Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Catholic Church, Sanctity of Marriage, and Annulments (for the right price) - Part 2

Andrew makes another great point about the Catholic Church and their abuse of annulments. And this one should be salt in the wounds to all gay Catholics and those who love them:

Another point about the Kidman farce. If the church is utterly indifferent to marriages conducted by other churches or the state, then why has it devoted so much effort to demonizing civil marriages for gay couples? Shouldn't they be as irrelevant to the Vatican as, say, civil divorce or re-marriages in other churches? The double standards abound. Some of them can be explained by catering to the rich and powerful (the Kidmans and Sinatras and Kerrys); some can be explained by Orwellian-speak (calling divorces "annulments"); but some can only be explained by bigotry and fear. None of it speaks that well of the Church, it seems to me.

Nope, doesn't speak well at all, which is why I have no regrets with my decision to leave... Share

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Catholic Church, Sanctity of Marriage, and Annulments (for the right price)

There has been a fun little discussion thread developing over at Andrew Sullivan’s blog (here, here, and here) about Nicole Kidman and her very recent second marriage in the Catholic Church to Keith Urban. Andrew, a devout Catholic himself, wonders aloud how Nicole can get married in the Catholic Church since she is divorced (a big no no in the eyes of the Catholic Church) after 10 years of “legal” marriage to Tom Cruise and 2 children. He then asks:

Do weddings with scientologists not count?

A BBC news article clears up some of the confusion:

In fact, Kidman didn't need an annulment for one simple reason: in the eyes of the Catholic Church her 10-year union with Tom Cruise, a renowned Scientologist, never happened.

The original wedding was performed in the Church of Scientology and wasn't recognised by the Catholic faith.

The divorce granted to the couple in 2001 was a legal rather than religious procedure for Kidman.

To which Andrew responds:

I love my church. Its rules are inviolable and eternal, except when they're not. Kidman was legally married for ten years, had two kids, but, as far as the Catholic church is concerned, her marriage to Cruise did not exist! She didn't even have to seek an annulment. But the stricture against a Catholic's divorce and remarriage is absolute - and a Catholic who obeyed the rules all along, and got married in a Catholic first wedding, would be denied the sacraments and barred from re-marrying in church. I guess because I am deemed objectively disordered by my own church, I haven't been as aware of this transparent nonsense as I should have been. (emphasis mine)

To which I must respond to Andrew:

Well Andrew, as a non-objectively disordered ex-Catholic I have been paying attention to this “transparent nonsense” in the Catholic Church for quite some time and I can tell you this: annulments are nothing more than a racket, a religious loophole for those with the bucks who need to skirt the system and move on to spouse #2 or more. I have watched many a devout divorced Catholic sit in the pews with broken hearts and souls while the smarter divorced Cafeteria Catholics waltz up to the altar with a wink and a nod and receive communion and other sacraments normally forbidden to them because they are divorced and then return to the pews where they polish their halos and plan their exit strategy. This longtime abuse of annulments makes such a mockery of the Catholic Church’s “Sanctity of Marriage” argument. For me this is reason #999 in my long laundry list of WTF?‘s that ultimately convinced me to say adios to the only Church I had ever known.

Another of Andrew’s readers has this to say:

I'm surprised and charmed by your unfamiliarity with the Church's annulment practices. One thing I would emphasize is that even for Catholics married in Catholic ceremonies, annulments seem easy enough. I have a friend, a fund-raiser for the Church, who has had two marriages zapped into oblivion, and may have her third erased as well. Just think, some sunny day gay Catholics will be able to take advantage of this particular brand of Church magic. (emphasis mine)

And to this overly optimistic reader I must say:

And what have you been smoking? The Catholic Church is never going to stop with the homophobic, hateful, exclusionary treatment of gays. If they did they’d lose their perfect scapegoat and have no one to blame for all of the pedophile horrors that went on for decades.

Whew, now I am really riled up! I know better than to get started on this subject so late in the evening. Well forget a good night’s sleep now…


Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Wound That Won’t Heal

It was back in September or October of 2004 just before the presidential election when my mother and I received an invitation to go visit a longtime family friend (whom I shall call Mary). Mary now lives on Coronado Island near San Diego, California. I was elated about the prospect of seeing her again after so many years. This was someone I loved, adored, and admired as a child growing up.

