better than no time, right?

Upon arrival, you could just feel the movement in the air. In a sea of intoxicating color were thousands of jubilant, sparkling, beautiful people! It was truly amazing how the whole city supports the event. Stores were decorated with rainbow balloons and painted windows. Building surfaces were covered with stunning murals handcrafted by talented artisans specifically for pride. Every bar, every boutique, law firms, insurance agencies, and even the grocery store – all completely embellished and dedicated to serving the community. A true sense of unity presented itself.

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The pride parade was like none I’ve seen before. 350 floats, representing different countries from around the world, danced their way throughout the city streets.securedownload (21)

 

The creativity and hard work applied to these concoctions were done with love, by people who are proud of who they are. I loved it.

 

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Being the music junkie that I am, my favorite part was the closing ceremony. As you already know, I have an absolute insane Tegan and Sara obsession. They were the headlining act. Other favorites of mine include God-Des and She, and Hunter Valentine. I have many musician crushes! All of the acts were incredible and definitely brought energy to the crowd, even when we got caught in a massive downpour. The icing on the cake was the gorgeous rainbow the rain produced!

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Overall, Worldpride 2014 was an incredible experience. I will absolutely cherish this forever. The best part of it all was the feeling you get from taking it all in. Of course there were a handful of protestors, but even they couldn’t bring us down. It was interesting to see other countries -countries with a great deal of oppression and hate- step forward and show that their colors don’t run. That they, too, have a right to be proud of who they are.

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Next year, New York City is hosting Worldpride. I highly recommend packing up your own BFF and taking that trip.

 

 

 

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We Represent Love and NOH8

My wife and our close friends and I conducted our own NOH8 photo shoot last weekend. We took a stand for equality by displaying our message in various platforms. It was so much fun, and definitely a unique experience.group 3

For those of you unfamiliar, the NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world, with “NOH8” painted on one cheek in protest. For our shoot, my photographer friend offered up her pad, along with her backdrop and lighting. We all wore white shirts, and practiced our poses.

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The great thing about this campaign is that each person being photographed gets to bring his/her personality into the shot. You can use props, hand gestures, or even other people. My wife and I really wanted to capture our love for our son in the shoot. We wanted to represent our family- and other families like ours.

 

From the NOH8 site:
Five years since its inception, the NOH8 Campaign has grown to nearly 33,000 faces and continues to grow at an exponential rate. The campaign began with portraits of everyday Californians from all walks of life and soon rose to include politicians, military personnel, newlyweds, law enforcement, artists, celebrities, and many more.

While inspired by the passage of Prop 8, the scope of the NOH8 Campaign has grown to stand against discrimination and bullying of all kinds. The message of ‘No Hate’ can be interpreted and applied broadly, and speaks to each person in their own way. 10365820_10201106668948791_8545216716119584938_n

The NOH8 Campaign has received overwhelming support from around the world, and has appeared in various local and national news programs and publications. The images are widely used on various social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the message of equality.

What it meant to me:
This is a direct representation of the current legislation occurring in my home state- Michigan, regarding lifting the ban on same sex marriage, and allowing lesbians and gays to be married. I am very passionate about this case, as it affects my wife, my son, and I. Just keep fighting. Just keep fighting for our rights!

While our photo shoot was something a bunch of us decided to do on our own, the campaign does travel the world, hosting professional open photo shoots. This is something I would like to participate in one day. What is even more fantastic is that you can take your own NOHphotos and upload them to the website.

This is what it is all about, people. Unity. Equality. Taking a stand. And why not do it creatively?

 

Two Sides of Mother’s Day

In today’s world, there are those who oppose my lifestyle, including celebrating Mother’s Day as a two mom family. And those who welcome us, and celebrate these miracles in life.

Surprise surprise. Not all people share our joy in having two mothers in which to celebrate Mother’s Day. The scene took place in Grandville, MI, where an anti-gay protester decided to stand on a busy highway corner with a sign reading, “Thank your mom today for not being gay”. The reactions of the crowd was priceless. A few cars honked in support, many cars stopped to give the woman their piece of mind, and there was even a slew of other corner dwellers, holding signs of their own. What occurred on top of all the lgbt support, was an angry woman, who demonstrated her opinion by throwing her slushie at the protester. Now, I don’t know if the slushie throwing was right, but I can certainly concur with the passion from the thrower. See the newsreel below.

 

In other news, my lovely wife and I got to celebrate our very first Mother’s Day! We didn’t have to deal with protesters or drama. We just enjoyed spending the day with our sweet little man. The three of us went out to breakfast and all the waitresses just swooned over his cuteness. When one waitress asked who the mother was, we replied, “both of us”, and she just said “I love that”, and smiled. I love being in a place where we can live as a normal family, and be comfortable being us. We then had the rest of the day to hang out together, to enjoy our amazing family. And you know, I absolutely wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

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So there you have it. People who cannot accept the love and normalcy of a family like mine. I absolutely can’t wrap my head around it. Why go out of the way to bring fellow human beings down? Let’s work on loving one another and accepting that we are all worthy of the same things that hetero folks are. All of us mothers are one in the same- human- and we have one thing in common- our children. So on that note, I wish ALL mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. I hope it was a joyful one for you.

