02 May 2013

A CONSERVATIVE Texan's thoughts on Equality

Rhode Island has become the tenth US state to grant same sex marriage equality.  Texas is NOT among the other nine.

It may come as a shock to some who believe all Texans are Bible thumping, hate mongering, hypocrites but as a true CONSERVATIVE I am for Equality.  Sadly too many mouthy, judgmental, hateful, nasty 'christians' claim that God gives them the power to hate, to be cruel, to be nasty.

I was raised a Southern Baptist.  For those who may be a bit confused on what that is, let me give you a quick & dirty rundown.  Southern Baptists don't drink, don't dance, don't gamble, don't do drugs, and are fine upstanding people.  Southern Baptist women are meant to be quiet, pregnant, in the kitchen while the man takes the reins of everything.  Well, that's what SOME Southern Baptists would like you to believe.  It is incredibly far from the truth.

My Poppy was a deacon in our church.  It was years before he would take the position as he drank beer regularly.  My Mimi was anything but a quiet, subservient wife in the shadows.  She was a lady about it, but she spoke her mind and stood her ground.  You might never have expected to find cold hard steel in her veins, but under than cute little rolly polly exterior beat the heart of a lioness.

My aunt sat on the board until she was RUN OUT of that church by some of the aforementioned hateful, nasty 'christians'.  She was legitimately elected to office by the members of that church and a few holier-than-thous decided to take it upon themselves to 'cleanse' the church of her.  They claimed her being gay was morally wrong and God was against it, that Jesus condemned her for it.  Thing is, Christ NEVER said anything about homosexuality.  PERIOD.  Nada!  Not one single, solitary, RED word was EVER attributed to him.

These same holier-than-thous put into office, without election, a gay man that then cruised the church for young men to abuse.  He was caught doing it many times but was always protected by those nasty 'christians', the vipers in the den so to speak.  Don't think gay had anything to do with their hate - they used it as an excuse to punish those they wanted & reward those that kissed their asses.  That is NOT in keeping with the message of Christ.

I was raised by true Christians.  Those who said it was NOT their place to judge, not their right to deny others the same things they took for granted.  People who would give you the shirt off their back, the sweat of their brow, the food from their plate.  People who were learned, 5 generations of teachers & counting!, educated, worldly people who stood for what was right.  There was no moral grey ground, there was right & there was wrong and there aren't enough of them left in my opinion.

As a product of these people I can not, WILL not stand idly by and watch my fellow Texans denied the very basic right of marrying someone they love.  I'd like to take on quite a few of the most common arguments against equality - in all its forms.

Marriage has LONG predated Christianity, every Abrahamaic religion is a baby compared to the concept of marriage.  Marriage was not "one man, one woman".  Even today Islam, an Abrahamaic religion at its core, is NOT about "one man, one woman".  Mormons, not Abrahamaic but still a commonly practiced religion, is NOT "one man, one woman".  That argument will NOT hold water with anyone that has even a passing understanding of human history.

Marriage between consenting adults has been going on long before Christianity came to this land.  Hundreds of tribes held same sex marriage as sacred, blessed by the Gods.  Just because someone says that Jesus says its wrong doesn't mean it is.  Nor does the claim that no one has ever done same sex marriage here make it so.

The government has no business deciding what consenting adults can, or can not, get married.  The government only takes money to issue a marriage license.  Since the government issues the money, and issues the license, at what point does someone who is 'gay' using make it illegal?  How can a government both issue money claiming to represent the people while at the same time denying the people the ability to spend it equally as they see fit?

The Equal Protection clause clearly states that any marriage contracted in one state is valid in all others.  Hence why my 16+ years of marriage have been valid in Colorado and Virginia even though I was married in Texas.  What basic Constitutional understanding would allow someone to believe that the Equal Protection Clause applies only to heterosexuals?

Those that claim marriage is for the production of children, since when?  In my own family I can pinpoint people who are married without children.  Be it the male or female that is infertile, a conscious choice not to have children, or a medical condition preventing it their marriage is no less valid under the law.  Bearing children is NOT and never has been the point of marriage.

