Is Gay the New Black?

Is Gay the New Black?

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

June 27, 2013

Dearest Rachel…

It is me, Betsy. I am writing to say Congratulations to you and all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans.  It has been a great week for all our LBGT brethren. Sadly, it is a little less so for those whose complexion is Black or Brown.  What or who am I kidding? It has been an awful week for America as a whole.  Once again, we have done as we did since the day of our founding; we denied our brothers and sisters equal rights.  I hope you understand that while I too think anytime rights are afforded to an individual or group it is a good time, a time to celebrate, this week I cannot. Indeed, I do not see a day when I will reflect on this Court’s rulings and be ready, willing, and able to rejoice.

Affirmative Action lost.  The inalienable right to cast a ballot for your Representatives, gone!  It was not that either of these laws, in practice, ever brought about equality, but a girl can dream.  I had hope.  Now, I do not.  Today, my heart broken, I can only reflect on the old adage; if my brother is poor or in pain then so too am I.  John Donne spoke for me when he said “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I am unsure if you are with me Rachel.  I listened to your review of the week and felt confused.  Therefore I ask.  On Thursday, June 27, 2013, you spoke of the angst yourself. You recounted the woe millions of California voters expressed on election night 2008. First there was elation; the first Black man was elected President of the United States.   It seemed we had arrived. It was as you exclaimed. a “civil rights milestone.” People took to the streets and danced.  Corks were popped.  Confetti fell from sky-high windows.  Then, as more ballots were tallied, a dark realization set in.  In California, marriages once declared legal would not be going forward. As you stated, “That whiplash moment, that California, alone, experienced the night 
President Obama was first elected,” was devastating. Perhaps, the man in the video clip you played this Thursday evening said it best for the LBGT community.

“In 2008 when we elected the first African-American 
president, it was a glorious day, but later that night it was a horrible night when the returns for Prop 8 came in saying that we were going to be 
treated as second-class citizens, and we just could not fathom being 
treated like that anymore.”

Therein lies the difference Rachel, one of many that I see.  People of color can fathom being treated like scum.  Granted persons in the LBGT community can too.! That said, the two experiences are not one.  The color of our skin cannot be camouflaged. Sexual orientation is perhaps but a subtle “clue.”  In other words, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders come out of the closet.  Blacks and Browns are more likely to be invited into the [water] closet to clean the mess white persons’ leave behind.  Caucasians can be so cruel, as can those of a certain socio-economic “class.”  I guess anyone can be.

Thus, I ask; do we celebrate our own victories and ignore the victimization of others?  ‘Tis true, we can delight in one while decrying the other.  It is the imbalance I bemoan.  I too, as the millions of others did, expressed elation for the decisions that brought good fortune to the LBGT community. I also cried and cried tears of distress.  For me, the long history of struggles is barely equivalent.  I am forlorn and again befuddled as I reflect on your review of the week.

Oh Rachel, after the aforementioned clip you said,  “Now, this week, we are essentially having the mirror image of that [2008] moment, 
thanks to the Supreme Court. “  Really?  Seriously?  Rachel, for me, what occurred in this, the last week of June is not the image in reverse.  The decision on the Voting Rights Act is, as you also stated in the next sentence, “a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of American civil rights law.”  However, sadly, it has not elicited a similar response.  With the race related rulings we heard silence or worse; endorsement for the now “Supremely” sanctioned divide.

Conservatives did not object. Liberals barely said a word.  States shouted, but in glee.  Loss of Affirmative Action and Voting Rights?  ‘It is as though the country as one said, Oh well.’  Gay rights on the other hand brought out the best in people.  Beginning years ago, Dick Cheney, made it known that he supports gay marriage.  The Democratic elite such as the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “came out” with her own declarative statement.  Legislators within Grand Ole Party chimed in.  They too were there to support gay marriage.  The reactions to racism are not as strong as we think they might be.  I think of your own response Rachel and say “Wow!”

I was not surprised that white families, the wealthy and powerful did not take up the banner. Here in Florida, when the elderly and well-established citizens were purged from voting rolls few voices were heard.  Certainly States did not complain.  Eliminate the Black and Brown vote? That works well for Republican Governors.  Measures were and are already underway.   The “new prejudice”  persists and is supported. Black and Brown persons are not.  Their  second-class” citizenship is the accepted standard.  Their “forgiveness is just expected.”

Equality? First-Class citizenship?  Rarely. Barely. Quite the contrary.

