Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So NOT over it

I am really bothered by some things. The top of my list starts with Rick Warren.

I don't get it. How is picking a pastor who is NOT inclusive, being inclusive?

He compared gay people to pedophiles and bestiality. He said that even if it is proven that being gay is biological, that gay people should still resist it, just like people resist being angry or fearful. Then he said that he had gay friends (I'm so sure) that asked him why they can't have multiple partners.

Okay, first off, I want the names of these gay friends. What self-respecting gay person would be friends with this guy? And would then ask him a question that would validate every stereotype that he has about gay people? I want names. Then I want their gay citizenship revoked.

Except, I don't think there are really any gay friends. And I really don't think that they asked him why they can't just have sex with multiple people. I think he made it up to sound like he knows what he's talking about. Because if he said, I don't know any gay people, I'm not friends with any gay people, and I know they all want to have multiple partners, well, who would listen?

Well, unfortunately, people who are looking for a scapegoat, for a person or a people to hate, they listen. He compared them to people who take advantage of other's weaknesses. To pedophilia and bestiality. He compared them to predators. And then a lesbian gets raped in San Francisco for being a lesbian. Can't anyone see the connection?? When you say that someone is not as good as the rest of us, you are dehumanizing them. When someone is less than human, they don't deserve the same rights as you. You get to tell them what to do. You get to make sure they always get less than you. And, as history has shown, sometimes you make lampshades out of them.

Because the slippery slope is not gay marriage. It was the taking away of gay marriage. As soon as it was okay to take away one right that people had, it opened the door to make it easier to take away another right. As long as that door stays open, rights will continue to slip away. When will it be considered too many by the people who are on the sidelines, the people not fighting this oppression? You know who you are. You pass me while I am holding up my sign and you say "It passed. Get over it."

It passed. Get over it.

What kills me is that NO one who says that to me sees the absolute irony in that. If we, as Americans, were to just "get over" whatever was handed to us and not fight for what we believed in, there would still be slavery, women would have no rights, the civil rights movement would never have happened, and heck, we'd still be British subjects! There is no "getting over" oppression. You fight it.

So, I want you to do this. When you feel like all the gay marriage brooha is ridiculous and you feel like we should just shut up, I want you to look in the mirror and imagine that you've just been told that one of your rights was taken away. Imagine you are no longer allowed to marry, that you can't adopt a child, that you can't serve in the armed forces, and that you can be fired from your job. Imagine it's because of the color of your eyes. Not because you are a bad person or because you broke the law, but because of the random coming together of DNA nine months before you were born.

Then I want you to come and tell me how over it you are.

I still want those names.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Surrobabes

Okay, since stress and anger and not good for you, I need to change the subject a little bit. (Not that my stress and anger are not justified, just need a little break)

My surrogate babies. :)

I have been a surrogate mother to four babies. I had them two at a time, but I couldn't decide which sounded better, "four babies" or "two sets of twins"!

My first set was born on May 25, 2006. They were born to two men. They used an egg donor and me. People all the time ask me how I could give the babies up and I tell them I never gave anything up; I gave them back.

The experience was so amazing and wonderful, I had to do it again and I had a second set of twins on Oct. 23, 2007. The second journey was just as wonderful and amazing as the first. Both times we put in three embryos and two held on. Both times we put in two embryos with one dad as the bio dad and one embryo with the other as the bio dad. And both times we got a baby with each dad as the bio dad! We also got the coveted boy/girl combo both times.

