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How will the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage alter the way Americans feel about the country, and how we feel about ourselves?
I can’t speak for everyone. But I can speak for this one 12-year-old boy.
He stands out among his siblings because he lacks their optimism about things, even their quickness to smile. He has a darkness that they don’t. He’s a worrier, a brooder. He’s also more self-conscious. He can’t get comfortable with himself.
And while this may be his wiring, it may also be something else. He has noticed that his heart beats faster not for girls but for other boys, and the sensation is as lonely and terrifying as it is intense.
He doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s sure he’ll be reviled for it, because he hears all of the bigoted jokes that people aren’t necessarily aware that they’re telling, all of the cruel asides that they don’t always realize that they’re muttering. He craves some assurance that he’ll be spared their disdain and disgust. But the world hasn’t given him any.
I can speak for a 16-year-old boy. He has a word for what he is — “gay” or “homosexual” or something worse, depending on who’s talking — but he doesn’t have answers for what that’s going to mean. At the mall one afternoon, he surreptitiously breaks away from his friends and steals into a bookstore. He’s looking for something to quiet the fear inside him.
He finds an examination of “being gay in America” that’s called “Alienated Affections.” The phrase rattles him. It sounds like a diagnosis or sinister prophecy. To understand it better, he riffles hurriedly through the pages, glancing over his shoulder repeatedly to make sure that no one’s watching, listening carefully for any approaching steps.
His nerve doesn’t last long; he manages to take in only a reference to drag queens, an explanation of bondage, an exploration of homoeroticism among prisoners.
These are his options? Feathers, chains or the chain gang?
The title of one chapter in particular catches his eye: “Beyond Gay or Gloomy: The Ordinary Miseries of Everyday Life.” Gloomy? Miseries?
He’s not sure he has the stomach for this, or the strength.
He closes the book, along with a bit of his heart.
I can speak for a 20-year-old college student. He has opened up to his family and to many friends about who he is, not because he possesses any particular courage but because being honest involves less strain, less effort, than keeping secrets and dreading their exposure. Also because he wants to meet men like him, develop crushes he can act on, even fall in love.
And so far, there’s been no terrible price. His family doesn’t wholly understand him, but they want and resolve to. For every friend who now keeps a distance, there’s another who draws closer.
He’s overwhelmed with relief.
But he wishes there were a way to be honest without wearing a tag, without being put in a category, without one adjective preceding all others when people describe him. Their tendency do so is a constant reminder that he’s not “normal.”
So are the laws of his land. It’s illegal in many places for two men or two women to have sex. It’s legal in most places for them to be fired because of who and how they love. Even the language in public discussions sends an ugly signal. People are congratulated for their “tolerance” of gays and lesbians.
He is someone to be tolerated.
And he is always having to explain, to one inquisitive person after another, that he didn’t choose this path, that it’s not a statement or a caprice, that he neither rues nor relishes it, that it’s just there: fundamental, foundational, forever. The ritual grinds him down.
I can speak for a 30-year-old man who owns and lives in a house in the suburbs with another man his age. They’re romantic partners. A couple. A white picket fence surrounds the yard behind their red brick colonial. It keeps the German shepherd from straying off.
But this fantasy has been edited, abridged. The man and his partner have never spoken of children, because that would involve special, intricate arrangements and because most people don’t really approve.
They have never hugged in the front yard, never kissed in front of a window, because what would the neighbors think? What would the neighbors do?
And while he thinks of these as minor adjustments, to the extent that he thinks of them at all, there’s a toll to such vigilance. It’s that old self-consciousness in a new form. And there’s a longing beneath it — to be appraised solely on the expanse and the limits of his talents, on the goodness he musters and the goodness he lacks. To be deemed and regarded as the equal of anybody else.
I can speak for a 45-year-old man who marvels gratefully at the changes all around him. Although he himself doesn’t plan to have kids — he has too little energy at this point, and is too set in his ways — he sees many gay and lesbian couples starting families. If they live in the right places, they pretty much blend in.
But there are still wrong places, and there’s still plenty of oxygen for religious extremists who brand people like him wretched, evil, godless. In some countries, these extremists do more than brand. They kill, and it’s a horrific thing to know and to see. In the man’s country, the extremists don’t go that far, and they’re increasingly a minority, but they’re undaunted, unabashed and too often indulged.
He wonders when he’ll see more cracks in that indulgence. It’s time.
In 2015, on the last Friday of a month fittingly associated with both weddings and gay pride, there’s something bigger than a crack. There’s a rupture.
Following a few extraordinary years during which one state after another legalized same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court rules that all states must do so, that the Constitution demands it, that it’s a matter of “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” as Justice Anthony Kennedy writes.
I can speak for a 50-year-old man who expected this to happen but still can’t quite believe it, because it seemed impossible when he was young, because it seemed implausible even when he was a bit older, and because everything is different now, or will be.
Tomorrow’s 12-year-old won’t feel the foreboding that yesterday’s did. Tomorrow’s 16-year-old will be less likely to confront, sort through and reject so many sad stereotypes of what it means to be gay or lesbian.
There won’t be so many apologies and explanations for the 20-year-old, 30-year-old or 45-year-old, and there won’t be such a ready acceptance of limits. There won’t be the same limits, period.
And that’s because the Supreme Court’s decision wasn’t simply about weddings. It was about worth. From the highest of this nation’s perches, in the most authoritative of this nation’s voices, a majority of justices told a minority of Americans that they’re normal and that they belong — fully, joyously and with cake.
Frank Bruni – The New York Times
Doug Mills – Photo
Books which teach about same-sex and single-parent families will be banned in schools in Venice.
