Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Letter to the LGBT Community Regarding the Aftermath of Prop 8

I didn't intend to post now, but some things just seem too important to let pass. This is one.

There is no doubt that Prop 8 caused a lot of pain to our community. I think of my dear friend, who has dedicated her life to supporting families, who has made such a profound difference that just the people I know of who have been blessed by her work hail from all over this country, and Canada, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia. She married her wife twelve years ago, and remarried legally on her twelfth anniversary. Her work has saved the marriages of straight folks, yet straight folks took her marriage away from her.

There is nothing about her loss that is greater or lesser than anyone else's in our community; I point it out only to illustrate the monumental injustice of Prop 8.

Yet violence does nothing to further our interests. In fact, it is a failure, a forfeiture of dignity, a disgrace of self. We will not win this way.

This issue is about love, and we will win with love, not with violence; with compassion, not with hate.

I have heard of fingers pointing to the Mormon Church, or to the black community. And I say to you, no organization walked into a voting booth and voted against us. Only individuals did that; and each one of them pulled the lever that said Yes, We Will Take Away Your Marriage for their own individual reasons.

We will not change that vote by protesting organizations or communities. We will change that vote by being visible with our neighbors, our co-workers, our children's friends, the people we meet on the street – tearing down walls of ignorance and fear one person at a time. Yes, take to the streets – as I did, with my boys, on Saturday's "Join the Impact" demonstrations – but with nonviolence.

Ironically, our greatest weapon is provided by the words of the prophet our most ardent opponents idolize: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

I ask us all, do not underestimate the power of this precept. It has been proven. Yes, we are angry; but if we channel that anger into violence, we surrender our power. We can do better than that. As Gandhi said, "There is no power on earth greater than the indomitable will." That indomitable will is not found in violence. It is found in Love, and Compassion. Channel that anger into your indomitable will. Be that Love, and we will win.

I call on you, my LGBT community: Now is the time to listen. Now is the time to be visible. Hold hands in public. Call your spouse "husband," or "wife." Let your neighbor, your doctor, your grocer, your co-worker, know who you are. I know, it can be scary – believe me, I know how frightening visibility can be. As a transwoman, I'm visible every step I take. I know that it leaves us vulnerable to the violence of those who hate us. Even so, it gets easier with time, with visibility; courage feeds on courage. Hold your love high, and know its truth. It's a lot harder to vote against a stranger than a friend, or even an acquaintance.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Am I not destroying my enemies, when I make friends of them?" You do not make friends with invisibility, nor do you make friends with violence.

Let us destroy our enemies, in the way Abe suggests – one at a time, making friends.


learner said...

thank you.

John Howard said...

Here's how I think this will all get resolved and everyone will live happily ever after:

It's starts with people coming to understand that there is indeed one right that a married man and woman should have that a same-sex couple just shouldn't: the right to conceive a child together using the couple's own genes. People should not be allowed to create a child using modified genes, they should only be allowed to use their unmodified gametes, which means people should only be allowed to conceive a child with someone of the other sex, because same-sex conception requires modifying the genetic imprinting of one of the progenitors to be the other sex. Most gay people don't want to try that, and understand that it is selfish and unfair to the child to attempt something so useless when love makes a family. But there are indeed people that think humanity should overcome its biological, sexual limitations and become post-human and post-gendered, and see same-sex couples as the perfect vehicle to exploit for their transhumanist crazy eugenic schemes, so it really does need to be banned. Not just for gay couples, but for all people that want to try crazy genetic experiments to create people.

We need a federal law like Missouri's cloning law, that prohibits creating babies any way other than joining a man's sperm and a woman's egg. This is needed to preserve the right to use our own genes and prevent coercive eugenics.

Now, though banning genetic modification will mean that people only have conception rights with someone of the other sex, that difference in rights presents a great opportunity to resolve the marriage debate.

The Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise is a package of three laws for Congress to pass all at once. The first law is the "egg and sperm law" I just described. The second law would affirm that all marriages are allowed to conceive children together using the couple's own genes. The third law would replace DOMA by federally recognizing state Civil Unions as marriages if they are defined as "marriage minus conception rights" so that they prohibit attempting to conceive instead of protecting the right to conceive. Together, these preserve marriage as a man and a woman without the need for a constitutional amendment and for a rational reason, and give same-sex couples equal protections and federal protections and set a template for every state to create uniform civil unions, and (most importantly) stop the Brave New World of genetic engineering and preserve natural conception rights.

I think this is the only resolution that will bring about any happiness, and indeed I think it will bring about great happiness. It will be much easier for gay people to accept Civil Unions if they agree there ought to be a difference in rights, and traditional marriage people won't be threatened by Civil Unions or gay people once they are assured that marriage is protected, and everyone will start to get along. Only the Transhumanists will be upset, but they'll always have their Star Trek re-runs to keep them happy.

John Howard said...

For the record, allow me to copy your response to On Lawn at Opine Editorials regarding this issue:

"If I understand this right, you’re asking about genetic modification that would construct a child from the genetic material of two persons of the same sex. I have a visceral revulsion for the concept. Beyond my emotional reaction, my reason tells me that this is so unnatural, the outcome so uncertain, the risk so great and the reward so limited in comparison, that it is not worth contemplating. Ethically, I believe that tampering with human life when no consent is possible to this extent is inexcusable. I don’t know of anyone who has even considered such an idea."

So, you seem to agree that it is not a good thing, but will you agree that it should be banned? Will you agree that people should have a right with someone of the other sex they shouldn't have with someone of their own sex?

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our