Feb 23, 2008
Goodbye, Dear Theresa
And just like that, she's gone. I miss her already. Monday is the memorial service. Now, we have to care for her partner. How do you console someone who's just lost her life partner?Life is too damn short.
I am so tired of death
Most of you know me as a very optimistic person. I laugh easily and often; I love life. But, for what seems like an eternity now I have thought about death and what's on the other side of it. I am certain that it all started with the death of my (step) father-in-law just over a year ago. Following that, of course, was the death of my beloved mother last May. Last October 8 (the date of her death) and this past January 17 (the day of her birth) we paused to remember and reflect upon the life and death of my Girl's previous partner. A couple of days ago my friend Jami posted an entry that discussed, in part, suicide. A friend from law school posted just yesterday a tribute to one of her mentors who passed away this week, before her time (no link because it is on a private blog). And now, this.
We got the call last night. A very dear friend of ours likely will not survive the weekend. Just two weeks ago she and her partner stayed with us for a couple of days and we all enjoyed a movie and dinner together and excellent conversation (in an odd coincidence the partner was a former partner of my Girl's now-deceased ex). A few days later, complaining of pain in her abdomen, they took her her to the doctor. Long story short, she was ultimately diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer. This past Saturday (one week ago today) she was admitted to the hospital for further tests. Suddenly, her organs began to shut down, fluid began to build in her body and she lost lucidity.
I want very much to believe in life after death. I want to believe that I'll meet my family and friends in an afterlife. I want very much to believe in a god so that I can alternately pray to him/her and curse him/her for taking people from our lives before their time. So, if you do believe, would you be my stand-in and pray for Theresa and her family for me? I love you, Theresa. I am grateful that you will not suffer long. Thank you for being in my life.
Dec 29, 2007
Happy -- Holidays, Christmas, New Year, Anniversary!
Warning: Long, catch-up post follows...
Nope...not dead. I apologize to anyone who has been checking my blog only to find it not updated for these past 3 weeks. It's just that life has been crazy busy -- in a good way -- and I decided that when I began blogging again I wouldn't let it make me feel guilty if I went extended periods of time without updating. So, with no guilty feelings to motivate me, I've just been loving life. But, now I want to share all that's been going on with you (OK, well, at least some of it)!
First, Happy Holidays to everyone. This is a time of year that I've always loved. Raised a Christian, I have always celebrated Christmas. A long time ago, I gave up on the idea of JC as being the only begotten son of God and then not too long ago I acknowledged that I didn't even buy the whole "single god" theory. Still, I celebrate Christmas. Which is to say I (we) put up a tree (a real one for the past 3 years), exchange presents, overeat, watch sports on television and generally enjoy quiet family time. After that, of course, comes the New Year. No major celebrations here. We're not unlike this reporter. And, of course, for those of you who are Christians, Merry Christmas! As a side note to this whole religion thing -- you might find it amusing that I now attend an Episcopal church service every Sunday. My MIL is Episcopalian and we take her (and then go out to brunch afterward).
Our trip to Sint Maarten was fabulous! You'll just have to take my word that this picture is of me (trying to take a photo underwater -- none of which turned out wonderfully, I must add). The other picture is a photo of the resort where we stayed while we were down there. It was really lovely trip; it started off with a stop in South Carolina to visit MIL's younger sister who has heart problems. It was wonderful to see the two of them together; it's clear that they share a loving sister bond. They hadn't seen each other is several years, given everyone's health and we were so thrilled to be able to make this happen. The resort was nice, the people were friendly and the weather was amazing. Of course, the fact that we left just as a blizzard descended upon the Detroit area may have colored our appreciation of the 80 degree temps and clear skies a bit... Do we look like a couple of drowned rats in this final photo? As always, you can click on the photos to enlarge them (and thereby see my new bathing suit, which is *much* cuter on the model than it is on me...).
