equal rights

Becoming the Guy Who Yells At the Small Town Newspaper

We won’t move to our new house in Winchester for another week—but I’ve already written my first grumpy message to the editor of the local flagship newspaper. Lord help me. I read my soon-to-be-hometown paper for the first time and, lo and behold, 4 of the 5 editorial pieces are slamming gay people. Are you kidding me?  If this isn’t a fluke, I predict I’ll be the offline version of “angry article comment writing guy” in no time.  Kyle will have to hide my quill and ink lest I send old-fashioned newspaper rants every day.get-off-my-lawn

Not until opening that editorial page did I realize how insulated I have been since high school (and coming out)–living in reliable, friendly places for social liberals–Champaign, Chicago, DC, Reston.  Winchester, VA is much more like my hometown of Bradley, IL…except with a slightly more conservative bite. I’m not complaining, local politics are much more fun when there is real disagreement. I’m looking forward to it.

I only write this post for two reasons: (1) To have a place to post this, because I’m sure the newspaper won’t touch it; (2) To remind those interested that we are nearing VERY important Supreme Court arguments that will decide the gay rights issue once and for all (April 28th). Fingers crossed.

Anyway, what I sent the honorable Adrian O’Connor, editorial chief of the venerable Winchester Star:

Is Winchester welcoming of all couples? On a recent editorial page (Friday, April 3rd), four of the five pieces directly or indirectly referenced same-sex couples as bullies, fanatical activists, or downright threats to society.

angryOne piece in particular (“For all the re-definition…) sought to warn the community of looming disaster if the United State Supreme Court upholds lower court rulings that would allow my fiance and I to marry. We are a gay couple and are exciting about moving to the area after buying a home in the Winchester Historic District. The editorial noted that our marriage would not be “normal” because our “chosen sexual behavior isn’t natural.” It went on to suggest that our marriage must be stopped for the sake of the children and grandchildren of Winchester. Really? I would assume, considering that the lives of children are apparently threatened if gay couples marry, that the author would much prefer if my fiance and I did not move into the area at all.  

The editorial argues that gay couples should not be given the right to marry because “the differences in motives, purposes, and practices that define homosexual and heterosexual unions are so great that the English language screams for definitive specificity.” By writing that sentence, I can only assume that the author does not actually know any gay couples.

To allay our future neighbors’ fears, we’d like to share the “motives, purposes, and practices that define our homosexual union.” We are getting married as a lifelong commitment…

  • To Provide one another with unerring emotional support during life’s inevitable challenges.
  • To Have a constant companion to share in life’s joys and triumphs.
  • To Build and care for a home, sprucing up our small corner of the world.
  • To Act as a strong unit to give back to our community in volunteer work, tax dollars, and participation in local organizations.
  • To Protect each of us individually from financial setbacks or career challenges.
  • To Blend our collective families, providing a larger net of trusted friends and confidants.  
  • To Challenge each other to grow beyond our own interests and explore new ideas, hobbies, and adventures.
  • To Push one another to pursue our real passions, regardless of our fears or worries
  • To Provide love, support, and care for a child who needs a safe and stable home.
  • To Ensure care, aid, and support to one another as we age, become disabled, and need to adapt in the twilight of life.
  • To Be a final smiling face one as we transition from this life to whatever lies beyond.

Sexual orientation has zero bearing on the motives, purposes, and practices of two individuals spending their lives together. Allowing my fiance and I to share in the benefits and obligations of marriage will not only benefit us personally, it will also make our new Winchester community stronger.

Let’s Do This Already; I’m Getting Exhausted

 Have you seen Abraham Lincoln/Illinois Outline/Marriage Equality pictures on Facebook recently? That’s because the Illinois General Assembly holds its first “veto session” next week: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday (Oct. 22-24).

