Of Honor and Paper

That hotly contested piece of paper is about the good stuff — love and devotion and the future. But there are reasons it’s so important besides the good stuff. Because, inevitably in life there will be hard stuff, too. There are rights you need when the hard stuff happens.

The right to
Visit a loved one in the hospital
Make medical decisions based on what you know the person’s wishes are, because of years of devotion to and discussions with each other.
Sign papers, discuss referrals, talk with insurance companies
Advocate in the hospital
Pick up prescriptions
Receive information from doctors and nurses
Make end-of-life decisions
Celebrate the person’s life with the perfect music, words, and rituals
Stay in your home afterward to grieve in the place you lived and loved together.

These are rights that were granted to me automatically when I was caring for my sick husband, and later when I was planning his funeral. I know people whose families have interfered because a marriage license was not possible, partners who worried about being shut out of hospital rooms, who had to fight to keep their homes.

These and other rights that come with being legally married have been fought for and have now been won. There is no honor in breaking the law to prevent someone from having this tenderness, safety, and security.

Here’s what I know from this action: A god that requires such a supreme lack of compassion is not my God. A religion that celebrates that kind of “bravery” is not for me. It never will be.

Life is beautiful and diverse and really hard sometimes. Love is a necessity. Simple.

We Need Some Venn Diagrams

Yesterday, for some reason, (why yesterday? I really don’t know) three people shared “Caitlyn Jenner isn’t courageous because someone else is courageous” memes. Two featured pictures of wounded soldiers – two different pictures of two different soldiers – next to the picture of Caitlyn Jenner giving her ESPY speech. Both copied the meme that someone else created last week with the same picture of Caitlyn next two other wounded veterans.

Here are some things I have to say about this, in no particular order:

1) Memes are designed to create an action, a click. The more compelling the image, the more likely the click. Our clicks lead to ad revenue. A picture of a wounded soldier next to Caitlyn Jenner is an attempt at viral marketing.
2) Using a soldier’s sacrifice to mock someone else and to boost a viral marketing company’s page reach is not honoring that sacrifice. You can’t know if that veteran has given permission for his or her image to be used in this manner, and unless you do, it’s exploitative.
3) Giving one person an award for courage doesn’t create a vacuum in which ALL the rest of the possible awards for courage are destroyed. It doesn’t take away another person’s existing award for courage. It doesn’t suggest that other people are not also courageous.
4) Between 2003 and now, only two U.S. soldiers have been awarded the Arthur Ashe Award, both in 2003: brothers Pat and Kevin Tillman. Why the uproar this year?
5) Caitlyn Jenner didn’t transition publicly so she could win the Arthur Ashe award.
6) Soldiers do not take heroic action so they can win the Arthur Ashe award.

These pictures are meant to imply that there is nothing courageous about transitioning genders. The mere fact that there is a backlash like this (as Caitlyn knew there would be) suggests otherwise.

I couldn’t imagine doing it. And clearly, the people who created and shared the meme couldn’t.

Imagine telling every person you know that you are now someone else, and hoping they will still accept you.
Imagine the invasive questions you will field from strangers regarding your genitals.
Imagine the hormones and surgeries, the expense, the recovery, the pain.
Imagine the fear of losing your job, your family, your home or even your life.
Now imagine doing that in front of the whole world. That is a different kind of courage, but it’s big courage.

I wasn’t going to write about this, because I don’t know what a soldier at war or a transgender person experiences. Who am I to say anything about either? But it kept coming up all day. Then at the end of the day, this happened: India Clarke, a young transgender woman, was murdered in Tampa. I don’t know her, but I hurt for her and her family. I hope she didn’t suffer. I hope they find her murderer. I hope she is at peace. I want to acknowledge (even if I can’t begin to imagine) how much bravery it takes to just live in the world as a transgender person.

India Clarke is the 12th transgender woman murdered in the U.S. in 2015. It is dangerous to be a transgender woman in the U.S.

And now, I feel strangely compelled to say that by making that statement, I am not suggesting that it’s not also dangerous to serve in the armed forces. I’m not saying that it is not dangerous to be a fire fighter or a police officer or a paramedic. Lots of things can be dangerous at the same time, just like lots of people can be courageous at the same time.

Our veterans are routinely not receiving the services and support they deserve. I don’t believe that Caitlyn Jenner or ESPN are to blame for that. I’m not entirely convinced that juxtaposing the two issues will result in any tangible support for veterans. I also don’t believe that was the intent of juxtaposing the two. Instead, it looks like people are using the brave actions of others as a distraction from a completely unrelated issue that makes them feel uneasy. Which, if you think about it, actually isn’t very courageous.

Rejoice and Plug Your Ears

Incredibly, unbelievably, FINALLY, today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans against same-sex marriage in all 50 states. If Facebook, where I spend all my e-time, is any indication, people are rightly freakin’ thrilled.

This means that love wins. But it means more than marriage. It means security for families. It means being able to visit and make end-of-life decisions for ill partners. It means the protections that come from being legally married are extended to all U.S. citizens. So, you know, civil rights. Equality.

I made a vow to myself today NOT to read any comments under any of the remarkable stories, beautiful pictures and triumphant posts I read. I have a tendency to do that. To look for and marvel at the ugly, to sit and stare at the nastiness with my mouth agape, while my blood pressure rises and I think, “Why?? How can you..?? Really???”

Not today. There were so many pictures of people hugging and kissing and celebrating, and I refused to give any hateful asshole a voice by reading their nastiness. It was hard not to click, but I succeeded.

However… (why has there to be a however?) I witnessed Facebook friends who are also Christians respond to, reprimand or try to talk reason to other Christians who were obviously making those comments I refused to see.

These heartfelt entreaties all read pretty much the same: What I am about to say will offend some people, but… Jesus is about love. We are called to be loving and accepting. We are meant to be examples of caring.

And then. All of them, every one, no matter how well written, hits it:


And they lose. It’s over. It doesn’t matter how reasonable and loving and caring they are trying to be. Once they say the S word, it erases every open-minded and loving thing that came before.

Yes, they say, I know it’s a sin but… I sin too. Don’t judge your neighbor.
I’m not sure how saying something (or really, someone) is a sin isn’t judging your neighbor.

Ah this one. I have heard this before:
“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t really see anyone benefiting from that flawed, judgmental, conditional love. And I can’t see anyone being surprised by that hate.

I am very, very lucky to know what love is, and I promise you, it’s not that.

What I read in this is a kind of shaky, self-congratulatory acceptance. “It is so good of me to welcome you to our church. I want you to know I can see past your sins, even if most of us in here can’t.”

That, to me, makes the wide-open church doors seem to be spring-loaded and edged in jagged metal teeth. It does not look safe to me. It does not look comforting to me. I can’t imagine finding peace in there. If the voices speaking loudest are accurate, then the people inside those doors are hurtful and angry and confused about what love is.
I’m not saying that this is actually the case, I’m just saying that that’s what the PR says.

Outside those doors and free from that confusion, the people I love and respect and cherish have been granted the civil liberties they should have had all along. It almost seems wrong for me to celebrate, because I am disgusted that it took this long. But things are righter than they were before. I am filled with unqualified happiness for the people whose lives are more secure and filled with love than they were yesterday.

If I got to decide what God felt like, it would be how I felt when I read that ruling this morning and felt clean happiness for so many people.

Check out all this God: From Human Rights Campaign


del shores

From UpWorthy Lenny and Pearl


#ProudToLove – Celebrating Marriage Equality and LGBT Pride Month