When we returned home (1 AM this past Saturday before Christmas), we put things into high gear for our Christmas preparations. As my Girl said: "It [was] cruch time for elves". Indeed. We got holiday cards out late (apologies if you didn't get one -- it was not an intentional slight) and then only to immediate family, darn it. We scurried around trying to do Christmas shopping for each other, and we put up a tree. Now the tree is a bit of a story (I will post a photo of it as soon as I can). Remember last year? Well, in case you don't suffice it to say that we put up a large, 10 foot tree and it fell over in the middle of the night, causing us to have to completely re-decorate it. This year, we thought, "you know, we have these beautiful high vaulted ceilings; we really should put in a tree that fits the room." (Note to self: Mistake. Do not repeat this mistake next year.) Trees look larger indoors than they do out-of-doors, especially when they're in a tree farm surrounded by other large trees. We honestly did not realize that we would have to cut off a foot of the top of the tree in order to have it fit in our 13 foot high ceiling (the low part -- where the vault meets the wall). We also did not realize that the base was likely the culprit in our tree mishap last year, and probably not our poor wrongly-accused pussycat, Buster. Without dragging you through all the agonizing details, let me just say that 1,600 lights, 6 nails in the wall, and three fishing line supports anchored thereto later we finally quit with the tree at 2:30 AM the day before Christmas.
Christmas day itself was great, as it almost always is. The only downer part of it for me was the missing of my mom. I spent last Christmas Day with her in the hospital. I think I knew then that she wouldn't live to see this Christmas. I'd give anything for another conversation with her. And funny thing is...there's nothing I could say to her that I didn't say while she was living. I just miss the conversation. ::sigh::
Although Christmas is never all about the gift-getting for me (though it is often about the gift-giving), I would be lying if I didn't admit to being absolutely thrilled to get a new PDA for Christmas from my sweetheart. She got me this HP IPAQ pocket PC. My PDA (an old Palm Pilot which I lived by) died earlier this year and I've been lost without it.
This brings us to today. Today is my Girl's and my 2nd wedding anniversary. How did I ever get so lucky as to find a woman who loves me as much as she does? I must have been very, very good in a former life. We agreed to not exchange gifts on our anniversary, but instead to simply celebrate it each year (part of which involves watching the tape of our actual wedding day...). Still, I can never let this day go by without giving her cards and flowers. It's just not in my nature. I sent her this bouquet.
Finally, please accept from me my sincere wish for a peaceful, loving 2008 to all of you.
Apr 08, 2007
My wish for you: Peace, love, compassion and forgiveness.
I started this blog 3 years ago this month. I've written 700 posts since I made the transition from AOL (my first blog post is here) and I've had over 2,300 comments from you, my dear readers, and generated nearly 170,000 page hits. I've accomplished my principal goals of informing my law school classmates about myself and of keeping my mom informed about what was going on in my life. I've graduated law school (achieving my goal of no "C" grades and exceeding my goal of at least one "A" grade); my mother will likely never read another blog post. In addition, the blog has become burdensome to me, and that I can't have.
Along the way, though, I've made some real-life friends, I've met several fellow bloggers, I've met some readers, and I've made dozens of cyber-friends. In addition, this blog has given me a space for myself -- a place where I could ruminate about the day's events or contemplate my navel. It's been a journal and a pulpit. I've been able to document an interesting and sometimes tumultous time in my life here, and that's been a great benefit of the blog. More than a handful of readers have contacted me privately to tell me that my writings have had a positive effect on their lives. That was unexpected, but it has been the greatest reward of all.
My next venture is to work with my darling spouse on starting up our law firm -- Rainbow Law Center, PLLC, located out of Ann Arbor. It will be through this venue that I will try to help others find their way through the maze of LGBTQ law and policy. I will put a link up when the website is functional.
All things in their time. It is time for me to bid you all adieu (my spouse says "don't burn your cyber-bridge. Call it a hiatus rather than an ending." We'll see. I rarely ever close a door). Thank you all for reading. See you 'round the blogosphere.