That means we have yet another chance to finally allow same-sex couples to marry. You’ll likely be hearing a lot about this in the next few days. Here is a quick primer:

1) To pass in its current form, the bill needs 71 votes in the House. That is a high hurdle, because we could not even get 60 votes last May. However, the bill can be amended to change the start date (for next June) at which point it would only need 60 votes. We are VERY close to having those 60 votes.

Rep. Kate Cloonen is about to cast a vote on behalf of Kankakee County against equal rights.

Rep. Kate Cloonen is about to cast a vote on behalf of Kankakee County against equal rights.

2) A few representatives are still undecided. The single most important thing you can do right now is send a personalized email/message/call to your representative. GO HERE to send a message or LOOK AT THIS POST for contact information.

*A special note for those in Kankakee, Bradley, and Bourbonnais. Democrat Kate Cloonen met with the local equal rights organization this Wednesday at Family House Restaurant (my favorite breakfast spot on the planet, so I took this personal). At the meeting she said that she does not believe gay people in Illinois should be able to marry. Please take a moment now to kindly ask her to re-consider. Voting to keep people unequal (in the Land of Lincoln, of all places) should be embarrassing.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/staterepresentativekate.cloonen
Email: staterepcloonen79@att.net

3) If you end up in polite discussion with opponents of equality this week (I hope so), here’s a quick Argument Cheat Sheet

  • Claim A: I do not support this, because I believe it attacks religious liberty. Christians should not be sued because they do not want to participate in these ceremonies.

–Religious liberty is important. That is why the bill does not force any church to perform services against their wishes. Also, the bill makes ZERO changes to discrimination laws in the state. A completely separate law governs non-discrimination rules in Illinois. In other words, passing this bill will not in any way impact the rights or obligations of any religious person or entity.

  • Claim B: I do not support this, because I believe all children deserve a mother and a father. 

–Great. But permitting a loving couple to get married in no way impacts the parentage of children.  Please do not use children as an excuse to perpetuate inequality.

  • Claim C: I do not support this, because gay couples already have civil unions; they just care about the word marriage. 

–Actually, gay couples in Illinois who have a civil union DO NOT receive federal marriage benefits (i.e. Social Security rights, estate tax breaks, +1,000 others). That is because the federal government does not recognize civil unions, but they do recognize marriage.

Weasels

Earlier this week a GOP State Representative from the Naperville-Wheaton area, Jeanne Ives, said this in a radio interview with the Catholic Conference of Illinois:

“ It’s a completely disordered relationship and when you have a disordered relationship, you don’t ever get order out of that. So I’m more than happy to take a ‘no’ vote on the issue of homosexual marriage.”

“They’re trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy. And we can’t allow that to happen…To not have a mother and a father is really a disordered state for a child to grow up in and it really makes that child an object of desire rather than the result of a matrimony.”

Today, Chicago Representative Greg Harris–the man leading the fight for equal rights in the House–has this on his agenda per Facebook…

Another day of fighting for equality, fairness and otherwise weaseling my way into acceptability.
——————–

In other news, while many some Illinois Democrats are showing their allergy to courage, the first sitting Republican Senator announced he has changed course and supports the right for all couples to marry – Rob Portman of Ohio (whispered to be a possible 2016 GOP Presidential candidate).  In a touching interview he explained how the reversal was caused entirely by his son’s decision to come out to him.  His son is now a junior in college.  One person at a time…

Others Are Yelling – Don’t Stay Silent

“In the end we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– MLK Jr.

Large church congregations are sending mass emails, calls, and flyers to Illinois legislators urging them to ensure gay couples remain less than under the law.  The leading anti-gay organization in the state, the Illinois Family Institute, is telling congregations to pass out this flyer.  Among other things, the flyer claims that if gay couples are treated equally then….

gay-marriage-banner“CHILDREN, in some cases, will be deliberately deprived of the opportunity to
be raised by a mother and father.”

Apparently honesty is not an important commandment when playing politics.