I loved being a surrogate. Loved it with all my heart. It was one of the first times in my life where I felt good at something. And I don't just mean the being able to carry a child to term part. I mean, it was easy for me to be pregnant with a child not my own. It was easy for me to say goodbye at the end. That is probably because "good-bye" was really "see you soon" in both cases. I am welcome to contact them and they are welcome to contact me. I get pictures and updates. I am invited to bris', namings, and christenings. I am told that I am "family". :)

It's also easy for me to empathize with the dads. So, I always wanted to do things the way I thought they would want. I was always extra careful with my precious cargo and treated them as if they were my own (better actually). Since both sets of dads live on the other side of the country, I tried especially hard to make sure they felt involved in the pregnancy. A friend of mine helped me to make a mold of my belly and we had all my friends sign it and I sent it to them. I took video and pictures. I called when I felt the baby move for the first time and would let them know about the burgeoning personalities I felt growing in my body. (The girls were always a little feistier)

I know this will come as a shocker to you, but I support gay rights. That includes reproductive rights. It angers me that it is so difficult for gays to have children. Now, I realize that since it doesn't happen "by accident", that they are going to need some help, but my anger lies with the insurance companies. (And I thought I was going to have an "anger-free"post. Huh.) Why don't they make using a surrogate covered? Well, I know, of course. Money. Oh, but no problem providing Viagra to middle-aged farts so they can pretend they are still 18.

(Gently walking backwards, so as not to wake the anger beast I am apparently intent on taunting.)

Okay, surrobabies. I love them. I love their dads. I think everyone should do a surrogacy. (Well, everyone who likes being pregnant, otherwise, I could see it kinda sucking.) I loved telling people about it. I loved when they said "Oh, you must be so excited!" and I'd say "Sure am! So are their parents!" I loved when they'd find out that it was twins and they'd say, "That's going to be a lot of work!" and I'd say "That's why I'm not bringing them home!" Yep, I like to screw with people.

I don't want to publish pictures of the babies (privacy and all), but here's a picture of me, pregnant with the last set. It was taken four days before they were born. I loved that shirt and I was so bummed I only got to wear it once while pregnant. I had planned on wearing it on Halloween that year, but the babies came a little earlier than planned. It still wore it on Halloween, and since I still had a belly, some people thought I still was pregnant! I let them, since it's easier to get people to move out of your way at a Halloween carnival if they think you are pregnant. Oh yeah, I played that card.
I am so proud of my surrogacies. I hold them dear and I have never, not once, regretted doing them. I only wish I could have done more. It is the most amazing, spiritual, life-affirming thing I have ever experienced. I kept those babies safe and those daddies have beautiful families now. Life is good. :)

Shut up and Sing

That's what I was told. Except without the "and sing" part.

Okay, it started when I read this post on Gay Fresno the other day. It was called "Offensive Condescension". (side note: just figured out how to do a link!) The last line of it said "If you're going to stand up for equal rights, you better be willing to piss someone off."

I love that line. Love it, love it, love it.

Because I am getting SO sick of having to dance around the issue of someone else's bigotry and be SOOO careful not to call them what they are (a bigot).

Okay. From Wikepedia:

"A bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from his or her own, and bigotry is the corresponding attitude or mindset. Bigot is often used as a pejorative term to describe a person who is obstinately devoted to prejudices, especially when these views are either challenged, or proven to be false or not universally applicable or acceptable.
The origin of the word bigot and bigoterie in English dates back to at least 1598, via Middle French, and started with the sense of "religious hypocrite", especially a woman."

Religious hypocrite. Don't ya just love it.

And from Merriam-Webster:

"Bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance"

Okay? Got it? Yet I am told again and again, that this is simply a "difference of opinion". That this is America and that we can "agree to disagree" here. That I am just "name-calling" when I call them a bigot.

So, not only do they need to look up the definition of a bigot, they need to understand the difference between "name-calling" and "naming".

But, I digress.

I read this article and mentioned it to my Republican husband. I said:

"You know what? I AM willing to stand up for civil rights and I AM willing to piss people off!"

All in all, I was pretty darn proud of myself. Usually, I am Miss Smoother-Over and I don't like to make too many waves. And I can back down when challenged. I have been improving, but sometimes having a mantra I can repeat in my head helps. ("Willing to piss people off"-my new mantra!)