Mar 18, 2007
So much to report, so little time and space. After 15 days and nights away from home (and away from a high speed internet connection; I'm so spoiled and addicted) we're home. It has been an extraordinarily trying and emotional time.
We stopped in Lexington on the way to Florida and visited with my youngest. She turned 21 the following week. I know everyone is tired of my saying how proud I am of her, so I'll simply wish her Happy Birthday.
We also stopped in Tennessee and met, for the first time, a long-time blog reader, Sally. Sally is an older transgender woman just beginning her transition. She is in her upper 70s and has been on hormones for a few months now. It was a delight to meet with her. Sally, I look forward to continuing reports and I really appreciated your meeting with my Girl and me. And, thanks again for lunch.
Two days later, after a fun, cold, and I'm sure soon-to-be picturesque detour through the Smokies, we arrived in Spring Hill Florida to visit my mom and step-dad. I was at once heartened and dismayed to see Mom. I think our presence there helped lift her spirits and perhaps even her health. Her appetitite returned temporarily. But, it was short-lived. We stayed through last Saturday (a week ago) and then began the journey home.
Along the way, we stopped in to see the Girl's dad, my first introduction. He was very nice to me and seemed to accept me with no questions. As we left, he hugged me and said: "Take good care of my little girl". So, now I've met all of her immediate family. I like them all, and I am pretty sure they all like me (when we got home, I had a birthday card from her mom, addressed to "My daughter Denise").
We headed home through Nashville where we stayed overnight and went to see our Detroit RedWings handily beat the number one Predators (and they beat them again the next night, taking over the number one slot in both our division and in the NHL). It was a lot of fun as we were dressed in our Wings shirts amidst all the Predators fans.
The next morning, as we continued north, we learned that my mom had taken a serious turn for the worse. After pulling over in the first rest stop in Kentucky we pulled out the laptop (using a Cingular Wireless card) and looked up flights back. Basically, none of them got us in before the next morning. So, we turned the car around and drove back to Florida, arriving at 1:30 in the morning after 14 hours in the car.
We stayed another two days, as Mom showed signs of (physical) improvement. She has lost her will to live and would gladly accept an injection that would put her out of her pain and misery. At this point, I think I'd personally administer it. Why do we allow people, with terminal illnesses, to suffer like this if they don't want to keep fighting? The last day we were there my Girl and I went to breakfast and I simply could no longer maintain. I sobbed through breakfast, right in the middle of the restaurant.
I have never left anything unsaid between my mother and me. She knows how I feel and what I think (about everything!); I know the same about her. Nevertheless, the thought of a "final" conversation with her was more than I could bear. How can I not have her to call any longer? She has always been the first person I turned to when I had news (good or bad) to share. Still, I wanted to have that conversation. I wanted, once again, to tell her how much I love her and how much I appreciate the life she's given me. I didn't get that chance this trip. When we got to the hospital, visiting hours were nearly over, and she was surrounded by people. I hope I get one more chance.
Two more long days in the car and we got home about midnight last night. My sister, still in Florida, called to say that Mom is out of Intensive Care and in a regular ward. I don't know how much more of this she can take. I don't know how much more I can take.
Feb 19, 2007
A few days ago, a good friend of mine from law school (known to attentive, long-time readers as BoSox) wrote to me asking if she could nominate me for an award that the University gives to students "who have made the greatest contributions to activities designed to advance the cause of social justice". Of course, I am flattered. But, as I looked back on my career at the University of Michigan Law School I realized that I was very involved in activism for the first year and a half and then, quite suddenly, became uninvolved.
The reason, of course, is obvious. I met my Girl and she became my world. I moved 40 minutes away from Ann Arbor and it was no longer easy to attend meetings or rallies. This certainly helped my GPA (I got all of my A grades in the second half of law school) but it did nothing to advance the cause of social justice. Don't get me wrong; I didn't completely drop out -- I still did things that people asked me to do, like speak at the TDOR rallies, or give talks to classes and student leaders about my experience of being transgender, but I no longer participated in the planning of events.