Let me backtrack a little at this point. My childhood was a bit rough. My mother, through no fault of her own, ended up a single mother of 5 small children. I was the oldest. My mother was responsible for raising and supporting my 4 brothers and me after my father’s long and very horrible decline into the deep dark world of extreme mental illness. He went from being a successful dentist to a man that could barely function most of the time. My father’s painful journey took him through periods of near catatonic states, wild frightening tirades, and paranoid delusional behavior depending on the medication or lack of. Ultimately in-and-out stays at the State Mental Hospital were routine. (This is an over-simplification of the years of hell in which this drama played out. I don’t usually share this story with anyone so putting any part of it here on the website is a bit akin to walking naked in front of a stadium full of football fans for me. I share this now only because I want those reading this to understand the depth to which I loved and admired this childhood friend.)

My mother is an amazingly strong woman who thankfully had a good college education and as a result a good job in the medical field that allowed her to keep her head above water and her family off the welfare rolls (do you hear that Rick Santorum?). And she had a cabal of strong (mostly women) friends that served as an amazing support system. Mary was one of those women.

Because I had 4 brothers my mother spent many, many of her nonworking hours on some kind of athletic field, either baseball or football depending on the season. It was there that Mary and my mother forged their strong and lifelong bond. My memories of these two women out there in the bleachers, screaming their hearts out in support of their sons while sharing laughter and camaraderie, still brings a smile to my face today. And after the games everyone would end up at Mary’s house for a buffet and an opportunity to discuss and analyze ad nauseum all of the plays of the just-finished game once again. I believe these were some of the happiest days of my brothers’ and my life. They were certainly the events that kept our lives feeling somewhat normal.

Mary had her own rough life story to tell, but she didn’t. Like my mom she took what life dealt her and made the best of it, with no complaints. Like my mom she was strong, optimistic, and amazing. I used to spend hours around her kitchen table, drinking iced tea, and listening to these women laughing and talking as though they did not have a problem in the world. I remember thinking that I wanted to be as good a mom as they were and hoping that God would give me the same kind of unbelievable strength and optimism to deal with life’s ups and downs as these 2 women had.

So when Mary picked us up at the San Diego airport that day my heart was beating with such excitement and anticipation. She arrived in this funky Volkswagen van with the same big warm smile I remember from my childhood days. She hugged us both as though she would never let us go. I could not have been happier to see anyone than I was to see her at that moment.

Because of the configuration of the seats in her van, I took a seat way in the back (there were no center seats in the vehicle) and my mother took the passenger seat next to the driver and off we headed to Coronado Island. We had no sooner pulled away from the airport curb when Mary began passionately talking about the upcoming presidential elections. She let us know in no uncertain terms that she was a Bush supporter, which really wasn’t necessary since she was wearing these huge dangling earrings with red, white, and blue balls the size of ping pong balls on each ear that said Bush For President. She talked and talked and talked about how Bush JUST HAD TO WIN, and how any other scenario would be a disaster. I sat in the back, conflicted, confused, and silent. This was not like the Mary I knew from years ago and I could only attribute this personality change to her recent stroke. I could not remember her ever being so political or loud and forceful with her opinions in her younger days.

The drive from the San Diego airport to Coronado Island is not a long drive, but this drive felt like an eternity. And just when I thought that things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Because of the rumble of the engine (over which my behind was firmly planted) I had a hard time hearing every word of the conversation and thankfully that gave me a built-in excuse for not being an active part of it, but the bits of it that I was catching clued me in that I did not want to be a part of it.

Now I must digress again for a minute. This was back in 2004 and I was still grappling with my rather recent discovery that one of my sons was gay. I had not yet told any of my family about this, including my mother with whom I am very close. I had made a pact with myself that I needed to have everything worked out in my own mind and be totally at peace with everything before I started telling others. I did NOT want to be breaking down in tears as though I was conveying news of a tragedy, I just wanted to tell people in a “this is the way it is” manner that left no room for any response other than “oh, ok”. Also, I did not want to tell anyone until I had my son’s blessing, which at that point in time I didn’t have.