The moves comes after Luigi Brugnaro was elected the city’s mayor earlier this month.
Books including ‘And Tango Makes Three’, which is about two male penguins bringing up a chick, will be banned in the city.
Brugnaro made the pledge to purge the city’s nurseries nad primary schools of books about gay partnerships and gay adoption.
“We don’t want to discriminate against anyone and at home parents can call themselves daddy number one and daddy number two, but I have to consider the majority of families, which have a mum and a dad,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.
“It is parents who should educate children about these things, not schools.”
The move has been slammed by some, as around 1,000 copies of ‘And Tango Makes Three’ have already been made available to the city’s teachers.
The previous administration made the books available. They have also been introduced across Italy.
Gay couples in Northern Ireland, sick of their politicians refusing to pass marriage equality, are now going to challenge the ban legally.
Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles as well as Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane are seeking a judicial review of the ban, hoping to equalise marriage laws across the UK.
Both couples entered into civil partnerships a decade ago in Belfast City Hall.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland that does not currently recognize same-sex marriage.
In a Facebook post, Close wrote: ‘This year, December 19th, 2015 Shannon and I, along with Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane, will celebrate 10 years of our civil partnerships.
‘Northern Ireland was the first place in the UK to recognise civil partnership legislation and is now the last place in the UK and Ireland to recognise equal marriage.
‘On (Friday) 26 June, 10am in the High Court, the four of us are bringing a legal challenge for a judicial review of the legislative prohibition preventing us from entering into civil marriage.’
‘Our barrister, Laura McMahon, will argue that to bar equal marriage is a fundamental discrimination of our rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, which is without justification,’ she added, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
The Northern Ireland has rejected the proposal of same-sex marriage four times, with the dominant DUP wielding an effective veto against equality.
Close added: ‘We are being denied a basic human right. You will hear the arguments from DUP and other religious groups (all the same that have been played out in the Irish referendum) that we have civil partnership, so why marriage?
‘The fact that we have to stand in a different queue from opposite sex peers when it comes to having our relationship recognised by the State is itself indicative that we are treated differently.’
Gavin Boyd, the policy manager of LGBTI rights group the Rainbow Project, said the LGBTI community in Northern Ireland has been left with no other route than pursuing equality by legal means.
The Rainbow Project is challenging the ban in their own way, helping a gay couple who legally married in England but their marriage is only recognized as a civil partnership in Northern Ireland.
Speaking to Gay Star News, Boyd said: ‘The Northern Ireland Assembly don’t seem to be capable of passing same-sex marriage by themselves, so we have to bring it to the courts. We know courts tend to be the most effective way of harmonising laws across the UK.’
He added: ‘We currently have this crazy patchwork of marriage laws in the UK, it’s a mess. It’s something that Westminster could sort out tomorrow if they wanted. The UK is a single country, and it’s not feasible for a couple’s marriage to be viewed one way in one part and another way in a different part.’
Polls show Northern Ireland does support same-sex marriage with around 50-58% in favor depending on the survey.
Joe Morgan – Gay Star News
A judge has relieved California’s attorney general of the duty to process a proposed ballot initiative that advocated killing anyone who engages in gay sex.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei ruled late Monday that the so-called Sodomite Suppression Act was patently unconstitutional. Cadei said it would be “inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public, and tend to mislead the electorate” for Attorney General Kamala Harris to clear the measure for signature-gathering.
Harris had asked for a judge’s permission in March to reject the initiative through a legal complaint against its sponsor, Orange County lawyer Matthew McLaughlin. After McLaughlin did not attempt to defend the measure in court, the attorney general last week sought a default ruling in her favor, a request Cadei granted.
“This proposed act is the product of bigotry, seeks to promote violence, is patently unconstitutional and has no place in a civil society. I applaud the court’s decision to block its title and summary,” Harris said in a statement.
McLaughlin did not immediately reply to a telephone call seeking comment on Tuesday. He has not commented publicly on his motivations for pursuing the initiative since he paid $200 to submit it for processing.
The initiative sought to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” It also would have made the distribution of gay “propaganda” punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.
Harris has said that if a judge did not block the measure, she would have had no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.
Lisa Leff – Associated Press
A nine-year-old transgender girl is charming the world – after her mother revealed she will return to school as female.
The North Wales Daily Post spoke to the mother of Ellie-Jo Hughes, who has felt female since she was three years old.
Her family say she loves wearing dresses, and asked for a wig for her birthday. Until now she has only dressed female in her own home, and as a boy outside the house – but Ellie-Jo hopes to return to school as female in September.
Her mother Sam Hughes said: ““When Joseph puts on dresses, he seems much more content and happy in himself, his attitude changes completely.
“Almost his entire life, he’s enjoyed dressing up as a girl – I have five other children who have all played dressing up – but with Joseph, it was different, more natural somehow.”
“I remember when he was at Ysgol Llywelyn when he was four, the teacher asked him what was wrong and he said he was upset because he wanted to be a girl.
“When he started putting his older sister’s clothes on, I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it turned into something he never really seemed to grow out of.”
After seeing trans specialists, she was told there was little support available for trans children.
Sam continued: “The doctor saw him twice and said there was nothing more they can do until Joseph’s 11, when his hormones start to kick in. Since then, we’ve just been left to get on with it really.
“To me it’s clear that he has gender dysphoria but I wanted to give Joseph time to think for himself and do what comes naturally to him.”
Of the possiblity of transitioning at Ellie-Jo’s new school, she said: “I’ve been in touch with the school and we are having a meeting to discuss this possibility.
“The headteacher said there is another school in the vicinity that has allowed a child to transition their gender so it’s likely that they might allow Joseph to do it too.”