I am not at all disappointed in my choice of priorities. I know that people that really make a difference in the world are the ones who are single-minded and laser focused on the task at hand. I am just not that type of person. Sometimes, I long to be. Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like to be a moving force in the destruction of gender stereotypes and the liberation of people to be who they really are. Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like to achieve fame (a little fortune would be nice, too) in this regard. For example, I loved the little bit of noteriety I got from this blog; I relished it when people I didn't know would approach me in law school.
When I first began to transition, I lost my focus on what was important. That cost me a daughter. I realize now that it was inevitable that my marriage would end; I became a person different from who she had married (and I had very little say in that). But, losing my eldest daughter is a blow I will never recover from and I will forever blame my own self-centeredness, my focus on myself and my needs at the time.
Before that time, and since then, I know what's important to me -- my family. My mom and Augie, my sisters, my children and my Girl. They all mean so very much to me. They come first, middle, and last in my life.
It is from that space that I read this article. Renee Richards is sad now. Sad that she is alone in life. She was a beacon for so many. She was a true pioneer who helped map out a road for us to follow. She accomplished much. But she's lost so much more in her inability to find a fulfilling personal relationship. Fifty years from now her name will live on and no one will remember mine. I'm OK with that. I wish you peace, Renee.
"You have to be a pretty strong character to have a relationship with someone who has been a man originally, and famous. I haven't had any romance in a number of years."
"It is annoying to me," said Richards. "I'm so ordinary now; they're not interested. There's lots about transsexuals now."
UPDATE: Also, check out the preface (courtesy NPR) from her new book: "No Way, Renee: The Second Half of My Notorious Life".
But I have not written No Way Renée as a justification of my life; rather, it is a look at the second half of a life that I hope no longer needs justifying. It is the story of how I thought through and reconciled my bizarre family life; how my son and I coped with my changed persona; how I gave my new incarnation an adolescence; how I restored my medical career; how I searched for understanding, stability, romance, health, and a sense of my place in a changing world. It answers the question in the minds of so many, "Was your sex change a mistake?"
Dec 10, 2006
Last night, after we'd gone to bed we hear a crash and the sound of glass breaking. We were both so tired and sleepy that we each just rolled over, said "that can't be good", and went back to sleep.
This morning, it was abundantly clear what had happened. It wasn't yet light when I made my way toward the kitchen for my morning Diet Pepsi and bagel. In the living room (which the Girl calls "the Great Room" to distinguish it from the other main level, living-room-like room which she calls "the Hearth Room") I saw to my utter dismay our 10-foot tall tree -- which we (mostly the Girl, while I've kept my nose in my Trusts and Estates text, preparing for my final law school exam this coming Friday) had just completed decorating -- lying on its side. Shattered ornaments, spilled water, and scattered, empty ornament boxes completed the scene.
I'm pretty sure our youngest cat, a male named "Buster" (how appropriate, don't you think?), attempted to climb the tree and his weight toppled it when he got high enough (we've seen him in trees outside, so we know he has a penchant for it). After we got the tree uprighted and the debris picked up I thought - "I should have taken a picture of this disaster!"
My girl turned to me, about 3/4 of the way through re-construction, and said "I love going through catastrophes with you." When I inquired as to what she could possibly mean, she just said "because you always stay so calm." ::smile:: Well, what's the alternative?
Ain't pets grand?
Nov 28, 2006
Sex Equality and Alimony
I posted two of my previous "reflection papers" for MacKinnon's Sex Equality class here ("Am I a Woman?") and here ("Reflecting on My Marriage"). This is a third paper in the same series. It raises issues that have nagged at my brain for sometime now. I am not entirely happy with this paper from several perspectives. Primarily, it does not resolve the tension that exists, at least in my own mind, between what I perceive as society's failure to achieve equality between the sexes and an individual's role in that. Perhaps that is too much to ask for so short a paper -- or from someone so intimately involved in the situation. Although this paper is very personal to me, I invite you to read it and think about the issues it raises. We have a problem in this society. Women are undervalued in many regards -- and there is a clear connection between divorce and poverty in women. What role do individual husbands play in correcting that imbalance? Is there a better solution? Ms. MacKinnon argues that, on the whole, there is an inherent sex inequality at play here (and, clearly, there is). What remedy? Does the 14th Amendment have a role? Alimony -- through court order -- is arguably state action.