Oh there are the few who appear to have “made it.”  We might cite President Obama, General Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, or, hmmm? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?  I wonder. Put any of these in casual clothes, without the accoutrement of an office and might they be stopped and frisked, arrested for Driving-While-Black, or conceivably denied their right to vote? Oh Rachel, for me there is a glaring difference between the fights for rights.

Do you remember the words of the Author, John Howard Griffin, a white man who only occupied a darker skin for a time? I do. “The Negro is treated not even as a second-class citizen but as a tenth-class one.” Granted, times have changed since Griffin penned his words in 1964. Then racism was overt. Today, it is covert and sanctioned by the Highest Court in the Land.   What is it they say Rachel, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”?  That is likely true for those who are born Black, Brown, or on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

Oh I heard the calls.  Beginning in 2008 white citizens proclaimed that we live in a post-racial society. Black Americans on the other hand knew we did not.  Indeed, in 2011 Researchers affirmed for those whose complexion is dark in color, life is hard. Only two years ago, Black Americans said that it is actually worse than it was a score earlier. As of this week, with the Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act, surely it is no better.  The Court’s action is a clear step backwards. In reality, it is a slap in the face or a whip lashing in the back.

Class and color affords access and is the genesis for our attitudes.  I recall the “Roots” of African-American History and the historical origins of homosexual expression.  The former was borne out of enslavement while the later was an outgrowth of greater freedom in society and the workplace.

Rachel, was it Janis Joplin who said it so well? “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose – Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free.”  I wonder; are we to presume that Blacks are now free? There is little left for them to lose. I reflect on self-identity.

You might recall the original Doll Experiment or the more recent 2009 repeat of the research.  The results were the same. In the “Doll Test,” four plastic, diaper-clad dolls, identical in every respect except for color determine racial perception and preferences amongst children.  Regardless of the decade, black children between the ages of three and seven, responded in-kind. Almost all of the children readily identified the race of the dolls. Even the young see color.  When asked which they preferred, the majority selected the white doll and attributed positive characteristics to it. Indeed, the consensus was Black dolls were “bad.”  White dolls are far better.  That is what we teach and affirm through Supreme Court rulings.  Sad; but true.

“Second-class citizenship.”  Children of color know it well, and likely, their children will too.

Bigotry is common, all too common, as are expressions of it.  Therein lie the similarities between the Gay Rights and Black Civil Rights Movements.   Nonetheless, the contrast is stark.   As millions noted, the realization of Gay Rights came quickly.  The Civil Rights Movement, on the other hand,  is riddled with detours, deterrents, disillusionment, and disinvestment. Discrimination never realizes deliverance.  After centuries of sanctioned enslavement, The Emancipation Proclamation, gave way to a failed Reconstruction and another ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson. the landmark Supreme Court decision that held that racial segregation was constitutional. We had the Brown versus Board of Education decision and The Great Society legislation.  Future rulings resulted in their ultimate demise.  The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson returned the dictum, white is again right.

We saw the Voting Rights Act come into being only to be threatened at every turn. Today, well that “right” is lost and Dick Cheney’s endorsement of the  “more civil union [sic]” is nowhere to be found. This essential democratic right is again, and again denied.  We might guess who might be coming to dinner, but we must know that even if it were the first Black American President, he may not be welcome.

Indeed Rachel as we celebrate the rights awarded to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender let us also ask ourselves what is the State of the Union? What if Barack Obama were born today?  Eighteen years from now will a young Barack have the opportunity to attend a college, and were he to run for President, would he himself be allowed to vote? What bell will toll in the next score, and will it toll for thee?

References and Resources…

“Right of Conscience” Protections; Be Patient


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

She said, “If one is to pass, it will have to be my sister.”  Jennifer would not allow a baby to die.  Although the newborn had yet to take a single breath, and was still safely tucked away in her mother’s belly, Jenn decided the infant must live.  Had she been an employee of one of more than 584,000 health-care organizations her word would have been considered a “right of conscience.” Jenn would not be held responsible if she refused to treat the soon-to-be Mom who was also her sibling.

A Bush Administration rule would protect physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who decline to participate in care they think ethically, morally or religiously objectionable, from any repercussions.

Medication, information, or any other assistance need not be given to someone a medical staffer considers immoral.  If the Bush Bill is allowed to stand, those who take the Hippocratic Oath and those who work with Doctors need not do a deed they believe violates personal beliefs.  On December 18, 2008, the White House decreed it would protect all Health Care Workers.  This provision is thought to be a gift from G-d for those who are as Jennifer was, pious believers.