So when I heard Mary saying that Bush was going to save America from the evils of Gay Marriage, I truly felt like I had been sucker-punched. This otherwise intelligent, thoughtful woman had fallen for the filthy, homophobic, fear mongering crap that this pathetic and desperate president had felt he needed to resort to in order to hold on to any chance of winning in the upcoming election. Watching a woman that I had always admired and wanted to emulate buying into this hogwash hook, line and sinker was almost more than I could take. But when she began saying that parents are responsible for making their children gay by either being overbearing mothers or weak or absent fathers, my devastation became completely overwhelming. My eyes began to sting with tears that I quickly swiped away and I fought hard not to vomit right there in the back of the vehicle. I actually started fantasizing about some way to “accidentally” fall out of the car and get mercifully run over by freeway traffic, just so I wouldn’t have to listen to this crap anymore. I knew I could not and would not blurt out that I had a gay son in a moment of anguish just to shut her up. That would not have been fair to my mother or my son and it would have been a cruel way to humiliate her into embarrassed silence. That would not have made me feel any better. Besides, I still wanted to believe that she was just suffering from the aftermath of a stroke.

Then a truly beautiful thing happened. My wonderful mom spoke up with the first words of wisdom I’d heard since climbing into the car. My mother, the unknowing grandmother of a gay grandson herself, told Mary that she had never ever bought into any of that utter nonsense. She said she had known many wonderful gay people and she absolutely, positively believed that none of them had had a choice in the matter. She also went on to debunk completely the myth that parents are to blame for their children’s homosexuality. And she summed it all up by saying: “… because if weak or absent fathers, or strong and as you say overbearing mothers are reasons for gay sons Mary, then I would have had 4 gay sons. I am truly shocked that you could believe that garbage. You know better than that.” And with that, the subject was put to bed for the rest of the stay. Unfortunately my sadness was not.

I think of that painful drive to Coronado often and it still hurts as much as the day it happened. I replay it over and over wondering if there was something I could have said instead of agonizing in silence. It was sad watching the image of one of my childhood heroes shatter before my eyes that day, but it was wonderful watching my biggest hero, my mother, rise to new heights. I still love Mary with all my heart; nothing can change the role she played in my life. I know now that she is human and that she certainly does not have all of the answers. I just had to grow up to realize it. The time just wasn’t right to speak up about my son that day, but someday I hope to have another opportunity to gently tell her about my beloved son and let her know what a wonderful young man he is. And then I would add that even if I could change him, I wouldn’t. He is just as God intended him to be: Gay and perfect.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Stranger and GOP Hypocrites

Amendment: Congress shall recognize no votes or opinions about the sanctity and preservation of marriage from its members who have been divorced and/or remarried while their first spouses are still alive. (To say nothing of those who are married while not-so-secretly fucking someone on their staff.)

Hat tip to AMERICAblog Share

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh Delta, Thank You

I have always been a fan of Delta Burke. I never really could put my finger on any one reason, but I loved her just the same. She just always seemed to me to be so real, so human, and so fun. She also helped put a kinder, softer, less rigid face on my impression of what the Deep South was like.

Well the Advocate has given me one reason to love her even more:

I took this play because I have hope too. Times are changing, folks, because of people like you who are putting a face on being gay, showing the world that you are just like the rest of us. You are God’s creations, and you are perfect. And someday, hopefully in my lifetime, we will have Mark’s perfect world.

So, yes, I believe in gay marriage. I believe in equal rights.

And I too dream of a perfect world. And in my perfect world there will no longer be the need to give Equality Awards, because equality will simply be. Now, don’t think I’m giving this back, because I love awards…and tiaras…and homosexuals. Thank you very, very much. This means so much.

No, thank you Delta.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can Cheaters Run For President?

Can Cheaters Run For President? Well why the hell not? If they have the unabashed audacity to tell those of us who are married, raised families, weathered the ups and downs of life, and still managed to stay married for 25 years how they can protect the sanctity of our marriages, then why not go all the way out on the limb and run for President of the United States? And oh hey ---- while you are at it boys, tell us again how you are the Party of family values, morals, and ethics. Oh pretty please with sugar on top, make my day, you big bunch of hypocrites.


Hey Dems, Where Are You When We Need You Most?