The claims made that marriage can't be redefined.  I beg to differ.  Two hundred years ago my father would have had to PAY my husband land, crops, goods, or animals if not all the above, to marry me.  In short, I would have been SOLD by my father to my husband.  That is not marriage.  That is a form of slavery.  Thousands of years ago I would have had to have slaves to buy my marriage.  Heaps of gold, spices, pricey materials, animals, property, land, slaves ... they were all required to purchase a groom.  We don't do that any more, thus marriage has already been 're'defined.

One of the more ludicrous arguments is that if gays can marry, then homosexuality will spread.  That one is so far beyond the reach of logic, but I shall try.  Guns are legal, not everyone owns one.  Cars are legal, not everyone owns one. Marriage is legal, not everyone marries.  The sheer lunacy of saying that two consenting adults making a commitment will somehow make people gay is just beyond me.

There are those that say a gay marriage will cheapen their heterosexual marriage.  My marriage is NOT under threat from gay people.  There isn't some light in his loafers man hiding in a dark alley waiting to jump my husband & make him FABULOUS!!!  If you're really that terrified that your marriage will end and your spouse will marry someone of the same sex, you've got much deeper issues in your life.

The most odious, to me, claims are from those quoting Leviticus.  One can not claim Christianity & go Old Testament.  Christ clearly stated he came to make a NEW covenant, thus negating the old one.  He negated the dietary laws of Leviticus - bacon y'all, we're talking the loss of bacon if we go OT.  The sheer number of supposed, self described 'christians' that flaunt every violation of Leviticus while claiming homosexuality is wrong boggles my mind!  God said all sin is equal, thus eating bacon is on par with being gay if you want to actually see the Bible for what it says.  Polyester clothing, shellfish, BACON, they're all wrong according to Leviticus.  In my world, if BACON is wrong I don't want to be right!!

I think I hit on most of the big arguments against equality, but really they all boil down to one nasty, ugly truth.  That some Americans believe they're legally better than others.  That is in direct violation of our basic premiss of government.  "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."  The ability to LIVE, the LIBERTY to purse HAPPINESS.  Not dependent upon color, religion, sexuality, hair style, height, age, weight, yada yada yada.  Just the basic 3 rules of our entire form of government - LIFE, LIBERTY, pursuit of HAPPINESS.  Gardening makes me HAPPY, doesn't mean I'm going to force you to garden!  Mall shopping does NOT make me happy, but I'm not going to try to ban you from doing it if you enjoy it.  Thus, no one who truly supports liberty, any basic student of logic, any true Christian, can possibly stand against equal rights.  It is beyond odious to me that some even dare attempt to twist such basic, honest beliefs to fit their hate.

09 January 2013

Shifty Powers & how we treat our REAL Heroes

So the oft carried, always miss attributed, Shifty Powers letter is making the rounds again on Facebook.  It got me to thinking.  Sadly, Darrell Powers (aka Shifty) passed in 2009, right before we PCSd back to the states.  I know we got coverage on AFN in Europe, but I doubt there was much coverage in the states - it isn't like the man was a genuine HERO (at least according to the garbage they show on US tv).

I remember, late May 2002, waiting to board a plane in Dallas.  We were flying out to our next duty station in England.  There was a mild kerfuffle at the x-ray & security station.  I thought nothing of it really, until I realized the hold up was an elderly gentleman & his wife.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he was being held up, he clearly did not pose any threat to anyone.

I was busy getting an infant, a young child, myself & the husband through security so I wasn't paying that much attention.  Until I caught the emblem on his hat.  It was just a standard dark blue, military retiree style, baseball cap.  I had made a mental note to tell him "Thank You" for your service when I realized it was a retiree, but that emblem.  It troubled me.  I KNEW it, but it was rare to see.  I honestly had to think about it for a few moments before I placed it.  That was a very rare, very seldom seen, very important emblem.

