Posted by Brandon Gellis
Dictionary.com defines faith as:
1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2. Belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. Belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
With Judge Walker’s recent ruling to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage, I couldn’t help but think “Finally! A little voice of reason.” Just over a year ago, my partner and I “took the plunge” and unified our lives before family, friends, a rabbi, many random beach goers, and God. With last year’s passing of Proposition 8, Judge Walker’s Wednesday ruling, and the on slot of conservative, right wing opinions again bashing the integrity of equality in the U.S., I am reminded of a simple sentiment, “you’ve got to have faith.”
If living in Laramie has taught me anything it’s about having faith and as with any major milestone in one’s life, moving to Laramie has been trans-formative. Last week I was reminded that even in the most unanticipated ways, having a little bit of faith can go a long way. Recently my hubby and I attended our first gay commitment ceremony in Laramie, which was without a doubt an eye-opener to us both. Even in a small, Western, traditional community like ours, equality can prevail. I am reaffirmed in my belief that with a little bit of faith and patience, a loving home can be established anywhere.
As it turns out faith is a subjective notion and is personal. Naturally I recognize that civil unions, marriage, and domestic benefits are key elements in accepting and celebrating GLBTQ members of society, but I have to say that every little bit is a step forward. I am not naive to believe that our modern day civil rights battle is far from over, but with the recent turn of events in California and here in Wyoming I’ve begun to regain a little bit of faith in humanity.
As my mother said Wednesday of Judge Walker’s ruling, “Its something and it’s a step in the right direction.” Enough small, even baby steps combined can ratify this world, and with one wedding at a time, I look forward to see what’s next.
Well, tomorrow I’m off for a wonderful lesbian wedding in Iowa. I know, Iowa, right? So, until next time, I bid you love, happiness and faith!
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August 4, 2010 | 8:12 pm
Posted by Janelle Eagle
Imagine being treated like a second-class citizen. Denied rights based on the qualities you inherited at birth. Forced to segregate yourself to avoid violence, discrimination, and intolerance. Enduring a legal and political system that excluded you, told you that you were not protected, because a majority of the population surrounding you didn’t believe you had a right to exist. For many in the Jewish Community, this doesn’t have to be imagined- it actually happened in the not-too-distant past (and still occurs for many).
Today, another group of Jews is experiencing this same exclusion every day. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Jewish community in the state of California has been told that they are second-class citizens. That their sexual orientation, which is not chosen- but inherent at birth, is cause for the denial of over 1000 different rights that our heterosexual Jewish friends enjoy (Read about which ones HERE). The courts have repeatedly refused to protect the LGBTQ minority. In 2008, the passage of Prop. 8 put the rights that we have to protect our families into the hands of a majority that does not like us.
Today there is hope in the state of California for the LGBTQ Jewish community and their friends and family. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8), saying the voter-approved rule violates the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. Not just the constitution of the State of California, but the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the constitution of the United States of America.
“This ruling is an incredible step forward in the history of the LGBTQ movement; a Federal Judge has affirmed the validity of families that want to provide for each other, a principle that Judaism upholds. The multitude of Jewish LGBTQ residents of California are one step closer to achieving full equality.” said Asher Gellis, Executive Director of JQ International, a non-profit organization based out of Los Angeles that works to create safe space for LGBTQ Jews and their friends and family.
The judge made this ruling based on whether proposition 8 violated the constitutional rights of equal protection and due process under the law. According to this judge (and many in the LGBTQ Jewish community), Proposition 8 did violate those rights. Here are some of the points made by the judge about his decision:
THE COSTS OF MARRIAGE
“…Proposition 8 increases costs and decreases wealth for same-sex couples because of increased tax burdens, decreased availability of health insurance and higher transactions costs to secure rights and obligations typically associated with marriage. Domestic partnership reduces but does not eliminate these costs….” (PAGES 85-94)
MARRIAGE AS A TOOL FOR PROCREATION
“The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry.” (PAGES 109-114)
MARRIAGE AND RELIGION/MORALS
“Conjecture, speculation and fears are not enough. Still less will the moral disapprobation of a group or class of citizens suffice, no matter how large the majority that shares that view. The evidence demonstrated beyond serious reckoning that Proposition 8 finds support only in such disapproval. As such, Proposition 8 is beyond the constitutional reach of the voters or their representatives.” (PAGES 132-135)
These last two elements of the ruling will surely upset religious individuals throughout the state (and nation) who oftentimes vote based on their morals. The proponents of Prop 8 state, including Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage say that “With a stroke of his pen, Judge Walker has overruled the votes and values of 7 million Californians who voted for marriage as one man and one woman.” The separation between church/temple and state is clearly a hot-button item in this debate.
Quite a bit is happening in the LGBTQ Jewish world to meander that very debate. In June, a historic convening took place in Berkeley in which close to 100 individuals from around the country assembled to discuss the next steps for the movement. Representatives from the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities sat in the same room as those identifying as post or trans-denominational. The entire spectrum of the LGBTQ and straight community attempted to weigh the same contentious rights and principles. How can we create a safe environment for LGBTQ Jews and their friends and family?
Next week, the conversation continues as the World Congress of GLBT Jews will assemble in Los Angeles to share ideas, research, and thoughts while celebrating their identity on an international level. Surely, the decision from Judge Vaughn will color many of the conversations. On an international level, 76 countries declare it “illegal” to be gay. Israel is actually listed as one of the most progressive countries in the world with policies even American Gay Rights advocates would envy such as open military service for LGBTQ Israelis.
It seems pertinent that both of these historic events are taking place in California.
Recently, a Statement of Principles was released by a group of Orthodox rabbis regarding their stance on homosexuality (which when reposted by yours truly, happened to be the most popular & commented-on post in the Jewish Journal’s LGBTQ Blog called “Oy Gay”).
