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This Day in My History


George Washington's
Rules of Civility
and Decent Behaviour

42nd:   Let thy ceremonies in courtesy be proper to the dignity of his place with who thou converses, for it is absurd to act the same with a clown and a prince.


Yesterday's Entries

2000: There's Noplace Like Home
2001:
 Flufty Wufty
2002:  The Plus Side of Being a Snob
2003:  The Ashes Are Blowing in the Wind


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Trace
by Patricia Cornwell


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SHEILA's BLOG


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It's a hard job, having to be on the alert all day long.   No wonder I sleep so well at night.

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FACES OF HEROES

5 October 2004

I spent the morning with a group of heroes.  I'm a rotten reporter.  If I had thought ahead, I would have brought a pen and paper to record the names of the people and remind myself of their story, but all I had was a camera.  So I hope that I'm remembering all of these people and their stories correctly.  (I've had a lot of help from the caravan's web site.)

The event was a rally at the state capitol, to begin the Marriage Equality ride to Washington D.C.  I had volunteered to drive Ellen and Shelly to the capitol and waited around for the rally itself.  A number of speakers spoke, each representating a different reason why we must recognize same sex marriages.  These are their stories:

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Belinda and Wendy represent the many couples threatened with separation by immigration. One is an American citizen, the other isn't.  They spoke of the fear that so many couples live in, fear that their partners will be deported, the the fact that they themselves will be forced to leave the country in a year to prevent the non-citizen's deportation.  If they were permitted to marry, the non-citizen would be able to get permanent residency as a spouse.
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(thanks to Nadine's journal for the story of Jacqueline Frank)

Staff Sergeant Jacqueline Frank  served in the U.S. Army for fifteen years. having attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. She is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign War having served in Iraq and Kuwait during Desert Storm. She has been awarded numerous medals and awards including the Combat Medical Badge, Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement Medals, and Liberation of Kuwait Medal to name a few. In spite of her honorable and distinguished service to her country she is not able to continue her military career without deception. This goes against the valor, honor and dignity inherent in being a good soldier. Her sexual orientation never hindered her from completing her duty as a soldier when the United States sent her to war. It shouldn't have any impact on her service now but it does. Due to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy she, like many others, have faced the personal choice of remaining hidden or risking personal safety and sanctions by serving openly with pride. Like the brave and steadfast soldier that she is she has chosen the values that made her service admirable… courage and honor. Until this unfair and discriminatory policy is rescinded she will no longer serve in the U.S. military.  She will lose her military benefits as a result.
XXKathy.jpg (37241 bytes) My friend Kathy emotionally spoke as a PFLAG parent.  She spoke of the inequity of the law which permits her daughter to marry her husband and raise their child in this country, but her son is denied the permission to marry the man he loves--and in addition, since the man he loves is from Portugal, the two at present are a couple without a country.  "To deny my son the right to build a life with the person he loves isn't just unfair...it's cruel," she said.
XXDavina.jpg (40791 bytes) Dr. Davina Kotulski, author of "Why You Should Give a Damn about Gay Marriage," spoke of the legal rights that are denied her and her partner, Molly McKay because they are not permitted to marry.  1,138 federal rights and hundreds of state rights that tax-paying gay couples are not permitted.
XXkids.jpg (43783 bytes) Dolores and her partner are dealing with the rights of the children of gay couples.  If the biological parent dies, the children can be taken away from the non-biological parent.
XXParents.jpg (41661 bytes) Eve and Jim Lubalin are PFLAG parents joining the bus tour.   Eve, choking back tears, told of celebrating their 40th anniversary, and the pain she feels that her daughter is denied the right to make a life with the woman she loves.
XXAsian.jpg (42308 bytes) Jeanne and Jennifer represented the Asian gay community.  They talked about being excluded from their family because they are not recognized as a married couple, though they have been together for 10 years.
XXEllenShelly.jpg (40508 bytes) Ellen and Shelly spoke.  Ellen talked about how unfair it would be if she were to die before Shelly and her homophobic daughter (who has denied these women access to their eleven grandchildren) could come and take possession of her body, without regard for Shelly's feelings or the couple's wishes,  even though they have been together for over 30 years. 

Shelly remembered when their daughter was 4 years old and had been in an accident.  She was rushed to the hospital and both women met the ambulance.  They had to lie and say that Ellen was Shelly's sister because the emergency room was only admitting family members.

XXrev1.jpg (35835 bytes) Rev. John Millspaugh, a straight minister, has joined the caravan because his church, Unitarian Universalist, is against homophobia and in favor of equal rights for all.  He strongly supports same sex marriage.
XXrev2.jpg (32577 bytes) Rev. Helen Carroll led the group in a prayer for a successful--and safe--journey across the country.

Rev. Carroll said that, "Love, compassion and respect is the glue that cements our communities and relationships. The individuals, couples and families I meet and work with face the same challenges in creating healthy homes and lives, regardless of their sexual orientation. My experience tells me that laws which limit or exclude rights, privileges and responsibilities are not consistent with my read of our Constitution or my understanding of the inherent worth and dignity of every individual."

XXHomeloss.jpg (32071 bytes) When Leslie's partner of twenty-one years, Rebecca LePere, died from breast cancer in 2002, she faced an enormous tax bill when their home was re-accessed. Their union was deemed invalid in the eyes of Alameda County. She says she will never forget having to ask friends for money so that she wouldn't lose her home. "I remember how cruel that seemed at a time of such deep bereavement."
XXJohn.jpg (39985 bytes) John and Stuart have been together for 17 years and said the happiest day of their life was February 12, 2004, when they were legally married in San Francisco.  "The experience of getting married in San Francisco showed us what it's like for our government to treat us as fully equal human beings.They were crushed when the government invalidated their marriage.

Other members of the group were introduced.  Anthony and Nadine were each there without their partners because they are in binational same sex relationships and cannot marry or sponsor the ones they love to grant them residency.

Another couple are dealing with health issues and inheritance issues (a surviving partner cannot legally inherit the estate of his partner if the partner dies suddenly and they have not made a will.  Even at that, the will can be contested by "blood relatives.")

Robin and Jan have been together 15 yrs, own their home together, work together, and comingle their finances, yet they are seen as legal strangers by the federal governent.

Kare and Joy have been together five years and are outraged that they must carry a thick set of legal documents when they travel and outraged that they fear for their safety because of whom they love.

The stories went on and on...

When the speeches were over, the group gathered their signs and marched around one side of the Capitol and back to the bus. 

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They boarded the bus and headed off for their next stop, Reno.  As they travel across the country, they don't know what they will encounter.   But the message they bring is emotional, personal, and puts a face on the importance of granting the right of marriage to gay couples.

The definition of hero is "A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life."  I think these people definitely qualify and I hope that history will record their voyage as an act of great heroism.


Websites of the Day

So how many of you knew about this?

And those considerate Brits have prepared a comprehensive guide to emergency actions in case of terrorist attack. 

PHOPHOTO OF THE DAY

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The Group


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