 

Sexual Assault PSA is a Step in the Right Direction

The latest PSA is rather compelling, and this issue affects women (and men) everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are straight, gay, bi, or questioning. It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, pink, or purple. It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, fat, skinny, short, or tall. Sexual assault is happening. It is a crime and it is wrong. It robs the lives of it’s victims. No means no. Check out the video to see some of our favorite men setting the record straight. Remember- 1 is 2 many.

 

Gay Vet Denied Right For Wife To Be Buried By Her Side

74-year-old Navy veteran, Madelynn Taylor would like her wife to be buried with her in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, but officials will not allow it. Idaho doesn’t recognize her same sex marriage. She followed standard protocol, taking her discharge papers and marriage certificate to the Veterans Cemetery to apply to be buried there with her wife when she passes away, but was at a loss when they would not process her request. 

“I thought they’d say okay because in any federal cemetery it is okay, in any national cemetery,” Taylor said. “I could take the same documents and get buried in Arlington if I needed to, with no problems. But here they said it’s a state veterans cemetery, not a national cemetery. So we have to go by the state laws.”

 

Click this link to view a video clip on Taylor:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/idaho-veteran-cemetery-denies-same-sex-couple-joint-burial

Taylor and her late wife Jean Mixner married at a church retreat in Oregon in 1995, and formally in a California courthouse six years ago.

Taylor, who served six years in the Navy from 1958 to 1964, says that while she could be buried together in another veterans cemetery, she says as a longtime Idaho resident with brothers and sisters here, she doesn’t want to settle. She wants to be in Idaho’s Veterans Cemetery, with her wife by her side.

“I just feel that it’s the right place for me,” she says. “I want Jean with me.”

Source: LGBTQ Nation

 

Equality For Michigan…Sort Of

Surely you have heard in the news or from friends that Michigan’s ban on same sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional last week. The update on this situation is that everything has been put on hold. What’s more is that hundreds of couples have actually gotten married once the ruling was announced. Check out this video to get a deeper look at what is going on in my state.

 

 

Victory for Michigan!

This means my marriage will be legally recognized. This means being able to adopt my son. This means being free and equal in my home state. My wife and I will eagerly watch and see as the process continues. Good vibes.

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Gay marriage supporters, opponents rally outside trial in Detroit

Two completely different sides in the fight for equality. This video displays the scene that occurred this morning near my home. The trial continues tomorrow morning.

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via Gay marriage supporters, opponents rally outside trial in Detroit.

Arizona Governor Vetoes Anti Gay Bill

A remarkable notch in the belt of equality happened yesterday when Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill in the state of Arizona. The bill backed by republicans in the Legislature was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to businesses who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays. What this really meant is a legal permission slip to discriminate. The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act could have been used to protect businesses that discriminate not only against the LGBT community but also unmarried women or veterans, among other groups. It is unfair in theory, context, and practice. Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 5.09.59 PM“Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.” Governor Brewer was under a great deal of pressure from both supporters, particularly republicans, and opponents of the bill. She concluded her official statement, “Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans and Americans.”

Read Governor Brewer’s full statement here.

Many people are comparing these discriminatory notions to the Jim Crow laws that were in place during the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. These laws enabled public racial segregation in the southern United States.

Taking it to Reality

When I began to think about the reality of how this would affect the lgbt community, I realized it could potentially become a total war. Imagine wanting to buy your dream house with your partner, but being turned away by realtors. What about going to the pharmacy for a life dependent prescription, or even hormone replacement therapy medication, and the pharmacist passing judgement, refuses to administer your medicine. Wedding industry companies refusing to sell you a dress, a cake, engagement rings, or even rent you a hall for your special day. Imagine not being able to take your kids on a family outing to one of those indoor amusement parks that children love so much, simply because you are a same sex family. Restaurants, clothing boutiques, hotels – the list goes on. Even though I am not a resident of Arizona, I am rejoicing a the decision made by the governor. It was a step in the right direction to stamp out discrimination and say that it is not okay.

 

 

 

The Trial For Marriage Equality in Michigan Continues

Second class citizens. Unfit parents. Sinners. The protesters in front of the courthouse parade their beliefs in your face, judging you, mentally spitting where you walk. Supporters of the DeBoer v. Snyder case persevere through the crowd, showing little to no emotion. This is the scene from the same sex marriage trial is currently taking place in my town, on behalf of the state of Michigan.

My wife and I attended the first day of the trial, yesterday, and plan to make as many of the several court dates as we can. This is absolutely monumental and affects my family directly, as my wife and I cannot have our marriage recognized where we live. I am also unable to adopt our son, nor do I have any legal ties to him. Just that alone is incredibly painful and unfair. All hope and faith go into a victory with this case, for the adoring couple involved, their children, and those of us in the state of Michigan who need to stop being treated like we are less than. I will keep updates on this case as it progresses.

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Learn more about April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse here:
http://www.michiganmarriagechallenge.com/?page_id=11

Read more on this trial by clicking the link below to the CBS blog.
http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2014/02/26/testimony-continues-in-trial-that-could-overturn-mich-gay-marriage-ban/

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