As a devoutly religious soul, when confronted with the choice of who might live or who would die, Jennifer decided the relative she knew and loved for all her life could go.  Jenn announced, “Babs had been a beautiful child, terrific as a teen.  As an adult, Barbara was the best.  Her existence on Earth had been short.”  “Yet,” Jennifer cried with tears in her eyes, “Now, it is time for the baby to realize the joy of an Earthly existence.”  Jennifer had faith.  ‘G-d knows’ were the words she oft uttered.  It is not ours to question why.  “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed me the name of the Lord,” was the sentiment secure in the heart of one who saw herself as mere mortal.

However, hurt by the thought that their beloved Barbara might pass, and Jenn would embrace such an event, relatives attempted to reason with the woman who would refuse her own sister’s life.  Jennifer, certain of her “Right to Conscience,” made it clear she knew.  The baby-to-be must have the same chance to evolve that Barbara had.  She or he, since at that moment the sex of the fetus was unknown, must survive and thrive just as G-d planned.”  Jennifer reminded her relatives, “Barbara was in her twenties,” at the time of this crisis.  Jenn was near thirty, old enough to have experienced life, and established enough to be considered for her wisdom.  The religious woman recognized, she too had rights. Now, under the new Bush Administration imposed rule. Jennifer, or hospital staffs of today, will have more power to exercise their conscience then they had in the past.

Leavitt [Mike Leavitt, Secretary of the Department Health and Human Services, which issued the novel rule] initially said the regulation was intended primarily to protect workers who object to abortion. The final rule, however, affects a far broader array of services, protecting workers who do not wish to dispense birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraceptives and other forms of contraception they consider equivalent to abortion, or to inform patients where they might obtain such care. The rule could also protect workers who object to certain types of end-of-life care or to withdrawing care, or even perhaps providing care to unmarried people or gay men and lesbians.

While primarily aimed at doctors and nurses, it offers protection to anyone with a “reasonable” connection to objectionable care — including ultrasound technicians, nurses aides, secretaries and even janitors who might have to clean equipment used in procedures they deem objectionable.

However, in that moment, , the family was aghast.  They could not come to terms with what Jenn believed best.  Thankfully, Jennifer did not have the authority to choose what would be done, as medical workers might if the “Right to Conscience” is made law.  Family, and the patient herself, had the power to select what for them seemed the best treatment.

Apprehensive, as she contemplated assessments that seemed purely emotional, Jennifer, worked to put her personal feelings aside.  She trusted human sensibilities could not be her priority.    G-d would show her the way.

Her faith in the Almighty, and Jenn’s belief that a new life cannot be aborted, were her only considerations.  She had no animosity towards Barbara, not then, or ever.  Indeed, she loved her sister’s sensational soul.  Even in the moment she declared, it is better that Barbara’s life be sacrificed, Jenn thought of her young sibling as a close friend.  Yet, no matter how she felt about the person who was so real to her, Jennifer was sure G-d would want the newborn to survive.  “He” had given Babs a good life.  Now it was time for her to go home, to be with her savior once more.

It hurt Jenn’s heart to think of her sister’s departure.  When Babs was but a tot, Jennifer, the older sister, served as a second Mom to the sweet little bambina.  She was as fond of Barbara throughout their younger years, just as she was on that day. However, her affection for the woman who now held an infant in her womb could not negate what Jennifer thought G-d had decreed. A new life must not be killed.  

During that turbulent time, Jennifer might have said as Deirdre A. McQuade of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declared when news of the “Right of Conscience” proposal was released. “Individuals and institutions committed to healing should not be required to take the very human life that they are dedicated to protecting.”

This moral, ethical, Christian woman trusted as many do today; people enter this world and then, when they have completed their mission, the Lord invites them to return home to the heavens.  We all must depart when it is our time, Jennifer intellectualized, or justified what she thought to be true.  Had this conversation taken place in late December 2008 any hospital employee, even a hospital custodian could refuse Barbara care.  All those years ago, Jenn was certain she would have let her sister die.  

David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association would concur.  As the “Right of Conscience” becomes reality, a leader of the faithful reminds opponents, “We will do all in our power to ensure that health-care professionals have the same civil rights enjoyed by all Americans. These regulations are needed, do not change the law, but simply stop religious discrimination.”

Jenn did not think she needed to be a victim of circumstance.  She too would wish to invoke her “Right of Conscience.”   She did not share her family’s sense of fairness.  Favoritism for the born seemed principled to one so dutiful.  Jenn thought it essential to honor the divine, and not discriminate against her for the values she held dear.