We cannot allow ridiculous scare tactics to sway legislators into continuing discrimination.  One swing Democrat in the northern part of the state just announced that she is going vote to deny equal rights after a large church group  screamed at a recent public hearing.  That large group was mostly made up of  a congregation that arrived in a bus with a banner on the side reading “Say No to Same Sex Marriage.”

We will always have diverse religious beliefs.  But individual religious opinion about any issue can never be an excuse to deny equal rights to certain members of the community.  It was wrong when it was used to treat women as inferior.  It was wrong when it was used to treat African Americans as second-class.  And it is wrong to deny equality to same sex couples.

Thirty years from now I want to look back and know that I did not stand idly by while injustice prevailed…I want to tell my grandchildren that I used my voice to say: Enough!  I hope you feel the same.  More than ever before, NOW is our time to do something.

CloonenKate1

Reminder: Please take a moment to send a message to Rep. Kate Cloonen to let her know that our community is made stronger when gay couples in love are treated the same as everyone else. Also, please share with friends and family to ensure they do the same.

(1) Facebook message HERE

(2) Send her an email (staterepcloonen79@att.net)

(3) Call her office (815) 939-1983

[Don’t forget…mention your address or that of relatives if you live in the area]

Let’s Win This

gay couple 2

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts transform the world.”

My dear family & friends-

I spent the first twenty years of my life berating myself over whether I should keep quiet about my sexual orientation.  What would people think?  Would I be ridiculed?  Who would joke about me when I wasn’t around?  Who would be disappointed?  Would my life be worse?

Guess what happened?  A lot changed.  And I’ve never been happier.

The people that matter most in my life didn’t just support me: You became my biggest defenders.  There is nothing so sweet as having others standing at your side, ready to challenge those trying to bring you down or treat you unfairly.  Every day I am humbled by those who stand up for love, fairness, and equality–even when it isn’t popular.  I know you don’t have to do it.  But you do.   And it means the world to me.

No good deed goes unpunished.  If you have any gas left in the tank, I would be so grateful if you could take one last step to finally end this battle in Illinois and ensure our state treats everyone the same, including people like me.  As you might have heard, in early January legislators in Springfield will vote on a bill that would allow same sex couples to solidify their loving relationship by way of a marriage. gay couple 3

The chief sponsor of the bill explains: “It’s very straightforward.  We treat all couples with the same respect and dignity in the eyes of the law and we protect the rights of religious institutions to either consecrate or not consecrate marriages within their faith as they see fit. It’s very important that government not involve itself in religion on either side of the issue.”

Here’s the reality: Right now, internal counts of those legislators show that we may not have the votes.  It is very close, but some representatives are unsure.  They will make up their mind based on how their constituents voice their opinion.

That is why I am urging you to take 5 minutes to draft a very simple email and send it to your State Representative and State Senator, asking them to treat all Illinois residents fairly by supporting marriage equality.

It does not have to be long or time-consuming.  But by typing out a few sentences and hitting the send button, you may be the tipping point.  All you need to include is this:

kyle&paul

1) Share you name, that you are a voter in Illinois, and indicate where you live.  It makes a big difference if the lawmaker knows that you are a constituent in their own district.  Say if there are multiple voters in your household (or, better yet, have each one send an email).

2) Urge them to vote in favor of marriage equality.  You can say this in one sentence or fifty.

That’s it.  More than at any other time, that simple act can make a real difference.  This is not like casting a vote for President when you know what the outcome will be in Illinois.  It is VERY close, and every single email counts tremendously. Lesbian couple

It would be great if you could do this right now…as you are reading this.  Because if you don’t do it now, you might forget.  Life is hectic.  Below you will find a list of legislators and email addresses.

Please send a message now explaining where you stand.

Forever grateful-

Paul

——————————————————————————————————

Not sure who your legislators are?  Go to this site, type in your address, and get their names, then come back here to get their email from the list below….

