When Cognitive Dissonance Arrives in the Mail

Today I received the latest issue of the Catholic Sun and a tote bag for being an HRC Partner. Perhaps not a mutually exclusive pairing, but coming on the heels of the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and California’s Prop 8, the two bits of mail made me wonder if I need more clarity in my life.

In the quiet of my front courtyard, I read the articles related to the rulings and admired my tote bag, and concluded I’ll side in favor of love in all arguments, this one included. What’s good in a marriage is a loving couple. What’s good for children are loving grown-ups and, by grown-ups, I mean people who lovingly take on care-taking responsibilities of children, so this could be older siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, moms, dads, adoptive moms, adoptive dads. The sexual orientation of these grown-ups isn’t relevant to their care-taking.

So, my cognizance isn’t dissonant on this fact: Love matters most. Seems to me, the more loving couples there are, the more stable and contented children we’ll have and a huge purpose of marriage is to establish a framework for creating stable and contented children. Joint tax filing, visitation rights, inclusion on phone trees, being able to say “Let me ask my husband and I’ll get back to you”…also nice.

The Supreme Court weighed in, not to establish itself as an oligarchy, but because state and federal laws related to marriage were challenged with respect to constitutional protections. In cases like this, it’s the Supreme’s Court’s job to weigh in. I’m always pleased when government workers do their job, since they work for me (and all other American citizens). I can’t afford to hire slackards.

Always good a good day when the mail makes me think.

Always good a good day when the mail makes me think.

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An Uphill Climb

Some days it feels like every step forward is an upward one. Sure, I guess this could be tiring, but consider the view from the top. Last weekend I hiked up to 10,000 feet with my family, the highest my kids have gone with their feet still on the ground. Before getting out of cell phone range, I had down-loaded HRC’s photo ap for imprinting pictures with the red version of the logo. Using it along the trail, of course, colored my thoughts as well as my snapshots of the quaking aspens. How could it not occur to me that I was hiking with my family, a small gaggle of four individuals who, because of the gender differences between my husband and I, were recognized, legally, by the Nation as a family.

I imagined what it might feel like if this weren’t the case. . .Sure, I might be able to still enjoy a hike (on federal land by the way), but I wouldn’t feel like the constitution had my back.

I’ve been mad at the United States Supreme Court ever since they decided the Gore/Bush presidential election, but today, by striking down DOMA, I get to remember why I had admired the court in the first place. They ruled on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. I’m happy, because I agree with the decision. I believe every loving couple in the United States should be able to enjoy the federal and state privileges my husband and I do. But I feel proud of the governmental process, because the Supreme Court did what they are called upon to do by the constitution. Decide of the constitutionality of laws.

And, in the time it’s taken me to write this post, the California case ruling has been announced. So, Yay for my home state!

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Political Fruit

I have a slow colon. It’d make sense to blame the sedentary lifestyle of the writer, sitting at my desk, tapping away, too caught up in the words pouring from that magical place in my mind to heed the signals that my large intestine needs a work out. Sure, I could buy that. But I blame the political fruits that my dad’s ethics (and eventually my own) restricted me from eating. While other kids were happily building strong intestinal walls to last a lifetime by noshing away at grapes washed down with a tall glass of OJ, I was just standing in my imaginary picket line longing to join them.

I’m a berry lover, so grapes are not my absolute favorite fruit, but they rank in the top ten. During the collective struggles of migrant farm workers for better conditions, my dad refused to buy grapes. That he still drank grapes in the form of deep red wine he bought by the gallon didn’t alter the fact that I had no grapes to eat. I went along with the grape boycott for the sole reason that I thought my dad was always the smartest person in the room (he still is) and if he said it’s wrong to eat grapes, than it was infallibly wrong. He was like my Pope.

So fast forward a few years to when I have a mind of my own. It’s 1977 and I love orange juice. By now my dad has moved to Oregon and I’m living on my own and still in high school. (Mom had been out of the picture since I was five, but for the record she was living in Southern California near an orange grove). I was living in Berkeley. Then way over in Florida, a woman named Anita Bryant had an opinion about homosexuality. She was against it. And she loved orange juice enough to be on TV singing the praises of OJ. So, I was faced with an ethical dilemma. What do I love more: OJ or homosexuals? Naturally, I stopped drinking orange juice.

Especially after Harvey Milk was murdered the following year.

When people start getting murdered for actively being themselves and working to allow other people to freely be themselves, I think about the bewigged dudes who scratched out the constitution with quill pens, how in 1789 when they added on the first ten amendments and so created the Bill of Rights they might not have envisioned all the ways in which Americans might need their civil and human rights protected. They gave us a good head start, but there is definitely still more work to be done. So if Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) suggests a new political fruit I should forgo to move the civil and human rights of the LBGT community forward, I’ll listen to him or any other group working to enlarge the scope of Americans who can fully enjoy the rights due them by the Constitution of the United States.

In the meantime, I have an orange tree growing in my backyard and a grapevine in the front to help keep me regular no matter what civil rights politics takes off my plate.

grapes in my yard

grapes in my yard

orange tree in the back with resident wildlife

orange tree in the back with resident wildlife