[UPDATE] - Interesting, related article here (Tampa man upset that he has to pay alimony to his ex-wife who has transitioned to being a man).
"There can be no question that the biggest engine toward the impoverishment of women is marriage and raising a family." -- Catharine A. MacKinnon - 9/13/06
When I was 21, I married a bright young woman, Sarah, 23. Sarah already had a Master’s degree and a year of work experience; I was a high school drop-out, just out of the Navy. She had very definite ideas about the relationship between the sexes -- which I shared -- neither of us would be subordinate to the other. This was in 1976, and the women’s movement was finally beginning to gain traction.
From the outset we shared everything. We had joint checking accounts; our cars and our homes were titled jointly. We both changed our last names to a common, hyphenated name. After six years of marriage (during which time we both worked full-time and I also went to college), we decided to have children. Sarah’s plan had initially been to take a maternity leave only and return to her career. Prior to the arrival of our first child, however, she approached me with a new idea. She wanted to be a “stay-at-home” mom, and she wanted to home school our children. Although this would be a dramatic change in our roles toward the “Cleaver” model we had earlier rejected (as well as a complete shift of the financial burden of supporting the family onto my shoulders), I agreed. This was what she wanted and I wanted to give it to her. Moreover, I was raised in a culture that said this was what men did. I was trying to live as a man at the time and it seemed, therefore, that it was my role to assume.
Ten years and three children later, and despite 17 years of harmonious marriage, we separated. It was entirely her decision to separate, for a number of reasons not relevant to this paper. It was then I began to realize the true cost to me of Sarah’s choice to stay at home -- my children and I had not developed the intimate bond that comes from daily care, as I instead worked long hours to provide the financial resources for my family. There was no question that they would continue to live with (and be raised by) their mother, and life for them was practically unchanged. I was on the outside looking in.
 Now, more than a dozen years after our divorce, and with our children all grown, I see even more clearly this trade-off as marginalizing me (and possibly other “bread-winning” fathers) in the lives of the children.
After our separation, Sarah returned to school to refresh her education, and rejoined the workforce. Before our divorce became final, she was re-employed as a schoolteacher earning approximately $38,000 per year, as compared with my $75,000 per year salary. I did not contest her desire for primary residential custody of our children and willingly paid the statutory child support payments (approximately $15,000 per year, in after-tax dollars). This left us with approximately the same after-tax income. But it was clear to us both that she had a greater burden, with the children living with her. We therefore agreed that I would pay an additional $6,000 per year to her in alimony until the children were emancipated. However, she changed lawyers and her new lawyer threatened me with termination of my parental rights if I did not agree to a dramatic increase in alimony – to permanent payments of $15,000 per year (unless Sarah were to remarry, or one of us should die). The real risk of losing that which I cherished the most was more than I could stand, so I agreed to the terms. This put Sarah’s disposable income at a much higher level than my own at the time, and tied our economic futures together indefinitely.
Sarah expressed to me that she felt she was “entitled” to this higher, permanent payment. I can only guess at her reasons. I suspect she may have felt that, because of our divorce, her lifestyle would not improve along with my career earnings, as she had hoped and planned, and her own earnings would be relatively stagnant. However, I, personally, had little or even nothing to do with Sarah’s choice of career and attendant earnings opportunity. Sarah arguably had a “male biography.” She was a gifted, intelligent woman raised as an only child in a middle-class family to parents able to put her through college to pursue a career of her choosing. Nevertheless, perhaps for ingrained cultural reasons unknown even to her, or perhaps simply because she had a desire to make a difference in people’s lives, she chose a career that was dominated by women – elementary education – and therefore historically underpaid as compared to those professions historically dominated by men. Moreover, it was her choice to stay at home to raise and school the children, further diminishing her economic opportunities, in exchange for the emotional rewards she derived therefrom.