1) Step #1: FIND YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS: HERE (Remember to look for your STATE Representative and STATE Senator)

2) Step #2: Find their names below (alphabetical) and send them a quick email.  You should send one to your State Rep. AND one to your State Senator.  If two email addresses are listed for that person, send them to both addresses.

NAME                          EMAIL #1                                            EMAIL #2

Edward J. Acevedo eacevedoed@ilga.gov Sylvia_idrovo@sbcglobal.net
Pamela Althoff pamela@pamelaalthoff.net palthoff@mc.net
Luis Arroyo RepDistrict3@gmail.com
Jason Barickman  jason@jasonbarickman.org
Mark H. Beaubien, Jr. strepmbeaubien@sbcglobal.net
Daniel V. Beiser dvbeiser@sbcglobal.net
Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock rep@pbellock.com
Maria Antonia (Toni) Berrios repberrios39@gmail.com rep_berrios@yahoo.com
Daniel K. Biss repbiss@gmail.com
Tim Bivins senatorbivins@grics.net
Larry K. Bomke senatorbomke@yahoo.com
Mike Bost rep.bost@hotmail.com mikebost@midwestmail.com
John E. Bradley repjohnbradley@mychoice.net
Bill Brady billbrady@senatorbillbrady.com
Dan Brady dan@rep-danbrady.com
Rich Brauer Brauerr@housegopmail.state.il.us
Adam M. Brown abrown@decaturil.gov
Daniel J. Burke burkedj2@ilga.gov illhouse@aol.com
Kelly M. Burke kelly@kellyburke2010.com
William D. ‘Will” Burns repwillburns@att.net
J. Bradley Burzynski senatorbrad@frontier.com senatorbrad@verizon.net
John Cavaletto john@johncavaletto.com
Linda Chapa-LaVia chapa-laviali@ilga.gov lindachapalavia@aol.com
James F. Clayborne, Jr. jfc87@norcom2000.com
Franco Coladipietro franco@il45.com
Sandy Cole representativesandycole@comcast.net
Jacqueline “Jacqui” Y. Collins jcollins@senatedem.ilga.gov
Annazette R. Collins collinsar@ilga.gov annazettec@sbcglobal.net
Marlow H. Colvin repcolvin@sbcglobal.net
Michael G. Connelly Repconnelly48@gmail.com
Fred Crespo fred@fredcrespo.com
Tom Cross tom@tomcross.com
M. Maggie Crotty jdowis@senatedem.ilga.gov
John J. Cullerton john@senatorcullerton.com
Shane Cultra Shanecultra105@yahoo.com
Bill Cunningham  staterepbillcunningham@gmail.com
Barbara Flynn Currie repcurrie@sbcglobal.net bfc15@aol.com
John D’Amico johnd@ilga.gov
Monique D. Davis davismd@ilga.gov Mdavis2147@yahoo.com
William “Will” Davis williamd@ilga.gov repwilldavis@sbcglobal.net
Anthony DeLuca repdeluca@sbcglobal.net
William Delgado repdelgado@aol.com
Kirk W. Dillard senator@kdillard.com
Dan Duffy Dan@SenatorDuffy.com
Lisa M. Dugan lisadugan@sbcglobal.net
Kenneth Dunkin kendunkin@msn.com
Jim Durkin jimd@ilga.gov kanadyF@housegopmail.state.il.us
Roger L. Eddy roger@peopleforeddy.com Reddyunit1@aol.com
Keith Farnham krfarnham@gmail.com
Sara Feigenholtz sara@staterepsara.com staterep12@aol.com
Mary E. Flowers flowersme@ilga.gov mflowers@hds.ilga.gov
Gary Forby senatorforby@yahoo.com
LaShawn Ford lkf@ilga.gov repford@lashawnford.com
Mike Fortner Mike.fortner@sbcglobal.net
