Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest post/s for Pagan Values Blogging Month?

June 2011 is the third International Pagan Values Blogging Month

I've participated in this project in the past, and have found it really interesting, as well as helpful in my own spiritual growth and my own ministry. 

This year, I hope to write something again myself and to explore this topic further.  But I also find myself wondering:

Are there folks -- Pagans, Pagan Quakers, or Quaker Pagans -- who are interested in writing about this, but who don't have blogs of your own?  

Would you be interested in writing a guest post for this blog?  

If so, let me know, and give me a way to get in touch with you, and we'll explore the possibility and hopefully work something out. 

I think I'd love to have one or more guest posts on this topic this year, with viewpoints different from my own, and I'd like to explore that with anyone who's interested. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do you have to get divorced every time you move?

Are you married?

If so, when's the last time you had to get divorced and remarried just because you moved within the United States?

If you're in an opposite-sex couple and you're married, chances are you got married, and no matter where in the US you've moved, you've stayed married.  It's probably never occurred to you to get divorced and remarried just because you were moving to another city or county in your state, or to another state.

Sounds pretty silly, actually, right?

But if you're in a same-sex couple, though, this might sound all too familiar to you:
  • If you live in a city or state that offers a legal domestic partnership or civil union, and you move, your current domestic partnership / civil union / etc. is not valid in the city or state where you're moving.
  • If by some chance the place where you're moving offers domestic partnership, civil union, or civil marriage, in order to register a new one there, you have to dissolve your current domestic partnership or civil union first.
  • In certain jurisdictions, it won't be enough to file the new paperwork; you will have to have another wedding ceremony in order for your domestic partnership / civil union / civil marriage to be legally binding.  Going to City Hall and/or appearing before a judge, justice of the peace, the mayor, and signing paperwork will not be enough; you will have to make a separate trip where you have another wedding.  
No!  I'm really not kidding!

In essence, same-sex couples have to get divorced and remarried every time we move.

(It's possible there are exceptions to this.  I don't know of any.  Some states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, but none I know of recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions from other jurisdictions; and many domestic partnership laws and civil union laws are written to be invalid in any other state.)

Let me repeat that:

In essence, same-sex couples have to get divorced and remarried every time we move.

If you're a straight ally to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, does this idea come as a complete surprise to you?  A lot of people I've been talking to lately have been truly shocked to hear this.

And that has surprised me.

A true story of a real couple

Jane and Amy meet, fall in love, the whole nine yards.  They move in together.  They are led to marry.  They have a wonderful wedding in their Quaker meeting / Coven / Grove / backyard / church / synagogue / religious community, with lots of friends and family present.  

As part of their discernment process around marriage, they research how best to protect themselves, each other, and their family legally.

Their city has a domestic partnership law.  But it turns out it doesn't offer them any protection at all -- since neither of them is a City employee, it's just a piece of paper with the mayor's signature, saying they're domestic partners.  It won't let them visit each other in the hospital or make medical decisions for each other, for example, or give each other rights of survivorship if one should die.  Jane and Amy also realize that they feel a strong religious leading not to register a domestic partnership or civil union, because it's unequal treatment under the law; they feel led to wait for civil marriage.  So they don't register.

With an elder from their religious community, they do go to City Hall to apply for a marriage license, knowing they'll be turned down, to make a point.  City Hall clerks refuse to issue them even an application, on the grounds that they're a same-sex couple and therefore can't receive a marriage license.  

Jane and Amy do the next-best things to protect themselves and their family legally. They make their wills, their advance directives (living wills), and their health care and financial powers of attorney.  They have them witnessed and notarized.  They make sure there are copies with their doctors, their multiple cascading attorneys-in-fact, a number of friends and family members, and the office of their Quaker Meeting / church / synagogue / Coven / religious community.

Potential divorce #1

A couple of years go by.  Jane changes careers.  Jane and Amy move to City B, State B so that Jane can go to graduate school in her field in another state.  Amy no longer has insurance through her job, but she can get on Jane's insurance -- if they're registered as domestic partners in their new city.  Potential divorce #1.  In order to register as domestic partners in City B, they have to dissolve any pre-existing domestic partnerships -- even between the two of them -- in any other jurisdictions.  If they had registered as domestic partners in City A, they would now have to dissolve that domestic partnership in order to become domestic partners in City B.

