Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Death Rattle of the Anti-Gay Movement?

As we reported in exhaustive detail late Friday night, the New York state senate voted 33-29 to legalize marriage equality. Governor Cuomo has signed the bill. In fewer than 30 days, same-gender couples will be able to marry legally in New York state.

Once the law goes into effect, the number of people living in states with marriage equality will double. Yes, dykes: double. Moreover, dykelets, New York is the largest state to achieve marriage equality through the legislative process.

But that ain’t all!

No, ladies, that ain’t all. Because it’s not just about size, right? (A wink and a nod to our straight lady readers.) The symbolism of it seems to be pretty damn powerful. People have predicted that this may be a tipping point in the battle for LGBT equality.

Some unusual things happened this time. For one, the state legislature, not the courts, made marriage equality law; for another, four Republicans broke ranks and voted for same-gender marriage; and for another, the bishops and the National Organization for Marriage pulled out all the stops and still didn’t win. This is especially significant in New York, where the bishops have traditionally exerted a strong influence on state politics. Oh, also, this battle the Catholic bishops lost was spearheaded by Catholic laypeople.

As Jamie L. Manson writes in the National Catholic Reporter, the passage of the marriage equality bill in New York represents a big, public, and ugly defeat of the NY bishops by Catholic laity. Catholics in elected office were key players in the fight for marriage equality: Andrew Cuomo, Daniel O’Donnell, Joseph Alesi, and Tom Duane among them. And as we learned from the Public Religion Research Institute’s report this year, the Catholics like the gays and also they would like us to have rights.

The bishops are not happy about this. Bishops don’t like being disobeyed, but they really, really don’t like being publicly defied. And now, they and their conservative supporters are freaking out. No, really.

A senior adviser to the Vatican, Prof. Edward Peters, wants Andrew Cuomo investigated by the Catholic Church and denied communion for his support for marriage equality, in the hopes that this punishment might “serve as an example” to other politicians considering support for same-sex marriage.

Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn, in a not rare burst of hyperbole, called marriage equality “another ‘nail in the coffin’ of marriage,” and asked Catholics in his diocese “not to bestow or accept honors, nor to extend a platform of any kind to any state elected official, in all our parishes and churches for the foreseeable future.”

The National Organization for Marriage, which I would never have accused of being moderate, reasonable, or respectful in its rhetoric anyway, has some unusually strong feelings about this. See, for example, NOM’s website as of the last few days. In white letters across a red and black graphic that looks like it was plagiarized from “Dateline,” the message reads: “Help us Defeat the New York Senators That Betrayed Marriage.”

Now, NOM has a multi-million dollar budget, and I personally would have hoped that one of the interns might have had the gumption to point out, as politely as possible, that the sentence really ought to read, “Help Us Defeat the New York Senators Who Betrayed Marriage.” But no matter. The point is, they’re pledging $2,000,000 to send those marriage-betrayin’ sonsabitches home. So there!

Finally, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who used his official blog to make the infamous North Korea comparison, posted a link last night to a National Review article by George Weigel, in which Archbishop Dolan himself is cited, and in which Weigel argues that marriage equality legislation is not only not libertarian, but actually represents the use of “coercive state power,” not unlike that used to impose racial segregation.

No, you’re not reading The Onion. That is indeed his argument.

After he or she finishes being offended by Weigel’s attempt to pit sexual minorities and racial minorities against each other with a hierarchy of oppression, the reader is left to wonder how Weigel imagines the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Brown v. Board of Education took effect. Weigel doesn’t go into that. He writes simply, “Once the American people came to see that [segregation], however hallowed by custom (and prejudice), [was], in fact, unnatural and not obvious, the law was changed.” No mention of who changed it, how, or in spite of what resistance. No mention of necessary government action to address inequality. Not important! The gays are like the segregationists! Done!

It is also worth noting that Weigel characterizes the movement for marriage equality as an expression of “the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality,” and writes that the “viciousness visited upon Archbishop Dolan” stands as “yet another testimony to the totalitarian impulse that lurks beneath the gay marriage movement.”

Why do I bore you with this information, you ask? Because it’s crazy. It’s extreme. It’s over the top. It’s undignified.

And it’s encouraging.

We are not hearing the thoughtful–or even emotional–objections of people who think they’ve still got a fighting chance. We are witnessing, rather, the full-on, kicking and screaming temper tantrums of people who recognize that marriage equality in New York is a tipping point in the debate to which some of them have dedicated their careers, and on which some of them have built their public profiles.

We are witnessing, I think and I hope, the beginnings of the loud, teary, vindictive death rattle of the anti-equality movement.

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Live in Sin No More, New York Ladygays! NY Senate Approves Marriage Equality, 33-29

After long deliberations that had me thinking that New York would see flake-outs of the variety that killed marriage equality in Maryland this year, four Republicans jumped on the gaymo wagon and passed the same-gender marriage bill.

Rent a tux, buy a ring, and enjoy the awkwardness of having to choose amongst your many lesbian photographer friends–marriage equality is coming to New York.