Note: I can hear some of you saying that maybe pissing people off isn't the best way to go about convincing them of something. And I agree. That's why the line doesn't say "I am willing to stand up for civil right and I AM going to piss people off". See the difference? But, unless you want to pussyfoot around people for fear of offending them, you need to be willing.

Republican hubby says, "You are already pissing people off."

Okay, I could give you the long version of this conversation, but the short of it is:

I am pissing people off and they want me to shut up already about Prop 8. Who, I ask? Well, RH tells me, everybody. It's like pulling teeth to get it out of him and he names several family members, some of which I have not even talked to in months!

Okay, wrong on so many levels, but the one that pisses me off the most, is that he didn't stand up for me. He didn't say "She is fighting for civil rights that were taken away from a particular group in our society." He didn't say "Why don't you have the balls to tell her yourself?" He just passed along the message.

I only have one thing to say:

I am going to be even louder.

Edited to add: No, I have a second thing to say. Why, when this state (and three others) allowed discriminatory legislation to get on the ballot, when minority civil rights were put on the chopping block with their fates decided by a simple thumbs-up or down by the fickle public, are you pissed off at me?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Politically Correct Prejudice

Why is it okay to discriminate against some people? This morning, I was on a surrogacy website I go to, and someone was upset at being called a bigot. Well, this person said,

"Just because someone doesn't agree or believes differently than you, does not make that person a bigot or "close-minded". Please remember that we all believe differently and most do not go around being hateful to those who think differently. So to those who teach their children differently than you, or to those who disagree with the aforementioned topic, they do not deserve to be called a bigot or "close-minded". They just think differently and that's it. We are all entitled to that and we have that freedom, living here in America."

In other words, it's her right as an American to teach her kids that they are better than people who are different from them. Well, okay, in America, technically, you can do that. What you can't do is do it without being called on it. Because while, legally, it is allowed, morally, it is not okay.

And what a double standard, huh? Why is it okay for her to teach that gays (which is what we were talking about) are second class citizens, but I am not allowed to teach my children that prejudice is wrong?

Yeah, I know, apples and oranges. She is making a sweeping judgement of all gays, while I am judging people by their actions. Actually, that just proves my point that she is practicing prejudice, while I am judging someone on their own merit (or lack of it).

Well, I responded and I was not the only one. I told her that if she was going to teach her children that way, then she should expect to be called what she is. I also pointed out that subtle hate can be more dangerous, as it is more easily hidden. (Okay, you must all go and see "Gentleman's Agreement") I told her that if that is what she believes and teaches, we get to call her prejudiced.

I guess my point is that if she came and started saying that blacks or Jews were not as good as her and her kids, that people would have flipped out on her and it would have been a huge shitstorm. But no. We all tried (pretty darn nicely) to tell her why she was wrong. I don't think people would have felt they needed to be that nice if it had been "politically incorrect bigotry".

I know I have brought this up before, but while we are on the subject of "politically correct bigotry": atheism. Why does my soc teacher keep thinking it's okay to keep picking on me in class? Because it's socially acceptable to pick on atheists. He probably wouldn't dream of picking on a Jewish or a Christian student. But, it's okay to pick on me. I try really hard to just ignore it, but it's not funny and I am getting really annoyed. I keep debating whether or not to report him, but I can't decide if it will do more harm than good.

Also, Muslims. I heard so many people say they were not voting for Obama because "he is a Muslim". And the answer (from Obama supporters) was always "No, of course he isn't." Shouldn't it have been "Why the hell should that matter?"

So, some people (gays, Muslims, Atheists) are okay to be prejudiced against. Really. Good to know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The (completely fabricated) War on Xmas

Okay, this is bugging me lately. My sociology teacher, for three weeks now, has brought up the "War on Christmas". He keeps insisting that you are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" anymore and this really offends him. He keeps bringing up the point that Christmas (unlike Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Ramadan) is a national holiday. Therefore, the only logical thing to do, is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. He refuses to say Happy Holidays. He refuses to sign his Christmas cards that way and he refuses to return the greeting that way to anyone. If you say "Happy Holidays" to him, he will return with "And a Merry Christmas to you."

