Marriage Equality: We Meet Again

Marriage Equality: We Meet Again

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past several months (which I wouldn’t judge), you probably know that on November 6th Washingtonians will have the opportunity to be one of the first states in the U.S. to uphold gay marriage at the ballot box.

My relationship with Marriage Equality, like a lot of queer folks, is complicated. I’ve had, heard, and landed on both sides of the debates surrounding how Marriage Equality campaigns have drawn much-needed resources out of social justice issues such as the school to prison pipeline, access to health care, and youth homelessness to name a few.

I have to admit, I have landed on the side of the debate that Marriage Equality is, in fact, important. I agree, it is not the only issue queers should be fighting for. However, I can also see that Marriage Equality has the potential to affect many people’s lives on a very fundamental and positive level.

For example, I was going to school in Maine during election season in 2009 when Mainers had the chance to uphold Marriage Equality (they didn’t—they voted to repeal it by about a 6% margin).  Leading up to the election, I attended a few community meetings for academia and out of personal interest.

The most notable was a discussion on Marriage Equality and religion led by Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop.*  During the discussion, multiple gay men stepped up to ask the bishop how they should reconcile their feelings of anger towards people that had physically and/or verbally assaulted them based on their sexuality.  In other words, in that room for the folks present, there was a strong connection between basic physical and emotional safety and Marriage Equality.

It began to sink in for me that for some people Marriage Equality is not just about a certificate, or even all the legal rights that go with marriage; it’s also about basic respect and dignity. It is about the sense that the right to marry might lead to greater public acceptance, and, therefore greater safety physically, emotionally, legally and psychically.

My hope for the fight for Marriage Equality in Washington, Maine and Maryland (the three states that have it on the ballot this election season,) is that it will be approved at the ballot box to promote safety for LGBTIQ folks on all levels.

However, I genuinely hope it doesn’t end there.  I hope folks can start using the conversation about Marriage Equality in broader terms—that connections will be made between the legal, physical and emotional vulnerability that queer folks have with the legal, physical and emotional vulnerability that, for example, communities of color have in relation to the war on drugs and racial profiling.  (Not to say they are comparable, the same experience or don’t intersect either, just to say they are all pieces of the same puzzle…and it’d be worthwhile to think about Initiative 502 as part of that puzzle.)

In essence, I hope that we can all start to see and talk about the campaign for Marriage Equality more broadly—that we all should really be thinking about, debating and campaigning for ways we can create spaces and environments where everyone feels safe and is capable of thriving.

*Gene Robinson will be leaving his post in 2013 due to continual threats to his life and personal safety since he became bishop in 2004.

This blog post is by Shann Molly, friend of the Bus.

Guest Post! My Tam’s Guide to Citizenship and First Time Voting Pt. 1

Guest Post! My Tam’s Guide to Citizenship and First Time Voting Pt. 1

This post was written by My Tam Nguyen, friend of the Bus and all around awesome person:

Are you a good citizen?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself for the past three months. I was born in Vietnam, a country not known for its democratic process. The first eight years of my life were spent in a fishing village. I did not grow up with running water, running toilets, or electricity, much less a culture of democracy, voting, or civic engagement. I immigrated to the United States in 1992, and 20 years later, I’m finally a citizen.


I currently volunteer in the community and work in community engagement, you’d think that I would know how this political stuff works by now. Somehow my involvement always felt distanced from the foray of power and political play and process. Secretly, I had feared that although I was a green card holder, it could be taken away if I was too politically opinionated or involved. The moment I was sworn in three months ago on July 31, something changed–I gained a sense of duty along with the great privilege of being an American citizen. I am now a voter, can fully participate in the democratic process, and no longer have to operate with the fear of living at the fray.

It is of great relief to gain the freedoms of being an American, and it is also a great obligation to our community and country that I do my due diligence to be an informed voter. I am not taking this responsibility lightly.

This post, will be the beginning of a series on how I navigate this process. I hope that my civic adventures can help shed light on your own experience of voting a complex ballot this year!
My very first voter’s ballot arrived in the mail this week, and I’m a bit overwhelmed on how to approach this thing. I know it’s important, and there is so much in there that is relevant to our generation: legalization of marijuana, gay marriage, how state universities are able to spend their money. Along with the ballot, is a 135-page voter’s pamphlet full of pictures of smiling politicians and text describing how awesome they are and why they should get my vote. Am I really supposed to read this whole thing? OK, I tried. I was supposed to find answers in the pamphlet, and all I have are a bunch of questions:

Is there a CliffsNotes for the voter’s pamphlet? How in the world does someone make time to fully engage and make informed decisions with the mere two-week window between getting the pamphlet and turning in the ballot? Especially in between Facebooking, tweeting, Instagramming, and not to mention leading an awesome life and finding a way to pay the rent.

I started to ask around, and with some good ‘ole Googling, I present to you three steps I think are my pathway to becoming a well-informed citizen and voter:

1. Read & Research
2. Show Up & Question
3. Decide & Conquer

Next post…Reading and Researching. Stay tuned!