An allowance for a mother did not make sense to Jenn when she was but a young lovely.  Nor does the unexpected exodus of a baby seem reasonable to the more mature Jennifer.  Nonetheless, the daughter of Eve, who today maintains her faith in Jesus wonders whether a medical professional should have the power to chose what is right for another human being.  At this time in her life, Jennifer fears what would have been had the “protection” for someone such as her been in place.  Today, she inquires; what of the patient.

As she aged, Jennifer experienced what she could not have imagined all those years earlier.  Barbara, who lived, gave birth to one, then another bouncing beautiful baby.  As an Aunt, Jenn learned to love these children as if they were her own.  Upon reflection, she felt sorrow when she thought of what she might have missed had her sister passed.  Time with her treasured sibling Babs had truly been a treasure.

Jennifer also realized she was the Aunt to a lesbian woman.  No, the niece was not Barbara’s daughter.  Jenn’s sister Kathy had two children.  Susan, born before Babs was ever pregnant, developed into an intelligent, insightful, inspirational female whose gender preference was also female.

Years ago the religious person she is would have perhaps rejected and other relative.  However, she could not.  It was never a thought in her mind.  Jennifer helped raise the younger lady, now classified as gay.  Oh, how she was.  Susan was and is a bundle of joy.  Yet, a hospital worker may think her gender preference alone is despicable.  Jenn wondered of the care her loved one might not receive in a time of need.  She knew that a “Right of Conscience” provision might protect a physician, a nurse, a pharmacist or a janitor, but what would become of Susan if she were to be hospitalized or even enter a clinic for emergency care,

Then there was Susan’ significant other to consider.  The two became Mom’s, twice.  Susan carried each child to term.  Their children, conceived through artificial insemination, were the apples of Jenn’s eye.   What might have been were a medical worker to invoke her or his “right of Conscience” when Susan was a patient.  Great Aunt Jennifer shudders to think.  Instead, she takes pleasure in the time she spends with the littlest ones.  She frequently volunteers to baby-sit for children who, had a health care worker snubbed Susan, might not exist.  

Jenn has come to realize she feels no obligation to be there for her family, gay or straight.  She no longer ponders protections from what the Almighty did not prevent.  Her conscience is not troubled by the circumstances.  Jennifer had grown to see G-d, and all life in a different light.  Perchance Jenn thinks, she had become more enlightened.  However, no one could have told her then, when Babs first baby was born, that one day her beliefs might change.

Often, over the years Jenn had to grapple with her truth.  She remained forever faithful to the Lord and his teachings.  Tradition, for her was paramount.  She did not think herself omnipotent; yet, earlier in her life she was certain of what was right.  Her scruples dictated her decisions, and Jenn, of then, was decisive.

Today, as she is confronted with novel truths, she wonders of what might have been the error of her ways.  More than one physician has advised Jenn to seek relief for feminine problems.  Although, she is considered a middle age woman, Jennifer has only engaged in intimate sexual contact with one man, and even then, for only one year of her life.  Near celibate, it has been a score since Jennifer might have thought to use a contraceptive to avoid pregnancy.  Today, however, she is urged to ingest the birth control pill.  Were it not for the pain she experiences without the medication, Jenn would simply say “No!”

After much personal conflict, trials, and tribulations, Jennifer decided she would succumb. Yet, as she attempts to fill her prescription she is confronted with what was once her truth.  Might this believer in G-d repeat, “We reap what we sow.”  Jenn who teaches in a Catholic institution cannot obtain medicine that might prevent fertilization of an egg.  That she has no eggs to fertilize is for her Insurer and employer a moot point.  The Bush Administration thinks the regulations that restrict Jenn are just.

The rule comes at a time of increasingly frequent reports of conflicts between health-care workers and patients. Pharmacists have turned away women seeking birth control and morning-after emergency contraception pills. Fertility doctors have refused to help unmarried women and lesbians conceive by artificial insemination. Catholic hospitals refuse to provide the morning-after pill and to perform abortions and sterilizations.

Experts predict the issue could escalate sharply if a broad array of therapies becomes available using embryonic stem cells, which are controversial because they are obtained by destroying very early embryos. Obama is poised to lift the Bush administration’s restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

“Doctors and other health-care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” said Mike Leavitt, Secretary of the Department Health and Human Services.