Oh, and while they're at it, they should see a lawyer about the different laws in State B, and re-do their wills, their advance directives, and their health care and financial powers of attorney, then re-distribute the copies of the new ones.

Potential divorce #2; actual divorce #1 

Amy and Jane register as domestic partners in City B.  While they're living there, a statewide ballot initiative comes before the voters in State B to amend the state constitution to make all domestic partnership laws and domestic partner benefits illegal.  Potential divorce #2. 

It passes.  Actual divorce #1.  

Thanks to the work of Jane's employer, and that of many other employers across the state, Amy and many other same-sex partners still have health insurance -- and so do many of those couples' kids, since the ballot initiative also threatened to nullify many second-parent adoptions.

Jane finishes graduate school, and, like many early-career academics, lands a series of post-doctoral teaching and research jobs -- in different states.   

Potential divorce #3 

Jane and Amy move to City C, State C together.  State C has a reasonably strong domestic partnership law.  They don't need to register for Amy to have access to Jane's benefits as Jane's partner, they're going to be there a short time, and State C has a good history of hospitals, for example, honoring powers of attorney.  They don't have a leading to register or any practical reasons to do so.  They don't register.

However, if they had registered, and if the voters of State B hadn't dissolved it for them already, they would have had to dissolve their domestic partnership from City B first.  Potential divorce #3. 

They should also re-do their wills, their advance directives, and their health care and financial powers of attorney for State C, then re-distribute the copies of the new ones again.  

Potential divorces #4 and #5

Jane's job ends, and Jane and Amy move to City D, State D for her next job.

They should re-do their wills, their advance directives, and their health care and financial powers of attorney for State D, then re-distribute the copies of the new ones again.

State D has a civil union law that is court-mandated to offer all the benefits and obligations of marriage ("everything but marriage").  Amy and Jane are dubious.  It's still not marriage.  They've also heard stories of hospitals and employers refusing to recognize civil unions because they're not marriages. 

They check out the law.  It's pretty robust; in fact, it's identical to opposite-gender marriage in their state, with two exceptions -- it's called "civil union" instead of "marriage," and it's not recognized federally or by other states.  They look at the application and application process.  It's identical for all couples, regardless of the genders of the people involved. 

In spite of the limitations, they have some good practical reasons to do it.  They also begin to get the inkling of a leading to do it.  Hmmmm.

In order to register a civil union in State D (have you guessed it yet?), neither of them can be in a domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage with anyone (including each other) in any other jurisdiction.  Had the voters of State B not dissolved Amy and Jane's City B domestic partnership for them, Amy and Jane would have to do that now.  Potential divorce #4. 

If Amy and Jane had registered a legal/civil domestic partnership in State C, they would have to dissolve that now.   Potential divorce #5. 

But wait, there's more!

In order for their civil union to be legally binding, Jane and Amy have to have another ceremony.  They literally have to have another wedding.

Because one wasn't enough.

They complain, but they do it. 

Potential divorce #6  

Jane and Amy are about to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary.  (Of their first, religious wedding, the one with lots of people and joy and love and community.)

Jane also has a permanent job!  There is much rejoicing.

However, for Jane's new job, Amy and Jane have to move again.

Jane and Amy are in a civil union in the state they're living in now...

What do you think, dear readers?  Will they need to get divorced and remarried; will this be actual divorce number two?  Or by some chance and intersection of laws, since their civil union is nearly identical to marriage, will their civil union transfer? 

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

Keeping track of it all

I know people who keep a spreadsheet of their various domestic partnerships, civil unions, civil marriages, religious marriage if applicable, and the associated dates. 

And what about benefits that are dependent on the date a couple gets married?

No, this isn't equality.  No, this isn't justice.  No, this isn't full faith and credit, either. 

What would solve this

Marriage equality would solve this.

Legal, civil marriage for couples regardless of gender, recognized on the federal level, recognized in all states. 



      Thursday, May 19, 2011

      FLGBTQC travel assistance request deadline for FGC Gathering is May 20th

      The deadline to request travel assistance from FLGBTQC (Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns) for the 2011 FGC Gathering is May 20th.  

      Clerks are requesting help in getting the word out, since the newsletter will not be out before the deadline.

