Regarding senator Todd Akin’s statement: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
This morning the 9th Circuit Court overturned Prop 8, the proposition that outlawed gay marriage in California. There was one dissenting opinion from Judge Randy Smith. He argued that traditional marriage can be harmed by changing the definition to include same-sex couples. I’d like to argue the opposite: opposing gay marriage harms the sanctity of traditional marriage.
When I was dating women, marriage was never a possibility. To take the relationship to the next level was to move in together, and in typical lesbian fashion that happened pretty quickly. We didn’t give any thought to whether we wanted to be together for all of eternity because we’d known since the time we came out of the closet that that wasn’t an option. If being queer meant being swallowed in a lake of fire, so be it. We’d accepted it.
Now I’m in an entirely hetero-normative relationship. One man, one woman. And guess what? I still don’t think about marriage. I know that it’s an option, but I don’t fantasize about wedding gowns and bridal showers like some of my straight friends do. To them, marriage has always been the measure of love, because that’s what people do when they love each other. To prove they love each other. But it is hard to believe in the sanctity of marriage when you’ve been in love, and done just fine without it.
But that’s a young person’s game. What every queer wants, even a Godless heathen like myself, is equal rights. The right to leave our pension to our partner, the right to visit them in the hospital, the right to add them to our health insurance, the right to file jointly on our taxes, all of the rights that straight couples get when they sign that piece of paper. Most Americans, even those who support the sanctity-of-marriage argument, recognize this as an injustice that should be rectified. Arguing against giving queer couples the same rights as married couples is a losing argument. Too many people saw If These Walls Could Talk II I suppose, or they have a gay friend, or they get their hair cut by a friendly-but-opinionated gay stylist. Over and over statistics show that the younger generation has no problem with gay people, thinks they aren’t going to stop being gay just because you guilt them, and believes they deserve equal rights.
Enter civil unions. Civil unions seem like the perfect compromise to keep our grubby, queer, little hands off your precious wedding rings. But it seems obvious to me that civil unions are only going to further destroy the sanctity of marriage. Let me tell you why. Continue reading
The police had slashed our tents; thrown away clothes, food, medical supplies; and arrested the protesters and the reinforcements that were ready to replace us. The police had thrown noxious chemicals and burning gas at us and shot us with rubber bullets. The police had showed their might and erected a flimsy fence to reinforce it. And as they were lying to the media about who did what and when, this sign went up.
Though their numbers had dwindled after Tuesday night’s police brutality, this sign captured the sentiment. The remaining occupiers stood in the street with a banner. They thanked me for coming. Everyone was angry. No one was daunted.
That was on Tuesday. By Wednesday at six the fences were torn down and the camp reestablished. Enough food was donated to feed everyone. A day later there was a library, school tent, and an agreement to have a general strike. My friend got six medical volunteers in a three-hour shift. Not hobos, not teenagers—People who know how to insert a catheter. Constantly there were meetings.
I have never in my life seen such a group of people so diverse, so motivated, so organized and so relentlessly determined. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, we are not quitting. We have been waiting. The time is now.
I say “us” and “we” though it’s unfair to say for I’m not among the campers. My tent wasn’t shredded. My laptop wasn’t “confiscated.” I didn’t have to sleep on the floor in a jail.
I say “us” because Occupy Oakland knows that the movement is much bigger than the campers. It is the farmers that provide the food, the bloggers and publicists that share the news, the artists that make the t-shirts and photos, the designers and developers who build the website, the thousands who clashed with police on Tuesday. The campers represent us. They are our proxies.
Politicians count active constituents as representative of larger numbers of lazy voters. One email counts for a handful of miffed voters, a letter even more, a phone call counts for many, and you can bet if people are sleeping on your fucking lawn you can count on a crowd with torches and forks.
The campers sit for me. Tomorrow I stand for the protesters. Tomorrow there is no work. Tomorrow there is no shopping. Tomorrow, I strike.
As for how the strike would be publicized and organized, these would depend on the willingness to strike itself. The greater the willingness, the fewer the logistical requirements. How many Americans does it take to change a lightbulb? How many Web postings, how many emblazoned bedsheets hung from the upper-story windows? Think of it this way: How many hours does it take to learn the results of last night’s American Idol, even when you don’t want to know?
In 1943 the Danes managed to save 7,200 of their 7,800 Jewish neighbors from the Gestapo. They had no blogs, no television, no text messaging—and very little time to prepare. They passed their apartment keys to the hunted on the streets. They formed convoys to the coast. An ambulance driver set out with a phone book, stopping at any address with a Jewish-sounding name. No GPS for directions. No excuse not to try.
But what if it failed? What if the general strike proved to be anything but general? I thought Bush was supposed to be the one afraid of science. Hypothesis, experiment, analysis, conclusion—are they his hobgoblins or ours? What do we have to fear, except additional evidence that George W. Bush is exactly what he appears to be: the president few of us like and most of us deserve. But science dares to test the obvious. So let us dare.
When I heard that Oakland is planning a general strike for November 2nd, I went and pulled up this fantastic article written by Garret Keizer for Harpers magazine back in 2006. It is among the best essays I’ve ever read.
I will post more excerpts from this on Subversive Soapbox but you should really just go read the rest of it right now.