Gay Dads for Equality

The fight for marriage equality from the viewpoint of gay parents

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Needed: Community Reorganizer for a still fired-up bunch

How an inspiring leader can use the campaign infrastructure to harness our motivation and solidarity to counteract change-resisting interests; bring about an ongoing process of renewal; and encourage creative counter-recession, pro-community and environmentally healing policies and behaviors.

Only when they called Ohio I finally allowed myself to believe the victory, the feasibility of which I felt so confident about since early in the primary season. Like millions in this movement, this time politics for me was definitely not a spectator’s sport. The candidate and the change that we thought were necessary were only inevitable if we were to act on it. In doing so we rejected not just the policies of the Bush area, but also its underlying ideology and culture. We are not an atomized collection of individuals, hoping that everything will be fine if we each concentrated on maximizing our own economic well being. Obama’s candidacy involved intelligence, oratory talent, character, symbolism, smart use of technology (internet, SMS), and skillfully harnessing people's desire to be part of a community again. The awesome mobilizing organization put in place for the campaign should not be dismantled, but instead continue to inspire and coordinate a bottom-up effort to supplement and reinforce policies from above. As an organized and empowered community we can now watch the president’s back as entrenched powerful interests resist the change he will try to bring about.

For eight years Bush was happy being the sole “decider,” encouraging the rest of us to do little more than shop in the face the 9-11 attacks, and continue driving the large gas guzzlers as part of an inalienable “American way of life” in the face of a global climate catastrophe. In Barack Obama we saw the promise of not just more sensible and responsible decision making, but an invitation to take responsibility and share the burden of bringing about change. It was a sense of duty and solidarity that drove millions to donate money to the campaign and show up for canvassing and voter registration drives. We rejected the free ridership culture, and embraced the leadership of a bottom-up organizer and motivator. Obama embodied our desires for a more just society, and our need for a leader to harness and channel our discontent, to help coordinate our spontaneous enthusiasm and orchestrate a cooperative effort. If short, while I want our next president to be ethical, smart, decisive and knowledgeable, his community organizing background may be the best assurance for an evolving and ongoing process of renewal.

Yes, we know change will not happen overnight, and the economic recession is barely stating. President Obama will make mistakes - but that is not the point. Much will depend on the ability to move beyond the zero-sum choices (e.g. job creation versus environmental responsibility) by changing widespread behaviors. With some guidance and inspiration, we can turn the imminent recession into a much less painful and even somewhat corrective process. For instance, instead of blindly injecting money into the economy to stimulate spending, we need leadership to advocate how this spending should be done to get more stimulation mileage for local economies, and avoid consumption of energy-heavy goods that travel thousands of miles to get here and will soon end up in dumps anyhow. I can envision a 21st century version of FDR’s fireside chats encouraging us to prefer spending on local services, give each other gifts like theater tickets, vouchers for a massage, piano lessons, or even home-repair services. A recession is a tragedy for many families, but can also be a wake-up call about waste, and opportunity to re-examine how we live. Look around your houses - do you really need all this junk? However, money spent on local services is multiplied endlessly in the economy to provide support and jobs to more and more people.

I can even envision finding ways to ease the pain of those who may lose their jobs while increasing leisure time for the overworked. How about using the opportunity to advocate shorter work week, less over-time, longer paid family and paternity / maternity leaves – while avoiding or limiting layoffs? How many of us would be willing to take a 2-5% cut in our pay in return for more leisure time, if we also saw it as a patriotic act to avoid widespread unemployment, deeper recession and growing crime rates? Well balanced, out-of-the box and fair policies, couples with good motivational talks, can changes the rules of the game. How many of us who still have well paid jobs would be willing to hire more help in household chores, home improvement or recreational services, if we felt it was part of a collective effort to help others in our community? We will gain quality time in our lives, by employing people who temporarily have too much free time and are desperate for gainful work.

These are just examples of what we can expect to be called upon to do. So here we are, cleaning up after our well deserved victory parties, waiting for our next marching orders. Because after all both Hillary and Barack were right: it takes an organized village!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Michelle Obama says it best

I was on the fence for a while, but now I think Obama is the best candidate all around. I like his passion for social justice, how he appeals to both democrats and independents while not trying to be a centrist, and I believe he will stand up to the interests of the large corporations and lobbyist.

Monday, July 10, 2006

NY Court: we won't let you marry, since your kids should not have existed

As you know, we are a NY family headed by two men, raising two children (5.5 years old twins). While NY law allows us to do second parent adoption so we are both their legal parents, we are deeply affected by the inability to marry. If for no other reason, our kids need the security and dignity shared by other families. Now, after the recent shameful court decision, they also badly need for NY State officials to send a message that we are not second class citizens.

We were horrified by the recent court ruling mostly due to the so-called rationales used by the majority justices. To claim that "the legislator could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father," is not just contrary to all credible research, but also completely besides the point.

Marriage laws should exist to provide recognition, support and security to real families, and not in order to encourage some misguided notion of an "ideal" family.

Speaking of slippery slopes... What stops the legislator from deciding that marriage should only be reserved to people of certain age groups, certain health status, economic means, and even ethnicity? Surely the same "rationales" could be formulated using these attributes. Couldn't the same justice say that "Other things being equal" it is better for children to grow up with parents that are not too old (or too young), not sick, disabled, poor or members of a minority that could cause them to be taunted in school?...