Nevertheless, I was a participant in this arrangement, and (at that time) a member of the dominant class. To what extent, then, do I bear responsibility for her post-divorce economic well-being, and for how long? At the societal level, is alimony helpful or hurtful to the goal of sex equality?
On one hand, a woman who assumes the role of “homemaker” -- and especially if she bears children -- front-loads her investment into the marriage partnership. She forsakes her earnings opportunity during the years when they are in the important formative stages. Alimony addresses the economic consequences of the resulting impaired earnings ability, and rightly so. Although it is the choices made before and during marriage that create the economic dependence of women that is the root of post-divorce poverty, the husband must “step up” to bear the responsibility of the inequality until society itself does so.
On the other hand, permanent alimony (as distinguished from temporary alimony) perpetuates the stereotype of woman as helpmate, dependent, inferior. The clause that terminates alimony on the basis of remarriage is especially egregious in that regard. Underlying the whole concept of alimony is, in this line of reasoning, the idea of woman as property. The former owner is obligated for maintenance until a new owner takes over. Further, it could be argued that permanent alimony creates or perpetuates a feeling of dependence and inferiority in a woman who might otherwise benefit from being able to “stand on her own two feet.”
What is the right balance between breaking a cycle (and psychology) of dependence that is fostered by permanent alimony, and addressing the feminization of poverty resulting from women’s traditional role in marriage and the disparate treatment of women in society? Perhaps each case must be judged on its own, and in mine – while I have mixed feelings about it – I think the balance tipped too far toward dependence and undermined the goal of equality that the marriage itself was originally intended to achieve.
 Often, women bear the brunt of working two jobs – the job that she gets paid for (assuming she is even able to work, given the responsibilities of child-rearing and the costs of day-care), and her job at home doing the majority of the “house” work and child care. This second job detracts from the first, both in terms of the available jobs that have sufficient flexibility to accommodate parental responsibilities, and the limited time and energy the woman can devote towards “moving up”, i.e., the “mommy track.” This has significant long-term impact on women’s earnings.
Nov 23, 2006
As always, I have so much to be thankful for this year. However, I'm not going to bore you all with a list -- most of the extraordinary events of this past year have been posted on the blog as they occurred.
Instead, I offer my sincere wish that you each pause and take inventory of the things you have to be thankful for and enjoy this special holiday. My love to you all.
Oct 23, 2006
A true story
Born in circumstances of abject poverty in a country halfway around the world, Dennis Castle lost his mother the day he was born. Much of the next 32 years would be consumed by the search for his father. That search ended three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago Saturday I received an email from a woman I’d never heard of before. It asked, cryptically, if I was the “Brogan” who served aboard the submarine USS Grayback from 1972 – 1976. If I was, would I please call her immediately as it was a matter of some urgency. Her phone number was included.
Well, of course, my name is Brogan and I did serve aboard the Grayback during those years, but that information is easily discovered by anyone with an Internet connection – my life isn’t lived quietly in the closet – so I did not call her back but instead wrote back to ask what her interest in me was.
The woman’s name was Amanda (oddly enough the same name as my youngest daughter), and she said that her husband, Dennis had been told by the woman that raised him that his father’s name was Brogan. Thus began a tale that would occupy every waking moment for all of us for the next couple of weeks.
At first we parried – hesitating to give away too much personal information. I had no memory of an encounter that would lead to a son. I suggested a DNA test. Soon, our wariness waned, and the story – and the apparent truth of if – began to emerge. Dennis’ mother had worked in a bar in the Philippines during the time that I was there. While working there, she met a US sailor and became pregnant. Dennis was born nine months after an extended stay I had had in the city of his birth. Her closest friend was Anna (in another odd coincidence, this is also my mother’s name). Anna was with his mother the day Dennis was born. With no one else to look after him, Anna took in Dennis and raised him as her own. Later, she too met a US sailor, married him and emigrated to the United States bringing Dennis with her.