The responses within the Jewish LGBTQ community have been varied, with many feeling impressed by the openness and compassion requested by the Orthodox Rabbis and many wishing they would go further. There are also many in the Jewish community that still view homosexuality as a “shanda” (scandal).
Regardless of whether readers supported or disagreed with the statement, it was clear that the issue struck a chord. Conversations about what to do with our LGBTQ brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, parents and friends are happening all around the Shabbat Dinner table. For many, the fact that these conversations are taking place is in itself an achievement.
When speaking about this issue with a dear friend of mine Rabbi Amitai Adler, he pointed out something that really stuck with me:
“Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel used to say: the world is sustained by three things: by truth, by justice, and by peace, as it is written [Zechariah 8], ‘Truth and judgments of peace shall you adjudicate within your gates.’” It seems like today’s verdict certainly serves all three. And perhaps what is lacking in the Orthodox Statement of Principles is that it may seek peace, and it is perhaps motivated in part by truth, but it achieves little actual justice.
It is perhaps this reason that many LGBTQ Jews and their allies will see today’s ruling as a step forward that gives hope.
I personally hope that the continued debate around this issue in the state of California, on a national scale, and within the Jewish community is handled through a lens infused by the qualities we possess as children of Abraham: mercy and Gimilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness).
May the Jewish Community realize that this is not just an advocacy issue; the protection of all families is a Jewish issue.
Janelle K. Eagle is an openly gay Jewish woman living in Los Angeles. She currently works at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and is a regular contributor to the Jewish Journal’s LGBTQ Blog “Oy Gay.” You can find more of her writing and credits at www.journeywithjanelle.com.
August 4, 2010 | 12:18 am
Posted by Tera Greene
Here we go again.
With bated breath I have waited for this day to come, and the Day of Decision for the federal trial of the Prop 8 challenge will be happening Wednesday Aug. 4, 2010. Why I care so much about this Prop 8 stuff and being on the front lines of it, when I feel like I’m in the back of the line when it comes to finding a true, genuine, loyal and communicative partner of my own, baffles me. It’s almost as baffling as trying to create a great foundation with someone - and it happens -, and then one day you find yourself dumped after a couple of years and the person who used to call you best friend doesn’t even want to say hi or hello once in a while - unless they want something. In a nutshell, the path to finding a love to call your own outside of self love is not always kind nor easy from my perspective; but for some reason, I gotta show up and show my support. It has to do with that little part of me who just can’t come to terms with the fact that I’ll end up alone, or that the silence exuding from the person whom you believe to be your soulmate isn’t because they lied about their ability to commit to anyone and is off flirting with people in spite of what they communicated to you, or did not. I suppose I just believe in love, but more so, I believe in the rights of people to be who they are and if they choose, I believe in their right (rite) to marry whomever they want, without politics. Literally.
I mean, I don’t see any LGBTQ people voting on straight marriages. Though, that would be the rub, now wouldn’t it?
So, here’s a great site to which you can see updates about gatherings for Decision Day. It is posted below through the most recent update (2 updates total), but you’re going to want to check back for more updates and to read their article with the links they have in the post.
Also, text EQUAL to 69866 to get the Decision Day verdict when its out tomorrow, if you like instant news via cell.
And if you’d like to see some of my past writings of marches since this all began, you can go to my E-Newsie archive - Pride & Freedom Issue.
To love and especially to life! But regardless of where you are in love, or in confusion, or in waiting or this or that, just remember to still be love and radiate your truths.
Prop 8 Decision to be Announced Wednesday - LAist
The judge presiding over the federal trial challenging Prop 8, which banned same sex marriage in California, will announce his decision on Wednesday, according to the Sacramento Bee. No specific release time has been mentioned, but sources close to the trial have told LAist that decisions can be released as early as 12 a.m. [Update: The decision will be filed sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to the court]
No matter the outcome, the decision is expected to be appealed.
Plans for a rally in West Hollywood have been in the works since last month, but organizers were waiting for a date. More details on events will come to light soon.
Update: “Expect the West Hollywood rally - on San Vicente Boulevard south of Santa Monica Boulevard - to begin at 7pm, however commuter travel is expected to slow earlier,” says WeHo News. At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the case forward, said the WeHo rally may tentatively begin at 6 p.m.
Update #2: A rally with members from over 15 LGBT and ally community groups will also be held at Olvera Street from 8 to 10 p.m. “Members of Latino, Asian/Pacific-Islander, African-American, Middle-Eastern, LGBT and other communities gather to show their solidarity for social justice after the District Court announces its decision on Proposition 8, the California legislation that bans marriage between same-sex couples,” according to an advisory from the Latino Equality Alliance.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturns Prop 8 and deems it unconstitutional!!!
Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California [Updated]
August 4, 2010 | 1:48 pm
A federal judge in San Francisco decided today that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex unions.
U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice. His ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
[Updated at 1:54 p.m.: “Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge wrote. “Each challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Vaughn added: “Plaintiffs seek to have the state recognize their committed relationships, and plaintiffs’ relationships are consistent with the core of the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States.“
Ultimately, the judge concluded that Proposition 8 “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. … Because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”]
Walker, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, heard 16 witnesses summoned by opponents of Proposition 8 and two called by proponents during a 2½-week trial in January.
Walker’s historic ruling in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger relied heavily on the testimony he heard at trial. His ruling listed both factual findings and his conclusions about the law.
Voters approved the ban by a 52.3% margin six months after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was permitted under the state Constitution.
MORE GREAT LINKS, MORE GREAT CHANCES TO LEARN AND COMMENT (and still more out there):