Jack D. Franks jack@jackfranks.org
Michael W. Frerichs mfrerichs@senatedem.ilga.gov
Robyn Gabel robyn@robyngabel.com
Susan Garrett ilsenate29@sbcglobal.net
Esther Golar esthergolar@sbcglobal.net
Careen Gordon staterepgordon@sbcglobal.net
Jehan Gordon repjehangordon@gmail.com
William R. “Bill” Haine whaine@cbnstl.com
Norine K. Hammond  rephammond@macomb.com
Don Harmon dharmon@senatedem.ilga.gov
Greg Harris greg@gregharris.org
David Harris harrisforstaterep@yahoo.com
Kay Hatcher info@kayhatcher.us vote4kay@att.net
Chad D Hays  chad@chaddhays.com
Rickey R. Hendon hendon@senatedem.ilga.gov
Elizabeth Hernandez repehernandez@yahoo.com hernandezl@ilga.gov
Thomas “Tom” Holbrook holbrookta@ilga.gov Thomas.holbrook@att.net
Linda Holmes senatorholmes42@sbcglobal.net
Constance A.”Connie” Howard howardca@ilga.gov staterep-constance-a-howard@comcast.net
Mattie Hunter senatorhunter03@sbcglobal.net
Toi W Hutchinson thutchinson@senatedem.ilga.gov
Eddie Lee Jackson Sr. bbsty2010@gmail.com
Mike Jacobs senatorjacobs@sbcglobal.net
Naomi D. Jakobsson naomi@naomijakobsson.com
Charles E. “Chuck” Jefferson staterepchuck67@aol.com
Thomas Johnson SenatorTomJohnson@gmail.com 
Emil Jones, III ejones3@senatedem.ilga.gov
John O Jones johnojones@sbcglobal.net
Thaddeus Jones tjones@calumetcity.org
Dwight Kay info@dwightkay.com
David Koehler senatorkoehler@grics.net
Renee Kosel rkosel@ilga.gov
Dan Kotowski dan@senatorkotowski.com
Louis I. Lang langli@ilga.gov reploulang@aol.com
Chris Lauzen admin@lauzen.com
David R. Leitch davidleitch@ameritech.net
Kimberly A. Lightford statesenatorlightford@comcast.net
Camille Lilly statereplilly@yahoo.com
Terry Link senator@link30.org
David Luechtefeld sendavel@midwest.net
Joseph M. Lyons lyonsjm@ilga.gov jsmith@hds.ilga.gov
Michael J. Madigan mmadigan@hds.ilga.gov
Edward D. Maloney ed@edmaloney.com
Iris Y. Martinez ilsenate20@sbcglobal.net
Sidney H. Mathias repmathias@hotmail.com SIDNEYMATH@msn.com
Frank J. Mautino patti76th@ivnet.com
Karen May karen@repkarenmay.org karenmay58@aol.com
Rita Mayfield ritamayfield60@gmail.com
Emily McAsey RepEmily@gmail.com
Michael P. McAuliffe mmcauliffe20@yahoo.com
William “Sam” McCann SenatorSam@frontier.com 
Kyle McCarter mccarter51@att.net senatormccarter51@att.net
Kevin A. McCarthy kevmac37@sbcglobal.net
Jack McGuire jmcguire86@sbcglobal.net Jmcguire86@sbcglobal.com
James T. Meeks senmeeks@sbcglobal.net
Deborah L. Mell deb@debmell.org dmel@hds.ilga.gov
Susana Mendoza staterepmendoza@gmail.com
John Millner johnjmillner@aol.com
Jerry L. Mitchell repjmitchell@comcast.net
Bill Mitchell repmitchell@earthlink.net
Thomas R. “Tom” Morrison  Repmorrison54@gmail.com
Richard Morthland rich@richmorthland.com
Rosemary Mulligan repmulligan@usa.net
John G. Mulroe info@mulroeforsenate.com
Matt Murphy senatormattmurphy@gmail.com
Michelle Mussman michelle@votemichelle.org
Antonio “Tony” Mu√±oz amunoz@senatedem.ilga.gov
Elaine Nekritz enekritz@repnekritz.org