As Dennis grew older he became more and more curious about his parents, especially about the father whom he’d never met. He plied his step-mother for information: Who was he? What did he do? What did he look like? She told him all that she knew:
His name was either David or Dennis Brogan, he was from a northern suburb of Denver Colorado, he was on the US Navy boxing team, he was quite young and he was very blond. Oh yes, he loved pistachio nuts.
Well, of course, this was fantastical for me. All of those things were true. We exchanged many photographs, we spoke at length on the phone. I shared the photographs of Dennis and his four daughters (my grandchildren!) with my mother and my spouse. My family and I could see my father’s eyes and my facial structure in his face. He and Amanda saw his same direct look, his same smile and his same penchant for silliness in me.
His long search was over. He had found the person he knew to be his father. Finally, after all these years, he felt that he belonged. We both cried as we spoke on the phone. He called me “Mom.” I had a son.
The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming. How much more proof did we need?
In a blow that still has us all reeling, the DNA evidence returned a negative result. Dennis has, once again, lost his parent. And I, too, am heart-broken.
Aug 04, 2006
Our country is spectacularly beautiful and I’ve been to 44 of the states within it. While traveling home from Washington DC this past weekend, it occurred to me again how wonderful it is to live in this country and be able to travel from state to state without checkpoints or having to demonstrate why you are where you are (remember the line from the Hunt for Red October when the Executive Officer of the Russian submarine expresses awe at that ability?). But, my patriotism was tainted by a nagging feeling that I couldn’t put my finger on.
As the Girl and I hiked through magnificent Shenandoah National Forest, enjoying the beauty of the countryside and the wildlife (we saw hawks, and deer and my first ever in-the-wild black bear!) I twice came close to requiring medical assistance. First, as we hiked back up a long, steep trail I experienced shortness of breath and a pain in my left arm. We both knew that those could be symptoms of a heart attack. Later, being stupid, I fell as we were climbing some rock formations. As it turned out, of course, I didn’t have a heart attack and all I did was scrape the palms of my hands when I fell. But, we were in Virginia. What would have happened if I needed emergency medical attention and I was unconscious? Would they have let her make medical decisions on my behalf? Would it matter that The Girl had a copy of our marriage license in her wallet? Would it have mattered that my last name and hers were the same (I changed my last name a couple of weeks ago – hyphenated it to include her last name into mine)? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out. But, there is no shortage of stories of couples who are denied that ability.
In a handful of states, gay and lesbian couples are allowed to enter into either marriage or civil unions that ostensibly provide them with all the state-sanctioned rights and obligations of heterosexual marriage. As we were traveling, that nagging feeling finally crystallized into the thought that among the various benefits denied to same-sex married (or civilly united) couples is the loss of that legal relationship and accompanying protections as couples travel state-to-state. In the end, this seems to me to be one of the most hateful results of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the so-called mini-DOMAs passed by various states. In our own state of Michigan a constitutional amendment was passed two years ago (the infamous Proposition 2) that said “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” It’s that last phrase – “for any purpose” – that is problematic. That language is being used to remove insurance protections for gay and lesbian families and children. Can you believe that the Christian right has actually filed lawsuits (two, so far) to require state-funded institutions to stop providing insurance to domestic partners and their children based on this amendment? How hateful is that? The consequences of denying protections to individuals and families as they travel is, as yet, undocumented. I fear it will require tragic circumstances to ultimately cause the courts to step in and right these wrongs.OK, I have much more to say about this, but it’s Friday morning and my Girl and I are headed to Denver, this morning, for 3 days to visit family (my sisters and her brother) and then up to Yellowstone for 4 days. I still have some last minute packing to do. Expect no more posts for about 8 days. I hope all of you are having a great summer and that none of my LGBT readers provide the test case that ultimately challenges the inequities foisted upon us by the hate-filled political right.