The Folksy-Industrial Complex

Marriage equality seems like a real possibility in New York, with only one more vote needed in the State Senate. The bill has stalled, however, as religious leaders call for more “carve-outs.” I’m hopeful, but it’s far from certain that the bill will pass. Recall that marriage equality looked almost inevitable in Maryland earlier this year, too, until some highly bizarre last-minute flake-outs from a handful of Democrats shelved the bill till the next legislative session.

Ultimately, the Maryland Catholic Conference–through no lack of time, money, or lobbying on its part–played a smaller role than socially conservative preachers from some black churches in Prince George’s County in derailing same-gender marriage legislation in Maryland. But the MCC was, as state Catholic conferences always are, a major player in the fight against marriage equality. And the institutional Church is an even bigger player, it seems, in New York.

Yes, some conservative Protestant and Orthodox Jewish leaders in New York are fighting marriage equality, too, but the loudest and folksiest voice has been that of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, recently-elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and down-home, Midwestern back-slapper extraordinaire.

Let me tell you what I hate, ladies. Let me tell you what I have no time for. I have no time for the use of a folksy, chortling, beer swilling, man-of-the-people act to make one’s political or religious severity more palatable. I don’t like it when Sarah Palin does it. I don’t like it when Mike Huckabee does it. And I for damn sure don’t like it when Timothy Dolan does it. It gives me the creeps, and it insults my intelligence. The only thing more offensive than the charade itself is the underlying assumption that people are buying it.

Beyond making right-wing severity easier to swallow, though, the good ole boy act provides a cover for intellectual dishonesty. It lets politicians (and you don’t get to be Archbishop, much less president of the USCCB, without being a politician) put forth disingenuous arguments and still seem like decent, honest guys. It lets them advance disparaging and discredited stereotypes about groups of people–in this case, the gays–without seeming mean-spirited. Because, gee, they’re not trying to hurt anybody. They’re just good, simple, traditional folks.

I like examples, dykes. Allow me to share a few.

From the May 13, 2011 post on the official blog of the Archbishop of New York:

We are not anti anybody; we are pro-marriage.  The definition of marriage is a given:  it is a lifelong union of love and fidelity leading, please God, to children, between one man and one woman.

History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so.  The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.

In case you missed it, the Archbishop–heir to the 2,000-year-old Catholic intellectual tradition–just appealed to “gumption” as a source of moral authority in his argument against a piece of proposed legislation. Is this the way we honor the legacy of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. Catherine of Sienna, and Erasmus?

Okay.

I should also mention that, a couple of paragraphs later, Archbishop Dolan characterizes marriage equality legislation as “Orwellian social engineering.” He uses that term about as appropriately as Sarah Palin did.

It’s been over a month since his post on gumption and Orwell. On June 14, he posted once again on marriage.

Oh boy.

“The stampede is on,” his post begins. I won’t go through and discuss the whole thing–Mary Hunt nailed it today in her post for Religion Dispatches. But there’s one paragraph in particular that I must share. Apparently unsatisfied with the extent of his earlier hyperbole, the Archbishop writes:

Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea.  In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law.  There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.

Yes, dykes. The effort to expand the legal definition of marriage in New York state through the democratic legislative process, in a way that is supported by public opinion, is equivalent to the “communiqués” sent out by the totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorship of North Korea.

The Archbishop does not possess a subtle or scholarly mind. His arguments are at best, weak, and at worse, deliberately misleading. And while his cringe-inducing Regular Joe persona indicates to me that he does not wish to be mistaken for an intellectual, it is equally clear to me that Timothy Dolan is not stupid.

He just thinks you are.


Bring Your Dyke to Mass, Part II: Smells and Bells

Don’t think you can get away with smelling ripe on Sunday just because Father Whatshisface will be swinging the incense all willy nilly. When you bring your dyke to Mass, you best bring her smelling good.

Now, dykes, I don’t mean to scold. I know you’d like to attend to your olfactory situation, but you don’t want to smell like a funeral home or a goddam cucumber melon salad–hence you avoid women’s fragrances. At the same time, it can feel awkward to stand shoulder to shoulder with a khaki-clad man your dad’s age at the pharmacy, clearly considering the same bottle of Aqua Velva aftershave, or–to your shame as well as his–the same bottle of Axe.

Confidence, homos! I, too, have been there. May I share a story? Gather round.

Just recently, while grocery shopping with a good Catholic straight woman, I hit the sale aisle, and oh boy. Glassware, shampoo, hair gel, and body wash. Here I was, in need of body wash, and a big ole bottle of it was on sale. On sale, dykes! It was red and bulky and cost-effective–clearly a men’s product.

But I worried. Yes, dykes. Worried that it might seem a tad peculiar to take it; worried that I was overdoing it.

What to do? In a moment of extreme neuroticism, I tucked it oh-so-sneakily under my arm with a bottle of gender-conforming shampoo (also on sale), hoping to conceal the purchase from my friend. It was only a few short minutes later, on the salsa aisle, when she turned to me and said, “Did you get a bottle of man body wash and try to hide it from me?” that I realized just how asinine this was.