What bugs me about this? Well, mostly the fact that he has spent THREE WEEKS bitching about it. And he looks at me every time he says it. When he asked if there were any atheists in the class, I raised my hand. So, now, every time he says he is going to say Merry Christmas, he looks at me and says "Well, are you offended?" What a dope.

Well, in his defense, I do think he is trying to be funny, at least a little bit. But, I have explained to him, many time, that I don't CARE if someone says Merry Christmas. My goodness, isn't it supposed to be a gesture of goodwill, this wishing of a Merry Christmas? Why would I care, or be offended, that someone was wishing me well? If I didn't feel like saying it back, I would just say "Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful holiday, too." How hard is that? For the record, I usually just say Merry Christmas back and I have zero issue with that.

People should be able to practice their religion, for crying out loud. I just don't want my government endorsing one. That means, if a store wants to say "Merry Christmas", that would not be a reason I would pick for not shopping there. Now, if they made their products in China, or used child labor, THAT would be a reason. I don't know anyone who chooses not to shop in a "Merry Christmas" store, but plenty who boycott Wal-mart for all the products made in China and it's lack of caring for how they got those products. (Oh, I could go on about Wal-mart, but not today.)

Basically, saying "Happy Holidays" is saying to someone "I don't know your religion, but I hope you have a nice celebration in this holiday season."

According to some Christians, this will cause you to burst into flames (presumably sent up from hell), your pets will want to get married, and the terrorists will have won. (I'm just kidding, of course. Why would our pets want to get married? Having indiscriminate animal sex is one of the perks of being single.)

So, I guess my point is that NO ONE CARES if people say "Merry Christmas", but people DO care if someone says "Happy Holidays". So, really, come on. A War on Christmas? Somewhere there is a tail wagging a dog.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Evil happens when good people are silent

Thanksgiving was just a few days ago (at least at the time of this writing) and there were many things I had to be thankful for this year. At least one of us has a good job, my family is healthy, I’m in school and doing well, and we have a new roof over our heads this winter. We also have a new president-elect who is capable of complete sentences. So, all should be right in the world, right?

We can be grateful for all we have and still upset at what we don’t have. And what we don’t have is a country that recognizes all of its citizens’ rights. What we have is a country that is going back on its promises of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. If marriage is a “basic civil right” (Loving v Virginia, 1967) and “separate is inherently not equal” (Brown v Board of Education, 1954), then how on Earth can denying same-sex marriages be justified? How can the US Supreme Court decide to be silent on this?

Well, this is what we don’t have that I am still upset about: my fellow citizens being denied their rights. So, I use my First Amendment rights to go and let the world know that this will not stand with me. I protest, because making a big noise is sometimes the only way that people will hear you. I will not stop until every consenting adult that wants to get married, can get married. (Note: I hate that I have to quantify that statement with “consenting adult”. Of course that is what I mean. What idiot would think I meant an animal or a child? Oh yeah, the right wing religious folk, who are using bestiality and pedophiles as an argument against gay marriage. Sorry guys, you were the only ones whose minds were going there. Thanks for dragging us into it.)

We had Thanksgiving late this year. We had family that was not coming in until Saturday, so my mother-in-law and I agreed to wait a couple of days till they got here. We wanted to have as much family present as possible. The only drawback to this plan was that my husband was leaving to go out of town on Saturday morning, but since he doesn’t care for turkey, we had a mini turkey-free celebration with him on Thursday. My point is that I was celebrating Thanksgiving after the protest for Prop 8 on Saturday.