Jul 28, 2006
My summer comes to a close
OK, so today is my last day as a legal intern here in Washington DC. I've enjoyed the work, but I learned something unexpected. I learned that I have a personally very difficult time dealing with stupidity and bigotry every day. I came to law school because I wanted to do LGBT civil rights law. Now, I'm not so sure. I don't know if I can look into the eyes of injustice every day. I'm a generally very happy person. To see people fired, lose everything they've worked hard to build for no other reason than blind bigotry just makes me sad. And, as I told Donna, I don't like to be sad.
Still, at the end of the day, I know I did some good. I know I gave good advice to the clients with whom I spoke and I know I inched this cause forward, if but a tiny bit. I just don't know. Can I really do this type of work?
What do I want to be when I grow up?
My Girl comes in this afternoon and we pack up the apartment and head for home, via the Shenandoah National Park. We're going to take an extra day headed home to do some sightseeing in this country. The road is 105 miles long, 35 miles per hour, and has 75 scenic overlooks. We'll take all day to enjoy it. Sunday will be a full day driving back to Michigan.
It will be so good to be back together again. Despite seeing her every single weekend of this summer, it was a decision I would make differently if I had it to do over again. As has become my habit of late, there will be no posting over the next couple of days and it will be sparse for the week following. Thank you to all of you who still check up on me, despite the dearth of daily updates.
Jul 25, 2006
My Girl and I had a wonderful day with an old girl-friend of hers, from high school, and her husband and two daughters (youngest autistic) at the National Zoo. The zoo itself is below mediocre and the day was very hot and very muggy, but we really enjoyed the company and the kids.
On Sunday, we went to the National Archives because we're geeks and we just had to see the originals of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Frankly, it was very cool. I was surprised at how faded the Declaration was and how still readable the Constitution was. At one point, we were reading aloud the Full Faith and Credit Clause and debating its application to DOMA when a guard asked us if we were professors. No, we said, attorneys. He then asked if we were sisters. He was completely nonplussed when I replied that we were wives (my Girl says I should have said "spouses". Mea Culpa).
Before getting there, though, we happened to walk by the Navy Memorial. I'd never really seen it before. It is really cool, with really awesome sculptures surrounding a map of the world, showing all the oceans. My Girl took my picture next to the one of the Submarine Service. Then, we realized that I had left her reading glasses (needed, as we were headed to the Archives!) in the car. So, we had to walk back. We went via a different route and, consequently, happened upon the WWII submarine memorial, also which I had never seen (indeed, didn't even know existed). A serendipitous find!
Jul 21, 2006
This never happened before
I got onto the Metro for my daily commute back to my temporary home in the River Place apartments of Arlington, VA. I found a great place to stand -- not too far from the door, but far enough away to not be blocking it and next to a convenient pole to hang onto (these drivers are paid by how many times they can start and stop abruptly between stops). I glanced around at the people sitting and standing nearby, as I always do, when I noticed a man motioning to me. It took me a second or two to figure out what he was doing -- he was offering me his seat! I smiled my no thanks.
I wonder which he thought I was -- handicapped or elderly? ::sigh::
Jul 20, 2006
My honey took these four photos and I thought I'd share them with y'all:
This lovely doe -- who also has a fawn following her around -- was just walking through our yard while my Girl was practicing with her camera (in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Denver and Yellowstone). So, she snapped her picture. - updated to show 2 fawns!
This is one of her "artsy" pictures. It may not look so hot in this little window, but I'm telling you it is an awesome photograph blown up to full size. I even have this for my wallpaper now. This is taken from our bedroom balcony.
I think it's ok. I share it with you because this blog is supposed to be about .... ME! :)
And, because, well, my mother would want me to.
My shirt says: "It's all about who we love"
Have a peace filled day!