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This will be brief...

Tonight is bitter sweet for me. Sweet because our long-fought battle is finally nearing an end -- equality for all. What a celebration we are having for what should have been a basic human right from the beginning. It's long overdue, but we'll take it just the same.

Sadly, it's also bitter because one of the woman that I'd like to share this with - my "other mother" - isn't with us to night to taste victory.

For this reason, I have two diving issues in my political activism that are both energized by today's rulings.

First...I grew up in a "gay " household... I not only had a mother, who was of course a very important figure in my life (and still is). I also had an "other" mother, who was just as important in the day-to-day operations of my life - and in the block-by-block, year-by-year development of a foundation that has guided me forward into the unknown future.

Of course, I had other influential people in my life - my father, my grandparents - but they did not experience the same type of bigotry and restrictions that my mother and other-month faced, so they will not figure as prominently in this diary.

See, my mother and my other mother were never allowed to marry. They did not experience the legal protection that other families (whether viable or not) received. This uncertainty added unneeded stress to our little ship of a family as we were tossed through the difficult seas of simply growing up and learning to live together.

So, one of the driving issues of my adult life has long been equality. It hurts me every day that my mother and other-mother couldn't experience the same rights and benefits and recognition as my friends' parents, simply because of who they loved --  and how our backwards government and religious institutions chose to interpret their love.

Today, we won over that ignorance and bigotry. Though we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality, we have taken a strong step in establishing that marriage is a civic contract taken between people who wish to commit to one other in a special bond. It does not have to be religious in nature (though it can be). It's simply a legally recognized commitment to support one another (and to one another's offspring), to grow with one another, to enjoy one another, and to be recognized as equal with one another. It seems to me like it's not too much to ask...

Sadly, for some, it is too much to give. My neighbor, for example, feels that his marriage has been indelibly cheapened by this ruling. I can't bring myself to ask him how (or even talk to him at all, really), but to him, it's real. I feel or him. I really do. I also wonder if he's ever felt for me. More specifically, I've always wondered if the other side, like my neighbor, knew the consequences of their bigotry... Sadly, tonight, after reading some of the vitriol on redstate and other sites, I have come to the conclusion that they know, but they just don't care..

They know that the fact that mother and other mother couldn't be married marked me as separate and different from the other kids, but they don't care....for example, when I was doing a 12th grade choir concert and my other mother couldn't attend because she wasn't "family" according to the rules at the time. The other side just didn't't care. They didn't't care that my mother wasn't always able to be at my other mother's side during medical emergencies, though thanks to those radicals in California, this wasn't always as challenging an issue as it might have been elsewhere. The didn't care that I couldn't progress from the cub scouts to the boy scouts because I didn't have a "regular" father. Yes, the other side just doesn't care. They know that at my other mother's funeral - yes, she died - more on that below - we didn't have the same access to her body or belongings as a "regular" married couple and family might have had. They know that this was hurtful, yet they didn't care. In fact, they seem to revel in it, and for this they have earned my undying hatred (see other posts on that topic from this evening).

In the end, what the so-called right doesn't seem to understand is that it wasn't my parents' relationship that made me different, it was the religious right's restrictions on my parents' relationship that made the difference. Perhaps, today, that will start to change.

I mentioned above that my activism has 2 driving forces. The other one is gun violence. See, given the bigotry and the hatred and the challenges that my other mother faced throughout her life, she found herself in a very difficult situation...trapped by alcoholism on the one hand and unrelenting bigotry on the other, she ultimately took her own life. I cry every time I hear the right-wing gun fetishists point out that some percentage of the gun violence in our country is "just" people committing suicide. They don't seem to care that those are real people, who live real lives, and who meant something to somebody - perhaps the world to them... but their lives were burdened and they saw no other way out. The are not just statistics. They are a loss for a family (whether the right recognizes it as such or not)...they are a loss to a child who depended upon that other mother.

I pray that nobody should have to suffer the loss that I suffered when my other mother took her life, in part because of the challenges she faced in our society.

And, I pray that no other mother will suffer the challenges that my other mother faced simply because of who she was and who she loved.

We can fix these evils in our society. Perhaps today was a step in the right direction. When I raise this last glass of wine for the evening (out of several), this is what I will pray for - that people will learn from these righteous decisions...not react, knee-jerk fashion to undo them because of personal discomfort...but step in to the shoes and the lives of people like me and see that, without my other mother, I would have not have become who I am today... And, without my other mother, I feel a hole in my life that cannot be filled.

She would have enjoyed the party tonight, so I hereby dedicate my little corner of it to her. Barb, I hope you're reading the Kos from wherever you are...We're all on your side. Times are changing. And I still love you.

Originally posted to gr8trtl on Wed Jun 26, 2013 at 09:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), Shut Down the NRA, New Diarists, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  by the way... (16+ / 0-)

    i just recently explained to my two teenage daughters why this issue was so important to me...i told them that I was raised in a gay household and that their grandmother was bisexual. One said, and I quote, "Well, we knew that..."  and the other, younger one said, "That cool with us." It was such a complete non-issue. I was proud of them, and grateful... It gave me the opportunity to share some important reminiscences about growing up with Barb that I hadn't discussed before...like a whole new part of my life was opened to them. They were glad to hear about it...I was more glad to be able to share it. Her life was worth sharing, for it helped make me who I am today. I'm grateful, but still sad that she missed the party today...

    everything is a mixed blessing.