Did she care that I bought man body wash? She did not. Did she think it was rigoddamdiculous (I’m paraphrasing) that I tried to hide a body wash purchase from her? Affirmative. Yes indeed she did.

I was being sneaky about body wash. Body wash, I say! What foolishness.

The body wash in question was Old Spice Classic Body Wash. When I saw it in the sale section that fateful evening, I already had Old Spice on the brain. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and it’s pretty decent. The smell of it is definitely masculine–at first it was a little too manly for me, to tell you the truth. But it has grown on me. It smells clean without smelling like flowers or detergent, and that’s basically what I was looking for.

I’ve also got a can of Old Spice After Hours Body Spray. This smells different. Less old man-ish. But not like flowers, not like detergent, so it is A-OK with this ladygay.

But enough of that. I’m not really here to tell you what to buy so much as to say: Do you, dykes; do you. Because nobody cares. As long as you’re a clean, mean, lezzing machine come Sunday mornin, it doesn’t matter what set of chromosomes your personal hygiene  products are supposed to go with. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: confidence. You’ve got to bring your dyke to Mass with confidence.


This Dyke and Her Good Catholic Mom

Well, queers, it’s Pride season and like any other good Catholic dyke I’ve been hitting the town (although not quite as hard as the Lady, aka the Almighty, might like, but hey, we do our best). My most recent bout around town was a trip to the local dyke watering hole; which here in DC we lovingly refer to it as ‘The Phase’.  In true L word fashion, the Phase was hosting a jello wrestling competition (read: an excuse to charge a $10 cover so a bunch of lezzies can watch scantily clad women rolling on top of one another in a bunch of  liquid) in honor of Pride month.

Fellow dykes, I must say that this was quite the treat. In fact, I’d personally like to give a special shout out to Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Heaven. I’m pretty sure she took a good ‘ol look at my Rosary account and, upon noticing that I have amassed a sizeable amount of Hail Marys, decided she would let me cash in by giving me a front row seat to the babe-on-babe fest. Amen.

Now, I’m sure ya’ll are expecting video clips and/or photos with prime shots of the lady action, but that won’t be happening because I simply don’t have those. I’m much too respectful of boundaries and too sensitive as a feminist to exploit women at that level. I, also, don’t own a fancy phone with quality picture takin’ capabilities (and I might’ve left the jello wrestling event a tad early in order to pursue my ladycrush who was waiting in line outside of the bar, so…)

Moving on to the actual point of this entry: why my mother is hilarious.

As I was wandering the streets of the city before my night of debauchery, I made a phone call to my beloved, unsuspecting parents. It went a little something like this:

(for the sake of my anonymity, let’s pretend my name is something really Catholic like Agnes and that my dad’s name is Joseph)

Me: Yo, mama, what’s going on?

Mother: Hello, Agnes, what are you up to tonight?

Me: Um, going to meet up with some friends at…a bar.

Mother: Oh, that sounds like fun.

Me: (inner dialogue: eh, what the fuck, why not?) Yeah, actually it’s a lesbian bar. They are hosting a jello wrestling tournament tonight in honor of it being Pride and all.

Mother: Oh. Well, that sounds interesting.

Me: I’m pretty pumped it should be a good time, I hope.

Mother: Oh, Agnes, you are a character. Actually, you know I just don’t see how that could be interesting. I mean, I understand going out to the bar, but I just don’t get the wrestling thing.

Me: I think there’s a distinct possibility that it will be interesting, Mom.

Mother: How is that interesting?

Me: Could you ask Dad if he thinks watching women in underwear wrestling each other in a pool of jello would be interesting?

Mother: Calls to my father: Joe! Joe! Agnes wants to know what you think about women wrestling in jello. Why don’t you just talk to her yourself? Tries to give my father the phone.

Me: cringes while imagining discussing practically naked women with her father (inner dialogue: please, please, don’t take the phone, dad. PLEASE.)

Mother: Well, he just won’t take the phone. I guess that could be fine, Agnes. I just don’t think I would like watching men wrestling each other.

Me: Hm, really?

Mother: You and your sister are just opening me up to all sorts of things. I am just learning so much.

Me: I hope that’s a good thing?

Mother: Yeah, well, sure. I guess it might be. Sure.

Ladygays, my beautiful Midwestern Catholic (once Southern and Protestant before her imminent conversion and homecoming to Holy Mother Church) mother:

a) couldn’t fathom what could possibly be interesting about women wrestling each other and

b) wanted to me to have an actual conversation with my father about it.

Yikes, dykes. Yikes. Counting my blessings and doing a sign of the cross accompanied by a chorus of sighs of relief. Thank the Lady for my father’s discretion.

That’s all I have for now, folks. This sisterqueer hopes that you might have such a conversation with your parents someday. Good luck with all future endeavors of this nature and feel free to ask us GCDs for advice when needed.

Happy Pride, ya’ll!

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