The reason I want you to know this is because while at the protest, I talked to a few people who commented on their own Thanksgivings. Thanksgivings that were spent with family that openly voted against their civil rights. Family that had no issue, apparently, with letting them know this either. They had to sit and break bread with someone who considered them a threat to their own marriage. Let me reiterate: their families did this to them. These are the people that know them and (I hope) love them. These are the people who are supposed to be with you, thick or thin. Yet, these people looked at their homosexual family members and said, “No, you can’t.”

They said, “You can’t have that piece of paper. You can’t have that legitimacy. You can’t have that reassurance. You can’t have that respect. You can’t have that safety net. And as much as you love us, and want our respect and our blessings to be who you are, well no, you can’t.”

And then, I’m sure, they said grace and patted themselves on the back for being able to sit down and break bread with a sinner. Because, oh, they love the sinner. It’s just that pesky sin they hate. Isn’t it just wonderful that we can put aside our differences and enjoy the holidays together? It reminds me of reading about slaves being asked by their owners, “Don’t we treat you well? You like it here, don’t you?” Ugh.

So, I had my Thanksgiving right after this protest. It was my husband’s aunt and uncle and cousin that we were waiting for. They were there when I got there. I hadn’t seen them in awhile and honestly wasn’t sure where they stood on the Prop 8 issue.

The short of it? They voted yes on 8.

My husband’s aunt made sure I knew that she voted for Obama. Why? I don’t know. Maybe to seem cooler to me. Personally, I don’t think it makes any sense to vote for Obama, and then yes on 8. You’ve really cancelled out any common sense you might have had by doing that. Anyway, her reason for doing so was because she had to “vote biblically”. “Vote biblically”? So, that means no more Red Lobster? No women’s rights? Polygamy? Slavery? Public stonings? No more cotton blends?

I tried to reason with her. I tried to tell her all of that, but she kept saying that “biblically”, this is what she believed. But, here’s the most unbelievable part:

“But, Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality,” I said, throwing out one of my favorite arguments. I then sat back, thinking, “Ha, got her!” But, I was about to be broad sided by an argument I had not yet come up against. (Maybe the rest of you had and you’re thinking “silly girl”, and you’d be right. But I am no longer silly and I’ll be ready next time.)

She said:

“I think he did say something about it and it never made it into the Bible. How can you prove he didn’t?”

Now, the main problem is, you are arguing with someone who is arguing that this book was written by a deity, who chooses not to show himself and will offer no proof of his existence. Yet, this book has been used to justify murder, wars, and hatred. This book has been used as a weapon, yet touted as a book of love. Arguing with a fundamentalist Christian is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Like the Jell-O refuses to stick on the wall, logical thought refuses to stick in their heads.

My other problem was my mother-in-law, who at this point was pleading for a peaceful dinner. Since she voted no on 8, I gave in on this one. But, my aunt had to say one more thing:

“Isn’t it wonderful that we can agree to disagree?”

And because I am such a good daughter-in-law, I kept quiet and smiled at her. Later, as I thought about it, I was angry with myself for not thinking of the obvious rebuttal to what she had said. It’s true, how can anyone prove he didn’t say anything about it? But, what did he say? If he had said homosexuality was a sin, don’t you think that would have made the final cut? What are the odds that that would have ended up on the editing room floor? Isn’t it way more likely that he said homosexuality is not a sin? Isn’t it more likely that this man, who preached love, forgiveness and practiced tolerance of others, would have realized that love is love? That there is so much hate and hurt in this world, that to deny love where it is found, is, in fact, the sin?

So, I say this: to all of you out there, who find love where it is, rather than where it “should” be, I am beside you. I will walk with you, chant with you, cry with you and fight with you. I will not be silent the next time I am asked to be silent. I would rather be a good person than a good daughter in law. I thought maybe that it wasn’t the time or place to argue, but I was wrong. Wherever there is injustice or bigotry, wherever someone is trying to cloak their hate in love, whenever someone’s rights are being trampled on, that is the time and that is the place to fight.