As a straight, married (25 years), mother of three, I am rather new to the fight for equality the GLBT community has had to wage pretty much on their own for years. One of the biggest shocks for me was realizing how much politicians use the GLBT community for their own personal gain, and I include politicians on both sides of the aisle in this accusation. There are the politicians who gladly hold out their hand and accept Gay and Lesbian dollars and votes in return for empty promises of support. And there are the politicians who use Gay and Lesbian issues as divisive, destructive, and hateful wedge issues to gain and maintain a political edge. I am ashamed at how blind and naïve I was about all of this. And even more shameful is the fact that I remained ignorant (maybe on purpose) about it until I found out I had a personal stake (my beloved gay son) in the battle. It is just disgusting to me how few people we elect to public office to represent us in government are willing to take a stand in favor of controversial issues like gay marriage. It is as though their job, once in public office, is to defend and protect their jobs rather than to look out for the people who put them in office in the first place (yes, gay people vote and so do their families).

There was a day when Democrats had the courage to take what at first were unpopular stands and fight like hell for those whose rights were being trampled. But those days obviously ended a long time ago in another era. Now I know there are exceptions to what I am saying, but try as I might, Senator Feingold is about the only name that comes to mind as I type. What I want to know is what the hell happened to the Democrats? I thought they were supposed to be the champions for the little guy. For the most part the Democrats up on the Hill today look like a bunch of spineless, mealy-mouth people who weigh and measure every word out of their mouth to make sure the number of people they curry favor with outweigh the number of people they offend. They put their wet finger in the air and decide whether an issue is politically advantageous to take a stand on and if it is not, they scurry for cover like a bunch of cockroaches. I can only thank God that most of this sorry group of politicians was not around during the Civil Rights Movement. No wonder the GOP has been so successful in making the Democrats out to be spineless, stand-for-nothing, cowardly people. Note to Democrats: today’s GOP are horrible, valueless, scoundrels, but on this you make it easy for them to look like they have a valid point.

Because we just moved to a new home, I had to re-register to vote. I knew I was going to change my political affiliation (I held off from doing this sooner only because I liked the phone polls I got to participate in), but when the moment of truth finally arrived, I found myself in a true dilemma. I just could NOT see myself ever wanting to claim this pathetic Democratic party as the party to represent me so I punted and decided to call myself an Independent. I am just a mom, but I want people in office who will fight for all of my children with the same fire and fury that I would. This group of Democrats has flunked the test. No politician will ever get my dollar or my support until he/she proves to me that their job security takes a back seat to the little guy, all little guys, not just the ones that help their poll numbers. Pam constantly makes the point that we cannot look to today’s Dems for support on gay issues. As she says:

Maybe the Dems will … come to the realization that gays, those in favor of reproductive freedom, and citizens concerned with privacy rights (just to name a few disillusioned portions of the Dem base) will refuse to vote for sellout Dems.

Now I am a glass-half-full kind of person and I do have hope, not in today’s out-of-touch politicians, but in everyday Americans out there living everyday life and interacting with everyday people. I recently read an article that Pam pointed to on her blog written by Cokie and Steve Roberts. What was refreshing about this article was their admission that they had changed their minds and their stands on gay marriage after actually getting to know two people whose lives we heterosexuals feel we have the right to control, oppress, and degrade. This article gives me hope that the day in which gay equality is a reality and not a goal is getting closer and closer.

Snippets from the article:

As Kevin told us: "Each of us has found what most people spend a lifetime looking for -- the one person who knows us better than any other, the person who will sacrifice for the other, the person who will care for and protect the other." Adds Grant: "Marriage is about creating family. Kevin will be my family after July 8th."

Ironically, the invitation to the wedding party (the actual ceremony will be in Canada, where gay marriage is legal) came just as the Senate was debating and rejecting a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. "Marriage is under attack," thundered Sen. Bill Frist, the majority leader, and he has a point (think of the disposable men in "Sex and the City" and the disposable women of "The Sopranos"). But it's not under attack from the likes of Kevin and Grant. In fact, the precise opposite is true.

These young men embody all the values of tradition and tenacity that foes of gay marriage say they believe in. The whole idea that they endanger the institution of matrimony by wanting to join it is absurd. And they are hardly unusual.


We've always supported civil unions, which give same-sex couples certain legal rights. But we shared the concerns of our good friend, Rep. Barney Frank, an outspoken gay leader, who worried that America was not ready for gay marriage.