    •  Thanks for adding that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      It's so encouraging and I'm deeply touched that it was something you kept to yourself until you felt they were old enough to understand it.

      They sound like wonderful young women.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 03:47:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i edited your tags (7+ / 0-)

    first diary.

    thank you for writing.  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 01:39:58 AM PDT

  •  What a lovely tribute. (4+ / 0-)

    I am so sorry both your mothers aren't here to raise a glass in person with you.  

    I cannot know your pain over your other mother's suicide, but as someone who was widowed at a young age I have a sense of your mother's pain.  My heart goes out to you both.

    One question:

    I couldn't progress from the cub scouts to the boy scouts because I didn't have a "regular" father.
    This just shows my ignorance of the Boy Scouts.  A boy has to have a father to progress from Cubs to Boy Scouting?  Would the same barrier be encountered by a widow's son?  

    Peace be with you all.

  •  Today I am thinking of Harry&Steve (8+ / 0-)

    I am gay, but totally single, so yesterday's rulings, while uplifting and wonderful, have no specific impact on my life right now. So I am thinking of my great-uncle and his "roommate," who were together for 40 years. They met in the Marines during Korea (although neither was in that conflict) and were together the rest of their lives - with the whole family playing a version of DADT (e.g., both men were invited to family weddings - separately of course - and would decline to attend but would send a fabulous gift - jointly of course). Steve was 10 years younger than my great-uncle, and he nursed Harry for years before he passed away - just like Edie and Thea. Yet when Harry died, Steve was treated as a legal stranger, to the point the hospital tried to bar him. I have never seen my grandmother angrier than when she informed my Dad how Steve had been treated (and how she told the hospital off so he could stay with Harry at the end).

    Both of these men are gone today, and would likely be amazed to see the country embracing the LGBT community so broadly. In their day, they were simply happy to be left alone to live their lives.

    A government that denies gay men the right to bridal registry is a facist state - Margaret Cho

    by CPT Doom on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 09:09:42 AM PDT

  •  beautiful first diary. (5+ / 0-)

    from someone who was also raised by two women (tho I rarely speak about here) and as a gay man, thank you for posting this.

    keep writing :-)

    every adult is responsible for every child

    by ridemybike on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 09:26:26 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for writing this. There must be a human (5+ / 0-)

    face to the suffering that was caused by bigotry and ignorance and political pandering.

    I remember too many young men who died scared and alone and reviled by "polite society" for being the men they were born to be.

    I'm glad we righted a wrong. I dedicate it to those who aren't here to see it.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 10:02:35 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for your post and sorry for the pain (6+ / 0-)

    that you had with your mother's suicide - it is tough enough to deal with the death of a parent, so I cannot imagine suicide.

    I believe in individual rights to own firearms (in spite of what some of the gun fetishists say about me), but I also believe that we need real, uniform and effective regulations.  A great start would be:

    1) Licensing
    2) Registration
    3) Full background checks on every sale transfer

    I realize that those will probably do very little to stop a person that already has a gun from committing suicide, but if a person has mental issues perhaps their healthcare providers can check to see if they have a gun in their house (the old fashioned way usually worked with doctors just asking, but the NRA has passed laws in some states that makes it illegal for doctors to ask anyone if there are any guns in their house).

    Another effect of the regulations would be that the number of illegal guns would (over time) be reduced.  Right now the so called "gun show loophole" makes it perfectly legal for an individual or a private dealer to sell to anyone (including felons, gang members and others that should not be able to get their hands on them).  How the hell is it possible that someone can sell a gun to a felon without breaking the law?  (Sure the felon is breaking the law by buying it, but the seller did absolutely nothing wrong since they are not required to even ask anything of the buyer - unless they are an FFL.)  We know that fewer guns will mean fewer households with guns and that the likelihood of someone committing suicide if there is a gun in the house is many times higher than when there is not.

    I have yet to have any gun enthusiast tell - or anyone else for that matter - tell me how any of the regulations I propose violate anyone's rights (constitutional or other). I am still waiting, but I have a feeling that I will wait for a very long time and never hear a cogent explanation of how any of those violate anyone's rights.

    On your first topic - sorry my ADD mind got me writing the comment on your second point - I am so glad that we all get to celebrate equality.  I am a straight man.  My best friend and my "baby" brother are gay, but I was a strong supporter of gay rights long before either one came out (or I had suspicions). How can anyone not be for equality? I cannot comprehend.  Other than my wife and me, I don't care about anyone else's sexuality or sexual life - it is none of my business, just like it is no one's business (but the two of us) what goes on in our bedroom. I can't wait for the day when we don't judge an athlete by whether he's gay or straight but by how good they are at their sport, same things goes for actors and everyone else. If people must be judged, they should be judged for their contributions to their families, their communities and society in general. We have come a long way, but we are not even close to done - bigotry is everywhere (not just against LGBT people, just look at what the SCOTUS did to the VRA) and we must continue to call out bigots to shame them.