Michael Noland richj@noland.org
Chris Nybo chris@chrisnybo.com
Jo Ann Osmond reposmond@aol.com osmondjoann@aol.com
Harry Osterman hjo17@aol.com
Carole Pankau carole@pankau.org
Brandon W. Phelps bphelps@yourclearwave.com
Sandra M. Pihos sandrapihos42@gmail.com community@sandrapihos.com
Raymond Poe poe@ilga.gov poer@housegopmail.state.il.us
Robert Pritchard bob@pritchardstaterep.com
Christine Radogno cradogno@sbcglobal.net
Harry R. Ramey,Jr. staterepramey55@aol.com
Kwame Raoul raoulstaff@gmail.com
Dennis Reboletti dennisreboletti@sbcglobal.net dennisreboletti@aol.com
David B. Reis david@davidreis.org
Dan Reitz repreitz@egyptian.net
Sue Rezin suerezin@gmail.com
Dale A. Righter drighter@consolidated.net
Al Riley rep.riley38@sbcglobal.net rep.riley@sbcglobal.net
Dale E. Risinger senatorrisinger@yahoo.com
Robert “Bob” Rita robertbobrita@aol.com
Chapin Rose ls@chapinrose.net chapin@chapinrose.com
Wayne Arthur Rosenthal  waynerosenthal@consolidated.net
Pam Roth moffitt@grics.net
Jim Sacia JimSacia@aeroinc.net
Ronald L. Sandack rsandack@downers.us
Martin A. Sandoval msandoval@senatedem.ilga.gov
Angelo “Skip” Saviano skip@skipsaviano.com
Suzi Schmidt suzi@suzischmidt.com
Timothy L. Schmitz info@timschmitz.org ilrep49@sbcglobal.net
Jeffrey M. Schoenberg senator@jschoenberg.org
Darlene J. Senger sengerstaterep@gmail.com
Carol Sente repsente@gmail.com
Ira I. Silverstein isilverstein@senatedem.ilga.gov
Keith P. Sommer sommer@mtco.com
Joe Sosnowski joesosnowski@gmail.com Joe.Sosnowski@rockfordil.gov
Cynthia Soto csoto@ilga.gov maria.zarate08@gmail.com
Heather Steans hsteans@senatedem.ilga.gov
Ron Stephens ron@repstephens.com
John M. Sullivan senjohn@adams.net
Ed Sullivan, Jr. ILhouse51@sbcglobal.net
Dave Syverson info@senatordavesyverson.com
Andre Thapedi rep32district@gmail.com thapedi@sbcglobal.net
Jil Tracy jiltracy@jiltracy.com
Donne E. Trotter senatortrotter@yahoo.com
Michael W. Tryon Mike@miketryon.com
Arthur L. Turner turneral@ilga.gov inezc@reparthurturner.com
Michael D. Unes  repunes@gmail.com
Patrick Verschoore pverschoore@qconline.com
Louis S. Viverito lviverito@senatedem.ilga.gov
Jim Watson jimwatson@localnetco.com
Arthur J. ( A.J.) Wilhelmi senatorajwilhelmi@sbcglobal.net
Ann M. Williams ann@repanwilliams.com
Dave Winters repwinters@aol.com
Karen A. Yarbrough kyarbrough@ilga.gov karenyarbrough@ameritech.net
Michael Zalewski michaelz@ilga.gov

Push Us Together

A beautiful wedding video.  It’s long-ish (13 minutes), but one of the best of this sort that I have seen.  These things are great reminders that this isn’t about “winning” or “politics” but love and respect.

 “We do not live in a silo; we live in a community.  If they like our decisions or they don’t like or decisions, they are still our family.  They are the people that are going to be there when it is the hardest.  And we don’t want them to pull us apart.  We want them to push us together.  So that’s what a marriage means for us.”