His fears are still justified in many parts of the country. And we don't think religious institutions should be forced to perform or recognize same-sex ceremonies.

But the trend line is clear. According to the Gallup poll, 39 percent of Americans now approve of gay marriage, an increase of 12 points over the last decade. Despite all the over-heated rhetoric about gays "undermining" marriage, real-world experience tells a very different story.

Same-sex unions have been legal in parts of Canada for three years and that country has hardly collapsed into social anarchy. Even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has adapted, assigning gay couples near each other. Jason Tree, a Mountie who is marrying his partner this summer, told the Washington Post: "Just look at the last 10 years to see how far we have come in Canada. I'm hoping some day soon this will all die down."

So are we. Virtually every American has gay friends (sometimes without knowing it). Vice President Cheney has a gay daughter, who says the Republican Party should "wake up" and recognize the growing tolerance for same-sex relationships. Like Kevin and Grant, she deserves to marry her own partner and create her own family. And be boring.

So when the day finally arrives in which gays and lesbians enjoy the same rights as everyone else, I don’t think we will be sending thank you notes to the Democrats cowering up on the Hill today. Sadly, this could have been their time to really shine. History will show them they really missed an opportunity to show the world once again what the Democratic Party is supposed to be about.

It seems Gary Hart is also frustrated with the Dems up on the Hill.
He wrote a blistering piece for the Huffington Post today: "There is something in life a lot more important than holding on, at all cost, to a Congressional seat. There is integrity, there is conviction, and there is courage. History's jury will sit in judgment today on those Democrats and will find wanting those without the conviction and courage to say enough."

Hat tip to Political Wire


Saturday, June 17, 2006

No I Didn’t Die, I Just Wished I Could Have

The good news is we are moved and pretty much settled. The bad news is we have to do this again in a year, which puts us dead-smack in the middle of summer once more (hey this is Arizona, summer starts early here). And it was noooo picnic this year at 112 degrees.

But aside from the gratuitous complaining above --- I am back and just about ready to get into full swing again with discussions and seething rants. There certainly is never any shortage of idiotic things to talk about --- like uhmmmm … that Marriage Protection Amendment. That was a real winner for the GOP --- wasn’t it?

But not all Conservatives are over-the-edge nuts, so in fairness, let me point you to one such person who seems rather sane and reasonable, a rarity amongst today’s so-called Conservatives. His editorial should be required reading for his brethren up on the Hill. Here are some snippets.


But I cannot fathom the political and moral logic that lies behind the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, better known as the "gay marriage ban."

If there is any document that needs to be preserved from religious squabbling and moralizing, it is the Constitution.

The Constitution doesn't exist to resolve religious disputes. It exists to provide a just and equitable environment of laws and rights in which citizens can address religious issues, along with equally thorny issues involving human rights, property rights and competing claims for power.

The Constitution doesn't exist to implement a certain "American way of life." It exists to ensure an environment of freedom in which the ways Americans live can flourish and evolve, within a common commitment to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," as stated in the Declaration of Independence.

The Constitution doesn't exist to implement certain religious beliefs. The colonies had been down that road and it was disastrous. The Constitution exists to provide an environment in which all citizens are free to worship and to believe as they choose. It is difficult to imagine a situation more antithetical to the American way than faith by fiat.


Moreover, by ignoring actual causes of family breakdown and targeting homosexuality as the factor requiring sanction, it sets up a classic scapegoating dynamic: If your marriage is in trouble, it must be the fault of gays and lesbians. What then? Pogroms, like those launched by church and czar against Jews in 19th century Russia?

The stability of American society depends far more on freedom, justice, fairness and common sense than on banning certain expressions of human sexuality. History has taught us to ask: If gays are today's target for moralistic repression, who will be tomorrow's?

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan


12 Year Old Girls & 14 Year Old Boys Can Marry, But…

Ok, so Colorado recognizes English common law, which legalizes marriages at age 12 for girls and 14 for boys. But two consenting adults of the same sex cannot enter into a loving committed marriage? Wow, that just boggles the mind, doesn’t it.

Yooo hooo….. James Dobson, wake up, while you’ve been obsessing about gays, all hell has been breaking loose around you. Time to stop focusing on gays and start focusing on what really hurts families, otherwise people might think you are just a big fat fraud. Share