    By the way, great first diary!

  •  gr8trtl: What an incredibly moving diary. (5+ / 0-)

    I've had to deal with all the above issues in our family.

    So sorry for your loss. So tragic but glad you write about and share your hard experiences so we can all learn from them.

    That's why at one time the battle in the US we were considering  banning all handguns in the '60's --- hard to believe we can't even pass a simple background check bill nowadays.

    The one-time five day waiting period for buy a gun saved one of our family members several years ago. Wish the waiting period was still in effect today.

    Really hard for the RW haters to understand until they find out one of the family members are gay like has happened to many RW politicians who have now changed their stance.

    The younger generation has so much more accepting or as my teenage son says:

    "Dad, we are so over that stuff."

    Most of the younger generation accept everyone and are much more tolerant.

    Fighting Liberal at
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” --Gandhi:

    by smokey545 on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 11:44:01 AM PDT

  •  What a beautiful and heart warming (3+ / 0-)

    diary. Thank you so much for sharing and for honoring your other mother this way. Very, very touching.

    I reposted your diary to the New Diarists group. But I'm not an editor, so one of the groups editors will publish it.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 03:57:50 PM PDT

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DefendOurConstitution, WakeUpNeo

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 04:01:43 PM PDT

  •  I share your concern with gun violence (4+ / 0-)

    and have been speaking out about firearm suicides. IMO, they are every bit as tragic as other firearm deaths, but because of our societal ignorance and fear many people prefer to ignore or dismiss them.

    Please allow me to repost my prior comment about gun suicides.

    What's the bottom line?
    The cost of gun violence is born by those who survive, those who must pick up the pieces of shattered lives; that may be the person who survived a gunshot, or it may be those who survive the deceased.

    In much of our discussion of firearm death, we speak of gunshot victims in terms of a binary function - did they die on the spot or did they survive. But that is only because the finality of death makes the reporting of it much more timely (usually). The authorities must be called. Next of kin must be notified. Someone must determine the probable cause of death. Accident? Suicide? Homicide?

    Of course there are other factors that influence whether someone will survive a gunshot, such as access to state of the art medical care.

    A few weeks ago the Washington Post published an analysis of firearm suicides, a topic that is difficult for many people to talk about, and compared their findings side by side with homicide data.

    Gun deaths shaped by race in America
    By Dan Keating, Updated: March 22, 2013

    Gun deaths are shaped by race in America. Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else.
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 1 (Image 2)
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 1
    The article nails one of the most confounding features of suicide, an aspect that many people find hard to understand, unless they've experienced the dynamic of suicide up close and personal themselves, or with someone they know well.
    The impulse to commit suicide has been described as a trance, and the speed and lethality of a gun make it harder to interrupt the trance. Attempts at suicide are more than 20 times as likely to be fatal when a gun is used.

    (Harvard School of Public Health, Case Fatality Ratio by Method of Self-Harm, United States, 2001).

    The article maps the origins of our national divide on gun safety and breaks out some key findings state-by-state, as gun deaths per 1 million people.
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 3 (Image 4)
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 3
    "Gun deaths in urban areas are much more likely to be homicides, while suicide is far and away the dominant form of gun death in rural areas. States with the most guns per capita, such as Montana and Wyoming, have the highest suicide rates; states with low gun ownership rates, such as Massachusetts and New York, have far fewer suicides per capita."
    For more detail, they created an interactive map, Gun suicide and homicide: statistics shaped by race. Note: All charts show age-adjusted rate per 1 million people unless noted.

    The summary captures why it is so hard for us to reach agreement about new legislation.

    Contrasting life experiences, whether from a family member’s suicide or the death of a relative in a homicide, drive the nation’s split over an essential element of the gun debate: Would fewer guns save lives? Survivors of homicide victims consistently tell pollsters that the answer is yes, but the response to suicide is different.
    “We have less empathy with those who take their own lives,” said Sean Joe, an expert on suicide and violence at the University of Michigan. “So we don’t have the same national outcry. The key argument for me is that increased access to firearms increases suicide and homicide.”
    Suicide frightens us. Sometimes, it makes us feel impotent, or guilty. We often wonder if there was some way we could have known, or something we could have done. Like homicide, the forward costs of attempted gun suicides are born by the survivors, who too often must also bear extra burdens of shame and regret.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 04:07:52 PM PDT

  •  What a tragedy. I am so sorry for what (4+ / 0-)

    our country did to your family, and to so many others. Thank you for sharing your Other Mother with us today. I hope this step forward may bring her, if she is watching from somewhere - and you - some way toward resolution. There is much work left to do, but that can wait till after that glass of wine.

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 04:21:06 PM PDT

  •  Obviously, Barb's life mattered, a great deal. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    Thank you, gr8trtl, for sharing both your joy and sorrow.

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