      If you need the contact information, please let me know.

      Friday, May 6, 2011

      The really fast version of Introduction to Feminist Theory?

      From a conversation in another on-line venue.  Thoughts?  

      So, here's a question: 

      I came to my understanding of dominant culture/minority oppression, connected oppressions, and power systems in society through learning feminist analysis. 

      I know other people have come to similar understandings through other avenues, as well. 

      Is there a quick way to communicate basic, essential information about power dynamics and oppression to people who don't have this understanding and who therefore think ALL of it is about equally-valid individual diversity, and not about power differentials? 

      How can I help people see the institutional power-over, dominant culture/minority oppression issues, more clearly, without taking them through Feminist Theory 101?


      Pagan Coming Out and Pagan Pride

      So, May 2nd is Pagan Coming Out Day.

      I know very little about the International Pagan Coming Out Day organization (http://pagancomingoutday.com/), so I don't really know how I feel about yet another Pagan holiday / movement borrowing words from / being named from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer movement.

      I am familiar, though, with the International Pagan Pride Project (http://paganpride.org/), which is an excellent organization, and which openly and gratefully acknowledges its debt to the work of the Gay Pride Movement and to all the lesbians, gay men, bisexual women and men, queer women and men, and transgender women and men who have gone before, paved the way, and provided inspiration for the Pagan Pride Movement. 

      Why are Pagan Pride and coming out important?

      They're important for the same reasons as for LGBTQ people, and as they are for the members of any minority group. 

      Visibility.  Survival.  Combating discrimination and prejudice.  Building community.  Building bridges.  Education -- sharing the truth with ourselves / each other and with people outside our community.  Equality.  Integrity.  Celebration and joy.  Honoring our fabulousness. 

      Yes, honoring our fabulousness.  Honoring and celebrating each other. 

      Acknowledging and honoring those who have died due to prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination, and working to end them. 

      Celebrating those of us who are alive, those who have gone before, those of us who work every day to make equality truth and not just words on paper, those of us who live every day in the world walking through our lives as Pagans, in the bright variety of Paganisms that exist all over the world.

      Thou art Goddess. 
      Thou art God. 
      Thou art Divine. 
      Thou art Sacred. 

      Thou art Fabulous. 

      Blessed be.

      Thursday, May 5, 2011

      Recommended article: Tape Flags and First Thoughts: Red Cedar's Experiment with Fragrance-Free Seating

      Tape Flags and First Thoughts: Red Cedar's Experiment with Fragrance-Free Seating
      Su Penn
      My Quaker meeting is working on accessibility issues related to fragrances, which some people (like me) have sensitivities to and which can also trigger or exacerbate migraines and asthma. It's been a surprisingly vexed conversation over the last six to nine months, and there are a lot of tender feelings...

      Anyway, one thing we're experimenting with is designationg one-fourth of the meeting room as fragrance-free seating. This was a hard decision to make...

      Blogging Against Disablism: Why I'm tired, why I'm sick, why I feel embraced

      When I first read about Blogging Against Disablism/Ablism Day, I knew I wanted to write something for it.

      I finally had some time to sit down and write this week, and I spent a little while sitting quietly, not thinking about much, not writing, just being.

      Letting my mind go out of focus, then bringing it back to my experience… what really comes to the forefront is just how tired I am.

      Tuesday, May 3, 2011

      Recommended article: Blogging Against Disablism Day: The political and the deeply personal

      Recommended article: Blogging Against Disablism Day: The political and the deeply personal

      One Blogging Against Disablism Day, I was struggling to update the archive page. When overwhelmed, cognitive dysfunction can deny me access to very basic bits of information – I have forgotten my own name before, let alone my address or telephone number. At this point, I was having trouble listing the contributions in alphabetical order – something lots of people might struggle with when tired. In particular, I couldn't for the life of me work out whether M came before N or vice versa. So I asked my then husband which came first.

      A brief exchanged followed. It was impossible that I couldn't remember which came first - I wasn't that stupid. I said that honestly, I couldn't remember, and reached for the dictionary, which I should have done first. Asking might have been quicker, but I had obviously picked a bad moment. My husband got up and punched the back of my laptop screen, cracking the case. For a moment I thought the screen was going to die and I would lose my computer in the middle of BADD. That's why I know what the date was...