As Jennifer reflects, she knows not whether to laugh or cry.  She has rights; she has a conscience.  Yet, she has discovered one may not preclude the other.  She wonders how many will realize as she has before it is too late.  How many might die at the hands of professionals who think themselves principled.

References for Rights and Conscience . . .

Procreate or Annul the Marriage. Washington Initiative

© Copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

After marrying, my Mom tried diligently for four full years to give birth to a child.  She went from specialist to specialist.  Batteries of tests were run, and then, re-run.  Although she and my father were both fertile and they were a couple that thoroughly enjoyed intercourse, they could not seem to produce a baby.  My Mom, a scientist at heart, concluded that perhaps, she was not fecund when most women were.  Perchance her cycle was different.  Once considering that possibility was enough.  From then on, she was able to plan her pregnancies.  My Mom gave birth to three children, none born in the first three years.

Apparently, if a Washington State initiative passes, couples such as my parents would be required to have their marriage annulled.  “Naturally,” gay partnerships, would not, could not be considered.  Obviously, such a union would not be classified as marriage material.  The Religious Right, may have felt embolden after the state Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, however they did not propose a plan to go further.  They did not restrict what constitutes marriage in a manner that might seem feasible to them.  Numerous pious persons say the bible deems the purpose of matrimony is procreation.  Thus, the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance took action.

This organization, [WDMA] has filed papers stating

marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children.  Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as “unrecognized” and people in those marriages would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

Organizer Gregory Gadow proclaimed in a printed statement, “For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation … The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine.  If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.”  As absurd as this measure is, it may have purpose.  Profundity is always welcome and wise, though the dynamics for introducing such depth could go awry.

I have other relatives, friends too, that though bountifully able to produce babies struggled to do so.  Many discovered they could not produce.  For one or both the machinery was not as it was meant to be.  Infertilty is common.  Some couples, when first married cannot afford to give birth to a newborn.  Times are tight.  They plan to become parents; however, for now there is a need to wait.  Many fathers and mothers want to provide a secure and stable home for their offspring.  They are building a nest egg and attempting to establish a foundation.  Furthering their family is in the plans; it will be, though in the future.  First, they need to find the funds.  Down payments on homes are steep.

Some persons purposely choose not to have children.  They may marry late.  They may fear being the best of parents; theirs were not.  There are a myriad of reasons for not bring children into a marriage.

There is much to be considered when preparing for progeny.  Customs and conventions do not always equate to wisdom. 

That being said, I am baffled.  Conservatives claim the Progressives want too much government in their lives.  Yet, when it comes to “privacy” issues, it seems the traditionalists want greater restrictions, even, or especially, in the bedroom.  They actively wish to stamp out sex, unless the intent is to procreate.  The Right seeks to further scrutinize what goes on in the boudoir.

Supporters must gather more than 224,000 valid signatures by July 6 to put the initiative on the November ballot.

Opponents say the measure is another attack on traditional marriage, but supporters say the move is needed to have a discussion on the high court ruling.

Perhaps, enthusiast are not working to change the law.  Perchance they are only wishing to discuss how ridiculous the people in America are.  When, we as a nation, determine the definition for family we forget circumstances within our own.  I understand the logic; I fear unexpected results.

Please peruse the Initiative . . .

Initiative 957
If passed by Washington voters, the Defense of Marriage Initiative would:

  • add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
  • require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
  • require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized”;
  • establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
  • make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.
  • Consider this assessment.  Fewer Americans married with children – Census Bureau statistics show that married people with children account for 25% of American households.  USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education),  Then, make your own.  What does “marriage” mean to you.

    Contemplate the references . . .

  • Wash. initiative would require married couples to have kids.  NorthWest Cable News.  Associated Press.  Tuesday, February 6, 2007
  • Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance.
  • Statement by Gregory Gadow, Sponsor of I-957 (the Defense of Marriage Initiative).  Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance
  • Defense of Marriage Initiative Accepted by Secretary of State  Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance
  • Married Without Children Marriage Partnership.  Christianity Today International  Fall 2003
  • The State of Our Unions, The Social Health of Marriage in America 2006.  Essay: Life Without Children.  By Barbara Dafoe Whitehead Dav.  2006
  • Childless: Some by Chance, Some by Choice,  By Nancy Rome.  Special to The Washington Post. Tuesday, November 28, 2006; Page HE01
  • pdf Childless: Some by Chance, Some by Choice,  By Nancy Rome.  Special to The Washington Post. Tuesday, November 28, 2006; Page HE01