That is, for those who may not know, a Congressional Medal of Honor ribbon.  That was the ribbon on his hat!  When it hit me what it was, I was in genuine awe.  That is not a medal often seen, and it was awarded for going well above the call of duty to his nation.  It made me that much more determined to give him a proper thanks for his service, and hopefully find out a little bit about him.

I got a moment to speak to him while we were waiting to board early.  He was accepted for early boarding, I assume, due to his age.  We got early boarded due to the kids.  I was just glad we managed to be right behind him in line so I could chat with him.

Turns out he served on the European front, and was captured by the Germans.  He didn't go into much, but I mentioned my great-grandfather was a POW of the Japanese (he was), and was rescued from Cabanatuan.  This gentleman, I never caught his name he was very polite but not at all in to talking about his exploits, made a point of saying he endured nothing compared to what the Japanese did to their POWs.  That, to the great granddaughter of a man who lived it, is belittling his own experiences.  The Germans weren't nice to POWs, they didn't obey the rules of war, they blocked the Red Cross just as much.  This man went hungry, was cold, was mistreated, had suffered in the name of his fellow countrymen & women to protect them from his very pain.  He was, and IS, an hero.  He came when called, he offered his life blood to his nation to protect & defend those he loved.  That is no small feat.  This man, who had fought for his country while a young man, didn't think himself worthy of what my great-grandfather went through.  It nearly broke my heart for him to think he didn't really do anything worthy of the praise he received.

He went on to mention that he didn't endure nearly what those that didn't come home did.  The mark of a truly humble, honest, quiet servant of his nation & people.  He discounted his own trauma, his own suffering, as not up to that which others endured.  I had no real response to that, other than he served his nation where & when he was needed and he shouldn't think that his experiences weren't important.

I happened to ask what the hold up was at the security line.  I was being nosy, I admit it.  It turns out he was flying with THE MEDAL in his carry-on bag.  Yes, THAT medal.  The highest honor his nation's military could bestow on him (or anyone for that matter) for his military service.  He offered to get it out & show it to me, but he was already being much more than polite by having a chat with me so I didn't put him out in any way.  Yes I'd have LOVED to see it, but then I'd have wanted to touch it and well, that's just rude!

The reason THE MEDAL was in his carry on?  I shouldn't have to explain that one.  The fact that it was is what had caused the kerfuffle.  Apparently security made him put it through the x-ray machine!  Then demanded he open it as it was metal & it seems they though it was a "threat" to security.  Not a "thank you sir, for your service". Not an awed silence at seeing one, and the man who earned it.  Just total ignorance of WHAT it was, and WHY he had it.  That, well even now I admit flabbergasts me!  How far the US has fallen that a real, genuine, CMOH award recipient & his CMOH were unknown, and instead viewed as a security threat!

This quiet, unassuming man who should have had parades in his honor, was a "threat" as deemed by the security folks at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.  As a Texan, I was doubly humiliated and offended that this man was ill treated.  He bore it with quiet dignity, answering their questions about himself & the medal.  He bore my questions & chat with dignity.  All I had to offer to him in return was a mere, meager, "thank you".  I'm sure he'd had that before, and I pray he had it since, but I was honored to be in his presence & to have the ability to offer such a thanks.

We boarded the plane, and as we always keep the kiddos on until last to avoid the crush to get off, I didn't get to speak to him again.  I never did catch his name, and never really knew enough of his service to find him on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society site.  Sadly I don't know if he is still living or if he has since passed.  What I do know is that for one fleeting moment in time, I stood beside & chatted with, a REAL hero.  I know that one of the, still giving, gifts of his service & his life is my thankfulness for the smallest moment to speak to him.  To offer to him the true thanks of myself, for everything he endured.

I never got to meet my great-grandfather, he passed long before my birth, but I did get to meet a man who bore arms at the same time he did.  Maybe a different theater, a different version of the same nasty enemy of freedom, but a man of quiet honor none the less.  I hope he knew just how much it meant to me to get to speak to him, to get to offer him a humble, simple thanks.
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