The simple point is that we all try hard to provide the best possible environment for our kids to grow in, and it is the role of society /government to help us, not to tell our kids that they should not have existed to begin with!

What do they think - by withholding the rights provided by marriage they will force us back into the closet? Do they think that if I married a woman by pretending to be straight that our marriage would have lasted? Would kids born into these "preferred" marriages that are based on lies be better off than our kids? Most reasonable people would not think so.

we had 15 seconds of fame on NBC's coverage of the demonstration against the NY court ruling... Check it out:
- clip
- entire story

Thursday, June 01, 2006

About all inclusive Family Day - guess where?

This post is in honor of Blogging for LGBT Families Day. I was glad to hear about this initiative at the Gay Parenting Show (highly recommended!). It reminded me of what I recently learned about a growing world-wide tradition to declare a "Family Day" instead of the more arcane "Mothers Day". You see, as a two-fathers family, our kids have to deal with this awkward "holiday" every year. When I was telling my mother on the phone to expect some cards that our kids "helped Aba and Daddy make for their mothers", she was surprised. Because guess what - my parents live in Israel. And apparently several years ago, the Israeli Parliament passed legislation changing Mothers Day into a more inclusive "Family Day". In explanation, the legislators noted that this is done in respect of changing social norms, and the variety of modern family structures, among them those headed by same-sex parents! Take this, all you right-wing religious fanatics who spread hatred in the name of the supposed "Judeo-Christian" tradition. Zion is a light to the nations after all.
I googled the term "family day" and found that indeed there are quite a few other nations that declared such a day. What's amusing is that my mother was convinced that they made this change in Israel so late, since probably the US must have long done so already. You see, outside of the States, some people still thing that everything is more advanced in America. Don't we wish.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Failing Republicans again turn to anti-gay politics to distract voters, and we pay the price

Dear Friend,

Our families are at risk again. Radical right wing groups and their supporters in Congress are gearing up their base to try again to put discrimination against same-sex couples and their families into the United States Constitution.

When Bush and other Republicans are entangled in failed policy initiatives and corruption scandals, and as they are running out of their post-election "political capital" - they again turn to divisive anti-gay propaganda. They hope to distract voters from their failures by inciting hate. So they are reigniting the battle in the Senate over the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment. Please, stand with me and millions of other Americans in rejecting efforts to write discrimination into the Constitution.

This week, the American Family Association alerted their members to expect a vote in the Senate in early March on the Marriage Protection Amendment, formerly known as the Federal Marriage Amendment. In late January, anti-gay Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn) stated, “I have asked the leader to hold a vote on defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The intention is to bring up the Allard constitutional amendment.” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has promised the radical right wing groups a vote in the U.S. Senate this year.

Please contact your United States Senators and Representative in the House of Representatives and urge them to keep the Constitution free from discrimination.

Some important things to remember:

We shouldn't write discrimination into the Constitution, and the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment is discriminatory. Throughout American history, the Constitution has been amended to protect and expand the rights and liberties of the American people. The Constitution should never be amended to single out any group of Americans for discrimination.

The so-called Marriage Protection Amendment would seriously endanger civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The Constitution should not be used as a political weapon. Some Republican leaders are using a vote on the Constitutional amendment to increase voter turnout among their political base.

Take action today to let your Senators know that you oppose the radical right's attempts to use Congress and the Constitution to harm same-sex couples and their children. Click here to take action now!

Friday, April 01, 2005

American Made Bigotry (re: "Clelrics Fighting a Gay Festival For Jerusalem")

[ A letter I wrote to the NY Times regarding a front page article about Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics that oppose the upcoming Gay WorlPride events in Jerusalem...]

To the Editor,

Re: "Clerics Fighting a Gay Festival For Jerusalem" (Front Page, March 31)

While not an answer to the growing trade gap, America does have one booming export: Bigotry. The supposedly unprecedented “interfaith” statement against WorldPride events in Jerusalem has "Made in America" written all over it. As previously reported, this opposition was initiated, galvanized and sponsored by American Evangelists. This statement was given little attention in Israel, where gays enjoy increasing social and legal recognition, and the issue of gay rights has not been politicized in the American fashion.

Indeed, earlier this month, the Israeli Attorney General ruled that same-sex families are entitled to survivor, disability and other social security benefits in order to "realize the ideal of justice, equality and mutual aid." These rights, in addition to many already broadened to include same-sex couples, encountered virtually no public opposition in Israel. American right-wing fundamentalists should not be allowed to intervene and spread intolerance worldwide.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Re: "After Signing Schiavo Law, Bush Says 'It Is Wisest to Always Err on the Side of Life'" (Page 19, March 22)

[a letter I sent to the New York Times]

Dear Editor,

On the day Bush reminds us of the value of life, other news expose his hypocrisy. Others, like the "Bishops [who] Fight Death Penalty In New Drive” (same page), also value life. If for no other reason, our court system has been known to execute innocent (mostly poor and poorly defended) people. And with another major school shooting incident that same day (front page), one wonders if erring on the side of life wouldn't also require stronger gun control laws? This president has erred against the side of life on capital punishment, gun control, by rushing to war, and by presiding over an administration that tolerates an increase in poverty and actual number of abortions. The recent media and legislative hysteria over the Schiavo case is nothing but populist, shallow and deceptive politics as usual.

Ron Poole-Dayan